Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween to us from Joanna

I just opened this Halloween card from Joanna.

Dancing with the Stars

I can't believe it!!! I was so mad last night when Sabrina was voted off Dancing with the Stars. Ray was furious too. The show ended at 10pm and at 10:02 my phone rang. I answered it, "I can't believe what just happened!" I knew the person calling was a friend who had also watched the show. All my friends know not to call on Monday or Tuesday nights when Dancing with the Stars is on. It was Cindy calling. She and Michael were in disbelief as well.

This morning Ray commented here that he was so very disappointed with the whole show. He went on to criticize and blame the producers and judges for ruining the show because they don't help the audience understand the importance of voting for the best dancer, not the most well known star.

Having watched the judges give feedback week after week, it's clear the 3 judges have a problem (fear of) being honest with the BIG stars, the older folk, about how poor their performances are. The judges pussy foot around with their people pleasing comments like star struck teenagers, or better yet, fearful the stars won't like them or won't do for them at some later date if they hurt their feelings. Why don't they tell it like it are too old and not good enough to still be in this contest.

Damn, this pisses me off "they" (the produces/judges and anyone else involved with the show) should not put personalities before principles and not compromise the integrity of the contest.

This photo of a friend's Xmas decorations has nothing to do with this post other than to
alter my attitude:)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Photos of living room for a magazine.

Yesterday Roberta, the woman who designed and decorated our home, came by with her adorable assistant, Robin, to meet the photographers who did a shoot of the living room and master bedroom for a magazine. While the photographers were setting up all their expensive and extensive photo equipment and lighting, I snapped off this photo of our living room. I asked the professional if he would send me a finished .jpg which I'll later post. I was very interested in watching how much time and energy they spent positioning and repositioning all the lighting equipment.

My shot was taken on the heels of their lights having gone off for one of their shots. Taylor took time to explain how he added lighting to shadowed areas and blocked light flare. I have such a hunger to learn. I initially was dreading people coming into our home. But I ended up having a good time watching and experiencing their techniques.

Oh, the table and lamp on the right of photo were brought to stage the scene as I still haven't filled that space yet with the right table and lamp.

Pictured left to right is Robin, Roberta, and the photographers, Kyle and Taylor, studying one of a few test Poloroid photos Taylor takes to make sure the lighting, room staging and composition are right before taking the picture with the large format film camera.

Walking to the gym this morning, I had to stop and take this photo. I couldn't believe this person parked on, and unconsciously damaged, the grass to save HIS car from getting scratched by the car to his left. Selfish self-centeredness… "That, we think, IS the root of our trouble!"

Ray just read my blog and said, "Maybe the guy who parked on the grass had to park where he did because a previously parked car to the left might have been parked over his right line leaving little room for the guy on the grass to park." Personally, I doubt that scenario. But I felt guilty enough,I blurred out his license plate number!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Faces of Mt. San Jacinto

We look out at the San Jacinto Mountains from almost every room in our condo. Mt San Jacinto looks different every day, every minute of the day. I am always running out to take pictures of the light on the peak, the clouds above it, snow on it, cloud formations above it and of course sunsets and sunrises. Somehow the photos I take fall short of what I see without the camera.

Lately I leave my camera set up on the tripod just inside the door from the patio where I always take photos. Timing is everything with light. Good light lasts less than 5 minutes. So, this morning I was happy to capture some special light on Mt. San Jacinto.
The first photo was taken as I arrived at Sandi’s to drop her off after our 5am hike. I took the photo near her driveway around 7am.
The second photo was taken a half and hour later. I came into the house, told Ray I was going to take a shower but ended up seated at the computer when I noticed a change of lighting on the mountain.

Of course, I wish both photos were better. But I'll show them anyway. Down the road when I have learned more about photography you and I will have some before and after photos as proof of my learning (hopefully).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Afternoon hiking shots

I've been glued to the computer, mostly planning my hike in spring. I read 2007 hiker updated posts on CDT trail conditions on the CDT L online digest. I go to old posts and sort by subject. Right now I'm reading all about water availability in New Mexico.

I'm not sure heading out to hike New Mexico is such a good idea. Seems it is the season for high winds. Yuck. I'm undecided now what to do. To be determined.

Nevertheless, having this goal to backpack next season helps keep me honest with exercising daily...well most days. At 2:15pm today, I was about to talk myself out of going out to exercise until I remembered that I'd posted my exercise spreadsheet on my blog. Not that anyone probably ever reads it but JUST IN CASE I didn't want to look bad! So I went in to the TV room, where Ray resides for as much of the day as I do on the seated at my computer, and said, "Let's go exercise." I got the look, you know, the one that says, "You've got to be kidding. If we were going to exercise, why didn't we do it earlier. I'm all settled in."

He said, "Ok, but first let me go hit some balls and putt a bit." (I noticed the 1000th new putter, with the Roger Dunn price tag still on it, resting against the couch, where Ray had been practicing his putting on the carpet.) I agreed. We left the house around 2:45pm headed for our local Bump & Grind hill. Elevation is about 1000 feet up. We turn around and hike back down the same way. It's mostly a cardio workout because it's not that long...maybe a little over a mile up. It took me 37 minutes with a light backpack to reach the top (I'm not fast).

On the way down I played with my camera. The light was pretty. My shadow was sooooo long.

Here are some shots from our dayhike.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A laugh for today.

This is funny: Click here.

Granny hits a Mercedes with her handbag and triggers the Airbag.

Fire smoke fills the Coachella Valley

Ray and I walked over to the club to workout yesterday afternoon. Ugh. My chest felt heavy. The smoke from all the fires has filled our area as the result of changed wind directions. Hiking or doing any physical exercise outside is out of the question. The news reports the smoke will clear in another day.

While walking the 15 minutes back to our condo from the gym, I took the photo above. The light from smoke was intense.

While sitting at my computer (so what's new) I got up and went outside to photograph this colorful sunset. Normally we see the San Jacinto mountains in the background. Not with all this smoke in the air. We've lost our incredible view, a view so pretty, I spend way too much time looking at the mountains during the day.

What's New:
1. Some of my friends have websites - I've posted links to them in the right hand menu.
2. When I asked Cindy what she liked about my blog she answered "reading people's comments". Cindy figured out an easier way to read all comments on one post without having to scroll down....In the Blog Archives to the right, click on a Post Title which will open. All comments for that post are listed at the end of the page.
3. I love getting comments! Feel free to post one, two or three.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Halloween GUESS WHO????

Just received an okay to post this photo.

Do you know who these wicked ladies are? They won the top prize for best costume at a Halloween party keeping with the theme of evil Disney characters. They dressed as the evil Snow White and evil Cinderella.

Feel free to respond with your guesses in the comments section below, but PLEASE, no last names, only first names!

p.s. For additional help in determining who these ladies are, click on the photo to enlarge it a bit.

Saturo's Family and Ray at Meeting

What a nice surprise to find Saturo, Kazue and their baby at the Thursday Night Meeting. Kazue and Saturo moved back to Japan a couple of years ago.

I sure miss hearing his shares. He always made me laugh.

Last night before leaving the meeting I took photos of Ray with some of his sponsees and his sponsor, Jim. Ray's 30th birthday is December 1st. For a gift, I'm trying to collect photos of the special men in Ray's life. The photos will be placed on a page as part a birthday book. The person's photo page will also contain their recorded ("neatly typed up:)") old memories, stories, etc. with/of Ray.

Hey, why I am thinking this book should only be from the special men in Ray's life? Why not from all the special people in Ray's life? Oh my, am I creating a lot of work for myself with this new thinking. Also, Alima told me the company who puts all the gathered page text and photos together limits the number of pages in the books to 50 (using both sides makes the total 100 people may be included). What if there are more than a hundred people who want to write something to Ray? I know I'm crazy believing if I asked 100 people to write something all 100 would respond. So maybe I should open this up to men and women. I think I better call Alima, the voice of reason, and run this by her. I stay stuck in inaction when I don't have clarity! Help!
Any ideas/thoughts?

Did I forget to mention how much I love the book I was given by my sponsees on my 20th birthday?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Katy's Email

I received the following email last night from my friend and transcriber Katy. I should be transcribing for her. I love the way she writes: (And...I did ask Katy if I could post this.)

