Friday, May 25, 2007

Welcome to my New Photographic Assistants!

Many of you fondly remember Joshua and Nicholas, who were my photographic assistants for the past year. They have moved on to other pursuits, and I am pleased to present my new assistants, Ali and Amber. I spent about a month and a half without assistants, and I discovered (again) just how much I need them. (And if any of you had to deal with me during that time, I'm sure you can also attest to how much Cherie needs them to remain organized!) Let me introduce each of them:

Ali comes honestly by her love of photography. Her father is an avid photography hobbyist who has faithfully captured the sports and music events in Ali's life. Ali also loves photography, and documents her friends and her travels.

She is a vocalist, involved in both symphonic and jazz choirs, and she plays the piano (sometimes for her choral groups!) She was born in Hawaii, but grew up in Salem. She speaks fluent French, and has had the opportunity to travel to France.

She loves parks and picnics, and she is a valuable addition to the studio. An example of her recent work is shown here.

Amber also has a family background in photography - both of her parents are avid hobby photographers. She has also been bitten by the 'camera bug', and has completed classes in photography and other art subjects.

She loves everything outdoors - water sports, hiking and camping, and the beach. She enjoys dance - both organized and improvisational, as well as volleyball. This is a girl on the go!

She plans to study medicine and become an R.N. She brings significant strengths to the studio. Below is a recent example of her work.

Be sure to call and/or stop by so we can introduce you to these capable women. See you soon!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Welcome, Kamryn!

I was privileged to photograph Kamryn's beautiful Mama while she was pregnant. Today, 12-day-old Kamryn paid a visit to my studio, too! I couldn't wait to announce her arrival - shhh...don't tell Mom, because she hasn't even seen these yet!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Paul's senior session

It was wonderful to collaborate with Paul on his senior portraits. First of all, I have known him for many years (he was in Little League with my youngest son, Nick). Secondly, he put off his senior session until May (MAY!) because he thought it would be grueling. Even with me!

He was pleasantly surprised at how much fun a portrait session could be, and I have a potential competition print (below) for next February's professional competitions - woo-hoo!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Cherie's Chicken Dinner Recipe

Everyone loves my chicken recipe. It's not difficult, but it sure is popular! And yes, I provide recipes like my grandmother did - a pinch of this, a sprinkle of that.

One word about chicken - like fish, it goes from perfect to overdone in nothing flat. Be sure to check your chicken often, so it doesn't get tough and stringy.

Cherie's Chicken
* cut-up fryer parts
* one small lemon
* salt
* lemon pepper
* garlic powder
* curry
* sage

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and place chicken parts in a ovenproof glass pan. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the chicken. Sprinkle herbs and spices over the chicken (be generous). Bake for about one hour. Remember to check it toward the end so it doesn't get overdone!

Cherie's Rice
* a handful of rosamarina, orzo, or other similar product
* a cup and a half rice
* three cups water (plus just a little more)
* salt
* two T butter

Melt butter over medium heat in a pan. Brown the rosamarina in the pan. Don't overcook - just brown until it's a nice medium color. Add rice. Stir. Add water. Stir. Add a little salt. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, or until done. (Turn it down toward the end so you don't scorch the rice on the bottom of the pan. )

Cherie's Carrots
* bag of baby carrots
* curry
* dill
* butter

While the rice is cooking, put baby carrots in a microwave bowl with a little water, cover, and cook until done. Add just a smidge of butter, plus a good sprinkle of curry & dill. Stir and serve. Yum, yum!

The Date - Part Two in the Khalil series

Thank you for your enthusiastic emails about my first Khalil short play. Feel free to leave your comments here on the blog, as well. Due to popular demand, here is The Date - the second in the Khalil series.

THE DATE - (c) 2005 Cherie Renae

Khalil, a man in his early 90’s
Joe, a man in his 80’s, the husband of Khalil’s late cousin, Marion
May, Khalil’s wife
Esther, Joe’s new friend

Click HERE to view the play

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Farewell to the Perfect Dog

I never considered myself a dog person. Most of my life, I had cats. I tried to foray into the puppy arena a couple of times, but….well, let’s just say – it was not a success. I couldn’t seem to master the behavior required to be a dog person.

