Saturday, November 23, 2013


Dean is taking a photo class at school, and loving it. Black and white, actual film -- learning how to process film and print his own photos. Loving it. I'm trying to let only the right dollop of my joy level show; yes, I want him to love it and have been trying for the past, oh, 11 years or so to put a camera in his hands, but I don't want to overwhelm him. I know I can be overwhelming when I mean well, so I'm trying to be an encouraging voice on the sidelines in a way that makes being there appreciated.

The rolls of film I ordered for him haven't arrived yet (I'll let you know if it turns out a certain online source was bogus or not). The 200 sheets of paper on which to print have arrived; I told him that being able to be free to do what it takes to get the print you want is important and it was a luxury neither Ken nor I really had during our own photo class days.  He is working with a camera provided by school -- I haven't been able to convince him to try one of my cameras yet, but I did manage to get him to let me change the lens for him on our expedition today.

His weekend assignment was to shoot landscape, so I asked if he wanted to check out the beach. We're about an hour from the ocean but we rarely ever go -- traffic in the summer is ridiculous, and there isn't generally the enthusiasm for the leaving-before-dawn-to-get-a-parking-spot aspect of the journey. Today was sunny and cold-ish (45f) and windy and it felt fantastic to breathe in that salty air and walk -- although we should have brought hats and gloves and all. Next time. I'd planned to take us to a more wild/secluded-ish kind of beach, but a massive roadworks project meant we couldn't get there so we just stumbled upon a spot in Lynn with parking and a long, wide beach just waiting for us. (Boston area beach access tells a fascinating story of major wealth vs. old-time working class, as well as of the prominence of commercial verses recreational use of the ocean; as you can imagine, the story twines around accessibility to the water -- a concept which, as a Chicagoan raised on something like 25 miles of publicly accessible, beautiful lakefront, is foreign to me.)

 Trying not to get ahead of what our shared story might be. Eager to see his work, when he's ready to share, and to be able to talk about photography. He loves it, meanwhile -- did I mention?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Making art and making the grade

I have done everything I could, always, to encourage Dean in the arts.  Oodles and oodles of supplies, and time to experiment, and conversations, and always saying what I truly believe -- that everyone is an artist.  Our output is the output that we, and we alone, are capable of producing.  We may judge our output harshly, against all those killer standards that beat us all down one way or another, but the reality is that we can all make art and that the art we make is uniquely our own.  Art is visual, auditory, aural and oral.

Dean was always a "process" guy growing up -- much, much more interested in getting his hands deep into the paint and rubbing over and over the surface telling a story as he went (a story that was obliterated in the end, but that gave him pleasure in the making), much more engaged with seeing how much color and texture he could put down but not interested in the end result.  He'd draw, a little, again to tell his own stories, but it wasn't his passion and I can't think of the last time he drew anything.  He still loves to dance, but on his own terms (although he is looking forward to a dance class later this year).  He does play piano, and is newly inspired to push himself to practice and experiment more.  But, at least at this point in his journey, he doesn't feel that he's a visual artist and doesn't have a great deal of interest.

His school, however, requires that all students work across all disciplines, and he must take music, visual arts, dance, theater (and all students focused on the arts must meet requirements across every other academic discipline).  He just finished up his Sculpture 1 class, and stands next to himself up there -- self portrait, full-sized bust in cardboard.

I see his work and I am thrilled.  I know how far out of his comfort zone he has been in this class, and I am awed by his work.  On the other hand, I understand that this is a real, academic course -- the school takes the arts seriously.  I get that.  I even understand how other students in the class produced *better* work.  But the bummer is that he got a grade he's not happy with in the class, which tragically has him re-convinced that he's NOT an artist and wanting to shimmy his way out of any other visual arts courses.  (He will have a photography class coming up, and he feels pretty positive about what he'll be able to accomplish).  I wish there were some middle ground; I wish there were some feedback the teacher could have given him that was more encouraging, even if that had to be the grade.  It's difficult to teach someone how to deeply engage with the art they are tasked with making (my mom was an art teacher so I had a front-row seat on this), how to show their thought process even if their execution is deemed somehow lacking. Back to that business about loving the process -- if he's engaged in the process and the thinking, should that "count?  I believe so.  You don't begin to make art unless you feel good about and are willing to undertake the process.

And the grade isn't the end of the world in my eyes, by the way -- but the issue is the way Dean interprets that....

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

And on

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I stopped carrying my camera with me today, because it is heavy and I already had a lot to transport to and from work and and and.  And I missed the opportunity to take a photo of the incredible praying mantis that was hanging out on a bush just outside my office door. So THAT tells me something....

I have an idea about doing some little something of clean up in my studio every day for the next thirty days, but the count will not coincide with the calendar because I don't quite have it in me to jump in yet.  I type that and instantly feel lame; I do just need to do it. Kind of so much to juggle every day in life already -- we're in one of those "just need to make it through the next couple of weeks" mode with a zillion things going on for each of us and me feeling in the center needing to hold it all together for every one.

Right. And that's really what's at the heart, for me, about the challenge of choosing to do something every day that will feel positively productive. I will try. I will start now, and I will try. And meanwhile I will see about remembering to carry my camera with me.

September thirty

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September twenty nine

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

September twenty eight

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Friday, September 27, 2013

September twenty seven

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My friend Polly is wondering who else might still be playing along, trying or practicing or perfecting something for 30 days.  Doesn't matter if you've been on top of every day, but have you been having some fun that you'd like to share?

I'm glad to see the end on the horizon, as much as I have enjoyed these 27 days of photography.  It does sometimes feel burdensome, either in the taking or the posting (or the thinking about or the adding it to the to-do list), but to have the body of work to look at and ponder -- that's where the beauty of really pushing yourself to do a thing every day really pays off.  Thinking about whether or not to continue, or to try something different, or -- bold thinking -- to continue and ADD something.  Natalie would be proud....

September twenty six

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September twenty five

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

September twenty four

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Late afternoon brilliant sunshine, and another brilliant win. Gryphons remain undefeated....

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September twenty three

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And so it begins.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

September twenty second

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I  would not blame you in the least for thinking some over-wrought PhotoShop enhancement were at work here, but I tell you honestly -- this is straight out of the camera. It was still summer in New Jersey this morning, before we headed north for home.

September twenty one

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We attended a magnificent 90th birthday party today in New Jersey, for Ken's uncle.  What a long-over due chance to spend time with this branch of Ken's family!  Dean hadn't been down since he was a toddler, so of course for him this really was for all practical purposes his first time.  Dean, left, is standing with Tyler, who is two months older than Dean.  Tyler is the son of Ken's cousin's son -- not sure there's any kind of name for this relationship (cousins twice removed? thrice removed? who knows?) but to me there is certainly a family resemblance.

Friday, September 20, 2013

September twenty

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Happy Friday, indeed.  For all the grousing we do about the weather at other times of year, New England remains patient with us, and focused -- she knows she's going to come through with a spectacular fall.  Every time.  And she'll have us on our knees begging forgiveness for every and any unkind thing we may have ever said about the weather, because THIS is heaven on Earth.  Thank you, New England; I do love you.

September nineteen

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September eighteen

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September seventeen

Yeah, I know. Indulge me. Gryphons are off to an amazing 3-0 start.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September sixteen

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

September fifteen

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Today is the half-way mark on the 30-day challenge. Time to start thinking about what the next 30-day project might be!

September fourteen

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September thirteen

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Great day for the home opener, and the Gryphons are off to a 2-0 start.  Dean looks so much bigger to me out there this year....

Thursday, September 12, 2013

September twelve

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This one is just for fun (with license plate altered) -- parking next to her made me feel very safe and in good company.  I kind of love it when people wear their hearts on their cars....

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September eleven

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September 10

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Monday, September 9, 2013

September nine

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No, I didn't set out to capture a month of flowers. It's not even how I'd even think to define September in New England. But there you go.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September eight

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

September seven

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Right at this moment it is summer, and fall.

Friday, September 6, 2013

September six

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I am inspired today by this quotation, shared by Dean's school:

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up & get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part & a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you." ~ Chuck Close

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

September 4

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September three

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Monday, September 2, 2013

September two

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

September one

I am jumping back in with a 30-day challenge; I will be taking a photo a day for the month of September (with the goal of telling the very story of this particular September) and posting them here each day. We'll see if that jump-starts me, on several levels.

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I invite you to come along; no rules or regulations, no point at which the 30-day count must start or end. Just challenge yourself to do something every day for a month and see where it takes you.

Friday, April 26, 2013

What comes

Hope where it may be found, joy where it may be allowed in.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

At least the days are longer

Recognizing a sense of unrest in myself; waiting for things to unfold. It's been an itchy, confining last half of winter and I can't even remember the last time the roads were clear enough to go out for a walk. (There are no sidewalks in our area, so in winter when the roadsides are choked with snow it's not safe to walk AND you run the risk of being spattered head-to-toe by passing cars.) I hate feeling complainy about the weather, but I'm ready for change.

First day of spring, out my back door....

Friday, March 15, 2013


Warm, moist breezes are pulling back the blanket of snow and releasing the sprouting bulbs I planted last fall (transplanted, actually, from our old house). I savor the rush of emotions; winter is letting go, spring is rushing on, and we are settling in more and more to a place we are making our own. The best kind of change is surrounding us.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Even after all the blizzards we've had this winter, these surfaces were all pretty clear until today.... Wish we could have friends over to play in it with us and help us remember the fun parts of snowy days!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

what you want to see more of

I had a fantastic birthday. Truly. I will admit to some measure of pre-birthday indifference (which is not my usual style); I didn't wallow, I just kind of *noticed* it and moved forward.

I went ahead and made chocolate cupcakes with Kahluha buttercream frosting, Ken took the day off from work, and Dean had a late-start school morning so we were able to ease into the proceedings.

We take all kinds of little back roads, and pass through several old town centers (the parts of some very historic towns -- you see lots of "Established 1698" signs and that sort of thing -- that are on what were once main roads but are now the backwaters) on our way to Dean's school every day, and my plan for my birthday was to do some exploring. We parked, got out of the car, and went into one-of-a-kind, local shops where the owners are there working behind the counter. We had lunch in a place that never was and never will be part of a chain (charmingly, while they do not accept credit cards, they just send cash-strapped customers down the street to the ATM -- "just go get some cash and then come back and pay your bill"). We whiled away the day and then picked Dean up at school and made a couple more stops before going to an exquisite Japanese restaurant for dinner.

I wish for their sake that the place had been crowded, but on the other hand it was a Tuesday, it was early, and the weather had turned less-than-pleasant (sleet) by that time. We will definitely go back, and swoon once again at the fresher-than-fresh sushi, and perfect miso soup, and kindly attentive service.
And since it was a school night, and a work night, we headed home early and the boys put a candle on one of those cupcakes for me.

Middle age is an interesting territory.  I get it now, why some people kind of flip out at this point. Suddenly age isn't *just* a number, it starts to give you some very definite physical reminders of its presence -- the kind that remind you that you aren't getting any younger. There's no way to avoid the drive to take stock, to think about being in the back half. I only wish it all didn't fly by so quickly. Really -- the ONLY thing that gives me pause about being 51 is that it feels completely impossible for that much time to have passed. Slippery. inevitable, fleeting time.

But I refuse to let that stop me from being delighted on my birthday, and celebrating.

Celebrate what you want to see more of.  Aren't those words to live by?

Friday, February 15, 2013


I'm often enough delighted by the graphics that people post to Facebook; the funnies, the profound, the kind and gentle reminders about the joys in life. I thought I'd play around a little with the idea; for no particular reason today (well, other than perhaps to avoid things like housework and shoveling snow) I put this together quickly as a test. Harry Callahan taught at the Institute of Design in Chicago, where my mother was one of his students. I'm sorry to say that what comes up when you search his name is fairly disappointing (the Wiki entry is pathetic), but he was a master of the photography of *ordinary* things and moments (if there are any such things).

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A repetition

He's coming!

Will you be ready? 


