Saturday, December 26, 2009

Not fade away...

This has been a year of many realizations and discoveries. Of letting go and moving on. Of finding joy and for once, reveling in it. Completely.

In these last few days of this decade let us hope for better things; for peace, for positive change and happiness. Simple gestures... make it better.

Love is real, not fade away...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

To build a home...

This photo brings back memories... it was taken at my aunt and uncle's mountain house in North Carolina following my mother's death, in December 2000.

We spent Christmas week there, and although the mood was not festive, it was still joyful. We had snow, we had a great hill, a couple of sleds and each other. A warm fireplace at night, no interruptions from TV, internet, phones... just peace. A chance to reflect and remember.

I recently wrote of the cloud of witnesses on the people who participated and shared their thoughts during Alice's father's journey. The love and support expressed was open, loving and honest. For me, it was reliving my mother's journey, but it also gave me a lot of perspective and, after nine years, has allowed me to find my own inner peace.

There has been a lot of building, and rebuilding, in these past few months. One such project is a new website that Alice and I are pleased to announce:, an online community for members to share their experiences of coping with and overcoming adversity.

Adversity can come at you in many ways... job loss, depression, the loss of a loved one... Sharing the experience can be a healing process, and others, in turn, can gain insight and lend support.

Sometimes, all it takes is a kind word to see you through... sometimes, that kind word leads to friendship, and isn't the world a better place when you are among friends?

This is a place where I feel at home...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Give a little bit...

My resolution at the beginning of this year was to "make it better"... whatever it was or in whatever small way that I could. I'm not sure how well I stuck to that resolution, but I'd like to introduce you to some folks who are "making it better" right now.

A little bit of history; the above photo was taken in Sri Lanka, I was there in November 2007 for a work related project. We had the opportunity to see the island and spent an amazing 12 days there. This photo was taken at Kotdoowa Raja Maha Vihara, Madu Ganga, an island temple located in the middle of a lagoon in southern Sri Lanka. This day changed my life forever. We arrived at about noon... we were given a tour and took quite a lot of photos... the boys were very interested in all that we were doing. It was wonderful to see their joy as we showed them the images...

I recently met someone through Twitter who is doing something I can only dream of for the moment. His name is Jeff Speigner, he is a graphic designer and the founder of, " opportunity for creative professionals to experience international travel and make a real difference in the fight to end the cycle of poverty. Design4Kids helps talented but underprivileged teens in developing countries learn the technical and business skills needed to establish and operate successful design studios."

Right now, they are beginning their third workshop in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. You can learn more and follow their progress by visiting the website. You can also follow Jeff on Twitter at

As this year comes to a close, I am wondering where next year will take me. I do know there will be changes, that is inevitable. It is my hope that I will be in a situation to be able to give something back and "make it better"...

Now's the time that we need to share...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Don’t look back...

... always look forward, and never quit...

This was the advice given to me by my hero, Mr. Ivan Chermayeff, whom I had the great pleasure and honor to meet at the home of a friend here in Paris this evening. What a wonderful man!

I brought some of my work with me and asked him for an honest critique.... and he gave it. Overall, my work is good, he shared some tips and advice with me that I have taken to heart and will remember for future projects. He was sweet enough to let me ramble a bit and he was very open with what he was working on. This is a man who is passionate about his work and he said he could never think of retiring... Amen for that!

I grew up with his work, we all have... when you look at the scope of what he has done in his lifetime... and you'll know it when you see it... it's coming from him. NBC, National Geographic, Mobil... the list goes on... I told him that what I love about your work is that it is so basic in its shape and form, and yet so simple and so symmetric. He said that is very hard to do... to keep it simple, yet keep it to the obvious.

What have I learned from this? I will quote the man himself, "Draw a lot. Work hard and be as self critical about what it is that you are doing. Don't be put down by not doing something. Don't let it stop you from going further."

I want to thank my dear friend, Barbara, for her hospitality and generosity... gros bisous et merci beaucoup!

Oh, I see myself in a brand new way...

Monday, November 16, 2009


These past months, and more particularly, these past few days, I, and many others, have had the honor and very special privilege of being witness to an amazing man's life, Alice's dad, The Reverend G. Daniel Little.

I only had the opportunity to meet him once, at Christmas dinner with Alice's family. He immediately embraced both Christopher and me, with a warm hug and welcome. His obvious joy at spending time with his family was matched by his wit and laughter. It was a wonderful evening, one that I will cherish.

Over the past year and a half, but especially during these final hours the family has been able to stay in constant touch with each other and their many friends and colleagues through several social networking sites:, Facebook, and Skype. The outpouring of love and support has been uplifting, not only for the family, but also for those of us who have been caring from afar.

His grand-daughter, an awesome woman in her own right, wrote the following as her FB status:

When the cloud of Witnesses becomes the witnesses on the Cloud, their power is so much more tangible. If only virtual hugs could be real...

If only they could be. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire family. Thank you for sharing this very inspiring and touching moment, and for allowing us to give back the love we have all benefited from throughout Dan's journey.

...something's lost, but something's gained, in living every day...

Monday, November 9, 2009

What do you want from life?

