19th-century French leather-bound books and a single, perfect rose.
So goodbye 2013 and not a minute too soon! Because you have knocked us for six. You've brought scary challenges we never wanted and required strength beyond measure. You've put ugly obstacles in our paths and scuppered our best-laid plans. You've caused anger and resentment and chaos and exposed worry and dread. Many of our best and brightest are gone too soon. You've made us re-examine our dreams and question the reasons for optimism.
Still, I personally should thank you for all the super-annoying lessons: for the ambulance-lights-flashing wake-up calls and being forced to improvise, time and time again. For traversing complicated bureaucracy in two languages (one which I don't yet speak). For the reminder that when confronted with conniving charlatans - who steal my work and threaten my livelihood - I can fight back. (And right is might). For requiring a laser-like focus on priorities of good health, family and friends. For the proof that no matter the challenge and accompanying uncertainty, we can rely on limitless reserves of inner strength. Love is stronger than fear.
For these important lessons, I salute you, 2013. Now go away and leave us in peace!
Not exactly a reindeer, but he'll do... Happy holidays from my family to yours. See you in the bright and shiny new year!
David and I made a quick dash to Edam for some peppery cheese and festive cheer. Every time I visit, the larger bike is painted/decorated in an eye-catching manner (reflecting the season). The smaller bike is a new addition to the bridge.
Note the tiny chandeliers and birdcages - and peacocks adorning the bikes! Click photos to view detail.
Growing up in the South, I never thought of stalks of cotton as a seasonal accent!
A winter wonderland window display, dusted with "snow."
A fresh, (mostly) natural Christmas wreath.
Mistletoe tied with red ribbon and a star made of tree branches.
Rich colours combined in a giant stoneware pot outside a private residence.
A narrow bridge that lifts for passing boats.
The view from the bridge.
I won't get to see my beautiful daughter Jordana on her birthday today - alas! I'm sure she'll be having a wonderful celebration with her friends. And I'm grateful she was able to visit us this fall, en route to the US after a business trip to India (note the henna pattern on her hand). In this photo taken at an historic windmill at Schemerhorn, Jordana was still smiling - even after an overnight flight from Delhi and little sleep!
Happy, happy birthday, dear Jordana! May this be a year bursting with creative challenges and opportunities, prosperity and much happiness!
Alas, it's not I who has embarked on an around-the-world journey. But my photographs travel so far - often quite unwillingly, I might add - it's impossible to predict where they'll end up next!
For instance, remember this photo, taken on a cloudy day in late June, 2009 at the Westerstraat Market in Amsterdam's Jordaan?
Stella Marinazzo has stolen the photo, removed my watermark, digitally sharpened and darkened the colours and added a black border - then posted it on TrekEarth, claiming it's her photo taken in Brindisi, Italy! That's willful and deliberate copyright infringement, as well as theft!
Stella Marinazzo even copied the title "Diversity" and the Algernon Black quote from my original post containing the photo. Talk about nerve!
The Google Image search page for my photo:
Remember this June, 2007 photo of my friend Sophie Pretalat's brocante gems at Bastille, Paris?
Here's the photo's latest incarnation, as a blog banner:
And from the same Paris Parfait post, this person grabbed my photo, posted it on her Flickr page, then claimed the photo as her own!
The company StudyBlue used my copyrighted photo of a Claes Oldenburg sculpture in Philadelphia on art history flash cards that it's selling and marketing online! StudyBlue willfully and deliberately violated my copyright by cropping the photo and removing my watermark.
Since I filed a formal DMCA Cease-and-Desist notice with its site and server host, the company has made the online document featuring my photograph private. However this does not mean the photo has been removed from the flash cards they've produced and continue to sell. I intend to pursue this company via all legal channels for unauthorized commercial use of my copyrighted photo. Not one person at the company has bothered to contact me to try to resolve the matter.
A radio station used my photo of Frankie Dettori riding Authorized to victory in York, England, but removed it after receiving my DMCA notice.
A German site has used another photo from the same series:
And a French site used several of my copyrighted images from Hippodrome de Longchamp, Paris, but removed them, following a DMCA complaint.
Another person who's claiming my work as his own via his Picasa album:
Colorado State University-Pueblo used my photo of baguettes in Paris on their website (but removed it, after I filed a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice. No apology).
Here's a Canadian realtor using my photo from a boulangerie in Boulogne-Billancourt, France to sell a business. My DMCA cease-and-desist notices to both the realtor and the site and server host have gone ignored).
A blogger has cropped my photo of red Chanel shoes at Chanel, Paris and used it in her blog header:
And here's yet another person on Picasa claiming the same copyrighted photo as her own:
Two teachers used my photo of the Liberty Bell and a steam train in York, England on their education websites (but took them down, at my request).
Hey Lady, a clothing company in California has used my photo of vintage French shoe lasts and tapemeasure in the opening slideshow of its business website. Update Dec. 18: The site and server host removed the photo, but I am invoicing the infringing company for unauthorized commercial use of my work.
California Snow has used my photo of melting snow on pine branches outside my Paris apartment on their business website (and thus far ignored the DMCA Cease-and-Desist notice):
The same photo was used without permission by Thompsons Landscaping to advertise its services.
Another company in Rosemont, Minnesota used a photo from the same series for its business website. The photo has been removed, but I've invoiced the company for commercial use of the photo.
The same photo was used in three You Tube videos, which were removed, after I filed DMCA takedown notices.
A man in Spain hijacked my original December 2009 image of a Christmas window display at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York and added a semi-clad female figure:
A company in Russia is using my picture of antique Tibetan prayer manuscripts (that I own) for marketing:
Here's a screenshot of the Google search page showing the same photo, used repeatedly (without permission or credit) on site after site:
Expat Rent Amsterdam used at least four of my copyrighted photos of Delft, the Netherlands on its commercial website. While my photos were removed following a DMCA request, my invoice for unauthorized commercial use of my work - sent eight days ago - has been ignored. I've sent a second invoice and will involve a local copyright lawyer, if necessary.
My photo of a carousel at Boulogne-Billancourt, France on a photo site in Chile:
The company Style.AZ in Turkey has refused to remove my photo of aqua Chanel shoes, despite receiving a formal copyright complaint.
My copyrighted photo of lit candles at Swayambhunath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal is posted without authorization on this site in Japan:
And a Google search shows four pages of sites which have used this photo without permission or credit (on Tumblr alone, it's been reblogged over 10,000 times, with no reference to the original source!)
Despite filing a DMCA complaint and sending numerous emails in follow-up, this "Wedding Dresses Photos" site refuses to remove my copyrighted and watermarked photo of a mannequin in a Paris department store vitrine:
This is just a small sampling of numerous annoying copyright infringement cases I have to deal with on a daily basis (most photographers are facing similar copyright infringement issues). It seems copyright law is a foreign concept to these individuals and sites, no matter where they're located!
It also appears that the simple courtesy of asking permission before using someone else's work has fallen out of fashion. These individuals and companies may find themselves facing legal consequences for their careless attitude of entitlement and lack of respect or regard for original content creators.
Meanwhile, I shall be pursuing license fees from the commercial sites referenced in this post, who have thoughtlessly used my copyrighted photos without authorization or credit.
Technorati Tags: Amsterdam, Authorized, Bastille, Boulogne-Billancourt, brocante, California Snow, Chanel, Claes Oldenburg, Colorado State University - Pueblo, copyright infringement, Delft, Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Dixen Lawn Care and Snow Removal, England, Expat Rent Amsterdam, Flickr, France, Frankie Dettori, Hey Lady shop, international copyright law, Kazooga, Longchamp, Netherlands, Paris, Paris, Philadelphia, photo theft, photography, Picasa, Seashells and Pearls blog, Shang Shung Institute, Sophie Pretalat, Stella Marinazzo, StopStealingPhotos.tumblr.com, StudyBlue, Thompsons Landscaping, Trek Earth, Tumblr, vintage luggage, Westerstraat Market, York
Vintage lustreware tea set from Japan and Mariage Freres Mousse au Chocolat tea from Paris. It's just as delicious as it sounds.
Brocante find: a French phonograph record storage tin.
Modern bird perched on an 18th-century French patterned-glass pedestal bowl, filled with 19th-century mercury glass gazing balls from Paris.
A glittery bird wearing a party hat is handmade by my friend Vanessa. Also pictured are antique French mercury glass candlesticks and vase, a modern mercury glass ball and beaded candleholders - bought at the flower market in 2001, our first Christmas living in Paris - on a Napoleon III tray.
One of dozens of candles burning brightly during the holiday season (wishing for miracles and magic).
“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Technorati Tags: Books, Christmas holiday decor, film, France, J.R.R. Tolkien, Japan, Mariage Freres Mousse au Chocolat tea, Paris, photography, The Fellowship of the Ring, the Netherlands, Vanessa Valencia, vintage brocante finds, vintage lustreware
A French brocante find: Vintage hand-tatted lace doll's hat.
My friend Raquel sent this link, which powerfully illustrates that perfection does not exist and that each of us shines with a unique beauty.
And if you haven't read the excellent New York Times series Invisible Child, it's well worth the time.
Dutch ceramic angel.
One of the French cities that I find most charming is Montreuil-sur-Mer. It's old and rustic and brimming with ambience and faded elegance. Montreuil-sur-Mer is one of the few cities in France with its medieval walls largely intact. Here are 50 photos from a recent visit (click images to view detail).
World War I memorial.
See more of Montreuil-sur-Mer's unique beauty:
Some last gasps of autumn, captured this foggy morning on my mobile phone.
These pictures lack the sharpness projected by a regular camera lens, but the "painterly" look also has its charms.
Oh, look! Someone in Russia has stolen my copyrighted photo of a sadu (holy man) in Kathmandu, Nepal. And he or she has used the image on a poster, apparently advertising a tanning studio. No credit to me, of course! (We'll see about that!) Sigh.
Meanwhile, this hoax is a timely reminder that the Internet is rife with tricksters and fraudsters. That old adage "don't believe everything that you hear and only half that you read" is reinforced daily with the proliferation of false and misleading information online.
What's on your reading list this month? I've been riveted by Donna Tartt's new novel The Goldfinch. And after this article, I'm looking forward to reading Waterstone's Book of the Year: "Stoner" by John Williams. If you're a fan of photographer Peter Beard's musings and images of Africa, this book is a fascinating read. In addition to photographs, the book contains collages, diary excerpts and interviews.
Rather than reading, this week I'm busy with Christmas decorations and running last-minute errands, before sending holiday parcels off to the US. Plus, I've been spending hours in the garden (bundled up like a polar bear!), cutting up branches and plants for the recycling bins (in preparation for landscapers, who'll be revamping our garden in January).
Hope your week is off to a good start!
Chatter, French Quarter, New Orleans.
Hope you've had a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving holiday! As the Christmas holiday shopping season is upon us, some food for thought:
'Piracy capitalism' as a business model: A week as an Amazon insider - A must-read before shopping online!
Live art at a New Orleans gallery.
Technorati Tags: Amazon, Daily Telegraph, Delft, England, Essex, French Quarter, Guardian, human rights, Internet mystery, Italy, Lush Cosmetics, New Orleans, New York Times, Photography, the Netherlands, trademark infringement, travel, Vanity Fair, Vermeer
Woman sifting grain at her family farm outside Bungamati, Nepal.
"From those to whom much is given; much is expected." - President John F. Kennedy
Even in these challenging times, we all have some tender mercies to appreciate. On this Thanksgiving, I am happy that my daughter is able to spend the holiday visiting her grandparents and cousins. And of course I have many other reasons for which to be thankful!
In the Netherlands - where it's not a holiday - we're planning to eschew the traditional Thanksgiving turkey for Rick Stein's spicy fish curry. Since it's proved quite the unpredictable year - with many unexpected twists and turns - David and I are not really in the mood for our usual Thanksgiving turkey, cranberry-and-orange stuffing, roast potatoes and sweet potato pie. After all, counting one's blessings doesn't require a specific menu.
Wherever you are - and whatever's on your table - wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends!
The view from our balcony: the local grey heron, perched on a branch in a giant willow tree. The tree lost dozens of branches in the recent storms that felled trees in England, the Netherlands and much of Northern Europe.
"I spy, with my little eye..." Remember the childhood game, particularly useful on long road trips, while your parents drove?
Click photos to view detail. Images shot with the SonyA55 - a little camera that packs a big punch. I bought it a couple of years ago, to pop into my handbag when I didn't want to carry my "serious" (and heavy) camera gear. But the A55 languished in a drawer until recently, when I began experimenting with its lightning-fast continuous shooting modes. It's not a camera I'd use on assignment, but it's good for walking-around and experimenting with video, etc.
Longtime readers of this site will remember this 2009 photo of "The girl in the red hat," a 1920s child mannequin found at Porte de Clignacourt, Paris. I purchased the mannequin and brought it home to our Paris apartment. So imagine my dismay upon discovering that "Lucy" had been kidnapped!
Yes, it's true! A staffer at Northwest Strategies - a "marketing, public relations and advertising agency" based in Anchorage, Alaska - absconded with my copyrighted and watermarked photo of Lucy. The staff member deliberately stripped the watermark and altered the photo. As if that weren't bad enough, the altered photo then was posted on Northwest Strategies' commercial website. And the company used my copyrighted photo to market their services!
Poor Lucy in an altered state on a commercial site. Click photo to view detail.
In compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, on September 18th, 2013 I filed a Cease and Desist order with the company's site and server hosts, after email to Northwest Strategies went unanswered. On September 20th, an executive from the company that hosts the Northwest Strategies website (but is not responsible for its content) advised that he personally removed the photo. Further, he said he asked Northwest Strategies to find a different hosting provider. He wrote, "...I wanted to notify you personally that it (the DMCA notice) had been addressed. Stealing people's stuff isn't cool."
Disappointingly, it seems Northwest Strategies does not share his respect for someone else's original work.
A losing strategy for Northwest Strategies
The thumbnail of my photo finally was removed from the Northwest Strategies website on October 9th, after numerous requests. But Northwest Strategies continues to ignore invoices for unauthorized and unlicensed commercial use of my work. On October 15th, I informed Chris Munroe, the company's vice president of business development, that I would ask my attorney to take legal action against Northwest Strategies for copyright infringement and photo theft.
On October 16th, Munroe emailed: "...I have been authorized to pay $300 for the photo. That is the going rate for photos we purchase. Will you accept that offer? I can resolve the matter by the end of the week." The fee Munroe proposed was a 70 percent discount from the standard photo license fee I'd requested - NOT a standard compensation fee. But I foolishly agreed to accept the reduced amount, simply to expedite resolution and move forward.
Apparently I was the only one acting in good faith. Over a month later, there is no evidence to suggest Northwest Strategies has made any attempt to make payment. Instead, over a period of weeks, Northwest Strategies has provided one implausible excuse after another about being unable to get Paypal to work, etc. When I suggested the company wire the funds directly to my bank account, Munroe advised he "would not pay a money-wiring fee." And he seemed unable to grasp why I wouldn't accept a paper check-in-the-mail (several reasons come to mind, but one key factor is that checks don't exist in Dutch banking).
Munroe told me "...you're (sic) communication is becoming somewhat harassing," because I dared question ludicrous claims about why the company has yet to pay compensation. Munroe's accusation is a bit rich - especially considering that Northwest Strategies stole my copyrighted work, then engaged in various tactics to delay or avoid paying compensation.
It appears Northwest Strategies wrongly considers it can violate copyright law with impunity. And the Northwest Strategies employee who stole my photo, removed the watermark and altered it hasn't bothered to apologize. Yet the company offers "marketing, public relations and advertising" advice to other businesses??!! Caveat emptor.
