Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Treasure from 1947

This fragile diary from 1947 was buried in my memorabilia box.

It belonged to my sister Jo Ann, who was 20 years older than I. When I was born, she was already out of the house and in the convent. I used to say I never knew her "as a real person." Indeed, these pages reveal the life of a Catholic thirteen year old girl in Detroit, Michigan:

John went to 8:15 mass with Irene and I. He sat right behind us. I wonder if he really likes me. I know he sort of likes Virginia who is a giant. But he still likes her. She's going to the convent. I don't know where I'm going anymore. Probably end up in hell. Pardon the expression.

She was a fragile person, both physically and emotionally. While she so desperately needed to be loved and appreciated, her personality made loving her and appreciating her very difficult much of the time. Because I didn't grow up with her in the house we had a safe relationship, one that consisted of letters and phone calls. We didn't have emotional buttons to push as with my other siblings and for that reason there were times she felt very close to me. This made me sad, because I had the benefit of intimacy and trust with family and friends that she would never allow.

In 2004, at the age of 70, she died of pancreatic cancer.

Now I've found this treasure. I want to set up a quiet time to light a candle, pull out some photos of her and read the diary with the sense of respect and honor her memory deserves.

Jo Ann in 8th grade:

Friday, September 11, 2009


My family is visiting over the weekend. Yesterday we played a game called "Chat Pack" which consists only of small cards, each with a question written on it. It's less a game, more a way to induce discussion. We took turns asking a question and each of us offered our answer and, as families often do, expounded enthusiastically. One of the questions was:

If you could wake up every morning, open your bedroom blinds, and look out a huge glass window at the perfect view, what would that view be?

My bed faces our backyard. When my eyes open I see the riches of whatever the season has to offer. For the past few months, with morning haze in my eyes, it is an abstract painting perhaps entitled "Variations on Green." I savor this lush scene, knowing that when I move to New Mexico this is not going to be the case.

When summer dissolves into autumn, I often witness a display of falling carroty leaves taking serendipitous turns before gingerly settling onto the ground.

And winter, my favorite season of all, turns the scene into white upon white upon white.

Anyway, my answer to the question is this: I love seeing whatever there is to see. When I travel it is someone's garden, a body of water, a car parked in the street or even a stark brick wall. It doesn't matter what it is, I'm so grateful to be alive, to take in what I observe and appreciate what life offers every single day.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hello, yellow!

When my shutter finger gets twitchy and I don't have anything in particular to shoot, it's productive to come up with a theme for myself. During the photo workshop that I taught in Tuscany in 2008, students found it helpful to have a theme to fall back on for their daily photo excursions. It helped them feel less overwhelmed and more focused, so to speak.

And honestly, it's just a whole lotta fun. Here are some ideas:

• Shoot one color or one shape
• Reflections
• Shadows
• Texture
• Grab three disparate things (piece of fruit, your toothbrush, a rusty nail?) and do a still life
• Think of a place that does not inspire you at all - a dying garden, the waiting room at your dentist's office, whatever - and go there to shoot a really beautiful abstract interpretation.
• Find one object and photograph it in a dozen different ways
• For a challenging ongoing project, shoot all the letters in the alphabet as long as it's not literally the letter. Some letters are much easier to find that others. (I personally have a plenty of the letter "M.") Reward yourself when you're done by publishing it with a book from

Here are some images from my "yellow" collection. Above, a scene in Acapulco.

This is a photo I like to call "Mona Saves" - to be found on the corner of Paseo de Peralto and Washington in Santa Fe:

Ubiquitous laundry, in Venice, Italy:

A little daisy pail in Madrid, New Mexico:

Rainbow near my house in Santa Fe:

Number 3, number 3, number 3...

Again I've broken the "don't shoot the mannequin" rule:

Escalator at Marshall Fields, Chicago (I refuse to call it Macy's):

Buddha statue in Myanmar:

Fireworks, Detroit:

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Playing with Food

Saturday morning, and what better thing to do than visit the Farmer's Market?

Upon entering the market, I was tempted by pies with gooey fruit that spilled over the edges. Next table had walnut filled kolaches, bringing back memories of my Slovak grandmother. Peaches, corn, cucumbers, herbs, raspberries...and flowers, and soaps...even spring rolls, and shrimp. A man said to his wife "It's too early to eat spring rolls" just as I was thinking "too bad I just had breakfast. Spring rolls would be perfect!"

After all was said and done, I behaved very well. Passed up the sweets, bought some peaches, and then found myself looking not for something to eat, but something to photograph.
"Thank you kind sir" I said to the elderly gentleman who sold me okra.
"How can I not buy that?" I said to the man with the mutant eggplant.

So now the only question is....anyone want some okra...?

Above, the mutant eggplant. Quack quack.

Kissing peaches:

Okra antennae:

Okra sundae with cherry (tomato) on top:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Don't Shoot the Mannequins!

When I first went to photography school back in the days of film, chemicals and light sensitive paper, there were some rules. For instance, in almost any class where we were given a shooting assignment, we were told not to photograph:

1. Mannequins
2. Barns
3. Bicycles

It might have been more interesting to be told that if we chose to photograph these ubiquitous subjects, do it in a way they have never been photographed before. Of course, that's an impossible task. But at least it would have encouraged us to consider more carefully how to approach a subject.

In this digital age it's far too easy to see something, think "wow, cool!" and fire off a shot before moving on to the next amazing thing. Snapping a photo can be more of a reflex than an intention. When I'm in that situation, overstimulated perhaps (as in India, almost every moment) it's important to take a breath and remember to be present. This is where my passion for photography intersects with my spirituality. Present moment, wonderful moment. I'm not always successful.

These mannequin's hands were in a window of a shop in the Indian neighborhood on Devon, in Chicago. As I raised my camera I could hear the cautionary voices of my previous teachers. Don't do it! But I did.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Making Art from a Mishap

When a woodchuck beheaded my St. Francis statue, I almost threw out the remains. As I was carrying the body to the trash, my eyes fell upon a newly acquired doll head that was perched on my kitchen shelf.

A body without a head, a head without a, there's a match made in heaven.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Two Janes, Two Canons, Millennium Park

It was so much fun to travel to Chicago by train with my friend Jane a couple weekends ago. Neither of us had much of an agenda; we were just two Janes with our Canons in the Windy City. It's a good thing Chicago is a walkable town, because I needed to pound the pavement after four and a half hours on the train. Just sitting is not my favorite thing to do.

Millennium Park is a treasure trove of photographic opportunities: Crown Fountain with it's video images of faces, reflective Cloud Gate which everyone prefers to call "the bean," Pritzker Pavilion, etc. The people who come to play here are as photo-worthy as the sculptures, fountains and architecture.

Above is a photo of one of the two fountains, with the Santa Fe Building looking a bit conspicuous (at least to me, no surprise!)

Here is part of the Chicago skyline reflected in Cloud Gate:

Three girls danced and danced and danced in the shallow pool:

One girl did a flip...

...and another danced as if no one was watching:

Friday, August 7, 2009

Into White

Cat Stevens wrote and sang the gentle Into White nearly forty years ago. While listening to it in a darkened room, as I was wont to do with his music doing nothing other than absorbing the sound, I felt as if I were swaddled in a cozy blanket. In 2006, Carly Simon recorded a version of the song, rendering it even more soothing. When she dips into the low notes, I'm transported back to that dark room with that comforting blanket, with the addition of being given a piece of dark chocolate dusted with gold.

On Chase Promenade South, in Millennium Park in Chicago, there is a curvy white structure. I walked into it and squinted my eyes, trying to see only shades of white rather than this curve, that curve, this side of the structure or the other. I walked into white.

Of all the photos I took in Chicago that weekend, these are my favorites.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Yesterday while driving to Mason, the quaint little county seat about ten miles south of where I live, I soaked up the agrarian landscape. Vast fields of swaying corn were interrupted by an occasional silo, farmhouse or barn. The sky was moody; the sun would shine brightly for awhile then hide behind clouds that warned of stormy weather.

And then I noticed this one, segregated tree. Athough alone, it didn't seem lonely. What an honored position to be in, I thought.

Perhaps I'll go back there often, at different times of day, various weather conditions and in each season to document this tree until I leave beautiful Michigan.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Musical Instruments: An Intimate View

When I was a little girl, my older brother Joe played jazz recordings for me and taught me how to identify each instrument by sound. Because of these basement lessons I learned how to distinguish an alto sax from a tenor sax, an oboe from a bassoon, brass from reeds, etc. Later, I played tenor saxophone in the Dominican High School (Detroit) band and orchestra. All of the musical instruments were visually intriguing. While we sat listening to our maestro, Larry Egan, talk about how he wanted us to interpret a piece or while he was guiding the mischievous and somewhat inept percussionist, I would look at the instruments around me; the sensual curves of the French horn, the playful slide of a trombone. Music still offers great joy and intrigue for me today not only aesthetically, but intellectually as well. PBS recently aired a compelling exposé entitled The Music Instinct/Science and Song which I highly recommend.

Until this year, it never occurred to me to combine my love of music with photography. Since I have a few friends in the instrument repair business, I decided to prevail upon them to loan me some of the junk pieces floating around their studios. Gary K. offered me some trombones, sousaphones and saxophones, and here are a few photos from today's shoot.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Looking for Decay

One year from now we'll be in the throes of moving from Michigan to New Mexico, a process that will take several months. With that in mind I'm treating this as my last "conscious" summer in Michigan. Once we put our Okemos house up for sale, half of my heart will have already left the Great Lakes State.

I try to imagine what I'll miss. Friends and family, obviously. But when I'm looking out at the Jemez, Sandia or Sangre de Cristo Mountains or enjoying the flora and fauna of high desert living including road runners and sage brush, what will suddenly come to mind that will put a lump in my throat?

When we are familiar with something, we tend to overlook it. This is a time for me not only to pay attention, but to savor deeply. So I've given myself an assignment for the next year, and that is to visit many of the small towns that surround our area and photograph them. I'm not interested in renovated train depots and spiffed up diners, I'm talking about small towns, ghost towns, decay. I want to see peeling walls and abandoned buildings. Rusty bicycles and broken signs. Tidiness is highly overrated.

Yesterday Dick accompanied me on my first excursion, to Lyons and Muir, north of Portland.

Above: The building that surrounded it is long gone, but at some point this tile flooring was not exposed to the elements.

Abandoned church "M. E. Church, 1881":

Use Other Door:

The tiny sign at the top right reads "I have found the perfect woman. I could want no more. She's deaf and dumb and oversexed..." I shudder to think of the last line.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Part Three: Meet Blueberry

At Review Santa Fe, Tony Bannon from the George Eastman House suggested I get "darker" with my doll photos. He thought maybe I should remove the dash of color in their faces. Maybe I should consider inflicting my own dark side by - oh, how shall I say it? - aggressively modifying their faces.

For this experiment I used a doll's head to which I never emotionally connected. It had never been loved. It may have been old but it was pristine, blank; it didn't belong to a body. It didn't have eyes.

Poor Blueberry. First, I smashed and burned her. Then I meticulously placed the fruit after which she was named onto strategic parts of her face and let them sit overnight. Finally I applied oil crayons as if I were a five year old trying to negotiate lipstick and eyeliner.

This was a fun exercise, but it didn't mean anything to me. Maybe I would do it again, but only if a doll's face strikes me as being more of a palette than a character, as Blueberry's did.

For the first photograph shown here I used the same technique as with the Spirits of the Secret Keepers but like many dolls before her, the process doesn't work at all. It is so ineffective, in fact, that I considered not posting it. Howevert, it's nice to illustrate how things work - or not - and to give the whole picture. The second photo is straight color, and the third is black and white.

Do you like her?
If so, do you like her in color or in black and white?
If you don't like her, why not?

What should I do with Blueberry now? Maybe I'll prop her up somewhere in my studio to remind me to challenge myself, not just in my art but in every aspect of my life. Thanks, Tony!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bali Workshop - Feb. 26–Mar. 5, 2010

Bali: Beyond the Snapshot

Are you ready to grab your camera and spend a week on the magical island of Bali? For our photo adventure we will settle in the small village of Amed on the east coast. This is real life in rural Bali, tiny settlements of poor but happy people who live off the land and sea. Every activity that the Balinese people engage in is infused with artistic expression, so inspiration will surround us every moment of the day.

As a group we will have the opportunity to see and photograph verdant rice paddies, enchanted temples, bustling markets. There is also plenty to discover just a few steps from our villas. On one of my walks I observed a family going about their chores outside their bamboo hut. The smiling mother welcomed me in, excited to show off her tiny, windowless, dirt-floor kitchen. This kind of experience is our reward for staying off the beaten path.

The week is tailored to every level of expertise. We will have discussions on how to take better photos, and demonstrations of how to process the photos in Photoshop. There are group activities and plenty of opportunity to venture out on your own.

