59/365: i am not my hair

it was a few years ago now that a man in france, i think he was a greek tourist, commented on my hair, comparing it to my dog's. we didn't understand each other well, or maybe not at all. but he said it with a big smile on his face, wasn't being unkind.

what? i thought to myself, my hair is white? like daisey's? but IT WAS! it was growing out white. after decades as a bottle-blond. 

it took years for all the blond to grow out long enough to be chopped off, leaving only gray. it was an uncomfortable, and not very pretty, process.

these days i hear frequent comments on my hair. strangers regularly stop me to offer compliments, recently at the airport. i have grown into my gray hair, and am no longer upset, at all, by people noticing it. it is what it is, and i try to take care of it. keep it healthy and hydrated. that's all. 

daisey goes to the groomer for haircuts much more often than i, and comes home with such closely cropped fur that she looks almost naked, like a large rat, not as cute as the furrier version. but she looks out of those innocent eyes with the same love and openness. i still look in her eyes and each time remember, she is just as she was before the hair cut. she is NOT her hair.

and i am not mine.

 

pasting faces

this is one of the most powerful photographic projects i have ever seen, ever. JR is asking all of us to share our portraits and stories. anyone can upload a portrait to his large-scale art project inside out and receive it printed on a poster to *paste.*

you'll see ...

i'm uploading this portrait:

this is my dear friend laura. her lovely mother has had cancer for the last several years. every time we speak, i hear courage in laura's voice. and vulnerability, and heartbreak. and strength. and love. this is the story i am sending to JR's project.

just what my heart needed

arrived home this afternoon weary, exhausted. too much to do, too many decisions, too too too. until i saw the package from germany placed on my front porch. and i knew, this was exactly what my heart needed. i waited until the right moment, and sat, and touched the linen cover, let my eyes drink it in. and opened.

i had been anticipating this *stunning* book by ubertalented stylist/photographer/traveller pia jane bijkerk for months after having discovered her blog. not available yet on US amazon. after searching around for the past three weeks since it was released in australia, i finally found one, i think from amazon germany. MINE! i jumped on it with my credit card.

tonight my heart will wander, with pia's, to france and holland. and then further on, my heart will continue to wander. mine heart.

photoflow: instant bliss!

just five days ago, i fell in love. again. (some of my friends find me fickle. what can i say, i just love lots of things!) 

this time, it's a love affair with *instagram

i had seen it around the internet, but didn’t really get it, so didn’t look into it. i’m never at the front of the pack when it comes to tekkie things, and usually i’m months if not years behind.

this time, i’ve discovered something toward its debut (instagram launched in october 2010), and it’s so much fun to see it grow. in just the last five days! it’s spreading like wildfire.

so let me share with you what i've found, to make it easier for you to join in the fun! here's the skinny:

instagram is a *free* app for iphone that lets you take pictures and add filters with a tap of your finger (similar to hipstamatic, but simpler) which turn regular photos into magnificent beauties. it also has a "tilt shift" feature which enables you to control depth of field.

the most exciting thing about instagram is its instantaneous sharing possibilities. once you take the picture, you can automatically upload your photo to fb, flickr, twitter and more. and just like fb, you can "friend" people and see their photo streams (they call it "feed") and they can see yours, instantly! these are viewed in the iphone itself, and on third-party websites (the one i use is called webstagram. i also like inkstagram).

as soon as i learned of this new delight, i emailed my friends in france and england to share. my friend manny started instagramming that very day! now i can *see* what her daily, hourly, life is like! 

in fact, i had sent manny a care package with some coconut chai which she loves but can't get over there, and this morning i saw this in my feed by manny:

it warmed my heart to see her enjoying my gift. so instead of emailing her back, i decided to instagram her a photo of my morning coconut chai!

and that is how technology can actually create connection, with someone on the other side of the world!  

here are the links and info i've found which may be helpful:

official instagram site for download: http://instagr.am/

official instagram blog: http://instagr.am/blog/

helpful articles about instagram: http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_18147909?nclick_check=1, http://blog.appboy.com/2010/10/5-things-instagram-got-right-that-others-before-it-couldnt/

webstagram site for viewing instagram photos: http://web.stagram.com/feed/

inkstagram site for viewing instagram photos: http://inkstagram.com/

i'm sure there's much more. maybe i'll see you there! (my username is eyechai)

kissing in the rain ...

can you feel it? it's happening. it's coming. the sun. the warmth. the growth. the life. rebirth. SPRING! 

