ChatterLog July 2010

Greetings everyone, and welcome to the July ChatterBulletin, and to the season of Summer, which began officially on June 21st, the day of the Summer Solstice. The word “Solstice” literally means, “the Sun stands still.” And so it is, on June 21st, the Sun, having reached its highest point in the sky, pauses before continuing on his journey towards the Autumnal Equinox, followed by the Winter Solstice, during which time we will lose one minute of light each day. But that’s a long way off, so let’s stick with the present and this month’s theme, which is Motherhood & Family.

Motherhood & Family

The Three of Us, Scotland, July 1995

Why “motherhood & family” you might ask? Well, July now brings us to the sign of Cancer, who is also referred to as the Archetypical “mother” of the zodiac. Look around you and notice just how many women are walking around with big pregnant bellies at this time of year, all preparing to give birth to a new batch of summer babies. For some reason, I always notice that the women on the Weather Channel are usually pregnant at this time of year as well! And let’s face it, humans are still animals, so in the colder months of the fall & winter, we “mate” and we make babies. I remember years ago in the early 1970’s in England we went through a series of government imposed “power cuts” during yet another “oil crisis.” People were forced to work 3 or even 2-day workweeks and the power was limited, so we were without electricity for countless nights. My mother and I spent many of those evenings playing scrabble by candlelight. And while we were busy playing word-games, others who were also without their TV’s, were busy in bed playing other sorts of hanky-panky games! So not surprisingly, the national population increased noticeably as a result – and I’m not making that up!

As some of you may recall from reading my previous bulletins, my sister and I lost our mother last year. Born on July 14th, our mother was a Cancer! And true to her sign, the crab, she loved the water and being by the sea. Cancer is the sign that says, “I Feel” and because “water” is connected with emotions, they are all about what or how they feel. Their moods are as varied and unpredictable as the ocean itself and just like the crab they protect their vulnerable emotional side with a hard exterior shell. Some of you may also know that July 14th is Bastille Day, a national holiday celebrated by the French to commemorate the storming of the Bastille Prison during the French Revolution in the year 1789. This event was seen as a symbol of the uprising of a modern nation, bringing justice and equity to all instead of just the rich and the royal. Shortly after the storming of the Bastille, on August 4th Feudalism was abolished and on August 26th the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” was proclaimed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bastille_Day

But back to our theme and Cancer, the “mother-figure” of the zodiac and for whom the qualities of listening and nurturing come naturally. A mother nurtures her children and takes care of the family’s needs, and does a mother not have to listen to everyone else’s opinions and complaints as to why their little brother gets away with everything and who ate the last cookie anyway? Our Great Aunt Bell (who was our grandmother’s sister and our mother’s Aunt) was the unofficial “head” of the family and the one we all deferred to. She too was a Cancer and it is no big surprise to my sister and I that she and our mother were so close as they had a natural “identification” with one another. Both were strong women whose circumstances had required of them to employ some creative survival techniques at times. Perhaps they were also frugal as most Scotts can certainly be but they knew how to “stretch a dollar” as they say. And, their natural ability to listen also meant that many lost souls would gravitate to their doorsteps. I recall many a troubled teenager or confused adult who would seek refuge and advice from both Aunt Bell and our mother. Mum was always interested in other people’s lives, and she could in fact, be downright nosey at times, but she found people and their stories fascinating (as do I) and so visitors were graciously met with something to eat, drink and a listening ear to absorb and give advice on their assorted problems. After all of the stories she heard over the years, she would generally remark that it all usually boiled down to one of two things (sometimes both) and that was sex and money!

Click here to read the rest of the ChatterLog!

© Christopher Auger-Dominguez

http://www.studiofourb.com/family/family

Over the years family and motherhood have taken on other meanings for me besides the direct link to my own mother. It may have been a “surrogate” mother figure or “auntie” that helped to fill that role of listener or gave me a shoulder to lean on when I needed it, or perhaps a particular teacher or mentor who helped to guide me along the way. Sometimes we might feel closer to other families than to our own, and maybe we create our own family of assorted creatures who need to belong and feel loved. As a good friend of mine says, “Fathers I may have many, but mothers I have only one.” And certainly, as crazy as our own mother could drive us at times (like all mothers!) she was our “one and only” mother who guided us the best she knew how through the maze of life and we miss her a lot. Now, she is no doubt looking down on us and hopefully continuing to feel proud of her daughters. And one more thought on motherhood which is so beautifully illustrated by this image from Christopher Auger-Dominguez, and that is “family” is about those that love you. So if it takes the form of two mothers, or even two fathers, it is about providing a loving and nurturing home to a child or children in need. So wishing all of you nurturing Cancers out there a very Happy Birthday!

