Sandy Thoughts

Written at 9:30 last night:
It’s strange how different the world is in the dark.  How quiet.  We forget how much noise we create with electricity.  The hum of the refrigerator becomes part of our world.  When the neighborhood darkens, everything is so much quieter that the world becomes louder. 
The hurricane has been roaring around us for almost 24 hours now.  It started with rain, last night, and the winds progressed during the day.  We were sent home from work at 1:30 (many people didn’t have work at all), and Sandy officially made landfall at about 8:00 tonight.  By 8:45 we were in the dark.  By 9:15 the neighbors made their exodus, infants and toddlers in tow, headed to somewhere.  I don’t know their destination, but I’m sure it has alarm clocks and microwaves.
Without a TV, and even without the hum of the flourescent light in the kitchen, the storm is louder, more violent, angrier.  The wind is whipping the rain against the sliding glass door, and I can hear it rip against the vent on the roof.  The size of my apartment is so small that the rain slapping the stack is audible from anywhere in the home.  Three rooms make for nowhere to hide.  
Without the neighbors across the street, there are no lights visible at all.  Not even the swing of a flashlight beam as there was 20 minutes ago, before both houses emptied, lighting my home with the final red of their brakelights as they swept away their children to something closer to safety.
I don’t feel unsafe.  I feel nervous, an apprehension brought on more by worry about waking up on time to call work, and see if I need to report, than that my windows will break.  It’s noisy, and a strong gust is certainly intimidating, but not exactly frightening.
An honest assessment brings me to appreciation.  I appreciate this time to sit on the floor and listen to the world.  To turn my head and see the dim shadow of the cat, who is possibly unphased, cleaning herself in a corner.  To connect to the simplicity of home and roof and dry feet.  And to the simplicity of dark.  To look around and be able to see nothing but the reflection of the illuminated apple from my computer in the black glass of the television screen.  To wonder, to sit in awe of nature.  
I discussed, briefly, with my coworkers the nature of the world today versus 90 years ago.  When my grandmother was born, they still had ice and milk delivered to their house in a horse-drawn cart.  When she died this past March, the world was barely the same.  Her family would have had candles in their home for basic necessity, we have to purchase them in case of emergency, or to make our home smell of something other than itself, or to incite romance.  And in the end, here we are, facing this so-called natural disaster in relatively the same way.  The dark and the wind and rain have not changed, the worry is the same.  We are perhaps more prepared, with our radar and our text message alerts, but what do we do to prepare?  We tie up our gas grill so it doesn’t blow away, and go inside to wait it out.  Our ancestors would have seen the clouds and tied up their horses, but they too would have gone inside to wait it out.  Ultimately, we are still men facing nature, hoping for the best, waiting for the end so we can assess the damage.
The news has a tendency to overplay the fear.  The more they talk about it, the more we watch.  I watched Antiques Roadshow instead, but that’s me.  We run out and buy ice and batteries, but it only gets us so far.  Sometimes, I wonder, shouldn’t we just take it as it comes, be grateful for this opportunity to be put in our place, reminded that we are still just animals, and the wind is stronger than we are.


Appalacian PA

Bake Oven Knob is the highest point in Lehigh County, on the Pennsylvania portion of the Appalacian Trail. I had been here once before, as a very cranky 13 year-old, hiking with my dad, sister, and brother.  It's much prettier to look at when you are not angry at the world, and you get to go home to go potty.  This trip was with my sister and parents (Mom tends to be camera-shy, but she was there too!), and was just a simple day hike, with some lunch on the mountain.  
It was an overcast day, but still nice enough to see the leaves, which were gorgeous.  I'm glad I had the opportunity to witness this sight before Hurricane Sandy reaches the East Coast, and all the leaves are gone.


