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Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas, originally uploaded by sgrace.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our friends and family!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Good-Bye, Sky View

Sadly, Santa Cruz is saying goodbye to an institution that has been around for nearly 60 years. The Sky View Drive In is closing and the property will be used to expand the nearby Sutter Medical facilities.

Today, we went to the flea market for the last time. I'm definitely disappointed, but I heard today that there is going to be something happening at the Watsonville Fairgrounds, which would also be OK. It's a shame, though, because I always thought it was cool that we had a drive in right in town.

Pat and Molly went to the flea with us today. We had dinner with them last night. Dotty is getting big. She is almost 6 months old. She really likes dogs and she was laughing out loud at Tiki. She is so cute!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dante, not Daunte

Today I went and saw Denise and Dante, who I had not yet met.

I was feeling very guilty about this, so on the way home I decided to just pick up the phone and call her. So I did and after some embarrassing comments on my part She invited me over and I ended up stopping by after work. I am so glad I did. Dante is so adorable and everyone is definitely very happy. Can't wait to see more of them soon.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Book Review: Good Faith


Good Faith by Jane Smiley
Anchor Books, 2004, 432 pages

I just finished reading Jane Smiley's novel Good Faith, and found it to be an interesting read on many levels.
I have read other of Smiley's books, and she fills each of them with meticulous detail that helps the reader create a vivid world for her characters to inhabit. The last book of hers I read, Horse Heaven, was a very detailed look at horse racing framed by the relationships of people -- as well as the horses -- involved in the sport. This time, Smiley painstakingly recreates the world of late seventies early eighties real estate in the Northeast. I was really just a wee child during that time in history, but I could appreciate that setting as one for a story of real estate, money, wealth, sex, greed, adultery, deceit... and some other stuff.
Good Faith did not turn out to be the novel I thought it was when I picked it up at a used bookstore. The cover depicts two pairs of feet, a man in black pants and shoes and a woman barefoot in a white dress. The picture, juxtaposed with the title, suggests a novel about marriage and fidelity, but the book is about so much more. What I like about this book is that the title suits the book in many ways, and the idea of good faith becomes a metaphor or analogy that can be applied to various elements of the story.
The lives of the characters that populate Good Faith are intertwining representations of faith. One part of the story does deal with fidelity and the faith of marriage and even the act of faith that is love. The plot centers on the faith that so many people had circa 1980-82 in the booming real estate market, and the amazing, risky, and downright dirty financial and social activity generated by this faith in the almighty dollar. This is also a story of faith of friendship, faith in oneself, and deep religious faith. Ultimately I think the story is one of having faith that everything will turn out OK in the end, despite life's ups and downs.
I enjoyed this book although it was a long read. I am a fast reader and, although I enjoyed the complex characterization and the amount of detail Smiley puts into describing houses and people and conversations, there was a point where I wanted the story to hurry up. I guess this is the suspense smiley wanted, though, because I did feel like I was inhabiting a world she created. It was a bit more boring than suspenseful at some points, but I found the end satisfying. I liked Horse Heaven, more, however, because of the subject matter and would recommend that for a first time Smiley reader.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

After the Rain



Green Heron, originally uploaded by sgrace.
We haven't had much rain lately, but two weeks ago, there was a thunderstorm and it rained quite a bit. I went down to the harbor after it had cleared a bit and the sum was coming out of the clouds and setting at the same time. It was nice but fickle light.
One of the things I really like about nature photography is seeing new things that I've never noticed before. This Green Heron, for example. I snuck up on it under the dock near the Crow's Nest, but it flew to some rocks about 20 feet away. I went back up on top of the dock and got this shot.
I also spotted a Great Blue Heron in the same area, and got some nice shots even though the light wasn't ideal.
Great Blue Heron

Taking Off

I've never seen so many crabs out on the rocks. they'd come out to catch some sun after the rainstorm, I think. Maybe they were eating something:
Salute!

I think that's what the two herons were after, after all.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Hummingbirds and Monarchs



Shy Hummingbird, originally uploaded by sgrace.
Last Sunday I went up to UCSC to the Arboretum again. There was not much color, but I saw a lot more wildlife than usual, especially birds. I got a very cool sequence of several birds enjoying a birdbath in the Australian garden.
Scrub Jay
I was also able to get some good pictures of hummingbirds. They have been my most elusive capture. At UCSC there is a hummingbird garden full of flowers like these...
Pink Flowered Cape Heath
...and as you walk through it you can hear so many hummingbirds all around you that would think a picture would come easily. But they do move very fast -- almost all of the little ones I was able to catch were perched on branches.
I also went down to Natural Bridges and saw a lot of Monarch butterflies, another difficult animal to photograph while in flight:
IMG_9348
IMG_9345
I got a much better photo of a monarch down at Twin Lakes last month...
California Monarch
But it was really beautiful there just the same. It was also really crowded and I think I would have much better luck going in the middle of the week or earlier in the day. The butterflies are disturbed by vibrations and there were a lot of kids and generally loud goings on that day.

