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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.