Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Angel Daughter Number Four with a smile almost as large as her own.

When I was in High School, my father set up a darkroom for me in the recesses of our haunted basement, handed me a Nikon camera(always our family camera of choice), and told me "Go to it, Kid."  Equipped with my telephoto lens, I set out to photograph one of my favorite species at the time.  High School football players.  Having dated several of them, they didn't think anything of having me hang around the perimeter of the field while shooting random photos.  When I realized that there was a premium amongst players and their families for action photos of football players doing what they do, I began charging sixty cents a print and developing the photos in our basement.  I was always torn between doing what I loved and spending time in that dark, dank basement that I swear was built upon some ancient burial plot, but that is a different story for a different day.  I would run down the stairs and straight into my darkroom where I would promptly slam the door behind me.(as if doors keep creepy things from going through walls)  I can still smell the pungent odor of developer that permeated the air in my little, dimly-lit space.  I used to get lost in the creative work of darkness and negatives and paper dipped in liquids.  It was almost other-worldly for me as I waited for seemingly nothing to appear into something.

I suppose that my father instilled the love of photography in me and then, into Angel Daughter Number Two.  When I was a child, he was always chasing me around to pose for one picture or another.  It seemed kind of annoying at the time.  Not too many children like to stand still for as long as it takes to snap a few photos(especially my own, STILL!), but it did not take long for me to realize the benefit of having many childhood/family photos and I quickly learned to appreciate the keepsaking of a memory.
Digital cameras did not come along until my Angel Daughters were a bit older and so, most of their childhood photos are on paper which definitely has its benefits.  I have boxes upon boxes upon boxes of their childhood photos and sometimes we go through them, giggling, oohing and ahhhing, or just passing them back and forth quietly misty-eyed from the moments that went by way too fast.  I am glad for those printed photos.  I cherish each and every single one of them.  They are the first things that I would grab if God forbid, there was an emergency.  But I am also glad now for the capability to shoot seemingly frivolous digital photos of colorful, homegrown tomatoes because I might not have if I was shooting with film and there is something to be said for snapping a picture just because the beauty of the moment moves you.  Lately, I have been playing around with Instagram and I love it.  It allows me to take a picture on a moments whim and then tweak it or not which I am doing less and less of, the tweaking I mean.  I always have my phone with me which almost allows me to feel secure enough not to always lug my heavier Nikon along.  I did say almost, family.

Here are some photos that I took with my camera which also happens to also be a communication device. Small details...
Angel Daughter Number Three getting ready to leave for work in the wonderful shirt that she made with her own little hands in Sewing class.  I love that she is learning to create clothing with her hands.(One of Angella's recent posts reminded me of how precious this will someday be.)  Yesterday AD3 made an adorable pair of shorts that I will take a picture of her wearing the next time she puts them on.  She is such a fashion maven!
An instashot of Angel Daughter Number Two and me.  Since her arms are longer than mine, she got to hold the camera, I mean phone, I mean...Oh, whatever.
Louis, the adorable marmalade kitty and my nighttime cuddle buddy.  I am going to be sad if Angel Daughter Number Two really decides to take him back.  Just saying...After all, I am almost an empty-nester these days.
This is the main drag through our little town and I never really looked at it until the day that I took this picture.  This sort of epitomizes the feel of what it is like to live in San Clemente.  Palm trees, sunshine and ocean on the horizon no matter where you look.  Heaven.
Our front yard.  That is the city of Dana Point is in the distance, another wonderful costal town down here in Southern California.

Baby roses in a Jadite pitcher on our kitchen table.  Another one of the simple things that can elevate  life to the extraordinary.  It's all in the details, my friends.
Sunsplash on our faces.  Angel Daughter Number Four, my sunshine, and her momma.

Recently, I fell in love with succulents and when I found some that blossom in colors, I was hooked for good.  This one kind of reminds me of the man-eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors.  Good thing it is actually really small.
Angel Daughter Number One and her momma.  I love her smile.  Once again, she is the one holding the camera because, well you know.
Callie is our only female feline which is why the three males fight.(and yes, they are all spayed and neutered.  I guess they still somehow know what they should be doing if they could.)  She causes so much trouble and doesn't even realize it.  I suppose it does not matter the species.  Women have been causing men to battle since the beginning of time.
Happy, happy, or as my husband says, happy wife, happy life!

