I met Margaret several years ago, and having not seen her for several more, I must say that she is just a beautiful and jubilant then, as she is now. Our original plan was to drive down to Hudson where she has some personal ties to shoot these photos, but at the last minute we decided to stay locally in her own hometown of Saratoga Springs. Even now that Spring has finally arrived, the day was still a little on the cool side, and so we took breaks warming up in the car and catching up.
Having always been a singer songwriter, Margaret recently wrote and recorded a handful of country songs that reminded me of the fun and quirky Lisa Loeb – if Lisa Loeb sang country. The songs are fun and upbeat and you can listen to them on her website here.
We drove around Saratoga until we arrived at the Hall of Springs where as luck would have it, there was no weddings taking place, just a handful of people out walking their dogs and enjoying the brisk yet sunny day.
Below are my favorite’s from that day.
You have all you need
Have you ever thought to yourself: ‘My life will be perfect once I have (fill in the blank)’? Now I want you to think back to when you obtained that fill in the blank, it doesn’t matter whether you obtained it through blood, sweat and tears, maxing out your credit card, or just pure luck. Was it everything you hoped it would be? More importantly, did you quit wanting for anything else afterward? I’m guessing the answer to the later question is: no.
You didn’t stop wanting or wishing for the next, great, big, amazing thing.
A nicer car, bigger house, more shoes, new designer handbag, latest iphone, ya know the one with the hologram keyboard.
Somehow there’s always something a little bit nicer, a little shiner just out of your reach.
I’ve been thinking about those unobtainable things lately and I’ve realized that they will always be there, always.
That’s just their nature.
I make a point to always try and practice gratitude. I try to sneak it in when I’m running errands, waiting in line at the grocery store, or in the few moments at night right before I fall asleep. Sometimes I find it hard, really hard, like running uphill at night while the snowflakes hit my face and my hands are so cold they burn.
I’ve realized that practicing gratitude is hard because wanting is so easy. It’s harder to be grateful for what you already have, because, well you already have it. No matter how long and hard we work towards something, if you’re anything like me, the amount of effort is immediately forgotten once it’s obtained.
That freezing midnight run? Completely forgotten once I’m back inside and can feel my fingers again.
Lately I’ve been practicing repeating one sentence in my mind whenever I feel that ‘want’ sneak up on me:
“You have all you need.”
There’s something very comforting about that sentence. It calms and satiates me. I can’t figure out why except for one reason: it’s true.
And when I count my blessings, I realize that they aren’t just blessings. I’ve worked hard for them. At one point they were just shiny, new, sometimes expensive or impossible things just out of my reach. This theory applies not only to material items, but non-material items as well.
My handsome boyfriend was once just a cute stranger wearing a hoodie and tattoos. At the time I couldn’t imagine what our relationship would be like, or that it would span five years and counting. My camera and its accessories were once a few thousand dollars more than I had at the time. Now they’re bought and paid for and insured against fire, water and even the occasional meteor blast.
So I challenge you to practice gratitude. Try to fit it in everyday. Practice it while washing the dishes, eating your morning cereal or when it’s your turn to pick up the dog crap.
“You have all you need.”
Say it. Let it sink in. You can even try singing it like a Mary J. Blige and Method Man song.
We always want what we don’t have, but we often forget about all the things we already do, and the amount of work and patience it took to get it.
Let me know how it works out for you. Right now I’ve got to go cuddle in bed with my handsome boyfriend, and adorable puppy.
A few Saturday’s ago I peered out the window to see a fog as thick as smoke. Cody was out replacing my windshield wipers on my car while unbeknownst to him I was inside prepping for a photoshoot. I knew the exact image I wanted to create in my head, but needed him and Edie to complete it. I stood around tapping my boots impatiently when he finally burst through the front door. “I’m not done yet” he told me dryly. But I knew our opportunity would soon be lost, and so I asked as nicely as possible: “Could you take a ten minute break?” He agreed and we were off, tripod and puppy in tow. When we reached our destination we setup shop, pushing the tripods legs deep into the wet snow. I a took a test shot by setting the automatic timer to 15 seconds and then ran and jumped into the photo. That was the first shot you see here. I was only able to take a handful of shots before Edie started to turn into a puppy popsicle, and we had to head home to get warm and dry. I was practically jumping off my seat when we got home and I realized the photos had turned out exactly as I had hoped.
