That rare feeling of knowing you are in one place, but simultaneously being pummeled with the feeling of being in another. Fog like the fog we felt that Monday a few weeks ago is England: thick, dense, gloomy, damp. And beautiful. I am grateful to have been blessed with a day of my England just by stepping out of my door in California.
NYC, London, Sacramento, over the past decade. So many more where these came from, so many more that are still waiting to be taken.
“It appears to be the same rotten old wheel that keeps this country churning:
Oppression, hatred, cruelty, and fear.
We are hanging in there, tiptoeing around, then suddenly jumping full force
With our Doc Martens into the middle of it.
It’s either hide in the shadows and hope for the best or be the change you want to be for your children.
It won’t happen for us, but we can do it for the next generations.
If we don’t maintain some kind of semblance of hope there wouldn’t be any point in living anymore.
So hope pushes us forward, but reality makes it clear that Hope alone won’t save the day.
And if we don’t fight then we are no more than cowards really.
This world is so much bigger than a bar, a city, a country.
This world is so much bigger than the individual.”
(Excerpt from a work in progress with a working name of “Belonging”. It may or may not see the day).
Back when Luna was about 8 months old and we were about to celebrate her first Christmas we started a silly Santa photo tradition where we all dressed in black and frowned next to Santa. It was hilarious, but nowadays neither Luna or Aurora are really interested in sitting on some strangers lap, and it's very likely that Aurora will do a runner through the mall if we even try. So this year we decided to enlist my mother's talents to create some family/holiday/we-are-now-5 photos. I don't know how all those families manage to get their kids to stand still and smile into the camera dreamily for their photos, but I am severely lacking in that skill... Mind you I much prefer a more edgier touch to photos than the general "soft" style, so I knew my mother would understand my vision without me really having to explain it!
The photos are gorgeous, and are a very much a representation of us... If you want to check out the entire gallery you can find it HERE, and I have posted my favourites below. If you are interested in your own session you can contact Alison Toon through her website, wherever you are in the world seeing as she may just be near you on her travels.
Who knows, we may still end up getting Santa photos done, but I really am going to cherish this collection forever. Thanks Mum!
(Family members: if you want to get a high res version of a specific image or even order a print, you can do so through the website).
While looking through these photos I took last year during the California Capital Air Show I found myself subconsciously singing along to the theme tune to Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines... I have never actually seen the movie, but I remember one of my grandfathers singing it and still know all of the lyrics from childhood!
This year the California Capital Air Show takes place this coming weekend (Sept 9-10) at Mather Airport in Sacramento. It probably won't be as stormy as it was last year (although those ominous clouds did make an amazing back drop). This year's performers include the Patriots Jets Team, a USN F/A-18 Super Hornet, the USAF Heritage Flight, WW2 planes, parachutists, and a whole lot of other pretty awesome planes and pilots. Definitely bring ear protection (especially for kids) if you go because the super jets can get really loud!
Here is my full collection of photos from last year, with a few of my favourites below.
You may have remembered when I posted about an abandoned hotel that had become a temporary art exhibition last year (see ArtHotel), well the M5Arts collective is back again this year with another temporary exhibit, ArtStreet. This time the project takes place inside and around a huge warehouse in downtown Sacramento and features over 100 artists from all over the world. Cesar and I spent ages walking around all of the different installations earlier this week, depicting so many stories: sadness, despair, hope, love, current events, degradation of society, history among many other themes. So inspiring, I really wish that it was a permanent feature in the city rather than just temporary. Of course I took a bunch of photos of as much as I could, feeling more and more inspired with every step. If you are one of the artists who participated or you know anyone who did, please don't hesitate to tag in the comments. You can also find a full list of all artists here.
