Thursday, June 25, 2009

Beautiful Michigan--Father's Day

I get terribly sentimental about Ottawa County. I am probably a distant cousin to half of it. My mother's family has been in Ottawa County her great great grandmother Cornelia van der Bie emigrated there from the Netherlands in the late 1850's. I only have a couple of elderly aunts and some distant cousins who live there now, but when I was a child, I spent most of the time I spent in Michigan, in Ottawa County. My grandparents lived there, my aunts and uncles lived there, my cousins lived there. And I still like to visit Ottawa County.
This year, for Father's Day, we went to Grand Haven, which is the county seat. Grand Haven has a big state park, and the pier and the lighthouse. I wanted Frances to experience Lake Michigan.
Truth be told, she wasn't best pleased to experience Lake Michigan. She didn't want to walk on the sand, she didn't want to walk in the surf, so we carried her. She was rather partial to being carried by her Mommy. Of course, that's what Daddy gets, for going to Florida for eight days without Frances.
This is a shot of the beach at the state park in Grand Haven, with a view of the lighthouse and pier. I broke down and bought that new C-41 process black and white film, so the pictures could be processed in a one hour lab. There is a marked difference in the image quality, but I can't say I don't like the result.
Frances perked up when we carried her on our shoulders up and down the pier. There was no scary beach sand to walk on, so once she felt comfortable, she was willing to get down and explore things a bit.
She really enjoied watching all the boats go by. Watching the boats go by in Grand Haven put me in a very sentimental mood. My grandparents used to like taking me to the pier at Grand Haven, to watch the boats go by, when I was a child and underfoot. Ahh, the memories.

Franny took great pleasure in climbing on top of that round thing sticking up out of the concrete. She did it again and again, and smiled each time, like it was a grand accomplishment.
We would talk about the different boats, as they went by. "There's one with a red top... oh, look, they have their doggie with them. What does a doggie say? Woof! Woof! That's right, smart girl." You know how conversations with toddlers go.

We watched people swimming on the beach, and Frances wanted no part of that. We even watched cocky teenagers jumping off the pier the end of the pier, into the waves. Thats an unwise thing to do, and it brought back fond memories of my dear Grandfather... he was a retired police officer, and if he saw teenagers doing those running leaps off the pier, he would often remark "there's a fool who wants his name on a death certificate--I can't tell you how many times I've had to hose the brains of some stupid kid off that pier after the waves sent him crashing into it..." Frances was a bit startled when she saw teenagers running and doing canonballs off the pier, and so I whispered "there's a fool who wants his name on a death certificate" but, enlightened and sophisticated parent that I am, I spared her the more gory details that might fascinate a young boy, but might give a young lady nightmares. Ahh, memories...

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Lastly, I just got back from a week in Florida. I went without Suzanne and Frances, because I was there to work. Every year, a company flies nearly one thousand teachers from all over the world to a location so they can gather and grade a test involving student writing. Because of confidentiality laws, I can't go into any more detail than that about the test. It is my fourth year doing this sort of work, and I always have a great time meeting other teachers.
Here I am, assessing writing. My assessment is that they stopped teaching penmanship in many schools...

I met a grotesque old woman (her words, not mine) from Georgia.
As well as two interesting teachers from Utah.

And here I am with Noreen from California, and Miriam from Texas, who have, in past readings, been my partners in crime. When we did this last year, we went and got henna tattoos on the last day of the reading.
I took this picture of palm trees-- as I live in Michigan, palm trees are terribly exotic and fascinating, though they are all over the place down there.

Here is a shot of the pier by the hotel. One year, I paid $1 to walk on the pier and realized it was a bunch of fishermen.
I took this picture of the beach at dawn one morning.
Here is a shot of my friend Noreen reading her poetry at a reading they held one night.
I took this picture from the window of my hotel room, on the 11th floor of the hotel. My camera had sat in air conditioning all day, and when I opened the window and stuck my camera out into the hot, humid air, the glass lens of the camera immediately began to fog up.
Here you can see what the beach looked like through my foggy camera lense. I kind of like the effect.
The company we worked for gave us money to go out to dinner one night, and I had a friend who had driven herself to the reading, so we decided to take a road trip to the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse in her convertible. The three of us climbed to the top of that lighthouse.

And here I am at the top. The view was worth climbing 21o steps.

Allegedly, we were supposed to be able to see Cape Canaveral from the top of that lighthouse, but I didn't know what to look for.
After doing all that climbing, we were hungry, so we went and had dinner at "Lighthouse Landing" which was, surprise, surprise, right across the street from the lighthouse.
I don't know what gave me the impression that Florida was tacky...
This was our view from our table, at Lighthouse Landing.

Lastly, here is a self-portrait that I took in one of the gift shops. It shows my little Olympus XA2, which I just love shooting. Some call it the "poor man's Leica"-- and while I don't know as I would go that far, I think its a fabulous camera because its compact, sturdy, it has fantastic optics, and its amazingly quiet. It was one of the first idiot-proof point and shoot cameras, and its worth every penny of the $13 I spent for it on ebay. I also love it because it has this electric eye (it runs on two button batteries) which automatically sets the correct apeture and exposure for the lighting, and because of this, you almost never need to use a flash, and as you can see, I carry it around without a flash most of the time. It takes grainy, contrasty, color-saturated pictures, which I love. Also, its a fast camera--it has a range focussing system which works well, and it works fast--much faster than most digital cameras.
I also must add, that I enjoyed the reading. I enjoyed meeting colleagues from all over, and I enjoyed being near the ocean and getting some sunshine to take back to Michigan. But I missed Suzanne, and I missed Frances, and after eight days away from them, I was very ready to get home.
This post has probably gotten longer than you care to read. Most of you come here to see pictures of Frances, not of me. But I felt like sharing. More pictures of Frances follow, so keep reading.

