Monday, October 23, 2017

Family Day 2017

"If you move faster than the music, it will look strange; if you move slower than the music, it will look strange! Be like autumn leaves which follow exactly to the rhythm of the wind!"

~Mehmet Murat ildan

I am only posting a Leaf Of The Day today, because we are going on our official Family Day outing! Family Day has been a family tradition since we got married on October 13th, 1990. As newlyweds, we had planned to have a child or two, and so we decided because young children might not understand a wedding anniversary is mostly for mom and dad, we created a special day, October 23rd, made it our own Family Day that the whole family would enjoy!

We were inspired to create that day, because as Alan and I were honeymooning in Half Moon Bay, when we happened to meet Joe Montana and his wife Jennifer at Pastorino's Pumpkin patch. They were there with their children, enjoying their family day, and they were having such a good time choosing pumpkins and enjoying a hay ride and pumpkin pie, that it was more than just a little heart warming! And a new holiday was born, Family Day!

Well, we were never lucky enough to have human children, but we did have little fur babies that fill our hearts! Our cat, Elvis, was my baby, but he was Alan's best friend! When he passed away, and we were so lonely for the sound of little bells running through the house, along came Hendrix and Dylan... and a few years later... Joey! Joey was a surprise! We had our little family, and then one day Alan found Joey, who had been abandoned on the San Mateo bridge. He was cold, underweight, and injured by some crows who were trying to fly off with him!

He was so scared and so tiny, that we couldn't help but fall in love with him! That happens sometimes to couples who have human children too. You think you have a full family, and then one day you find out there is one more ready to join your family and be loved. But it's really quite the same... love is love. And while our family is a little unconventional, its ours, and I wouldn't trade it for the world!

The cats don't come with us, of course, but when we get home there are new treats and a new catnip mouse for each, and they get to have bites of baked yams, which all three boys enjoy, and is fine for cats in proper amounts, and lots of snuggles! Sometimes balloons and a game of laser mouse makes for a fun time. But earlier in the day, it's just Alan and I, in Half Moon Bay, reminiscing about our honeymoon, and the long road that lead us to this Family Day... October 23rd, 2017! 

Mood: Happy


Sunday, October 22, 2017

A Face In The Crowd: Preston Castle

"Normal is an illusion. What's normal for the spider
 is chaos for the fly." 

~Morticia Adams

That beautiful Romanesque building is Preston Castle, in the small city of Ione, California. It is rumored to be haunted, and I believe the stories of cries, strange sounds and moans are real, and from the ghosts who live there now. It was once a boys reformatory, where young boys were sent, from all around the state, to serve sentences for various crimes, or sometimes when they had simply been made wards of the court. 

Terrible abuses took place at this prison, the unthinkable really, and it is said now that the spirits of these children haunt the halls and rooms of Preston Castle, as does a nurse who was murdered there. Alan and I paid a visit to the place about a week ago, and let me tell you, while we didn't go in, just standing on the grounds and looking up at the main building gave me the shivers! It is quite eerie and imposing.

Sometime, maybe next year, Alan and I should sign up for one of their October ghost tours. I didn't prepare for it in time this year to get a reservation in, but I have always wanted to go on a ghost hunt, so you can bet I will be trying for next year! I believe in ghosts, and I have had more than one experience with the paranormal. Actually, I hate that word "paranormal" it has such a negative association. 

Paranormal simply means we haven't discovered why certain things, that don't seem to belong in the natural world, somehow do. Science just needs a little while longer to figure it out, but with so many other things to work on, like cancer, and climate change, other diseases, and all the other things that benefit the living, the research continues, but the supernatural and paranormal, understandably, need to take a back seat. I suppose the dead can wait!

 But boy would I like to be there when a definite connection is made between the living and spirits or ghosts. Irrefutable proof of the existence of ghosts, would make me feel a lot better about some of the experiences I have had, since childhood, that you wouldn't believe me about, if I described them to you in exact detail! But its okay... I know they happened. And one day... I can say, yep, I knew it was true! I did see a ghost that day!