Just found your blog! How wonderful to be able to keep up with you this lead such a full and interesting life.
If I had a blog it would read: woke up at 5:30 am and said a bad word to my clock radio. Finally dragged myself out of bed (still in the dark - I miss the long days of summer -sigh) at 6:15 and rushed like a crazy person getting ready to get to work on time. Forgot to comb my hair (again) so I tried to braid it while warming up the car. Drive too fast to get to work on time. Barely make it - don't know why I worry, since no one cares and I always work late anyway. Oh yeah another day at work. Blah. Stay late. Drive home. Eat. Get on-line and read my dear friend Gottago's interesting and wonderful blog. Shower. Go to bed. Repeat above all week. Weekend: sleep in! Laundry. food shop. get things ready for the next week. My life is too exciting...

Anyway Linda -
I'm really delighted to see that the CDT is happening again!!! Hooray!!! Do I get to transcribe for you?????
I had a really good hike in the Grand Canyon. I felt strong and hiked well (for me). I think it marked my return as a hiker feels good to be back.

Katy in the Grand Canyon (Katy's trail name-Goslowgofar)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

5am Bump and Grind hike

Up at 3:45am so I'd have enough time for a coffee, morning poo, shower and be on time. Raced over to pick up Sandi before realizing I'd forgotten my running shoes. On the one mile drive back home I called Katie to let her know we'd be 10 minutes late for our meeting to do the Bump 'n Grind, an hour and a half long hike.

At the pace Katie and I were hiking, it took us 46 minutes to get to the top turnaround point. Not long after we headed back down the hill, still in the dark, we met Sandi. The sun was 10 to 15 minutes away from rising over the Coachella Valley. I asked Katie and Sandi to pose for this photo. I hand held this shot at a shutter speed of 1 second. Way too long an exposure for a crisp shot, but I wanted to capture Katie's first hike up Bump and Grind.

Sandi and Katie

As much as I dislike getting up so early, hiking in the calm and beauty of a dark morning has always been very special. I hope I remember how special this morning was the next time my head tells me that I don't want to get up and go hiking so early. I am a fast forgetter. Hopefully this pictured visual image will bring back the specialness of being up and out "there" before the day really starts for most people.
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Monday, October 22, 2007

CDT (Continental Divide Trail) here I come!

I know I said, "No more long hikes." But the trail calls again.

The following email has just confirmed some plans, and dates for hiking I've been discussing with a man named TrailDad. TrailDad is the father of Brian Robinson. Brian was the first to hike all three long distance hiking trails (AT, CDT and PCT) back to back in one calendar year. Here is a link to TrailDad and Brian's website.

TrailDad, Brian and Yogi

TrailDad and I are teaming up to hike half of a long hike, half of the CDT northbound, starting at the New Mexico/Mexico border - from a border town - maybe Antelope Wells or maybe Crazy Cook Monument on the eastern border.

Here is the latest email I just received from TrailDad containing and confirming the dates I'll be hiking. I'll be away for a month then return for a month before heading back out on the trail again. (I had posed some questions in a previous email to TrailDad that he responds to in the email.)

By the way, for those of you who don't know me, my trail name is Gottago......

Hi Gottago,
I've penciled in March 21 - April 20 and May 26 - July 26 on my calendar. Let's consider those as firm dates for present planning purposes.
I have a friend in Albuquerque whom I think I can impose on if he's available. We get to Albuquerque and he could take us to the Mexican border. We do the water drops on the way and hike back as far north as we can. Brian didn't cache any water but he had to carry a lot to avoid the possibility of running out. Water caches sound like a good idea.
Getting to NM: Assuming we go into Albuquerque, this should be no problem. Fly, bus, train or drive. I wouldn't mind driving if I can leave the car in Albuquerque. I could pick you up on the way through the Palm Springs area. Driving keeps the schedule flexible. All this assumes my friend is available, of course.
Re food maildrops vs. resupply on the trail: I will get a list of Brian's mail drops, but we will be going a lot slower than he did so they may be of limited use. On the CDT, resupply can be a tough problem whether at the store or the post office. Hitchhiking can be difficult and in at least one or two states, illegal. It's a problem.
Re our starting point: Are any of the three places you mentioned near Antelope Wells?
That's where Brian ended his NM section on the Mexican border. I have no preference, really, mostly because of ignorance of the territory. Why don't you make the call on this?

