My life has come to this

Today a pen burst in my pocketbook and so I had to carry all my stuff home in a small, wrinkled paper bag. My hands are blue. And it's raining.

But don't worry about me. Really. I'll be fine.


Took this one at Redd's Pond in Marblehead. Worth looking at large--I was especially pleased with the way the bubbles came out.

So my parents critiqued the photograph in my previous post, and the review was, in fact, negative. Specifically, they didn't like the dark negative spaces and said I should have better arranged the matches in a pattern with no spaces in between them. I won't do it over, but I have an idea for a similar photo that I'll try another time.

Le rouge allumettes

Le rouge allumettes

On a fun note, one of my photographs from my Las Vegas trip was used on the travel site Schmap. It is a picture of the Mirage. Not exactly an exciting one, but appropriate, I guess, for a travel guide.

I'd love to be a travel writer and photographer. I wonder if it's possible to make a living at it?

Gienna Écrit

I have taken away the silly Amazon content bubble thingy--which was supposed to recommend books based on content and somehow kept coming up with titles about makeup and makeovers and Mary K cosmetics. (I wonder if Amazon is trying to tell me something?) I've replaced it with a little widget that allows readers to translate the page into another language. It's kind of fun to read the page in French: RCAS' son can say le chienchien, le kitty, pain grillé, en dehors de, camion, autobus, arbre, grand kitty, ours, tigre, and voiture bleue. But probably not in French ... yet. I am trying to learn a little French, as I've been thinking about a trip to Paris sometime in 2008.

Some words I have already learned: hello, my name is Gienna, pleased to meet you, please, thank you, good night, see you tomorrow, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, coffee, non-fat milk, and napkin. Pretty soon I will be able to speak as well as d'enfant en bas âge.

Snowy Lake

Snowy lake

Took this photograph in color, if you can believe it, while up North for Thanksgiving. Worth looking at large. Pretty on black, too.

A short and pathetic update

I have been way to busy to blog, but here are some updates. I think this would make a good Christmas letter. I should start doing those.

I sold three photos at a holiday fair at my work. Two of them sold to friends at a discount and they haven't paid me yet, so those don't count. Here they are, anyway:

Float revisited

I sold the third one to a total stranger for a modest price. Then realized it was a film (not digital) print and I don't have a scan of it and I probably don't have the negative anymore. It was nice but you'll never know that, because now it is gone forever.

This morning I fell in a snowbank. I was putting the trash and recyclables out, on top of the snow mountain at the curb, and some of the recyclables fell out. So I tried to climb up snow mountin to get them, thinking it was frozen solid. It was not. I fell face first, knee deep in the snow. And when I tried to push myself up my hands got stuck in the snow, too. So I kind of rolled over and down snow mountain whereupon I fell sprawling onto the icy sidewalk. But wait, that's not the best part. The best part is that I was wearing my pyjamas and slippers. No hat, no mittens, no socks. That's right, no socks.

The not crazy upstairs neighbors might be moving, naturally, because nature abhors a not-crazy vaccuum.

I broke my parents' washing machine, the dog did the scoot on their expensive new carpet, and I made my mother cry because I lent her my stand mixer and forgot to give her the beaters for it ... twice.

Let's see, what else? More babies, including one whose name I can't put here because I don't know how to make an umlaut on the computer keyboard. Here's the other one:

With grammy and mummy

You can see she is a very happy baby. And why not? It's almost Christmas.

I haven't done my Christmas cards yet and not sure that I will. I'm not really sure where I stand with Christmas shopping. I know I've done some, just not sure exactly what-all I've done.

Otherwise it is work, work, work, work and falling into bed exhausted at 7 p.m., which is why I don't answer the phone when KK and Calvin-roo call. Bad auntie.

Merry Christmas!


Seriously cute toddler alert. His mom, my friend RCAS, was worried that he wouldn't rate a blog entry, because he's not a baby. However, she points out that--unlike babies--her little genuis can say stuff, including doggie, kitty, toast, outside, truck, bus, tree, big kitty, bear, tiger, blue car... and, of course, 'brella.

BTW, toast?

More freakin' baby pictures!

You know, my blog used to actually be about writing.

And now it's totally been taken over by babies!

They're everywhere!

The many faces of Calvin-roo The pout

The half-smile The flirty smile

Damn babies. Think they're so cute.

