Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bridge over over-photographed waters

Okay, so yeah, it's picturesque and trite and has probably been shot a million times. But I was there, and the scene presented itself and I had never shot it. So I did.

Good. I'm glad I got that out of my system.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It's all in your head

Doesn't everyone have a cabinet like this where they work?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Photo o' The Day

Or Photo du Jour. However you want to say it.

I found a blog once, for a woman (suburban white mother who worked full-time, blah blah blah...basically, she's as vanilla as I am) who paints. I first typed "who is a painter." But then I deleted that and wrote "who paints." I think that's stronger. It's active instead of passive. My high school English teacher would be very proud, as she made us write our entire final paper senior year (all 25 pages...single spaced...with half-inch 10 point type...uphill both directions in the snow!) in active voice instead of passive. Doesn't sound hard? Try writing a single paragraph in all active voice and tell me what you think. We are a society of passive writers, I'm afraid.

I digress.

So this woman who paints...once she set a challenge for herself to paint a picture a day for a month. Wow. That's a pretty damn big commitment. I can't even get up at the same time every day (some days are two-snooze days, some days are a lot more), and this woman, this artist, challenged herself to paint a new picture every day. And painting is like a big damn deal, you know, because you have to get the canvas all ready and then think of something to paint, then actually paint it, and then there's the clean-up. I'd like to be a painter some day, but I think the clean-up would prohibit me from being successful. It's just too much damn trouble.

But if she can do all that work, just to paint one picture every day, along with working and raising a family and doing all that other living stuff, then why can't I photograph an image a day? Should be easier than painting, right? No clean-up! I mean, this is not to say that we photographers have it easy. Oh sure, in the digital age now we don't have to mix chemicals and fuss over water temperature and spend 30 minutes getting the darkroom prepped and then 30 minutes cleaning it all up again (chemicals need proper storage, after all)...but we have a whole new ballgame with the computer. Post-processing can be a bitch. Your technically perfect "negative" still has a lot that needs to be done before it's presentable.

For instance, even if my shot is framed just how I want it, and my exposure is dead-on, there are still certain things I have to do with it just to make it suitable for public viewing. First step is downloading, which depending on how much I've shot can take awhile. My "perfect" shots still require adjustments of levels and curves, plus sharpening. All of which needs to be tweaked by hand for each shot (after all, some require more sharpening than others). (And yes, contrary to popular belief, you can over-sharpen.)

Sometimes a little dodging and/or burning here and there (you can't expose for every pixel, after all). Then you need to save your raw file as a .tif, which makes it lossless and easier to work with, and then if you want to post it on your blog you have to "save for web," which cuts the size way the hell down (so much for lose a lot of data when you save for web) from a gajillion gigabytes to something more suitable for quick downloads. Then you gotta pull up that .jpg and size it so that if someone chooses to open the full size .jpg on their screen it fits, so you don't have folks trying to view your grand panoramic vista by scrolling left and right like mad. And when you pull up the .jpg you gotta tweak those settings just like on the original as "saving for web" is not so good with preserving all the work you put into making the original something you'd actually want to show.

So, yeah, even creating a photograph a day for a month would take a lot of commitment. And perhaps the pressure to post something that I'm less than happy with, just to get something up.

But it doesn't mean I can't try.

One caveat: if I'm feeling particularly uncreative, I reserve the right to pull from my archives. Hey. I'm busy here. I got a lot going on, and work is getting ready to spin up to heights of busyness heretofore unheard of. Ach. Screw it. Why put that kind of pressure on myself?

But I'm carrying the big dog camera with me all the time now, so let's see if I can't find something to photograph every day for awhile. Or at least stock up on the weekends to carry me through the week. Shot my wad down there with all the Zozer pix from Saturday, though. Damn. Shoulda saved 'em and strung 'em out. They'd have lasted me a good couple weeks. Oh well. Live and learn.

Here's my photograph for today:

Sunday, April 27, 2008

New Developments at HootieCo

Concerned about the stability of the Hootie Tower due to the recent earthquakes, Zozo and her father built a new and improved tower today:

This is the standard documentary shot that M demands every time he builds something. It's probably a good thing we do this, as his Lego creations are now so transitory due to a small, adorable but destructive force in our house. Photographs are necessary to preserve his hard work for posterity.

I took another shot with Zozer, just to put it in perspective. She's standing directly in front of the new tower:

As you can tell, the new building soars into the skyline, standing at least 3.5 feet tall. It's a veritable monument to megablock building. While the new building is actually less stable than the old one, and the fall in an earthquake will be quite a bit longer, Hoot has one helluva view for the ride down.

However, soon after Daddy left for his business trip, Zoe decided to make a few minor modifications on her own:Hence my statement about the impermanence of M's megablock constructions.

It's faintly reminiscent of a Picasso, I think. M hasn't seen this yet. He'll get it when he lands in Vegas at 1:30 a.m. STL time and pulls the blog up on his BlackBerry. I haven't warned him, either. I figure what happens in the library, stays in the library. At least until I can get to the blog.

Playing at the Park

Saturday afternoon we took advantage of the gorgeous weather and stopped by the park on the way to our weekly run at Sam's.

Zoe had fun playing. Mommy had fun making photographs of Zoe playing.

I can't tell you how good it felt to make images without a 400-pound flash offsetting the balance of my camera. Not that I don't love the flash. I do. It's made hundreds of images possible for me. But being able to go outside and shoot in natural light, without the's liberating. Felt like I did the day I got the damn boot off my broken foot. "Oh, yeah. This is what it's like to be able to move."

Some of these images, I just adore. The black and white ones. Threw the color ones in because they're sure-fire crowd pleasers. The BW ones are for me, though.

Waiting for a swing to open up.
I love the fact that she's not impatient, but instead just looks forward to her turn. What a great way to go through life.

I didn't mean to cut M's head off in this's what happens when you're holding a big DSLR over your head in an attempt to catch the sheer joy on your daughter's face because she's at the park on a beautiful day and her daddy is pushing her in a swing. I'd normally discard this because of M's missing head (his head being quite attractive and normally something I like to include), but the look on Zozer's face is priceless, and so headless M shall just have to be.


These last four are for me. And her daddy.

This last one...this is it for me. My favorite image from the whole weekend. The icing on the cake. Total grab shot. The culmination of years of having other photographers chant "f8 and be there" religiously, and my brain somehow absorbing that and being ready. For me, it doesn't get much better than this.

Meet The Machines

I made a lot of images this weekend, and it'd be a pain in the rear to dump them all into one post, so I'll sorta split 'em up by event.

This first one is the Meet The Machines picnic sponsored by a local construction company and Fabick. Great got to crawl all over big equipment, we got to see a giant front loader and dump truck in action, Zozer got her child ID packet made, hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch...the works. The kids even got their very own hardhats. And it was all free. Can't beat that.

The general theme of the day appeared to be
Machines: Big. Zozer: Tiny.

After such a big day, who wouldn't fall asleep on the way home?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wonder and Curiosity

Today has been a good photography day. Actually, a great photography day.

This morning, M had to leave early for work, so after sleeping in a bit (I can do that, thankfully, with the job I have...long hours one week mean shortened hours another) I took The Bug over to her grandmother's and returned home to a house empty of people but full of sunlight. It just felt right, to be here all by myself. Peace. Calm. Serenity. No way was I going to give all that up just to rush into work when I didn't even have so much as a meeting scheduled.

I pulled up The Beatles on iTunes and hauled my mat-cutting stuff out of the guest bedroom. Turns out the new dining room table functions just as well as a mat-cutting surface as the old one. I had two mats to do, both for people at work. One is for an image from Sante Fe taken a few years ago that was promised as a birthday present to a close friend who also happens to be a soon-to-be-retired office-mate. So what if her birthday was actually last summer? I finally got around to blowing out the print nozzles on the 2200 and making a fine print. This woman has more money than just about anyone I know (okay, really, I think she does have more money than anyone I least anyone I know personally) and is the Queen of Impulse Purchases. How do you shop for a birthday present for someone like that?

So I gave her the only thing I could think of that she couldn't buy for herself (at least not easily, as I blow out the nozzles once or twice a year, conserving my printing runs for times of high creativity and budget allowances). I gave her one of my prints. I took my portfolio to her birthday lunch and let her have a few days to choose one. I was surprised at her selection; to be honest it's not one of my favorites. But to each her own, so I printed it.

That was the first print to be matted this morning. The second was of an image I made Monday morning on the way to work. Another co-worker's husband recently opened a small Mexican restaurant in a nearby community. M and I were invited to one of the soft-launch nights, and from the instant I saw the place, I knew I had to shoot it (and how, incidentally, I was going to process and print it). I am so excited for the owner/chef, as it's been his dream for many, many years to open his own eatery. He has the guts to actually try to make his dream happen, and in this economy no less. He'll be incredibly successful, as his food is excellent and the place amazing, not to mention the lack of Mexican food anywhere in this particular community.

Anyway, I suppose in recognition of his efforts, and admiration of his courage, I made a small print of the front of his new restaurant. This was the second image to mat this morning.

So, with sunlight streaming in the dining room windows, "Let It Be" roaring out of the Mac, and two of my very own prints sitting nearby, I cut mats and mounted prints. It was bliss.

I did make one image today, with the Big Dog, but it's an image for another post so you'll just have to wait. Nothing artsy or particularly memorable...just another indication of the freaks I like to call "my neighbors."

Tonight, upon returning home from work, I found a long-awaited FedEx package on my doorstep. The Ted Orland books have arrived! It took everything I had not to lock myself in a room and force M to single-parent it tonight, but I managed to hold off until Zoe went to bed.

Since then (7:30), I've been sitting with M at the dining room/mat-cutting table. He's working away at something wholly unrelated to anything fun (i.e. work work) and I'm reading "Scenes of Wonder and Curiosity."

I am in photographic heaven. Nirvana. A photographer's garden of Eden. Paradise. I'm only on page 33, and I am absolutely amazed that this person, who I've never actually met, put down my feelings in letters to other artists. It is so enlightening to realize that I'm not the only one who struggles with art. I'm so freakin' happy I want to cry, but I can't because the way he writes I'm laughing out loud every other paragraph.

