Saturday, February 23, 2013

Round Robin Challenge: Give It Up

"There is no failure except in no longer trying."

~Elbert Hubbard

RRC: Give It Up

The Art Of Giving It Up...

Funny how things work. Most motivational advisers, gurus, and speakers will insist that you should keep soldiering on, except things for what they are, and never, ever, GIVE UP! But I can tell you, there most certainly is a time and season to do just that... GIVE UP! In my case the message to give up came by way of an email from my doctor telling me that despite my relative good health, low cholesterol numbers, and average weight, I was now, at the age of 45 a diabetic! Stupid genes or something... not sure... but facts being facts, my body simply doesn't process food the way it used to, so it was time to grow up, and make a few changes. One of the easiest adjustments to my life came in the form of snack foods. When. Where. If. It was all something that I needed to put some thought into.

I have a sweet tooth. Alan has a salty tooth. Well, movies and snacking pretty much go hand in hand... right? And when you belong to rewards clubs, such as My Coke Rewards program, some of the rewards involved offer movie theater packages, which include, drinks and popcorn. So, instead of ordering a Coke Classic, Alan and I share a large Coke Zero. And instead of ordering 2 large popcorn, we share one small popcorn, and set goals for actually leaving the theater with some left over! We simply have a nice, healthy lunch before we go to the movies, and we have the best of both worlds... in moderation! It works pretty well for us, but lately we have been passing on the snacks altogether! Yes, popcorn smells wonderful, and yes I believe it's addictive, but we have been counting our calories, sodium, sugars, and fat, and acting accordingly.

I have to admit, we haven't given up completely, but we are working on it. Change doesn't just happen over night, not even during lint! But the effort is making us smarter people, because more thought is going into our health! It doesn't hurt that now theaters have to display the nutritional values of their concession offerings. It's never been easier to do the unthinkable and GIVE UP!

Regal Cinemas Nutritional Values

Large Buttered Popcorn: 1640
Small No Butter Popcorn: 400

AMC Theaters Nutritional Values

Large Buttered Popcorn: 1640
Small No Butter Popcorn: 370

For me, I love GIVING UP, it has made me a smarter person! Who knew GIVING UP could be so motivational? Go figure!

Now that you have seen what I am giving up on, be sure to visit the other participating Robins! There are some awesome photographers that join us! Simply click the link at the top of this post to be redirected to the official Round Robin blog. You will find the participation list there and all the information you need to join in the fun! :)

Mood: Happy

~Me :)

Friday, February 22, 2013

On Such A Winter's Day

"She was sitting in a garden more beautiful than ever her rampaging imagination could ever have conjured up, and she was being serenaded by trees."

~Lynn Kurland, Spellweaver

I am hopeless about trees. Sometimes I can't help but wonder if I was a maybe a Druid in some past lifetime. I can't help it... I am hopeless about trees! I am at my worst in autumn, as you might have already figured out, because every time I pass a tree in during that season, that has all of it's amazing color, or colors, on full display, I invariably have to tap Alan on the arm and say... "Look at that tree, isn't it amazing?" To which is kindly replies, "Yes it is!" As if he has never heard me ask him that before, when he and I both know that I repeat that question almost daily throughout the season! Alan is a patient man, and he loves me, because if he didn't surly he would have begun to make fun of me by know! Hell, I make fun of myself about it, but he never does. Oh the things you find yourself putting up with when you are in love! LOL.

While the trees I saw and photographed the other day on MT Hamilton road had only a passing glance of autumn still in them, I found myself nearly as thrilled by the glistening drops of melted snowflakes that made the trees look like they were crying softly to themselves. The smell of the pine, and the visual treat of what seemed to be tiny rainbows, made me almost forget that autumn is my favorite season, rather than winter. I could have stayed on the top of the mountain for 3 or 4 more hours, but our time there was limited. It was okay, as we drove down the mountain we took turns seeing who could make the other laugh the hardest! I won when I named the block of snow we put on the hood of the car, Nutty Hardpack! Don't ask! LOL. I made up a whole life story for Nutty, and at one point Alan was laughing so hard he could barely drive. LOL.

Can you believe it? After 22 years of marriage I can still make my hubby laugh that hard?

What is it about snow, that makes one feel like a kid again?

:) Here is the last of my Mount Hamilton Road Series. Enjoy...


"Trees are as close to imortality as the rest of us ever come."

~Karen Joy Fowler, Sarah Canary

Mood: Happy


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snow Day

"I love snow for the same reason I love Christmas: It brings people together while time stands still. Cozy couples lazily meandered the streets and children trudged sleds and chased snowballs. No one seemed to be in a rush to experience anything other than the glory of the day, with each other and however it happened."

~Rachel Cohn, Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

Yesterday was a snow day. Well, actually, that's not all together accurate. The snow actually fell on Tuesday, as a fast moving cold front, down from Alaska, moved over the Bay Area. As soon as the snow began to fall, all the roads leading to it were closed! Isn't that always the way? The Bay Area isn't known for it's snowfall, and because of that, when we do get the maybe once yearly dusting, the powers that be tend to keep it walled off from us because folks tend to not know how to behave in it. Driving way too fast. Parking in dangerous places. Parking on private properties. You name it, we in the Bay Area do it. Not always on purpose, but that's not really the point. Anyway, the snow came and went so fast that we were lucky to be able to drive, not to where we usually go to see snow, South Lake Tahoe, but rather to the top of Mount Hamilton, in Santa Clara county.

It's a lovely long drive up the mountain, and it was a nice warm afternoon, so Alan and I decided to stop for a picnic at Grant Ranch Park, which sits about half way up the mountain. From there you get the first look at the domed buildings at Lick Observatory, which sits at the summit of Mt. Hamilton, at 4,200 ft. The summit still had a good bit of snow, and the road wasn't passable until the afternoon, so we got to the park just in time to have a nice relaxing lunch, and then drive up to the top! I thought it would be colder than it was, so it was a nice surprise to have the lovely view of snow, but to actually be comfortable. Grant Ranch Park was so lovely, I almost hated to leave it behind for the snow, but it didn't take long for me to change my mind. The drive to the summit was stunning!

Grant Ranch Park, Mt. Hamilton Rd





The Drive Up Mount Hamilton


The view on the eastern slope, looking toward Patterson, and Livermore...

And when it was time to go home, we decided to take a little bit of the snow with us! The medium size pack of snow lasted on the hood of the car all the way back down the hill, and was still there as we merged onto HWY 680!

Alan and I had such a good time together, I wish it would snow more often! I love snow days!

Lick Observatory

Mood: Happy :)

~Me :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Blossoms Before Snow

"Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow."

~Alice M. Swaim

On Sunday I didn't see any color on the trees. It was a typical winter Sunday! But by Tuesday morning, there seemed to be the beginnings of spring everywhere! Well, not everywhere, but on enough trees that I actually felt myself smile as I passed one lovely tree after another. Purple, pink, and the most beautiful hot pink Quince blossoms are just beginning to light up the last cold days of winter. Today I bring you pink blossoms, but it snowed here in the Bay Area, so I am off in search of soft, white, opalescent snow! Wish me luck! Mount Hamilton... here I come!

Stay Tuned!

Mood: Hopeful

~Me :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Duvets Sets... Are They The New Beanie Babies?

"Instead of a Lemonade Stand, I should open up a "You know what I can't stand?" stand. I'll sell rants in small, medium, and large."

~Jarod Kintz, This Book Title Is Invisible

Does my hubby rock or what? He worked a 9 hour shift from 10:00 PM Sunday night 7:00 AM Monday morning, and still took me to IKEA anyway! You see, IKEA had a very special sale on a certain duvet set that I have been eyeing for the better part of a year! It's called Ransby. I have the same duvet set in green, and it looks lovely in the bedroom, especially against the cornflower colored walls, but I really lusted after the purple set. I have some deep purple and lavender splashes throughout the room. So, $9.99 for the purple set, priced down from $39.99 was something I couldn't pass up, and Alan kinda liked the idea as well!

Have you ever shopped at an IKEA on a holiday? LOL. Have you ever shopped at an IKEA on a holiday that falls on a Monday? LOL. It's an experience! The very first time I ever shopped at an IKEA was, coincidentally, on President's Day, 2011. Alan and I were in the process of packing, and moving to a new cottage that fell into our laps, which was a little way down HWY 580 in Hayward, Ca. We were needing some new curtains, and some rugs, and it was time to get a new bed, so off to IKEA we went! We fell in love with the place at first purchase! The new cottage opportunity fell through, amid some really bizarre circumstances, but our love of IKEA goes on! LOL. Anyway if you ever vist us, you will notice right away that we are pretty much an IKEA showroom, from one end of the cottage to the other!

Okay, so, the good part about shopping at IKEA is the awesome sales, the good and the bad part is that the place is usually packed with... wait for it... consumers. But, as you know, the best part about being packed into a big box retailer on a holiday, is watching the consumers around you share the experience of a good sale! Being a people watching person, I am always happy to see what I can see. And what did I see? Let me tell you... plenty.

As I walked into the downstairs showroom, I found that IKEA had recently decided to move their showroom sections around! Yikes! Where were the Textiles? Somebody moved the TEXTILES! OMG! Okay, no time to whine about it, it was time to face the scavenger hunt for what it was... FUN! Alan had an item he was wanting to pick up, so we divided and conquered! "Alan... you go find the kitchenware's and grab your steak knives, and I am going to find the duvet sets, and I will meet you by the checkout! Okay... I was a girl on a mission!

As I navigated through the sections, I saw multiple women pass me with multiple purple Ransby duvet sets! OMG... WILL THERE BE ANY LEFT? Well, I wasn't ready to just give up! I found a lady carrying 3 duvet sets, and asked her where they could be found. "They are near the checkout lines, hurry... there is a long line. I am a 50 year old woman, with 90 year old knees, but I am pretty sure I took flight at one point! Finally arriving at the back of the line, I made eye contact with a formidable woman who wanted the place in line I was about to claim. I wasn't having any of it! "I got here first, you have to get behind me in line! "I KNOW I WAS HERE FIRST!" said she. To which I replied with a quiet, deep, long stare. Guess who won? Yep... I didn't budge. I might be 3 ft 17 but I am no pushover!

The line moved pretty fast, it was a comfortable endeavor. Less than 10 minutes total, but in that 10 minutes I saw plenty of interesting sights. One woman had her 4 children with her, and she and the 4 children each had two sets, which was the limit per consumer. It was in the rules, and children are consumers, so no harm done, but the scene reminded me of the old Beanie Babies days when I would see ladies, with bugged out eyes, purchasing multiples of the cloth toy, and getting so addicted to the whole proposition that they resembled cocaine addicts, rather than collectors of that certain novelty toy, and it wasn't unusual to see those ladies buck the system by bringing not just their own children, but whatever children they could bribe in order to get more than their share on the babies!

Don't get me wrong, I purchased some Beanie Babies back then, and one of my best gal pals worked for a toy store, and when she found out I was looking for one of the deer babies, even saved one for me because I found it so cute. I still have that little guy, sitting on my cedar chest. I gave a couple of the bears to my mother after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She was prone to violence on and off, and when she threw the toy at me, it didn't hurt. It was a busy, sad time in my life, but those little toys made her happy, and in turn, they made my life easier. I have a special place in my heart for Beanie Babies, but I don't think about that time in my life much. Just today I did I couldn't help but think about it a little bit today.

I kinda doubt those purchasing the duvet sets today because it hurts less when thrown at you, but what in the world did the lady buying 10 sets plan to do with them? Was she going to sell them out of the back of her car, just as some Beanie Baby profiteers did? Did she have 10 different relatives that never had contact with each other, that she was going to gift the sets to? Who knows? Personally, when I finally reached the front of the line, and they still had one set left in Queen/Full size, I didn't give it all another thought. And while an IKEA duvet set will probably never reach the cult status that Beanie Babies did, today proved that a bargain is a bargain, and when possible some are still willing to push the limits and rules, and there will still be folks like me, happy to observe the trends, shopping habits, and values of her fellow consumers.

Life... you gotta love it!


I found a great article about the Beanie Baby phenominom. Go take a look!

Wall Street Journal: How I Got Burned By Beanie Babies
By Karen Blumenthal

"I'm not a consumer, because consumers are consumed with shopping. No, I prefer shoplifiting."

~Jerod Kintz

Mood: Happy But Tired

~Me :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Folly Of Giving Up


Razors pain you
Rivers are damp
Acids stain you
And drugs cause cramp
Guns aren't lawful
Nooses give
Gas smells awful
You might as well live.

~Dorothy Parker

I was very sad to hear about the suicide of country singer Mindy McCready. I wasn't really a fan, I only know a couple of her songs, but I appreciated what I heard. To be honest, I knew more about her personal life, and demons, than I did about her talent. But just because I didn't know much about her talent, doesn't mean it didn't hurt when I heard she had died. We are so lucky to have talent as a part of what makes us... well... us. Those in the arts that share their gifts with the world, make every single day better on earth. No matter what's happening, the arts can help one begin to heal. I knew this for sure on the afternoon of September 11, 2001, when the Ethereal Musician, you know the sax player in my neighborhood, began to play America on his horn. The wasn't a sound outside. No birds seemed to be in the trees. No planes taking off from Oakland airport in the sky, no sounds of children playing. Everyone was inside, glued to the TV, all except for the musician... healing himself, and his neighbors, through music.

In the spring of 2001 I was in a bad place psychologically speaking. I was very near giving up. I wanted for it to just happen. A meteor hit me. An accidental case of extreme food poisoning. Get hit by a bus. Something. Anything that could just let me leave my life behind. Anything to make the pain stop. Honestly, I am not sure exactly why I am alive now, because at the time, I didn't do myself any favors. Depression and Anhedonia had a complete hold on me, and I was in so much pain, I couldn't feel anymore. I don't even really remember that time with Elvis. I was THAT disconnected. I was that way for about 2 years or so, then one day Alan got my cameras out, and said go find something new and I tried. Failed. Tried again. Started a blog, this blog, and baby steps later, here I am. It took one day at a time, and like a person standing on the ledge of a building, it took... not... looking... down.

I finally healed. Through Alan and Elvis's love and patience. Through my online friendships. I healed because of Alan putting the camera in my hand. When I was ill I had NO IDEA that one day I would be standing on the corner of Lexington and 20th in San Francisco, watching Woody Allen making cinema magic. I didn't know until years later that he had also had a bout with Anhedonia, and that Anhedonia was the working title of Annie Hall. But he worked through it, and didn't give up. And I think about him sometimes when I have moments where I revisit the option of giving up. He didn't give up, and because of that, I have had many, many happy hours watching his brilliant movies. I don't just admire him for his talent... I admire him for his ability to not give up.

Suicide. It should be a four letter word. I heard once that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. That couldn't be more true or accurate. Suicide gives those rooting for your downfall a lot of power. It robs you of all the moments of excitement and joy you can't even imagine happening. It hurts those who truly love you for the rest of their lives. The folly of suicide is the fact that you can't hold those who will mourn you, and help them heal. The act itself is personal selfishness on a catastrophic level, that never allows for I am sorry. Mindy McCready couldn't see beyond the pain. I know what that's like. But thank God, I made it out alive, because if you would have told me back in 2001 that I would be standing on a corner, in San Francisco, on a mild August day, watching Woody Allen filming a movie, and making inadvertent eye contact no less, I would have said... "You're nuttier than me!"

And wouldn't the joke have been on me?

I would have missed that sunset over Angel Island. Isn't it just about perfect?

I really do wish Mindy hadn't given up.


Four be the things I am wiser to know...
Idleness, sorrow, a friend and foe.
Four be the things I'd been better without...
Love, curiosity, freckles and doubt.
Three things I shall never attain...
Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.
Three be the things I shall have till I die...
Laughter and hope and sock in the eye.

~Dorothy Parker

Mood: Quiet But Thankful

~Me :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Al Capone, Is That You?

"I've been accused of every death except the casualty list of the World War."

~Alphonse "Al" Capone

I believe in ghosts. I believe in orbs. I don't know if I believe in ghost orbs. Since I am a big fan of all things paranormal, I have seen plenty of documentaries that have dealt with the orb phenomena. For the most part I am skeptical. I just don't know if every small round shape that flies in and out of a camera frame is necessarily a ghost. Of course I haven't closed my mind to it either. I still watch documentaries, and yes reality shows, that deal with the subject, but I am just saying I would like stronger evidence. In the meantime, for me, the theory of ghost orbs is inconclusive. That being said, I find the orb in the above photo... interesting.

On Friday evening, Alan and I packed a couple sandwiches and some sodas, and headed to our favorite spot on Grizzly Peak boulevard to do some photography, take in the awesome view, and enjoy the sunset. When the sunset was at it's most beautiful, I decided to focus in on the Golden Gate Bridge, the Berkeley Pier and Alcatraz. The sun was setting, and it lit everything up in a gorgeous bright red cast. When I took the photo I didn't see an orb, I spend a fair amount of time focusing a preparing the shot, so I suppose an orb could have gotten by me, but I don't think it did. When I first saw the orb during editing I was a bit frustrated and disappointed, but when I realized that it was different than most orbs, in that it is solid, I kinda became amused by it. The orb is hanging over the south/east side of Alcatraz.

Hmmm... interesting.

Could it be the spirit of a former inmate of the the island penitentiary? Well, sure, and there is a long list, but who was arguably the most famous inmate on "The Rock?" Why, Al Capon! Could it be he was hanging around, enjoying the sunset with the rest of us sunset watchers? Was he watching the sunset, or was he out, scanning the sky, in search of the asteroid that buzzed by earth last week? Maybe he knew the Bay Area was due for our own meteor show last Friday night! Yep, the Bay Area had it's own close encounter with a heavenly flyover. You see, a meteor, much smaller than the one that slammed into Russia, lit up the night sky over the peninsula and Ocean Beach in San Francisco! Alan and I missed the light show by about 30 minutes, but maybe Mr Capone didn't! LOL.

So Tell Me... Ghost Orbs...

Supernatural? or Super-Stupid?

You be the judge!

Either way, this particular or is kind of pretty! In a tough guy way! ;)

San Francisco Meteor Video. Friday, February 15, 2013

Mood: Encouraged

~Me :)