Thursday, December 29, 2011


I don't think anything quite spells relief more than waking up in your own bed after leaving a third world country. (as described by a tour operator at Stingray City.) Parts of Antigua were poorer than I had ever seen. Yet the beaches were amazing. Waters tourquoise, aqua blending with exceptional waves and fine sand. We made many interesting memories together and I'll cherish that a lot. (Upon departure in Antigua, before they let you emigrate out, you have to pay a departure tax of $28.00 cash per person. Thank you conveniently located cash machine!) In retrospect I liked most of the things that did happen on our vacation, no one got sick beyond bug bites and sun fatigue, we flew safely and got back to our cars, house and pets (thanks Ian!). Our family adventure (mostly) worked out better than I ever imagined possible.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Away from it all

We have come to a place of heartbreaking scenery with the stunning culture clash of life on an island. The only white faces we see are our fellow visitors, colonists, the whole 9 yards of the well to do with lots of the less well to do wanting to sell you something, drive you somewhere or just plain meet some need.
So, it's very eye opening for my kids to see what poverty looks like. I know upon our return all the many comforts, luxuries and amenities of our life in Sleepy Hollow will appear differently after our visit here. The beaches are beyond exquisite and no one has any interest in shopping or presents or accumulating a thing- except sea shells and memories. So, it's very sweet. It took traveling a fair ways for my children to realize how much they actually like being together.
No one runs off at meal time, or needs to call a friend, or doesn't feel like eating right now. We start the day by hopping in our rental car (yes my talented husband has managed right hand driving) with many prompts from the peanut gallery. "Dad! Watch out!!" "Dad, check out the goats about to cross the road!!" or best yet "Dad!! Speed bump!!!" My husband has risen to greater heights of gallantry as he corrals belongings and we trying to figure out what we want to do next. This is a very expensive place to vacation- excursions (like a boat ride to a neighboring island)cost $100.00 per person-so a $500 outing seems especially steep to us all. We have lived under such reduced means for so long- that spending money frivolously is hard. But, we are doing our best on our modest resources to enjoy ourselves as lavishly as possible. Christmas this year promises a lack of stress and no one will be disappointed with what they did or didn't get because there are no gifts whatsoever- unless you count the lazy days we are sharing in a place kissed by sunshine, warm breezes and tourquoise waters of infinite beauty and delight.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Just In (sort of)

Ryan Gosling 'Coolest Person Of The Year' in Time Magazine.

I already knew that.

Life, Etc.

In the midst of the various holiday events and preparations happening (or not- as is the case around here) we are getting ourselves organized for an adventure to lands beyond our shores. It's sort of a big deal for us- mostly because any travel requiring more than a tank of gas and an overnight stay or two was beyond our modest, post surviving unemployment resources. So, today I need to work my list and plow ahead. In the meantime, I had the chance to do a photo story for the Tarrytown Patch about Mint Fine Foods opening in their amazing, spacious new location. I was glad to mill around the customers excited to be in Hassan Jarane's beautiful emporium of delicious everything. Months of what I can only imagine to be costly and complicated renovations have resulted in something unique, inviting and inspiring. So I tip my hat to the hardworking proprietor of Mint and wish him great success and happiness in his new home.

(To see an earlier photo story that I did about Mint in its previous location click here)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pin Money

At a recent rummage sale nearby I came upon these nice candlesticks marked .50 each which I promptly purchased. Did the internet search and found out they are a very nice item by a respectable maker. Just sold them on Ebay for considerably more than I paid for them. Fixing the roof (something desperately needed) has put a big dent in our finances and I'm inspired to look for ways to lighten our load and make some money. (At the same sale I bought a brand new copy of Unbroken from a nice couple at their table for a $1. James really enjoyed reading that immensely. Frugal living at its best.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Will Hanlon

In November, someone I know in our community, Will Hanlon, hired me to photograph his artwork and the peripheral images to create a website for his work. He wrote the copy and chose a hosting platform, Zhibit to host his online gallery. This morning we chose a template and began assembling the content. It was fun to bring the pieces together for an online portfolio of his interesting artworks. Creativity is a wonderful thing to explore and I appreciate Will's talent a lot.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In Case You are Interested....

