Saturday, December 22, 2007

Slipping away from 2007

My neighboring uncle's garden produced Swiss chard and other vegetables a calendar year ago, but now a year later our properties are buried under up to 20 inches of snow. 2007 arrived hot and is waning cold.

2007 brought me great turbulence, change, excitement, freedom, and opportunity. My varied employment fueled the fun where I started working on a world-class writing team only to be laid off mid-year that released me to an unstructured lifestyle. The constants were unchanged - faith, family, love of writing, photography, and New Hampshire.

Freedom allowed me to immerse myself into New York City to experience the city from ground-level. And I met and walked briefly with a wonderful woman and her family until time and circumstances gently set us on a separate course.

My soccer team delighted me when they were not exasperating. My niece and several other players graduated from daisy-pickers and cart-wheelers into soccer players with drive, vision, and a shared passion for the game. The player's character grew in my mind's eye only to be corrected at the pizza party when things were right-sized when they stood next to video games and pool tables in the cramped game room of a local pizza house.

As you might suspect, girls and their motives often confuse me, but I knew that unity and a feeling of togetherness were key. So we played a season long name game eternally deciding whether we were the 'Purple Grapes', 'Purple Fighting Fish', Purple Doritos', or 'Purple Pumpernickel Breads'. (The last entry was mine - serving to motivate creativity and passion.)

The name game exceeded soccer in some ways because weeks after the season one of my younger players approached me with all seriousness, 'Coach Tim. Really, next year I don't want to be the Purple Fighting Fish. Really, we need to be the Purple Tigers because that's a superior name.'

I am so lucky to have the privilege to coach our youth.

Through my contacts in the soccer program, I found a job in the office of a high-end indoor pool construction and service company. I learned how to use a CAD application and I tried my hand at designing indoor pools. A sketch of an Oforu, or a Japanese soaking tub, may become reality someday.

While I worked this job, we had a family get-together at my house - mostly to introduce my girlfriend (at the time) and her children to my family. She and her daughter joined my nieces and my dad on a walk to the brook. My eldest and youngest nieces returned first - crying. Bees somehow stung them and we quickly scurried to soothe their wounds.

The others returned. My middle niece started screaming as a bee nestled in her clothing suddenly stung. And finally, my girlfriend's daughter started shrieking as a bee moved up inside her shirt and stung her. So the sobbing, sniffling girls assembled neatly into rows of pairs in my kitchen. Their striking blond hair framing tear reddened eyes and sniffling noses. Their mothers clucked like mother hens over their stings - doling out ice packs and empathy.

I watched devoid of my camera and soaked in the Rockwell moment in my very kitchen.

As the year closes, I heeded the call of tech writing opportunity and I agreed to work for a computer hardware company starting on January 2, 2008. I have read so often that a layoff is a wonderful reset for one's life and profession. The mind-numbing silence of sitting around for days and weeks unemployed lets us determine what our true loves are.

And for myself, I always find that writing is central and core to me. Tech writing fits and I look forward to returning to my first love.

So to close my last post of the year, I'll throw some tidbits out.

I earned $75 for a photo sold to a publisher of a NH Travel book.

I edited a friend's published work and I started editing Laura Bloch-Bourque's memoir to fulfill a long-standing dream of starting a small editing business.

I saw 11 deer while hunting - a record for one season of hunting NH. I shot at a doe, but missed.

Unintentionally, I killed four turkeys with one shot. The State of NH fined me and I lost my hunting privilege for a year (possibly reduced to 8 months, I hope).

I raised 18 broiler chicks. 12 for my friend and 6 for my freezer.

I raised 7 laying chickens - 6 laying hens and a rooster - to go with a pair of older roosters. In the last couple of days, a predator killed four layers and the old rooster. (One older rooster was gone long ago.) Three left.

My roommate found employment in Worcester and his presence helped quell the solitude of living alone. His heart is in Minnesota and will happily return next year - hopefully richer for his experience here.

I am continuing to date for no other reason than I feel secure and emotionally ready. Who knew that I would be in my early to mid 30s before I arrived at this juncture in life?

Outside my window, I see snow covering the hill between my uncle's house and mine. The beauty is not well captured in a photo - the even grey tones bleed into the faintest green hue of the evergreen. The overcast skies strain to blush blue. The weathered split rail fence leads to a maple tree that is budding unseen from my vantage point.

The staid beauty here makes me reflect on Brooklyn and the scintillating sense of freedom that I felt there. I wonder that with a companion, could I live a vagabond life and let the wind toss me away on my easy tether to New Hampshire?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Strong Wind of Change

Since my last post, a strong SW wind blew and I landed at home for good in New Hampshire ending, a week or two early, my adventure in Brooklyn. Following the southwest wind, a strong ESE wind cast me to Wisconsin to where my mother's family is from for a brief vacation outside my two point rail between NYC and NH.

One of my first cousins and I had a marvelous adventure yesterday cruising in his power boat around the Apostle Islands. I hiked over 5 miles on Stockton Island and we enjoyed resting on the rocks of the idyllic shoreline of Lake Superior.

I left my camera behind during this trip so that I could enjoy the moment in person rather than by peering through a viewfinder. I regret this now, but with pale words I can describe a strong east wind making whitecaps in the lake and off into the horizon wide bands of color, teal blue, dark blue, silver, light blue, spread across the turbulent waters in the big lake.

On our ride back to Madeline Island for supper, I sat in the back of the boat rather than standing in the middle and I learned a fast lesson. When the wind touched my face, spray from waves crashing against the boat soon would follow. My cousin turned from his driving and smiled gleefully and chuckled when he saw lake water dripping from my face and glasses.

Later I learned that our boat travel was equivalent to the speed and direction of the wind so my cousin heard dead silence while we zipped across the four and five foot swells at 25 miles per hour. His face shown true excitement as he retold a new experience.

My summer is winding down and I am conflicted as to what to do with my blog. My ordinary life seems so humdrum that I hate to reveal trite, boring details of life on my edge of New Hampshire granite.

Soccer coaching, library trustee duties, family events, and the continued gentle tug of dating ground me in New Hampshire and eventually, I suppose that I should get a job. I suppose.

But today as I write, I'll linger in the fantasy that a guy like me can retire at 36 years old and figure out a way to make just enough to live and love those around him.

Be well until I post again.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Brief Hiatus

I'm in New Hampshire now preparing to install a floor at a condo in Worcester. I feel the effects of burning the candle at both ends and I plan to take a brief hiatus from my blog for a few days.

The end of the summer looms despite being in the dog days of August and that is always connected to a little introspective sadness. My problem being that I'm moving so fast that there is little time for introspection.

On a news-related item from last Wednesday morning, a tornado touched down in Brooklyn only ten blocks from the 820 apartment. The New York Times reported that the tornado was Category 1 (the weakest on the scale) and it ripped the roof off a few buildings, uprooted trees, and caused other damage.

I was in my cot on Wednesday morning throughout the related thunderstorm during which lightning and thunder pounded away over Brooklyn.

The storms caused flooding that interrupted the transportation systems in NYC, but I took a (somewhat delayed) train to Penn Station and then an Amtrak train to Springfield, MA where Jim picked me up. I returned a day earlier than planned.

I'm in New Hampshire now and preparing, as I said, to go to Worcester to install a floor today. After a brief hiatus, I'll blog again.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Finnish Energy

My sister's family returned to New Hampshire last night. A few moments ago my friend's family returned to Minnesota. Before sunrise, my friends moved with military precision and were off less than ten minutes after the alarm woke us. Their belongings packed neatly in the hallway the night before, car loaded, children bundled into the van seats, hugs, goodbye greetings, and on their way.

The apartment is silent already. My feet sore and swollen from our sight-seeing journey yesterday that included over five miles walked while I was in boat shoes. (I forgot my other shoes in New Hampshire.) The bathroom swelters with atmospheric humidity and the humidity of being well-used. The supply tank on the toilet sweats.

I'll return to sleep now with comforting memories of familiar laughter and energy as I slip back into solitude, immersed in Brooklyn.

I slept for several hours and before I wander to, I'll describe yesterday's adventure.

My unrelenting pace started last week when I drove home on Wednesday, I think, and proceeded to take care of things in New Hampshire on Thursday, went on a date, climbed Mount Monadnock on Friday, went to a summer party (with my date) and played in a band concert on Saturday, church Sunday and then drove two families to NYC on Sunday night. Whoosh.

After arriving late Sunday night, we contemplated various activities for Monday and the consensus was to get on television by going to one of the network morning shows. I like the NBC Today Show the best, knew where Rockerfeller Center is, and I nudged the group towards going to the Today Show.

The problem is that our sleep would be brief and was eventually fitful as I and others woke on the hour until I finally rose at 4:40 to lay out food for breakfast, turn on lights, and make enough noise to rouse the parents who woke their kids.

Scramble to Get Ready for NYC Adventure

We left the apartment around 5:45 or so after everyone ate, a few people bathed, and prepared for the day. We got off the subway in Rockerfeller Center just before 7:00 AM when the Today Show starts. Security checked our bags and interviewed us briefly and we shuttled into the fenced corral for the Today Show street studio and we joined other early-rising nuts like us.

NBC broadcast the show on flat-screen televisions displayed on rolling carts or on the studio building so we watched as the show started and we got a sense of when the cameras would film. The hosts broadcast the show from inside a ground-level, corner-office studio, behind a curved glass panel.

Suddenly, the glass panel dropped and we saw the hosts! Some of us ran to be seen through the window and we alternated from standing around the corral and the window. My brother in law stayed at the window and when he saw that the camera trained on him, he started signing a message in front of the camera.

Preparing for the His National Signing Debut

Some of us at the corral started laughing hysterically to see him sign in real life and then glance up to the flat screen TVs to see his signing displayed on the TV! When he returned to us, we asked what he signed. 'I need help signing. My sister lives in Snellman, MN. My name is Erik.' We all hooted with laughter.

The people that we contacted to watch us didn't see him so we speculate that the editors cropped the shot tightly to keep him out of the broadcast. Enough people recorded the show for us to examine at a later date.

Despite that, a stranger in the crowd went to him and complimented his ability and wondered where Snellman was. After his crowning achievement of quick-thinking, the Today Show lost its luster and we decided against waiting for another hour and a half for the hosts to emerge into the corral. A few of us hopped up and down behind the crowd while the weatherman gave his report. But then we all left.

I approached a NYPD officer and I asked him, 'Excuse me sir. We have several children in the group here and we gave each one a piece of paper with our names and phone numbers, the address where we're staying, and the nearest subway station. If the children get lost, is it a good idea for them to show the paper to a police officer?' His stern demeanor melted into a smile and a nod, 'That's a very good idea.'

I communicated that to the group loudly so that the kids would listen and learn what to do if they got separated from the adults.

Our plan was to go to the Today Show, walk to Times Square, walk to Central Park and re-evaluate if we had the energy to go to the WTC site and Staten Island Ferry before returning to Brooklyn to rest and sing. Every so often, the adults were anxious and impatient, but that usually ended in laughter because just being together on the streets of NYC was really enough.

On the walk to Times Square, the group was fascinated by a street vendor so people ordered coffee, donuts, and other snacks. We rested and ate and continued walking. We approached Times Square and my nieces asked numerous times to go to the M&M store in Times Square, but it wasn't open yet. We saw through the ABC Studio windows where the Good Morning America show was being broadcast.

Crazy Finns Take Times Square

On each street corner in Times Square there were one or two people handing out a new flavor of Balance Bars. Often they handed them out two at a time. We had eleven people in our group and each time we passed these people, we acquired more and more Balance Bars! Soon our pockets and bags were weighted down and each time we laughed with delight at all the free food.

Finally we made our way to Central Park via Broadway to Columbus Circle. We wandered into Central Park and the kids were most enthralled with the rocks protruding from the ground. So we all scrambled up one and sat drinking water and counting our Balance Bars. The girls estimated that we collected more than 70 bars!

The younger kids saw a playground made of steel and concrete so I walked with a few of them so they could play. The playground was quite cool as it was designed to be like a castle and fortress. Spongy rubber mats cushioned the ground - a welcome relief to already tired and sore feet.

Eventually the majority of our group collected at a series of park benches near some porta potties that everyone said were totally gross. While we sat a honey-sucker, or in other words, a porta pottie cleaning truck, drove up and started emptying the johns. Soon I saw someone in our group cover her mouth and bolt from her bench, walking briskly away.

Then the stench hit me and we all moved quickly away so the porta potty smell didn't knock us all flat over. We were laughing and all agreed that was the worst smell that anyone had ever experienced.

We walked to the train and took a train just north of the World Trade Center site. By this time, the little and big legs in our group were feeling some fatigue and after we looked at the WTC site, our pace slowed. We sat overlooking the NYSE building and Wall Street, eating. We walked back to the WTC site for bathrooms at Burger King and we ordered pizza.

We rested.

New York Stock Exchange

Knight in Waiting

Andy Plots a Move

Afterwards, we went to the Staten Island ferry port and boarded the next ferry. The sight-seers watched the sights from the edge of the boat, but I propped my legs and feet up and closed my eyes. We arrived in Staten Island and sat in the port for the next boat. Again, I dozed. After we boarded, the sight-seers looked around and I fell into a deeper sleep. An announcer woke me up, and my sister was talking to me.

Liberty in the Mist

'Tim, do you think it's a good idea to go to the Empire State Building?' I bluntly said, 'No. Not really.' I smiled as I realized my bluntness and I went to talk with the larger group and agreed that a train ride to the Empire State Building wouldn't be such a bad idea. A few of us in the group were aware of the general fatigue, but it's the group consensus that wins over.

Instead of going to the Empire State Building, I walked to B&H Photo and bought a new lens hood to replace the one that had broken on our trip down to NYC. Then I bought a train ticket for Thursday and joined everyone near Macy's. Cost prohibited anyone from going up the Empire State building so they shopped for souvenirs instead.

By now the pace slowed to a halt, but the young girl's eyes glowed with hopeful excitement, 'Can we go to Macy's?' Of course we could. So the group split into four. Two anti-shoppers went to the street. One family went to the bathrooms downstairs. The remainder sans myself went up all the escalators to see the wooden escalators on the top floors of Macy's.

I stayed in the entry way and laughed by eye-contact with a man offering perfume samples at all the women who walked numbly past him.

Finally, we returned to Brooklyn and I gave a tour of the church and the garden in the back. We went to the 820 apartment and fixed up a hodge-podge supper for everyone and we sang church songs for a while. My friend started singing loudly and we all joined him, but I admit that I looked out the window to see if people were staring and wondering.

After we sang, my sister's family left and the remaining people planned a return to Times Square to see it at night. We returned and discussed numerous strategies for their return to Minnesota and eventually, the consensus was to leave before sunrise today. In Times Square the weariness of the group showed due to divergent goals. Some wanted to push relentlessly and go to one store after the next. Others showed restraint to the plan. We ate some over-priced (what else?) ice cream. Eventually we returned.

After arriving at 820, the family packed briskly and I discussed the route from here to Chicago with a focus on the simplest route out of NYC to avoid traffic. Their bags lined up in the hallway, we slept. At 4:45 my alarm rang. At 4:54 AM, the family left to start their return trip.

Solitude again.

So I hear birds chirping from the trees and see the street in front of my writer's nook, empty of cars, as it waits for a new coat of tar. A woman walks up the street and another pushes a cart, drinking water. My asian neighbors pop in and out of their adjacent apartments. My swollen feet throb a little.

I have to shower and walk to soon.

Before I close, I have reflected a bit about where my adventure led me. At the summer party on Saturday, I reunited with several former co-workers and I heard allusions of gossip and backbiting to get work. No specifics were offered, but our group was small enough that I could piece things together to suit my curiosity and imagination.

I sensed anxiety and lurking anger, but from an outsider's point of view. My free-spirited path is quite divergent and I am detached and I simply assess the character traits of my former co-workers and imagine how they manifest themselves in their current situations. Everyone gets their due in the end.

So here I spend the summer sleeping in a cot as I chose inner-city camping for the summer for the adventure and the solitude to practice my craft as seen in my blog and photo stream. I dated the woman local to NH and I feel a gentle tug to see her again. I enjoy the freedom of the free-spirited life. I learn more about myself. I'm poised in a thrilling position to help grow a business in Brooklyn.

My future is unknown, but as I always wanted, the wind is settling my future rather than my self-assured assertive ambition that caused such great pain during my twenties.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Fat Monadnock

Guests from Minnesota and a number of my friends and relatives and I climbed Mt. Monadnock yesterday in the sweltering heat. I lingered with the slow group in the back, straining to go faster, but enjoying conversation with my sister about our respective summer adventures.

The Mountain Climbers with Tim in the Photo

Towards the summit, I started talking about the cave and how we should all look for and explore the cave. The young boys weren't motivated to explore until I arrived and then we found the tiny entrances just off the white dot trail near the summit.

A boy from Minnesota entered first, followed by his sister, and later a local boy.

Eli in the Cave on Mount Monadnock

Ascending or Descending

The boy's dad, my friend, arrived and we surveyed the slight opening. My turn. I dangled my feet down, grabbed the upper rock to lower myself below. Stuck! I'm too fat!

Determined, I tried again. Stuck at my midsection! Legs dangling a little, I released the rock and suspended myself, wedged into the opening.

I looked at my friend, who is my age, and I shook my head angrily, laughing. I'm not a big guy, but boy this middle life stuff is terrible.

Shortly after being stuck, we heard thunder and saw dark clouds start roiling so we snapped the group photo and descended briskly down the mountain.

Occassionaly, and even now as I write, I curse middle age! Too fat for the cave. My goodness.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Heat, Just HEAT

I returned from Brooklyn last night. During the day, I walked around Manhattan doing a bit of research for sales at In Central Park two young Asian girls asked me survey question regarding air pollution. They spoke halting English, but persisted to ask me questions.

Later I saw other kids from their group wandering in pairs or with adults through Central Park.

Then on the subway off the Q line, I think, a flood of red shirted kids from a church-related group poured into the subway car. The energy and clamor were unbelievable! A young girl in cute cornrows whispered to a chaperone. 'I don't have a seat.' I caught the chaperone's eye and soon the girl took my seat.

A stop later, the girl stood for some reason and a new rider plopped herself down. Again, I made eye contact with the chaperone and we shrugged in quiet disdain for the selfish adult.

Someone seems to be picking on my car in the gentlest way. Twice now I see my gas door open. Once when the car was parked right in front of 820 and then again when parked towards the corner. It's quite mild, but I hoped to be invisible while I live at 820. Oh well.

The temperatures didn't cool much when I got home to New Hampshire last night. The sweltering heat persisted into the night. My ride home was fast and short - thankfully. But I was caught in a conundrum. To stay alert while driving, I drank an iced tea. But the caffeine worked its magic for too long, well after I returned to my home.

This afternoon, I walked to the local bank and then to the Town Field where some kids are in a soccer camp. Walking and taking photos was enough to be drenched in sweat. The kids were in a cycle of drill, water, drill, water - rightfully so.

A Budding Soccer Star

Shot on Net 3

Another Tim than Me Shooting on Net

I returned home and made a few calls for AYSO and I am dreading the rest of the calls. I don't talk very much in general and to break my reticence and call strangers is not a thrill for me. Now if I could type into e-mail, who could shut me up? made a corporate business page on their Website and that will make it much easier for wholesale orders.

Shortly I am going on my date and I look forward to meeting her and I especially look forward to our conversation. I enjoyed our e-mails and chats. Funny, too, that we're meeting for ice cream on what must be the most hot and humid day of the whole summer. Is that considered an ice breaking topic? I think, rather, a melter.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Cool air spills through the window and I look outside into the gentle morning light. A guy walks by in a dark blue t-shirt. I notice that he's carrying something, odd, a frying pan. Only in New York.

Writers Nook in 820 Early Morning Light

Yesterday had two distinct halves. The first half was arid and the second rich with excitement and possibility making sleep difficult late into the night. I waited silently at through the morning, through a long lunch break where I returned my car to 820, silently alone in the conference room before the meeting.

Salient phrases in the meeting included Yossi saying, 'Right. We're not at a point where there is money for QA and Usability. We don't need that.' And when Jeff said, 'But as a saleman, you can be part of our family!' And easy forthright honesty poured from me, 'I keep wondering. Am I a salesman? I'm honored that everyone here thinks that I am.'

Jeff will draw up a contract and I will sleep on the offer for a few days. I was clear and everyone was comfortable about my desire to live in New Hampshire. Yossi later looked at my property via Google maps and I showed them where I fish, hunt, and raise chickens.

After the meeting concluded, I spoke at length with Yossi to get a deep understanding of the technology, the business processes, and most importantly the sales cycles. I need to know who has the money, authority, and need for corporate framing services.

A brief digression - from my window, I see the man carrying the frying pan return, but this time with a bicycle tire pump in his right hand. The frying pan continues to swing back and forth in his left hand as he walks. My Chinese neighbor appears swinging his gate open with a slight, high-pitched squeak. He shakes his right leg and leans forward into a jog up the street.

My conversation with Yossi continued at length and I suggested the virtual reality game, Second Life, as a source of revenue. I gave a brief demo of Second Life and I chatted with my art student friend in Connecticut who started a design business in the game. She plans to give us a demo today at 10:30 and for much of the evening, I tried to wrap my head around the fact that I am doing business with someone who I have little to no contact with outside a game.

Things at home are flourishing with the return of my sister's family from their summer-long trip. A family from Minnesota arrived and I look forward to sight-seeing with them over the long weekend. My roommate returned, also. The Minnesota family plans to follow me to Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon and we'll sight-see in New York. My sister peeped that she might like to take her family here, too, so there may be up to 11 people in the apartment if they all arrive.

My Chinese neighbor returned from his jog, slowing his steps in front of his building, rubbing his chest once, swinging his arms, and walking away to cool down.

I'm looking at my trusty laptop computer. Yossi used it briefly yesterday and he noted that the L key is gone. I smiled replying, 'Just the label is worn away.' Several keys have a distinct wear pattern much like stone stairwells in New York that have bore millions of people in their paths. I'm intrigued that plastic keys have sworls and grains under their veneer.

My Chinese neighbor is now hanging clothes from the air conditioner grate. Another Chinese man in flip-flops walks casually through the street and sidewalk. He starts the daily sweep of his sidewalk.

I return to New Hampshire today. I'm unsure of my schedule and I should trim the grass in the front and back yards and prepare the apartment for guests. The weather is going to be hot and sticky for the next week or so and I should plan to have fans running for everyone's comfort. I'm wondering if my virtual friend in Connecticut would like to have dinner with me so we can discuss business.

I laugh as the blue t-shirt guy walks again past my window. But now he traded, bartered maybe, his frying pan and bicycle tire pump for two grocery bags full of products.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Flat Brooklyn

Overnight, the temperatures cooled and I put on my pajama top. The sound of a helicopter hovering somewhere over Brooklyn woke me around 7:00 AM. I have to move my car today for the street sweeping so I think that I'll go to early to use the Internet and prepare for the meeting today.

The day feels flat again. In my youth, days that started like this turned out to be the best days.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Brooklyn Wakes

I slept in today and I finally rolled out of bed around 7:30. I re-read and edited my post from yesterday. The air is cool and crisp. The high-pitched rapping of a jack hammer echoes through the streets. People are walking along the sidewalks. A few friends are chatting across the street, one entering his car now. Sunlight is soft. Brooklyn wakes.

While I was at, I searched for 'lunar cycles' and I learned that the full moon peaked at 48 minutes past midnight. The day was flat. My mood was poor. Yossi was still making his way back from Brazil and I left in the early afternoon to work on the 820 apartment.

I mistakenly, perhaps, lay down when I arrived at 820 and fell asleep. My friends from Minnesota called and woke me up and we made tentative plans for their visit to New Hampshire and possible jaunt to NYC early next week.

Rather than paint, I took measurements from the shell of the bulkhead in the back and I designed the replacement for the decrepit one there now. I called home. I ate olives, chocolate, and pasta for supper. I played the brain sucker games on my computer.

The wireless router appeared, surprisingly, so I chatted with the RN in Gardner who didn't have much of a better day than I. I used the Internet and after the router disappeared, I lay in bed restless. Since I wasn't sleeping, I got up and I tried to find the HTML code in the Firefox cache, but I couldn't find it.

I spent an hour or so thinking about what I might say at the technical meeting today at Finally, sleep.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Art of Community

The weekend is winding down here. Afternoon rain wet the sidewalks and the air feels humid, muggy.

As I wrote this, my wireless connection found an unsecure router connection so I hijacked time and while connected I set up a coffee date with someone off of She's an RN who lives in Gardner, MA.

A dialog with myself flowed through my thoughts for most of the day today. After I arrived in Brooklyn by taking the usual route in just over 4 hours, rather than taking my road less travelled that often leads me to a 5+ hour trip, I settled in quickly. And then I figured out the trains to the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition ( art show off Van Brunt in the Red Hook neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Being naive here has it's pros and cons because in eschewing the added cost of bus fare (I later learned that it's a free transfer) I walked through the East and West Redhook Public Housing projects from the Smith and 9th subway station to the art show. It was raining and few people were on the street, but none-the-less, I walked right through the projects.

Is that dangerous? Probably not. But I suspect that it's like dealing with livestock where a calm, steady hand causes no alarm, but fear, anxiety could trigger mayhem. So without event, I arrived at the art show.

When I approached the pier where the show was, I saw that some drainage blocked up, and the end of the street was full of runoff water. A little blue Honda civic was up to its chassis in water! I pined for my camera (at 820, bummer!) and I thought that I could help push the bugger out.

I walked in and Betty and Pauline greeted me and gave me brief instructions to see the show. I walked into the show and I saw a sign that said 'free lemonade' so of course I indulged and had some polite chit-chat with the lady pouring the lemonade. She laughed sarcastically, 'Squeezing the lemons was soo difficult!' as she opened a freezer and took out a can of frozen lemonade concentrate!

The show is for starting artists and simple membership lets anyone and everyone display their work. Iris insisted that I could join and it didn't matter if I were from New Hampshire, but I was still cautious in my thinking. My situation is so unsure.

A great thing about the show is that many photographers displayed their work. One photographer framed his photos with the $3 plastic frames that we used at Compuware. Some other photographers purchased (or made?) intricate frames and used double-mats to display their work. Prices for photography ranged from $75 to $500 and comparable work to mine averaged between $150 and $200.

The gallery had three main sections on two floors and after I explored them all, I wandered outside to the pier. As I wandered, I kept seeing with my photographer's eye and wishing that I had my camera. Using the windows of the warehouse would frame the pier, docks, buildings, grass. And the light was soft enough that I could have exposed (I think) everything with one metering.

Craftsmen and women displayed their work in an adjoining building and I had a great time talking to a jeweler and a metalsmith. While talking to the jeweler, a harried woman rushed in talking a mile-a-minute about her blue Civic that was buried in water. Ha! I thought. It's her car.

Some guys volunteered to push her car out of the flooded street so I joined them and we easily leaned into the car and pushed it up onto the sidewalk so she could drive it away. A different lady approached me, thanking me, and said, 'You know that water you waded in is real dirty!' I smiled and said that I rinsed my feet off in a rainpuddle (not runoff) and I called the floodwater, 'Toxic!'

Speaking of which, I need to better wash my feet and ankles before I sleep.

Talking with the metalsmith was fascinating. She, K. Allyson Hayes, was knowledgeable and talkative about her craft and it resurrected memories from high school of my experience with casting pewter, the melting point of silver, and other tricks of the trade. Allyson showed me a ring she made by fusing strips of silver and copper into a layered two-tone ring with a red stone set into the center of the wide band.

Then she explained the process and showed me a prototype for a wedding band she made. This resurrected another deeply seated memory where I always planned on making the wedding bands if I ever marry and I asked some gentle questions of Allyson to see if her studio was available for other artists to ply their trade. She's open to it, but she's soon moving to New Mexico. I wallowed briefly in sentiment as I remembered those long-forgotten fancies of my younger days.

But as I often respond to people, smiling the whole time, who joke with me about finding the woman of my dreams this summer, 'Why would I want that right now to spoil my adventure!'

I kept wandering the exhibits noting the prices marked on the photographs - especially in the auction section where patrons indicate the price that they are willing to pay. From what I could tell, the prices in the general gallery are slightly higher than the market will bear, but the market is huge - 8.2 million people in New York so why not set the price a little higher than mainstream? Someone will bite.

As I approached the main doorway, Betty and Pauline at the front desk chatted with me and the topic turned to the featured photographer who studies light much like I do with my work. This turned into encouragement on their part for me to sign up with and display my work in September. Before I knew it, I was explaining my dual-citizenship between NYC and NH to Ammie who is taking new registrants.

She politely listened and took my $80 membership fee listing my address as Newipswich, NY 03071. A bean counter is going to flip somewhere! requires up to 16 hours of volunteer service so I kept pushing Ammie whether or not I can do my service before the end of August when my free rent is up at 820. Things are in such flux that I don't know if I should stay, go, or whatnot, but my current plan is that I'll leave NYC at the end of August.

I could always ask John if I could rent the half-apartment upstairs (cheaper, I assume than the first floor) to retain a place to sleep if and business bring me regularly to the NYC.

After I left the show, I wandered into a new Fairway market which bills itself as a unique market. I wandered about the grocery store, a comfort zone of mine surprisingly, and I compared prices to the other stores in NYC and NH. I found huge tubs of olives for sale and I found Greek Olives, keeping a mental note, because I was determined to buy nothing. But the prepared food, olives, and other smells and sights kept me salivating. Stubborn. No purchases.

