Things Consumed

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bumper sticker updated: "Kill your television" has been revised: a bike outside CCA says "Kill your browser."
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:35 PM

Monday, May 22, 2006


"Developments" in my photography.

four-eyed camera photo out the car window in Gilroy, CA Boo, hiss, I know, bad joke. But it's a lighthearted introduction to my announcements. It's time to share news of some of my recent good fortune.

The first of three books containing my work coming out this year has been published. Blueprint to cyanotypes: Exploring a Historical Alternative Photographic Processby Malin and Gary Fabbri is available through It's a glossy, paperback textbook about the cyanotype process, illustrated with work from artists around the world. It contains a full page image of one of my photograms.

The second book featuring my work is scheduled to be available in bookstores in late July. Like Sand from Orchids' Lips is currently being preordered. This is a small, limited edition, hardcover coffee table book about orchids and sand (!?), which contains three of my color orchid images. It is currently listed as a forthcoming title from TCB Café Press (, the publishers of Cafés of San Francisco. I am thrilled to report that today I reviewed the preview, and I not only have three of my images IN the book, one of those images also adorns the back cover. That is a HUGE deal for me.

The third book is also a coffee table book, Alternative photography - art and artists 2007, a "book of inspiration" from the members of The book will show a wide collection of international work in antique processes. I'll have full two pages (two images, a brief bio, and a quote). That will be published in December.

And here's a big announcement: I'll be in my first group gallery show September 9 October 28, 2006 at the Visual Studies Workshop Gallery in Rochester, NY!! That's pretty spectacular! The show is called Past is Present and is an exhibition of modern work using antique chemical processes. I'm waiting for the organizers, the Laboratorium ( to post an announcement.

Artists need a resume of accomplishments, generally in the form of approval by others. I'm starting to accrue some "cred." This is good.

I'll try to post these announcements at in the near future, since that's the website under my middle name, upon which all of these honors are being bestowed.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:23 PM


Farmer's Market!

four images of yellow sunflowersThe weather turned warm; the lilacs and cinneraria took over the garden; and suddenly the farmer's market is a place of riotous abundance.

We're lucky to have a year-round farmer's market, and to always have so many wonderful foods grown locally. I am just amazed by how many more things are available once the weather turns warm!

We could not resist:

-6 baskets of strawberries (consumed between late Saturday morning and late Monday morning)
-5 avocados
-globe zucchini
-Prepared foods from Sukhi's: garlic naan, smoked eggplant, saag with tofu, spinach parathas, and pumpkin parathas
-purple potatoes
-an enormous butterhead lettuce (if my little nieces were here, they'd call it 'butthead lettuce,' since that's a popular insult)
-several pounds of cucumbers
-a lovely cauliflower
-green beans
-fresh basil - a long, leggy plant's worth, with enormous leaves and a heavenly scent
-young red onions with the greens still on.

There were many other temptations, but these were the ones I could handle. I had also wanted fresh garlic - tender, ultra-soft, wet fresh garlic, before the paper even forms between the cloves, is just SO tasty! I only spotted it at one booth, and when I returned to get some, the crowd had consumed it all.


Other lovely things available: fresh pressed apple juice; tamales; breads; pastries; cut flowers (a huge range!); celery; cabbages; the amazingly long vines for bitter melon, Thai basil; cilantro; early little nectarines and apricots (tiny!); red, yellow and white potatoes; cured olives; olive oil; kettle corn (always); honey; every possible shape of green and yellow summer squash, including some the size of pumpkins; cured red and yellow onions; dried garlic; dates; nuts; Fuji apples; seedlings of many types; some early peppers (from far away, clearly, and not harvested recently enough); and other things that I can't remember because I'm getting hungry just thinking about being there.

It's such a beautiful thing, to interact with the people who grow your food, and come away with so many tasty, healthy things.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:10 PM


The controversial idea that people should play in a park.

For the past 39 years, a one and a half mile stretch of Golden Gate Park's roadways has been set aside EVERY SUNDAY for recreational use. The stretch of JFK, from Stanyan to Transverse Drive, is where generations of San Franciscans have learned to tricycle, bike, roller skate, skateboard, play roller hockey, roller disco dance, pop wheelchair wheelies, and even ride those ridiculous four-person rental bikes with the little striped canvas roofs through the park. The elderly take a stroll in their walkers, confident that their main risk in crossing the streets is being struck by a tricycle. Rain or shine, people go out to enjoy a stretch of the park which isn't just used as a parking lot. Families come from all over the city to let their kids play in this short section of street, which is theirs to play in.

Despite being a popular event loved by families from around the city for slightly longer than I have been alive, this non-motorized use of a small section of park roads IS CONTROVERSIAL.

In particular, non-motorized use of the park has been long-opposed by the deYoung Museum. When a ballot initiative arose to extend this traditional Sunday use to Saturdays, the deYoung, which is on a parallel roadway which was always open to cars and has no building entrances on the affected street, adamantly fought the proposal. Why? Among other things, they claimed it killed their attendance not to have a drive-through park. Even now, with an 800-car underground garage right in front of it AND a tunnel entrance to the north which bypasses the recreational stretch of road, the deYoung has sent out a letter to its membership, claiming its attendance is hurt by recreational use of part of Golden Gate Park, and so its programs are threatened.

Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, that is now known to be a lie.

It took a FOIA request by a local paper to learn that since the deYoung museum reopened, its attendance is higher nearly half the time on Sundays. Can I repeat that while shouting? Sure I can. THE DE YOUNG'S ATTENDANCE HAS BEEN HIGHER ON CAR-FREE SUNDAYS THAN ON CAR-FILLED SATURDAYS 10 OUT OF 22 WEEKENDS. And on those other weekends, it hasn't matched their claims of harm, either. But the deYoung sent another letter out to its membership in April, lying about this again.


The deYoung has devoted a lot of energy to fighting public recreation in a public park. They sponsored a rival ballot measure to split the vote back in the day, and induced people to vote for a plan that would postpone safe, non-polluting, car-free recreation in the park until they had a precious garage built, and a special underground bypass.

The deYoung has since changed it's mind.

The SF Bay Guardian has a good piece on this. Dede Wilsey's whoppers: De Young Museum patrons lie about the impact of Golden Gate Park road closures, by Steven T. Jones ( has both sensible recaps of the museum's past deceptions and remarkable quotes about the bizarre non-justifications for reneging on their promises.
At that time, with polls showing public support for the Saturday closure proposed in Measure F, museum patrons tried to scuttle the closure by qualifying a competing Measure G, which would have delayed the Saturday closure until after completion of the parking garage. In the ballot pamphlet, Wilsey, the California Academy of Sciences, and other opponents of Measure F wrote arguments for the ballot handbook promising to support Saturday closure once the garage was completed, as it was last summer.

"The Academy supports the closure of JFK Drive on Saturdays once the efforts of Saturday closure have been studied, alternative transportation measures are in place, and the voter-approved, privately funded parking facility is built under the Music Concourse," one statement read.

At the hearing, [Supervisor] McGoldrick asked Wilsey why she is reneging on her promise. Wilsey said that she wrote her statement in 1998 while her husband and dog were still alive, before she had raised $202 million for the museum renovation, and back when "we were not in a war against terrorism. Almost nothing that was true in 1998 is true today."

Wilsey did not respond to our request to clarify her response or explain other aspects of what appears to be a calculated campaign of misinformation.
Yes, you read this right: her personal losses and the war on terror means that people shouldn't skate or bike in a public park.

The Board of Supervisors approved a 6 month trial period of opening that same little one and a half mile stretch of roadway to people on Saturdays. Better still, access for the disabled to the park, especially parking in and near the park, would be improved.

The mayor vetoed this study period, saying that the plan needs more study. (Read that again, just for fun.)


This isn't an international issue, but notice the use of language for this topic. If children and adults skate in the street, the streets are "closed." If cars park in the street and no one can skate, the streets are "open."



Some neighbors say that park use increases parking pressures on their neighborhoods. So do economically successful businesses, but those restaurant districts are allowed to cause parking mayhem. Presumably, the restaurant association has more clout than kids who want to play in the park.

Disabled people who can't drive, especially including the visually disabled, are being drowned out by disabled people who CAN drive, who say that opening the streets to recreation impinges on them. So driving disabled people are more important than non-driving disabled people.

Again, what?


The Mayor of SF, who vetoed this people-in-the-park program, is allegedly an environmentally friendly Democrat. Meanwhile, in other news, the Republican mayor of New York City is kicking off a six month closure of two additional roads in Central Park, choosing recreation over vehicular traffic. Really. The world can be so topsy-turvy sometimes.


For more info on this pro-people, pro-park program, called "Healthy Saturdays" by its supporters, go here.

The Guardian has another good editorial about this, and more coverage all the time.
posted by Arlene (Beth)8:36 PM

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A thought for the day. Achenblog: Daily Humor and Observations from Joel Achenbach:
Why am I not a poop-eating parasite living my entire life in the darkness of a bug's rectum?

Which brings up the blood-curdling, shrieking-violins follow-up: How do I know I'm not?

posted by Arlene (Beth)6:17 PM

Achenblog: Daily Humor and Observations from Joel Achenbach: "He doesn't buy 'industrial meat' anymore." Achenblog has a few entries about the author of the Omnivore's Dilemma, and they all have some interesting lines in them.
posted by Arlene (Beth)6:13 PM

It would work, of course. Want to change the world? Make gas $10 a gallon. by Mark Morford (, 5/10/06).
posted by Arlene (Beth)11:19 AM

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Rich people buy Hasselblads. Clever people take photos with used mint tins. MintyCam - a photoset on Flickr.
posted by Arlene (Beth)8:03 PM

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Memories like new photographs: I think I've failed to mention that my father took LOTS of digital photos of my paternal grandparents' home when he went back for grandpa's funeral. So my blurry memories (mentioned earlier) now have strangely sharp, flash-lit memory aids to lean upon. It's quite a remarkable thing.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:28 PM

eight little photos of an antique European telephoneYes, I know I'm writing very little. I'm using up a lot of words at work. I know that I've been in law for a very long time now, but it's still possible for this to happen. Especially if I spend part of my day answering questions which start out with, "Did you get that thing from that guy?"

I really want to be knowledgeable. I really want to have all the answers. But there are instances where it is not technically possible, and I need to stop trying so hard in those particular instances.


I taught a group of people how to make cyanotype photograms this weekend. It was fun!


I'm working on a series of cyanotype prints of images from my first ever trip abroad: Japan in 1992. They're not my best work; they aren't even all recognizeable as mine, really, since I was still in architecture mode at the time, and took a lot of images based on the idea that all photos should be source information for drawings at some later time. (This led to wacky things, like always photographing buildings from a corner, where possible, so the relationships of two sides of the building would be obvious and apparent for drawing purposes.) But there are a few images which have stayed with me, and I'm trying to print those.

Having recently picked up some higher quality inkjet film (with a special coating to hold more ink) and the wonderful UV light that Steven assembled for me, I'm nearly starting over in terms of technical habits: the adjustments to negative contrast and exposure time are vastly different, and I'm still getting my bearings with the new setup. The UV light changes a lot of things, including how far along in exposure the photos appear to be. I'm overexposing based on what the paper would look like in the sun, and must adjust accordingly.


I've been buying lots of chemicals to try new experiments. I made a pinhole camera, which I have not yet successfully tested, because I've been using cyanotype paper as film, and that takes DAYS to make pinhole images. (But I needed to find this out firsthand. For science.) I've ordered film for the 1953 Duaflex my dad gave me. I'm making notes about making cameras from scratch. The supplies I need to make and tone salt prints are being hauled by UPS toward me even now.

I may be on the verge of a productive time.

Then again, neither of my lovely Lomo cameras appear to be functioning properly. I hope to have both repaired, but it's sad to be apart from them.


It's Bike To Work Day tomorrow, and I'm bummed that I'm not volunteering to ride in with my district supervisor and staff a station like I did last year, but circumstances just don't permit it at the moment. At least I can bike in and get plied with snacks! And snacks are GOOD.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:08 PM

The perils of shopping hungry. Our receipt from Rainbow Grocery, May 10th:

-from the bakery department, a vegan black forest cake. Mmmmm. Chocolate! Chocolate! chocolate!
-sliced sourdough
-corn tortillas. Not just plain ones: thick ones, with cheese, chilies, and black beans mixed into the masa dough. These are tortillas you can eat on their own, with no condiments. Just heating them up a little makes them smell so heavenly...
-pear cider (alcohol!). Mild. Tasty.
-dried pineapple. Mmmm. A sweet snack.
-fresh spinach and ricotta ravioli. Mmmm. Served in a homemade sauce of roasted tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and garlic.
-marinated mixed olives. The kind with thin strips of sweet pimento pepper in them. And bits of the herb rosemary. And little mystery items which taste wonderful, and which might be some sort of tender fig.
-spinach pasta spirals
-Thai jasmine rice
-mild cheddar cheese
-sesame flatbread
-pepper jack cheese
-dried basil
-dried bay leaves
-dried chili powder (a mix, with other spices)
-garam masala
-dried oregano
-marinated artichoke hearts
-non-marinated artichoke hearts
-bottled salad dressing
-canola oil
-chunky pasta sauce
-canned, fire-roasted tomatoes
-jarred roasted red peppers
-refried black bean
-extra virgin olive oil
-coconut milk
-a perfectly ripe avocado
-fresh basil
-green cabbage
-baby carrots
-red leaf lettuce
-green onions
-red onions
-Asian hosui pears
-yellow potatoes
-butternut squash (a tiny darling one that I want to draw a face on)
-orange juice
-tamales (chipotle black bean)

The tamales were a wonderful meal on their own (though I made an oniony salsa to go with them which was a bit too oniony); the ravioli were just heavenly (Steven laughed at me when I suggested that I might have purchased too much ravioli, as if there could be such a thing), along with some sourdough to collect the extra sauce; the lettuce, avocado, and green onion made a lovely salad; the cabbage found half of itself in a creamy yellow curry over rice; the flatbread went beautifully with cheese and olives; and the zucchini and potato found their way into a lovely sambar, also over rice.

Still to come: a Mediterranean lasagna (though I need to pick up some of my favorite fresh feta for that; from this list I'll use the non-marinated artichoke hearts and roasted peppers); Thai curry (coconut milk, onions, zucchini or butternut squash, tofu, garlic, and a curry paste I already have); pasta salad (marinated artichoke hearts, spinach spirals, roasted red peppers, garlic); pasta with tomato sauce from a jar; toasted cheese sandwiches (sourdough, mustard, pepper jack, and roasted red peppers)... And perhaps a few things I haven't thought up yet.

We need tortillas, toor dal (a special sort of lentil-like legume used in sambar), fresh feta, and... Something else I'll forget the next time I'm at the green grocer.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:31 PM

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Wonderful News for Steven: Three weeks after he realized he left his camera and all of his camera accessories in the secret compartment of the rental car from our generally disastrous trip to southern California, he has been reunited with his camera and all of its appurtenances. Yaaay! He is a very, very, very happy camper today.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:58 PM

landscape photograph of grassland, oaks, and gully

I haven't been home much lately

For the last three weekends in a row, I've been out of town. For the last three weeks, I've been going out a lot on weekday evenings, or biking to and from work and just lounging around after I get home until I fall asleep on the couch.

Yes, I know. My existence is all glamour, all the time.

This past weekend I went to visit my folks in the Central Valley. This is likely my last chance to visit them for a while: their area, despite having major rivers flowing through it, is oppressively hot in the summer, with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit midday. Now that the rains have stopped, I decided to take my chance and visit while the Sierra foothills still have a hint of green, before they dry up for the hot season.

On Saturday, I went for a pleasant walk in the foothills with my mother at one of the river parks run by the government agency that has dammed all the rivers. I took some infrared photographs, suffered from serious grassland allergies, enjoyed several albums of photographs of my grandparents that my father brought back from his visit to Ohio, fell asleep at 8:30 p.m., and then was up much of the night, unable to sleep, pondering how to prioritize my photography projects. (Did I mention glamour?) I even considered starting another blog, which tells you that I needed more sleep.


My father not only shared photographs of my grandparents, he also brought me back a camera: an old Kodak Duaflex II, a 1950s point & shoot for which Kodak made a proprietary 120 mm film (called 620) by simply using ordinary 120 film on an awkwardly small spool (grrrr). In addition, knowing that I intend on making a large format camera later this year, my father gave me his old Speed Graflex (which we haven't dated, but which is old), which uses sheet film holders and demonstrates how sheet film cameras work. Awkwardly, this means that I now own TWELVE cameras. That's right, me, Ms. It Isn't About The Equipment. Then again, many of my cameras are not currently in full operating condition, and some of the older ones (the Zeiss Ikon) I acquired recently. As of this trip, my father has given me 5 of my current cameras, the newest of which was from 1971 (my workhorse, the Nikon F). Depending on the age of the Graflex, my oldest camera may be the 1930s Zeiss Ikon from Steven.

And this is what my collection is like before I start building cameras. I have several planned. Both lensed and lensless.

Not that I'm obsessed or anything.


Yes, the new South Indian restaurant on Valencia is all that and a bag of chips.


Yes, you really must see Working Man's Death (, a film about some of the horrific, every-day working conditions in five locales around the world. The photography is great; the scenery ranges from horrific to oppressive to lovely-in-a-scary-way; and the long, long, long footage of the open air butcher's trading post should convert you to vegetarianism. You should convert to vegetarianism anyway: this will just make you start within a few minutes after you see the film. (The segment has given Steven nightmares, and was probably the only part of any film I've watched with him where he spent his time with his hand over his mouth.)


Working Man's Death was a logical follow up to a review of Sebastião Salgado's work, especially his brilliant book Workers, which may be one of the most impressive works of photojournalism ever in book form. Workers is a photo essay about the most extreme working conditions around the world, and the completely inhumane environments that people labor in just to eat, so that other people they will never meet can live in luxury. There are images in this book which are amazingly beautiful, yet which clearly represent hell on earth. It is a spectacular, thought-provoking book, which may make you completely re-evaluate the idea of "progress," considering how unevenly the costs of progress are distributed.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:12 PM

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


The absence of poppies in the poppy preserve.

Antelope Valley poppy reserve without poppies Here is a sample of the vistas of the high desert poppy reserve. I have enough of these to do a whole gallery from this trip... But I'm not sure if I should. Though the grass is pretty.

Did you notice the absence of poppies? We did.
posted by Arlene (Beth)7:07 PM

Monday, May 01, 2006


A better weekend.

This past weekend, Steven came in 15th overall and took a medal for 2nd place in his age group in the Hidden Valley Miler's 'Spring Has Sprung' 5k race ( More important than the medal, he improved his time over last year on the same course by a full minute. Yaaay, Steven!

He achieved this despite not getting to bed until after 3 a.m. You see, Quasi (, one of Steven's favorite bands, played Friday night at the Cafe Du Nord. The show had two opening acts, and ran from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. Shortly after 1 a.m., we got into the car and drove past Calistoga, up to Middletown and into its golf suburb, Hidden Valley Lake, where the race was scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. We got to bed after 3. We got up around 7.

Oh, do I feel old.

Anyway, he improved his time, though he looked like he was in agony when he crossed the finish line. If you traced the outline of his face, it would be a classical frowny face. It really would. But after about 10 minutes, he made a great recovery. And he was positively perky by the time he got a medal.

I have photographs, but they are not yet developed. They were taken with my new Oktomat, an 8-eyed time-lapse Lomo camera that Steven bought for me on Friday. I'm looking forward to seeing the results.

(Yes, I'll have to update my camera listing again. Oh, and my father is going to give me another antique camera he got from Grandpa's house, one that takes 620 film (!!), so I'll just wait until I can post both to my photo page.)