Here are a couple excerpts from Brian's trail log that you might find interesting:
April 19 [2001] 8:30 PM. Highway 81, 10 miles north of the Mexican border.
For those paying close attention, no, I didn't do a 60-mile day. I did a 34 miler with a flip-flop. I've been worried about how to get back from Antelope Wells border crossing because it's such a lightly traveled road. So when I got to Hachita, where my last resupply box was waiting for me, and met Sam Hughes, a new plan formed. Sam drove me to Antelope Wells from Hachita, a distance of 45 miles. Now I'm hiking north from the border back to Hachita. No more nasty hitchhike problem! And there's just 35 more miles to town, so I'll probably get there tomorrow.
Today was another beautiful spring day in the desert. Warm and sunny in the morning, but a little cloudy in the afternoon. It's been hot enough to drink 6 liters of water today, but not too bad, really.
A 2-1/2 inch long tarantula just visited my camp spot. Really beautiful, but I hope it doesn't want to share my sleeping bag tonight! If it's as warm as last night, it won't get below about 60 degrees. That's warmer than the high temperature on all but a couple days on the AT this winter! I sure don't need all my winter gear right now!
Earlier today I saw my first rattlesnake of the year. It was sunning itself on the road as I walked by. This is real desert down here. The last couple days I've seen lots of Joshua trees, cholla cactus, prickly pear cactus and beavertail cactus. But it's definitely spring; there are lots of wildflowers in bloom, too. It's really lovely to walk in the desert at this time of year. April 20 6:00 PM. Sam Hughes' house, Hachita, NM.
Today I finished New Mexico! I hiked the remaining 35 miles back to Hachita and I'm awaiting Sam's return. I'm a little early he isn't expecting me until 6 or 7 PM. But today is very windy and that made it feel cooler, so I could hike faster. Since I was going north today, the wind was at my back for a change. That was a pleasant turn. It's blowing up a lot of dust, though.
On the side of the road today, I saw the body of a dead eagle. I stopped to admire the once great bird, when I noticed a tuft of three feathers at my feet. The three eagle feathers immediately made me think of the three great trails I'm hiking. It seemed to me that the feathers were a gift to me, and a symbol of my hike. I'd like to carry them with me for the rest of my hike, but I'm afraid they're too fragile for that. But since I'm heading home tomorrow for a brief rest before beginning the PCT, I'll leave them there. They are very special to me.

Fellow Hikers: It sounds like you're gathering an interesting group. I don't think I've met either LaZorra or Alice Tulloch. Hiking with No Way Ray's wife would be a privilege. I haven't heard back yet from Mark, my friend's friend who lives in Seattle. We'll see about that.

I'm back.....So my training begins. I mentioned this hike to LaZorra and Alice (my PCT hiking partner aka StoneDancer) asking if they would like to join us for all or part of our hike. I'm waiting to hear from them.


An off day.

I'm having an off day.

It's 3:59 pm and I'm still in my pjs. I started and stopped about 10 different tasks. I couldn't find any energy. I did what I always do when I can't seem to get started......I sat at my computer all morning. Playing.

Around 1pm Ray finished golf, came home and turned on the TV. I found it difficult to not join him in watching all the horrible news of the many southern CA fires.

Last night I'd called my brother Don to find out if the Malibu fires were close to him. He said the fires were 6 miles away, thank goodness. Today, I called Taye and Angela. They both live near two other fires in the San Fernando Valley. Then Donna and Jeff Saufley had someone post on the PCT L online digest that they were safe. We hikers were worried about them. Donna and Jeff are well known, much loved, PCT trail angels whose home and yard is open to all hikers when they pass through Aqua Dulce along the PCT.

I went out to try a photo lesson that had been suggested I try to determine why I'm not having great results with my macro lens. After uploading the new test photos I was again disappointed. I didn't have any better luck than I'd had the day before photographing the bougainvillea. I'd set the aperture for aperture priority and took 10 or more photos of the same flower, in the same position, at different f-stops. I couldn't tell much difference between the change in f-stops. My back is stressed from the hour of holding the camera yesterday, so I stopped feeling I'd wasted time. But at least I did what I said I was going to do.

I received a phone call from Sherali asking me to pick her up before our meeting tonight so I better go get out of the pjs, shower and get to first pick up Sandi and then Sherali. I am the Grapevine representative at the Monday night meeting. I give a report each week so I better look through the magazine so I'll have something interesting to share during my report.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Troubled photo practice

I spent an hour or more outside this afternoon photographing bougainvilleas with a Canon Macro Lens EF 100mm 1:2.8 on my Canon EOS Rebel XTi. I didn't like one of the 100 photos I took. This is the best of the lot but I can't seem to get a crisp focus.
There seems to be so little distance range for clear focus.

In trying to become more familiar with the macro lens I shot this staged shot.

I'd found these letter-like stones years ago, during a walk on a beach north of Santa Barbara. Ray and I used to camp in our RV at El Capitan
State Park a couple times a year. Every day we'd take a stroll on the beach. One day I found the stone that looked like an L. Then I came across an "o". When I found a "v" I searched frantically for any stone that looked like an "e".

These rock letters usually reside in a special place with all the other rocks I have collected. Every rock I've collected represents a trip - a hike or a backpack. I always bring home one special rock. People have often selected a rock for me. During my 2002 PCT hike I was given a beautiful river rock I carried in my backpack even though I was very weight conscious.

Rocks have always fascinated me. Looking for rocks is fun. Looking for rocks makes me feel good. I find it interesting that I found rocks that spell out the word love.

Love: strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.

p.s. Just found this article.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Great Day. Great Company. Great Hike.

Hannah, Sandi, Linda and Katie do a self portrait before the start of Hannah's, Sandi's and Katie's first-ever hike on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

We drove up Hwy 74 from Hwy 111 in Palm Desert. 25 minutes later we arrived at the PCT Trailhead and hiked north for a couple of miles. I figure we hiked about 4 miles. Everyone enjoyed their hike. Sandi surprised me. She had no trouble keeping up with our pace. Hannah and Katie loved being out in the mountains.

Hannah and Katie definitely are up for an overnight backpack trip. We noticed a trail mileage marker stating it was 28 miles to Saddle Junction from Hwy 74 where we parked our car. It is another 2.5 miles to hike down into the town of Idyllwild. A discussed plan for the future is to do a car shuttle backpack leaving one car at the Hwy 74 (Palms to Pine trailhead) and another car in Idyllwild.

Katie would like to train for this backpack.
Hannah would like to go next weekend.
Sandi has offered to be our support!

I had a blast being "out there" with people who were so interested and excited.

p.s. Cindy and Tina, you better dust off your gear.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Mom and Dad

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What I learned....

What I learned over the last few days:

  • Never mess with upgrading anything on your computer the night before you are headed out of town.
  • That spending the night at friends’ houses is really fun.
  • Treating myself and Ray to a nice hotel room makes me feel good.
  • Getting dressed and going out at night is much more fun than what my head says earlier in the day.
  • Taking good photos doesn’t happen unless I take my time and pay attention.
  • Taking good photos won’t happen unless I learn more about the works of a camera.
  • Keeping a blog is fun.
  • I won’t be able to backpack unless I start training my body soon.
  • Hanging at borders, on my computer, free to play, explore, induldge in whatever I want, is heaven.
  • I was right to be excited about being with all the people I got to spend time with on this 4 day trip into LA.
  • Life is realllllly good!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Alexandra performing at LaVeLee

Great job Alexandra!

Alexandra performed tonight in North Hollywood at a restaurant filled with many close friends. Repeated energized applause reflected everyone's interest and enjoyment. Alexandra looked beautiful, sang from her heart and looked quite comfortable even though she later confided her nervousness.

Ray and I had a great evening listening to Alexandra and the incredible band. I found myself smiling and very moved.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My brother Don

Look at this photo I just received from Don. Don is the true adventurer in our family.
Here is the email Don sent:
"Flew down to Puerto Vallarta with two guys for four days of fishing on a boat of one of them - way offshore in deep water.
I caught this 345 pound yellow fin tuna (world record is 389lbs).
Fought him standing up for 55 minutes in 93 degree humid weather.
I also free dove without tanks to 85 feet where I swam right next to a school of a hundred or more of 100 to 250 pounders for 30 seconds."

