From the category archives:

Family gatherings

Crazy about Collage

by lulujane on July 30, 2009

My first collage was of Joe Dupuis who is the husband of my dear friend Gail.  One of the leagues Joe plays in is the Windsor Essex County Senior Sports Organization at the baseball diamonds at the Ciociaro Club in Windsor.


In fact, at this early exploratory stage, I did two of Joe.

dupuis-triple-panelsm1Then I realized that Hector Marinacci, who coached in the same league where my sons played their first little league baseball, was also on Joe’s team.  So I had to do one for him as a surprise too.


Hector was over-the-top appreciative and has been encouraging me to do more, telling me how much this collage meant to him. He played lots of sports when he was younger and didn’t think he would be playing baseball at this point in his life.


Over the past few years I often visit Rosaire and JoJo’s lovely garden.  It changes with the weeks, with the blooms in season, and I have always been openly welcomed into their well tended, well loved nature space.  In gratitude, I also made a collage for Rosaire.


I was one of six local Special Olympics photographers for the Windsor hosted July Ontario Special Olympics. For a few weeks prior to the event, I attended rhythmic gymnastics practices as well as track and field and baseball. Additional collages follow:





The softball team was coached by Marie Mailloux (top left in image below). This collage was made from photographs at the beginning of the season and illustrates many athletes, some of who made the competition team, and some who did not:


Jim Wright (top left of collage below) was the track and field coach and their collage was also made up of people trying out for the LaSalle Spirit team that would represent the area at the Games.


My niece, Wendy Foote, belongs to the Cedar Island Yacht Club in Kingsville and asked me to photograph a regatta on July 18th.  I ended up making a collage for her husband of Frank’s sailboat ‘Footloose’.


Last weekend, while visiting my friend Betty in Colchester, her daughter Shelley invited us to dinner.  I almost always have my camera with me and can’t resist the allure and invitation of a lovely garden.  Hers was no exception. Within the next few days I will present her with a gift collage, topped by a photo of her husband Bill and daughter Faith.


I am also a friend of Shelley’s sister Carol.  Last September Carol invited me to a beach party/appreciation day/pig roast. I took many photos, and when transferring them onto my computer, inadvertently deleted them from my SD memory card.  One of my Special Olympics photographer friends, Darren, met me at Taloolah for lunch the other day and brought his laptop with retrieval software and was able to bring up the lost images.  I was relieved, particularly because I remember being conscious of wanting to get good photos for her. Yes… it follows that I created a collage for her of this event.  It shows the care she took in preparing her outdoor spaces for her guests.


All of this…. within less than the past two weeks. Passionate, driven, obsessed?  Likely they all fit for the time in which I was creating these pieces of art.

And then there is golf:


I am realizing that the possibilities are endless.

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The gift of family

by lulujane on June 19, 2009


Yesterday I went to my granddaughter Krista’s grade school graduation.


When reviewing my photographs this morning I felt a bit overwhelmed with emotion.


The beauty of working with these photos is that, each time I bring one up on my computer screen, there is the face of someone, or more than one, person who I love.


After a couple of hours of this I am proud, grateful ….


and I am filled.

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Lucky me

by lulujane on June 7, 2009

This is a photograph taken by my daughter-in-law, Jhoan Baluyot-Lucier, at my family retirement party last June.  Me in the centre, surrounded by my five sons.   Tom is wearing the blue CBC t-shirt, counter-clockwise to Rodd in the yellow hat, followed by uncapped Todd and Mark, and Cary wearing the black cap with his ever-so-cool sun glasses resting on the brim. I am such a lucky mom.


No doubt when the boys were growing up, like me when I was a little girl, I was seeking approval, a pat on the head, from parents, relatives, teachers, etc.  I am becoming increasingly aware that in a lot of what I do now, be it my photography, volunteer work or whatever, the roles have been reversed.  When one of them voices an ‘atta girl’  or a compliment, I know, to quote an old friend “I done good”.  They don’t always compliment easily, but when they do it feels like I have won a prize, and I know I have earned it.

Because of one of them I have this blog.  On my last birthday Todd called me to wish me the best of the day/year, and to encourage me to stretch. He does this every so often. Each of these fine young men is brilliant in his own unique way, with some of their interests and skills overlapping.  Perhaps it is their competitive personalities that help each of them always strive for higher ground. They are good resources for each other.

I think I continually feel pushed, nudged to be a better person, to raise the bar in what I do, because I want to be better for myself, and also for them.  I want them to be proud of me.

I know I am proud of them.

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Life’s miracles

by lulujane on March 22, 2009

On Monday she had an eye exam.  Krista had been wearing glasses for about two years and recently complained to her mother that she was having problems seeing.  On the day of the exam the doctor reported that her vision had deteriorated three steps.  With an updated prescription she went home with a new pair of glasses.  “I can see again”.

On the next day, Tuesday, concerns about her excessive thirst took her to a medical clinic and following tests she was directed to a local hospital’s Emergency Department. This long day was a combination of waiting, tests, more waiting, no food, and more tests.  The diagnosis – Type 1 Diabetes.

Krista turned 14 two weeks before.  She is a beautiful young girl, inside and out.  At the hospital that day hunger dictated by fasting periods for blood work were frustrating.  Her tummy was aching, she was tired and this made her angry.  Having been poked and prodded throughout the day she went home that night with instructions to return in the morning for more blood work to determine blood glucose levels, etc.  More fasting.  In the morning the doctor arrived later than the appointment time and then requested more blood work necessitating a longer fasting period.  Her mom told me that as long as Krista is fed she is fine, so the long periods without eating were hard on her.

dsc_0059xThe greatest portion of the day on Wednesday was teaching and instruction which included body science/biological functions, dietary information,  how to give insulin injections, how to pick her finger and take blood glucose readings. How to adjust the amount of insulin to the blood glucose reading, etc.  This young woman was amazing in her courageous and frustrated acceptance of  being diabetic, and the focused attention she gave to the wonderful nurse educator who walked her through this day with compassion and understanding.

Over the next few days, and continuing even now is expanded and reinforcing instruction with a hospital clinic and staff who are always accessible and only two blocks from home.

This is where I have to mention the angel.  Krista had been experiencing noticeable excessive thirst for a period of about ten days.  On the Friday prior to the Tuesday hospital admission a classmate sitting across from her commented that he noticed she was drinking a lot of fluid.  He told her that he is diabetic.  She didn’t know this.  When she got home from school that day she mentioned it to her mother, who had also noticed this change in behaviour.  Krista had no outward signs of being sick and it was this red flag that got her early treatment.  Her classmate was an angel.

On the weekend I stopped by her house to see how Krista was doing and she wasn’t wearing her glasses.  I questioned why.  She told me “because now I can see”.  It felt like a miracle to me.

Our bodies are amazing machines. In our teaching sessions we were told that diabetes progresses over a period of time, around two years before it may be diagnosed.  Two years ago she got her first pair of glasses.  The nurse/educator told us that as the body works to compensate the decreasing ability of the pancreas to function normally it withdraws moisture from other parts of our body.  This can affect vision.  She also mentioned that once the body is working more normally under the insulin protocol, vision may improve.

The biggest ongoing miracle of all is my granddaughter Krista who walks with courage, acceptance, determination  and grace.

Post script:  A few weeks later Krista was wearing her glasses.  When I asked about it, she told me that the positive change in her vision had been temporary.


Honouring our Veterans

by lulujane on February 5, 2009

Occasionally I have felt nudged to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies at our downtown cenotaph in Windsor, Ontario. In my working life I always had November 11th as a paid holiday.  Particularly because I was paid for this day my conscience made me aware of my responsibility to honour the purpose of the day.  A few years ago I volunteered to help out at an annual veterans’  luncheon. The luncheon was extremely well attended, and I was disappointed that as a volunteer, no specific job was assigned to me.  As an individual who wants to lend a helping hand I felt discouraged.

As November 11, 2008 approached I felt I should be doing something more and wanted to avoid a duplication of my previous volunteer experience at this event.  I thought of a solution and contacted event organizers to see if I could attend the function and take photographs of veterans.  I got an immediate “yes” and in this way had an opportunity to serve our community of veterans.

Jerome Bernard

Jerome Bernard

About 800 people were in the hall when I arrived, seated at round tables of ten.  I moved around the room, stopping at tables to ask “are you a veteran”?  And most importantly, “would you like me to take your picture”.  In all I was able to take individual portraits of about forty-five veterans.  If they were accompanied by a spouse or other family member I also took some group shots.  Within about one week I had done Photoshop work on the photos and had them printed, delivered and/or mailed. In most cases I was able to provide the veteran with a colour photo and also a black and white with the colour brought back into the poppy and/or medals on their jackets.

My purpose in doing this is my pleasure at the joy it may bring to the recipient.  It was joyful to receive unexpected telephone calls, cards and notes to express their pleasure with the quality of the photographs and their appreciation in having the pictures.  One of the gentlemen who called me just happened to work with my father when he was a very young man. This was another bonus for me.


Shamanic Artist

by lulujane on February 2, 2009

Jennifer Joy Daniels.  I met Jennifer at a workshop at Northern Edge Algonquin in September of 2008.  Northern Edge Algonquin is the home and also a place of business for my son, Todd and his wife, my daughter-in-law Martha.  This time my travel north was to attend a shamanic workshop.

Without having met Jennifer I observed her walking on pathways and around the property with a look that told me she had been here before and was comfortable in her surroundings.

Workshop participants were honoured to be in the presence of and receive teachings and wisdom from Mandaza , a Bantu shaman, healer, medicine man from Zimbabwe.  Our circle was comprised of approximately twenty-eight people, the larger proportion of which were women.  When I am travelling alone I often wonder who will sit beside me on a plane or train, and what the significance of it may be.  I watch for synchronicities, coincidence, symbolism.  There were three men in this circle of twenty-eight participants.

When I walked into the meeting room it was almost empty.  There were only a couple of people there ahead of me.  I consciously placed my water bottle onto a backjack seat on the floor, silently wondering who would sit beside me in the circle.  Then I walked to the other side of the room where I became involved in conversation.  By the time the circle convened I found that a man sat on the right side of me. The chair beside me remained empty.

A short while into the ceremony a man and woman arrived late due to challenges with late flights and the long distance they had travelled.  The man seated himself to my left and the woman sat one seat beyond the man on my right side.  The next day we returned to the same seats with the exception that the men switched seats so that the man who arrived late could sit beside his female partner.

It was the following day that I made a startling, to me, observation.  There were three men in the circle, other than Mandaza.  I realized that one man sat on either side of me.  Because I have five sons and for years worked in a  predominantly male environment I wondered aloud about the symbolism of this.  Once I spoke, others in the circle pointed out that the third man in the circle was sitting directly in my path across the large circle.  I pictured this as similar to the point of an arrow, with me as the shaft, and the three men as the points of the arrow.

Jennifer sat in the same circle.  Over these few days I saw some of her paintings that Todd and Martha had purchased. I also saw a brochure that displayed some of her work.  I do a lot of photography which sometimes includes macro images showing intricacies of gorgeous flowers.  I have seen many breathtaking things and still, her art took my breath away.   I immediately knew that she was blessed with an incredibly wonderful gift.  In conversation with her I felt she was strongly connected with spirit and she shared a bit of the process she uses when creating a piece of art.

After I returned home I contacted Jennifer to see if she would do a shamanic journey questioning  the symbolic meaning of the seating placement in the circle.  Following is a description of the journey she shared with me:

I rode upon dolphins back from my sacred entrance and into the middle world leaving a brush stroke of paint as we swam  coming from dolphins tail/fin we first created three points of the triangle in circular shapes one of red, then yellow then blue. We circled in toward the centre creating a vortex of light around a tree, a beautiful tree with leaves of the same colours red yellow and blue. We swam in the vortex around the tree creating sparkles of light…  as sparks and sparkles  falling from the leaves of the centre tree. There was a stream that also circled around the tree creating a circular pond  with small tributaries of water and light to each of the three points of colour there were three small growing trees in the centre of each point symbolizing the supportive growth of the centre tree which I sensed was you. between the centre tree and the circular pond was a meadow of tiny white flowers.

Believing that somehow the seating arrangement and the descriptive journey had special significance for me I excitedly considered whether she would be willing to create a painting for me to represent the journey.  I believe there is something I am supposed to understand, to own, and believe the painting will serve as a reminder to me.

Jennifer and I have talked on the telephone and exchanged emails.  She will do additional journey work as part of the intense preparation she undergoes in the flow of her process.  An introductory view of Jennifer, her education, credentials, experience are warmly described on her website

I excitedly and patiently await.

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Let’s get together, ya, ya, ya

by lulujane on December 31, 2008

lily-10The Iler clan – me and my five brothers and sisters like to get together as a group at least once during the Christmas holiday season.

One of the very special treats – not on the snack table – was meeting nephew Ryan’s daughter Lily for the first time.  Niece (by marriage) Barbara also brought her daughter Brooke who is a delight to photograph.



Family Halloween Party – People and Costumes

by lulujane on November 3, 2008

Sue almost makes me wish I could be a witch if she could promise me I would look that great!

Catching butterfly Jhoan off guard results in catching a relaxed beauty.

Football player, Elephant, Smiling Werewolf and Bartender Diane

Although Michael came as a Pirate, he looks a bit like an Angel.
Michael tired of being a Pirate and Niki obliged by painting him a Tiger face.

I love playing in Photoshop to see what interesting things will happen. Here, Princess Leia poses with her costume made by Mark, hair by Sue – and an ice cream bowl.

Noah looks great in his Indiana Jones hat – way cool!

With this Photoshop filter Cary looks like he came from Star Wars.

Mark and Sue posing with Noah and Alex in their 2008 costumes.

Grrrr – Mark looks a bit like a scary thug.

Princess Leia – Alex is always willing to pose – thank heaven, and she gives me lots of opportunity to work with the images afterward.

Carly and Krista (Elephant and Werewolf) – if anyone can be scary and cute at the same time it is Carly and Krista.

A bit of Vincent Van Gogh and his Butterfly (Tom & Jho)

I have a lot more photos, but this is enough for one day, don’t you think?
Sorry to say I didn’t do a formal costume but when Niki came and I asked what she dressed up as on October 31, she looked at me, and said “just like you – a fitness instructor”… so she called it. I was a fitness instructor at the Halloween party. Next year I plan to be better prepared.