Tag Archives: photos

One Year Ago

gold and Black Sun

Happy blog birthday to me. I’ve posted 53 times in the last year, averaging once a week. I started this last year with the intention of it helping me find my voice. I wasn’t sure where it would go. It still feels very nascent, and I’m fine with that. There’s lots of room for me to go where I want. A lot of my focus has been on the 52 Photos Project, which has been really fun – combining my love of photography with my love of language and words.

Today I just wanted to share this photo I took on Christmas Eve (above). The light felt so thick, as if it had heft, and I had no idea when I pointed my camera in this direction that it would capture that honeyed sky.

You can get the idea here:

sunset and reflection

And here:

reflecting pool

Thanks for coming along with me on this ride. I’m looking forward to what 2014 will bring!

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52 Photos: Holiday Traditions

Icicle and red globe

This week’s prompt: Holiday Traditions.

Last week a man asked me how my Christmas preparations were going. I cringed, took a deep breath, and confessed to him that I don’t celebrate. I told him I don’t like telling people that, because I don’t want to ruin their enjoyment of the holiday. He took it with good cheer and I felt okay, this time.

I was struggling with this prompt, because Hannukah was so early in the month, it feels like it was in another season. Besides which, I can only seem to muster up enough effort to light candles. And this year we got gelted into buying some chocolate coins.

Happy Hannukah!

8th night

For the second year in a row, there has been a small holiday event at the park down the street from us. We are quickly coming to love this tradition, which includes the fabulous Beaconettes, a choral group from Beacon Hill in Seattle, who take familiar songs and add their own twist for extra enjoyment.

Beaconettes exposed

I don’t have any pictures of my own, but we cap off our festivities every year by going to the show Homo for the Holidays. It really does feel like family, and every year we return to laugh ourselves silly.

I hope you all are enjoying the day and holiday, no matter what you find yourselves doing. Thank you for reading, for cheering me on, and for being who you are. That is the greatest gift I could ever receive.

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52 Photos: Dessert

This week’s prompt was dessert.

lemon bar

If you give me the choice between a chocolate dessert and a fruit dessert, I will almost always choose the fruit (har har). Even within fruit, there’s a hierarchy, and the citrus sits at the top. Since I only cook/bake vegan at home, home made lemon bars are a treat I’ve gone without for a Very. Long. Time. I have always loved them, and have tried making a few vegan recipes over the years that just disappoint me. I was ready for my heart to be broken again with this one, particularly since the lemon topping uses agar agar flakes, which can have a strong and distinct flavor.

I’m happy to announce that this one wins, in every way. Flavor, texture, and even visually, it is all appealing. There is the added bonus of the lack of egg flavor, the one thing I actually don’t like about the regular lemon bars.

I bake pretty regularly, and despite what I say about the fruit, most of what I make has chocolate in it.

Chocolate thumbprint cookies:
Chocolate thumbprint cookies

Chocolate crinkle cookies:
chocolate crinkles

And my favorite rich treat, vegan peanut butter cream cheese brownie with chocolate chips:
vegan peanut butter cream cheese brownie

And sometimes I just like to buy someone else’s treats:
peppermint cupcake

What’s your favorite dessert? What do you like for someone else to make for you? What do you like to make for others?

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Week 30: On My Way

This week, for 52 Photos, the prompt was On My Way.

One of the things I observed during my trip to Japan was the groups of school children taking trips. We often came across them in the train stations, where they would sit quietly in the middle of the floor. Sometimes we saw them on the platforms, waiting for a train. There was even a group of high school students at the airport the day I left. Turned out, they were on my flight!

But my favorite picture that I snapped was this group of children with their bright yellow hats the day we went to Miyajima. They all had buddies and walked in neat rows. This small bunch had gotten separated, and they looked like ducklings to me. They were on their way.

school ducklings

I thought I’d throw in some actual ducklings:
Mother duck and ducklings

And the famous Make Way for Ducklings in Boston:

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52 Photos: Celebration

To be honest, I thought I had missed the deadline for the celebration prompt. I just wasn’t feeling it, as my friend Rebecca said so beautifully. But seeing her post gave me the tiniest glimmer that I might have a picture somewhere in my vast archive that captured a celebration. And then I found this treasure:

yippee - Catholic for Marriage Equality

Yippee! A Catholic for marriage equality!

This picture was taken almost a year ago, but the moment it was celebrating was the triumph at the polls on election night. For the first time, marriage equality measures were passed IN THREE STATES. BY A POPULAR VOTE. I like the symmetry, because today is election day. And the legislature in Illinois just passed a marriage equality bill. And Hawaii is on the cusp of passing marriage equality in their state as well.

Even though there is still so much work to be done, we can pause and celebrate our victories, too. There are now 15 states that recognize the legality of same-sex couples’ love. Before the election last year, I think there were 10? Plus the District of Columbia. So here’s to love!

Love wins!
love wins with roses

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Starts with “C”

This week the prompt for 52 Photos Project is Starts with ‘C’.

Without further ado, I bring you this caterpillar who crossed my path on a hike in Japan:

fuzzy caterpillar

How about some curvy cobblestones from the Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto:

curvy cobbles

And finally, some fancy chopsticks!

chopstick display

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The Sweetest Cup

green tea gift

I just spent 3 weeks in Japan, traveling around Honshu, the largest island. My last evening was spent in Tokyo, with my mom. We were exhausted, having tried our damnedest to fit it all in, even while resting.

I could tell you about the middle-aged woman we met in Kamikochi, who was there with her husband and parents. She turned out to be a librarian, and she had her iPhone wrapped in a fuzzy bunny that she would pull out every time her husband asked her a question. I could tell you about the young woman in Nara who waited on us in an Italian restaurant and didn’t know any English, but her desire to serve us overwhelmed all fears of exposing her bad language skills.

There was the elderly gentleman who conferred with us on our journey out of Koya-san who had lived in Texas for 5 years, and the young people who worked in the ryokan we stayed at in Kyoto. And the monk with the scar on his scalp at the temple where we stayed in Koya-san whose entire body was an apology.

But this story is for this cup of tea.

One thing seasoned travelers know and understand is that you have to make choices all day long, about everything. About the things that you’ve automated in your daily life at home, like where to find your next meal and what to eat for breakfast and lunch and dinner. This may sound like a treat, but trust me, after 22 days of this, I start to wish I had a refrigerator with some leftovers I could just pull out.

Given that we didn’t have it in us to try something new, we returned to a delightful yakitori restaurant above the Daimaru department store at Tokyo Station. This gave us the chance to catch another sunset behind the train station. You might see why we were tempted to return:

Night falls in Tokyo

Sadly, the restaurant did not have a view. But the staff more than made up for it. When we returned to the restaurant, there was a group of men sitting on a bench outside the entrance. We had seen many lines with seats, so we assumed there was a wait and sat at the end of the bench. We knew it wouldn’t be long before we were seated, based on previous experience. Soon enough, the group was seated and the host/maitre d’ saw us. His face lit up with recognition and he motioned that we should wait a minute. Next thing we knew, he was ushering us in to sit at the bar.

We ordered our food and I, in my broken Japanese, told him we would like rice (gohan?), water (o-meezu) and a beer (biru?). He pulled out the all-Japanese menu and opened it to what I can only assume was the list of beers. My eyes glazed over as I looked at the lines of Japanese characters. I knew that the text read top to bottom, but beyond that I was clueless. He stood behind us, patiently, until I took a stab in the dark and said, “Sapporo?”

He pointed to something on the menu, which I could only guess was “Sapporo” and I said, “Hai! Yes.” I told him I wanted a small one. Having given him the sufficient information, he disappeared and I sank into my chair, elated to have completed the transaction. He returned shortly with my beer and a small bowl, filled with something lumpy and covered in a whitish sauce. He told me it was a pickle, and he stood behind my chair waiting for me to try it. I inspected the bowl and willed my stomach not to churn. It seemed to contain some chunks of chicken, and I considered that maybe they were cured, like ceviche. I didn’t know of any Japanese cuisine that cooked meat that way. I screwed up my courage and stabbed my chopsticks in and plucked out one of the blobs, which threatened to slid out of my tentative grip. I got it in my mouth first and sank my teeth in, relieved to discover it had been cooked. It was cooked! Hallelujah! The maitre d’ stood behind us, waiting to see what I thought.

“Pickle?” I said to him.
“Pickle,” he said, smiling.
I hoped my smile covered my confusion, the lack of vinegar or any acidic tang in my mouth. “Good,” I said, smiling at him. He turned and left.

He returned later with two small bowls piled high with bright pink pickles. The shiso I had taken a picture of the previous visit, and he had stood behind me applauding softly:

red shiso pickle

Except this time there was three times as much. Shiso has a strong perfume and a mild cinnamon flavor, the texture like a cucumber. I knew there was no way I could eat that much of it, no matter how delicious. I hope he wasn’t offended. My mom and I enjoyed our meal, the chicken grilled with leeks, the eggplant, the shishito peppers, and the mushroom stems in butter sauce. Not to mention the giant piles of shiso pickles. Our bodies sated, we rested in our seats, savoring our final evening in Tokyo, the city whirling outside while we relaxed. And then this third gift came to the table, warm and bright.

I wrapped my fingers around the warm ceramic bowl and lifted it to my nose, inhaling the sweet and mildly bitter aroma of the tea. By this point in our travels, we had drunk many cups of tea – from the iced tea offered us in steaming Kyoto to the many pots we brewed in our various lodgings. And this was the best cup of tea. From a technical standpoint, it was perfect – the perfect temperature, perfectly steeped. It was more sweet than bitter, warm but not scalding, grassy without being pungent.

It was made all the sweeter for being our reward, for connecting with people, for having made the effort and being met, for being seen as a fellow human, another traveler on the road. May all your cups of tea be a sweet reminder of our universal connection.

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Light and Dark

This week the challenge for 52 Photos Project is Light and Dark.

Here the light seeps through holes in a wood sculpture.

light pores

And here blue festival lights decorate a canal in Venice:


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Unusual and Uncommon

This week’s prompt for 52 Photos is unusual and uncommon. I thought I’d give you a taste of each.

Here’s a dahlia, but not the usual and common way in which we are used to looking at them. I just adore this intersection of green and purple:

purple and green

What is there to say about a tree that appears to contain a brick a wall? I think it might just be a portal to another dimension, and the reasons it got closed certainly intrigue me.

tree portal

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Stacks and Layers

I decided to take a walk in my neighborhood (from a previous week’s theme) and see what kind of stacks and layers I could find for this week’s 52 Photos Project. Here’s what I found:

A flower tower:
Flower tower

A geranium stack:
pink geranium stack

And a stack of logs:
stack o' logs

Ranging a little farther afield, there’s this stack of baskets from my trip to Portugal a few years ago:
basket stack

And the stacks at Big Sur:
Big Sur stacks

And finally, the Seattle Steam stacks:
steam stack solo

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