Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year!

Our best friends know us as well as we know ourselves. They support us emotionally and give us sage advice when we desperately need it.

Suzanne, a friend I met through blogging, is one such person. Suzanne invited me to visit her in Toronto several times and I've gone there to mutual delight. She always gives me valuable feedback and she inspires me to pursue dreams I've long held but felt blocked to follow. Suzanne is, in short, a perfect friend. 

(That's her above, sitting on my motorcycle, during a 2017 visit.)

Last year Suzanne encouraged me to do something I'd always wanted to do: appear in public as a woman. She booked a mani-pedi for us, arranged a professional makeup session, conducted a photo-shoot in a park, and topped the day with dinner at a nice restaurant. The experience (recorded here) is one of my most cherished memories.

Pandemic restrictions have been preventing us from engaging in favorite activities. For me, they've been an impediment to expressing my femininity in fashion posts. Before March I created outfit-posts every week or two but since then I've been unable to do more than a small few. I bemoaned this fact to Suzanne in a recent video-conversation. She listened and quietly made plans to help me get back on track.

Suzanne has my physical measurements and knows exactly what styles and colors I like. She knows what looks good on me and what doesn't. She's followed my fashion experiments for years, applauding successes and nursing me after failures.

Suzanne did exactly what I needed -- she selected a pretty dress for me and sent it as a surprise Christmas gift. Naturally she picked the right style and colors. She knew -- SHE KNEW -- that I'd be unable to leave the dress on a hangar in the closet. She knew I'd move Heaven and Earth to do an outfit-post. And she was right.

So here, for New Year's, I present to you my first foray into femininity in a long time. Sorely needed, sweetly appreciated. And all the credit goes to Suzanne.

Lastly, I want to thank YOU for being my friend. I value friendship above all things in life and wish you a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Year In Pictures

While good and bad things happen every year, 2020 stood out with its deep horrors. The current pandemic is lasting longer than a Grateful Dead song. 

(If you don't get that joke, ask a Boomer.)

On the plus side, many of us learned new lessons this year -- like how buying clothes is unnecessary, masks steam up your glasses, remote work sucks as bad as normal work, and video-chats don't require pants. We also discovered which of our partner's personal habits are especially annoying. That reminds me of an elderly woman who once appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson back in the Seventies. Johnny complimented her on her lengthy marriage (50 years) and asked if she'd ever considered divorce. She said, "Divorce? No. Murder? Yes!"

What bright spots did you find in 2020? Any new hobbies? Improvement of your cooking skill? Inquiry into the meaning of life? Realizing we're alone in the universe because aliens must have put up quarantine signs warning against contact with Earth?

For me, this year was a time I dove into film photography. It's a satisfying passion and scratches my creative itch. I enjoy reviving ancient cameras and shooting film that's hard to find and develop. Film photography has challenges, nostalgia, aesthetic pleasure and satisfaction from mastering new skills. I'll always remember 2020 for accelerating this hobby with turbo-boost.

Here are my favorite photos of the year. If you're interested, there are stories behind each and why they matter to me. Each picture represents the apogee of my achievement in different areas: e.g., travel photos, artistic photos, etc. Comments and feedback are gratefully appreciated.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 26, 2020


 SMEG! What's that?!

SMEG is a super-cool maker of kitchen appliances in Italy. Their products have exceptional style and high quality. SMEG was founded in 1948 and is still owned by the same family. The name SMEG is an acronym for four Italian words ("Smalterie Metallurgiche Emiliane Guastalla").

The company makes its products in several styles, my favorite of which is a retro-50's look. For example, admire this refrigerator with sensuous curved corners...

While Christmas shopping, I saw a SMEG tea kettle and fell in love. It had to -- and did -- come home with me. Look...

They also have refrigerators pained with art and, get this, one covered in denim. Real denim!

