Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Old Dogs and Toys by Morris

Sometimes it is hard just to keep things going around here.

I have to make sure that my toys are spread just right across the living room floor. And to make everything better, the toys must be tossed artfully in front of the Christmas Chair.
I swing the hedgehogs and my Angrybird as hard as I can.

Don't you think it is artful?

I do.
She doesn't. Today she pursed her lips and shook her head at me. She called me an old fool and a couple of other names. She should talk, she's getting up there in the years too.

So what, I'm getting to be an aged dog. This only means that I play very hard and just take longer naps.
Preferably in the sunlight on the floor.
I rest my case.
And my eyes.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Let it snow


The weather people predicted a significant snow fall for us starting at midnight on Sunday. Indeed it did snow!
Since this was the first real snowfall of the season, I was excited to take that first snowfall hike.

I grabbed my camera backpack, a plastic bag, some paper towels, and my gun belt. Morris started running circles around me in the house. I hadn't taken him the day before and he wasn't letting me out of the house without him again.

I decided that since the snow was so wet and heavy I'd best take my little pink pocket camera. The Pink Fugly camera that never dies. I stuffed it in my pocket and Morris beat me to the door.

At the top of the lane we stopped to check on the Dexter's water tank. It was full. Beauty and Buster came up to the fence line to stare at us. The other Dexters were laying on their old pile of hay chewing their cud. 

Morris ran ahead leaping and going from one place to another acting as if he were a puppy instead of a nearly 13 year old dog.  I think he loves the snow as much as I do.

We got to the creek and then hiked to the place I'd stacked some rocks on the day before.

I took a photo and we explored some more. I wasn't that surprised that there weren't many new animals tracks in the snow. They wouldn't be out until after the storm had ended.

The snow was coming down so hard I had to be careful with my Olympus OMD E5. The camera is one of the first mirrorless cameras made by Olympus and it is supposed to be weather resistant. However, I wasn't sure how far I wanted to push that.

It still got fairly wet, but I had a cloth to wipe it off after using it each time.

I managed to get a few shots of the fresh snow falling before I decided to put it away safely in the backpack.

The pink camera then took over.
Before we left the creek, Morris and I climbed an old Basswood tree that lays across the creek. The view is more interesting from 10 feet above the ground.

The fresh snow made the climb more interesting. Morris is better suited to climbing in slippery conditions than I am.

Both Morris and I were soaking wet by the time we made it home. The snow was still coming down fairly hard.
I had a text on my phone asking me if I wanted to try out the cross country skis.

Of course! And off I went again after I dried my coveralls in the dryer.

Morris curled up on the couch and didn't flick an ear when I got ready. He probably was enjoying the fact that I'd covered him up with a sweatshirt that was nice and warm that was fresh out of the dryer.



We sure did enjoy the skiing. We had to quit due to the fact that the temperatures crawled up a bit and our skis kept 'clumping' up with snow.

I probably shouldn't have been so excited about the snow. My husband acted as if he was horrified at it.
However funny thing...
He was not horrified at being able to use his 'upgraded' skid steer with a cabin and a heater and a ... new/used plow that hooked up to his hydraulics.

He managed to make sure that it was right at chore time. Sigh. 
I guess we both enjoyed our first snow day!



Sunday, December 04, 2016

Something different. Stick Bouquets?

When I went to the grocery store the other day I stopped and looked at some Christmas decorations that the florist had.
They was a huge variety of things.
Little plastic trees that lit up and changed colors. Charlie Brown Trees, and a beautiful glass vase of sticks. 
Sticks.
Sticks that had glitter and snow puffs on them.
$15 for sticks.

I stood looking at the 'sticks' and something clicked in the back of my puny little brain. 
I could do that. I could do that and one better and I could do it for free.

When I got home I dug in the recycle bin and found two tomato sauce jars. I soaked the lids off and spray painted one of them. It really turned out ugly. But I like a challenge.

I went outside and walked to the edge of the yard and woods. I snagged some branches from different trees.
I found a sparkly snow flake and hot glued it to cover up the paint mess. I used silver glitter glue to make gobs of 'snow' on the sticks. And because I intended to give this to my neighbor just for fun, I added some fake jewels to the side of the jar.

After all, you can't just get a glue gun out and not do much gluing.

Something was missing from the bouquets. 
I recall walking with my mom and grandmother to find milkweed pods and 'nobbin' knockers to make a winter bouquet. I think Grandma painted her stems and the milkweed pods to add color and Christmas cheer.

I had an "ahah" moment. I needed to go find some wild things. I donned on my winter coveralls, a hat and gloves...camera bag, nippers, and off Morris and I went. We hit paydirt in the middle of a huge cornfield.
Back home I sorted things out.

Then...I got out the glitter glue again and put some sparkles into the fox tail grass and the other items. Just enough to catch some light but not too much.


