Wednesday, June 30, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 181

Taken: June 30, 2010, approx. 7 p.m.
Location: Los Angeles, Ca.

I have a friend in LA who isn't from here but has embraced it as few others have.  Her love of LA is contagious and true and in stark contrast to many of my LA friends who seemed to adopt the condescending view of "I live here but I don't love it here." I admit to not always understanding LA and to disliking some of its more obvious qualities, but I have always adored the city, discovering early on that I related to its rhythms, felt at home in its particular embrace. I will always love LA in all its good, bad and ugly. It will always be a big part of the home I keep in my heart.

My friend and her husband take advantage of everything LA has to offer and I love this about them. They live in an almost forgotten jewel in the middle of the city called Village Green, which is a beautiful green park-like post-war community that is an oasis in the middle of Baldwin Hills -- a place I find few people I know have heard about, even confirmed Los Angelenos. Nearby the city just finished a remarkable little park called the Baldwin Hills Overlook which is a hiking trail that goes straight up to a view that overlooks the entire LA basin, in every direction including downtown on clear days, west to the Pacific Ocean.

We went up that trail today and though we had far from a clear day -- the last of June gloom was holding the city in its bright white vice grip -- it was a spectacular view. I lugged my camera up just so I could capture it. This is a view of the LA skyline through that misty shroud of gloomy overcast skies. I love how the buildings disappear into the heavens like ghosts.

I thank my friend for turning me on to places like these. Makes me love LA even more.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 180

Taken: June 29, 2010
Location: Burbank, Ca.

Another iPhone 4 shot. I had a rough day in Hollywood today, another recent reminder how demoralizing this town can be, especially in an environment where there are a helluva lot more writers than jobs.

But as it happens more often than not in my life, my day was rescued by friends. In this case, it was a regular L.A. poker game that I sit in whenever I'm in town and they're in need of an extra player. I've never won the game but I did come in second last time I played. It was me against nine guys. I had a really good run of cards early and built a big chip lead, then almost lost everything before finding myself in the final two. It was late, later than the game usually goes apparently, and everybody who was left wanted to go home but we played it out and wouldn't you know it, I won.

A rewarding end to a crappy day. This is a shot of my big stack of chips, when it was big (and early) before I nearly gave it all back. For once, though, the luck was with me. Hoping it's a sign of things to come though I'm not ready to bet on it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 179

Taken: June 28, 2010, 11 p.m.
Location: Los Angeles, Ca.

This was taken with my new iPhone 4. You probably get that I'm a big gadget geek by now but I've never been that person that upgrades on The First Day. I was under another carrier's cell phone contract when the first iPhone came out (and I wasn't about to pay $400 for it anyway) so I had to wait for the second gen to come out before I got mine. I've only upgraded once since and when I heard about the possibility that the iPhone 4 would be out this summer, I put off another upgrade. When it did come out, I was eligible for it and got the lowest price (with a new two-year contract with AT&T, the world's worst cell phone carrier). I reserved my phone online, waltzed into the Apple Store at 2 p.m. and picked up my new iPhone.

The reported problems aside, I'm happy with all the new things this phone can do, especially the multi-tasking whose time had come two iPhones ago. I'm hoping Apple does the right thing and addresses the other problems (like the weird antenna reception thing) but won't hold my breath.

As for the camera, I'm impressed. Not as I said yesterday that it would ever replace my DSLR. I decided to try it out for a couple of days and see what I came up with. This is a shot I took using the built-in LCD flash, a very cool and welcomed add-on. I did some editing in Photoshop and the fact that I could create something half-decent is a tribute to how good these phone-cameras are getting. A ways to go for sure, but cool nonetheless.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 178

Taken: June 27, 2010, 8 pm
Location: Los Angeles, Ca.

I shot this tonight with my iPhone 4. It has a much better camera than the old iPhone though it's obviously not as good as my Pentax DSLR. This is Wilshire Blvd, not far from the L.A. County Museum of Art. I was walking back to my friend's house this evening when several fire trucks rushed by. I tried to catch one and this is the best shot I got.

