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 ArtToFrames.com 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 ArtToFrames.com, 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 ArtToFrames.com 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 ArtToFrames.com. 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 PlentyOfFish.com. 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 (BWAC.org) 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 BWAC.org 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 BWAC.org 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!

BWAC.org 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 ArtToFrames.com and BWAC.org business bring me regularly to the NYC.

After I left the BWAC.org 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 ArtToFrames.com 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 ArtToFrames.com 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 ArtToFrames.com.

She talked to Amy first about framing and photography, and then we talked about ArtToFrames.com. 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 BWAC.org giving me insight and contacts into displaying my photography in their gallery (hopefully in September). I had seen BWAC.org 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 ArtToFrames.com and BWAC.org. 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 PlentyOfFish.com 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 ArtToFrames.com 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 ArtToFrames.com and talked with Amy, Aaron, and Jeff. Aaron tells me that searching with google for ArtToFrames.com 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 ArtToFrames.com, 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 ArtToFrames.com 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 ArtToFrames.com 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 ArtToFrames.com 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 ArtToFrames.com. 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 ArtToFrames.com 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. ArtToFrames.com 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.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Brooklyn Birds

Birds. There are a lot of birds here and every morning there's a relentless cacophony of bird talk. Today they seem to be resting, but other mornings the sound is incredible.

Our plan today is not set. We discussed going to Coney Island or maybe we'll return to Manhattan. Or maybe we'll do nothing and just sit around here like lumps on a log. It's good to have my friends here.

More later.

We ate breakfast at a local diner and then we spent the morning at Coney Island walking the decrepit boardwalk and along the edge of the surf. The air was cool in the hollow where the surf touches the sand and fifty yards in the hot dry sand from the water, opressive heat bore down on us. We talked to some attractive NYPD officers to get a reference to L & B Spumoni's where we ate (a highly recommended) lunch.

After a subway ride to the apartment and a brief rest, Tristan and Jim left and I fell sound asleep watching golf for a late afternoon nap. This usually is a curse to staying awake until 2:00 AM that I dread.

After I woke, I hijacked some Internet time, wrote some e-mails, and craved some sweets. I ordered a framed print from Yale Framing and the time that I knew would arrive did. I'm sitting here bored and lonely. It's too early to sleep. The hustle of the City doesn't appeal to me as much as being able to lay in New Hampshire in some relatives couch napping, talking, or watching some television. Or maybe wandering around my yard, watching my chickens, or playing with my cats.

I could work tonight by researching the Yale Framing marketing problems, or trying to sell the levelling devices, or doing some volunteer stuff for AYSO. But that requires me to walk to the Internet cafe because I no longer detect my friendly neighborhood unsecure wireless router.

Tomorrow, I plan to continue scraping the porch housing and maybe contact Yale Framing. I should e-mail them with my impression of their online ordering system, for example. Then the remainder of my day is unsure. I thought of taking photos at Coney Island at sunrise or maybe going to Battery Park at the tip of Manhattan to take sunrise photos and witness the flood of people crowding the Manhattan sidewalks during their scurry to work.

On Tuesday, I meet my friend Derek in the early afternoon at Central Park to play soccer and visit. Maybe I'll return to New Hampshire earlier this week than I planned. Maybe Jeff will call me with a job offer and I'll be soon busier than ever.

Maybe I will simply wallow in this long forgotten melancholy so integral in my younger days. The refrain from the golden oldie song rings softly in my ears: 'Their ain't no cure for the summertime blues.'

As I predicted, I don't feel sleepy due to my late-afternoon nap. I watched a soccer game on TV followed by Cold Case and I spent some time playing one of the video games in my phone.

My schedule here is a hunting schedule where I wake at or before sunrise and I am usually dead tired by 9:00 pm at night. Therefore, the New York City nightlife is passing me by. Things seem too dangerous at night and I'm not very interested anyway. Sight-seeing this weekend made this clear to me because what little knowledge that I acquired so far is all daylight knowledge.

This morning Tristan said he heard a rambunctious block party out on the street last night. I slept right through it, but now that I can't sleep, I'm more aware than usual, but still not interested. There isn't any party, but I hear people occasionally talking, laughing, and cars driving by.

Funny also that my lifestyle while I live here is much more mainstream than my lifestyle in New Hampshire. In New Hampshire I rarely watch the news and my grasp of current events is sketchy at best. I follow my own interests and leave things at that.

But in Brooklyn I read the paper daily, I watch the TV news on a regular basis, and I'm even watch more TV. Not having an Internet connection in the apartment plays a big part in this, but then again, part of the appeal of Brooklyn is the endless opportunity.

So I still have to figure out what to do tomorrow. I'm thinking that I should wake up at sunrise and take photos, but where? I could go to Coney Island to see if the fishermen are there. I could go to lower Manhattan. Maybe Central Park would be interesting?

Ah...the familiar internal Finnish debate. My family seems prone to this debating trait and we always seem to have an unsolvable problem in mind to keep things balanced, I guess. I ramble now so I'll close.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

A Twelve Hour Tour

(Written on the morning of 07/08/07.)

Tristan, Jim, and I spent nearly 12 hours sight-seeing. I spent $50 and although Tristan wanted to press on and take the Staten Island Ferry, I was spent financially and physically. I dozed on the subway ride to Brooklyn and I slept shortly after we returned.

Someone put a crumpled, white piece of paper under my windshield wiper blade and I'm curious about that. Hopefully it's not a signal or a sign. I guess that's bound to happen at some point.

Some literature describes a fleeting sense of flow. Kids may characterize the same thing on immediate reflection as, 'That was fun!' We were there yesterday as we wandered the streets of Manhattan.

Jim and Tristan had divergent sight-seeing goals so I worried some wondering how things would work out. Jim wanted to see the typical tourist spots and Tristan wanted an intimate look into the City by finding a hole in the wall, ethnic restaurant to eat at. But all three of us had common interest in girl watching since on any given, busy street in Manhattan, the population of our New Hampshire town walks by every hour or so.

First, they bought all you can ride subway passes (I learned the economy of these passes since I first arrived) and went to the financial district in lower Manhattan. Wall Street fit into Jim's sight-seeing ambition. And of course, we used the local ATM and avoided fees.

We found a diner to eat breakfast, and wandered Wall Street and the World Trade Center site. Afterwards, we took subways close to Washington Square Park so we could sight-see, or in other words: girl watch. Action wasn't heavy there so we wandered Grenwich Village which seemed to sleep yet so we quickly changed gears and took the subway to 34th Street just outside of Madison Square Garden.

We playfully followed Jim through the tourist crowded streets and I told him, 'It's all about Jim today. Maybe we can just cross intersections with the 'Walk' signal and see where we end up'. Eventually, we hit many of the big tourist sites such as Madison Square Garden, Times Square, Rockerfeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, the NBC Studios, and much more.

Jim thought a movie would be nice to sit in air-conditioned comfort so we went to a Loews Theater and watched Live Free or Die Harder, a delightful film. I liked the humor, the story, the dramatic conflict, and I even laughed out loud several times.

Suddenly the afternoon waned so we followed Tristan next to Little Italy and had a marginal (in my opinion) Italian dinner. Afterwards in a nearby subway station, we looked at a map and slowly, sleepily debated our next move. The consensus was to return to the apartment and rest rather than wait for the sunset and take the Staten Island ferry after dark.

We returned to Brooklyn. Tristan stopped for food. In the apartment, everyone dozed and I slept soundly.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Fighting the Brain Suckers

Brooklyn is wet from rain and I'm fighting the brain suckers in my computer that are called pinball, solitare, hearts, and minesweeper. Jeff from Yale Frames said yesterday that he would call me last night so I waited in the apartment for him to call. I also left a message with Helena and resting seemed like a capitol idea.

No one called. I played games until my brain was numb, determined to win.

I had plenty of time to let the job opportunity at Yale Framing percolate in my thoughts. If I were Jeff, I wouldn't call right away either. I would consult my staff, look at the financial implications, and decide if taking an impulsive risk like this would be the best way to go. I like the opportunity because it's a good fit for my skills.

But you know, there are opportunities everywhere. My volunteer obligations in New Ipswich are weighing heavier on my mind than my lack of work.

Last week in Brooklyn was sort of an unveiling. The jazziness is less this time. I'm not discovering everything like I did before, but I'm reminded comfortably of what I like about Brooklyn. While walking on the local sidewalks yesterday, I caught Alfie's eye, or maybe his wife caught my eye and she elbowed him, at a stoplight near his house. I stopped to chat for a few moments and in true Brooklyn form he asks, 'Did you have snow in New Hampshire? Welcome back.'

I like this place.

Today I should do something and much of that depends on the weather. I'd like to take photos somewhere and maybe I'll break down and take the train to Prospect Park and take photos in the Botanical Gardens. If the sun comes out, raindrops, sun, and flowers always make a great combination. I could bring my photos to Manhattan (the framing job is amazing!), but I'm reluctant still until I learn more. More of what? I'm unsure. But if I had Internet access I could do some research to ease my anxiety.

So I beat most of the brain suckers to my satisfaction. I won a perplexing arrangement in Hearts; I beat first, second, and nearly beat third level of Minesweeper; I won a solitare round; and I have a new top score in Pinball. Enough brain sucking for me. Time to turn to real life and see what I can drum up today.

Yogurt and maybe oatmeal are first on the list.

It's late afternoon now and I spent most of the day at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in Prospect Park. Recent violence at Prospect Park cast an foreboding aura and I saw numerous NYPD patrols throughout the park. Inside the Botanical Garden, there wasn't any evidence of violence, but that was likely due to the $8 admission fee.

Earlier this morning as I walked from the apartment to the 9th Avenue subway station, I stopped and talked with Alfie for quite a while. He's from Sicily and as Lilly said last week, 'The ones born in Italy know the soil.' Alfie and I had a long, technical discussion about gardening, soil, pests, and plant health. It's familiar and comfortable to talk about agriculture, yet surprising to do so in the midst of the City.

After talking with Alfie, I took the train to Prospect Park and learned that the garden opens at 10:00 AM. I was early, but my pattern here is to rise with the sun so I'm typically early for everything.

Since I paid the $8 admission fee, I stubbornly stayed long and took hundreds of photos of various flowers, plants, and things that caught my eye. This part of Brooklyn differs from the cheerful immigrant class around my apartment so there were less children. But again many mothers, or maybe nannies, pushed strollers through the garden paths.

Flowers at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden 1

Childrens Garden in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden 1

Helena called me while in the park and we made tentative arrangements to meet at some point. She's helping me find a contact in the publishing industry to get me insight there.

Grape Vines at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden 1

I didn't talk to anyone in the park and I stubbornly bought only a sandwich at their cafe and I drank water from the fountains scattered throughout the park. What fascinated me the most was finding two forgotten wine glasses nestled in the rain splayed gravel between stone benches at the Alfred T. White memorial. Rain filled the glasses with water so I dubbed the 'Rain Glasses' and marvelled at the gravel on their glass bottoms and stems.

Elsewhere in the Native Flora Garden, I learned the proper names of many trees and shrubs that I see regularly in the New Hampshire woods. The rose gardens were past their bloom.
Tristan and Jim arrive later tonight and I look forward to seeing my cousin and friend in Brooklyn.

Time to use the Internet cafe to upload the photos and update my blog.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Brooklyn Again


I drove to Yale Framing and I picked up my framed photos. During discussion with Jeff and Aaron, I have a job opportunity with Yale Framing to market Yale Framing on the Internet.

I called Derek and we'll get together next Tuesday.

I'm hungry.

My beans sprouted nicely and the basil sprouted, also. I have to do my sidewalk sweeping routine shortly, mail some bills and deposits, and then find something to eat. I'm debating whether I should make food here or eat out. I need to get groceries, also.

Like my first go-round, I have to remember that this is a pace thing. Not a sprint.
Also while I was in New Hampshire, a manufacturer approached me to be a rep for their product and help them build their business. Now Yale Framing. Maybe I'm finding my niche? Now it's just a matter of how to make money.

At the grocery store, the checkout girl asked me about chocolate yogurt and we had a friendly chat. She's looking for Breyer's Chocolate Smoothie yogurt and complained, 'The TV shouldn't show anything that isn't for sale yet.' Indeed.

On my walk back to the apartment, children again captivated me as mothers tended their toddlers as they walked around doing their daily business.

I'm a little bored, so I wrote up a proposal for Yale Framing and Molding, updated my resume, printed them both and walked them to Yale. Jeff seemed very excited and he's going to call me tonight to talk further.

My route home went through Sunset Park and it was a joy to see the children playing organized games with the recreation staff. One game was like duck, duck, goose, but with a water-laden sponge. Each player dripped water on everyone seated in the circle until they wrung out the sponge on some unsuspecting person. Funny how the recreation staff was the target of 9 of 10 rounds.

There is such a hopeful, optomistic spirit here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

4th of July

Rain is falling outside and I'm heading back to Brooklyn after I sleep for a few hours. I'd rather drive at night than deal with rush hour traffic. I'm excited to return.

I didn't do much today except for nurse a slight headache and be quite lazy. I looked at my finances and I could probably make it financially until next year, but I'd be dead broke (except for my retirement) so I figure that I have to make some cash soon.

We had our Temple Band concert tonight despite intermittent light rain. 40 to 50 loyal fans listened to us and musically, we're doing better than we have in many years.

My parents returned from their vacation so I visited them after the concert.

The next entry will be from Brooklyn.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Waning moonlight

The air is brisk and chilly in New Hampshire tonight. I golfed quite a bit over the weekend and I have anxiety over spending the money, but it was fun and good to be with my friends and family.

I have a to do list to work through until I return to Brooklyn early Thursday morning. I would like to find a way to make some cash.

Things seemed hyped up due to the full moon, but the cool temps and the waning moon are making things subdued. New Hampshire is comfortable, familiar, and routine for me so unless something remarkable happens, I'll post another blog entry after I return to Brooklyn.