Friday, October 31, 2008

Favorite Holiday

Do you know what I get to do tonight?

What was that? Go to my friends' Halloween party, you said? Dote on their adorable kids and dress my dog up like a chicken? Sadly, no. I have to work. (Shocker!)

BUT! In two hours, I get to shoot tomorrow's A1 centerpiece story about a couple's Halloween wedding. Everyone will be in costume, including the bride and groom. I. Am. Pysched.

Confession: In the beginning, I really kind of wanted us to get married in October instead of August. Teachers just don't get married in the fall. It's too chaotic. But I love the idea of a Halloween wedding. Andrea suggested that the bridesmaids carry jack-o-lanterns, and I was all, "Oooh, that would rock!" Then I had a reality check and went back to planning our August wedding, but not before she quipped, "Quoth the raven, you are married forevermore!" Love her. Anyway, I'm just excited to shoot a Halloween wedding.

Last night, Joel and I carved our pumpkin.

I was trying to mimic a design I saw on a pumpkin carving website, seen here (the one on the right.)

It's a moon, with vines and bats, I think? I stuck the bat to the outside of the pumpkin with pins.

Ollie liked it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What to say?

I'm really ready for this news cycle to be over. I'd like the presidential elections to take place, please. I feel like the whole country is holding its breath. In the absence of the Mets in the World Series, Joel has become obsessed with the polling data. He's like my personal Gallup pollster. I just feel like so much hinges on the outcome of this election, and while I want to be cautiously optimistic, I really worry about the amount of racist rhetoric being stirred up at Sarah Palin's rallies.

So there that is.

Um... wanna see some cool pumpkins?

The Great Jack-Lantern Blaze is this awesome Halloween event around here. There are more than 4,000 hand-carved pumpkins on a nearby historic estate. The artists make these amazing sculptures and installations.

The more complex designs, like this life-sized Tyrannosaurus Rex, are made out of "funkins" or foam-shaped pumpkins, because they'd collapse as they rot. A team of volunteers carves 750 real pumpkins every week in the month of October to replace the ones that decay.

This pirate woman kicked ass. She was made out of, like, ten pumpkins and was taller than I was.

I've been so busy since we got back from the honeymoon that this was the first time I got to hang out with our friends who comprised a big part of our wedding party. Friends=good. I knew I would have to sacrifice a lot to take all the time off for the wedding and the honeymoon. With 2009 will come 15 new vacation days, 7 sick days, and 3 personal days... Ah, free time, once again. It will be mine. Mine! :)

I may have missed Baelin's first birthday party, but hey! I was there for his first candy apple. That totally counts, right?

I can't believe how fast he's growing up. I know everyone says that, but seriously, people. This was him a whole year ago already. How did that happen?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Exciting New Thing

UPDATE: There's a new post up on Untangling Photos. Want to laugh at a picture of me looking like an escapee from a "Little House on the Prairie" FanCon? You know what want to. Click here!

Well, it's exciting to me anyway! Karla, whom I've mentioned before when I wrote about my decision to join Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep after I was inspired by her daughter, has asked me to write a blog about photography under the umbrella of her website Untangling Knots.

I got the email offer from her during a layover in Cairns on our first leg home from the honeymoon, and we're finally up and running at Untangling Photography! I'm going to be writing about photography, how to teach better pictures, blogging about scrapbooking, doing Before and After entries that teach editing techniques, and probably telling the same kind of self-deprecating stories that I do here, like that time I was shooting a big sporting event and I was afraid Britney Spears was in the next stall over and I didn't want to let me hear me pee. For the record, this was Pre-Crazy Britney, before she shaved her head. Bald Britney hearing me pee? Feh.

But I digress. I hope you guys will come check out Untangling Photography and participate in contests once and a while, maybe? It will be fun! I'll be giving away B & H gift certificates... Just sayin.' :)

Friday, October 17, 2008


This multimedia piece from the Wall Street Journal about the descendants of slaves owned by John McCain's family was produced by my friend Christina, who (sniffle) left my paper (weepies) about a year ago (has it been a year already?). This is truly fascinating.

It's amazing work. Christina also once saved my ass by finding a notebook chock full of caption information I really, really needed. I promised to name my firstborn after her. Last weekend, the good folks at the catering company at the wedding I was shooting literally picked up the back end of my car and shoved it free from the hole I got stuck in. Then I promised them the same thing.

Joel, I forgot to tell you. Our firstborn's name will have to be Christina Jeng Cuisine Chez Vous Catering and Events Gaul Jackel.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sneak Peek: Ben and Amie

I first met Ben and Amie at Debbie and Noam's wedding last April. They caught my eye because of the way they were gazing at each other on the dance floor. When they introduced themselves as boyfriend and girlfriend, my wedding photographer "Spidey sense" kicked in. This was a man shopping for a ring, and this was a woman who was going to say yes. So I was thrilled when they got in touch a few weeks later to tell me they were engaged!

Fast forward to yesterday...

It was a pleasure to shoot Ben and Amie's wedding.

They aren't just in love. They are blissful, ecstatic, crazy in love. They saw each other before the ceremony first to center themselves, and then, sign the ketubah. Here comes the bride...

I can't even describe the look on Ben's face when he saw Amie in her dress.

They didn't take their eyes off each other for the rest of the day, not even when they circled each other seven times under huppah.

Their ceremony was peaceful and moving.

The two people holding the huppah behind them, by the way? Totally schemed to set them up.

Instead of flower girls, they had "leaf children." Love it!

Their first dance was the horah.

I should mention that Amie's cousin Deborah brought their beautiful huppah all the way from Shanghai. She has an amazing laugh.

It must run in the family.

They were toasted (and roasted, just a little) by their nearest and dearest.

Is a wedding really a wedding without the chicken dance?

And finally, my two favorite images from the day....

Congratulations, you guys! Thank you so much for letting me tell your love story in pictures. Between the beautiful New England day, the warmth and kindness of your friends and family (thank you, Sewell), and the amazing love that you share, it was almost- as they say Down Under- "too easy." Happy honeymoon!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


I got the most exciting package today when I got home from work: a hard drive with all of our wedding pictures. It took me almost two hours to look at them all, and I was grinning so much my face actually hurt afterwards They. Are. Awesome. Joel loves them, too.

Thank you, Anne. If you were here, I would jump up and down excitedly in your personal space. ;)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Oh, dear.

I suppose it was bound to happen. I knew Joel's parents would find their house quite simply too empty after Brandy was gone, and I figured it was merely a matter of time before one of Long Island's finest shelters placed their third adoptee with the Jackel family of Queens. Once a house has known the pitter patter of (four) little feet, it seems just wrong without the love of a good dog, I guess.

A poodle named Julie will be joining the family sooner rather than later. Julie is 12. She already has cataract in one eye, but Joel's mom wants nothing more than for Julie to spend her twilight years in a loving home, sleeping in a cozy bed, and enjoying more than her fair share of boiled hamburger.

This is an amazing act of selflessness and generosity. Although bringing home a puppy would definitely be a culture shock after Brandy's "lady of a certain age" pace and exercise needs, Joel's dad seems a little reserved about falling in love with a dog in her twilight years. I have to say, that was my first thought, too.

I mean, I get it. I really do. Older dogs need homes, badly. But how about a dog in her afternoon years? Or her late morning? Why twilight? Why not noon? Yes, a nice homeless dog smack dab in the middle of her life; that sounds nice, doesn't it? This is such an act of generosity, an adoption with the best interests of the human heart are being placed well behind what's best for the canine one.

Man, I hope I get to a point in my life where I can make choices in that same state of grace. I hope Julie acts like Gwen's parents' dog. They have the best poodles EVER.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Hillbilly Pinata

Right, now one of Fred's more charming antics is that he likes to wait until I'm leaving for work, all loaded down with gear and delicately balancing a computer backpack, camera bag, video bag and purse as I head down from the third floor walkup Joel and I call home. The purse usually has a banana and a Diet Coke haphazardly tossed on top. If I bend over, say to shoo an incorrigible Demon Critter back up the stairs, it all goes to hell. Bananas falling, Diet Coke bouncing down stairs, breaking open *just enough* to spray everywhere. It's a nightmare.

Now, Fred really likes to do this on days when I'm running late. If Joel's around when I leave for work, he'll often be what we call the "Cat Goalie" to block Fred from dashing down the stairs. Ollie likes to follow Fred, but if you use a time-honored Animal Whisper technique he scampers right back up the stairs. The time-honored technique? I shout,"OLLIE, GODDAMMIT!" and he turns tail and runs right back into the apartment.

Fred? Not so much. He hides behind the banister, rubs his head on his Lovaaah (Neighbor's Bike) and generally makes himself uncatchable for a woman weighed down with what amounts to being a mobile news unit of devices that beep, boop, click, whirl, flash, transmit and break when you drop them. You have to put it all down, get a bag of Whiska Lickins and bribe him back upstairs. I keep a small bag of cat treats at the top of the stairs for exactly this purpose.

Once Fred is back inside, I actually have to give feed him the treats. At that point, Bella is nosing around, and Ollie is all "Oh HAI Pleez to has treats for meee too?" Fred likes to take his sweet time with his- first sniffing what it's in my hands, then tentatively licking each Whiska Lickin to make sure I haven't secretly switched his sodium-laden fishy shapes with Folgers Crystals or some shit, I don't know.

But remember: all of this is happening on days when I'm already running late. Sometimes I lure Fed back inside with the seductive crinkle of the bag, grab a fistful of Whiska Lickins, toss them into the living room and let all three get what they can. Not long ago, Fred pulled this stunt when Joel and I were leaving at the same time. As I tossed the treats, I called out, "Candy Scramble!" and closed the door.

Joel: What's a candy scramble?
Me: What you mean?
Joel: Why did you say "candy scramble" when you closed the door?
Me: You never did a candy scramble?
Joel: Huh?
Me: It's a like a birthday party game. The community pool always had one during 4th of July festivities.
Joel: .....?
Me: You know, all the kids line up, and an adult has a big bag of candy. They throw it and all the kids run and get the candy.
Joel: Like a pinata.
Me: Right, but they just throw it. There's no pinata or blindfolds or hitting stuff with a stick.
Joel: So a candy scramble is a pinata without a pinata.
Me: Yeah. The candy is usually just in a brown paper bag until the adult throws it.
Joel: So it's like a HILLBILLY pinata.
Me: Look, I told you I grew up in East Bumblefuck.