Tag Archives: nature

Clip: Letter to the Editor Published in Orion

13 Sep

I left a comment on an article on Orion‘s website a while back and one of the editors contacted me to see if they could reprint it in the print edition of their magazine.  Of course I said yes!  I love the articles in Orion.  My comment is now in the letters to the editor section of the September/October 2012 issue on newsstands now.  I’m credited as “Stephanie Niko” because I oftentimes abbreviate my name when I leave comments on blogs.

Road Trip with Kevin Russ

23 Aug

I stumbled down the rabbit hole of the Internet into some incredible road-trip photography by Kevin Russ, via Miss Moss. Looking at his photographs of grazing buffalo and wild horses that can’t be broken is like looking into the great American West of the past—and yet his photographs were taken with an iphone.

Kevin Russ’ photographs, wild and natural, rustic and warm, capture a moment that could be any moment in time. Massive mountains and deep gorges speak to the untamed beauty of the American landscape—the type of view that makes you pull over on the side of the road, speechless. You feel small. Not insignificant, but no longer the center of the universe. Your perch in the corner office becomes a little less important. Your eyes readjust. You begin to see.

The photographs have such a timeless quality to them even though there are signs of modern-day life in some of them. There are no people in the photographs that Miss Moss featured, and yet the contemporary traveler is present. There’s the lone yellow school bus traveling in the distance. Mundane-looking cars parked by a corral. The camper on the side of the road. A pastoral home, with what appears to be a kerosene lamp. Teepees. Yellow stripes dashing down grey pavement.

What’s interesting about the absence of people in the photographs is that Russ is actually an amazing portrait photographer. I liked his road-trip work so much that I did a bit of digging around on the Internet and found more of his photos on CameraLuv. He shoots hipsters with envy-inducing haircuts in front of abandoned tires, layers of newspapers, beat-up vans, and industrial fences. Is it any surprise he’s based in Portland?

So then I found his Flickr page and discovered he’s done photography for Radiant, a publication that has published my writing.

I want to languish all day on his Tumblr.

Seeing Kevin Russ’ photography makes me kind of wonder what it would’ve been like if iphones were around when the poets and writers of the Beat Generation were crisscrossing the United States. Allen Ginsberg was the itinerant photographer of the group, capturing hipster friends Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky, and the like on their travels.

A Tree Flowers in Queens

3 May

 

I got off the subway in Astoria, and this is the image that greeted me.  I just had to stop and take a photograph.  I love the delicacy of the pink petals against the steel of the subway ramp, the art in nature and graffiti, the way the tree reaches out to the blue sky, persevering.  We must bloom where we are planted.

Astoria is a neighborhood in Queens, New York, that in the 70s had the largest Greek population outside of Greece itself.

Lavender, Parsley, Peppermint, and Sage

10 Jan

I feel so honored that natural health writer Shea Zukowski thanked me for my editing work in the acknowledgments in her book Lavender, Parsley, Peppermint, and Sage, published by Sterling Publishing!  It’s really such a lovely book, filled with natural remedies and organic cleaners that sound good enough to eat.  More than just useful tips and recipes, the book is brimming with fascinating trivia on herbs and ancient cultures.

Here’s the description from the back of the book:

Herbs offer powerful, natural, earth-friendly solutions for all sorts of home, garden, and personal needs. This invaluable guide gathers hundreds of simple recipes for herb-based formulas that are safe and effective for use in every home. Herbs have been used for practical purposes for thousands of years—natural and proven, they are a welcome alternative to man-made, often toxic chemicals.

Plus, they are easy and enjoyable to work with: herbs can be crushed, boiled, layered, and/or mixed with oil or water or other handy household ingredients to make hundreds of useful home products, for everything from cleaning to personal care.

Organized by use, this convenient volume presents a wealth of helpful herbal solutions. For each entry, readers will find an introduction describing the best uses for this product, a full ingredient list, step-bystep instructions for preparing the formula, information on storage, and advice on how to use it.

A wonderful gift book and useful reference combined, Lavender, Parsley, Peppermint, and Sage is an indispensable guide for a greener, healthier lifestyle.

