Saturday, March 03, 2007

What? It's March Already?

"Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is it's current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight, than it is swept by and another takes it's place, and this too will be swept away."

-Marcus Aurelius

I am so happy it's finally March! Jeepers, did it seem to anyone else like January wasn't going to end? Sigh. It went on, and on, and on, and on... ! February, had the class to end early, or on time, I am never quite sure what is up with that. Either way, here we are, firmly in the month of March. Finally. I have to be honest, my year hasn't gotten off to the best of starts, long story, so I would just be very happy if we were in June already, even with the fact that I turn 45 in June. I am OK with it, age has never been something I have had a problem with. Forgetting things, making weird noises when I have been sitting too long, the gray hair I have been collecting, and the sore, swollen muscles I have... now that I have a problem with! Gosh, I was watching an old episode of "Mama's Family" the other night, and it occurred to me that she wore support hose, and by golly, that might not be a bad idea for me. LOL. Hell's Bell's... as I actually sat pondering the idea, it dawned on me, can space diapers be far behind?

Anyway, I took a drive up Mt. Hamilton last Thursday, in search of snow, but unfortunately, like with Mt. Diablo, I wasn't allowed to go up to the very top, where Lick Observatory is, due to... SNOW. Lick Observatory... does that sound like the name of a strip club to you? I mean as opposed to a place where you look for heavenly bodies. ;) Anyway, I was able to take some photos from McCarthy Ranch, of the beautiful snow covered hills, and the not so snow covered hills, and well, what you see below...

I'm not in a bad mood, really I am not, but I am ready for 2007 to be over already. I am RESTLESS. And yes, I know, a watched pot never boils, and time flies whether we are having fun or not, and life is not fair, but it is not fair for everyone, so that is what makes it fair, and...

"It takes a long time to understand nothing."

-John Emerson Dalberg

Lick Observatory

"Mt. Hamilton"
San Jose, California
March 1, 2007

Friday, March 02, 2007

John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #154: Your Car Or Your Computer

"If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1000 MPG."

-Bill Gates

Weekend Assignment #154: Your Car or Your Computer: You must pick one. Which one do you choose? Yes! You must choose between the car - beloved icon of American greatness and freedom - and the computer - the defining machine of the 21st century. If you choose the car, you do not get to touch a computer again, except for basic work related purposes at work. If you choose the computer, no more personal wheels for you. And for those of you in a two-car family, there none of this "oh, I'll just ride in my spouse's car" stuff. Any rides you bum have to be outside your immediate family. Similarly, no using the spouse's or kid's computers, and those of you with super-enabled cell phones will henceforth use them only for phone calls. No Web-browsing, e-mail or text messaging. See, no it;s gotten harder, hasn't it?

Extra Credit: Which was more expensive: Your first car, or your most recent computer?

-John Scalzi (By The Way)

Car? Computer? What's a girl to do? Both objects mean a lot to me, however neither means everything to me. Sigh. Here are the pros and cons of both...

Car - Pros

1. My car takes me to all the beautiful places in the Bay Area, such as Fort Point, next to the Golden Gate Bridge.

2. My car is handy should an emergency occur, and I need to get to Alan.

3. My car takes me on my photo jaunts, and gets me out of the house, and into life.

Car - Cons

1. Gas is way to expensive.

2. Driving can be a bit scary in the Bay Area... lots of tense people on the road.

3. I was in a serious car accident when I was 16, I can sometimes still hear the sounds of it.

Computer - Pros

1. I have met some amazing people on the Internet, that I never would have, had the computer not been at my disposal. I really love my Internet friends. :)

2. I can keep in touch with friends and family who have moved out of my life, a lot easier this way.

3. I have a digital camera, which is in fact, now a part of my actual body. To own a digital camera, without a computer, would be silly, and make sharing photos a lot more difficult. So having a computer helps me realize my creativity a lot easier.

Computer - Cons

1. Sometimes, the time spent on my computer eats into time I could be spending out in the real world. And by real world, I simply mean, enjoying a pretty sunset, or seeing friends. Time in computer time seems to flow differently... it can get away from you, and before you know it, things have changed all around you.

2. Sometimes computers die, terrible, grizzly deaths, for no apparent reason. This is never good. And it is always expensive to just up and replace one at a moment's notice.

