31 August 2008

a pocket full of posies

Central Park (North Garden) / New York, New York
It's a beautiful Labor Day weekend in New York - perfect weather for an unofficial end of summer picnic. We have three little nieces (his, not mine) arriving this afternoon and have planned for a picnic in Central Park. While I expect some "ring around the rosie", there will be no rain in the forecast. And reflective of the afternoon, this statue is named "Three Dancing Maidens" and was sculpted in Germany sometime before 1910 and then came to the Garden as a gift of the Samuel Untermeyer Family in 1947.

30 August 2008

the surge and settle

The Crooked Knife (Murray Hill) / New York, New York
A couple of nights ago we went to The Crooked Knife, an Irish pub on East 30th between Park and Madison, where a friend through mutual acquaintance tends bar. The Crooked Knife serves Guinness on tap and since spending time in the UK, I've taken a liking to the creamy goodness that comes as a result of the unique surge and settle of the pour. We refer to them as "smooth smoothies". I've also become fascinated with pub names. Apparently, the naming of pubs became quite common by the 12th century - and with pub names came pub signs - as the majority of the population could not read or write. Pub signs were usually quite simple so that the name of the establishment could easily be interpreted. The Guinness - it was ok but you just can't get the same level of creamy goodness here in the States. And if you find yourself across the pond, look for Guinness Red- sweeter and creamier - and only available in select UK pubs.

29 August 2008

goose bumps

Bleeker St / New York, New York
I've always found the flowing lines of anything goose necked to be pleasing to the eye. These light fixtures over Grom Gelato on Bleeker St were no exception. The slight "retro-ness" of the shades combined with the angled rim back towards the storefront make for some very clean lines. The repetition makes me think of goose bumps. With the slight chill now slowly creeping into the evening air, those will not be far behind. I'm not ready.

28 August 2008

outside looking in

Brindley Place / Birmingham, United Kingdom
I spend a good bit of time in Birmingham for work reasons. While the city continues to shake its reputation as a dirty, dangerous, working class sort of place my impression of it is a revitalized, vibrant, multi-cultural center of the West Midlands with a good bit to offer. OK - so it's not London - but it doesn't try to be. A tremendous amount of investment has taken place in the city centre over the past 5-10 years and it is now teeming with restaurants, clubs and shops; many of which are situated dockside to the miles of picturesque canals threading through the city. It's a fun place. Did you know that Birmingham has more canals than Venice and more trees per person than any other city in Europe (neither of which I can substantiate but facts which I don't find totally unbelievable). And..the evening view of downtown from the outside deck is pretty good.

27 August 2008


National Museum of Finland / Helsinki, Finland
We arrived in Helsinki late on a cold March evening with snow in the forecast. Waking up to almost a foot of snow on the ground was not conducive to a day of sightseeing but we made the effort nonetheless. Coming upon what looked to be a medieval style church, we discovered was the National Museum. I was surprised to learn that the building was, in part, designed by Eliel Saarinen, father to the more famous architect Eero Saarinen, and opened to the public in 1916. After making a quick assessment, we decided not to pay the admission fee and go through - but I was able to capture this great image in the domed entrance hall.

26 August 2008

for emergen-z use only

Lower Midtown / New York, New York
The other day while walking from the East Village up to West 33rd Street, I came across this steel fire escape mounted on the face of a 5 story walk-up. Nothing unusual for a pre-war building in Manhattan - but with a relatively fresh coat of paint against a rather bland grey facade, all I could see was one "Z" after another. Typically, these steel structures are used for anything but their intended purpose. They are great places for cultivating your urban garden, hanging clothes to dry, using as a balcony to extend a cramped living space or for the particularly adventurous, sleeping on a hot summer evening.

25 August 2008

the wind behind my sails

Aboard the Royal Clipper / Somewhere in the Caribbean
Inspired by the legendary tall ship, Preussen - launched in 1902 and sailing for only a few years - the Royal Clipper is the only five-masted sailing tall ship built since then. We sailed the Clipper for a week around the Windward Islands of the Caribbean. The photo ops presented throughout the voyage both on land and at sea were fantastic.

24 August 2008

you're a superstar, yes, that's what you are

Port Elizabeth / Bequia, Grenadines
Upon arriving at the dock for boarding back on the tall ship that we were sailing through the Windward Islands of the Caribbean, we stumbled (literally) upon a group of kids having a great time doing what kids do so naturally. This guy was definitely not camera shy and had the moves of a superstar. But back to the stumbling part - Bequia is where we were introduced to St. Vincent Sunset VSR (very strong rum) at 84.5% alcohol. After consuming a "few", mumbling was overheard from the bar suggesting the need to call a priest for administration of last rites. Hey now, hey now - guys just wanna have fun - too!

23 August 2008

fruit or vegetable?