The 100

The 100 is a project that will (eventually) feature 100 people, from the ages of 1 to 100, and the photographs they take over the course of a week. The project was originally simply meant to be these 100 people, who would by supplied a disposable camera, asked to document a week in their lives. The photos would/will be so different, yet many would/will have similar themes.
I found out about the project through Photojojo, along with hundreds and hundreds of people. Suddenly, the The 100 people were faced with a major overload of interest (requests crashed their site!), and I think they were kind of at a loss for what to do. So they continued to choose their people, and invited all the rest of us to participate in The 100 Week, October 1-7, in which those of us who didn't get picked by can still buy a disposable camera for ourselves, can still participate.
I really liked the idea of using a disposable camera. The way they explained it, "We’re asking that everyone uses disposable cameras to level the playing field – its not about the latest hardware, editing, tagging, filters and real-time sharing, but rather a slower, perhaps more considered reflection upon yourself. You don’t need to worry about aperture, exposure, focus. You just need to think about what you’d like to capture." The truth is, photography has changed so much in the last 10 years, we forget how precious these memories need to be. We document everything in our lives now, we see the photos instantly, and then we delete them, or we move on. Having film makes something more permanent. And it's not that permanency, that paper, that makes the difference, because that's still ephemera. It's still kind of disposable. I feel like maybe it's the wait that makes is more permanent. The fact that I had to take all 27 photos, and go somewhere, drop them off, and WORK for it, that's what makes these permanent.
The thing I disliked about this is most of these photos were awful. My camera flashed EVERY time I used it, I couldn't deactivate it, and I couldn't see if things were in focus or not, so a lot of time, they weren't. Additionally, CVS kinda screwed me, as there were 25 viable photographs on the index sheet, and they only printed 19 of them. When I saw some were missing on the paper prints, I was like, oh well, they'll be on the CD. But they weren't there either. So now the work that I admired in the process is frustrating because I will have to go back, and be all "whiny-customer" and ask for them to please print me this, this, and this off the negatives, because I can see they're real pictures, they're on the index, but you didn't give them to me and I want my pictures. Grrr....

foggy beginning of the week

syringes, 3 days of the week



fictional peas in a pod

crab at XIV, restaurant week philly



good morning!

marquee relighting

haverford township day library sale (fill a bag, $6)

baby girl

baggu (full of groceries)


Save the Lansdowne Theater

October is flying by!  I hadn't even realized that these photos are over 2 weeks old already!  So here's the story...

The Lansdowne Theater has been out of commission since a fire during a movie in 1987.  The first time I heard of renovation plans was about 4 years ago, when I was living in my 2nd Lansdowne apartment, and my landlord (who lived up the street) was telling me he was on a committee to start fundraising for renovations.  I didn't think very much about the plan then, simply that they were looking to turn it into a live performance venue, which might interest a friend who manages local bands, and that my friend Hilary's mom would be very excited.  The next time I heard about it was on Facebook, through a friend who had discovered a group called Save The Lansdowne Theater.  They were holding tours to raise funds, and had an open house last year, which I attended with Becky and her sister, Julia.  (Julia's photos of this trip are here, and are much better than mine, so look at them!)

Shortly after our visit there, a film crew came to town to film The Silver Linings Playbook, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.  A few scenes were filmed in front of the theater, and they needed the marquee to light (which it hadn't done in over 20 years) for the scene, so it was rigged to light.  At that point, the theater was given a grant to have the marquee fully restored, and on October 5th, they finally unveiled the finished project.

 Lansdowne has always been such a special place to me.  It was where my parents had their first apartment, where they brought me home for the very first time.  It was also the place where I had my first (and second) apartment on my own.  It has history and architechture and beauty unlike some of the suburban sprawl in the neighboring towns, and, in short, is a place that makes me very happy.  I was so proud to be present at the relighting of the marquee.  The cheers that went up, the people blocking the street in order to be part of the photograph, filled me with such warmth.  There was such a sense of community, of the pride of people coming together for a common goal: to restore this once gorgeous building.  I mentioned to Becky, as we walked through the second time, how I almost wish it could stay the way it is, crumbling, just a little musty.  How beautiful I think it is just the way it is.  But people can not enjoy it this way - it needs to be restored (and by all accounts it will be carefully and beautifully done) so that it can survive for generations to come, so that years from now more people can have the same pride that I have now.

becky and I went to a moroccan restaurant afterwards, where I had couscous and possibly the world's largest carrot


I have several sets of photos sitting in Photoshop right now, slowing down my computer, but this post is going to push them all back in line, because I feel the need to share this one right now.

