Jackie Link's Blog

- A blog for no good reason

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


My parrot, Sibyl, hangs out on my shoulder while I go about my day at home, but sometimes she's annoying and I'll put her on a shelf, or on the windowsill in the bathroom like I did yesterday morning. She decided to jump back on my shoulder just as I turned and flushed - and Ooops! she landed in the sucking vortex, on her way to the bay if I didn't catch her in time. Which I did. TP and all. We were both in shock. I wrapped her in a towel until our hearts quit fibrillating and then gave her a warm bubble bath in the sink, followed by a session with my hair dryer. She had a day of rest and is good as new today, though still sometimes annoying (watch out, Sibyl).

I spent the rest of yesterday with Elizabeth, driving around from Redwood City to Pescadero, taking Kings Mountain and Tunitas Creek roads. It was a bit gloomy, raining off and on; the only others on the back roads were a few intrepid, hardy cyclists. We stopped for artichoke soup at Duarte's, and I finished the day with a visit with Kit in Palo Alto.

The candy cane and flamingo house is on another road in the redwoods, and after it was sold the canes and birds disappeared. Miss them.

Monday, December 14, 2009

to the Ferry Building and back

Sometimes there are more pictures than words to go with them.

As long as the Cirque du Soleil is in town I will not run out of images along my bike route.

I like this ghostly white-winged bicycle on top of the shuttered Bike Hut on The Embarcadeero.

While I was taking these pictures the sun went behind dark clouds, the light went flat and I was getting hungry, three miles into the ride from my house, and so I locked up and went into the Ferry Building to see what I would see. I walked up the long corridor and came upon this display at the Far West Fungi booth. Magic (chocolate) Mushrooms!

One of my oldest friends, Beverly Dahlen, sent me a link last week about ancient traditions from Nordic shamans, about the red and white mushrooms (Amanita muscaria) which grow under pine trees in the winter, and how so many of our holiday-solstice practices have evolved from those times. Here's a link to a long article about it: Santa Claus the Magic Mushroom.

I bought a sandwich at Acme Bakery and took it outside on the dock. As I was eating and looking in the outdoor cart at Book Passage my old friend's name leaped out at me; it was a volume of her poetry that I didn't own. Of course, I brought it home.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A doll, a white bear and a circus tent

Yesterday I rode my town bike to have my hair cut in Jackson Square, where Les always has extraordinary antiques, changed for each holiday. Better than a Gump's window.

As I left it had started to snow, mixed with rain (no clatter of hail on my helmet), but it stopped within a mile. I love the dramatic skies whenever we finally have some "weather."

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Getting behind

Ellen, Barb and Mary Ellen at Kaethe's
Are blogs passé? I know I'm finding less to say about the everydayness of my life.

It's that time of year when I turn inward, and I actually look forward to uninterrupted time indoors, studying, reading novels, working on image files.

I like what I'm learning; it will eventually all add up.

That's Cassie, taken yesterday when The Eight gathered at Kaethe's. We once worked together at the old Children's Hospital ER. (I think it was Cassie who named us the Octopussies.)

Here's another with seven of The Eight (I'm taking the picture). We've had Staff Lunch together for over twenty years.

Ellen, Mary Ellen, Judy, Barb, Kaethe, Cassie and Dottie

I used some of the images from the party to work on my black & white techniques. They're coming along.
Makes me wish I could go back and redo all my old work.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Too creepy

Galapagos Marine Iguanas
The skin graft on my right lower eyelid has to be kept moist with an ointment. It could be uncovered now, almost two weeks post op, but talk about creepy! Fortunately, I have to keep it protected from my glasses' nose piece with a dressing, so you won't have to see it. It's going to take another four weeks to be fully healed, not sure how long before it isn't creepy, healed or not. (I had a basal cell skin cancer removed from a least expected place, also a place one wouldn't put sunscreen, not wanting it in one's eyes---but, a place always protected by good sunglasses.)

Jill said my photo of two statues in Colma, below, is really creepy, looks like it should be used to advertise a horror film. She got that right.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


This morning there were some nice cloud formations so I took my camera and a bag lunch to shoot some sky. But as I left the house it clouded over in that uniform gray way and I didn't know where to head. I wanted to get away from overhead wires and thought I'd go west, to the coast. When I got as far as Daly City, I remembered the graveyards and ended up wandering around the old section of the Italian Cemetery, where I sat in my car eating my bag lunch, hoping the sun would come back. And it did. I got a bunch of dark clouds with silver linings.

There are thousands of angels in Colma.
* * *
I used one of the sky shots to back up the same warrior. I could have him riding out of the graveyard, but I'm quite tired of working with him. Two of these images are hard won composites. Time to move on.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mostly a waste of time

I'm building a body of technical knowledge that will eventually pay off when there's something I want to do with an image to make it better or different in some particular way, though certainly not in the way of this composite image of the city and a sculpture I shot in Tokyo at the Imperial Palace, and so I've spent the morning tortuously working at isolating the sculpture, dropping it into a blank background and then....I'll spare you the rest of the steps. But it's cold and sort of raining out, Sibyl is busy on her play shelf, and it beats doing housework.

Yeah, I can do it in color too, but what the heck. Click it to enlarge; it's better bigger, though still boring.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hits and misses

I just missed getting this shot of Sibyl stretching. I was experimenting with spot exposure in low light (amazing that at 1/15 sec. there's no motion!) from about a foot away from her (I like to remain in my easy chair as long as I can while working).

Earlier, I taped a piece of plastic over my right eye so I could take a shower and wash my hair without getting water in my dressing. It worked, a big hit. Wednesday I had a tiny basal cell lesion removed from my lower eyelid, with a graft of skin harvested from behind that ear. The ear can get wet, but not the graft. My black eye is already gone.

School is over until January and I've started an intense program to finally learn how to use Photoshop. I've been limited to trial and error for the last two years, knowing there was much to learn. But I sure do get tired of sitting in this chair all day.

I haven't ridden since Wednesday, mainly because I knew I'd have to wash my hair and hadn't worked out a way to do it until today. It was really nice outside, too. If it's still sunny tomorrow, I'm outta here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Two views of Tut

I met my art history class at the de Young Museum early this morning and was amused by the banner ads for the Tutankhamun exhibit hanging outside the museum and peeking back inside through the windows. The one above frames General Sherman.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sunday's ride

The sun was shining and I needed to pedal my brains out after all that technical reading, and so I took off around the city clockwise, heading for Twin Peaks. Instead of going up Bosworth I took Chenery, which parallels it, but when it dead-ended at Glen Canyon Park, in order to get up to the main route to O'Shaughessy, I was faced with the steepest short pitch of road I think I've ever attempted. Luckily, I was riding the touring Bike Friday with really low gears, but it was so steep that falling over backwards was a real possibility and I threw my weight over the front wheel to prevent it. Scary. And I did it without breathing hard (it was no more than 300 ft.). After that, climbing Twin Peaks, Land's End, etc., was a piece of cake. But because I'm getting so old, I didn't sleep well last night, and my recovery takes more time. That's just the way it is now.

I took time to visit the Music Concourse in the park, where I saw this lonesome balloon vendor. I was surprised that the trees still had their leaves. I'll be going back to the de Young Museum for a class field trip on Friday and will see if they have begun to change in this week's cooler weather, though I don't think it's been cold enough yet.

Anyway, I didn't ride today, but I will tomorrow.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Studying my day away

Two texts on the new version of Adobe Photoshop, CS4, came from the library this week, and today the third used text that I'd ordered arrived in the mail. (Because it has a taped cover, they also sent me a Pocket Guide for free.) I'm learning lots of good stuff to speed up things I already know how to do, but the tough stuff is buried deeper and will take lots and lots of time to delve into and learn in any meaningful, useful way. So, of course, I sidetrack myself to work on an image, even if only a shot of all my books.

When I look at the hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures I've accumulated in the last three years I don't really see a consistent interest, except I do seem to like sculptures as subjects --- maybe because I really would like to do people, but people don't hold still unless you ask them to, and that's a whole other deal.

I should go back and bring out Father Maraschi's eyes, don't you think? And what about that "tear" rolling down his cheek --- remove it? Well, I don't really need to keep this image, I used it to practice with a lasso tool to desaturate the background.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Grapes on a bike

It was really foggy when we started on our ride to Rodeo Beach this morning, but a big group of cyclists were getting ready to ride as we left The Presidio. They passed us on the bridge. Wish I'd thought to wear a costume!

Once we got on the other side of the ridge the sun came out. Had a terrific ride with Dianna and Nancy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New photos

These were both taken in low light and I could say a lot about how digital technology has made this possible (neither image has noise and neither has been worked in Photoshop except to reduce the files for the Web), but I'll spare you. I'm having fun.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Trying is trying

I sit in the living room in an easy chair reading my new-to-me used texts on converting color digital images into snappy black & whites, and then when I come to my office and actually work an image I completely forget everything I've read. I need to learn just one exercise/process from the books well, never mind the image, until I know what I've learned. Yeah. I'll get right on that. Ha.

Nothing I've read lately went into processing this wimpy self-portrait. And being in b&w doesn't hide anything or flatter me much, it was just more fun to do.

In other news: Hercules has disappeared for the winter, even though it is summery here in SF. Sibyl (she's the one in color above) is probably going to lay another egg soon, which means she isn't great company while she solicits for a mate. But the dear, dear Freds in their big aquarium are always happy to see me, hoping I will give them some turtle chow. They too slow down a bit in the winter, but having lights on timers means they don't know when the days are short - I think I will change the timer.

I look forward to the winter, thinking I will study and contemplate and sew and cook and do all those indoor things I don't do when I ride a bike, any bike. And I have been better about not running away for several weeks, but writing the blog is really about procrastination from something, like now.

Yesterday I actually vacuumed most of my tiny cottage, even under the bed!; maybe next week I'll mop and wax the kitchen and bathroom floors.

But tomorrow I'm riding to Redwood City to see Kit. The heck with all this work!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Riding the waterfront

There was no sign of the sun today, but in spite of the gloomy sky I took off riding around the waterfront after lunch. The crowds were thicker, there were many more hazards from passengers opening their car doors into the bike path and jumping out into traffic, but I knew it was Fleet Week and enjoyed the sight of people having a good time.

I was passing the Hyde Street Pier when some fighter jets started their show and I assumed they were the Blue Angels. I thought perhaps I'd become jaded, they were rather slow, too tame.

And then VA-ROOM! the real deal, the Blue Angels exploded overhead! They hit the right note to put goose flesh on your arms and tingles up your spine. Whooeee.

The first year they hit this town I went to see them with my mother. We were standing on the Marina Green when they flew straight at us, we could see into the jets and into the cockpit, they were that much right in front of us. That was also the year they buzzed the tall buildings in the financial district, causing serious panic.

They've been a lot tamer ever since.

I try to forget what they're designed to do. How much they cost. Etc.

The real show, though, was a flock of pelicans diving into Aquatic Park for their supper. Neither the noise nor the crowds deterred them in the least. My little camera couldn't catch the action. (This was taken in Santa Cruz.)

Right after this tight formation of Blue Angels went past, a flock of six pelicans flew by us in the same tight formation---right in front of this crowd on the end of a Ft. Mason pier, barely over our heads. Everyone applauded them.

Love the Angels, love the pelicans.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Man in the Purple Hat

I was taking a picture of this orchid display in the Conservatory of Flowers when this man walked into my frame. I couldn't believe his purple hat, but there it is.

(OK, so it's really lavender, but I like the sound of The Man in the Purple Hat better.)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Best if Used by

I made a big pot of pinto beans today, and in my family we'd have fried potatoes, cornbread, wilted spinach and sliced tomatoes to go with the beans, and so I went into the pantry for cornbread fixin's. You can't see it well in this photo, but I wrote "4/11/04" on its lid with a marker to show when I opened the can (and probably not used since).

That got me pulling other things out and, sure enough, most expiration dates are many years old. I'll fill the garbage bin tomorrow with an unopened tin of Crisco and boxed soups and other odds & ends - they're even too old for a Food Bank donation.

You either have to cook things like this often, or not at all.

But five years since I needed baking powder? That's pathetic.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Homesick for San Francisco

Yes. I know I live here. I often tell people I'm a hopeless tourist in my own town, and it's true.

Last weekend I bought a used copy of Travelers' Tales - San Francisco at the big Friends' of the Library book sale in Ft. Mason. Instead of reading class assignments I'm indulging my love of The City (don't call it Frisco! - but I jest; I don't actually mind when yahoos stab me with that word) while a cold virus works its unforgiving way through my upper respiratory tract.

Reading about North Beach I'm remembering my days at the art school on Chestnut, sitting out on the balcony, listening to the soft, distant cable car bells and fog horns, not painting. Another time I'm sitting on the tracks on the still hard-working waterfront, drawing with pen and ink. . . .thought I was oh so bohemian in my black tights and Capezio shoes.

I have so many sweet memories in this town, right up to this week (I'd say today, but I haven't left the house since Tuesday). It's always interesting. Never boring. And maybe homesick is the wrong word, but a frequently felt sudden fear that it could be taken away (think The Big One) keeps me always aware of where I am in my city, awake to its beauties. Warts and all.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hercules the Strong

Photo taken by Corey - see Cinderella's nose?

His namesake has nothing on him. I saw it for myself: Hercules was nose-to-nose with my neighbor's husky, seemingly trying to get at the dog---even going underneath the gate to stick his head up on the other side so the dog could touch him.

I kept hearing about this, but today I heard Corey talking to Cinderella (the husky), looked out my window and watched the encounter. I wanted to get my camera but was afraid to leave and miss the sight.

Cindy was called away and I went down in the yard to make sure the gate wouldn't open. Cindy returned, Hercules returned, and they were again nose to nose. It was very weird.

He keeps making a circuit around his little yard, not eating, just stomping around. He's getting ready to go underground for the winter. I brought him into the house to cool off and settle down after his husky encounter. I let him wander around inside the house for awhile, but found him upside down in the bathroom when he tried to climb the wall. He doesn't understand walls.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

All about the pets

Photographer at Pacifica

I got back from a hard but great ride down the coast late yesterday and still had time to drive across the Bay Bridge to get Sibyl from birdie camp. She did not lay another egg while there.

I spent today cleaning and getting food for me and washing a lot of lycra. The box turtle, Hercules, was out stomping around his yard, looking for his dinner. The western painted turtles in the kitchen, the Freds, were no worse for going five days without food. I fed them twice and cleaned the filter.

But the winner is: my pet spider in the bathroom window. He gets an ant or two on his own, waiting patiently, but on three occasions I have lifted an ant from the floor and dropped it on his web. It takes him about three seconds to come out from the crevice where he hides and then I leave the room. I can't bear watching.

Sibyl took a long shower with me this afternoon and after preening every feather, is napping.

Monday, September 07, 2009

06:24 Monday morning

I'm drinking my coffee, thinking about the road ahead and all the times I've ridden Highway 1 from San Francisco south. Probably twenty times by now. I can go on auto-pilot. I can tell you every tree I've used for a pit stop, every turn in the road.

With saddle and pedals my bike weighs 22 lbs. (Before the heavier wheel set it was 18.5.). Now, fully loaded, with front and back racks, full water bottles and the long-shackle U-lock, it's 53 lbs., and so I'm hauling 31 lbs. I've done this trip with a lot less---just one set of bike clothes, no camera---and a lot more---a tent and camping gear and food, over 40 lbs., but still light. I could drop another pound or two today, but I won't. I'm taking a slim book (8 oz.) and my iPod/radio and at least a pound of gorp and Clif bars (I could buy that on the road).

It's 56 miles from my house to the lighthouse at Pigeon Point. In an hour or so, I'll ride across the Mission to City College, through SF State, skirting Lake Merced to Skyline in Daly City---where I'll meet Judy---up the hill and through the ticky-tacky houses into Pacifica, over Devil's Slide and down the coast, stopping for lunch in Half Moon Bay, detouring later into Pescadero for artichoke soup at Duarte's and for a bag of food to have at Pigeon Pt., and, finally, getting to the hostel by the time they open to grab a lower bunk. We'll sign up for the hot tub overlooking the sea, where we'll watch pelicans and seals. Will we go first thing, or at sunset?

I always keep notes on my long rides. I'll have to wait until I get home to add them, though.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Rarin' to go

This was taken in Portugal, five years ago*. I've replaced the wheels on my Bike Friday, Petite Pocket Crusoe with a sturdier, heavier pair, so it weighs a bit more. I also have a heavy camera and gear in a new, somewhat more compact trunk bag, and for a trip down the coast I'm not taking rain gear (hear that?), but whether I'm going for one or for many weeks, I take about the same stuff.

I'm all packed and wonder if I should take the whole kit 'n caboodle out for a spin tomorrow.

* this photo is on page 4 of the new Bike Friday catalog.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

One tough egg, one fast mouse

That's yesterday's egg. On Sunday, the first egg for this cycle was very thin and so I not only started adding calcium, but I doubled the amount I sprinkle on her wet food. Three days later she quietly dropped another egg into her basket (it is usually dropped from a high perch and it usually breaks). It was cold when I found it and solid. Perhaps too solid. I can see the excess calcium on its surface. Finding the right amount to supplement will be my next task.

I caught the field mouse in the act today, eating my box turtle Hercules' left-overs. I did see Herc eating earlier, so he got his share first.

The mouse looked up at me with his great big ears and then, lickity-split, off he went.

Hercules has to be quick to get his food before this guy gets wind of it.


I packed my panniers to ride down the coast next week. 4.5 lbs. each. Not bad.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Waiting for the sun to shine

East Beach on a foggy day

It's nearly 10:00 in the morning and I'm waiting for some sun. I'm also waiting for Sibyl to drop an egg. Eggnant parrots are broody and quiet. I need to drive her to birdie camp this evening and would rather she not be post-egg and tired. She usually naps for a day after producing her egg. I might wait until tomorrow evening to take her; after that the Bay Bridge will be closed and I'll have to drive 50 miles to go what is usually only ten.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A mural, a ride (and a movie)

A week ago today, I came across this stunning WPA mural in the San Geronimo Valley Community Center, where I'd gone with Beverly for a gathering of Bill Witherup's family and friends to remember him with readings and stories.

The mural was commissioned for the Lagunitas school, the original occupant of the building, and was painted in 1934, by Maurice Del Mue. It is 7 x 15 feet, but seems much larger. It feels almost life size and is down low enough for children to see without craning their necks; a very warm, intimate mural. I couldn't get it out of my mind.

Yesterday, Theresa and I rode from Woodacre to Pt. Reyes Station and on a chance the Center would be open, we detoured hoping to see it. The Center was locked, but a man opened the door for us and we stood looking at the mural for a too brief time. It's been recently restored, and, even unlit, it glows.

As we rode on to the coast it was getting warmer. By the time we'd had our late morning, Bovine Bakery almond croissant it was downright hot. And as we turned back inland it was getting even hotter.

I suddenly remembered NOT locking my car, and my small camera was in it! I told Theresa to stop often (no point in our both getting heat stroke) but I needed to get to my car fast. And I rode as hard and as fast as I could, never stopping.

Sweat and sunscreen dripped into my eyes. I was nearly blind and out of water by the time I got to my car. It was indeed unlocked, but intact. I threw my bike inside and drove back to get Theresa; and a car with a bike on top honked coming at me. When I could, I made a U-turn, and, as I thought, Theresa had been picked up on the other side of the hill. She'd been close to heat stroke, had goose bumps, not sweating. Nick of time rescue.

So. If it hadn't been hotter 'n hell, it would have been a great ride. In the twenty or so years we've been riding together we've had more than a few misadventures and stories to tell - but they've all ended well.

And I'd like to see that mural again and again.

P.S. To avoid today's repeat heat I went to an air-conditioned movie: Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds." Whew! Incredible. It was terrific.

The fog bank is due back tonight. I can already feel it on its way.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Klaatu barada nikto

Last night I watched the remake of "The War of the Worlds," and, in spite of Tom Cruise, I was riveted, just like I was for the original in 1953. Too bad it was interrupted by television commercials every few minutes, though they did give me a chance to catch my breath. Oh, thank you Spielberg for doing it right (well, except for the silly soap opera, which was easily ignored). Just wish I'd seen it on the big screen; great special effects. I believed it. Oh the horror!

Yeah, I'm a sucker for creature features and good sci-fi movies. My first was "The Thing from Another World!" 1951.

When the dog fell out of
that bin, I was so frightened I thought my arm had been frozen. It took several heartbeats before I figured out it was just in a plaster cast.

(Earlier that week I'd had my arm straightened under anaesthesia and was wearing the cast. My arm was crooked because I didn't know I couldn't ride my little brother's push-scooter no-hands, the way I could my bicycle. Anyway, riding it down Valley Drive, the extremely steep hill we lived on---I seem to always live on really steep hills---I lifted both hands off the handle, wheeeeee, SPLAT, right on my left hand. Naturally, I cried and whined about my wrist hurting, but my mother just kept telling me to shut up. A week later a neighbor said, Edna, her arm is crooked, just look at it. So she was shamed into taking me to the doctor and of course it was broken and had to be reset.)

But, really, my all-time favorite is still "The Day the Earth Stood Still." When Helen has to remember to say "Klaatu barada nikto" to stop Gort, well, I've spent the rest of my life trying to remember that phrase, just in case.

Really, if you didn't grow up in the 50s or 60s, when they really knew how to make scary B-movies, you can't know how much fun they were. "Them!" "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" "The Blob" "Creature from the Black Lagoon" "The Day of the Triffids" Jeez, they were awful. But who knew? Scared a very young me.

Then "Night of the Living Dead," 1968, not even seen in a theatre, but on Bob Wilkins' Creature Features on Channel 2, scared the shit out of me, and I wasn't so young anymore . . .I had to move away from my window, huddling against the wall, totally freaked. I was a real Bob Wilkins fan. He was so droll. (Googling: he has a Web site; he lives on!) I usually fell asleep before a movie ended, but that was OK.

The newer B creature features are a bit gross and I don't waste any money on them, and I don't think you can ever top that first "Aliens," but maybe I'll go see "District 9" on the big screen this week. Yeah.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Bad Air day

I roped Jill into modeling for me this morning, but it was so hazy that I didn't get what I wanted, though I do like this one.

And then she turned her iPhone on us.

At some point she'll send me the picture of me taking this picture of her. We did have fun. When the air clears maybe we'll try it again.

And here it is: