Sunday, March 29, 2009

Unstuck from Bed and Learning New Software

I'm much better today so I spent some time playing around with Aperature. I learned the basics of lightroom for my class but had just received Aperature for Christmas. It is similar but different enough that I long for the familiar. I need to buy a book on it or something.

I liked the composition of this photo but wanted to play up the color. While we go for realism in class, its fun to puff up the saturation and go for the fantastic, it's much easier.

Day 89- Stuck in Bed

Two things ruined my Saturday, a bad case of food poisoning and Richard Price's Lush Life. I don't really understand what the fuss was about. It is supposed to be a gritty look at the Lower East Side but well, its not. Maybe my standards are too high but this wasn't funny, satirical, gritty or anything other than boring. I should have known better having tried Price's novels before, but I thought this one would be different in a better sort of way.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pictures of the Day 85-87

I am still taking my photo of the day, I just haven't had a lot of time to process or post them.

I bought some simple yellow flowers about 2 weeks ago and they still look great. There is something about fresh flowers that really brighten up my day, especially when they last 2 weeks and cost $4.

The workmen photo was taken at 8 am. They repaved our street earlier in the winter and there was an 8" deep hole going down to the manhole. They finally came the other day and started fixing it. Jackhammering at 8 am in not my favorite part of city living.

My window box flowers and veggies are still hanging in there despite the cold temperatures. But I have some backup cauliflower and broccoli on my window sill just in case.

Next week is my last week of my photography class. I'll write more about the experience but the table shot with photographs is the beginning of my portfolio, which is pretty good for Photo 1, but has a long way to go.

Just Another Lovely Sunset

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hello 10th Street

We live on one of the most beautiful blocks in Brooklyn. The neighbors obviously take great pride in their homes and are always friendly on the street. We haven't had a chance to meet everyone but I hope as we begin our 2nd year here we can get out to more Block Association gatherings.

So Hello! 10th Street Block Association, sorry if I butchered the association's name. I'm happy to post any upcoming info on the blog and get involved however I can.

People can email me megunski at gmail dot com.

Big Gardening Day

Hooray! Today was the first real gardening day up here on the 4th floor. We went down to the store and picked up some pansies, cauliflower, rosemary, and broccoli and I stuck them in the dirt. It wasn't quite that simple, but close enough.

I left many of the plants from last year in the boxes to ward off pigeons and needed to pull them, add some new soil and nutrients, and break up the clumps and roots. This is a pretty messy process in an apartment but not nearly as messy as last year. I also didn't have to haul up 30 pound bags of soil to fill my boxes.

I the cauliflower and broccoli way too close together with the idea that some wouldn't survive and that I would have to pull some. I can realistically get one or two heads in the box so 12 may be over doing it. I also replanted the other 6 in little pots in doors in case we have another hard frost. I'm afraid my enthusiasm may have overstepped the last frost day in this region but I'm going to hope for the best and have a back up plan.

I'm always hesitant to plant pansies since I know most of them will bolt and need to be taken out before too long. They are just so darn pretty. Again, my enthusiasm has overtaken my practicality, but hey, I'll live dangerously.

Photo of the Day - Day 82

I've once again lost track of my days but here is my picture from Saturday March 21, 2009. It is just a simple photo of the sky around the end of the sunset.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Robert Guskind Memorial

For those of you who are Gowanus Lounge fans, there is a memorial service on April 4th at the Brooklyn Lyceum on 4th Ave. Click the link about for details.

I have no idea if anyone else will be picking up the reigns at GL, I sure hope so.

Up Close and Personal

One of the many things I inherited from my father was a love of taking pictures up close, like really close. I've taken a series of shots with the macro lens on my window ledge in bright sunlight and absolutely revel in the challenge of capturing the detail and playing with the depth of field.

It is also a great way to learn more about composition since you are shooting the same thing over and over, which I apologize for, and it forces you to make very minor adjustments. I feel very comfortable with the manual exposure and realize how much better my shots are with the a better exposure.

It Never Gets Old

Photographing the sky from our house never gets old.

Almost Here

My newest niece/nephew is almost here and this picture from Friday night almost perfectly captures Chris's attitude about it. I'm not sure he can believe what's about to happen to them. Lorna, as usual, is calm and ready for anything.

