Spring ChatterBulletin 2015

First Day of Spring 2015 Photoby Louisa J. Curtis
First Day of Spring 2015 Photo by Louisa J. Curtis

Greetings everyone and welcome to Spring… well almost… It still managed to snow here in New York on the very 1st day of Spring! And even yesterday, we had a few flakes in the morning… Everyone is “itching” to get outdoors again after months and months of cold, uninviting and miserable weather.

Events are starting to appear again on the calendars – including my own upcoming presentation for the Washington, DC Chapter of ASMP on Tuesday, April 7th!  So if you are in the neighborhood – we would love to see you there.

And, I will be holding one-on-one consultations the very next day Wednesday, April 8th.  I will also be offering a special discount to ASMP and Association members and event attendees! Here are some of the details:

ASMP DC Presents – Refresh Your Presentation And Reach The Right People! With Louisa J. Curtis of Chatterbox Enterprises

2015_0407_ASMP_DC-Event-Banner420Date and Time: Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Doors open @ 6:30pm Event 7pm-9pm
Location: StudiowerksDC
To Register for the Event: Click Here
To Book a Consultation: Tel: (646) 221-0206 Email: Louisa@chatterboxenterprises.com

Event Overview:
In this fun and informative presentation, marketing consultant Louisa J. Curtis of Chatterbox Enterprises covers everything from websites to promotions, personal projects and creating your own PR. Whether you are just starting out, or have been in business for a while, this seminar will inspire you to revamp your presentation and marketing – make it fresh, focused and more personal. With lots of visual examples and plenty of time for Q&A, you’ll walk away with a new enthusiasm for marketing your work and a solid understanding of how to communicate what you do in the best light possible.

PBNY -photobyMonicaCipnic PBNY-Monica3

Now if you are not able to catch this presentation, fear not, Chatterbox is still available for consulting sessions, no matter where you are located – thanks to the telephone and the Internet!

If you would like more information about this particular presentation and are interested in bringing it to your local Chapter and/or City, please contact Louisa at Tel: (646) 221-0206 Email: Louisa@chatterboxenterprises.com

 

 

Holiday ChatterBulletin 2014-2015

Holiday ChatterBulletin 2014-2015

Greenwich Village © 2010 Louisa J. Curtis

Season’s Greetings
To All My Clients, Colleagues, Family & Friends…

ChatterBox Enterprises
Appreciates Your Continued Support
And Wishes Everyone Well For 2015!

ChatterBox Events
After yet another successful photo panel discussion at Photo Plus Expo, be sure to watch out for announcements in the coming months for my solo seminar:

“Refresh Your Presentation And Reach The Right People” – Coming to an ASMP Chapter near you… soon!

ChatterBox Consulting
For inquiries regarding my consulting services – please email me at Louisa@chatterboxenterprises.com or call 646-221-0206

Aries: New Year, Spring & Horses – ChatterLog April 2014

Aries: New Year, Spring & Horses – ChatterLog April 2014

Aries, The Ram

Greetings everyone and welcome to the Spring 2014 ChatterBulletin! Remember last time I talked about January being the start of the “calendar” year, but in Astrology and Nature, New Year begins with the 1st sign of Spring – the sign of Aries, and the month of April. Spring (not winter) is the time of new life, and new growth in Nature. Notice we are just now beginning to come out of our “winter doldrums” and months of hibernation. The blooms and the blossoms are bursting through (finally), the weather is gradually warming up – well almost – and we hopefully have a little more energy. And I’m sure I speak for most New Yorkers here when I say we have had one of those very long winters and can’t wait for springtime!

Blooming Bleecker Street, NYC April 26, 2014 © Louisa J. Curtis

Speaking of Spring and the New Year, shortly after I sent out the Winter newsletter back in January, we also entered into the Chinese Lunar Calendar’s New Year, and The Year of the Horse, which is also my animal, being born in 1954. There are 12 animals in Chinese Astrology (just as there are 12 signs in Western Astrology) and the cycle of animals takes 12 years to complete. Consider this: I have completed 5 cycles, in Astrology Leo (which is my Sun Sign) is the 5th Sign, in Numerology my number is 5, and I live on the 5th floor. And yes, this also means that I will be turning 60 later this year, which is a crazy thought all by itself. But surely it has to be a good thing to be turning 60 in the year of your own animal, right? So our theme for this newsletter is New Year, Spring, and Horses

I grew up in an area called The New Forest in England, which is now The New Forest National Park, where about 3,000 New Forest Ponies essentially roam freely, although technically they are owned by New Forest Commoners. To read more about these Commoners, Ponies, the Verderers, and the 5 Agisters who work for them (yes, I said 5), The New Forest and more, please click here. I also reached out to local wildlife and nature photographer Mike Read, who happens to live in the same town my mum lived in, and whose calendars she would send me every year so I could have pictures of our beloved New Forest on my walls in New York City. Since Spring is all about new life, then what better to show you than a young foal with its mother…

New Forest Pony Foal © Mike Read

Interestingly (or not) I have never felt that drawn to Horses, even though I was around them growing up. I don’t dislike them, I think they are magnificent creatures, just not when I’m riding them! I identify more with my Western Astrological animal, the Lion for Leo, or more simply Cats. Growing up in the English countryside, there were a few standard activities that one learned as a child, one of which was horseback riding. Thus we were sent for lessons at a local stable in the small town of Brockenhurst, where the rather “seedy” Gerald Rickman instructed his young pupils… The horses ranged from the larger, lumbering steeds that were so tall you needed a stepladder to climb up on them, to the much smaller ponies, with names like “Bracken” and “Slipper,” and although they moved a lot faster than the bigger horses, they were notoriously naughty and far more difficult to control. Please Note: These were not the wild New Forest Ponies, although they may as well have been…

New Forest Ponies During Drift (round up), Near Brockenhurst © Mike Read

One year, during our school half-term break, my sister and I were booked in for a riding lesson, but because it was probably Easter break, they were busy and we did not get our preferred choice of rides. Instead, we found ourselves on the smaller ponies – the ones who could smell your fear a mile off! Fast-forward (literally) to the surrounding countryside and picture my out-of-control pony bolting through the bushes at breakneck speed, with me hanging on for dear life! Until we reached the road, that is, where, instead of falling on to perhaps some nice soft grass on the verge, I waited until we were right in the middle of the road where I promptly landed in a heap on the hard tarmac. The other riders were not far behind me and scampered across the road in hot pursuit of the runaway pony. To add insult to injury, one of those horses actually trod on me and I ended up with hoof-shaped bruises – no kidding.

You’d think that was bad enough, right? But as I was struggling to my feet and attempting to recover myself and my pony, a car drove by, which sounds reasonable enough considering it was a road we were standing on, except that this particular car contained one of my headmistresses from school. I prayed she had not seen me. The next week, I was back in school again and was mortified to discover that I would be sitting at the “top” table in the dining room at lunchtime with you guessed it, the headmistress. Without hesitation, she leaned in my direction and said in her terribly “English” accent, “Was that you Louisa I saw in the middle of the road…” or words to that effect. My face went redder than the beetroot I was probably eating. It was bad enough that she had seen my equine demise, and recognized me from her moving vehicle, but to then bring it to the entire table’s attention was completely mortifying for me… After that, I stuck with ballet and swimming.

Papa Feeding New Forest Ponies: August 16, 2006 © Louisa J. Curtis

Continuing with the Chinese Astrology for a moment because interestingly, this year is specifically the Year of the Wooden Horse, which immediately brings to my mind Greek mythology and the story of The Trojan Horse. In brief, the King of the Gods Zeus had a daughter with the King of Sparta’s mortal wife Leda, and that same daughter Helen was married to Menelaus. After a quarrel between the goddesses Athena, Hera & Aphrodite, the beautiful Helen was abducted by Paris and taken off to Troy, hence Helen of Troy, and this dastardly act brought about The Trojan War, which lasted many years. Another interesting note about Helen of Troy (formally Helen of Sparta) is that two of her siblings were the twins Castor & Pollux, and it is Castor & Pollux who are connected with our 3rd sign of SpringGemini.

