There's a New Kid in Town...

Meet my newest friend. He actually arrived on my doorstep a week and a half ago but with work, an out-of-town guest and a Preschooler, he patiently waited in the background for me to turn my attention [and affections] to him.

Then today, when the energizer-bunny [a.k.a. Harrison] went up for a nap, I settled down to catch up on some blog visiting and basic internet browsing. I only got as far as opening one blog and today's Shutter Sisters post. From there I visited Hula Seventy since she was the guest blogger today and it was all about TtV (Through the Viewfinder) something I have been interested in for several months.

Suddenly I remembered my new little friend. (and the cereal box I had emptied out and hurriedly tossed into the craft room in anticipation for said camera's arrival.)

In a fit of inspiration, I rushed upstairs and grabbed the camera, box and a brand new roll of black duct tape and went to work - after all, I had less than an hour to put it all together and try it out.

Sitting in the corner pouting was the Brownie Hawkeye with it's frightfully sad contraption attached. I want to share my first contraption because Hula referred to her contraption as the ugly duckling of TtV contraptions. This one's for you; I may have you beat in the ugly, you've-got-to-be-kidding department!

Me thinks my Brownie contraption fell of the Island of Misfit Toys! Or at least misfit contraptions. Yes, there is a story behind the top of that mess above. But as temporary as the contraption was, so it was with the story and I can no longer recall why I went whack-happy with the exacto knife only to tape it right back on again... hey, it worked.

One last picture from the Brownie for a while.
I admit, like Hula, I could not abide by the REALLY great template instructions I found on the web. I had to dive in with both feet and hands, sissors & tape flying to make it my own way. (but this time I covered it with that brand new black duct tape!)

By the time it was finished I was losing light, so I ran around outside the house taking a couple last minute shots before the good natural light faded and the energizer-bunny woke up, demanding my attention.

These are straight out of the camera, not really moving or awe-inspiring - I know - but I'm excited all the same.

The lens is really clean but I love the blur in the corners where the glass curves.

Thanks Hula for lighting the fire underneath me today!

House Guest - Part 2

Back before I was thought about, my parents and grandparents lived overseas, stationed at military bases during the fifties and sixties. During this time my grandparents met a young man, Tony, who they became fast friends with, a friendship that lasted a lifetime. They were there for his wedding day and the pictures of that day hold a special place in our family photo albums. In time, my grandparents returned home to South Dakota, my parents returned to Florida and Tony moved to New Zealand. A few years later, Tony and his bride welcomed a daughter and named her after my mother, Joanne.

Joanne, Granny, Mom

In 1984, when I was in college, Tony and Joanne made the trek to South Dakota to visit. She was 10 years old and that was the first and last time I had seen both of them. (As far as I recall -that is.) And unfortunately, my mother's address book was misplaced in the shuffle after her death so I no longer had a record of my mother's friends and acquaintances.

My grandparents, mom, Joanne & Tony (this is the picture you mentioned, J.)

Then last August my Aunt forwarded an email to me from Tony. (My Aunt and Uncle had stayed in contact with him all these years.) Joanne, now an adult, was coming to Southern California on holiday and they wondered if I was living there. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to have her stay with us.

We had a wonderful time catching up and getting to know each other at the same time.

At California Adventure - this is what happens when you hand your camera over to some old dude that says "I love taking pictures for people" with a little too much exuberance. I SO need a haircut!

But what really touched me, is that the special friendship of our parents had with each other carries over to our generation. although I only had a few days; I feel, in a way, that Joanne is "family" to us.

Then again, growing up her parents were always considered "part of the family" in my house.

I can honestly say that my mom was very touched to have someone named after her; and I am happy to know that she is a wonderful, funny, beautiful person my mom would be proud of and who I am honored to now call "friend".

New Zealand, here we come!

House Guest

A very special person coming to visit -

More later...

When the Camera Gets Away

I took my camera to work last week to take some shots of the preschool Shabbat service.

Then my camera went exploring [figuratively, people, figurative] and found some lovely Hydrangeas picked from a garden that would become centerpieces later that evening.

I caught up to it in the Rabbi's office. It had discovered a shofar with a Menorah etched into the ivory, and I discovered the beautiful reflection it made on the glass-covered table.

Shortly thereafter, I had an idea...

The Rabbi, decked for the myriad of events that day, was happy to accommodate my creative whim, even when it included a camera pointed at him. I think I'll try this composition again with something different in the foreground, like a prayer book or Torah.

(Rabbi was so happy with my Apples and Honey pictures that Harrison ended up in the home page of the website.)