3. Ever see the Sandra Bullock movie, "The Net?" It had it's far fetched moments to be sure, but one thing is true, the computer does store a lot, if not most, of our information. Where we live, where we bank, who our friends are. And now Americans are, in fact, being watched regularly by our own government. EEEEEKKKK. Hackers, malicious virus creators, identity theft perpetrators, it can be a weird world sometimes, and let's face it, the computer has in some cases, made it easier for bottom dwellers to wreak a good deal of havoc on our lives.

My Choice In The Car v. Computer Debate?

"The car has become a secular sanctuary for the individual, his shrine to the self, his mobile Waldon Pond."

-Edward McDonagh

I have to go with my car. I love getting outside, and seeing the sights of the Bay Area. If you have been reading me for any length of time, you know that I would rather take photographs then breathe. I love my digital camera, but I also enjoy my good old-fashioned film camera. So, if I have to live without either a computer or a car... I am afraid the computer will have to go. Besides, hopefully whatever friends I have made on the Internet, might keep in touch with me by snail mail, and as for the family and friends who have moved away... ::smile:: ... in a perfect world, if we are important to each other, we will find a way to keep in touch, or we will simply, finally, let go. Life is for living, and at this point in my life, for the first time, in a long time, I kinda like the real world. Besides, look at my car Lilith... isn't she lovely?

Extra Credit: My first car, that was mine all mine, was a 1999 Saturn SL1. It was most definitely more expensive than my first computer.

""They think they can make fuel from horse manure... Now I don't know if your car will be able to get 30 miles to the gallon, but it's a sure gonna put a stop to siphoning."

-Billie Holiday

"Lilith At The Bridge"
Ft Point
San Francisco, California
Late Summer, 2006

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Snow Days

"Excuse me everybody, I have to go to the bathroom. I really have to use the telephone, but I'm too embarrassed to say so."

-Dorothy Parker

After my appointment with Sarah yesterday, I took a ride through the Caldecott Tunnel into Contra Costa County. As I exited the tunnel, I caught a glimpse of Mount Diablo, and saw that it still had a fresh dusting of snow from the night before. How ironic is that? Tee Hee. Actually, the northern slope had much more snow on it, but this was the best point I could find to snap a photo. This is the view from the west. Most of the Bay Area hills, Mount Tamalpias, Mount Hamilton, all had a fair amount of snow on them, but cars weren't allowed up to where it was. We seldom get snow in the Bay Area, and folks don't know how to deal with the ice on the roads properly. Sigh. Later today however, the road up Mt. Hamilton should be open once again, so I am going to try to get as far up to the top as possible. I want to play in the snow. I could go to the Sierra, where there is plenty of snow, but it's too long of a car ride, it's about 4 hours one way, and I want to stick closer to home for the next few days till things warm up a bit.

A nice surprise was waiting for me when I got home. In my mailbox was my certificate for a free haircut from Supercuts, and a certificate for a free Giant Stuffed Burrito from La Salsa. How much fun is that? I got them from my local ABC affiliate, KGO, channel 7. The consumer reporter for the station, Michael Finney, does a weekly spot called, "Finney's Friday Free Stuff," and each week there is something new to try. Sometimes it's Starbuck's, or maybe a service of some kind in the area, it's always something kind of cool though. I have no idea why, but I never used to respond to the offers, I don't know, last week when he was describing the free Supercuts certificate and the free La Salsa certificate, it kind of sounded like a nice way to spend a day, sometime soon, all to myself.

It's time to cut the mermaid hair I think. It's too long. I am tired of my brunette looks, so it is time to go back to blond. It's been forever since I was a blond, but it sounds like a fun way to shake off the blahs. Alan always said being a blond suited me, so why not? I think I will go for a cut similar to Kassie DePaiva's. She plays Blair, on "One Life To Live." It is a natural flowing cut, that should be easy to manage, and at the same time it can be worn up or down. I like that versatility. I was blessed with fantastic hair. I have always been able to handle it, and except for a few bad perms in the 80's, it has pretty much behaved itself. So yes, one of these days, before my free "Girl's Day Out," certificates expire, I think I will declare it a snow day, and go have some time with myself... as someone else... and yet still just me. You ladies reading this know what I mean... right? ;) And hey, Cal Berkeley is looking for test subjects, so who knows, that could really round the day out nicely.

Volunteers Wanted For UC Berkeley Behavior Experiments

"Rivers pain you; rivers are damp; acids stain you; and drugs cause cramps. Guns aren't lawful; nooses give; gas smells awful; you might as well live."

-Dorothy Parker

"A Cold Day On Mt Diablo"
Berkeley, California
February 28, 2007

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wednesday's At 11 With Sarah

"I quit therapy because my analyst was trying to help me behind my back."

-Richard Lewis

Leonardo da Vinci once said about art that, " it is never finished, only abandoned." If that's true about art... then I believe it is certainly true about therapy. I have been in therapy, in one form or another since I was 7 years old. That is a long time. LOL. Actually, there was a brief time in the early 1990's when I was blissfully sane. All was right with the world. Then the inevitable happened... LIFE. Well, actually, LIFE and Death. And also in there came stupid health issues like Epstein-Barr, and the onset of Panic Attacks. I still don't exactly know how or why I began having those, but I tell you what, I resolved to stop them from happening, and I saw it through. I occasionally get a pang of anxiety out of nowhere, but it no longer paralyzes me. I worked hard. I still work hard, just like so many other folks out there who are brave enough to face their personal demons, and deal with pain.

Pain. Does it ever amaze you just how many different directions pain can come at you from? Loss, unrealized desires, life frustrations, physical health issues, geographical moves, and so many more. I have dealt with my share, or so I always say just before some new stupid thing happens to make me sad. I like to think I have control over my own life... but realistically... of course I don't. My free will doesn't affect the decision someone else might make about their own life, which consequentially might spill over into mine. Take for example the drama that happened last week between my neighbors. I was sitting right here, happily working away on my computer, editing photos from a brilliantly lovely day, last year. All of a sudden, my neighbor is outside, screaming stupid, incoherent nonsense to the top of his lungs, which might be best described as a hissy fit. A grown man, stomping his feet and foaming at the mouth, because he was put out over something trivial.

That's not how I wanted to spend my night. Sheesh. "Hey buddy, do you need a plugsy (pacifier)?" Well, of course I didn't say that... but I wonder what he would have said, or done, if I had. Who knows? I wonder sometimes to myself, and I even asked Sarah a couple times, "Why should I be in therapy, working through stuff that is incredibly painful, trying to achieve good mental health, if nobody else is?" POUT. "Well," said Sarah, "Because you deserve to life the full happy life, and the truth is, you can't control how other's choose to live their life, but you can choose how you live yours." See, that's why she is the therapist. LOL.

"The Lamp" By Roy Lichtenstein

Sarah is the 45th therapist I have had in my lifetime. I asked her a little over a year ago, if she thought I might ever never need therapy, or was I doomed to have a standing appointment with the couch for Wednesday's, at 11, for the rest of my life. Does there come a point when, I will be done, finished, graduated to the world with a certificate in sanity? She smiled. She said nothing. For a long time. Then she said, " You have made amazing progress, you have all the skills you need for living in the world. So the question is... do you feel ready, or is there still some things you want to talk about?" I sat there, on that well worn in couch, where I am sure many tears have been shed over pain similar to my own, and suddenly I was aware of just how quiet the world seemed. I wasn't laughing, I wasn't crying, but inside my brain was a thousand questions... and I knew... I still had a ways to go.

Just before last Christmas, I asked her the same questions. Was I there yet? She said, "Yes." I anticipated that she might ask me if I felt I was there yet. She didn't, but I thought about that question anyway. Sigh. I think about a thousand questions came to mind, this time, however, I was answering them for myself. God I hate loss, I hate change. I hate that sometimes, people leave your life before you are ready to say goodbye. I hate the limbs that life makes us all go out on. I hate that love can be, at the same time, Ecstasy and Hell. I hate that I don't understand how it works, or how it can happen without our permission. But I know that I am happy it exists, and that I have it in my life in many forms. I don't really fear it like I once did, because sometimes love is just what happens to you, when you are busy making other plans. ;) My wonderful therapist Sarah, who has helped me find my way back to life, will be moving on to other opportunities at the end of the summer. I will miss our Wednesday at 11:00 appointments, but I am looking forward to just being in life again, flying solo, knowing I will land safely.

"Art enables us to find ourselves, and lose ourselves at the same time."

-Thomas Merton

"The Lamp"
Berkeley, California
Autumn, 2006

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Fridge Magnets

"The senses have been conditioned by attraction to the pleasant and aversion to the unpleasant. A man should not be ruled by them, they are obstacles in his path."

- Bhagavad Gita

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Show off your refrigerator magnets. Because you know you have 'em.

-John Scalzi (By The Way)

What a fun and easy Monday Photo Shoot assignment! Well, except when it came to finding a quote to go with my entry. Oddly enough there isn't too many quotes about refrigerator magnets. Anyone want to leave an original quote about refrigerator magnets in the comment thread for this entry?

Now about my magnets. The ones you see in the above photo are, of course, not the only magnets I have, but they are some of my favorites. A giant purple butterfly, which is actually part of a 4 butterfly set. The Pillsbury Doughboy is part of the collection of Doughboy products I have all over my kitchen. The Crayola Crayon bears, came as a set of 6, all different colors. Next we see Fred Flintstone, holding his daughter, Pebbles. Again, that magnet came as a set with other Flintstone characters. The flowerpot in the upper left hand corner, is actually, a pad to write my grocery lists on, which I always forget to use, lol. Finally we come to the Eye in the lower left corner. That is not just a magnet, it is also a calendar that my eye doctor gave me, on a recent visit to his office. I can never have too many calendars, so that was kind of nifty.

There you have it. Those are the magnets I am displaying at this time, but comeback six months from now, and you will probably see something completely different on my fridge. I have a drawer full of magnets that were given to me over the years. Funny, I hadn't thought about the cute set of veggie magnets my mother gave me, along with a tablecloth, as a wedding shower gift. Funny how the silliest things catch you off guard sometimes. She and I had the best grin over those silly magnets. Sigh... :)

Berkeley, California
February 25, 2007

Monday, February 26, 2007

Four Seasons In One Day

"In those vernal seasons of the year, when the air is calm and pleasant, it were an injury and sullenness against nature not to go out and see her riches, and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth."

-John Milton

My friend Steven gave me a great suggestion this past week, for how to break out of the winter blahs. He suggested to me to "go out and find spring." It was a good idea, I knew it was a good idea, but I was wondering to myself, if I would even recognize it if I actually did find it. Sometimes when my Fibromyalgia has been especially problematic, and I am in pain, it is nearly impossible to go anywhere, let alone have the energy to pick up the camera. I worry in those phases, that I will somehow slip back into Anhedonia. Truthfully, now that I know what it's like to have it, I don't think I will ever let that happen again, but the thought crosses my mind all the same. "What if I wake up today, and suddenly no longer have any creativity?"

Another piece of advice Steven gave me a couple years back, was to suggest that I do "still life" photography during those times when I am housebound. It will keep the creative juices flowing, and it is a good way to practice with lighting and settings I don't use as often, such as the portrait setting. Good idea. I have been enjoying doing that very much this past autumn and winter, but for this weekend, I needed to get out and smell the fresh, cold air... despite whatever grasp the Fibromyalgia had on me. I decided to push my assignment a bit further than just looking for spring, I challenged myself to find all four seasons in one day. Here is what I found...





"Four seasons in one day
Lying in the depths of your imagination
Worlds above and worlds below
The sun shines on the black clouds hanging over the domain

Even when you're feeling warm
The temperature could drop anyway
Like four seasons in one day"

From "Four Seasons In One Day" Crowded House

"Spring Mist"
Berkeley, California
February 24, 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Dragon & The Buddha's Hand

"As the soil, however rich it might be, cannot be productive without cultivation, so the mind without culture can never produce good fruit."


San Francisco will hold it's annual Chinese New Year Parade this Sunday afternoon, come rain or come shine. It will definitely be raining according to the weatherman, which means I will have to miss this year's celebrations. Oh well, there will be other years, and I will be looking forward to it. I am not to sad about it, because I had a pretty good time recently at the Conservatory of Flowers, enjoying their citrus blossom exhibit in honor of the Chinese New Year. I loved photographing the gorgeous citrus blossoms and fruits, and of course, this festive dragon that was hanging in the lobby of the conservatory. I considered using this picture for my recent Round Robin Challenge entry as the subject of "RED."

All the citrus fruits looked wonderful, and mighty yummy, but one fruit in particular that I found interesting was the, Buddha's Hand. I had never seen it before, but through a little searching on the Internet I found out that it is also known as citron, and it is used often in fruitcakes. I have been eating it for years, I just had no idea how interesting it was in appearance. It is more sweet then most citrus fruits and therefore it can be used in a lot of different dishes from rice pilaf to candied fruit or even a light topping for fish. I also found out that it can be used as a natural room freshener, because of it's clean, sweet fragrance. I am going to see if I can't drop by one of the markets in Chinatown, and see if I can pick one up. I would love to try some new recipes with this exotic fruit. I will let you know what I come up with. :)

Conservatory of Flowers
San Francisco, California
February 14, 2007