a note on intellectual property

I interrupt your regularly scheduled Chookooloonks for this important announcement:

At my last law job, I once remember going into my boss' office at the end of one particularly rough day, so that I could whine.  (Bless his heart, he listened to me whine a lot.)

"I have no idea why a law degree is required for this job," I said, petulantly.  "I use far more of my mothering skills than my legal skills."

"How do you mean?" he asked, amused.  He didn't have kids, but still, I could tell he knew where I was going with this.

"Well, think about it: with HR issues, half the time I feel like saying, 'Stop touching him! Stop touching her!  Play nice!"  If the issue of fraud arises, I say, 'No, you can't do that! It's not nice to tell lies! You mustn't steal!'  With most disputes, I feel like saying, 'Go to your rooms, think about it, and when you can say nice things, you can come back out!'   Seriously, who needs the bar exam? All you have to be is a parent."

He laughed, but he knew I was right.

I don't practice law anymore, but with a lot of the behaviour I see on the internet when it comes to intellectual property, I still feel exactly the same way.  In the last week, I've seen no fewer than three instances where individuals or organizations appear to have quite literally stolen the ideas of small independent artists (most glaringly, this recent case of retail giant Urban Outfitters and this jewelry maker).  There have certainly been occasions when I've found my images or words on various sites around the internet when I know I haven't given any type of consent for use.  And while, on one hand, I suppose I could feel flattered that there are people who like my work enough that they'd like to use it for their own, I'm much more disheartened that someone would take my creations without asking me first.

Now, of course, there are laws that are designed to protect artists from this kind of behaviour, laws that use words like "copyright infringement," "misappropriation" and just plain "theft."  And certainly, the existence of these laws is supposed to act as a deterrent, keeping people from conducting themselves in any manner other than proper intellectual property behaviour.  But really, shouldn't we all know better?  Personally, I'd love to see people refrain from this kind of behaviour not just because it's illegal, but simply because that's how they were raised.  We should know that we shouldn't use images or designs without asking first -- we learn in kindergarten that we're not supposed to take things that don't belong to us, don't we?  We should know that before putting images or words on our websites that aren't ours, we should ask for consent first; or, at the very least, acknowledge where the material came from, credit and link back to the artist, and really celebrate their work.  And definitely, before putting images on sites like Tumblr, we should think twice: because these sites are horrible about retaining the copyright and credit, rendering that information lost forever.

And honestly, we should know this not because we have a working understanding of intellectual property law, but because this is just common sense.

Anyway, in an abundance of clarity, here's how I would hope my images and words would be treated:

1.  If you love an image, it inspires some thoughts and you would like to put the image on your website as part of a blog post, just jot me an email.  Assuming your site isn't horrifying (like filled with hate or criminal activity), I will likely be okay with it, as long as you credit me and link back to my site.  The same goes for my words.

2.  If you would like to use one of my images from the blog as your desktop wallpaper, I can't stop you; however, again, I really would love if you'd let me know.  The major exception to this would be to the high resolution images that I provide every month over here, where you are free to download them for your desktop (or iPhone) without asking me (and frankly, these will look better on your computer than the smaller, low resolution images that I put up on the blog every day).  In fact, in the past, I've had readers ask for a specific image be used for the following month's desktop image, and I usually try to make it available that way, so if there's an image you like, just let me know, and I'll see what I can do.  Keep in mind, of course, that by downloading the images, you're agreeing to only use the images for your personal desktop wallpaper, and not for any other purposes.  With respect to other images, for any use, please let me know, first. 

3.  When it comes to Pinterest.com, a website which helps you make virtual inspiration boards of images, please, pin away -- I am ALWAYS flattered when one of my images turns up there, particularly because they do a great job of making sure that the image is always linked back to my site.  In fact, I use Pinterest liberally myself -- you can see my inspiration boards here.

4.  If you see an image of mine that you like and you want to try to recreate it with your own camera, I'm totally cool with that.  As I see it, there's a total difference between being inspired by someone, and straight-up stealing their work.  One thing, however:  if you do this, with my or any other artist's work, the polite thing to do, if you publish your work, is to say that you were trying to emulate the style of the original artist, and link to them.  Hint: if you do that, it's really really hard for the original artist to get mad -- you've come clean that you're trying to copy the work, you've flattered the artist by saying that you were inspired by her work, and you get to practice your own chops.  It's a win for everyone.

5.  Please don't try to make money off of my images, or pass them off as your own creations. Ever.  I can't possibly think of any exception to this rule.  In return, I solemnly promise not to take any of yours.

I feel pretty comfortable in saying that these rules probably would be acceptable for other artists who are on the internet as well -- but of course, don't take my word for it; ask them first.  Also, for those of you whose work appears in your own personal sites (and "work" includes photography, other forms of art or your words), consider adding "Terms of Service" (also known as "Terms of Use") on your site, making it clear what is okay and what is not okay with you (for reference, my Terms of Service can be found here -- simply scroll down).

Finally, talented artist Kal Barteski recently addressed this very issue on her blog in video form -- and I completely co-sign her thoughts.  Please be sure to check it out.

Thanks -- and with that, I'll return you to your regularly scheduled Chookooloonks.  And remember, friends:  play nice.

 

Image:  Photographed with my Nikon D300, 60mm micro lens.  aperture 3.5, shutter speed 1/1000, ISO 200.

 

SongGimme by Jill Scott

 

welcome, summer

Today is Memorial Day, the unofficial beginning of summer in the United States.  Marcus, Alex and I are going over to my parents' place to celebrate in the time-honoured way:  lots of time in the pool, more barbecue than we can eat, and copious amounts of Trinidadian rum punch

(Well, okay, the rum punch is just our family's twist. Doesn't change the fact that it makes any outdoor celebration awesome.)

To all in the United States, here's wishing you a restful, enjoyable Memorial Day -- and please, spare a thought for the men and women overseas who are risking their lives in the armed services every day. 

And to everyone, may you all have a wonderful week.

* * * * * * *

Some business from Friday's post:  the winner of the scarf from Nest is Ariana, who said "Thank you so much for sharing your motherhood story with us. There are so many unique paths to motherhood, and I really love hearing stories about all the diverse and beautiful ways that women find their way to motherhood...."  Congratulations, Ariana!  Please check your email for a note from me requesting your mailing address.  And thanks to all of you who left a comment!


Image:  Photographed with my Nikon D300 and ancient 50mm manual lens.  aperture 1.4, shutter speed 1/1000, ISO 200

 

SongSummertime by DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince

on motherhood, worldviews and one (& a giveaway!)

In celebration of their "Make Every Day Mother's Day" campaign, ONE invited me to contribute some thoughts on motherhood for their website.  The following is my submission.  I hope you enjoy it.  And of course, I hope you consider becoming a member of ONE (non-US folks click here).

 

I had actually never intended to become a parent.

By the time I met Marcus, I had already been married once before, and was quite enthusiastically enjoying my life as a single woman again in London.  I was in my mid-thirties, and had never felt that "biological urge" to have children that I'd heard so many women my age tell me about, with longing in their eyes.  My biological clock wasn't only not ticking, it was blinking "12:00." 

I don't know if Marcus sensed this, but soon after we began dating, within days I mean, he suddenly turned to me out of the blue:  "Hey.  I don't know where this is going, but I just wanted to tell you that if, for some reason, you don't want to be a mum, I'm okay with that."

"Hmm," I thought for a second.  "Well, that's strange that you would say that, since we've never talked about it before --  but yes, to this point, I've not been that concerned with having kids.  Still," I continued, watching him carefully, "if we change our minds, I'd really like to consider adoption.  I have cousins who were adopted when I was very young, and I've always thought that adoption was a very cool thing."

"Adoption, huh?" he said slowly.  "I'd never thought about that.  But yeah, that's cool."

"Great," I smiled.  "Okay.  So probably no kids.  But if we change our minds, we'll look into adoption."

"Deal," he said.  And we never spoke about it again.

Never, that is, until about a year after we were married and had moved to the States.  That summer, we traveled back to England to attend his brother's wedding, and while there, I watched Marcus play with his sister's kids with wild abandon.  It was during that time, though he had never said a word to me, that I became convinced that Marcus was made to be a father.  When we returned from our holiday, I raised the subject with him.  And that September, we walked into an agency to begin the process of adoption.

Six months later, on Alex's birthmom's invitation, we were in a delivery room, witnessing Alex's birth.

Needless to say, parenthood is one of the very best decisions we ever made.   And even though I hadn't given it much thought, in many ways, it is nothing like I expected it to be.  For example, I always assumed the tough part would be discipline; however, "they" never told me that the emotion while watching my child fight an illness would be singularly the most miserable feeling I'd ever experience.  Also, while I absolutely knew if I became a parent that I would love my child -- and how I do -- I don't think I ever understood how much I'd like my daughter.  At 7 years old, she's fun.  Like, she's really funny.  On purpose.  She is, without a doubt, one of my most favourite people to be around.   And despite my initial ambivalence about being a mom in my younger, single days, she makes me want to be as great a mother as I possibly can.

One of the things that has become really important to me in raising Alex is helping her to develop a global worldview.  Part of this, of course, is due to the fact that both Marcus and I don't live in the countries of our birth.  But, honestly, it's more than that.  It's the fact that as time passes the world becomes smaller.  Technology plays a large part in this:  I mean, back when I was a child, if I had a pen pal on the other side of the world, it would literally take weeks for my letter to arrive; now, if Alex wants to send a message to a friend on a different continent, she can use my computer to send an email and it willbe received virtually instantaneously.  I want her to grow up not just having a theoretical understanding of different races, peoples and cultures, but a visceral one.  I want to her to understand that we're all connected.  We're all in this together.  And we owe it to each other to help each other when we can.

And so, of course, we travel when we can; but also, I spend a lot of time talking to her about current events, and ask her opinion about how we should react.  She knows all about the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, and the unrest in Egypt and Syria.  We talked about the death of Osama Bin Ladin.  We get excited about the Olympics, we read travel magazines together, we discover the different plants and animals around the world, we explore maps.  She asks questions, and I do my best to answer them.  I show her images created by my favourite international photobloggers.  So far, she's been eager to learn about our world and all the beautiful different people and places in it, and I encourage this.  A lot.

It's for this reason I've been a fan of ONE's for quite some time.  I love many things about them -- like the fact that they're a global organization, and are more about persuasion than asking for your money -- but mostly, I love that just by keeping up with their really excellent blog, I get tons of information and imagery to spark discussions with my daughter about our planet and how we can use our own talents to help.  And so, when ONE invited me to be part of their Mom Advisory Council, accepting was very easy.

And then.

 

And then, they invited me to join them on a trip to Kenya: a country, despite having done lot of traveling in my life, I've never visited.  I'm thrilled beyond measure:  I can't wait to see the place, of course, but also I'm looking forward to experiencing some of its culture, especially the food and the music and the art.  But mostly -- mostly -- I can't wait for the opportunity to make a connection or two (or many!) with the people who I'm going to get to meet, who will be kind enough to let a stranger like me have a glimpse of their everyday lives.  I'm also wildly nervous:  I will, naturally, be photographing everything I'm permitted to, as well as retelling their stories, and I am, quite literally, praying every day that I can do the images and stories of Kenya justice.  I've made it my mission to do my damnedest.

But mostly, I'm just excited to collect those photos and words, and bring them back home to share with my daughter.  Because I really believe that there's nothing like images and stories to connect, and convince you that you can make a difference.

 

* * * * * * *

And now, on an unrelated, yet coincidentally, somewhat-related note

Last week, a friend (who, by the way, has absolutely nothing to do with ONE), tweeted me the link for an online store called Nest.  It turns out that Nest is a not-for-profit organization "empowering female artisans around the world."  All of their products are handmade from international emerging markets, and the proceeds from the sales go to help the women behind the crafts build their businesses in their respective countries and villages.  Their products seemed beautiful, and so I bought a little something, and tweeted about it.

