Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tricked Out


 Watching a horror movie with Jacob and winding down post-Halloween. The parties, hay ride, haunted house, shaving cream fights et al have been absorbed and enjoyed. Now it's time to eat leftover candy and blow out the lit pumpkins. (James truly has a talent for crafting and this year's efforts were no exception.) All the hoopla serves as a minor distraction from our real pending concerns. Back to my worries about the elections, the economy and our next set of moves. For the moment I'll succumb to a few peanut butter cups and appreciate life's blessings.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Life Cycle Chez Moi

Another bewildering morning here on Evergreen Way. Nothing like two well tended teen aged girls finding new and ever more insightful negative terms to hurl at each other. Sometimes, my daughters make owning pets look very peaceful and drama free. No, there is no turning back. There is no safe haven, hospital or police station where I can drop them off in the middle of the night, in a basket with a sad note pinned to their chest. They are all ours and until they reach that pivotal moment of moving out I will endure all their nuttiness. It does make me cringe inside and I am forced to revisit all the brutal battles of my older brothers that I witnessed when I was a child. Ah, the circle of life and all its pleasures and heartache.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Emerald City


My husband loves to be involved with our community. To me, that is one of the more subtle elements of curb appeal- supporting the town in which you live to make it a better place. We each find our ways to contribute and volunteer and as a result know a lot of the different kinds of people who make our village so unique. Currently, he is working on the upcoming Halloween hay ride scheduled for this weekend. As a result, our kitchen is now home to his mural in progress. His version of the Emerald City. When placed in the corridor of the dark woods, I am sure some frightening aspect will be revealed. A demonic Dorothy and her terrifying friends. For now, it resides here as a monument to fantasy. Getting the kids out for school this morning we had his vision of this faraway place as our temporary companion. My spouse and his obsessions never cease to amaze me. Having painted all night- he will be one exhausted guy all day for sure.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Grey Thoughts


It's a grey day- a sort of in between day and I am suspended in my own time machine of worry. James and I attended a financial aid seminar last night and it made my head spin. So much to do and square away to get our eldest off to the college of her dreams and on to the next chapter of her life. My husband is off on a job interview and it's hard to even think about the possibility of his having steady employment again without wishing for it so hard my heart hurts. It's been one strange interval of economic uncertainty in which we have not been alone. So that softens the blow a lot. It's easy to feel inadequate and second guess every decision I ever made. The mother in me, the guide tries to act as my own parent and give me little pep talks every time my courage and hope begin to flag. When my kids open the refrigerator and scout for something to eat, or kick off their clothes and take a hot shower and then slumber in their cozy beds- I have to appreciate that in spite of all the difficulties we have managed to keep ourselves intact. If only for their sake, I smile and inquire about their day and prepare the next nutritious meal which with luck they will be happy to eat. A certain amount of pretense can go a long way to keep my sense of peril at bay.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Midway on a Monday and I am getting my focus back incrementally. The weekends mean having a lot of activity and the clash of different agendas. The time shifts differently as whatever I am doing, I expect to be interrupted. Lots of Plan B's for me. So far, a quiet phone today means a chance to hunker down. A day without too many plans can bring a lot of unexpected results. Here's to possibility.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Parental Concern

The funny thing about parenting for me has been the necessity of being on the premises most of the time. I chose to stay home with my kids out of desire and default. (Okay, I also didn't know how to keep my business going in Manhattan and have three kids 5 and under.) When you man the oars yourself as a parent, drop everything when they are sick, try to attend to their more pressing needs- all the meals, maintenance and tasks that small humans require to keep moving forward, it's a certain commitment that you make. I was prepared for the kids (I think) but not really the laundry, the dental check-ups, the homework management and 24/7 personal counsel that parenting seems to require. Or maybe not. I'm sure I have all kinds of dumb notions about parenting that will send my children to therapy for years when they become adults. I am not ill-intentioned. They have owned up to that. I am interested in their well being and our community and the world. So, that's another legacy too. I'm hoping to promote their ability to care about something beyond themselves because someone has cared about them.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A.M. Dilemnas