Steven's Hidden Valley Lake sister and brother-in-law kindly hosted us while we slept and ate our way through the rest of the day. Though we were tired, that was rather luxurious. (I threatened to return for similar treatment next weekend.) We got home at 10, and went right to sleep. You can imagine what we were like on Sunday.

posted by Arlene (Beth)10:43 PM


A difficult weekend.

infrared photograph of Joshua Tree at Ripley Desert Woodlands State Park The weekend of the 22nd was Steven's birthday weekend. We planned a trip to Southern California to see a play that he'd composed and recorded music for with a close friend of his. It was a long way to go, but we figured we could go visit a poppy preserve and make a weekend of it.

We rented a car, booked a cheap hotel, reserved tickets, and headed down there. We had a lovely dinner in Montrose at Divina Cucina, a very pleasant Italian restaurant. We went to the play.

The twelve songs that Steven and his friend had composed and recorded specifically for the play were not used. Not any of them.

For unexplained reasons, just two songs that Steven wrote and recorded on his own (separate from his friend, as part of a 23-song sampler they sent to the sound designer for the performance) were played, and the written credit for Steven's songs went solely to his friend. Another, traditional song they recorded (but didn't write) made it in. The balance of music played consisted of old pop tunes.

So, while the music specifically written for the play would have gone very well with the performance, it wasn't used. That was a disappointment.

Also, the acting in the play was just okay.

That was Saturday.


Sunday, trying to salvage the trip, we went to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve.

There were no poppies visible. The volunteer at the visitor center deemed this "a lousy year" for poppies; despite late rain, the few that were there were just done by this weekend. So we walked around, nearly had our skin blown off by the fierce winds, and made a fuss over the 3 dozen or so poppies we were able to spot buried within the pretty, long grass or in the
tumbleweed-filled creekbeds.

Then we left the reserve, and found a poppy field in bloom on private land, and frolicked there with all the other poppy-desperate tourists. But it wasn't a carpet. It wasn't astounding. It was just a consolation prize. (I'd post photos, but I don't want you to see how desperate I was.)


We also visited Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park, a lovely high desert forest. It is a remnant of the Joshua tree and juniper forest that once dominated that valley, before some genius instituted a mass-clearing project so the valley could be converted to olive orchards and dry-land wheat farming.

The olives and dry-land wheat failed utterly.

So the slow-growing, naturally-climate-adapted desert forest was replaced by hopelessly doomed crops that couldn't survive: most of the farms were abandoned, and the native plants can't grow back in land that was so completely cleared.


It's really gorgeous. The photo attached to this entry is an infrared view of the scenery, which is also nice in visible light. We had a lovely picnic at a sheltered bench surrounded by Joshua trees and junipers, and then took the small loop hike around the wood.


Then it was time to head home. We went north on Highway Five (what SoCal people call "the Five"). Along the way, it was shut down due to a very serious 3 car accident about 12 miles ahead of us. Shut down. As in, we could not leave, or drive forward at any speed. Everyone turned off their motors, people went for walks to the front of the line, and kids played on the hills beside the highway. We were completely stopped for more than 45 minutes.

Thankfully, we were stuck just _upwind_ of the cattle lot area.

We had a lovely dinner at Joe's Italian Restaurant in Gilroy on the way home, and Steven FINALLY got a good slice of cake, his first of the weekend.


So Steven spent most of his birthday weekend in the car with me. He was disappointed in the play, in the poppy reserve, in the long, slow drive home... And it wasn't until more than a day later that he realized he left his camera and all of his camera accessories (bag, memory cards, batteries, remote control, and all the images he'd taken during the trip) in an odd little compartment in the rental car. Which the rental agency promptly rented out, though the only way he learned this was physically driving back to the agency and demanding to see the car. (It's taken a week for customer service to return his call; they basically said that no one has actually looked in the compartment (or anywhere in the car) for the camera yet.)

So, good things: safe trip, great Italian food two nights in a row, pretty Joshua tree landscapes.

Bad things: everything else.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:12 PM

:: Make Work Pay | A Change To Win Campaign :: has a fun toy. On the right hand side of the page, there is a big Q, and the question "How long does it take a Top 500 CEO to earn your pay?" (They didn't want to say "Fortune 500," but you know what they mean.) And you put in your pay, hit the button...

And spend some time being amazed. In a bad way.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:59 PM

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