November 30, 2015

Tucson. November, 2015

Oh, hello there. I was happy to see this mountain lion in Tucson's' Desert Museum recently. Even happier that the open-air enclosure insured that the animal was kept at a safe distance. Here, kitty! Not.

November 29, 2015

Valletta, Malta. November, 2015

What's wrong with this picture? The capital of Malta abounds with interesting store signage in a wealth of old typefaces. But there's something jarring to me about the imposition of newer signage that has sprouted along the city's main street. See for yourself.

November 28, 2015

Napoli. October, 2015

It's nice to be known for something.

November 27, 2015

Tucson. November, 2015

You are not allowed to take photos within the Center for Creative Photography. Which is what accounts for the poor quality of this shot I sneaked when no one was looking. I had to. It is a photograph (Double Self-Portrait) by our old friend Arthur Tress. Jay had first met him almost 40 years ago in Provincetown where Arthur had taken some "art photos" of him. I met him when he came to visit us in Cambridge a few years later. During that visit (I remember his exclaiming from an upper room "Che musica, signore!" when I put on the soundtrack from The Godfather, Part II), Arthur had asked me to pose clad only in my Jockeys on the grand staircase in Harvard's Widener Library in front of the beautiful Sargent murals there. I was too shy at the time and now regret not having agreed to it. Sadly, we've lost touch.

November 26, 2015

Gloucester, MA. October, 2015

During my early-morning arrival one day last month, I stopped to photograph these seven wild turkeys disporting themselves on a neighbor's lawn. Bold things, really, when you consider that this is a time of year that they might have been a little bit more cautious about strutting their stuff in such a public way. Happy Thanksgiving.

November 25, 2015

Tucson. November, 2015

Even though new and trendy restaurants are blossoming aplenty in Tucson, there's still room for longstanding old-school fare. Like that offered here at Caruso's on 4th Avenue. I love their sign, standing proudly above all the hookah parlors, the head shops, the hipsters on the most unconventional thoroughfare in town. And I love the term "pizza pie," which is what we called it when I was growing up in New Jersey.

November 24, 2015

Leaving Palermo. October, 2015

On every Windstar cruise we've been on, we've always met some extraordinarily nice people with whom to pal around. Like Marsha here, waving up to me from the pool deck. And, left of her, smiling Eve. And just in front of her, camera-shy Gail. (Have no idea who the woman in the foreground is.) All three of these London ladies had worked in the music industry (Chrissie Hynde, Pink Floyd) and had some wonderful tales. We were sure to see them each day at around 4pm when tea was offered. I remember hearing Gail say that she was going for a "cuppa" and a "bickie." Plus, they knew who my late friend Coral Browne was, so I could download all of my stories about her. Can't you tell from this photo how fun-loving they are?

November 23, 2015

Agrigento, Sicily. October, 2015

I'd been to the Valley of the Temples twice before -- once on my own in 1984 and again with my friend Nick in 1988. But this time, a guided tour was offered gratis as part of our Sicily-Malta cruise on Windstar. It was a hot day. And our guide was a non-stop chatterbox. (Chiachiarone is one of the first words I learned in Italian, and it applied here. Or, as my friend Diane's late and beloved mother would say, "His mouth did not shut up.") It turned out to be a long day. Still, we did find the occasional bit of shade and the time to take a photo.

November 22, 2015

Catania, Sicily. October, 2015

Dr. Jay (Julian) misses no opportunity to honor his patron saint. This time, at the university here in Sicily's second-largest city. And, what a coincidence, it looks as if San Giuliano's namesake palace was built in the very year of Dr. J's birth.

November 21, 2015

November 20, 2015

Tucson. November, 2015

Two of the many participants we met at this year's All Souls Procession. The little girl was shy at first when I asked if I could take their picture. But, as you can see, she quickly acquiesced.

November 19, 2015

November 18, 2015

Tucson. November, 2015

If you say so... Actually, this reminds me of every company I've worked for (public television, Bose, etc.) where some whiz kid would come up with an idea to appeal to "a younger demographic." And none of the ideas ever worked. My favorite was when 'Masterpiece Theatre' decided to go for "a younger demographic" by featuring programs based on the works of Jane Austen. Good luck with that.

November 17, 2015

Gloucester, MA. October, 2015

Oh, poor Mr. Whynott. A windy and rainy overnight storm found his election poster soggy and run over in the middle of the street. A placard for his earlier run for election had employed the catchphrase "Why not Bob?" I don't think he won. (Mr. Whynott, or maybe his father, was the justice of the peace at our quick 35-second wedding. We had chosen him entirely on the basis of his name. Why not?)

November 16, 2015

Gloucester, MA. October, 2015

As an ad writer in a former life, I was always drawn to using questions in the copy. I believe that a question engages the reader and forces him or her (consciously or unconsciously) to answer. Maybe that's why I like this spin on a traditional "Beware of the Dog" sign that I saw in our neighborhood recently.

November 15, 2015

Watertown, MA. October, 2015

Observe the witch-hazel. Green leaves turned golden. And blossoms like fireworks against the cloudy autumn surroundings. As the Brooklyn Botanic Garden tells us, "American witch-hazel has a number of traits that help it steal the limelight, including smooth gray bark, attractive architecture, and colorful fall foliage. But the real showstopper comes when you least expect it. As November approaches and most respectable plants have dropped their leaves and gone to seed, Hamamelis virginiana bursts forth in floristic splendor. Clusters of small, pale yellow blooms, each with four streamerlike petals, hug the twigs. Some flowers may linger on the branches into December." I've even seen them reappear in February and March. How respectable is that?

November 14, 2015

Catania, Sicily. October, 2015

It's no wonder the Italians prepare so many terrific dishes with artichokes when beauties like these are available daily in the markets.

November 13, 2015

Watertown, MA. October, 2015

Autumn is my favorite season. Always has been. And here's one reason why: Look at this beautiful view from my front hall window that I'm treated to many times each day. Or at least until the leaves fall off and blow away...which they no doubt have done by the time you read this.

November 12, 2015

Napoli. October, 2015

Inside Napoli's duomo, there is a chapel to San Gennaro, the city's patron saint. And inside the chapel is this silver, vestment-adorned bust of the saint himself. As I learned, this reliquary contains not only bones of the saint, but also a vial of his dried blood. Several times a year, the blood liquifies (usually on September 19, the saint's feast day, but recently in the presence of the visiting Pope Francis.) I love stuff like this.

November 11, 2015

Sliema, Malta. October, 2015

I was killing time before a nearby meeting, just sitting on a bench on this seaside promenade, when I noticed these two Maltese young men, talking, lounging, smoking. And I thought that Italian men were the experts at posing! I had to take a picture.

November 10, 2015

Napoli. October, 2015

As I was walking along the seaside promenade from our ship to a church in which there was a Caravaggio I'd never seen, a crew arrived at this billboard and started to remove layers and layers of postings. Here's some of what their efforts revealed.

November 9, 2015

Palermo. October, 2015

Even though we only had a few hours in this largest of Sicilian cities, it was enough for us to visit the opera house (setting for the finale of 'The Godfather, Part III') and a nearby outdoor market. Look at these beauties on display.

November 8, 2015

Trapani, Sicily. October, 2015

As I write this in Tucson, I'm surrounded by prickly pear cactus at almost every turn. All green. None of them sporting the colorful fruit seen on offer here in this Sicilian market. These autumn hues remind me of the trees turning color back home in New England. (Have you ever eaten a prickly pear? All seeds.)

November 7, 2015

Catania, Sicily. October, 2015

The best show in town here is the daily fish market. Even though this little girl's pout might make you think she doesn't agree. In all fairness, her father had plopped her down in the middle of the offerings and she was suddenly crowded by well-wishers and the otherwise curious. (I was not the only one taking pictures of you'll see when she makes a reappearance on this blog in the future.)

November 6, 2015

Watertown, MA. October, 2015

I'm drawn to graveyards. In Paris, New Orleans, Mexico, even here in my town. Don't you think they look their best in autumn?

November 5, 2015

Off the coast of Trapani, Sicily. October, 2015

We can never go to Sicily without buying some arancini. This lovely example is from a bakery just next to Trapani's daily fish market. It's one of two brought back to our boat to supplement our lunch. We gave its twin to our onboard friends Marsha & Co, three London ladies who had never heard of this Sicilian specialty, much less eaten one.

November 4, 2015

Catania, Sicily. October, 2015

It wouldn't be a trip to Italy without at least several pictures of artichokes. Here's a vendor of same in Catania's bustling daily fish, meat and produce market, which operates, as one neighborhood lady kindly informed me during our conversation, "tutti i giorni."

November 3, 2015

Valletta, Malta. October, 2015

Dr. Blake asks, "Why do your photographs always make me look old, tired and mad?" Why, indeed? I shall take the high road. (But, in all fairness, we had just climbed hundreds of stairs to get from our ship in port to the top of this fortressed city.)

November 2, 2015

Watertown, MA. October, 2015

Today is All Souls Day, known in most Latin countries as the Day of the Dead. And while we Yankees don't do it up in quite the extravagant way that the Latinos do, there are a few imaginative touches you can find here north of the border. Like these three skeletons frolicking on a porch in a neighborhood near my home. (For my real Day of the Dead indulgence though, I head to Tucson and its All Souls Procession. Watch this space for upcoming photos from this year's procession.)

November 1, 2015

Valletta, Malta. October, 2015

Today is All Saints Day (aka All Hallows; last night was its eve/e'en.) And while it's a day on which we revere all saints, I'm choosing Saint Rita for a special shout out today. After all, she is the patron saint of bakers. This is a family shrine to her (just off Old Bakery Street no less) that I passed in my ramblings a few weeks ago. There's even a little coin slot for donations at the bottom.