Jim – a Sad Sequel

My last post was about my friend, Jim, who didn’t like being photographed.

Jim died unexpectedly in his sleep yesterday morning.

We all say ‘unexpectedly’ about a friend’s death, but this truly was. We had lunch at our favorite coffee shop the afternoon before and had been out later that night for our usual Thursday night ‘writing workshop.’ We had a good time talking to each other and one of his favorite bartenders, Natasha.

Nothing seemed amiss. We parted happy company around 9:30. I got an email from him Friday morning at 5:20: ‘Very nice’, was all it said, referring to a couple picture I had emailed him, taken while we were out. I had taken one last picture for the series of him not liking to be photographed, not knowing, of course, that it would be the last. He had read my last post and was happy with it and, now, was truly into the small Instagram/Facebook series I had created.

2021.02.11: The Last ‘Jim Doesn’t Like Having His Picture Taken’

Jim and I have been friends for close to, if not a little longer than, four years. I think I said three years before, but I’ve found pictures dating back to 2017. We would see each other often for lunch and dinner, but over the Covid year, after my regular morning coffee shop shut down, we started meeting every day at Aux Delices. The only mornings we didn’t see each others were those days where one of us had an early call or had too late of a night out.

On those days we didn’t see each other for breakfast we would be chatting along with another friend, Nagy, throughout the day.

2020.01.21: From a recent conversation involving burritos and strippers – frankly, I don’t remember what brought those two things together.

He was good friends with my wife, Jane. My daughter, Elyse, he thought of as one of his own. We have different best friends throughout different parts of our lives and I’m glad to be able to say that he’s been my best friend these last few years.

2018.08.04: Jim, Nagy, Elyse and me

A word about this post’s ‘featured image’ – copied below. I took it this morning where Jim and I usually met for coffee. The Panama hat he gave me about two months ago from his collection of hats and baseball caps – he let me know that it was an authentic Panama hat which, actually, are not from Panama, but from Ecuador. The sunglasses came from his kitchen counter – I picked them up on my way out of his apartment yesterday. I wanted them for two reason: first, I wanted to have something of his (I know, I already have the hat, but this was something still his); second, sunglasses, are a perfect metaphor for life and friendship: they can be precious, they can protect you, they need care, and they can be lost so unexpectedly and it’s upsetting.

Jim Hates Being Photographed – That Don’t Bother Me None, Tho

2021.01.28: Jim hates having his picture taken, so we worked out a compromise

One thing that’s happened this past year has been the great reduction of my social circle. It was never big to begin with – a group of women I usually sat with for morning coffee during the week, a bunch of regulars I would see and talk to at various pubs and restaurants, a couple of guys I would have coffee with on the weekends – but now it has diminished to, essentially, 7: two people I see daily for coffee, two couples my wife and I see occasionally, and one other guy – a crazy-talented artist who drops by with paintings every once in a while, the intervals between which have increased since, after nearly a year of unemployment, he found work.

2021.01.29: Jim hates having his picture taken

One of my coffee friends is Jim. I’ve known Jim at least three years. We became friends a through mutual appreciation of alcohol – a friendship which developed over the years over our common interests in software development, politics, art, whisky, and general conversation.

2021.01.30: Jim at breakfast not having his picture taken

In a recent post I mentioned my inability to stop taking pictures. This includes pictures of people I’m hanging around with. Jim presents a problem. He doesn’t like having his picture taken – at least not candidly and with the frequency that I take them. I decided to turn this reticence into a sort of regular feature of my Instagram posts.

2021.01.30: Jim not having his picture taken during a recent writing workshop – the cork pictured is from a bottle of Brenne, a French single malt

In addition to morning coffee, we meet regularly for dinner at the couple of places we feel safe going to, and almost weekly on Thursdays for a <air quotes> writing workshop </air quotes>. The reason for the air quotes is that, actually, it’s my wife attending a writing workshop while Jim and I discover the benefits of good whisky (Scotch, mostly, but bourbons, ryes, and others are welcome).

Anyway, thought these would be fun to post here. All photos taken with my iPhone XR Rear Camera (ISO and shutter speed whatever the hell the phone thought it should be) and edited in Snapseed using a combination of filters – including ‘tune image’, ‘details’, ‘curves’, ‘vignette’, ‘brush’, and ‘vintage’ – sometimes more than once each.

2021.02.02: Attempting to avoid having his picture taken, Jim tries to blend in with my morning paper
2019.11.06: A rare unobstructed picture of Jim

Snow Bounding

Monday we had a large snowfall here in southern Connecticut – the largest in five years. By some reports we got 14 inches, by all we got no less than 12. Not a lot by some standards, but certainly more than we’ve become accustomed to here.