Illustration of The Trojan Horse

But back to the War: The city of Troy finally fell to the Greeks after they devised a cunning plan by constructing a Giant Wooden Horse (inside which were hidden a select number of soldiers) and left it at the entrance to the city. Then they pretended to sail away in defeat. The Trojans, being curious creatures and probably ready for the war to be over, pulled that big old horse right inside their gates thinking it was a victory trophy. That night however, the concealed soldiers crept out from inside the horse and opened up the city gates, thus allowing the Greek army (who had sneaked back again from their ships) to enter, conquer the city, and decisively win the war.

And while we’re talking about wooden horses, anyone remember the classic 1950 British World War II movie, The Wooden Horse based on the book by Eric Williams, in which a group of prisoners attempt to escape the infamous German POW Camp Stalag Luft III (the same camp in which the perhaps better-known movie The Great Escape starring Steve McQueen, James Garner and Richard Attenborough also took place) by digging a tunnel that was concealed underneath a piece of exercise equipment, or more specifically, a Vaulting Horse. It’s a brilliant story about a lot of grit (literally) and determination that tells of how these prisoners strategically worked together as a team, some of them as the physical “exercisers” while others were the physical “diggers.”

From the Movie: The Wooden Horse Image Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Another interesting note is that through our discussion on Horses, The Year of the Horse, The Trojan Horse and The Wooden Horse, notice how it all brings us conveniently back to the topic of War – which is associated with Mars, and our sign of Aries. The Planet Mars, who rules over Aries, the Ram and our first sign of Spring, was the Roman God of War. Then we had Ares (notice the similarity to the word Aries) son of Zeus & Hera, who was the Greek God of War and one of the Twelve Olympians (yes I said 12). But how many of you know where the word April, the month Aries rules, comes from? Well, thanks to my teacher, I am going to tell you: April is derived from the Latin word Aperio meaning, “to lay bare, to expose, to view, to open and render accessible (at this time).” Spring is therefore a time for all creatures (both human and otherwise) to open themselves up in preparation for the rest of the season and the coming year ahead by taking in this newborn energy and life. This is also why people born under the sign of Aries are said to have a “spring” in their step (hmmmm…) because they are the most energetic of all 12 signs.

Horses © 2014 Elizabeth DeRamus Photography

I recently noticed a post on Facebook by Birmingham, Alabama photographer Elizabeth DeRamus. It had been ages since we’d been in touch, so I reached out to her and asked if I could show you one of her beautiful images. Now consider this for a moment… In Chinese Astrology, the Horse is connected to the element of Fire, which is Red, and it is no big surprise that the color for Aries, the 1st Fire sign of the zodiac and the Planet Mars that rules it is also Red. In Chinese Five Element theory (there’s that number 5 again!), the Horse is in the Fire group. The Horse month is in the middle of summer (my birthday is in August in Leo, which is the 5th sign of the zodiac, and our 2nd Fire sign). The Horse is the strongest Fire animal in all 12 zodiacs. 2014 is the year of the Wooden Horse. Wood can help Fire to burn, so Fire can last longer.” And 2014 is more specifically The Year of the Green Wooden Horse, and the color for our 2nd sign of Spring and our 1st Earth sign of Taurus is also Green… Hmmm…

Taurus, the Bull

So now, while we’re talking about the color GreenGreen not only relates to the money that the practical Taurus likes to earn, and to their precious stone the Emerald, but also to their naturally Green Thumbs and gardening abilities. A few years ago in May 2011 for the Taurus newsletter I featured several garden photographers, but this time I wanted to mention one particular photographer from that group again, because not only is Saxon Holt, a Taurus, he was born on April 22nd, which is Earth Day – how perfect is that? It’s no accident that the Earth sign of Taurus begins with a celebration called Earth Day… and it’s no accident that Saxon Holt photographs gardens! So here are a few images from a new project Photobotanic Extractions inspired by his love of botanical illustrations.

California Native Shrub, Arctostaphylos Manzanita ‘Monica’ © 2013 Saxon Holt
California Native Shrub, Arctostaphylos Manzanita 'Monica' © 2013 Saxon Holt
Photobotanic Illustration of California Native Shrub, Arctostaphylos Manzanita 'Monica' © 2013 Saxon Holt

Not all Taurus photographers necessarily photograph gardens – the Taurus loves many beautiful things, including great food, music and art. So another photographer I’m showing you this month is Charlotte, NC-based photographer Mitchell Kearney, a “late” Taurus born on May 19th (right before we head into Gemini). I particularly wanted to show you some of Mitchell’s “artist” portraits, since it ties in nicely with Taurus’ love of the arts, along with his captions.

Claudia Borgna: Visual + Performance Artist © 2008 Mitchell Kearney

Imagine a work of art which utilizes the lowly “trash bag” as it’s primary physical ingredient in such a transformative approach as to force you to reconsider the concept of REcycling. Claudia’s ephemeral tongue-twisting works of art which exceed the limits of speech to wordlessly touch your heart strings with her highly minded need for emotional engagement on a global scale at this moment.

Mail Order Brides: 21st Century Troubadours 2003 © Mitchell Kearney

Visited Charlotte back in 2003, during their residency at the McColl Center for Visual Art, and left such a delightful dent in our space/time continuum that we have been changed forever, for the good of Wo+Man kind…!

John W. Love Jr.: Poet + Creative Artist © 2011 Mitchell Kearney

My relationship with John extends over many years and revolves like the earth around our sun. I am in awed by the creative heat, which John gives off, constantly…! His multi-discipline approaches to his creative work are astonishing examples of the finest mind of our times.

Michele Tejuola Turner: Visual Artist + Educator © 2013 Mitchell Kearney

In response to her sensitivity to the issues which surround her, ‘Tejuola’ works out her thoughts about a subject on the surface of large dried African gourds – carving & painting the story to life, in her own special way – quietly. Like all things African, ‘Tejuola’ deals with an issue from all sides and her art is all encompassing – literally and figuratively – her canvas is a far more global form, a pear-like form which allows her to carve & paint figures and text over & under the round, female womb-like form, telling the story of an idea… a person… or a family of people. Her picture-stories reveal the wisdom of her family and her care for those who have come before us, who are to be remembered for their strength. My task was to share her fortitude on this road called life – her life & her resulting art making. ‘Tejuola’ has gifted me with a far greater understanding of the human condition than I had previously known.

In closing, I have to give a mention to Kseniya Simonova, an incredible Performance Sand Artist and winner of Ukraine’s Got Talent back in 2009. Photographer and old buddy Kristofer dan Bergman recently mentioned her on Facebook, and when I clicked on the link and saw what she did, I simply had to share it with all of you, so please click here to see her winning performance on YouTube. Now, not only is what she does amazing and incredible but also how fitting is it that this girl is a Taurus, born April 22, 1985, and even better, our Taurus is literally making art with the Earth itself! Click here to see yet another of her amazing videos on YouTube in which there’s a Horse, of course!

Sand Animation by Kseniya Simonova

Aries: New Year, Spring & Horses – ChatterLog April 2014

Aries: New Year, Spring & Horses – ChatterLog April 2014

Aries, The Ram

Greetings everyone and welcome to the Spring 2014 ChatterBulletin! Remember last time I talked about January being the start of the “calendar” year, but in Astrology and Nature, New Year begins with the 1st sign of Spring – the sign of Aries, and the month of April. Spring (not winter) is the time of new life, and new growth in Nature. Notice we are just now beginning to come out of our “winter doldrums” and months of hibernation. The blooms and the blossoms are bursting through (finally), the weather is gradually warming up – well almost – and we hopefully have a little more energy. And I’m sure I speak for most New Yorkers here when I say we have had one of those very long winters and can’t wait for springtime!

