October 31, 2009

All together ooky

Altered Pumpkins (Ipswitch, MA)

Before LSB and I hit the haunted streets of Beacon Hill, I thought I would pull together some of the Halloweeniest images from the past year or so. Enjoy...

Union Square (Somerville, MA)

Menacing Towel Bunny (from a hotel in Houston, TX)

A Very Creepy Saint (Talloires, France)

If you had a B&B, wouldn't you hang
this in a guest room? (Woodstock, VT)

Christians & Pagans (Union Sq, Somerville, MA)

You don't get any ookier (Atlanta, GA)

Basement level with a view (Concord, MA)

Raw Meat + Bandaid = Gross

Their eyes are glowing!

I have lamb for hands! Muuuhahahaaa!

Happy Halloween.

October 27, 2009

Slaw Dogs on the Midnight Train

On my most recent trip to ATL, I actually left the airport.

After checking into my hotel--situated somewhere in the limbo between Midtown and Downtown--I ventured into the greasy heart of the city. I started with a polarizing landmark perched above a massive highway: The Varsity. Everyone I met in the Atlanta area was adamant that I either "must go" or "must avoid" the place. Apparently, it is known equally for the greasy food (as one person mentioned, even the soda has an oily film on it) and the curt service (What'll ya have!?). I went, promptly ordered the two slaw dog combo meal, and sat in a large, nearly empty room with rows of desks situated like a classroom facing a large-screen TV tuned to ESPN. My meal was a bit heavy on the slaw and light on the dog, but I didn't notice any grease in my cola.

Midnight Train (photo credit: Gladys & Ron)

The next stop on my slog through the Southern Belly involved chicken & waffles. Specifically, Gladys Knight and Ron Winans' Chicken & Waffles. I had the "Midnight Train" (4 large, fried chicken wings and one waffle) while Gladys Knight interviews and performances flashed on the various television screens around the room. Somehow the odd combination of sweet and savory, greasy and syrupy seemed to do the trick.

Step off

We spent an afternoon wandering through crowds of people repeatedly trying to take flash photos of fish at the aquarium. If the picture-taking behavior of the aquarium masses are any indication of the human race's inability to learn and adapt, then we are all doomed. We were also reminded by a well-placed sign to step off the (slow-) moving walkway at the Atlanta Aquarium lest our brains be dashed on the fake rocks ahead. That said, it was a pretty cool aquarium and I took a lot of dark, blurry pictures of fish.

Turner Field made funky by Picasa

LSB and I were in town for a friend's wedding, and were generously invited to an Atlanta Brave's game the day before the ceremony and reception. Unfortunately, the Brave's had just fallen short a few days earlier in their attempt to land a wild card spot in the playoffs, so there was a touch of melancholy at Turner Field that afternoon. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the afternoon at the ballpark, drank tall boys of lawnmower beers in the upper deck, and Tomahawk Chopped away any guilt we felt about supporting a racial stereotype. The game went to extra innings.

I walked through this gate and
have regretted it ever since

October 13, 2009

Bjartur of Heart Rock Farm

half a flock (the ladies)

A few years ago, I came across a book that piqued my curiousity. It was published in 1946, helped its auther win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and then quickly disappeared from print for several decades before being rediscovered by the literary world...and eventually me.

The setting

Independent People tells the bleak and beautiful (but mostly bleak) story of Bjartur of Summerhouses, a sheep farmer, poet, and father stubbornly trying to eke out a life for himself in early 20th-century Iceland--self-sufficient and beholden to no man. To be honest, reading this book was a bit like Bjartur's life--an endless slog through a rough, snow and ice-covered landscape. Though, in a good way, if that's possible.

A handful of sheep snacks makes
for one
photogenic ewe.

Which brings me to the topic of today's post: my brother, who lives with his family in his own tiny little Iceland, in Erie County, just Southeast of Buffalo, NY. He, too, lives on a farm of sorts (dubbed Heart Rock Farm), has sheep of the Icelandic variety, is independently-minded, strives for self-sufficiency, and lives in a really cold and snowy part of the world. However, as my brother--who is not actually named Bjartur--is neither brutally stubborn nor an epic poet (his wife is the writer), that's about as far as I can carry the comparison with the fictional Bjartur.

In addition to the 5 human residents (my brother, sister-in-law, two nieces, and a nephew), Heart Rock Farm is home to about a dozen of the wooly buggers, with names such as Nora, Thunder, Cassie, and Rainbow, in addition to a whole bunch of chickens, a couple of cats, a rabbit, a dog, an old fashioned tractor, and a wooden cider press. There is a small stream, full of salamanders, that runs through a forest on the hill just beyond the barn and sheep pasture.

Scary, evil-looking rams (made possible by
cool special effects on Picasa)

I don't recall there being salamanders at Summerhouses.

October 06, 2009


(Go Sox)

Autumn at Fenway

Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidean determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities. Its right field is one of the deepest in the American League, while its left field is the shortest; the high left-field wall, three hundred and fifteen feet from home plate along the foul line, virtually thrusts its surface at right-handed hitters.

Exerpt from: "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," by John Updike