Oh the weather outside is frightful...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

♫ ♪but our Christmas was so delightful♪ ♫

How about yours? Seems I'm still singing (totally off key - and aren't you delighted that there's no sound on this blog? :o) We have definitely had some whacked out weather already this winter (and we're only what, about a week into it? Sheesh). We've bounced around from the frigid windblown teens to the icky-sticky 60's and raining on Christmas day. BLECH
Number One Son came home for Christmas (yay), and it was such a blessing to have everyone here together this year.  I've learned to appreciate such things, as you just never know when they'll happen again. DD picked out the tree; personally I think it was just a teensy bit big but she was adamant (and the great thing about an 11th hour tree was the $9.99 price tag (oh yeah, that one definitely worked for me). Of course we had big fun getting it into the house, but we we did it. I must say, it turned out pretty well considering how much we whacked off to make it fit (note star on ceiling *laugh*).
I am a total creature of habit (which is one reason horses and I get along so very well; our mutual appreciation of schedules and order *grin*). One thing that makes Christmas special is holiday traditions. Do you have any? What is your favorite holiday tradition? We have two longstanding family traditions that I really love:
1. Stockings first with a pause for breakfast (which helps build anticipation). We also sing happy birthday to Jesus, which may sound a bit silly but it's neat for the little ones and also helps remind us what Christmas is really all about; and
2. The annual ornament [one per kid] that is tucked into the Christmas stocking.  (the ornament shown in the above photo is my very first from 1965; it was handmade out of copper).
My mom did this every year when my brother and I were growing up. We would each get an ornament in our stocking and she would put our initials and the year on the back. When we were grown and married and ready for our own Christmas trees, we each had a starter collection of ornaments, with their own special memories attached. Handmade copper ornaments are a bit out of my reach these days, but several years ago I found these wonderful little tin soldiers in a Pennsylvania gift shop (my first trip "home" after 20 years - it was for my high school reunion :o) Sometimes they are related to life (a mortarboard for DS back in 2002 or like this year; DD got a wooden ornament) and sometimes they are just plain 'ol ornaments.
I have to say that the weather didn't seem to bother the horses much (I got a kick out of Sarabear's blase response to my Aren't you cold? question). Quite a steamy yawn. Personally, I'm starting to think we should all sprout such wonderful winter woolies *grin*.
For those of you who might be wondering how the fishies are doing in all this frigidity, here's a shot of Larry and Curly underneath the ice (and is that weird or what?) The blob with the lens and the index finger in the lower left hand corner is me; and the white streaky stuff is the ice, which cracked, thawed partially, then froze again. Brr. Moe, for whatever reason (I think he's either anti-social or just plain shy) likes to sleep on his back off to the side, while Larry and Curly hang together almost all the time. Other than causing me several mild panic attacks, I've pretty much gotten used to Moe's quirky belly up hibernating habit (besides, the horses are allowed their individual little idiosyncrasies so it's only fair the fish have theirs too, right? ;o)
I hope everyone's Christmas was a wonderful one! I have a bit more I'd like to post, but I think I'll save it for next week. Until then, stay warm and dry (and safe!)

P.S. I am delighted to report that we now have a marvelously eccentric vintage orange tractor named Tilly. Thank you to everyone who voted!

