Jackie Link's Blog

- A blog for no good reason

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

No escargot for Hercules

Last year at this time my neighbor Barbara brought me 45+ snails of all sizes for Hercules, my box turtle. This year she could only find two large and one tiny snail. I could find none in the yards around my cottage. This is very, very disconcerting.

Why no snails this year?

I'll have to feed him chicken.

He came out of hibernation sometime in the last two weeks. I saw him twice sunning himself this week. There was mud in his water dish where he'd soaked. I ran out and bought him blueberries at Trader Joe's ($2.99 vs $6.99 at Rainbow Grocery).

My mood takes a huge swing up when I see Hercules in the spring. I'm so relieved he made it through another winter, buried in the ground somewhere in his little yard.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Tomorrow I will get up early and ride down to the Ferry Bldg., where I will take a ferry to Larkspur, where I will meet Theresa to ride around Paradise, and then I will ride all the way home. I haven't been riding for three weeks, thanks to rain, rain, and more rain. I can hardly wait.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chasing tulips

I got there too late this morning for the right light and was again disappointed by the display this year - though if you like yellow, this is your year. There's a window of sun that comes between the large cypress trees, and I missed it.

It was good to turn the pedals on a bike again today. Yesterday, Diane and I drove all the way to the far south bay for the Velo Girls' ride, hoping for a break in the weather. It was raining when we got there, but worse was the intense spring winds, and so we turned around and headed back home. And, wouldn't you know, as soon as we gave up the sun came out for the rest of the day. We got to see the beautiful green hills at 70 mph instead of fifteen. (More like 5 mph headed into the wind on a bike for me!)

I hope they plant red bulbs next year. I really want to replace the too-low resolution JPG files from two years ago. I loved the red tulips and yellow Icelandic poppies that year.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rain, every weekend?

I'm going stir-crazy. No ride last weekend because of rain, and then I spent the week on other stuff. Now it's supposed to rain again tonight and tomorrow, once again interfering with the Velo Girls Cinderella Training Rides! Not fair.

I could have gone riding today, though I didn't know it wouldn't rain - it sure looked like it was about to all day long. I pulled a few weeds, but mainly I sat here and copied old image files to rework to try to sell. No wonder I'm getting a big butt.

We're hoping to delay the ride start until late morning, when perhaps the sun will come out, after all. Got my fingers crossed and getting my gear ready, just in case.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Back in business

My internet connection disappeared on me yesterday while listening to a podcast. It took all day yesterday and some of today to get my DSL line back. You know the drill: tracing every line, switching and checking every piece of equipment, replacing the modem at great cost, and finally ordering the truck to come out and check the ISP's line....and after umpteen calls, it was indeed their line that failed. I took the modem back for a refund, so all I lost was time, lots of time, and aggravation.

I can still process old images, like this Darth Vader-like sculpture in front of St. Germain des Pres, but to research the keywords to put it up for sale (as if someone in cyber-world will buy my work) I need the internet. It took some doing, but I found the sculptor, Ossip Zadkine, a Russian living and working in Paris until he died in 1965, and the name, 'Promethee,' 1955/1956.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Wild Parrot & more about Hirsute Portraits

I hadn't been hearing or seeing the wild parrots very much lately, but spring is almost here and they'll be entertaining us along the waterfront again. This guy was having words with a crow as I was riding along The Embarcadero yesterday.

Off & on all day today, I've been researching the odd painting I put here two days ago, thanks to my friend Dianna's insistence on knowing more about the subject. If one is persistent, one can find anything via Google - and this took many links before I finally got to it. I started with "hirsutism in children." When I added "France," I got to a page in "France for Dummies," giving me the location and title of the painting, "L"Hirsutism" at the Chateau de Blois, but nothing else. I saved their reproduction in order to get background information, and from there I found another name, Antonietta Gonsalvus - which led me to her father, Pedro Gonzales (Petrus Gonsalvus), from the Canary Islands. So, that poor creature is a young girl, painted in the court of a king.

Based on documents, this painting is the portrait of Petrus Gonsalvus, born in 1556 on Tenerife. As a child he came to the court of the French King Henry II, who became his tutor. Petrus Gonsalvus and his family, especially his hirsuite children, were popular objects of medical research in these times. Now doctors found out that their 'odd appearance' was the results of a sickness, known as hipertricose.

...and I just keep finding more interesting links, like this blog about Musica & Arte by Ninon.

I meant to work in the yard or the basement today, not stay sitting in this chair!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Rainy Sunday

I got all my gear ready, set the alarm and went to bed early. I got up at 06:00, ate a big breakfast and was headed out the door - and it was raining.

I hemmed and hawed about whether it would quit soon, whether it was worth it to get all wet trying to get my bike in my car to drive over to Ft. Mason to meet the Velo Girls, tried calling Lyn and used the wrong list (hope I didn't wake her husband), finally talked to her and decided to bag it for today. I don't mind riding in the rain once I'm riding and warmed up, but to get wet and cold before I start, not a good idea. I wonder if they did the ride. . . .

I bet there's a good story that goes with this painting of either a werewolf, or a very hairy child. I took it somewhere in the Loire Valley in 2006, and used it today to learn a new method for straightening perspective.

Here's the untouched original. If I'd included the whole frame when I took it I would have included it in the crop; it's a nice frame.

I got my PC laptop updated (yet again) so I could go through more Adobe tutorials while laying on the couch and it was pretty much stuff I already know, until I got to this new trick. It will come in handy.

But I really need to take some new pictures to play with.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Existential ennui, poppies & then Gypsies

I am bogged down with existential ennui, winter funk, the blahs. I Don't Feel Like Playing blues. I'm waiting, more or less patiently, for the next new thing, for the excitement to return. Not unhappy. Not happy. Blah.

Maybe worrying about the world's and my money doesn't help with the mood-thing?

I stuck the big camera on my back and went riding around the waterfront this afternoon, no destination in particular. I passed these Icelandic poppies in a wrought-iron bicycle flower stand at one of the piers on The Embarcadero, thought they might be worth trying to capture and rode back. There were too many other things in the frame to use the whole bicycle, but at least it gave me something to bring home.

I stopped at the Friends of the Library Book Bay in Ft. Mason, looking for Hemingway's "For Whom the Bell Tolls," needed for my next class in April. They didn't have a copy, but I came across an interesting book about the Gypsies in the south of France, called "Little Money Street," by Fernanda Eberstadt, and bought it.

The Gypsies would often overwhelm the ER where I worked and I've done a lot of reading about them over the years, trying to deal with feelings they aroused. When they came to town, usually the same clans each season, our ER at Children's Hospital was where they came with any illness. But if one was sick (and one was always sick), the entire clan had to participate, tying up our phone lines, taking all the space in the waiting room, raising the noise level beyond belief. The funny thing, though, they never used their real names, so the long-distance callers from around the world never knew who to ask for and I had to just leave them on Hold, terminal Hold. Oh, it was a challenge, never easy.

Once, many years after Children's Hospital merged with PMC, I was walking on Fillmore St. during the Street Fair when one of the Gypsy women "working" the fair greeted me enthusiastically, like a dear old friend. She was one of the matriarchs and I had never, ever, in over ten years, seen her smile before, and there she was, acting like I was family. What could I do? I smiled back. She didn't bear a grudge for all the mean looks I'd given them all. Sigh.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Oh the loneliness of a Course Marshall at Turn 5.....actually, two old teammates from two years ago walked the course, Erin, who is due with a baby boy in May, and Anna, due in September, and we chatted a bit. Both were so happy, and say they'll be back in the race, lickety-split.

There was a broken water dept. "manhole" cover which flipped up if hit just right, creating a serious obstacle on my turn. The first time it happened it was spray painted, but there was no way to fix it. In a later crit, it was flipped and crashed two riders, neither was hurt. I had to use the radio for the first time, ever. The best I could do was to remember it was Turn 5. Course Marshall 7 was one number too many. They got the message.

The sun came out and I was relieved at my post by Michelle, another teammate, and rode my Brompton back past the Start/Finish while the Women's Elite crit was about to finish. I was cheered as I pedaled like mad past the Finish. We all had a good laugh.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Green hills, blue sky

It was a gloriously beautiful, nearly wind-free day for our Velo Girls' Cinderella training ride in the east bay, the hills a gaudy green, impossible to get enough of when you're riding through them. I had slower riders to keep me company and was quite happy to sweep the long climbs at a leisurely pace.

Just noted - Lance twittered on the day in mid-February when Judy and I followed the Tour of California: "Holy hell. That was terrible. Maybe one of the toughest days I've had on a bike, purely based on the conditions. I'm still freezing." What a difference the sun makes!

It was a long drive to the southern east bay (Fremont), and I'm just home, waiting for Sibyl to finish eating so I can take my shower. Wish I could take a nap after not getting enough sleep last night. Have to be in Menlo Park early tomorrow morning for the Grand Prix, which the Velo Girls is putting on, with over 600 registered racers, all levels.

Ah. Shower time.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Me and Greed

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about money and greed and what it all means to me, and trying to figure out if I should be doing something I’m not doing to nail down what I have before it’s all gone.

So, I’ve been researching my own records, compiling data, seeing where it all stands; and what I’ve discovered is that I made a big pile of pretend money. Yes, I should have known to lock in my earnings a year ago (and I even thought of doing it), but historically I’ve let my long-term investments ride out the ups & downs of the booms & busts, to my long-run advantage. But I think I'm running out of long-run. . . .

And here’s where thinking about greed comes in: I wanted to keep all that rising-market money that I thought I had “earned.” I still have most of it. But other than investing, I didn’t work for it – that’s why I call it pretend money, paper money. But that really is unrealistic - to think I can get it, that which I never really had, back - in this New World Order - that's being greedy. Time to let that phantom money go.

The news is dizzying, isn't it? Can you grasp billions? Here's a parenthetical zinger from a book review, Heroes and Zeroes, by John Lanchester, in The New Yorker: (Try the following thought experiment, suggested by the mathematician John Allen Paulos, in his book “Innumeracy”: Without doing the calculation, guess how long a million seconds is. Now try to guess the same for a billion seconds. Ready? A million seconds is less than twelve days; a billion is almost thirty-two years.)

Yeah. It's only money.

The deed is done: I've locked in my losses; converted it all to cash. Will I sleep better?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


There he is, my snapping turtle helper. Snapper had lived on my dashboard for ten or more years, but my new Honda Fit has such a deep dashboard that I couldn't reach him from behind the wheel, and so I got a new turtle to live there and this guy lives on the passenger seat next to me. Whenever I have my lights on during the day, or when I'm about to run out of gas, I put him in my lap. As yesterday proved, that was not an infallible reminder, not sufficiently idiot-proof for this idiot, and I thought I'd have to stick him in my waistband from now on when I need the reminder. But he fits right into my purse perfectly.

Oh, by the way, I had to pay $20 for a non-electronic door key (it's $75 for the electronic key) to put in my wallet because I can't tell you how many times I have locked my keys in a car by pushing down that door-lock button and slamming the door shut, just as I'm thinking, Ummm, do I have my keys? On my last car I was able to duct tape a plastic AAA door key to the back of my license plate, but on my new car I can't get my hand behind the plates. It is imperative that I keep my purse around my body at all times, bandolier-style, so I don't lock the keys in the ignition in a running car, leaving my purse on the seat---with the extra key in it---as I shut and accidentally lock the door.

Snapper likes it in my purse. I can tell.

When car keys don't work

I went to class yesterday morning in the rain so driving home I had my lights on.

I have this trick of putting a big plastic turtle in my lap when I have my car lights on during the day so I won't forget to turn them off. Well, I double-parked to take my two big laundry baskets into the laundromat---taking the turtle off my lap to do so---and then moved the car a block to park.

During the two hours it took me to do four loads of laundry the sun came out and I could walk the block back to my car without getting everything wet. But my #%&*! electronic key wouldn't work, so I used it like a regular key to open the door, pulled up the lock buttons to open the back door to put my laundry baskets in, and then used the key to try and start the car---and that's when I figured out my battery was dead. Sure enough, the lights had been left on.

And one of those things would have set off the alarm if there'd been enough juice, but instead a red light on the dash kept clicking at me. (I had to get out the manual to figure out what that blinking/clicking red light meant.)

I called AAA, hoping not to be left on Hold until my cell battery ran down, and I got lucky: he came right away. As soon as he put the charger on, it gave the alarm the juice it needed, which he knew to put the key in the ignition to stop.

After the AAA guy left, I discovered it had knocked out my radio, which told me in bold letters, "Enter Code." What code? I called Honda, they told me where to find the code on the impossible to read, outside edge of the opened glove compartment, where only a car-radio thief would know to look. I had to open the car door and contort myself nearly upside down to read it, and the code didn't work, perhaps because I'd already tried punching a button or two to guess at it. Since I had to keep the car running for 15-20 minutes to charge the battery I drove down to the dealer's on So. Van Ness, thinking it'll probably work once I've turned off the ignition and turned it back on again - and that is indeed what happened.

And so, now I have to remember to keep that bloody big turtle tucked in my waistband, or something, or it will happen again someday, you can bet on it.

Work, work, work. But the ugly floor is cleaner, the walls are freshly painted, and soon we'll be back to what passes for normal here.