Damn. Look at how fit my brother is!

Quincy's Family of Ladies

I had a wonderful time at Quincy's meeting tonight. Great sharing and a neat group of ladies. Three other ladies had prior commitments and where unable to attend.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Away for a few days.

I'll be away until late Thursday night.
Milly and me.

Tomorrow morning I drive to the San Fernando Valley, pick up Milly, speak at a meeting, have lunch with great friends, drive to my friend Natalie's in Hollywood, spend the night with her hopefully get to watch Dancing with the Stars.

Natalie and my hubby, Ray.

Then I wake up and meet with Alima in Burbank. I've never been to her house and am looking forward to our visit. Fun!

At 1pm I meet up with Quincy for some more fun and maybe hike up killer hill in the Santa Monica mountains were I hiked regularly before moving from Tarzana a year and a half ago. At 7pm I attend a meeting at Quincy's home. I'll spend the night in her daughter Sienna's room.

Tom, Nicholas, Quincy, and Sienna.

(Here are some of the women who will be at the meeting)

A morning hike will be in order as Quincy lives 2 minutes from great hiking in the Santa Monica mountains. Then I check in to the Marriott Hotel. Milly and I have plans to see a movie before Ray arrives to join me at our hotel.

Later, Ray and I have plans for dinner with Tom and Quincy at La Va Lei before the evening entertainment. Quincy's friend Alexandra is performing at the restaurant around 8:30!

Thursday Ray and I will enjoy sleeping in. At 1pm I have a dentist appointment. Possibly we'll see a movie before I meet with the women and Ray meets with the men for dinner before the evening meeting.

At 9:30pm Ray and I drive the two hours back to our home in Rancho Mirage.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

3 Generations

L - R: Debbie - my sponsor, Milly - Debbie's sponsor and me.

If there is anything you like about me, I got it from one or the other of these beautiful ladies.

Phone Manners (In a letter from a very special lady)

Oct 07

Telephone Manners: How are yours? I made my living answering telephones, so I’m very aware of my phone manners as well as others. I’m not saying mine are perfect, but here’s some tips that I have found helpful for me to do as the receiver and caller.

1) I don’t start talking before I have the phone piece to my mouth. Wondering what someone just said is awkward when you go thru this ‘hello’ ‘hello?’ period.

2) After 20+ years, I always identify myself to my sponsor (Hi Milly, this is Debbie), and also with everyone I call. There are few things more annoying than a person asking me a bunch of questions and I don’t know who I’m talking to.

3) In phone sales they always said ‘have a mirror in front you and smile while on the phone - it’ll come through the line’ … and it really does. I’m not suggesting that you plaster a smile on your face like a bad face lift, but a pleasant tone when answering the phone is great.

4) When leaving messages, speak clearly. Don’t rattle off your name and phone number where it sounds on the other end like a blurrrrrrrr. If I want them to call me back, I ask them to - and then leave my information clearly. It really helps.

5) One thing I find annoying - not that any of you do it - but often times when I make birthday calls I get the call-screening-grilling. I’ll say “is so & so there?”, coldly ‘who’s calling’ “Debbie Davis” ‘what’s it about’ “umm, I’d like to wish them a happy birthday today” ‘oh, yeah, it’s me’. Well - I’m glad it is. I know that some people get a lot of nuisance calls, and so do I at times, but that doesn’t mean anything more than politely saying “no thank you, please remove me from your call list, and I’m hanging up now.”

6) One last thought - now & then, call yourself, and see how your voice mail/answering message sounds. Would you like to talk to you? If you cannot understand your message, how will someone else? On my cell phone I know I have the music “please enjoy the music while you’re party is being reached …” and then launches into the theme from Gone With The Wind. To me it sounds pleasing and people have commented on how they enjoy it. But there are some people I call and the music on the other end is so irritating and I can’t understand it anyway, that I just want to hang up.

So - some thoughts to think about … or not.