Update Dec. 3: Northwest Strategies finally has paid a $300 fee - but not before a last email from Munroe claiming their problems with Paypal were somehow my fault (no one else has a problem sending or receiving funds via my Paypal account) and chastising me for an "aggressive nature." Never mind that it was Northwest Strategies that stole MY photo - and it took two-and-a-half months and 48 emails - including invoices - to get the company to pay nominal compensation. And still no apology.
Spending so much time and effort trying to get Northwest Strategies to do the right thing was wasted from a financial perspective. But the principle of holding the company accountable for violating my copyright was why I kept fighting.
Technorati Tags: 1920s fashion, Alaska, Alaska's state consumer affairs department, altering a copyrighted photo, Anchorage, Better Business Bureau, caveat emptor, child mannequin, commercial use of a copyrighted photo, copyright infringement, Digital Millennium Copyright Act, France, image rights, international copyright law, marketing, Northwest Strategies, Paris, photo license fees, photo theft, photography, Porte de Clignacourt, unlicensed use of a copyrighted photo
Here are more glimpses into my workspace (aka "how to cram a lot of stuff into a small space.)" I got a contractor's estimate to demolish these built-in shelves - and the large walk-in closet behind them - as I disliked their dated louvered doors. But after the contractor left, I removed the doors and decided the shelves could work - at least for a while - if I edged them in black paint, like eyeliner.
The Eames molded plywood chair is a 20th-century American design icon, as is the Louis Poulsen suspension light from Denmark.
The rare 19th-century French pharmacy cabinet (with a glass door that slides up and down) contains vintage and antique pharmacy bottles and lab instruments collected while living in Paris. African porcupine quills, French perfume-makers' test tubes and thermometers from Grasse, as well as other scientific vessels and beakers are included in the display.
In our Dutch canal house, I couldn't find a suitable spot to hang the pharmacy cabinet. Reluctantly, I'd decided to sell it, until I discovered it fit in this space. Eventually, I expect to sell both the cabinet and its contents (I often sell things to make room for something else). But the pharmacy cabinet reminds me of Practical Magic and alchemy and scientific discovery and healing, so for now it remains here.
The Christian Lemaire 1958 photograph of a model on a balcony in Paris is signed. I put a vintage Eiffel Tower beneath a glass funnel, which echoes the shape of the Eiffel Tower. Next to the funnels are 1903 French Art Nouveau Baedeker guides to Paris and Northern France, found at my friend Joan's wonderful store Timeless Treasures during my last trip "home" to San Francisco!
The bookshelves also contain inspiring photography books, journals, vintage French baskets and wooden boxes, as well as bundles of love letters, written by a French soldier to his sweetheart during World War II.
Vintage American typewriters top an "alphabet" chest, handmade by Luke Ellis in Whitstable, England. The classic Arne Jacobsen floor lamp is from Denmark. The early 20th-century typeface tray on the wall is from the University of Delft, while the letters displayed are all from France. Above the tray is an original Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph of the Bois de Boulogne (just across the street from our old neighbourhood) in Paris. The oil painting of Santa Fe at dusk is by Greg Moon of Taos, New Mexico. The emerald-and-silver cross was handmade by a jeweler in Savannah, Georgia.
Technorati Tags: 20th-century design, antique iron book press, Antiques and collectibles, Arne Jacobsen, artist Greg Moon, Attic, Baedeker guides, books, Christian Lemaire, Denmark, Eames, Eiffel Tower, England, England, France, French pharmacy bottles, French pharmacy cabinet, French Pigeon lamp, Georgia, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Joan O'Connor, Kent & London, Louis Poulsen, love letters, Luke Ellis, New Mexico, Paris, perfume test-tubes, photography, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Savannah, scientific glass, Timeless Treasures, typeface drawer and letters, US, vintage baskets, vintage typewriters, Whitstable, workspaces
Voila - vignettes from my office! French file boxes circa 1905 are stacked on a 19th-century mercantile cabinet. The antique brass postal scale is from Paris. A copy of "The Paris Issue" of the gorgeous French book Magazine Antidote rests on the Napoleon III chair.
The wirework magazine racks are from Finland. Among the items included are Le Corbusier's Poeme de l'angle Droit and my friend Pia's latest book Petits Tresors. The framed vintage photograph is of Edward Curtis. But in January, we're knocking this wall down, to combine the "light room" next door and my office into one big space.
Vintage Art Deco cameras on a bookshelf (I'm still searching for the blue version!) I had the great privilege to hear fearless and controversial Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci speak about her work at New York's 92nd Street "Y." She was famous for her combative political interviews with the Ayatollah Khomeini, the Shah of Iran, Henry Kissinger, Yasser Arafat and other notable 20th-century newsmakers.
As a correspondent at the United Nations and in the Middle East, I also interviewed Arafat and other key political figures and diplomats of the era. But Fallaci was a force to behold; even her detractors admired her nerve and determination.
A rare 18th-century hand-beaded purse from Paris and a garnet-marcasite-and-silver cross necklace handmade by my friend Vanessa.
The lantern was a gift from my daughter at age eight, upon her return from a trip with her grandmother.
Raku pottery made by Riley Salyards in Amsterdam.