Never mind the centrals...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

♪ ♫All I want for Christmas is my SAN-I-TY♫ ♪
Did you know that's the official name for your two front teeth? Upper Right and Upper Left Centrals. Sounds a little weird that way. I guess it would be quite the understatement to say "It's been awhile" wouldn't it? Sometimes time just has a way of slipping flying fleeing through your fingers; or at least it does mine. Has it really been over a month since I last posted? Apparently so, and EEK. Although I have been popping around visiting [and reading] everyone's blogs, I have not taken the time to comment much. It would seem that someone punched the fast forward button after my last post, and things got just a teensy bit crazy around here. In the midst of all the lunacy I managed to host Thanksgiving dinner, get a tentative Fibromyalgia diagnosis and finish and send off another grant proposal. I think that leaves me somewhere between productive and destructed *rolls eyes*. Whaddaya think?  I got a kick out of this picture of Bella yawning (it sums up my month pretty accurately ;o)
Guess what? We are up to six (count 'em SIX) posts set in concrete by the demonstration area, and one support beam - Woo! If DH could manage a week that didn't have 65-70 hours of work in it, we might actually finish before Spring. We also managed to [finally!] purchase a real tractor for the farm. Our neighbors at the top of the hill had an old garden tractor and some implements that they sold to us. Made possible by a generous private donation; is that awesome or what? :o) I don't have a picture of it yet, but this one is close enough. Now if we can just get enough funding we can repair some of the damage done by our wacky weather patterns over the past couple of years (not to mention that little tunneling terrorist who took up residence for awhile).
I've decided to name it Tilly for the following reasons (let's see if you agree):
1. We are a fun loving, kid-friendly place so it makes total sense to give the tractor a silly name;
2. It is a terrible pun (therefore irresistible);
3. Tilly Tractor is a marvelous alliteration (and we all love a good alliteration!)
Since I am in a frivolous frame of mind, I think I'll see if I can't just embed a little poll on here and let you all (excuse me, that's Y'all here) tell me what you think:

Since I am a major early bird, I strolled outside to see if I could get a photo of the lunar eclipse the other morning (although I think I probably missed the coolest pics, as I am not quite that early a bird :o) It still looks pretty neat, and there was still a little tinge of red leftover for me. Did anyone else see it? I managed to make it outside for the meteor shower last week too - although there were not enough falling stars at one time for me to manage a shot. I had just enough time to say Ohhhhh, raise the camera a couple of inches, and Poof - all gone darn it.
As long as we're in the sky, I thought I'd share a shot of the sunrise at feeding time. Other than putting the decorative edge on, this is untouched (God sure does paint some pretty ones, doesn't He? :o) Nothing like watching the sun come up through the trees...
Question for the crafty folk: Have any of you tried the Knifty Knitter? A friend of mine went on a bender a month or two ago, making hats for the homeless (sounded like a winner to me). So armed with my 40% off coupon - the only way to shop - I hit Michael's and went to work using up some of the yarn from my stash. I have to give that little loom two thumbs up, as it is super easy to whip up hats and even scarves (DD is looming those). Here is a link to some free patterns on the Provo Craft site - because who doesn't love free? The blues and other colors are mediums and the browns are larges. I think my favorite yarn was the Red Heart Light and Lofty (the turquoise hat). It made the best hat; nice and thick and super soft, but it seems none of the stores here carry it in grownup tones, only pastels for baby (grr). So, I suppose I'll wait for a sale, and hit Herschnerr's. Or maybe Ebay, hmmm...
Since November was fairly quiet in the pasture, someone was definitely overdue for a blankie moment. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Shadow suffers from *cough* Cranial Colic (otherwise known as a dramatic episode). He will usually get right up once he has his blankie, although he does sometimes opt to sit and pout awhile longer (because who doesn't love a drama queen with a strong sense of theater? ;o) As you can see, Shadow was rather offended by my photographic audacity and bumped and wiggled himself around turning his back to me in a huff so I would get the message (after first giving me the fish eye, that is):
Well, I suppose that's [more than] enough for now. Here's wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

It's a picture happy post :o)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Because it's only "fair" to share, right? 

Okay that was terrible (I admit it). The fair was in town last week and because they have a farm night with free admission to local farmers, we actually got to go - Woo! I thought I would share some of the night's activities with you, in case you don't actually care to go to the fair. I almost said, " case you are not a fair person." but that didn't sound too good, and would likely have been deemed an UNfair comment (and geez enough with the lousy puns already!) Incorrigibility, what can I tell ya? I was curious to see how my camera would do in the dark. I'm still struggling to figure out settings on the fly, but all in all not too bad for an amateur with a monster learning curve...
Chainsaw dude was our first stop. This is one of those times when it's a total bummer being broke; he had all kinds of amazing finished work for sale. The soaring eagle in the photo was one of my favorites; but only because there were no horses (ha). He was working away at a deer while we were there. DD's fascination with wood (she's studying woodworking in college) meant we had to all but drag her away by the hair (she would have stood there watching him all night :o) And you know, I'm thinking it would not be a bad idea to hide the chainsaw from now on as she DID have a rather thoughtful gleam in her eye...

There was a traveling circus there, called Wambolds. I have to say I really enjoyed his show - he talked about his tigers, their history and spouted an impressive list of facts and figures about these gorgeous creatures. He also explained that he used reward-based training, and would feed them a small chunk of meat from a short stick following each trick they performed (and major points for you buddy). The big cats looked quite content, and he did not have to poke or prod anybody (more points for you Mr. Wambold :o) Pictured below are "Ruby" on the left and "Pearl" on the right (she was a stunning, albeit slightly blurry, white tiger). Please note that I was largely shooting blind, we were near the back of a large crowd so I had my camera stuck up in the air over my head - not my first choice of picture taking positions :oP

It being Farm Night and all, there was the obligatory calf scramble and greased pig contest in the big arena. Have to say, they are a riot to watch. The contestants were all FFA members from area high schools and were all sporting crash [football] helmets. As you can see by the photo below, this was obviously a wise decision. Again, large crowd with me shooting up over my head (and way WAY off in the distance). A couple of the calves seemed to catch on, and more than one (photo below left) opted to turn the tables by pinning the person.  I believe I heard the announcer say something about some split britches, but other than that there were no casualties *grin*. I got tickled at the boy in the photo below (right) whose pig somehow ended up all wrong: or is he just on the wrong end? Anyway, the kid hit the dirt, the pig shot through his arm and he wound up facing backwards and hanging rather desperately on to the tail end of the little porker (whoops :o)
The Freak Out is DD's all-time favorite ride, so we bought a few tickets for her. There are only a couple of rides that she won't go near; she's pretty much amenable to anything out there. DH, on the other hand, only likes to ride anything that might incite cardiac arrest. Me? There's only one single ride I'll get on without a tranquilizer; can you guess what it is? It's a pitifully easy guess, actually :o) Look at the neat thing that happened when I tried to take a picture of the ride once it really got moving (check it out below - pretty cool, huh?) One of those "happy accidents" Ann! *grin*  Too bad I can't remember what setting the camera was on that time; I think it might have been the "fireworks" setting, but I'm not really sure. Looks kind of like a tulip, doesn't it? I think I probably should have been taking notes or something... Sheesh.
The happy hairball pictured below is for my dear friend Lori. Having seen your husband's expression over your heartfelt wish to Mama a llama, I'm thinking this is about as close as you're gonna get sistafriend (gotta say I do so love the 'fro though ;o)
Are you still wondering about my favorite ride is at the fair? Well, silly you:
 Have a great day ~ the bad ones are way too much trouble!
I'm adding a VERY important P.S. for other new to outdoor fish folks; goldfish hibernate once the water temperature drops below a certain point (I think it's 50). The reason I'm posting this is to let other [clueless] people like yours truly see what a fish actually looks like when it's hibernating. Their little body functions slow WAY down and they will either float just above the bottom or lay on it. It should also be noted that they do not necessarily all hit this phase at the same time; which can result in a very serious error (my profound apologies to Faith :o/  They don't have eyelids, so their little eyes are wide open. Basically? They look dead; we're talking doornail here. Just look at Charity and Hope in the photo below...

Ahoy! My ship may just be coming in...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

No, wait....I think it's sinking,
(and in really bad English, too :o)
Do any of you actually read some of those phishing emails that flood your inbox even though you know they are bogus? After the barrage of political phone calls (not to mention a plethora of postcards), it's kind of a refreshing change. A bit of comic relief, if you like.  
Maybe it's just because my sense of humor is seriously warped, but I got one a few days ago (and another yesterday) that for some reason gave me the giggles. I hadn't read any for quite some time, so I thought I should bring myself up to speed. Apparently Nigeria is no longer the "in" place for those of us inheriting large sums of money; that's now Malaysia. According to Mr. Lakemfa Lawson of the Crime Watch Reimbursement Department (dude, seriously?), Nigeria has switched to *ahem* "reimbursing scam recipients".  
They are still referred to as beneficiaries, however, lest anyone worry about having an identity crisis. I thought it was awfully nice of them to give me my very own reference number too, which was completely different from theirs. Speaking of identity crises, Mr. Lakemfa appears to be having his own, as he starts the letter as an official committee member and ends it as a department. Hm. I'm going to say that crime does not pay nearly as well as death, since they only offered me $150,000 (though it did come in lots of different ways). It was a high tech letter too, with a hyperlink and everything; Just click here...Um, NO.
The second one was even better. It came from Mr. Roger Tan Kur Mee (which immediately put me in mind of Miss Piggy and the "Yes dear" love of her life just back from the beach). Aside from the eye-twitching, toe-curling English (or lack thereof) I have to say that sometimes these emails are awful-ly funny. I've decided to share this one, with my own editorial comments in burgandy. Here goes... 
This is Mr. mohammedyusuf, a Legal Practitioner with Roger Tan
Judiciary and logistics 

at 28th Floor, Public Bank 
Tower 19 Jalan Wong
Ah Fook 80000 Johor Bahru Malaysia.

(Love the Ah Fook - although it sounds like something you would say while simultaneously sneezing and stubbing your big toe).
I was fascinated at glance over your Resumes and thought it proper
engaging with you in this proposition.
(How nice for you to have a fascinating glance; mine just tends to be quick. I am glad to hear you liked all of the resumes that I did not send. My husband is the only person I let proposition me properly though; so sorry).
 who passed away in,
November, 2007 here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
(Wait, I'm confused...who died? Ah, someone. Got it. And that would be Kuala, as in bear? Lumper? I'm a survivor. Hey, did the bear find a lump? Is that what happened to him?).
your assistance in the distribution of funding that were left in my
late client's bank account. This funding is closed to be declared
un-serviceable by the bank as there were no indicated next of kin or
next of beneficiary of the funding in the bank account.
(You're going to send me money that the bank says is useless because there are no beneficiaries to be found for the funding that is not valid. Uh-huh).
The total amount of cash in the bank account of my late client is US$
12.5 Million (Say, Twelve Million, Five Hundred Thousand United States
dollars Only),
("Twelve million, five hundred thousand United States dollars only" - okay, I said it, now what?)
The bank had issued to me a notification to contact the
next of kin of my late client for either to re-activate the bank
account or to make claim of beneficiary, of the funding in the bank
account, with a month surcharge of 6% to be deducted as an Escrow safe
keeping fee of the bank account, so as to avoid the indefinite closure
of the bank account. My proposition to you is to seek your consent,
and to present your kind self as the next-of-kin and beneficiary of my
deceased client, since you have the same last name with him.
(So you need my permission to present my kind of self - as opposed to your kind of self - because I have the same last name with him. And who is him again? Oh, the bear. Right. At this point I'm not entirely sure I know who any of us are; so glad to have your help in keeping it all straight).
This means that the proceeds of his bank account would be paid to you
as his next of kin or the legitimate beneficiary. When the proceeds in
his bank account are paid to you, we shall share the dividend upon
mutual agreement by percentage of 60% to me and 40% to your kind self.
(Golly, that's 40% all for my very own? Really? What a generous and giving soul you are, only keeping a paltry 60% for yourself. Awesome. Nice to know I'm legitimate too; I'm sure my parents will be terribly relieved to hear it. Where do I sign?)
All the legal documents to back up your claim as my client's
next-of-kin would be provided by me. The most important thing I would
need is your honest co-operation and documentary information in this
proposition. This would be done under a legitimate arrangement that
would protect you from any breach of the law.
(It is of great comfort to me that you are offering your legal protection; though I can tell by your brilliant verbosity that this letter is the reel deal. Oh, and I promise not to offer you any type of dishonest co-operation either. That would not be nice of me to do at all. Shall we make it official and do a pinky swear?).
If this business proposition offends your moral and ethical values,
feel free to back out. Please contact me at once if you are interested,
(This business proposition offends me on a number of levels; most particularly the grammatical one - WOW).
Bar. mohammedyusuf [ESQ]
Senior Advocate/Solicitor.
Free enterprise and Google Translator.... Ya gotta love it ;o)
Can't sign off without at least ONE photo, so here's our sky on the poster setting:

Haaaay - This photography stuff is FUN!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

(even when you don't know what you're doing :o)
We're not going to talk about exactly how much time I've spent playing around with my digital dream. The reason for this lies somewhere between I don't want to say and I don't want to know *grin*. In case you're new or just missed it, here are the links for my digital drama: Part One and Part Two.    I did finally go back and read some information about how to get better action shots. Although I still don't really get it, I do know that the higher the aperture and shutter speeds the better it will freeze the action. The sports setting basically eliminates the picture preview. This enables you to take a series of action photos more quickly. I made some adjustments to the settings and spent some time practicing by shooting swishing tails. Then I got this still of Bella as she shook her head and swished her tail (she was multitasking).
I cropped it to see whether or not I had a decent shot, and had the overwhelming urge to edit it just a teensy little bit. I lost some resolution in the cropping process, but I think it'll work...don't you?
There is a scenes setting on the dial that offers a plethora of supercool enhancements. I think the one called "Fish Eye" has to be the most fun. I knew exactly who I was going to test drive it on, too. Taya enjoys sticking her nose out and making faces at me (she did it once and made me laugh, so of course now she does it all the time; such a silly girl). I think I'll entitle this one, Sally Schnozola (and move over Jimmy Durante - because WOW :o)
Of course fish eye segued straight into shooting the fish; I wondered if I would get better pictures now (I have a really tough time photographing those little boogers). This is another area I hoped the higher speed would help - they zip around so darn fast in there, most of the time all I can get is a frame full of little orange and white blurs. Sometimes I miss them entirely; they're just too quick for me. Here is a shot of  Faith and Charity...(tubby, aren't they? :o)
Oh, and I did finally get an equine action shot of Rina cantering up the hill. Hey look, it worked - boo-yeah! Looks kind of strange with only one foot on the ground, but her legs aren't blurry at all. Woo! With cooler temps, the horses will be feeling friskier so maybe I can get some really great shots to share. Here's hoping!
There sure are an awful lot of features on this camera. It has a foliage setting? Hm. I wonder what that one does. Boy, that really punches up the color doesn't it? Cooool.

Then there is the sepia setting that I thought was pretty neat too. I took a picture of Champ napping on the job.  He started dozing off while I was busy snapping photos - can't say I blame him, (I was taking forever ;o)
There is an amazing wooden carving outside our local library (it's huge) that I'm going to try to take a picture of to post; it just screams sepia if you ask me.

The poster setting adds some shimmer and shine to your subject. I found this little guy hiding out in the sink in our guest bedroom. Note to self: post a clear-cut definition of the term "guest" somewhere on the premises. I have absolutely no idea how he got in there; no outside door anyplace near that bathroom, and I do NOT want to think about him coming up through the drain - Ugh. He is cute, though (I'll give him that).
I have to say, I think it's going to be another spectacular (on the vivid setting) sunrise this morning. Just in case it's cloudy at your house though, I'll share mine:
Have a great day (the bad ones are just way too much trouble :o)

How about it runneth over?

Monday, October 18, 2010

...and is puddling up all over the place... WOO!
I am big believer in shooting for the moon.Why? Because as Les Brown says; "...even if you miss, you'll land among the stars". Speaking of missing, in case anyone missed the digital drama of last week's post, it's here (you'll want the background to keep confusion to a minimum :o) Re-researching cameras led me to discover my digital dream; the Canon SX30 IS. The reason this camera caught my Googling eye is because it boasts a 35x optical zoom; virtually unheard of in a mid-range camera. Translation? Not only could I have photographed the cowboys more closely at the rodeo last weekend, I probably could have brought their nose hair into focus... cooool. Well eew actually, but you get the idea, right? The "IS" stands for Image Stabilization, and is something that Canon excels at. It's a definite selling point for someone like me who has unsteady hands (and a large part of the reason I'm such a diehard Canon fan). So, armed with my list of covered holidays I went off to plead my case to DH.
One thing you should know is that my husband is so tight, he squeaks. While I find this generally annoying, I will admit he is the perfect counter-balance for me. Because I funnel most of my paycheck straight into the non-profit, without his financial frugality we would probably be living in a tent in the middle of the pasture with the horses by now (and is that actually a bad thing?). Anyway, in spite of my campaign readiness I fully expected him to laugh himself silly over my high-end technological request. All I can say is that he must have felt far sorrier for me than I thought; would you believe he said yes? While I admit that my justification speech would have done any [cheesing up for their own car] teenager proud, I didn't even get to finish reciting the full list of covered holidays before he told me to just go ahead and get it. Really? Do you mean it??? Hot DAWG! I shot out the door faster than you could say 35x Optical ZOOM, (on the off chance he thought about it some more and changed his mind).
Of course post purchase, I realized that my alter ego (Techno-Twit) was likely to become a major factor as I struggled to understand what the heck all this hi-tech mumbo jumbo stuff meant. Things like bracketing, aperture, AWB, ISO, M, Tv, Av, and MF (I was pretty sure that last one was not what popped into my head; although I suppose if you get frustrated enough... well, never mind). I decided to just play around with it and see what we got; and quickly too, before I ran out of daylight. I thought I'd start with something simple, like the zoom. Of course first I needed a willing victim. Aha! Found one...
Let's see what this 35x bad boy can do, shall we? I did not crop these either; the first shot shows you where I was standing before I zoomed in...
Holy cow! I can even see the strands on the wire. Awesome :oD Let's see what else we can blow up *grin*...
My apologies for shooting into the sun (I know it's a picture taking no-no, but I kind of forgot about that in all the excitement). Woo!

Since I had such great [albeit amateur] success with the zoom, I thought I try out  the sports setting for some action shots...that part didn't work out so well:
Hmmmm, man that's bad; YUCK. Would have been a nice action shot if I knew what I was doing *sigh*. I kept tweaking and shooting, but when you don't have a clue it doesn't do you much good. I have to tell you a funny, though. Bella is my protector; if any horseplay gets too close to me, she will put herself between me and whoever gets too near  (I have some video of her "running interference" that I will share when I get a chance to edit it). Anyway, when this particular exuberant episode started, Bella was at the top of the hill. She came flying down (running to the rescue - that's my girl :o) and I belatedly thought to raise the camera and get a shot of her charging towards me, but wasn't quite quick enough. I snapped her picture right about the time she slammed on the brakes and gave me a rather frantic "Are you okay?" look. So this is what I got: Equus Dementius Ha.
Needless to say, the rest of my action shots were terrible too, though they all sported the official Bella safety theme...I sure do love those Arabians; they're SO cool!
Well, I guess it's time to check out the manual that came with this cool - yet complicated - technological toy. Here's hoping I can finally find my focus! :o)

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