EVERYONE is coming out of their caves, their winterized spaces, their lairs. coming out into the SUN!

can you feel it? 

i have been busier these last two weeks with PEOPLE than over the whole of winter, it feels. and i have lots of photographs of these pale and happy faces. 

and yet, here i am, photographing plants, still. 

daisey and i walked out this afternoon, after a day of gray drizzle. woodsy fireplace smoke like french countryside.

raindrops lay in the late low rays of march, whispered

kiss me!

and so i did.

and this is what those kisses looked like. tasted like. wet. juicy. exciting. SPRING!

monday memories / RTW trip: the end of the end

sadly there are no more photos from our RTW trip, even though we visited three more countries (there were supposed to be five). here's the story of the early end of our trip:

after the last post about israel ... 

we headed north to greece where we had both previously travelled. i had spent my sophomore college year in greece. curt had travelled with a friend to visit someone in my group. amazingly we had both been at the same new year’s eve party in athens 12 years prior but had not met! 

this time, we wanted to stay at the same hotel for old time's sake ... but there was no room. was this a sign of things to come? 

so we island hopped to skyros to stay with the cutest aussie couple we had met just for an evening in egypt ... that’s travellers for you. so open! stayed with them for a week of eating (olives, feta, dolmades, calamari), gabbing and laughing (into the wee hours), motorbike touring (including a flat tire, which we fixed with more ouzo) and beach time. heaven. 

pulled ourselves away from this little piece of paradise and headed to italy to send most of our stuff home, buy bicycles and panniers and start our cycling portion – the last portion – of our trip: cycling and camping from italy to portugal. 

i had been lobbying curt for a bike trip through europe since the beginning of our RTW trip. thinking europe is so expensive compared to southeast asia, let's just ride bikes and camp, keeping our costs down. it'll be fun! we'll wine taste in france. you'll see!

turned out this was the HOTTEST summer on record in southern europe. we started in june in italy. we hadn't yet headed southward (HOTward) to spain or portugal in even HOTTER july. to beat the heat, we rose each day before dawn to eat a hearty breakfast and break camp. had some dazzlingly stunningly beautiful dawn rides down country lanes in italy. but as the mornings progressed into noontime (HOTtime), we melted each and every day. we pedaled between 54 and 108 kilometers daily, then would roll into a campsite and soak in the swimming pool all afternoon. ate pasta every night for dinner and crashed to sleep, waking again pre-dawn for another day of the same. it was europe, it was beautiful, but it was just too darn HOT. 

crossing into france was exciting, except that we somehow lost each other in the hilliest place of all: monaco. we each ended up riding up and down that huge hill in monaco a few times until we found each other, relieved to find each other and furious that we'd become separated and had to ride up and down that @#!&* hill so many times. our bikes were pretty heavy, and even heavier with full panniers.

in nice, we wanted to go to the matisse museum. having left our rear panniers in the tent in the campground, we locked our bikes in front of the museum. i left the handlebar bag on my bike. curt thought i should carry it into the museum, but i didn't want to lug it. no one will steal anything, i argued to curt. (i can be pretty darn persuasive. it'll be fine, you'll see!) both of us forgetting he had put his travellers checks in the my bike bag that morning, which also contained all my exposed film from italy, greece and israel. THIS WAS ABOUT THE DUMBEST MOVE I MADE ON THE ENTIRE TRIP! 

went to the window just 15 meters from our bikes to buy our museum entrance tickets. when we turned around to look at the bikes before entering the museum, my bike bag had already been stolen. 

after a few low days sorting out travellers checks, we steered our bikes into the countryside of france, pointed toward portugal. looking forward to shifting gears back into happiness, we wanted to make our french cycling dreams come true, lavender and sunflowers and wine tasting, all that! still, it was HOT. 

another dawn start and we were in a wine region early in the morning. the first winery sign we saw, curt wanted to stop for a taste. the sign pointed toward a little dirt lane with a bend so we couldn't see how far it was to the winery. the lane was a downhill (which means i have to ride back uphill with heavy bike and panniers). it was 9am. we started down the lane and then i said STOP! 

i wasn't about to go knocking on a winery door at 9am. and it might not have even been a proper tasting room, could have been just some winemaker's home. no way. and especially since i didn't know how far off the main road it was. downhill. i wasn't having any of it! 

infuriated, curt rode back uphill toward the main road. when i got to the main road, he was nowhere in sight. i waited. we had ONE RULE for cycling together: wait at all intersections for the other. i waited and waited. finally i started riding in the direction of our destination. didn't see curt for an hour. stopped at the first sign of civilization, a cafe along the road. excusez-moi, have you seen a cyclist? they had not seen him. i was very worried. where was curt? had he fallen into a ditch? someone offered to drive me back to the country lane with the winery sign. he wasn't there. i looked in the ditches and bushes along the way. back at the cafe, i waited some more. they suggested we call the gendarmes (police). so the gendarmes arrived, i told them my story, and we went out looking for curt. 

we found him riding further along on the main road. loaded him and his bike in the cop car and brought him back to the cafe. i was crying. he was seething. while the gendarmes read curt the riot act in french. 

this bike trip was not turning out to be the fairy tale cycling escapade i had imagined. 

we were arguing. a lot. it was HOT. maybe riding all the way to portugal was not the best idea under the circumstances. we made it all the way to aix en provence. still HOT. still bickering. we looked at one another and agreed. it was time. time to go home. as soon as we even mentioned the idea out loud, a wave of relief came over both of us.