2021.02.01: Brookside Park, Old Greenwich, CT (Canon Rebel T2i – 27mm, f/5, 1/1000 sec, ISO 800)

Around 3PM, snow still falling heavily, wind gusting to 30 miles per-hour, I got cabin fever, bundled myself up, and went out for a walk – initially just around the property, eventually about six miles around town. Of course, I had my camera and phone for pictures.

2021.02.01: Walking up Marks Road, Riverside, CT (iPhone XR, Front Camera, 2.87mm, f/22, 1/121 sec., ISO 50)

Though the selfie above doesn’t show it, except for the occasional wind I was pretty comfortable.

2021.02.01: Skiing on Riverside Ave., Riverside, CT (iPhone XR, Rear Camera, 4.5mm, f/1.8, 1/184 sec., ISO 25)

I was happy to see I wasn’t the only person out. There were people enjoying the nearby Bruce Park and I was passed by a woman cross country skiing down Riverside Avenue.

In my editing of these pictures – all on Snapseed after transferring them to my iPad – I tried to give them a winter postcard effect through the combination of a number of different filters, sometimes using the same ones more than once.

I may have mentioned before that, in addition to Snapseed, I use GIMP on my desk- or laptop for editing as well, but I must say I was surprised (and continue to be surprised) by the variety of effects I can get out of playing around with so simple a tool as Snapseed, which I once dismissed as a silly phone app when my daughter first recommended it. But, then again, my daughter, recommended it and she knows what’s what, so I had to give it a try.

I hope you’ll enjoy these efforts as much as I enjoyed both the walk, taking the pictures, and the editing.

2021.02.01: Swamp Vue, Riverside Avenue, Riverside, CT (iPhone XR Rear Camera, 4.5mm, f/1.8, 1/217 sec, ISO 25)
2021.02.01: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Riverside Avenue, Riverside, CT (iPhone XR Rear Camera, 4.5mm, f/1.8, 1/98 sec, ISO 25)
2021.02.01: Old Farm Structure, Riverside, CT (iPhone XR Rear Camera, 4.5mm, f/1.8, 1/244 sec, ISO 25)
2021.02.01: Old Farm Structure, Riverside, CT (Canon Rebel T2i, 55mm, f/6.5, 1/100 sec, ISO 100)
2021.02.01: Ada’s Kitchen and Coffee, Riverside, CT (iPhone XR Rear Camera, 4.5mm, f/1.8, 1/320 sec, ISO 25) [SIDE NOTE/FUN FACT: Ada’s was at one time Riverside, Connecticut’s first Post Office. It eventually became a candy store run by Ada Cantavaro until her death at the age of 88, a very popular establishment with the kids attending the near-by elementary and middle schools. After her death, her family restored it and opened a deli in this location, keeping her name.]
2021.02.01: 127 Winters and Counting, 98 Riverside Ave., built 1894 (iPhone XR Rear Camera, 4.5mm, f/1.8, 1/235 sec, ISO 25)

Shooting While Doing Shots

2021.01.31: Nighthawks at the Wine Bar [a nod to both Edward Hopper & Tom Waits] (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 800)

Perhaps its something I need to see someone about, but I can’t seem to stop myself from taking pictures. Everywhere I go, I look at people and things from the perspective of whether or not I could make a good picture of them. I’ll be in the middle of a conversation, something will catch my eye and I’ll reach for the camera; or walking with someone, they might suddenly find me half a block behind taking pictures. If I don’t have one of my cameras with me, I’ll at least have my phone. On those rare days I have neither, It must be funny to see me frantically patting myself down and cursing.

2021.01.25: Stool Samples (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/40 sec, ISO 320)

Yesterday afternoon my wife and I met a friend for an early dinner at a local wine bar & salumeria – we go early because the bar will be mostly empty, the friend and I wound up staying later though.

It’s one of my favorite places to go because of its interior design: marble bar, red leather barstools and booths, exposed steel beams, an interesting sunlight, and creative lighting.

2019.11.06 – The Skylight (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 250)
2021.01.31: The Bar (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/120 sec, ISO 1250)

For me, the place is so picturesque I find it hard to concentrate on my drinking – but I manage mostly because the phone doesn’t need me to play with aperture or shutter and film speed. Sure that takes some of the creativity out of it, but I make up for that in the editing later.

