Friday, January 30, 2009


Keely's got it right.

I always feel pretty drained by Friday. More so than usual, this week. Nothing that a hot shower and a cold beer won't cure, however.

Here's to Friday!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

From a walk

slick brick
It was slippery out there today.

shooting star 1
Weird shooting star sculpture-type thing at 11th and Pine.

The gloomy weather is getting me down. I'd really like to see some sunshine soon.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dredging up some oldies...

Today was on of those days. I didn't have a ton of time to take photos; it was dreary, I was sleep-deprived, and I did a lot of running around. In the past 72 hours, I"ve gotten about four hours' sleep. Insanity. I'm not anxious about anything (that I know of, anyhow) and I've cut caffeine from my life nearly completely, so I'm not sure what my deal is. I'm pretty damn tired at this point.

Before I had a Flickr account, I just archived all my photos on my computer or (by a very disorganized system that makes sense to nobody, myself included) hosted them on our website. I found a few old photos I really like.


I love this picture. If you knew the girl, you would too. She looks like Bogey in Casablanca; an old-time guy trapped in the modern age.


The colors in this one make me happy. I also love that it makes D look all tough, like he painted that van. In reality, he just stood by it. Then we went to a house where he was taking care of about seven million birds. The point of the trip was for my to photograph the birds--it didn't really work out. I'm terrified of birds, and ended up freaking out and hiding in the garden outside. This photo was all that was worth anything, in the end.

I think I need to do more portraiture. Of humans, that is.


Croskey St. I love the contrast of the chrome against the brick.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Friends and musings on thirty.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by how much my life has changed in the last few years. Six years ago, I was constantly anxious. I was in a relationship I felt I couldn't escape. I didn't have any friends. Oh, how things have changed.

In which we party a bit too hard for a Sunday afternoon.
Nikki and Jesse
Nikki and Jesse in their livingroom. They hosted the best brunch ever yesterday.

Sharon being a dork. I'll miss living with her and Jordan when they move out.

Lou bundled
Lou all bundled on the fire escape.

A closeup of Jesse, for which she might kill me. Unless she likes it. (I do.)

It's taken me a while to fully admit this, but I sort of freaked out about turning 30. I'm not sure why; it's just a number, after all. I still get carded regularly, and no one ever believes me when I disclose my age. So what is it that's so scary about 30? I don't really know, but I think I'm over it now. It just took a little while. (Or maybe it's cyclical, and I'll re-freak again in a few weeks. Yeah, that's more my style. Calm and collected? Not so much.)

With age comes relative calm, at least for me. In my early twenties, I was insane. I mean that in a fairly literal way; I partied all the time and never took anything seriously. I did things that I look back on in disbelief and even shame. Sometimes I can't believe that was really me. I hurt people without thinking twice about it and never claimed responsibility for my actions. There were some serious issues I was dealing with (or, more accurately, not dealing with) at the time--not that this relieves me of responsibility, but I was a hot mess and I couldn't handle myself. I'm glad I'm past most of that now.

I'm pretty happy with where things are taking me right now. I'm finally finishing those last few classes of undergrad and looking forward to what a B.A. might hold for me. I have a good job, awesome friends, a beautiful house, and I'm in love with the best person I've ever met.

I'm feeling positive about life. This is good.


I've been bad. But the weekend, it was so good...

A real post to come tonight. For now, just one photo.

Sweetness and smears..
The love of my life with the love of her life.

From my 30th birthday, when I got crazy with the polaroids.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I wish I had a river I could skate away on...

But it don't snow here
It stays pretty green
I'm going to make a lot of money
Then I'm going to quit this crazy scene
I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly

frozen river
Morning commute.

The cold has broken... sort of. I will admit I was pretty chilly on my ride to work, but I was thrilled to be riding rather than driving, so I didn't mind much. I stopped on my way in to take a few shots of the river, which was frozen. Standing on the bridge with my camera and bike, I couldn't help but hear Joni Mitchell in my head. I stood there for a while taking in the cold, still morning before I hopped back on my bike and headed to work.

Dusk sky, Walnut St.