ChatterArtists July 2010

Continuing on with the theme of “family” this month we are showcasing photographers who shoot maternity and family portraiture, with an emphasis on the bond between mother and child.

Koren Reyes

First up is a client of mine from a couple of years ago, photographer Koren Reyes, who has taken the “maternity” genre and primarily (although not exclusively) focused her business on that. You can imagine how wonderful it is for the mothers-to-be to have such beautiful and artistic images to remember their pregnancies by, (especially when the kid reaches the “terrible twos” and is driving her crazy!) and this image is no exception.

© Koren Reyes

http://korenreyes.com/

Sandrine Flint

Sandrine Flint is married to my Florida-based client Stephen Flint, and while he continues to build his commercial and advertising business, Sandrine focuses on the children & family consumer portraiture. I really love her fresh and relaxed style. It is fittingly very “Florida” – full of light, life and laughter and we particularly loved this image of the pregnant mother in a natural environment.

© Sandrine Flint

http://www.flintimages.net/

Sue Barr

I met Sue Barr a few years ago when she came and showed her work at one of the New York Photo Salons. Sue shoots a very loose and natural style of “family life” imagery and is currently signed with agents and my friends, Watson & Spierman. We loved the simplicity of this charming image of a mother breastfeeding her infant.

© Sue Barr

http://www.suebarr.com/

Notice that up until this point, not surprisingly, the photographers who shoot babies, kids and families are usually women. However, there are men who shoot this challenging demographic as well.

Christopher Auger-Dominguez came to me a couple of years ago and we worked on his 2 different websites, one for his commercial and editorial work, and the other for his consumer portraiture. One of my favorite styles of portraiture from him is the conceptual work – as seen in this hilarious shot of husband & wife with the baby in the clouds!

© Christopher Auger-Dominguez

http://www.studiofourb.com/family/family

Dana Serling

Dana Serling is a more recent client of mine, who is new to both photography as her chosen profession and to New York City, having recently moved here from Chicago. Talk about “Six Degrees Of Separation” – Dana is good friends with Rose, who happens to be one of the Burlesque dancers that my client Callie Lipkin has photographed and, Rose is the one in the image that we picked for my article on Callie for PhotoServe – the girl in the dryer! Dana likes to shoot “natural” imagery that is not always as posed and we loved this cute family group shot.

© Dana Serling

http://www.doodlebugphoto.com/

Jade Albert

Next up we have Jade Albert, and we chose this perhaps less-obvious family lifestyle image in the end because we love the intimacy of the moment between mother and child. Be sure to also check out Jade’s recent work on the pageant princesses! If you have even watched “Toddlers & Tiaras” on TV, then you already know that these kids are a piece of work, but it is the pageant mothers to watch out for!

© Jade Albert

http://www.jadealbert.com/

Tony Wood

And last, but by no means least, I wanted to show another client of mine from a few years ago, Tony Wood, who is based in Philadelphia. Tony shoots environmental portraiture and over the years he has shot many portraits of families that are not necessarily as “commercial” looking as some of the others, nor geared to the consumer market, but they still give an interesting as well as artistic insight into the family dynamic.

© Tony Wood

http://www.anthonywoodphotography.com/

ChatterCorner July 2010

Katvan Studios

You may recall the Katvans from last month’s bulletin when we featured photographers who work together as couples or partners. My latest ChatterCorner article for the Surveillance section of PhotoServe is also about this charming duo, so check out the full article to learn more about the two of them and how they work.

© Katvan Studios

http://www.katvan.com

Click here to read the full article:http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/content_display/photoserve/surveillance/e3i9b6b41a3894c84cf66798b80fe31a048

ChatterNews July 2010

Christopher Auger-Dominguez

Christopher, who is one of the ChatterArtist’s this month, was also selected as one of the Finalists in PDN’s annual “Faces” Contest for his Superhero Series. Congrats!

© Christopher Auger-Dominguez

The Photo Closer

Frank Meo is a photo agent and friend of mine and he has just launched a new venture to help photographers with certain aspects of their business, such as estimating & negotiating, production & billing, that they may not feel as comfortable or confident in handling, or maybe they don’t have the time. Enter “The Photo Closer” – check out the website to read more about the services Frank is offering.

