BE STILL...and SEE Photography

Reflecting on who I am...what is important to me...and the gifts I offer the world, I have reorganized this PhotoSchmoozer blog into separate pages for your viewing. I am about so much...people - relationships - drums and rhythms and especially photography...and I realize that although separate, they are all so INTEGRATED into the Whole of who I am!! It's a very peaceful thought and I am thankful for the intuitive gift to see the connections and the relationships. Enjoy the journey through the blog...and WELCOME.
Contemplative photography is about being totally present and seeing exactly what is before you, without filters or judgment. It is about seeing with your heart.Doesn't everyone see what is before them? Not really. You may see a candle on a table. Do you also see the shadows it creates? Or the reflections that the light casts on it? Or it's underlying shape and form?

DRUMS, Rhythms and Relationships

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Better Late than Never!!!

What is this man thinking???
This is Anthony Asbury, the chef at the 'former' Cafe Lula on Broadway in Pitman.  FORMER??  Yes, as of December 30, 2009, the doors of the restaurant have been closed and the amazingly wonderful food served for 16 months is no longer a reality.  Maybe not for long.  We can only hope that negotiations for a new location are successful and 2010 will open
new doors for Cafe Lula still in Pitman!!
We were looking for a special place to ring in the New Year, 2010 and went in to Cafe Lula to make reservations (embarrassed to say we had never taken the time to eat there in 16 months!!)  We found out that in just a few hours, there would no longer be service here so we promptly made a reservation for that night.  My comment is "Better Late than Never".  It was a totally awesome all around experience from the warm husky British greeting from Louise, better know as Lula to the bright spirit of Anthony and the fantastic service from the adorable Amanda.  We were delighted!  Needless to say, the food and the easy companionship from our fellow diners at close by tables, added to the ambience.  The Harvest Soup, Short Ribs, Lamb chops and perfectly cooked vegetables AND the last piece of an amazing carrot cake. 
We met the couple from Cherry Hill who just got back from a cruise, were successful Weight Watchers 'losers' and were absolutely passionate about dancing.  Then there was the family who was just gifted with the family house in Woodbury Heights - they were renting in Pitman until the house was renovated.  They had discovered Lula's and were regulars.  In fact, the place was crowded with regulars all here to wish the couple well.  The atmosphere was charming - curtains, flowers, and "It's a Wonderful Life" projected onto the back wall.
PhotoSchmoozer is all about dancing with life and affirming people.  This is yet another experience where we had an unplanned and 'perfect' event.  Let's hope that we hear from them soon and can make reservations for opening night in Pitman!!

Discoveries for a New Year!!

I have been struggling a lot this year trying to decide where to focus my energies with the blog/s I write - though inconsistently. How to make a choice and what to do was my dilemma until today. What happened? The other day, I was spending time with my new friend Peggy - personally and professionally. We are working on a project and getting to know one another. WE have discovered that we are in each other's lives for blessings and lessons. For me, I decided a few days earlier to focus on people and their hands - expressions of their individuality. When I saw Peggy take out the lotion to soften her hands, it came clear. Here is my new project and DARE to AFFIRM and PHOTO SCHMOOZER are NOT two separate entities!! See, DARE to AFFIRM is what I totally believe about people and the dance of relationships - valuing and affirming them and "catching them doing something right" and PHOTO SCHMOOZER is the person who makes it happen. What an AHA moment. So this is to say that from now on, my blog will be and I won't write any more on this one! Phew - what a relief. Come visit.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Reach Out and Touch Someone!!

