One last book

I was part of the audience gathered last night at McCosh auditorium attending the lecture: “The Charlie Hebdo Terrorist Attacks: Freedom of Speech in the Age of Radicalism.” Like many, I had been anticipating to hear Mario Vargas Llosa and Philippe Lançon’s for months.

After last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris, this lecture’s relevance had become unprecedented. Philip Laçon was the only survivor of the terrorist attacks at Charlie Hebdo and this was his first public lecture since the attack in January 2015. He didn’t refrain to share horrific details he lived. I confess part of me refused to take in his fresh memories. His account of events mingled in my mind’s eye with televised images of last Friday’s attacks in Paris.“Allahu Akbar”. One bullet. “Allahu Akbar”. Another bullet. “Allahu Akbar”. It keeps going. This happened in Paris in January. No. This happened in Paris last week.

Laçon’s vivid descriptions and subsequent reflections were meandered by the words’s of Mario Vargas Llosa, winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature. He gave a passionate speech on freedom of expression and censorship, stressing the destruction of civilization as the most dangerous consequence of terrorism, and calling all to resist the temptation to sacrifice freedom in order to stop acts of terrorism.

Of all the details Philippe Lançon shared of that January morning I’ve created a selective memory. In it, I only keep the very last moments he spent with his friend, the 76-year-old cartoonist Cabu. Philippe is showing a photography book to Cabu. It is a book about the famous Jazz club, Blue Note. All photographs taken by the owner and founder of the club, Francis Wolff. Black and white photos of an eternal New York. Cabu loves Jazz, and to sketch about it. I envision Cabu’s laughs, glossy pages and comments flipping through the air. There is even Miles Davis and Coltrane playing in the background. But of course, this is only in my mind. Right after this, two terrorists walked into the room.

 

The lecture “The Charlie Hebdo Terrorist Attacks: Freedom of Speech in the Age of Radicalism.” was hosted by the Program in Latin American studies at Princeton University and moderated by Rubén Gallo, Director of PLAS, on November 19th, 2015.

You can read Phillipe Lacon’s personal account of the events written three weeks after the attacks at http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2015/jan/21/my-charlie-hebdo/

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#PourteOuverte

Acho que aqueles que me conhecem sabem da minha maior fraqueza, e da minha maior qualidade: sou completamente ingênua e inocente. Eu sempre acredito antes de duvidar. Nunca vejo as intenções que realmente podem estar por trás das ações de uma pessoa. Confio antes de questionar. Ao longo dos anos, aposto que muitos ficaram até com pena de tamanha ingenuidade e preferiram não me usar tanto. Já outros usaram, gostaram e continuaram a me usar con gusto.

Mas o que se perde ao usar o outro, e o que se ganha ao acreditar no outro são coisas bem diferentes. Você preserva a sua integridade ao se dar, mas precisa continuamente vestir uma carapaça para tirar algo de alguém e tentar se proteger. Ver que tantos abriram as portas no meio da noite em meio ao caos e medo me faz acreditar que talvez seja possível vivermos como um só povo. Entāo ainda por cima, sou Poliana?! Não. No fundo, no fundo, eu sei que leis da física são aplicáveis à tudo: para toda ação há uma reação. Não há como anos e anos de guerra acontecer, e continuarmos desligando a televisão, e pulando página de jornal e ignorando que a cavalaria das cruzadas está a todo vapor na rede, no rádio e na terra.

A marcha começou no Iraque, continua no Afeganistão, foi pra Síria e Iran talvez. Agora, decapitação faz parte do nosso vocabulário digital. Guilhotina até parece tecnologia avançada. 14 anos de guerra fazem isto. Há uma população específica sendo aniquilada entra dia, sai dia, e gerações inteiras vão se perdendo no oriente-médio. Definitivamente as gerações presentes e provavelmente, as futuras. Não. Vamos ser menos abstratos, pelo amor de Deus! Gerações coisa nenhuma. C-r-i-a-n-ç-a-s. São crianças, cara! Seja em Paris ou em Damasco. São todas crianças. Estaremos germinando cavalarias para cruzadas infindáveis se continuarmos a trancar porta à chave para elas. Fazer cruzadas em 1101 D.C. tem consequências bem diferentes do que no mundo globalizado, urbanizado e conectado de hoje. A onda humana está transbordando lá na Turquia, Líbano e Egito, mas a inundação vai acabar mesmo é lá na Alemanha. Todo imigrante vira farinha do mesmo saco: Iraquiano, Iraniano, Afegão = muçulmano, islâmico, militante do ISIS. Só estamos nos esquecendo que foram ataques como estes que os fizeram deixar seus países e virar refugiados pra início de conversa. Eles como ninguém conhecem o nível de barbárie que pode ser usada contra alguém em nome de Deus e Religião.

