Monday, December 31, 2007

Adieu 2007

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning.
Ivy Baker Priest

A friend and I decided to go out and say good-bye to 2007 by hiking/shooting pictures. Our intention was to go up to the snow plain on the Sierra Nevadas and shoot at a state park. We made it there, but we had an unexpected opportunity to also shoot in the fog on the way in. I used my tripod more here and it did make a difference. It was an incredible day, but I'm ready for 2007 to end. It has been a year of great ups and downs in my life. I'm thankful that most of the bad came with a silver lining, but there are still ripples being felt into 2008. We'll see what they are as things happen.

No New Years resolutions, just a commitment to live every moment that the coming year brings with openness to opportunities and growth. Happy New Year to all of you. May 2008 bring an end to the Iraq War and new blessings.

In tribute to a gentle man who wrote incredible music and left us all too soon a couple of weeks ago; Dan Fogelberg, "Same Old Lang Syne":


Friday, December 28, 2007

Quirks and a New Year

Turn over a new leaf
traditional idiom

Today was my last day at work until 2008 so the talk at lunch turned to resolutions or as one person put it "the turn over of a new leaf". It was the usual loose weight, eat better, get up earlier, spend more time with friends/family etc. But then someone had the bright idea of just learning to accept what is not viewed as the best about oneself in the coming year. Or as he said, it's the part of ourselves that is often considered quirky that we like to hide from others. For instance, eating Spaghettio's out of a can, or that you really do like reality TV programs better then the Discovery channel, or you really do plan on buying a Hummer in the coming next year...In other words, the quirks that don't make you a bad person, but might not necessarily put you in the best light.... BTW: the Spaghettio's in the can happens to belong to me.

What's the quirk that you'd like to learn to accept for for 2008?

Greg Allman, "I'm No Angel":


Monday, December 24, 2007

For Unto Us....

For Unto Us A Child Is Born

Tonight is a crisp cold night. The full moon came up shining brightly. Stillness and quiet were its companions. It is a on night such as this that you can envision that age old story of the child born into a manager....

This blog entry is dedicated to all my friends of the Christian faith. May the light of your belief be a path of peace and love for you in the coming year. Thank you for all that you have given me in this year.

Handel's Messiah, "For Unto Us A Child Is Born":





Saturday, December 22, 2007

Celebrate

I do come home at Christmas. We all do, or we all should. We all come home, or ought to come home, for a short holiday -- the longer, the better -- from the great boarding school where we are forever working at our arithmetical slates, to take, and give a rest.
Charles Dickens

The roads are full of shoppers and people beginning to travel home for the holidays. I wish I was headed to Arizona again, but as I'm covering all the clinics in the Valley next week, I'll be here. I'm getting together with friends on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for food and frolic. I hope that everyone is completing their shopping, putting the finishing touches on meal plans and just taking a few moments here and there to enjoy some Christmas relaxation and cheer.

Amaretto-Cranberry Kiss

Ingredients:
2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
1 cup vodka
1/2 cup amaretto
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Ice cubes
Clementines, peeled, separated into segments

Preparation:
Mix cranberry juice, vodka, amaretto, and orange juice in pitcher. Cover and chill until ready to serve. DO AHEAD: Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.

To make 2 drinks, fill cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Pour in scant 1 cup vodka mixture. Cover and shake vigorously. Strain into 2 Martini glasses. Garnish each with clementine segment. Repeat 3 times with ice cubes, remaining vodka mixture, and clementine segments.

Merry Solstice to everyone also.

Kenny Loggins, "Celebrate Me Home":


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And More Gifts

Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.
Richard Bach

The gift of my Jeep arrived at my home today. I never thought I would become enamored of a car, but after years of driving economy compacts, it's a revelation of true love. So it's the beginning of having fun out there, not just driving something for necessity. However I am glad to be finished with the whole business and look forward to putting my energies back into other things. I use a life event stress scale with some of my clients when I'm counseling them and have decided that I'm putting having a car accident, settling out with your insurance company and then going through the process of obtaining a new car into the top ten of life event stressors that are identified in the scale.

