Southington Landscape in Transition

The Southington portion of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail is actively undergoing change. The”Rails to Trails” pathway is 4.1 miles in length and spans distance between the Cheshire/Southington town line north to Hart Street in Southington.

Asbestos was removed from Ideal Forging at High and  Center Streets May 4, 2015. According to the Record-Journal report, Weston Solutions Inc., supervised the initial 2013 cleanup when the bulk of hazardous materials such as oils, manufacturing chemicals, acids and florescent tubes were removed in 2013. Site cleanup required specific demolition permits from the state for asbestos removal.

Peck, Stow & Wilcox was located in Southington and employed over 1000 workers spanning decades dating back to 1785-1795 under iterations of the combined names, Roys & Wilcox, Solomon Stew and Seth Peck.

The development of the Linear Trail is such a positive addition to Southington. The flat trail is a great use of open space and provides a resource for exercise enthusiasts: a win-win for all. It seemed a natural fit to look at the surrounding areas and plan for the removal of vacant buildings such as Ideal Forging and nearby empty factories. The Hartford Courant reported New York developer Meridian Development Partners Southington purchased The Ideal Forging property in 2005. The recession delayed a retail-residential complex project slated for the 14-acre parcel. The wait is over and signs of change are seen throughout the landscape.

Piles of rock wait to be taken away while blocking the view from homes that line the trail. Rusted metal artifacts truly look the part of relic technology. That view will continue to evolve as debris is replaced by new construction. It will be interesting to see how the integrity and idyllic feeling of open space the trail currently offers will blend with that of a mixed use space site plan.

Another factor to consider is crowd logistics. Southington is best known for its annual Apple Harvest Festival with a 5K run, the yearly Italian-American street fair, weekly music on The Green concerts and big turn outs for parades.  With new housing situated so close to populated events – be prepared to get your maneuvering skills ready!

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Stranger Fear: Is It Unfounded?

Watched ‘Blackish‘ a new ABC series last night where the episode focused on the father character, a hip and attractive Andre “Dre” Johnson, (played by Anthony Anderson,) tries to impress his nonchalant son Andre Johnson, Jr., (played by Marcus Scribner), on the significance of Martin Luther King Jr., holiday and in general on being, well, blackish.

He goes about trying to prove what he thinks is a blatantly racist world we live in. He provokes every situation they encounter loudly AND obnoxiously.

Fast forward to tonight’s sunset. It was a clear sky with a gradient hue developing as the sun made its way to the horizon. The last few days cold made today feel like spring, even though 31 degrees is still cool. After sitting indoors all day till 5:30 I was compelled to pull over on the approach ramp to 691 East. There’s a full view of Hubbard Mountain, and it appeared purplish as that sun was saying farewell. I set the hazard lights to flash and tucked the car inside the white line next to a metal divider separating me from a deep ravine to the right.

With the set to ISO to 12800 I leaned into the steering wheel for a 1/50 second exposure at f8. If the viewfinder where a canvas I’d be painting in orange and near-to-black colors.

IMG_6503I was so absorbed in what I saw through the viewfinder I didn’t notice a car had pulled behind me. A blue light flickered from inside the car and thinking it had to be a police vehicle, I got scared nonetheless as the officer approached my window. He asked if everything was ok and it was, but I couldn’t help but to blurt out, “You scared me for a minute!”

Why would I be scared? For not knowing what to expect? I wasn’t completely sure if this person was a cop, with nothing to identify the car as such, only a hint from its interior blinking light.  I feared it wasn’t a cop and why would anyone pull behind me and approach? I thought what profiling must feel like in that moment.

He was actually a young officer, perhaps four or five years older than my own son. He had a flashlight in hand, more like a small penlight, not unlike something I just purchased for my son so he could find his way around. Glad the officer didn’t use it … that would’ve felt weird him peering inside my car.  I said I’m taking photographs of the sunset, and wondered if he thought I was a loony! He smiled and said I’m fine to stay where I was, he was only checking.

Imagine if instead of an on ramp in a busy area of Meriden, CT,  I was in Fargo with no street lights? Too many movies and real life events of late that gets my imagination active.

Choosing A Topic Offers Challenge

I write for local newspapers. Up until now I’ve told about other people’s stories and it’s always been a subject assigned, not something I’d choose as a topic. Stories on Planning & Zoning developments or Board of Education budget meetings aren’t always exciting, but their outcomes usually are, especially for those who attend the meetings, knowing the votes have a direct impact on their lives.

Occasionally a feature assignment will take me in a direction I wouldn’t find myself in otherwise. Take gardening for instance. I wrote about one Connecticut Historic Garden as a day trip feature and it turned into a series that ran over the course of the summer in 2010. Whatever the case may be, it’s always been a learning experience.

I’m interested in ways people are alike and different. Using technology as a guideline, I’d like to focus on ways folks challenge and motivate themselves. What impact does social media have on feeling connected to others? Does technology add or detract from quality of life? Questions that seem varied are meant to explore what people think about because that’s what I’d like to cover.
To be given a choice of what to write is a challenge I hope to fine tune over the duration of the semester. 

Customer Service: WOW

I walked into Dunkin’ Donuts today for coffee and got something better. “Welcome to Dunkin’ Donuts!” said the woman behind the counter with an ear-to-ear grin. I could feel her enthusiasm and I hadn’t even had my first sip of caffeine.
I splurged on a ‘Box O’ Joe’ and as soon as I placed the order, I could tell she was new. The cash register beguiled her and she had no clue how to key in the order. She quickly asked for help, and as I watched her associate go through the order menu, I was grateful to the more experienced of the two. I counted four sub menus strokes to get to the requested item:
1) beverage
2) hot
3) size, and lastly,
4) ‘Box O’ Joe’
It seemed a long way around to get to what is one of their staples. In my mind a quick key on the register resembling a facsimile of a ‘Box O’ Joe’ would be ideal!
©Dunkin’ Donuts – Box O‘ Joe®
I wondered at precisely the same time my host did, how funny it was to key in ‘hot’ because what else would a ‘Box O’ Joe’ would come in other than hot? We looked across from one another and chuckled. The simple task of ordering was to this newcomer, something that needed to be learned.
What a wonderful skill she had, a genuine smile and eagerness to connect with me, the customer, on the other side of the counter. I watched her practice pressing keys to get to the button that would display the charge while the more experienced woman put together the order. The newbie wanted to know the routine and have it down, without a stumble.
I wished I’d asked her name because I wonder what it is. Just being part of her brief falter, followed by watching her do a dry run of register panel, and committing it to memory, endeared her to me.
I told her what a great job she did because she took the time to connect with me as much as she did the task at hand. That was a real energy jolt – even better than what was in the box.

Public vs. Private Persona

My head is spinning from the many user id’s and passwords needed to navigate through any given day. Life was simpler when an email account was still an exciting aspect of one’s identity. It felt important to hear the ‘You’ve got mail’ announcement, and by now maybe you know I’m not twenty years old.

Age is something you feel in your head and in your body, if you don’t take care of it. I aim to take care of the only real estate that is important to me, once I finish my degree and sell my house.

This sounds funny even as I type but it’s all about goals. I sneak in an occasional three-mile run and protein shake just to remind my body that I know what’s going on.

There’s the public self I present to my place of employment, the private self that knows better and the persona or person I’d like to be. I’d like to treasure every moment … I’d like to have a moment! Part of any given day is knowing the things we must do vs. the things we’d prefer to do.

What makes setting goals so special is the idea of setting forth a direction of our own choosing as opposed to the doing those tasks that allow for paying bills and putting food on the table.

I will go forward from here with subject specific posts, namely how does one at any age, keep up with new apps, varied platforms and numerous programming languages to present a combination of the all the parts that make up the whole self – public and private = person. I like the assignment of finding your voice – is that the same as finding your self?

Running: One Step at A Time

It’s been a long time coming, but I think I found my way back. To running that is. It’s unclear why I stopped especially when I did. My workouts consisted of three to four times per week running anywhere between three to five miles. I completed four 5k races within one year, improving my time with each race. I’m not competitive with anyone but did enjoy seeing and feeling the effects of being in decent shape. The longest distance I’ve ever run is probably about eight miles but I can’t be scientific about it.

I kept track of my road running efforts using Mapmyrun. It’s a nifty program that creates mileage maps of where you run. It can even calculate calories burned, I guess depending on the time you clock the distance.  I refer to 2010 as the year of my best running.

It feels tentative but I think the funk that has taken hold since 2010 is losing its grip. Why, I wonder, does somebody just suddenly stop doing the things that make them feel healthy and vie for inertia? My best guess is depression. Suffice to say there’s enough life stresses that can cause depression. The trick is knowing that and in spite of recognition, figuring out how to counteract the ugly beast!

An impetus towards getting back on track has been a 6 week challenge to realign eating habits paired with exercises while watching television. The idea of watching Scandal and working on my abs simultaneously kind of feels scandalous!! So far, it’s been going well with the exception of some lower back pain. Exercising actually helped after laying off for one day – so it seems the body remembers what feels good. That’s what I’m telling myself.

I revisited my profile on Mapmyrun and calculated my distance today and was pleasantly surprised. I ran nearly 2.41miles in about twenty-five minutes. I stopped a few times to get used to the pace. Considering I haven’t run in some time – I was happy! It felt great to move about.