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

SPE

SPE invites applications for the position of editor for its scholarly journal exposure. The editor of SPEʼs journal is responsible for the overall content and production of the bi-annual publication. The ideal candidate will be able to provide a balanced mixture of timely and thoughtful articles and features relevant to SPEʼs constituency of artists, scholars, and photo-based professionals. Send a letter of application, resume, sample publications, one letter of support for your application, and contact information for three additional professional references to: Virginia Morrison, Executive Director – Society for Photographic Education – SPE National Office – 2530 Superior Avenue, #403 – Cleveland, OH 44114; vmorrison@spenational.org. Application materials may be submitted via mail or email only. No calls please. Review of applications begins immediately and will continue until the position is filled. The anticipated start date will be late in 2010 or early in 2011, with the new editorʼs first issue coming out in the fall of 2011.

For more information about SPE please visit: http://www.spenational.org

Free Events in and around NYC

One of the things I love about New York City is the wonderful variety of free summer activities that appeal to all different sorts of people and all ages. To start with, the city pools are open once more (yippee!) and I am thrilled to be able to pop round the corner and swim every day in that beautiful cool water – especially as we are in the middle of heat wave! I was worried that my precious pool was going to be one of the four that Mayor Bloomberg was threatening to close this year (he ended up closing 3 outdoor pools!) but thankfully, ours was “safe” and I will be there faithfully until it closes in September!

One rather clever idea for this summer came from the non-profit arts group “Sing For Hope” who placed 60 brightly decorated pianos around the greater New York City area so that anyone could come up and sit and play, should they feel like it. Volunteers unlocked them at 9am each day and then they were wrapped in plastic and locked back up again each night. I happen to live next door to the Little Red Schoolhouse in Greenwich Village and sure enough, we had one of the pianos right outside on the sidewalk amongst the trees & benches. It is really fun to walk past on any given day to hear someone tapping away at the keys. So far I have witnessed a complete range of pianists, from young to old, jazz to classical but unfortunately their two-week run is about to end, at which point the pianos will be donated to schools & hospitals. Check out someone playing one of them on YouTube:

And here are a few more suggestions for free events in and around the city this summer. For instance, there is nothing quite like listening to live music in the “open air” and last week, I was fortunate enough to hear legendary blues guitarist John Hammond, play with his band at Battery City Park. My friend, who has known John for years, and I spent a wonderful evening sitting by the water with old friends, a beautiful view and great music. It was sunny and warm but with a breeze coming off the water and was simply one of those perfect New York evenings.

John Hammond

© Louisa J. Curtis

More Free Events in and around NYC

South Street Seaport Music Festival

http://www.southstreetseaport.com/events

Governor’s Island events

http://www.govisland.com

http://govislandblog.com/schedule-of-events


Central Park


NY Philharmonic

http://www.centralpark.com/pages/activities/concerts/new-york-philharmonic.html

Central Park concerts are Tuesday, July 13th & Wednesday, July 14th, 2010 – followed by the other boroughs

http://nyphil.org/attend/summer/index.cfm?page=parks

Metropolitan Opera

http://www.centralpark.com/pages/activities/concerts/metropolitan-opera.html

Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital is on Monday, July 12th, 2010

http://www.centralpark.com/events/show/1018/met-opera-summer-recital-in-central-park

Summerstage

http://www.centralpark.com/pages/activities/concerts/summerstage-festival.html

http://www.summerstage.org/

Shakespeare in the Park

http://centralparkblogger.com/2010/05/shakespeare-in-the-park-2010/

http://www.publictheater.org/

http://www.publictheater.org/content/view/126/219/

The Winter’s Tale or The Merchant of Venice (Al Pacino is playing Shylock)

City Parks

Summer on the Hudson

http://www.nycgovparks.org/events/summer_on_the_hudson

Free Concerts

http://www.nycgovparks.org/events/free_summer_concerts

Free Movies

http://www.nycgovparks.org/events/free_summer_movies

ChatterTip of the Month July 2010

Natural Remedies for Stomach Problems

© Adriana Mullen

http://www.adrianamullenphotography.com/

The sign of Cancer rules over the stomach (as well as the breasts) so it is not unusual for people born under this sign to have stomach problems. Cancers usually have a noticeable belly and may also be prone to bloating. Indigestion is a general term that usually refers to anything from our old friend the hiccups to heartburn, abdominal discomfort and stomachaches, nausea and flatulence. Some of this can be avoided simply by eating more healthy and slower, but here are a few “natural” remedies for some of these common complaints.

Bloating & Gas

The following vegetables are supposed to help with bloating – Celery, Cilantro, Cucumber, Dandelion Root,Watercress (notice the high “water” content in all of these and that the word “water” is even in one them! Remember, Cancer is after all, a “water” sign so drink lots of it!), and a more surprising one on the list is Artichoke!

The fruit Papaya also contains an enzyme that helps to break down fiber (something that can cause gas & bloating if it is not digested well) and Charcoal is also excellent for reducing gas.

