Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Stuffin's

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive; and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

-Howard Thurman

As you know, I have been collecting photos of discarded furniture. Specifically, discarded sofas that have been left curbside, around the town of Berkeley. It seems to be a phenomenon connected to the influx of college life. As one class graduates, the next class discards the old sofas of the frat and sorority houses. Well...that's what I choose to think. LOL. See, I love it here, this town inspires me at every turn. The history. The art. The fact that the houses and neighborhoods show some individuality, instead of the relentless lines of cookie cutter housing tracks you will find in other parts of the Bay Area. It's rarely boring here, and as a result, I have seen some extraordinary sights, such as the seasonal purge of the sofa's of Berkeley.

It's fun to think of Allen Ginsburg, having lived less then a block from my favorite cheese shop. A shop that has been on Shattuck avenue, for over 30 years. He could have bought cheese and maybe one the awesome breads they make, and walked home to write at least a part of his classic, and once banned work, "Howl." Not too far from where my therapist's office sits, is the very frat house that was used in one scene of the movie, "The Graduate." Heck, "Moe's Books," is still on Telegraph avenue, and it was also featured in the movie.

There are some other landmarks around town. On College avenue, there is a tree with some ribbons, and some flowers leaning against it, in memory of a young woman who was shot and killed last summer. A young lady who had a bright future ahead of her, had someone made a different decision the night she was killed, and left the gun at home. Her name was, Meleia Willis-Starbuck. The young man who caused her death, as it turns out, was a friend of hers, Christopher Hollis. The case hasn't gone to trial yet, and I am sure there will be a much more to the story, but the fact that it all ended the way it did was a sad commentary on what can go so fast.

It was an ironic fact, that Mr. Hollis contends, that Meleia had called her friend, and asked him to bring the gun the night she had been killed, because earlier in the evening she had been "dissed" by a group of men. Like I said, the case hasn't gone to trial, so some facts have neither been proven or disproved, but the fact remains, a loaded gun was brought to an already heated situation. What good could have ever come of it? Her murder took place over a year ago, and there is still a memorial to her, beneath a lovely old tree, that sits on a common Berkeley street. Meleia Willis-Starbuck, would have graduated Dartmouth University, as a member of the class of 07.

That's just one incident that sticks out in my mind, because I pass that simple memorial to Meleia, often in my travels, and it's poignancy always catches my eyes. It makes me wish that we could take certain days we have already lived, and somehow try to intervene so that something bad wouldn't have to happen. There are paths in life however, and I don't believe too much in the randomness of things. Decisions are ours to make, along with mistakes, but we can also, sometimes get it right. We can choose to not make the monumental mistake of letting anger run our lives and define us. It all has to start somewhere.

Sometimes, I like to try and imagine, who might have been studying to make the world a better place, while sitting on one of those couches or chairs that I love to photograph. A future politician? A future member of "Doctor's Without Boarders?" A social worker who will work with the needy? How about a future "Teacher of the Year?" I know... who knows? There's no real way to know. But the possibilities are pretty great. LOL. That poor chair looks like someone's dog, maybe a Rotweiller, just tore the stuffin's out of it. LOL. I wonder who's chair it was? Care to ponder that question with me? Any guesses? If you want, leave me your guess in the comment thread for this entry. :)

Meleia Willis-Starbuck's, Dartmouth Memorial

"The Stuffin's"
Berkeley, California
August 2th, 2006

Friday, August 04, 2006

John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #123: Dog v. Cats... There Can Be Only One

"If you hold a cat by the tail, you learn things you cannot learn any other way."

-Mark Twain

Weekend Assignment: 123: Dogs. Cats. There can be only one! Choose which you prefer and tell us why. No weaseling out, people... you can't say "oh I like them both." You must choose! Don't worry: In real life all the cats or dogs won't disappear if you choose the other species. Honestly, as long as you keep the food coming, everything will be groovy with your pets. So pick one, already. We promise we won't tell. And pets can't read.

Extra Credit: Isn't it obvious? Cat pictures! Dog pictures! Go nuts!

-John Scalzi

Cats or dogs? Hmmm. Well, I have owned both, but I will have to say, at this point in my life, CATS RULE! "Why?" You ask. Well, here are a few very good reasons...

