On Garden Time

July 7th, 2013 | Posted by Jill in garden - (4 Comments)

Exactly one year ago, I posted about how well my front garden was filling out after all our meticulous planning. Last summer we put a lot of effort into growing tomatoes and nurturing flowers and diligently picking tiny strawberries to enjoy for months and months. Year three? Not so much. Between the barely-winter winter and the fact that zero of my plants died back during the winter, I have the craziest garden ever this year. My travel schedule for work has prevented me from doing much maintenance so far this year – and thanks to the amount of rain we’ve had this year, I’m really disinclined to do much regular weeding in fear of my mosquito pals. I haven’t even bothered with tomatoes or an herb garden yet this year because I know that I don’t really have the time and attention required to give them a fighting chance. Pathetic, I know.

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To my original design’s credit, parts of the garden are looking great this year despite my every attempt to completely neglect it. The sunny woodland patch look I was going for on one side of the garden? Well, that vision has been realized… and then some. Yarrow flowers bend down to the sidewalk, their hot pink flowers full of bees. Salvia spikes have reseeded in several colors, scenting the sidewalk in their sage-y smell. The left side of the garden has grown big and unruly – and as my neighbor kindly put it – it’s got that cagey wild vibe going.

So, basically it’s exactly like my hair these days. Thanks, July heat and humidity.

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The right side of the garden – the side nearest the stoop – is equally as wild and out of control. The acid green creeping jenny has started to drip down the bricks. All the various sedum I planted have exploded in crazy textures – and they’re threatening to take over the entire garden. The sweet baby lavender plants have grown into massive overbearing clumps with purple fronds covering half the steps. And don’t even get me started on the oregano. I’ve already cut it back twice this year. The only thing not doing well on this side of the garden is the thyme. All the other plants are so humongous, the poor thyme can’t catch a break and get enough sunlight to survive. Tough luck, thyme. Natural selection is real.

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The other day, I came home after work and realized I was locked out of the house. I had a set of keys, but I couldn’t unlock the deadbolt. So to make good use of the time I spent waiting for Zach to get home, I decided to do a little work weeding, which gave me some excess time to spend thinking about the garden. See, while the garden has just happened to (unintentionally) grow to look (intentionally) wild on either side and is kind of beautiful, the whole middle section is balding. Once I got done weeding, the whole middle section was down to the bare dirt.

My garden has male pattern baldness.

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A little story on how the baldness came to be: over the last couple of years, I became irritated with the random giant chrysanthemums that used to be in center of the garden. Planted by the previous owner of the house, I gather that their original purpose was to cover up the stump of a big weed-tree that used to sit square in the center of the garden. From what I hear in talking with the neighbors, the thing was massive and reached the second floor of the house. ANYWAY. I know that gardening is supposed to be meditative and a demonstration of patience and all that shiz, but I just ripped those chrysanthemums out in cold blood.

As a result, the garden looks a bit silly and I cringe just a little every time I step out the front door. The empty space makes no visual sense, and it’s yet another friendly reminder of my inability to fully complete projects. We’re finally having someone come take a look at the stump this week, so my hope is that we’ll be able to get it removed and get on with our lives.

I just want to get it planted and looking halfway decent again, so I can concentrate on other ongoing house projects these days. Really trying to stay positive and use it as motivation. Time to shop for new plants!

P.S. All images in the post were shot on iPhone and edited with the new VSCO CAM app! I’m in love! Have you downloaded it yet?

This week has been a huge one in the tech community. Yahoo purchased Tumblr in cold hard cash for $1.1 billion and rolling out a brand new interface for Flickr the very same day. Personally, I’m still digesting all the changes to Flickr. The reaction I’ve seen on Twitter and Facebook from friends in the photography and design communities has been totally mixed and incredibly emotional. Clearly the new design has touched a nerve. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments here or over on Twitter!

When I first joined Flickr back in 2005, it had just been acquired by Yahoo. It was such a cool user experience – totally different than other sites on the web – and it blew its competitors out of the water. Though the site has undergone a number of updates over the years, the basic design hasn’t changed in FOREVER – despite the fact that in the meantime, mobile technology and a multitude of new devices have fundamentally changed the way we interact with the digital world. Is this the final design of Flickr forever and ever? Most likely not. I’m certain that Flickr’s leaders are listening to all the feedback – both positive AND negative – as a way to inform the evolution of their site design.

