Saturday, October 06, 2007

Round Robin Challenge: Backyard Photography

"In my garden, there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful."

-Abram L. Urban

Finally, I get a chance to show off my autumn garden! In autumn! :) I started my garden a little later than usual this year, I don't know why, I think I was just taking my time, trying to decided if I really wanted one. I have complained enough about how challenging this year has been, so I won't go into detail, but all the crap was getting to me, and so, as a result, I could feel my drive to be creative slipping away with each day. Well, one day last June, in a mad attempt to break away from some of the issues I was going through, I just jumped in, feet first, and planted away. First I chose what corner of the yard to make my own, then I visited the store, and chose the seeds and plants, and then I made the vision come alive. I have one or two more touches to go, like the orange autumn lights, and then it will be complete. Pretty soon I will have to decide if I want to plant some bulbs for next spring, or if I want to just go with container pots again. I bet you can guess I am sitting on the fence a bit. Well, you will just have to stay tuned! :)

Bachelor Button

Pink Aster

Yellow Sunflower

Hot Pink Four O' Clock

Orange Cosmos

Yellow Cosmos and Skipper

A surprise visitor to my garden, a tomato plant from the neighbor's yard!

From Alan's garden; Variety Bell Peppers and Eggplant

Solid Black Sunflower

Burnt Orange/Red Sunflower



This Round Robin Challenge, was suggested by Tammie Jean, author of the blog, "Long Drives To Nowhere." Thank you Tammie Jean! :) Please be sure to drop by her blog, and say hello, then pay a visit to all the participating Robins, to view their entries as well. And remember Robins, we always need new suggestions for future Round Robin challenges, so please submit your ideas. Email your suggestions to Karen, Steven or myself, and who knows, we might choose your idea next!

Linking List

1. Steven... (sometimes photoblog)

2. Carly... Ellipsis

3. Tara... A Long Walk Home

4. Janet... Fond Of Photography

5. Suzanne R... New Suzanne R's Life

6. Vicki... Maraca

7. Gattina... Keyhole Pictures

8. Karen... Outpost Mavarin

9. Tammie... Long Drives to Nowhere

10. Julie... Julie's Web Journal

11. Teena... It's all about me!

Garden Photos
Autumn, 2007

Friday, October 05, 2007

Hey, What's That?

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."

-Marcel Proust

Isn't that cool? Earlier this week, Alan and I decided to take a walk along the beach at Chrissy Field. We hadn't been to that pathway in many years, so it seemed like it would be a lot of fun. It's so strange, we go to Fort Point to have lunch all the time, but just never seem to visit the lovely grass area of Chrissy Field. Anyway, as we walked up around the corner from the Warming Hut, we saw the unusual rock formations at the edge of the bay. I haven't found out much information about it on the Internet, but I am going back next week, and I will try to stop in at the information center, and try to get some information at that time. Whatever it is, be it public art, or a monument to the effects of global warming on the bay, or something some mysterious person decided to do, I think it's great. We sat for about 30 minutes the other day, just discussing the different formations and enjoying the fabulous autumn weather. It was a nearly perfect day, and it was a lot of fun to make a new discovery. Have you figured out yet, that I am hopelessly in love with San Francisco?

Shaping The Bay: The Changing Bay Area Landscape

"Geologic forces have been shaping the San Francisco Bay Area landscape for 4 million years. The block of rock between the San Andreas and the Hayward faults, under the bay itself, is slowly sinking, and the mountains on both sides of the bay are being uplifted. Climate change and human activity here have further altered the bay. The filling of the wetlands has shrunk the bay's size, and human caused silting, has made it shallower. Only in narrows such as the Golden Gate, does tidal flow maintain deep channels."

Isn't that great?!

Bay sea creatures.

The view back toward the city.

The Beach At Chrissy Field
San Francisco, California
October 2, 2007
Late Afternoon

Thursday, October 04, 2007

An Apple A Day

"He who has health, has hope. And he who has hope, has everything."


I can only imagine what it must have been like, for millions of American families who depended on the children's health care bill, to see President Bush veto it. The bill would have expanded coverage to allow over 4 million children into the program, which would have been paid for by increasing the federal cigarette tax. Which to me, increasing that tax, makes all the sense in the world. It is an indisputable fact, that smoking causes harm, both to the smoker and to those in their immediate environment, through second hand smoke, and yet, Americans continue to light up. For smokers to subject themselves, and their loved ones to the toxins emitted by their smoke, is inconceivable to me. I can't understand it. I probably never will understand it. In fact, I have never quite figured out why smoking around children has never been deemed a form of child abuse, considering the rise of asthma among the nations youth. So, to me, to pay for the program by taxing one of the most environmentally destructive habits we Americans engage in, makes perfect sense. But President Bush quietly vetoed the plan yesterday, and in doing so, may have sealed it for big changes to come in 08.

Bush cited concerns about the bill leading to socialized medicine, and he felt the bill was too costly, but I have my doubts about that being behind his true reasoning. Bush has always catered to big business, and lets face it, the Tobacco companies probably would not appreciate one more tax levied against their product. On the other hand, would Bush want one more thing taking possible funding away from his Iraq war project? Right now, America is spending 10 Billion in Iraq each month, the Children's Health Insurance Plan requested just 7 billion per year, and offered incentives for states to cover the children in the lowest income households first, while allowing children of some middle class households, which earned under a certain amount per year, coverage. So, what would cause the president to turn his back on the health and well being on our children, especially when it was a bi-partisan bill? Could it be... politics? His lame duckness? His love of big business? Does he simply not care about these children? Is it that he felt the bill gave the democrats too much glory?

Sometimes I think he does things like this, because he has never had to live through any catastrophic medical emergencies. He has never had to worry about where his next meal is coming from. He has never had to work two jobs, just so his children had health coverage, he has never had to struggle, and face having to decided between paying the bills and putting a decent meal on the table for his family. He has never had to face the sometimes overwhelming financial and emotional burden of caring for an aged parent. He has never had to face the kinds of hardships most folks go through. The loss of a loved one, who couldn't afford health coverage is devastating enough, now imagine the pain of losing a child this way.

Type 2 diabetes can strike at any age. Yesterday, I was waiting in line at my HMO's pharmacy, while I was watching coverage of the presidential veto. I was waiting for the first refill of my diabetic testing supplies, since I was diagnosed with Type 2 last July. At that time, I was given a OneTouch Ultra2 blood Glucose kit, which included the meter, the pencil lancing device, a 200 count box of lancets, and a 200 count box of test strips. The kit was free, I didn't even have to pay my usual co-payment, so I had no idea how much the refills were going to be. I was very pleasantly surprised to find out yesterday, that my refills are covered 100 percent under my plan. I didn't have to pay anything. But just out of curiosity, I asked for an itemized receipt just the same. I found out that my health care plan had saved me over $120. What would I do if Alan suddenly lost his job? I would have to face not being able to manage my diabetes, and the very real possibility of my eventual death from complications of diabetes.

OneTouch Ultra Test Strips - $99.00
OneTouch Ultra Ultra Soft Lancets - $22.00

I check my blood about 6 times per day. When I get up each morning, before and after each meal, and before I go to bed, but that's just me. It's different for each person, depending on their own individual diabetic needs, so can you imagine what it must be like for a family with a child with no health care coverage, to have to face paying full price for their diabetic supplies each month? I wonder how many children in America right now, are going to be with cancer, or diabetes or some other potentially devastating illness, because their parents can't afford to take them to the doctor for a routine physical. There are 43 million Americans living without health coverage, and of that number, 6 million are children. How long will we continue to let down the most vulnerable among us? Some republicans expressed concern that Bush's veto would make it more difficult for them in the 08 national election, you know what, they should be concerned! Does the path to doing the right thing, get any more clearer then this?

"An Apple A Day"
Berkeley, California
October 3, 2007
Late Afternoon

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The First Monarch Of Autumn

"Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower."

-Hans Christian Anderson

Tuesday was a perfect day with the camera. I went to San Francisco, to photograph the dahlias, which are now coming into the last few weeks of their season. It made me a bit sad to see them in decline, but at the same time, the garden was just full of life. I saw, and photographed, a large variety of butterflies yesterday, floating in and out of the dahlias. Then suddenly, she appeared. The first Monarch I have seen this year, and she was stunning! I think she was a young butterfly, because her wings showed no signs of wear at all. She took my breath away! I am really looking forward to my annual trip to Pacific Grove later this month, to visit the Monarch butterfly sanctuary. Last year, I stood in amazement, as I watched 10-15 thousand Monarchs, which were nestled in a grove of eucalyptus tress, turn to face the late afternoon sun. It was pure, life affirming magic. I need that escape more then ever this year.

When Shadows Fall (Haiku)
By Carly Gordon

When her shadow falls
The soul of autumn declines
She's left to wander

"The First Monarch"
Golden Gate Park
Dahlia Garden
San Francisco, California
Late Afternoon

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Monday Photo Shoot: Personal Gifts

"I don't think my parents liked me. They put a live teddy bear in my crib."

-Woody Allen

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Take a picture of something nice/fun/interesting that you recently bought for yourself. That means something you bought because you said to yourself "hey, that would be nice to have," as opposed to, say "hey, this is something I have to get." So, for example, that package of tube socks that you just bought would not qualify for photo shoot - but a pair of multicolored knee-high socks with kittens on them would. It's all about the delivery, you see.

-John Scalzi (By The Way)

This was a difficult Monday Photo Shoot for me. I haven't really indulged in anything recently, well, not since my last birthday in June, and I think I pretty much shared everything I have purchased since then. So, here are a couple items that I keep on my desk, which represent personal treasures to me. They were both purchased as a little something to pick up my spirits, neither qualifies as having been needed. So I hope it is ok to use these for the assignment.

The first picture is of my pal Arlo, which I named after singer, Arlo Guthrie. He is a member of my Boyd's Bears collection. I have an attachment to this fella, there is just something about him that makes me smile. :) I have a pretty big Boyd's collection, but this bear is very special. I hold him sometimes when I am feeling a little down. He helps.

This photo is of my lavender bracelet. It was really inexpensive, but it is fun and lovely. I wear it often, and feel really good when I do. :) It was only about $5.99, but it means a lot to me. I will always keep it close.

And there you have it, two examples of a recent indulgence. Just two little gifts to me, because, after all, I like me. Me is good. :) Go me!

Berkeley, California
October 1, 2007
Late Evening

Monday, October 01, 2007

Watching The Tree

"People in suburbia see trees differently than foresters do. They cherish every one. It us useless to speak of the probability that a certain tree will die when the tree is in someones backyard. You are talking about a personal asset, a friend, a monument, not about board feet of lumber."

-Roger Swain

I think I have already fallen in love with this tree. It is so pretty. I found it in my new favorite haunt, Tilden Park, in the Padre picnic area. Last year I found an absolutely gorgeous tree in Cull Canyon, and I tracked it's progress through most of the winter. Autumn in California, didn't seem to end in December. The Cull Canyon tree had autumn leaves well into March. It was like autumn had somehow refused to give up. On one hand, I found it so soothing to be able to take a short drive to the canyon, and be instantly near my favorite season, especially just after the first of the year, when nothing seemed like it was going right. I went there often, to get away from my own thoughts, and to get lost in my photography. Before I knew it, spring had arrived, and the last of those autumn leaves had finally fallen.

I can't believe 2007 has moved as fast as it has, considering how January never seemed to end. I was really sad when 2007 began, and now, despite everything that has happened this year, I am feeling very nearly back to normal. Sometimes, when your heart is so broken it is in shards, you really do just need to stop looking at how long it is taking to heal, and just focus on each day just as it comes, with no expectations. Earlier this year I talked a little about how much I had hated this year, and how I wouldn't miss it when the new year comes, but now I can look back, and I see all that pain with such clarity. Like when you have cried and cried, and then when you are all cried out, and you take a deep breath, and suddenly... you just feel relieved. Yes, that is my mindset now. Relieved. Grief has 5 stages, Denial, Bargaining, Sadness, Anger, and finally... Acceptance. The nice thing about acceptance, is that it is what lasts forever, not the sadness.

My 2006 Trees

"The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity, and some see scarce see nature at ll. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself."

-William Blake, 1779, The Letters

Cull Canyon Park/Tilden Park
Castro Valley/Berkeley
Late Autumn/Early Winter 2006

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Banned Books Week, 2007

"books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education."

-Alfred Whitney Griswold, Essays on Education

September 6 - October 6, 2007

I love to read, in fact, it was my first love in life. Even before my love of art, came my love of books. I think I inherited a passion for reading from my father. He had an impressive collection of books, some on travel, some autobiographies, he was a civil war buff, so he had many different books of historical reference, and he even had cookbooks, devoted to different regions of the United States. I don't remember a time when he wasn't reading one kind of publication or another, so now that I think about it, I am absolutely sure my love of reading came from my father.

When I was a little girl, around about the first grade or so, I hit a stumbling block in my ability to learn to read. I am not sure what it was, but thankfully, I was given an amazing teacher to help me through the struggle I was having. Mrs. "G". I think about her often, she was a a great lady. She made me feel good about myself, as she shared books with me that made me want to read. To her, nothing was off limits. While others were saying, "comic books will destroy your mind," Mrs. "G" was saying, "Good for you, you are reading." Between her help and encouragement, and my father's,
by the time I was in the 4th grade I was reading books, well above my grade level, and thoroughly enjoying them. I was reading Time magazine, the New Yorker, and our evening newspaper. I looked forward to writing book reports, because not only did I get to read a book, but I could pretend I was a book reviewer for the New York Times. LOL. I had quite an imagination, and I have my love of reading to thank for that imagination.

But how different would the world seem to me now, if for some reason I had to endure living in a society that banned such classics as "Alice in Wonderland," or "The Canterbury Tales," "Gone With The Wind," or "Little House On The Prairie." Those are just a few of the book titles that have been banned or challenged in the last hundred years or so. Its obscene. I have never understood why someone would attempt to keep me from a book, that they find personally offensive, when all they have to do is exercise their right not to read it. But there is a scared, bitter heart born every minute I suppose.

It's a disturbing thought that one day, one of those bitter hearts might just get their way, and we will have to read in shadows, or locked closets, or worse yet, be completely dictated to about what's acceptable and what isn't in literature. It's not that far fetched an idea that it could happen, in that we have seen the Constitution trampled on so blatantly in recent years. The best example of the road to hell being paved with good intentions, is found in the attempt to ban books. Here is a partial list of some of my favorite books, which have somehow ended up at one time or another, on a list of banned or challenged books...

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, by Jacob and Wilhelm K. Grimm
Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
The Bible
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl, By Anne Frank
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
1984, by George Orwell
Gone With The Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
It, by Stephen King
James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl
I know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
My Friend Flicka, by Mary O' Hara
The Odyssey, by Homer
The Stand, by Stephen King
Where's Waldo, by Martin Handford
To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

It's been years since I read some of those titles, so maybe I will buy a copy of, oh say, Stephen King's, The Stand, this week and enjoy the fact that, at least for now, I can read whatever I want, when I want, just because I have the right to. The gift of reading should never be taken for granted, so let's hope we don't all wake up one day to find our right to knowledge has been taken away from us. Can you imagine a world without the escape of Horton Hears A Who, or say, The 9/11 Commission Report?

If you would like to read the full list of the most challenged or banned books of 2006, click on the link below. It will re-direct you to the website of the American Library Association. So tell me, what book are you reading this week?

American Library Association

"Life In Shadows"
Berkeley, California
September 29th, 2007