Happy pumpkin!*

Happy Pumpkin

The title (as indicated by the exclamation point) is totally ironic--why is it that dogs in costumes always look so miserable? In fact, she was wagging her tail and was perfectly happy all night in her puffy, warm, soft pumpkin outfit (well, OK, we had to ditch the hat). Barking and running around and poking her nose into everyone's candy bags and even trying, unsuccessfully, to roll over (she would get half-way and then the puffy pumpkin costume would let her roll no further).

Plus, doesn't she know how totally cute she looks?

For immediate release: Hi Mom!

Honestly, it was only a matter of time before my mother made it into my weekly e-newsletter column. Funny, though, that she'd end up in the one listing my pet peeves about press releases.


Yesterday was the company's Halloweeen party and parade. People really go all out, dressing up and decorating "for the kids."

Our group had trouble agreeing on a theme (the majority vote, I believe, was to sneak out and go to a bar), so we just did the 70's. Our disparate group included (clockwise from left) me as Velma from Scooby Doo, The Bandit (from Smokey and the), a pirate (some group crossover going on, there), disco diva #1 (who decorated her cube as Studio 57 and 1/8th), a 70s pirate (see the peace sign necklace?), Disco Diva #2 (who was the driving force behind whatever semblance of organization we managed to achieve) and Roger Daltry, (who all the younguns in the group thought was dead).

Marsupial growing by leaps and bounds

Saw the Marsupial yesterday--and WOW is he getting big! Of course, for Calvin-Roo, it's all relative.

This funny exchange happened while we were out for a stroll:

Mel (sweetly): Oh, he's so cute when he's sleeping.
KK (outraged): Hey! He's cute when he's awake, too!

I didn't remember to bring my camera yesterday, but here are some pics from our last walk. Yeah, we made him cry by dragging him out of his nice cozy stroller for a photo-op and letting the sun get all in his eyes. What meanies we are!


He forgot all about it and went back to sleep soon enough.

IMG_0152 IMG_0153

I don't think we've scarred him for life.


Rock on!

Greetings from Swampscott

Updates to Mom's blog

Lancaster Hill 12X24

There are four new paintings up over at Studio Diane, now in its second year. Don't forget to wish the artist a happy birthday, too, while there are still a few days left in the month! (She celebrates for the full 30 days.)

In other news, KK is blogging again! Go see the marsupial!

The last five pounds are a _________.

Today I realized I have been on a diet for 17 months.


I haven't written about Weight Watchers for a while in part because there hasn't been much to report. I hit a plateau about five pounds from my goal and have been going up a little/down a little ever since. This is not to say that WW stopped working. Think about it--at least I'm not going up a little/up a little more.

I actually met my goal for a brief moment a few weeks ago. But then I panicked, set my goal a little lower, and then promptly gained four pounds. I'm so over that. I've picked a number and I'm sticking to it and when I get there I am going to be happy with it. And at least I have lots of practice maintaining the weight!

Anyway, today I signed up for what had BETTER be my last 17-week at-work session. I missed last week's meeting, but I'd guess I am about two pounds away from goal. It's funny to think how easy it was (in hindsight, anyway) to lose more than three pounds in the first week. But the last five pounds are a bitch. I'm not sure why that is, but I'm not going to give up yet. (Maybe tomorrow.)

The back story:

Week one: Freaking out.
Week two: Famished.
Week five: The first ten.
Week 10: Fixated on cake.
Seven months: Back to the Future.
Twelve months: Finally 40!

What I did on my summer vacation

This year's summer vacation was campy.

We had archery lessons:

2007 summer vaca062

2007 summer vaca067 Scene 1: Friends (for now)

And put on a play:

Scene 2: Fight to the death
(Sorry it's blurry, I think I was laughing.)

We had swimming:

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2007 summer vaca019

2007 summer vaca034

2007 summer vaca041

And did arts and crafts:

2007 summer vaca049 2007 summer vaca051

2007 summer vaca059

And went on field trips:

All in all, a good time, lots of bugbites, steamed lobster dinners, did some shopping, got a pedicure, etc. etc.

Actually, it was remarkably similar to last year's summer vacation, though the pics of me and my chins look slightly different:

2007 summer vaca042 july06081

New neighbors!

People keep asking me for an update, and now it is official: The upstairs unit sold and the new neighbors moved in upstairs this week. Here's the best part: All evidence so far suggests that they are NOT CRAZY! And that's not even a sarcastic exclamation point. Plus, the dog likes them. So, all is good.

