Monday, February 29, 2016

hallway of doors

I like my little 820 square feet of apartment, once I turn left and through one of these doors (not that I like my next door neighbor right now, who at 11.30 at night seems to be re-arranging his entire crockery collection in his kitchen cupboards) - but I will be very glad when I no longer return, of an evening, to such a long and bleak looking corridor.

Sunday, February 28, 2016


He might look as though he's silhouetted against the stars, but rather less romantically, it's an airplane carpet - I looked over my seat arm today, and there he was.  He seemed to be accompanying a former serviceman, and looked as though he probably had a very calming influence.  I do love (and of course I say this as someone who doesn't have animal allergies) to encounter animals on planes - they calm me.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

who is eating the maniolos?

I haven't caught anyone at it - which means that the security light, if they set it off, didn't wake me up. My wildlife camera is in NC (not much use in a 2nd floor apartment, admittedly, but I thought I'd be in a house in the woods).  So it's up to guesswork: raccoon? possum? squirrel? wood rat?  All the above?  Somebody chews away at them pretty comprehensively as soon as they fall - and runs off with some of them, too.

Friday, February 26, 2016

california poppy

The first of the season! - and despite the disappointing El Niño in these parts, the yard is very verdant, and, yes, there are three poppies.  Back in NC, I see there's a strong frost tonight ...

Thursday, February 25, 2016

back to the beach

This was my kind of day: finish putting together the final revisions and the images for an article (plus abstract, keywords, etc. - when did article submissions get, somehow, so bureaucratic?) - and then head for a fish lunch and a walk down the beach (Zuma Beach - about 45 miles, according to the GPS, from where we live, and with some stunning scenery in between).  Then home, a Republican debate (which is like some extraordinary form of theater, with some of the parties more used to stylized burlesque than others), and now carrying on typing in revisions to my earliest book chapters ...

and lunch?  Somehow we managed to coincide with the International Media Launch for the new Mini Cooper.  The weirdest thing was that they all had identical NJ license plates.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

water resources

It's great to be back on campus, where one never knows what one will see next.  Here are a whole lot of decorated water barrels - and one big trash bin - decorated so as to make us aware of water resources (a stall was set up, incorporating these and a whole lot more, a little later).  I'm not quite sure how a panda fits that agenda, but the fish and waves and puffin certainly do.  And maybe bamboo supplies are threatened in some way by global warming?  Or maybe people just look at pandas?  I certainly know that I'm a sucker for looking at videos of them turning summersaults in the snow.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

driving in LA again

Even if my destination is the dentist, it's good to be driving through Los Angeles again - there's simply so much to look at.  To be sure, this isn't the best view of Superman-with-guitar - or maybe it is? - but that's part of the game: you take what you're given when you're stopped at traffic lights.  I don't think I'd fully anticipated how much I'd miss LA in a year away from it ...

Monday, February 22, 2016

morning view

Nothing better than waking up to a birthday morning view like this, from our living room ... El Niño might have proved something of a mirage in these parts, but it's certainly rained enough to have turned everything green.  Back in North Carolina, I noted, the temperature was in the 40s, and it was raining...

Sunday, February 21, 2016

the schoenborn house, and other miscellanea

How could we resist going to one particular open house within walking distance of us, today?  The Schoenborn house, built in 1924 (five years earlier than our house!) by LA architect Wallace Neff, and of course it was great to see how another house of the same age and style was constructed (enviably well) and looked.  Terrific ironwork by Eugen Julius Dietzmann.  We much prefer our view ... but this has a great number of intersecting, and very light spaces.

However .., the architecture, and things like the Crane bathroom (we have a Crane bathroom, I'm pretty sure) - weren't the sole motivation for this visit.  A.L. Schoenborn, like Alice's grandfather Walter Davis, was another Buildings and Loan guy.  And he too got into financial trouble, and he too committed suicide most probably - albeit not in this house.  He left it, in the middle of the night, in his bathrobe, and drove to a garage in Sawtelle, and was found there in a car full of exhaust fumes ... having seen the house, and the great views over downtown, one can only conclude that he was, indeed, terribly depressed.

Meanwhile, here's LucyFur with a catnip banana, 

and some blossom.  So very good to be back in LA!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

another corner of the back yard

I'm always particularly happy to see the trumpet flower.  They have a particularly luminous (and sweet smelling) quality, even after the sun has disappeared over the hill beside us.  This is a plant that we brought with us from the Hoover Street house, and it's continued to flourish, so it's also a nostalgia plant.  And it's probably still there, in the dark, but I'm not going out to check, since the night is loud with coyotes.

