AMBER SEXTON New York City 917-207-2375

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Building a cat climbing wall

image by Amber Sexton

So I’ve mostly finished building a cat climbing wall. It needs more attached toys and some finishing touches and my walls need paint. But I will put up this photo of my cat Otis using it for now, though he had to be somewhat bribed with treats. Because it is a minor triumph of my silliness.

Posted by Amber Sexton on 06/06 at 07:29 PM
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Family vacation in Westbrook CT

image by Amber Sexton

So here are some of my pictures of my sisters, and their cousins, my neice at the beach. Westbrook is on the Long Island Sound, the Sound is very calm like a lake, but still salty and with tides. My dad and his wife rent a place there every year now for the last eight years. So it’s become a family tradition.

image by Amber Sexton

I don’t know what more to say really…I don’t have any kids but it’s always neat to take pictures of the kids because they are doing stuff, also they are my family and sweet girls.

image by Amber Sexton

image by Amber Sexton

We had a fire on the beach, and I’ve never been up there when there was a fire. The neighbors always seem to have fires and set off fireworks. This year we had sparklers, and I remembered all the joy of sparklers, and also burning blisters onto my fingers touching the hot wire when the sparkler was spent.

image by Amber Sexton

The neighbors, also use glow sticks, and set off roman candles, we are sparkler only people.

image by Amber Sexton

The neighbors also light sky lanterns, which are positively transfixing floating across the sky. I didn’t have a lens to take an image that would make it look like anything other than a glowing dot. Or a series of them, because they sent out several. I thought they were so beautiful, but I also couldn’t shake how irresponsible it was to send a flame out in a little balloon in the sky. Of course it seemed like it was fine, but my stepmom had seen one fall and hit a house once and go out. Luckily it did, it’s litter being dropped somewhere out of your eyeshot also. Still it was a guilty pleasure, looking at these glowing floating flames fly off into the distance and wink out when they got too tiny to see. I hoped that they really went out at that point and never caught anything on fire and were just living a short life that I didn’t have to be nervous about. But I’m more the sparklers type, where you know if you do something dumb, then it’s just your own fingers to worry about.

image by Amber Sexton

Posted by Amber Sexton on 07/22 at 03:46 PM
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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Steam City

image by Amber Sexton

So I posted an incident on facebook the other day, I was walking on 9th Avenue a woman with a British accent said to her friend “Why does steam come out of the sewers here it’s so disgusting.” I turned around and explained we have a steam system with underground pipes that Con Ed pumps into some buildings and sometimes you can see it come out of the top.

It never occurred to me that someone would not know about the steam system, but then I realized it’s unusual. I’m just from here and simply used to it as a part of the infrastructure. Even for New Yorkers it can be mysterious and easily forgotten, still it sometimes escapes out into the street, and you remember it’s there. It’s not quite like turning on a light, so you don’t notice it. I don’t even know if the building I work in uses it, though there are steam vents right outside. It of course doesn’t feel very modern, but it’s an amazing system and I have been poking around on Con Edison and wikipedia, most other articles on the internet seem to be using these two as sources.

image by Amber Sexton


From ConEd

“...New York Steam’s first central steam boiler plant, located at Cortlandt, Dey, Greenwich, and Washington Streets, was completed in 1881 and included 48 boilers and a 225-foot chimney — at the time, it was one of the tallest features of the lower New York skyline, second only to the spire of Trinity Church. The district steam installation was so novel it was the cover story of the November 19, 1881 issue of Scientific American.

On March 3, 1882, the company supplied steam to its first customer, the United Bank Building at 88-92 Broadway, on the corner of Wall Street. By December 1882, New York Steam boasted 62 customers. By 1886, the firm had 350 customers and five miles of mains, and began an expansion uptown. The system proved its reliability by operating throughout the deadly blizzard of March 11-14, 1888. Through the years, the company expanded and made numerous improvements in the design of steam meters, controls, insulation, and even the pipes themselves.

