Saturday, October 21, 2006


"I've watched you now for a half-hour; Self poised upon that yellow flower, and little butterfly... Indeed I know not if you sleep or feed. How motionless! Not frozen seas. More motionless! And then what joy awaits you, when the breeze hath found you out among the trees, and calls you forth again!"

-William Wordsworth, "To A Butterfly"

Imagine, a perfect autumn day, spent driving along the 17 mile drive, which winds along the central California coastline. That autumn sun, so golden, the air rich with the scent of the last wildflowers of the year, and the sound of sea birds, making a joyful noise. That was my day Friday. It was an almost perfect day, as days go. Life was everywhere and nothing was being taken for granted. I saw beauty in the light, and the colors of a typical autumn day.

As if all that beauty somehow wasn't enough, I was given a late afternoon gift. We arrived in Pacific Grove at about 11:00 am, and immediately drove to the Monarch butterfly Sanctuary. I wanted to try to photograph the butterflies in the earliest light possible. The temperature was quite warm, which meant the butterflies were at their most active. If you sat down on one of the benches, and trained your eyes toward the blue sky, you would see 20 or so, large monarchs dancing across the sky. They were easy to spot, because the mid-morning sun was casting off their crimson wings, making them appear among the eucalyptus leaves, as red hot embers.

It was difficult to get good photos, so we decided to comeback later in the day, when it would be cooler and they would be more likely to be huddled together for warmth. We arrived back at the sanctuary at about 4:00 PM, to find that the butterflies were indeed now huddled in clusters, high in the trees. I set my camera toward one particular cluster of dead leaves, hanging low from a lower bough. As I snapped away, I caught sight of more clusters of Monarchs nearby.

Suddenly, I heard Alan exclaim, "Oh my!" As I took my eyes off the grouping I had been photographing, I looked upward to see what was later estimated to be, 10,000 monarch butterflies, which had decided to take flight all at once! And fly they did, dancing above my head, silently, but their beauty was stunning all the same. I was caught so off-guard by what I had seen, that I stopped looking for that perfect photo, and just allowed myself to make a memory instead.

Imagine, 10,000 monarch butterflies, flying above your head, and making your mind swirl, as you try to follow them in all directions. It was magic! I am so glad I didn't capture that perfect photo, because I may have missed the memory of the butterfly ballet, that a perfect October day gave me.

"There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in it's sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!"

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

Pacific Grove Butterfly Sanctuary
Pacific Grove, California
October 20, 2006

Friday, October 20, 2006

John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment # 135: Songs For A Spooky Evening

"Can love really travel back in time and heal a broken heart? Was it our joined hands that finally lifted Maria's curse? I'd like to think so. But there are some things I know for certain; always throw spilt salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for luck, and fall in love whenever you can."

-Sally Owens -From "Practical Magic"

Weekend Assignment: We're making a Halloween Music Mix! Suggest a song. The song can be scary, spooky or silly, but it should fit into Halloween somehow. All genres are acceptable; indeed, I'd be very interested to know of a country or samba song that would work.

Extra Credit: Are you spooked easily?

-John Scalzi (By The Way)

There are a few musical pieces that seem to run through my head this time of year, two of them are instrumentals, that were featured in the movie, "Practical Magic." The first tune is called, " Practical Magic," the second is a companion piece titled, "Amas Veritas." Both are lovely, and would go nicely on a mixed, seasonal CD, especially if you have seen the movie." When hear those tunes, I immediately think of all that is autumn, including Halloween.

However, as I said, they don't contain lyrics, so my second choice for this entry would be the very spooky, "Rhiannon," by Fleetwood Mac. While this song wasn't featured in the movie, it is keeping with a theme. Rhiannon is a haunting enough tune, which for whatever reason, has always seemed to send a chill up my back. See, Rhiannon is a witch, and apparently a rather spooky one...

By Fleetwood Mac

Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night
And wouldn't you love to love her?
Takes to the sky like a bird in flight
And who would be her lover?

All your life you've never seen a woman
Taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven
Will you ever win?