Nausea

Ginger has long been known to help calm nausea from pregnancy (back to Cancer’s belly again!) and it is also great for calming the stomach even if you are not pregnant! It can also be used to help ease motion and travel sickness. One word of advice – always have something containing “effervescence” in the pantry, whether it is Club Soda, Seltzer Water, Ginger Ale or even Beer! (Hops for instance, are also used to ease spasms for sufferers of Crohn’s Disease) Drink enough of it (not just a little sip) so that the bubbles force you to belch, which will make you feel a whole lot better! This is good for both nausea as well as bloating & gas and I am sure that many of us recall our mothers giving us Ginger Ale when we had a sick tummy?

Digestion

Apparently, eating ½ a cup of Sauerkraut each day eases digestion, and ¼ teaspoon a day of Horseradish will detox the body, while a few dashes of Hot Sauce curbs the appetite! Less spicy is the fruit Pineapple that contains an enzyme (Bromelin) which is known to help break down food, thus aiding digestion. Drinking a tea made from Peppermint leaves relieves indigestion (I always keep a box of peppermint tea bags on hand) whilst Cilantro also aids the digestion and helps to prevent nausea as well as easing stomach ulcers. And what would a ChatterTip section be without mentioning our good old faithful friend Vinegar, which once again is so incredible that it can be used to fight food-borne infections as seen by Ethiopian researchers who found that it was champion at killing the nearly invincible egg-stage of certain intestinal parasites. Also, drinking a mixture of warm Vinegar & a little Honey in a cup of hot water can help to ease the digestion as well.

Constipation

Eating plenty of “fiber” in the diet and drinking plenty of fluids is usually suggested to help avoid sluggish bowels and constipation. Personally, I drink a healthy smoothie every day, containing (amongst other ingredients) ground Flax Seeds, an excellent source of fiber. Rhubarb apparently contains a natural laxative while dried fruits such as Plums/Prunes, Figs & Apricots have a very high fiber content. I remember years ago when we were on holiday in the South of Spain and my mother and I discovered a fresh fig tree near the villa we were staying in. Well, we both loved fresh figs and we stuffed ourselves. Plucked fresh from the tree, they were absolutely delicious but we did spend rather a lot of time in the bathroom as a consequence!

Diarrhea

Ripe, mashed Bananas ease nausea and act as a gentle “constipant” after a bout of gastroenteritis. They also help to restore the healthy bacteria to the intestines and increase the levels of depleted Potassium. Carrot juice or soup is also helpful, especially for infants. Live Yoghourt (Acidopholus) will also help to restore the live bacteria to the stomach and digestive tracts. A few drops of Myrrh tincture in a little warm water helps to relieve the symptoms of diarrhea and once again, Honey is a natural antibiotic as well as a natural anti-inflammatory.

ChatterRecipe of the Month July 2010

Crab Cakes

© Adriana Mullen

http://www.adrianamullenphotography.com/

Yeah, I know it is a bit obvious having a crab cake recipe when Cancer is the sign of the crab – but I just happen to love crab cakes and this recipe is from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. After checking some of the “reviews” online, there are obviously some die-hard crab cake eaters out there as some people felt it was not a true crab cake recipe like a Maryland one perhaps? In any event, recipes can be tweaked, so if you want it to be more “crabby” then add more crabmeat, and if the mixture feels too “wet” then add some more breadcrumbs! Also, these can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready for frying.

For the Crab Cakes

2 tablespoons unsalted Butter

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

3/4 cup or 1 small Red Onion (small-diced)

1½ cups or 4 stalks of Celery (small-diced)

1 cup mixed Red & Yellow Peppers (small-diced)

¼ cup chopped Parsley

1 good tablespoon Capers (drained)

¼ teaspoon Tabasco or Hot Sauce

½ teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce

1½ teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

½ teaspoon Kosher Salt

½ teaspoon fresh ground Black Pepper

½ lb fresh lump Crabmeat (drained & picked to remove any shells)

½ cup plain dry Breadcrumbs

½ cup Mayonnaise

2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard

2 extra-large Eggs (beaten)

For Frying

4 tablespoons unsalted Butter

¼ cup Olive Oil

For the Remoulade Sauce

½ cup Mayonnaise (good quality)

2 tablespoons Pickles (small-diced)

1 teaspoon Mustard

1 tablespoon White Wine Vinegar

Salt & Pepper

Melt the 2 tablespoons of Butter & Olive Oil in a large skillet and cook the Red Onion, Celery & Red & Yellow Peppers together over a low heat. Add in the Capers,

Parsley, Hot Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, Old Bay Seasoning and the Salt & Pepper, and cook until the vegetables are soft (approx. 15-20 minutes). Cool this mixture to room temperature. In the meantime, in a large bowl break the Crabmeat into small pieces and mix it with the Breadcrumbs, Mayonnaise, Mustard & Eggs. Add in the cooled vegetables and mix well. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Shape into bite-size cakes for appetizers, larger for sandwiches or main course.

If you do choose to prepare these ahead of time, shape them into cakes and place on a baking sheet before covering with plastic wrap. Store overnight in the refrigerator and then fry right before you want to serve them.

To cook the Crab Cakes, heat the Butter & Olive Oil for frying in large pan over medium heat. Fry the Crab Cakes for about 4 -5 minutes on each side and then drain on paper towels before placing in a 250-degree oven to keep hot before serving.

To make the Remoulade Sauce, simply place all of the ingredients together in a food processor and pulse until the ingredients are well-mixed but not pureed. If you don’t have a food processor, then chop the pickles nice and small before mixing together with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.

ChatterEvents July 2010

CPW Events

The Center for Photography at Woodstock is hosting a number of events this month, including this month’s Slideluck Potshow (details below).

For more information on these events please visit: http://www.cpw.org/WPW/2010/pages/July.html

Adorama Events

Sunday, July 11th, 2010 – 1pm – 4pm

Diana+ Dialogues Workshop and Safari

With Hans Henley from Lomography USA

@ Adorama

42 West 18th Street, 5th Floor

New York, NY

Cost: $25. Registration deadline is Wednesday, July 7th!

From the website:

“Whether you’re brand new to Lomographic cameras or a seasoned professional, you’re sure to gain a wealth of knowledge about this fabulous camera, the dynamic Lomography community, their photographic beliefs and practices, and their very special dedication to creative analog photography.”

For more information please visit: http://www.adorama.com/catalog.tpl?op=WS_Lomographic_071110

Monday, July 12th, 2010 – 10am – 4pm

Doug Gordon: Posing is Back and It’s This Year’s Black!

Photographer & Instructor for High Fashion, High Glamour Weddings

42 West 18th Street, 5th Floor

New York, NY

Cost: $75. Registration deadline is Thursday, July 8th.

From the website:

“Come on location with Doug Gordon as he brings you on a complete journey toward taking your photography and business to the next level, in his straight-forward, straight from the heart, inspirational style. You will be motivated, educated, challenged and entertained in a program that will completely transform the way you shoot. If you love speakers who are motivational and very funny, come to this class. Come because people learn best when they are laughing; because they need a motivational message; and because they need to have fun while they learn.”

http://www.douggordonworkshops.com

For more information please visit: http://www.adorama.com/catalog.tpl?op=WS_DougGordon_071210

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Blogging for Photographers: Using Blogging to Grow Your Business

With Andrew Fingerman, VP of Marketing for PhotoShelter

@ Adorama

42 West 18th Street, 5th Floor

New York, NY

Cost: FREE. Must RSVP through PhotoShelter at: seoevent@photoshelter.com

From the website:

“Smart photographers of all kinds are using blogs to help grow their website traffic, deepen client relationships, and build a bigger following. During this presentation, we will explore different strategies, resources, and success stories to help make blogging work for you.”

For more information please visit: http://www.adorama.com/catalog.tpl?op=WS_AndrewFingerman_071510

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 – 6:30pm

Facts For Keeping New Babies Safe by Pregnant New Yorker

@ Yummy Mummy

1201 Lexington Avenue

New York, NY

Cost: $15 in advance; $20 at the door.

For more information and to register please visit: http://www.thepregnantnewyorker.com/ and http://yummymummystore.com/

Wednesday, July 14th – Saturday, July 17th, 2010

ICON6 “Sunny Side Up” Illustration Conference 2010

@ Langham Hotel

1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue

Pasadena, CA 91106

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

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Slideluck Potshow

@ Center for Photography at Woodstock

59 Tinker Street

Woodstock, NY 12498

For more information please visit: http://network.slideluckpotshow.com/xn/detail/2028077:Event:56757

Monday, July 19th – Friday, July 23rd, 2010 10am – 6pm

The Association Of Photographers (AOP) Gallery Print Fair 2010

@ 81 Leonard Street

London EC2A 4QS

From the website:

“The AOP Gallery is preparing for another Print Fair due to the success of last September’s AOP Print Fair 2009. The Print Fair will feature the remaining selected images from last year, which were uncollected images from our various Awards schemes and group exhibitions. All images have been produced by both established and emerging photographers, all of whom are members of the Association of Photographers.”

