This weekend is promising to be glorious -- our first real spring day, with no sudden dips in the temperature in sight. Last night, we even sat outside for dinner, and watched the bats fly overhead at dusk.
This is the time of year when it's great to live in Houston.
Happy weekend, friends.
This was a good week. Wanna know why?
• This week, some friends invited me to take photographs of their staff for their website. They requested two images for each person: one that's sort of the standard bio photo, and then a second one of the subject looking more natural and unposed. I ain't gonna lie: this kind of assignment is one of my very favourite things to do.
• I think I forgot to share this with you a couple of weeks ago: actor Vince Vaughn and his costars from his movie Unfinished Business posed for stock photos that you can download for free. This is just so epic.
• 40 photographs of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in the '30s and '40s. Pardon my French, but I've always thought that Frida was a complete badass. These photographs totally confirm it.
• When I first got my SCUBA certification, the first dive I did was off the cost of Cabo San Lucas, swimming with the sea lions. It was magical: sea lions are funny-looking on land, but in the ocean they're graceful, and fast, and extremely playful. So I love this underwater video of sea lions, taken in the Galapagos (a destination I've always wanted to visit). One day, man.
• Speaking of places I'm dying to visit, check out these images of Havana, Cuba. One day, man.
• The Chicago Bean got tired of the paparazzo. Never mess with The Bean.
• This 12-minute film is sort of long, but it's worth it: teens from around the world Skype each other. I love what their conversations reveal about themselves and about their perceptions of each other. Really thought-provoking little film.
• Finally, the song of the day: the official video for Work Song by Hozier. I love a beautiful voice, and I love choreography, and this has both.
Happy Friday, friends.
Around the web, it's not uncommon for people to celebrate "Throwback Thursdays" (or #tbt, for short), where folks share a photograph or a story from years gone by. I often participate solely on my Instagram account, but a few weeks ago I was digging back in my archives of Chookooloonks, and found many stories of Alex as a toddler that I'd totally forgotten. So today, for Throwback Thursday, I thought I'd republish them (with her permission) -- mostly because I don't want to forget them again.
I hope you enjoy them. If stories of toddlerhood aren't your jam, I promise we'll be back to our regularly scheduled Chookooloonks tomorrow.
Sunday, March 12, 2006 (2 years old)
SCENE: Today, about 2 in the afternoon. Karen is crawling around in the bottom of her closet looking for a matching pair of shoes. Enter Alex.
Alex: Hello, Mummy!
Karen (muffled): Hello, Alex.
Alex (suddenly hugging Karen's bottom, enhanced by a little hand-pat): I lahve you, Mummy.
Karen (melting, stopping to return the hug): I love you too, Alex.
Alex pulls out of the embrace, and smiles beatifically at her mother. Karen's eyes tear up, just a little. Alex turns away, and starts to walk out of the room. Suddenly, she stops, facing the wall in front of her.
Alex: I LAHVE YOU, WALL!
Thursday, April 27, 2006
SCENE: Home, morning. Karen is busy getting Alex ready for the day.
Karen (kissing Alex's bare tummy): OOOOH, I LOVE this tummy. It's so yummy! It's so tasty!
Alex (smiling a knowing smile and nodding): Tastes like chook-a-lit.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
So last night, I was lying on Alex's bed while she was playing with her MegaBloks (sort of like Legos on steroids). Suddenly, without warning, she hurled one of her blocks at my leg, bouncing it neatly off my shin.
The blocks are too small to hurt; however, I couldn't let such behaviour go unaddressed. I looked at her, all prepared to give her my "we don't throw things" speech. As I opened my mouth, my little cherub of a two-year-old looked at me, grinned, and said quietly:
I have no idea where she got that word -- it's certainly not something I say, nor have I ever heard her father say it. All I do know, however, is that This Does Not Bode Well.
Saturday, September 9, 2006
Marcus just came in from a 4-hour bike ride, reeking of sweat and funk and smelling to high heaven. "Oh my GOD!" I exclaimed, sincerely horrified, and directed him immediately to the hose outside.
Alex looked at me seriously.
"Mummy, not 'oh my GOD,'" she said, frowning. "Oh my GOSH."
Monday, September 25, 2006
Ever since Alex has been potty trained, she's been a little disconcerted as to how to relieve herself when we're on the beach, due to (a) the scarcity of public facilities, and (b) the general nastiness of public facilities. And so, like any good mother would, I've been showing her how to go to the water's edge, dip her bum into the small waves, and pee (oh stop, you'd do the same).
On Saturday, while we were at the considerably populated beach in front of our hotel, Alex had to go. I took her to the water, sat her down on her haunches, and she did her thing.
Inspired by her performance, I took her back to her father, and said, "Stay with Daddy. It's Mummy's turn." I returned to the ocean, swam past the breakers, did my business and eventually returned to the shore. When I reached the lounge chairs, Marcus was smiling at me.
"Did you hear your daughter calling you?"
"No, I didn't."
His grin widened.
"While you were out there, your little cherub was screaming loud enough for everyone to hear:
'SQUAT, MUMMY!!! YOU HAVE TO SQUAT!!!'"
Last week, when we were making final plans for our spring break holiday, our friend Carl suggested that we bring our kids' bikes. Alex apparently hadn't ridden her bike for longer than we remembered, because once we got to Galveston and she climbed up on her trusty two-wheeler, both Marcus and I were a little surprised that it was clearly far too small for her. It was time for her to graduate to an adult bike.
Luckily, there are two things about our family that makes the fact that she's outgrown her bike not a big deal:
1) Marcus builds and refurbishes bikes as a hobby; and
2) in a fit of optimism about 13 years ago, he bought me a really lovely bike; one that I've ridden exactly once. (Unlike Marcus, bikes are not my jam.)
So once we returned to Houston, Marcus got my old bike and got it in tip-top shape for Alex. And yesterday evening, as the sun was setting, she took it out for a spin.
It was a simple, no-big-deal moment ... and yet, somehow, it felt a little bit like a milestone.
This week begins 5 weeks where I have no travel plans, no speaking engagements, and no pressing deadlines. I haven't had this much time where my schedule is my own since fall of last year.
This isn't to say that I have nothing to do: I'm way behind on many things, and I know I'll be playing a lot of catch-up over the next couple of weeks. But -- and I don't know if it's the fact that the first day of spring has come and gone or not -- I'm ready.
Who says January 1st has to be the only beginning of a year?
Let's do this.
Less than two weeks remain for my little #40daysoflight exercise, sharing a photo of light every day. I have to admit that even as a seasoned light-seeker, this has been harder than I thought it would be -- the rain has been relentless here in Houston over the last few weeks, which means that the light hasn't been as obvious as usual.
But I know that where there is any light, photography is possible; and so the exercise of shooting despite difficult conditions has been good for me. Dark days and overcast skies force me to slow down and really look -- find the reflections and refractions, and the tiny places where light is quietly glowing -- and do what it takes to bring it into focus. To capture it. It has been a great lesson.
The sun is supposed to re-emerge this week, but I'm hoping that I don't forget: slow down.
Take a moment to focus.
And notice the small. The small -- especially when it comes to light -- is important, too.
"I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars."
~ Og Mandino
We're back from our wonderful, restful time with our friends in Galveston, having spent the majority of our time rocking on the porch with an adult beverage in our hands and what we Trinis call "ole talk" -- chatting and laughing and generally going on about whatever came to mind. It was truly a glorious time, and one we made sure to wring all the awesome out of.
We're back in Houston now, and through all of this chilling out, I didn't pull together a collection of links for you this week. However, I am thrilled to share that VIDA has included me in their brand new spring collection, launched this week, with four new designs! For this collection, which VIDA entitled Art of Light (I mean, c'mon), and since this is for spring, I decided that I wanted to use images of flowers (because you guys know how much I love photographing flowers). Check it:
I love how they printed the garments: almost so that the light and colour of the images were the main focus of the scarves, even more than the actual subject (because after all, when you wear the scarf, it will be difficult to identify the image anyway). So, for example, the shot I took of the lovely, vibrant tulip, above, translates into this huge scarf, with the yellows and blues and greens, making an almost abstract pattern along its length:
(My mother loves yellow and purple, and I'm totally ordering this one myself for her for Mother's Day. Don't tell her.)
Speaking of purples, I also photographed another of my favourite flowers, hydrangea, for this deep, moody purply-blue scarf.
(This is one that I might actually buy for myself. I'm sort of a sucker for deep moody purply-blues.)
But -- and here's the awesome part -- scarves are only just the beginning. This collection also includes silk tees.
I cannot wait to try these, friends. VIDA has also taken two of my photographs, and made 100% silk tees -- dress them up to wear to work, or pair them with jeans for a night out. The colours are incredibly vibrant: take a look at how they translated my photograph of my orange tulips, above, into the tee, below:
Awesome, right? I love how the tulip seems to glow off the fabric!
And if orange isn't your thing, perhaps a pale pink is more your speed:
I took the image above by sneaking around a neighbour's front yard -- they have this amazing tulip magnolia tree that is one of the first to flower in our entire neighbourhood. I love it.
And VIDA took that image, and turned it into this:
If I were still practicing law, I'd totally use this top as one of those day-to-night tops: under my suit during the day, take the jacket off for cocktails after work. Just saying.
Anyway, all this to say I'm really, really thrilled with how they've turned out. And I'm even happier with how easy VIDA is making it to order them:
1) Click here to see all the designs (including the 4 earlier designs -- they're part of this collection as well!)
2) Enter the coupon code VIDAKARENW at checkout for 20% off through April 1st.
3) Shipping is only US$ 5 -- even internationally!
So friends, please go check them all out. They'd make great gifts for you, for a dear friend, for Mother's Day (or, as I'm planning on doing -- stocking up for Christmas gifts). Items will be shipped in 45 days.
Or, you know, buy them for your kids: I have it on great authority that they make fantastic superhero capes.
and now ... a giveaway!
Because I'm happy about this collection, not to mention that today is officially the first day of spring, I say we celebrate with a giveaway -- what do you think?
So here's what we'll do: leave a comment below, saying whatever you want, wherever in the world you are, and I'll pick one winner, at random, to win all of the following:
A Peonies VIDA scarf, one of my earlier designs. I actually own this scarf, and it's wonderfully vibrant. Really lovely for spring. Also ...
... a handmade leather Stash clutch. If you've been reading Chookooloonks for any length of time, you know that I'm a huge fan of Stash leather goods. A couple of weeks ago, I dropped by their storefront, and purchased this lovely little leather clutch, for just this giveaway. Trust me, you'll love this handy little pocket purse.
And finally, as always ...
... a signed copy of The Beauty of Different, inscribed to whomever you'd like.
The perfect way to welcome spring, if you ask me. So leave a comment, below, and I'll pick and announce the winner on Monday. As always, one comment per person, please.
Good luck, friends -- and have a great weekend!
Thanks so much to all of you who left comments! According to Random.org, the winner of the scarf, the book and the clutch is Brenlin, who said: "I found your blog through your Thrive Portrait Project. Thrive was just the breath of fresh air I needed that day. Thank you." Congratulations, Brenlin! Please check your email in-box for a message from me to claim your gift.
Thanks again, everyone. And don't forget: if you decide to purchase your own Chookooloonks/VIDA garment, be sure to enter coupon code VIDAKARENW at checkout for 20% off -- offer good through April 1st!