I have to make this quick -- my internet access is spotty. I should be able to post daily beginning tomorrow night.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 177

Taken: June 26, 2010, approx. 7 p.m.
Location: Los Angeles, Ca.

One advantage to living in LA is that stuff grows there. Desert aside, a lot of my friends have maintained gardens for years and they grow all sorts of edibles. You'd be surprised. My friend Susie is like most people who find tiny slices of earth to grow a whole array of vegetables, even tomatoes and, as this image shows, artichokes. It's crazy to walk between apartment buildings in the middle of the city, by brown grass lawns and acres of hot pavement and see lovely green growing things. The city's little hidden Edens.

There's something life affirming about growing stuff on patches of dirt that are no larger than a bathtub in a traffic-dominated urban environment. There's something LA about it too.

Friday, June 25, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 176

Taken: June 25, 2010, sunset
Location: I-5 South approx. 200 miles North of LA

As I drove down to LA tonight, the moon appeared even before the sun had set and it hung there in the sky, looming large over the straight-as-hell I-5 freeway, a beacon beckoning me home. I stopped about 200 miles north of Los Angeles to capture it over a massive, dust-filled field that stretched out across the horizon like the surface of the moon itself.

I got some nice shots of the moon itself, but it was this image that moved me the most. I love how lonely and vast it seems. I wish the moon in the shot wasn't so over exposed but as usual I'm going with composition over technique. Maybe one day I'll get them both right.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 175

Taken: June 24, 2010, approx. 2 p.m.
Location: Santa Rosa, Ca.

This is what most photographers would call a mistake. I was sitting at my car at a stop light and thought this would make a great image. Only the red light was about to turn green, there was a car behind me and I had my camera set for the previous night when I was trying to capture a sunset shot. So this was one shot and out. I suppose I could have went around the block again and tried a second time but wouldn't you know it, I was heading for the Apple store to pick up my new iPhone 4, having dutifully reserved it in the middle of the night last week.

A friend pointed out to me that a vintage shot overexposed is kind of serendipitous and you know, I think I will have to agree. I'm traveling South as I write this and won't likely post this until I'm down in LA over the weekend. Further, I'll have limited access to the Internet for the first few days in the City of Angels so bear with me. I'll be shooting for sure. I hope the images will be worth the wait. I should get the weekend's shots up by the end of the day on Sunday.

I did get my that iPhone 4 and it's very wonderfully cool, let me tell you. Warms that old gadget heart of mine for sure.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 174

Taken: June 23, 2010, sunset
Location: Healdsburg, Ca.

Another sunset shot. Forgive me for the sameness. I'll be heading to Los Angeles for a week and I'll have time to sit and write something interesting. I hope.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 173

Taken: June 22, 2010, approx. 6:30 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, Ca.

This is my favorite oak around here. I used to drive past it on my way to and from town but now I have to go out of my way to see it. I'm sorry I'm not posting much these days -- life is just kicking my ass but good. I'd rather get these images up then wait another day. I'll write more soon.

Monday, June 21, 2010

365 photo Project - Day 172

Taken: June 21, 2010, approx. 2 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, Ca. 

Another shot of one of the oaks in the backyard. And another quickie too. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 171

Taken: June 20, 2010, sunset
Location: Healdsburg, Ca.

We're having a series of lovely, lovely sunsets. I might have more in the next few days. Sorry for the upload and run but like I said yesterday, I'm trying to get caught up.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 170

Taken: June 19, 2010, 1 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, Ca.

Catch up time again. This is an iPhone shot and I wish I'd gotten the cake's centered but c'est la vie, no?I know the woman who owns the local bakery -- we used to be neighbors up here -- and it's one of my favorite places to visit -- not just for the yummies. I love going in the back and watching my friends bake break and cakes, cookies and stuff. Today when I walked in, my friend Maya -- who is also the daughter of the owner -- was putting a wedding cake together. It's quite a process. I would have stayed to watch if I had the time. Poor Maya was doing it mostly by herself and she seemed stressed with making the deadline. From what I saw later, she made it with bells on.

Friday, June 18, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 169

Taken: June 18, 2010, 11:18 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, Ca.

Today is a momentous day for me. Last night, I worked late writing and I had a breakthrough that was small but exciting, a tough writing problem that had taken me weeks to solve. It was one of those things that got my heart racing and when I drove home I felt good. Really good. And then I thought to myself that I wished I could workout.

This thought is one I used to have a lot but not lately. I love to workout. Love the sweating, the energy it gives me, the way it helps me sleep, the smile it puts on my face -- I even love the way my body aches a little afterward. But I haven't been working out for a long time. I stopped more than a year ago and I haven't started up again. I mean I've been trying -- I walk, I cycle but nothing consistent.

A few years ago, I discovered the Precor Elliptical machine and fell in love. Sounds silly but when I workout on the elliptical, I feel like I'm flying. I'm Snoopy doing his Snoopy dance to Vince Guaraldi's piano music, his nose straight in the air, his feet bouncing (Snoopy not Vince). That's how it feels to me.  When we moved up to Healdsburg and lived at the end of that long dirt road, I bought myself a used Precor for my birthday. For awhile it was the best money I ever spent.. At first, I used it almost every day. But I stopped for some reason and I never got started up again. My husband hated it and tried to talk me out of the purchase but when it's a 40 minute drive to the nearest gym, you adapt. Once he tried it, he was hooked.

Then when we moved here, my husband who has taken to using it every day now, put the Precor on our covered porch.  I never liked having it out there. But now I think I was just using that as an excuse not to workout.

Last night, though, the only thought in my head as I drove up our road was "I need to workout."  And even though it was after ten when I got home, I knew nothing was going to stop me. So I uncovered the Precor and hooked up my iPod and off I went. It was magical. Mag-i-cal. Halfway through, I felt the stress of the last few weeks melt off of me, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, a smile broke out over my face. Not just any smile. A big, gulp-inducing, center of your chest, happy, slobbery grin. A smile that starts on the inside and works its way out.

It was so great I couldn't wait to get on the machine again tonight. And I did. I admit it was hard and my body was stiff and it took me 10 minutes just to get warmed up, but I got to that smile-inducing place again eventually. I get this way sometimes. I'm a creature of habit who needs routine to be disciplined. I'm a daydreamer and while that works well for my writing, it can play havoc with my life. But I know myself well enough to know when my mind turns at the same time as my body and I'm there. Now I just have to ride the wave.

Which means tomorrow is another day to be like Snoopy and dance.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 168

Taken: June 17, 2010, 1 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, Ca.

Had my annual mammogram today. It wasn't much fun but they have a new digital imaging machine at the local hospital (donated by a fabulous group called Girlfriends for the Cure) and it's a lot less painful than the ones that squeeze your breasts like a orange juicer. This is an iPhone shot of the new machine. If you live in my town and you don't have health insurance, by the way, the Girlfriends for the Cure have funded a free day every month so you can get a mammogram.

Every time I go through this, I think of my Mom who at 76 is a two-time breast cancer survivor. She battled breast cancer when almost all the doctors were male and where things like reconstructive surgery were considered extras and even when they were done, weren't done with the patient in mind. My mom had two mastectomies and they tore her up pretty much. Hell, she's alive and we are thankful for that, but the advancement in medicine and in empathy and understanding of the breast cancer patient is light years better than it used to be.

Of course, the most important thing is catching it early. So do your self-examination and get that annual checkup. If you're at an age or in a group that needs to be screened, please take the time for a yearly  mammogram. You can see the guidelines and information here. Breast cancer sucks but dying of breast cancer sucks more. I know you women out there hear this a lot, but it's important. You can't afford to be complacent when it comes to shit like this. Do it. I did and  I was in and out in 15 minutes. It really was no big deal.

That's my public service announcement for the day. Be healthy y'all.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 167

Taken: June 16, 2010
Location: Healdsburg, Ca.

My bridge again. It's actually the railroad bridge that runs parallel to the Healdsburg Memorial Bridge.  It's been awhile since I've gone down to shoot it. It's an easy target for me because I see it almost every day but that's why I've been avoiding it lately. Wanted to stretch out some, find other things to shoot. But its call is strong and when I crossed the bridge tonight just around sunset, I had to stop and see what I could get in the fading light.

Today, the bridge was also a little symbolic for me.

Last week, I started a class at the local junior college. It's a beginners' course in photo editing in preparation for my planned immersion into photo and film editing. I've been meaning to to this for a few years now and I'm really glad I finally got started. The whole going back to college thing is more than a little bit strange but it's also kind of good, too. I mean who doesn't like to try something you did once but with all the wisdom and maturity you didn't have the first time around?

I'm embarking on a series of classes that will lead me toward learning how to shoot and edit digital film, which like still photography, I have just enough knowledge about to be dangerous. But I want to be lethal.

I want to direct my own scripts. I want to shoot small films about big ideas, the fire, hope, dread, love, death, craziness that rages inside all of us and how we deal with it and with each other. I realize that covers a lot of ground but these stories have been in my head forever.  A lot of it goes into the pages of my novels but my sense is the other stuff needs a different medium. I've always been in love with film, especially the films that tell intimate tales about the line people step across, that changes them from who they are to who they will be, the choices they make, the things they justify, the revelations they have, the loves, the loss, the tragedies, the journey. You know, the bridges they cross.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 166

Taken: June 15, 2010, 7 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, Ca

The cows are back. As many of you know, I live in a small rental surrounded by cattle pasture and on a schedule unknown to me, the cows come to graze in one of the pastures around our house.  This is the first time since I've been living here that I've been able to get this close to one of them. Man, they are huge. And see that barbed wire fence? That's all that stood between me and this guy, who by the way didn't seem to like me standing so close to him. I'm pretty sure he's giving me the evil eye here.

Maybe he knows what I'm thinking and that it involves a grill and a nice chianti.

Monday, June 14, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 165

Taken: June 15, 2010, approx. 9:30 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, Ca.

This is the view from our deck this night. Spring might have taken a pass on us this year, but summer seems primed and ready. Though we still haven't experienced two really hot days in a row (for which I'm grateful) the weather has been heating up, the grass in the pasture drying to a light brown.  Tonight, the moon came out in a silver sliver, the sun having disappeared leaving a multi-colored hue to the sky. You can't see it in this shot, but there was a bright light up and to the right of the moon too -- Venus maybe?

You don't really appreciate the night sky until you live in a place where you can see the night sky -- free of the lights of cities, big and small. We had a wonderful view at our old place, which was way down on the end of a long dirt road, about as far away from man-made lights as you can get around here. Up there, the sky was blacker than black, the stars shone jewel-like and you could practically count them all they were so vivid.

Here, it's more of a panoramic kind of view. Not that I'm complaining. It's pretty nonetheless. And the dark darkness was  no fun on those nights you came home late and forgot to turn the outside lights on. You could barely see your feet as you carefully stepped through the darkness. I like a little illumination in my nights. I like to see where I'm going. There's nothing like a brightly-lit moon to find your way.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 164

Taken: June 13, 2010, approx. 6:30 p.m.
Location: St. Helena, Ca.

This is one of my most favorite people in the whole world. His name is Kana and he's a good friend's son. I've talked about him before here, about his love for baseball about his generous spirit and his excellent advice on dealing with the blahs (think about kittens).

I talk on the phone regularly with maybe four or five people, my parents among them. Kana is on that very short list. He calls me once a week or so and while I can't always answer, I love hearing from him. He updates me on his new baseball cards and we talk about the latest sports stuff, trades, teams -- his Yankees, my Mets, the haps at school, dumb stuff. He makes me laugh. I used to have a really good friend who lived here in Healdsburg who I could talk about sports with but he moved back East and now Kana is the one person who will listen to me blabber on about the Mets starting pitching. He has no idea the gift this is to me.

He's a very good kid and as you can see his rooting interests don't just reside in New York (he's had that jersey since before the Celtics won in 2004). He has a winning smile and a good and wonderful heart. Of course 99.9 percent of the credit goes to his very cool (and at the moment very pregnant) Mom. Those good looks too.  I'm just happy she shares that point one percent with me. One thing I know: everybody could use a little Kana in their life.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 163

Taken: June 12, 2010, 11 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, Ca

Remember how I kept complaining about the cooler than normal temperatures? Well, summer came with a vengeance today bringing with it a long hot sweltering day. The weather folks on TV say it's going to stay for awhile but I don't believe them. We haven't even had a real spring yet.

When it gets this hot, I never wonder what to do to get comfortable. I just pay attention to my dogs. If they could talk, they would no doubt give me the following advice: stay low to the ground, stick to hardwood and tile, move slow, drink plenty of water and sleep as much as possible. That's what we call Pug Wisdom people. I should put it on a T-shirt.

Friday, June 11, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 162

Taken: June 11, 2010, 8:30 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, Ca

It's been so lovely the past few days, I've been taking some time to sit outside late into the evening. It's a luxury this time of year when daylight holds on almost to 9 p.m. and I don't want to miss.

This is a shot of our backyard. There's cattle pasture beyond the fence and out and up that hill, you can hike to a spot where I'm told you can see the whole of Healdsburg at least. I'm gonna get my ass up that hill one day soon. Don't worry, I'll lug my camera up there with me.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 161

Taken: June 10, 2010, 6:30 pm.
Location: Healdsburg, Ca

I'm slapping up a few photos. Sorry for the short posts, people. I have a lot to talk about but I'm writing so much that by the end of the day, I can't get my thoughts together.

Healdsburg has a Peace Project and they usually come out to stand at the plaza Thursday nights. Its numbers vary greatly. As you can imagine, they got a huge crowd during the build-up of the Iraq War and of course after the U.S. invaded.  Lately though, the group has been smaller. But they're always there and whenever I drive by, I honk my horn to show support.

My folks were already almost middle age by the 60s but they were always taking a stand against injustices. My Mom stopped buying grapes to support the California migrant workers and they attended anti-Vietnam War protests. We watched the Watergate hearings on television - Nixon was the bad guy. It wasn't about indoctrination either. They encouraged us to read the newspaper, to investigate stuff -- find our own answers. Have standards, a sense of honor, treat people with respect and to stand up for what you believe in.

I think about this when I drive by the Plaza on Thursday nights and it makes me proud.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 160

Taken: June 9, 2010
Location: Healdsburg, CA

I actually have a lot on my mind these days but by the time I get ready to write this, I'm all out of everything. And now I'm behind three days. I'd rather get caught up a bit than wait for time to get my thoughts organized. So, here it be. I'll have something more to say in the coming days. Promise. Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 159

Taken: June 8, 2010, sunset
Location: Healdsburg, Ca.

Two sunset photos in a row but that's what time I've had my camera out the last couple of days. This one was taken off a friend's deck up on Fitch Mountain in Healdsburg. That's the Russian River  -- travel down it around that bend to the right and you'll run into my favorite Healdsburg Memorial Bridge.

Monday, June 7, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 158

Taken: June 7, 2010, sunset
Location: Healdsburg, Ca.

I played poker last week. It's one of my many vices. I'm not much of gambler -- I've never felt lucky enough for that -- but I do love a good card game. I would say I'm just an average player, kept from getting good by a number of things not the least of which I can't seem to trust that little voice in my head when I play.

That's the same voice that guides me as a writer, the one that I count on in those moments when I'm facing a blank page on some ridiculous deadline. Let me tell you that sometimes that little voice is as amazingly prescient when it comes to poker as it is when I'm writing. Yet, I just can't seem to put any faith in it.

I suppose that might change if I played more but my jones for poker ebbs and flows a lot, mostly ebbs. I'll go months without playing before suddenly deciding it's time to head up to the local casino for an evening of hold 'em. Sometimes I'll end up going two or three times over the next week and then go back to not going for months again.

I like the people watching aspect of the game. When you're sitting around a table for a few hours, it's a great opportunity to observe people. A good player is looking for a way to read his opponent's play but I'm not very good at that. I just like to watch and listen, hear what people say and how they say it. I've played with truck drivers, prison guards, retired actors, fireman, cops, housewives, farmers, businessman, even a professional player or two. All of whom end up in my writing somewhere in the small details.

The worst part about going to my local casino is the casino part. Loud slots machines clanging under a cloud of cigarette smoke, the place filled with mostly poor people spending their last pennies trying to hit a jackpot. They bus them in from all over the Bay Area and the crowds keep on coming, even to a place where the House has all the advantages and then some. And the smoking. Ugh. The Indian Casinos don't have to adhere to federal nonsmoking laws so they get to hire dealers who must stand in the plumes of smoke for hours and hours with apparently no recourse when 0 or 30 years from now, they come down with lung cancer or emphysema or some heart problem from all that second-hand smoke. The poker rooms, ironically, are almost all nonsmoking but not the gaming areas.  There the people watching is different. Like the old guy I saw recently. He was in a wheelchair, attached to breathing apparatus and he had been wheeled up to a slot machine which he was filling with coins, no expression on his face.

I realize this makes me seem hypocritical. Believe me, I'd much rather skip the whole casino experience and play in a dedicated card room. And I know the power of wanting to believe in luck, that the next card or next coin is going to change your life. It's a lure as old as people. Hard to fight it no matter how much the odds are against you.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 157

Taken: June 6, 2010, approx. 1 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, Ca.

To know me is to know how much I love to drive. Bliss is an open road, a full iPod on loud and a 5-speed.  When I dream of going places, I dream of going there in a bad-ass set of wheels. And when I dream of roads, this is the kind that make my heart beat faster. I've always been drawn to landscapes and I'm a big sucker for the way certain kinds of two-lanes wind through certain kinds of bucolic countrysides.

I don't think I'm ever so much at peace then when I'm writing at my keyboard or sitting behind the wheel driving through some place beautiful. No place where my mind is as sharp or as clear either.

I know I'm not alone -- you could fill a thousand iPods with a small percentage of songs written for the road, not to mention all the books and films -- but every time I hit a good road and a great song is playing on my stereo, I can feel the laughter in my heart, the buzz in my gut. Just pure happiness. Wish I could bottle that feeling and take it out whenever I'm stuck inside in the slow lane.

In a particularly rough time in my life, I started to drive around in the middle of the night. Sometimes I wouldn't leave my house until midnight and I'd often drive around in circles but I would stay out almost all night. I lived in LA and the goal was to see if I could stay out until dawn which is when I'd stop just to watch the sun rise over over the Valley or the Pacific or some freeway somewhere.

There's a certain kind of power behind the wheel of a car that everyone feels -- the being wrapped in a ton of steel kind -- and while it makes some people too damned aggressive, I always reveled in it. It was my layer of steel between me and the world, my way of doing and yet observing. Those all-night drives would end with me writing pages and pages of notes, trying to capture everything I was thinking about, ideas, stories, lines, characters. Sometimes I read those notes and I laugh or cry and shudder at them, but they almost always take me back to a road somewhere in the dark with music playing and the feel of my engine rumbling beneath me. And then I go looking for my keys.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 156

Taken: June 5, 2010, 11 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, Ca.

I was feeling a little low the other day. Nothing special, just your late  day blues and blahs. And then my old man pug, Louie, came into the room and slowly got himself up on the bed and without a sound curled up next to where I was sitting. No snuggling or sniffing or face licking. Just a plop down on the bed being chill pug thing. I don't know why but it made me smile. Which is kind of funny if you think about how naturally sad a pug mug looks. Funny but sad.

I actually love that about them. They look at you with those big sorrowful-seeming pug eyes even when they're happy. It's a pretty good metaphor for something good. Like the mystery of life maybe. Who knows?  Like I said a post or two ago, pets can take over your life, good and bad, but having them around can change you in important and fine ways. We all need the lightness of heart they carry through the world. And something else, which I've mentioned on this blog before.  I believe they have the ability to sense things about us that most of us are too big-brained to understand. Which is why people think their pets understand them better than any person could.

Maybe Louie came in to the room because he wanted to or maybe he came in to keep me company, to give me some comfort on a bad day. It doesn't matter. I already know.