My answer to that is to always hold my muse close. The creative spark and all that goes with it, when it is elusive, is frustration to the extreme. It has been way too long; writing, shooting, designing... I finally feel free to express again. And, THAT, was the whole reason to start this blog... to give me a place to get my yayas out.

This past year has been shit on shit. One thing after another. And just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, it did. Take a look at how many posts I have made these past months and read them. Seriously... read between the lines.

Well. What happened? What turned it around? Without giving it all away... Me. I happened. I needed to practice what I preach. I needed to pull myself up by the bootstraps. I needed to kick my own ass. I'm good. I love what I do. I just needed to remind myself of that.

I need to thank a few people. Alice. Alison. Kathleen. Catherine (for your youth and life before you... AWESOME!). Brad, LYE... UB & AS. I also need to thank someone from the past. Mr Dennis Warner. My high school photography teacher. Apparently, he took quite a few lost souls under his wing and, recognizing a passion, taught us to see, how to look at things differently. And, he cared. One-on-one discussions. He was truly a teacher.

I've recently reconnected with an old high school friend via Facebook. I know, I know... Facebook, again. This was a good friend. To me, he has always been JohnMan. We hung out. It was the 70s. We were all young, we got high, we laughed a lot. We had a good time. He was also another student of Mr. Warner's. He's now an excellent photographer in his own right. Through brief conversations, he told me he was doing a show in Maine and would I be interested in contributing a few of my photos? He saw my Sri Lanka photos (see side bar). No hesitation. Yes. The proceeds will go to the local Good Shepherd Food Bank.

If you happen to be near the CMMC, Central Maine Medical Center, stop by and visit the Annual Craft Fair on High Street, Lewiston, Maine on November 20th from 8am to 4pm. Take a few minutes to look around. Say hi. And, even if you don't buy a photo, consider dropping a buck or two in the can. Hard times; a simple gesture can make it better.

I still have a lot to go through. Legal BS... meh. The courts will decide. I have some big, fat decisions to make. BIG. FAT. Can anyone say crossroads? Rebuilding my foundation is my top priority right now. My passion has always been networking and friends. And real, true friends, will always be there, no matter. This has been a reflective year. Thank you, my friends, for being there. Really. You made a difference and one day, I hope I can give it back.

How to end this one? No question! :-)

Or, a baby's arm holding an apple...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My sweet embraceable you...

I am a very lucky woman in that I have some really great friends, one of whom got in touch the other day and asked if I wanted to go to see a full dress rehearsal at the Opera National de Paris. How could I possibly say non? The performance was three ballets, Amoveo, Répliques and Genus, each very different. Each very moving.

I have never been to the Palais Garnier. I've gone by it, thinking one day... the exterior is exquisite, la Belle Epoque in all its glory! The interior, with its stairways, balustrades and gilding... sumptuous. But the ceiling in the theater itself? All Chagall... it took my breath away. I love his motion, colors, expressions... inhale, exhale, sigh...

I have never been to a ballet, so I didn't know what to expect. The first performance, Amoveo, was color and movement, the troupe was dressed in rainbow colors and the background had lines continuously being drawn horizontally and vertically, while changing colors. The main dancers were beautiful to watch; so supple, so graceful, so erotic... The music was Einstein on the Beach.

The second performance, Répliques, is making its world premiere tonight. The choreographer is Nicolas Paul. It opened with a black, satinée background. White lights back lit the top, the troupe came on stage, their reflections shimmering in the background, then leaving slowly with just the main dancers remaining. The top lights went down low, and they embraced, now lit from the side... the shadows they cast melded them into one as though they were breathing each other in... so sensual, so soft, so seductive... I will admit, the tears were running down my face...

Intermission and a chance to see the interior... the Moon Room, the Sun Room, the promenade... sensory overload. All too soon, the bells chimed and sent us back into the theater.

The third performance, Genus, was created for the Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris in November 2007. At 44 minutes long, it incorporated an interesting use of film and screens that dropped, separating the dancers from one another, yet all the while they shadowed themselves, movement with movement.

I was mesmerized by the background dancers, the women were held horizontally, and still, while each screen came down. They held that pose, the screens were transparent, the concentration, the strength each one had... This was a magical evening. I must go back, I need more of this.

The evening, because it was a dress rehearsal, was surrounded with press; photographers, videographers, and journalists. We were on the floor, row 9... it was great for me to see the activity of the final test run in action. The clicking of the cameras in the front rows, I could see them checking their shots, the movement they made reflecting the dancers, flipping cameras effortlessly from side to side... my passions are showing... I am in love with all of what goes into a production like this. I have so much more to learn and there is so much more to see. Any opera fans out there, tell me, please, what should I see first? The opera I saw with Sting and Elvis Costello last year blew me away. I need more... It was a wonderful evening.

Above all, I want my arms about you...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In the still of the night...

Had a lovely surprise today...

On a rainy November afternoon I received a bouquet of sunshine... the thought behind it is very much appreciated. Thank you for the smile you brought to my face.

Simple gestures...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All the leaves on the trees are falling....

Paris in the autumn is like no other season. Perfect weather, perfect light, perfect, perfect, perfect everything.... all the locals are back, everything is open; this is when you really want to be here.

I had an early (10am!!) meeting this morning and brought my camera with me. Unfortunately, once I turned it on, I realized I only had 4 minutes left on the battery!! Gasp! I managed to snag this shot just in time...

