Sunday, January 30, 2011


Been a while since This blog space called to me. I am having so much fun with the camera and over at Flickr. 365 keeps me shooting daily and this is a good thing. I turned it around on myself last night before he headed out with friends and realized how uncomfortable I can feel in front of the lens. Also, I need to break out the Manfrotto and get a remote shutter click for SP in the future.
Out going

Last night we were with our friends, a celebration of my best friend's birthday. I kept the camera at hand the whole night, shooting and laughing and playing with these people that I love. And it made me recall how very much fun it is to do the party camera capture.

People are so happy when they gather and it serves for some great moments. I think that is the pull for so many behind the lens, that opportunity to capture the spark and joy that happens. And I love to be reminded the next day as I scan and click and adjust the happiness just a little this way, a little that.

Here is to falling in love with taking pictures yet again. A lot more than just shooting going on behind the scenes around here but for now I will leave you with one more. This is one I like to call Blue Steel....

Blue Steel

Oh, how I love Zoolander.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Week of B&W

It has been quite a week. I decided that I should switch my camera settings to B&W on Sunday and shoot a week of it for my 365. Talk about revelations.

B&W week

Just for a little bit of context, Tim has been to school for photography. Back in the day when people still (gasp) shot film. His camera bag of old holds a medium format Pentax and a spot meter. The camera is all manual and that is what his eye is trained to see. Me? Always been one to sponge knowledge where I can, so I went out and about with him and queried about the Zone System to no end.

Then enter twins, no time or reaction time and enter DSLR. Which he railed against until streaking toddlers and a Canon f1.4 lens. And then we fell in love with digital and have not shot film in ages.

Tim's Shots
These ones are Tim's photos, btw.

He stills rocks the shot because he knows what he is doing. Not lazy like I am, not content to shoot Aperture priority and trust the bo-keh will make it look good. Nope. He shoots true. Even in digital. Especially in B&W because he understands Zone and knows his eye. And me? I still don't know what I am doing, not really.

I was looking over my 365 and noticed that the photos so far were really, er, saturated. I try not to 'fix' stuff too much in processing so I guess all that hot color is what my photographic eye sees. I thought it might be a good challenge to shoot 365 in B&W for a week. And boy, was it a challenge.

Do you know the Zone? Ansel Adams developed it as a way to help identify proper photographic exposure. Sounds dry but then you look at his photos and realize his genius. It is designed mostly for B&W but is applicable along all spectrums, all eyes. And it has made me think so much this week, about what I see, what my camera lens sees, what you see.

This week with my camera brought me to is a new place. A thinking place. Not thinking to get the best shot, because believe me, that was not happening. But a thinking place with my eye, my finger on the button, my composition and my camera.

B&W week II

Taking a picture a day has not been hard (she says 22 days in, haha). But taking a good picture a day. Aye, there's the rub. I'm keeping on because I love what 365 is doing for my drive to shoot photos but switching back to color for now.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Write It Out

It is always wonderful and a bit strange to arrive at a new point with the boys, a place I had hoped we would be someday. That happened this weekend with the start of what I hope will become a weekly tradition and practice, that of Journaling.
365 :: 16

I recall reading a post over a year ago, cannot remember where. It was about the joy of journaling with small children. At the time the boys were so young, able to scribble and scrabble and have fun with pen and ink, but also very into using lots and lots of pages. We have always tried to incorporate drawing/writing/coloring etc, but never in a truly focused way.

Then I read a post over at Chookooloonks about starting a journal for the new year. A real written journal with pages and stuff. That needs a hand and pen and stuff. And it sounded good. (The link came from my new muse, Erica, who is rocking my 365 world and making it a pleasure to play on Flickr more)(She blogs here with her cool sister-who-is-also a-mama-of-beautiful-twin-girls Jill).

I headed out to Target with gift cards in hand (I've been very good at work apparently) and perused the notebook section until I spotted one that called to me. Something about faux leather and graph paper that I cannot resist.
Duly Noted

Anyway, I thought I would pick up two extra for the boys to attempt a weekly journal practice with them. They are really into storytelling and letters and writing, their new school setting is so wonderful about prompting this without forcing and we are watching them reap the benefits.
365 ::16alternate

We sat down Sunday at the table with the notebooks turned to the first page and the date marked on the top.
Blank slate
Their journals are really just spiral bound pages that lay flat and are made from banana which is pretty cool. I thought I would prep the area a bit and had some magazine pages featuring winter in Nova Scotia (brrr) and pencils, pens and a few Sharpies (man, those kids love Sharpies).
And I let them go to town.

It was an interesting experience.

Deep Thoughts
Journal Day
I was pleasantly surprised that they understood and agreed to use just one page and it was fascinating to watch their 'process'. First it was oral with scribbles, then they got into the pictures, cutting and pasting and telling me all about what was happening. I journaled with them in my little book and we finished with a few notes by me on their pages and their names traced.

I loved that they also gave me the books without any freak outs and helped me put them away until next week with the instructions that I take care of their journal. We sat at the table for about 30 minutes altogether and ended up finding a new place/space to share with each other. This is one of the things that I love about their growing. Always finding new places and spaces together.
The results

If you have little people I would encourage you to do this with them. Seeing how proud they were of their creations and knowing I will look back over them someday down the line have made me commit to following through. If you do play along, let me know.