I went outside to stare at the sky a little after 11:00, with the goal of seeing some Orionid shooting stars.  I took my camera, and walked down to the baseball fields adjacent to the little complex where I live.  It wasn't a very dark place to sky-watch, but I knew it would be darker than sitting on my deck, and was a whole lot easier than driving somewhere more conducive to Orion gazing.  Wandering through the field resulted in very wet feet and a very cold Jill.  I stuck it out, sitting on bleachers, tipping my camera up on one of my shoes (because the tripod is in my car, where it always is, doing me a lot of good), and using the remote (for the first time, really) so I didn't shake the camera when I hit the shutter.

Sitting there, in the cold and the dark, I heard a rustle in the woods to my left.  I couldn't see very well, but I knew it wasn't a dog walker, as they would approach from the houses behind me.  The figure I saw was unrecognizable, just grey and moving toward me.  I sat in absolute silence as the animal got closer, and the shadow seemed to grow and morph until I realized it was a young buck (literally), with small antlers, just a few points, but still big enough to be imposing.  He made his way up the hill, past the little league fields, to where I was sitting, stopped less than 10 feet away, and looked directly at me.  I was so afraid to move, to break the spell, I didn't touch the camera.  I didn't even breathe.  I just sat, staring at him as he stared at me.  I took one photo as he made his way across the field, but it was too dark to see him.  I've seen plenty of deer, in fact I saw 2 does and a fawn today, but I have only once before seen an adult male, and never have I been so close to such a large animal in the wild.  It was pure magic, a gift given to only me, undocumented except in my mind.

In the end, I spent almost 2 hours outside, saw only 2 meteors (neither of which I captured in photo-form), ruined my shoes, and now, over an hour later, am still freezing cold.  And I have no regrets.


Overnight Tomatoes

This recipe is taken from Kinfolk Magazine, volume 1.  It took me a long time to get around to making it, and I regret the time I spent in my life not having eaten Overnight Tomatoes.  I love making something, and then eating it, and thinking, "Wow, I'm a genius."  Even though afterward I need to remind myself that all I did was follow instructions, and there is therefore no genius involved.  But you should know that this recipe is so delicious, you too will momentarily convince yourself that you should have a cooking show.
I further prove my genius by having altered this.  I altered it in that I did not use thyme.  Because I didn't have any.  Becky, my friend who truly is a kitchen prodigy, merely heard this recipe, didn't even read it, and went home and cooked it, and then legitimately altered it by mixing some balsamic with the olive oil in the pan before cooking the tomatoes, which she says was an excellent addition, and carmelized in just the right way.  This will obviously be the recipe I try next time, and afterwards I will again refer to myself as a master chef in my head.

200 grams (about 7 oz) mixed small tomatoes 
cherry, grape, pear
4-5 small unpeeled garlic cloves
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
4 sprigs fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 425 deg F.  Slice tomatoes in half, place in ovenproof dish (or on baking sheet).  Add garlic cloves, then toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Arrange tomatoes face up in the pan.  Pick leaves off half the thyme and sprinkle over the tomatoes, break the remaining sprigs into shorter lengths and add to the pan.
Place in preheated oven, cook for 10 minutes, then turn the oven off.  Leave the tomatoes in the oven to slowly roast, until they reach the desired texture.  (8 hours is recommended.) 

*Resist the temptation to open the oven and smell your tomatoes.  This is really hard to do.*
Bring to room temperature before serving or using in other recipes.
Kinfolk reminds you that depending on the size and variety of tomatoes, cooking times and temperature adjustments may be necessary.  Play with it, make it yours.

