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Classic Mixbook

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5: INTRODUCTION The present book consists of a compendium of photographs of Valerie taken from 1970 to 2000, when she was between 24 and 54 years old. It is mainly a labor of love, destined to showcase the natural beauty and joie de vivre she has exhibited throughout this long life span. I have covered the past millenium only as the photo albums produced after that time were well organized and documented, and contained mostly trips or events involving only the two of us. We were also approaching the age of digital cameras and, therefore, I did not see any reason to duplicate pictures of high quality already contributing to our personal heritage. The rationale behind the book About a year ago, I felt the urge to travel back in time to document the genesis of my relationship with Valerie and to preserve in digital form all the existing photos, negatives as well as my personal collection of slides and love letters I had kept ever so preciously. This project soon proved to be highly emotional as the happy days, but also the dark ones were exposed and coming back to life. After all, our love affair had been rather turbulent, as we went through distinct periods of dating, living together, separating, finding each other again, going on a wonderful pre-marital honeymoon in Hawaii and, finally, getting married in Belgium. In the process of gathering these pictures, I was particularly moved when I rediscovered why I had been so strongly attracted to Valerie. She was simply: - incredibly beautiful; - ever so sensuous; - playful and free spirited, with a touch of hippyism; - artistically very talented; - intelligent and well cultured; and - truly exuding happiness and joie de vivre. In summary, Valerie was the dream girl for a Belgian boy lost in California. We were spicing our relationship with various physical and intellectual activities such as sexy camping weekends or a retreat by a mountain lake, hikes to Mount Whitney, the Half Dome in Yosemite or Mount Rainier, attending an 8-hour Bach marathons at the Hollywood Bowl, or listening to Bela Bartok, Boulez and the Rolling Stones.

6: As the Turtles song goes, we were happy together, until, for some still obscure reasons, we broke up. However, our love story has a happy ending as we found each other again and made the big commitment of getting married in Liege on December 14, 1974. Our pre-marriage life from March 17, 1970 (Saint Patrick's night when we met) until the end of 1974 has been thoroughly documented in a slide show video entiltled "The Way we Were: our Turbulent Love Affair" that I produced last year. It contains 293 pictures or letter excerpts, and a selection of my very favorites ones is included here. The present book is a logical continuation of the previous effort. In the course of the above project, I realized that once Danielle was born on December 12, 1975, and at least until roughly 1990, about 80% of our photographs were devoted to the kids activities; perhaps 10% were landscapes or sporting events (such as the U.S. Open) and at the most, about 5% of these pictures were actually focused on ourselves. Since I was usually behind the camera, most of them were immortalizing Valerie. She had done an outstanding job of documenting the early years of the children by putting together very elaborate scrapbooks for each kid. But pictures pertaining to us were scattered in a few albums falling apart by now, and mostly in a number of shoe boxes in the form of prints and negatives, mixed with the other 90% I mentioned before, without due regard for chronology. There was clearly a need to coalesce them in one place and to digitize them for posterity. This is how I came up with the idea of gathering pictures of Valerie that would best capture her beauty, elegance, sensuality, joie de vivre and happiness over 30 years of her life. On occasion (but rarely), I would insert a picture of myself for good measure. Instead of making a video as before, I decided to produce a hardcover book that would resist the erosion of time. This project turned out to be a monumental undertaking, which consumed well in excess of 1000 hours of my time. Now Valerie knows why I was so often in my office and would come back late. But it was certainly worth the effort and I trust that the book will be appreciated for years to come. It has been fascinating to see how, regardless of Valerie's haircut or color (some more flattering than others), the way she was dressing up and her overall appearance under a variety of circumstances, she has always remained as attractice as the young woman I first met. In fact, she was particularly beautiful and glowing when she reached the age of forty as she combined maturity with her natural elegance and charm. The production process As said before, the task of producing the book proved to be somewhat overwhelming as it involved a number of steps that all presented their own obstacles to surmount. First, I took a look at existing albums

