Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Salem, Lexington, and Maine

(See previous blog entry for part I)
We were staying outside of Boston in Chelmsford, which meant I had to do some exploring in the areas outside the city. I was determined to hit Salem and see all the witchy witchery sice it was so close to Halloween.

I visited Minuteman National Park on an crisp, unbelievably clear fall day. After walking Battle Road for a bit and reading all of the placards along the way and imagining what it must have been like for this half-trained militia of farmers and back-country people to defend themselves against the redcoats... and walking down the path and seeing the site where Paul Revere was captured by the British... I looked up at the flag flying over the visitor's center and I can honestly say I have never felt more patriotic in my entire life. It definitely made me feel a deeper sense of appreciation for our founding fathers and those who put their lives on the line, literally on a daily basis, with the odds stacked against them... all for the opportunity to live free and lay the foundation for America's future.

Next was Salem-- I made a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in New Hampshire before making my way over to Salem (thank Heaven for our patient Bostonian friend Rick, who guided me via cell-phone to Salem). Upon arrival, I was ecstatic to see the cobblestone streets and witch and pirate souvenir shops, because after all, kitschy is cool! I made my way over to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial which was a lot cooler than I had expected. I guess I had somehow always tucked that whole time period away in my mind as a work of fiction, after reading "The Crucible" and watching silly movies about witches. I had forgotten, or not made the connection, that these women and men were literally killed by their society because they didn't fit the norm.

The memorial is very understated-- words of the accused (from their trials) on a concrete slab that "faded" into the dirt of a reflecting garden with tall shade trees... and along the walls of the garden are 19 benches, each with the name of someone executed during the Salem Witch Trials. Some names, like Giles Cory and Sarah Goode were recognizable. It was a very odd expereince, made you wonder what on earth could make a community turn against its citizens with such hate and paranoia that they felt hanging them or pressing them to death was a good idea. Later I toured the home of one of the judges of the trials... to think that his wife and children sat home spinning, sweing, and cooking while he condemned their neighbors to death? Eery. Especially since it is surrounded by Salem's burying ground with the Halloween-ish slate headstones and some old wooden buildings.

The last picture is an old house in Maine... it's not a significant house or anything, I just loved the tree in front of it and the blue sky. To this southerner, it was typical New England!


A couple of years back I had the opportunity to visit Boston, Massachusetts while my husband was there on business. We went up a few days early and made a wedding anniversary trip out of it since I'd always wanted to see a "real" autumn and hey... what can you say? We're history buffs. Once my husband took off to work, my mother flew up to join me, as she had never been to New England and really wanted to see the sights.

Boston is just teeming with historical places and as a city, was home to many of our nation's founders, figureheads and revolutionists. The Freedom Trail is a footpath through Boston, and you can take a self-guided tour of some neat places and really immerse yourself in the history. You're in walking the footsteps of Benjamin Franklin and Paul Revere and Samuel Adams and *ooh* the British soldiers. You're standing on the Boston Common where they had public hangings for witches, pirates, and heretics! Where Amelia Bloomer spoke out publicly against women having to wear skirts and dresses all the time... You're looking up at the very tower that our early revolutionists looked for the "One if by land, two if by sea!" beacon from Paul Revere on his midnight ride. You see the graves of people who came over to America on the Mayflower.

And oh, the graveyards with their gorgeous slate headstones with the ornate carvings... I could have milled around all day looking at the images and script carved into the headstones all those hundreds of years ago. I also could have spent my whole trip touring the old embellished churches. That is a whole other story!

ENJOY! Next I'll post more from the surrounding areas like Salem, Lexington/Concord, and Maine.

p.s. the pumpkin pics are from the Bostom Common, where they were trying to set a world record for most jack-o-lanterns lit at one time. They didn't set the record, but it was one heck of an attempt!

The first image in the bunch, a photo of the inside of Trinity Church, won me an award at the Texas City Art Show in 2006... I lovingly refer to it as my "award-winning" picture.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Ooooooh, flowers!

So I was rooting around in Mercer Arboretum one day before a bridal portrait session, wielding my macro lens (it's great for capturing tiny details), hoping to catch some pretty bugs and blooming flowers up-close and personal. Mercer didn't let me down! It had rained pretty hard earlier in the day, and the sky was blessing me with that not-too-bright light (photographer's dream!) that really allowed the vibrant colors to come through. Some of these images actually made their way into frames and are displayed throughout my home-- really interesting macro photography is one of my favorite hobbies. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do! For the entire Artistry of Nature collection, visit the gallery.

Chloe & Chris

So Chloe & Chris are getting married in August, and we decided that November would be perfect to shoot their engagement portraits since the weather would be so nice. They wanted an urban look to their portraits, and Chloe basically told me to be as artsy and creative as I wanted to be-- I looked for bright colors and interesting shapes. On our last stop of the shoot, Rice University, we happened upon an indoor art installation by Kirsten Hassenfeld called Dans la Lune, which gave us th most interesting shapes of all! The Rice Gallery docent graciously allowed me to photograph the couple amongst the giant-scale ornaments, and you will see one of the results below.

Friday, January 4, 2008

So I'm back from vacation...

Well, my husband, the kids and I took off for Walt Disney World on Christmas morning. The trip had been postponed several times, but finally we made our way there and had an absolutely wonderful time. After allll that anticipation, Disney lived up to our expectations!

I wanted it to truly be a vacation and be an enjoyable time for all of us, so I didn't drag any of my usual cameras and multiple lenses and tripods along to the theme parks... Besides, I'd never enjoy a roller coaster wondering if my camera and lens were safe and sound in the "cargo bag" of my coaster (have you SEEN those things? no way!). Everything here was shot hand-held with my trusty Sony Cybershot that my husband gave me as a Christmas gift four years ago-- and it still performs well after all the abuse and bottom-of-the-purse life it's lived.

What you'll see below are several of my favorite memories from Disney World's Magic Kingdom (Cinderella's Castle decked out in holiday lights!), Disney MGM Studios park (the crazy Main Street USA Christmas light spectacular), and our hotel staff-- who lovingly created a friend for my daughter's "Bunny", and tucked my son's Stitch and Stitch Jr. in with "Blankey" each time they made the beds (We can't say enough wonderful things about Disney's Contemporary Resort and the staff there, especially Kristin from Jupiter, FL who calmly and happily helped us out in a particularly difficult situation when we encountered a computer glitch with our reservations). That green thing is a Sea Monster made entirely of Lego's (Downtown Disney)! Last but not least... one picture from the Rocket Garden at Kennedy Space Center.