 I used my tomatoes to make a really yummy sandwich (like Cosi's TBM.  I'm not really an original thinker in the kitchen). Even the garlic cloves go right in the sandwich, they are so good.  Kinfolk has a recipe for their own sandwich you can put them in.  Becky mixed hers with some provolone and spinach.  You can obviously use these in all kinds of meals.  Possibly all your meals, from now on.

All of these ingredients were acquired from Harvest Local Foods, my favorite source, except the basil, which is from the Pathmark.  Sorry.



Loving:  My sister finished her DIY calendar today.  It's super-cool.  She made it out of mounted paint color samples and glass.  She can write on it with dry erase markers, so next month it will be just as pretty and November-ready!  If I can convince her, there will be a little feature on this blog showcasing all the things she makes.  (There are a lot!  Wait until you see what she's doing with her bureau!!)

Reading: I read 2 Vogues, and 1 issue each of  Smithsonian, Philadelphia, and House Beautiful Magazines this weekend.  Also bought 4 books this weekend at the Haverford Public Library during Haverford Township Day.  You could get all the books that fit in a bag for $6.  My sister and I filled that bag, me with random stuff (Virginia Woolf, a photojournalism coffee table book, a Second City video from probably 1983), and Erin with ballet, ballet, and more ballet.  

Watching: I just finished season 4 of Dexter today, you know the season when Rita dies?  If you didn't know that happened... oops?  ALSO, I'm pretty obsessed with Call the Midwife, the new series on Masterpiece Theatre, via BBC One.  It's the true story of a young woman who was a bicycling midwife in London's East End in the 1950s.  If it's got pretty hairstyles and babies, I'm totally in.  I thoroughly enjoyed this week, and I can't wait for episode 3 next week!

Listening to: The Velvet Underground and Nico (separately and together) are all I've been listening to this week.  "Shiny, shiny..."

Thinking about: Greed, America, and politics.  This upcoming election has been getting me a little worked up about a lot of things.  I try not to get too political, mostly because I've known people who think about nothing else.  Politics can be very divisive, and that's the thing I dislike the most - the fact that people seem to not work together anymore, or even work against each other.  And then I start thinking, "Well, maybe this is how it was years and years ago, but we just didn't see it, or recognise it, or know it was happening, because we didn't have this magic instant-news/opinion machine called the internet?"  But whether it was happening years ago, or is a new(er) phenomenon, shouldn't it be better?  Why can't we all get along?  Why is everything motivated by money, and not what's right?  Capitalism and moralism can't be mutually exclusive, right?

Looking forward to: The enchilada stuffed peppers that are in my oven RIGHT NOW.  I can't wait to eat them.  They were ordered from my favorite, Harvest Local Foods, and have been in the freezer since they arrived.  I'm also looking forward to my food order this week, since I didn't order anything last week.  (Still getting used to having fresh food in the house - it goes bad so fast, and I eat it so slow!  I need to learn to order less in order to not waste.)

Making me happy: Snugglepuss here next to me.  She hasn't left my side all day, we played tag this morning, and then we snuggled down for TV and blogging.  Yes, "she" is the cat.

Inspired by Dani at Sometimes Sweet.  :)t


Light/Bruce Munro

For the past few months, Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square has been exhibiting Light: Installations by Bruce Monro.  It was breathtakingly beautiful.  And I mean that in a very literal sense, where you walk in the dark, come upon these light displays, and you literally catch yourself holding your breath.  Maybe that's just me.  No, it's not just me.  Example: when we got to the end, both my mom and little sister were disappointed that there wasn't more to it.  And I think that's a perfect illustration of how good it was; it left you wanting more.  The exhibit is over now, so you all will have believe my photos.
I loved it so much, so beware, this post is very image-heavy.  And this is after some extensive editing and curating.  See what I did there?

I edited this 100 times.  every change looked great.
but this actually shows the colors most accurately.

sometimes you can't stay still

this is terrible, but i love claire sticking her tongue out :)

they're soda bottles!