Jon Crispin's Notebook

Paperwhite Update #2 / And They’re Off!

Posted in Family, Flowers, Plants by joncrispin on 29/01/2014

This is the tallest of the paperwhite stalks that I posted in Update #1.  At about 4.30 I looked at the bulbs, and they were almost completely dry and there were no flowers.  I added some water to the bowl, and at about 6.00 Cris noticed that two of the bulbs had started to open.  And they smell amazing.

Willard Suitcase / Benjamin M.

Posted in History by joncrispin on 28/01/2014

I often talk about the unique nature of the suitcase collection, and at times refer to the truly incredible job the New York State Museum did in preserving the cases and their contents.

The above photo is a great example of the museum’s work.  The only items in Benjamin’s case were the original label, a toothpick, and a tiny scrap of paper.  When we opened this case, the label was in one archival bag, and the toothpick and paper scrap were in another.  This may be something only museum curators and conservators can truly appreciate, but we are all beneficiaries of the care and concern shown to these materials.

I also often mention the major contribution Peggy Ross makes to this project, but today she really did something huge.  Over the last few months she has been working on a database of everything we have shot and what is left to do.  She made this list while I was shooting today, and just seeing it made me feel that not only have we made real progress, but now being able to complete a documentation of the entire collection seems within reach.  We now know exactly what remains to be shot and, that makes me feel really good.

It was great to see my friend Connie Houde who was working at the storage facility today.  She is on staff at the museum and is also a really interesting photographer.  She’s been working on updating her website and you should check it out here.

Thanks for following.  Cheers, Jon

Paperwhite Update #1

Posted in Flowers by joncrispin on 26/01/2014

A few of you have been asking for updates on the paperwhite situation, and I am happy to oblige.  This is the second of our two sets of bulbs and as you can see they are progressing nicely.  Cris says that they are sucking up more water than is usual; maybe a combination of it being really dry in the house, and this lot being a particularly thirsty variety.  I can remember some years where we only added water once a week or so. / I reckon we’ll start seeing (and smelling) flowers in the next few days.

National Museum of Natural History / DC

Posted in Animals, Architecture, Art, Buildings, History, Nature, People, Science by joncrispin on 24/01/2014

Peter and I had a great visit to the Museum of Natural History this afternoon.  I wanted to show him the Hope Diamond and some of the other gems.

The big diamond was ok, but we were drawn more to the emeralds and rubies.  This necklace was pretty cool.

These two pieces of chalcedony (quartz) were so cool; especially the green one.  Amazing that this stuff appears in nature only to be found, polished, and put on display.

Cool elephant in the main foyer.

Not being much in the way of scientists, we didn’t understand a lot of what was going on in the genome exhibit.

When we told Cris we were going to the Natural History Museum, she said  “Ooooh, dioramas!”

The guy here looks like he is hailing a cab in New York City.  I have actually seen guys who look pretty much like him doing just that.  When I was taking this photograph, a dad beside me was photographing his two kids and one of them said, “Daddy, I want to be a caveman.”

We kept coming back to the elephant.

We had an early dinner reservation at Mon Ami Gabi to celebrate Peter’s birthday.  It was great.  The escalator at the Bethesda station is enormous.

Back home tomorrow.

Tilghman’s Island

Posted in ephemera, History, Water by joncrispin on 22/01/2014

I am back on Tilghman’s Island (some call it Tilghman Island; it’s kind of confusing as the town is Tilghman, MD but most of the older watermen call it Tilghman’s).  I set up my lights and background and Willie Roe came by with his collection of items that he dredged up during his clamming days on Chesapeake Bay.

He has a huge assortment of 19th century clay pipes.

I especially like this one with Etoile etched into it and the lovely little star above the word.

Many of the pipes had the words HOME RULE stamped upon the bowl.  Here is what I found when I looked it up on the internet.  So amazing what you can learn about the past.

Peter Crispin

Posted in Family by joncrispin on 21/01/2014

As I mentioned in an earlier post today, Peter is now 25 years old.  It seems amazing to me.  All of you who know him are aware of what a remarkable person he is, and to those of you who have never met him, this photograph just about says it all.  Cris and I are so proud.


Posted in Automobiles, Family, Fish, Fishing, Nature, Transportation, Travel, Water, Weather by joncrispin on 21/01/2014

I was meant to be driving to DC as I am writing this, but due to the winter storm nailing the I-95 corridor, I ended up leaving last night.  I stopped just North of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, got a room for a few hours and was on the road again by 6.30 this morning.  It started snowing just after I parked in Peter’s apartment building in DC, and now at 2.15 it is really coming down.  And cold to boot.  I really wanted to make it here today as it is his 25th birthday.  We’ll get to spend the whole day together and then go out to dinner somewhere in the neighborhood this evening.

Tomorrow I am off to Tilghman to shoot Chesapeake Bay related artifacts for the Watermen’s Museum.  Originally Peter Carroll was going to be shooting video as well, but he basically had no safe way of getting here from Ithaca due to the weather.  He and I have been working on the island on and off for over 5 years now and it is such an interesting place. / The second of his films about the watermen and their families will be shown on Maryland Public Television Tuesday, 23rd April at 8.30 PM.  Here is a teaser.  And here is a link to an earlier post of mine about one aspect of the project.

Willard Suitcases / Mary E. B.

Posted in Asylums, History, Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 17/01/2014

We had a very productive day shooting in Rotterdam yesterday.  Again, most of the cases were largely empty, but there was still some interesting things to notice.  You can see the outline of the handle in dust from when the suitcase was stored in the racks at Willard.  I like how the museum staff left it as they found it before wrapping it up for storage.

This was all that we found in the case.  The New York Central luggage tag is beautiful.

This is what was written on the reverse site.  When I showed it to Peggy, she got a chill.  We both often react that way when the real life of the person is shown to us through their possessions.  Mary had a suitcase, she travelled, and at one time, she lived at 417 W. Main Street in Waterloo, NY.


Posted in Family, Flowers, Nature, Plants, Seasons by joncrispin on 17/01/2014

A few years ago my sister Karen gave us some paperwhite bulbs and told us how to get them to flower.  The process seemed to mysterious to me; put some dried up bulbs on some stones, add just enough water to cover the bottom of the bulbs and  in a short amount of time…voila, you have the most amazing smelling flowers in your house.  In winter!  So we do it every year now.  Give it a shot.  It is a great way to brighten up a household.

Fog and Palm

Posted in Beaches, Jon Crispin, Nature, Plants, Travel, Water by joncrispin on 11/01/2014

Heading back North tomorrow.  We had time for one last walk on the beach today, but had to bail.  Very odd conditions.  Foggy, misty, windy, and loud from the roar of the surf.  It was very disorientating and made walking difficult.  It was hard to stay balanced and the conditions made us both a bit dizzy.  Went for a long walk away from the beach and it was nice.  Had a bit of a thunderstorm late this afternoon to cap it all off.

Happy 2014 to you all.

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