Writing and Blog
Blog posts and very short stories; a combination of truth and fiction.



Tomorrow, I’ll be starting August Break. It’s meant to be a rest for bloggers, in that all it requires of you is to post one picture every day for the month. For me, it will be more of an acceleration, given my lackadaisical posting schedule.

I did do Project 365 back in 2007, but, although I took a picture every day, most of those pictures never made it onto the Internet in any form. It’s probably a good thing. They were, to say the least, not spectacular, but my plan in doing Project 365 was to improve, and I think the ones I took in December were better than the ones that I took in January, so mission accomplished.

Actually, maybe in addition to the new ones I take for August Break, I will also post some of my ancient Project 365 photos. I do enjoy making things harder for myself, and it might be an interesting contrast. Unless I haven’t improved as much as I think I have. Then it will just be embarrassing…

2010-03-12 15.51.12


A curtain of golden curls reaches past his shoulders. He moves through the graveyard barefoot, careful of thistles and pinecones. The ragged hem of his wide-legged, washed-out jeans brushes the grass like a gown.

In June, he planted petunias and daisies in front of old mausoleums, the ones whose families send a check every month, get a wreath at Christmas, lilies for Easter. If he stays on, he’ll bag the fallen leaves in October, pull up the memorial flags so they’re not worn ragged by the winter winds.

In between, he walks the endless rows of gravestones, breathing in gasoline fumes and wielding the roaring power of a Stihl 27cc weed eater.

2013-03-31 11.33.41


The final gear slotted into place. The watchmaker turned minute gold screws and fastened the back snug to the casing. He saw the piece’s future: a graduation gift, treasured, lost, treasured again, left to a daughter. She weeps at her father’s grave, but that is the natural order of things.

The watchmaker smiles. He is pleased. Not all of his visions are so fortunate.

A few months ago, I went with Ag Works for a private tour of Carrie Furnace. I’m still not sure how to describe the experience. It was hot, humid, fraught with poison ivy, crumbling floors, and spiderwebs bigger than my entire torso. I loved it.

Silver Eye is doing a show for pictures taken there, so of course I’m submitting – along with half the city I’d imagine. It’s an incredibly popular subject for photos, and it’s easy to see why. It’s not just the rust, the crumbling walls, the trees growing from rooftops. There is an air of –

–brief pause while I get up to pace and try to find the word I want–

–magic. That’s the only word that comes close.

Here are the pictures I sent to Silver Eye, and if you want to submit as well, there’s more information here.






2013-06-22 11.45.43


“They keep them to scare geese away,” the old man said. He poked the plastic swan with the end of his cane, and it bobbed closer to the central column of water. Spray rained down. The wet gleam of water brought a semblance of life to its dull, painted eyes.

His grandson reached for it and caught its beak in a pudgy fist. Forty feet away, brother and sister argued by their mother’s grave.



The wind turns his hair to coarse, black streamers. His skin is deep gold, and his features are mathematically precise: flat, sweeping planes bisected by sharp cheekbones, the acute angle of his jaw, the perfect arch of his brows.

He stands up on his pedals and  coasts. Though his chest is bare to the first spots of rain, his lashes are heavy and his mouth is red, as if he has put on stage make-up to greet the world.

2013-01-29 11.49.20


The wire mesh originally protected a sapling, now long starved out by scant soil and tall, concrete shadows. Little birds slip through the holes: sparrows, finches, dark-eyed juncos. Robins are too big. Crows don’t stand a chance.

Manna falls the from the apartments above. 3B drops toast crumbs every morning. 5B shares his sunflower seeds. The dryers vent nearby in a steady, warming stream. An overhang far above keeps off the rain.

face like the moon


Her face was wide and pale, and she was wide and pale all over. The blunt fall of brown hair to her chin only emphasized it. Moon-faced is not usually a positive description, but the moon lights up the night and moves the seas from two hundred thousand miles away.

Likewise, she turned and turned with grace, steady in her orbit. Likewise, she had a dark side.

2013-06-21 21.04.00

Two nights go, I saw Saturn’s rings for the first time. Not on television. Not in a picture or a text book, or on Astronomy Pic of the Day. I saw them with my own eyes through a 13 inch telescope at the Allegheny Observatory.

It was the summer solstice. We’d gone to the observatory for a lecture, and it was still bright as day afterward, but we went up to the telescope** anyway. For a long time, as the sky went from pale blue to slate, there was nothing to see. R, who works there and shows people around on lecture nights when he’s not doing important astronomy things***, showed us the moon, which he said was too bright and gibbous to be very interesting. I have seldom known a man to be wronger in my life. The moon, gibbous or not, was amazing.

shooting for the moon

shooting for the moon

You could see mountains. You could see mountains on the moon. I know he gets to look at this stuff all the time, but holy crap, in what world is that not amazing?

We could also see the impact crater Copernicus, and in looking at pictures of it online, I can see his point re: brightness and gibbous…ness. Gibosity. Whatever. Because it was so bright, there was no shadow to define the edges of the things, and a lot of the detail was blasted away.

2013-06-21 20.50.14

this is R being wrong about how the amazing the moon is

So we looked at the totally boring gibbous moon for a while, and then he found Saturn (on a star chart! So cool!). If you looked through the finder telescope (the little white one), you could see it, just the vague shape of it and its rings. When you looked in the big one, you could not only see the rings, you could see the color striations on the planet. I am overusing italics and I don’t care. I feel like I should be putting this part in the 72pt type; that is how excited I am about it.

And THEN, he was like, all casually. “Oh, yeah, and you might be able to see one of the moons, too.” I saw one of Saturn’s moons! Possibly two! One was definitely Titan (the largest), he said, and wasn’t sure which the other one might be.

He tried to show us the point of light in the sky that was Saturn without the telescope. He could clearly see it, could point to it, tried to give us instructions on how to find it. But for the longest time, none of us could see it. When it finally slid into focus for me, I realized that it wasn’t a matter of looking at the right part of the sky, it was a matter of depth. The light was faint, and we weren’t looking out far enough.

* The Old Astronomer to his Pupil

**The 13 inch is their smallest, built in 1861. At the time, it was the third largest in the world. (Its lens was considered so valuable that it was stolen and held for ransom in 1872, which makes you wonder what their security was like back then. It’s as not as if you can tuck a 13″ chunk of glass in your pocket and stroll out of the building.)

***I have literally no idea what he does, but he clearly knows a LOT, so I’m going to assume it’s important.

2013-06-20 11.21.24


Her tightly permed curls echoed the linked metal circles of the necklace that covered most of her chest. Both were silver. She wore a white leather cap, white orthopedic shoes, and carried a pink cane printed with small, yellow flowers. The first three buttons of her shirt were undone, and the point of her chain-mail necklace touched the center of her bra.

Condensation rolled down her second beer. Outside, her white Cutlass Ciera was double parked.

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