Blooming Bleecker Street, NYC April 26, 2014 © Louisa J. Curtis

Speaking of Spring and the New Year, shortly after I sent out the Winter newsletter back in January, we also entered into the Chinese Lunar Calendar’s New Year, and The Year of the Horse, which is also my animal, being born in 1954. There are 12 animals in Chinese Astrology (just as there are 12 signs in Western Astrology) and the cycle of animals takes 12 years to complete. Consider this: I have completed 5 cycles, in Astrology Leo (which is my Sun Sign) is the 5th Sign, in Numerology my number is 5, and I live on the 5th floor. And yes, this also means that I will be turning 60 later this year, which is a crazy thought all by itself. But surely it has to be a good thing to be turning 60 in the year of your own animal, right? So our theme for this newsletter is New Year, Spring, and Horses

I grew up in an area called The New Forest in England, which is now The New Forest National Park, where about 3,000 New Forest Ponies essentially roam freely, although technically they are owned by New Forest Commoners. To read more about these Commoners, Ponies, the Verderers, and the 5 Agisters who work for them (yes, I said 5), The New Forest and more, please click here. I also reached out to local wildlife and nature photographer Mike Read, who happens to live in the same town my mum lived in, and whose calendars she would send me every year so I could have pictures of our beloved New Forest on my walls in New York City. Since Spring is all about new life, then what better to show you than a young foal with its mother…

New Forest Pony Foal © Mike Read

Interestingly (or not) I have never felt that drawn to Horses, even though I was around them growing up. I don’t dislike them, I think they are magnificent creatures, just not when I’m riding them! I identify more with my Western Astrological animal, the Lion for Leo, or more simply Cats. Growing up in the English countryside, there were a few standard activities that one learned as a child, one of which was horseback riding. Thus we were sent for lessons at a local stable in the small town of Brockenhurst, where the rather “seedy” Gerald Rickman instructed his young pupils… The horses ranged from the larger, lumbering steeds that were so tall you needed a stepladder to climb up on them, to the much smaller ponies, with names like “Bracken” and “Slipper,” and although they moved a lot faster than the bigger horses, they were notoriously naughty and far more difficult to control. Please Note: These were not the wild New Forest Ponies, although they may as well have been…

New Forest Ponies During Drift (round up), Near Brockenhurst © Mike Read

One year, during our school half-term break, my sister and I were booked in for a riding lesson, but because it was probably Easter break, they were busy and we did not get our preferred choice of rides. Instead, we found ourselves on the smaller ponies – the ones who could smell your fear a mile off! Fast-forward (literally) to the surrounding countryside and picture my out-of-control pony bolting through the bushes at breakneck speed, with me hanging on for dear life! Until we reached the road, that is, where, instead of falling on to perhaps some nice soft grass on the verge, I waited until we were right in the middle of the road where I promptly landed in a heap on the hard tarmac. The other riders were not far behind me and scampered across the road in hot pursuit of the runaway pony. To add insult to injury, one of those horses actually trod on me and I ended up with hoof-shaped bruises – no kidding.

You’d think that was bad enough, right? But as I was struggling to my feet and attempting to recover myself and my pony, a car drove by, which sounds reasonable enough considering it was a road we were standing on, except that this particular car contained one of my headmistresses from school. I prayed she had not seen me. The next week, I was back in school again and was mortified to discover that I would be sitting at the “top” table in the dining room at lunchtime with you guessed it, the headmistress. Without hesitation, she leaned in my direction and said in her terribly “English” accent, “Was that you Louisa I saw in the middle of the road…” or words to that effect. My face went redder than the beetroot I was probably eating. It was bad enough that she had seen my equine demise, and recognized me from her moving vehicle, but to then bring it to the entire table’s attention was completely mortifying for me… After that, I stuck with ballet and swimming.

Papa Feeding New Forest Ponies: August 16, 2006 © Louisa J. Curtis

Continuing with the Chinese Astrology for a moment because interestingly, this year is specifically the Year of the Wooden Horse, which immediately brings to my mind Greek mythology and the story of The Trojan Horse. In brief, the King of the Gods Zeus had a daughter with the King of Sparta’s mortal wife Leda, and that same daughter Helen was married to Menelaus. After a quarrel between the goddesses Athena, Hera & Aphrodite, the beautiful Helen was abducted by Paris and taken off to Troy, hence Helen of Troy, and this dastardly act brought about The Trojan War, which lasted many years. Another interesting note about Helen of Troy (formally Helen of Sparta) is that two of her siblings were the twins Castor & Pollux, and it is Castor & Pollux who are connected with our 3rd sign of SpringGemini.

Illustration of The Trojan Horse

But back to the War: The city of Troy finally fell to the Greeks after they devised a cunning plan by constructing a Giant Wooden Horse (inside which were hidden a select number of soldiers) and left it at the entrance to the city. Then they pretended to sail away in defeat. The Trojans, being curious creatures and probably ready for the war to be over, pulled that big old horse right inside their gates thinking it was a victory trophy. That night however, the concealed soldiers crept out from inside the horse and opened up the city gates, thus allowing the Greek army (who had sneaked back again from their ships) to enter, conquer the city, and decisively win the war.

And while we’re talking about wooden horses, anyone remember the classic 1950 British World War II movie, The Wooden Horse based on the book by Eric Williams, in which a group of prisoners attempt to escape the infamous German POW Camp Stalag Luft III (the same camp in which the perhaps better-known movie The Great Escape starring Steve McQueen, James Garner and Richard Attenborough also took place) by digging a tunnel that was concealed underneath a piece of exercise equipment, or more specifically, a Vaulting Horse. It’s a brilliant story about a lot of grit (literally) and determination that tells of how these prisoners strategically worked together as a team, some of them as the physical “exercisers” while others were the physical “diggers.”

From the Movie: The Wooden Horse Image Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Another interesting note is that through our discussion on Horses, The Year of the Horse, The Trojan Horse and The Wooden Horse, notice how it all brings us conveniently back to the topic of War – which is associated with Mars, and our sign of Aries. The Planet Mars, who rules over Aries, the Ram and our first sign of Spring, was the Roman God of War. Then we had Ares (notice the similarity to the word Aries) son of Zeus & Hera, who was the Greek God of War and one of the Twelve Olympians (yes I said 12). But how many of you know where the word April, the month Aries rules, comes from? Well, thanks to my teacher, I am going to tell you: April is derived from the Latin word Aperio meaning, “to lay bare, to expose, to view, to open and render accessible (at this time).” Spring is therefore a time for all creatures (both human and otherwise) to open themselves up in preparation for the rest of the season and the coming year ahead by taking in this newborn energy and life. This is also why people born under the sign of Aries are said to have a “spring” in their step (hmmmm…) because they are the most energetic of all 12 signs.

Horses © 2014 Elizabeth DeRamus Photography

I recently noticed a post on Facebook by Birmingham, Alabama photographer Elizabeth DeRamus. It had been ages since we’d been in touch, so I reached out to her and asked if I could show you one of her beautiful images. Now consider this for a moment… In Chinese Astrology, the Horse is connected to the element of Fire, which is Red, and it is no big surprise that the color for Aries, the 1st Fire sign of the zodiac and the Planet Mars that rules it is also Red. In Chinese Five Element theory (there’s that number 5 again!), the Horse is in the Fire group. The Horse month is in the middle of summer (my birthday is in August in Leo, which is the 5th sign of the zodiac, and our 2nd Fire sign). The Horse is the strongest Fire animal in all 12 zodiacs. 2014 is the year of the Wooden Horse. Wood can help Fire to burn, so Fire can last longer.” And 2014 is more specifically The Year of the Green Wooden Horse, and the color for our 2nd sign of Spring and our 1st Earth sign of Taurus is also Green… Hmmm…

Taurus, the Bull

So now, while we’re talking about the color GreenGreen not only relates to the money that the practical Taurus likes to earn, and to their precious stone the Emerald, but also to their naturally Green Thumbs and gardening abilities. A few years ago in May 2011 for the Taurus newsletter I featured several garden photographers, but this time I wanted to mention one particular photographer from that group again, because not only is Saxon Holt, a Taurus, he was born on April 22nd, which is Earth Day – how perfect is that? It’s no accident that the Earth sign of Taurus begins with a celebration called Earth Day… and it’s no accident that Saxon Holt photographs gardens! So here are a few images from a new project Photobotanic Extractions inspired by his love of botanical illustrations.

