Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sarah: Classy and Fabulous

A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous. 
- Coco Channel

This is Miss Sarah.  I've had the pleasure of taking her picture for over a year now.  She was the subject of my first post here.  She's all girl as you can see from her obsession with her sunglasses and her complete and utter distraction by pretty things.  She's faster and more mobile now.  Which makes it a bit harder to get a photo of her.   But we did OK.  

The Photos were taken at the gorgeous Thorncreek Winery in Aurora, Ohio.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Italy | Day 5 | Vietri sul Mare

On day 5 of our trip we traveled south on the coast.  We visited the ancient ruins of Paestum and a buffalo mozzarella farm where the buffalo lived in a true 'cow palace' equipped with personal  'cow wash' and 'scratching machine'.  Lets just say those buffalo were doing ok.  They were all named too.  Though I didn't meet any of them directly.  They tend to be prima donnas.

But the cherry on the top for me was visiting Vietri sul Mare.  It is the epicenter for pottery making  in the Campania region (polychrome ceramics actually - since Medieval times) and is the southern most point of the Amalfi Coast otherwise known as the first of the '13 pearls' or cities.

I'm not aware of a direct family connection but when you have the same last name as a town in Italy you have to visit there!  It just goes without saying.  It just has to be on your bucket list.  I've been told my father's family came from the Naples area which is 90 miles or so north of Vietri so it's possible, no probable, there is a connection.   Families often took the name of their home village when emigrating so one never knows and, if nothing else, it's nice to think about.

My 2 photos for the day are of Vietri of course but if you'd like to see more go here to Italy | Day 5 where ruins and buffalo abound.

Signing off, Vietri on the sea...

The mural in the background is hand painted ceramic tile of the towns history.  
And these two guys, well, they're in charge of course! :)

The Gulf of Salerno and my favorite window in all of Italy!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Straight as a Blue Arrow

I spent a couple of quality hours in a great neighborhood with a great friend over the weekend.  This is the kind of neighborhood where you can see a great concert, shop for a polyester leisure suit and still buy albums.  Yeah, like, the vinyl kind.   The neighborhood is experiencing an art renaissance but in reality it's a working class neighborhood where many families were raised, a dollar was earned the hard way and a sordid past still fascinates movie goers today.

This is a small tribute to a great record store in the Waterloo neighborhood, Blue Arrow Records.  The super cool floor is tiled with vintage album covers.  And not only do they sell really sweet nostalgia, the back room is ground zero for the Waterloo Alley Cat Project where they try to feed and neuter a growing feral cat community in the area.   Music saves. 

Also, this weekend is the Waterloo Arts Festival.  Check it out, even if you don't have a turn table any more.   And drop a few coins in the collection box for the kitties. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

One night in Cleveland and the world's your oyster.

Hi.  Just taking a short break from my vacation recap.  Last weekend I had a great evening with friends in Cleveland.  Here are a few shots from that night.  There were low clouds and haze but otherwise it was a perfect night.

The above picture is the Sam Laud squeezing down the Cuyahoga River and heading out to Lake Erie.  They say at certain points these massive haulers only have a 12 foot clearance on either side of the river bank.  I never get tired of seeing them make their way down this winding river.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Italy | Day 4 | It was our night.

It was our night.

Rob, what was your favorite part of the trip so far?

Dinner at Mediterraneo


Because it was our night.

And he was right.  It was our night.

We were making our way up the only street in town.  It was steep with hairpin turns and overlooked the sea and villas hugging the mountainside.  The road is one way and if you miss your stop you literally have to continue through the entire town and then loop back around.  There's no turning around.  It's one way in and one way out.  

As we reached the top of one particular hill a little black car zipped around the corner and there they were, the final three to complete our group.  Up until then we had been 6.  Grinning widely and arriving from Florence within minutes of our dinner reservations.  They were still flying high from dusty-road vineyard tours and endless breathtaking cathedrals.  

Sure there was singing and lively conversation and tambourines and a song where we each pretended to be a different instrument (no, really!  pe re pe re!) but the beauty of the evening was we were all there in this sweet restaurant on the side of a mountain in Italy singing like trombones and trumpets!  The circle was complete.  The restaurant and the night was ours.

The above photo is "Team Italy".  Well, minus the guy on the far right.  He was playing the guitar and singing at the restaurant.  I suspect he would have joined us though.    

The daytime was spent ferry-ing to Amalfi where we explored the Amalfi Cathedral and the city's history of paper making at Museo della Carta.  My 2 photos for the day...  

