I Love The Night Life

John and I have a connection that makes it almost impossible not to spot each other, even in a crowd. This can make it difficult for me to sneak a shot of him without being seen. A moment or two before he snapped this laughing, ‘Oops, you caught me’ photo, I was crouched in between some of our neighbors trying to get a shot of him with a straight face. I’d taken four or five earlier in the evening and every time I pointed the camera in his direction, he’d pull (make) a face like the one below.

So I set out to stalk him from a distance thinking if I went off to talk with others at the New Year’s Eve gathering, I might double back and catch him unaware.

You can see how well that worked out for me in the photo above. (Double click if you need too) He caught me and then when I laughed about being found out, he took the picture of me laughing and waving my hand in sheepish surrender that you see in the first photograph.

We always have fancy dress themes for New Year’s Eve at our village pub and this year we had to choose something related Nursery Rhymes. Here you see a Grand Old Duke Of York and Little Miss Muffet along with Wee Willie Winkie and the Queen of Hearts.

Here’s another Wee Willie Winkle. Our neighbor Len was going off with his wife Mary to ring the church bells at midnight. It was very dark and rainy which made for an interesting shot.

You may recognize the Three Blind Mice.

We’ve got a spider and a Cat with a fiddle at the table and that’s John to the right with a pint, all dressed in blue with a horn that is more Harpo Marx than Little Boy Blue, the character he chose for the night.

I’m not sure where all that bokeh came from. My lens was clean and it wasn’t in the other shots I took in that direction. I had to use this one because it was the only one I managed to get of John not making a face.








Not everyone dressed up, but I think they still had a good time. Some years are easier than others and I found this one a bit challenging.

That’s Roger behind the bar with Humpty Dumpty on his back. ( I can’t remember why now)

There’s Old King Cole

This strange one came from a distant village and I think has the wrong theme in mind. He looked like the Incredible Hulk with a bad case of chicken pox.

John and I were outside listening to the church bells and kissing at midnight and didn’t get to join hands to sing ‘Auld Lang Syne.‘ 

John WInchurch & Elizabeth Harper January 1, 2012

Here we are after midnight finishing a drink before heading for home. And in case you’re wondering what I came as that night …

Elizabeth Harper - Dressed For New Year's Eve 2011

With all those characters wandering around, I thought there ought to be someone to tell the story so I went as the teller of tales, the reader of rhymes, the great and mysterious,

                                                     Bedtime  Storyteller

Day Nine – My Friends Can Call Me E

Elizabeth Harper - Times Square - December 31, 1994

December 31,1994, it’s New Year’s Eve and I am in Times Square waiting for midnight to arrive so Mayor Giuliani can drop the big crystal ball on the city that never sleeps. In 1994 no one ever called me E. I was always very adamant when asked, ” My name is Elizabeth and no, I don’t shorten it thank you very much! ” Well, I was actually more polite than that, but underneath I always thought if I wanted people to call me something else, I would have told them in my introduction.

For reasons unknown to me, some people would feel obliged to come up with nicknames for me as if Elizabeth was too much of a mouthful and I was usually okay with that as long it was not a generally recognized nickname for Elizabeth such as Liz, Beth, or Betty. I have always liked my name, but have been willing at times to accept a nickname that was more of a term of endearment and specific to me.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve mellowed a good bit in some parts of my life and what I’m willing to answer to is one of those areas. I am not quite sure when I began to feel as if E was an acceptable nickname, but my friend Patrice has called me E  for as long as I as I can remember and at some point in the eight years that I’ve known her, it’s become okay with me for my other friends to call me E as well.

Of course if you’d prefer to call me Elizabeth, I’ll always be happy with that. John doesn’t have a nickname for me and I love hearing him say my name with his darling English accent so I’m pleased that he prefers Elizabeth.

In the photograph above I am perched at the junction of two barricades that actually say, ” Police Line Do Not Cross.” When I look at this picture from 1994, it makes me think of several things, one being how easily I seem to be balanced on the barricade (I’m not sure I could pull that off now) and two, the message underneath me. I tend to read it as, there’s a line with E (me) that one does not cross … which translates in my mind to boundaries.

I can be a bit rigid with some of those boundaries and a barricade of sorts can easily come up if someone pushes too hard or crosses a line with me. For years my name was one of those areas. I was polite but firm in my corrections and pretty much insisted people address me by my proper name.

As 50 approaches, I have to admit that I may be beginning to mellow because Gary (the man who owns our village pub) keeps calling me Lizzie and I am really not bovvered by it at all. I choose to see it as a term of endearment and acceptance into my new community.

Let me add here, while I prefer Elizabeth to anything else it does make me smile when my friends call me E.

If you are late to the party and have no idea what Day Nine means … you can catch up by going here for a quick read.

PS. I just found this photograph from the same night and had to add it to show you a bit more of the city getting ready for the ball to drop. My mouth is hanging open … we’ll say in amazement, but who knows really. Sorry it’s a bit blurry, but it was a pretty big party night.

New Year’s Eve – 2010 Or 1944

It’s midnight and the pub is filled with people dressed as historical figures from the past. Some are clearly in costume while a few are in evening clothes and less easy to identify. Just a few minutes before the BBC radio which is playing in the background announces the beginning of a new year, a group of people I don’t recognize spill into the pub arriving in modern day casual clothing that stands out a bit next to characters such as Robin Hood, Van Gogh, and Amelia Earhart. There’s no time to wonder who they are or to say much more than hello as the voice of the BBC begins to countdown. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … Happy New Year!

People are kissing and confetti is flying and there is an excitement that is familiar and reassuring to one so far from home. From the door where I am standing, I can see people all around the pub crossing their arms one over the other as they reach for the hand of the person closest to them. Rocking and swaying, they are suddenly a body of like minded people as they begin to sing a song I recognize, “Auld Lang Syne.”

I sing along for a minute, one arm over the other, but I let go of John’s hand and I lift my camera high trying to capture a moment I am not sure I will be able to recreate later with words. Watching as they sing, I suddenly feel as if I have been transported back in time to 1944, a feeling so strong that even now days later I still can’t quite shake it. I don’t know why it is that date stands out … only that it does. It seemed fitting to color the image to fit the feeling I have when seeing it.

Happy New Year – 10 Years Ago Today

Ten years ago today people were worried about what might happen as the clocks rolled over into 2000. I had bigger fears than Y2K back then, but even so I tried to focus on the moments and the experiences of my daily life placing more value on creating a portfolio of memories than banking it all for a mega big retirement plan. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done the traditional things as well, investing in property and my 401K, but by far the best rewards in my later years will be the experiences I’ve shared with the people I love.

This was Paris in 2000, with us standing under a damp winter sky in front of the Eiffel Tower where I took my daughter Miranda in hopes of adding to her portfolio of special moments and memories.

Here’s to creating new memories in 2010 and building a retirement fund of a lasting kind … our connections to each other and the fearless pursuit of life worth living.

The Gift You Keep

John Winchurch & Elizabeth Harper

John Winchurch & Elizabeth Harper

Reposted from original GOTJ

Six months ago, if someone had said, ‘ Elizabeth, 2007 is going to end a little differently than you’ve planned, but the new year will bring you an unexpected gift,’ my response might have been something along the lines of … right!  Over the last few years I’d had about all the unexpected gifts I could handle and frankly I don’t do very well when people give me things.

A gift can be a burden when it’s not something you want. I am talking about those kind of gifts that still have a price tag attached to them. You know what I mean … price tags like guilt, as in ‘Don’t you like it?’  Or those that may have a longer shelf life such as, ‘How come you never wear, use, or eat the things I buy for you?’

And because I don’t like to have things sitting around taking up space, I will almost always return something not right for me. Returning a gift is usually considered the worst offense. So given some of my experiences with people and gift giving why wouldn’t I think, ‘Gifts from the universe … no thanks, I’ll get it myself if I want it.’

After all my needs were pretty simple. I had the love and support of family and friends. My marketing position with a hospice organization was providing enough to fund the more creative life I envisioned as a photographer and I was in many ways building a life that was exactly what I thought I wanted.

Things weren’t perfect in every way, but who really expects perfection. With the exception of a less than desirable love life, things were pretty good. Nothing seemed unmanageable and for once it seemed as if I was driving the bus myself instead of feeling like a backseat driver in my own life.

Then on an important night to be out, I stayed in.

Home alone on New Years Eve, I decided to take a look at men on a UK dating site. What could it hurt to have a look? I’m in America and they’re way across the ocean. No problem there, right?  Plenty of time to correspond, get to know one another, take your time, move slowly, hey … developing a long distance relationship could be sort of like having a pen pal. No pressure I thought, in fact it might work perfectly for me because I was usually too busy to sleep, much less date .

And besides, I was absolutely not interested in serious relationship then.

Uh right … I find that words like that spoken out loud or not, seem to work in a way similar to a modern-day love spell. As soon as someone says, ‘I’m happy just dating,’ the man or woman of their dreams appears and dramatically changes the plan they envisioned for their future.

I hear stories like that from time the time, don’t you?  Now it seems to have happened to me. Just when I wasn’t expecting it, this perfect gift dropped into my inbox and into my life.

I think I’ll be keeping this one.