Friday, January 30, 2009

I love winter...

Oookay. I'm probably contadicting myself somewhere here. I'm sure I was anxious for winter to end in some other post.

Well I was loving it.

It was a 'balmy' 6 degrees when I headed out the door with my cameras. The snow is deep in the woods, but today I was 'smart' and decided to follow only deer trails that are packed ...
of course the trails don't all go the way I want them to~~but close enough.

My destination?

The little creek.

It is a place I go so often that I swear, I must know every rock.
But the creek changes so drastically with temperature,
time of day, and the amount and type of light.

So each time I go, it is a 'different' creek.

Today there was frost developing on the pebbles in the creek. This due to the fact that I was at the spring where the water was warmer and sent up wisps of steam which froze on foliage and pebbles.

This was growing from a small rock in the water.
If you do wander off the trails, you can end up knee to hip deep in snow...with or without snow shoes.

The sun was bright today, which makes some of the photos a bit more challenging to take with the snow reflections. But I take these days as they come. Had it been overcast, my experience would have been completely different.

I needed to get out as my work schedule has gotten pretty intense this week and next, so I grab every moment to 'get out and play'.

So what can I say?
Today I sat on the frozen creek and listened to the water gurgle underneath me as it flowed beneath the ice.
It was like music. Hard to explain unless you were there. It was like a sweet song and very soothing.

I came home with bright red rosy cheeks and felt like a million from wading through snow and picking my way over and through ice, rocks, and water.

A few hours down at the creek rejuvenates me in a way I cannot explain.

So yeah...
guess I love winter.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Dish Fairy

Do you suppose I can find the Dish Fairy???

She needs to come in when I am not home and take care of the dishes so they don't pile up in my absence while I am at work.

I've searched high and low for her.
What would she look like?

Is she really a she???

I asked my husband if he'd seen her.
He assured me, he

Well since she hasn't arrived yet, looks like I'll put on the smiley face and clean up.

If you see the Dish Fairy~send her my way.
Oh yeah and if you see her cousin The Window Washing Fairy, I'd like a moment with her too.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Sometimes a name from the past just pops into your mind for no reason what-so-ever.

Odd name for an odd little fellow.

He was the little kid that lived next door to us in our suburban home~when I was a child. He used to wander over once in a while through the gap in the bushes that separated our rental place from his.

If memory serves me right he may have been the first 'southerner' I'd met.
Zoopy was hugely fat for a little boy. Mom attributed it to a poor diet of soda, chips, junk food, and little exercise. Those items were a rarity in our house so we were somewhat fascinated by Zoopy.

He was a little boy who couldn't run because his pants [always not sized for a kid] would fall down~he was a little boy who spoke with a funny accent, had flushed pink cheeks, and squinted through the extra skin around his eyes.

I'll never forget that day he came through the bushes --he was out of breath, his cheeks burned bright red in anger and frustration. He stomped up to our door where my mom met him.

Zoopy was always very polite, he asked for some advice from mom.

'My sister done made me mad,' Zoopy said, 'She's too big to fight but I sure enough would like to get even with her.'

My mom is a born prankster, always looking for a little harmless fun.
She leaned down and thoughtfully said to Zoopy.

'Well, get some Chicken Poop and chew it up real good,' she paused for effect, 'then spit it on her shoes.'

A broad smile crossed Zoopy's face. He thanked my mom, then turned and hiked up his pants as he hurried back through the gap in the bushes.

A couple of hours later he came back, a troubled look on his face.

'Ma'am,' he said to my mom, his hands in his pockets, 'I surely thought this was a good idea and it would make my sis madder than ever. But where can I find some Chicken Poop?'

True story.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Playing with my new camera

Super Macro.

What does that mean?

It means you can focus in on a subject that is 1cm from your lens.
It means you can get up close and personal with ice, snow, fungi,...and this!

The camera performed pretty well. I am gaining a feel for how it focuses in each 'mode'. I like the 'landscape' mode used on the photo with Morris's reflection in the creek as well as the macro and super macro mode.
When I got home I used a 'motion' mode to grab head shots of the mules. The shutter was faster and when I put the 'focus brackets' on a mule's head the camera followed the head.

Morris and I took off for what we thought would be an easy hike down to the creek.
Morris wanted to quit I think half way through the meadow. He had to follow my snowshoe tracks and still was nearly up to his chin in snow.
A few times he paused and stood with one paw shaking, held slightly up. He seemed hesitant about going with me [which is not normal!].

At one point I saw a large bird fly down out of the trees on the edge of the forest.

I had to look twice.
A magnificent bald eagle swooped into the air and circled lazily. I picked up Morris and asked him if he saw the eagle. [Yeah right, like he would answer...but he licked my face.]

So I carried him to the fence line then tried not to drop him face first into the deep snow. We finally did make it to the creek where I took my snowshoes off and carried them.

Following the creek we could really walk fast, sometimes hopping from rock to rock to cross the water.

I was surprised at how well I got along with the new Pentax. I have to have many more practice sessions with it to get the 'most' out of it.
And NO I did not submerge it in the creek to see how well it held up to its underwater capabilities.
The air temperature was only 9 degrees. I have no idea what the wind chill factor may have been.
Best not to tempt fate, right?

[I do know that my face still feels like I've gotten a sunburn though.]

On the way home Morris 'rode' in a sling for part of the way [yeah, I'm a softie]. I fashioned one out of my scarf, and Morris rode proud and happy.
When he realized we were close to home, he took a leap, took a header into the snow and boogied only like he can.

He was sitting at the back door when I arrived home.
[Sure and I felt like I could have used a lift...especially after the snowshoe malfunction...]

It was a fantastic hike.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hi Ho Hi Ho

It is off to work I go.
Easy 8 hr pick up.
They called last night and I picked up a Saturday day shift.

Then as I walked in the door tonight I was called and picked up 8 hrs for Monday during the day.
Whew, this ol' lady is getting in some hours!

The photo above is one of the reasons I always carry a camera. You never know when an unexpected shot will come along.
It isn't the best, but I had to shoot through the side window of the car to get it and the light was poor.

This morning, I stopped in 'Romance' to take these photos....
[with my old camera]

Sorry this is so short, but I'm short on rest and long on needing some good night friends.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

So cool

I got my new pretty little camera delivered by UPS today.
Thanks Dell for being so prompt!

Yes the Pentax Optio W60 so far, is waterproof as is says. I took photos in my sink with running water just to check it out.
It is built sturdy.
It has heft to it for a little camera.
All compartments are 'weather' sealed.

The differences from my old Oly?
Bigger LCD screen...much bigger!
The buttons are about the same size. The new Olympus 1050 SW offers a touch screen. Nice option, but seeing that my old Oly has brushed metal buttons that my fingers have worn the finish off from...I wanted to stay away from the 'touch' screen options.
The Pentax has some not so great features that I wouldn't even bother with.
They are more of a marketing tool.

The kid and pet option. Nice but the camera recognized my pet as a kid and since Morris is multi coat colored, the pet function noticed and focused in on his Hedgehog toy instead of him.

In camera editing. Well we know that most serious photographers don't usually edit with the options in their camera, but it did have a couple of interesting edits.

An option that is a real pain. The face detect and smile detect. None of the fungi and flora I photo, smile for me. So it looks like I 'may' have to disable this each time I take a photo?
I'll let you know more later.

Well....after taking the 'book' to work and reading it through and through, I was able set the functions I wanted and disable the annoying features. Now they don't show up when I start the camera.
I monkeyed with the infinite focus and the results were fantastic for sunsets.
Landscape also worked...okay, but the colors were good and the action was great...
The result was fabulous!!!

Of course I couldn't resist trying the super macro mode. Focus within 1 cm.
I blended my wrist watch with a sunset for this:I'm ready for some serious play as soon as I get a memory card for it. I just wish you didn't have to buy them separate!

This Pentax Optio W60 ROCKS!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Visit with the Grandbabies...

These are always special times that bring joy to the faces on Grandpa, Grandma...
Great Grandma,
and of course the kids....

Good food, good times, lots of laughs and giggles.

Sad faces when we have to leave.

But yeah, it sure is worth it.

What more can I say?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Morris Meets Terrible Tiger

Yesterday while shopping with Rich at Walmart, I happened to walk by the dog toys and spotted a tiger dog toy and a leopard dog toy.

I picked up the leopard and fingered it. A story started in my head.

What if Morris got let out by his 'toys' to go on a snowy day adventure?
Could I get Morris to pose with his toys and not fling them around?

Could I actually get a
Jack Russell to DO what I wanted?

What about the toys learning that Morris '
can talk' too?

How about they go on an adventure and meet up with a confused Tiger who things he is a Snow Leopard?

Oh the possibilities!

And yes, Morris did some great things for me. It was all 'his' doing and no real training by me.

Oh...I ordered a new pocket point and shoot, the
Pentax Optio W60. Waterproof, freezeproof. I did a lot of research and found that Dell had it for far less than any other camera store! Happy Upday to ME!Snow: 44" + 2" = 46"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Heroes of the Highway

I used this photo in a blog I did in December after a wicked snowstorm and a 'wicked' drive home the next morning from work.

I am amazed at how hard our county highway works and exactly how 'little' we appreciate them, so on a whim this past week, I wrote the following letter to the editor of the Vernon County Broadcaster which is our local 'rag'.

County Highway Workers Deserve Praise

So I had two phone messages when I got in from helping Rich do chores this morning. One from a fellow guard who is the wife of a county worker, and another from one of our neighbor [as the crow flies ~~ about 3 county miles].
The message was simple.

'Thank you so much for appreciating us.'
Well my Heroes of the Highway, you are very welcome indeed.
[3" + 41"= 44" of snow so far this winter season]

Weather of course

'So is it cold enough for yah?'

'Got enough snow?'

'Just what we need, more snow [rain, sleet, winds...or dry weather]'

These are words of greeting in our area.
Sort of makes me laugh, but it does show how integral the weather is in our conversations.

While at work yesterday, as I'd walk around to pick up vehicle 'stickers' from visitors or vendors, the common saying was....
'Stay warm!'
'Enjoying the weather?'

I imagine it won't be much different when the temps are 90 degrees and hot and humid either.
'Hot enough for yah?' comes to mind.

The real upside of these terrible cold conditions~~we are supposed to be in the -20 to -30 degree air temperature range today through Friday, is that when it does warm up to above zero, it will feel like a heat wave!

Yesterday it was -5 and I was outside a good part of the day enjoying the sunshine. Of course I was dressed for the weather and the winds were not blowing.

I'm also getting braver about driving our roads in the winter. No, I don't go fast, and I don't do stupid things, but I am careful and tend to get where I need to go.
Can't say it thrills me to drive on awful roads, but there is no choice!

Have a good day and 'enjoy your weather' whatever it may be in your part of the world.
[5" + 36"= 41" of snow so far this winter season]

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Point and Shoot cameras

I'm considering a new digital camera.
It is supposed to be crushproof, waterproof, shockproof, and functional in frigid temps. It has a super macro up to, that is up close and personal.
This will be a pocket digital also. Many professional and hobby photographers dismiss the importance of a pocket camera saying that they are too limiting.

Ever try hiking and rock climbing with $2k worth of camera, along with all of its lenses???

How about horseback riding? Sledding?
At this point I own a Olympus Stylus 410.
Read more about it at Steves Digicams.
It was the first metal bodied digital camera in the world with rubber gaskets sealing it from weather, making it also 'weather resistant'. At 4 megapixels, I am able to make nice clear 8 by 10 photos. Sure it is slow to start up and didn't have all the bells and whistles of the newer pocket sized point and shoots.
It isn't the price of the camera that makes a good photo. It is the person behind the camera. With some knowledge of photography these 'limited' cameras can produce excellent shots, within their limits.
Everyone should have one in their pocket for that 'moment' that you wished you were able to take a picture!

I'm considering a much newer version of the Olympus Stylus called the 1030W. Again Steves Digicams offers a fairly nice review of the camera.

Yes I've considered a nice Canon Rebel or a Nikon DSLR type. But I just can't see banging around in the woods with them.Well I'll let you know how I get along with the 'new' camera when I do get it.
[It could be a little while yet...I'm having a hard time giving up my little Oly as it hasn't totally bit the dust yet. After 5 yrs of constant use and abuse, it still performs, but is exhibiting little funny glitches!]

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Taking a dunk

Out on my last hike I decided to climb down a very steep bank, under many broken limbs and tree branches to catch the above photo.

To get the angle right I stretched my legs over the width of the creek. The right foot was precariously situated on a wobbly rock...I couldn't make the width of the creek.
The left foot was on a snow and ice covered bank.

I couldn't stand and take the shot.
Squat...oh so much better. It really would be better if I just got a tinsy bit lower.
And lower.
Take a shot, change exposure.

My right foot slipped, the rock rolled, and I was sitting in creek water with the little falls splashing me in the face.

Automatically my camera hand [the right one] had gone straight up in the air...YES, save the camera at all costs.
I moved quickly with a couple of cuss words and reached around back to see just HOW wet I'd gotten.

Well lucky for me!
My coveralls immediately froze. The long underwear [thank you Cabelas!] kept me warm even though they were slightly damp.

We had a long and lovely hike -- if climbing through knee deep snow in places can be called lovely.
Poor Morris asked to get a lift again this time out, but we sure did find some great shots down in the creek bed.

So even with a dunking, it was a great time.
[4.5" + 31.5"= 36" of snow so far this winter season]

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Wayy too much time on my hands....

Okay, I found this and just had to do it...
It is called PQ Talking Photo. I went to the site and loaded my dog's image into it, then followed the simple instructions.
It was worth all the fun and laughter.
Tons of entertainment!
This was so much fun I spent the evening playing with it, thinking of all the creativity this could give me with my photos and...entertaining the grandkids!!!

It is Titled~~~
Morris Loves Tess, a love song.

Yeah I got this idea from watching an interview with Tank the Coyote....

blogmyspacedvd to ipod video convertertalkingphoto, dvd to psp convertertalkingphoto, dvd to zunetalking photo album

Cure for winter duldrums

Okay it is cold, snowing, blowing, and overcast outside. So what should a person do??

I mean come on, I could sit inside all day and be domestic.
Like cook, bake, clean house [um, I vaccumed yesterday, and the day before that, I put away the Christmas stuff...and the day before that...I dusted some things...]...
Except that domestic stuff is not good for your health.

I mean it doesn't get your heart rate up right?

It isn't aerobic exercise right?

It doesn't make you shout YAHOOO!! Right?

In fact I cannot think of one thing about being *domestic* that adds to your health and mental well being.

Come on ... unless you are hunting 'dust bison' under the bed with a .410 or a super duper Red Devil Dust Buster. [I prefer the .410, messy, but it gets the job done]

I rest my case.
So Morris and I decided to go sledding.
Whaddya know, we brought the little flip video.

And shout WAHOOO!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ice Hike

Oh I have so much catching up to do!

But here is the CliffNotes version.

New Year's Day we did Christmas with the kids. It was Yummy and fun. And of course I was a half zombie from not enough sleep from 3 rotating shifts ... but the grandkids loved their much as Grandma Val loved reading the stories to them.

The 2nd was spent 'sleeping'. The 3rd, working.
We had an Ice Storm the night of the 3rd and into the 4th.
Yesterday was errands day...and then Morris and I~~~~~
went for a hike in the icy snow!

The top 10th of an inch or so was ice which sounded like breaking glass as we walked in it.
There was NO being quiet in the woods as we walked, the broken ice would skitter across the unbroken surface and slide down the hillside.

While we were deep in the creek bottom, Morris began to growl, his hackles raised, and he walked stiff legged...then the brave cuss backed into my legs.
It didn't take me long to discover the cause.

Ever get the feeling you are being watched?
Well we were.
I drew my pistol and put a round in the chamber.
Above us on the ridgetop stood the outline of a coyote.
It slinked away...we could hear it as it broke a new trail and the ice chips tinkled like glass.

The Coyotes are coming 'in season', so they do tend to get territorial.
I'm glad Morris has the good sense to stick close to me on our winter walks.

I just found the most hilarious video on YouTube regarding an interview with a Coyote.
The Coyote comments that his favorite meal is 'Dog on a Rope."

Watch it and laugh.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Yrs Eve was good...

My New Yrs Eve involved work.
Now don't feel bad for was the first time since 1984 that I've been out on New Years Eve.

We had a hoot at work.
The county cop radio kept us very entertained.
My evening started with a trip to the boat landing near work where I was able to photograph the great river, the Mississippi.

I'm hoping to begin to see the bald eagles who gather each year on the ice and get a photo of them.
Last year one of our guards counted 74 eagles before she lost track.

Back to the radio.
New Year's Eve started out with a wild domestic. Tragic and funny in a way. The wife beat up the hubby.
Hubby ran from his house and called the cops with his cell phone.

Hubby suffered bites, cuts, bruises, sprayed with oven cleaner, and whatnot. Said 'she was on a roll' tonight.

She called 911 and said her hubby was trying to break into the house.
Actually, it was some officers knocking on her door.
She wouldn't look out the window and insisted otherwise.

Hubby then refused treatment. Later he decided he should get some medical attention.

The county cops said they were very familiar with 'the victim' and the female.
The female then called the county and said 'she wouldn't go without a fight'.
Later she called and said 'she'd go peacefully.'
Later she called and said 'she had no idea what was going on.'

We never got the 'end' of the story, but I'm sure it will be posted in the local news.

At work we ate pumpkin pie, shared stories, and had some chuckles.
Yes we worked!
Yes we even had a drill and I was tested to see how I would respond.

My point?
I really do enjoy my job, even if it means working some holidays.

As I drove home at Midnight, I was able to pull over on the top of the Genoa Hill and Harder Hill and watch the fireworks in Lacrosse.
Now isn't that cool???

Have a great day, I'm going to.
2008 is gone, Happy 2009.
No regrets, no resolutions.

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.
~Bill Vaughan