Tag Archives: life

Not Quite Done with You Lot…

“Hee! Hee!” say I most sheepishly. If I may, I have very good reasons for sheepishness. While your help in selecting the photographs for my children brochure proved in-va-lu-a-ble, said brochure has yet to see the light of day. Furthermore, if I still may, additional sheepishity derives from my audacity to hope for your help in new selections. Grin, grin, wink, pretty please…  🙂

This time, I’m tackling another kind of beast. The hairy kind. I need to pick four animal prints for display and, as usual, I feel undecided, confused, frustrated, baffled, inadequate, and a tad unfulfilled. Not necessarily in that order. I fear that if you help me not, bitterness will prevail.

So ’nuff said, go to work! Please select the four pet prints you would pick if you were pathetic little old me. All the pets must be different.

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Et voila! The last one has chickens in it, I know. I don’t think they really qualify as pets but I like the photograph anyway.

Please, help me out! Do your blogger duty. You’ll feel better afterwards. I’m thriving on making you guys feel good about yourselves. I aim to please… And also, Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

I fell in love with the pig…

And the lazy bastard had to open a store. I have decided a long time ago that I was much more talented at encouraging (harassing) others to promote themselves than to do it for myself. I’m not even trying anymore and I ran out of business cards four months ago. I’m pathetic.

When I saw a drawing of a planet with a pig Cochon and a little man foraging for truffles on the blog of Sir planetross, I told him I wanted a pig shirt. Much prodding ensued.

“Get off the couch and go work on these drawings. Canadians will still be playing hockey tomorrow!”

“Don’t let Kelly Pettit‘s idea of a good time interfere with your work!”

“Do you think graphics for tee-shirts grow in rice fields?!”  (Monsieur planetross lives in Japan in the middle of mountains, hot water springs where men bathe all naked and a lot of rice fields)

Et voila le travail! The store is now officially opened!!!

logo2-copyA difficult delivery (breech if you will) but a full line of tee-shirts, mugs, and other stuff too

We had our fair share of artistic differences. When planetross sent me this graphic:

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I questioned his good judgment. Would people ever buy a shirt with a little boy who peed his pants (even if they weren’t his)? Apparently yes. Monsieur Shinn was the first one to say he totally wanted one! So I caved in.

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And I got my pig shirt too!

e-dylan-and-cochon-21The “cochon tres tres chic” line looks adorable on wee kids.

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Even our President decided that the inspirational messages on the shirts were quite appropriate for the campaign trail:

aobamasouthcarolina“Maybe the light at the end of the tunnel is just the entrance to a lighted tunnel.”

The shirts transcend time…

keaton007Buster Keaton sporting his favorite Kelly Pettit Unplugged shirt.

Many famous actors are hopping on the bandwagon (or whatever that expression is) and are adopting planetross’ sense of fashion (I’d never thought I’d say that in a million years, trust me!)

marlon0061Marlon Brando and his special optimism method acting in Streetcar Named Desire”

All the graphics are declined in women’s, men’s, children’s tee shirts, mugs and mouse pads (except for the “coffee mugging” line which is only for mugs and therefore not really a line to be exact.)

canuck_cochon_mug-p168167015538446546tr4i_380“cochon pour le bacon” shows planetross’ patriotic fiber (the man is a Canuck)

mental_mousepad-p144145075472766376cb7z_525-copyWhy buy a regular boring mouse pad when you could buy a beauty like this one?

Also, the lines are quite sporty as evidenced by this shot taken at some kind of golf event.

woods008Generally I’m not one much in favor of red and yellow together but I think it works rather well here.

In summary, it’s all in good fun, the items make splendid gifts, and please go buy something otherwise the boy will never get off his lazy bum again and he will tell me “I told you so” ad nauseam, and I’ll have to eat crow for months at the time, and you would not want that for me now, would you?

The Many Faces of Circe

“Circe, go wear something fancy and I’ll take your photograph, okay?”

circebellyCirce the Belly Dancer

Circe, the seven year old daughter of my friend Fred, decides that “fancy” means belly dancer outfit (complete with socks.)  Before I take her portrait, she checks herself out in the mirror and sucks in her little belly. After a few pictures, she flies upstairs to change into something else.

circeperruquePreparing to emulate Marilyn Monroe

Circe is not in the mood for classic portraiture. She trades in the oriental costume for the Marilyn look. She then reclines on the settee and looks at me from under her eyelashes appearing slightly underwhelmed.  The portrait is vaguely disturbing, even more than I had anticipated, but the rule is to let her do and wear whatever she wants.

