there's a buzz in the air...

There's a hot~smokin' new buzz happening here in the backrooms of ticdesign. Watch for full details in the coming weeks, with the official launch of the new website and a HUGE announcement coming in Janaury!!!


Put it in your pocket for later...

some fun!!!

Stumbled across a couple of places you might want to visit today whilst proscrastinating that report that was due last week, or avoiding tackling whatever it is that oozed out from under your fridge this morning...

Kevin Spacey ***UPDATED with PICTURES***

~L wants to know... "What is it about kevin spacey that truely intrigues you, or just makes you the fan you are?"

Well, ~L, if you really must know, the truth is, I really don't know. He's not really what I'd call 'good looking' and his voice is kind of nasally and he has an atrocious heairline and a hairy manbelly. One would suppose those things would make him somewhat unattractive.

He's an extremely talented actor. He picks great roles. He's diverse. He's mysterious. He's bright, well spoken, and very funny. He's cheeky. These intangible things combine to give him some kind of sex appeal. It's not like I look at him and say wow, he's hot, I want to marry him. It's more of an admiration and respect for him, in the way he conducts himself professionally.

Now my other friend Lynda, SHE has the hots for Jeff Goldblum, totally head over heels gaga for the weird looking gangly bug-eyed manorexic dude, and THAT is just plain weird.

Laura made this special collage for me. I wanted to share it with all of you. (I have to be honest - I'm a little upset that Jeff takes up more space on the page than Kevin, though.)

(I have to be honest - I'm a little upset that there's a nekkid Little Mermaid shot of Jeff on the page.)

"Where do you draw the line with your clients?"

A photographer friend of mine just came upon a very common situation. Here's an example: You are doing pictures for the Smith Family. The Smith Family has already been quoted at your standard price. However, the neighbour kid, the cousin, the best friend, the great grandparents would also like a couple of pictures taken, not a full session, just maybe one or two... How do you know where to draw the line?

This situation is sometimes very easy to sort out, but can become very sticky and problematic especially when you aren't prepared for the extra people who show up.

Let's assume you have your family session listed at $100, and the client gets about 20 images, making each image worth about $5. So long as you make it clear that a 'family' session is restricted to immediate family only, and that the package is restricted to 20 images, then when they want to add the grandparents or little cousin Jonny, you can say, "I would be happy to do that, and the additional cost will be $10."

Now, let's assume that Cousin Jonny's mommy is there and says, "Well, since we're here, would you mind doing one of just me and Jonny?" If you have already had the opportunity to establish that extra pictures are going to cost extra money, then it's very easy to say, "Well, sure, I'd be happy to take a picture of just you and Jonny, for $10." Precedent has been set, and the expectations of what you will and won't include are very clear. If you make this clear in your advertising or price list, or if have the opportunity to discuss this ahead of the session, there are way fewer problems. But... (there's always a but...)

Let's assume that you get to your session and SURPRISE! Little Jonny is already there, in his suit, with his hair combed, with his Mom, and they want some pictures, too! Obviously, you haven't had an opportunity to discuss the issue of additional charges at that point. Even if you have it abundantly clear that your session is restricted to nuclear family, there are always those who will try. And as a rule, the client will not offer extra money. At that point, there are three options.

#1.) Ask for the money. It can then become very awkward for you, the photographer, to suddenly say, "Sure - that'll be an extra $10 per pose!" since when you ask for extra money, it isn't always well-received. Often they are quite happy to pay the extra bit, but just as often they will try and get out of paying. Sometimes they will act taken aback, play dumb, or be very nice. "Oh - we had no idea it would cost extra. But you're already here, so - would you mind? Please?" Sometimes the surprise client will say, "Oh, well, never mind..." and act very hurt or indignant that you would have the audacity to even consider demanding more money. I've figured out this is an attempt to guilt you into doing the extra pictures for free. And on (thankfully) very rare occasions, they will be come outright rude. "You've already been paid - what's the big deal? It's his COUSIN, for God's sake..."

#2.) Go ahead and take the pictures, for free. They will love you and refer you to all their friends and family. If you're having a slow week, or really enjoy the clients, you may just feel like being generous that day. You may not feel like fighting that day. Whatever the case may be, at your discretion, you are always welcome to give extra to your customers. Just beware: if you give it away for free too often, it becomes expected, which in turn makes it increasingly difficult to say no or ask for extra money down the road. Give it away for free sparingly.

#3.) This is often the most diplomatic and simple solution, and though you may have to answer a few questions after the fact, people are usually pretty understanding. If you refer to the previous posting, I go into more detail about how the pictures are exponentially reduced by the number of participants in the session. If you have a family of four, and they add a person to the session and you arne't in the mood to discuss price, what you can do is take fewer pictures of the other clients to accomodate for the new person. So a group of four would have had 5 pictures of each person; a group of five will now get 4 pictures of each person. The client may ask why there are fewer pictures - this is when you explain that they were only signed up for a total of 20 pictures.

By far the easiest way to avoid this situation is to have the issue of price crystal clear and out of the way BEFORE the session.

my sweet Isaac!!!

This was one of THE hardest shoots ever... picking JUST FORTY has proven *quite* the challenge. Mom, Dad - he is absolutely gorgeous. I'm so anxious to meet his little brother or sister, and SO pumped about grad next year! Thanks for a great session!

from the book of Tyler

Everyone say hello to Tyler. Tyler has not only revealed to me that a) it's enviable that he gets to take pictures from the cockpit of whatever zoom-zoom he's flying and b) he's not ~exactly~ the arrogant meanie I thought he was (though he did chastise me for not sewing my kids' Halloween Costumes and threatened to disown me if they came from WalMart) but he's a pretty keen writer, too.

Apparently, a couple of weeks after I wrote up the story of my really sad party experience, Tyler was passing through town and decided to go check out the junior high and high schools he went to, something I have decided I am WAY not brave enough to do (yet?) Tyler - thank you for letting me excerpt this.


Now I totally agree with you, Jr. High is a really tough age. Kids can be really really mean there. Everything "important" at that point is SO new and the hormones are exploding... makes for a few crazy years.

So I'm walking slowly through the school, marveling at how small everything looks. Our class photo from 1986-87 is still up on the wall! 20 years? Holy crap. Then the bell rings and I just kinda stand to one side and watch the kids for the next 10 minutes.

As all these kids go parading by on thier way to LA or gym or band, in groups or in pairs or alone, eyes glowing with excitement or laughter, or distant in pain or even scared. Watching them I could remember (like REALLY remember) being each and every one of them while there in that school. Two boys tearing down the hallways at a flat out run, dodging the other kids hollering and laughing at each other... yup, there's D and I. One girl walking alone, staring at her feet and you can almost feel her discomfort in her own skin... yup, been there too.

I wouldn't want to do it over again, but I think there were more good times then bad. At least that's how I remember it. And what I remember is how intense EVERYTHING felt. Both the joy and the pain. I hope you remember some intense joy from those years along with the hell.

What I am discovering is that the hell kind of eclipsed the heavenly bits. The deeper I dig and the more skeletons I confront, little glimmering bits are catching my attention: going on a band trip in grade 8 and sneaking into one of the boys' rooms to eat pizza and watch movies; sitting at a friend's house getting ready to go bowling while she burped the alphabet and rumbled farts agaisnt the tub and then getting kicked out for overhand bowling; sneaking into the Bronx and having to walk home in sock feet because I lost my Fluevogs in the mosh pit; camping out at HUB to buy Depeche Mode tickets, then driving to Calgary and laughing so hard at the snoring auntie that one of the girls peed on the carpet; watching INXS videos over and over and over again during lunch hour...

There aren't as many as I might wish for, but those happy memories are getting polished to a brilliant shine. And I'm loving every minute of it. Sage words, Tyler. Writers' block, schmiters' block - I still think this might be your next career...

another page from the chapter of 'stupidity'

So as I'm meandering around memory lane here, I'll share a sparkling moment of classic Hope s-fer-mart smartness. This particular flashback was inspired by the department supervisor, who is going in for knee surgery tomorrow. She is supposed to be off for 6 weeks. As we're sitting in our meeting going over what everyone is occupied with and might need help with, or be available to offer help with, she says, "Well, I should be back by then..." Then is a date just 3 weeks post-surgery. All of us in unison blurt out: Don't. Be. Stupid.

Ahem. I may as well have said, "Hi, kettle. I'm the pot." If you have a queasy stomach, may I redirect your attention to the posting entitled 'get fit for Jesus.' Ahem ahem.


It was a Saturday afternoon, just 2 weeks until Christmas break, and I was bumming around doing what all normal 10 year old girls do on a Saturday afternoon: sitting on the brown low-pile carpeting with the silver flecking, watching cartoons while cutting up old blankets and hand-sewing wee little doll clothes for the wee little dolls I had made from the blankets I had cut up the previous weekend. When nature called, I absentmindedly stuck the needle in the carpet for safe keeping, right next to my project. Upon returning, unable to see the needle amoungst the silver flecking, I began crawling around on my hands and knees to look for it. I heard the needle crack, and there, under my knee, was half the needle. Try as I might, I could not for the life of me find the other half of the needle. Oh, well - grab another one, and finish sewing.

I was really excited when I finished my little project, and ran across the street to the craft store, where I had developed quite a lovely friendship with the elderly lady who owned the shop. As I walked across the street, my knee felt a little achy. While the shop owner inspected my handiwork, I lifted up my pant leg and inspected my knee and noticed a small red pin prick, right about where I felt the crunch of the needle. "What happened there, dear?" the lady asked. My first response was, "I think there's half a needle stuck in my knee!" She raised her eyebrows at me, and I told her about the missing needle. After a few minutes, she had convinced herself that it was just a prick, and that nothing had gone into my knee. I, however, was NOT. I had spent at LEAST half an hour looking for that needle, because if my mother or sister were to find it by stepping on it, I knew I'd hear about it (again.) So when the Orange Fairy got home, I showed her my knee, and told her what I thought had happened. "I don't think so, Hope. Go to bed." And I did.

The days went by, and my knee ached more and more, long after the little red speck had disappeared, but the story was too unlikely. No one could believe such a thing was possible. In fact, because my sister had had growing pains in her knees, the Orange Fairy thought maybe I was just complaining to get attention. When my knee showed signs of swelling while I was visiting with my step-mom and Dad a couple of weeks later, I tried my theory out on them, to no avail. My step-mom spent the better part of Friday night and Saturday afternoon helping me sew a red-headed Cabbage Patch doll kit I had bought from the craft store. She had red hair and blue eyes, and we sewed her a pair of jeans (I embroidered on the pocket) and two sweat suits and a red flowered dress and a pale pink flowered dress. I couldn't have been prouder of myself!

It was the last weekend before Christmas, and so on the Saturday night, as always, there was the annual Christmas Concert at the church. My step-mom, step-aunt, and Dad always performed, and we always really looked forward to the fun, goofy show the Sunday school kids would put on. As we sat there watching, my knee began to throb and I could no longer stand the pain. I began to cry, right in the middle of the show. I began with quiet little tears, and tried my best to not interrupt. Two weeks of being in pain and being told I wasn't in pain finally caught up with me, and I wailed. Loudly. The WHOLE church noticed. I was so embarrassed - I remember my cheeks flushing, and trying unsuccessfully to get up and run outside so I wouldn't wreck the show. I couldn't even stand and fell over backwards into the pew. The WHOLE church noticed.

My Dad tried to have a look at my knee, but it had swollen so much we couldn't get the cuff up high enough to see. It felt hot, burning hot to the touch, right through my pants, and when someone laid their hands on it, it felt like fire. I wailed louder. The WHOLE church by now was standing, many of them hovering in circle around me in the middle of the building, swaying, speaking in tongues, eyes closed, faces up, palms towards the sky. The Pastor had broken out in loud prayer, his booming voice resonating above the woeful pleas of the forest of people around me. "Oh, Jesus - bring down upon this child your healing powers, so that she no longer has pain! Oh, Lord Jesus, we praise you and we thank you for coming here tonight, in this, our hour of need..." I distinctly remember thinking several thoughts as the tears streamed down my cheeks for what seemed like hours: this isn't helping, please stop touching my knee, you people are hurting and scaring me, can we PLEASE just go to the doctor now?

I was carried out into the crisp night air, plopped into the back of the station wagon with my leg stretched out across the seat, and driven back to my Mom's house. I hadn't stopped crying at all and it felt like my knee was going to rip the seams open on my pant leg. The Orange Fairy called a taxi, and off to the hospital we went. I had a healthy dislike for the hospital by this time - I'd had several surgeries on my ears already, so going into the hospital meant being put under, and waking up sick and dizzy and disoriented. I wanted to go to the Medi-Centre, with the nice lady there who never stuck needles in me and just gave me cherry-flavoured prescriptions for my ear infections. But nope - straight into the hospital we went.

Most of the events after we arrived at the hospital are a haze - I'd developed a full body fever by then, and imagine I was in shock, too. I woke up in a soft leg cast that went from thigh to ankle. Four hours of laparoscopic surgery were required to dislodge the needle from under my kneecap, where it had been ground in and effectively embedded into the back of my kneecap. Cartilage had begun to grow up around it, making it impossible for them to get it all in one piece - three separate cuts, to take it out in three separate pieces, with a cut for the camera next to each of them, for a nice total of six scars in a semi-circle around my kneecap. I had a very serious blood infection, and the bone in my right shin had begun to eat itself away.

The little girl in the bed across from me was a young native girl whose 18-year-old brother had shot her in the eye with a BB gun, on purpose. Her whole right eye was red and there was a stitch on the surface of her eyeball. But she could walk. I, on the other hand, was supposed to wait for wheelchair assistance to get up out of bed and go to the bathroom, the common room, the kitchen... I was allowed to sit and watch TV or play cards, with my leg elevated, but no foosball or air hockey or wandering up through the smoking hallway to the maternity ward to ogle the babies. I made friends with another boy who was in traction, his leg suspended high in the air by the contraption on the bed where he was forced to poop in a diaper. I felt really sorry for him, and would always sneak off to the kitchen to steal the chocolate sandwich Peak Frean cookies for us. When I got caught, they would tell me to stay off my leg, and I'd agree, but I never did.

The morning of my 11th birthday, 4 days into my little hospital vacation, I had disobeyed doctor's orders enough that I'd managed to earn myself a second round of surgery to flush out the site - totally avoidable had I kept it elevated so it could drain properly. I stayed off it after that, even on Christmas day when my Mom and aunts and my uncle and my sister and my step-mom and my dad came to visit. I got a brown-haired brown-eyed Cabbage Patch kid named Brooke. The little native girl across from me never had any visitors - she was sitting alone on Christmas morning, so I gave her my homemade red-headed Cabbage Patch Kid. I got out just before New Year's Eve, 10 days after being admitted.

There was still a week of Christmas break for me to recover, and so I settled in on the brown velvet couch to watch TV and heal. But I was anxious to get up, to go, to see people and do things. Twice I snuck over to visit the lady at the craft store, who stared at me in disbelief when I told her where I had been. She asked how my Cabbage Patch Kid turned out, and why I hadn't brought it to show her. I explained to her about the little native girl with the red eye from her brother shooting her with a BB, who stayed in almost as long as I did because no one picked her up so she went home with some new foster parents. She offered me a new kit, so I could make another one, but I had Brooke so I didn't need one. Besides, I wasn't much in the mood for sewing just yet...

