Monday, December 31, 2007

The Last Sunset Of 2007

"We will open the book: It's pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and it's first chapter is New Year's Day."

-Edith Lovejoy Pierce

This was the view this evening, from up here on Grizzly Peak Boulevard. The lights in San Francisco hadn't even come on yet, so I thought it would be the best picture I could show you of the last sunset over San Francisco for 2007. It's time to tell the year goodnight... and thank you! :)


Note: Please click on the photo to see it in a larger version. :)

"The Last Sunset of 2007"
Grizzly Peak Boulevard
Berkeley, California
December 31st, 2007
5:05 PM

Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Favorite Political YouTube Moment Of 2007

"I never vote for anybody, I always vote against."

-W.C. Fields

2007 has come and gone. The Gulf Coast still hasn't been rebuilt. America's reputation around the world still remains, at best, tarnished. Osama Bin Laden is still alive and well, and apparently living somewhere in the mountainous region of Pakistan. We found out that the lies coming out of the White House went deeper then we ever imagined, and I would be willing to bet that we haven't heard anything yet. We saw health care denied to children, and the CIA quietly destroying documents that proved that America has engaged in torture. We saw our president commute the sentence of a convicted Scooter Libby, to no time served, because Bush considered the 20 month sentence too harsh. Scooter Libby was convicted of perjury, and obstruction of justice in the investigation into the outing of CIA agent Valarie Plame Wilson. And as if that wasn't a big enough slap in the face to American justice, I want to know why, to date, no one has ever stood trial on charges of treason for that outing.

I remember the day that I saw that "Breaking News" announcement, that Scooter Libby had gotten away with that treasonous act, because the anger was so great I began to shake all over. My head began to pound, and a deep sadness welled up in me. I don't know why, I should have known the Bush administration would do what they did. I should have known that Libby would beat the charges, but I always want to believe that Bush would just once do the right thing. And it was while I was grieving for America that I had to ask myself, "Is the pride I put in America worth it?" Our country is in the hands of liars and opportunists who have their own agendas. Is my writing about my opinions of their dirty deeds reaching anyone, and is it making any difference at all?

I have no delusions about who my simple blog might be reaching, but sometimes I hope that while I am showing you the beauty of the world with my camera, I can show you the more poignant moments I see as well. Maybe I can make a difference with what I choose to share, or maybe I can't. I guess there is no real way of knowing. I just sit down here at the keyboard and hope for the best. I haven't written much about politics in the last few months, because I am feeling like a lot of folks right now... I have Bush fatigue. What more can be said, that hasn't already been made known? I know that if I spend too much time watching the political news, my blood sugar goes sky high, which harms my health. I don't want to be a diabetic, and I don't want to be someone who lives in a rose colored world, afraid to speak her mind, and call a liar a liar. So what to do, what to do.


I can't give up on my ideals. I won't let the Bush administration tire me that much. In fact, I am going to aim my focus to the 2008 election. It's now 11 months away, and while that might seem like forever, it really isn't. So let's start talking again. If we do, we might actually put someone in office who will work for us, instead of the other way around. We might find someone who will actually protect us from terrorists, instead of pouring billions of dollars into the very country that is harboring these fugitives. Remember when America wasn't at war? Do you remember how you felt on September 10th, 2001? Do you remember when you didn't have to choose between buying your child an ice cream cone, and buying a gallon of gas? We can have those times back, but we have to be willing to get a little tired once in while. We have to be willing to be courageous enough to say ENOUGH!

Here is something I am looking for this next year, beginning with the Iowa Caucuses. I don't want to hear what's wrong with a politician's political opponent, I want to hear what the politician speaking to me plans to do with America. End of discussion. The mudslinging on the republican side makes me laugh. As usual they have learned nothing. It always comes down to, "I'm more religious then he is... or she is for that matter." LOL. They still miss it. They still don't get that I won't be voting in my moral leader, because I have enough backbone to be my own moral leader.

The Democrats seem to want to ignore the failings of the Bush administration, and focus on the future. That's both good and bad in my opinion. I am focusing on the future as well, but I will be damned if I will forget the past. And I have no more patience with those politicians who do. I am a big supporter of John Edwards, but lately I am seeing less and less passion from him. I liked Barack Obama, until he brought in Oprah Winfrey to stump for him. I don't know. Of course celebrities should be able to speak their minds like all Americans, but unfortunately we Americans also like to let others do our thinking for us. Let's face it... we can be sheep, especially when our spirits are tired. Is Barack Obama really a good choice for you, because you respect Oprah Winfrey?

Lately I have been turning my attention toward Hillary Clinton. There are several things about her which have gained my respect. She does plan to do more then bandage the nations deep cuts. She does have a viable plan for universal health care, she can be called a BITCH by a nitwit planning to vote for a republican, and she can ignore it with class and yes, courage. She isn't perfect, not by a long shot, but she has demonstrated a lot of the values that the republican party likes to claim is theirs alone. She kept her marriage together, she raised her daughter to be a wonderful young woman, and she has held her head high despite the nitwits of the world. So what exactly earned her the disparaging name of BITCH? Is it because she hasn't caved? She didn't say it was ok to turn America into a shadow of itself? Is it because she can admit that if she knew then, what she knows now she would have made different decisions? What exactly is it that makes her a BITCH?

I don't know... but I know I want to know more. And that renewed energy feels damn good!

So, this is my last political rant of 2007, and I say, let's get a dialog going. Tell me, how close will you be following politics in 2008, beginning with the Iowa Caucuses? How much do you know about the politicians currently running for office? What is your personal list of priorities when it comes to the next president? What do you want the next president to do as their first official act in office, regardless of the party elected?

Go ahead...tell me what's on your mind.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Favorite Duh Moment Of 2007

"Humor is vague, runaway stuff that hisses around the fissures and crevices of the mind, like some sort of loose psychic gas."

-Jonathan Miller

2007 brought me many different kinds of moments, some poignant, some sad, some infuriating, some absurd, but thankfully, none of my many moments even can close to being as abstract and bizarre as the moment you will see in the above YouTube video. Here is my favorite "Duh" moment of 2007, as experienced by Miss Teen South Carolina, Caitlin Upton. So tell me, why do you suppose some Americans can't find the U.S.A on a world map? Ummm... could it be their tiara's are on too tight?

You can read her explanation for her answer right here.


Round Robin Challenge: Going, Going, Gone

"Don't count every hour in the day, make every hour in the day count."


Going Going Gone. Where has 2007 gone? LOL. When this year began, I couldn't wait for it to be over with. I was sad, and not feeling very creative, but eventually I found my way again, despite little sorrows along the way, like finding out that both Elvis and I have diabetes. Sigh. I should have known better then to try and fight the plans life makes for us without our permission, that's just what life does. I moves us ahead whether we want to go or not. All in all, when I think about 2007 on the whole, it hasn't been so bad. In fact, I think I have made my peace with the year, and I am ready, and looking forward to 2008. There are some good things coming I think... if nothing else, there is a national election to look forward to. Just that alone makes me smile. Tee Hee. Bye Bye Bush!

As a way to illustrate my year, and how it moved along through my time and creativity, I have created a round up of what I saw. Time flies whether we are having fun or not, so it's best to grab every moment of it, and save it if possible, to remind us that nothing last forever, so take nothing for granted. :) Thank you, Nancy, for submitting the awesome challenge!

January... A Little Bit Of Autumn In Winter!

February... The Queen Mary 2 As It Passed Under The Golden Gate

March... Pink Blooms In Golden Gate Park

April... Snowy Egret Wading in The Monterey Bay

May... A Dramatic Rose

June... The Beach In Pacifica

July... Mist And Painted Lady Butterflies In Half Moon Bay

August... My Favorite Rose... Love's Promise

September... The Sunset Reflects The Smoke In The Air After The California Wildfires

October... A Quiet Day Where The Ghost Of The "Blue Lady" Haunts

November... A Snowy Egret Wades Near Some Oil In The San Francisco Bay, Near Emeryville, California

December... Autumn Again Inspires Me...Even In Winter

Be sure to check out all the entries by the Round Robins. Just follow the links below. You can play along too. Just drop by the official Round Robin blog and leave us your complete information. If you can't join us this time, maybe you can sometime in the future. We will announce our next challenge this Sunday!

Linking List

Nancy... Nancy Luvs Pix

Steven... (sometimes) photoblog

Carly... Ellipsis

Lisa... Lisa's Chaos

Karen... Outpost Mavarin

Sandra... Strong Chemistry

Kim... Nekked Lizard's Adventures

Julie... Julie's Web Journal

Gattina... Keyhole Pictures

Janet... Fond Of Photography

Chrissea... Chris-seas Corner

Suzanne... Living... Suzanne R's Life

"The Watched Clock"
Lafayette, California
December 28, 2007
Late Afternoon

Friday, December 28, 2007

Odds And Ends

"You can't change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about the future."