Circe has a new idea for a fancy outfit and tells me it will be a surprise. She will call me when she is ready. Five minutes later, she screams my name from the top of her lungs even though I’m just in the room next door.

circelionne1Circe and the lion

In her happy messy room, Circe, dressed like Tarzan’s Jane, is lying on her bed with her favorite lion… and the little stick to beat him into submission.

I ask her to find something a little more simple and she comes back in a white dress.

bcircefenetreCirce a la fenetre

I hear a bit of commotion outside the room, open the door, and find myself facing Catherine C., my neighbor from 35 years ago. I had not seen her since she had moved from our street in the seventies but I recognize her immediately! Weird! I ask Circe not to move while I go downstairs to meet her husband and children. One thing leads to another and before I know it, I’m having a cup of tea and cookies. More exactly tea and a cookie. The confections had all been made by Circe and taking a bite out of them is a mere impossibility. We all sit around chatting and dutifully sucking on our cookie, trying not to break any teeth.

Half an hour goes by and I suddenly remember poor Circe. I grab the camera and run up the stairs. This is what I find when I open the door:

circequiattendCirce who awaits

She has not moved an inch but looks mildly resentful (and freezing.) I have now created some abandonement issues in that sweet abiding little girl and I’m not feeling very proud of myself.  The mood has soured and the session appears over. I am not used to being obeyed. Who in their right mind would obey me anyway?

This session was photographed with a medium format film camera. I went back to film for the first time in many many many years, only to find out that in Dallas, you cannot find a lab with an old-fashioned dark room!

The Very Hairy Christmas Card

My sister faked cancer.  She faked not one, but two cancers. If you are going to tell a big lie, you might as well fabricate an even bigger one for maximum effect. In the end, it turned out that her stomach and esophagus cancer surgery was in fact a gastric bypass to rid her of her obesity.

My sister and I are not on speaking terms. Blood may be thicker than water but when you put your 75 year old mother through the ringer with imaginary health problems, my blood thins out considerably. Seriously. She even attempted to turn the situation around by claiming that her lies were a cry for help and that my failure to recognize her anguish denoted a clear lack of compassion on my part. Nice try.

With my habitual  Christmas foreigner abandoning me to go frolic in the Argentinian Pampas this year, there would be no Christmas dinner with my sister and I sitting at the same table. Instead, she gave her son a card for me with the strict instruction to open it only the next day, on Christmas.

The card was in a white envelope with a small golden bow.

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It was a pretty thick envelope and all evening, I kept wondering if perhaps it contained a letter of apology (way overdue.)

The next morning, in bed with a good book and my morning coffee (it’s unbelievable the number of books you go through when not blogging!), I looked at the envelope on the night table begging to be opened with its cute little bow.

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The card looked very average. In our family, we always go for funky and the Golden Retriever carrying Christmas ornaments definitely did not pass the originality test. Very unlike my sister. I opened the card.

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Eek! Eek! Eek! Hair!!!! I kid you not. With roots! My sister cut all her hair off and stuffed them in my card. My instincts kick in. Or woman’s intuition, whatever you may want to call that special 6th sense. I think my sister is not going to apologize. I can just feel it with all my mighty powers of deduction. I push the hair aside.

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What did I tell you?!  The use of English remains a mystery since French is our first language, but nevermind the semantics. This is my first hate Christmas card ever! I didn’t even know such thing existed. In retrospect, the use of the golden bow on the envelope seems quite deceiving when coupled with the nice curvy handwriting.

I’m going to take the hair and make a little pillow with it.

Just kidding. I’m going to keep this card for the day my body is found in a Belgian gutter, stabbed to death by a hairless assassin.

Confessional Closed Before, During, and After Christmas

Due to unfortunate circumstances (i.e. work, the loss of the letter A on my keyboard, Christmas shopping gone awry), the blog will be closed from now until sometime in January. I wish y’all a great holiday season! Here are the last Paris photographs from last year. I figured I’d better post them now before I bring back the new batch.

bparis1sem_026From les quais de la Seine. I still have not figured out what exactly the world is screaming. Nov? Mov? French people should definitely stick to French.

bparis1sem_027Picnic on the Quai

bparis1sem_025Maman, a giant sculpture by Louise Bourgeois, at the Tuileries

bparis1sem_023Bronze by Aristide Maillol

bparis1sem_024Another Aristide Maillol bronze

bparis1sem_028The same statue put to a use the artist had probably not foreseen

paris1sem_031the guilded Jeanne d’Arc, rue de Rivoli

Have a splendid Thanksgiving, St. Niklaas, Hanuka, Festivus, Christmas, and an especially happy New Year! Thanks for all your comments over the last year. They helped me grow as a photographer. See you next year for new adventures!