In the mean time, the Jewish High Holy Days are less than a week away. If you are Jewish - Happy New Year.

Photo Hunt - A Road Now Less Traveled

In the heart of the Black Hills of South Dakota, is a dirt road - eight miles from the nearest town, one mile off the main road. I traveled this dirt road countless times from shortly after I was born until my last trip out there with my own infant son.

This is leading away from my grandparents home. I took this picture as I left their house for the final time. No need to look back this time, I would not see my grandmother's face smiling at me as she waved goodbye, I would not see my grandfather walking to the garage to tinker around so his emotions wouldn't get the best of him.

The property had already been sold on this day, the anchor of my heart had been drawn.

But this road and EVERYTHING that happened on and near it will forever be woven into the fabric of my mind. I look at this picture and memories flood my vision like a dam bursting forth.

Down this road is where I learned the definition of home.

Photohunt is hosted by

So We May Never Forget

This morning Harrison and I went over to the dedication ceremony of a local 9/11 memorial in front of our Library and Civic Center; I found out about it in late July when a fence went up around a small area and being the curious sort, I went to read the fine print of the attached sign. It was the initial ground breaking for a tribute to 9/11. I suppose that's one reason it was so on my mind this year and why I wrote about it. To this day, it's still incomprehensible.

It was an incredibly moving ceremony beginning with the Procession, flag raising and National Anthem. Including an Honor Guard, the Los Angeles Pipe and Drum and New York Police and Fire Dept. personnel that presented the flag to the US Marine Corps personnel.

Chaplain George Negrete of the Los Angeles City Fire Dept. opened up his invocation with the words of a song from Psalm 62:
My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress,

I will Not be shaken.
The Mayor spoke, coins were presented, people were thanked, introductions made, a representative from the United Airlines Association of Fight Attendants and then two special guest speakers came to the podium to share their personal stories in a way that I had not heard before.

Because I had not heard a first-hand account from a loved one of a survivor - or A Survivor. To try to take you into their stories could/would not do them justice. So I will only tell you who they are.

Brad Burlingame is the President and CEO of the West Hollywood Marketing and Visitors Bureau. And the brother of Captain Charles Burlingame, pilot of American Flight #77 that was crashed into the Pentagon. He gave us an account of what he listened to on the Black Box, the heroic efforts of his brother's last four minutes of life. One day before his birthday.

Then keynote speaker, Bobby Senn (above) was invited to share his story; he was a first responder and was in the lobby of the South Tower when it collapsed. (He has also become very close to the fire Fighters of this city) He witnessed unfathomable events that day. Listening to him recount that day in detail was heart wrenching as he described seeing close friends in the NYFD die right in front of him. Even some of the nearby firefighters had to wipe their eyes.

The dedication was concluded with a 21-Gun Salute, "Taps" as the flag was lowered and finally, "Amazing Grace" played by the Pipe & Drum Band. Okay that was all enough to send me over the blubbering edge.

The Memorial consists of a 300 lb. beam from the Twin Towers nestled between black granite shaped like the Pentagon and a spherical sundial to represent hope. On the ground is red grass and red granite that represent Pennsylvania. The beam was a gift to the city's police and fire associations from the Fire Department of New York.

They had two stipulations: That people be able to touch it and it commemorate all those who sacrificed on Sept. 11, 2001.After the ceremony, families of the victims approached first to lay roses on the base and touch it. Others came up to it in quiet solace and for the first time touched a piece of that day.

So that we may never forget.

In Bobby Senn's words, go tell you family members you love them. Right now.

My Soul finds rest in God alone You are my Rock, my fortress. I will not be Shaken.

Never Forget -From the West Coast

If you ask our parent's generation where they were on November 22, 1963, they can go into perfect detail of that day; the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. It is a defining moment in our nation's history and for our parent's generation. It set a point of reference for our country, a moment of change.

Today is September 11, 2008, exactly 7 years ago today another defining moment happened in OUR generation and it has set a new point of reference and enlightenment for this nation. And I can tell you exactly where I was, what I was doing and [good or bad] how it has changed me forever.

At 6:50 am our clock-radio alarm goes off, we usually hear bits of weather and news in our groggy state, but what we hear that morning is that a small plane has crashed in one of the Twin Towers in New York. Our hearts stop. My husband flies out of bed to get to the TV in the living room. This is not good. He's been to NY, I haven't but we both felt that this was NOT RIGHT. Small planes just don't fly into skyscrapers.

This was not an accident.

