Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Howl'o'ween

Little Bats Wings...

 Little Bat Feet...

 Give Me Something Good To Eat!!!

Happy Howl'o'ween Everyone!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Man's Prerogative

They say that it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind...but sometimes it's a man's prerogative too!

Saturday we went to look at our new puppy, the one I showed you in my last post.  The one you all gave such great name suggestions for...who would likely have been named Lily Clementine, or Bella Rose, or Emma....thank you!  Those were all top contenders, but none of us could agree!

When I asked the breeder to reserve Lily Clementine Emma Bella Rose, it was because she told us she was a very middle of the road puppy, just what we were looking for.  But she also sent us pictures of a little black and white puppy who she described as very sweet.

Mr. Tide and I went out to dinner on Friday night with my sister and brother in law and on the way home he said, "why are we driving 3 hours to look at the puppies when we've already picked one out?"  I explained that we needed to give the breeder a deposit, that I wanted to see the mom (since I already knew a lot about the dad of the pups), and that I just wanted to make sure that the little tri colored girl was the one for us.  He agreed, so on Saturday morning we got ourselves up, and off we went to see the puppies! 

After 2 hours of playing, observing, and holding the puppies (thank you Dianna for indulging us for so long!) we ended up picking the "sweet" puppy she had suggested to us from the beginning.  Before we met her, we were worried that with Mr. Quinn's dominant temperament a sweet dog might not be able to stand up to him the way a middle of the road puppy would.

But there was just something about her, and Mr. Tide was smitten and said that he really thought this was the puppy for us.  He picked up lots of puppies, but this sweet little black and white girl was the only one to lavish him with kisses.  And although she's sweet, she has a little moxie too, and she'll have no trouble keeping Mr. Quinn in line when necessary, I am certain of it.

In a perfect world we would have been able to take both the little tri girl and this one, but I was pushing my luck getting one I knew better than to go there...oh but I was tempted.  I know the other puppy will find a wonderful home, she is full of energy and will need a job, like all herding breeds do.

But for us, this was the right decision.  The pups live on a wonderful horse farm and have two great boys who love them to pieces and have named them after the weather.   The tri colored puppy we almost got was named Tornado!  There was one named Cloud, Rainy, Tsunami, etc.  But our little girl was named Misty.

As we drove off, Mr. Tide said, "I like the name Misty, and I'm fine with keeping that name."  I said that I was thinking the same thing.  Then I called my daughter and told her the whole story, she said she liked the name Misty too.  Then we phoned our son who said he also thought Misty was a good name.

So you see, we were all in agreement.  And sometimes it's a man's prerogative to change his mind and get a little Misty! ;-)

I hope you all have a very Happy Halloween!  We got our treat on I just have to wait 2 more weeks to bring her home!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What's In A Name

Two posts in one day...craziness right?  Well some of you caught my little "tease" (as Lili put it) in my last post about big doin's going on around here.

It seems that there will be the pitter patter of little paws around our house very just over 2 weeks to be exact!  The sweet little girl you see on the right in the photo above will soon be ours, and I'm SO case you haven't noticed!

Several of you have sent me emails asking how I worked my magic to get Mr. Tide to go from a resounding NO to a yes in just a few days.  Well the truth is he's a bigger sucker for dogs, or any animal, than I am. 

It took me a very long time to convince him (8 years to be exact) that we should have two dogs.  So you see he's no pushover!  But the fact is that Miss Kylee our Border Collie will be turning 10 in just a few months and Mr. Quinn is only 2.   

Last month, our dear sweet Miss Kylee was diagnosed with congestive heart issues, she's had a murmur since she was young and the thought of losing her had me in tears.  She is doing great now that we have her on 4 different medications, and we hope she will be with us for a very long time.  But we've talked about adding a third dog off and on for over a year, with me doing most of the talking...but still!  We like the idea of having Miss Kylee around to teach the pup some new tricks so to speak and for Quinn to have a companion a little closer in age for when the inevitable happens, which I hope is a long way off!!!

The other night after playing with my friend's sweet Rottie pups, I came home to find an email from Mr. Quinn's breeder Ann.  She had forwarded pictures to us of puppies sired by the same dog as Quinn...the ever handsome Finn McCool!  So that would mean that these pups would be half siblings to our very own Mr. Quinn!!

Fate?!  I think so.  I hadn't been looking at puppies, or even talking about puppies and then that very night when I had just played with puppies I open my in-box and shazam, there are 9 sweet puppy faces staring back at me saying...pick me, pick me!

It took a little fast talking, I won't lie.  I had to lay out a logical argument for my very logical husband.  I had to keep puppy pictures on my desktop 24/7 and say things like..."do you like this one's coloring or this ones's coloring?!"  And "isn't this one cute?!"  To which he would reply "are there any ugly puppies in the world?!"  But eventually he couldn't resist any more than I could.

It will be work...a puppy again, what am I thinking?!  But oh the rewards too!  If we were retired, traveled a lot, or our youngest dog was 10 this whole discussion would never have happened.  But because none of those things apply, and my husband and I work from home most days, it seems somewhat reasonable.  Hmm, I think I'm writing this down for later reference! ;-) for the hard part!  Not the housebreaking, the sleepless nights, having to manage 3 dogs on a walk, etc...It's time to pick out a name!!!  For my family this is always a challenge!  A daughter that loves the sweet names, a son that wants a wolf dog so he wants a strong sounding name, and me who just can't decide!  Mr. Tide waits for the dust to settle and then throws in his 2 cents.

I need your help!  Stare into that precious face above, remember she's an English gal from good strong stock, and help me pick a name...please I'm beggin' you!  Who knows which one we'll settle on, but I know that the more I have to choose from the easier my life will be!

I would love to hear what you think this sweet little girl's name should be!  I was already vetoed on my pick of Arwen...shortened to Wennie!

My New Addiction

Remember a few posts back when I said something about not knowing if I would like using actions and textures...umm well I had a nice breakfast this morning as I ate those words!  It's only been a week since I've been using actions and textures and I'm completely addicted!

It's not that I don't like the photos I take straight out of the camera (or in photography lingo SOOC), it's just that actions and textures can enhance a photo and take it to a whole new level.

Take the photo above for example.  SOOC it was great, good color, nice contrast and I focused the image on the tiny patch of fog through the trees in the field beyond the woods.  Then I applied Pioneer Woman's free action called Boost (lowering the opacity by quite a bit) and then used another one of her actions called Soft Faded just to make it a little more ethereal.  Finally I used Edge Burn and again, lowered it considerably to help darken the edges and draw the eye toward the center of the photo even more.

If I had tried to do this by myself, and with my limited PS knowledge it would have taken awhile.  I would have figured it out eventually, but let's just say that this is WAY faster and much easier!

Actions can make life for people like me who haven't studied photography, or taken a class in how to use Photo Shop, so much nicer.  So to the people or peoples who thought these things up...Thank You!'re a genius and if you're ever in my neck of the woods I'll make you dinner, take your picture, and make you look fabulous! ;-)

This photo looks almost exactly like the SOOC version, except the lowered Boost action gave it just a hint more light, and the Soft Faded action made it a tiny bit softer.  It was foggy here this morning, so even the SOOC shots had a soft feel to them, but I liked how Soft Faded accentuated that quality in the photo above.

Now, I'm no expert on any of this, I've been feeling my way around in the dark and just trying whatever strikes my fancy at the moment.

The photo of my vinca above benefited from Flora Bella's Vintage Summer action and a Flora Bella Texture...I forgot to write down what it was called...but it began with an "A"!

The picture above is such a great example of how actions and textures can take a photo and give it almost any look you want.  This is SOOC.  The sun was hitting my front yard so that hardly any color showed up in this photo, something I didn't really notice while I was taking the shot, because the camera sometimes sees things I don' camera, since I love this picture!  I love the way the lack of color really gives you a sense of what it was like here this morning...misty and foggy.

But look at it here after applying the Vintage Summer action and a texture with color still my heart!  

So, see what a decent night's sleep, some wonderful actions and textures, plus getting a new puppy can do for you?!  

For those of you who already have textures or plan to get them, here is a nifty free little tool Mr. Tide found that makes applying a texture SO much easier.  It's a texture applicator action...I'm telling you, these people are geniuses, well that and Mr. Tide was tired of me buying things I didn't know how to use...hehe!

Until next time my friends.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Plum Tired

I'm so glad my vintage camera post brought back fond memories for some of you.  Isn't it funny how you can see, smell, taste, or even feel something and those memories will come flooding back in an instant...the brain is miraculous that way!

And Kelly J, I've never noticed Loic's collection of vintage cameras at Cafe Des Artistes (which is a lovely little French restaurant located in Leonardtown), I will have to look for them next time I dine there!

I woke up at 4:45 AM this morning...don't ask me why...and I couldn't go back to sleep!  I hate it when that happens, sleep is my very good friend.   I need more than 4 hours and 45 minutes of shut eye...I didn't go to bed until the bewitching hour last night.

While I was playing around with actions and textures on these photos tonight, Mr. Tide tried to convince me that I had already posted them.  And I'm so tired that I actually thought he was right...but he was imagining things.  It's ok though, because he's ever so slowly cracking on the whole "no puppy" rule!

I had fun playing with different textures, but finally my eyes grew weary and I knew it was time to just call it a day!

I'm WAY far behind on my blog reading, house cleaning, laundry, but I will get caught up on all of that after I've had a little more shut eye tonight.  Right now I'm just plum tired and so I will bid you all adieu for the evening and wish you a happy Thursday, which is always a happy day because it means we are all that much closer to the weekend.   Bonne nuit a tous!

Brownies and Ice Cream

Ever since I started taking pictures earlier this year I have completely fallen in love with photography!  I think it's funny that it took me until my mid 40's to find something besides my family and pets to be so passionate about.  Better late than never I suppose!

In all honesty, I don't think I could have been a photographer prior to the digital age.  I would have been too impatient to see the results, and too frustrated that I had destroyed a whole role of film by using the wrong settings.  The beauty of using digital is that you can take lots of pictures for free and play around with the manual settings as much as you like until you learn what works and what doesn't.   Plus you get almost instant feedback on what works and what doesn't...I love that!

My hat is off to the Ansel Adams of the world who could do this long before digital cameras existed!

 (check out the view in the viewfinder on this one, it was completely accidental)

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, then you know that we've begun the painstaking process of selling my childhood home. 

My mother was an only child so she inherited a large amount of "stuff" over the years, plus my parents acquired even more stuff in their 50+ years of marriage.


Lucky for me, one of the things they had never thrown out were old cameras.  When we went through the attic there were several old cameras that called to me.  None of them are particularly valuable, and thankfully no one else wanted them, but because of my new found love, I just had to have them!

Sarah, from the wonderful blog A Beach Cottage, has a passion for vintage, well loved cameras too, and had done several posts on using her new camera to shoot through the lens of these old beauties.

I had Mr. Tide hold this old Kodak camera as I shot a picture of the brightly colored maple tree in our yard.  I love how the scene becomes reversed or upside down sometimes in these old viewfinders!

I have no idea who these belonged to, except for the Argus, which was my parent's camera.

But I love imagining where these cameras have been and what wonderful bits of history they recorded for someone in my family.  Just think if they could talk...I wonder what tales they would tell of  war, or foreign lands, and family gatherings?

Shooting through the viewfinder on the Brownie I captured this pint of Breyer's Ice can't have a brownie without ice cream right?!  Is a pint really a good size for ice cream?   I think not!

Here is the Argus.  I'm pretty sure this one produced a few embarrassing photos of myself when I was very little!

My father was the official family photographer.  He had a wonderful knack for snapping photos of you looking like a puffer fish as you blew out the candles on your birthday cake each year. 

My mother was particularly fond of the photos he took after she had stayed up all night being Santa, or the Easter Bunny.  There all 4 of us kids were lined up looking bright, happy, and perfectly dressed, while my mother was still in her nightgown, or a slip waiting to finally get herself pulled together for the day!

Although I know photography would not have been for me when film was your only option, I still love the way these cameras look and feel.  All the fancy dials and knobs must have been the height of technology in their day.

And on the old ones, I love the simplicity of it all.  How wonderful and exciting it must have been when cameras became available and easy to use for the general public.

The Argus was the most difficult to shoot through the lens with my own camera.  See that tiny speck in the middle of the photo of our table and umbrella?

Even though the photo isn't great, I still love the way that tiny spot of table 50's/60's with the colors and the haziness.  All those things we now try and recapture with our fancy textures and actions!  Our grandparents and great grandparents would get a kick out of that I'm sure!

And here is that same scene just shot with my Canon Rebel.  Amazing how far we've come isn't it?!  My great grandfather on my mother's side was a professional photographer, and actually met my great grandmother when he came to take her picture.  Maybe that's where my love of photography stems from...

And to answer Jo's question about how I downloaded and installed all of my new actions onto PS Elements 9, I simply followed the step by step instructions that came with my Flora Bella textures and Actions.  They came as part of the download so you have to open them up and read the file.

For the Pioneer Woman actions, I simply clicked on the actions on her download page (HERE), and then followed the link to the Texas Chicks website where they give you step by step instructions on how to install them, click HERE to read those instructions.   

The Flora Bella Actions installation differs from the instructions for installing Pioneer Woman's actions, and be sure to "unzip" the files after you download them.

I use a PC so the install for a Mac will differ as well.  And there is also an updated version for installing PW Actions which I've linked HERE.

I hope you each have a happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Simple Kindness

Thank you everyone for your kind words and insightful comments about my last post.  When I took the photos of our farm I thought I would do a little post about childhood memories, but sometimes my typing fingers have a mind of their own.  And after I hit the send button I often think...did I really just do that, put that out there for everyone to read?  Yet each time you all raise me up with your unending support and kindness...which is so greatly appreciated.

I do know that over the last few years others have shared their stories with me, sometimes just out of the clear blue, like they were sent there to help me understand things I wouldn't have otherwise.  I once met a couple at a small Italian restaurant in Brighton, England and out of the clear blue the woman began the tale of how her son and she hadn't spoken for a long time and how deeply hurt she was...he was her only child.  Her story helped me at a time when I was so very hurt myself, and her tale was a gift in a way.

So maybe by bearing my soul, sounding crazy, and sharing something so very personal it will help someone out there who is struggling as well.  And your emails and comments let me know that we all have struggles, but we all make it through...through the triumph of our spirit.

On Monday I spent the day having lunch with an old friend, and then we went back to her house to see her two new Rottweiler puppies...can you say adorable?!!  Oh my, I will take some pictures to share with you, if I could sway Mr. Tide to my camp I would have another puppy tomorrow...hmm something to put on my "to do" list...convince Mr. Tide that 3 dogs are better than 2!

I don't tend to dwell on things. It's one of life's important lessons, and one I've embraced wholeheartedly.   So today is a new day, there are new things to see, new places to visit, new ideas to bring to fruition! 

And lots more textures and actions to apply!  Flora Bella...I think I love you! ;-)  Have a wonderful day everyone!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Big Yellow Taxi

Well it's Monday again and we all know what that means...back to the grindstone!  I hope each of you enjoyed a little down time, I know my weekend gave me a much needed break.  You see, last Saturday was the three year anniversary of my father's death.  And although I know he's in a better place and no longer ill, those sorts of anniversaries always make me stop and reflect on how life used to be.

I recently had a friend who lost a family member and she shared with me the pain of not only losing that person, but also the pain of what might have been.  Things not resolved, missed opportunities, or harsh words exchanged.  Things we all deal with when someone we love leaves us.

That was the case with my own father.  We were very close, both geographically speaking and emotionally.  We were very much alike in many ways and for most of my life we had been as thick as thieves as my grandmother would have said.

After my mother's unexpected death things changed.  He met a woman who was not interested in him but in his money, and he fell for it hook, line, and sinker.  He was lonely, desperate in a way, and even though we tried to be everything for him, it wasn't enough.

When my mother was alive, we were like a Norman Rockwell painting.  Big family dinners at each holiday, a house filled with laughter, cousins playing, life was normal.  When my mother died, the glue that bound us together slowly dissolved, bit by bit, the crowd at the table got smaller.  And the information dissimenator (my mother) was no longer with us, so we all became a little less connected.

Ten months before his death, my father and I had words, things were said by both of us that needed to be said but should have never been said.  It was time, I had cracked and could not come to terms with how my father had become someone I didn't even recognize.  In my mind, he had chosen to walk away from everything he knew and loved for a perfect stranger.  The strange part is he made a choice, but we never asked him to.

Often times when families have problems, it seems like there is one person who bears the brunt, and I was the chosen one for some unknown reason.  Maybe it was because I look a lot like my mother, or maybe it was because I was the closest to my father in distance so he needed me out of the picture to pursue this relationship that he knew was toxic.  I'll never really know.

All I know is that it was a pain like no other, and one I hope to never inflict on my own children, but we can't predict the future any more than we can change the past can we? 

The years of stress, and ultimately not speaking to my father before he died (a choice I am still comfortable with today) came at a huge price.  I ended up with an adrenal gland and thyroid that gave up the ghost in response to everything.  And I've spent the last 3 years just trying to get my once healthy body back to some sort of level playing field again.

It's getting there, and I'm much better now.  But the point of my story isn't about woe is me, it's not about hanging on to the anger, the hurt, or even the pain.  It's about letting other people know that life is full of challenging relationships, difficult times, and hard decisions.  And it's what we do when faced with all of those things that really matters.

Although it's sometimes hard to bare your soul, sometimes it is that very act that frees us, and it can sometimes even help someone else in the process.

I like to say that my life went from Norman Rockwell to Jerry Springer in just 6 months time.  And although I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, the experience made me much stronger, more in touch with who I am and able to face almost anything and know I will come out on the other side a better person than I was the day before.

Life is full of choices, easy ones and tough ones, happy ones and sad ones, but the fact remains that they are our choices to make.  I have chosen to be happy, to move forward, and to remember the good instead of the bad.

If life is a sum of it's parts, then I'm on the plus side and for that I am grateful.  You see, my father was a good man, and I was a good daughter.  The cabin in the photos above was something he built for all of his grandchildren.  My mother helped him and filled it with things as though it was her only home.  Birthday dinners were held there, mine included.  Sleepovers filled with giggles, lanterns, and a hot breakfast made on a woodstove happened there.

When I walk this property that once belonged to my grandparents, I am transported back in time, back to when I was a child, learning to drive a tractor, picking vegetables in the garden, feeding the horses sugar cubes pilfered from church each Sunday...I think God would have approved!

It's a place where old machinery is never discarded but stacked in hopes of being useful again someday, to someone.

The carefully groomed fields which once had horses and cows roaming freely are now overgrown and a bit neglected.   We had to put a sign on the cabin and around the property line telling others to "Keep Out" and "No Trespassing!" 

Trails which used to be used to haul lumber and for hayrides in the snow now lay dormant and some are completely impassible.  And time waits for no one as the saying goes, with suburbia surrounding this once quiet place.

What you can't see in these pictures is how strip malls ring this beautiful property, and you can't hear the hustle and bustle of people living there in spite of its history.  Tranquility has given way to car noise and people now outnumber the deer, squirrels, and birds which once roamed the vast acreage that surrounded our little farm.

Yesterday, as I wandered around our farm, now owned by my siblings and myself, I realized that my grandfather wouldn't still be living there if he were alive.  He would have long since sold this land and moved to a place just like it, but way far out in the country, maybe even back in the Blue Ridge Mountains from which he came.

And I also realized that like this place, I had changed, that I too hadn't stood still and that I had moved on.  But like the giant oak trees that stand guard on this plot of land, a part of it will always live inside me.  It's burned on my heart, carved into my memory, and part of what makes me...ME!

One day, like everything around it, it will be a strip mall, a restaurant, or a movie theater.  And like the song says "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got till it's gone, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot."  But in my heart, it will never change!

To my friend, and you know who you are, I hope you find comfort for the memories of the bad times, and pure joy in those of great happiness.   Choose to live without choosing to live out loud!

(I used several Flora Bella Textures on all of the photos above, including Ethereal, Memory, and Attache all in warm)

I am in a musical mood these days, so here's another little song for you to enjoy...