Saturday, March 09, 2013

Life's Challenges And Red Gates


"Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional."

~Roger Crawford

 In two weeks I will be hosting the Round Robin Challenges once again! I haven't been a host of the photo challenge in a long time, the last time was actually for the subject of "Express A Feeling" on August 15th, 2010, which seems like forever ago, but was really less than 3 years ago. It seems longer somehow. Time is a strange thing sometimes, because it doesn't seem like my friend, and fellow Round Robin host, Steven, has been gone from the challenges, and our lives, for very long at all. Sometimes I feel like he will be back from vacation at any time to resume hosting again. In one of the last conversations we had, he told me that he would be back in no time at all, because he enjoyed sharing his photography too much to stay away for too long.

Time went by, emails and phone calls went unanswered, and I assumed that he had made the decision to jump off the net due to... well... whatever drives people to disengage from cyber relationships and pursuits. Some get jobs designing websites, and get sick to death of being on the Internet day and night. Some get busy with the day to day drama of being human, and boy can I understand that! Sometimes life is like a sitcom, which is fun, but when it's more like a drama... it can be downright exhausting! The last time I spoke to Steven he was still grieving the loss of his beloved cat, and I could more than understand how that can affect one emotionally, as it had been less than a year earlier that my cat Elvis had passed away. It was an event that I still have not fully recovered from even now. I find myself thinking about Elvis daily, despite my attempts at not doing so.

Karen, who is also a co-host, and original founding member of the challenges, lost her dog Tuffy during the same time frame. There was a lot of loss all interconnected. It was a lot, and it helped me to know that my two friends understood when I needed a bit of time to catch my breath. We all understood for each other... we all had our moments... we all needed the occasional step back from the challenges life was dealing. So sitting here right now, a part of the Round Robin Challenges again, for the specific reason of giving Karen time off to deal with not just the loss of another pet, her dog Pepper, but indeed a full plate of challenges ranging from personal, to employment to commitments made to her church.

Life. It has it's challenges.

"Don't give up! It's not over. The universe is balanced. Every set-back bears with it the seeds of a come-back."
~Steve Maraboli

I wasn't sure why I chose the subject of the current RRC: Gateways, to start things off. I went into my archives, and came up with a list of photos that had been previously posted, but not in the context of a photo challenge. The red gate photo is one of my favorites from 2012. It was taken on August 17th, in San Francisco, and graces the downstairs of the apartment on 20th street that Woody Allen used for his upcoming film, Blue Jasmine. My eyes were drawn to the gate immediately upon arriving at the film sight. It is a brilliant splash of color in an otherwise unremarkable street corner. Unremarkable until you look closer at the street and it's quirky splashes of color and life. A closer look at the street will reveal a lot of stories, from the dog walker I saw two days in a row, at the exact same time, with the exact same number of dogs, who stared down at a book he was reading as he walked along 20th street, never looking up to notice the movie being filmed, to the beautiful, medium sized admiral butterfly that alighted on a white gate, nearly directly across the street from the red gate that I found so fascinating!


Now I think I understand. Gateways lead us to the other side of barriers don't they? They let us walk away from pain on one side, into healing on the other. Life is full of gateways or bridges, although I think when a bridge is involved there is a lot more work involved. You know, the gate is a much quicker transition, but the bridge has tolls, and it's generally a longer journey beginning to end. Walking through a gate comes after the trip over the bridge. Of course I am probably over-thinking things again. Sometimes a gate is just a gate... right? But when I consider the whole picture, I can see some parallels. Sure. Anyway, life presents us with challenges, and it's up to us how we face them.

I like to face them with my camera, when at all possible.

That's why I take it everywhere I go.



The doctor's office. The DMV. Film sets. Grocery Stores. IKEA. Parks. Lunch. Bridges.

Anyway, in a couple weeks, on Saturday, March 23rd, I will be once again hosting the Round Robin Challenges, and if you would like to join us, you are most welcome! It's an easy enough challenge, and I would be very pleased to see how you might tackle it! So please consider playing along! If things go well, I might even consider reopening the Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot. I miss it very much sometimes. I think I have finally closed the gate on the things that made me so tired.

Round Robin Challenge: Gates
Saturday, March 23rd 2013

Mood: Happy

~Me :)

Friday, March 08, 2013

Movies Photography And Basket Weaving


"My films are therapy for my debilitating depression. In institutions people weave baskets. I make films."

~Woody Allen

Mr. Allen has his films. I have my photography. Whatever one has or does to chase away the debilitating sadness is terribly personal to the one experiencing it. I know that a fellow human can't be thing... no. It has to come from deep within, way down deep. It is through the expressions of creativity come the emotion that makes us... us. Fear, sadness, despair, loneliness, there is no difference between those emotions and happiness, joy, contentment, popularity. Having too much of any one of those things can lead one to some dark ledges, in the middle of the night, during a storm... with lightning.