I’m also certain that regardless of whatever way the powers that be choose to revamp Flickr, there is an enormous amount of talent found on its pages. This very site was inspired by all the wonderful photographers I have met over the years, predominantly through Flickr. Once upon a time, its sense of community was second to none and I personally have learned magnitudes through its groups and forums. I’m really hoping this redesign is the first step towards truly making it awesome again. Even if there are growing pains along the way.

In celebration of the talent out there, here are a few recent photographs that have caught my eye in the Flickr group pool. Enjoy!

Untitled, by Anthony Fine:
Untitled

“Jane’s Carousel at Sunset,” by MKC609:
Jane's Carousel at sunset

“BBG Bluebells,” by Marie Viljoen:
bbg bluebells

“Spring Day – Coney Island,” by Terry Murphy:
Spring Day - Coney Island

“Windy,” by Gisele D, AKA The Windsor Terrorist:
Windy

“The Way of the Brooklynite,” by St├ęphane Missier:
The Way of the Brooklynite

“Checker Cab on Nostrand Av,” by Mortimer Slomo:
Checker cab on Nostrand Av

The Dude Abides (with a Widelux)

May 13th, 2013 | Posted by Jill in film - (2 Comments)

Last week Adam Lerner shared a great link on his Facebook page to this awesome interview with actor Jeff Bridges, who has been an avid film photographer for nearly 30 years. This mini documentary, produced by the International Center of Photography, is a retrospective of his work primarily with the unique Widelux film camera. Bridges claims to have shot each movie he’s worked on since 1984 in this wide cinematographic-style format, and the photos featured in the short are fantastic. I’m especially in love with the two faces series he does — you have to see for yourself!

Plus, for The Big Lebowski fans out there — don’t miss the story at the end. Classic. Enjoy!

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One of the very first things that Zach and I did when we moved to Crown Heights was invest in a membership to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’d never visited the gardens before moving to this side of Prospect Park, nor did I ever consider myself the kind of person who would wander aimlessly under the canopy of trees. Boy, was I wrong.

Every year now, I can hardly contain myself as I wait for the glorious display of cherry blossoms. This year, I started checking the CherryWatch page in mid-March, hoping for signs of an early bloom. Finally, five weeks later, the cherries are starting to pop. As long as we don’t get much stormy weather or wind this week, I predict that next weekend’s celebration is going to be a doozy. In a really good way. Of course I’m going to be out of town. Figures.

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ANYWAY. Over the last couple of years after many meandering walks through the garden, I’ve thought a lot about the concept of Hanami. Initially, I always thought of hanami in a very literal sense: stop everything, get thee to the garden, see the flowers, and take photos to try and capture a piece of the magical cherry blossoms.

In the last couple of years though, it has evolved moreso into a rite of passage for spring. It’s almost become an emotional spring cleaning for me, because it seems to satisfy my need to cross a bunch of stuff off my checklist. The cherry blossoms give me my annual assignment:

– Get out of the house!
– Get your act together for the year’s gardening plans!
– Go see your friends and family. Don’t be a recluse!
– Be active! Ride your bike! Get to the gym! Get moving!
– COME SEE US AT THE GARDEN!

The cherry blossoms are very practical blossoms. It’s hard to argue with their logic.

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So this weekend, I did as I was told and tore the house apart for a round of spring cleaning. I also managed to do a lot of yoga, purged a boatload of paperwork, and got to see the cherry blossoms through the eyes of my five-month old baby cousin, Olivia. The gardening plans are starting to form slowly but surely and I’m confident they’ll come together. (I want to try my hand at roses. Thanks a lot, Marie.)

I don’t know that I owe all of the productivity to Hanami, or to the cherry blossoms, or even to our upcoming vacation this week. But I do think that that it’s a concept I should try and embrace more in my life. The practice of simple appreciation, of gratitude for the beauty which surrounds, of slowing down and being more present — these are all things which really require practice.

And I need lots of practice.

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