This Friday night, December 16th is Third Friday in Tarrytown* and I am excited to be taking part in Jenifer Ross' w@tercooler pop-up shop. I will be selling an assortment of holiday items (Kate Spade ornaments, anyone?) and small "artworks" that involve "nail polish". Developed and run by owner Jenifer (who is also a neighbor), w@tercooler is a co operative work space complete with conference room and a flexible floor plan. Workspace by day, during the evening events range from seminars, to pop-up shops, to community gatherings. It's amazing what she has created in the brief time since she opened her doors. w@tercooler is a true asset to our area (and best new business arrival of 2011). You'll find me and my fellow vendors, Jenifer, snacks and drink there from 5:00- 9:00 p.m. upstairs at 21 N.Broadway, so stop by if you can.

*Third Friday in Tarrytown is a monthly event (shops open late, gallery openings, Music Hall event, street entertainment et al are some of the many activities will occur).

To see my photo story about a body painting event at w@tercooler last summer click here

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"Wish for Everything"

Over the years, I have made a lot of greeting cards (some of which feature me). With the holidays approaching, I thought I would start sharing some of my favorite efforts from the past. In the image above, the hands belong to the model Liza O'Keefe. The nail polish is Dior and the coach in her hands was loaned to me for photography. I bought the background fabric, to give you all the relevant details, at Paterson Silks on 14th Street and my model supplied the shirt. With a Hasselblad camera and lit in the studio, we combined our talents to explore this kitschy object displayed in the throne of her hands.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

December Thoughts

As the days of December peel by, the year speeds along its merry way. The holiday season raises all sorts of expectations and anxieties. Life with teenagers means witnessing a kind of blithe lack of interest in most festivities. It's all about the break from school. (My friend Liza's concept of doing Christmas every other year sounded very good to me. Very good.) In the spirit of adding to my family's modest vacation fund I am continuing to empty my cupboards of interesting collectibles and selling them on Ebay. Coasters anyone?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Studio Ways

During my New York City years, I primarily worked in photo studios creating images- often using the "blank canvas look" of seamless paper for the background. Between placement and lighting, a simple composition can be an interesting challenge to solve with a camera. I was lucky to work with a lot of talented, photogenic and spirited children. Letting them do what they want on the set often led to some fun times shared by all.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Motivational Thinking

In the spirit of being positive about the world, my work, my place in it, and the need to feel useful to others.....

I will promote myself.I will promote myself. I will promote myself. I will promote myself.
I will promote myself.I will promote myself. I will promote myself. I will promote myself.
I will promote myself.I will promote myself. I will promote myself. I will promote myself.
I will promote myself.I will promote myself. I will promote myself. I will promote myself.
I will.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vacation Wrap-Up chez Nous

It's unbelievably mild outside and we are in the throes of putting the garden to rest. I want that calm sense that comes from trimming the dead branches, raking up the leaves, pulling up the dahlia tubers to winter over in the shed, the butterfly bush diminished to the ground- all the various chores that insure a nice frosty rest for the lawn, flowers, shrubs and trees. I am often awestruck by the garden's last floral display, and my current favorite is this mystery rose I found on a clearance table at the grocery store last September. Marked $1.99, forlorn and abandoned, I had to bring it home and find it a spot to thrive. Its flowers turned out to be a funny swirl of pink, orange and yellow. Yellow and orange are colors I tend to avoid in the garden, but this plucky rose seems happy here. I relish these late blooms from the plants that continue to flower under less than ideal conditions. My college student is on her way back and it was great to have her home. I really appreciate my family, my husband, the things that mostly work and all the goodness that we know, have and share. For this suburban mom, it doesn't really get much better than this.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I am in the midst of thankfulness. Gratitude. Call it what you will. Despite things that seem to impact me a lot, and often adversely, there is so much to appreciate it's hard to know where to begin. So I won't. Being a female born in the United States seems like a stroke of good luck compared to the fate of so many children (so eloquently reported by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times among other, distinguished and caring voices describing the plight of children born elsewhere on our globe) combined with the good fortune of having three healthy children none of whom I imagine will ever be sold in to slavery or forced in to a desperate servitude just to stay alive. There is so much luck and good fortune that I don't begin to know where to start on the gratitude list. So, I only hope you similar lives brimming with good luck and good will and wish you many more days filled with thankfulness.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pageviews all time history 12,000

