Saturday, May 27, 2006

Worth A 1,000 Words

"As I have practiced it, photography produces pleasures by simplicity. I see something special and show it to the camera. A picture is produced. The moment is held until someone sees it. Then it is theirs."

-Sam Abell

On Thursday of last week, I grabbed my camera and took a ride into San Francisco, to visit the neighborhood of Haight/Ashbury. During the late 1960's and early 1970's the Haight was the place to go if one wanted to become upclose and personal with the counter-culture movement. Flower children handing out free flowers, and preaching, "love not war," could be found all along the neighborhood. The Grateful Dead lived at 710 Ashbury street in an old Victorian which is just a half a block up from the famous corner. It still stands there today, and as I passed by it the other day, I could almost imagine the ghost of Jerry Garcia standing in the window of the top floor, looking down with approval, and amusement at how the street has evolved over the years, yet still retained it's unique free spirit. One can find organic grocery stores, T-shirt shops, record shops, flower stands, and believe it or not, at the corner of Haight/Ashbury is a Ben & Jerry's ice-cream shop, facing right up the street toward Jerry Garcia's house, as if it were facing Mecca.

If you are a photography enthusiast such as myself, the Haight is the place to come on a warm, late spring day, like last Thursday, camera in hand. What would inspire you the most might be the intense color everywhere, from the clothing in the store windows, to the clothing on the people you will encounter. This is not a black and white world. It is intense and alive, and the neighborhood energy wore off quickly onto me as I just experienced it with an open mind. What some might call weird, I called creative. Like in the above photo. How often do you find a pair of 8ft legs, stylishly attired in fishnet stockings, making a getaway from the upper floor of a Victorian the middle of the day no less! LOL. And this was just one example of the perfect shots that were available all around me. I will be sharing more of them over the next week or so.

I chose this image first, to remind folks about the whimsy of photography...and the world. But whimsy is only one way to look at things. One of the reasons I enjoy co-hosting the Round Robin Photo Challenges with Karen, is the wide variety of creativity and interpretations I see from the each of the members who participate in any given challenge. The very last one we did, "Reflections," had our biggest turn-out yet, and also one of the best examples of the range of interpretations as well. So say for example, our subject had been, "How Your Camera Views The World," perhaps some would have viewed my photo of the 8ft long legs, protruding from the window above me, as crass or insulting to women. And that is great, because visual art is supposed to inspire emotion, thought, and feeling in the observer.

We at the Round Robin Challenges, have recently passed a bit of a milestone. We are now over a year old, and we have recently welcomed our newest member, which makes us at 50 friends all sharing our view of the world through our cameras. Taking pictures is not just my passion, it's my bliss. It makes me feel free, and alive. It helps me focus outside myself, and away from whatever might be hurting me. I have a dear friend who says I take my best photographs when I am hurting the most. I don't know about that, but what I do know is that art, and the pursuit of the beauty in the world does make me want to see everyday, with a kind of hunger that is difficult to explain.

I can visit the Golden Gate Bridge everyday of my life, and never quite see it the same way, but I am always amazed by it, and I always wish to be near it, just after I walk away. There is just something about the way it looks, as the fog is rolling through it, that makes me feel as if I am finally at home. I would be lost if I couldn't capture a photo of it, to remember, and maybe share with others it's beauty, and spirit. My friend Duane, author of the journal, "sotto voce USA," reminded me that today, is the anniversary of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge, that makes it is a special day indeed. Perhaps I will take the camera, a picnic lunch, and drive to the Marin Headlands, to sit, and enjoy it's birthday. Like at any birthday party...the camera should always be there to capture the joy of another year in the life.

"Worth A 1,000 Words"
San Francisco, California
May 25, 2006

Friday, May 26, 2006

John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #113: Travel Books

"We read to know we are not alone."

-C.S. Lewis

Weekend Assignment #113: Someone you know is traveling. Suggest a book or two for them to read on their trip. If at all possible, pick a book from the last couple years. Also, keep in mind that it's meant to be a recreational book, i.e,. they're not really reading to change their life, here, just to have fun.

