2008 Wrap-up

A young raccoon in my backyard in Flatbush, Brooklyn in June of 2008. My post about them was in the top five of 2008, measured both by visits and number of comments.
Flatbush Raccoon

It was a year of great changes and terrible losses for me. I began 2008 by taking classes at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden toward a Certificate in Horticulture, which I hope to complete by the end of this year. I remain involved in the gardening activism of Sustainable Flatbush, both in the Gardening Committee, and in the Flatbush CommUNITY Garden. I organized a Brooklyn Blogade, a meeting of bloggers, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and helped with the 2008 annual Blogfest. I also lost two of my best friends: my cat, Spot, at the beginning of the year, and my father, Jerry, just four weeks ago.

To see out this old year and welcome in the new one, I thought I'd review and recap some of what I've written for this blog during 2008, and your responses to it.

Overall stats

Number of posts published: 236 (averaging 2 posts every 3 days)
Busiest month: April, with 38 posts (more than 1 per day)
Slowest month: November, with only 10 posts (1 every 3 days)

22,896 people visited this blog during 2008. There were 32,073 visits, an average of 88 per day. About 70% were first-time visitors.

Greatest Hits of 2008

The most popular content on the blog.
By visits
According to Google Analytics, from which I've collected these stats, "unique page views" are the number of visits during which a page was viewed. Page views are higher, since the same page may be viewed multiple times during a single visit. Unique pageviews, however, doesn't distinguish multiple visits from the same person or IP address.
  1. (Magi)Cicada Watch, about the Brood XIV Magicicadas, which unfortunately have been extirpated in Brooklyn, 2008-05-21, 763 visits
  2. Flatbush Rezoning Proposal will define the future of Victorian Flatbush, my report on a public hearing and analysis of the proposal, 2008-06-13, 483 visits
  3. Summer Nights, my photographic report on raccoons in my backyard, 2008-06-26, 405 visits
  4. Sources of Plants for Brooklyn Gardeners, 2008-04-29, 367 visits
  5. These two posts, both of them memorials, are close enough to call it a tie:
Special mention goes to my tutorial on the OASIS mapping service. Although I wrote it in February of 2007, almost two years ago, it was the third most popular page during 2008, with 433 unique page views. It's got "legs".
By comments
It's interesting to me that my two most commented posts this year were both obituaries. It's been a year of big changes in my life.
  1. Spot, 2008-02-23, 14 comments
  2. Gerard Kreussling, 1931-2008, 2008-12-01, 12 comments
  3. Summer Nights, my photographic report on raccoons in my backyard, 2008-06-26, 11 comments
  4. Snake in the Garden, Prospect Park, about a guy ripping branches off a cherry tree, 2008-04-26, 10 comments
  5. Three-way tie, with 9 comments each:

In case you missed it

Here are some other posts that remain relevant, interesting, or which I'm otherwise proud of.


Important update to Brooklyn Mulchfest 2009

I just found out - by accident, not by any NYC announcement - that two important components of the annual Mulchfest that I thought were lost this year due to budget cuts are back in:

You can drop-off trees at Greenwood Cemetery at the 5th Avenue & 25th Street Entrance from 8 am to 4:30 pm daily from January 1 thru 9, and until 2 pm on January 10. Also on January 10, from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday, a tree chipper will be on site and Master Composters from the Brooklyn Compost Project will be available to answer all your composting questions.

The Department of Sanitation will collect trees left at the curb for composting starting Monday, January 5 through Friday, January 16. As always, you must remove all lights, ornaments, and stands from your tree before setting it out at the curb for collection.

I've updated the original post, which has all the details, including a map of chipping and drop-off locations.

Related Posts

Brooklyn Mulchfest 2009

Recipe: Soft Molasses-Spice Cookies with Cardamom

No photos (yet) for this recipe. My motivation for this experiment was making use of a spice that was new to me: cardamom.


A couple of weeks back, on the recommendation of a friend of ours who's a professional chef, I picked up some ground cardamom (alt: cardamon) for baking. I'm unfamiliar with this spice and had never used it before this recipe.

It's intensely fragrant; even closed, the small baggie of loose cardamom I bought at the Flatbush Food Co-op has been perfuming our kitchen and dining room. It smells like Christmas gingerbread. The scent has strong citrus tones, and at first I thought it might be in the Rutaceae, the Citrus family. But it comes from the Zingiberaceae, the Ginger family, which also makes sense.

The plant is Elettaria cardamomum, a mono-specific genus native to a wide range in southeast Asia. (Some authorities separate the Sri Lankan population as its own species.) The fruit is a pod, a capsule containing multiple seeds. The spice is made from the ground seeds.

Credit: JoJan (Wikimedia Commons)
Cardamom fruit, seeds, and ground spice

Elettaria cardamomum under cultivation. Credit: Rhaessner (Wikimedia Commons)
Elettaria cardamom under cultivation

Searching for recipes on the Web, I found that cardamom is a common ingredient in many recipes from Nordic countries. I'm not familiar with Nordic cuisine, so I wouldn't be able to judge so well the success of my baking endeavor. Cardamom also shows up in many gingerbread recipes, so I fell back on something more familiar to me to try out: molasses spice cookies. Once again, King Arthur Flour provided the basic recipe which I tweaked to make use of my available ingredients.


KAF provides weight equivalents for the volume measures in many of their recipes. I use a kitchen scale and weigh bulk ingredients like sugar and flour whenever possible. It's much faster, more accurate, and leads to more consistent results. It also reduces cleanup, since fewer measuring cups are involved! This is especially convenient for liquid or sticky ingredients like the molasses in this recipe.

I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, sifting it and leaving out the coarsest remaining bran to give it a finer texture. Since I had "robust" molasses, and I was using whole wheat flour, I increased the total amount of spices. I also added vanilla, allspice, and of course cardamom, none of which were in the original recipe. This created a complex taste, where none of the flavors overwhelm, but I think I would miss any I left out.

Yield: About four dozen (48) cookies
  • 2 sticks (1 cup, 8 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 7 ounces (1 cup) sugar
  • 6-1/4 ounces (a little more than 1/2 cup) molasses, robust flavor. (6 ounces would have been 1/2 cup.; the extra 1/4 ounce was a mistake on my part, but I recorded it as what I did.)
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 extra large eggs (original called for large)
  • 14 ounces whole wheat flour (not sure of the volume equivalent)
  • sugar, for coating (This gives the outside of the cookies some crunch. The recipe calls for coarse or even pearl sugar, for more crunch. I'd use them instead if I had them.)


  1. Let the butter come to room temperature, if possible, for easier creaming.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F. (Be sure you have an accurate oven thermometer! I had a devil of a time baking in our horrible kitchen until I bought a thermometer and discovered that the oven dial was off by 100F!)
  3. Prepare a small bowl with some of the sugar for coating the cookies.
  4. (The recipe calls for greasing baking sheets or lining them with parchment. Since I have some well-seasoned, non-stick baking sheets, I didn't bother and it wasn't necessary.)


  1. Cream together the butter and sugar until they're light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the the molasses, salt, and spices. (Here's where you can taste-test to adjust if needed. I added the spices at 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon at a time to make sure I didn't over do it. I ended up with 1 teaspoon of each, as listed above.)
  3. Beat in the baking soda.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until they're mixed well into the batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters and mix well.
  5. Slowly stir in the flour. (This is something I've learned recently. Stirring the flour in at low speeds keeps the cookies tender. Beating the flour in at higher speeds makes the cookies tougher.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters and mix well.
This is a fairly soft, wet dough. Although I didn't try it this time, I bet you could refrigerate the dough for a few hours, or even overnight, to set up before baking.


  1. Using a tablespoon cookie/ice-cream scoop, create a small ball of the dough. (A scoop is the fastest, easiest way to get a consistently sized, professional looking, batch of cookies. You could also just use two tablespoons.)
  2. Drop the dough ball onto the coating sugar. Coat thoroughly.
  3. Place the coated dough ball on the baking pan. Space them evenly, and leave plenty of space for them to spread. (The recipe says leave 2-1/2" between them, which sounds about right.)
  4. Bake for at least 10, at most 11, minutes at 350F. (With experience, your nose and eyes are the best guides here. When they smell like they're just starting to burn, and the edges are visibly just darker than the center, they're done.)
  5. Remove the pan and let it cool for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Move the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. (But try at least one with a glass of cold milk while it's still warm!)

Related Posts

Other recipes on this blog


Soft Ginger-Molasses Cookies and Ginger Syrup, Recipes, King Arthur Flour


Stand Still / Dona Nobis Pacem

Illumination of Earth by Sun at the southern solstice.

It's the longest night and shortest day of the year for my half of the world. This season's Solstice (Winter in the Northern hemisphere, Summer in the Southern), occurred at 12:04pm UTC on December 21, 2008. That was 7:04 AM Eastern Time, my time zone, about six hours ago.
The name is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still in declination; that is, its apparent movement north or south comes to a standstill.
- Solstice, Wikipedia
It feels like winter. It's cold outside, icy and frozen over the layer of snow we got on Friday. We will get a deep freeze tonight.

Later this week, I will see what's left of my family of origin for the first time since we flew back from North Carolina a little more than two weeks ago. It feels like it's been much longer than that. It will be a bittersweet reunion. We are incomplete for the first time, and for all the seasons to come.

The days start getting longer again, earlier sunrise, later dusk. It feels like more than a metaphor this year.

Lots of "it feels", which really means, "I'm feeling." Sometimes that's the work to be done. To stand still. And simply feel.

If, like me, you can't read music cold, this page has a little MIDI file which bangs out the tune so you can follow the score.

Related Posts

2007 December (Winter) Solstice


Solstice (Wikipedia)


Happy Holidays

The MTA thwarted our plans to attend a concert of a women's choir this evening. So Blog Widow and I turned back and walked around our neighborhood, taking in the snow-beings and holiday lights.

Enjoy this slideshow of my Flickr set of photos from the evening. For best viewing, click the play button, then click the icon with four arrows in the lower-right to view it full-screen on a black background.

Related Content

Flickr set


Winter Storm Watch

A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for Brooklyn and the south shore of Long Island for tomorrow, with the possibility of 6 or more inches of snow:



"Proud to be from ... somewhere ... over there ..."

Update: Yup, the Eagle corrected the opening paragraph! Guccione was now "born in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn," intersection unknown ...

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle has a daily, On This Day in History, that features different interesting Brooklyn historical events. Today's historic event is ... the birthday of Robert Guccione:
Robert Sabatini Guccione was born on Argyle Road and Flatbush Avenue in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn on December 17, 1930. Bob well remembers his childhood Brooklyn home and is always proud to respond “I’m from Brooklyn,” when asked where he was born.
- Proud To Be From Brooklyn, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 2008.12.17
Okaaaay, except that Argyle Road - aka East 13th Street - and Flatbush Avenue never intersect. They run parallel to each other, nine blocks apart.

View Larger Map

So, proud to be from Brooklyn, sure, maybe even from Flatbush. Just doesn't remember "his childhood Brooklyn home" as well as he thinks he does.

I notified the Eagle via the email address on their Web site. Hopefully they will correct it soon.


Proud To Be From Brooklyn, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 2008.12.17


Grief and Baking: Peppermint Swirl Meringue Cookies

Updates 2014-12-13: Simplified the baking temperature and time, and added notes about portion sizing.

Yesterday it was hard for me to do anything. Although the weather was perfect - 60s and partly sunny - for planting the bulbs I have yet to get into the ground, I could not bring myself to go outside. It's only been two weeks since my father died, and I was feeling his absence deeply and sharply yesterday. When I wrote that "there's so much of him in me," I didn't appreciate how much I would feel a loss of my own self, a void left standing where "the library burned down." It reminds me of the hole in the sky where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood. The absence is palpable.

By the end of the day, I was feeling a little better, and I thought that surrendering to my winter baking mode would help. I was prepared to make some basic chocolate chip cookies, but Blog Widow came home with a box of soft, store-bought ones. I experimented with something new, and here's what I came up with:

Peppermint Swirl Meringue Cookies

I call these Peppermint Swirl Meringue Cookies, an elaboration of a basic meringue recipe from King Arthur Flour. KAF is my favorite source for all things baking. I was happy to find that the Flatbush Food Co-Op carries several varieties of King Arthur Flours in the well-stocked baking section of their new location.

I've made meringues many times before, but Blog Widow has never cared for them. He likens their texture to styrofoam, and I can't disagree. The best way to eat them is not to bite into them. Instead, let them dissolve on the tongue, releasing a burst of the flavoring baked into them.

Part of last night's experiment was to see if I could achieve a texture that would satisfy Blog Widow: crisp and crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. The KAF recipe suggested that I could accomplish this simply by baking them for an hour less than usual. This worked beautifully. Here's a single, intact meringue cookie, the same one in the center foreground of the photo above:

Meringue Cookie, Intact

And here's the same cookie broken open (shattered, really!) to show the chewy, slightly gooey, interior:
Meringue Cookie, Broken Open

Perfect. And baking these did help lighten my spirit.

Meringues are more confection than cookie. The basic ingredients are just egg whites and sweeteners: no fat and no cholesterol. Since there's no flour, they're also fine for folks avoiding gluten.

I use dried, powdered egg whites in recipes calling for them. It saves the hassle of separating them, and I don't have to figure out what to do with the yolks. However, dried egg whites can have an off, eggy taste. You want to make sure that the flavoring is assertive enough, without being too aggressive, to balance the recipe.

The classic flavoring is vanilla, but anything can be used. I thought I would make some red and green meringues with different flavorings for each color, such as cinnamon for red, lime for green. But a tip in the KAF recipe suggested coloring just half the mixture and swirling them together. White plus red stripes just screams candy cane, so peppermint was the flavor I went with. (If I had spearmint flavoring, I would also try green and white stripes.)

Here's how I made the cookies in these photos, presenting the basic KAF recipe with the slight adaptations I had to make along the way. The basic KAF recipe presents lots of possible variations, even adding nuts to the meringue, so check that out for other creative options.


  • Egg whites of 6 large eggs (7/8 cup, or 7-8 ounces), or 1/4 cup dried egg whites dissolved in 3/4 cups water, at room temperature (separate eggs when cold, but whip them at room temperature to get the best volume.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (a mild acid which helps stabilize the whites when beaten)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (for flavor only. You can omit this if you need to minimize sodium, although the egg whites naturally contain sodium of their own.)
  • 1 1/4 cups extra-fine sugar (also known as sanding or castor sugar. I used regular white, refined sugar and they came out fine. A finer grain of sugar dissolves easier in the whites for a smooth, non-gritty texture.)
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (The vanilla mellows and warms the peppermint, which remains the dominant flavor.)
  • red food coloring (I used a gel type.)


  1. Preheat the oven to 250F. (Be sure you have an accurate oven thermometer! Temperature is lower than usual for baking - too high, and you'll burn, rather than bake, your meringues - and gets reduced further part-way into the baking time. I had a devil of a time baking in our horrible kitchen until I bought a thermometer and discovered that the oven dial was off by 100F!)
  2. Prepare the egg whites and set them aside to let them come to room temperature.
  3. Use the largest baking pans you have, line them with parchment paper, and set them aside. (I could only use two pans in my oven, and had to discard part of my batch because I had no more room for them.)
  4. Sift the sugars together and set them aside.


I used a hand whisk for the slow whisking steps, and a mixer with a whisking attachment for the rest.
  1. Add the cream of tartar to the room-temperature egg whites, Whisk until the cream of tartar has completely dissolved and the whites are foamy.
  2. If using salt, add it now and whisk to dissolve that as well.
  3. Increase the whisking speed until the egg whites have doubled in volume.
  4. Add half the sugar and whisk until the whites are glossy and start to get stiff.
  5. Add the remaining sugar and whisk until the whites hold stiff peaks. (Since I didn't have extra-fine sugar, I chickened out here a little and added the sugar a little early so it would dissolve completely. I also didn't whisk completely to the hard peak stage. Just the tips of the peaks folded over, which you can see in the finished cookies.)
  6. Add the flavorings.
  7. Remove about 1/3 of the meringue into a separate bowl. Add the coloring and whisk it until it the desired color is evenly distributed.
  8. Add the colored meringue back into the other bowl on top of the white meringue. Using a spatula, gently fold the two meringues together until they are just striped. It only takes a few folds for this.


  1. Drop the striped meringue by the spoonful onto the parchment paper on your baking pans. The meringues will not spread while baking, so they can be placed as close as possible without touching each other.

    Use a tablespoon to get 3 dozen big cookies; at this size, though, I usually run out of baking sheet before I run out of batter. Use two teaspoons for more, smaller, cookies; the smaller size can be placed more closely together on the sheet, and uses up all of the batter. The smaller ones are bite-sized and easier to handle.

    You can also use a pastry bag, if you have one, for fancier cookies.
  2. Bake at 250F for 30 minutes.
  3. After 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 225F and bake for one more hour for chewy cookies, or 2 more hours for crisp-all-the-way-through cookies.
  4. Turn off the heat, crack open the oven door, and let them cool for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Simplified baking option for chewy cookies: Instead of the two-stage, two-temperature method, bake at 250F for an hour.

Here's another, close-up view of the finished product.

Peppermint Swirl Meringue Cookies

And oh yeah: Blog Widow labels this a successful experiment!


Related Posts

Other recipes on this blog
The quotes in the opening paragraph come from the eulogy I wrote and read for my father's memorial service on Thursday, December 4, 2008.


Meringues, Recipes, King Arthur Flour

Gardening by Satellite

Here in Brooklyn, at the end of last week and into the weekend, we got drenched with a couple days of rain. Fellow gardeners in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, I sympathize.

New England Ice Storm, 2008.12.13
In this image, snow is red and orange, while liquid water is black. By the time this image was taken [On December 13], the top layer of ice was undoubtedly starting to melt, and the resulting watery ice ranges from dark red to black. The icy region extends over parts of Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire ... The normally green-blue tone of plant-covered land is nearly black throughout most of New Hampshire, the state most severely affected by the storm.
- New England Ice Storm, NASA Earth Observatory
If you've blogged about the ice storm in your area, give us a link!


New England Ice Storm, NASA Earth Observatory

The following Garden Bloggers reported on the ice storm where they are.
Common Weeder, Heath, Massachusetts
Garden Path, Scarborough, Maine
The Vermont Gardener, Marshfield, Vermont


Captured on my cellphone while riding the Q train to a candlelight service Sunday evening.

This art project was in disrepair for nearly 30 years. It's only visible from the right side of the Manhattan-bound Q or B train while the train is moving.