Walnut Bridge View

The evening ride is never quite the same. The roads are busy. I'm on high alert much of the time because I ride on heavily-trafficked roads and drivers aren't always paying attention. Tonight I was cut off twice by drivers who failed to notice me in all my seizure-inducing, blinking red and white lit glory. I can't help but take this personally; it is my life they're taking into their hands, after all. After the first near accident, I stopped on the bridge (different bridge from this morning) for some down time. And more photos. These aren't so great--I don't travel with a tripod. But the sky was beautiful, and the lights were reflecting off the river; I had to document it.

Despite ignorant drivers, today I fell in love with Philly again.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A lost purple glove and random musings.

abandoned glove
Lonely purple glove.

I got to take a brief walk today. The workday was actually pretty decent, but getting out and feeling like I'm living a little is always nice. The second half of my day can sometimes make me feel a little isolated; I'm alone in an office with a computer and a stack of charts. I wish I had an hour lunch break; the things I could do with an hour! A half hour walk is enough to go four or five blocks, then turn around. Not much time to think or daydream--or find someone to talk to, for that matter.

Eastern State reflected off painted window
Shop window with swirly painting reflecting Eastern State Penitentiary.

It seems that lately, escaping into fantasy is my drug of choice. MY fantasies are simple; I live a life where there are no worries. I'm finished school. I'm making a living that allows for a little more wiggle room in terms of finance--hey, I'm easy. I just want to be able to go out to dinner somewhere nice once in a while without worrying about having the money. Maybe having a decent wardrobe rather than a collection of jeans that don't fit anymore and ratty old hooded sweatshirts would be nice. And of course I'd have a collection of craft beers stocked up in my pantry to try anytime I'd like. That sounds nice. Mmmmm... beer. Uhhh... end fantasy.

In reality, I've got so much. I might not be able to stock my pantry with multiple different craft beers at once, but I get to pick out a case every few weeks, and it's always something good. I've got this amazing old house, a wonderful partner who puts up with my shenanigans and my need to have the latest and most expensive in smartphone technology, a steady job, and a large group of friends I can see myself remaining friends with for a long time.

Keely and Please Touch Museum
Keely and I played fetch tonight. Bart spent the whole time trying to eat goose poop.

Pillars in Fairmount Park
Fairmount Park, 42nd and Belmont.

Did I mention I live ten minutes from this? I'm pretty sure there's a ton to explore out here. Recently, we've been taking the dogs to this one specific spot and running them, but I think tomorrow I'm going to petition we take them on long leads and explore the park. I think that might be fun. There's a lot of open space out there...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Love and stomach bugs.

I left work early today because I kept having waves of nausea every few minutes. I tried to make sure I got done everything that was important; clients who needed contacting were called or emailed, reports written, and the front desk covered. Whew. I then got in the car (along with the new breadmaker that's going to change our lives forever!) and headed home to sleep it off.

It turns out, Lou was in the same state, and she'd left work a little before I did (apparently we share everything, stomach bugs included). We glanced at each other for a second, and knew it was agreed: bed. Now.

I woke up from a nearly four-hour nap to the smells of cooking.

steaming veggie soup
Homemade vegetable soup. Lou is amazing.

Lou was cooking soup and making croutons out of stale bread. I grabbed the strainers and made us both a cup of tea to go along with our soup, and we had a nice sick person's meal together.

tea strainer
Tea strainer set: something i can no longer live without.

A note on tea: I've discovered that going to the gourmet tea shop and purchasing loose tea by the ounce is actually significantly cheaper than buying boxed tea bags or even loose teas at the grocery store. It's also much tastier. Who knew? And since it's taken the place of my nightly beer or two, we're saving quite a bit of money.

Tomorrow I'm hoping I'll feel well enough to bike, and that the weather will allow for it. I'm itching to take a walk with my camera, but it's just not been an option many days recently. Hopefully tomorrow will bring nicer weather and a well-rested, healthy me.

It is now time to turn on a space heater, pile some blankets on, and snuggle on the couch for the Lost premier.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


reflection: city hall
City Hall reflected off a nearby building...

william penn
Again... This time, William Penn is more visible.

flags: 3
Flags over Philly.

Celebrating the new president. Will report back for "duty" tomorrow.

