Thursday, December 31, 2009

Project 365 - December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

As I do every year, I purge my closets of things that I have no use for. This year I cleaned out my clothes closet and the closet in the living room.

From my closet I pulled out four bags of stuff that I never wear. That will go to Plato's Closet or Goodwill later this week or early next week. That was an eight-hour project. But it was well worth the effort once everything was back in place and the vacuuming was completed!.

Day two and three was spent tackling the living room closet.

This first photo shows the dining room table with all of my containers of files and papers spread out. There was much more on the floor and on the couches throughout the living room! I can't believe how much STUFF we hoard! It felt so good to go through the STUFF and throw away whatever I haven't touched in more than a year.

I amassed three bags of papers and one pile that still needs to be shredded and thrown away. Feels wonderful to look into the closet and actually see the floor!

One of the best things about cleaning out closets are the treasures found! I found photos and photos and photos!! This particular photo was taken by Greg Matheson who is an AP Photographer. He still works at the White House. I haven't spoken to him since the 1980s but when the scandal at the White House happened where those reality TV people got into the White House uninvited, as the camera panned back, I saw Greg in the crowd! There was absolutely no mistaking him and Joel saw him too.

I was wearing my mom's sequined dress that she had worn to my cousin Dennis' bar mitzvah in the 1960s! The party took place on a ship in the Port of Miami and this suite belonged to Michael Talbott, one of the stars of Miami Vice who Joel did personal publicity for during the duration of the TV show.

You can see Greg in the mirror taking the photo of me.

There aren't many photos that I like of me, but this is one of them.

Adina and i ended up sitting in the kitchen until 1 am looking through all of the photos in the boxes that I had dragged out of the closet! That was the first time that she actually showed any interest in our family history. So then there is always a reason for things that take place. And now I have two clean closets . . . for now!!

Project 365 - December 29, 2009

Heading Home

I left New York on Monday afternoon. The temperature was about 35 degrees, the sun was out and the were no clouds in the sky. I kept taking deep breaths of that cold air.

My airport experience was very easy. Went through security with no trouble. I boarded the plane on time and we took off on time. Amazing! I even had an empty seat next to me. What luck. Of course, I had to climb over the lady on the end every time I needed to use the restroom because she was on the extremely heavy side and didn't want to stand up.

To entertain myself, I took lots of photos out the window of the sunset. I wish that I could have captured the brilliant rainbow of colors that I could see for miles and miles. I just couldn't do it with the Blackberry camera. But this was my view out the window. Sorry about the big smudge, but that was on the window and I wasn't about to clean Jet Blue's windows for them!!

Project 365 - December 27, 2009

Steven Times Three

Although the reason I was in New York was for such a tragically sad reason, I kept finding ways to cheer people up.

My sweet 48 year old cousin Scott had a heart attack and passed away on Christmas morning. He leaves behind three beautiful children and a wife. A home in East Meadow, complete with a dog, a backyard, a BBQ pit and fire pit where he loved to shoot the breeze with his many, many friends over a beer or two. He also leaves behind the hearing aid business in which he was a partner with his dad, my mom's closest cousin.

It was so unbelievably sad, but right here in his home, as we sat around the table and solemnly ate the food from the trays and trays of food brought in and served to us by the friends and neighbors who were taking care of Scott's wife and children with kid gloves, I found a bit of humor. I took my time. I sat in the living room next to Jennifer, Scott's almost 19 year-old daughter and showed her this photo that I took.

She smiled. The first smile that I had seen on her face since I arrived in New York. She got it.

You see, this is a photo of my cousin Steven, her uncle. Next to Steven is Steven, her other uncle (her mom's brother) and his partner of more than two decades, Steven!

Then when I told her the story about my cousin Steven who was dating a guy named, what else, Steven!! She actually laughed! That was the best sound!

The four Steven's used to get together and go out. Could you imagine it? "Hi, I am Steven, this is Steven, Steven, and Steven!"

Sounds like a George Foreman commercial, huh?

Project 365 - December 23, 2009

Seasons of Love

I took Adina to Miami Beach to see the show Rent! One of my favorites, not THE favorite, that would be Wicked, but it is the next favorite! This is my third, maybe fourth time seeing the show. Also saw the movie several times as well.

