Saturday, December 13, 2008

Round Robin Challenge: Hometown Holiday Decorations

"Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles."


There is a marvelous exhibit of giant Christmas bulbs at 101 California street in San Francisco. That is the downtown area, right at the Business and Financial district, and it is a really, really festive and charming way to celebrate the season! It is such a nice change from the usual bland gray skyscrapers. A nice splash of color for the cold, days of late autumn. It is going to be really brisk and cold the next week or so. Just in time for the holidays. YIKES. Snow levels are going to be down to the 2500 foot level, which means the Bay Area peaks will see a dusting of snow. As much as I am looking forward to it, I know for some it will be a dismal thought. I imagine this bit of color will lift spirits, at least a little. :)

Lets see some other decorations I spotted around town and beyond...

Christmas Tree in Union Square, San Francisco

Holiday banners in downtown Berkeley

Cute little reindeer at the Holiday Fantasy In The Woods, Tilden Park, Berkeley

Holiday wreath, Old Sacaramento, California 2007

That's it for me... how about you? Did you play? If not there is still time. You can post your entry for up to one week from today, after that time the challenge will be closed. If you post an entry, be sure to come back and leave us your complete information. You can find all the details at the official Round Robin blog. :) Be sure to check on Sunday, for the announcement of an all new challenge topic!

Follow the LL to see what everyone else came up with! :)

Carly... Ellipsis

Monica... Family Affair Photography

Karen... Outpost Mavarin

Jama... Sweet Memories

Martha... Menagerie

Marina... Milepebbles
Welcome New Member!

Sandra... Strong Chemistry

Suzanne R... Suzy Q421's Photo Blog

Liz... Visual Counterpoint


Connie... Far Side Of Fifty Photos

Wammy... The Ellis Family Cincinnati

Sherrie... Sherrie's Stuff

Marie... Photographs & Memories

Valerie... Rosemary's Other Baby
Welcome New Member!

Gattina... Keyhole Pictures

Teena... It's all about me!

Terri... Ways I See The World

Kathee... Docu-diem
Posted! **Welcome New Member**

Happy Holidays Everyone! :)

"The Big Red Christmas Bulb"
San Francisco, California
December 11th, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Day After December 10th And Other Tales Of The City

"The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected."

-Will Rogers

Yesterday, as you know, was the day after December 10th. Which for most folks means it was just another day on the calendar, but in our house, it means the day after whatever strange event more then likely visited us the day before. If you read my last entry, then you know December 10th is a cursed day in the universe for us. Something something really bad happens, sometimes it is something amusing, but it is never, ever uneventful... and this year's December 10th was no exception.

This year's events could best be described as a cosmic practical joke. It went like this. Alan needs a special set of licences for the job he does. His everyday license plus some assorted endorsements. About 3 weeks ago, he got a renewal in the mail for them, and he put the letter on the bulletin board for taking care of later. His birthday isn't for another month, so he thought he had plenty of time to take care of it. on Wednesday night, we sat down to play a game of Skip-o and celebrate what we thought had been an uneventful December 10th, when he decided to take a closer look at the letter from the DMV. As he read he turned white as a sheet. As it turns out, the letter said in very small writing that one of the endorsements he needed would be from a division of Homeland Security.

????what? And on top of it, it had to be approved by no later then... you guessed it... December 10th! In that it was nearly 10 PM on that very day, Alan began to panic. Would he lose his job? Would he be demoted? What the heck are we going to do! And on top of everything, the cost of all the licenses and the various fees would add up to well over $100. Not a huge amount, if you happen to have it, but his check, which was due on December 10th, of course didn't make it into the bank that day! LOL. We were really nervous. He checked and checked again, it indeed said it had to be renewed no later than... December 10th!

"Carly, I read that notice about 5 times when it came, I never saw that part." He was beside himself, and so was I. Another odd thing was that he had never been asked to be cleared by HS before, which wasn't a problem on it's own, but really strange all the same. But things have change quickly in this country, so maybe it was a new thing. What to do, what to do? So, we went to bed, and he set the clock so that he could be at the DMV the next day pronto.

He was home before 9:00 AM. As it turned out, that portion of the form didn't apply to him, because one of the license covers that part of the requirements all on it's own. As for the rest of the endorsements, it was all done and in time, and the grand total for everything was $35. And when he called the bank, the check was there, so we are all set and doing just fine. LOL. What a difference a day makes! LOL. After he got home, we decided to go out and enjoy the day, and have a good laugh on the cosmic practical joke that is December 10th.

We went for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory in Union Square, and did some shopping for Christmas. We were going to go earlier in the week, but decided to wait until later in the week, so yesterday was a perfect day. Well, almost. While we were seated out our favorite little outdoor cafe, drinking our hot chocolate and cappuccino, a later sat down a couple tables away. She was dressed in a nice red wool coat and had on a ton of jewelry, but something just didn't seem quite right. After a few moments she put her head down, and began to lose her cookies... right there... barf, barf, barf. LOL. Holy Toledo. I have never seen someone that well off, that drunk, that early in the day. At first I thought she had spilled her drink, but then I realized they don't make drinks that color! Somehow the ice skaters a few feet away, no longer seemed all that charming~ LOL.

Alan and I got up, and went for a walk. LOL. Maiden Lane was a much nicer place at that moment, and who doesn't enjoy a brisk walk in the December sun? As gross as it was, there was some humor in it as well. While I am sorry for the woman, and whatever is hurting her so bad that she felt the need to get absolutely drunk that early in the day, it was, to us, one more shot from the evil elf of December 10th, and one more practical joke for the road. Alan and I don't just go shopping, we have adventures, and that was just one more. We could let it ruin the whole day, or we would just chalk it up to the curse. Right? We decided to not let it affect the rest of our day.

I thought about that lady most of the day yesterday. On a serious note, I think she was very symptomatic of how harsh this time of year is for most folks, this year more then others. Next year, I fear, might be even worse, unless Obama can help change things around. As scary as my December 10th was, I wondered if that lady might have lost a job the day before? Or maybe she lost everything she ever worked for in the recent downturns of the Stock Market? Or the scariest of all, maybe she had recently lost her home? Or maybe she just felt the disconnect that sometimes comes with the holidays. I don't know. Wherever she is, I hope she is better now. Sigh.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Beware Of The Gnome!

"Destiny is a good thing to accept when it's going your way. When it isn't don't call it destiny; call it injustice, treachery, or simple bad luck."

-Joseph Heller

I Blame It On The Gnome Of Joy...

Here is an Ellipsis Pop Quiz. What happens to Carly every December 10th? Anybody care to guess? Yep, you guessed it... something strange! I can't believe we have already arrived at the most cursed day in the universe, at least for me, December 10th. I don't know why it began, but ever year on this day something bad happens to me. One year some unscrupulous woman rented a car in my name, and had a fender bender. When the rental agency called me, I was thankfully able to clear myself, but wow... yucky. I have been burglarized twice on December 10th, two different years, and one year, Alan was nearly arrested as a stalker, when a new neighbor found it suspicious that he was on the roof, hanging upside down, looking at that unsuspecting woman (me) changing clothes? LOL. Well, actually, he was checking on the roof tiles, because we had bad wind storm the night before, and he was wanting to see if there is any damage. LOL. And yes, he was also being a bit playful. LOL.

On yet a different year, I got the flu, and it lasted until well after New Year's. In 2005, Alan ordered a garden hose from Amazon, and they ended up sending him 2 and when he tried to send it back. 2 weeks later, another 3 came! It was a mess trying to get the proper credit, and to get them to understand, we didn't need 4 garden hoses! It was 2 years before he dared order from them again! LOL. Last year on December 10th I again woke up with a cold, but the good bit of luck was that I recovered fairly quickly. I haven't been out of the house yet on this December 10th, and so far all that the day has brought was big doses of love from my 3 fellas, Alan, Hendrix and Dylan. But the day is young. LOL. Keep in mind one thing, dear readers, nothing bad will happen to you just for reading my blog today, it seems that the curse belongs solely to us. And in a weird kind of way, that makes me feel very special! LOL.

So tell me, do you believe in curses? Have you ever felt like you were under a curse? Does anyone want to venture a guess about my day today? Will something strange happen? Will it be a good strange, or a bad strange? Feel free to leave a guess. I am now off to climb back into bed, and pull the covers over me. I will report back tomorrow if the curse comes true yet again!

"Blame It On The Gnome Of Joy"
Berkeley, California
December 10th, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #15: Pizza Toppings

"Pizza is a lot like sex, when it's good it's very good, when it's bad, it's still pretty good."


Baby it's cold outside, but the good news is there is yummy, hot, delicious pizza in the world to chase the cold away. That leads us to this week's photo shoot assignment...


EMPS #15: Pizza Toppings.
Most everyone loves pizza, right? The other night I had a big slice of wicked good pizza! YUM! I don't eat pizza that isn't homemade very often, but Alan and I planned for it, and then just jumped right in. Cheesy, extra red sauce, pineapple, a few slices of ham. OMG. It was fabulous! Most of the time I prefer all veggie, because, well, I like my veggies, but if Alan is ordering for himself, it's all meat. I also love hot peppers, and sometimes pepperoncini. But that's just me. Show me what toppings you prefer on your pizza. If you don't happen to like pizza, show me what toppings grace the warm culinary bit of deliciousness you do partake of. An example would be a slice of cheese or bacon on a Slider, or onions on a hot dog. If possible, however, please try your best to keep to the original assignment of PIZZA TOPPINGS.

Extra Credit: Show me some pizza!


You have until next Sunday evening, at 9:00 PM ET to do the assignment, post it to your blog or website and comeback here with you link. No hyperlinks. It must be a link to the entry specific to this assignment. I would also appreciate it if you include a link back here to this entry, so other's will be able to find the challenge. If you need help in finding the correct link on your blog, drop me an email and I will be glad to help you. :) You can contact me at:

Linking List for EMPS #14: Autumn Sunsets. 12/1/08 - NOW CLOSED!

In order of participation...

1. Greg

2. Karen

3. Vicki (No Link Provided)

4. Liz

5. Judi

6. Steven

7. Jama

8. Terri (here and here)

9. Connie

10. Suzanne
**Welcome New Member**

11. Martha

12. Mike

Good job everyone! GO BE PHOTOGRAPHERS! Go eat some pizza, just don't forget to photograph the toppings first, and I will see you next Monday with an all new photo shoot assignment. :)

"Red Pepper Topping"
Me -N- Ed's Pizza
Dublin, California
July, 2008

Sunday, December 07, 2008


"If we see you smoking, we will assume you are on fire, and take appropriate action."

-Douglas Adams

Let's finish this weekend of rants with one last speaking of my mind, shall we? Does it get anymore inconsiderate then this? The other day I pulled up to a Starbuck's, for a venti sized elixir of life, aka, Venti/Shaken/Ice Tea/Lemonade with Passion Tea w/no sweetener, when I was cut off in mid-stride by a woman who just had to reach the door before me, but not before pausing for 5 seconds to deposit her cancer stick under the proudly displayed sign prohibiting such such behavior. This lady wasn't on foot mind you, she was parked in the car next to mine when I arrived. She stepped from her pristine oldsmobuick, lit up, and then made the decision to share her toxins with the world, knowing she was about to enter a smoke free environment. Sheesh.

It has bothered me for a long time. I don't understand how these useless things can even be legal? Lots, and lots of information available at our fingertips regarding the dangers being caused to smokers, and those around them, and yet even in 2008 folks are still lighting up. You know what breaks my heart. Folks like Dana Reeve, who passed away a couple years ago from Lung Cancer. She wasn't a smoker, but I suspect that the years and years she spent in smoky cabaret clubs entertaining people with her beautiful singing voice, probably left her lungs damaged. Her son is an orphan now, after having also lost his father, Christopher Reeve, to a tragic accident. How many good, but stupid, people contributed to her illness?

I know, I know... stupid is a pretty strong word. I don't use it often, but what would you guess is the intelligence level of someone who still continues to smoke, despite all the information available with the ease of a keystroke? I can meet someone nice, intelligent, giving, and loving, and instantly lose respect for them just because of this choice. The most attractive man on earth becomes hideous to me, just because of smoking. I watched my mother smoke my whole life. I say "my whole life," because she doesn't have a life anymore, she is dead. She would smoke, rather then eat, so she could stay "attractive." She was a fool. We all tried to tell her. She ended up with emphysema, and the lung capacity of a woman of 116, when she was just 50 years old. We won't discuss what life was like for her later in life.

I have been reading a lot lately about how to avoid some of the mistakes I made with Elvis. I want my two new little boys to be with me as long as possible. Alan and I are hoping for at least 20 years. The fact is, this is the last time I will be able to handle raising kittens. They are energetic little ones, and with my ever increasing degenerative arthritis, I know my olden days will be painful ones. It's all about planning ahead. In my travels I have also been educating myself on cancer in pets. I keep wondering if there had been something I might have done to cause the cancer Elvis had. So far I haven't found anything to suggest it was something specific I did, but I am sure that his being overweight, which led to diabetes, probably didn't help prolong his life.

I have learned that pets, cats and dogs, do indeed get lung cancer from the second hand smoke of their owners. The tragedy is that most folks who own pets, do so out of a genuine love for their fur babies. You can't put a value on how much a pet can enrich your life. I wouldn't have taken a million dollars for my Elvis, and I believe that's how most pet owners feel, and yet, there are the statistics which seem to indicate otherwise. Sigh. Maybe it was because I had just had my daily weep of loneliness for Elvis, but as I saw the inconsiderate woman deposit her cancer stick where she did, and in that moment, I had the question go through my mind about whether or not she owned and loved a cat. Sigh.

If you are a smoker, try to rethink your behavior. You must know by now the dangers of your actions. If you are a smoker, please reconsider what you are putting your loved ones, including your pets, through. You are asking them to watch you die slowly, painfully, and when you do die, what you get is rest, while your loved ones live in the pain of facing life without you. If you are a smoker, then smoke in your car, let the rest of us who really want to smell the flowers outside of Starbuck's enjoy them. If you have been smoking for any length of time, you probably can't smell flowers accurately any longer. It's too bad, a rose in December is something no one should have to miss in favor of carcinogens.

As always, I invite opinions. I ask only that you be respectful. Tell me what you think. Do you smoke? Have you ever lost a loved one to Lung Cancer? How about other cancers? Do you believe that smoking should be restricted to inside a person's home only? Opinions, opinions.

Somewhere In The East Bay
December 2008