[Photos taken at Lugano, Old Greenwich, CT]

2021.01.31: Boulevard of Broken Drams (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 200)
2021.01.17: Tools of the Trade (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 640)
2021.01.31: Light and Colours (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 640)
2021.01.31: Camera Shy (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 400)
2020.01.25: End of an Evening (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/20 sec, ISO 640)

What Do You Do When it’s Too Cold to Go Out to Shoot?

At 29°F, I thought yesterday was cold. I was wrong, this morning I woke up to 14°and the promise of a high of 19. So, yesterday I was too much of a wimp, but today I’m too pragmatic to go walking around taking pictures. (I know, I know: 19 is practically balmy in certain parts of the world during winter, but if I don’t need to be out there…)

Still, the need to take pictures won’t go away simply because I can’t get out, so I carry my camera around with me when I go for coffee, across the street to get lunch or to meet a friend in a warm bar for a drink (we can still do that here, in Connecticut, for now). If the camera’s forgotten, there’s the phone.

2021.01.28: Aux Delices (iPhone XR, back camera 4.25mm f/1.8, 1/60 sec)

Yesterday morning, finding myself alone in the upstairs dining area of my local coffee stop, I found it a great opportunity to take a few indoor shots.

One thing I’m always curious about is how light affects a picture taken with the same settings – I often see examples of these in photography magazines, but to me it seems obvious that, often, they use the same photograph edited to simulate the difference in lighting or settings. The two pictures below are actually different, taken with my camera on manual, and using the same settings: 18mm lens, f/22, 6.0 second exposure, ISO 200.

2021.01.28: Lights On – Unedited (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/22, 6.0 sec, ISO 200)
2021.01.28: Lights Off – Unedited (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/22, 6.0 sec, ISO 200)

I usually like to play around with my pictures using either Snapseed (on my iPad) or GIMP (on the desktop or MacBook). Don’t know why… to me, the picture never seems complete until I’ve done something to it, whether to enhance the colors, the texture or just go to town messing with it using all sorts of filters and effects.

2021.01.28: Lights Off, Edited (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/22, 6.0 sec, ISO 200)

It’s the rare picture I post on Instagram or ViewBug that hasn’t had something done to it.

2021.01.28: Reading Material (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/30 sec, ISO 400)
2021.01.28: Table Leg (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/30 sec, ISO 2500)

What looks like dust on and around the lens in the images below is actually fallout from my croissant. A good reminder to keep my lens cap on while eating.

2021.01.28: Camera at Rest (iPhone XR, Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 320)
2021.01.28: Camera at Rest (iPhone XR, Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/24 sec, ISO 640)

Morning at Greenwich Point

2021.01.27: Looking East at the Long Island Sound from Tod’s Point beach (Canon Rebel T2i, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/30 s, ISO 200)

Greenwich Point is it’s official name, but almost everyone I know calls it Tod’s Point or, simply, Tod’s. Through the years it has been called by several names:

  • Prior to 1640 it was known as Monakawaye.
  • Some time after 1640 it became Elizabeth’s Neck – that name coming from Elizabeth Feaks one of the first settlers in Greenwich and who, ‘under the first Indian deed,’ became a part owner of the property.
  • Old Greenwich Point was the next name it had.
  • In the 1880’s and 90’s a New York banker started buying land plots on the point until he, basically, owned it all and it became known as Tod’s Point or, as Tod called his residence at the point, ‘Innis Arden’ (not the Innis Arden we are familiar with today in Greenwich).
  • In 1945 the Town of Greenwich bought the property and changed the name to Greenwich Point.

It’s a large property (about 140 acres); not as varied in the number of walking trails as, say, the smaller Pomerance; but still rich in things to see and do. There are:

  • the beach
  • remnants of the old Innis Arden estate
  • beautiful gardens maintained by the Garden Club of Old Greenwich
  • wildlife: deer, egrets, cormorants, seagulls, (pesky) Canadian geese, and horseshoe crabs come on shore on the beaches (unfortunately many die on the rocks, too)

On most days you can see Manhattan from the Point; on clear days (and evenings) that view is amazing!

The best thing about the point: the sunrises! Almost everyone from Greenwich with an Instagram account has posted at least one picture taken of the sunrise from Tod’s Point. Scroll through mine and you’ll find a period two summers ago when there were at least three almost every day

2021.01.27: Snow on the Beach at Tod’s Point (Canon Rebel T2i, 18mm, f/16, 30.0 s, ISO 200)

I took a walk there this morning to see what the beach would look like after last night’s snow. I wanted to get there before sunrise (7:09 today), though not expecting much from it because of the clouds. I was fortunate that the skies cleared up enough to get a few decent pictures, though.