Sometimes you just get lucky.
And so when I saw that Metroland Magazine was having a “Walking in a winter wonderland” photo contest, I sent in our family photo just for fun. I was delighted and surprised to see that it won.
I applied one of new favorite presets from the Pretty Presets collection in Lightroom 4. If you are looking to create a similar photo here are 8 easy steps to get you on your way.
1. Wait for a morning where the fog is so thick you could slice it with a machete.
2. Quickly dress and rub makeup on face.
3. Make sure that you charged your camera the night before.
4. Convince boyfriend and puppy to go for a walk.
5. Set automatic timer on camera for 15 seconds.
6. Run and jump into photo.
7. Apply minor adjustments and preset in Lightroom 4.
8. Hope it all works out.
I got a call from my friend TJ requesting a photoshoot for his new band New Red Scare in late November, 2012. The band had recently been signed to a label and were excited as all hell about it. The last time I had seen TJ perform was when I reviewed his late band, The Killerados for Nippertown. Since New Red Scare has more than twice as many band members than The Killerados did I’m convinced that even without hearing them, they must rock 2.5 times as loud.
The photoshoot took place near Valentine’s Music Hall in Albany NY on a cold fall day that preluded to an even colder winter. The band kept warm by slugging beers and shooting shots from the local bar, while I kept warm by rubbing my hands together like two match sticks that were trying to light.
You can check out New Red Scare’s Facebook page here.
And here are a few of my favorite photos from that shoot:
What I’ve Learned This Year So Far (2012 Edition)
- Fireworks are dangerous. That is why they are illegal in 11 states.
- It has been proven possible that the very first firework that you ever light, might malfunction in its tube and set off a sonic boom of fiery danger onto an unsuspecting crowd. That is why you should first read number one.
- Feeling smug about anything is like asking the universe to come bite you on the ass.
- When you think things can’t get any worse, they almost always will. The upside to this rule is that you can cancel it out just by having this recognition early on. Things can always get worse, trust me, see number two.
- If you throw a thousand things up in the air, a thousand things are going to fall down and smack you in the head. So be prepared to juggle. If you don’t want to juggle, don’t throw shit in the air.
- You can either have time or money, but you can’t have both. At least I haven’t learned how to master both simultaneously….yet.
- The most important thing is spending time with your friends and family. Although I was able to successfully juggle many things the year, I sometimes, (often) felt like a headless chicken and was unable to spend as much time with my loved ones as I would have liked. And so in 2013, instead of juggling I hope to improve my balancing act.
- The only real way to know if a lobster is dead is to poke it in its eye. This of course, is according to my mother.
- Do not drink before going on an international flight, otherwise you will have an international hangover.
- If something scares the shit out of you, do it anyway.
- If you are lost, ask for help. Your fear of looking stupid will only be confirmed if you continue wandering around aimlessly.
- It does not matter whether you take the long road or the short, as long as you travel one of them.
- The long road is usually much more scenic.
To read the beginning part of this story click: HERE
“It’s on Edie Street!” I exclaimed.
During my excitement and nervousness I hadn’t even paid attention to the street name when I had talked to the breeder earlier on the phone. Edie was the name that had come to me in my dream. It was a sign from the puppy gods.
“Do you think it’s a sign from the universe or a coincidence? I asked my boyfriend, my voice was calm but inside I was ready to jump up and down in my seat.
He turned slowly toward me so I could see his entire face. In his low, monotone voice he replied: “It’s a coincidence.”