Birthday Camels

I'm not very good at giving presents but I gave Ab some kick butt photo coasters for her 31st. I bought these at Crate and Barrel and filled them with some funny camel pictures and one of the creepy zombie sea lion. I also gave her a framed print of one of my photographs. I feel a bit weird giving my pictures to people as presents but not weird enough not to give them to a good friend.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Snowy Dirt Manicure?

I committed my first official act of arboricide on Monday and took down the giant tree thing on our fire escape. We received a "citation" from our insurance company for the plants on the fire escape (which everyone had) but I'm sure it was the 3' x 1.5' tree stand with 6' bush/tree that made them question the structural stability of the fire escape. It was also warm enough to stand on the fire escape for 3 hours and cut the darn thing down and stuff it into 6 garbage bags.

My first official act of gardening set off a whole planning phase in my mind for this weekend and I was going to run to the nursery and get some early spring plants. But do you know what, it snowing, heavily in Brooklyn right now and the snow has ruined my plans for planting.

No offense spring, but you're a tease.

Fits of Giggles

When I'm freaked out at work and overwhelmed with my "To Do" list I often look through a series of websites that amuse me. They often involved animals, specifically dogs and cats, doing funny thing with captions, people failing, or just passive aggressive notes. I think I have a list somewhere on this site of my favorite mind relaxing ones. Yesterday I found and found this picture:

I giggled all day but then went into full blown giggle attack that apparently looked a lot like crying. I sort of shot myself in the foot by watching Bizkit the Sleepwalking Dog which sent me totally over the edge. I can't argue with that type of stress relief.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Umm, you're working late? Great.

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of a project and realize that if your roommate, husband, parent, friend, pet, etc, came home you would be totally busted?

Weird Southern Games

Here are a few other shots of the the pig sty game that my husband has from his childhood. There is something oddly creepy about the pink lips and teats. We played pickup stick, monopoly, and checkers when I was growing up, my husband played essential dice with pigs. The South kind of sounds like more fun? But lipstick on a pig?

Picture of the Day - Day 80

I speed by this sign every day and it is finally light enough when I come home from work to take some pictures.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pictures of the Day 78-79

I was playing around with the camera and macro lens today and took some pictures of my husband's collection of stuff. This little piggy comes from a game where you "roll" the plastic pigs and get points for how they land. I'm pretty sure its a southern thing but who knows. I like the pig and its shadow.

This guy got on at my work stop and there is a good chance that he works where I do, namely a place where crazy scientists who cultivate Einsteinian hair congregate. Oddly he was reading Esquire and shaking his head. Some days, I really wish I dragged my camera with me on the subway.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

If I take the time to think about it...

If I take the time to think about the past year I break down. Tonight, as I was washing dishes, I remembered sitting down with my dad, sister, and stepmom and listening to him tell us that he had pancreatic cancer and 3 months to a year to live. I don't think any of us could have imagined that he would be so sick so quick or that he would be dead in a month. Looking back at the last pictures of him he is clearly so sick but it took the doctors a relatively long time to figure out what was wrong.

I spend so much of my time keeping my mind busy and surrounding myself with work and life, that I sometimes forget how hard I work to maintain emotional white noise: reading, podcasts, TV, something or anything to keep my mind from wandering down the path of the last year. My father was the first person who I lost that played a role in my day to day existence and when that day to day stuff stops for a moment I immediately fill it with something. Tonight, after tearing up for no good reason (and every good reason) at the baby shower, I was too tired to try and stop it.

My life seems at times to be filled with death, my dad, Adam, Bob from GL, and recently a colleague from grad school who's work I admired. I realize that life, any life, is filled with death, its just a matter of how close it is to your existence. This "radical" realization makes me feel like a teenager again, the excitement of figuring out an essential truth of the world and then the embarrassing crash of realizing that like duh, everyone knows that.

I remember my teenage years so clearly, obsessing over the layering of personality through clothing, the anxiety of knowing that no one had a crush on me but I had a crush on everyone, and feeling every gawky, awkward, creaking bone in my emotional skeleton. It did seem like the end of the world on a daily basis. As I tried to pull myself together at this shower I instantly recognized that "out of control, embarrassed at my own expression of emotions" feeling.

When I think about those years now, as an adult version of myself, I laugh at my silly crushes and realize how small scale those days were, and are for young people. Right now though I have a somewhat opposite relationship as I watch Adam's family go through the first months of losing him. I remember how acutely those feelings come back and punch you in the face. I don't feel wise or as if my couple months head start has given me perspective, I realize how far they have to go and wonder when this process starts to end.

