Saturday, May 17, 2008

Round Robin Challenge: Norwegian Wood

"People love chopping wood. In this activity, one immediately sees results."

-Albert Einstein

Wood. Trees are made of wood, books are made of wood. Toilet paper is sometimes made of wood, and if you have ever gotten a splinter in an inconvenient place, you will know that to be true! Yep. Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep! Thank goodness along with the many uses wood has, comes a deep appreciation for those things. I like trees in autumn most of all, but I also love taking photos along fence lines. I like toilet paper, but I would rather photograph a wooden Indian like the one at Alice's Restaurant. I saw a lizard once, sitting on the remains of a tree trunk, and a couple weeks later, I saw a woman with an artists box made of wood, painting a lovely picture of trees. Sometimes inspiration is everywhere! :)

Have a look...

One of my favorite autumn trees.

The Lone Cypress, Monterey, California.

Trees in a winter mist.

A wooden art set.

The cypress grove in Berkeley, which has become home to some tree sitters, who are trying to save the beautiful old trees from removal, since December 2006.

One of my favorite wooden bridges.

Wooden Indian, which sits in front of Alice's Restaurant.

A fence down the hill from the old school house in Bodega Bay, California.

The view of the Pacific, from down the hill from the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Pescadero, California.

Cute little lizard. :)

The new sign I put in my garden "Welcome Friends."

This challenge topic was suggested recently by Kiva. You know her from her blog, Eclectic Granny. Kiva, You're a gem, and so was this challenge! Thank you so much for your awesome idea! The moment I saw it, I loved it! And I went about the rest of the day humming Norwegian Wood! LOL. Great idea girl! Be sure to follow the list below to all the Robins who participated this time around. I can't wait to see what you have come up with! :)

Linking List

Kiva... Eclectic Granny

Carly... Ellipsis

Karen... Outpost Mavarin

Lisa... Lisa's Chaos

Momma... Sandcastle Momma

Gattina... Keyhole Pictures

Martha... Perception

TJ... TJ's Photo Expressions

Jill... Letting Crazy Take A Spin

Janet... Fond Of Snape

Jan... The Prytz Family

Monica... Family Affair Photography

Vicki... Maraca

Jennifer Robin... Robin's Woods

Angela... Chocolate Syrup of the Soul

Robinella... Not A Stepford Wife

Marie... Photographs & Memories

Kim... Nekked Lizard Adventures

Gina... Gina's Space

Meg... In Quest Of

Steven... (sometimes)photoblog

Jama Hameed... Sweet Memories

Teena... It's all about me!

Pamela... The Dust Will Wait

Sarah... Charish

Wammy... The Ellis Family Cincinnati

Peter... Holties House


Friday, May 16, 2008

New Monday Photo Shoot #20: Busy Lives

"You sometimes see a woman who would have made a Joan of Arc in another century and climate, threshing herself to pieces over all the mean worry of housekeeping."

-Rudyard Kipling

New Monday Photo Shoot #20: You're busy. I'm busy. Everyone's busy. (Well, almost everyone.) Show us a photo the represents one of the demands upon your time.

-Karen Funk Blocher, of the blog, Outpost Mavarin

Sigh. I wasn't going to do the Monday Photo Shoot this week, but because I am wanting to send some support Karen's way, I gave it a go. I enjoy the Monday Photo Shoots, I have for as long as they have been in existence. I participated in nearly every single one offered up by the Blogfather, John Scalzi, and I have played along nearly every week since Karen inherited the meme. Truth is, there have been weeks when I decided to sit it out, and there have been various reasons for doing so. I usually post one entry per day, but lately, I have been occasionally taking Wednesday's off from posting, making it fewer days per week online. Sometimes I have other things I want to write about, other then photography. Alan is home now between Monday afternoon and Thursday mornings. That is his scheduled weekend, so things can get busy. With what you ask? What's got me so busy that I can't find the time to participate in the Monday Photo Shoot?

Well, to answer your question... LIFE! REAL LIFE! UP-CLOSE AND PERSONAL LIFE! Housecleaning, spending time together, going out in the world for a little camera time, I have a garden in full swing, and the newest demand on our time, taking care of Elvis, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. Feline Lymphoma to be exact. There hasn't been a week, in the past 6 weeks, where Elvis hasn't had at least one appointment with Dr. B. or his staff. I choose to share about the positive time we are spending together, because there is a great deal of it, but there is a lot of negative time as well. For the most part, I would rather not share about that time. That's my business. I will share, however, that one of the new symptoms Elvis is dealing with is the urge to pull his fur out in large tufts. Sigh. I am cleaning it up all the time. Enough said, but add into the mix the same problems everyone else is facing... hell... just making it to the next paycheck... and you spell busy, stressful times.

Karen has indicated that this might, perhaps, be the last Monday Photo Shoot. Personally, I wish she would continue with it. She is doing a good job with it, but ultimately the decision lies solely with her. The thing is, the summer months are coming up, and people will be spending more time outdoors. I can think of a lot of reasons why both readership on blogs, and participation in memes will be down. My readership always falls in the warmer months, and then picks back up in autumn and winter. I think sometimes you have to ride out the slumps, and focus on when things will pick back up. I know how difficult it is, when you spend the time to come up with an idea for a challenge or spend a great deal of time on an article entry, only to have it seemed to be overlooked or ignored. It can hurt. We have all had it happen.

Tap, tap... is this thing on? :(

I had an excellent piece of advice given to me one time, when I was ready to retire all together from blogging, and I would like to pass it along now... "Don't let your ego get in the way." Meaning, you can't take it personally, when your hit counter hits the skids, or your comment or participation levels numbers drop. There are seasons to these things. I have been blogging nearly 5 years now, and I only have a few regular readers who have stuck with me that long. Duane, Steven, and Nancy to name some off the top of my head. I still hear from some folks, but not as often as I used to. On the other hand, I have some new pals which I made since the big break with AOL, who have been with me for at least a couple years now, such as Suzanne, and newer friends like Vicki and Martha. To my delight, I continue to be visited by new folks like Mike, who I met recently by way of the Monday Photo Shoots and Weekend Assignments. He writes a wonderful blog, if you haven't been reading him, you should be. I am glad I began looking at things in a different, less negative perspective, because look at all the fun that has happened since. :)

I am writing this entry from the heart. I wish only the best for Karen. But I want to tell her, with love, to take the hurt feelings, or resentment, or whatever the negativity is, out of the equation. Post a Monday Photo Shoot you are comfortable with, and if no one plays... so what? It is NOT a reflection on you. Not at all. Try approaching the project from the perspective of something to have fun with, and don't force expectations on yourself that you have no control over. All you can do is put the project out there, and hope for the best, but you have to keep in mind, you have very little control on whether someone gets sick and can't play, or life gets busy, or they aren't inspired by the topic, or, or.

Anyway, that is my two cents for what it's worth.

Now, about the rose. It is one of my busy stressful success stories. It is from my garden, which you will see a little more to tomorrow in the entry for the Round Robin Challenge. My garden keeps me busy, chasing aphids, and researching how to prune the flowers, and natural pest control, and planning for new rose varieties. A lot goes into gardening, it's work, but when you get a lovely rose like this one, after really working hard for it, you feel a great deal of accomplishment. :)

"The Pink Rose"
Berkeley, California
May 16th, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Steven's Feline And Furball Friday: I 'm Ready For My Close-Up Mr. DeMille

"There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast."


LOL. My cat loves the camera. My cat is mostly ham. My cat is a star. Meet my cat Elvis! LOL. Elvis has always loved posing for photos. I think I did something very right with him when he was very little. When he was a wee one, and I saw how goofy he was, I immediately brought the camera into things because I just knew I would be able to get some good candid shots of him, and I did! He saw me enjoying this action, and he seemed to take to that happiness like a moth to a light. From the time he was about 2 weeks old, we had a regular routine of camera time, followed closely by praise and play. Last night, as we sat on the steps of the storage room, Elvis and I got in a really good session of fun. He's good for me... no doubt about it. :)

Now, about his first experience with chemotherapy. The name of the chemo drug Dr. B is giving Elvis is, Doxorubicin. Apparently it is a very common chemotherapy drug, used most often with the kind of cancer Elvis has. It was given to Elvis by a slow intravenous injection. According to some articles, it takes about 10 minutes or so, to administer start to finish. Elvis did really well. He had no negative reactions to the medication, but Dr. B kept him overnight, from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning, for observation, just to be sure all was well with my boy. :) It was. :) We will know soon if the chemo is doing it's job. With a little luck we might be able to see a full remission. I am really hoping for that. I hope you will hope for it too.

A good sign came to me this morning, in the form of my boy causing a small ruckus. Elvis loves to taunt the nearby dogs into barking. He is a bully of sorts when it comes to dogs. LOL. Earlier today, I let him out to play in the yard, and he almost immediately went to the fence all the way in the back of the yard, where he could yet again make poor Mickey the Bulldog crazy with need to "Flatten THAT CAT!" LOL. I watched Elvis sit down very gently, stick one of his front paws under the bottom of the fence, and mew. Over came Mickey, barks a blazin'. LOL. Mickey has a very strange bark, which never fails to inspire the other dogs up the hill to barking. LOL. It was quite a concert around here. LOL. That's my boy.

Elvis a little less dramatic. Puckering up for a kiss. :)

Yes, I am hopelessly in love. I am a true cat fancier. I like looking at websites that deal with cats and cat care. The other day I found a really cute site that lists some signs of whether you are truly a cat owner or not. I had such a good time going through this list, and I have to admit, I saw myself in those descriptions right and left. LOL. I chose a few off the list that definitely describe me as a cat owner...


1. You kiss your cat more then ten times per greeting.

You have to understand... he is just soooo kissable!

2. If you are cold, you put a sweater on your cat!

Well of course, doesn't everybody? ;)

3. You and your kitty have matching outfits.


4. Poop has become a source of conversation for you and your significant other!

Well, it's important! LOL

5. You celebrate cat events (new cats, cat birthday, etc) by throwing catered parties with lots of people, but ignore your own birthday.

Now to my defense, I also throw parties on my birthday. We love to celebrate.

6. You have a set of towels with "his, hers, and "kitty's."

LOL. Yes, Elvis does have his own towel for after his bath. It says, "I Love My Mommy" on it. :)

7. Your Mom calls and asks how the grandcats are!

Yep, my Mother-in-law does indeed do that! She even has a baby book of Elvis!

8. You snap your fingers, and pat the sofa next to you to invite your guests to sit down.

Ut oh... guilty! ROFL. I do that! I confess. But I only do that if I really, really like you, and you don't shed or give me fleas! ;)

That was a fun list. If you have a kitty you can play along too. You can find the list here. I love participating in Steven's Feline and Furball Friday. You can play too. Just stop by his blog for all the details!

"I'm Ready For My Closeup"
Berkeley, California
May 14th, 2008
Early Evening

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Elvis Update

"In the middle of a world had always been a bit mad, the cat walks with confidence."

-Rosanne Amberson

For those of you who are new to my blog, I thought you might like to see why my cat's name is Elvis. LOL. There was never any other decision to make, when it came to a name for our boy, see, he was born with his name. I swear my Elvis is the reincarnation of Elvis Presley, because he shares so much with him. Food is my boy's favorite thing, followed closely by his love for women, he has managed to pick up every woman he has ever met, and he takes really good care of his friends. Not to mention the resemblance, and his sense of humor. LOL. My Elvis is a charmer to be sure. To say that I am proud of him would be a huge understatement. I LOVE him, and I always will. He will still have me laughing and smiling about our years together, when I am a very old lady. He is the one you never get over.

After trying the steroids, it has become clear that they aren't working. It seems that the cancer Elvis has is much more aggressive then we once thought. Fortunately, Elvis has a guardian angel, and we are going to be able to at least give the chemotherapy a try. He gets his first dose today. He has to be at the doctor at 9:00 AM, and we will pick him up at around 5:00 or so. Dr. B wants to see how he does with the drug, just to be sure there is no adverse affects. I am really hoping Elvis does well with the chemo, I love spending time with him, and he isn't in any pain right now, but he is uncomfortable. He has a lot of wheezing coming from his nose, and breathing is becoming much more difficult due to the erosion going on in his nostrils.

A good sign is that the bleeding from his nose has stopped, and he is really playful and loving. He is continuing to groom himself properly, and he asks for his meals on schedule. He played outside yesterday, I caught a glimpse of him walking across the back yard, on his way to the lemon tree, where he sometimes plays in the late afternoon. I have come to think of that tree as Elvis's lemon tree. It is so cute when he lays his head on a lemon and goes off to sleep. Over the winter, when he couldn't go out to play, he would steal an onion or an apple from the pantry, and rest his head on it. He makes me smile. And hopefully, with a little help from the chemo, I will have him as long as a year from now, and he will still be making me smile. So far, he is my little trooper, taking his medicine, and keeping to his schedule without complaint. I wish I were as brave as he is! He is my hero!

If you would like to read about the different types of Feline cancer, I found a great website called, Feline Cancer Resources. Give it a look see.

"The King's Baby Picture"
May 25th, 1997

Monday, May 12, 2008

Up, Up And Away...

"The president of today is just the postage stamp of tomorrow."

-Gracie Allen

Do you think Gracie is right? Do you think one day we might be licking the back of George Bush's head? Well, I mean to ask, do you think one day George Bush will be on a postage stamp? I wonder. If you ask Bush, he will tell you that despite his ever sagging approval ratings, history will one day show him in a positive light. I suppose that's possible, I mean even Nixon has seemed to improve his own presidential rating, years after his death. I don't dislike Nixon as much as I once did. Comparatively speaking... ahem... we have had to endure much worse in the form of a president, but would that fact alone, make Nixon a candidate for having his likeness on a future stamp?

As far as the current field of candidates goes, I certainly see any one of them on a postage stamp. First we have McCain, he is to date, the oldest person to make a serious run for the White House. On the democratic side, we have Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Clinton, the first female to make it this far, and Obama the first person of color to make a serious bid for the office of president. I wonder if these distinctions make them stamp worthy alone, of if they have to have a certain approval rating while in office. Who knows?

Today, the price of a First-Class stamp goes up to .42 cents. Like everything else, it now costs more to mail a letter. I wonder. As opposed to gas, which goes up in price as demand increases, do you suppose if everyone suddenly began writing snail mail, rather then email, the cost of a stamp would come down? You know, because more people would be using the service? Nah, probably not. Once up, it's a rarity that prices actually come down, which disproves the old adage that "what goes up, must come down." LOL. Nope, sometimes it might hang in midair, or move ever higher, but prices for goods and services, once inflated, almost never touch earth again.

Ok, so tell me, do you ever save commemorative stamps? Is there a past design you have enjoyed in particular? How do you feel about the new price hike? Have you ever used one of the online services which allows you to put your own photo on a stamp? If you could choose the next noteworthy person to grace a stamp, who would it be? Do you think George W. Bush will ever be on a U.S. postage stamp?

Opinions, opinions please :)

History of Postage Stamps


Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Lost Weekend

"Weekends don't count, unless you do something completely useless."

-Bill Watterson

It's Sunday afternoon, and I am exhausted. It's a good kind of exhausted none the less. Alan and I had a long weekend together, filled with some much needed fun and diversion from all the seriousness we have been going through lately. Next week will be bringing us some reality that I would rather not deal with now, so I am going to live in the moments the next few hours of the weekend, and then get on with things when Monday get here. Enough of that for now, let's see what Alan and Carly have been up to, shall we?

I have been telling Alan that we need to come up with a name for this holiday weekend. Oh, I know that traditionally, most folks know the second week in May as Mother's Day weekend. A wonderful holiday that celebrates that special woman who gave us life. Fair enough. I lost my mother years ago, and Alan's mother lives clear across the U.S.,but you know us, we will find a reason to celebrate, so we have chosen to celebrate the lessor known local holiday of Parade Day.

Parade Day, refers to the second Saturday in May each year, when the Rowell Ranch Rodeo Parade takes place. Horses, clowns, floats, balloons, and hometown spirit. Yeah, it's a bit cheesy, but it's fun, and it is one of Alan's favorite things to do. Heck, where else can you see state senators walking alongside giant bears and men dressed up as Oakland Raiders? Why at the parade of course, and that isn't even where all the fun begins! It all begins at the Chili Cook-off the night on Friday night! So I guess that is where my lost weekend actually started.

Chili With Fixins

Hillbilly Chillee

Cups of chili, cowboys, a live country band, a hayride, and good eats... fun! We bought enough tickets for fourteen chili tastes. I found my favorite after just the second one. It was called Hillbilly Chillee. It was yummy. Not too hot, but it did have just a little kick to it... enough to be nothing short of delicious. :) The worst part is knowing that I may not ever get to taste that particular recipe again. Sigh. It will be a few more days before I know if they won the contest, my fingers are crossed for them! Alan's vote went to the chili prepared by Frank Bonetti Plumbing. It was pretty tasty as well. Honestly, it was a close second in my book!

Handsome Alameda County Firemen

14 cups of Chili

Alan and I got home fairly early, but then decided to watch the Omen and the Omen II on AMC, followed by Earth vs. The Spider, also on AMC. It was pretty cool to cuddle up and watch some favorite movies, especially with Elvis right next to us. He is a lot of fun to watch movies with. :) I feel asleep before the end of the spider movie, but I slept really well that night, until Elvis woke me around 3:30 for his breakfast. It made me smile to wake up to those soft little paw pads on my face. :)

Then it was off to the parade, I will let pictures show you what we saw...

Miss Alameda County, 2008

A Happy Clown

A Happy Doggy

Miss Rowell Ranch Rodeo 2008

The Castro Valley High Marching Band

San Francisco By Night

Later in the evening, on Saturday, we were off to Treasure Island, to photograph the fireworks from KFOG's annual Kaboom concert. We grabbed a pizza, with a skinny crust of course, and headed to the island. We got a good parking place, and ate our pizza, as we waited for the fireworks to begin at 9:00 PM. Unfortunately, we were just a little too far around the corner from where the barge with the fireworks was sitting in the bay, and all we really saw was half fireworks and the bridge lighting up from the glare of the lights. LOL. Not my best Kaboom year, but at least I now know where the best vantage points are around the bay. It will be either the Marin Headlands, the vista, or Twin Peaks from now on. Live and Learn.

Better Luck Next Year I Suppose!

It was a great weekend, fireworks defeat and all. Now it is Sunday afternoon, Alan is napping so he can work the late shift tonight, Elvis is asleep under the desk where I am typing, and in a few minutes, I am going outside to plant some Stock. I am tired, but it is a good kind of tired to be sure! The weather is supposed to be warming up next week, and that will be good for my sore muscles. There is plenty to look forward to. If nothing else, the sunshine will make me happy.

"The Belle And The Bridge"
Treasure Island
May 10th, 2008
Early Evening