I also wasn't in the mood for taking the horse pills for my blood infection. Enormous white lozenges the size of my Dad's thumb, 4 times a day. I skipped the ones I could, which was especially easy when I started back to school. Along with not being in the mood for sewing, or taking those pills, I wasn't in the mood for being stuck on the school bus, sitting in for recess and catching up on missed homework, spending lunchtime sitting on the bench by the front doors, or using the crutches that hurt my armpits. Certainly not for 6 weeks.

Rotten Breath Boy - he was a weasly little strawberry blond with too many freckles, a violent streak, and halitosis that carried the stench of sauerkraut and hot dogs. I had a thin soft cast that went from just above to just below my knee, but it didn't hurt to put weight on the leg. I had long since stopped using the crutches at home when no one was looking, and would often venture across the street without them to visit my friend at the craft store. Then one day, nature called just as the bell went. I waited until everyone left so I could sneak over to the bathroom without the crutches. Rotten Breath Boy had forgotten something, and busted me hobbling in sans crutches, after which he promptly ran outside to tell everyone I was a faker. I followed him out and tried to explain that yes, I had to be on crutches for 6 weeks, and that even though my knee didn't hurt I still wasn't allowed to walk on it. I pleaded a case for my sore armpits to excuse my sneaking into the bathroom, at which point Rotten Breath Boy yelled, "Faker!" and squarely planted a kick right on my knee.

By the time my Mom got home from work, I was limping. My knee felt hot and sore. Unfortunately, we had a 4-week outpatient check-up at the hospital the next day. The swelling (surprisingly) hadn't gone down by the next morning, and I guess all those pills I had skipped set back my recovery a bit, so I was feverish again. Instead of flushing the knee, they figured they'd drain it. This involved several very long thin freezing needles stabbed progressively deeper under my kneecap and into the joint, and one HUGE FAT NASTY needle about the diameter of a penny nail and about as long as your pointer finger being used to suck out about half a cup of nasty green pus. I screamed. The WHOLE hospital noticed. I left with orders for 6 more weeks of horse pills, on crutches.


I'd like to say I've improved with age, but that would be an outright lie. Both my father and I were of the mind that until we were bleeding to death, or at least ill enough to mimic bleeding to death, there was no need to get anything checked out. And recovery time, was wasted time. Why would I sit in bed doing nothing if I felt at least sort of OK? I had mammoplasty on a Friday night. Six weeks off equated to me being back at work the following Tuesday morning, a little nauseous, a little sore, but ready to go. I was home under 9 hours after having Wil, 8 with Kaelan, and suffered through 15 grueling hours in the hospital after Serejane was born because I haemorrhaged. I got my gall bladder yanked on a Friday morning, and had my dayhome kids back on the Monday morning.

My father was born with a hole in his heart, had high blood pressure, had suffered 3 heart attacks, had a couple of open heart surgeries, and a couple surgeries to remove foreign growths from his intestines and stomach. He retired in April of 2006, and he and my step-mom, after spending 24 years living in the downstairs suite and caring for my step-mom's mother, were in the process of realizing a dream: moving into their first home. They took possession on August 1st, moved in on August 2nd, and were returning the moving van on August 3rd when my father slumped over the wheel of the truck, dead from a massive fatal heart attack. He had complained to my step-mom earlier that day that he was feeling weak and a bit sick. He had wanted to take a nap, but they figured they should just get the rental truck dropped off and they could go settle in, take their time unpacking.

He should have asked me and my husband for help moving in. After 3 heart attacks, he should have recognized the signs of the heart attack. He should not have played them down as 'feeling a bit like having a nap' to his wife. If nothing else, my father's death has taught me that I MUST listen to my body, and I MUST listen to my doctors. My Daddy's stupidity has shown me my own, and THIS is why I'm taking the steps needed to find out what the heck is going on with my crippling ovarian pains. And if they yank my ovaries, I'll shave in bed. For 6 weeks.

Sally, if you read this, SIX WEEKS. STAY HOME.

"How come I only have 40 pictures - I swear you took more!"

I often have clients asking, "Why it is that I only get a portion rather than all of the images from our photo shoot?" I also get asked why some sessions have several images of each person or group, and others not as many. Though each photographer takes their own approach, here are the factors that come into play for me:

I base my pricing for a typical session on approximately one to one and a half hours in the field, and two to three hours after the fact. In an hour I can usually capture enough images to safely get around 40 images (80 with B&W conversions) for the client's album. My goal, however, is to capture two 'framers' of each individual and group. For example, if there is a family of four, I try to ensure that there are two 'framable' individual portraits of each child and each parent alone, two of just the siblings together, one of just the parents together, and one of the whole family. That means that a minumum of fourteen of the images are 'technical' shots. Everything after that is gravy.

After shooting, the next step is choosing the 40 or so images I will process. I use a system of finding first one or two solid images of each participant or grouping. Once those are chosen, I choose a balanced number of shots that I feel are a) quality images, b) complement the 'story' of what happened on the shoot and/or c) add variety to the album - nobody wants 40 pictures that look almost identical. If there is a group of 3, only 6 or 8 of the 40 images will be 'technical' shots - the rest can be more creative and playful and fun. If there is a larger group, say a family of five, plus grandparents, fourteen images are for individual portraits, and we haven't even gotten to the group shots of the whole family, just the siblings, just the parents, just the grandparents, the parents with the children, the grandparents with the grandchildren... You get the idea. Obviously, there is less time for me to shoot additional images when the technical shots take up such a substantial portion of the session. Especially when younger children are involved, the technical shots can often require the entire session, leaving the client with only technical shots. Sometimes, if the children are tired, or not in the mood, or hungry, or bored, or silly, there are only a handful of pictures that you'd want to hang on your wall.

Once I have selected the images to be included in the client's album, processing begins. Processing includes doing minor adjustments to the contrast or saturation if needed, and converting the images from RAW to JPEG. I then spend however long is required on each image to correct blemishes or bruises or rashes or make-up smudges. I then convert the image to B&W and do additional adjustments to contrast and brightness if required. These steps take an average of 2 to 5 minutes per image, depending on how much work is needed, and sometimes as much as twenty minutes to half an hour if there are special effects applied such as colourizing, hand-tinting, or texturizing. By the time you factor in my travel, field, processing, and developing time, fuel, printing costs, and other expenses such as props, materials, costumes, and equipment, it ends up working out to about $8/hour.

So why can't you just 'have the rest of the pictures,' you wonder. The answer to this is simple - if an image of mine goes 'out there,' I want to to look exactly the way I want it to look. If I give you an unprocessed image where, say, the lighting is off because you have a red wall where we took pictures and everyone looks feverish, then it is an inaccurate representation of the creativity and skill I want, "out there." You wouldn't expect an artist to exhibit a half-painted masterpiece, or a composer to play only the completed portion of a song, or an author to publish an unfinished story, and as such, I do not release my 'raw' images.

I *could* process every single last image, but realistically I have to set a cut off somewhere, which is why I charge $5 per image for client-requested custom editing. If I were to process every single image I capture, it would take a phenomenal amount of time. As I do have a family, I have to consider carefully how much time I budget for this pursuit so as to allow me the time I want and need to be a wife and mother. Regardless of whether this is a part-time job for me, or if it was a full-time gig, I would have to make those decisions in order to make it worth my while. I'm working at minumum wage as it is, and so, my cut-off is at 40 images per session.

get fit for Jesus

LOVE IT!!!!! Now I just need to figure out how to make this work on my TV!!!!

holiday photobooth 2007

The 2007 Holiday Photobooth spaces are almost full - book now to avoid disappointment!!!

email h.walls @

news flash: psychotic faerie impregnated by giant!!!

Renee, Ryan - my sympathies to your unborn child(ren). They don't stand a snowball's chance in hell of not getting beat up. Thanks for stopping by - made my day. It really did - I love you guys and wish you a speedy, safe, easy delivery.

autumn glory

Few places in Edmonton are as spectacular as the River Valley, especially with the incredible autumn we've had. And I've discovered that it's very difficult taking pictures when you are laughing non-stop! You guys were a riot - thanks for coming out!


This autumn has been uncharacteristically long and mild. By mid-October, in this neck of the woods, by now the trees have usually been stripped of their leaves by fierce autumn winds, and whatever die-hards manage to cling on through the winds are shivered off when the mercury plummets. This year, the trees are giving us a slow, sensual striptease, languorously plucking at their their jewel-toned costumes and sending the garments fluttering to the ground one brilliant gem at a time. Slowly, slowly we've progressed through this lovely autumn - it's been just this past week I've noticed the trees are standing about scantly clad, at long last showing more limb than leaf.

Today, people were mirroring the trees, showing a little leg in shorts and t-shirts while crunching leaves beneath their feet, soaking in every last drop of this honeyed sun. I'm glad it has taken its sweet time to begin the descent into winter this year ~ I needed the extra time to prepare for the long cold winter ahead, cultivating and harvesting a hearty crop of friends and memories to see me through the coming season. But the long-term forecast shows us hovering at daytime highs just above the freezing mark within two weeks. Though I'm hoping it isn't ice-freezing cold for Halloween, I am definitely ready for the cold to come now, the crisp wind refreshing against my face on the ride to work and that chill that paints a delightful rosy hue on my children's noses and cheeks. Tonight I'll drift off to sleep with visions of exhaling in white crystalline curls. I'll imagine the kids donning their cheerful mittens and toques to go outside, and coming back in with sweaty heads, demanding cocoa and fresh-baked cookies. And I will listen with great anticipation for the deafening silence that always comes with the first snowfall as it shimmies across the frosted asphalt in long wispy tendrils.

dem bones dem bones...

Luggage, for my emotional baggage.

This note changed my life, it changed my perception of who I was, and what I was worth. I took the invitation to keep the note very seriously.

Bill stoked the fire. I love him.

We threw a whole pile of notes on the fire. I saved the best for last.

I said, "I hated those bitches," as it went up in flames. I cried. The girls who wrote this note are not forgiven yet - I'm working on it.

As I read through the notes before shuffling them into piles - the 'burn' pile (the note pictured, notes that didn't make sense anymore, the letters from the friend who would only associate with me by mail for fear of upsetting the bitches who wrote this note) or the 'keep' pile (Christmas and birthday cards, pen pal notes from Julie, silly cartoons drawn of our chemistry teacher, drawings from kids I babysat, letters from campers) I unlocked a few other doors. Some I dared not open yet - one skeleton at a time, right Babzy? - and others I opened, smiled or shook my head fondly as I looked in, closed, and walked away feeling happy. I also unearthed a few juicy tidbits of long-forgotten girl-lore to share with some of my old-but-new-again friends.

For what it's worth, the girls in the gym who called me "fishy" are officially forgiven. Thank you, TL, for appearing in my life again. Serendipity rocks.

a family gathering

I was honoured to photograph this wild and crazy family. There was nothing but love and laughter and joy, and it was truly special to be a part of your respite plans (though after spending an hour with you all, I think I was fortunate to make my exit before the Cranium came out...)

I'm so glad everything panned out and I was able to join you - I have great aspirations of recreating similar family reunions when my own children are grown. Thank you, and cheers!

and then there were three!

My last visit with these little dolls included Mom, Dad, and a darling little girl with her darling little brother. I got a surprise when I saw them a couple of weeks ago - the new baby sister! It's really hard to take bad pictures of these children - they are absolutely gorgeous! Must be all the good lovin' they get from their sweet, amazing parents. I enjoyed our session immensely, D&J. Congrats on the new sprite!

big brown eyes

Brayden's Mommy (sometimes referred to be her name, Tanya) is on a mission to hook me up with every cute baby in her neck of the woods. Colton is just one in a long line of smart looking little babes she's introduced me to. Colton was nothing but smiles whether he was checking out the geese or rockin' it with the stroller, and his big soft brown eyes were positively melty. Thanks, Tanya, for sending him my way. Thanks, Colton's Mommy and Colton's Daddy, for making a cute baby for me to photograph! (You guys are pretty cute yourselves.)

my Jasonpoop

This is my Jasonpoop. He's quite the little trooper - despite having some pretty major surgery just a few weeks before our shoot, and some nasty cold weather, he was nothing but smiles and giggles while we meandered our way around Hawrelak Park.

He even asked to hold my hand, a far cry from last year when he hid behind his mom, dad, trees, and everything else, and just looked at me like I was a psycho. Not to deviate from tradition, he managed to squeeze in a face-plant, just like last year.

But this time instead of crying when I got too close, he cried when it was time to leave! I love you too, Jason!

guilty pleasures

#1.) chocolate
#2.) Scrabulous
#3.) celebrity gossip magazines.

What are YOUR top 3 guilty pleasures?

fire, fire!!!

I had a phonecall from a friend last night. She's been following my progress with interest over the past couple of days. Peas in a pod, we were - she knew the proverbial Popular Boy, too. Apparently, I'm not the only one who got dinged as being malodorous. My heart breaks for you, it really does. I'm sorry you went through that. Sorry WE went through that.

But of course, the round isn't quite finished yet. I have come to the conclusion that I have some residual crap with the girls in the gym class, not related to that incident, but to others. Some emotional baggage.

When Grampa With the Yellow Shirt died, my Gramma lived in the house for a while but without the aide of my Grampa, she started wintering over in town, and then eventually rented in town year-round while the house at the homestead sat empty. When discussions began about whether or not to find her a senior's residence, the Orange Fairy and her sisters decided they ought to go and take inventory of how much stuff they were dealing with.

My memories of the house at the homestead are limited to the things I liked to spend hours looking at: the mishmash of knick-knacks, spoons, doilies, and oddities in the squat, round china cabinet, the mosaic of cracks on the colourful ceramic mugs with black Inuit art from the NWT, and the faded black and white pictures in bulbous-glassed ornate wooden frames on the walls. I never bothered to take note of the rest of the 'stuff' because I grew up surrounded by 'stuff.' In our house, it wasn't odd for there to be 83 quilts and blankets, 6 sets of dishes, 412 tea towels, 97 pairs of pants that don't fit or are out of style, a crate of toilet paper, and 53 bars of Ivory soap. So when my mother started listing off the things they were cleaning from the homestead, I wasn't shocked that it was there, but shocked I had never really noticed it. 3 violins, a deer head, enough triangle quilting squares to blanket half of Canada, several margarine tubs of coins, a bazillion sealers and lids, canning from God-knows-when, mountains of unworn clothes and shoes - some with the tags still on... After 2 weekends and countless carloads to the dump, the second-hand store, and home, it looked like they hadn't done a damned thing.

My other Gramma, my Dad's Mom, was neat as a pin, and not a packrat at all. How my father came to be one is a mystery. When he retired, he asked to store some stuff in my garage. When he died, my stepmom asked if she could store more of his stuff in my garage. His stuff takes up almost half the garage - books, Christmas decorations, woodworking and hobby tools he hadn't touched in decades, things he'd meant to fix but never got around to...

So I come by my pack-rat-ism honestly. I don't mean to cling to things for sentimental reasons. I don't mean to keep things on hand 'just in case.' I don't meant to buy enough to last another depression. But I do.

