H is for Halloween

Yes, I know it’s not Halloween.  I have been slow to develop a few rolls that have been sitting on my coffee table for months.  I finally had some down time a few days ago, braved the single digit temperatures and went to my local photo shop to drop them off. When I picked them up today, these came out.

Last October, I went to Marshfield, Wisconsin to visit my friends, Jane and Gunnar, and their daughter, Mimi.  It was around Halloween so one day, we carved pumpkins.

Mimi’s cousin, Tanner came over and the two of them drew the pumpkin faces and scooped out the seeds while Gunnar carved, Jane looked on and I took pictures.

After what seemed like hours (Gunnar didn’t have the pumpkin carving tools you get at the drug store for three dollars, which are easier to use than regular knives), they were finally done, Tanner’s scary face and Mimi’s smiley face pumpkins.

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Brunch at The Dutch

Some photos from the weekend before Christmas taken with instagram.

I met Sarah and her sister, Alyson, in SoHo for brunch on a chilly morning last Sunday, perhaps the only time I’ve ever seen the streets there empty.  Priceless.

We went to The Dutch, the new restaurant by the same chef at Locanda Verde, Andrew Carmellini.  We ordered the pastry board to share, which came with a curry sugar donut, apple cheddar scone and a banana nut muffin.

Sarah had the fried chicken with coleslaw and honey biscuits.  I had the eggs with chorizo and hominy grits and Alyson had the cornmeal flapjacks with blueberries.

We had to wait for the bloody marys (in NY, alcohol isn’t served until noon on Sunday) but it was worth it.

Happy Holidays!

Some photos from the past few weeks taken with instagram

Bryant Park Christmas tree
Santa as Christmas tree vendor
Choir singing at South St. Seaport
Metropolitan Opera
Santa display in Soho storefront window

Breakfast at Bar Al Parlamento

This is how you start your day in Venice,  you open the windows and shutters of your rented apartment overlooking the Cannaregio canal.  Sunlight enters the living room and the whirring sounds of boat motors and the clink of cups from the cafe downstairs invades your sleepy consciousness. The cafe aromas seep in, waking you up.

Walking barefoot across the smooth Venetian mosaic floor, you feel the sun start to warm the tiles.  It’s time for your morning café.

You walk downstairs to Bar Al Parlamento.  Inside the small bar, you order café and brioche while the local next to you drinks his glass of red wine.  It’s 9 a.m.  After placing an order, you walk outside and take a seat canal-side.  Sit with the sun at your back and take in the view of the Venetian traffic on the canal.

You’ll see the number 52 vaporetto on its way to Murano, mostly occupied by tourists.  As you watch them return your gaze, you almost feel sorry for them.  They’re about to spend a lot of money on hand-blown glass just as you did the other day.

As the vaporetto passes by, the waves ripple out behind the boat, sparkling as it reflects light from the sun.  As the water ebbs and reaches the edge of the canal, the parked boats sway with the waves. After a few minutes, the owner of the bar brings your café.  You take a bite of the sweet brioche, the perfect foil for the bitter café. You sip your café and watch the world go by.

Cannaregio is a Venetian neighborhood where locals live and work.  Some parts of it far enough from Piazza San Marco and other tourist attractions that you often find quiet places.  In this corner of Cannaregio, locals outnumber the tourists.

A man drives by on his boat, his dog, a spaniel of some sort, perfectly balanced on the boat’s bow.  They stop nearby and begin to back up into a spot that can barely fit his boat, parallel parking Venetian-style. They both jump off and walk away, on their way to do an errand, you suppose.

Across the canal, a man pulls up in his boat stacked with several boxes.  He unloads some and drops them off at the office supply store.

By this time, you realize it’s getting late.  If you were truly a tourist, you would have been out and about standing in line at the Basilica or the Palazo Ducale instead of lingering over your coffee and savoring a slow morning in la Serenissima so, you ask the waitress for the bill, “il conto per favore.”

Then, three nonnas (grandmothers) arrive and take the seats at the next table.  One of them is sporting designer sunglasses.  You spend a few minutes listening to their rapid-fire Italian punctuated with elaborate hand gestures. The more they talk, the more you’re sorry you didn’t learn Italian. Whatever they’re talking about, no doubt it’s scandalous.

Now, it’s time to go.  You pay your bill and start to walk away.  You’re sorry to leave and miss the rest of the nonnas’ tableside tales. You envy them.  They have it all, breakfasts at Bar Al Parlamento, gossiping girlfriends and Gucci sunglasses.

Bar al Parlamento
Fondamente San Giobbe 511
Sestieri Cannaregio, Venezia

Marilyn’s garden

This is a first on this blog.  Photos from a regular camera.  And not just any regular camera, but a film camera!

For the past few months, I have been following this blog, which has inspired me to take out my old school Nikon SLR camera.

So last weekend, I bought several rolls of 400 speed film, switched the camera on manual and tried to capture the last lingering signs of summer in Marilyn’s (aka Mom) garden.

She had zinnias, petunias and roses in her garden.  She also has a vegetable garden but that’s for another post.

Brighton Pier

A few weeks ago while in England, I took the train from Victoria station to Brighton, an hour south of London.

I got there on a Sunday afternoon and spent the day visiting my cousin and his family.  We drove around the coast and also walked around the marina and the pier.

Brighton is apparently a popular weekend and holiday destination. If you hate crowds, don’t go on a Sunday afternoon.

A few days later, I came back on a Wednesday and walked along the beach. Hardly anyone was there.

I loved the old-world feel of the pier and the seafront.   The pebbles on the beach added to its charm. Though I imagine, as my friendMichelle said, laying on that beach would be uncomfortable.

Nevertheless, I loved the sea air, the rush of the waves, and the endless, hazy horizon.

God save the queen

I spent several days in London visiting friends and relatives.  Here are some pictures I took while in that city.  Someone must have been looking out for me since I had mostly wonderful (for London) partly sunny weather while there.