Can you tell that Adina was just a little bit excited? And to top it all off, Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal were in the show, they are the original cast members from Broadway if you aren't a Broadway geek like the Leshinskys!

It was a school night and a very busy week for me, but it was worth going down to the renovated Jackie Gleason theater which is now call the Fillmore. They ripped out the cushy theater chairs and put in folding chairs to make it feel like a black box theater. I like the feel of it. It was definitely a sell out crowd.

We didn't get home until well past midnight and I had to be up at 6 a.m. But it was so worth it. Just look at Adina's face! How often do you get to see a 14 year old smile?

By the way, I have to give photo credit to Mary Damiano! Thanks Mary.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Project 365 - December 27, 2009

Rest in Peace

People die daily. But when you are touched by death in a very personal way, your life suddenly changes . . . forever.

On Christmas morning my cousin Michael called. I thought he was just going to tell me that he had a wonderful time at my house Christmas eve. But I heard a different tone in his voice and knew this was a serious call.

He called to tell me that his brother Scott had a heart attack and died. He said it fast, like he had to spit out the words like something that tasted bad. I gasped. Rachel kept asking, "what is it, what is it Mommy??"

After I hung up I sobbed uncontrollbly for a long time before I could tell her. You see, Scott is the third of four brothers. We all grew up together in New York. First they lived in Brooklyn and then in Far Rockaway and then just a few blocks from my childhood home.

We were always at each other's homes. My mom and their dad grew up together in Brooklyn. Their mom's came over from Europe together as youths.

Scott was 48 years old. He was married for 24 years, lived in East Rockaway, had three beautiful children. He was a partner with his dad in a hearing aid business.

Scott could make anyone smile. He had an enormous source of energy that he used to love his children, his wife, his family and his community. He had a love for baseball that drove him to try out for the Mets in his 30s! He loved music and played drums.

Sure he was nutty, but all the Crohn's are. That is what made him so lovable.

When my mom was sick, he was right there for me. Holding my hand and throwing his arm around my shoulder as they did CAT scans and MRIs and whatever else to see if they could save my mom.

When Julia was born, I happened to be in NY and I got to be in the room as they wheeled her in and her proud papa scooped her up and held her so we could all see her sweet little face.

So, learn to live your life. Enjoy every moment. Life is incredibly short and we all need to be doing what we love. Find your passions. Create lasting memories.

Rest in peace my sweet cousin. I will always remember the twinkle in your eyes and the smile on your face.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Project 365 - December 13, 2009

Another Beautiful Day in South Florida

We started the day with a Jazz Concert in the Park. It was a hot day, but cool in the shade. As always, great company.


Here are Joel and Richard relaxing. Lynn was under the weather and couldn't join us this time. I was "stand in" wife once again!

Later in the day I took a walk around our complex as the sun was setting. I took all of these on manual. I was sitting on the floor using the widest angle possible.

Loved the colors of the sunset reflecting on the water.

And last but not least, I found these odd looking seed pods that had landed on the top of the electrical cabinet at the side of the road. I thought this view made it look like some alien beach.

Project 365 - December 10, 2009

Random Shots

When I came home this day I was at the intersection of 441 and Oakland Park Blvd. as the sun was setting and this is the special time of day that the millions of black crows come out and land on the electrical wires. I love the sound that they all make too.

Then when I got home, I took a photo of Joel because he had just come home from a meeting and he looked so go, I needed to document it!

Project 365 - December 7, 2009

Gotta Brag, Just a Little!

So I am the proud parents of a first place winner in the Cypress Bay Lighnting Tournament Duo Interpretation category!!!

The trophy was almost as big as Adina. I didn't know about it until the next morning because I had to be the "stand-in" wife for our friend, Richard. His wife, Lynn, didn't feel well and Richard was invited to the FIU vs FAU football game by the president of FIU. So, I went and lo and behold, I had to wear a nametag that said,"Lynn" all night long and people were asking us about our son! It was hysterical. Needless to say, it was a fun evening and I ended up coming home after midnight and everyone was sound asleep. So that is why I was surprised first thing in the morning by this trophy in my bed!!