My sister makes a trip to the Orange Fairy's house each year, and part of her mission each trip is to purge. We've learned to help curb both my and my mother's packratting habits by avoiding certain traps, but we still manage to amass huge quantities of 'stuff' which we then sit and look at, cursing it for taking up space in our homes, utterly in capable of parting with it unless someone else wrenches it from our hands. Which is OK, because then we can blame THEM when we run out of styrofoam packing peanuts and expired Jell-o.

I've got packratting down to a science, though. I actually have luggage, for my emotional baggage. There, in the garage, behind the dollbaby crib Serejane no longer plays with and the screen for the projector that no longer has a slide carousel, is a lovely avacado green hard exterior satin-lined suitcase containing stacks and stacks (and stacks) of notes retained from junior high and high school. The naughty, the nasty, the funny - it's all there. Notes from boys, notes from girls, notes about boys and girls, nice notes, mean notes, love notes, hate notes...

My friend last night said, "Burn it."
"But it's my Grandma's suitcase...."
"When will you ever use it?"
"I'm using it now..."
"Burn. It."
Tonight, the skeletons will be dancing in the fire.

you know it's coming to an end when...

Over the years, I've discovered that my body tends to do its best to align itself with where I am at emotionally. If I'm not doing something with integrity, my back hurts. If I'm looking the wrong way or turning the other cheek, I tend to get a crick in my neck. If I'm keeping my mouth shut for something I probably shouldn't, I usually get a cough or a sore throat. You get the idea.

I often forget that mind-body connection, but I got the message this time, loud and clear. I've had a bit of a head cold for several days now, a bit of congestion. I thought it was breaking last week but it came back with a vengeance. It has been mostly in my sinus, right behind my eyeballs, pressing against them in that oh-so-lovely way that makes you feel like your head just might actually explode if someone were to hit a high note or scratch a nail along a chalkboard. I've also had really tight crampy muscles.


Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is credited with popularizing the five-stages model of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Though there are many similar models, they vary only slightly, and so we'll use the EKR model here. When my Daddy died last year, the stages of grief weren't very 'mystical' to me, not like when either of my Grampas died. I recognized each stage as I passed through it, and would pat myself on the bum for reaching each new stage, while alternately reminding myself it was OK to slip backwards every now and again. Let's proceed.

I got the phonecall on the boat, and when Daddy's friend said, "Your father had a heart attack - I'm sorry to tell you he didn't make it," you can bet the first, second, third, and fifty third words from my mouth all sounded a lot like this: Noooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!! Being on a boat in the river valley I imagine LOTS of people heard me wailing out that one single word - the other passengers, the cyclists and joggers, residents unlucky enough to be situated low enough on riverside...

There was a lot of road rage on the way to the hospital. There was a lot of anger at the people in the hospital, for being there, for not understanding, for... for... couldn't they see my DADDY just DIED? The bastards. None of them, not ONE knew what I was going through. I hated my stepmom for having so much of his time, I hated my mother for not giving him a second chance, I hated my sister for living all the way in Arizona and leaving ME to deal with all of it...

I would have given everything I had, given my own children, to hear my Daddy say, just once more, "Hi, Hopey," while doing that little curtsey thing he did. I sat in the back yard in the dark wishing it so hard, I think the apple trees whispered it so I would go to bed.

This one lasted a long time, and I still have moments where it washes over me, like every time I hear that damned Jack Johnson 'Old Train' song that I don't even really LIKE all that much... Sometimes my sons or my uncle will reminisce, and it hits me, "Whoa - my Daddy's really dead. ~whew~ Who knew?" and I have to have a little cry so I can continue with my day.

My Daddy is dead. I don't like using cheesy euphemisms like he's passed on, returned to his maker, waiting for us in heaven, etc. Because he is dead, and a rose by any other name... I won't ever hear him say, "Hi, Hopey," again. He won't be in any more of the pictures from Christmas or birthday parties. I won't ever feel a hug from him again (though one from my Uncle Adolph is a damn fine surrogate.) This makes me sad, but he is dead. I allow myself to miss him. I am no longer consumed by his absence.


Last night, my nose started running and I kept stretching. I imagine this is my body's way of letting me know that I'm no longer emotionally congested, and it's time to stretch into my new skin. I'm pleased with how quickly I went from wanting to have Popular Boy's nuts on a necklace, to thinking I could probably laugh about what happened over a coffee with him.

What changed? Well, you can all go back and re-read, if you must, the previous posts and figure out how the Elisabeth Kubler Ross stages were passed through. The switch flipped for me when I figured out what I'd ask Popular Boy. I crawled inside his skin and answered for him as best as I could, so that HIS 14-year old had a voice, too. He was brutally honest with me. Here's what he said:

TB: Did you like me or did you just think I was easy?

PB: I didn't think you were easy, but I figured I could get in your pants. I don't know if actually I liked you or not. I never really thought about that.

TB: Why did you tell everyone that lie?

PB: I thought it was funny, I guess. I also didn't want anyone thinking that, you know - YOU turned me down. My homeboys - they were counting on me. I had to come up with something.

TB: Did you ever feel bad about it?

PB: Not really, not then. I was mad at you, for turning me out. It was embarrassing. I was a virgin, too, and I honestly though that might have been... I dunno. I guess I feel bad about it now - I never knew how much it hurt you. I'm sorry.

TB: Bygones, my friend. Bygones.

Now, if only I could figure out why the hell my OVARY is acting up...


I'm thinking maybe it must be close to Halloween, what with all these skeletons running amok!

Whenever a repressed or denied memory comes up, I have to go through a process. I've had some amazing mentors and life coaches and teachers and role models, who have walked me through the paces enough times that I've gotten pretty good at going it alone. Every once in a while, though, it's nice to have some assistance, which came today from two places.

The first was from a message I got from an old but new again friend. We've been learning how parallel our lives actually were, and she disclosed to me yet another tie we shared. She put this feeling of being empowered ever so eloquently: "Though I was decimated at first, now - I feel like a warrior. They couldn't take me down [then] - they don't stand a ****ing chance at 34. Hear us roar, indeed. And the's a warning, a**holes."

With most things I end up dealing with after the fact, the first stage of healing is anger. Guilt, shame, being the victim are all passive - anger is the first step towards action. The tricky part is knowing when acknowledging the anger becomes needlessly hurtful to people around you. Lashing out at my friends and family right now would be detrimental, so if you all hear me growling in the next few days, leave me space - I don't want to bite you. The other tricky part is knowing when to push the anger out, so you don't become embittered by it.

The second came from another old but new friend, who pushed some buttons for me. This person has NO idea where my buttons are, but they were pushed anyways. The gist of what was implied was how unfair it was for people to get a bad first impression of Popular Boy via my blog, and that maybe saying it in a public forum was maybe a little much, since he's a nice guy now, and something like this could put his good life at stake. What I heard was, "This boy is more entitled to his privacy than you are to your voice, so you shouldn't have said it out loud, where people might hear you." Not what she *said* but what I *heard* Very important distinction there.

I'm in full agreement that Popular Boy doesn't deserve to have his life pulled out from under him for having really crappy judgment as a teenager. On his part, it was a pretty minor infraction in the grander scheme of things, and I've said already that it wasn't the kissing or groping that haunts me. It's what happened after, but as we've seen illustrated here, everyone wants to hone in on the kissing and groping part. I'm not about to be made the victim here - I chose to go to his house, I chose to stick around after learning his parents weren't there, I let him take my hand, I followed him downstairs. I was sort of OK with the kissing part, and if I'm going to be completely honest, I'll admit that as unattractive and repulsive as I found the boy, as it was happening, I was debating how it would be socially advantageous of me to establish some sort of alliance with this boy. I decided it wasn't worth it when the hand went in the pants.

