“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

henry's first foray into the studio

At three weeks old, as he and his mama were in town for the best friend's wedding, Henry came into my studio for the first time. He kind of loved the light, but was a bit startled by its flashing. It was a short foray, needless to say, since neither his mom nor his grandmother wanted to upset him. Here's what we made, though. Abbie, Henry and me. The first of hopefully many photo shoots together!







Tuesday, September 28, 2010

bring on the next generation!






My daughter's closest friends from high school were in town for a wedding this past weekend. Like Abbie, some of these women have started their own families now. It was fun to see them as parents, after knowing them for so many years and having watched them grow up. I was lucky to get some studio time with a couple of these wonderful young families. Here are Carlyle and Luella, the twin son and daughter of Katrina and TJ, and Claire, the daughter of Ashley and Colin.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

a poem for henry


Your mother can’t sleep because she stares at your face and kisses it too.

What’s curled up inside you?

A sweet vibrato,
A trip to the moon,
A wild pony ride?

I see pieces of my past in you:
Levi, Freda, Morris, Anita.

Your tiny fist holds their secrets and their longings,
Their struggles and their tears of joy.

Dark eyes darting, you’ll find your own way now
Using the maps they left behind
For clues.

Take me along.
The possibilities make my head spin
And the hope I feel seems endless.

That tiny fist uncurls into a hand
I plan to hold
Walking through gardens
And more.

Today is the fourth anniversary of my blog. Thank you for sticking with me all this time. You've just discovered something new about me: I am not quite a poet. Writing this blog has given me the courage to try a lot of different things. I trust myself here, mainly because you, my readers, seem to trust me too.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

leaving new orleans


Tomorrow my stay in New Orleans will end.

Living in Abbie, Sam and Henry’s house has been slightly different from living in my own.

For one thing, there is no TV. I haven’t missed it as much as I thought I would. Mostly when I’m preparing dinner and wondering what's on the evening news.

They don’t use paper napkins in this house, which is one thing I think I’ll start doing in my own home. Not only is it good for the environment, it reminds me of the way we did things when I was growing up. Everyone in my family had their own personal napkin ring so that we could tell whose napkin was whose.

This family owns only one car, which means frequent use of the streetcar, a bike or two strong legs for walking. They own no landline phone, which means no blaring disruptions during the day.

Organic food, cloth diapers, biodegradable cleaning products, guitar and piano playing, singing, composting, a sewing machine, repurposed clothing and furniture, lots of books and lots of quiet time for reading them…. that’s the home that has been mine for the past two weeks. Even though I’ve been busy cleaning and cooking, shopping and doing laundry, it’s really been a vacation of sorts.

The best parts of the day are talking with Abbie and getting to hold Henry. Yesterday, for the first time, Henry fell asleep on my chest as we were sitting next to Abbie at her computer. I guess I dozed off, too. It was so amazing to wake up and find this small, precious boy breathing lightly on my face, his arm resting on my neck.

It will be awhile before I get to savor something like that again. I think that’s what I’ll miss most.

(Thanks, Eddie, for taking the picture of Henry and me.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

voye'm

Voye'm (which is Haitian Creole for “send me”) is a blog written by Shanley Knox. It is her way of living out a dream that began after living in Haiti in the summer of 2007. Shanley tells “the stories of the people who need a difference to be made for them, and the stories of the people doing it.”

I am honored to be featured currently on Voye’m. Shanley asked some good questions for the interview. Please take a look. It’s possible you may learn some things about Change the Truth that you didn’t already know.

You can read the interview here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

change the truth

If you'd like to read about Melissa's experience as CTT's social worker at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage, you can do so by checking out her blog.

Some of my photographs from the "Dream Series" are featured in the current online issue of Ode Magazine. If you haven't already seen them, please check that out as well.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

partners in crime




Eddie and our dog Sam are with me in New Orleans. We have settled into a nice routine and rhythm here; we feel very much at home.

The highlight of our day is getting to hold and cuddle baby Henry. We could stare at him and feel his little body in our arms for hours. He’s very precious, and he smells really good, too.

We’ve been doing a lot of other things while here, though. The main ways we’re helping are related to food, laundry and household chores.

