Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Season of Light

I was looking at recent images on my phone, and realized I must really like taking pictures with light sources in them.

At the Oakland Airport VERY early in the morning to catch a plane to San Diego (and then on to Texas) for Thanksgiving. You don't really expect to see an awesome sunrise while on the moving walkway, but there it was.

On our way to dinner in Oakland. You've got to love a theater that uses all that juice to protest increased parking fees.

I met my friend, Linda, in San Francisco recently for dinner, and we walked through Union Square on our way to the train. The skating rink had exactly one guy in it, and I'm pretty sure he was getting paid to skate around in an effort to entice more business.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Evil. Pure Evil.

I never know what to expect (weather-wise) when I go to Chicago in November, but (after rain the first evening) I got really lucky this time. Sunny, temps in the 50s and then even 60s on Sunday.

The Admissions staff for Columbia College Chicago Fall Open House was in the new Spertus Museum on Saturday, and it is really an amazing building. And you'd think I'd be used to spectacular lake views in Chicago after working downtown for several years and now staying with The Greatest Hosts Ever when I visit (thanks, Jason and Mike!) but they still take my breath away.

Looking out from the 10th floor of the Spertus.

Looking out over Belmont Harbor from the World's Greatest Hosts' fab pad.

I even had a chance for a walk along the lakefront, from Belmont up to Bill Jarvis Bird Sanctuary (nice walk, no binocs, no birds of note).

I saw so many friends and had a really great time. And then....

...O'Hare Airport, Terminal 3, K Concourse, women's restroom. These are mirrors when you stand in front of them, and ads when you're looking at them from an angle.

They charge you for bags, they won't give you any food, and now this.

Evil. Pure evil. And all the automatic faucets and soap dispensers in the world can't cleanse me of it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ikea Cast-offs: a Semi-Regular Recurring Feature?

The Dear Reader may be aware that I am not a huge fan of Ikea. For one thing, I don't eat meatballs, Swedish or otherwise. For another, I find going there extremely dispiriting, a cross between going to the airport and going on an endless tour of campus dorm room models. And, of course, there's the fact that it's all horribly cheap crap, designed to be in vogue one season and tossed out the next time you move. Or redecorate. Or get paid.

But after the tossing out, that's where I start to like Ikea. We now have six Ikea items in our house, each of which one of us has found abandoned on the curb. (We have lots of things in our house now that we've found abandoned on the curb, one of the benefits of living in an extremely ecologically-minded city with a large student population and a climate in which it is guaranteed not to rain for a large chunk of the year).

Here's my latest find: a metal table. Not sure where it's going to go yet, and we didn't really need it, but it was in perfect shape and I couldn't pass it up.

We also have two tables, the smaller of which is featured here. We have another one, just like it only much larger, that's currently in our kitchen. These two items were definitely the most work getting home of any of our Ikea cast-offs.

We also have two lamps, one of which is in the corner in this picture (kind of hard to see). The shades were not in great shape; one of them was so bad we threw it away, but then Brian found a shade that fit it one day - where else? on the curb in our neighborhood. Ikea? We're not sure about that one. The final item is a lime-green waste basket (that one was easy to get home).

So, do you have any Ikea cast-offs? Send me an email, with text or a picture, and I'll put it my blog.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Can I just ask a question, please? Why would you develop ice cream flavors based on your coffees, make a big deal of calling them coffee free, and then put an asterisk next to the words "coffee free" and put a tiny disclaimer in the corner that says "not a caffeine-free food"? Just, WHY? Ladies and gentlemen, that does not make sense!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Vacation? What Vacation?!

My plan to quickly get up a series of posts about our vacation while it was still fresh in my mind has, of course, gone by the wayside even more quickly. I do have photos up on my flickr page:

But, in the spirit of Better Late Than Never, here are some photos from the early part leg of the trip.

On our way north to Oregon, we stopped off for lunch at William B. Ide adobe State Historical Park, where there were lots of picnickers with dogs, and a family of wild turkeys. There was an adobe house, too, but it was not the original one, and in my opinion the dogs and the turkeys were far more interesting.

We spent the first night in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and attended meeting at Klamath Friends Church on Sunday.

In Klamath Falls, we spent some time pondering how, exactly, recliners, mattress sets and tables were different from sofa's and loveseat's and therefore merited different punctuation.

From there we went north, and made a couple of stops in the Klamath Basin. This photo is from Klamath Marsh, where we saw a Black Tern (one of several lifers on this trip).


Here's our cheese shot at Crater Lake (see previous post for more shots from Crater Lake).

The Rogue River, at a place called Natural Bridge. We would not have stopped at this place but for a tip from the guy who gassed up our car in Prospect, where we stayed while visiting Crater Lake. Awesome spot, there a place where the river flows through a big lava tube, making a natural bridge (get it?).

Mountains! With explanatory displays!

On to Portland!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Crater Lake Blue

I hope to get up a series of post about our last vacation without too much delay. I have some great photos (which are also up on my flickr page:, though I'm not done organizing them yet) and probably-not-so-great thoughts to share.

One of the things that was most memorable was Crater Lake. It was little bit like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time; you know all about it, and have seen pictures, but nothing can prepare you for the reality. Crater Lake is such an intense blue that you can't help but stare and stare, and take LOTS of pictures. I'll restrain myself here and only present a few.

Starting with my favorite one of just the water:

This is overlooking Wizard Island.

Scenic Crater Lake, with snow!

And more snow! Here's Brian on a big pile of it.

More soon.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

Spring has sprung, and I've been trying to get out and take advantage of it in various ways.

Got to watch some bird banding action at Richardson Bay Audubon Center. The woman is disentangling a Bewick's Wren that caught itself caught in the mist net. For the second time, apparently, as it had already been banded, so they recorded the date, time, and location and sent him on his way.

Morty and I went to see some artists who were have Open Studios near our house. Unfortunately, he could not come in with me, but he found a nice spot to wait for my return.

Kitten season is upon, and this friendly little calico was hanging around a block or so from our house recently. Sure, I already posted this on my Facebook page, but, really, could you see this picture too many times?

Brian consults Sibley's while Morty tries to figure out why we made him go on a forced march at Briones Park on Memorial Day. He thinks it's hot when it gets over 65 degrees, good thing he doesn't live in Indiana anymore.

I took a mosaic workshop recently at the Institute of Mosaic Art in Oakland, where there are many amazing mosaiced things to see.

This is my own feeble effort at a stepping stone, done in the "Exterior and Garden Applications" class.

And, out of the blue, on the sidewalk on 8th Street near the new Berkeley Bowl - tidings from the Old Country! How this plastic bag from Nebraska wound up in Berkeley, California I'll never know.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Ladies of the Needle

We have a knit/crochet club at Berkeley Friends Church that meets once a month, and I'm once again learning to crochet (my friend Felice tried to teach me once, many years ago, but I didn't keep at it and never learned much). One of our sometime attenders in this club suggested that we call our selves "The Ladies of the Needle," which has a certain ring to it but also sounds a bit like a knock-off of a John Le Carre novel.

Anyway, today Dorothy brought the quilts that her mother had made to show us, and they were so amazing that we all started taking pictures. And here they are:

This one is all done with Hawaiian print fabric squares.

Detail shot of same.

Dorothy shows us the second quilt she brought.

This one is actually laid out on the first one, the peach and dark blue that look like borders on it are the borders from the first quilt.

Detail from the second quilt. They were both totally awesome! I have a couple of quilts that my grandmother Strait made, but they are not in good repair. I actually used to use them as quilts - imagine that!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Ah, Red Velvet Cake. It holds a special place in my heart, because, well, because it holds a special place in the folklore of me and my friends. There's the B.W. Red-Velvet-Cake-vomiting story (in which scenario he gets drunk, eats red velvet cake, vomits it up, and his friends insist on taking him to the hospital, not realizing that the reason for his velvety red vomit is, in fact, red velvet cake), the J,-and-M.-order-red-velvet-cake-for-dessert-after-breakfast story (after which Brian waits at least a full hour, until we're alone, to turn to me and exclaim, "CAKE!!?!??!?." And, if that weren't enough, there's This is Why You're Fat, with it's chocolate velvety balls.

