Jackie Link's Blog

- A blog for no good reason

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Year's end

I really, really love my city rides with all their amazing happenings along the way.

It was cold. Grey, white, blank cold. (But not like, say, Denver cold.) I had Judy's telephoto lens to try out and the light was unbelievably bad, so dark and gloomy it was hardly worth taking pictures. And, unless something was a mile away, her lens is more than I could use, so I put my regular lens back on for the rest of the day.

(The one tree in dense fog behind the bridge is well over 4 miles away and I can even make out tourists along the ridge.)

I stopped for hot soup at the Blue Danube on Clement after circling the waterfront, meeting Laura in Crissy Field for a few minutes and then riding through the old tree-lined roads in the Presidio.

The Green Apple bookstore was having a warehouse sale and I bought a book of Musee d'Orsay paintings for very little.

I then rode into Golden Gate Park and locked my bike in front of the de Young Museum so I could wander through the Band Concourse, watching some young men learn their new game (bocci ball?), the balls the only color there.

A man was playing classic Spanish guitar in front of the de Young while I did my picture taking.

I know it's a cliche, but looking at how the inside and outside works in reflections fascinated me as I walked along the outer wall of the new de Young and took these photos. I don't think the boy could see me taking his picture; I think he, too, was looking at the reflections inside. The other photo looks into the gift shop and also shows the crane at work on the new Academy of Sciences across the Concourse behind me.

I'm sitting here processing images from the day, wondering how I can write something for my blog to be able to use them. What the hell am I taking all these images for if I can't use them? (Well, I do enjoy this digital darkroom business.)

(Click photos to enlarge - back arrow to return)

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ride to shoot

Judy and I took our bikes to Woodacre to do the Pt. Reyes Stn. loop today and we both brought our new cameras along, intending to learn more about them, so we stopped often. We didn't see any salmon in the river, other than this sign.

My leg warmers are too big, as are my shorts, now that I've lost a few pounds (and my muffin-top waist) and they kept dropping down around my knees, no matter how high I pulled them up, either inside or outside my shorts. When we first started it was quite cold, so it bothered me no end until I had them pulled so high that they'd stay up longer.

This is me in front of the "knuckle hills," which I keep trying to photograph; there's always something in the way, or it's midday and boring light, or I'm riding too fast to stop.

Judy still has her older Canon film SLR, with some long lenses that I can try out, so we stopped by her place to get them. She's in the middle of a remodel and I was stunned by the extent of the reconstruction: walls and ceilings, gone! She warned me, but Wow!

Since getting home I've fooled around here in my house, seeing what I can get using available light at night. These silk sunflowers brighten up my kitchen sink.

I think I'll go on another photo safari tomorrow, play with my new toy.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Tactical error

I've made worse mistakes, but hardly any as aggravating as today's. I was to meet Jane for a movie at the new cineplex downtown, where the old Emporium used to be and where there is now a Bloomingdale's. Usually, I would ride my bicycle but I had a paranoid foreboding last night that it would be stolen if I did, so I drove, planning to park in the 5th/Mission garage. Ha! After 45 minutes of sitting in gridlock, about to run out of gas and no nearer to getting in that garage, I called Jane to cancel. Next time I fear for my bike's safety I will take a bus or walk. In fact, at about 2.5 miles from my house I could have walked all the way much faster!

Photo: Pumpkins from yesterday, having nothing to do with today's story, except that I like them and wanted an image here.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Day on the coast

Elizabeth, here from Massachusets for the holiday week, and I drove over to Princeton-by-the-Sea and walked north of the jetty, where I've never been before. It was fairly warm, not too windy.

After lunch we went to San Gregorio State Beach and walked some more before heading inland, stopping at Phipps Ranch to look at the different varieties of dried beans for sale and all kinds of birds in aviaries in the back greenhouse, a truly amazing assortment of both.

Going back over the mountain we took Pescadero Road, hoping to see the candycane and pink flamingo display, but sadly, the house in the redwoods appears to have been sold and all but a few flamingos are gone. This is a photo I took on a rainy day a few years ago.

Earwig in my coffee

I'm going to drink it anyway. I think it was already dead, unable to climb back out of my cup. Or maybe the scalding coffee temporarily stunned it and now it's crawling out of my sink. . .nope. It's dead.

Speaking of my cup: yesterday I left it empty on the kitchen table while Sibyl was on her basket next to the table; next thing, I heard it crash to the floor. She hates that cup. It still didn't break and that's her third cup toss. The good news is her Lupron shot worked and she's back to her old playful, if sometimes destructive, self.

The wind seems to have stopped, at least here on my hill. The sun is shining. Elizabeth is visiting from Mass. and we'll probably trek to the ocean and wander the city today.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Remember, it's Monday today

Whenever a holiday falls on a Monday, and there will be two in a row, it throws me off. The garbage collector company called to say they'd be collecting a day later (they use the same computer-generated system as politicians, apparently), and then there's the car to be moved across the street for street cleaning on Tuesday night---reminder: that's tomorrow night.

It did not rain today as predicted two days ago and we did the Velo Girl's sponsored Christmas Orphans' Ride as planned, with me riding Sweep. I think I rode all the hills at least twice, picking up the slower riders, most of whom then turned homeward early. The sun even broke through near the end and it was super. I enjoyed it a lot. Afterwards, Theresa and I found an open Starbuck's and had a snack and good visit.

(wild parrots as ornaments - click for more photos)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Riding through the holidays

Yesterday I was to meet beginning riders for the Mellow Vello ride and, because they changed the hour without my noticing, I was an hour late. I thought no one had shown this cold holiday weekend.

So, instead of riding to Woodside, I went north - alone - to ride the Sawyer Camp Trail, taking my new camera in hopes of learning how to use it better. I stood off to the side under a canopy of trees where it was pretty dark and cold, but perfect for photos (bright sun/deep shade is a major challenge).

I stopped at the Jepson Laurel, with its heavy coat of moss. This was the 2nd largest laurel before its 22 ft. circumference was split in a storm when this heavy limb fell.

Today, sans camera, I met the Sunday club ride and we rode the Tiburon loop. The bridge shadow on the Marin Headlands had moved over the one tree. Like the chia turtle, this is an image I can be done with (those sprouts are still growing, by the way).

Too bad a storm is moving in (probably) to spoil tomorrow's city ride.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Shake, Rattle & Roll

(click to enlarge - back arrow to return)

Last night my world suddenly jerked, sharply. I knew instantly it was an earthquake and froze, waiting for what would come next. I've lived in this cottage on a hill of serpentine rock for 34 years and this is the first time I've felt a quake here.

When I was maybe fifteen and cutting class to smoke pilfered cigarettes with friends, while sitting on my textbook on a hillside of wet grass, I was thrown off the book by a shaker (and got a wet butt). We laughed a lot. I always thought earthquakes were fun things until 1989, when, while at work in the E.R., I watched the Bay Bridge collapse and the Marina catch fire on our emergency generator-powered television; and where I spent the night waiting for what would come next.

I think that these are reminders, important reminders, not to take what we have at any given moment too seriously: it could all disappear in an instant.

Today I was riding my bike along the San Andreas Fault where a dam has made a long lake - a reservoir for our city's water - down this fault-defined valley. As I ride across it, I think of that aging dam and wonder: what will come next?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Parrot eggs & Poinsettias

(Click to enlarge photos - back arrow to return)

Sibyl had another hormone shot to stop the egg-laying after she'd laid egg number four this morning. This will probably continue to be a problem and I'll have to take her back for another shot when her next breeding behavior begins, hopefully, not for six months. Golden eggs, indeed.

It's a perfectly beautiful day outside and all I've done is some bookkeeping and vet visiting, and in between I made a sumptous image of the blooming poinsettia tree from my back window. I'm contemplating making a holiday card to send my friends - nah, that'll never happen, I might as well put it here.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

North Beach holiday

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I know someone who did a much better photo at this location and I expect to hear from his attorney for copyright infringement any minute now, but may I suggest that my shopping-cart man gives me some standing.

