10 December 2010

bread pudding.

Wednesday was the Family Sick Day at our house. W00t. Everyone was home coughing and snotty with sore throats so we all spent the day in our jamoos (a.k.a. pajamas) watching television, eating pizza delivery, and fighting with one another. The fun that was had cannot be put into words.

As the day's insanity began to slowly draw to a close and the kids were finally in bed asleep, I decided out of the blue that I wanted some bread pudding - the ultimate comfort food. Not having an award-winning secret family recipe or anything, I referred to the wise and wonderful oracle, otherwise known as the Internet.

I found several mouth-watering recipes, but quickly settled upon this one from southern soul-food goddess, Paula Deen. --I mean if it's a Paula Deen recipe, it likely will call for 3 pounds of sugar and 8 sticks of butter that will clog your arteries and put you into a diabetic coma faster than you can swallow the last orgasmically decadent bite, but you can bet your big ole sweet, jiggly bottom that it's gonna be a heaping helping of heaven!

The Best Bread Pudding by Paula Deen (appropriately named)

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large beaten eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cubed Italian bread, allow to stale overnight in a bowl
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup chopped pecans [pronounced "pee-canz" not "pe-cons"]

For the sauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup brandy

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan.
  • Mix together granulated sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl; add vanilla. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter, and pecans.
  • Pour bread mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven.
  • For the sauce
  • Mix together the granulated sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir together until the sugar is melted. Add the brandy, stirring well. Pour over bread pudding. Serve warm or cold.

As I keep saying: it is cosmically impossible for me to follow a recipe to the letter... Thusly, you may note, I made this recipe exactly as it is written above, except I added a couple dashes of cinnamon, extra pecans, and raisins - soaked in the ¼ of brandy (which you will need to top off as the dried fruit will absorb the booze).

O.M.G. Delicious like nobody's biz! This is right up there with the Baked Apple Pancake in Gatlinburg! Outta-This-World Yummy! Make your eyes roll back in your head kinda good. Even better cold.

Maybe I'll make another one this weekend and share it with the kids this time. ;-)

"You can say this for ready-mixes - the next generation isn't going to have any trouble making pies exactly like mother used to make."

...Earl Wilson

07 December 2010

'tis the season.

holiday spirit. Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
It seems to me that every year is a roller coaster ride which picks up speed and plunges around mid-November right about grocery shopping time for Thanksgiving. By the time Christmas arrives, I am ready to get off.

Chaos is in the air!

A lot of stuff has been going on lately that I have wanted to blog about, though I've been a bit greedy with my oh-so-scarce "ME time"...

I'll try to hit the highlights and maybe get back around to elaborating, though don't hold your breath - the coaster just dropped:
  • Kevin and I finally signed up and went through the entire process of acquiring life insurance to include mounds of paperwork, interviews, and peeing in cups.
  • Recently, the younger brother of a dear ole kindergarten pal went Homeless for the Holidays, living in his car for a week in downtown Raleigh to help raise awareness of the growing issue of homelessness in the community.
  • I've been shooting a lot lately and have worked with some fantastic models (Danielle, Sonia, Joanna, and Christine) as well as my uber-talented fellow photographers, Rob Miracle and Tom Winstead.
  • Liam recently tested for his High-Green belt in Tae Kwon Do and was awarded the rank of 11th Gup.
  • And I have called a pre-IEP meeting with WCPSS for Isabel's services scheduled for December 16th to uhm, shall we say, poke the hornet's nest...

That may not seem like a long nor overwhelming list of stuff but add in 40-60 hour work weeks complete with daily crazy calls, deadlines, and dramatic emergencies from our usual suspects; over due doctor visits, forgotten appointments, grocery and holiday shopping, more little kid birthday parties, the regular array of miscellaneous errands; cleaning the house, clothes, dishes and making sure everyone is fed; more car problems, chronic back pain, a mile long list of overdue email responses, tantrums, and picking up little pieces of shredded paper from all over the house, etc., etc., etc...

This past Saturday our day looked something like this:

0800 Be awakened by small child; make coffee.
0815 Feed small child.
0830 Wake other child; feed.
0845 Dress children.
0900 Miss Kim arrives (Bless her!)
0910 Leave house late with two cars and one fed and dressed child.
0925 Jeep begins making a very loud grinding metal sound.
0930 Belt testing at Tae Kwon Do.
1030-1130 Special Needs Arts and Craft class at Library for Bell.
1030-1230 Four-year-old birthday party for preschool friend at Old McDonald's for Liam.
1045 Water pump goes out on Jeep.
1100 Photo shoot at my new "studio," a.k.a. The Law Firm's conference room.
1100-1130 Fellow photographers arrive; set up for shoot.
1110 Call mechanic.
1115 Call AAA.
1130-1230 Models 1 and 2 arrive; make up artist arrives.
1230 Jeep towed to mechanic.
1400-ish SNOW! =)
1630 Wrap up / clean up shoot; return office to order.
1650 Get ride over to mechanic to pick up Jeep and deposit a check for $333.00 in drop box.
1700 Drive home in snow.
1720 Collect children and husband and drive back to Tae Kwon Do, late again.
1730-2000 Belt presentation ceremonies, martial arts show, and pot luck reception.
2030 Dinner at North Ridge Pub.
2130 Home. Exhausted. Change children and put to bed without brushing teeth.
2200-0130 Load / process / edit a few of the 600+ photographs taken that day and email to models / make up artist.
0130 Take Ibuprofen and muscle relaxer. Crawl in bed and DIE.

the downside. Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad

Just shoot me.

"Chaos is the score upon which reality is written."

...Henry Miller

01 December 2010

fun with Liamisms.

"No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I'm not talking about the kids. Their behavior is always normal."

...Bill Cosby

30 November 2010

generation gap.

Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Monday being what it was, I decided on my way home last night that I was not "doing dinner" and thus stopped off at Jersey Mike's for a couple of subs. (I highly recommend the number 43 Chipotle Cheese Steak by the way.)

Of course, Liam was with me and begun politely shouting to the fellow behind the counter as I was placing the order, "Excuse me! Uhm, sir, excuse me!" I quiet the child, complete the order, and then turned my attention back to the child curious as to what he had been so anxious to say... Turns out, he wanted to know about the deli slicer, what it was, what it did, and all that.

The young gentleman kindly explained and gave Liam a demonstration as he made our sandwiches. Then he added, that you had to be very careful and could only use the machine if you were a grown-up because you could get hurt really bad.

The man standing in line beside me said that it's now a law in North Carolina that you have to be 18 years old in order to operate a deli slicer. --WHAT? Seriously?

The Jersey Mike's guy replies that you have to be 16 in order to use the large serrated bread knife because they had a 15 year old girl working there who had to have a waiver signed by her parents in order to wield the big bread sword. --Dumbfounded, I just couldn't help but laugh...

I smiled at the young at-least-18-because-he-used-the-dangerous-deli-slicer man wrapping my sandwich and said to him: "See, this is the difference between your generation and mine. When we were 15, we had to get our parents to sign our smoking permits so we could smoke cigarettes in the high school smoking area."

He looked at me as though I were from another planet.

"Book is the new cool for the txt generation."

-Erica Wagner

26 November 2010

my young playa.

Daniel & Mallory.
Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Thanksgiving this year, like many fond holidays past, we spent with my 'sister-of-soul' and family up in Petersburg, Virgina.

It's an easy two hour drive, perhaps a bit more, however none to our surprise, Liam chatted away the entire drive. If no one is participating in his conversation, he's usually content to carry on with himself, though he does prefer a healthy exchange and will insert himself into whatever other dialog may be happening in the car. A perfect example is when I mentioned to Kevin that I had a headache and needed to eat something soon...

Liam: "I have a headache too."
Kevin: "No you don't. You're fine."
Liam: "Uh huh, I do. I ate a lot of food and it made my head hurt."

He's also getting a bit more brazen in his constant interruptions when we grown-ups may dare to get a word in edgewise... "Excuse me I'm talking!" he says.

Very excited to see Tio Juan, a Sergeant First Class and former Drill Sergeant in the US Army, Liam wore his "army pants" (e.g. camouflaged cargo pants) to show him. In the car, Liam also announced that he had a surprise for Tio Juan.

Kevin: "What's the surprise?"
Liam: "I can't tell you. It's a surprise for Tio Juan."
Kevin: "Well can you tell me?"
Liam: "No. It's a surprise."
Kevin (to me): "You try."
Me: "What's the surprise?"
Liam: "I can't tell you. It's not your surprise."

Alrighty then.

Recently, Liam has learned to count to 10 in Spanish (and German) and likes to randomly practice his language skills. Pausing in mid-count, he asked out of the blue, if Tio Juan spoke Spanish...
Me: "Yes, he does. He also speaks English."
Liam: "English? What is English?"
Kevin: "English is the language that we speak."
Liam: "What does English sound like?"


A side note: En route, I saw a fantastic bumper sticker on a Volvo station wagon which read: "Honk if you love silence" ...Now that's just the sort of sarcastic wit I can appreciate in my world. ;-)

We arrive around 2:30, thrilled to release the children into the waiting audience that is anyone besides us and see if we remember how to carry on an adult conversation. --But first, Liam has to give Tio Juan his surprise... which turned out to be a cotton bowl and wad of cotton he had collected on our trip to Grandma's farm. Awww.

And then (my eyes are watering and heart bursting with pride writing this), we watched our sweet little four year old boy as he stood tall and saluted his Uncle. Juan beamed, returning the salute. Then he let Liam try on his Drill Sergeant hat and his Texas Calvary hat... then Liam wanted to know about Tio Juan's tanks...

These days with three teenagers, everyone has a boyfriend/girlfriend and so the house was full with young people and even friends and neighbors - which was great for us because it was like having a house full of unsuspecting babysitters. --Liam worked the house and monopolized everyone's time (particularly Nicki's boyfriend Jake) and honed in on Daniel's girlfriend Mallory... while Isabel, the unnaturally good and quiet child for a change, set about carving out her walking path, sampling the food being prepared, and decided who she liked best by swatting at them. --Oh, and getting the cap off of a two-liter of Coke and chugaluggin' it. (Why her Occupational Therapist thought it wise to teach her to unscrew lids is beyond me. Yeah, thanks for that.)

At last the smorgasbord of food was prepared, the table set, and per tradition at Elvia's, we all took turns telling what we were thankful for... Isabel was thankful for food and Liam was thankful for windows. Huh? --Anyway, Thanksgiving being what it is, we all gorged ourselves on the traditional favorites and had no room for dessert, though that didn't stop us. Isn't that what it's all about after all?

So, after a wonderful day with friends and family, wonderful food, laughter and memories... we were trying to find the energy to head back to Raleigh when we noticed our son busy rearranging the room of people by simply taking a hand and dragging that person to the spot he wanted to reposition them. Curiously we watched...

Liam then walks over to where Daniel was sitting on the love seat sofa with his sweet, pretty fifteen year old girlfriend and takes Mallory by the hand, pulls her from the couch and leads her over to a fold out chair just two feet away. On cue, she sits as the little prince then strategically places himself in between the object of his affection and her beloved and proceeds to serenade her with the most romantic song he knew... "Happy Birthday to you..."

O.M.G. We are in SO much trouble.

"The life of man is the true romance, which when it is valiantly conduced, will yield the imagination a higher joy than any fiction."

...Ralph Waldo Emerson

16 November 2010

still got it.

surf 'n' turf., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.
Facebook is a double-edged sword. It's amazing the people you find and that find you, people you never thought you'd ever see or hear from again, and some you never wanted to. Though I have to say that overall, it's pretty cool, in this small Internet world, reconnecting with old friends from elementary school, high school, even a few ex-boyfriends - people I've wondered about every since our paths crossed and they left a mark on my life... it's interesting seeing how people grew up, turned out, and what they've done with their lives. It's interesting how many unpopular oddballs turned into very successful happy people, how many dope heads and drug dealers turned into staunch right-wing Bible-thumpers, how many popular kids just grew up to be average ordinary folks, those that still march to their own drum, and some who had it all figured out from the get go and continued on their path to where they are now.

I'm not sure which category I fall into; I was neither popular nor unpopular, I had my share of tokes but was never a dope head nor did I turn out to be uber-conservative, I've marched to many different drums in my life, but I didn't have it all figured out then and even less so now.


Recently I was contacted by a fellow South Johnston graduate a couple years my senior, one of those guys who I think had it all figured out - at least in the way of what he was to do with his life... He grew up from a tall lanky kid I once knew into a body builder and personal trainer. No surprise. I remember as a freshman when I first saw him after several years how he'd undergone some testosterone metamorphosis and suddenly was sporting the bod of a well-built twenty-something year old.

As it turns out, he had been following my photo feeds, really liked my work, and wanted to know if I could do some shots for him while he still had it going on. Sure, I need some male models for my portfolio so, we met, caught up a bit and set a date to shoot at Fort Fisher this past weekend.

Spring and Fall are about the only times of year that I can truly enjoy the ocean and Sunday could not have been a more perfect day had I custom ordered it. Wow. Absolutely spectacular and wholly rejuvenating.

Fort Fisher is one of the few places where one can drive onto the North Carolina beaches, provided that one has adequate four-wheel-drive. Chris has a sweet Jeep and so off we bounced across the sands packed with gear, wardrobe, surfboards and other props until we could drive no further.

Aside from my cousin Jennifer (and the ongoing chronicles of Bell and Liam), this was my first solo shoot so I was rather stoked. We shot pretty much all day, breaking for a picnic lunch around high noon, and had a blast. The day produced some excellent shots and I'm happy to report that the "client" was most pleased with the product.

washed ashore., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

We wrapped up at sunset and I headed back to Raleighwood consumed of course with both gratitude and guilt for leaving my awesome hubby stuck with the offspring all day while I was frolicking about taking pictures of some hot guy on the beach. Kevin, bless him, he doesn't completely understand the whole old soul / poetic passion thing or how I simply must express myself in some creative fashion or I'll shrivel up and die, but he's a big fan and wholeheartedly supports me in my quests; I couldn't ask for anything more.

Arriving home around 8-ish, I was met in the garage by a pajama-clad midget jumping up and down excitedly disclosing that he had made me a birthday cake and I had cards and a balloon. Then I came inside and acted surprised all over again. A perfect ending to a perfect day. =)

And yes Chris, you still got it going on.

"Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering."

...Saint Augustine of Hippo

09 November 2010

the big surprise.

NC Museum of Art., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

A couple of weeks ago, we took the kids out for a "surprise." --Well, I told Bella since they were actually her tickets but i knew she wouldn't tell anyone... and Kevin, not one for surprises, pestered me until I gave him enough clues that he finally figured it out (I sure could use a fixed aperture telephoto lens, a natural disaster, indoors) - so really I guess it was Liam's surprise... Yes, that's right, we went to a Carolina Hurricanes game. It was a first for the kids and they both loved it!

In spite of the loud-mouth jackass sitting behind us yelling the whole game with a scorn on his face like he was watching his girlfriend get it on with someone else in the rink.

No matter where you sit, there's always at least one isn't there? These are the same kind of guys who ruin little league games too with their explosive rantings. Key word folks: "GAME." This one had a supportive wife beside him egging her man on who actually said, "These seats should be filled to capacity! People just need to understand what an honor and privilege it is to come to a real NHL Hockey game?" Seriously??? Is the high altitude up here in the nose-bleed section getting to you or what? I mean come on, sure we enjoy going to a game when we can (Hockey is one of the only sports that Kevin and I can enjoy together after all) but there are a couple of reasons why we haven't gotten season tickets: 1) we don't have 2-5 thousand dollars lying around and 2) because with my luck, our seats for the whole season would be assigned right next to some loud-mouth inconsiderate asshole like you.

But I digress.

new lil' Caniac.., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.
So Saturday we woke up, did our morning thing (coffee, breakfast, news, yell at the kids...) then got everyone ready and told them we were going somewhere and it was a surprise. --Yay! Everyone was excited. Especially Liam.

Every since Liam and I had played hooky one Monday afternoon from school/work and spend the afternoon gallivanting about the grounds of the newly expanded North Carolina Museum of Art (which I forgot was closed on Mondays), Liam has been asking to go back. So - surprise!

Ten minutes into the new building, Liam begins to cry, "I don't like this surprise. I wanna go to a hockey game!"

"If you make every game a life and death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot."

...Coach Dean Smith

02 November 2010

CW: bumper stickers.

Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Driving about town this past weekend, I was struck with a sudden inspiration for a new blog series: "Crystal's World" (CW)... how things would be in my personal utopia, who would be banished to other planets, how basic manners would be legally upheld, permissive acts that would entitle productive citizens to flog another for outlandish stupidity, acceptable acts of vigilantism, bumpers stickers, and so on.

And the beauty is, you don't have to agree with my opinions and twisted humor because after all, it is MY world. =P

You, if you so desire, can be the center of your own little universe too and even with reckless disregard for everything around you, but do allow me to warn you -- you've got a hell of a lot of competition orbiting out there!

Let's start with something simple: bumper stickers.

My husband is vehemently opposed to car stickers of any kind, while I on the other hand rather enjoy the comical antidote and appreciate self-expression with a few exceptions of course. Okay, here goes...

  1. Absolutely NO freakin' political stickers after election day! I don't care what extremist wing you're on, whether you're still pining away for the fascist psycho who left office two years ago, or if you had Hope in '08 -- scrape the shit off your car and stop telling everyone what an asshole you are; they'll figure that out on their own soon enough without the temptation to key your automobile.
  2. No ignorant hateful racist bullshit. Period.
  3. No Americanized-mock-Euro stickers which have absolutely no rhyme or reason, from BBQ to OBX, for whatever alphabet selection someone has had printed inside a little white oval emulating the European custom of displaying one's country's abbreviation (i.e. D for Deutschland, GB = Great Britain, CZ = Czech Republic, etc.). Unless you're European or wanna-be, scrape that shit off -- nobody knows what the heck PBO, OKI, CLS, QIK, or MHD, means anyway.
  4. No stick-people representations of your family. --No body cares if you're a successful breeder nor how many cats you have.
  5. No artsy-fartsy window monograms. --Ever wonder why that monogrammed sweater phase died out? There is a reason for that.
  6. Little boy peeing on Ford, Chevrolet, etc.: if you're old enough to have a driver's licence you're too old for this dumb shit. Scrape it off.
  7. Flip-flops, bass fish, and deer head stickers: I find them all annoying, but in the spirit of self-expression, I'll let 'em slide.
  8. Memorials: Frankly, I really don't get the new, bizarre tribute to love ones lost by pasting head-stone-like decals of names, dates, epitaphs, and praying hands on your back windshield but hey, whatever helps ease the pain. I'm not dissin' your loss, really I'm not; I just think it's an odd thing to do, but we'll file it under self-expression and let it go. However...
  9. If you're one of those people driving around with a Dale Earnhardt sticker that reads, "God needed a driver... # 3" or some such nonsense and you're not related by blood to the man, scrape that shit off.
  10. Anybody who has a sticker that reads in small print something along the lines of "If you can read this, you're too close," is asking to be tailgated. --Trust me, tapping on your breaks a few times is a much better deterrent.
  11. And I'm all about being passionate about worthy causes, but let's put a limit on the stickers, okay? How about three? No more than three stickers per cause on your vehicle. Examples of overkill: a) the "Jesus man" who lives around the corner with his pickup completely covered in magnetic Biblical verses, religious exclamations such as, "Jesus is God!" (which I find nonsensical and a tad contradictory but whatever), and images of hellfire (great motivational; sign me up!... and by the way I'd just love to know how many times his giant burning-souls magnet has been stolen), and b) the pro-life-mobile I found cruising around my 'hood one day which was basically wall-papered with such over-the-top pro-life propaganda that it not only caused me to stop and stare (partially for fear that the driver could not see thru her windows) but completely betrayed any shred of credibility for her obviously passionate cause... So, remember, from now on, you can only pick three!
  12. Humor, wit, and sarcasm strongly encouraged: bonus points for stickers, vanity plates, etc. that make me laugh. =)

"Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them."

...T.S. Eliot

happy November!

Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Now that the 'month which must not be named' has finally been laid to rest, it's time to move forward into colorful, blissful chill that is autumn. Yay!

Long live November!

...Unless of course, you - month of my birth, of scarves and jackets, month of turkey and thanks, have turned on me too, in which case I think I may just have to find myself a dark hole and hibernate.

But let's use our imaginations and pretend for a moment that I am an optimist...

Happy November! =)

"There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!"

...Percy Bysshe Shelley

27 October 2010


Elizabeth., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

One of the few perks this ghastly month has been more shooting time... despite incurring more rental fees for lenses since mine has yet to find it's way back from Nikon repairs. Ugg.

