Archive for the ‘picturing’ Category

picturing snowmageddon

Several years ago, when I was still in high-school, I was wandering through the house when I came upon my sister, sitting on the living-room couch, wracked with sobs. She was surrounded by a mountain of crumpled Kleenex, and there on the TV in front of her, Armageddon was playing. I have never laughed harder in my life! Heather laughed too; she knew she was a sorry sight. But in all seriousness, Armageddon truly is a sob-fest. Just try watching it without shedding a tear!

If you know us at all, you know that the Steeds get very involved in their movies. The Grudge makes us pull our feet up off the floor and put a hand over our mouths so we don’t shriek too loudly. The Proposal makes us howl with laughter. The Labyrinth makes us press the pause button every time the two-headed gate guards give Sarah the logic puzzle. And Armageddon makes us cry.

You know what else makes us cry?


DC just got blasted with two more winter storms that dumped about 34 inches on us here in Fairfax. The final blizzard pushed us over the mark to make this 2009-2010 season the snowiest winter in Washington DC history–with total snow accumulation coming in at 54.9 inches this Wednesday!

Snow plows are running out of space to push the snow, but I’ve done my share to help get rid of a little extra–by eating it! Snow ice cream has been a Steed tradition since I was a little girl living in Ledyard, CT. Dad would collect a bucket of fresh snow from the front yard, and we would sit in eager anticipation as he mixed up the ingredients. I’ve had four bowls of snow ice cream this week, and since we’re expecting another batch of snow on Monday, I thought I’d share the recipe with you.

Snow Ice Cream

~makes 1 serving~

–2 to 3 cups fresh snow
–1 tsp white sugar
–2 tsp vanilla extract
–about 2 tbsp half & half (or milk)

Mix ingredients together, starting with 2 cups of snow and adding snow and half & half as needed. The mixture will come to a creamy consistency. If you’d like to try a different flavor, add cocoa powder or peppermint extract!

In preparation for Monday’s snow, I’m off to get the movie Whip It with an old FYE gift card I discovered in my wallet (don’t you love when that happens? It has $30 on it!)

What are your favorite things to enjoy on a snow day?

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picturing: magic

Today I went on a magical adventure with Mom in Rhode Island.


Met a pooka named Harvey in the furniture store–(he was a little shorter than 6 foot, three-and-one-half inch tall, but barely):


Spied some garden fairy cottages:




Had a staring contest with a grasshopper (he won):


Sauntered through some sunflowers:




And sought out the remnants of an old childhood haunt, The Enchanted Forest.  It was a toddler amusement park (of the old Americana type) that I went to when I was two (I still remember parts vaguely, like the House That Jack Built–I didn’t understand why it was crooked and it bothered me).  The park had been built in 1971 and had small-scale kiddie roller coasters (verrrry small!), storybook structures (like Jack’s House and a The Old Lady Who Lived In a Shoe–a giant boot that was a slide), a putt-putt golf course, and a petting zoo.  It also had a pirate ship, which I was apparently fond of, although I don’t remember it.  The park closed in 2005 due to low funds, and the rides were mostly auctioned off.  Supposedly a delapidated pirate ship remains somewhere back there in the woods, but it wasn’t accessible.



Below is the old putt-putt course.  I think the signs were the ones that told you what the par was.



You may think The Enchanted Forest looks more sad than magical (and it *is* now), but I feel such a sense of nostalgia when I visit old abandoned places.  Some used to be the site of a lot of love and they deserve more than to be grown over and forgotten.  I know it’s strange to personify a place, but I sometimes feel that old places like this have place-souls and are just lonely and waiting for someone to care.  Or maybe I’m just an old soul who regrets that children today are being sucked into video games (though I’d never hate on Guitar Hero) instead of magical places like this.

What magical things did you see today?

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I took a trip with my family up Cape Cod to explore the lighthouses after Heather and Mom read an article in Yankee Magazine about New England lighthouses.  Heather picked out the 5 prettiest and printed up a MapQuest map for us.  She even had little trivia bits for us at each stop.  And because I’m a nerd, I had to look up each lighthouse’s light pattern.  Anthony, our tour guide when we visited Ledge Light in New London, said that sailors recognize which lighthouse they’re at because all the flash patterns are written down in a book.  And I think that’s really cool.  Yes, I did say it: NERD!

1. Nobska Point Light

Location: Woods Hole Harbor entrance, Cape Cod (cutest little neighborhood with windy roads).

Characteristic: Flashing white every six seconds with a red sector.


2. Chatham Light

Location: Chatham Harbor

Characteristic: Group flashing white – two flashes every 10 seconds.

Chatham is supposed to be one of the foggiest places on the Cape.  I read online that the Cape Cod Baseball League regularly delays games when the infamous “Chatham fog” rolls in halfway through and settles on the field.

The lighthouse at Chatham used to have two lights (in separate towers).  Instead of using a flash pattern to distinguish the lighthouses on this part of the Cape, they used number of lights.  So there was one light south in North Truro, two here in Chatham, and three north at Nauset Beach.  This way sailors could tell where they were as they rounded the Cape to Boston.  But due to cliff erosion, they kept having to rebuild the lights, moving them further back off the cliff.  Eventually they dismantled the second light at Chatham and moved it to Nauset Point, replacing the Three Sisters lighthouses there.


3. Nauset Light

Location: Nauset Light Beach, east coast of Cape Cod.

Characteristic: Alternating red and white flashes every 5 seconds.

If you think this lighthouse doesn’t quite look like its Chatham twin, you’re right.  It’s tower was painted red in the 1940’s to make it more visible during the daytime.  This is the lighthouse on the Cape Cod Potato Chip bags!!  Nom!


4. Three Sisters Lighthouses

Location:  Eastham, Cape Cod.

Characteristics:  Three lights.

The Three Sisters were named for looking like three ladies in white dresses with black hats.  They were finally traded in for Nauset Light when people began arguing the necessity of three lighthouses over one.  Erosion forced the issue as well, and the lights were moved from the bluff and sold off.  The last one supposedly sold for $10 (TEN DOLLARS!  Can I please buy an ex-lighthouse for $10?) to someone named Albert Hall.  Albert craftily incorporated the lighthouse into a residence.  The Three Sisters were later bought from the Hall family by the National Park Service and restored.  Now they sit in a forest, which is odd. (:


5. Highland Light

Location: Cape Cod National Seashore, east side of Cape Cod.

Characteristic: Flashing white every five seconds. (This is the light at North Truro, the “single light”).

This lighthouse has been moved back from the bluff because of serious erosion, which you can see from the observation deck.  It’s very scary!  But its newest location is right on the Highland Golf Links, which is a very picturesque golfing location, if I do say so myself (I’m definitely NOT a golfer). (;  Some joke that it’s the world’s first life-size miniature golf course.  Supposedly a golf ball once broke a window in the lantern room, and now they have unbreakable panes.  Classy (:  (That had to be one *bad* golfer!)


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“I’ll tell you a story, paint you a picture from my past.” –Nickel Creek, The Lighthouse’s Tale

While I was up visiting my parents in Connecticut, we took a tour of the New London Ledge Light, reportedly one of the “Scariest Places on Earth.”  The story goes that an early light keeper, Ernie, leapt off the roof of the lighthouse because his wife ran off with the captain of the Block Island Ferry.  Ernie is rumored to haunt Ledge Light to this day, and members of the Coast Guard who kept the lighthouse in its pre-automated years claimed to hear mysterious knocks at night, doors opening and closing, and electronics turning on and off by themselves.  The lighthouse is now automated, and the log from the last day of manned operation reads: “A Rock of slow torture. Ernie’s domain. Hell on earth. May New London Ledge’s light shine on forever because I’m through. I will watch it from afar while drinking a brew.”

For the record, I felt the lighthouse had zero creepiness-factor. (;

The lighthouse sits on the Thames River at the entry to the New London Harbor.  We took a boat out from Avery Point with Project Oceanography.


On our squiggly route out of the harbor we passed both the Avery Point Light and the New London Harbor Light (which happens to be the fourth lighthouse in North America and the first on Long Island Sound).



Then we saw it–the beautiful New London Ledge Light!


It’s a pretty unique lighthouse.  It does have a small cylindrical tower, but this part sits on top of a 3-story square French Second Empire style dwelling.  Its red brick is one of it’s three “voices” (along with its light and fog horn).  As our tour guide, Anthony, explained, sailors use the mnemonic device “Red, Right, Return” to arrive safely at port, keeping the red building (or light/buoy) on their starboard side as they enter the harbor.


When we got inside the lighthouse, Anthony showed us the lightbulb that is used to light the lighthouse.  It was tiny!!!


We learned that it’s actually the lens, not the lightbulb, that makes the light so bright.  You can see the light up to 18 miles away.  When the light bulb dies, it automatically rotates to the next bulb.  So cool!  Am I a nerd?!  I’m a nerd.  When we got to climb to the tower, Anthony showed us the lens.  The lightbulb stays on the whole time and there are rotating panels to make the light flash.  The Ledge Light flashes white three times and then red.  Boaters can tell by the pattern which lighthouse they are at.

The view from the top was beautiful.  You could see everything.  Here’s the view of the New London Harbor Light from Ledge Light:


Once everyone had had a look from the tower we had to hurry home to beat some threatening clouds on the horizon, but it was really cool because there was a paranormal investigation team that pulled up right after us to stay the night.  I doubt they found anything. (;



Overall it was a really fun tour and the Steeds left very happy (and windblown)!


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Once she told me she was an ocean person & when she combed her fingers through the seaweed she heard the songs of the mermaids & it was easy to believe all the old stories.Story People

This is Jackie.  When Jackie was little, she used to pretend she was the Little Mermaid.  Once, her mom had to stop her from jumping off the dock to swim away with the mermaids.  And like the Little Mermaid, she also likes to sing.  I met Jackie in the dorms at University, and she was always singing, usually My Fair Lady.  Her parents had to make a rule of “No Singing At The Dinner Table.”

