Saturday, April 12, 2008

How Do You Make A Diabetic Girl Smile?

"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all."

-Harriet van Horne

The answer to the title of this entry is... Give her 4 straight days of amazingly warm, beautiful weather, put some of her favorite music on her stereo, and bring home all the ingredients for making a diabetic friendly pie. Sugar-Free Strawberry/Peach pie to be exact. :) Alan is a very smart man sometimes, he knows how much I love to... ahem... bake. ;)

Berkeley, California
April 12, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

Karen's Weekend Assignment #211: What Color Is Your Thumb?

"My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plants point of view."

-H. Fred Ale

Weekend Assignment #211: How are your gardening skills? Do you plant flowers and trees and even shrubberies, or do you settle for weeds or concrete? Do houseplants die or do they grow and prosper?

Extra Credit: Is there someone you know who is better at gardening stuff than you are?

-Karen Funk Blocher, of the blog, Outpost Mavarin

Welcome To My Garden...

"Norwich Sweetheart"

Since I recently showed a wide angle shot of my garden, I thought it would be nice to show you the flowers using the portrait and macro settings. I am scaling things down from last year. I was very ambitious with my flowers a year ago, but I am feeling my limitations this year, so, I am concentrating primarily on my mini-roses, with a few pots of Nemesia and Stock thrown in for color and scent.

"Green Ice"

Both the Stock and Nemesia did so well last year, that I didn't have the heart to just pull them out of the containers, and I am actually quite happy to have something a little nice to put next to my roses. The scent of the stock is almost intoxicating... imagine a flower that has a strong scent of cinnamon and clove. It makes me crave Pumpkin Pie sometimes. LOL. All of the mini roses I have chosen for the garden, have a spicy scent, but it is much more subdued compared to the Stock. The Nemesia doesn't have much of a scent, but it's unusual color combination of orange and purple, looks really great next to the roses and stock.


Purple Stock

I am a happy gardener right now. And with the ladybug's help, the roses that had been infested with Ahpids, are beginning to perk up. I will be giving the roses their first dose of rose food at the beginning of June, and then again at the beginning of September, which should give me one more big burst of color in early December. I love roses in December. :) It's a lot of fun to make my own centerpieces for the autumn holidays, and maybe even have some fresh roses for Christmas morning.

"Sweet Diana"

Extra Credit: I don't actually think it's either, helpful or healthy, compare myself to others, especially when it comes to hobbies like gardening. I have all the information I need at my fingertips with the Internet, so I just do my research and then proceed accordingly. If I have a little bit of luck on my side, well, that never hurts either. I don't compare myself to others... I am just me.

"It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy prescences may haunt you and possess yo in a reverie of suspended thought."

-James Douglas

"With A Little Luck From A Ladybug"
Berkeley, California
April 8, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Behavior Of Gossamers

"Taking joy in living is a woman's best cosmetic."

-Rosalind Russell

I love butterflies. All butterflies. That's just a fact of my life. The afternoons I spend photographing them, at the Conservatory of Flowers, are usually some of my favorite moments out of my week. They are so beautiful and so graceful that I cannot help but feel completely at peace as they flutter about the room and when one happens to land on my shoulder to hitch a ride, I am especially at peace inside. This week's visit was especially enjoyable. There was a wonderful variety of butterflies. Zebra Longwing, Julia's, Monarchs, Queens, Red Admiral, Great Southern White, which is the one featured in large photo above, and a new one to me, an Orange Sulphur.

As I was walking into the exhibit, I saw the tiny butterfly resting up against the glass window at the front of the building. I was just thrilled. Yes! A new challenge. The first thing I learned from visiting the exhibit in 2005 was that not all butterflies behave the same. Some are very shy, some are constantly moving, almost as if they suffer from ADD, while others are more then happy to come over and almost strike up a conversation with you. The Orange Sulphur butterfly, is tiny, very active butterfly. It is a difficult butterfly to catch with it's wings open. Some butterflies spread their wings as they drink from a flower, not so much with the gossamers, which is the class they come from.

