Jackie Link's Blog

- A blog for no good reason

Sunday, December 30, 2007

An ant here, an ant there

The ant scouts are wandering around in earnest. Before you know it I will have a column of ants a foot wide. They'll eventually find something they like, probably in my kitchen, and send word back to come and get it.

They haven't discovered my garbage yet - Oh, but they will.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Orphans' Ride

What a gorgeous day for a bike ride around the city! Thanks Lorri for making it happen and for taking the photos.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Muriel Castanis

Beverly asked me who had made the sculptures (as seen here from the 23rd floor) and by researching 580 California Street, I was able to identify the artist as Muriel Castanis. There is surprisingly little written about her, mainly, her obituaries.
New York Times 11.26.2006: In 1984 Ms. Castanis made three caryatids* to adorn the top of 580 California Street in San Francisco, a skyscraper and architectural landmark of the city designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee.

The youngest of six children, Ms. Castanis, born Muriel Brunner, grew up in Greenwich Village and discovered her love for art at Greenwich House, the settlement house where she would go to escape her family’s hectic, crowded cold-water apartment. She attended New York’s High School of Music and Art but did not start working as an artist until 1964, after 10 years as a full-time wife and mother of four.

She began by painting over subtle designs on fabric. She would smear Elmer’s glue on a board with a washcloth and paste the fabric onto it. But eventually she became more intrigued by the shapes formed by the dried washcloths, and turned to sculpture.

Her sculpturing career took off after a sold-out show in 1980 at OK Harris Works of Art in Manhattan, which represented her from then on.

In a 1990 review of her work in a joint show by nine sculptors, Vivien Raynor of The New York Times wrote, “Just as the Invisible Man was defined by his bandages, Muriel Castanis’s figures are the sum of the
ir classical draperies.”
and from The Villager:
….By 1967 she had developed her signature technique of draping layers of epoxy-soaked cloth over mannequins.

“The epoxy hardens after a half hour or 45 minutes, so that’s when most of her creative work was done. It became stone hard after 24 hours,” her husband said. The mannequin, around which the epoxy-cloth was draped, is removed in sections after the epoxy hardens, and the figures, which evoke the drapery on classical Greek statuary, are hollow.

In 1983, the architect Philip Johnson commissioned her to create sculpture for the top story of a skyscraper he was designing with John Burgee for 580 California St., in San Francisco. Three different heroic-size figures are repeated on each side of the building.

I hadn't realized they were on all four facades. I like them from the inside, looking out, over and through them, much, much better.

She died from lung cancer at the age of 80, in 2006.

* I had to look up caryatid - "Καρυάτις is a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support taking the place of a column or a pillar supporting an entablature on her head." (Wikipedia) These are not caryatids.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

New feathers

Sibyl is finally finished with the egg-laying cycle and is well into the molting-old-feathers, replace-with-new cycle. (See the clipped flight feather trying to fall out?) She's much more fun to have around - busily playing on the shelf, chewing up and rearranging her wooden blocks, shoving things off for me to fetch.

I'm waiting for her to get tired of it and then I will go out on my bike for a short ride.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

New boots, gravity

New boot and old Aunt Nonie boot
That was easy. R.E.I. never fails. But gravity probably explains why the bargain boots I wore yesterday were too small - my new boots are a half-size larger than I've ever worn before, so I guess my feet are getting bigger.


I'm getting shorter, too. Gravity always wins, I guess, if you get to live long enough to notice.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Truth at U.N. Plaza. Boots

Kaethe and I walked what seemed like many miles today, had lunch inside the Safeway (!) on Sloat, she made copies of a snow scene around their Pennsylvania home to send on greeting cards at Kinko's, I bought cheap sneakers to walk the miles back to her house because the boots I hoped would work, won't, and when I got home I started trying to repeat some Photoshop processes I learned last week and one works, the other doesn't. Back to the drawing board.

I need good walking boots for Paris because this time I won't have my bike; this time I will be trudging around the Musee d'Orsay and the Louvre, poor me. Tomorrow: R.E.I. Then, of course, I'll have to do an in-house hike, make sure they'll work.

Or, maybe I'll just take my nearly 30-year old Aunt Nonie boots. (My Aunt Nonie gave me birthday money one year and I bought hiking boots at the North Face factory store.) I love those boots, but they're really worn out. I got her money's worth.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

So NOT Christmas

They've put up very odd light fixtures in Union Square; this one replaces a very sci-fi looking slit globe, which I also photographed back when the Hearts were there.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

The cyclist's brain

on ferry from Lisbon
There's a show on KQED, being repeated often for pledge week, "Brain Fitness," which I started to watch last night, and the good news is that x-hours a week of aerobic exercise will likely hold senility at bay, and if you keep learning new things you can actually make new neurons. I do believe I've made lots of new neurons - life just keeps getting better.