For more information please visit: http://gallery.the-aop.org/

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 – 6:30pm

ASPP NY Chapter Summer Garden Party

@ Bridgeman Art Library

65 East 93rd Street

New York, NY

Cost: FREE for ASPP members; $25 for guests; $5 for students. Must RSVP by Monday, July 19th.

Also Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 – 6:30pm

NY Monthly Photo Salon

@ SoHo Studio

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.

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 – 1pm – 6pm

Miami Ad School Summer Portfolio Review

@ Team One

1960 E. Grand Avenue, 7th Floor, Suite 700

El Segundo, CA

For more information please visit: http://blog.miamiadschool.com/

Motherhood & Family

Motherhood & Family

The Three of Us, Scotland, July 1995

Why “motherhood & family” you might ask? Well, July now brings us to the sign of Cancer, who is also referred to as the Archetypical “mother” of the zodiac. Look around you and notice just how many women are walking around with big pregnant bellies at this time of year, all preparing to give birth to a new batch of summer babies. For some reason, I always notice that the women on the Weather Channel are usually pregnant at this time of year as well! And let’s face it, humans are still animals, so in the colder months of the fall & winter, we “mate” and we make babies. I remember years ago in the early 1970’s in England we went through a series of government imposed “power cuts” during yet another “oil crisis.” People were forced to work 3 or even 2-day workweeks and the power was limited, so we were without electricity for countless nights. My mother and I spent many of those evenings playing scrabble by candlelight. And while we were busy playing word-games, others who were also without their TV’s, were busy in bed playing other sorts of hanky-panky games! So not surprisingly, the national population increased noticeably as a result – and I’m not making that up!

As some of you may recall from reading my previous bulletins, my sister and I lost our mother last year. Born on July 14th, our mother was a Cancer! And true to her sign, the crab, she loved the water and being by the sea. Cancer is the sign that says, “I Feel” and because “water” is connected with emotions, they are all about what or how they feel. Their moods are as varied and unpredictable as the ocean itself and just like the crab they protect their vulnerable emotional side with a hard exterior shell. Some of you may also know that July 14th is Bastille Day, a national holiday celebrated by the French to commemorate the storming of the Bastille Prison during the French Revolution in the year 1789. This event was seen as a symbol of the uprising of a modern nation, bringing justice and equity to all instead of just the rich and the royal. Shortly after the storming of the Bastille, on August 4th Feudalism was abolished and on August 26th the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” was proclaimed.

But back to our theme and Cancer, the “mother-figure” of the zodiac and for whom the qualities of listening and nurturing come naturally. A mother nurtures her children and takes care of the family’s needs, and does a mother not have to listen to everyone else’s opinions and complaints as to why their little brother gets away with everything and who ate the last cookie anyway? Our Great Aunt Bell (who was our grandmother’s sister and our mother’s Aunt) was the unofficial “head” of the family and the one we all deferred to. She too was a Cancer and it is no big surprise to my sister and I that she and our mother were so close as they had a natural “identification” with one another. Both were strong women whose circumstances had required of them to employ some creative survival techniques at times. Perhaps they were also frugal as most Scotts can certainly be but they knew how to “stretch a dollar” as they say. And, their natural ability to listen also meant that many lost souls would gravitate to their doorsteps. I recall many a troubled teenager or confused adult who would seek refuge and advice from both Aunt Bell and our mother. Mum was always interested in other people’s lives, and she could in fact, be downright nosey at times, but she found people and their stories fascinating (as do I) and so visitors were graciously met with something to eat, drink and a listening ear to absorb and give advice on their assorted problems. After all of the stories she heard over the years, she would generally remark that it all usually boiled down to one of two things (sometimes both) and that was sex and money!

When our mother turned 70, my sister and I decided to take her back to her roots on a surprise birthday trip to Scotland. I say “surprise” but once we had instructed her to keep this particular week free, she didn’t let up for a minute. She was relentless in her questioning my sister as to where she might be going, and sneaky too in case she might be able to trick one of us into giving it away. “Am I leaving the country?” she would ask, or, “Can I take the dog with me?” Once she knew the dog was indeed coming with her, she figured it had to be the British Isles, and somewhere along the road she guessed it was Scotland. But she never expected the incredible lineup of treats that we had in store for her. As a child, she would accompany her grandmother on the train from London to Scotland to go and visit the three aunts who lived in the small town of Brechin, not far from Aberdeen. And so the idea for our trip was to take her back to where she had not visited since she was 15 years old! And, I must say, it was a truly wonderful and remarkable experience that we pulled off, probably one of the best birthday presents two daughters could have ever given their mother as a demonstration of their love and gratitude for all that she had done for them.

It would take far too long to write about the entire week this time around, but there were some wonderful pieces of the puzzle that all came together for us. For instance, we decided to rent a cottage instead of staying in several B&B’s because there were 3 of us plus 2 dogs! My sister was in charge of finding the accommodations and after weeks of not finding somewhere suitable, one evening, a brochure just happened to fall open at a page on which was listed a lovely little rental property called “Heatherbank Cottage.” Not only was it a perfect find and reasonably priced, it was also perfectly located in a tiny hamlet called “Tarfside” in Glen Esk, which just happened to be the name that our grandmother gave to her house in London and, Aunt Bell’s house around the corner from her was aptly named “Edzell” after the nearest little town to Tarfside, which was also just up the road from Brechin, where the great, great aunts had lived! Suddenly the trip started to take on a magical quality, and from that point on there were so many more subsequent events, encounters and explorations that we shared together for that one week that were simply brilliant. Another of the many extraordinary coincidences was the fact that my very best friend from childhood, Virginia, just happened to be living in the very same Glen that we were staying in, so we were able to spend some time with her as well. Now honestly, what are the chances of that happening?

The photo I am showing this month is of the three of us shortly after we had arrived at Heatherbank cottage after literally driving all day. Before we had even unpacked, we walked up the track behind the cottage to let the dogs run free. They thought they had died and gone to bunny heaven there were so many rabbits for them to chase! At the top of the track we paused, so proud that we had made it and so I balanced my camera on a fencepost and set the self-timer button – and there we are!


© Christopher Auger-Dominguez
http://www.studiofourb.com/family/family

Over the years family and motherhood have taken on other meanings for me besides the direct link to my own mother. It may have been a “surrogate” mother figure or “auntie” that helped to fill that role of listener or gave me a shoulder to lean on when I needed it, or perhaps a particular teacher or mentor who helped to guide me along the way. Sometimes we might feel closer to other families than to our own, and maybe we create our own family of assorted creatures who need to belong and feel loved. As a good friend of mine says, “Fathers I may have many, but mothers I have only one.” And certainly, as crazy as our own mother could drive us at times (like all mothers!) she was our “one and only” mother who guided us the best she knew how through the maze of life and we miss her a lot. Now, she is no doubt looking down on us and hopefully continuing to feel proud of her daughters. And one more thought on motherhood which is so beautifully illustrated by this image from Christopher Auger-Dominguez, and that is “family” is about those that love you. So if it takes the form of two mothers, or even two fathers, it is about providing a loving and nurturing home to a child or children in need. So wishing all of you nurturing Cancers out there a very Happy Birthday!

Motherhood & Family

Motherhood & Family

The Three of Us, Scotland, July 1995

Why “motherhood & family” you might ask? Well, July now brings us to the sign of Cancer, who is also referred to as the Archetypical “mother” of the zodiac. Look around you and notice just how many women are walking around with big pregnant bellies at this time of year, all preparing to give birth to a new batch of summer babies. For some reason, I always notice that the women on the Weather Channel are usually pregnant at this time of year as well! And let’s face it, humans are still animals, so in the colder months of the fall & winter, we “mate” and we make babies. I remember years ago in the early 1970’s in England we went through a series of government imposed “power cuts” during yet another “oil crisis.” People were forced to work 3 or even 2-day workweeks and the power was limited, so we were without electricity for countless nights. My mother and I spent many of those evenings playing scrabble by candlelight. And while we were busy playing word-games, others who were also without their TV’s, were busy in bed playing other sorts of hanky-panky games! So not surprisingly, the national population increased noticeably as a result – and I’m not making that up!

As some of you may recall from reading my previous bulletins, my sister and I lost our mother last year. Born on July 14th, our mother was a Cancer! And true to her sign, the crab, she loved the water and being by the sea. Cancer is the sign that says, “I Feel” and because “water” is connected with emotions, they are all about what or how they feel. Their moods are as varied and unpredictable as the ocean itself and just like the crab they protect their vulnerable emotional side with a hard exterior shell. Some of you may also know that July 14th is Bastille Day, a national holiday celebrated by the French to commemorate the storming of the Bastille Prison during the French Revolution in the year 1789. This event was seen as a symbol of the uprising of a modern nation, bringing justice and equity to all instead of just the rich and the royal. Shortly after the storming of the Bastille, on August 4th Feudalism was abolished and on August 26th the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” was proclaimed.

