Photography Blog

Return to Okitsu Beach

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Diver's Fishing Basket

 

It has been a while since I have taken the time to gather my thoughts and post.  There has been much that has been swirling around my heart as the summer heat rises, and energy can be sapped.

There are times the world is overwhelming.  There is too much stimuli.  Not only too much, but it is often distorted through the lens of propaganda and misinformation.  The constant stream weighs heavily on my as I make my way.

It with all these emotions that we packed up the car and headed for the annual Slump Tennis beach BBQ party.  What is Slump?  That is a good question.  It is a casual group of friends that all play tennis together.  I, myself, don’t chase the fuzzy yellow ball, but my wife does.

Okitsu beach is on the southern end of series of beaches of Katsuura on the Chiba Peninsula.  It is a quiet town, that in it’s glory days was a small thriving fishing port.  Those days are long gone, but the fisherman’s boats and nets still trek out into the open Pacific Ocean.

Okitsu beach is a place for families.  There are nearly no groups of boys hoping to pick up some bikini clad girls.  None of that here.  Just lots of families gathered together for a day of fun in the sun.

We were lucky that the skies were a bit overcast which kept the mercury low.  The day before had seen a high of 35C (95F).  The sun poked out from time to time, but for the most part it was a lovely day with out searing our flesh.

It was great to let the cold salty waters wash over my overloaded heart and mind.  Just to get away from the city sprawl and reconnect with the beach of my youth.  I love to just wander around the old town, and walk up and down the small sandy stretch of beach.

The beach is littered with fragments of Japanese blue and white porcelain pottery.  No one has been able to tell me why there is always so much pottery to be found on this beach.  Do the fisherman just toss bowls into the waves when they are done with them?  Some of the pieces have had their sharp edges polished by the surf and the sand.

I was thankful to be away from it all.  To be able to relax with some friends, have some good food, play a little beach baseball, and to wander with my camera.

When the times are as turbulent as they are these days the first tragedy is the truth, we need the time to reconnect and sort though and discard the unneeded.  The day at Oktisu Beach helped to put it all back into proper perspective.

 
High Tide Coming Storm

Okitsu Lazy Nets

Creeping VInes into Cold Storage Warehouse

Boats Docks Sea Hills Sky, Okitsu Beach

7 Buddhist Years for Yachiyo

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

7 Buddhist Years for Yachiyo (My Mother in Law who Accepted Me and Kept Me Well Fed)

 

It has been 7 Buddhist years since the passing of my mother-in-law, Yachiyo.  I am not exactly sure what is the difference between a Buddhist year and other years, but it doest really matter.

The immediate family all gathered at our local Shingon Temple to hear some sutras, burn some incense and a short sermon by the 3 generation priest.  I am always fascinated by the bells, chimes, and bead rubbing the priest performs as part of the rituals.  I was torn between being absorbed in the sights, and repeating the Kaddish in my mind.  At least the bits of it i have committed from my youth.

The bits of wooden incense that are burned of hot coals always make me feel ill.  I am not sure if it is psychosomatic, or actually allergic to the woods and perfumes.  I was so deathly ill at the wake back on a cold day in January, 2008.

Yahciyo was special.  She always treated me like a son.  She would stuff money in my pocket no matter how much I protested.  There was always food in the house to keep my belly full.  No matter how oddly unconventional I looked I was her son from the west.  It never mattered.

She rarely ever went out with the family.  There was one time when she took us to her favorite sushi shop somewhere in Ginza.  It was the first authentic sushi I had ever eaten.  Before that it was only the cheap kaiten sushi.  The maguro flowed off the vinegar tinged rice.  She laughed and had a good time with us all.

We both shared a sweet tooth, and once she found out I like Pocky, she always kept stocked around the house or shipped it in care packages to us in the states.

I miss her.

This is for you.

Lots of love

Jacob, your Miami born son.

 

Sunamachi Ginza, The Other, Other Ginza

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Wall of Plants (No Bicycle Parking), Sunamachi Ginza

 

I have passed by this shopping street countless times.  It was always on my list to head back over there and take a stroll down the street.  After all, it is relatively in my own neighborhood.

