a slice of Sonoma in Southern Chester Co. PA

A journalist colleague of mine and I visited local winery Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery a couple of weeks ago for research on an exciting story we’re planning to do in the future. Galer is located right behind Longwood Gardens and is our favorite winery in the region for a handful of reasons. Here is a smattering of snapshots from our tour. It was a perfect little slice of Sonoma that afternoon!

Captions for many of these were posted to my Instagram @alessandra_official, please follow me there!

Later on my beau joined me for the sunset so his handsome smiling face is on here, too. 🙂

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20140620-111054-40254025.jpgJournalist and playwright Richard L. Gaw

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The Berkshires

I had the enlightening experience of attending a 2.5 day workshop about the Highly Sensitive Person personality trait over the weekend at the Kripalu Institute in Massachusetts. The workshop was conducted by Dr. Elaine Aron.

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20140602-154457-56697438.jpg“May Peace Prevail Throughout the World”

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Rainy Day Philly

I like to use my non-public Instagram account like it’s a sketchbook for inspiration for the days I dedicate to my drawing table for illustrating (Public Instas: @alessandra_official and @thetreegrows).

I liked a lot of the aerial perspective lines of rainy day Center City that led to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and imagination-inspiring things such as a rooftop tennis court. I also liked catching One Liberty Place peeking out from behind other buildings and in reflections at street level. Anthropomorphizing buildings and playing with the idea of uses for roof tops comes in handy when story boarding book projects and creating new settings.

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Tree update

Snow began to fall in Chester County, PA this afternoon causing a poetic hush over the land so I decided to grab my gloves and go see The New Tree. The landowner apparently had a new tree air lifted and planted right where the infamous one was before lightning brought it down in June. I was told that when he bought the property he was just as enamored with the tree as were many of us in the region and he made (obviously) heroic efforts to reestablish the alluring landscape it created.

Today was the first time I saw this replacement tree… and true, it still makes a great a picture, but it’s really not quite the same– and it’s not because I’m sentimental or a purist. The shape of this tree is different on the bottom; the branches do not create the same special aesthetic as the original Tree. This new tree will still get some face, lens, and paintbrush time out of me despite the differing nuance in silhouette but it does not possess the same level of captivation for me.

I had also deep down hoped they would plant a sapling and we would all get to enjoy seeing it grow year after year into something of it’s own. I didn’t expect a whole mature tree to be uprooted and transplanted in it’s place.

The spell has been broken! and in my peripheral I will be scanning horizons for a new Tree muse. My “This Little Girl / The Tree Grows” project will be paying homage to the original Tree up on the Hill that provided the catalyst to a literary transformation in me and my creative work. (More on that in the coming New Year!)

See the original Requiem for a Tree blog post HERE.

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For Anita

I lost a friend and an irreplaceable, impeccably kindred spirit just before Thanksgiving suddenly and much sooner than I ever, ever expected. She was just 31. Beyond that, I really have no words for it.

Turning down a lane behind Barnard Orchards in Chester County, PA this foggy misty morning I drank in this tranquility, and wept.

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Reunited

I was a diehard Blackberry user when my Pearl died in a puddle of beer at a Levon Helm show in Philadelphia 5 years ago and because my cellphone carrier wouldn’t give me a break on a replacement, I was forced into getting the iPhone 3. Like Dorothy crossing the threshold from Kansas to Oz, the technological upgrade changed drastically the way I saw the world around me and my compulsion to capture the moments that reach out to me.

Below is a reworked version of one of the first iPhone images I made. At the time, this composition to me was about two lovers in another time reuniting in each other’s arms once more.

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day tripper

Near the top of my list of Most Romantic Experiences is taking a train ride up to NYC on a lazy Sunday, just for the day. NY Times in my lap, his head resting on my shoulder, swaying in a train… We arrive comfortable, relaxed and emerge into the city unencumbered by the usual gear, baggage; untethered to any vehicle. Free as a bird. Grab your mate by the hand and try it!

November!

I read a quote online recently that I can’t seem to relocate but the essence of it was something like this:

Who will regard your dying as beautiful?

Those of us in love with the season of Autumn as much as I must on some level regard aging and letting go as a beautiful process; a glorious celebration in bursts of colour, sexy textures, smokey scents. Summer’s tantrum is through and the following season is an eloquent, sensual eulogy before a snowy funeral, really; at least if you live in an area that experiences four proper seasons.

Where else in life do we regard the aging and dying process as such a gorgeous one? What if we were to embrace it in each other with such revelry, presence, appreciation as well?

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Posting this from a silver bullet in the shape of a vehicle on its way up the NJTP to New York City where we are spending the weekend; a lil bit of work and a whole lotta play!

