Friday, December 25, 2009

I Love Wikipedia!

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For! :-D

A New Jersey Winter Wonderland



We got dumped on last Friday into Sunday. What with all the shoveling, extra work with the animals and Christmas stuff, I haven't gotten a chance to post here since then. I didn't dare take my big Nikon camera out in the mess, but I did get quite a few shots with my trusty little Canon point and shoot tucked into my pocket.




Rudy, my soon to be 30 year old Paint, loves the snow. I call him my big Nordic Pony. He was out in the storm every chance he got and was happy as a clam just trucking around his paddock, plowing through the snow like he was a four wheel drive Snow Cat.


Rita, on the other hand, is just like a cat. She doesn't want to touch the stuff, let alone walk in it.


I had to shovel a loop for her just to get her out of her stall. (A potentially dangerous venture to be caught in the trenches with nowhere to go when she decided to bolt. Once I did end up in a snow pile with just my hand with my camera sticking out.) Later that day she got brave and ventured off on her own. She has a nice sense of design, don't you think?


Compare her trail to Rudy's well worn network of pathways here.

You can see my entire "After The Storm" slide show here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas!


Our probability of a white Christmas just increased from 10% yesterday to 50 - 75% today. We are expected to get dumped on tonight, all day tomorrow and into Sunday morning. Woo Hoo! Can't wait! Here's a shot from this past March taken here on our property. Will you be waking up to a winter wonderland this Christmas too?

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.
~Bill Morgan, Jr.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas in the Head, Na, Na, Na, Naa . . .

I have to put Christmas music on these days just to drown out the carols in my head! Yes, the music is nonstop, 24/7, even in my dreams. I was just wondering if it was just me or if any others out there are experiencing this phenomenon. In my large collection of holiday tunes, of course I've got my favorites. For the past 24 hrs. it's been: SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS, AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE, ANOTHER YEAR OVER, A NEW ONE YET BEGUN, NA NA NA NAA, and repeat. Then, A MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR, NA NA NA NA NA NAA, NA NA NA NA, NAA. :-D ! !

This snowman image (without the copy of course) is available for licensing here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Resurfacing GOOGLE "WORK FROM HOME SCAM" !

I am embarrassed to report that I got hooked into an old, yet initally very convincing scam this morning. I have gotten hundreds of similar "offers" like this one from "Google" before, however this one peaked my curiosity and somehow suckered me in. The offer was to send $1.95 for more information on how to make money with Google. It was only after signing on for "the kit" that among other things, I get a link to "Disclosures". "Disclosures" stated that you have to cancel within three days or you will be charged a $129. intitial enrollment fee and $40. p. month thereafter to remain in their "program". Yikes, what did I do! ?! I tried three different numbers they provided to "speak to a representative" only to get caught up in a long list of phone recordings and prompts. Finally after waiting for 5 or 10 minutes, I would get abruptly disconnected. On my forth or fifth try, I finally did speak to a real person who said their company had nothing to do with the company I had signed up with. That's funny, because the confirmation email from "support" listed their phone number. Then I called the credit card co. They said it happens all the time and that the scammers could "legally bill my cc if I didn't cancel in 3 days because of a loophole". They assured me that I had "protection" against such fraudulant charges and not to worry. I was worried. The whole thing was and still is extremely bothersome. After calling the credit card company for a second time, I was put on hold for 5 minutes and when the CC company phone clerk came back, she had another phone # for http://incomemembership.com alias http://creativesearchtraining.com for me to call. I called it and shortly got through to a real person! About an hour later, I had a cancellation email from support! ALL this seems very fishy to me! Are the credit card companies in on this? Do they have a quota of fraudulant charges to meet? Insights would be appreciated. Even though I feel like a complete and utter idiot, I'm posting this senerio to hopefully help expose these swindlers and save somebody else out there in cyberspace from these vultures, these leaches of society. Wouldn't it be nice if people worked this hard at coming up with a legitimate way to build a web based business, like Google did!? Be careful my lambs, the wolves are more than ever at your door. Check out what Snopes has to say about this here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thought For The Day


This is one of my new holiday backgrounds that is now available for licensing as royalty-free stock.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A New Christmas CD To LOVE!

I just received The Bluebird Bells, "Ringing for Peace" CD on Wednesday; hot off the presses from Nashville Tennessee! I couldn't be happier with the music and the use of my image for the cover design. This new release is packed with a wide variety of holiday tunes (18 in all) from "Nashville's New and Undiscovered Talent". Unique renditions of standby favorites coupled with some fresh and exciting compositions will surely help to put you in the holiday spirit. The quality of sound is super and the quantity is limited, so go here to listen to a selection of the music and then go here and order your copy today before they sell out. (They would make great holiday gifts!) A portion of the proceeds from each sale goes to The Wounded Warrior Project. The non-profit organization helps soldiers wounded in combat like one of the Bells' own, Sal Gonzalez, Jr, who lost his leg in Iraq to a bomb explosion. I've got to order more too, because I want to give them out as gifts and my hubby confiscated mine. He has had it in his van ever since. I'm afraid I'll never see it again. At least not until the holidays are long gone!

Friday, November 13, 2009

AMERICA NEEDS A CANDIDATE WITH THIS PLATFORM!!

I think this really makes sense! Bill's got a sane and realistic attitude to the situations and problems we are facing. I hope he is serious about becoming a candidate in 2012!

Bill Cosby's Advice For Fixing Our Economy -


"I HAVE DECIDED TO BECOME A WRITE-IN CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT IN THE YEAR 2012..
HERE IS MY PLATFORM:

(1). Any use of the phrase: 'Press 1 for English' is immediately banned. English is the official language; speak it or wait outside of our borders until you can.

(2). We will immediately go into a two year isolationist attitude in order to straighten out the greedy big business posture in this country. America will allow NO imports, and we'll do no exports. We will use the ‘Wal-Mart 's’ policy, 'If we ain't got it, you don't need it.' We'll make it here and sell it here!

(3).. When imports are allowed, there will be a 100% import tax on it coming in here.

(4). All retired military personnel will be required to man one of the many observation towers located on the southern border of the United States (six month tour). They will be under strict orders not to shoot on
SOUTHBOUND aliens.

(5). Social Security will immediately return to its original state. If you didn't put nuttin' in, you ain't getting nuttin' out. Neither the President nor any other politician will be able to touch it.


(6). Welfare. -- Checks will be handed out on Fridays, at the end of the 40 hour school week, the successful completion of a urinalysis test for drugs, and passing grades.

(7). Professional Athletes --steroids? The FIRST time you check positive you're banned from sports ..... for life.

(8). Crime - We will adopt the Turkish method, i.e., the first time you steal, you lose your right hand. There is no more 'life sentences'. If convicted of murder, you will be put to death by the same method you chose for the victim you killed: gun, knife, strangulation, etc.

(9) Only one export of ours will be allowed: wheat; because the world needs to eat. However, a bushel of wheat will be the exact price of a barrel of oil.

(10). All foreign aid, using American taxpayer money, will immediately cease and the saved money will help to pay off the national debt and, ultimately, lower taxes. When disasters occur around the world, we'll ask The American People if they want to donate to a disaster fund, and each citizen can make the decision as to whether, or not, it's a worthy cause.

11). The Pledge of Allegiance will be said every day at school and every day in Congress.

(12). The National Anthem will be played at all appropriate ceremonies, sporting events, outings, etc.

My apology is offered if I've stepped on anyone's toes ..... nevertheless......

Sincerely," Bill Cosby

(The photo of Bill Cosby in this post is an image from the Wikimedia Commons.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Capturing Souls

When I saw photos of a friend's beautiful yard late this fall, I knew we had to hurry over before winter's brown coat took over. A young friend of a friend came to our rescue and provided a charming center of interest for our autumn backdrop.
Like in my paintings, I tried to play with the colors, angles and light to portray not only a pleasant design, but a sense of connection to the mood or emotion of the subject.
I'm finding that photography, like my other art, is inevitably a one man show. As with painting, I wear the hats of the designer, director, producer and promoter. Unlike painting however, it's always nice to have an assistant!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fall's Glory Gone With The Wind


Today feels like winter. It's not that cold, but the wind is whipping. Here's some late fall photos taken here at the Sandarosa in the early morning mist last week. I am enjoying the freedom of my new photo editing software. Working on images in an application where everything is reversible can be fun. I've been taking Creative Techs 10 Week Lightroom Course with Steve Laskevitch which has helped me immensely. The learning process is time consuming, but I'm sure the payoffs in enhanced capabilities, management strategies and more efficiency will be well worth the investment.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Back At The Bogs




Here's a few of the photos from this week's trip out to Haines and Haines Cranberry Bogs. See more about this Lightroom preset in today's Spirit Art post on technology.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Art Wolfe Shares His Secrets Today -FREE - LIVE!


Today, October 13th, 2009, at 11:00am Pacific time, renowned photographer, Art Wolfe will be giving a special FREE online presentation. Art will display his favorite shots from around the world to show how the quality and angle of light affect compositions. You can see it live here: http://creativetechs.com/training/live/ while the event is in progress.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hummingbird Migration Still Happening


Here in Southern New Jersey, my husband spotted a small traveling hummingbird perched on one of my hummingbird feeders yesterday afternoon! So sorry I missed it. I still have two feeders out and keep them clean and filled until Thanksgiving. One year I had a couple of youngsters come through on November 22nd, so don't put yours away just yet. Somebody might be depending on you! This drawing is one of many I posted this summer on my Drawing Everyday Blog.

Monday, September 28, 2009

What Is Microstock Photography?

For the last six months, I have been obsessed with learning the technical aspects of digital photography and getting a better handle on post processing software. It's been a very time consuming venture to say the least. Today I'm posting a before and after shot of my blacksmith. You can see from comparing the final with the first shot how I took things out, added and enhanced some details and softened some harsh shadows. Hopefully in the future, I'll get better at my photography and lighting skills so I need to do a lot less in my post processing. How many things can you find that I have changed or adjusted in this photo? Here's a definition of microstock from Wikipedia: "Microstock photography, also known as micropayment photography, is an offshoot of traditional stock photography. What defines a company as a microstock photography company is that they (1) source their images almost exclusively via the Internet, (2) do so from a wider range of photographers than the traditional stock agencies (including a willingness to accept images from "amateurs" and hobbyists), and (3) sell their images at a very low rate (anywhere from $.20 - $10) for a royalty-free image."


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Visit To Haines and Haines Cranberry Farm

Holly Haines and her brother, William S. Haines, Jr., are 4th generation growers who own and operate the largest cranberry farm in the state. With over 1,300 cranberry bogs in production, there's lots of work to do year round. The farms' 11,000 acres includes bogs, reservoirs and woodland. You need approximately 10 acres of upland (woodland, etc.) for every acre of bog to act as a buffer and to protect your water sources.The farm has evolved from a one-man operation started in 1890 by Martin L. Haines, to one of the largest privately owned facilities in the world. Over 35 full-time employees, many whose families have also been involved in the business for generations and 50 peak-season workers keep the Pine Island Cranberry business flourishing and expanding. Holly's love of her career, lifestyle and the farm is evident in her knowledge of all aspects of the business. Her enthusiasm for the new technologies of the future and her many intriguing stories of the past make her a fascinating and unique expert in her field. An informative guide and charming hostess, Holly has granted us permission to come back again any time during the harvest to take more photos. How very generous she is and how lucky we are! Here's a few of my photos taken at the bogs.


A an early fall bumper crop of lustrous cranberries are gathered in a flooded brown cedar water bog. This mixed color harvest floats on the surface of dark water after being thrashed up from the vines.