Cooking for our organic/vegetarian children has drawn us to preparing dinners like:

Bulgur veggie burgers with lime mayonnaise
Penne pasta with cherry tomatoes, feta and pesto sauce
Acorn squash stuffed with wild long grain rice
Rice pilaf with ginger glazed tofu and sesame seeds
Pasta shells with halibut and oven-roasted ratatouille

With desserts like:

Cinnamon cookies
Date bars
Iced sugar cookies

We’ve repaired the freezer and the front gate. We've mowed the grass and shopped for cloth diapers. We’ve washed a lot of dishes and done mounds of laundry and gone food shopping. (Whole Foods has become part of our daily regimen.)

It feels really good to be pitching in.

Abbie took exquisite care of herself while she was pregnant. She had a totally natural childbirth. She and Sam are committed to raising Henry in an eco-friendly, thoughtful, healthy and loving way. There is lots of music and reading already in his young life. The whole experience of being with them as they embark upon this journey has been very inspiring to Eddie and me. Henry won't remember this time, but we always will.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the good doctor

Henry had his first appointment with the pediatrician yesterday. He was pronounced a growing, healthy boy!



Monday, September 13, 2010

mama abbie


Henry has a wonderful mom. She's gentle and kind, nurturing and calm. OK, well, Abbie is my daughter, so I am slightly biased. But I've just been amazed at how easily she has taken on her new role as mother. And how good she is at it!

I just love watching her. She is so peaceful and content. She seems older and wiser already somehow. And there's a look in her eyes I've never seen before.

I feel really honored to be witnessing the beginnings of the special bond she's making with her brand new little boy.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

name correction and georgia


En route to New Orleans, Abbie and Sam called to tell us that the baby had been born and then later that he was given a name. I thought I heard Abbie say it was Henry Avram Brandao.

We have now learned that his middle name is actually Abram.

So... please meet:

HENRY ABRAM BRANDAO

Henry's cousin Georgia got to spend some time with the wee lad today. She was thrilled to have the baby splayed across her lap and didn't seem to mind the assist from her Uncle Sam.




But she was happiest when she got to hold Henry all on her own.

Friday, September 10, 2010

jack






Henry's cousin Jack is four years old. He and his mom came over today to put up some signs and balloons for Henry's homecoming. Then we all waited around for awhile for Henry to get sprung from the hospital.

A little later Henry came home!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

henry: one day old


Henry has had to spend his first two days in the NICU because he was breathing a little too fast and the doctors took great precaution and swept him away so that he could undergo some tests all of which so far have proved that he was fine to begin with he was just probably a little excited to be here and was simply breathing fast. We can only go in two at a time to hang out with him but we do get to hold him now and that is very cool. He has to stay in there until some cultures finish growing and the doc declares him perfectly healthy which means another day or two before I can get him alone for a real photo shoot! This one was done in his little plastic bassinet under the warming lights in the super sterile NICU, where he is being very well cared for I might add. His parents can't wait to get him out of there, though, and get him home where he belongs. Isn't he cute?



Tuesday, September 07, 2010

oh henry!

My first grandchild, Henry Avram Brandao, made his way into the world this morning at 7:45. He's 20 1/2 inches tall, weighs 8 pounds 1 ounce and is very sweet indeed! Pictures will follow, you can rest assured.

Monday, September 06, 2010

life cycle events

Life and death are events every culture honors in distinct and important ways. They are the two most sacred of all the life cycle events. And they bring families together.

Most of us are so afraid of death that we prefer not to speak of it, much less look at pictures associated with it. Birth, on the other hand, is quite a different story.

Happily, there will soon be pictures of a newborn baby on this blog, along with star struck little cousins, piles of diapers, soft chubby folds of skin and a couple of sleepy but happy parents.

Today, though, I wanted to share the pictures of my family when we were together for that other important life cycle event. These were made five years ago at the time my mother died.

Death and birth and death and birth. And family. That's what's on my mind this morning.



















Now, let's bring on this baby. My mother would have loved nothing more.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

the reluctant father






As I wait and wait and wait some more (Abbie is now eight days past her due date, my grandchild taking his/her own sweet time) I am finding all sorts of things to do to pass the time. Like look at Phil Toledano's latest project about his forray in fatherhood with baby Loulou. You've got to check out this series ("The Reluctant Father") at The Anthropologist. His writing, per usual, is as wonderful as his photographs.

(Dear son-in-law Sam: I know you are anything but reluctant about what is about to hit you, but I also feel quite sure you will love this series.)