Special Events

Married: Erin and Dan!

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Erin and Dan were married on a chilly December day right in the middle of the holiday season, and what a joyful holiday it was! Erin, who apparently once declared she would never get married, did so at the Bier Baron in Washington, D.C. where she met Dan a year ago. To bring it full-circle, they invited a small group of friends and families to share a beer and watch them say their vows. Afterwards, more guests joined them at Dan’s childhood home in Derwood, Md. outside the Beltway, for a most excellent reception of oysters, Texas beef brisket, smoked salmon, vegan and non-vegan cake, dancing to Gangnam Style (and other songs) in the decked-out garage, and cigars on the back porch.

Since Dan’s mother, Calli, is actually a good friend of mine from work, I’ve witnessed (or heard many details of) the relationship and wedding planning since day one. It’s been super fun leaning over Calli’s shoulder at her computer screen as she picked out tealights, gift bags, flowers and talked about clearing out the garage for a dance floor and the food selection with the caterer. I had a great time being a part of the wedding celebration as photographer. Enjoy!

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Places

A snapshot: Spain!

  A matador faces down the bull in Sevilla.

Apologies for the grand hiatus from updating this photo blog. I’ve been busy transitioning all my photo editing to a new Macintosh and – oh yeah! – had a baby girl in February! During this wonderful vacation they call “maternity leave”, we were able to embark on our first family voyage to Spain. The next several series will be photos from our trip as we traveled through Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Seville, Cordoba, Jerez and Cadiz, the Pueblo Blancos, Ronda and finally Granada. I am exhausted, happy and combing through several dozen gigabytes of photos to post here. Stay tuned!

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Places

Anguilla!

Shoal Bay East, Anguilla

The tiny British island of Anguilla, three miles from St. Martin in the Caribbean, is so exclusive that it’s like a country club in many ways. For one thing, anyone familiar with the island clearly has money, or has prioritized their annual budgets to include a trip here because they know it’s worth it. And members of this exclusive club can talk “island talk” to each other, as my doctor did to me today during my visit. “Ah, Anguilla, he sighed. “Uncle Ernie’s is the best,” referring to the little beach-front ribs shack that is so popular and famous on the island for reasons still unbeknownst to me (they’re just $8 chicken and ribs, they are tasty, and I suppose they come with an ocean view). It was once one of the best-kept secrets of the Caribbean, a beautiful strip of tranquility without the cruise ships, the mobs of tacky tourists, the noise of casinos and the drunken stupor of college kids at a strip bar. Anguilla is above all that, and on purpose, too: in the 1980’s, the island government made a deliberate decision to target the high-end customer and never to build a casino. In exchange, it welcomed travelers who would not only respect the island and beautiful azure waters and white sand made of crushed sun-bleached seashells, but to grow to love Anguilla as much as the locals did. Outsiders are “guests” of the island, not tourists, and everyone treats each other equally.

Sure, entrees at the award-winning restaurants start at $40 and it cost us nearly $100 just to get off the island back to St. Martin (taxi to the ferry, ferry ticket, departure tax). But why leave the island at all? Jon and I seriously contemplated never coming home while we were there on our ocean-front studio with kitchen, snorkeling and sunning and getting sand between the pages of our paperbacks. When the tide was fierce outside our studio, we took the rental car to a random trail and ended up at quiet Junks Hole Bay for a morning of swimming and seashell gathering. For a few days, we were island folk, people who lived a simple life out of a single carry-on suitcase and two backpacks. And of course, my ever-growing bulky camera bag, which caught a few Anguillan moments when I wasn’t too lazy on my beach chair.

Junks Hole Bay

Scilly Cay fishing village

Sunset over Shoal Bay East


Church in Island Harbour

Sunset over Shoal Bay Villas

Palm trees, Shoal Bay East

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Places

9/11 Memorial

World Trade Center Memorial

Even though I grew up a half hour outside Manhattan, I (shamefully) didn’t really know where the World Trade Center was. I never ventured below Chinatown. Years later I realized all I had to do was look up and that was the guiding symbol pointing me south, an obvious landmark I used to gather my bearings after emerging from the depths of the underground subway.

My clearest memory of the World Trade Center is the elevator. Particularly the one leading up to Windows on the World, taking me specifically to a bar known as the Greatest Bar on Earth, on the 107th floor. The elevator was the size of my room on the Upper West Side. My friend Marjorie, with whom I always went to Windows, and I would discuss how to arrange bedroom furniture around the elevator.

Other than the elevator size, the company with us on the rides were always was an experience. Many of the passengers donned name tags, usually out-of-towners in for their first Twin Towers experience. They didn’t just stare at the floor numbers lighting up. They gasped as the elevator took off. Riding to the top of the city took a New York minute. And as everyone poured out of the elevators to the top of the building, discussion about the incredible elevator speed always followed, maybe with a comment about someone’s stomach being left down below as the elevator shot upwards. And then they would all ooh and aah at the magnificent view, usually a festive sunset over the harbor. New Yorkers hustling about during rush hour disappeared far below, and the vast maze of Manhattan shone golden from the setting sun, in the same way the immigrants imagined golden streets as their boat approached the Statue of Liberty, also visible from our table. We would sit and sip wine and munch sushi while the city darkened around us from pink to orange to purple to navy, specks of light flicking on the city like a Christmas tree.

The first time I visited Windows on the World was in 1999, with Marjorie, to deliver pamphlets for our law office who was participating in some conference there. As we stepped off the elevator, we were greeted by a vision of white. Tall white walls, tall white glass, white everywhere. Where were the alleged windows as indicated in the name, Windows on the World? Turned out they shielded us from the white puff clouds outside, so thick I was led to believe the windows were sheets of white glass. I felt like I was either in heaven or on a misty soap opera. Even if I saw nothing that day, I remember the strange swirling sensation of the clouds mixing white with white, and how within two minutes I could rise from several levels underground on the subway all the way up to the top of the world.

Today, all that’s left are two dark stone squares that mark the footprints where these magnificent buildings once stood, a memorial to those who died on 9/11/01. You can touch the names of the deceased, who are forever embedded into the ghosts of the towers that once stood there. I found the name of a high school classmate and old friend, Peter Alderman, who died while attending a conference at the top of one tower. His family created the Peter C. Alderman Foundation, dedicated to helping victims of terrorism heal emotionally. Peter was a genuine, kind, light-hearted and jovial individual everyone liked.  I like to think that Peter rode the elevator to the top of the world that day, and stayed there.

Peter’s name on the North Tower memorial

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Kids and Families

A snapshot: Babies!

Where have I been since China? I’ve been surrounded by BABIES, lots of brand-new people blissfully unaware that they’ve just embarked on the exciting adventure of life. I spent some time up in New York photographing two newborns and their siblings, a now 10-month old Tater, and my favoritest little ones splashing away summer in a grand old inflatable swimming pool courtesy of their aunt (me). At the request of the two newborn parents I will not be posting their photos on this blog, but I couldn’t resist this one’s little tiny feet. Congrats to the parents! Stay tuned for more pictures of my summer!

 

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Places

Jiangnan

Boats, West Lake, Hangzhou

The Jiangnan region is a picturesque area outside Shanghai that includes the growing cities of Hangzhou, Wuxi, Suzhou and Nanjing. Hangzhou is famous for its beautiful West Lake, Nanjing for its rockwork, Suzhou for its gardens and canal system, and Wuxi for its fancy new Lingshan Buddhist Temple.

We toured through the region in a quick week, sampling a garden here, museum there, and many factories/ stores since, after all, our tour guide would receive commission for everything we bought. Nonetheless, it was cherry blossom season, and the pink flowers were in full bloom, the tea was fresh, and the weather was picture-perfect.

Sunset, West Lake Park, Hangzhou

Lake through trees, Hangzhou

Boating dock, West Lake, Hangzhou

Guardian dog-lions on a bridge, Hangzhou

Buddhist lanterns, Lingshan Buddhist Temple, Wuxi

Giant Buddha, Lingshan Buddhist Temple, Wuxi

Bells, Lingshan Buddhist Temple, Wuxi

Longjing Tea fields, outside Hangzhou

Sun-Yat Sen Memorial, Purple Mountains, Nanjing

Rock garden, Nanjing

Canal, Suzhou

Window in Liuyuan (Lingering Garden), Suzhou

Student drawing a rock garden in Liuyuan, Suzhou

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