Friday, December 31, 2010

Topaz ReMask 3 Review

I tried Topaz ReMask 2 last year for 30 days. It was impressive, but in my book, I didn't use it often enough to warrant the price-tag it carried with it.

As always the folks at Topaz are always trying to improve their products. When I got an email alerting me to the fact that ReMask 3 was now out, I decided to download the trial and play with it.

My first task was to grab ANY old photo and ReMask it quickly and create something fast. I wanted to compare it to Elements Magic Extractor.

[this original has been horizontally flipped so it doesn't match some of the other photo presentations]
Using ReMask 3:
[simple fast about 5 seconds]
Close up of the mane on the donkey:
[not perfect, I could have edited more but I was going to put the 'cut out' on a black and white back-round]
The back-round is added:
Next Elements Magic Extractor:
[Not quite so easy, a bit harder to work with]
Final 'cut out':
[Areas are missed and I had to spend quite a bit more time editing the mane area and other areas that the Magic Extractor missed. Well, actually parts that I missed. This experiment was done rather quickly also. This was a result of 3 minutes work.]
The final product with Topaz ReMask 3:

The time from ReMask 3 to final creation was about 3 minutes.

Hands down, I saved time with ReMask 3.
Next I'll try ReMask 3 with a more difficult subject and see how well it does for the average user like me.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Great Laundry Experiment Failure Part 3

It started with *Getting your husband to fix the dryer ~ a plot* ... The dryer broke in the beginning of December.
The idea was to wash his clothes and let his towels and his pants feel like...well crispy and rough.
He would then take it upon himself to quickly fix the belt on the dryer.

The crispy rough pants and towels apparently were no motivator.

So by December 20th I was getting a bit desperate. I tried another attempt at getting the laundry done, this time in a snow storm.
My Laundry Experiment Failed.

After the snow storm ended and I left the laundry on the line in -20 degree weather with swift winds...I had wrinkle free clothes that smelled deliciously fresh and the towels did not even feel crunchy.

HE wasn't bothered in the least.

So I decided I'd take it to another level and give him a good hint. The bed sheets needed washing, but wait! It is foggy and supposed to rain [then freeze] in the next few days.

[Face to hands in mock horror, how will I dry the sheets in time with 93% humidity?]

So I hung the bedding out. It flapped in the cold damp breeze.

Drying it in dense fog was not working.

So I was struck by a stroke of brilliance.
Bring in the sheets and drape over everything I have in order to let them air dry inside the house.

Did that.

He came down from his afternoon nap to navigate his way through the living room [even the dog had a hard time!]...
His comment?

*Oh I we playing with the sheets and making like tent cities?* He chuckled and carefully made his way through the maze of lawn chairs, the vacuum cleaner and other things holding the sheets up.

You want to know what is funny and sad at the same time? I've sort of enjoyed all the clever ways I've found to dry laundry without the use of a dryer. I mean before it was a choice to hang everything.
Now I'm creative ... and hope for co-operative weather.

But really.
I'd like the convenience of a dryer.
~~~20 days and counting.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year's Eve

I don't get to excited about New Year's Eve like I used to as a kid. After all, when you get to be MY don't need all the extra reminders that time is creeping forward and everything is 'aging'.

[Hah...eldest son, you are getting older also!]

Normally I just go to bed on New Year's Eve and wake up the next day and try to remember to write the new year date properly.

This New Year's Eve looks to be an interesting one. According to the NOAA we are to expect a day of freezing drizzle, then a day of 42 degree weather with lots of rain...on New Year's Eve the temps are going to plummet and well...
welcome to the world of ice.

So I may be spending New Year's Eve with the Elders again. I wonder what fun they'll have cooked up for this night?
[I work New Year's Day and if we have rain, the gravel roads will turn into skating rinks]

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Magic

What do we look for in Christmas?

Some people ache for the spiritual side of Christmas.
Some people wish to find their childhood spirit of awe and wonder.
Some simply hope that they’ve done a good job on their ‘Christmas Shopping’ list.
Others seek for things to be as they were once upon a time.

Still there are those that gaze quietly at their brightly lit tree and long for forgiveness for wrongs imagined or real. Ornaments reflect light and glitter as songs are played on the radio. Songs that tell of ‘coming home’ of happiness, families torn apart reuniting…and world peace.

They reach out into the ‘magic’ of the night in the glow and dream of dreams coming true.

The mysterious snow falls gently outside. Perhaps if they could catch a bit of that magic and hold it in their hands

What dreams?
Dreams are ideas that you cannot hold in your hand, a dream can melt away like the magical snow held in your palm.

Each Christmas Eve comes with great anticipation of things that may come, that may happen, that may change. Perhaps it will be love lost that is found again. A relationship that was torn apart will heal itself.

Yet hope still lingers as the dawn begins to lighten the sky. Hope is something we can all hang on to. It is real, but it is an idea.

For those lonely people wishing for magic, it can happen. Sometimes the ‘magical’ idea of Christmas Eve; the tree, the lights, the atmosphere can set things in motion.

For a child it is simple.
It is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will bring childish joy.

For true Christmas Magic to happen, all that is needed is to watch a child gaze in awe on Christmas morning.

…and yet I sometimes wish that I could go back and be that child again…and believe.

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the Nite Before Christmas and under the tree...

'Twas the night before Christmas and under the tree...
Morris was resting
on his favorite place to be...

He shut his eyes to dream of
sweet lil' girls and boys
When suddenly at the stroke of midnight
alive came the toys...

They scramble and played
this was so much fun
For during the day,
They had to hide and play mum...

They pranced and they danced
the Teddy Bears joined in
There was magic in the air
Could it just be for them?

The toys were amazed
As a wondrous light shined on the tree
They could not believe their luck
For this night they'd been set free.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Call of the Wild

The woods were friendly today...okay, don't ask me how I know this, but it felt ominous the other day and today...

it felt nice.
I made the mistake of thinking I could find deer trails that were packed down enough to forego wearing my snow shoes.

We've had 33" of snow so far this month...that is a LOT of snow.
I broke trail as I followed my summer mule trail. It wasn't so bad really.
But I was fresh and was traveling light, no extra cameras or tripods to drag along.

I wanted to get down to the old coyote den by the creek and take a quick look around.

I didn't bring Morris so I wouldn't have to wait on him while he found deer 'poopsicles' to eat or other things that sometimes distract him.

Today I went the opposite way, following the creek's flow.

The sound of the water running was literally music to my ears. It was like a song of temptation leading me on.

Not only that, the view was absolutely stunning even in the gray and overcast day.

I shot photos until my old FujiFinePix Camera's battery ran out. I was fascinated by the ice formations but frustrated that I really hadn't time to set up for some really great shots.

[I'd promised to be home in an hour~~what idiot (me) can make that kind of promise?]

I was rushed and found that the slogging through over knee deep snow had made me slower than I thought.

I had to take a 'short cut' home. I climbed the steep hill and rested at the crest where the 3 stumps are.
I used a Gorilla-Pod to take a self portrait...

...and then crossed the electric fence and headed across the meadow towards home.
That was the most brutal walk I've experienced in a long time. Each step was either knee deep or deeper.

Was it fun?
Would I do it again?
Oh heck yes.

If I'd had my way, I would have continued for another half mile along the creek.
But I suppose a woman should go home and cook supper and do domestic-type thingies.

I can't help myself when I get the Call of the Wild in me.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Do you believe in Santa?

When I was a young of my sons asked me a question around Christmas time.

*Mom, do you believe in Santa?*

Oh the dreaded question every mother does NOT want to hear. Should I lie? Should I tell the truth? Should I relate the story about the playground fight when I was in 4th grade that happened because some kid had told me there was no Santa and I'd had a knock down drag out brawl with settle the facts of course.

Probably not.

I believed in the magic of Christmas Eve. I believed in the spirit of the Holiday, for what ever reasons. I loved the images of Christmas, the sights, the sounds, the music and the bright eyes on my children when they saw presents under the tree.

I mulled it over as my son stood before me. I couldn't lie, but I could find a way to tell the truth.

*I believe in the Spirit of Santa Claus, * I stated.
He nodded and turned away satisfied, I think.

I've refined that phrase a bit over the years.
I believe in the Spirit of Christmas.

Oh yes I do.

A night with the Elders...

The weather called for heavy inch and hour, topped with freezing drizzle and sleet. So I called my mother in law and asked if I could spend the night with her. Thus assuring that I could get to a clear highway and get to work in the morning.

She said yes, and I headed to her place in a town of about 250? ~~ and settled in at her small but cozy apartment.
Mom said that at 6:30PM, a bunch of the 'gals' were getting together to walk around and look at each other's apartments Christmas Decorations.

I thought to myself. Okay, that sounds boring, a bunch of old ladies ... I had brought a book and thought,...I'll read.
Instead mom said, *Come along! It'll be fun!*

Oh sure.
I was prepared to be bored out of my skull when I walked into the community room and looked around at all the gray haired ladies sitting around a long table.

Was I surprised.
I was greeted warmly and introduced all around. They were excited that I'd join them on their Christmas walk.
I was enchanted by their fun attitudes, the jokes they cracked as we walked from one apartment to the other to peek in on Christmas decorations.

I was floored when I met the 100 year old resident. She certainly did not look like she was 100! Nor speak, or act like it.
We eventually went back to the Community Room and had coffee and cookies. All the ladies discussed one thing or another.
Somehow the subject of helicopters came up.
I had to laugh, they were talking about being being flown in a medi-vac situation.

There was a discussion on the other end of the table about who died and their funeral, another one going on about comfortable mattresses...and one woman reminisced about living on her old farm.

When we finally broke up and everyone was getting ready to leave, a woman touched me on the arm and thanked me for coming.
Another stated, *Well now you know what old ladies do when we live in this kind of an apartment...we drink coffee and eat cookies!* She laughed.

I had really enjoyed my evening.
Shame on me, for thinking that it would be boring.

A night with the elders was pleasant indeed.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Laundry Experiment Failed

It failed...My plot to get the dryer fixed...!

The dryer failed on December 9th. So I plotted to hang out his jeans and the towels because they'd be 'crispy' and uncomfortable ... ergo ~~ he would fix the dryer, right?

He says: *Well, these are not so bad!*

And so the plot failed.
He hasn't even looked at the dryer yet.

So today I hung the laundry out again in a snow storm!

We'll see what the next few days brings.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

When it gets dark...

...light a candle and hum a song.
Think some happy thoughts.
Think about children's laughter and joy.
Or something that gives you joy just thinking about it...
Silly dog perhaps...
Or a silly mule...
Oh ... and remember, in the morning there will be another sunrise.
So it is not always dark....

Friday, December 17, 2010

Winter Wonderland

One pair of snow shoes.
One Jack Russell Terrier.
Two cameras [one pocket, one DSLR ~ what a pain to haul in the deep drifts].

After an arduous climb down a steep hillside [me thinking short cut] we arrived at the creek crossing. The one where we almost always cross with the mules in the summer.
Morris goes on alert after we find coyote scat and tracks.
As if he would do anything. I think he was more worried. We headed the opposite way.

The snow was deep in the valley, but it was also an incredible new scene to us.
Morris tired easily and walked on my snow shoes which was amusing to him, not to me.

I did pick him up a couple of times and carry him...

He had snow-swimming to do which is quite difficult for him...

After walking through the creek in several places and abusing my snowshoes, we headed up the hill road ~ which had not been used by man nor critter and I discovered I was fighting a build up of ice on my snowshoe cleats.

Try walking with a JRT in your arms, up hill with feet that feel like they weigh 40lbs a piece.
I didn't think to check my snowshoes for ice build up until we'd reached the top .

We had fun, we had adventure.
I had one tired dog.
And over 100 photos to dig through.
I'm looking forward to doing this again very soon.
I want to get to the spring, to the coyote den [no Morris won't go on that hike], I want to see the ice falls...

So much to see in this beautiful winter wonderland.
Wow, perhaps I'm not in such bad shape after all.

Giving of yourself

Can you really give of yourself?

No, I'm not talking about a gift that you go out and buy, wrap up, and hand over with warm fuzzy feelings.
Give of yourself.

You have to invest in the person you are giving to. Not with money but with your heart and sometimes your emotions.
This is true giving.

I picked her up at her house with the promise to drive her to a 'mediation' in the city. She was shaking like a leaf. The day was overcast, damp, dreary, gray skies threatened more snow. She commented that it was an ugly day.
I said, Perhaps it won't end up being so.

She looked like a bird that was cold and frightened. She'd never been through something like this before. She was afraid. Afraid of him. A person she'd been married to for a long time.
I'd seen 'him' sap the strength and confidence out of her all without even being in the same state. Today she would have to see him. She didn't want to speak to him.

I promised myself and her that I'd stand between her and him. I wouldn't speak a word, I'd just look at him. For some reason that seemed to comfort her.

I sat out in the waiting area while a short meeting went on between attorneys and the mediator, then they broke. I gave him a look as cold as I could from the depths of my heart.
He blinked. Then cast his eyes down and walked away.
Her attorney asked me to come into the room with the two of them.

None of what was being discussed was any of my business so I opened my laptop and began to work with graphic art and fractals.

At one point the attorney looked across the room and asked me a question about 'him'.

I said 'Vindictive Joy' is what he thrives on. I blinked, I wasn't even sure if what I said had made sense.

The attorney nodded and responded You nailed it.

The business was finished up. We were free to go.
HE was standing just outside the room we were in. She looked at me. I don't want to see him or talk to him...he's...he's doing it.

I nodded and smiled.
I walked out the door to collect our coats. He stood slightly in my way and my space. I looked him directly in the eyes, and slightly bumped him to get past him to the coats. His eyes widened. Not a word was spoken in that instant.
I turned my back on him and grabbed our coats.

I literally looked through him and walked past.

As we put on our coats her attorney came up to me and thanked me for being 'here' for her.
Would I come to court?

I would.

Not until I got home and sat down, did I realize how much I'd given of me, to help her.
She'd thanked me of course, and if asked, I'd do it again.

It was not much. But moral and emotional support is true giving.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sterling2 Freeware Fractal Generator

I found this while searching for a simple Fractal program that was free. It was fun to play with and then begin to edit deeply in Photoshop 7.0 and in Elements 5.

Sterling2 was fun, the each of the first of the images came from the original image ~ which is posted after it. All elements within the image came from the fractal itself. No components added.

It was a great respite from the bone chilling weather outside.

Great fun too!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My Frozen Ass? Badger update COPD

My cold ass. Okay, my cold mule.
He looks cold right?
He truly does!
I went out to feed him and there was not a shiver on his body. The snow and ice accumulation acts as insulation.

He got warmed water and hay of course and munched happily along.
His respirations?
Holy cow.
12 per minute. 9 per minute was what the norm was in his peak condition.

His COPD right now seems to be on a remission with no dust or extreme heat and humidity.
He is bright eyed and bushy tailed.
It has been 10 months since he has breathed this easily.

Oh, and when the sun came out? He warmed himself with the heat reflected off the building next to him.
For those concerned, he does have the option of going under cover when we get bad weather, but like most mules, he prefers not to.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Baby, it IS Cold Outside.

This is cold. This morning -15 no whine chill factor included.
I mean come on. When it is -15 degrees we all know that it is simply damn cold.
Freeze your skin cold.
Cover it up cold.

Don't walk around in heels and pantyhose cold.
Don't walk around without a hat and gloves [mittens] cold.

Don't pretend you are too 'cool' to get cold.

Pack stuff in your vehicle cold...
are you getting the point now?

I'll be enjoying this night at work partly outside. It is predicted to be -17 kind of cold without any wind chill factored in.
I'm going to be bundled up and enjoying watching my breath freeze and crack into the air!

Oh yeah, I'll be dressed for it too!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


We did not get 'out', the ridge road is blocked with 7' drifts. It blew in as fast as my huband could plow. The snow was beautiful, the winds howling, the branches and trees moaning. The winds created small white outs around our building. ...and Fred gives his opinion on the snow storm.

Lots of power outages today...but the snow really is quite beautiful.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Morris the Model~

So I get an email saying that my handcrafted ornaments are done of Morris.

I am thrilled to say that these are absolutely fabulous, fantastic, and will be heirlooms. The ornaments will not be put away after Christmas but displayed in my old hutch.

They were hand made by Christina Borders of Custom Pet Figurines.

You should definitely check this out if you have a special pet, ... and check out her other items which are totally awesome on their own.
I love her guinea pigs, so cute!

So here I sit watching the weather approaching [evil snow storm that could be a blizzard?] and know that soon these will be on their way to me.

When I recieve them, of course they will go on the tree [although my husband agrees that one of them will have to go to the grand kids so they too can enjoy Mr. Morris, the model!]

I'm also going to use this opportunity to shamelessly plug my last Morris Adventure Story called The Trail Tale.

I am awaiting Mr. FedEx guy who seems to forget where I live.
But that is another story.