This evening I gave myself a gift of a night off and got into a pair of warm snuggly pjs I had been gifted with, watched some holiday DVDs, noshed on cookies that I had made and had some tea. I hope you're all taking the gift of giving yourself some quiet time in all the activity that the holidays can bring.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

Peppermint butter cream is sandwiched between homemade chocolate cookies; then the sandwiches are rolled in crushed candy canes. Makes about 18 sandwich cookies.

Cookies
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg

Filling
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops (or more) red food coloring

1/2 cup crushed red-and-white-striped candy canes or hard peppermint candies (about 4 ounces)
For cookies:
Whisk flour, cocoa, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients; beat until blended. Refrigerate dough 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out dough by level tablespoonfuls, then roll into smooth balls. Place balls on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Using bottom of glass or hands, flatten each ball to 2-inch round (edges will crack). Bake until cookies no longer look wet and small indentation appears when tops of cookies are lightly touched with fingers, about 11 minutes (do not overbake or cookies will become too crisp). Cool on sheet 5 minutes. Transfer chocolate cookies to racks and cool completely.

For filling:
Using electric mixer, beat powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl until well blended. Add peppermint extract and 2 drops food coloring. Beat until light pink and well blended, adding more food coloring by dropfuls if darker pink color is desired. Spread 2 generous teaspoons filling evenly over flat side of 1 cookie to edges; top with another cookie, flat side down, pressing gently to adhere. Repeat with remaining cookies and peppermint filling.

Place crushed candy canes on plate. Roll edges of cookie sandwiches in crushed candies (candies will adhere to filling). (Cookie sandwiches can be made ahead. Store in single layer in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.)

Brenda Lee, "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree":



Sunday, December 16, 2007

Gifts

I certainly don't regret my experiences because without them, I couldn't imagine who or where I would be today. Life is an amazing gift to those who have overcome great obstacles, and attitude is everything!
Sasha Azevedo


It has been quite the week. I'm now waiting for final word that my car is going to totaled as it was more damaged then first appeared. So it looks like I'm getting a Christmas gift of a new vehicle. I hadn't planned for it and was upset at first because I was just about to pay off the car. But then I've had the Jeep Patriot I eventually want on my manifestation board for a year or so. Like a friend reminded me, sometimes what seems a curse or problem is really a blessing/gift and it always doesn't always come wrapped in a neat box. He's right and by looking at the positives of this experience it can become a gift. So if all works out in the next several days, I may be a Jeep girl soon.

It's my father's birthday today. He's 72. I called him in Michigan to wish him a Happy Birthday and to reminisce. So many of my friends have lost parents in the last few years. It's a gift to still have him here.

Last night I had the gift of friends while we made cookies and shared a meal. So many are my gifts and Christmas hasn't even arrived. Not all people in the world have these gifts for them I hope for the gift of better days to come.

Band Aid 20, "Do They Know It's Christmas Time?":


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

War and Peace

Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict -- alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.
Dorothy Thompson

In the last week the news has been full of violent, dramatic shootings around the US with the latest today in Las Vegas. All I could think of was in a season of in which we should reflecting/showing the best of what makes us human, this stands in contrast. I don't profess to have all the answers for alternatives to the violence that seems so inherent these days. But I have faith that eventually peace and wisdom will find a way. It lies in what we give and teach to our children now for they are the angels which will bring our ultimate flowering or our ultimate destruction. I'm standing and working with others for peace on the earth and good will towards all humankind.

Sarah McLachlan, "Happy Xmas (War is Over):


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Blessings

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.
Hamilton Wright Mabie

The tree went up, the last of vacation laundry and unpacking finally was taken care of, and I am settled again. I had gone to get a few things early this am and as I went into the grocery store, there was a young guy panhandling. Normally, I tend to not give direct money as we have so many persons here doing it and it becomes impossible to pick/choose individuals to give to. However, there was something about him that stayed with me while I was shopping and I decided to trust my feelings about helping him. So on my way out I gave him some money and it was as if a star had lit up in his eyes and I felt a sense of appreciation from him that was amazing. I think in the end I was the one who was blessed by having encountered him. I hope whatever his story is, life improves for him.

Peppermint Bark

12 oz. of high-quality white chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips
5 regular sized candy canes, crushed up
1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract

1. Break up peppermint candy into little pieces. Melt the chocolate according to the manufacturer's instructions. Once melted, add the peppermint extract and stir.
2. Pour the melted chocolate out onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and spread out with a spatula or wooden spoon. Sprinkle the peppermint candy chunks on to the chocolate and gently press them in with yours hands.
3. Place in the freezer for 5 minutes or until hardened. Break into pieces and serve or store in the fridge in an airtight container.

George Winston, "Thanksgiving" from his December album:


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Santa Baby

The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.
George Carlin

Today is for all of us who need to let our spicy bad girls out once in awhile to enjoy themselves. Have fun and enjoy the bling, bling of life.

Open Faced Prosciutto, Ricotta and Red Onion Sandwiches

Ingredients
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cups thinly sliced red onions
1 tablespoon golden brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
4 1/2-inch-thick slices crusty bread (each 4x6 inches)
8 thin slices prosciutto
1 cup ricotta cheese
Fresh rosemary sprigs Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sugar. Cook until dark brown and tender, stirring frequently, about 16 minutes. Mix in vinegar and crushed pepper. Cook until mixture is thick, about 1 minute. Season marmalade generously to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°F. Arrange bread on baking sheet. Brush with remaining 2 tablespoons oil; sprinkle with salt. Bake until crusty, about 8 minutes.

Overlap 2 prosciutto slices on each toast. Top with 1/4 cup cheese, then marmalade. Garnish with rosemary.

Eartha Kitt, "Santa Baby":

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Lucky

Luck is believing you're lucky.
Tennessee Williams

I had a car accident this morning when I swerved to avoid a vehicle heading into my path. Long and short, my car sustained damage when it hit a pole. I think I was lucky, it could have been worse. I'm okay and my car can be fixed. Tomorrow I'll have a rental, be back to work and I'll keep going with the holiday spirit.

I shot this picture in Arizona. It reminds me of a southwestern Picassoesque Rudolph. It's probably like a Rorschach test. Not everyone may see it. But it still is a great version of a Christmas cactus. I really enjoyed the time with my Mom while we went through the Botanical Gardens in Tempe where I found it.

It's raining, cold/damp and I'm cozy inside, wrapped in a warm blanket looking at cookie recipes. A hot cup of chai tea is sitting at my side. Bella is snoozing and Brian is watching some news programs. I'm getting ready to do a cookie bake this weekend with a friend. Of course we have to do a gingerbread cookie, so I found this one:

Old Fashioned Gingerbread Cookies

5 to 5 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium until smooth. Add the molasses and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture 1 cup at a time, blending until smooth. The dough should gather into a semifirm mass. (If it's not firm, add another ¼ to ½ cup flour, but not enough to make it crumbly.) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Flatten into disks and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 1 week. Preheat oven to 350° F. On a floured surface, roll each disk to 1/8 inch thick. Use gingerbread-man cutters to make shapes. Transfer them to a large, parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Decorate, if desired. Bake until firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Cool slightly before transferring to a rack

Yield: Makes 3 dozen medium gingerbread cookies.

Carney and Wendy Wilson, "Hey Santa":


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Foggy

....the fog is rising
Emily Dickinson

Winter in the Central Valley where I live means fog, lots and lots of tulle fog that chills you and clings. It usually arrives around the holiday time. It can make for great pictures, but it makes you pull out the warm sweaters, search out hot drinks and cozy fires.