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This is not over yet. I am well aware that you slackers would much rather curl up in front of the fireplace (for you up north and way east) or go for a jog in a tee-shirt (my homeys and the Southerns down there), but you have far from completed your task.

Your help in helping me select photographs for my children photography brochure has proven incredibly valuable to me. I would have never selected the images you’ve chosen so far! What an eye-opener! It confirms what I’ve always thought: I should NEVER trust my own judgment!

Please select your three favorites from this set:

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All kidding set aside, I really REALLY appreciate your comments. You’ll notice for example that I have not included any photographs of squatting children in this set. I will probably never photograph them in that position anymore either for the reason so well set forth in your previous comments (why did I never think of that?)

Thanks again. I love you guys. Tears. Tears. Big smile.

If you have not cast your vote yet for the previous images, please do so here and there.

S.O.S Bloggers! I need you. I’m pathetic.

For those of you who missed the preceding post (and shame on you for that), I am in the process of designing a promotional children photography brochure for the Dallas area, and I absolutely need your input for the choice of images to include. Please let me know which are your three favorite photographs in the following bunch. Pretty please.

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All your help is incredibly tremendously appreciated!!! Thank you.

If you have not voted for the first set of photographs, please do so by clicking here.

HELP! Pretty Please!

When it comes to making choices, let’s just say I have issues. I am not the type of person who agonizes for hours in front of a black sweater and a brown sweater wondering which one to purchase. No. I buy both. Needless to say, I maintain a healthy distance between myself and stores.

Last January, I decided to design a promotional children photography brochure. Eleven months later, I still have not decided which photographs to include. Not procrastination. Not laziness. Just incapacity to make up my mind. That’s where you come in like glorious knights in shining armors! It’s high time y’all became useful at something anyway!

I post photographs and you, my beloved and cherished readers (am I laying it on too thick?), help me make choices! Voila! Brilliant, no?

The first set is from a session I shot in Belgium. Circe and Calypso were my little models. I would like to possibly use one or two in the lot.

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Please let me know which one or which ones you think would be a good addition to the brochure.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. There are many more you can select so if you do not like any of these, come back later!

note: folks, it would be helpful if you all picked the same one.

Bathing with Naked Men. Woohoo!

Numata, Japan. planetross certainly knows how to show a girl a good time… One morning, he put me in the van and announced we would go bathe at a very special outdoor hot springs: Takaragawa. Public bathing in Japan appears almost like a lifestyle and a great social equalizer. The anonymity of nudity allows the street sweeper to rub elbows with the business big wig. Ross, I think, is addicted.

onsen-ticket006My ticket!

Most of the Japanese Onsens (hot springs) are gender segregated but this particular one is co-ed. The rotunburo (outdoor onsen) has four different basins located on each side of the river. The basin’s size is expressed in number of tatami mats; the Kodakara-no-yu is the largest outdoor bathing area and measures 200 mats (I even think it is in the Guinness Book of Records.) Japanese translations never fail to crack me up and the English version of the Onsen brochure describes the Kodakara in the following suspicious manner: “It is possible to take a bath at ease even in the female because it is wide.” Ross did not attempt to do so. In retrospect, I feel slightly slighted. 😉

takaragawa-onsen-06-icoNot my photograph! Cameras are forbidden.

The facility, tucked away in the mountain, was breathtakingly beautiful. Unfortunately, on the path to the ticket counter, a few small cages with miserable looking bears. I averted my gaze. The adjacent hotel advertises Bear Soup. Sometimes, it’s better not to ask questions.

In a typical onsen, you disrobe, go sit on a little stool, and thoroughly wash yourself before entering the basin, but at Takaragawa, they apparently trust that you’ve showered before leaving home. Men and woman have separate changing rooms. Guys receive a modesty towel which is actually a very modest towel and is supposed to hide their bits and pieces as they move around between basins. Woman, on the other hand, are supposed to wrap themselves in a much much bigger towel and keep it on at all times. Towels are generally frowned upon in the water but apparently the rule at Takaragawa is for the women to stay modest (unless they bathe in the special ladies area).

takaragawa-onsen-07-ico1Once again, sorry, not my picture.

I emerged from the changing room and spotted Ross (modesty towel over his head as is the usage) in the water already in great conversation with another gaijin (foreigner.) I put a foot in the water and gasped at how incredibly hot the water was (the brochure states between 109 and 158 degrees!) While feeling on the verge of being poached, I practiced a nonchalant look as I made my way towards Ross. Death before ridicule, that’s my motto! His buddy gaijin, an American professor, had the slanted eyes of people that have resided in Japan for a long time and he was CREEPY. I was glad when Ross suggested we tried another basin on two levels: one, I wanted to get away from the professor, and two, I was about to faint.

We moved to another bath area, and ten minutes later, the creepy professor followed us, and entered the basin with a slip and an unfortunate head dive. A stunning faux-pas although I’m quite sure he did not mean it considering the way he was choking and spitting water. We moved to the basin across the river. Soaking in the slightly sulfurous hot water, perching yourself on a stone before passing out, the sound of the river in the background, most men walking around all naked, all of these factors contributed to make the experience unique and almost surreal. The best part though is the aftermath: the complete relaxation that ensues. Wow!

bonse_005The Buddha at the exit of the Takaragawa Onsen

On the way back, I made Ross stop every five minutes to take in the scenery.

onse_007Rice Field with nice tombs

Tombs in Japan do not always belong to cemeteries. You’ll find them on the side of the road, in the middle of a rice field…

bonse_009Tombs in someone’s yard

onse_018A statue in the middle of exactly nowhere

bonse_019A monkey and her baby on the side of the road

Ross does NOT like monkeys.

onse_021You may live in a small mountain village but that ain’t no reason not to be stylin’

onse_020Avant-guarde vegetable transportation

onse_025A bric-a-brac shop on the side of the road

bonse_030O Surprise! A Japanese Manneken Pis! Of all the things to export from Belgium… Really!

bonse_031Old ad

bonse_026Another old ad with a deja vu feel to it

onse_027A Pachinko machine

Japanese people play Pachinko in parlors. While the game is not considered gambling for historical reasons, the parlor employees are forbidden from telling players where they can exchange their prizes for cash. They’ll have to figure out this one on their own.

tuepm_001Parlor sign in Numata

The devices used to purely mechanical (like the one featured above), but most machines are now digital. The odds of winning on each individual machines are decided by parlor employees and can be changed. These manipulations are tolerated by local police as long as done outside of business hours. As far as Pachinko etiquette, you should do okay as long as you don’t touch someone else’s balls and do not grab a machine where a player has left a pack of cigarette or other personal possession (sign they are holding the machine.)

onsen_001Ross in the mountain daisies

And so we headed back to town, all sulfury smelling, water wrinkled like Sharpeis, and very very mellow. We had a photographic appointment with Kelly Pettit and his family. I’m sold to Onsens. The outside ones anyway. I don’t think I’d like the Sentos (inside public baths) quite as well.

If I may add, not to be difficult, but I’d rather soak with a towel over my head too.

Hallo-Weened – Halloween The End

Dear Organizers of the Halloween Oak Lawn Street Party,

I am writing this letter to address your unusual sense of timing. While Halloween magically fell on a Friday this year (woohoo, for a change!), you decided to hold the block party not on this perfect October 31st, but on a Saturday, a week earlier.

I ignore the reasons behind your bizarre sense of scheduling, but let it be known that by the time the real Halloween came around and after a week of working on photographs of your event, I felt absolutely not in the mood for yet another round of festivities. Not in the mood for the scary costumes. Not in the mood to see another young man running around in his underwear. Not in the mood to photograph another woman with abundant facial hair and boobs even surgery could not give me.

This year, at Halloween, I stayed home, turned off the light, and ate all the candy I was going to give away. Dozens of little children had to carry a lighter bag of candies just because of you and I will have to attend the gym assiduously for the next few weeks to atone for my gluttony (your fault too.)

Next year, Halloween falls on a Saturday. Would it be perhaps possible to hold the Halloween Street Party and Halloween on the same Saturday?

Thank you for your consideration. Here are the last few photographs of your party although you really do not deserve them.

Sincerely

Nathalie with an h

Insane Clown Posse of one

Homeless by the Sea

Satan wore a garter belt… to hold up his fishnet stockings.

In Dallas, people think sailors never wear pants. Really.

Cat Woman with fembots

If you are naturally red-eyed, do you really need a mask?

Posh grand dame

Posh grand dame with an attitude

Posh grand dame with an attitude screaming at me.

After encountering the thunders of the posh grand dame, I called it quits. I am very fragile inside, maintain a healthy fear of rejection and, to address more earthly considerations, my feet were killing me… but mainly and manly too, she scared the Beejeezus out of me. Very Halloweenishly so.