My photography goal for this year is to capture a photograph of the Mission Blue butterfly in the wild. The Mission Blue has been on the endangered species list for a number of years, but fortunately their numbers are coming back, thanks to some dedication an effort to help them repopulate here in the Bay Area. I am thankful to be able to get some insight to their behavior by getting in a little practice with the gossamers in this exhibit. The weather is warming up around the bay, beginning tomorrow, and we have been promised, by the weatherman and weatherwoman, to be in the lower to mid 80's by the weekend. With the warm weather come the butterflies, so, next week I am heading for either Mt. San Bruno, or the Marin Headlands, with my camera, to hopefully find my goal, the Mission Blue.

On my way, I will of course stop in for a little time with my favorite friends, and with a little luck, there might even be yet another type of butterfly I haven't photographed yet. Crossing fingers. I had a wonderfully relaxing time getting to know the Orange Sulphur. As I approached her for the first time, she was sitting in a window, looking outside, and moving her limps across her face as if she were applying her make-up for the day. She turned my way, smiled, tilted her glasses, I swear she looks like she wears glasses, and just that quickly I was smitten. It was difficult to leave at the end of the day. But I will be back... I promise.

"Great Southern White"
Conservatory of Flowers
San Francisco, California
April 8th, 2008

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

On My Mind... The Olympic Torch Relay

"Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it."

-Albert Einstein

Last Monday, Students For A Free Tibet, held a nonviolent protest on the Golden Gate Bridge. The three young people, climbed 150 feet and unfurled a banner which simply read, "One World, One Dream Free Tibet 08." By the time the news showed the demonstrators, there was no time to get out to the bridge to photograph their amazing feat. I wish I could have been there. Not only do I admire their dedication to their beliefs, but I am forever grateful that they made more then one statement that day. Homeland security, at least in my neck of the woods, is pretty much nonexistent.

The question on every ones mind kept being asked by the local media. "How could these students, climb the side of the bridge with such ease? Wasn't anyone watching? In post 9/11 shouldn't there have been more security cameras? I wanted to know how this could happen as well. Sadly, I already knew the answer. I have written about it before. San Francisco, and the Bay Area received $34 million in funding from the DHS, up 25% the year before. It sounds like a lot of money, but it really isn't enough. Not in the world we are asked to live in. Here in the Bay Area we have the Silicon Valley to think of, we have the 4 Bay Area bridges, and of course the many roads and highways which connects everything together. We have the Caldicott tunnel, and the major airports in S.F., Oakland, and San Jose, and the list goes on.

Ok, the argument can be made that San Francisco dropped the ball, and it would be true. After all, where were the city police, and the Highway Patrol? Given the problems with the torch relay which have already taken place on it's world wide journey, couldn't they have maybe had extra security on the bridge? Yes. I would have thought they would have done that but there is another point. Are individual cities doing their part to cover themselves every day? Well, depending on how each city might be struggling, it may not be an easy question to answer. Things are difficult throughout the country. Federal funding needs a second or a third or a fourth look. I think we can all agree that America needs to get it's priorities straight.

Now, when it comes to the issue of the torch relay, I don't know exactly how to feel. On the one hand the Olympics is about celebrating the finest athletes around the world. On the other hand the demonstrations are valid to bring awareness to the very sad, very oppressive conditions forced on the people of Tibet, and China. Sigh. I think if I were living in those conditions, I would want someone to stand up and help me. I would want someone to not just get my message out to the world, but to take a stand. Sadly, when the Olympics are over, who will continue the message? Oh you will see the occasional "Free Tibet" bumper sticker, but nothing much will have changed. So why protest? Because peaceful, civil disobedience is a beautiful option. And once in a great while it leads to a better world. Where would we be today, without the brave actions of Rosa Parks?

By the way, did you know that in the ancient games, only free men who spoke Greek could participate? Did you know that not only were women not allowed to participate, but married women were barred from the games under penalty of death! Single women were allowed to attend. Interesting how times have changed.

Opinions, opinions. Tell me what you think. Have you ever participated in a protest? What would make you join one? How do you feel about the Olympics being held in China, given their attitudes regarding human rights? Will you watch the Olympics? Sound off. Sing out. Tell me what's on your mind.

The Real Story Of The Ancient Olympic Games

Golden Gate Bridge
January, 2005

Monday, April 07, 2008

New Monday Photo Shoot: Tower Power

"I'll pull you from your tower, take away your pain. Show you all the beauty you possess, if you only let yourself believe."

-Sarah McLachlan

New Monday Photo Shoot #15: Photograph a tower, lightning struck or otherwise. It can be a skyscraper, a silo, a turret, an observation platform, or even a CD rack. Whatever it is, if it's a tower, let's see it!

-Karen Funk Blocher, of the blog, Outpost Mavarin

Once again, I am at a loss for some fresh photos. I am planning to head over to San Francisco to some of my favorite haunts, but until then, it's into the archive for me. I hope it's ok to use previously posted photos, it's been at least a couple years since I first showed you these. The main photo in this entry is of the Ferry Building, along the San Francisco Embarcadero. It was all lit up with special lighting to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

Here are a couple more Bay Area Towers...

Coit Tower, and the Golden Gate Bridge. I took this photo one day, while driving into San Francisco by way of the Oakland/San Francisco Bay Bridge.

The Tribune Building, Oakland, California

"San Francisco Ferry Building"
April, 2006
Early Evening

Weekend Assignment#210: Speechifying

"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which differences disappear and obstacles vanish."

-John Quincy Adams

Weekend Assignment #210: It's been 40 years since the Mountaintop speech, and even longer since the great speeches of John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and others. Are the days of great oratory behind us, or have you drawn inspiration from some recent public speaker? If so, what was the speech? Do you remember any actual quotes from it?

Extra Credit: Have you ever given a speech, other than in a classroom?

-Karen Funk Blocher, of the blog, Outpost Mavarin

Chelsea Clinton was campaigning for her mother Sen. Hillary Clinton on a college campus, just one of many she has spoken at, when a student journalist asked her opinion about how and if her mother's credibility had been damaged by her father's affair with Monica Lewinsky. I didn't hear all of her speech that day, indeed the only thing the media seemed to play was the response she gave to that insulting question. A simple. "None of your business." I admire her strength and ability to keep herself in check.

I don't know if someone had asked me an equally insulting question, if I could contain myself. I can spit fire at times, with the proper provocation. This question came at the end of a long Q&A session, and was the last question asked. She could have left the stage at this point, but she stayed, and took one additional question. This girl has grown into a wonderful young woman, and true testament to what the Clinton's have done right as parents. That says volumes to me. They have my respect for many reasons. Chelsea has my respect for her grace in such difficult situations as this moment was. Sometimes little moments stay longer with me, then long speeches do.

Extra Credit: Nope, I am not much of a public speaker, but I might give it a try under the right circumstances, such as the entire audience clothed only in their underwear. LOL.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Ladies In Red Dresses

"She sat down in a weed patch, her elbows on her knees, and kept her eyes on the small mysterious world of the ground. In the shade and sun of grass and forests, small living things had their metropolis."

-Nancy Price

The Pretty Girl

This past week I invited 1,500 ladies in red dresses into my garden to handle a matter most serious. You see, my lovely roses have Aphids! YIKES. Because I like to take care of such things by organic means as often as possible, I am trying the ladybug method first. I found them at Home Depot for a reasonable price. $4.95! One package to start, but I think I will more then likely be adding more as the month moves on. It was actually kind of fascinating to open the package and sprinkle them about the roses. They went to work immediately, happily chomping away, while others went about, well, procreating. So I guess, in no time at all, we will have baby ladybugs about as well. Cool. I like them. They are a pretty insect, and very helpful. It was pleasant to sit by my favorite flowers, with a nice glass of green tea in hand, and watch as my new girlfriends lend me a hand.

Ladybug Porn ;)

"Or perhaps you notice a congregation of ladybugs on a rose stalk.
Don't invoke the old nursery saying and ask them to fly away home.
Their house is not on fire. Your roses are, with Aphids, which the ladybugs
are feeding on ... and you can bless yourself that they have come to your rescue."

-Eleanor Perenyl

"Red Is For Ladybug, Green Is For Aphids"
Berkeley, California
April 3, 2008