Cats rule, because sometimes they smile when they are sleeping!

Cats rule, because sometimes they ask to wear goggles!

Cats rule, because sometimes they just do!

Cats rule, because they can dress quite stylish! :)

My cat rules, because he pats my tears when I cry, growls at George Bush, when he is on the TV, sits on my feet when they are painful and swollen, and he is a great listener. He will have no part of Alan and I fussing with each other, and he loves the wild birds, opossums, and other creatures that happen through our yard. In truth, I don't know about all cats, but I do know, my cat RULES!

Extra Credit: See Above!

"Elvis Has Left The Table"
"Elvis 1, 2, 3, 4"
Berkeley, California

Steven's Feline Friday: Cats Rule!

"Cats are dangerous companions for writers, because cat watching is a near-perfect method of writing avoidance."

My good friend Steven, author of the blog, "(sometimes) photoblog" is still on vacation, so Elvis and I are hosting this week's, round of "Feline Friday." Last week, Julie and her kitties took a turn at hosting. Another Julie, came by to share her kitties with us. :) If you haven't already done so, please pay both Julie's a visit. :) Steven will be back next week, and the regular schedule will resume at his blog.

It's kind of fun taking my turn this week, because John Scalzi has tapped into the age old debate for this week's Weekend Assignment. Which is it... "Dog v. Cat...There Can Be Only One." I bet you already know what I say... "Cat's Rule!" LOL. If you think so too, leave your link in the comment thread for this entry, then go to Steven's blog next week. :) How fun is that? :)

"Elvis In Profile"
Berkeley, California
August 3, 2006
Late Afternoon

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Caption This!

Please click the above photo to see a larger version!

"To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting un a ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them."

-Elliott Erwit

I thought it might be fun have a little change of pace. How about we play a contest of, "Caption This!" I found the above scene, just yesterday, while out in my travels around town. I thought it was a pretty unique scene, but I have no idea what to title the photo. It was taken right at midday, and the sun was really being unkind, so I will probably go back and do another photo in more cooperative lighting sometime this next week, but for now, what would you caption this scene? Leave me your guess in this comment thread for this entry, and feel free to comment as many times as you like, but please make each guess a separate comment. :) The winner will receive one of my original photos. The game is open until Sunday night at midnight, eastern time. Good Luck. :)

Berkeley, California
August 2, 2006

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Fit Shaced

"I drink to stay warm... and to kill selected memories... ."

-Conor Oberest

A little over a week ago I put a new poll on the sidebar of this journal, about the summer wave of celebrities behaving badly. LOL. You can read the original entry here. As you can see from the listed incidents, they are mostly things that while sometimes sad and possibly hurtful to the parties involved, some might be considered a bit humorous to you and I. I didn't choose behaviors which could be considered dangerous, with the possible exceptions of the incident regarding Colin Farrell's apparent stalker, approaching him on Jay Leno, the reckless driving of Haley Joel Osment, or the drunk driving charge given to Daniel Baldwin. I take the stalking incident a little more serious, then the others, especially since the death of the young star Rebecca Schaffer, who was shot and killed by a crazed fan. She was so young, and had such a promising future. Sigh. My poll was meant as a tongue a tongue-in-cheek look at the silliness that goes on in Hollywood, but something happened recently, that didn't have me chuckling one bit. Actually, it had me feeling a little sad. It was the incident involving Mel Gibson's DUI.

By now, most of you have more then likely heard all the sordid details of Gibson's arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol, last weekend, and you also know about the anti-semitic statements he admits to making to a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy. You may have already read the TWO apologies, he has made regarding those remarks and his DUI, since last Friday. While I believe that apologies made in honesty should be forgiven, I am a little more reluctant to believe that, in this case, he really means it. Not because I believe he is trying to save his career, not because I think he is evil. I think it's a lie he is trying to tell himself because there is something so broken inside him, that it hurts him too much to least on his own.

