Nathan & Elise

by Ellen in , , , ,

I love photographing my friends. A couple months ago I got to do some photos for 2 of my dearest friends, Elise and Nate, who you have seen before in other photos on this little blog. You've seen Elise with Luna, and Nate usually playing music: here, here, here, here, here, and here. You know their story, but in case you missed it, here's the short of the long of it: they are two of the kindest, funniest, most generous, welcoming, and brightest humans that I have the benefit of spending precious time with and they have decided to commit their lives to each other FOR.EV. ER. They love each other very much, and spread their love around so everyone else can feel love, too. And then there's Loonie, the dog-child, who is the luckiest of all. She gets to add more humans to her family whose world will revolve around her. You can tell she's excited. It is a gross understatement to try and express how wonderful it is that these two are joining their lives and families and friends together. To say the love (and hilarity) is abundant doesn't even scratch the surface.Thank you, Elise and Nate, for picking each other and for sharing yourselves with all of us (especially me). And for being beautiful.

I Won't Give Up

by Ellen in , , , , , , ,

So last week I went to visit Elise and Loonie and Grace at Yale! New Haven is beautiful, and so is the blue house. We had a lot of fun. OK OK OK OK OK I went because I won this THING and the biggest perk EVER was getting to stay with my BFF and my sweet first girl doggie.

Here is what happened:

I entered this contest that Jason Mraz was sponsoring and I ended up being 1 of 25 grand prize winners! Grand prize=a 20x20 CanvasPop canvas, a gallery event at the AFA Gallery in NYC, and meeting Jason. Now, all of that sounded pretty good to begin with to me, but it far exceeded my dreams and expectations. As an artist, you really are just lucky to have any exposure (no pun intended, I swear) at all, but this is HUGE. The gallery was beautiful, there were tons of nice and interesting people there, and boy oh boy, did I feel exposed. Might have had a small attack of nerves before we went in.

Elise and I took the train from New Haven to the city and got in around 4pm. We headed straight to the MoMA to see our dear friend Claire (through whom I live vicariously) because she works there and left us some tickets at the info desk. We went immediately to the 3rd floor to see all the photos, then to see all my other friends like Picasso and Van Gogh and Monet and Rousseau, and then swung by to see Diego, and then scooted out the door with Claire and we all got on the subway to have a quick drink before the event.

We are walking, there are tons of humans out because it's 65 degrees in March in NYC and it could not have been a better day. We all decide that we just love each other too much and don't want to have to part ways. I was told I could only bring one friend, and I have more than one friend, so I say that they will not be able to refuse all 3 of us at the door (they didn't). We are approaching the gallery, and we see alllll these people in a line outside of a building and then realize that they are waiting to get into the gallery. There are way more people there than I had expected in my head and I don't think I really want to go in there. Elise tells me to pull my shit together and I sort of do, and she has already told Patrick at the front door that we are here and may we please get in. Then we go in and there is my photo hanging right next to all this work by Dr. Seuss, which was really fun and cool. We mingle, Elise and Claire snack on the delicious food:

I cannot eat because I'm REAL nervous and then I start chatting with this lovely girl, when a cameraman appears behind her and she whips out a microphone that says NY1 on it and they ask if they can interview me. I go over and stand next to my photograph and I even have to spell my last name for posterity and everything and she interviews me. I hope I sounded smart, because after I'm done with that, Claire tells me that NY1 is like the Action News 5 of NYC. Awesome. We're mingling, I finally get brave enough to bring out Fitty, and am taking some pictures, when ALL OF A SUDDEN Jason is here and everyone is smiling.

We all kindof squish to the front and he is standing so close to me that I do that thing to him where I pretend to squeeze someone's bottom (friends, you know what I mean). It's funny because everyone but him can see me do it, but I'd really just like to squeeze for real. I didn't, don't worry. So this one guy says thanks for coming and yada yada yada and then Jason says a few words of thanks and stuff and then tells everyone he's going to talk to all the winners and then he's just standing there awkwardly by himself while everyone is just looking at him. So I say loud and proud, "I'LLGOFIRST. I mean, no one else is going..." and I hand Fitty off to Elise and elbow my way through to Jason, this lovely man who I've been waiting to meet for 11 years.

After the Best Hug Ever, he asks my name, and I tell him and then introduces himself as Jason to which I reply, "Really?" and we laugh like we've been friends forever. I think he is glad to have someone to talk to, and he wants to know about my photo, so I tell him about Shelby and Brian and how special they are and this wonderful interfaith marriage that they're having. He thinks all of that is neat. He wants to know what I do and where I'm from and stuff like that. He has turned his back on the crowd, so I do too, and we talk quietly together (he's one of those people that is a close talker AND a low talker, but also helps other people do that, too. Not such a bad thing for me to talk quietly every now and then, I suppose). When I am talking, he is looking at me and nowhere else, and he has this really great calming energy about him that I've really only ever experienced with priests and other pastoral characters.

I thank him for helping me not to feel nervous, and he smiles and inclines his head towards me (I really wanted to fold my hands together and say "Mariska Hargitay"). He also has been lugging around this weird bottle of purple juice and I ask him, "hey, so whatcha got there, big guy?" and he does the hottie half-smile at me and takes a BIG swig and says, "pool water", and I say, "Right. Is it so delicious?" and he says, "You bet." But not in a Tool Academy sort of way. He says things in a playful and silly way, like we already have a joke. I feel like he does these things with everyone, which is why he plays so well with others. I tell him, "don't worry, I'm not going to ask for any. I wouldn't want you to worry about germs...."??? Who am I?

Anyway, it feels normal enough for me to ask him to sign Katherine's birthday card, so he opens it before reading it, and I take it out of his hands and say, "WAIT. You have to read it first, silly. It's HILARIOUS." He says whoops and reads the card, and agrees it is hilarious and then writes Katherine a sweet little note. Then it seems the time has come for him to sign my photo, so we survey the situation together. We wonder if we should take it off the wall, and then he pulls out like 7 paint pens and sharpies out of his pocket and holds them out and says, "the people gave these to me, but I don't think any of them work." They don't. We figure out a solution to the problem and find a sharpie that kindof works, and he take my canvas down and looks at it a little closer and tells me how much he likes this one. I am stressed out that he will want to sign on the front, and so I voice my concern, and he looks at me and says, "Don't worry, I don't want to sign the front of this. It's your work, not mine." And so I say thanks and he turns it over and I ask him to write a note to Shelby and Brian because it seems only natural since the photo is of them.

While he's writing, he says, "Oh shiiiiitttt. Sorry my handwriting looks like a 1st grader's." I tell him not to worry and that I think he has lovely penmanship and he laughs at me again because I'm totally lying. He is done and puts my canvas back on the wall (Matthew noted from my pictures that he hung it back up crooked). At some point he touched me on the arm and kind of nudged me with his elbow, but I'm not really sure why or when because I was only thinking about the fact that he is the cutest and nicest boy who has ever touched my arm and was not listening to his words. While we were saying our "nice to meet yous" and stuff, I thanked him profusely for this and that I was overwhelmed with gratitude. He smiled again like we knew each other and thanked me for my work and we had a lingering handshake and then I took off.

Oh, I can't forget to mention that all the while, Elise is somehow EVERYWHERE being the paparazzi. I use it as plural because she might as well have had 800 arms and eyeballs. She's the best.

Also, I told him my name once and he continued to address me by it for the entirety of our conversation. There are people I see everyday who don't even know my last name. I like this about him so much because I'm a name rememberer, too.

Then I was done and ate tiny hamburgers, made friends, one of which came up to me and said, "You're the girl from Tennessee who writes about God!" I was SHOCKED and thrilled, but mostly taken aback. My new friend Carrie is 9 months preggo with a sweet baby girl. She was also a winner, with a photo she took of her really small boy and really tall husband at the beach. It's lovely. She let me rub her belly, her husband told us she was on Martha Stewart's Apprentice, and we just all had a great time chatting. Reallllyyyy neat human who lives just around the corner from Jason Mraz in San Diego, but flew all the way to NYC to meet him.

I got interviewed by a few more people, took my photo down, and got to meet up with my longtime SMS pal Lucy! It was very fun, and we got back on the train and spent the rest of the time playing with Loonie and Elise and taking walks and eating delicious food. It was the greatest 4 days ever, and that's mainly because of the humans involved. Thank you, my dear friends, for helping make all my dreams come true. The grace is so abundant that I'm overwhelmed with being thankful.

Loonie wanted to eat those swans.

My favorite day at church

by Ellen in , ,

OK, so I just now figured out a way to upload my photos to my blog. Before, it would take FOREVER because the files are so big, but I have found a way around it, and from now on, I will be blogging like a crazyperson.

Anyway, today was my second favorite Sunday on our calendar (second only to Palm Sunday, which is my first favorite): The Feast of St. Francis. I mean, if you've ever read this blog, you know why it's my favorite. I LOVE ST. FRANCIS.

AND it means all the doggies get to come to church to be blessed!

Which means I thought about and prayed for this sweet angel ALL DAY(which makes it no different from any other day, really):
Please excuse the our rush to document how Luna likes to use humans as an arm rest, it came out a little shaky. But I love it nonetheless.

I know Elise was out of town this weekend, and I kept forgetting to remind her Auntie Grace to take her to be blessed since she didn't get blessed last year because Elise and I were both out of town. She needs to be's a very special day in an Episcopal doggie's life. Like Confirmation, but slobbery-er.

I miss my girl!

I NEVER bring my camera to church unless asked by someone at the church to take a few photos, but Fitty couldn't bear to miss out on seeing so many kids and doggies all in the same place, and hopped into my bag.

Sitting pretty.
Little girl, you better gimme that...
Woof, biotch.
Kiddies and kitties!
Does this face look like someone else we know?
Manning the table.
I LOVED this doggie's face. He is beautiful.
Bahahahaha. Cats are mean.
Except when they're kittens. I don't care who you are, this is the cutest thing ever.
I loved this girl.
Old doggie who would roll her eyes when all the other doggies were barking when the choir sang.
I just thought this was funny.

I loved St. Francis Day in San Francisco!

Next adventure: Tomorrow, I'm biking across the Golden Gate and up to Tiburon. I haven't actually ridden a bike in the real world in about 2 years. Spinning classes count as riding a bike, right? Well, pray I don't fall into the bay or off the side of a cliff. Hundreds of people do this everyday, certainly I can, too. Don't worry, I'll show you the pictures.

Also, I have a ridiculous project due on Tuesday. I'll post here when I'm done with it.

My favorite girls

by Ellen in

Last weekend, Elise, Loonie, and I went to Shelby Farms to do some mother-daughter portraits in the sunflowers. Well, it was really hot outside and everyone was sweating profusely. Of course, Loonie looked beautiful in the sunflowers...the yellow really brought out her angel wings...and her tennis ball.

Yes, I'm still avoiding thinking about the fact that Elise and Luna are leaving in like 32 hours. In 9 days, we will be on opposite coasts, the farthest we've ever been away from each other. Sooooo that's pretty weird. BUT we're going to be fine, because they will always be my family, we're just doing really cool things separately, but together. We'll videochat and see each other over Christmas, and I'm going to ride back to Yale with her and Lu in January and then fly back to SF to be back for school, since I start a week after Yale. Funnnnn and lots to look forward to!

So, here are some of my favorites from our very sweaty 30 minutes in the sunflowers:


by Ellen in

Luna loves to have friends come and play. For the past 10 days, her friend Lady has been staying with us, and her parents might not get her back, because I want to keep her forever. Taking these photos was quite an accomplishment, because every time Lady sees anything that looks like a camera, she runs away or turns her back to me and sits down. It's a good exercise in stealth and patience for when I want to work for Nat Geo. See how much Looney loves her?

Elise's mom has a new pup named Ginny. Ginny=Ginny Weasley. Luna=Luna Lovegood. They are destined to be best friends and leaders in Dumbledore's army. Anyway, she's precious and I'm cool, can't you tell?


by Ellen in

So, Loonie has been doing funny things since the day we brought her home, when she was a mere 4 weeks old. She liked to fall asleep in really small spaces, pee on my bed, and do somersaults while little-barking at the doorstop in our old house. We call her Luna, Looney, Lu, Looney Toon, Tooney Town, LuLu, Little, Baby Angel, Angel Butt, Sugar Foot, Loonie Lu, Looney Girl, Muffin Angel, and Luna Lovegood. Believe it or not, she answers to it all. She calls me Auntie Boo, and no one has EVER asked me why that is, even the people who don't know that Elise and I have called each other Boo since high school. Not exactly sure why/how that started, it is just a normal thing for us, so naturally, Loonie would call me that, too. It seems fitting nonetheless. Anyway, here are some funny things she's done. I'm sure that other people's dogs have done funny things, too, theirs just isn't as well documented.

She used to just nod off and random times in weird places...
like, under furniture with just her nose poking out, the
tiny space between the couch and the wall, or half inside
half outside her house.

The first night we got her, she snuggled in the smallest space she could find.

She was so little.

An eighth of the size she is now.

She loved it when her Uncle Will tortured
her when she was little.

And she sat funny.

And snuggled in more small spaces.

Easter is her favorite holiday because she loves Jesus and Easter eggs.

I'm such a vicious creature!

She loved to lick her mom in the face.

She also loved to pull Winston around.

And be dragged around by her duck.
When we had a shower curtain, she liked to
try to get in with us.

The path of destruction: dismembered bunny, conquered dragon, pee on the floor, nap time.

She would get mad at me for sticking the camera in her face and she would try to hit me.

She liked to attack Zoe.
She likes to sing to us.

Her first time swimming was an interesting day.

As you can tell, she really loves it when Elise is on her.

And brushing her teeth...

Oh, the day she got her girly parts out. She had to wear the cone of shame.

She also really loved her birthday hat.

Loonie, you're the best doggie in the whole world.

worst nightmare

by Ellen in ,

I had the worst nightmare ever, and I've never done this, but I woke up CRYING. It was terrible. I don't have nightmares, but if I did, this would be the worst.

I dreamed that I was at this house in Cordova, and I'm not sure whose it was, but there everyone brought their Elise and me, my sister, some friends, people from church, etc. All of these dogs were playing and hanging out in the house, in the backyard, in the front yard, everywhere. Can you see where this is going?

So, everyone is hanging out, playing with puppies, and Luna is in the group that is in the front yard. She gets really dirty and gross, and I tell her she can't come inside, because she'll mess the house up. She says OK and sits on the front porch until the party is over. I go outside to check on her a little while later, and she is GONE.

I'm frantically searching for her, running up and down the street, calling her name, and she is NOWHERE to be found. Then, this young priest, Jacob, that people have been trying to set me up with comes along in his church van, and asks me what the problem is. I tell him, and he and his bodyguard (not sure why he has a bodyguard, but he did in my dream) drive around the neighborhood looking for Luna. The sky is getting darker, and this man that I had just met at the party comes outside and is helping me find her, too. Then his mother comes out, looks at her son, and tell me that she might know where Luna is.

OK, be careful, because it gets pretty gruesome. I'm not kidding. Elise, you probably don't want to read this part.

So I follow them to their house just down the street, and they have one of those fancy stainless steel refrigerators, and the freezer is a drawer that pulls out. In the freezer, I see all of these body parts, and I'm completely terrified, even though Preacher Jacob is with me. But these body parts are DOG body parts, and they start to pull out all of Luna's pieces. I'm in total disbelief that it's her, so they show me her torso, and I can tell it's her by the scar on her belly.

These people think it's no big deal that they've just killed and dismembered Luna, and shut the freezer, telling me there's nothing I can do about it.

So, I leave their house, and I'm totally undone, because I just saw my favorite animal's body parts in a freezer, and I'm crying hysterically. On the way back, I see my friend Bill and tell him about Luna, and he just shrugs. I tell him it's my fault, and he says it's no big deal. I'm telling everyone I see that if I had just let Luna inside, then she wouldn't have gotten stolen and killed. I'm completely disgusting with tears and sadness, and I make it back to the party to break the news to Elise. She's in mid conversation with someone, and gives me a strange look because I'm so sad-looking, and I tell her what happened. She looks at me like, "so what?" and I tell her over and over how sorry I am. She doesn't think it's a big deal at all, and I'm freaking out even more, because I just killed her dog, and she's not upset about it.

So anyway, I woke up in tears, and now, this is what Luna and I are doing, because I feel so bad about killing her. Looney, I am very sorry and I love you very much.

Here is one time when she was little and we snuggled:


by Ellen in ,

I think 24 is going to be a good age, and it will certainly beat 23. Although there were some really wonderful things about 23. Here is the one that really sticks out in my mind:

One word--Luna.

When Elise and I are old, and we still have pictures of Luna in our separate houses, (who knows how far away from each other. I don't even want to think about it) people will ask us, "When did you get this sweet precious angel puppy?" And I'll think fondly of the time when I helped Elise raise this puppy, and misty-eyed, say, "When I was 23." Because who knows how outdated these photos will look, and 2009 will seem like forever ago. But the best memories from 23 have a common denominator: Luna. Of course, there is no Luna without Elise, so she's there, too. Here's our last photo together of 2009. Sorry I'm poking your eye out with my glasses, Boo. They're hard to control sometimes. Here is what has happened so far for 24, and it's giving me a great mindset and feeling of belovedness. Well, last night wasn't so good for our Tigers, but I think it's because no one told them it was my birthday the next day, so they had a little less motivation. A snapshot from last night. It was packed:

Lost by 5. Pierre dislocated his finger. Angel Garcia looked uglier than usual. Horrible.
First, I woke up to a note form Luna on the bathroom mirror...on my car window...and on the doors going into work! No telling how many people saw it and marveled at her beauty before I did. Everyone thought it was hilarious, and I'm still not sure when Luna learned to type, print, drive, AND tape things to other things. There was also one on the salad bar at lunch, and then on my computer when I went back to my desk. She's a sneaky little booger.
And then Heather walked in with this:
From "Ollie"/ Hayley the Hilarious. It's self-explanatory.

And then I got these from a secret admirer. Just kidding, they were from my mom. They are beautiful!
And Heather and Ed got me a pedometer so I can track my mileage when I run! I'm so excited about it, I can't even tell you. Very thoughtful, those two.

I have felt very loved and special today, and it always feels like I don't deserve it. Well, I don't. But I'm so grateful for all the little and big things, and I have a peaceful, excited feeling about 24. I like even numbers. But if today is any indication for what the rest of 24 holds, it will be full of great food, wonderful friends, silly things that Luna does, love, flowers, and exercise. Woohoo!

Looney WINS!

by Ellen in

We won a photo contest! Not the big one we entered, but a little one I entered. The theme was "Best of summer Photo". $60 prize=not too shabby. Here is the photo that won:

Way to go, Looney! We are always so proud of her. She is a very smart girl. Right now, she is at Dogs Rule playing with her friends and being the nicest, sharingist, loveliest puppy that all the other puppies look up to and want to be best friends with. She'd be happy to, of course, but she's always so busy jumping into water and lovin' on her BEST best friend, Maddie Arehart. Here is a picture of the two of them:

Isn't Lu so beautiful and majestic when she's naked? Anyway, Luna loves Maddie, and Maddie makes her smile. And as you can see, Maddie is the cutest thing in the whole world. They love to do things together like shred newspaper, eat an entire bag of pita chips, play "treasure hunters", and surgically remove the innards of elephants (see dead elephant in the top left corner of photo. I shouldn't say "dead elephant." It's a very sensitive subject for the Memphis Zoo lovers) and ducks. We love it when Maddie comes over to play.

Anyhoo, we are always proud of the Lu, and she gets bigger everyday. Her head looks like it is shrinking, but that's only because her body is growing so fast that it can't keep up. Her brain is pretty big though, don't worry.

YAY, Lu!

OH, AND we went to an engagement monsoon for our SMS lifer-friend, Blair. Blair is awesome, and she is marrying Tom, who is her twin. They will look exactly alike when they get old. It'll be great. It was an interesting night: driving to Rooster Poot, getting a speeding ticket, the sky opening up and pouring, and having a fun mini-reunion with friends who are like sisters. It's always so weird when we get together; we all have the exact same childhood memories because we spent 8+hours a day and 5+ days a week together for 14 years. If you add it up, it's over 20,000 hours and over 25oo days together. We know all the same people, had all the same teachers, swam in each others' pools, went to each others' birthday parties, were there for all the big milestones. I'm so thankful for these people, and I think it is so awesome that we can continue to celebrate more big milestones for the rest of our lives. Some people think that going to an all-girls school is dumb, but they just don't know. We have seen each other at our best AND our worst, and still invite each other to our houses so many years later. And it has been a wonderful thing to be a part of this support system that has arisen for our friend who is sick, but getting better. Everyone has rallied around her, and it's been amazing to witness. You can read her story here.

Anyway, to think of what we looked like 10+ years ago, I'd say we've come a long way from holiday sweaters and stirrup pants. I love these people. It's a rare thing to not see a person for awhile and to be able to pick up where you left off, so I don't know what you would call it to be able to do that with 61 people. Here we are (thanks Laine, I lovingly yoinked your picture):

Hot Spot Fund.

by Ellen in

OK, so today, Heather sent me a link to this photo contest, and told me I should enter it. So, Elise and I are going to enter it, but we need some help picking out some photos of Luna and/or Winston and/or Zoe. If you click on the link, you can go look at the photos of previous winners, and see what you think. They must a: be of your animal. b: photographer=you. c: have some sort of artful quality. d: be awesome.

We're going to enter the Pets and People and Pets categories, and you can submit as many photos in each category as you want. Some of them are humorous, some are pensive, some are just so great. Oh...we also have to name all of our photos. I'm bad at this.

I feel like maybe only 3 people read this, so tell your friends. We'd love to know what you think: total winner, awesome, delete,

TOMS commercial.

Snow day

Luna sleeps.

All Fours.

Pensive? I was going for thoughtful.


Luna's stamp of approval.

A little nervous.

New Friends?




I want YOU.

Off into the sunset.

THIS way.

Dual hydration.

Best friends.

Learning some good tricks.

The world is her oyster.


Thanks! PS. We win $1000 if we are a grand prize winner. If we are a finalist, we win $500. That's pretty good, and it's all going to go into the "hot spot fund" ie the fund we have if Luna ever gets sick. spots. Her scratching has been very expensive.