I do really like round numbers. Nice, biggish sort of round numbers. So, a certain milestone that I must pause and reflect and digest. It certainly hasn't been me who has opened my blog 12,000 times since I started in January of 2010. Especially when I consider that I have dutifully checked the box of the "do not count" your pageviews on the dashboard of my blog's settings. So, somwehere, on some digital device, I am finding ways to share my thoughts and images. When you publish books, royalty statements are the measuring stick of your titles' success (or lack of...). Google is very efficient in sharing when and where a viewer has taken a moment to take a look. So, tomorrow I will give thanks for all the 12,000 times I managed my way into the hearts and minds of my fellow citizens of the world.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our Post Office on Beekman Avenue....

is threatened with closure. Which makes no sense whatsoever because of the essential services it provides. As it is threatened with possible closure, petitions in support of keeping it open were compiled containing over 2400 signatures (Sleepy Hollow is listed with 10,217 inhabitants). The other evening, in the assembly room in our village hall, the community turned out to meet with members of the our Northeast regional postal service overseeing our area in this evaluation as well as the introduction of our new Postmaster for Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. (Sleepy Hollow was once called North Tarrytown and until 1973 had its own zip code. Another long story.) Our Congresswoman Nita Lowey sent an aide to read a letter she had written to the Postmaster General in an effort to take our post office off the chopping block.

There were many impassioned comments from the floor of my fellow residents, including our mayor, about the importance of our post office to the life blood of our community and especially ours with its substantial immigrant community who rely heavily on post office boxes and money orders. For seniors, its location on a quieter street with accessible parking means not having to cross 4 lanes of busy traffic and then encounter stairs or ramps to enter the building. We do not want to lose this vital piece of our village. On a business level, our village will be gaining in the next ten years a 1000+ new households with the development of the 100 plus acres of the GM site which appears to finally be happening. The expansion of Sleepy Hollow is in the offing. (On a personal note, I love my local post office and am in there 3-5 days of week.) When you run the current numbers, our local post office is not losing any money so it's not clear why it is being considered for elimination in the scheme of things. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gathering my Wits

Various relatives including my daughter are headed in this direction this weekend so the house etc seems to require more than usual. Factor in a long list of unexpected obligations and this week has kept me on my toes. I took the above photo on my camera's built in memory recently and just learned how to transfer these files onto a memory card so that I could export it. Amazing how the pieces can sometimes fit together.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Romance

For as long as I can remember, I have been in love with nail polish in some form or another- so I thought I would start sharing some of the artworks I have created along the way to express this fascination of mine. This image is from 1985, when I was living in New York City and taking photos for more than reasonable fees. I would use my talents and my beautiful equipment to create images for myself whenever I could. I was friendly with a wonderful hand model named Liza O'Keefe. We did some nice paying jobs together so she was happy to lend her hands to my artistic pictures. I discovered Christian Dior hand products after college and painted a lot with the nail polish during my waitressing years. Their packaging spoke volumes to me, especially when I combined it with their product on a beautiful hand!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wait Until Dark (in Sleepy Hollow)

