The Whiskey Treatment

I have dreamed of Nova Scotia as long as I can remember. Why I don’t know. Maybe I saw a National Geographic story on Nova Scotia when I was six years old, and the longing started there.

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In anticipation of a road trip with lots of camping in Nova Scotia, I’ve been reading  The Tent Dwellers, a droll 1906 travelogue about a fishing trip to Nova Scotia. It rains most of  the time on his trip, which inspires me to pack two raincoats, waterproof pants, and two tarps.

Here’s a good passage about when the author  gets poison Ivy on his face:

Many times a day I bathed my face in the pure waters of the lake and then with the spirits—rye or Scotch, as happened to be handy…And I wish to add here in all seriousness that whatever may be your scruples against the use of liquors, don’t go into the woods without whisky…

Alcohol, of course, is good for poison ivy, but whisky is better. Maybe it is because of the drugs that wicked men are said to put into it. Besides, whisky has other uses. The guides told us of one perfectly rigid person who, when he had discovered that whisky was being included in his camp supplies, had become properly incensed, and commanded that it be left at home. The guides had pleaded that he need not drink any of it, that they would attend to that part of what seemed to them a necessary camp duty, but he was petrified in his morals, and the whisky remained behind.

Well, they struck a chilly snap, and it rained. It was none of your little summer landscape rains, either. It was a deadly cold, driving, drenching saturation. Men who had built their houses on the sand, and had no whisky, were in a bad fix. The waves rose and the tents blew down, and the rigid, fossilized person had to be carried across an overflowed place on the back of a guide, lifting up his voice meanwhile in an effort to convince the Almighty that it was a mistake to let it rain at this particular time, and calling for whisky at every step.

It is well to carry one’s morals into the woods, but if I had to leave either behind, I should take the whisky.                 — Albert Bigelow Paine

Yes, I am bringing whiskey. I’ll tell you later if any morals survive. 

I hope to post pictures and stories from the trip. Next week, I’ll be taking the ferry from Portland, Maine, to Yarmouth, exploring the Southwestern coast, and staying in Dartmouth, which I read is the Brooklyn of Halifax.

Then I’ll meet with my camping friend Jennie and her miniature Schnauzer Lilac, and their little truck. We’ll camp all around Cape Breton Island.

In New Brunswick, we will stay in Fundy National Park where we’ll see the 50-foot tides. 

If you know of places I should see, please do tell.

The Ruined Resort of Curaçao

Along a beautiful, disheveled beach are the remains of a bankrupted hotel. This is on Santa Martha’s Bay, about halfway up the island, far from the cruise terminals of Willemstad. Abandoned about nine years ago, all the windows, doors, and fixtures have been removed, and the place is crumbling. These ruins below our rental house added a spooky magic to a charming trip with friends Ken and Clarence.

 

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Remains of a miniature golf course

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Unexpected hazards
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Putt around the thorns.

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The pool had a swim-up bar.

 

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Besides the glorious ruins, the beautiful beaches and views called.

 

And fabulous friends

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My Own Orwell Moment

This was unsettling:

At the turn of the century, I worked as a research editor for Readers Digest, which had offices at 260 Madison Ave. in Midtown. Last week, when Steve and I had an appointment there, it was the first time I’d been in the building since 2002. Readers Digest had long since departed, too.

Steve showed his ID at the security desk in the remodeled, unrecognizable lobby–new management, new owners. The officer took Steve’s photo and printed out a visitor label with the picture. I showed my ID. The officer didn’t take my picture, but quickly handed me a label.

Here is my visitor’s badge with the photo taken in 2000:IMG_1119

Big brother has been watching for a long time.

Cardboard Kayaking

If you needed to make a getaway by water, and all you had was cardboard and tape and a paddle, could you make it? Maybe. Every July on Governors Island (a few minutes by ferry from Manhattan), 20 teams have two hours to build a vessel, and then they race with two-person crews. Some of the boats disintegrate, many of them flip over. A few make it.

I love this event. This year it was even better for me. My friend Lauren Collins helped build this pizza slice shaped vessel with the scrappy Red Hook kayak club, so I had a personal reason to cheer for this team.

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The competition looked tough–some coastal engineering firms had teams, environmental groups, kayaking clubs and the formidable Coast Guard (the two woman in the first picture were their crew).

When the Red Hook pizza slice began their heat with four boats, I’d say their odds weren’t good. But then, every other cardboard kayak instantly flipped over.

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Even the Coast Guard boat flipped.

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All Red Hook had to do was get around the buoy and come back, which they did to big cheers.

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In the finals, all team crews were men except the Red Hook team with Sherry and her 10-year-old daughter Maggie.