We turned on the Today Show, Katie Couric is interviewing a local woman by phone. We are staring at images of black smoke rising from the top of the first tower. My heart sinks further into my chest and I start praying. I look at this image on the TV, an entire country between us, and I know that there are people trapped up there. How are they going to get those people up there? [Little did I know what would ensue in the next hours.] I began to panic for them, to cry for them, for their families feeling helpless.

Getting to work was no longer in the forefront of my mind, I was glued helplessly to the TV - hoping for a miracle. Knowing already that this was more than a small plane accident, that this was intentional, hoping I was dreaming and would wake up to that 6:50 am alarm telling me that it was going to be a warm day outside...

And then as we are watching and listening, trying to digest everything, we see it; the second plane coming into the frame.  An awkward angle, wings tilted, then it's gone. We both SCREAM with the woman on the phone to Katie Couric. Smoke bellows out of Tower 2 and it's confirmed - This was NO accident. 

There we sat in our quiet little living room, safe. In shock. In horror. Helpless. We watched as word came out about the Pentagon. We watched as the nation's airports were shut down. Then the news of the flight going down in Somerset County, PA. But worst of all, we watched the Towers go down. I nearly threw up when the first one went down. And I felt the sting of hopelessness and helplessness.

And I still had to go to work.

I got in my car to make the commute north, past Los Angeles International Airport, to the school I worked at. I was late, as were many people. There was an eerie silence in the air that Tuesday and for the days that followed with no flights. As if, Los Angeles was standing in a moment of silence for her sister city on the East Coast.

I can't tell you what happened that day - it's all a blur. I believe we went home early, as soon as the kids left. We all felt sick. Sick for days. When I arrived home I watched more of the news broadcasts, heard the stories of courage and heartbreak coming out of New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania. I weeped over the images.

Yes, I was on the West Coast. Far from it all. I had never been to New York, my grief was not on a first-hand basis. But I am an American, this was a vicious cold-blooded attack on our country but to the very fabric of what our country was founded on.

I grieved and prayed for the victims of that tragic day and their loved ones. I know what it is to lose those you love - but not in such an unfathomable [in this writer's opinion] senseless act of terrorism.

2, 974 innocent victims died that day. 1,300 children became orphans in a matter of minutes. A senseless act of terrorism. Meant to bring us to our knees. But what history will tell anyone and the terrorist neglected to realize is that what they did that day only lit a fire under us. Many of us got down on our knees all right, but not to crumble in defeat but to pray to our God. Despite all our differences, we united that day. They sent us a message.

We sent a message in kind. WE WILL NOT BE DISCOURAGED. We will not lay down and surrender. THIS IS OUR NATION.

When the planes started flying again, it made people [including me] jumpy. We had to get used to a new way of thinking. We had to get past the inclination to live in fear of the unknown. Where is that plane going? What CAN happen next?

But there was joy in that day, too. Over 10,000 babies were born that day alone. 2, 974 people died, 10,000 babies born.

Why do I think of this? Because a wonderful woman, my dear friend who introduced me to my husband, gave birth that morning to her son. He was born on the morning of 9/11. For him it represents a joyful day...  A Birthday.

And that is something to never forget.

9/11 is a marker for this generation. Ask anyone where they were on that day and they can tell you in detail. Our nation is an infant compared to other nations of the world and to some extent we were a bit naive regarding our status and success in the world. That maybe we were invincible. On September 11, 2001 that all changed.

We have grown up.

One of my favorite New Yorkers posted a powerful poem in memory of that day; written by a 14-year-old girl moved by what she saw that day. go visit Daryl.

Then go hug your family and say a prayer for the families of 9/11.

I Suppose I Have to REALLY get Serious

Can you believe that I've been asked take some family portraits?

No, really!

Not to mention a couple headshots...

They TRUST me!


So now I have to go take a class to learn my stinkin' camera settings better - because just reading the user manual isn't doing it for me. And anyway, practice, practice, practice. The shots above are not perfect, I know, but they are NOT what I would have shot a couple of years ago.

Although I have to say, I really enjoy taking pictures of inanimate objects!
  1. They hold their pose when I'm tinkering with my camera settings for far too long.
  2. They don't run off or hold their hand and/or foot up to block the camera's view
  3. I don't have to muster up some cute and casual antidote to help them feel comfortable/natural in front of the lens. (something I'm not good at! Eek!)
  4. And most of all, they are NEVER disappointed with the outcome of their pictures!
Here is the final from my apples and honey shoot for the cover of the September newsletter I'm responsible for.