So, imagine my joy when I saw this at Yogurtland (self-service frozen yogurt, 30-cents and ounce!). I hate to say it, but that particular flavor of frozen yogurt isn't that great, and not even particularly evocative of red velvet cake (though maybe it is of the batter, which I've never sampled). Still, as conceptual art, it can't be beat.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Every day has it's share of oddities. It's only when they come one after another that you start to notice them.

I went to San Francisco today (DSW gift certiicate for Christmas - thanks Dad and Chris!), and what a beautiful day to go shopping; it was a glorious, sunny day even in clammy, foggy, SF.

Anyway, while I'm grooving on the Muni Bus with a MacDonald's ad in Vietnamese...

...suddenly I find myself in the middle of a quite massive anti-war rally.

I hang with them for a while, and then peel off to go to the DSW, where I have the odd pleasure of being able to stop in the middle of Geary Street downtown and take a picture, because the police have traffic stopped and no cars can go through.

So, I spend my gift certificate (thanks again, Dad and Chris!), hit the Body Shop on my way back to BART (where I stop, of course, at Beard Papa's for a chocolate cream puff), get on the train and go back to the East Bay. I get off at MacArthur, and - honest to God - there's a guy busking (am I spelling that right - as in playing for money?) on an upright piano. He's going to town on some very bombastic classical piece - it might have been Rachmaninoff, but I'm no expert - and people are practically throwing money at him.

I go home and decide to take Morty out for a quick walk. We see our good friend, the long-haired cat Sylvester, who lives at the end of the block. This is quite a treat, because we haven't see him in a few days and were starting to worry (well, at least I was). Turns out on the kids in the family that owns him tried to trim the huge mats he had behind his ears and accidentally cut him, so they had to take him to the vet and get him stitched up (and, thankfully, get the mats trimmed - they really were bad). Poor guy is sporting several stitches in blue surgical thread; it looks like someone tried to cut his throat (though he really didn't want to let me take a picture of it, and my cameraphone probably wouldn't have been up to it anyway).

So Morty and I continue our trek around the block, and we find this outside the house of the Chinese family that owns that dry cleaner around the corner from our house.

They're big drying racks, enclosed in mesh, and I think it's chicken strips that they're full of.

And poor Morty went absolutely nuts, because he couldn't find the meat! I guess it just goes to show you that everything evens out in the end. Some days you find a half a brat on the sidewalk, and other days you just can't find the large quantities of chicken strips hanging right over your head.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Little Taste of Winter

Had a lovely few days in Chicago recently, working Columbia College Chicago's Spring Open House. Temps in the 30's (that's below zero in California!), dirty snow, good food, good friends and I get paid for it! The only downer was that I only got to see my dearest friends (and perennial hosts) Jason and Mike for a few minutes. I guess they'll have to come out here so we can catch up.

Here's are some photo highlights of my visit:

Sunrise over Lake Michigan.

In the new Media Production Center at 16th and State Streets

In a flower shop on Broadway, buying flowers for my hosts

Saw The Hurt Locker on Sunday afternoon (just in time to be able to feel a totally vicarious thrill when Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar the very next night) at the Logan Theater, two blocks from my very first apartment in Chicago. Clearly they have not redecorated since the last time I was there (and several decades before).

Same view as above. One day you can see practically all the way to Indiana, and the next day you're in a Star Trek episode. Heavy fog off the Lake; I kept expecting to look out and see faces pressed up against the glass.

Did everyone know that Elvis Costello has a cable show now where he jams with and interviews other musicians, dressed as a hillbilly fop?

Flight out of O'Hare delayed? It's time to treat yourself to a spinach salad with baby beets, and a nice glass of wine at Wolfgang Puck's. Celebrate that extra hour in the Windy City!