Swirling variegated cranberries make beautiful designs in the water as they are harvested.



After freeing the berries from their vines with walk-behind thrashers, seen here in the background, workers corral the fruit which will be transported via conveyor to waiting trucks.



Once the cranberries are in the corral , they are moved up a conveyor belt to a waiting truck which will be transport them to a packing house, where they will be cleaned. Then tractor trailer trucks will take them to the local processing plant.



Here workers break for lunch as one worker offers a hand to the last man out of the bog.


A walk-behind cranberry thrasher sits abandoned in a flooded bog while workers break for lunch. Big puffy clouds and a beautiful blue sky are mirrored in the water's reflection.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rudy Is Doing Much Better

Just a short update on my guy, Rudy. He's eating well and looks great. Everything indicates that he feels good too. I've been lunging him about twenty minutes each day and he really seems to enjoy it. Yesterday when I asked him to walk after trotting for a couple of minutes, he just kept going at a relaxed rhythmic jog. I said, "OK, then Rudy, trot on". He then picked up his pace in a very accommodating manner, eager to show me his sound flowing gait. My vet called when they got his blood work results back and said for a 29 year old horse with Cushings Disease, everything looks amazingly good. I know he's not going to be around forever, but I strongly feel we've got a few good years together ahead. Thanks to everyone for your concern. It is really appreciated.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Close Call With A Dear Friend


I grew up with my horse, Rembrandt, aka: Rudy and have owned him since he was a yearling. Yesterday he had colic. Colic is probably the number one killer of horses. I have never had the vet out for colic before. For a 29 year old horse, Rudy is amazingly healthy and quite nicely well preserved. I spent over five hours yesterday and last night lunging and walking him. I pleaded with him not to leave me now. "We still have lots of good years ahead", I told him. At midnight I called my vet because Rembrandt seemed in pretty bad pain. There wasn't much more they could do for him except surgery, Dan Keenan said. "Just keep walking him and hopefully he'll pull through." I walked him until his pain seemed lessened. At 2:00 am I went inside, mentally and physically exhausted. I dozed for an hour. I went out and checked on him three times during the early morning hours. He was down more than he was up, but he seemed to be resting quietly. By 6:30, he had regained his interest in food when he quickly went to check out his feed bucket when I fed Rita. "Sorry, no food until later, vet's orders", I said. By 8:00 am he seemed more like his old self and has been eating small quantities of timothy hay that I soaked in water and drained before feeding. Knock on wood, so far so good. We have to be very careful with his diet over the next couple of weeks so he can have a full recovery from the ordeal. Here is a photo I took of him tonight. Sometimes we don't realize how much somebody means to us until they might be lost.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It's September First and Fall Is In The Air!



We are experiencing beautiful autumn like weather here today. It has been a perfect day to get me in the mood to work on paintings of the Jersey Devil. Here are two small watercolors I finished up today. You can see the preliminary drawings of these from last week and more about the Jersey Devil and The White Horse Inn on my summer sketching blog here. These originals are both already spoken for. Looks like I may be doing more than the usual series of three this year. Which version do you like better? Which color scheme, and why? Tomorrow I start on the bigger painting.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Struggles Of A Butterfly


From my Spirit Art Blog post today, August 31st ~
Whenever I see a butterfly these days, I think of this story. There are many versions on line but I like this one the best. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Struggles of a Butterfly

When he was a small boy, he had loved butterflies. Oh, not to net and
mount them, but to wonder at their designs and habits.

Now a grown man with his first son to be born in a few weeks, he found
himself once again fascinated with a cocoon. He had found it at the side
of the park path. Somehow the twig had been knocked from the tree and
the cocoon had survived undamaged and still woven to the branch.

As he had seen his mother do, he gently protected it by wrapping it in
his handkerchief and carried it home. The cocoon found a temporary home
in a wide-top mason jar with holes in the lid. The jar was placed on the
mantle for easy viewing and protection from their curious cat who would
delight in volleying the sticky silk between her paws.