Barcelona Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

2/3 cup boiling water
2 ounces good-quality dark or bittersweet (60 to 70 percent cocoa) chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/3 cups 1% low-fat milk
1 cup brewed espresso or strong coffee
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 2-inch piece orange rind strip
1/4 cup frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
Cocoa powder (optional)

Preparation
Combine 2/3 cup boiling water and chopped chocolate in a medium saucepan, stirring until chocolate melts. Add milk and next 4 ingredients (through rind); cook over medium-low heat, stirring with a whisk. Heat 5 minutes or until tiny bubbles form around edge of pan, stirring frequently (do not boil). Discard rind. Pour 1 cup mixture into each of 4 mugs. Spoon 1 tablespoon whipped topping over each serving. Dust with cocoa powder, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings

Natalie Cole, "The Christmas Song":

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

In Night's Quiet

Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is done, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

One of the things I love is nighttime. I am more of a night owl then a morning lark. To me night time is a sacred and spiritual time. It is a time of revelation and discovery. A time when a spiritual being may have announced to a young girl, her role in bringing forth a light to help guide this world...

Sting, "Gabriel's Message":


Sunday, December 2, 2007

Holiday

At that instant he saw, in one blaze of light, an image of unutterable conviction, the reason why the artist works and lives and has his being--the reward he seeks--the only reward he really cares about, without which there is nothing. It is to snare the spirits of mankind in nets of magic, to make his life prevail through his creation, to wreak the vision of his life, the rude and painful substance of his own experience, into the congruence of blazing and enchanted images that are themselves the core of life, the essential pattern whence all other things proceed, the kernel of eternity.
Thomas Wolfe

December sees many cultures and religions embracing a celebration of some sorts, most often related to a theme of eternal being and renewal. I also embrace this month as a time of magic, of renewal and my connection to the eternal. I hope to share these things this year with colleagues, family, friends and the occasional persons who read my blog through what I see through the eye of my camera, music and recipes of this season.

Last Sunday I caught this tree in a ghost town. I hope to capture more moments in the coming nights and share them in the spirit of the quote above from Thomas Wolfe.

I made this from "Natural Health to satisfy a sweet tooth I'm having and to use seasonal fruit:

Fresh and Dried Cranberry, Orange, and Walnut Tart

Ingredients
Serves 10

Crust
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or white all-purpose flour (or a mixture of both)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar or maple sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
7 tablespoons cold butter or butter substitute, cut into small chunks
2 tablespoons cold water mixed with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Tart Filling
1 cup dried cranberries
1 orange
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
juice of 1 orange
1 cup light brown sugar, maple sugar, or Sucanat
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons butter
1 tablespoon orange liquor or orange flower water
Recipe Note: The one problem with cranberries is they need lots of sugar to be palatable. This tart lessens that need by mixing fresh or frozen cranberries with sweeter dried cranberries and walnuts.
Directions
1. To make the crust, place the flour, sugar, sea salt, cinnamon, and orange zest in a food processor; pulse just to combine. Add the butter; pulse until the butter is broken up into pieces the size of baby peas. Drizzle in the water-vanilla mixture, and pulse until large, moist-looking crumbs have formed.

2. Pour the crumbs onto a clean surface and gather them in your hand. If there is any dry flour left, work it into the dough with a few more drops of water. Gently shape the dough into a 1-inch-thick disk; wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator; roll out into a 10-inch round, then drape into a 9-inch tart pan. Use your fingers to build up the sides so they're about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to the freezer. Preheat oven to 375*F.

4. To make the filling, cover the dried cranberries with warm water; set aside. Using a citrus zester, remove several strands of zest from the orange; set the zest aside. Peel the orange, section it into eighths, then thinly slice the sections crosswise. When you're ready to start cooking, drain the dried cranberries.

5. In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the drained dried cranberries, fresh or frozen cranberries, orange slices, orange juice, and sugar or Sucanat. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until the cranberries have popped and released their juices, about 12 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, cloves, and flour; cook for 1 more minute, then stir in the walnuts. Remove from heat.

6. Set the frozen tart shell, still in the tart pan, on a sheet pan. Spoon the tart filling into the shell, then smooth the top. Dot the butter over the filling, and decorate the top with strands of orange zest. Cover lightly with parchment or foil. Bake in the center of the oven until the crust is lightly browned, about 35 minutes. Remove, then spoon orange liquor or orange flower water over the top. Serve at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream or creme fraiche, if desired.