Vintage spools of silk thread from Paris, stored in a retro-inspired jar from a delightful Attic in England.
18th-century French paperback books, topped by a suede flower and leaf. The latter was handmade by my daughter Jordana, now a fashion designer in the U.S.
Check back soon for more photos from my office. Won't you post photos of your own creative space? If so, please notify me via the comments.
Technorati Tags: 92nd Street Y, Amsterdam, Antiques and collectibles, Art Deco, Attic, Books, Edward Curtis, Finland, Finnish Design Shop, France, Le Corbusier, Magazine Antidote, Napoleon III, New York, Oriana Fallaci, Paris, photography, Pia Jane Bijkerk, Riley Salyards, Vanessa Valencia, vintage cameras
Splashes of colour, in riotous rebellion against the grey and gloomy fringe of winter... Click images to view detail.
Voluptuous lilies at quiet rebel Jane Austen's house, Chawton, England.
Bright blooms in the garden at Chawton.
A concerted rebellion against telecom giants Verizon, AT&T and Comcast might be advisble, if we lose Net Neutrality - and the Internet as we know it!
Jane Austen's piano, Chawton, England, with sheet music for Muzio Clementi's Sonatina, Op. 36, No. 3. If you visit Jane Austen's house at Chawton, you might have the opportunity to play her piano! Click images to view detail.
"Where words fail, music speaks." - Hans Christian Andersen
Music in my world today: Dvorak's Largo, from the New World Symphony, played by the Dublin Philharmonic.
Reading: Donna Tartt's remarkable new book The Goldfinch.
Watching: 1) Collected films of Wallender, the Swedish crime thriller series starring Krister Henriksson, Ola Rapace and the late Johanna Sällström and 2) Sebastian Junger's documentary tribute to photographer Tim Hetherington, who was killed in Libya: "Which way is the front line from here?"
Admiring: Here, Far Away - Finnish photographer Pentti Sammallahti's evocative, award-winning images and photographer Nick Brandt's achingly beautiful Across the Ravaged Land.
Technorati Tags: Africa, airbrushing Jane Austen on UK stamps; books, Chawton, Donna Tartt, Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra, Dvorak, England, Hans Christian Andersen, Jane Austen House and Museum, Jane Auston, Johanna Sällström, Krister Henrikkson, Largo, music, Muzio Clementi's Sonatinas, New World Symphony, Nick Brandt, Ola Rapace, Pentti Sammallahti, photography, Sebastian Junger, Sweden, The Goldfinch, Tim Hetherington, travel, Wallender
You may have heard there was quite the fierce storm Monday in the UK, the Netherlands and much of Northern Europe. Several people were killed as high winds wreaked havoc, with many trees falling on cars and branches breaking and flying into canals.
In our own back yard, several tree branches fell to the ground. On the bank opposite "our" canal, one tree was completely uprooted and another snapped in half, wedging part of it onto another tree (below).
Firemen (pictured in the background) spent hours clearing fallen branches and debris from the train tracks. Train service in the Netherlands was suspended on Monday, but resumed this morning.
We're thankful for calmer weather: cloudy, with intermittent rain, interrupted by splashes of sunshine. Wishing you a day filled with sunshine, wherever your path may lead!
Velvety roses amidst a fall "welcome home" bouquet from friends.
David is home, recovering after surgery. He is doing well, although there are many things to remember and warning signs to watch for...
I am fine exhausted. But most of all, I am grateful. Grateful for an excellent surgeon and wonderful nurses and kind ambulance drivers and attendants. Grateful for doctors' explanations and pharmacists' instructions in English. Grateful that I've been able to stay positive and remain cheerful for David's sake. Grateful for friends and neighbours who stepped in, when needed.
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers; for the many messages via email and text. Your support means more than you might imagine.
Autumn is my favourite season, but this one is proving quite chaotic and unpredictable.
As the leaves begin to turn into a riot of colour, I've barely noticed. As so often happens in life, unexpected challenges arrive, shining a beacon on priorities - and leaving everything else in the shade.
Luckily, our own garden offers a glimpse into nature's seasonal changes.
The swans have returned to "our" canal, after summering elsewhere. And I'm hoping for smooth sailing - and swan-like serenity - through rough waters. Quite unexpectedly, my husband David was admitted to hospital last Thursday morning and is having surgery Tuesday in Amsterdam. It will be his third surgery (unrelated to the previous two) this year!
We hope the surgery is a fairly simple procedure, but are awaiting further word from a cardiac specialist. All good wishes, positive energy and prayers are appreciated.
"Chaos is the score upon which reality is written." - Henry Miller
"Grand Livre" French file box, circa 1900. It is one of two antique files storing notes for ongoing editorial projects. Click photo to observe the time-worn patina.
It's been a beautiful, sunny, fall-like day in Amsterdam - and I've been privileged to visit interiors filled with remarkable antiques and vintage collectibles. Nothing like a little inspiration to spark rearranging my office! (Photos coming soon). Plus I've been doing a bit of holiday shopping, as parcels mailed internationally can take weeks to reach their destination (depending upon how long they languish in customs).
Photographer Friso Kooijman has made a series of photographs depicting Amsterdam's diverse cultures and faiths. Friso's work chronicles prayer services, as well as various events and social functions in which different faiths peacefully interact and cooperate with each other.