Just a short entry for today. Alan has been home with a cold since Christmas Day, and I have been fighting the same bug as well. It was 39 degrees in parts of the Bay Area last night, and the rain came as well. It's winter with a vengeance. That's ok, all things in their own time... right? So, while my body might be achy, my spirits are up, and Alan and I are playing a lot of board games, and drinking a lot of juice so what can be bad about that?!

In the meantime, how about some late 2007 business? There is still time to help name the mysterious man I wrote about earlier this month. He is still on my sidebar, right above the poll. So go choose your favorite name for him from the list, and let's give him an official handle for the new year, unless you happen to know who and what he is, because that would be even better! The poll ends on New Year's Eve.

Don't forget to visit the ScalziCelebration blog, and leave your comments for John. His last day as our Blogfather is New Year's Eve. I you are feeling in a playful mood, maybe you might consider playing, Where In The World Is Flat Scalzi." You can download your own Flat Scalzi, suitable for spotting, and do your own entry, but don't forget to comeback to the blog and leave us a link. Who knows where that guy will end up next?

We have a Round Robin Challenge tomorrow, "Going Going Gone." There is still time to sign up to play along. Just hop on over to the official Round Robin blog and leave us your complete information. If you can't make it this time, maybe you will be able to join us next time. Check the blog on Sunday, to find out what our next challenge will be. :)

There, that's it. That's the Odds and Ends for this now. :) How are things in your neck of the woods?

"Mr Unknownman"
Berkeley, California
December 2005

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Your Final Photo Shoot: Goodbye!

"Be well, do good work, and keep in touch."

-Garrison Keillor

Your Final Photo Shoot: Wave goodbye! Because all good things must come to an end, but I think we can leave on a high note.

-John Scalzi, of the blog, By The Way

I tried and I tried, but I just couldn't smile. :( I am going to miss you John. Take good care of yourself. I wish you, Krissy and Athena a bright and happy future and a wonderful 2008!

Berkeley, California
December 26, 2007

Always, Carly

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


"There is not, in my opinion, anything more mysterious in nature than this instinct in animals, which thus rise above reason, and yet fall infinitely short of it."

-Joseph Addison

So sad. Yesterday, a Siberian tiger named Tatiana, somehow got out of the big cat enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo, and mauled a young man to death. Two companions of the man were seriously injured, but are expected to recover. The tiger unfortunately had to be killed. Sigh. She was a beautiful tiger. I got a chance to see her a year ago when I last visited the zoo. The tigers are incredible animals, and I enjoy seeing them, but I always have to wonder if putting them in cages at the zoo is really a good idea. So many questions will have to be answered over the next few days and weeks. I imagine there will be a combination of human error and perhaps criminal liability in the end. I don't want to think that someone might have let her out of her cage... I don't know... but something extraordinary occurred that's certain. The Bay Area has taken a couple of big hits recently, with the oil spill from the tanker ship in the bay last November, and now this. Sad times right now. I think I am going to try real hard to forget 2007 ever happened. Sigh.

Tiger Attack At San Francisco Zoo

San Francisco Zoo
August 22, 2006

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

May The Spirit Of Christmas Bring You Peace
May The Gladness Of Christmas Bring You Hope
May The Warmth Of Christmas Grant You Love

-Author Unknown

From Our House To Yours, We Wish You A Very Merry Christmas!

Love, Alan, Carly and Elvis

"Christmas Lights"
Berkeley, California
December 24th, 2007
Late Evening

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Christmas Sampler...

"Like snowflakes, my Christmas memories gather and dance - each beautiful, unique and too soon gone."

-Deborah Whipp

Happy Christmas Eve! I love this day, and so does my little boy, Elvis. He and I will be making cookies, and getting ready for Santa to visit. In fact, we are going to track his journey by following him around the world at Santa At NORAD! Do you follow Santa's travels on Christmas Eve? And did you know that just like on my favorite holiday, Halloween, Christmas has superstitions? Well, it does...

* To have good health throughout the next year, eat an apple on Christmas Eve."

* Eat a plum pudding on Christmas and avoid losing a friend before next Christmas.

* If you eat a raw egg before anything else on Christmas morning, you will be able to carry heavy weights.

Cute story...

A three year old once gave this reaction to her Christmas dinner...

"I don't like the turkey, but I like the bread he ate."

Ways To Confuse Santa Claus...

* Leave out a copy of your Christmas list with last-minute changes and corrections.

* While he's in the house, cover the top of the chimney with barbed wire.

* Leave him a note, explaining that you've gone away for the holidays. Ask if he would mind watering your plants.

* Build an army of mean looking snowmen on the roof, holding signs that say, "We hate Christmas," and "Go Away Santa."

*Leave out a plate with cookies and milk, with a note that says, " For The Tooth Fairy."

* While he's in the house, replace all his reindeer with exact replicas. Then wait and see what happens when he tries to get them to fly."

* While he's in the house, go out to his sleigh and write him a speeding ticket.

* Throw a surprise party for Santa, and refuse to let him leave until the strippers arrive.

* Keep an angry bull in your living room. If you think a bull goes crazy when he sees a little red cape, wait until he sees that big, red Santa suit.

* While he is in the house, find his sleigh and sit in it. As soon as he comes back, and sees you, tell him that he shouldn't have missed that last payment, and take off.

And remember...

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace."

-Agnes M. Pharo

"Elvis At Christmas"
Berkeley, California
December 23rd, 2007
Early Evening

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Yes, Virginia There Is A Santa Claus

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful."

-Norman Vincent Peale

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve... can you believe it? I am happy this year. I am focusing on the blessings of the year, and I am kinda like a little kid sometimes, because I really love Christmas Eve, and all the silly traditions Alan and I have. One of which is to meet at Starbuck's, late in the day on Christmas Eve, so we can just relax and enjoy each other's company. :) It's an annual date for us, and it makes me smile. :)

Now I want to share something else that makes me smile, it's one of my favorite stories of the holiday season. The letter from a little girl named, Virginia 'O Hanlon, the an editor of the New York Sun, in which she inquires about the existence of Santa Claus...

Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus

Dear Editor

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, Is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life it's highest beauty as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the untied strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God He lives, and He lives Forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Francis Church, Editor, New York Sun
September 21st, 1897

Berkeley, California
December 24th, 2006
Late Evening

Saturday, December 22, 2007

While Visions Of Sugar Plums Danced In My Head...

"The earth has grown old with it's burden of care, but at Christmas it is always young. The heart of the jewel burns lustrous, and fair, and it's soul full of music breaks the air, when the song of angels is sung."

-Phillip Brooks

Just a short entry today, I am up to my elbows in the ingredients for an Apple/Pear Cinnamon pie, with a Gruyere crust. I was inspired to make it by an episode of my new favorite show Pushing Daisies. Have you seen it yet? It is very funny, and very dark, all at the same time. It's kind of like an Alfred Hitchcock narrated by Dr. Seuss. LOL. Anyway, it is one of the best new shows of the season, or any season for that matter, in the last few years! You must see it! And now, back to the pie baking...

"Plum Pudding"
Berkeley, California
December 21, 2007
Late Evening

Friday, December 21, 2007

Goodnight Autumn

"Now autumn's fire burns along the woods, and day by day, the dead leaves fall and melt."

-William Allingham

Autumn ends today, at 10:08 P.M. PST. Sigh. I already miss it. The colors, the sounds, the scents... everything about it just climbs into my soul. I know it sounds strange for me to say that I always feel a little bit of mourning when it is gone, it's just a season, it will comeback again, but I long for autumn all through the year, and it never lasts long enough for me. I know I would never grow tired of an eternal autumn. Oh well, here is a last look back at my favorite season, and what it brought me this year...

"Delicious autumn, my very soul is wedded to it. And if I were a bird I would fly about the earth, seeking the successive autumns."

-George Eliot

"Sweet Spicy Autumn"
Carson City, Nevada
October 25, 2007
Late AfternoonH

Thursday, December 20, 2007

John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment # 196: Plans For 2008

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

First the important news: This is the last Weekend Assignment I'll be doing here at By The Way. Next week is the last full week of me doing By The Way, and also we'll be in the thick of the holiday madness, so I think it's best to wrap up this very long-running feature here and now. It's been lots of fun, though, and I hope you've all enjoyed playing along as much as I have.

But I don't want to spend too much time with the past here, because the future is so much more interesting to me at the moment. With that in mind, here is the topic for this week's Weekend Assignment;

Weekend Assignment #196: What are your hopes or plans for 2008? Any big projects for the year? Anything you hope to accomplish or change? Or will you just relax? Because, you know, that's okay, too.

Extra Credit: How was your 2007?

-John Scalzi (By The Way)

Well, I will get to John's question in a moment, but first I want to once again tell John how much I will miss him and the Weekend Assignments, in 2008! Somehow, I wish there were just a few more weeks in 2007, so we could make it to an even 200 Weekend Assignments. LOL. Can you believe I just said that? The lady who began praying for New Year's Eve, just a couple weeks into 2007? LOL. Oh goodness, this was a bumpy year for me personally. I don't want to look back right now, because that is not the focus of this assignment. The point of this assignment is to look into the future. And when I do that, I get excited at the possibilities. :) So when I look into my future, through my crystal ball, here is what I see...

**I am going to take some additional classes on meditation and yoga, in an effort to improve my overall well-being. I need to cut some stress, as that is my number one trigger to my diabetes. Stress is even more dangerous to me then sugar. Don't get me wrong. My numbers are fantastic, my doctor is thrilled with what I have accomplished since July, and on this course, I will be officially diabetes free as of July, but I need more than one good A1C test before I get the full ALL CLEAR.

**I am planning to take a ceramics class. I want to learn something new, and hopefully make some new pals. It's time to climb out of my shell a little. I like people, and I like life, and hopefully they wont hate me on sight. Right? I remember our Blogfather once said, Internet friendships are wonderful, but nothing beats the relationships we have in real life.I am paraphrasing of course, but you get the idea. It sounded like sound advice to me. I have spent too much time in my own little world. I am so done with the past! I am over it!

**I want to volunteer for a political campaign. I have always wanted to do that, and I think it would be a great experience. It's something new, that I have never tried, and I can kind of choose how much time I want to devote to it. This is an important election coming up. Something has to not just change, it has to change for the better! If I am going to put myself out in the world, I want to help make a positive change, even if all I do is stuff envelopes. You know? It's time to do my part for the future.

**In terms of creativity, there is nothing more important to me then my photography. I need to really work on it, not just stick with the same old comfortable subjects, but rather really push myself to go to the edge with it. There are some photography classes available at the community colleges in my area, so why not expand my horizons a bit? :) I took a class online, in Portrait Photography, earlier this year, and I found it very enjoyable. :)

**Overall, I want to just experience life. That's all. My priorities have changed, since I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. I am so lucky that I wasn't told it was cancer, or heart disease or any one of the other things that tend to punch us down for no apparent reason. Since I began blogging in 2003, I have lost 2 good blogging/journaling buddies, Frank and Pam, to those things. I still miss them terribly, and they remind me of how short life is. It's too short to be afraid of the future. So, here I am, thrilled about 2008, and all it has waiting for me, good or bad! Maybe I will do all the things I have listed, maybe I will do none of them, maybe I will do other things that I can't even conceive of. Who knows? Isn't it exciting? Stay tuned, because you just never know with me!

Extra Credit: How was your 2008? ROFLMAO! Well, at first I thought it sucked! Then things kind of tapered off, and now, well, I can look back and see, life has a way of working itself out. All in all... it wasn't the worst year I have ever had. :)

"You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest, that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present."

-Jan Glidewell

Christmas Fantasy In The Woods
Tilden Park
Berkeley, California
November 29, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It Was A Good Day...

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

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

I had a nice day, it was one of those quiet, peaceful days that comes along all too rarely. I started out at my favorite coffee house here in Berkeley, Caffe Strada, then I decided to do a little Christmas shopping down in Jack London Square. Everything was decorated up so lovely for the holidays, including the presidential yacht the Potomac. But my favorite sight had to be the gorgeous Snowy Egret I saw. This is my favorite bird, so I am always excited when I have the chance to spend a little time photographing one. It was doing a little fishing alone the shoreline, and as you can see, it already has it's winter plumage. Beautiful. :) It isn't difficult to make me smile. :)

The view from Stradda, looking toward International House. The trees in Berkeley are still alive with autumn. Ahhhh. :)

Yum. My favorite breakfast. Hot chocolate with raspberry syrup, and a buttery croissant. I don't indulge in this often, which makes it all the more decadent when I do. :)

Oh yeah! I got my hair done yesterday! It looks like I will be a redhead for the holiday! Alan calls my new look, Nouveau Beatnik. Yeah... I agree. :) I wear a lot of black, and I love beat poetry, so it is definitely my style.

A beautiful ship

All decorated for the holiday. I would love to take a cruise on it next year, maybe when it warms up. :)

"Snowy Egret with Winter Plumage"
Port of Oakland
Jack London Square
Oakland, California
December 19, 2007