O que me faz lembrar porque estou lhe aborrecendo numa manhã de Sábado falando de inocência, ingenuidade e da Poliana que sou… Desde Domingo estou com a revista do New York Times na minha cabeceira. Lendo e relendo a matéria de capa sobre refugiados. Nada como 6 dias depois para tornar uma matéria ainda mais relevante…. E não foi à toa que New York Times lançou esta matéria como a primeira na história do jornal a usar não só texto, fotografias e vídeo mas um filme em realidade-virtual. Eu acredito que se todos lessem a página 48 desta matéria o mundo tomaria coragem de se unir e proteger uns aos outros, abrir as nossas portas e fazer um #PourteOuverte mundial. Aí está minha inocência escancarada. Acreditar que fotos como as da Lynsey Addario e textos como o de Susan Dominus sobre uma menina chamada Hana podem salvar o mundo. Pare neste instante de ler #Paris hashtags no Twitter, procurar por fotos de quem estava dentro do #LeBataclan no Instagram, ou olhar vídeos da Boulevard Voltaire no Periscope, e leiam a página 48 desta matéria. Paz e solidariedade podem ser criadas tão simples assim.

Jennifer Cabral, AKA Poliana.

Para ler Matéria “The Displaced” no New York Times visite o link http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/08/magazine/the-displaced-hana.html

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Current exhibition

PENNINGTON, NJ – Photographer Jennifer Cabral received an honorable mention for her work VISUAL CONCEPTIVE at the show Mercer County Photography 2015. Thirty-four photographs were selected for this juried exhibition supported, in part, by Mercer County Culture & Heritage Division, through a grant from the NJ State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Silva Gallery hosted the biennial exhibition Mercer County Photography 2015 from September 9th through October 9th, 2015 at the Pennington Schoolhttp://www.pennington.org/arts/silva-gallery-of-art/index.aspx

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VISUAL CONCEPTIVE is a series of 4 photographs representing women’s weekly cycles. “I believe our bodies follow moon cycles – a waning and waxing of emotions and potentiality we carry within ourselves. Like seeds.” This work is only one of the elements that compose CONCEPTIVES – an art project created by photographer Jennifer Cabral as an invitation for women to become aware of their internal phases. While prints of VISUAL CONCEPTIVE was exhibited at Mercer County Photography 2015, three additional elements of  CONCEPTIVES project will be available online where the public can explore digital downloads, voice recordings, and imagery simultaneously.

According to Jennifer, “by connecting with each stage of our female cycles we take away the stigma of inconvenience and discomfort surrounding our menses and incorporate into it an element of empowerment and potentiality. In each week of their cycle women feel different inside their bodies: the changes are hormonal; emotional; mental and physical. As women, we all know this. But we ignore it or suppress it because of societal pressures, conventions, and demands; or influenced by external factors, like artificial hormones consumed through oral contraceptives, which can sometimes inhibit these natural female phases. As women, we have a chance to tap more easily into a part of ourselves each week – one that nourishes intuition, reflection, creativity or receptivity within us. With this artwork, I am attempting to remind us all of that.”

The other elements of CONCEPTIVES art project can be fully access online at conceptives.jennifercabral.com

AUDIO CONCEPTIVE explores sensations and impressions the artist experiences during her cycles with recordings of her voice. “I combine adjectives, nouns and verbs to create a lexicon of potentials existent in each of the four phases of a woman’s cycles. Its an evocation for women to become aware of these multiple parts within themselves and integrate them into their monthly, weekly and daily routines.” To listen to this recording now click here or visit conceptives.jennifercabral.com

DAILY CONCEPTIVE is used by Jennifer Cabral to share a daily word or image to describe the stage of her cycle she is experiencing. This will be explored simultaneously on Twitter with the hashtag #DAILYCONCEPTIVE and Pinterest. She wishes this to become an interactive element of the project and invites other women to share the phases of their cycles they are experiencing, as well. Click here to see it on Twitter and Pinterest. It can also be accessed from the artist’s website conceptives.jennifercabral.com

The last element of this project is called ORAL CONCEPTIVE. A set of images that can be downloaded as wallpaper/ screensaver for digital devices and be used as reminders of the feminie cycle on computers and mobile devices. Its intended to function as reminders of which 7-day-phase a woman is experiencing in her cycle. Each of the four image describes a potentiality to be explored. According to the artist, “As women, we have a chance to tap more easily into a part of ourselves each week with our hormonal cycles – one that nourishes intuition, creativity, receptivity or reflection within ourselves.” To access images go to http://conceptives.jennifercabral.com

The artist would like to add that, “this work is my artistic representation of women’s cycles and is not intended to promote health advice for women. For that, I encourage you to read the work of three inspiring authors I used to guide me through my own process of cycle awareness. They are Christiane Northup, MD; Alisa Vitti and Sara Avant Stover

Jennifer Cabral is an independent photographer based in Princeton, NJ. A member of National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), her work has been featured in newspapers and exhibitions in the US and Brazil, her native country. In Brazil, she graduated from the School of Fine Arts Escola Guignard, with a certificate in Photography. She also holds a BA in Social Communications from Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais. She attended the Photography Continuing Education Program at School of Visual Arts, in NY. And since 2010, she joined the staff of Princeton University where she photographs rare books and manuscripts from the University’s library collection.

