Adventures of a college grad in Oakland

Flee's journal of growing up, settling in, and making it work.

Jobs, Lights, Sites, and Houses

I realize it has been way too long since my last posting. This one has no pictures (but at least I’m writing something!).

Since I last posted, I took a gig as a night-time newspaper delivery girl. The pay isn’t spectacular, but it covers that spot each month where I feel tight. So its working out for me. Its down to just under an hour a night now that I know the route (except for Friday and Sunday mornings where I’ve got a longer list). So, on the other days of the week, I get up at 4:35am and deliver papers til 5:30am. Then I can go back for more sleep before work if I wish or, as is the case today, I can be uber productive for the rest of my morning. Do you realize how much a girl can accomplish between 5:30 and noon? Tons! Now that I’ve got my sleeping schedule worked out I don’t find the route the least bit taxing.

BUT I would like to take a detour for a mini-rant on house lights, house numbers, and contrast. First of all, if you read my blog and you do not have a house number…please take pity on the poor person who delivers your paper at night by the light of a small LED. Get one today. Nail it up now. If you already have a house number, use common sense. If your house is white, do not paint your numbers cream. That is invisible in the dark people. Finally, if you have a house light it should shine on the numbers, not out from behind them. I challenge you to stand on the sidewalk outside your place and read numbers while backlit. I bet you’ll have to walk all the way up your porch steps until you are directly under the numbers, craning your neck in an uncomfortable way while your dog all the sudden starts to bark, scaring the daylights out of you and simultaneously waking up the whole house. End rant.

I personally will be taking the house numbers matter into consideration in just a few weeks because I found a new house! Most of you have read my postings on my landlord’s foreclosure, and many of you have listened to me complain about relations with her going down the tubes fast. Well, I’ve officially had enough and also have found a great (read: better than here!) place to move into. My co-worker Lila will be my new housemate and we are both sooooo-per excited. September 13th is my official move out date here. Pics of the new place will come as they can.

While I’m doing new-ness, might as well go all out right? I finally went through the last proofing process of my business cards and I now have new, spiffy, large(r) print cards coming out my ears…thanks Dad! (I’m going to blatantly plug my dad here. He’s by far the best printer I know and has his own little shop in the garage with a really printing press and everything. He’s got affordable rates too. If you have a job needing printing, be in business cards, brochures, wedding invites, etc I’m happy to pass along his info!). Next new thing? My website! I have been slowly plugging away with my upgrade. It is taking much longer than expected because I thought I could merge my “student” site into my “professional” site and then make changes. Actually, I have to re-upload everything. Which means hours of digging through my harddrive, processing for web colors/contrast, and re-sizing. It’s intense. Its kind of up and running now although it isn’t technically “live”. Sneak peak for blog followers:   Feel free to give me comments and feedback but realize it is still very much a work in progress. And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, do not give this link out to strangers. Keep on using my old  It will eventually contain this new site.


A Toilet in the Desert

This weekend I made the long trek (ie 200 mile drive) from Oakland to Atascadero for some family time and some shooting time. The trip was orchestrated in large part as an opportunity for Carol to come along and add the California Midstate Fair to her list of fairs attended.

The weekend started with trouble and had additional problems come up throughout, but disaster was averted and the mini-roadtrip/photo expedition turned out marvelously. This blog entry reads a bit like a tour itinerary and for that I am incredibly sorry. But its late-ish and the past few weeks have been long and my blogging has been irregular, so I am just going with it. Something more linguistically interesting next post.

Friday started with a day of work for me and progressed into a belly ache for Qispi. It became messy, details will be glossed over but let me just say…who knew dogs could projectile vomit. Anyway, after clean up we picked up Carol and drove out. We made it to A-town around 10pm, just in time to catch the tail end of Dad’s night flight. He’s rigged his little planes up with strips of LED tape for a super cool effect.


Saturday was packed full of cameras (in total Carol and I were utilizing 9 for the weekend (of 3 film formats and 2 memory formats). First was breakfast with Grandpa Phil and Grandma Donna, next a visit with Grandma Pat. The photography and fun began with a trip to the beach. Qispi ran as usual. We made our way to the fair, shot our usual night photos even though we had both planned on straying to daytime subjects, and ate too much fair food (fried pickles, sweet potato fries, and funnel cake to be exact).

Sunday morning was meant to be an early departure for the Carizzo Plain (read: desert). Instead it was an early departure to the toilet, where I got to be the one who did the vomiting. See paragraph above re: fair food. Eventually, purged of fried toxins and feeling much better, we loaded into the Jeep. Highlights of the trip were: fishheads on the side of the road, a rusty bicycle, Carol’s reaction to the idea of shooting in snake country, and me dragging my toilet into the lake for a shoot. The un-edited best from that series are here, with my probably first pick starting things off.

Sunburned, muddy, stinky, and slightly heat-stroked, Carol and I made our appearance at Sunday dinner at Grandma Pat’s before hitting the road for the return. This also involved tummy distress for my poor pup. She managed to poop herself and Carol, and be the most surprised by the action. By 1am she was tucked into bed and snoring and is now gnawing on a bunch of goat.

Haircut Day (again!)

A few days ago I was inspired to cut off more of my hair. Today after work I rushed to Piedmont to Crissy’s Cuts and Colors to do it! Crissy called this Run Lola Run meets Tank Girl meets 5th Element meets feminine. I like it (although I almost wish it was shorter…)

The Death of Nugget

For those of you following my blog, you know I have recently become the caretaker of a homeless chicken. For two days she lived in my bathroom, creating a big smelly mess in my home but appearing quite content shoved up against my window or roosting on my sink. She was then relocated to a large dog kennel in my yard while I gathered supplies and sketched designs for a fancy yet budget chicken coop. My co-workers and I named her Nugget.

Two nights ago Karen and I bought her some hay for bedding and picked up a carton of 100 meal worms. She went nuts over the worms. Karen wanted to keep feeding her worms. I said we should stop so she didn’t get sick off eating too many worms.

Through unfortunate circumstances, Georgia (my neighbor’s husky) and Nugget met yesterday. While Georgia did not do any visual physical damage, Nugget spent the morning in a severe state of shock from which she did not recover. Karen and I buried her deep in my backyard last night by the light of my headlights.

The moral: eat all the worms today, you may not be here tomorrow.

Rest in peace with dreams of wormy delight little Nugget.

There is a chicken in my bathroom.

This title in not a joke, it is not a metaphor or a play on words. Its a true statement of life at this moment. It is a Monday evening 10:52pm and I have a chicken locked up in my bathroom.

Here’s how it happened:

My co-worker Karen called this morning to say there was a chicken wandering around in her neighborhood. She and a neighbor caught the chicken and temporarily tied its foot to a parked car. This is the point where I came in. They were unsure of what to do with the chicken and Karen had an appointment to get to.  No chicken deserves to be homeless on the streets of Oakland. I told Karen to drop her off in my bathroom (I was at work). My idea was to use networking powers to get the little lady into a flock in a couple days.

But now I’m thinking, why not keep her? I’ve always wanted my own backyard chickens. They are fairly low maintenance pets, once you have a coop and a routine. I have always been a believer in the universe giving you what you need when you need it. So maybe right now I need a chicken.

The way I figure its a low risk situation. Cathy said she could take her if things don’t work out, which would require a trip to Atascadero if I can’t find a local home. So, I build a coop, see how it goes. If all is well, and I am able to find a chicken-ok new abode when I get foreclosed, I’ll keep on keeping her. If its rough or if I can’t find a new yard to put her in when I move, I’ll pass her off to Cathy or to someone else. Really, what is the difference if I find her a home now or in a month?

So– chicken hipstership, here I come! I’ve spent my evening reading up and I think I can give it a go. Zoning laws in Oakland say no roosters, and no coops within 20 feet of a dwelling or church. I think I’ve found a good legal spot in my yard. Tonight, she ate a random meal of things found in my home. Chicken food is fairly cheap though, I just have to find a feed store. I’ve looked at some coops and think I can make one myself for next to nothing with supplies on hand and treasures from Urban Ore. I read about the pros and cons of different coop flooring and decided mine should be river sand. I signed up for the forum on to post some pictures and ask some questions regarding any possible need for medical treatment. I feel like this is something I can take on. Now my lady needs a name.

There’s a chicken in my bathroom…woot!

There she is perched on my sink. The lighter spot on her back is unfortunately a featherless area. Hopefully they will grow back.

As I had not prepared a chicken menu for dinner tonight, she had a little bit of everything. Some chard, arugula, pea shoots, watermelon, driveway berries, banana, sunflower seeds, cabbage, wheatberries, queso fresco, flax, stale bread, and carrots.

Love and Vows

Yesterday I assisted Erich at the wedding of Mollie Gardner and Bill Hector in Sonoma. It was 100 degrees outside. The wedding was outside. I was in slacks and a long sleeved button up. It was very hot.

The wedding took place on a gorgeous piece of land, had excellent catering and air conditioned outhouses, was attended by about 200 guests, and had one of the largest wedding parties I’ve seen so far. They roasted a whole pig, had a videographer, photography, second shooter, and photographer’s assistant (me!). It was pretty darn classy.

The details of the wedding location (ie, the home of the bride’s parents) were gorgeous. I would love to steal this idea for a staircase someday.

The meat in all the food was pork (remember the whole roasted pig I mentioned above). It was all good, even to me and I rarely consume pork.

The reception was in a big open, oak covered area.

  The bride wore crazy bright shoes……while the groom and groomsmen wore stripper socks.

The flowergirl was very cute, but wanted always to be barefoot.

Her grandma kept her busy on the iPad.

And everyone else gave her lots of attention.

The bride was very nervous in the beginning but relaxed when all the speaking parts were through.

Most of the guests were interesting and dignified looking and many sported great hats.

Her maid of honor and younger sister, Bessie, made a nice picture herself.

The groomsmen and bridesmaids were all good looking, which made for easy shooting.

The backdrop to the ceremony was beautiful.

The wedding party was enthusiastic.

The details were simple.

And the roses wilted but photogenic.

Not too bad for a Saturday afternoon.

Independence, Friends, Food, and Sparklers

Yesterday I celebrated Qispi (her name does mean Freedom after all!). We had extra snuggles and treats and lots of one on one time in the morning. Then the day began!

I am very happy to report that all four of my canine charges made it through another 4th of July without much stress. Georgia nibbled just about every food at our BBQ I think. Qispi spent lots of time in her seat, including some seat time shared with 3-year old Timothy. Juan and Frieda spent most of the celebration watching from behind the safe bars of the kennel. When the hubub died down, they got to come out and be the cute little weird dogs they are.

After some pie making and some cleaning…folks began to arrive.

The BBQ was a great success, with 21 friends in attendance. Many of my friends have nicer houses with ‘real’ yards and large kitchens etc. Some how the gathering is always at my tiny, abbreviated place or in my odd, concrete yard. After checking the RSVP list in the morning, I made a call for chairs and managed to scrape together almost enough. I set them out in a roomy circle (think group therapy) in aforementioned concrete yard. Where did everyone end up for most of the night? Squished into my kitchen. And where did they go after that? In the yard to stand around!

Many cameras were present, including a few Holgas, an old peel apart Polaroid, Nikon and Canon DSLRs, Carol’s Olympus, and a few more I didn’t take tally of. Needless to say, photos were taken. Just mostly not by me so photos here today are scarce. There was much food to be had including: BBQ corn on the cob (wiped down with lime, salt, cayenne, and paprika), sausages (at least 40 on my count!), shrimp kabobs, enchiladas, carne asada, blue cheese cole slaw, driveway berry pie, cookies (gluten free and standard), beet salad, and other yummies that are too many to mention. I now have a full full fridge. Too bad most of the left overs are alcohol…that will be there a while (like probably til Thanksgiving or my Foreclosure party, whichever comes first).

Our intention had been to wrap up the night with a movie projected onto my garage door while sitting around my chiminea fire. It has to be pretty late to get that dark in California in July. So we skipped the movie. But we did do sparklers!


I’ve been trying to be harder on myself about wading through my photos in a timely fashion and also getting some of my backlog under control.

This serves 3 purposes…

1) keeps my newly spiffed up Macky in tiptop shape.

2) makes it easier for me to finally upgrade to the professional version of my website (my excuse has been that I want to come out with a bang and all cool new stuff. Instead I just haven’t done it).

3) it allows me to get my shots out into the world more quickly, to the end of selling more photos and making life a little bitty bit easier. To that end, I want to remind everyone that basically everything have ever shot is always for sale. Custom orders preferred!

On that note: randomness.

I couple months ago I picked up a weekend gig assisting with an event co-sponsored by Popular Photography Magazine and Sony. In addition to the cash, I had the added perk of popping off a few shots of the models there for their shoot. The best shots follow.

I started a project before I left Peru, kept it up a while then gave up. I realized looking at the photos gave me a headache. Here are my best 3 photos from How Things Look Without My Specs:

Pig Racing, Wool Riding, and Foster Kiddos

Three creature-related, possibly animal-cruelty, topics from this weekend.

1) Pig Racing. My next pet will be a pig. They are so kissable!

2) Wool Riding. How this sport works…place a child ages 4-7 (and under 60 lbs) on the back of a sheep and see what happens. Similar to rodeo, the kid must hang on as long as possible. Prize: a ribbon. Wow.

3) Two tiny Xolo doggies needing a home. Juan and Frieda are staying with me as foster doggies until the Hairless Rescue can place them with a new family. They are cute! They are terrified. They need publicity!

On the Future, Forgetfulness, and Pride

On “The Future”:

I spent most of Friday, into the wee hours of Saturday, accomplishing the incredible task of stepping into the computing future at last. After a couple of years of dragging my feet, I was finally forced to upgrade my operating system by way of a corrupt and important program. Of course I’ve accomplished this just before The Future becomes The Past and Apple releases another kitty system, Mountain Lion. Still, this was a big deal.

What it consisted of: Running Time Machine for the first time in months. Doing an additional backup of all the important stuff (music, photos, user data, etc etc) independent of Time Machine. Researching my purchased programs and making sure all of them will still work on Lion. Doing a re-install of my current OS (Leopard) to fix the corrupt program (problem solved! Yay for recognizing iPhones and cameras again!). Updating Leopard to the last possible version, then installing Snow Leopard on top of it. Updating that to the latest possible version and the finally getting to actually install Lion.

Sadly, stepping into the future involved more work after I finally got the coveted software onto Little Old Macky. I still needed to update Lion and all the various programs I run (this included a support call with Adobe, a re-install and slightly sketchy downloaded update of Lightroom, a trial version of Photoshop as I still have some problems there, and a trip to the Genius Bar regarding my email program).  Now here I am blogging my first entry in The Future…woot woot!!

On Forgetfulness:

Neighbor Nikki, thanks for the wonderful reminder to keep my stupidly expensive, morally questionable, time sucking device (aka iPhone) in sight at all times. I am on my third iPhone since I started 14 months ago, but I still have not caught up to you.

On Pride:

Carol and I ventured out to San Francisco for the Dyke March and our share of the Pride festivities for 2012. We people watched and milled about, marched the whole thing (damn cute blister causing heel-y shoes!), took lots of photos, got very little action (two single ladies should wear matching t-shirts that say “I’m not with her –>” to prevent the confusion we got), met up with Nikki and Silvia for perhaps too many shots, then headed home early (upon which aforementioned iPhone misplacement occurred).

Photos of the whole mess of it follow. Apologies for the overuse of Instagram effects here, I finally decided to join up today so I could see Nate’s bachelor photos! (If you are offended by blatant stereotyping and generalizing (or nudity, or gay people) this is the part where you stop reading)…

Look at all those gay folks marchin’

Gay Pride is a Spectator Sport

Even in a lesbian parade you can find pervs who just want to see boobies

And people who willingly comply

There are mildly frightening feminist lesbians

Adorable, classy lesbians

Lesbians named Carol

Lesbians on a quest

Fashionable lesbians

Men in various stages of (un)dress


Kids learning how things go



And gay dogs