Sunday, January 31, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 31

Taken: January 31, 2010, approx. 6:40 p.m.
Location: Sunset Strip, Hollywood, CA

Today marks the completion of one month of my project and I'm still shooting. I was trying to get a Blade Runner feel with these shots which were both taken on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.  These two are my favorite of the few I shot. The first -- obviously -- was a mistake but nonetheless, I like it. The second is why driving the Sunset Strip always makes me feel like I'm in a world created by Philip K. Dick as imagined by Ridley Scott.

Took these with my K100D at a 50mm focal point -- through my front windshield. I used my dashboard as the tripod. Edited lightly in Photoshop.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 30

Taken: January 30, 2010, approx 10:20 p.m.
Location: Los Angeles, CA

This is my lame attempt at capturing the view from my friend's house off Roscomare in Los Angeles, where I happen to be staying this week. Just over that ridge is a pretty big swath of the LA basin, from Beverly Hills to downtown. Pretty cool in person. It was a foggy, partly cloudy night and despite a devastatingly perfect full moon, the view wasn't crystal clear. I shot this with a make-shift tripod and my K100D at a focal point of 95mm and a 1.5 second exposure.

I might give this another try before I had back home.

Friday, January 29, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 29

Taken: January 29, 2010, appox. 4:30 p.m.
Location: Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, Ca.

My days of being a commuter have been few and far between but they've never been farther away now that I live in the rural confines of wine country. In my town, "traffic" is seeing another car on your street. "Commuting" is a five-minute drive or a 20-minute bike trip to my office and rush hour is a distant, painful experience that happens to other people.

In L.A., "going nowhere fast" refers to your career but going somewhere slow, well that's another word for "sig alert".

I've seen more traffic jams in the last five days here in Los Angeles than I've seen in three years living in Healdsburg. A pictorial diary of my stay here would just not be complete without some image of L.A.'s notorious traffic. Few places get jammed up as completely as the stretch of Sunset Blvd. between Brentwood and the 405 Freeway. It's a mess that turns what would normally be a five-minute trip into a 50-minute one. Scenes like the one above can only be confronted with what I call "Traffic Zen," which is infinite amounts of patience and a full iPod, preferably turned up high. Singing at the top of your lungs is always a good time-suck, though if you've got pipes like mine, it's preferable to make sure the windows are rolled up all the way. 

If you're gonna be out there, might as well make the most of it.

Taken with my K100D. The license plates of the cars in the foreground were digitally altered. I used Photoshop to do an enhance and edit, including using a high-pass filter.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 28

Taken: January 28, 2010, sunset
Location: Bel Air, CA

Today was one of those days that made me regret starting this project. Haven't even been at this a month and already searching hard for images -- like I'm running out of ideas.  This photo was one of several I snapped as the sun was setting outside a small market on Roscomare Drive, one of the canyon connector roads that link the Westside with the Valley.  I didn't like them and continued to take photos -- it's possible I shot everything in my room tonight -- but nothing really grabbed me. I should know better - forcing it never works.  Ah, but when in doubt, turn to ice cream ... or Photoshop. Ha. This moody image  reminds me of an old Western movie -- it's not that far off from the original though I did add a couple of color filters to bring out the hues of the setting sun.

Took this with my K100D, 18mm lens. Edited majorly in Photoshop.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 27

Taken: January 27, 2010, approx 10:20 p.m.
Location: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Wilshire Blvd.

My friend Susie lives very close to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). On the way to her house tonight for dinner,  I drove right by the museum and the installation of street lamps gracing the building's entrance. It has always intrigued me as a photographic subject (I'm not the only one it seems) and I wasn't going to miss my chance this time. The installation is called Urban Light by artist Chris Burden and features more than 200 restored street lamps arranged in columns. It's impressive during the day but at night, it's a glowing beacon on Wilshire that can be seen from several blocks away.

The last few years when I've been in LA, I've passed by it a lot and I also tell myself I'm going to stop and take a photo of it. Well, now that I need to take a photo every day, it wasn't hard to finally make good on the promise to myself so I pulled over late tonight on my way back to my crash pad on the West Side. I set up by K100, using the manual exposure and shutter settings and went to work. Getting the color and light balance was tough despite the light and I ended up using a photo filter in Photoshop (a combination of sepia and a cooling blue filter did the trick on this shot). While I was shooting, two girls pulled up behind me and started taking photos of themselves standing among the lights. I love the way people participate and interact with outdoor art installations like this one. I imagine it's never quite the way the artist or museum intends.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 26

Taken: January 25, 2010, approx 8:30 p.m.
Location: San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood, CA

Long day in the City of Angels. Took a lot of photos but this was the only one I felt like sharing. Mama said there'd be days like this. I gotta get back to writing.  Shot with my K100D.