For complete information about CONCEPTIVES | Art Project visit the website http://conceptives.jennifercabral.com

Any images included on this project can be used exclusively to promote the artist’s project and art show. Further usage of these images require a written permission from the artist Jennifer Cabral. She can be reached at photos@jennifercabral.com

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Breaking Silence

A gift received from Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Santacittā during my 10-day monastic retreat in Barre, MA.

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“May we be filled with love and kindness. May we be well. May we be peaceful and at ease. May we be happy.”

And so another day ended. At 10:00PM we walked out of the meditation hall the same way we came in: in complete silence. This chant would echo in our minds and lullaby us into the night. Together with a handful of chants in Pali, these were the only words ever uttered from our lips. The same routine would awaken us the next day at 5:30 in the morning. Day 1. Day 9. Day 3. It didn’t matter. Time was suspended. And so were we for the duration of this retreat. Sitting meditation. Walking meditation. Tea breaks. Breakfast. Lunch. Night fast. No dinner. Volunteer work.

Enclosed at Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, our activities had one defining commonality: complete silence. Ten days of it. And there was a hundred of us. I opened a magazine and this universe that now seemed light-years away instantly flashed back at me. I was sitting at Barnes & Noble, a latte within reach, bad country song playing in the background, and I was now staring at the two Bhikkhunis that led that 10-day silent retreat. My two teachers, Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Santacittā were being featured on the later issue of Tricycle magazine.

I had forgotten that emptiness. I had forgotten the space that opens after your thoughts echo in vain in your mind. After ten days of ricocheting at an invisible wall with no response, a thought has no strength to keep going on its own. It gives up. You give up. You surrender. What was I saying? Nothing… Wasn’t that the whole point of that retreat? I never spoke about those ten days. (Silence, right?) And, It’s not that you walk away from an experience like this with “no words to describe it”. You walk away with a million words to describe it. Enough to keep you talking for hours on end, but that is exactly what you no longer want. Talking means missing what just happened. Missing this very moment. You treasure more the listening than the speech. So you suspend the speech in midair and go into silence. And this happens more often than you ever thought possible.

But, looking back at those ten days, that taught me more than I could ever grasp in 10 years, I realized there is something to be honored. And, in no way I am referring to my resilience to withstand a 10-day monastic retreat. Believe me, there is no merit in crawling into a quiet place when you are confused and in pain. But I have to break the silence, to honor those who held a space I could crawl into. And held that silence. And held me. Forever.

“May you be filled with love and kindness May you be well. May you be peaceful and at ease. May you be happy.”

You can meet my teachers (I am daring to call myself a student) in the last issue of Tricycle | The Buddhist Review . They have been beautifully photographed by photographer Timothy Archibald.

If you want to experience some of the words that guided me during those ten day, you can hear some of the recordings of our evening dharma talks at http://www.dharmaseed.org/retreats/1444/

Since 2009, Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Santacittā have dedicated themselves in creating Aloka Vihara, a monastic community for women. And they hope to soon purchase its current rental house and 17-acre property near Placerville, California. If you would like to take part of their vision and assist them to have a permanent home, you can make a donation at http://saranaloka.org/support/were-purchasing-a-rural-property/

PS: I am happy to announce they were able to put a down payment on their rural property! All they need is help with their monthly payments. http://saranaloka.org/support/were-purchasing-a-rural-property/

And one more thing, Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Santacittā will be leading another monastic retreat at Insight Meditation Society in April. Here is all the information about it: Listening to Natural Law: Monastic Retreat

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13 MOONS

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I did it again. I told myself I wouldn’t. I told myself: “It’s time to stop. I’ve done it enough times. Stop it.” I asked myself: “Aren’t you tired of it? Just sitting there and dumping into it all that you feel again and again? Sometimes, you don’t even know what you are feeling exactly, but you do it anyway. Once these feelings are there, they become so obvious, don’t they? It becomes crystal clear: Oh, that is what was bothering me? That is what I miss? I thought I let go of that, so how come I’m still thinking about it? The truth is, you couldn’t stop it if you wanted to, could you?”

It all started as part of an art project. I called it #DAILYCONCEPTIVE. After 12 years of birth control pills, I decided to give it up, and in order to get in tune with the phases of my female cycles, I started to collect imagery and words on Pinterest and Twitter. My intention was to share it in social media, and open an invitation to other women to do the same. That they too would connect with their female cycles and express it.

It worked. It is happening. Others are connecting with me via Pinterest and Twitter. They react to this imagery and they add their own. What was mine becomes theirs, and what was theirs, mine. It’s a mere curatorial process. Some say curation is useless, but not when it’s done collectively. You can call it: collective selection. What is being said is not spoken in words, but there are thousands of them on each image. And it is so powerful.

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It was supposed to last 13 moons. The equivalent to 1 year of a woman’s cycle. The moons came and went. And I’ve now fulfilled my commitment. But I’m not done. I am still there. The imagery and lexicon are still there. And they keep coming. Just like my cycles: fluid and in volumes. It helps me understand my internal process. That confusing, intense and dark process that us women go through – being lead by unseeable hormonal waves. What a lonely mental and physical process that can be! But now these waves can be seen, and shared, and I am not riding it alone.