The company built by Wallace Andrews was to go on to even greater success during the 20th century, but he was not to see it. During the night of April 7, 1899, Andrews and much of his family perished in a house fire. His brother-in-law, G.C. St. John, who was out of town when the tragic fire occurred, was made president of the company and guided it for more than a decade during a prolonged legal battle over Andrews’ will.

The paralyzing effects of the litigation made necessary a financial reorganization that lasted from 1918 to 1921, but ultimately left the company, now called the New York Steam Corporation, prepared for a new era of expansion. By 1932, the tremendous Kips Bay Station (occupying the entire block along the East River between 35th and 36th Streets) and five other stations provided steam to more than 2,500 buildings. Among them were some of New York’s most famous landmarks: Grand Central Terminal, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Daily News Building, Tudor City, Pennsylvania Station and Hotel, and Rockefeller Center. Just about every new skyscraper was a testament to the efficiency and reliability of steam service: most were built without smokestacks or individual heating plants.

During the 1930s, the New York Steam Company maintained mutually beneficial business arrangements that would be a portent of its eventual consolidation. The company supplied steam to the Consolidated Gas Company and its affiliated gas and electric companies in Manhattan. In turn, The New York Edison Company supplied steam from its Waterside and Fourteenth Street electric generating stations during the morning hours on cold days to help meet peak energy needs. In 1932, Consolidated Gas acquired approximately 75 percent of New York Steam’s common stock, and on March 8, 1954, the New York Steam Company fully merged with Consolidated Edison.

Today, Con Edison operates the largest district steam system in the United States. The system contains 105 miles of mains and service pipes, providing steam for heating, hot water, and air conditioning to approximately 1,800 customers in Manhattan.”


image by Amber Sexton

Steam can be co generated at the same time as electricity so it’s considered more green than some other types of heat. But yet, the central steam system only serves a portion of Manhattan, none of the boroughs and probably has seen the end of it’s expansion. We’ve also had a few steam pipe explosions in my memory. This is one of the more recent ones that I recall. I remember an older one in Gramercy which contaminated some people’s apartments with asbestos and killed two workers. New York, on the infrastructure cutting edge during the industrial age, now seems to posses a patchwork of decaying systems which may fail spectacularly at any time. Yet steam is still mostly just chugging along, you don’t hear about it until something goes wrong, people don’t tend to complain about the prices or anything since all the customers are commercial, entire buildings rather than individuals paying a bill.

When it’s wet, big orange and white plastic stacks come out over the steam manholes, water hitting the hot pipes turns to vapor and has to vent. And that can be beautiful. There’s no doubt that the steam in the city has a very noir movie feel. At night if you are where there are steam vents it can seem like the small clouds coming from ground level and the tops of buildings are setting the scene for New York, to play the part of New York in a film. It’s good to step off a curb in your heels and get in a cab at these moments, or pull your hat down over your face and your coat tighter, so you can be an extra passing through the narrative. Leave your small trace in the vaporous night and disappear.

image by Amber Sexton

Posted by Amber Sexton on 05/17 at 05:22 PM
New York • (2) CommentsPermalink

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mom feeding the ducks

image by Amber Sexton

This is my mom feeding ducks on a vacation she took. It’s a nice way to think of her. One of her immutable qualities was instinctual and widespread generosity. Another was her love of animals. Anyway today is one of the days I miss my mom. I have never belonged to anyone like I belonged to my mom, and no one has ever belonged to me either other than her. And I will always miss her, yet I’m also OK by now with her not being there. Happy Mothers day everyone.

Posted by Amber Sexton on 05/11 at 02:26 PM
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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lime shortage desperation: Mineola Tangelito

image by Amber Sexton

If you are fellow traveller in home mixology and live on the east coast, you are likely paying out the ass for the saddest looking limes, if you can get them. Conserving limes, thinking of alternatives, I thought I would use some of one of my fave citrus fruits, the sour sweet Mineola Tangelo in a mojito. And it’s a yummy thing if not the same as lime, because what really is. It’s not sweet like many other oranges, and very piquant so it can help replace the tang of your missing lime.

A mojito is a drink I don’t normally measure, and you can adjust to taste, but I did measure things here just to write out the recipe. Another note is I used to be a very vigorous muddler, and now I try to be gentler with the mint. Aggressive crushing of the mint brings out a lot of grassy taste from the leaves and it can be really more fragrant and nice without serious mashing, you can use more mint or decide what level of crushing you like.

For this I used:
3 oz Smith & Cross gold rum (so much molasses taste in this rum, if you like white rum which is more trad for a mojito do that)
1/2 a pathetic ping pong ball sized lime (omit if you have none ha ha ha)
1 healthy fat wedge of Mineola Tangelo
1 wedge of same for garnish
A couple sprigs of mint
1/2-3/4 oz of simple or gomme syrup, or superfine sugar to taste.
Seltzer to top off your glass
Crushed ice

Crush some ice via whatever method and place in the bottom of your glass, it will stand up your mint sprig real nice, add your wedge of orange garnish too. Squeeze whatever you can get out of your sad lime half, same for the nice chunk of tangelo into your shaker, muddle, then add mint leaves and lightly crush trying not to really mash the leaves. Add your sweetener and rum, and shake with whole ice cubes till chilled. Taste and adjust sweetener if needed. Once it’s how you like it, strain into your glass and top with soda.

Sip while dabbing your dewy brow in the heat, real or imagined.

image by Amber Sexton

Posted by Amber Sexton on 04/27 at 07:20 PM
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Thursday, April 03, 2014

Rollei film backlog—finis, the end, sayonara

image by Amber Sexton

I really like this last batch and I could not decide what to start with and what to make the opener for a while. Still not sure I got that right but I’m proceeding as if this were not a crucial UN negotiation and just a blog post that a couple dozen people will check out. I think I’ve got a good opener and a great closer for this post. This is a final peachy roll of beachy images and that’s my little sister Zoe with a cute saggy nappy.

Ok this is my biggest little sister and my neice.


image by Amber Sexton

Props on the nice butt. I think it’s OK to say that, my sis and all.

image by Amber Sexton

Oh maybe that was not OK to mention, because I think she’s a bit mad.

image by Amber Sexton

My sister Oona who is still this kind of sugar bear in sweetness, as she is in this pic, though bigger now. Much bigger.

image by Amber Sexton

Ok with this last photo of Tara sunning on a cloudy day, let’s leave the Connecticut coast of the Long Island Sound.

This is the last of my New Orleans shots and I think I finally got some OK pictures of my dear pal Margaret in the bunch and I like these photos.

image by Amber Sexton

Margaret is one of those stealth cool people who not enough people know is awesome. But you can kind of tell in these.

image by Amber Sexton

So before I give you the last pic of Marg, a couple more places.

image by Amber Sexton

And these are the only two pictures that came out of the Ernie K-Doe wax figure at the Mother In Law Lounge. The pics of the face didn’t come out.

image by Amber Sexton

That isn’t my light there was a photographer there for an interview of Antoinette.

image by Amber Sexton

And now, Margaret has had just about enough of my shit. Which she really had enough of the day we went to that bar because she was definitely hit on involuntarily by Guitar Lightnin’ Lee. But this pic is from when we went to the swamp.

image by Amber Sexton

And now I leave you with this picture of Jackson Square which is a perfect send off to this project, it feels like the end of a Disney movie, you scroll up and then there’s just sky. Curtain.

image by Amber Sexton

I’m glad I did this project, and I’m glad it’s over. I really feel that metaphorically time forgave me for the neglect of my work, it touched the edges of the film and made it softer and more mysterious. The fogging did not end up signaling ruin, or indicting me, it feels like forgiveness and love. That’s the message I’m deciding to take away from this. That it’s never too late to value myself and attend to my creativity, forgive my lapses and pick up art anew. I made this commitment to myself and followed through and it made me happy. The End.

