Chocolate meets Peanut Butter or Model meets Photographer

The last time I saw Elizabeth was on her 7th birthday last May.  It was at her birthday party and I tried taking her picture, but she was not cooperative.  She successfully sabotaged any picture taking by implementing evasive actions such as leaving entire slices of pizza dangling from her mouth.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could get away with that as an adult?  Oh wait…you can:

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Back to the story:

Yesterday I finally met up with Elizabeth again as a guest in her home.

I arrived and like any normal seven year old she fled at the sight of me and hid behind the couch.  When she realized how boring it was behind the couch, she came out and stared at me.

And I stared at her.

She stared at me.

I stared at her.

Stared at me…

Stared at her…

Why all the staring?

I stared at her because she has these amazing blue eyes.  They’re huge and blooo.  They would be gorgeous in a picture.

She stared at me because I was simply not wearing enough makeup.  In my defense, I was wearing lipstick, mascara and even a touch of eyeliner but that was small potatoes compared to what I clearly needed.

We’re all pretty sure that Elizabeth was switched at birth because her mother, my friend Jo-Ann, couldn’t be less interested in fashion and makeup, while Elizabeth can’t get enough.

Finally Elizabeth asked me if she could “do my makeup.”

Uh…

You all know how I feel about being touched.  “Doing my makeup” would require lots of physical contact…with my face.  A hug, a handshake is one thing, but pawing all over my face…I dunno.  That’s pretty intimate.

I hemmed and hawed, but at the same time, I really wanted her picture.  Those huge, blooo eyes.

She patiently waited and about 10 seconds later, she asked again if she could do my makeup.  More hemming and hawing.  Those eyes!

And then, after coercing her mother into having her makeup done, she turned to me and asked yet again.

I came to the conclusion that the only way to get a picture of her eyes was to agree to the makeup.  Apparently Elizabeth came to the conclusion that the only way to do the makeup was to agree to the picture.  It was a mutually beneficial conclusion.

I submitted to the makeover and I’m quite positive that I’ve never had rosier cheeks than yesterday afternoon.  I managed to make it through all the physical contact, even the part where the q-tips jabbed into my eyeballs.  Then it was time for the photoshoot.

We set about the house to find a good spot for the picture.  Elizabeth’s mom said, “There aren’t really any good spots for pictures…” but what does she know?  She’s crazy because we found a mostly empty room upstairs with a lovely hardwood floor, a colorful oriental carpet, adorable little window, and walls pretty much the exact same shade of blue as Elizabeth’s eyes.

I couldn’t have created a better photo studio for Elizabeth if I’d tried.

Elizabeth put on a dress while I fiddled with the camera and flash settings.  Honestly, I wasn’t too hopeful about the pictures, but thought I might manage to get one good shot.  Seven year olds get tired of having their pictures taken after about half a minute.

Out she came and stood there slumping at me.  I told her how to stand and got an amazing shot of her looking over her shoulder.  I was pretty pleased with it and assumed we were done.

But no!  Elizabeth went into her room to change into a new outfit and out she came again for another picture.  Oooo!  This time, I had her looking pensively out the window.  After about 4 clicks of the camera, she was done.  I started to put away my camera.

But no!  She changed outfits yet again, and came out for more pictures.  Amazing!  This time we used a stool.

But she was beginning to tire.

And then she got that look on her face that people get when something is dawning on them.  She said, “Are you a photographer?”

I mumbled, “Well, maybe one day…”

She said, “Are you a photographer?”

What the heck.  “Yes.  I’m a photographer.”

And then our photoshoot took off.  Later, Elizabeth’s aunt saw some of the pictures I took and wondered, “How did you get her to stay still?”

Really, people, it wasn’t all that hard. Once a fashion aficionado realizes she’s in front of a real live photographer who will immortalize her outfits forever, it’s like chocolate meeting peanut butter.  Two great tastes that belong together.

We got lots and lots of shots.  She followed all my direction on how to sit, stand, smile, etc.  When we were done, she hefted out her Vogue magazine to show me the pictures in it.  I promised her, “Next time I visit, we’ll look at the magazine first and re-create the poses.”

The two of us can hardly wait.

Here are all the pictures from yesterday:

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Compare the picture above to the picture below.  The eyes are the exact same color in both pictures.  The difference is that in the bottom one, I added a sepia wash to the entire picture except for her eyes.  When you look at her eyes surrounded by sepia tones instead of all that blue, you can see just how blue the eyes are.  _DSC3582-small

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I have a secret room in my house

Hey, guys.  Guess what.  I have a secret room in my house.

!!!!!!

Let me say that again, savoring the words this time:

I have a secret room in my house!

Anyone who has known me for more than 5 seconds knows that the deepest desire of my heart is to have a house chock full of secret rooms and cobwebby secret passageways.  No, strike that.  Make it chock full of well-lit and well-tended secret passageways.

And lo and behold, I found out the other day that I have a secret room!

I just don’t know where it is.

Long story short, I looked up my address online to see how much square footage my house has.  Up popped zillow.com with all sorts of information about my house.

Look at what it said, “This 1618 square foot single family home has 3 bedrooms and 3.0 bathrooms.”

Wait a minute.  What?  I know about the 3 bedrooms, but 3.0 bathrooms?  Really?  I can account for two bathrooms, but where is the third?

I recently watched an old Malcolm in the Middle episode where the parents were cleaning out a closet.  It hadn’t been cleaned since the day they moved in when they stuffed anything in the closet that they didn’t feel like dealing with.

When then parents pulled out a big box, there, sitting in the corner of the closet, was a toilet.  The mother looked at the father and said, “This isn’t a closet!  It’s a bathroom!”  And they stuffed the box back in to conceal it so they could have the extra bathroom to themselves and wouldn’t have to share it with the kids.

And apparently, according to zillow, I have a third bathroom in my house.  If Malcolm in the Middle is correct, it must be covered by all the boxes we never unpacked out in the shed.

Ok, you guys know I’m kidding that I really think there’s a secret bathroom in my home, but for just the tiniest lightning-fast split second when zillow.com said that my house had 3.0 bathrooms, my heart skipped a little beat and I earnestly believed I had a secret room hidden in my house and thought, “The basement!  It’s probably in the basement!”

And then reality came crashing down.

Oh, the bitter agony of disappointment.

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Just so you know, Boy7 becomes Boy8 today.  Happy Birthday, Boy8!

He’s been saving his money since before Christmas for an iPad mini.  He’s hoping for a large cash donation from his grandparents on his birthday to go toward this purchase.  Poor kid is the only one in the family without an iPad and has been feeling the sting of exclusion.  He’s like an orphan outside a bakery in 1910 with his nose squished against the window, shivering, while the Rockefeller children eat their gooey pastries in their fur coats.

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P.S.  I have a cousin once removed who’s in her early 20’s.  Somehow or other, she stumbled across a link to a music video made in the 80’s.  No Laura!  Don’t click on it!  Noooooo!

In her innocence she clicked on it and, unbelievably, watched it till the end.

In an attempt to make it all Just Go Away, she tried to excise the images of David Bowie and Mick Jagger dancing from her brain by sharing the video with everyone on Facebook.  All of us over 35 are well aware that you just don’t go about unearthing music videos made in the 80’s and unleashing them on your unsuspecting friends on Facebook.  It’s just not right, people.  It’s just not right.

And why isn’t it right?  Because the next person to watch the bad 80’s music video is compelled to pass it on to all of her friends.  So, here it is.  Watch at your own risk.

If You Whine on Facebook, You Get Presents.

If you’re on Facebook you have to be careful.  Sure, you want to have fun with it and update your status from time to time but you don’t want to write statuses that people will make fun of.   You wouldn’t want some writer-type person making fun of you on the internet, would you?  That would be terrible!

Every day or two I’ll compose a status about whatever little thought has run through my head.  Then I’ll quickly realize it was stupid and desperately erase it before I post it.  (Backspace, backspace, backspace!) There’s that little burst of adrenaline where, just for a moment, I think I might have actually posted it by accident and irredeemably embarrassed myself in front of everyone.

But every now and then I’ll write an inane comment and go ahead and post it throwing caution to the wind.  For example on March 7th, I posted a link to some screaming goats and wrote:  “No matter how many times I watch this, it stays the same level of funny.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfpL6_0OBuA

March 10: “One minute of cooking spaghetti sauce in the microwave is an eternity. Now the whole interior is covered in sauce. Uuuuurgh!”

Further clarification revealed that the spaghetti sauce was canned and expired and was being used to camouflage a bowl of leftover cabbage and crunchy noodles.   Oh, yuck.  According to the comments I received, my cooking friends are planning an intervention.

March 12:  “Look at this picture of the Killer Banana Dolphin of Electric Death. I must have taken this picture for The Blog. What on earth sort of post was I going to write??? We can only wonder.”

Indeed.

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Today’s Facebook status was pretty dull.  I wrote, “It’s dimly dawning on me that I’m crabby today. Crabby people aren’t much fun.”

You know how it is.  You get annoyed and you’re sure it’s because everyone around you is Just So Annoying.  It can’t possibly be your own fault.  But after slogging through annoying interaction after annoying interaction, you start to realize that the one constant in the equation is You.  And that’s when you become dimly aware that You are the problem.

Hence the Facebook post.

And while it was an inane post, it paid off.

See, I have a friend who is gracious and generous named Carol.  For example, when Carol found out that our mutual friend had poison ivy in her yard, she said, “I’m not allergic to poison ivy.  I’ll come to your house and pull it out for you.”

And she did!

She didn’t say what I would have said, “Git yerself a weed eater and wear some thick gloves.”  Yes, I sound like a hick when I give out gardening advice.

But not Carol!  No, she actually went to our mutual friend’s house and pulled out the poison ivy all by herself.

So, when Carol read that I was crabby, she sent me a Facebook message, “I have something for you.  I’ll be by in a few minutes.”

And then LOOK at what she brought to me!

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A Tardis and Dalek salt and pepper shaker set! It’s a Doctor Who thing, for those of you who don’t know.  Yes, we Doctor Who fans are a bit rabid. I just about passed out from joy when I saw it.

The big question is, how did Carol ever manage to pull that out of her hat mere minutes after reading my crabby post?  I mean, who has extra Tardis and Dalek salt and pepper shakers hanging around their house? And futhermore, who would be willing to part with them if they did have them?!

It turns out they were belated birthday presents.  She was at my Laser Tag 40th Birthday Party but didn’t have the gifts then.  But after reading my crabby post, she remembered the gifts and thought, “I’ll take them to Jackie’s house today to cheer her up.”

Darling Husband was home when she stopped by to give us our gift.  I barely had time to register what the gift even was before he came swooping into the room, yanked it out of my hands, and was hunched over it in the corner, snarling.

So, THANK YOU, Carol!  We loooove the salt and pepper shakers.  Darling Husband has to fall asleep eventually, and then I’ll have my chance to play with my present.

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Those goats are still hilarious all these days later.  Here are part 2 and 3.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN-EDOyJJTA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=serSEpJu14Y

Monsters in the Woods and Men at Work

Today was horrible!  Just horrible!

So, there I was minding my own business, taking a brisk walk deep in the woods, when what do I see lumbering past me in the gloomy mist, snarling?

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Bigfoot!  Yikes!

Just when I saw him, he saw me.  Good thing I’ve been practicing flash photography because I managed to blind him with my camera flash and run away while he howled and scratched at his eyes.

Reeling from the horror and hoping that I’d shaken Bigfoot, I stumbled through the woods until I came across this man.  Ah!  Civilization!

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But when I got closer, I saw that the man was hacking up a little baby bear with a chainsaw.  A little baby bear, people!  With a chainsaw!  What is the world coming to?

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It’s a dark day when a person can’t stroll through the woods without having to flee from 7 foot tall Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) and chainsaw-wielding baby bear slayers.

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Ok, not really.

What actually happened was that I was on the road near the majestic ski slopes of Pennsylvania…what?  You didn’t know that Pennsylvania has majestic ski slopes?  Well, it does.

And there I was near the majestic ski slopes of PA, when the Bigfoot carving caught my eye.  I wasn’t going to stop  until I noticed that the artist was on site actively creating a new work of art.  That warrants a screech to a halt for a photoshoot.

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See the artist in the distance to the left of Bigfoot?

When you live in the middle of the cornfields (and ski slopes) of Pennsylvania there aren’t many opportunities to come across an artist actively creating his art.  Especially not a chainsaw artist.

What was great about Jason (the artist) is that after I got his permission to take pictures, he went about his business working.  I love it that I got candid shots of him doing his work.

I’ve long been considering whether I should start up a series of photographs of people working.   I was initially inspired by this picture that Scott took of our friend Jeff in his office at work:

Scott's picture of Jeff

This isn’t my picture. It’s Scott’s.

Isn’t that a lovely picture?  See all those books behind him?  Jeff is a Jedi Master.  Or was it a Master Carpenter?  No…Master Chef?  Mastermind?  Master of the Universe?  Task master?  The Master (for you Doctor Who fans)?

No to all of them.  He’s just a Master, plain and simple.

Huh?  What’s that?

Basically a Master is a judge lite.  (Oh, I hope he doesn’t read that.)  The way I understand it is that he has the responsibilities and powers of a judge, but with a few limitations.  He hears cases with lawyers and juries and all that, just like a judge, but some cases have to be referred to a judge.

Now that you know all that…isn’t that a lovely picture?  See the way he’s looking down at the camera, much the same way he would look down on the defendant.  Whatever lame excuse the defendant has brought up, you can tell that Master Jeff is Not Impressed.

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If you want to see more of Jason the chainsaw artist’s work, here’s his website:  chain-effect.com.