-John Scalzi (By The Way...)

I really like the above quote from C. S. Lewis, because books have been a constant companion of mine since I was a small child. All those different worlds, all those different lives. I could go to a million different places, and even travel through time, and I would never be lonely... as long as I had my books.

Oddly enough, when I fly on a plane, I never bring along a book. Flying makes me much too nervous to concentrate. But when I have to travel a long distance by car, I always bring a book or two with me. As an example, when I drive down to Santa Barbara, which about a 350 mile trip down HWY 101 from the Bay Area, I always bring a book to read while I relax on the beach. I am hoping to take a drive late next month for my birthday, and I have two books sitting in my book bag waiting for the trip.

The Lives Of The Muses (Non-Fiction)
By Francine Prose

The Lives Of The Muses is a book about the women behind the artist. The lives of such ladies as , Yoko Ono, Gala Dali, and Alice Liddle, who was the inspiration for Alice In Wonderland. One particular aspect of the book I enjoyed was the representation of these ladies as collaborators, as well as providing inspiration to the artists, such as ballerina Suzanne Farrell and choreographer George Balanchine. "There is no ideal muse, but rather as many variations on the theme as there are individual women who have had the luck, or misfortune, to find their destiny conjoined with that of a particular artist." It is a fascinating read.

Every Breath You Take (Fiction)
By Judith McNaught

Judith McNaught is one of my very favorite authors, and this book is a terrific example of why. A well done mystery that combines some romance, with some very good chilling moments. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a well paced, well written light thriller. I have already read it once, and will be looking forward to revisiting it again this summer. :)

"A home without books, is a body without a soul."

-Marcus Tullis Cicero

May 25th, 2006
Berkeley, California

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Results Of The Poll About Blogging

"I do not run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead I run toward it, because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet."

-Nadia Comaneci

Here is the results of the poll I ran last week, on what we find most challenging in regards to blogging. LOL. As you can see it is a bit small. Sigh. You see, technology has been kicking today, and so the full sized result box is now barely large enough to read. But that isn't the least of what technology has done to me today. LOL.

Other assorted snafus that occurred included a strange delay in emails I sent actually reaching their intended destinations. Some as much as 4 hours. I have no idea where they went first, or why there was an Internet holding pattern, but it happened. I am tempted from now on, to only send emails from my GMail address and not use AOL at all. Sheesh! It kinda makes me wonder if the OHS isn't spying on the secret recipe I sent to my Auntie Amanda in Virginia. It was just a recipe for Garden Lasagne. Although no one makes lasagne like moi. LOL

Out of 11 total votes counted, 6 of us, 56%, chose "The Technical Issues That Come Up," as our number one most challenging aspect of blogging. LOL. That doesn't surprise me a bit. Today for example, I wasn't able to post comments for a time on the AOL journals that participated in the Round Robin Challenges. It resolved itself rather quickly, but I only had a few minutes to try and reach everyone who was up and posted. I still haven't visited all the Robins, so if I haven't been by yet...I will be by soon. Blogger, by the way, has been acting up as well, so leaving comments through them has been challenging as well. Jeepers. What's a girl to do? Sigh. Oh well, tomorrow is another day. LOL.


Steven's Feline Friday: Sing It Elvis :)

"Rock and roll music, if you like it, if you feel it, you can't help but move to it. That's what happens to me. I can't help it."

-Elvis Presley

Sometimes people ask me, why I named my cat Elvis. The above photos tells the whole story. He looked so much like the "King" himself when he was a little guy, and he still does. He even enjoys rock music. LOL. No kidding. One of our best laughs, came one day when we put a CD of Elvis on the player, and about half way through we noticed he was no longer playing with his siblings, he was standing in place, shaking his hips. LOL. I am not kidding, it was like Elvis Presley had just been reincarnated into the our new little kitten! Unfortunately, that is also when we realized that if that were true it meant that Elvis really was dead. Something I try real hard not to believe. LOL. This is Elvis the early years, but just so you know, my kitty is now over 30 we also have Elvis the later years. Except my Elvis has 9 lives, and doesn't do catnip in his sandbox! LOL.

