Jackie Link's Blog

- A blog for no good reason

Friday, August 31, 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

My world is garish...


..and often very strange. These were all taken today on my usual bike ride around the city.


The sky kept changing, forming this odd pattern of high clouds.

...and if you haven't yet visited the dahlia garden below the Conservatory of Flowers, you probably think I've enhanced this photo - believe me, the dahlias are just this garish and some, especially the large blossoms, are very gaudy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Onions


I have a hankering for my dark onion soup. It's better than anything I've had anywhere else, including Paris bistros ("the secret of the soup is to be brave enough to burn the onions"). But it's way too hot to cook, and I don't want to cut another finger, either, and so I set up my camera to photograph 5 lbs. of yellow onions, instead.

There are depth of field issues. But you get the idea.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Wasting time


Today I didn't leave the house except to empty the garbage and I hope no one saw me because I never did change out of my sleeping-sweats. I did some technical reading and fooling around with camera settings, using Sibyl for a model. (Note Sibyl's punk blue forehead where she rubbed a toy after our shower yesterday.) I listened to NPR while I worked on images. Did some e-mails and Skype chatting. Cleaned my turtles' aquarium filter.

I wanted to go fool around on my bike again today, but I'm getting superstitious about getting hurt before my trip to Japan.

I cut my left index finger slicing bread last Friday, so I need to be more careful. I put steri-strips with an expiration date of 2001 on it, going to an E.R. on a Friday night wasn't an option.

My Cannondale has a flat back tire; it can wait until my finger heals.

I'll ride tomorrow.

I rearranged the colors on this blog again. Can it get more boring?

Yawn.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Coast ride

The ride down the coast was good, very, very good.

As usual, going over Devil's Slide from Pacifica was intense - not the climb, which is like any climb on a narrow, winding road, but the race down the other side where the road is rapidly falling into the sea. (Will this be the day it gives way with me on it?)

The fog was brushing up along the cliffs, moving in and out dramatically. And a bicycle is perfect, able to go faster than a car on that particular stretch of precarious road.

Speaking of fast: on the long downhills into San Gregorio SB I told Judy I was going 48 mph on the first run, and then on the second, 55 mph. No Way! she said. Man, I thought my Bike Friday was flyin', but then as we were climbing, I said, Now I'm going 6 mph, and she said she was going 4 mph. That's when it dawned on me: my computer thought it was on my Cannondale. (406 vs 700c wheels)

Oh well.
(This newspaper photo from the Cinderella Classic in March just arrived in today's mail. At least I sort of look fast. They spelled my name right, but it was not a race!)

When we got to Pescadero, expecting to have dinner at Duarte's, an art fair had taken over the town for the day. Instead, we bought a can of soup and big loaf of artichoke bread to take to the hostel at Pigeon Point for dinner. The 56 miles went so easily we could have gone further, but the hot tub over the sea is always a great way to finish the day.

The sun, however, sank into a fog bank and so there wasn't a photo-finish on the crumbling lighthouse.

Day two, we rode only as far as Watsonville, stopping in Davenport for breakfast where vintage Bentleys, left over from the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, paraded by; lingered through Santa Cruz, enjoying the pelicans and the beach scene; and finally meandered our way through the strawberry fields after an ice cream break in Aptos.

My planned shortcut via Harken's Slough Road, where I ignored the "road closed," "flooded" signs, didn't pan out - Harken's Slough has indeed won, filling the valley knee-deep. (In the past I've ridden into some water, but not deep enough to be a problem.) That meant climbing back out of the valley and put us into town on a strange route, but we finally found our room for the night and after showers rode into town for chicken mole, really good mole.

Day three, we had a late breakfast and nice ride around Elkhorn Slough, avoiding the busy two-lane highway by Moss Landing, and stopped in Castroville for their completely different version of artichoke soup. In Portugese Pescadero it's a creamy puree of hearts, but soft, steamed hearts in a clear broth in Italian Castroville, where a busload of Italian tourists ran in and out, quickly eating some deep-fried chokes dipped in mayonaise or butter. (Italian tourists in Castroville?!)

From there it was a short ride through the artichoke fields and sand dunes, mostly on a dedicated bike path. At Seaside we saw cyclists coming from a path we'd never tried, not knowing if it went into Monterey, but since we didn't have to go all the way into Pfeiffer Big Sur for the night, we gave it a try - and a man guided us through the trickier street section - it was terrific to avoid Auto Row, for a change.

It was so nice we dropped off our panniers at the motel where I'd left my car and went back out to ride our friskier bikes around Monterey and Pacific Grove.

That pretty much ended the bike tour, though the next day we did ride the 17-Mile Drive into Carmel (still no there there), had a grocery-store sandwich and then climbed back to Monterey, where we rode around looking at everything again.

Day five, after visiting the Carmel mission (because we could), we drove through overcast, foggy Big Sur, stopping for an expensive lunch in Gorda, and again to watch the lumps of elephant seals on the beach at Piedras Blancas, before ending up in San Simeon for the night.

We rode to Cambria and back in the late afternoon light before having a lousy dinner in a nearby, nearly deserted restaurant (we should have gone back to Cambria).

Again, a super ride down our coast. I've lost count of the number of times I've ridden those roads, but it is always wonderful. This was one of the easier, shorter versions, but no less awesome. I love it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

All packed...

...and that took about five minutes (which two jerseys?).

Judy & I drove two cars to Monterey today, left mine there for us to pick up after riding down the coast, had a great hamburger in Seaside, and then drove the other car back up Highway 1, watching flock after flock of pelicans just offshore heading southeast for the evening. They're smart about wind direction, just like (most) cyclists - there were whitecaps on the sea, strong wind out of the west - I often wish I had a spinnaker for my bike to carry me down the coast on that wind.

We plan to kick back and relax a bit more on this trip, not just ride, ride, ride. Not sure how far south we'll go, taking day-rides from different spots. This was the first day without morning fog - not even out at sea - that I've seen in weeks.

Should I hit an internet cafe I will send an update along the way, make you jealous.

Photo: Pigeon Point Lighthouse, with my old Bike Friday - Houses just outside the frame are youth hostels, 56 miles from my house by bicycle - first we have artichoke soup at Duarte's Tavern in Pescadero, ride 7 more miles, shower and then soak in the hot tub over the sea while sea otters, sea lions, pelicans, etc., entertain us as the sun goes down. Yep, this is the life.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Locorotundo & Googling


While in Apulia, Italy, last May, DB and I lived in a trullo just outside Alberobello. It was quite wonderful and I wrote about it here earlier.

One day we went scouting in the area, driving to the nearby small cities of Martina Franca and Locorotundo. In one, or both, DB drove as high as we could go on winding streets, which became narrower and narrower, finally dead-ending, trapping us. He jokes about having to drive down a long stairway, but I don't remember actually doing that. I think I closed my eyes until we got back out, somehow, some way.

When we did park and explore on foot, it was very hot and dry. This couple spent a long time in front of this ancient church. We imagined he was an architect or professor, knowledgeable about the building. They seemed very sweet. There were no other tourists in Locorotundo.

Just now I Googled "Locorotundo" to be sure I'd spelled it correctly and the third listing was this: Around Italy Photo Gallery by Jackie Link at pbase.com.
It goes on to give details.

That's shocking. I had no idea my photo names got around like that....but when I Googled a bigger tourist city, like Verona, I was nowhere to be found, at least not on the first pages.

Odd new world we live in, where everyone is a little bit famous, whether they want to be or not, or even know it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Neutral


In my aggravation over color loss when transferring images onto the Web, I eliminated distractions by getting the background as close as neutral gray as I could get it. I don't think it helps much, but kept me busy for a while. (And then changed it again.)

I could be doing better things with my time. Like the Adobe tutorials. Reading. Watching t.v., or a DVD - yeah, I'm hooked on "The Wire" and have another episode waiting.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday ride


I met the Velo Girls in the Presidio this morning, knowing I wasn't really going to join the ride - I just don't feel like pushing to meet the pace these days - and I took my camera to see what I would see along the way to Tiburon.

It was pretty overcast, cool, but not cold. The bridge was barely visible and I wanted to take the photo of the one tree on the headlands, but I needed to catch the group to tell them not to wait for me, and so this time I shot it from the north, looking back.

I have a thing for that one tree.

They went on ahead and I took my time getting through Sausalito, stopping now and then to look at the views and try for more photos. I've always wanted to stop at the mansion owned by the Audubon Society on the way into Tiburon, and so today I did, though the gate was locked so I could only look from a distance. There were tiny grapes growing on the fence, very pretty.

Good day. Really good day.

(Click photos to enlarge - back arrow to return)

Friday, August 10, 2007

2 bikes, 2 rides, 2 pix

What else is there to say about that?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The boot

Today, in between working images from Apulia, the heel of the boot of Italy, I rode my bike on errands and read from several technical books, from two New Yorkers, and a few more pages in an account of a bicycle trip in Japan by Josie Dew.

Up top is an olive tree and hay bale near our trullo in Alberobello, and below, another neighboring trullo, in between rains.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Color space


That's it. I'm going back to using the color space in my processing that favors Web viewing (sRGB) - everything posted over the last few weeks has been dull and boring (compared to what I see while working the image) - and I have it on good authority that I can always go back and use the "for printing" color space (Adobe RGB), since my RAW files are unchanged by processing.

See the difference between Sibyl in this image and the earlier ones below? She is as dramatically colorful in good light, as above. You should see the intense cobalt and turquoise blues under her wings!

My "Turtle at the Bates Motel" pix are so bad that I'm reprocessing some of them for that post because I can't stand looking at them the way they are here. I even changed this blog template thinking it might be the old yellow background messing up the colors.

Why is the learning curve always so steep?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Fuchsias in my yard. Riding.

I'm going out on a bike every other day now, rebuilding my legs for a trip down the coast, and then riding in Japan. Sitting in front of a computer too much after nearly two months off the bike has left me behind the ol' eight ball.

Today it was again overcast and gloomy, which was fine for hill climbing and hard riding.

As I rode down from the Cliff House and Land's End I could hear the sound of many sea birds on the beach, while overhead, flock after flock of pelicans flew south. I stopped for a while, trying to see what kind of birds were on the beach, but they were just out of reach. Most were a small, orange-beaked, dark gull-like bird, and the other large group were mainly white, tern-like. (Beverly? I'll send you blow-ups.)

When I got back home I was again struck by the wonderful fuchsias along my walk. I used my +2 closeup lens for the photo up top.

I had to Google "fuscia" to find out how to spell it; I knew I had it wrong. I love the way Google can read minds.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Turtle at the Bates Motel

Lately, I’ve been processing photos I took in the tiny Republic of San Marino, where DB and I spent most of a day in May. It's been too long since I wrote about my trip, so here's another installment. (As usual, click to enlarge photos - back arrow to return.)

We’d driven south along the eastern Italian coast, leaving the seaside towns of Chioggia and Sotomarina, where we’d twice retreated from the unseasonable heat of the Po Valley. The day before we’d spent doing laundry, resting and catching up on e-mails in an internet cafe.

It was still too hot, but we continued south, aiming for Apulia in the boot of Italy.

San Marino was up a winding road, climbing for what seemed many miles. When we got there we dutifully turned into tourists for the day, with the ulterior motive of capturing the place in pixels. (But we paid no admission fees anywhere so, technically, I didn’t actually experience it. See blog entry re “going somewhere wonderful without really experiencing it.”)

Cyclists met us on a steep street, too steep and too populated for them to ride, but walking downhill in their cleated shoes was clearly even more difficult. They were riding very high-end Swiss bikes, which DB immediately coveted.

We had a leisurely lunch (pizza and a beer - their pizza is no better, no worse, than our pizza, no surprise) and wandered up and down the steep streets and walkways, admiring the sights, taking lots of photos. I took one of a guard adjusting his cap, which I rather like, but I was too lazy to stand and so I have a rope barrier ruining most of my shots; DB’s are much better.

We had no plan, as usual, about where we’d end up for the night; we got gas before leaving San Marino (his diesel tank lasts and lasts, but takes $75 to fill) and got back on the autostrada, heading south.

I’m not sure how we ended up leaving the autostrada when we did, but we drove west into the country, climbing to Fermo, becoming more and more concerned because there wasn’t a single hotel all through the town. We kept going up and up, with DB getting into his hollering at the old man upstairs to shape up, we want a hotel NOW, mode, and just then we came to the top of the mountain with nowhere else to go, and I said, “There’s a hotel, right there,” proving the power of prayer. (Ask me about this.)

DB went to get us a room and came back out, all smiles. We took our luggage to our upstairs room, passing by artworks all along the stairwell that I at first assumed were done by the same local hand trying out different styles, all very bad. There was something grand and awful about the place, like a once palatial hotel fallen on hard times with worn carpets and plastic flowers and a jumble of confusing artifacts on every surface. Not quite gothic, not quite anything. I called it the Bates Motel, but in a joking way; it did not feel sinister or threatening, just odd.

Next to our mountaintop hotel was a church and public park, complete with a large WW1 memorial, and we went back out to take advantage of the early evening light. From there we could see back to the Adriatic Sea, alongside which we'd been traveling.

We spent a long time enjoying and photographing it before going back for a late dinner in an immense, deserted dining room, where all the walls were covered with artworks, not all bad. I finally decided that the owners must frequent local art fairs, buying what they like, and had accumulated this large collection over many years.

Over my shoulder, while eating his dinner, DB had to look at a small painting of a very green lady with enormous green breasts. We laughed a lot.


The next morning I went out on our balcony overlooking the valley. The balcony next to ours was clearly used by someone living there, with many plants and flowers, and - I almost yelped - a live pet turtle!

A real live turtle in Fermo, Italy, at the Bates Motel.

A lady came out in her bathrobe just then and took the tub with the turtle back indoors (she didn’t see me) and a short time later she brought it back out, water all nice and clean. I caught her attention and signaled with my camera to be sure she wouldn’t mind my taking a photograph. We smiled at each other and nodded. I'm still grinning.

A turtle at the Bates Motel. Imagine.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Foggy day in the city


This must be what it's like to live on the west side of this city. Gloomy all day. I rode a zig-zag through downtown, into Chinatown and North Beach, to Coit Tower, down to North Point, over Ft. Mason and along Crissy Field to the bridge. Lots of wind. No sun. I cut across the ridge of the Presidio from the bridge, ending up in GG Park, where the band was warming up for a concert in the renovated bandshell. (Note: go back to collect ripening blackberries soon.)

I was hungry by then and decided to ride over to my favorite taqueria in the Mission, and so I climbed another steep hill to 17th Street, just for the thrill of the fast downhill, expecting to be rewarded with a super vegetarian taco - and El Toro Taqueria was boarded up after a fire! I was so disappointed that I just rode on home, never having stopped for anything all day. Carried my camera in its slingpack and didn't use it at all.

Sibyl and I have had our shower, shared lunch, and the sun still isn't out on this side of town. 100% gloomy. (Better this than the valley's heat. I'm not complaining.)

Photo: Poster of 1920 Alberobello, Italy, with sneaky self-portrait, not discovered until today. Very Hitchcockian. Twice in a week; I see a trend developing. (Click to enlarge.)
And this photo of trulli from the boot of Italy, Apulia, reminds me of Taos, New Mexico. Now I need to find those old scanned prints, see if they're salvageable. This, too, happens a lot while I work on images. I seem to work in circles: throw a pebble in the pond and watch the ripples sort of thing.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Quarterly chores


Click to enlarge, back arrow to return

It isn't really a fact that I only wash & wax my kitchen floor once or twice a year, it's probably 3-4 times: quarterly. Today was the day to tackle the job and now I'm waiting for the wax to dry.

Jill is coming over for dinner. She already knows her mother doesn't keep the cleanest house, but a visitor always makes me look at how I live - not a pretty picture.

I'm only into the second week of my grand adventure, going slowly through the images and processing them as I learn how to use the software better, though I'm still only doing what I've already known, which isn't much.

This photo, taken in the arcades in Bologne, Italy, is nearly identical with DB's, though I didn't realize it until he pointed it out last night. That happened quite often, I think, where I would take almost the same picture. We see things much the same way (and we were in the same place at the same time, after all).

. . .the floor is dry. Back to work.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Two'fer and a ride


This practice shot was taken using manual focus, and that's one fast moving parrot. My old name tags were in the box, so I got a self-portrait along with Sibyl: a two'fer.

I went out riding in the high fog this morning and was surprised to find my legs felt like lead. After the struggle last Sunday, I shouldn't have been surprised.

I first stopped for a quarter on the road. I pass up pennies, I never see nickles, but I go back for dimes and quarters, except if I'm climbing a steep street, then they're not worth stopping and starting for.

It didn't get any nicer my whole ride, but my next stop was at the new fence and open gate at the fishing pier in Aquatic Park, where I watched two large tourist groups on Segways come down the hill from Ft. Mason. They always look really serious and they should be laughing, having fun. Maybe there's a learning curve and they're afraid to have a good time lest they run themselves into the bay, or something.

And then I came across this old Westie in Gas House Cove. The Deadheads are coming to town for a gathering in McLaren Park on Sunday. I must get over to see the 60s in person, as if I hadn't been there the first time around, ha, ha! (It only counts if you were there and you don't remember it, right?)