Soon after, a representative contacted me directly, thanking me for the tweet -- and mentioned that they would love to have me write about them, in exchange for one of their products.  Now to be clear: I get pitches from companies asking me to feature them here on my site all the time (like daily), but I rarely do, because the products and companies involved usually have very little to do with anything I write about; or, more importantly, anything I'm about.  But this organization's mission seriously impressed me, so I decided to find out more.

"Well," I responded, "I'm actually traveling to Kenya later this summer, and I've been sort of obsessed with learning more about the country.  I don't suppose you have anything Kenyan?"

Turns out, they do:

They sent me this lovely scarf, made of cotton so soft I would've sworn it was silk; the quality is impeccable.  And I'm especially grateful to have it, since it's a long scarf (and as a relatively tall person, I can never find a scarf that is long enough). 

But even better than all of that: they sent me a second one.  And so while it's certainly been giveawayapalooza up in here lately, I'd love to give this second one away.

So just leave a comment below, whever in the world you are, and I'll pick a commenter at random to win the second scarf (identical to the one you see in the image above).  And gentlemen, go ahead and leave a comment.  Trust me, you will impress the dickens out of a woman in your life if you give this to her (or, actually, if you're a scarf-wearer, this would totally work -- I do love a man in a scarf, and the colours on this are pretty unisex).  I'll announce the winner on Monday's post.

(And by the way, please do go check out Nest and their Facebook page.  They really do seem to have the right idea about helping make the world a more beautiful, empowered place -- and you know how I feel about that.)

 

Images:  Photographed with my Nikon D300, 50mm lens & a mirror.  aperture 1.4, shutter speed 1/100, ISO 640

 

SongWhat goes around.../...comes around by Justin Timberlake

random thoughts: on light, breath and newton's third law

In the late afternoon, the sun finally makes it over the eaves of our house and comes streaming into our living room.  I love the light in this room during that time -- because it's so late in the day, it's never blazing, and it just lasts a few moments before dipping behind the houses across the street and turning to dusk.  Every time I notice the light in our living room, I involuntarily inhale, deeply.

No matter where I live in my life, now or in the future, I hope my home always has a room that only gets late afternoon sun.  I'll call it my "Reminder to breathe" room.

* * * * * * *

Yesterday, I watched the last Oprah episode.  I will admit to you: I've never actually watched an entire Oprah episode before (including the one I was on!), but better late than never, right?

Anyway, in this last show Oprah was, predictably, straight-up unmitigated class, and she was full of her trademark wisdom.  I'm sure anyone who watched the show felt, at some point, that her words particularly resonated with them, but I was most struck when she invoked Newton's Third Law of Motion:

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

I know this means that when one object exerts a force on a second object, the second object will exert a force on the first one, equal in magnitude, but opposite in direction.  For me, this certainly has always made sense in the physical world: push something it pushes back. In a pool, pushing the water behind you propels you forward.  I get it.  But listening to the law coming from Oprah's mouth (instead of from a physics professor's), it suddenly dawned on me that the law works outside of the physical world, too.  Treat someone -- anyone -- a certain way, and the favour is sure to be returned.  The reaction may not happen immediately, but it will happen.   For example, in relationships.  In parenting.  In how you treat the people you meet on the street; heck, even in blogging.  That karmic boomerang'll get you every time.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

This might be my new mantra.

 

Thanks so much for all your lovely comments in the previous post, everyone! I'm sure Molly will see them, and given that, I'm sure she will feel incredibly moved by your warmth and generous kindness.  To that end, the winner of the signed copy of Molly Ringwald's book, Getting the Pretty Back is Ellen, who said "i loved reading about her! so wise." Congratulations, Ellen!  Check your email for a note from me requesting your snail mail info.

And with that, happy Love Thursday, everyone.

 

Images:  Photographed with my Nikon D300, 60mm micro lens.  aperture 3.5, shutter speed 1/100, ISO 200.

 

SongCall and answer by Barenaked Ladies

photograph 1000 faces: molly ringwald

So now for something exceptionally cool.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I went to Los Angeles for an unexpected project.  What I didn't mention was that the project included meeting, interviewing and photographing actor and author Molly Ringwald.

I've been a fan of Molly's work ever since I first saw her in The Breakfast Club back in the 80's (and I have a particular fondness for her character in Pretty in Pink).  Molly's book, Getting the Pretty Back was recently released in paperback, and Molly has been busy with promotional efforts, so when BlogHer mentioned that they could make an introduction, making it possible for me to talk with Molly in person on the topic of agelessness, I leapt at the offer.

I was put in touch with Molly's publicist, we picked a date for me to fly to L.A., and I bought my tickets.  We arranged for Molly to meet me in the lobby of my hotel.  On the day in question, I went downstairs about a half-hour before our agreed-upon time, to make sure I could find a quiet but light-filled location to set up my microphone and take a few photographs of her.  When I found a suitable place, I approached the man who was working behind the front desk.

"Hi," I said, "Um, this might sound a bit odd, but Molly Ringwald will be here in a few minutes, and I was wondering if you guys would have any problem if I interviewed her over there?"  I pointed to a discreet corner at the far end of the lobby.  "The entire interview shouldn't take more than about 20 minutes, and I promise that I'll return everything exactly as it is when I'm done."

He smiled.  "Of course," he said immediately.  "Whatever you need.  Can we get you anything?"

I smiled back.  "Thank you so much.  No, I think I'm good.  I promise to get out of your hair as soon as possible."

About 30 minutes later Molly arrived, looking every bit the movie star that she is, and I mean that in all of the really great ways.  She greeted me graciously, and we exchanged a few pleasantries.  I've said before that when I'm about to photograph someone, I like to try to connect with them to form an initial impression, and with Molly, the thoughts that instantly came to mind were words like "elegant."  "Intelligent."  "Artistic."  "Warm."  And honestly, "unaffected."  She gamely answered all of my questions, and you can read her fantastic insights about getting older here.  And then, even after I turned the microphone off, we stayed and chatted for almost an hour longer, talking about things like motherhood (her daughter is Alex's age), the writing process, and even living overseas.  By the time she left, I found that I genuinely, and without any reservation, really liked her.

After she was gone, I pushed the seats and tables I had moved around for the interview back to their proper positions, grabbed all my stuff and went back over to the front desk to thank the receptionist for his indulgence.

"I really appreciate your help," I said.  "I put everything back where it was."

"Not a problem," he said, returning my smile.  And then, dude lost all composure.  "Man," he breathed, "she is beautiful."

I laughed. "Yes, she is really, really lovely," I said.  And I meant every word.

* * * * * * *

 

By the way, to prepare for Molly's interview, I purchased 2 hardback copies of her book (the paperback wasn't available yet at the time).  After the interview, to thank her, I gave her a signed copy of my book; and then I asked if she would mind signing the copies of hers that I'd purchased:  one for me (obv), and then one to give away here on Chookooloonks.  She did so without hesitation.  And so, simply leave a comment below, wherever in the world you might be, for a chance to win a signed copy of Molly Ringwald's book!  I'll pick a commenter at random and announce the winner in Thursday's post.  Also, once you've left comment, click over to BlogHer to see more images of Molly, as well as read what she had to say about youthfulness and agelessness.  Seriously, she's so awesome.

Good luck!

 

Images: Shot with my Nikon D300, 50mm lens.  aperture 1.4, shutter speed 1/160, ISO 200.

