At last, spring is emerging, although we hardly have had time to notice. On Monday, the gardeners will arrive to complete the work we began five months ago - removing trees and weeds and creating a calmer, more zen-like space. Before-and-after pictures coming soon...
My apologies for my absence - both on the blog and in responding to your kind emails and messages. It's a bit hectic here: trying to improve my juggling skills, but repeatedly dropping the ball. Must do better!
If you've wondered about the difference between the often-used generic reference to "Holland" vs. "the Netherlands," this clever video offers clarification (for the record, we live in the province of Noord-Holland, in the country of the Netherlands).
This "cheesy" bicycle is on permanent display on a bridge in Edam, Noord-Holland (its decorations are refreshed each season). On Monday, I was in Edam buying cheese for my daughter Jordana's Easter package (photo taken with my phone's rubbish camera).
"It doesn't look like a hospital, does it?" That was the initial reaction of a Dutch friend, who recently accompanied me to the hospital to see David. He's right: the glass balls suspended from the high, industrial loft-like ceiling are more akin to an art gallery than a hospital, creating a cheerful atmosphere. Photos (taken with the phone's camera) are of the main entrance at AVL, the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam.
When we moved to our Dutch canal house two years ago, after walking through the entryway, this antique French cupboard was the first thing you'd see. But the cupboard didn't agree with the house's modern architecture, so more than a year ago - after removing the sunburst windows and drawers for a future project - I replaced it with a George Nelson bench. But that seemed a bit too "art gallery-like" for the space; eventually it was moved elsewhere, in favour of a late 1950s/early '60s Dutch low sideboard.
The white strip below the sideboard is where the painter forgot to replace the wooden baseboard; must remedy that soon! I often switch the photographs and art above the sideboard, but my collection of mid-century graphic pottery (Anton Piesche, Germany) remains - for now!
Quite the contrast from the top photo, isn't it? The current look is more my style. I like simplicity and clean lines, with one focal point providing a bit of punch or drama. I strive for the "less is more" look, but rarely achieve it. Our house is an eclectic combination of antique and modern furniture, art and treasures collected on my travels.
Since leaving Paris, I've sold nearly 250 antique and vintage items (keeping only my favourites) and purchased some modern design classics. The biggest expenditure has been on lights from Denmark, Sweden and Finland - seems the further north you move and the colder the climate, the more light is needed (or maybe it has something to do with age).
Which look do you prefer??!!
Kathmandu, Nepal. Click image to view detail.
No person in any city or any country should have to beg for food. Yet too many people are going hungry or barely subsisting, largely due to job losses and government cutbacks. In 2014, charity-run food banks in many countries report an increased demand for their services - both for soup kitchens where meals are served daily and for local food banks, which provide basic groceries for the needy.
Where governments have turned a blind eye, charities, churches and individuals have stepped in to help fill the void. The United Kingdom recently opted out of the European Parliament's fund to provide food aid to those suffering extreme poverty, depriving UK food banks of £3m of much-needed resources. In London, the Cameron government claims "food and material aid measures are better and more efficiently delivered by individual member states through their own social programmes." Yet the UK government undermines its own stated aims with inaction, obfuscation and denial. Several out-of-touch Tory politicians - including Lord Tebbit and Edwina Currie - have gone on record claiming there's "no need" for food banks and that those who use such services are scroungers, spending their meager grocery money on other things.
Faced with a government in denial of food poverty - now a bigger public health concern than diet, according to one public health specialist - too many people are forced to turn to food banks. And these food banks are operated largely by charities or compassionate individuals, not poorly-funded local councils.
David Walker, a Church of England bishop writing in The Guardian reminds us of Archbishop Desmond Tutu's words: "When you've fished enough people out of the river, it's time to take a walk upstream and see who's pushing them in." "And what seems to be casting people in ever increasing numbers into the waters is less a matter of specific policies and more about Britain's scapegoat culture," Walker said. "We've got to a point where it is widely believed that it is better for 10 innocent people to suffer than for one individual to get away with cheating the system."
Children going hungry
Sound familiar? Similar scenarios are playing out every day in the United States, thanks in part to certain privileged members of Congress voting to cut foodstamps and slash benefits - even as more and more people become unemployed and struggle to survive. Like certain Tories in the UK, these wealthy Congressmen falsely believe that those who are struggling are either "lazy" or drug addicts. They refuse to accept that wrong-headed government and corporate decisions help perpetuate the vicious cycle of poverty, hunger and ill health that grips at least 16 percent of the population.
Alas, children represent a disproportionate share of the poor in the United States. In 2012 the US Census Bureau reported that one in five American children live below the poverty threshold (just $23,050 for a family of four). A 2013 UNICEF report revealed the United States has the second-highest child poverty rates in the developed world (only Romania fares worse!) And if children are hungry, it stands to reason they may have difficulty concentrating on schoolwork and learning - dramatically affecting not only their health, but their future prospects.
Recently in Utah, a school took away 40 to 50 children's lunches, because their parents' payments were in arrears. In Texas, a boy's breakfast was tossed in the trash, because he lacked 30 cents to pay his account balance. In Ohio, Maine, Massachusetts and New Jersey similar disturbing incidents have been reported.
In Kentucky, more than 40 students in the Kenton County School District were denied lunch during state testing week, because their accounts were overdue. This sorry episode prompted one parent - appalled at the school's harsh treatment of students - to pay $56, so that no students would miss lunch. Good samaritans in other towns also have made blanket school lunch payments, so that no students go hungry.
But in Minnesota, some schools send children home with the words "MONEY" or "LUNCH" stamped across their hand! Apparently it's not enough humiliation that children with unpaid accounts have their lunches thrown out; they also have to be "branded" for all to see!
"I believe that as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." - Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
What is wrong with our societies if so many people no longer have the basic assurances of food, shelter, health care and education? Since when did we applaud corporate-backed politicians who react with disdain and disrepect to ordinary citizens facing extraordinarily difficult circumstances? When did our moral compass start to slip, with those with money and power - the "haves" - supposedly deemed more deserving of attention (and food) than those experiencing difficulties (the "have nots")?!
We can challenge these cruel inequities. We can donate funds or food, as well as our time and energy. We can get involved with local charities and food banks that are working to make a difference. Maybe we could even start a food bank in an under-served area, as several admirable people have done in England. To find out where help might be needed most, contact your local town hall or council or consult these sites and links:
In the United States:
In the UK:
In the Netherlands:
Technorati Tags: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, BBC Panorama, Bishop David Walker, Church of England, David Cameron, Edwina Currie, European Federation of Food Banks, European Parliament, farm subsidies, food banks, Foodbank Amsterdam, foodstamp cuts, Guardian, human rights, hunger, Jr., Kenton County School District, Kentucky, KICI, Les Restaurants du Coeur, Lord Tebbit, Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, Nepal, photography, poverty, Robert F. Kennedy, The Trussell Trust, Tories, UK, UNICEF, US Census Bureau, US Congress
Leaders from 53 countries are attending a nuclear security summit today at The Hague (Den Haag). Earlier, US President Barack Obama - accompanied by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan - visited the Rijksmuseum, its tunnel pathway lined with more than 34,000 tulips. President Obama particularly admired Rembrandt's masterpiece "The Night Watch."
Photo of wooden clogs for sale in Edam, Noord-Holland.
Thursday was a rare sunny - and super windy - day, so David and I went for a hike at Het Twiske, a nature preserve in Noord-Holland. It was the first day in a couple of months that David's been well enough to go for a long walk.
A house is framed by open cattle gates at Het Twiske.
An afternoon nap (photos taken with a long lens, so as not to disturb the sleeper).
Cyclists and horseback-riders taking advantage of bright sunshine and warmer temperatures.
Hiking to build endurance and stamina.
An ancient tree bearing tiny buds, ready to burst forth for spring.
Reeds blowing in the wind.
These photos are from just a small area of Het Twiske. The preserve includes a big lake for sailing and swimming, picnic, playground and recreational areas, a cafe and a windmill, among other attractions.
P.S. If you maintain a blog or website, here's an article you may find relevant: The big steal: Rise of the plagiarist in the digital age.
A green field beyond a wicker fence and flowering tree, Froxfield Green, England.
Farewell to Tony Benn, a man of great character, who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of many, many people.
Tony Benn: A Blaze of Autumn Sunshine
Just before Christmas, I referenced a BBC Panorama documentary about the appalling manner in which Amazon.co.uk warehouse workers are treated. A woman of my acquaintance announced she would no longer have anything to do with me, as I was "always so angry." At first I was offended by Fiona's remark, particularly at a time when both my father and my husband were seriously ill. Then I realised Fiona doesn't really know me, nor does she appear to have much compassion for others. And she was trying to silence my voice, as she preferred to hear only "happy things" in her self-imposed comfort zone.
I hope I never stop being outraged - or trying to do something - about the inequities of this world. Tony Benn and his anger at injustice and inequality and his determined efforts to help others made a huge difference in Great Britain - and far beyond its borders.
As a child, I learned from observing Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Morris Dees that individuals working collectively can help change things for the better. As an adult this lesson of activism and social responsibility was reinforced by Tony Benn, the late King Hussein of Jordan, Nelson Mandela, Sen. Bernie Sanders and other courageous leaders. And I believe we have a moral imperative to speak out, wherever and whenever injustice thrives.
Tony Benn deserves our gratitude for crossing vast political divides, shining a light on injustice and championing the rights of those less fortunate. May his legacy long inspire others to follow in his footsteps and/or blaze a few trails of their own.
Listen to Tony Benn speaking to filmmaker Michael Moore about the National Health Service.
Technorati Tags: BBC Panorama, diarist, Dr. Martin Luther King, Great Britain, health care, human rights campaigner, Jr., King Hussein of Jordan, Labour politicians, Michael Moore, Morris Dees, Nelson Mandela, NHS, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Social activism, Tony Benn
Remembering Alene, whose welcoming nature, kindness, humor, strength and determination long will be remembered. Alene was a remarkable woman who came late to our family, but made a big impact. She died Wednesday at the age of 93.
As a former nurse, Alene touched many, many people's lives. She left behind a big extended family and numerous friends and admirers. I am so grateful to have known her.
On Wednesday afternoon, these flowers - along with a very fine bottle of French wine - were delivered for our neighbours. As they were out of town, I had no choice but to remove the paper wrapping, put the flowers in a vase and admire the intriguing combination of blooms and branches. Of course I couldn't resist taking pictures of such an exotic bouquet! (Click the image to view detail). Needless to say, the neighbours were delighted to return home to such a lovely surprise.
A parcel from York, England arrived, containing ink bottles in soothing shades of teal, blue and green. The nine glass bottles vary in age from late 19th-century to the 1920s. It must have been a pleasure writing letters - or books! - with ink from such lovely bottles. These little beauties are encouragement to practice my penmanship (like in the second grade!). Hmm, must buy some ink.
There was a time in New York when I eagerly awaited letters from a beau, who hailed from an exotic foreign clime. He penned frequent and multi-page missives, in green ink on heavy vellum stationery. Sadly, it seems letter-writing - particularly in ink - is a lost art.
The Mabie, Todd & Co. Ltd. Swan ink logo.
Meanwhile, one of our two resident swans honoured me with a late afternoon visit.
This exquisite antique altar cloth was bought at auction when a convent near Marseilles, France closed. Nuns made every single tiny stitch of this extraordinary cloth with reverence and love. The pristine white linen cloth features thistles, leaves, grapes and other elements of nature. The cloth was draped over the altar in the nuns' private chapel. Click image to view detail.
The double-reed gyaling, a woodwind instrument used in Buddhist ceremonies and an elaborately carved and gilded cabinet and altarpiece center a Tibetan Buddhist temple in Kathmandu, Nepal.
This temple is frequented by members of the Tibetan community-in-exile.
A statue of Buddha, wearing a golden headdress adorned with coral and turquoise stones.
Light from a high window shines on a silk fabric panel.
Remember the childhood tongue-twister "She sells seashells by the sea shore. The shells that she sells are seashells?..."
A shelf in my office displays a small collection of shells, sea urchin spines and sea creatures in French antique specimen globes.
My friend Gabrielle created this gorgeous bouquet of coral and shells in an antique French urn (photographed at her newly-renovated chateau near Versailles).
"One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can only collect a few. One moon shell is more impressive than three. There is only one moon in the sky.”- Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
“There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily and so do dreams and hearts.” ― Neil Gaiman
Photo of man building a cupboard for his home, Bungamati, Nepal.
These unique pieces of Art Nouveau-inspired jewelry were created by Annelies Schroder of Delft, the Netherlands. The silver necklace (top photo) echoes the organic, flowing lines of nature, celebrated by the Art Nouveau movement. But the green stones and rough, unpolished crystal drops give the design a modern edge.
The pendant necklace opens to store a love note or emergency cash. The decorative silver band around the center is enhanced by a blue topaz and moonstone and may be worn as a ring. A small moonstone-and-silver half-moon amulet dangles from the pendant's base.
An abundance of goodwill
Thank you for the many lovely, thoughtful messages while David has been hospitalised. Your kind comments, emails, good wishes and heartfelt prayers have meant more than you might imagine. Last week was spent in crisis mode; thankfully, David is better now, in the sense that treatment is underway.
The road ahead ventures into unmapped territory. But thanks to brilliant doctors and excellent medical care, we remain optimistic.
Thank YOU for your support and encouragement! I have tried to reply to most messages, but if you haven't heard from me yet, please forgive the delay.
Painting the Art Nouveau metro sign at Bastille, Paris. Click image to view detail.
It's always disappointing to find negative stereotypes perpetuated by someone using uninformed and inaccurate information. So when a French newspaper asked me to comment on these assertions, I was happy to oblige. Read my response in Atlantico.fr here.
(If you don't speak French, Google translate will provide the gist of the remarks).
P.S. Thank you for the many messages of support regarding my husband's health. We really appreciate your thoughtfulness and your kind words. And I'm happy to report that my dad is back home after his latest surgery and hopefully, on the mend.
Today marks 8 years of blogging: 2,500 blog posts; thousands of photos; many friendships. Thank you for being so supportive and encouraging along the way. Merci bien. Heel hartelijk bedankt. Muchas gracias.
The storms we're experiencing are figurative, not literal. In the span of 12 1/2 months, my previously-healthy husband has endured 4 unrelated illnesses; 3 surgeries at 3 hospitals and 2 sirens-blaring ambulance rides. Yet just as in a memorable childhood book The Little Engine that Could, the train's still steaming down the track.
How does one absorb each body blow, the latest diagnosis the most threatening of all? Soon there will be more surgery in Amsterdam, to remove a tumor-riddled kidney and try to halt the advance of an aggressive, fast-growing cancer. Just three months ago, there was no sign of an invader. Now this brutal occupying force demands our attention.
Steam train on a rainy day, Watercress Line, Aylesford, England. Click photo to view detail.
As if that weren't enough with which to cope, my dad in the US has been very ill and still is recovering after major surgery. (Update Jan. 30th: Once again, he is in the hospital and having more surgery). Earlier this month, David and I were discussing me getting on a plane to visit, when the doctor phoned to say a routine blood test suggested kidney damage. A brief hospital stay for more tests followed. Then late Friday, the unwelcome news - just when we'd almost managed to convince ourselves that David's health woes had vanished with the horrid 2013.
"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength." - Leo Buscaglia
Throughout these long days and nights, there have many whispered prayers; occasional tears and far too many fears. I've been grateful for the love and support of family and friends. And through it all, hope has remained by my side. It is a constant presence, like a slow-burning flame illuminating the way through darkness. Yes, sometimes the flame flickers and seems in danger of going out...but then it seems to catch itself and once again burns brightly.
Things I've noticed in this chaotic year of sands shifting beneath our feet:
Optimism is a gift. And language is never a barrier to kindness.
When health is an issue, everything else simply falls by the wayside. Our world becomes smaller and more focused, with clear priorities. We have so little control over what happens. But we can control how we react to unexpected challenges. And we're always stronger than we think.
The wonders of modern medicine and techological advances are astonishing. We are fortunate to have brilliant doctors and excellent health insurance (despite the bureaucratic challenges in dealing with Dutch medical care and French insurance).
We have some amazing true friends that I am proud to know. It seems we also have quite a few fair- weather friends: friends who have been guests in our home in both France and the Netherlands; friends we helped when in dire straits or facing serious illness; friends whose business ventures we supported wholeheartedly; the same "friends" who haven't bothered to send so much as an email or Twitter message. (Suddenly my address book feels a lot lighter)!
We are lucky to have possibly the world's best neighbours, who collect the English patient upon his release from hospitals and shovel snow from our front doorstep and sidewalk.
Time is finite; don't take a single moment for granted. This is not a dress rehearsal; live now. Travel. Try something new. Dance. Sing. Ride a bicycle. Read good books. Tend a garden. Do the things that make you happiest. Don't worry about the small stuff, which really doesn't matter.
The beautiful things that grace our homes or the stylish clothes we wear are of little consequence. Icing on the cake, yes, but not the cake. Cynical marketing and advertising-based ploys such as "likes" on Facebook or gaining more followers on Twitter are artificial measures that sap our time and energy. Truly. (Tell me what you think, after seeing the film Her).
Embrace what's real, here and now. Hold your loved ones close. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and bring out the best in you. And take care of yourself; nothing trumps good health! (And that's enough platitudes for one day).
The international charity Oxfam has released a shocking report indicating that just 85 people across the globe control a combined wealth of £1tn - as much as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world's population combined! This letter from Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, addresses the widening economic disparity in the United States:
As I sit in my office looking out at the church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached during the civil rights movement, I’m reminded of something he said that addressed longstanding attitudes about the plight of America’s poor:
“It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps,” Dr. King said, “but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.”
His words are particularly relevant today – 50 years after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty. Johnson’s initiatives have helped millions of Americans, including our senior citizens, stay afloat by providing a floor of support for nutrition, health care, and other basic necessities.
But today, during a period of income and wealth disparity not seen in nearly a century, what we’re seeing is not a war on poverty, but rather a war on the poor.
We’re being told by many politicians and pundits on the right – as they seek to shred our country’s safety net – that the poor, in effect, deserve their fate, that the jobless are lazy and don’t want to work, that immigrants come to our shores for handouts, and that the sick and the elderly should fend for themselves.
Meanwhile – as economic gains increasingly flow to the rich – poor and middle-class Americans are falling further behind. In 2012, for instance, the wealthiest 10 percent earned more than half of all income.
Something is terribly wrong – and getting worse. As the Associated Press recently put it, “The gulf between the richest 1 percent and the rest of America is the widest it’s been since the Roaring ‘20s.”
At the SPLC, we’ve always been concerned about poverty. Indeed, it’s in our name – the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In the earlier days, we fought in the courts to help poor, minority communities get their fair share of public resources and services. More recently, we’ve represented some the country’s most marginalized people – the exploited migrant workers and immigrants who labor in our fields to put food on our tables.
Right now, we fighting for disadvantaged children in Alabama’s impoverished Black Belt region who are trapped in failing schools while the state provides tax breaks to families who are able to send their children to private or successful public schools.
Our mission is to be there for those who have no other champion.
At the time of his assassination, Dr. King was in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers and was organizing a “Poor People’s Campaign” to call attention to poverty and economic injustice.
Today, we need to rededicate ourselves to Dr. King’s dream of economic justice and to helping those who are “bootless” in our country. America, he said, has “the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.”
Technorati Tags: Alabama's Black Belt, Dr. Martin Luther King, economic injustice, economy, gap between rich and poor, human rights, immigrants, Jr., migrants, Morris Dees, poverty, President Lyndon Johnson, public resources, Southern Poverty Law Center, war on the poor, wealth
Charming ticket collector on a rainy day, riding the grand steam train Lord Nelson, Watercress Line, Aylesford, England. This gentleman closely resembles my late grandfather Monette Bradford.
"I met a lot of people in Europe. I even encountered myself." - James Baldwin
So happy to see Jordana's work today on PBS!
My favourite swan in "our" canal. Click photos to view detail.
Serenely gliding along the surface, while furiously pedaling beneath... Perhaps a metaphor for the moment, with my dad in the hospital in the US and my husband in hospital in the Netherlands.
The two swans and their (now) teenage cygnets arrived in "our" canal on New Year's Day, their first appearance since last summer, when the cygnets were just a day old. I'm choosing to view their auspicious return as a good omen for 2014, with good health and happiness topping the agenda!
Here's hoping for smooth sailing ahead!
19th-century French leather-bound books and a single, perfect rose.
So goodbye 2013 and not a minute too soon! Because you have knocked us for six. You've brought scary challenges we never wanted and required strength beyond measure. You've put ugly obstacles in our paths and scuppered our best-laid plans. You've caused anger and resentment and chaos and exposed worry and dread. Many of our best and brightest are gone too soon. You've made us re-examine our dreams and question the reasons for optimism.
Still, I personally should thank you for all the super-annoying lessons: for the ambulance-lights-flashing wake-up calls and being forced to improvise, time and time again. For traversing complicated bureaucracy in two languages (one which I don't yet speak). For the reminder that when confronted with conniving charlatans - who steal my work and threaten my livelihood - I can fight back. (And right is might). For requiring a laser-like focus on priorities of good health, family and friends. For the proof that no matter the challenge and accompanying uncertainty, we can rely on limitless reserves of inner strength. Love is stronger than fear.
For these important lessons, I salute you, 2013. Now go away and leave us in peace!
Not exactly a reindeer, but he'll do... Happy holidays from my family to yours. See you in the bright and shiny new year!
David and I made a quick dash to Edam for some peppery cheese and festive cheer. Every time I visit, the larger bike is painted/decorated in an eye-catching manner (reflecting the season). The smaller bike is a new addition to the bridge.
Note the tiny chandeliers and birdcages - and peacocks adorning the bikes! Click photos to view detail.
Growing up in the South, I never thought of stalks of cotton as a seasonal accent!
A winter wonderland window display, dusted with "snow."
A fresh, (mostly) natural Christmas wreath.
Mistletoe tied with red ribbon and a star made of tree branches.
Rich colours combined in a giant stoneware pot outside a private residence.
A narrow bridge that lifts for passing boats.
The view from the bridge.
I won't get to see my beautiful daughter Jordana on her birthday today - alas! I'm sure she'll be having a wonderful celebration with her friends. And I'm grateful she was able to visit us this fall, en route to the US after a business trip to India (note the henna pattern on her hand). In this photo taken at an historic windmill at Schemerhorn, Jordana was still smiling - even after an overnight flight from Delhi and little sleep!
Happy, happy birthday, dear Jordana! May this be a year bursting with creative challenges and opportunities, prosperity and much happiness!
Alas, it's not I who has embarked on an around-the-world journey. But my photographs travel so far - often quite unwillingly, I might add - it's impossible to predict where they'll end up next!
For instance, remember this photo, taken on a cloudy day in late June, 2009 at the Westerstraat Market in Amsterdam's Jordaan?
Stella Marinazzo has stolen the photo, removed my watermark, digitally sharpened and darkened the colours and added a black border - then posted it on TrekEarth, claiming it's her photo taken in Brindisi, Italy! That's willful and deliberate copyright infringement, as well as theft!
Stella Marinazzo even copied the title "Diversity" and the Algernon Black quote from my original post containing the photo. Talk about nerve!
The Google Image search page for my photo:
Remember this June, 2007 photo of my friend Sophie Pretalat's brocante gems at Bastille, Paris?
Here's the photo's latest incarnation, as a blog banner:
And from the same Paris Parfait post, this person grabbed my photo, posted it on her Flickr page, then claimed the photo as her own!
The company StudyBlue used my copyrighted photo of a Claes Oldenburg sculpture in Philadelphia on art history flash cards that it's selling and marketing online! StudyBlue willfully and deliberately violated my copyright by cropping the photo and removing my watermark.
Since I filed a formal DMCA Cease-and-Desist notice with its site and server host, the company has made the online document featuring my photograph private. However this does not mean the photo has been removed from the flash cards they've produced and continue to sell. I intend to pursue this company via all legal channels for unauthorized commercial use of my copyrighted photo. Not one person at the company has bothered to contact me to try to resolve the matter.
A radio station used my photo of Frankie Dettori riding Authorized to victory in York, England, but removed it after receiving my DMCA notice.
A German site has used another photo from the same series:
And a French site used several of my copyrighted images from Hippodrome de Longchamp, Paris, but removed them, following a DMCA complaint.
Another person who's claiming my work as his own via his Picasa album:
Colorado State University-Pueblo used my photo of baguettes in Paris on their website (but removed it, after I filed a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice. No apology).
Here's a Canadian realtor using my photo from a boulangerie in Boulogne-Billancourt, France to sell a business. My DMCA cease-and-desist notices to both the realtor and the site and server host have gone ignored).
A blogger has cropped my photo of red Chanel shoes at Chanel, Paris and used it in her blog header:
And here's yet another person on Picasa claiming the same copyrighted photo as her own:
Two teachers used my photo of the Liberty Bell and a steam train in York, England on their education websites (but took them down, at my request).
Hey Lady, a clothing company in California has used my photo of vintage French shoe lasts and tapemeasure in the opening slideshow of its business website. Update Dec. 18: The site and server host removed the photo, but I am invoicing the infringing company for unauthorized commercial use of my work.
California Snow has used my photo of melting snow on pine branches outside my Paris apartment on their business website (and thus far ignored the DMCA Cease-and-Desist notice):
The same photo was used without permission by Thompsons Landscaping to advertise its services.
Another company in Rosemont, Minnesota used a photo from the same series for its business website. The photo has been removed, but I've invoiced the company for commercial use of the photo.
The same photo was used in three You Tube videos, which were removed, after I filed DMCA takedown notices.
A man in Spain hijacked my original December 2009 image of a Christmas window display at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York and added a semi-clad female figure:
A company in Russia is using my picture of antique Tibetan prayer manuscripts (that I own) for marketing:
Here's a screenshot of the Google search page showing the same photo, used repeatedly (without permission or credit) on site after site:
Expat Rent Amsterdam used at least four of my copyrighted photos of Delft, the Netherlands on its commercial website. While my photos were removed following a DMCA request, my invoice for unauthorized commercial use of my work - sent eight days ago - has been ignored. I've sent a second invoice and will involve a local copyright lawyer, if necessary.
My photo of a carousel at Boulogne-Billancourt, France on a photo site in Chile:
The company Style.AZ in Turkey has refused to remove my photo of aqua Chanel shoes, despite receiving a formal copyright complaint.
My copyrighted photo of lit candles at Swayambhunath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal is posted without authorization on this site in Japan:
And a Google search shows four pages of sites which have used this photo without permission or credit (on Tumblr alone, it's been reblogged over 10,000 times, with no reference to the original source!)
Despite filing a DMCA complaint and sending numerous emails in follow-up, this "Wedding Dresses Photos" site refuses to remove my copyrighted and watermarked photo of a mannequin in a Paris department store vitrine:
This is just a small sampling of numerous annoying copyright infringement cases I have to deal with on a daily basis (most photographers are facing similar copyright infringement issues). It seems copyright law is a foreign concept to these individuals and sites, no matter where they're located!
It also appears that the simple courtesy of asking permission before using someone else's work has fallen out of fashion. These individuals and companies may find themselves facing legal consequences for their careless attitude of entitlement and lack of respect or regard for original content creators.
Meanwhile, I shall be pursuing license fees from the commercial sites referenced in this post, who have thoughtlessly used my copyrighted photos without authorization or credit.
Technorati Tags: Amsterdam, Authorized, Bastille, Boulogne-Billancourt, brocante, California Snow, Chanel, Claes Oldenburg, Colorado State University - Pueblo, copyright infringement, Delft, Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Dixen Lawn Care and Snow Removal, England, Expat Rent Amsterdam, Flickr, France, Frankie Dettori, Hey Lady shop, international copyright law, Kazooga, Longchamp, Netherlands, Paris, Paris, Philadelphia, photo theft, photography, Picasa, Seashells and Pearls blog, Shang Shung Institute, Sophie Pretalat, Stella Marinazzo, StopStealingPhotos.tumblr.com, StudyBlue, Thompsons Landscaping, Trek Earth, Tumblr, vintage luggage, Westerstraat Market, York
Vintage lustreware tea set from Japan and Mariage Freres Mousse au Chocolat tea from Paris. It's just as delicious as it sounds.
Brocante find: a French phonograph record storage tin.
Modern bird perched on an 18th-century French patterned-glass pedestal bowl, filled with 19th-century mercury glass gazing balls from Paris.
A glittery bird wearing a party hat is handmade by my friend Vanessa. Also pictured are antique French mercury glass candlesticks and vase, a modern mercury glass ball and beaded candleholders - bought at the flower market in 2001, our first Christmas living in Paris - on a Napoleon III tray.
One of dozens of candles burning brightly during the holiday season (wishing for miracles and magic).
“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
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A French brocante find: Vintage hand-tatted lace doll's hat.
My friend Raquel sent this link, which powerfully illustrates that perfection does not exist and that each of us shines with a unique beauty.
And if you haven't read the excellent New York Times series Invisible Child, it's well worth the time.
Dutch ceramic angel.
One of the French cities that I find most charming is Montreuil-sur-Mer. It's old and rustic and brimming with ambience and faded elegance. Montreuil-sur-Mer is one of the few cities in France with its medieval walls largely intact. Here are 50 photos from a recent visit (click images to view detail).
World War I memorial.
See more of Montreuil-sur-Mer's unique beauty:
Some last gasps of autumn, captured this foggy morning on my mobile phone.
These pictures lack the sharpness projected by a regular camera lens, but the "painterly" look also has its charms.
Oh, look! Someone in Russia has stolen my copyrighted photo of a sadu (holy man) in Kathmandu, Nepal. And he or she has used the image on a poster, apparently advertising a tanning studio. No credit to me, of course! (We'll see about that!) Sigh.
Meanwhile, this hoax is a timely reminder that the Internet is rife with tricksters and fraudsters. That old adage "don't believe everything that you hear and only half that you read" is reinforced daily with the proliferation of false and misleading information online.
What's on your reading list this month? I've been riveted by Donna Tartt's new novel The Goldfinch. And after this article, I'm looking forward to reading Waterstone's Book of the Year: "Stoner" by John Williams. If you're a fan of photographer Peter Beard's musings and images of Africa, this book is a fascinating read. In addition to photographs, the book contains collages, diary excerpts and interviews.
Rather than reading, this week I'm busy with Christmas decorations and running last-minute errands, before sending holiday parcels off to the US. Plus, I've been spending hours in the garden (bundled up like a polar bear!), cutting up branches and plants for the recycling bins (in preparation for landscapers, who'll be revamping our garden in January).
Hope your week is off to a good start!
Chatter, French Quarter, New Orleans.
Hope you've had a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving holiday! As the Christmas holiday shopping season is upon us, some food for thought:
'Piracy capitalism' as a business model: A week as an Amazon insider - A must-read before shopping online!
Live art at a New Orleans gallery.
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Woman sifting grain at her family farm outside Bungamati, Nepal.
"From those to whom much is given; much is expected." - President John F. Kennedy
Even in these challenging times, we all have some tender mercies to appreciate. On this Thanksgiving, I am happy that my daughter is able to spend the holiday visiting her grandparents and cousins. And of course I have many other reasons for which to be thankful!
In the Netherlands - where it's not a holiday - we're planning to eschew the traditional Thanksgiving turkey for Rick Stein's spicy fish curry. Since it's proved quite the unpredictable year - with many unexpected twists and turns - David and I are not really in the mood for our usual Thanksgiving turkey, cranberry-and-orange stuffing, roast potatoes and sweet potato pie. After all, counting one's blessings doesn't require a specific menu.
Wherever you are - and whatever's on your table - wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends!