I talk to strangers.


Tonight after work I saw this guy taking a picture of a standpipe in Harvard Square. I stopped and walked back to him. “Why?” I asked.

He gave me a look that said either “fuck off” or “I am confused, startled, and weirded-out by a stranger who walked up to me and said ‘Why'”.

“I just was wondering why you took that picture.”

The Photographer Guy

He explained that he was taking a picture of the standpipe (“It looks like a face”) for a friend who’s developing an exhibition of artistically-modified standpipe photos.

20140903 notart 150x150Anyhow, we talked a bit and he introduced himself as the Not Art guy! People around Cambridge probably recognize his stenciled street art on boarded-up windows, the plain backs of signs, trash piles, utility boxes, and other surfaces that nobody cared about. It’s an irreverent and thought-provoking slogan that gets me to see the whitespace in the city, to pay attention to the edges of the street, and to consider the important role of design in our lives. [Or he could just be a guy with a wry sense of humor, a stencil, and a can of spray paint; It’s good either way.]

He gave me one of his Not Art stickers. I invited him to check out my bicycle “art”.

His work is on the streets of Cambridge, Boston, Somerville, and beyond.  His web page is at http://www.facebook.com/notart1. There’s a collection of photos of his work on flickr at http://www.flickr.com/groups/notartgraffiti/.

 

(Attribution: The NOT ART graphic shown above is the intellectual property of the Not Art guy reproduced with assumed permission from the sticker he gave me.)

His bumper sticker said, “MY OTHER CAR IS A DIESEL LOCOMOTIVE”


North Station, Boston. Tuesday evening, 5:35pm.
I was the first passenger on the 5:50pm MBTA train to Lowell.

Empty commuter rail car

Four years ago, we built a small raised vegetable garden in the back yard, in what used to be a sunny corner. It was 8 feet (2.4m) away from a smallish 10 foot (3m) tall wild mulberry bush.

Over the years, the mulberry bush grew into a 25 foot (7.6m) high, 30 foot (9m) wide tree with lovely flavorful, sweet fruit in mid-summer. But the vegetable garden was now in the shade for most of the morning and early afternoon. So a few weeks ago I manned-up, got out the chainsaw, and cut down about half the tree. The garden now gets a couple hours more sunlight every day.


These are zucchini plants.

There’s been a lot of flowers (very pretty, big yellow flowers), but so far no fruit. Y’know how you always hear that people plant too much zucchini? Lies. Zucchini do not come from gardens. (Or at least not from my garden.)

Zucchini-ettes

The cukes have finally started growing.

For most of the summer, the little cucumber plants have barely survived. A few weeks ago, all of a sudden, there were flowers! Then tiny little cuke-ettes. Now there’s about a dozen of these guys, ready to pick in a few days.

Cukes - Almost ready!

Anyone can grow tomatoes in New England.

Here’s proof. After a slow start, we got our first real tomatoes of the season last week. With the extra sun, there should be enough of them for a small salad.

Multicolored Tomatoes

 


Moral of the Story:

A mulberry bush doesn’t make a good neighbor to a vegetable garden.

Bubcia wedding colorized

My maternal grandparents got married in the 1920s after leaving Poland and settling here in Lowell Massachusetts. I never met my grandfather. My memories of my grandmother (Bubcia) are a bit hazy. She spoke no English, but always had a great big smile. She lived with two of my uncles in a very old-fashioned apartment in a building she owned on the banks of the Concord River. My mom brought me to visit Bubcia every Saturday afternoon. Alzheimers disease got the better of her; once my uncles could no longer take care of her, she moved to a nursing home.

The folks in the wedding party seem so young. They can’t have had much money, but check out their stylish Sunday Best for the wedding. I love the silent-movie-villian mustache!


This was the first big photograph I scanned and edited with Photoshop 3, almost twenty years ago, on an Apple Macintosh Performa 635 upgraded to 8MB RAM. The original photo is sepia-toned, mounted on card stock, and is in pretty rough shape. This colorized and stylized version is based on that original scan.