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On the waterfront…

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Today I went down to Buffalo’s Outer Harbor in search of the elusive snowy owl that has taken up home in Western New York. And no, I did not ride my bike the six miles each way in these frigid temperatures, I used Buffalo Car Share. To be honest, I actually contemplated it but am glad I did not…the high today was like 15F and when I got to the shore of the lake the wind was so strong that I had to lean into it and brace myself to take a photo…my hands were frozen (as I took my leather mitts off to adjust and snap the camera) and I had to remember to hold the lens cap (which is attached to the camera by a string) or the wind would whip it around and it would smack me in the side of the head. Thus said, I have to admit that it was nice to find refuge in the warmth of a car in between photos. But alas, I did not see a snowy owl…or a fox, or a coyote, or a deer, or a falcon, or an eagle (all of which live in the area). In fact, the only “animals” I did see were other photographers in search of snowy owls. But, despite the wind burning and bone chilling cold, I really enjoyed myself and was in awe of the power of Mother Nature, and was (and still am) thankful to live in proximity to such an incredible natural resource (it’s a 20 minute bike ride in nicer weather). Anyhow, click any photo for a slightly larger view.


Urban Simplicity.

A few things I saw while walking and riding my bike recently (before the snow)…

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Urban Simplicity.

A cold evening ride and a few things that I saw…

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Last evening after I left work–after rushing around a busy kitchen all day–I really needed some fresh air and the evening felt so crisp and nice I grabbed my camera and went for a brief ride. I headed down to Canalside because I wanted to see the brand new ice rink that just opened. While there I rode through the Naval Park and past the USS Croaker (pictured below), and on my way home I rode down desolate and quiet Main Street, which is currently being rehabbed to bring cars back but also inclusive to bicycles and pedestrians (second from the bottom). Anyhow, the ride was just what I needed, and I thought I’d share some of the pictures I took along the way. Click any for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Specialists in take out orders, a manger wrapped in plastic on the sidewalk, and nine other things I saw while walking…

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Urban Simplicity.

A few photos, a few words, and a bit of synchronicity…

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“Coincidences may seem strange, but they are never a result of caprice. They are orderly laws in the spiritual life of man [or women]. They affect and influence our lives profoundly.”

~Norman Vincent Peale

I went on a bike ride this morning through Buffalo’s East Side. This is not unusual, I do this relatively frequently as I enjoy the history. And some of my own family’s personal history as well. But I’m jumping ahead as I often do. All of these are shot on Genessee Street, which is a main corridor through the East side. Both sides of my family lived on streets off this street at some point. The image below is of the Baltimore Fish and Oyster Company, which one of my aunts operated in the 60’s and 70’s. And above is the small wooden church that my family–including me as an infant–worshiped at. Ahh, but I’m jumping ahead again. Sorry. I’ll start over. This morning I slept in and missed worship at the church of which I am currently a member. I had intended to go but it just didn’t happen. So I went out for coffee and did a bit of journaling. And as I wrote I reflected on how today–the second Sunday of Advent–was the anniversary of my returning to church regularly as an adult (it’s been 10 or 12 years I think). I don’t want to get into my personal stuff too greatly, but I was thinking of how finding my way to this church, particularly our meditation group, has had such an incredible effect on my life…and in many respects actually saved it. Anyhow, being in a reflective mood I thought I would go for a ride and take some photos. And then I found myself standing in front of the above church. As I stood peering through my view finder, it dawned on me that–given my birthday is in November–it was likely around this time that as an infant my parents first started to take me to church…this church. So after snapping a few photos and lowering the camera I stood there on this brisk December morning and pictured the neighborhood back then and my parents with their three little children entering the church (I am one of four…my younger sister would not have been born at this time). Alright, so I’ll cut to the chase. I thought of this on the ride home, and arriving there I checked some family records. As it turns out it was on this date 53 years ago that I was in fact Baptized in this church. So I can only ask myself (and the Universe), what led me to this church today to take photos…more than five decades after my baptism but on the same day. And what led me to my current church on this day 10 or 12 years ago. Anyhow, my head is starting to hurt. I’ll get of my New Age soapbox now. Enjoy the photos.

Urban Simplicity.

Tofu…Buffalo-Style

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Okay, so first a few things. One thing that I have to get off my chest straight away is that this is not Buffalo-Style Tofu…it doesn’t exist. It seems anything that is fried and spicy these days is tagged as “Buffalo-Style.” But I will say that these crispy little morsels are addictingly delicious. Also, as I’ve mentioned on many previous occasions, I am not a vegetarian but am always looking for non-meat options. Thus said, are these any more healthy than chicken wings? Maybe, but who knows. They are still fried (and before you comment or email to ask, yes these can be baked and would be equally flavorful just not as crispy). But it’s okay to indulge now and again, right? And don’t forget to serve them with blue cheese dressing and celery and carrot sticks (if you want to go all out “Buffalo-style”), or eat them over a salad with blue cheese dressing as I did today (yum!). Anyhow, these are really easy to make–just a few ingredients–and so delicious even a tofu hater will like them.