 

Song: La vie en rose, as performed by Josephine Baker

list #22: on making a createspace

A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me if I would do a visual tour of my workspace.  I'm happy to do this, because (a) my workspace is actually my favourite place in my house, and (b) after spending a lot of time really tweaking this space, I've come up with some pretty hard and fast rules for this space and any similar spots in any future homes we might live.  So while I don't know that these methods would work for everyone, here's what works for me:

1.  I think everyone should have a personal workspace in their homeEveryone.  I think it should be this way whether or not you actually use this space for your job or to earn your living.  It should be a place whose sole purpose is to serve as your place (as opposed to your family's) to make -- make photographs, make art, make reports, make tax returns, whatever turns you on.  In fact, I think it should be called a "createspace."  (See what I did there? I just made that up!)  A space designated for you to create.

When we were in the process of looking for this house, I was working for a large corporation from home, so we were looking with the idea that I'd have an entire room for myself in mind.  I realize that this is quite a luxury.  That said, if we ever move somewhere and I don't have the luxury of a whole room, I would make sure to at the very least have a corner of a room to call my very own (or even a closet as my friend Kelly Rae did in her house).  But I think it's important to have even a small spot that is entirely devoted to one's own creativity.

2.  To that end, when establishing your createspace, I think furniture (including any associated electronics) should be dictated by what it is you plan on creating -- rather than simply resorting to the time-honoured configuration of a desk-chair-worklamp.  For example, because I spend my days creating both paragraphs and photographs, I've found need to have a work surface (but not necessarily a huge one), a good office chair, and a large computer screen for processing photos.  However, for someone whose creative product is, say, intricate needlework, then perhaps their ideal createspace would be a huge, comfortable easy chair, a large floorlight that illuminates over their shoulder, and some sort of storage next to the chair for yarns, needles, fabrics, and so on.  For my friend Ali, who does complex layouts, it's important for her to have large work surfaces, so she can spread out.   For Marcus, who loves to build bikes from scratch, his createspace furniture is a large workbench in (his half of) the garage.  The key (as always) is to do some introspection to determine how you like to create, and tailor your furniture layout accordingly.

3.  I think it's important to have things around your workspace that inspire creativity.  For my createspace, I'm not so concerned with my space looking like it came out of a home decor magazine; rather, I'd prefer it simply be a place that makes me want to Create More Stuff.  For me, that means light and colour and inspiration boards -- for others, it might mean just a sea of white openness.  Again, it's all very personal.

And with that, here's what's in my createspace:

 

This is my desk -- it's actually just a long narrow tabletop from Ikea.  Ideally, it would have my just my iMac, my ancient Wacom tablet, a phone, and my little glowy lamp (because I hate overhead lighting), but eventually piles start accumulating to my left that I have to go through and get rid of. 

Above my screen I have a series of prints that I love -- some of them are from friends who are artists, others are prints with sayings that I love, like my "Live What You Love" letterpress poster, and another one that was a giveaway at a conference that says "Images and Text Made With Love."  They're all framed in identical inexpensive frames from Michaels, so that I can easily switch them out if I feel so inclined.

 

When I'm sitting at my desk, to my right is a small bookcase, that contains a few books and all of my journals.  On top of the bookcase is my collection of Buddhas and my camera collection.  The cameras on the left of the Buddhas are actually cameras that I use; the cameras to the right are antiques, some of which work, some that don't, some which were gifts, others I bought myself.  I love this collection.

The large print above this bookcase is the first piece of art I ever bought myself (you can't see very well because of the glare, sorry about that -- but you can see the top of it on the very left of this photograph, it's of 3 women dancing).  It's actually from Pier 1 Imports.  I found it about 17 years ago, already framed, and fell in love of it -- but at the time, I couldn't afford it.  Then about a year later, I went back, and it was still there.  I took it as a sign that I was meant to have it, and even though I still really couldn't afford it, I scraped together the $98 to buy it.  I love it and will never part with it.  (This was, incidentally, the beginning of a somewhat obsessive desire to collect art.  It got so bad at one point, Marcus pled with me to take up cocaine instead, because "it would be cheaper."  Needless to say, a child and a foregone law career later, and I have been cold-turkey-cured of this addiction.)

Around that large print are vision boards from various years gone by -- they're sort of like journaling canvases, and they help me focus on my priorities for the year.  I tend to make them during fall (how I make them can be found here), but I'm feeling the urge to make a new one coming over me lately, so I may accelerate my schedule to make one this year.

