Jackie Link's Blog

- A blog for no good reason

Friday, June 29, 2007

Gaudy flower

Photo: sunflower in Community Garden, Potrero Hill

Today, when I've finished my morning coffee and Sibyl and I have had our breakfast, I have to go under my cottage and find where roof rats may have been getting in. I don't actually expect to find this because they would have been up inside my walls, not leaving a trace, and judging by the total silence, they're long gone.

From everything I've read ("The mites will survive only 2 to 3 weeks without their hosts. Mites cannot complete their life cycle on humans."), makes me wonder if I can just wait them out. Also read that they are very common, but that not all people react to their bites. I'm not so lucky.

Later...I found where the roof rats gained access to my inner walls - the same place they went in the last time: underneath the opening for my bathroom. My neighbor, Barbara, who is very handy with a saw and hammer and nails, closed every opening 15 years ago. But since then my pipes were completely redone, and the contractor left this wide open again.

(click to enlarge - back arrow to return)

Dang. This is not something I can fix by myself, that's for sure.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Knee deep in leaves

I stood on solid rock while DB went poking along this steep hillside, trying to find a spot that would look back at Castle Grande in Bellinzona, Switzerland.

(DB was always telling me to use shutter priority, that I was shooting too slow. Oh, but that I'd paid more attention; motion ruins too many of what would otherwise be good shots, as with the one above.)

We were not far from Italy when we stopped in the Swiss alps for most of three days. Leaving Bellinzona, we drove through countless tunnels, including one 17 kms. long, saving the climb over St. Goddard Pass.

I liked Belinzona and if it weren't so late, and I so tired after riding with Dianna in west Marin today, I'd go into more detail. When I finally get to more of my images, still stored on the Epson, I'll get back to it.

New things

Here's the first image processed using my new system and the newest version of Photoshop (CS3). It was taken in Bellinzona, Switzerland, where we stayed two nights because it had so much to photograph, though the light was mostly flat thanks to mainly overcast skies.

DB wanted to get a view of this castle (it's in three locations up the side of the mountain and very hard to photograph) from across the valley, so we drove to the vineyard we could see, climbed up and up and up, until DB was knee deep (literally) in fallen leaves, afraid he'd sink, a la quicksand, and never be seen again.

I don't have a long lens so I concentrated on the "telling details," like documenting a photographer at work. I'll process those photos and add them later.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

on Seeing

I can't tell you how many times I've been in this back, hidden part of Ft. Mason without noticing this very odd construction. My focus has always been out into the bay or back and above to the road I've just climbed on my bike from Aquatic Park to Crissy Field.

But there it is, an obvious labor of love by someone, sometime, I presume many years ago.

Why the steps on the back side?

Before I took up a camera again I didn't notice, didn't see so much. Seeing too much had become a distraction I then couldn't afford, now I can.

But today, now that I've finished my coffee, sitting here inside my ring of ant chalk, is a day of deep house cleaning and many loads of wash at the laundromat.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Steps for no good reason

Click to enlarge any photo - back arrow to return

No good reason is the best reason of all, I think.


O, but that it was a flea

I had another dozen new bites today.

Shades of 15 years ago when my house was infested by tropical rat mites.

Back then by sitting in the nude on a white sheet on my couch I caught one as it was biting me with a piece of transparent tape, took it to vector control at UC Berkeley for identification, was told to abandon all hope, they were impossible to get rid of - but after a week of sealing all possible rat entrances (they'd spent the winter inside my walls; I thought it was birds on my roof), setting off bombs, cleaning every surface and dusting with poisons, I got rid of them.

I caught another one just now. It's too tiny to identify without a microscope and Ph.D., but after a lot of Googling, I think I can assume I have Ornithonyssus bacoti back. What's really creepy is that with a magnifying glass and bright light I can still see it wiggling its legs.

I'm again sitting in the nude on a white sheet, but this time here in my office where I've been getting bit. I've drawn a line around my chair with the ant chalk (pyrethrin) and so far no new bites.

I don't know yet if they will get on my parrot; so far she seems fine, busy chewing up my junk mail. I see big vet bills in our future.

I do know my work is cut out for me: I must now totally clean and poison my whole house. But first, I'll see if the pyrethrin at least gives me until tomorrow to start on it.

