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It’s all about the light…

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“Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.”

~ George Eastman

So today was my day off. Sort of. I had off of work (in the traditional sense) but I had tons to do, including work for school, which I’ve recently enrolled. Anyhow, as a de-stresser I thought I’d head to the waterfront on this first day of autumn and have a few beers and take a few photos. I’ve been to this location more times to count, and you’ve seen many of the photos. So tonight I did something different, in a way. I’ve been fascinated with sunset photos for quite some time…how the light changes and how you can manipulate the light with the camera settings (I’m in love with long exposure). Anyhow, I set my camera on a tripod at sunset, focused it, and took the same shot every ten minutes for an hour. When it became too dark, I put the camera away, ordered another beer, and just watched the boats pass in the night. And that was the true de-stresser🙂 Click any photo for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Five or nine quotes from Leonard Cohen (and a video, too).

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“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”

“Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as a secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.”

“How can I begin anything new with all of yesterday in me?”

“I don’t consider myself a pessimist. I think of a pessimist as someone
who is waiting for it to rain. And I feel soaked to the skin.”

“If you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick every day.”

“Reality is one of the possibilities I cannot afford to ignore”

“The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show.”

“My reputation as a ladies’ man was a joke that caused me to laugh bitterly through the ten thousand nights I spent alone.”

More Five Quotes.

Urban Simplicity.

Au revoir l’été (goodbye summer)…

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The first leaves fall

Change color

Drift in warm breeze

The sun

It shifts in the sky

Taking a different view

Shadows grow longer

Nights earlier

Cooler

But the days are warm

Your hand still lingers

Slightly

As you loosen your grip

Slowly slipping away  

And your cousin, Autumn

Once a distant thought

Is now in full view

But it is now you

Summer

Who are retreating

And will soon be a memory

Like so many summers before you

A sweet warm memory

Au revoir mon ami

Nine. Eleven. Red. White. Blue.

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So this is the tippy top of our incredibly beautiful city hall. It’s lit up red, white, and blue tonight in remembrance of 9/11. I had been to the waterfront this evening taking photos and was on my way home when this stopped me in my tracks. Like many Americans (and probably non-Americans alike) I’ve been thinking a lot about 9/11 today…and how it changed things. It was our loss of innocence in many ways. Everyone has their stories about where they were when they first heard about it. But my most personal story came the day after, when details of the people who perished began to be announced. One of the planes carried children. Half a classroom is what I remember them saying. I can’t remember if they were on their way to Washington or New York (with parents, teachers, and chaperones) but at the time they were the same age as my son, who is now in his twenties. I was at home and when I heard this news I remember literally crumbling to the ground. I also remember yelling–cursing–at God. How could you let this happen?! I yelled. What kind of God are you? And then as days and weeks passed I heard of the heroic actions that not only professionals did but also everyday citizens. Some of them lost their own lives trying to save others. As this was the conversation of nearly everyone for so long, I also remember hearing a conversation in the steam room at the local JCC where I steam and swim. Two older gentlemen were talking about this terrible event and one finally blurted out–almost wailed–“Where is God, where is He during this?” After a really long pause–an uncomfortably long pause–the other person said, almost whispered, “God is in the response. God is in the response to all of this. We can either choose hatred or we can choose love. And I want to choose love,” this man continued. “I want to help any way I can, even if it is simply sitting in a steam room and discussing this.” I personally was not at this horrific event, nor did I lose someone close to me in it. But I mourn them. They were part of us and we part of them. We can either choose hatred or we can choose love. And today I choose love. Our country–if not the world–is broken. And we need to fix it. If we want to survive as a species, it’s the only way. Seriously. We don’t need to “like” everyone, but we do need to love them as fellow citizens on this rock we call earth. It really is the only way. Love.

Three Evenings. Six Photos.

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So I had to work this past weekend. All of it. This, of course, is not unusual for someone in the food-service industry. It’s the norm, actually. But for some reason this past weekend bothered me more than usual. It was Labor Day weekend, it was beautiful weather, and I felt like having off work. But alas I did not. With this said, I luckily work early morning/afternoon hours which allowed me to have much of the evenings free. So I rode to our waterfront–which is a mere 2 miles from my front door–where there is an outdoor bar with music and one of the best views in the city. In a way I was pretending that I had the holiday weekend off. So I’d sip my beer and snap photos in the ever-changing view in front of me and watch the sun set over the Canadian shoreline. And as the light changed so did the view. I snapped probably 100 photos, but these are a few of my favorites. The sky was crystal clear each evening, and the setting new moon present. In the second to last photo the planet Venus is also visible. And in the bottom photo is a silhouette of a local tall ship, the Spirit of Buffalo. Anyhow, being there on the water really soothed me; it’s just what I needed…a sort of visual therapy. Click any photo for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Things that can be carried on a bike (#706)…

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Boxes and totes containing photos of various sizes. Also, a camera bag, a pair of pants, a pair of shoes, and two slices of pizza.

