happy solstice from SY Tranquility

December 21st, 2013 § 12 comments § permalink

This past month, Fabio and I have come far in our little boat.  It will take a long time for me to post here all of the things I have jotted down. This was one special moment entering Okracoke, an island of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. We arrived near sunset, and crossed a seabird superhighway. Fabio was doing his best to keep us on course as I scrambled around on deck with the camera. It was a bit of a come-to-Jesus moment, so here we are.

We miss being in NYC/Italy this time of year.  I miss Hanukkamas with Otto, Nicky and Sarah Bruner, window lights on Leonard St., trimming the nondenominational yet festive winter tree aka Geraldo Tree (RIP) in McCarren Park, walking through the overpriced pines-for-sale on city sidewalks, and the relative calm of the city between school semesters when the dynamic shifts towards that hardy year-round island resident feeling. Fabio misses his parents and friends, Mamma’s pumpkin ravioli, harassing his sister, playing with Meli… and a million other things.

We are happy with what we’re doing. Overjoyed, really.  But we miss you.

blackwater on the ICW

December 9th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

We just spent a week on the Intracoastal Waterway, and I am still trying to figure out what just happened.  Sections were blackwater, dark red or brown water that is stained by tannins from decaying vegetation in the watershed.

I forgot about this.  The last time I saw this I was 22, and on a cargo boat in the Amazon. The sky was perfectly mirrored on the flat surface of the dark river, reflecting a twin jungle in 360 degrees. On the ICW, the effect looks like this:


There’s a bunch of other stuff that is ecologically unique with blackwater, and I’m hoping to learn more about that as well as the two larger inland waterbodies we cruised, the Pamlico and Albermarle Sounds.

safe harbor

December 2nd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

About a year ago, I experienced first-hand what climate change looks like when my community and region experienced massive flooding during “Superstorm Sandy”.  I watched closely and participated enthusiastically in the post-Sandy planning that was fast-tracked, and cheered for the storm surge barrier that the resulting plan prescribed for Newtown Creek, my backyard.

However, when that plan was set into motion, a recommendation called Seaport City appeared at the top of the stack. This element of the plan envisions a luxe development off the edge of lower Manhattan with a levee system under its skirt to (rumor alert) protect Wall Street. Classic Bloomberg. This is a land where skyscrapers are subsidized on former wetlands as common practice, while basic infrastructure is so primed to flood that “even on a dry day subway pumps remove millions of gallons of water” from the subway tunnels.

Therefore, I am often shocked at what other cities get done without pinning a condo on top.


In New Bedford, MA, we enjoyed the protection of a massive hurricane barrier that was built in the 60s by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect the commercial fishing fleets based there. The barrier extends well into the city of New Bedford, as well as the neighboring town of Fairhaven across the bay, with a fabled elevator and underwater tunnel across the actual gate.

More recently, in Norfolk, VA, we noticed tide gates around the Waterside neighborhood downtown, that led to some Googling and the discovery that Norfolk was the nation’s first “Tsunami-Ready City” in the US. I had no idea that such a designation existed, but was excited to find several more such sites coming up on our route.


No doubt that these infrastructure works were not implemented without extracting a pound of flesh (and not without major if not total Federal subsidy), but in both cases, the works extend well beyond a single development site, and included elements of placemaking and open space.

Are the condos underground? How do these other cities git ‘er done?

Where am I?

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