Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 12, 2012

Weather - 1:00 PM ... Air: 38. Sunroom: 42. H: 71. L: 22. Soil: ?. RH: med. Sky: sun through thin clouds. Wind: ?. Birds ... Finally found the new suet feeder. Downy woodpeckers and chickadees visited.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December 11, 2012

Finally, a load of wood chips delivered to the gardens. Good stuff too. Fresh, clean and prime. Way on the other side of the gardens, however, couldn't be further away. I'd say it's got to be a quarter mile off. Did five very full wheelbarrow loads. Chipped the grape arbor area, most of the rear patio in front of the nursery and the small west-facing front patio. Listening Bach's 'Goldberg Variations', performed by Glenn Gould. Every day. Over and over again. The way I listened to music as a kid - driving everyone crazy.

Clearing to sun from showers, 40's. Good garden working weather. Sat pleasantly in the sunroom between barrows, almost 60° or so. The birds still haven't discovered the newly filled suet feeder. But birds sometimes take weeks to find a new feeder and feel confident enough to fly in.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

February 25, 2012

Image ... Nightclub entrance, Nassau.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

February 16, 2012

Image ... Lower Mills.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February 15, 2012

Well, as some of you may know, my camera - a beloved Olympus D-620L - along with my entire camera bag was stolen. I was robbed in SOWA in the South End, which can be a rough neighborhood with thieves, drug dealers, prostitutes, addicts, sex offenders and the insane. Plus the artists, cops, art dealers, yuppies and loft-living lawyers. That was the start to my new year. I'd had that camera since 1999, the first affordable (a grand or so over ten years ago) digital SLR that came on the market. That camera had heart. How could I ever replace it?

Anyway, so now I'm cameraless, for the first time since I began photographing. But I'm looking around. I've always wanted a Leica M. That was Cartier Bresson's camera, of course. The M9 is digital, $10,000 with a lens or two.

Walking around seeing pictures and making notes, taking word pictures.

There's a woman who I see almost every day, sometimes several times, in the vicinity of the Prudential Center or Copley Place. I think she's an Indian from the Andes, but I'm not sure. She has a large face topped with a thick thatch of matted brown hair and slightly slanting eyes. She dresses in thick, warm-looking layers of yellow, red and blue ponchos under which she carries two bulging white cotton bags. She's always hatless and wears sockless sandals in every weather. Her legs are like tree trunks.

She often does a little dance standing in place, swaying and stepping from side to side, sometimes smiling, and falls to sleep standing up, eyes closed, head thrown slightly back, never losing her balance, eyes suddenly snapping open as if out of a distant dream. Sometimes I see her eating at Shaw's supermarket when I'm shopping.

Speaking of which, what is it with Whole Foods and their wretched prepared foods commanding premium prices? Their steam table offerings are awful - they can't even make a decent American Chop Suey - and the over-priced prefab refrigerated sandwiches (who wants a cold sandwich anyway?) and deli items are DOA.

Image ... Map mural (detail) on a traffic signal control box. Across from the Stony Brook T station in Jamaica Plain.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day all!

Image ... Door transom near Old North Church.

Monday, February 13, 2012

February 13, 2012

Mitt Romney stated that he was seriously conservative as the governor of Massachusetts. I, and more than a few others, thought that phrase was seriously weird. But then Sarah Pailin proved once again that she has the permanent lock and patent on weirdness.

Whitney? Did I miss something. She sang schlock. I Will Always Love You? Case closed. At least Bobby Brown could dance.

Image ... Woodswoman.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

February 9, 2012

Here's one of the Red-tailed hawks who frequent the gardens. Aren't they magificent?
As Peter says, Aren't you always thrilled when the hawks fly overhead? Yes, without a doubt.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February 8, 2012

Thought for now ...
Sauces are the splendor and the glory of French cooking.
... Julia Child.

Image ... Prayer flags, Dorchester.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

February 7, 2012

Thought for now ...
I don't watch TV. I have no time for that. You know, that's another thing. When I'm at home alone, I hate voices. I like music or singing, but I hate voices and stories. It has the feeling that they enter my life. I love to be alone to read, to sketch with music, but I don't like ready-made images. I prefer to live on my imagination.
... Karl Lagerfeld.

Image ... Tony playing drums with Blacksnake at Lucky's.

