Friday, July 30, 2010

Curiosity makes for Creativity

Do you ever look at a photo and wonder...geeze how did they do that?

This link to a Photo called LIFE'S FIRES on Flickr happens to be the photo that turned me into an experimentation frenzy regarding CS, Photoshop, and Elements Filters experimentation mode.
[Thank you Liz for allowing me to link to your photo!]

Well I have. And then curiosity got the better of me and I began to experiment in Photoshop 7.0 and Adobe Elements, in ways I'd never thought to before.

The original photo was edited in Topaz Adjust to bring out the color and add depth to the clouds.
Then I duplicated the layer and dropped the levels until the photo was nearly black.
I went to the filters drop down menu and picked Radial Blur at 100, and dragged the cross hairs down towards where the sun was setting.
I waited for the first blur to come through and then used the short cut 'Ctrl F' twice more.

I got this:
Not very interesting is it?
Well now change this layer to 'Screen' and see what you get.
Still not the BIG 'wow' is it?
Experiment with the layer's levels and saturation...and interesting things begin to occur.

Depending on whether your are using Elements or CS, you may want to erase portions of the radial blur that don't fit. You can use the layer mask, or simply the eraser [in Elements].

This effect doesn't work in all photos.
I tried it with this:
The radial blur was much more interesting as an abstract after I added a bit of 'Twirl' to it and upped the saturation.
It may come in handy somewhere down the line so I saved it.

I'll be working more with the Filters menu in Photoshop and Elements to see what more fun creations I can come up with.

Don't get me wrong, I love unedited photos very much, but my computer is like a great big box of crayola crayons and artist brushes without the mess and clean up.

So when the Creative Bug Bites, go for it and explore your inner child and artist.
Have fun!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Take a Walk

The nice thing about living in a rural area on a back road is that if the mood hits you, ...
you can just take off and walk.
You don't need a destination.
You don't need a purpose, nor do you have to dress for the occasion.
You can just go.

...and wander to your heart's desire.

Of course I bring Morris and my camera[s]. You never know what you may run across.

The sunlight filtering through a wild grape leaf...
Field corn starting to form ears...
or perhaps glimpse the Monarch Butterfly...
Today it was the warm sun on my back, the buzz of mosquitoes [too much rain!] and the chirping and songs of birds.

I never heard or saw a vehicle. No cell phones, no computers. Just me and Morris and the crunch of gravel under my feet.

That is the way to take a walk.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I'm not a movie critic.

But I heard the music to the movie Inception before I considered even seeing it.

In fact, the musical score by Hans Zimmer intrigued me enough to listen to more of his music.

I listened to some of the musical scores on YouTube and I was hooked at the idea of the movie. I decided I just had to go see it.
Movies don't stay around at our little local theater in town, so tonight I looked up the times ...
and off I went.

I have never ever gone to see a movie solo before.
I did tonight and let me say that it was well worth it.
I even felt like a fool ~ somewhat ~ because there were only about 5 people in the theater.

At first I was annoyed as the other 4 people made calls on their cell phones and chatted loudly...choosing to sit right behind me. As if there were not enough seats?

When the movie started it got dead quiet.

...and I walk away into the night air and towards my car wondering?
Did I just see a movie about a madman?
What is reality?
What are dreams?
What is sanity?

I liked the movie enough to pay to see it again. Silly but true.
I loved the music and the Conception of Inception,
or is the Deception of Inception?

A place to dream

A place to dream
Originally uploaded by Mulewings~
Everyone needs a place to dream.

A place for just sitting and enjoying solitude.
A place to ponder

I love this place. I can come in any season and enjoy it.
It is only a 15 minute hike away.

I can sit on a mossy stone [or any other boulder!] and listen to the creek make music as it travels over the rocks.
A cardinal always seems to visit when I am there and grants me a short concert.

Other birds chime in also. The wren with her song of scolding, and a pine warbler who sings with a clear tune that is a bit haunting ~ echoing in the woods.