More at Italy | Day 4.

Amalfi Cathedral

Mar and P "hanging out" in Positano.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Italy | Day 3 | Behind every cloud is another cloud. -J. Garland

The clouds prevailed into Day 3 of  our trip but they make a nice backdrop for photos.  Romantic no?

It's quite hard selecting 2 photos for Day 3 because it was one of my favorite days of the trip and one of my favorite photo days too.  First, we visited the amazing ruins of Pompeii.  And even though I've been there before I am always astounded by what I see.  Everything has been preserved so well that you truly get a sense for how the Pompeians lived at that time.  This sophisticated  ancient city is pleasing organizationally as well as aesthetically. Pompeiian red is now my new favorite color and I would like a hole in my roof to allow rain water to fall elegantly into a cistern/pool in my foyer for cooking, bathing and general splashing around.  No, not really.  I don't even have a foyer.

And then, we whiled away the afternoon tasting wines and eating homemade delicacies at Sorrentino Winery. This family owned vineyard has a spectacular view of Pompeii, the Mediterranean and the Isle of Capri. I'm not sure what filled me up more the food or the view.  This place does a body and a soul good, even if it is in the shadow of touchy Mt Vesuvius.   Actually, the Vesuvian volcanic ash is said to be the secret to their rich soil and, ultimately, their award winning wines.  We were schmoozed relentlessly by our host and his family (thanks to our "angelic blonde goddess").   And we ate it (and drank it) up!

Oh yeah, we tasted 8 wines! Clouds?  What clouds?

For more of this day of Pompeiian adventure: Italy | Day 3

Friday, June 3, 2011

Italy | Day 2 | First I fell in love with the scooters and then him.

Day 2 was planned to be a quiet, "get our bearings" kind of day.  We explored Positano on foot with our  guide Christine.  She's an ex-pat (and ex-lawyer) from Australia who came to the Amalfi Coast for a vacation and essentially never left.   She fell in love with a local whose family owns a butcher shop in Positano and the rest is history.  They have a baby now too.  One of the stops on our tour was to taste local treats at his butcher shop. He watched her intently as she extolled the virtues of local meats, cheeses and sun dried tomatoes.

"We see why you stayed in Positano." Her husband is very handsome.

"First I fell in love with the scooters and then him."  She teases.  He grins and rolls his eyes.

More about Christine and her tour here: Discover Positano

Photos of Christine and her husband and more from the day: Italy | Day 2

My 2 photos for Day 2...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Italy | Day 1 | The key to a happy journey is enjoying the ride.

Gorgeous place - nine people - nine cameras (more if you count cell phones)...  How the heck were we ever going to look through everyone's pictures in a manageable amount of time?  Every few steps there were new vistas and oddities.  Geez louise!

OK, so, we needed a plan.

Editing photos is always a great challenge for any photographer.  How do you take a massive number of photos and whittle it down to a condensed set of images that puts the event or location in context without boring your audience into a deep sleep?  Lets be honest, even when the photos are spectacular we start to drift after the 9th, 16th, 20th shot of nirvana.  Snore.  Editing is a fine tool everyone should have in their camera bag.  Less is more. But don't get too skimpy 'cuz we want some meat.  Tell us a story.  (A short story.)  Show us the amazing view. (Once, not 100 times.)

Anyway, it all sounds good until someone puts an [editing] eye out.

In my infinite wisdom (not!) I suggested we all select our 20 favorite images and assemble them in one set of photos that represents our trip as a tight-knit mobile unit of travelers.  Sounds reasonable and even slick.  OK, so lets do the math.  I was on vacation for 10 days.  Roughly speaking that's 2 pictures a day.  Two pictures a day? You're kidding me right?  Whose idea was this?  I took 20 pictures every day before I brushed my teeth in the morning!

Lets just say I suck at editing.  Suck. Suck. Suck.

So, today I begin.  Here are the 2 shots I chose to represent day 1 of the trip.  This day was spent traveling from Cleveland to DC to Rome Italy.  Once in Rome we trained to Naples where we met our driver who took us to Positano via the amazing Amalfi coast.   It's hard to put it all into words but imagine staring into positively pristine beauty as you hang precariously from the edge of shear cliff.   Am I horrified, am I mesmerized?  Clearly I was mesmerfied.

For those suffering from insomnia and requiring a sleep aide: Italy | Day 1

(Oh, come on, you knew I couldn't show you just 2 pictures! LOL!)


Hotel - Positano