Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Viva La Fluff-N-Fold

One of the drawbacks to living in an apartment with no washer and dryer is washer and dryer!! I get to lug my laundry basket upstairs to the laundry room, pay $1.50 for a small load of laundry. Then, while the dryer only costs $1, it usually takes 2-3 cycles for my clothes to actually dry. This means I usually end up paying at least $4 for one load of laundry. I miss having my own washer and dryer and doing laundry at any time-not to mention being able to leave the clothes in the dryer and not worrying that someone else needs to use the dryer! I used to be able to run errands knowing my clothes were safely tumbling in the dryer and that they would still be there when I returned.

The past couple of days, I have been doing #1 on my list of this week's priorities...Nothing! Absolutely nothing. It's been great. However, it's about time I get that laundry done. Lounging in my pj's is great for the house, but I do eventually have to leave my little bat-cave. I would like to have decent clean clothes to wear when I do. I have a laundry basket overflowing with clothes. I look at it and shudder at the thought of lugging it upstairs, and then waiting. And waiting. I have better ways to waste my time, thank you very much.

That's where the Fluff-N-Fold comes in. This is a whole new concept for me. This little corner laundro-mat is so close to my house, right by the highway. And they do the dirty work for me. I bring them my laundry basket full of dirty stinky clothes, and get them back clean, fresh-smelling, and folded!! Oh, happiness.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

drying out

Our bodies are about 2/3 water and the average adult "loses" about 10 cups of water per day in regular activity. Most people replenish through normal eating and drinking. However, this doesn't always work. If you don't replenish, you can easily become dehydrated. The Mayo Clinic website cites some symptoms of mild dehydration as:

-Excessive thirst
-Sleepiness or tiredness — children are likely to be less active than usual
-Dry mouth
-Decreased urine output — fewer than six wet diapers a day for infants and eight hours or more without urination for older children and teens
-Few or no tears when crying
-Muscle weakness
-Dizziness or lightheadedness

I've been trying to make sure I get enough water because I have the tendency to become dehydrated. I just forget to drink. Last session, I had a very bad episode in which I felt nauseaous, weak and my head felt as if I had incurred Thor's wrath on a bad day. I had class and I just wanted to come home and cry myself to sleep. It felt like a horrible hangover, only I had not been drinking. Since dehydration plays a large part of feeling hungover, I looked up the symptoms after I got home. They fit. After drinking several large glasses of water, I did feel better. As Willow would say, I had an epiphany and a realization.

However, knowing to keep hydrated and doing it are two separate things. I still forget to drink. I'm learning to recognize the signs that my body gives. Before getting to the list above, I've learned that my lips are usually the first to suffer. They chap. I may not have been out in the sun or wind, yet my lips start to chap. Right now, my lips are chapped. I've been trying to drink more water. I think in a couple of days, they will be back to normal.

It's a bit scary to think how easy it is to become dehydrated. The web says hot humid climates are a danger. However, I personally think a milder dry climate is more dangerous for me. In Florida, in that heat and humidity, I felt thirsty and I would drink a lot of water. Here in California, I don't feel that heat, and I forget to drink. I realize I actually have to make myself drink. It's such a little thing, but with some big effects. I'm trying to get into the habit.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Last night a few of us from class went out to celebrate finishing the session (and passing!!) My original plan was to have a few margaritas, but when I looked at the drink menu, the restaurant had some liquors I had never had before. How can a girl pass up a new drink with South American booze??

Have you ever heard of pisco? I hadn't until last night. It's a Peruvian liquor and quite tasty as a Pisco Sour. It tastes a bit like a margarita but it doesn't kick you in the head quite as much. Needless to say, I had a couple!

The evening slowly carried on into the night and a party at another student's house. The cops were called, even though I don't understand quite was not very loud or obnoxious. The girl that lives there was threatened with a $700 ticket, so I got to go to her last party. I can't say I blame her. $700 for party? She better start charging admission!!!

Coming home at 2 a.m, I was happy. I tend to close myself up in my own little world and become a bit anti-social at times. I get into these moods that I don't want to do anything or put forth the effort to head out and mingle. Last night was good for me. Sometimes, all I need is a fun night out.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

top 10

The top 10 things I will do when this session ends...just a few more days of torture...

10. Clean the apartment...apparently, the cleaning fairy has decided to boycott my house. I think I'm too much.

9. Paint my living room wall...the color is called HOT MOON! No, it's not bright white...I like to think of it as the color of a ripe rich mango.

