Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Somewhere over the rainbow...

They say everything happens for a reason.  I do believe that however I get supremely frustrated at times when the "reason" does not present itself for a very very long time..
In fact I would be lying if I didn't admit to the fact that I get down right negative about it at times and forget that there is a reason behind it all, the loss of my business, having to move back east and in with my family...not being able to find employment etc....  A lot of frustration these past few years. I have a good friend in Los Angeles who is constantly reminding me to "manifest the good" that I want in my life.  She is so good at it - even when things get her down - and so I am making a conscious effort these days to do that.

So one day last week I decided what I want and need more then anything is to work for a professional photographer.   To find a mentor so to speak, someone to help me further my education and experience by working for them and learning from them at the same time.   So I did some research and I found a local photographers website whose work I loved (wait until you see some of it) and thought to myself "you only lose when you don't try", then I sent her an email asking if she was ever in need of an assistant I would love to be considered etc etc.

Well, she told me that recently she had been manifesting her need for an assistant to help her as she is attempting to change her business and further it's growth!  So while I haven't been hired yet - the first conversation went well and I am hopeful that our meeting this weekend will solidify things.  I love her work, and feel I could learn so much from her.  Let's hope that the fates have finally smiled on me and there is a light at the end of the long frustrating tunnel I have been traversing down professionally these past years.

My very own 'pot of gold' at the end of the rainbow so to speak.  

Not some of my better photos - but they illustrate the point!  :-)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Where does our food come from?

Yesterday I did the family food shopping. I generally tend to be a bit better at staying on budget then mom so it is a role I have assumed in the household. Although this time I did make the cardinal tri-fecta of mistakes ...being:
A. Not having breakfast
B. Working out in the hot sun on my first paddle-board lesson therefore making me...
C: Hungry at the grocery store.

Not always the best scenario - however with the heat and humidity of the day rising exponentially every 10 minutes as it does here in South Florida - I pressed on.

After wolfing down a banana to help with the leg cramps and ice coffee in hand I entered our local Publix. With it now being summer I find myself yearning for all things fruits and veggies these days so I headed to that section to go to town. One of my favorite things is photographing fresh produce in open air markets, there is just something so delicious about stacks and piles of fruits and veggies in season.

I do miss having multiple farmers markets options weekly as I was spoiled to have in California (note to my LA friends left behind - you have NO IDEA how lucky you are in terms of fresh produce options - keep those farmers markets thriving!)

Here in Fort Lauderdale, we have one tiny small farmers market down the street from our house on Sundays which mom diligently attends to pick from the limited available fresh produce, fish and homemade sauces. Mother always raised us to be conscious of what we put on our plates and in our bodies, and loves to tell the story of how she "picketed for lettuce" in the 1960's. I jest but really my sister and my love of fresh produce and support of "locally grown" stems just as much from her a-typical way of raising us in the 1980's which was fresh and home cooked meals when she came home from work every night of our lives -I never even saw a hot dog until a friends sleep over in grade school - as it does from 15 years living in the heavily eco-conscious environment of Southern California.

So back to Publix...here I am in the produce section and in the back of my mind are all the recent postings online, in blogs and on Facebook by some of my - mainly Venice, CA friends on the state of affairs in our food industry. Tips on how to shop organically and locally. The news on the big bad Monsanto/Whole Foods debacle of genetically engineered food . The terrible state of the fishing industry and contamination of our oceans, the demise of our honey bee population....the terrible list goes on and on and as the caffeine was buzzing through my nutrition depleted body I stood there in the tiny little overpriced organic section with a bunch of carrots in my hand and froze as the meaning of what I was reading sunk in.

Grown in California


I mean it's no secret to my family, my friends here, hell anyone who talks to me that I miss a LOT about my adopted home state. I miss the fresh locally grown food the most - but I live in FLORIDA! Which means these scrumptious, organic carrots had to travel over 3,00o miles to be in my hand!!!
(OK for those of you who know I like to exaggerate a tad it is actually 2,715 miles by car....)

I then began wandering around the produce dept, past the one shelf of organic choices and seeing the signs.

Grown in Mexico, Chili, California, Costa Rica, FRANCE for god's sake! This is Florida, the sunshine state, I KNOW we have farms here, and the orange juice industry was STARTED here!! Interesting note - the ONLY orange juice in Florida that actually comes from Florida oranges is the brand Florida's Natural. Yep in the state made famous for Orange Juice there is only one locally sourced brand.

Last summer I visited my oldest and dearest friend in the New Jersey suburb of Pennington, near Princeton. She belongs to an organic farm co-op called Honey Brook Organic Farm and goes weekly to pick fresh in season produce like the beans above and the eggplants below to cook for her children and husband for dinner. How jealous am I of THAT? By the way dinner that evening was one of the best I had in a long while. There really is something to picking the food yourself that goes on your plate later in the day, and she is raising her triplets (yes 4 year old triplets) to be involved in what they eat from picking fresh produce from the farm, to planting their own vegetable garden! Yea Jen!

When they have surplus as they do with these amazing tomatoes, she makes sauces to freeze for the winter months so her family is still eating as much produce that is organically and locally sourced as possible, because even in the Garden State of New Jersey you run into the same problems in the grocery store of having to search for locally sourced, and in the winter having to make do with what they have if you want to eat a fruit or vegetable. In fact I am certain that anywhere you live - when you look at your choices for produce it is difficult to buy only locally sourced produce. Some states it is harder then others, but
Florida - for SHAME ON YOU!

So the dilemma I was faced while standing there was the following:
A. Continue to buy fruits and veggies for my family regardless of where they are grown and be a part of the problem.
B. Stop buying produce that isn't locally sourced and leave the department with nothing but a few large Florida Avocados (which are so strange looking and I am completely unsure how they taste or what to do with them) and Mangoes - which you can find all over Florida in backyards but are not organic as they are sprayed with pesticides. This option would obviously and severely limit my families fruit and veggie consumption.

Neither option is a win, so I chose organically while I could, and seethed with annoyance as I picked up other offerings and pondered if there is a 3rd option that benefits my families health as well as our environment. I have yet to find that option.

So with limited choices I do what I can for the health of my family and what we put into our bodies. I wait for 20 minutes at the deli for fresh sliced Boar's head meats and cheese that I can pick for its lower sodium content etc, as opposed to the quick pick pre-packaged varieties that are higher in sodium nitrates and preservatives. I choose organic produce, meat etc whenever possible - although it is a VERY expensive way to feed a family of 5 - as my sister and her boyfriend eat with us several days a week...well 6 if you count that sis is now eating for 2. We search for loally sourced fish that is healthy and not on the "bad fish" list, something that is getting increasingly difficult as the health of our ocean continues on it's downward spiral, but that's a rant for another day...
and Mother continues to go to the Farmers Market to support locally grown, even though the beautiful peaches she picked up last Sunday rotted by Monday.

Finally I continue to educate myself, even though the news out there gets scarier with every article, blog post and Facebook update you read.

Some of the best are blogs by friends of mine in California. Jason Stroh, chef, prior owner of Strohs Gourmet in Venice, CA and now Food blogger. Jason is into educating people as well as delighting them with healthful recipes with his blog FreeRangeTuna

Also my friend Elisha Reverby, owner of Elique Organics. While Elisha is an organic Skincare purveyor, she is also an advocate of the fate of the honey bee, and all things healthful and organic for our bodies inside and out. Check out her blog here.

Meanwhile - here in Florida I continue my quest of healthful and affordable goods to feed my family. All advice welcome!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monkeying Around Bali

I've been pondering why I have been feeling so restless and frustrated these days. I live in a beautiful place - for all it's strangeness, and while job hunting and depleted funds are frustrating I do have a fair bit of freedom. So why is it that I feel so blah about everything?

So in a fit of the dull-drums the other day I started going through all of my old travel photography from my years past. Those years right before I invested in my starter camera and after. The years where there was money to spend and miles to re-deem on my constant quest for adventures and that's when it dawned on me.....

I am 100% going through travel withdrawal. I mean as fun as the past few trips up to New Jersey and Philadelphia were (my old homes) they are not quite the adventure and exploratory travel I love and was spoiled and lucky enough to do a bit of for a few years before that pesky economy bungled everything up for me.

These photographs of Bali made me recall that 2 week adventure a few years back (oh it seems like a lifetime) where I was searching for some kind of revelation about my life. I was exploring and shooting for the love of it - if I am honest with myself it was then on that trip I realized that travel and photography was what my heart desired more then anything. Of course I had a business back home to run - and eventually lose, so it was a good year or more before I was able to even entertain my "silly dream" of traveling the world and shooting pictures as a lifestyle.

How I wish I could go back with a better camera (well in that respect how I wish I could afford to buy a better camera). I didn't even graze the surface of the beauty there to be photographed. The techniques I have learned since then - how much more I have and want to learn.....

For now though I must find a way to be content here in the place that I am with my family around me, even though I feel like the "odd-man out" as I seem to be the true restless soul born into my brood. Different - a little like this baby monkey who doesn't look like the rest of it's family. I wonder why it is that some of us are born so restless ......

Until I can find a way to continue to travel and take pictures - and ideally get paid to do so - I must stay in place and find a way to be content.

And, I suppose, take my camera out more in my new environment and consider it an adventure!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Beauty of Love

I got a chance to shoot my sister and her fiance last weekend while I was visiting them in New Jersey. It was a very bright and sunny day - but their property has so many trees that I was able to use as a natural filtration for the harsh bright direct light making for some beautiful natural and at times very romantic lighting. What a treat!

For more of this shoot visit my website at photosbyamandanicole