Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Gem of a Book

One day at the library, as I was discharging some books, I came across a title that caught my eye.

Bringing Up, Bébé by Pamela Druckerman.

Even if you don't have any more babies to bring up, read this book. Since the book is written by an American, it's a fascinating look at motherhood and parenting and general life skills in the French culture and how these differ from the American way of parenting.

On eating:

It's hard for me to imagine a world in which moms don't walk around with baggies of Goldfish and Cheerios in their purses to patch over the inevitable moments of angst. Jennifer, a mother and a reporter for the New York Times, complains that every activity her daughter attends, no matter how brief or what time of day, now includes snacks. "Apparently we have collectively decided as a culture that it is impossible for children to take part in any activity without simultaneously shoving something into their pie holes," she writes.

In France the goûter is the official, and only, snack time. It's usually at about four thirty PM, when kids get out of school. It has the same fixed status as other mealtimes and is universally observed for kids. The goûter helps explain why those French kids I saw at the restaurant were eating so well. They were actually hungry, because they hadn't been snacking all day.

Even the goûter isn't a free-for-all. "The great thing is that there was cake to eat," recalls Clotilde Dusoulier, a French food writer. "But the flip side of the coin was that my mom would say, 'that's enough.' It was also teaching kids restraint."

Restraint is a good thing to learn. I'm sure I wouldn't find French children going through potluck meals and taking five, six, seven desserts on one plate. We've got to change the way we view food. And how we use it, either as a pacifier or for comfort.

Because at some point, it stops comforting and starts damaging and a nation has an obesity problem.


There's so many good things in this book that I'll highlight some more over the next few days.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Cleome, Queen of the Garden


Pretty flower for mid-late summer bloom.

It's also called the "spider flower" but I don't like spiders. So I'm calling it cleome - when I remember it's name at all, that is.
I bought one last year for the first time. It's very tall, blooms at a time when there's very little else blooming, and it lasts a long time. 

Mom and I were talking about it this past spring and I decided to get a couple more for the summer. Off to the garden shop the Man and I went.

Hmm, I wonder what kind of flower that was?

I described it to the very nice man at the garden shop and he knew exactly what I wanted.

Yay, Garden Shop Man!


This post is mainly to help me remember NEXT year when I decide I want the same flower. So if I see you next spring, and ask you - What was the name of the flower that I love for mid-late summer? - you can tell me.

Clever little clover, popping up in the middle of the grass.
I had no idea that corn had hair.
Or that it needs a shave.


I'm sitting in my cozy, comfy chair watching the Olympics and writing this post. J walks in all hot and sweaty from playing tennis with K. He's been teaching her how to play and getting her out to practice with him. 

Good exercise. Fun exercise.

J and his friends are a bit obsessed with tennis right now, did I mention that? As in, they play ALL THE TIME. For hours at a time. They find strangers on the courts to double up with and play against. They eat, breathe, and drink tennis this summer.

They are constantly looking for newer, better tennis rackets and buying cans and cans of tennis balls, water bottles, looser shorts, sweat bands, and so on. Obsessed, I tell you.

So I'm sitting in my cozy, comfy chair and the Olympics are on. John McEnroe is interviewing the American women's beach volleyball team. While J and I are chatting, he keeps looking at the TV. Finally he says, "Who is THAT guy? He looks so familiar."

The Man and I say, "That's John McEnroe, the tennis player."

J looks relieved, "Oh, yeah, I knew he looked familiar." Well, of course he does, he's one of the most famous tennis players ever.

"He's on all my tennis ball cans."

I wonder if John knows how famous he is.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Out For a Sunday Drive

The Man and I took a drive today.

A Sunday drive, just like my grandparents used to do. We didn't start out that way. We were on our way to visit someone in the hospital, over two hours away. We left bright and early - directions, GPS, and iPhone in hand. 

Water bottle? Check.

Camera? Check.

Good. We're off. Into the rain again. 

Two hours and fifteen minutes later we arrive at the hospital. And find out that our someone has been discharged.


What? I called yesterday. And was told our someone was there.

I should have called today.



Me: I should have called this morning. I'm sorry I wasted our day.

Man: It's not wasted. I got to spend it with you.

Boy, is he good.
My pretty colored wooden shoes aren't so pretty right now.

I found a monster sized spider hiding behind one of the shoes, tucked under the heel. I think he's the culprit behind all the webs covering my shoes. All twelve of my shoes. That's a lot of spider web, in case you're wondering. It looks like something out of a B-movie.

Nothing a little shop-vac can't get rid of.

Take that, Mr. Scare-me-silly Spider.
Lobsters are cheap, cheap, cheap right now.

Dad and Sissy and Sissy's family came over and we all went to pick up our steamed lobsters at the local market. No muss, no fuss. Just bright red lobsters, ready to eat.

Top dinner of the summer. It was unanimous.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Of Twerps and Dogs

Rain is like cod liver oil.

It's good for you but it sure isn't fun taking it.

I guess we need the rain.

But it was gloomy around here today.
Sometime mid-afternoon we had to leave for the Man's company family picnic. He was looking forward to it. I was ambivalent.

Big, black clouds rolled in about an hour before we left. Thunder rumbled, lightning flashed, and then came the rain. All the way to the picnic.

Rain, rain, rain.

Oh, and look, there's a flash flood just like the weather channel said there would be. Time to get to higher ground, Man. The weather man said so. 

I've never seen a flash flood before, and judging from the huge miscalculation the driver across from us made, trying to make a left turn in the middle of the flood and CROSSING IN FRONT OF US WHILE WE HAD A GREEN LIGHT to do so, I don't think she'd ever seen a flash flood either. Or she wouldn't have attempted that left turn, been forced to STOP OR HIT US, and then semi-floated further into the intersection.

Can you tell how agitated I was from all those capital letters?


So we're at this picnic and there are lots of little kids around. Lots.

I think the median age of the kids was four years old. K came with us - she was the oldest at eighteen. Then there was a sixteen year old, an eleven year old, and a million kids under the age of 6.

The host of the party bought lots of toys for all these little ones. I couldn't get K to play with the bubbles. Or the hula hoop.

All the kids were preoccupied with some sort of spring loaded plastic toy that looked kind of like an ice cream cone and had a small ball in it. You push the button, the ball shoots out of the cone, and then you try to catch it.

Forget that.

What do you think kids are going to do with a toy that shoots a projectile? 

Yup, they started shooting people. 

A ball hit my leg while I was eating my hamburger. It didn't hurt, just startled me. What hurt was what the little twerp said as he came over to get his ball. He turns to look at his brother behind him and says, "Oh-ho, I hit the old lady."

Old lady?


I choked on my hamburger, proving his point. I am old. I can't even chew a hamburger.

K started laughing, and it's a good thing that little twerp ske-daddled out of there.

It was no consolation but the Man assured me that to a six year old, anyone over the age of twelve is old.


Rain, rain, go away.

And take all those little twerps with you.
Jack is like a six year old.

In and out, all day long.

These are the dog days of summer.

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Beach Story, Chapter Two

Once upon a time there was a family at the beach. And there was a little girl in this family that had so much love in her, it bubbled up and came out.

Just in time for her auntie to snap! and catch that love forever in a photograph.
The little girl loved, loved, loved lying on the warm summer sand with her daddy. She could stay on that blanket all day, bending her knees, feet in the air, swaying back and forth while she traced patterns in the sand with her fingers.

Until she spied her auntie taking her picture. 
One night the family was at that dangerous beach, the one with the sh-sh-sh-shark.

The other little girl in the family wanted to be a lifeguard. She took her job very seriously, scanning up and down the beach. 

For about five minutes.

Then she jumped up in the air and off the lifeguard chair, lickety-split.

There was a piece of driftwood lying in the sand. Time to explore.
Jumping the waves. This family has played this game for many years, since the older cousins were little ones a long, long time ago.

E can hardly contain herself. She loves to jump the waves the most I think.
There was a boy in this family who had a girlfriend, Princess Girlfriend. She tried to take some nice photos of the boy and his sissy.

But sometimes what starts out so sweet can go so sour, so fast.

Can you see the boy's sissy hunching over, protecting her gut as the boy's arm starts to come up? She knows what's coming next. He's looking for trouble and she's going to make sure he finds it. The boy's sissy and Princess Girlfriend can hold their own against the boy. Good thing they don't take any guff from him. 

The boy gives a lot of guff.
Cotton candy clouds reflected in the water.

The sunset that night was spectacular.
The boy and Princess Girlfriend.


Kissing because the boy's mom asked them to. She wanted to take this photograph for them.

So they kissed.
And there were fireworks.

The end.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Daydreams and Jumping Beans

I have this action called "cross processing" that I love, love, love on certain photos, like the two above. 

Cross processing is deliberately processing photographic film in a chemical solution that is meant for another type of film. It does quirky things to color and tends to give the photo an older look, kind of like seventies Polaroid pictures.

They are a bit wonky but I heart them.
I want to know...

....what is going on behind those gorgeous blue eyes?

...what is P taking a picture of? 

...why Sissy and K were calling me to take a photo of the shadow heart they were making when I had a perfectly good heart silhouette right before me?

...what is my BIL pondering, standing at the edge of the ocean?
Two sissies. 

Couldn't be any more different sometimes. Especially when it comes to critters.

E loves crab hunting, and picking up crabs, and letting the little ones crawl all over her hands.

D? Not so much.

She's looking a little bit stressed to be holding that crab. But she was determined to hold it.

Brave girl.

Bravo, girl!
J and P.

P hid from me all weekend. I had to sneak photos of her.

She finally relented and smiled pretty for the camera.

Thank you, P.

Can't you just feel the love in these photos? 

All these cousins have



fun together as they 





The girls in the top right photo do not belong to us. They are simply some random strangers that were shooting behind me and I couldn't resist taking some photos of their great jumps. 

Thanks, strangers.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Beach Story

Once upon a time a family spent the weekend at the beach.

Restful. Fun. Gorgeous weather.

It was not a highly ambitious weekend. The people spent lots of time playing on the beach, in the water, looking for shells.
Auntie found pretty light in Uncle T's dining room.

She had pretty models for about seven point three seconds. The girly girls taught their auntie a trick from another aunt, Miz Boo. She is a wonderful photographer.

We turn away from the camera, Auntie, and count, One, Two, Three, Turn! and when we look back, we'll have smiles on our faces.

That is a very nice trick, Miz Boo. It works great.
One night all the people went over to the really dangerous beach where the big, horrible, great white shark was seen swimming, chasing after seals, and gobbling them up.

They looked up the beach. They looked down the beach.

All they found was a pretty little family taking some pictures of themselves.
Another day, the boy made his Mama-lou try kayaking.

Mama-lou did not want to try kayaking. She has kayaked before. It is hard work, especially on the arms. But Mama-lou was a good sport and kayaked for her boy. 

Because he said the magic words, I really want to kayak with my mom.

Just breathtaking.
The boy who knows how to get his Mama-lou to do what he wants.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Own Deck of Cards

Guess what came in the mail this week?

My business cards!

Although I use the word "business" quite loosely since I don't have a photography "business." I have a photography "thing". Meaning I shoot for people who pay me, but only through word of mouth - no advertising.

I'm very exclusive, you know.

Recently over the past few months, I have had past clients ask me for business cards to give to friends. Word of mouth at work, folks. So I have been trying to design a card, or logo, or something to print on the face of the card and hemmed and hawed over design styles, colors, names, slogans, and all the other advertising angles you can think of. After agonizing over this for weeks, and finding it hard to commit to one design, I finally found a blogpost written by a photographer who wrote something like this:

Why would a photographer choose a design element for their business logo? If a photographer isn't using his/her own work on their business card, they're missing a golden opportunity to showcase their work. 

Well, honest to Pete, that made a whole lot of sense to me. Keep it simple, stupid.
I went straight to tinyprints, my most favorite card making company, and found this gorgeous card template.

Three of my favorite photos. 

Each unique. 

Each telling a story.

They are just what I wanted and just what I had been waiting for. Thank you, Mr. Photography Blogger.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Distracted Me

Day off today.

I woke up determined to make this a most productive day -  cleaning and organizing, sorting and washing. I have lots to do to whip this house into shape. It started out fine. I changed the sheets on the bed. Brought them downstairs and immediately got a load of wash going.