The temps are unseasonably warm for October this year but the foliage is still popping with colour! Autumn brings elegant passion and beauty to dying. It’s such a brilliant and tactile season of vibrancy, crunch; the scent of smoke and apples, the gentle contrast of a chill in the evening paired with a renewed and electric awareness of the warmth of your lover’s cheek so close to yours. This is undeniably my most favorite of the four seasons.

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Maki, 18, rest in peace

Sad day in Alessandraland. My beloved little buddy passed away this morning and I was told while visiting the Barnes collection today. He lived a long, long life and was loved dearly; will be missed by this girl very much; the cat that converted an “I’m not a cat person” into a cat person for life. Hug em if you got em tonight.

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“Sit! Stay! Hrm…oh, alright.” 🙂

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Heaven is Now

“Heaven is here — you just have to know how to live it. And hell too is here, and you know perfectly well how to live it. It is only a question of changing your perspective, your approach towards life. The earth is beautiful. If you start living its beauty, enjoying its joys you are in paradise. If you condemn everything, then the same earth turns into a hell — only for you. It depends on you where you live, it is a question of your own inner transformation. It is not a change of place, it is a change of inner space. Live joyously, guiltlessly, live totally. And then heaven is no more a metaphysical concept, it is your own experience.”
-Osho

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Bailey’s Dairy Farm

Enjoying every moment so far of the second day of Autumn here in Chester County, PA. This is one of those places that breathes life back into me again. These cows always seem to be in perfect contentment! I just love to see them graze.

A breath away from this serenity is an atrocity that is a Toll Bros. housing development. It is one of the (many) great travesties in America “culture” that a land development company can knock down a bunch of trees, fill the acres with uninspired made-to-order houses, and further insult the region by calling this cramped new neighborhood “The Preserves”. “Cut down all the trees and name the streets after them…”

The dairy farm after “The Preserves” helps me believe in humanity again.

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For me and my family personally, September 11 was a reminder that life is fleeting, impermanent, and uncertain. Therefore, we must make use of every moment and nurture it with affection, tenderness, beauty, creativity, and laughter.
-Deepak Chopra, M.D.

The short story: Today twelve years ago, I became a photographer.

I was working in Washington, DC for the United States Dep’t of Transportation at the time — occasionally I’d be working in our small office located inside of the Pentagon, more often I would be on travel anywhere domestically from Seattle to Miami, LA to Boston. This particular Tuesday I could’ve been on a flight slated for California but hijacked to PA, NY, or VA. I very easily could’ve been sitting in a chair in our office in a wing of the Pentagon.

Instead, I had been assigned to a federal building in lower Manhattan for the week and took the train up with some coworkers from Washington Monday afternoon. I spent a truly carefree evening of September 10th dining and drinking and laughing with a photographer friend of mine in Brooklyn before walking through the World Trade Center plaza on my way to an adjacent hotel for the night.

I was traveling so frequently at the time that my friends and family really had no idea where in the country I was when the news broke- most of them thinking I was at the Pentagon until they finally received word the evening of 9/11/01 that I was in fact in the thick of it in NYC.

Below was my view-from-the-office that morning, the 41st floor of the U.S. Department of Justice, Immigrations and Naturalizations at 26 Federal Plaza on Broadway, a handful of blocks from the World Trade Center. The 2nd plane impacted Tower 1 just a second before this frame was taken. A couple of my coworkers were scheduled to be in our I.R.S. location located inside one of the Twin Towers a couple of days later. I bought all the rolls of Fuji and Kodak the bodega had at ground level after we were evacuated from the building, and, loosely tethered to my coworkers, lived the events as they unfolded around us in a mixture of naked-eye shock and through the viewfinder of my Nikon.

I have had a compulsion to document, archive, appreciate and be fully alive in this precious present ever since.

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12 Years Ago

Auspicious Beginnings

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Today is Ganesh’s birthday! Hindus celebrate the birthday of Lord Ganesh for Auspicious Beginnings. This particular likeness lives in the foyer of my boyfriend’s studio. He found it in a sea port town on the west coast of India while traveling. I find almost anything elephant-related to be auspicious so I like to acknowledge the birthday.

Ganesh on Wkipedia

HuffPost article about the 11-day festival

Upward Spiral

A friend of mine sent me a regular iPhone snapshot of where he was yesterday and I did a quick edit (under 20 seconds) and created this fun image:

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Care to guess what it is? If I get any guesses I’ll post the original photo here too.

UPDATE: getting some cool guesses on Facebook:

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Final Update:
My old friend Jason guessed correct. It’s the great spiral staircase at the massive three-story Apple store in Boston. Here’s the original snap:

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