Saturday, December 22, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ups and Downs with CS6

Mostly, new software turns me into a quivering mass of dread and my brain turns to unset jello. On the other hand, new program also inspires me. I get excited about all the things I'm going to be able to accomplish with the new tools. That doesn't mean I learn the software quickly and easily. It's that the joy of discovery eases the pain. 

On the Jesse Dread and Inspiration scale, Photoshop CS6 was a 9.5. I have eyestrain from the tutorials that I've watched and I still feel like a blithering idiot. The first time I launched CS6, my jaw dropped. My first thought was a panicky, "What program is this?!" I knew immediately that I was in for a long and steep learning curve. For me, it's a big leap from CS3 to CS6 and I'm still not done.

Would I go back? Not even that proverbial "team of wild horses" could drag me there. (Well, face it, if there were horses involved, who knows.) The point is I find CS6 a dramatic improvement over previous versions and only wish that I made the move earlier. 

The new ACR alone makes the cost of the upgrade worthwhile, if you shoot RAW files. Since upgrading, I have examined  RAW files previously processed in CS3 and been astonished by the untapped information. This is mostly true with the equine action photography. There were countless cases where I got everything I wanted in the image except the exposure—the black horse running into a shadow resulting in under exposure. In most cases, so far, I have found that the RAW file had all the information that I needed, after all. 

And, I haven't even gotten into those incredible brushes. I like painting with the various brushes before, but this is a whole new world. 

Especially if you shoot RAW files, give CS6 a try.  I don't think you will be able to resist it. It's that good.
Note: new post up at 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I Brought It on Myself

I could just as well have called this, "Some Old Dogs Do Have Trouble with New Tricks". Really, now. Why do I persist in believing that just one more project, one more deadline added to the pile won't make a difference?

Trust me, I don't have a Superwoman complex—never did buy the "You can have it all" business, and I actually have a fairly functional mind. I just don't always engage the section that holds awareness of time limitations.

Somewhere along the line, I became hopelessly enamored with the notion that time is elastic, and we can always get just a little more stretch out of it if we are careful. Of course elastic does have its limitations, after all, and, alas, so does time.

At the other blog, I get into some of the mischief I have stirred up in the past few months and post a thumbnail of one of my newer pieces.

Just to prove that I have "a lick of common sense", as my Dad would have said, I am not trying to do equally detailed post at both blogs. That would tip me right over the edge at this stage.

So, hop on over to Anita Jesse for more about the newest projects and an image

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, December 3, 2012

My New, Shiny Toy

Yes, this new adventure of mine has completely taken over my life. I hadn't posted on Blogger for so long that I couldn't remember where to begin.

I still plan to get back to the real/virtual world of blogging. But, for now I am completely buried. Meantime, if you wonder about anything I am doing, this link will take you to the latest post at where I focus mostly on equine photography. But, I am branching out on that site. More to come on that.

 I hope you will follow me there and we will pick up the conversation about photography, creative processing, the learning process, along with life's funny ups and downs.

Little by ever so little, I am getting my ducks in a row at the gallery. I really leapt into the deep end of the pool—and you may remember that I can't swim! So much to learn, and such short days.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Drop In

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This is lame. I am the first to admit it. But, I have missed all of you for so long and just wanted to say I am alive and plugging along. I think blog posts and messages to you frequently and, yes, I know: fat lot of good that does anyone.
Showing in a gallery is a wonderful education. I had no inkling that I would enjoy it so much. I am exhausted and frazzled by deadlines much of the time. Of course, I bring it all on myself. You knew that, didn't you? But, I am glad I took this on. It has been challenging, exhilarating, and a wonderful opportunity to grow. A big bonus is that I have met new friends—a good thing when you have fairly recently moved to a community. At last, the Tehachapi Valleys genuinely feel like home.
The Husband and Galen are well. Our pup had been giving us a health scare for quite some time and there was some tension with that, but the doctor has told us to relax. Surgery would be stressful, so he will never get neutered, after all. Galen has been unfazed by the drama. He is enjoying life as much as ever.
All members of the equine trio are currently well. Imagine that! No vet bills for the horses in weeks now.
Learning like mad—upgraded to a new computer (Wow! What a great move!) with Windows 7 (big change for me) and still making good friends with CS6 (big jump from CS3 and the new Camera Raw is amazing!). I am in love with the new brushes in this upgrade and so very glad I had gotten my Intuos tablet. My poor, tiny brain aches most days from absorbing new lessons and I am enjoying my work on images more than ever.
Life is good in Bear Valley Springs. I simply had finally gotten too many plates in the air and something was bound to drop. I regret that it was my participation in the valuable conversation with my friends on the web, but hope to fix that. I am clearing up some health issues, may be getting close to getting a handle on the gallery thing, and look forward to finally having time to return to blogging. I have never understood how I was so fortunate to be welcomed into a community of  such outstanding bloggers, but I was (and still am) grateful to have been accepted. I appreciate the welcome and will come back asking to return and catch up on the news.  
Take care, everyone. I miss you.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New Beginnings

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I feel as though I need to introduce myself as a newbie blogger. Come to think of it, that is fitting. After all, I began this blog in July 2007. Now, here I am coming back after a long absence and doing it a few days after my fifth anniversary as a blogger.