She is like a cat in the dark
And then she is the darkness
She rules her life like a fine skylark
And when the sky is starless

All your life you never seen a woman
Taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven?
Will you ever win?
Will you ever win?

Rhiannon, Rhiannon
Rhiannon, Rhiannon

She rings like a bell through the night
And wouldn't you love to love her?
She rules her life like a bird in flight
And who would be her lover?

All your life you've never seen a woman
Taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven?
Will you ever win?
Will you ever win?

Taken by, taken by the sky
Taken by, taken by the sky
Taken by, taken by the sky

Dreams unwind, love's a state of mind
Dreams unwind, love's a state of mind

If you haven't seen the movie, "Practical Magic," see the movie. Better yet, if you haven't read the book, "Practical Magic," by Alice Hoffman, read the book. If you like really good music, the soundtrack is fantastic. :)

Extra Credit: No, I don't scare too easily, although once in a while...EEEEEEEK moments occur even to this fan of all things spooky. BWAHHAHAHAHAHAAHA!

Screen Shot from Practical Magic

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Beauty Everywhere

"Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in, and pray in, where nature may heal and cheer and give you strength to body & soul alike."

-John Muir

Yesterday, (Wednesday) was my last visit to the Butterfly Exhibit at the Conservatory of Flowers. The exhibit closes next week, and I won't have a chance to go back before it closes. Sigh. It makes me a little sad to see it go, but at the same time, it has been such a great source of inspiration for me. I have learned a lot about photographing butterflies from that exhibit, and other winged creatures as well. :) I am not as afraid as I once was, to jump right in and photograph the flowers and all the beauty that surrounds them... even the bees! :)

I am completely tired tonight, it was really warm in San Francisco today, so I am afraid I was tempted to push myself a bit. It was beach weather really, and I considered going down to the beach and letting the sand tickle my toes, but instead I decided to go home early when I began to feel tired. It's a good kind of tired that I feel, the kind where all I can think about is how good life is. :) I was supposed to go on a trip down the coast today, to photograph the Monarch mirgration to Pacific Grove, but I am too tired, so we are going on Friday instead. That's ok, it's just one of those plan B's I mentioned. :)

Scenes from Wednesday...


Amazing Hibiscus

Polydamas Swallowtail

An unusual, hairy, orchid! Weird!

Blue Bananas growing on the ceiling of the conservatory.

Pink Amazon Water Lily

Golden Gate Bridge, as seen from Twin Peaks. The hills behind the bridge are in Marin County, (the Headlands) and if you look very closely, you can see the Waldo Tunnel.

Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, California
October 18, 2006

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Round Robin Challenge: Very Scary

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-legged beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us.

-Scottish Saying

We are upon my favorite time of year, autumn, and in this season sits my favorite holiday, Halloween! When I was a little girl, holidays were not really embraced in our home, in fact most holidays became of the time for family squabbles, rather then the joy of spending time together, but for some reason, Halloween was the one holiday when my parents didn't fight, and my siblings ignored. That left a good amount of time for my father and I to just relax and just enjoy the fun of the day. The costumes, the pumpkin carving, the ghost stories on TV...we were ready for all of it. Halloween is still my favorite holiday, it is the bestest time of the year!

I am a big fan of ghost stories, as most of you know, so it probably doesn't come as a big surprise to you that I watch my favorite movie, "What Lies Beneath," several times a month. LOL. There is a scene that was deleted from the movie in which, Claire Spencer, is looking at a photo she had taken of the roses in her garden, and finds something rather sinister instead. In the window of her home, directly behind the rose she is photographing, is the ghostly face of a young woman! How spooky would that be? To think you are photographing something as lovely as a rose, only to find something much different in the photo?

I had a Claire Spencer moment earlier this year, after a visit to the Haight/Ashbury section of San Francisco. Alan was driving down Haight street, and I was snapping photo after photo. Haight/Ashbury is a very photogenic part of town, there is all kinds of colorful businesses and people. Lots of style and art to be seen. When I got home from our jaunt across the bay, I began to have a look at the photos I had taken. When I got to the above photo, at first I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, but the second time I looked at it, I saw the blue face in the window. I have to admit... I felt a pang of fear, and I sat up with a start! Funny how something like that can catch you so off guard. :) It was cool to have a silly little scare, in April. No waiting for Halloweeen this year! :)

Here are a couple more close-up's of the face in the window, and a few more things that could be scary, under the right conditions...

"Where there is no imagination, there is no horror."

-Arthur Conan Doyal, Sr.

A dark, lonely, isolated road at night...

"There are few monsters, who warrant the fear we have of them."

-Andre Gide

An approaching thunder storm...

"Tis now the very witching time of night, when churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out contagion to this world."

- William Shakespeare

Marriage... Beatlejuice, Beatlejuice, Beatlejuice...

"Anything I've ever done that ultimately was worthwhile... initally scared me to death." - Ruth Gendler


"There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them."

-Andre Gide

A full moon, on Halloween or Friday 13th...

"How like a queen comes forth the lonely Moon, from the slow opening curtains of the clouds. Walking in beauty to her midnight throne!"

-George Croly

Thanks goes this time to our friend, and fellow Robin, Julie. She is the author of the fabulous journal, "Stately Barrett Manor." Thank you Julie, this was a lot of fun to do. Be sure to visit all the members of the Round Robin Challenges, by clicking the links below. Don't forget to stop by the official Round Robin Blog on Thursday of this week, to find out what our next challenge will be!

Linking List

Julie... Julie's Web Journal POSTED!
Steven... (sometimes) photoblog POSTED!
Carly... Ellipsis...Suddenly Carly POSTED!
Dorn... Through The Eyes Of The Beholder POSTED!
Karen... Outpost Mavarin POSTED!
DesLily... Here, There and Everywhere 2nd Edition POSTED!
DesLily... Here, There and Everywhere POSTED!
Suzanne R... New Suzanne R's Life POSTED!
Danella... Deep Red Style POSTED!
Linda (Lou) ... Blah Blah Blog POSTED!
Robin... R's Musings ***Welcome New Member*** POSTED!
John... Personal Effects POSTED!
Janet... Fond of Photography POSTED!

"Wanna See Something Really Scary?"
San Francisco, California
April, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Off-Color Photos

"Artists can color the sky red, because they know it's blue. Those of us who aren't artists must color things the way they really are or people might think we're stupid."

-Jules Feiffer

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Turn something an unexpected color. Most photo editing software will let you fiddle with the hue of your photos. Use that feature to make your photos subject a color it would be impossible (or at least unlikely, very unlikely_ for it to be in real life.

-John Scalzi (By The Way)

I put several photos into the color adjuster in my Photo Explosion workshop, and this is what I came up with. I thought it would be fun to include the original photos, so that you can see the before and after of each one. Enjoy!

Pink Amazon Water Lily

Green Sunset In San Simeon

San Simeon Sunset as it actually appeared.

Blue Tiger

Isn't he amazing? :)

Conservatory of Flowers
San Francisco, California
San Simeon, California
San Francisco Zoo

Monday, October 16, 2006

Tick... Tock... Meme Monday

"What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter... a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue."

-Henri Matisse

Glenda, sent me a cute little meme yesterday, it is one of the memes that gives us a closer look at our pals in the land, so I thought it would be a fun entry for a Monday. :) Thanks Glenda! Also, about the art in the above photo. I will probably feature it in one of my upcoming, Art About Town, entries. It is a stunning sculpture which sits on the Embarcadero, just outside Pier 14. It was dedicated this past June, but I haven't had the opportunity to drop by and get a really good photo of the sculpture in the sunlight. It is made from a dark bronze, and tends to show up in silhouette when it is cloudy like it was yesterday. Still, not bad for a photo taken out the window of a moving car! LOL. Now on with the meme.

Tick... Tock... Test

1. What is the most important expression that you need to really feel loved?

A. I guess the complete attention of another. Not constantly, I am a little more self-assured then that, but when I am sad or feeling lost.

2. After work, on the average day, the thing that would mean the most to you is?

A. Well I am not working right now, but when I did, it meant a lot to me to have 30 minutes all to myself to shake the day off.

3. When you come home to a messy house, it makes you feel?

A. Tired, because I knew I should have cleaned before I went out.

4. When you come home to a clean house it makes you feel?

A. Relaxed. :)

5. A great night out is?

A. A really good meal, and really good company.

6. A great weekend is?

A. Time out with the camera. Any season. :)

7. Your top five favorite things to do are?

A. Camera time, spooky movies, Listen to music, create new recipes, play with Elvis.

8. One place that you just can't get enough of?

A. Golden Gate Park.

9. Name five places you have never been to before that you would like to visit.

A. London, Seattle, Juno, Paris, Tuscany.

10. The one thing in your life that you would never want to change?

A. How quiet my life is. :)

11. The one thing in your life you would most like to change?

A. My Fibromyalgia. It is holding me back from things I wanted to do. Oh well.

12. The chore you most enjoy?

A. Cooking. I like feeling creative, and putting together recipes is very enjoyable to me.

13. The chore you most dislike?

A. Cleaning the bathroom.

14. If money were no object what kind of house would you have and where would it be located?

A. I would love to live in a house, next to a lighthouse. Anywhere along the Pacific/Northwest.

15. If money were no object, what kind of vehicle would you drive?

A. I like Jaguar's, but to be truthful, I have been really happy with my Saturn, so I would probably still own my Saturn ION. :)

16. What is the most important thing you would like other people to know about you?

A. That I have a serious side. I let my sense of humor run freely, but there are some things that I feel quite passionate about. The issues that are most serious to me, I am rigid about, because of the level of care I put toward them.

17. What do you like to do in your free time?

A. Sketch, read, listen to music.

18. What is your favorite food?

A. Italian food... or cheesecake. :)

19. When you get angry should people try to calm you or get out of your way?

A. I have learned the difference between MAD and ANGRY. If I am ANGRY, they should leave me alone. I usually get over it much quicker if I am allowed to process it without interruption.

20. What are your favorite TV shows?

A. Biography, Ghost Hunters, Men in Trees, Lost, 2 1/2 Men, Desperate Housewives.

21. Define one good thing about the person who sent this to you.

A. She has a great sense of humor, and makes me smile with her comments. Whoooooooops...that was two. ;)

22. If you could be anywhere on the planet right now, where would that be and why?

A. I am right where I want to be... home.

23. Where have you traveled?

A. Arizona, Nevada, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, New York, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia, Arkansas.

24. What is your favorite color?

A. That changes all the time. At the moment green, but that could change with my mood.

25. What is the one character trait you most desire in another person?

A. Sense of humor. Without it... no one could ever stand being around me. :)

So, there you have it! Me, Me, Me. LOL. If you would like to do this meme... go for it! Just copy this list and put your answers in your blog or journal, then come back here and leave me a comment with a link in the comment thread for this entry! Come on... you know you want to! ;)

Embarcadero Pier 14
San Francisco, California
October 15, 2006

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Wanderings Through Other Worlds

"A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam
And for a brief moment it's glory and beauty belong to our world,
And though it flies on again,
We feel so lucky to have seen it."


I am tired from all the recent day trips, but they have been so much fun. My camera has been getting an awesome workout, with more fun coming up this next week. :) Since it is Sunday, I thought it would be nice to share some of the lovely butterflies from last week, when I visited the conservatory. Next week, I will be taking several more day trips so there will be lots of new photos, but until then we have these... ENJOY! :)

Woodland Skipper

Pipevine Swallowtail Battus philenor (Female)

Palamedes Swallowtail

Great Northern White

Queen Butterfly, Palamedes Swallowtail, Buckeye

"Northern Europeans thought that dreams were the result of the soul-butterfly's wanderings through other worlds."

-Butterfly Lore

What a nice thought. :)

Conservatory of Flowers
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, California
October 11th, 2006
Late Morning/Early Afternoon