You'll return home knowing how to elevate your pictures to fine art status. Your portfolios - as well as your mind and your heart - will be filled with colorful impressions of this magnificent place.

To whet your appetite, here are a few of the places we'll see:

• The market at Amlapura is where the locals go for food and clothing. You can shop for exotic fruit, grains, sarong material, temple decorations, even fish heads. It's an intense experience for sure, and for those who can't stand the heat (literally) there is plenty of action on the street as well.

• Lush Tirtaganga Water Palace. Such a treasure trove of photo opportunities here, in addition to simply being a very refreshing place to spend some time. There is a tiny little village nearby also worthy of photographing.

• The Temple of A Thousand Steps. Because it is such a strenuous climb, we won't be negotiating the thousand steps, but the temple at it's base is beautiful. On a clear day, you can see across the valley to the commanding volcanoes hovering over the land.

• My personal favorite: On one evening, we'll be driven up a hill and then have a leisurely walk down. There are incredible views of rice terraces, more quaint settlements (look closely or you'll miss them!) and lots of curious villagers who are happy to pose.

Arcangelo Productions is hosting this workshop, and we will stay at their incomparable Apa Kabar villas. Although this information will not be posted to their website for another few weeks, you can contact them directly to register for the workshop and to take a peek at the villas. The cost of the workshop is $2750 and includes accommodations, food and the workshop fees. It does not cover the cost of your flight to Indonesia.

If you have any questions by all means ask me!

This was taken on the walk down the hill:

Just outside the gates of our villas I saw this fisherboy:

Rice paddies up the hill:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

How Did I Get Here? (Part Two: If I Had a Hammer)

Tony Bannon of George Eastman House challenged me to dig deeper into my dark side with the Spirits of the Secret Keepers series. He suggested I inflict damage on the dolls, and although that defeats the purpose of the series, or at least how I've thought of the series, I decided to give it a try.

The bin of yet-to-be-photographed doll heads is in my studio. They are all looking at me expectantly. Is it my turn yet? Try as I might, I cannot view them as inanimate objects but rather as personalities with various levels of worthiness. Usually some are more worthy than others of being photographed but now I'm having to decide: who is worthy of being abused? With hammer in hand, here I am choosing whose head to smash and it feels really unnatural.

Get over it and choose you big wuss!

Ah, there's a candidate.

The head is placed between a folded towel on the coffee table in my living room. This is a safer way to hammer, right? Don't want any pieces of her skull flying around the room and putting someone's eye out. (Plus, I won't be able to see her face as I strike.) I'm wanting to feel angry about something but can't conjure anything. I turn on the television thinking that some Law & Order or Cops episode will put me in the mood and Farrah's Story is about to start. As a cancer survivor, perhaps I can get pissed off that I got cancer and had to endure chemotherapy. But I was never pissed off in the first place, just frightened. Besides, that was nineteen years ago and I'm a survivor, how angry can I be? Still, watching the needle go into her arm reminds me of how sick I felt whenever the chemo drugs flowed into my veins and I use this as an excuse to smash the doll.

Boy, what a wimp. I'm hitting her but she's not breaking. Peeking into the towel I see her cheerful little smile and the glint in her eyes. It takes several times, but the only thing that breaks is the back of her head, and her eyes fall out. That's it. I'm done. If I were living a Twilight Zone episode her smile would have turned into a frown and she would have been whimpering "Mama, mamaaaaaaaaa."

A couple of days later I catch a glimpse of a recent Ebay purchase. What was I thinking? It's one of those porcelain bisque doll heads that looks fresh out of the factory. She never had a body, if indeed it's even a she, and was surely never loved. I hate it.

A towel isn't necessary here, I just smash her head for instant success. Big pieces of her skull break off and I get slightly giddy. The flicker of a candle catches my eye so I hold her face down over the flame. A steel brush, some blueberries thawing in a bowl, a red crayon...time to get painterly! (Still undecided how I feel about that word.)

My fascination with the dolls I choose to photograph has as much to do with the mystery behind them as the way they look. Momentary giddiness aside, nothing felt particularly satisfying about altering them for photographic purposes. There are no kept secrets here; I know a blueberry stain when I see one. That being said, I love Michael DeMeng's approach to altering dolls for assemblages, and I do have some dolls set aside for that purpose. What's the difference? Still pondering that question.

Blueberry (this is what I've nicknamed the porcelain doll) is still "cooking." When she's done I'll photograph her as I've done the others, turning her head this way and that, chin up, chin down, from above and from below, and see if she holds a candle to my other pieces, if you catch my drift.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How Did I Get Here? (Part One, Let's Get Dark)

The Secret Keepers series of old, decaying dolls comes in a couple of different flavors. The first is the color series; what you see is what you get.

The second is entitled Spirits of the Secret Keepers because they are more haunting in black and white and with a solarization effect. (I've removed the color version from my website, at least for awhile.)

When the Spirits portfolio was reviewed by Tony Brannon of George Eastman House (the world's preeminent museum of photography) at the Review Santa Fe event, he didn't think they were dark enough. He wasn't referring to how they are printed, he meant I didn't dig deep enough to the dark side. That surprised me. Considering how many people can't even bear to look at them, how much darker can they be?

A lot darker, apparently, according to Tony who was obviously projecting his own shadows. "Of course, then...." He flipped over the image of Miguel, one of the scariest of the bunch to reveal the next print, Jacob, who is even scarier. "...then...they wouldn't be very sellable." Believe me, they're not moving like hotcakes as it is.

"Do you do this to them?" he asked, wondering if I am responsible for the cracks and splits, stains, etc. on the dolls. "No" I said, and explained that the point of the series is to find those that have aged naturally, or damaged by the previous owner from too much loving and handling or from lack of love, even abuse. Hence the name. They keep secrets (how did they come to look like this?) and I think they are provocative.

But Tony thought I should damage them, break them, smash them, inflict my own dark side onto these little non-humans. "I don't think I'm angry enough" I mumbled but realized that I should consider doing what he said.

As with all of the suggestions I received from reviewers at RSF, I thought it through and in this case decided to give it a try. Off I went to find a doll not yet photographed. Am I to smash her face? Burn it? Stain it or...?

Part two of this entry, detailing the results of my experiment, will appear in a few days. In the meantime, here is the newest "Spirit" photograph. Her name is Lakshmi, found in the dirt in Pushkar, India.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Finding Inspiration in the "Mundane"

Self Portrait with Teapot

There is never "nothing to shoot." Even when we are in our most familiar surroundings, it is possible to see with a fresh eye. This is particularly difficult for me. I'm just not inspired to shoot around the house or yard or even the town where I live and that's a shame. It's only mundane because I make it so. It's up to each of us to recognize the extraordinary in what is familiar. If we don't see it, we're not trying hard enough.

Scott Kelby has put a spark in my butt by instituting The Second Annual Worldwide Photo Walk which will occur on Saturday, July 18.

Kelby, who has authored many books about Photoshop, Lightroom and digital photography in general, invites people all over the world to go out and shoot in their hometown. Each city has a leader who designates an area to shoot and the two hour time slot. Since I participated in the Lansing shoot last year, I am opting for East Lansing and am looking forward to walking around a familiar neighborhood from 5pm-7pm with the sole purpose of exercising my imagination. Afterward, participants will gather at a local watering hole and look at the results. After we upload selected images to a website, the leader chooses what he or she deems to be the best shot and sends it to Scott who, in turn, chooses the best of the bunch. Prizes are involved, but mostly it's a way for photographers in any given area to get together, shoot and socialize.

You certainly don't need to be a great photographer to do this. If you're intrigued by the idea then by all means, do it! At the very least it's a fun and productive way to spend a couple of hours.

These two images are from last year's Photo Walk. Both are taken looking into a shop window in Old Town, a burgeoning neighborhood in Lansing, Michigan.

Plant in the Window

Monday, June 22, 2009

Barf Bag Story

"Everything is amazing right now and nobody's happy."

Louis CK made this statement on the Conan O'Brien show in an insightful monologue about what a bunch of whiners we have become as technology makes everything too easy. We want what we want when we want it - usually instantly. He uses air travel as an analogy for how freakishly amazing life is and yet we still complain. Well worth watching the clip.

I love to fly. It is still amazing to me what we can do while we're several miles above the planet earth. We can eat a meal, go to the bathroom, write a short story, catalog shop, sleep or even make a friend.

Still, there are some preparations I must make to ensure that all goes well.

After experiencing severe vertigo a few times, I make it a point to take Antivert and ginger. And even though I've never actually thrown up on a plane, it is imperative to have an "air sickness bag" handy. As soon as I stash my overloaded knapsack under the seat, I check to see if the bag is there, tucked neatly in between the instructions on what to do in case of a water landing and the magazine that tells me where to shop and eat if I only have three days in Kuala Lumpur.

On my way from Alburquerque to Minneapolis on Saturday, I was fortunate to be upgraded to first class. The knapsack wasn't such a squeeze, I had a blanket and a pillow, lots of room to slump and....wait, what's this? "air sickness bag"?!?!? Does this mean....uh-oh...I look around my ample seat for unsightly stains and sniff the air for any hint of what the previous occupant of 3A might have done. But it's clean.

OK, now I panic. I don't want to call attention to myself, so I wait until most of the passengers have boarded then casually stroll to the front and whisper "Hello, I'm in 3A. I don't have an 'air sickness bag' and although I feel fine, I would just really like it if there were one handy."
The airline attendant looks concerned. "Every seat needs an 'air sickness bag.' I will be sure to find you one."

I return to my seat and watch as she looks through all the tiny little cupboards, making sure each one is slammed shut. A few more people were boarding and she walked among them, her hands down by her side because, I was sure of it, she was trying to be discreet about my request. She came closer and I could see that her hands were empty. As she reached my seat she said very loudly "I don't have any air sickness bags in the front so I'll go get one from an unoccupied seat."

3 B and C look over at me and lo and behold I recognize them from Lansing! The people in front of her look at me and nod sympathetically because they think I'm feeling queasy. For some reason all of this matters very much to me and I reply "I'm fine, really, I'm fine" but then make the "shhhhh" gesture to indicate I'd really like it if she didn't make a big deal out of this. Which is interesting considering who is making a big deal out of this.

When the attendant returned a few moments later, she held out the "air sickness bag" like a prize then ceremoniously placed it in my seat pocket. My acquaintances across the aisle looked at me and ask if I'm really OK.

YES, I'M FINE, I'm just being FINICKY about wanting a FRIGGING BARF BAG.

The flight was smooth and uneventful other than I was served a delicious (really!) Greek pasta salad, bread sticks and a chocolate cookie. Six miles above the planet earth.

If the next passenger sits there, he or she will check the pocket and find that, alas, there is no "air sickness bag." Why? Because I purloined it. And here is a photograph of said pilfered item. I just can't help myself.

This begs the question, what happened to the one that wasn't there?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Memories of My Dad, Victor Fabian

In early February, 1999, my dad was dying. We didn't know if he would die sooner or later and I asked him if he thought he'd live to see the year 2000. "I don't know" he said, and his eyes looked off into the future for a moment before adding "That would really be something, wouldn't it?" He died two weeks later on February 15.

Victor Fabian was born in 1909 in the coal mining town of Barnesboro, Pennsylvania. His father, Matthew, was a coal miner who died in the mines when Victor was a young teenager. He quit school to help support his struggling family. Eventually he got his high school diploma but college was not in his future. He met a nurse who stole his heart - my mother, Grace - from the nearby town of Carrolltown and they were married in 1930.

Dad had always worked hard and wasn't afraid of a challenge. He moved his young family from Pennsylvania to Detroit, Michigan where there was promise of jobs in the auto industry. While working he studied a new technology, air conditioning, and eventually started his own business called Square Deal Heating and Cooling ("Let us control your temper - ature."). For many years he was a successful business man and was able to retire comfortably. Good thing, because he and Grace needed to support their eight children!

What I remember most about my dad is that he balanced his love of and commitment to his company with his undying love and dedication to his family. In the evenings I would help him with his work by sharpening pencils. After his golf game on Sunday, he would take me to the playground, the one with the "wiggly waggly sliding board." I remember him planting flowers in our yard in the spring, and shoveling snow in the winter. He was hard-working and a tad strict, but he often had a sparkle in his eyes, a song in his throat and an occasional dance in his feet.

There are so many precious memories of my dad. As I write this, though, one in particular comes to mind. When I was very young, I'd cuddle in his lap before going to bed and pretend to fall asleep so that he'd have to carry me upstairs to bed. And he did just that, while softly singing lullabies to me. He later told me that he knew I was pretending but was happy to play along.

Even after all these years, my eyes fill up when I think of how tender he was, how passionate he was in all aspects of his life and how absolutely devoted he was to our family.

He was never too self conscious of his aging process to discourage me from taking photos of him. Posing for me was such a great gift. I'm so proud to call this man my daddy; my heart is bursting.

Happy Father's Day!