Monday, March 31, 2008

Excellence in Blogging award

I have had the honor of being awarded the "This Blog is Rated E for Excellent" award by Leslie at The Pedalogue. I've been reading Leslie's blog since January and we've been visiting each other back and forth. Leslie lives in Vancouver and in 2006, took an early retirement from teaching, although I think she must miss it some because she still continues to tutor young scholars. I enjoy reading her interesting posts and she's been one of my 'role-model' blogs.
I started this blog on December 26, 2007. I began blogging because I wanted to share my pictures with my sisters and some friends. I thought a blog would make a nice backdrop for my photographs. Although I'm not much of a writer, I really did it more as an outlet for my photography rather than my writing skills. I didn't open it to the public until a short time afterwards and now am enjoying a regular stream of visitors that I love hearing from. When people comment to tell me they really like a post, it makes it all worth it. I'm also liking that I can share my love of nature and the simple pictures I enjoy taking. One person wrote me and told me that she lives in the city and the only nature she sees is the two trees in front of her apartment building, ending by thanking me for sharing my pictures and my life. If my blog can make people smile, then I'm happy.
I read many interesting blogs and it's going to be so difficult to just choose ten of them to nominate this Award for Excellence. So I won't even try. I'm awarding everyone who I think deserves this award. So here goes:
I'd like to award the following, in alphabetical order, for the Excellence in Blogging Award.
To Josie at C'est La Vie, whose site I can't go a day without. Like Leslie, she lives in Vancouver, and they know each other and are friends who met through blogging. Josie is an accomplished artist, and posts her work on her site. She's an excellent writer and always has something interesting to say and I find her charming. I've learned so much visiting both her site and Leslie's.
To Miriam Lovell Dyer, a professional photographer who lives in Queens, NY. Miriam's photo assignments are always interesting and her photographs are inspiring. I love visiting her site and seeing what's new in her life. She posts some of her subjects and her pictures of children and weddings are my favorites.
To Christine, at Hogue Chronicle, who has been instrumental in helping me achieve the confidence to continue to post every day. Through her kind words and the visitors she has sent my way, I began to have a small following of people who frequent my blog. Maybe she never knew how I felt, but she will now. Visit her site which she's had for many years, and look at the pictures she takes. She's always suggesting interesting blogs to visit, as well. And if you're into organization or need to acquire those skills, this is the site for you.
To TJ at Humble Origins. Now, TJ doesn't post every single day, but it doesn't matter. When she does, it's witty and interesting. She was my very first visitor to leave a comment aside from my sisters and she's always been so supportive of me. Go visit her site and see her wonderful primtive creations made with her antique treadle sewing machine. TJ lives in a rustic log home in Missouri.
To Russell, at Iowa Grasslands, whom I met through Josie and Leslie. Russell tells us that he's a recovering attorney, who is now teaching law at a local community college near Des Moines, Iowa while helping to care for his aging parents some weekends. Russell was raised on a farm and has a lot of interesting posts concerning the old days, but not only that. Russell gets you thinking and I do enjoy visiting his site. Sometimes it just takes me back to a simpler time.
To Mary at the Little Red House, whose site is also a must-visit for me on a daily basis. Her photographs are artful, tasteful arrangements of her belongings from beautiful dishes to gorgeous flower arrangements. The other day she posted a picture of her cat lapping at a bowl of cream with the post that she just wanted us to feel as good as a cat who's found the cream bowl. Mary has exquisite taste and is a kind-hearted soul. She's a joy to visit.
To Jeannelle, at Midlife by Farmlight. Don't you love that name? Jeannelle lives on a dairy farm in Iowa and assists her husband in its management. She's involved in her community and her church. She posts every single day and is quite the photographer in her own right. I think maybe she doesn't think so. But if you visit her site, you'll see what I mean. Jeannelle's light shines through both her pictures and her words and I find comfort in visiting her site.
To Tammy, over at The Color of Home, who's got a really interesting ghost story going on at her place. In fact, she's got me hooked on it. She's had so many inquiries about it that she began a new blog just about the story itself. It's called My Paranormal Journal. Now normally, I don't go for that sort of thing, but if you start at the beginning, you'll see why it's such a good read and you'll understand why I got hooked. The Oklahoma Paranormal Society has asked for permission to film the current happenings at her home. Tammy and I have been visiting each other's sites since the beginning, too.
To Meg, at Lucchese to Louis Vuitton, who is a new blog that I've just begun visiting. Meg lives in Texas and is just such a fun person. She's a go-getter and a networker. She's on a health kick right now and is inspiring me, once I get off this bum knee, to get back into shape in both my health and my life. Her site is different from any of the others I visit and I feel really girly when I'm over there. I find myself getting the urge to shop, maybe for a designer purse or some flip flops! I just can't help it.
To Cathy, at Noble Pig, the Californian who is new to blogging but who is gaining quite a following already. Cathy's blog is a little about food, a little about wine and a lot about nothing. Now, mind you, these are her words. She and her husband are building a vineyard in Oregon from the ground up and she's invited us along for the ride. Cathy is a wine enthusiast whose reviews leave me in stitches. She also posts recipes the likes of which I've never seen before. You'll see what I mean when you visit.
To Kacey, at Wine On the Keyboard, whose blog I've been visiting daily since I began. Kacey bills herself as a boomer-blogger and has so many interesting tips and sidebars on the business of blogging. She's also an avid photographer and lives with Super Guy. He builds her things. You'll see what I mean when you go to her site. I also like it when she posts pictures of Super Guy. Did I just say that out loud?
There are many more blogs I visit and they can be found on the left tab of this page.
To these blogs I've nominated:
By accepting this Excellence In Blogging Award, you agree to award it to 10 more people whose blogs you find Excellent Award worthy. You can give it to as many people as you want but please try to award at least 10. You deserve this! Feel free to recognize blogs that have already received this award.