Monday, January 25, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 25

Taken: January 25, 2010, sunset
Location: I-5 at Kettleman Road

Because I get most of my work in Los Angeles, I travel down from Northern California every few weeks or so. I don't think there's anything I love more than long, solo drives with as many songs as I can cram onto my iPod. As long as I can remember when I used to make the regular trek between New York and Washington, D.C. (where I'm from and where I lived the first 10 years of my adulthood), I've loved to take road trips. I've driven across country and stopped or passed by most of the contiguous United States, minus about five spots in the middle of the country. When I was younger, I always drove at night -- I could see better back then and there was something about a wide-open empty road that sparked the world of my imagination. I did a lot of writing in my head in those days and except for perhaps the shower, I still do my best creative thinking in my car, by myself with my music playing.

Today's drive was easy despite some minor bad weather. I caught very little traffic and stayed pretty much ahead of the rains. Coming down off the Grapevine, the L.A. basin was clear as far as you could see, the lights twinkling like stars, like possibilities.  Made me think of a line from a Counting Crows song: "You can see a million miles tonight but you can't get very far."

These were taken with my K100D on the Kettleman Road exit off I-5 just as the sun was setting. I did a bit of editing in Photoshop. Had to as I messed up the exposure a bit. Hell, I'm still learning.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 24

Taken: January 24, 2010, approx. 1:30 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, CA

This picture makes me a little sad because it caught my pug Louie in the process of coughing. Since an operation he had in December, he's been coughing/gagging constantly. It's awfully heartbreaking to see and hear. We've been trying to isolate the problem for weeks and the answers we've gotten are not the ones we want to hear. Turns out Louie's got a nasty bug in his lungs and it's highly resistant to most antibiotics. If we don't find something that works soon, there's a good chance it will turn into pneumonia. And in his condition and at his age, that could very well be the end of him.

If there's anything that Louie has proved over the time we've had him, it's that he's tough. I expect him to get through this but I wouldn't be honest with myself if I didn't face the prospect that he might very well be in a fight for his life. So, that's why today it's all about Louie.

I had off to Los Angeles for a week. No pugs or Russian River shots for a few days. Ha.

Taken with my K100D using the internal flash. Edited, as usual, in Photoshop.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 23

Taken: January 23, 2010, approx. 5:30 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, CA

We had a break in the rain and the sky was bright with big puffy clouds dancing across a bluing sky. We're not done with the rain yet but it was a nice preview of the coming spring. Don't know about y'all, but I can't wait. Still, I'm in a black and white kind of a mood -- it's still winter after all -- and after messing about in Photoshop, this image seemed to evoke the moment the best.

This is the bridge I drive over every day.  Taken with my K100D. Edited to black and white with Photoshop.

Friday, January 22, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 22

Taken: January 22, 2010, approx. 2 p.m.
Location: Russian River, Healdsburg, Ca

I told y'all I was going to get a shot of the Russian River's rain-aided rapids. Well here they are. I've been looking around for a spot to get a better vantage point and while this gave me some good angles, I saw a better location across the river that I might try in the coming days.

Both shots taken this with my K100D, 18-55mm lens, edited just a bit in Photoshop.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Update on Louie the Pug

Louie and I have returned from UC Davis Vet hospital. Louie's doing much better. Thanks everybody for your good wishes.  It's going to be awhile before he gets his groove back but his prognosis is a lot better today than it was last week.

365 Photo Project - Day 21

Taken: January 21, 2010, 5:19 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, CA

It was a long, long day today. Rain again, lots of it and lots of work, too. The kind of day where I sat at my desk until it was time to go and it felt like I’d only been sitting there for no more than 10 minutes. It was nearly five hours.
I had guests for dinner tonight so I had to cut out early. No real time to stop or even veer off my route so today’s photo is a routine one. This restaurant, one of the oldest in the area, is at the foot of my road. I use it as a landmark when I tell people how to get to the house. I’ve only been to this place once – it’s known for its pizzas. But I’m not eating many of those these days.
Shot this in the rain, right at sunset with my K100D and 18-55mm lens. Edited very minimally in Photoshop.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 20

Taken: January 20, 2010, approx 2:30 p.m.
Location: Campus of UC Davis

A few posts ago I tried to be convincing about not being one of those people who's into her stuff so this post might seem to fly in the face of that.  But there are some relationships in your life that involve you and a thing that are so completely satisfying, it's worth celebrating a little.

And my relationship with this machine has been a love affair of car and girl and open road, one I'm not even remotely ashamed of. Vroom, Vroom!

