Samara O'Shea

Archive for the ‘Photos’ Category

On Beauty

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

I walked into a convenience store last night and noticed a woman I’ve seen a few times before. She’s tiny and in a wheelchair. Her arms are about half the length of mine, but she has hands. Every time I see her I smile and try my hardest not to stare. It’s unfortunate that staring is the inherent behavior we have to fight against. Also last night, I happened upon this trailer for a documentary called On Beauty. They speak the truth: if we were exposed to people—all types of people—in media images everyday then the instinct to stare would go away. We wouldn’t look twice because these unique and wonderful people wouldn’t be different anymore, they would be what they are: fellow human beings.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

I have wanted to do this blog post since I moved and haven’t had a chance to until now. Just a little photo tour of my new neighborhood.

This is the deli on my corner. The first timeI went in, I didn’t have enough cash and was about to hit the ATM. The lady at the counter said, “You can give it to us next time.” Next time? Who says that? Kate says they’re very nice and trusting at this deli. Obviously!

A close-up of the deli’s mosaic tile exterior. There’s an artist in Philly who does this type of work. Most buildings like this are in the South Street area, but Fairmount boasts a few.

The Flying Saucer Café on the other corner.

This looks better in person—the pink flowers against the white house are stunning.

This is a nearby Pub called McKenna’s. I have yet to go, but when I do I’ll get the story behind the old-school Ladies Entrance sign. It’s cool that they kept it.

One of Fairmount’s most well-known bars is called The Bishop’s Collar. The food always catches me off guard with how good it is. This is my chicken quesadilla from the other day. Please note the fruit—yummy!

A local restaurant—very cozy in the winter with fireplaces and lots of beer. I love the way they spell Brigids.

Another exterior done in the tile mosaic way.

Best of all! Jesus lives here, too!

That’s all for me this week. Have a wonderful, safe, celebratory 4th of July weekend!

Little Match Girl

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Moving usually means the unearthing of artifacts you didn’t know you had. Last weekend I came across a handful of matchboxes. If a restaurant offers them, I’ll usually swipe a box on the way out and keep them in the bathroom at home. I didn’t know I had gone so far as to put several of them in a small Tupperware container–looks as if I was trying to save them. My first instinct was to toss them, but then I shared a nostalgic moment wtih each matchbox.

Here are a few:


The top left is from Cafe Lalo on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It’s where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks meet for coffee in You’ve Got Mail. Top right is from The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville. It is one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. The bathroom was luxurious. The lobby was grand. They served tea everyday at 4 pm. I was there for a press trip a few years back and had the time of my life. I considered moving to Nashville for a moment. Bottom left is from The Beach House Grille in Alabama. I also made it to Mobile for a press trip years ago. I didn’t consider moving there, but was very glad I went. Bottom right is from Budda Bar–just a gorgeous Manhattan bar I ended up in one night.

Looks like I’m a bit of a matchbox collector and I didn’t even know it. I liken them to postcards now, small trinkets that can bring you back to a place or a moment in time. I think I’ll throw them all into a glass jar and keep them in the powder room. I can use them when need be and visitors can sift through them if they are so inclined.

What’s to Become of Letter Boxes?

Monday, June 13th, 2011

I was in the lobby of a hotel recently and saw this beauty.
I can’t even imagine what it costs to have something like this made, and I wonder how old it is. I’m glad the hotel is keeping it on display, even though it’s not in use as per this sign:


My hope is that all hotels and professional buildings will keep their letter boxes on display—even as they become obsolete—because they are gorgeous and a nod to American history. For those who get rid of them, I imagine they’ll become collectibles. I’d love to own one if I ever have a game room—compete with pool table, pinball machine, and letter box.

A Glimpse into Their Lives

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011


As promised, I went to the Morgan Library’s exhibit on diaries. Not as promised, I went on Sunday rather than Saturday. Also, not as promised, I am writing on Tuesday rather than Monday. I’ll get my groove back one of these days.

In any case, the exhibit was intimate and extraordinary. It was in a small room and there were 60 or so diaries on display. I walked slowly, trying to fully absorb each one. It’s incredible to come face to face with the sloppy handwriting of someone you admire who left the world long ago. I copied my favorites passage of the day—some from the diaries themselves and others were posted on the wall throughout the exhibit:

“My journals are callow, sententious, moralistic, and full of rubbish. They are also hard to ignore.” ~ E. B. White

“There are two things in the world—life and death. ‘Art’ is life. ‘Not Art’ is death.”
~ Stuart Davis

“Life piles up so fast that I have no time to write out the equally fast rising mound of reflections.” ~ Virginia Woolf

“I have tried to keep diaries before but they didn’t work out because of the necessity to be honest.” ~ John Steinbeck

“The truth strikes us from behind and in the dark, as well as from before and in the broad daylight.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

[The best aid to memory] is “reading intently—and reading with a pen in your hand taking note of the passages that most forcibly strike you.” ~ George Augustus Sala

Postcards from Exotic Places

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Happy Friday. I’d like to share some of the ephemera I received while I was away . . .

Reader Masa sent me this postcard. Postcards from Louisiana look like they’re from another country. Charming! I find postcards are a fun way to keep in touch with people you see regularly. They are text messages that go through the mail. Short, sweet, I’m-thinking-of-you messages that warm the heart of both sender and recipient.

Masa also sent me this photo. Apparently this woman pronounces her last name “po’shea.” I wonder how she pronounces Samara . . .

I received another postcard from the Mystery Traveler. This time he writes me from Banjul, capital of The Gambia, where the people are “very nice and hospitable”. Sadly this will be his last postcard from Africa for a while. He’s finished with his work there. I hope he continues to write me from wherever he heads to next.

Had to include a close-up of the stamps. Script on the left says, “Musical Instruments of the Manding Empire.” I bet they make precious music.

This weekend, I am off to Manhattan. Tomorrow I’ll visit the Morgan Library’s exhibit on historic diaries. Can’t wait! I’ll have a full report on Monday. Enjoy your weekend.

The Last Typewriter Factory

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

I love the idea of typewriters. The sound of twenty of them going at once in an old-fashioned newsroom, which I’ve only seen in movies, puts me at ease. It’s the steady sound of hard work.

The reality of typewriters is a little harder to take. It means making a mistake and not being able to hit backspace. I can’t believe novels, Gone With the Wind comes to mind, were once written in their entirety on typewriters. I suppose if I grew up writing exclusively by hand, then a typewriter would seem advanced—a big step into the future.

As it is, the age of the typewriter has come and gone. The Atlantic reported on Monday that the Last Typewriter Factory in the World Shuts Its Doors. Honestly, I’m surprised that there were any typewriter factories still in existence, but I’m glad to know they are officially gone. I can mourn accordingly and start thinking about my antique typewriter collection. The article has some fantastic photos of typewriters, including this one: