I’ve been wanting to post more often (again) here for months, but then when I make the time to sit down I have little to say or show you. Today I decided I just needed to do it: to share the recent stuff without thinking too much about it and talking myself out of it because the pictures aren’t my best work, or I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say. I never thought about those things when I started this blog (1,000+ posts and seven years ago – what?!), and somewhere along the line I became overly concerned about whether my pictures were perfect or not…which led to posting fewer photos…which led to taking fewer photos…which led to a complete hiatus. I miss this blog, and it’s time to get over my need for perfection and just post, so here we go!

Jamaica Pond

One of my running peeps, Ed, emailed me recently after hearing that I was into photography. He proposed that we try to get out on some photography play dates. This was especially appealing not just because I think Ed is pretty rad, but because he runs much faster than me so when we “run together” there is actually no “together” about the experience and I was pretty sure we might actually get to chat while we take photos. When I saw that the Boston Parks Department does a series of events periodically called Pics in the Parks, I thought that sounded like a very nice photo play date. Lucky for me, Ed was very agreeable! Unlucky for both of us, the weather wasn’t very agreeable. I can’t remember exactly what the forecast was, but it was something like temps in the teens and windchill in the low single digits, light snow, and a heavy wind warning.

You didn’t think that would stop us, did you? We donned our snow pants and jackets and hats and gloves, and off we went! It was COLD. The wind was insane. Snow wasn’t falling so much as it was flying into our faces so hard that it felt like it was cutting our cheeks. But we weren’t the only crazies out there! A handful of other folks showed up for the Pics in the Park event, there were at least a dozen runners out (some in shorts!), and there were a few folks out walking their very happy dogs.

Happiest dog in the world!

Despite the weather (maybe even a little bit because of the weather), it was a good morning. I say so often how much I hate the cold and the winter and blah blah blah…but I absolutely love the snow. It’s what makes suffering through the cold, windy winters here worth it – waking up on a weekend morning, bundling up and going out for an adventure in the snow (preferably with a hot beverage in hand). It’s even more worth it when it gives me the chance to spend a snowy morning with someone fun while rediscovering a hobby I love.

You can check out the rest of my photos from the day on Flickr.

Number 5: Attend the Forest Hills Lantern Festival

7.14.2011 Lantern Festival 10

We haven’t lived in Jamaica Plain for four years now, but that doesn’t stop it from feeling like home every time I am there. It helps that we still have a lot of friends in JP and the neighboring Roslindale, so there are always familiar faces as well as familiar places! JP is a neighborhood with a very distinct community and feeling, and the (13th Annual) Lantern Festival was 100% JP: yuppie same-sex couples with their adorable babies who were adopted from third world nations, hipsters who arrived by bike and were drinking two buck chuck with their picnics, hippies who were trying to make connections to grow their non-profit organization, and artists galore. Oh! And one older woman walking around in her bathing suit. Don’t you wear only a bathing suit on a cool summer evening to an event in a cemetery?

I digress. My point is that wandering around the Lantern Festival is an awesome opportunity to see every demographic that lives in JP in one fell swoop. Also an awesome opportunity to enjoy a picnic (lesson learned: the Lantern Festival is made for indulging in an elaborate picnic) and good company.

Lantern Festival Mosaic

Aside from being JP at it’s awesomest, the Lantern Festival was born out of the Japanese Bon Festival – it is a celebration to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors, when a door opens to send messages to the deceased.

The top right picture above is my lantern just after I launched it. Almost a year ago now, a classmate and friend from college, Neil, was killed long before his time should have been up. His smile lit up the world around him, and his hugs are missed by more people than you count. The first day I met Neil was the 4th of July in 1997, and after the fireworks we waited in the sweltering DC humidity to get into Union Station and onto the Metro. Eventually, Neil, a few other new friends, and I ended up wading in the Columbus Fountain to cool off while we fought the crowd. Neil and I “swam” in more than a few other fountains together in DC over the next four years, and it was only fitting that I honor him by launching a lantern with his name on it to “swim” a pond.

The other side of my lantern had the name of another friend lost recently – again, far too soon. I met Stephanie because she is the most talented massage therapist I have ever come across and I spent an hour with her every month for years, chatting about friends, relationships, and our love of dogs. She and I exchanged emails on and off over the last few years, since my migraines subsided and I no longer needed monthly massages to help keep them at bay. I introduced at least half a dozen friends to Stephanie’s magic, healing hands, and her sincere, caring, and gentle personality. Needless to say, we were shocked and devastated when we learned recently that she had passed away. It sounds ridiculous to explain how the loss of my massage therapist has affected me so strongly, but it is a testament to what an amazing person and friend she was.

The fourth side of my lantern had the names of more family and friends, and the calligraphy I chose means love (supposedly. I don’t know Japanese – it could mean “pork fried rice” for all I know) – the one message I’d send every person whose name was on my lantern. You are loved!

When I put this item on my life list (and consequently this summer’s to do list), I hadn’t imagined the emotional impact it would have. I had heard about the event for years and seen photos but had never actually read about the origins of the event or it’s meaning. I didn’t expect to spend the evening missing so many people and reliving so many happy memories while I “decorated” my lantern and then later watched it float in the pond. Truth be told, there is no way I would rather honor and celebrate my friends and family who have passed away, and I can only hope that the Japanese Buddhist beliefs are right and that all of those remembered on my lantern received my message loud and clear.

Just in case they didn’t, I just might make the Lantern Festival and annual tradition.

PS – you can see more photos from the festival, including one of my launching my lantern while I try not to drop my own camera into the pond, on the Boston Arts Festival page on facebook)


More holiday decor – this time from the storefront for Boomerangs in Jamaica Plain.


Today is a very big day around here! SB and I walked 6.25ish miles yesterday and 11.25ish miles today, along the Emerald Necklace. In honor of the first weekend that I’ve stuck with the suggested training schedule, I started updating my training blog for this year! Please head over there and read about today’s walk…and see some more photos (which are probably prettier than this one). This woman was at the Arnold Arboretum painting pictures of the magnolias across the path (of which there are pictures on my training blog). I’ll be updating there much more regularly, so keep your eyes on it. And of course if you want to donate, head to my fundraising page!

In other big news – I’ve caught up on a lot of posts here as well, so here they are:

I will try not to fall so far behind again.