We drove around and around in the dark on Edie road unable to find the breeders’ house. When I finally called she told me that there were two Edie roads, and we were on the wrong one. Tired and frustrated I started to wonder if the puppy gods were sending me a new message, one that meant I would not be going home with a pup tonight. After another twenty minutes or so we finally found the house. Inside we met Cynthia the breeder. She reminded me of someone’s mom, mid-fifties and calm and kind. Immediately we were greeted by puppies, 11 in total I learned, there had been two separate litters, two days apart.
I stared down into the pile of puppies. Their eyes all looked up at me expectantly. How could I pick one? I asked myself how do you choose? They were all brown and white, some with flecks of black. Every time I moved my body one way, all their tiny little heads swayed in unison that direction, like sand being swept by the wind.
Out of the eleven puppies, only four were female. That narrowed it down a bit, as I had always imagined my first dog would be female.
I held each girl one at a time, looking them over the way one might look at eggs at a grocery store. I kept gravitating back to this little female who was white and caramel with all white around her face. But I noticed when I held her that each breath she took was a long ragged snort. I thought that maybe I was just imagining it so I held one of the other puppies. Sure enough that one didn’t seem to snort nearly as much as the mostly white female. But I kept gravitating back towards her.
“I really like this one, but I’m concerned about her breathing.” I told Cody and the breeder. “What if there’s something wrong with her, she snorts an awful lot.” I looked at the doll faced beauty; she looked back at me and almost if on cue, snorted.
“Oh no” The breeder replied, “They all do that.” But they didn’t. At least not as much. This little one snorted so much she sounded like the little piglet from Wilber from Charlotte’s Web. I worried that there was something wrong with her trachea, or maybe she had a respiratory infection? Back and forth I went, and finally, against my better judgment I selected the Miss Piggy.
“Congratulations” the breeder announced. “You are now proud parents.” She handed me a folder with her papers. But I didn’t feel excited, I just felt a heavy sense of worry, my whole body was consumed with it. As soon as we were out into the frigid air and pulling away from the house in our car I was seized with panic. I made the wrong mistake I thought as I listened to our new pup snort and wheeze. I picked the wrong one. We need to go back and exchange her I thought. But the words didn’t come out. And as we slowly pulled down the road to the Petsmart my fear didn’t decrease. Every thought in my mind screamed ‘go back, go back and pick a different puppy’.
Being inside the Saratoga Springs Petsmart at night was like being inside a haunted house. Every person there scared me. “Have you thought about training?” One pimply young male employee asked. “What kind of food do you need?” He rattled off a million questions, one right after the next. I felt overwhelmed having only the answers to a few of his questions. I just wanted to get home, I was tired and cold. The adrenaline had sucked all the energy right out of my body. If I needed to, I could go home and return her tomorrow while Cody was at work. Swap her out for a different puppy, one that didn’t make any sounds when it breathed.
Back at our apartment Edie made herself right at home. I started to relax as I saw her scurry around our apartment. She acted like she had been there all along. happily wagging her tail and kissing us. She never cried or whined on the way home in the car. I thought for sure she would miss all her brothers and sisters, but instead she lavished in our attention, loving the one on one time she got with each of us.
“Where will she sleep?” Asked my boyfriend. “In bed with us.” Was my reply.
That first night I didn’t sleep at all. I listened to her alternate between snorting and snoring worried about what it might mean while my boyfriend snorted and snored on the other side of the bed. Even if I had wanted to sleep I couldn’t have, it was louder than a train station in our bedroom that night.
The next day as I looked down at her beautiful little face that was perfectly round like an Eskimo, and as she gazed back at me, I felt the love that a parent must feel as one gazes at their child for the first time. It was an undeniable bond. I was her mother. How could I ever imagine that I had made a mistake? Even worse, that I could ever bear to part with her? I wanted to be with every second, everywhere I went she padded along with me. When I wasn’t holding her and carrying her around like a baby, I would hear her coming down the hall to find me, snort, snort, snort.
It’s been three weeks now and I cannot imagine my life without little Edie. Even my boyfriend has fallen for her. The other day he asked while holding her “Why did we wait so long?” And even though I wanted to kill him, instead I smiled, grateful that he had fallen in love with her too.
Now that she’s a little bit older her snorting has lessened, in part I believe because she is growing, and so are the nasal passages inside of her tiny smushed-in nose.
At night, I lie awake now not from the sounds of my boyfriend and my puppy alternating between snoring and snorting, though that does still occasionally happen, but because I feel truly blessed to have my very own little family. Happy, healthy and together at last.
Her name had come to me in a dream. No really it did. I dreamt about adopting a Shih Tzu puppy, and in my dream, her name was Edie. Like Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol’s late muse. While searching online through local rescue groups, I had found this gorgeous Shih Tzu named Woowoo. After reading her story and watching a video of her I instantly fell in love with her gentle demeanor and beautiful gold coloring. I immediately flew into action. After almost 5 years of consistently saying ‘no dogs ever’, my boyfriend had finally given in and agreed. Next I had to convince my landlords, both of them.
I emailed my landlady Luellen with a photo of Woowoo hoping to woo her over. She wrote back saying she would have to check with my other landlord Rudy. She expressed that she was concerned about the damage the puppy might cause, because as she put it “puppies chew.”
I immediately emailed Rudy. ‘Rudy’ I begged ‘Please, please, please let me get her! I promise I won’t let her chew on anything but Cody’s bicycle shoes!” He wrote back almost immediately: “Well I don’t have a problem with it as long as she eats those smelly shoes.”
Grateful and relieved I made the next step, I emailed the rescue group and they wrote back that Woowoo would be there the very next day at Petsmart. I called my close friend Scout who agreed to go with me for support. We showed my early and waited around impatiently as they brought in the dogs one by one. After 20 or so dogs had been brought in, I noticed that there was still no sign of Woowoo. “Where’s Woowoo?” I asked one of the volunteers. He looked perplexed for a moment and then his face broke out into a smile “Woowoo? Oh yeah, we forgot about Woowoo, left her home.” My heart sank. As I went to turn away called out to me. “Do you know why we named her Woowoo? “No” I asked interested. “Because she makes this sound that sounds like Woowoo.” “Oh, ok.” I replied. I couldn’t imagine how a dog could make a sound like a choo choo train, but I was still set on adopting her.
The next day I emailed the rescue group again, asking when I could see Woowoo. They wrote back with no other information other than I would have to wait until the following Saturday at Petsmart. Frustrated I kept my spirits high and filled out all the adoption paperwork online and mailed it in just to cover all my bases. Throughout the week I messaged back and forth with the group commenting about how excited I was to finally meet Woowoo and they again assured me that she would be there, this time, at the Petsmart in Clifton Park.
The day before the next adoption clinic my excitement was almost unbearable, it was all I had talked about to whoever would listen all week. After waiting years and years, I was ready. All the pieces were finally coming together.
Even though I had been assured through email once again that WooWoo would be at the adoption clinic the next day, I thought that I should call again just in case. While dialing the number I expected to be just a personal cell phone, I was surprised when an authoritive voice answered with the rescue group’s name. “Uh Hi, yes I was just calling to see if you received my paperwork, I am interested in adopting Woowoo.” “Oh, well I don’t have access to the mailbox so I can’t tell you if your paperwork has been received, but I can tell you that Woowoo has already been adopted.”
I froze. After a series of questions the only explanation I was given was that someone must have gotten their adoption paperwork in before me. The word heartbroken couldn’t even begin to describe how I felt. With just 30 minutes still left at work I went into the bathroom and sobbed.