Posted by Amber Sexton on 04/03 at 08:12 PM
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Penultimate Rollei Backlog post

image by Amber Sexton

So I got a bit derailed on these last two posts. When I got the second to last batch of film it was hard to get excited about, and difficult to unify the topics. Then my monitor died, and doing the color correcting wasn’t possible till that was dealt with. In the end I just decided to use only frames from New Orleans and the beach houseand skip the further images from the memorial service. Maybe I will add them to the last post if that makes sense.

I’m glad this is nearly over because I am a bit tired of going back to these subjects over and over. I am burning out on looking back this far and I can’t wait to look at new things when I get a little work done on the shutter speeds of the camera.

So this is a cemetery shrine, but I can’t remember which one it is in New Orleans. And here are a couple more images from that place.

image by Amber Sexton


image by Amber Sexton

And this is some street I can’t remember which.

image by Amber Sexton


Here are two more of the swamp. The swamp is so beautiful and magical, I doubt pictures really do it any justice.


image by Amber Sexton


image by Amber Sexton


So segue into the photos of my little relatives when they were much littler. Here are some daisies.

image by Amber Sexton

My sister Oona as a baby girl.
image by Amber Sexton


My sister Zoe, also as a little nubbin.
image by Amber Sexton


Kai with the hose, and Ajali and Oona.
image by Amber Sexton


And little Oona such a tender button.
image by Amber Sexton


So one of the deals I made with myself is that I wouldn’t look at the last batch till I got through putting this one up, and I haven’t. But it is here, so I can look at it and I can be relieved that this is all in the books and a completed project.

Posted by Amber Sexton on 03/30 at 10:06 PM
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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Go-Kart cocktail

image by Amber Sexton

So I’m back to making cocktail posts, I’ve actually been exploring a lot of new drinks but I’ve not been thrilled with the photographs. But it’s just become time to post another recipe. This is one I have worked on myself, and it’s really simple and not super special or anything but I made it. I am focusing on fruit based drinks, spirits, liqueurs this year for trying new things. That’s because I’ve limited funds and when I buy a couple of these bottles I have to find lots of ways to use them.

In the fall I made a huge batch of orgeat syrup. And I realized I have to find ways to use it other than in Mai Tai’s. Mai Tai’s are a favorite of mine and I couldn’t really do a more perfect post than this one. And it has a photo by my old friend Tony Cenicola. But I digress, I realized that I had a huge amount of orgeat (which btw I made with this recipe here.) And I knew orgeat is good in a Japanese cocktail, so it goes well in brandy and cognac. But I only had apple brandy and I knew I didn’t want a drink as sweet as the traditional Japanese cocktail. So I came up with this, which seemed like it was in the family of the Side Car, the Jack Rose and the Japanese cocktail so I called it the Go-Kart.

For this drink you need either an American apple brandy or Calvados, and it shouldn’t be an expensive Calvados, one made with apples only and no pears. I’ve made this drink with two kinds of the more alcoholic apple jack too. But it’s more got more of a fruity apple flavor with something like Laird’s 7-1/2 year brandy or Calvados. The Laird’s aged stuff is not always around but you can usually get all kinds of Calvados. I made this one with some Groult Pays d’Auge, which is 3 years old made of apples only and around $30-$35. It is nicer with an older apple brandy, but price can be an issue of course.

So the recipe is:
2 oz apple brandy of your choice
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz orgeat syrup
4-5 healthy shakes of Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters

Shake or stir with ice as desired, strain into a chilled glass.

I’ve tried numerous bitters, every one in the house, in this drink. All of them were good, but many overpowered the apple notes, which was surprisingly easy to do. The rhubarb bitters has an acidic cherry brightness going for it and it works so well with the apple, and the natural slightly cherry taste of the almonds that make up orgeat. I liked that there wasn’t a dominant spice taste, which stands up better in a whiskey drink.

image by Amber Sexton

I wish I had some stem-on cocktail cherries, I’ve vowed not to buy anymore of the artificially colored bastards. I meant to make my own last summer but laziness and busted brokeness took over. A Luxardo cherry is delicious in this but it’s kind of ugly. So this is lacking a garnish. An apple slice just seemed really cliche. Anyway this is tested on friends and paramours and gets a thumbs up.