The sun was high when I started off for the Sunamachi Ginza.  It is one of those spots that isn’t talked about much in a guide book.  It is off the beaten Tokyo path.  It is not like the Ginza of endless shopping stores.  These are little mom and pop stores that line a narrow street.  They are hawking every thing from all sorts of delectables to assorted stationary goods.  And if you can imagine it, it probably can be found on this street.

This is the way Tokyoites used to shop.   Spread all over Tokyo were shopping streets.  They are usually known as Shotengai or Ginza.  They are places were you’d do your daily shopping and then some.

I really didn’t buy anything on the street.  But I did head down a couple of the even narrow streets to see how the Sunamachi neighbors lived.

The houses were all neat and cramped.  Lots had the frontside gardens that I am so infatuated with.  It was a good day out.  The sun was blazing.  It was a great three hour cycle ride. The summer starts here.
Corrugated Living with Post Slot, Sunamachi Ginza

 

 

One Door, One Cone Three Plants, Sunamachi Ginza

My Girl on a Sunny Afternoon, with Purple Twine

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

My Kasai Girl with Purple Plastic Twine
It hadn’t been the best of weekends for me.  I spent most of the time ill in bed with having had my stomach turn upside down.  I had been surviving on some Jewish penicillin aka chicken soup and, for some reason, I have been crazing simple sweet breads.  That is pretty much all I have eaten since Thursday night.

I woke up feeling pretty good and really wanting to take my cycle out for a ride.  The weather forecast was predicting a high of 29C (84F) but it thankfully never climbed that hight.  My stomach decided for me that it would be best not to stray to far from home.

I spent a little bit of time on my patio garden.  I enjoy just sitting and being with my greenery.  I slowly inspect the leaves looking for pests.  Some no-see-ems have invaded my little vertical garden, and the green lime caterpillars have come back to much on my citrus trees.  I don’t mind.  It is a balance we all have to keep.

I finished the last bowl full of jewish medicine and needed to go to the home center to buy a few things.  I picked up some printer ink, some assorted packs of sunflower seeds and a few odds and ends at the OK Supermarket.

I spied my girl.  You know, don’t you?  My girl!  My Minami Kasai Girl.  She is always there between the elementary school and the used car lot.  Her hands are outstretched, not asking for anything.  She is just there being, and waiting for someone, anyone to put something in her hands.

Listen closely.  She isn’t begging.  She is not asking for handouts.  She just appreciates a little something something.  Thats all.  Nothing expensive, or trendy.  Today she had been blessed with a bit of purple plastic twine.  She is simple to please.  I just have to keep an eye on her to make sure she is well taken care of.

Just another pre summer Sunday afternoon.  I wish these days continue before the humid furnace is switched on.  It is often those simple familiar objects and people that make everything feel all right….

 

 

Contemplating Temple Lotus Leaf, Rain and Bang

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Contemplating Temple Lotus After the Rain, Ichikawa, Japan

 

Last night the winds howled around the apartment buildings and homes in my neighborhood.  The rain splattered against my window.  The night was one of constant interruptions.  No real quality sleep, just lots of sleep deprived dreams of oddities.

Then without warning the floor moved.  It wasn’t a shaker.  It didn’t build to a crescendo and released its power.  It was as if the world’s table had been slammed into and then it was over.  It was enough of a jolt to induce a surprise.  As quickly as it came it was gone.

On my walk to the station I often pass through a temple on top of a hill.  The vividness of the green Japanese maple caught my eye, and I walked over the circular driveway to get a different vantage point.

I looked down into the claw pots that were filled with lotus leafs.  They too were incredibly green.  There were jewels floating on the gaps over the leaf’s veins.  I starred.  Did hail fall from the sky in the storm?  I was curious so I ever so gently poked the bobble with the tip of my umbrella, and it moved.  Not ice, but crystal clear water.

The walk through the temple always calms my nerves.  I take the time to look around to see what is blooming, greening, and fading away.

Rain, will bring flowers.  The earthquakes bring fear.  They all can be released though the passion of attempting to live life though artistic expression.

 

Thankful as a Bunch of Snap Peas

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Snap Peas Thankful Harvest

 

There was a serious hankering for some tacos for this shabbat meal.  You know how craving just come out of know where.  This was no different.  I prepared the meal, and as sun was setting I wandered out onto my patio to be in awe of the abundance of snap peas.  As if the rains of the other day had made them all pop out with the true SNAP, in the snap peas.

I am truly thankful that my wife had sowed these seed while it was still winter.  We have been just about supplementing our meals and salads with a few snap peas.  There is really nothing quite as satisfying as bringing in something that you had grown and being able to say a shabbat grace over that food.

I wish you all a fabulous day of rest.

Be thankful for all that we sow.  For what we sow will come back to us.  Make sure we so the seeds of love and compassion and a few sweet snap peas for good health.

 

Sipping, Chatting, and Developing in Coffee, with NYC Photographer Giovanni Savino

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

A Man and His Camera, with Giovanni Savino, Inwood, NYC
You can learn a lot about someone by what they choose to post about on social networking sites.  There is so much junk to wade though that those that actually have  a voice stand out and speak to me as a human being.  This is how I first became aware of the work of NYC based photographer Giovanni Savino .

I am not sure exactly how our paths crossed in the image making digital stratosphere.  Most likely it was though our mutual friend art historian John E. Walford.  I very quickly became fascinated with Giovanni’s candid NYC street portraits.  His brilliant black and white portraits on the New York streets stood above the much of what people unfortunately call “street photography.”  It didn’t hurt either that Giovanni often hit the streets armed with my favorite camera, the Ricoh GR.

I did what I usually do when I come across work that I can relate to, is I want to dig deeper and explore more of the artists vision of the world.  His website’s images came alive.  The portraiture of everyday people in the DR (Dominican Republic).  His images were unpretentious, and full of soul.  I instantly developed a rapport with the images, I wanted to know more about the man behind them.

I read his blog.  I waited with anticipation for the next images top be posted on Flickr,  Facebook or fascinating thoughts on his blog.  Again, I was drawn into his world.  We started some backchannel conversations, and I decided, since I was coming to NYC, if he was down, we should link up for a face to face meeting.

It was on a freezing snowy Tuesday in February that I headed uptown on the A train, last stop, Inwood 207 Street. Any further and I would I have been in the Bronx, or New Jersey.  The absolute top of Manhattan.
Giovanni Savino on the Water's Edge, Inwood, NYC

Before heading up to Giovanni part of town, I made a quick stop in a hungover haze to the Moma, thanks to borrowing friend, Jerry’s MOMA card.  I got there before the galleries opened and I knew all I really wanted to see was a small selection celebrating the 75 anniversary of the publication of Walker Evan’s  photographs .  It was a pleasure to see them in the flesh, as printed by the master himself.

In a quiet corner of the Museum I stood gazing at a Jackson pollock painting.  Away from the noise of school children running amuck, I just stood and stared.  The splats and splatters danced and pulsated like never before, possible due to my underestimating the power of NYC sized martinis versus Tokyo ones.

The trip to MOMA, was only the beginning to a beautiful day.  Giovanni greeted me just outside the station like a long lost brother.  In fact, he often used the word, “brother,” when referring to me.  I instantly knew this was going to be a good day.

Inwood is a dominantly DR neighborhood, yet, it is on verge of gentrification like most of the city.  Giovani told me the hood was much different 20 years ago when he first moved in.  Giovanni and his wife took me to their favorite DR place to have some roasted chicken, sadly, they were out, but that didn’t stop us.  We had a great meal and then he showed me the sights around the neighborhood.
Roasted Chicken Reflection, Inwood, NYC

 

He would occasionally take out one of his “cursed” e-cigs and puff on it as we chatted about the streets of New York, photography, life, and everything.  There was nothing off limits, and we both opened up and were happy to be in each others company.

The sun had finally come out by the time we reached a view of the George Washington Bridge.  It was time to head back to his studio and really dig into photography.

From Inwood to The George Washington Bridge, NYC

He brewed us up a cup of black espresso using an Italian stovetop maker.  This coffee was for sipping, but we would soon brew up another batch for developing, in coffee.  I would love the way Giovanni would say “in coffee!”  There was such wonderment in the way the words would just roll off his palette.  Just the simplest of pleasures that photographs can be developed in a brew of homemade Caffinol.