8. Get my Ikea Expedit Bookcase...I have been wanting to get this, but Ikea is 80miles away. I don't just want it, I need it.

7. Shop for fun. I haven't been to any decent stores or had a leisurely afternoon of just browsing and maybe buying something I don't really need but just want in a really long time. It's good for the soul.

6. Go to the beach. I need some sun!

5. Find a hiking trail and make a day/afternoon of it!

4. Visit Malibu and Santa Monica...maybe I'll even see some famous people, but usually unless they are right next to me, I'm quite oblivious, after all, isn't it all about me?

3. Go to a musuem...expand my horizons

2. Read...I haven't done much of that for fun lately

1. Nothing...absolutely nothing!!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

El gato the wannabe photographer...

As I sat here, reading blogs and news and getting all worked up about an article I saw, I hear a loud clang and see my cat run out the door. I figure she knocked something over and scared herself. Then, I continue to hear it as she races in the patio...clang, bang, clangidy clang...

I get up to go check and there is el gato, racing back inside with an old Kodak box camera bouncing behind her..bang, bang.

She's racing, trying to get away from it and the faster she races, the louder the noise of the camera bouncing off anything it hits, and I'm running behind her trying to catch her.

I finally cornered her in the bathroom and got the camera strap off her neck. Amazingly, that old camera is still in one piece, but I think the cat may reconsider her attempts at photography.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

wild life...

I live next to hyenas...nice and pleasant hyenas but hyenas nonetheless. Every night, it starts. HAAAAAHAAAAHAAHAAAAA!! Every night. I am not sure what is that funny. I think they are watching tv, but I can't find anything quite that funny.

When my mom was here, she got to hear it. And then, we started laughing. And hooting. An interesting thing about me and my mom, when we start laughing at each other, we can't stop. Soon, our hoots (we're owls) drowned out the hyenas,and there was quiet for a few days.

Friday, October 13, 2006

winter approaches...

Last night I conked out early...I could barely keep my eyes open, so I didn't fight it. Just went to sleep. This morning, I awoke to the sound of rain. I love waking up to the sound of rain falling, it's so peaceful. But then, I want it to stop. However, from what I hear, rain is quite common here in the winter. Great. My sinuses are going to love this. For some reason, cold and rain, especially the two combined, send my sinuses into an absolute tizzy.

So, it seems that southern Cali might have seasons after season and water season. One sends ashes out of the sky, the other...well, water. In Florida, we had two seasons as well...hurricane season and tourist season. See? Similarities?? (not.)

I miss the sudden warm rains of Florida. The day might be perfectly sunny and then you see a wall moving towards you, and the sound of a thousand raindrops hitting simultaneously. And you run for it!! But, it catches up to you and you are soaked within 30 seconds, but it's warm. And then, just as quickly as it came, it's gone. And the sun comes back, full force as the steam rises off the pavement. sigh...

Speaking of missed photo ops like Julie wrote about a while back. I was in Fl and decided to go for a walk along the beach. I walked down to the where the condos are, which is maybe a mile or so from the house. As I turned to head back home, I saw it. A massive black cloud moving in from the south over the water. However, the sun was still hitting the water below it, lighting it up under the darkness. And the lightning! It was amazing!! If you can imagine it...a sunlit turquoise ocean under a huge blue-black cloud with lightning zigging all over. I so wanted my camera!! DAMMIT. Then reality did set in. I was on the beach. With lightning. A mile from home.
Oh well...I just walked back. I figured if it was going to get me, it was going to get me. I just hoped that the rain would hold off. And it did. I was barely in front of the house when I felt the first drops...and then I ran for it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I am actually home in time to watch Gilmore Girls tonight!! I can't believe it. I. am. home.
And it's not even 8! I am thrilled!! Positively jubilant!! I even had dinner at a friend's house!! I actually have a semblance of a social life outside of the photo lab!! I know you can't see me...but I'm doing a little jig right now...I would try the Dance of Joy, but I don't think I'm really that limber so this jig will have to suffice.

I have spent the past month in the lab on Monday and Tuesday nights, either processing or printing assignments. The lab closes at 1 and a couple of times I have nearly been there as they throw me out close. I have posted pictures that I've done, but in case you might have been wondering about the camera I get to use. It is a 4x5 camera. It's a heavy, awkward camera that is causing me incredible frustration as I learn to make it do what I want. I've tried talking to it, "ok..come with me...." This is supposed to work in photography, isn't it? Try telling that to my camera. I'm going to call it the Mule. 1. you need a mule to lug that thing's heavy. 2. It's stubborn.