My daughter Sarah is in our fall high school drama of "Wait Until Dark" and I photographed a rehearsal yesterday for my local Patch to promote the upcoming shows (also did headshots of the actors for the lobby- I felt a little busy). Their director, Mr. Kennedy, does a great job with the directing and the staging. This is also my fifth year with Mr. Kennedy as a parent because my daughter Nora was in many of his previous productions as well. Sarah is playing a criminal character with a New York City accent and is a lot of fun to watch on stage. My talented daughter!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Refashioning Chic for a Good Cause

I photographed a fashion fundraiser "Project Greenway" yesterday at Scarborough Church to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Westchester. Contestants were invited to refashion an item and invent a new way to wear it. An array of ages participated and the turnout was great. One contestant, Conner Ives, stood out from the crowd with the long gown he crafted of coffee stained doilies and filters. For pure talent and execution, I was floored in the nicest possible way.

An Unexpected Reversal of Fate

When things fall apart in your hands it's take a little bit to gather your wits so to speak. Take the long view, the short view, the philosophic view, the tortured view and all the other ways you can find to make sense of events that don't really make sense at all. Kind of like the image that dissolves in front of your eyes when the light changes, the cake that refuses to rise, the deal that goes south in the blink of an eye. There is the interval of confusion and self doubt before you find a way to look at what has transpired. When we traipsed through Howe Caverns last weekend and saw the millions of years it took to create this spectacle below the earth- it gave me a unique perspective on opportunities that fail to gel. Things tend to work out for the best. Nothing ventured is nothing gained. Onward and upward. To thine own self be true. And all that.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Home Fires Burning

I am in this not everything going according to plan mode- all of which is fine, especially when nothing dire is looming on the horizon. It was a week of running around, photos, seeing a friend from long ago, dinner with relatives and sundry obligations. Saturday night found us resting at home with with supper crafted from the contents of the refrigerator. Kids on the move and wandering through with friends in tow to wander out again allowed us to pause and watch a movie starring (among others) the very telegenic Robert Pattinson by the glow of the fire.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Time Away Well Spent

We made a plan to go away sans kids and pets courtesy of a generous friend who agreed to stay with the household. We travelled north and stayed at the Mariaville Lake Bed & Breakfast which had a lovely setting, delicious breakfasts and the largest mirror I'd seen in a long time.

We amused ourselves exploring the area, shops, yard sales and stopping for well deserved snacks.

En route later, we saw the most amazing kind of firework in the sky. It burned intensely bright, threw sparks and died. It felt extremely close- and James told me we had just seen a meteorite that was hundreds of miles up in the atmosphere. Turns out it was spotted in the night skies from Michigan to Nova Scotia.

Our last excursion came about the next day when James learned that Howe's Cavern was close by. We travelled 150 feet below ground by elevator to reach the uppermost part of the cavern for our two hour tour. My husband loved seeing this amazing geological marvel. A guy, rock formations, crystals and tiny passageways. Claustrophobia, anyone?

By 2 p.m. it was time to head home. We arrived to a calm and happy household. Nothing like 48 hours alone, no pressing obligations, and no teenaged disputes to resolve.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Humming Along

Life is in a rhythm of cold dark mornings and later, lighting a fire in the fireplace in the early evening. More books and magazines are in drifts around the house. The property beckons for its own tucking in before winter truly descends. Last weekend's freak snow storm put winterizing on the top of my to do list. Still, the toad lily survived the storm and blooms profusely as is intended for its internal clock, the lemon verbena continues to put out new growth and the leaves on the trees turn their brilliant colors. The calender is squarely on November as I survey what awaits us all next. No college applications pending, no employment to seek, or big decisions to occupy my mind. It's a quasi stress-free time to work and plow ahead.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hotel de Ville

I recently joined The Katonah Museum's Artists' Association and as they are having a group exhibit at the Katonah Library, I decided to make something to hang in the show. I remembered this image, taken one late morning in August in a small village in France, the moment of snapping the shutter as a bicyclist rode through my frame. I found the negative and scanned it and then Linda at Inc. did a beautiful job of printing it for me. I framed it with something on hand but I wanted another element. Adding the nail polish gave it a decorative detail. It could probably use more dots- but I was going for restraint and some smudges. Fun to look at something I created 20 years ago and never really looked at before.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Not So Good

"Just once I would like to wake up with more time on my hand than hours in the day."