California Native Shrub, Arctostaphylos Manzanita ‘Monica’ © 2013 Saxon Holt
California Native Shrub, Arctostaphylos Manzanita 'Monica' © 2013 Saxon Holt
Photobotanic Illustration of California Native Shrub, Arctostaphylos Manzanita 'Monica' © 2013 Saxon Holt

Not all Taurus photographers necessarily photograph gardens – the Taurus loves many beautiful things, including great food, music and art. So another photographer I’m showing you this month is Charlotte, NC-based photographer Mitchell Kearney, a “late” Taurus born on May 19th (right before we head into Gemini). I particularly wanted to show you some of Mitchell’s “artist” portraits, since it ties in nicely with Taurus’ love of the arts, along with his captions.

Claudia Borgna: Visual + Performance Artist © 2008 Mitchell Kearney

Imagine a work of art which utilizes the lowly “trash bag” as it’s primary physical ingredient in such a transformative approach as to force you to reconsider the concept of REcycling. Claudia’s ephemeral tongue-twisting works of art which exceed the limits of speech to wordlessly touch your heart strings with her highly minded need for emotional engagement on a global scale at this moment.

Mail Order Brides: 21st Century Troubadours 2003 © Mitchell Kearney

Visited Charlotte back in 2003, during their residency at the McColl Center for Visual Art, and left such a delightful dent in our space/time continuum that we have been changed forever, for the good of Wo+Man kind…!

John W. Love Jr.: Poet + Creative Artist © 2011 Mitchell Kearney

My relationship with John extends over many years and revolves like the earth around our sun. I am in awed by the creative heat, which John gives off, constantly…! His multi-discipline approaches to his creative work are astonishing examples of the finest mind of our times.

Michele Tejuola Turner: Visual Artist + Educator © 2013 Mitchell Kearney

In response to her sensitivity to the issues which surround her, ‘Tejuola’ works out her thoughts about a subject on the surface of large dried African gourds – carving & painting the story to life, in her own special way – quietly. Like all things African, ‘Tejuola’ deals with an issue from all sides and her art is all encompassing – literally and figuratively – her canvas is a far more global form, a pear-like form which allows her to carve & paint figures and text over & under the round, female womb-like form, telling the story of an idea… a person… or a family of people. Her picture-stories reveal the wisdom of her family and her care for those who have come before us, who are to be remembered for their strength. My task was to share her fortitude on this road called life – her life & her resulting art making. ‘Tejuola’ has gifted me with a far greater understanding of the human condition than I had previously known.

In closing, I have to give a mention to Kseniya Simonova, an incredible Performance Sand Artist and winner of Ukraine’s Got Talent back in 2009. Photographer and old buddy Kristofer dan Bergman recently mentioned her on Facebook, and when I clicked on the link and saw what she did, I simply had to share it with all of you, so please click here to see her winning performance on YouTube. Now, not only is what she does amazing and incredible but also how fitting is it that this girl is a Taurus, born April 22, 1985, and even better, our Taurus is literally making art with the Earth itself! Click here to see yet another of her amazing videos on YouTube in which there’s a Horse, of course!

Sand Animation by Kseniya Simonova

Capricorn: Structure, Buildings & New Year- ChatterLog Jan 2014

Capricorn – Structure, Buildings & the New Year – ChatterLog January 2014

Capricorn, The Goat

Greetings everyone – welcome to the January 2014 ChatterLog, and what will be my first newsletter in a while. Some of you may have noticed that I took a break for a few months and much of the reason as to “why” ties in nicely with part of this month’s theme, which is Structure. January is the sign of Capricorn, which is ruled by the Planet of Saturn. Saturn gives us Discipline, Rules and Structure, so Capricorn is the sign associated with building and construction, whether it is building a big business, an empire, or the Empire State Building itself!

I have literally spent the past six months of my life dealing with finally rectifying the unacceptable conditions in my apartment, taking my landlord to court, and then living through the actual renovations, which I’m still reeling from. For those of you who know me well, you have some idea as to just how many years I have had recurring damp in my walls. And for those of you that don’t know – it makes a pretty good story – and I have the pictures to prove it!  In fact, when I started to write this newsletter, the story of my apartment saga was simply too long for the ChatterLog, so it turned into its own beast and I am creating a new section on the Blog called ChatterStories. Watch out for the full and fabulous story as well as all of the juicy photographs and in the meantime, here’s a little sample for you…

Renovations October 2014 © Louisa J. Curtis

Continuing on with our theme of Structure and Buildings – last October/November, right when I was in the middle of all the craziness that comes with construction and the work that was finally being done in my apartment, I received a portfolio edit & sequence request from eyeist. At that time I was literally camping on the top of my loft-bed with all of my belongings packed underneath in boxes, including my big computer, so I contacted the photographer to ask if he would be at all willing to wait a couple of weeks for his edit?

© Tony Ventouris

Ironically (or not) the photographer was Maryland-based Architectural shooter Tony Ventouris. In fact, it was perfect for me really, because not only was Tony a very patient guy, but he also comes from an entire family of builders, so he totally (not partially, but totally) understood what I was going through!

© Tony Ventouris

On his website Ancient City Photography he says, Born into a family of contractors, Tony Ventouris has been surrounded by architects, developers, and artists since an early age and has naturally developed a deep appreciation for the art of building.” I mean how perfect was that? I was also really hoping that Tony would turn out to be a Capricorn, but no, he’s an Aries, who are not usually the most patient of people!

© Tony Ventouris

With the pressure taken off me, I really enjoyed editing Tony’s work once the majority of the apartment renovations were done and I could set my desk and computer back up again. I knew that in order for me to a good job for him, I needed to be able to look at his images on a big screen – I really don’t like editing on a laptop or iPad! I loved the retro style of the building in the image above, and there is something I found very endearing about the blue & white checkered garage floor in the residential image below – it drew me in. For some reason I have always enjoyed working with Architectural photographers. Maybe it has something to do with the subject they photograph – less drama than shooting people perhaps?

© Tony Ventouris

Speaking of Architectural photography, my aCurator friend Julie Grahame is now writing for Rob Haggart‘s A Photo Editor’s sister blog entitled Photography and Architecture. And just the other day, I received an email from The Lucie Foundation, reminding me of the upcoming deadline for the International Photography Awards, and this was the image they used by Belgian photographer, Eric de Ville – interesting, right?

One Shot © Eric de Ville

Something else I wanted to talk about for this ChatterLog is the somewhat confusing notion of New Year. Notice how all of the emails and cards you received over the Holidays are wishing you a “Happy New Year” but it is really only a new “Calendar” year – a calendar that is not based on nature, but was created by man, for his own convenience. If you think about it man has actually set himself up for a fabulous failure. We are being asked to make New Year’s Resolutions in January (and stick to them) during the time of year when we have the shortest days, and the least amount of daylight (and therefore energy). It is the middle of winter, when most (sensible) animals and plants have slowed all the way down and are resting, so of course you’re not going to stick to that diet or keep up your gym membership!

The notion of Structure doesn’t have to be limited to physical buildings of course, and this brings me back to the Planet of Saturn again. Saturn challenges us to set up a suitable structure that we can not only follow but also stick to, so that we might accomplish our goals and solidify our survival.  Saturn is neither emotional nor sympathetic, that’s not its job, but in the end, Saturn does reward hard work. So from that we can perhaps apply the same sense of Structure to all of those New Year’s Resolutions after all?

A New Year Begins © Art Murphy

One of my photographer clients, Art Murphy, even began one of his January blog posts “A New Year Begins” by talking about how he was still suffering from the “Winter Blah’s” – which was such a great example of what is naturally going on with us at this time of the year! And his photograph conveniently contained a “structure” albeit a very small and cute one. In fact, it is his little cabin studio up in the Catskills, but it is nonetheless, a building! New Year, according to Mother Nature (and she should know) is in the springtime, when all new life technically begins. Aries is the 1st sign of the Zodiac, not Capricorn! So if you want to be more successful with your resolutions, make them in April when you have more energy, or better still, keep making and renewing them all year round!

Capricorn: Structure, Buildings & New Year- ChatterLog Jan 2014

Capricorn – Structure, Buildings & the New Year – ChatterLog January 2014

Capricorn, The Goat

Greetings everyone – welcome to the January 2014 ChatterLog, and what will be my first newsletter in a while. Some of you may have noticed that I took a break for a few months and much of the reason as to “why” ties in nicely with part of this month’s theme, which is Structure. January is the sign of Capricorn, which is ruled by the Planet of Saturn. Saturn gives us Discipline, Rules and Structure, so Capricorn is the sign associated with building and construction, whether it is building a big business, an empire, or the Empire State Building itself!

I have literally spent the past six months of my life dealing with finally rectifying the unacceptable conditions in my apartment, taking my landlord to court, and then living through the actual renovations, which I’m still reeling from. For those of you who know me well, you have some idea as to just how many years I have had recurring damp in my walls. And for those of you that don’t know – it makes a pretty good story – and I have the pictures to prove it!  In fact, when I started to write this newsletter, the story of my apartment saga was simply too long for the ChatterLog, so it turned into its own beast and I am creating a new section on the Blog called ChatterStories. Watch out for the full and fabulous story as well as all of the juicy photographs and in the meantime, here’s a little sample for you…

Renovations October 2014 © Louisa J. Curtis

Continuing on with our theme of Structure and Buildings – last October/November, right when I was in the middle of all the craziness that comes with construction and the work that was finally being done in my apartment, I received a portfolio edit & sequence request from eyeist. At that time I was literally camping on the top of my loft-bed with all of my belongings packed underneath in boxes, including my big computer, so I contacted the photographer to ask if he would be at all willing to wait a couple of weeks for his edit?

© Tony Ventouris

Ironically (or not) the photographer was Maryland-based Architectural shooter Tony Ventouris. In fact, it was perfect for me really, because not only was Tony a very patient guy, but he also comes from an entire family of builders, so he totally (not partially, but totally) understood what I was going through!

© Tony Ventouris

On his website Ancient City Photography he says, Born into a family of contractors, Tony Ventouris has been surrounded by architects, developers, and artists since an early age and has naturally developed a deep appreciation for the art of building.” I mean how perfect was that? I was also really hoping that Tony would turn out to be a Capricorn, but no, he’s an Aries, who are not usually the most patient of people!

© Tony Ventouris

With the pressure taken off me, I really enjoyed editing Tony’s work once the majority of the apartment renovations were done and I could set my desk and computer back up again. I knew that in order for me to a good job for him, I needed to be able to look at his images on a big screen – I really don’t like editing on a laptop or iPad! I loved the retro style of the building in the image above, and there is something I found very endearing about the blue & white checkered garage floor in the residential image below – it drew me in. For some reason I have always enjoyed working with Architectural photographers. Maybe it has something to do with the subject they photograph – less drama than shooting people perhaps?

© Tony Ventouris

Speaking of Architectural photography, my aCurator friend Julie Grahame is now writing for Rob Haggart‘s A Photo Editor’s sister blog entitled Photography and Architecture. And just the other day, I received an email from The Lucie Foundation, reminding me of the upcoming deadline for the International Photography Awards, and this was the image they used by Belgian photographer, Eric de Ville – interesting, right?

One Shot © Eric de Ville

Something else I wanted to talk about for this ChatterLog is the somewhat confusing notion of New Year. Notice how all of the emails and cards you received over the Holidays are wishing you a “Happy New Year” but it is really only a new “Calendar” year – a calendar that is not based on nature, but was created by man, for his own convenience. If you think about it man has actually set himself up for a fabulous failure. We are being asked to make New Year’s Resolutions in January (and stick to them) during the time of year when we have the shortest days, and the least amount of daylight (and therefore energy). It is the middle of winter, when most (sensible) animals and plants have slowed all the way down and are resting, so of course you’re not going to stick to that diet or keep up your gym membership!

The notion of Structure doesn’t have to be limited to physical buildings of course, and this brings me back to the Planet of Saturn again. Saturn challenges us to set up a suitable structure that we can not only follow but also stick to, so that we might accomplish our goals and solidify our survival.  Saturn is neither emotional nor sympathetic, that’s not its job, but in the end, Saturn does reward hard work. So from that we can perhaps apply the same sense of Structure to all of those New Year’s Resolutions after all?

A New Year Begins © Art Murphy

One of my photographer clients, Art Murphy, even began one of his January blog posts “A New Year Begins” by talking about how he was still suffering from the “Winter Blah’s” – which was such a great example of what is naturally going on with us at this time of the year! And his photograph conveniently contained a “structure” albeit a very small and cute one. In fact, it is his little cabin studio up in the Catskills, but it is nonetheless, a building! New Year, according to Mother Nature (and she should know) is in the springtime, when all new life technically begins. Aries is the 1st sign of the Zodiac, not Capricorn! So if you want to be more successful with your resolutions, make them in April when you have more energy, or better still, keep making and renewing them all year round!

Cancer, Water, Owls & Crabs… ChatterLog July 2013

Cancer, Water, Owls & Crabs… ChatterLog July 2013

Cancer, The Crab

Greetings everyone – and welcome to the July ChatterBulletin and the Watery sign of Cancer! Speaking of Water – consider how much rain we have had recently, and when I say rain, I mean rain, as in torrential, tropical rain. And now that we have moved into the season of summer the only Water most people are concerned with is either in the ocean or the local swimming pool! And yes, I am happy to report that my local pool has already opened and I am enjoying swimming outdoors again! Interestingly, I recently received an email promo from Steve Bloom Images, and the theme for their July newsletter was simply “Water, Water, Everywhere” and I wondered if they even realized that they were directly referencing Astrology by choosing Water as the theme for this month?

So the month of July is Cancer, and Cancer is the first of the three Water signs, and in Astrology, Water is connected with your Emotions. So naturally the sign of Cancer is an emotional character, and everything depends simply on how they “feel.” During this month I often feel emotional, I can feel my mother, who was a Cancer, and I miss her. And boy, do I wish my mum could have been here to witness Andy Murray win Wimbledon this year! And with my own family roots in Scotland, I feel doubly proud! I have been basking for the last two weeks in some incredible tennis, where many of the top seeds went out early, and some unexpected players were given an opportunity to go further than they ever had before. Such was the case of French woman Marion Bartoli who won the women’s finals against German Sabine Lisicki – great tennis and no “screaming!” Hooray! And then on 7/7 of the year 2013, after 77 years of waiting, the British public was finally rewarded as Andy Murray beat Novak Djokovic in 3 straight sets! Yeah!