Friday, June 4, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 155

Taken: June 4, 2010
Location: Healdsburg, Ca

Yeah, I know. Another landscape but I like this shot because it's the view I see every day off our porch. Plus you really get a sense of how quickly the weather changes here. The bright blue in the bottom left of the image is slowly taking over the sky from the dark clouds. An hour from when this was shot, the sky was mostly sun and the clouds were relegated to the background again. It was very cool and spectacular to watch unfold.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 154

Taken: June 3, 2010, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, Ca

Some days I sit at my desk in my office and almost never get up for anything but a bathroom break. Because my office is on the second floor and has no windows, I often lose track of time. When I do finally get up to leave, the sun is gone and my picture-taking window has shrunken considerably.

That happened to me today. I realized time was running out on light and while I eventually got out to shoot some stuff in outside, it was overcast and rainy and nothing good came out of it. I was catching up on some TV shows I have to watch (being a TV writer and all) and thought I'd play around with lighting in my office. This was the result. I used a white background and my camera's internal flash and lit from overhead and behind the object with some halogen desk lamps.

Can anyone guess what this is?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 153

Taken June 2, 2010, 1 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, Ca.

Having pets I've discovered is hard work. They take over your house, your world, your life. You begin to change simple things about your every day habits because the little creatures silently (or not so silently) demand it of you. Little stuff like changing from white comfort covers to hide all the hair and dirt and whatever else they leave on your bed. And Speaking of beds, it's not your bed anymore. Not even close. Once you let a pet sleep with you, it's over. You've lost. There's no instant reply or do-overs, no let's go to the video tape. You're done.

They regulate feeding time and going-out time and they tether you to your house. And what do you get in return? You might get loyalty but you'll definitely get some laughs, most of which will be at your expense. You might also get a pair of shoes chewed up or your favorite pair of glasses crunched into a pile of plastic, at least one chair or rug you love will get pissed on and certain times of the day you will be forced to walk through your house with a set of teeth clamped onto the ankle of your pants. That, my friends, is fun to them.

Oh you'll get love and here's the rub: you, will without, fail fall in love too. Hard. Because they don't just take over your life, they infect your heart. This is their whole plan. Resistance is futile because they are smarter then us. Earning your love and affection is all part of a larger agenda. Because sooner or later, they know you'll love them so much that that nipping at your pants thing? You will enjoy it as much as they do. Fair warning people.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 152

Taken: June 1, 2010, 6:30 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, Ca

I've been thinking a lot about faith lately. I recently watched an interview that Charlie Rose did with Neil Young in which young talks about spirituality in a way that made perfect sense for me. He basically said that he has respect for every kind of faith there is but that he personally prefers not to follow any one specifically. He talked about nature as being his religion and I'm sure creativity plays a role in that too. I often think about my writing as a certain kind of channeling of forces beyond my control.

I realize that I might sound crazy to some people and full of shit to others, but believe me when you're neck-deep in filling up pages with your own words and it's going gangbusters, you might believe in things like higher powers and magic. Especially the next day when you stare at a blank page like you've never seen one before.

People tend to wait for the big happening to declare their solidarity with faith, as if only a miracle can confirm its existence. Me, I tend to think of it in smaller, every day terms. It's all around us -- we just have to look with the right eyes and, I think, we have to be open to it.

This part of my whole theory about living life as the journey as opposed to keeping score on the outcomes. How if we pay too much attention to how we want/think/hope things will turn out for us, we miss the whole trip to get there -- which taken together adds up to a lot more than all those losses and wins we're so obsessed with tallying.

I'd like to think faith is personal to everyone, which is why I get so uncomfortable when it's sold to me as The Only Way. I know belief is hard and I know once you're feeling it, there's temptation to spread the word but to me it's everything that's wrong with the world. There's just too much pressure to prove one God's way is better than another. The problem isn't necessarily the belief itself. It's that singing the praises of one religion automatically disrespects another.

I've always thought religion should be like sex. Do it anyway you like with anyone you want (within reason) but keep it to yourself and spare me the details.

If you think about it, keeping it personal makes the world a smaller place because no one way of thinking gets precedence over another. We'll never be defined by one system of belief but by all systems of belief, even no belief at all.  Which is another way of saying that we're all believers in something which means we'll never be alone.