ChatterLog May 2010

Greetings everyone, and welcome to the May ChatterBulletin! We have now moved from the sign of Aries into Taurus, so it is no big surprise that we have also just celebrated “Earth Day” on April 22nd. Earth Day began back in 1970 and was the brainchild of environmental activist, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin who, after witnessing the horrific 1969 oil spill off the California coast, decided it was time to bring more attention to the widespread environmental degradation. That year over 20 million people participated in the Earth Day celebration and now, 40 years later, Earth Day is observed by more than 500 million people around the world. Unfortunately however, the oil spills are still happening, as witnessed recently off the Louisiana Gulf Coast.

Ironically (or not) some years ago I took a course called the “Landmark Forum” and it was thanks to and during this time that I decided I wanted to get back into photography in some way. In one particular exercise we were asked to come up with a phrase that perfectly described what our “intention” was with our goal. My phrase was, “The acknowledgment and preservation of the extraordinary beauty of the world” and the label upon which I wrote it is on my refrigerator to this day.

Possessions

© Louisa J. Curtis

You may remember the image of the single snowdrop in the last bulletin that so beautifully illustrated the end of winter, survival and the beginning of spring? Well, not only does the Earth sign of Taurus have green fingers in the garden, they are also natural healers, making use of the plants they grow. So I thought I would share another “miracle of nature” with you and one, which perfectly demonstrates that for every ailment and physical complaint out there, Mother Nature has provided us with a cure. A few days ago I noticed that the nasty little dry patch of skin in between two of my fingers had returned once again. It does this periodically so I applied some medicinal hand crème in the hopes it would go away. However, it didn’t really help, and then I remembered, silly me, I have an Aloe Vera plant! For those of you that do not have an Aloe plant, I highly recommend that you get one, they are very easy to grow, require little maintenance, and it’s easy to take cuttings in order to start another plant for somebody else. So anyway, I took a piece of the Aloe, opened it up to get to the slimy inside and rubbed a generous amount in between my fingers. By the next morning, the redness, dry patches and irritation had completely, not partially, but completely gone away and the skin was soft and smooth again. Pretty amazing!

I decided to make this month’s theme Possessions because the sign of Taurus is also known to enjoy beautiful objects of all kinds – animal, vegetable and mineral alike! For me, the topic of possessions brings up some interesting thoughts and emotions. On a humorous note, some of you may recall the late, great comedian George Carlin’s classic and brilliant sketch on “Stuff.”

I laugh every time I hear him talk about this particular topic, especially coming from a family of semi-hoarders, or should I say, “collectors.” In a slightly different version to the one on YouTube I remember it was so brilliant the way he began with the stuff we collect as a child, followed by the stuff we need when we leave home and go to college, and then we get married and move completely away from home and get even more new stuff, and yet we still have the original stuff stored at our parents, and it might and usually does stay there for years, even until our parents die. Well, my sister and I certainly got to experience that one last year after our mother had died. As I said, we come from a family of collectors.

CLICK HERE FOR REST OF ARTICLE!

My mother, my sister & I circa the mid 1990’s

In closing, and even though in England where we grew up, this holiday takes place in the month of March, in continued memory of our mother, whom we miss a whole lot, let us not forget that here in the U.S. it is Mother’s Day on May 9th. So to all of you “mums” out there and to all those of us whose mothers are no longer with us – Happy Mother’s Day!

ChatterArtists May 2010

Continuing on with the theme of Possessions it was only natural this month to feature photographers who shoot still life, product and all of those beautiful objects that Taurus loves. However, still life photographers don’t always get to shoot beautiful arrangements of fabulous objects. Sometimes they have the unique challenge of making something quite ordinary and mundane look appealing and inviting.

Tony Cordoza

First up we have Tony Cordoza, a photographer and friend whom I have known for a long time now. Tony was one of my early Chatterbox clients and besides his conceptual still life work, he has spent many years making silver stereos, flat-screen TV’s and other assorted shiny boxes look “sexy”! His lighting and his technique are so fine-tuned – he does little or nothing in PhotoShop afterwards.