Monday, November 5, 2007

All the Proteas Have Bees...



All the Proteas Have Bees..., originally uploaded by sgrace.
I really wish I would update regularly in here. I think my lack of regular posting is a result of my tendency toward perfectionism. If I’m not going to be able to do a project right, I tend to not want to do it at all. That is why I have so many projects that are both ambitious and unfinished. That, I think, is why I’m not good are correspondences, either personal or public, such as diaries, letters, emails, or phone calls. I somehow don’t make contact within a certain amount of time, and then after that “time” has passed, I think, “well, it’s too late now to do anything about it, because the diary is not perfect, it does not have consecutive entries!” I also tend to think that people are mad at me because I haven’t replied to their calls or emails and thus avoid contact. Well, there you go, that’s my self-analysis for the day.
I guess my prescription is to try and let this be a place of imperfection. I might have written that in my initial post, and, in my usual fashion, in order to be perfect I usually would at this point stop writing and go check the first entry I made here to see if I was thinking about trying to make this an “imperfect place” so I wouldn’t repeat myself, God forbid. See what I mean?
Don’t get me wrong, these tendencies, especially in language and communication, and to some extent relationships, are probably also my greatest strength and have allowed me to achieve success academically and professionally. But I sometimes feel like my mind is constantly working overtime to do everything right and that gets tiresome.
So, I am really going to just try and write here when I feel like it and write what I feel like writing. If I actually start to write more, than the format of this blog will sort of find itself more, instead of trying to prescribe myself a writing formula for a successful online diary.
I have to go eat dinner now but I do have more on my mind so perhaps I will write more later.

Monday, September 24, 2007

If We Could All Be This Happy...


Happy Otter, originally uploaded by sgrace.

The world would certainly be a nifty place.

Well, we're still here, alive and well. School started again, of course, and with it went the small remainder of my free time. This year seems to really be heavy right out of the gate. Perhaps I'm just more realistic about the amount of time I have to spend at work to actually make a dent in all the stuff I have to do!

My etsy site has been quite fun and actually surprisingly successful. I've made about 8 sales so far. Not too shabby, for only being up for about three months and having virtually no promotion. Its fun to log on and occasionally see a sale! I don’t have time to make any scrapbook right now, unless I get a custom order, so right now I'm mostly listing my photos as greeting cards. I’ve also gotten a few leads on selling my cards at a few tourist locations in town. I think that would be a perfect match for the kind of photos I’ve been taking. Not really edgy art; just pretty pictures of paradise and its outlying areas.
We've been camping a few more times and I would like to write reviews of Big Basin State Park and unset State Beach campgrounds. We went to Sunset twice and Big Basin once toward the end of the summer.

We also bought a 1/2 season of Raiders tickets, and it is that time of year once again. We went to the Denver preseason game and we were at the Browns game yesterday. Holy crap, what a surprise ending. I thought we'd thrown another one away, for sure. The biggest bummer about that game was that, at some point during the day, I accidentally switched my camera to low resolution images, so all the great photos I took are really small! But that's OK, they still look OK on the computer so I'll post them to my flickr account when I get a chance.

Missing all my friends and friends’ babies out there! Hope all is well as we plunge rapidly ahead into the full-force holiday season…

Friday, July 27, 2007

I have been very busy lately with the new etsy shop. The response is more than I ever imagined. I have sold 2 scrapbooks already, and I actually got an order from a shop in Hawaii for a lot of 10! I shipped that out today. I hope that this is not a fluke and that I will have slow but steady business from here on out.

Jason and I have also been camping more recently. When I get a chance I'll post camping pictures. In the meantime, check out my etsy site to see what I've been creating!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New "Shop"

I have been playing around with making things again -- always dangerous, I know. I've opened up a crafty little site on etsy.com (home of handmade wonders). I'm selling little things like handmade earrings and note cards made from my photographs. I don't know if anyone will actually buy anything but its fun! Plus you can find some REAL artwork at etsy, so check it out!
www.stasiland.etsy.com

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Campsite Review: Morro Strand SB Campground

About a week ago, on the weekend of June 23rd, Jason and I took our new baby camping:

The Rig

This is a Coleman Redwood pop-up camper, circa mid 80's, which Jason acquired for a mere $20. It was, and is, an amazing deal. You can see it's been lovingly patched with fabric glue and a nice sailing ship motif fabric. I'll have to get some detail pictures of the inside on our next trip. It has a comfy queen size bed inside, and two additional single beds, one of which folds up into a table with benches. There is also a sink and a propane stove. Tiki is absolutely in love with it. So is Jason. After this trip, so am I.

We went to Morro Strand State Beach Campground, which is located along Highway 1 (The Pacific Coast Highway). It is about 2 miles south of Cayucos, and lies between Hwy 1 and the lovely Morro Strand State Beach.

Morro Strand State Beach

The campsite itself is fairly urban, as it is located beneath a development of really nice, expensive homes. But this is well balanced by the fact that a gorgeous beach is just steps from your campsite. Here is the view from our site, Space 6, as the sun sets on our first night in camp:

Site 6: Golden Sunset

As you can see, the sites are close together and not very private, but again, the beach is RIGHT THERE!

The campsite itself has 55 sites, arranged in three loops with sites in the center and around the edge of each loop. There are plenty of convenient restrooms. There is a foot wash for the sandy beach but there are no showers. There are also no hook-ups for electricity or RV dumping.

We chose this campground as an alternative to getting a motel. I attended a wedding in nearby Paso Robles on Saturday. Jason wasn't going to attend, and I was attending with Becky, a friend from work. I left the campsite, drove to Becky's hotel in Atascedero, showered, changed, attended the 6pm wedding, and drove back to the campsite. I returned around 10pm. I found the site to be convenient to travel to both nearby cities.

Reservations are definitely necessary in the summer. We use Reserve America for all our state park stays. You won't get assigned a site at this campground when you make your reservation. Instead, you pick it when you arrive at the campsite. The Ranger did not let us drive into the campground to look at the sites before picking, so we guessed and got lucky. If possible, try to get a site in the center of a loop because you have more parking this way. We were happy with site 6. We had a guest join us the second night, who slept in his truck, but there was plenty of room if he had wanted to put up a tent. The ground was not very level, and there were a lot of ground squirrels who provided a lot of holes all around the sites.

Hello?

There was, however, ample parking for our truck, our trailer, and our friend's vehicle:

Our Campsite

If you are traveling with your dog, you will be in fine company here. We saw several furry friends, and Tiki got to practice behaving around kids and other dogs. Your dog is required to be in a leash at all times. The rules also state that the leash must be 7 feet or less. These rules do not seem to be strictly enforced, as we saw several campsites with off-leash dogs. We also had Tiki tied off on a 15 foot leash with no problems.

Dirty Dog, Posted Up

While the campsite is relatively dog friendly, the beach is not:

No Dogs Allowed

No dogs are allowed on Morro Strand State Beach, although I am pretty sure you can walk your furry companion (on leash, or course!) a few miles north in Cayucos. This was kind of a bummer, but Jason and I took turns holding down the camp while the other went down to the beach. I had fun taking pictures. There are a lot of shorebirds on the beach:

Great Blue Heron

And much of the area immediately bordering the campsite is protected habitat for the Snowy Plover. There is also a Blue Heron rookery in nearby Morro Bay. Morro Bay also has a lot of cool shops and offers fun day trips like kayaking, where you might see a sea otter or jellyfish in the inner Morro Bay Harbor.

If you are camping with your dog, the nearby town of Cambria is also very dog friendly and it has a dog park you might want to visit while in the area. There are also restaurants in Cambria like The Main Street Grill where you can dine on the patio with your canine friend. Tiki reports that you should try the french fries. Other local attractions include wine tasting tours and the amazing Hearst Castle.

Overall, we had a great experience. If you are looking for remote quiet and solitude, this campsite is not for you. If you are looking to hang out on the beach all day, or want to visit some central coast landmarks, or want a convenient family friendly campsite, or are camping with your dog and don't care about walking on the beach, you might enjoy checking out Morro Strand State Beach Campground.

California Camping

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Mission San Juan Bautista


1. Mission Garden Red Rose, 2. Proud Papa, 3. Blue Door, 4. Supplication

Last Thursday, I decided to explore San Juan Bautista, a town that I pass daily on my commute to Hollister. I specifically went to see the Old Mission San Juan Bautista. It was a beautiful, windy, bright day and I got a lot of cool pictures. From the Mission Website:

The Old Mission San Juan Bautista...
...began with a group of leather-jacketed soldiers and a few Native Americans watching a tonsured Franciscan priest raise his eyes and hands toward the sky...

"In the name of our blessed Father, and the saint whose feast we commemorate today, St. John the Baptist..."

The day was June 24, 1797, a Saturday, and the priest was Fr. Fermin de Lasuen, Presidente of the California Missions successor to Blessed Junipero Serra. This mission was one of four established by Fr. Lasuen in the summer of 1797 and the fifteenth of the twenty-one missions in Alta, California.

Construction began almost immediately under the care of Fathers Jose Manuel de Martiarena and Pedro Martinez. By Christmas, because of the friendly and cooperative indigenous people, not only was there an adobe church built but also a grainary, barracks, a monastery, and some adobe houses...

The mission was also one of the sites Hitchcock used for his film, Vertigo. I enjoyed the gardens and was especially captivated by the chickens. I didn't get a chance to explore the Plaza Hotel or the Plaza Stables, so I might try and stop by there next week. I always feel weird about visiting Old Missions in California. On one hand, I am amazed by the history behind one of the few "old" things we have here on the West Coast. On the other hand, the exploitation of native people, the forced assimilation and even the whole idea of a Christian Mission are really disturbing to me. Visiting this site, I tried to hang on to the delusional idea that the ancient Spaniards had good intentions when they founded the Mission nearly two hundred years ago.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Baby D

Just as I suspected, the littlest Darnell has arrived on the scene! He actually was born AT THE SAME TIME I WAS WRITING THE LAST POST. Weird. I was thinking a lot about him being born that day -- I think I had a feeling.

Meet Dante Charles Darnell, born 6/26/07 at 9:49pm.

I have yet to meet the little guy in person. This is the picture I got on my phone.

So, all my "kids" are here. Mather, Parker Jane, Dotty and Dante. I cannot wait to see how this group of little ones grows and changes. I have images of attending four first birthday parties next year. And four high school graduations in 2025(!). So exciting! Hooray to the moms and dads and babies!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dotty, Mather, and Parker Jane

OK, so today I saw some old friends who reminded me that I should update my blog. I didn't think anyone was reading it. So in their honor here is a spectacularly adorable, superstar update complete with three times the cute baby power!!!

Cute update number one:
I am the proud godmother of a beautiful baby girl, Dottie May, born May 31st. She is Patrick and Molly's little girl. I got to be there when she was born. It was completely amazing.

Speaking of amazing, today I got to meet two other special little girls.

Meet Mather. Mather was born November 1st. She is the daughter of Emily and Dan Ransom. Does she not have the most amazing blue eyes? Mather is an active little one and it was so great to meet her in person after seeing her pictures!






And finally, the little starlet Parker Jane, daughter of Erin and Rick Corbal. She was born on Oscar night, in Hollywood, on her Great-Grandmother's birthday: February 25. Is she born under a lucky sign, or what? She is delicately beautiful and a little snuggle-bunny.

So three down and one to go. I have a feeling a little "D" is going to show up any minute now. The mini-baby-boom has begun!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Terrible Escape


Terrible Escape, originally uploaded by sgrace.

I've been very busy with work and my classes at CSUMB. Photography has really been a passion lately, and I've been posting a lot of photos on flickr.com.

This week, on Monday, I had some extra time between classes. I had one class from 4-6 and one from 7-8:30. I am almost done with my Level I Resource Specialist Credential and so I have to go to a few night seminars this semester. I can't wait until I'm done but it looks like Level II is going to take another two years. Why does the state make it so hard to put qualified teachers in the classrooms where they are most needed?

At any rate, I got up the guts to try and check out some of the old buildings on campus, which is the site of the former military base, Fort Ord. There are a lot of random machines and destroyed windows and a generally creepy vibe. I stumbled upon this image of broken security glass in a steel door, and looking through it I could see a door off its hinges on the other side. Its amazing how the camera begins to frame what you see when you are in the state of mind to look at things in a certain way. I could have spent hours here but I only had 20 minutes and got a few interesting shots.
Shut
Broken Pink House
I've also taken some nice pictures at the flea market lately. you can view more by clicking on the picture and checking out my flickr pages.
Green Parrot
Typewriter 456

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Photo Crazy, Busy Lady



Jason at the Flea Market, originally uploaded by sgrace.