As I sat down to work, and blog, and read some other blogs my eye caught a very nice post that Tracey Clarke wrote over at her blog Mother May I in response to a post by Scott at Weekly Photography Tips about being noticed and appreciated. I relate so much to the first three paragraphs. Especially - "Women often fall prey to guilt from all the things we are not getting done. We focus what we're not doing and we hold close the notion that we aren't enough. But, the truth is, we are enough. And what we pull off every day is amazing". Go check out Tracey and Scott, you won't be disappointed.

It's true, I don't always feel amazing, and I often feel like I'm running on empty; but I've been embracing my gifting more and my family is my biggest cheering section. So bring on the requests for photography, I'll rise to the occasion!

Because as quoted in one of my favorite movies, a life lived in fear is a life half lived.

So go live today and let me know what some of your best achievements and accomplishments are this week. I want to know.

Because you inspire me.

Sweet Sunday

I was reminded of an older worship song on the way to church today are started singing it. It's one of the few I used to sing and play on guitar, the words came back to me as I began singing the melody. I was feeling anxious on the way to church, I don't know why; but I focused on those words I began to relax a little.
Then at church, the worship team played the same song. How weird is that?
A reminder that God is listening to my prayers.

Even the simple ones.

Photo Hunters - Strings

I've decided to play along with this week. I've always liked Scavenger Hunts, so this seems like a fun thing to do!

I have a couple outtakes from my piano photo shoot a couple months ago. I was trying to incorporate a guitar and a piano together from a different point of view as well as learn the setting on my new camera. (A challenge I still face as I keep forgetting to change the settings - newbie!)

I like the way the string reflect off the guitar base in these two shots. In the bottom shot it almost looks like a second set of strings - almost. It was fun experimenting and a couple shot will definitely be used on the CD cover.

Now if I only had a nice macro lens for that REALLY tight, close up shot of the strings!
As my 3-year-old would say - That would be really great!

Photo Story Friday

Harrison and I headed up to see an old friend perform with his David Bowie Tribute band at the Hermosa Beach Labor Day Fiesta. David has been doing this for several years now. He is fantastic.

When the GID and I were dating and newly married we would go see David wherever he was playing - within geographical reason that is, of course. Why? Because we love David Bowie. And we love our friend, David Brighton. So off we went to see him perform as often as we could, it was win-win for us!

He has quite a following in the area; lots of groupies, young and old. [I guess we were on the cusp of becoming groupies...] Eek. The word alone sends shivers down my spine!

Then there are the events like this that bring out - well you can see for yourself...

Thank goodness we had a child and got too busy to go "out", otherwise I could have ended up looking like these women! Okay, maybe not. (I'm telling you though, there are SOME things that SOME women shouldn't wear out of the house.)

Even Harrison loved the David Bowie music.
It seems that David Bowie wasn't the only celebrity out that day, apparently Harrison made quite a spectacle by just eating corn-on-the-cob. He was practically propelled to celebrity status as we walked down the length of the Strand; the number of people that pointed at him and commented made me laugh!

You would think no one had ever seen a child eat corn-on-the-cob before.

Photo Story is Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek
PhotoStory Friday

Wordless Wednesday

I've been spending a lot of time with a pint-sized person lately...

Yet never enough.

MY Best Shot

Harrison and I spent a few hours in his room the other day - just being together. Out of it came fun, silliness and quiet.

I captured these two images in the quiet moment. They are not the best of me, [my self-loathing voice would tell you all my flaws despite that I have no makeup on. I always wear mascara due to my blonde eyelashes.] but they captured a pure moment of mother and son. And they captured the soul of
who we are.

Mother and Son.

I already see myself in him - not just physical features, but temperament. Yet, he is very much his own person and it's hard to fathom that this little boy lying next to me in this moment is only 3-years-old. He is filled with wonder, excitement, energy and curiosity. (Did I mention energy?) He wakes up talking and goes to sleep singing. he has reminded me to see the world through a child's eyes again. To slow down, to take it all in for the first time - again.

The fact is, I'm not a photogenic person. There's nothing wrong with that; some people just aren't. There are beautiful people that don't transfer well to the printed image; others - not at all beautiful by the world's standards - are captivating in images. Regardless, Harrison (and I) need some pictures of us together. And I love the realness of these photos.

I see my flaws, he sees my beauty. I often hear, "Mommy, yours hair is pretty", "I like yours necklace, Mommy, you're pretty", "Mommy, you look pretty today". He reminds me that there is more than meets the eye. That what is inside reflects on what is outside, what I see in the mirror and WHO I am are two different things.

I love this little person with all my being.

I am truly blessed.
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