This past Sunday evening, I had the pleasure of tagging along with fellow photographers, Rob Miracle and Tom Winstead, for some noir type stuff with Elizabeth (pictured here), a lovely young woman with notably killer legs. --And I finally got to put some of my recently acquired vintage hats to use...

(Yes, another eBay find.)

It seems that, based on this lot of hats, women back in the day had heads the size of cantaloupes, maybe even grapefruits.

I think that means we've all just gotten smarter. =)

"If we have to tell Hollywood good-by, it may be with one of those tender, old-fashioned, seven-second kisses exchanged between two people of the opposite sex, with all their clothes on."

...Anita Loos

gettin' that dragon.

Goin' to see Papa, originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.
SO. This past weekend I picked up a DVD copy of a super cute movie we'd all watched in the theater, "How to Train Your Dragon," which we've now seen about twenty times so far.

As such, it was no surprise to find our brave little gentleman galloping about the living room the other night playing dragon and (here comes the 'surprise' part) exclaiming, "I'm gonna get that fucking dragon!"

Looks like Mommie and Daddy need to uhm, *cough* monitor Liam's television exposure a bit more closely... Yeah, we'll go with that.

Not that I'm proud that our toddler was caught using sailor words by any means (although he is a Pirate baby after all), but I have to admit it is damn impossible not to burst into spontaneous giggles every time I replay the scene in my head. --The hardest part of course was keeping seriously disappointed looks on our faces while explaining to a four-year-old why it's not nice to drop F-bombs.


"Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer."

...Mark Twain

26 October 2010


Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
October has always been one of my most favorite months of the year. It's when the weather actually begins to cool off and the beautiful fall foliage blossoms. When being outdoors is its most pleasurable and when I feel rejuvenated, alive, and most content. When pumpkins spring up on doorsteps awaiting Halloween... I always loved October.

Until now.

This year, October has been the month from HELL. Bubbling over with chaos, drama, fatigue, tantrums, whiny complaining neighbors, bullshit, over-due bills and overdrawn bank accounts, things breaking down, going wrong, and general mayhem. Everything that is screwed-up, shitty, irritating, annoying, bad, rotten, chaotic, stressful, overwhelming, exhausting, depressing, infuriating, and homicide-provoking has come together for a big fall festival to reek havoc and play the devil in our lives. And it has spread like smallpox infecting both home and work, swallowing us up like a title-wave of shit.

Holy hell.

What on earth did I do to piss October off? October has betrayed me. October turned on me and stabbed me in the back like some narcissistic predator leaving me lying in the gutter as it strolls onward into November without a care in the world. October is not my friend.

Oh no, October is no friend of mine.

"October is nature's funeral month. Nature glories in death more than in life. The month of departure is more beautiful than the month of coming - October than May. Every green thing loves to die in bright colors."

...Henry Ward Beecher

19 October 2010

all's Fair.

fried oreos.
Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
It's that time of year again: the NC State Fair.

When throngs of people, young and old, make their annual pilgrimage to Raleigh to pay homage to ridiculously overpriced deep-fried foods, rides, and games all designed to drain fair-goers financially dry, fill your home with more cheap shit destined for donation, and raise your cholesterol by a thousand percent...

When traffic on any given day is completely constipated, interstate and roadway alike, within a five mile radius of this fiasco...

Where parking is a terrible joke, especially for handicapped patrons dumped like cattle for slaughter into the general traffic sometimes miles away while on-site parking is reserved for tractor trailers, campers, and monster trucks...

And every year we subject ourselves to this freak show, why exactly? Well, I'm not really sure. --For the sake of our impatient, over-stimulated kids who are so tired after an hour or two that absolutely everything invokes a tearful tantrum?

Example (upon having just had my son's face painted and him wiping his mouth with a baby wipe)...
My sweet angel boy: "It's uggeley!"
Me: "Let's go see if they can fix it for you."
My sweet angel boy: "No! (crying) I don't want it anymore! It's uggeley!"
Me: "Okay, well we don't have to. Want Mommie to clean off your face for you?"
My sweet angel boy: "No! (cries harder) I wanna fix it!"

It wasn't all bad however. The Fair is bubbling over with photo opportunities and it goes without saying that I took lots of pictures. I got to spend some time with one of my best high school friends, Karen, and her daughter Cheyenne, and saw my "other dad" Sammy. I had a turkey leg and stocked up on my usual stash of candied apples, fudge, and honey cotton candy and discovered the wonder that is "fried Oreos." I also discovered that my four-year-old is insanely terrified of heights - which made riding the Ferris wheel amusingly entertaining (although I have to admit it's hard to console a child when you're laughing uncontrollably). And when the kids weren't busy crying or sitting down without warning in the middle of the street, watching them laughing and giggling full of childhood wonder made me forget for a brief spell that I really hate massive crowds and thus the Fair.

Perhaps it's those blissful few moments that make us do such crazy things. Gluttons for punishment we are.

"The world is for thousands a freak show; the images flicker past and vanish; the impressions remain flat and unconnected in the soul. Thus they are easily led by the opinions of others, are content to let their impressions be shuffled and rearranged and evaluated differently."

...Johann von Goethe

14 October 2010


muse., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

In my life, I have grown to believe and have often said that there is a vast difference between relatives and family... and that soul is much thicker than blood. Well, as everyone's individual perspectives are shaped by their own unique experiences, this is the lesson I have drawn from my life's journey...

Recently however, I rediscovered my cousin Jennifer... ever a lovely person, just six months younger than me, Jenn is someone I have known pretty much as long as I've been alive and yet, I never had any idea that we had so much in common. I won't elaborate on our shared personality quirks, genetic flaws, and other fun stuff except to say that it was a pleasant surprise. For the fist time in my life, I didn't feel like such the black sheep, just a different shade of gray.

I remember oh so many afternoons playing together at Grandma's with Jennifer and her older sister Renee. One very distinct memory is Renee instructing us how to make a bird's nest in a Styrofoam cup scavenging the farm for straw and twigs and feathers (not surprisingly, Renee grew up to be a college professor). Growing up next door to Grandma, I knew the farm like the back of my hand and was always excited to show my two city cousins the new litter of baby feral kittens I found beneath the seat of the old pick up truck or such... We three spent a lot of time making mud pies, cakes, and cookies which Grandma always pretended to eat with joyous delight and it was not uncommon that we found ourselves in trouble with Granddaddy for digging holes under the carport.

Once, my dad took the three of us to WRAL's television studio and we met Charlie Gaddy who autographed a picture for us. Because he only signed one photo for the three of us, Renee and Jenn had offered to tear off my portion with my name on it to take home with me. (Interestingly, I met Mr. Gaddy again in 2002 at my daughter's graduation from the Charlie Gaddy Center for Children; he looked the same as he did twenty-something years ago... I think it's time he went into hiding before someone stakes him.)

I remember Jennifer's Strawberry Shortcake collection that sat atop her dresser; she always let me play with them when I visited.

