Just checking in

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So I’m feeling pretty guilty about not having appeared here for months (!) after being so gung-ho about blogging regularly again. After a bit of reflection, I realize that I was mostly enthusiastic about others blogging regularly again.

😉

I’ve been busy with the new job, of course, and busy sitting on my butt in the air-conditioning. This knee thing has really thrown me for a loop and I’m just now getting to feel better after a month of physical therapy. Why that dopey doctor I went to didn’t recommend it for me, I don’t know. I’m just glad I decided to be proactive after suffering for 3 months with barely any progress and so grateful to have good health insurance to pay for it. It’s really made all the difference in my ability to function like a regular person again. We’ve planned a camping trip this weekend and I’m looking forward to hopefully being able to hike without pain.

Other than work and physical therapy, I haven’t done much so far this summer other than try to avoid the heat. I still don’t know how people stand it here – I’ve got major cabin-fever! We’re sharing season tickets for the Braves and have been going to a couple of evening games each month. We’re discovering new favorite places to have breakfast on the weekends. We’re eating ice cream more often than is probably healthy. My brother and his family came to visit for a couple days at the beginning of July – it was super great to see them and to show off some of the fun things we do here in the A. I’ve been reunited with my dog Luka from that other life and just last week said goodbye to the senior shelter dog, Sadie, that we adopted only four years ago.

I bought myself a new camera lens – a super wide angle – and look forward to playing with that in the future. J and I went out the weekend that I bought it to take some photos of the tall buildings in midtown Atlanta, but ended up at the High Museum of Art as a way to escape the heat and enjoy some free air conditioning. I’m not much of an art museum type, but I enjoy the High and it’s folk and modern art. The photo that accompanies this post was taken there.

I plan to be back here in a couple days to share some memories of Sadie – once we’re back from camping in the mountains where hopefully it’ll be cool!

Ahem

IMG_6684-1I feel so rusty at this, so awkward. It’s not so much because actually doing it feels funny, but more because of the contrast between how unfamiliar it feels to be here, and how entirely natural it used to feel.

:(

It’s like returning to anything, I suppose. The yoga mat, or healthy eating… we don’t slip right back in where we we left off – or at least I don’t. It’s more like returning from a trip, maybe a long one. Abroad. I bring back treasures and memories, something tucked in my pocket, photographs, experiences that I hadn’t had before. I’d like to think I’m richer for this time away from regular blogging, but I doubt it.

At any rate, Atlanta really knows how to do Spring! Everything just comes into bloom at once. I wish I could bottle the crazy combination of daffodils-azaleas-dogwoods-cherry trees-forsythia-viburnums that is Spring here and send it to my friends who are still threatened with snow in the north. I wonder if we don’t appreciate the change in seasons more when it comes slowly? I used to think March was the worst… but here there were even a couple days when it was in the mid 80’s and I was left looking for shade beneath trees that hadn’t leafed out yet!

What’s blooming in your part of the world?

Just shooting

IMG_5639Since being back in Atlanta, I’ve gone out with a couple local photography groups to participate in meet-up events; I’m doing this to meet new people and hopefully find new, interesting places for photography, but also to maybe learn some proper photography techniques.

We went a couple weeks ago to photograph an abandoned Astroturf factory and later in the day visited Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens. The gardens are a dizzying, dazzling maze of sculptural monuments, embellished outbuildings, found-object assemblages, and elaborately painted signs, all interconnected by a series of inlaid concrete walkways. I visited there a couple years ago and was happy to find the gardens in better shape than last time. There’s even a new visitor’s center (and a much expanded “gift shop”). It’s an interesting place and worth a visit if you’re in the area or have a particular interest in visionary or “outsider” art. This summer while in NJ, we took a day trip to Philly and visited the Philadelphia Magic Gardens, which have a similar feel, but on a much crazier scale.