© Tony Cordoza

http://www.tonycordoza.com/

Lisa Adams

From masculine metal we move to feminine softness, and the photography of Lisa Adams. We have never technically met or worked together, but a few years ago, her assistant attended my website panel in Charlotte, NC and Lisa’s website was one of the ones the panel reviewed, and it was beautiful. I have been a big fan of her work ever since and I constantly use her as an excellent example of good branding, as well as good photography.

© Lisa Adams

http://www.lisaadamsphotography.com/

Robert Quailer

From soft and subtle, we go bold and bright and the photography of Robert Quailer, with whom I consulted a couple of years ago. Besides his commercial studio work, Robert was fortunate enough to capture images of the famous New York eatery, “Tavern on the Green” before they shut their doors for good earlier this year.

© Robert Quailer

http://qdigitalphotography.com/

Parlee Chambers

Next up is half of “Studio Chambers” and that is photographer Parlee Chambers. Based in Atlanta, Parlee and her husband Don were clients of mine some years ago when I worked at the Black Book and I just love the pair of them. They have years of experience under their belts and a wickedly wonderful sense of humor!

© Parlee Chambers

http://www.studiochambers.com/

Brett Wills

I met both of the next two photographers some years ago when I worked for American Showcase and Archive magazine. The first is Brett Wills, a master of still life and beauty, and whom coincidentally the photo agents I used to work for, Watson & Spierman Creative currently represent.

© Brett Wills

http://www.bretwills.com & http://wswcreative.com

Halley Ganges

As I mentioned before, Taurus loves beautiful things, so my final photographer is master of the “luxury product” and also a dear friend of mine, Halley Ganges. Halley also owns and runs the most beautiful rental studio facility in the heart of the Fashion District, Go-Studios, which has the most fantastic south-facing views and all-natural daylight.

© Halley Ganges

http://www.halleyganges.com & http://www.go-studios.com

ChatterCorner May 2010

Callie Lipkin

© Callie Lipkin

http://www.callielipkin.com/

I am very excited to announce that I will now be writing each month for the “Surveillance” section on PDN’s PhotoServe website. The first article went live at the end of April and is an interview with my client and Chicago-based photographer Callie Lipkin who, when she is not shooting her light and lively advertising lifestyle work, is photographing her passion and personal project on Burlesque. Click here to read the full article: http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/content_display/photoserve/surveillance/e3i73c1f8a93e23a5ce99bc1b0004b684f6

ChatterNews May 2010

Chelsea Brewer

And continuing on with Taurus’ love of beautiful things, my assistant Chelsea, who also helps me put the bulletin together each month, recently designed and built a website for Ghost Dancer, jewelry designed by Rhiannon Griego. Not only did she create the website but she also photographed all of the jewelry. To view more of the Ghost Dancer Jewelry Collection and Chelsea’s work please visit: http://www.ghostdancercollection.com/http://www.chelseabrewer.com/

© Chelsea Brewer

Julie Grahame

My dear friend Julie Grahame has launched her online magazine aCurator (http://acurator.com/)!

And if you haven’t already seen her beautiful blog click here: http://acurator.com/blog/

© Rob Hann

Pink Inc. & Eco Friendly Expo

Continuing along with the “Earth Day” theme, my friend Debra Roth and her company Pink Inc. is designing the environment for the Eco Friendly Expo! The expo runs from Tuesday, May 25th – Thursday, May 27th, 2010.For more information about the expo please visit: http://ecofriendlyexpo.com/1-home-ecofriendlyexpo.html.