When my mom was here, she looked at it and made a really weird face. "I didn't think they used anything likethat anymore. It looks like what they used to use 100 years ago." Well, she was right about that. Anyways, despite my grumbling, this camera does take some fabulous pictures. The quality is great and I know that when I have mastered this Mule, I'll be happy. In the meantime, I am wasting an incredible amount of film and developer learning. But tonight...tonight it's all ok because I am home. And I am watching Gilmore Girls.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

the rules of engagement

Last night, I went out for a beer with my friend and her boyfriend. We went to the local sports bar, and we were hanging out at the bar, talking, when someone taps my shoulder. Yes?
"I just wanted to talk to you." Um..ok...

So, this drunk guy that I had had my back to actually tapped me on the shoulder, interrupting our conversation, just because he wanted WTF?? I mean, I'm certainly not the most socially adept person-I'll chat with most anyone, and make random comments to total strangers, but even I know not to interrupt.

Because really, what do you say after that? It's sort of like when someone finds out you speak a different language and they go, "oh, say something in that language!" and follow it with "what did you say?" If you can't understand it, don't ask!

I really felt like saying, "ok, you've talked to me. Happy?" and then gone back to my own conversation but I find it hard to be that mean...what a sucker! But I tried giving him the hint, by keeping my back mostly turned, leaning away when the guy tried to lean luck. I should've known better since he totally interrupted to begin with but he kept on trying to make conversation....the guy even told me how much he earns!! UGH!! Those are not things to bring up. SHEEESH!! What ever happened to normal chit-chat? I think he was pretty drunk because a couple of times he had a hard time getting the words out, but thank God my friends saved me!! We moved to a table.

Friday, October 06, 2006

time for some guacamole

This weekend is the 20th Annual Avocado Festival!! hurray! and I am here for it! This little festival, which is expecting over 100,000 visitors this weekend, is the reason I decided to move to this town.

Last year, I flew out here from Baltimore to visit the school during orientation. I had planned on staying the weekend so I could explore a bit. Of course, I had to visit the beach. I stuck my foot in the water, brrrrr.... I asked a family that was fishing nearby whether the water was always this cold? No, they assured August/September it gets to about 72F (they were wrong...) And then they told me that there was a festival going on in Carpinteria and that I should go (they were right!)

So, I came to Carpinteria, and was enchanted. It's a small town, with about 14,000 residents. The Avocado Festival is held each year in early October to celebrate the local culture and commerce...apparently, Carpinteria is a major producer of avocados!! I walked around last year, and visited different stalls and talked to people. Everyone was friendly, the sun was shining and I decided then that this is where I wanted to live.

To tell you a little bit about this lovely little town. We have two main streets running perpendicular to each other. We also have two grocery stores. Every Thursday, one of the main streets closes for the Farmer's Market. There is the TruValu, which carries quite a bit of things you might need for the house, from tools, hardware and paint, to bicycle pumps and patio sets!! They even have the old fashioned metal tricycles on sale!! (I thought about buying one for my nephew...but I don't think shipping it to Italy would be that easy...) There are several cafes, including Starbucks, but I would rather go to the locally owned ones, and other boutiques and small stores. Target, Home Depot, Walmart? Nope. If you want to go to one of these stores, you have to leave town. I'm glad about that. At times it might be inconvenient, but that's ok. I'll drive the 20 miles.

So, last night I walked down to the Festival with a neighbor. We browsed the stalls, I had a taco from a local restaurant. I learned the hard way not to ask them for the spicy sauce. My mouth burned for about 20 minutes afterward! My neighbor got a batch of guacamole and I had a taste. It was gooood (funny to say considering I have been vehemently anti-guac for most of my life. I must have had some nasty stuff the first time I tried it, but fresh, homemade guac..bring it on!!)

We listened to a local band, and I do mean local. Just some of the locals that get together and jam to some loungey stuff and crack jokes in between their songs. Then we saw another band on the main stage. The lead singer is Kenny Loggins' son...he walked by me at one point and holy crap! The boy looks just like his dad!!! Spittin' image!

I'm glad I went. I'll go again later today. I realize that lately I haven't been doing anything fun. I've just been concentrating on school so much that I'm starting to get in a rut...just work, work, work. Well, enough of that. I needed the break and what better than the Avocado Festival.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

to the moon!!

I promised Marnie that I would try and help out with how to get a picture of the moon. So I did a bit of digging and snooping and found some good information. I also have my own hits and misses as illustrations! I wish I could give you an easy answer, but there are different things to think about. I've included the technical info. I hope this helps...