Monday, January 19, 2009

snow and domesticity

It's snowing here in Philly. I was hoping for some sort of real break in the weather but it's not looking likely. Tomorrow is supposed to be below 30 degrees, and it's supposed to rain or snow well into the night tonight. I'm really hoping the roads will be cleared--at least to some extent--so I can bike tomorrow, but it's not looking likely. I'm an adventurous biker, but I've had a few spills on icy roads, and I'm not willing to risk it anymore.

iron rail with snow
An iron rail around the corner from my office

foggy lens tree
Tree and snow through foggy lens.

Weather like this makes me wish I lived somewhere less urban; somewhere the snow sticks around a while and doesn't turn into grey mush the second it hits the ground. In the city you have to love the snow as it's falling, love it resting on tree branches and walls--everywhere else it's just slush, waiting to take you out with one misstep.

Enough whining about the weather. After making a few stops downtown for herbal tea (I'm quite obsessed with rooiboos teas currently) and a strainer for making almond milk, I came home to a house that smelled like corn tortillas. Lou is at it again:

tortilla frying
Lou taking a homemade tortilla off the frying pan.

tacos from scratch!
The end result: soft tacos. Not gorgeous, but delicious.

All the frugal blogs she's been reading have had this amazing side-effect: making our own (fill in the food item here.) Not just tortillas, but seitan, veggie "hamburger," our own almond milk. I was greeted with a glass of almond milk when I got home, and it was absolutely wonderful. Lou (because she's a genius) added a touch of honey to it as a sweetener, and it's better than any brand I've tried.

This weekend, we're actually going to try our hands at making our own laundry detergent. I'm pretty excited. The blogger Lou got the recipe from describes it as "a five-gallon bucket of green slime." Sweet! It'll be like a grade school science project. I'm pretty psyched.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Not exactly the bluebirds of Springtime...


These little guys are out in full force today.

It's finally above freezing! I just spent ten minutes outside with only one layer of clothing on, and can still feel all my extremities. It's wonderful!

The birds of the neighborhood obviously agree with me, because they're all over the place. I'm not sure where they've been holed up the last few days, but they're definitely happy to be out and about. This particular flock flew from tree to fence to street to roof and back about four times in the ten minutes I stood outside. The little guy in flight in the first picture seemed to be their ringleader-or maybe just the most nervous of the bunch.

I'm thrilled for the slight letting-up of the cold. I miss my bike. I miss the intimacy of being alone with the city streets, as weird as that might sound. I do a lot of my thinking and observing from the seat of my bike. It's my "me time."

Yesterday was a nice day despite the cold. Lou and I lazed around for part of the day, then went on a whirlwind shopping trip, hitting three grocery stores and CVS. I know, crazy, right? We're trying to be frugal, which involves a bit of shopping around. It wasn't so bad. We came home and Lou made two giant vegetarian shepherd's pies while I did dishes and kept her company. She made TVP from scratch for the first time instead of buying prepackaged fake "hamburger," and it turns out to be really easy and significantly cheaper.

two shepherd's pies! 1
Topped with Asiago cheese for added nutrition, obviously.

Lou is currently making her own corn tortillas from scratch for the first time. I'm pretty excited about this.

I've started to realize that this blog might end up being about more than just photos of Philly and bicycle commuting. As things are changing for Lou and I, there might be more about living frugally, vegetarian cooking, and just general randomness. It will remain formatted around photography. It's just sort of taking on a life of its own right now. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's not that I forgot

Chase and her birthday robot.

This is yesterday's post. Things got a little crazy and I never got around to uploading photos, or even really taking too many. Ahhh, Friday.

Every Friday, my office has a lunch/staff meeting. We talk about the week and any issues that might have come up during the week, we eat pizza, and we celebrate birthdays as they come up. Chase's birthday was this week, so there was a cake for her, topped with this amazing robot. His head lights up! (Chase said that his eyes are supposed to shoot laser beams, but it's not that impressive.)

Friday is always a weird day. I spend the entire day anticipating the coming weekend, clock-watching, and building plans up in my mind. I often find myself feeling let down by weekends because of this. I often end up working a lot Saturday and Sunday, and the free time I do have is spent anticipating the work I'll have to do later in the day. I also have this insane need to do things, but Lou and I don't go out very much for various reasons (we're broke, it's cold, our friends live across the city--there are any number of arguments for doing nothing.)

