Sunday, February 14, 2010

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - 02/14/10

It's Sunday (or really late Saturday evening) and therefore it's time to take an off-TV topic look back at the past week in words and photographs I've taken. I've been off work for my staycation and I certainly chose a good week to take off. Part of the reason I wanted the week is because my non-replaced knee has been bothering me. I figured, since I have a number of weeks of paid vacation time, one less week of being out and about in the winter weather would be nice.

Be warned -- both the photos and words are going to be rather random. I don't know why. I guess I'm in a random kind of mood! I'm also posting this a bit early as I'm well awake now and plan on sleeping in come morning.

Boy, did we get winter weather! I posted a few updates (and photos) during the week from our big snowstorm Tuesday night through Wednesday. I also mentioned I was expecting a package from on Wednesday. The web tracking listed it as delayed. So, there I was on Wednesday morning, drinking hot chocolate and watching the snow come down while in my robe and fuzzy slippers. My phone rang. Hmmm ... no one there. Then someone knocked on the door. UPS! Apparently someone let him in just after he rang my intercom phone-doohickey thing (which I still don't really know how to work). An hour later, I received an apology email from Amazon telling me that my package delivery will be delayed due to the weather conditions. Um. Okay.

I still have no clue what's going on with the neighbors in the apartment next door. I believe it's supposed to be rented to a single mother with a toddler and a young girl. But there's traffic in and out into all hours of the day and night, people yelling, people partying, kids jumping, adults jumping, bunches of kids running in the hall, thumping, people outside beeping horns and yelling ... riff-raff. I've decided, like in the old Manfred Mann song, "My Name is Jack," that it could be a modern day version of the Greta Garbo Home for Wayward Boys and Girls -- "It's lots of fun and I love to run up and down the stairs. I make as much noise as I want and no one ever cares!" (Video below)

I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to get done this past week. I got lazy. I had wanted to tear my crashed computer apart and see if I could fix it as well as finally fixing the computer before that. I didn't. I had wanted to clean out all my closets and get spring cleaning done. Well, it's winter. So I didn't do that either. What I did do is watch DVDs, read, play with the cat, watch television, download my monthly Rhapsody music allotment, nap, cook, bake ... and goof off!

Much like two movies I watched this week -- my ol' Alfred Hitchcock favorite Rear Window and its new age counterpart Disturbia -- I spent a lot of time looking out my window. Instead of killers living in the house next door, I have the women in business suits who drive luxury cars. I don't see much action there. The real action is in the trees. Yep, I peep in on the lives of squirrels, hawks, bluejays, crows, sparrows of some sort, and the latest ... woodpeckers. I enjoy nature. That doesn't mean I like it in my living room. But outside, it's pure entertainment!

I also went through some of my CDs of older photos I've taken since I first went digital (camera-wise) in 2003. I had some other things scanned and it was like a blast from the past. Thankfully I put the images on CD as they're captive in my two sick 'puters otherwise. I'm sharing a few of those in addition to this week's photos. Speaking of which, let's get it on (clicking on an image will open it larger in a new window). OH! And don't forget to come back later tonight for The Amazing Race season premiere blog party!

"I must rest. My work here is done."

Huh? Why is Vincent sleepy? What was he working on?

No (fire) escape from the snow.

I went out as the snow was still coming down heavy on Wednesday evening. Using the flash electrified the flakes falling and, many decades ago, it would make a hippie say, "Groovy, man." While the flash makes flakes look like bubbles in the photos, in person they're more like thousands of little lightning dots.

Da hood in da snow in New Jersey

Looking at the Richmond Towers buildings on East Front Street while under a blizzard warning. The snow was sticking to everything, including power lines. I heard of many cable, phone, and a few electrical wires coming down. But my power stayed on. My Internet itself went a bit kerflooey for a few hours on Wednesday, but cable television and power remained. Two out of three ain't bad.

I'm a voyeur

Yep, I'm watching both the squirrels nest and the red-bellied woodpecker above it. I had to look up the woodpecker. One would think it's a red-headed woodpecker, but it's really a red-bellied woodpecker. But that's very red head anyway! A pair of them have been around for the latter part of the week since most of the snow has blown off the branches.

I also watched a hawk earlier this week, but the photos didn't turn out so well. He remained motionless for a good twenty minutes, then dove to the ground out of sight.

Say it ain't snow!

How come Berckman Street (Plainfield, NJ) had these up and was thoroughly plowed while the more main East Front Street still has snowbirds? East Front tends to be one of the first plowed as it's a county road. But right now it's worse than most of the city-plowed side streets. Supposedly when we get over six inches of snow, all the cars must be removed. It's still a mess.

STOP in the name of snow

Looking up East Second Street from the corner of Berckman Street in Plainfield. Those crosswalks are a killer.

The day after

Walking up East Front Steet in Plainfield. Like several of these photos, I made the background black and white, "posterized" it a bit, and left something (or someone) in color and as photographed.

Live Maryland Crabs

I used the same photo editing effects on this shot taken the day before the snowstorm. Downtown Plainfield, East Second Street outside of Pete's Fish Market.

Christian's Snowman

As featured in an entry earlier this week, this is upstairs neighbor Christian's snowman. Alas, someone (probably from the Plainfield Greta Garbo Home for Wayward Boys and Girls) killed it by the next day. It was a great snowman, almost four feet tall.

In the early morning snow

That light is often on at all hours in the house of women in business suits who drive luxury cars. But I can't watch for a murder because if I can see them, they can see me. I usually stick to watching the action on the trees.

East Front Street is snowed in

I'm jumping about a bit time-wise here. This is back to Wednesday evening when I ventured out -- no flash used. You can tell how windy it was by the snow on the sides of trees and poles. But it never did actually reach real blizzard conditions.

Backlighted snow

Looking out to the street from my driveway/parking lot.

Third bird from left: "But I don't WANT to be a soldier!"
Second bird: "Just march!"

I tell you ... they're plotting. We need to be ready!

The Strand Theater marquee

This is one of my older shots I took off the CDs this week. I took this in 2004 before the city took down the marquee as it was "dangerous." East Front Street, Plainfield.

Frear's newspaper advertisement

Okay, you might wonder why I'm posting this. This was one of my scans on the CDs. Frear's Troy Cash Bazaar, otherwise known as Frear's Department Store, was a granddaddy of the modern department stores, carrying several departments under one roof. Located in Troy, New York, the store dated back to the 1800s. But why do I have a Frear's ad from the early 1950s scanned and now posted here? Well, I was born in Troy. My mother was a commercial artist for Frear's. She drew the images in the ad.

The original sketch for the ad

This is from my mother's scrapbook, her initial concept for the newspaper advertisement you saw in the previous image. The sketches are holding up much better than the newspaper page.

If I could talk to the animals

I think I might have posted this one before. But I saw it on CD and fell in love with Lil Mama the raccoon all over again. She was a buddy of mine pre-digital camera. This shot was taken holding my right hand as far away as I could. She was standing on her hind feet. She was a wild raccoon, but we had a relationship built over a few years. She would come when I called and even bring her babies around. This was in Connecticut some years before raccoon rabies hit the state.

Bats in my belfry

Sigh. I miss the bats in Bridgewater. The white-nose syndrome has so decimated the population that it's sad. No, I don't want these little guys flying around my apartment. But bats are really beneficial animals and, in their own way, they're kind of cute. This one is sleeping away, having chosen a spot he probably thought was dark. I was able to get pretty close with the camera and didn't even wake him up. Another photo taken a while ago and re-discovered while looking at my photo CDs.

Under Penn

I hoped, weather permitting, to take a photo stomp in the city this week. As you know, the weather was more forbidding than permitting. But when I found this older photo I took on CD, I couldn't resist "posterizing" it a bit, black and whiting it a bit and having fun with it.

The owl right-side up

D'oh. I didn't realize when I posted the photo of the upside-down owl on Watchung Avenue in Plainfield last week that I took a photo of the same owl right-side up back in 2004! And, I researched. The purpose of the owl is to deter pigeons. Well, that works really well, doesn't it?

What's that, Vincent? You hear a mouse?

I have to confess. I've been teasing my cat. I know he caught a mouse in my apartment back in December. But I've been telling him he reminds me of Murray the dog in Mad About You -- "Murray, go get that mouse!" -- when there was no mouse to get and Murray only thought there was a mouse.

I have baseboard heat in each room. Vincent spends at least an hour a day staring at the one in the kitchen. Now, it sometimes makes little ticking noises (when the landlord pays the bill, anyway). But I don't think it's where the other mouse (nor the one Teaser got three years ago) came from. Why would a mouse be in the radiator? Isn't it too hot? I have no traces of mice anywhere in the apartment, no droppings, no sightings, no food tampering.

But Vincent obviously knows better than I. (Beware, the following images are a bit graphic.)

I TOLD you there was a mouse!

On Tuesday afternoon, I was in the living room. Vincent was out in the kitchen staring at the radiator. All of a sudden ... CRASH! I hear Vincent crash into the metal of the baseboard heat. He comes running into the living room with ... a MOUSE. Eek. He'd throw it in the air, it would run. He'd catch it and throw it again. I would duck. But I did grab my camera. The action was a bit too fast and furious and most of the photos were just blurs.

"Stop playing with him and just kill it, please!" I don't want a live mouse in here, nor do I want to have to kill a mouse. But it really can't be in here. Mice can only be in here in a cage. While I like animals (and mice can be cute), there's just no place for one in my apartment.

You are NOT taking away my play toy!

Yes, I feel a bit sad for the mouse. But he really chose the wrong apartment. Apparently they're in the walls and there must be an opening big enough behind the baseboard heat. I really haven't heard any noises in the walls, but Vincent did. No mouse will ever make it a foot in here. Vincent sits there in wait ... a lot. I feel sorry for anyone in my building who doesn't have a cat. However, I'm so thankful for Vincent and he seems to really have fun (even though a mouse has to die). He's staring at the radiator as I type this.

He's dead, Jim.

A moment of silence, please.

And let's not have Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom inside my apartment again, please.


Delee said...

Vincent and his mouse is EEK! Aren't you glad you have him? Mice can enter through the smallest of holes-along the pipes to your baseboard are prime spots.

The picture of the backlighted trees and many others are beautiful.

The picture of Vincent should be titled "A Study in White".

Maybe your neighbor is running a daycare...would that be allowed in your building?

All in all your staycation was as it should be restful. Cleaning closets and other things does not fit into that category!

YEAH AR tonight!!!

Delee said...

OOPS Happy Valentine's Day to all of Jackie's friends! Our present is coming tonight with AR!!!

Jackie said...

Yes, I'm very thankful for Vincent. I had no clue that he's an excellent mouser. I didn't know I needed a mouser! The adoption agreement I signed said I wouldn't use him as a mouser. But he made the decision, not me!

As for a daycare, it's not allowed. My freelance writing gig is just about as much of a business that can be run in the building. Plus, I think the neighbor next door is Section 8, receiving government monies as no one seems to work or have a job there. Taking in kids for pay would be a definite no-no if that's the case.

joy n said...

Lazy is what vacations are supposed to be about in my book.

That first shot of Vincent shows his contentment at home. Second shows that hunting instinct in full force. I'll bet he was very proud of himself for catching his prey.

Your mom is (was?) very talented. Your artistic side may come from her.

The pictures were wonderful. Loved the raccoon, the bat and especially that tree in the sunrise (or sunset).

Poor Christian's snowman. Hope he goes out and builds a bigger, stronger one.

Hope that your neighbors and the weather calm down soon.

BTW, what did you do with the mouse?

Sally said...

Vincent deserved the nap he's taking in the first photo--it must take a lot of energy to be a vigilant watch cat, protecting his lady and his kingdom from nasty little intruders!

I enjoyed your random photos and comments. Some random reactions: Christian made a very happy snowman--well done! Is that snow in the nest below the woodpecker, or do the squirrels have a secret stash of cotton batting? Loved your comment about the marching soldier birds. Your Mom's sketches are wonderful! Do you draw or paint (as well as writing and taking photos which you turn into artwork)?

I really like the photo of the house where the women in business suits live, and the results of your posterizing, etc., of the "Under Penn" picture.

Jackie said...

Joy - That's was; she died back in the 70s. As for the mouse ... dinner! Heehee. No. One good thing about large apartment buildings is that trash can go out in the dumpster any day. I made a trip out there shortly after his untimely demise.

Sally - That's snow. We still have bunches on branches and squirrels nests. I used to draw a lot, but haven't in years. I've contemplated painting but never actually bought the things I'd need to give it a shot.

Becky said...

Wonderful pictures -- as usual. I think that Vincent was plotting on how to catch that mouse!

Sydney said...

Gee, so many I want to comment on but by thte time the comment page comes up -- woosh it's gone.

first of all, I wish I had your talent for captions.

Secondly, loved the first pic of Vincent. I live to see pics of him.

The best pic... STOP in the name of snow. How did you catch that person walking there.. and with the foot up just so. PERFECTION. Kudos to your timing.

And the squirrels nest -- piled high with snow on the "roof" when the branches around are bare. Poor little things. Thank you for that pic!!! ;-)

And amazing that you got mouse pics!!!

NC in GA said...

So many wonderful photos! My favorite was backlighted snow. Your mother's sketches - they were great. And last but not least, your great protector - Vincent! His pupils were huge in the photo before he caught the mouse. He knew something was there! I don't like the thought of killing a mouse, but if one is inside my home roaming free, he's got to go - one way or another! Have a great week Jackie and Vincent!

meb said...

Jackie I'm so impressed with your mother's art work and to know she sketched for an actual department store who used it in an ad. I love hearing these kinds of things. She was very talented.

Vincent takes the prize. He's quite a mouser.

Love all your pictures, but especially the one of Vincent sleeping. He was can tell, from catching the mouse.

Lars Eller said...

Thanks for sharing your photo's, I enjoy reading That was the week it was.
Vincent is one lucky fella,
this might sound strange but I have never seen mice during the winter, well until now.
Any sightings of Roofus?

Thanks Jackie