There. Fantastic start.

Hmmm. It's pretty hot already and it's only 8:30 am. I don't want to get overheated so I better take a short break and get a glass of water.

While I'm drinking, I should check facebook and see if anyone messaged me about the photo shoots we've been scheduling. Answered a few messages. Wished someone a happy birthday. And remembered that it was my turn to do snack tonight at knitting. Better look at Pinterest to find a couple recipes. But first, I need to get my morning coffee. I haven't had it yet. I really need that if I'm going to be settling in to my cozy chair to find a recipe or two. 

Go get morning coffee. Heat it up in the microwave since the Man made it at o'dark thirty this morning before he left for work and it's long since gone cold. Settle in to my chair and grab the laptop. Search Pinterest

and search

and search

and search.

Take a sip of coffee, discover it is ice cold, and look at the clock. How can this coffee have cooled off in just five minutes?

Uh-oh. It's 9:45 am. Well, that's still okay. Plenty of time to clean and straighten.

But first I should go to the grocery store and get what I need to make snack tonight. And something for dinner. I'm feeling a bit domestic today so I guess I could make a side dish or two, seeing as how I'm still not cooking.

That means a grocery list. Which means I have to check my pantry so I don't buy any more black beans. I always think I'm out of black beans and buy a can or two when I shop. Then I get home to discover that I have seventy-two cans stored in the pantry. Not today, no sir. Today I'm checking the pantry.

By the time I get out of the house, I have to go grocery shopping, stop at one bank to deposit J's check, stop at another bank to deposit change from my change jar, and run to the post office to get stamps and mail some letters for the Man. 

It's 11:00 am. Not good.

Get to the first bank, realize I left the change jar at home, and run back home to get it.

It's 11:30 am. Really not good.

Head back out. Bank. Again. Grocery shop. Post office.

It's 12:30 pm. Feeling a little pressure about the time but that just makes me glisten more so I get another glass of water and sit down for a minute.

(By the way, I don't sweat. I glisten.)

Decide to chop up all the vegetables and fruits I need for the recipes and get those done. It's a good thing I was making healthy dishes because there was snacking going on. I had to. There was no time for lunch, people.

There, all the dishes are made and in the refrigerator. And it's only 2:00 pm.

I still have time to do some cleaning before knitting tonight. I decide to start in the living room and pick up the first few things I see - a few items I got at the flea market last weekend at the beach.

The beach?

Wasn't I supposed to pick something up for Uncle T? To bring back this weekend?

Oh no. I have to go back out. 


Back in the car. Drive as fast as the speed limit allows, run in to the craft store, search for the one item that can't be found anywhere in the store, finally find it, buy it, and start for home.

Oh, look. There's Kohl's. Maybe I should stop in. They were having a really good sale last week. I might be able to find a top to match those shorts I bought for the Man's company picnic in a few weeks. Try on twenty-seven tops to find one I like.

It's after 4:00 pm when I get home and the Man is already there. No more cleaning for me today.

Score - 

Cleaning and Productive me : 0
Distracted me : 1

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Corn {People}


That's what comes to mind when I wandered out into the Man's garden tonight. 

With permission, of course. He told me to go out and tend to my basil. I had to pinch off flower heads. But that's all he let me do. That was enough. I had flip flops on and sank into dusty, dry dirt. By the time I was finished plucking off flower heads, I had hobbit feet. 

You can barely see the Man through the tomato plants and corn. He's the tiny orange plop of color in the back right. All this hot, humid weather has been marvelous for the plants. 
K standing next to the corn. I can't believe how high it is. 

There's a bright golden haze on the meadow,
There's a bright golden haze on the meadow,
The corn is as high as an elephant's eye,
An' it looks like its climbin' clear up to the sky.

Oh what a beautiful morning,
Oh what a beautiful day,
I've got a wonderful feeling,
Everything's going my way.

Thank you Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Hammerstein. Now I know how high corn grows.
I had to clip K's feet in order to get the height of the corn. I was using my 85mm lens and had backed up as far as I could. It wasn't enough. Sorry K. I'll try to leave your feet attached next time.
Wandering through the corn, I thought they looked like little ladies and gentlemen with some mighty fancy hair-dos.

One had long wavy blonde hair, blowing in the breeze, while Ms. Corn looked up at the sky. One had shorter blonde hair, more like Animal from the Muppets. Mr. Short Hair Corn looked like a drummer, waiting for a band to appear. And then there was Ms. Red Head. Very glamorous, very 1960s looking, kind of like Ginger from "Gilligan's Island".
K and I played Yahtzee tonight. We had lots of laughs over fortuitous rolls of the die. And not so fortuitous. At one point, we thought we should play the reverse - who could score the fewest total points.

Yahtzee = summer.

Mom and I used to play Yahtzee all summer long. I'm carrying on this summertime tradition with my own.

I hope she plays it with her daughter some summer day and thinks about me.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Beach Drama

Hot, hot, hot.

I put ice in this water and it was gone, gone, gone in about ten seconds.

We escaped to the beach this weekend for a brief respite from the heat. 


The heat followed us.

On a perfect beach day, the wind would be blowing this light, airy, gauzy curtain all over - fluttering to and fro as the breeze blows in and out of the window.

Do you see this curtain blowing?

Me either. Which means no cooling breeze, no dry air, and no respite from the heat.

Oh well.

At least we can get wet.


The tide was way, way out during the hottest part of the day so we could not swim until dinner time.


This isn't working out the way I pictured it.
We had good company this weekend. Nana the Great came to the beach with my dad. 

Yay! Nana!

I feel twelve again when Nana is around. 

We crocheted together. Just like we used to do when I really was twelve.
My gorgeous niece, MR. I caught her just after she came out of the shower and made her come outside with me.

I needed a model.

I didn't even let her comb her hair. 
I've been reading a book about the history of color and photography. So many gorgeous pictures in this book.

I seem to be drawn to pictures that are mostly monochrome with a tiny splash of color.

Like the photo above.

I love the red boat most of all, amidst all that neutrality.
This big sky has drama written all over it. All kinds of clouds and deep color. Sunlight reflecting off the bottoms of some of those clouds and stormy looking clouds sliding in and under.

Can you see the contrails on the right side of the picture?

I love sitting on the beach, looking up at the sky, and wondering where all those people are going. I wonder whether they are leaving home or going home. And whether they are leaving someone behind or meeting someone at the other end. Is someone sitting at a window, silent tears welling up, as they watch the land fall farther away? And is someone else stifling a giggle, barely able to sit still, knowing that the person they love most is waiting for them, watching the skies for their plane to arrive?

Yup, there's drama in the sky.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Great North Woods

Spent the weekend in the Great North Woods. My sissy-in-law and her husband have a gorgeous Victorian home in a quintessential New England town. 

Walking distance to the town center. Acres and acres of wildflowers. A beautiful view wherever you look. If only they didn't get so much snow in the winter.
We went out to dinner at a fun, colorful Italian restaurant with outdoor seating. 

And pink flamingos. Everywhere.

It was a perfect summer evening to sit outside and drink wine, laugh over shared memories,  and eat some amazingly delicious food.

I have found the perfect Caesar salad. Of course, I say that after every Caesar salad I eat.

I really do like them.


While everyone was talking last evening, I meandered around the house looking for details. I like shooting the little things that make up the big thing.

I think those are what people usually like about something but can't pinpoint it.
My sissy-in-law has the most welcoming, cheerful house. 

It looks like it's smiling.

No matter where you find yourself, there is always a cozy spot to settle in and have a visit. We did that all afternoon while the guys were out in the fields, walking property lines. 
When I got back to the house, my sissy-in-law asked if I had gotten some good shots.

Oh, yes.

I asked her about the flowers growing in her fields and told her I had walked way up behind the house to get some pictures looking down. She wasn't sure what kind of flower it was but mentioned that I was near the area she normally sees the bears. 



I told her next time she should share that information with her visitor before they go wandering around outside, looking like dinner to some big old hungry bear.
Some pretty daisies that my brother-in-law picked so sissy-in-law could put them in our bedroom.


Thanks, guys, for such a nice weekend.