Thursday, July 26th, 2012
Speaking of tormentas eléctricas, we're having a pretty dramatic one tonight. I got a nice cloudscape shot just beforehand.
(Actually the full size image of this would make a really nice wallpaper file.)
Friday, June 8th, 2012
The noises on my evening porch on Meeker Street divide
into infrequent spots of sound --
the quiet cars and trains far off and sometimes getting closer --
and constant streams,
these further classified
into degrees of variation:
cicadas' incessant, homogenous roar
(but listen closer)
the babbling brook of excited birds:
the quiet fizz of soda in my glass.
Sunday, June third, 2012
I spent this morning reading Saramago in Spiotta Park, where the geniuses of Rebel Yarns had conspired to give the park a surrealistic makeover as part of the South Orange Maplewood Artists' Studio Tour. Click thru for pix.
Sunday, February 5th, 2012
A walk to Meadow Park with one's dog serves as a nice reminder of what attracted one initially to South Orange...
Wednesday, August 24th, 2011
Happy Birthday, Ellen!We rode our beribboned bikes around South Orange and then came back home for a picnic dinner in the back yard.
Sunday, July 17th, 2011
Midway along last week's ride up to Eagle Rock, I had the thought that this would be a fun way to ride to Montclair, riding up Eagle Rock Ave. to Mountain Ave. and then down Bloomfield. (I normally ride through Orange, along the west side of Rosendale Cemetery, which is a nice ride of about 6 miles with not a lot of hills.) When Ellen said yesterday morning that she wanted to go over to the Montclair farmer's market and get some vegetables for dinner, my ears perked up... I ended up taking the Mountain Ave. route there and riding home through the valley with a bunch of veggies and some sausage and some bread on my back, about a 14-mile round trip. (Got mildly "lost" or off-course only twice, pretty good for Montclair -- I find the street layout there to be among the most confusing anywhere.)
This is the first time this summer I had been to the Montclair market, and I always forget how great it is, a bit more fun and lively than any of the other local farmer's markets (which are to be sure all organized by the same group and have many vendors in common) -- just something about the layout of this particular market and the vibe... Lunch today and yesterday was just tomatoes and bread, both bought from Vacchiano Farms -- the tomatoes in particular are the first good tomatoes I've had this season. My impulse is to say that they are the tastiest thing I have ever put in my mouth -- I think overstatement is a natural impulse when it comes to the first good tomatoes of the season. Suffice to say, they are spectacularly good tomatoes. Dinner yesterday was grilled eggplant and sausages, also from Vacchiano; their brocolli rabe sweet pork sausage is very nice on the grill. Dinner tonight will be summer squash and green beans; I am thinking now that I will make a curry with them.
Saturday, July second, 2011
A year or so ago, I was talking with Woody about interesting things to see in West Orange -- he told me how one time he had been walking up Valley to Northfield and had taken a meandering route... Eventually he found himself on "one of those dead-end streets behind Northfield" and had found a secret canyon, with a pedestrian bridge linking dead-end streets on either side of it. Ever since then I've been interested to find this place, and today (I'm pretty sure) I did.
The canyon I found doesn't precisely meet Woody's description -- it looks like there has been some construction in the intervening years. Riding up Northfield past Seton Hall (a long slog of an uphill, but not steep enough to make me give up midway along), there are two streets to the left marked "Dead End", Carter Rd. and Beverly Rd. I road up the hill and then back down, and turned right on Beverly -- Turns out it is no longer a Dead End as the road has been looped around to connect it to Carter. (This must be a fairly recent development, Google Maps at least still thinks both streets dead-end.) Right where it loops around, there is the canyon Woody was talking about. No pedestrian bridge anymore, the loop crosses over the canyon and the stream is in a culvert there -- very pretty waterfall where it pours out of the culvert, I tried to get a photo but the maple tree in front of me had its own ideas... There is still no connection to the south -- the dead-end street south of the canyon, also called Beverly, is a private street and gated off.
Sunday, June 26th, 2011
This weekend's SOMbike ride was a tour of the proposed greenway along the east branch of the Rahway River, through Maplewood, South Orange, Orange and West Orange. Cami Zelevansky, who is working with the Greenway committee in Maplewood, led the way on the first half of the ride, showing us where the path would be laid, what changes needed to be made and where there are still decisions to be made -- the greenway is still a good ways from being even conceptually complete. The main piece of news I learned on this portion of the ride is that the old pump house south of 3rd Street has been condemned -- tragic! It is one of the most beautiful structures in our town. Cami told us the structure is contaminated with toxic chemicals and would be infeasibly expensive to renovate.
The old Boyd Hat Company factory
The ride through Orange and West Orange was led by Patrick Morrissey, executive director of HANDS, Inc. and proprietor of Hat City Kitchen. He showed us around the old hat manufacturing district in the valley, we saw some gorgeous old factories and warehouses that HANDS is redeveloping into mixed-use condominiums and business and art space, and some that have been condemned; we looked at the art spaces that have already been developed as part of the Valley Arts District; we saw the east fork of the east branch of the Rahway, a river fork I had not known about -- it is mostly underground in culverts but the narrow channel where it is at the surface, behind the old Monroe Calculator Company factory, is a lovely hidden bit of wilderness rising up in the middle of the city. We ended up at Hat City Kitchen, where Pat treated us to a beer, and then rode on home.
A nice ride, not particularly challenging but with lots to see and learn. I was not looking for challenge as I had worn myself out earlier in the day making another attempt on Walker Street -- nearly made it to the top this time!
Sunday, June 12th, 2011
New businesses are opening in Vailsburg, Newark's western spur,
Marie and Ryan greet us and we look around -- Folk Engineered’s
The sign on Sweeney's closed-down Liquors says a Subway's coming soon.
Improvement? Well perhaps, but anyways not detriment, besides
It’s good to see the signs of any economic life.
We’re riding bikes through Vailsburg, a group of us from west of here,
To see Marie and Ryan’s shop in Lincoln Park in Newark --
We’re waiting for some slower riders, an older man in slacks and straw hat
Chats with us about riding, about the 5-borough tour, he rides it yearly,
About his bike, a Trek (my model!), it's
“An old-school Trek,” he says, we chuckle.
Now the light turns green, we’re off, we ride due east, South Orange Ave.
til it hits Springfield, downtown Newark and we’re nearly there,
We cut a little south on University and find their place
A few blocks down the way, on Crawford over by the school.
Their company, builds custom bikes, with steel frame for classic look
And high performance, also something new, this year we see,
They’re putting out their first stock model bike, looks great, looks sweet.
Marsupial they’re calling it (still built to order), sleek clean lines --
It looks like an old Schwinn at half the weight.
They show us around the shop and walk us through the steps
Of building a steel frame, the measuring, the milling,
Ryan brazes lugs in for a water-bottle holder and we
Ooh and aah to see his reconditioned old machine tools
And the stately, austere frame that’s standing ready in a vise.
A lovely couple, they infect the whole group with their brio
And they serve us tasty crudités and cookies, fresh-baked,
Ryan’s cool iced-tea, we eat and chat and then we’re ready to head home.
On the way back I break from the group to get home a bit faster,
Sky is clouding up, the rain will come down soon, I think as I look up.
I always feel a little twinge as I ride by South Eleventh Street,
Where Brother’s BBQ was, my old favorite, it’s been closed for years.
I get back to South Orange, sweat is pouring off me,
Coast my way down Montrose in the cloudy twilight, here I am, back home.
So I’ll write up this whole journey as a verse and post it on my blog --
A verse? I’ve never done this -- but it fits to some rough meter,
So let’s get it out there, click on "Publish," see what people think.
Click through for more photos of the shop.
Monday, January 17th, 2011
Further progress in improving the look of our dining room: Ellen found a great deal on reupholstering the chairs, from the McGowen Fabric Outlet in Elizabeth. Very reasonable price and excellent work, though perhaps lacking in customer service relations -- at about 5 this afternoon Ellen answers the ringing phone, listens for a minute, says "Jeremy, we have a situation" -- the chairs are finished and the fabric outlet manager wants them picked up right away so he does not have to hold them overnight. So me and John quit practicing and took a road trip to Elizabeth.
I find the sheer extent of the urban area around here disconcerting. I often don't notice it because I will get on the highway to drive any significant distance; but the city, the neighborhoods, keep going beneath the highway in between the exits. There isn't much of any way to get to Elizabeth by highway -- it is just surface street after surface street, and you never lose the impression of being in the city.
The chairs are probably nearly as old as I am -- they and the table are Ellen's parents' old dining-room set. The old leather upholstery on them was looking really bad; the new fabric is utterly transformative.
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