To view more of Debra’s work please visit: http://pinkincdesign.com/

Mike Dobson

My client Mike Dobson of Echo Imagery is a volunteer for the organization “Success for Kids” (SFK) and on Sunday, May 23rd in New York City he will be participating in a 40 mile bicycle ride fundraiser for “Ride for Success”. To donate money and become a sponsor of Mike’s you can visit his personal sponsor page here: http://www.firstgiving.com/michaeldobson. To view Mike’s personal work please visit: http://echoimagery.com/

Photo © Mike Dobson

For more information about the fundraiser and the SFK organization please visit: http://www.rideforsuccess.org/(Mike also built the website!) & http://sfk.org/

Jade Albert

Congratulations to my client Jade Albert who recently signed with photo rep Doug Truppe (http://www.dougtruppe.com/)! To view Jade’s work please visit: http://www.jadealbert.com/

Darrell Perry & Multi-Media Mix

Darrell Perry is one of my favorite people, and was recently one of the panelists for the ASMP Copyright Panel at the Times Center in New York. Formerly the photo editor of the Wall Street Journal, Darrell recently launched Multi-Media Mix, a monthly networking event for visual media professionals to meet, mingle and exchange business cards over drinks and snacks. For more information and details of the next event on Thursday, May 27th, go to: http://site.multi-mediamix.com/ & http://site.multi-mediamix.com/Services.html

Best of ASMP 2010

Working on a memorable photography project? Submit it to the Best of ASMP 2010, before it’s too late!

Now in its sixth year, the ASMP Bulletin’s Best of ASMP issue features memorable projects spanning the full range of our members’ specialty areas, demographics and geographic reach. The 20 photographers selected for this yearly honor are featured both in print and online, where they discuss their technical accomplishments, their valued equipment, the clients they work with and more, in detailed interviews illustrated by their best work.

For the Best of ASMP’s 2010 edition, they will accept member entries through May 15, 2010.

For more information please visit: http://www.asmpny.org/#bestof

Jamie Oliver & The Food Revolution

Some of you may have seen English chef Jamie Oliver on TV recently because he has brought his philosophy and his passion for healthy eating over to the United States and has launched a massive campaign called Jamie’s Food Revolution with which he hopes to change the way we are currently feeding (and poisoning) our children. His goal is to take this all the way to the White House, especially as Michelle Obama is a big advocate for eating healthy and reducing the alarming increase of juvenile diabetes in this country. I’m a big fan of Jamie, not only as a brilliant chef, but also as human being, who truly cares and wants to make a difference. But it also makes me laugh that it takes this ballsy Brit with a “lisp” to come over here and shake up the American people when it comes to what and how they are feeding their children, especially in the schools. Check out his extensive website and sign Jamie’s petition to save cooking skills and improve school food.

Photo courtesy of http://www.jamieoliver.com/

For more information and to sign Jamie’s petition please go to: http://www.jamieoliver.com/campaigns/jamies-food-revolution/petition

ChatterTip of the Month May 2010

Beauty & Health Tips from the Kitchen

© Kurt Wilson

http://www.kurtwilsonphotography.com/

The sign of Taurus is concerned with beautiful things, food, wine and physical pleasures. So for this month I decided to give you some Beauty & Health Tips using ingredients from the kitchen. If you can eat it, you can generally put it on your skin, from avocado to olive oil, to yogurt or strawberries… Taurus loves to eat, drink and look good at the same time. And because it is also the sign that introduces us to our “senses,” I am giving you some tips that relate to each of the five senses.

For the eyes (sight) – many of us suffer from “bags” under the eyes and generally looking tired. Some of you have perhaps heard of the old home remedy, which is to apply cold Tea Bags over the closed eyelids in order to cool the skin and reduce the swelling. And apparently, if you don’t have any cold tea bags handy, another suggestion is to use slices of Potato, or Cucumber. Lie quietly with eyes closed and the slices placed over the eyelids. The cooling vegetable will certainly soothe those tired eyes.

