Saturday, March 21, 2009

Only one item this week.

Overheard on Camp Sawyer Trail

"They're trying to get her into some sort of special Montezuma school."


Friday, March 20, 2009

Photo of the day: Sorrow

People really used to know how to mourn.

Death has lost some of its ritual in contemporary society. No black armbands or windows with the shades drawn. It used to be the whole world knew you had lost someone. The trappings of sorrow marked you out and, in some ways, helped the world to treat you with gentleness. Now there is no way to tell when someone is grieving.

Monuments, too, have lost their monumentality. When my father died in the early 80s the cemetery he was buried in had already instituted a rule against standing memorials. Only flat stones. Ease of groundskeeping had taken precedent over art and tradition. No mausoleums. No tombs. No weeping angels or vigilant cherubs. Just a stone flush against the grass.

But back then, people really used to know how to mourn. As this sorrowful shot attests.

In the land of the rosary
I was raised Catholic. A strong Catholic family. Eight years of Catholic school. First Communion. Confirmation. Confession. Holy days. I received ashes on Ash Wednesday, got my throat blessed on St. Blaise Day, took palms on Palm Sunday and said the rosary when anybody died.

I stopped going to church in high school and honestly don't think I ever believed. But one thing I did like was rosary beads.

I never liked saying the rosary. All those endless Our Fathers and Hail Mary's. Kneeling for half an hour on uncomfortable wood. And it was always some sort of depressing occasion. But I loved the beads. When I was little I thought they were so beautiful. All the different types of beads, the colors and textures. Like jewelry. I wanted to wear them around my neck but was forbidden. They were sacred. Special. Not to be played with in spite of their enticements. And it seemed everyone in my family had a set that was so fitting to who they were.

My grandmother, the ascetic, had strong black beads, no-frills. Almost masculine in their holy simplicity. She kept them hanging from the post of her bed. Her room was just this side of a medieval chapel anyway, with a solemn wooden crucifix on the wall and a holy water holder hanging by the door. Every so often, when we went to church, she'd fill a small glass bottle with blessed water from the font at the door and use it to replenish the supply in her room. She would say the rosary on long road trips and once a week or so, sitting bolt upright in bed. Not the warmest of women, my grandmother.

My mother's set was blue. Fake crystals that shone in the light, with a silver crucifix hanging below. Hers were kept in her jewelry box. A white leather case filled with costume necklaces and earrings. The only real jewelry my mother owned, and still owns, is her beautiful wedding and engagement ring. Her beads were in a little velvet bag that nestled nest to her "aurora borealis" necklace and the green plastic clip-on shamrock earrings she wore once a year to our church's corned beef and cabbage dinner on St. Patrick's Day.

I don't recall mine as a child. I do know I have a set still hanging around. Two sets, actually. One of tiny pinkish beads in a small silver case. I have no idea where it is, but I do know I still own it. The other set is plain and cheap. I have no idea where it came from but I do know it lives in my sock drawer.

The last time I said the rosary was with this last set of beads. Husband's grandmother was raised Catholic. When she died I couldn't attend her funeral, which was not a Catholic mass. While the family gathered back east, I walked down to the local church. The same church where I had been baptized all those years ago, and said the rosary in her honor. She would have wanted someone to do that for her. So there I knelt, the old familiar beads in hand, and said the ancient words while my knees, once again, ached.
Cat of the week: Oslo

This week's CoTW is such a little heart-stealer that it's all I can do not to bring her home myself. Oslo is a tiny bundle of purr-fueled love. She can't snuggle close enough to suit her. She is small, cuddly, sweet, everything you'd want in a kitty. She's 2-years old, though she's so small you'll think she's a kitten. And so irresistible.

Oslo (ID #A442657) is one of those cats that just melts your heart. She looks at you with her big yellow eyes, purrs like a steam engine, curls into you and you become a puddle. Snatch her up before someone else does because this one is tremendously special.

You can find out more a the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA website.

I love this girl.
Photo of the day: The Easy Shot

Sometimes you just have to shut off your inner photographer and go for "pretty". Not that there's anything wrong with pretty, it's just not usually my style. But this view of Crystal Springs Reservoir on a beautiful day doesn't need any special effects or additional explanations. It's just a beautiful view, and one of the 8 million reasons why I love living in the Bay Area,

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hidden view

Hidden view, originally uploaded by DeccasWorld.

Taken through the trees up on the reservoir.

Lost and found
The universe create black holes in every home. Places where things appear and disappear. One moment you're turning the house over looking for your car keys, the next minute they're sitting in plain sight, right there on the table where you left them. Where you looked for them first, but they weren't there. Now they are. How does that happen?

Elves? Magic? No, as I said, black holes.

Black holes eat the book you are currently reading -- moving it from your bedside table, where you are sure you left it, to the top of your dresser, where it has no place to be. Black holes steal your shoes, vanish your checkbook, and have a particular fondness for magazines.

At times these black holes are extra mischievous. You will give up looking for green sweater and wear the blue one instead. Days later, when you are not looking for a sweater at all your green sweater will suddenly appear on the back of a chair.

When more than one person (or one person and one cat) share a home, it is easy to blame these disappearances on the other person. "What did you do with the scissors?" You will ask, only to be met with a blank stare and an assurance that the last time the scissors were used they were dutifully put back in the drawer where they belong. But from long experience I can attest that the other person is rarely at fault. It's the black hole.

After a week of looking for one particular book that I had all but given up on, I found it entirely unexpectedly on top of a bunch of other books -- where I am positive I searched days ago.

Damned black holes.
Photo of the day: Overhead

Taking the back way up to Sawyer Camp Road I crossed under the 280 bridge. This is what it looks like from the underside. It was a great day for walking and photos. I took nearly 300 at the reservoir. I tried to capture a hummingbird and got dozens of shots of blur. I tried to photograph a group of dear and got several pictures of brown blobs with ears. Sigh...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Photo of the day: Roots

Sometimes you just have to go back to your roots for inspiration. Go WAY back and I'm in France, Scotland, Canada. But come about the 1860s and my great-grand parents are in San Francisco. My grandmother lived through the 1906 quake. My grandfather was a San Francisco fireman who died on duty. My father was born in the city, went to high school, worked there, left for the army from there, came back and met and married my mother. The first place was in San Francisco, on Leavenworth and Clay. My elder siblings were born in SF. I went to college there, spent most of my college life there. Now I'm back in suburbia, but sometimes you just need to touch base with the city you respond to. For me, it'll always be SF.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In praise of the 21st century
I’ve been rewatching The Tudors on Showtime. Lovely eye candy. I mean it’s historically, well, hysterical. But the men are yummy to look at.

The other night I was thinking about what it would have been like to have lived back then and decided I was happy to be a 21st century woman. But today cemented it.

I woke up with a killer migraine this morning. I’ve been sick all day and only started to feel better about an hour ago. Serious pain. Nausea & vomiting. Swirling colors when I close my eyes. The cat walked across the bed and I cringed because the movement hurt. There was a blue jay in a nearby tree that I swear I would have shot had I been a member of the NRA. Eventually a few doses of Imitrix kicked in and I’m currently just OK. Still the fringes of a migraine. Still weak and wobbly. But nowhere near the pain I was in earlier. Sadly I had to cancel my St. Patrick’s Day special on KZSU, which sucks because I was looking forward to it.

But all I can say is thank god I live in a world with modern chemistry. With hot baths and penicillin. With shampoo and tampons and clean sheets and aspirin. I’m not talking about the luxuries (Ok, clean sheets are probably not one of life’s necessities, but they aredamned important.). But about the things in life that make life bearable. Thank god I don’t live in a time when a migraine would lay you in bed for a week while they bleed you because there was nothing else to do. When your mother would die in childbirth for lack of sanitary conditions. Where a minor flesh would could kill you due to infections that couldn’t be treated.

How lucky we are to live when and where we do. And how incredibly tragic that there are still places where these medieval conditions still exist. Where infant mortality is staggeringly high. Where poverty forces children to work in order to survive. Where simple things that we take for granted, like inoculations and dental care, are unbelievable luxuries.

How did we get so lucky?
Photo of the day: On the Fringe

Sometimes fringe is new. It swings when you brush by it. It might move when you do, or make a slight sound as beads knock against beads. It's fun. The swirl of a flapper dress. The accent on a tacky lamp.

But sometimes fringe is old. It is marble, immobile, serious. It adorns an angel or hangs in perpetual melancholy over plinth bearing a name and two dates.

Monday, March 16, 2009

First National Bank of Stupid
Now we all know banks are, especially these days, not known for their brilliance. But there's something going on with our bank that just makes me shake my head.

We'll call it the First National Bank of Stupid (or FNBS).

When Husband's beloved grandmother died, Husband was named as executor of her estate. To pay for estate costs, he opened an account at FNBS with our home address in the name of "The Estate of Greta Garbo". (No, that was not his grandmother's name, I'm just using it as an alias.)

So the only connection between our house and his grandmother's name was this account "The Estate of..." Now correct me if I'm wrong, but "Estate of Greta Garbo" means that Greta Garbo is dead. RIght? So why does FNBS keep sending credit card applications to Greta Garbo at our house?

Is this one of the reasons why banks are so seriously fuck up? Because they keep issuing Visa cards to the deceased? If I were of a larcenous bent I'd get the card, go on a spree, then inform FNBS that Greta is no longer with us, obviously did not apply for a card, and why are we responsible?

But I won't because I'm basically honest and definitely a coward.

But hey, FNBS "Estate of" means "not in a position to apply for a Visa card."
Photo of the day: Catspaw

From yesterday's Sphinx comes the paw of the beast. I really need to go back to Cypress Lawn when it isn't freezing and do more exploring.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More photos from the kitten nursery

By popular demand here are a few more shots of last year's residents of the first kitten nursery at the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA. It was such a success that we'll be doing it again this year and I can't wait to get back to it.

It'll take some doing to fit my regular cat duties in with taking care of kittens, but totally worth it. So I'm planning on spending probably 3 days a week there this spring and summer.

I look at these adorable guys and wonder how they're doing. If their people love them as much as we did. If they're still being fun and crazy. Did the curious little one grow up to be a great Discoverer? Is the shy girl still a bit tentative around new people? Is Butch, my favorite, even now trying to bring down paper towel rolls twice his size.

Training for the kitten nursery is starting soon. If you are in the SF Bay Area, you can find out more at the PHS website. Or you can make a donation to keep these and other valuable programs going,

And yes, I promise lots of new kitten photos once the nursery opens.
Photo of the day: The Original Riddler

Another cemetery trip today. Well, you know me and cemeteries. I cut it short because it was bloody cold up there. I'd actually gotten into the car and was heading out when Husband spotted this Egyptian tomb. I may add more photos later today for but now I'll just tease you with one of the guardian sphinxes. Impressive how money can make death so artistic, isn't it?