And then *poof!* my resolve evaporated when I saw Finn Crisp crackers! Oh man I thought as I grabbed a package of the multi-grain crackers. Finn Crisp with butter is a delicacy, if you can call it that, often forced on polite, quiet young kids like myself who didn't care for it at the time, but reveal a well spring of sentimental feelings and loosen $1.69 from the wallet.

So I continued through the store, Finn Crisp in hand, and I saw that the selection of King Arthur flour was slight - surprisingly. And I made all sorts of notes to self as I wandered the aisles. I remembered the olives. And since it was nearly 6:00 PM, I thought I could buy something pre-made for supper. Dang Finn Crisp!

I scooped a small quantity of olives into a container and sampled a salty specimen, spitting the pit into my fingers to put into the pit containers scattered throughout the display. The briny bitterness is what I expected and I remembered the Greeks in Greenville, NH who introduced me to Greek olives on pepperoni pizza. MmmMmm.

I looked at the pre-made food and I settled on a half-chicken for $2.99. The chicken barbeque sauce spilled from the container at the checkout line and a sharp-spoken manager pushed the cashier to, 'Wipe! Wipe! Wipe! Then check the customer's purchases. Wipe! Ok?' And the girl rolled her eyes and made eye contact with the bagger girl before wiping up the mess.

My bill? $7.03 put on plastic.

Outside, I debated my options for returning to the subway station at Smiths and 9th St. I wanted to walk, but I was weary from travelling. Besides, I am too unfamiliar with this neighborhood to have a good sense of security. So I went to a bus stop and the signs eventually told me that the bus would be going the wrong way. I walked another street where I saw a bus stop sign with arrows and route that go towards my destination. I sat and waited in the small, empty bus stop shelter.

Soon some women arrived. I asked an elderly Italian woman if she wanted to sit, but she refused and eyed the bench suspiciously as I did wondering if some paint was wet or not. Then a man with short-cropped hair, an earring, and a cigarette dangling from his lips walked towards the bus stop; his hand nestled hand in hand with his girlfriend.

Across the street, kitty corner two attractive young women and a man appeared from a gated entrance. The younger woman smiles and waves saying goodbye. Goodbye? I wondered silently. She can't be waving to me. But she waved persistently until the man with the short-cropped hair called to her, 'See you soon. Where are you going?'

The girl replied simply, bubbling with delight, 'Paris!'

And the man and his girlfriend had a conversation about her background.

Then a car stopped in the street, a woman walked briskly to the window to talk. A bus casually went around the parked car while the women talked. Someone else smiled and nodded to each other - a man holding his son's hand. The elderly Italian woman gossiped with an Asian woman who had walked into the bus shelter.


My thinking went back to talking with Derek about the loss of the American community in our mass-marketed materialistic American ambition. And how his tribal, African friends all want the American dream, infected almost, but yet they are mortified that Derek lived previously for years in a neighborhood where he never ever said a single word to his neighbors. His African friends were stunned! So during our conversation, Derek and I mourned the loss of the American community, but here in Red Hook, the signs are plain as day. People care. People talk. Community thrives.

The bus arrived, I transferred to the subway, disembarked at 9th Ave and walked up 41st street. Lilly was taking some air in her doorway so I stopped to chat for a few minutes. Cecilia's son walked by and I called to him because he didn't hear Lilly. 'Nicky!' He turned and walked back to use and kissed Lilly in a traditional Italian greeting. They exchanged pleasantries for a moment before his mother called him home again for a minute.

Lilly glowed while talking about how well-bred Cecila's sons are. Her genuine smile provoked memrories of Aiti telling the story of meeting Isa (my grandfather, but the Finnish word for 'father') because simple love transcends all and stays eternally young.

The key revealed itself plainly when Lilly raved about Nicky's deceased father. She smiled, glowing, 'He'd do anything for me around the house. Even snow!' And as I said my goodbyes to Lilly and shook Nicky's hand goodbye as I walked up the street, I had just witnessed for a brief moment the product of love and generosity cast through our generations.

I walked and turned the corner onto 42nd Street. I saw two of my Asian neighbors sitting on their stoop. I approached and we smiled, nodded, and genuinely acknowledged that we are good neighbors. I touched my key to the lock on the 820 door and I paused. The community which I cherish in New Ipswich is also here. I know my neighbors. There's love here. Things are not so bleak as my pessimistic streak tells me they are.

My last topic thread for this entry, I think, has to do with Aaron's counter and my rebuttal regarding Section 8 housing in Brooklyn. One of his relatives audits Section 8 rents to ensure that the earnings of the tenants are within the guidelines. He futher detailed a scenario where a his relative contacted a tenant, explained the guidelines, explained the violation, and listened--horrified--as the woman cupped the phone in her hand yelling to her son, 'You're quitting your job tomorrow or else rent goes up. Quitting, got it?'

Aaron's story stopped there, but on reflection I rebut. The tenant hung up the phone on his relative so the sub-story ends naturally. But I still believe in the possibility that the son stood up to his mother and said, 'No. I'm not going to quit.' Innately part of the American dream of self-sufficiency by showing that he's working his way out of Section 8 status.

Sure a majority may abuse the system for their own good, but a small percentage will benefit from the system as designed and their families will last. Mix in heavy, consistent doses of love and respect, and the elixir is set for sustained family. Think of Lilly, Cecilia, and Nicky on 41st Street?

While Tristan and I climbed Mt. Watatic yesterday, I told him the Section 8 story and he passionately verbalized my thoughts, 'But Tim! There are people in Section 8 that are not going to stay there. They're going to pay their rent. It's a hopeful place!'

So either my blog influenced his ideology (his mother, turns out, is one of my few loyal readers and reads excerpts to Tristan) or our Somero blood senses the same hopefulness in inner city living. I prefer the latter.

A family story tells of one of my great-great aunts, Finnish of course, breaking segregation in inner-city Detroit to live with blacks. She lived there, taught there, protested there, and briefly went to jail there. Most likely for the same ideology that I describe here.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sunset on Mount Watatic

Once or twice a summer, I enjoy the 45 minute climb up Mount Watatic at any hour of the day. Tonight, Tristan and I climbed at sunset and gingerly made our way down after dark.

Wapack Trail Head 1

Mount Watatic Trail

Away From the Sunset on Mount Watatic

Reflecting the Clouds on Mount Watatic

Pretty Clouds Seen From Mount Watatic

Friday, July 27, 2007

Respite in New Hampshire

I returned to New Hampshire and I picked up my brother in Connecticut on the drive home. We had a nice dinner and good conversation during our return and he even drove for a while, a welcome relief.

Before I left, I visited Lilly and Annabelle and their eyes both lit up with delight when I read some of the stories that I wrote in my blog. Lilly modified the story about the kids in front of her house, 'They were DISGUSTING! Awful!' But she was thrilled that her words made the Internet and once again, I couldn't help but have my eyes well up with happiness while I visited her house.

This weekend seems like a down weekend so I may return to Brooklyn on Sunday morning. It's a big week at as I plan to help their lead developer with QA and Usability testing. I started scouting for jobs here in NH and MA, also.

It's fun to be live like the wind on my two-point rail.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Humidity Returns

I don't want to write. I feel tired and sore and my attitude seems a little negative. I think it's due to the soreness.

Last night after work, I was late. Late to meet Derek in Central Park so I scurried quickly to the 36th Street subway to catch the D train and ride to 59th and Columbus and then I walked to Sheep's Meadow so we could visit and play soccer.

Before I left work, a customer walked in to much like I did a few weeks prior. She had a camera slung from her neck, a backpack, and a quiet, meek question, 'I'd just like to know about your pricing.' She's a photographer, Iris COlon, who like me was initially attracted to the adjoining cemetary to take photos and she stumbled upon

She talked to Amy first about framing and photography, and then we talked about I watched her use the site and took usability notes. She was excited about the site and made notes herself so she could tell her friends.

Then she shared information about the Brooklyn Waterfront Arts Council at giving me insight and contacts into displaying my photography in their gallery (hopefully in September). I had seen weeks ago while I researched opportunities in Brooklyn, but their motto was, 'Brooklyn-based artists', so I asked Iris, 'What if I live in New Hampshire?'

She smiled and said, 'They don't care where you live.'

This may also turn into a deal between and It's certainly worth exploring.

So immediately after work, I rode the D train all the way to 59th and Columbus and I arrived one or two minutes after 6:00 PM. I took of my shirt and sandals in Sheep's Meadow and Derek and I played soccer and talked. Afterwards, we walked through the adjoining neighborhood and found the Pizza Cave where we ate a few decent (but not great) slices of pizza and an orange Fanta.

On the return to the subway, Derek and I said our goodbyes and I used the free Internet service in Central Park. My wireless adapter detected a couple dozen wireless routers, and I finally figured out how to connect to the NYC Park system one rather than some poor suckers linksys.

I saw the Red Sox score and I chatted with some friends, but sitting on the stone barrier between the Columbia Square and the park was awkward and painful so I gave up and returned.

In 820, I surprisingly had Internet access so I learned that the Sox lost a nail-biter 1-0, I made a date with Betsey to go for coffee after I return and she recovers from the flu, and then I browsed some New York-based listings on to find someone that I might ask out for coffee. I saw a few attractive profiles for women who do not drink, so I wrote to them and asked them out for coffee and for advice on what to do in the City for non-drinkers like ourselves.

I tried to sleep, but I was wound up so I fell asleep well after midnight.

Today I'm looking out the bay windows and the street is mostly devoid of parked cars and yesterday the road eater ate the majority of the asphalt. The street is an ugly mixture of concrete, steel, and asphalt. Old notices are on the poles and fences so it's unknown to me when the crews return to pave the street. I hope soon.

I pick up my brother in CT this afternoon and we return to NH where he leaves tomorrow with his daughter to MN. I thought about my schedule and I plan to return on Sunday night, I think, so I can work on Monday when Yossi returns through Wednesday when I'll go back to NH to visit with Kindall and Sue's family. Unless, of course, they want to visit Brooklyn and I'll stay here to receive them when they come down to sight-see.

We have church on Sunday and I'll likely return on Monday before going home that Thursday to prepare for soccer training on the 11th. Then the next weekend, I want to fly to Wisconsin to help my cousin build his house and also visit with friends and family.

Large recycling and garbage trucks rumble past 820 today. They drive unrestricted because of the absence of cars. It's early yet to go to work, but the humidity returned so I don't feel like lying down and sleeping as I did a couple of days ago. That makes me think about how I hobble like an old man when I wake up - muscles sore from walking and exercising. I'm surprised that I'm not more sore from soccer especially since I played barefoot, but maybe it's simply a delayed soreness.

Time to start my day.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Road Eater

I'm at my desk in the bay window of 820 watching events unfold for the big day. A tow truck, busy as a beaver, is towing cars still parked on the street. (I hate to the think of the expense of getting the cars out of hawk.)

To the left towards 8th Avenue, a menacing dump truck waits, beyond him a machine that eats asphalt and prepares it to be laid down fresh. (I read an article on this years ago, and to re-prepare the asphalt, they use something similar to dish detergent on the old asphalt.)

Here's the tow truck again, its driver jotting down notes before he hauls away a sporty, silvery SUV car. Far down the street a man had a metal detector sweeping the street for metal secrets.

Now to the left, the dump truck slowly makes its way down the street, fed by a conveyor belt spewing loose black asphalt. He's going maybe 3 miles an hour. And behind him a machine with a label, Fleet Milling, a ROADTEC device is eating the asphalt. Men track behind them to inspect the three inch trough that the ROADTEC eats up.

Two men talk as ROADTEC approaches a manhole cover. One man gives a hand signal, clenching his fist, and the ROADTEC stops, lifts, slowly moves, and at the man's fist clench, the hungry ROADTEC lowers into the asphalt again to continue his consumption. Now that ROADTEC past 820, I see that he's a tripod with a single belted track on the back of his machine.

Finally, what I expected in this project is the smell of asphalt pouring through my window. I'm not thrilled, but how can the smell not be there?

Curiously, the sporty, silver SUV remains parked on the street in front of 820. People continue to walk the streets. Svelte Asian business women stroll down the sidewalk. An Hispanic woman walks the other way. And now a man sprints to the sporty, silver SUV, enters, starts it, and drives off - just in time.

The sound of a jack hammer begins rattling in it's rapid, high-pitched metallic bursts.

It's a big day for 42nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenue. A big day.

A little backhoe drives down the trough cleanup up for ROADTEC. He scoops loose material and focuses on the manhole cover that the ROADTEc spared. A man follows behind with a shovel as he does even finer cleanup. The backhoe spreads out the loose material on the road for later consumption by ROADTEC.

I see my Asian neighbors in the soft morning sunlight putting trash away and now the man of the house walks down the street. A young Hispanic woman walks past the backhoe on his second sweep, stopping again at the manhole cover and taking a second bucket full of material to spread on the street for ROADTEC.

The street sweeper wakes and moves now. A couple of men with shovels scrape loose material from the edge of the sidewalk. The jack hammering quiets and restarts. A generator hums in the background. The workers talk to each other with brief yells, insistent hand motions, and expressions.

Of course the typical New York competitiveness emerges when one asks the other, 'This project too slow for you? Not keeping up, huh?' The man works again, a little faster, but mostly immune to the verbal banter.

Time for me to go outside and watch the process repeat itself during this big day for 820.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Photographing the Locals


The temperatures dropped into the 50s last night and sleep was easy until my alarm woke me at 5:00 AM. I woke, ate an apple, and I drove my car to where I parked it for the day. The office doesn't open until 8:00-ish so returned to 820 and during my walk home, I stopped to take photos at Sunset Park.

When I arrived at 820, I slept again in the cool air that was spilling through my window and finally, I roused myself and got ready for work.

At the end of the day, I learned that today is a Jewish holiday and that may explain why Aaron wasn't there. I worked on some volunteer tasks and then started to research and generate sales leads. The receptionist, Suzanna, invited her fiancee to the office and I spoke with him at length about his role in the military. He goes to Baghdad soon and I thanked him for his service.

In my opinion, we can and should freely exercise our free speech, but direct our vitriol and anger at the men in power, not the citizens like you and I who are serving us for our country. Because if the soldier's expressed such displeasure and insubordination in the heat of a battle, those behaviors may be interpreted as treason subject to the immediate penalty of death.

Write your senator. Protest peaceably. Call into a talk show to vent. But leave our honorable men and women in the military alone. Think. What happens if a theater of war enters our soil? Our neighbors, friends, and family in the military will lead us all into battle against an enemy. Don't tempt them into anger today and force them to forgive you later if the situation turns.

I shook hands with Suzanna's fiancee and thanked him again for his service.

Our street is closed again tomorrow so I parked on 41st just down from the church. I thought about taking the train into Manhattan tonight, but I relaxed with the video game on my cellphone and now I'm writing my journal entry.

It's good to rest. Tomorrow evening I meet Derek in Central Park to play soccer in Sheep's Meadow. Resting tonight fits nicely.

After I wrote, I had energy to burn so I walked with my camera to Sunset Park and took hundreds of photos. When I went to the NYC Social Flickr meetup, I learned that most people take photos of whomever they want to share on their Flickr site. I don't plan to sell any of my people photos so I am slowly breaking my reluctance to photograph people and I'm learning.

To do this, I dismiss thoughts of making money selling the photos and I do it simply as an exercise of love. Someone really has to document the thrilling social atmosphere at Sunset Park as nearly a half-dozen soccer games break out. Families laugh and play together. Kids run around. Everyone seems accepted as long as they relax and enjoy the moment.

A Chinese Couple Surveys the Scene 1

A Futbol Game in Sunset Park 2

A Community at Play in Sunset Park 5

A Sunset in Sunset Park 1

On my walk back, I looked at my car on 41st Street and I talked to Angie for a few minutes. She asked me if I was on vacation, but I told her that I am simply going back and forth. She asked about John and I said that he's better, but he's too skinny and he'll have to eat a lot.

Despite the coolness of Sunset Park and the pleasant chit-chat with Angie, I feel homesick tonight. I miss New Hampshire.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Rubber Boots

A voice rattled the weary silence in the Atlantic subway station. 'No! No! No! You know you can't stretch out. C'mon. C'mon. Sit up. No! No! No!' And I turned slowly, as others did, to see an MTA worker rousing a homeless man who stretched out on a bench. The woman continued, 'You know you can't stretch out. No! No! No!' She touched the man as he clutched a pillow, softly rapping on the pillow. 'You have to sit up or I'll call the police. If you don't feel well, you know how it goes. We'll call the ambulance. No! No! No! Sit up.' The man stirred. 'You know how it works. I let you in, but no stretching out.'

The man woke and slowly sat up, back hunched, matted greasy hair upright now instead of laying on the bench armrest. The woman continued talking to the man she obviously knew, a regular. I winked and nodded approvingly as the MTA worker passed me while pushing a garbage can. The D train approached and many of us turned to see the man, sitting now, and we boarded the train.

I left New Ipswich this morning around 8:30 and I arrived in Brooklyn around 3:30 PM. My brother is in town from Minneapolis and he needed a ride to Southport, CT to work for three days and it was great to have company. While we rode we discussed business, sports, and other topics. I stopped much less than I would when I drove alone and I explained it to my brother as, 'When I'm driving alone, I get tired and bored and my thoughts sort of grind to a halt. When I'm not even thinking anymore, I stop to stretch, rest, and maybe take a nap. My trips to Brooklyn take a long time.'

After I arrived at the 820 apartment, I walked to and talked with Amy, Aaron, and Jeff. Aaron tells me that searching with google for reveals my blog and apparently he read my words into the wee hours of the night. I saw the counter increment, but there's no way for me to know who my trusty readers are! (Whoever you are, thank you!)

My brother called me to say that he was boarding a Metro-North train to the City so I left, ate a snack at 820, and took the subways to meet him at Grand Central Station. When I finally arrived, he tells me that he has waited for a half hour, but he already ventured out to sight-see in the streets of New York.

We walked through an intermittent light mist to Times Square and enjoyed the well lit hustle. Eventually, we went to Roxy's Deli for the most expensive Rueben and hamburger we've ever had. (Over $25 for the Reuben and $15 for the hamburger.) The plus side is that the sandwiches were some of the best that we ever had.

Before leaving Times Square, I watched my brother dispense a bagful of red and dark blue peanut M&Ms at $9/pound. He didn't see the price, but he paid $14 for his candy with a chuckle. 'Not only did I have the most expensive Reuben in the world, I just paid for the most expensive M&Ms!'

We took the trains to the World Trade Center site and persistently circled the site until we had a good vantage point. Surprisingly, I felt emotional as I recalled being at the site a few weeks after 9/11. My friend was there less than a week afterwards and he has several stark, gripping photos before the authorities secured the site.

I pointed out the street that I tried to approach before being turned back by men with automatic weapons. In any event, I felt emotion course through me as I remembered steel piercing nearby buildings, windows blown out, and soot and ash containing the remains of our country men and women covering adjoining buildings. And the very sidewalk where we stood stopped desperate people as they plunged from the towers in a last irrational gasp of hope to their death. Memories of the sounds from the 9/11 documentary rang faintly in my ears while I stood there imagining them land.

Afterwards, we walked Wall street, past NYSE, and to my local ATM where I withdrew cash and saved fee money (up to $7.50 now). We closed our trip by walking to the Staten Island ferry station and I encouraged my brother to get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty which he did.

I rode the 5 express to Grand Central with my brother, we made arrangements for me to pick him up on Thursday, and then I took the 5 and then 4 express to Atlantic where the MTA worker roused the homeless sleeper.

It was good to have my brother here. Despite the thrilling hustle of New York, I'm still lonely for others from my church and family.

I'll close for the night with two items a practical one and a curiosity. I have to move my car by 6:00 AM tomorrow so workers can resurface the street in front of 820. So I'll be up early to move my car to and probably walk back until people arrive there between 8:00 and 9:00 AM.

