Popping Bubble Wrap

Lots of people enjoy the satisfaction of popping bubble wrap. Even the virtual kind.  On one listing for a computer game  it’s called the ultimate time waster.  There are apps with popping bubble wrap games. Some people find it a stress reliever and like hearing the pop.  Lately I have been receiving packages with a different kind of plastic with air trapped inside and they aren’t nearly as fun, just half heartedly filled with air and don’t make a good POP! More of a fizzle.

You don’t have to explain the rules to this activity. Here’s Maura on Aunt Linda’s back porch, concentrating on the task.  A detailed post of various methods of popping bubble wrap has been published over at 1000 Awesome Things( #840) so check it out here. There’s a photo of someone jumping on a big sheet of it! And there are various size bubbles.

Maura was popping the bubbles one at a time and it was fascinating to watch her take her time.  It seems a skill that’s a natural one.  Pick it up. Squeeze. Pop!





and Jack has found another use for bubble wrap

Bleecker Street Sign

Another urban shot from last week in NYC.  I was walking by this scene and had to photograph it.

It’s a cash only, no slices, no reservations, coal oven pizza place but I won’t add their name cause I am sure this is not their best look.  The restaurant grading system is prominently displayed in every window in the city.

And if you liked my Positivity Helps shot from the Urban Challenge, the challenge creator, Terence S. Jones, has added it to his collection of urban images.  You can go onto his blog here and click the heart button on the photo. Thanks.

Shammy and Sean at the Corn Festival

Last Saturday I went to the Carrick Corn Festival at Phillips Park, across the street from the high school where I’d just started my new position (digital photography teacher)  the day before. Our principal had invited us to attend and get to know the community plus it was a chance to see the Marching Band perform and shoot some photos of the event. There were Irish Step Dancers and Bhutanese Dancers and I’ve quite a few views of the corn being shucked and boiled, dripping in butter but this is the photo of the day.

At one of the booths, this man was writing people’s names and telling their meaning.  I asked if I could photograph his dog (Shammy) who was by his side with a bowl of water on the grass.  Sean told me that I should have seen her at the St. Patrick’s Day parade and he shared some snaps of her in her outfit.   Here he’s picked her up for another pose.  Even though I was short on cash, this generous gentleman wrote the meaning of my name Ruth (a friend to all)  on the back of a prayer card, using a calligraphy pen in neat writing.

Not just any prayer card but the patron saint of photographers.

He’d asked me if I knew who the patron saint of photographers was and I ‘d no idea.

He told me the story of St. Veronica and her capturing the image of Jesus’ face in the cloth she offered to him.

Receiving this unexpected gift felt like a special blessing at the start of of the new school year. Thank you Sean.

Endangered NJ Diner from the Car Window

Last Thursday I was driving back home to Pittsburgh from New York City.  I was looking for coffee and exited from Interstate 78. Drove a few miles and couldn’t find any and ended up turning around on US Route 22.  I looked over my shoulder and saw the early morning sun hitting the shiny diner.  Did a little research and found a listing on a blog all about Endangered Diners in New Jersey.  If you have a dream of saving a diner, this might be the place for you.  Once you cut through the underbrush and greenery you’ll be able to decide.  Seriously, it is sad to see such ruin and decay.   Breakfast in a decent diner is my dream meal.  Well, one of them.  I like all things DINER.  You can see a close-up photo on the link above or here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Urban

I could sift through thousands of urban photographs for this week’s challenge: urban.

There are the suburban shots of the family in my file folders, too.

Choosing a cohesive urban series was my personal challenge. The most searched term on my blog and a true urban image is NYC Rooftops at Night  which I posted in 2009.

I live and work in the city of Pittsburgh, driving across bridges and past demolitions, playgrounds and chain link fences. There are skyscrapers and empty lots. When I visit my sister in lower Manhattan there are  hundreds more images to shoot and file. And why not throw in a couple from Zagreb where Matthew lives?

So much for a cohesive series.  Here are my urban selections for this week’s challenge. A couple will be familiar if you’ve followed me for more than a year.





























One hundred other bloggers interpretations of URBAN

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Lucy, the Last of the Litter- RIP

Whether you’re a dog person, a cat person, or none of the above, you know how painful loss can be. Even when a living thing comes to the end of its life, the inevitable is difficult. There they are, with you. And then they aren’t anymore. Ever. And no matter how old or how sick, you just miss them. They entertain you, cheer you, greet you and provide companionship. You care for them, feed them, talk to them and teach them a trick or two.

First there was Eloise, a cat someone dumped in the park across the street where we live. 1992. We took her in. Laura was in second grade.

In the Spring of 1993, Eloise gave birth to Fred, Tommie and Lucy.

Lucy- the last of the litter- the only one with long hair, big green eyes- a pretty cat and sweet.

She was the loudest purrer and a docile cat. She was the most vocal and would talk back as your called her name.

My one friend thinks Steve needs a kitten. NOT! We’re not getting any more cats.

