The Great Chopstick Rescue

A few weeks ago I noticed the red lacquered chopstick we keep on the kitchen counter near the French press was missing. It was usually found either on the dish drainer or resting in the press waiting to stir coffee grounds the next morning. Yet somehow it had vanished. We have several multitaskers of this sort in the Everything Else drawer that could serve the same purpose, but I wanted to know what happened to that chopstick.

Several days later, a flash of red in the drain caught my eye.  Upon further inspection, I realized I was looking down the drain at the head of the chopstick. Oh, you saucy redhead! How did you get into that predicament? This case was baffling. I suspected that sometime during the night the chopstick got up the volition to leap up off the counter into the air, and after completing a toe-first dive through one of the six peensy openings in the strainer body, it now rested in the drainpipe at the curve of the P-trap. We’ll never know exactly how it happened, but there it was, trapped with no means of escape, and not on the disposal side of the sink. Oh no, that would have been too easy.


One of the cast of characters in this story

So, how to resolve this?

Solution #1: Call a plumber to disassemble the pipes and remove the chopstick. Ha, ha, ha. Don’t be ridiculous.

Solution #2: Buy long, skinny industrial tweezers and try to grab the head of the chopstick and hope it all fits in the drain hole.

Solution #3: Don’t look at it anymore and pretend it didn’t happen. There are three identical chopsticks in the drawer–just dig out a new one. No one will know and if they do see it, will think that red thing is just a piece of pimento.

Solution #4: Sell the house and move. So tempting…

While most people would have chosen Solution #3 (or #4 if they live in Illinois like we do), that would be my tell-tale heart: I would always know it was there, calling to me. I could not resist looking at it every day. I feared I might someday shriek in the face of a prospective homebuyer, “Get out! Get out now! There’s a chopstick in the sink!” Okay, maybe not, but I also don’t want people to think I’m a slacker who leaves pieces of pimento stuck in the drain. I had to search my Mind  Palace She-Shack for another way.

There it was, amid all the brain lint: The Little LuLu Solution. Like most kids in the 60s, I had comic books: Richie Rich, Barbie, I Love Lucy, Classics Illustrated. (How do you think I got through The House of Seven Gables in seventh grade?) And then there was plucky, resourceful Little LuLu.

I recalled a story where LuLu had lost a precious quarter down a drainage grate. She borrowed a piece of bubblegum, chewed it up and tied it to the end of a string, which she lowered down through the grate and onto the quarter. The quarter stuck to the gum, and she successfully pulled it back up. Genius!

Knowing I needed something much stronger than bubblegum and string, I used a glue gun to place a glob of molten plastic on the tip of a kabob skewer, working quickly to get the head of the chopstick to adhere before the glue hardened. It took several attempts and barrage of colorful words to wrangle a slippery mini-flashlight with one hand while quickly lowering the skewer past the gatekeeper with the other, dab the chopstick and oh-so-slowly pull it up out of the hole without knocking if off the skewer. But eventually it did work. What a team! Captain Glue Gun, his trusty sidekick Skewer, Little LuLu, and me.


Participants in the adventure

Moral(s) of the story:

#1: Search your Mind Palace and your junk drawer for ordinary things with which you can MacGyver out of extraordinary problems. Don’t call the plumber for stuff like this. You can do it.

#2: Keep the strainer basket in the sink at all times, especially at night when kitchen items try to commit desperate acts of escape.

#3: Never discount the wisdom of comic books.














Don’t spill a drop–retouch the whole glass!


Last June the fellow in front of me at the Grand Canyon inadvertently provided me a great photo op by placing his wineglass where I wanted to photograph the setting sun. I loved the shot, but it always bothered me that the glass was tilted. (Yes, I am the person who straightens the pictures in the doctor’s office.)




I raised the shadows slightly in Lightroom first. In Photoshop, I used the pen tool to make a selection of the wine glass, placed it on its own layer and hid the layer until later, used content-aware fill to fill in the now blank spot on the original (copy of the original). This took several attempts; I’m not great at the pen tool. I touched up the background where content-aware fill tried its best but went a little wonky. Two suns? Only in Star Wars. Then I revealed the isolated wineglass layer, adjusted the angle, blended the edges, and copied a little faux rock foreground to obscure the base so the wineglass did not appear to be floating in space. Oops! The glass was now straight but the liquid inside was still at an angle. That darned gravity! Used the liquify filter to even that out, and also to touch up the rim of the (inexpensive) wineglass. I touched up some but not all of the smudgy fingermarks; this was a real moment and a real person, not a staged commercial shoot. I added an oh-so-suble lens flare because, believe it or not, I thought the sun rays almost looked fake without it, even though it isn’t in the original photo.

So there you have it. With Photoshop, you won’t spill a drop!

(Thank you, Friend, whoever you are, for having the foresight to bring a glass of wine with you to enjoy a spectacular sight.)


Fresh Air! (No Times Square)

Serendipity in the suburbs. Found this little haven of peace in a western suburb (Chicago suburb, not “out west”) while photographing a post-remodel master bath nearby for awesome interior designer Veronica Devereaux’s website. We bought some eggs, met the girls, and had a little spontaneous vacation on a lovely spring day.


The Rock Star.

untitled shoot-085-Retina

The Groupies.

untitled shoot-086-Retina

It’s a Hen Party!

untitled shoot-089-Retina

untitled shoot-100-Retina

untitled shoot-106-Retina

Why are you on my level, One-eye?

untitled shoot-114-Retina

A young gal, not yet ready to join the flock.

untitled shoot-118-Retina

The owner trains jumpers.

untitled shoot-121-Retina

The Welcoming Committee.

untitled shoot-125-Retina

Friendly resident.

untitled shoot-129-Retina

Mimi, another local.

Keep on Keepin’ On

I recently came across a journal I’d started keeping in January 2012 for a paltry 2 months (which currently has an appointment with my new shredder). Such self-indulgent, embarrassing drivel. To say I was not in a good place at that time is an understatement. Most of it is whining endlessly about money, but this bit of indignation amused me:

“What’s with gas [at] $3.65 now? It was $3.29 a few days ago.”

Well, there you go. Some thing are worse, but sometimes things actually do get better, so don’t lose faith. There were some other poignant things, but really, I’d rather purge the emotional purging and look forward, not to the past.

After railing about how people appreciate creatives, but no one wants to pay artists what we are worth, I said this:

“Here’s to the crazy creatives. We do keep things interesting.”

Yes. Yes, we do. So keep on creating. Take the photos, write the songs, the screenplays, the poems. Jump into the scene and heighten it. Receive your gifts, and give your gifts. Be in awe of the talent and skill of others. Inspire them back and reinspire yourself.

Go. Do. Create. And hope. Spring is coming.


Dream Studio!

This first one especially–would love have something like this as a photo studio. Look at all that great natural light!