Category Archives: photo

Reader, I married him

Just as I was beginning to plan our wedding a few weeks ago, this post came out from Clothilde about her simple Paris wedding.  What she said about planning her event in two months was similar to the timeline that we set for ourselves, and I felt empowered by her thoughts about keeping things simple and “100% you.” Our version of this was a bit different, because of being in SoCal, so here are the choices that we made:

-we’ve worn “wedding” rings for 5+ years (since he first proposed as we watched the sun set one evening at Griffith Park), so that was one thing we didn’t have to worry about for the marriage.  My ring is a vintage eternity band, from the ’20s.  Stijn’s ring is a simple silver band.

-for a few weeks I struggled with what to wear. I’d thought a cocktail dress would be more befitting our stage of life than a traditional white dress, but after looking and looking, I couldn’t settle on anything that felt right. I wore myself out dress shopping (note: I tire of shopping pretty easily).  One afternoon I was thinking about my favorite short story, Isak Dinesen’s “The Blank Page,” and it occurred to me that a simple white dress was what I wanted as I was about to begin the next chapter of my life (something that hinted at so many as-yet-untold stories):

It is in front of this piece of pure white linen that the old princesses of Portugal — worldly wise, dutiful, long-suffering queens, wives and mothers — and their noble old playmates, bridesmaids and maids-of-honour have most often stood still… 

The dress I settled on was a silk a-line floor length gown from J.Crew.  It was light and easy-to-wear for those two very long days of wedding happenings.

-we held our wedding celebrations at our 1921 bungalow-style home in Old Town Orange.  While hard in some ways (parking? food prep? one guest bathroom?), our home is so much a part of who we are, that nothing else would have felt right. We were fortunate to have perfect 75-degree weather and the wisteria and bougainvillea brought tons of color to the pergola in our backyard. Also, we used All-American Party Rental to augment our supply of party goods, and they were wonderful to work with.



-we scheduled a civil ceremony at the historic Santa Ana courthouse.  It’s a gorgeous space and we both love history and this reinforces our local ties.  Plus, it was a no-hassle way to do the business of marrying.  I was surprised by how beautiful it felt to take Stijn’s hands and recite vows as I looked into his eyes.  Our family sat on rows of pews around us.
flowers and bracelets

-for our reception we served drinks (sparkling water, juice, champagne, beer, wine) and cake.  The cakes were from Blackmarket Bakery: Total Eclipse, Citrus Tang and Straight Up Vanilla.  Were I to do it over again I would double the order of the Citrus and cancel the Vanilla (which was tasty but not ohmigawd tasty like the other two).  Several guests mentioned that the Total Eclipse chocolate cake was one of the most decadent that they had ever tried, and others complimented the fact that the cakes were rich but not too sweet.

-for the wedding dinner chefStijn and chefCharlie cooked a traditional Belgian dish, vol-au-vent.vol-au-ventThey also served a variety of cold salad starters and a cheese course accompanied by loaves of Stijn’s own handmade rustic sourdough bread.  While I don’t necessarily recommend cooking your own wedding dinner(!), anyone who knows Stijn can understand why this was what he wanted to do. That Charlie was there to lend a hand (and also his partner and honorary bridesmaid Bonny) is why we were able to pull this off…

dinner time

-both our engagement and wedding photos were taken by longtime friends, who understood me and my style.  D’Arcy‘s colorful shots captured our home well (and were perfect for our event invitation) and Brenda’s classical eye matched the look of the old-timey courthouse venue.


-for my something borrowed, I wore vintage gold bracelets (handed down from grandmothers and great-aunts) on loan from some women that I’ve known for many years.  I loved wearing something so old and precious for the occasion.

-because we have just about everything we could possibly need or want, we asked guests to consider two nontraditional options in lieu of gifts.  The first was to bring books for our Little Free Library, the second was to consider a donation to RIF (Reading is Fundamental) or to First Book (see Although I don’t yet have a definitive tally, my rough estimate is that about $500 was donated to these organizations as the result of our wedding.  Of course we also received many sweet cards and gifts (especially plants, wine, kitchen goods and gift cards), and we have enjoyed each one of them.

-we married on a Friday (the exact 6 year anniversary of our first date) and that night we escaped to The Ranch in Laguna Beach, where we had dinner and sat in front of the fire sipping wine and hardly believing that we were actually married.  It was a perfect relaxed but not-too-far-away setting for that first night together as a couple.

fire and wine

-most importantly, our wedding included so many beloved friends and family members and this is what made it truly memorable.  I marveled at how far many had traveled and how enthusiastic they were about supporting our union.  These past 6 years, since meeting Stijn, have held so many highs and lows, and it’s those people who’ve been ‘there’ for us (both in-person and virtually) who have made this all come together.

the crowd

As for what it feels like to be married to Stijn…I’ll undoubtedly write more about that in the future.  It is not a small thing to combine families and traditions that span the breadth of the globe. Yet for now it has hardly sunk in and I am eager to see what’s next for the two of us as we chart the rest of our lives together.

happiness (on Mother’s Day)

I’m not a huge fan of Mother’s Day (too much commercialism and shmaltz), but it was still a joy to spend a few minutes on Sunday looking through the photos taken at my mother’s surprise 70th birthday party last December.  The uber-talented D’Arcy Benincosa was out photographer, and she did such a great job of capturing the smiles of my siblings and Mom.  Everytime I look at these pictures, I am so happy (note: click on the images to enlarge them).

I also enjoyed a quiet moment considering what my Dad might think of these if he were still alive.  Given that one of the last efforts before he became ill was to throw a secret 50th birthday surprise party for my Mom, I feel fairly confident that he, too, would be pleased by knowing that we traveled from the four corners of the US to do that same for her 20 years later:

a beautiful day…(and a room with a view)

When I travel, the one blessing of jetlag is that some days just seem to last forever and it’s possible (with a few catnaps) to just keep going and going and going…This last trip to Europe I had one of those days…

It began with breakfast in the hotel dining room (why oh why is European yogurt always better than anything I can find here in the States) and with a hour’s lounging at the sauna, with an amazing view (above).

And then we went to the station to book tickets on the historic Bernina Express train route through the Alps. Without a doubt that train ride was the most scenic that I’ve ever experienced, and we lucked out to have an entire panorama car to ourselves because of it being off-season in the region. Here’s the train station, just before we left (note: click on any of these photos below for a larger view):

swiss trains in St. Moritz

And here are a handful of photos from the trip, as we made our way up and over the Alps (where I learned that swiss green is greener-than-green):


It was raining and snowing a bit that morning. I loved how the clouds hovered around the tops of the mountains…


Our views out the windows looked like this (i.e. amazing, there was so much to see):

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all the world’s a sunny day…

Last weekend I had the happy opportunity to see Paul Simon in concert. There are many moments from that evening that will stay with me for a long time, but this song just hasn’t left my brain since then, so I thought I’d share it here.

Having had a few of those moments when life loses all of it’s color, and also those when things are so vivid that the colors dazzle the senses, I can relate to much of what Paul’s saying here. I think it’s a conscious choice to live with a colorful outlook, even if we have to know those monotone moments to fully appreciate what it means to see a full spectrum…especially at this time of year, when all the world seems to flash in reds and golds and bright blue skies.

she’s got legs…

A few months ago I was reconsidering my legs.  For a few years I’d gone ‘robotic’–letting my prosthetic leg show rather than wearing a cosmetic covering over it to make it have the same contours as an organic leg.  It was an empowering experience, but also hard sometimes.   I don’t mind being stared at–I’m used to it now, after having had that happen for nearly 30 years.  I don’t mind discussing my disability–I’m used to that, too.  But I do mind when that tends to eclipse everything else that is important and interesting about me.  So I started feeling like it was time for a change (that, and I started wearing knee-high boots, which looked REALLY WEIRD with one skinny leg and one normal-sized one).

As a temporary measure, I put some old cosmesis on my leg to see how it felt and looked.  I showed my kids and their jaws sort of dropped.  They were so used to a Mom with asymmetry–they didn’t seem to like it much.  I mentioned it to some friends, who were supportive, but not really opinionated one way or another about which looked better.  And after a few weeks of using that old cosmesis (which wasn’t actually fitted to this prosthetic leg so it didn’t look quite right around the ankle or knee), I submitted the insurance paperwork to get some nice cosmesis made for this leg.  And, months later, it was approved and I got my new skin about a week ago.

At this point, I’m still not sure which look I prefer.  I see positives and negatives to both.  But I like that I now feel comfortable wearing my leg either way–I experience no shame in showing my robotic innards, and I also enjoy ‘passing’ as a biped and having my tights and boots and slacks hang symmetrically on my lower body.  Perhaps what’s most important is knowing that either works fine for me, and I can change my mind about my ‘look’ at any time without feeling the need to justify or explain it to anyone.

(Pic to the left is me last Halloween with stripey tights and a tutu.  Pic to the right is me today at work (with my skirt hiked up a bit to show the vintage-lace edge of the slip that I’m wearing underneath my sundress)



This has been a week of hard work and travel. It’s the end of the semester crunch, I’ve been in the last stages of training for the opening of my outrigger season, and have layered on to that some significant obligations to friends and family. Oh, and also…I’ve found a house for the kids and I to move into later this summer (a house with roses, no less. Roses. And did I mention roses?)…

As I look out at the months to come, I feel a lot like those wide open vistas that I encountered coming down highway 89 in Arizona last weekend. There’s so much ahead. Some of it is mysterious and indistinct. Some of it I can see clearly, but it’s going to be a bit of a climb. And some of it still lies around the bend in the road and I have no idea what will emerge as I move forward.


It’s a lot, even for a pilgrim soul like mine.

But it’s all good.

trying again


Nearly every picture I take, I evaluate it and find things that I could have done differently. I’m learning. I’m making mistakes. But I’m enjoying the process and trying and trying and trying again. When I’m behind the lens my whole body relaxes and it’s just me and whatever is in my viewfinder.

And, on a mostly-unrelated note, I was feeling sad about some divorce-related things yesterday. A friend mentioned to me that it was okay to cry. I don’t think he knew that I usually don’t think it’s okay to cry. And so when another friend comforted me last night I let myself acknowledge what I was feeling inside and the tears flowed. I think I’ve only done that once since my marriage ended. It felt awkward and embarrassing to be so emotional. But I did it anyways. And it was okay. I was okay.



I recently bought a new camera.  My old camera worked fine, but I became increasingly frustrated with its inability to take pictures of people.  I knew I wanted a better photographic record of my life and my kids’ lives, so it seemed time for a bit of an investment in some new equipment.

So far, so good.  There’s a big learning curve when moving from a powershot camera to an SLR.  I’m experimenting and getting things wrong a lot.  But I’m having fun in the process.  There are so many buttons to push and so many features to try!

But most of all, what I’m loving about this camera is the way the light comes through the lenses.  Somehow it makes everything just a bit more glowy and beautiful.  Even I don’t look half bad when viewed through her lens. And my friends look gorgeous, I’d say!

Every morning I meditate by sitting in a shaft of sunlight in the middle of my living room (or if it’s warm enough, I sit on the back porch in the light).  I’m so hungry for warmth and light.  That I can capture it with my camera now, makes it even better.