#DAILYCONCEPTIVE became a map. It shows me where I’ve been, where I am, and where I am headed. So I keep adding into it. Sometimes once a week. Sometimes every hour. All I know is that I am there often. Too often. It is a habit now. No, it’s a compulsion. If I am anxious and it’s hard to define where it is coming from, I have to go there. If the pressure is coming in waves or, the peace is so immense I just don’t want to let go of it, that’s how I do it. I put it there. I collect each emotion, each feeling, each day into this board. I can look back and it’s all there in one continuous page. This board now carries my past and present. And, although it can’t tell the future it tells me one thing: the search is infinite, limitless and continuous. And it must go on. And, so does #DAILYCONCEPTIVE. For as many moons as necessary #DAILYCONCEPTIVE will go on.

You can see my entire CONCEPTIVES Art Project at www.conceptives.jennifercabral.com

This self-discovery wouldn’t have happened without the wisdom of three inspiring authors I used to guide me through my own cycle awareness process. They are Christiane Northup, MD; Alisa Vitti and Sara Avant Stover THANK YOU, Dear Teachers!

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We are MODPOnians

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MASSIVE.  The class had already started the week before. I had no background on the subjects that were being discussed, and an assignment was due in a couple of hours. But I mindlessly clicked the button and signed up for my first Coursera class. That morning, I had no idea of how massive of a step I was taking. I signed up to be part of an online class with tens of thousands of students. The exact number was something like 35.000 students. What was staggering was not how many people were doing something collectively online. Afterall, Facebook has trained us well on being one user in a billion. What was staggering was what tens of thousands of people, including now me, had chosen to do collectively online for 10 weeks. We had chosen to take a class on Modern & Contemporary American Poetry.

OPEN. The sense of belonging is not natural to me. I am an outsider. I think I will always feel inadequate. What could I possibly write about poetry? Who am I to talk about American Poetry? Could I even understand it? English is not my native tongue. But you can only underestimate the realm of universality that poetry belongs to for so long. By the end of the first week of classes, I got it. We all got it. Poetry is wide open. Wide open like beauty. And it had a world wide open space just for it. And from and through – forums, webcasts, assignments, peer reviews, twitter feeds, blogs, links – poetry was webbing itself. A World wide web.

ONLINE. You would think a Cousera class would be limited to a http:// address. But not this class. This class has an address. 3805 Locust Walk.  The Kelly Writers House, located on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. Al Filreis welcomes all. Enrolls all. Teaches all. He circled himself with a select group of Teaching Assistants, wisely picked for their brilliance. And he generously shared the teaching gems he found with his student body. A physical student body that had nothing virtual about it. Because we came in herds from all walks of life, ages, nationalities, backgrounds. And we sat by their feet. And we listened to poetry. Read poetry. Discussed poetry. Proclaimed poetry. And we wrote poetry. Yes, we dared to.

COURSE.  You can call it Modern. Or Contemporary. Or American. Or Poetry. We call it MODPO. And we call ourselves MODPOnians. It is spread all over the web. Recorded for times to come. As proof of what is possible. Join us.

I was a proud pupil of Al Filreis during the class Modern & Contemporary American Poetry in the fall semester of 2013. And among my degrees, this certificate is one I will always hold dear to me. For more about this course and upcoming classes go to https://www.coursera.org/course/modernpoetry

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A BAKER’S HOUSE

Photos by Eugene Pierce and Jennifer Cabral. Written by Jennifer Cabral 
A bakery in central New Jersey becomes a household name for gluten-free living

The address is 2691 Main Street, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648. When I walk into this house, I can feel the inhabitants that lived in it. Old fixtures and incandescent bulbs can still be found on the upstairs walls. A large dining table, full of stories to share is set up in the middle of the room. A chair saturated with age is placed by a window. The bathroom still carries its original iron tub. There is a couch I can share a book with. And the kitchen is no different than in any other home, the heart of it all. That is where I met Marilyn Besner. And that is where Wildflour Bakery and Cafe is housed.

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As the welcoming host at Wildflour, Marilyn is willing to spread maple syrup on confections for her guests, like the true Canadian that she is. Marilyn’s dedication to baking and cooking took years in the making. But the move from a part time pastry chef in the Princeton area, to a business owner, happened in a matter of months – she saw the old house for sale in November 2012, and Wildflour opened its doors in May 2013. After a few adaptations from a previous restaurant operating in the building, it was remodeled with food as it’s central purpose, and a home setting as it’s core. It now carries a hybrid design that allows a state of the art industrial kitchen to cohabit the intimacy of a living space. Marilyn Besner formally trained in New York, at The French Culinary Institute and The Natural Gourmet Institute. But it was in between meals served to family and friends, at a table inherited from her mother, where she has always actualized her recipes. It wouldn’t be any different when she had to create a menu for her first cafe. Except on one occasion, when Marilyn had to play guest instead of a host. To perfect the mint chutney sauce served on crepes at Wildflour, or the vegetable dosa that shows up as a daily special, Marilyn was invited to a dosa party. No such thing as too many cooks in that kitchen. There, surrounded by women willing to share as many recipes as stories, Marilyn made her first attempts to prepare dosa. Later, she would achieve the precise crispness and flavor of these dishes in her own kitchen with the direct supervision of her friend Jaya and her native South Asian palate.