The Red Hook team got the biggest cheers and came in fourth (not last!). Sherry nearly got knocked in the head by the paddle of one of the eventual winners (last picture), who didn’t need to be so aggressive to win the trophy made of cardboard and tape.

Still, Sherry thought racing was thrilling from beginning to end. A woman came up to her and said, ‘I just want to say you’re the most awesome Mom.”

The Red Hook team took home the prize for “Most Ambitious.”

Their boat held up, unlike many, including the one below:

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So…Could you escape by cardboard and tape boat? Build it like a pizza slice, and then maybe.

 

The Disgruntled Lions of Italy

On a recent trip to Orvieto, Rome, Venice, and Bologna, I noticed that lions work hard holding up buildings, showing scrolls, and spitting water in fountains. Most of these creatures look unhappy, resentful, embarrassed, sad, anxious, or resigned to duty that they never dreamed would be theirs for eternity. Here are some photos of the kings of the jungle in their reduced circumstances. I added captions that expressed what they might be thinking. If they weren’t made of stone.

For other Italian photos, some lovely, some bizarre, please see my album on flickr: https://flic.kr/s/aHskBveufg

High in the air among the gargoyles, the lion looks like he's stepping off into space, and he's not happy about it.
Oh crap, it must be four stories to the ground. That’s a long way, even for a cat with wings. (Basilica, Orvieto)
This building is heavy.
Get me down from here so I can eat some more Christians. (Rome)
Piazza del Popolo Fountain, Rome
It’s my job to spit water all day. Sigh. (Piazza del Popolo, Rome)
Natural History Museum, Venice
I’m a hunting trophy from the 19th century. Bite me. (Museum of Natural History, Venice)
Salute Basilica, Venice
Yeah I got a black eye. You should see the other guy. (Salute Basilica, Venice)
Salute Basilica, Venice
Oy oi oi, I’m not even Catholic. (Salute Basilica, Venice)
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If these wings worked, I could fly away. (Venice)
Bologna
It was worse before they put up the pigeon spikes. (Bologna)
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This is not the worst job in Bologna. Really.
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If I could get down from here, I’d show you who’s king of the forest.
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You wonder why I look demented? I have to spout water all day. (Rome)
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My brother over there is demented. I just need a cigar. (Rome)
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I just think of it as puking on you. (Rome)
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Where’s my incisor? (Rome)
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Ack. (Rome)
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No, I’m fine. Really. Yep. Really. Happy lion. More meds, please. (Rome)

Big Puffy Bunnies

Two-story air-filled white rabbits are decorating Capitalism Central—an area near the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan. Oh the metaphors you could draw from that, but instead, here are some photos of the seven giant bunnies. The art installation is called Intrude, by Amanda Parer. It is at the Brookfield Center—formerly The World Financial Center—on the Hudson River for just a week.

Two-story air-filled white rabbits are decorating Capitalism Central—an area near the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan. Oh the metaphors you could draw from that, but instead, here are some photos of the seven giant bunnies. The art installation is called Intrude, by Amanda Parer. It is at the Brookfield Center—formerly The World Financial Center—on the Hudson River for just a week.

Click on an image to enlarge it, and you can scroll through them all and see the captions.

Easter Parade, 5th Avenue

Here are some of the fantastic people (and one rabbit) who caught my eye. Click on an image to enlarge it, and you can scroll through them all.

The Homeless Gardener

Perry, 57, had been living on the streets of Portland, Oregon, for 26 or 27 years, he told me when my cousin Antonia introduced me in October 2015. A few years ago, he appropriated a big empty lot owned by a small apartment complex in the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood. There he tends plants, builds sculptures out of found objects, and takes care of a cat. Click on a photo to enlarge it and to scroll through the photos and read more about Perry.

People Every Time–Women at Work in Mexico

Photos of women in their small businesses around Mexico.

On cold winter days in New York, I’ve been looking at thousands of photos I took in Mexico last year. While the lovely warm colors of the landscapes and sky and flowers and buildings infuse me with warmth, the photos of women working in small businesses are most compelling. Their faces, their aprons, their hands tell their stories.

I took these pictures for Pro Mujer, a non-governmental organization that provides small loans and health care to women in Latin America. I published a few of the pictures here last year, but I want to share more images of these hard-working, lovely women. They live on on the outskirts of Mexico City and around the states of Hidalgo, Pachuca, Puebla, and Oaxaca.

Click on an image to enlarge it and see the caption and to scroll through all the images.

 

For the photos of Pro Mujer women I published here last year, here’s the link:

Mujeres at Work, more photos