Today we went to the flea market and I took a few pictures. I have been photo-crazy lately, taking pictures every chance and every place possible.

This has been a crazy week for me. Monday, of course, is always hectic because I have class at CSUMB and have to leave right after school. Tuesday I commuted with B for the first time and that was great but also a change in routine which is always stressful for me. I also had IEP meetings during my prep on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

On Thursday I drove to Fresno for a teacher recruitment fair. I have never been over the Pacheco Pass that I can remember, and it was an interesting journey.
Pacheco Pass

I stopped at the San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area and took some pictures and checked it out for camping. The space is just so open, its amazing:


but I think it will be too hot and full of mosquitoes to be fun in the summer.

I also got some pictures of Tiki playing, and a cloudy sunset at the beach.
Tiki Blur

Check them out on my flickr page.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

UCSC Arboretum


Pink Proteaceae, originally uploaded by sgrace.

Today I continued my photo safari trend and went back up to UCSC, this time to check out the Arboretum. I lived at UCSC for two years and worked there for 10 and, believe it or not, I have never been to this amazing garden. Now I am ashamed to admit it. Even though it is early spring and some blooms have been damaged by frost, there were still a lot of unusual flowers and foliage. The garden has collections from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand that take up acres, as well as smaller California Native Plant and Succulent Gardens.

I had a lot of fun walking around. I’m still figuring out my camera, but I feel like I’m getting better with practice. I saw some huge lizards that I wish I could have caught a picture of and also two bunnies and a blue jay that were too quick for me.

Moss Landing at Sunset


Moss Landing Dunes at Sunset, originally uploaded by sgrace.

Ever since I've had this new camera I've been addicted to taking pictures all over the place. It's like an excuse to go on little adventures.

Yesterday, for example, I had to go to class at CSU Monterey Bay, and instead of going straight there and back I decided to turn it into a photography trip. Whenever I'm commuting I always see places I want to stop or pictures I want to take but never have the time or courage to stop and check it out.

So I left an hour early and drove down to Cannery Row, which is in Monterey about 15 minutes South of CSUMB. I parked and walked around and took some pictures and then headed back to campus.

On the way to class I had seen fields of ripe artichokes that I really wanted to photograph. So, on the way home, I pulled over at the first chance and took some pictures right on the side of the road! I never would have done that before.

I was on a roll, then. I stopped at Moss Landing State Beach just as the sun was setting. I’ve driven by there countless times but never pulled in. Yesterday I did and I had the whole beach to myself. It was really windy, but there were lots of birds and I got some cool shots of the sunset.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Photos Galore!


statue (19), originally uploaded by sgrace.

I've just about finished putting all my photo archives (except pictures of friends and family) into public albums on flickr.com. It is really fun to see others' pictures and see how they compare, and see who likes the pictures that you have on display. I especially like how you can click on a photo and see what camera took the picture and what the settings were. This helps me learn to use my camera. I am especially challenged by aperture and shutter speeds -- that is a whole new thing for me.

At any rate, there are over 300 pictures with a few more to come, dating as far back as 2000. I have always wanted to have virtual photo albums and flickr is very easy to use. You can also click on any of the pictures (all rights reserved) to download for personal use.

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Blooming

Friday was my 30th birthday! It was relatively painless, as many people kindly celebrated with me. I feel good about some things, like my job and my marriage. In other parts of my life, such as my weight and exercises habits, I feel like I'm not where I wanted or expected to be at 30. I think my career as a whole is a mix of the two because I really never imagined myself teaching high school English, let alone Special Education. But, I really love it and have passion for it right now so it is a fulfilling career overall.

I received many nice things from my family, friends and students. Some of my students went out of their way to throw me a little party which was very nice. They probably just wanted to have an excuse for a party but still, it made me feel good.

Yesterday we had a party and it was wonderful to have so many of my friends show up. We BBQd a lot of food -- so much in fact that all we had to eat at the party was meat and cake! There were about 15 people, and almost everyone brought something to cook. I mean, who doesn't love an excuse to grill? We cooked sausage, hot dogs, Jamacian Jerk Chicken legs, a HUGE chicken breast and a tri-tip. And there was none left.



Jason made 2 cakes. Both were banana bread baked in a bunt cake mold; one was frosted chocolate and the other vanilla. There were 2 pregnant ladies and a 4-year old and between the three of them those cakes went pretty fast! All my girlfriends were there except Liz and she wanted to come. We had a keg of some nice light beer (my request) because I wanted to be able to drink as much as I wanted and not get wasted. Everyone else stayed relatively OK. It was fun to see everyone all together, especially people who never go out to parties.