Another morning of domestic chaos. I've been sleeping through the alarm this week and the results aren't pretty. Two annoyed young ladies with their charming ways. "Why didn't you get me up!" "I told you to get me up!""Why did you sleep through your alarm?!" "Argh!!!!!". So, you get a jolt of adrenalin with the push out the door. Somehow, Jacob has graduated to another level. He gets himself up (okay, he goes to bed at a reasonable hour), manages to always find something he is willing to wear. Oh, and the best part is that it takes him 60-90 seconds to get dressed. The girls on the other hand, are often a protracted dilemna of style versus substance- and what did I wear already this week? I definitely remember how important my appearance, my entrance was each day when I got to school. Curious how little changes while so many other things do. Such is life.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

City Life

Another day stacked with activity. Doing some research work in Queens for the Citizens' Jury Project to try to discover a source of vintage images for the New York State Supreme Courthouse located there. I went to Queens Central Library and the Queens Museum of Art and learned a lot. What a huge borough Queens is! While looking at a photo exhibit at the museum, I stumbled upon a panorama of the entire city of New York. It's in the form of a floor map that you can view from numerous vantage points and was originally created by Robert Moses for the 1964 World's Fair. Quite a unique way to look at the expanse of the city and all its waterways. From there, I met some neighbors and did a tour of the official residence for the mayor of New York City, Gracie Mansion. It was an amazing transition from this bird's eye view of the city in a 9000+ square foot space, to a charming wooden house on the edge of the upper east side with beautiful vistas and filled with history. New York affords so many experiences packed with its many residents and cultures. Sometimes I can't imagine living anywhere else.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Parenthood 101


One of my new assignments is creating photo stories for the Tarrytown Patch. It's not too hard to find things to write about as our area has some pretty interesting residents and enough activities to keep everyone busy. Yesterday I went and photographed at the Warner Library book sale. I asked different people to share their favorite find with me. When this beautiful woman held up a book on parenting- it was hard not to smile. Even the best intentioned people can raise kids who routinely drive them crazy. Knowing this gives me a lot of comfort. Life with three (often eye rolling) kids has held its own share of frustrations ever since they learned how to talk......

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Site Lines

It's one of those cloudy autumn Saturdays where the day is not full of plans or obligations. A day to poke around the yard and see how things are progressing. One of my favorite elements of curb appeal is site lines. My goal is to have beautiful things to look at, no matter where your eye is turned when you move around our property. It's a combination of perspective, composition, size of elements, time of year and so on. Something that evolves, challenges and pleases all at the same time. Properties with curb appeal draw you in. It's inspiring to have these views. Like food for the soul through one's eyes.

I took some time to photograph a project we did a few years back. (Someday the stacked flagstone in the top photo will leave.) Originally, the stone wall in our back yard bordered a gully that we completely neglected and used as a buffer. When the kids were little it was a popular spot for hide and seek. After our neighbor raised his corner and built a much higher stone wall, we saw an opportunity to raise our side to the top of his wall and develop the area as useable space. We brought in 20+ yards of dirt and used the talented Annie McGinnis of Going Native to fill our gully and then tiered it with a lower patio using stone that was on our property. (Her website features a lot of my photography.) We broke through the original stone wall that lined the upper part of our backyard, and added the path and steps to the new lower patio. The Japanese maples are volunteers from a friend's yard that I rescued a while back and we moved to this spot. The lower level was my chance to have lilacs, grasses, mock orange, a platform feeder for the birds, boxwood, ferns and hostas. Plus another spot to hang out, read, and hide from each other or gather with friends at night and make a fire in the portable fireplace- as my kids like to do.

Last weekend I went back to the gardener from whom we bought the lilacs and bought a new addition for the yard. It's called barrenwort and will turn shades of crimson as the fall progresses. The amazing thing about curb appeal are the opportunities imagined and obligations required of living in a house.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Third day of spirit week and today is sailor day. Sarah completed her look by making a cute paper hat. Last night, she and Jacob went to her high school dodgeball tournament. Sarah played for her grade and Jacob went to watch. Nora declined to go as she was too busy baking a cake at a friend's house for some senior event today. They kicked all the middle schoolers out of the dodgeball game and Jacob called very grumpy needing a ride home. It all worked out- except that the freshmen class lost big.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Prep Day

This is spirit week at school and the girls are enjoying all the traditions that it means. As part of spririt week the seniors (like Nora) get to pick what the freshmen class (like Sarah) have to be and their color (this year it's beige). Different days have different style attitudes. Yesterday was crazy hat day and today is prep day. Sarah takes her time and puts her look together the night before. Nora throws it all together last minute and is often in such a rush that it's pointless to take out my camera. She is already behind schedule. It's getting harder and harder to photograph Sarah as she finds it annoying. (I guess anybody would, as Nora likes to not so tactfully remind me.) They all make interesting subjects for my camera and ongoing diary. Hopefully they'll put up with me as their personal papparazi for a while longer.

Monday, October 11, 2010


It's been a busy few days with work and projects. I got to work with some engaging people and spent time at some lovely locations. It's always fun to work with kids! Today I shoot a portrait in Brooklyn of an artist who I think will make a great subject- so I'm looking forward to that. My children have been helpful to relative degrees and James has been very busy with the other zillion things that go on all the time. I'm really enjoying looking through a camera and trying to compose a memorable moment. It's a pleasure to create using autumn's golden light.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The S.A.T.'s

Nora has been the soul of determination the past year in thinking about her move beyond high school. Since Labor Day and the beginning of her senior year, she has definitely kicked it up a notch. We really appreciate her willingness to focus her efforts on this task. Today she is taking her S.A.T. exams (for the second time) and last night she studied, turned in at a respectable hour and woke pretty easily at 7 a.m.. In fact, she has been studying for this test for the past couple weeks, culminating with her complete focus (we think) yesterday. She had a study partner over and I found them hard at work in her room. They took a break to go get dinner, but other than that she spent most of yesterday and the day before hitting the books. I admire her work ethic a lot these days and am so glad she has one. (Hopefully she got a little bit of that from her father and me.)

Friday, October 8, 2010


I'm not really sure how I came to possess so much All-Clad. (Okay, that's a lie. I know exactly how I came to own so much of this stuff- I bought every single piece of it personally and brought it home). Somehow, when I came to live in a suburban house and found myself a wife and mother to three, I knew making dinner was going to be a big piece of my personal puzzle. I saw it as an investment in my cooking and could justify the expense (Luckily, both my husband and I were working in the city at this time). My first purchase was a starter set in the '90's. From then on, I always waited for some one-day sale at Bloomingdale's where I would arrive with my special discount off coupons in hand ready to procure the next necessary item for my batterie de cuisine. It is a comforting sight at certain times of day- to see the pots waiting to be deployed. Hopefully in a way that makes most people happy. ("What! Soup again! You know how much I hate onion soup!!!") How much money do I have tied up in All-Clad? Do I really want to know? Still, it has been an extremely good investment as the pots have been of great service for years, clean up beautifully in the dishwasher and still have years of use ahead. If you want pots for a lifetime, I highly recommend them for your kitchen. They also make great gifts and usually create converts of the lucky recipient. If only I could justify the expense of the current addition to their line of baking ware I would probably rave about that too. Unfortunately, the cookie sheets I inherited from my mom still work fine. One of those high end desires that I probably won't fulfill any time soon.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Law & Order British Style

A little sleep deprivation makes parenthood that much more....trying. "I'm up!!" Door slams. "I've been up!!!" Stomp stomp. "I've been getting myself up for weeks!!!" Glare and eye rolling. Yes, my daughters are full of vip and vim in the morning. A picture of true enchantment. Jacob sips his cocoa in the kitchen and tries to stay off the radar. Somehow, getting ready for school doesn't pose the same Herculean challenges for him as for his sisters. And I'm groggy myself having indulged in the guilty pleasure of staying up way past my bedtime to watch television alone and uninterrupted. Now that the Law & Order franchise has gone Hollywood we are committed to seeing if it is as good as its New York parent. All that California sunshine gives the show a decidedly different air. While channel surfing later I came upon a true revelation- Law and Order U.K! Down to the graphics, episode formula and the percussive beats signalling a plot change. I felt the kind of t.v. excitement that can wake me up instantly. My favorite part was watching the courtroom scenes in the English mode. Can't wait to see what countries go Law & Order next.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Excitement for Mom

A very exciting thing happened to me today. Since the day Hodding Carter's excellent blog, The Frugal Guy first appeared on Gourmet's website, I've been hooked. His writing is so wonderful, his observations of his family's day to day life so acute and self awareness so humorous, that I've become a devoted fan. He has certainly been a huge source of inspiration (and support during this downwardly mobile economic time) as I craft my posts. A while back, I did comment on one of his posts and told him how much we enjoyed his writing and I made the bold move of telling him about this blog of mine and attaching it as a link. When I didn't hear back, it didn't bother me, as I imagine how busy so many people can be. Then on September 23rd, an email arrived from him with no subject in the heading.

Hi, Dorothy. I'm sorry I've been such a lame blogger. I've said this before so I understand if you remain doubtful but I'm really back now. Here's my latest post and I plan on writing a couple of times a week from now on. I think I'll even post something useful on occasion! Thanks, Hodding

PS--I love your photos. And I'll post your blog or highlight it or whatever it's called as soon as I figure out how.

Well, I was really happy to get that email. Really happy. I clicked on his blog today and I noticed there was a new feature, a blogroll.

Oh, and I’ve finally added some great writers to my blogroll. Check them out when you get the chance..

And there I was listed as a writer whose blog he recommends. Right there in type, my blog on Hodding's blog. Now that makes me really really happy.
Thanks Hodding!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Revlon Calling

We have in this house what can only be described as the love of nail polish. It might be a genetic trait as I have been fascinated with nail polish ever since I can remember. I have photographed manicured hands, painted with nail polish on canvas, photographed the bottles themselves as subject matter and printed a small book about nail polish names. So, it should come as no surprise that my daughters seem to possess a similar interest in this cosmetic form. For now, they are content to experiment with the colors I have accumulated using the medium of their fingers and toes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Miracle of the Pairs

This morning we had another small miracle. I call it the "miracle of the pairs." While folding the clothes, I noticed that all of Jacob's polo socks were matching up. Not a single sock in the bunch. That's not to say it was a complete miracle. Once again, there are the random single socks in the pile fresh from the dryer that I will never be able to match up again. (I really don't know how we manage to lose so many socks in the wash. Our previous washer was even worse- I pitched baskets of single socks years later with bewilderment. I'm sure it's something we all do wrong in the laundry). While only temporary, I savor the feeling of domestic calm when I can make something add up neatly.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Day of Documenting (Part A)

I had a really interesting afternoon photographing my friend Steven Salzman's artwork yesterday. Originally scheduled for Thursday, we had a weather delay as the rain made it impractical to shoot. Awoke to a clear and sunny morning. (Hit a few yard sales and bought a vintage Mark Cross ballpoint pen for $1.00. Looked it up online and new, it retails for $70.00. And it works. Brief moment of happiness). Delivered Sarah to her friends to attend our high school's homecoming football game and then off to the the city. Made my way to Steve's door downtown, delivered the gear to him, found a legal place to park the car and strolled back to his place on the crowded city streets. (There is absolutely nothing simple about shooting in New York City.) The afternoon light that streams in Steven's Tribeca loft is really the bounced sunlight coming off the row of buildings located across the street. It is a perfect light for photographing his artwork when combined with a reflector on the inside. There is such subtlety in what he creates that I feel lucky to stand in front of one. They are that good. I can attest to this personally, as I have been living with one of Steven's artworks for years, from another period that focused on incandescent paints that shift hue relative to where you are standing. Hopefully, you'll see in the above photos that I took at home today, what I mean. As a photographer, who spends so much time observing the light that surrounds me- his work provides a unique kind of visual pleasure and intellectual vigor that I always appreciate. I'm planning on creating a neat post about what I photographed yesterday. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Halloween U.S.A.


It's October 1st, and for most people, the scent of fall is finally in the air. But for those of us fortunate enough to live in Sleepy Hollow, well, October 1 marks the beginning of the month long celebration of Halloween. Complete with enough haunted hay rides, pumpkin displays and endless community events to make Christmas seem like a quaint time of year. My gallant husband, honor bound to contribute to the festivities, is leaving his personal mark on a shop window on our main street and it's lovely to see his artistry at work. Here's hoping the rain doesn't wash it all away before October's end when the Headless Horseman finally makes his way through town.