And finally, Micah, our handsome boy.  Those eyes allow him to get away with quite a bit sometimes.

Interestingly enough, I have been thinking about purchasing a film camera to play around with aside from my digital cameras and my iPhone.  AD2 has been encouraging me to do this.  There is something about the process of shooting with film.  Although we do not have the room for a darkroom right now, there might be room for one in the future.(Hopefully, the next one won't come with any uninvited guests.)  Something about feeling like my girls are now grown-ups is also causing me to feel more generous with not only my words, but also my photo-taking moments.  It is like I am looking for something to nurture that begins within and then metamorphoses its way out into the world for others to share.  A standalone body of work that is not breathing, per say.  I am starting to believe, really believe, that indulging ourselves with the things which make us feel good and useful and like we are utilizing the gifts that we were given is not only important, but necessary.  Very, very necessary.  And maybe not so indulgent after all.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Essence of a Found Hometown

San Clemente, California.  A patriotic little enclave in Southern California which has captured my heart and nourishes my spirit in a way that no other place ever has.  Living here has been like coming home after wandering through, for much of my life.  When I think about finally arriving here via a very long and winding road beginning with my original birthplace of Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, it feels as if we were meant to end up here, that we were somehow led here, and yet, it is a place that spent very little time on my radar during our first twenty-three years here in Southern California.  Mark and I have always lived with the feeling that we are being guided.  We always seem to end up in the right place at the right time.  And so, as we get ready to complete the packing and the moving from our Ladera house which has been home for almost twelve years, it is a good thing to know that we are not only moving, but coming home. 
This beach is known as T-Street.  It is very popular with locals and tourists, alike.  The beach is fairly flat and there are playgrounds for the children which makes it a fantastic spot for families.  We really like taking our pup, Micah, for walks along the San Clemente Beach Trail which spans approximately five miles long but allows you to pop on or off at various spots along the way.
I really enjoy bringing my camera with me whenever we go for a walk because the subjects down here are endless!
There is a restaurant at the foot of the pier that offers a gorgeous view of the Pacific and incredible sunsets.  Care to join me for lunch?

When this lifeguard came bounding down the pier with a very purposeful look in his eyes, I asked him how his day was going.  He told me that he was getting very tired because he had made nine rescues that day!  Sheesh!  I told him that he would sleep very well that night.

The older gentleman to the right was fishing with his son and grandson.  I noticed them because the grandson was being very sweet and gentle with his grandfather.

How incredibly lucky these two souls are to have each other.  Grandparents are extremely important in the lives of their grandchildren.  I see this relationship between my four daughters and their grandparents.  I have always encouraged my girls to spend time with their grandparents.  I have always said that my mother makes a much better grandmother than she ever did a mother.  I am very glad for that as my girls deserve to be treated like they are the most wonderful things since sliced challah;)
We are so lucky to be able to watch the flocks of Pelicans flying over our bluff during the summer months.  They are the most magnificent birds with huge wingspans and beautifully graceful flight.  This was the first time that we got to observe a Pelican up close.  He was hanging out at the end of the pier where people like to drop their fishing lines into the ocean.  It has become a learned behavior for them to beg for food but it is very important not to feed them because they are only supposed to eat certain things.  They are very good at pretending that they are starving to death so that someone will toss them a hand-out.  Quite an amazing adapted trait these birds have learned!  It is actually against the law to feed them but most people do not know that.  This guy just hung around staring at everyone with that "I'm cute and hungry" look in his eyes.  Stinker!
These bungalows are perched just above the beach overlooking the ocean.  I have never been inside of them, but I would imagine that the views alone, are the reason that people would stay here.
Some of the older architecture in our neighborhood is stunning.  I spotted this beautiful gate on this stucco home when Mark and I were taking Micah and Becca for a walk the other day.  There is always something wonderful to discover when we go out for walks;
Like the Neighborhood Watch for the Bird Sanctuary.

Or the constant color that makes San Clemente so vibrant and breathtaking.

Thank you for joining me on my little tour of this beautiful town.  It is definitely a place that is worth visiting and who knows?  Maybe, just maybe, you will find out that it is destined to end up being your hometown, too;)
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