Saturday, February 28, 2009

Funny Day

It's been a strange day today. It started last night when we were ready to go to bed and both automatically thought "time to take the dog for a walk". This morning we both had more time than we always have before going to the gym- because we did not take Pepper for a walk. I keep looking for her. No wagging tail thumping the floor when we come in. I'm sure we'll get used it it, but right now it is hard.

So tonight I realized I had not taken any photos today, so I bribed Dick (with chocolate truffles) to let me take a photo of him and I. Believe me, taking photos of me is bad enough, but he hates the camera more than I do, so this was a real coup. However the best part was not the photo itself but the fact it made us both laugh.... we needed it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Downtown San Jose (2) Urban disguise

Yesterday I went for another walk downtown, and found this very clever way of hiding an empty lot. .. I even snuck around the back to see how they had done it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

RIP Pepper 1994-2009 (approx)

Today we lost our sweet Pepper girl. It is a very sad day.

We adopted her back in 1999- one of two. Pepper was approximately 6 years old and Petey was approximately 3 years old when they found us. We had been talking to a neighbor about adopting a dog and she asked whether we'd take two. We had a half acre and plenty of room, so we went to pick them up. Petey was barking and Pepper was overwhelmed and cowering in amongst all the other dogs. Several hundred dollars later we took them home. Petey promptly cocked his leg on our brand new leather sofa, marking his new home- he was here to stay.

Pepper was always the quiet one, but she was also our guard dog. She loved to watch the passersby from the windows, and bark at them when they dared to come near. She was the dominant one and loved always to be in front when we walked her, and boy did we walk miles together. Every day. Both of them also loved the long hikes we took them on- we walked so far, they slept the whole way home. We lived around a lake in Georgia and there was a 10 acre piece of Greenspace- they loved to run through it and once they got the idea in their head there was no stopping them. Twice they escaped from their back yard- once we found them in the greenspace, once coming back from the lake. Both times they were on their way home when I found them- huge smiles on their faces. We played hours and hours of ball with them, they chased more squirrels than we could count and Pepper even caught one once- and did not know what to do with it when she did!

Petey was a hound-huskey mix and we loved him dearly too. He died of cancer in January 2007, just before we moved to California. I drove Pepper across the states the following month- 2580 miles because I did not want to put her on a plane. The two of them were holy terrors together- but once Pepper was on her own, she enjoyed being the only dog. We spoiled her rotten and joked that our home here in California was her retirement home. She loved the climate here and spent hours in the garden- we had to force her to come in at night. She had slowed down a lot recently, and as an old dog she was going blind, and deaf and had arthritis, but as the vet said 'everyone gets old'. She still plodded on. Today it was just too much.

It's weird how the universe throws these things at us. I only blogged about her on Sunday, as I had just found pictures of when we first adopted her- maybe I was meant to find them then.

We have some great memories of our Pepper girl. But, I am going to miss her so much.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Downtown San Jose

Today I went for a walk at lunchtime to buy my VTA bus pass, and a sympathy card for the family of my Great Aunt Nora who passed away quietly last weekend. She was a lovely lady, and will be missed.

While I was walking I came across this wonderful door. It is the door of an urban home complex called The Globe. It looks like recycled plastic pieces set in glass. I tried to find out more about it but the sales office had moved.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pancake Day

Even though I live in the States, today is not Mardi Gras to me, but Shrove Tuesday or even better "Pancake Day". It is also jokingly called "Jif Lemon day"- thanks to a very clever advertising campaign by the Jif company who make the lemon juice that comes in a yellow plastic container shaped like a lemon found in the UK. Traditionally we put lemon juice and sugar on our pancakes, so if you don't have fresh lemons, you can use a Jif lemon.

Pancakes were cooked on Shrove Tuesday to use up the fat and eggs that were restricted during Lent, but it has become an English favorite tradition.

Therefore today I made pancakes- French style or crepes- very thin and as large as the pan they are cooked in. Not like American pancakes- saucer sized thick pancakes. I have lots of good memories of making pancakes at home with my dad- he can still toss a pancake in the pan better than anyone I know.

I stuffed the first pancakes with a bacon, onion, red pepper, tomato and courgette (zucchini) mix and then covered them with cheese sauce. Very nice. To follow we just had to have a pancake with sugar and lemon.

As part of my 'photo-a-day' project I decided to photograph the cooking pancakes and gained a new respect for still life cookery photography....

Monday, February 23, 2009

Split personality

"I have a split personality. One side loves red wine and the other side loves white wine. Somehow I get by though".

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Reorganizing years of digital photos

Today was one of those wet days when you stay in and do chores or something you've been meaning to do for ages. My photos have been on my mind a lot recently, and today we tackled older digital photos that we have burned to CD's over the years. I dug them all out and Dick put them onto one computer and we organized them as best we could. We have spent the rest of the day rediscovering lots of wonderful memories: old friends and neighbors, long forgotten parties and vacations. I am so glad we have them all in one place. One of the biggest surprises was the photos of Pepper. We've had her 10 years in September and she was about 6 when we adopted her. We found photos of the first week she came to us and we barely recognized her. Here is her "then and now photos". She almost looks like a different dog...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Shark's Game

Today we were lucky enough to have club seat tickets for the San Jose Sharks home game against the Atlanta Thrashers. It was a full house so there was plenty of atmosphere. However the first two periods were not very exciting- neither team seemed to be really trying and the Sharks should have been beating the Thrashers if you looked at their seasons so far. Then there was a fight. Literally. The refs just watched it happen, let the players get their anger out of their systems and then threw them both in the tank! That seemed to be the catalyst they needed, and everyone got fired up and then there were four goals in the final period. The final score was 3-1 to the Sharks. I took pictures both on my little Olympus camera and my iphone. The wide angle of the iphone worked well to get the bigger picture.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Lunch with work friends

Once a month or so, I drag some of my work friends out to lunch. They come willingly, I just happen to be the one who organizes it. Today it was Mexican food. I meant to take a photo at lunch and completely forgot, so here is four out of five of us (left to right- Jackie, Sumbila, Kathy and Colleen). I made them stop in the street on the way back to the office so I could take the picture with my Iphone- this was the third attempt. I'm going to use this same picture for my 365days project.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Economic Stimulus Plan

Today I went for a lunchtime walk towards the downtown post office in San Jose which is just a few blocks from where I work. I've always admired both the inside and outside of the building and today noticed for the first time that it is part of the San Jose History walk. It turns out that the building was built in 1933 and is "a prime example of Depression-era federal construction. The terracotta work on the building's exterior is particularly fine. Although the Main Post Office has since moved, this building continues to serve as downtown's branch post office". I thought that was very appropriate considering the current news about President Obama's stimulus plan.

So far I'm really enjoying taking my photos every day, and opening my eyes to what is around me- even just in my everyday life.

On another note, I'm still taking pictures for the 365 project. It really is much harder than I thought. The rules say that you must take the photos yourself. You can use a timer on your camera, which I do have on my Canon, but I don't carry that one with me all the time. Therefore I'm using a small Olympus camera (which does have a zoom) and my iphone for most of the self portraits. Taking a picture you can't focus on is hard! It really is a random guess and you have to take lots of them to get it right- hopefully it will get easier.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Exploring my MacBook Air

A couple of days ago I discovered that the built-in camera on my laptop (which I usually just use for Skype calls) can also take photo booth type pictures. The quality is not wonderful but it has some fun effects. An example ...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Amgen Tour of California

Today, the Amgen Tour of California reached Stage 3 and raced from San Jose to Modesto. I'm lucky enough to work in a building that is often on the route of such events. Today was no exception. Despite the rain, there were many people lining the route. However I was not as organized as I should have been and managed only to take a photo of the group on their warm-up lap from the 16th floor of our building and a photo of the support cars from the street. Bad timing.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Back to work

I take an express VTA bus to work from Morgan Hill to San Jose. Generally I take an early bus in (6:15, 6:27 or 6:47 AM) and they can be pretty busy. As gas (petrol) prices rose, ridership increased significantly. It had dropped off a little as prices have fallen again, but now the economy is not so rosy, people are taken more advantage of mass transit again. Except this morning. Of course, it did not take long to remember it is President's Day today and all the schools, city, county and federal buildings are closed today. So the buses were a little quieter to say the least....

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Photo blogging

So last night I just took the bull by the horns and signed up both to the 365 project and decided to try and take a photo every day. So here goes..

It raining.. hooray! As an English girl, I don't say that very often, but we live in California and it only rains in the winter here. Literally. And it has not rained enough since October. So after a couple of days of 'on and off' rain, it finally did it. It rained all day- a long constant steady rain. My rain gauge shows almost an inch just today, and it was quite pleasant. My bird bath is overflowing..

Saturday, February 14, 2009

PTO and Photo Blog

An update on me. Yes, I have a full blown cough, cold, infected sinuses and infected eardrum- the works. Three days off work- bang goes my carefully saved days off. Let me explain. This year our parent company decided that we should have a Paid Time Off system. Basically we get allocated a certain number of hours every pay schedule to use as we please; vacation, appointments, volunteering and of course sick time. I had carefully worked out how I could use my anticipated time off this year and it looked good. Not so good now..

On a better note, one of the ladies I know from Photography Club ( told us at our last meeting that she had started a photo blog. Basically she has challenged herself to take a photo a day. You can see her inspiration at - her photo blog is I am still thinking about doing this but I am also intrigued by the idea of the 365 day project which involves a self portrait every day. I am the first to hide from a camera so this would be a challenge in many ways. I really don't like to see pictures of myself largely because I am heavier these days than I'd like to admit and photos have any unnerving way of telling the truth. However there is also the part of me that would make me really look at myself. I'd love to do both but that is a big commitment. We'll see.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Aching and not feeling good

So I have spent the best part of last year extremely healthy- not even a cold in sight. Now I have to eat my words. Yesterday I was aching and today I hoped it was down to a good workout at my Pilates class, but I fear not. I have been fighting something off all day. Hot and cold. Sore throat. Not fun.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Photo Scanning

I'm in a conundrum. I have hundreds (maybe thousands) of old photos that I just don't look at any more as much as I'd like to. They are mainly of my travels and so I'd like to share them too. I can't decide whether to send them out to an online scanning service or scan them myself. Probably cheaper to do it the latter way but much more time consuming to do them myself. However many of them actually are in small albums so they'd all need to be removed either way. Dick is suggesting that I see if I can borrow a scanner to try it out for myself first. Maybe I'll do that.


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