They tell me that the first year is that hardest but I sense that you never escape those feelings and that grief can always creep up on you no matter how much you try to distract yourself.

The Reggie is Coming, the Reggie is Coming

We had my Sister- in -law's baby shower this afternoon and, as always, it was wonderful to spend an afternoon with friends and family. She's finally getting to be enormous after 7 months of "not pregnant enough" and I'm sure will go into the "get this out of me soon". We don't know if its a boy or girl but whatever and whoever comes out will be much loved and immediatly annointed with ninja skills.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friday the 13th with Photos

How could it be that we have 2 Friday the 13th's in a row? The last one was the "best day ever" professionally and yesterday wasn't too bad. I spent the morning doing my old job and in the afternoon I was introduced to the joys of budgeting for my new job. On the subway ride home I was treated to a beautiful sunset (Picture 74) and managed to get home, race upstairs, and snap off a picture before it was over.

I also found a strange package in the mail and opened it to find a wonderful shirt from my friend Marnie. While I do have a terrible fear of zombies (damn you Danny Boyle for making 28 Days Later) I was once again reminded of how wonderful my friends are. Even from across the country, Marni knew that a zombie T-shirt was "just what I needed", to quote the Cars.

I'm just running out the door to work at a science fair and will proudly wear my zombie shirt. I will also wear it out to dinner with my inlaws tonight because they, oddly enough, have a vast appreciation for zombies. Thanks Marni, you totally made my Friday the 13th!

Monday, March 9, 2009


I'm a big Dancing with the Stars fan. I know, you're embarrassed that you read this blog now, but I appreciate the silliness and the eventual skill that people show. I also watch it on the DVR so only watch what I want to watch. As I was breezing through the Season Premier I couldn't help but wonder what the professionals think and how funny their conversation must go when they all get together at the fringe factory. As a teacher, I can only imagine what it must be like to be stuck with a 50 year old, over weight computer genius or a guy who is so obscene his tatoo'd that his arms need to be blurred. Good luck with that.

Photos of the Day 69 - 70

I've been pretty lax about posting my photos of the day though I've been taking them. I seem to have a bit of death following me around and haven't been too concerned about blogging my bad mood and understandable funk. I also haven't taken too many pictures though I've been working hard on the technical aspects of exposure and developing. I finally got out a bit on Sunday and took some neighborhood pictures including this one of what I call a "Huxtable" block of Brooklyn. I have no idea where Bill Cosby's fake family lived but it looked a lot like this:

Work has been crazy but even though I left around 6:30 it was still light out and I could take some picutres. Ugly Better was filming there today and had the main entrance all light up for filming.

RIP Bob Guskind

I began sending my photos into a number of Brooklyn blogs around last November and they almost immediately began appearing in two websites, Curbed and Gowauns Lounge. I would drop them in the flickr pool and almost instantly they would show up and I would get so excited that someone out there (not a friend or a family member) was interested and excited about my shots.

Over Christmas, I sent Gowanus Lounge a comment about a restaurant in our neighborhood and received an email from Bob introducing himself as the creator and editor of GL and the Brooklyn editor of Curbed. He asked me if I was interested in becoming a contributing photographer for GL and gave me an assignment for Curbed.

While I never met Bob in person, his support for all of the people who worked on GL was obvious in his writing and posts as he lavished praise on his contributors. His support inspired me to wander around Brooklyn and see what he was so excited or angry about. He was heartbroken about Coney Island and made no secret of his distrust of the real estate development process or his hated of bad design.

As someone who has become deeply steeped in the process of mourning, I can say that the best way to remember someone is to continue doing their good works, taking up a voice in their battles, and letting their memory serve as an inspiration. Bob captured the dynamism and the tension of Brooklyn and helped to make it a center of blogging and public voice against bad neighborhood development and policy.

The below image is the last one I sent Bob and I took it at Hanco's across the street.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

In Defense of Food

I just zipped through Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food" and it was the perfect book to get me back into the swing of things in terms of thinking about what I eat and more importantly, where it comes from. I am eagerly awaiting spring and am beginning to get started with gardening, one local summer, the farmers market, and summer parties. I haven't been very committed to eating locally or even cooking too much over the winter though I did stick with my usual purveyors of locals meats and I did consume large quantities of Red Hook Beer. I also shopped pretty exclusively at the Food Co Op, which does its best to buy local, organic and sustainable food. Dairy, protein, and alcohol remained easy to find though its hard to wean yourself off of salads, veggies, and fruits and still maintain a relatively sane diet. Maybe next year I'll be better, maybe not.

In Defense of Food is sort of a parallel universe to Omnivore's Dilemma. It looks at human health, your individual health, as it fits into the food systems that surround us. He describes the wrongheadedness of "nutrtitonism" or the reductionist and scientific notion that we can reduce healthy eating to its elemental parts. He gives us a rich history of nutrition and modernization with an anthropoligical bent that Margaret Mead would be happy to read. To put it simply, for many generations culture defined food, and now, with the advent of science, science defines food and tries to keep it simple (stupid). He makes it seem like the Dupont phrase "better living through chemistry" applied to every thing post WWII including food, as if our grandmothers and mothers swallowed it wholesale and didn't doubt it for a second.

In that way the book itself is a bit reductionist, painting good and bad, outlining rules to live by, and simple frameworks to judge whether we should put something in our bodies. There is a tension in Pollan's writing as if he knows that he may be writing a self-help book but he knows his advice is too good to not pass along. Its very motherly of him and he is quite embarrassed at the demand from people that he tell them what to do.

Despite its tension it is a quick read and I appreciate a bit of fascism in an otherwise chaotic world. If you liked Omnivore's Dilemma and you can't figure out how to make its lessons work for your own health than read In Defense of Food. If you haven't read OD, don't bother with IDOF, it's a sequel.

Picture of the Day- Day 62

I've taken nothing but bad and boring pictures the past week and I won't bore you with them. Instead, let me present you with these "cheerful" flowers that I bought to decorate my apartment.

What is special about this photograph is that it is the first one that I have developed using some new software that we use for my class called lightroom. So I not only shot this using manual but I "developed" it using some nifty software. I'm not really sure how comparable digital developing is to film developing but I can tell you that it takes a similar level of skill and experience to get it right.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ugh. Gurgle. Sniff.Sniff. Ralph.Weep.

Its been one of those weeks. Not even close to the worst week in the world but not one that I would want to relive. I've been really sick all week, out of work Monday and Tuesday, and probably should have been out of work a lot more but had to go in. I wandered the halls hopped up on cold medicine, nose dripping, apologizing for my spaciness, and getting things done. My office mate had the same thing so when I looked to her for motherly sympathy, I saw the same drippy nose, sore throat, and cold medicine haze, and just decided to keep it to myself. This is the same cold that my husband had and its now moving from my head to my chest and I expect to spend the week feeling better but honking like a goose with a drinking problem. On a happy note I am very very funny when hopped up on cold medicine so while I may say crazy things at meetings but they are almost always funny.

This week was also Adam's NYC memorial service and I had about 35 people to out house on Friday night for a memorial dinner. Friday night TV and dinner is kind of a staple amongst my friends and it seemed only fitting to bring my family and Adam's family together. Adam spent many holidays with my family and always felt like a family member. While our parents had met before, it was way back in college. It was a wonderful way to spend the night before his memorial service. Our house has always felt like Adam's house both because he spent so much time here and because he helped us buy it a year ago.

My husband summed up Adam's memorial service the best, it was "punishing". We all wept as people spoke about him, showed funny pictures, and told amusing stories. This service felt very different in that we were over the initial shock and starting to really feel what happened. I want to reach out to his family and tell them what I went through when my dad died but then I don't want to intrude. At first you can't believe what just happened, then you can't imagine how you will get through it, and then, about 7 month later you'll have a hole in your heart. I don't know what happens after that but I know it gets both better and worse. Worse because the pain continues to be intense and unpredictable, better because you learn how strong your support networks are.

I experienced this in the months following my dad's death: an intensity of pain and a connection to those who I knew had experienced similar horrors. I began comparing my own loss to other tragedies and couldn't imagine the pain of war or the loss of a child. I swing back and forth between that deep acute pain and the detachment that comes with trying to keep yourself safe. I have a bit of paranoia and wish I could just spend my day's protecting those around me. Most of the time I just want to sleep (which is in my nature given my narcolepsy).

Most of all I long for summer. Weird, I know, but I long for the change of season when I'm warm all the time, can sit on the roof at night, watching the planes fly over head and listening to the crack of the baseball bat. I have a deep faith in myself that I will feel better, stop wishing to sleep all the time, and go back to my perky, merry ways but I can't do anything to rush the time that it will take to get back there. So ugh. Sigh. Sniffle. I hope this cold goes away by the time the PMS comes back.