He told me that he had been depressed at the end of last year.  His doctors wanted to put him on anti-depreesents.  He wouldn’t have it.  He knew that there had to be a better way.  And there was.  He brought out his large format camera, and started developing “in coffee!”  So coffee and photography was part of his progress to a healthier life.  That was so beautiful to share with me.  We all struggle with depression, and to find happiness by getting our hands dirty by making a clean mind.

He told me that our energies that create our work come from either the light or the dark.  I want to be in the light!  We both do.  We are both comfortable with our place, and the work that helps us though, and understand the truth in life.

Brewing Coffee (for Developing), with Giovanni Savino, Inwood, NYC

 

It was time to bring out the lights, and big old fashioned Tachihara 4×5 camera loaded with first poloraoid then  Fujifilm positive, with a mounted Schneider Symmar-S 210mm lens for a portrait session.  First with polaroids and then some negs that would be processed, “in coffee!”  I hadn’t used a large format camera since my high school days, but we set it up, mixed up some different temperature lights and got down to business.

There is no waste in Giovanni’s studio.  After peeling off the back of the polaroids, we taped them down and removed the plastic to save the negatives that most people discard.  I loved that low tech way of making images.  Perfection in it’s imperfection.

Low Tech Perfection, with Giovanni Savino, Inwood, NYC

Then it was time to brew up the Caffinol and another portrait session.  Giovanni explained the chemicals needed, and we went to town.  I sat in the light, and he squeezed the cable release.  We went into his light tight darkroom/bathroom, and in complete darkness set about to develop the negatives.  It was so dark that after a few minutes you think that you can see.  Our conversation continued in the pitch black.  About my life in Japan.  Giovanni’s history in NYC, as a news cameraman, his work at ground zero after 911, his support of his wife’s family in the DR and beyond.  A good soul, with a gentle heart.

Polaroid Portrait Exchange with Giovanni aka Baron Von Savino, Inwood, NYC

 

Such an oddness two photographers in the dark, chatting.  I loved every minute of it.  But, all good things don’t necessarily have to end.  The conversation has been started.  The lucid communication will continue.  Giovanni is full of love and joy, and that shines though his art of photography.  I know that I will always have my photographic brother in NYC, Giovanni Savino.

Check Giovanni’s images, and writings with the links below.

Website

Flickr

Facebook

blog

some more images from my one day adventure in Inwood, with NYC Giovanni Savino

 

Petals, Snow on a Manhole Cover, Inwood, NYC

 

 

Used Cars in the Snow with Graffiti Inwood, NYC

 

 

Brewing Coffee (for Sipping) with Giovanni Savino, Inwood, NYC

 

 

One Photographer's Lightroom and Another's Pixels, with Giovanni Savino, Inwood, NYC

Art and Technology at Moneytree First Anniversary Celebration

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Dj Taku (m-flo) Takahashi and Moneytree, Moneytree First Year Anniversay, Shibuya, Tokyo

 

Art and technology might seem like they are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to creativity.  This is not entirely the truth.  Ever since human started to mix pigments and other materials to paint they were using technology wether they knew it or not.

Now we jump into the year 2014 and the lines between the two have become more blurred than ever before.  They, in my mind, cannot be separated.  It was at Moneytree’s first anniversary party that celebrated the coming together of code writers and artists of all styles.  Those lucky industry insiders who were invited gathered in a Shibuya basement club NOS ORG  for drinks, music, and artistic exchanges.

I was fortunate to be invited out to this gathering my the founder and chief executive Paul Chapman.  His team has grown from just a handful of members almost 2 years ago to over 30 now.

I am not one for parties and groups.  I never have been, nor will I ever.  I much prefer small crowds.  I personally find it overwhelming to be with so many people at one time.  However, I quickly became at ease and slipped into conversation with the over guests.

The app Moneytree (An intelligent assistant for your money) was voted app of the year by Apple Japan.  An app that keep the used up to date on all their financial endeavors.  Simple to use and brilliantly designed the app has built strong roots in Japan.  So much so that the founding member of m-flo and dj Taku Takahasi has his entire staff use it so he can keep tabs on his companies expenses.