Posted by Amber Sexton on 02/13 at 09:10 PM
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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rollei film backlog, three mermaids and a funeral

image by Amber Sexton

So as I expected this is a very mixed group of film. Here are three frames from the same Mermaid Parade I’ve posted on before. I liked this first one best. None of the frames are spectacular but it’s definitely reminding me of time not so long ago when you could really still easily enjoy the parade.

image by Amber Sexton

image by Amber Sexton

So let’s segue with some pictures of the ocean taken from Riis Park.

image by Amber Sexton


image by Amber Sexton


So now I have some photos from the memorial of my great aunt Dudley Byrd, who I still miss and was definitely one of the most singular and interesting people I’ve ever known. My sister and brother and cousins are in these and it’s in Virginia. It’s very like this part of the family to play music and have a picnic and be outside for nearly all important events. It was still a sad time but you can’t tell in these pictures. Anyway, I love the folks in these pictures, but it’s totally weird to me that I was taking pictures. I guess I’m a strange person. Or maybe it’s just an emotional crutch.

 

My brother Brendan and sister Tara.
image by Amber Sexton

 

My cousin Charlotte Littlehales and my great uncle Bates Littlehales, who is quite the legendary photographer.
image by Amber Sexton

 

My little cousin Nicholas Littlehales-Staton, when he was just quite a lot littler, he’s a teenager now.
image by Amber Sexton

 

My sister and Terri Allard she is a wonderful musician even though she’s not playing here.
image by Amber Sexton


So, this feels like the film in the drawer is going out with a little bit of a whimper. Two batches left, but I haven’t been able to send one off this week because it’s a little tight around here. I’ve also got some more E-6 film in that group and I’ve got to decide whether to cross process it like the other two rolls, or not. But I’ll probably delay that decision till the last.

Posted by Amber Sexton on 01/19 at 12:20 AM
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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Rollei film backlog, Coney Island and an old birthday

image by Amber Sexton

So this is film from an old Mermaid Parade, I can’t tell what year but perhaps my friends know because I captured the Otto’s Shrunken Head float from that year. Most of the pictures I took with my Rollei at this parade are not particularly good. I’m not that great of a doc type shooter. Anyway these are fun and less bad than some of the others I’ve taken.

image by Amber Sexton


image by Amber Sexton


image by Amber Sexton


And let’s have some from that float.

image by Amber Sexton


image by Amber Sexton


image by Amber Sexton

And let’s ride off from the parade with some more cars

image by Amber Sexton


image by Amber Sexton


So these last pics are from my little twin sisters second birthday. They are nine now. The baby boy is my nephew Masai who is 8 now.

image by Amber Sexton


I could tell what birthday this was from the candle in this pic, those things are good visual aids for photos.


image by Amber Sexton


image by Amber Sexton


image by Amber Sexton

Everything from here on out was not sorted by subject, so I expect a the last 15 rolls will also jump around subjects and maybe back to one of these again. Almost done.

Posted by Amber Sexton on 12/28 at 05:17 PM
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Rollei film backlog, end of the year mishmash

image by Amber Sexton
This shot is in McCarren park, back when the Saturday farmer’s market was actually within the park.

So this is the end of the year and time to evaluate how I did on my New Year’s resolution to develop all my old Rollei film. I did pretty well though I did not finish. I have 15 rolls left, I guess I should have counted them all but it was definitely over 75 so it means I developed 60 rolls. I think what was good about it was the archeology of my life that it was, and my ability to look at a lot of bad photos, and it somehow having lower stakes because the film was so old. I did find little bits of charm and the occasional unexpected happy accident, which is a good outcome of the self sabotage of putting film a drawer for 7 years. I’m sorry to see it end in a way.

image by Amber Sexton
That’s also McCarren, which all the locals will know immediately.