Nutrition Facts Per serving: 357 calories, 40% fat (16.5 g; 6 g saturated), 55% carbohydrate (51 g), 5% protein (5 g), 4 g fiber, 48 mg calcium, 1.8 mg iron, 102 mg sodium.

Mediaeval Baebes, "I Am Eve":



Saturday, December 1, 2007

Back

Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.
Arnold Bennett

Trying to get back into your life after being away from home can be interesting. This trip was about decision making and planning for change. Some of that took place and now it's like coming back and finding the clothes that have always fit you so well for so long, don't anymore.

For the first time in about 3 years I've taken a major break from photography. I took pictures in Arizona, but I felt more like a tourist then a photographer. I'm going through a period of self doubt of should I even be calling myself that...I'm staying with the question for the time being, I figure the answer will present itself when the time is right.

One thing is for sure, I had a ball on the road trip to and from and I'm looking forward to more of these, maybe I'll be a trucker in my next life....

Willie Nelson, "On the Road Again":



Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cowboys

It is not enough for a man to learn how to ride; he must learn how to fall.
Mexican Proverb

My family and I went to a proverbial old west/ghost town. It was made more for tourism, but we had a good deal of fun. I tried to stay with them most of the time, but I found myself poking into corners and looking for "decisive moments" to capture. When I found these three "cowboys" relaxing on the upper level of the saloon I thought I had one, but you can see the one who caught me taking the photo. I ended up talking to a few other "cowboys" who were wandering around. They were gallant, funny and sexy....I may have to give serious thought to a cowboy photo shoot.

Paula Cole, "Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?":


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Reflection

If we are too busy, if we are carried away every day by our projects, our uncertainty, our craving, how can we have the time to stop and look deeply into the situation-our own situation, the situation of our beloved one, the situation of our family and of our community, and the situation of our nation and of the other nations?
Thich Nhat Hahn

I finally gained access to a wireless network so I can post. It's been almost two weeks of visiting with family and gaining insight on what is going on with them. I haven't done as much with my photography as I planned on, but that is all right. With help from my mother I began knitting again and it's provided a source of calm and meditation. Also I picked up the threads of my yoga practice. Finally it has been a time of refining the decisions that will be made in the coming months.

Now is the beginning of the holiday season, a time of reflection and renewal, may yours be fruitful as it progresses...

Mediaeval Baebes, "In Dolce Jublio":


Monday, November 12, 2007

Sea of No Cares

Hey somewhere, you threw your fear in the Sea of No Cares.
Great Big Sea

After the last few days and a number of happenings (let's just saying I'm committing major acts of bravery and throwing away fear) I am having some major thoughts about where I'm going next. It may be further then I think, keep tuned...Hopefully I'll post while I'm in Arizona, but if not have a good couple of weeks....

Great Big Sea, "Sea of No Cares":


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Living and Reflecting

Living is being born slowly. It would be a little too easy if we could borrow ready-made souls.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I'm leaving for Arizona for two weeks on Tuesday. I'm driving and taking Bella. This time isn't so much a vacation as it is a catching up with family, spending some time doing photography and grappling with the lessons I have stacked up on Photoshop, lighting and composition. Most importantly it's the time for reflection and planning I need before making some final decisions about where my life is going to go next year.

While in Arizona I hope to have some quality time and conversations with my sisters and mom. Until recently we have tended to have much more superficial conversations. But the last few years have begun to open up some dark places in our family that we had been afraid to look at and talk more openly about how we are feeling. I want to know how my sister is adapting to Arizona, what about it makes her sing (if any thing) and where are her tears. My other sister is beginning a real estate career and is undergoing changes in relationships. I want to know what has brought her to this moment and what is keeping her going. And I hope my mother will share her thoughts on aging as some day I will be there and would like to know how she copes with it.

With all of this I couldn't help but reflect how our lives are made up of the moments we have and how we treat them. Today's moments were spent doing the busy work one does on the weekend especially in preparation for the trip. Going to the market, cleaning house, shopping for needed fall clothes etc. In the places in between there is the time we give to maintain our intimate connection with ones mate, friends, and family. With all this busyness though I find I need to stop for reflection. This blog has become the window on my inner self, my creative soul if you would, so I continue to make the time several times a week to do it. I guess you could say it is helping me slowly give birth to a new life.

I found this incredible cover of Dan Fogelberg's, "The Sand and The Foam", enjoy:


Friday, November 9, 2007

Surreal

I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of.
Michel de Montaigne

Today was the most surreal day I have ever had. Let's see if I can qualify that statement. I've written in this blog about putting things out to the universe and trusting it to bring about what you need. Well I'm now going to qualify that a bit more: be careful what you put out to the universe because it may come back to you in ways you didn't dream would happen, and when they do, make you recognize you are a co-creator of reality. I've spent the last few days pondering some issues I need to resolve (I've fled from facing them) and when/how I should do it. Well things happened today to clear up that search and now I know what I have to or must do based on said events. Let's just say the universe hit me up side the head with a 2 by 4 to get my attention and succeeded in giving me a much needed wake-up call.

I'd been saving this eerie full moon picture I took for just such an occasion and today was that day (this one's for you Judy, feel free to add it to your collection).

Andreas Vollenweider: "Down to the Moon":


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Relationship

Lust is easy. Love is hard. Like is most important.
Carl Reiner

Some days it's challenging being single in a relationship world. And finding/building a relationship is the most difficult thing of all. I've tried all levels of relationship, but I'm committed to finding the like first, underlined by a good helping of lust and hopefully tied together with love.

Bless Jill Scott, she is singing my theme song for the moment "Celibacy Blues" :


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Do You....

We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment.
George Eliot

I try not to take an overwhelming amount of Bella pictures and post them. But every now and then something just hits me and I have to share. I was going to run an errand and had my camera with me. As I was leaving I looked around and saw this pathetic face looking at me as if to say,"do you have to go?" So here's the resulting shot. There aren't to many times in my life where I think I'll see this expression. What I can I say she showers myself and others with love...she's a good teacher for showing me what I should share more openly with others in my life....

Dixie Chicks, "Shower the People":


Monday, November 5, 2007

Learning

I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.
Eartha Kitt

My best teachers have been the ones who didn't teach by rote, but by challenging my curiosity so that I went further into the subject, kept on exploring and discovering new paths. Also they haven't always been the ones with degrees. They're from the large variety of people I've encountered casually or intimately through my lifetime so far. The best have taught me and I paraphrase, "to learn to breath into the moment and not be afraid, not look away" from the opportunity that I'm being given.

Today I spent some time on lunch with some British import digital photography magazines working through CD tutorials. The theme was working with adjustment layers and masks. These seemed beyond my grasp in past months. As the saying goes when the student is ready... Through the tutorials I broke through another level of Photoshop and was able to come home to apply this successfully. It is a quiet joy/feeling of accomplishment and I am humbled that on this journey of life that I am blessed with the opportunities to continue to grow and learn from so many others.

Nerina Pallot, "Learning to Breathe":


Friday, November 2, 2007

What Would You Like to Do

Wine comes in at the mouth And love comes in at the eye.
William Butler Yeats

Another beautiful weekend to come and what would I like to be doing? Heading to wine country, tasting wine, eating well made food, and dancing the flamenco till the moon sets in the wee hours of the morning.

How about you?

Jesse Cook, "Tempest":


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Celtic New Year

As you slide down the bannister of life, may all the splinters face the right way.

Today is considered by many the Celtic New Year. If my Irish ancestored maternal grandmother were alive, she'd be part of the Red Hat Society and out celebrating.

In honor of this time, I'm going to be sharing videos by a Newfoundland band, Great Big Sea. These lads know how to make music and enjoy life. The first one is a glorious craic between Great Big Sea and the Chieftains and a second for my grandmother's memory. Take a listen, go out and raise a pint or two in honour of her on this All Souls Day.

Great Big Sea, "Lukey":



Great Big Sea, "Everything Shines":


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Masquerade

We get so much in the habit of wearing disguises before others that we finally appear disguised before ourselves.
Francois de la Rochefoucauld

It's Halloween and it's the one day of year people have official sanction to put on costumes and masks. However do we really reveal something of our inner disguise when we choose these?

Carpenters, "This Masquerade (The Lover)":


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Consequence Free Art

True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.
Albert Einstein

To paraphrase Great Big Sea, in making art wouldn't it be great to say what's really on your mind....do you ever stop and not make/share your art because it might offend someone.???

Here's to learning to take risks and make true art because of the urge that wouldn't let you stop from creating it...

Great Big Sea, "Consequence Free":


Monday, October 29, 2007

Samhain

Hi, how are you today?
Ashley MacIssac

As Samhain or Halloween approaches, surreal seems to be the theme. Here is a little friend that I found peering down on me as I worked on the patio. I'm anthropomorphizing, but couldn't help it. I just wish I had a macro lenses for my Olympus 510....sigh, eventually. Still was pleased with this as I got better detail then I thought I would with a kit lens.

I spent the day at the clinic preparing for a Halloween costume party we are doing with the patients. They really seem excited about it, even the staff are getting in the spirit. What can I say I'm still a kid at heart when it comes to this day, probably has to do with my Irish ancestors who loved a good craic.

Ashley MacIssac (with Mary Jane Lamond), "Sleepy Maggie":


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Autumn Mellowness....

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.
Elizabeth Lawrence

It's a lovely warm mellow fall here. So in celebration I'm going to be making Challah Bread French Toast to serve out on the patio for brunch today. I found a good recipe and just plan to enjoy companionship and this time of sunshine I've been given.....

Challah French Toast

6 extra-large eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half or milk
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon good honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large loaf challah or brioche bread
Unsalted butter
Vegetable oil

To serve:
Pure maple syrup
Good raspberry preserves (optional)
Sifted confectioners' sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, orange zest, vanilla, honey, and salt. Slice the challah in 3/4-inch thick slices. Soak as many slices in the egg mixture as possible for 5 minutes, turning once. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a very large saute pan over medium heat. Add the soaked bread and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Place the cooked French toast on a sheet pan and keep it warm in the oven. Fry the remaining soaked bread slices, adding butter and oil as needed, until it's all cooked. Serve hot with maple syrup, raspberry preserves, and/or confectioners' sugar.

Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, "Why Worry Now":


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Graffiti Considerations


The few remaining truths are graffiti, suicide notes, shopping lists.
Francesca da Rimini


Mention graffiti and you will find a huge array of opinions. Every thing from it's a sign of a personality disorder, of gang/criminal involvement to that it is sheer art. Like many things there is no one absolute answer, it really depends on the circumstances of the graffiti itself. Like it or not humans have have been been making their mark on surfaces since prehistoric times. One only has to look at the Chauvet caves in the Pyrenees for evidence of this. Not to mention who hasn't in childhood drawn on their wall or at least a chalkboard, or today more often chalk on the sidewalk. If one followed Jung's thinking you might say it was part of our ancestral memory and need....

I happen to love well done graffiti and photographing it. Yes, I don't want to see property defaced and criminal involvement, but when it is an used with the right consideration, i.e. as an art form for expression of self, social protest etc., it can be incredible.

Maximo Park, "Grafitti":



Friday, October 26, 2007

Walking Through the Past #5


The present is the corridor between the past and the future.

Preston Castle is an amazing place. You see what was past and what it is becoming again. Spending time there and working with my camera, gave me the gift of learning to be more mindful of the work I'm doing in the present moment.

At the end of the shoot I left wondering, was it a place that truly helped some of adolescents who passed through its doors between 1894-1960? Or was it a misguided attempt in its time for betterment that instead left a negative impact? For all the grandeur and history that Preston Castle presented, you hope that as they left their childhood behind there they emerged with the expectancy of a better life....

Cecilia Bartoli, "Angeli Disprezzati":


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Walk Through the Past #4



Years later we'll remember the bathtub
the position of the taps
the water, slippery
as if a bucketful of eels had joined us ...
Sujata Bhatt

Sheltered in the basement setting were a set of old claw foot tubs. Cobwebs edged them and the sun shone through an crusted window touching the details that were left. I wondered if the children ever got to relax and soak in them or perhaps they had been there for on site staff.