7: made since 1975. What I found is that, until about 1990, they were incomplete and poorly documented in terms of when and where the photos were taken. It became obvious that I would have to comb through the shoe boxes in order to complement the picture set and put it in the right chronological order. I was particularly interested in finding relevant negatives as they can be digitized with a resolution of 4,000 dpi (dots per inch), while prints can only be scanned at 600 dpi. The higher the resolution is, the more the picture can be edited and enhanced. Needless to say, attempting to identify thousands of negatives by looking at them against a lit background and find the ones of interest was overly time consuming, frustrating and a big source of headaches. Once I had gathered the prints and negatives making up the reference data base, it was not an easy task to put them back in the right chronological order. This was done by looking at the prints processing dates when available (sometimes misleading as some films would be processed several months after the pictures were taken). Otherwise, I would compare photograph features such as haircuts, dresses worn, etc. between one of known identity and an undocumented one. When everything else failed, I would rely on my feeble memory as a last resort. The photographic material was then ready to be shipped to a company specializing in high definition digitizing. I had numbered each print or negative in chronological order, and I was expecting the scanning company to process them in that order. But instead, they separated the prints from the negatives and digitized them separately. As a result, I received back a DVD with the photos in total disorder, which was somewhat aggravating. Once I had put them back in the right order again, the full set of photographs was entered in Picasa 3. They were ready to be individually edited, mostly by cropping them and adjusting their tuning and sharpness. Special attention was given to their resolution, as a low one would produce an image too fuzzy to print, and a very high one would crash the upload software that was unable to handle an image over 18Mb. Such an occurence prevented any further progress until I figured out what caused the problem and was able to solve it. Once the photographs were all edited, I was finally ready to produce the book. I chose Mixbook over the competition such as Blurb as their system was rated #1 in the Consumer Report. Needless to say, I had never done this before and it took me a while to fully understand all the features of the program. Each page received its own custom design, depending on the number of uploaded pictures I wanted to incorporate in one frame, their orientation (vertical or horizontal), their resolution, which would determine their optimum size and, of course, the overall esthetics of the page. It was then a matter of aligning the photos perfectly with respect to one another, with an accuracy of a very small fraction of an inch. On the average, it took me about an hour per page to produce it in final form. The entire book creation had been stored at Mixbook (but not without a few major glitches) and was then ready to be ordered and printed.

8: A final word I hope that those looking at this book will appreciate it and treasure it as I did when I finally brought it to completion. However, I would like its distribution to be extremely limited, as I see it mostly as an intimate expression of love between Valerie and myself. As such, its proprietary nature ought to be respected. | Valerie before I met her

9: Year 1970 | WOW! WHAT A BABE!! | On Ensenada Beach (Baja California) | During the retreat in Big Bear | Ensenada Beach | Our dating period

10: We are now living together on Sturtevant in Sierra Madre

11: At Christmas in White Pass, Washington | Posing with Mount Rainier in the background

12: Years 1972 and 1973 | My Ph.D. graduation | In Algeria for 4 months | Years 1971 and 1972 | Living together, then separating | Yosemite | Mendocino | Our separation: a partial, then full eclipe

13: Sunshine again: we are back together. Our pre-marriage honeymoon in Hawaii | Year 1973

14: Year 1974 Living together on Alta Vista, then getting married in Liege (December 14) | Christmas/New Year 1973-1974 | Bryce Canyon | Grand Canyon

15: Corsica coastline | Auron (Haute Provence)

16: Year 1975 The major events were Valerie's pregnancy and Danielle's birth on 12/12 We also moved from Sierra Madre to Vienna, VA during the summer | August/ September 1975 in Memphis

18: Year 1976 Danielle's baptism took place in March 76 in the presence of Donna and Jacques, followed by a picnic in a park.

19: In July- August, we took Danielle to Cap d'Ail and Chamonix

20: On the way to the Lac Blanc | At the Montenvers Signal

21: While at TetraTech International, I travel a lot to the Middle East- Here in Petra, Jordan

22: Christmas 1976

23: Year 1977 We witnessed Danielle's first steps in Wilmington Beach, N.C. in early April, then moved to Cary, N.C. following a key contract win with SAIC

24: Filling up the waterbed in Cary upon our arrival

25: Year 1978 My parents visited us in N.C.- here in Wilmington Beach- in May 78 In July/August, we went to Europe with the Colemans and the Hurst, while Danielle stays in Memphis with her grandparents

26: In Memphis, before or after the trip | On the train to Paris | In Bruges, July '78

27: In Paris

28: In Chamonix (Hotel "Les Rhododendrons") | Somewhere in Burgundy | In Villefranche

29: Year 1979 The main event of the year was Valerie's pregnancy And Eric's birth (October 13, 1979). We took a trip to Spain in February/March and went to Cap d'Ail in August | In Spain, February '79

30: Back to Cary, Valerie is pregnant and glowing | At the French Riviera, in the Eze gardens

31: After Eric's birth, Annick Gavard comes over as an "au pere" girl

32: Year 1980 On July 20, Jacques, Nanou and my mother came over to Cary for Eric's baptism that was not to be (Church red tape). The trip continued to Niagara Falls, etc. | We spent a lot of time at the Lake Gaston house- Here, in July '80

33: Celebrating Eric's first birthday | Country skiing in Chamonix over Christmas '80

34: Year 1981 We took a trip to Portugal in January/ February, spent every weekend at the lake and the 4th of July in Williamsburg (while my mother was here) | Cascais, Portugal | Easter '81

35: Christmas '81 | Williamsburg | Christmas '81

36: Year 1982 In January, we went to Little Exuma and in December returned to our pre-marriage honeymoon location in Hawaii. We also did a lot of sailing on Brigadoon

37: Valerie was as beautiful as ever in Hawaii

39: Year 1983 We went to Chamonix for Eric's baptism in April and saw our first America's Cup in Newport

40: Eric's baptism in Chamonix: the church bells were ringing!

41: In Newport at the time of the America's Cup

42: Year 1984 This was the year of the Olympics in Los Angeles. We also went to Provence and the Riviera with the Colemans, and sailed to Maine on Brigadoon | February 1984 | Over Villefranche | Monaco gardens

43: Les Baux de Provence | Isn't she gorgeous!

44: Chamonix (same trip) | Versailles

45: Los Angeles Olympic Games and Las Vegas

46: 1984 was also the year of the move to Newport On the day of the jazz festival Sailing to Maine in the Fall | Our habit to go to New York to celebrate our anniversary started that year

47: Year 1985 The main event was the construction of the house. We weree able to take a trip to England to visit the Gothic cathedrals and famous archaeological sites | In front of the Dover cliffs

48: Stonehenge, of course

50: Year 1986 We were still very preoccupied with the house construction but went to Cap d'Ail, Chamonix and Paris with the children

51: Year 1987 No foreign trip documemted this year. Valerie and Danielle marched in Washington D.C. for women's rights and the U.S. Open was particularly rainy

52: Our wedding anniversary | Christmas '87

53: Year 1988 An eventful year with a trip to Acapulco, to the Belgian Ardennes and Chamonix, to the province of Quebec and with Donna's wedding | Acapulco | Semois Valley | Coo Cascades

54: Tennis on Newport grass, before going to Montreal (above) and Quebec City | Coast of Maine | Newport travel team playing all over R.I.

55: Donna's wedding | Christmas/ New Year '88

56: Year 1989 After Valerie's hernia operation, trip to Belgium for my mother's 80th birthday (April), followed by a trip to the Riviera and Tuscany (June), then an SAIC trip to Dubrovnik | Orange, before Pic!

57: In Antibes | In the Carrara quarries | In St. Tropez | In Florence

58: Dubrovnik (above) and Mostar

59: Year 1990 This year saw a fabulous trip to Sicily, the Bordeaux region and the Pyrenees--Valerie as good looking and sexy as ever-- Danielle graduated from St. Michael (June), we went to Disneyland (April) and Eric went to camp

60: On the slopes of Etna | Syracuse | Famous col d'Aspin | Lourdes

62: Year 1991 Highlights included our first cruise in the Carabbeans with both children (March), a trip to Cap d'Ail and Haute Provence with Danielle and Christal (July) and a New Year trip to Cancun. Eric also graduated from St. Michael and we spent a naughty weekend in Keane, NY | Sugarloaf, February | At home in May | Eric's graduation from St. Michael

63: Daphne cruise to the Carabbeans (Eric breaks his arm!) | In La Martinique | In St. Lucia

64: Trip to Cap d'Ail and Provence | Cap d'Ail beach | La Mere Germaine | Musee Chagall (Nice) | Over Villefranche

65: Thanksgiving in Newport | Walk in the woods (Keane) | Cancun for New Year

66: Year 1992 Highlights included an SAIC trip to Scottsdale and Sedona in March, the celebration of my mother's 83th birthday in Liege with visit of Antwep museums (April) and a fabulous trip to the Dordogne and Auvergne (Summer time). The studio was also built. | Sedona with Rob | In Liege for 83rd Birthday | Van den Bergh museum, Antwerp | Easter Sunday

67: Mothers Day | Waterville Valley, N.H., late August | In Chamonix on trip to Dordogne/ Auvergne | Vichy, of course | In the bathroom of "Trois Gros" | At the Puits-de-Dome | Upon completion of the studio | At the U.S. Open

68: Christmas '92 | In New York between Christmas and New Year

69: Year 1993 An SAIC meeting brought us to Santa Fe. Valerie and Donna took a trip to Paris, Provence and Tuscany and I joined them in Marseilles. Then, the whole family went to the Italian Lakes, the Dolomites and Cap d'ail. | In Santa Fe with SAIC (at the Colemans apartment) | In Santa Fe | In Santa Margherita with Albert Gnesutta and Rob

70: Paris, of course | On the Marseilles port | Bouillabaisse at "Mere Germaine" | At the Oustau de Baumaniere, Les Baux | Galleria Uffizi, Florence

71: Early August trip to N. Italy: Roccia site | Lunch at Hotel du Lac, Riva del Garda | U.S. Open with the Colemans | At home early December | Christmas '93

72: Year 1994 Major events of the year included the celebration of my 50th birthday, Danielle's graduation from Andover, two trips in Europe for my mother's 84th birthday (April) and a summer sojourn in Chamonix with Eric. Valerie was also a major participant in the Global Art Show | Danielle's graduation in Andover (above) and the Global Art Show opening (right)

73: Valerie and Eric on the Albert Ier refuge trail: impressive ! | At the Susten Pass (Switzerland) | At the U.S.Open

74: My 50th birthday party | Climbing a Giza (Egypt) pyramid illegally

75: Year 1995 Major events were an SAIC trip to Moscow as a technology transfer with the Russians,Valerie' s opening at the gallery (June 17) and Valerie's 50th birthday celebrations. D.Rhoads and I were also finalists for the Smithonian Award for contribution to the environmental sciences | Birthday celebrations | At the gallery opening

76: Moscow, of course | Dinner in Liege preceding our Moscow trip | Smithonian Award ceremony

77: Year 1996 Salient events of the year were Nanou's wedding, preceded by a trip to Normandy and Brittany, a great first trip to Scotland and the dedication of the Hutchinson monument on April 27 | Trip to Normandy and Brittany before Nanou's wedding - Here: Etretat | Bayeux | A Normandy cemetery

78: Hutchinson memorial dedication | Newport Historical Society gala, May | Mid-August trip to Scotland - Isle of Arran ferry | Kilmartin, Argyle countryside | "Francophone" delegation in Roland Garros | At Eric's camp

79: Year 1997 We explored the Mediterranean twice, first on a great trip to Crete in conjunction with Frederique' weddin, then on a major cruise on the Mermoz (french boat) for my mother's 88th birthday (early October). This is also the year when I made a transition from SAIC to my own business and found a British partner with tickets to Wimbledon | Palace of Knossos, Crete and Elounda Beach Hotel (right) | Farewell dinner at the Pier (May)

80: Skiing with my good friend and consultant Alberto Gnesutta | Impossible to get tickets to Wimbledon | The Mermoz Napoleonian cruise

81: Over a Yugoslav fjord | Malta archaeological site (Hagar Qim) | In Palermo, Sicily | Carthage archaeological site, Tunisia | Ajaccio, Corsica Elba Island

82: Elba Island (continued) | Sainte-Marie-de-la-Mer (Black Virgins) | Christmas morning

83: Year 1998 Our main trip was to the Dordogne, the Pyrenees, Biarritz and N. Spain to Bilbao (mid-September). This was preceded by a London visit with Donna (mid-February) and by traveling to Seattle for Danielle's graduation. Bill Clinton also came to town | The girls enjoying London | Mothers Day | First stop on our trip: the dunes of Pilat (Atlantic coast) | Danielle's graduation with an M.S.

84: Rocamadour | Chateau de Rouffignac, Dordogne | Biarritz | Altamira (and its famous caves)

85: Santillana del Mar, N. Spain | Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao | Our man Bill Clinton is in town! | Christmas morning without coffee...

86: Year 1999 A very busy and exciting traveling year with a trip to Athens and Rhodes in conjunction with my mother's 90th birthday (March), a trip to Pompei, Capri and Venice (late April), a trip to Romania for a total eclipse of the sun with Caltech alumni, after Prague and cruising the Danube (August). We then went to Pasadena on our way to Hawaii with Danielle (September) and to the Midi-Pyrenees region (November) | Dinner for my mother's 90th birthday | At the Athens Parthenon | Also in Athens

87: In Lindos, Rhodes | In Ialisos acropolis, Rhodes | In Venice | In Capri | In Pompei | In Chamonix after I climbed the Mont Blanc

88: The Colemans visited us in mid-July | In Vienna on our way to Roumania | Tracking the eclipse in Bucharest

89: In Visegrad, Hungary | "Romanian Peasant" museum, Bucharest | Caltech, of course | With Karen Yaworski in Montpelier | Paris, to finish the millenium in style

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  • By: Paul D.
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  • Title: Classic Mixbook
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  • Started: almost 7 years ago
  • Updated: over 6 years ago