Saturday, November 22, 2008

Martha's A-Z Photo Challenge: "Q" Is For Quince Blossoms

"Faith sees a beautiful blossom in a bulb, a lovely garden in a seed, and a giant oak in an acorn."

-William Arthur Ward

I love spring, all the beautiful blossoms, and one of my very favorite is the Quince. :) The Conservatory of Flowers usually has a nice display of colorful blossoms in place toward the end of winter, which makes those drab, cold, gray days of winter at lot easier to take. I have never tried eating a quince, but I understand they are really delicious. Maybe that will be something new to try for 2009. We'll see. Anyway, my pick for "Q" is Quince Blossoms. :)

Have you played the A-Z Challenge yet? Drop by Martha's blog, Menagerie, for more information.

"Quince Blossoms"
Conservatory of Flowers
San Francisco, California
Spring, 2006

Friday, November 21, 2008

Steven's Feline & Furball Friday: Dylan's Story

"With their qualities of cleanliness, discretion, affection, patience, dignity, and courage, how many of us, I ask you, would be capable of becoming cats?"

-Fernand Mery - Her Majesty The Cat

Here, as promised, is the story of how cat Dylan came to live with us. I already told you that when we adopted Hendrix, we had tentative plans to also adopt another cat that was in the care of a sweet lady named Donna who had been Hendrix's foster mother. It was a beautiful cat, and it played really well with Hendrix, but somehow the adoption couldn't take place. Sigh. It is a very long, ugly story. One that left me devastated. I am not exaggerating about that. I actually cried for a most of the weekend. It left me wondering if I had any business being a mommy to a cat. I wondered about whether I had hurt Elvis? I thought he had been happy, but what if I had actually subjected him to a life of misery, and he just couldn't tell me? After losing him the way I did, I had to then consider if I had made his life a living hell. It was a question about declawing.

I intend to have my cats eventually declawed. Now, there are a lot of opinions about this, and a lot of passion on both sides of the issue, but based on the experience I have had with declawing, which was a positive one, it seems like the best thing for our kitties. When I had Elvis declawed, it was because he was living with my mother who was elderly, and rather frail. Elvis didn't have a mean or destructive bone in his body, but accidents do happen, so I felt it was best for her at the time. I took him to Dr. B. the procedure was done, we followed all of the doctor's recommendations and Elvis was as good as new in a few days. No sign of pain or discomfort... ever! In fact, he could still grab things and hang on with nearly the same fierceness he had displayed when he played with his catnip toys, prior to being declawed. He ran, he played, he smiled, he saved animals in the backyard, he jumped, he did everything he did before he was declawed. That was my experience. It didn't hurt him. I am positive of that.

Ok, fast forward to the present, and what happened with the cat that was not to be. Donna fosters kitties for a Bay Area shelter, and when they come into the care of the system, they are assigned a tracking number. Once you find a kitty you want, you go to the shelter and get approved for the official adoption. Alan and I went to the shelter, and filled out the paperwork, and of course we told the truth about our intention to have the cat declawed. That is when it all fell horribly apart. The shelter grilled us for almost an hour about the declawing. They wanted to know who our veterinarian was, and told us more then one horror story about how my cat would come home from the declawing a different cat. It would hate us for the rest of our lives, it would turn to biting, rather then scratching, and the cat would be in devastating pain forever. They stopped just short of telling us that the cat would plan our murders! It was so bad, that when I asked to hold a little orange cat that was waiting for adoption, the shelter volunteer said, "NO!" It would be better that it was put to sleep, rather then adopted by me. We called Donna, told her what happened, and told her we were sorry about not being able to take the kitten, but we couldn't lie.

I was in so much pain I could barely breathe. I just quietly walked out of the shelter. So much went through my head. Had we just caused Dr. B a lot of hassle. Where they going to put him on some mean veterinarian list? But what to do? The truth was already out there. Neither Alan or myself was willing to lie to get what we want. So, there we were. We may have just caused a ton of problems for Dr. B and no second cat. Sigh. It was a terrible feeling, but I resigned myself to simply owning Hendrix, after all, he is a beautiful cat, full of fun, and life, and he loved me so much, so, I began to move on. It would be ok. Don't get me wrong, it would have been just fine owning one cat, but I did know that Elvis was terribly lonely after we had to get rid of his brother Jack. That is why he tried to adopt everything that came into the yard. LOL. He loved everyone so much, and it was that memory of him that made me not want Hendrix to be lonely, but what were we to do? The day after election day, a call came. It was Donna, who had found an orange kitten, whose mommy and sibling had been hit by a car and killed. It hadn't been placed into the shelter system yet. "Would we be interested?" You bet!

Dylan was all alone in the world. He had just saw his very own mommy and brother or sister struck by a car and killed. He needed to have a new mommy, and I was so happy to be that for him. It was a nice fit, because I was a mommy, who just lost her little boy to cancer. We both had holes in our hearts that we could fill for each other. :) The first time I picked him up, he was shaking, but within a couple moments he stopped, and laid his head on my shoulder. He liked me, and felt safe. We became family before we left Dr. B's that day, and he has been my constant companion ever since. He adores his brother, and he lavishes love on his daddy when he comes through the door, and we are a family. :) It was a long road to each other, and there were some bumps, but it doesn't matter, what does matter is we are together. Forever.

Have you played Steven's Feline & Furball Friday? If not, you should. Write up your own pet tale, and then leave the link for Steven. Here is where you find all the information. :)

"Dylan's Story"
November 5th, 2008

Caption Me Winner!

And the winning caption is...

"Who said mischief didn't leave you with a hangover!"


Alan, as you may know, is the official judge when it comes to contests and MadLibs, and he didn't have an easy time! We really enjoyed all your entries very much. Thanks so much for playing along! I will be having more Caption Me contests coming up, so stay tuned, or better yet, try to play along! :)

Indigo, hon, I have a your prize waiting for you, but you have to send me an email so I have an address to send it back to. :) You can reach me at ...


"Who Said Mischief Doesn't Leave You With A Hangover"
Berkeley, California
November, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pacific Grove Monarchs

"Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you."

-Nathaniel Hawthorne

Yesterday, Alan and I made our annual trip, down the coast to Pacific Grove, also known as "Butterfly Town USA." It's called that because each year thousands of Monarch butterflies choose this small coastal town to do their overwintering in. Actually, the monarchs can be found in giant clusters all along the pacific coast, but this is one of the largest colonies. It is estimated, this year, that there are about 15,000 clustered in this grove alone. It is nothing short of majestic!

I have been going to see the butterflies in Pacific Grove for years, but this year is perhaps one of the best in terms of numbers of Monarchs. It's most peaceful way to spend a November day as I can think of, and that's why I go there, to find some peace and quiet beauty. I wish autumn never had to end, I look forward to it all year long, and it seems like it never lasts quite long enough. Sigh. If you enjoy photography, and you live in California, you must go see the butterflies of Pacific Grove!

"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."

-Maya Angelou

"Once I read a story about a butterfly in the subway, and today, I saw one. It got on at 42nd and off at 59th, where I assume it was going to Bloomingdales to buy a hat that will turn out to be a mistake - as almost all hats are."

-Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) You've Got Mail

"Butterfly Town USA"
Pacific Grove, California
November 19th, 2008

In The Hands Of Dr. B.

"Cats are dangerous companions for writers because cat watching is a near perfect method of writing avoidance."

-Dan Greenburg

Hendrix weighs 2.2 lbs! So does Dylan. We are off to a good start!

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Everything is coming up cats! LOL. Ok, let me explain. The new kitties, Dylan and Hendrix, had to go for a visit with Dr. B. yesterday. It was time for a weigh-in, and a check in the ears, and for Dylan, a look at a yucky mouse which had occurred under one of his eyes. That one had me worried. Had he been fighting with his brother Hendrix? Did Hendrix hate his brother? Were we going to have to... gulp... separate the brothers by getting rid of one of them for their own good? There were some questions to be asked, but the last one worried me the most. I am hopelessly in love with my new two sons, but if I had to give one up for their own good, I would do it, as long as they could live a happy life. I have to admit, however, it would have hurt like hell.

Getting a start on leash training, our first session went very, very well! :)

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As it turns out, I was being an overly cautious mommy. Their play is just fine, and the mouse under the eye wasn't the result of hostility, it was something that happens when kittens play. I think I have been a little hypersensitive lately, as I struggle to let go of Elvis, who is still in my thoughts each day when I wake up. It's hard not to miss him, considering that each morning for the last 10 years he woke me with paw pads and kisses. Sometimes I can almost feel him, asleep at my feet, and I just want to not open my eyes, because then I have to face another day without him. I still love him so, so, so much. But within a couple seconds I hear some bells in the other room, and I know that Dylan and Hendrix are playing, and if I call their name, they come running, jump up on the bed, and kisses happen! It feels good to have them greet me with love at the beginning of the day, it's almost as if Elvis somehow whispered in their ears, "Mommy really needs you, so give her kisses when she wakes up." Well, it's a nice thought anyway! :)

Hendrix stalks the invisible mouse!

Dr. B is the best veterinarian in the world, or at least the San Francisco East Bay! I know that in his hands, and those of nurses Mary and Donna, my kitties have the best care available. We knew that when he was caring for Elvis during his cancer treatments. There was so little that could realistically be done for Elvis, in fact, a lot depended on hope. Dr. B. gave us that, and from that hope came the miracle of having the world's best cat, longer then we originally thought possible. Alan and I have joked many times that sometimes we wish be could give up our personal doctor, and just go to Dr. B. for our medical needs. LOL. It's just that in his hands are our children, our boys, and he takes very good care of all of us, in one way or another. :) Thank you Dr. B., once again, for your understanding and generosity. :)

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The next two photos tell you why the bed rarely gets made these days! :)

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Look, Dylan smiles when he sleeps! :)

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"In The Hands Of Dr. B"
Castro Valley, California
November 18th, 2008
Late Afternoon

Note: Friday I will share with you what Dylan's story was before we became a family! Tune in then for my Feline & Furball Friday entry!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #12: Hot Beverages

"Love is like swallowing hot chocolate before it's cooled off. It takes you surprise at first, but keeps you warm for a long time."



Hi folks, we have several new players this week, so be sure to drop by and say hello!

Brrrrrrr! A November chill is in the air, and what could be nicer on a chilly November morning then a tasty HOT BEVERAGE? Ok folks, this is an easy one, so pour a big cup of your favorite HOT BEVERAGE and photograph it! My favorite HOT BEVERAGE is Starbuck's Hot Chocolate w/ raspberry syrup, but I also love hot Caramel Apple Cider. Some folks would rather have a big mug of soup, then coffee or tea, but that's ok, because all three would do just fine for this assignment! So many wonderful HOT BEVERAGES to choose from, so little time! This week, it's all about HOT BEVERAGES!


You have until next Sunday evening, at 9:00 PM Eastern, time to find your HOT BEVERAGE, photograph it, post it to your blog or website, and comeback here with the direct link back to it. Your general blog address will not work. It must be a link to the entry specific to this challenge! NO HYPERLINKS! It is your responsibility to leave the link correctly. The link you leave me is the one I will post! Please folks, you MUST remember to submit your link correctly! Also, please remember to link back here so other folks can find the challenge and play along! :)

Linking List for EMPS #11: Windows. 11/10/08


1. Vicki {Welcome New Player}

2. Lisa

3. Karen

4. Jama

5. Wammy

6. Em Dy {Welcome New Member}

7. Connie

8. Sherrie {Welcome New Player}

9. Laurel {Welcome New Player}

10. Martha

Nice photography everyone! See you next Monday with a new assignment! :)


Sunday, November 16, 2008

In The Photo Trek Spotlight

"Photograph: A picture painted by the sun, without instruction in art."

-Ambrose Bierce

You meet such extraordinary folks through blogging. A couple months ago, a really fabulous photographer came by to play along with the Round Robin Challenges, and through that meeting I asked him to join in with the EMPS. I had no idea how much I would be learning from him. His name is Greg Kiser, and at that time he had the AOL Journal, Photo Trek. As we all know, AOL suddenly pulled the plug on the entire community, and when it did so, it destroyed a lot of hard work that folks had put into their journals and links through Google. Greg was one of the people hit the hardest by the loss of AOL Journals. He had spent a lot of time and creativity to create a special place to share his unique and beautiful photography. I know what felt like to put a lot of time and energy into a blog to make it a special place that represents my creativity. Greg not only did that with Photo Trek, but he went a step further by showcasing the photographic creativity of others as well.

Once a month he wrote a special article spotlighting a different photographer, who he felt advanced the art of photography. I am so honored to be one of the people he has chosen to spotlight. Yesterday, he wrote an article about me, and my love of photography, at his new website on the Internet, 446 Photography. Greg is a predominently a landscape photographer, who does some really wonderful things with water and movement in particular. He had a wonderful journal on AOL, but since leaving there late last month, he has created something even better with the new site. I will be following him in his new adventure, and continuing to learn wonderful tips about photography from him. He not only shares his personal gift for photography, but encourages others in their pursuit of the craft as well. He is a great guy, and I am honored to be featured this month.

Thanks so much Greg, for the kindness you have shown me. It means a lot. :)

Always, Carly :)

446 Photography

Photographer Spotlight: Carly Gordon

"Golden Gate"
January, 2005