I have two posts to put up by the end of the year (including this one I guess, so one down!) Because I’ve gotten two batches processed since I last updated. I will send three more batches and then it will all be over, this will go into next year, by less than a couple months. Then it’s up to me to keep shooting with my Rollei, along with my phone and DSLR. Then I’m committed to getting the shutter speeds on the camera looked at and seeing if I can get the viewfinder magnifier adjusted to align better with the glass, that is my resolution on it for 2014. I’ve already gotten a bright screen put in during a previous repair of the camera. In the time since I’ve bought this camera I’ve developed the need for reading glasses which makes using it a bit difficult and I have to come up with a process that works better.

There is film from my neighborhood in Brooklyn, New Orleans, the swamp tour I took when I was there which is not in the city but close to Slidell, and a roll from Venice which I guess fell out of bag and became part of my uncategorized hoard. Let’s put up the Venice frame here because it’s cute it’s the symbolic winged lion.

image by Amber Sexton

Here are pictures from the swamp, this film is E-6 that I didn’t remember shooting and I went ahead and asked them to cross process it. Oddly E-6 was more expensive processing at the mail away lab, which is odd to me as a person who worked as a photo assistant in the days of shooting chrome, when it was such high volume, and there were no prints or contacts so it was the cheapest processing.

image by Amber Sexton

image by Amber Sexton

 

image by Amber Sexton

A couple from the St. Louis Cemetery. Not nearly as good as the negative film I shot there, which was perhaps the best stuff that came out of this.


image by Amber Sexton


image by Amber Sexton


Somewhere in New Orleans, I don’t know the city well enough to say where.

image by Amber Sexton


One of the things about doing this in blog form is I decided the photos didn’t have to be good, some of them were, at least I enjoyed a few. But it was OK with me if they weren’t because most of them were not going to be and this was a project about dealing with procrastination and inadequacy to begin with. It started with a failure, in that 70-80 rolls of exposed film in a drawer is a defeat already, so my thoughts on it were it’s only up from there. I don’t know why I was willing to face that particular flaw this year but I am glad I was finally ready. If I died suddenly and they all would likely end up in the trash anyway, or I could have chucked them to leave behind any guilt for letting it get that way. That could have been a resolution too, for some people that might have been the choice to make. So I hope any of you who watched this unfold enjoyed it or sympathized with it. There will be four more installments and then it’s over, that’s good I think. On to new things.

image by Amber Sexton

Posted by Amber Sexton on 12/24 at 12:15 AM
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

A review of my Christmas reading on People.com

Hey I did another mini review at People.com, this one is a book that my mother and I used to read aloud to each other during the holidays. I miss her so much. It’s actually a great book for kids, and I’m rereading it this Christmas and thinking of my mom.

image by Amber Sexton

Posted by Amber Sexton on 12/12 at 10:54 PM
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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Love is not a victory march

image by Amber Sexton

I’ve been trying to write about and also process something profoundly sad which has happened in my family. My cousin Israel Hersh has six children with his wife Lareina (known as Lori but I don’t know how she spells that), and three of them were killed in a terrible car accident. His children Julianna, Jeremiah and Jessa died, his son Joseph survived the accident with barely a scratch. I’m told Joseph kept his brother alive for two hours waiting for help to arrive, for that, as my own brother said, he is a hero.

*

I’ve had differences with my cousin, we’ve gone through periods of facebook chatting a lot, to recent estrangement. Since early childhood though, we’ve not spent a lot of physical time together. His parents moved their family far away at a certain point and they mostly broke off contact with us in the 80’s and 90’s. I won’t go into the background of all that because it’s not particularly relevant to say here. It’s just shorthand to explain barriers to us being a close extended family for much of our lives, even though we are first cousins. I did reconnect with my cousin in his teens during a difficult time, and since then we had been in sporadic touch until a recent year when I just became angry with the social media arguments we had been having and I cut him off. I rebuffed his few attempts to reconnect.