But I digress.

As I stood on the corner of Lexington and 20th, on that late summer day last year, I was filled up with all the motion back and forth, all the sights and sounds, all the life going on during the filming of Woody Allen's latest film, Blue Jasmine. In between the calls of QUIET... ACTION..., there was plenty to see both on the set and off. The public was allowed to come and go at will, and the neighborhood provided plenty of visual art. The young man in the photo above has a story, which is his to tell, but what caught this photographer's eye was the fact that he was dressed in garb that could have into fit almost any of Woody Allen's films! He probably dresses that way every day, and yet on this day he was simply moving about his life for a moment he became a part of the scenery of life like never before, at least as imagined by this observer! It was one of the many spontaneous, surreal moments that made me feel like I wasn't watching Woody Allen make a movie... no... it was more like I was sleeping walking and suddenly I was in a Woody Allen movie being made!

Have you seen it?

It's about a lifelong admirer of a genius, writer, producer, comedian, film-maker who brings the magic of movie making close enough for her to hear his voice across the street.

And she brought her camera along to document what it was like to watch a movie being made. But found instead that the danger of walking a sleepwalker is finding out you aren't in a dream but rather reality.

But hearing his voice across the street made the dream come true, and it was a more like a scene from a movie than reality.

Then suddenly she realized... she's in the movie.

And it was one of those days that remind her, no matter how things felt, or life got lonely, or world events scared or exasperated her, there would always be movies... and photography.

Art. And basket weaving.

"The difference between sex and death is, with death you can do it alone and nobody is going to make fun of you."

~Woody Allen

Mood: Tired of coughing (That's a mood... right?)

~Me :)

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Far Off Laughter On Late Winter Afternoons

"The Earth Is Art, The Photographer Is Only A Witness."

~Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Earth from Above

God has been working overtime as an artist lately... at least in my little corner of the earth. I am continuing to enjoy the sight of a bounty of beautiful autumn leaves, falling to the earth alongside the the softest of pink blossoms. When I see a late winter afternoon produce this kind of color, and shadow, I can't help but imagine that late in the evening, long after the park is closed, there are all kinds of spirits and sprites throwing hilarious drunken parties. Ones where they spend their entire time drinking all kinds of lovely elixirs, and making fun of the mere mortals like myself who can't believe nature can be this beautiful! Nature is a strange and wonderful magical realm.

Here are the original photos with the Watercolor filter versions alongside. I am thinking of doing a series of paintings next autumn. We'll see.



Tell me, when you are out and it's just you and your camera, do you ever hear tiny far off laughter?

And then trip for no apparent reason?

Is it always clumsiness?

Or do more than leaves, blossoms and the occasional animal haunt the parks and woods?

Mood: Happy

~Me :)

NOTE: I am still fighting this cold, but I hope to have some new and exciting photos soon! Until then, I still have some photos from late February and early March that haven't been posted before.

Stay Tuned!

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Sleeping In Tinfoil

"Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax."

~Arthur Schopenhauer

I have a cold. The Bay Area has a cold  front moving in, the meteorologists like to call it a storm. It's supposed to rain and rain and rain. It was supposed to be cloudy yesterday... it wasn't. I was looking forward to big bad, dark, threatening, ice filled rain clouds. Okay. Today it's supposed to rain. Okay. RAIN! It's the last 5 minutes of winter... act like it!

That is all.

“Sleeping in a tinfoil suit keeps me warmer and helps prepare me for my voyage to the moon. Would
 you care for some licorice? 

~Jarod Kintz, At Even One Penney, This Book Would Be Overpriced. In Fact Free Is Too Expensive, Because You'd Still Waste Time By Reading It."


Temperature: 103.0

Mood: Flummoxed.

~Me :(

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Gentle Reminders

"It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart."

~Rainer Maria Rilke

I am enjoying spring. I love all the light colors. The pastels. Strange, I know, I am an autumn girl, and yes those earth tones will always catch my eyes before the soft pinks and amazing greens, but its a feast for the eyes, and one doesn't realize how much spring can be missed, until a gentle reminder warms your chilly bones. And the spring shadows are wonderful as well!

Mood: Content :)


Monday, March 04, 2013

Art About Town: San Francisco... "Annular Eclipse"

"Art and love are the same thing: It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are no you."

~Chuck Klosterman, Killing Yourself To Live: 85% Of A True Story

Annular Eclipse...
Noun: A solar eclipse in which the moon covers all but a bright ring around the circumference of the sun.

I think spending a little time, studying a great piece of Public Art, is a good way to begin a week, don't you? I am hoping to be able to get out this week with the camera, come rain or shine, and immerse myself in the magnificent Public Art that dots not just San Francisco, but most cities in the Bay Area! I have been doing my research and there are a lot of sculptures, and murals to be seen and photographed, and I think creating small "treasure hunts" if you will, is going to be my main focus this year. But you never know... sometimes it's not the photograph I assign myself to get, but rather the spontaneous moments of clarity of the unexpected art that makes the day spent outdoors with the camera!

The Sculpture: Annular Eclipse
By George Rickey
Located At: 560 Mission st. San Francisco
Kinetic sculpture with fountain and bamboo grove.

We had an Annular Eclipse in May of 2012. I was thrilled to be able to photograph the portion that could be seen in here in the Bay Area...

May 20th, 2012

I was quite happy with the end result! In order to get the shot, I had to bounce the reflection of top of our white awning in the backyard. Someday I will own one of those wonderful high powered telescopes that will make it look like I am right there, standing on the sun. Until then, it never hurts to be resourceful... right?

Solar Eclipse 2012: Annular Eclipse Makes Ring Of Fire (ABC News)

Mood: Happy

Have a great week!


Sunday, March 03, 2013

Today An Arm, Tomorrow The Leg

"It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it."

~George W. Bush

Well... it's all his's all George W. Bush's fault... right? The latest political bullshit, also known as the Sequester. It's his fault. Again I ask... right? Well, no. No it's not. As much as I would love to make a case for how it's his fault, I can't. No, the blame belongs firmly and exclusively with Obama, and the Republican party. While admire the president's show of political balls in his offer of a 2 for one compromise, he didn't try to give them everything! He is learning that terrorists can't be negotiated with, even when you give them what the want! But it distresses me that he still seems to be oblivious to the fact that the REPUBLICAN PARTY WILL NOT WORK WITH HIM... EVER!

The effects on each individual state will vary, but it will be devastating regardless of which state you live in. Here are just a few examples of how my state, California, will be affected this year alone...


1. California will face a loss of about $87.6 million in funding for primary and secondary education, which will put about 1,200 teachers and aides jobs at risk.

2. The Head Start Program
 Services for about 8,200 children in California will be eliminated.

3. Protections for Clean Air and Clean Water
- $12.4 million in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality.

4. Law Enforcement and Public Safety Funds for Crime Prevention and Prosecution
 $1.6 million in Justice Assistance Grants that supports law enforcement, prosecution, crime prevention and education, correction and community corrections, crime victim and witness initiatives.

5. Job Search Assistance to help those in California find Employment and Training.
- $3.3 million in funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement, which results in about 129, 770 fewer people will get the help and skills needed to secure employment.

6. Child Care.
About 2,000 fewer disadvantaged children will have child care that allows their parents to work.

7. Vaccines for Children.
Around 15,810 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, Hepatitis B.

8. Public Health.
- $2.6 million in funds to help upgrade it's ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological events.
-$12.4 million in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 9,400 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs.
-$2 million loss to California State Department Of Health Services, resulting in about 49,000 fewer HIV tests.

9. Stop Violence Against Women Program.
 -$795,000 possible loss in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 3,000 fewer victims being helped.

10. Nutrition Assistance for Seniors.
-$5.4 million loss for programs that provide meals for seniors.

And, of course, the nationwide cuts to federal programs affects everyone. The CDC. The FBI. FEMA and the F.A.A. are just some of the programs that will see significant cuts.

I don't know my country anymore! The levels of greed and selfishness are epic and embarrassing. When will the republicans end their incessant need to bend to the will of the top 1%? When will the republican party do the right thing, be it work in good faith with the president to balance the budget, or decide to be a part of the change for the better for future generations by voting for true gun reforms such as reinstating the Assault Weapons Ban? Now that can be blamed on George W. Bush! He has a lot of blood on his hands, as does any politician who puts a false idol above the life of even 1 American.

And as for President Obama... he should have stood up to the Republican party from day one, and he didn't! When he tried to deal with Republicans and they turned away, that is when he should have stood up to them, not turn the other cheek. I feel like the president has changed his tactics since the election last November, and that is a good thing, but I am afraid it is too late now. The sequester was a bad idea, and I said so when it was introduced, but what can I do? There was NO incentive for the special group of senators to reach a deal. I am only one small peep on the Internet, but I am pretty sure I wasn't alone in my belief that President Obama needs to move beyond his fantasy of some sort of a grand bargain. It's like America has become some sort of a cheesy reality show, and all of this drama and nonsense is scripted for ratings mindless entertainment consumption.

But to answer the question you are probably wanting to ask...

The answer is YES. YES I am glad I voted for President Obama a second time. Why? Because I would rather have someone in the White House who DREAMS of hope, and fairness and change, than someone who you only hear from during your NIGHTMARES.

Washington Post
White House Releases State By State Breakdown Of The Sequesters Effects

Mood: Frustrated

~Me :)