Jackie Link's Blog

- A blog for no good reason

Friday, September 28, 2007

...and it's over

Tokyo - Ice skater (scarecrow contest)

I've been home since yesterday and have been sleepy and/or grumpy ever since.

None of my photos interest me very much (huge disappointment) and I'm wondering why I took my big camera when, clearly, a throw-away would have probably done a better job.

My 200 GB hard drive is already full after only a few months and I don't feel like dealing with it.

Today I put my Bike Friday back together and sorted all the pamphlets and brochures I picked up along the way. One folder each for Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, Kyoto and Nara. Lots of shrines and temples and rock gardens. Each more beautiful than the last until my head was swimming.

I worked on a few images from the first day of cycling along the Arakawa River with the Folding Bike & Recumbent Clubs of Tokyo, about 33 local cyclists. More on the generosity of the Japanese cycling community later, after I've caught up with myself and quit being grumpy.

This evening, after rush hour, I drove to the east bay to get Sibyl. She bit my thumb when I touched her treat and I put a Japanese band-aid on it. (Japanese gift-giving is another thing I'll write about later).

The food was so plentiful and outrageously wonderful that I put on x-pounds that I must now lose before my major high school reunion in two weeks. Ha! Fat chance.

Post trip blues?

Monday, September 17, 2007


If I can overcome the keyboard I will try to tell you about this amazing adventure. The flight was not unpleasant, just very long. Oh, so worth it. We have been treated like royalty by local cycling clubs and have spent the last two days with them, first along a river, and then yesterday, to most of the major historical sites within the city. I'm having to stand on tired feet to write this so will not go into any detail - suffice it to say, the generosity has been overwhelming.

I'm lovin' it!

We're off to Mt. Fuji tomorrow and not sure I'll see another computer.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Lost in a foreign land

I'm packed, ready to go. In an hour I will take my parrot to birdie camp and then shut down my computer.

In the meantime I've been processing pix from my last trip and came across this series I took from inside the car in the rain, somewhere in Umbria, Italy.

I still feel bad that we didn't somehow help this obviously lost (at least from her group) cyclist. It wasn't a road we could stop on. It wasn't really cold, but certainly wet.

I really hope I don't lose my friends in Japan - for sure, I won't be able to read the road signs.


(That should say: I will depend on the kindness of strangers. My Mac has a translator widget, but I have no way of knowing if it's any good.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

In 48 hours,

I'll be airborne, somewhere over the Pacific, on the way to the Land of the Rising Sun where it will be a calendar day and 17 hours ahead of home - and I get dizzy trying to figure out what that means. I will simply put one foot in front of the other, following my directions to arrive at the Comfort Hotel, somewhere in Tokyo, a bus and a cab ride later.

My Bike Friday is packed; a small duffel of gear and clothes is packed; my camera and gear and a very small backpack for carry-on are ready to go.

So, what do I do now? I process Italy, of course.

Oh, but when I get back I hope to have images from Tokyo, Kyoto and Mt. Fuji to play with. I'm very excited about this trip.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Judy's bike garage

Sunday afternoon I rode my Bike Friday to Judy's in the Opera Plaza, where Kaethe and I were invited to see her remodeled studio apartment and have lunch. Judy has two bikes in a cabinet designed just for them. Pretty neat.

One bike is a Waterford with S&S couplers, the other a new Bike Friday Tikit. The Tikit folds in a split-second (see this amazing video on YouTube).

My roommate in Japan will be bringing a Tikit to Ride.

I want one.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Gandhi, Farmers Market & a Lobster Feast

Yesterday I rode back to the Ferry Building to redo a shot of Gandhi with the two landmark buildings behind him, and what should I encounter, but the Saturday Farmers Market. Another two-fer.

Before that I'd made my way through the tail-gate parties around the baseball park, already happening two hours before the Giants game.

I've been riding that same route for nearly 30 years and it has changed enormously from the derelict factories and railroad and shipyards that were once there. In fact, it felt so sinister and unsafe that I'd sometimes just turn around and come back home, rather than risk it.

Now it's more like a big block party all around the waterfront, with lots and lots of happy people coming and going. I like the changes, even if all the new condos are mostly ugly and shoddy and too expensive for most people to live in.

But Bev reminded me of the workingman history on our docks and I found the plaque describing the general strike of 1934. They've at least kept the brick facades from some of the more interesting warehouses, like the Garcia & Maggini Warehouse on Townsend, right across from the the new ballpark.

Click to enlarge and read plaque - back arrow to return)

Later in the day I went with Jill to a lobster feast in the east bay. I'd never been to one before and it was truly amazing. Long tables had been set up, we stood back, and big steamers were unloaded all down the center. Suddenly, there were heaps of bright red Maine lobsters and corn on the cob and artichokes, prawns and new potatoes and garlic buds, spicy sausages and drawn butter and mayonaise. And we all set to, gorging on finger-food, par excellence.

I didn't bring my camera so will add an old scanned photo of a one-lobster feast I had in Cambridge, years ago, the last time I had lobster!

Talk about contrasts! From longshoremen to the enjoyment of abundance in the span of a few blocks and a few hours.

Life is good.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sassi in Matera, Italy

I'm just up to May 31st, or half-way through my last trip - I see no reason to rush getting through all 23 gigabytes of pixels I brought home. Heck, I haven't even finished the photos from last September in the Loire Valley and Paris, either.

I was amused by these young men working on top of a ledge in the Sassi - laptops and cell phones were in use everywhere we went - the whole world is connected.

While waiting for the right light, we met this man drawing water from what I'd thought was a non-functional pump. He filled his two buckets with water and then invited us to follow him.

We went with him through the narrow, winding streets until we came to an old wooden door, which he unlocked and slowly pushed open, signaling us to follow, and then closed the door behind us. Inside was the filthiest hen house and dove cote I've ever seen; I nearly gagged from the stench. The only light came from openings near the ceiling. The chickens were bedraggled, pitiful creatures; the doves were up high and able to come and go freely, and so were clean and healthy looking. He emptied the water into the troughs, talking to us the while in rapid Italian, which I couldn't understand; DB perhaps could, at least enough to get the gist.

I held my breath.

He next walked us, again through winding narrow streets, up some stairs to another door and into his kitchen - a stark contrast - spotlessly clean - to show us a photo he'd taken of fireworks in the Sassi.

I wondered, later, to DB how the chickens could be kept in such filth when he was clearly a person who valued cleanliness (he, in fact, worked in a hospital E.R.), and he said, Because that is the way they have always kept their chickens. That is the way chickens are kept. Period.

Next, we followed him through more ancient twisting streets, with him unlocking gates and old wooden doors, until we went down into a dank cave of several rooms - I believe carved out of the mountain - full of huge wine vats and barrels and a very old press. We climbed a ladder to peer into the huge stone basin where they'd once stomped grapes with bare feet - but they no longer did that, he said.

He rinsed out a glass and opened a tap on one of the vats, offering us his wine. It was quite good. He then filled a liter bottle for us to take, and a 5-liter jug to take with him on the train to Rome, where he was going to visit his son the next day.

On our way out he indicated that the caves had been used to hide Jews during the war, but with a clearly embarrassed demeanor, indicated they were removed and shot. It's not clear who did the shooting.

We parted company, stunned, and went back on location for taking our night shots.

We had a very late dinner that night, but we carried crackers and odds and ends of things to keep going.

The next morning we were up early to get back to shoot the poppies against the Sassi in the early light.

Maybe I already told this story when I was first working some of these images in Paris (where I enjoyed our vino) - I don't remember. I'm just now working on more of the images and I have to go back to my few notes to label them; it seems good to put what I wrote here. At any rate, it gives me an excuse to post more photos from the trip.

What else am I going to do with them all?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Smoke, fog and Wobblies + Envy

(Caboose at 25th St. & Tennessee)

>I can't use your "comments" box because I don't have any of those accounts. So here is a straight e-mail from me, Bev. Yes, there are huge fires going on all around here, so the air, not to mention the light, has been gruesome for two days. I don't know how you could ride around in it. Right now the westerlies are finally back, the wind is roaring around the house, thank heavens, and the sky is finally clearing. At least the smoke is clearing. It may fill up with fog but that's just normal.
> I was down there near where you were but on Monday (Labor Day) for a program at the ILWU Hall next to (really behind) the ball park. I found out a lot about the Wobblies. It was great and they even had lunch for everybody. Solidarity Forever!
> B.

Beverly, thanks for writing. I read other people's blogs and they get lots of mostly inane comments - which shows how popular they are, I guess, and takes me back to high school, hell, maybe even grammar school, and I feel bad about myself for having comment envy. (Get a grip!) And because I like what you've said so much I am going to put it all on my blog, sans your address, of course.

Gosh. Wobblies. (click to read Wikipedia entry)

I get sick when I think how far the pendulum has swung away from the workingman. Now it's all about the whole planet - and I don't know if we'll live long enough to see any balance happen between the haves and have-nots - or if the planet will still be friendly to us in the process.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Riding, statue to statue

I met Dianna behind the ball park at the sea lion sculpture this morning for a city ride. The sky was a little less blue than last week, like it would be smoggier and warmer than it had been all weekend, but a gorgeous day to ride around the waterfront, through the Presidio and over Land's End to Twin Peaks.

Dianna asked me if I'd seen Yoda's statue in front of Steven Spielberg's Letterman offices - No, I said. Well, I'll take you there and tell you a funny, true story, she said.

After checking out the Aquatic Park swimmers (Dianna swims) and climbing over the wee hill to Ft. Mason - where we used the facilities in Gas House Cove - we wound back around to see Yoda.

True story: Her friend brought someone to see Yoda. And that person said, That's very nice, but how many people would recognize Gandhi these days?

I said, Yeah, that makes sense, they both lean on sticks.

And then we hustled our buns up the many hills to Land's End (another pit-stop behind the Legion of Honor) and decided, as usual on our city rides, we'd climb Twin Peaks, but this time we rode the length of Golden Gate Park from the beach, exiting on 9th Avenue, and then rode on 7th Avenue until finally getting to West Portal; by then we'd done most of the climbing so getting to the top was easy. The sky was by now getting white and dense and ugly for the tourists.

Oh, then we had a downhill run that goes on and on and on, all the way to the friggin' Ferry Building by the bay, where we ate Slanted Door's take-out salads - my, my, that's some good eating.

By this time the day had become very hot and the sky had turned nearly white. (I've heard since that wildfire smoke is the culprit.)

Well, of course, then we had to go see Gandhi where he lives by the ferry terminal.

I see the resemblance.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Labor Day in the morning

Yesterday I got up early to watch Team Velo Girls race at 08:00, below Telegraph Hill - but on the way there I was stopped in my tracks by the way the sun was shining beneath the fog, so I missed the start.

Most of the team seemed to be on the sidelines cheering, not racing. It was good to see them again. Cyclo-cross is starting up again and I'll try to get to more of those events.

Photos from the races:

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Another day on the road

I had quite a day today, first stopping at the derelict piers below my hill at Mission Rock (more cement balls!), then at the Ferry Building where the sun on the head-sculptures, Yin & Yang, caught my eye.

I kept on around the waterfront, enjoying the tourists enjoying San Francisco (maybe a few locals, too). I went into the Sports Basement for some socks and then to a cafe for cold milk and a bagel with P.B. & J.

Next, it was a climb over the hill in the Presidio and another stop at the variety store in Laurel Village, where I'd hoped to find a new plastic lizard for the dashboard on Jill's new car (no luck).

From there I went into Golden Gate Park and followed the tie-dye to Speedway Meadow for the Summer of Love concert. I could have left my bike at the free, secure bike parking lot, but I knew I'd probably walk a mile and I didn't want to return; I wanted to just keep going.

The crowd, as expected, was immense. (30,000 per the news tonight) And tres amusing. There were more young people than aging hippies (whew!), but the aging, pot-bellied hippies were more interesting (love the overalls).

I walked and walked and held my camera overhead, trying to capture the immensity and happiness of the scene, knowing I couldn't. The music was nostalgic and oh so wonderful. I caught Canned Heat, sounding the same, and many others whose names I've forgotten, (I never did make a point of remembering what name went with what music.)

(Trippin' on an Airstream trailer with bicycle and reflections)

I had no trouble walking my bicycle through the crowds until I got fairly near the stage, the crowd was surprisingly mellow and forgiving (well, now that I think of it, of course they would be mellow!), there was even a couple on a Harley Davidson riding along, very slowly, through the same path I was taking.

But after I came across the naked man promoting himself for mayor, and as the crowd got more and more dense, I decided to leave that scene for higher ground. I went up a path into the trees; the ground was sandy, difficult to keep my feet in bicycle sandals from slipping, and a young man took over and pushed my bike up the steep hill.

I went as far as the Polo Field before circling back on the hill on the other side of the meadow.

A man on a bike went by me, looking exactly like someone I know, but enough not alike that I didn't stop him. Later, I ran into him sitting on the hillside, listening to the music and took his photo. Still not sure he isn't someone I know. (He didn't have enough of his own jewelry in evidence, otherwise, it would definitely be him.)

On my way out of the park I came across so much more music that I had to follow it and see what was going on. At one point I was hearing straight-up jazz in one ear (from the de Young Museum's garden) and a big band playing Zippity-do-dah (in the park band shell) in the other. It was very strange. And amazingly, perfectly, wonderful.

From there, dodging many small children on their new bikes, I came across the Conservatory of Flowers, still looking like a garish, over-saturated postcard from the 40s. I had to stop and take its picture again.

There was more - I see much, much more than I can possibly record or show here.

And I had a pretty darn good ride, too.