10 months. 13 countries. a lifetime of memories. 

~~~~~

lessons learned: travel. go! go NOW! you never know when or if you will have the opportunity again. oh, and never ever EVER leave important things in a bike bag. 

+++++

before the trip, i had recently graduated grad school in journalism and was freelancing as a photojournalist at the oregonian. curt and i had seen "jean de florette," a movie about a parisian couple who moved to a village to live a simpler life. we thought it would be fun to rent a house in the french countryside for awhile. then we thought, why not travel? which mushroomed into why not travel around the world? i was 30 years old. i would have a full-time job someday and wouldn't be able to just up and leave for 10 months. curt had just been accepted to art school after working at the same job for many years, and was ready for a change. so we travelled!

a month after our return to portland, i was offered my first full-time job as a photojournalist at the long beach press-telegram. and moved to socal. curt and i went our separate ways. 

we are still very close and he has helped me remember our travels, so i could share them here. and i'm going to portland for christmas to see curt and other friends from college. this is the last installment of monday memories until the new year, when i will continue to remember and share. 

2011 monday memories will include stories of athletics, school, family, friends, spirituality, and of course, lots more travel! 

thank you for coming along on these journeys, which i hope inspire you to remember your lives, your special moments, and your lessons learned while living.

peace.

xh

five things: atkins (including, they might just come to your house!)

WANT TO MEET A FUN ENGLISH FAMILY LIVING IN THE FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE?

1. my friends the atkins family are coming to the usa next summer (!!!), and touring with their film. you know, the one they made with their uber-talented family and friends last summer in france and spain ... you know, the one i worked on, too. 

2. they are calling this the "throw me a rope" US road trip, a kind of extension of their "welcome to the world" tour in europe, only this time they have a film to show!

3. they'll be entering film festivals and doing Q and As in as many cities as possible.

4. they want to show their film to YOU! they'd like to do in-home screenings or "film parties" in people's homes all over the country. and they are looking for drama/music groups, summer schools and colleges, fundraising groups, any group or organization which might want to screen 'if you ever get to heaven' for any reason. who knows, they might do some concerts, too!

5. so, if you would like to meet this warm, friendly, open, generous, interesting, and fun family ... WHY DON'T YOU CONSIDER HOSTING A SCREENING? whether you are a family or single, all you need is a tv screen and some friends. just contact manny atkins and set a date sometime next july or august and invite your friends over for a "film party"! watch the film with the atkins family, ask questions of the parents (director & producer & actor) and the children (actors & crew), have a gathering, have fun, meet new people, open your world, open your home ... to this delightful english family living in france. 

contact manny atkins at amanda@43pictures.com.

and follow them on facebook and twitter.

ps - i met this family online, after reading and commenting on their blog. we became online friends, and i ended up working on their film! and we'll be friends forever. you just never know where these connections might lead. and at the very least, you can have new friends in another part of the world! and ... i'll most definitely be hosting a screening party at my house next summer!

 

photoflow: fresh perspective

when in need of a fresh perspective ...

give a kid your camera!

on a film production last summer in france and spain, i worked alongside 6 kids ranging from 9-19 (yes, i’m old enough to consider 19-year-olds “kids”). three actors, a set designer, a sound recordist, and a musical director/camera assistant -- these are some talented kids! sometimes they almost outnumbered the adults (we were 6 – 14 adults, depending on the day) on this heavenly film shoot. 

one long day shooting in the middle of a vast hay field in northern spain -- during a lull in the work -- i let 11-year-old beth borrow my camera. didn't pay any attention to what she was shooting. only to find this when i got my camera back:

i love this shot, such a quiet moment captured. and the tilt just adds to the interest, bringing the moment inward, toward nicoletta who usually had to act tough (she played the beautiful villain in the film). beth reminded me that WE CAN TILT HORIZONS with fabulous results!

i was schooled for so long -- both in school and working as a photojournalist -- to get my horizons absolutely straight, perfectly horizontal. in fact, i recently posted a tilted horizon photo on facebook, and one of my former colleagues messaged back to straighten that horizon! but i'm all about breaking the (silly, constricting) rules these days. 

toward the end of the shoot, with so much work behind us, we were in great need of a party. fortunately cinematographer kyle's birthday came at just the right moment. beth's younger brother arty (or was it beth again?) borrowed my camera during a festive dinner at the home of the filmmakers. and this was the result:

seeing in a completely different way than i usually see. and right on ... capturing the jovial moment: playful richard, the distinctly euro-feel of the meal, breadcrumbs and all. maybe it was just that arty -- if it was arty --sat a little lower than i normally sit, so he saw THROUGH the wineglass. whatever. the result reminds me to bend my knees, get lower, or higher, or from the side, or anything other than how i usually see from my 5'9" viewpoint. 

these young people taught me so much that summer. just one of the things they taught me was how so see. with a fresh perspective.

While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see. 

~Dorothea Lange

five things to love

 

chile love: the chilean miners are safe and sound above ground! and the whole world cared!

adya love: today is the LAST DAY to register for a 2011 retreat with adyashanti (my teacher). pure truth and love. no bs allowed. 

chicken love: wow chicken temple in portland, designed by the wow multi-talented lubosh cech.

l'amour: fall into the haute-loire, france, with my pal manny and her beautiful daughter beth.

chakra love: had to get one of these divine heart chakra pendants by tulku. helping me keep my heart open. (even made the cute checkout guys at whole foods stop and stare.)