Today, I'm going to roll with the punches and try to enjoy the fact that I am not at work. I'm going to relax. I'm going to load film into that amazing camera I've got upstairs and finally see if it works. I'm going to try to be optimistic and spread that sentiment to people around me. I'm going to try to make Lou smile as much as possible.

Argus Autotronic 35, circa 1960. One of the first 35mm cameras. One of two cameras Lou got me for my birthday.

Today should be a good day, despite the temperature being in the teens and Lou and I having errands to run. After all, it's Saturday. I've got a roll of black and white film to try out my Argus Autotronic 35, we've got a case of really nice beer, and we've got each other. I'm not going to build up a crazy Saturday night out in my mind, because it's just not going to happen. And sometimes, a Saturday night at home snuggling under blankets and watching crappy movies is the best kind of Saturday night.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

me, 7:16 AM
Self-portraits two days in a row!

7:15 AM. At work. Putting coffee on, getting keys for the registers, reviewing charts that were left for me, and generally trying to gather my wits about me before I have to deal with other human beings.

Miriam and Saffron 4

Miriam and Saffron. Miriam nursed this cat back to health when her owner couldn't. She tube-fed her several times a day, cleaned up after her when she couldn't make it to the litter, and loved her like her own. Today, Saffron went back to her owner a healthy cat. Miriam is one of the several exceptionally compassionate people I work with.

Saffron 2

Saffron, preparing to reunite with her dad. I wonder if she knows she's gotten a second chance? She certainly knows she's beautiful.

Ultimately, that's what I love about my job; the people I work with who want nothing more than to help animals live better lives, and the animals we get to help, know, and love. I can probably come up with quite a list of gripes, but they're all canceled out by those two things.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Too wimpy for biking.

I took a walk at lunch today, bundled in all my usual layers. I couldn't deal with the less-than-20-degree business that was going on when I was preparing for my day, so I just didn't. I drove.

self-portrait with cone
I am a nerd..

Random self-portrait in the window of a local union headquarters. I wandered down Spring Garden Street this afternoon, something I rarely do. It's the largest road in the area near my office, which means it's loud, litter-strewn, and there are people walking the streets all the time. Not exactly part of my lunch break decompression plan. It was so cold today that I hardly encountered anyone, which was nice. I like to be alone with my thoughts (and my camera) when I'm walking.

wavy tree on brick
I loved the way the branches of this tree bend; I loved the way their shadow looked on brick. Like a tree shadow ballet, bending impossibly low.

Bare trees in winter usually make me sad. Winter itself makes me sad, really. I'm trying to turn that around. I'll never stop hating the cold, but it's nice to see the sin rise as I commute to work and watch it set on my ride home. I'll admit that I can't help but look at the sun rising or setting over the city and think about how lucky I am to be in that moment. I don't have those moments in the spring or summer--not the same way. There's something about watching the sun peek above or lower itself below the city skyline that's cathartic for me.

flowers against patched brick
Brick and flowers.

A remnant of fall, dying in the freeze. In a few months, the yards of the city will again be overflowing with flowers and green things. Part of me cannot wait; of course biking is more pleasant when it's warmer. The other part of me is trying to come to some sort of understanding with Winter--after all, it's unavoidable. It's coming every year despite all my wishes to the contrary. I can find beauty in it if I try.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Nibco, rusty blue locks, and other weirdness...

It is what it is. Enjoy.

blue spigot

Blue spigot. I liked the shape and the color. And that it was made by "Nibco." It's funny, the things I find interesting. I'm sure people think I'm crazy when they pass me lying on my stomach taking photos of their neighbors' spigots, but I seem to have stopped caring what people think about me when I've got a camera in my hand. It makes me bolder. It's like my secret weapon.

beer port?

Back in the late '90s, I lived a block away from this place. It had already closed by then, but wasn't quite in this amazing state of disrepair. It's actually in a pretty good location for a business, so I'm not sure why the building is unoccupied and crumbling, but I think it's rather pretty, in a way. The best part about it is the multiple cracked and peeling signs advertising "Fresh Poultry." Yeah, I'll bet it's nice and fresh.

lock on sky blue

I have a lock obsession. The older and rustier, the better. Also, I really love blue. This is part of the same crumbling building as the last photo.

angel with window

My ride home (on days when I'm free of errands, anyhow) takes me past this building every day. I'm always struck by the architecture; I love the roundness and the red. Today was the first time I really stopped and took stock. I don't think I'd noticed the angel until now. Is she an angel? I'm not even sure. Whatever she is, it's cold outside and she's exposed to all the world, looking rather smug about it all.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Three photos and few words.

PW vs. City Paper
Philly Weekly vs. City Paper. Yellow vs. Orange.

scenic Walnut
Schuylkill River from Walnut Street.

as the sun goes down on the city...
Walnut Street bridge, sunset.

It's cold out there! I took a scalding shower, I'm bundled up in layered pajamas and the warmest socks and slippers I can find, and I'm drinking hot tea. The cold is still with me. Time to grab the blanket and get Lou and the cat herd to join me on the couch... or even in bed.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Post-party laziness

The night went well. I have photos from the party, but half of them are digital photos taken by other people (I set my camera on auto and let people pass it around) and the other half are Polaroids I'm too lazy to scan at the moment. All I need to say, really, is that the turnout was awesome. It's a wonderful feeling to see your house teeming with people who want to celebrate you.

This morning, Lou and I rolled out of bed at 11, the latest we've slept in in... well, years, I think. I did dishes (so many dishes!) and she made biscuits, tempeh "sausage," and gravy. The dogs helped (by getting in the way and pestering us for food, mostly. But they meant well, I'm sure.)

how to cook with pitbulls
Keely makes sure Lou doesn't burn herself by getting too close to the stove.


We also found that we'd acquired quite the windfall of alcohol; a stash of porters and ales in the fridge, a bottle of white wine, and three bottles of red. Very exciting stuff. I'm a total beer geek and Lou is a huge fan of red wine, so we're set for a while.

beer windfall 1
Beers! Beers for me!

Weather permitting, we will return to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow. Check back in for some more snippets of Philly as I see it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Slightly rushed, high dog content.

This morning and early afternoon has been spent trying to get stuff done for a party tonight (my 30th birthday party, to be exact.) I lugged the camera around everywhere we went, but was mostly unsatisfied with the photos I took. In the interest of having something to post, I harassed my lovely girlfriend and our pets for a bit. If you're reading this, you're about to meet the interesting characters who share my life and home.

Like trying to hug a 70lb weasel
Lou making a futile attempt to hug Keely.

Saint Keely
Keely in a quieter moment.

Our two "Philly Specials" (AKA pitbulls) keep us on our toes at all times. Keely is a neurotic mess, a tortured soul, and a total love-sponge. She's my dog, of course. (I actually agonize over the fact that perhaps my anxiety caused her anxiety. As though it's contagious.) She's obsessed with open spaces and playing fetch--to the point where the suggestion of either sends her into a fit of shaking, whining, and drooling. She's... special. She's also pretty obsessively attached to me--to the extent that Lou felt she needed a dog of her own to love her; Keely just couldn't focus her love on two people in an even and fair way.

Bart begging under the table.
Bart haunting the area under the dining room table, hoping for food bits to hit the floor.

Barty's a much more relaxed guy, at least on the surface. He's madly in love with food. He's been with us for about three years, and it's only been in the last year or so that he's developed a real personality. We used to call him BORT (in a loud, flat tone) because he seemed more robot than dog. I know Lou was really frustrated for a while because she had this idea in her mind of a dog loving her in the obsessive way Keel loves me, and that didn't happen for a long time. He's that dog now, but it's been a long road.

So many cats.
Then there's the catlady issue...

Yeah. We're catladies. There are four in that picture, yeah? That's slightly more than half our herd. And then there's the NPO we run. City Kitties, a cat rescue. Yeah... we're catladies. To our defense, we both had three when we met five years ago, so we're not collecting them at a rapid rate or anything. And the one we did collect is... well, Aggie is special. (And by special I mean evil, drooly, and quite unhygienic.)

So, because I failed at getting out and doing anything productive with my camera today, you've gotten a little glimpse of the insanity I contend with daily. Two extremely athletic dogs, a herd of cats, and an adorable partner who only lets me post blurred photos of her because she never thinks she looks cute enough.

Check back in tomorrow. There could potentially be party photos, or maybe I'll take a ride and get some new material.