Britain's Andy Murray raises the trophy after beating Serbia's Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

Remember last month I mentioned how many famous tennis players were Gemini’s, and there’s a few that trickled over into the sign of Cancer as well including: Arthur Ashe, Pam Shriver & Virginia Wade. And since we’re talking about athletes and Water… FYI – Olympic all-time record-winning medalist swimmer Michael Phelps is a Cancer! No big surprise there… And good thing Kate Middleton managed to not give birth to the “Royal Heir” on the same day that Andy Murray won Wimbledon, otherwise the country would have been very confused as to which to Historic event to focus their celebrations on, so at least she had the good grace to wait a few more days…

Here's the Wimbledon Website at the Start of the Tournament - Andy had just won the warm-up tournament at Queen's where the trophy appears to be bigger than the one he subsequently won at Wimbledon a couple of weeks later!
And this is the Wimbledon Website Home Page Today!

Now something else that is connected with the sign of Cancer, and one of my favorite birds, are Owls. I grew up in the English countryside, so we were quite familiar with them, along with many other birds and wild life. I remember one day when my sister and I were quite young, we were driving home in the car with our mother and we saw what we believed was a Snowy Owl (which were quite rare, especially in broad daylight) sitting right there on a fence post! Many years later, we had several encounters with Owls late at night, in particular after someone had died… So Owls always held a special place in our lives and hearts. My Great Aunt Bell was a Cancer, and she had a thing about Owls… one of the last things I gave her was a little book on Owls, and I now have it in my collection. My Mum was also a Cancer and she loved Owls too. I still have some of the little Owls that she either gave me or which came from her house, plus there is an entire section of my bookcase that is covered with images and cards of yes, you guessed it – Owls. I guess it’s a “family” thing now too – which makes sense, since Cancer is all about “family!”

Great Aunt Bell's Little Owl Book © Louisa J. Curtis

Notice also the round face of an Owl, and then notice the round face of someone whose Sun or Rising Sign is in the sign of Cancer. They often wear glasses too – Water is hard to see through, is it not? So these creatures and these people have these round faces and round eyes… In Mythology, for the Modern West at least, the Owl is associated with Wisdom, and we certainly felt that our Great Aunt Bell was indeed the “wise” matriarch of the family. Everyone went to her with their problems – why? Because Cancers have the ability to listen to your troubles, which is why they also make good therapists. Everyone often ended up on my mother’s doorstep as well, because she too had a listening ear, and a love for hearing everyone’s story… in fact, she rather enjoyed it!

Owl on Flagstaff in McCarthy Square, Greenwich Village © Louisa J. Curtis

As with all signs, there are always two sides to the story, so not everyone associates Owls with only Wisdom. In Greek Mythology, the Goddess Athena (or Athene), also known as Pallas Athena/Athene, was the Goddess of Wisdom and Warfare (!), as well as Divine Intelligence, Architecture and Crafts! In Roman Mythology she was called Minerva and in Astrology, Pallas Athena is one of what we call the Asteroids – she was Jupiter’s daughter, intelligent, “just” and a true survivor (like those born under the sign of Cancer!)

In some areas of Africa it is believed that Owls were Messengers (or Harbingers) of Death, or Bad Omens, and in the Americas, some of the Native Indian cultures surrounded Owls with taboo, associating them with Symbols of Sorcery and Evil. For the farmer and/or gardener, Owls are a natural form of pest control, since they like to hunt for insects and small rodents. Remember, Owls are part of the Strigiformes family, which simply put are nocturnal Birds of Prey! Owls are characterized by their flat faces, hawk-like beaks, and large binocular-vision eyes, which are “fixed” in their sockets, so in order to look to the side, they have to turn their entire head. Interesting to think about the word “side” since it is Cancer, the Crab, who has a tendency to move sideways…

Cute and cozy looking Crab that my Aunt and I chose for my mother one time when I was visiting her in Guernsey, and after my Mum died "Camilla Crab" came to live with me! © Louisa J. Curtis

One last thought – and one which relates to how the energies work, if we let them: As I was writing this article, my friend called me on the phone and I stopped to speak with him briefly before continuing on. As he was talking, I was looking at some of the items on my desk in front of me, and I noticed a coin, in a dish, with none other than a Crab on it – I kid you not! Upon further investigation, I discovered that this was in fact a 2006 One Penny coin from Guernsey, where my Auntie lives, and from where Camilla Crab came from! And just to prove it – here it is!

Guernsey One-Penny Crab Coin © Louisa J. Curtis

And as usual, Happy Birthday to all you Cancer’s out there!

Cancer, Water, Owls & Crabs… ChatterLog July 2013

Cancer, Water, Owls & Crabs… ChatterLog July 2013

Cancer, The Crab

Greetings everyone – and welcome to the July ChatterBulletin and the Watery sign of Cancer! Speaking of Water – consider how much rain we have had recently, and when I say rain, I mean rain, as in torrential, tropical rain. And now that we have moved into the season of summer the only Water most people are concerned with is either in the ocean or the local swimming pool! And yes, I am happy to report that my local pool has already opened and I am enjoying swimming outdoors again! Interestingly, I recently received an email promo from Steve Bloom Images, and the theme for their July newsletter was simply “Water, Water, Everywhere” and I wondered if they even realized that they were directly referencing Astrology by choosing Water as the theme for this month?

So the month of July is Cancer, and Cancer is the first of the three Water signs, and in Astrology, Water is connected with your Emotions. So naturally the sign of Cancer is an emotional character, and everything depends simply on how they “feel.” During this month I often feel emotional, I can feel my mother, who was a Cancer, and I miss her. And boy, do I wish my mum could have been here to witness Andy Murray win Wimbledon this year! And with my own family roots in Scotland, I feel doubly proud! I have been basking for the last two weeks in some incredible tennis, where many of the top seeds went out early, and some unexpected players were given an opportunity to go further than they ever had before. Such was the case of French woman Marion Bartoli who won the women’s finals against German Sabine Lisicki – great tennis and no “screaming!” Hooray! And then on 7/7 of the year 2013, after 77 years of waiting, the British public was finally rewarded as Andy Murray beat Novak Djokovic in 3 straight sets! Yeah!

Britain's Andy Murray raises the trophy after beating Serbia's Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

Remember last month I mentioned how many famous tennis players were Gemini’s, and there’s a few that trickled over into the sign of Cancer as well including: Arthur Ashe, Pam Shriver & Virginia Wade. And since we’re talking about athletes and Water… FYI – Olympic all-time record-winning medalist swimmer Michael Phelps is a Cancer! No big surprise there… And good thing Kate Middleton managed to not give birth to the “Royal Heir” on the same day that Andy Murray won Wimbledon, otherwise the country would have been very confused as to which to Historic event to focus their celebrations on, so at least she had the good grace to wait a few more days…

Here's the Wimbledon Website at the Start of the Tournament - Andy had just won the warm-up tournament at Queen's where the trophy appears to be bigger than the one he subsequently won at Wimbledon a couple of weeks later!
And this is the Wimbledon Website Home Page Today!

Now something else that is connected with the sign of Cancer, and one of my favorite birds, are Owls. I grew up in the English countryside, so we were quite familiar with them, along with many other birds and wild life. I remember one day when my sister and I were quite young, we were driving home in the car with our mother and we saw what we believed was a Snowy Owl (which were quite rare, especially in broad daylight) sitting right there on a fence post! Many years later, we had several encounters with Owls late at night, in particular after someone had died… So Owls always held a special place in our lives and hearts. My Great Aunt Bell was a Cancer, and she had a thing about Owls… one of the last things I gave her was a little book on Owls, and I now have it in my collection. My Mum was also a Cancer and she loved Owls too. I still have some of the little Owls that she either gave me or which came from her house, plus there is an entire section of my bookcase that is covered with images and cards of yes, you guessed it – Owls. I guess it’s a “family” thing now too – which makes sense, since Cancer is all about “family!”

Great Aunt Bell's Little Owl Book © Louisa J. Curtis

Notice also the round face of an Owl, and then notice the round face of someone whose Sun or Rising Sign is in the sign of Cancer. They often wear glasses too – Water is hard to see through, is it not? So these creatures and these people have these round faces and round eyes… In Mythology, for the Modern West at least, the Owl is associated with Wisdom, and we certainly felt that our Great Aunt Bell was indeed the “wise” matriarch of the family. Everyone went to her with their problems – why? Because Cancers have the ability to listen to your troubles, which is why they also make good therapists. Everyone often ended up on my mother’s doorstep as well, because she too had a listening ear, and a love for hearing everyone’s story… in fact, she rather enjoyed it!

Owl on Flagstaff in McCarthy Square, Greenwich Village © Louisa J. Curtis

As with all signs, there are always two sides to the story, so not everyone associates Owls with only Wisdom. In Greek Mythology, the Goddess Athena (or Athene), also known as Pallas Athena/Athene, was the Goddess of Wisdom and Warfare (!), as well as Divine Intelligence, Architecture and Crafts! In Roman Mythology she was called Minerva and in Astrology, Pallas Athena is one of what we call the Asteroids – she was Jupiter’s daughter, intelligent, “just” and a true survivor (like those born under the sign of Cancer!)

In some areas of Africa it is believed that Owls were Messengers (or Harbingers) of Death, or Bad Omens, and in the Americas, some of the Native Indian cultures surrounded Owls with taboo, associating them with Symbols of Sorcery and Evil. For the farmer and/or gardener, Owls are a natural form of pest control, since they like to hunt for insects and small rodents. Remember, Owls are part of the Strigiformes family, which simply put are nocturnal Birds of Prey! Owls are characterized by their flat faces, hawk-like beaks, and large binocular-vision eyes, which are “fixed” in their sockets, so in order to look to the side, they have to turn their entire head. Interesting to think about the word “side” since it is Cancer, the Crab, who has a tendency to move sideways…

Cute and cozy looking Crab that my Aunt and I chose for my mother one time when I was visiting her in Guernsey, and after my Mum died "Camilla Crab" came to live with me! © Louisa J. Curtis

One last thought – and one which relates to how the energies work, if we let them: As I was writing this article, my friend called me on the phone and I stopped to speak with him briefly before continuing on. As he was talking, I was looking at some of the items on my desk in front of me, and I noticed a coin, in a dish, with none other than a Crab on it – I kid you not! Upon further investigation, I discovered that this was in fact a 2006 One Penny coin from Guernsey, where my Auntie lives, and from where Camilla Crab came from! And just to prove it – here it is!

Guernsey One-Penny Crab Coin © Louisa J. Curtis

And as usual, Happy Birthday to all you Cancer’s out there!

Gemini, Sport and the Number 2… ChatterLog June 2013

Greetings everyone – and welcome to the June ChatterBulletin and the “dual” sign of Gemini!

Gemini, The Twins

Why dual when it is the 3rd sign of the zodiac? Well, look at the Symbol for starters and we have a pair, The Twins, and with the Glyph the duality is expressed by two Vertical Lines, along with two Horizontal Lines. Now, they say that things come in three’s, and they do, but with Gemini, they come in two’s, they just do. They say things twice, they have dual personalities, they eat two helpings of their food and if they’re smart, they will always buy two of everything because once the first one is gone or broken, they wish they had that second one! So what’s the theme for this month? I’m going with Sport and the Number 2.

So, speaking of pairs, there are some sports that require two people to compete against one another – tennis, Ping-Pong, pool, boxing, fencing, darts and badminton, for example. Why is this interesting, because the Ruler of Gemini is Mercury, and it was Mercury, or Hermes who gave us boxing, gymnastics, track & field, tennis, and the invention of weights & measures. And speaking of tennis, I would be remiss not to mention that while preparing the Gemini newsletter, I watched some of the French Open Tennis Finals, in which Rafael Nadal won the Men’s trophy for an unprecedented 8th time – he is the first man ever (as in ever) to win the same Grand Slam tournament that many times! And, he did it after being out of the game for 7 months due to injuries. He is truly remarkable.

Now, not only is tennis a Gemini sport, but there are lots of Gemini tennis players starting with the French Open champion, Rafael Nadal, born June 3, 1986 in Manacor, Spain. Fellow racquet-swingers are Novak Djokovic, Richard Gasquet, Steffi Graf, Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Venus Williams, and Anna Kournikova. And, while we’re talking about Gemini and sport, a few Gemini athletes you may also be familiar with are golfer Phil Mickelson, quarterbacks Joe Montana & Joe Namath, basketball player Carmelo Anthony and Olympic speed skater Apollo Anton Ohno.

So here’s a two-player sport that I witnessed within two consecutive days in two different locations. On Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2013 I was traveling back from Massachusetts with my friend by bus, and I sat by the window so I could take some photographs. In one town, I looked out and saw a pair of young men playing Ping-Pong. Everyone was outside, walking around on this beautiful sunny day, some speeches were still in progress while many families had already attended the local parade and were now strolling the streets, and here were these two playing Ping-Pong on the front lawn!

Ping-Pong on the front lawn © Louisa J. Curtis

Now, the very next day, back in New York, I attended the PDN Annual Photo Party at the Tribeca Skyline Studios. During the presentations and speeches I was standing towards the back of the room on the left by the windows, and at one point when I glanced out I noticed on one of the roofs below, amongst all the beautiful rooftop gardens, none other than a Ping-Pong table! So I pulled out my iPhone and discreetly took a couple of shots. How bizarre, I thought, and what’s up with the Ping-Pong?

Ping-Pong on the roof © Louisa J. Curtis

Now, continuing on with the sporting and dual theme, let’s talk about the latest transportation trend in our city – the invasion of the blue bikes, and bikes have 2 wheels! I know you’ve seen them, they’re everywhere, and they’re part of a big new bike-share program called Citibike sponsored by Citibank [which is naturally why the bikes are blue] and the City of New York to encourage everyone to ride around the city on bicycles, that you rent. Now I do appreciate encouraging people to exercise, but of course it has to be about making money as well, we’re talking after all about Mercury, the Planet of “value exchange” and you know how our mayor loves to make a dollar! All I had to do was walk outside my front door and across the street and there was a whole row of them for me to take a picture of.

Preparing to Ride © Louisa J. Curtis

Here’s how it works, and this may sound simple, but there’s a couple (!) of things you should know upfront before you run up the credit card! You can use any of the bikes at any of the locations around the city, and you can choose between a 24-hour Pass for $9.95 + tax, a 7-day Access Pass for $25.00 + tax, or you can sign up for an Annual Membership for $95.00 + tax. But hold it right there, even if you decide on the Annual Membership, and you have unlimited trips, the website clearly states that on any single trip, after 45 minutes of riding, you will start to incur overtime fees! [Really? Are you kidding me?] So if you want to go for a long bike ride, you have to either keep stopping and switching bikes every 45 minutes, or pay the extra money!

24-hour and 7-day riders are also entitled to unlimited trips but for only 30 minutes in duration, after which they too will be charged overtime. [Ching Ching – is it just me, or are they going to make a killing with this one?] 24-hour and 7-day riders are provided with an access code they must punch onto the keypad each time they unlock a bike [so for goodness sake don’t forget it!] while annual members are mailed their own unique key that slots right into the dock to unlock any bike at any time. [Except you have to wait for that key to arrive in the mail for that first time!] Another interesting note while we’re talking about bikes is that Gemini is the sign associated with short-term travel, short trips, so if rented bicycles doesn’t fit into that characteristic, I don’t know what does! Gemini‘s color is not in fact blue, it is Yellow, so at least the NY taxicabs got it right!

Citibikes © Louisa J. Curtis - Don’t you just love the defiant non-Citibike bikes, especially the blue one, still parked nearby!