Paul took the mic and introduced the company and welcomed all to the event.  One big announcement was that Moneytree has finally come to the iPad.  After the kampai (cheers) the turntables were turned over to dj Taku.

I watched in amazement of his dance music mastery.  It was was not the hip hop style of deejaying I was accustomed too.  It was just mesmerizing.  Tweaks and tuns of the mixer’s knobs, and scrolling though a playlist on a glowing apple laptop.

I noticed a photographer, Takumi Yamamoto, with an old school polaroid camera on the edge of the dance floor.  We chatted a bit, and we did what photographer do, we talked cameras.  Also, rather than the selfie, we exchanged simultaneous portraits.

It was a great gathering of artistic and technically minded folks.  A real collection of people across Tokyo, and beyond.

download Moneytree for free! from iTunes.

for more info check out Moneytree’s website  Facebook  and twitter page.

Moneytree is a company to keep watch on!

a Big SHOUT out to Paul for inviting me and letting me be a part of the celebration.
Paul Chapman (Chief Executive - Moneytree), Moneytree First Year Anniversay, Shibuya, Tokyo

 

 

Dj Taku (m-flo) Takahashi, Moneytree First Year Anniversay, Shibuya, Tokyo

 

 

Exchanging Portraits with Takumi Takamoto (山本拓未), Moneytree First Year Anniversay, Shibuya, Tokyo

Live Spoken Word: Kaddish for Emmanuel “Manny” Pushkin

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Kaddish, Requiem, Life for  Emanuel "Manny" Pushkin

 

On an over zealously windy night a small group of poets and artists gathered in the Jamrock Cafe in Harajuku. The monthly gathering of Writer’s Bloc, Tokyo, Evening Musings was about to begin.  This was a first for me.  I had never done a spoken word, or reading of any kind before a group of people.

The boom of the bass and drums of reggae riddims helped put me at ease as I relaxed myself while slowly sipping some rum and coconut water.  Munching on rice and peas and a chicken patty I could almost imagine myself at a a little West Indian joint in Miami, almost.

I was pretty nervous even though there were barely a dozen people in the cafe.  After a few people went on It was my turn.  Nervously with paper in hand I began.

I want to say thank you to Lee Ann and Norman for introducing me to this group and allowing me to express myself in a way that I had never done before.  Also a special thanks to Colin (and his Flickr) for some pictures and Biankah for the video.

Check their Facebook page Writer’s Bloc, Tokyo and Writer’s Bloc, Tokyo Youtube Channel 

 

Old San Juan, Walking, Talking, Just Being

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Pair in Flight at Parque de las Palomas, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

In late March my extended family booked a cruise that was leaving from Puerto Rico.  It was great for the family all to be in the same time zone at the same time, because throughout most of the year we are spread out across the globe.

Our cruise had been delayed due to a propeller failure and my niece and I headed off the boat and trekked over to Viejo San Juan.  We had been there a few days earlier but it was brief.  We wanted to just get off the boat that was heading no where and just wander around the the old city.

The sun was blazing that day and we kept to the shade whenever we could.  There were fresh graffiti pieces on some of the quiet streets.  The corner shops were open for business, and some old folks had set up tables in the shade to slam their dominoes.

There were, of course, shops filled with the worst kitsch imaginable, but this didn’t really hold my attention.  Other than to laugh at its silliness.  I wanted to see what the city would show me.  I wanted to walk down the cobblestoned streets that have been there for centuries.  The names of the streets were cemented into the corners of buildings.  In some home the palm trees reached up into the spotless sky.

I search out the places that people actually call home.  I want to see where people lay their heads to rest at night.  Once we got off the tourist path we were able to get a little taste of Puerto Rico.

Small gated homes with open windows to let in the sea breeze.  I imagine Miami back in the 40s and 50s must have looked something like this.  There was something different.  There were vibrations emanating from this community that I have never felt in Miami.

There was a sense of history stretching back at least 500 years, and more when you think that the indigenous Taino.  The sensation was close to that of walking around some of the quiet older neighborhoods of Paris, but the sun blazed, and the salty air filled my nostrils.  Even though many of the buildings had been freshly painted in over hued tropical colors If you raised your eyes above the first few floors the paint had faded in the harsh sun.

Wandering around the 2 major castles:  Castillo San Felipe del Morro and  Castillo de San Cristóbal I was able to wander and loose myself in the old stone masonry.  I felt an uneasy calm as I gazed out into the Atlantic Ocean, and wandered the subterranean levels of the fortifications.  I kept telling my niece can you imagine being in this heat and wearing the old woolen uniforms?

I wanted to hit a beach before heading back to the boat.  We walked along Aveienda Munoz Riveria we finally came to a beach, Balneario El Escambrón.  We didn’t have much time but for a quick refreshing jump into the Atlantic.  I felt renewed.  The cooling salt water soothed my aches, and reinvigorated my spirit.  The beach was relatively quiet on a Tuesday, and seemed to populated with a good mix of locals and visitors.

The time spent in Old San Juan was short.  The memories will be as long as the late afternoon shadows.

 
Corner of Calle del Tamarindo, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

 

303 in Yellow and Neighbor, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

 

Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

 

Baja Santa Elena meets the Atlantic Ocean, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

 

El Gato Siesta, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

 

Empty Lawn Tables and Benches, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

 

Windy Lean, Balneario El Escambrón, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Time to Search for the Leaven in Our Lives, Passover 2014

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Homemade Matzoh (מַצָּה), No Leaven, 2014, Passover

 

The new moon was sighted in Jerusalem and Passover, and the Feast of Unleavened bread in upon us.  It is the time in our lives when we have to remove all the leaven from our homes.  Those preparing to keep the Feast search their home and remove any product that has leaven.  The search goes on in all rooms looking for the leaven.  Why is this?

This on the simplest of levels is following the commandment to remove leaven and and eat the specially prepared matzoh (unleavened) bread as mandated in Exodus.  It is much deeper that that.  Of course it is important to keep the commandment to the best of our ability but even more important is to understand what leaven represents.  Leaven is sin, pride, ego, our wrong doings.  The search in our homes for leaven, is in reality, a search in our own souls to remove the “puffing up” of sin.

We all have shortcoming.  None of of are perfect.  This is true for all, but those that seek to better themselves can use this preparation for the feast to examine their life and work on removing the leaven from their lives.

In my own preparations for Passover I have begun to make my own matzoh a few years ago.  I love the process of making my own.  Being able to rely on my own to make the most imperfect looking matzoh I have ever seen.  Each piece is unique.  The shapes remind me of Africa and Israel.  Holes pop though the dough.  The oven singes my arm as they bake at 300 degrees (570F).

Then we move on to the other main thoughts on passover, freedom.  We remember the days when we were in bondage.  It doesn’t stop here. It is key to remember all those still in bondage.  Those who are not able to free to worship.  Those that are still held in chains.  Those whose mental slavery has not been abolished.

I will leave you all with one last thought from the Tanakh (the Old Testament).

Exodus 22:21

Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

chag kasher v’same’ach

חַג כָשֵׁר וְשָׂמֵחַ

have a blessed passover

With love to all in the diaspora, the lost tribes and those that dwell in the land of our forefather and all that desire in their hearts to keep the feast of unleavened bread regardless of labels.

shalom

Jacob

Yahkov

m2c

lucid communication

 

 

Chillin’ in the Backyard, Miami Style with Jeff Wasielewski

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Banana Bud, Jeff's Home, Miami 2014

 

It has been a minute since I have written on the Lucid Communication blog.  In Fact it has been more than a month.  After spending time in New York, Miami and the Caribbean It is time to start sifting through the 1000 plus images and selecting some stories to tell.

Today’s is about my mate Jeff Wasielewski’s home and luscious Miami garden.  I first met Jeff back in Killian High School spanish class.  We had, without question, the worst spanish teacher on the planet.  All she ever had us do was to copy chapters out of the textbook. On the first day of class the teacher was calling the roll, when she came to the name Dickie Wong.  There was no reply.  Shea paused and gazed over the classroom.  She called it again, a bit louder this time.  Still no response, then out of no where Jeff screams out DICKIE WONG! and all the class bursted out with laughter.  That is how we met.

We lost track of each other as people do, and thanks to the wonders of the world wide web we got back in touch with each other.  Jeff had been working at Farichild Tropical Botanic Garden when we reconnected and we realized that we both have a love for the outdoors and gardening.