Handel, "Water Music, Allegro":


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Walk Through the Past #3


Always remember to slow down in life; live, breathe, and learn; take a look around you whenever you have time and never forget everything and every person that has the least place within your heart.
Unknown

As I walked through Preston Castle I wondered about the people who had been here, what their stories had been about. I found myself looking around, up and down, attempting to catch a glimpse of what life had been about in this place. Really all that was left was fragments of lives lived exposed by lights above, from doors standing open and the shadows from another time....

October Project, "Bury My Lovely":


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Walking Through the Past #2

The space within becomes the reality of the building.
Frank Lloyd Wright

This was the interior of a room waiting to be renovated. Many rooms were like this full of dust and debris left after the building closed. Somehow these rooms had a strange eerie beauty. A reminder of a time long past....

Kansas, "Dust in the Wind":


Monday, October 22, 2007

A Walk Through the Past #1


There are three forms of visual art: Painting is art to look at, sculpture is art you can walk around, and architecture is art you can walk through.
Dan Rice

This piece of Preston Castle might have been some of the medical ward. I lagged a bit behind the group so missed some of the info. As you can see it has a strong institutional feel. There was also a sense of emptiness and loss there. More tomorrow....

Dan Fogelberg, "Go Down Easy":


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Weekend Travels

Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again
Henri Cartier-Bresson


Yesterday the Darkroom Dames headed up to Preston Castle in Ione California for a day of shooting. It used to be a reformatory for boys. The building inside is in the beginnings of restoration. We first went on a tour which showed us which areas were open and which remained dangerous. Some of the facts the were shared was that supposedly Merle Haggard spent time there. There is also a resident ghost, a cook who was bludgeoned to death. I know I loved it and found one of the voices I want my photography to have, shooting old buildings in the process of decay.

We were allowed to photograph as we wanted after the tour, so the four of us separated and I spent two hours in the photography zone. I came out to meet up covered with dust and dirt, my camera, the same, but I was glowing. We spent the rest of the day in Sutters Creek and stopping at a couple of wineries.

I'll be sharing pictures throughout this week. It was an incredible time.

Paul Simon, "Kodachrome":


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Just Shopping....

Glamour is what makes a man ask for your telephone number. But it also is what makes a woman ask for the name of your dressmaker.
Lilly Dache

I'm sitting in the sun with my laptop, drinking chai and Ebay shopping for my fall wardrobe. It's easier to find things I like there. I tend to go for a mix of sporty casual and some glamour. I often look for vintage items to mix with more modern pieces. On occasion people will ask where I find my clothing. What can I say when you hate malls like I do, Ebay can be a girls best friend.

Billie Holiday, "Lover Man":


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Time...

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
Albert Schweitzer

I find in counseling people, they often unknowingly offer counsel and wisdom back. I was talking to an 82 year old patient in my clinic about her life. She told me she was in her time a "rip snorter". She asked if I was or ever had been married. I told her no and she told me that she found true love in her mid 6o's for the first time with a younger man, that they had married, and have been together since that time. Her further comment on this event was that in her day if you weren't married by a certain time it was considered that it would never happen. For her it was ironic because she hadn't been interested in marriage anyway and had decided to travel the world through her career, meet people and have a good time. She had retired and then along came the love of her life. The moral of her story was don't think that you can dismiss possibilities of something, because you never know what will happen.

Bonnie Raitt, Nick of Time:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ring My...

At present there are many persons who no longer pay heed to the summons of these bells.
Felix Adler

Today for some reason, I got into a discussion with someone over the function/meaning of bells in our lives. Wedding bells, Christmas bells, church bells, phone bells, door bells, school bells....We were dizzy with the listing of them all. Then we got into songs with bells or bell themes...The one thing we agreed on as persons who have worked in the world of human behavior...we certainly are conditioned to respond to bells...

What can I say, sometimes our brains take us off in directions we don't know we're going to go...

Ann Lee, "Ring My Bell":


Beauty Is...

  "Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it." -Anonymous  I went outside tonight and found the waning moon in a glow surrou...