Buffalo-Style Tofu Nuggets

1 (14 oz.) extra firm tofu

1 cup Franks hot sauce

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons granulated onion

2 teaspoons granulated garlic

oil for pan-frying

Drain the tofu and remove it from its package. Place the tofu between two plates and allow it to gently press out some of its moisture for about twenty minutes. Then dice the tofu and place it in a shallow pan. In a separate bowl, mix together the hot sauce, cornstarch, onion, and garlic, making sure that the cornstarch is fully dissolved. Pour this mixture over the tofu and gently lift and move it to insure that is fully coated. Allow it to marinate for about 20 minutes. Then remove the tofu from it’s marinade to a clean plate. Heat about 1/2” vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. And when the oil is hot carefully add the marinated tofu. Fry for about 5 minutes, turning as necessary, or until golden and crispy. Transfer the crispy tofu with a slotted spoon to absorbent paper.

Beautiful decay…a few things I saw while riding my bike yesterday

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The city of Buffalo is really something. It has such an incredible and important history in our country, but it has also fallen on hard times in previous decades. These days it is n the upswing, but there is still decay. Primarily on the East Side. And that’s primarily where I like to go on urban bike rides as of late. If you have any sort of Buffalo family lineage that dates back more than a couple generations chances are you have roots on the East Side of Buffalo. The German/French side of my family arrived here somewhere in the mid 1800’s (or earlier) and lived on the East Side for generations, and the Lebanese Side of my family migrated here around 1920 and also lived on the East Side for generations. I have done some minor geology research and it’s interesting to locate houses where ancestors once lived (some houses are gone and are vacant lots) and other locations. The image above, for example, is of the now shuttered and fenced off St. Ann’s Church and Shrine, a place where my family worshiped for generations before I could even have been imagined. Anyhow, I’ll stop waxing on about it. But I have to add, that while so many are “down” about the condition of this area of the city, I have to say that I find it not only really beautiful but also peaceful. Click any photo for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

A few things I saw while riding my bike today, and a few words, too…

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“There is a time for everything,

 and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

~ Ecclesiastes 3:1  

So a couple things. This may be the most photos that I’ve posted at one time (at least in a while), but I couldn’t help myself…I enjoyed them all. Autumn is my favorite season. And also, these are actually in response to a thought I’ve had recently regarding being car-free. When one is without a car in a northeastern climate such as the one in which I reside, I find that when the weather is foul my world becomes small (cold, wet rain is my nemesis). But, on the other hand, when the weather is nice I find myself relishing in it…rejoicing even. Thus was the case today. It has been chilly and rainy for the past couple days–making it somewhat miserable to travel by bike–but today was an idyllic autumn day. So on my way to the community center for a steam and swim I took the long way…the really long way. I rode around beautiful Delaware Park and snapped a few pictures. It was so nice out…perfect, really. I love the days when they are cool, crisp, and sunny. There really is nothing like a northeastern autumn day. Anyhow, I’ll stop waxing about it. Click any photo for a somewhat larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

The view from my handlebars on a crisp autumn evening…

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Urban Simplicity.

The view from the kitchen window and a few other images of autumn…

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Urban Simplicity.

Water and Light…

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As I type these words it is a rainy and blustery day outside. But a mere two days ago–when these photos were taken it was more like a late summer evening. I had ridden my bike down to the waterfront to capture the sunset and have a couple beers, and as the sun set over Canada–like the enormous fireball in the sky that it is–the light kept changing, and it was incredible. I snapped a bunch of photos, but these are a few of my favorites. Click any for a somewhat larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

A few things I saw while riding my bike yesterday…

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Urban Simplicity.

Moon Stalker…

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Okay. So first of all I have to apologize for all the moon photos. But I really couldn’t help myself. If you saw the super moon you know what I am talking about. It was just so incredibly beautiful. This is really a continuation of this post, where I went out and took photos in the moonlight while standing on the Michigan Avenue Bridge. The photos on this page were actually shot over the course of two night, all from the same vantage point of the Bird Island Pier but at different times and using different camera adjustments. The only three photos that were not facing east towards Buffalo are pretty obvious in this group…two below this text is an image of the point where Lake Erie spills into the very mouth of the Niagara river and begins it’s 25 mile trek to the Falls, and below that is the Peace Bridge, and the last photo is the sunset looking west at Canada. Sorry again if I’m boring you with so many photos…it’s so peaceful out there on the pier at night and I shot more than a hundred photos. These are just a few of my favorites. Click any for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

View(s) from my handlebars, while on a bridge…

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I went out tonight to take photos of the super, super-moon (and yes I know it is two days early but it still looked pretty cool), and I rode down to the historic Michigan Avenue Lift Bridge, which crosses the Buffalo River. I had nice views of both sides, the most difficult part was having to wait for traffic as the bridge bounced and would blur the photos. Anyhow, here’s a few of my favorites.