What that doesn’t tell you is that it has instructions how how to make French Ironing Water, Just-In-Thyme Disinfectant Cleanser, and Rosemary Muscle Rub.  Don’t those sound so luxurious?!

Congrats to Shea Zukowski on the print edition and ebook edition.  It was such a pleasure to work on this book!  It’s inspired me to whip up my own all-natural products.

Writing Wednesday: Story Clouds

30 Nov

Remember childhood days of laying out in the grass in cut-offs, staring up at the blue blue sky, and making up stories about cloud shapes?

When did having an imagination and making up stories become such hard work?  Maybe it’s time we lay out in the park and let the puffy white clouds inspire silly stories.  Maybe we need to think like a kid again.

Maybe we need a little wonder in our lives.

I took these photos from the rooftop of the Met.  What shapes do you see?

Happy Birthday, Teddy Roosevelt!

27 Oct

Happy birthday, Teddy Roosevelt!

On October 27, 1858, Theodore Roosevelt was born right here in New York City.  I had the opportunity to visit his birth home a few years ago and write the introduction to his classic book Hunting the Grisly and Other Stories, published by the Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading.

I am opposed to hunting for sport, and in my introduction I highlight the fact that although Roosevelt was a hunter he was also a conservationist who set up fifty-one wildlife refuges.

Roosevelt’s Hunting the Grisly is available for purchase in both paperback and ebook format.

A Greek Bedroom Inspired by Nature

13 Oct

When my dad started building his dream house in Greece, I was in middle school in New Jersey.  It was the early ‘90s, and the Body Shop and Calvin Klein and Kate Moss were ushering in an era of natural beauty.  Simplicity was the backlash against an era of neon and shoulder pads.  I abandoned my hot-pink biker shorts and oversized Hypercolor t-shirts for a more natural beauty aesthetic that seeped its way into my plans for the bedroom I’d have in Greece.

Our new house was being built in an olive grove by the ocean, and I wanted to embrace an organic look for my bedroom.  I wanted to keep the walls and the bedspread as white as the walls of a white-washed Greek church.  I wanted only a few little green leaf accents and bamboo curtains to echo the call of nature.

When I saw This Is Glamorous’ post “Wicker & White and Summer Delights,” it immediately brought me back to the inspiration for my bedroom all those years ago.  Wicker baskets hold fresh, white laundry.  A bowl of pretty starfish brings the ocean inside.  A pretty white sundress looks like the kind I’d find in one of the many shops near Olympia.  There’s even a photograph of waffles, the dessert we often get after dinner in Greece.

Clip: Church Hopping LIVE: Church of the Intercession

29 Sep

Did you know Audubon (yes, the bird guy) was one of the founders of a church up in Washington Heights?  If you weren’t able to make it to the live Church Hopping event, you can read about it here, on Burnside Writers Collective.

Sunset at Lagouvardos Beach

8 Aug

 

 

 

I took these photos on my last trip to Greece.  They’re pictures of the sun setting over Lagouvardos Beach in the Peloponnesus.

It’s rare that I catch the sunset in any meaningful way in the States, but watching the sun set into the ocean is the Greek way of life.  A lot of homes are built with large balconies and a lot of tavernas sit ocean-side so watching the sun set is a natural part of everyday Greek life.  We watch the sunset with the same awe that we watch fireworks.  It captivates our attention as it slowly sinks deeper and deeper into the ocean.  We try to guess when the last sliver of it will disappear until morning.  We savor the color-shifting sky, full of wonder.

Protomayia

1 May

We all know that April showers bring May flowers, but Greeks celebrate May 1 (also known as May Day, Labor Day, and Protomayia) with the enchanting Feast of the Flowers.

Revelers flee to the countryside on this national labor holiday to herald spring.  By May 1, most of the Greek islands are warm with gentle breezes and the mainland can even get hot.  It’s a marvelous day of picnicking and flying kites and enjoying nature.

People spend the day collecting flowers and turning them into wreathes.  There are even several flower festivals throughout Greece.