Saturday, July 12, 2008

Round Robin Challenge: Morning Noon And Night

"Light gives of itself completely, filling all available space. It does not seek anything in return; it asks not if you are friend or foe. It gives of itself, and is thereby not diminished."

-Michael Strassfeld

This was a great little challenge. Vicki, who has the blog, Maracas, suggested this topic for us to tackle, and what better time to do so, then in the summer with it's long days and ample light? I had a really good time with this one, although I had thought it might be a bit of a let down because of the smokey filter being put on everything due to the many wildfires here in northern California.

Because of all the haze, I went looking in my archive in case I had some time lapse photos of a subject already on file. I didn't have a series already complied that used natural lighting, so I put together the main photo above using a compilation of different perspectives of the Golden Gate Bridge. The photos were taken during different seasons as well, which also tends to play with light. Autumn, followed closely by winter, will always be my favorite seasons to do photos of bright sunny conditions. The light is a bit softer during that time of year, and natural filtering seems to work better for me. The sun in spring and summer is just too harsh for me. It's hot to work in, and I am rarely happy with the matted effect it seems to put on my subjects.

Still, I did do some new photos this past week in my backyard, and experimenting with the different times of day gave me a nice insight into what times work best for me. I loved getting up really early to do the morning photos. The air was cool, and the there was a slight blue/purple cast to everything. I imagine it had to do with the purple suns we have been seeing thought the smokey haze. The smoke makes for some gorgeous sunsets, but it does put an added color to objects that makes the photos I take look like I photo-shopped them. Thats not always a good thing.

For the challenge I wanted to work with something sheer, so that I could get a good look at how the sun would penetrate the object. Here is what I came up with...

Morning Noon And Night

Early Morning


Late Afternoon


Thank you Vicki, this was very enjoyable! :)

Be sure to drop by Vicki's blog to see her Morning, Noon and Night photos as well. You can find her blog and the blogs of all the RR participants below. Go see the art!

Linking List

Vicki... Maraca

Karen... Outpost Mavarin

Carly... Ellipsis

Wammy... The Ellis Family Cincinnati

Jama Hameed... Sweet Memories

Sandra... Strong Chemistry

Janet... Fond of Snape

Monica... Family Affair Photography
Unable To Particpate

Olive... Ur Olive
Unable To Participate

Jennifer Robin... Robin's Woods

Jan... The Prytz Family

**Ourhomeschool... Through the Eye of my Camera

Steven... (sometimes)photoblog

Teena... It's all about me!




See all those open places? I saved a place just for you! If you would like to join us there is still time. Just visit the official RR blog to learn all the details of this week's challenge.

"Four Views"
Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco and Marin County
2005, 2006, 2007, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer Fruit

"Think in the morning. Act in the noon. East in the evening. Sleep in the night."

-William Blake

The heatwave we have been experiencing in the Bay Area has finally lifted! Finally, we are back to a very comfortable range of upper 80's to low 90's, which is almost always accompanied by a cool breeze as the fog rolls through the Golden Gate. It's heaven here when the weather cooperates. I am really enjoying these warm months and all the enjoyment it brings. I am especially grateful for the harvest of fruit we have going on right now, as both the lemon tree and the plum tree are currently producing some particularly sweet fruits.

Last night I was in the back yard to do some photography for the this weekend's RRC, when I spotted one of Elvis's pals, Peanut, up in the plum tree helping himself to a delicious, ripe, juicy, black plum. Peanut usually shows up in the yard between about 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM. It's amazing how scheduled critters can be. With gas prices so high, we have been spending a lot of time close to home but that didn't mean I had to do without when it comes to photography. I have been putting the tripod up in the yard, and keeping a small diary about when I see certain forms of wildlife. Birds, butterflies, opossums, they all go by schedules, and I enjoy watching and waiting for their visits.

We should make that a RRC at some point. Scheduled backyard photography. It could be interesting to learn about what animals or insects turn up in our yards and gardens at certain times and in certain regions. I would love to see pictures of fire flies, or deer, or even moths. No matter what time of day, there should be something interesting to see.

I set a couple of the damaged plums on the dining table outside, for the birds to enjoy, and sure enough, by late this morning it had been eaten on, and apparently enjoyed! I should have set the tripod up near the window to capture which birds had been by. I think it was probably the finch family, but it could have been the large robins that have been eating near the lemon tree. I have seen both eating on the plums.

Tonight, Alan and I will be eating on the plums. LOL. I am not sure what I want to do with these. I could make some Chinese food tonight, and these would make a delicious plum sauce, or I could grill up some chicken breast and make a spicy marinade with them and some red pepper or jalapeno peppers. Of course we could also turn the sweet plums into a nice dessert or even just snack on the just as they are, but somehow, I think I would enjoy doing something a little more creative with them. A salad could be good too. LOL. Plums are one of my very favorite summertime fruits, so I will think of something.

So tell me, are you enjoying this summer so far? Do you have a favorite summertime fruit? Do you have fruit trees in your yard, and if so, do you use the fruits in cooking or do you simply enjoy the fruit as is? What wild life can be found most often in your yard or garden?

"Peanut The Red Squirrel"
Berkeley, California
July 10th, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Elvis Update: Baby It's Hot Outside!

"Cats were put into the world to disprove the dogma that all things were created to serve man."

-Paul Gray

Elvis has come through his third dose of chemotherapy just fine. We dropped him off at Dr. B's office early Tuesday morning, and then, in an effort to calm our nerves about things, we decided to spend the day in Golden Gate Park. We have been in the middle of a huge heatwave here in the Bay Area, temperatures this week have reached over 110 in some areas. It's oppressive. It's really hard on Elvis, so Alan and I were both so pleased that he would at least be in a air-conditioned office for the day, but as it turned out, he spent the night in the hospital as well.

That was difficult. When I called to see how he was, Donna told me that he was doing fine, but that he was still a little groggy, so Dr. B thought it would be good for Elvis to spend the night. Sigh. That made me sad, but in some ways it came as a relief. As I said, it has been really hot, but also, when I was in the park that day, my blood sugar suddenly dropped... large. I had a small amount to eat before we left the house, but the mixture of the stress about Elvis's health, and the stress of trying to exercise in the park, my blood sugar said, "enough is enough!" By the time we crossed the bay, on Tuesday, I was just exhausted.

I asked Donna to please give Elvis a hug for me, and tell him I love him. She kind of laughed, and said in a kind tone, that she would as soon as we hung up. I can trust she did that for me, because Donna is such a sweet lady. In fact everyone in Dr. B's office are amazingly compassionate, loving, wonderful people. I know in my heart that Dr. B is the best veterinarian in the East Bay. He and his staff not only treat the pets who are brought to them with compassion, they treat the pet's humans with compassion as well. It will never be easy to come to terms with letting go, I know it will kill me, but on every level that counts, I know when Elvis is experiencing his final moments, he will be doing so, surrounded by love. Real love.

We don't dwell on those moments. We are doing really good today. Elvis sees the doctor in two weeks, and right now we are just the same old family we were a year ago. We are fine. We are all together. There's nothing wrong with that! :)

"Watching The Garden"
July, 2008

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Martha's A to Z Photo Challenge: "H " is for Hibiscus and Blue Heron

"Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into."

-Henry Beecher, Life Thoughts, 1858

We are up to the letter "H" in Martha's A to Z Photo Challenge. For the letter "E" I showed you some Egrets, but for this time I had to show off the beautiful Blue HERON I found in Tilden Park. The HIBISCUS was photographed at the Conservatory Of Flowers, in Golden Gate Park, in San Francisco.

Pink and Yellow is my favorite color combination. :)

I found this beautiful Blue Heron in Tilden Park. He was walking along the small hill in front of the Brazil Building, which overlooks the Botanic Garden. I love it there. The whole area is so peaceful. I am planning to do lots and lots of photography there this autumn. I am looking for lots and lots of color!

Orange and Yellow Hibiscus
Conservatory of Flowers
San Francisco, California

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Everyday at 2:00 PM

"Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time."


For the last week or so, I have been enjoying a lovely visitor to my yard, a beautiful Gulf Fritillary butterfly. I had no idea tthey came this far up in America, but according to what I have been reading, they can most certainly be found here in the Bay Area, it was just that I had never seen one here in Berkeley before. I have only seen one so far, but I am keeping a lookout now. The one visiting my garden was a fast moving butterfly, medium low to the ground, and energetic. I wanted to get a clear photo of this butterfly with it's wings spread open, but I had no luck. Like I said, I have been watching for her, and today I am going to set up the tripod, so maybe I will have a clear shot at it. She is so beautiful, and as you can see, her wings are perfect. :)

Gulf Fritillary
Berkeley, California
July 1st, 2008

Monday, July 07, 2008

Bush TV

"Television! Teacher, mother, secret lover."

-Homer Simpson

Ut oh. This is really hard to admit. In fact, I can hardly believe it myself, but I think I am watching too many reality shows! LOL. I say too many, because I can remember the day when I wouldn't even consider wasting my time with the likes of Survivor: Where The Hell Are We Now? Or Fear Factor, or eeeegadddds... American Idol! LOL. Nope, won't do it, don't ask me. I had made my mind up that these shows were an intellectual waste of time. Well, apparently I am no intellectual, because I have succumbed to their mindless seduction. I am addicted. Among my guilty pleasures are...

1. Denise Richards... It's Complicated

2. The Bachelorette

3. America's Got Talent

4. She's Got The Look

5. Ghost Hunters

6. Hell's Kitchen

7. Last Comic Standing

Now ok, so it's only seven reality shows, but honestly, that is a lot for someone who almost never gave in to the genre. Well, I have watched one or two over the years. One of my favorite was, the Fox show, Murder in Small Town X. I really liked that one for it's puzzle/mystery format. I watched the sort of reality show that Ben Affleck produced, Push Nevada, it was an interesting mystery, and besides, it was giving away a million dollars to whoever could solve the mystery. Yeah... that turned out well! Anyway, after those two shows crashed and burned, I didn't watch another reality show... until... Ghost Hunters. But jeepers, how could a ghost enthusiast such as myself, not watch two hunky guys, Jason, and Grant, who are Rotor Rooter men by day, and ghost hunters by night? OMG... that show has it all, and now they have gone international!

See, it makes sense. In fact, I have a good reason for watching all the reality shows currently on my TiVO que. Let's start with Denise Richards... It's Complicated. I saw her on The View back in May, pimping her new show, and I thought at that time that she was just another bimbo, out on the circuit, filled with shameful self-promotion, then I heard how the critics panned her show, and I decided to have a look for myself. I don't usually listen to critics, I like to make up my own mind. What I found was a young woman, raising two little girls, and caring for a recently widowed father, while making some extraordinarily tough decisions. Like having to save time and money by giving herself bikini waxes, as opposed to going to an expensive, and time consuming, Beverly Hills Salon. She's saving money and time... that is just informative TV!

Now, about She's Got The Look. You know, I like seeing women over 35, proving that we cougars got it going on! It's a well done show, and it shows how hard it is to be a model. How rigid the whole world is, how you are not encouraged to be yourself, or to speak your mind. How really evil a scoop of ice-cream can be. How if you don't stop to think about every step you take, you will someday walk the wrong way right off the runway and out of competition with your peers. I like the show. I am a better person for having watched it. And for whatever reason, I can't seem to look away.

Hell's Kitchen. Well, it sometimes seems like Gordon Ramsey is simply another Simon Cowell knockoff, but all his screaming and throwing of plates and dishes is just his way of saying, "I want nothing but the best for you up and coming chefs." I don't know how well the kitchens of America would do, if we all turned into screaming idiots as we fixed our Sloppy Joes, but heck, I could give it try I suppose. "ALAN HURRY UP WITH THOSE BUNS!" To which he would have to reply, "YES CHEF!" Yeah, I like that idea! :) Hey Alan, want Sloppy Joes tonight?

When it comes to America's Got Talent, and Last Comic Standing, well I have actually been watching similar on TV since the days of Star Search. I liked America's Got Talent last year, there was some really talented folks on there who kept me entertained. My favorites where Butterscotch, and Terry Fator. In the end it was Terry Fator who went on to fame and fortune as the big winner. In fact, he has shattered the record for the biggest post production contract of any reality TV star. He recently signed a $100 million dollar contract. He really deserved it too. This year however, I am not seeing anyone nearly as entertaining as his puppetry and impersonations were.

What can I say about the Bachelorette? Deanna Pappas seems to be the smartest of the ladies they have shown so far. When she was dumped by former Bachelor Brad, she got her little heart broken by a guy who she felt kind of lead her on. Who hasn't got a guy like Brad in their past? I don't know, she just seemed like a sincere young lady, and since I hadn't actually watched a single episode of the show in the past, I decided to give it a look see. I have been enjoying her journey to love, but I still have to wonder about the route she has taken. I guess there is just something really nice about not having won Alan on a game show. But then this is a different world then the one I fell in love in. Maybe we need to just grab love wherever it is, even if it's in an alternate reality.

As summer TV goes, these shows aren't all that bad. It's just a little guilty pleasure. I can stop any time I want. No intervention is necessary. LOL.

So tell me, what do you think? Do I need an Intervention?Do you enjoy reality shows? Have you ever voted for someone on a reality show? If you had to do away with one reality show, which one would it be? If you could star on a reality show, which one would it be? If you could bring back a former reality show, which one would it be? Speak up. Tell me everything!


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Elvis Update: Twisted Whiskers

"Attitude is the way you mentally look at the world around you. It is how you view your environment and your future. It is the focus you develop in life itself."


When I took this photo of Elvis back in May, I didn't realize it's strange and wonderful "Twisted Whiskers" quality. LOL. I love Twisted Whiskers, and now I have a pretty good photo of my boy posing as one! :)

Elvis has been having a hard time recently. I mentioned last week that Dr. B was unable to give him the dose of chemo that was scheduled for last Tuesday, because his blood level wasn't where it should be. It is a common thing with chemo, sometimes the doses come every 3 weeks, sometimes they come every four. There are some other things happening that have us worried, because no matter how you look at it, it isn't good news. The most striking is that Elvis has dropped 1/2 lb. in the last two weeks! That is a lot for a cat to lose.

He is such a trooper about taking his medicine. He never fusses much, but I know he hates it. Alan has been giving it to him every night before we go to bed, and often times it leads to some serious, silent crying from us. I know the medicine will help him feel better, and it does, he is a happy little fellow most of the time, but at the same time I know we will have to let go soon.

It's hard to tell when Dr. B will say the time is right. We have a strong verbal agreement between us that when the cancer starts to spread, or the chemo stops working, or Elvis's begins to be in pain, that will be the time. So far none of those things is happening. No pain to the touch, no tumors in other parts of his body, just the occasional bloody nose. When that happens he comes over to me, so I can wipe it with a soft tissue. LOL. It's so sweet. It didn't take me long to teach him that, he is such a smart little guy.

Sometimes, however, it's the things Dr. B doesn't say that worries me the most. Last week he looked a little bit sad as he weighed Elvis. I didn't ask why, I knew on some level that he was really concerned. Still, we have an appointment for this coming Tuesday. Elvis is outside playing right now. I can hear his bells as he walks across the yard in search of large yellow swallowtail butterflies. There have been a lot of them this year, and knowing him, he has already made a friend with one of them. LOL. Tuesday, will be a long day, so I am glad he is outside playing today.

Twisted Whiskers Website

"Twisted Whiskers Elvis"
Berkeley, California
May, 2008