I know a little about alcoholism, and how it affects the families, friends, co-workers and yes, even fans, of the afflicted. Mel Gibson has made an outward appeal for forgiveness, his agent says that he has checked himself into a rehab facility, in an effort to once again, regain control of a disease that has plagued him for at least 20 years. He seems to be really making an effort to make amends. But see, once you are an alcoholic, you are always in danger of falling back into a bottle when something hurts you bad enough, that you to want to hide from the pain. Alcohol is a depressant. It takes someone who is already in pain, and guides them further into the darkness of depression. What a liar. There you are feeling tipsy, warm, and maybe on top of the world, until you begin to come down, and what you are left with are feelings of extreme sadness...and mind bending pain. Those who love you are helpless to ease that pain, all we can do is hope when you do land, it will be a safe one. All we can do is HOPE.

"This is about real life and recognizing the consequences hurtful words can have."

-Mel Gibson

The thing that strikes me about that statement is the underlying honesty. He isn't saying that he isn't anti-semitic, he is saying that one must take responsibility for the hurtful things which may be said, when under the influence of alcohol. Most people don't like the idea of saying hurtful things for the sheer joy of hurting a particular someone or a group, but that isn't always true. In this case, it seems to me that perhaps he is more sorry that he spoke his true feelings in such a despicable manner. Or possibly he is embarrassed because he does indeed know that, that type of cruelty is simply unacceptable, not just in Hollywood, but in most communities. Maybe both are true. If he really does have some anti-semitic idealology deep down, maybe his wishes on some level that he didn't. He claims that it would go against his religious beliefs to be bigoted in any way. It is an unfortunate fact, that being religious, even deeply religious, doesn't stop us from forming less then traditional religious attitudes.

It happens. Sorry, but it does. Even devote believers will tap into that all to humanness of ours, and sometimes a deep conflict will take place. The world can be a very harsh place, even for someone who seems to have it all. Talent, looks, money, love, respect, drive, courage. It is my opinion that depression is the most human thing that can happen to someone. It has many causes, grief, unresolved grief, disappointment in work or relationships, even chemical imbalances within the blood. Sometimes we simply don't know why we are depressed...we just know we are. I was diagnosed with Manic-depression in the early 1980's. I knew something was really wrong, but had no idea what it could have been. I was up for a couple weeks at a time, then I would crash to the lowest of lows. When I was up, there was no drug that could compare to the high.

The fall was the scary part. I wanted to be dead. Thank goodness I sought help. A few years of therapy, and some medication to stabilize my moods, and I got it under control. Eventually, I didn't have to take the medication any more, and I haven't had a recurrence in a number of years. Alan knew me when, and he knows what to watch for, because it can be a sneaky thing to deal with. I was also diagnosed with Clinical Depression, which is something completely different. That occurred after a singular isolated incident, and is always present to a degree, although I keep it in check by attending therapy once a week, if for no other reason, then to simply check in and say that life is good. We live in a wacky world, so there is always a little something to work on. LOL. I prefer to work on things when they are little, rather then wait till they become big and scary.

Speaking of big and scary. I think there is something hurting Mr. Gibson...don't you? Are we, the fans, really the ones who should be passing out the forgiveness? Are we the ones who should be forgetting his bad behavior? Speaking solely for myself here, I don't happen to think it is all that shocking that a drunk guy said something repulsive to a cop who was arresting him. I believe the police officer, James Mee, when he says he considered it a routine arrest and that he, "didn't take seriously any comments that the actor made." Let's face it, he was arresting a drunk man, something I imagine he has done many times before, and has probably heard at least that bad or worse. When people drink, what they wouldn't say or do otherwise, tends to manifest. And they are ALWAYS sorry the next day.

It is natural to say, "it's ok, I forgive you," when someone apologizes to us. Sure, of course it is. Sometimes the deeper the slight, the more ready we are to forgive and move on. We want the pain to be gone, as bad as the person who hurts us does. The thing is, alcoholism is the symptom of something much deeper going on, and until that original pain or ache is truly dealt with, there is no real chance of healing. In my personal experience, saying, "it's ok," can become a form of enabling of the afflicted in their poor behavior, because we hand them a safe place to land after they have lost control. It hurts so bad to tell someone you love that, "'s not need to fix the real problem." Even in cases where one is predisposed to alcoholism, one still makes the decision to pick up the bottle.