The man watched. His wife's interest lasted only a moment, but he studied
the silky envelope. Almost imperceptibly at first, the cocoon moved. He
watched more closely and soon the cocoon was trembling with activity.
Nothing else happened. The cocoon remained tightly glued to the twig and
there was no sign of wings.

Finally the shaking became so intense, the man thought the butterfly would
die from the struggle. He removed the lid on the jar, took a sharp pen
knife from his desk drawer, and carefully made a tiny slit in the side
of the cocoon. Almost immediately, one wing appeared and then outstretched
the other. The butterfly was free!

It seemed to enjoy its freedom and walked along the edge of the mason jar
and along the edge of the mantle. But it didn't fly. At first the man
thought the wings needed time to dry, but time passed and still the
butterfly did not take off.

The man was worried and called up his neighbor who taught high school
science. He told the neighbor how he had found the cocoon, placed it in
the mason jar, and the terrible trembling as the butterfly struggled to
get out. When he described how he had carefully made a small slit in the
cocoon, the teacher stopped him. "Oh, that is the reason. You see, the
struggle is what gives the butterfly the strength to fly."

And so it is with us. Sometimes it's the struggles in life that strengthen
us the most.

Author Unknown

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Monster in the Butterfly Bushes

It was a gorgeous day here today. I spent some time playing with my camera and different lenses. It was a "gear learning" session. I used three different lenses and two Nikon speed lights. This is my favorite for the day, shot with my Tamron 90mm macro lens. I call it "Monster in the Bush". This Praying Mantes posed for me all afternoon and barely moved a muscle. Much easier to shoot than hummingbirds! Especially ones being tormented by Yellow Jackets!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Another Shot From My Hummingbird Marathon

This is one of my favorite shots from the past week of renting telephoto lenses. It was taken with a flash (Nikon SB 900 Speedlight) to stop the motion of the wings. It is full frame with no cropping and I haven't done any post processing on it yet. My mentor, Nancy Louie, turned me on to the idea and helped me get my barrings with all the technical stuff involved. See more about shooting hummingbirds with a flash here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Stillness in the Midst of Chaos




"Art is the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos." ~ Saul Bellow

Here's a few of the hummingbird photos I took over the past couple of days. See more about "Shooting Fish in a Barrel" on today's Spirit Art Blog.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Telephoto Lenses and Flies


Nano and I headed down to the Forsythe Wildlife Refuge yesterday afternoon to check out the telephoto lenses I rented for the week. What we did not anticipate however, is that there were massive numbers of biting flies! They swarmed our car like a pack of angry bees. Needless to say, we were not able to get out and try out the lenses. Afterwards we headed down the road to Atlantic City and took a few shots from a casino parking garage. Here is my favorite shot of Absecon Lighthouse looking eastward out towards the ocean.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Hundred Happy Hummingbirds


I just like the sound of today's title, don't you? Here's another shot from yesterday. See the drawing I did from it on www.sketchingeveryday.com.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Big Lenses and Little Birds



The invitation still stands for you local people to come over and see some hummingbirds. I rented 2 telephoto lenses this week and I am trying to learn how to use them. I just received them yesterday afternoon and I'm hoping before the week is over that I'll get some good shots of my little jewels. Here's a couple photos of molting juveniles from this morning. My buddy, Betsy Hudson, who owns two "Life Is Good" stores, came over with her Nikon for a couple of hours and we tried to figure this out together. I may not have gotten a lot of good shots, but time spent with "Ms Sunshine" is always a fun and uplifting experience. Thanks Bets!

Interesting Side Note: Molting or Moulting in birds from Wikipedia:
"In birds, moulting is the periodic replacement of feathers by shedding old feathers while producing new ones. Feathers are dead structures at maturity, and they become gradually worn down and need to be replaced. Adult birds moult at least once a year, though many moult twice, and a few three times."