Monday, November 30, 2015

Annual Christmas Photos ~ by Morris

I try my best to hide in my crate or pretend I am having an extreme nap session on the couch.
Alas, each year, she drags out all sorts of boxes and bags and begins the annual Christmas decorating.

Does she not know that this disrupts my life?  At first I think she is packing to go somewhere.  So I get worried.
Then I realize it is the Christmas thing that she is doing.  Out comes ribbons and ornaments and that old chair.  The living room becomes a disaster area.

Eventually that time comes.
She stands back after she puts everything back and then grabs her camera.

Out comes the red scarf.  Every year, the very same ... red scarf. There is only one time a year I wear that scarf.
And that is when she is going to attempt to take my photo in front of the tree, or the old chair, or well...whatever.

Her first attempt in 2005.  I sat on that old recliner she covered up with cloth ... 

2012: We both gave up and I just laid down and took a nap.  She'd taken the scarf off.

2013: I was cooperative.

2014: We tried something new.

This year she put the Christmas Chair in a different spot and we spent quite a time doing the ... "try and get a good pose" thing.

I sort of liked it because I kept getting pieces of dog cookie.

Oh wait, this picture is no good because the label of the scarf is showing and everything behind is all wonky. But the treat was good.

Then she pulled the scarf off.  I kept watching to see if she'd give me another treat.

The LED lights tossed off a blue cast of lights and the living room lamp tossed off yellow light.  She said things were not going the way she wanted to.
But I kept posing, even if I didn't have the scarf.

She finally gave up and decided to go with the flash and fix my eyes afterwards. She said they turned a funny color because of the flash.

Well there you go.  It took lots of work, but I think she might have...may have...maybe .... got the photo she wanted.  With the red scarf no less.

However, I am willing to try it again as I really love working for cookies.

Now she is saying that she isn't sure about this last shot.  She might have to do a 'do over'.
Good.  I hope she gets those treats out and we give it another whirl.

She is a sucker for a good photo and I'm a sucker for a good treat!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

And so holiday decorating begins

I guess I start decorating things just after Thanksgiving.  Sometimes I wait a few days [depending on my schedule] and sometimes I can't wait to get at it.

I moved the Christmas Chair to a different spot this year.  We finally got rid of that butt ugly orange-brown recliner that hubby got from either a grandmother or some far off distant relative.  Let me say I think it was a 1970's model.  No one except Morris really used it.

This year Morris won't have to get used to another spot for his crate, it can stay where it usually sits.  I think that will make him happy.

I purchased some battery operated LED lights that are on a thin wire this year.  I thought I'd try them.  They actually work wonderfully well.

I decorated a dresser top last night and this morning took a shot of it lit up.

Those little bitty lights are really bright!  

Yesterday afternoon I washed windows and walls.  I didn't feel like doing it, but it is the normal thing I do in preparation for putting up some decorations.  Besides, I'd held off washing the windows because I thought I'd have nice new ones by now.
Well, I can see out of the old ones!

This year I'm using not just the old wooden chair, but the Red Mule Crate and the Hillbilly Soda crate which are also both wooden and both pretty old.

Today is the last day of Gun Deer Season, hubby is out hunting and has spent almost every day of the season so far out in the woods.
He did get a doe on opening day.

I can't wait for the season to be over so I can hike the creek and look for frozen water encrusted grasses and other beautiful things.

I took these of the frost this morning.

I love the intricate designs that frost makes. I took these on the north side of the big shed.

And lastly, a couple of shots of the eagle I saw on the way back from recycling yesterday.

He was pretty far away and the zoom on the camera I was using wasn't the greatest, but there he/she was!

Friday, November 27, 2015

No we didn't

...skip Thanksgiving.

We just had a quiet early dinner with my mother in law, some nice home made pie, dressing, corn, and chicken.

It was delicious and we sat around with no TV going and enjoyed each other's company and just visited.

The rain kept coming down outside.  This morning the weather service said we'd had over an inch of rain in our area.

Well that makes things quite muddy.

So this morning we slept in and got up when we felt like it.

I have a couple of things I should pick up in town and an errand for my mother in law.  After we finish chores hubby will probably go hunting while I take care of errands and then make deliveries.

When I get back from that I'm going to do some extremely exciting things.

Like clean the house and drag out some decorations.

I've already created my Christmas cards on line and they will be ready for pick up next week.

I've already ordered one Christmas gift and am pondering what to get for the others.  

I'm not a black Friday shopper and I don't get into all of the crowds and crazy shopping.

I got some things dragged out and some cleaning done.  But man am I worn out.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

RAIN and Ornaments

We've had buckets and buckets of rain, it is surely dashing any chance for the construction crew to even think of digging our partial basement and beginning work on the remodel.

My face is not a happy face.  

So, I have 3 more days of impatiently waiting before gun deer season is over.

So I have decided to go ahead and do my major cleaning and bring in the Christmas Chair.
This year I am adding some other interesting things to go with the chair.
I'll let it be a surprise.

I just ordered 3 horse ornaments to go with my collection.

Who can resists this one?

This one?

And lastly, this beauty.

They are made by Westland Giftware ...
and...I can't wait, I feel like a little kid who put her hand in the candy jar and came out with the goodies!

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Hopefully it isn't too late in the season to start the remodel project, we finally got our closing date!

I know that Kurt had said we'd have to wait until spring for the front porch cement to be poured.  I just hope that it isn't going to be too late in the year for the other work to be done.

I know I am looking forward to that new porch.  It will be so nice to sit on it in the mornings and have coffee while watching over the critters.

In truth I'm probably letting my imagination get ahead of me here.

I'm looking forward to a new entry way also.  Hard to imagine what the finished part of it will look like.

Okay, probably not this either.

We will close on the financing this coming week.  It seemed to take forever.

I will be following this remodel with updates and photography [of course] as it goes along on The Little House Remodel blog.  Yes, a little blog about a little house getting a face lift and addition.

I'll get a link put on the sidebar for anyone who wants to visit things once we get rolling along.

Of course I will eventually have a real kitchen to work in.  Wow, can you imagine?  If you've ever been in my kitchen ... if it can be called that, you know it is beyond tiny.

Gosh, what a disappointment that you cannot ask for a kitchen to be built that actually comes with chefs.

Alas, I'll still be doing the cooking.

I plan on designing some things myself.  Oh no, not structure things! Goodness, I couldn't hammer a nail straight at all!

I've got some things in mind for designing my own shower curtains, window treatments, and bedspread.
I am working on an idea for a computer space that will not take up the room it does now.

We'll be getting a complete makeover which includes a new roof, new siding, new windows, and new flooring. Oh yes and a larger bathroom!

Nothing too fancy of course.

Alas there goes my imagination again!

Now if some magical fairy would come in and wave their wand over the poor collapsed garage, our place would look awesome.
But the garage is yet another project.  I think we'll have to look at that mess for a while yet.

Well there you go, as long as Kurt [Crooked Creek Construction] says he can do it, we are on....

Let's hope for a very mild December!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

3 days of working in the rain

Last night or early this morning we had another round of storms that added about 2" of rain to an already soaked ground.

We had begun our 'winterizing' projects a week ago and worked earnestly at them for the past 3 days.  Yesterday we worked nearly all day in rain.

Coveralls are good to have in nasty weather.
We cleaned the Jack pen on the east side of the shed and then moved on to the south side and began to work.  
There was a lot of shovel work involved as we had to scrape away and clean along the shed wall and shovel under the metal panels.

The sky literally looked as though it were boiling on and off above us today. Gusts of wind would switch around in our hollow.  It rained off and on and we slowly plugged away.
At one time it felt as though it were hailing, but to me it looked an awful lot like sleet.

Bob liked his new paddock on the east side of the shed, he could poke his head around and watch us work.  I think he was smirking at us.  After all we were cleaning his old pen.

We finished Little Richard's pen and moved him off the tie out and into his nice comfy new pen.  He trotted around and did some fancy kicking and bucking to show us his pleasure before he got down and rolled.  He got up and pranced around his enclosure as if he'd just won the lottery.  Such is the life of a crop out mini.
We fondly refer to him as our Guard Pony and our Organic Weed Wacker.
Summer shot of Lil' Richard hard at work.

I'm tempted to train him to ride.  He would make a very hand pony-moped.

Soon hubby had the area cleaned and we restrung the electric wire.  By dark we had things ready so we can move Dinah.  Fred, Siera, and Mica will get their own paddock to share and the rest of the gals will move into their winter quarters perhaps as soon as tomorrow.

In the summer the equine are on 'summer' pasture and just before gun deer hunting season we move everyone much closer in for the winter.  We can keep a closer eye on all of our animals and the stock tanks can all be plugged in so the farm critters can have warmed water.

It is like a ritual each year.  Spring ... out.  Winter ... in.

Another year has passed.

Archived shots of the girls playing in their winter quarters.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Textures and photos, and the Grunge Movement.

Textures, grunge frames, overlaying of colors to a photograph seem to have finally caught on with the folks who teach Photoshop classes now.

You can even purchase a Texture stand alone, or plug-in program by Topaz Lab . I think they just released it last week.  I tried it, but decided I like the old way of doing things. Looking or creating layers myself and adding them together to come up with a 'piece'. Their plug in hated my processor and crashed non stop, so I ended up uninstalling it and going back to the drawing board.  

I first tried overlaying textures in 2008 and I can tell you I was pretty bad at it.

As I kept at it and reading and experimenting with it, I started seeing some improvement.

I even went a bit with the Grunge Look.  

However I do like straight shooting and not spending hours trying to edit a photo into a Grunge Fine Art Piece.

Fine Art Grunge Courses...Grab it now for only $395!
Oh wow.
I think I will pass.

I then tried some subtle 'Grunge' and Textures.  I found in certain images it really added a special feel to it.

Villa Louis in Prairie du Chein, WI.

Then there is all the reason in the world to experiment with Grunge, Textures, and ... composites.

This photo of a hound dog is my favorite.

So each year when November comes along and things are very dreary, I re-address other forms of artwork.  Sometimes it is graphic art and 3D type of fractals, other times I see what I can compose with a photo.

Yesterday I took some late afternoon shots of some of our mules.

I did edit them.

Old Mules:

A bit of texture added and vignetting.

Below is a screen shot of my workflow for this last edit.

Original shot:

then the final outcome.

I look at it now and think it could use a bit more work, so I may take this back to the drawing board...or PaintShopPro and do a little more.
It isn't growing on me at all.  I like a softer backround and this is a bit too rough...

It is all according to personal taste and perhaps the fun of being able to alter something.

I've googled some photos regarding Grunge Wedding Photography.  In my own opinion, this is something a bit far out.  Some images just look dirty, which is what grunge is all about.  The Grunge Look.

Not sure this will catch on with me.  I'll dabble here and there but let's just say it doesn't tickle my creative bone too much. for now...

Friday, November 13, 2015

Gusty Winds

So the NOAA for our area put out wind advisories with gusting winds up to and above 50 mph.

Yesterday morning precisely at 6am, the winds picked up sharply and we heard something shatter in the woods and felt a thump.

An old oak tree that was dead had given in to the high winds and had come down.
We went out to do chores and thankfully the worst of the winds were above us on the ridgetops.

We live in a slight hollow and are sometimes protected from the high winds depending on which direction it is coming from.

While doing chores we heard two more trees crack and fall in the distance.
One thing for sure, the high winds were going to keep us out of working in the woods today.

After the winds die down later today I will go out to check the fences in both the woods and the meadow.

By next week at this time all of our critters will have to be moved to their winter lots.

Count down to Gun Deer Season is 8 days.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Night sky

An attempt at the stars in September during the Super Moon Eclipse.

Partial eclipse.

Laying on my back after sunset.  Very long exposure.  See the white spot amongst the moving clouds?
A star....

The clouds after sunset.  Looking west.  The sunset itself was rather blah.  This 131 second exposure should make up for it.

Afternoon Jaunt

After my big adventure over the weekend, I ached for some more fresh air and hiking.
I like to hike.

I put together a few things and off Morris and I went.  Hubby went to take a nap and said he wanted me to wake him up in about an hour and a half.

I marched down the ridge road to the creek and started up our dry run.  It didn't seem to be much of a challenge after my last adventure with the kids.  However I did climb all the way to the ridge across mossy rocks and boulders.

Each year it seems another tree falls into the dry run.  There was a bit of crawling and scrambling to get through.  Morris however, took the easy way and followed a deer trail right above me.
I'm sure he wondered what was wrong with me.

This old oak will probably go with the next huge gully washer.  It has been hanging on for years and I am amazed that it is still upright.

We got to the edge of our land and watched through the trees as a huge combine picked corn.  

It is that time of year again, when photography in the woods feels pretty mundane and boring.
The landscape is not beautiful.
So I am going to try and find some photographic inspiration somehow.

Perhaps I'll have to dig into my black and white 'magic pouch' and see if I can come up with something worth looking at.

All in all, I hiked at least one mile with a change of elevation of 200 ft, which makes for a nice workout.
We found some deer trails, but nothing heavily used enough to clear the leaves off the path.

Morris and I made it home in time to wake up hubby and get chores done.

I found some wild parsnip and sauteed them in pesto sauce.  Wow, was that ever good!

Monday, November 09, 2015

Can You come over and Play??

...Or lets introduce Val to the basics of rock climbing.

There was a phone call on the answering machine from our ex-neighbors.  "Hey the kids are missing you, can you come by for a hike with us for a bit this afternoon?"

Ben and Terri moved away to a rental home last month. It isn't too far away, perhaps about 12 miles.  
I've known the family since 2009 when they became the new owners of the house at the top of the hill.  

We shared a driveway and a sense of 'adopted' family.  
Terri is the same age as my youngest son and I've seen her family grow as well as babysitting for her over the years.

So off I went to go for a hike at the home they are staying in until they get ready for their next home.

Before I could put the Subaru in park, the kids and Terri were blasting out of the house.  

"Hi Val!" they hollered and the kids came on the run.  I got hugs from them all.
Pretty quick Terri got Dutch and Manny, their dogs and we were ready for the hike.

The place they are renting is in a deep valley, there is a beautiful rock outcropping high above the house and a deep rocky dry run that runs down through the property.

The kids led the way up the trail, which we old timers call a 'ridge road'.  Brier who will be 5 soon, stopped me and told me that we would cross a bridge and that it was a very safe bridge and he could help me.

We crossed the bridge over the dry run and the kids dropped into the 'gulch'.  
"Come on Val," they said, "Let's go, we want to show you the cool rocks we have here."

At the beginning, it sure looked innocent enough.  Terri had Dutch on a leash and said she had to go up to the trail because Dutch couldn't climb.

Of course I just thought to myself.  Dutch is very old and has a hard time negotiating mossy rocks.  

Brier waved me on, his sisters had gone ahead.
"Come on Val!"

Then we came to an area that reminded me of a gulch.  We walked in among the rocks and the girls simply disappeared around the corner of a sandstone formation.

Brier waved to me, "Come on!" he said, "We get to climb here!"  

I followed figuring this wouldn't be such a big deal.  After all the kids were doing this, how hard could it be?

How hard could it be?
The ledge where Ambrosia is braced is about 5 ft off the rocks below her.  We were in a circle of sandstone carved over the years by water into a circle.  When heavy rains occurred on the ridge or a large snow melt occurred, the waters would rush down this 'dry' run and cascade off the boulders and rush down the valley.

I stopped and watched.  
"You guys have done this before?" 
Ambrosia answered while trying to wiggle herself into a position so she could climb the boulders above her.
"Oh yes!" she answered, "With Dad!"


Brier tugged my sleeve.
He said, "You need to help me and Clover get up on the ledge."
Clover turned and said, "If I get a boost, I can get up there."

I looked down at Brier, his 5th birthday was a month away and here he and his sisters were climbing fearlessly doing basic real rock climbing moves.

Surely an old fart like myself could figure it out.

I boosted Clover to the ledge and she struggled and I kept as close to her as possible until she made it over the boulders and to safety.  Ambrosia had laid over one boulder and extended her hands to pull Clover and steady her.

Next was Brier.
I don't have the strongest upper body, but I managed to get Brier on to the ledge.  Both sisters lay across the boulders above to offer a hand.  I climbed half way and hung on by bracing my legs against stone.
I put my hands under Brier's feet so they wouldn't slip and he continued to climb.

Finally he was up and over and it was my turn.  
Okay.  An 11 year old, 9 year old, and a nearly 5 year old had just done this, right?

I got safely onto the ledge and had to stop and think. There were no hand holds to get a safe grip.  The climbing had to be done with bracing.  I couldn't brace with my back as I had my camera sling pack on.
I wiggled around and got situated to go over the mossy boulders.

Ambrosia came back and offered a hand. 
"Need help?"  

"Just stay there while I rest a moment," I replied.  My heart was pounding.  This was hard!

I was able to grasp enough of the rock to pull myself over and up.

Climb completed.
Ambrosia turned to catch up with her brother and sister.

"There's one more," she said over her shoulder.

I turned and looked down.

That was a climb!

The next one was a bit tricky too, but I was able to climb it after helping Clover and Brier.  When I got to its top, the dry run became quite a bit tamer.

At the top of the second climb we meet Terri and Dutch.  
I chided her for 'misleading' me on the little bit of rock climbing I'd just done.

I said, "Jeeze Terri, I'm 59 years old!  I've never climbed rocks like that before!"  I laughed and she replied.

"Val, our intention is to never let you get old."
I grinned like a kid.  

I looked back down after we'd gotten up further.  It was beautiful, even in November.

I followed them to the top of the dry run.  Ambrosia took a side trip in order to climb and old tree and its roots that were hanging on the side of the huge ditch.

The kids loved climbing.
I thought how wonderful it was to see them so confident in their abilities. 

Children need this sort of activity or something like it.  I can recall being the Queen of antics on the Monkey Bars in school and being called a Monkey by my mom with my tree climbing abilities.

I still had it at my ripe ... old... age.

We walked up to the ridge and investigated a doe that had been killed by coyotes.  The kids looked down into the rib cage and I told them that this kill wasn't that old, perhaps 24 hours only.
I showed them that half of the lungs were still there.  I didn't present the deer kill as gross or scary, just as a curiosity.

The kids called it "Cool."

We followed the ridge road back down to the house. After the rocky adventure, it was quite mundane.

I fell asleep last night thinking about how exciting it was climbing those rocks.
And as I drifted off to slumber-land, I wondered if I was too old to take up a new sport.