A working mantra – running, like any endeavor, is best accomplished one step at a time.

Interior Windows – A Photographer’s View

Blizzard ‘Nemo‘ has taken the airwaves by (snow) storm. While sitting at home watching the news coverage on t.v., it seems to be a countdown of each snowflake and its effect. Granted, coverage of a weather system of this magnitude is a comfort to many, I haven’t heard any other news besides  weather.

Everybody is indoors except for reporters and part of the story involves all the closures, including businesses and quite possibly roads. Power outages and accidents are also part of the reporting hierarchy. The outside world is turning white! I’m focusing on interior life and in doing so, I remembered images I made a few weeks ago. Two windows are the subject of a photography exercise:

Select an object, it can be anything, and capture it in several views. Try different times of the day to explore lighting and try different lenses to ‘see’ what various focal lengths look like. It’s interesting to get an understanding of how ordinary objects look in a photograph – depending on the approach:_MG_4938






Light Setting


Sometimes I Wish

This post is part of a blog tag where each participant writes on a prompt, “Sometimes I Wish,” and so here goes mine:

Wishes are like dreams – they seize the mind and heart with an intention. The desire to be somewhere different or something other than who you are right now is a disservice to self.

As long as I can remember I like life best when there’s a connection – not the kind that is absent minded, but the kind that is focused and in the moment. No internal voices droning on, but instead, an exchange. A pause and reflection – between two – listening and hearing another.

That’s why photography is dear to me… that moment captured, no longer in silver, but in bytes, is a wish forever for a memory of now.

It’s not money that’s important, although it would be nice. It’s not fancy stuff I want. I’d prefer the everyday kind of opportunity to see beauty, hope and change.

Sometimes I wish I’d remember to keep negative thoughts away and instead look for the good in life.

And I pass a wish for clarity to you Nichole Lacolle. To see more and do more   – with this gift called life!



Deciphering ‘The Hunger Games’

The game of naming three best or worst categories of a subject of player’s choosing during a long distance drive is a great distraction. I recently played this memory recall game while travelling from Connecticut to New York. I learned about unusual ice cream toppings, the worst smells, the sexiest public figures, and favorite books and movies of each passenger in the car.

This innocuous activity was a lot of fun in a ‘being in the moment’ kind of way. Later I watched a movie that featured another kind of game, namely killing, in ‘The Hunger Games’. I hadn’t read the young adult novel by Suzanne Collins but knew the movie was drawing big crowds.

What is popular entertainment in American culture never ceases to amaze me particularly the science fiction genre. I don’t know why a plot that involves intended violence is depicted as normal, albeit in a future setting. During that car game we played, I declared Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ novel and subsequent movie adaptation by director Robert Mulligan, as one of my favorite film/book combos. I feel saddened to compare what makes millions in today’s films to the quality of movies like ‘To Kill A Mockingbird.’

The subplot –  to make the characters out to be lovers was weak and didn’t warrant sympathy for the elitist government. The officials were after all, intent on objectifying both male and female participants, all for the sake of entertainment. Redemption may have been the winner’s prize but overall ‘The Hunger Games’ left me feeling unsatisfied.

Something In The Air

In case you haven’t noticed I like clouds. I thought about doing a collection of photographs that featured different kinds of clouds. The idea isn’t new and multimedia artist and photographer Kelly DeLay already had his Cloud 365 Project underway. DeLay seeks to do something creative every day and capturing the ever changing variety of billowy vapor shapes is a site worth seeing if you too like looking at the light and formations that speckle the skies.

The effect looking upward at an expanse of space can be a overall good sense of being. I feel more grounded after taking the time to watch a changing pattern of clouds as they move through the atmosphere. It’s similar to watching water break across a shoreline. Something about feeling your place on earth or communing with nature comes to mind.

I don’t want to forget how simple it is to take in the sights around me. It’s ironic because there’s nothing to wait for except the next change you observe, as opposed to a Facebook feed where your attention is channelled in a much more mindless way.

Observing nature isn’t as draining as internet surfing. It’s a much more relaxed use of time in my opinion. It doesn’t matter if someone else has claimed the idea – to observe and record. In fact I can appreciate DeLay’s project. It is a document of time and learning. Something that doesn’t really ever depreciate.

I went to New York today and just looked at the sky above the city. It was a cloud filled sky that changed over the course of the day.

Portions of clouds broke away to reveal a solid tone of blue underneath. Shapes contrasted against the sky reminding me of what seemed obvious – the development of land vs. space.

Street lights brightened the night sky. Looking across the East River from Long Island City, the buildings looked like jewelry sparkling onto landscape.

There’s also a Facebook page dedicated solely to clouds, in case you’d like to see images from a variety of sources. Anyone can upload to the page.  What do you find yourself photographing over and over again?