Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Below Zero

How cold is it?
Sort of cold, like -1 degree sort of cold.

So what should I do on a cold day like today?

Why, go for a hike of course!

One of the things I miss about really out film cameras is that one didn't have to worry much about how long the battery will last in sub freezing temps.

So today I went for a hike.  It was just supposed to be a short hike.
But I got sidetracked once I saw how the frost had formed on the grasses next to the creek.

With no snow at all, it was easy to see it!

And further down the creek the ice formations were incredible....

I forgot a few things that would have made my trip more enjoyable.
A face mask or at least a scarf for when I was walking into the wind.

Hand warmers for re-warming my hands after taking the gloves off and taking photos of My Little Ponies at the Big Spring with all the frost around.

I had to stand for a while with my hands shoved under my belt line.

But I got some pony shots for my Grand daughter Ariel to see.

Uh...yeah, I was taking My Little Pony figures and placing them in what I thought might be fun places for the toys to explore!

Tonight it is supposed to be well below zero and very cold tomorrow morning.
Wind chills are supposed to be quite cold.

Looks like I'll be getting out the over the glasses goggles out along with the face mask.

And...if I hike tomorrow, I won't forget the hand warmers!

Hand warmers in your camera bag can help keep your camera operating longer in colder weather.  They are also handy for de-freezing fingers!

I also carry ziplock bags and put my DSLR into the bag and seal it.  Then put it in the padded camera bag and close that up 
coming indoors.

I allow the camera and the bag to come to room temperature before unzipping the camera.  

After all, it would be a shame to miss some of the great shots that can be had near water when it is so cold!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Don't underestimate the Point and Shoot!

While hiking with Morris yesterday, I grabbed the most infamous camera I own.

The pink Fugly Camera that I bought so many years ago.

I had my Nikon DSLR with me but I also had a gym bag full of stuffed animals I was carrying around in the woods.

As I was walking along, I didn't feel like grabbing the more 'correct' camera to take an interesting shot.
Instead I pulled out the old pink camera and thought I'd try and get some decent shots of the interesting frost formations.

We had been very warm on the 27th in the morning.  The winds began to blow and the temperatures began to drop quickly.

So I am assuming that the frost that is coming up through the leaves is because the earth below was warmer.

I even found frost formations in a log hole!

I would have liked to take a really long hike but I had to get the bundle of stuffed toys back to the house.

After uploading the photos of the toys and Morris, I took a peek at the ones I got off the Pink old point and shoot camera.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Working with Morris, the Cookie Factor.

It is probably a good thing that Morris got 'treats' or dog 'cookies' from some of his favorite 'little' people.

Today we had to go out and do 'the wrap' photos for the end of his seventh book.
Thank goodness we didn't get snow, so the photos will look no different than those that I shot at the end of October when I began this project.

I must admit I hit a few writing snags here and there until I realized I just needed to let the characters take me along.

I got the stuffed animals lined up just so and then called the Star Morris in....

He immediately sniffed out the dog treat and then trotted off to smell something interesting on the deer trail.  I am pretty sure it was more like deer pellets.

I called him again and held another chunk of treat in my hand.

"SIT!"  I commanded.

He sat.
On top of the toys, tossing them this way and that.

Well, at least I now had his attention.

After a few more attempts the toys were set up, and Morris was starting to pay attention.
Sort of.

His mind really wasn't on working, but he did perk up any time I mentioned 'cookie'!

We got the job done and then enjoyed a stroll on the hillside.

In the house, he loves his toys, he shakes them and tosses them all around.
But in order for me to get him to pay attention to them while out in the woods...on set...so to speak, I need to have plenty of treats.

I think now I am prepared to get ready to write the last chapter.

Note to self.
Next time, make sure my pocket is full of treats!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Cow

Many years ago I 'worked' on a dairy farm.  I helped out with the milking chores.  I worked with an old Farmer and often his grandson.

It was always a pleasant place to be in the winter.  The cows would stand and eat their feed as we milked.  The sounds of the cows chewing, the milker pumping, and the old radio cracking out country western music was comforting.

It was Christmas Eve and I asked old Farmer if Christmas Cow was going to visit.

He laughed at me and told me there was no such thing as Christmas Cow.
Of course there was, I insisted!  Cows had to have a Christmas too!

He shook his head and went on to place the milker on the next cow which was #13.  I called #13 Miss Piggy.  She was always a mess and not very easy to clean up.  She also loved to kick the milker off.
Old Farmer said no matter who he stuck in stall #13, they always ended up to be of awful attitude.