Steve said maybe a hypoallergenic dog? Down the road a bit. A little terrier? No! We just can’t have any more pets. It’s too hard to lose them. The last couple months seemed to be a cat hospice situation around here with Steve so vigilant and trying everything to make her life nice. She really was confined to one room and didn’t climb the stairs anymore.

Her being in the one room allowed the family to come this summer and sleep overnight as they suffer from cat allergies. Oh how the grandkids loved seeing Lucy. Steve would take them in and they were so happy seeing her, asking about her. I know they’ll be sad to hear she’s gone.

Earlier in the summer, Michael gave me his pet rock he’d made in day camp “for when Lucy dies”.

I think about how Mark, Erika and both of her parents and now even Laura all suffer from cat allergies. So do a couple of my good friends and it has impacted their ability to come and enjoy being in my home. Oh dear. But when Laura was growing up, she used to have cute Lucy crawl under the covers. Now she can’t be near cats without an allergic reaction.

Nineteen and a half years is a full life for a cat. Or as Mark says, she had nine wonderful lives thanks to Steve. Steve has been caring for her so tenderly. Sips of Cat Milk, special food for the thyroid. You name it. Steve was practically chewing up shrimp like a penguin mother. Now it’s hard to handle and dispose of her bowl and her drinking fountain, her pan, all the things she used.

Three weeks ago at the vet they said she was doing well for her age.

Hmmm, I thought. She didn’t look too good to me but her eyes had life and she was still using the litter pan and eating a little.

I knew she was coming down the home stretch. We talked about knowing it was time to put her down. But we hadn’t.

And so the night before the first day of school, Steve came in around 1:30 AM and said that he was petting her and she didn’t wake up. That she was gone. Friday he took her to be cremated while I started my new job. I was sorry he had to go alone. It still doesn’t seem real that she passed and isn’t coming back.

We’ll miss you Lucy.


The Swimming Pool in Raging Bull

My sister walked with us from the Parking Lot on the West Pier. We walked down St. Luke’s Place as we made our way to her apartment. Film locations abound in New York City but she thought this one especially interesting looking at night.

Mary goes to the library and can watch the swimmers  right from the library window.

AND- Audrey Hepburn’s Wait Until Dark was  filmed across the street on St Luke’s Place.(click to see location)

The pool  location is  Carmine Street Pool(click to see the scene from film) and it was about two am  Monday night/Tuesday morning and really dark.  There were some bright spotlights, too, and didn’t have time to monkey around with the ideal settings.

I set  the camera on the timer so  I didn’t get camera shake.  Propped it on a concrete ledge of the fence base.

I took it from the angle where the Keith Haring Mural wasn’t visible and didn’t go back in the daytime as I’d planned.  Next trip.

A personal note-

Drove home from NYC Thursday afternoon and Friday morning at 7:30 I start a new job as the Digital Photography Teacher at Carrick High School.  After 20 years in Elementary Art it is going to be different and I am quite excited.   Thanks to everyone for the good wishes and emails and for following the blog, leaving thoughtful comments and being patient when I don’t reply to each note.  Making adjustments to the daily post as no more staying up past midnight to blog since I have to leave my house so early.




The Cigar Maker

We went to dinner at Havana Alma de Cuba on Christopher Street in the West Village.  Mary ordered the Hemingway- mussels, shrimp, calamari, scallops in a green sauce.  I had the green plantain crusted red snapper, avocado  and sofrito sauce with black beans and yellow rice.  Flan for dessert.

Right next to our table in the front of the restaurant, a man came with a wooden box, a press, some tools. Tools for cigar making.

He unfurled large leaves of tobacco and began to roll cigars and cut them. The insides were in the wooden molds.

His hands were a blur.  I asked if I might photograph him and he agreed.  He told us the leaves were from the Dominican Republic.  The cigar pile grew.  As we prepared to leave he gave us a few cigars and matches in a bag which I gave to my son for some celebration or occasion.  Our grandfather smoked cigars on the front porch when I was a kid.  The smell of cigar smoke is strong but nostalgic.  One whiff and I can be in that memory. See him in a straw hat. No one was smoking cigars on Tuesday night but it was fascinating to watch the hands of a master roll and cut them.

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The Family Jewels in NYC

New York City- Tuesday August 21st. School starts for me in Pittsburgh on Friday so this is the LAST of the summer vacation.

My sister and I were shopping for a corded landline.  Good luck with that!  You think you have something in mind but your choices are dictated by what is produced AND what is in stock.  But that ‘s another whole story.

As we walked by this Vintage Clothing and Accessories store on West 23rd Street, The Family Jewels, we saw a young woman working on getting the padlock out of the security gate. We chatted for a minute and said we’d be back.  The vintage tablecloths caught our eye.

Meet Liz.  She graciously consented to be photographed.  She patiently explained the different ways they procure the vintage items.  And you know how I like to ask people how they get started with their collections.  She has a collection of poodle items that were gifts from friends who know she likes poodles.   She had a poodle and that’s how it all started. See her tattoo and necklace! She had the most beautiful green eyes, too. Thanks, Liz!