Friso said he hopes that his pictures "show people what happens in and around houses of prayer in Amsterdam." "By that, I hope to add to solidarity among people in our city."
To make sure his project representing Amsterdam's diverse faiths is displayed at churches, mosques, synagogues - as well as various public facilities - Friso has launched a crowd-funding project. The funds will cover costs of printing and mounting the photos on traveling display boards and transporting the exhibit to multiple venues. The project's sole aim is to promote tolerance and understanding of different faiths.
A vintage birdcage and garden furniture are on display at the brocante and ham fair currently underway at Ile de la Chatou, near Paris.
Vintage handmade puppets.
The rather maniacal puppet at left reminds me of the shameful Republican antics currently threatening a government shutdown. The Party of No seems determined that millions of uninsured Americans won't gain access to affordable healthcare. Having failed 43 times to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act, the divided party's ignorant and extremist faction is holding the government hostage - in defiance of the president, reason and simple human decency. If we "follow the money," it would appear the GOP's corporate puppet masters are worried about falling profit margins - once reasonably-priced health insurance becomes accessible to all Americans. (Who's the puppet? Who's the master? Racing headlong towards disaster.)
Elegant zinc weathervanes that once topped grand chateaus. I have two similar ones (and an urn-shaped zinc beauty was transformed into a lamp).
The brocante continues daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Chatou. Get your tickets at the gate. And don't forget to try Chatou's famous ham for lunch (and you can take ham and other regional favourites home with you). Stop by to say hello to my friend Blandine Bavoux at 8 rue de la Gaite. Her booth is bursting with fantastic kitchen collectibles. But if you can't get to Chatou in person, you can shop online at Blandine's Jolietrouvaille.
Take the train (ReR1 - direction Saint-Germain-en-Laye) to Chatou Croissy or Rueil Malmaison. Then follow the signs a few blocks to Ile de la Chatou. Bring cash and don't buy anything you can't carry - or arrange to be delivered to you in Paris. Most taxis at the train station won't take passengers to Paris - and if they do, it's an expensive ride! Best to take the train or arrange a car hire for the day. Hope you enjoy browsing one of France's best - and oldest - brocantes!
Technorati Tags: Affordable Care Act, Antiques and collectibles, Brocante, Chatou, extremist faction of Republican party, France, Guardian, ham fair, health care, health insurance, New York Times, news and current events, Party of No, photography, politics, Republicans, The Atlantic, US government
A grey heron perches atop a 50-foot willow on the opposite bank of the canal.
Surveying the environs.
If you're in Paris, don't miss the famous bi-annual brocante and ham fair, now underway at Chatou! The 87th Foire Nationale Antiquites, Brocante et Produits du Terroir promises to be just as packed with collectible treasures as the previous ones. With 800 stalls, a variety of antiques and collectibles to suit every style and taste are on offer. Among the delights available: mercantile cabinets, vintage spools of thread, embroidery skeins, unusual buttons and antique baskets.
A mercantile display case, featuring silk and satin ribbons.
These children's hangers featuring fairy tale characters add a touch of whimsy to any room.
Hand-carved wooden shoe lasts on a vintage ladder.
Don't forget to visit my friend Blandine Bavoux at 8 rue de la Gaite. Her booth is bursting with fantastic kitchen collectibles, particularly enamelware (see two photos below). But if you can't get to Chatou, you can shop online at Blandine's Jolietrouvaille.
From Paris, take the ReR A1 train (direction Saint-Germain-en-Laye) to Chatou Croissy or Rueil Malmaison. At the station, exit and follow the signs to Ile de la Chatou, just a short walk away. Tickets are available at the gate. Bring cash, as most dealers won't accept credit cards except for large purchases. The brocante continues daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through October 6th.
I'm hoping to take the train to Chatou next week! See you there?
A maintenance building at Schermerhorn, the Netherlands, with one of a group of windmills visible across a polder.
This windmill is part of a vast Schermer complex that originally included 52 water mills. In 1928 - after 300 years of wind drainage - the area converted to electrical drainage. Today two pumping stations keep water at bay.
These trees are among dozens that have been removed this week, as their roots began to push through soil and shatter the pavement. The trees were planted 30 years ago on property next to a canal (therefore, reclaimed land). The roots failed to take hold beneath the trees; instead, they spread out and up, damaging the street. The residents were greatly dismayed about losing the trees, but harsh reality trumped aesthetics.
A disgruntled reader
On Tuesday I received email from a reader in California. An excerpt: "...I came across your blog a while back and enjoyed your photography. However, I would like to unsubscribe from your list because I really wanted to enjoy the photography, and not your frustrated rants about copyright problems..."
My response:"...Life is messy and isn't always beautiful. I'm sorry to
disappoint you by writing about the realities of life. My aim is to
educate people about copyright law, so that they stop and think before
grabbing other people's work and undermining creative artists' ability
to earn a living. I also won't remain silent about important issues that
affect us all.
"Thanks for the kind words about my photography. But if you want only pretty pictures, you definitely should look elsewhere..."
In other news
This NRA lobbyist killing an elephant for sport is cruel, arrogant and stupid - and NBC Sports is airing the program! Elephants are endangered in many parts of the world, partly due to poachers targeting them for their ivory tusks.
But you don't have to agree with me! Think for yourself (no sheep allowed).