Then there was our high school years, me in the country and Jenn in the city, when we were socially awkward and trying to figure out who we were in our own lives... I was the wild-card who wore too much make-up, spoke my mind, and came home drunk and Jenn, well she was always a good person who was always nice to everyone and secretly, I suppose envied her.

It's funny the things we store in our memories - the stuff that actually sticks. And now, a lifetime later, though it all seems like a blur, deep down in the sediment of my mind, there are still things that make me smile in spite of it all.

Jenn., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

Not so long ago, after so many years, we all reconnected on Facebook of all places.

Though anonymity has it's perks, I suppose it's high time I stop hiding from people that were once such a big part of my world.

After much conversation, I managed to talk Jennifer into humoring me for a photo shoot in an effort to further develop my craft with someone I wouldn't have to worry about catching me refer to my cheat sheet for exposure settings. Essentially, Jenn was my guinea pig but I had no doubts I'd get some great shots - she is a beautiful woman, inside and out... I wanted to capture that, the beauty of my cousin, my family.

I think I did.

"A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another."


12 October 2010


murderous., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.
Wow. October 12th already and where have I been?!! This month has thus far been a murderous blur of chaos, insanity, stress, and I don't even know what all. So far, the only really pleasant aspect of this month is the weather... Yay for Fall!

Other notable highlights (and lowlights) include:
  • Irritations with the NC Division of Motor Vehicles - oh let me count the ways... Seriously, has anyone EVER had a good experience with the DMV? I predict the next postal breakdown outrage will involve the DMV as a center stage.
  • Shopping for Halloween costumes with the kids - as nerve-wracking as it was fun.
  • Numerous crazy calls at the office of course, including: a) a fellow interested in voluntarily terminating his parental rights to avoid paying child support for a child who hates him... sorry dude, sucks to be you; North Carolina don't play that way - you're in it for the long haul! b) some jackass wanting emergency representation for a DUI he got a week prior... the emergency part comes in because not only was he driving drunk but hit and nearly killed another driver, not that he was concerned for the victim of his idiocy but what if he sues him? Can he be arrested for murder if he dies? c) a couple of folks frantically seeking representation against the Department of Social Services in their salacious efforts to play God with other people's lives because there aren't enough real child abuse emergencies being reported to keep them busy and thus not enough "hero badges" to go around, and d) a guy charged with Assault on a Female for a spat with his wife - literally. Their fight began by them spitting on one another which, as you can imagine, quickly evolved into a smack-down.
  • Taking a day off to photograph my beautiful cousin, Jennifer.
  • And spending a wonderful albeit exhausting day with my best boy - seeing "Nanny McPhee Returns" at the movies, gallivanting about the grounds of the NC Art Museum and getting a front row seat to a song and dance routine at the amphitheater, and ice cream from "Old McDonald's."

Just to name a few... Whew!

"There is no order in the world around us, we must adapt ourselves to the requirements of chaos instead."

...Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

29 September 2010

a killer shoot.

This past weekend, Rob Miracle and I set out for the North Carolina mountains for some photographic therapy with three fantastic models, Lindsey Jane, Mary Ashley Knight, and Logan, and the fun and talented make-up artist, Moira Hassler.

They were each killer shoots... and we had a devilish good time!

devilish smile., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad

"I hate flowers -- I paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move."

...Georgia O'Keeffe

23 September 2010


Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
I'm not a member of the National Audubon Society nor have I ever been out bird-watching for the sole purpose of watching birds, and unless it's a Parakeet, Cardinal, Robin, Crow, Blue Jay, or some sort of farm foul, well I couldn't tell you what is what. But I do like birds.

As a little country girl, when I wasn't helping Grandma in the gardens, I could usually be found out exploring the vast acreage and wilderness that was my grandparents' farm. I often found stray animal and reptilian babies who had lost their way or fallen from their nest, and they all came home with me: dogs, cats, possums, turtles, snakes, frogs, squirrels, and birds... lots of birds.

Once I even found a bird egg toppled from it's nest and despite my mother insisting that it wouldn't hatch, I brought it in, made a bed for it in a paper cup, and kept it warm... Not only did it hatch, but the tiny naked creature grew and thrived and eventually, fully feathered, would fly around the house following me on command until the day we finally set him (or her) free.

I remember going to visit my Aunt Buella and Uncle Zinnie (yep, those were their real names) who raised Peacocks. There was nothing more beautiful to me than to see those magical birds spread their magnificent plumes. --Besides the big brass spittoon that sat between their chairs, the only memories I have of my great aunt and uncle are their wonderful birds.

So yes, I do like birds. --If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I think it wouldn't be such a bad thing to come back as a bird... to soar above the world and taste the sky...

A recent addition to my growing (ebay) art collection are these three mixed-media paintings from the uber-talented Jenny Berry which now adorn my wall. I especially like the bird on the telephone pole; that particular painting is like a memory captured. Her stuff is amazing to me and makes me smile inside... and isn't that what art is all about?

"Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn't people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them?"

...Rose Kennedy

21 September 2010

birfday weekend.

the NEW Super Friends., Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
The weekend, jammed packed with all kinds of birthday fun and surprises, was a huge success! Liam is now officially a FOUR-year-old... and I am still exhausted. I need a weekend just to recover from the weekend. Whew!

Saturday, Grand Master Jun and Master Kim of Champion Jun's Taekwondo Academy hosted Liam's super-cool Taekwondo party for the birthday boy and his preschool friends... We arrived to find the studio completely decorated with balloons and banners; Liam was over the moon. --The bouncy house went up, the awesome Spiderman cake was delivered, friends began to trickle in and the bouncing began... And Liam got to be a Black Belt for a day! Wow! Could the day get any better?

After bouncing their little heads off, the kids all got a Taekwondo lesson where they did exercises, ran relays, jumped hurdles, and even broke their own boards! They each did so well and enjoyed themselves immensely! --I've always been so impressed at how well the Masters work with small children; especially Master Jun. I swear, it's like he's a "child whisperer." Kids just magically follow along and do as he instructs eager for his approval and praise, which he showers upon them liberally because they all do their very best for Master Jun. He just exudes that kind of energy. And in return for sharing his vast knowledge and experience in TKD, they make him laugh. Yes, the two-time world champion and 7th degree black belt has a big ole soft spot, and that soft spot is children.

And then, who should appear, but SPIDERMAN! =)

Now, I have to say, as Spidermen go, this wasn't the best costume ever, but then again, didn't Peter Parker make his own suit in the movie? Irregardless, it was all very exciting to the little people. One by one the children trotted, skipped, and ran over to the 'webbed ranger' to show Spidey the boards they had broken, at which the super hero "Oooh'ed" and "Aaah'ed" and told them how strong they were.

Next, using my recently acquired background stand, I had set up a "photo booth" in the corner of the studio where I took photos of each child with Spiderman and with their friends.

Then it was time for cake!

let them eat Cake!, originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.
What an awesomely delicious cake it was (made by April Florence of Raleigh)! A layer of vanilla on top, chocolate (my fav!) on the bottom, edible buildings, and cupcakes too. We sang the obligatory birthday song, ate buildings, blew out four candles, and then Master Jun helped Liam cut his cake with a Korean sword.

It was a really cool party if I do say so myself and I do so hope that Liam will always remember what a great, fun-filled, and all-around happy day he had with his friends... and if by chance he doesn't, well, I have plenty of photographs!

Speaking of photos...

look ma, no hands!, originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.
At my house, I have an annual tradition: each year I do a birthday photo shoot for my kiddos on or about their respective birthdays, and being that Sunday was Liam's, we turned the back deck into a photo studio and let Liam put on a fashion show of sorts (and Bella too, though she wasn't as enthusiastic about all the hoopla as her brother). Kevin was in charge of "wardrobe" much to his chagrin.

You see, I just love dressing my little ones up in various outfits, costumes, and ethic garb from around the globe -- and this year's line-up included western attire (with his first Levi's and first real cowboy boots), silk Chinese pajamas (from Hong Kong, Thanks Aunt Martha!), a beaded and embroidered Pakistani salwar kameez, authentic German lederhosen (a gift from Dr. Kerry Orsingher and possibly the last time his big-boy self will be able to wear them), and his Spiderman boxers posed on his Schwinn trike. --At each change of clothes, he would ask if he could wear the outfit when we were done?

"It's your birthday baby," I told him, "when we're done, you can wear anything you want for the rest of the day."

Later in the afternoon, we grilled out with a few of our favorite peeps and Grannie and Papaw. Gathered around the dinner table, Aunt Martha was inquiring about the exciting surprise visit from Spiderman at his Taekwondo birthday party and wow, how cool, etc. when Liam matter-of-fact-ly informs her, "He wasn't the real Spiderman, he was a man wearing suit like Spiderman because Spiderman is real busy and has a lot of people working for him." --Though this was news to me, I can't say I was surprised. That kid misses nothing.

Liam showed off his birthday loot and added more to his spoils. Among his favorite gifts, was a blue ceramic piggy bank with his name on it made by his sister (with help from Miss Kim)... He loved, loved, loved it! and immediately began depositing quarters he'd previously swindled from Papaw while Bella grinned and beamed and giggled as everyone clapped and told her what a great job she did. --Those are the little moments that just make my heart beat. ...And of course, we did cake again, this time with sparklers and trick candles, though Liam was not nearly as amused as we were. I think it is safe to say that once again, a good time was had by all... just grillin' and chillin' and watching one little boy have the best birthday weekend of his life - all four years of it.

And true to my word, when we were done with photos, I allowed him to wear whatever he wanted for the rest of the day... SO, he spent the entire afternoon dressed in his multi-color Spiderman comic strip boxers, brown/black leather Justin cowboy boots, and his favorite brown/yellow/orange Jimi Hendrix T-shirt (and if you ask him, he'll tell you, "Jimi Hendrix was the greatest guitar player EVER!")... He was a site to be sure, but after all, he was the birthday boy.

Life was good. =)
"There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million."

...Walt Streightiff

18 September 2010

4 years ago.

the last shot.
Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Four years ago, I was as big as a whale and counting down the miserable seconds until I would have my body back again and the yet unnamed alien being housed within my stretched-to-the-max belly would be unleashed upon the world and take his first breath...

It's almost impossible to image now and seems so foreign to remember a time before Liam.

My first pregnancy crept up on me like a quiet thief. Like many first-time unintentional breeders, I was clueless as to my condition until I was entering my second trimester. I had been told by a couple of different docs that I would likely never conceive as my uterus is basically somewhere up in Egypt.

Well, I sure showed them.

1997-98: I had a typically healthy pregnancy, was 5 months along before I graduated to maternity clothes, progressed well, gained only 20 pounds or so altogether, ate well, slept a lot, had crazy dreams, kept Tums in business, and drank more milk than I had in the entire rest of my life put together... and I hated every moment of being pregnant. --Besides being bitchy and miserable from inconvenience and heart burn however, I gradually got over myself and was able to wrap my mind around the idea of being a mother before I was due to pop -- and secretly even began to look forward to the whole mommie/baby experience.

Then came Isabel.

No one enters parenthood for the first time fully prepared for what is in store. But absolutely nothing could have prepared me for the journey of having a child with special needs...

Don't get me wrong, life with Bell has left me with no regrets and I love her more than I ever imagined, but Holland is much, much different than Italy after all.

I never dreamed I would have another child. But nine years later the reality slapped me across the face like a frozen ham. I knew instantly. Before the pee-stick would even collaborate. And I was terrified.

My first call wasn't to my doctor nor to an OBGYN. My first call was to the UNC Genetics Clinic... I was over five months along (and showing) before I even told my family, friends, and coworkers. Five months along before our fears were finally laid to rest and I learned that I was carrying a healthy baby boy.

In retrospect, I can only guess that those around me must have thought I was really packing on the pounds because, unlike my first pregnancy, well, let's just say I was a healthy as a horse, and quickly grew to the size of one as well. --My God, by the time I hit my third trimester, I had no knees.

I craved red meat like there was no tomorrow and let me tell you, there were quite a few life-or-death steak emergencies. Kevin jokes that no hooven beast was safe around me, but it was nearly that bad. And Tums, yes... I devoured them by the handful around the clock. I drank ridiculous amounts of milk and Oreos never tasted so good.

To this day, probably the ugliest fight Kev and I have ever had involved my midnight Oreo craving and finding the empty cookie bag left atop the refrigerator. But I digress...

2006: Because of the difficulties in my first labor, I was scheduled for a second cesarean (which was perfectly fine by me!) I remember joking with the anesthesiologist as my beautiful, wonderful surgeon made her first incision.

"You doing okay?" he asked.

"Yeah, why?"

He indicated that they had begun and I let out a loud, "Oww!"

My doctor overheard and nearly had a heart attack... I'm not sure she forgave me for that one. Oops. =)

After what seemed like an eternity, I heard Dr. Jackie Newlin exclaim, "Well hello handsome!" and I knew that he was here.

I can still hear his incredibly pissed siren newborn wail in the recesses of my mind... and it still makes my heart flutter to replay it.

1st photo., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

Four years ago tomorrow, I became a first-time mom all over again.
...And every day it blows my mind. =)

Happy Birthday baby boy!

"When I was a young man, I didn't think about having a family. My wife and I were too poor to have babies. Then all of a sudden, one came along and scared the hell out of us because we had no money. Once the baby arrives, you make do somehow. You fall in love with the baby and life adjusts itself. You find you don't need as much money as you thought. When that happens, you can ask the questions that should have come before the baby."

...Ray Bradbury

16 September 2010

my funny boy.

everyone loves a clown., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

Today produced more fine "Liamisms." --I've always loved a man who could make me laugh and truthfully none have conquered my funny bone (nor my heart!) so completely as my son. He is truly the funniest little person I know and tickles my soul on a daily basis.

Good thing for him too, because his gift for provoking laughter often prevents me from wringing his little neck at times.

Today Daddy took Liam to preschool. Upon arrival, the sweet smell of cinnamon wafted through the center... the yummy fragrance of french toast sticks. Kevin walks Liam into his room and spying the kids' breakfast says, "Wow, french toast sticks! Mmmm. I might have to stay and have breakfast. Can I stay and have some french toast sticks with you?"

Liam promptly responds, "You'll have to go to your own class Daddy. This is MY class."

Fast-forward to the afternoon:

I fetch the child and we're heading out to the car when Liam stops to chat up the director.

"Are you going home?"

Liam nods.

"What are you having for dinner tonight?"

"I don't know," Liam replies shrugging his little shoulders.

"Do you want some suggestions for dinner?" she asks.

"No," he says, "we don't have any of that at home."

"Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh."

...W. H. Auden

double tired.

child safety.
Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Yesterday afternoon, I picked Liam up from preschool. He was happy to see me, which is always nice, as opposed to the days when he's so engrossed in his Lego's or such that he cannot be bothered to fain excitement when he lays eyes on the woman who gave birth to him.

We say our goodbyes to our friends and walk out to the car. Liam opened his door and climbed into his car seat.

"Put on your seat belt and buckle yourself in," I tell him.

Usually this is not an issue as he insists upon doing it himself, big boy that he is and all, especially when we're running late as we are prone to do. But this particular day he tells me he doesn't want to. He's tired he says.

"Well Mommie is tired too and you're a big boy. Put your seat belt on please."

He huffs. "I don't wanna put my seat belt on. All day long I'm putting my seat belt on. I'm tired of putting my seat belt on all day long!"

What? Where did all this griping come from?!! And not even four years old yet. Good grief.

"Liam, you're a big boy. Mommie has to put on her seat belt too and then I have to put on yours, and that makes me doubly tired," I mindlessly blabber as I give up and buckle him in.

Not to be outdone, he replies, "Well I'm a whole lot of doubly tired."

"It goes without saying that you should never have more children than you have car windows."

...Erma Bombeck

14 September 2010

Miracle League.

high five? maybe., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.
Saturday was Bella's first baseball game... Yep, that's right: baseball, the favorite all-American pastime. Or so they say.

Frankly, I hate baseball - and (American) football. Most especially football. --How Kevin and I ever got together in spite of this ginormous clash is truly a mystery to me?

I mean, this man o' mine could sit and watch football for days, possibly weeks, on end smoking his big ole stinky cigars - and during football season, it seems to me that that is exactly what he does, although he will beg to differ citing that Tevo recordings and distracting babysitting and domestic errand breaks don't count. But hell, one game lasts a minimum of four long-ass, grueling hours of huge, sweaty slabs of beef playing human bumper cars back and forth across a big patch of expensively manicured grass while listening to the non-stop, irritating chatter of the meat-head commentators yucking on and on about utter nonsense because after the weather, there really isn't much of substance to discuss regarding football. But that's just me.

Sure I've attending football games before -- I called it "tailgating" and that was the whole point. After an hour or two partaking of parking lot beverages, I would happily stand up and cheer or do the wave when prompted by my surrounding college patrons, but I didn't have a clue what was going on nor did I care. I still don't.

Baseball I mostly detest because it's a freaking hot season and the unbearable torture of baking in the stands really distracts me from caring about anything else other than putting an end to my misery and finding the nearest air-conditioner.

I'm not all anti-sports however. Kev and I have managed to find some common sporting ground much to his delight, albeit small. --I enjoy college basketball occasionally, depending on who is playing (UNC and/or NC State); World Cup Soccer (I pull for Deutschland - yes, even against the US); and Ice Hockey (Go Canes!), but, what's not to like about ice hockey? A bunch of guys skating gracefully around a rink and clubbing one another with sticks... that's entertainment! --Oh, we also discovered on a fluke, that we both derive much amusement from watching sumo wrestling. =)

And while my husband will watch just about anything in the way of competitive sporting events from football to squirrel wrestling (Thank God he's not into NASCAR), that's pretty much it for me...

Until recently, when our son began taking Tae Kwon Do and our daughter joined the Miracle League of the Triangle...

Established in 2006, the Miracle League of the Triangle, is an amazing non-profit organization orchestrated by an extraordinary group of dedicated volunteers whose goal is simply to provide children with special needs an opportunity to play baseball.

There are numerous teams each with their own jerseys, hats, and coaches. There are bats and mitts, concession stands, a real ball field, bleachers, and dugouts... just like in baseball. There is even a proper baseball announcer and coolest of all, every child has their own "walk out" song.

Kevin and I had a lot of fun picking out songs for Bella to choose from for her walk out song; "Hells Bells" being the first to pop into my mind, followed by "Rebel Yell," "Brown Eyed Girl," and "Rebel Rebel"... However, Bell chose Eddie Murphy's rendition of "I'm a Believer" from the original Shrek soundtrack.

Watching the faces of all the kids out there playing ball... some smiles couldn't be missed and some wore theirs on the inside... some ran their hearts out around the bases, some walked slowly with braces and had to be carried to home, some made it on wheels, and one kid rounding second that just decided to sit down and take a load off mid-game (yep, that would've been MY child)... But no one struck out and everybody won... because they each were a part of something bigger than themselves, something fun and spirited and above all, something that included them, counted them, and recognized them... cheered for and acknowledged them and for an hour, gave each child a sense of normalcy within their own diverse community of teammates, coaches, buddies, parents, friends, and even strangers where no one stared, no one ignored them and pretended that they weren't there... and everyone celebrated the fact that they were.

So as it turns out, I'm a baseball fan after all. =)

“Being disabled should not mean being disqualified from having access to every aspect of life."

...Emma Thompson

last week.

Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
So last week, after the "long weekend" (I'm of the mind that weekends are only long if one doesn't have to spend them with small children), our office server crashed first thing Tuesday morning.

Crashed as in died, bit the dust, kicked the bucked, pushed up daisies, croaked, expired, passed away - or to barrow a phrase from HBO's kick-ass hit series, True Blood - "met the true death."

Without having ran its back-up of course.

To be fair, to say we knew that we were pushing our luck with this temperamental, archaic Windows piece-of-shit is putting it mildly. The truth is, we'd been operating on borrowed time for a while now. And although it came as no big surprise, being "dead in the water" was a huge, inconvenient pain-in-the-ass nonetheless.

The week went downhill from there, needless to say. Yippee!

"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers."

...Pablo Picasso

Tae Kwon Do!, etc.

Tae Kwon Do!, originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.
Friday, September 3rd, Liam was awarded the rank of 10th Gup in Taekwondo and was received his "High Yellow Belt" from Champion Jun's Taekwondo Academy, as well as a certificate and his very first trophy.

Yay Liam! =)

After the belt presentation while packing the offspring and camera gear into the car, I promptly knocked my camera to the ground (again) and damaged my favorite lens (again). Grrr... At least the D200 survived.

So, the following week, the hubs takes the lens to our friendly neighborhood camera store... The helpful fellows in the store take the lens and begin to mount it on another body saying, "Well, maybe it's something we can fix; let's take a look... what happened?"