My friend Steven hosts a great little weekly meme, he calls, "Feline Friday." It's a lot of fun and a great way to show off your favorite feline. Pay a visit to his journal, "(sometimes) photoblog" for all the details.

And now a musical interlude...

A Little Less Conversation
By Elvis

A little less conversation, a little more action please
All this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me
A little more bite, and a little less bark
A little less fight and a little more spark
Close your mouth and open up your heart and baby satisfy me
Satisfy me baby

Baby close your eyes and listen to the music
Drifting through a summer breeze
It's a groovy night and I can show you to use it
Come along with me an put your mind at ease

A little less conversation, a little less action please
All this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me
A little more bite, and a little less bark
A little less fight and a little more spark
Close your mouth and open up your heart and baby satisfy me
satisfy me baby

Come on baby I'm tired of talking
grab your coat and let's start walking
Come on, come on, come on, come on
Don't procrastinate, don't articulate
Girl it's gettin late, gettin' upset waitin' around

A little less conversation, a little more action please
All this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me
A little more bite, a little less bark
A little less fight and a little more spark
Close your mouth and open up your heart and baby satisfy me
Satisfy me baby.

"Sweet Baby Elvis"
Berkeley, California
May, 1997

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Round Robin Challenge: Reflections

"One of the greatest moments in anybodies developing experience is when he no longer tries to hide himself, but determines to get acquainted with himself as he really is."

-Norman Vincent Peale

About a year ago, I decided to go and take some photos at Cliff House in San Francisco. Cliff House has a rich history, dating back to San Francisco at the turn of the century. It sits on a gorgeous spot,the Great Highway, and overlooks the Pacific Ocean. There is all kinds of plant life growing along the cliffs beneath it and the bird life is simply fascinating to watch. With the added attraction of Camera Obscura, one could spend the whole day there and not become bored. On this particular day, I was taking specific interest in the many types of birds flying around... this little guy especially.

I must have spent an hour that day photographing the birds flying, resting on the cliffs, and walking in the sand, but this was the only bird that day that seemed to take notice of his own reflection. He would take a step... and his shadow would follow. Back and forth he walked, but he couldn't seem to shake his reflection. LOL. What a show it was. LOL. I enjoy watching animals, especially when I can be there as they seem to be discovering new things. Now this may not have been a new experience for him, but it was for me. To just sit, take my time with the camera. Somehow, I did a little reflecting that day as well, about why I was being so manic with the camera. It was a good day. Reflection is good. :)

Thank you goes to Cheryl, author of the journals, "Welcome To My World," and "Life Through My Lens." This was an awesome challenge to be sure. The Round Robin Photo Challenges are open to anyone who would like to play along. It's easy, all you have to do is make a stop over at the official Round Robin blog, read the ***Welcome Entry & Rules Of Play**** and the entry for our current challenge, and you are all set. There is still time to get in on this challenge, you have up to one week to post your entry, but we do suggest that if you post on the day of the challenge, you will have the best chance of having your entry be seen. To see the entries by the other Round Robin participants, simply click on the links below. Enjoy!

"Seeing yourself as you want to be, is the key to personal growth."


"Little Bird Reflecting"
Cliff House
San Francisco, California
Late Spring, 2005

Round Robin Participants

1. Cheryl... "Welcome to My World," "Life Through My Lens." POSTED!

2. Karen... "Outpost Mavarin" POSTED!

3. Carly... "Ellipsis... Suddenly Carly" POSTED!

4. Valorie... "Retrospect USA" POSTED!

5. Sachin... "SacWorks" ***Welcome New Robin***

6. Deslily... "Here There and Everywhere 2nd Edition"
"Here There and Everywhere" BOTH POSTED!

7. Kimberleigh... "I Shaved My Legs For This?" POSTED!

8. Erika... "Stealing Time"

9. Nancy... "Nancy Luvs Pix" POSTED!

10. Julie... "Julie's Web Journal" POSTED!

11. T. J. ... "Every Picture Tells A Story" POSTED!

12. Suzanne... "Suzanne R's Life" POSTED!

13. Derek... "Through My Eyes" POSTED!

14. Tammy... "The Daily Warrior" POSTED!

15. Connie... "Moments To Remember"

16. Steven... "(sometimes) photoblog" POSTED!

17. Deb... "Sassy's EYE"

18. Dorn... "Through the Eyes of the Beholder" POSTED!

19. Steve... "PAPARRAZI BY PROXY" ***Welcome New Robin*** POSTED!

20. Betty... "My Day My Interests" POSTED!

21. Duane... "sotto voce USA" and "sotto voce" BOTH POSTED!

22. Tess... "First Digital Photos" POSTED!

23. rRose... "WAIT-NOTYET" POSTED!

24. Becky... "Where Life Takes You" POSTED!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Nap Time!

"If people were meant to pop out of bed, we'd all sleep in toasters."

-Jim Davis (Attributed)

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Show off your favorite place to nap, that's not your bed. Couches, hammocks, recliners... let's see where you doze in repose.

-John Scalzi (By The Way)

I took a sleep hygiene course a while back, because I have been a lifelong sufferer of insomnia. I learned a lot of very valuable skills for dealing with sleeplessness, one of the most important being that when I do lie down to sleep, it should always be in a bed. Not a couch, not a chair... a bed. Well, I tried to follow that suggestion, and I found that it was true. Once I stopped trying to sleep a full eight hours on my sofa, and actually got into my bed to sleep I did a whole lot better. My sofa was comfy, but nothing replaced the routine of sleeping in my bedroom.

Another useful hint I learned from that class, was the importance of the midday nap. For that, my the instructions weren't so rigid, in fact it was suggested that by taking a 30 minute nap as a refresher, it could help with trying to sleep for extended periods, such as the solid 8 hours that is recommended. The instructor of the course said that a nap could be taken anywhere, as long as it was no longer then 30 minutes in length. I have found that I don't have a choice whether or not I listen to my body about sleep, it tells me loud and clear what it needs. Since I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, I have learned the importance of sleep in making the rest of my body less achy. So, in addition to meditation, Qi Gong, and T'ai Chi, I also take a 30 minute nap as needed.

I usually sleep by my pool in the summer months, and sometimes well into autumn and winter, but this year it just hasn't been possible because of unseasonably cold temperatures and record rainfall. So, when I am in the house I take naps in my bed, but on days like today when it was clear and warm, I like to sleep under my pear tree in my back yard. I have a comfy, cozy blanket, my favorite vanilla scented pillow, and all the fresh air I can breathe. Most of the time, Elvis will cuddle up to me. He is my protector. LOL. It is a good feeling to hear his purr and feel his paw pads on my face when he decides I have been resting long enough. He is the sweetest alarm clock I have ever had. Ahhh. Rest and renew.

"A Sleep Place"
Berkeley, California
May 22, 2006

Governor Who?

"We'd all like to vote for the best man, but he is never a candidate."

-Frank McKinney

I read something in the newspaper yesterday (Monday) that truly put my nerves on edge. According to an article, in the Daily Review (Alameda Newspaper Group ) it might be likely that our next governor will be voted into office based on his being recognizable rather then on their merit as a politician. The article explained that the two men currently running for the top position on the Democratic ticket, Phil Angelides, and Steve Westly are relatively unknown to most California voters despite the fact that currently, Phil Angelides holds the office of State Treasurer and Westly is State Controller.

Recent polls have found that while California Democrats are quite vocal about their general displeasure in the job performance of Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, they have at the same time been somewhat lacking in indicating who will be chosen in two weeks, at the upcoming June 3rd primary, as a Democratic alternative. Both men have been running political ads for a few months now, and the heat is certainly being turned up as far as the political dirtiness that inevitably takes place. Both men had promised to not run any negative ads, but it didn't take long for that to change. Angelides is accusing Westly, a millionaire of trying to buy his bid for office, while Westly is countering by attacking Angelides's tax plan for California. According to the article, political analysts believe the attack campaigns, on both sides, will be getting worse over the next few weeks. I don't think I needed an analyst to tell me that.