 The castle is kinda spooky, and I always feel a little sad when I look at it, thinking about how those children were abused and hurt, but the grounds around the building are beautiful, and quite pleasant. This tree lines the road leading away from the castle, towards the exit of the property. Beautiful trees, and lots of birds. If one didn't realize the past this places has, it might just seem like a beautiful place to hold a party, maybe even a wedding! But was we came to the end of the driveway, Alan glanced out the window and noticed this...

The long rock wall that lines the property, is a gorgeous mix of different rocks, but on the last group, was one particular rock that seems, well, to show a ghostly face! I know... it's just a rock, and I know that seeing faces, where there are none, is a phenomenon called Paredolia. I even have a whole album of "faces" that I have photographed over the years, called "A Face In The Crowd!" Everyone sees them from time to time, but the other day, when we saw this one, I got a chill down my spine! It was downright spooky to have chills, in 85 degree heat!

Tell me, have you ever seen a ghost? Or thought you had?

 #22 Leaf Of The Day
October 22nd 2017
Cull Canyon, California

"Maybe before you die, it's your ghost you see."

~Lauren Oliver 

Mood: Curious
~Me :)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

We The Observers

"Autumn writes her own poetry, we are merely observers."

~Terri Guillemets

Autumn is suddenly bursting with color! Every color imaginable. And that slight chill of just a week ago, has transitioned to sweater weather! I love sweater weather! I got out all my favorite winter clothes this week, and filled the pantry with apple cider and mulling spices, and all the things that make this time of year spicy and delicious! I am ready for long car rides to the north, and western Sierra. And maybe Yosemite and June Lake. And, of course, to Monterey and Pacific Grove to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary! That is a lot of traveling, but we have so much fun, and just look at that sky! Breathtaking! 

I am happy to be an autumn observer! I pack a picnic lunch for Alan and I, grab the tripod, a blanket, and my favorite sweater, and off we go! Happiness and the natural beauty of autumn! If there is a Heaven, there will cats, and autumn!

 #21 The Leaf Of The Day
October 21st 2017
Camino, California

 Mood: Happy

~Me :)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Acorn Woodpecker

"In order to see birds it is necessary
 to become a part of the silence."

~Robert Lynd

That pretty bird, is a female Acorn Woodpecker. It is a new bird for my album of birds, and I spotted it on a trip through Ione, on our way to Placerville, last Wednesday afternoon. It's one of the smallest woodpeckers I photographed, but it might just be one of  the most colorful ones! I was very happy to see such a lovely creature, and I am hoping to do a little more bird hunting while we are on vacation. I have always wanted to photograph an owl in the wild, but haven't had the chance, maybe this vacation I will get lucky and spot one! Fingers crossed!

And speaking of colorful... isn't this color amazing? This is a vineyard in Camino, California, in the Apple Hill region! I absolutely love this beautiful burst of autumn colors! While there are only a few trees in Apple Hill that actually produce autumn colors, the vineyards more than make up for it with beautiful rolling hills that look like this! Oh my, I could look at it forever! 

#20 Leaf Of The Day
October 20th 2017
Camino, California

Mood: Happy

~Me :) 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Feast For The Soul

"****A Small Theory****

"People observe the colors of a day only at it's beginnings and at its ends, but to me it's quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. 
A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spat blues. Murky darknesses. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them."

~Markus Zusak
The Book Thief

This week has definitely been all about the color! Great big glorious color! Autumn is shining bright and beautiful from the Central Valley, all the way up to Placerville! It's so beautiful! Yesterday we went to Apple Hill, for our annual trip to Rainbow Orchards, for Apple Cider doughnuts, and in addition to the tasty treats, we found a lot of beautiful color! The whole trip was a feast for the soul! Doughnuts filled with the taste of cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar, and of course, fresh apple juice! And the trees with every single color possible, and to make the whole thing complete, tasty fruit and veggies from right here in the valley!