This trip back to Miami we wanted to meet up and he invited me over to explore his garden.  It just so happened to be on a beautiful Sunday afternoon that I was able to meet and reason up with Jeff and some of the alumni of the Fat Man Calypso Band.

It was so peaceful walking around his home in Kendall, only a few blocks away from my own childhood home on South West 127 Street.  He had a few variety of mangoes, bananas, mulberry and other tropical delights.

He had constructed, with his own hands, a small pond that included some mosquito eating fish.  He truly had created a home I would have if I were to lay down my roots back in Miami.

All the landscaping used native plants.  They are all drought tolerant, and thrive in the blazing Miami sunshine.  Even his daughter Sammy got in on the gardening action and just the other day dug out some carrots she had planted by her own hand and without her poppa’s help.

It was a sweet afternoon eating some barbecued hamburgers sides with old friends and marveling at what a productive garden in suburbia can be.  I have the utmost respect for Jeff and his daughter for keeping Miami the way it shout be. green, soaking in the sunshine and full of LOVE.
Budding Bud, Jeff's Home, Miami 2014

 

 

Pond with Mosquito Fish, Jeff's Home, Miami 2014

 

 

Miami Backyard Corner, Jeff's Home, Miami 2014

 

 

Jeff Giving the Garden Tour (Hammock Point of View), Jeff's Home, Miami 2014

Out of the Tidal Pool, Matheson Hammock Park

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Matheson Hammock and the Line

 

Tucked off Old Cutler Road is Matheson Hammock Park.  The park bakes in the sun on the edge of Biscayne Bay.  I haven’t been there, most likely, since I used to wade in the man made tidal pool.

I wanted to see the water.  I always find comfort in gazing out into the water.  The temperature was rising by the time I got to the park.  The mangroves were thick and provided refuge from the scorching sun.

I was disappointed is all the trash that were trapped in their roots.  Whether they were tossed by park goers, or boaters, I really don’t know.  I wish for our parks and natural spaces to be clean and free of litter.

After the wandering through the mangroves I headed over to the tidal pool.  The tidal pool is where all the youth in our area used to head to play in the water in a safe environment.  I have warm memories of splashing around in the tepid bath like water.

I was happy to see a few kids splashing around.  Even one was screaming about seeing alligators.  It was an odd mix of older folks, small families with young ones, and a few tourists, who must have found about it in a guide book telling them of a nice chill spot away from the South Beach madness.

The coral structures and the thick rusted chains all brought back the giant memories of Matheson Hammock.  I may not really vibe off off swimming in the the tidal pool, but I felt comfortable wandering around, and reflecting of where I came from, and where I will be going.
15 Little Birds, Matheson Hammock Park

Coney Island Wintery Snow Cones

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Home Hot Flag Over Coney Island

 

It is pretty hard to fathom that just a week ago the snow was falling so hard that I could barely see across the street in New York.  Now, I am on my parents patio in Miami, editing the snow filled scenes from NYC.

Coney island is a place I have only heard my family talk about.  My mother remembers going there in the heat of summer and riding the attractions and having out on the sun baked board walk.  I have always wanted to hop on the D train and take in a bit of that board walk history.

It was a day after a blizzard that I finally made my way out to the childhood wonderland of Coney Island.  I took the D train to the West 8th Street Aquarium.  I was just about the only one who got off the train.  I made my way down the soggy steps out onto the street.

The skies were a candy blue as layers upon layers of snow stacked up on the beach.  I spotted the rides and made a mad dash for them.  Well, not exactly a mad dash.  It was as much as a mad dash that this Miamian could manage in brand new snow boots.

This is where both my parents spent their summers.  This is where they munched on candy apples and strolled along the boardwalk.  Now, 60 years later here I am wrapped from head to toe to protect me from the Great White North winds blowing in over the Atlantic.

The whole area was closed and shuttered till spring.  The only to places along the board awl that were open was Nathan’s and Applebees.  Nathan’s looked like a collection of outtakes from a Fellini casting call.

All the snow and the utter lack of other people shifted the whole experience to the surreal.  A place of fun in the sun, was now knee deep in snow.