Monday, February 6, 2012

February 6, 2012

Image ... Light tower at Fenway Park.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February 5, 2012

Image ... Psychic's chair.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

February 4, 2012

Image ... Roofdeck outside Roofscape's old office ovwerlooking the Fiedler footbridge.

Friday, February 3, 2012

February 3, 2012

Le Chameau

On many days my regular route from SOWA profond to Back Bay, my home base, leads up Shawmut Avenue and past The Syrian Grocery. The display window features a crazy jumble suggesting a junk shop in some seedy souk. Hookahs, omelet pans, chased brass serving trays, kitchen utensils, a Little French Chef toy cooking set, packages of dried dates and figs, pots and pans, tagines, lanterns, pot holders, candlesticks, plus a myriad of other miscellania requisite for civilized living ... and a camel saddle.

The store has been there for years, ever since the street became the center of the Boston's Syrian and Lebanese communities (Kahlil Gibran, the author of The Prophet, lived here). In the years I've been browsing, the same camel saddle has been a fixture in the window.

It became a private little joke. I'd stare in the window and think, "I guess that there's just not that much demand nowadays for camel saddles in the South End." And the thought would always make me smile (I'm easily amused).

Then the other day, surveying the Syrian window I saw ... the camel saddle was gone. I looked high and low. How could this be? After all these years ... gone. And I said under my breath, "I wonder who just bought a camel?"

Champignons Fourme d'Ambert

Fourme d’Ambert is one of the oldest French cheeses, dating back at least to the Roman occupation around the turn of the millennium and probably even earlier to the Gauls and Druids. Fourme, from the Old French word for cheese, is a mild, semi-hard cow’s milk blue cheese. Ambert is the center of Fourme’s production, a town in the rugged and rural Auvergne region of south-central France.

It’s one of the mildest and subtlest of blue cheeses, quite understated compared to the more robust and equally ancient Roquefort, made with sheep’s milk. Fourme is rich, creamy, buttery, with at least a 50% fat content, and a light blue veining. It has an earthy sort of odor, absorbed no doubt from the damp caves it’s aged in. It’s profile is often described as deep and dark, punchy and spicy. Flavor overtones frequently mentioned include: roasted nuts, mushrooms and wine with delicate hints of fruit. It often appeals to people who think that they don’t like stinky and/or blue cheeses.


large stuffing mushrooms, stems removed, caps and stems washed, stems minced
extra-virgin olive oil
shallots, minced
garlic, minced and mashed
celery, minced
bacon, cooked and minced
thyme or Herbes de Provence
parsley, curly
chestnuts, cooked and minced
bread crumbs, from a crusty country-style white loaf
lemon zest
white wine, dry
soy sauce
pepper, freshly ground
Fourme d’Ambert cheese

Thursday, February 2, 2012

February 2, 2012

Image ... Basketball court, North End.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February 1, 2012

Image ... Painter.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 31, 2012

Image ... Fence. South End, Boston.

Monday, January 30, 2012

January 30, 2012

I'd like to note the passing of Kevin White, the former mayor of Boston for 16 years, from 1968 to 1984, on last Friday at age 82.

Image ... Statuette.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

January 29, 2012

Image ... Bull's-eye glass transom, the North End.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

January 28, 2012

This is going to be our Valentine's Day card. Haven't a clue what the source image was.

Image ... Erato.

Friday, January 27, 2012

January 27, 2012

Image ... Willow Leaves. South End, Boston.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

January 24, 2012

Image ... Girl with a Lemonade Stand. The Minuteman Bikeway.

Monday, January 23, 2012

January 23, 2012

Image ... Colored stones.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

January 22, 2012

Made and moved Roofscape #1 to-do list to Google Calendar's Tasks. Edited and reorganized the other two task lists.

Stopped by the garden to drop off clothes from PSI locker re-org. Sat in sometimes sun, in the sunroom, over several inches of snow, and finished Julie and Julia. It cooked all the way through. The haters are idiots. So glad I didn't have to suffer Meryl Streep, however. Talk about insufferable. Some day a movie will be made without her. Until then no one is completely safe.

Lunch at Haley House. Sunday afternoon meals are always special. Menu: sliced baked ham, garden salad with a light Italian dressing, rice pilaf, rolls, apple juice, brownies and cookies. A group of very polite and fresh-faced boys from Boston Latin did the serving, dish washing, sweeping, swabbing, and I assume (arriving late), helped with the prep.

Sad to say, the diners were the usual collection of lily-white, no-nothing, bigoted idiot, Obama, King and Patrick - hating, loud-mouthed, rabid Republican losers, inveighing against the welfare state while sucking down their free food. As is always their wont. I keep myself to myself and say nothing. What can you say to total self-absorbed assholes?

Image ... Snowhill Street. The North End, Boston.

Collards, Cod and Quinoa


2 large bunches collard greens, washed, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced and mashed
1 large stalk celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 8 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cherry bell pepper. seeded and diced or 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 smoked ham hock
1 teaspoon capers, minced and mashed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pound cod or haddock fillets
6 cups cooked quinoa
Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated


Clean the collards carefully, they tend to be dirty. Some people go so far as to run them through a clothes washer. That seems rather extreme to me. I suggest just several changes of water in a large pot and a final rinse under running water.

Prepare the vegetables and place them in a large cooking pot with all but the last two items (the cod and quinoa). Collards are stemmed, or stripped of their leaves, simply by pulling the stalk (which tends to be tough) through pinched fingers.
Bring the pot to a boil over a medium flame, then lower to a slow simmer, cover and allow to cook for two hours or so. Collards are fully cooked when they melt in your mouth. This is not novelle cuisine.

Remove the bay leaf and ham hock from the pot. Skin the hock, chop the meat and return it to the pot.

Turn up the flame a bit and add the whole codfish fillets. Simmer for 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Let the pot sit for 10 minutes or so to finish cooking the fish.

Serve over cooked quinoa with freshly grated Parmesan to top.

Friday, January 20, 2012

January 20, 2012

Happy Chinese New Years, January 23. Year of the Dragon!

Image ... Chinatown playground.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

January 17, 2012

Image ... Installation.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Janaury 16, 2012

Thought for now ...
Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image ... One of a Kind.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

January 15, 2012

Happy birthday Dr. King. Age 83 this year - and ageless!

Image ... Curtains, Legal Seafoods.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

January 14, 2012

Image ... Daffodils.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

January 12, 2012


Trying to find if, OK, I can't say it, but if NBSP is kosher under XHTML. So tired. Need a rest.

Image ... Deux chevaux with feathers.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January 11, 2012

Image ... Wrapping papers. By Joe Thompson.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Janaury 10, 2012

Light work @ Y. Staples: reporters' notebooks. Stopped by garden. Appt. with Payne. Shopped (see below). Lunch @ HH: rice/veg stuffed squash, awful. BPL: read Adele, awful too.

Shopped Shawmut Avenue: Formaggio, The Syrian Grocery, Wholy Grain. Lingered long in Syrian Grocery, getting to know and trying to figure out their stock. Which is wide, world-wide, a strange mix, not simply Syrian.

Image ... Garden patio in snow.

Monday, January 9, 2012

January 9, 2012

Clothes shopping in AM: running shoes, jeans, shirt, unders, gloves.
Studio: email, Journal, RS review.
Work with Betty.
Dinner @ Legal: haddock, mashed potatoes, broccoli, Vouvray.
Discovered The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, Pterror Over Paris.
Full Wolf Moon.

Image ... New building at the Pru.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

January 8, 2012

Added and formatted first installment of Olmsted article.

Trimmed a bucket full of zebra grass from small garden and turned it into bed A3 (last year's carrots, just in front of the ferns). Really lofted the soil. Also added last of compost from rear composter. Mined a wheelbarrow full of compost from community pile and added to A1. 40's, quite pleasant, sun and clouds.

Swore it would be a day off, and it sort of was. Lounged in the sunroom soaking up rays, meditating, ie. spacing out, thinking no particular thoughts.

Lunch at Haley House: brisket of beef, roasted potatoes, salad, rolls, gingerbread (didn't have). Everything perfectly done. Cooked by Kathleen O'Connor (who's also the H.H. Board Treasurer), her husband and their volunteer group. A great meal. Offered to work with her group.

Image ... Kylee with Kiwis.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

January 7, 2012

Worked on Roofscape design and programming in the morning. Added and formatted Orion text, wrote and formatted Credits. New Journalentry, as daily.

To garden. Mid-50', sunny. Chopped up prunings from yesterday to pave sunroom patio. Pulled a huge clump of ground ivy. Sat in the sun. Exhausted. A big week.

Image ... Buddha in an Indian restaurant, Newbury Street.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Production notes - Roofscape #1

a. Scripting: link colors
b. Design: department names after titles above articles.
c. Contents:
d. Welcome: write.
e. Advertising.
1. Martin: photo, more text?
2. Pasta: change fish sauce to anchovies (find qty and technique for using).
3. Beans: condense opening.
4. Quotatives: correct placement of quotation marks (also in Contents).
5. Birds: intro to article a/o bird list, format of bird list.
6. Thought: change title above quote if using depertment titles.
7. Orion: text and images.
8. Winter Garden: write wrapup.
9. On the Trail: text and map.
10. Walkie-Talkie: text.
11. Riding: title, text.
12. Olmsted: text.
13. Pickman's: check and possibly edit intro.
14. Charlie's: condense, edit.
f. Credits: may be stuff to add or revise.

January 6, 2012

Worked on Roofscape's design, programming and adding of contents. Reviewed to date and planned the rest of the work. See entry above, which, with luck, will eventually get swatted down to nothing.

Partly sunny, mid-40's. To the garden for several hours. Pruned the elderberry tree back severely to fence height, grows like a big weed. Took grape arbor apart. It had been falling over forever, but now it was also falling apart.

Saw a peregrine falcon in the poplars, swooping down toward the opposite river bank.

Worked again in the afternoon. Added Pickman's with intro.

Image ... Cleomes and cobblestones.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January 5, 2012

Tried incorporating tables and lists into Roofscape. Strange results. Total waste of time. Finally made up our bird life list by simpler means. CSS/XHTML can sometimes throw unexpected curve balls at you and it's hard to figure out what's wrong.

To the garden during mid-day. Sun and clouds, 40's. Picked the rest of the Scarlet Runner beans. Have most of a collander full.

Image ... The Graces.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January 4, 2012

13° with strong sun and a west wind this morning. Walked across town, leaving in the dark, with warmup stops along the way at Haley and the Pru. I probably won't be going to the garden today.

So I wrote. But the pull was irresistable. I ended up going to the garden and spending two hours. The sun was strong and sky cloudless with the ambient air about 20° and 30° in sun. It was quite comfortable, even sitting in the sunroom.

Picked and shelled out more Scarlet Runner beans, sitting at the grill in the small garden. Left them on the vines too long and some, which I tossed out, had mold. Raked part of that garden and moved over to the main one to start building up another bed, A-1. Seven beds lofted to date, this will be the 8th. There's still some compost left. To get more I'll mine the community piles (which need sifting, 'cause people are pretty indiscriminate). Did some more pickup, cleanup and disposal. All that was cold were my feet as I walked toward downtown. Three layers gloves kept fingers fine.

In the morning, worked on the In the Winter Garden article at the Y computer lab. New Journal entry, which I'm doing daily now, with a fresh image at the top of every entry (as seen above).

Thought for now ...
We are most alive when we're in love.
... John Updike

Image ... Frosted pane, Dorchester.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

In the Winter Garden

I readily admit that I’m a reluctant gardener, maybe even not a real gardener at all. Many of my neighbors actually seem to enjoy gardening. I can't decide if I admire or pity them. To me it’s mostly a bunch of endless boring chores. I have one word to say to you - weeding. Case closed.

So why garden? Well, for the harvest of course. Bringing home brimming bags of collards, kale and chard for Green Gumbo; probably costing $50 at Whole Foods. It’s the economy stupid, I remind myself. Freshly picked vine ripened tomatoes and raspberries, which can't be bought at any price. But they can be grown in one’s garden with a little care. And yes, weeding.

Also, to enjoy the outdoors. To have a personal place to soak up the sun, see the sights, hear the birds, smell the scents. To chat or dine with friends and read a good book under a broad umbrella in a comfortable lounge chair, preferably with a tall cold drink at hand.

There are probably more than a few gardeners who share my take on our arduous avocation. These souls need some coping tactics. I have some suggestions, based on the fact that gardens are embedded, as we are, in an endless, year-around cycle and change in small increments. The overall strategy, therefore, is to do small, discrete garden tasks continually throughout every season of the year.

"This is the dead season, though, it's January!" True, but the garden's far from dead, it's just sleeping, awaiting to awaken in the spring. There's plenty we can do, little by little, while it's resting. And these ongoing off-season attentions to its welfare will greatly reduce the workload and stress during the busy planting, growing and harvesting seasons. Here are some suggestions.

Clear the planting beds, vertical growing frames, cages, stakes and fences of all annual plant materials. Set aside to add to the compost pile.

Turn the finished compost and brown soft plant materials from the composters into the planting beds. Leave the beds ungroomed, with just rough clods of soil. This will aerate the soil to aid decomposition of the brown materials and promote good drainage when the spring rains hit.

You may want to further build the soil with: additional purchased compost, peat moss (for nutrients and instant soil structure), vermiculite (for even water retention and structure) and perlite or sand (for good drainage).

Pave the paths and patios with wood chips. These provide superior water drainage, allowing you to work clean and dry in any weather, and eliminate weeds.

Prune trees, shrubs, vines and canes. Cut up the smaller of these woody plant materials and add to the wood chips.

Feed and watch the birds. Seed and suet feeders will bring hungry hordes and reward you with hours of happy bird watching. While you're at it, sit, relax and enjoy yourself in the winter quiet, so unlike the frenzy of spring.

You might want to raise the planting beds, if they are currently at ground level. Raised beds are good for many reasons. We'll cover the subject of in future articles. It's a bit of work but worth it. A reasonable approach might be to do one bed a year.

If you enjoy planning your garden for the upcoming growing season, by all means do and now's the time to do it. And here come the seed catalogs.

Now's also a good time to schlep and lay in garden supplies, building materials and tools.

Build garden structures and furnishings. These include: raised garden beds, vertical growing frames, composters, fences and gates, paths, patios, bird feeders and stations, tool sheds or boxes, cold frames, arbors and gazebos, an outdoor kitchen, garden furniture, ponds, and perhaps a sunroom for year-around comfort.

... In the works.

January 3, 2011

Writing In the Winter Garden article. Programming the new Roofscape, refining the design and functionality. Learning CSS and XHTML to do this, using the Headfirst O'Reilly guide from O'Reilly. Quite exciting.

To the garden in the late morning. In the 20's but the sun was slanting low and so strong it was quite comfortable, even just sitting in the sunroom. Pruned the bigger of the two willows and finished the smaller. Hauled the branches to the compost.

Walked all the way back across town for an appointment. All in all, probably walked close to 10 miles today.

Found a cookbook I really like, French Classics Made Easy by Richard Grausman.

Thought for now ...
... it appears probable that the progenitors of man, either the males or females or both sexes, before acquiring the power of expressing their mutual love in articulate language, endeavoured to charm each other with musical notes and rhythm.
...Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man.

Image ... Door, Dorchester.

Monday, January 2, 2012

January 2, 2012

Sunny, mid-40's, a sometimes stiff west wind. Worked in the garden between late morning to mid-afternoon.

Further pruning of grapes, finely chopping the vines into paving for the sunroom patio, which now has a dry raised floor.

Continued working in compost and garden debris from the composters, turning over the beds and turning in the materials to blend with the soil. Left the beds very rough, ungroomed, just as the sodden soil came off the shovel, in big clods. This will let plenty of air down in the soil to keep it drier and help decomposition of the organics.

Reorganized the sunroom and tool chests. Started picking the abundant Scarlet Runner beans. There will be pounds, lots on Mike's side of the fence. Pruned the willows by the front gate.

Got robbed the other day, my camera bag stolen with the Olympus (D-620L) digital camera, Eneloop charger and AA's, flash drive with image and HTML files, cell phone and charger, notebook with lots of new writing and almost full, passport and $200 cash. A hard loss, a real setback, great sadness.

Thought for now ...
Don't say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.
... Mark Twain.

Image ... Tagging.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

January 1, 2012

The sun was out and the temperature in the mid-fifties. The day pulled me and the garden called with all the chores I'd been sloughing off since the continual floods of the fall dampened my motivation - and moreover ability, being under water - to do anything.

Started with a general cleanup, securing all the supplies and picking up and wheelbarrowing trash. Finished cutting up all the grape vine prunings and paved the sunroom patio with them, raising it up nicely out of the damp. Dug out more compost and unbroken-down plant debris, turning it into the planting beds. The four raised beds and the ground level bed by the sunroom (all very damp and collapsed from waterlogging) are now built up and lofted nicely.

The weather's supposed to be fairly nice tomorrow then turn really cold. So I think Monday, once it warms up by late morning, will be another garden appreciation day. After that, I'll hunker down in Snell Library, reopening tomorrow, and work on Roofscape.

Thought for now ...
It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly. And it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life.
... Epicurus.

Image ... Shadows on sculpture. Northeastern University.