Saturday, February 27, 2010

Making plans

It is time.

I said I'd do it, now I need to make the plans to make my words come true.
I promised myself when my father died, that I'd go back to the land he loved so much and go with my camera...and me. Plus his memory.

I'd go back to the Big Island where so many happy childhood memories still bounce around. Those days seemed endless to a child. I'm sure that the month flew by with alarming speed for my father and mother.

I accompanied dad in October of 2001. We stayed for two weeks and had a wonderful time. He was 83 years old and the roles had been reversed. I was the 'parent' and had to organize every minute of our day, including naps.

He was the child.
It was his job to curiously [and madly] ask me every five minutes of a road trip~~
*Are we there yet?*
*I gotta go, where's a bathroom?*
*I want some candy!*
*I'm hungry!*

It was my first return trip to Hawai'i since 1973. Things had changed. I now drove, dad did not.
He was legally blind and a bit frail.
He could be wonderfully irritating [I may not have thought it at the time, but in retrospect, he was quite funny in an odd way].

This was his gift to me, although I did not realize it at the time.

It was a gift of memories to carry with me forever, even after he was gone.

We stopped at a restaurant to eat one afternoon after a road trip. I'd read reviews about the place and it looked a bit local, but inviting.
We walked up to the doorway were the entrance split into two directions.
To the left a bar.
To the right an open dining room.

There was music and voices in the dim lit bar, some laughter, some in what sounded like Hawaiian speech.
Dad grabbed my arm, and in a panicked voice said, *We have to get out of here before we get mugged! They'll see we are white and tourists, they sound native to me, ...maybe toughs!*

Despite my assurances that we would not get mugged, dad insisted. In fact he stalked off and went back to the Dodge Neon we rented and got in, refusing to get back out.

So our trip went. We had adventures.
We had talks.
We 'connected' with each other like this father and daughter had never done.
We laughed, we reminisced.

And one day while sitting in the shade at the Old Kona Airport Beach State Park, dad said to me.
*This is where I want to be, god forbid I die. Here, right here. Everything comes together right here. Memories of you children, my love for your mom...the happiness we had in Hawai'i.*

I looked around. Surely dad was a very young 80'ish fellow, but I would follow his wish, for his heart never left Hawai'i since the first time he saw in in January 1965.
And so I promised him...

I looked at the place we loved to sit and watch the waves. Our favorite place.
Could I remember this tree?

Could I recall this rock with the crashing waves?

Well, I do recall the fun we had.

So now it is time.
Time to return. promised.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Let's go for a walk...

These are rare words out of my husband's mouth.

Rare, rare, rare.

I can count the times on one hand in our time together he has simply suggested a walk for the sake of walking.

I know it hurts his knees and now it is even worse since he suffers from Plantar fasciitis.

Of course there was another reason, he wanted to walk his coon hound pup, Dot.
[I of course call her Dottie and have been exercising her]

But he is her master and she really does mostly have only eyes for him.
I volunteered to come along [with camera of course!] and keep him and Dot company, even though I'd just returned from a rather hard hike in the deep and softening snow.

He claims to be a 'tough guy' and can sometimes be a bit gruff towards his animals. But I think they see through him.

He isn't such a 'gruff' fellow. I think he's rather tender when no one is looking.

It was rather comical to follow along with the camera yesterday. I stayed far enough away that I hoped Dot would listen to her Master and not pay attention to me.

That wasn't always the case. Dottie would run like mad to me and then run like mad back to Rich.
She was so happy to have two humans to play with, I think.

I had to wipe the smirk off my face when 'Dot' wouldn't 'come' when called one time. My husband turned to me with a look on his face.

I squatted and called out to Dottie, she came barreling in to me.
I shrugged.

To be out with my husband any time is simply a joy. More so when we can take a short hike together.
No matter what the circumstances.

Time well spent with each other and our animals.

Creek Song

This is why I go down to the valley nearly every day....

It is for the beautiful creek song...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Beauty and the Beast

On February 5th Morris and I stumbled upon the fresh deer kill by coyotes. The coyotes fled as we walked up on the scene.
Morris was scared and pretty nervous. In my opinion he had shown good common sense for a 12 lb dog.

20 days have passed and one would not even know that this had taken place in our creek bottom.
The skeleton is gone, it disappeared sometime within the last 5 days.

Since this trail is on one of my regular hiking paths, we went this way again today.
The sun was out and even though the temperatures were quite chilly, the sunlight felt good. Once we dropped below the ridge, it was quite pleasant.

I was pretty sure that I'd be able to find some interesting ice or frost formations with the recent melt and cold we'd been having.
On we went, Morris and I, down the steep trail. Me, slipping and sliding, grabbing onto berry briers and thorn bushes as I made my way down the 'critter' trail.

Morris hasn't been accompanying me on the last few hikes because the coyotes are in season and are fairly territorial this time of year. But the poor fella really begged to come along once I put on my camera pack and coveralls.

He is good about obeying me and sticking close by.

As I peered into the bottom of the creek from the high bank, I was greeted by a hissing noise.
Oh hello Mr. or Miss Opossum!

Brave Morris stood directly behind my legs and peered between them.

He wanted absolutely nothing to do with the 'possum. And frankly, neither did I.
Some folks have claimed that 'Possum are cute. I suppose they've never been on the snarling end of one.
It is rare to find one out in the daylight.
I was pleased that I'd brought my long lens.

This was the 'beast' according to Morris, who was curious but not curious enough to get as close as I did.

Further on down the creek we found the things we had set out looking for. Morris, a good place to roll in something smelly.....

Me, some interesting frost and ice.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Marriage of the Hedgehogs

Happy Hedgehog, a toy of Morris's, and a character in the The Big Adventure series has finally found Happiness in a female Hedgehog named Harriet.

They met this summer apparently [the toys don't talk with me!].
They were happily married in a little Hedgehog Chapel and have announced the addition to their family...

Harry, the little Hedgehog.

I imagine he is going to be appearing in future books with Morris.
One must really limit the activities of these toys.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Cavalier is Possessed

I had no idea that cars can become 'possessed'. The Cavalier has been acting strangely lately.

Of course it didn't start with me, but when my hubby borrowed it to drive to Madison and back one day. He said the dome light wouldn't shut off.
I drove it the next day and it was just fine.

Then a day later I noticed the dome light had come on and didn't fade as it usually does. Hmmm.
That night all seemed fine. Except now the dome light did not come on when I opened the passenger door at night, but it did when I opened a back door. It wouldn't shut off unless I opened and closed one of the front doors.

Another week goes by and nothing special happens.
Until last night.
When I hit the bumps on Hwy 56 outside of Romance on the way to work, I noticed the dome light came on. Okay, that was interesting. But, since it was daylight I never gave it a second thought.

When I started the Cavalier to come home last night the dome light came on and then faded away until I put the lights on.
Dome light on.

I pulled over and stopped at the wayside.
I opened and shut the driver's door..dome light off.
When I turned the corner in Genoa and flipped my brights on....
Dome Light.
This is beginning to piss me off.

Hit the brakes, Dome Light.
Go from Park to Drive, Dome Light.
Dim to Bright...Bright to Dim..., Dome Light.
Shut off the car,
Dome Light dims and goes out.
Start the car, Dome Light on...and off.
Bump=Dome Light.

Finally I gave up and just drove home with the light on which was not pleasant at all.

The car is possessed.
[Obviously it is a short?]

Anyway, tonight...I take the truck.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Baths~ By Morris

So SHE says,
*jeeze Morris you stink*
after I'd been running around while she was doing chores and making water go to the big tank for the mules to drink from.

I'd been playing with the hound dogs and Pressure [she's a hound] invited me in her doghouse to play. We wrestled and tumbled in her house until I get called.
SHE knows how to end a good time.

But I went back and Pressure tackled me again. Did I mention that Pressure is about 65 lbs to my 12 lbs?
She takes one of her big paws and pushes me down. I roll over and play dead until she lets me up.
Then we run around and around again.

I got full of straw chafe and got pretty mucky. I thought I smelled just right.
Panting and smiling, I ran to the house when called.

Then SHE informed me that it was bath time.

Jack Russells are not supposed to like baths.
I don't mind it really...unless SHE uses some sort of 'fruity' scented soap on me.

I always get wrapped up in a nice sweatshirt afterwards and snuggle down for a nap.
I smell like 'Sugar Vanilla'.
It'll be a while before I can hold my head up around the hounds.....

Friday, February 19, 2010

Country Girl goes to the city...

Everyone needs a buddy. Sometimes being isolated on the farm is really quite nice, and at other times you wish for someone to talk to.
[That is, someone other than the Jack Russell Terrier or mules and donkeys]

My husband is a fine fellow.
But he doesn't get the 'girl' thang. Where you can hang out with another female and just 'do stuff' and talk 'girl stuff'.

So this morning I headed out the door to meet a friend in the Big City.
LaCrosse is not a Big City. But compared to Folsom [4 farms]~it is a city.
We met at *Wally World* because it was easy for me to find.

We ended up at the mall where we walked and talked, had lunch and just plain enjoyed our friendship. We laughed.

Laughter is a great thing, it makes you feel good inside.

Thank you to my friend for knowing exactly what I needed today.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Walk on The Wild Side

Every once in a while I get a 'wild hair' up you know where...

Yesterday was one of those days.
Grab the coveralls, the camera, ... consider taking a mule, then don't...make sure I have on the water proof insulated boots...and

No Morris in tow this time, I'm heading for the area that has a couple of coyote dens. The coyotes are in *season* now which means they are very active and aggressive especially towards other dogs.

Much to my disdain, I carry a small cheap two way radio. It is a conciliatory measure for hubby who thinks I am braving dark and dangerous things in the Big Woods.
Yes we have coyotes, yes we have black bear, and yes I tend to get into areas that an old lady [cough, cough] shouldn't go...

I like to climb steep gullies, moss covered rocks, even explore a cave if I get it in my head. I am not aware of any physical reason not to.
So I carry the radio in a *thingy* attached to my pistol belt and carry on.

I find two dens. Coyotes are not very good housekeepers, they toss their trash [bones, fur] right out the den opening.
I don't see any 'Yotes but see many tracks.
I head towards the far end of the First Valley and find all sorts of fun eye candy for my camera.

What interesting things do I find?
A chair...

Hmm, if I set up here, then I can work without any bother from hubby, the phone, or other distractions! I wonder if I'd get wireless here...
There is another option closer to my house. But the seat is a bit rough.
On I go drawn by the sound of...what?
Of course, the snow is melting and at the far end of the valley the water runs harder.

Delighted I untie the tripod that has been hanging from my belt [and banging the heck out of my leg]...and set it up.
The walk for me, has all come down to this.

Yes silly isn't it?

I set myself up in the creek. [Now you understand the need for insulated water proof boots].
I spend a long time observing and 'shooting' the Huge Waterfalls that are in actuality only about 8" tall.

So what.
I found it.
...and it makes my day.

Worth the effort I think.
I return home slowly, thinking about how awesome it is going to be if we get a huge snow melt all at once.
...and wonder,
do I have tall enough boots?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010



My husband in 1962...or near there. I found these in an old album laying loose.

To think that in 8 years after these photos, he was drafted and went overseas. You look into the eyes of this young person and see some resemblance to the man I now know.

We all loose some innocence when we grow up, but in some ways he has lost more than just his childhood innocence.

It is striking to go through the old photos of him growing up and then compare them to those that are current.

Yet I still sometimes see those 'child eyes' on rare occasions.
I just have to look harder.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Hubby's Black and Tan Hound~~~

Looking forward to a few days off...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Midnight Musings

3:30 AM

The river runs slowly and silently under the ice I'm looking over. It is a powerful river, the Mississippi.
There is open waters further down from where I stand. Last year it too was frozen over and we could watch the deer walk from island to island across the snow covered ice.

The lights from behind me make the frost that is floating in the air look like diamonds. Although the 'diamonds' seem to have a fairy like quality of their own. They float and dance, covering the ground, the trees, the fence, and even the ugly weeds low on the bank of the river.

The air is cold and crisp and I breath it in and listen.
There are no sounds except the sigh of the light wind which will chill you to the bones if you stand too long in it. The wind is damp carrying moisture from the 'Big Muddy'.

I feel pretty darned good for 3ish in the morning.

I am in awe of the river. It is powerful, it is unassuming, and it is indifferent to people. It provides people for recreation and it can be the source of destruction.

Come sunrise ice fisherman will walk through the morning mists under pink pastel skies to their fishing holes.

I will watch the skies above the bluffs for that first hint of day.
Sunrise is at 7:04 on the ridge.

For now I am happy watching the 'diamond fairies' dance in the air. I turn away from where I am standing and continue to walk.
The river is on my mind.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A breath of fresh air

We certainly needed it today. Since I was going to stay close to home I let Morris come along.
I'd walked this hillside yesterday afternoon and found no sign of coyotes.
The den they've used for the past few years is empty.
I counted 10 deer beds around the old rock.
The paths are well traveled in the woods.
The tracks of mice and squirrels criss-cross the fresh snow.

Running seemed to be the theme of the day.
Morris played a JRT snowplow.
He loves the outdoors, that is pretty obvious.

A bit like his owner, I think. We both need our outdoor playtime.
It helps us to behave while inside the house.

Morris resting in a sunspot on the living room floor after our walk. Notice the toys surrounding him.
He likes to keep them close.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A day of play

My husband says I should grow up.

Yesterday I got a phone call from the young neighbor lady at the top of the hill. She has two adorable daughters that are 2 and 5 years old.

The girls wanted to know if I could come up and play.

[A few weeks ago, while my hubby was trying to jump start her van on a very cold day, I played with the girls inside to keep them out of everyone's way...]

I said -- of course!
...and off I went. A dozen fresh eggs in hand to give as a gift of friendship.
Hardly did I know that the eggs would excite both daughters and mom! You would have thought that I'd handed them gold.

Mom and I talked, girl stuff. Then as the youngest girl fell asleep, the older one asked if I'd brought my 'snow suit'. I replied that I had my coveralls.
Did I have boots, gloves, and a warm hat?

Indeed I did.

We went out to go sledding.
We took a walk.
We played with their dog, Dutch and taught him how to 'shake hands'. [I think he already knew this]

Then when we got cold we went in and played with the doll house.

I had the best time sitting on the floor and playing with the girls, Ambrose and Clover.
They made sad faces when I had to go back down the hill.

Mom and the girls asked if I could come and play again next week.

Indeed, I can.

...and my husband laughs, saying *finally, there is someone on the ridge that is of my age level*!

Bottom line?
I had a blast.

I can't wait for the next phone call to see~~~

If I can come out to play.

Monday, February 08, 2010

First Try and Fantasy Editing

I used stock images from the following:
Deviant Art by Liburnica

Horse by:
Deviant Art by LRP Photography

I use my own sky and then read a few tutorials for doing this kind of art.
Fantasy Tutorials

My job was a bit more difficult without Photoshop 7, I used Elements 5, but was able to come up with some work arounds to the layers that I don't have access to in Elements.

Now I AM thinking that doing something like this with a mule or donkey would be fun. I learned how to alternate lighting in PS and more uses for brushes which I've never investigated before.

I was really tempted to put some Angel wings on this horse and make him into a magical Pegasus.

So I think you can guess what happens when I get cabin fever and don't feel like going outside. I can get lost for a long time in my little world of creativity and editing.
I feel like a kid with the coolest coloring book in the world.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Winter color

Winter tends to become somewhat colorless ... whites, browns, gray skies. It is a great time if you dabble in photography to test yourself.

What can you come up with?

Should you make a photo black and white?

Should you edit it?

Do you hunger for colors? [I do all the time but love the challenge that winter brings]

Yesterday while out on my daily hike, I walked through our creek bottom. Sometimes each day can bring a new surprise.

Overnight the coyotes had revisited their deer remains. All that is left now are bones and the hide.
The skeleton is red tinted and very eerie looking. From a distance it looks pinkish against the backdrop of snow and footprints.

I found some open running water by one of our springs and knelt down over it to listen to the music of the creek.
I found colors!
Blues and golds~a splash of color.

And I was pleased.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Nature, Death, Coyotes, Beauty

All those words actually go together you know. Death occurs in nature. I'm not the sort of person to wonder why.
I know it occurs and accept it for what it is.

I was rather surprised though today to find a very fresh kill on my normal hiking route. A deer had been chased down and caught in the creek bottom. The photo of the skull has been toned down a bit in color, but what struck me was the bright red carcass against the stark white snow.

What I found amazing is that the coyotes had literally stripped the hide off in nearly one piece. It was fascinating to say the least. I'm not including photos of the carcass for obvious reasons.

But the tale was told in the bottom of the creek. I felt a bit strange, as though Morris and I were being watched while I looked around.
Morris was tied to a branch near me so he wouldn't wander out of my sight.
Scarves come in very handy.
Along side him is my camera 'hiking' bag [with trail mix!] and my varmint rifle. I had my pistol on my side.

I saw where the coyotes had left their trail dragging 'parts' with them. I decided our hike would take a separate direction this time out.

Yesterday, the deer carcass was not there. So the site is a very fresh one.

We continued downstream and Morris visibly relaxed but stayed very close to me. He kept turning and smelling the air.

I'm sure he is aware of coyote scent.
I won't be taking him with me tomorrow, it is mating season and small dogs...any dogs that get in their territory are 'coyote bait' so to speak.

The rest of our hike was uneventful. We rested on a rock and listened to the creek waters rush by.
A cardinal sang in and flew from tree to tree...bright red.
Morris and I shared trail mix.
Another reason he sticks by me I suppose. I'm a good source of certain yummy things.

An Easterly wind picked up and drove snow hard down into the valley. We decided to head towards home.
Both of us happy.

He is sound asleep as I type this and go through the photos from today.

Nature sure is interesting. Every day can bring some sort of adventure, death and beauty.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Big Snow Adventure

Today was the day.

Morris indicated to me that he felt like going out in the cold and damp to do a photo-shoot. He was extremely happy to bring his toys along.

Curious though that he doesn't really have any interest in his 'house' toys while outdoors.

This made some of the shots much Jack Russell tearing the toys away and running off with them.

The stuffed toys were a HUGE hit with the Donkey gals.
I'll have to make sure they are included in *The Big Snow Adventure*.

The premise of *The Big Snow Adventure* is that Morris goes out with his good friends Harry and Crazy to show them what Snow is like.

They meet up with a rather confused animal that is convinced that he is a Snow Leopard.
Morris and his friends try to convince their new friend that leopards have spots and he has stripes.

That is about all that I can give away right now.

I must say though, that Morris was the perfect gentleman for this.

He did what was needed for me to get my 'shots' ... without cookies!

I think he wants to be the 'star' in yet another *Adventure* book.

Kudos Morris!... and thank you.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Topaz Detail v2

I opened my email last night and received an update notification from Topaz Labs regarding an update to Topaz Detail v2.

I'd just recently downloaded Topaz Detail v1 which was a great improvement on the speed of the orginal Topaz Detail version I'd downloaded and purchased in November.

I found this slick piece of software while browsing some contacts' works on Curious, I decided to see if Flickr had a Topaz Group. To my surprise they did. I decided to look and once I downloaded the Topaz Detail, I was hooked. I also added Topaz Adjust last month to my arsenal of editing software.

What can you do with Topaz Detail?

Here is a sample of a before and after Topaz Detail Photo:


The new interface is quite nice. One of the most important details that was added ~~ in my opinion ~~ is the undo and redo buttons!
So many times I've edited something and just pushed a little bit too hard and then wished I could go back to what I'd done.
Great idea!

The new *I feel lucky* button is fun and can give you some odd mixes that may please you, but at least you have the option *undo*.
How does the new interface look?

New Interface:

Old Interface workspace:
The new one is more pleasing and user friendly! Not only that it is lightening fast compared to the previous versions.
A couple of more samples...


Desaturated Blush [new preset]:


Topaz Detail:

All one has to do is get this software plug in and let their imaginations run wild.
You can do as much or as little as you want.

Topaz Detail v2 is a free upgrade for existing customers and retails for $39.99 [I think that is a steal!]
Visit Topaz Labs for more information and a free trial download.

Jeeze, did I just write those few lines?

I sound like a commercial for Topaz Labs.
Okay, perhaps a testimonial!
I love the new creativity it has given me, I have no idea how I've survived this long without it.