(Update: He's asking for 5k euros to settle out of court. Uh oh.)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Color coordination

My best-ever bruise exactly matches my jersey; too bad it's so cold, no one else will see it. Click x2 to enlarge and get the full color spectrum!- except Jill, who can't stand seeing her mom hurt. (Happy Birthday, Jill!)

But what's so weird, I don't even remember that part of me getting hit - I thought my face would be black and blue and it's just fine.

What d'ya think, should I take up cyclocross and see how many more bruises I can collect?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mishaps and eggs

I'm waiting for my parrot to eat. We're, unfortunately, a flock of just two and she waits for me to be around before she'll eat much. I have a weighted basket on a T.V. tray next to my computer for her. But as soon as I put her there, instead of eating, she laid her third egg - and then she began eating.

This photo, again of the shadow on the Marin headlands from the bridge, is of interest because the shadow has moved higher towards that one tree as the sun has gone almost as far south as it will go for the year; it turns back north this coming Thursday. Later in the ride, coming off Camino Alto at high speed I hit a pothole hard enough to throw that little camera out of the Bento Box. All it's compartments came open, the battery flew out and the flash card was showing. But, it still works just fine, no worse for the wear.

On the way back there weren't too many tourists on the bridge so I was going full-speed-ahead when the one tourist coming my way decided to turn in front of me. I did a face plant somewhere on her bike as we hit straight on. I'll have some interesting bruises but am otherwise fine. The bike has a brake turned in and some cosmetic damage. Dogs, kids and tourists: all as unpredictable as Brownian motion, it's just the way it is.

Sibyl is done eating, time for our shower.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Today I ran errands and shopped, using my town bike. First I went to Sheila Moon's warehouse sale - wearing my Velo Girl's jacket made by her - but I already have more than enough cycling clothes and didn't buy anything. I next went a few blocks to the Jewelry & Gift Center with a gift pass, wandered around a bit looking at diamonds and gold (whatever for?). Boring. Bought some groceries and came back home. It was cold out there, but my sleek, part-wool jacket really kept me toasty. I must say, it looks hot, doesn't it?

This afteroon, I spent some time with my eggnant parrot, due any minute with a third egg.

Later, I took about 60 exposures with my older camera, trying to find the right balance between Exposure Compensation and Flash Exposure for taking the team photo inside a bike shop tomorrow. (The photo of me looking like Bat Girl was before I'd figured it out.) I'm glad for the challenge because it's made me finally work on that, instead of just fixing an inadequate exposure in Photoshop later. The new camera has way too many challenges to deal with right now; I'll use the old camera tomorrow.

I know, I said we were done with the chia sprouts, but they just keep growing, looking more like a porcupine every day.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Found me a sailor

I threw both cameras into my new sling pack - it fits bandoleer style, like a messenger bag - and took the Cannondale out for a fast ride across the bridge. I realized too late that I didn't have enough to eat to tackle the headlands, so I turned around at the Visitor Center on the Sausalito side. I was actually just finding out if I could carry camera gear with this pack and, indeed, it's perfect, weighs no more than a full CamelBak, and rides much better. After the first mile I didn't even know it was there, which I can't say for the backpack style of the hydration systems.

But, wouldn't you know, I hadn't changed the camera settings (when not using Auto) and while fooling around, managed to still shoot in B&W, set for Tungsten light, ISO 1,600. I can shoot at f32, up to 1/4,000 sec. And, in spite of my odd settings, got a fairly decent image.

So, this Lone Sailor got a workout from me today. He reminds me of the guy who lived across the street when I was a young teen. Chuck. I had such a crush on Chuck.

(Click to enlarge - back arrow to return)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Almost rain

(Click to enlarge - back arrow to return)

Does it count as riding in the rain if you have to wipe off your glasses constantly to be able to see? I took the old touring bike for a spin - it has fenders and likes the wet streets better than others - and rode as fast as I could around the waterfront and up into the Presidio. As I headed west it got wetter and wetter and I didn't care. The wet mist in the cypress and eucalyptus was moody, dramatic, wonderful. I had both cameras with me but didn't want to spoil the good ride by stopping.

As I was speeding along the Great Highway I heard my name - it was Judy and Bob, out for their noontime run, escaping work at the V.A., not far away on the hill by Land's End. It was too cold to stop long but I quickly showed my new camera to Judy.

I stopped at the windmill and took a photo. I wasn't the only one, there was another diehard out with her tripod, no less. From there I rode into the park further, looping around Stow Lake where I took today's favorite pic. (The windmill, while interesting, was inadvertently shot at ISO 1,600 tungsten B&W, a setting I was trying last night at home and forgot to change.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Vegetable soup and portraits

I'm taking a break from reading most of the day. I made a huge pot of vegetable soup after getting groceries this morning. It's very wet outside and foggy, too, but not raining hard. When I wasn't cooking I was reading info re my new camera and trying things out.

I tried using the self-timer, practicing for taking team photos later this week and that didn't work out very well - it's hard to focus at the right place, and the ones with really sharp detail are just too depressing to show. I do understand why women my age pay megabucks for nips and tucks.

Recently, a real photographer took photos of me in Paris, which nearly unhinged me. He said something like, "You'll like them in ten years." I could have killed him. But, of course, he's right. This face won't get any better; it will get a whole lot worse before I'm done.

So, I've taken the first in the series of revealing self portraits. Click to enlarge - you'll see what I mean - though this is the best of the bunch! But I'll save the others to look at in ten years, see if he's right.

I will try to get used to this old face and age as gracefully as I can. (What does gracefully mean? To quit whining?) I tell my young friends that from the inside looking out I have no idea that I'm an old person. I don't feel at all old. I am, without a doubt, in better shape now, mentally and physically, than at any other time in my life. Like, who knew this scowling, miserable child with skinny legs would finally be a happy person in old age? (Still with skinny legs. Big butt, skinny legs.)

Mirrors and cameras are not my best friends. How old do you have to be before you quit being vain?

End of (chia) story

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Finally, my package...

...arrived a half-hour before I had to go out for the day, with just enough time to open it and set its battery to charging. Did I say what it was? Guess not. It's a new camera, and now the fun begins. Without getting out of my new chair I took it for a spin, figuring out how to shoot in almost no light and still get a bright, sharp image. This is only because I didn't feel like moving and a flash is too easy.

So, in case you wondered how he's doin', here's another shot of my chia turtle.

Monday, December 11, 2006


My package is stalled in Oakland where it landed on Saturday. I really thought it would come today and I'm disappointed. I hate waiting. Tomorrow I will be out all day and it will probably come while I'm gone, but he won't leave it and then I'll either have to wait two days or go find it somewhere. Sometimes the delivery person can't find my hidden cottage and the company calls me and I direct them in. Today I put a sign on the fence using an old FedEx envelope and wrote my house number and "Back House" in big letters. After dark I left the porch light on (they often come at night).

The chia sprouts are growing taller and I'll take another photo tomorrow. Bet you can hardly wait, I know I can't.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

While photographing my stupid chia turtle in front of my computer monitor, the image I made yesterday came up on my screen saver, which gave me the idea of shooting both. I'm not bothering with a tripod so the relatively long exposures aren't very sharp, but good enough for government work. (Light is from three directions: a 13 watt bulb, the monitor and a distant window.)

I overdid the seeds and they're bunching up in lumps and looking freakier and freakier. I'll probably have to start over. As gardens go, mine is pretty pathetic.

The sun came back out after I'd wasted too much time on my turtle and I walked down to Farley's, thinking I'd sit with a left-over Sunday paper and a cup of coffee, see how the neighborhood is doing.

No one left their Sunday paper, so I made do with the Guardian. Sitting inside, I noticed the window above Bloom's Bar across the street and got out my camera. (Click image to see sign.)

Watch out, world, you're not safe from my prying eye.

(Click photos to enlarge - back arrow to return)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rain, rain

No riding tomorrow. I can't run away on my bicycle.

I shouldn't complain, we've had extraordinarily good weather for many weeks, but I'm restless after a day doing laundry and not much else. I tried drawing, didn't feel like it. I'm in that in-between place where I tell myself it's O.K. to do nothing in particular. But I'm not comfortable doing nothing. I read for a while. I try not to snack.

Leaving the laundromat a man called after me, "Is your name Jackie?" It was Kevin, from many, many years ago. He still lives on a houseboat in Mission Creek, where I once got called in the wee hours of the morning to come rescue him and Beverly when the sailboat they were sleeping in sank. (I was staying in Beverly's cottage while Jill's father was staying at my place to visit her.) That was a strange time for all of us.

I'm waiting for a package and can track its progress from Topeka, Kansas to the FedEx sorting center in Fort Worth, Texas, where it arrived at 10:00 this morning; I can check its progress from there at the end of the business day. I think the Internet is so cool.

The wind is blowing hard against my cottage, slamming rain on my windows, making the storm sound ominous.

I reworked the Heads from a few days ago (see 12/6) to bring out the highlights better. This virtual darkroom is even more exciting than the Internet. Every time I manipulate an image I think of Ansel Adams working his negatives, and of his Zone System, which he taught at my art school, but which, I've been told, he could never get to work in class. He would love Photoshop!

There's bound to be a silver lining, right? If I can't run away, if I can't pedal, pedal, pedal, I will have to look at white paper; I will have to deal with it. Once I push past this monumental resistance, I'm generally glad and can then do some work. Not very good work, though a line here and there will please me, just work. But, truth be told, I'm more interested in working a camera.

My package left Ft. Worth at 15:38 and was in Oakland at 17:06. Both must be local times; surely it can't move that fast. Will they deliver on Sunday?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Chia sprouts

I did get fresh chia seeds and started over on my turtle on Wednesday (or was it yesterday?) and the new seeds have begun to sprout. They're now at a creepy stage, looking like little aliens up close, and I'm already sorry I started this project. I'm experimenting with different camera settings and using the timer to take long exposures, so even though the images are boring, they're informative.

The rain is back, but I did get a good ride in this morning before it started. I picked up this leaf on the way home.

Ho Hum.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Controlling the image ( the drama)

(Click to enlarge photos - back arrow to return)

I was frustrated on Sunday, trying to shoot in impossible light (my choice of location, so I shouldn't whine) - bright sun and deep shade combo - and finally read some more about my camera and, lo and behold! there is an "M" for manual, one can have complete control over shutter speed and aperture, just like with my old SLRs. So, today I gave the M-dial a whirl and experimented with these odd heads resting along the Embarcadero. One was taken at one extreme of aperture and shutter speed and captures a flat but deep depth of field, the other plays with the light, instead, and goes for shallow depth, stressing just the interesting subjects. I am so stoked to discover this control. (I always knew it was possible, just never took the time to work it out.) Of course, this means I have to do the thinking more often from now on and, if my past SLR history is anything to go by, that wasn't always so good - but, hey, wasting film is no longer an issue. What fun!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I'm putting this photo here for no good reason, other than I like it. It was taken inside the Legion of Honor last week.

Maybe the tears reflect how I feel about "routine maintenance" on my old Mazda, which, after you add up brakes and tires and battery and windshield wipers and transmission work, comes to more than the car is worth. I drive so few miles a year that it doesn't make sense to buy a new car, at least not until they make something more eco-friendly (I won't hold my breath). If I didn't live on such a steep street, over 18% grade, so far from city transit options, I'd junk it and just bicycle 100%. I probably bike at least 80-90% of the time as it is.

After taking it to the shop this morning I rode over to the Conservatory of Flowers - it's not a good time to go, nothing much is in bloom except a few water lilies. But it was a gorgeous day, easily in the 70s in the sun.