Masstransiscope, Bill Brand
Bill Brand's Project Blog


ID that tree

A specimen of Abies fraseri, Fraser Fir, decorated as our Christmas/ Winter Holiday Tree for 2007-2008.
Christmas Tree

A reminder that the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has an online guide to identifying the species of your holiday tree.
Most people can tell a Wii from a PS3 in the shop windows at this time of year, but how many can tell whether that's a Scotch pine or a balsam fir in their living room? Our simplified key will help you identify your holiday tree.
- Holiday Tree Identification, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
For example, here are the keys to my annual choice, Abies fraseri, the Fraser Fir:
  • Leaves are needlelike, at least 4 times longer than wide.
  • Needles occur singly, not in clusters.
  • Buds are round or egg-shaped and have blunt tips.
  • Needles are attached directly to the stem.
  • Mature needles are 1/2 to 1 inch long.
  • Twigs have red hairs.
I also learned in my Woody Landscape Plant Identification class that you can quickly tell an Abies (Fir) from a Picea (Spruce) by trying to roll a needle between your fingers. Fir needles are flat and will not roll. Spruce needles are more cylindrical and will easily roll.

Since the guides include all species grown and sold commercially across the United States and Canada, they include some species you're unlikely to find at your local tree merchant in New York City, such as Cupressus arizonica, the Arizona Cypress. In addition to the online keys, they have a page for each species, and many links to other information about selecting, identifying, and enjoying your tree.

Related Posts

Brooklyn Mulchfest 2009


Holiday Tree Identification, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Long Live the Christmas Tree, 2008.12.04, from neighbor and fellow gardener at New York City Garden


Brooklyn Mulchfest 2009

Important updates, 2008.12.23: Good news!
  • You can drop-off trees at Greenwood Cemetery at the 5th Avenue & 25th Street Entrance from 8 am to 4:30 pm daily from January 1 thru 9, and until 2 pm on January 10. Also on January 10, from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday, a tree chipper will be on site and Master Composters from the Brooklyn Compost Project will be available to answer all your composting questions.
  • The Department of Sanitation will collect clean Christmas trees left at the curb for composting starting Monday, January 5 through Friday, January 16. As always, you must remove all lights, ornaments, and stands from your tree before setting it out at the curb for collection.

Me loading a tree onto a truck during Mulchfest 2008.
Loading the Truck

I know I just got my tree up yesterday, and it's not even decorated yet, but it's also time to think about where your tree will go when you're done enjoying it.

Saturday and Sunday, January 10 & 11, 2009, from 10am to 2pm, you can bring your tree to multiple Parks locations throughout the city. This map shows all the Brooklyn locations for Mulchfest 2009. On-site chipping locations are indicated by the green tree icons. Drop-off only locations are indicated by the arrow&star icons. Be sure to first remove all lights, ornaments, decorations, tree-stands and what-not before turning your tree into mulch.

View Larger Map

This year's locations are almost the same as last year's. New this year is a drop-off location at the Brooklyn Bear's Pacific Street Garden.

A few drop-off locations were lost this year, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, Shore Road Park, and Bensonhurst Park. Greenwood Cemetery, which provided extended drop-off dates last year, is not listed at all this year. And there is no curbside pickup this year. You must take your tree to one of the drop-off or chipping locations.

The closest location to Flatbush is Park Circle, at the corner of Prospect Park Southwest and Parkside Avenue. To volunteer or for more information call (718) 965-8960 or email volunteers@prospectpark.org. I volunteered at last year's Mulchfest and it was a lot of fun.

Related Posts

Other Mulchfest posts
My photos from last year's Park Circle Mulchfest [Flickr set]


Mulchfest, Parks


How Old Will I Be?

Update, Friday, December 5: Blog Widow John and I originally had reservations to fly down and visit my parents Wednesday, December 3, two days ago. Last Friday, while celebrating Thanksgiving with my sister and her family, I got the call that my Dad was back in the hospital, this time for the last time. His kidneys had failed and he was on palliative care, only oxygen and painkillers (hydromorphone/Dilaudid). My sister and flew down first thing the next morning; John joined us on Sunday. My father's heart stopped at 5:15am on Monday, December 1.

I read this at his memorial service yesterday, December 4, the day after we had hoped to begin our visit. I should have introduced this as, "a reading from the Book of Jerry." I was able to get through all of it without choking up until the very last line. I also read the eulogy I've been working on for months and finished during this hectic week.

He was a fan and regular reader of this blog, and wrote two other guest posts.

This is my father's last, posthumous, guest post for this blog. The only edits here are for space, and one minor correction. I believe he wrote this in May of 2007, when his health and prognosis was already seriously downgraded. Still, he thought he might have years, not months, left.

Central display at his memorial service. The front of the chapel was filled with photographs and artifacts of his life.
Memorial Display

I’m certain it’s true of all of us: as one approaches the end of life, we tend to review our lives and, perhaps, mend some broken fences or open the doors to reveal the family skeletons in our closets. In some cases, like mine, it is an attempt to get square with our Maker.

While disenchanted with the Holy Roman Catholic Church, I was too indoctrinated as a child to ever question the existence of God. Certain of the teachings of The Church I still hold to be absolute. Such as, the existence of Heaven and Hell. Not sure about Purgatory. It seems way too convenient to explain one of God’s great mysteries. Ah yes; the Sorrowful Mysteries and the Joyful Mysteries.

How convenient. [ala Church Lady]

Training and disillusionment have made me the believer I am today. That is, I believe in Heaven and believe I have never done anything bad enough to keep me from Heaven. I will go to Heaven. No question.

Now, about the details. How old will I be when I get to Heaven ?????

Will I be the age at which I pass this mortal realm only without the arthritis and other crap?

How about freezing me at one of the three greatest events in my life: my wedding and the births of my two children?

How long will it be before I get to meet God? He’s always very busy and there were billions before me.

I was promised a seat at His right hand. Maybe a glass of wine and a nice cigar.

I guess I will no longer need sustenance. Even so, will all my natural teeth come back? I get the idea, from paintings and such, that no one wears glasses in Heaven. If so, it is not a stretch to believe that all our ailments will be gone.

Okay, here’s a biggy: if I’m in that great physical condition . . . . what about (sh-h-h-h) S-E-X?? My wife will certainly be there so it’s legit. So we won’t be making baby angels. It’s still a privilege of marriage and He made it enjoyable.

What about the kids? What age will they be? If they continue to be healthy they might live way past the age at which I departed.

Socially, it’s a big tsimmis [fuss, bother]. Are we required to pay social visits to our 50,000 years worth of ancestors? Will Abraham even recognize me?

Conditions and environment. If the weather is always perfect, will I never again see a rainbow?

Mary and I like to travel. . . . .Where would we go?. . . . . Does one need a license to fish? . . . .What about the change of seasons? Do the trees change color in the Fall? Is there a Fall?

Music. There must be music in Heaven. After 10,000 years of Handel’s Messiah, will I be allowed to Rock and Roll? I would miss church bells and temple gongs if not available. And the sound of a train in the distance on a rainy night. . . . Rain?

Could we actually see the people on Earth and in Hell? I know I will have many, many friends in both places.

Some possible circumstances bother me. I know that my Agnostic friends will be shocked when they suddenly show up in your presence. They will be instant converts and therefore, probably a pain in the ass. All for the good. My Uncle converted from Lutheran to Catholic. My sister converted from Catholic to Jew. They were both real decent Human Beings and pains in the ass about religion.

BUT, how about my beloved Atheist friends? [Myself among them] Do they have a chance? They haven’t done harm to anyone and might have led otherwise exemplary lives. They just don’t believe in You. Will you give them the shock treatment like Agnostics with a chance to change? Or is it “get even” time where you thumb Your Nose and say “Nyahh-Nyahh” and open up the express Down elevator?

So much to learn. We’ll have to spend some time together, Lord, and work on the details.

I know my God has a sense of humor. He has often allowed me to poke fun at my religion at His expense.

But, just in case:
Oh my God I am heartily sorry for having offended thee. I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to confess my sins, do penance and amend my life. Amen.

I really believe in this part.

Related Posts

Gerard Kreussling, 1931-2008


What follows is the text of the eulogy I read at my father's memorial this afternoon. I started writing it months ago. The first paragraph is a rewrite from my response to my father's first guest post on this blog.

"To Dad, From Your Loving Family" My mother wants the roses. At least one of them will be dried for a memento box. The rest will be removed and worked into new arrangements for a nursing home.
Floral Display

I am grateful that I was able to have a relationship with my father. It wasn't always so. There were decades of silence, and strained relations. I'm grateful that we both lived long enough to heal and grow, independently and together, to allow us to enjoy each other's company. I'm grateful for the friendship we shared, as two grown men with a unique bond and shared history. I am also proud of him. I'm grateful that I'm able to feel all this, and know it, and celebrate it. And him.

I want to honor the complexity of my father's life. My father was not a perfect man. I'm not proud of him because he was perfect. I'm proud of him because of how he grappled, throughout his life, with his imperfections, to become the man he always wanted to be. I was not proud of his alcohol dependence; I'm proud of his recovery from it. I was not proud of his homophobia. I'm proud that he overcame it so, that he accepted my partner, John, as his own son.

There is so much of him in me. We shared the same dark sense of humor. I thank him for my full head of hair. There is also our love of nature, animals and babies; love of science, engineering and computers, and space; love of photography, theater and music; the desire to connect with and contribute to our communities; and endless curiosity about the world. There's so much of him in me, that it will be a long time before I can accept that we will never have another conversation, share another bad joke, exchange another email or photograph, share another hug.

Laurie Anderson said, "When my father died, it was like a whole library had burned down." My image for this comes from the end of the film, "The Name of the Rose," when the monastery tower goes up in flames. I feel like the monk, portrayed by Sean Connery in the film, staggering out of the smoke and ash, clutching a few smoldering volumes to his chest.

  • Checkers
  • Bullfrog
  • Deer throat
  • Gliders and flaming hot-air balloons
  • Coin collecting
  • Rocket launches
  • Stingray on the St. John's
  • Vibrating beds
  • My first camera
  • Community theater
  • CB radio

Related Posts

Gerard Kreussling, 1931-2008, 2008-12-01
How Old Will I Be?, 2008-12-04


Gerard Kreussling, 1931-2008

Update 2008-12-04 11:26PM:It's the end of a long day of a long week. We fly back home tomorrow. I am both anxious to be home, and dreading leaving, as it will be one more reminder of the finality of death.

The memorial service was today. I published my reading of my father's writing, How Old Will I Be?, and my eulogy, as their own posts.

Update 2008-12-03 10:50AM: His obituary appears in today's Asheville Citizen-Times and Hendersonvile Times-News, the text of which I've added below. The memorial service will be held tomorrow at 1pm at Thomas Shepherd and Sons; they're hosting an online register on their Web site.

Holding the hand of my father on his deathbed at Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina on Saturday, November 29, 2008. He was on palliative care, only oxygen and pain medication to keep him comfortable. Except for a brief moment of recognition later that Saturday, he was already gone. His heart stopped at 5:15am this morning, December 1, 2008, after prolonged illness.
This image was used to illustrate the online article, From Pain to Palliative Care in the WBUR radio documentary "Quality of Death, End of Life Care in America".

He went into the hospital for the last time on Friday. He was never alone. My sister and I flew down first thing Saturday morning. Blog Widow John joined us last night.

I'll be staying in North Carolina through the week. We'll be making arrangements this afternoon for a local memorial service later this week.


BBG Free Winter Weekdays

The center hall of BBG's landmarked Lab and Admin Building, decorated for the winter season in December 2007.
Center Hall, BBG Lab Admin Building

Admission to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is free Tuesday through Friday (the grounds are closed closed Mondays, though offices are open) all Winter, from November 20 through February 29. Both the Native Flora Garden and Cranford Rose Garden are closed all Winter, but there's still stuff happening to see.

Come January, the Witchhazels put on their show.
Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena'

Check out the Bonsai Museum any time.
Camellia japonica Julia Drayton, Bonsai, Literati style

And this is the best time of year to enjoy the Japanese Garden in contemplative solitude.
Pond and Torii

Related Posts

Brooklyn Botanic Garden, December 2007
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, January 2008


BBG Hours and Admission


Sunset Park can haz Community Garden?

Sunset Park neighbors and colleagues Best View in Brooklyn report that there is interest in developing unused MTA property into a community garden:
Some Sunset Park residents want to grow stuff...lots of stuff. You know, things like vegetables and flowers and green things. Despite there being several very active members of the Sunset Park Garden Club [which maintains gardens in Sunset Park itself], there is a desire and a need for a more typical community garden with plots and benches and composting.
- Sunset Park Wants a Community Garden, Best View in Brooklyn
They are meeting this Saturday, November 29, at 10:30 in front of the 9th Avenue subway station (D and M lines) in Sunset Park, just south of Greenwood Cemetery. There are vacant lots on either side of the station building, visible in this Google Maps Street View of the station.

View Larger Map

For more details, see the original post.

Related Posts

Sunset Park Garden Club Needs You!, May 19, 2008


Sunset Park Wants a Community Garden, Best View in Brooklyn


How to move a 200-ton Ginkgo

Very carefully.