On Christmas Day, I returned to Pitman Manor with Bill and my sister, Lisa. We were invited to visit with the residents on the 2nd and 3rd floors - those who were more incapacitated than our Ladies drumming group but as much in need of the beat of the rhythms of relationships. When we stepped out of the elevator, there were about 15 sets of eyes, each watching us in some way, wondering who we were and why we were there. Planning ahead, I took a CD player and CDs with different kinds of music as well as my Native American drum and some other percussion instruments. Scrap the plans for a group drumming session - remember I said to be adaptable!?! In fact, scrap the plans for a group anything. What happened was a unique connection with each person sitting and waiting. I was undaunted by a nurse's comment that 'they won't respond to you' and brought my heartfelt spirit of belief and compassion to the forefront.
Through talking and gentle touching, sometimes stroking a hand and sometimes a touch on the shoulder, we connected with each person in her own unique way. One woman said to me, "I have never drummed before." That was after she had just stared into my eyes for a long time. Words coming out of her mouth were a surprise but valued! Two things really affected me in very positive ways:
1. Most of the people looked directly into my eyes - I felt like there was a silent soul connection though they could not use their voices/words.
2. I was awed by the character of every one of their hands. Some were gnarled or twisted; some had blue veins or sores; but all were soft and willing to be touched. I realized that I have been taking pictures of shoes for quite awhile and now it is time to focus on HANDS. Here is yet another expression of the uniqueness of individuals. I intend to post more often on this blog and focus on people and their hands - the character of them and what they are doing. Then I looked in My Pictures and realized I have already begun! Let the adventure continue. It's fun to have a focus and a purpose for a project!!

Community of Caring with Drums!!

Sharing...and caring...and building community! It's not about 'stuff' but about being with people that brings a joyful spirit to our hearts. It all started out innocently enough with my being gifted with a purple drum. I let it sit until the time was right and I NEEDED to explore my own rhythms and connect with others to build community. I started out with a drumming workshop. The flyer for this event came into the hands of the Activity Coordinator at Pitman Manor, an assisted living and nursing home. "Would you like to come and drum with the Ladies' Group?" I responded with "Sure, it could be fun!!" One of my drumming friends, Katie, joined me and we went with no expectations. I've learned over the years that plans must be flexible and I must be adaptable. So we shared and we learned so much! Our little group ranged in age from 85 to 103!! Fascinating to me to hear the stories about living in Pitman for 103 years - what was and what is now. We had a grand time shaking and beating and singing too! I always use the term FACILITATOR with my experiences because I have as much to learn as to share. Carrol, the Activities Director, asked how long I had been doing this - "Oh today is my first". "WOW, you are a natural!" We all need affirmations for what we do and I so appreciated the comments. We have begun to talk about becoming 'regulars' there - considering the possiblities of making drums, inviting the men and planning how we can get others involved!! See, I put it out there to the Universe that I wanted to build community in Pitman. Did I know how it would happen? Nope...and that is the blessing. When you are still and watch for the synchronicities, they come - not always as you might have expected, but they always come!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Blessings for the New Year!!

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hoshanah, in the Year 5770 began last Friday evening with song and prayers and an openness to reflecting on the year past, asking for forgiveness and then ending with Yom Kippur where we ask to be inscribed in the book of life!! Our wish to all of our friends is a Peaceful, Healthy and Happy New Year filled with contentment, compassion and gratitude for who we are and the gifts we are given.
Saturday afternoon we strolled through Brookside Gardens in MD with sister Lisa, niece Rebecca and friend Elizabeth. Gifts right there! When I go out in the beauty of nature, I go slowly, am still and just watch. What a gift I received that day!! This butterfly flew around me and then landed in a bush right near me and did not move for the longest time except to gently flutter her wings. It gave me pause and lots of opportunities to watch. She was at least 4 inches in diameter and just a special gift. To me, it signified my emergence from the cocoon of what was and the entrance into the world of what could be!! Sharing this with all of my friends who have lived and grown with me is special and I thank you for listening.
If I, as PhotoSchmoozer had not been out walking slowly with my camera, there would have been no way to share...but there was!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Joy and Lightness in the Garden

The monarch only lays its eggs on milkweed and that is planted in the garden (imported from Delaware years ago with my 'buddy' Jill). This year, as I am out and about and still in the garden that is our gift, I quietly watched the monarchs. Yes, we are gifted with several of them and their yellow and black swallowtail relatives as well.
Their message to me is EMERGE and float gently on the breezes - partake of the sweetness that life offers and know that all is well in the world. Just BELIEVE and be still. Walk softly and just BE!! It's a lesson for PhotoSchmoozer ...and for the world. Peace friends.


Drumming has been an attraction to me for quite a few years though I have not actively pursued it. Now I can wait no longer. The hubby bought me a conga drum a few years back for my birthday present - purple of course!! Then I began to get a few books and CDs and 'jump' slowly into the water. Then I read a book by Robert Lawrence Friedman - THE HEALING POWER OF THE DRUM - and could wait no longer. I wanted to drum for finding my natural rhythms, building community and bringing more peace and balance into my life.
I called Robert to see where I could attend one of his workshops. When there was no place, I took a GIANT LEAP OF FAITH and asked him what he would charge to come to Pitman. NOW we are READY to meet and greet, play and heal. Sunday October 4 from 1-3, people will come together at the Ground House for a workshop. It's exciting and I know a new path of adventure and discovery for me!! I've lived here for so many years and now am beginning to feel more and more that it is 'my town'. It took PhotoSchmoozer's being out and about to make this happen!! Once more, I have paid attention to my intuition and done what feels right to me!! YEAH Martie the PhotoSchmoozer!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Morning in Our Garden

Today I needed to go out into the garden and BE STILL. I have been hearing so many stories about people not being kind to one another, not taking the time to listen and try to understand differences (close to home and in the bigger scheme of world affairs) that I knew the garden was the place to offer me the peace and serenity to REALLY appreciate and value the gifts that are all around us IF ONLY we take time to stop and see them. I disovered over 20 varieties of flowers. I paused when I realized this and put life in perspective. This morning, I awoke with some of those same angry feelings and decided to make a collage that would bring me back to the garden and the beauty and simplicity that can be.
It's a lesson to be learned and right in my own back yard. Everyone and Everything has beauty, value and worth. Take the time to see it and honor it and then tell someone else about their value to you. While you are at it, don't forget to stop and appreciate your own value!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Feasting at the Road Kill Cafe!!

Coming home from my visit with Rita, I was about to turn into the driveway and found that we had an uninvited guest who was in the neighborhood feasting at the 'road kill cafe'! Sad to say, I did not have the camera in the car for immediate photo ops and gratification, but asked him to stay around while I ran in for it! That he did. I was able to sit quietly and watch as he tried to go back out time and again for more feasting in between cars driving by. The neighbor's dog barking chased him away as well, but he did come back a few more times and enjoyed the taste of the rabbit which by this time was totally covered by flies and had quite a pungent odor!! My lesson - never leave home without the camera because you never know who could stop by!!

Becoming ONE and at PEACE!!

Yes, today it is all about ME!
Barbara Martie Wogan Mollenhauer

And you ask why?? Yesterday I spent time with my first friend and neighbor in Pitman, Rita. We talked about past, present and future. The joys of who we are and what we were still 'looking for'. How to take the best and move forward with it. Rita remembered me as Barbara - the persona/name I used for the first 50 years of my life. Then in a change of life moment, well actually not so impulsive, I legally became Martie. I thought that the Barbara person who was not accepted by lots of others because of her enthusiasm, spontaneity, sensitivity and feelings would be more complete as Martie - a softer, more gentle being. For the past 13 years, I have still struggled with some of the same issues. Rita got me to stop and reflect that 'little Barbara' is very much a part of me and so is Martie. It is the name I was born with and now it is time to ACCEPT both of their identities and merge them as one so I can truly love and accept ME and be the person that I have always meant to be. So...the next steps in the journey begin!!
I went out into the world to see what the day would bring, and the synchronicities that always come to me - camera or not - provide such amazement. So Catch Them Doing Something Right applies to me too!! How about that. If we don't start with ourselves, how can we be there for others?!?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I'm So Cute!!