Friday, February 19, 2016

back yard

It's impossible not to love being home, when one can stroll out in the back yard and find this, after a long, grey winter in North Carolina (and that's before I start enumerating other things: Alice, on her birthday; the cats; being able to eat outdoors ...)


Airport decor.  I'm beginning to think that I should take out shares in long-term parking.  I'll spare you the details of a plane being provided that didn't fit the seating assignments on people's boarding passes, and just celebrate being back in LA!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

shuttered light

It's not often that I wake up (briefly) in the middle of the night, and think Oh! I must take a photograph!  But it happened last night - this is what it's like if you open your eyes in the Orrington Hotel (aka the Hilton) in downtown Evanston when you should, really, be asleep.  I'm glad I wasn't.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

from the far frozen north

Lake Michigan was looking spectacular in today's cool grey light.  Its icy surface was even more crumpled than the photographs show.  I've always wanted to see frozen waves, and this is the nearest yet.  I was speaking at Northwestern (and giving a so-called masterclass) with a terrific and interdisciplinary group, but was so very glad that I had the space to go and walk by the lake, and gaze over its unstable glistening crust to Chicago.

Monday, February 15, 2016

flash of the day - Chicago edition

Yes, there's a can company called FLASH in Chicago!  Who knew?  (and if you knew, why didn't you tell me?).  About seven of these swished past whilst I was waiting, today, for the cab that I'd called (not flash in any size shape or form) to take me to Evanston (talking at 5 p.m. at Northwestern tomorrow, on Millais, not flash).  It's not too easy to take a picture of a speeding car in bad light, but this one just about captures the flash logo.  What was so strange is that all these Chicago cab companies seem to have names straight out of 1930s newspaper culture - Flash, Sun, Globe ...

Sunday, February 14, 2016

scene from a spy movie

You may well ask why there's an Army truck outside my window.  That's because I'm at the Holiday Garden Inn (the garden, as ever in this bit of NC, consisting of spindly and sulking pines) by RDU airport, hoping that my relatively early flight to Chicago in the morning will indeed leave.  I monitored the weather in a thoroughly neurotic way throughout the day - 40% chance snow; 60% chance freezing rain, etc etc, percentages shifting up and shifting down - but the bottom line is that no one in NC can drive on any kind of frozen precipitation whatsoever, and it seemed safer to be here rather than with twelve miles of thin and slidy ice between me and the airport.  Of course, whether the weather will prevent the flight itself from leaving is a further question ...

Saturday, February 13, 2016

falling petals

I've been trying to make these tulips last till the end of the week, but I think I've lost the battle.

Friday, February 12, 2016

homesick for a tree

There, on my screen, is a photo that Alice sent me this morning - the tree outside our bedroom and dining room, in full blossom, with the sun on Griffith Park behind.  I love that tree; I miss that tree - an Asian Pear, that comes out at the beginning of February in all of its stunning beauty.  And there, out of the window, are the grey cold pines of North Carolina, and some thin flakes of snow.  Sigh.  But yes, there are my piles of notes, and print outs, and that promising pile of volumes? - why, it's a whole lot of years of the Magazine of Light, the in-house magazine of the lighting division of General Electric in the 1930s and 40s.   So far, this would probably be more interesting to someone working in the history of interior design (and garden design too) than to the flash photography historian, but I live in hope ...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

morning abstraction

A little bit of abstraction with your morning coffee?  Or at least whilst boiling a kettle?  (I was actually moving to take a photograph of that, in all its electric blue lit glory, but it had turned itself off by the time that I reached it).  But this has a certain cold geometric pleasure to it, and I think that abstraction is in order on a day when gravitational waves have been discovered, for real.  I've been so excited by the thought of those black holes colliding, and not just because of the size of the flash, the escaping energy that that occasioned, but because of the possibility of thinking about the unthinkable beyond - or whatever the right spatial or prepositional term might be.  And that little magnified blip! If you didn't listen to that blip of contact, go and do so, and think how extraordinary it is.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

consider the lilies

The sun was shining through these lilies - on the counter shelf that separates kitchen from main room - just for a couple of minutes this morning.  I was right: it was the most visually interesting thing I was to see all day, as the sunlight faded to grey

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

once more unto the daffodils

This would be another sign of spring - at least every four years - prowling up and down one's living room looking for a spring flower to photograph (thank you, Trader Joe's, for your seasonal practice of stocking masses of cheap daffodils) whilst watching primary election results.  As the TV commentators keep saying - eighteen months ago, who would have thought that the two New Hampshire winners would be Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump?  Sometimes this country confounds me (although yes, of course, I can offer ample evidence why this should be no surprise at all).

Monday, February 8, 2016

february fill dyke

The light coming home this evening was extraordinary - dark clouds overhead (and pouring with cold rain) - and then a pale yellow stripe of sunset on the horizon.  This was the view into a cemetery that I pass on the way home - but even as I was taking the photo (stopped at lights - great timing!) the light and the wet reflections reminded me ever so strongly of Benjamin Leader's 1881 painting February Fill Dyke, in Birmingham City Art Gallery.  Well, maybe.  Or maybe I'm just feeling nostalgic for British nearly-spring (or, more likely, C19th painting).

Sunday, February 7, 2016

spring is still out of focus

Rumor has it that spring may happen, one day, and the first bits of blossom can be seen, and the first daffodils are starting to show - but it's still grey and chill and gloomy here in NC (the more so, of course, for all those Panther supporters).

Oh, and if you were wondering, I love, love, love the singing sheep ad.  Those of you who weren't watching the Superbowl will, I hope, be able to google it, sooner or later.  

Saturday, February 6, 2016

two last details

from my walk between my hotel and CAA: first, a house on 21st street, with some Tiffany-style glass; and then - just over the Lion bridge - Marilyn, looming over the rooftops.  Even if it was chilly, I could have walked around and around looking at details.

That being said, I had a terrific CAA, and have returned completely intellectually recharged ... and it was so great to see my colleagues again: missing them is the real downside of being away on a residential fellowship (actually, so is the dog that's been yapping in the next door apartment for an hour or so).

Friday, February 5, 2016


I love walking from my hotel to the CAA conference - it's about a mile and a quarter, and, even if it was snowing in a desultory way this morning, it was beautiful and golden coming back.  I so associate those Woodley Park hotels in DC with less than happy MLAs - including one of the worst migraines I've ever had - so nothing would enduce me to stay in them again unless I absolutely had to.  And there's so much to look at when walking: here's one end of the Lions' Bridge - that is, the William Howard Taft Bridge (built 1897-1907).  I was a little surprised when Alice told me via Skype it's vertigo inducing - it's only 136 feet or so high - but I think that the take-away from that is that I'm super-lucky not to notice vertigo.

And here's another shot of the stenciled walkway ...

Thursday, February 4, 2016

DC walls

Ah, I do love public wall art ... these first two bits of pasting and stenciling are on a walkway past a big apartment block that's being renovated on Connecticut Ave, just before the bridge ...

and this ridiculous cat is part of a mural behind the Phillips Collection.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Washington, at last

The first thing I'd like to say about these pictures is that you see them as shot - in color.  Second - the color here today is grey and black.  But I'm very glad to be here ... We were warned (flying from Raleigh Durham) that it would be a bumpy flight - but the most heart-in-mouth moment was aborting the landing at Reagan National, accelerating up and sideways and up again, and then wobbling around in the clouds with the pilot telling us we were going to go to Richmond, Virginia, because we'd need some more fuel ... Fuel was put on board.  DC, we were told, was still impassable, so we deplaned, meandered around Richmond Airport, until they found a bus, and loaded us up, and drove us to DC - which was very damp, and had a strange narrow but thick layer of fog over the Potomac.   One could see why Foggy Bottom is called Foggy Bottom.  I felt very sorry for the colleague from UNC who had a grad student meeting her here, and had been told at the airport that the plane had been diverted because of "a dangerous situation on board" - you'd think that they could manage to find a more soothing way of telling someone that we couldn't land?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

on their way out

These flowers are more faded that they seem - yellowing around the gills.  I've tried to keep them going - cut them down from their long stems, changed their water - but I don't think they're going to survive for a few days of my absence, sitting in a warm room.  And I have no other home for them, and no compost.  Maybe they wouldn't even have made it through until tomorrow morning - but I'm sad to be saying farewell.  It makes the hugest difference, having fresh flowers (and flowering bulbs - hyacinths, tulips) in my little apartment ...

Monday, February 1, 2016

another corner on the way to work

Another fortuitous traffic light stop!  Mind you, this mural is only about a hundred yards from my apartment, so I could very easily have walked there rather than grabbing my camera on the fly.  It's wrapped around the half-moon window of a Mexican restaurant - Torero, the oldest Mexican restaurant in Durham - and has some other fine moments (for a future occasion ...) just up the street. It celebrates the Latino community here; it was painted in 2013 by Duke students, high school students, some visiting artists from the Dominican Republic, and under the overall guidance of Mexican-American, California based, guest artist Inocente Izucar - and it's part of Duke's TWO-WAY BRIDGES | PUENTES DE DOBLE VIA project, connecting "Duke, Durham and the Americas".