Ultimatum's don't work. Threats don't work. Sometimes the person will accept help, and let you really be there for them, sometimes they are not ready to fix the pain because of how bad it hurts, sometimes nothing can be done. Sigh. have to say...goodbye. I hope someone will finally love him enough to say the words, and mean it, "You have to fix the real problem, the problem hurting you, causing you to pick up the bottle." The deaths that happen each year from drunk driving accidents never have to happen, but somehow that fact doesn't stop them from happening anyway, and by that time it's much too late for forgiveness.


Note: If you need help in dealing with someone close to you who is afflicted with alcoholism, consider contacting Alanon or check for support groups in your area.

Alanon web site

For another look at the recent celebrity mishaps, drop by my friend Patrick's blog.

"Celebrities Need Reality Checks...And So Do We!"

"About On Other Celebrity Caught Behaving Badly"

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Your Monday Photo Shoot: On Your Porch/Patio

"Fear is like a darkroom, where negatives develop"

-Usman B. Asif

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Show us something interesting on the porch or patio of your house or apartment. For those of you with neither, fire escapes and window sills will suffice.

-John Scalzi (By The Way)

My porch is pretty boring, it has a couple chairs, a cotton candy machine, and a man-eating Venus Flytrap named Daisy. Boring. Now, on the porch belonging to my thearpist Sarah, on the other hand, are things worth writing about! LOL. For starters...a big, funky, hairy, weird, ACK...spider! I think it might be the resident "face your fears already" object lesson. LOL. I have decided he came with the name "Dirk." I don't know why, but every time I see him, hovering beneath that lovely lantern, I just think the name..."Dirk."

Could be a "Dirk" I suppose. Who knows. What do you think...does he look like a "Dirk" to you? I tried to do a little research to find out what type of spider he is specifically...but it just gave me a huge case of the wiggins to even try. LOL. So, if you happen to know what kind of spider he is, feel free to leave the info in the comment thread of this entry. Dirk is a good guy, we always wave when we see each other, and we have been on a first name basis for quite a while now. Therapy, and facing your fears, is a good thing, but Sarah and I still have a long way to go! LOL.

Itsy Bitsy Spider
By Carly Simon

The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again

I believe in love
And who knows where or when
but it's comin' around again

I know nothing stays the same
But if you're willing to play the game
It's comin' around again

(Repeat Chorus)

Bug Guide

"Itsy Bitsy, Freaky, Deaky, Spider Named Dirk"
"Sarah's Head"
Berkeley, California
Late Spring, 2005

Monday, July 31, 2006

A Day At Fort Point

"What is history? An echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the future on the past"

-Victor Hugo

Last May, I took a weekend tour of historic Fort Point, in San Francisco. It was my first time viewing the inside of the fort, but as you know from my photos, I come to the outside of the fort often, to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge, or just enjoy some quiet time. It is a peaceful place, and extremely photogenic. I have taken some of my personal favorite photos there, including the one with the seagull who wanted my spaghetti lunch! LOL. When you see Fort Point from this perspective, you would never guess how big it is on the inside.

"The fort was completed just after the beginning of the Civil War. It was first garrisoned in February of 1861 by Company I, 3rd U.S. Artillery Regiment." While the fort was manned throughout the Civil War, it would soon after become obsolete. The troops stationed at the fort were removed in 1886, and the last cannon was removed in 1900. After that, the fort was mainly used as a storage depot and for military training exercises.

During the early to late 1930's, the fort was the main base of operations for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, but during WWII, the fort was again used as a lookout for possible enemy submarines which may have tried to enter the Golden Gate. The fort was made an official National Historic site on October 16th, 1970. Today it is closed for tours, except on the weekends. It has a rich history, and many fascinating displays of what military was like throughout the years. One area I found particularly interesting, was the view of the officers living quarters.

Here are a few of the sights that caught my interest...

Vintage cannon, on display in the main courtyard of the fort.

Steep cement spiral staircase downward from the third floor.

The hallways of the inside corridors. Sometimes so dark, you couldn't see your hand right in front of your face. Kinda spooky!