We finished up the milking and bedded down the cows.  I walked home to my place alone in the dark.
When I got to the apartment, I stared at the lonely 7" tree that had been given to me the farmer's wife.

I gathered the little tree up and walked back to the farm and without alerting old Farmer, I put the tree up in the bulk tank room.
I left a small wrapped package on a shelf next to the tree where old Farmer would come after he was done milking.  The tag said "To Farmer, From: Santa Cow."

I had some plastic holly I'd found and so I walked down to where #13, Miss Piggy was laying quietly.  I used a a bit of twine string to put the holly sprig on her stanchion.

I tied a bits of red ribbon in areas around the barn.
Satisfied with my work, I closed the barn door quietly on all the cows who were softly chewing their cuds and crept back out into the cold.

The next morning I showed up and began to help with chores.
Farmer turned on the music and Christmas tunes played softly.

We didn't say much.  I know he noticed the bits of red ribbon and had sneaked furtive glances at me.

He got to Miss Piggy, the infamous nasty #13.  She was not a mess.  Old Farmer's eyes widened as he put the milker on her.
He stood next to her waiting for her to start kicking.
Miss Piggy quietly chewed her cud and stood rock still through the whole process.

He pulled the milker off her and then noticed the Holly Sprig attached to the stanchion.

He looked at me and I shrugged.

I said, "Hmmm, Christmas Cow?"

He shook his head with a slight lopsided grin.

We finished chores and went into the bulk tank room.  After cleaning the lines old Farmer stopped and looked up at the shelf where a small present lay under the little tree.
Old Farmer picked it up and read the tag.

A bright and cheerful grin slowly passed over his face.
He winked at me and opened it.

"I believe a bit of a miracle worked in this barn last night," he finally said.  "#13 did not kick off her milker and she was not filthy.  I noticed there were little red ribbons around the barn and holly on Miss Piggy's stanchion."

I shrugged.

He smiled again.
"This was a miraculous Christmas Day," he said. "I truly think I believe in Christmas Cow!"

What's Christmas to a Cow?

Baxter Black's

What's Christmas to a Cow
I know you've prob'ly asked yourself,
What's Christmas to a Cow?
You've not!  Well maybe just perchance
I've got you thinkin' now.

When we march out on Christmas morn
like nothin's goin' on,
Has Yuletide struck the night before
and disappeared by dawn?

Where plastic sleeves a 'hangin' up
around the calvin' shed?
Did visions of molasses blocks
cavort inside her head?

And did she layawak at nght
tensed up, anticipating
Or, in excitement milk her bed
by accident, while waiting?

Do cows pretend to be just cows,
devoid of all intrigues
But really lead a secret life
like women's bowling leagues?

Did we just miss the mistletoe?
Did all the clues elude us?
Does she believe in Santa Clause
or just Santa Gertrudis?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Off for a visit!

Checking out for a few days.
Heading North and East to see my youngest son and his family.

No internet there and besides, I am not even taking a laptop.


Photo of this year's Christmas Chair...edited of course with Topaz and Topaz Glow.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Do you want to go for a...?

I know how the sentence is completed.
....walk?  with a little lilt to her voice.

Sort of how she asks when she is inquiring if I'd like to ride in the car with her!

Of course!

Time to bounce bounce and run around madly while she puts on her coveralls and gets the camera.

Oh and she takes her pistol too.  I know for sure that the walk is going to be good then.  Well, wait.  She always takes a camera and a pistol.

So after I bounced enough, she opened the door and all the hounds decided to bark.
I ran as hard as I could in a big circle to let them know that SHE had picked me to go hiking with her.

And things went pretty nice as hikes go.

She took some photos of frost forming on the grass in the creek bottom.

The snow and ice from last month is gone, leaving lots of great things for me to smell.

When we got further down the creek I sat down and wouldn't move.  I wasn't going any further.
My nose detected extreme danger.  And my nose doesn't lie.

She was wearing that 'thing' on her head and she leaned down to pick me up. Apparently she thought that I was reluctant to cross the creek and get my feet cold and wet.

Heck no.

She did pick me up and then she must have sensed the danger too, because she started to really look around.  She was very still and I was very still.

Finally I think she spotted what I smelled.

The coyotes had been busy near one of the creek crossings.

The doe must have been up on the ridge eating corn because there was fresh undigested kernels of corn everywhere...

The coyotes are messy eaters.

She tucked me up under her arm and headed me back towards home.  That was okay, I made a huge jump over the water and led the way.

I really didn't want to hang around that place. The scent of the 'yotes was really quite heavy and it sort of stunk.

I wanted to get back home where I could lay on my blanket with Wise Ol' Frog and take a nap.

And that is the end of my 'Do You Want to Go for a Walk?' Story.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Look ma, no cavities!

I know that I am not a big fan of going to the dentist, but I also know that I need a good healthy mouth.

But I skipped going for a while.  I'm not going to say how long.  The lack of insurance just made it easier for me to keep putting things off.

I was able to purchase Dental Insurance through the VA system not too long ago.
So I bit the bullet, so to speak and picked up the phone.

The hygienist did not give me a long nasty lecture, and neither did the dentist.

I'm going to stop here a moment and tell you what a small town it is.  My old dentist sold his practice to this wonderful young lady dentist.  I work with my old dentist's brother.

My new dentist's uncle is one of my supervisors....and one of my ridge neighbors works for her!

Long story short, after scraping and working on my mouth, then a full set of x-rays [wow...the new technology is incredible]. Dr. Klum put the x-rays up on the huge flat screen TV in my cleaning 'room'.  She zoomed in with a mouse click and looked at my roots and around my mouth.  
I was declared cavity free once again.

I do have 2 cavities from when I was 18 yrs old.  Let's just say that was 40 yrs ago.

However, since I put getting a check up and cleaning off for much longer than I should have, I will be going back for deep cleaning and yes it is my own fault and I pretty much had that figured out before I stepped into the office.

I had to have it done in 1998 when I actually had an infection in my gums.  

So the good news was ... no cavities.  The not so great news was the deep cleaning.  
And as I said, it was my own fault.  
So listen up, it is wise not to skip going to the dentist, even if it makes you nervous.

Heck, I sweated right through my clothes and the hygienist never hurt me.  Just something about being in that chair I guess.  I need to get it out of my head.

If I recall when I was a child, one of my first experiences was with a dentist in a dark looking room who had nasty looking picks and things.  He pulled one of my baby teeth.  
I am pretty sure that may be a true memory.
Many years ago when I took my sons to their first dental visit it was so much more different and geared to make the experience much better.

Well, there you go.
No cavities, give this old lady a gold star!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Topaz Glow, the Newest plug in ... a review

A Fractal made by JWildfire.
I decided to download the trial version of Topaz's new creative plug in called 'Glow'.

I'm all for trying something new and adventurous out.
This plug in intrigued me it is similar to Redfield's Plug in called Fractalius.

This was a very toned back version of the plugin.  I wasn't about to go over the top on it.


I did here.  In fact I used Topaz ReMask to remove the backround and added the moon, clouds, and other effects in the backround.


Photoshop magic created in PSPX6.

Screen shot of Fractalious:

Screen shot of Topaz's Glow:
Glow is being offered at $49.99 for a limited time and then the price defaults to $69.99

Fractalious is offered at $39.99.  Now I have not tried this program.  Reviews have said it is slow and eats at memory.
I've seen some wonderful work with it though.

That said, I am an avid Topaz plugin person.  I use it quite often.

Here is another quick sample.

I used Simplify first and then reduced the 'Glow' layer slightly for the above piece.

Here is the original:

I have a little more work to do with this plug in to see if I can get some consistent results in turning some of my work into 'illustrations'.

If it all works out, you'll see me paying the price for this plug in.

It works very well with PSPro...Corel.
And this is my new go to program for editing.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Get Crackin'

I've been putting it off and it looks like this is the week to start getting things done.
I have my Christmas 'shopping' to do and I've been really lazy this year.

Hubby has expressed an interest in the brand new Mercedes Benz.  I'm thinking I should just run out and get one for him and stick it next to the Christmas Chair.

I wonder if they still make MatchBox cars?

I saw an ad while watching a program on Hulu for a little blue card that said I should get it so I could 'see the world'.
Yep, that is what I want!

Dang, someone would have to pay for it though right?

Christmas ads are really something.  Since I don't have normal TV and live stream some programs, most of the time we avoid the commercialism of the season.

I pretty much have most of what I want and need.  I got to visit with family this past week and that is a gift that goes beyond any surprise that can be left under a tree.

However I would like the weather to change just a wee bit and it looks like I'll get that wish sometime tonight.

It has been dreary and foggy for 4 days!

The dreary part is going to stay and become rain.  Later rain/sleet/snow-ish mixtures.

That means I'll be confined to the house ... 
so I guess I'd better get working on the calendars for those who wanted them!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Dish Faerie and House Faerie Ran off...

...or they abandoned ship.

Now I know I left them in charge when I left to go visiting family.

The Dish Faerie was paid well, to wash and help take care of the utensils and the dishes.
I wasn't worried about the coffee cups or glasses as I know my dear sweet hubby will just rinse them and use them over and over until they are so cloudy you can't see through the glass...
or the cup becomes the same color as the coffee.  

And then what would it matter anyway right?  Coffee is coffee.

But no.  She did not take care of the spoons or utensils.  It was a good thing that I did come home when I did.
Hubby only had one clean butter knife and spoon left.
That would have meant that in another day or so, he might have to rinse one of the utensils off to butter his bagel in the morning.

There was a tidy stack of dirty dishes on the stove.

Because that is where you put them right?  The sink must be reserved for washing out the paint brush...
For the hound dog box pieces that were brought into the house and put on the clothes drying rack in the living room.
The floor is partially covered in plastic so no paint gets on the carpet.  I think the pieces of plywood and plastic go nicely with the decor.  I'm thinking of putting Christmas lights on them too.  You never know how long this project may last.
Ahem, back to the sink...

you don't really need to get all the paint out of the sink just yet because the paint job isn't done and the Dish Faerie ran out of the house screaming on the second day I was gone.  

Ahhh, where was the House Faerie?  She got smart and ran first.  She saw sweet hubby taking apart the hunting rifle and spreading it across the newly cleaned off table and knew there was no hope for her.  Not with Hoppes gun oil and other yummy things spread across the table.
Or maybe she saw the rugs in the kitchen collect hay chafe and sawdust and decided that she didn't have the strength.

I guess that is okay.  Those housekeeping faeries never seem to be able to stand up to my sweet husband while I am away for a few days.

I must say though it didn't take quite as long as I figured to clean the dishes as I had expected.  However the table is somewhat of a disaster area.  I went to sit down with a cup of coffee and a nice Panerra Bagel this morning and was perplexed as to where I could make room.

Sweet hubby pushed aside the gun cleaning oil and some screw drivers, knife, hammer, steel wool, and made some room so I could sit down.

Oh it is nice to be back home!

Saturday, December 13, 2014


"The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog."  ~M.K. Clinton

Friday, December 05, 2014

A Trip Back to Wildcat Mountain State Park ~ The Ice Cave

Here is a shot of the Ice Cave on Labor Day.  It was quite beautiful and interesting.  But if one doesn't understand the 'ice cave' concept they won't get much out of visiting this area in the summer.

According to some folks, the ice can remain in this rock formation until nearly July depending on the weather of course.

Here is how it looked yesterday.  Keep in mind that the ice was melting because of our above freezing days and late sunshine that shone right into the formation during the late afternoons.

This is looking head on. You can see the pile of ice that has broken off the ice 'falls'.  Chunks were threatening to fall off while I was there.  It is not prudent to get a shot from directly below looking up when this is going on!

I preferred the side view which was much more dramatic.
This will probably be one of my favorite photos for quite a while.

Here is a fun comparison shot:

Billings Creek is right around the corner from the Ice Cave and I thought I'd revisit it also.

Here is another Labor Day shot with Ariel wading under the magnificent rock formations.

And of course I couldn't get out and wade yesterday, but the creek did not disappoint.

The ice formations in the middle of the creek were exotic yet because of the warm sunshine and temperatures they were hard to find.

I then followed our Labor Day route and visited one of the canoe launches on the Kickapoo River, but it was getting late and the parking lot was ice.  I got back in the Subaru and took the Cut Off road.

I did manage to get a shot of a Warner Creek which feeds into the Kickapoo River.

And the view towards the bluff.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014


I keep hitting snags in the latest book writing adventure.  Actually.

I just lose focus and go off on a tangent.

I delve into Mandelbulb 3D and get entangled in creating something special.

Or I take a daily challenge in JWildfire and work on producing something else....

Oh wait!
I need to take a hike and see what the creek looks like for my 'Creek Photo Project'

Back to writing.
Chapter 4... 
Damn, I've got to edit some photos so they go along with the book!

But wait!
The animals need their stock tanks filled, I need a breath of fresh air.

I walk by my collection of very cool skulls that I've been 'meaning' to do something with for the past few years.
I have an excellent coyote skull.  Nearly perfect except I lost 3 teeth in the cleaning process.

So I stop to read about how to preserve this nice skull.

Next thing I know.

I'm hand painting them.

And then I put them on the Christmas Chair.

One raccoon skull beaded and one the other one just painted.

Someone said I was creepy.  Heck, I like bones.  Skulls are just a reminder that nature goes in cycles.

So...back to the book.
Hmmm, homemade chicken noodle soup sounds so delicious doesn't it?

So...back to the book...
and back to painting...
wait a minute.

What was I supposed to be doing?

That is me, staying totally un-focused.