My cousin is a few years younger than me but has built a large family of six children with his wife, and I have remained single with cats and no offspring. We don’t have the same spiritual or religious leanings and our politics are diametrically opposed, so there are cultural as well as physical distances between us and I guess we are not very alike. When something of this magnitude happens you realize how thin those differences can be, the truest part is that you are family. Anything that he had said in the past to irritate me dissolved in the face of this, I felt how petty the reasons I had to be estranged from him were. I felt a little small when I got the number from my dad and called him, because I wasn’t feeling too proud of myself. The first thing he said to me when we spoke was “I love you Amber.” That was just heartbreaking.

This type of loss has to be more than anyone is likely to bear in a lifetime, and just in a single day to lose that much has to be the limit of human endurance. I listened to him tell me of how much he loved his children and how painful it was. And he relayed their last day together as a family was Julianna’s birthday, just the day before. They had all been together making music, being a loving family together, and how he had almost missed being there that last day. Because he had been scheduled to do out of town work, but he turned his car around and drove back for her birthday, which they had been going to postpone celebrating till the following weekend. My cousin Israel is such a loving father, that really comes through, how much he deeply loved and loves all his children, he and his wife have no regrets of love not given. I am proud of them for that, its a beautiful achievement and really one of the best things you can do with your life.

My dad flew out, and my brother Brendan drove in the very first weekend after the tragedy. Israel’s younger brother Shules dropped everything and went there and stayed for the duration, he is just in every sense a mensch. I flew in for the service later, and my brother met me at the Phoenix airport and drove us to Chino Valley.  I felt very inadequate but just my instinct was just to show how sorry I was and give my love as best as I can. My cousin Shules was a such a solid brother to Israel, not only writing and giving a portion of the eulogy but being a logistical rock, including other family relationships more fraught with drama. He’s really a great guy, he’s trying to get us all to be closer and do things together in the future. To stop having a weddings and funerals sort of relationship.

The service was very touching, full of love and music. Israel delivered an extended and poignant eulogy for each child, and the siblings wrote and read letters written by themselves and Lori. It was a very devoutly Christian service, as the Hersh family is extremely committed to their faith and spend a lot of time in their church. A local celebrity Drew came and sang a song, If I Die Young, that just brought me to tears and it was ringing in my ears for days. I looked it up after, and it is a popular song, but the original version is not performed as sad as it was that day.

Here is the video which was shown at the funeral, which I only had the courage to watch again just prior to starting to write this post. Jeremiah is singing the Leonard Cohen song “Hallelujah” at the very beginning. Heartrending for sure.

I felt so lacking because I’d never met any of Israel’s children, that is something I will always regret. Julianna had come to NYC as a teen which Israel was frantically worried about and asked me a million questions. I had wanted to meet her and her friends, but I think she wanted to strike out on her own and not have family eyes on her and so she never got in touch when she was in my town. I’m sorry that I didn’t know her, or any of my littler cousins, and I had to introduce myself to all the remaining Hersh kids at the service.

I hope the memorial helped the family, it was beautiful and full of love. When my mom died, I know that her service helped me. I think of it often and it still heals me to remember what love and regard people had for her. I hope the same for the Hershes. Perhaps the worst suffering is unanswered suffering. It was gratifying to see a huge turnout from their community in their church and town, their pain was seen and heard and felt by all around them and was witnessed. The town of Prescott/Chino Valley, which experienced the loss of those 19 firefighters in that terrible wildfire, arranged for the Hershes to bury Julianna, Jeremiah and Jessa in plots right next to them. The rawest part for me was at the cemetery. There was a lot more silence there, and it’s a larger hole needed for three coffins than you are used to seeing at a funeral. I hope I’m never at a triple funeral again, and that no one else ever is either. A cemetery in the desert is different than what I’d experienced before. In the east these are very manicured, with miles of headstones, and it feels like a controlled environment, well landscaped and softened by human design. I’ve even visited a famous cemetery in Los Angeles to see the sights, as a tourist. This was a very different cemetery, it was either new, or this was an unused part of it, the earth was raw there wasn’t grass or manicured bushes and flowers because this is the desert of Arizona. There were no headstones, there were iron wreaths as grave markers and benches for the firefighters, but the rest of it was the scrub vegetation, and the bare honest soil. We all threw handfuls of dirt and before the last bit of service there was a great deal of silence, I was sitting behind the Israel and Lori and the kids. That was the rawest bit for me, it was the most profound reality. What a terrible silence it is to lose your children or your siblings, how empty that space is that they occupied in life.

My cousin and his family are deeply devoted believers in Jesus and in heaven, so they trust that they will see their beloved family members again. Amen.


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About the photo above. I brought my Rollei because I think I needed some kind of crutch to distract me or feel like I had an outlet when I couldn’t figure out how to help. I took this picture from the parking lot of the church. I don’t know why I did it, or if it was a good idea, or if it was selfish and about me. I certainly knew I wasn’t going to take any pictures of the bereaved or of the service. I just seem to take phone pictures regardless of how I’m feeling, and using the film camera felt less flippant and more serious than that (though I took pictures with my phone too.) People also notice a vintage camera so it’s something you can talk about when you feel awkward.

Julianna was a musician, and played many open mikes and was a gifted songwriter. An album will come out next year which includes some material she recorded and tributes from other musicians. When they looked on her computer they found a brand new song she had written and made a video of on it. Apparently her guitar playing didn’t come through, so one of her friends watched her fingering and figured out the chords and added the guitar later. The drum she received for her birthday right before she died, so the friend added that too.

Here is that incredibly haunting and beautiful video

Jessa did a lot of equestrian school with her older sister Jazmyn with her pony that Santa Claus got her. I took a picture of it while her brother Jacoby told me about all the family’s horses. Here is a picture of her pony. It is red-headed like her. I think the family is going to give it to another little girl who will enjoy it.

image by Amber Sexton

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I think everything that I wrote here is factually accurate, but if anything is wrong I will update and annotate this post.

Posted by Amber Sexton on 11/23 at 04:46 PM
Opinion • (2) CommentsPermalink

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rollei film backlog, a gray day at the beach

image by Amber Sexton

This will be a brief post. Maybe these photos aren’t good enough for a post, but they are here and I’m charmed to remember my niece at this age.


image by Amber Sexton

My sister is still exactly the same as this. I love her.

image by Amber Sexton

Except now she’s a doctor, pretty badass. She’s laughing here, she’s actually the funniest person I know, by an order of magnitude.

image by Amber Sexton

She probably won’t like these pictures that much. But she’s beautiful, and also just a great person.

image by Amber Sexton

Posted by Amber Sexton on 11/20 at 11:47 PM
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Rollei film backlog..truly the last of film from Venice

image by Amber Sexton

So the last batch of five rolls I sent in had what are truly my last rolls from Italy, and one random one which turned out to be beach and family pictures. And in a twist I actually ran a new roll of film through the camera. It reminded me that it does need work on speeds and possibly the focusing magnifier needs to be aligned. Also it’s harder to use now that I require reading glasses. Anyway I’m breaking up the posts of these bits of film because it is hard to connect it all. I think this picture above is one of the nicer ones I did of San Marco, though it’s a drab day.

Hello and goodbye Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice.

image by Amber Sexton
Picasso glass sculptures

image by Amber Sexton
Calder wire sculpture

image by Amber Sexton
Calder piece outside, with guy unwittingly mimicking it.


image by Amber Sexton
The “tail” of the sculpture


image by Amber Sexton
Pretty sure this is the boat dock of the museum.


All this sort of qualifies as a drab day for nice scenery. I think this is from the sole gondola ride I took.
image by Amber Sexton

A nice bridge, I forget which one.
image by Amber Sexton


Where the fancy people stay when they are in Venice
image by Amber Sexton


San Simeone Piccolo which you are constantly passing in Venice.
image by Amber Sexton


Goodbye Italy, I would come see you again any time I could
image by Amber Sexton

The rest of the film is completely unsorted in my drawer. So I actually have little idea what is there, my guesses are Coney Island, New Orleans, family beach pics, and random Brooklyn things.

Posted by Amber Sexton on 11/17 at 08:57 PM
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