Not funny.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

19 bites

Sometime in the past day or two something has been feasting on my torso. (I started to say on my trunk, but that brings up an unfortunate body image.) I'm sitting here naked waiting for this besotted pest to return and then I will squash it between my fingernails.

I'm assuming it's a flea.

Click to see flea body parts really big

I'm also assuming it is working here in my house, but it could have been biting me anywhere I've been. I've been so preoccupied that other than saying, Ouch, each time I'm bitten, I've been oblivious. And was that yesterday, or the day before?

I wonder if my Miraculous Ant Chalk would work - I could draw circles around my ankles with it.

Nah. Fleas jump.

O.K., so I've put on some clothes. I got cold while reading Lauren's great blog entry; she almost always makes me laugh out loud no matter what her riff is for the day.

No new bites. Perhaps this pest isn't even in my house; I don't have a cat or dog and I've been two places where they do. Hmmmm. Naked for nothing.

Going riding

Photo: Cyclist in red pants, Chioggia, Italy

This is my first entry using my new system, which I brought home Friday, took out of the box yesterday, and had up and running much more quickly than I expected. My old PC is still going, too, and sometimes I get confused between the white mouse and the black mouse, but other than that, it's good. Now I have to buy and install Photoshop CS3 and I can get to serious work.

But first, I'm going riding and I'm not taking a camera. It's a gorgeous day in fog-free San Francisco and it's good to be home.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

White balance

This face on its side is one half of the bronze heads, Yin & Yang, by Robert Arneson, installed along the Embarcadero.

In situ, I don't like them at all. I do enjoy what people do when they see them. Some sit on them. Others rub the face; you can see the white surface coming off. Both heads are covered in white; bronze is so nice left alone (well, it's always treated, but you know what I mean). The heads are billiard ball bald, egg-like, so white suits them, I suppose.

I went out on my oldest bicycle yesterday, riding around the waterfront, seeing what I would see, stopping now and then to take pictures, sometimes just to test the lens I've borrowed to see how it differs from my own, sometimes because the subject interests me, like these heads of Arneson's, which I've photographed before.

And when I got home I discovered I'd inadvertently set my camera white balance for fluorescent light. I love mistakes like that (usually), which can be easily corrected in PS Camera RAW (if I had it, which I don't - yet), and I especially love the white whale blue cast it gave my heads.

Yes, that's definitely a whale's eye looking up from the deep.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Sibyl came home looking the worse for her six weeks at birdie camp - disheveled, dirty and prickly with unreachable pin feathers.

We sat for a long time last evening grooming those pesky, pokey still-sheathed feathers sticking straight up off her head and neck, and we just finished a shower together where we stayed so long we ran out of hot water.

Happiness is a clean parrot. She chortles and nearly sings with the pleasure of a good preening.

She remembers all her old habits, by tomorrow she'll be all the way home.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Home sweet home

I'm trying to stay awake until at least dark but it is 04:37 in Paris and that's where my body still thinks it is. I've just eaten a bowl of oatmeal; I didn't miss oatmeal but am happy to have it again. It's the little things...

Six weeks of mail is a lot to go through but I've sorted it into priority piles and will deal with them tomorrow.

Did you know Boeing 747s wag their tail? I had an aisle seat in the next to last row where takeoff and landing was as exciting as a roller coaster ride. Whooee!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bittersweet au revoir

Photo: Cobwebs in abandoned trullo door (self portrait), Alberobello, Italy.

Only one full day left here and now DB has a cold - mine is mostly gone - so I went out on my bike alone this afternoon, got hit by a gully-washer thunder storm down by the Seine, got soaked, but was "singin' in the rain," albeit off-key.

I mean, water was up to the middle of hubcaps there for a while; it was really coming down, and then bouncing back up many inches, it was hitting so hard. Fun, really fun. I got back to a hot bath and to work more with my images, equally fun.

It hasn't really hit me yet that in two days I will be back in Es Ef, jet-lagged, having to go pick up Sibyl in the east bay (will she remember me?), and tomorrow is IT.

All the things one usually does in Paris I won't have done, nor do I care.

What is it Arnold says: "I'll be back, baby" - ?

...or not.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

While you were sleeping

Photo: Chioggia, Italy - the workingman's Venice

By the time I got my bike from the car and all my gear ready to go out it had clouded over again, with rain predicted - I went out anyway. I'd hoped the recent stormy weather would clear out some pollution but Paris is becoming impossible, especially the closer you get to the center where the traffic becomes so thick you can't breathe. (There's a lot to be said for our San Francisco cleansing wind!) I got all the way to Notre Dame, started taking photos of tourists and my battery was exhausted, the spare was being recharged, and the rain returned. It wasn't a total bust: I got to pedal.

Now that I've switched blogspot to an English language version I guess it thinks I'm at home; the last entry was actually done on Paris' Thursday morning, but it shows it as San Francisco's Wednesday.

DB is sneezing nonstop; he caught my cold. Bummer.

I've spent the rest of today learning a few more things about processing in Photoshop and have put the results on pbase (link, upper left). I won't be saving my processing work here any other way, though I'll still have the original RAW files in my Epson 40 GB storage.

(Click to enlarge photos - back arrow to return)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Time & Work

Photo: Vicenza, Italy

It's 08:30 here in Paris, which means everyone I know at home is already in bed asleep. (Everyone I know in Paris is still in bed asleep too.) My cold is nearly gone; it only took three days of taking it easy .

Today DB plans to start teaching me how to work in Photoshop - which is like having a darkroom, without the chemicals. Working in Camera RAW leaves the original "negative" unchanged, as with film, and what I've processed from this trip so far has been done using my old knowledge base from PS Elements (which is darn near zip). What I've worked on while here and posted to pbase.com, will be redone as I learn how to process in PS. The thing is, I am admonished by two people I respect to switch to Apple from PC and I will have to do so before I can buy the newest version of PS (CS3) because, of course, they are not interchangeable between systems, so I can't put off the decision much longer if I want to continue to learn this stuff. This is a big commitment, as much in time as money.

I just want to take pictures.

I've added a link to DB's marketplace on Digital Railroad and if you have a good monitor, be prepared to be blown away by the quality of his work - and feel free to pass it on.

Last evening we had a dramatic thunder & lightning storm that went on for a long time - something I hadn't heard like that since traveling in the midwest as a kid. I hope it rains all day today so I won't feel sorry to not be out riding or visiting museums, etc. But now the sun is out and it sure looks inviting!

I only have three days left here.

Paris redux

Photo: Canal house, Burgundy, France

On nearly the spur of the moment we took off for southern France last Friday afternoon. I've been living out of a suitcase since 7 May, so it was easy, and my Bike Friday quick-folds into a soft bag for stowage in the car. We ended up in a gite on the canal at Vandenesse en Auxois, arriving in time to take photographs in the late light, and a late dinner. (Have I mentioned how good the food is here?) The next morning we spent a long time in the nearby Chateauneuf en Auxois.

In Burgundy we decided on a "plan" for the week ahead: stay in one place in Provence, ride our bikes, take day trips in the area, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. And so we did. DB called his favorite place for a room and off we went, again arriving in time for the late light and another, even more incredible meal.

We went to Avignon and walked and photographed and visited DB's old stomping grounds from when he lived there some years ago; we rode our bikes to nearby villages; and we took long drives scouting for photographs and sometimes stopping to take them.

But then my cold settled in yesterday and it seemed best to come back to Paris, get better, and process some of the work done on these two extremely fruitful road trips: photo safaris of a civilized kind.

I'm feeling better today but still sick enough to just hang out, not really doing much processing yet. If the cold lets me I will try to get to the Cluny again, maybe pop in the Louvre to do detail pix for Kit. Every day so far has been so full that I feel like I've been here at least six months; it's good to take a day off to rest.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cyber Cafe in Provence

I have been in paradise since last Friday, first in Burgundy and now in Provence...but this French keyboard is not easy to use so I will go into more detail when we get back to Paris and I can add photos.

Yesterday in Avignon my throat was bothering me and I assumed it was from riding in rush hour traffic in Paris, but last night it went on to a head cold, putting a crimp in our bike riding today. The weather is too hot and the air not clear enough for DB's work so we might start back to Paris if it doesn't improve.

We are in view of Mont Ventoux - Lance has ridden the roads I've been on. A photo cannot capture the dramatic beauty of this place. Sigh.

A big storm with nonstop thunder, but no rain, moved through this evening and we went chasing the light for a particular scene - that is a lot of the fun, at least for me - going down random roads, scouting locations - it's all good.

I see I haven't mentioned the food. O la la - I will not be thinner when I get back. We're staying where every morsel is four star: DB knows all the right people and places.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

On the road again?

There's talk here about heading to the south of France tomorrow, more for bike riding than photographing this time because we can take our own bikes.

The weather in Paris has been less than optimal, though both this evening and yesterday we went for a bike ride around the city, trying to get our legs back for doing more serious stuff next week. The traffic got so bad today we had to head back home earlier than we would have liked. Riding along the Seine, past the Eiffel Tower, etc. (BIG etc.), I felt sorry for those people paying mega-bucks for their tourist tour - the air was dense, nearly fog, and made everything flat and unappealing.

Today I did serious grocery shopping, and enjoyed it. Of course, now we'll probably be leaving town and who knows what or where we'll eat next (I suspect I'll still be in Paris until at least tomorrow night, and probably into Saturday). Hey, I'm easy. There's just no point in my making any sort of fixed plan and I haven't been disappointed yet with whatever happens.

I'm happily working my images on this laptop, if only quick & dirty, and then putting them onto my pbase.com Web site (link to my photos, upper left) so I can then look at them on DB's really big, really good monitor, which makes all the difference.

I'm never bored.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


(Click to enlarge - back arrow to return)

Yesterday, instead of experiencing Paris, I sat in a hard chair pushing pixels around until midnight, though I only actually processed a few images. I haven't figured out this version of blogspot and can't move photos around inside the posts the way I do at home.

I've posted yesterday's work at pbase.com/jackielink/gallery/around_world.

While I like the images, they can't possibly convey the feel of the sassi in Matera, Italy, which are so biblical in feel that ol' Mel used the place to film half of - dare I even list it here, since I sure can't stand the thought of it? - "The Passion of Christ."

No one we've talked to, even those who have traveled extensively in Italy, had heard of this place, though I think it gets written up from time to time. We just stumbled onto it, our jaws dropped, we stayed and we could still be there trying in vain to express its weirdness and grandeur in two dimensions.

The thing my photos can't even come close to showing is how big it is. In the photo above someone standing at what I'm shooting would be looking back at an equally huge scene. Looking from any edge - from down inside it, from the modern city around it, while walking up and down the winding narrow roads, is to be lost in time - pick a time, any time. They're all there.

Here's the World Heritage description:

This is the most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region, perfectly adapted to its terrain and ecosystem. The first inhabited zone dates from the Palaeolithic, while later settlements illustrate a number of significant stages in human history. Matera is in the southern region of Basilicata.

(BTW, this photo was taken after sunset, handheld at very slow shutter speed; I do love my Canon's image stabilization!)

Back from Italy

Last fall there was a New Yorker cartoon showing a couple sitting in their living room, one says to the other, "Let's go somewhere wonderful and not really experience it."

This is now my catch phrase for how I like to travel and especially on this trip I went to a zillion wonderful places and didn't have to actually experience any of them.

I was near Venice, Milano, Torino, Napoli, Roma, Pompeii, Siena, Cinque Terre, Amalfi Coast - not in that order - and the only place even remotely Level One touristy I actually visited was Pisa, where we found a perfect miracle of a parking place a block from the tower, got there just as the good light disappeared, used the toilette and left. (Also, they've put some discrete scaffolding on it, ruining the images for DB.) That almost counts as "experiencing" it, but not quite.

Oh, but what I did experience, really experience, was the unexpected adventures. In the as yet unnamed city of wonder in the photo above, we were befriended by a man who spoke only Italian, who took us through the labryrinthes to his hen house/dove cote, then to his kitchen in another part of the maze to show us a photo, and then, finally, to his wine cellar in yet another area, and one which had sheltered his family in the big war. He poured us a sample from an enormous vat, showed us the place where the grapes were stomped in the old days and then gave us a 2-liter plastic water bottle of his vino, which we now have here in Paris and which I had with dinner last night.

All of this place was carved from a tufa mountain, first using natural caves, but then, as it was quarried over the centuries the stones were used to slowly build this ancient city along a deep canyon, much of the canyon probably of its own creation - though I don't know any of that for sure.

Would reading about it constitute experiencing it?

(click photo to enlarge - back arrow to return - more telling pix forthcoming, stay tuned)