1. Lens...You probably want somewhat of a telephoto lens, whether you're using digital or film. Otherwise, you'll probably get a small moon in a large space. If you can zoom in, then you can see more than just a speck, which is really the whole point, no? If not, you get sometheeng like zees:

technical: 1/15 second exposure, f/5.6, 82mm lens

2. Exposure...How long should the exposure be? This can vary depending on time of day and what phase the moon happens to be. We all know that we can see the moon because it is reflecting the light of the sun, no? When it's night, this actually makes the moon much brighter than its surroundings. I haven't done it, but I think that the easiest shot of a rising moon would be if it's rising at twilight, when there's enough light left in the sky so that the moon and the surrounding is visible. That should be a practically point and shoot...again, I haven't done it so that is my guess.

Question: That's all fine and dandy, but what about when it's night??

That's the tricky bit...first thing I'd recommend? a tripod, or resting your camera on something that won't move. If you're exposure is slow and you handholding the camera, chances are pretty good it will come out blurry. Like is actually blurred.

technical: .4 second exposure, f/5.6, 300mm lens

Now, with the moon being brighter than the rest of the picture, you may get overexposure...a bright moon, without much detail...

technical: .5 second exposure, f/5.6, 300mm lens

Some people think that you have to have a long exposure to get everything in. However, remember that the moon is "travelling" across the sky. Longer exposures will do a couple of things.. overexpose the moon, and you'll get a bright blob, or even if the moon is dim, it will appear blurred because it is moving (ok..actually we're moving but whatever...something is moving and it will blur the pic!!)

technical: .8 second exposure, f/5.6, 300mm lens

If you try to expose to get the surroundings as well, you get a very overexposed moon, like this one! Yes, that is the moon, not the sun!

technical: 15 second exposure, f/5.6, 82mm lens

Ideally, you want a correct exposure for the moon and you'll get nice detail, like this next shot. Like Goldilocks said..."this one's just right.."

technical: 1/15 second exposure, f/10, 300mm lens

So, if you've been following along, you might be wondering how the folks that have pictures of this big fat moon hanging over a skyline do it, no? Well, I thought it was pretty interesting...more than likely, it's a double exposure!!

How it's done...
Set the camera up on a tripod. When the moon is low and fat and happy, get a picture of it, at the exposure it needs. Then you wait...and wait...maybe go have dinner or a drink...or both..

Once the moon is out of the way, then you do another exposure (on the same frame...) for the skyline or whatever the surrounding may be.

And have the picture.

If you have a camera that doesn't do double exposures or you are dealing in digital, you can still get your shot. For the following shot, I took a night picture from back home...then used Photoshop! I cut out the moon from one pic and pasted it into the night shot. My final result?

technical: 60 second exposure, f/2.8, wide angle lens

Like I said, I got my information by digging and some of it was definitely more technical. Some of it I also learned by trial and error...and then the research also confirmed what I had deduced. The moon pics above I took in Florida back in May with a digital camera. The full moon was just incredible and I had to shoot it! If you want to look up any more info, I primarily used these two sites.
Keith's Moon Photography and Dan Heller

So, I would like to think I helped, but really, I think these are some guidelines and then play with it! Let me know how it goes!


This picture is taken from a postcard I bought before coming out here. Willowtree's post today made me miss the warm, blue waters of home. My family moved to this little paradise when I was 8 years old. If you look at the where the beach ends moving down from the top of the picture, you'll notice a little building in the water and then a jetty. That was my spot. My oldest sister taught me to snorkel when I was about 9 and I became a regular little fish.

I would head to the beach with snorkeling gear and just swim around the jetty for hours. As I got older, I bought a dive flag so that I could head into the inlet, sticking close to the rocks and out of boaters' ways! The timing had to be right...always on the incoming tide so that I could just let the currents carry me down to a pre-determined spot and climb out on the rocks! Attempting this at low tide? Never! The currents would have just pushed me out to sea!

When I wasn't snorkeling, I would still swim around the rocks, climbing out and getting back in right there...I mean, why bother heading back to the beach if I didn't have to?? At high tide, the water would be about 15-20 feet deep and I had a particular rock I could dive straight into the water from (without hitting the other rocks..very important!) In the water itself, I had a "tunnel" I would swim through...both with mask and without. It was just one huge rock resting on top of two smaller ones with nothing on either side to block the passage. I was the local mermaid!

After the hurricanes that hit the area, my little tunnel is now blocked. My diving post is gone. All through the power of that water. I still miss it.