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.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Two gals have an early morning adventure

Liza has a great sense of adventure and that is a wonderful thing. So when she suggests an outing I am always interested. She got an invite to go to a taping of the Today Show to see Coldplay on the plaza at Rockefeller Center. One of the requirements was arriving by 5:30 in the morning to be part of the audience. But no worries- we got on the road at 4:30 to drive to the city and make our way. Coldplay has some dedicated fans because when we arrived there were swarms of people which meant we were quite a ways from the stage. No problem there- the whole scene was plenty to captivate me. Al Roker even stood in front of us to do one of the weather spots. I know from past experience that it takes dozens (if not hundreds) of people to put this enterprise together and I loved watching all the working parts. Coldplay sounded amazing and the crowd had a great time. Hopefully, everyone has a friend like Liza who loves to do all sorts of things and is happy to include a pal when life allows.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Barack Obama Doesn't Like His Daughters Watching the Kardashians, Says Michelle

Now that I feel like I have a parental ally in the White House, I can sleep easier knowing I am not the only parent whose daughters find them crazy. Yes, a few minutes with the Kardashian clan under any circumstances is enough to make me wish reality television was never invented. I do have to hand it to their mother, Kris, who is obviously smart enough to understand the financial benefit of branding her family. Dysfunction aside, (and no family can escape that....), I actually prefer the antics of the 20 something's on Jersey Shore. At least in their beach house and beyond their goals seem purely superficial, as in drinking, hooking up, and getting in each other's way. I'd like to think that as they take their MTV paychecks to the bank, somewhere their parents are silently cringing at the display of wanton excess and lack of morals on exhibit in their weekly installments. Unfortunately, with the Kardashians we are exposed through the media to their lifestyle choices, their parental style, their retail efforts and their nuptials. The last time I looked I thought a bride needed only one dress to make it through the evening- but this family exceeds my expectations on almost every level. So, as far as this subject goes, I agree with my president 100%.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When Less isn't More

Yes, there is the lone tomato that we were able to grow to maturity. Factor in the ones lost to high heat and not enough rain, ones lost to hurricane force winds, and just plain neglect- I am pleased to share a very solitary example of good intentions. Sometimes, like lately, life seems harder than I am really able to manage. Combine that with knowing I should feel better, knowing all the ways I am lucky to be alive with all my faculties intact- well all that makes my periodic bouts of heartache that much harder to bear. Forgive all the narcissism- I will try to do better. And today, I will celebrate our sole tomato in some special way tonight at dinner while we make the most of all life's bounty- large and small, here in Sleepy Hollow.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Shadows in Sleepy Hollow

I'd like to say that I live in my very own house of dark shadows, but I don't. However, after watching American Horror Story with my teens (spoiler alert, when the realtor tells you that the previous owners of an underpriced amazing manse died by violent means, keep looking!) I had to check out the classic tv show Dark Shadows on Netflix to relive a few anxiety-ridden moments from my youth. Another reminder- don't go down to an unknown creepy basement alone! (that's why ours is painted all white.) It's almost campy to hear the eerie music while watching the low looming camera angles and people exchanging sinister looks. Sort of like my family on a bad day.
Luckily, unlike Dark Shadows, we live out all our conflicts in full color, but I am always happy to appreciate progress- no matter on what terms.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Nora, Sarah and Me

Apple picking in Vermont on a beautiful October day was an ideal outing during a whirlwind road trip with one daughter to visit another daughter and bring her some comforts from home, go out to dinner, stock her cupboards, buy some unexpected treats and take stock of this new chapter in her life. In the orchard we savored the smell of ripe apples, felt the Northern sun on our cheeks and the happiness of being together. Minus the boys, our tribe was incomplete, but the time together was lovely, stress-free and full of smiles. Amen to all that.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Betty Davis' Eyes

When you are under the weather and feel glued to the coziest, kindest spot in your home sometimes a movie or two can help pass the time while you are feeling awful. I love listening to Leonard Lopate in the car (although my children find it beyond boring) and happened upon an interview with Catharine Wyler, daughter of William Wyler the other day. She was discussing the restoration and re-relase of the film epic, Ben Hur, which was directed by her father. In the course of chatting away, she mentioned her other favorite films of her father's, one of which was The Letter. I got it out of the library and spent a very enjoyable interlude viewing this classic. Betty Davis infused so much feeling in every gesture of the character that she played that she made each moment of her screen time riveting to watch. Truly, a director's dream and an amazing example of artistry at work.

Forgive all the links, this post begged for all the extraneous sharing of information.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Preventive Measures

As we greet the cool days of October, certain members of my family start to complain about "how cold the house feels" and "when can we start putting on the heat?". Like many parents who eye the bottom line a little more rigorously than their offspring, I am happy to remind them of the cozy relief a few more layers might provide. But it's only a matter of time before another t-shirt and a sweater won't provide the comfort their thin skinned bodies demand. And getting teens up in the morning to go to school when the temperature hovers in the low 60's is no picnic either. Maintaining curb appeal also means maintaining our home's mechanicals. It helps to be on good terms with all the folks whose support we need to keep them in good working order. One of my favorite technicians is Robert from Blue Star Heating Co.  After he makes his annual visit to service our heating system I can rest easier, knowing that our lumbering furnace will continue to keep us warm for the chilly months to come. It makes everyone happy when mom keeps the home fires burning.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Spending time with Ellen is a chance to feel inspired, relax in her minimalist world (something we don't really have around here) and chat with someone who has seen me through a lot of changes. Pre-marriage, motherhood, and suburban life, we bonded when were 30 something's. We were each trying to figure out how to be successful as artists and businesswomen while supporting each other through the ups and downs of our numerous romantic adventures as single girls. She has the best taste of anyone I know and her environments reflect her great eye. The day of my visit Ellen was busy editing files. We studied photos I had taken of her and we were both enamoured by a still which captured all of Ellen's elegant sweetness.

Later, we dodged the raindrops and grabbed a bite at a neighborhood restaurant. The noon rush, people hopping up and down, all framed by the backdrop of the window's neon sign created a lively tableau for our viewing pleasure on a stormy city day.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Comforts of Home

My husband is a hard working guy. Up and out five days a week, commuting by train, working late, the whole nine yards of doing the dad thing to keep the troops housed and fed. So, when it's a cloudy Saturday morning and I get to bring him his morning brew that makes me glad. We are no longer kids ourselves, but surrounded by them, you have to keep up. It's good to see him linger in bed on a Saturday morning while reading a fascinating book with the companionship of his favorite four legged creature. Later, back from a quick run to the post office, another configuration emerges- 3 males nesting on a cloudy day.