Delicious. Spicy. Gorgeous. Tasty. Autumn!

#19 Leaf Of The Day
October 19th 2017
Camino, California

Mood: Happy

~Me :)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Tree Within The Tree

"When your heart jumps
 every time your camera locks focus...
 you've become a photographer!"

~Mark Denman

The other day, while Alan and I were bouncing from fruit stand to fruit stand, throughout the Central Valley, we happened by one stand that was selling firewood, and I spotted this piece of wood. It was really dry, and covered with spider webs, dust and dry bark, but the pattern on the inside made me smile. I see in that pattern, an almost snapshot of a once beautiful tree, with many beautiful branches, standing tall an proud, maybe even covered with beautiful autumn leaves. I bet in it's day it filled the heart of those who viewed it, or relied on it for income, as so many do in the valley!

Walnuts, apricots, apples... we got almost everything out here. And now, it will be sold to provide warmth for someone! It's a wonderful end to it's life I think. I know seeing it inspired me and I really enjoyed the chance to see the tree within the tree! It was kinda like seeing it's soul! When I have my camera in my hand, I always try to see beyond the obvious, or the seemingly trivial, and it's brought me some amazing epiphanies and observations, and I have my camera to thank for that!

#18 Leaf Of The Day
October 18th 2017
Stockton, California

Mood: Happy

~Me :)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

In The Midnight Hour

"The house smelled musty and damp, and a little sweet, as if it were haunted by the ghosts of long-dead cookies."

~Neil Gaiman
American Gods

I love a dark spooky ghoul! I love driving late at night, and looking a holiday decorations around the neighborhood! I have seen some pretty great Halloween decorations, but this one got by me. This one was spotted by Alan, a few nights ago, while on his way home. It changes colors from purple to black and white. I photographed both versions, but I think it looked best in black/white! It certainly seems more spooky to me this way!

I grew up watching spooky old black & white movies, like The Innocents, Psycho, and the original Village Of The Damned! Although, I have to admit, I loved the Christopher Reeve color version too! But there is just nothing like those great old Hollywood thrillers and chillers. Vincent Price, John Carradine, and Lon Chaney really brought the chills! Those old movies may not be sophisticated by today's standards, but they will always be a big part of Halloween at our house! 

#17 Leaf Of The Day
October 17th, 2017
Stockton, California

Mood: Happy

~Me :)

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Magic Of Pumpkins

"Why not imagine a talk with a pumpkin? Why not imagine going off for a drive with a friendly pumpkin,
 a companion who would not, after all, answer back;
 who would agree with everything you said,
 and would at the end of the day appear on your plate as a final gesture of friendship?"

~Alexander McCall Smith
The Woman Who Walked In Sunshine 

One of the best things about living in the Central Valley is all the summer and autumn fruits and vegetables. Everything is local, delicious, and very photogenic, especially the pumpkins! I have seen some of the most beautiful, and uniquely colored pumpkins this season, than I have seen in many years! They are amazing!

Don't get me wrong, nothing can replace the pumpkins from our favorite pumpkin patches in Half Moon Bay, and we wouldn't give up that tradition for the world! There is just nothing like choosing a pumpkin, on a misty coastal day, but there is something to be said for hunting for just the right pumpkin on a warm Central Valley day! But Half Moon Bay has a really special place in my heart! We will be going down there in a week or so, but I am impressed with these pumpkins too!

Oh well, whether it's here in the valley, or along the coast, it always makes for a really nice day, just hanging out with Alan and searching for just the right pumpkin! And since I was a little girl, I just knew when I had found the right pumpkin for me. Somehow... the right pumpkin speaks to you... like a friend you just haven't met yet! It's downright magical to me. Autumn is full of magic, isn't it?

#16 Leaf Of The Day
October 16th, 2017
Manteca, California
Mood: Happy

Me :)  

Sunday, October 15, 2017

An Autumnal Afternoon

"A moral character is attached to autumnal scenes; the leaves falling like our years, the flowers fading like our hours,
 the clouds fleeting like our illusions,
 the light diminishing like our intelligence,
 the sun frowning colder like our affections,
 the rivers becoming frozen like our lives...
 all bear secret relations to our destinies."

~Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand
Memoires d' Outre-Tombe

Alan and I took a drive yesterday, to enjoy the beautiful late autumn sun, and we enjoyed the journey very much! Saturday was the third day of vacation, and while we still have most of a month to go, things haven't gotten off to the best start! For one, on his last day of work, 2 hours before he was due to leave for the day, he was told he had to work over, for the men that had been chose to man the road closures at the North Bay fires! Frustrating, but more than understandable! Then on Friday, my back was killing me because I had gotten very little sleep, due to Dylan's meowing all morning... LOUDLY! That kitty does not suffer in silence. If things aren't just perfect... he will let you know about it!

So, that meant Saturday was our first chance to get out, and enjoy the beauty of a late afternoon drive in autumn. We chose as our destination, the small town of Ione, California, which is at the farthest end of the Central Valley, in Amador County. The town is known as the "Gateway To The Motherlode." I find Ione fascinating, because not only is it a rustic old west town, but it has a rich history, and it just so happens it has one of the most haunted landmarks not just in California, but indeed, America!

The spooky, Gothic Preston Castle, which was at one time, a boys reformatory! The castle has been featured on many television shows about the paranormal, most recently The Low Files, on A&E! I first visited the area last year, but I have planned a longer post about that later in the month, and what sparked my interest in going back for a visit this year. It's kind of a funny story, and I will share it in the coming weeks, right now it's all about the first real autumn photos for this year, and of course, the leaves! But stay tuned, there is a lot more to come!

#15 Leaf Of The Day
Ione, California
October 15th 2017

Mood: Happy

~Me :)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Treacherous Summer... Having The Last Hateful Word Courtesy Of Man

#14 Leaf Of The Day
October 14th, 2017
Stockton, California

"There is always the threat of tomorrow's treachery,
 or next year's treachery, 
or the treachery implicit in all the tomrrows beyond that!" 

~Tim O'Brien
In The Lake In The Woods

The North Bay fire began very late in the night, last Sunday night. People have very little time, if any to run for their lives. There have been stories of heroism, and stories of families united but stories so tragic they can't be erased from the heart, nor should they. As of this post President has said very little, mostly empty words that basically amount to... isn't that too bad! This post isn't about him, well not really, it's about the fact that we had yet another hot dry summer in California, that not even the deep winter rains of last winter could help cure the lingering effect of years of California drought! 

Between the horrendous damage of Hurricane Hugo, Maria, and Jose, the wildfires burning not just in the North Bay, but throughout the state. A devastating earthquake recently in Mexico, and other assorted atrocities since Trump took office, it's not hard to believe the end might be a day or two away. I know... I know... a lot of generations have predicted the same, but things are getting worse. People are getting worse. And by that I mean we had a chance to reverse the affects of climate change. Hell I heard when I was a child, that there was a hole in the ozone, and if action wasn't taken, the earth was going to suffer.

The earth is fucking pissed! It was at least 45 years ago when I first heard that warning, and while steps were taken initially to do that right thing, such as the creation of the EPA, evil men and women, mostly GOP and big business, have made it their priority to dismantle as many protections as possible! Why? To protect their bottom lines, and line their pockets, not giving a care in the world about the future because they want to have their money while on this earth, and we all know, you can't take it with you! FUCK FUTURE GENERATIONS, and even THIS ONE!

So, why did I title this post the way I did? Because I hate the heat of summer, because I know that besides being uncomfortable as HELL, it tends to set the stage for the devastation that the North Bay and the Los Angeles area, among other parts of California are facing. The seasons come around for balance. Summer has a place, and a purpose, but we are at a point where we better be fixing the evil that we have done, or face losing all life on this planet. 

California knows that, we have some of the smartest environmental laws in the country, but until the entire nation is onboard, we will just keep seeing tragedies. And they will get worse. And men and women who hold office will say pray because God intervenes, but those are empty words that make it sound good. As a Christian I know God left us in charge of the planet, and he also gave us free will.


On a separate note, yesterday was our 27th, Anniversary! I didn't post because, well, for a couple reasons that I will share later, so I will simply post an extra leaf today. We are officially on vacation for the next four weeks, and I will try to post every day, but I may not be able to, so PLEASE STAND BY...


 #13 Leaf Of The Day
October 13th 2017
Stockton, California

 Mood: Quiet


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Beauty Unrivaled! A Love Story Of Napa and Sonoma Counties

"Things don't ever stay the same.
 Natural beginnings come to natural or unnatural ends."

~Kristin Cashore

My heart is completely broken, as I write this post. The devastating wildfires currently burning in the North Bay area are taking homes, and businesses with a deep demonic passion! When all is said and done, it will be the biggest, costliest fire in California history! It has ruined lives and ruined dreams. It has destroyed some of the most beautiful counties in California, the towns that produce the delicious Napa Valley wines and so much more. I can't say enough about the natural beauty I have witnessed in those vineyards, of each leaf of autumn, and each grape ripening on the vine! Also the fun of the bits of whimsy, around Santa Rosa, in particular, when I photographed the Snoopy "Joe Cool" Summer in 2007.

 Every single theme you can think of went into those sculptures, and Alan and I took a day and chased them around Santa Rosa, enjoying the day, and giggling as we found each one on the map. That's Santa Rosa. That's Napa, County, and we have had amazing fun in Sonoma County as well. It's a little something for everyone up there. Winery's. Dairies. Vineyards. Art. The whole area is in my heart, and my heart is completely broken right now. The one good piece of information I can hold onto right now is that as of the time of this post the Charles M. Schulz Museum is untouched. A little good news, that I am so relieved about in the midst of this terrible tragedy!

I send the people of the North Bay my LOVE and Friendship!

#12 Leaf Of The Day
September 28th, 2017
Stockton, Ca 

Snoopy "Joe Cool"

Mood: Sad


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Art About Town... Stockton Children's Museum Toy Soldiers

"There is nothing truly more artistic to love people."

~Vincent Van Gogh

I am beginning to really enjoy Stockton, and learn about it's past. What is really exciting about my new hometown, is all the public art around town, and the stories behind some of them! I am not sure if the Toy Soldiers at the Children's Museum of Stockton is considered part of their official public art program, but they have always caught my eye, any time I have been down on the waterfront, and so I thought I would learn about the museum, and it's history.

As it turns out, the museum has a very poignant story, and I will leave a link to it at the bottom of the page. Horrors happen every day, and on an average day in 1989, something truly horrendous took place, on a school yard in Stockton. I can't speak about it. I am very passionate on the subject, and if I begin explaining it, I feel like it will take away the meaning of this post. To me, the point of public art is to heal, to educate, and escape the horrors of the world.

I have photographed art that went out of it's way to both bring the soul peace, and I have photographed art meant to disturb the soul so deeply, that we finally face the truth about our pasts, presents, and futures. Right now, as I am encouraging my own healing, at least I am trying to, and I appreciate this museums work to not ignore that painful past, but to demonstrate to children, with hands on exhibits, the best of life. The art of healing, through art. This whole concept makes me thrilled and proud to be a Stocktonian.

Please take a moment and read about the tragic circumstance that inspired this amazing place for the children of Stockton! And if you are looking for a truly good cause that helps children, please consider donating to this amazing place!
#11 Leaf Of The Day
October 11th 2017
Stockton, California

Mood: Reflective