Desert Nocturne

 

Sonoran desert animals are awake and busy in the dark of night. Except for an occasional coyote kill or an owl’s hoot, the cottontail rabbits, javelina, and bobcats move about ever so quietly. The animals that come for a drink take turns at the water dish. Javelina travel in packs. They will get pushy and jockey for the last drop. When that happens, the adults root into the irrigation hoses in search of more water. Life in the desert must have that precious liquid.

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As daylight fades, I take the field camera outside and wind the strap around a tree. An Ultra Plus 16 GB disc is in place. I flip the On button and cross my fingers. Some nights are really slow – typical of any watering hole.

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Sunny Puerto Rico

A week of sun and fun in Puerto Rico – when I lived in New York, I’d take 3-day weekend trips to San Juan. Lutece on the Beach, a favorite guest house in Ocean Park, is now just a picture on a postcard. Condo towers, hotels, and gated communities are the new normal. Still, the charm remains in historic Old San Juan, Luquillo, El Yunque, and La Perla. If you haven’t been to the island, I say, go and enjoy! We rented a car from Alamo and got right into stampedes of wild drivers. For all the recklessness, I never saw a collision.

Our first destination and reason to visit was the Arecibo Observatory. The internet has all the facts about the world’s second largest single-dish radio telescope. Nearby on PR-10 is Cueva Ventana with two small dry caves and guided tours. On the eastern end of the island is beautiful Luquillo Beach. We went back to El Yunque, a rain forest with hiking trails, waterfalls, and a zipline. The road down the back side of the mountain is still being repaired. Remember Hurricane Maria?

We stopped for a seafood lunch at Ernestina’s in Luquillo. Then on to lovely road that skirts the beach to Loiza. On a gorgeous Sunday people spread out on the beach, under trees, and in the water. We met a woman who after living in Miami for eight years has returned to the island. She’s happy with her decision. Life is good!

Old San Juan, another favorite place to explore. We scheduled a 2-hour walking tour with David Rodriquez (recommend). Since the Harmony of the Seas (6,000+ passengers) was docked in the harbor, streets were crowded with tourists. Ships stay for a day and sail on. Those tourist dollars sure help the economy. We had the rental car and slithered it through the narrow street of La Perla, and visited the cemetery. A 75 cent ferry drive takes passengers from the harbor over to Catano. We wanted to take a bus from Catano to Bayamon, but let that idea pass. The interior bus the windows were opaque – what was that all about? No view, no bus ride.

Explore Puerto Rico – the islands of Vieques and Culebra. So much to see and, indeed, tourist dollars will help the economy.  Enjoy the photos!

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The Furnace

      On an ordinary, run errands afternoon, I drove from place to place listening to Eli Wiesel’s recorded book “Night.” When Wiesel was fifteen the Nazi’s sent him and his family to Auschwitz. “Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.” Wiesel used the word incinerator, and its meaning awakened a childhood memory.

The eerie cellar in our 3-family house on W. Runyon Street in Newark also had furnaces that sent smoke to the sky. Chunks of coal were incinerated and transformed first into heat and then into smoke. At the end of the cycle ashes were saved and mixed into garden dirt as fertilizer. Some ashes were stored and sprinkled on winter’s icy sidewalks. All those ashes at Auschwitz — what happened to them? I don’t know, but the story my mother and Wiesel told made the furnace an instrument of death.

When I was probably about nine years old, my mother wanted me to know about a woman, her baby, and a furnace. As a newborn I lived with my parents in an apartment building on South 15th Street. Ralph Martinelli, a roughly cut, good-natured Italian, or wop, as my father might have said, worked part-time hours as the building superintendent. Mazie, his wife sold lingerie at Bamberger’s, a downtown department store. Already married five years, Ralph and Mazie wanted a child of their own, yet nothing ever came of their desire.

On an afternoon of her choice when my mother and I were alone, she began a story. Upon reflection, I did not need to know about the Martinelli’s or their son. His birth and adoption made no difference to me, especially at age nine. The two couples stayed friends for years, even after Ralph moved his family out of Newark. I suppose my mother wanted me to know that families are formed in more than one way.

“Ralphie, Jr. is adopted. He’s not the Martinelli’s real child,” my mother began as if telling a secret. “Ralphie’s mother wanted to throw her baby into a furnace. Big Ralph saved the boy’s life, and they raised him as their own.”

