Category Archives: Janet

Prairie Photographer

While on vacation this summer,
I drove by Prairie Petals,
traveled down a  Prairie Path,
and gave my friend, Janet, a Prairie Pedicure.
We’ve traveled through tears, tares and turds, horse, that is.

Today we tackle Prairie Photography.

When I was rebuying maternity clothes and a new diaper bag at 38,
with my precious 6th baby,
my high school friend, Janet, was celebrating emtpy nest syndrome,
so started a photography business
 and started toting a camera bag.

We both loved our different bags and the lives they symbolized,
but laughed at the opposite paths our lives had taken.

In her photography business,
Janet uses creative settings and props

to enhance and highlight the personalities of her models.
High school senior McKenzie,
yes, we went to school with her parents,
wanted her first pictures taken with her best friend.
 A walk down the gravel road to set the stage.
It is amazing to see such a common scene,
the weedy patch next to a house, a girl and her horse,
become this.
It was fun photographing the photographer.

I had to be in one picture.

I loved watching the moments unfold.
Janet allows her clients to suggest poses,
as McKenzie did here,
and adds tips that would make the pose succeeed-
lift your feet, tip your head, don’t fake smile,
suck in your tummy, relax,back straight, lean this way,
weight on the front foot, chin this way.
Some moments unfolded better than others.
This is one pose you won’t see on Janet’s website.
Yea, it’s a pic nobody would choose to pass out to their friends,
but it marks the spirit of the photo shoot.
It was just fun.
Where else would a girl named McKenzie
want to pose for a picture?
This truck was parked out behind the house.
You know those old rotting country bridges other that people just drive over?
Janet likes rustic appeal for pics.
Since people expect to wear the prom dress inside the studio,
Janet likes to take them outside to contrast the setting.
When Janet showed her how to move her hand to her hip,
this sassy pose was created.
For further shock appeal,
how about sitting in that crick in your rhinestone studded dress?
It was worth it.
Before a shoot, Janet often scopes out the area,
seeking out interesting backdrops.
This building is in a small town a few miles away
made Janet’s pic turned out great.
With a  few mouse clicks from the photographer
and you have Kenzie reflecting her horse dreams.
Into her studio for more clothing changes
and more chin up, turn your head.
Simple sheers add splashes of color,
the huge “umbrellas” are part of her light system.
Advice from Janet Schill,
Prairie Photographer,
for great home photography –
“I think the most important thing for the home photographer
 to do with kids is get down to their level.
You’d be surprised at how many people stand
 and point the camera down on their kids.
When you look at the world from their level,
everything takes on a whole new look.
Watch which direction your light is coming from.
Don’t shoot towards the light,
have the light behind you or from the side.
Window light is great light, use it.
Also, if shooting outdoors, use open shade or cloudy days if possible.
It elimates harsh shadows and gives you great soft light.”
Be inspired in the images you capture of your children.
Shoot under the horse,
under the bridge,
and outside the box,
just like the Prairie Photographer.