 

This is the corner to the right of the previous wall; the print on the very left of this image is a brand new one that I bought from Steve McCurry, the stunning photographer responsible for the famous photograph of the Afghan Girl (and as much as I love that image, I love the one in my createspace even more).

The other images, from the top left, going clockwise:

  • the first original painting I ever bought, about 15 years ago, from a local artist named David Kosmo;
  • an original painting I made under the watchful tutelage of Kelly Rae, featuring my word of 2010, "beauty" (I'd just begun writing The Beauty of Different);
  • a tiny painting Marcus made of our dream retirement home;
  • a print from Sabrina Ward Harrison
  • my Valentine's Day gift from Marcus this year: he bought an old, nonworking Nikon, took it completely apart, and glued it on a canvas, framing it with a shadowbox he made;
  • another original painting by Marcus, another Valentine's Day gift from a previous year.

 

 

This is the main furniture behind my desk -- it's actually the furniture I bought right before I moved to London in 2001.  It sort of symbolizes "independence" for me, and I don't think I could ever part with it.

 

This is the bookcase to the right of my sofa.  Yes, the books are organized by colour.  It's because I'm incredibly anal about my books, and these bookshelves contain all of our books, and my family never seems to be able to return the books to their rightful places (by subject matter and author name, obv).  So I rearranged them by colour, so that they would be more motivated to put them back where they belong. Hmph.

The painting to the left is a painting of our family that Marcus did when we lived in Trinidad.  Love this.

The pink-and-black painting at the top of the bookshelf is by Modern Bird Studios using one of my photographs (you can read more about it here).

Around the window, I have my photo garland (which you can make yourself here), and twinkle lights.  Because everything's better with twinkle lights.

 

And finally, the last bookshelf, in the corner between the window and my desk.  A couple of things to note:

  • the scary kid paintings are actually originals by Timothy Cummings.  I have three of them (one is in the other bookcase), and people have such strong reactions to them (either they love them or they're completely creeped out by them) that I keep them in the bookcases in my space.  Needless to say, I love them; and
  • a photograph of my grandmother (my mother's mother), taken by my father about 48 hours before she died. I feel like she's my guardian angel, so this snapshot is very important to me.

So that's it!  Again, there is no real design or rhyme or reason to why these things are in here, other than they make me happy -- and I think, ultimately, that's what you should want in a createspace.  And with that, I'm going to leave you with a quote from the very talented fabric designer Heather Bailey:

"Love & nurture your family, be true & honest with your friends and make good stuff -- three necessary ingredients for a happy & beautiful life."

I couldn't agree more.

 

SongI'm into something good, as performed by The Bird & The Bee.  Thanks to Lindsay for the recommendation.

a lesson in civil unrest

Pro tip:  just because blue cheese is full of mold doesn't mean it can't actually go bad.  It just means that you can't *tell* when it's gone bad.

This is the lesson Marcus and I learned this weekend.  After a rather fabulous dinner at home on Friday night which included a generous hunk of blue cheese we found in our fridge ("We must have forgotten we bought that," we mused), we spent all day Saturday doubled over and groaning. 

(Mercifully, Alex had cheddar instead of blue cheese, and she felt fine.)

So Saturday was a bust, especially for poor Alex, who had to entertain herself all day.  But on Sunday, Marcus was feeling better, so he took her to Target, and picked up a few tools to teach her the art of war.

First, a demonstration:

 

Alex got the hang of it pretty quickly:

 

 

And she proceeded to shoot water through her father's head.

 

 

 

After that, it was on like a pot of neckbones:

 

 

 

 

Finally, because she decided her father wasn't doing it right, she took matters into her own hands:

 

Have a joy-filled week, everyone.

 

Images:  Photographed with my Nikon D300, 50mm lens.  aperture 1.4, shutter speed 1/1000, ISO 200

 

SongRapture by Blondie.  You had to figure this one was coming.