(Click to enlarge photos - back arrow return)

Monday, December 04, 2006

My new chair

Judy is remodeling and gave me her beautiful leather chair and ottoman this weekend. My bird-bit, gray leather chair first went on the sidewalk with a "Free" sign on it and when it was still there today I loaded it into the Mazda and took it to the Community Thrift Store where it went right out. I didn't see what they got for it, I was busy buying wicker baskets for Sibyl to tear up. (She laid, or rather, dropped, a second egg yesterday, which also broke.)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dreaming up words

I woke up thinking I’d dreamt up the word obverse. The context was complicated and immediately lost, but I woke up while explaining to who-knows-who, “it means to flip the image.” I wonder where I’ve ever seen or heard the word that it would appear in a dream.
Much to my surprise, it is in Webster’s: adj. 1. facing the observer; on the top or front side. 2. narrower at the base than the top. —noun 1. the side of a coin bearing the head or main design. 2. counterpart.

Today I’m taking the Cannondale on CalTrain to Menlo Park, meeting a mixed group for a ride and lunch. Afterwards, I’m going to stop at Kit’s new place and then take the train home. The hard part will be doing all this without a change of shoes or clothes because I can’t carry anything on that bike. Hmmm. Hope I don't freeze.

This photo was taken Thursday at the Legion of Honor. I like windows and doorways, especially in museums, but it can be difficult to get all the angles lined up right because I usually tilt the camera a bit.

The chia seeds haven’t sprouted yet; it’s been three days since I started them and maybe they're too old; I think I've had them more than a year. I'll wait another day before getting new seeds and starting over.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Phone Spam

What are the odds that your landline phone, your purse-bound cell phone and your computer-based Skype phone would all ring, one right after the other? I quickly hung up my landline to answer my cell—dig, dig, dig in my purse—and was just finishing that call from the kitchen when the distinctive Skype ring started in my office—search for headset, plug it in just in time for it to quit ringing. Out of the three, not one was personal. Spam via phones. Very bizarre.

I brought this turtle back from Oaxaca, not knowing then that it was meant for growing chia sprouts, but now I try to remember to plant it in the winter. I'm going to photograph the process each day, see what I get. I have to do it early in the morning before the light moves away from the one window I can use.

Yesterday's Bust

I had lots of plans for yesterday and all but one or two came up empty and weird, and they all involved going across the bridge to the east bay - now you see how that, right there, could get weird, right?

I needed to get Sibyl some fresh food in Lafayette; they were all out. I planned to spend a few hours in the Oakland Museum; it was closed. I had a few other errands to run before meeting Leah at the Paramount Theatre to hear Jared Diamond speak, but they'd only take a few minutes and now I had five (5!) hours to kill in a place where it is still true: there's no there there.

I hung out in a strip mall on Pleasant Valley Road after driving by the Grand Lake Theatre, hoping there'd be a movie I could go to (nope), testing low-end models of DSLR cameras, buying a Safeway sandwich to eat in the car, blah, blah, blah. It got dark and cold while I tried to read, waiting, waiting for time to pass. I'd already driven by the Paramount so I already knew it sat in an urban wasteland, nothing whatsoever nearby, not even a Starbuck's!!!! - only a sad Sears department store, where the clerks spent their time talking to each other, ignoring the one or two other people in the entire huge place.

Finally, the Paramount's doors opened and I went in - and what a spectacularly opulent Art Deco palace it is! I'm glad I stuck it out, it was worth every minute of my wait. Leah was already there so we visited until lecture-time.

Jared Diamond was Jared Diamond; he didn't say anything new or have anything too optimistic to add to the conversation about how the planet is in dire straits, etc., but it was interesting to see his comb-over in person. The audience was 99.9% white and mostly of a certain age. Weird.

So the day ended well, especially when I remembered to move my car across the street so I wouldn't get a ticket this street-cleaning morning.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Eggnant Sibyl

Oh, that little parrot of mine, Sibyl, has grown up and is acting out the Birds' half of the Birds & the Bees again. Since we're a flock of two she thinks I should be her mate. I discourage this, which means she has to be in another room for a while every day to get-over-it. In spite of not letting her have a nest she dropped an egg in her sleep-cage this morning. It broke, of course.