For the ears (sound) – I remember as a child that whenever I had a bad case of earache (probably from too much swimming!) my mother would heat up a small amount of Olive Oil and then gently pour a few drops into the ear from a silver teaspoon, and then plug it up with some cotton wool. Sometimes a little of the warm oil escaped and ran down my neck, but the sensation was both soothing and, more importantly, it also successfully melted the blocked earwax and dissolved the earache.

For the nose (smell) – although I consider myself to be pretty healthy, I do have a history of sinus problems (also resulting from swimming & diving too much as a child!) Sinus headaches are miserable but one of the best ways to break up the mucus is to drink a tea made from Goldenseal powder. Boil some water in a saucepan and only use a very small spoonful of the powder – it is very strong and somewhat bitter, so if you really can’t take it, can add a little honey. Drink the tea 3x a day and the sinus will start to break up. Another remedy is to fill a large bowl with boiling water and then cover with a towel. I like to add Eucalyptus Oil to the vapors. Wait a few seconds (otherwise you’ll burn yourself) and then pop your head under the towel and gently breathe in the steam. Not only does it help the sinus but it also gives you a great facial at the same time!

For the mouth (taste) – One of the best remedies for a healthy mouth is Myrrh. It can be purchased in capsule form and taken several times a day, or as a liquid tincture. Simply add a few drops to a little warm water and rinse your mouth out as you would with a regular mouthwash. Again, it is a little bitter tasting, like the Goldenseal, but it can really improve the overall health of your teeth, gums and mouth. Another good remedy found in the pantry is Baking Soda, which can be sprinkled on to your toothbrush either on its own or with a dab of toothpaste as well.

For the skin (touch) – Here’s an interesting pair of remedies for the skin using Eggs and one that beautifully demonstrates the Yin Yang principle. For dry skin, make a face pack of beaten egg yolks with a little lemon juice – and for oily skin, make a face pack with whipped egg whites and lemon juice – now how interesting is that? There are many ingredients from the kitchen that can be added to the bath, such as Baking Soda, which helps to soften the skin and helps to soothe aching muscles. It is a great substitute if you don’t happen to have any Epson Salts in the bathroom cabinet. I also recall a English friend of mine telling me how her mother would add Olive Oil to her bath water to soften the skin.

Now, although I do admit I tend to like my baths hot, it is supposedly better and less drying for the skin if the water is warm. Better still would be to shower in cold water, but if that is too extreme for you, try showering with hot/warm water first and then gradually turn the water to cold before you get out (Yin & Yang again). I tend to like hot baths when it is cold outside and cold showers in the summer heat, but that isn’t quite what we are talking about here! The principle of alternating from hot to cold is nothing new – I remember years ago meeting a beautiful forty-something year-old Scandinavian woman whose skin was perfect. She told me that back home they would literally alternate between the hot sauna and rolling in the snow outside and, the only crème she had ever used was Nivea! Come to think of it, when I first lived in New York I used to go to the famous Russian Baths in the East Village, http://www.russianturkishbaths.com where we would spend as long as we could stand in the sweat room before jumping into an icy pool of cold water. Not exactly my favorite thing to do but very invigorating, to be sure, and great for the complexion!

ChatterRecipe of the Month May 2010

Beef Stroganoff

Image courtesy of http://www.itv.com/

Many years ago I worked as an assistant chef in a French Restaurant, and one of the dishes I learned how to make was an easy and delicious Beef Stroganoff. The owner taught me how to make everything on the menu so he could take the occasional night off to pursue whichever innocent young waitress he was interested in at the time. I learned a lot from this man (not necessarily about infidelity and arrogant vanity) but more about cooking, presentation (which was key) and timing (which was essential). I can remember being petrified of handling a large table order that included several steaks, but all cooked to a different preference. The challenge was have them all ready to go out at the same time, along with any other dishes and vegetables that were still “crunchy”. One steak might be “well-done”, two “medium”, one “medium-rare”, one “rare” and one “blue”, that kind of thing. Anyway, a less challenging dish on the menu was Beef Stroganoff, which was cooked to order fresh – it was that easy to make. It is in fact, a classic Russian dish that has been around since the 18th century, named after a family of wealthy merchants from Novgorod. And seeing as this month is connected to Taurus and the bull, I figured we should have a “beef” recipe.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons Butter

1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil

1½ lbs Beef Tenderloin, Filet Mignon or Boneless Sirloin (cut into small, thin strips)

8 Shallots (or 1 large Onion)

10 oz Mushrooms (sliced)

Salt & Black Pepper

1¼ cups Sour Cream

Red Wine

Chopped Parsley for garnish

White Rice

Melt the Butter with the Vegetable Oil in a heavy skillet and when it starts to “foam” cook the Beef Tenderloin over high heat until browned all over (approx. 5 minutes).

Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set to one side. Add the Shallots (or onions) and the Mushrooms to the pan and cook until soft and browned. De-glaze the bottom of the pan with a little Red Wine, add back in the Beef Tenderloin, Salt & Black Pepper to taste and then stir in the Sour Cream. Cook until sauce has thickened, garnish with chopped Parsley and serve immediately with White Rice.

ChatterEvents May 2010

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 – 7pm – 9pm

ASMP Member Benefit

@ SoHo Photo

15 White Street

New York, NY

Cost: Free to all

From the website:

“This informative and festive evening will be an opportunity for new, seasoned and prospective ASMP members to discover all that ASMP has to offer… NY chapter board members along with insurance reps and guest speakers will be on hand to answer all of your questions and provide details about ASMP membership benefits. Please strike up a conversation with one of us and enjoy refreshments, music and door prizes.”

For more information please visit: http://www.asmpny.org/pages/201/0/0/

Also Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 – 6 – 8pm

En Foco’s Touring Gallery in Collaboration with Pregones Theatre, Presents:

“Tango, Never Before Midnight” Photographs by Adriana Groisman – Opening Reception

@ Pregones Theatre

575 Walton Avenue

Bronx, NY

© Adriana Groisman

To view more of Adriana’s work please visit: http://www.adrianagroisman.com/

For more information please visit:http://www.enfoco.org/index.php/photographers/photographer/groisman_adriana/

Thursday, May 6th, 2010 – 6:30pm

APA and PhotoShelter Present “Get Found: SEO for Photography Websites”

@ Calumet

22 West 22nd Street

New York, NY

Cost: Free to APA members; $10 for non-members

From the website:

“In this Session PhotoShelter co-founder and CEO Allen Murabayashi demonstrates why SEO is so important to photographers and walks participants through the basic principles that photographers must know if they care about getting found by Google Search.”

For more information and to register please visit: http://www.apanational.com/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3294

Also Thursday, May 6th, 2010 – 6pm – 9pm

BIG ED Student & Faculty Present: Print Swap Day

@ Foto Care

43 West 22nd Street

New York, NY

From the flyer:

“The print swap is an activity that has a long and celebrated history in college and university photography programs. Swappers bring 3-5 un-mounted prints of a single image and offer them in trade for the work of others. It’s a great way to begin a photography collection, make contacts, network, and get your work out into the community.”

For more information please contact Colin Bron Imaging at: cking@bronimaging.com and visit their website: http://www.bronimaging.com/

Saturday, May 8th, 2010 – 7:30pm – 8:30pm

“13 Living Breathing Models, Turkish Violin, Wine, Edible Flowers”

Photographer Sarah Small, who was part of the March bulletin when we featured photographers who shoot music and dance, will be hosting this event at a private residence in DUMBO! The event will also be streamed live via the internet on Tableau Vivant Channel: http://www.ustream.tv/user/LivingPicture

Sarah will also be @ The Apple Store in Soho on Wednesday, May 12th as part of the Image Makers Lecture Series (see below), along with another of my favorite photographers Jason Florio, who also happens to be the subject of my next month’s ChatterCorner article for PhotoServe.

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Parsons BFA Photography Exhibition Opening

Exhibition up thru Friday, May 21st, 2010

@ Calumet

22 West 22nd Street, 2nd Floor

New York, NY

For more information please visit: http://www.newschool.edu/pressroom/pressreleases/2010/parsonsthesis.aspx

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010 – 6:30pm – 8pm

APANY Image Makers Lecture Series with Sarah Small & Jason Florio

@ SoHo Apple Theatre

103 Prince Street

New York, NY

Cost: Free (seating is limited so get there early!)

Certainly two of my favorite photographers and what promises to be a great evening – Sarah came to me as a client a few years ago and from that moment I was a big fan of her work. I have watched her grow and recently attended her first solo show. Jason is a fellow Brit and a friend of mine, and was also one of the very first photographers on the original Chatterbox website. Jason will be the subject of my next article for PhotoServe’s Surveillance section, so watch for that in next month’s bulletin.

© Sarah Small

http://www.sarahsmall.com/

© Jason Florio

http://www.floriophoto.com/

For more information please visit: http://www.apanational.com/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3294

Wednesday, May 12th – Sunday, May 16th, 2010 – 12pm

NY Photo Festival

@ DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY

For more information please visit: http://www.nyphotofestival.com/site/

Thursday, May 13th, 2010 – 10am

Parsons The New School For Design Portfolio Review Day

@ Parsons The New School For Design

66 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY

Louisa J. Curtis will be reviewing portfolios!

From the email invitation:

“For the past eight years, a diverse group of professionals in the field have reviewed our graduating seniors’ portfolios. This year’s graduating class consists of over 50 students with work ranging from portraiture, fashion, photojournalism, environmental, landscape, conceptual, and documentary; from fine art to editorial. Their portfolios have been developed and refined into professional presentations through individual critiques by their Senior Thesis advisors.”

For more information please visit: http://www.newschool.edu/parsons/events.aspx

Saturday, May 15th, 2010 – 6pm – 11pm

New York Slideluck Potshow XV

@ Manhattan Bridge Archway

Brooklyn, NY

Slideluck Potshow is part of the New York Photo Festival this year and the submissions deadline has been extended until Tuesday, May 4th! The theme of the slideshow is “Bridges”.

From the flyer:

“On Saturday, May 15th, we will be teaming up with the New York Photo Festival for Slideluck Potshow XV.  The projection will take place outdoors, in Dumbo, Brooklyn beneath the Manhattan Bridge Archway – an epic public space that just reopened after nearly 20 years.”

Continuing on with our “healthy eating theme” this Slideluck Potshow is out to set a Guinness World Record!

“Who’s ready to break a world record?  It is with great excitement that we announce that at this event we will be working together to claim The Guinness Book of World Records for the Largest Potluck on Earth.  Who do we have to beat?  A potluck that brought together 602 individual dishes in Phoenix, AZ and was sponsored by Promise margarine.  As mentioned before, this potluck is about local, seasonal ingredients, so let’s not only kick Promise’s fat yellow ass, let’s do it with real food!  In doing so, we will not only be sending a message out about healthy, sustainable food systems, but we’ll have a feast of historical proportions.”

For more information please visit: http://network.slideluckpotshow.com/events/slps-xv-new-york-city

Monday, May 17th, 2010 – 6:30pm

APA Presents: Social Media Marketing Seminar

Lead by Jason Moriber of Wise Elephant

@ Calumet

22 West 22nd Street

New York, NY

Cost: Free to the first 25 APA members!; $10 APA members; $15 for non-members

From the website:

“This seminar will provide useful background on the social media arena (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more), offer tactical and strategic advice, delve into some case studies, and offer short and long term action items to help your marketing take advantage of these digital arenas.”

For more information and to register please visit: http://www.apanational.com/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3294

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 – 6pm

The Copyright Society of the USA Presents: Licensing in the Digital Age: Deals, Risks, and Challenges in Physical and Virtual Media

@ Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP

1375 Broadway, 23rd Floor (located at 37th & Broadway)

New York, NY

Must use registration form. Registration deadline is Wednesday, May 12th, 2010!

From the invite:

“Licensing is a powerful tool generating billions in revenue. However, the risks and complexities of licensing have multiplied in recent years as new technologies have created new marketing platforms in the physical and virtual worlds. To help you understand, navigate and succeed in this new marketplace, the Copyright Society of the U.S.A. has assembled a distinguished panel of licensing practitioners that will provide you the practical guidance you need.”

For more information please visit: http://www.csusa.org/

Wednesday, May 19th – 7pm

NY Monthly Photo Salon

@ SoHo Photo

15 White Street

New York, NY

Cost: $10 at the door

For more information or questions please contact Rich Pomerantz at rich@richpomerantz.com, Emmanuel Faure at emmanuel@emmanuelfaure.com or Bill Westheimer at bill@billwest.com.

Monday, May 24th – Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

PDN’s Focus On Wedding + Portrait Photography Virtual Event

From the website:

“Focus on Wedding and Portrait Photography is a FREE online expo for imaging professionals brought to you by PDN PhotoPlus Virtual Events. Over two days, You will be inspired by different wedding shoot approaches, refine marketing techniques, and get tips to run a profitable business by increasing client purchases, mastering the art of album sales, and find the best suppliers for your needs.”

For more information please visit: http://pdnphotography.veplatform.com/uc/registration-short-form.php?

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 – 6pm

ASMPNY: Fine Art Portfolio Review

@ Calumet

22 West 22nd Street

New York, NY

For more information please visit: http://www.asmpny.org/#review_2010

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Social Media Plus – A Web 2.0 Business Summit

@ Pennsylvania Convention Center

Philadelphia, PA

From the website:

“SocialMediaPlus is a one-day event will take place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and we’ll have 28 seminars with real-world topics that will help you walk away with a real understanding on how to implement Social Media strategies inside your company.  You will hear from marketing directors, technology professionals, and social media experts, and they’ll tell you how they’ve used social media to build brand, interact with customers, and generate revenue.”

For more information please visit: http://www.socialmediaplus.com/

Possessions


© Louisa J. Curtis

You may remember the image of the single snowdrop in the last bulletin that so beautifully illustrated the end of winter, survival and the beginning of spring? Well, not only does the Earth sign of Taurus have green fingers in the garden, they are also natural healers, making use of the plants they grow. So I thought I would share another “miracle of nature” with you and one, which perfectly demonstrates that for every ailment and physical complaint out there, Mother Nature has provided us with a cure. A few days ago I noticed that the nasty little dry patch of skin in between two of my fingers had returned once again. It does this periodically so I applied some medicinal hand crème in the hopes it would go away. However, it didn’t really help, and then I remembered, silly me, I have an Aloe Vera plant! For those of you that do not have an Aloe plant, I highly recommend that you get one, they are very easy to grow, require little maintenance, and it’s easy to take cuttings in order to start another plant for somebody else. So anyway, I took a piece of the Aloe, opened it up to get to the slimy inside and rubbed a generous amount in between my fingers. By the next morning, the redness, dry patches and irritation had completely, not partially, but completely gone away and the skin was soft and smooth again. Pretty amazing!

I decided to make this month’s theme Possessions because the sign of Taurus is also known to enjoy beautiful objects of all kinds – animal, vegetable and mineral alike! For me, the topic of possessions brings up some interesting thoughts and emotions. On a humorous note, some of you may recall the late, great comedian George Carlin’s classic and brilliant sketch on “Stuff.”

I laugh every time I hear him talk about this particular topic, especially coming from a family of semi-hoarders, or should I say, “collectors.” In a slightly different version to the one on YouTube I remember it was so brilliant the way he began with the stuff we collect as a child, followed by the stuff we need when we leave home and go to college, and then we get married and move completely away from home and get even more new stuff, and yet we still have the original stuff stored at our parents, and it might and usually does stay there for years, even until our parents die. Well, my sister and I certainly got to experience that one last year after our mother had died. As I said, we come from a family of collectors.

