Olympus 12mm at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Olympus 12mm at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

This is (alas!) not food. Food will definitely make its return to this here cooking blog. But in the meantime, I spent yesterday afternoon at the Philadelphia Museum of Art with a new (to me) camera lens — an Olympus 12mm f/2.0 — and I thought I’d share a few pictures.

I bought the lens for another project, and I haven’t really had time to use it very much for the past couple of weeks. So the museum — with its well-illuminated interiors and well-considered design — seemed like a perfect opportunity. And the Olympus 12mm didn’t disappoint.

MLK Day of Action, Resistance, and Empowerment

MLK Day of Action, Resistance, and Empowerment

Today, to mark Martin Luther King Day, I participated in the MLK Day of Action, Resistance, and Empowerment. It was a rally in which several thousand of us congregated outside of the Philadelphia School District headquarters and marched down Broad St. and Market St. to the park across the way from the building that houses the Liberty Bell.

The march was a continuation of the protests stemming from the murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. But it was also more than that. The triple objective — according to the leaflet Sarah brought home last week — was to end the Philadelphia police department’s stop and frisk policy, to call for better union laws and a city-wide $15/hour minimum wage, and to seek reform in a school district that is one of the worst performing, worst funded in the country.

Picking Blackberries in New Jersey

Picking Blackberries in New Jersey

I went out to Mood’s Farm in rural New Jersey with friends Linda and Keli, we spent really only a couple of hours picking, and the result — which is what you see above — is over 45 pounds of berries. That’s fifteen pounds for each of us. Or — actually — enough berries to make a pie for me, and then the rest for Linda and Keli who made several different kinds of jelly and jam (and I think liqueur), and gave me jars of preserved things in return for my efforts.

It’s a good idea, people, to have friends who are enthusiastic about canning. And it’s even better to have canning-happy friends who are always on the lookout for economical fruit, and grateful to have an extra hand in getting it. My pantry, dear readers, is stocked.

Walt Whitman, Now in 3D

There is no originality at all in this, but as part of a quick experiment, I’ve taken a stereo card from the 19th century, and turned it into an animated GIF.  I really like the effect.  It looks very much like a photo in three dimensions.  And seeing as how it’s the Fourth of July and all, the stereo card I cut up is both taken by a famous American, and of a famous American.

So without further ado:  Walt Whitman, by Matthew Brady.

Walt Whitman, Now in 3d

The file turned out to be a tiny bit large. And for that I am very, very sorry.

Buff-Crested Bustard, and Friends

No food here, alas.  But I cannot resist posting these photos from yesterday’s trip to the McNeil Avian Center at the Philadelphia Zoo.

This guy’s a buff-crested bustard, and the strangeness of his appearance is outstripped only by the strangeness of the noise he makes.

Buff-Crested Bustard

And this guy — I don’t even know. But he was awfully friendly and liked having his picture taken.

McNeil Avian Center, Philadelphia Zoo

There’s something singularly magical about a zoo experience where there are no barriers between you and the animals. Even if it is limited to just a few birds.

Spring is here!

Philadelphia’s weather report may call for one last coughing gasp of snow on Tuesday, but in my house, it’s feeling particularly vernal.  The first seedlings — cucumbers, I think — have pushed their little heads up out of the soil.  And the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are following hard on their heels.  I would never tempt fate by making a bold prediction.  But if things continue on course, the state of Sarah’s garden may signal tasty times ahead.

Spring is here! Our first seedlings of 2014

Here’s hoping. (Knock on wood.)

Fowl is Fair

The residents of the McNeil Avian Center at the Philadelphia Zoo were particularly friendly on this visit.  It is an excellent exhibit, anyhow, in which most of the birds roam free with the guests, bobbing across the walkways and peering back at cameras with a kind of frank, birdie curiosity.  But today — perhaps because it was a winter weekday and the crowds were thin — the birds seemed in a posing mood.  Here are two, snapped from no more than an arm’s length away.

Fowl is Fair: Victoria Crowned Pidgeon
Victoria Crowned Pidgeon
Fowl is Fair: Ringed Teal
Ringed Teal (this was one happy duck.)

It’s neither food nor politics, but I thought you all might enjoy them, anyway.

Dispatch from the Land of Ice and Snow

Philadelphia’s week of inclement weather has not so far proved particularly picturesque.  But it has reminded me that I have photographs from the much more beautiful ice and snow I enjoyed a few weeks back, when I was in Central Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving.  Here are two images:

Dispatch from the Land of Ice and Snow

Dispatch from the Land of Ice and Snow

The first features an indistinct Sarah, and the second puts me in mind of Snow White.

(Both are best viewed large.)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide, Part I: Mammon

Holiday Gift Guide

Chanukah is — alas — almost over. But the season of gift-giving has only just begun. As I gaze down into my crystal ball, the shape of the rest of December comes sharply into focus. I see cheerful holiday parties at work. I hear the clinking sounds of champagne toasts, shared with good friends. I smell the boozy spiciness of eggnog, sipped around the fire with family from far and near.

And above all — at all of these gatherings — I see presents.

Fall Fungus, by the Wissahickon Creek

Ever since Elizabeth and Hana each made their posts about foraging last summer, I have been unable to turn off the part of my brain that notices interesting mushrooms.  This one I found poking out of some leaves along Philadelphia’s Forbidden Drive.  I have no earthly idea whether it is edible.  But I wouldn’t.

Fall Fungus at the Wissahickon Creek