One Four Challenge – July Week 4

Here it is already, week four of July! Not sure how that happened, but Robyn has posted the final challenge for this month, so here’s mine:

Week 4

This week I first adjusted levels again, then flipped the file upside down. I copied the layer, applied the Sprayed Strokes filter, changed the blending mode to dissolve, then copied that layer, stoked the center of the layer with a special effects brush, added a fill layer using white and adjusted the opacity. I then applied a white vignette. I was trying to give the effect of looking out an upper story window that was fogged up and had been wiped slightly in the center. Not sure I really got what I wanted, but this is what came out.

To recap, the original:
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Week 1:
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Week 2:
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Week 3:
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And, once again, Week 4:
Week 4

I don’t know how to add a poll – will have to investigate that – but feel free to state your preference in the comments.

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Temporarily Closing for a Break

A very quick note to, first of all, apologize for my being more generous with the “like” button than comments these past few days. My offspring have arrived for their summer visit and it has been busy. Today, once I finish all those things I should have done yesterday, the day before or the day before that, we will be heading up to Portland to attend the Oregon Craft Beer Fest, visit Powell’s Books and the Apple Store, as well as food trucks and the Argentinion (is that a word?) restaurant we went to last year. Maybe more, but these are on the list of things to do. As a result I will be mostly silent this week and hopefully will catch up on the weekend or next week. A friend will be house/dog sitting for me – such a bonus!

To you all, a wonderful summer week filled with an abundance of enough!

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One Four Challenge – July Week 3

Time again for Robyn’s One Four Challenge.

The original:
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This week’s version:
4 ways wk 3

Once again I first adjusted levels, then copied the original layer. I applied the Plastic Wrap filter in Photoshop Elements and set the blending mode to – hmm, didn’t write that down and don’t recall right now, copied the original layer again and moved it to the top, then applied the Bas Relief Filter and set the blending mode to Screen.

I tried several other things in between these steps, but this is what I settled on.

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Share Your World – 2015 Week 28

Cee has posed the questions for this week’s sharing time. There’s a couple there that I think are going to give me some trouble, but let’s see what I can come up with.

1. What is your favorite comfort snack food? My favorite comfort snack food changes. Frequently. Chocolate is always a good go-to, but when I’m reading or watching TV in the evening and feel the need to nibble, what I want varies. For awhile, it was red licorice sticks. Then apple and cheese. This week it’s been tortilla chips with a sour cream/salsa verde mixture. For quite awhile, it was popcorn with sea salt and coconut oil. Sometimes grapes or cherries, cut-up melon, nasty salty greasy potato chips – like so many things, it just depends on what my cravings decide to call for today, too often something I don’t have.

2. If you had to spend one weekend alone in a single store but could remove nothing, which store would you pick? (except food or beverage) I think Ikea. I could spend hours wandering through, looking at what they’re offering now. And they would have comfortable furniture on which I could sit and read, play on the internet – did I mention the store would have to have wifi? – and nap. Besides, they have a little cafe usually, don’t they? Would food I consumed while in the store count as removing something? It would still be in the store, technically – just in a different place and different form. Oh but wait – you said “except food or beverage”, so I guess I was worrying for nothing.

3. What was the largest city you have been to? What is the one thing you remember most? Can you wait just a moment, please? I need to go speak with Google. Okay, ready now. According to what Google found for me, the largest city I have ever been in was Seoul, Korea. Followed by (in order of size) New York City, Beijing, London, Los Angeles and Chicago. What I remember the most about Seoul was the different shopping areas and the Bibimbap, which I loved. About New York City – the embarrassment when visiting book stores there asking for a book called “The Art of Loving” by – ? Eric someone, I think. It was a “self-help” type book, but that was not the way many of the book store people took it, which was made obvious by their comments. About Beijing, the crazy place where items I view as not really edible were offered for purchase to be consumed, all on sticks. London – how none of the little shops in the underground seemed to have the kind of change I needed to ride the subway, which is called something else in London, but now escapes me. In Los Angeles, the manic traffic, the theaters where I saw some excellent plays. In Chicago, a night spent in Union Station awaiting transfer to another train station which would not happen until morning – it was very spooky.

Finish this sentence: It has recently come to my attention that …. I need to get myself up and moving about more than I have been of late. I spend far too much time thinking about what I should be doing and not enough time doing it.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? I am grateful for the rainy days, the books I’ve been reading, friends to share some time with, my furry girls so I have someone to talk to besides myself in the quiet evenings. Are furry girls “someones”? I think so. It’s called furry girl therapy. I’m looking forward to my kids arriving for a couple of weeks – Kat arrives on Saturday night, Gep the following Monday.

This week’s photos are all about birds – such a surprise, I know! This fluffy little guy appeared at the feeder one morning – please try to ignore the reflections on the glass of the window. I think he’s a very young finch.
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The pair of white-headed woodpeckers that have been frequenting the nectar feeders.
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And, for this tree swallow, time to fly away.
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Mowing the Lawn Sets the Mind Free

It has been my intention to mow my lawn for the past several days. However, for the first of those days, we had rain – unseasonable rain here, but ever so appreciated since we are in a drought. Then, the past couple of days – and this is when I knew it was personal – it rained. But only when I walked out the door. When I came back in it stopped. But when I walked out – you get the drift. Some of those days, it rained in the early morning, so I would decide to wait until mid to late afternoon to go mow, but by then the thunder clouds would have rolled in and I knew when the angels were bowling it was foolhardy to ride around the yard on a metal lawn tractor. Those angels sometimes throw gutter balls, you know, and that’s not a good thing for anyone right under the end of that gutter.

So, at last, today dawned only mostly cloudy with no wet drops appearing. I headed into the lean-to to get the mower out, and saw this:
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Hmmm. For the past few weeks often when I’ve entered the lean-to a bird has flown out. I thought it looked like a barn swallow, but looking up at the rafters of the lean-to and around on the shelves, I could see no nest. I checked the eaves of the pump house, the garage, the shop, the house – no nests. Puzzling. This morning as I approached the back of the quad, which is parked next to the lawn tractor, the light bulb in my brain came on, and I looked up. Again. Only this time, I was looking back towards the entrance, not forwards into the lean-to. And what do you suppose I found?!
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Yep, the nest. Now empty, I believe. Maybe they’ll come back next year and I will look more closely. Mystery solved, lawn tractor backed out and pulled into the lawn, all set to mow what looks like the beginnings of a jungle. My big furry girls had followed me outside and, of course, were right in my path, so I slowed and waited for them to move out of the way. See these beautiful, innocent faces?
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Don’t let them fool you! They wander out to the edge of the road, innocently sniffing around. But. As soon as I reach the far end of the yard, the end closest to the road, and I turn back towards the back of the property, they pick up their speed and trot across the road, looking back to see if I’m watching. I again turn the corner and head back to the road, and on their faces I can see “Crap! She sees us!” After several loud verbal commands and a lot of frantic hand commands, they finally decide it would be best if they obey and return to their yard. They lay in the shade, close to the road – until they decide I am not going to stop checking on them and decide it’s more comfortable in the house. “Thank you, spoilsport mom” – I hear them muttering under their breath.

Then, mowing does not require a lot of concentration and I am free to drift as I go. Thoughts meander.

Hmmm, looks like the clover and the sorrel is taking over out here. I wonder why? I did not fertilize this spring – I’ll have to do it in the fall.
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The earliest Clematis to bloom, the one that doesn’t climb but will crawl, is sure pretty this year. I see buds on the climbing varieties, so they should come out soon.
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Boy, I really need to get out and spray around the sprinkler heads with Roundup, then I need to get the string trimmer out to clear around them. I know there’s a sprinkler head in there. I wish Husband had used all of the popup-in-the-ground kind instead of only a few of them.
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Well, darn! I came out and picked up pine cones yesterday, but I see we have some replacements. Right in front of me. This is when my dark side comes out.
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My lips curve into an evil grin, and I think “death to you! My trusty mower and I will not be deterred by the likes of you”, and I hear what sounds much like a witch’s cackle erupt from my throat. In my wake, I leave – destruction.
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My neighbor brings me my mail, having just returned from a trip to our little town just a few miles away and shares the news of the day – our little cafe broken into, but nothing taken. The library broken into, computers stolen. The reasons why I am happy to live a few miles outside of the town and would not want to live in it. I continue to mow, and now my mind is thinking uncharitable thoughts about the parents of the ethnic group that seems to be the cause of the trouble in that town – why do they not feel a responsibility to keep track of their kids? Why can they not teach them respect – for authority, for others, for the property of others. I’m growling.

One threat overcome and the local news pushed to the back of my mind, mowing becomes calmer. I note that my Smoke Tree is smoking
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and the cheerful daisies are blooming.
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And all the while, thoughts form and I realize I have composed a blog post as I mowed. So here it is, and now it’s done and I can go comb the yard debris out of my hair and wash it off my body. It’s time now for lunch, my book, and a nap.

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One Four Challenge – July Week 2

It’s time again for some photoplay with Robyn. Last week I did not share the original photo I was working with, so here it is:
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This week I played and puttered, taking the following steps – as best I recall. There were so many things I tried and dismissed, I’ll not guarantee that my list is precise. I first adjusted levels to lighten the photo (for obvious reasons). Then I copied the original layer, applied the Accented Edges filter, adjusting settings a bit and changed the blending mode to Multiply. Then I applied the Solarized filter, after which I went to the Guided Editing feature of Photoshop Elements and applied the Orton Effect. What I ended up with was this:
July 4 ways orig

Slightly softened umbrellas.

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Remembering Why I Started

A day or so ago, Flamingo Dancer posted a blog “Remember Why You Started”, a nostalgic look back at why she started blogging. This triggered my thoughts about starting to blog – remembering why and when. It was back in the fall of 2009, I believe, when I started a blog on Blogspot with the goal of keeping friends and family advised of where we were and what we were doing while we were on vacation, driving back to Minnesota to visit brother and sis-in-law. Long ago and far away, I think those posts no longer exist – I migrated to my own website for awhile, using WordPress software, then to WordPress where I have stayed quite happily.

Looking back at the oldest posts available to me now, starting in January of 2012, I see a change in my postings. A change I’m not certain I’m pleased with. In those earliest days, the days of Blogspot probably, many of my posts did not contain photos. The addition of photos – beyond those first posts on vacation – happened as time went on. Many of the posts without photos were voicing thoughts and opinions of items seen in the news, as I recall. That changed, I started playing more with the camera, and playing more with words. The days I see now as the fun days in my blogging. But reading those in my WordPress archives, I feel like I am less creative now. Using less imagination. Drier. Boring? Yet those days were more fraught with stress and problems than my days are now. So what happened?
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I am living in the same world, yet it is not the same world. I am in the same body – well, a semblance of the same body. Gravity has been winning more of our battles, the skin is less elastic, is showing more character (that’s what we call wrinkles, you know), wearing a few more badges of honor for having lived a few more years, more of my body is in my feet I think – at least they seem to have grown some. Yeah, changes happen. Change is the constant. But through change I think it critical to preserve humor, to be able to poke fun at yourself, to find the best there is in each day. I wonder if I’m losing that. I want to work on finding more of it.
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I want to play more with my camera. I want to sit less, move more. I want to broadcast my foibles, lest you all begin to think I am just too perfect. Yeah, that’s going to happen, right? I want to grow feistier as I grow older. I want to walk down the street, dragging my cane along the metal fence posts, announcing my presence. I want to spend my Social Security on brandy – no, make that wine – and chocolate. I shall wear a purple dress with a red hat (Warning by Jenny Joseph), paint my house pink with purple polka dots, talk to the birds, the squirrels, the rabbits. Raise chickens. Ride my quad in circles in the dirt, pretending to be a Moto-X contender. And then I want to take a nap. So I can awaken refreshed and ready to go again.
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I want to be – who I was. I want to be – young at heart. I want to be – the old lady walking down the street who makes people think “Oh no! What is she up to now!” Or something like that. I want to be me, but better.

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