I have always loved Groundhog Day.  And really, what's not to love?  It is ancient and  mysterious and comes without any fanfare in your local shopping emporium!  It gives us some hope in the grip of winter, something fun and joyful and silly and profound.  It made for a great movie, too.

I'm not exactly sure how I managed to find a groundhog cookie cutter, but if you're feeling the need I see there's a similar one here.  I can't recommend the new recipe I tried for chocolate-espresso shortbread (way too dry), but if a deep dip in dark chocolate to represent that peek out from the burrow isn't appropriate AND taste-saving I don't know what is.

We'll be having fondue for dinner on Saturday, in front of a roaring fire and with that certain perfect movie on screen.

And I'll be thinking of my dad, who passed away 14 years ago on Feb 2.  I cannot believe it has been that long.  I still miss him and think of him every day.  And yet it's a little easier every year to smile when I think about all the jokes he would have made about passing away on Groundhog Day -- really, he would have found that endlessly amusing.

Celebrate the day, won't you? And let's hope he does not see his shadow....

Monday, January 14, 2013


I think I baked my first loaf of bread when I was about 9 or 10 years old. My parents had a friend who was a bread baker who was happy to bake a batch with me, and back then (early '70s) homemade bread meant dense, dark loaves with lots of grains and "stuff" that made the bread healthy and clearly homemade. Not one single thing wrong with that, and I do still love those kinds of breads.

I've gone in and out with bread making over the years -- varying degrees of time to devote to it, and varying degrees of interest around the house in eating it. I do make pizza dough every Friday, but that's a story for another day.

So it happens that Dean gave me The Bread Bible for Christmas, and I set aside time over this past weekend to try out the recipe for hearth bread.  It was the first time I went through the "sponge" process where you put the beginnings together one day and let it sit overnight before beginning to actually make the final dough. Wow. I turned out a loaf that's wonderfully rich and dense, yet not heavy (does that make sense?) -- Dean and Ken both declared it "restaurant bread-basket worthy." None of the steps was difficult, but it did require being around on "day 2" to manage the various rises and all. Totally worth the effort.

And now I get at least a few days worth of my favorite breakfast -- toast made with good bread. A nice reason to have winter, I think.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New again

I'm pretty sure that someone I know made a new year's resolution to be nicer/friendlier. It's kind of funny (and fun, and pleasant) to be on the receiving end; she wasn't necessarily evil, or anything, before, but she's noticeably nicer these days. Do you think it will last? I'm trying to be supportive by being a happy receiver of her chipper greetings and her new "so how are YOU doing?!" efforts and also trying to make a point of giving back even more random friendliness to her.

Meanwhile, this could be the first year of my life (since about, maybe, age 12 or so?) that I haven't really made any resolutions. Nope. No grand (nor quiet) pronouncements on New Year's Eve, no carefully composed nor hastily scribbled list. I did say that my goal would be to have a party at some point this year (it's been since about forever that we've had a party, unless you count Dean's birthday parties which I don't think I am going to count), and I'd really like to make that happen. But otherwise, nope.

It's not that I lack for self-improvement ideas, or more, um, meaningful goals than throwing a party.

It's more that I've decided to trust myself. Yup, it's a good idea to get up and take a walk whenever possible. I know which foods to eat more of and which less. Getting more organized would always help, as would finishing up projects. But I don't need to make lists and feel guilty and give up or whatever. I just need to enjoy life and be happy and balance doing the things I know I should, the things I need to do, the things I want to do. Do it because it's right/meaningful/necessary (or decide purposefully what NOT to do), but not because it's on a list hanging over my head.

As I get older, I am slowly appreciating more that being happy is what matters, and that there are all kinds of voices in my head that I need to shut OUT in order to just enjoy life. That nagging vague dissatisfaction (which can get driven by making too many lists!) is the thing that I am trying to cast out. Not getting all hyper-ventilate-y over having things go a certain way. Whatever! It CAN be all good, if that's how I decide to look at things.

Who knows how often I'll get here to post? I like being able to come here sometimes and look back at where I've been, and that's my incentive to keep putting things here from time to time. Happy to have you along for the ride, if and when your own spirit moves you.


And I may still do a 2012 in review here, because there's no such thing as "too late."