Prairie Pedicure

If you’ve been traveling with me on the Prairie Journey,
you’ve viewed Prairie Petals
walked the Prairie Path,
and experienced my Prairie Pain.
Now, after walking through the Prairie,
you probably need a fresh pedicure.
When I first arrived at Janet’s farm,
 citified and primped like a city girl,
I had to help pick peas for hours.
OK, it felt like hours.
My makeup was melting,
the Fuschia Bling Bling on my toes was getting dusty,
and I actually was sweating.
It was hard to believe that only six short years ago,
I was a country girl.
I could hardly remember how to pick peas.
I’m kinda’ used to buying them now.
Because I had to do a “farm” thing with her,
she promised to do a “city” thing with me.
Janet didn’t know what she was agreeing to.
It had been in the 90’s in Dakota Territory,
OK, it’s actually been North Dakota for a few years,
and we had to deliver this stock tank to the pasture.
It needed to be filled up, obviously.
She looks like a fireman, because she is one –
 a volunteer for one of those little towns
you all drive through and wonder who would live there.
Yea, she calls herself a fireman.
She doesn’t need to be PC, because she is respected for what she does.
We returned later without hubby,
because he just wouldn’t understand.
I think he had to check the crops,
or check the weather,
or something farmery like that.
The pedicure process has been adapted to fit her prairie lifestyle.
Remove boots.
Don’t they look like they could just walk away on their own?
Maybe ya’ didn’t know,
but a cowgirl’s boots rank right up there in affection
with her husband and her horse,
 but not always in that order.
Soak feet.
Splash because you are having some crazy fun.
Notice the horses were scared away?
Use the finger-nail clipper your city-slicker friend
carries in her luggage purse.
Walk carefully through the pasture,
making sure a lot of mud gets on the bottom of your feet.
Before you go “eww” you should read up on the benefits of mud packs.
Mud is used to treat internal malfunctions,
 acne,fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, sunburn and prickly heat,
just to name a few.
On the internet, you can order mud with various mineral contents
and varying benefits from exotic countries.
Or, you could save the high fee, shipping and handling,
and walk through my friend’s pasture,
avoiding the freshest horse doo-doo.
Yes, she is exfoliating with hay imported from the mowed ditch.
It might be straw.
Not sure if I know the difference.
Exfoliation is necessary to remove older skin and promote cell growth.
It also gets the manure off.
And you thought fenceposts were just for holding onto the barbed wire.
Let your friend push back cuticles,
did out some ND permadirt and gumbo,
paint on some stunning color,
apply decals,
and top with a clear coat,
so it will last through harvest.
Sit back and put your feet up on your desk and admire
the Prairie Pedicure.
It’s almost enough to keep a country girl from putting her boots back on.
I said, almost.

Prairie Pain

If you’ve been following my series on Prairie Journeys,
you first read Prairie Petals, where I revealed the weeds of my youth.
Then, you followed me down Prairie Path,
where I retraced life in my hometown.

Today, I am traveling with tears,
as I write about Prairie Pain.
There are always memories we like
 to bring back to our hearts and minds.
Like a great cup of coffee or
an amazing hand-dipped chocolate,
we savor them,
relishing and
Other memories are too painful to recall.
We like to push them aside,
denying them entrance back into our hearts.
But, with facing pain comes growth,
acceptance, and then, finally
When memories involve death,
there seems to be a
bittersweet rage and range of emotions.
We cherish the memories,
but struggle to go on with life.

Today I travel to a place I haven’t wanted to go for a long,
It was an unplanned journey for Janet and me.
As a local photographer,
she was asked to take pictures of her church’s cemetery.
Since I was visiting, I tagged along.
I say unplanned,
but nothing in life is ever a coincidence,
is it?
It was the cemetery where her mother and sister
were buried a few short months after we graduated from high school
and I had been a bridesmaid in Janet’s wedding.
My Dad had called me with the horrifying news of the accident,
and I couldn’t begin to fathom or understand the pain or the loss.
I had nothing to say,
nothing to offer.
I cried in confusion
as much as anguish.
I wanted the pain to just go away.
It was too ugly,
too unbelievable to really be happening/
It was the first unexpected death I had faced
 of people who were young and healthy.
I just didn’t understand.
I was 19.
I was facing my own new college life.
I was in Wyoming on a trip.
It was a long ways from ND.
I didn’t think it would really matter if I were there or not.
I had a lot of excuses, but no real reasons,
for not attending the funeral.
I was wrong.
Really, really, really wrong.
Through the years,
living with that decision has grieved me
 as much as living with their loss.

This was the first time I had seen the grave,
although it was with much regret in my heart.
Months after the funeral,
Janet loved me enough to be honest about her feelings.
“You weren’t there when I needed you.”
Then, I understood.
I should have made it about her, not me.
Because of her loving honesty,
I have never missed another funeral for a friend or relative,
if I had the ability to be there.
We have talked about their deaths
many times through the years,
and her openess has touched me and taught me.
Now, I  really understand.
At the cemetery,
I  wanted to lay on the ground and weep.
Tom and Janet raised two kids without Gramma and Aunty.
Their two kids got married and
each have one child so far.
The funeral was only the beginning of a lifetime
of “without yous.”
Because I knew if I didn’t laugh,
I would never stop crying,
I snapped this picture.
I had to find some way to ease my
Prairie Pain.