One of the many windows that were once armed with cannons, at the back of the fort, that faced the Pacific ocean and the entrance to the Golden Gate. They have been closed off with sheets of plastic and heavy paper, but there have been little holes made over the years for visitors to be able to see out.

It is an eerie sight to behold. The land that you see from the window, is actually the Marin County coastline.

A peek inside the kitchen of the Officer's quarters. During the Civil War, there was a ration system in place. The ration order read as follows...

"General Orders" No. 226 War Department, July 8th, 1864

Section 2nd of the ACT approved June 20, 1864, published in General Orders No. 216, current series, having modified the Army ration, the following regulations on that subject will be observed:

1. The ration is:-
12 ozs. of pork or bacon, or 1 lb. 4 ozs. of salt or fresh beef
18 ozs. of soft bread or flour, or 12 ozs. of hard breads, or 1 lb 4 ozs. of corn meal
and to every 100 rations...
15 lbs. of beans or peas, or 10 lbs. of rice or hominy
10 lbs. of green coffee, or 8 lbs. of roasted (or roasted and ground) coffee, or 1 lb 8 ozs. of tea
15 lbs. of sugar
4 qts. vinegar
1 lb 4 ozs. of adamantine or star candles
4 lbs. of soap
3 lbs. 12 ozs. of salt
4 ozs. of pepper

Major Pauline Cushmon Fryer

"The first U.S. woman to be commissioned, served as a spy for the Union Army. She was captured and nearly executed by the Confederate Army. She is buried in the Presidio Cemetery."

A close-up view of one of my favorite lighthouses to photograph. This is the view from the top (3rd floor) of the fort. As you can see, it sits directly beneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

It's an amazing and interesting place to visit and photograph. I enjoyed the day very much. I would like to go back sometime soon, and do a few more photos of the lighthouse and the views of Marin County and San Francisco from the top floor of the fort.

Fort Point
San Francisco, California
May 13th, 2006

Sunday, July 30, 2006


"My love for you is a journey; Starting at forever, and ending at never."


As if visiting the Monet exhibit last Thursday, wasn't enough to warm my soul, when I walked out of the Legion of Honor that day, I noticed this lovely young couple posing for their wedding pictures. They looked so in love. It was late in the day, and the museum was closing, so I sat on the steps and watched, as they took different poses for their wedding album. I couldn't help but snap a few photos of the bride and groom, they were simply beaming at each other. It was a very nice way to end the day! It's been a while since I have shared some of the historic letters I used to put with my entries on "Ellipsis...The Moonlight Gallery," so I thought it would be a nice touch to include a couple letters with this entry. Enjoy!

The first letter...

Count Leo Tolstoy to Valeria Arsenev (fiance)
November 2, 1856

I already love in you your beauty, but I am only beginning to love in you that which is eternal and ever precious... your heart, your soul. Beauty one could get to know and fall in love with in one hour and cease to love it as speedily; but the soul one must learn to know. Believe me, nothing on earth is given without labour, even love, the most beautiful and natural of feelings.

The second letter is by John Keats, to his wife...

I cannot exist without you. I am forgetful of everything but you again. My life seems to stop there, I see no further. You have absorbed me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I were dissolving. I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for religion...I shuddered at it...I shudder no more. I could be martyr'd for my religion: Love is my religion. I could die for that. I could die for you. My creed is love, and you are it's only tenet. You have ravish'd me away by a power I cannot resist.


So In Love
By Housemartins

As we stroll along together
Holding hands and walking all alone
So in love are we two
That we don't know what to do

So in love
So in love

As we walk along together
'neath the stars twinkling high above
So in love are we two
That we don't know what to do

So in love
So in love

I tell, tell you my darling
I need you, I need you oh so much
I love, I love you my darlin
Can't you feel it in my touch

As we walk down the aisle together
As we vow to stay together till we die
So in love are we two
Just can't wait to say I do

So in love, so in love
So in love, so much in love
Oh you and I
So in love

Last Thursday, was a magical day in the universe. And there was art everywhere, if one only took the time to stop and look.

"So In Love"
The Legion of Honor
San Francisco, California
July, 2006
Late Afternoon