Another offering from my husband

In previous posts, I've mentioned that my husband often brings me back things he finds on his walks in the woods. A couple of years ago, he brought back this lovely accoutrement for our shed. It's really a big hit in our neighborhood, and everyone wants one, but I sometimes wonder what our visiting deer friends think.
Actually, my husband hasn't brought me anything for well over a month now, but he did bring back a story today that he's just finished telling me.
I thought you'd find it interesting, too.
There are lots of trails that lead to different places nearby our home. One particular trail will take you to what we've always called our sitting spot. There's a big downed pine tree to sit on and directly behind it, there's a tree, so when you sit on the pine, your back's at a perfect angle and it's quite a nice spot to view the marsh it faces.
Today my husband decided to take the trail to the sitting spot. And because it's his day off, he took a beer with him. He told me that when he finally got there, he got comfortable on the log and then opened his beer with his pocketknife. He took a sip and said it was really good. George had gone off for some exploring and as my husband sat there, he said it was so quiet and peaceful and all he could hear were the birds. It was a good day.
Then he heard a whoosh above him. And when he looked up, he saw that an owl had landed in the tree next to him, about 10 feet away. He wasn't sure what sort of owl it was, but he said it looked really happy. Like it had a happy face. At this point, I asked him if he'd taken one of my pain pills, but he says he didn't.
It was a big gray owl and it had no ears, he said. The owl was looking straight ahead and then turned its head completely to the side and looked directly at my husband with its black eyes. They stared at each other. My husband says that he smiled at the owl and then took another sip of his beer. The owl continued to stare at him. For several minutes, they sat in silence. Just looking at each other. And smiling. And then there was a slight noise from afar, and they both turned to look. It was George returning.
The owl and my husband looked back at each other. The owl kept looking towards where George was coming from and finally, he took off and landed in some trees across the marsh.
He wasn't sure exactly what kind of owl he'd just spent time with, so when he came home and told me this story, my husband got out the bird books. See how exciting it is at my house?
The best pictures were found in our Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds. They have real photographs in this one, and my husband found exactly what he was looking for.
A barred owl is a large and stocky owl, gray-brown with cross-barring on the neck and breast and streaks on the belly. No ear tufts. They're 20-inches in length and they live in low, wet woods and swamp forest.
The book goes on to say that this owl is seen only by those who seek it out in its dark retreat, usually a thick grove of trees in lowland forest. There it rests quietly during the day, coming out at night to feed on rodents, birds, frogs, and crayfish. If distubred, it will fly easily from one grove of trees to another.
My husband wasn't really looking for anything today, other than a quiet place to sit. And I guess he and the owl just happened to be looking for the same thing at the same time.
I enjoyed this little story he told me. So you see, he actually did bring me something home today.
Chouette rayee/Barred Owl, courtesy of Meantux,

Sunday, March 30, 2008

My EB Ice machine

Because so many of you have questions about the EB ice device that I've been using, I've put a link to it. I enjoyed the funny comments on previous posts, such as "can I use it for my head?" (Perhaps after a night of too much wine?) Why, yes, I do believe you could wrap the contoured pad around your head. But you've got to promise to take a picture of yourself having done so, and post it.
Another thing I'll address is that I really don't like posting anything negative, like my worries and my maladies. I just want to keeep some things to myself. Besides, I don't like people knowing how crazy I really am and someone has told me that I already say way too much. I'm just going to take that with a grain of salt. Or even put it in my pipe and smoke it.
I really don't have a pipe. It's just an expression I've always used. And I'm not really that crazy.
So many of you have sent well wishes and I'm truly touched. I'm getting around much better and am only using the pain pills for recreational purposes at this point.
Just making sure you're listening.
Tomorrow, I go back to work and I really wish I had a couple more days of recuperation, but I'm pretty tough and I can do this. I've really enjoyed being home and doped up for the past few days, having the chance to visit all your wonderful blogs. It's been a nice escape and it's been good to catch up on what's going on in your lives.
So to all of you who have wished me well, thanks! I hope I've answered your questions about the ice machine. And yes, I did change my profile picture. I got bored. I'm not planning on coming completely out of the closet. That would be way too scary.
And now, I think I have some laundry to do. Oh, and the picture I posted is of a section of a pansy bud. They're not as beautiful as roses, but I love the beautiful curves and the buttery color.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Pansies and collard greens: perfect together

It's Saturday morning on the farm and George has gotten me up early. My husband is already at work and had just taken George for his little morning walk. But George was home now and wanted me to play. It's 6:30 AM, puppy! And so I got up.
I took these pictures a few days ago. My husband tilled our garden last weekend and planted collard greens on Wednesday evening. The pansy bud picture was taken that same evening.
The second pansy picture was taken just this morning. The sun was shining on it and I'd just gone outside (read: hobbled outside) to feed the cats and saw that the little pansy bud was blooming. So back inside to get my camera and get a picture. This all takes a long time because I am moving just a little slow. See how full my life is here?
I came back inside to put my leg up and attach my ice apparatus. See, it just keeps getting better. I had poured myself a cup of coffee, set my cell phone by my little couch and attached my ice and proceeded to try to get myself wedged into my seat and ended up grabbing the coffee cup by mistake and spilling it all over my cell phone and my camera's storage disk.
Can you guess what I cleaned first? The phone can wait. Now that the mess is cleaned up and I've made sure my cell still works, and I'm sitting here, after finally getting the disk to work, I realize that I really really need a pain pill. Darnit! I wasn't going to blog about my little problems!
My goal for today is to finally get my bandages off. And I want to actually sit outside. The weather in Maryland today is sunny and nice. So I'm planning on finding an extension cord for this ice bucket device. I'm going to accomplish this! People have offered to come over and help me, but I'm ok, really I am. My husband will be home later and of course, I have George here who brings me squeaky toys. Which I'm tossing in the living room for him.

My life is complete.

Oh, I would like to publicly thank Margie, our art teacher at school, for the sweet and thoughtful basket of cheer she sent me in the mail yesterday. Margie sent me all these cool little things to cheer me up: my favorite soaps, candles, little chocolates and a CD she'd created herself and had made a cover for and titled it "Kate's Get Well Music". Because she's an artist, Margie handmakes all her own cards and this one is beautiful. Thanks again, my friend.

And now, where's that pain pill?

A girl and her dog

A couple of weekends ago, I visited my friends in Jersey. Adrienne had just gotten a new dog and I'd yet to meet the new pup. While I was there, we had a relaxing couple of days and even though it rained most of the time, we managed to take a walk in a local park and get some pictures of Josie the Wonder Pup when the sun miraculously came out for a bit. For this picture, I used the fake duotone effect I learned from Scott Kelby's CS2 Photoshop book which can be found in this post that I published recently. I really like how this photo turned out. Earlier this week, I was busy working on drafts for a couple of future posts (like today's), while I'm on Spring Break. Because I'm not travelling anywhere, I'd scheduled all sorts of fun things to do this week which included going to the dentist (gah) as well as an endoscopy on my knee (joy and rapture). Since I'll be laid up with the knee thing for a little while, I had been trying to get in as much walking as I could and stocking up on my picture files. You never know when they'll come in handy. Such as this one, of a girl and her dog. They make a happy couple, don't they? Here's the original photo below, along with the other two I liked. I really like them better in the duotone effect, if I must say so myself. The Weekend Guessing Game will return next Friday. I totally forgot about it this week! Please forgive my relapse. It must be the pain pills I'm on . . . (yes, let's blame it on the pain pills.)

Friday, March 28, 2008

God bless the moon

I see the moon,
The moon sees me
God bless the moon,
And God bless me.

~ A nursery rhyme

Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed
to see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

~ A nursery rhyme from the 1700's

When I was a young mother, I used to sing my children to sleep. I had purchased a tape by Kevin Roth, a local singer/songwriter of children's music, who lived nearby Kennett Square, PA. After their nighttime ritual of reading a book, I'd sing a few songs and these moon songs were always at the end, followed by Star Light, Star Bright, first star I see tonight . . .
These are good memories that I keep in my heart.

My husband called me to the back door the other night to show me the moon rising because he knew I'd want to take a picture. The photos I took didn't turn out like I'd hoped. The moon was actually more orange than this, but I couldn't get it to look 'real' in photoshop, so I left it like you see it here, how it came out of the camera. Working on the moon pics in photoshop, well it just made me think of these little songs.
An update to my knee is that I'm doing great. I always post the night before, so this post will say tomorrow's date on it. I had the surgery today and I'm great. Thanks so much for all your words of encouragement via the comment button as well as through my e-mail. They really meant a lot to me and cheered me!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

One last big one before I'm down for the count

Isn't this beautiful? This is one of the horse farms that's adjacent to the farm on which we live. Today I walked to this view.
I've only mentioned it in passing because I don't want to talk about anything too personal on this site but, because I have off from work, I've scheduled knee surgery for tomorrow. Fun, eh? I'm not going to dwell on it, however, in my mind or on this site.
So today I decided to take one last Big Walk with George while I'm still able.
When I moved here about 10 years ago, I could run and hike with the best of them. Today, not so much.
The trails were also much clearer 10 years ago, too. Today, cart roads that used to run through the woods are covered with fallen trees and it's more difficult to get around. The trails close by our home are well-maintained, however, and I pretty much stick to these.
So today, I went on a trail I haven't been for several years, just to see how far I could go. I still don't have the capability to put captions under my photos, so please bear with me.
I used to be able to walk in the cleared area between the woods edge and the fenced paddocks you see here, but these days, the wild rose bushes have taken over and you can't get through. So I climbed over the fence and walked inside the field.
The very top photo was taken inside the field and I wasn't planning on staying too long because once the horses find out you're in there, they're gonna come a-runnin' to see what's up. And you never know what will happen then, but I think I could hold my own with them. It's my dog I worry about and what he'll do. He's still a youngster. The fence looks huge from this angle, doesn't it?
I come to the ditch with the washed out cement pipe. This used to be an embankment 10 years ago and it was covered with earth and grass. When Hurricane Floyd came through about 7 years ago, it washed it almost completely out. It's disinegrated even more since then. The water level is low, though, so I crossed the ditch today (and got one of my boots completely covered with mud). But it'll dry.
I climbed another fence and ended up in a horse paddock and took it to the far edge. Here is where there used to be a lovely cart road that ran for about 1/4 mile through overhanging trees and when you got to the end, there was a hill and a sitting place. I used to come here all the time. But today, years later, the beautiful trees have fallen over the cart road and it was an obstacle path and I eventually gave up.
This is also the place where I sprained my ankle badly about 6 years ago, 2 miles from my house. That was a tough walk home. So I'm really careful here today. George is getting a little tired, as evidenced by his tongue!
He's also found some muck to splash in and in this last picture, he's completely covered from his belly down. He's in heaven. Look at how happy he is.
I don't want to be the one to tell him that I can't walk with him for a little while. He'll find out soon enough, though.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

George on patrol again

We've got all manner of animals that occasionally habitate the paddocks here at the farm. Usually, it's just the horses. But the deer also live here and they pass through regularly. When the apple tree's in bloom, they'll be here every single evening. We also have several fox, birds of all sorts, beaver that live down by the pond in the woods, and most recently, a groundhog has taken up residence in our shed out back.

George is on top of it all. He's pretty content to have the horses in the field behind our house, but when deer come, he'll bark and run towards them, like he's doing in the top photo here.
In the last photo, he's spotted a fox. Maybe I should have let him out of the fence so he could go chase it. But not today. He's just keeping his eye on that fox.
I hope you didn't come here for the excitement. You can find that elsewhere. This is just quiet country life on a horse farm. So, calm down and relax. You're among friends. Especially a big furry one who'd love for you to take him on another walk.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Chuck Norris gives me a photo tip

In one of my posts a couple of months ago, I mentioned that Chuck Norris had been at my sister's wedding. People commented and said I should write about that, but what I didn't mention was that Chuck also gave me a photography tip that I still use today.
Really, he did! Read on, if you don't believe me.
My youngest sister, Ginny, got married to the guy of her dreams 11 years ago. Since they lived in California, they wanted to marry out there somewhere and settled on a resort about an hour north of Vegas, in the little town of Mesquite, Nevada. The hotel was fantastic, and they reserved almost a whole floor for their guests. All of my family flew out, as did his, and their friends came from far and near. We had a lot of fun at that wedding and I remember it with fondness.
The complex was equipped with a large beautiful pool, with a swim up bar and everything was beautifully landscaped. It was so nice sitting by the water with my family and sharing laughter and just being together. The wedding was also held outside, by the pool, in a little area they had staged just for such occasions.
On the morning of the wedding day, as we were waiting to process towards the altar, I heard a whisper going through the crowd and everyone was saying that Chuck Norris and his entourage were hanging out by the pool. We'd seen Chuck the day before when he'd shown up, so it was no surprise that he was there, but he was sitting right by the chairs reserved for the wedding guests, almost like he was attending my sister's wedding. In his bathing suit. I tried to keep focused on my task, which was to walk to the altar. Do not look at Chuck. In his bathing suit.
The wedding went smoothly. My sister was extraordinarily happy and it was a beautiful day.
So, you see, Chuck Norris did come to my sister's wedding. And crashed it, if you want to get technical about it. He sat by and watched the whole thing.
I got my photo tip from him the next day when my family and I were all outside sunning ourselves by the pool. Ginny and Jay had a beautiful little honeymoon cottage way over on the other side of the pool. Very private and nice. They had come out of their cottage and had just joined us. My sister, Judy, was there with her then-boyfriend (who is now her husband) who is a dead ringer for Kevin Costner. In fact, during our stay at the resort, and because celebrities like Chuck had been spotted, people were actually asking Rick for his autograph and calling him Kevin. Ok, I'll get on with it because you know how I digress all the time.
Judy noticed Chuck and his group had just shown up again, and was sitting by the pool. She wanted me to take a picture of her and Rick with Chuck, but she said she needed to change out of her bathing suit first and fix her hair. So she ran upstairs and a little while later she returned looking gorgeous, and asked my cowboy brother, Pete, to go over and ask Chuck to pose for a picture with her. Pete's brave like that. Especially when he's wearing his cowboy hat. Which really went well with that bathing suit hewas wearing, I might add.
Chuck's a nice guy in real life, and he willingly obliged. He asked where we were from and chatted with us a little bit. In front of everyone in his group, and those in our family, Judy went on to gush about how her sister, Katy, was going to take the picture, because "well, she's just such a good photographer and she takes all the family pictures". Then she handed me her camera, a little 35mm, which she assumed I'd know how to operate. "Oh", she went on to say, "her pictures are so good." So, I stood there with my sister's camera, perhaps I was a little bit starstruck, or maybe it was the two Long-Island iced teas I'd just drunk, but I stood there and although I'd managed to actually turn the camera on, nothing was happening when I looked through the viewfinder.
And that's when Chuck said, in front of my whole family, in front of everyone, "Um, Katy, you really need to remove the lens cap first."
I was really embarassed, but managed to laugh it off, take a good picture, and sit back down. In fact, everyone was laughing. Here my family was all saying, "Oh, let Katy take the picture, she takes good pictures." And I couldn't even remember to take off the darn lens cap. Anyway, I got over it pretty quick. I'm good like that.
And to this day, every time I use my camera, I still use that important tip that I got from my pal, Chuck, that day. It's really come in handy.
Here's the photo I took of my sister Judy, Chuck Norris, and Rick, by the pool at the resort in Mesquite, Nevada. Chuck was still smirking about the lens cap thing, as you can see.

Monday, March 24, 2008

New favorite

For those who visit Noble Pig's blog, please know that I am not trying to copy her. She does post pictures of wine labels and goes on to give a clear and accurate description of the wine she's featuring.
I've always liked taking pictures of the labels of the wines I enjoy and when I saw her site for the first time, I was happy to find a kindred spirit who also enjoyed photographing her wine labels. I am doing the picture only. Unfortunately, the awesome description of the wine is not going to be forthcoming.
Have you ever heard that Alison Krauss song, "New Favorite"? I'm always having new favorites of things I like. I never was one for easily answering questions such as "what is your favorite color?" Because today, my favorite color may be orange, whereas yesterday it was black. Not that I was in a bad mood yesterday, but you get my point, don't you?
Let me state that I am not, by any means, even in the slightest bit, a wine connoisseur. I'm probably like most people, who know that wine is made from grapes. Pity us, you connoisseurs of the noble grape out there. We are but simple morons. I know what I like and I know what tastes good, though, and over the weekend, when I went into a local wine store, there was a sampling being offered. In good wine glasses, nonetheless, and not those tiny little plastic cups. I forget the name of the wine I tasted, only that it was a Pinot Grigio from Australia and I was expecting something really good (probably because of the glasses). But after sipping it, I told the gentleman I didn't like it at all. I couldn't even finish it. I'm not a snob; it just tasted really bad.
When I pour myself a glass of Frei Brothers Chardonnay 2005 Reserve, I am uplifted to a place where sheep graze in meadows of deep green and little fairies rain down pixie dust on my skin and suddenly I am flying above everything. Then I open my eyes and realize I'm at home, on the horse farm where I live and there's a fly I need to swat.
And then I take another sip and . . . I'm transported back to the meadow and the little sheep are running now and . . . Holy Guacamole, Batman, what was in that salad I had for lunch?
Ok. Seriously. This wine is pretty decent. I picked up a bottle when I visited my girlfriends two weekends ago and when I poured this wine into our glasses, my girlfriends actually stopped what they were doing and asked "what IS this?" And that's when I know I've brought along a decent wine. In Delaware, near where I live, a bottle costs 14.99.
And I've yet to have had a bottle of wine from the Russian River Valley that I haven't liked. Well, except for Bear Boat. But that's another story for another day. Actually, it's not even a story. Let's just leave it at that.
So if you're out and about, and happen to come across Frei Brothers 2005 Reserve Chardonnay, I suggest you pick up a bottle, and give it a taste. If you don't enjoy it, ah well. But I think you might. And it's certainly worth a try.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

Saturday, March 22, 2008

We have a winner in WGG #10

And it's not someone from my family or someone that actually knows me! Yay!
Dylnz's daughter, ELLYN (shown here with her daughter, Anna) guessed correctly. Ellyn guessed PEANUT and that's what the mystery picture was this week.
When you guess these pictures, try to remember that the macro lens takes in everything. And then, I crop a piece of the picture to publish. This, I know, makes it worse to guess. And to tell you the truth, I'm really bad at guessing these. I'd lose every time. It does look like some sort of dried out squash, doesn't it?
So enjoy your fame, Ellyn. Soon you'll be recognized on the street and people may ask for your autograph. Because we all know how many people read this blog! No really, thanks so much for playing. Have a great evening, everyone.

Are you my mother?

After yesterday's near-disaster with the couch, I took George on a walk past the paddocks that hold the mares and foals. There's one huge paddock and several smaller ones. The smaller ones are for the most recent-born foals. Since George knew I had been mad at him, he was on his best behavior and I only had to leash him once. When I told him to sit and stay, he did. He also heels when told. So I didn't have any qualms about walking him through there.
I took a lot of pictures yesterday and am only posting a few this morning. It's always nice to get a couple of babies who are having a nice nourishing drink from their mother. And, if you look closely, you'll see that the mare in the first photo has a bird sitting on her back. It's a starling.
When I was working on the pictures last night, I showed that one to my husband. I was really surprised, but he said those darn starlings are always doing that. I saw him coming down the road with his farm truck and I took a picture of him, but he gave me a hard time of it last night, saying that he didn't want me taking pictures of him all the time and putting them "out there". "But I always ask permission", I told him. And really, I wouldn't put a bad photo of him up.
But still, if it makes him uncomfortable, then I won't. I told him that not many people read this anyway, but he pointed to the counter gage at the bottom and proved to me that wasn't true anymore.
Back to the horses, now.
While I was out there taking pictures, I was constantly hearing the whinnying of youngsters who had just woken up and couldn't find their mother. The mothers usually don't wander off too far when their young one is taking a nap in the grass in the sunshine. It's always sweet to see the little reunion, just after a nap, between the mother and her newborn.
The very last photo here is of the newest newborn. I only know this because of the little paddock they were in. Enjoy! And have a wonderful day.
I'll post the winner, if we have one, of WGG#10 tonight by 6 PM. Maybe we already have a winner. I'm not telling.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Weekend Guessing Game #10

It's that time again where I post a macro picture of something and you try to figure out what the heck it can be. This week, because I'm in a good mood, I'm posting something that I think may be easy. If it looks like it's turning out to be more difficult, when I come back around 9 pm to check, I'll maybe give a clue or something. But for now, it stands as it is. I will tell you that I did not find this item outside, although I took the picture outside. In the wind. On a glass turned upside down. On my back deck. I was wearing a pair of jeans and a velvet Cabi zip up jacket . . . but there I go digressing again Stop me, Kacey!
So GAME ON as of now, 6 PM est. Game ends tomorrow at 6 PM when I post the winner. If you're guessing anonymously, please leave your first name or your initials so I can tell who you are. Good luck and have fun. The guesses don't have to be correct you know. I love the ones that aren't, as do we all. Oh, I didn't mention the prize. It's because there isn't one. The only prize is the joy and rapture you'll receive from winning this famous contest. And isn't that prize enough?

Meme tagged by Girl

I’ve been tagged by Girl to give you all seven random facts about me. I started visiting Girl's blog after she won one of Pioneer Woman's Name That Photo contests. Despite the fact that I'm not really into the meme thing, I think people have a certain fascination with them, and I know I enjoy reading those of others. Although I'm not even sure if anyone cares to read random and weird facts about me, I'm going to jump on in and do this. So, here goes.

The rules are
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
I have compiled this list of random facts about me, which has taken me all afternoon (5 minutes) to produce and have come up with the following:
1. I really don't feel at home in the kitchen. But I can fake it pretty well.
2. I've been with the same guy since we were both 19 years old.
3. I'm the eldest of seven brothers and sisters.
4. I love to drive and I miss driving a stickshift.
5. I don't like depths. Deep water freaks me out. Even in a swimming pool.
6. I wish I could be more frugal. But then I get over it pretty quick.
7. I cannot stand seeing people brushing their teeth. Not in real life, not on television.
Now I'm going to tag some recent visitors to my blog, and they are the following:
Noble Pig, Country Mouse, Janet, Aunt Jo, Mental P Mama, Tombstone Annie, Egghead. And because I'm both a rebel and a black sheep, I'm going to disregard rule #4 and not even tell them they've been tagged. I'm just going to wait and see if any of them notice.

His life as a prince

He's taken over our life, George has. We've had him since last September and he's growing up into a really fine dog. But I used to have a couch. An Ethan Allen couch. Granted, it was 10 years old and getting a little faded, but still, a good couch. I have never condoned having a dog on the furniture and those of you who know me know this to be true. But I'm indulging my husband for reasons of my own and my husband has never minded the dogs on the furniture thing.
So our couch is covered with blankets. It seems to be working, for now. I have my own little loveseat and George knows it's where I sit. He is not permitted on my loveseat. But sometimes I come downstairs in the middle of the night for a drink of water and there he is. Sitting on my loveseat. He looks up sheepishly, or he pretends to be asleep. And I don't chase him off.
He's a good dog. All of the time. We love him. And he is absolutely just what my husband needed at the time. It took a long time to even think about getting another dog after our beloved border collie, Ralph, died three Christmases ago. I think we did the right thing in waiting.
Couches are nice and all, but they don't love you back like a dog does. Look at him there, asleep. I just want to go over and pet him. And I think I will.
Update: This was a post I was saving for next week if I happen to be away for an evening. Today (Friday), I got up really early with my husband (who, by the way, did not want breakfast!) and then left at 7:30 for a pre-op appointment at the hospital. Then I went to the grocery store because my husband asked me to. I knew I'd be gone for hours.
I said goodbye to George and headed out the door, knowing that my husband would be back soon to take him on his rounds, checking on the mares. Several hours later, as I'm driving home from the store, I get a call on my cell from my husband. The conversation went like this:
HIM: Where are you?
ME: Just down the road, about 5 minutes away. Why?
HIM: Why didn't you take George? He's really mad.
ME: Um, the dog is mad? How can you tell that a dog is mad? I thought you were taking him on your rounds.
HIM: I thought you were taking him. So I left him here and I just walked into the house and half our living room is in the backyard! That's how I can tell he's mad. He even chewed the frisbee. The good green one. He knows not to chew the frisbee!
ME: Ok. I'm pulling into the farm driveway right now. See you soon.
HIM: No, you won't. I've got to leave. Wait til you see this place. I can't believe he destroyed the good frisbee.
When I pulled up, an entire section of our backyard looked as if it had snowed. There was white pillow stuffing all over. I went into the house and saw that most of my Ethan Allen couch was outside. OMG, OMG, OMG I'm thinking . . . he's destroyed the couch pillows. But no. Thank God the stuffing was from the pillows and not the backs of the couch. I yelled at George, who skulked away and hid.
And as I picked up the yard, I couldn't believe that my husband was surprised at the fact that the dog had chewed a frisbee. A five dollar frisbee! When half of our couch was outside.
Oh, I'm happy to report that George didn't touch anything on the loveseat. And only the old pillows from Kohl's were destroyed. The couch cushions and EA pillows are just fine. Perhaps he has discriminating taste, this dog.
We're ok now. I had a talk with him and he seemed to understand. A border collie needs to be worked and kept busy. Especially when he already has a routine. We've been doing quite a good job of it and he's really a joy to own. Today, we got our wires crossed and the dog was left alone, thinking that my husband was going to come pick him up for the morning chores. George loves those. He sits in the farm pickup truck and is permitted out to watch the vet work and is always complimented on what a good dog he is.
I just can't figure out the frisbee thing, though . . . *sigh*

Against the wind

Wind advisories are in effect for our area in Maryland and it's still howling out there. All night long it blew hard, waking me up at times. The skies are blue and clear, but the wind hasn't stopped all day.
Hey, it could be worse. We could be living in Caribou, Maine and gearing up for yet another big snowstorm tonight, possibly up to a foot. They've already had a whopping 180 inches of snow this winter. Can you imagine that? So, you see, it could be worse.
Pictured here is something you don't see too often. Don't these birds look like they're following the cardinal? Actually, what they're doing is taking a break from the wind. You can't see it in the picture, but to the right of the cardinal is a big walnut tree and it's blocking the wind just enough for the birds to rest a moment. They'd been eating seeds on the ground, on the back side of the tree, and I just happened to be outside with my camera. I was pretty far away, and that's why it's not such a clear shot, but you get the picture. Literally!
The cardinal was really getting blown around in this second shot, making him look like he was having a real bad hair day. It was so windy, in fact, that I didn't venture out for the today's walk. I went yesterday, in the rain, but not today. My husband spent the good part of an hour throwing the frisbee to George and he said that one time the wind took it and it went all the way down to the pond.
Anyway, George was pretty tired after the frisbee workout.
Today was a really good day, even though it was super busy at school. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood, what with it being the last day before our Spring Break. I was going to stop at the licorice store for a nice bottle of wine, but decided I didn't really need that. Besides, by the time I remembered wanting to stop there, I was already driving down the farm driveway. Darn! Then I remembered that I had some Yukon Jack in the cupboard and some nice grapefruits and that's what I ended up having to celebrate. Have you ever had this drink combination? I mean, I'm not condoning alcoholic consumption (well, maybe a little) and I'm not trying to promote the use of alcoholic beverages in order to celebrate something (yes, I am) but I do enjoy a drink every now and then.
Yukon Jack is a bourbon liqueur that really tastes quite good. It's advertised as "the Black Sheep of Canadian Liqueur" and it's unbelievably nice mixed with fresh grapefruit juice and just a tiny splash of grenadine. And anything that's the black sheep of something is right up my alley.
Be sure to stop back tomorrow at 6 PM for the Weekend Guessing Game. I'm warning you now that it may be difficult, but I could change my mind by tomorrow. You never know with me. And oh, you're really going to have to be on the ball about showing up at 6 PM est. You don't want my sisters to see it before you and end up winning. Again.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I am curious (yellow)

Remember that movie back in the late 60's? I think I was in the 7th grade when it first came out and I really wanted to go see it. I was just curious. Yellow. Of course, there was no use in asking my parents permission and I tried to plan an excursion with some girlfriends, but someone's parents got wind of it and called my mother. So I never did end up seeing it and haven't thought about it until today, when I was trying to think of a title for this post. Ah, well.
I will tell you an odd fact about this movie that you may not have ever heard. The movie features a brief appearance by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who is interviewed by the the director about his views on civil disobedeience. The interview was filmed in March 1966 when Dr. King and Harry Belafonte were in Stockholm to gain Swedish support for African Americans.
See, you can actually learn something when you visit my blog!

Let's go on to the pictures now.

The forsythia is starting to bloom in Maryland! Shown here in this top photo is a praying mantis egg case, otherwise known as an oothica. Personally, I've never called it an oothica. I just think it sounds funny.
When the mantis lays the sack, it's whitish in color. Over the fall and winter, it dries and turns a brownish color.
Do you have any praying mantis at your home? If you do, you're very lucky. They eat all kinds of bugs. Hundreds of babies will hatch from this single sack alone, all at one time and they'll usually stay near the place of hatching.
I see them all around the place during the summer. They'll sit very still for hours and then spring on a bug, killing it. One year, we had several that would hang out near a wasp nest that was behind one of our window shutters. I have egg sacks on lots of bushes around the house. Can you imagine all the babies? It's sort of freaking me out when I think about it.

Today it rained again, drenching downpours at times. Watching the news tonight, I saw that a huge storm swept across a large number of eastern states causing severe flooding. We weren't hit very badly here, though and I hope you're all ok.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Days like these

Ah, early Spring. One day it's beautiful, and the next is cold, windy, and raining. Not that I'm complaining. I love Spring! And I'm really in a good mood today because Thursday is my last day at work before we close for Spring Break.
My husband keeps track of all these days off that I have. I feel bad for him because during breeding season, he works 6 days a week. He has Sundays off and that's it. And breeding season runs a long time. So he likes to count the many days that I get off from work. Just last Sunday, he'd been looking at the calendar and he commented, "Did you know that in the next 16 days, you've got off 12 of them?" He said this with a not-so-happy voice. You'd think he'd be glad for me that I get all this time off. I told him that I knew I had 12 of them off, and that I'd just forgotten to mention Spring Break to him.
Maybe I should get up every day next week and make his breakfast. That would be really nice of me. I mean, he makes us dinner every night. And tonight, he even did the dishes. By hand.
Please don't think that I sit here waiting to be served, like the Queen Bee that you all must be thinking that I am. I'm really not. My job, when I get home from work, is to take the dog out for a big walk. And I do that. Today, I did that in the rain, but it wasn't that bad. The dog is full of energy and he really needs to run and I do my part every day. Usually every day.
While I'm out, the dinner is being cooked. I love it when this happens. To me, it's like magic. I leave the house and I'm gone about 45 minutes and when I come home, voila! The house smells like heaven and before I know it, Dinner Is Served.
Now, I have asked him repeatedly what I can do to help. I'd love it if I could help. But he seems to handle the kitchen like he does with the rest of his life, and that's as a loner. Oh, well. I can live with that, too. And don't get me wrong. Sometimes, I actually do cook. I'm pretty good at it, too. It's just that I don't LOVE it. Well, not like I love photography.
I can't tell you how much I enjoy having this man make me my evening meal. But it wasn't always this way.
Oh, no. It was not.
But it certainly is now. And for those of you who know me, it's about time, isn't it? And for this, I am eternally grateful.
And he doesn't know it, but all next week, when I have off, someone is going to be getting some really good breakfasts.
Yeah, you thought I was going to say something else, didn't you? For gosh sakes, this is a family site, people!
Oh, the pictures. I took these with the macro lens last weekend during a walk with George. Then I fooled around with the vignetting effect in Photoshop, using one color for the vignette layer that I found in the flower stem from the top photo. It's almost a lavender shade and I liked the effect. I don't know why, and it's not really a Spring photo, but I love my pinecone picture. I think it's my favorite. I hope you enjoy these photos, as well. Have a great day, everyone.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Photoshop and Fake Duotone effect

I like the duotone effect of a picture and this is one of my first attempts. I took this picture of my husband in our backyard on Sunday and I took the picture of George on the same day. I took the clouds on a different day last month. Scott Kelby gives a fairly simple step-by-step procedure on the making of a fake duotone in his book, The Photoshop CS2 Book for Digital Photographers, but I had a problem with holding down my eyedropper sampler button and moving it to a select duotone photo on
Basically, Scott wants you to find another duotone photo that has a color in it that you like and you'll be set. He says he goes to and search for duotones. I did that and only found one or two that I liked but he says that as soon as he finds the one he likes, he goes back to Photoshop (and this, on my computer at least, minimizes the site you've just come from) and presses the letter "I" to get the eyedropper tool and then click-and-hold anywhere within his image area, and then (while keeping the mosue button held down), he drags his cursor outside of Photoshop and onto the photo he's chosen from the other site.
Confused yet? None of this dragging stuff worked for me, so I ended up right clicking on a picture I wanted from another site and then saving it as a small file, and opening it up in Photoshop next to the picture I wanted to turn into a duotone. I'm sure I've done wrong.
Still confused? You don't have to be, really. I found a couple of colors for you to use. You don't even have to go searching. So let's begin.
Step One: In Photoshop, open up the photo you want to turn into a duotone. (Make a duplicate of it if you like, in order to keep the original).
Step Two: Set your foreground color (double click on it; it's over there on the left bar, under your eyedropper tool and your zoom tool) to d89c5a (if you don't like that one, try some more that are around that color when you open it up. I also used 64650f).
Step Three: Now that your foreground color is selected, go to your layers palette and click on the Create a New Layer icon. Then, press Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace) to fill this new blank layer with your sampled color. The color will fill your image area, hiding your photo, but don't worry. We'll be fine.
Step Four: While still in the Layers palette, change the blend mode of this color layer to Color. Voila! C'est finis!
Then I flattened the image.
On these photos, I also used the vignetting effect, which can be found here.
When doing the vignetting on a duotone photo, I used my eye-dropper sampler tool and chose the darkest color in the completed photo as my foreground color.
Have fun! And if you don't have Photoshop, I apologize for the content of this post. But I hope you enjoyed the photos, nonetheless!

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day and the wearing of the green

This is some fresh moss I took the other day while on a walk with George. The grass in Maryland is turning a nice shade of green, but ever so slowly.
I remember going to church one St. Patrick's Day a long time ago when I was just a little girl of around 10 years of age. St. Patrick's Day was a big deal in the Catholic religion and I dressed in green as my mother instructed, but I wore these new tights I had just gotten and they were a burnt orange color. My mother had an immediate conniption as soon as she saw me! She said, "Katy, for the love of God, what are you wearing?" To which I looked down at myself and said, "Some green and oh, I wanted to wear these new tights today." My mother then explained to me that the wearing of orange was forbidden on this day and I was to go up and change my tights immediately becuase now we're going to be late for church. She tried explaining things to me, but we were in a hurry and I was instructed to change and do it quickly.
Since then, I learned that the orange wearing was for the Protestants and the Catholics wore the green. The Irish flag is made up of three colors: green, orange and white. The orange and green we already know what they're for, but the white is the symbol of hope for peace between the two.
I really felt bad about wearing those tights that day. But I got over it. I don't really celebrate St. Patrick's Day other than to wear something green. And I never, ever have worn orange on this day. God, my mother would kill me.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

This kinda stuff excites me

Little things get me going, like a nice day, happy people, cute dogs. A good movie can make me feel good and frankly, good television excites me, too.
Tonight on HBO, a 7-part miniseries starring Paul Giamatti as "John Adams" premiers. I love it when history is told through television, but more often than not, it's ruined for me because these sort of documentaries are cookie-cut to fit prime time America's version of history. But after reading the reviews of "John Adams" in today's Sunday paper, I can't wait to see it tonight. It's about our country's first 50 years. It's about ideas and one man's political education and really, it's rare for television to do this.
Paul Giamatti says, "The language alone was something that made it hard for me to believe that somebody was actually going to put this on television. To have people talking at this high level and with this amount of intelligence is just utterly unique for commercial TV."
Ok, now I REALLY want to see it. Tonight is supposed to open against a backdrop of a dreary and endless gray of a New England winter. And the entire mini-series is filled with actors who are speaking in historically accurate English accents, complete with all the big ideas from the 18th century. You know, ideas like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
This show is produced by Tom Hanks, whom I've always admired. It's based on a book written by David McCullough, who I remember from PBS' American Experiece. Today's Baltimore Sun says that "the opening sequence is representative of the way in which the series successfully pulls viewers out of the present and transports them to 18th-century life as it was brutally lived on the ground - rather than in the peretrified portraits of Founding Fathers that hang in schools."
Wow! Ok, they had me at Paul Giamatti and Tom Hanks, but now I simply must see this series. Did I mention that Laura Linney plays Abigail Adams? This could be really good.
You know, you hear people say that life back then was 'a much simpler time'. And I've never thought so. It was damn hard back then. To travel from Boston to Philadelphia on horseback, in the dead of winter, well THAT'S hard. It's why the mortality rate was lower. I don't think I'd like seeing some of the scenes, which, from what I've read, include a tar and feathering (ouch), and Abigail Adams' children being innoculated against small pox. There's no needles involved. Apparently, only knives (I'll probably close my eyes). But it goes to show how much we take for granted today. It took guts to survive in the early part of our country's history.
And I can't wait to see this show when it premiers tonight. If you're interested, it's on HBO at 8 PM.
(image courtesy