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picturing time

My friend Jacqueline invited me to come shoot on her Aunt’s farm. It’s an old Civil War era farmhouse with beautiful old furniture, hardwood floors, no air conditioning, and a huge porch with six rocking chairs and a swingy bench. Pretty much amazing. And then there’s the outside–a gorgeous garden of black eyed susans and zinnias with dragonflies zooming all around; a tiny old red barn; a lake with an island in the middle (Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn style). The whole place had an air of Southern charm and mystery. There was a huge juxtaposition between Jackie’s history there and how grown up she is now, dressed up in old prom dresses that she hasn’t worn in years. It was like diving into the pages of a story book. But the stories Jackie told me were even better.

This is the bed that she and her cousins used to stay in when they visited. It’s upstairs–those really steep wooden stairs that old houses have. It’s scary enough climbing those stairs as an adult, but I can imagine the climb being even more daunting as a small child. At the top of the stairs is a small foyer, and straight ahead are two strange wall panels that look like doors, only they don’t have handles or keyholes.

“Is that a secret passage?” I ask Jackie.
“Sort of. There’s a hole back there that my cousin used to climb in.”
And so cool.

Then there’s the bedroom. A Georgian sofa sits along the right wall, and late afternoon sunshine pours in on the hardwood floors. And filling up the rest of the room is the huge bed. You can see the headboard here, but what you can’t see is the solid wood canopy above Jackie’s head. The whole thing is covered in intricate carvings–flowers and trees and Indians. It’s mysterious and amazing, but Jackie says it was terrifying to sleep in when she was a kid. What an adventure!


Before we drove over to the house, I had asked Jackie if she had any prom dresses to wear during the shoot and she said she had three, but that she stored them at her boyfriend’s house. So she called Steve up to see if he could bring them over, and he said, “Yes. I’m bringing the green one.” (: It’s his favorite! And I can tell why–Jackie looks like a Southern Belle! This was the dress she wore for Steve’s senior prom.



On the table on the patio is a sculpture of Jacqueline’s Aunt Linda, who’s house it is. Linda is an architect and is the one responsible for the amazing gardens around the house! She just redid the front, adding a stone wall and steps up to the lawn. It looks beautiful. Jackie says the house looks different every time she visits because it’s Linda’s ongoing project. We wonder what the place will look like 10 years from now!

Jacqui and Aunt Linda

So, the shoot with Jacqueline had quite a nostalgic air, and I wanted to create one shot with a much more light-hearted atmosphere.  Enter the Jackie clones!  Jackie has a very mischievous personality sometimes, so we really brought that side out of the clones (:

Drumming clones

To view more from the farmhouse shoot, including the black and white version of some of the photos here, check out the set on Flickr.

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picturing summer

I saw lightning bugs outside my window yesterday evening, which means it’s truly summer now!  So I thought I’d share a shoot I did with Heather and my friend Gabi.  Gabi was here in Tallahassee taking a mini-break from her summer-job-hunt back in Orlando, so we thought we’d take an afternoon at Dorothy Oven Park for what summer is really intended for–relaxing!  Here’s what we like about summer:

1)  Fern.  Or as Heather put it, “Oooooh, fern!”


When Heather and I were kids we used to take hikes with our family over at Devil’s Hopyard in CT.  In some places the light came softly through the forest and the fern surrounding the trail would wave in the light breeze.  It would look so soft and plush.  But when I herded Heather and Gabi over to sit in this lovely patch of fern at Dorothy Oven, we soon found out… it’s not. (:


2)  Going barefoot.  Especially on moss.  Side note–can I just mention that Gabi (on the left) has Maurice Sendak feet (like his illustrations in Dear Mili), which is super cool.


3)  Sitting and telling stories.  In my family, extra hours of daylight means sitting around longer after dinner and regaling each other with funny memories or simply catching up with each other’s lives.  Gabi just got back from a semester in London–something Heather and I did two years ago.  We loved sharing stories and finally having someone who knew all the places we were talking about!  Plus Gabi told us a great story about morphing through street lamps.  (;



4)  Cooling off at the creek (lake/river/ocean/anything but the neighborhood pool).  Cause really, you should be able to have fun without some whistle telling you it’s “adult swim” or whatever.  Heather was dying to get her shoes off and sit by the little manmade creek they have at Dorothy Oven.  (Shhh! I’m pretty sure we weren’t supposed to be sticking our feet in the landscaping!)




5)  Flowers!  You’d think they’re a Spring thing, wouldn’t you?  But when I was little, my Dad would spend all day outside working on the garden in the summer, and we’d have a huge haven of perennials and butterflies and hummingbirds (and japanese beetles, unfortunately).  He got off the gardening kick for a while when I was in high school, but now he and Mom own their own house for the first time since they first got married, and they’re doing some fierce gardening!  So, yes, flowers are for summer (:  I shot Gabi and Heather in front of these beautiful impatiens to create lovely pink bokeh.



You can check out more photos from our trip to Dorothy Oven Park over at Flickr!

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