My absence was not about being lazy, traveling, or being tired of blogging. When I was first struck with the notion that it would be interesting to explore marketing some of my prints, I thought that was I fairly well prepared. I am curious, by nature, and had long made time to read articles on the pitfalls and strategies for art sales. Certainly, in the beginning, I read the material strictly out of curiosity. But then, I couldn't resist dipping a toe into the water. Talk about slippery slopes! The next thing I knew I was neck deep in art shows and flailing to stay afloat. Yikes! I have to get out of this deep water metaphor. There is history here.

I do have a habit of getting into things that are over my head. When I was young and even more foolish, I took up water-skiing in spite of the fact that I was never able to learn to swim. That is, unless you count dog paddling for a couple of yards, at best. Still, my desire to get up on those skis overpowered my fear of drowning and ski I did. I even had a grand time doing it. Those life vests make you feel indestructible—provided you haven't yet hit your twenties and your brain hasn't begun to grasp the concept of mortality.

My foray into selling my work reminds me of that person I was long ago. Here I am older—oh, so keenly aware of my mortality—yet diving into things without considering all the possibilities. Yes, I thought long and hard about the preparations for this venture, and I felt pretty darned ready. Hey, I had my bright orange life vest at the ready, didn't I? What I didn't anticipate was handling the sales and keeping up with all that entailed.

Reminds me of the night we took the skis out on a lake waiting for the moon to come up. Of course we hadn't checked to see when the moon was rising! Are you kidding? I was a kid a very long time ago. One didn't pull up that info on a smartphone, because we didn't even have cell phones for Pete's sake. There we were on a vast body of water—one well-stocked with Water Moccasins—under pitch black skies (no city light lights for many, many miles), racing along atop the inky water and laughing like the numbskulls we were. It hadn't occurred to us how the driver of the boat would find us when one us went down. Since the other silly female on skis was even more a novice than I, she went down first. That is when it finally hit me that I had to drop the rope out there in that thick darkness and wait, trusting.

I have had flashbacks on that experience during the last few weeks. Still, just as my young and foolish self had faith, so have I. Back then, I didn't really dwell on the fact that we could be run over by some other nut jobs tearing around that lake and unable to spot a body bobbing up and down thanks only to an inflated orange vest. Now I am taking this adventure one day at a time. I try to stay calm while dealing with a perpetual state of lagging behind my ambitions and barely meeting deadlines.

It has been a great ride, so far. After all, there are no deadly poisonous snakes on this body of water. Yippee! Crank up that engine! Faster, faster!

Monday, May 7, 2012


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Where the heck have I been? You know what I have been up to and you are not at all surprised that I am working at preparing for this show as though Heaven and Earth depended upon it. I figure if I am going to do it, I may as well go all out.

Meanwhile, the rest of life has not stood still. The Husband's quest for answers regarding the gray gelding's back has yielded little results. The man can't be faulted for not trying. Near the end of his imagination, resources, and patience, he got a phone call a couple of days ago that added a bit more chaos to our lives.

A fellow farrier called, while we were on the road, and said he had a lead for Jim on a great prospect of a horse. To make a long story short, the fellow above arrived at our place Saturday afternoon. Lancer and Night were terribly excited about the stranger on their property. The animal was touching their things and eating their carrots! What an insult. But, they were deeply curious. Naturally, the gelding's arrival had to be documented.

There will be more information about our new addition in the weeks to come and I will probably steal a few minutes here and there for some more photos. His registered name is Ground Zero. It seems he was born on September 11, five years ago. The name is appropriate, but neither of us can handle the sound of it—too many unpleasant memories. So far, the young gelding is simply "The Black". We didn't think Walter Farley would mind.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

June Art Show

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How many times do we think, "Hey, I want to do that/be there/accomplish that/go there—or whatever" and nothing ever comes of it?  Conversely, there are those times when you are struck by something you would like to have happen and maybe you even spend some time creating pictures in your mind in which you realize that dream or ambition. Then, lo and behold, it happens.

While I kept crazy busy with very small art shows last fall, I held a picture in the back of my mind for a show at a particular gallery in town. This time the pictures in my mind's eye materialized. For First Friday, June 1, 2012, I will be the featured guest artist at Tehachapi's Gallery 'N Gifts and twenty, or more, of my pieces will be exhibited. The work will remain on display throughout the month of June. More information coming about this soon.

The art director, SG, at the gallery is wonderful to work with and I am honored to have been chosen. Lucky me. June should be a very good month to have my show which means I must present only my very best work. SG is a fan of my equine pieces and that is what has generated the most interest at shows thus far. Consequently the June show, will focus exclusively on that part of my work.

My readers know me well enough to know that I am busy tweaking completed pieces. Between a vision slowly, but constantly, evolving and developing new finishing techniques, I can never convince myself to stick with an old print once I have new insight into a piece. Naturally, I look at those and think that I should be able to do the tweaking in no time at all. And then I dig in. Oops, where has the time gone?

I am doing fairly well at a regimen of working smart, meaning that I get away from the computer by 5:30 PM to assure that I am not dangerously tired by the end of the evening. The last thing I want is a relapse of that hideous bug. The downside of my discipline is that I have no time for anything other than keeping my nose firmly connected to my little grindstone. The To-Do List for the show is formidable and I am on the edge of being overwhelmed.

In case you didn't catch it, the last paragraph was a veiled excuse for why I have yet to describe my crazy experiment for the last show. I tried getting a snapshot of the piece once it was hung at the venue; but, no luck. I wish preparations for this show had been smoother; but, things were a little hectic around here. First, I must say that thanks to The Husband, aka The Knight in Shining White Armor, the piece was completed in time for the show. One afternoon when my body had said, "Stop, or else", he put on the finishing touches.

"Eclipse—a Velvet Darkness", printed on metal at 11x14, floated above a frame/mat that consisted of a 16x20 base covered with a rich chocolate brown suede leather. The outside edges of the frame were finished with antique brass upholstery nails. The piece created a nice stir on arrival, Saturday morning at the venue, and was purchased the moment the doors opened. Since there had been more than a little angst on my part about this experiment, I was delighted that it turned out so well.
I will do my best to stay somewhat present at my blogs and, yes, I will eventually visit blogs. You cannot know how much your encouragement has meant to me.

I hope you will check out the post on these two pieces of news at my fine art prints blog.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Old Dogs and New Tricks

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"You can't teach an old dogs new tricks." So goes the old saw. By now, I am a prime example of how unreliable that old saying is. This old dogs just keeps learning tricks. While preparing for two art shows, spending time getting to know and appreciate my Wacom pen, and keeping up with the lively Sheltie who runs our place, I faced a longtime challenge. For years, Microsoft Excel sat there in my hard drive and I never went near it. The term spreadsheet made my blood run cold. I had all but taken a vow to never tackle the job of learning. Let others make their spreadsheets, I reasoned. I would continue to stumble along with my little calculator and my scribbled notes on odds and end of paper and sometimes actually getting information into my computer.

A few days before the flu bug took me down, it became clear to me that I could no longer deal with my so-called record keeping and I was sick of calculating the same numbers over and over, ad nauseum. I knew I would have to learn a new piece of software and wasn't eager to deal with the inevitable headaches that would entail, but plunged into the fray anyway.

With the help of the Internet, I sailed through—well, for me it was relatively sailing through—in a couple of days and absorbed the basics of creating an Excel spreadsheet along with formulas and formatting. Whoduthunkit? Now, of course, I am kicking myself for not having learned this years ago. Formulas are the cat's pajamas. No more calculating and recalculating with each slight alteration in figures. Enter a new amount in column C and whammo!, the formula takes care of all that number crunching across all those columns. Excuse me for gushing, but as one seriously intimidated by numbers, this equals a little bit of magic for me. I may even become a spreadsheet fanatic.

I am not yet the full strength version of Anita—I am productive for very few hours any give day, but I am getting closer to recovery. I have another art show to prepare for—more coming about that soon. Besides, Galen has been going through an allergy reaction that has cut back on everyone's sleep. As soon as possible, I will post more about the next show. I am already a tad anxious about all the work to be done. I need a robot to take care of oh, so many details.

The image above is from a very old photograph and one that I barely liked enough to keep in the files. I never found any reason to share it and kept it only because each time I stumbled across it it reminded me of a beautiful display that I had the good fortune to witness. I haven't yet found how to make this work to my satisfaction, but at least I have reached a point, recently, where I am willing to share a version with you. Perhaps there is enough here that, with some imagination, you will have an inkling as to what captivated me and convinced me to hold on to a deeply flawed photograph. Sometimes, it is enough to have files that serve only to jog our memories, to remind us (perhaps when we most need it) that there is much in our lives that is sublimely beautiful and needs neither explanation nor excuse for being.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I have tried my best, this morning, to come up with a clever and amusing post to cover for my absence and rudeness to a couple of kind folks who left comments. Ultimately, I got nothing. I will blame it on the high fever.

I have been yucky sick. Let's just sum it up with the one smarty statement. Soon, they will have a spot reserved for me at the emergency room of one of the hospitals in Bakersfield and, trust me, it isn't because we donated a wing to the campus.

Back soon. Rip-roaring with energy and all sorts of enthusiasm for new work and good things on the horizon. And, that's not fever talking.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Blue Horse and Other Dreams

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These days, I am not only dreaming about blue horses, but all the art show deadlines on my calendar.  A framed print of the blue horse above sold in October and will be part of the next show on the horizon.

At the end of this month, I will be part of the Bear Valley Springs Cultural Arts Spring Show. Of course, any sane person would simply have filled in the entry form with names of pieces currently hanging on the walls in our house and that would have completed my preparation. However, that sane part would describe someone else. Certainly not me. Instead of taking the easy path, I am working on something new for this show that has raised a whole bucket-load of questions and new challenges. I won't get into details until I know that it either has worked or turned into a flop. I am sane enough to have provided myself with a backup in case this experiment fails. You can bet that I will eventually let you know how the experiment goes.

Each artist is limited to five pieces and for this show I have decided to go with all equine prints. With the publishing of this post, you will have seen all the images to be used for the show. When I get closer to the show, I will publish a link to the five pieces and let you see my portion of the big annual show and social event here in Bear Valley Springs.

You can get more background on the horse above, how this piece evolved, and how it is displayed at Anita Jesse.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Power of the Pen

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My recent distraction can be blamed partly on my early Valentine gift and what it set in motion. Nothing against roses, but this present beat flowers all to heck.

For a long time, I have flirted with the idea of getting a Wacom tablet. The masks I paint for my serious work are maddening and I was reasonably certain the pen would save me a great deal of time. Still, I dragged my feet over the cost and a couple of other doubts. One, I have been using a mouse for about thirty years now and wasn't sure how quickly I would adapt. Second, the problems with my right hand caused me some concern. The recent surgery took care of both instances of trigger finger, but I still get cramps in that hand—in a different part of my hand, curiously enough. I didn't know how long I would be able to hold the pen without a problem.

Finally, I stopped stalling and told The Husband I had decided what I wanted for Valentine this year. When I put in my request, he said it sounded like something I should get right away. Well, I'm no fool and took him up on the offer. It was pretty much love at first sight. I wouldn't say that I am already one hundred percent efficient with the pen; but, I can definitely say that it is a winner in my book.

Sure enough, I have to limit my time with the pen. Early on, I got one of those cramps because I got a little carried away. But, no problem. I am quite content doing all my set-up work with the mouse and just using the pen for finishing work. "Finally", you are probably saying. You are right. It is a little embarrassing to admit it took me so long.

The piece above (also posted at my business site) was the first piece I worked on with the pen and I am now a confirmed Wacom fan. Jump on over to Anita Jesse for the non-techie story on this piece.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gremlins, Surprise Sales, and Such

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The guest who arrived the day family departed was one of my ex-students. She is an absolute delight and we were so pleased that she took time out of her busy trip to California to spend some of it with us. As noon last Wednesday approached—her scheduled time to hit the road, she announced that she needed a few minutes to browse through my prints once again. I was thrilled that she wanted to spend a few more minutes with my work and I encouraged her take her time with her final tour. After all, her energy was a tonic for us and I hated to see her leave.

She moved slowly from one viewing section to another, hall to room to another hallway, then said, "I brought one blank check with me just on a whim." I didn't grasp the meaning of the sentence and how it connected with her tour of the prints. It turned out she wanted to buy a framed print. I was taken aback, but obviously pleased at the turn of events.

After considerable deliberation, she returned again to the image above (repeated posting here), and said that she couldn't resist the one with the gremlin on his back. I chuckled because when I completed that piece, I hadn't a single thought about gremlins. Then Steve Weeks (Steve doesn't have a blog to link to. Wish he did) posted a comment and asked about the creature on the horse's back. Well, of course, since that time, I can't not see the beast. How I ever missed it is now beyond me.

After Steve's comment,  my first impulse, frankly, was to fix it. I seriously considered reworking the piece immediately, reprinting, and ridding the  horse of his gremlin burden. But, the more I thought about it the more I knew it wasn't the right thing to do. That gelding has had a demon on his back for years. He was, apparently, mistreated as a youngster and never fully regained his trust in humans. He was a one-woman horse. You could easily sense the wildness in him. Since I have often talked about allowing my subconscious mind to play its role in my creative life, it seemed quite hypocritical to deny all that by throwing out something that made it all the way to print and show without my conscious mind ever catching on. To deny my work philosophy along with the horse's story and erase these influences after the fact didn't ring true. Ultimately, I let the work stand.

It seemed fitting that there was surprise to complete the strange story of this image. The last thing on my mind while our charming guest was with us was art sales. Her purchase was a delicious surprise and I shouldn't have been shocked that she chose a piece that had already offered some surprises.

Update: The material in this post (with slight revisions) is currently posted at my Fine Art Prints blog.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hanging Pictures

No, I didn't fall off the planet. But, once or twice, it was the fingernails that saved the day. We learned, on relatively short notice, that we were the lucky hosts of the family reunion. Note that I say "relatively short notice" that is short compared to how much needed doing to prepare for the arrival of the group. Since I got a little carried away with art shows last year and produced quite a bit of new work, that meant piles of frames collected and were stuck on the floors. I began to notice that the room once designated (only by me) as "the gallery" (any normal person would have recognized it as the formal dining room) had considerable less floor space than when we first first moved in. It had even crossed my mind that the room would soon shrink to the point of becoming a hallway to nowhere.

How could this happen, you ask? Well, for one thing, when we moved in, this house was only about four years old and the walls still had a lovely coat of mostly uninterrupted paint. This became a thing with The Husband. While I have mentioned more than once what a catch he is, he is human—yes, there is a flaw here and there. He had adopted this notion that he didn't want "a bunch of nails" in the wall. We had hung a few things that I talked him into, along with a few picture shelves, and I had used a bunch of easels as well as the fireplace mantel. Yet, we had a warehouse of frames leaning against walls and an expanse of lovely empty walls. Beautifully painted. Clean. Boring. Empty. Walls.

While we are on The Husband's eccentricities—you hear about mine all the time—the period leading up to house guests has become quite predictable in our home. I have played my part in this little ditty dozens of times in the 30+ years we have been married. If there is any notice at all, I begin making an effort to clean the place up as soon as I get the word that guests are coming. I immediately sense panic, because of course I am always in the middle of some all-encompassing project. On each occasion, I had managed to virtually overwhelm myself with ambitions and deadlines leaving no time for the routine of housework. And, equally inevitable was The Husband's response to my rising panic. "Don't be silly. No one cares what the house looks like. You make too much over it. Stop fretting and relax."

Many years ago, I would fall for that line. Such naivete. Soon however, I learned that it was a trap. A devious, seductive, but stinking trap. Every time I would be rocking along, focusing on my all important, new and wonderful adventure at whatever, oblivious to the impending storm. Then, suddenly one morning, the man I lived with would be replaced by this obsessed person who could talk about nothing except what needed to be picked up, put away, thrown away, washed, dusted, or just generally fixed. I know, you are probably saying why not let him clean and count my blessings. That is because you have never been through this whirlwind.

Soon, he's interrupting me with "What can I do with this junk of yours? Can I throw this out? Do you need this anymore? I'm taking all this junk to the dump, anything you want?" Needless to say, any possibility of concentrating on my project is impossible and I get sucked into the whirlwind.  Well, I am on to him now. When he says, "Don't worry. No one cares, but you", I smile (mostly) and continue cleaning. I am on to his tricks.

This time, the place had gone completely to pot. The end of last year was about art shows and a new web site. January was about being sick. Housecleaning? No way. To top it all off. We had family leaving on a Tuesday morning and another house guest arriving that afternoon. It was going to be interesting. But, this time there was a surprise.

About two weeks before the guests were due here—right on schedule, he walked into my warehouse meant to someday be my gallery, scanned the piles of frames, and announced, "We need to hang this stuff on the walls." Fortunately, I was near a door jamb and didn't hit the floor. I hustled to my studio, nervously grabbed the ever-ready hangers and hammer (and I was never even a Girl Scout!), and said, "Where shall we start?" I was so startled, I couldn't believe it would last.

For days, we spent part of each day hanging prints. In between, I dusted, washed, put away, and cleaned alongside this transformed creature—always anxious about when the old and familiar man might reappear. Fortunately, there was no relapse and, over several days, more nails were tapped into place until the house was transformed. At the end, he stood back and said, "Wow, the place looks great."

I am still pinching myself and periodically have to browse through all the rooms marveling at all my work hanging. It seems that the gallery spread quite a lot beyond the walls of what was built to be a dining room. When the dust settled and the last guest left, last Wednesday, I was bleary-eyed with exhaustion, but smiling. And, I am still smiling.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Cloud of Dust

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I love watching a horse just turned out and eager to work out the kinks. Here, Night was feeling especially good and relishing every moment of his freedom. You can almost hear him snorting and whistling as he kicked up the dust—coiling and uncoiling those muscles, celebrating his power.

When I work on an image such as this one, I always think of Mark Graf, since he has mentioned on numerous occasions revisiting images. This is one of those that I shot years ago and have always known that eventually I would know what I wanted to do with it. Finally, in late last year, I could see this one and knew where I wanted to go with it. In the past, I wasted a great deal of time worrying an image, attempting to force it to give up its secrets. Over time, I finally found the patience to interrupt these struggles, listen, and discover, finally, what is locked inside an image. It is amusing to me that when I finally have found my way, I can't imagine why I didn't see it all along.

As usual I have gotten myself into all sorts of things in the last couple of weeks. To top off the distraction angle, we have a houseful of guests arriving in just over a week. During my nasty cold, I let the house devolve into chaos and now it is catch-up time. As if that weren't enough, I have been on a roller coaster with my back: getting dramatically better; no, snapped back into deep mind-numbing pain. I stubbornly cling to optimism about this all being a positive sign. I went for a walk about a week ago and, while I could barely put one foot in front of the other by the time I got back to the backyard gate, it was exhilarating and I can't wait to do it again. I am determined to improve during this coming year.

I can't blame all of my absence on pain, house cleaning and rehab. My recent distraction is partly due to the influence of Roberta Murray. I caught on immediately to the fact that Roberta is a very smart lady. Thus, when she mentioned an article on art marketing, I ran to the site and was almost immediately hooked. I have been soaking up information and not giving anything back. That is nothing to brag about. My fascination isn't just with the articles about selling. Many of my favorites are about painting techniques and, since I never studied painting, my mind has been awhirl with some new-to-me and wondrous information, as well as some validation of my own blundering discoveries. Thank you, Roberta.

Of course, there is always something going on in the computer department. Recently, The Husband and I spent one fun afternoon, rewiring the maze of cables under my desk. Oh, boy, that was a fun time. It was well worth the effort, however, because I have better access to some switches and little things such as this simplification can make a big difference.

Although I have only scratched the surface, I will resist the effort to talk about all the things I have cooking now—such as working feverishly on some new pieces. Instead, I will save the rest of my jabbering for another day.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog Day

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Forgetting about Groundhog Day is typical for me. Having grown up south of the Mason-Dixon Line, Spring almost always seemed to come fairly early. Besides, it wasn't something you looked forward to with intense longing, almost desperate to escape long, dreary days of snow and ice. Our winters were fairly mild. Although we have four seasons up here, we still can't complain about long, bitter winters. We get off quite easy compared to those of you in the north.

So far this year, Old Man Winter has pretty much ignored us. We have had cold days and hard freezes at night —our lowest temperature of 9.6 degrees one night; yet, over all, winter has felt more like an unusually cold autumn. All that rain last year must have depleted our five-year supply, because we are sorely needing moisture here. Of course last year we had enough snow to last me a couple of years; but, this year we have so little it isn't worth mentioning. Since the old-timers in our valley tell us the colder winters are more typical up here, last year was a throwback it would seem.

I am not forgetting, however, that we still have February and March to go, and last year that is when we had the majority of our snow. I am not going to pack the snow boots away just yet. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Molten Lava Sky

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Absolutely minimal processing. One tweak of exposure. A tiny bit of noise reduction because it was shot with the G7 at ISO 400, at least. Maybe 800. No Kidding.

We were on our way back from Los Angeles, Thursday, and The Husband decided on a whim to take the all-freeway route back home. We had both just commented on what a beautiful day it had been with the air still clean and fresh from the rain earlier in the week. We were crossing the Mojave Desert when the sun began to dip to the horizon and we could see we were headed for a lovely sunset. We couldn't have known we were in for this treat. The Husband pulled off the freeway in the Mojave Desert and we stood, for some time, gaping at this giant cloud looking more like molten lava than any cloud I have seen. I wish I had been carrying a wide angle lens and a camera to do this justice, but just watching this marvel was reward enough. Any record at all was a bonus for me.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Bad Backs in the Family

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The last post called for a follow-up. My delay is due to one of those unscheduled rest breaks. But, I am on the way back.

Although Night is not out of the woods, The Husband reports that he is 60 to 70 percent improved. Judging by your comments, you will want to know that the gelding has not been in constant pain, limping about and miserable. The tenderness in his back only shows up on examination after a relatively rigorous workout. Of course, horses are stoic creatures. All the stories of the animals dying in harness or finishing a race on a shattered leg bear witness to that stoicism. If you ask a horse who trusts you to keep going, he will likely do his utmost to please you. The Husband pays very close attention to any trouble signs to assure that his horse isn't put in pain.

The report from the husband, after a test ride on Friday is that Night is around 60% improved. Better, but not out of the woods. Today, blood is being drawn to check for any other irregularities that might be contributing to the back soreness. The Husband has been searching for answers for some time now. He is not excited about either of the choices should the problem persist indefinitely. He can give up ever riding endurance and turn the gray into a pasture ornament, or purchase a new horse for endurance races and turn the gray.... 

Neither of us is excited about adding another mouth to feed, not to mention the inevitable medical bills. I shudder when I think of all the money that has been spent trying to solve these issues with Night. Horses are expensive animals to keep. Buying one is only the tip of the iceberg. And, we are not the type of people who can discard one when he is no longer serving the purpose you had in mind. Especially in this current economy, if you own a horse, you have a commitment that should be honored.

As to photographing the adventure last week, don't think it wasn't on my mind. I almost didn't write the post, because I thought "What is the point, if there are no photos to tell the story?"

However, as much as I would like to have taken a stab at making a photo-record, during the first part of the session, I was quite occupied. The gelding had just been let out after a trailer ride and was being handled by a stranger in a strange location. He was, shall we say, in high spirits. Completely relaxed on safe turf, horses can be downright sedate. Away from home, strange hands, some breeds especially get quite hot.

Night's nostrils were extended. Every muscle tensed to cope with all the unfamiliar stimuli. These are prey animals and they really appreciate predictability, not the unknown. We were on a somewhat narrow drive. I was busy staying out from under the gray's feet (have you ever noticed how quickly those feet can move?), while sidestepping Corgis (three of them), staying out of serious mud puddles, and steering clear of the edge of the drive that dropped off at a steep enough angle to get my attention. Plus, remember that I am a long way from agile. For The Husband, dodging the fast action was a piece of cake.

For the second part of the session, Chip and Night were in a covered 12x12 outdoor stall (read very poor light). The action was fleeting and extremely subtle. There definitely wasn't room in there for a slow-moving woman with a camera. Moreover, Chip was quite cordial, but struck me as a private and all business type of guy. I didn't think he would appreciate the idea of being turned into a photo-op. Still, if I were a talented photo-journalist as several of you are (Paul, in particular, comes to mind), I probably would have found a way. As it was, I was so mesmerized by the unfolding scene that I remained quite content just paying attention to every detail I could absorb. I would need to see this man work a few times before I felt comfortable attempting to record the story. For now, I have to settle for words.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

'Tis The Season

Recently, it has been that time of year for cold and damp air, heavy, dull skies, minimal light—a world clad in muddy grays and browns. I am grateful that we don't have endless days of this sort of weather, as it has a way of weighing me down. These are the days that I tend to stay close to the fireplaces and find it is difficult to muster enthusiasm about getting out, or even beginning new projects.  Thankfully, we don't have endless weeks of the drearies.  For example, after a couple days of hiding from the weather, I watched eagerly yesterday morning as the sun came up. And, sure enough, blue sky. A rather pale and watery blue, it's true. Still, blue. And full of promise.

Tuesday, there was a bit of adventure despite the gloomy weather. The gray gelding has been having back trouble. Is stuff like this contagious?! It seems to run in our family. So, off we went to Caliente to see the horse chiropractor—horse trailer loaded with a gray gelding behind. There wasn't enough light for photo opportunities. Besides, there wasn't any time for dawdling and, with the low light, drive-by photography was out of the question. I went to get out of the house and to see the Caliente area, or at least what was visible through the mist.

I ended up enjoying, most of all, watching the chiropractor work with the horse. It was quite an eye-opening demonstration of skill. Years of experience, patience, a gentle hand, and techniques honed over time, topped off with an affection for horses produced an impressive package. He was masterful. At first Night was wary and, of course, you could see where his back was sore by the degree to which he flinched when the poking and prodding of the examination began. Night didn't trust this person he never seen or smelled and was in no mood, after a trailer ride, to succumb to that sort of handling much less any sort of physical manipulation at the hands of a total stranger.

It was fascinating to watch the man use his calm and confident nature along with skilled handling to melt the gelding's defenses. In no time, Night was not only eating from the man's hand (not a real challenge with this boy), he was softening and bending his neck to reach back over his withers to grab the little bits of green grass. At one point, when his new friend excused himself to get a tool for a special task, Night watched him wistully and clearly awaited his return. He had become putty in this trainer/chiropractor's hands.  In less than half an hour, Chip had completely won the horse's trust, and had diagnosed the problem areas. From that point forward all he had to do was ask and Night gave him what he wanted. While Chip pushed, pulled, stretched, and put the gelding into unfamiliar positions often verging on off-balance, the animal never balked, never questioned the man. It was an amazing thing to watch.

Night may or may not be past his bad back and able to do endurance races, but I am grateful for a private demonstration of a master horseman at work. If I were much, much younger and aspired to working with horses professionally, I would pay to apprentice with someone this good.   

Monday, January 23, 2012

What the Heart Can Imagine

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"In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine." 
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happier Times

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Update: Blogger is playing nasty, this afternoon. I am going to roll over and play dead. If you click on the link you can see the image.

(I trust that by now most people are noticing that clicking on some of the thumbnails here will not accomplish much. There is still a link to a larger version, but that link is in the text below the thumbnail. This new workflow is giving me headaches to get used to, as well; but when it comes to using images at the new website, it makes for a much smoother workflow.)

If you would prefer to skip the sad sack, personal, post below, link to the much more upbeat post at the new blog.

I haven't exactly been Miss Sunshine for the early days of 2012. The hard work on my new site paid off, I think. Before long, I will get to some more tweaking. But, I can live with it as is for now.  The bad cold I am fighting was almost certainly triggered by lack of sleep which came courtesy of the long hours working far outside my expertise as well as some losses and major disappointments that I haven't handled well. Another of those periods where life serves up lemons and it's up to us to make lemonade. Clearly, I have misplaced the sugar or I got rotten lemons, because the taste in my mouth is still sour.

One of the disappointments comes from having learned that someone in whom I had placed great faith and for whom I had enormous affection is a fraud. This is a person who has been living a lie for years, now, and I was one of the suckers. Only, I didn't have to be reeled in. Heck, I jumped into the net. 

This person I loved—from a relatively safe distance, granted—was deeply flawed from top to bottom and now I am reeling. Reeling from shock, disbelief, and that awful aftermath of betrayal.  This is one of life's most bitter lessons. Learning that we really know so few people. We are attracted to the public persona, to the personality these people perfect for the public. We have all known them and by the time you have lived many years, you have been taken in by a few. Still, it is never painless.

Like all of life's wounds, this one will scab over and eventually heal. It just takes time. I still have a lot of good memories thanks to this person and, soon, those memories will overpower this sour feeling. I am focusing on those good times, now, and waiting for the weight to shift.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Monday: The Day the Circus Came to Town

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Judging by how things are going here at Blogger, it Looks as if the circus may not have pulled out, after all. Maybe today will be interesting, too.

The last week actually didn't have a midway kind of feeling at all. Instead, it was quite somber. recently, life has been all about losing friends. Death, a couple dealing with terminal illnesses, and one the victim of self-destruction. Losing friends and loved ones is a natural part of life, but every so often there is pile-up in the schedule and one's coping skills get a bit frayed with overuse.

Sunday, I attended a memorial service and got through that reasonably well. I even went to bed that night thinking I had a fifty-fifty chance of getting some sleep in spite of the lingering hacking cough. And then, in the wee-est hours of the morning, the coughing was abruptly interrupted by the thought that the trial period offered by my web host had likely expired. I crawled from beneath the covers to check on the iPad and verified my suspicions. After getting the credit card and switching to the PC, I paid to secure the site and thought, "Now, now some rest, surely". Boy, was I wrong about that.

At this point, I have to skip to summing up the feel of the day, because the list of things that went whacko is far too long to enumerate and each is so trivial as to be of no interest to anyone—including me, at this point. For a general feel of the chaos, it ranged from a power outage, to news that underneath its covers my website was a wreck, to news that my daily prescription could not be refilled, then a lively wriggling dog covered in mud faced by a lady who can't get get up and down off the floor without major assistance. And not a husband in sight. He (the Husband) was gone for the day and I was fielding calls from him all day about things he had lost and how exhausting his trip was.

I knew I could give in to rage, sit down and cry, or find the humor in it all.  I elected to see the day as a Keystone Kops sort of affair. Or, an episode of I Love Lucy, only picture a crippled-up, decrepit Lucy trying to deal with those chocolates on the conveyor belt. Every time I thought I was getting on top of things another "pipe would burst".

It definitely was a circus of sorts. No cheerful calliope music; but, it took my mind off my mourning.

Today, we only have frozen water pipes. Yawn. Looking good, so far.

Monday, January 16, 2012

About the Circus

Tomorrow, if I have recovered sufficiently, I will tell you why it has ended up being over a week since my last post. Meanwhile, it appears that all is well again at my new site,

Is it my imagination, or do a number of fellow bloggers seem in a mood to test boundaries in this new year? Perhaps I am just more conscious and noting the changes, experiments, and flaunting of critics. Not that it is new, but that tone feels concentrated at the moment. It could very well just be my present perspective. What do you think?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, January 8, 2012

An Invitation and a Link

Whew! Do my eyes look puffy? Can you tell I haven't been getting much rest? What a few days this has been.

Since I had almost nothing on my plate and for most of the second half of last year I sat around munching bonbons with my feet up, just dozing off now and then. What? No, I think that I thought about doing that one day, but just never got around to it. Anyway, I decided that I really needed a big project to begin the new year with a bang. Right now it feels too much like a schplat, but that may be mostly because my head is throbbing and I am having trouble remembering exactly why this was so critical. More about that in an upcoming post.

What have I gotten into now? Well, last year I got it in my head that I desperately needed a separate website that was current and featured exclusively the prints that I display in these small local shows. A separate website strongly implied the need for a new blog to accompany said site, right? Of course, the smart thing would be to say "Leave well enough alone. Make the sites you have work for you."

You are getting ahead of me. Stop that snickering. You know, by now, exactly what I have been doing. Yes, non-techie-Anita, took on building two new sites. Before you say, "No big deal. Last week, I built one for a friend in a couple of evenings after work. Just used templates." Remember who you are talking to here. I struggle posting on the sites I already have. Building these two cost me heaven only knows how many hours off my life-span, since I am seriously handicapped in all things web-related. Okay, computer-related. But, since when has logic and self-preservation led me to make sensible decisions?

Plunge in I did. Finally, after you couldn't believe how many hours—no, really, it is humiliating to admit how long it took to get to this point of showing these sites to anyone without hanging my head in total shame—I am willing to send out the invitations.

Be kind to a poor beaten up non-computer geek in way over her head. But, please, please pass on information about obvious errors such as links that don't work or take you to weird unexpected destinations. No porn sites I hope. Heck, I don't know. Mostly guys stop in here and you might not care. I trust that Roberta would forgive my ignorance. I hope that no backstage clutter is visible and that both sites are somewhat presentable.

When I have recovered a wee bit, I can begin the second stage of tidying up the premises and adding niceties. Right now, I need to see if there are any bonbons in the house. Brownies would do.