When I say I'm cycling my brains out, maybe I should be saying I still have a brain because I cycle!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bloomin' dales

I did some more data entry at the SFBC, ate a picnic lunch in Union Square, rode around looking for a real Wells Fargo bank, not just an ATM, to cash my bookkeeping-job checks (my mad-money), after which I braved the new Bloomingdale's on Market - OMG - so that's where women who dress well go to get their clothes! - the first thing I looked at was a simple, well-cut, well-made basic black dress, marked down from $1,500 to only $897!

I put on my glasses and couldn't see, blamed it on having ridden my bike all over looking for the damn bank, kept rubbing my eyes and looking for spots on the glass, kept feeling disoriented and weird until I finally just started looking over the top of them.

That place was really, really confusing and hard to deal with. I liked the old Emporium with its creaky, wooden floors and dank, funky smell a whole lot better. And I think the old dome was prettier, too.

When I was growing up we would take the train up from San Mateo or San Carlos, my mother in white gloves and hat - me in my patent leather Mary Jane's, my little brother, Tommy, in his odd-fitting suit - to get our fall school clothes. We'd go again before Christmas, and again in the spring. It was such an adventure. Somehow, I don't think kids today get the same fun out of going to a mall.

This new downtown shopping center is a vertical mall.

Santa-land was deserted. In fact there were very few shoppers. Probably all at the Serramonte Target.

I escaped Bloomingdale's and, feeling so much better about the sinking dollar and what a bargain my trip will be compared to a well-cut, well-made basic black dress, I bought my euros. Yes, the dress would last longer, but where would I wear it?

Hours later, I discovered I'd taken my computer glasses for working at the Bicycle Coalition office, not my shopping, not my tourist's glasses, which I only need to read price tags and maps, but they have a different focal point, so when I tried to look around they didn't work right. That's a relief! I'm not losing my sight after all.

O.K., now you know what I look like without a helmet, with computer glasses, without makeup. The real me - except, along with Nora Ephron, I feel bad about my neck.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I liked the way this statue lady was just sitting there, a homeless man camped at her feet.

Someone asked me how to watermark an image so I found a recipe in a book and did it. This isn't digitally embedded watermarking, though my copyright is embedded in the metadata, but it would certainly keep an image from being purloined.

I've embossed it and made it transparent. Cool. (Click to see it better.)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Edges & limits

Yesterday I definitely found my limit for riding with my team - they plumb wore me out. When I occasionally had enough oxygen I could appreciate the roads we were on, but man-oh-man, that Sarah front-loaded (as she put it) the climbing - lots of climbing - into the first 12 miles and I don't warm up for at least a slow-paced twenty!

Because my legs are overcooked noodles today, I've been sitting here learning new stuff - like how to straighten out lens distortion - edges - and change part of an image from color to b&w (the PC monitor was showing a scanned slide of an old b&w image that had turned blue) - all good stuff to know.

Here's the Before - see how the shelves and everything else is a bit too warped? Fixed it. That will definitely come in handy.

So, that was my weekend. I'll ride, slowly, tomorrow.

Santa looking at Paul Wonner's "A Peaceable Kingdom" at the San Jose Museum of Art last Wednesday.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Art, again

I was in the San Jose Museum of Art most of today with Kit and Bev. They both remember artists' names and histories and I never do. I can't talk about art very well because of that.

I would rather do art than talk art, but that isn't happening in this life, in spite of wishing it were so.

Or maybe art is what happens when you do what you love and quit worrying about it. Yeah. I'll just keep making my images, see what happens.

And (I've already forgotten where I picked this one up, but it is my new mantra),

It's never too late to become what you might have been.

(See previous post: "On (not) being an artist.")

Monday, December 03, 2007


Last week was happily busy, too busy to even write about it. I scrubbed a carpet. I went to a talk by a woman from Jordan about cycling for peace in the Middle East (Follow the Women); a City Arts Lecture with Eric Schlosser and Orville Schell; to the Oakland Museum and Calif. College of the Arts galleries with Kit; did a lot of bookkeeping; did some data entry for the S.F. Bicycle Coalition and picked up the Tube Times (with my picture on page one - ahem); went to the symphony and MTT was being filmed for the PBS' "Keeping Score;" met some Team Velo Girls for a ride out of Woodside on Saturday; and then the Tiburon loop via Strawberry Point on Sunday; made plane reservations for Paris.

Oh, and last but not least, I rode in the dark to Winterfest last night, the SFBC's annual HUGE party. It was amazing to see so many cyclists from so many cultures - and so many came by bike that there was always a long line waiting to park, but well worth it.

Today all I did was laundry and pushed some pixels around. Here's a few pix I like.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

on Cameras, a Ride & a Race

Yesterday, I got it in my head that I needed to replace the old Canon S300, the one I take on my club bicycle rides, with an on-sale 7 mp model. BIG disappointment. But I discovered that I can do a whole lot more with that old camera and it really can't be beat for sharp. Too bad it's only jpg and only 2 mp.

(Once, when I hit a deep pothole on my bike, it flew out of my Bento Box holder, the CF card flew out, the battery flew out and I thought it would be toast, but it still works great; the body is steel - very dented - not plastic like the newer models.)

I took the new camera back this morning, and because I didn't say there was actually anything wrong with it, I got charged a 15% restocking fee. Dang. Lesson learned.

While again using my old camera, I realized it can be manipulated just like a dSLR - I'd never bothered to work it before. This, of Sibyl, was taken at very close range - a few inches - using available light from an 18-watt new-fangled fluorescent bulb, and hand held at 1/15 sec. (Most of this series has motion, of course, because Sibyl wasn't holding still). Other than some cropping, nothing much else was done to it. I'm quite impressed with that now antique Canon's capabilities.

Of course I do have a gorgeous model, IMHO.

I went riding with Judy today and as we were passing by the same corner at 25th & Bryant
where I'd tested the new camera yesterday, I stopped and repeated the series. My old camera is so much sharper and has an all-around better capture.

But back to the ride: We went up Twin Peaks via the Mission and then Chenery/Bosworth/O'Shaughnessy - much more climbing than necessary - and back down on Clarendon to 7th Ave. Clarendon is one mighty long, steep down hill run. Wonderful! We stopped in GG Park at the Children's Playground to use the head, and then as we went toward the beach on MLK we started running into cyclists and way more cars parked than would be expected - and I remembered the cyclo-cross race was today.

We stopped to check it out and a bunch of old teammates hollered Hello, we chatted, but then left to have lunch. We got back in time for the last Cat B race. That's where I got such good pix last year, but, alas, my camera battery wasn't up to it (nor would I have gotten much of interest, anyway).

And now I can't find the old pix, just this one. I really do have to get cataloging software!

Friday, November 23, 2007

One tree, gone!

How very odd. As I was riding on the bridge this morning I was thinking about the one tree, trying to remember what kind it was - thinking, yes, it must be some sort of eucalyptus, planted, not native - when I looked up and saw that now, suddenly, there is NO TREE.

I was dismayed. The ridge looked so dull, so naked without it. I could see the tourists lined up, looking back down at me. I was on my way to Tiburon, but decided that on my way back I would climb up to the site and see if I could find out why it had been removed - though I knew, as a non-native, the powers that be would not want it there anymore.

And I was right about that. There was a sign stating August - October 2007. . ."Removal of selected non-native trees that compromise the health of habitat used by the federally endangered mission blue butterfly."

O.K. I can live with that.

Now, when I look up I will look for a butterfly. Who knows, some day I may see one.

But I will miss the one tree.



Tuesday, November 20, 2007


While I was out walking yesterday I came across these leaves. They look like leather.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A whole lot of fog

Not much sun, no rain, just cool, gloomy days. It's a good thing I like to push the pedals no matter the weather.

Yesterday there was sun on my east side of the city for a while, but today I don't think our low cloud bank moved away at all.

I rode with the Velo Girls on the Tiburon loop this morning and we had a good ride. As we passed through the Sausalito/Mill Valley marsh we came across people in hazmat suits looking for oil; later in the morning on our way back they were gone but I saw a pristine white Great Egret stalking its lunch. We missed the guy tap-dancing across the bridge on the pedestrian side. Darn!

(The photo is from a garden in Tokyo on another gloomy - but very hot & humid - day.)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Riding the ridge

Persimmon leaves
I left the house early to ride to down the peninsula via Skyline and the Sawyer Camp trail, which is wonderful on a weekday when you have it almost to yourself. But the fog was very thick and wet for the first twenty miles, the sun only breaking through for a brief time. I stopped once for a snack, sitting in the sun next to San Andreas reservoir.

Buddha's hand (citron) at Kit's
I had lunch at Kit's, visited for a while, and then rode to Menlo Park to take a Caltrain back to the city.

I rode 45 miles at a steady pace.

It was still, or again foggy when I got home.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Workin' it

All I did today was work on left-over images from yesterday, write some, ride to Jackson Square to get my hair cut, and stop to take more pix along the way.

This is the view from just outside the USF library reading room, catching the edge of the waterfall sculpture and the rainbow, which you have to be in just the right place to see.
This arachnid took the place of the really ugly sculptures. I'm assuming it too is temporary.

As I was coming home along 3rd Street I chanced on this scene. I wish I'd been carrying a longer lens. The two guys on the very top sat down and were taking a break just after this was taken. They waved to me.

I cut across on Mission Creek along the houseboats. Everything is changing really fast now. Looking across the canal you see nothing but new housing - expensive condos and apartments.

Monday, November 12, 2007

End of term

Today was the last day of classes until January, and I'm sorry not to have that focus (or distraction), but as the winter begins and the weather makes it harder to run away on my bike as often, I will eventually buckle down to useful work. There's a comforting aspect to this cycle of seasons, albeit only our mild western seasons.

I never take courses that tax me very much (and at the Fromm, I don't think one ever actually gets "taxed"). I toy with the idea, from time to time, of doing something more difficult or ambitious.

Jane, Janet & Leah
It's been good to make new friends. For too many years all I knew were medical people and it got to the point where I couldn't talk except in fragments - like family members we read each other's minds, speaking in shorthand.

And I took my camera today because the light coming into the library reading room has been mesmerizing me for a long time.