Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Taking Pictures

Leaf in blue ice ©Vivien Zepf
Nikon D90; image taken in early morning

My father tortured us as children, insisting that we do it "one more time", as in walk down the stairs again or point at that tree again.  Okay, it really wasn't torture; we did it so he could get the picture he wanted. But it sometimes spoiled the fun and might be why I don't take that many pictures of my own children.   Instead, I record where I am, whether in front of grand vistas, on a city street, or in my backyard.

Taking pictures has made me look more carefully at the world around me.  Sometimes I see things as I'd frame them in a picture.

For the last 15 years I've always carried some kind of camera with me.  I used my small digital camera until the lens -- literally -- fell off.  I make room in my carry-on for my big camera whenever we travel.  There's no way I'm leaving that baby at home.  And now that cell phone cameras are pretty darn good, I use it a lot too.  I can be an annoying person on her cell phone, but I'm stopping to snap pictures, not texting, tweeting, or chatting.

Subway lines ©Vivien Zepf

Because I also use my phone for work calls, it's not practical to get all sorts of supplemental lenses because I might be tempted stop what I was doing to put a lens on.  Nope, no can do.  I do miss the flexibility that a lens gives to picture taking, like depth of field.  And that's why I said yes to Tim's request to write a blog post about my photography.  Tim works for Light, a start-up with a new compact digital camera that merges different lenses to achieve high quality DSLR images.  It looks amazing.  Maybe I'll be able to get one some day.  (hint, hint Tim)

Monday, February 20, 2017


Our older daughter came in for a quick 24 hour visit and it was lovely.

We inhaled guacamole at lunch
We went to the American Museum of Natural History to visit the Titanosaur.  Sigh; one of my favorite places.
Can someone please remind me what trees these are from?
I can't believe the snowdrops are blooming; but then again, it was 57° today

Looking up to see cool lines and light
The cityscape reflections didn't disappoint
One of many bridges

I hope you've had a chance to enjoy family time, too.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Bedside Table + Evening Commute

I've taken to reading for at least 15 minutes on my evening train commute. (Not in the mornings; I'm usually reading and writing emails.)  This time is a wonderful supplement to my bedtime reading ritual.  So, what have I read lately?

This charming Young Adult book asks the question "Is there true love at first sight?" And then asks the second question, "Can teens experience it?"  Finally there's the inevitable, "Does it last?"  Though I've made it sounds that way, The Sun is Also A Star is not formulaic.  There's so much more to the story than love -- prejudice, choice, siblings -- and I was sucked in and raced through it.

Lab Girl satisfies my science itch.  This is Jahren's first book, combining a look back at her childhood and the years spent conducting botanical research with chapters describing how plant-life grows and survives.  The personal sections are raw and poignant, and the "tree" chapters are fascinating and very readable.  Her enthusiasm for her subject is palpable and I'd love to hear her lecture.

Though many of us have seen the movie, "Out of Africa", Paula McLain still has a fresh story to tell about Beryl Markham in Circling the Sun.  Beryl was a woman ahead of her time, an adventurer who didn't let her sex stop her from exploring and doing all the things she wanted to do.  Her life reads like a epic -- which, of course, it was -- and I dreamed of being in Africa.

What are you reading?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Off the To-Do List

A while back, I showed you an old needlepoint canvas I had pulled out a drawer full of unstitched canvases. I thought it might be nice to work on something other than a Christmas ornament.

Today I dropped it off at the shop for finishing.  Somehow, I've managed to stitch this in 15-20 minute slots I've stolen here and there.

The canvas will be folded in half and then finished as an upright, 3D bunny.  (There are ears, too, but I forgot to take a picture of them.)  Hopefully it will done in time for Easter, but perhaps not; I didn't realize the deadline for finishing Easter items was on January 26th.  Ah well.

Still nice to cross this off my list; this poor canvas has been (literally) waiting years to be stitched.  Now I can also move onto other things.... like Christmas ornaments.  I discovered today that the Christmas ornament deadline is August 17th.  Egad! Who knew?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Lunch Treat

Pecan pie -- a delicious and lovely lunchtime treat

Today I had lunch with someone I've been friends with for 15 years. We talked about our families, books we were reading, health and politics.  Yes, politics.  We don't have the same ideas about what irks us, what we're concerned about for the future, nor how we believe some issues should be resolved.  But we talked. And listened.  And considered.

I think we're lucky.

I wish everyone could have the same experience, that everyone has people in their lives who make it possible to have a healthy exchange of ideas without vilification or name-calling.  This lunch was a treat for its company and conversation.... plus the scrumptious dessert.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New Year, New Plan

If you haven't guessed this already, I'm a chatty person.  Yep, I'm a talker.  But sometimes I don't blog because I don't have enough time to say all I'd like to say.  Big mistake. I miss blogging.  Desperately.

That ends now.  Today.

One of my goals for 2017 is to find time to blog, even if it's just to make a quick observation.  I'd like to reacquire my writing and recording habit.  So, I'm starting today.  I'm not waiting until the end of the month or the week to make a "clean" start.  I'm just diving in.  It may seem like the middle, but of what, I ask myself.  There's no defined time to re-engage or start something new.  The whole idea is to get started.  Otherwise it's likely a rationalization.  So, without further ado, here's what's up:

At the Museum:
I'm docent trainer again, but sharing the duties with two fabulous women who are making the process incredibly fun.  This exhibition is called "Picturing Love" and has a broad range of photographs depicting the different ways love can be defined.  I'm learning a ton and enjoying it immensely.  The opening is on March 28th.  I'll keep you posted.

In Paradise:
We had a wonderful holiday trip to the BVI to sail, snorkel and dive.  It was spectacular.  Here's a glimpse.  (If you follow me on social media, my new profile picture sporting a wetsuit is from this recent trip.)

The rocks and pristine water at the Baths
Sailing into the sunset
An octopus in the process of changing color

One of the many incredible fish we shared the ocean with.  This one is a White Spotted Filefish.
The children's Christmas ornaments this year were meant to show a favorite place.  Here's what I made for each of them:


Older daughter

Younger daughter
In the Studio:
This is the start of a gift and so, this is the last I'll say about it until it's done.

Until next time, thanks for reading.  Happy New Year!

Monday, October 10, 2016


At my daughter's request, I've decorated for Halloween; it's one of her favorite times of the year.  We used to have blow-out Halloween parties.  Our front porch still bears evidence of the body outline we painted one year.  (Paint + cement = permanent) This little pumpkin sits on our kitchen mantle, adorable in its lumpiness. 

This is just one of number of decorations that I cherish, made by our children when they were small.   It's making me reflect fondly on years gone by.  It prompted me to dig through my needlepoint "hideaway" drawer to discover a canvas from a decade ago. Now I'm stitching madly in spare moments to finish this before Easter.  If all goes well, this bunny will take its turn sitting on the kitchen mantle.

Our youngest loves to dress the house for the seasons, but I'm getting a little teary-eyed thinking about next year when she'll be off at school.  What will I do?  I can't say one way or another.  All I know for now is that my youngest really isn't the "baby" of the family any more.

Her senior picture