Photo of an inquisitive sheep at the historic St. Mary's Church, Froxfield Green, England.
Technorati Tags: Blogging, elephant deaths, farm subsidies, gun control, guns in schools, ivory poachers, NBC Sports, Noord-Holland, NRA hunter shooting elephant for sport, photography, poverty, Republicans, Schermerhorn, Ted Cruz, the Netherlands, US Congress, water management, windmills
I've spent an incredibly frustrating day dealing with blatant photo theft by rogue companies defying copyright law. I would wager that probably two-thirds of photos appearing online have been stolen and/or used without permission or credit. In one Google Image search, I found more than 90 examples of a copyrighted photo misappropriated. In not one instance was the original source (me) identified or linked!
Too many companies and individuals alike wrongly consider they can take whatever they want, with little or no consequences. I would never dream of swiping someone else's creations for my own use. And I won't allow others to get away with stealing my work.
Between such worries and the heartbreaking tragedy still unfolding in Kenya, I've caught myself frowning most of the day. Even this lively fall bouquet of flowers, thistles and seeds has failed to lift my spirits.
Time to lighten the mood!
Wishing you a week of more sunshine than rain; more laughter than tears.
Ancient tree, The Citadel, Amman, Jordan.
Kofi Awoonor, professor, poet, author and diplomat was killed Saturday in a terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya. This is an excerpt of his powerful poem "This Earth, My Brother:"
"The dawn crack of sounds known
rending our air
shattering our temples, toppling
raising earthwards our cathedrals of hope,
in demand of lives offered on those altars
for the cleansing that was done long ago.
Within the airwaves we carry
our hutted entrails and we pray;
shrieks abandoned by lonely roadsides
as the gunmen’s boots tramp.
I lift up the chalice of hyssop and tears
to touch the lips of the thirsty
sky-wailing in a million spires
of hate and death; we pray
bearing the single hope to shine
burnishing in the destiny of my race
that glinting sword of salvation.
"In time my orchestra plays my music
from potted herbs of anemone and nim
pour upon the festering wounds of my race,
to wash forever my absorbent radiance
as we search our granary for new corn.
There was that miracle we hoped for
that salvation we longed for
for which we said many prayers
offered many offerings.
"In the seasons of burning feet
of bad harvest and disastrous marriages
there burns upon the glint edge of that sword
the replica of the paschal knife.
The sounds rounded our lonely skies
among the nims the dancers gather their cloths,
stretching their new-shorn hides off offered cows
to build themselves new drums.
Sky-wailing from afar, the distant tramp
of those feet in rhythm
miming underneath them violence..."
"...stretching their hands to the crowd
in wasteful gestures of identity
Boos and shrieks greeted them
as they smiled and waved
as those on a big boat journey.
A sudden silence fell
as the crowd pushed and yelled
into the bright sharp morning of a shooting.
"...and my mountains reel and roll
to the world’s end."
*This post's title is a reference to Kofi Awoonor's poem Song of Sorrow.
An early evening stroll along a side street.
A portion of a bookshelf in my home office. The Art Nouveau tin contains antique glass negatives and vintage film canisters.
Writing in The Guardian, American author Jonathan Franzen makes salient points about the Internet and the state of book publishing today. Read the entire article here.
An excerpt (paragraph division and reference links are mine):
"In my own little corner of the world, which is to say American fiction, Jeff Bezos of Amazon may not be the antichrist, but he surely looks like one of the four horsemen. Amazon wants a world in which books are either self-published or published by Amazon itself, with readers dependent on Amazon reviews in choosing books and with authors responsible for their own promotion. The work of yakkers and tweeters and braggers and of people with the money to pay somebody to churn out hundreds of five-star reviews for them, will flourish in that world.
"But what happens to the people who became writers because yakking and tweeting and bragging felt to them like intolerably shallow forms of social engagement? What happens to the people who want to communicate in depth, individual to individual, in the quiet and permanence of the printed word and who were shaped by their love of writers who wrote when publication still assured some kind of quality control and literary reputations were more than a matter of self-promotional decibel levels?
"As fewer and fewer readers are able to find their way, amid all the noise and disappointing books and phony reviews, to the work produced by the new generation of this kind of writer, Amazon is well on its way to making writers into the kind of prospectless workers whom its contractors employ in its warehouses, labouring harder for less and less, with no job security, because the warehouses are situated in places where they're the only business hiring. And the more of the population that lives like those workers, the greater the downward pressure on book prices and the greater the squeeze on conventional booksellers, because when you're not making much money you want your entertainment for free and when your life is hard you want instant gratification ("Overnight free shipping!").
"But so the physical book goes on the endangered species list, so responsible book reviewers go extinct, so independent bookstores disappear, so literary novelists are conscripted into Jennifer Weiner-ish self-promotion, so the Big Six publishers get killed and devoured by Amazon: this looks like an apocalypse only if most of your friends are writers, editors or booksellers.
"Plus it's possible that the story isn't over. Maybe the internet experiment in consumer reviewing will result in such flagrant corruption (already one-third of all online product reviews are said to be bogus) that people will clamour for the return of professional reviewers. Maybe an economically-significant number of readers will come to recognise the human and cultural costs of Amazonian hegemony and go back to local bookstores or at least to barnesandnoble.com, which offers the same books and a superior e-reader and whose owners have progressive politics. Maybe people will get as sick of Twitter as they once got sick of cigarettes. Twitter's and Facebook's latest models for making money still seem to me like one part pyramid scheme, one part wishful thinking and one part repugnant panoptical surveillance..."