Urban Simplicity.

Stalking Lucille…

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Okay. So first a couple of things. Lucille is not a person, it is this bird…a great blue heron. I posted about her somewhat recently here. And to be honest I am not sure if Lucille is even a female bird, I just named her that because she (it) looks so incredibly graceful. She nests somewhere on Bird Island Pier (click here to see a map). I first got a glimpse of her last year when I was out taking these photos of the Peace Bridge at night. I was riding my bike back up the breakwall and as I passed her she flew in front of me and I almost fell of my bike (its a bit creepy being out there by yourself at night). Anyhow, I went out there again today in search of her…and yes she was there. And she toyed with me (I really believe this). She would let me get about (I’m guessing) 50 feet from her, close enough to snap her photo, then fly off and land down the wall. And then the same scenario would take place. To get a clearer picture of this breakwall (if you haven’t been here), there is about a two mile “public” section that is somewhat maintained that runs parallel with the Niagara River and the Black Rock Channel and it juts out into Lake Erie. But where the public area ends it keeps going for another mile or so. And this is where it gets really interesting…sort of feral. I ride my bike to the end of the public area, lock it to a railing, and walk the rest of the way out. It’s un-maintained, crumbling, and full of birds (hence it’s name). It is narrow for most of the way (as seen in some of the photos), and you have to descend and ascend broken areas, but it widens out at the end (as pictured in the first image below). The photo below is taken at the very end of the pier looking back. Even though it is only about 1/4 mile off shore it is quite literally another world; it is quite breathtaking. I was so overwhelmed at its beauty all I could do was sit down and pray, mediate, and give thanks. When I opened my eyes after meditation I half-expected Lucille to be sitting next to me, but she remained elusive. I hope you enjoy the photos.

Urban Simplicity.

A few things I saw while riding my bike today…

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Urban Simplicity.

The Peace Bridge in the Evening…

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I shot these while out on a bike ride this evening. I have been in love with Buffalo’s waterfront this summer. It runs along two sides of the city and is so easily accessible by bike and is such a sanctuary. For those who are reading this from other parts of the country or world, the Peace bridge is the bridge that crosses the Niagara River from Buffalo, NY to Fort Erie, ON, connecting the United States and Canada. And this is right in my back yard. The top and bottom images were shot from the exact same location (from the lift bridge over the Black Rock Channel) but and hour apart (notice what the change of light does to the photo). The middle photo was taken when I rode about halfway out the bird Island Pier.

Urban Simplicity.

A Great Blue Heron and a Brace of Ducks…

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This morning was so beautiful (as was/is the rest of the day. I had to work for just a few hours in the afternoon and evening and really didn’t feel like going in. To wash away the “work blues” I rode my bike over to Bird Island Pier to take a few photos. If you are reading this post from another area of the world, I have to describe this “pier” to you. It’s a break-wall more than a pier really, and it just out into Lake Erie. And if you hop the railing and continue walking out to where you are not supposed to (as I did this morning) it goes out even further (a total of two miles I am told) to the intersection of Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Buffalo Harbor, and the Black Rock Channel (click here to see the map). It really is quite breathtaking when your out there. Anyhow, along the way I saw so many ducks, but also the great blue heron that is pictured. It would only let me get a hundred feet from it before it would fly away. But I did manage to get a few shots of it. It was quite magnificent to watch. Any how, I thought I’d share a few photos.

Urban Simplicity.

Manipulating Light (and how it nearly broke me)…

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As you may have figured out by now I am fascinated by photography for so many reasons. And the more I learn about it the more I am understanding that it is (A) all about light, and (B) learning how to manipulate light. With that in mind, these are a few photos I shot with an ND filter (which is sort of like putting sunglasses on your camera)…it allows you to take really long exposures in the day time. And when photographing something like moving water it sort of slows it down. But the interesting thing about this series (I think) is how they came about. I really wanted to photograph some moving water and the closest (other than the Niagara River) is Serenity Falls in Forest Lawn Cemetery. I had never been to this particular location and after finding it I was a bit surprised to see that I had to traverse a small and muddy incline. With my tripod and camera slung over my shoulder I took one step, and then another. My third step slipped out from beneath me and for a brief moment I was airborne, only coming to rest on my camera and tripod which were on my back (ouch!). I then proceeded to slip and slide and sort of roll down the muddy path until I came to rest on the edge of what is known as Serenity Falls. Is the name a sort of joke, I wondered? Anyhow, after regaining composure (I was by myself) and brushing myself off a bit, I was able to check my camera to see that it was not broke. Nor was I…but I am rather sore today.  And this is what happened just before snapping these photos.


Urban Simplicity.

The view from my handlebars on a blustery but beautiful evening…

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Urban Simplicity.

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