Virginia, more pics...

And, here are some more pictures taken while we were in took a while to get these back from the photo place, because they were done on old-school black and white film, and it seems that nobody processes that anymore.
I like this picture, it reminds me why I persist in using film and shooting pictures with old cameras which nobody uses anymore. I took this while Frances was eating lunch in a restaurant near the children's museum in Lynchburg. I didn't use a flash, and relied on natural light, and it came out wonderfully.
Here are Suzanne's brother Andrew, and his 4 y.o. son, ACE, who live in Virginia Beach, but came to see us while we were in Lynchburg.
Here is Frances with her cousin ACE. I shouldn't have turned on the flash--it bleached out the picture, and you can tell the difference between this picture, and the ones taken in natural light.
Here she sits on a turn-of-the-century child's rocking chair which originally belonged to her namesake--my grandmother Frances-- who was born in 1901. I used the flash here because I am sure it would have been too dark, otherwise.
This is a picture of my father, being silly. We are on the rickety old elevator in his building.
Here is Frances, exploring her grandfather's antique store...
Looking around, checking out the merchandise--somehow, management didn't complain about her handling the breakables...
just look at that baby, acting like she own's the place!
She had fun running around...

She likes climbing onto furniture and sitting on it like she's a grown-up.
Posted by Picasa


Late last month, on our way down to Virginia, we also stopped in Ohio to visit Suzanne's sister Catherine, and her children Rita and Dean, who live in one of the northern suburbs of Cincinatti. I didn't realize it at the time, but I shot all of the pictures I took on traditional black and white film (the kind that you can't process in one-hour labs) which I wasn't able to get back from the lab until recently. I love traditional black and white, but it takes a month of Sundays to get it back from the lab.
Here is Frances, on the playground equipment, with her Auntie Catherine and cousin Dean.
And here she is, having a grand time with cousin Rita.
And here she is, with Mom.

And again, with Mom.
This is one of the more interesting pictures I took--Frances was looking through the slats on a bridge over the pond, and I dangled the camera in front of her and clicked the shutter, and this is the result. That odd marking on top of her head is a cobweb.
And here is Frances exploring Auntie Catherine's backyard.

Posted by Picasa

Mother's Day Pics

I'm so behind on posting... first off, here are some more pics from Mother's Day. Because Mother's Day often falls on Suzanne's mother's birthday, we went to Lansing and Frances spent her first Mother's Day with her mother and grandparents. We had a lovely time walking around Michigan State University's campus. Because I'm a flim loyalist, and these were shot on traditional-process black and white film, it took a month of Sundays to get them back and scanned onto disc.
Oh--a humorous Frances story-- we went to pick out a present for Suzanne, and Frances picked out a glossy, bright orange wallet. I put it back and tried to direct her to something less obnoxious and more Suzanne, but Frances stuck to her guns, and now Suzanne resolutely uses a flashy, glossy, bright orange wallet.
Here are Suzanne's parents at lunch at the Qdoba on Mother's Day.

Here are Frances and her Grandmother, opening presents.

And here is Frances with her mother and Grandmother. They are sitting by the fountain in front of the library, and the MSU clock tower is in the background.
Here is Frances, sitting on a bench. She has taken to climbing up on benches.
And here I am with my favorite baby on my shoulders, in front of the tower.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Celebrating Adoption Photshoot

Another mother from our travel group clued us in to the wonderful program called Celebrating Adoption. The purpose of the program is to celebrate adoptions, and what is so wonderful about it is that its free for adoptive families. Within one year of the finalization of the adoption, the family is entitled to one free sitting with any photographer in the program. These aren't like photographers who sit you in front of a background and snap a picture--these are real photographers who do custom shoots. And its free for the adoptive families. And all the adoptive families know, NOTHING is free in the adoption world. (That is another post for another time--am I the only one who gets profoundly irritated at having to pay for a birth certificate? That just infuriated me, every time we had to do a homestudy update for USCIS, and we did three, to have to purchase another one of my own birth certificates, as if they changed every six months....grr! to add insult to injury, they also charge for death certificates, but I don't have one of those just yet)
Anyway, from several different area photographers who participate in the program, we wound up choosing the fabulous Amy Carroll Photography, and we had our first session at her studio in mid-May. We are going to have another session with her in a few weeks, this one will be outdoors somewhere, likely in one of the city parks. The results were fabulous. I was thrilled. You can see the proofs by clicking here. Then choose Frances's gallery, and then our case-sensitive password is Wood0509
The images are just amazing... so very retro, and so very US. Its a wonderful program, and we're just thrilled to have these wonderful images to commemorate our adoption adventure. To the other adoptive families who follow this blog--check out Celebrating Adoption's website, and find a photographer near you. Participating photographers are available all over the country--