This elegant grandmother wears striking gold earrings. I wish I'd had an interpreter to be able to talk with her. Maybe on the next trip!
Carved stone angel, Saint-Saulve Abbey, Montreuil-sur-Mer, France.
Bright shining angels
long after your departure
Sunflowers and yellow roses.
Today, David and I were planning an expedition to the "mini-Camargue" (Oostvaardersplassen nature preserve, north of Amsterdam) to photograph wild horses. Alas, pouring rain scuppered those plans; instead we went to Edam for wine and cheese.
This morning a bright bouquet of mini sunflowers and yellow roses arrived from my daughter in the US. And David brought me long-stemmed white roses, among other welcome gifts. Despite now being older than I'd like to admit, it's been a special day. And it's not finished yet - dinner awaits!
I share this birthday with my late grandfather Monette, who "spoiled me rotten," as we say in the South. I think of him often. Many thanks to family and friends for the lovely birthday messages!
A closed shop, British Railways steam train station. Click photo to view detail.
It's over. By the time you read this, I've already gone. I've closed my Etsy shop. And you have lost your way.
One late August night - without any warning - you ripped out the heart of your feedback system. In one fell swoop, you alienated thousands of sellers and buyers alike with arbitrary and ill-considered changes. You wiped out all the years and years of thoughtful exchanges between buyer and seller; the digital trail of transactions made and relationships formed.
Not only did you remove all feedback from transactions (prior to a year ago), you eliminated sellers' rights to leave feedback for buyers. And you've created a "review" system so illogical, it actively discourages buyers from leaving feedback.
You've replaced feedback choices of "positive, neutral or negative" with five "industry standard" stars (that in their bright yellow hue, echo a dark period in history). You've asked buyers to rate the number of stars that best reflect their shopping experience. You've also prompted them to write "at least five words" about each purchase. In a really odd move, you've made buyers' names public, providing contact information for potential spammers or advertisers!
Privacy issues aside, buyers can't "review" the item the day the parcel arrives - that would be too easy! Instead, you've forced buyers to mark their calendars for up to three weeks later - a date apparently based on a random shipping estimate - to return to Etsy and leave feedback. Meanwhile, you plan to email/spam buyers with helpful "reminders" to leave a "review." Are you deliberately trying to annoy your customers, Etsy??!!
And by eliminating the buyers' feedback history, sellers have no way of knowing whether to expect a routine transaction or trouble from a customer trying to game the system.
Thousands of bewildered buyers and shell-shocked sellers have expressed valid concerns about these changes in Etsy forums - more than 12,500 in one thread alone. After all, a company making such dramatic changes without bothering to provide customers with advance notice surely is unprecedented in modern corporate behaviour. Sellers and buyers alike have been left scrambling to figure out the new system, in lieu of direction.
Etsy dismissively has muted its sellers; closing numerous threads and censoring comments. Occasionally, an "admin" has responded with patronising platitudes or vague allusions to "improvements" in a month or two. But for the most part, sellers have been silenced and left in the dark. Alas, you seem to have forgotten that without sellers, you'd be out of business.
Of course Etsy admins had a handful of one-hour phone calls with a privileged few (who then declined to reveal what was said, although they'd vigorously complained in the forums). But I never knew until Etsy blew up with furious sellers that you don't even maintain a customer service phone number! It's no wonder your customer service is so abysmal.
Etsy once prided itself on creating a unique marketplace for independent artists and artisans and vintage sellers. But with success, it seems you've abandoned your roots. And many, many sellers are choosing to take their business elsewhere.
Your reverence for handmade and vintage appears to have dimmed. Apparently, your head's been turned by hot-off-the-assembly-line shiny new items from China. After all, there's more money to be made in mass production of cheap goods of dubious distinction. How else can one explain why Etsy - widely applauded as the place for all things handmade - now openly promotes factory-produced knock-offs from China on the front page? A quick scroll through Etsy pages reveals thousands of such resellers.
A small Cambridge-based company has been producing beautiful leather book satchels for generations. On Etsy, a company in Singapore or China is touting virtually identical, brand-new copies in every colour, proclaiming them "vintage." The only thing "vintage" about those satchels is their copyrighted design. And Etsy - in its headlong race to mediocrity, as increasingly it emulates the behemoth eBay - lets these rogue companies violate community standards.
It would appear Etsy is in danger of becoming yet another corporation that has forgotten its founding ethos in favour of profit. You've undermined all that's unique and special about your original business model by adopting so-called "industry standard" practices that elevate profit over the individual. It's no surprise two founders left the company.
Even if you reversed course vis-a-vis your recent "improvements," it would be too little, too late. The trust has been eroded. Sadly, I don't see how such a customer/public relations disaster can end well for you, Etsy.
Parisparfait (closed shop with 100 percent positive feedback)
Ode to the Irish poet Seamus Heaney, who died last month after a sudden illness:
Emotions vie for attention,
crowding out the mundane
and leaving the fear
that must be faced.
Fragilities brought to light,
we wonder how we got here:
so young, so soon, so ill-prepared.
Bust of Marie-Antoinette, Versailles, France.