And it's even more amazing to me that he was writing all this when I was less than five years old.

I have been reading Edward Weston's "Daybooks," which has been one of my favorites ever since I first read it in high school (it's one of those books that the older I get, the more I get it), and since I'm a big proponent of finishing what I've started, I had determined that I was going to only glance through the Orland books and then return to finish up Weston. I figure I've got a couple good days of reading to bang it out.

Yeah, um, the problem lies with the fact that if you read even one sentence in an Orland book, you're hooked. You are sucked in and not leaving anytime soon. Hence, 33 pages into it and I'm tearing myself away just to post here. Call it savoring the moment. Call it not wanting a good thing to end too soon. After all, there will be only one first reading of "Scenes of Wonder and Curiosity." However, I can already tell, there will be many, many more.


Standing at the counter today to pick up my spicy buffalo chicken wrap, I asked for pickles. As usual. Those who know us know that I eat pickles nearly every day and that M thinks I eat too many pickles while simultaneously bemoaning not purchasing stock in Heifetz Pickles a long, long time ago.

Anyway, I asked for pickles, and the woman behind the counter told me (egad!) they had no pickles (gasp!). She commiserated, being a fellow pickle-lover herself apparently, and said, "I know! It's a tragesty!"

I nodded in agreement, picked up my tray and walked away. Then it hit me. Wait a minute...that's not really a word.

I'm assuming she meant to say either "travesty" or "tragedy," but they got all mish-mashed up together in her mouth and came out "tragesty." Which, on the whole, isn't a bad description of a food place that doesn't have pickles. Having no pickles is, after all, is both a tragedy and a travesty. Might as well exercise some brevity and smoosh them together.

I work with a woman who doesn't know the difference between idea and ideal. We'll be meeting on something and she'll say, "I have an ideal..." I'm always so tempted to say, "I have many ideals." This is different from "tragesty," somehow. Maybe it's because the girl at the samich shop is just a girl at samich shop and therefore making one nonword out of two real words is somewhat endearing, and maybe because the two real words combined into one word sorta makes sense. Even to a grammar grump like me.

The girl at the office, though, wears business suits every day and has some type of post-high school education and is expected to do much more than fry up some chicken and wrap it up in a tortilla, and therefore should know the difference between an idea and an ideal.

Nobody has figured out a way to let her know that she's saying it incorrectly, so we all just shoot little glances at each other whenever "ideal" gets trotted out. Of course, we also haven't figured out a way to let a member of management know that an "anecdote" is so not the same as an "antidote."

But maybe I'm just picky. Consistently using the wrong word isn't really a tragesty in the grand scheme of things.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A brand new bag, baby

For Christmas, me mum gave Coach purses to her girls. Matching, natch, because we're sisters and it's been about 25 years since we wore matching outfits when we went to Disney World and so it was high time for some sibling coordination.

Darling purse. Very spring-like and festive, which meant we had to wait until the weather broke to break out our new bags. It was a looooong winter, too, and every once awhile I'd visit my new spring purse and sigh, "All in good time, my love, all in good time." My sister, being more up on things, started using her bag first a couple weeks ago. This morning, I finally remembered to get mine out.

Now, I've pared down the contents of my purse to epic simplicity. For a couple weeks recently I even managed to go without a bag at all, but that was only because I had jacket pockets to carry my few belongings. Since I haven't been able to find lined dress slacks with zippered cargo pockets (at least not ones I could wear to work and not be ridiculed for), I had to go back to carrying a purse. But it's a light purse...none of that back-breaking I-can-live-for-a-week-out-of-my-purse stuff.

So I got my new springy bag out this morning and transferred my belongings from the old bag to the new. I have a wallet, a pack of gum, a jump drive (necessary for any girl on the go these days), and three lip thingies (lipstick, gloss and Chapstick, all necessary, of course, so I can go from work to evening to ski slopes just like that...because, you know, I do that so often).

Carrying around this medium size bag with virtually nothing in it is just ridiculous. The bag isn't huge, but when you've got nothing in it, it looks cavernous. Normally I'm not the type of person to fill something up just because it's there, but really, what's the point of carrying this bag with one thing floating around down there in the bottom?

Then, inspiration struck.
Not sure that this is really the intended use of a Coach purse, but hey, it works for me. Okay, so I'm not your traditional girly girl. I'm more of a gearly girl. Camera gear, that is.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I used to abhor dandelions. Not when I was a kid, mind you, when I thought they were pretty and bright...a beautiful sunny yellow. Only as an adult, when I have to dig them out of my flower beds (there's no use snapping them off ground-level; they are like worms where you can chop 'em in half and they just grow back. Sometimes overnight. Bastards) and when I watch M battle them all summer long. Our neighbors (the pot-heads, in case you're wondering) seem to adore them, as their yard is already quite full of them and they are making absolutely no attempt at eradication. Probably too busy smoking pot. Or dandelions.

Because the neighbors (shall we call them "The Potters?") don't mind dandelions, their dandelions creep over into our yard, sneaking in at night by tiptoeing across the property line and setting up squatters camps and blatently blowing their seeds around during the day. I think if M thought he could get away with spraying weedkiller on someone else's yard, he'd do it. At this point, I'm sure he'd be happy to spray something flammable over there and let them torch their own yard when they toke up.