Also, I've been writing a weekly e-newsletter on healthcare marketing for work. I don't really like to write about work here but I'm kind of proud of this, so check it out. This week I wrote about the (supposed) backlash against meetings. I've received a bunch of reader responses ... it's obviously a sore subject.

This little piggy is on Flickr

Aw, look--he's giving you the thumbs up!

I've added a new set for pictures of Calvin on my Flickr page with a few more that aren't posted here. I have made them public for now but if you want to see all of my pictures of babies and such you should really create a free account and let me know your user name so that I can add you to my list of friends and family. This allows you to see private pictures and also to download photos to your own computer or to order prints.

Audrey, Diane, Robin, and Andrea all have pictures of dogs and babies and weddings and birthday parties and etc. posted, too. But most of them are private--you can't see them if you don't sign up and let us all know to add you as a contact!

I'm too little for my hat

I'm too little for my hat

Too little for my hat
What you think about that?
I'm a baby, you know what I mean
And I do my little turn in my whale hat

Pictures of the feet to come!

Ready for his close-up

Ready for his close-up

Seriously, have you ever seen such a sweet face? Wait 'till you see his feet!

Oh, Baby!

Babies make me happy!
Meet Calvin, my newest love. Just shy of 6 pounds. 19 inches long. Steel blue eyes and lots of dark hair. Interesting feet with very loooong toes! Mom doing fine. More pictures, as usual, to come.

Dogs on a blanket

Dogs on a blanket

Been a lot going on, but not a lot of time to write about it all. Our favorite Beagle friend Simon came to visit last week. I don't know if you can tell this about him, but he is pretty laid back. Unlike someone else I know.

Dogs in the grass

a roll in the ... My spastic dog

Few more photos featuring Simon the wonder beagle here.

So, what do you do?

No posts for a while. Why? Very busy at work. What do I do? Well, since you asked ...

Me, distorted but contemplative

Free your mind

I was mesmirized by the Zhan Wang sculpture that's currently in the lobby of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It's a large rock, covered in or made of highly-reflective stainless steel. It's meant, in part, to remind us to make room for contemplation and nature, even in the midst of modern cities. "Zhan is ultimately interested in opposing forces, such as the old and new, natural and man-made, and the friction that occurs when these forces meet," according to this article about him and his work.

Check out some of the other photos I took of the sculpture here.

Edward Hopper at the MFA

My mom and I went to the Edward Hopper exhibit at the MFA yesterday. It was fabulous. There were so many paintings there that I had admired in books or prints or postcards but had never seen in real life. Nighthawks, of course. And Chop Suey, on the left, which I always thought was my favorite. But after seeing the paintings in person, while I still love Chop Suey (the painting, not the dish ... I had a conversation today about the difference between "regular" Chop Suey and American Chop Suey but that was just a coincidence) I've decided that my favorite is actually Automat.

The paintings, up close, are not exactly what I imagined--especially the ones of women. The paint is thicker, more layered and textured than I expected. In most of the paintings, it looks as if the women are wearing clay masks. That blank look that so many of Hopper's women wear (like the one on the woman in the green sweater in Chop Suey, and the woman sitting alone with her cup of coffee in Automat, left, and of the many paintings he did of women dressed or undressed but always alone in hotel rooms) is much more intense in person. It's uncomfortable, sometimes, to look at them. Also, Hopper, himself, was not what I expected. He looks arrogant in one self-portrait. Like a banker in another. Somehow I thought he would be more artistic looking, more romantic. Why did I think he was a romantic? I think it's because of all those paintings of women who are alone. These paintings seem so intimate, so personal. I assumed that he felt something for them. But after seeing them in person, at all those blank stares and awkward poses and unflattering points of view, I'm not sure how he felt about them after all.

Hopper's notebooks were featured in the exhibit, but under glass and so you could only see the few pages that were open. He made sketches of each painting he made and made notes about what kind of paint he used, what colors, where he painted it, etc. His wife added how much each painting sold for, calculated his two-thirds cut, and sometimes made funny little comments about the paintings. You can browse virtual versions of one of Hopper's notebooks online (not sure how long this feature will remain available on the MFA site). You can flip through the pages and zoom in on each one. Very cool.

I also took some really nice photographs which I will try to post soon. (I'm always inspired by a trip to the museum.)

Anyway, I enjoyed the show very much. What I did NOT enjoy, however, was the woman whose cell phone went off not once but TWICE and who, rather than dying of shame, smashing her phone against the nearest rock to get it to stop ringing or racing out of the exhibit hall as if her hair was on fire, actually answered the phone and started talking on it. In fact, the other people at the exhibit didn't even seem to notice (except to check that their own phones were off). Apparently this is just normal behavior now, to talk on your cell phone in restaurants, at movies, in museums and during weddings and funerals and AA meetings.

New tricks

Just got back from three days in Nashville, TN, with some folks from work. One of my co-workers expressed some concern that I might quote her on my blog. I didn't tell her that until she is as cute as the dog or as crazy as the crazy dead upstairs neighbor, she's not likely to be immortalized here.

Does she dance like a ballerina on command? I don't think so.

Nashville was a lot of fun. Next time I'd save more energy for the honky-tonk bars and the live music, though. We went to the world famous Tootsies the first night, but by the time we got there (via a series of local eateries and drinkeries) I was wiped out. I would have also liked to see the Frist, but our schedule didn't accommodate. The truth is that when you're traveling for business you often don't have as much time and energy to be a tourist as you'd like.

I will tell you one story (it's a very safe one, I promise). At supper on the second night someone asked the table, "If you could be in any band in history, which would it be?" I knew my answer right away. But can you believe that someone I had just met the night before guessed which band I was going to choose before I even said it? I mean, that's a little spooky, right?

Katie: I am back and want to hear all about the passing of the papers -- Woo hoos all around -- and I like the new design on your site, too. I still want to help you learn how to upload photos ... I really do. Then I can say "You should put that on your blog" to you!

One more cute picture of the dog's new trick here.

Next they'll be crashing the red tent

I went to a baby shower this weekend and I have to say there were an alarming number of men there. And I'm not just talking about one or two dudes, say the father and the husband of the shower-ee, showing up at the very end to say thanks and help cram all the crap they got into the back of the SUV. No, there were several men there, right from the beginning and throughout the event, sitting at the white table-clothed cafe tables, admiring the flowers, eating the bite-sized quiches and crustless finger sandwiches, oohing and ahing over the parade of little pastel outfits and stuffed animals and blankets, passing around photo albums and hogging all the babies. And this was not one of those horrible Jack and Jill showers. It was just a regular old girls-only shower. But for some reason these men felt compelled to attend. Maybe they were afraid they would miss out on some prime gossip or some tips on breastfeeding or something.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't there a time when men would have rather died than attend a baby shower? Or, at the very least, wasn't there a time when they just would have been too lazy and disinterested?

No dogs allowed

An outrage!

The dog is always baffled when her people go somewhere without her.

One more here.

Look what the cat dragged in ...

I'd just like to say that this year's spring clean-up is superior to all other spring clean-ups by a mile. I whacked weeds, raked and bagged leaves, pulled rocks and roots out of the ground, dug holes and planted flowers. I beautified the HELL out of my yard.

But more importantly, for the first time in my life I bought and spread mulch. Mulch has always intimidated me. There are so many colors to choose from, so many different materials and scents. How many bags do you need? How thick do you spread it? Where should you put it? And those bags are heavy! I feel like you ought to have a truck if you're going to be buying mulch.

Anyway, the yard does look very pretty, the mulch is neatly (if a little bit too thinly) spread. And the spring cleanup is done, more or less, except for the watering, the mowing, and the occasional weed-pulling.

Oh, and the picking up of the cat poop.

As soon as I spread that first bag of mulch, every cat in the neighborhood came running. Apparently, my yard now looks and smells like a freshly-cleaned litter box. That pine scent--it's irresistible! Those woody fibers--so luxurious to the paw! And look! She's decorated it with a little troll! How kitchy!

A quick search online turns up dozens of lovely ways to discourage the cats: scatter around some thorny branches from a rose bush, spray commercial cat repellents or spread home-made deterrents, such as orange rinds or Vicks Vapo Rub, spray them with a water pistol (though I haven't actually caught any in act and, um, don't really want to, either). If it gets much worse I might have to buy a "cat-crow." (Someone at that company's been abusing Photoshop, I think.)

My favorite idea so far: Bury mouse traps under the mulch. That'll teach the disgusting little bastards.

First swim of the season

First swim of the season

Like a little old lady, the dog only went in up to her knees.