Saturday, December 20, 2008

On The Last Full Day Of Autumn...

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."

-John Muir

Here, as promised, is a round-up of my autumn photography for this year. Sigh. I know all the seasons last the same amount of time each, but it always seems like autumn is shorter then the others somehow. I can't believe it is over. I am already missing it, and like in other years, I will start looking forward to it coming around again, one minute after it becomes winter officially. I love autumn. Here are some of my favorite moments.


The last Autumn full moon. December 2008.

Autumn 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Will The Curse Of Christmas Eve Live On?

"The quickest way to know a woman is to go shopping with her."

-Marcelene Cox

I started and finished all my holiday shopping yesterday! I was well prepared this year, and for the most part I stuck to the list and to the budget! Well, ok, maybe I went over our discussed limit a little bit, but not outrageously. It's just that I saw one or two things that I thought Alan would enjoy finding under the Christmas tree this year. He made me a list, and I got everything on it, but it seems like there should be one or two surprises as well. :) What fun would it be to open your presents, and find all the stuff you asked for, and no surprises?

So, I should be able to just sit at home on Christmas Eve, and not tempt fate, but again I ask, "what fun would that be?" In the way of curses, this year is shaping up to be right on target. December 10th did indeed provide the universal practical joke that it is so famous in our house, so you know that my personal tradition of being called a B*I*T*C*H by a total stranger on Christmas Eve will more then likely live on. At least I hope so. If it does, it will make 24 years in a row! That's right... we are on year 24! Oh how I look forward to it... LOL... and I swear, I do nothing to provoke it, it just happens! LOL. You know how it all began, right? The tradition was started by a nun with Turret's Syndrome, way back in the mid 1980's.

Keep your fingers crossed! It just wouldn't be Christmas without it. You will have to tune in, the week after Christmas to find out if the curse lives on. Anyway, back to the shopping...

This year's holiday shopping has been so odd. I did all my shopping in the real world, as opposed to the Internet. It was cheaper to get all bundled up, and go to the mall, rather then sit back and shop online. I bet it is the first Christmas in maybe 7 years, or so, that I didn't purchase the majority of my gifts online. With the unsteady economy, prices have been hugely competitive. There were some bargains which simply couldn't be passed up! And while I was hunting for bargains early on, Alan actually bought the first present of the year way back in October, when he found something for me at a cute little Farmer's Market we visited while on vacation. :)

I just had the best day shopping, and picking out things yesterday. I took the long way around the Bay Area, driving the back roads, so I could enjoy the last of the autumn color. No freeways, just the leaf filled streets, and the view of the snow on the Bay Area hills! The sun was moving in and out of the clouds, so I had a lot of different lighting opportunities to work with. Stunning. The sight of the Autumn leaves, always puts me in the best mood. I just love this time of year! Christmas is, of course, a winter holiday, but I always thought it should really be a gift of autumn! After all, winter can only claim it because it is only a few days into it's season. Somehow, that just doesn't seem fair! And since I only have a couple more days of autumn, I am doing a lot of photography around the area to make the most of it! I will have an "Autumn Photography Round-up" this Sunday, so be sure and stop by!

After all the shopping yesterday, I had a wonderful lunch, then climbed into my favorite chair and relaxed with my two cats. Dylan loves to sit on my lap and sleep, sometimes for hours, and since I can't disturb him, I have to nap along with him. LOL. Well, it would be just rude to move him, you know? I'm a good mommy, because after the nap, he and Hendrix helped my wrap presents, we played fetch with a BellBall. Dylan LOVES playing fetch. Some folks think only dogs play fetch, silly persons, cats love it too! And so do I! :) Hendrix isn't much for fetch, but he does make a nifty tower of tissue paper! LOL. I have little green and red towers all around the living room~ It's quite festive here!

