- Ted & Debbie (Photographers)
It’s February. Did you fall from our graces? Did you not receive a Xmas card because you didn’t send one to us? Is there perhaps anger building up inside? We’ve done a Holiday card since the mid 1980′s. Just check out the About Us/ Holiday Card section on our website and you’ll see what I mean. So why didn’t you get one this year. Well, the short answer is we just didn’t send one. We sincerely thank everyone who sent one to us this year. So why didn’t we send one? Well, one might say we ran out of time. One might say we couldn’t come to an agreement. One might say…
It all started a couple of years ago. I was at a Yo woodworking workshop with my friend Jakki at Tortoise in Venice. Sitting next to me was a couple of high school kids who were (how shall I say) talking while carving. They were getting strange looks from most of the other “grown-ups” in the workshop. I thought they were fine. Actually, they were really fun to carve with.
I learned that one of the kids name was Bendow and he was a doodle artist. He gave me his business card and I filed it away in my wallet. Around Thanksgiving, the time we start to think about our holiday cards, I remembered Bendow’s card and thought it might be a good idea to see if he could do a “doodle” of us for our card. I emailed Bendow and he responded, “Sounds interesting! I’ve done some cards for my family over the years and I’d be glad to do one for yours.”
I emailed him a picture of us from the summer and a Halloween photo of the boys on our front porch. I said,”the 1st photo is the only existing group shot of us. You might have to use your imagination for clothes. The second is our front porch/steps if you want some ideas of placement. Oh ignore costumes- this is only for locations. The rest is up to you. A horizontal image works best and please keep in mind this is going out to family so if there is anything obscene it better be really camouflaged. Thanks- And again, we need this asap! Ted”
Bendow said,” Alright cool, I think I can be done before next week. I’m still in school, but I’ll try to do it by the weekend.” Well, the weekend came and went and we were starting to run out of time.
Then on December 6. Bendow writes,”‘I’m almost done. Basically I’m busy with college apps, but I’ll have it to you by Wednesday.”
On Dec. 7. Bendow says,”Okay, basically done, let me know what you think/what you want. ”
Actually this was the second version. This is the 1st version. I don’t know why he thought Debbie’s breasts look like that. Maybe it’s the 5 boys.
Debbie hated the card, maybe it was the breast thing, maybe it was the fact that we looked like Mexican wrestlers- I don’t know. I wanted to sleep on it. I responded to Bendow diplomatically. After all he’s in high school, he’s vulnerable to criticism and perhaps he would get offended, “Hi- Interesting. I was hoping for a little more of he feeling of your business card. Maybe a little less costumes. Your thoughts? Ted”
By December 13. I still had heard back from Bendow. So I emailed him again and said,”Dear Bendow- I hope you didn’t takeÂ offense to my crit. of the card. It was just my opinion. That said, Did you come up with anything more like your business card (which I loved) , less costumey, and at this point it need to say Happy New Years instead of Happy Holidays. Thanks- Ted”
We showed it to some people to get their opinion. Most people said it was pretty strange. One art director said it was amazing. I thought we should have sent it out.
We Never heard from Bendow again. I wonder where Bendow is going to college.
The arrival of December 1st brings the advent calender up from the basement. I made this box in November of 2000 during the Bush vs. Gore election. I mention this for no other reason then to say the radio in my workshop was tuned to NPR during the duration of this project.(I moved on to conservative A.M. talk radio for the past election) Every time I bring it up from the basement I think of that bizarre election.Â It’s a bit crude, clunky and funky but it’s become a tradition in our house. Debbie stays up late to stash little trinkets, clues and holiday riddles and jokes in the wee little boxes. Sometimes the morning brings a chaotic pushing and shoving brought about by the opening of the box. There are inevitably shouts of “It’s unfair”!,” Is this all we get?”, “Do you want to trade? ” We keep on threatening that if the ungrateful behavior continues we will go out to the drugstore and get a store bought calender like I had when I was a kid. I loved that calender.
Kids lose teeth. But wait, they grow back. Some of them at least. So far all our kids teeth have been lost without the help of pavements, baseball bats or skateboards. I found this interesting link to the traditions of losing teeth- it’s loaded with witches, magic and superstitions- When a Catanzaro boy loses a tooth he naturally puts it under his pillow along with is birthday fairy book. In the morning, he wakes up to a little poem penned by the birthday fairy along with a little trinket like a crystal or wooden figure. These trinkets will be put onto a homemade wooden mobile which hangs above their bed. So far 3 of our kids have lost teeth. I made Theo’s mobile this week out of his old Longaberger lunch basket lid which was beyond repair. They take a beating going to school everyday. It’s nice that I can recycle part of the basket.
I put a 1″ long notch in the middle of each cloud. This is where they connect to each other and form the apex for the mobile. Then it’s sand, sand, and sand. First with 80 grit, then with 150 grit, and finally with 220 grit.
Now it’s time to drill 2 holes on the bottom cloud. These I thread with clear fishing line or nicely colored thread. This will enable the mobile to hang at its apex. I then drill holes at random where the fairy trinkets will hang. I usually start with about 10 or 12. You can drill more later if needed. Clean out drill holes with horsetail plant. I learned about natural sandpaper from Yo Takimoto who teaches Japanese wood carving @ Tortoise in Venice. With my index finger and thumb I lastly apply a finish of beeswax and mineral oil, let it absorb into wood and buff out with a clean soft cloth. Repeat this step a minimum of three times.
With the economy slipping into the great abyss here’s a couple of ideas that might just save us all.
1. Bake a loaf of bread everyday. Debbie’s been doing this and I guarantee if everyone does it we will be living in a different world. It is basically an adaptation of the “no-knead” bread recipe from New York’s Sullivan Street BakeryÂ with a few modifications. (It’s Debbie here now with the details) I have found the flour and yeast used to be very important. I use King Arthur bread flourÂ and SAF instant yeast.(which you can buy from the King Arthur site as well or from Surfas. For my 2nd rise, after Â shaping I place it on a greased sheet of parchment paper and invert the bowl over it fro 1-2 hours. I also deviate from the recipe in cooking time. I bake covered at 500 degrees for 40 minutes and uncovered a 350 for an additional 15. Voila, pretty darn good, very easy home made bread.
2. Teaching 5th graders wood carving. There’s something about passing out little carving knives to 10 & 11 year olds and Â giving Â them a piece of plum wood to start their first project with.Â
Well, maybe things like this won’t save us but they will teach us all to slow down, perhaps even stop, Â and start small.