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Her familiarity with timing and temperature comes not only from the oven, but from a kiln, as well. She is skilled in the art of pottery – clay and glaze being treated no different than flour and frosting. But when time came to create her breads and pastries, Marilyn Besner relied on Mathew Andresen, a member of Bread Bakers Guild of America, to help her adapt home made recipes into production. The most challenging element was creating the perfect mixture of entirely gluten-free flours – the core element of Wildflour Bakery and Cafe. Their partnership’s success can be tasted in every bite. You not only do not miss regular wheat flour, but welcome all sophisticated textures and flavors incorporated into their recipes from the use of more intricate flours like tapioca, quinoa, garbanzo, rice, lentil and amaranth. Wildflour is a safe haven for those with gluten sensitivity that will not disappoint any bread and butter eater. And believe me, I am both.

My grandfather owned a bakery in my hometown of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in the 40’s. My dad, the youngest of 6 children, was able to escape shifts working behind the counter at Bakery Sul America, to attend games by his favorite soccer team, but life wouldn’t let him escape his fate of working in the baking business. Even after getting an Engineering degree at CUNY in New York, he would eventually go back to Brazil and open his own company custom building baking ovens in the same town his father delivered fresh bread out of carriages. For years, my dad’s job was coming in and out of bakeries making sure the ovens he designed at Erlan Ovens were evenly distributing heat over the golden rolls we Brazilians call “bread of salt”. My way of embracing our family’s roots in the baking business was to offer no resistance to being raised on bread – like any Brazilian worth it’s salt. As a child, I volunteered to take part of a national daily ritual – to stand in line at a neighborhood bakery to pick up fresh bread in the late afternoons. I can still feel in my arms, the warm paper bag I would carry, full of bread that would be smothered with butter within minutes of being out of the oven.

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I would still be carrying on such tradition, if it weren’t for a gluten sensitivity I developed a couple of years ago, and the migraines that accompany it. I had no choice but to settle for tasteless frozen versions of gluten-free breads offered at natural supermarkets. I was getting used to the packages full of ingredients that promised far more than they could deliver, until one day I read in the local paper that a gluten-free bakery was opening in my own town of Lawrenceville, NJ. I visited the bakery the next morning. And the morning after that. It quickly became my daily stop on my way to work – “A banana muffin, please. No. Make it, two.” One day I stared at a tray of robust purple loaves freshly baked. “What are those?”, I asked Anita, the friendly server that by now, knows me by name. “It’s Pumpernickel”, she said. I took a loaf home, and smothered it with butter while still warm out of the oven. Nothing like tasting tradition again. I was overwhelmed by its taste. Later I would learn where all that flavor came from – together with caraway seeds, Wildflour‘s Pumpernickel contains cocoa, maple sugar and a shot of espresso.

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And it was with a shot of espresso that I enticed my husband to come to a gluten-free bakery with me. Gene is the coffee-and-cigarettes type. My better-half is unwilling to sacrifice much in the name of healthy habits, let alone taste. So, he didn’t have many expectations for the “no-wheat-zone” he was about to step into. But that only lasted the first bite into a blueberry scone. Wildflour’s version of his favorite delicacy, and a bold cup of coffee did the trick. Now, he is hooked as I am at sitting in the cafe and enjoying the ambiance of the place, while trying something new from their menu without any fear of disappointment. It didn’t take long for the photographers in us to get hungry, too. So we invited ourselves into the kitchen, camera and all – “What time does a baker get out of bed?”, we naively asked.

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At 5:15 AM, both Matt and Marilyn were already down by the oven rolling bread. Predictable in shape and size were their rolls, but not their conversations. The discussions went from global warming – “Last night’s heavy rain in the garden might have done some damage”; to the ethics of free range cattle – “It tastes better, too”; to participating in the slow food movement – “Chard from the farmer across the street should arrive today”. As I stare at their hands covered in dough someone mentions: “You better love your baker, ’cause a little of the baker goes into the dough.” At some point, I caught Marilyn looking at the veins on her hands as she bragged: “I worked hard to earn these”. I kept a list in my head of the nouns those hands were able to create so early in the morning: Foccacia. Challah. Biscotti. Scone. Danish.

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The bread was finally baked. Clouds of steam rolled out every time the oven door opened. We were enveloped in fresh-out-of-the-oven smells. The 16 baguettes that would be sold throughout the day took over the kitchen counter. Right there and then, one was sliced and covered with jam and butter. Equal portions were shared among all. Breakfast was served. Nothing will ever taste better. I asked Matt: “What is your favorite thing to bake?” Chocolate chip cookies, he answered, as he handed me a scoop of cookie dough that made me dream of what the baked version tasted like. When I mentioned I was from Brazil, Matt immediately asked about Pão de Queijo, a cheese puff typical from my home state of Minas Gerais. I promised to bring him the authentic yucca flour recipe. They played with the ingredients I listed, and came up with a delicious crisper and darker version of the round and creamy color of the Pão de Queijo I’ve known growing up. They will now serve Brazilian cheese puffs every Wednesday mornings. If they serve it as my father likes it, it will be eaten along side a tiny cup of espresso, filled with spoons of sugar.

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It’s 8 A.M.. Countless trays flowed out of the basement. The staircase stood as a reminder there was a whole world waiting. Counter, kitchen and tables lingered. The encased glass display was now filled with flavors. The door opened to it’s first customers of the day. The servers and the dishwasher soon lined up for duty. Since 7 A.M., Monica had taken over the kitchen prepping vegetables and leafy greens with the familiarity that can only come from being a vegetarian chef (Her blog La Vegetariana is proof – www.lavegetariana.com ). The lunch rush would soon take over this establishment. One of the servers carrying a stack of empty plates, proclaimed: “They loved the corn cakes. They just ordered one more.” Monica greased a pan for the task. The case of ripened mangoes would no longer wait to garnish this dish. Monica combined the sweet salsa with a stack of warm cakes. All I could say was Olé. And many are saying the same about their menu that is not only gluten-free, but vegetarian as well. Wildflour Bakery was included in the 2013 Jersey Critic’s Choice Restaurant Poll under the vegetarian category.

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Orders for late lunches were still coming in, but the counter of pastries was already busy with late afternoon customers hovering to take home any gluten-free treats left. It doesn’t take much for someone to feel lucky – the last macaroon or shortbread will do. Meanwhile, Marilyn is in charge of the less glamorous tasks in the restaurant business: payroll, placing orders, getting supplies. If only her restaurant management training in NY, would make it any easier. The dishes are all washed. The kitchen is cleaned. The bakery is dormant for the day. The doors are now locked. But Marilyn is still standing behind the counter looking at numbers. It’s a 12 hour day, everyday. Do they teach that in culinary school? That’s what my father remembers the most about the bakery – the long hours his father worked. The bakery opened its doors at 6 in the morning and wouldn’t stop serving customers until way past 10 P.M. My Grandfather moved his family to the upper floor of the bakery as the only way to keep up with the intense schedule. The building of Bakery Sul America would be where my grandfather lived and died. He was 61. My dad was 15 when his father, José Amaro, passed away. To “earn one’s bread and butter” takes a whole new meaning when you are the one standing by the oven.

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Photographers Jennifer Cabral and Eugene Pierce create high-end photo essays for blogging, web illustration and social media to attend the needs of independent professionals and small businesses. To learn more about their services visit www.jennifercabral.com

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“This house is yours”

After ringing the door bell, the gate was open to us. A polite and timid maid walked us through the garden. At the door, Dona Lourdes awaited us. My parents were received with a warm welcome by their friend of many years, and I, after being kissed and hugged, escaped to see the backyard. Immense buildings surrounded the property on all sides. The only allowed view was the sky above. But the sunlight was plenty for the decade-old-trees guarding the house. Fruits like Papaya, coffee and Jaboticaba (Myrciaria cauliflora) waited to ripen. Orchids housed by trees, thanked the hospitality with splashes of color on each branch. Pots were carefully planted with herbs that were used as spices, as well as, medicine. The memory of my dad crushing Boldo for his eventual hangovers came right back to me, as I saw some Peumus boldus growing there.

This backyard would’ve been unnoticed when growing up – just a typical house in my neighborhood. My Aunt Nenem’s place had an immense loquat tree (Eriobotrya japonica)attracting all kinds of birds, combined with a fish tank and wondering ladybugs – one would always come back home with me, inside a match box. At my Aunt Efigênia’s house, I would spend hours making bubbles using the stems of mamona, better known as, castor oil plant. No straws back then. Sometimes on my way home from school, I would stop by the Jaboticaba tree, at my friend Raquel’s house, for some snack. And all neighbors knew about the avocado tree next door: “It’s so big, it could kill you”, as some would describe the riped avocados that fell out of the sky.But all I had to do was to look up at the suffocating presence of skyscrapers over this house, to be reminded that places like this no longer exist. My hometown of Belo Horizonte, in Brazil, has become a permanent construction site. All houses from my childhood memories have been torn down, long ago. Progress, some say.

I’m invited inside. The table is set. Coffee, biscuits and pão de queijo, the regionally famous cassava flour bread, were served. My parents were having lively conversations and old stories were being shared like cups of coffee. I couldn’t resist the architecture and started to wonder around the place again. Inside, religious relics blessed and protected the home. Even from the precise ticking of the clock, it seemed. Time was still. Family history was hanging on the walls, as if intact. I walked down the hallway and found one of the rooms. A mosquito net and the open window made the humid South American air even more pronounced. Dona Lourdes walks in. “You can come and stay, anytime you want. This house is yours”, she said. And during an afternoon in May, I pretended it was.

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SUNDAY BRUNCH

eggs ©JenniferCabralIt’s white. Sky, air, trees and ground. Another blank page of a day. Who would’ve thought I would be fond of winters? Milk is frothing-hot. Rice milk. I’ve banned Almond milk in defense of bees. Almond butter included. I don’t feel like sustaining an industry that truck loads entrapped creatures cross country. 12 years a slave! That’s what bee colonies became. Since 2001, California increased it’s almond production and now hogs more than 80% of the world’s entire production. No, thanks. I can live on peanuts.

Gene grinned the coffee. It has a pretty name. Lyon. Its tin tells me I am defending lands and oceans, helping endangered species, aiding disaster relief. I’m a hero, and I am not even awake, yet. I hold my cup asking the same question I pronounce every time a Starbucks’ door swings open on a sidewalk: why doesn’t it tastes as good as it smells? I take brief sips followed by deep breaths of coffee.

A nest of brown shaded cocoons sit on the counter. As I cradled an egg on each hand, I pause. But ultimate design is meant to be practical. I crack the eggs open. 2 suns now sit in a bowl. Organic. not enough. Cage-free. No longer enough. Pasture-raised eggs are the old new way. According to the label, animals are now roaming free! This promise costs me $7 a dozen. The chickens down the road seem free. I just can’t make it there on time. Farm hours and rush hour are not compatible. I drive pass Cherry Grove every day and say: tomorrow.

Brown rice wrap is warmed up. I bite the gluten-free pouch filled with scrambled eggs, more dry than wet. I’ve sprinkled it with Flor de Sal. As close to lusitanian waters and Fernando Pessoa as I’ll ever get again. Coffee, eggs. A newspaper? No. I am on Twitter. Non-organic, caged, ranged news.

Time for the ritual. Sunday Brunch. I start with a bag of chamomile tea. Some lavender is thrown in. I place a towel over my head. Moist vapors clog my chest, but my pores are wide open. I breath the scent, but it’s lavender mascarpone I taste. Is the Princeton ice cream parlor open? I wash my face with a dabble of facial wash and a bit of baking soda. Rinse. I put aside a spoon full of egg whites. I whip it and cover my face with it. Something my mother taught me. I am white. It drys until I can’t move my lips. My sis would try to make me laugh every time. Good times. I rinse againand I am now protein infused. I pat my face dry and smother it with honey. Licking each finger, I wonder how is Mr. Tassot doing. He is fine. Beekeepers live forever, don’t they? My skin smiles. Rinse.

{ SUNDAY BRUNCH INGREDIENTS }

PASTURE RAISED EGGS | Cherry Grove Farm – Lawrenceville, NJ http://www.cherrygrovefarm.com/

LAVANDER MASCARPONE | The Bent Spoon – Princeton, NJ http://www.thebentspoon.net

FLOR DE SAL | Savory Spice Shop – Princeton, NJ http://www.savoryspiceshop.com/new-jersey/princeton.html

LYON COFFEE | La Colombe Lyon Coffee – Philadelphia, PA http://shop.lacolombe.com/collections/reserve/products/lyon

HONEY | Tassot Apiaries  – Melville, NJ http://www.tassotapiaries.com/honeylavender ©JenniferCabralflor de salbaking soda ©JenniferCabralcoffee ©JeniferCabral

Let’s work together? Photographer Jennifer Cabral creates high-end photo essays for blogging, web illustration and social media. To learn more about her 2B photo sessions visit www.jennifercabral.com

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LETTER TO A FELLOW ARTIST

smithPrinceton, NJ. | Monday, December 2nd, 2014.

Dear Photographer Pablo Ortiz Monasterio,

I was fortunate to attend your lecture “Mexican Portraits” at Princeton University last Monday. Part of me wished you were one of the speakers during the symposium Itinerant Languages of Photography organized by Princeton’s Spanish and Portuguese Department. Although you didn’t speak during those 3 days, your presence was felt. Your work was well represented in the exhibition and book with the same title. The words during your lecture were so soothing to me. Reading from the pages of your own books, you told us: a photograph is powerful. Not once upon a time, but today, during a time, when all we hear about is the silencing of images happening by their mere volume. There are too many images. There are cameras everywhere. Everyone is a photographer. But you whispered: images still have a voice. Maybe not in the promiscuous space of the internet, where photographs are posted, blogged, twitted and constantly reproduced out of context. But they have a voice loud and clear inside books. For sure, inside your books. Once incorporated into a page, a photograph is protected by a defined space. Separated. Individualized. Your words gave photography a skin. Book pages are like membranes. A contamination happens from within. The meaning of one image transmitted to the one that follows, and vice-versa. In pairs, images carry meanings previously nonexistent, but surely present as a double.

You reminded me I don’t want every one of my photographs spilled immediately into a Flickr-Instagram-Pinterest-ocean. But instead, I want my images to be edited, selected, sequenced, interpreted, so my work in photography can be purposefully and intentionally written. Maybe this way, we wouldn’t be destroyed in a “tsunami of images”, like Joan Fontcuberta told us. A volume of images that makes us dismiss, ignore, reject and discard images, no matter how relevant or powerful those images are. Take Susan Meisellas’ ebook Chile from within, for example. How come, everyone is not downloading this book? Not only a testament to a time when photographers tiptoed respectfully into the editing process; Walking barefooted among photographs carefully printed from hand-picked negatives; But a statement to the powerful process of creating and sharing images among fellow photographers, working for weeks, to read and write photography collectively.

Which is why I am grateful to Gabriela Nouzeilles and Eduardo Cadava for organizing, curating, and generously hosting “Itinerant Languages of Photography”. The book, exhibition and symposium gave photography a space. We read photography. We discussed photography. We looked at photography. Once again, Photography was observed, described and interpreted. Sometimes by scholars like Geoffrey Barchen illustrating a history imprinted with photographs; or by Professor Maurício Lissovsky, and his observations on the Greeks’ concern over the effects the written word would have on rhetoric. A lyric reminder that trivializes the current digital versus analog debate. But throughout the symposium photographers themselves stepped into the stage. They carried with them a questioning that sometimes can only be detected by a fellow artist’s eyes. The photographer is exposing himself. Depicting himself. Exhuming his own body of work right there on stage. And this questioning is always followed by an internal knowing: Art is never easy; It is challenging to create it; It is daring to present it; It is daunting to interpret it.

There is a kind of teaching that only comes from a fellow artist. At your lecture on Monday, or during the symposium, I was transported to a time when I’ve learned directly from other artists. A time when I was a student at Escola Guignard. An art school in Belo Horizonte, Brazil that throughout its history tried to balance the roots set by its founder and the demands of higher education. From the painter Guignard’s perspective, the lessons came as much from nature as from another artist. Guignard’s students became my teachers. Other artists also came and taught. Art was passed from artist to artist. Degrees and diplomas were a mere consequence.

For my husband, photographer Eugene Pierce, learning wasn’t much different. Some of his most memorable lessons also came from an artist. Gene was named after a family friend. This man was a frequent guest. He lived in and out of the darkroom that existed in the house. A kid less than 10, Gene was lured into that room. His curious observations as a child were not only acknowledged by this photographer, but were fed by him. Among negatives and prints; Among images and war; there was this man. A man wounded in war. A man with not enough time to document events like he wanted. Not enough money to support family or craft. Struggling but still producing images, still producing photographs, still being a photographer.

After listening to the Symposium’s closing remarks, Gene and I sat at Small World Coffee, in Princeton, and we had a catharsis of what we’ve just heard. Photography might not be dead, but it had been distorted, manipulated, infringed, reappropriated, to the point of becoming unrecognizable. And we felt impotent. There was a tsunami coming. A tsunami of images. How could we be heard? Like our voices muffled inside that cafe, our photography was disappearing. Gene still believes in the power of portraiture; in printing. I still believe in the power of the essay; in narrative. What can we do about it? We can’t change this. We can’t stop these tendencies that are seeping into every corner of this profession. The lack of skills. The trickery of effects. The false promises of technology. The indifference to the moment. We are sitting here, watching the death of a craft in an instant. And we feel paralyzed.

But this disempowerment only lingers until we walk into a museum; and we stare at a black and white print; and we become speechless in front of the beauty of a Graciela Iturbide’s photograph. Until we face the photo of a tortured man on the wall, just to realize he is not only photographer Marcelo Brodsky’s brother, but our own brother. Until we look at a photo of the streets in Buenos Aires to find layers of interpretation intentionally embedded by photographer Eduardo Gil. Until we see through the transparent work and soul of Salvatore Puglia. A gentle and humble artist that spoke of his work during the symposium, even thought he didn’t have to. His work alone said it all. Until I held your book La Ultima Ciudad, Pablo. And I am transported into a city. Mexico City. Carried there to roam its streets. In moments like these, we remember how loud of a voice photography has.

Sitting at the cafe that evening Gene and I started to gather our thoughts and strengths. Maybe we could fight this force. We could use the weight of our opponent, as if photography is some kind of martial art. And we committed right there and then to Gene’s out-loud-thoughts: “I could teach. These skills. This craft. I want to pass it on. One on one. In my own studio. To those who want to learn directly from a photographer.” As he said it, I could only think of the lessons that inevitably would have to come: How hard it is to become a photographer; How daring it is be a photographer; How daunting it is to continue to be a photographer. And most of all, that a photographer is not a brief self-pronounced-tittle, but a perpetual self-developed-skill.

Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, I thank you for your teachings. For passing your craft from an artist to the next. I hope this cycle continues. That artists can teach others, like I once was taught by Guignard’s disciples, and Gene was once exposed to a craft by W.Eugene Smith.

With much gratitude,
Jennifer Cabral-Pierce

Eugene Pierce and Jennifer Cabral are independent photographers living in Princeton, NJ. If you would like to learn more about their work and future projects just follow this blog.

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