Rochester Public Market / Rochester, New York
In case you've been losing sleep over the perennial summer question of whether a tomato is a fruit or vegetable, this agonizing dilemma was settled by the US Supreme Court in 1893. The Court declared that the tomato was a vegetable and not a fruit.. BUT apparently only as it relates to tariff law in that there was a duty applied to imported vegetables but not fruits. Records indicate the Court's official interpretation was based on the popular dictionary definition at the time which classified a vegetable as an accompaniment to your main entré at dinner, but not eaten as a dessert. With today's trends in culinary weirdness, a court of law could no longer fall back on such a definition. Clearly, vegetable is a culinary term and not a botanical classification. Botanically-speaking, the tomato remains a fruit, or more precisely the berry of a flowering plant.

22 August 2008

all along the .. watertower

Upper West Side / New York, New York
Have I mentioned recently how beautiful the weather has been here in the city this summer? This shot was taken a couple of evenings ago looking out our hallway window on the 17th floor towards the Hudson River and westward. It was an incredible sunset - the perfect backdrop for a series of water towers synonymous with Manhattan, though most are no longer in use.

21 August 2008

good day sunshine

Conservatory Gardens @ Central Park / New York, New York
Yesterday was one of those incredibly beautiful "new york state of mind" days. After getting home from work, we took a walk around the north end of Central Park and down 5th Avenue to the Conservatory Gardens. It was there that I came across this bright yellow sunflower with a small bumble bee devouring pollen in an obvious state of ecstasy. You can't see it? Look in the upper left quadrant of the flower's head - it is completely covered with pollen.

20 August 2008

last call for hindon

Taieri Gorge Railway / South Island, New Zealand
We boarded the Taieri Gorge Limited in Dunedin and traveled across the South Island on an authentic steam train with carriages dating back to the 1920's. The scenery traveling through the gorge was spectacular, crossing sky-high iron aqueducts and riding rails that seemed perched on the edge of a precipice. The train made a quick stop in Hindon and, unsurprisingly, no one was waiting at the one room train station.

19 August 2008

a tangled web woven

Mount Cargill / Dunedin, New Zealand
A view from the ground looking up into the Mount Cargill television transmission tower, the tallest structure in Dunedin at 105 meters. The tower sits atop Mount Cargill (or Kapuka-taumahaka in Māori), a 680 meter high volcanic outcrop that dominates the skyline in this city of 125,000 on the South Island. The view of the Otago Peninsula and surrounding country from this point is incredible. And a bit of trivia - Dunedin's Baldwin Street is the steepest street in the world with a maximum slope of 35%.

18 August 2008

reflections on a western sky

West Side Highway / New York, New York
This is one of three 16-story glass towers designed by the architect Richard Meier which sits on the waterfront of the Hudson River across from the Christopher Street pier. For those not familiar with this pier, it is a beautiful grass and tree covered oasis jutting out into the river, populated with a constant parade of West Village uniqueness. Nothing brings a smile to my face quicker than a beautiful day in the city relaxing on the pier - especially when the dark ominous-looking clouds are staying on the western side of the Hudson over Jersey.

17 August 2008

the wilder sister

Christopher St (West Village) / New York, New York
After being separated at birth, the wilder sister is finally located doing window duty on Christopher Street, clearly with a fashion statement of her own (see my post of 31 July below). While having been influenced by life in the big city, this sister still maintains that distinctive wide grin, full of fun. Hanging out with the two of them would be lots of laughs.

16 August 2008

i love boobies

North Seymour Island / The Galapagos
Home to one of the largest populations of blue footed boobies, North Seymour was our first stop in sailing the southern Galapagos. Male blue-footed boobies are known for showing off their blue feet during the courtship dance, where they wildly flap their wings while picking up their feet in an exaggerated step-walk. This island is also home to the magnificent frigate bird which is capable of puffing up its scarlet throat sack to resemble a giant red balloon.

15 August 2008

conventional wisdom II

Washington Convention Center / Washington, DC
Superimpose picture A (below) over picture B (above) to get an idea of the visuals you might take in should you find yourself in the Washington Convention Center as I did not long ago accompanying my daughter Kate and company to a Paula Dean cooking demonstration ("home cooking that takes you back to mama's kitchen"). And while Paula's food will likely kill you, I do find her love of laughter intoxicating.

14 August 2008

conventional wisdom

Washington Convention Center / Washington, DC
Home to over 120 works of art including sculpture, painting, photography, mixed media and graphics, the Washington Convention Center houses the largest public art collection in Washington, DC. This suspended sculpture which occupies one of several architecturally dramatic public spaces within the Center, is titled Capital Stars by DC resident Larry Kirkland. It's an ok building for a public convention center - go to Chinatown for the dim sum and then swing by here for some free visual dessert - you're already in the neighborhood.

13 August 2008

the duke was gangsta

Just South of Harlem / Upper West Side, New York
How did they get there? Why did they get there? Or more importantly, who put them there? Are they gang markings or just some neighborhood bully taking a game of "keep away" too far? Regardless, once there, they do tend to make you just a bit more aware of your surroundings - warranted or not.

12 August 2008

sleeping with dragons

Suite 319 - ICEHOTEL / Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Where else but 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle can you sleep with dragons. The ICEHOTEL, constructed from huge ice blocks harvested from the Torne River, is a living art museum by day and a fully functioning hotel by night .. for 4 months every year. By mid-April, the last guests depart and the meltdown begins with the arctic sun blazing overhead. The cycle repeats itself year after year, with each new winter bringing a compelling new design pulled together from the contributions of talented artists around the world. And yes, it's cold - the hotel maintains a constant minus 5-7 °C inside. But to be woken up in the morning and served warm lingonberry juice bedside chases any lingering chills away. Truly unforgettable.

11 August 2008

form follows function

Sunbury Great House Plantation / St. Philip, Barbados
The intricate formation on the margin of this leaf caught my eye while walking on the grounds of the Sunbury Great House sugar plantation originally built in 1660. It would appear that the tooth-type things are where tiny new blooms form but their unique shape and positioning makes me suspect they serve a more important function, as well.

10 August 2008

dance of light

Széchenyi lánchíd (Chain Bridge) / Budapest, Hungary
Arriving in Budapest on a cool Thanksgiving eve, we were pleasantly greeted with a spectacular view of the Chain Bridge from our hotel window located on the west bank or Buda side of the River Danube. The bridge opened in 1849 and was the first permanent bridge across the Danube linking Buda and Pest. And while I suspect turkey is not a staple of the Hungarian diet - we were able to celebrate the day with turkey, mashed potatoes and goulash at a great little restaurant called Angelika.

09 August 2008

freedom of choice

Auschwitz II - Birkenau / Auschwitz, Poland
Approaching the Birkenau concentration camp, the most horrific of the three death camps located in Auschwitz, the division of the tracks perhaps conveys an element of choice. Sadly, any choice these innocent men, women and children had was removed long before they arrived here - their lives forever taken away. It is said that at least 960,000 Jews, 75,000 Poles, and some 19,000 gypsies were systematically exterminated at Birkenau.

08 August 2008

iron man

Castle Cornet / St. Peter Port, Guernsey
Castle Cornet is a beautiful stone structure situated at the outer end of a breakwater protecting St. Peters Port harbor on the Bailiwick of Guernsey, a British Crown dependency located off the coast of Normandy, France. The castle was originally built in the early 1200's and has seen several reconstructions since that time. But what truly caught our eye were these iron male (obviously) statues strategically placed in locations around the castle and its surrounding wall. I have been unable to find out anything about them other than they were designed by Antony Gormley. Odd juxtaposition of historic structure vs stylistic human form - but it seems to work.

07 August 2008

for ever friends

Old Town City Centre / Bucharest, Romania
Bucharest, at one time known as "Little Paris", is an edgy city with an eclectic mix of architecture ranging from 17th century to Communist-era to modernism. The bombing of the historic city centre during World War II, combined with Ceausescu's failed urban redevelopment program in the 1970's and 80's which ultimately ended in a violent coup, has resulted in pockets of destruction that still remain today. Yet the warmth and energy of the city perseveres.

06 August 2008

yellow taxi

Washington Square Park / Greenwich Village, New York
The marble arch, designed by the New York architect Stanford White and modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, was erected just inside the northern boundary of the park in 1892. And the yellow taxi - a street shot of New York wouldn't be complete without one.

05 August 2008

polish hospitality

Old Town / Warsaw, Poland
Despite the variety of implied suggestions by the signage, we found the Polish to be extremely warm and friendly people - and Old Town Warsaw was beautiful and authentic in its reincarnation with most of it having been destroyed during World War II. And most surprising, it would appear that it has not yet been discovered by the hordes of tourists so unavoidable in Europe these days - hooray!

04 August 2008

diá de mercado

Outdoor Market / Quito, Ecuador
Given the choice of freshly butchered chicken or guinea pig (locally know as cuy), the chicken was definitely the more appetizing of the two. Cuy is served grilled as a favorite dish of the Andean people. One little old woman was wandering around the market pulling live squirming guinea pigs out of her pocket, trying to find a happy dinner table for them.

03 August 2008

post modern blues (and browns)

Westin Hotel / Midtown, New York
Hailed as a key component of the renaissance of Times Square, the Westin New York hotel is striking in color and geometry under the warm glow of a setting sun.

02 August 2008

the midas touch

Times Square / Midtown, New York
A look at the top of the sign for Madame Toussaud's Wax Museum on West 42nd St from the 5th floor outside deck of the AMC Empire 25 movie theatre - the city's largest megaplex with 5 (maybe 6?) floors of cinematic indulgence.

01 August 2008

wind beneath their wings

Nauset Beach / Cape Cod, Massachusetts
This afternoon I took my parents for one last drive down Route 6A and cast their ashes to the wind on Nauset Beach - a special place with many years of memories for them - it was a picture perfect day - may they now be together for eternity with the wind beneath their wings.