Digging Deep

Been digging deeper and deeper these days to channel my inner Pollyanna. This brutal winter seems like it’s never going to end. So far, it’s been the coldest winter here in New York in 38 years. And, with a few days left to go to put an end to February, it’ll go down as  the 3rd coldest February, the 8th coldest month, has seen 6 nights with temperatures in the single digits and has only offered one day above normal.

It gets harder and harder to find the bright spots. But here’s a try:

•Spring is 28 days away.

•Daylight savings time starts on March 8th, 11 days away.

•The next season of House of Cards is just 2 days away.

March 1st is Sunday. Invite friends in for a celebratory dinner. Found a good one on Food52 today…

Chicken Gratín

Enjoy!…and hang in there.

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Start at Home

Planning summer escapes? Don’t forget to include some day or half-day trips close to home. Last weekend was glorious and a friend and I walked to the River and headed North. I ride my bike that way a lot, but that leaves a lot of the more interesting sites out of reach for the wheels.

In 80 blocks, I saw flora & fauna, wild life, beautiful and interesting sculptures, fabulous nooks with comfortable chairs that begged to be sat on, gorgeous views of the George Washington Bridge, people napping and picnicking or just sitting by the water with a book or a friend. There was free kayaking, the boat basin, lots of sail boats in the water, places to rent bikes, foMer-man - Version 2od carts and a cafe. And, as we got closer to Riverside Park, the grounds began to resemble Central Park. Lush trees. Woodsy vistas. Hills and ornamental steps and old monuments. And then there was that outdoor rehearsal we came upon, complete with a bearded man in a Victorian gown. What was so amazing was that the highway and cars and skyscrapers and the hectic city life was the distance of just one block away…and yet miles away in my mind.

With lots of stops to admire, explore and photograph, the five mile tour took about four hours, and that included a stop for lunch at the cafe. Though I pass through the area with some frequency, slowing down, taking closer looks and seeing everything a bit differently, I almost felt I was in a different state. We did take the subway back downtown, another benefit of NYC living. I came home relaxed, excited about some of the things we discovered and with many many good pictures to share. The total cost for two, for lunch and the subway home, was less than $25. An added benefit? Walking is good for your body and an enjoyable walk is good for your spirit.

New York isn’t the only city with surprises for its residents. Sit and think of interesting places in your vicinity that you pass by but never stopped to explore and learn more about.

Long weekend coming up. If you’re not leaving your town, think of what you can explore or revisit in it. Enjoy the day and don’t forget your camera!

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Attention Camera Buffs!

Beautiful sunny days. More outside time. Grab your camera and go! Actually it doesn’t have to be a sunny day. The light is so much softer on a cloudy day and can be absolutely dramatic during a rainstorm. Anyway, a camera is good to have in hand, or in your bag.

photoFor those of you looking for free tips (and an online photography school), visit http://digital-photography-school.com and sign up for their newsletter. You don’t have to buy anything to take advantage of their tips and tutorials. Or, skip the signup and just visit their site when the mood hits. (As an aside, I have taken a few of their online classes.)

If you’re the type that gets overwhelmed at the number of possible subjects around you, look for the site’s shooting suggestions and tips for weekend picture taking. Have something in mind before you leave the house, just don’t close your eyes to surprise possibilities!

One tip from home base – Don’t get so engrossed in the camera and settings and snapping away that you forget to enjoy and appreciate where you are and what you see. Be mindful, take pleasure, enjoy the moment.

Where Do You Find Good Books to Read?

I used to be able to walk to no less than five Barnes & Noble bookstores, plus more than a handful of independents, and troll the isles looking for good books. If you want to go past the Best Seller lists, maybe find older books on offbeat topics, you have to browse in a good store. Even after I switched to an electronic reader, I still searched the shelves, guiltily scanning the bar codes with my GoodReads app, knowing I wasn’t going to buy anything from that retailer. Most of the stores are now closed and it’s harder to find good, interesting books to read.

What was the last book you read and how did you find it?