Ginkgo biloba mobile

This huge, mature Ginkgo biloba tree is being relocated to make room for construction of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's new Visitor's Center. The new building will open onto Washington Avenue and the parking lot BBG shares with the Brooklyn Museum, the building in the background in the photo above.

The muddy mess in the foreground used to be the Herb Garden, which is being revisioned as a "21st Century potager" which will be located along Flatbush Avenue, south of the rock garden. This shot shows more of the ground, including one of the old paths in the Herb Garden in the foreground.

Herb Garden

Here's a view from a different perspective, looking back toward the entrance from the parking lot. Here you can see the other three Ginkgos which must also be dealt with before construction can begin. These are going to be converted to lumber and other materials which will be incorporated into the new, green building.


It looked like this when I visited with the Brooklyn Blogade back in October. The Ginkgos are leafy and green in the background.

Knot Garden

Here's a closer view of the gigantic root ball. I first estimated it to be at least 12 feet across. Now I think it's at least 20 feet across. Compare the width of the root ball to the four foot width of the 4x8 sheet of plywood lying on top of it.

Ginkgo biloba mobile

Related Content

BBG Ginkgo biloba mobile, 2008-11-11
BBG, 2008-11-15 (Flickr photo set)



Steven Earl Clemants, 1954-2008

Steven Earl Clemants. Credit: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The botanical world - especially New York State, New York City, and Brooklyn - suffered a great loss recently. Steven Earl Clemants, Ph.D., Vice President of the Science Department of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, died suddenly and unexpectedly on Sunday, November 2, 2008. Funeral services were held last Friday, November 7. He was 54 years old.

I never met Steven, but I've known of his work. I've written about some of it on my blog. His contributions in several fields, including native plant conservation, invasive plants, and urban botany, are substantial. I can only summarize.

Dr. Clemants was Chair of the Board of the Invasive Plant Council of New York State. He was the Historian and past President for the Torrey Botanical Society, and Chair of the Local Flora Committee of the Long Island Botanical Society. He was a founder, coordinator and contributor for the New York Metropolitan Flora Project (NYMF), which is documenting all the flora within a 50-mile radius of New York City. He was Codirector of the Center for Urban Restoration Ecology (CURE), a collaboration between BBG and Rutgers University. He served on the Advisory Board and Atlas Committee of the New York Flora Association. He was a graduate faculty member of both Rutgers University and the City University of New York. He was also involved with the New York State Invasive Species Task Force, the Prospect Park Woodlands Advisory Board, and the American Institute of Biological Sciences, among many other efforts.

He was Editor-in-Chief of Urban Habitats, an open-science online journal dedicated to worldwide urban ecological studies. In addition to authoring and co-authoring numerous technical journals and articles, he was co-author, with Carol Gracie, of "Wildflowers in the Field and Forest: A Field Guide to the Northeastern United States."

The Dr. Steven Clemants Wildflower Fund

The Dr. Steven Clemants Wildflower Fund has been established to honor him. Steve's widow, Grace Markman, is working with the Greenbelt Native Plant Center to plan a living memorial that will foster the planting of native wildflower species in New York City parks.

If you would like to donate to the Fund, there's a PDF form to fill out and mail with your check. Email me at xrisfg at gmail dot com and I'll send you the form. Make out your check to “City Parks Foundation” and mail it with the form to:

City Parks Foundation
c/o Greenbelt Native Plant Center
3808 Victory Blvd.
Staten Island, NY 10314

As an alternative, here's an Amazon Associates link for the paperback edition of the Field Guide which Dr. Clemants co-authored. I will donate any proceeds I receive through this link to the Dr. Steven Clemants Wildflower Fund. The Field Guide is also available in both hardcover and paperback editions from BBG's online store.

Related Posts

Web Resource: New York Metropolitan Flora Project (NYMF), 2006-06-02


Steven Earl Clemants:
Center for Urban Restoration Ecology (CURE)
Invasive Plant Council of New York State
Long Island Botanical Society
New York Flora Association
New York Metropolitan Flora Project (NYMF)
Science Department, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Torrey Botanical Society
Urban Habitats


Meta: Blogspot "embedded" comments do not work

This evening I found myself unable to sign in to and leave a comment on my own blog. After struggling with it for over a half-hour, I switched this blog's "Comment Form Placement" to "Full Page" from "Embedded." That seems to have circumvented the commenting problem, but I still can't edit my own blog.

If you've tried to leave a comment recently - the past two or three weeks - and were unable to do so, please try again.

Others have reported the same problem in the Blogger Help forums, but no one has gotten any relief.


BBG Ginkgo biloba mobile

Update: Read How to move a 200-ton Ginkgo, 2008-11-18

If I'd known this was already underway, I would have made a visit when we were there last Friday. The Ginkgo to be relocated to make room for BBG's new Visitor's Center has been balled and wrapped, all 200 tons of it:
The process to start moving the tree began in the spring, when the garden hired Perfection Tree Experts to make the move. During that time, the company scored a big circle around the tree to prepare its roots.
After the pruning was completed in the spring, the tree was given time for its roots to strengthen, and on Monday, Locke started digging around the tree and preparing it for the move, which they are hoping will be complete by the end of this week.
- A Tree Moves in Brooklyn, Sarah Tobol, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 2008-11-11

Related Posts

The Brooklyn Blogade at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2008-10-12


A Tree Moves in Brooklyn, Sarah Tobol, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 2008-11-11


Brooklyn Botanic Garden, November 7 2008

The Cherry Esplanade at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Cherry Esplanade, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Blog Widow and I both grew up in New York state. The annual spectacle of fall foliage never fails to leave us in awe. We usually try to make some kind of annual road trip out of the city to enjoy the foliage, but this year our schedules haven't permitted it.

Friday we went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It was my first chance to get there this season. It was psychedelic. It was hard to take a bad photo, but these are some of the best of more than a hundred shots I took during our few hours there. Hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed being there. All are best viewed at screen-filling enlargement in a dark room.

Cherry Leaves
Cherry Leaves

View toward the Cherry Esplanade from the Cherry Walk.
Cherry Esplanade

Cherry Walk
Cherry Walk

Foliage, Japanese Maple
Japanese Maple, Japanese Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Hill, Japanese Garden
Japanese Garden

Pond, Japanese Garden
Pond, Japanese Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Cherry Leaf with Koi
Cherry Leaf with Koi

Magnolia Plaza
Magnolia Plaza

Japanese Persimmon
Japanese Persimmon

Bonsai Museum
Bonsai Museum

Bonsai, Ginkgo biloba
Bonsai, Ginkgo biloba

Bonsai, Acer palmatum
Bonsai, Acer palmatum

Beautyberry, Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii
Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii

Beautyberry, Callicarpa japonica 'Leucocarpa'
Callicarpa japonica 'Leucocarpa'


Gardens are not Parks, Parks are not Gardens: New challenges facing Brooklyn's community gardens

Target Park, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn
Village Green

By my best estimate I have now visited 36 of Brooklyn's community gardens, most of these from the three Brooklyn Community Gardeners Coalition (BCGC) Green With Envy (GWE) Tours I attended this year. This is just an introduction: there are over 200 community gardens in Brooklyn alone.