And the curious trend of women in skirts and colorful rubber boots. Stunning, svelte women walked briskly through the subway stations and streets of Manhattan wearing all colors of rubber boots. Pink. Brown plaid. Black. Blue. Green. Yellow. And as they walked, the boot uppers flexed and skirts touched or covered the tops of many boots. As a counter point, many other women wore flips or flat sandals that are unaffected by rain and puddles.

But the curious boots make me remember popular press about women wearing athletic sneakers as business attire in the streets of New York, but I marvel at the $8 boot phenomenon.

Seeing boots led to sarcasm-rich commentary about the price of $8 rubber boots going for $100 or more in Manhattan. Location. Location. Location.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Potatoes, Apples, and Watching Chickens Wander the Yard

My brother's family is in town so I drove myself and my uncle to mom and dad's house for a free breakfast. We visited for a while and when I got restless, I returned home.

While at mom and dad's I saw a photo of a local woman picking 'early apples' to get rid of the weaker ones. I consulted my uncle on the short drive home and he agreed it would be a good idea.

So I picked 15 to 20 pounds of small, mis-shapen apples and I dumped them so the deer can eat them under my hunting blind.

Then I picked potatoes and let the chickens roam the yard. I did some maintenance in the coop while the hens wandered. Today is much hotter than yesterday during the family picnic.

I'll walk to my uncle's house soon to watch the Red Sox game. Tomorrow, I pick up my brother and drive him to CT for work on my return to NYC.

It's an idyllic day.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Familiar Times

My cats are nestled around my legs and I sit, happy in my home. We had our Somero family picnic this afternoon at my house and I am simply content and happy as I always am afterwards.

Somero Family Picnic 2007

I own 1/3 of my grandfather's original property. A brook flows through a valley at the bottom of my land and my property includes part of an old cow pasture and hay field. Shortly after my family bought the property, we have had picnics near the brook and this goes back to the 1920s and 30s.

Uncle Edwin at the Family Picnic 1

Once a summer, as many of us who can gather congregate, preferably at my house in the old family property. We laugh, we eat, we tell age-worn jokes, and just enjoy each other's company.

Kids swam in the brook. We played horseshoes. A young relative fed and watered my laying hens relentlessly. I barbecued a broiler that I raised earlier in the spring and summer.

The Natural Dwight Tries For a Ringer 1

Edwin Tries For a Ringer 1

Dean Throws a Shoe 1

We enjoyed familiar times.

Friday, July 20, 2007

New Hampshire Night

I spent the day getting ready for the family picnic tomorrow. Oftentimes, we have over sixty people, but this year the number will be around thirty. The families with young children are off on vacation or otherwise engaged.

I contacted a head hunter today in case my other opportunities fall through. My roommate goes home for a vacation tomorrow morning and we'll leave for the airport before sunrise.

My chickens are nearly big enough to lay eggs, but they have three or four weeks to go before they do.

On Monday, I bring my brother to Stamford on my trip to Brooklyn. I'm mulling over what I should do for work in the long-term. I'm thankful to have options.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Having a blast!

Waking up is difficult because for the first time, I did something social last night and I didn't sleep until midnight or so. I found a Flickr group called NYC Social and I met several photographers at Water Taxi Beach to see the sun set over Manhattan.

Before making my way to Water Taxi Beach, I went to the financial district to get cash from the local ATM (six dollars saved now!) and I knew something was different due to the number of policemen patrolling the streets near Wall Street throughout the financial district.

Unintelligible announcements rang through the subway stations regarding an investigation at Grand Central an investigation that affects train service at Grand Central and elsewhere. So my sequence of trains to the Water Taxi Beach was unusual, but then again, I suspect that I always take unusual routes to get anywhere around New York City.

Eventually, I approached the beach and I saw blazing sunsets cast over Manhattan and I snapped a few photos. I entered the beach and enjoyed my time talking, laughing, and of course, snapping photos with the other NYC Social photographers.

I returned late and surprisingly, a nearby unsecure wireless router allowed me to use the Internet for a half hour or so. Eventually, I wound down and slept.

Today I return to New Hampshire shortly after noon. I need to visit Lilly to drop off money (and a framed photo) for Annabelle and I'll go to for a while. The owner talked about cutting me a check and I need to talk to him about my status and the prospect of long-term employment.

The air was crisp and cool when I woke up. I slept well. It will be good to be in NH tonight, but I'm increasingly comfortable here so I don't feel urgency to return. To use an old IBM phrase, 'It would be nice, but not be necessary' to be in New Hampshire tonight.

Before I close, here is one piece of social commentary that rotates through my thoughts to extend my heavy words from yesterday regarding my belief that our societal foundation rests in people living in Section 8 housing. Each weekday morning, I hear heavy vehicles pass the apartment. Usually I ignore the sounds, but the last few days I moved the window shades to see school buses rumbling past.

Odd, I think for the middle of July. And yesterday, I see two women comforting a young boy boarding the bus. What else can school in the middle of July indicate but hope and progress? There's societal hope here.

I like it here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Brooklyn Rain

I smell the scent of rain in the chilly, humid air flowing in the window. The sky is overcast, thick grey and the forecast on the TV last night said today would bring intermittent rain showers.

Yesterday afternoon, I had a stomach ache followed by a few hurried trips to the bathroom. I also felt a haunting headache just behind my eyes so I interpret my symptoms as having a touch of the flu. I feel better now, thankfully.

Working at changed greatly my perspective of life in Brooklyn. For one, my thinking is focused and I learn daily about an industry in which I know so little. And the familiar routine of helping a business succeed flows through me and I analyze this and that like I have for every job that I have held. How can this be more efficient? How can things improve? How? How?

I would write more about work, but my blog is meant to describe living, not work. However, the self-realization that when I do work, the effort consumes most of my energy is telling and relevant. I struggled with this last year when I was looking to change jobs from SeaChange to something. My question then is realized now, 'Could I work odd jobs and avoid traditional 40+ hour work?' Perhaps I can and I'm in the middle of my grand experiment.

One thing that I wonder about New York City is how people make enough money to survive. I wrote weeks ago about an angry man who clearly had a bad day, yelling, screaming, and carrying on. He stopped yesterday, walking a small dog, in front of the 820 apartment while I watched some men trim the trees growing from the sidewalk.

He talked mostly about his anger regarding his stolen car radio, 'Because I was dumb and parked it up on 46th Street. They took what they wanted. It was a fancy radio that the face slid out and had a little touch screen.' I focused on details while he talked. He is missing a tooth. His hair cut to an 1/8th of an inch. Tattoos pepper his body. His language surprisingly articulate. And the hopeful spirit of Brooklyn that I sense flows through his brief statements.

For example, by implicitly comparing 46th Street with 42nd Street he corroborates Yang's story of civic pride on this street. Yang said to me weeks ago, 'The people on this street make a lot of noise, but they are generally good. They don't steal.' And this angry man who apparently lives in Section 8 housing supported the statement.

But he also described the problem and the struggle. A large ornate metal earring adorned his left ear. His flashy belt buckle was some type of silver and gold. A few rings flashed in the morning sunlight as his hands moved while he talked. He continued, 'It's tough man, it really is. I work public sanitation and it's not easy to get by. They just took what they want. Took what they want. Public sanitation, it's not easy, boss. Anyway, have a good day, boss. Good talking.'

He walked away.

My thinking followed in the trough of his words and I thought to myself, 'I have nothing here to steal save some electronics which I hide. I have savings and a crappy, 10 year old car. Yet this guy wears his wealth for public display and invests in a radio that undoubtedly is a target for thieves.' The Biblical phrase, 'The meek shall inherit the earth.' is clear and present here.

The Chinese, quiet, active, fit, family oriented, are quite meek as they go about their daily affairs. Some Hispanics are showy, wealth forward, yet some like the Mexicans are reserved, quiet, and deferential. The balance tips heavily towards the meek in unseen, lasting ways. Asians rarely complain of crime, but their wealth, like mine, sits in the bank earning a meager interest. Move on world. Nothing to see here. Nothing to see.

So I wonder how the lower-paid workers survive. Perhaps Section 8 housing is full of the service workers who prepare fast food, provide janitorial services, work menial jobs in the warehouses. Maybe they are stuck, in debt, scratching and clawing towards a better existence. Yet as Derek and I discussed, they live a more honest and genuine lifestyle than the gentrified, overweight American middle class. They dream American.

Beneath the veneer of the angry man is hope. Somewhere in the Section 8 housing that surrounds 820 are the families who struggle daily and their struggle is our foundation.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pink Clouds

Humidity was low last night and sleep was easy. At 6:20 AM, the crisp, cool air flowing in the window is refreshing and pleasant. This contrasts greatly against the sweltering heat and humidity from last week.

My awestruck fascination with Brooklyn is fading especially now that I have a job here. Rather than soaking up everything in the local community, I am focused on how to earn money and help the company I work for grow. But the Brooklyn experience is not completely lost because, for example, last night the smell of Asian cooking flowed into my bedroom soon followed by loud talking and some inexplicable banging on the walls.

Or when I walked home from work last night, I passed an open door to an apartment on 5th Avenue and I smelled Puerto Rican cooking rich with oil and fried food.

Despite my headache yesterday, I continued to appreciate the children here while I walked to work. An Hispanic man shepherded three children up the street past four Asian children. An Asian toddler with fuzzy, straight-black hair waddled among three older ones. They all laughed as the tallest child grabbed the toddler by the hands and tried to give the young child a piggy back ride. The weight of the toddler wobbled the larger child. I strode past their peals of laughing and delighted screaming.

My uncle returned my call last night and we talked for several minutes. Something was bothering him, but he didn't say and I didn't read the clues well enough to gain insight. I was in my cot at 7:30, reading, and I fell asleep sometime shortly after 9:00. I slept until just after six and when I peeked out the bedroom window, I saw a light blue sky and delicate pink clouds. It looks as though I missed a glorious sunrise.