This car also represented a sort of turning point for me as -- it's the truly really adult car I've ever owned. The rest were hatchbacks, zippy little fun cars with small or no backseats and phony leather interiors. Jack Bauer bought this car from me. Or rather writing about Jack Bauer did -- I was on staff for 24, Season 2 and this was my present to myself when my VW got nearly totaled (on the first anniversary of 9/11 when it was parked, defenseless on the street -- obviously a story for another time). I thought I'd have traded this baby in by now but I just love driving it. Okay, "love:  is a strong word and I do not use it lightly but if you're like me and your Dad passed onto you his love of foreign cars and driving and just the feel of racking and rolling from gear-to-gear, then you'd have no trouble understanding my passion.

Oh yeah, it's a five-speed, yessir.  A dying breed of car these days, certainly in the 5 Series. That and the styling and beautiful leather and polished walnut-trim interior make it as comfortable as it is enormously satisfying to drive.

The real reason I'm talking about my wheels today though is because we have passed a milestone together -- having just cruised up and over 100,000 miles on the odometer. And still going strong. It's truly a remarkably well-made machine, that it still rides like a dream after 100,000 miles is a testament to that. Don't even try to convince me we Americans make a car as cool and fun to drive as this one. We don't even make one whose doors shut with such a satisfying solid thunk. And yeah, I know it's expensive but from the day I bought it in October 2002 until October 2008, it was covered by a complete warranty which made owning it was an incredible bargain. Probably why it's still in such great shape.

I have my eye on a new set of wheels but I've got to get my dog's medical bills paid for and a new writing gig would be nice too. Still, no matter what happens it's going to be a sad day for me when I finally let this baby go.

I shot this with my K100D and edited it in Photoshop.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 19

Taken: January 19, 2010, approx 2:10 p.m.
Location: UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, Davis, CA

Everything in this picture belongs to my pug, Louie. That's his leash and his dog tags and yeah, that's his UC Davis VMTH file.  Seems like it should be bigger to me. It is in dollar signs, that's for sure. Louie's back in Davis for another procedure, this one to investigate why he's been coughing/gagging since an operation he had done in December, also at Davis. It's been a long time without a diagnosis. Hopefully this time, we'll figure it out.
Louie and my husband and me have been on a brief, yet long journey together since we got him from rescue in 2005. He’s had numerous operations to repair a chronic bone infection in his right ear and for awhile he was taking more medications than my Pop, who is 83 and recovering from a heart attack. The money wasn’t all spent at once and nobody really knew the total cost until I added it all up trying to get Uncle Sam to let me write it off my taxes – you can pretty much figure out how that went. We’re talking five figures people. Yessir, that’s serious coinage.
And yet, here we are again.
Everyone I know and who knows sweet Louie is rooting for him to get better.  And yet more than one person has inquired about the cost, suggesting directly or indirectly that I ought to have a limit. I’m not mad. It’s a fair question. Hell, it’s a question I ask myself all the time.  I don’t have an answer.
The last two months will set me back another five grand. It’s money I can hardly afford to spend right now.  I’ve heard the arguments about quality of life, about being too selfish to let an animal go when it’s his time.  And while, I’m not going to be one of those people that keeps a suffering dog alive just to save myself from a broken heart, I’m also not going to let him go before his time.
People don’t always understand spending thousands of dollars on a pet’s medical care but those are the same people that wouldn’t think twice about spending it on a sick person, maybe even a stranger.  I often wonder why anyone sees logic or humanity in putting an animal to sleep because its care is too expensive. I don’t know how anyone could put a price on a beloved pet.  I just can’t do that math.
Things I do know: Louie is a fighter.  He stands tall and wags his tail. That twinkle in his one good eye is real, the up-tick in his step when he greets me at the door is genuine, the joy in his pug dance when he knows we’re going for a ride in the car is authentic.  This dog loves life. Who am I to tell him it’s only worth x number of dollars? Yeah, fuck that.
It’s obvious I love Louie with all my heart. He’s very special to me. I’m as close to him spiritually as I am with anyone, four legs or two. I don’t expect anyone to understand it and I don’t even care.  Hell, I don’t know much about anything but I know Louie will find a way to let me know when he’s had enough. I know it like I know my own heart.
Here's to the fight, and to Louie.  

Shot with my iPhone 3G, minimal editing in Photoshop.

Monday, January 18, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 18

Taken: January 18, 2010
Location: Healdsburg, CA

Taken: January 18, 2010, approx. 5:15 p.m.
Location: Russian River, Healdsburg, CA

Today was about rain. And wind. And thunder and lightning too. We woke up to a grey-white sky, the entire bedroom dulled by the darkness of the morning. The kind of weather that’s made for the snooze button. The rain came in drips and drops around midday but then just before three, the skies opened up and it started to rain horizontal. It slammed against the windows, brought down branches from the blue oaks in the back, so many that I had to move my car.
Within an hour, water was streaming off the roof in big ropes, splashing off the porch railing in thunks, like baseballs off wooden bats.
And then just like that, it was over. The sun didn’t quite make it to the show but there was a gorgeous shimmering light that could be seen through the clouds, oddly splitting the horizon; to the south the sky was bright. But to the north, it was dark with ominous clouds as far as you could see.
The two images today represent the yin and yang of the day.
The first shot was taken in my backyard in the bright of the after-rain, the moment where you instinctively scan the horizon for a rainbow. I was standing on the small back porch off of the guest room, which looks east toward a stream that is gorging itself on the recent rains. I’m told these trees are rare blue oaks and when it really pours, the lichen on their barks shimmers like green glitter. I almost didn’t post this today because it’s so close in style and tone to yesterday’s shot. But when I looked over today’s stash of pictures, it stood out. So, here it be.

The second was a shot I got when I drove into my office in the late afternoon – toward the threatening clouds. I crossed the Russian River and couldn’t believe how much the weekend rains had changed it. It was moving fast, dyed brown from loose mud and debris. Near the dam, it was rolling like serious rapids. I tried to capture the moment but I was racing against the light and losing. The shots I did end up liking were almost an afterthought. A few final snaps of the shutter before getting back in my car. They were of the bridge itself, taken in the very last moments of the day, big fat raindrops falling on my head like a leaky faucet.
We’re do for another several days of this weather and the locals tell me it will make the river even more dramatic. Since I pass it nearly every day, I’ll be paying close attention. Maybe I’ll get a shot worth sharing.
Both of these were shot with my K100D. Edited in Photoshop.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 17

Taken: January 17, 2010, approx. 3:20  p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, CA

It's raining today. Just like yesterday and according to the weather report, it's gonna be raining for days. I like shooting in the rain. I like the way water reflects off the trees and the pavement and I love the way the light works with the water.  Days like today are ideal because there were breaks in the downpour (like in this shot) and everything clears up just enough to give you great detail if you can catch it.

Unfortunately, today required a trip to the mall and to Costco, both for specific reasons. The mall was no fun (I'm going to beat you AT&T!) and Costco was, well, it was Costco. Normally I have a pretty good plan of attack and I'm in and out in no time but it's been awhile since I've been at this Costco and they moved everything. It was a treasure hunt except all that was waiting at the other end was a 24-roll pack of toilet paper.

Today's shot was taken at the foot of my driveway using my K100D and the 18-55mm lens. I'm having a little trouble with my camera -- only, I'm ashamed to say, because I lug it everywhere and I'm not careful about it --  and the focus isn't working great. It's forcing me to make adjustments manually which means I'm getting a lot of junk pictures. I didn't even like this at first but it grew on me. I added a little more contrast in Photoshop (thanks to my friend Glenn for making one tiny adjustment that really makes the photo pop).

What I do like about this shot is the way it suggests the lonely solitude of the place where we live, a feeling heightened on a rainy day like today.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 16

Taken: January 16, 2010, approx. 3:40 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, CA

This wasn't a tough one today. I left my house late in the day after spending most of the morning and early afternoon hanging out with the pugs. Louie's not feeling great lately and he's been staying close. And let's face it, he's a dog. He loves the car. LOVES it. So anyway,  I got this look from Louie as I was leaving. And he didn't take his eyes off me as I turned my car around in the driveway. I actually took this shot through my front windshield. You wanna tell me that look doesn't say it all? I shot it with the K100D and the 50-200mm lens. Edited very lightly in Photoshop.

Friday, January 15, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 15

Taken: January 15, 2010, Approx 7:30 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, CA

I’m not obsessive about stuff. Not usually anyway. But I am into my shoes -- or precisely, I’m into my Converse All-Stars. And anybody who knows me knows this. Any look into my life wouldn’t be complete without at least one photo of my kicks. And I’m not saying how many I have but my favorites are a silver pair of John Varvatos slip-ons I got at the Converse Outlet Store for $100 off retail.  I'm always looking for new and different styles so that's probably me searching around Zappos for a new pair.

Taken with my Pentax K100D and edited in Photoshop.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 14

Taken: January 14, 2010, approx. 11:30 a.m.
Location: Healdsburg, CA

You have to trust me when I tell you I never thought I’d be one of those people who showed pictures of her dogs to strangers.  I wasn't. Not really. I am now.

This is the face that did it. A half-blind, almost deaf pug that my husband and I got from a Los Angeles-based pug rescue in 2005. Little did we know how much it would cost to keep him healthy (we’re talking five figures no lie) but more than that, how easily he was able to thread his way into our hearts. I mean there's my life pre-Louie and now and I never want to go back.

Maybe it’s because we’re childless (by choice) or maybe because when he came into our lives we were going through a particularly difficult time in our lives and our relationship. Whatever it was, it’s almost like there is no “us” without Louie the Pug, our Louie, King of All Pugs.

He’s not the world’s sweetest dog by any means. He keeps to himself mostly and he doesn’t like to be cuddled and he sleeps half the day away. Like most pugs, he’s stubborn as hell and there’s his medical bills, which have been enormous. And yet ... he is such a big part of my heart, I can't imagine not having him around me.

I just can’t describe the lightness and joy he gives me, especially at the moment (nearly every day) when he “loses” me in the house and searches in every room until he finds me. And when he does, it’s with tail wagging and I swear to God, a twinkle in his one good eye. 

He’s one tough guy, a dog that clearly loves his life and wants to stick around as long as he can function. And he does function -- even half blind and now completely deaf. He was on the streets for several years before he got rescued and since we've had him, he's gone through a number of surgeries – all attempts to rid him of a nasty bone infection in his inner ear. The most recent operation left him with a chronic gagging cough that won’t go away. We’re scheduled to go back to UC Davis VMTH for the sixth time in 10 weeks to have yet another procedure to see what’s causing his latest ailment. This one will require anesthesia, which is always scary with flat-faced dogs but we've got no choice.  He's up half the night coughing -- I swear it's like living with a newborn.

I have faith in Louie and I know for certain he'll let me know when he's had enough. For now, we're doing the best we can, both of us.

In honor of my pal, my buddy, my pug Louie, he's my subject for today’s photo. Taken with my K100D in the great morning light of a brilliant sunny day (the calm before the storm that we hear is coming next week). Edited in Photoshop where turned it to black and white.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 13

Taken: January 13, 2010, approx. 2:30 p.m.
Location: Sonoma Coast near Jenner

First sunny day in at least a week and my husband insisted we take a drive out to the Sonoma Coast, which we did – pugs and all. A beautiful day to play hooky. It’s roughly about a 30-minute drive from Healdsburg to the coast, another 10 minutes or so to Bodega Bay, one of my favorite spots on the coast.

We stopped near Jenner at this overlook where far below sea lions and gulls were competing for a spot on a warm sand bank. A friend says the photo reminds him of Planet Earth. I agree though I reserve the right to revisit this shot with Photoshop. Something about it I love and something about it I don’t. When I figure it out, I might even tell y’all what it is.

Shot with my Pentax K100D, the 50-200mm lens and edited gently in Photoshop.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 12

Taken: January 12, 2010, approx 2:30 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, CA

I took a walk today.

Sometimes, I forget I live in paradise. Don’t get me wrong; every day I drive around my little town I see something new and wondrous, mostly as designed by Mother Nature. Bashing L.A., where I lived the 15 years prior to moving here, isn’t the point. The City of Angels has its own story to tell, it’s own kind of beauty and I don’t knock it. A person could easily get used to sunny and 70 degrees or as a friend used to say a total lack of weather.

But L.A. changes at the rate a super tanker turns, which is not very fast and the differences are almost indecipherable, especially if you're part of the scene. That’s how you end up waking up one day and realizing half your life is gone and you have no idea what you did with it. The price of chasing your dream in a city of dream chasers, I supposed. I’m not knocking it. Really, it works for some folks and I honestly thought it was working for me. Until I left, that is.

Life and by life I mean the natural life, changes here daily, even minute-to-minute. A heavy winter rainstorm supplanted by a partly sunny day, you know the kind where the sun’s rays poke out through half-dark clouds, reflecting off the pavement like the way they illustrate God in the movies? It’s important to pay attention around here and it’s also educational too. The turn in the seasons is hard evidence that you’re changing with it. It’s not just about getting old although that’s a large part of it. It’s a reminder that everything has it’s moment, that life itself has cycles and you’re part of the whole lot of it, as important as the smallest molecule, and as insignificant too.

I know that sounds depressing but there's other ways to read it. Maybe it's a reminder that you need to get busy doing, living, breathing, exploring .... doing your thing, no matter what it is. Find your passion, follow your bliss, get on your road and walk it, sail your boat or as the ad says 'just do it."  The problem with pursing your dream is sometimes the end becomes the means and you forget about the value of the journey itself. You forget the love. I find sometimes just taking a walk around here is all I need to remind me that passion is true and the pursuit is fully part of that.

Pretty heavy for a rainy Tuesday afternoon but like I said, taking a walk around here ain't like taking a walk down Wilshire. We rent a little house at the end of a road that’s surrounded by cattle pasture, bordered in the back by a small stream. My husband is always on me to take a walk up the hill in the back, a path that ends on a ridge that overlooks the valley below. There’s two large redwoods up there locals call Adam and Eve. I haven’t seen it in person yet but today I took the first few steps on the way. It was pouring rain and riding my bike was out so I decided to grab my camera and take a walk.

This shot was taken with my Pentax K100D with the 50-200mm lens. Edited minimally in Photoshop.

365 Photo Project - Day 11

Taken: January 11, 2010, approx 11:30 p.m.
Location: My kitchen.

Okay, this photo-a-day thing is getting hard. Especially when the days are so damned short and I get up so damned late. Less than an hour to go and the only idea I had was 'food'. Why food? 'Cause up here in wine country, food is a serious business. As serious as anything really. All that stuff you hear about on the news these days, the eating healthy, the eating local ... thank places like Sonoma where loving and using the land has been in vogue since well before the first vineyards were planted. Everything is local and fresh and believe me, there's nothing better.

My husband is a real-deal cook -- not the kind that went to Le Cordon Beu mind you, but a mostly self-taught chef who studies food and cooking like he runs a five-star restaurant. He has many fans up here, including local chefs and winemakers. I admit I take him for granted, alas. But that's for a different discussion.

Over the next few months, I'm sure to include pictures of the food he prepares. I tried to do that today but let me tell you: there's an art to taking photos of food and S.O.L. has yet to grasp it. I will try again. In the meantime, gaze into my fridge. As way of a roadmap, most of the leftovers are up there on the top shelf (left) next to the dog food which tells you where the dogs rank in this house not our leftovers. (And child please, the dogs do not eat people food.)

The brown paper bag is full of fresh local mushrooms and the white bowl on the middle shelf, that was tonight's dinner: my husband's awesomely creamy black beans, a nod to his Cuban heritage. There's Armandino's cured meats in the drawer to the left and in the darkness on the bottom shelf, some cans of Guinness and a fat bottle of local bubbly, you know for when my ship comes in again. Oh, and the plastic bag on the second shelf is fresh herbs -- my husband keeps them in a glass of water and covered by the plastic to help them last longer. He's got all kinds of tricks like that.

Taken with my Pentax K100D in ridiculously low light. Edited in Photoshop to make it remotely presentable. I did my best. Ack, tomorrow's a new day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

We interrupt this blog to bring you ....

.... the one TV show I've been waiting for since they cancelled "The Wire." (hat tip to Undercover Black Man, one of the shows writer/producers). Ladies and gents, get your groove on for "Treme". This is gonna be good. It debuts this April....on HBO.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 10

Taken: January 10, 2010, approx. 2:10 p.m.
Location; Healdsburg, CA

Couple of new things today. First, I'm not spelling out the days anymore -- which means I'm in double figures. Which means I guess I'm truly committed now. Second, I'm putting up my first self-portrait. I'm probably like a lot of people in that I don't like photos of myself.  However, I think it's important as part of this process of documenting my life to document actual me along the way. So consider this the first of many self-portraits.

I've banished myself to my office today to write so that's where this was taken -- I hardly ever use the fluorescent lights in here, just a desk lamp and that's all the light I used for this photo.

This was my favorite of about 30 shots I took -- not ironically it shows less of me than any of them. (Make with that what you will -- you're probably right whatever you're thinking.) The shades were an add-on at the end partly because I haven't been sleeping well (last night I got four hours total) and my eyes look like they belong in the supermarket checkout line (will that be paper or plastic?). But also because I wear sunglasses all the time and think of them as part of my whole style, whatever that is. So they're practical and functional here. As you can see, I easily amuse myself.

Taken with my Pentax K100D using the built-in self-timer. I removed the color and did very minimal editing in Photoshop.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day Nine

Taken: January 9, 2010
Location: Healdsburg, CA (Dry Creek Road), appox.  12:45 p.m.

It's a gloomy day in wine country. I had to run an errand to see a winemaker friend of mine which meant driving past my favorite oak tree in town. I've taken at least 100 pictures of this old guy. I just love the way its branches form a canopy over that little house by the side of the road. Sort of captures the whole spirit of this place.

I'm sure this won't be the last time I use this guy during the next year -- part of the fun has been watching it evolve through the seasons. This photo was taken with  my K100D and edited in Photoshop. I'm playing around with all those dials on my camera (file under: a little knowledge is a dangerous thing) and as you can see way underexposed this shot. To bring it out a little bit, I added a blue photo filter in PS.

Friday, January 8, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day Eight

Taken: January 8, 2010, approx 12:20 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, CA

Props for today's photo to my husband who found this beauty growing in our backyard.  He also looked it up in his wild mushroom book by David Arora and we're pretty sure it's a Fly Amanita (Amanita muscaria). It is unfortunately not edible not that anybody here is lining up to try it.  Arora says he doesn't recommend eating it: "Although it's intoxicating properties have been known for centuries, it has other potentially dangerous and unpredictable toxic effect."

It's also quite vibrant and this one was almost eight inches in diameter. Cool. Mushroom foraging is a big deal up in these parts but you really have to know yourself -- picking the wrong mushroom could kill you. This photo was taken with my K100D with the 18-55 lens and manual aperture and exposure.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day Seven

Taken: January 7, 2010, approx. 6:15 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, CA

Not much that moved me today. I took this shot on my way home tonight at the 150-year-old Healdsburg, Ca downtown plaza. I'm still learning how to take shots at night -- as you can see from these two shots.

Both taken with my Pentax K100D and the trusty 18-55m lens - I should have used a tripod but didn't have it with me. Doh.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day Six

Taken: January 6, 2010, approx. 4:20 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, CA

This is where the magic happens, folks.

It's my (very) messy office in Healdsburg. When I rented it six months ago, I took over from a private investigator which seemed apropos for a writer of detective novels. His company name was still up so I did a little editing. Zen Moses, for those who don't know, is the name of my detective novel character.

I took a bunch of photos today but just about hated every one of them. It wasn't until I settled in to write today that I realized there was no way I could get back out before dark. So, I looked around for something to photograph. Voila. The front door. It's actually a revealing shot in part because it shows my ridiculously messy workspace. The strange part is I really hate messy workspaces. Talk about your conundrums. I suppose I need another New Year's resolution.

Used the Pentax again, 18-55 lens. I'm going to have to change up one of these days. If only life didn't constantly intrude.  Edited with Photoshop where I turned it to black and white. Just looked more detective like.

More about me

I'm featured today and for the next week or so on No Meaner Place, a blog that highlights scripts that are sold but not produced. There's a summary of the 2005-06 TV pilot Chapel Hill that I wrote for Paramount/CBS and a (really) long interview with me. Probably more than most of you can stand.

I look forward to hearing your responses here and there. Thanks to my friend Neely Swanson for believing in my script. While we've been friends for years, she's one of the toughest critics I know in Hollywood so when I sent her my script, it was with a good deal of nervousness. Glad she liked it.

And I love the idea of No Meaner Place. Every writer I know has a great script that hasn't seen the light of day producing-wise. It's a great idea to put them out there in the Hollywood void and see what comes of the conversation. It wouldn't be the first time a project got resurrected after being declared dead. Like that little show HBO decided to take a chance on. You know, like the one about the mobster and his family.

Be back in a big with today's photo of the day, as yet untaken. Gulp.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day Five

Taken: January 5, 2010, 4:35 p.m.
Location: Davis, Ca

My first trip out of town for the New Year.  Had to take my pug Louie to UC Davis Vet Hospital for another trip to see why he's still coughing almost a month after his most recent surgery. We're still working it out, but I drove back home hopeful we've finally got this thing under control.

I got this shot at UC Davis -- believe it or not through my sunroof. The campus has a lot of open space and some great vistas but I was fighting the weather, which was gloomy -- and the sun, which was fading.  I've always loved the way bare, skinny branches look against a late-afternoon winter sky. And all those years living in L.A. can make a person forget there's really four seasons, not two. These felt like an old classic poem and I liked the way the last shades of blue sky shine through them. Shot this one with the trusty K100, 18-55 lens). Minimal editing using Aperture 2, which I'm taking for a test drive.

Monday, January 4, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day Four

Taken: January 4, 2010, approx. 4:20 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, Ca
I have made a rare New Year's Resolution. Oh sure I make one every year but they're usually nebulously philosophical. Like, "this year I'm going to be a better person." Funny, how that one almost never works. Ah, but this year, I decided to make a real resolution: it's time to improve my general health and wellness. I'm a few pounds too heavy, a few years older and nothing quite works the way it used to. And anyway, I really want to go back to Mets Fantasy Camp  on my next important yet not-to-be-named birthday. I have a few years to get myself back into shape so what the hell - I'm diving right in.

My diet is slowly  being overhauled and I'll talk somewhat about that in the coming weeks. But getting in shape means getting back out on the work-out circuit. Since I live in such a beautiful place, I decided to get out on my bike and ride around a few days a week. See if it changes my perspective -- both internally and externally.

I realize too that it's an excellent way to view the world around me -- what could be better in a year when I'm taking a photo a day? So with "my maps and my faith in the distance," I got out on the road today -- a 40-minute circuit around town -- nothing too heavy -- stopping twice (air in my tire) and to catch up with my friend, Dawnelise, who was working on her garden, this being our first really nice day in weeks. Well she ended up as my victim for today's photo. Dawnelise is one of two dear friends having babies this year -- and I'm really looking forward to living the whole thing vicariously through them.

This was taken with my trusty Pentax D100 on a bright sunny day. I had only one chance to get this shot as my batteries were running dead (ugh) and so I set it on auto. There was great light all day today -- maybe a little harsh and I played with this a bit in Photoshop. I even tried a photo filter but in the end, I'm going with the original -- I like the spur-of-the-moment quality of it. One cool note: Dawnelise is wearing the overalls her mother wore when she was pregnant with her.  How cool is that?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day Three

Taken: January 3, 2010, approx 3:00 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, CA

This good-looking fellow is one of my two pug dogs. If you've followed me in the past, you know about Louie and his trials (described in part here) which we're still battling, unfortunately. This guy's name is Chamuco, which in Mexico is a slang for "Little Devil." He has earned his monicker for sure, but he's also a very sweet dog who loves people. He came to us by chance and through the good graces of a wonderful pug rescue in Sacramento called Pug Savers. Chamuco was 14 months old and even had his papers -- he's from a wonderful, highly respected pug breeder in Canada. Every day we wonder how any person could have given away such a handsome and loving pet. Our luck I guess.

As for this image, I've been home all day and I put off taking any photos in part because nothing seemed photo-worthy.  I saw Chamuco hanging out on the deck getting some sun. I was trying to get him to look at the camera and he did. But this was the best shot.

I take a lot of photos of my dogs but I'll try not to burden you with too many of them here (I have a usual outlet for that :-D ). They are a large part of my life so there's no doubt they'll get their mugs into more than one shot over the next, what is it?, 362 days though. I used my Pentax K100D again, minimal editing using iPhoto.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day Two

Date taken; January 2, 2010, 1:46 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, CA

On my way to my office every day, I drive across a simple, elegant old bridge that spans the Russian River. This is the railroad bridge that runs along side it. I stopped near this spot to take a photo of the other bridge when I saw this view. The man int he picture stopped just after I did and walked into my frame. Nice of him. Took this with my Pentax K100D with an 18-55m lens and edited in photoshop).

365 Photo Project - Day One

Date taken; January 1, 2010, approx. 12:30 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, CA

This is the view off the front porch of the house I rent in Healdsburg, CA. I slept in on New Year's Day and this is the first thing I saw when I got up and stepped outside. It was taken with my iPhone 3G.

I'm ba-ack

Happy New Year to anyone who is still out there reading this thing. I've been to all sorts of places figuratively, literally and literature-atly since the last time I posted here. I can't say I'm any more focused then I was during this blog's previous incarnation but alas, I guess I'm just one of those people who is hard to pin down.

I’m not exactly sure how the next few weeks and hopefully months will look like here at S.O.L. but for starters, I'm launching something I've always wanted to do, which is a 365 Project. In this case, I'll be posting a photo a day for the entire year. My rules are simple: I have to take at least one new photo a day and it has to be something along the daily route of my life, wherever that takes me -- that is, nothing I have to go out of my way to capture. I don’t have a title yet, but I hope somewhere along the road one will come to me. Suggestions welcome.

I'm a professional writer, not a photographer and my equipment is what it is. So these photos will be mostly about documenting a year of my life and hopefully learning a little about photography along the way and well, maybe something about myself too. Said equipment at the moment: a beat-up Pentax K100D DSL, a Minolta DSL circa 2004 film camera and my iPhone 3G (soon to be 3GS). I’ve also got a box of old cameras in my storage locker and I hope to dig into them and see what I can create with them.

Some caveats: While I’ve promised myself that I’ll take one photo a day, I know I won't be able to post here every day. I promise to get the photos up as close as possible to the date taken. For anyone who cares, all the photos will be up on my page where you can check the date and other information (see links to the right). I’m also not going to limit myself to just one photo a day – as some days may call for an extra or two.

The photos, of course, will be edited. My program of choice is Photoshop and what I know about it couldn’t fill a shot glass. Part of this process is to learn more about how to use digital editing programs. The results will be, I hope, interesting at least.

I will try to talk a little bit about each photo, my hope is it will reveal something about the way I see the world now, not only through the lens of my camera but also as a writer. I don’t know how much time I’ll have to blog about other things – this is my way to keep this blog alive and not take too much time away from my other writing – but I’ll try to talk about things that interest, fascinate and disgust me, make me laugh or sing or cry or piss me off. And, I’m sure I’ll have something to say about my sports obsessions from time to time. If you're really bored and can't stand not knowing what I'm thinking about the Mets or watching on the TV or listening to on my iPod, feel free to follow me on twitter (again links at right).

The first two days of photos will follow this post. Please comment if you like – I love to hear from you. But, my peeps, while critiques – positive and negative – are not only welcomed but encouraged, I can assure you that being nice about it is the best way to be heard here.

Here’s to a great 2010. As always, thank you for stopping by.