Our mother came from both a Scottish and a wartime tradition of “not wasting” and “never throwing anything out.” This was evidenced some years back after our Great Aunt died and we had to clear out her house in London. We discovered she had literally saved everything. We found bundles marked “new dusters” and others marked “old dusters.” There were hidden treasures in all sorts of funny places. Aunt Bell was a very special and important figure in the family and someone with whom our mother found much solace and spent a lot of time with, especially when she was younger. Everyone deferred to her, and with good reason. When she died, I was going through the breakup of a long relationship and it was a terribly hard time for me, losing both my best friend and my favorite Great Aunt. I was in such a state that my sister had to come and pick me up and drive us both up to London for the funeral, and we managed to get lost, arriving late at the crematorium! The look on our mother’s face when we finally drove into the car park! Some time after that, my mother and I completed the house-clearing and I remember driving back in the big old Transit van we had hired, accompanied by my best friend Rowena, while my mother drove back in her little Mini, which was also stuffed to the gills with precious heirlooms, a lot of china and several plants. I think it would be safe to say that much of what we brought back from London was put away and not seen or touched again, except for a few little items that were discreetly sold when money was tight.

After my sister and I had dealt with our mother’s funeral last year, our next job was to finish clearing her cottage in preparation for sale. She had lived there for 40 years, almost half of her entire life, and we knew that there was no way we could allow anyone else but the two of us to go through all of her belongings. I spent an entire month in England with my sister working on the house, and still we did not completely finish the task. If I thought my Great Aunt’s house was bad, Mum’s was just as, if not more so! When you find baskets of silverware hidden under the woodpile in the lean-to, you know right away that you cannot leave any stone (or log) unturned, as it were. We literally had to go through every single drawer, every cupboard and every pocket with a fine toothcomb. What an inexplicable experience and an emotional roller coaster that month was, but for some reason, the Gods decided to help us out a little and if one of us was having a “rough” day, the other would be feeling stronger and therefore take charge, and we never really had a day where we were both struggling, it simply went back and forth.

What my sister and I also discovered is that not only did we have all of out mother’s possessions to go through, of course there was the “stuff” that had been hidden away after Aunt Bell died, plus some items from our Grandmother and, even harder still, we found all of our childhood memories that had been stored in the attic and again, not touched since our parents divorced and we moved into the cottage. Some days it was simply awful and others we laughed helplessly until we cried, and literally peed in our pants. I remember one particular day, after we had collapsed yet again in fits of uncontrollable giggles on the sitting-room floor in the middle of rescuing a baby rook that was stuck in the porch (that’s another story for another day!), she said to me, “I don’t think I have ever heard you laugh like that?” The laughter and the tears were so deep and primal, it came from a different place altogether and was in many ways, extremely cathartic.

While we sold quite a lot of things, gave away others and took numerous bags of clothes and books to charity, the truth of the matter is that we still have a lot of “stuff” that we kept, that we really couldn’t bear to let go of. As we stacked the “sell” “store” & “save” piles, and the “mine” & “yours” piles, we never really fought over anything. We divided it fairly and were united as a team throughout the process. In particular, any special items or photographs connected with our ancestors in Scotland that might lend clues to our family history had to be kept, at all costs. So now, some of this “extra stuff” is currently stored in a gracious friend’s garage (who not surprisingly and thankfully is a Taurus!), because neither my sister nor I have room to take any of it, at least not until we live somewhere larger!

My mother, my sister & I circa the mid 1990’s

In closing, and even though in England where we grew up, this holiday takes place in the month of March, in continued memory of our mother, whom we miss a whole lot, let us not forget that here in the U.S. it is Mother’s Day on May 9th. So to all of you “mums” out there and to all those of us whose mothers are no longer with us – Happy Mother’s Day!