One of the things I'm really stoked on is that the many nice flowering plants I've gotten over the past few days. Last week, I bought myself a small orchid and a freesia. Then, I received an Easter Lilly, a Hyacinth, and another large orchid. I'm going to take pictures and record the care instructions in this blog so I can track and see if I can actujavascript:void(0)
Publish Postally make these beautiful blooms survive.

(update 6/29/07: I did not make the beautiful blooms survive.)

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Harbor Tree


harbor_tree, originally uploaded by sgrace.

I walked down the trestle and to the Seabright side of the Harbor today. I took a few pictures but didn't really get any good ones -- it was overcast and the light was not very flattering. This is the only really interesting one. I experimented more with my camera settings, but I still really only understand a fraction of what the thing can do. I want to learn how to keep the exposure open longer to play with the light at evening and night.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Book Review: Swallowing Stones by Joyce McDonald



Swallowing Stones by Joyce McDonald
Random House, 1997, 245 pages

Editor's Note: Hi there!  It's me, Sara, updating this post nearly 6 years after I wrote it.  Interestingly, this is the most popular post on my blog.  And tracking data indicates that a lot of people are searching for a summary of "Swallowing Stones".  I have a very strong suspicion that many of you are students looking for some help on a book review or summary.  You see, I was a high school teacher.  I know these things.  So feel free to use my post to better understand the book, or maybe see if you want to read it for yourself, but DO NOT PLAGIARIZE MY REVIEW.  Your teacher knows how to Google... they will find out.  Thank you :).

On his seventeenth birthday, Michael receives a Winchester rifle as a gift from his grandfather. He and his friend Joe take it out into the woods behind his house and shoot it into the air in celebration.

Across town, an innocent man who is fixing his roof is struck in the head by the bullet and dies instantly. His teenage daughter, Jenna, is witness to this tragic accident.

This is an interesting and compelling story, made more so by McDonald's narrative style. The chapters of the book alternate between the perspective of Michael and Jenna. Each has their own knowledge of the incident and as the book progresses more and more clues are exposed as the two grow closer together.

A nice feature of this book is the realistic, age-appropriate characters and relationships. Jenna and her boyfriend have trouble when Jenna suddenly begins having panic attacks whenever he's around. Michael is so wrapped up in his guilt over what he's done that he alienates his girlfriend. Joe's occasional beer at a summer party increases to a drinking problem. The secret of who fired the gun expands like a balloon with guilt and lies.

There is also an element of magic realism to the book, as both Michael and Jenna are drawn together by visions of a "ghost tree" with powerful spiritual energy.

Overall, "Swallowing Stones" is an excellent picture of how tragedy affects those who are left behind. It also gives a glimpse into the guilt that surrounds someone who has accidentally caused a tragic accident. These themes are effectively delivered through realistic teenage characters, making this a solid young adult novel.

Earlier


Orca, originally uploaded by sgrace.

This collection is just a fraction of the collection of photographs taken with my older camera, an Olympus D-450 Zoom. Most of these are from our July 2004 honeymoon in San Diego.

Tue and Rousseau


Tue and Rousseau, originally uploaded by sgrace.

I caught the cats together in a rare moment. They don't usually sleep or hang out together much anymore. I love this picture because it shows their personalities. Tue is the little punk rat-catcher and Rousseau is the dorky mama's boy. Can you tell which is which?

Lizard


lizard1, originally uploaded by sgrace.

This small lizard on the sidewalk caught my eye as I was about to cross the street near the Porter bus stop. Like nearly all the nature I encountered today, it seemed to be waiting to see what I would do before it scampered away down a storm drain.

Koi


fish1, originally uploaded by sgrace.

I spent a while at the koi pond at Porter, leading the fish back and forth to try and get a good shot with the noon light directly overhead. This is the best of the batch. I especially like the spots on the golden carp.

California Grey Squirrel


squirrel1, originally uploaded by sgrace.

There are both tree and ground squirrels at UCSC. This grey tree squirrel and a partner were knocking over trash cans in the deserted Theater Arts complex.

Hand


hand1, originally uploaded by sgrace.

This large wire hand was attached to a building. There was also a statue of a leg (up to the thigh) nearby, but I couldn't get a good shot of it in the bright afternoon light.

Skull


skull1, originally uploaded by sgrace.

Today I took my camera and went up to UCSC to take some pictures. I parked at Performing Arts and walked up the hill to Baskin Arts.