This is where I am at right now. I'm a bit undecided about what I'm going to do next. 

I'm going to leave the stick decorations on the kitchen window sill as they are. They are simple. I took some mini tree decorations I had laying around and put them in the bottom of the vases.

I hung soft glittery snow flakes on them and called it good.


Saturday, December 03, 2016

The Christmas Chair ~ how I do it.

Here is how it all starts. In 2014 I thought I'd try something a bit different. The same old Christmas tree was boring. I wandered about the old shed looking for something when I spied this old chair.
It had been painted several times and at one point I'd even thought about fixing the crack in the seat and maybe stripping it and repainting it.

This time I looked at it differently. The layers of paint, the scrape marks, and the fact that it didn't sit quite straight made it a perfect candidate for something.
I cleaned it up and brought it in the house. And thus the Christmas chair was born.

I had/have a very tiny house. Most years I shoved my cheap little tree up against the wall and only decorated the front half of it.

Step 1. Put out the chair. Simple and easy.
Step 2. Take an old round vinyl table cloth and use it as a skirt. It also covers up the gas pipe that comes into the house to the heater.
Step 3. Make sure that Morris supervises. Oh and take time to set out the dinosaur toys. I don't know why, but I thought they should be part of it. Place the tree next to the chair.
Step 4. Add some garland to the chair and start fitting branches onto the tree. Don't cover up the chair. I make this up as I go...
Step 5. This year I used the leftover branches from the partial tree to fill in the gaps.
Step 6. Toss in some boxes. The top item is the kitchen junk drawer from the original kitchen in the house. It is sitting on a bolts box I found in the dirt in the little shed.
Step 7. Take time out for some tea and play with the dinosaurs.
Step 8. It is out of order. But you can see the old vinyl table cloth and the old white rug that I set out to be a tree 'skirt' and box border.

Next sort out the lights. Of course I didn't have the lights I wanted. So I put the red string on the tree and used a white string around the boxes.

Things looked sort of okay as I started to add ornaments and hand made toys. But the lighting wasn't right.

However the bright new light colored wood on the wall is fantastic. The small room feels so much more cheery.

A quick reminder of what this section of the old house looked like...
Yuck.

Anyway here is a view of the living room with the tree from the stairs.
Pardon the Jack Russell toys that Morris left out.

The carpeting will be removed next year and the floor will be replaced. But for this winter this is it!

Here is the tree. Yes I added some more lights to make it cheery.
In case you haven't noticed, I like horse ornaments and teddy bears. These bears I made quite a few years ago. The pine cones were picked up out of the yard and painted and touched up with glitter glue.

On the chair is a carousel horse and an aluminum horse bit. I also save the unique gift labels that my daughter in law makes and add them to my collection.

Below are two of my horse ornaments I have collected from Westland Giftware.


And that is it! The Christmas Chair is up.
I'll be rearranging everything constantly. It just suits me to do so.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Why we do we decorate for the Holidays?

November is nearly over. And here comes the Brown Icky Dreary Season.
The clouds are low and grey, last night it rained nearly one and a half inches. The rains pelted the house and blew in from the north and east.

From down in our little hollow we can hear the winds whipping this morning through the bare branches on the ridge. It sounds a bit ghostly. A mist or fog is moving in to make things look even more dreary.
This would be a good day to stay indoors and read a book. Or nap.

Yesterday started out wonderful. The frost came off the land in a beautiful fog. The sun peeked into our hollow and shone brightly. It was warm, it was nice.


This is a view of our place yesterday afternoon after I'd walked up to the neighbor's and checked on their chickens and goats. 
I also walked their dog Dexter.
I am startled by the difference in the remodel and I am not used to seeing it this way yet.

Our porch lights will light up the hollow in the night and can be seen from the ridge now that the leaves are down.
Today though it is yuck. Super Yuck. The sort of day that you want to pretend is over.

So I started to get out some Christmas Decorations. Rich walked into the house and saw some bags of decorations next to his computer desk.

"Decorating already?" He wondered.
"Well, thinking about it." 

I know why people decorate in our neck of the woods right after Thanksgiving. The gloomy days set in and a person has to have something to brighten their days.

No one else really comes to the house and enjoys our decorations. Our Christmas Eve and Day are generally spent with just ourselves or we go visit Rich's mom so she won't be alone.
I don't mind really.

I went out and got the Christmas Chair. The horrid ugly chair that I found buried in the garage a few years ago. It needs refinishing, gluing, and ... well. It should be just tossed out into the rubbish pile.

But. I like to take ugly things and pretty them up.

It will be interesting to see what I come up with this year. I try not to let any two years be the same.
Well, except for the ugly chair.

Let the fog/mist/rain/grey/dreary stuff roll in. Deer hunting is over, the blaze orange can be put away. The fall decorations can be stashed.

It's time to decorate and brighten the indoors up.

Stay tuned. The broken down chair will be transformed again this year.

And just in case you didn't know. I love to take Still Life shots of the decorations.










Saturday, November 26, 2016

Things I am learning about Still Life Photography


I really thought I disliked Still Life photography.
In fact I knew that I did not like it.
I would be terrible at it. I'd suck at it.
I wouldn't know what to do with it.
I didn't have the patience for it.
I didn't have the cameras for it.
I liked the outdoors, I was a nature person...

However. When the bleak November skies are dreary. Sometimes a bit of indoor photography is a good alternative.

I don't know what I'll do with some of these shots, but they were fun to 'make'.

I set white painted boards down, and tossed some scrap clothes along with beads, fake jewelry, and a doily that I picked up at the Flea Market. I used a page from my grandmother's daily diary and an old photo of my father in law and his family taken...well, when he was little.

Elliott's book keeps finding its way into my photos. I find the entries pretty interesting.

Then of course, I have to do a bit of silliness.
An old wooden crate, some toy soldiers my youngest son left years ago, and toy dinosaurs.

The real challenge would have been to get them all in focus with some focus stacking.

Then I went back to a favorite of mine that had been packed away for nearly a year. The salt and pepper shaker donkey.


I used a bit of High Key style editing and was pleased.

There is a strange side effect to doing Still Life. You find yourself looking at a scrape of ribbon or cloth and wondering if it would look good in a shot. So you save it.
You find a coffee cup at the flea market with chips and cracks and think, "Wow, this would look neat if I..." and you purchase it with other pieces of "junk".

Slowly your collection of stuff accumulates.
An old lace table cloth.
Ribbons.
Toys.
Cups not fit for drinking out of, and some that are.
Glass bits.
Fake jewelry.
White boards.
Crates. Wood chunks.

Your husband wanders by and watches you set up a tea party with stuffed animals and shakes his head as he walks by.
He is sure that you are certifiably nuts.


And perhaps you are.
Nuts over Still Life.


Friday, November 25, 2016

The Day After Thanksgiving

And all through the house...

Oh wait that is something else, that Christmas poem, The Night Before Christmas.

Okay um, wait,...it was the day after Thanksgiving. Smacks forehead and reaches for a cup of coffee. Whoops, tea this time of night!
~~~~~~~~~~

The day after Thanksgiving, chores had to be done just like we do all of the time.

Round bales were put out by hubby and I manned the gates.

Our neighbors are gone for a family get together so I said I'd happily do their chores also.

The goats were so happy to see me.
These are the Nigerian Dwarf goats. Oh I can't recall their names but they are charming anyway.
All four goats greet me with calls of "ma...aaaamaaaa" as I come in to give them grain and let them out to their pasture.

I can remember one goat's name. Sedona. She used to wear a blue collar. Now I can't recall which one she is.

No matter, they were all pleased.

Our weather has been very mild again which feels quite odd. Normally by now we've had at least one or two significant snows.

Next were the chickens. 

I spread some feed out for them in the driveway. There sure was a lot of clucking going on. I checked the nesting boxes and they were full of hens doing their thing.

I thought I'd walk Dexter and see if I could collect eggs after we were done.
Dexter is a pug mix of something. He was pretty lonely the first day his family was gone. But by last night he was sure happy to go for a stroll and enjoy some attention.

This morning we took a fairly nice walk on the road. It is still hunting season and blaze orange is the hip thing to wear.


So, I guess Dexter is pretty hip.

For the past two days my husband and his daughter have been processing two deer that my husband 'harvested' for this season. I suppose there are those who dislike the deer hunt but I will welcome venison in my freezer instead of venison on my car hood any day.

Two deer meant that both households could have a freezer full of meat for the winter. I'd say it was worth it.

After The Dexter Dog Walk, I checked on the cats and checked to make sure everything was okay in the house. 

Well. 
The hens were done doing their thing and I collected a dozen eggs. I'd made scrambled eggs yesterday for the kids and thought I'd make scrambled omelettes today for Rich and I.

Jeeze, I know that omelettes aren't supposed to be scrambled, but that is the easiest way of cooking eggs. What can I say?

I worked on cleaning up the house. Angel the Beagle had visited with Morris for two days too. Morris is sort of okay with Angel. But he is sure that the grand kids belong to him and not to Angel.

Our day was rather dreary and Rich was rather tired after spending two days on his feet. He went for a nice long nap and I took my camera and went to the Dexter Cattle's summer pasture.

You never know how crazy a person can get when they are stuck in the house for an entire 'gun season'. 
So I thought I'd have a bit of fun.
Who thought 'selfie' would be this?

This weekend I may get out the Christmas Chair and work on it.

Or, who knows?