I feel lazy, slow of thought, and happy to enjoy the cool breeze flowing through the window. I have to move my car today between 9:30 and 11:00, I have to work, eat, rest. I am unsure whether or not I will do any sight-seeing or not. When I first moved here, I thought that I might bake bread so perhaps this week or next I can start doing that.

Monday, July 16, 2007

C-Town Grocery Girl

Back in Brooklyn. I started from my house shortly after 8:00 AM and I arrived at 1:45 PM. I stopped several times because I felt tired and traffic was bad as soon as I got into the City. I'm a bit road weary.

The temperatures are hot and humid here. I plan to use my Internet time at the cafe, get some groceries, and then walk to ArtToFrames to give them an invoice for my effort last week.

One bit of insight before I close. Last Thursday when I arrived in New Hampshire, I was struck by how green everything is there. Green lawn, trees, fields, bushes, weeds even. Everything was strikingly green. Thinking now about the color reminds me of being in our descent into Helsinki, Finland in 1997 where I saw one after the other emerald green fields peppering the Finnish landscape.

Before I walked to Art To Frames to drop off my invoice, I stopped in C-Town. I went into the line of the same checkout girl as last week. She smiled at me, 'I see you in here all the time. Do you want a C-Town card?' I smiled back and talked a little with her and I noticed all her *bling!* *bling!* (including a wedding band).

I said that I would get a C-Town card next week so that I have some privacy to debate which address I should use.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Quiet in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire air is cool, crisp, and dry today. I began waking up at sunrise, but I lingered in bed until nearly 7:00 AM. I have a pretty good headache and my sinuses seem dry. My mood wasn't the greatest yesterday due most likely to the physical toll of waking early to drive, not having the Internet, the transition from Brooklyn to New Hampshire, anxiety about impressing the folks at my new job, and so on.

Thousands of thoughts for the blog swirled through my brain yesterday, but at the moment, thoughts are slow and empty. This common condition is precisely why I so often think that I am not intelligent.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Return Home

(written on 07/13/07)
Return. Tired. DSL didn't work. Mom helped clean my house. Wrote two letters for Guy couldn't fix the DSL problem. Met someone for AYSO. Zoned out. Sleep.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pannukakku Before My First Day on the NEW JOB!

Shortly after the sunrise that was not visible through the hazy cloudcover, I walked to Sunset park to sit and take photos.

On my way home, I saw an Asian woman walking backwards. From time to time, I sit on the church stoop to read the paper and I occasionally see this lady walking backwards, slowly of course, up and down the street. This reminds me of the hundreds of quirky pecadillos that I see daily in the thousands of people who pass.

The other day, for example, a man sat in the adjoining bench to me in Union Square. He had a top hat with a couple of feathers sticking from it and he wore pants, boots, and a slightly dirty New York Yankees shirt. He had several earrings, bracelets, and a narrow, braided black pony tail emerged from under his hat and trailed downwards along his back.

Interesting character, I thought, and then he took off his shirt for some reason to reveal a gaunt pale upper body with numerous tattoos: of Yankees symbols. He rummages through his bag and takes out his supper. He snaps open a sweating bottle of Snapple lemonade and places the bottle on the cement with a soft clank. He plays with the cover and rips off the plastic seal and finally places the bottle cap on his drink.

Again from his bag a submarine sandwich appears. He does a few tricks to place the sandwich in a brown paper bag like a winos bottle and starts to eat. I see bread hit the sidewalk and watch from the corner of my eye that every third bite or so, he rips bread, eats half, and tosses the remainder on the sidewalk for pigeons.

I tried to make eye contact with the guy, but he was clearly engrossed in his routine. The pigeons milling about in front of us bothered me because passerbys would stir them up, flapping about, so I arose and walked around Union Square again.

This Yankees guy was not isolated. A man earlier passed by squawking like a pigeon, a belt around his felt hat securing several pigeon feathers. Most of the jaded New Yorkers only blinked, but one or two turned to look at the man belting out an interpretation of pigeon calls, perhaps wishing he could escape his reality and become a pigeon?

If I could only capture and describe all that I see.

I swept the sidewalk in the morning and I noticed someone stretched the garbage bag so I assume that Annabelle was here. I need to write out my schedule for her and give it to Lilly. Speaking of whom, I should make some pannukakkua and bring that to Lilly to return the kind favor of the fruit she gave me the other day.

I'm looking forward to working, but they start so late! I debated sleeping in this morning because after work, I'll go to Central Park to meet Derek and I'll be undoubtedly exhausted at the end of today. But sleep will come easy tonight and I can drive home tomorrow and relax in the serene comfort of rural New Ipswich soon enough.

Here are some photos of sights on 42nd Street and the apartment where I live.

Patriotism in Brooklyn 1

The 820 Apartment in Brooklyn 1

No Ball Playing 1

A Co-Op in Brooklyn 1

Trash Pickup Day on 42nd 1

Lilly invited me in to share some of the pannukakku and she offered me a cup of coffee. We talked and chatted and she said simply, 'Work your hardest on your new job!'

As expected I am happily tired after working for five hours and then meeting Derek.

I walked through a light rain on my return to the apartment and noticed something on my windshield. A ticket for parking on the wrong side of the street during street cleaning. Who knew that the rules are different for the other side of the street? I did, I guess, but I forgot. So today turned into an expensive day with the $45 dollar fine.

After I worked, I took a series of trains to the financial district to get cash (I have now saved a total of $4.50 in fees) and then I made my way to Central Park. As I entered the park, a light rain began to fall increasingly heavy. I met Derek on the north side of Sheep Meadow and we walked, talked, dodged rain, ate a nice supper, walked, talked, and ate dessert at McDonald's.

It's good to reunite with like-minded friends and despite my happily tired thoughts, mom's words ring softly in my ears, 'Make new friends, but keep the old. One are silver, and the other gold.' I'll sleep now and plan my New Hampshire return in the wee hours of the morning.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Comfort Food; A Job! A Job!

After I fell asleep last night, my phone rang surprising me. My brother called to talk about his upcoming trip home to New Hampshire and his schedule for going to Stamford, CT for work. We made arrangements and talked for several minutes before I tried to return to sleep which did not come easily.

I woke with a headache well after sunrise and I picked up yesterdays unread paper. In the centerfold. I found a listing of public WiFi hotspots in the City including Union Square where I sat yesterday. So finally, I have a resource to use free, public Internet. There are two dozen hotspots in Manhattan and three in Brooklyn.

Today I have to move my car for the street sweeper and then call Yale Framing to see if I can visit them and discuss usability issues on their web application. I'm really hoping this turns into a paying job, but that remains to be seen. While I'm moving my car, I may try to find Shore Drive that Helena talked about and take a driving tour of Brooklyn.

It's hot. I feel the humidity, but I'm thankful that the headache that I woke with is easing.

Someone once asked me what my comfort food was and I fumbled for an answer similar to how I fumble about when someone asks me what I do not like to eat. Most times, eating is a logical thing where I just need calories and nutrition. Until today when I stumbled into a comfort food that I'll call Aiti's Crackers and Cheese Omlette.

Aiti is the Finnish word for mother that we refer to my grandmother Somero. She was a creative cook and often concocted the strangest mixtures of fruits for salads, preserves and so on. But as a young boy even I furrowed my brow when Aiti said, 'Crumple up some Saltine crackers into your scrambled egg mixture.' Huh?

So I did then and occasionally over the years. Here's the recipe for Aiti's Crackers and Cheese Omlette:

3 eggs
1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. grated cheese (I used mozerella, but it could be any cheese)
6 crushed saltine crackers
3 dashes of salt
1 pat of butter

Crack the eggs into a bowl and add the milk. Whisk. Add the salt, cheese, and crackers. Add a little water if needed. Heat the frying pan to temperature and coat it with melted butter. Scramble the eggs.

The dish turned out quite nicely and I had fond memories of my dear Aiti while I ate this morning.


In junior high school, I figured that Tuesday was the most productive day of the week because everyone was back in the swing of school, the weekend forgotten, but the upcoming weekend wasn't in the forefront of everyone's thoughts. Somewhere along the line, I read an article that indicated that business is most productive on Tuesday, also. So was today.

Helena suggested that Shore Drive in southwestern Brooklyn was a must see so after talking to my mom who called to playfully ask if I melted in the heat, I took a long winding path to Shore Drive and drove it from end to end. Every Tuesday, the car has to move from 9:30 to 11:00 to allow the street sweeper to do his duty. And being at Shore Drive was in my opinion, better than advertised.

From the walkway and park off Shore Drive, I called Art To Frames and said that I would stop by at 2:00 in the afternoon. I also called my dad and got some information for a former co-worker's job search as well as valuable information for the levelling device startup company.

I returned to the apartment, ate lunch, rested, and walked to the Internet cafe to read that Tracy's feedback for was quite similar to mine. I walked in the sweltering heat to Art To Frames and they welcomed me into a conference room. Before discussing usability, Jeff said simply, 'I'd rather pay you than accept your efforts for free. How about you invoice me until things are more settled?' I smiled because that was the offer I was going to propose to him. We settled on an hourly wage.

Aaron arrived and he, Jeff, and I set down to work on listing usability issues and discussing possible solutions.

After a few hours, I tired so I drank the rest of my water, ate some raisins, a granola bar, and more water from their bubbler. Inside, cartwheels. I was employed again! Before I left, I discussed my hours with Jeff and I plan on arriving tomorrow to perform functional and usability testing. Derek called when I was there and we'll meet in Central Park at 5:00 tomorrow afternoon.

On my walk home, I tried to call home, my roommate, and finally I connected with my work-friend Jim and I happily rattled off details of my new job. is a startup company within an established, but previously faltering company and the owner, Jeff, sees the Internet as the true growth potential for his business.

His two engineers are building an application and he could use a third person such as myself to provide feedback, guidance, and a more professional flair to the site. He will also, I think, use me for sales and marketing. I can work either locally or remote. So I'll be doing usability, QA, writing, market research, sales, and general services for my hourly wage. Before I could talk much farther with Jeff, he explained that there would be a commission for any sales that I generate.

I was hoping to be a generalist in a start-up environment and here I am!

After talking to Jim on the phone, I dumped my laptop off at the apartment and went to find the Italians to tell them about my new job.

They were all happy and congratulatory as I made my way to Brooklyn Heights to eat a nice meal. Why not? Jeff asked me to invoice him for my day's efforts! Income, finally.

As a complement to my success, several people from my Compuware writing team are finding opportunities, also. Jim has three solid, competitive opportunities. Chris Turner found a job that suits him to a T. Ann-Marie is a near lock for a job. Deb is doing well with interviewing. Mike, it seems, is content to enjoy life for a moment, and poor Rowland continues to slog on at Compuware thirty days into the ninety day transition. Or as Jim said, his slow Compuware death.

On my other front, the start-up effort for the level-device is progressing, also, and I'm nearly ready to wade a little into that to see if I can generate sales.

Funny because at SeaChange, the scathing social critics used to whisper, salesman, behind my back. Who would have known?

My thoughts are racing ahead of themselves, but I can now start thinking of living in Brooklyn on a more permanent basis. I don't want to give up my house in New Hampshire, but I would like a place to sleep here so that I can work a day or two in person and maintain a personal touch with Jeff, Aaron, and Yoshii. Also, if I am going to be involved in sales, I need a homebase to launch from.

But one thing at a time and the key is to relax and let things happen as they are meant to. Life is so much easier when I do not chomp at the bit. Going at high speed is fun. Railing contrary to fate is not so fun.

My apartment is sweltering. Perhaps I should try to sleep.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Washing, Cafe Membership, History Lesson


I trimmed the grass in the backyard and the front yard. The Asian neighbor slammed their door in disgust, maybe, due to the noise of trimming the front yard. I might go into the backyard and weed my meager garden and maybe look at the Chinese herb garden to see what is edible and what are weeds.

My ambition faltered today and I slept past sunrise. I am simply waiting today. Waiting for the heat to pass. Waiting for people to call me. Waiting for the Internet cafe to open. Waiting. I hate waiting.

I didn't take enough clean t-shirts so I may wash a load of laundry today. Tristan coached Jim last weekend that all clothes should be kept up off the floor because bugs could crawl into them and be carried unwittingly back to New Hampshire. I was dubious until I found a big dead bug on the floor in the living room corner.

So, my habits have to change, tighten again. Last night I flipped the kitchen light switch on and I found more bugs crawling to safety under the counter edge. I sprayed some of the aerosol bug spray into the edge and I might spray some boric acid between the wall and the edge of the counter.

Bugs normally don't bother me, but I like them less and less. And I'm tired of the allergies here, too. Before I left, my mom told me that as a toddler I would break out into heat rash when my family lived in Puerto Rico and she would dust my rashes with corn starch. I suspect that something about old buildings, dust mites maybe, is the cause. Or does something to do with bugs lead me to the rashes?

My symptoms were the worst when I worked in old mill buildings in Greenville, and now when I live here in the old apartment in the pollution of Brooklyn, the rashes are bad once again.

Luckily I have medication that works. However, heat, bugs, and rashes are turning my mood south.

Being out of work is the pits. I wonder if Yale Framing is going to call me? I should make some progress on finding medical writing work, also.


Before I left to do my laundry, I called home to ask my mom to check my voice messages at my house. We had a nice conversation and she recalled living in the basement apartment at 822 42nd Street nextdoor to where I am living.

Mom like cleanliness and she reflected on life with bugs. Apparently, for years after leaving Brooklyn and Puerto Rico (where she tells me the bugs, cockroaches, etc. are bigger) she had anxiety about lighting a dark room at night lest she see the buggers scurry for cover.

After talking to mom and doing my laundry, I signed up for a membership at the Internet cafe. I had e-mail dialog with Yale Framing, but that's about it for the time being. I'm not sure how I'll occupy the rest of my time on this sweltering day other than do research into AYSO, New York City, and simply while away time on the Internet.

Like many bad moods, something productive and hopeful sprung from it which reminds me of a phrase that I used at SeaChange when things were particularily chaotic and bleak. 'The prettiest flowers spring from the stinkiest manure.'

After I ate (which always helps) I walked to the Internet cafe and I researched photography and art galleries in Manhattan and in greater New York City. I found a place Nurture Art that is a non-profit group for helping Brooklyn-based artists establish themselves. I got their address, took an odd sequence of train transfers to get there, and walked to their front door. I saw only a security door, a doorbell, and no storefront (I hoped for a gallery to browse).

Rather than beep in, I decided to call them first but I couldn't find a cool, quiet place to call from so after a bit of comedy with trying to find a bathroom, I decided to go to Manhattan for the late afternoon and early evening.

I got off the subway in Manhattan at Union Square and I wandered around the square looking at the farmer's market and several artists who were pushing their wares. I didn't talk to anyone (and I quietly cursed my Finnish reserve), but I deduced quickly that my photography is vastly different than what other artists are peddling on the streets.

So I sat on a shaded park bench and I watched people. Across the path from me, a darkly tanned man with white hair sat, smoking a cigarette. Two women emerged from the children's play area with a young boy. One lady plopped the boy on the other woman's back, high up near her shoulders. The other lady took a long green and blue shawl and wrapped it around the boy and the first woman, then again, and again and finally tied the sling securing the boy to the woman's back.

They neatly placed their bags in the baby stroller and wandered off. While the woman was wrapping the baby, I glanced several times at the suntanned man and he watched, as I did, transfixed, smiling. When they left, I made eye contact with the man and we smiled and shrugged. Our wordless expression told the common refrain, 'Only in New York!'

I wandered around Union Square a few times and finally settled on spending some money at McDonald's on a large shake that I brought back to the same benches, a little farther down, to sit and eat. Across from me, two women sat and talked and one laughed loudly with a tinge of jealousy perhaps, because their conversation was loud and edgy. She commented that the other woman was getting lucky tonight and her words reminded me of the TV show 'Sex in the City'. The two could be actors on their set.

On my way back to the apartment, I was reluctant to write about the two women, but strangely, what I saw was a precursor to a later conversation.

I took another strange transfer sequence on the trains until I got off on the 9th Avenue station. I walked slowly up 41st to see if the Italians were on the street and in the mood to talk (when aren't they?). First I talked to Angie who asked me about my job, commenting on her distaste for hot, humid weather and fearful disgust of thunder storms.

Then I spoke with Vinnie and his daughter and we chewed the fat of John's health, the heat, optimism, health care and a few other world problems that we undoubtedly solve with our simple discussions. While we talked, Lilly slowly made her way down her stairs to walk the sidewalk before finally resting on her stairs. Vinnie saw this and encouraged me to chat with Lilly.

I talked to Lilly for a few moments and she offered social commentary, also. Saying simply, 'People aren't as sincere as they used to be.' Which led somehow to an invitation to try a nectarine that her son brought for her so I followed her inside her apartment to visit.

I'm eating the cherries (soon to be followed by the nectarine) that she gave me while I write and they are scrumptious.

We sat and during our conversation, tears welled in my eyes several times. She spoke candidly about the loss of her husband, her frustration with aging, her children, her grandchildren and her approach to child rearing. We touched on religion and compared our respective faiths and I finally felt compelled to offer my phone number so that I could help her with chores around her apartment complex.

She washed fruit for me, dried it in paper towel, secured it in a ziplock bag and let it rest easily in my grasp so I could eat it later. I feel strongly that elderly people need to live and solve problems to stay vibrant so I wasn't going to refuse this marvelous act of kindness. Lilly and I have a cardinal thing in common: we have plenty of free time, so I was not in a hurry.

This led to a story from the day before that ties into my experience at Union Square.

'Girls these days are worse than boys!' Lilly explained. 'I mean sexually. They are so I don't know the word for it. Forward. Just yesterday, a girl had a boy pinned on my fence and she was begging for sex. She was thirteen or fourteen and holding the boy against the fence making these hand motions. I thought to myself and wanted to yell, 'Go home to your mother!' But Tim, it's terrible out there. These kids learn all this from their parents who have boyfriends, girlfriends, live with each other. I believe in having one husband and one wife.'

'So I wasn't sure exactly what to do, so I went out there and pretended that I was sweeping the sidewalk. I went up to the two of them and asked, 'Are you looking for someone?' The boy looked at me and said, 'No.' And I said again, 'Are you sure that you're not looking for someone?' I wasn't going to be so forward as to tell the girl to go back to her mother!'

'Finally they moved to the church! And they carried on leaning against the fence of your church, Tim! It's awful.'

So Lilly's story compelled me to write and include what I heard the two women talking about in Union Square. In no way am I perfect in thought, action, or deed, but Lilly describes so well in the sunset of her life the effect of our changing social mores. Even in my little New Hampshire town, a mixed family of marriages, divorces, step children, and second, third marriages changes the very social fabric that we live in.

And we both sadly concluded that the children learn from we adults. To what end?

But gladly, she isn't one to wallow in melancholy because she immediately started complaining about someone and moved on to a few other topics before I said my goodbyes. I walked to the Internet cafe to check my e-mail and it looks like Yale Framing welcomes me to visit to discuss usability issues on their Art To Frames website application.

Derek called me and postponed our visit tomorrow so I'll walk to Art to Frames and see what develops there. Maybe I'll get a free lunch.

Time to make some phonecalls and then try to sleep.

I started thinking about how to take photos in the City and I have to work on that. Maybe tomorrow morning I can walk to Sunset park at sunrise (how ironic!) and test some of my ideas.

oh yeah, another tidbit from Union Square. I smiled at myself while I unveiled the two photographs that I hauled with me. I took them out of my bag while I sat on the bench at Union Square and I looked at them, self-critically. I compared my work to the work of the Union Square artists and I was humbled or more like a fish out of water. Their stuff is crazily weird compared to my fine art nature photos.

I suspect that dentists and doctors might hang my work in their offices to soothe their patients. In fact, I might make a walking tour of various medical offices in the area and hawk my work door to door. I'm not looking to get rich, but I would love to recoup the money that I invested in framing.