On a Lighter Note...

After the last bummer of an entry, I'm moving to something lighter. With 4+ years of blogging under my belt, I'm always disappointed to discover my writing skills haven't improved! Granted, blogging for me was never an exercise in writing so much as self-discovery to help me through my midlife crisis, which, oddly enough, is still going strong. But since these sites allow picture uploads, I can make up for my lack of writing skill with bad photography! And so, I've decided to make this entry a pictorial dedication to a few fellow bloggers I've connected with here...

I admit it, a giant photo of her Stuart Weitzman pumps first attracted me to Middle Aged Woman Blogging. [EDIT: I also like her Kickin' Ass and Taking Names... tagline!] Although our lives have been nothing alike, I feel as though we share some of those growing pains brought on by midlife. In honor of MAWB, not the highest or most expensive pair of heels I own, but the red patent...
Red pumps, 2008 (please excuse my worn out floor)

I found Wander to the Wayside while searching gardening enthusiasts... and discovered a person of substance. If you read nothing else on her blog, check out the series she wrote about discovering her biological mother through the records from the orphanage where she lived several months as an infant. In honor of Linda, I snapped this courgette blossom from my garden. The seedling appeared in my compost one day, and is from a light green zucchini I bought at the farmer's market. Funny, I usually cook zucchini seeds and all...
Squash blossom, July 2010

Confession: Elizabeth is a friend of one of my exes, so I didn't meet her through blogging. But she is a talented designer and free spirit, who has been known to drop everything, move to a new place AND not just survive, but thrive. I always enjoy her photos of her travels, even the ones of familiar sites, because she always has an interesting perspective. My regret with this photo is that it isn't very creative. On the few occasions I leave my house to have a drink, I go to the Uptown. It's low-key and I like the details in the bar, the egg(?) strip along the top, the Corinthian columns, the pipe cleaner men lined up along the top and the old-time pharmacy drawer pulls.
The Uptown, June 2009

An Englishman in Southern Germany will always hold a special place in my heart. When I wanted to "see" what life is like where he lives, he introduced me to photoblogs and Phonecam 365, the photoblog of an Englishman in Saarland, and the first blog I "followed" on Blogger. AB likes rusty metal and shows the mundane in unique perspectives. My housemate welded together this now rusty stove from scrap metal while he lived in a shipping container in a welding yard. It was his lifeline in the winter, and now it enjoys its retirement as conversation piece and occasional s'mores heater. I dedicate this photo to both AB and my Lobo, wherever he is now.
Woodstove pieced together from scrap metal, July 2010
(yes, my house really is THAT yellow)

Blackandwhiteandcolours is another photo blog from Southern Germany, with a twist. Martina combines her photos, usually black and white, although she throws in a colour shot here and there, with a quote from a book or story she is currently reading. I've seen snails in a few of her photos, these two (and the bug with them) are from my garden. Alas, I don't have a matching quote, so I'll pick something from my current read...  "Merriweather was the King of the Game, the Liar's Poker champion of the Salomon Brothers trading floor." Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis.
Garden snails, July 2010

Tim visited my blog first, so I visited his blog, Catnip, an amalgam of fiction, poetry and commentary, quid pro quo. He's a Renaissance man and hard to define in one photo, but he recently posted photos of his cats and dog. I thought about posting yet another Piglet photo, but instead, I'm going to toot my own horn and post stellar sea lions recently used on the Schmapp tourism guide (one of hundreds, uncompensated, so not much of an honor). It should be the first photo to appear in the upper right box and if you click on the photo, it takes you to my Flickr account, where they found the photo.
 Stellar Sea Lions, Pier 39 San Francisco, August 2009

 This post is not exhaustive of my reading list, and I had more blogs in mind, but the length of this post is becoming a bit unwieldy, I'm running out of photos, it's 1:30 at night, AND I have to remember to visit everyone I mentioned to let them know I have something for them. Perhaps I'll find the energy to continue on another post...

[EDIT: another confession... I've been trending toward crazy lately with wild mood swings, and in the process, even though I've been trying to keep away from everyone, have managed to alienate a few people who are dear to me. If any of those people happen by this blog, I'm sorry. Life in general is so uncertain right now. Not an excuse, but an attempt at an explanation.]


Vicious Cycle

Warning: this blog topic is heavy! If you want to avoid that, here is the latest on the garden -- I put a planting strip between the brick seating area and fence and threw in some Great Northern beans to grow something there until I have more permanent plants. Plus once the beans are done I can turn them into the soil for fertilizer!

For the permanent plantings, I took cuttings of Salvia elegans (nice in salads if you can get over the fuzziness, good flash fried, not so great dried), Salvia officinalis, Lavandula dentata (currently dying), Melissa officinalis (dead as a doornail, probably good, since it can be invasive) and Rosmarinus officinalis (still green but not rooting, I think I need a greener cut).
 Things in containers keep the dog from digging...
Quercus agrifolia bark, Laurus nobilis, Mentha piperita and bbq tools!
 - end of garden talk, heavy stuff starts below -

I read a blog yesterday that showed a video of a Black Panther (edit: New Black Panther Party head Samir Shabazz) promoting violence against white people. For the most part, the comments about the video were a combination of knee-jerk defensive reaction and "hate in any form is wrong" response. One person gave the "what would happen if a white man were promoting violence against African Americans" line, which I have to say grates on my nerves.

To me, those who ask that question are on par with those who are openly hateful. From my perspective, that question was originally coined in order to incite strong emotions and perpetuate the cycle of ignorance and hate. It's insidious, asked as though it were an innocent enough query, when it will most likely elicit a strong emotional response. So the one who perpetuates it either intends to foster ill feelings or did not take the time to take a breath and think about what the question really asks.

If we take a step back and think objectively about the question, we would see that people  generally act consistently with their beliefs. Those who are sympathetic or are maneuvered into sympathy by a charismatic speaker will agree. Those who disagree will either take a stand or walk (or run, depending on the situation) away. Unless he were particularly captivating, the white man would have the same fate as that Black Panther: his rant might be passed around the internet for awhile to stimulate gut reactions one way or another and then he'd fade into obscurity when the next loudmouth appeared.

By the way, I have to point out that people generally promote their views in locations where they are most likely to have a sympathetic audience. I seriously doubt I will ever see a Klansman spouting his spin in Watts, or a Black Panther pontificating his position in Westwood.

So where do you weigh in on my interpretation? Do you think I'm off base or missing some sort of critical information? Is there some reason to my view, or...?

* * * * *
Edit: I have mentioned this elsewhere, and on thinking about it, I think it's relevant to this entry.

I have been in a situation, as mentioned by the commenter, where the tables were turned, when my date (who was white) and I were singled out by skinheads. The responses of passersby were exactly the same as those in the video I saw. While some people looked at us sympathetically (and yes, some looked at us with derision, emboldened by the power granted by the skinheads), everyone rushed by as quickly as possible. NO ONE took the initiative to voice a dissenting opinion. Nor would I expect them to do so: face-to-face, people in the process of spewing venom are frightening.

Now that I think about it, I've also been shoved in a bar from behind by an angry drunk man (who was later outside the bar beating his girlfriend who told me to mind my own business when I asked if she needed help) and punched from behind by another angry man on speed. No one helped me in those cases, either, so maybe it's just me! On the bright side, I have learned pretty handily to be my own knight in shining armour since I can be reasonably sure that chivalry has gone the way of the dodo.


Random Ramblings

Welcome to the rat, er, pig race!
San Mateo County Fair, June 2010
My thoughts meander lately. Like so many others, I find myself contemplating the BP oil spill,  and how far-reaching its effects will be. As the oil and the chemicals that have been dumped into the Gulf to try and contain the oil dissipate into parts unknown, we can't even guess what will happen because nothing to this scale has ever happened before.

I ponder how our legislators continue to pass bills that, little by little, revoke the freedom that this country was founded on and impose more of the obligations on us that were the basis of revolt against King George in establishing such freedom. And how the administrative branch, little by little, exerts more and more of its executive power over us. And how our judiciary supports these actions. And I worry about the future of my nieces and nephews.

I have also been thinking about sport. I was surprised when French striker Nicolas Anelka was publicly vilified for profane team room talk. The French Football Federation not only demanded a public apology for what should have been a private issue, they barely batted an eye at the fact that someone sneaked a microphone into their meeting. In my books, this situation is tantamount to someone breaching a confidentiality agreement. While the public berated Anelka for being a bad role model to their children, they were essentially implying to their children that while it isn't okay to cuss, it is okay to spy on private communications.

 Cliff House from the street
San Francisco, July 2010
And I have been thinking about the Cliff House, one of the best places to watch the sun set in San Francisco. After taking a friend for drinks there last November, I promised not to go back until I returned with him. I only go to the Cliff House once every few years, so the promise wasn't all that farfetched considering my friend lives in France and his financial situation is about as good as mine. But with the pledge pronounced, I think of it much more than I normally would. And so as I drove home from visiting friends one night, I passed by and took a quick photo. This is not its best side. As its name suggests, the Cliff House sits quite dramatically atop the cliffs over Ocean Beach. But it was dark and cold, and I didn't have a jacket, so I stole a quick snap of the entrance from my car on the street.

pain au chocolat de Crêpe et Brioche, lavande de mon jardin
June 2010
Most of all, I have been thinking about pastry. A farmer's market started in downtown San Mateo this spring. It's walking distance from the house, so I can walk Piglet and buy produce in one trip. The first week, I noticed the stand from Crêpe and Brioche Bakery, and was excited, because I like their pain au chocolat. The second week, he sold out before I arrived. I pouted. The third week, I was there 15 minutes before opening and grumpy, but I got my pastry. The next week, I woke up late! I tumbled out of bed and ran as fast as I could, Piglet pulling me along, ecstatic at being able to jog. I arrived, sweating, and dry heaving. He saw me and picked up a bag he had set aside for me. He is my new best friend, and I don't even know his name.

 Piglet plays in the water, Aug 2009
Just so you know that my Piglet is a dog!