I am now off to make some Pecan/Cinnamon strusel bread. We are making Hanukkah cookies on Sunday night, and I will probably make a small fruitcake on Christmas. Yes, I am one of those strange people who actually enjoys fruitcake. LOL. Oh my, I do step to a different drummer don't I? LOL. Oh well. As bad as this year has been, I will not give up! I have given up before, I won't do that again. No matter how bad things are, there is always something to believe in. Friends. Health. Kittens. Puppies. People you will always love, even if you are apart. Hot Chocolate w/Raspberry Syrup. Starbuck's. Holiday Fantasy In The Woods. Music. SNOW GLORIOUS SNOW. Photography. Naughty underthings ;) LOL. Opossums. Sappy holiday movies. Hanukkah, Christmas, New Presidents. And my personal favorite, a total stranger calling you a B*I*T*C*H on Christmas Eve. :) Let the tradition live on...

"She Shopped Till She Dropped"
Berkeley, California
December 18th, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Excuse Me While I Kiss The Sky!

"I'm gonna put a curse on you, and all your children will be born naked."

-Jimi Hendrix

According to Kiss This Guy, the single most common Mondegreen that they receive is "'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy" as opposed to the correct lyric of, "'Scuse Me While I Kiss The Sky," from the song, "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix. When we saw Hendrix, aka "The Purple Haze" cozying up to that beautiful tiger, that was featured Wednesday night on ABC's World New Tonight, Alan immediately suggested it for the caption of the above picture. I simply couldn't help myself, it was such a great thought, my Hendrix cuddling up to a beautiful tiger, making a lifelong friend. (SMILE). 'Scuse me while I kiss the sky!

So tell me, do you have any favorite Mondegreens? I got the ball rolling, share with me if you have one. Holiday Mondegreens, Rock Mondegreens, Country Mondegreens, it's all good. :) Leave it in the comment thread or do your own Mondegreen entry, just be sure to come back here and leave me the link!

"Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy"
Berkeley, California
December 17th, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fresh Snow Falling...

"The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?"

-J.B. Priestley

Yesterday, Tuesday, the magical occurred in the form of soft, silent, gentle snow falling in the Berkeley hills. It happens from time to time, but not nearly often enough for this girl. :) When does happen, I feel myself come alive inside, despite the pain the cold brings to me. I am only in my mid 40's, so I am not about to let degenerative arthritis stop me from playing in the snow, especially when I know that it could be forever before it comes back again. Know what I mean? So, as soon as I could I got up, put on several layers of clothes, my boots, my gloves, my hat, my scarf, and got my camera and extra batteries, and headed into Tilden Park, aka, "my winter playground." I had to get up early, and then feel my way through the fog along the winding road, high above the city of Berkeley below, but even a case of the jitters wasn't about to stop me!

South Park drive at Grizzly Peak boulevard is closed from November 1st through March 1st every year. It is a steep road down into the park and rainy weather can make it a bit dangerous. I was able to park at the gate and take a shot downwards toward the first curve. The visibility wasn't very good, so I decided not to try walking it.

Tilden is beginning to be my favorite place on earth, no matter what season. In spring there is a snowstorm of beautiful blossoms to play in, in summer you can find all kinds of colorful dragonflies and damselflies frolicking about the top of the water on Lake Anza, in autumn there are some Japanese maple trees along with oak, Juniper, Eucalyptus, pine and cedar to make the air smell beautiful. It's an amazingly beautiful place to be in autumn, but yesterday was really something special! It's still autumn, so there were still a few leaves on the trees, but mixed with the color was the crystal clear white of the newly fallen snow. :)

I am crossing my fingers that we have more snow days, but I know it is a bit of a long shot. The Bay Area just doesn't get snow the way other places do. It's all a trade-off, we get some magnificent weather all year round, it's never really too cold or too hot, with the rare exception every 5 years or so, otherwise the climate here is wonderful all year long. Yesterday was, in my opinion, perfect. The only downside was that Elvis wasn't here to see it. I always wanted to show him snow. He enjoyed the cold weather so much. He loved to run around the backyard on cold rainy days, and just let the rain pour down on him. Strange cat. It was so funny to watch him run right out into it, and then right into the mud he would go. Big grin on his face.

Afterward I would bring him in and give him a bath. He would purr and smile. He was a cat that liked cold weather. In the summer when it would rain, sometimes he would sit under the dining table outside and just watch the drops of rain fall. I used to wonder what he had on his mind during those times? Was he daydreaming about a big chicken dinner? Was he thinking about a conversation he had the night before with one of his opossum friends? What could a cat like him be thinking about as the rain fell? He would have loved snow... I just know it. I think he would have been great to go tobogganing with, he loved to slide around, and he loved movement. I missed him yesterday. I miss him everyday.

Someday I will take either Dylan or Hendrix or maybe both along on one of my Bay Area snow jaunts. It would be my guess that Hendrix will be the one that will love snow. He is my little adventurer. He takes life at the speed of sound. Dylan will be waiting at home, to come and sit on my knee, while I sit typing at the computer about the adventure Hendrix and I had just had. That's what Dylan did yesterday, he sat purring on my knee for about 2 hours, which is better then any heating pad. I am missing Elvis so much, but these boys of mine take all that pain away, and turn it into warmth. :) There was more snow in the park this morning, so I say, Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

"Snow On Grizzly Peak"
Grizzly Peak Boulevard
Berkeley, California
December 16th, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

By Special Request Of Dr. B :)

"A world without cats... I dare not think of it."


They Grow So Fast At This Age...

It came to my attention yesterday, that I have been a bit neglectful when it comes to showing off my two new sons. I scoffed at first, "but Dr. B," I protested, "I can't write about cats every day, I will end up chasing off all my readers!" To which he replied, "Well, don't you think your readers are also cat enthusiasts?" Well, ok, he had a point. But I know that some of you are definitely dog people. At least one of my readers is highly allergic to cats! LOL. And yes Dr. B., I do know that no one will break out into an unstoppable succession of sneezes just by viewing an adorable fluffy kitty-cat update on my blog. LOL. So, with silly worries aside, I present to you a full fledged kitten update. :)

Above you see Hendrix. Jeepers. He isn't really a kitten anymore. He is growing so fast, and look, he has completely lost his fuzz. My tiny little ball of energy, is now a sleek, deep purring, goofy ball of energy! He is still my comedian. He chases his brother, he chases my feet. He is all fascinated with my big toes. "No Hendrix, don't bite Mommy's toes." He loves food, his brother and Alan. He has really become Alan's cat, but he allows me to pet him as well. He is a caregiver. He took his brother in and he takes good care of him. He grooms him, and cuddles him, and at times, drives Dylan completely crazy! LOL. Hendrix has learned 3 words, NO, FOOD, and BAD! LOL. He knows about love as well, but that is best accomplished not with words, but with snuggles and scratches behind the ears. :)

It has been pretty smooth sailing with the boys. We put up a Christmas tree, and put all stuffed animals in the tree this year. Christmas bears mostly. It looks really nice. Both boys have already learned that the tree is off limits. It only took a week or so to teach them. I am impressed with their ability to learn. :) The Christmas tree is working out fine, but there is one bear in the tree that Hendrix has taken a special fancy to. I will let him have it after Christmas, but for now we are learning our boundaries.

Dylan's official nickname is "The Yam." Hendrix is the "Purple Haze." ;)

Both boys are in good health, although Dylan had a case of the tape worms a couple weeks ago. It happens. Doggone fleas. Bad fleas. Bad. Thank goodness it was a quick fix. One trip to Dr. B. and one tiny shot, and poof... worms be all gone! That makes me extremely happy. I don't like worms. I know, I know they aren't dangerous. No one has ever heard of a rabid worm, but OMG....YUCK! I swear just thinking about it made my skin crawl, but really, it all goes with owning a pet. Silly little problems like that. The good parts well out weight the bad parts.

So, that's about it. They are both growing like crazy. Gosh my kitties are becoming cats, go figure! I will miss the kitten fuzz, but I am so happy they are healthy. They will always be my babies. By the way, Dr. B, if you are reading this, I am working on a round up of photos for you to view here in a few days. It is a compilation of all the animal photos I have done in the last couple years. Squirrels, opossums, birds, dogs, and of course, cats. And I promise, more cat updates, so stay tuned.

NOTE: It's a tradition in our house to post a Christmas Eve greeting from the littlest members of our household, so be sure to check back late on Christmas Eve.

The Boys
Berkeley, California
December 15th and 16th 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #16: Autumn Meets Winter

"In seed time teach, in harvest learn, in winter enjoy."


Note: There is an alternative photo shoot assignment this week, so please read the full entry! :)

EMPS #16: Autumn Meets Winter.
In just a week or so, we in the Northern Hemisphere will welcome Winter. We here in the Bay Area have already had a lovely bit of snow here and there with more on the way. Lets say hello to winter, shall we? I want pictures of AUTUMN MEETING WINTER if at all possible. A pumpkin in the snow, leaves with snow at the base, a snowman with some harvest vegetables completing his outfit. Anything that depicts the merging seasons. Now I know that some of you don't live in areas that experience particular season changes, which is ok, because for you folks I have an alternative photo assignment.

Alternative EMPS #16A: BELLS
or BOWS.
Silver BELLS. Big red BOWS. BELLS on a store's front door, BOWS on a holiday dress, BELLS on a sleigh, BOWS that light-up, BELLS that toll high in a bell tower, BOWS that hang on doors as a holiday decoration, BELLS that a Salvation Army person might ring, BOWS that a puppy dog might wear to be festive, BELL shaped holiday cookies. BELLS or BOWS, BOWS or BELLS... which will you find with your camera? Show me BELLS or BOWS. :)

Extra Credit: Do both assignments! :)

**Please Read**
You have until next Sunday night at 9:00 PM ET, to get your photo, post it to your blog or website, and come back here with the direct link. Please be sure to double check your link. It must be a direct link to the entry specific to this photo shoot assignment. No hyperlinks! Also, please include a link back here, so other folks can find the assignment and play along. :)

Linking List for EMPS #15: Pizza Toppings.

Now Closed!

Jama shows us so yummy fresh baked pizza, with pineapple, mincemeat, and mushrooms. YUM! :)

Vicki shows us just the toppings, several of which, I keep stocked in my own refrigerator for pizza night! :)

Karen picked up a pizza at Safeway to enjoy, and added some extra mushrooms. I love extra mushrooms on pizza! :) Yes, thank you, more please! :)

Tammy isn't a big fan of pizza, but being the ever creative gal that she is, she assembled a slice of pizza made entirely of chili flakes. :) Wonderfully creative take darlin! :)

Suzanne likes her pizza with black olives and pepperoni. Again, yes please! :)

Liz shows us "what lies on top" in a pretty and festive manner. Lovely! :)

Terri, went undercover, to show us some pizza in the window of a specialty pizza shop in her neighborhood. I will take a slice of that one, and that one, and...

Connie shares with us a recipe for Far Side Pizza. I love it when we get to share recipes as part of the assignment. Note to self... MUST POST MORE FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY ASSIGNMENTS! LOL.

Mike comes by to share one of his very favorite frozen pizzas. :) There is nothing like making a frozen pizza on a cold wintry day. :)

Well, you guys really did a lot of wonderful things with last week's assignment. We had a nice variety of pizza photography to enjoy viewing. I have been hungry since last Monday, so, I am off to make some frozen Bagel Bites pizza in the microwave! :) See you next Monday, with a new photo shoot assignment. Hint: It's something holiday-ish! LOL.



Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ra Ra Ra

"I've got to be careful I don't over cheerlead on this economy."

-George W. Bush

I am not sure when President Bush said what he did, but one thing is for sure, "over cheerlead" is exactly what he did. At every turn he insisted the economy was sound. Did anyone really believe him? Last spring a reporter asked him about the possibility of gas prices hitting the $4 mark, and he responded with what appeared to be genuine surprise. "I hadn't heard that" he replied. (Insert dumb grin here). Not only did it actually hit $5 a gallon, at one time San Francisco lead the entire nation in high gas prices, by reaching a little over $5! Ok, it wasn't for long, but it was long enough that it put a lot of folks in a bad way financially. No one I knew was even willing to discuss plans for Christmas, the brakes had been firmly applied even though the holiday was 6 months away. Now, here we are, just a couple weeks away from both Hanukkah and Christmas, and there is plenty of parking places at the malls, even on special promotion days.

I got an email from Old Navy Friday, they had a fantastic promotion Saturday. Buy $20 worth of items, get 4 free movie tickets. WOW! That is a pretty good bargain! I had planned to pick up a couple more sweaters for Alan, and some scarves for some friends of ours, so I decided to get up really early, grab some breakfast, and get there extra early. A deal like that would surely bring out the crowds... right? So, with my clock set, and all my warm toasties laid out, I climbed into bed, and thought about how much fun it would be to surprise Alan with some movie tickets. Wasn't I the clever puss?

My alarm went off at 6:00 AM, I grabbed some caffeine and off I went. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of rain that had been promised for the day. It wasn't too cold, and there was a nice bit of sunshine. Clear. I could see San Francisco just fine from here in the hills. It was a pretty day. That meant that there would be a ton of folks already gathered in front of the store. Nice weather, usually means lots of people. Some stores got 50 sets of tickets, some stores got 200 sets of tickets. I wondered what my favorite Old Navy store got? Would there be any left? I had left the house at well after 7 AM, and the store opens at 8 AM. Would I end up being #51 in line?

When I pulled into the parking lot, there were three other cars with consumers apparently waiting for Old Navy to open. I couldn't believe it. It was 7:30 AM. The store opens at 8:AM. I sat in my car for about 15 minutes, until a lady who walked to the store went up to the door, and stopped. I decided to get out of my car and get into the line that had now formed. I was #2 in line. In the next 10 minutes, about 13 people came up behind me. At about 7:55 AM a young man emerged from the store with these special little bracelets to hand out to the first 50 people. He only handed out about 20 bracelets. That's it. The young man had a look on his face somewhere between sad and surprised. :( His boss looked at the line, and was clearly disappointed.

I spent about 25 minutes in the store. I had a list, it was just a matter of deciding on the color of the items I was purchasing. I went up to the counter to pay for my stuff, and as I did, the young man told the manager there were about 20 sets of tickets left. They were both wearing frowny faces. I am sure that as the day wore on, they were able to give away the tickets, or who knows, maybe not. It was such a good promotion! Where was everyone?! Sigh. I had never seen anything like it. It was the strangest thing.

On the other hand, it wasn't completely unexpected. People see writing on the wall. The senate shot down the bailout of the automakers last week, which came as devastating news to some 6 million people who depend on that industry in one way or another. On the other hand, by not allowing the bailout to go through, it will mean one less forced fed tax consequence. I still don't know what to make of the whole situation. I feel for those people who depend on the auto industry, but a bailout at what cost? I can't believe the bailout of the banks came about with absolutely no accountability, and that more than half of it is already gone. But then again, Bush hasn't had to answer for any of his lies, missteps or blunders, so why should accountability, of anyone, be expected now?

My heart goes out to American retailers as well as the automakers. :( Can Obama be our president now? Please. If I promise to behave. :)

So tell me, have you passed up any good bargains, in an effort to save money this holiday season? Would you get up early, and stand in line for a good bargain? What would be your idea of a good bargain? Are you making any holiday gifts this year? Tell me everything.

"Shopping In The City"
Dublin, California
December 13th, 2008
Late Morning