Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review of Topaz BW Effects

Topaz has just come out with Topaz B&W Effects Plug in . Below is a quick edit using the Presets in the Traditional Collection.

There are many fine tuning sliders that will assist you along with presets under each of the Effects.
On the right hand side of the working window, there are even more ways to adjust your image:
Creative Effects
Local Adjustments
Finishing Touches

I did this B&W using just the basics.

Original Photo:

Thank you Topaz for coming out with this new plug in!

Topaz BW Effects is fun, is awesome.

Topaz Sepia

I used a bit of the 'burn' brush across the top of the clouds. This is found in the left panel under Local Adjustments.

I really liked the Sepia look so I decided to get a bit more creative with it. I went back into the BW Effects and retraced my efforts in creating the above Sepia picture.

Snapshot of the BW Effects working space:
It is hard to see here, but I'd chosen Toned Collection here and dropped to presets and used *Sepia I*.
Next I went to the Adjustment panel on the right.
Under Conversion, I changed the Adaptive Exposure.
Then I dropped to Creative Effects and chose Diffusion. I moved the sliders about until I got the effect ~~ a pseudo Orton Effect on the image...then hit the OK button.

This is the result with Diffusion:

Topaz B&W Effects however adds many presets and effects than can really change the appearance of the photo.
You can go wild, or you can go strictly photographic.

This one was done using the Stylized Collection, Preset of Graphic Dreams.

It truly is a fun plug in to explore and the introductory price isn't too shabby either.

It only took me about 5 minutes of playing with this to decide that I needed to add it to my collection of Topaz Plug ins.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

How To Get Your Sink Fixed ... Plumbing Ideas...

To understand this whole post you must go and read Why You Must Eat Ice Cream first...
this really explains what I am about to tell you.

Today is August 28th.
I first reported this plumbing issue to my husband on May 2nd.
You do the math.

Last week hubby takes another look at the leak under the sink and decides that it is the result of an old faucet. The 'something or another' has gone bad and that is causing the leak.

Day one.
Check out the faucet and let it sit for a few days.
I think perhaps the faucet has to absorb the news that soon it will be HISTORY!
But we don't want to hurt its feelings and remove it too fast.
Day Two.
New Faucet is in hand. Wife is happy.
Hubby is still analyzing the issue.

Wife takes all the items out from under the sink and makes sure hubby has plenty of room to work.

She even moves ALL the 'under the sink' items to the middle of the living room floor so everyone has to walk around it...
she slyly makes sure that it is even in the way!

Day 5.
Wife is now used to brushing her teeth in the kitchen.
Hubby proclaims that indeed it is the faucet, trips over 'stuff' in the living room.
The dog tosses his toys in the 'stuff' on the floor and knocks over baby powder.

Day 6.
Hubby pronounces that it is the connection thingy under the sink that is leaking. Turns off hot water so it won't leak. Says we need a gasket thing or something.

Wife brushes teeth and washes face in the kitchen, while gritting her teeth, of course.
Dog tosses his Hedgehog toy into the 'stuff' pile and knocks over the Comet Cleanser.
Wife smiles,... of course the carpet needed vacuuming and she is so grateful to dog.

Day 7.
The gasket thingies show up on the sink.
Wife wonders where in the heck does hubby find this stuff.
Hubby answers with glee... the stuff ..
in the garage of course.
Dog tosses rope toy into 'stuff' and tips over Noxzema bottle.

Day 8.
Faucet is fixed!
There is still a leak under the sink.
Hubby says the gasket thingies are replaced and proudly places...
a Gustafson's Ice Cream bucket back under the leak.
Wife gives Dog evil eye and dog does not play with his toys.
Wife merrily brushes her teeth in the kitchen before going to work.

Day 9.
Wife comes home.
Stares at dog and pile of 'stuff' in the middle of the floor.
Hubby smiles and proudly produces a wrench to fix the leak in the pipes under the sink.

Wife watches with interest.
Hubby does the 'leak' test.

Hubby pronounces that perhaps he has fixed the leak.

Wife smiles.

Maybe the ice cream bucket can be removed soon.
she can brush her teeth in the bathroom again.

...and maybe she can put the 'stuff' away and avoid more dog-toy accidents!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Trip to the Secret Morris

I was watchin' her.
Careful eye barely open..., while holdin' down the couch.

Okay, laugh....

holdin' down the couch may not be an important job you think...but you ought to know that there was an earthquake in Virginia today.
SHE says that is where her brother lives.

HE has
Enough about that.

Anyway so I was figuring in case there was some sort of after shock in the Midwest, I ought to nap on the couch and weight it down.
You see?

Well, SHE got on her pistol and grabbed the backpack that has cameras in it. I knew awful sudden like that
the couch would just have to be

I was goin' on an adventure with HER. I ran in circles until I nearly tripped her.
That got her attention very nicely.
cussed at me.
Out the door I sprinted and then spun around to make sure SHE was coming.
Oh there were so many things to 'mark' and sniff.
It was glorious.
It was also pretty darned hot.

I ran ahead of her on the trail and headed down towards the creek where I knew the water would be cold and would taste delicious.
If I got far enough ahead of HER I could find something disgusting to roll in before SHE saw.

We spent a lot of time down in the Creek.
SHE sat on a rock in a spot SHE calls 'HER secret place'.
SHE says it is a place where cell phones don't work, where the only sounds are the creek and the wind [plus the birds]...

a place where she can close her eyes and just relax and not think of anything important.

SHE told me that everyone needs a 'Secret Place' where they can go to for a little escape every now and again.

Oh don't get me wrong, I like the 'Secret Place' all right.
But when we got back, I was pretty wore out.

I had to get back to the hard business of 'holding' the couch down.
I'm not sure what my 12 pounds will do to help out...but you know...every
dog needs an important job.

Earning Trust

When we got Opal years ago, she was a 'dysfunctional' mule.
Simply put, she hated people.
She distrusted them.
Any person.

Yet once caught, she was an exceptional ride.
She reined and spun on a dime.
She could do barrels, poles, and cut cattle.

She was 'hot', always ready to burst out and go hard.
She'd climb anything you pointed her at.
The perfect mule.
Except you could not catch her, she was terribly ear-shy, and know the rest.
Last night I caught her.
I simply walked out and called her name.

She walked up to me.
I saddled her and we went for an evening ride.
When I put her back in the Meadow, she simply stood by the gate.

I walked away and then turned back.
Would she?
I went through the gate and she came to me.
I rubbed her head, stroked her poll and ears. I gave her a good thorough ear rubbing.
She groaned and leaned forward.

I ran my hands all over her.
She sighed.

I finally had to tell her good-bye as the light was fading.
She stood and watched me.

I had earned her trust?

Thank you Opal for letting me earn my way into your heart and for giving people ... one person, a second chance.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A walk with friends

Tonight I went out to the 'Merry Meadow'...[sorry folks, but my Grand daughter Ariel came up with that name and by goodness, it sure has stuck! Thank you so MUCH Ariel!]...

I just wanted to check on Opal and Badger who are out with the jennet donkeys.

Morris and I stood near the fence in the meadow. I called out to Badger and Opal.
I hadn't touched Opal since our ride on the 16th.

I was wondering if she'd actually come to me ... or fall back on her old ways of being dodgy and wild.

To my utter surprise she followed Badger and walked right up to me. No snort, or hesitation at all on her part.

As a test, I just reached out and began to rub her head between her eyes and up over her ears.
[Normally, you have to offer the back of your hand and let her smell it ... she will back off and then come forward after a snort or two.]

She just leaned into my hand.
My other hand was busy rubbing Badger on the nose.

Morris trotted around the two mules panting and looking happy.

I turned and checked Badger's respiration rate and did a pulse check. It isn't the best, but he's gained a tad bit of weight and seems quite content to graze and not work at all.

To my surprise Opal moved closer in to me and nudged my hand with her nose.
If I'd had false teeth, they would have fallen out of my mouth.

I petted her on the neck and headed back towards the gate.
On my right, Badger 'heeled' to my shoulder.
On my left, Opal 'heeled' to my other shoulder.

If I stepped slightly in one direction or another, they both maintained position.
I wanted to laugh.

Morris ran circles.
I wanted to shout out to the world about how Opal was now my friend.

Instead of shouting, I went through the gate and did a 'happy dance' all the way back to the house.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Persistance, Patience, Kindness = Success

So the big day came.
Opal had been released into the 'Merry Meadow' with the donkeys and a young mule.

My husband said I'd never catch her out in the meadow.
NOT with a lead rope on my shoulder..nope

I had the 'secret weapon' in my pocket, in fact I had two of them.
Horse cookies.
Kindness, persistence, building trust, catching, and repeated daily contact was now going to be tested.

I laid the bright red rope on my shoulder and stepped into the pasture.
Off in the distance her ears perked up and she made a bee line for me.

I showed her the cookie.
She smelled it. Backed away.
I held the cookie out again.
She stepped up.
I kept the 'secret weapon' in my hand as I stroked her head and ears. Then I showed her the lead rope and attached it.

She munched happily on the cookie.

We saddled up and went for a cruise.
Funny how she acted like Badger, just dogging along looking around and being gentle and quiet.
Not the racey fired up mule my husband rode.
A quiet content mule.
I got off several times to take photos with my fugly pink camera.

I even sat on a stump and discussed life with her.
She seemed not to mind at all, especially if she was allowed to graze.

We wandered PeeWee's land and stopped to gaze down into 'the cave'. We stopped and watched water in the creek below while standing on 'MaidenHair Fern' Trail.
She was happy with me, content with my company.
I felt safe with her.

She even let me hug her.

As the evening set in on the ridge, I took her back to the Meadow and released her...
offering the second 'Horse Cookie' as reward and a reminder.

She stood close to me and when Eddie the donkey tried to come around and push her away, she laid her ears back and swung a foot at him.

I'd won.
Opal now liked a human.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Storm Comin'...

When that storm comes don’t run for cover
When that storm comes don’t run for cover
When that storm comes don’t run for cover
Don’t run from the coming storm
No their aint no use in runnin

When that rain falls, let it wash away
When that rain falls, let it wash away
When that rain falls, let it wash away
Let it wash away that fallin rain the tears and the trouble

When those lights flash hear that thunder roll
When those lights flash hear that thunder roll
When those lights flash hear that thunder roll
When you listen to that thunder roar, let your spirit soar

Wailin' Jennys~Storm Comin' Lyrics

Tainter Hollow

After losing TS I was pretty 'bummed' out to say the least.
A farm animal shouldn't affect you this way correct?
Well it did.
I guess I have a place in my heart for animals.

So to get my mind off from TS, I decided to take the afternoon and hunt up some beautiful sights and see what I could find through my camera lens.

I went down the backroads of Solverson, Tainter Hollow, Tainter Road, Tainter Road West, and East.

You should be.
Tainter Hollow is probably the world's best kept secret, and I'd like it to stay that way.
Tainter Creek West and East empty into the Kickapoo River.

But both 'Creeks' are beautiful on their own.

The Bluffs near and around are incredible and never cease to amaze me.
I always have to stop to take a photo...

Then there was the bridge.
I was able to sit under the tiny bridge and take photos without hearing one car pass my way in over an hour.

All was quiet when I sat on the rocks and watched the water rush over the rocks on yet another Tainter 'creek' runoff.

It clearly was music to my ears and heart.

I was gone for 3 hours and never saw another soul.
Nice isn't it?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Update on TS

First let me say that I take each animal's life on my farm with great concern and compassion. TS is no different.

Today his mom, Valerie, apparently would not let him nurse. This morning he was bright and bold, this afternoon he was again weak.

To make a long story short, we penned Valerie who had a royal fit and tied her up.
We tried to put TS on her teats but he seemed not to know what to do or perhaps he was unable...that I will never know.
I'd suggested having milk replacer on hand, but the other half was against it. Said...*he'd do fine, he just had to do it.*

Now I know enough that Valerie is a very young heifer and perhaps her teats were sore...or perhaps she is not yet mature enough. She seems to want to be a good mom, but TS had a tough start.

Frustrated, my husband asked if I had 'any better ideas'. Yeah it was a tense moment.
I said 'of course I did' and proceeded to try and find a baby bottle.
I found a small container and a large 2 oz. syringe with no needle.

I milked Valerie. She has never been milked. She was very unhappy with me at first...

Anyone who knows a Dexter knows how short they are. I had to milk very close to the ground and one time she kicked a partially full container out of my hand.

I was determined.
I was able to milk her.

TS wasn't real receptive at first, but I held him in my lap and dripped the warm milk into his mouth.
After 2 oz. he began to get lively and greedy. Even stood up to take the milk.
After about 7 1/2 oz. he seemed full.

I stripped Valerie of the rest of her milk and then with hubby's help, let her go.

Oh yeah, I was a mess, warm fresh milk all over my clothes and dirt and manure all over me. But I was pleased and hopeful that my efforts had paid off.

Now here is the funny part.
TS was content to lay down and go to sleep after a brief spurt of energy.
He was shivering lightly.

I grabbed him and put him in my lap, close to me.
Hubby asked if I was going to let TS sleep with me.

I quipped 'No, but I am tempted to sleep with him in the pasture!'
And the truth is, if it had been colder, I would have.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I'll be out there tonight.
After all, I'm a momma too.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Valerie and Tough Shit

The heat and humidity was dreadful. It even made sweat run off the back of my neck with little or no effort done on my part.

We heard one of the hounds barking. Not that unusual really, Magic barks when he hears loud or strange noises. It could have been a truck on the gravel road on the ridge for all we knew.

That is, until we stepped outside.

We heard some weak bleating noise. Valerie, one of the four of our registered "American Dexter Cattle" had given birth to a calf.

Now the fella that sold us these heifers had said that they had been running loose with a bull since they were born.
So we knew that there was a possibility that one or two might be 'with calf'. We felt that they were all too young to be bred. [But that is another subject]

The little fella was weak and panting heavily from being in the sun. Hubby picked him up and moved him into the shade.
Valerie walked away. We thought perhaps we'd made a mistake by moving the calf, but surely it would die in the hot sun.
I had to go off to work.

I called home later to ask about the little bull calf. My husband indicated that he'd tried to get him to nurse, but the calf couldn't stand up on his own.
He'd given up and left the calf next to the fence so we could get rid of the body in the morning.

That was enough to bum me out for the whole night.

I couldn't see anything when I got home late last night...but this morning I heard the surprise in my husband's voice when he called to me.

*I went to get the body of the bull calf, and the little shit was gone! I started looking for coyote tracks or something figuring he'd gotten dragged off in the middle of the night. But there he is with Valerie!
What a tough shit he is!*

Here was the bull calf resting in the shade.
After watering and feeding the 'gals' we both mused on this little miracle.
After all, we'd been told that the small Dexter breed was indeed tough as nails.

I think this episode proved it.

We both agreed this was a Tough Little Shit.

[Rich's size 10 1/2 boot size over TS's back].

...and so the name came to us.

Welcome to the world Tough Shit...TS is what we'll call you from now on.
You beat the heat and the odds.
And congrats to a very excellent new mom, a 'first calf' heifer named Valerie who followed her instincts and did a wonderful job.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Night of the Floating Lantern

I got a phone call.
*Would you like to join us when we launch a floating lantern?*

Time spent with the neighbor kids is always fun.
...and besides, I had no idea what a floating lantern was.

Although the girls had explained it as something that floats and is on fire.

wickedly cool and dangerous?

So I was intrigued by the thought.
And thought...Hey this could be fun if I brought my camera!

And so it began after a gorgeous sunset...she lights the lantern...timed exposure of 4 seconds...

She begins to swish it to fill with air...

I love this shot, it looks so exotic and yet graceful! Tipping the lantern:

She has the lantern tipped so the fire is building up into the lantern...the heat will make it rise into the night air...

She releases it and it begins to rise up glowing orange and red...rising gracefully on the warm sultry air.
There is barely a whisper of a breeze until it gets further up, and then it begins to move as the flames engulf the lantern.

We are reminded that we can make a wish before we lose sight of the lantern.
We all do.
Me, a 5 yr old, a 7 yr old, and my neighbor...the other two are fast asleep in the 3 wheel stroller.

We walk back home in the dark.
The crickets are singing.
My heart is happy.
We stop and make shadow puppets on the gravel road using my flashlight.

The children giggle and my heart soars.

I accidentally hit the shutter on my camera and it takes a long exposure of a child dancing with a flashlight.
For some reason, I feel my day is complete.

Although I turn down a very tempting invite from the girls to have a sleep over in their tent that is in the yard.
The lantern self consumes and I was guaranteed that the ashes were cold by the time they hit the ground and that they were biodegradable.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

A Banana Moon Ride with Sunshine

The Banana Moon Ride.

Yes, it was obvious, my Grand-daughter Ariel pointed out to me the shape of the Banana Moon.
You can hardly argue with a child's observation can you?

I saddled Sunshine, she seemed pleased about it. But her tail was full of burdocks.
Oh well, she'd survive until I got them out.

We headed down the road. The little red half-sister mule to Badger and I. I was humming and day dreaming...

Well to tell you the truth, I was experiencing pure joy and humbleness at the same time.
Quite the Paradox.
Sunshine seemed to understand my 'need' and my moodiness.
Good mule.

In fact as we rode past the neighbor's cornfield, she looked as thought she'd grown tall and proud.
Even if it was an effect of the sunlight low in the sky.

We rode past our neighbor's winter hay crop. It looked pretty fine and dandy. She has another crop or two to cut.The fields are green and appear bountiful.
My road looks quite beautiful this way in the prime of the growing season.
We rode out to the blacktop and stopped and visited with the 'far end ridge neighbors'.
Sunshine proved to be kid friendly as all the kids came up for a pet.
I ran my hand across her face and smiled inwardly.
Another Mule Ambassador!
Sadly I had to explain what was going on with Badger....
All in all, it was a quiet and uneventful ride.

We saw beauty. We made new friends [Sunshine did!].

And I realized how much I'd missed our evening rides that were a fine excuse for stopping and getting the 'ridge' gossip or just visiting.

Perhaps a lunch and a trail ride at Wildcat State Park...