2011 is shaping up to be a year of projects and doing and making and I am getting more and more excited about it. So, come join in the with us. Even if you do not have littles you can journal, just read that link to get excited and inspired. Happy hand writing, friends

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Loving Antalya

I'm in a bit of a love affair right now.
365 11alternate.

With my knitting. Yeah. Always try to keep it racy around here, right? But this friend of mine, one that had taken back seat for some time, has now come to the forefront and I am loving it though my wrists and fingertips are not.

It started with this hat designed by MJ.

I rarely peruse Ravelry right now, just not enough time. The lack of exposure to beautiful knits definitely cools the inclination to knit. But Julia linked up to the hat in a group email and I instantly fell in love. Interesting construction, cables, short rows. What is not to love? And then I felt up the test knit at our holiday meet up and I knew I had to commit. And I am so glad I did.

I am not done ... and I know people rarely actually blog about knitting anymore, especially without a FO to show, but man, I am loving this knit.
I am also finding myself highly in love with the recommended yarn, Valley Yarns Amherst. Warm 100% wooliness. The combination is irresistible and is helping my knitting mojo in spades.

The other thing spurring it is the fact that we might actually someday live in a climate that encourages the wearing of 100% wool handknit sweaters (for you non-knitters out there ...when you combine wool and hand knitting they tend to produce a very very warm garment). I have been discouraged in the past by knitting something that I wear only once or twice a year due to the lack of seasons in Southern California. Last weekend up in Northern California in the foothills hovering just below the snow line, all I could think about was thick knitted cabled cardigans, and cowls, and hats and scarves and mittens (oh my!). Highs in the 40s and lows in the teens make for knitted clothing options indeed.

And so in a possibly unwise, but I cannot help myself decision, I have recommitted to knitting this amazing, cable dense, hand wrecking love of a cardigan, the Saddle shoulder Aran cardigan designed by EZ/Meg Swanson and re-intepreted by Jared of Brooklyntweed glory. The ribbon, the horse shoe, the saddle shoulder. All so lovely, and possibly worn by myself in the future quasi farm setting perfectly complemented by my Hunter wellies. Ah the dreams we dream.

But to be honest, I have always wanted to knit that cardi and the hat I am working through is a reminder of the powerful beauty that is produced by the simple act of string on stick, loop and pull through. Those of you who do knit know the joy of watching a piece unfold and twist and turn in a language that is literally dictated by two bits, not 0 and 1, but knit and purl.

Those of you that do not knit, how I wish you could. If only to watch with fascinated eyes as your hands make this out of the hieroglyphs that is a knitting pattern chart.
365 :: 11

Oooh, it feels good to have some knitting mojo back. And if I do work my way through the saddle shoulder cardigan and find that my mojo holds, how about this for a beauty of a piece. Alice Starmore has re-released her book Aran Knitting with a new pattern combining the joy of cables with the option of shaping to avoid that boxy sweater look that makes curvy girls look like sacks o'potatoes. Is it weird that I am dreaming of the knitting of Eala Bahn already? Probably.

Monday, January 10, 2011


That last post was somewhat prompted by the odd heady space Tim and I have been in since the New Year came. I think I have mentioned in a not so specific way that we are thinking of moving. It felt not so specific until this past weekend. Now it feels like a much more real and present prospect, an idea that can become reality.
Stone steps

It is not an imminent move, we are not packing any bags quite yet. There are a lot of logistics to sort out but first we had to make sure. So we spent a weekend exploring the curves and secrets and contours of a place that we would like to call home someday. We visited the library because the library can speak volumes for a town. I found the mother lode of buttons at the local antique shop (a good omen, I believe). We saw land and farms and found ourselves climbing steep mountain roads that made me ill.
Tree house
It is still California but North, far from the dry Southland we now call home. And yet, there is a continuity to California, something that fits like a good coat.
We want some breathing room, some not so suburban living, access to the things that we love so dearly and try to appreciate daily.
Gardens and gardens and gardens
We want to be closer to a family that is performing a mass exodus north with no designs on returning to the L.A. basin. I want chickens and maybe a goat, a pond would be nice. And I want a place to wear these. I want my boys to be able to roam a little freer in an area that still rolls without the interruption of tract home after tract home coating the once oak filled hills.

So, we took the first tentative step into a new world of unknowns. The next steps are much more concrete and involve finishing home projects and deck building and front door refurbishing with the aim to invite someone else into my childhood home and ask them to live here (for a fee, of course). It feels good/odd/scary/different but it does not feel bad and it does not feel sad. And I think that is what matters most.

The up side? If we do fix up this place and decide not to sell, I anticipate we will have one hell of a nice place to live.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Wings (Clipped?)

Our passports expired December 31, 2010. We had initially planned to renew them but the steep price of 110$ each made it impossible this year. Letting them expire felt like a closure of some other part of our lives together. Locked in the U.S. we are until we can come up with the sum of 320$ to let us out again (once they expire you have to apply anew which costs 160$ now).

I remember when we received them in the mail, it was the fall of 1999. we were planning our first trip out of the country, to africa, of all places. South Africa to be exact. We quit our jobs, we tried to pack as light as possible and we left home, hoping to stay away for at least three months, maybe more. We left on a plane to Holland right about this time in January, arriving in Amsterdam, impressed with the airport Schipol, venturing out via public transport, welcomed by my father’s Dutch-Indo family that call Holland home. It was bitter cold winter and we wandered the city for over a week, taking in all the amazing architecture and spirit that is the city of Amsterdam.
canal walk
We loved it, I still remember the feeling of walking through the van gogh museum, seeing painting after painting gathered in one centralized spot. It was almost shattering.

We also had an interesting encounter with the Dutch ‘emergency’ room due to a terrible mix of Larium, strong Belgian beer and some pot. Never ever to be repeated again. And then we were on a place headed to Jo-burg, into summer and far far away from anything called home. South Africa was beautiful and shocking and disorienting and enchanting and all the things that places far far away from home can be.


But oddly enough, parts of it felt just like home, some parts are in the same climate zone as Southern California and we would hike and feel suddenly relocated to home. Until baboons starting hooting from the cliffs above. There were rafting trips and hostels, monkey encounters and almost getting swept out to sea in pilfered canoes.

south africa

There was the endless round of travelers from other countries asking us why the hell we elected Bush, there were the vestiges of apartheid and black women who would do our laundry for a few rand if we wanted. Plates and plates of fresh calamari that we could have for a dollar or so American. Small towns and cities and slums, and only instant coffee. It was a most eye-opening way to leave the States for the first time.


2000 was a year of travel for us, we were in Ireland for a month, Hawaii for a month, Arizona, Utah, Oregon. We did not work, we just wandered. I was 25, Tim 23 … no plans yet, unmarried, no home, free in so many ways. We had disposable income that year because of a settlement I received from an accident long ago. I do not regret a penny that we spent in travel that year. I do regret the chunk of money I invested in stocks trying to do the grown up thing. Funny how sometimes doing what is responsible is not nearly as productive as doing what feels right.

I am pretty sure we will never go to Africa for three months again to do the hostel route and party like rock stars. But that is okay. Since that trip we did another to Australia which ended after three months of car living; spines in their late 20s and a country far far more expensive than South Africa sent us home. And another with the boys to Canada. But the latest journey involves the parenting of two young boys who fill up our lives and days in ways that I could never have dreamed of back in those days

And now the latest dream. It includes a move, a place to call a new home, some animals, some land, and access to all the things we have always loved. Mountains, oak trees, snow, water … we are tentatively stretching out to touch this dream, try to shape it and make sense out of change. But for some reason it already feels like it fits.

Our hearts hold instincts, I truly believe this. They lead us, these instincts, to seek the right path. The right journey. Not destination. There should never be a certain point destination. Cause we all have just one, really.

Onward to this new facet to the latest travel. We may not need a passport but I am hoping we find a pass to the next road.

Thought I would note that all pictures were taken on our very first digital camera, a Sony shaped like a SLR. Digital was still pretty new in 1999 and I remember the camera cost 700 bucks or so. Upon reflection, I now realize they had programmed a lot of flexibility into that little camera. It served us well.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Rip and Resow

Unlike many others out there, I do not mind the yearly making of resolutions. I always do better with a list and really, resolutions are just another one of those to me. I tend to make the list for the New Year, casual but with good intentions and then try not to sweat it too much when they do not all happen. Better to make the list and cross of a few then plod along without any change to greet this new happenstance, 2011.

A few days before the New Year we gathered in the 'garden' and surveyed the somewhat sorry state of affairs.
Rip and Regrow

There were scads of basil bush gone to seed, old tomato vines curled upon themselves and peppers looking more than worse for the wear. There were also strawberry runners promising new fruit and some self seeded onions. It felt good to pull out old roots, scatter some basil seed liberally and take stock of what could be. Then the rain came in again, drenching it all. Plans for this year started to form and visions of an actual 'good' tomato harvest came to mind.

Home for Now

Then the weekend came and went as did the New Year, no lists written, the planned for vision board as suggested by Karen sinking to the bottom of the list that included storing Christmas stuff and digging out from under the laundry. But the list, those resolutions are there, simmering under the surface and waiting for a few moments with pen and ink and clear head that has more than 4 hours sleep in it.

The idea of doing Mondo Beyondo again came to mind a few weeks ago, but I did not pounce. I loved it so but feel as if I am still processing it even a full year later. But then I did find something I want to join, something that has intimidated me from the get-go. Project 365. Not of me, not my face, but of our lives, our daily life in and out and about. This fine lady and her video convinced me it was time. And so it has begun, Day 3 now.

I look forward to see the mundane and the special, the vertical change that may (or may not happen) with the boys, the subtle shift in facial expression and line that 365 days can bring. This may be a year of upheaval and opportunity, change and growth. Or it may just be 2011.

We will just have to see, right?

P.S. They are almost ripe. The New Year looks good so far, my friends, doesn't it?
Almost There