The thing I have been trying my best to do, since the beginning of the year, is to figure out who will be the best person to put my faith in as a candidate. I tend to ignore, or sometimes completely block out, all campaigning commercials when they air on TV or the radio. I got burned out on all the mudslinging back when Reagan was president. I am sure I am not alone in that revulsion, so maybe I am not alone in the practice of tuning them out. Maybe that is why so many Californians seem to be taking an apathic approach to the upcoming primary. I can certainly understand it, and yet at the same time, it leaves me a bit perplexed.

I hear a lot about how important it is to get out and vote, and yet the same people who embrace that ideal apparently don't take a lot of interest in the election that places the alternative to the sitting governor on the ballot. If we end up with a lackluster candidate on the ballot, against someone we also don't believe in, who do we have to blame? I find it hard to believe that in the computer age, we don't have time to research who may be in charge of decisions involving California's environmental concerns, it's education budget, and it's taxes, just to name a few issues. What better way to deal with politicians, then to send a clear message about who and what we will tolerate in a candidate?

Tell me, do you feel a certain amount of voter apathy as the mid-term elections approach? Do you feel that the almost daily onslaught of negativity in the media regarding the Bush administration and the other various scandals involving elected officials in the news, adds to the general feeling of malaise regarding voting? Do you do any research into the candidates in an election, separate from news reports, either in print, or on broadcast news? If a candidate represents at least most of what you are looking for, yet begins running highly negative ads about his opponent, would you change your mind about who you voted for, based on that negativity? Tell me your thoughts.

"California Capitol Building"
Sacramento, California
November 2005

California Elections and Voter Information
Alameda County Registrar of Voters
Angelides For Governor
Westly For Governor
Rock The Vote

Monday, May 22, 2006

Dude Run! Don't Walk, Down Westeria Lane

"Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have, ever believed in, can hope to escape."

-William S. Burroughs

I watched the season finale of ABC's "Desperate Housewives," tonight, and I while I found it an enjoyable enough episode, I had to wonder a bit about what could have happened to this show? When it first premiered in September of 2004, I thought is was a smart, sassy, snazzy breath of fresh air. I was, and still am, tired of the obsession of "Reality TV." Some of those shows are so silly in premise, some are sick, while others are just plain insulting. I get that it's fun to have someone to root for, I guess I just prefer to do my rooting for ficticous characters. You have to remember, I was a young adult in the days of Dynasty and Knots Landing. Of course it was also during the greed of the 80's, but you also have to remember that the summer of "Who Shot J.R.?" was popular for a reason. Through those fictional characters we could, for at least an hour a week, pretend we could live a little through them. Feel glamorous, feel strong and self-assured. Sometimes even feel good about wanting a better life. there anything like pop culture to make you forget your woes? LOL.

I loved the character of Cigi Dunne on Knot's Landing. I loved the way she dressed, the way she wore her hair, the way she interacted with the other characters. Lisa Hartman played Cigi perfectly. Who would have figured that by the time the season finale would come around, she would be killed off in a cliffhanger? I thought it was done very well. All kinds of hostility and desperate circumstances had been following poor Cigi for weeks. She was a classically misunderstood herorine. Then in the last episode of the season, everything came to a shocking conclusion, when the camera pans across a dark, lonely, beach, where Cigi's body lay lifeless in the surf. Shocking! LOL. Of course it had me hooked all summer...I was sooo there when Knot's Landing came back the following season. Did Gary do it? Abby or Chip? Ginger or Richard? Who, who, who? LOL.

I don't feel any particular need to be there when "Desperate Housewives" comes back next season. There was a cliffhanger of sorts in tonight's season finale, but the thing is...I don't know if I care enough to watch it next season. I suppose it might depend on what it will be playing opposite. NBC and CBS haven't done much for me in recent years. I will miss the West Wing, but I am looking forward to the new show, "Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip," mostly because it will star Bradley Whitford, who played Josh Lymon, on West Wing. It will also star Matthew Perry, and it comes from Aaron Sorkin, who created The West Wing. With that combination, I believe it could be a hit. Good cast, good writing. Fingers crossed.

I haven't checked the fall schedules yet, to see what will be competing with what. I don't know...maybe I want to be surprised, maybe I just don't really care. I am hoping I haven't turned into a hopeless old coot. I'm, only 43. LOL. In the last few years I find myself watching more documentaries and science shows on Biography, A&E and the History Channel, then I do big network shows. As you know I am a big fan of Ghost Hunters,which is considered a "reality show." It airs on the Sci-Fi Channel, every Wednesday at 9:00 PM Eastern time. I mostly watch it because I enjoy the personal interactions between the members of TAPS, but of course once in a while they do provide a genuine, "what the heck was that?" moment.

It's a bit like a soap opera of sorts, only without the glamorous clothes, although they do have all new official TAPS T-Shirts and other gear available for around $20.00. You know...for any ghost hunting you might have planned in your real life. LOL. Hey, I love a good ghost hunt, don't you? My favorite quote of that show comes by way of Brian, the Taps team member who might be considered by some to be the weakest link. Whenever he thinks he is over his head, he accepts it, and bellows a simple, "Dude Run!" Sounds reasonable to me. LOL. Now THAT is good "reality" TV! Maybe there is something to be said for keeping it real. :)

Tell me, do you have a favorite "TV MOMENT?" Is there a show you are looking forward to either coming back next fall or one that will be premiering? Share with me what you think.

"A Walk On Westeria Land"
Castro Valley, California
Spring, 2006

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Interlude

"No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, no fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds...November."

-Thomas Hood

Can you tell I am missing autumn? :) The rain storm that was promised for today, never really got least it didn't get to Berkeley. Oh there was cloud cover, and the air felt thick, like just before a big downpour, but the rain never did come. Somehow, I think it made me a little sad. I think I had been looking forward to the way everything smells after it rains. With summer only a few weeks away, this was being called the last interlude of cool weather before the heat of summer invades. Sigh. As much as it hurts my body when it's cold outside, it stimulates my mind and my senses just as much. I think clearer...everything seems to focus better. The world just seems to turn more gently, when it's raining. And when it rains in autumn...well...THAT is when I feel most alive.

I took this photo in Nevada, in the afternoon of a day in late October. It had been raining earlier in the day, but at this point there was just a heavy mist in the air. The temperature was cool, not cold, but I was really glad I had my warm brown sweater with me. There was inspiration everywhere. The trees directly behind me, were lit up with bright, new yellow leaves that looked like perfect lemon drops. And when the sun did peak through the clouds, and managed to dance off the leaves, it almost looked like golden tears, falling to the earth. Sigh. As melancholy as it all was more dreamy then I can even say. Sensual beyond reason.

It was the end of October, but the November man was on my mind. He tends to invade my thoughts on days like that. And days like today. He will always be November to me, he was falling leaves, he was that chill in the air, he was the music playing on the radio, he was the first and last bite of autumn fruit. And every time we parted...I couldn't quite remember what he looked like. He caused me to go blind. He still does. The one thing I do remember, even after 20 + years is the way his eyes dance, that sparkle of blue. He was beyond reason.

Musical Interlude...

Falling By Lablanc & Carr

I think about winter, when I was with him
And the snow was falling down
Warmed by the fire, I love being by him
When there's no one around

'Cause I'm falling, I'm falling
I'm love with you

I think about summer, my head was swimming
You wrote my name in the sand
We walked together, hoping forever
Please don't let go of my hand

'Cause I'm falling, I'm falling
I'm love with you
In love with you

The fall and the springtime, and like in-between times
Your here and then your gone away
And I just wanted to say
Won't you please, please stay

'Cause I'm falling, I'm falling
I'm love with you
In love with you...In love with you.

"Like In-between Time"
October 29, 2005
Late Afternoon