No other music here than the ones that nature makes. It would be a 'sin' to bring an ipod or some other musical device.

Here it is, a place where I can sit and enjoy a concert of sounds...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It's a dog's life ~~ by Morris

I knew before SHE did that is was TIME. I knew before SHE reached for her camera and pistol that we were going to go on and adventure.

We hadn't had many adventures lately so I knew,
I smelled it.
I began to do laps around the living room.
excited even grunting a bit.

Yucky things in the woods to eat and roll in!

She strapped on her holster and I literally began to fly around the house in circles...faster, faster!
Oh happiness!
Oh glory!
I ran to the door and stood, shaking with excitement.

SHE opened the door and I flew out, ran hard, skidded on the gravel in the driveway and nearly fell down...panting, jumping.
Happiness abound.
Let's Go!

Did I mention that I love walks???

Friday, July 23, 2010

...and the sun sets...

Last night the sky put on a show for me.
I'm sure others watched it, but I stood alone on the ridge at the 'intersection' of two gravel roads and delighted in my own private show put on by Mother Nature.

What a simple pleasure it was.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Don't Lie to Me~Badger Update

Don't lie to your animals, they don't lie to you.

Do you think I actually had a conversation with Badger?
Well I sorta did.
I did most of the talking.
He stood there while I brushed him and listened.

I asked him how he felt today.
He showed me by his respirations. He was doing better than the past few days. His breathing was easier.

I told him that it was still awful hot out.
He sighed as I brushed him and moved his body so he was completely in the shade too. I took that as an affirmative on the heat.

I used my homemade fly spray on spritzed it on him liberally.
I asked him how he liked it.
That was an easy one. He stopped shaking his head and swishing his tail madly. He was content to stand quietly.
Good answer.

I took his fly mask off, he had been a good mule and caked it with mud. I was going to have to wash it.
I gave him his medicine and a chunk of mineral salt.
He thanked me by immediately setting down to the task of eating.

After he was finished, I asked him again.
*How are you feeling today Badger?*

He replied simply by getting down and rolling like a good mule would after he'd been cleaned up and brushed.
...and he groaned with pleasure.
I told him I felt better too today, seeing that he was doing better.

He swished his tail as if to say...
*Yup, I can read you like a book.*

...and you know, your mule can.

Wearing Vibram Five Fingers

So you want to get a reaction out of people?

Wear your Vibram Five Finger Shoes in public.

Today we went to the Madison VA Hospital. I didn't feel like wearing my flip flops, nor did I feel like wearing my Nike shoes.

I've been wearing them since I received them the first of June.
In a word cool.
Okay that was more than a word.

I received a lot of stares, not because of my extremely loud Hawaiian shirt, but because of my bluish clad feet.
People would look ... then glance at me and then look away.
Then they would watch me walk by.
I was approached by one fella who asked about them. The health professionals my husband saw where curious. Some even asked what the heck I was wearing.

I sat down in a chair by the main entrance to wait for my husband's prescription to be filled. He wandered off to do something, so I decided to people watch. [People watching at a VA hospital is very interesting!]

A man with striking dark hair and twinkling eyes, rolled passed me in his wheel chair. He stopped, backed up and parked next to me.

*Wow,* he said, *are those shoes?*
I explained to him about the Vibrams.
*Totally cool,* he replied. *I would love a pair...* he smiled and gestured, *but I could only wear a right one! I'm supposed to get a leg soon with a foot, but it won't have toes!*
I let him examine my Vibrams and told him how and where I'd gotten them. How much I liked them, and how much they cost.

He chuckled and said, *I could always take the left one and stuff the toes with something to make them look real.*
I agreed.

My husband came back with his prescription filled. I reached over and shook the man's hand, *It was nice to meet you.*
I stood up and the man laughed, his laughter was contagious. Everyone walking by smiled unconsciously.

*Them is some cool feet, you take care now!* were his parting words as he whipped his chair around and went on his way.

Our next stop was The Shoe Box: a very large shoe store in Black Earth, WI.
I wandered the women's shoe area while my husband tried to find some new boots.

I was stopped by one of the salespeople and soon had a crowd.
Wonderful...they said.

Yes, I did try on a pair of moccasins but compared to my Vibrams, they were not comfortable.

I love them.

Monday, July 19, 2010

24 hrs

Sometimes 24hrs doesn't seem long enough...and then other times,...
well it is plenty long.

We played in the ever popular stock tank we have dubbed 'Mt. Tank' which had been filled with cool clean water the day before.

Ariel made it a point to visit each of her favorite animals on the place. She visited with Bob, who is a Jack Donkey. He does love his petting and ear scratching.
Then it was on to Badger.
Badger is the grand child favorite as he is good, steady, quiet, and loves the kids back.
[Badger was having a tough day as the heat index was quite high.]
He enjoyed Ariel's company before he headed back to seek shade under some dense trees.

Towards evening, Ariel took my second pocket camera and walked around taking videos...and narrating them.
See her short hilarious video at the end of the post if you want.
Dennis put on chore boots in the morning and went to help Grandpa, dig out a level spot for the mares' water tank.
He got so into it, he began digging in any spot he could.
I think he could have a career in dirt.

Morris gave up trying to follow two young children. Instead he picked a vantage point in the yard where he could keep an eye on them.
Saturday night though, he decided that the childrens' blankets were much more comfortable than those in his crate.
He fell asleep with his nose buried in their things.

He feels quite lost when they leave.
Grandpa suffers 'Grandbaby Lag'.
...and Grandma?

Hmmm, she wonders what adventures she'll have with the kids next time!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

They are coming!

Children are fun. Grandkids are 'funner'.

Last time they visited, it poured buckets of rain on Sunday. We went for a hike in the rain...
There is always something to do at 'Grandpa Rich's' place [Grandma Val too].
Since we rarely ever turn on the the TV [which is not connected to any outside source] except to once in a great while to watch a DVD...we do other things.

Play 'Go Fish' for example.

Well, ...
I sorta taught them my childhood game that we called it.
'Go to the Dump'.
[There is a history behind the name of that...a story for another time]

Then we discovered Dominoes...and counting.
I think that may be a new favorite game. Ariel loved it!
...and of course there is our household clown, Morris.
He is a fairly unusual Jack Russell in that he believes these are 'his' children. He spends the weekend keeping an eye on them.
Whatever they wish to do with him, seems to suit him just fine.
Kisses, although not really allowed, always bring about laughter.

Mt. Tank is filled, the day looks to be a scorcher...

Morris is resting and we are looking forward to another round of kids!
Let the fun begin!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Naughty Lil' Pony

Lil' Richard is our tri colored crop out mini horse...or little pony. His job around our place is to generally weed wack and be a constant thorn in our side.

He has yet to meet an electric fence that can keep him in...
so in the summer he is usually staked out eating the hard to mow areas. He is a good alarm and watch pony also
as he squeals and whinnies when anything is out of the ordinary.

Early this morning the phone rings.

*Are you missing your little pony?*
Yup, his snap had broken.

So we drove the Cavalier up to our neighbor's place to catch the errant little turd, who was whinnying and prancing in front of our neighbor's horse fence.

We caught him up and decided to 'lead' him home...

My neighbor lady had a huge chuckle out of our method of ... having a 'road broke' pony...

What a way to start your day!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wildcat Mtn Ride

So I say...

Let's take a day and go to WildCat Mtn and ride.

Well next thing I know, I am rounding up Fred the older experienced pony mule and Siera.

The idea is that Fred will show Siera that things really aren't 'mule monsters'.

This generally works so well in building a 'green' or young mule's confidence. Siera has good confidence but needs exposure.
One of her real dislikes has been mud.

What a perfect day for 'mud' training. Many portions of the WildCat equine trails had muddy areas from a month of heavy rainfalls.
If she had a real issue, I took Fred and stood him in the mud.
She seemed at first to need Fred's experience to overcome the 'mud factor'.

By the end of the ride, she was hesitantly, but willingly ~~ walking through sucking yucky mud.

We had a nice picnic at an isolated spot...well, what do you expect when you go to a State Park in the middle of the week?

Siera hammed it up for the if to say...gosh do I have to do that steep trail???
Up and down hills, past marvelous rock formations, cool mushrooms, gorgeous flowers, and a glimpse of wildlife...[WildCat is a wildlife refuge].

Under the canopy of the forest, it was cool and inviting. In the sun...well, it was hot.
The skies were a perfect blue with fluffy white clouds drifting lazily across....
The thrill of the day was when we came to Billings Creek. It is wide and deep as far as creeks go in the area.
Siera does NOT like water.
Fred took a step in and dropped his head for a drink.

Siera was urged to go in.
To our surprise, she went without much of a fuss.
In fact hubby and Siera played in the creek for a while. Siera got into the deep part of the creek...she got her belly wet!
Fred watched with a ho-hum attitude, while Rich and I were ecstatic!

After a nice ride [and more mud holes], we headed back...and had to cross the creek again.
Siera showed us how much it bothered her...
Some things you just cannot control.
We both told her that it was not polite to pee in the creek.
She wasn't listening.

We made it back to camp to discover that a really nice and large horse trailer had caught on fire while we were riding.
No one was hurt, the owners too had been out riding.
The FD doused it then dragged it into a field.
It was still smoldering when we went by to look.
As we sat on our critters and talked to the 'camp hosts', Siera learned another very important lesson.

Word got around locally that there had been a trailer the locals kept driving into camp and coming to look.
Siera had one reaction to the vehicles...then simply stood quietly while they passed her.

I think it was an extremely wonderful and powerful 'training' ride.
Siera showed good common sense, a grasp of quick learning, and my husband enjoyed his first real ride on her.

[I just hope he doesn't want to keep her for himself...!]

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Because I live in Ole and Lena Country...

Ole's Talking Dog

A guy is driving around the back woods of upnort Wisconsin and he sees a sign in front of a broken down shanty-style house: 'Talking Dog For Sale' He rings the bell and Ole appears and tells him dat the dog is in da backyard.

The guy goes into the backyard and sees a nice looking Labrador retriever sitting there.

'You talk?' he asks.

'Yep,' the Lab replies.

After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk, he says 'So, what's your story?'

The Lab looks up and says, 'Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA. In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping.'

'I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running. But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn't getting any younger so I decided to settle down.. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals.'

'I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I'm just retired.'

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks Ole what he wants for the dog.

'Ten dollars,' Ole says.

'Ten dollars? This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?'
'Dat's because he's a liar. He never did any of dat stuff.'

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The heat is on

Well at least it is warmer than we are used to.

Something different is going on!

We are seeing the sunshine. For 2 days in a row!

Of course my crazy schedule has kept me sleeping for most of it ... I worked the first shift and the third shift in the same day.
Crazy, but I volunteered for one of the shifts so I cannot really blame anyone.

I did sleep however, between shifts.

Yesterday afternoon's drive to work was utterly 'delicious'. The clouds were picture perfect and the sky was an incredible blue.

The sunset was brilliant.

No photos though as I was at work.
I stood and watched it over the river ... through a fence.
Not perfect, but still quite gorgeous as the skies lit up with colors of hot pink and purple.

At least I was outside and enjoying the best part of the day.

This morning I arose late and helped around the place by giving all the critters fresh water.
Even our hens seemed happy to have nice cool water.
I know the hounds thought it was wonderful.

On days like this I wonder why I even would want to wear would seem much more comfortable to go...well in the 'buff'.
I suppose though that would leave a person wide open to bug bites in places that we would wish they would not be!

Hmmm, with that thought I leave you and head off for another evening of fun [I don't say that sarcastically~~I really enjoy the people I work with].

Perhaps I'll get to recite this poem again tonight:

Star Light Star bright,
The first star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.