2021.01.27: Fire, Water and Snow – Rising Sun at Greenwich Point (iPhoneXR, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/117s, ISO 100)

Because of the shoes I wore, I didn’t do much more than walk along the shore this morning experimenting with different shutter speeds and playing around.

2021.01.27: Spume at long exposure (Canon Rebel T2i, 24mm, f/16, 10.0 s, ISO 200)
2021.01.27: Spume via iPhone (iPhoneXR, 24mm, f/1.8, 1/29s, ISO 800)

2021.01.27: The Pavilion at Tod’s Point (Canon Rebel T2i, 18mm, f/16, 30.0 s, ISO 200)
2021.01.27: Took an 8 second exposure in which I ran in front of the lease and stood there for about 4 (Canon Rebel T2i, 24mm, f/24, 8.0 s, ISO 200)
1925 – J. Kennedy Tod from The Quarterly Magazine; July, 1925 (Vol. XIX, No. 4); published by the Columbia University-Presbyterian Hospital Alumnae Association

SIDE NOTE/FUN FACT: in 1906 Mr. & Mrs. Tod began offering the use of Innis Arden Cottage and a location on the property called ‘the Camp’ for the use of nurses from Columbia/Presbyterian as a weekend/summer getaway for a fee of $1.00 paid to the school. The practice continued well after his death in 1925 until at least the late 30s. The alumnae publication, The Quarterly Magazine, often published small pieces by some of those nurses relating their experiences at Innis Arden, including the time they tried to sing a song of thanks to Mr. Tod outside his office. Tod, being a very private man, did not open the door.

Pomerance Reserve, Cos Cob, Connecticut

2021.01.26: Cos Cob Pond, Pomerance Reserve

Originally the property of Ernest Seton, one of the founding pioneers of the Boy Scouts of America, the Town of Greenwich (Connecticut, USA) acquired this 100+ acre property in 2002 and developed it into a public park with a handful of trails through woods and ruins of the old mansion and buildings. It is almost seamlessly connected to the Montgomery Pinetum, adding another 60+ acres of paths.

2021.01.26: Morning sky on the trail at Pomerance Reserve

Except for a few signs pointing to either Orchard Street (east) or the Montgomery Pinetum (west) scattered here and there, one could easily get lost their first couple of times wandering these trails which criss-cross each other without much else in the way of guidance – I did my first time out and, then, once again showing the place to my niece when I thought I knew every path. Quite embarrassing.

2020.12.27: Wood Pecker, Pomerance Reserve, Cos Cob, CT

What I love about this place:

  • It’s less than two miles from home so, in the Spring through Fall I often walk here,
  • It’s set off far enough from the busy part of town so that, even on the periphery of the park, mostly what you hear are birds, the wind and running water,
  • There are neat ruins of the old mansion and other structures [history buffs: Barbara W. Tuchman wrote The Guns of August while living here! I read this book in my late teens – I didn’t read very much of anything in those days, so it brought forth a sweet memory to see that fact noted on one of the plaques on the standing outer wall shown below]
2020.12.27: Ruins of the old mansion, called ‘Wyndygoul’
2020.12.17: Bridge connecting Wyndygoul to another part of the property

More recently I’ve been taking my camera for a walk there to take long-exposure photos of the water running through the brooks and off of Cos Cob Pond. I’ve only recently started taking pictures like this so, though I love the results so far, I know I’ve a bit to learn about setting the right shutter speed, aperture and selecting the best ISO setting (that digital cameras have an ISO setting is still baffling to me, but I understand it).

Below are a few I took today & one from earlier this month (you can find more on my insta (cheap plug): https://www.instagram.com/joearf). Enjoy and let me know what you think – very open to and appreciative of constructive criticism and tips.

2021.01.02: Runoff from Cos Cob Pond, Pomerance Reserve
2021.01.26: Ice, Nature’s Jewelry. Pomerance Reserve, Cos Cob, CT
2021.01.26: Running Water, Pomerance Reserve
2021.01.26: Running Water, Pomerance Reserve

Postcards from Brooklyn

2021.01.24: Anchorage Place, near Plymouth Street

Saturday my daughter passed along an invitation from her boyfriend for me to come down to Brooklyn and ‘hang out.’ She said he was eager to show off his new white Negroni recipe. If you keep reading you’ll find neither the recipe nor any pictures of the drink here, but I will tell you that it was delicious, garnished with cumquats – three stuck onto a toothpick, as like olives in a martini – which I enjoyed eating during and after the drink was finished.