Now - I need to clarify a little something here before we continue, about me, and my understanding of sex back then. I think I mentioned I was painfully naive. Though I thought I understood sex, generally speaking, and how it involved two people, the bearded nun who spoke to us of the evils of intercourse from under her habit really didn't do a very good job of explaining the mechanics of it. The religious slant to our Catholic lesson in the birds in the bees went something like this: sex is for procreation not enjoyment. If you enjoy sex, you will got to hell. If you have premarital sex, you will go to hell. If you use protection, you will go to hell. If you have protected sex before you get married, you will DEFINITELY go to hell. Etc. I only knew that if you did sex right, you got a husband and a baby, and if you did it wrong, you were going to hell.

Sitting around listening to the girls talk about going bases with boys, I played along. "Second base, yeah, wow - cool." I'd seen people kissing and holding hands - I figured that was pretty OK - and I did understand that the bases lead to Going All the Way, and that Going All the Way meant having SEX, and that having SEX meant going to HELL. But no one ever defined the bases to me. Now, frame the hand-in-the-pants incident with someone who equated SEX with HELL, and who didn't realize that genital contact was required for 'procreation' ~ and you might begin to understand exactly how shocked I was...

(Stop laughing, Babzy.)

I've been very careful and considerate about keeping the identity of this boy anonymous. I buried the old me pretty deep, in name and in spirit, a long time ago - it'd be a bloody miracle if anyone other than the three of us who know his name now ever figured it out. But of course, that comment set off a chain reaction of buttons for me. My initial response was to rush over here to the blog and delete all these posts to appease the person who had expressed concerns about the boy's reputation. My next response to feeling like I had been told I was wrong to speak up was to rush over here, post the boy's name, address, phone number, picture, and license plate number, and show his reputation the same consideration he showed mine. Now that I've calmed down a bit (I love riding my bike home - it's so therapeutic...) I've come to the conclusion that I'm going to leave things exactly as they are. I have neither hatred nor sympathy for this boy, and if he grew up to be a nice man, then good for him.

I still think maybe I'd feel better if he were to come over here and say, 'Sorry for dragging your name through the mud.' But I'm working towards the most important part of this all - forgiveness - knowing I probably won't ever get asked for it. Forgiveness is closure. It's the ending, the part where the skeleton actually dances off into the sunset, leaving me with nothing but a distant, neutral memory, a simple recollection of facts that requires no energy to recall or repress.

As I rode home, I contemplated what I would ask if I ever had the opportunity to come face to face with Popular Boy. I thought of 3 questions: 1.) Did you like me or did you just think I was easy? 2.) Why did you tell everyone that lie? 3.) Did you ever feel bad about it?

head in the sand

Three diffrent individuals have noe directly or indirectly spoken out about the social injustice I'm committing by not naming Popular Boy's name and bringing this person out for public scrutiny and maybe a law suit with a big fat cash settlement. Huh? Let me reiterate: this is about ME, and not HIM. I am not "putting my head in the sand" nor am I "protecting a monster." I am not on a witch hunt nor in search of vindication. We were both stupid kids, and neither one of us handled the matter with any kind of maturity. He was a jerk, but he didn't rape me - he slipped me the tongue and made a grab for my girly parts. The fact he touched me inappropriately isn't what upsets me anyways - it's what he told everyone afterwards that has left the emotional scars.

I didn't bother trying to defend my honour back then because I figured no one would believe me anyways. Were I to name a name, and were I to pursue damages, we'd be reliving the exact he-said, she-said episode I chose to avoid back then. Besides, I wouldn't want money, and I don't think the courts would allow me to sue for a public admission of lying and a heartfelt apology. I chose to use the words 'sexually molested' because if any of my children are even in a simliar situation, whether the toucher or the touchee, I'd like them to know the correct name for it, and not be stupid enough to write it off as silly kid stuff and have it rattling around in their heads for a couple of decades.

So - to my well-meaning Drama Queen friends, please, return to your seats and just enjoy the dancing skeleton show, OK?

nasty comments and blog litterbugs

I got a nasty comment about the previous post. It went something like this:

"I really enjoy your blog, but can you keep it fluffy?"

(That's heavily paraphrased, by the way.)

Essentially, the post about the boy who touched me inappropriately made one of my readers feel a bit uncomfortable. In an act of extreme cowardice, this person left a drive-by trash-heap explaining how I should be more careful what I say, since I might drag others down with me. Based on the arrows shot in my general direction, it almost sounds to me like a) this person has put two and two together, knows who the boy is, and has chosen to side with the other party or b) this person had a similar experience and it was just too painful for them to read someone talking about it so candidly, without any spite or malice. I was then chastised for being so lighthearted about my cheesy junior high suicide attempts, and called a drama queen for using the term 'sexually molested' for a situation I had clearly created myself. Apparently, it's also not very 'professional' to have written about this on my blog.

I have to respond to some of the points this person made, before calling it a night.

#1.) The suicide attempts were cheesy junior high suicide attempts, not seriously intended to do off with myself. They were the kind of, "I'll show them!" thing that emotionally immature kids will do. I wanted the people who were hurting me, to see how hurt I was, because no one had ever told me I could just tell them to go screw their hats. I figured if I couldn't reel them in with kindness and complacency, I'd reel them in with sympathy by showing what a delicate flower I was. Unfortunately, I didn't really think it out very well. For starters, the first time I tried, it was a Friday night, and the people I needed to show my suffering wouldn't be available until Monday morning, by which time, had I succeeded, I'd have been far too dead to enjoy their misery. The second time all I managed to do was earn myself a day off with what my Mom called in as the flu. Oops! And that last time, with the pink Bic leg shaver and the tiny metal crochet hook used for making doilies and decorative trim on gingham table cloths - let me just say that no amount of Tylenol is sufficient to numb your senses - mental or physical - to the point where you are capable of slicing open your wrists and scooping out the veins. It was silly and morbid and - well - silly. Do I think suicide is funny? No, not in the least. Suicide scares the ever-living shit out of me. I have been touched by suicide - friends who didn't give a damn how the rest of us felt, who felt so sad and alone and hurting that being dead was better than being alive. They weren't seeking attention like I was - they wanted to be dead. There's a difference there, BIG difference. I'm old and wise enough to know the difference, and what I did was juvenile, and (in retrospect) laughable.

#2.) I don't really care about outing the boy. What you seem to misunderstand is that this was a post about ME, not HIM. I don't really care about his feelings any more than he did about mine. I already pointed out that I have no desire to seek retribution or financial compensation. I don't want to ruin the boy's life or destroy his family, I have no desire to have a heart-to-heart with him, I have no drive to waste a single moment or penny pursuing revenge - I didn't name names for a reason - but at the end of the day, I can honestly say that I don't really care if his job or his life were in fact affected by this incident coming to light. I have relived the whole incident time and again in the last several days, and this time instead of issuing the gag order, I spoke. For those of us with a habit of self-censorship, you'll understand that this is a BIG thing for me. And now that I have given that 13-year old girl inside of me her own voice, I'm letting it go, for both of us. I think 20 years is long enough to hold on to that pain and shame. Besides, a little public shame is good for nurturing feelings of humility, something most of us could stand to learn. If he is a big man, he'll own it. If he's a little man, he'll deny it but his good name will be marred. Either way, it's a good lesson to us all: if you don't want your actions to come back and bite you in the ass, choose your actions carefully.