Last weekend we left to run errands, and I looked over to see the patch of grass between the sidewalk and the street of my neighbor's yard already full of dandelions. Not a few here and there. Hundreds. Already. Without looking at M I could tell he was fired up and silently cursing both the dandelions and the neighbors who allow them to flourish. He's getting really good at cursing silently now, ever since he expressed his opinion about another driver and from the backseat we heard a little girl's voice say, "Speed up or get over!"

So I thought, "Great. Another season of battling dandelions."

Then, yesterday, when I got home from work, my little girl ran to meet me with flowers she picked just for me. Two little purple ones, and a big, bright, sunny yellow one. You guessed it. A dandelion.
Come to think of it, maybe they're not so bad after all.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Found this in an old e-mail from Stef, and just had to share:

Some people are like Slinkies...
They're not really good for anything,
but they still bring a smile to your face when
you push them down a flight of stairs.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's better than Dear John

Dropped the ZoeMobile off this morning to have the driver's side front axle seal repaired. I'm not sure exactly what's involved with that other than $250 and being without my car for half day. And we all know that my being without my car is not a good thing.

So the shuttle driver dude, Zino, brought me to work in the Honda Odyssey shuttle van, and we commiserated about how horrible it is to drive Hondas because the damn things run forever and therefore you get sick of them before they wear out, and just getting sick of your car really isn't reason enough to buy a new one. My service writer had pointed out another customer's early-90s Accord up on the rack that has 455,000 miles on it and is still going strong. Damn it.

Anyway, in talking to Zino, I learned that he has two children, girls actually, 14 and 16. (Good lucky, buddy!) He had just gotten a call from the 14-year-old that she had overslept and missed her bus. Of course, the 16-year-old hadn't bothered to wake her or ensure she made it to school on time, despite the fact that they do indeed attend the same school. Ahhh, sisters!

Being the polite shuttle rider I am, I asked their names.

Patrice and Love. Love Letter, to be exact.

Wow. I really don't know what to say to that. How do you go from Patrice, which is a pretty standard name (albeit not too popular these days, I'd imagine), to Love Letter?

I suppose if you're going to name your child after a piece of correspondance, Love Letter is probably the best way to go. Snippy Note Reminding You To Pick Up Milk On Your Way Home From Work is too cumbersome. Memo is too brief and business-like. And probably prone to mispronunciation. "Is that 'memmo' or 'meemo,' like Nemo?" Post-It is probably trademarked or whatever, which would cause all sorts of problems when you're trying to type your name into standardized forms that don't recognize a TM superscript. Besides, then it might look like it's Post-ItTM, and that introduces more pronunciation difficulties.

I'm sure there is a good story behind Love Letter's name, but I didn't get the chance to hear it because by that point we had arrived at my work and I had to hop out.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


The homepage of MSNBC has this headline:

Martha Stewart's dog dies of renal failure

Really? Seriously? That's news?

Look, I'm sure that's big news to Martha and her family. It's enormous when you lose a pet. The day I went, with my mom and my husband, to put my beloved golden retriever down was one of the hardest days of my life. However, I did not expect CNN to cover it. Granted, I'm no Martha Stewart (thankfully, although I would like to have her bank account), but I didn't even expect The St. Louis Post-Dispatch or Suburban Journals to cover it.

What on earth have we sunk to, as a nation, to broadcast the death of a celebrity's pet as news? And what does that say about how we value other information, like the war in Iraq, the global warming issue, the presidential election?

And why on God's green earth is some asshole in my neighborhood powerwashing at 10 o'clock at night?

I'm full of questions this evening, I am. And not good ones.

Although I did finish my statistics homework for the week, which makes me happy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The shelf life should be enough to scare you away

It always frightens me a bit when my lunch looks like it's something packaged from the NASA Mercury program. Pretty sure miso soup isn't supposed to start out in a cube.

"Yes, Commander, commence mastication of pre-formed dehydrated nutritional supplement."


Whispers & Roars

Went to YWCA St. Louis Regional Sexual Assault Center's Hear the Whispers and Roars event last night at Schlafly's. It's an evening of readings on rape and healing, and it's moving and touching...definitely an evening well-spent. Especially when you're sitting at a table with some of your favorite girls.

First row, left to right: Mama, Beano, Ping and Michelle.
Back row, left to right: Judy and my MIL.

All the speakers were great, as usual, but my favorite was a woman who got up and spoke off-the-cuff: no notes, no pre-written speech. She started off in a whisper, telling her story of abuse (from others, and then as a result, self-inflicted), and moved to a roar, inspiring us all with her triumph over tragedy and her call to action. Her crescendo moved us to tears, and then to our feet in a standing ovation. I have chills just remembering it.

In an effort to contribute more to this cause for which I care so deeply (how can I not care deeply? Women I love have been subjected to abuse and violence...), I have agreed to become part of Circle of Women, a fundraising arm of the Sexual Assault Center. I'm an honorary committee member, which simply means I need to recruit people to attend the annual Circle of Women luncheon June 24. Each of my guests commits to make a donation of at least $100 at the luncheon.

I have a good start, but a good start isn't enough. I'd love to exceed my goal of finding nine people to donate to this (unfortunately) much-needed cause. One in seven women in Missouri have been the victim of sexual violence. One in seven. Which means if you yourself haven't been a victim, you know someone who has. The St. Louis Regional Sexual Assault Center provides support and advocacy to victims of assault and abuse within the St. Louis Metropolitan area, helps coordinate services provided to victims, and serves as a resource on issues regarding awareness and prevention of sexual assault and abuse.

Please contact me if you want to join our Circle of Women (and Men!) who want to make a difference. It doesn't take much. A check or a pledge, and an afternoon spent at a wonderful luncheon.

I'll be posting more later, and hope to get a copy of the video produced by YWCA that really shows just how vital their services are. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Statistically speaking, I believe that sucked

Weekend went by in a blur, which sometimes is good (like, when you're having fun riding roller coasters) but in this case was not (like, when you're taking statistics mid-terms and working).

Thursday I had to break out my "Problem Student" cape (again) and rat out our instructor (again), who didn't seem to think it was important to provide grades or feedback for the first half of the course before students completed the mid-term. Um. No. I kinda need to know if I'm doing all this stuff correctly before I am tested on it. Call me wacky.

Assignments 2 and 3 were finally graded Friday, and Assignment 1 straggled in Saturday morning. Not sure what was going on there, but I received full marks so I'm not going to complain. Any more.

So we made Saturday the day of Statistics (I suppose I could call it Staturday, but that would be corny so I won't), which we decided to do because I had to work Sunday and we both hit that point where we figured we had studied enough.

And besides, we kicked butt on the assignments.

Part 1 of the Mid-Term involved solving a series of stats problems before logging on to the Mid-Term site. We were allowed to work with each other for that portion, but once we logged on we were on our own. We had 45 minutes from logging on to complete the exam. Upon entering we realized that the exam was as easy as the homework assignments had been, so we flew through and had data entered in about 10 minutes. Five more to double-check, then hit the submit key.

Instant grading in on-line courses means immediate verification of one's genius-ness. We each scored 100%. Cool.

We debated starting Part 2. Part 2 involved no pre-work, and collaboration was not allowed. It also required completion in 30 minutes. Problems were multiple guess, true/false and short answer.

Deep breath. Well, let's do it and get it done.

We logged in.

Holy. Crap.

22 questions in 30 minutes. First question has five parts. And requires, you know, actual statistics knowledge. ^&*$#.

I freaked immediately, managing to work myself into a hysterical fit of rage, disbelief and self-pity while also working the problems as fast as I could. It's hard to concentrate on statistics when the little voice inside your head is screaming, "Oh, my God! We are toast!" over and over again.

I heard M swear softly to himself across the table, and felt a little less like the only person on the planet who was facing impending doom and academic annihilation.

The next 30 minutes were quiet except for frantic typing and emphatic mouse clicking.

Every once in awhile M would quietly remind me to not get stuck on one problem, but move on so I at least had clicked an answer (a guess, more like it) to each question. I would usually respond with either a frightened yelp of ascension or the cry of, "I'm not even going to have a chance to go back and check anything I'm unsure of!" Which, at that point, was a lot.

Time ticked down and finally ran out, and we just looked at each other over our laptops. Our brains were sweating.

And so began the debriefing session.

"That kicked my ass!"
"I'll be lucky to score 50%."
"Maybe he'll grade on a curve."
"The first part should have been 30 minutes and this one 45!"
"I'm going to calculate our class grade as if we scored 50%."

I stomped around the dining room for a few minutes while M built a scoring spreadsheet and then we decided that even a 50% grade wasn't the end of the world (we'd both be carrying low A's with it), at least it was over, there was nothing we could do about it now and we didn't have to think about it any more.

Unfortunately, that part of the mid-term didn't have automatic grading, so we would have to wait until later to find out how badly our asses had been kicked.

Today, the grades were posted. We did considerably better than 50%. Whew! Yours truly scored 5.75 out of 6. I have a 99.64% for the class, and M has a 99.00%. M is convinced that our instructor was forced to grade on a curve. I prefer to think that we really are just that smart.

Or damn lucky.

No matter what it is, I'll take it!

Friday, April 11, 2008

We pray to the Lord

A little over ten years ago, M and I got married. And the night before that wonderful day, we looked at each other and said, "Oh, shit. The Intercessions!"

For those of you who aren't Catholic, Intercessions are the prayers that the lector leads the congregation in, oh, about three quarters of the way through Mass. They're generally prayers for big important things like world peace and no more starving children and the like. I don't know about other churches, but ours are pretty standard from week to week, and there's been some fine folk we've been prayin' for, for over six years now.

But I digress.

So, a little over ten years ago, on our wedding eve, we realized that we hadn't even talked about our wedding mass intercessions, much less written them. I'm pretty sure that came up when my soon-to-be FIL (who was lectering for us) asked me, "Hey, I'm lecturing tomorrow, so's how about you give me the Intercessions."


We called in the holy troops.

My BIL and my FIL, who, unbeknownst to me, are phenomenal writers.

Under immense pressure and an impossible deadline, they wrote the following:

For Michael and Amy,
That they grow in God's love and their love for each other and that God will continue to protect them and bless them with peace, happiness, health, and the love and support of their families and friends;

For the extended arms of the G, Z and Z families,
That God will grant them the grace to further their love and support of Michael and Amy and, by so doing, grow in their own love for one another;

For the clergy, musicians, attendants, and parishioners;
In gratitude for their role in bringing Michael and Amy to this day, that God will continue to bless them in their ministry to all God's people;

For all those here present in body and spirit to celebrate this blessed union of Michael and Amy,
That their prayers and intercession to God for Michael and Amy's happiness and wellbeing will be answered manifold;

For all those who have touched Michael's and Amy's lives with their love and have since departed this life, especially grandfathers Curran, William, Carl, and Frank;
That their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed may rest in peace and rise in glory;

For all God's people,
That the love shown on this day will be imitative of a love spreading througout the world to unite all as one flock under one Shepherd;

Lord Hear Our Prayer.

We have our intercessions matted and framed, and hanging on our bedroom wall.

Damn. Ten years later and that's still some powerful stuff.

If I haven't shown my gratitude before, Dad and Steve, thank you. It's great writing and inspirational when, ten years later, it can still move me to tears.

How 'bout we use sausages for a prop?

The photograph and caption below was published this week in a local newspaper. (A "rag" as my FIL calls it; a socialite paper that talks about who's who and all their doings. And, apparently, all their doings with questionable meat products.)

Too many jokes. Not enough blog space.

There are so many things wrong with this on so many different levels.

According to the caption, his wife cites him as "sexiest chef in St. Louis." Is that because he brings home that sausage at the end of the day?

Okay, so I did one joke. Couldn't resist.

On a serious note, why on earth would one agree to pose for this, and what in the hell was the photographer thinking? I searched for a photo credit but couldn't find one. Which, I suppose, doesn't surprise me, as if I had snapped this shot I wouldn't exactly want to shout that I had done it. I mean, really.

Side note: this was part of a larger article on St. Louis chefs. Another male chef was posed holding a teeny tiny ice cream cone. Given that it ran next to this one...sheesh. Poor guy!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Coffee Accessories

M and I had this conversation this morning while I drove to work.

A: It's cold. You know what would make me feel warm?
M: You don't need Starbucks.
A: Oh, come on, it's so goooooood.
M: No, you don't need it. You have no willpower!
Barista over drive-thru speaker: Hi, welcome to Starbucks, what can I get started for you today?
M: Amy! Amy Margaret! You're talking to Starbucks!
A: Yes, I'd like a decaf, grande, non-fat, no-whip extra-hot mocha, please.
M: You're getting Starbucks! I can't believe it! Amy! Amy Margaret!

It's incredibly hard to order one's complicated coffee beverage when one's husband is yelling in one's ear and one is laughing at one's husband while he yells.

My barista handed me my lovely beverage and I noticed something sticking out of the sippy hole. WTF? What is that?

Apparently, it's a little stir stick thingy that also doubles as a cap for the sippy hole, so as to avoid dumping your beverage all over yourself in the car, or sloshing it out of the sippy hole as you careen around corners.

Any coffee-on-the-go drinker has figured out long before now the trick to keeping your coffee from sloshing while you drive. You must face the sippy hole towards the front of the car. No sloshing that way. Not a single drop of the delectable (and, apparently, addictive) mocha is wasted. Sippy hole facing either side of the car spells disaster. Lots of sloshing, and mopping up sticky coffee with Kleenexes, which, by the way, don't work so well for that purpose as they tend to sorta disintigrate upon contact with massive amounts of liquid.

So anyway, after years of enjoying Starbucks beverages, now I have a piece of plastic standing between me and the beverage, that isn't really needed as I figured out the trick long ago.

I inspected the stick further after arriving at work. It's got a design embossed on the top, what appears to be a cross between a weasel and a sea creature blowing the steam off a cup of coffee.

I have no idea what that is, but I must say this new development has thrown me through a loop. This is something new! Something different! What is the world coming to?

Okay, so maybe I'm not that fired up about it. But I am curious...and intrigued enough to write about it here and take a crappy picture with my BlackBerry's camera to share with all of you. Please forgive the blown highlights on the lid and the lack of weasely/sea creature detail. There's only so much one can do with a cell phone camera.

I just think it's funny that my coffee comes with its own jacket and now its own pet.

Monday, April 07, 2008

I must be getting old.

Or maybe a better description would be "practical."

I was walking some mail out to the box in our parking lot today when I passed an old station wagon parked in front of the community center next door.

A few years ago, I'd have snickered and thought, "You couldn't pay me to drive something like that!" In fact, I was just having a conversation with an officemate last week about how pigs will fly over a frozen hell before I'd ever drive a minivan.

Not that I'm driving a Mini Cooper or Beemer or Porsche 911 now or anything. The Zoemobile is about as vanilla a car as you could ask for. It's color is even vanilla. (Not really, it's "Heather Mist Metallic," which basically is a nice way of saying "dirt-colored" as it hides dirt well and generally just looks rather dingy when it's dirty, rather than outright dirty.) It's a good, solid car that's practical and gets decent gas mileage and rides okay and is reliable. It's loaded with all kinds of great options like climate control and a moonroof and steering-wheel controls for the radio. Good stuff, maynard.
Even though it's getting on in years and doesn't ride quite as comfy as it used to, I love my car. Given the choice, I'm gonna go with my beater Zoemobile over a brand new minivan.

So anyway, today I saw an old Pontiac Safari Station Wagon, complete with geniune simulated wood grain (I'd like to meet the designer that thought of coating sheet metal to look like timber...and find out what he was smoking), and I didn't snicker, and I didn't gaze scornfully.

I looked in the giant windows at the giant space in the back, and I thought, "Damn, I could fit a pack 'n play, stroller, the results of a shopping trip to Sam's, Target and Shop 'n Save, and all my photography gear back there. That would be cool."

The Photographer's Dream Car? Perhaps.

Part of what makes the station wagon so alluring is the famous (infamous?) shot of Ansel working on the roof of his wagon. He had a big ol' wagon that he drove himself and all his gear around in, and a platform constructed on the roof so he could get high to make shots. I don't remember for sure, but I think his "Moonrise, Hernandez" was made from the roof of the wagon.

Think about's got a ton of space inside and a big roof that would allow room for you and your tripod, and isn't too high to clamber up on fairly easily.

And, it's sexy as hell.

The Penultimate Compendium

My Ted Orland poster came Friday!!!

It's so freakin' cool. I was totally jazzed just pulling the tube out of the mailbox (who leaves a giant poster tube hanging out of a standard size mailbox on a busy road? my idiot mailperson, that's who. he's damn lucky nothing happened to it.) and cutting through the tape to pull it out. I wriggled with excitement unrolling it to see it. I mean, how cool is it that I was going to see a brand new Photographic Truths poster that wasn't even posted on Mr. Orland's site yet?!

And then, I spotted it.

He signed my poster.

Holy &$%#.

Right there under the giant photograph of Ansel. "For Amy!" and then his signature. I think I may have actually screamed at that point, but only the cats were around so it was okay.

Beano asked what it looks like. You can check it out here, as Mr. Orland now has it posted for sale on his site.

Everyone I've told this story to has asked, "How did he find your blog?" Beats me. How does anyone stumble across my little slice of cyber heaven? I'm just glad he did.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

It's been over 24 hours and I'm still grinning

Every once in awhile, usually when you need it most, life throws you the kind of curveball you can knock out of the park.

(Yes, baseball season has begun, so expect the analogies to start flowing.)

I am one of the luckiest people in the world, because really great things happen to me when I least expect them. And how lucky am I that I can recognize and be grateful for my good fortune? I must be lucky squared.

After a particularly horrendous work day yesterday, I came home to find a message posted on my blog.

Now, this isn't out of the ordinary, especially since my mom has finally learned how to actually post messages instead of e-mailing me.

But this message wasn't from someone I know, or at least someone I interact with on a daily basis. Not that I don't want to. It's just that in the pantheon of great photographers, he ranks right up there. Seeing as how I'm not even within shouting distance of the pantheon of great photographers, I'd never in a million years dream about contacting him.

He took care of that, though, by contacting me.

Somehow he found my post of almost two years ago where I wrote about this really cool poster called 25 Photographic Truths. Go ahead and check it out...just click over there on the right where it says "May 2006." 25 Photographic Truths is right there at the top of the page.

He, in case you're wondering, is none other than Mr. Ted Orland, photographer, writer, and all-around good guy. And creator of the original 25 Photographic Truths poster.

He left a message here saying that he's reprinted the poster, complete with some updates, and that if I sent him my snail mail addy, he'd send me a copy.

Holy $#@&.

I think I actually did a little dance when I read that.

As soon as I got back to my computer, I sent him an e-mail. Expressing gratitude, joy, that sort of thing. And sending him my address, of course.

Then, on the phone with my sister later and laughing about my April Fools joke, it hit me.

Oh. God. Someone is playing a prank on me, and I fell for it, and now I've made a complete ass of myself by e-mailing an unsuspecting Mr. Orland, who is going to wonder what the hell I'm talking about.

I wrote another message.

You know how you do something, and then you apologize for doing it, and then somewhere after the apology you realize that the apology probably made you look like a bigger imbecile than before? Yeah, that was me last night.

M got a panicked phone call, which he barely understood as he was in a loud restaurant eating with coworkers and I sorta went off half-cocked, machine-gun style, to the tune of this: "So I got this message on the blog from Ted Orland and he said he's reprinted that awesome poster I've been looking for forever on eBay and on-line and everywhere called 25 Photographic Truths that I posted about two years ago and he said that he'd like to send me a copy and I got really excited and so I e-mailed him as soon as I could and I sent him our address and then when I was talking to Katie about the Rhode Island April Fools joke which she told me really threw Mom through a loop I realized that maybe just maybe the Ted Orland message was a joke too which means oh my God I just e-mailed Ted Orland with the most idiotic message in the world and so then I followed that up with another message which I think may have just compounded the view of my dunderheadedness and now I don't know what to do because I think maybe it's for real because I checked Mr. Orland's web site and although the new poster isn't mentioned anywhere on the site the e-mail address on the site is the same as what he left in his message but I suppose anyone could have gotten it off there but then someone would have had to go back two years to find my post and then go out and find Mr. Orland's site and get his e-mail address which isn't directly posted there because it's a mailto-type link that you have to mouse over and look at the address in the lower left corner of the window but it's not impossible that someone could do that and given how many people I sent over the edge with the Rhode Island post I wouldn't put it past someone to try to get me back and oh my God M I just e-mailed Ted Orland twice."

He said something like, "Hold on, I have to pour a drink."

Then we decided that it was too loud for him to really understand the gravity of the situation (Ted Orland!) and that we'd discuss it later.

Later, after I was in bed for the night and fighting nausea for making an ass of myself in my first interaction with a real photographer, he called me back and we talked about it, and he didn't really know what to say, although I'm pretty sure he was shaking his head and mentally confirming that he had indeed married a crazy woman. And when we got off the phone, the little red light blipped on, which meant I had gotten an e-mail while we were talking.

I figured it was from PetSmart or Borders or one of the other places I have a rewards membership that sends me coupons up the wazoo, only 10% of which ever get used, and I clicked the mail button to check it and delete it.

It wasn't PetSmart. It was Mr. Orland.

I bolted up in bed. This was not something I could read lying down.

It's really him, and he had really posted a message to my blog, and he's really sending me a poster.

I did another dance, right there in bed.

You know, I knew Ted Orland was a pretty cool guy before, but damn. This is above and beyond your average coolness.

How lucky am I?! Pretty dang lucky, I'd say. Lucky squared, even.

Like a big pizza pie

Zozer takes her responsibilities as head pizza chef at our house very seriously. She dons her "cook hat" and gets busy. Not only does she make the pizza (and usually some mushroom tea, or mufroom tea as she calls it), she also delivers. In the tunnel. Still wearing, of course, the hat.

Now that's personal style.


When I was a kid, my mom would wake me up every April 1 and tell me some cockamamy story about how my school had cancelled all classes due to vandalism/weather/locusts, and that I probably wouldn't have to go back to school for several weeks.

She'd let me think about that for awhile, then yell, "April Fools! Get up! You gotta go to school!"

Not sure why I fell for that every year, but I did. Guess I kept forgetting it was April 1.

She had other pranks scattered here and there, but the school-is-cancelled routine is the one that really sticks in my memory.

A couple years ago a colleague e-mailed out an ultrasound photograph and wrote, "This is where I went yesterday afternoon when I left work early." Hearty congratulations all around, lots of excitement, hugs, that sort of thing. Then she reminded us all it was April 1. Beyotch.

So, yeah, this year it was my turn. I got a few of you, but not all. I toyed with the idea of the pregnancy thing, but since my friend did it a few years ago I decided I wanted to do my own thing. Moving to Rhode Island seemed like a whimsical alternative.

For those of you who fell for it, you oughta know that there's no way we're leaving The Lou. If we didn't leave a few years ago, when we had no child and no jobs and M was getting offers for Maine and Ohio and Illinois, well, we're sure as heck not going anywhere now. For one, I don't know how we'd move the BAS (we'd have to call in the Mennonites again for sure), and for two, M would be enormously disappointed to not draw the familial crowd for our annual grand lighting.

Besides, we've got weddings up the ying-yang this year...too much fun to be had to move!

Anyway, if you're at all upset by my little prank, call my mother and blame her. She started it about 25 years ago. Here's to you, Mama!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

West Kingston

As many of you know, M's parent company is based in West Kingston, Rhode Island. His boss is there, and a great many of his teammates. And as many of you also know, he spends a lot of time going up there to work. You might almost say he's been doing a bit of extra-long distance commuting.

Well, his boss realized the inordinate amount of time and money he's been spending on flying up there and staying in hotels, dining out, etc., and has proposed a solution.

And, to sweeten the deal, he's offering M a 40% raise, stock options in the parent company, and coverage of all moving expenses.

We didn't want to say anything until we made our decision, but we can't put it off any longer. It looks like in the next couple weeks I'll be heading up to RI with M to look at some houses. He's done a bit of searching and we have a few good leads. My personal favorite is this one:

It's weird to give up the whole brick-house idea, as being from the Lou most of our houses are brick, but apparently in New England brick isn't readily accessible and therefore is prohibitively expensive. Still, that looks like a great house, don't you think?

I wanted to look in Newport, as it's only 30 minutes from West Kingston and is so beautiful, but cost of living is just way too high there, even with the bump in M's salary.

I've begun a general search for a new job, but nothing has turned up so far. A few leads back in the not-for-profit sector, which sounds good, but we'll see. I'm not sure I really want to go back there, having had so much fun in the for-profit world for the last few years.

Of course, with the increased salary we're also exploring the idea of me staying at home to raise Zoe, and maybe have another child. We won't have access to our family system up there, so it might make sense for me to be home at least until she's in school. I can always do some freelance photography to bring in some extra money.

So, that's our big news. We decided to post it out here so that there was no question of who got told first. When you read it, you read it. Those who check back frequently will be rewarded with the news first.

Oh yeah, by the way, happy April 1.