Postscript: I was bringing home what remained of my photo show at a local gallery. The good news is that I was bringing home a lot less that what I initially took to the show…meaning, a lot of the photos sold. Thank you to everyone who attended–either the night of the opening or throughout the month–and especially those who purchased photos.

Urban Simplicity.

Bicycling Through Thin Space…

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Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia.”

~H.G. Wells

The day before last I walked my bike out of my living-room in predawn hours and down the plank on my front porch that serves as a sort of ramp. I’ve used this ramp system for about ten years, since first injuring my back and unable to carry even my lightest bike up the short flight. Thankfully, since then, my back has healed. But since riding cargo bikes almost exclusively, which tend to be heavy even without cargo, the ramp has become the norm. And on this morning after walking the bike down the ramp I stood there for a couple minutes. It was not yet light and there was a crescent moon in the sky with Saturn and Jupiter visible. It was already humid; dampness hung in the summer’s air.

I was not looking forward to the day, I knew what I was walking into at work…another very busy and understaffed day. How many kitchens have I rushed around in, I wondered, as I stood there. The story of my life…hot bustling kitchens. But as I stood there gazing at the sky I was in awe. I felt small, and I felt stupid for worrying about my petty issues. But still I was not looking forward to the day ahead of me. So I whispered a prayer as I stood there in the predawn darkness in front of my house. I asked the Universe to show me Her beauty, to remove my fear and replace it with Her love. Then, knowing that it was already there and available for me—that all I had to do was accept it—I finished with thank you. And I hopped on my bike.

With the first push of my pedals I, in the early silence, could hear a squeak that I’ve been meaning to tend to, and it annoyed me as I hadn’t yet. My middle-aged body felt tired. After working evenings for decades I have still not adjusted to these early morning hours. I do not get enough sleep. And my legs were sore as I pushed through the humid darkness. But then as I let it go, the wet air felt good on my skin. As I rounded a corner seagulls fought for a scrap of something in the street. There was a person rummaging in a trash bin for cans, and hearing me coming (probably my squeak) he looked up and our eyes met. I nodded, suggesting a greeting. My problems are not real problems, I thought to myself, as I pushed up a slight incline.

My route to work is a direct one, mostly a straight line, and a main thoroughfare in the neighborhood. The commute is just shy of two miles and is often bustling with cars and people, but predawn it is quiet, except for the seagulls. While I pedaled I couldn’t take my eyes off the moon which hung low in the summer sky. I’d catch glimpses of it between buildings as it slowly set beyond the horizon, signaling the beginning of another day.

Sometimes—not always but sometimes—bicycling, for me, can be a meditative experience. Especially in the early morning hours. And on this day it was. I was conscious of my leg muscles pushing the pedals, and of my breath which sought oxygen to fuel my body. And even the sweat which now cling to my back and ran down my brow, in an effort to cool my middle-aged body. I was both the engine and the cargo. Over the years I have come to believe that we as humans do not have mystical experiences, but rather we—who are eternal souls—are mystical beings having human experiences. Thus, when we feel some sort of mystery or unexplainable experience we are actually remembering our True Self, what it is like to be whole. The veil is lifted, if even for just a brief second, but that is enough.

And as I pedaled and huffed and puffed my way to work, I was aware of the moon setting to my left while the first glimpse of light from the rising sun began to show to my right. A continuing and never ending cycle. For just a second or two it was as if nothing mattered and there were nothing to worry about…all there was, was that very minute. The past was just that, past, and the future was not yet here. Just now, that’s all there was. But then, just as with any mystical experience (or what I like to call, non-experience), I thought about it, and it was gone.

I’ve also come to believe that, to me, bicycling can actually be a form of spiritual practice, where I can experience what the Celts refer to as “thin space,” where the line between the seen and unseen blur. A glimpse to what is real. And on this morning I felt it. Knew it. Does this happen every time I hop on my bike? No, of course not. Rarely, actually. If it did I would never get off the bike. But it can, I know this.

When I arrived outside work to lock up the bike I was soaked with sweat, my body was doing what it was built to do. I was still dreading the day, but now much less. I had asked the Universe to show me Her beauty, to remove my fear, and She did. I knew now that no matter what happened, no matter what transpired throughout the day, nothing could harm me. That everything would be okay. And it was.

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