Things I Love

The Big Island

There really are no words. Despite two days of debilitating sickness for me, it was the perfect vacation. Late March was the time to go. The weather was glorious and the sea life showed up. We took four long hikes in six days to remote and beautiful locations all over the island: Shipman Beach (15 sea turtles!), Waipio Valley (whales!), Papakolea (more whales!), and (not pictured) Kealakekua Bay, where we were treated to the best snorkeling I have ever seen and we got to swim with a pod of 30-40 spinner dolphins. Traveling with our friends and getting to share our favorite parts of the Big Island was a gift. It was the perfect combination of relaxation and adventure and I am so grateful.

October Sunset from Mount Tam

A couple of weeks ago I went for a run after work. It was a Monday. I was in Piedmont at the top of a hill, up above Oakland and I could see everything. Lake Merritt, downtown Oakland, the port, the Bay Bridge, Treasure Island, Alcatraz, Mount Tam. The fog was pooling over the Golden Gate and had already engulfed San Francisco, only the Sutro Tower was poking up and through. The sun had just dipped below the horizon and the sky was putting on a show. Florescent pink, purple and orange lit up the clouds and were reflected by the bay. The city lights were starting to twinkle, and headlights were snaking a river of light along hwy 24.

I didn't have a camera or I obviously would have taken a picture. I focussed on allowing what I saw to imprint itself in my memory. I stood there and watched the colors change for 10 minutes and felt lucky to be alive just to witness the beauty around me. I couldn't fathom how any person in the presence of such a vision would not stop and think "wow." I decided that the next night I would get somewhere spectacular in time for sunset, I would invite a friend, and I would have my camera with me.

I'm so glad Nicole and Edie could join me. 

Black and White

Two beauties for your Wednesday...

I've been taking less photos lately, mostly because I only want to shoot under perfect lighting conditions with beautiful subjects and if I don't have them I won't shoot, and these things are hard to come by. I've always been hypercritical of subject matter, especially when I was studying writing, no matter how much my professors lectured to "silence the inner critic!" Really it is about always having my camera with me and not being afraid to use it (or just writing, writing, writing). And creating something beautiful under imperfect conditions. The nice thing about art is that if you work at it enough you are bound to get something good. And I'm starting to feel inspired again.

Green Things

I've been inspired lately to add some more green to our home. We don't yet have an outdoor space but we may as well liven up the indoors as long as we're in this apartment. Jeffery used to work at a garden center and spent a couple months interning at my mom's farm before joining me in England. The man knows plants. Some things I've learned from him: 

  • The only way to learn if something will live is to give it a try.
  • Be sure not to over water.
  • Open the curtains to let the light in.

Pretty basic. I'm still on the lookout for a fiddle leaf fig.  I spend a lot of time admiring other people's gardens when I'm out walking or running in Oakland and Berkeley. (You can check out my instagram for photos.) We're nearing the end of dahlia season, and tomatoes are starting to ripen on the vine. I'm learning to appreciate the subtle transition of what's in season. It can be so fleeting. I know that when we have the space Jeffery and I will both enjoy planting, tending and harvesting our outdoor flowers and edibles.  Until then, a girl can dream.

Where the wind don't blow so strange.

A couple weekends ago we drove up to Willits to celebrate Jeffery's ten-year high school reunion. It consisted of a Friday night bar crawl and a Saturday afternoon potluck in the park, both relaxed and interesting, to say the least. The best part was reconnecting with old friends, there are so many good people from Willits.

The real party was Saturday night at our friend Jesse's property where there were so many of my favorite things:

An outdoor kitchen with all of the amenities in a clearing in the woods surrounded by gardens...Barbecued oysters slathered with lemony garlic butter...The lovely Lucy vying for our attention, affection and any meat droppings falling her way...Late night fireside discussion with great friends, so much history between us...Endless music....Stars in the sky, and so many more as the night wore on...Laughter as we tried to find our tents in the dark...

It is the site where his family hosts Dead on the Creek, an intimate music festival each year on the second weekend in August. Bluegrass music, Grateful Dead cover bands and the best local organic food you've ever eaten. Camping, food and libations are all included in the ticket price and there are still some spots available! You can learn more here.

Jeffery has helped with parking the last few years, and I was trying to get in on the kitchen crew, but I was talking to Jesse's dad about my camera and he asked if I'd photograph the festival. So I have that to look forward to in just over a month. This summer is flying by. Soon I will share photos from my road trip to Colorado, and next week we're off to Santa Cruz for three nights with friends. I have some upcoming family shoots scheduled and I'm trying to meet up and shoot a little with some photographers I admire.

It all feels pretty fast paced, but good. I haven't had a chance to venture into the city for too long, but I am ecstatic about the Supreme Court ruling on the unconstitutionality of DOMA and the legalization of gay marriage in California. Happy pride to all my SF and LGBT friends, I love you and I am so happy. Happy to tears over and over again. This is going to be a summer of celebration, I can feel it. 

Cuatro de Mayo

Russian hands making piroshki
piroshki for Russian Easter

My parents are visiting! We spent last weekend together at our friend Lee's lovely home up in Sonoma County. We had a Russian Easter celebration on Sunday (photos coming soon!) and decided to celebrate with Mexican food on Saturday, the fourth. When we arrived Marina was making piroshki.

tree leaves
me in a hammock

Jeffery took this one of me.

Jeffery and reflection of garden

And I took this one of him, while swinging in the hammock. I really love the reflection of the garden in the glass. And I really love him.

Marina red and green
chickens in the yard, sonoma county
my mom in the hammock

Taking turns in the hammock. Happy Mother's Day, mom! I know a lot of people think this, but I really do have the best mom in the world. I love you, and I only wish I saw more of you.

Lee at her home
mexican feast

Cerveza, tamales, carnitas, tilapia tacos, guacamole, margaritas. We know how to do it right. Beautiful home, amazing yard, perfect weather, delicious food, cold drinks, no agenda, just being together and having a meal.

Berkeley Rose Garden

white climbing roses fragrant Berkeley Rose Garden
Berkeley Rose Garden full bloom
beautiful roses berkeley rose garden
rose glowing from behind
berkeley rose garden amphitheater
five petal variety rose
roses climbing tennis courts

The Berkeley Rose Garden is in full bloom. If you have never been, go. Any time between now and September. Go play a game of tennis, there are four courts and always at least one open. Take some kids to explore and splash in the creek (there's an enormous cement slide across the street at Codornices Park). Go to read a book, meditate, exercise. Or go to smell the roses.

My grandmother introduced me to the garden last August when I took her portrait for my photography class. It was the first time I had ever taken anyone's portrait. Taking that class was one of the best things I've ever done. It pretty much blew my world open. So much good has come.

P.S. She also modeled for my photography class final project. You can see those images here.

East Bay Roses | Looking Forward

These roses were blooming down the street from the house of the girls I watch in Berkeley.

berkeley roses
english garden rose
full garden roses wide open
berkeley rose

And these were blooming a block away from the little girls I watch in North Oakland.

ombre roses
ombre rose
pink tipped roses in the sky
pink tipped roses white picket fence
pink and white garden roses picket fence

Ombre garden roses, dark wooden fence, white picket fence, it doesn't get much better.

I've been nursing a pretty nasty cold for a week now. I had to miss my soccer game today, which is a bummer. But after breakfast Jeffery and I might take a drive up to the top of Mount Tam, I've never been before. And my parents will be here in a week! We're having a Russian Easter celebration with family and friends next weekend, and the weekend after that I am photographing another birthday party. The niece of one of my best friends is turning one! And then it's mother's day and Jeff's birthday and then we might go camping for Memorial Day. After that we're off to Grass Valley for our friend's wedding, and then up to Willits for Jeff's ten year high school reunion. I get some time off mid June, and I'm planning on taking a road trip to Colorado with a friend. Time is going by very fast, and we have so many things to look forward to in the next few months. I'm also thinking about getting a new lens, which would probably make all of those experiences even better. :)

Climbing Hills

kitty scoping out wildflower bouquet
daffodils from above
california spring wildflower bouquet

My friend Jeannine and I went for a hike in the Berkeley hills, up behind the Claremont Hotel, and I came home with a bouquet of wildflowers. It felt so good to be surrounded by nature. Especially when the hillside is littered with Scotch Broom, wild Lupine, Indian Paintbrush, Forget-Me-Nots, and sweet pea. Mr. Curious was all over them, making me realize that this is his first spring, and he's never smelled wildflowers before. How exciting.

The daffodils were grown by Marina. I'm pretty sure the woman brings me most of the flowers she grows, along with those she forages. What a peach. Favorite things right now: flowers in my home, curious little kitties, hiking mountains. In the next couple weeks I have a few photo shoots with humans, which I'm really looking forward to. Not that anyone ever tires of looking at flowers and kitties.