The last week of the year is going out like a lead balloon falling straight into the deepest part of the ocean. We have all been suffering from the most terrible cold and haven't set a foot outside of the house since Boxing Day. I find being ill very hard to deal with because I rarely am ever ill, neither are the children really. But I suppose being pregnant just makes it worse. So tonight will see me falling asleep by 9pm with a book on my chest, Cesar working late downtown, and hopefully a restful and peacefully healing night's sleep for our little ones!
Anyway, 2016 has been a strange, interesting, wonderful and terrible year altogether, better than some years in some senses, worse in others, but all in all full of changes, love, friendship and some sadness. Late last year we made the decision to leave our beloved NYC and move nearer my family in Northern California, a decision that still weighs heavy on us. While it's been wonderful to be close to my mum, sister and brother, living here isn't as easy as we had thought it would be, and both Cesar and I still miss NYC terribly. We also know that the move was the best thing for us as a family, so no regrets, just a little nostalgia, and a lot of thoughts towards the next few years and where we see ourselves then. So while the children are watching the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and we all cuddle in bed, coughing and sneezing up a storm, I will write my own little retrospective of the year, complete with my personal favorite blog posts...
This year two of my absolute favourite all-time artists passed away, amongst many other wonderful artists, some of which were a little expected due to age or illness, others whose death came as a sad surprise to us all. Losing David Bowie and Leonard Cohen sure felt like personal losses to me, and while I don’t blame 2016 for “killing” so many favourite icons I do believe that we were hit a little harder than other years, especially those of us who were kids in the early 80’s.
2016 was the year that our eldest turned two and finally started speaking. All of my worries in that department have disappeared as she now speaks as well as a three if not four year old. I shall have to write a follow up blog post to my previous speech-related one in the new year, especially now that our 16 month old has started talking and repeating everything we say. I started a high needs child series on the blog (Sleep is a Luxury, A Heart Warrior Mum's Account, Trust Your Instincts, Trust Your Child) that I hope to continue in 2017, because there are so many things that people don’t tell you when you are pregnant, and so many things that I feel women don’t talk about out of fear of being judged. While I still owe my blog a 15 month summary for my youngest, I’m pretty proud of the fact that I managed to continue her baby book/blog in the same way as I did her sister’s, because I will be taking all of the posts and photos and actually creating real books for them in the future. In other parenting news I blogged about tandem nursing, rambled about middle of the night and daytime thoughts, dreamt of the beach, discussed my vegetarianism, and talked about how we lead by example. And of course, not to forget, our newest news, that baby number three is on his or her way! And by the way, keeping with our tradition of not revealing the name until birth, this time around we will not be revealing the sex either.
One of my most proudest blog feats this year is gathering and publishing a collection of amazing immigration stories, and I hope to continue this series in the new year too (#IAmanImmigrant, The Ten Year Wait Part 1 & 2, Serial Immigrant, Henna from the Heart, In the Dead of the Night, They Are Coming For You, Female Janitors say Ya Basta). There were so many really awful things that happened in the world this year, civil wars spinning out of control with no end in sight, Brexit, US elections that made me want to leave and never come back (something that will happen once we get everything sorted, as we are a multi-nationality family that requires at least one person obtain a specific visa wherever we decide to move in the world), and horrific terrorist attacks leaving us all wondering if we will ever feel safe anywhere ever again. There were many, many other things that I wish I had taken the time to write about, but I’m spread so thin nowadays, between my work assignments, the girls and just trying to find quality time to do the things that I love that some things fall between the cracks. I did find time to continue my travel memoirs series though, and will continue to add stories over the next year (On Kibbutz Evron, One Night on a Felucca, Falling in Love with Barcelona, Working in the Kibbutz Dining Room, Memories of Poland, From Milan to Rome, via Venice and Florence).
When it comes to time, I feel like I haven’t taken the time to really work on my photography enough, and even the things I have worked on I am so behind on editing! So in the new year there will be collection of air show photos, some of Old Sacramento during the Gold Rush Days celebration, and quite a few autumn photos of the kids! In the meantime I have published quite a few albums, a retrospective of NYC street art that I shot and collected over the space of many years living there, the Western States Horse Expo, the California State Fair, the Chalk It Up festival, the Sacramento Mural Festival and the awesome Art Hotel 916, as well as a collection of photos taken in our local park during the summer months. All taken with Canon, FujuFilm and Nikon. I really want to work on more portraits as well as more horse show coverage this coming year, and possibly some sunrise/sunset photos on the delta too, but that will require some advance planning!
I’ve also had the opportunity over this past year to meet some wonderful, like-minded people via the internet, who have become my friends, and had the honour of having quite a few guest posts published. Ally on Life with my Little Duck published five (!) of my childhood stories, Jenny at Mamazou published my ramblings on tandem nursing, the words “fat” and “skinny”, and traditions, Vicki at The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum published my story on raising a multi-ethnic family, a letter to my little girls on Pabarilife, and my story of unmedicated birth in a hospital appeared on Womb n Wellness.
I also had the opportunity to post some wonderful guest posts and interview some amazing people for From the Inside over the past year: Fear is Four Letter Word, So is Bomb by Simay Yildiz, Raising a Heart Hero, and Raising CHD Awareness with Dara McBee, Ramblings with Charlie Romijn from Thought Forms, Interview with the Pechos Libros organization, Interview with Lynn Doak, Holistic Fertility Coach, A Chat with the Inspiring Jenny from Mamazou.
There were many other posts that have been published over the past 12 months, easily accessible via my Archive, and I aim to try to write more next year, at least until our third is born and then it will be a question of really finding the time! I have been blogging in some form or another since I created my LiveJournal account in 2003, and journaling and writing since I was 7 years old, and I love how far I have come in terms of finding my own voice, writing about things that are very important to me, and continuing to maintain my own little place on the web that will never be able to be categorized. I have some self-publishing plans for 2017, so hopefully they will work out and I can finally get some collections of poems, stories and essays out there! One step at a time.
I wish everyone near and far a very Happy New Year, much love, health and happiness in 2017, and to remember to feel blessed with what we have, and to reach out to those who need it, no matter where or who they are. I’m a little apprehensive about 2017, but at the same time very positive too. Come late June/early July we will have another little munchkin joining us, and while the world as it stands today is in complete turmoil, I hope that we can all stand up together to make some real changes. In the meantime, much love to everybody, and I hope that 2017 treats us all well.
With the nights drawing in and the temperature dropping (and yes, even Northern California gets colder, although nothing like the freezing NYC winters we are used to), I thought it was time to think back to late last September and to our road trip down to the ocean. Oceans and seas are my favourite places to be, sitting on a sandy beach watching the waves crashing in the distance, thinking about the past, present and future, making up stories in my end and putting other ones to rest. My best friend picked us all up in a car and we made our way down to Monterey and then Big Sur, stopping in Pacific Grove for the night. Luna took to the ocean like her parents, but Aurora needed a little more convincing, finally accepting that sand wasn't an evil force on our last stop before going home, where we found ourselves on a practically empty local beach to watch the sun set. It was the perfect family getaway and I can't wait to do it again in the near future.
(As a sidenote we also witnessed the rapid devastation that a wildfire can bring from across the bay. You may notice a huge spreading cloud on some of the Monterey pictures - this was caused by a massive fire in the Santa Cruz mountains. At night we could see the flames in the distance.). Full album is HERE.
It's no secret - I love Halloween. I love how the traditions go back centuries, originating in Celtic times and turning into a fun, albeit pretty commercial, day of celebration in today's world. I've always loved to dress up, and now, with a family, it's a million times more fun. I left my camera at home for once and let my wonderfully talented mother take shots of us as we walked around the neighbourhood, trick or treating with the kids. Here are a few of the beautiful pictures that she took of us!
(If anyone in the Sacramento area is interested in getting some family, group or band shots done before the holidays she has a few openings available over the next month. You can find out more information on her blog here (complete with easy booking tool), and look at her work on her website here.)
I will have a collection of Autumn photos up before the end of November, but I'm a little behind on just about everything so you will have to bear with me on that! I'm going to try to catch up on all the blog posts that I have been working on over the past month this week.
You can find my first state fair post with photos from the first week HERE, and a full photo album from the entire fair HERE. I can't pretend that we managed to see everything but we did get to see and experience a lot, even though the temperatures soared way over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the last weekend! If I had been alone it wouldn't have been too much of an issue, but with two small children we had to work our way around the hottest times and places and find shade whenever we could. All in all we really enjoyed the fair and I can't wait to go back next year! Here are my main highlights from the 17 day event:
The Petting Zoo: We went there nearly every day. I only wish that it were a little bigger because it could get a little crowded at times, especially where there were too many adults inside. Luna absolutely adored being with all of the animals, especially the baby goats and pigs. I loved how sweet all of the animals were, even the deer who try to eat your clothes, and how happy the children (and adults) were inside.
The horse racing: This was my favourite! The anticipation, that short moment when the horses fly by, the roar of the crowd when the winner crosses the line. It was so much fun to photograph too, trying to get them all in the frame before they are gone. I do wish that the races had been earlier in the day though, mainly due to the heat!
The fairgrounds: I'm not a big fairground ride person, I usually feel like I'm going to die and that takes away any fun for me. However, I LOVE walking around, the lights, the smells, the happiness and watching all of the rides in motion. Cesar tried the newest ride, this insane spider-like contraption that holds you upside down high in the air before whipping you down to the ground and back up again... He loved it. Luna screamed at it and I took photos of him high in the air, arms and legs spread out in glee and a look of pure happiness on his face.
The pony rides: Mainly because Luna loved it SO MUCH. I think she has developed a pure love for horses thanks to the pony ride and won't stop going on about it! Trigger was her favourite little pony, he was sweet and made funny faces. We are now going to look for a place where she can start taking lessons.
The FOOD: SO MUCH TO CHOOSE FROM. Even for a vegetarian there was loads. My only regret is that I didn't get any funnel cake or churros!
The exhibitions: I really enjoyed walking around all of the different art and photography exhibitions/competitions. It was wonderful to see all of the amazing work that children and teenagers had produced. So many talented artists! I may enter the amateur photography contest next year for fun.
Special mentions: the incredible motocross guys, the adorable lamas and sheep and goats, the music, and the skilift.
All in all we had huge amounts of fun and next year I will be making to-do lists so that I can do much, much more!
Horses have always fascinated me, these beautiful, beautiful animals in all shapes and sizes, trainable but still completely wild, or perhaps unpredictable, capable of understanding and caring, and literally bearing the weight of mankind. I was lucky enough to be able to accompany my mother to the Western States Horse Expo a few weekends ago and had the chance to photograph all different types of horses, from stunning Friesians, beautiful gypsies and sleek Arabians to an array of rescue horses as well as slightly trained wild horses, with many, many others in between. (I'm not too keen on the words "breaking in", so I'm just going to use trained instead). I learnt a lot over the weekend, both about horses and my own photography, take aways to improve and things to focus on over the next couple of months. I would now love to go out and take some showjumping and dressage photos, and also shoot some wild horses somewhere. The girls loved the expo too, and I have to say that the mini horses that Parelli were giving out at the entrance were an amazing touch - Luna refuses to be separated from her "horsey" and he goes everywhere with us!
I will let the images speak for themselves (a selection below and the full album HERE), but I want to mention of few notable organizations that I feel should have more coverage. Hope 4 Horses is a formidable horse rescue center in the area, as well as the awesome wild horse program that is in place at the Rio Consumnes Correctional Center. Imagine Pitbulls and Parolees but with horses instead of dogs. Horses seem to have an incredible ability to heal and love. They really are formidable and amazing and deserve our utmost respect.