It's become clear to me that the future of community gardens in Brooklyn, and throughout NYC, is not assured. They are facing renewed threats to their survival, to their identity as community gardens. Paradoxically, the systems set in place to protect community gardens may contribute to these threats.

Anne Raver's Home & Garden column in the November 6, 2008 New York Times highlights these threats. She highlights two gardens - one in Jamaica, Queens, the other in Harlem, Manhattan. Both are owned by the New York Restoration Project. Both were recently overhauled by professional garden designers with hundreds of thousands of dollars of private funding.

Walter Hood, a California landscape architect, redesigned a community garden at the corner of Foch Avenue and 165th Street in Jamaica, Queens with $350,000 donated by G-Unity, the private foundation of Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent. The garden, once called the Baisley Park Community League Garden, is now known as the Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson Community Garden. $350Gs buys not only water collectors "shaped like martini glasses", but naming rights.
Mr. Hood said he leapt at the chance to work with the New York Restoration Project. Community gardens have always been temporary spaces, “social actions by advocacy groups during times of need,” he said. “But when Bette Midler created this nonprofit and gave ownership to these spaces, they become this real thing.”
- Healthy Spaces, for People and the Earth, Anne Raver, New York Times, 2008-11-05
Excuse me?! In what way are community-run gardens not "the real thing"? Some of those "temporary spaces" have been in continuous operation as community gardens for four decades. How is it that only the arch touches of a professional designer and corporate sponsorship bestow "realness"? How insulting.


The American Community Gardening Association (ACGA, not to be confused with its antithesis, the American Corn Growers Association) defines a community garden as "any piece of land gardened by a group of people." While inclusive, this definition is too broad to begin to characterize the challenges and threats to urban green spaces. My current frame for thinking about this defines three broad categories:
a green space open to the public, but not cared for by them; no membership requirement
community garden
a green space cared for by its members; contains personal and/or shared areas gardened by members; contains ornamental and/or agricultural plantings; non-profit, volunteer-run organization/governance
urban farm
dedicated to agricultural - food - production; often setup as a program providing services to a targeted community; may be run as a profit-making venture

Case Study

The official name of the green space in the photo that opens this post is "Target Community Garden." Yes, that Target. Here's what the New York Restoration Project, which owns this property, has to say about it:

For 15 years, this garden has been an important resource in improving the safety and quality of life in this Bedford-Stuyvesant community. A local elementary school and several families are currently involved in the maintenance of the garden. During 2004, these residents raised funds to support the site's use for gatherings, workshops, and as a learning garden by neighborhood school children.

Target is generously supporting the restoration of the garden and selected nationally acclaimed garden designer and horticulturist Sean Conway to provide the garden design. Since 1998, Conway has helped to create the garden centers in Target stores and also designed the gardens at the Target corporate headquarters in Minneapolis. He has also been a frequent guest on Martha Stewart Living and is the co-executive producer and host of Cultivating Life on PBS.
- Target Community Park
The corporate sponsorship is part of the design. If the logo on the entrance sign didn't catch your eye:

the corporate colors and logo incorporated into the privacy screen bordering the lounging plaza assert dominion over the space:

In some sense, this is still a garden. It has flowering plants, a lawn, places to gather. However, in no way can it be called a community garden. Is it reasonable to still call something a community garden when it has been completely redesigned and rebuilt with $250,000 of corporate sponsorship? Even the garden's designer is corporate, which explains why it feels more like the "Target corporate headquarters in Minneapolis" than a community garden.
Target Community Park

The few remaining gardening plots have been relegated to the worst possible location: huddled against the north side of an adjacent building to the south of the space, completely shaded except during the morning and evening hours of the the long days of summer.
Planting Beds

The community was involved in setting priorities for the design. I can accept that they got what they asked for. The community enjoys the rewards this space provides. They have a space which is open all day for the enjoyment of all residents. People come and gather and interact. This is a village green, a town square.

However, the community is not involved in its upkeep, except in minimal ways. It is no longer effectively "gardened by a group of people." It's open to anyone, even those with no hand in its making. That's a good thing (with apologies to Target's other corporate personality), but that's what makes it a park, and not a garden.

The other garden described in Raver's article has also received the Target touch from corporate consultant Sean Conway:

It would be hard to miss the Target East Harlem Community Garden on East 117th Street, just east of First Avenue. The garden, designed by Mr. Conway and completed in early October, greets the visitor with a forest of steel poles sporting bright red disks. All that’s missing from those circles is a bull’s-eye.

“That would have been too over the top,” he said in a recent conversation from his home in Tiverton, R.I. Mr. Conway, who stars in a PBS show, “The Cultivated Life,” and designs outdoor furniture for Target, noted that “those circles were a little bit of a nod” to the company, which provided $300,000 to build the garden in a vacant lot.
Really? Over the top? This makes at least two corporate parks Mr. Conway has now created for Target out of what once were community gardens. NYRP has already redesigned 30 of its 50 gardens, and has plans to do another dozen, leaving only 8 gardens untouched. If there's any community left when they're done, it will be unrecognizable, hidden behind corporate swag.

The pressure to be "open"

In Brooklyn, most community gardens are held by one of the following:
  • The afore-mentioned New York Restoration Project (NYRP)
  • The Brooklyn-Queens Land Trust (BQLT), part of the national Trust for Public Land (TPL)
  • New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks)
There are a handful of other holdings, including those on private property, but most spaces identified as community gardens in Brooklyn are held by one of these three.

In the bad old days, then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani placed many of the city's community gardens on the chopping block, as city-owned "vacant" land to be sold at auction for "development." The Trust for Public Land stepped in and bought many of these properties.

Bette Midler also came to the rescue:

Celebrated entertainer Bette Midler founded the nonprofit New York Restoration Project (NYRP) in 1995 in the belief that clean, green neighborhoods are fundamental to the quality of life, and that every community in New York City deserves an oasis of natural beauty. Seeing many parks and open spaces in dire need of cleanup and restoration, Ms. Midler created NYRP to be the "conservancy of forgotten places," particularly in New York City's underserved communities.
NYRP quickly raised millions of dollars and bought threatened properties outright, preserving them as gardens. 13 years later, NYRP wields tremendous clout; their 2006 financial statements show over $8million net assets, and over $8M annual revenues. That's a lot of money, and NYRP is under pressure from its sponsors to spend it somewhere, preferably with visible results. This means NYRP is landscaping and redesigning gardens, even when the community is not asking for it.

As more and more community gardens receive professional treatment, the communities of those gardens become less involved in their design and upkeep. Target Park is just an extreme example. The garden, the physical place, is taking precedent over the intangible associations of the hearts, minds, sweat and tears of neighbors working together to build community. With less community investment, gardens slide ever more toward becoming parks for passive enjoyment, and away from providing opportunities for people to dig, get their hands dirty, and connect with our birthright to nurture and grow green, living things.


Related Posts

Green With Envy (GWE) 2008 Tour III of Bed-Stuy Community Gardens


Map of Community Gardens after the settlement, Gotham Gazette
Bringing Peace to the Garden of Tranquility, Land & People, Fall 1999, Trust for Public Land
Community Gardens Memorandum of Agreement, September 17, 2002 (PDF)
Timeline of NYC community gardens
New York's Community Gardens: A History, TreeBranch Network
History of the 6th and B Garden in the East Village, Manhattan
The Community Garden Movement: Green Guerillas Gain Ground, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
Green Guerillas: New York City’s Community Gardens, EcoTipping Points Project

Healthy Spaces, for People and the Earth, Anne Raver, New York Times, 2008-11-05

Target Community Park, New York Restoration Project
GreenThumb NYC


90 Years Ago: The Malbone Street Wreck

On November 1, 1918, the worst transit disaster in New York City history occurred just outside Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The wooden cars of the Brighton Beach line of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit (B.R.T.) company left the tracks, crashing inside the tunnel beneath the busy intersection where Flatbush Avenue, Ocean Avenue and Malbone Street met [Google map]. The Malbone Street Wreck killed nearly 100 people and injured more than 250. Criminal trials and lawsuits arising from the accident dragged on for years, contributing to the bankruptcy of the BRT. The name "Malbone Street" became associated with the disaster; it's known today as Empire Boulevard.

Flatbush Daffodil Project, Fall 2008

WHAT: The Flatbush Daffodil Project was founded in 2007 by Flatbush Gardener and Stacey Bell and this year is co-sponsored by Sustainable Flatbush.

We have 1,650 daffodil bulbs and they are going in the ground! Come do some real community gardening with your neighbors, plant daffodil bulbs in tree pits and along the streetscape.

Here's the complete schedule of streets to be planted:

11/2 - Cortelyou Road
11/8 - Newkirk Avenue
11/9 - PS 139 and PS 217

November 2,9: meet in front of the clock on Cortelyou & Rugby Roads
November 8: meet in front of PS 217, Newkirk Avenue between Stratford
Road & Coney Island Avenue

WHEN: November 2, 8 and 9. 10AM to 1pm.

WHY: Plant bulbs in the fall, enjoy the flowers in the spring!

Related Posts



Fall Approaches, 2008

I've been watching fall advance locally: first the red of the Dogwoods, the yellow of the Locusts, the psychedelia of the White Ash. When my system gets back up and running, I'll have some photos of my own to share. Meanwhile, NASA treats us with their annual satellite perspective on the phenomenon. This is how it looked about two weeks ago.

Fall Color in the US Northeast
Fall was beginning to color the East Coast of the United States when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image on October 12, 2008. Orange touches trees in the north and at higher elevations, where temperatures are cooler. Lower elevations are still green. The fall color follows the sweep of the Appalachian Mountains through Pennsylvania, New York, and into New England.
- Fall Color in the US Northeast, NASA Earth Observatory
The image also illustrates the dense population of the East Coast. Cities are gray in this photo-like image. The greater New York City region covers a large area on the coast. Boston, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island are also clearly visible.

Related Posts



Fall Color in the US Northeast, NASA Earth Observatory

"Ditmas Park" in LifeStyler: So Wrong ...

North side of Dorchester Road between Rugby and Marlborough Roads, Ditmas Park West (not "Ditmas Park")
North side of Dorchester Road between Rugby and Marlborough Roads, Ditmas Park West

In their Neighborhood Watch feature today, LifeStyler - "offering tips to young adults in order to promote financial responsibility and fiscally responsible lifestyle choices" - interviews neighbors Ben and Liena of the Ditmas Park Blog:
We turn our attentions to Ditmas Park, one of the three Flatbush historic districts that feature beautiful Victorian houses and a low-key, family-friendly vibe. We spoke with Ben and Liena of Ditmas Park Blog for their takes on one of Brooklyn’s best-kept secrets, and how it is also in a state of change.
- Neighborhood Watch: Ditmas Park, Jeffrey L. Wilson, LifeStyler, 2008-10-22
Are we really such a secret, anymore? Victorian Flatbush was featured in This Old House, for the gods' sakes, over the summer as the best place in the U.S. to buy an old house in an urban area.

Since they make a point about "historic districts" - which, in NYC, means landmarked and protected by law - I have no qualms about being a stickler for geography. Presumably, the three historic districts they refer to are:
  • Ditmas Park
  • Prospect Park South
  • Fiske Terrace-Midwood Park, which is one district comprising two adjacent neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, LifeStyler chose to illustrate the interview with photos mostly from Ditmas Park West, which is lovely, but not landmarked, and is not part of Ditmas Park. They lifted all the photos from Flickr. They used three of my photos in violation of all three terms of my Creative Commons license:
  • non-commercial use (they have ads on their site)
  • non-derivative (they cropped the photos to fit their page layout)
  • attributed (they only provide my handle on two of the photos, and only one of them is linked to my Flickr site or blog)
Only one of my three photos is from Ditmas Park: a photo of a vegetable stand on Newkirk Avenue.

Kim's Market, 1521 Newkirk Avenue, Ditmas Park, Flatbush, Brooklyn
Kim's Market, 1521 Newkirk Avenue, Ditmas Park, Flatbush, Brooklyn

I have no time to investigate, but I suspect the other photographers licenses were violated as well. For the record, they are:
I'm not providing any links to LifeStyler's Web site. Why should I? They didn't link to any of their folks whose creative content they ripped off.