The next day I went to the adoption clinic anyway and I caught a glimpse of little Woowoo being wheeled toward the Petsmart in a shopping cart. The woman waiting for her was middle aged and kind. Even though my heart ached, I knew that there had to be a reason why Woowoo was not meant to go home with me. Maybe this woman needed her more. Maybe Woowoo would have a better life with her. I peered over at the other adoptable dogs, but none of them made me feel the way I had when I had first seen Woowoo. I stepped away from the crowd, there were people swarming around the rescue dogs and fighting over them like we were at a wedding dress sample sale in the City. Was this really what I had to do to adopt a rescue? Find one that I really wanted and then fight tooth and nail to get them? It just didn’t seem right, or fair.
I had decided early on that even though I adored dogs of all sizes, I really wanted a small dog under 15 pounds or so. My reasons being that we lived in an apartment with no fenced in lawn and were not able to go for long walks several times per day. A small dog I knew would still be a large responsibility, but one that my boyfriend and I could manage much more easily. The fact was, small dogs required less exercise and took up less space. I also wanted a dog that had hair and not fur because of my extensive allergies, this limited the type of dogs I could adopt to a very small pool.
So even though I had my heart set on adopting, for these reasons plus the fear of once again getting so attached to a particular pet and not knowing whether or not the rescue group would deem me the most suitable candidate or not, was too overwhelming. I also felt that since this would be my first dog, I really wanted the magical experience of watching him or her grow from just a puppy, into an adult.
The following week I scanned the local Want Ad Digest looking at puppies of all shapes and sizes when I came across a woman in Saratoga Springs who had a litter of brown and white Shih Tzu’s. I squinted at the blurry photos, the puppies looked more like small hamsters than dogs.
I waited a full week before I could corral enough courage to call. ‘I’ll just call and see if she seems normal’ I told myself. The woman who answered the phone sounded warm and caring and most importantly, normal. “When can we come look at the puppies?” I asked. “When would you like to come?” I paused before responding. “Could we come tonight?” “Sure!” she replied. I immediately sent my boyfriend Cody a text: “Can we go look at puppies tonight?” “Sure babes.” Was his reply.
In my head I told myself I was just going to go look at the puppies. But deep down I knew that looking at puppies was like looking potato chips, it wouldn’t be long before I would have at least one.
“What’s the address?” My boyfriend asked as we climbed into the car. It was freezing outside and he had forgotten his coat. I cranked up the heat and rubbed my frozen hands together. “I wrote it down somewhere, let me check” I replied as I pulled out my phone and searched through the notes.
But something far more than the cold froze me in my seat, it was the name of the street.
To be continued…
Wow It’s been a crazy year and I am way behind on posting! I have so many fun and exciting things to share before 2013!
Hurricane Sandy was a slap in the face to parts of the East Coast that were still recovering from when Hurricane Irene hit last year. Where I work in Upstate NY, we actually closed the office for the day in anticipation of high winds, flooding and power outages. Fortunately for us, if we hadn’t been told there was hurricane in the near vicinity, we never would have known. The little wind and rain we did get was nothing more than your average crappy November weather. Unfortunately our surrounding areas were not so lucky.
New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut were among a few of the states that got hit hard by the hurricane. We have family in New Jersey and Connecticut that were without power for over a week. Many people experienced major damage to their homes and vehicles due to the heavy flooding and wind, while some watched as their houses and cars simply floated away.
Once again, local musicians rallied together to raise money to help persons affected by Hurricane Sandy with a benefit held at the beautiful Bearsville Theatre in Woodstock, NY. Many of the musicians that played that night traveled from hours away, like legendary harmonica player Dennis Gruenling and bassist Ira Coleman who regularly tours with Sting.
One of my favorite moments of the night was when Vicki Genfan performed “Atomic Reshuffle” her hands dancing up and down the neck of her acoustic guitar, transforming it into a multi-purpose instrument, part drum, part guitar and part voice.
Appropriately, my favorite photo of the night is of Vicki playing while John Sebastian (The Lovin’ Spoonful) looks on admiringly, just as transfixed by her playing as the rest of the audience.
The night was a success, Bearsville Theatre was packed with people, and at the end of the night over $5,000 had been raised to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
It was a nice reminder that you don’t have to have super-powers to help people, just a little time and talent.