As summer approaches, so do all of the wonderful outdoor activities in the city, and for 2 weeks (did I say 2 weeks?) in June (from June 1 – 16), they have brought back the wonderful free Pianos as part of Sing for Hope88 Pianos and 5 Boroughs. Again, I only have to walk outside my building and we have one right there amongst the benches. So here is someone already at the keys, being filmed and not just photographed by me! And I love that we have the piano painted like a “jigsaw” puzzle. Who better to solve a jigsaw puzzle than the analytical mind of Mercury and the sign of Gemini? In music, Mercury and the sign of Gemini are also associated with “harmony” and “rhythm” – so again how fitting for the pianos to be around during the sign of Gemini.

Man at Piano © Louisa J. Curtis

Now in closing, here are two (!) more funny things I saw from the Peter Pan bus (yes, the bus line was Peter Pan, part of the Bonanza Bus Line and of course Gemini is the Peter Pan of the zodiac) so how perfect for my Gemini friend to be riding the Peter Pan bus back to the city on his 65th birthday! This first one made me laugh because it was so unexpected. We were parked at one of the stops outside a pick-up terminal, and there was a big tree on the sidewalk – I looked up and saw in among the leaves and branches none other than an electrical outlet, albeit a bit rusty, it was the end of a extension cord. Gemini is connected with the electricity in your body after all… so I took a quick snap and the bus rolled on.

Electric Tree © Louisa J. Curtis

One other sign that had me curious and yet highly amused at the same time was in Torrington, CT, in the car park, where the fine for littering was not only seriously hefty, but also simply a weird amount? Back to that “value exchange” again, I guess – even a small town has to make money too!

Fine for Littering in Torrington, CT © Louisa J. Curtis

One last ironic note: Gemini is the sign connected with your breathing, your sinus and your lungs. I have spent the last couple of weeks, and in particular the last few days completely sneezing my head off. And when I say sneezing, I mean sneezing! I’m not one of those quiet sneezers, I literally shake the ceiling! Now, I don’t always suffer from allergies, but as soon as we went in to the sign of Gemini this year, and I started writing  this newsletter, it got worse and worse! So I’m hoping it will start to subside soon…

And as usual, Happy Birthday to all you Gemini’s out there!

Taurus, Stability and all things Green… ChatterLog May 2013

Greetings everyone and welcome to the May ChatterBulletin and the sign of Taurus!

Taurus, the Bull

Last month we talked all about Aries and Accidents and the planet Mars, which speeds up time, thus making us anxious and more likely to be accident-prone. But as soon as we step into the domain of Taurus, all that changes. Remember, whatever one sign is likely to do the next sign will do it differently. Where Aries sped everything up, Taurus will now slow it down. But it’s not simply a case of one sign does this, and the next sign does the other, because each sign also takes on whatever the previous sign gave them. With Taurus, it is their job to take all of that unbridled Aries energy and harness it so it can be put to good use. Their job is to stabilize the situation.  So our theme for this month is Stability.

What does Stability mean for you – a roof over your head, a steady job, or perhaps simply peace of mind?  Interesting to note that we use the word “stable” in terms of housing our livestock, and the animals we domesticate are generally kept in stables. But for most of us, Stability means being able to pay our bills every month. This is also why Taurus is the sign associated with Money, because in our society, money pays the bills and gives us that Stability – or does it? Many of you may have heard stories of how just because someone is has lots of money, doesn’t necessarily mean they are happy. So even if you have Financial Stability, doesn’t mean that you have Emotional Stability as well – that’s a whole other story!

Remember last year we talked about Taurus and the senses – and in this instance, as far as Stability goes, a Taurus will do what makes the most sense. Taurus is the 1st of our 3 Earth Signs, so by nature they are going to be practical and they are not afraid of hard work. Every Taurus I know is a hard worker. Earth likes to work. Taurus may be practical but they are not designed to be flexible, or to embrace change (that comes with our next month’s sign Gemini) – Taurus’ job is to hold on to whatever Aries discarded. This is why they are the sign associated with Possessions. Where Aries was fast, Taurus will be slow, and where Aries’ color was Red, with Taurus it is now Green, which makes total sense, since money is Green, and so is the garden where Taurus grows their flowers, fruits and vegetables. But here’s another reason why their color is Green. The Planet Venus rules Taurus, and the metal associated with Venus is Copper (remember with Aries and Mars, it was Iron?) Now when Copper oxidizes, it turns what color? Yes, it turns Green! And speaking of Green, Aries can be described as the rolling stone that gathers no moss (which happens to be Green in color), whereas with Taurus, that moss will surely be gathered. Here’s an image from photographer Taylor Glenn that fit my thought perfectly!

Moss © Taylor Glenn

If we take the ancient sport of Bullfighting, also known as Tauromachia or Tauromachy (see where the word Taurus comes from…) notice it is the color Red that lines the Matador’s cape and makes the bulls crazy! Consider then that the Matador is probably an Aries! Followers of this tradition view it as an “art” (notice the Taurus reference again – Taurus loves art) where the Toreros perform formal maneuvers and that it is not simply a bloodthirsty “sport.” When we were young and went to Spain on our holidays, we stayed near the tiny village of Mijas that boasted one of the only non-circular bullrings in Spain! In fact, it was oval and years later I saw the very same bullring featured in an episode of the television mystery series Rosemary & Thyme!

Now one of the photographers that I did not get the opportunity to review while I was in Palm Springs, but I noticed his work in the Source Book, was California-based fine art photographer Bill Johnson who happens to photograph Rodeo’s, and therefore cowboys and bull riders. So I contacted him to ask if I could show one of the images from his Rodeo series, and he was happy to oblige! Bill said, “I am following the rodeo and creating stories for my website RodeoLife.com. This image is of a bull ride in the Colorado Pro Rodeo Association Finals. The bulls are bred to buck and not harmed in any way. The rider’s goal is to stay on for 8 seconds. The bulls usually win!”

Flying Bull © Bill Johnson

Bulls, and Taurus in general like to eat, drink and fornicate, or shall we say, “Make Love.” They love the finer things in life, beautiful art and music. So while we’re talking about love, here’s a very cool tidbit for you. The Planet Venus is associated with Love, and Vanity. Venus holds the mirror in which to see her beautiful reflection, thus Venus is also connected with Glass. So here is something both beautiful and made of glass that my friend sent me of an amazing and very earnest Duo, who play Tchaikovsky’s The Sugar Plum Fairy on a Glass Harp!  You’ve all heard of the expression “A Bull in China Shop” – so let’s hope the bull steers clear of the glasses! Click here or on the image to view the full piece.

But back to Stability Scientists refer to the Island of Stability in Nuclear Physics, while the economists are seeking yes, you guessed it, Financial Stability; there’s even the Financial Stability Board, headquartered in the ultimate Land of Finance aka Switzerland, that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system. Incidentally and not surprisingly, the sign of Taurus rules Switzerland as well as the Vatican City, and let’s be honest, you can’t get much more financially stable than the Catholic Church!

Logging Road in the Malaysian Rainforest © Jame Whitlow Delano

As I’m writing this article, there was literally a story on NY1 about how yet another greedy downtown developer is taking away a community garden on the lower east side of Manhattan. With so little green space in our city, it is ironic that the men who are going after the “green money” are so willing to destroy the “green gardens.” Also ironic and on the topic of “green” (but not in a good way either) is something I mention in my ChatterReport this month on the Palm Springs Photo Festival, where I saw (amongst others) photographer James Whitlow Delano speak about what else is happening on this planet, specifically in Malaysia, where logging companies for example, are totally destroying the local rainforests in order to grow “green bio fuel” – I mean, how messed up is that?

And in closing, Happy Birthday to all you hardworking, possession-loving and garden-growing Taurus!