The first time I saw Synch, he was patiently lying outside the door of a local business, waiting for his master to emerge. “I never want a dog again,” I thought, “but if I were ever to decide to venture into the canine world, I’d want a dog just like that one. He’s the perfect dog.”

I saw a lot of this Border Collie over the next several months. His owner had blown into Monmouth (where I worked) one day, and old Fred quickly became a fixture in the little town. Synch was never on a leash – he just padded down the street alongside his master, and waited outside on the doorstep when Fred went inside to chat or conduct business. “Wow. What a perfect dog,” I would mutter to myself.

Fred always struck me as a little…shady. I never could put my finger on it, but something about him sent up a mild warning. Turns out my internal warning system was correct, because one day, Fred disappeared under darkness of night (wanted by the police for check kiting), leaving Synch tied up outside the dorm of a couple of college girls he had befriended.

I found out about it the next morning when I walked into the local coffee shop for my daily latte. “Do you want a dog?” these girls plaintively asked when I walked in.

“No, I don’t want a dog,” I replied. “I have three cats – that’s plenty of animals for anyone.”

“Do you remember old Fred?” queried Rick, the owner of the coffee shop. “He took off last night, and left his dog outside their dorm room. They can’t keep him, of course.”

“Oh, no,” I groaned. “You mean the perfect dog?”

And that’s how Synch came to live in my household four years ago. What a joy he was. He wasn’t demanding - he just loved to hang out. Fred told the girls that Synch was four or five years old. He seemed a little grey and a little stiff for such a young age, but I figured it was just the coloring and nature of Border Collies.

He loved to play fetch – he was one of those dogs that could catch a Frisbee in mid-air, over and over and over. Even though he limped a little in the hind end when he walked, he could run faster than any dog I’ve ever seen. He just compressed his body low to the ground and FLEW.

I never had to worry about him leaving the yard. I never had to worry about him barking at the neighbors, digging in the yard, or chewing my shoes. Have I mentioned, he was the perfect dog?

I wondered about his age. The vets were unsure about how old he was, but they thought he might be anywhere between five and eight years old. We lived happily together for about three years. Then came the cold winter of 2005-2006, when his coat got thicker – and matted.

Have I mentioned that I didn’t really know how to be a good dog owner? I wasn’t mean or cruel: in fact, I was always kind and gentle with him. But I didn’t understand how much a dog needs to be with his owner. I made him stay in one room of the house because, well, he had an odor problem. It didn’t matter how thoroughly I bathed him. He would develop an odor again within a day. He also shed. I didn’t want the smell or the fur all over my house, so I insisted he confine himself to the back porch.

He was a very wise dog. He slowly taught me the error of my ways. He would look reproachfully at me when I gently scolded him for coming into the main house. He would again turn those reproachful eyes upon me when I left the house without him. “I’m perfectly happy to hang out in the car,” his eyes would remind me.

Eventually, I did learn. But by then, he wasn’t moving around so well. He couldn’t hop into the car anymore, and I wasn’t quite able to lift him. He didn’t seem interested in climbing the stairs to my room.

And he stopped playing fetch. I realized the truth one day when I tossed a Frisbee directly at him, and it hit him in the face. He couldn’t see clearly anymore. I’d already noted that his hearing was not what it used to be. Synch was getting old.

That was the spring when his fur got so matted. I took him to the groomers, who had to shave him to the skin. Under all that fur was a back end twisted with arthritis. He was covered with painful warts.

I took him to the vet. “Oh, Cherie,” exclaimed the vet. “This dog is at least fifteen years old!”

“Oh,” I replied. “How long do they live?”

The vet looked at me for a long while before she replied. “About fifteen years, if they’re lucky,” she responded.


He deteriorated over the summer. I started giving him pain pills, and that really perked him up. He’d get so feisty, he’d jump up on his hind paws, front paws off the ground. “You’re going to break a hip, old man,” I would tease him. But he seemed to be doing much better.

He started losing bladder and bowel control this past winter. I would quietly clean up his messes every morning. I replaced the carpet in his room with vinyl flooring, and laid down a mat for him. Soon, he couldn’t get up without assistance, so every morning, I picked up his hind end and helped him get outside, then stayed around for moral support until he got his legs under him.

Three weeks ago, his appetite lessened. He couldn’t seem to get his legs under him, and I found him lying in the same spot hour after hour. He started soiling himself at night. The morning ritual became a bath, administered as gently as possible, because he seemed to be in such pain when he was touched.

“Nick,” I commented to my son one morning, “I don’t think Synch is having fun anymore.”

“He always has trouble in the winter, Mom,” replied Nick. “Spring is here. Summer’s coming. He’ll perk up.”

But he didn’t perk up. Pretty soon we reached the unavoidable conclusion that the time had come.

And so yesterday Synch took his last drive. The dog who until three weeks ago still enjoyed his morning walk around the block could barely totter into the vet’s office. I had to make large gestures so he could see and follow me. Nick lifted him onto the table, and as I looked at this ancient and pain-ridden friend lying before me, I realized that it really, truly was time.

He went quickly and painlessly. We buried him on the property of friends, by the fields and lawns where he had run and jumped and played Frisbee with the boys. He has a great view of the Coast range.

I miss him. Oh, I miss him. A dog like that comes along so seldom. How lucky I was to be his owner. He was the perfect dog.

Monday, May 14, 2007


I am privileged to belong to NILMDTS, an organization of photographers that provide caring photography to families who have suffered early infant loss. I work closely with Salem Hospital, and I am grateful to their neonatal staff, who offer information about my services to those families who have experienced, or will experience, the death of their newborn.

I come to the families in the hospital and create tender, sensitive images of their child, as well as family portraits, if they wish. The images are placed on a CD, and are my gift to the family. These heirloom portraits help families to honor their little one, and can be an important part of the healing process.

If you know of any families who need my services, please give them my name, my phone number, and/or my web address. Thank you.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Valencia session

I just had to share a couple of images from a recent session. A proud grandmother brought her three grandchildren in for a session. I knew she was a Cherie Renae client when she enthusiastically embraced my recent fundraising efforts for Ten Thousand Villages, a Fair Trade store that works to ensure fair wages for workers around the world. It helps children (and adults) avoid the trap of slavery and indentured servitude, and it's a cause that is close to my heart.

We had a wonderful time, and I am so excited about the art that we created. I love it when I am able to capture people being themselves. Can't you just see the curious temperament of the little lad, above? Check out the mischief in the eyes of the young lady holding the umbrella, and the motherly spirit of the dark-haired beauty as she attends her cousin.

Enjoy these images - it was such a fun session!

Friday Night adventures

So what did you do with your Friday night? I tried something new; I joined blissexpress, a music and movement class that is advertised to help you 'get your mystic groove on'. It is formally called 'ecstatic dance', and is set to world music. It reminds me of the informal dance parties my teenage girlfriends and I would have - in the family room or in our bedrooms, we'd put on music of the era and dance, dance, dance!

I thought I would feel uncomfortable, but as soon as the music started, I was in my own world. This class was truly as advertised: a wonderful way to de-stress from the week. I'm definitely returning next week. (Oh, the class costs $5, and is located at 241 State Street, for those adventurous readers who may want to try it out. Bring water - you'll need it.)

At 7 pm, I wandered over to Allesandro's (120 Commercial St, I think) to listen to Randy Byrnes. He is a self-taught piano player, and he is GREAT! He plays a combination of jazz and standards. His delivery is perfect: you can easily carry on a conversation, or you can just sit back and enjoy his easy sound.

It turns out, he was born in Detroit, and his earliest listening memories are of the Motown sound. “Little Richard was one of the best vocalists ever,” he declares. He moved to Southern California in grade school, and regularly attended live performances. “I heard all the great jazz musicians. I loved Count Basie, with his use of negative space. Negative space is very important, both in music and in visual art.”

Who's going to join me next week? Give me a call if you want to participate! (503) 508-5157

Friday, May 11, 2007

Congrats to District & State participants!

This is a little late, but better late than never! Congratulations to Hanna, Joshua & Megan - Hanna placed first in district in Mezzo Vocal; Joshua placed second in District in Tenor Vocal; and Megan placed first in district in Flute. Hanna & Megan participated in the State competition. We were there, and they were great!

Five Things You Never Knew Your Cell Phone Could Do

We haven't tried these, but if they're true, they're worthwhile to pass on. Let us know if they work! (And especially let us know if they don't!) So, thanks to Teresa and the website,, here's the truth about these claims!

One - EMERGENCY SERVICE. The worldwide cell phone emergency number is 112. If you are anywhere in the world (even the USA), press 112 in case of emergency, and the system will search for the nearest emergency number in the area. This does work in some areas of the world, mostly Eurpoe.

Two - LONG-DISTANCE RESCUE. Scenario: you've locked your keys in the car and you have a remote keyless entry. So does your spouse, child, etc. Unfortunately, they aren't here to open the car. Call them on your cell phone, hold the cell phone about a foot away from the car door, have the other person press the unlock button, holding it near their cell phone. It will unlock your door! THIS DOES NOT WORK, according to

Three: THE HIDDEN RESERVE. If your cell phone battery is very low, press *3370@. This will activate the 'hidden reserve', and you will have approximately 50% more battery time. This 'hidden reserve' will recharge the next time you charge your cell phone. This is a feature available at additional cost with some providers. Reception quality goes down when using this feature.

Four: IT TAKES A THIEF. Right now, check your cell phone's serial number by keying in *#06# . A 15 digits number will appear on your screen. Write it down and keep it in a safe place. (Remember where you put it.) If your phone is ever stolen, you can call your service provider and give them this number. They can then block your handset so the thief cannot use the phone, even if they change the SIM card. You probably won't get your phone back, but isn't it somewhat gratifying to know that the thief can't use it, either? Not all phones will deliver the said number upon entering this key code.

Five: FREE DIRECTORY SERVICE. As you know cell companies charge us an arm and a leg for directory assistance. But there's a free service available. It's (800) FREE 411. Program it into your cell phone, and kiss directory service charges goodbye. This is free. Minute usage fees still accrue.


The Visit - Part One of the Khalil Series

The Visit – Part One of the Khalil Series
© 2006

Khalil is loosely based upon my own grandfather, who lived to be 99. He lived to the last with my grandmother in their own home. Family and friends were always dropping by to visit. Their house, and especially their kitchen, still hold special memories for me.

Characters: Khalil, a man in his early 90’s; Joe, a man in his 80’s, the husband of Khalil’s late cousin, Marion

A kitchen with a table, two chairs, a coffee pot, two coffee mugs, and an old black-and-white TV with rabbit ears. An outside door is visible.

(Khalil sits at the kitchen table, watching TV.)
Door bell rings.
(Khalil slowly rises and shuffles to the door. He is limping. Joe is waiting behind the door.)
Doorbell rings again.

Khalil: All right, all right. I’m coming! (He opens the door.) Joe! Come in. How are you?
Joe: Oh, fine, I’m fine. I was walking this way, and thought I’d drop in for a visit.

Khalil: Good. May isn’t home, so I can’t offer you lunch. Would you like coffee?

Joe: I just ate lunch, so don’t worry. Coffee would be good!

(Khalil limps noticeably back to the table.)

Joe: The gout again, huh?

Khalil: Yes. I hate it. It makes me feel like an old man.

Joe: (laughing) Well, Khalil, you are an old man. What are you now, 91?

Khalil: 92. I know. But I still hate it. You’re almost as old as I am – why don’t you ever have the gout?

Joe: (laughing again.) It’s because I don’t have a wife anymore to make me the rich food! It’s what causes the gout, you know. (His mood sobers.) I miss my wife, Marion. It’s been fifteen years, and I still miss her.

Khalil: I know. She was a good woman. She was my favorite cousin.

(Joe sits at the kitchen table. Khalil pours them both coffee, then sits down, too. They watch the scratchy image of a baseball game on the TV.)

Joe: Still watching the baseball games on this old black-and-white TV, huh?

Khalil: Got a color TV in the living room. This one’s fine for in here.

Joe: True, (He reaches over and adjusts one of the rabbit ears.) That’s better.

Khalil: My eyesight’s so bad, I can’t tell, anyway.

Joe: Well, this game isn’t worth watching. New York is down by 5 runs. They’ll never make it up, not the way they’ve been playing this year.

Khalil: So. What’s new? How’s church? Since my gout acted up, we haven’t been able to walk there. Are Reverend Smith’s sermons any shorter?

(They both laugh.)

Joe: No. But you know, they already harvested sixty pounds of tomatoes from the community garden. Sixty pounds! They took some to the homeless shelter, and the ladies are going to can the rest, for the Christmas bazaar.

Khalil: Sixty pounds! That’s good. It’s been a good summer. Hot. Tomatoes like sun.

(They sit quietly for a moment. Joe glances up at Khalil a few times.)

Joe: (quietly) Khalil. We need to talk.

Khalil: (standing. He speaks in a worried tone.) What is it? Is the cancer back?

Joe: No, no. It’s not the cancer.

Khalil: Your heart? Is it your heart?

Joe: No. Well, yes. Well –

Khalil: I knew it! You shouldn’t be eating all those meals out, Joe. It’s not good for you. I knew it would hurt your heart. What does the doctor say?

Joe: The doctor doesn’t say anything. Khalil –

Khalil: The doctor doesn’t say anything? I was watching a show on TV last week. The doctors are supposed to talk to you. They are supposed to tell you what’s wrong. It’s not like the old days. You need a new doctor, Joe. I can ask Albert, he’ll know –

Joe: Khalil! There’s nothing wrong with my heart!

Khalil: Well, then why did you say there was? (Sitting, putting his hand on his heart.) You know, Joe, I’m an old man. You shouldn’t joke with an old man. My heart will stop.

Joe: Khalil. I need to talk with you.

Khalil: About what? You need to talk with me, you keep saying. What do you need to talk with me about?

Joe: I keep trying to tell you –

Khalil: Then tell me!

Joe: It’s about a woman.

Khalil: A woman?

Joe: Well, yes…there’s this new woman at church, Khalil. She’s a widow, and moved back here from Chicago. We went to school together, she and I. She married a teacher and moved away. But he died, and now she’s back.

Khalil: OK, so there’s someone new at church. Is she joining?

Joe: I don’t know. She hasn’t been here that long.

Khalil: Well, I wouldn’t ask her to join a committee yet, then.

Joe: Why would I ask her to join a committee?

Khalil: Well, maybe she’ll serve coffee during coffee hour. Is she interested in helping with the kitchen?

Joe: How should I know? Why are you talking about this?

Khalil: You’re the one who brought her up!

Joe: Khalil. I brought her up because, well, I’m…interested.

Khalil: You’re interested? In what?

Joe: You know. In her. I’ve been thinking, maybe I should make the moves on her.

Khalil: The moves?

Joe: Yes. You know, ask her to dinner. To a movie. I don’t know, what do people do these days?

Khalil: What do people do what?

Joe: When they’re dating!

Khalil: You two are dating?

Joe: No! Not yet. But…I think I might like to. She’s a very nice lady, Khalil.

Khalil: But you’re old!

Joe: I’m not so old.

Khalil: What do old people do when they date?

Joe: I don’t know! That’s why I’m asking you.

Khalil: How should I know? I’ve been married for sixty-four years. We don’t date. We don’t even talk, mostly.

Joe: Khalil, please. You have to help me. I can’t talk to anyone else. You’re family. You have to help me. What do ladies like?

Khalil: I don’t know. I was watching a movie last night, and the guys there seemed to think ladies liked men’s backsides.

Joe: Men’s backsides?

Khalil: Yes. They said women liked a nice backside.

Joe: (looking down at his backside) Oh. That could be a problem. I don’t think I have such a good backside. What do you think? For a man of my age, maybe?

Khalil: Don’t ask me. I don’t even want to think about it.

Joe: I don’t think Esther is that kind of woman. I don’t think she would look at a man’s backside. Khalil, do you think I should invite her out for dinner?

Khalil: Dinner sounds expensive.

Joe: I don’t care about expensive. I just want to talk to her. But I don’t know what to say.

Khalil: Too bad May couldn’t date her. My wife May would know what to say. May never shuts up.

Joe: Maybe I could invite Esther here!

Khalil: Here?

Joe: Yes, here! Could I do that, Khalil? You know, for lunch and coffee? May could do the talking, and I could spend some time with Esther. Could we do that?

Khalil: Well, we should ask May. But I bet she wouldn’t mind.

Joe: Khalil, you’re a life saver! Thank you!

Read more of Cherie's fiction: CLICK HERE