Project 365 - December 6, 2009

Ann Curry Comes to South Florida

Earlier in the week I received an invitation from the Palm Beach Photographic Centre to come up to hear a lecture by Ann Curry of NBC's Today Show. I immediately said yes!! I was so excited because I know that Ann Curry is a wonderful photographer and has shown some of her work on The Today Show. She works mainly in black and white. her father was a photographer and taught her everything about photography.

So, Joel and I went up there (after driving to Weston to drop Adina off at her Debate Tournament) only to find out that they weren't letting anyone else in because it was full. Well, somehow, I did get in, I had to stand in the back of the room, but I really didn't care. It was a wonderful presentation and her photographs are really amazing. The exhibit is entitled, "Empathy." She takes her camera everywhere that The Today Show sends her on assignment. The images are tough to look at and yet they are so human and brings remote parts of the world to reality.

The lecture took place in the West Palm Beach County Commission chambers. Ann Curry spoke with such passion and answered each question thoughtfully and fully. I found her truly engaging to listen to.

After the lecture we went into the gift shop of the Photographic Center and had our poster signed by her. Ann spoke to me for a very long time. I was first in line because Joel didn't go with me into the lecture. Instead he bought the poster and sat in line waiting for me. She was very down to earth and when I told her that I was an aspiring photographer, she encouraged me to continue and channel my life and frustrations and strife and happiness through my art.

Although it was a rainy day, it was warm and we didn't need to rush to go anywhere since Adina's tournament wouldn't be over until 10 pm and she had a ride home, we decided to walk on Clematis Street.

The street was closed for a festival. That evening there was to be a concert by Vanilla Ice. Not my cup of tea, but cool that it would be right out there on the street. As we walked I saw this bench and I really liked it. I thought that we should have something pretty like this in Broward County. The artists could have a contest to paint each bench in a different style.

We chose a Mexican restaurant for lunch and to my surprise, Joel wanted to sit outside. I love to sit outside and watch people walk by. I find it very entertaining. From our vantage point we watched the folks setting up for the Vanilla Ice concert. A huge stage, many lights with colored gels and a portable screen to project the concert onto so that everyone in the crowds would be able to see.

What really caught my attention was one drip of water that was falling from the overhang onto a high top shellacked wooden table. As the water fell and landed it created a wonderfully high splash. So I ventured over and waited for the appropriate moment to snap so that I could capture the splash.

I know that this was the first time that Joel realized what I do for my art! He never goes with me when I shoot, really shoot for hours and he was fascinated and i do think I might have impressed him a bit because he started talking about my photography to people! It is always good to have a family member on your side!

This last photo was taken from the car. We were just starting to move and I only had one chance to get it. I wanted to capture the heavy weight of the world on this woman's shoulders.

Project 365 - November 29, 2009

Another Goodbye

Goodbyes are never easy, but knowing that Rachel would be back in three weeks made this one much less painful. It is dark because Rachel's flight back to Indianapolis left at 6 a.m.!! It is also better to be the first plane out! Fewer delays.

As we were leaving the airport I told Joel to drive east. He looked at me with that face that told me that the only place he really wanted to be was home in bed reading the newspaper, but he obliged me and we ended up at Las Olas and A1A so that that I could take photos of the sunrise.

I can't say that it was the most glorious sunrise ever, but it was very pretty. There are VERY interesting characters roaming around at 6:30 in the morning. I entertained myself while Joel patiently sat on the wave wall. He really isn't a fan of the beach or the warm weather or the great outdoors. Oh well, too bad. We live in this fabulous part of the country and I want to document it!!

Joel gave Rachel a big hug as I snapped away with my camera.

The rest of these photos were taken over the course of about an hour or less. I played with the aperture so that I could get all sorts of different effects. I liked these because it showed off the blues of the early morning light.

Project 365 - November 27, 2009 Part II

Faces of Thanksgiving

No fancy photos here today. Just saying thanks for a healthy year, a year of challenges and new experiences culminating in a feast where everyone had enough to eat and plenty to talk about.

The Hosts

Aunt Marilyn and Uncle Howard

Rachel and Andrew

Rachel and Devon

Roni and Adina

Richard and Lynn

Project 365 - November 27, 2009

Hey You're in My Hammock!

It was a wonderfully sunny and hot day and we had already set the table for Thanksgiving dinner, so we went outside to relax on the hammock. Oh, right, Rachel plopped down and spread out so that mommy didn't have any room.

No problem, just grabbed my camera and started shooting whatever. These are my results.

Who knew that weeds could be so pretty. A little crawling around on my stomach in the grass gave me a bug's eye view of these pretty weeds.

Next to our cement pad that serves as our "backyard" are three huge clay pots filled with flowering plants. Don't know what they are called, but I love the colors and the textures. This moth or butterfly (I guess butterfly since moths don't fly around during the day) landed on one of the flowers and I took a few shots. This was the best of the bunch. A bit over exposed I think but okay.

This lizard lives in and around the base of the potted plant on a constant search for insects to ingest. He posed long enough for me to take this shot. I love the wide aperture and short focal range. And, see the stem of the plant? I love the rugged texture.

Now you can see why there was no room on the hammock for me. But there is my college student, relaxing before the storm of visitors decended upon us for the Thanksgiving feast!

I loved the way the sun was making Grace's ears glow. I admit I used Photoshop to brighten up her eyes a bit, but not much.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Project 365 - November 21, 2009

On a Clear Day

On a clear day you can see forever . . . well that's how the song goes anyway. I woke up really early on this day and went out to get the newspaper. When I looked toward the golf course (that isn't a golf course anymore) I saw this beautiful site.

Fog is so mysterious looking to me. It is like the clouds fell from the sky and landed oh the ground. The sunrise was making all of this magical to me. So I spent about an hour walking up and down the street, out onto the golf course and around the lake to capture these shots. Oh, by the way, I was in my pajamas! The guard at the guard gate was having a bit of a giggle when he peeked out at me. But I didn't care. I was only after the shots!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Project 365 - November 11, 2009

Spirit Week

It was Spirit Week at Nova High School and Adina and her friend, Rachel, decided to dress up for "Respect your Elders Day" as Poppa snd Elaine. So they went "shopping" in Poppa's closets! This is the result of the fruits of their labor! They were hysterical!

Project 365 - November 9, 2009

Veterans Day

The City of Lauderhill held a special ceremony for veterans that live in the city. They sent special invitations to a few residents and my dad was one of them. During the ceremony the commissioners presented each veteran with a plaque and read a short bio about their tour of duty in whichever war they served.

The veterans ranged from their 20s to 90s and every war you can think of from WWII and the Korean War to the current conflict in the mideast.

My dad joined the Navy after working in the Naval Shipyards in Philadelphia. He was shipped out on a destroyer into the South Pacific. This ship would mine the ocean, cut the connectors to the underwater bombs and then shoot them to detonate them so that other ships could pass through safely.

Not only did my dad go to Nagasaki but he also went to Hiroshima but after the bombs had been dropped. He really didn't talk about these experiences much in the past, but as I was interviewing him to get this information for the city, he told us about the experiences and he said it wasn't really something that he wanted to remember.

But he was thrilled that he was being honored and he was beaming the entire evening as you can see from these photos.

In this first photo, Vice Mayor Margaret Bates is standing among several of the honorees.

Mayor Richard Kaplan reads my Dad's bio as my Dad listens to his story.

Director of the City of Lauderhill Parks and Recreation Department Irv Kiffen and our friend Gert Wolder who is on the Inverrary Association Board of Directors with Joel. Irv was a professional basketball player for the San Antonio Spurs and was was a member of the U.S. national team at the 1978 FIBA World Championship. He is 6'9" and I purposely shot this from a low angle to emphasis the difference in height between Irv and Gert!!

Joel and my Dad looking rather dapper, huh?

During the City Commission meeting (which is televised on Comcast) the Mayor presented each veteran with an official plaque from the city!

Even Adina got dressed up for the occasion.

And I even got into the photo this time!