But back to our theme and Cancer, the “mother-figure” of the zodiac and for whom the qualities of listening and nurturing come naturally. A mother nurtures her children and takes care of the family’s needs, and does a mother not have to listen to everyone else’s opinions and complaints as to why their little brother gets away with everything and who ate the last cookie anyway? Our Great Aunt Bell (who was our grandmother’s sister and our mother’s Aunt) was the unofficial “head” of the family and the one we all deferred to. She too was a Cancer and it is no big surprise to my sister and I that she and our mother were so close as they had a natural “identification” with one another. Both were strong women whose circumstances had required of them to employ some creative survival techniques at times. Perhaps they were also frugal as most Scotts can certainly be but they knew how to “stretch a dollar” as they say. And, their natural ability to listen also meant that many lost souls would gravitate to their doorsteps. I recall many a troubled teenager or confused adult who would seek refuge and advice from both Aunt Bell and our mother. Mum was always interested in other people’s lives, and she could in fact, be downright nosey at times, but she found people and their stories fascinating (as do I) and so visitors were graciously met with something to eat, drink and a listening ear to absorb and give advice on their assorted problems. After all of the stories she heard over the years, she would generally remark that it all usually boiled down to one of two things (sometimes both) and that was sex and money!

When our mother turned 70, my sister and I decided to take her back to her roots on a surprise birthday trip to Scotland. I say “surprise” but once we had instructed her to keep this particular week free, she didn’t let up for a minute. She was relentless in her questioning my sister as to where she might be going, and sneaky too in case she might be able to trick one of us into giving it away. “Am I leaving the country?” she would ask, or, “Can I take the dog with me?” Once she knew the dog was indeed coming with her, she figured it had to be the British Isles, and somewhere along the road she guessed it was Scotland. But she never expected the incredible lineup of treats that we had in store for her. As a child, she would accompany her grandmother on the train from London to Scotland to go and visit the three aunts who lived in the small town of Brechin, not far from Aberdeen. And so the idea for our trip was to take her back to where she had not visited since she was 15 years old! And, I must say, it was a truly wonderful and remarkable experience that we pulled off, probably one of the best birthday presents two daughters could have ever given their mother as a demonstration of their love and gratitude for all that she had done for them.

It would take far too long to write about the entire week this time around, but there were some wonderful pieces of the puzzle that all came together for us. For instance, we decided to rent a cottage instead of staying in several B&B’s because there were 3 of us plus 2 dogs! My sister was in charge of finding the accommodations and after weeks of not finding somewhere suitable, one evening, a brochure just happened to fall open at a page on which was listed a lovely little rental property called “Heatherbank Cottage.” Not only was it a perfect find and reasonably priced, it was also perfectly located in a tiny hamlet called “Tarfside” in Glen Esk, which just happened to be the name that our grandmother gave to her house in London and, Aunt Bell’s house around the corner from her was aptly named “Edzell” after the nearest little town to Tarfside, which was also just up the road from Brechin, where the great, great aunts had lived! Suddenly the trip started to take on a magical quality, and from that point on there were so many more subsequent events, encounters and explorations that we shared together for that one week that were simply brilliant. Another of the many extraordinary coincidences was the fact that my very best friend from childhood, Virginia, just happened to be living in the very same Glen that we were staying in, so we were able to spend some time with her as well. Now honestly, what are the chances of that happening?

The photo I am showing this month is of the three of us shortly after we had arrived at Heatherbank cottage after literally driving all day. Before we had even unpacked, we walked up the track behind the cottage to let the dogs run free. They thought they had died and gone to bunny heaven there were so many rabbits for them to chase! At the top of the track we paused, so proud that we had made it and so I balanced my camera on a fencepost and set the self-timer button – and there we are!


© Christopher Auger-Dominguez
http://www.studiofourb.com/family/family

Over the years family and motherhood have taken on other meanings for me besides the direct link to my own mother. It may have been a “surrogate” mother figure or “auntie” that helped to fill that role of listener or gave me a shoulder to lean on when I needed it, or perhaps a particular teacher or mentor who helped to guide me along the way. Sometimes we might feel closer to other families than to our own, and maybe we create our own family of assorted creatures who need to belong and feel loved. As a good friend of mine says, “Fathers I may have many, but mothers I have only one.” And certainly, as crazy as our own mother could drive us at times (like all mothers!) she was our “one and only” mother who guided us the best she knew how through the maze of life and we miss her a lot. Now, she is no doubt looking down on us and hopefully continuing to feel proud of her daughters. And one more thought on motherhood which is so beautifully illustrated by this image from Christopher Auger-Dominguez, and that is “family” is about those that love you. So if it takes the form of two mothers, or even two fathers, it is about providing a loving and nurturing home to a child or children in need. So wishing all of you nurturing Cancers out there a very Happy Birthday!