#3.) Sexually molested is a strong term. It is what the boy did to me. It comes down to perspective. Making light of it by saying he 'put the moves on me and I turned him down' would be making light of what occurred, and not doing justice to the gravity of the situation. Saying I brought it on myself is like saying a little girl deserves to get raped because she has the audacity to be cute, or a little boy living in a poor neighbourhood deserves to get shot because his parents are too poor to live in a gated community. It ALWAYS comes down to perspective - if you're the mother of the boy, you might want to make the girl culpable and use fluffy language to write off the incident as being typical kid stuff to maintain your illusion of your son's innocence. However, if it was your daughter who had been sexually molested, then I doubt you'd be so anxious to play it down. The facts remain the same: perspective changes everything.

#4.) Read the name at the top of this page. I'm a photographer, and a writer, and this is a blog written from my perspective. Hear me roar. It's a stage of my own design, for my own selfish purposes, that I stand upon and belch out my thoughts and indiscretions to the people I have come to establish relationships with, who choose to come here for whatever reasons they have. Some I've met here, some are family members, some are friends I've met elsewhere, some are clients I've come to be friends with, and some are people who randomly stop by and decide to hang around for a bit. To be a well-rounded person with a past and thoughts and emotions and my own sense of humour makes me human, not unprofessional. If I were pushing pornography or making racist jokes or promoting drug use or publishing unauthorized details about the personal lives of my clients, then yes, I'd agree, that would be unprofessional. Oddly enough, though, a number of people - clients, too - who have experienced my blog have thanked me, for being candid, for being honest, for being real, for giving them food for thought or a different perspective or something pretty to look at.

So. Cowardly blogger person who likes things fluffy (and isn't a client, by the way). I'd like to say I'm sorry. I'd like to say I give a damn. I'd like to say I won't ever post another blog entry that pushes another human being the least bit out of their comfort zone. But then I'd be a liar, wouldn't I?

it was all about a boy - the prequel

As an adult, there are things I know about myself, without understanding how or why they came about. Some things are benign - like why the sight of the prairie horizon never ceases to stop me dead in my tracks and take my breath away or why nectarines are my favourite fruit in the whole wide world. Others are more malignant - little bits of negativity that haunt me without me really understanding why. We're about to venture to the land of TMI - so anyone with a weak stomach should skip over to the column at the right and look at some pretty pictures - Tasha just put a few new ones up, with her spanky new watermark...


I changed from the Catholic to the public school system in Grade 6, but even after many years in the mainstream I was still very much tied to my desire to be considered a 'good girl.' I wasn't a teen from the 'wrong side of the tracks.' I didn't live in squallor or poverty with abusive parents who rented me out to the stoned pimps who came a-calling. I didn't smoke or do drugs or drink. I bathed every day, wore clean clothes, and tried to do my hair and put on make-up (though I never did master the perfect cascade of the 'waterfall' hairdo.) I was proud of my grades which never slipped below honours or at the very least honourable mention (you have to cut me some slack - it was hard to muster enough enthusiasm for an 'A' in social studies every term) and babysat LOTS, so I always had my own spending money. And I certainly didn't put out.

I liked looking at boys when I was a teenager - they were interesting enough - but I was never boy crazy for anyone other than maybe Michael Hutchence and Simon Lebon. Oh, yes - and George Michael - mustn't forget him. I wasn't even into Madonna back then - I was morally opposed to the little tramp and couldn't understand how people could stand listening to her when their mortal soul was on the line. Damnation was sure to follow, wasn't it?

But a lot of my friends were completely boy-crazy. I'd listen with indignity to their tales of how many bases they'd made it with which boy on how many occasions. While the other girls would gasp and ooh and aah, my heart would curl up into a tight ball as I silently prayed I wasn't going to go to hell on the premise of guilt by association. However, it didn't take me long to figure out that part of 'belonging' meant issuing a gag order on the Queen of Prude, and at the very least pretending I was way more experienced than I was. (Translation: never been kissed - and I had been tricked into touching a penis, so that did not count...)

As unluck would have it, we were seated alphabetically in almost every class, which put me precariously close to one of the most arrogant, popular boys in the school. He wasn't my type at all - in my eyes he resembled nothing more than a neanderthal, especially when he opened his mouth to speak. Invariably, everyone laughed at his crude jokes and participated in his lame antics, while I invariably cringed at his lack of sensitivity, bad grammar, and general disregard for acting like a decent human being. When he and I were given a project to work on together by virtue of the fact our last names were alphabetically aligned, I was ready to cry.

In an effort to be cordial, I remember passing notes with him in class for a couple of days, which no matter what the subject always turned into some smart-ass pseudo-sexual comment. When the time came for us to actually set up a time to work on the assignment together, it was arranged that I would go to his house. I went home, ate, grabbed my books, and reluctantly headed over. I arrived at his house, at which point he proudly announced his parents were not home. Goody. Unsupervised homework - woot woot - did he expect me to congratulate him?

Oh, how naive I was, as he took me by the hand and led me downstairs, looked deep into my eyes, pressed me against the wall, kissed me deeply, and jammed his hand down the front of my pants...

I remember pausing only briefly to weigh the consequences of what I was about to do before fleeing - grabbing books, shoes, papers - pedaling my bike home at a furious pace. I remember getting home, bursting into my room, and crying for hours on end. How had I let that happen? How stupid was I? As a social outcast, I had to wonder - was I more stupid for a) putting myself in that position or b) for not taking advantage of the potential it had to elevate my social status? I hated myself for wanting it to happen even more than for letting it happening, and was terrified of what damage I knew would come the next day after he'd had a chance to tell... to tell what?

The day started off normally - everything seemed OK. I made it through the morning, and lunch break... and all the way to afternoon gym class. *Whew* I thought - maybe I'll be OK. I changed into my gym shorts and runners and went to go sit down with the other girls. As I approached, I flushed. Their beady eyes all peered up at me knowingly, and I knew the cat was out of the bag. What could he have told them? I wondered. I didn't do anything. I didn't touch him, he barely touched me, I ran away - no harm done, we'll just laugh it away. I wondered, Is he was more the type to make fun of me for running away like a baby, or lie and say I had sex with him? Then, very quietly, I hear them whispering at me, following me with their eyes as I walk past them to sit alone, the girls who had been my friend that morning. "Fishy fishy fishy... here, fishy fishy..." Apparently the story was, he turned me down for sex because I smelled like fish. The weekend following this event would mark one of 3 suicide attempts, though in retrospect it was in the spirit of, Oh, he will be sorry when I turn up dead...


For what it's worth, my suicide attempts were pretty lame. The first two times it involved a bunch of Tylenol - only enough to give me a royal belly ache the first time, but enough to make me really ill the second time - cold sweats, racing heartbeat, vomiting. The third time involved a complicated procedure employing a combination of Tylenol, a pink Bic lady razor, and a crochet hook... laughable, but not, I know... *sigh*

I think it's funny to point out that I had NO IDEA what the 'fish' reference was until right around the time I moved out a few years later. I only remember it because at the time I was overcome with hurt and shame all over again. I wore my chastity like a badge of honour, so to have people thinking what they were obviously thinking was almost more than I could handle. Though my mind can deal with it, my body hasn't forgotten that single invasive act - to this day, I feel squeamish and genuinely uncomfortable when even my husband, whom I love and trust unconditionally, puts his hands anywhere near the front waistband of my pants.

My mother never knew about this. Had she found out, there would have been one more eunich in the world. In fact, I'd bound and gagged that skeleton WAY at the back of my closet. No one ever knew about it - not friends, not family, not anyone - until 3 years ago when my daughter was born, and all the fear and pain and humiliation I lived through were suddenly put on her innocent little minutes-old head. I alternately wept and prayed for her in those first few hours. I felt totally unprepared to raise a daughter, completely undeserving of her, and yet utterly and hopelessly in love with her.