At any rate, what I enjoy most about meeting and shooting with other photographers is the opportunity to see how each of us approaches photography differently; we all share photos on Instagram (via a common hashtag) and it’s really interesting to see the various perspectives and points of view of others in the group. We’re a diverse bunch, with varying skill levels from novice to professional. If you’re interested (and on IG) check us out with #atlantaurbanphotowalkers.

Spring rituals

Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

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On the first day of March, a coworker from Bulgaria gave me this Martenitsa made from red and white yarn to wear as a bracelet until I saw my first sign of the coming spring: a swallow, a stork, or a flowering tree. Wearing the Martenitsa in the meantime would assure me of good luck and health in the coming year. I’m happy to report that just yesterday, I found a suitably beautiful blooming tree on which to hang my lucky charm, as the Bulgarian ritual dictates. Winter is officially over!

Have any spring rituals of your own to share? Ever heard of this one?

Cedar Key

So, where did we leave off? Wasn’t it some time last year? Is that even possible? Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s have come and gone again. That just keeps happening, doesn’t it?

I was happily hidden away for most of the holidays on the gulf coast of Florida. We spent a couple days around Thanksgiving in Cedar Key and decided to go back and spend three weeks there during my winter break.  Cedar Key isn’t the sort of place you’ve probably ever heard of; in fact, it’s said that Cedar Key isn’t the sort of place you can easily stumble upon, as it’s just so out of the way. But, it’s perfect for someone like me, who enjoys having absolutely nothing to do.

😉

The draw for us there was the birds, of course! We got out most days in the kayak to explore the marshes and to see what we could see. We found American Oystercatchers (even one banded in NJ) but never could locate the big numbers that winter in the area because we were limited by the tides and how far we could paddle safely. There’s so many birds that winter there – I look forward to sharing some pix with you!

I also had the chance to finally meet FC from Pure Florida, who first put Cedar Key on my radar a couple years ago. If you don’t know FC, he’s a science teacher at the sweet little Cedar Key School and keeps a long-standing blog about all things Florida. Thanks so much for the quick tour, FC! Maybe next time I can meet Bear?

I so hope your new year is off to a happy start!

Art Seen (Erased)

“Each person can take it the way they want to, because it is for everyone …and at the end, if it gets painted over, know that the gray paint will not hide the fears of no one, but if anything, it will make those fears more visible” – Hyuro

Photo from Creative Loafing

“Paint on this wall made for a beautiful mural, people talking about it made for a beautiful conversation. A public space was created and all of a sudden this dead intersection became more human. The mural belonged to all of us, to the ones that liked it and to the ones that didn’t, it was our dialogue, it was our challenge, but now it’s gone. Now we are back to ignoring that space again, now we are back at thinking that erasing the evidence will make us think this never happened… – Monica Campana, Founder and Executive Director of Living Walls

I never had the chance to see Hyuro’s mural before it was buffed over. The neighborhood didn’t understand its message or was threatened by the nudity it depicted. In its 37 “frames”, a woman grew fur and shed her coat; she then morphed into a wolf and walked off. I’m not sure that I understand its message either, but I can see clearly the value of such art, if only in its assault on the blight that is most of Atlanta.  I’m not sure of what anyone could find so terribly offensive in the almost cartoon-like images of this mural, especially considering what we’re all exposed to on tv and in print media, every day.

I’m not sure, either, that you have to like a particular piece of art in order for it to improve your quality of life. What say you?

Yep, I set off the smoke detector again

But it was so worth it!

I love this dish from “Jerusalem” as featured in the NY Times a couple months ago. It “feels” very complicated to make, but really it’s not. That feeling comes mostly from having to buy a bunch of strange spices that look like something I’d find on a walk in the woods…

Next on my list of meals to conquer is Indian Butter Chicken. Anyone have a good recipe?

The way to do it

As the bus slowed down at the crowded bus stop, the Pakistani bus conductor leaned from the platform and called out, “Six only!” The bus stopped. He counted on six passengers, rang the bell, and then, as the bus moved off, called to those left behind: “So sorry, plenty of room in my heart – but the bus is full.” He left behind a row of smiling faces. It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it.

~The Friendship Book of Francis Gay, 1977