I continued to crunch along the boardwalk passing someone out for a stroll with their pooch. I wanted to walk down to the waters edge.  The snow collapse under my boots leaving a trail of size 14 prints in the snow.

My nose felt nothing as by now it had numbed in the icy wind.  I could though the memories of my parents experience a side of Coney Island they never did.  The brightly colored rides and walls stood still for me as I was alone with my thoughts and camera.

It was truly absurd to go down to Coney Island in the dead of winter but, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Even though my visit probably had come 60 years after my parents we were able to connect though place if not time.

All the sights and smells may have been different but I could swear I could still smell the sticky sweetness of the cotton candy as I crunched my way though the snow.

 

Snowed In Carousel, Coney Island

Beach Snow Carpet, Coney Island

Snow Candy Reflection, Coney Island

Non Threating Heat, Coney Island

Tokyo Blizzard of February 8, 2014

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Edge of Tokyo in February 08 2014 Blizzard

 

I have been looking at my phone all week.  There had been a snow mark for saturday since about Monday.  I usually don’t think much about it.  Being from Miami, I do find snow quite intriguing.  So, there we go.  We are suppose to get snow.

As the day moved closer reports started to come in that this is going to be the heaviest snow to hit Tokyo in more than 20 years.  I thought that the snow that hit last year pretty bad, but what was coming out in the news was saying that this was going to be a once in a generation storm.

My kitty woke my at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning cause he was hungry.  I gave hime a bit of food and took a look out the window.  My mid Shabbat the show was beginning to fall.  It was crazy cold out and i jumped back in bed.

By morning the snow was pilling up.  I was worried about my patio greenhouses, and I kept on sweeping the accumulating snow off.

Finally I suited up to go on my arctic expedition around the neighborhood.  It was a ghost town.  Almost no one was out.  A few kids were playing in the snow or trying to sled down some small hills.  It was pretty much just me, my camera, and a warm cap.

Snow has a way of beautifying the city.  Everything becomes the same tonality.  Objects take on new shapes as the bleed into one another.  I was out for more than an hour.  The wind would pick up at times, and the snow being so dry this year blew like a leaf blower across my cheeks.

We, the wife and I, were suppose to go out to celebrate her earth day, that wasn’t going to happen.  I made her a cup of amazake  which is a  a thick drink made with the left over mash from nihonshu (sake) and is usually sweetened and sometimes sake is added to it.

Suddenly she is lets go to Seiyu.  We suit up to make the several block trek to the supermarket.  Her  clear vinyl umbrella blew inside out. We walked down the middle of the street.  Some cars had been abandoned on the side of the road.  The only cars we sway were delivery trucks.  Nothing seems to stop the special  deliveries.    Even saw one guy help push another one’s truck out of the snow.

We made it to the store and back.  Caught some olympics and went to sleep.  The snow was still falling even after midnight.

By morning the snow had begun to melt.  I had trekked to the home center to buy a shovel yesterday which came in handy today.  I cleared a small path on the sidewalk adjacent to my home and cleared off the step.

After breakfast my wife asked me to clear off the driveway.  I did.  I soon noticed all of my neighbors were out to with shovels in hand.  Not just the men, but the women too.  They weren’t clearing their driveways, they were clearing the street.  I was shocked.

I couldn’t give in so I too joined in the effort to clear the street.  After about 2 hours I was beat like i went 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.  But, I wasn’t done yet.  I retuned with a small spade and joined my wife as we cleared the last bit of road that connected up with the one the busses went down.

Before going back inside.  I just stared at the road cleared of snow and marveled.  We did this!  Not a snow plow but a bunch of housewives cleared out streets and sidewalks so we, as the community, could be safe.  That was beautiful.

All and all a very memorable day.  So much snow.  The teamwork to clean the now.  The astonishing amount of snow that came down from the sky.  I don’t know how my people in the colder climates can cope.

Now rest, for tomorrow shall bring muscle aches.
Nagisa New Town Canyons with Yellow Umbrellas

 

 

Frosted Pruned Trees, Kasai, February 08 2014 Blizzard

 

 

Snow Slide, Kasai, February 08 2014 Blizzard

 

 

Riverside Kasai, February 08 2014 Blizzard

 

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