"Uhm, she dropped it on the asphalt."

"Oh," was the only response as the guy quickly set the body down and began wrapping the lens to ship back to Nikon for repair (again).

Hey, when I screw something up, I do it well!

So then I had to rent a replacement lens.

It's nearly impossible for me to walk into Southeastern Camera (and sometimes Peace - if Geoff is working) without buying something... Dangerous. --This time I found a nice used background stand that managed to find its way home with me despite my husband's famous last words, "Don't buy anything."

"But it was a trade," I argued (which never works when you're married to a man who argues for a living).

"And what did you trade for it?"

"Uhm, money."

"That's buying."

Sheepish grin.

And then (bless his heart) he helped me set it up on the back deck for an impromptu shoot of the kids in bad late-day lighting with the lens I had just rented... The lens which I used all weekend and now simply MUST have.

And lighting... I could really use some lighting equipment too!

"Giving a camera to Diane Arbus is like putting a live grenade in the hands of a child."

...Norman Mailer

08 September 2010

cowgirl diva.

One Spot.
Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
So this weekend I was eating out with the family unit when I noticed a young teen-ish girl sitting near us who clearly did not want to be misclassified as a city girl...

She was decked out in cowboy boots, a pair of Wranglers with that sharp blue "back-to-school new jeans" look to them, leather belt complete with her named tooled on the back and large western buckle, and a camouflaged hunting T that read "Southern Cowgirl" on the back adorned with a rebel flag. The only thing missing was a hat and some chew.

Now I have nothing against western attire; heck, I admit that I have owned my share of cowboy boots... that's the thing about boots, they're classic, stylish, and fun, and come with their very own attitude when you put them on and seem to magically transform your gait into a swagger with the timeless, unmistakable rhythm of well worn heals clomping across a wood floor -- not to mention they protect from snake bites and keep your feet and calves clean when wading through rivers of cow poop and such while working the farm.

But unless you're working a farm or are on the rodeo circuit, I'm thinking a superficial statement of self-expression like this is a wee bit over the top if it's not authentic... and while your french-manicured acrylic nails looked very nice and all, they gave you away.

This farm girl could not help but be amused. =)

"There are only three things that can kill a farmer: lightning, rolling over in a tractor, and old age."

...Bill Bryson

04 September 2010

legal curiosities.

This past week, I had a fellow phone up to inquire as to the classification of the crime "Common Law Robbery" because it popped up on his employment background check many years after the fact as a now responsible adult.

It seems that many years ago as a foolish teenager, the guy was hangin' with his peeps when they happened upon a pizza guy and thought it would be funny to rough-up the pizza man and steal his pizza.

The much older and wiser man wanted to know if it was a felony or a misdemeanor? Well, as the boys were both out of the office and I am not an attorney, I had not a clue.

As it turns out, Common Law Robbery is a felony... and cannot be expunged from one's criminal record. So essentially, this poor guy has forever screwed himself due to the fact that he once kicked some pizza guy's ass and made off with a pie. --Not that I am condoning nor defending violence nor thievery but let's face it, just because our country says we're old enough to vote and go to war does not necessarily mean we possess the common sense to make intelligent decisions nor fully understand the consequences of our actions. We're not talking about rape or murder, it was a tussle and a pizza.

But here's the kicker... Had it been merely an assault - say, he kicked the pizza man's keister and did not take the pizza - he would have been charged with Simple Assault, which in North Carolina is a Class 2 Misdemeanor. The difference is the pizza.

For comparison, possession of one and a half ounces of marijuana or less is a Class 3 Misdemeanor, however, possession of the same marijuana and paraphernalia in which to consume/smoke it (i.e. bong, rolling papers, pipe, etc. - though I'm not clear if Brownie mix and baking supplies fall under the legal definition...) would win you a Class 1 Misdemeanor in the great state of NC. (For the record, speeding is a Class 2 Misdemeanor.)

A charge of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) kinda falls into it's own black hole of crime and punishment but I am told by The Husband, Esq that one fairs far better in the courts (and on one's criminal record) to be charged with possession of small amounts of illegal drugs and paraphernalia than driving after having consumed several legal alcoholic beverages. Go figure.

So I suppose the lesson we can derive from this little lecture is this:
  1. If you must partake of the herb, leave your pipe at home, and
  2. if you're gonna kick somebody's ass, don't take anything from them.
  3. And above all else, don't drink and drive.
Seriously, just don't. While driving drunk it may be good business for your local law firm, it's a really dumb thing to do. --Personally, I could care less if you have pot in your car, but the rest of us driving around out there appreciate your sobriety while you're on the road.

A public service message from yours truly. =)

"I've heard that while the show was on there were no reported crimes, or very few. When The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, even the criminals had a rest for ten minutes."

...George Harrison


Fall palette., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

Fall. I can almost taste it. So close, yet so far away... and these 70 degree teasers just before the temperature shoots back up into the '90's are driving me nuts! But I'll take what I can get. At least my glasses no longer fog up from the hellish humidity when I walk out of the house in the mornings.

I love Fall. It's my most favorite time of year. In part thanks to the cool splendor and beautiful Fall palette that slips quietly into our surroundings as summer succumbs to its miserable death and the reign of the mosquito comes to an end... but for me, Fall also makes me giddy with nostalgia for my most treasured memories...

Four-wheeling on country back roads and fields in my old Jeep with the doors off, cruising in my friend Karen's gold LeBaron convertible mooing at cows, sitting in the parking lot of Cup-A-Joe's at 2 am reading poetry, riding motorcycles in the rain, camping at my Grandma's pond with friends and singing songs around a fire, school night visits to NC State and driving back the next day for class wearing the same clothes from the day before, impromptu parties at Sammy's and him coming home in the middle of the night using a flashlight to make his way through the minefield of bodies sleeping on his living room floor, and the oh-so-many adventures at ECU... Oh those were the days!

I remember hanging out at Fort Bragg with my dear friend Trawick and some other army buddies one Friday night bored. We decided on a whim to take off and go somewhere... We ended up camping at Lake Lure in a freshly cleared logging area on a mountain top and sleeping beneath the stars. We sat up all night talking, drinking, and laughing while Maloney ran up and down the steep hill on all fours howling at the full moon and Rosenburger ate cold beans out of a can. --The next day we made our way across a rushing mountain stream and went repelling down a cliff.

One night, my friend George and I followed a big water pipe beneath the town of Smithfield for what seemed like forever until our backs ached to the point we could go no further... Why you ask? No particular reason aside from the fact that we could and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

And Halloween... Long before there was the tedious task of walking around with small children begging for candy from our neighbors, All-Hallows-Eve was a night filled with mischief, costumes, and scaring the crap out of one another.

Oh the memories, and so many I dare not share here.

And then comes Thanksgiving, my most favorite holiday of all and of course that has nothing at all to do with the smorgasbord of delectable food -- honest. ;-)

Yay for Fall!

"Autumn wins you best by this its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay."

...Robert Browning