Saturday, March 28, 2015
During my formative years I suffered from an abundance of oil in my skin and hair. From an early age, probably 9 or 10, I developed acne, which resulted in self -consciousness, insecurity and angst. Fortunately, my parents appreciated my embarrassment and took me to a neighboring town to see a dermatologist. This was a luxury and I am still grateful to this day for their sacrifice.
I never would have imagined that decades later I would celebrate the opportunity to infuse my skin with oil. I knew that at a certain age I would need moisturizers, but oil? Really? Oil was verboten! Oil caused problems, acne, blackheads, cysts, and other bad things.
After menopause I realized that regular moisturizers were not infusing my skin with the nutrients I needed to keep that youthful glow. And make no mistake - I am vain. I want to retain whatever semblance of youthfulness that I can without succumbing to plastic surgery. I do not want to look plastic, stretched, unnatural, frozen or the victim of a charlatan. I want o embrace my morphing beyond youth with as much honesty as I can without sacrificing all.
So I conducted some research and discovered the benefits of facial oils. True, some of these oils such as Argon Oil can be found much more reasonably by visiting site that sell essential oils rather than those that sell cosmetics. But I’ve limited my experimentation to purveyors of cosmetics. I feel somewhat more comfortable knowing that a government bureau has vetted the product’s ingredients.
I took the plunge and order facial oil. My first product was the Origins Plantscription™ Youth-Renewing Face Oil. I liked it. And I started to notice a difference in my complexion. But it wasn’t until I started using the Julep Argon Oil that I noticed the change. My face looked dewy, younger, glowing and clear. And I discovered that I no longer needed an additional moisturizer and primer. The oil prepped my face for foundation and makeup.
I am sold. Looking in the mirror now I see a glow I didn’t expect. While some critics that review skin care products question the efficacy of face oils, I can state unequivocally that they have changes my life. I am a convert. Give it a try. Really, what could it hurt?
Thursday, March 26, 2015
During our years as itinerant photographers at Civil War reenactments and living history events we focused on selling our services costumed or uniformed participants in the events. Occasionally members of the general public attending the reenactments would inquire if we had costumes so they could dress up and have their photographs made.
We made the decision not to bring period costumes to events because of myriad reasons including the inability to provide a wide range of sizes to accommodate potential customers, the time involved in dressing the subjects, and the tendency for non-re-enactors to be displeased with how they photographed in collodion.
Every once in a blue moon we would meet those rare souls who would embrace the chance to use this historic process to memorialize their contemporary selves. The first such instance involved a 10-year- old girl visiting her grandmother in Maryland at a Jerusalem Mills event. The most recent instance involved a family of 5 attending the 150th Bentonville commemoration. These were not folks that I would have predicted would appreciate 19th Century photography. But the family was facing great loss. The beloved father attended the re-enactment in a wheelchair and was dependent on dialysis. The matriarch was recovering from throat cancer. Their three adult children, particularly the youngest daughter, were filled with emotion and fear about the impending loss of her parents. The stalwart older sister said she would pay for whatever her younger sister wanted. And she wanted to offer her father the gift of this image – the family of five forever captured on tin, to last longer than any of the subjects of the photograph.
The father determinedly rose from his wheelchair and walked into our canvas studio, taking a spot center stage, his wife of many years by his side, surrounded by his adult children. He wore the cap of a military veteran. His wife, despite her medical challenges, laughed and celebrated the experience. The youngest daughter filled with tears when she saw the result.
These are the experiences that bring me satisfaction and joy and remind me not to judge people by appearances. When first approached by this family, it never occurred to me they would actually want us to make an image. But I was wrong and happy to be wrong. More than any other image we made that day, I wanted this one to be good. And it was. And I feel gratitude that we would contribute to providing even the smallest amount of solace to such a loving family.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
My husband and I commemorated the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville this previous weekend, the last major battle of the Civil War in which the Confederate Army was able to launch an offensive. It was also the largest battle of the Civil War fought in North Carolina.
For us, it was our last hurrah as period photographers making wet plate photographic images at Civil War re-enactments on Sutler Row. We have enjoyed our years commemorating the battles of 150th cycle. We’ve made many friends and had the pleasure of taking photographs of some delightful re-enactors and members of the general public who exhibited fascination with 19th Century photography. We’ve particularly loved the chance to recreate vignettes for people that have arrived prepared with props, period photographs to reprise or ideas for unique artistic expression.
Despite our love of history, the pleasure derived from making images that delighted our customers, and the exhilaration of being part of the 150th commemorations, one facet of our experience has been confounding. The most frustrating part of our participation on Sutler Row involves the lack of respect by spectators for the property of others – be it our traveling studio tent or the photographs that re-enactors have paid us to create. In particular we encountered many parents of the general public that seemed to think it is perfectly alright for their offspring to pick up the photographs, wander into our studio and run around as if they are at home, disregard the fact that we are conducting a business, dash into the roped off area, act as if the studio is a pass-through, blindly walk into the cameras, and then respond with offense if warned that it is not appropriate to poke one’s fingers on a glass plate. One parent actually said we should have posted a sign cautioning one not to bang the glass plates. Really?
What ever happened to parents teaching their children to have respect for other people’s property, to have boundaries, to behave in public?
Friday, March 13, 2015
While we like to imagine those who report the news report the facts, in reality reporters interpret what they see and hear through their own filters and biases. Newspapers are actually better than televised media because print media tends to identify “opinion” as “opinion” or editorial. There is little differentiation of such in the televised or online media. In fact I have zero faith in the legitimacy of broadcast “news” media, which appears to tilt towards sensationalism and trying to sway the viewing public to a certain viewpoint.
I’ve fallen victim myself – particularly when it comes to national or international news stories. But I was forced to re-evaluate my reliance on our regular news outlets yet again this week.
I work in an industry that involves litigation, disagreements, disparate evidence and diametrically opposed expert opinions; yet, I’ve found myself listening spellbound to talking heads who allegedly “know the inside scoop” on a major news event and convey to audiences what is purportedly the “truth”. But that truth is really a skewed view based upon that news outlets or reporters preconceived notions.
A case in point: I was discussing a Florida matter with an attorney this week and we were musing about the reliability or lack of faith in the US judicial system. I commented that whenever I have a customer who expresses faith in the concept of a “jury of one’s peers” that they consider “Casey Anthony” – as an example of a travesty of justice. But my friend, who I thought would nod in agreement, instead told me that her husband had attended the entire trial and conveyed that the evidence against Ms. Anthony was thin, weak, lacked substance, and could not convince any thoughtful human being that she was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Wow! That hit me like a ton of bricks. I’d made an assumption, based upon reports from the mainstream media, that there was uncontroversial evidence, ignored by the jury, of her guilt. I’d been sucked into the vortex of swirling media speculation and opinion based upon what the talking heads wanted us to believe.
Based upon the conversation with my friend and I convinced Casey Anthony is innocent? No. But I am reminded that I accept what is fed to me by biased reporters trying to sensationalize stories and reel in viewers to their networks at my own risk; that I have a duty as a citizen to conduct my own research and look beyond the sensationalism. Ultimately, we all have to understand that unless we are witnesses to an event or sit on a jury privy to all of the evidence, or read the transcripts of a proceeding, we do not have sufficient knowledge to form an opinion.
Please try to remember this the next time you hear about a sensational story on CNN or Fox or NBC. Consider that nobody has all of the answers but those who were there. Neither the police or the reporters or the EMTs or the experts know what really happened. And any party to a dispute only interprets what happened from his or her own perspective. So, don’t be quick to judge. I will try to remember this.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
“Spring drew on...and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.”
It started Sunday afternoon. After months of gloom and winter darkness, the sun finally announced its presence and filled my rooms with light and warmth. At that point I noticed that my dereliction of duty in eradicating dust-bunnies was glaring. Yes, cat fur had coagulated in corners, around furniture legs, and behind stationary objects. Yikes!
So, like any Type A personality with OCD I was filled with the need to clear my environment of the visible offending particles post-haste. So I cleaned the vacuum that had become stifled with Honey Nut Cheerios thanks to an unfortunate incident with an unsealed box (really, I had no idea just how toxic Honey Nut Cheerios could be to a Shark ) and set to work with my hand-held vacuum hose followed by vigorous dusting with lemon oil, a Swiffer, and microfiber. I didn’t stop until it was time for the re-run of the Downton Abbey season finale (there was way too much to absorb the first time around).
While I didn’t create the pristine environment that I’d hoped, I made progress. But even better, I felt the energy of the sun and celebrated the knowledge that spring is just around the corner. My time is approaching! I’m a Summer girl who revels in warmth, heat, humidity, the smell of flowers and mulch and green, the feel of perspiration on a cold glass of ice tea, bare feet or sandals, the pleasures of gardening and landscaping, the joy of sipping wine on the porch at the end of a work day, the thought of planting tomatoes and basil, filling the hanging baskets on the front porch, of open windows and soft rains.
Yes, my energy level increased exponentially last Sunday and I’m filled the with optimism that I always feel when I start seeing the beginning of the life cycle of nature, the beginnings of something new and fresh and abundant. Maybe that is why, despite my hankering to live in an endless summer, I can be content staying where we are. The seasons mimic life. And perhaps the portent of spring gives me that lift and sense of renewed optimism I wouldn’t have if I lived in the Garden of Eden every day.