Meet Tamisa Brooks! PhotoSchmoozer did at the Zero to Three Birth to Three Institute in Washington, DC this week and was totally drawn into her spirit, positive energy and of course, her cuteness! Why do I say this? Monday night, the planning staff of the Early Head Start National Resource Center at Zero to Three had a dinner together to celebrate their hard work in planning the event that was to open the following morning. After a wonderful buffet of quality healthy food, Lillian Sugarman, the 'fearless leader' of the group, invited each person to step to the mike and introduce him/herself and share ONE THING about themselves. When Tamisa's turn came, she got up there and said, "I AM CUTE and this summer I intend to be even more cute." When I later introduced myself and shared my 'photoschmoozing' activity, she said, You can do me. So, never pass up an invitation!! Thursday morning, I found Tamisa doing what she does best - organizing and networking and making people feel welcome. She was in charge of the exhibits, the drawings and making people feel great when they were winners! I see her as a greeter, a front person and total cheer!
As we talked, Tamisa wanted to share some of the summer plans for herself and her 9 year old daughter, Chandler. First, let's hear about Chandler. She is off to Patterson,NJ to spend the summer with Auntie Tasha. This woman gathers nieces and nephews and offers them a fascinating summer. She interviews the children to see who they are and where they will fit. She asked Chandler, "Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?" Chandler responded, "I see myself growing. I have a lot of ideas and suggestions of what we can do this summer." Auntie Tasha 'hired' her on the spot to be the manager of the kids! Amazing!!
Then there is Tamisa. She is extremely family oriented and is looking to get married and have more children as part of her life plan but for now "Nothing is going on but the rent!" Her plans for the summer while Chandler is away - first of all to be even more cute, then take time to get to know herself a lot more and to go out and explore more because she is usually a homebody.
WOW - admire these girls and their spirit of living their lives. Just WOW!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Keeping a Promise

It's blurry, but I promised and The Photo Schmoozer always keeps her promise!! May 16th was another big festival day in Pitman, NJ. This was Earth Day. Yes, we know that it was almost a month late, but Pitman does its own thing and scheduled this to coincide with the Spring Craft Fair. It's all about coordinatioin and making things most interesting to people. After we listened to 'the son' playing with the Jim Six band (read a post below), we went on over to one of our new favorite 'haunts' in town, The Ground House to have our favorite Veggie Pannini and sit outside to watch the people strolling by. As usual for The Photo Schmoozer, I go and talk to someone when I see something that catches my interest. Today was one of the crafters with her flip flops, ankle bracelet and tattoo. Of course, the brightly colored nail polish on the toes did a lot to also catch my interest. When there was a lull in her customers, there I was, flattery and all, asking to take a picture of her 'stuff'. She was thrilled and asked me to write down the name of the blog, which I did. Then a week has gone by and I have neglected to post the picture as promised. It is a bit blurry, but one of the things we learn from being a photographer is that not everything is 'perfect' and sometimes, we have to sit back and appreciate the imperfections in life. This is a way bigger lesson than taking blurry pictures. It is also about being a 'specialist' and thinking that by the title, one has to live up to expectations and 'know everything'. What do you do to relax about that and know that there is always someone or something out there to help you along? Share witih me. Until then, here is the picture.

Steppin' On Out

What a feast for The Photo Schmoozer yesterday at the First Annual Pitman Arts and Music Festival. It's my joy in life to watch, talk to and enjoy the variety of people out an about. Bill and I volunteered to sell tickets, give out the wristbands and generally have FUN!! Why this picture now on this blog?? And what does it have to do with this blog?? It's about the unique individuality of everyone. WE are all the same because we wear some kinds of coverings on our feet - we are all different because of how we choose to express ourselves. There's a funny story to this one though. See, I was sitting at the table so I only saw the top 3/4s of people. This young woman came with her ticket and as I put on her armband, I complemented her on the 'cute' yellow sundress. OK...move on to the next person! Later, I had the opportunity to do a 'walkabout' and my view of the person and 'cute little sundress' took on a totally new view when I saw the complete person. Imagine what it feels like wearing gladiator shoes up the leg!!
Of course, I stopped and chatted them up and asked 'Can I take a picture of those 'cool' shoes"? It's always a compliment to the individual and she was no exception.
So have you been out and about with your camera and noticed what people are doing or look like and the most important part - have you taken the time to stop and tell them what you see and how great they are? If not, DO IT!! It's fun and even more importantly, it MAKES THEM FEEL GOOD!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Jim Six and the City Limits with Special Guest Jon Mollenhauer!!

Without a doubt, Saturday May 16, 2009, was a red letter day in Pitman!! See, being a MOM is one of the greatest gifts that has been bestowed on me and raising this spectacular person is something that Bill and I are so proud of. The gift expanded when Jon arrived Wednesday night for a two week Spring visit to Pitman. He always has several focal points to his visit. One is spending time with 'the parents', a second is quality friend/music time with his friend Greg Potter and also their buddy Jim Six playing music for all of us to enjoy. A third is food.

Yesterday was the Spring Craft Show and Earth Day Celebration. Jim Six had arranged to play for the event with a band of his favorite friends/musicians and including Jon, special guest from Japan on the dobro. The weather was perfect and the outdoor venue in Ballard Park was a true celebration. The guys played for more than an hour - many original Jim Six songs - and there were lots of Earth Day prizes for everyone and a giant birthday cake as well. You can see some of the day's food on Jon's blog including the pulled pork sandwiches he and Bill had and the vegetable pannini from Ground House that is my favorite.
The Photo Schmoozer had a grand time 'schmoozing' with people all day long - old friends and some who instantly became new ones.
Just being out and about with friends and family (sister Lisa and niece Rebecca were here too!) brought lots of songs of joy to my heart.


It's been awhile. Actually I think in some ways, since I started my new job and also had the surgery on my foot - both within a few days of each other, I have withdrawn from acknowledging what in life brings me JOY!! Why is that?? I have had to focus so much on healing and 'doing what the contract says we can and can't do' that I have NOW ALLOWED myself to experience life as it presents itself EVERYDAY!! Then Spring has emerged and the buds have popped up on the trees and on the shoots coming up from the ground and I have had to BE STILL and PAY ATTENTION. Last week, feeling rather low, I picked up my CanonS5IS and headed out to sit down in the dirt and look. I felt a calmness come into my spirit. No, it did not cause a permanent shift, but it did cause me to be IN THE MOMENT and that was wonderful. It focused my mind and offered me so many opportunities to realize that my life is filled with GRATITUDE and GIFTS. I am thankful and say so all the time. I realized that there are two favorite things that bring me joy with the camera:
1. Going to the HEART of the flower. I sit and go within the flower - right to
the center and it feels so right!!
2. Going out and finding people and getting into being THE PHOTO SCHMOOZER.
There are so many people out there with stories to share and I have been
missing some of them - actually a lot of them.
3. Taking pictures of people and their SHOES!! Each person is so unique in
what s/he chooses to wear and share and present to the world.
So first allow me to share my 'going to the heart'. Then I will write another blog and share more.
I promise myself and my readers that I will not be away again for any length of time because it does NOt feel good and I find great joy in sharing with all of you the POSSIBILITIES of what happens all the time.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Silly Sarah

Sarah is only 8 yet with the presence of someone so much older. She is poied and conversatant, adorable yet silly too. This evening she was wearing her very favorite hat and just sitting doing her homework. Well...she wsa supposed to be doing her homework but she was watching as her mom and another guy were working to teach themwelves fractions!! I asked, "Whose homework is this anyway. They clearly said, "Sarah".

While she was waiting for her papers back, I asked Sarah to pose for me and make whatever kinds of faces she chose. Some are her very special smile, some rather goofy but my only request is that she changes faces. That she did. I can't say that I would call them portraits of a young girl, but her story is to be told and here she is. Sarah writes poetry too and a few weeks ago at the Open Mic night at the Bus Stop cafe, she walked right up and read and explained how she did it.
The Photo Schmoozer just watches and waits and then chats before the camera comes out. There has to be some relationship building first and then respectfully, you have to ask permission too. No stealing shots!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Out of Hibernation...Happy Spring!!

Nothing for months and then two in one day!! It's been a strange past few months. I started a new job in early December and had my foot operation four days later. In my infinite 'wisdom' and with a tad of impatience (I have been told that this is a personality characteristic of mine), I expected healing to happen within WEEKS of the surgery. I called the doctor and they told me it would take the same amount of time to heal as I was wearing the boot. Still going after all this time. Monday I am going to visit and see what is going on. I need some explanation. So with trying to figure out the work, healing the foot, and winter and the ice and cold that came with it, I truly believe I went into some kind of hibernation mode. Top that off with an incredibly limited travel budget and working from home, my office here has been my haven, my retreat, my cave, or whatever else we might want to call it. Then just a few days ago, the temperatures went into the mid 60s, the sun came out with a bright beauty and I stepped out!! I was called to go and see what I could find. I am the Photo Schmoozer after all. So me and my trust Canon SC5IS (I am still waiting for the SX1 to come to the US), just went out to be still and look for signs of Spring.
What SIMPLE TREASURES we discovered together. I am sharing them with you in one of my favorite formats - the collage as story. There were brilliant purple crocus with the deep orange yellow center; some buds on the hydrangea(though we have only had leaves from this plant forever), rose bushes with leaves and of course the potting soil and tools that is for starting the seeds and cultivating the garden. As I just stood still, a crocus bud too revealed itself to me - white with purple lines. It almost ended up beneath my foot!! My foot and I still feel like there is some stagnation within (doing some acupuncture and chinese herbal treatment for this), there is some residual anxiety from all of the hibernation and uncertainness of life and the blossoming that has to come with Spring - the new beginnings and the changes that will bring things to life and their infinite beauty. It's a special time for photographers to just go and be still; see, find beauty in the little things, and continue on the adventure. If you don't look for it, it will often find you.

Age is Irrelevant!!

To the Dump! To the Dump! To the Dump!! Ever hear the advertisement on your local radio station? Well, we did and they were advertising BEDS, the newish NASA ones that forms around your body and then comes back to its original shape. We read reviews and talked to a few friends who had bought the name brand one. They said it was great. So, to the Dump!! What an experience for a shopper, for The Photo Schmoozer and someone who is looking to find just about anything in the way of furniture and bedding. We slowly made our way around - being still, going quietly and just seeing what was there. At the back of the store, we found a double recliner chair and sat to regroup before moving on. After a few minutes, we were approached by a kindly white haired 'older gent' who asked if we had found what we were looking for? We said, not yet and asked him to guide us to the beds. We went on a slow stroll with Jack. Now imagine this. This low to no pressure salesperson has been in the business for 60 years and is now 87 years young! His wife died 12 years back, so he asked why bother just sitting around the house?!? We followed. He found what we wanted and we discussesd options. Jack made clear suggestions and made sure to say, "You don't need to buy new box springs. You could put this on the floor." What a relief and what a savings. We laid down and tried several versions and made our decision. The firm would do! Time to pay and Jack had me typing all of the information into the computer for him. Just easier for each of us. Now, the coolest part. We did NOT need delivery (saved another $100+) because this mattress comes in a box that is 18 inches wide, 12 inches deep and 6 and a half feet tall!! WE could come within the week and put it in our van to go home. That we did the next week. When we got there, we found that there was even more of a sale and we got a $225 credit on the price we were to pay!! Again Jack was there for us. He definitely was thrilled when I asked to take his picture and just showed this Photo Schmoozer that age is irrelevant. Attitude and spirit are what matter. Another sterling example of taking the time to talk and listen and gather stories.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dylan Shares His Delight

He's young; he's becoming a musician; he's filled with memories that he loves to share. Meet Dylan. I did. Once again, I discovered that everyone has a story to share and Dylan was no different. I had seen him earlier in the day outside in the sun at the Bluegrass festival at Albert Hall, in Waretown,NJ. He was wearing a black and white cowboy shirt and a knit cap that sat close to his hear. It was a strange combination of clothes and wearing apparel. Later, during the break, as the sun was streaming into the entrance area of the hall, here he was again, but with a giant spanking brand new black cowboy hat. Now the outfit was complete. The best way to get to know someone is to start with a compliment and that I did. I love that shirt. I bet you have a story about it?!? It seems that it was a Vintage 70s shirt that had belonged to his dad. The real beauty is the memories it evoked for Dylan because his dad had died when he was 5 and this was a piece of him that he could hold on to! His dad was a guitar player and Dylan has been learning to play so he could follow in his footsteps. He was shy and we didn't get to talk much, but I was so grateful for the pieces that he did offer me. He was definitely a bright spot in my day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Are YOU Wearing Fendi??

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It all started with a whif! For many years, I worked with a woman who wore Fendi perfume and when I was around her, the smell instantly gave me a headache! The same thing happens with those beautiful pink lillies that everyone just 'loves'. But I digress. Sunday we went to Albert hall in Waretown, NJ for a Bluegrass Festival. It was a day filled with traditional and modern music and so many talented musicians. We reacquainted with our son Jon's banjo teacher (it's been 20+ years since we last saw Bill Green), got hooked into having a hot dog with the works - the sauerkraut just 'called to us', and enjoyed the outdoors. This Sunday was like Spring. We were outside during the break and my nose sensed...FENDI!! There were several women standing near me and I asked, "Is one of you wearing Fendi?" One of them said, "Yes, it is the only perfume that doesn't bother me!" Oh my goodness!! I said it really bothered me and her friend said the same. We began to talk. It started out with my bracelet. Allison had been a rep for a number of jewelry lines and she recognized the artist who did mine. One thing led to another and Rita mentioned "Jon". I asked if her 'jon' might be a Jonathan. She said, "Yes, why?" I said I have a Jonathan who is Jon. Then Allison said that she did too!! I asked them if they were Jewish. I am and something about them told me that they were. Of course they said YES. We could have gone on finding more and more things in common, but the music was about to begin and we all went back inside. I never found them again to finish our conversation. But once again as The Photo Schmoozer, I did 'my thing' and strangers became instant friends! Imagine what it would be like if I just stood there and looked at people and never talked to them. Don't be shy friends. If you are, then life passes you by!!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Habitat for Humanity Volunteers

Stranger #5 - though I could count them as two? Our town has a "Restore" - a store for Habitat for Humanity. It's a second hand place with furniture and lots of other 'stuff' to buy to raise money for Habitat. Yesterday's outing took us there and we found a wonderful cream leather chair. As I was resting in it, waiting for Bill to pay, I saw this young man sitting on a nearby couch. Then I looked up at the woman standing near him. Gosh I knew they had to be related! Since she had a name tag on, I knew she was volunteering there. We started out by talking about the comfort of the couch and just kept going. Annette and her family are the lucky recipients of a Habitat house that is being built for them. One of the requirements is that you must work on your house. In the warmer weather, they helped dig for the foundation, but now that it is cold, Annette asked if there was something else she could do. YES, you can volunteer in Restore. Later when the house gets framed up and enclosed, they will go back and paint and do other inside work. What else?? Well she is a phlebotomist at a local hospital. Found that out when she asked where I had my surgery- not the same place. She has been doing it for awhile and really likes what she does. The biggest challenge of the work is to be able to spell what she does!! And the shy boy? He wants to be a professional football player. If that doesn't work out, he wants to work with animal rescue. Lucky for them - their new house is being built right near the county animal shelter and Amin is going to get a dog from there when they move in (though he says it is going to be this week...hmmmm) All you have to do is smile at someone; they will return the smile, and the conversation flows from there!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Buddy Fries Bologna!!

It all started out as a Saturday morning trip to the grocery store. I'm still healing from my foot surgery (maybe 2 more weeks with the boot) so I got to have a blast and toddle around the store in one of their electric carts that turns on a dime! It is my second experience and I think I still have to go back for yet one more. It offers a different perspective on life from a different level and angle. When we were in the frozen food section, i spied a box of creamed chipped beef. Oh my goodness did it bring back memories. I looked at the ingredients and decided we needed to make our own "healthier" recipe. Off we went to the meat, cheese and dairy aisle looking for the package - IF it still existed. It was there!! While I was sitting and looking at the different brands, I realized I was blocking this guy from buying his choice of bologna. "Oh, am I in your way?" "No, I can reach it." He started telling me that I should eally be buying the bologna because there was NOTHING better than a fried bologna sandwich. I grew up with fried salami, but bologna?? It turns out Buddy does all of the cooking in his house and his two kids, Ruby Marie and John Tommy, love this sandwich. I commented on how lucky Buddy's wife was and he shared that he was a stay at home dad and had been for 11 years and absolutely loves it! How the rest of the conversation came about, I don't know. Turns out he loves music and goes to any festival in the area that he can find. Now he has taken up a new hobby - building guitars and has just completed the first one for his son. bill shared how he is thinking of building a stringed instrument from a cigar box and the videos hehas found on You Tube. then we talked about musicians and we just had to tell him about Home Made Jamz, the group we met who make their own instruments from car parts. Turns out Buddy lives in our town - we gave him our email and yet another stranger could well turn into a friend. It's amazing what can happen when the Photo Schmoozer says HI (anyone can do it!!). When I talk about the 100 strangers project on Flickr, people are fascinated and want to share. No problem friends. Just don't be shy!! Studs Terkel always tells us that everyone has a story to tell. Just have to ask...and then be willing to listen. Give it a try. You will be surprised!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bobbie...and the Necklace: Shining Stars!!

Flickr is always creating new groups and inviting folks. This time I joined the 100 strangers project and well, it fits the Photo Schmoozer temperament!! Last night I was able to get out and go to a Crazy Quilt meeting to see my friends. When I walked into the room, I was immediately attracted to this smile and of course, the necklace!! I went right over and introduced myself to someone who was new to me. Meet Bobbie!! She is FUN and full of stories about her life. Where does one start?? Many years ago, she attended Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) and majored in criminal justice. She worked in the prison system locally and thought, there just had to be more. to join the Peace Corp and head to Micronesia. She was posted to "Truck" - the state, that is as big as Texas with a land mass the size of part of Rhode Island. She worked there in the prison system with sex offenders and was able to use her training as well as her skills with hypnosis to work with the prisoners. She also married a native!! When it was time for their child to be born (Matthew is 21 now), Bobbie taught her friend hypnosis for the birthing. She figured out she couldn't do it for herself. She stayed for 10 years and then moved back to the states with Matthew - his mom describes him as a talented musician!! She shared stories about so many other things too...she reads palms and has been doing so since she was 18. She has done firewalking and has been trained as a Reiki practitioner. And of course, she is a quilter. Her sister is the current coordinator of the S.Jersey Crazy Quilt group. I know we only touched the surface in our conversations for several reasons - we were in the midst of an 80th birthday celebration for our founder, we ran out of time, and Bobbie is a great facilitator and listener - and she asked me as many questions as I did with her!! We have only just begun, and imagine, I am only at #3 of my hundred strangers project!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Healing Takes Time and a Team!!

I know I always say "Don't leave home without it" - the camera I mean. The only time I had to break that rule was when I was scheduled for surgery and you can be sure that the camera was NOT sterile and would not be allowed in the operating room. Besides, I had blocks and general anesthesia. Guess they thought I was 'too chatty' and decided to still me so that I wouldn't want to be a part of that team. Yesterday was different and I put Baby Fuji in my pocket for the adventure. It was time to go and see how the healing was doing. GROSS!! I only selected a few pictures because the others are NOT for the faint of heart. They actually make me feel queasy when I look at them!! The whole team was there - Danielle took off the boot and unwrapped the dried bloody caked bandages. Then the foot was cleaned off and Dr. Daniel (in the tie of course!!) came in to check on his work. He liked how it was healing. Next step was for DuBrill, the great 'tech' to come in with the scalpel and the scissors and cut out the stitches. Finally, they showed Bill and me how to take care of the foot with new bandages and wraps - and the BOOT! It is front and center for another three weeks. The beauty now...I can take it all off and TAKE A SHOWER!! It has been three and a half weeks. NO, the camera will NOT come into the shower with me. This is all a blessing and having the Photo Schmoozer camera with me was certainly a great distraction from feeling him cutting the stitches away! Yeah for the camera!!! Thanks too to my healing team. It definitely happens together and the body plays a major role in that tool.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's a New Day...a New Year!!

To me roses are soft, gentle, beautiful to look at, touch and smell, and a magnificent representation of life in its glory and simplicity! I am sitting here now smelling their gentle fragrances on this, the first day of the New Year! Do I have resolutions? Do I have wishes? Do you?? As I reflect, I believe that I can honestly say that my wish for 2009 personally, is that it be as wonderful as the previous year. For the world, I have hope and courage that we will work together to realize that what we need is unity and love, a shared sense of purpose and a wish for a solid secure future for our children. As Barack and Joe are about to take the train ride from Philadelphia for a celebration to include ALL of the people, may we join together in wishing them well. Their task is not easy, but I like to think of it this way:
"We may not have it all together, but together we have it all!!"
I look around my little world, I look out into the bigger world, and I am filled with sunshine, hope and healing. Blessings to all.