Saturday, January 20, 2007

John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #148: Cats Or Cheese?

"Cheese is milk's leap towards immortality."

-Clifton Fadiman

Weekend Assignment #148: Cats. Cheese. There's only enough room on the planet for one of them, and you have to decide which goes. Which do you choose and why? Now you as, why cats and cheese? Well, why not? People like cats; people like cheese. They're generally considered to be unrelated. Having to choose one over the other sort of gives you insight into your soul, about what's really important to you. Or, alternately, it's just fun to consider. Really, lets not pretend we're doing anything too deep here.

For clarity's sake, when we say "cats' we mean domestic cats; lions and cheetahs and such will still be about, so you don't have to worry about taking out a whole bunch of endangered species. When we say "cheese" we mean all cheese, even the stuff that comes out of a aerosol cans and/or is spelled "cheeze." It all goes.

Extra Credit: What's your favorite breed of cat and/or type of cheese?

-John Scalzi (By The Way)

Oh Blogfather! Don't think for one moment this isn't a deep subject! LOL. I LOVE cheese, but I LOVE cats as well, especially my little boy Elvis Aron. Yep, I love my kitty so much, I gave him a middle name! What to do? What to do?

Let's Talk About Cheese First...

Cheese is a passion of mine, so much so, that when I considered one day in my youth, what kind of man I would one day marry, the two solid absolute requirements were...

1. He could NOT be a smoker, and 2. He had to love cheese as much as I do!

And I meant it! Tee Hee. Thanks goodness I met Alan, he was perfect for me in every way, including my two most important requirements. :) Together we have been seeking out the perfect cheese, and the perfect cheese shop in all the world, or at least in California, for 16 1/2 years. I am happy to report, we have indeed found the perfect cheese shop in all the world, right here in our own backyard. The Cheeseboard Collective is located at 1512 Shattuck Avenue, right here in Berkeley. They have over 500 kinds of cheese, and also make some fabulous, melt in your mouth breads, and rolls. Right next door is the sub-collective where they make a pizza so mouth-watering good, that you will swear it was prepared by GOD himself! No kidding here. Blogfather, if you ever get back to the San Francisco East Bay, anywhere near Berkeley, you should come up here and try it out. You will become a believer! In the above photo you see 4 of my very favorite cheeses, with some cinnamon frosted pecans on the side. Cheese is a food of seduction. I L-O-V-E CHEESE!

And Now We Will Talk About Cats...

My Kitty Elvis

Elvis in his new Christmas sweater. 12/25/06

Just look at that face! Is there anything left to say? Elvis is alive, and he is such a joy and comfort to me, I am afraid I would most certainly choose Cats. I can't imagine not having him at the foot of my bed at night, he is my sunshine. I would miss cheese if it was no more... but I know when someday I will have to live without my Elvis... I will be forever lost. Oh dear Blogfather... I choose CATS! Sniff, sniff... someone pass me a tissue... sniff, sniff. Goodness, this is kinda like Sophie's Choice! ACK! ;)

Extra Credit: My very favorite cheese is French Feta. It is a little creamier then the Greek variety, and a little sweeter. Perfect for salads or for cheese puffs. As for cats, Elvis is a British shorthair cat, which come in many colors and patterns. The Tuxedo is my favorite. Those black and white cats RULE!

"Cheese Glorious Cheese"
Berkeley, California
January 19th, 2007
Late Evening

Friday, January 19, 2007

Black & White & Idolized All Over

"The most insignificant people are the most apt to sneer at others. They are safe from reprisals. And have no hope of rising in their own self esteem but by lowering their neighbors."

-William Hazlitt

Self esteem... we all have it, yet a good deal of us have no idea what to do with it. I suppose that sounds like a bold statement coming from me, and it might be, but lately some things in the world have really been rubbing me the wrong way, and I can't help but wonder... where did we all go so profoundly wrong? What was the date that changed most American's into selfish, tunnel sighted, simpletons, who can only form opinions based on a book's cover, whether it be about voting for a president, or choosing the next American Idol? Maybe there wasn't one specific date that changed the American world... maybe we allowed our social bitterness to age gracefully, I don't know... you tell me... what is beautiful?

I am speaking specifically here about the ruckus being raised about the negativity that is the new season of FOX's hit show, American Idol. While I fully admit I am not a big fan of the show, and rarely, if ever, actually watch the show, I did happen to catch the last 30 minutes of Idol the other night, and I have to say, it did nothing to make a fan out of me. I found the big three... Simon, Paula and Randy, to be at their hurtful best, and in fact, managed to carry off pompousness and deceit, with a good deal of proficiency. As negative as it all was... it was still a ratings success. Why do folks watch something that demonstrates such harshness? I know that the justification for the actions of the "judges" is because the producers of the show want to show the whole process of finding the next idol, and what it takes to produce a diamond from the rough. But really, does it take psychological abuse, to produce an idol?

I get that not everyone who shows up to the American Idol auditions, has star potential. I get that sometimes it is amusing to hear someone sing woefully off key, I mean, didn't we all laugh at Lucy Ricardo, when she would hit those keys way off the mark? Yes, we did, because it was funny, and we knew, even if we didn't sit and dwell on it, that it was all in the script, and therefore we could laugh knowing no one was getting hurt. American Idol is NOT a sitcom, it is real people, with real hopes, trying to be a part of the American Idol experience. I think some who audition, know they have no talent, and so they try out for the humor and experience of it all. However, there are some who audition who really think they have a chance, when in fact, they have no chance at all. It's those individuals who my heart goes out to. They do not deserve to be made fun of, or belittled by the likes of Simon, Paula and Randy. Particularly disturbing to me was the remark made by Simon Cowell, to a contestant, Kenneth Briggs, regarding his physical appearance, calling him a "bush baby."

The young man didn't have the voice for the competition. It was pretty clear, but why did Cowell have to further insult this young man by making such a hurtful comment regarding his looks? How many folks at home laughed at this young man, simply because Simon Cowell made a joke at this man's expense? What is the deal with all the cheap shots about physical appearance flying about recently? Have we all forgotten what makes a person? Simon Cowell is, physically speaking, a nice looking man, but it only takes a couple moments, to change all that. All he has to do is speak, and the stupid pours out, and he goes from a nice looking man, to someone really quite ugly. And rather sad. I have to wonder, does his edge come from some buried inferiority complex? Have you ever known a bully? If so, when you look back, can you see how terribly sad and frightened they were? Isn't it strange, that it takes more courage to hold ourselves in a positive light, then in a negative one?

I was watching ABC's The View yesterday morning, and of course, the ladies talked a little about the previous nights episode of American Idol. All of the ladies agreed that it seemed a little over the top in terms of harshness, but Rosie O' Donnell took it a little further. "Isn't that what America thinks is entertainment? To make fun of someone's physical appearance and then when they leave the room, laugh hysterically at them... three millionaires, one possibly intoxicated (maybe referring to Paula Abdul's recent behavior) the whole thing, it's terribly sad to me." As much as I agreed with her, it occurred to me that she had done the very same thing last month, when speaking about Donald Trump. She made fun of the way Trump chooses to wear his hair, while giving forth the opinion that Trump should not be the moral compass for anyone. Hair/morals. Hair/Morals. I don't get it, does she mean to say that all men who sport bad comb overs are morally vacant?

On the other hand of cheap shots, did Donald Trump mean that all women who are overweight are in fact slobs? Or was he speaking only about Rosie? That was only one of the adjectives, the ever eloquent, Donald Trump, chose to describe Rosie with. Slob. I supposed he was a little miffed about the comb over remark. Shrug. Cheap shots, apparently equal high ratings. The View hasn't suffered under the nearly weekly verbal controversies springing forth from Rosie O' Donnell, thinly disguised as pearls of wisdom. We all tune in anyway, and if the truth were told, don't we kinda look forward to the next bit of negativity? Maybe just a little? I suppose I should raise my hand, I do look forward to hearing her make these remarks again, and again. I don't know what stands out more for me, her nerve, or her total lack of class and self-dignity. No matter who it is, when I hear someone being hurtful to another, I feel a little less respect for them. Why do so many go straight for another's appearance, even when the argument has more to do with the values, and personality?

Speaking as a woman who is way less then perfect, I know that I am someone who has value in the world, despite being only 4' 11 tall. I know that I have value, so does it really matter I have a few more gray hairs then I did five years ago? I know I have value, because I wouldn't hurt someone on purpose for any reason. I know I have value, because I was told for years by my own family, that I didn't. LOL. Those people lived to hurt others. At the age of 44, I have finally closed the door on their hurtful opinions of me. Maybe it's because I grew up in that atmosphere, but I can't tolerate it when I see someone hurting another for the sport of it all. Or for the ratings, or for the gain some feel by disregarding another. Would the world really be less interesting if we all decided to think before we speak? Does America really want idols, built on the pain, and self-esteem assassination of others? Sigh. Why does America allow crulty it succeed?

"The Pants"
Berkeley, California
January 17th, 2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

That Silly Four Letter Word...

"Love at first sight is only realizing an imagination that has always haunted us, or meeting a face, a figure, or cast of expression in perfection that we have seen and admired in a less degree or in less favorable circumstances a hundred times before."

-William Hazlitt

Hallmark holidays! Sheesh! They make me all contemplative. Ok, I admit, I have greeted Valentine's Day with different degrees of respect and disdain over the years. Sometimes I would completely ignore it. "Who needs a silly made up holiday anyway?" Sometimes I would meet it full head on, taking myself out to dinner, buying myself flowers, and then ending the evening with a nice pampering bubble bath, drawn with chocolate scented bath bubbles. LOL. I love me after all. LOL. When I got married I thought that my Valentine's Day fretting might finally be over, but alas, I married a man who isn't too sentimental about made up Hallmark holidays, but who can be a romantic fool for no good reason on... oh say... August 23rd, the anniversary of our first kiss. Swoon. He really does remember my birthday, our anniversary, and the date of our first kiss and the date of our first date... but on Valentine's Day... I am sort of on my own.

Not that I am complaining mind you, but sometimes, just sometimes, I wish he would turn into a Valentine's Day Fool. LOL. It's not like he never likes to get a little romantic on the day, a couple years ago he wrote me a poem, and tucked it under my pillow. I smiled the whole day through. Last year he gave me a gorgeous little dessert set, from Bed, Bath & Beyond, and then we enjoyed a special dessert of Ice Cream Cake. Sexy and FUN! I am never really sure how the day will go. This year, we have kicked around the idea of going for the fun and lighthearted times we enjoy, by going out for pizza and root beer. Trust me girls, there is a lot to be said for a low maintenance Valentine's Day! ;)

Anyway, in honor of the upcoming holiday, I have decided to do a series of entries about love. Happy love, sad love, contemplative love. I am just as confused by it as anyone else sometimes. Is there really such a thing as Love At First Sight? Can you be in love, and have no idea why? Can you love more than one person at the same time? Is it infidelity if you do? Just because one is married, doesn't mean we stop thinking about all the possibilities in the world. Love is a puzzle to be sure, and I like putting on my thinking cap and trying to think things through for myself. Sometimes all I end up with is a headache, but sometimes, just sometimes, I solve great mysteries, at least as for as I am concerned. :)

Tell Me Your Thoughts! Sing out in the comment thread for this entry, AND be sure to take the two quizzes below, and let me know what you scored. Just click on each graphic to be redirected to the quiz. :) Here is what I scored...

Propensity for Monogamy...

Your propensity for monogamy is low.
You see love as a gift that you should give to many.
It's hard for you to imagine being with one person at a time.
Let alone one person for the rest of your life.

Experience Level...

Your experience level is high.
You've loved, lost, and loved again.
You have had a wide range of love experiences.
And when the real thing comes along, you know it!


Your dominance is low.
This doesn't mean you're a doormat, just balanced.
You know a relationship is not getting your way.
And you love to give your sweetie a lot of freedom.


Your cynicism is low
You are an eternal optimist when it comes to love and romance.
No matter how many times you've been hurt - you're never bitter.
You believe in one true love, your perfect soul mate.
And if you haven't found love yet, you know you will soon.


Your independence is low.
This does not mean you're dependent in relationships.
It does mean that you don't have any problem sharing your life.
In your opinion, the best part of being in love is being together.

"Passion" Artist Unknown

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Out Your Window, Redux

"I take a simple view of life... Keep your eyes open and get on with it."

-Sir Laurence Olivier

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Pick a window in your home. Take a picture of it. We're looking at things that are close to home this week.

-John Scalzi

This is the view, from out of the attached storage room, in my house. The window faces a west view, but you can't see the bay from this window, because of the heavy landscaping to that side. I probably should have photographed it earlier in the day, but just didn't have a chance. Anyway, even with the landscaping partially covering the view, you can still tell we were about to get some rain. It's started raining a nice, soft, rain a couple hours later, and it was really nice. It's actually warmed up here a little, and yet there was still a blip on the news about the possibility of a few snow flurries. Here's hoping. :)

Listen To The Rhythm Of The Falling Rain
The Cascades

Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain
Telling me just what a fool I've been
I wish that it would go and let me cry in vain
And let me be alone again

The only guy I care about has gone away
Looking for a brand new start
But little did he know that when he left that day
Along with him he took my heart

Rain please tell me now does that seem fair
For he to steal my heart away when he don't care
I can't love another when my hearts somewhere far away

The only guy I care about has gone away
Looking for a brand new start
But little did he know that when he left that day
Along with him he took my heart

Rain won't you tell him that I love him so
Please ask the sun to set his hear aglow
Rain in his heart and let the love we knew start to grow

Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain
Telling me just what a fool I've been
I wish that it would go and let me cry in vain
And let me be alone again

Oh listen to the falling rain
Pitter patter, pitter patter
Oh listen to the falling rain
Pitter patter, pitter patter

Berkeley, California
January 16th, 2007
Early Evening

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Art About Town... San Francisco

"Only through art can we emerge from ourselves, and know what another person sees."

-Marcel Proust

It's been a while since I have done an "Art About Town" entry, so I thought it would be nice to post my first one for 2007. I actually took this photo the day after last Thanksgiving, but somehow never got around to doing an entry about it. This sculpture is one of my very favorite pieces of public art in San Francisco. It sits as the centerpiece of Ghiradelli Square, and is considered the most photographed feature of the square. It's titled, "Andrea's Fountain," and was created by artist, Ruth Asawa.

Andrea's Fountain has sat in Ghiradelli Square since it's debut in 1968. According to the fountain's legend, the artwork was initially met with some criticism by landscape artist, Lawrence Halprin, who felt the sculpture was not to be considered "serious art." However, Asawa's vision for the fountain, was to create a piece which could be enjoyed by all ages. "I wanted something related to the sea... I thought of all the children, and maybe even some adults, who would stand by the seashore waiting for a turtle or a mermaid to appear. As you look at the sculpture, you include the Bay view, which has been saved for all of us, and you wonder what lies below that surface."

Andrea's Fountain, Ghiradelli Square, San Francisco

I can tell you, from the upper floors of Ghiradelli Square, you can see the most lovely views of the bay. It is truly one of the best parts of North Beach. I can sit and study this sculpture all day, it's a sculpture honoring the legend on the mermaid after all, and as you know, I was the mermaid Ondine in a former life, or in this life, I keep forgetting which is right. ;) Andrea's Fountain is named for the model who posed for it, Andrea Jepson.

"Andrea's Fountain"
Ghiradelli Square
San Francisco, California
November 24th, 2006
Early Morning

Monday, January 15, 2007

But Don't Forget Folks... That's What You Get Folks...

"Infatuation is when you think he's as sexy as Robert Redford, as smart as Henry Kissinger, as noble as Ralph Nader, as funny as Woody Allen, and as athletic as Jimmy Conners. Love is when you realize that he's as sexy as Woody Allen, as smart as Jimmy Conners, as funny as Ralph Nader, as athletic as Henry Kissinger and nothing like Robert Redford... but you'll take him anyway."

-Judith Viorst, Redbook, 1975

Ellipsis has a new poll on it's sidebar, "What Is Your Favorite Romantic Song," which is of course, in honor of Valentine's Day next month. Can you believe we are nearly at the Heart holiday? So strange that we have a holiday, in honor of an emotion very few of us can define, explain, or even agree on whether it's a good thing or not. Recently, I had a conversation with a good friend of mine, a guy by the way, about how at times in both our lives, we weren't sure if LOVE wasn't in reality more cruel than hate.

It can hurt so bad when it isn't returned, and feel so good when it is. It can happen in an instant, with just one glance, or take a lifetime to happen. Some folks look their whole lives for someone to share forever with, while other look into a strangers eyes... and just know... their life has just been changed forever. And isn't there always a song, that somehow comes closer to explaining how we feel, whether it be for love realized or love lost, then we can ourselves? So, go look at the Love Songs I chose for the poll, and cast your vote. If you like, feel free to tell us why you chose a specific song, in the comment thread for this entry. If your favorite romantic song isn't listed, feel free to share that as well. :)

Click here, to see the results of last month's poll, "What Is You Least Favorite Part Of The Holiday Season."

"Makin' Whoopee"
Conservatory Of Flowers
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, California
June 14th, 2006

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Red Tree's Progression

"It is always best to leave while you are still having fun."


I love this tree. I have been watching it since just after last Thanksgiving, and then one day, as I sat admiring it, I realized how much I wanted to document it's progress as the leaves began to fall. It is lovely at any time of day, and in any weather condition, but I think I liked it best when the sun came shining through those crimson leaves. It was so alive, and it served as reminder of the vibrancy of things, even on days when I felt about as dull as one could possible feel.

Nearly all it's beautiful leaves are gone now, but I think I will continue to track it's through this year, and maybe post another entry late next autumn, showing it's progress. Hopefully there will be some beautiful blossoms soon. Things seem to be taking their time this year, oh well, all good and wonderful things in their own time. Sometimes I really look forward to life. :)

December 8th, 2006

December 14th, 2006

December 29th, 2006

"A memory is what is left, when something happens that does not completely not happen."

-Edward de Bono

"The Red Tree"
Cull Canyon Park
Castro Valley, California
January 13th, 2006