Recently, I had purchased a Joby TelePod tripod/selfie stick that came with a Bluetooth shutter release – I call it ‘the button.’ This gave me an idea: I prepared for the drive by rigging a cheap (ultra cheap!) mount for my phone on the rearview mirror using two purple rubber bands from the super market that had held together bundles of asparagus. I opened the camera app and got on the road.

I got a little push-button happy and took something like 140 pictures on the way down, another 200 on the way back. I edited and used 24 of them, posted them on instagram (https://www.instagram.com/joearf) and deleted the rest (well, not entirely – they’re all on my desktop hard drive where they’re automatically downloaded to from iCloud)

After driving around for a while looking for a free space, I parked in a garage on Front Street. As I was a little early, I decided to take my camera for a walk.

I tried to give these an old postcard look.

Most pictures shown here were taken with my Canon T2i (a couple with my iPhone) and edited with Snapseed.

2021.01.24: Brooklyn Queens Expressway (love the near, modern, building on the right though the older, farther one’s pretty cool, too)
2021.01.24: BQE, Exit 28, looking at the Brooklyn Bridge
2021.01.24: Anchorage Place, looking south from Plymouth Street
2021.01.24: Corner of Plymouth Street and Anchorage Place
2021.01.24: A view of the Brooklyn Bridge from Main Street Park
2021.01.24: The Manhattan Bridge
2021.01.24: Pedestrian Traffic on Water Street (outside Butler)


Yesterday I saw one of those clickbait posts promising to shock me with what 10 kids said about what love means. Decided to put something like that together for one of my rare text posts:We asked ten singers to tell us how they feel about love. Their answers will shock (SHOCK!) you.’ and here’s what you get (without the ads):

  1. J. Geils: It’s messy. You can’t hide from it and, when it finds you, you’re going to cry. [source: ‘Love Stinks’]
  2. Englebert Humperdink: You know that flower that only grows in the early spring? It’s a rose, I think… yeah, isn’t it a splendored thing? To me, that’s love. [source: ‘Love is a Many Splendored Thing’]
  3. The Captain (and Tennille): Someday your loos will be gone and when that day comes, love will be the glue that continues to bind us. [source: ‘Love Will Keep Us Together’]
  4. The Beatles (all of them): it’s really all you need, love is. You can’t buy it, which is why we don’t care too much for money, though we were rolling in the stuff for some time (those of us who aren’t rolling in our graves still are) [source: ‘All You Need is Love’, and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’]
  5. Dean Martin: Love, or as I like to call it, amore, is that feeling you get when the moon comes into sight like a very large pizza – like the ones you get at Sal’s in New Haven [source: ‘That’s Amore’]
  6. Foreigner: We really don’t know. Give us a chance to think about it and we’ll get back to you. Or… maybe you could show me? [source: ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’]
  7. Carlton Carpenter & Debbie Reynolds: Aba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab – or at least that’s what we heard a monkey once say to a chimp. [source: ‘Aba Daba Honeymoon’]
  8. Franky Lymon: Oooh wah, oooh wah! It’s a losing game, I tell ya. It’s a cryin’ shame, I tell ya. It’s for suckers. [source: ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love’]
  9. Stacy Lattisaw: To Franky’s point above, to be loved and fooled is a crying shame! You know, I once found love on a bi-directional thoroughfare, but it flew out the window just as I got on the expressway. [source: ‘Love on a Two-Way Street’]
  10. Lady Gaga & Tony Bennet: Sometimes it’s happy, sometimes it’s sad, sometimes its quiet, sometimes it’s mad. You know, sometimes tearful, sometimes gay (in both senses of the word), sometimes… eh, you get it, but – BUT! – it’s always beautiful [source: ‘But Beautiful’]

Be Careful What You Wish For – I Wasn’t

This morning, as I was helping my wife unpack the groceries and putting the bags they came in aside for later folding, I started to think about Rod Serling and William Sydney Porter (O. Henry), both of whom wrote stories about people who made wishes which came true, but with unexpected, sometimes disastrous, consequences. And I remembered that sometime in October, not long after Connecticut had banned them, I wished that stores still gave out plastic bags. I was down to my last few and they were handy for the small garbage cans I have all over the house and to take out the recycling. I felt a little bit anxious knowing that I would soon be out.

Now, it’s the beginning of May, well into the COVID-19 nuttiness. Most supermarkets discourage the use of personal pages and many started handing out plastic again. My wish has come true: I’ve got a closet full of them. And, I’m wondering: did I cause COVID-19 by wishing for plastic bags again?