Lastly, SMEG does collaborations with other companies like Dolce & Gabbana. For car-maker Fiat, they designed a mini-fridge that has to be seen to be believed. (The top opens upward.)

Go visit the SMEG website and ogle Italian style for your kitchen!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

New Store

It takes courage to open a new retail store in the middle of a pandemic. I met one such couple today and am happy to report that both they and their wares are wonderful. We need to celebrate and support local businesses.

My friend Jaime alerted me to a new hot sauce store so I rode my motorcycle to Sayville today to check it out. The store, "Sayville 'N Spice," opened last month and it's terrific. I met the owners, Matthew and Lauri; they're lovely people. Matthew is an architect and has an office upstairs in the same building.
While I was initially attracted to the 220 varieties of hot sauces, I was utterly enraptured by the other side of the store which displays 100 big jars of fresh spices. Among them are interesting, exotic seasonings like black lava salt, smoked peppercorns and tandoori spice masala. Ingredients like these make everyone's cooking better; plus, they're fun to play with. Best of all, the store sells its spices in any quantity you want -- including small amounts like one ounce so you can experiment without committing to a large jar.
I picked up some za'atar and dukkah which are Middle Eastern blends that taste great when sprinkled on bread with olive oil. I also replenished my supply of smoked paprika which adds flavor to any sauce. I also discovered another neat product: a portable fire log that starts easily, can by carried by an attached rope-handle and is made from pure Minnesotan wood. I bought one to try in my backyard.
The store is in a classic building that's a local landmark. Matthew renovated historic Thornhill’s Pharmacy on Main Street into beautiful new retail space. (Thornhill's Pharmacy existed for over a century, from 1896 to 2010.) Cleverly, Matthew kept Thornhill's colorful outdoor sign. Everyone in town recognizes the sign from its century of use so retaining it adds to the new store's charm. This is the type of effort that keeps small downtowns alive and vibrant.
Go visit!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"


The best film of the year was just released on Netflix -- "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." Written by theatrical poet August Wilson, the movie portrays real-life blues singer Ma Rainey. Ma, called "Mother of the Blues," was one of the first to record blues music, influencing a generation of singers. 

What makes the film special are Wilson's writing which crackles with emotion and the leads' acting performances. Viola Davis does a convincing job as Ma and my favorite actor, Chadwick Boseman, is terrific as ambitious trumpeter Levee. Chadwick, who tragically died of cancer after making the film, has a string of incredible movies; "Get on Up" is the best. His work in this film is beyond Oscar-worthy: it'll be a crime if he doesn't win the award. There are scenes here that blow you away.

Do yourself a favor and see this. And "y'all just leave Levee alone about the white man."

Friday, December 18, 2020


Lately I've been eating a lot of spinach. A LOT. German supermarket LIDL sells it incredibly cheap and their large tub (enough for 4+ meals) costs practically nothing. I've been exploring new ways to eat spinach (raw, cooked, thrown in other dishes) and love its health benefits.

Some of you youngsters may not be familiar with existential philosopher Popeye the Sailor Man. Popeye famously asserts "I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam." 

Wise words. Spinach makes us strong.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Holidays

Last night New York (and most of the Midwest) got a major snowstorm. Over a foot of snow fell, cancelling school and keeping us indoors.

The snow instantly put me in a holiday spirit. Are you there yet?

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Holiday Decorating

I started my Christmas decorating today with an homage to 2020. 

What are you doing to decorate this year? Show us pictures, please!

Saturday, December 12, 2020


I carry cameras with me at all times because you never know when an arresting image will appear.

These shots are experiments; ideas being tried out. Do any work for you?

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Huntington, NY

I wandered around my hometown last week looking for interesting visual images. I found these two.

It's surprising how sharp the pictures are, given they were taken with a 1957 Kodak Brownie Starflex camera that cost $10 new. Its cheap plastic lens is aided by the high resolution of 127-roll film (ISO 100).

To me, creating images this way feels like magic. What do you think?