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Overly Average

December 16, 2010

Yesterday we visited a friend who is fostering two puppies for our area humane society.  She’s had them a whole week and they have settled in to take over her entire house, rightfully so.  I’m a sucker for puppies and these two seemed to sense that, as they put on their very best show to impress me.  Of course I brought the camera and we tumbled outside to take some pictures, to showcase their cuteness.

Lurking in the background was this woman’s kitty, a very large and very affectionate boy.  He is the official keeper of the puppies and watches over them with a quiet, grand presence; their high energy and nipping tactics don’t seem to phase him.  He walks regally amongst them and they make way for his greatness.  This is a very cool cat and his full name is Overly Average, because he is just that. 

Overly Average, age 7’ish

And here is Jingle, a tiny itty bitty Dachshund mix who grabbed my heart for the full hour we spent with him.  Doll baby!  With an attitude.  He’s a little food aggressive and guards his bowl like a lion, using his full weight of two pounds to commandeer the space around his dish.  A lot of bravado there.  Of course that behavior will need to be amended because when he reaches his full weight, it’s not going to possess nearly the cheekiness it does now at his current stature. 

Jingle, age 8 weeks

And his partner in crime, Noel.  Noel is a just-as-tiny Chihuahua cross who is soft on his paws.  He’s a quiet little fellow who apparently has acquiesced to Jingle’s bravado.  Jingle almost always wins their mini tussles which are accompanied by much yapping and puppy growling.  They are a dynamic duo, never far from one another.

Noel, age 8 weeks

Nothing better than an afternoon spent with puppies.


Mini Model Akita

December 6, 2010

I’ve hung out with many, many different breeds of dogs – mainly because I like them!  Dogs are grand companions and if you take the time to understand the world from their perspective, well then, you’ll have an easier time of it if you happen to be living with one.  One breed that I have not had much opportunity to hang out with is the Akita, let alone an itty bitty one until today!  Meet Ringo.  He’s 8 weeks old and approximately 20 pounds of total confidence.  Not much seems to trip this boy up; you can already get a feel for who he is going to be when he grows up.  He’s going to be one steady and mellow dude. 

He belongs to some good friends, so I toted the camera over to their home today and attempted to capture essence a la Ringo.  When he is fully grown and mature, he’ll likely tip the scales at 150 pounds or so.  Best get on his good side, shouldn’t I?  I met a well-mannered ball of fluff today and took an instant liking to him.  How is it possible not to? 

The family has been loved by an Akita in the past, so they are familiar with the breed’s characteristics.  Plus Dad is an excellent behavior manager of their pack of now three dogs.  This Akita puppy is in very good hands, as it should be.  It will be fun tracking his massive growth surges over the next year.  Right now he’s lap-size and loving all of his animal compadres (cats and dogs) and his human buddies, too.  Taking pictures of puppies is near the top of my favorite things to do.  Great to meet you, Ringo!

Newbies in the Hood

November 22, 2010

This urban farming thing is BITING MY BUTT!  Woo hoo!  Nothing like spreading a fresh bale of straw out in the chicken run and talking to the girls while I work; of course, they are holed up in the coop, poking their scared little heads out because they are terrified of the big bad bale I just hauled into their yard.  That’s precisely when I tease them and call them a bunch of chickens.  Just when I get it spread in an orderly fashion all around the chicken run, the hens come charging back out to investigate, busily hunker down to scratch it out of the way and mess it all up.  Stinkers, every last one of them.  Their agenda is different than mine :).  But the golden straw in the sun is a brilliant backdrop for the colors of their feathers and I pause to take in the scene, very glad to have these little stinker chickens in our lives.

Our brood in the barn is about to get bigger!  Two baby Nigerian Dwarf goats have lain claim to my little heart, and they will be joining us in the near future.  It’s my pleasure to introduce Chewie here on the blog: 


We have not met the other little guy yet, but will this week.  Both babies are bottle feeding, so we’re going to help out with their care until they can come home.  In the meantime we have a pen to build and some reading up to do about goat care!  These guys will be neutered males, so in goat terminology, they are called ‘wethers‘.

My hubby is interested in bringing home a milking doe so we can learn to make cheese, soaps and lotion.  Whoa there, Cowboy – I’m still adjusting to bringing home two new babies!  I actually tasted goat cheese today at an art fair for the very first time, so maybe this is some sort of goat-cheese-karma-fate thing.  That seems to be how my life ticks – like my eyes become open to something I never saw before and it is the coolest thing.  So many adventures to embark upon!

Now we’re tossing around names and planning for their arrival.  Little Nigie number two needs a name, but we’ll meet him first.  It’s best to have two goats so that they keep each other company; a lone goat is just that – lonely.  My grandpa was a farmer in Minnesota.  So many vivid memories of the animals he cared for, guess it won’t let go.  I am happy to share time and space with all sorts of animals, goats being the newest addition.  Who knows where stuff like this leads, but for now we’re enjoying the scenic view!

Canyon Keeper

November 21, 2010

Just outside Taos, New Mexico a tree grows and watches over the canyon behind it.  It’s a noticeable tree primarily because it stands alone along a curve of the road, just as the vastness of Taos is revealed around that bend.  Every time we drive that curve, I look to this tree – kind of as a marker of groundedness.  It has become a favorite.  Much life passes by it at 70 miles an hour; it’s good to stop once in a while to survey the tree at closer range.

Canyon Keeper

16×20 inch print on Etsy

All rights reserved

I think I want to mark this print as a limited edition, but need to learn more about this process.  As I’m finding out, there is SO much more to photography than just pushing the shutter button.  I rather like the journey, though, the curves in the road, the learning and the growing. 

I will have had this particular digital camera for two years come this Christmas (thanks to my husband who gave it to me as a gift); much has transpired since I decided to see what I could do with that new tool.  Prior to enjoying the feel of a camera resting comfortably in my hands, I was interested in drawing, in writing (even some poetry!), in playing with paint, and in working with wood.  I even had a small business where I designed and made primitive items out of wood and other objects.  I’ve quilted, crocheted, knitted, cross-stitched, sewed………..but nothing quite feels like holding the camera and looking at the world through its viewfinder.  I see many wonderful things there, in that little window.  Like the tree, outside Taos, watching over a canyon.  Sorry to wax poetic, but somehow in all of the other ways I have used my hands and creativity, I have not found whatever it is that I have found while using the camera.  It has made me stop and pay attention to the canyon keepers in this world.  Maybe that’s what it’s all about.  Stopping and looking.  Not whizzing by at 70 mph.

Beauty is a Prickly Thing

November 15, 2010

On safari in the desert.  Trekking through the desert?  Walkabout in the desert.  How about meandering through the Desert  Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona yesterday to take a gander at all of the cacti varieties?  That sounds less adventurous, but alas, more like the truth.  Can I proclaim to the world that I have fallen in love with a Saguaro?  He’s tall, handsome, and……prickly.  Kind of hard to get close to.  These are awesome beasts of the desert landscape and provide quite a service to the resident birds and animals who inhabit this dry, dry land.  I have several pictures of the king of cacti that I plan to do something with.

Below is a version of a Prickly Pear Cactus, taken yesterday, artified today.  Purple is a hot color in my world – I especially like it mixed with lime green or a very soft blue-green.  The double doors to our home are purple, two walls inside our home are purple, and I just scored on a muted grayish purple scarf the other day, which I’ve worn three times hence.  I don’t ever tire of a color, really, but it must change with the time and grow along with me. 

Being surrounded by area cacti, they’ve become common subjects for me to photograph and work with.  I’ve learned to never touch them, even though some of them look so soft and fuzzy!  Classic bait and switch maneuver and I refuse to fall victim.  I fell backwards on a very large prickly pear cactus some ten years ago; thank goodness the human brain assimilates such information and categorizes it into a “DANGER, Will Rogers” compartment.  Yowza.  That took months and months to recover from and may it never happen again!  

Here’s a new take on the Prickly Pear Cactus, and it’s titled Beauty is a Prickly Thing.  Soon to be listed on Etsy.

Better Late for a Date

November 7, 2010

Nothing like waiting until the last minute.  I work best like this, under a little pressure, as it were.  Just now finished assembling a 2011 calendar with some of my 5×5 images for a test run.  They are uploading to my online printer as I type this and I’ll pick them up next week.  Guess what the fam is getting for Christmas this year??  You got it – a set of twelve 5×7 calendar prints containing some of my abstract images.  These are neat because you can place them in a 5×7 desktop frame and change them out month by month (something I would totally forget to do unless I wrote it down in my daytimer on the first of each month – gah!)  Then, when you are done, you can trim off the bottom calendar portion and frame the 5×5 print for the wall if you like!

Next year I’d like to market these under different themes.  It’s a little late in the season for a big marketing push now because I don’t have a stellar marketing department waiting at my beck and call…….that entire department would consist of me and at the moment, ‘marketing me’ will be preoccupied with ‘traveling me’ and ‘homeschooling me’, some ‘holiday-making me’ and some ‘chicken-coop-winterizing me’ over the next few weeks.  As any small business owner knows, there’s sometimes only one small business owner to take care of the small business.  And the house.  And the food.  And the laundry.  And the yard.  And the animals.  Really, I’m not complaining!!  It’s my current reality and it’s a good one.

Above is an example of one of the calendar pages – neat, huh?  A different image for each month.  I’m looking forward to packaging these up for Christmas gifts and sending them off.  I hope everyone likes abstract images.  I know my mom will like them because she gave birth to me, but I’m unsure of the rest of my clan……….I can only hope!

Sweet Spots and Sweethearts

November 2, 2010

Generally, I don’t find people all that interesting to photograph, or at least I don’t feel a need to pull out the camera when people are around.  Perhaps seniors and their faces etched with years I’d feel differently about; at least there is inherent character, something I look for in people.  And then, of course, on the opposite end of that spectrum, are the babes under a year old.  Even certain toddlers will make me pause in my tracks to look a little closer – some toddlers possess an undeniable and delightful charm that I’m sure would transfer readily in an image.  It’s exactly that kind of nature that I look for.  Like color, I can usually spot it a ways out.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of photographing a four month old little guy for Halloween.  He was dressed up as a pig in a blanket with a pink pig hat and a yellow blanket.  I took 134 pictures, working with several areas about their home and yard, trying to hit upon that one photo that succeeded in capturing his little magic.  I knew instantly that this was the one that would seal the day, right as I pushed the shutter button.  It’s a feel kind of thing and I felt it.  It’s akin to hitting a softball with a bat in the sweet spot, where the motion seems effortless, without resistance, and the ball feels as if it’s been sliced in half.  Kind of waxing poetic, but this sort of thing does happen when I’m pushing the shutter button.  Sometimes I just know and I’m learning to trust that instinct.

Here’s the best shot of the day, Mr. Pig in a Blanket: