"Those who have experienced Paris have advantage over those who have not. We are the ones who have glimpsed a little bit of heaven, down here on earth." - Deirdre Kelly

Friday, January 11, 2019

nouvel an...

"For auld lang syne, my dear..." 
- Robert Burns, 1788

!Bonne Année mes amis!
Wishing you a happy, successful, love-filled 2019 - from my family to yours

2019 is an exciting and important one for my family: ma mere divine (Dorothy) celebrates her 90th birthday (wow!), Mr. Gorgeous and I celebrate our 50th birthdays (gulp), Rory (our eldest) celebrates his 18th birthday, Sage (our BabyGurl) celebrates her Sweet 16th, Never (our youngest) we celebrate every day cause, duh, he's just that fantabulous. And my darling Coco celebrates her lucky 13th birthday, while continuing to watch over us all ;-}

"We'll drink a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne..." 
- Robert Burns, 1788

It's been a few months since I last posted - missed you. It's been too long since I've been able to return to my love - Paris. It's killing me (I long to return to my city)  but family comes first, and I'm living my best life. While this blog is obstensively about all things Paris, I've never wanted to post about Paris without having actually been, or share photos I didn't take. Thus, as I'm sure you've noticed, my blog has by necessity evolved: from chronicling my adventures in Paris, to chronicling my Paris-inspired adventures in my tiny slice of the world. I eagerly look forward to when I can post from Paris again; but in the meantime, I've used some of my time away to think about, plot, scheme and  sketch out an outline for this year's upcoming posts...
"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the new year."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

1. Amour Rouge I'm hard at work on my annual 'last minute' Valentine's Day List. I'm digging deep into my sources but still have not yet come up with this year's theme. As usual, I think inspiration will hit at the last minute - then again, that's the whole point ;-}

2. I've been hired to photograph my first wedding (at the end of March)! Bien sur, I'm a nervous hot mess but I'm also excited to spread my wings. Yeah, you know this is going to be a Postcard to Paris.

3. Speaking of Postcards to Paris, I've nearly finished my next Postcard. Hint: Macrons... 

4. For the Love of Travel: While I'm not yet able to return to Paris, I have been traveling - short hops around the midwest, a wedding in Mexico, frequent adventures in my home town (Chicago). And I have a few of my latest favorite travel 'essentials' I'm going to share.

5. My first and favorite photography 'classroom' is shooting sports. I love the color, movement,  expression and excitement. The cherry on top is that my subjects are my children and their teams. This also neatly coincides with my love of travel. 

6. Paris Playlist. I just realized it's been nearly a year since I last updated my Paris Playlist. Well enough of that! 

So cheers! To adventure, challenge. A new year, new beginnings.

"I close my eyes to old ends. 
And open my heart to new beginnings." 
- Mandy Hale

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

style possessed...

"...but style you possess." Iris Apfel

My second year of shooting my two eldest for Homecoming, was challenging. During the night before, on the street where we live, the flora morphed from summer green(s) to brilliant fall: a cacophony of emerald, amber and fire. The day was extremely overcast, chilly and wet. But even that added to our set's beauty: the week's constant rain turned the color of the asphalt from blah to moody; the wet tree trunks and branches were rendered a deep black - all of it adding the perfect contrast, breadth and depth. Our street looked like an oil painting - vivid. deep, heavy and clear. The low level(s) of natural light were especially daunting, I knew I'd literally have to shoot around shadow. Still, to my artist's eye, it was the perfect backdrop and runway. Of course we had to shoot outside. Rory, Sage and their gorgeous dates did the rest, and it was magic... 

"[Fashion] is in the street...the way we live, what is happening." - Coco Chanel

Rory and Sage's street fashion-sense is a delightful mix of vintage, army surplus, sportswear, cheap clothing chains and mid-priced indie-labels (my apples don't fall far ;-} The 21st century twist? They have access to haute couture at street fashion prices (thank you Jane Pabon). For Homecoming, Rory and Sage went full french girl's wardrobe. They knew exactly how they wanted to look: a more intense version of their every day: Rory channeled his suave 007; Sage rocked Tina to the nth degree (those mile long legs!). 

"They got the beat. Kids got the beat. Yeah, they've got it!" - the Go Go's (1982)
Here I think they look like an 80s rock band album cover. While I was shooting, that Go Go's song kept playing in my head ;-}

Doesn't this look like and editorial shoot for Vogue? Or a promo shot for Empire? 

The Fashion Breakdown: 

Rory: Black silk button down: BLC; Bow-Tie: Calvin Klein; Cropped Pants: Zara; Shoes: Calvin Klein. 
Tamia did Dorothy Dandridge proud!: Starlight glitter dress (Windsor), matching stilettos (Aldo).

Sage: Tuxedo Jacket w/ leather trim: Bailey 44; Sequins and Mesh Dress: French Connection; Stiletto Booties: Steve Madden. 
Eliza went full Marlene Dietrich: crushed velvet blazer, dress shirt, trousers (Old Navy), classic Oxfords (UNR8ED). 

"[Style], It's a matter of being yourself on purpose." G. Bruce Boyer

I love that Rory, Sage and their core group of friends are so sure in who they are and how they choose to express themselves. Style is a matter of being yourself on purpose. I didn't fully get that until I reached my fabulous 40s. These 'kids,' with their smarts, talent, savvy and confidence: World. Oyster. Theirs. And I'm gonna shoot their journey, frame by frame.

Vivre, Rire, Aimer,


Sunday, August 05, 2018

rain, wind, wood, sand...

"...And walking on the beach all alone, I heard the waves breaking in measured thunder." - Sara Teasdale

Usually, during our annual sojourn to Shangri-La, it's hot and sunny; almost never rains. However, on this trip, each day was marked by gloriously moody weather. On any given day, often in the span of a few hours, the weather morphed from summer-sun drenched-perfect to inclement, overcast, rain and wind - then back again; and always accompanied by an especially cold and choppy lake.

"Sunny day. Sweeping the clouds away...to where the air is sweet!" - Joe Raposo (1969)

Mr. G, the kids and I reveled in the sunny parts of our days. But, understandably, the inclement weather drove the kids inside (where we spent great family time over Uno and Monopoly). Better yet, it drove most of the residents in our tiny beach community inside too; leaving the beach beautifully empty and most tempting to those willing to venture. Everything: the light (indoors and out), air pressure, wind, and general vibe, felt different - moodily magical. You know me, I grabbed my camera... 
"And it make me feel moody...Can make you feel high, feel low. Feeling, feel like, like this." 
- ESG (Emerald, Sapphire, Gold - 1983) 

"The three great elemental sounds in nature are 
the sound of the rain, the sound of the wind in a primeval wood, 
and the sound of...a beach" - Henry Beston

Our last day was especially inclement, requiring me to wear clothes, for the first time in my 30+ years of wandering this particular stretch of beach. We walked through a vibrant quiet green wood, down the steps to our beach, to find the overnight thunderstorm had swept the beach clean, leaving behind firm powder soft sand. Mr. G, Coco and I walked 5 miles and didn't encounter another soul. Waves crashed so strong and loud, it felt like an ocean's caress. The constant breeze was so sweet and the water was so warm! As always, my too short time in Shangri-La, in the simplest most elemental ways,  rested and restored my body and soul to return to the material world. Rain, wind, wood, sand.

Vivre, Rire, Aimer!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

postcard to paris #7: paradise

"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library." - Jorge Luis Borges

A few weeks ago, on a gorgeous summer day, Coco and I got in my convertible and did something I haven't done since we were last in Paris, went in search of an undiscovered brick and mortar bookstore. I had a few errands to run in the area and was looking for a Coco-friendly place to have lunch.  So I consulted my trusty BringFido.com app. and the Town House Bookstore & Cafe was at the top of the list. It was perfect, especially since one of my errands was to pick up a book my daughter has to read for her English class in the fall: The Curious Incident of the Dog in Nighttime. Serendipity.

"Feels right. So fine...like paradise." - Sade (1988)

We drove down a treelined Indian trail, then along the sun-dappled Fox River until we reached the picturesque and charming Saint Charles. Our final destination was a few blocks past Main Street, one block from the river.

The Town House Book Store & Cafe is in an actual house - actually, I think, it's a connected set of two or three town houses. Each room leads to the next. And they all house a maze of floor to ceiling bookshelves. There are two or three tiny nooks - reading corners - with a cushioned chair nestled against a huge picture window. And everywhere - high, low and in-between are books and more books.

"A bookstore is somewhat of a sacred place to people, especially readers." Donna Paz Kaufman

"Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go everywhere." Mae West

I had almost forgotten: the thrill of stepping into a room filled, floor to ceiling, with books. Intriguing titles on their spines, colorful covers, tantalizing blurbs on the back. Wandering up and down the aisles, briefly stopping to grab an interesting title, then moving on - only to grab another. Taking  my treasure pile to a sunny spot, sitting on the floor,  with my pile of books beside me. Thumbing through crisp paper pages. Discovering new places and adventures. If you do it right, your middle finger gets smudged ;-}  

"A brick & mortar bookstore is a comfortable hangout away from home, a welcoming spot where people can go grab a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. A meeting ground where one can read or talk with others about what's happening in the world." 
- Donna Paz Kaufman, my paraphrasing.

The bookstore is bisected by an entryway/hallway that has a tiny greeting station at the front, a four stool wine bar behind it. On one side is room after room of books. On the other is a sweet little cafe. A wraparound porch leads to a small cobblestoned courtyard, with table and chairs set beneath a copse of trees. The menu is simple: handcrafted salads, cold and warm sandwiches, quiche, cold and hot teas. There's a small but comprehensive wine and beer list, Sangria and Mimosas. I had a most delicious Apricot Chicken Salad; Coco had a plate of Turkey (roasted on site). Coco curled at my feet, softly snoring while I sipped, nibbled and...read. Paradise. 

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

For the last two decades, corporate brick & mortar bookstores have steadily strangled mom & pop/independent brick & mortar bookstores - E-books and online book retailers were as complicit. And I freely admit that ease of purchasing bestsellers, the ready availability of cheap E-books, and the thrilling pace of motherhood rendered me a willing accomplice. Because of these factors, I was able to overlook (read: ignore) that 'Big Box' bookstores and online retailers are, by nature and design,  transactional and impersonal, rather than intimate and unique. But there has always been a small, mighty contingent of diligent independent booksellers who have steadfastly catered to the  intimate and unique experience that all bookworms refuse to live without, even if they've forgotten. As I strolled through Town House Books' rooms; meandered up and down its aisles; sat for an hour, reading (with Coco curled up on my lap), I was a young girl again: discovering new worlds and knowledge, having small conversations with fellow bookworms; nibbling and sipping while getting lost in a new adventure - in a garden. And it was so good. I'm not giving up E-Books - there's everything heavenly wonderful about being able to carry and have access to hundreds of books  (everywhere!). But I will begin to regularly visit brick & mortar bookstores, and bring Mr. G, our kids. And I can't wait to visit again, with Coco, and read, read, read...  

Temple Tip: get (pro)active at your local independent bookstore. 
In addition to books and more books, your neibhorhood brick & mortar bookstore is the perfect place to meet all sorts of people, get involved with your community, and move beyond your boundaries - all while supporting a small business. It's the perfect place to take your children (curl up in the kids' book section; start a monthly children's reading corner; volunteer to read, reach out to authors to come and read). If your local bookseller has a cafe, start a book club with a group of girlfriends that exclusively meets there (talk to the owner/manager; I'm sure they'll arrange a special table for you to monthly gather around). Start a meet and greet reader/doggie night. 
The possibilities are endless!

~ "A reader lives a thousand lives...The man who never reads lives only one." - George R. R. Martin ~

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!

Monday, July 09, 2018

beautiful dreamer...

"Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me..." Stephan C. Foster (1864)

We got word that there was a rally, to protest our U.S. government forcibly separating children from families that illegally cross our Mexican border, and those legally seeking asylum. Of course Mr. G and I went to protest this atrocity, happening in our country. An immoral policy enacted in our name. While the largest rally took place in Chicago, we purposefully attended a rally closest to our little piece of the world. We went to add our voice to a simple but passionate national chorus: "This is evil. Not in our name. Where are the children?" As per usual, I had my camera(s) with me. And while my focus and intent were on participating in the rally, and listening to the poignant featured speakers, the moment and movement were so powerful...

"Sounds of the rude world. Heard in the day..." - Beautiful Dreamer

The rally fittingly took place in the Veteran's Memorial Pavilion, Fishel Park (in the heart of Downers Grove, IL); adjacent to a large play ground. The playground was filled with playing, laughing children - even more fitting for this day. By my rough estimate, 1,000 people were in attendance. To be sure a small number, amidst the hundreds of thousands who rallied across the United States. But, to my mind, that made the featured speakers' testimonies all the more personal and salient.

Grace Arimura (right) testified about her experiences of being imprisoned, along with 10 members 
of her Japanese American family in an American Detention Center during World War II. She was 16 years old.

Prevail Bonga (left) read aloud a few of the stories of the 3,000+ forcibly separated immigrant children detainees
before sharing her Congolese family's challenging journey to American citizenship.


"Whoa, ah, mercy mercy me...Where did all the blue skies go?" - Marvin Gaye (1971)

By now you know, the entire world knows, what's going on...
My United States of America government has forcibly separated immigrant children from their parents (families that illegally crossed our border and families who have come seeking asylum), split siblings apart, put them in detention center cages - before shipping them away from their parents, to points all over America (in the dead of night, in secrecy). Furthermore, my U.S. government has put babies and toddlers in 'Tender Age Detention Centers (detention facilities for children 5 years old and under). National outrage forced the administration to seemingly suspend this despicable policy. Now the this administration is trying to enact policy that allows them to detain children and babies with their families indefinitely (in military based detention tent camps).  

"Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east."

But this American horror story doesn't end there. The nearly 3 thousand forcibly separated and detained children, toddlers, and babies have not been reunited with each other, or their parents, and it's become painfully clear that: not only does this administration not have a plan to reunite the families we forcibly separated; they never intended to. They don't know where these children are or even who they are - resorting to DNA testing to try to match children with parents. But we know very little else because this administration is denying entry to these detention centers, refuse to answer even the simplest of questions. And their story changes, sometimes by the hour.

For nearly two years, our American president has been railing against, scapegoating, demonizing, otherizing, people of color (in voice, action, and policy). That the 35% of Americans, who support trump; love and feed off his racist rhetoric, is no surprise. Nor is it surprising that the Republican party protects and enables his venality in the name of political power. But I really, truly thought that forcibly separating children, toddlers and babies from their parents would be a bridge too far, even for trump's most ardent supporters. Sadly, judging by the vocal and ardent political, pundit and social media commentary in support of this heinous policy, this segment of the American populace is perfectly fine with abusing children in the name of 'strong, defended borders.'  This president's appeal to the darkest, ugliest nature of humanity has successfully and deeply taken root. But, last Saturday, a group of women in Downers Grove,IL, along with millions of other Americans, organized and came together, in every state in our nation to say: "This immoral, evil act is Not America(n). We will not tolerate this inhumane inhumanity, not in our name..." As this atrocity unfolded and continues I've doggedly held onto my belief that we are better than this. On this day we, the people, confirmed it. 

"You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one." - John Lennon

But this battle, that has been forced upon every decent American, has only just begun. Where are the children? We took them, we're responsible for them. Thus we must not, we cannot, stop protesting, contacting our representatives, voting our values, until each and every child is reunited with their families. We will win the day. The alternative is too horrific and unacceptable. So we fight on. Dreamers are we all...

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!

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