Babzy - this is why I am telling you to rouse your skeletons gently, and only one at a time. I've once again run into a blast from the past - one whose path or present conclusions on the meaning of life aren't so different from my own. Only she is now in daily contact with the aforementioned Popular Guy. However, we are in agreement that there are no accidents, and so I guess the Powers That Be have simply decided it's high time I dealt with being Fish Girl.

I spoke with my husband about this, and other events, that took place in that dreaded school - the name-calling, the sexual harassment, the constant threat of being beat up, being dragged into the back hallway and having your shirt lifted so the boys could see if your boobs were real. I expressed a sentiment something like, "I wonder if any of them feel the least bit guilty or bad for what they did?" My husband replied with something like, "They probably don't even remember..."

I don't know if that's a good thing, or a bad thing. The fact that it was insignificant to them brings comfort only insofar as it means I wasn't necessarily singled out. On some sick level that soothes my paranoid mind. But of course believing throngs of little girls (not unlike my daughter) may have been groped and teased and humiliated without the aggressors (please God, let me have taught my sons better) even once stopping to think what affect it would have on them isn't really very comforting. I suppose the boys had their own insecurities, though - their own need for superficial penis strengtheners like lies about possessing the strength of virility to turn down the loose girls who smelled like dirty old sex.


I know, I know - after the Tyler post, you might have some romantic notion that this particular boy will be invited to read this post and magically resurface at least long enough to beg my forgiveness. I would not hold my breath for a happy ending this time - unlike Tyler who got to step up to the plate as the boy I had a crush on, this boy would have to step up to the plate and out himself as the boy who molested me and then lied about it at school. No retribution is sought here - though the 'I hope he led a horrible life' sentiment holds. I write this for my own benefit, and maybe to the benefit of someone else out there who was ostracized for something completely beyond their control. So, now, let's all hum a little tune - off you go, little skeleton - you're free - go play!

I suppose the best thing that could happen would be he reads it, and he does a good job of teaching his own sons to respect girls, and teaches his daughters to speak up and point out the boys he should be turning into eunichs instead of waiting 20-some years to talk about it.

something to waste some time when you're bored

say Hello to Maryn's new baby sister!

Malayna Yvonne

September 17,
5:36 p.m.

8lbs. 8oz.

VBAC!!! Woot Woot!!! WTG Mom!!


I am thankful for my husband, for his patience, love, kindness, and understanding. I am thankful for my children, for their zeal for life, their perspective, and their laughter. I am thankful for my extended family, near and far, living and dead, for their love, support and encouragement. I am thankful for my home and my job, my neighbours and my coworkers. I am thankful for my friends, new, old, and old but new again. I am thankful for my clients, who have welcomed me into their homes and their families. I am thankful for my health.

Happy Thanksgiving!

burn baby burn

I likes a far. Far shore ez purdy.

Last week my husband decided to free up some much-needed storage space, for artifacts of my father's that I am not yet ready to sort through. We burned the leftover papier-mache balloon lanterns from our wedding. I love Bill.

Wil was brooding. He's full of angst. I love him.

Kaelan's butt was cold. I love him, too.

learn disco

Scandinavian instructional video, from Bill, to you. Happy Thanksgiving!

the new hip in ad campaigns

All kinds of weird. Check out this advertisement - pay special attention to the faded image behind the text. Then watch the little video.

I saw an ad for Svedka vodka the other day too featuring a rather tarted up robot sipping on a martini with some pseudo-sexual tag on it.

I think it all started with him. And do you remember them? And how many of us felt a tug at our hearts for this little guy?

I have coined a term for this growing trend.

I am calling it 'robo-eroticism.'

I'm a little miffed...

Apparently, John Acorn wrote an entire poem out for my sister. I have a feeling it was the words to his frog song...

workshop information session

Come and join us on Sunday, November 11th, 2007 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Idylwyld Community Hall located at 8631 - 81 Street in Edmonton for a FREE fun and informative session about the workshops. We'll be going over the content of the workshops in detail, plus having a FREE presentation and Q&A session on what to look for when buying a camera.

Please preregister for this session by emailing me at h.walls @

FREE GIFT for all those in attendance!!!

Please note that this is not a catered event, so please come with your own water, coffee and donut. And maybe one for me would be nice, too. I like a double double. ~smirk~ Please also note that this is not a particularly child-friendly event as we will be covering some pretty boring (to a kid) topics. However, nursing infants are certainly welcome. And fret not - most of the field trips are geared towards being family-friendly!

free workshop information session!

Come and join us on Sunday, November 11th, 2007 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Idylwyld Community Hall located at 8631 - 81 Street in Edmonton for a FREE fun and informative session about the workshops. We'll be going over the content of the workshops in detail, plus having a FREE presentation and Q&A session on what to look for when buying a camera.

Please preregister for this session by emailing me at h.walls @

FREE GIFT for all those in attendance!!!

Please note that this is not a catered event, so please come with your own water, coffee and donut. And maybe one for me would be nice, too. I like a double double. ~smirk~ Please also note that this is not a particularly child-friendly event as we will be covering some pretty boring (to a kid) topics. However, nursing infants are certainly welcome. And fret not - most of the field trips are geared towards being family-friendly!

"What does RAW mean?"

Babzy wants to know: What does RAW mean and is it a program or a lens or a type of camera or a setting on the camera and what does it do and what is it good for and why do we need it? (That's just one question because there is only one question mark. HA)

Instead of typing this all out, I found what someone else had written. It's not exactly how I would have explained it, but it's pretty close. This comes from here.

"The RAW file format is digital photography's equivalent of a negative in film photography: it contains untouched, "raw" pixel information straight from the digital camera's sensor. The RAW file format has yet to undergo demosaicing, and so it contains just one red, green, or blue value at each pixel location. Digital cameras normally "develop" this RAW file by converting it into a full color [RGB] file, and then store the converted file in your memory card. Digital cameras have to make several interpretive decisions when they develop a RAW file, and so the RAW file format offers you more control over how the final JPEG or TIFF image is generated."

Do most people need it? No. Most people will never have a need for that kind of fine control over the images they are taking. Though most do, not all professional photographers shoot in RAW - it's a personal preference based on a few things such as how "accurate" the JPEG files are when produced straight from the camera, how "accurate" the picture you shot was, and how much time you want to spend post-processing images (post-processing = digital negative development, and converting the files from RAW to JPEG can take a very long time even on a fast computer). Also, because RAW file formats are not standardized across the industry, and are sometimes encrypted by the manufacturer, they cannot be used by certain photo editing or managing software. This is problematic if the program supplied by the manufacturer is too limited to satisfy your creative desires, in which case you're stuck 'processing' them to JPEG or TIFF anyways before you can hack away at them with a photo editing suite.

RAW files are substantially bigger than JPEG and other file formats, often twice as many MB, which means you will require a lot more memory both on your camera's card and your computer's hard drive, especially if you plan to 'keep your negatives.'

The dirty little secret about RAW files is this: RAW is especially good for is fine-tuning, especially if you screw up the exposure in the first place. You can (sort of) re-create the settings like white balance and saturation that you really wanted MUCH more accurately than if the file is in 'demosaiced' JPEG format already. I shoot in both/either JPEG and/or RAW, depending on lighting conditions and the occasion. For example, on a dark rainy day I'm shooting portraits, it's going to be done in RAW. If I'm shooting my kids in the yard stomping in mud puddles, rain or shine, I will shoot in JPEG. My wedding formals are always shot in RAW (except that one time I forgot to flip the settings - HOLY PANIC when I got home.... thank goodness the weather was good and the lighting cooperating that day and my pictures turned out perfectly in JPEG anyway... *whew*); wedding ceremonies and receptions are usually shot in JPEG.