There is something about the light in Paris, once you know it, and its patterns, it's heavenly. I know that in mid-November, in the late afternoon, at a certain cafe... the light coming down the street is sublime. The first time I was there, that's all I saw... this amazing scene, and no camera. Lesson learned. Autumn in Paris... way more betterer than April in Paris.

Can I just have one more Moondance, with you... my love...?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dear Mr. Fantasy...

I took an afternoon walk... the clock has changed, fall behind, et al... needed some fresh air. I've also had the gauntlet thrown. Photographically speaking. Challenge? Nude. Parameters? Self as nude. Hmm... Let's see... fifty, fat, frightened... any more "f" words that immediately come to mind?

Nevertheless, I had the spark of an idea. We are allowed to have a bit of Photoshop freedom [amen] and so... this morning I did a test run for one layer of the idea. Those of you who know me know I have really long hair... I've been told it is always best to "accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative"... okay, I thought, this could work... take that hair and strategically cover some bits and I can keep my dignity intact and yet show a little artistic flair! Ahhh, yes... artistic flair, add a textured layer! With that in mind, I went to the park this afternoon to see what I could find for layer two.

Here's the thing. I live in Paris. I walk to my destinations. Luckily the Serres d'Auteuil is close by; my layer two thought process involved trees... I thought about it all the way there. I know the trees, I know the layout of the land... but, once I strolled through the gates, I got hit with the autumnal afternoon light and the very sensual sculpture shown above... Rapture! Joyous Restraints! May I just say thank you to the Renaissance artists who beautifully depicted women as they are/were... no airbrushing, no getting rid of excess baggage, just real honest-to-God women. Women with bodies, reveling in their femininity. Woot! :-)

The tree/hair layer idea is officially off the story board. I'm not sure of the direction just yet, but with a bit of guidance and a whole lot of inspiration, I think I'll get it right... I just need to "feel the fear and do it anyway".

This is all to say that the final presentation will not be a Bacchanal orgy overdose, but, hopefully, something tasteful, that I can look back on ten years from now and say, hey... you weren't so bad after all!

Something to make us all happy...

Monday, October 5, 2009


Seems like I've been in a bit of a daze... summer has rolled into autumn and I'm still trying to catch up with spring things. What has kept me going these last few months is the support of good friends. You know who you are! ;-)

At the age of 51, I am once again standing at the crossroads. People who I thought were true, weren't. Things I thought would work, didn't. You can take experiences like that and let them kill you, or you can glean what you can from them and use them as opportunities to learn, grow and move on.

And learn I did. To be honest, it has taken a few months to digest some of that learning and then, once appreciated, to expand upon it. Let's face it, this economy sucks, no matter where you are, no matter what you do. Any kind of learning you can undertake to better yourself these days is a plus!

This past month has seen an active revamp of the dusty, old resume, a new job proposal template, mega tutorials on anything CS4 and reconnecting with friends from the past. I think this is where I have found the most astounding revelations! I've had conversations with a few folks which have turned into deep and personal sources of inspiration; and even one-line comments have given me a great deal of insight... I thank you all.

These reconnections have not only shown me where I have been, but also, show me how far I have come and how much further I need to go. I'm turning pages, but with a new purpose and a revised, yet still undetermined plan. Life is too short to sit around and say 'maybe'. It feels good to say that... AND believe it!

We are spellbound...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Summer’s Almost Gone...

A very low key summer this year... there are so many things going on and I felt the need to get away from it all. So, I packed a bag and hopped the TGV to CH, my favorite place to unwind!

Much of the time was spent doing exactly that, unwinding... cooking and sipping wine on the patio overlooking Lake Geneva, but we also celebrated the Fête Nationale Suisse. The day started with the racing yacht Alinghi making its way from Lausanne to Geneva... we caught sight of it mid-way in Morges. Followed that up with the canton Vaud's celebration of music, food, wine, bonfire, fireworks on the lake and dancing! I haven't been dancing in years and teamed up with a nimble Brazilian man who kept me on my toes! Obrigada, Luiz! The following day was quiet, mostly because it was Sunday, and half the village had left town on vacation!

On Monday, we headed up the hill to a friend's house for lunch. She and her husband have a spectacular view of the lake and Mont Blanc. Lunch was delish, and it was nice to catch up! Merci à tous!

By Tuesday it was time for a road trip... the beauty of Switzerland is that it is small enough to get around and you feel like you are in a different country within an hour or two. We drove up to Neuchâtel, and did a cruise around the lake, always relaxing... Got back to port and decided to drive to Murten; a beautiful little town in canton Fribourg. It was getting late by the time we arrived, so we hit a few shops along the central Hauptgrasse street.

The first was a gun shop to purchase and have a Swiss Army knife engraved as a gift for a relative (he only charged 1 CHF for the engraving!). It was a very peculiar little shop; lots of dead things, and lots of mercenary type gear, not to mention antique armory (he had a WWI machine gun set up near the cash register!). The owner was somewhat gruff and kept an eye on every move we made. I didn't dare touch anything, and I didn't see the guard dog until we were leaving. He was sleeping in his hidden/camouflaged cage, but the door was wide open and I'm sure, had the word been given, we would not have been going anywhere fast!

Our next stop was much more relaxed and enjoyable. The glass dispensers filled with different colored oils were what caught my eye. The store is called Vom Fass and it has every flavor of oil and vinegar you can imagine. They also have a wide variety of whiskeys, cognacs and other spirits. The site lists their locations, if you have one near you, go for a tasting!

After the oils, we grabbed a beer at Grizzly's, a Canadian resto serving ribs and American style food... right next door was a butcher. We had already decided it was too early for dinner, yet too late to grab something on the way home as the stores would be closed. The butcher's shop smelled of marinades and spices and the rack of lamb was the choice of the day. If you happen to be in Murten, stop by and ask for Christian Pauli, Hauptgasse 22, Tel: +41 (0) 26 670 11 32.

We got back to home base and whipped up dinner... I have never had lamb that was so tender and flavorful. Turns out it was Australian lamb... I may need to make a trip down under! The lamb was accompanied by fresh green beans and a dressing of avocado oil and fig vinegar, both from Vom Fass.

Plans are underway for the Cow Parade in September... however, that all depends on several situations and how they work out. For now, it is back to reality...

When summer's gone, where will we be?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sweet cherry wine...

I couldn't resist, and they tasted great! I'm back, it's been a while, but I've been busy and have spent some great times with friends who were visiting. Got to see Crosby, Stills and Nash on July 4th, and then had unexpected tix to see U2 on July 11th at the Stade de France! Great show, 80,000+ people... Next up is Yes in November and then The Harlem Gospel Singers at the Olympia in December.

A quick heads up, if you are a cycling fanatic and happen to be in the UK area, take a look at my friend Ymer's site. Tell him I sent you, he'll take good care of you... be sure to pack your wooden leg!

It's truly summer. I'm off to my favorite place... photos to be taken, wine consumed, friendships renewed. Life is too short, have a great time wherever you are!

Drink it right down, pass it all around...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Say ahhhhh.....

In so many ways, saying ahhhhh right now is so precisely right. The opening of the yap and the sigh of relief for the outcome.

I was a smoker, on and off, for many years. It has been a little over 12 years since I quit smoking for good. I watched my mother die of lung cancer. I held her hand as she passed. Very recently, I have been worried about what was going on with my body, convinced that cigarettes have finally caught up with me. That funny looking spot on my lip that wasn't going away. But, that's not the cause... this is from too much sun exposure.

I am lily white. I never tanned, I burned and peeled. I have had sun poisoning more than once. I finally gave it all up at the age of 28. I had spent a long day at the beach with friends. It was fun, but the after effects were not. Our family trips to the beach afterwards were spent slathered in sunscreen or covered up, and definitely not outdoors during peak hours. Still... last Saturday afternoon I was at the dermatologist's office having a minor procedure done to remove a precancerous growth from the right half of my lower lip. Right now, it ain't fun and it sure ain't pretty, but it beats the alternatives. Time marches on.

My son reminded me yesterday that he will be 18 this October. I'm having a hard time taking that in. I knew it would happen. When I was pregnant I used to think... when he's 18, I'll be 51... it was such a long way off back then. But, here we are. I actually had to think out loud the other day, 'how old am I?'... I am still 50. For another 2 months or so, I am still 50. I find my memory banks to be a little harder to tap into.... maybe the mental Rolodex needs a bit of WD-40? WTF?

Seriously, WTF???

So, to combat some of this (what's the word I want?...) ennui? laissez-faire? (why can I come up with FRENCH and not ENGLISH words now?) I am planning some adventures for the next few weeks.

Some friends from Lyon will be in town the weekend of June 27 for the Gay Pride Parade. We have plans to meet up for lunch at Pooja, but we'll play it by ear. If you haven't been to a Gay Pride Parade in Paris, you are truly missing something... music, costumes, a lot of fun! (Guy, where are you??)

If you happen to be in Paris on July 5, meet me and a few other summer stragglers at the Eiffel Tower for a big sing-a-long. This is a Facebook event... the song is still being decided upon. Hopefully, it will be something everyone can sing. The big favorites being debated so far? "La Vie en Rose" (meh) and "We Will Rock You" (barf). How about "Imagine" or "All You Need is Love"? Something with meaning that everyone can sing... "Three Little Birds"? In any case, a friend is coming over from NYC and we will be spending July 4th at the Olympia with CSN. "Find the Cost of Freedom" would be a great song, but it's too short, and besides, how many French young-uns know the words to that? Hope to see you there. Here's one we can all relate to:

I will survive...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

There are places I remember...

I was there in 2002, the era of Bush, Chirac and Colin Powell. It was the first Memorial Day following September 11. We had invitations from the US Embassy to attend and a group of us drove up for the day. Our driver (a friend with the biggest van) picked us up bright and early and we hit the autoroute... we had a great time enjoying the camaraderie and rare moment of being together for something that wasn't office related.

As we approached Colleville, the streets were lined with French and American flags and military "checkpoints". We had to show our invitations and passports several times along the way. We arrived early as told, which gave us plenty of time to park and get good seats.

Going into the cemetery took my breath away. Knowing the events which took place there, and the enormity of the loss of life, I couldn't help but be moved by the vast number, row after row after row... of grave markers. The sea in the background and the decorated veterans who survived...

I am a military brat. I have written about this before. "Taps" starts the tears. Fly-bys do me in. Once the ceremonies were over, I pulled myself together and we finally had the opportunity to walk around and visit the grounds. I found myself standing and chatting with U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Larry Poe, overlooking the beach. Lots of stars and bars for a Navy brat like me.

If you have not yet been to Normandy, put it on the list of must-see places to visit in France. It is such an awe-inspiring place to be. The museums and sites will stay with you forever. To have been there for a special ceremony was a privilege, but I need to go back and spend a day there. It's a peaceful place to be.

Some have gone and some remain.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Toits de Paris...

A lot to be said about the light in Paris... in all seasons. This was taken about an hour ago, 10pm... still light enough for that fabulous twilight blue to come through.

These past few weeks have been an exercise in patience... waiting for too many outcomes, just glad they have all turned out well. Now it is time to turn the page and move on.

Spring is very much here; and even though it is still chilly, the days are really getting longer, Rolland Garros is just around the corner and I will soon be heading to my favorite respite. Then, before you know it, summer will be here with la fête de la musique and friends coming to visit! Where does the time go?


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The way you do the things you do...

Gotta love Facebook. I know, I know, enough already, but... dig this! Just in today's posts I learned about restitution, retaliation and resurrection! Might I add [sic] for all?... Enjoy!

Restitution Q:
OK fellow FB'ers....anyone have an Ipod Guro who can rehab a rain-soaked Ipod?

Restitution A:
"Turn it off immediately. Put it in a bag of dry rice. Put the bag in a warm spot. Voilà!"
"ouch! then to reboot - hold down the menu button & center button at the same time for 10 seconds."
"DO NOT turn it on until dry (1-2 days in the rice). Water and circuit boards don't mix."

Retaliation Q:
?? "is figuring out how to retaliate. there's this long-running feud with her upstairs neighbor. he just broke out a saxophone and it sounds like he hasn't played it in a decade. he can barely blow a clean note. should ?? (a) make the dog bark, (b) get out her violin, (c) get out her irish tin whistle, or (d) bang on the ceiling with the broom handle?"

Retaliation A: (lots of them!)
"...we generally bang on the ceiling. And last weekend, early in the morning, we turned the speakers up towards the ceiling and blasted the stereo!!!"
"Make the dog bark while banging the violin on the ceiling. Save the whistle for later."
"No, no, no. Don't fight fire with fire. Call him up and tell him you think the sax is so sexy."
"Play the violin badly, if you can, and hopefully the dog will bark along with you."
"(e) All of the above...simultaneously."

Resurrection Q:
?? is asking "for help for our new worship service: anyone got any good resources (web or print) that have great assurances of pardon that will work for a more post-modern service? Or if you don't have resources, what would you want to hear about God's grace?"

Resurrection A:
""One fact remains that does not change: God has loved you, loves you now, and will love you always. This is the good news that brings us new life." It cites Women and Worship and is from the New Century Hymnal (we refer to it as "assurance of God's forgiveness" in our order of worship). I also like many of the resources found at Outside the Box prayers."
"Seriously, something from your heart, if you have to chunk this in, and have to follow Is. 6, do it completely from your heart...the key is for it not to be a formula...but then again, is Is. 6, the only way to see the modern style?"
"hehehe, i love that you're working towards a more "post-modern" service"...

You make my life complete...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Death and taxes....

Come what may.

I'm knee-deep in French taxes. Another word for it is Ciel Hell. Ugh. I am not an accountant. I remember a long ago 25 question college course pop quiz. I got all 10 math problems right and all 15 true or false theory questions wrong. Need I say more? Now, take all that, put it into French, and then, apply French tax laws. You can SEE how much FUN I am having, non?? As they say in Skype... (puke). Due date? May 1st. Death is more inviting. So much so, that I am thinking of my submission for a project called "A Book About Death".

A friend here in Paris, Matthew Rose (an avant-garde artist), is the brainchild for this project and he has put together an idea for a book and website... 1000 artists contribute 500 post cards each to create an unbound book about death. Exhibition at the Emily Harvey Foundation Gallery in New York City. Opening: Thursday, 10 September, 2009. Exhibition: 10-22 September 2009.

When I first heard of this project I knew exactly what I wanted to submit. A photo of the church library where my mom spent many of her last days, which is adjacent to where she is now buried. It is a stark black and white image and, as it was almost Christmas when she died, the doors have wreaths, rendering them almost too festive. I have been going through boxes and piles looking for the negatives. I'll find them, and the shot I want, and I will submit it as a part of this project. It is a cathartic way to honor a memory and let it go at the same time. I have found the letting go part to be really hard, even though it has been almost nine years.

In any case, I hope you will take a look at what has been submitted thus far. There is a lot of love to be found, and a lot of creative expression, in many forms.

Nothing is certain...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fairy tales can come true...

Remember these ladies from last spring? They still look fab! Et moi?... I'm giving the daily walk another go, only this time I have a long-distance motivator who has promised to nag if I nag back. Nothing like a little guilt to get you going, and it felt good to get out and enjoy the weather; April in Paris this year is truly spectacular!

A lot has been going on since my last post. Life changing stuff that needs to be settled, new career of sorts, travel... I want to thank those of you who wrote to see if everything was okay. All is well, just laying low for a little bit.

Right now, it's time for some shameless plugging... here we go! Some friends (who are fans of Paris) have blogs you might enjoy. Kirsten's blog, Write On Thyme has lots of nice photos and tips on places to visit... Starman's blog, Le Rêve Français feature highlights from his visits to France. (They both have music, adjust your speaker volume!)

Des Américains à Paris is happening at the Jardin d'Acclimatation from April 11 through May 10, open every day from 10am to 7pm. There is SO much going on, I've cut to the chase and linked you directly to the event PDF...

How about a little Paris in America? My friend Lindsey will be showing her works at the 12th International Sculpture Objects & Functional Art Fair (SOFA) in New York City from April 16-19 at the Park Avenue Armory. She did an amazing sculpture of red ballerina slippers in porcelain, covered with 7000 red Swarovski rhinestones. It's beautiful! Stop by booth #419 and say hello!

Okay, phew... feeling better now. Hope you'll find some inspiration in here somewhere...

Spring has sprung!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The day is long...

I have been thinking about my grandmother for the past few days. Songs have been coming on the iTunes radio station I listen to... and this afternoon, my cousin gave me a call. We talked for a long time. I enjoy his calls... easy rambling and lots of good laughs. It was nice to share memories of Gram with him.

I am the first grandchild. I have special memories of time spent with my grandmother. The Florida coast, Michigan, North Carolina... In 1967, I spent a lot of time with her. I was nine years old. She had just gone through a divorce, we were in transition from the military to a civilian life... it was easier for me to stay with her for a few weeks. It was the best time ever. We played Yahtzee and Scrabble, ate Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and watched Johnny Carson. She smoked like a chimney and enjoyed her Crown Royal in the evening. I still use one of her blue Crown Royal bags for the Scrabble tiles.

This photo was taken at Clark Lake, Michigan on June 24, 1950... 8 years before I was born. It's of my great-grandmother, Charlotte; my grandmother, Rachel; and and my great-aunt, Rhea. I can see my mom's face in all of them, and now I know where the chin comes from!

She called me in Paris on the Wednesday before she died. We had a nice long conversation, got to say a lot of things and gave each other our love when we hung up. I went off to the house in the country for the weekend. We had no phone and no one nearby to reach us. When we got home that Sunday night the answering machine was blinking like crazy... I was on a flight the next day.

At her service, I was in the car with my cousin and three of my brothers. A few songs came on the radio that will be forever etched in that moment. I miss you, Gram...

Hold on...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Snotty, beam him down...

By all rights this should be a snow covered, mountain capped, fondue enriched scene from Switzerland where I spent this past weekend... Instead, I offer you this: a sculpture outside the H. R. Giger museum located in Gruyere, the heart of milk and cheese. How did that happen??

Factoid: Giger's album covers for Debbie Harry and the band ELP were voted among the 100 best in music history in a survey of rock journalists.

Last Friday I ditched Paris and hopped the TGV for Geneva and an extended weekend visit. Spent Saturday in Lausanne and Ouchy, Sunday in Gruyere and Fribourg, and Monday hanging around taking in the fresh air and view. It was much needed and most definitely appreciated! (Merci, A!)

This is a short post... I'll be back on the TGV tomorrow morning, bright and early, looking forward to new horizons, projects and adventures. Spring is imminent...

Prepare for Metamorphosis. Ready, Kafka?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Who let the dogs out?

First off, I apologize for this photo. It was not what I wanted to use for this post, but... the cow shots really didn't work (lighting, color, focus... blah, blah, blah...). In this dog's defense, he had a crowd around him; we were passing through and this was a quick, action snap. During the time it took us to pass through, he didn't move, bark or whimper a bit... AND, no... I don't know what she is doing with her hand. Obviously, both are professionals. Don't try this at home!

I went to the Salon de l'Agriculture yesterday. Met a friend there and we did a tour through our favorite halls: food, wine and livestock. I have a few folks whom I like to see and buy from every year. This year was an exception... I said hello, picked up my free magnums, had a tasting and said I'll be back next year. They all understood. In today's economy they are waiting for the bottom to fall out. They told me that although some folks are still buying, they are buying only top quality and a little less of it... leaving the lower quality (which is still good!) for next year.

Even the halls themselves were smaller in proportion. The cows used to have their own space... this year, they were sharing the same space as the pigs, sheep and goats. A lot of space was blocked off and unused. And, considering the day I went, there were not as many people there that I thought would be. This does not bode well for the French agriculture industry.

My hope is that things will pick up by summer time. The Salon Saveurs des Plaisirs Gourmands happens from May 15-18. If you happen to be in Paris, make a point of trying to attend. The vendors go out of their way to introduce you to their products. It is a treat to your senses... and lord knows, we need some tasty treats!

Woof, woof!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

You say potato...

...I say Gratin Dauphinois.

After living in France for 16 years, I have finally, just about, almost, reached potato nirvana. It took a chance conversation on Facebook and an experiment with refrigerator ingredients to come to this point. Everything I thought I was doing right was wrong, wrong, wrong! Cheese? Quel horreur! Milk? Alors! Mind you, I have been corrected and I hope to mend my ways.

A little history... I married a French guy. He had a mother. She hated to cook. (I should have run away then.) I brought my love of cooking and 17 boxes of kitchen paraphernalia with me when I moved here. I had spent the prior year getting to know him... eating in restaurants, going to his friend's homes for dinners... in short, enjoying the cuisine of France. One of my most favorite dishes has always been Gratin Dauphinois. What could be easier than potatoes, milk, and cheese I thought? Pfft. I can do that!

Yeah. Right. Not til now. Now I know I don't have to simmer the spuds in milk, minding the heat so they don't get scalded... no wondering which cheese is the right cheese... there is NO cheese! This is a simple dish prepared simply and with love.

Tonight I had three little potatoes that had been leftover from last week's raclette. I had a dab of butter, a tiny box of creme léger and a clove of garlic. Salt and pepper grinders are always on hand. I was set. I sliced the taters into a large bowl, poured the creme over top, seasoned it, rubbed garlic and butter into a ramekin and poured it all in... Popped it into a low oven and let it go for about 2 hours. And THAT, my friends, is the trick. Long and slow. Who knew? How easy is that? Sheesh. All these culinary years later.....

The end result was... almost perfection. I would use a full cream and not the light version. (Screw the calories for this dish!) Other than that? Nirvana.

In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport.
~Julia Child

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The sun’ll come out tomorrow...

Lots of stuff on my mind lately and, apparently, it's not just me, it's a few other folks as well...

Some friends have emailed and said they've been laid off from their jobs. Others are concerned and waiting for the axe to fall... there just seems to be a general malaise in the air. Following the Obama election/inauguration euphoria, it feels like we're on the slippery slope of a manic low...

President Obama has said it'll get worse before it gets better. Even if you are doing okay, maybe your friends or family members aren't...?

I'm just wondering, what is your top tip to keep a positive outlook?

Bet your bottom dollar...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

You just keep me hanging on...

Had to do a fast shoot of hangers for a website I'm working on... It got me to thinking of all the junk that just accumulates so innocently at first, and then all of a sudden, BAM! There's a pile of crap you really don't need, but aren't sure of what to do with. "I might need it for something someday".

I'm here to say bullshit on that!

Last August I emptied my bedroom. I took everything out and reamed in a BIG way. All those size 10 jeans, 80s suits (think serious shoulder pads), and shoes that were either worn out or never worn at all; no mercy! Boxed, bagged or binned! Gone! Bye-bye!

With that ream came a bunch of dry cleaner hangers. Those wire nasties that conjure up Mommie Dearest... I had them. Lots of them. I had planned on bringing them back to the dry cleaner so she could recycle them, but never got that far in the out-the-door process. So, they hung around. Gathering dust. Until today.

Today, they came in handy. Tomorrow, they go back where they came from. Fitting, eh?

Set me free!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Are you ready for some football?

Living overseas offers the best of both worlds. Your new culture and its traditions, and those you grew up with. One of the things I miss living here in France is American football. (And, yes I have to clarify it as American. We get our fill of "football", but it just ain't the same thing.) I should also clarify that the only times I really miss American football is on Thanksgiving Day and Super Bowl Sunday. The half-time commercials are anticipated and this year The Boss is doing a 12-minute show? It might be the only time during the broadcast that you won't leave your seat!

I've often wondered if the 4-minutes on, 2-minutes off for commercial breaks contribute to the short attention span of America's youth. It's mind-numbing. How can you concentrate on the show/movie/game you are watching with the constant interruptions? Here in France you get them all in big doses, usually at the beginning, somewhere in the middle and then at the end, followed by a weather report. BBCPrime doesn't even run "commercials", but rather promos for upcoming shows and their own lame station IDs.

President Sarkozy has recently announced that the public stations will no longer be airing prime-time ads! At first I thought great! But what will they be replaced with? When can I run to the kitchen to refill my wine glass? How will I know what to clean my teeth/floors/toilet/dishes/body with? Pharmaceuticals alone... sheesh! I don't know what half the stuff is for! What exactly is Oscillococcinum? (Don't know, don't care, but it works when you are coming down with a cold!) Only in France can a naked woman taking a shower be selling yogurt. And treasures like this will never see the light of a plasma screen.

But, I digress. This post was about football, specifically the Super Bowl. The above photo is of me and Sue T., circa 1971. The Navajos never made it to the Super Bowl, but we made sure they would move to the left, move to the right..... you know what I mean!

So, to all my friends in the US, paint your face, grab your beers, wings and chips and have fun!

Oh yeah.... Go Steelers!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Freeze frame...

It seems I have had a camera in my hands for a really long time. I may not be good, and I may not know exactly what I'm doing, but somehow, the moment was captured.

For the three of you who have been following this blog, you'll know that I have posted a few pix from the past. You also know that I joined Facebook back in September for a job-related reason. I was asked to learn the ins and outs of FB. So, I did. I may have mentioned this before, but through FB, I found a lot of old neighborhood friends. Recently, some folks I used to fly with have been joining. It is so nice to catch up with everyone, and yet it is funny how my life seems to be broken into segments of location.

The most important location has been that of my pre-teen years... or, as we called it, "Wilmont Turnpike". In 1969, my family, along with many others, moved to a new Levitt development on Long Island, fondly known as the "W" section. We were phase 2 of Strathmore East. We all came from different backgrounds, left our familiar schools and friends and merged in this magical moment of 1969. Together, we watched Apollo 11 land on the moon, and the phenomenon that was Woodstock play out on radio and TV news broadcasts. The Mets won the World Series, and we were turned on to Jethro Tull by Mr. T. ;-)

We erected tree forts and mud constructions, played in the foundations of the sections still being built. If our mothers only knew what we were up to... no cell phones, no SMS, no GPS... we were out there, on our own, and no one worried.

These days, it just isn't the same. As one friend said, this just doesn't happen anymore... it's Wii... PSP, iPhone, iPod.... iWhatever....

I haven't posted since President Obama's inauguration. (Yeah, I said, "President" Obama!) It's been just over a week since he has been in office, and there seems to be a trend to get back to basics. (Haven't I written about this before? [Yes.])

I just want to say, go build a tree fort with your kids. Take the time to share some music. Watch a ball game together. Plant some potatoes, carrots, root vegetables. (I wish I had a garden.) Slow down. The world is in a recession. As another friend said, "Eat pie."

This freeze-frame moment can't be wrong...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It’s a beautiful day...

Change has come to America! Peace, dignity, integrity... a new beginning.

I'll write some more later; today has been a moment in history. Had calls from the US, friends on Skype and Facebook... it feels like we are unified once again.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Glass Ceiling...

Lunch, mentoring, and a good boogie...

Yesterday I had lunch with Stephen at Le Printemps under the stained glass dome. If you recall, I met him in December when my flight was canceled out of IAD to CDG. We stayed in touch through email and finally had a chance to get together for a meal and conversation. He's a great guy, witty, intelligent, and gracious enough to allow me to bounce some ideas around.

My life has taken some twists and turns over the last few months. I am a strong believer in fate, and I believe that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Which brings me to where I am today; learning a new metier. Perhaps it isn't so much learning as it is putting into use what I have already learned, but didn't have need for, or so I thought. Timing is everything.

Over the years, I have had the great fortune to be blessed with several mentors; those people who come into your life, take an interest and give you a mind meld like no other. Many of those lessons I hold close, others... meh. (Sometimes the "reason for everything" just doesn't hold water.)

My most recent venture is one that I have been preparing for for most of my life. If you've been one of my faithful three readers, you'll know that I love typography and layout. It is a coming together of words and fonts, the message and media, the serif and sans serif. In 10th grade, my art teacher gave us a sheet of acetate, a font book, a pot of paint, a paint brush and said "match a word to the font; give it style!" My word was Boogie. I used a serif font. It was orange. The well-rounded o's became bodies with jiving stick legs. The capital B and gorgeous, squiggly lowercase g gave it rhythm. I was so in my element.

It wasn't until decades later, after I had been living in Paris for a few years, that I had the opportunity to revisit my letter love affair. At the same time, I learned about computers, desktop publishing and layout... the pieces of the puzzle that make a page come together. That led to a bit of copy writing and editing, which brings me to the present.

I have been entrusted with the role of communications for the folks I am working with. I have the wonderful opportunity to define the position and learn from experienced professionals. Once again, I am in my element.

Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.
~Denis Diderot (1713 - 1784)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I’ve got to admit it’s getting better...

As part of my quest to "Make it Better" this year, I finally tied on the apron, donned the rubber gloves and deep cleaned my kitchen. I learned two things. Dust and grease... nasty combination... but Mr Propre, the new "Eclair" series... I'm in love! The kitchen is gleaming! Kinda like his shiny, bald head!

In my former life (Before Paris) I considered myself to be quite the chef. I loved to cook! Wherever I had a layover, I tried to scope out the local markets and bring back a cool gadget or an exotic spice. I was a cooking show addict before the Food Network existed; I loved watching Julia Child and Graham Kerr. My roommate and I hosted some pretty tasty dinner parties. Then I moved to France.

One thing you need to know about French apartments, the only thing that comes equipped is the sink. My first apartment had a round wall (the other side of the stairwell), a large ceramic sink and an empty light socket hanging from the ceiling. Our 50 boxes of belongings had not yet arrived and all I could think was 17 of those 50 boxes is my kitchen stuff, where am I going to put it?

You very quickly learn how to downsize. I didn't know what to pack, so I packed everything; from a paper towel holder (too big!) to a turkey roasting pan (also too big!). I ended up doing a massive sort and figured out how to angle a medium size roasting pan into my small size oven. I now have a larger oven, but I still don't have a paper towel holder!

Which brings me to the deep-clean process. Three of those 17 kitchen boxes were just cookbooks! While I pulled them down and dusted them off, I reminisced about where each one came from... The Joy of Cooking was given to me by my grandmother, (I also have her personalized copy of The Gourmet Cookbook from 1950.) The New York Times Menu Cookbook was my mom's, my aunt gave me The Way to Cook, I picked up Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cooking Techniques following some classes I did there and Saveurs Américaines is signed by the author, Connie Borde, another American in Paris.

Connie's book is great in that she took American favorites and translated them into French, measurements and ingredients included! Another treasure is The A-Z of French Food, a descriptive bilingual glossary from Scribo Editions.

These days, it is easier to find a recipe or technique on the net, but I still find joy in leafing through the pages, grease spots and all.

It's getting better all the time...