My mother said an unhappy and poor woman took her baby to the cellar. I imagined a cellar likes ours on W. Runyon Street — a dirty, dank place with shadows, coal bins, and storage cribs where feral mother cats gave birth to litter after litter. On winter nights I hated going to the cellar. Scary down there when I had to set the damper and adjust the flue. A winter fire needed to be banked just right. 

Back to the story —the sound of someone in the cellar brought Ralph out of his workroom. As I listened to my mother, I imagined his shock. A woman stood in front of an open furnace fire with a baby in her arms.

“What are you doing, Anna?”

“I don’t want the baby,” she cried. “I’m going to throw him into the furnace.”

“Are you nuts, Anna? Gimme that kid!” Ralph grabbed the child from her arms.

“I can’t take it anymore,” she sobbed. ” He cries all the time. I’m going crazy. I don’t want him.”

The horror of what might have been had a happy ending. From the cellar to talks in the upstairs apartments, the Martinelli’s and the woman reached an agreement. My mother never explained the legal details, and those would not have matter to me. She said that after a few months and with great joy, Ralph and Mazie adopted the baby. The birth mother turned away, moved away, and never looked back.

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A Few New Images

I love the juxtaposition and humor of street scenes. Anonymous, creative people make travel fun, especially as I try to figure out what’s going on. Then there are those nuanced images I see with my own eyes and record just because they are unique. A few months ago travels took me to Boston, Quebec, and Montreal. That said, here are a few new images.

Woman texting on the train from Boston to Salisbury.

On a morning walk along Newbury Street, I saw two retail stores that might attract similar customers.

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Here’s an inspirational message left in the ladies room of North Station, Boston. One anonymous woman giving encouragement to another. Thanks for the kind words, sister.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will exhibit works by Alexander Calder until February 24, 2019. Hens and roosters are favorite creatures, and here’s a Calder that makes me smile.

On to Old Town in Montreal with its cobblestone streets and plenty of restaurants. A great find was the Stash Café on St. Paul Street, W., serving Eastern European food.

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Last stop was Old Quebec. A funicular takes passengers up top of the city, then you can walk down. I did not photograph historic buildings or statues. Images of a clothing store with an audacious name and a restroom dispenser concluded my trip.

Windy Day

Tucson – November 13. All through the night an east wind battered chimes, shook the potted petunias silly, and snapped tree branches from their trunks. In early morning at Abby-walking time, I buffeted the wind with a jacket and an Annie Hall hat pulled down over my ears. A great day for sailing! Except, I don’t live anywhere near the sea. Let me share some images with you to show the beauty of wind, rain, and sky. You can almost smell the fresh, clear air.

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Robert Louis Stevenson:

O wind, a-blowing all day long. O wind, that sings so loud a song.

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New York City – Images.3

Here are a few signs that span amusing and practical to philosophical and sad. Each image is a message, a micro-story, in the big, bold City of New York. On my way by taxi from LaGuardia Airport to the city, I heeded the warning – do not assault the driver. Jorge was a lovely man who immigrated from the island of Jamaica years ago. Why would anyone want to harm him or any other driver?

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TeeShirts.2                                                         Tee Shirts – Little Italy

LittleItaly.Menu                                                                     Menu – Little Italy

RatsNYC                                                                    More Cats, Please

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Saddest of All, Asleep on 7th Avenue

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New York City – Images.2

Construction and teardowns are constant activies in the city. Sky high and stiletto thin hotels and apartment buildings welcome the wealthy.  Older neighborhoods along 14th Street and into the Meat Packing District are being dismantled brick by brick. ‘Way back when, my one-bedroom apartment on E. 18th Street between 2nd and 3rd rented for $240/month. Richard’s two bedroom, 2-bath at Quaker Ridge (21st & 3rd), now a condominium, sells for $1 million. As apartment buildings are demolished in low-income neighborhoods tenants struggle to find affordable housing. No matter its flaws, New York City is fabulous!

A friend recommended the Salisbury Hotel, an older hotel on 57th between 6th and 7th Avenues. Excellent choice as the hotel has large rooms — our room had two closets, all the amenities, including a safe that locked with a key. Great neighborhood with a Duane Reed on one corner, restaurants, and a subway entrance on 7th Avenue.

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142 W. 57th Street

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View from the High Line

WaterTower

View from the Whitney Museum of American Art

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West 14th Street & Ninth Avenue

LittleItaly

Little Italy

Molly's

Molly’s (Originally named Molly Malone’s)

 

Sailboat

WaterTaxi

Views from the Staten Island Ferry

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