I cost Liza $11.25 and two hours of her life yesterday when I drove us to see "In Time". I think Justin Timberlake is wonderfully talented and a true triple threat, but in this movie his performance was often like watching paint dry. The art direction of the film created a future where there was less color everywhere than in the above photo (shot during last weekend's storm). It's the kind of movie that is hard to watch in its entirety. Upon leaving, Liza recommended that she pick the picture next time and I felt relieved to be off the hook that easily. I am also the one who suggested we see "Charlie McCloud" starring another talented actor (whom I can find very appealing in an "on camera" sort of way). Within 15 minutes of "In Time" we agreed that even watching Charlie McCloud was more entertaining than this.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween & Me

Halloween kicked in on my radar finally, especially after the storm cancelled all the weekend events forcing a lull in the manic festivities. Earlier in the month I made a commitment to shoot the "Dobbs Ferry Furry Pet Halloween Parade" for the Rivertowns Patch and I arrived early to find a place to park. Dobbs Ferry quickly became mobbed with memorable dogs, kids and grown-ups in costume. It was easy to make a lot of fun photos. Back at the ranch, James carved some impressive pumpkins to create our own spooky tableau. Dinner by the fire with a creepy movie on tv, James doled out the candy to the trick or treaters who came to our door. Jacob had stayed in town with friends after school and came home cold and tired long before we expected him. My final parental duty was chauffeuring Sarah and her friend Lauren to the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Music Hall to round out their evening. Driving home past the cemetery near midnight, Sarah searched in vain in hopes of seeing a ghostly creature. But for me, my highlight was the chance to observe so many neat subjects at the parade. After the sudden wintry weather, the warmer temperatures and clear skies put the crowd in an excellent mood.

An Unnamed Relative (and Friend) do Halloween

One of my children has enjoyed playing different characters for as long as I can remember. We other relatives get a kick out of the quality of her creations. Sometimes I forget how much fun Halloween can be.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween in the Hollow

When you live in a historic town, its cultural legacy is hard to avoid. This is the area where Washington Irving made his home called Sunnyside and his famous story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" takes place here. Halloween in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow is more than an evening of interesting costumes and trick or treaters gathering candy traipsing door to door by the light of carved pumpkins. It is a month long extravaganza of terror inducing hayrides, literary re-enanctments of spooky stories and the spectacles of haunted houses. Yes, it's one big commercial opportunity for local tourism which by October 31st has exhausted the interest of most everyone who lives here. So, when something at all unique is created, it is a treat for me. The members of the Hill and Dale Garden Club of Tarrytown decorated our local Historical Society this year and one of the tombstones was especially poignant and timely. A brief ode of sorts to another legend in a setting meant to inspire.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spirit Week 2011

Last week was spirit week at our high school. As I wrote about last year, my daughter is very good when it comes to expressing herself through her appearance. (to see a few examples from 2010, click here and click here.) Needless to say, I have become less and less desirable as their personal photo journalist so I am always glad when I am allowed a few moments of their extremely valuable time to record an image or two (or 10 or 12- remember, most of my working career I shot fashion and the average model wasn't happy unless you took upwards of 30 frames on any given set-up...) I was in the kitchen with her while she was eating her breakfast- the day's theme was "nerd/geek" and she was willing to oblige. I praise the stars, the heavens, and their good mood when I have a chance to take a picture of my children that I like. (and if I am really lucky, they approve of it as well.)