Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fifteen


Clouds are wonderful.

I have a great view of the sky from my balcony here in Troy - and sometimes I catch wonderful cloud formations in the western sky at sunset. Like these.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fourteen


This is a nice little portrait of my little green-eyed monster, Napoleon.

All cats are characters, but Napoleon is singular. He has an unusual way of showing his affection for you - he bites. Not hard, but enough to make you take notice. He runs afoul of his brother, Pharaoh when he tries to express his love by chomping on Pharaoh's neck. He runs afoul of me when he bites my shins, or nose, or eyebrow or... well, you get the picture.

And here he is - the Monster of Sugar Hill himself...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thirteen


I love cats - really I do. They are continuous sources of entertainment. While Napoleon runs around the house with his tail all poofed out, chasing straws, Pharaoh observes the festivities from behind the planters.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Twelve


New toys... we all love new toys. This week brought 2 my way: a set of extension tubes and a new lens.

I love macro photography - making small things look big. Flowers, bugs and the like. But macro lenses are very expensive so, in order to try it out before I outlay a huge wad of cash I wanted a set of extension tubes to allow me to get closer in to my subjects.

If you've seen any of my flower photographs you may sense a certain affinity (at least I hope you would) that I have for flowers. I've also mananged, in photographing those flowers, to get a bug or three. The tubes have no optics, so I plan on using them with my fast 50mm f/1.8 lens because it's the sharpest lens I own.

Which brings me to my other new toy - the lens. I stumbled across an sBay auction of an old Canon film camera that came equipped with an 18mm f/3.5 Sigma lens. Since my camera has a 1:6 cropped sensor in order to get a nice wide angle I have to go way down on the mm. Even my 50 is morelike 85 on my camera. So for my grand 'hills of home' landscapes I wanted something good and wide. And I still wanted a moderately fast lens. Yeah, f/3.5 ain't that fast, but it'll do for now to experiment. I got the old camera and lens for under $100 so it was a good deal, because the lens has good optics.

Here's to experimentation!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Eleven

This is another photo from my vacation that I love. This is me and my brother Greg taken at Miller Park in Milwaukee.

Why do I love this shot? Because it's one of the things that photography is about - capturing the moment, family and friends, happy times. This photo evokes the closeness I feel to my brother and some of the fun that I have when we're together. Greg and my older brother Terry and I all share this wonderful hobby of photography. They are more advanced than I am, b ut we share our knowledge and experiences - we learn from each other.

And that's another thing that I love about this hobby - the generosity of photographers. I've met a lot of wonderful people who share some of the many facets from expressions of true art, to documenting daily life, to self expression - and all of the people I've met both live and online have been willing to help me refine my technique and to teach me new skills.

Hope you like Eleven....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ten


I'm going to cheat a little tonight, but I know you won't mind. This is actually a photo I took on my vacation, but I was so happy with it I had to put it here.

I took a lot of great shots on my vacation, but I especially like this one because: 1. it shows the beauty of the Milwaukee Lakefront and 2. it was exposed correctly (thanks to Ken!). I went out shooting with my friend Ken, who came up for the day from Chicago and we knocked around Milwaukee's lakefront then out to the Boerner Botanical Gardens. Ken was feeding me readings from his light meter and helping me compose. He was a photography major and for me, who's completely self-taught, it was a wonderful experience. I'm hoping I can meet up with other generous souls who are so willing to share their experience with me because we have no local camera shops or anywhere to take intermediate classes.

WARNING: Soapbox time!

You'd think that the capital of New York State would have more to offer in the way of specialty shops (i.e. photography, crafts...) rather than just the national big-box chains. The only fabric store in the area is virtually out of business - taken over by Joanne Craft and Fleece. The only camera shop that isn't a Ritz is so expensive that I can't afford to shop there - and they don't offer any classes. The closest scrapbook store is in Schenectady - 25 miles away and the best one is in Massachusetts! There are no yarn shops left, no upholstery shops, only one bead store in Troy - don't people craft any more? Have we as a society grown so lazy that we've forgotten the joy of creating something with our hands? Or is it just that small businesses can't survive in this 2nd most expensive state?

A lot of people cop out by saying 'Well New York City is so close'. Close my left foot! New York City is 3 hours away - not the place I want to go when I need to run out for a trim or a button.

People also say 'You can shop online'. I do, but I'm a visual, tactile person. I like to feel a fabric/trim/yarn/paper before I buy it. Plus my monitor may not render colors the same way the website thinks it should, so the colors I buy may be off. Did you know that even black has different shades?

For all it's flaws, Milwaukee seems to do a much better job of nurturing small businesses. Yes, Art's Camera (the most excellent photo shop in SE WI) is down to one location from 3. Yes, a couple scrapbook and yarn shops closed - but there are still others to shop at.

So please, people - if anyone out there is listening - please support your local craft or hobby store. You may not realize it now, but your hometown will be very poor indeed if you should lose your arts and craft community!

Sorry gang - off the box now.....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Nine - I'm back!


Wow! It was so busy while I was on vacation and in the week after I had NO TIME to either take or post any photos. But we're back on the horse now.

This was an interesting accident. I was sitting in my big chair and Pharaoh grabbed the arm before Napoleon could. So the little guy went over to the other chair to pout and look daggers at us both. I was trying to capture his little put-out expression but I had the settings wrong on my camera, so I had a RELLY LONG shutter speed. I managed to stay steady enough to see Poli through the fog of lights, but it was certainly not a great shot.

But it looks like one of those photos that ghost hunters take of spirits passing through a frame. I liked the effect. So this little imperfect photo turned into a keeper - for me anyway.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Eight


Apologies, gentle readers... I took the weekend off. I've been deep in preparation for THE BIG VACATION and I had to make some new clothes and do housework (so friend Kari doesn't think I'm a complete slob when she comes to take care of my boys).

Speaking of my boys - this is Pharaoh - who likes it warm. As evidenced by his position - right on top of the Pizza Hut box!

I'm testing new software tonight. Since I installed Ubuntu on my netbook I've been making sure it will do what I need ti to when I go on THE BIG VACATION. This meant making sure I could log in to my computer at work, just in case. It meant making sure I can do simple edits and convert my RAW files from my camera so that I can continue updating my blog - and hopefully not miss too many more posts. It meant familiarizing myself with the reality of installing software on a (still) somewhat unfamiliar operating system.

The adjustment hasn't been too difficult - I used to program in MS DOS, I work on UNIX all day - so I have a grasp of the basics, but the finer points are still being learned.

But - I'm getting there...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Seven


I'm a most fortunate person. Nine and a half years ago I was working part time in a college library - it was a job I loved, but I worried about how I was going to survive because 28 hours at $7 per is not a lot of money for an adult to live on. I was lucky because I was caring for my mother at the time and with her retirement and my wages we were able to live, if not extravagantly, at least we didn't want for anything. But my mother and I are not good roommates and the situation became untenable for me after about five years. Mom's health was declining and I just couldn't care for her any longer.

When she got the opportunity to move into senior housing I got a job at Quad/Graphics in West Allis. It was the best career most I could have made. That was in 1997. In 2000 I got the opportunity to transfer to Saratoga Springs, New York - a beautiful place that I had fallen in love with when I visited for training the year before.

I was nearly 10 years with Quad before it came time for me to leave. The atmosphere had changed with he death of the company's founder, the extravagant and expansive Harry Quadracci. Say what you would he was a man who knew people and he loved and nutured his company like no one else could.

After a short stint at a small printer in Rome, New York (a job that I loved so much I was looking for another after 3 months) my BFF Angel told me to apply where she was now working.

Long story short, that's how I came to work at I-Centrix. It's a company that knows what it's doing. The employees are treated with respect, as adults and the company officers not only know how to work, and expect everyone else to do the same, but they also know how to have a good time. We're serious about our work, but we know how to relax - and it comes right from the top.

One additional bonus is the view from my cube. We moved into a nice new building (can it be three years ago now???) and there's a big, open space between me and the windows, so all I have to do is turn my chair and I have a view of the trees in the greenspace next to our building.

So I'm lucky, and daily grateful for it.

My challenge here was to photograph the windows in a space brightly lit by fluorescents, white walls, gray carpet and big windows with white blinds. Once again I turned to my favorite lens, a Canon 50mm f/1.8. Yes, it's plastic. And yes, it isn't as fast as an L series lens, but for me the results are more than worth the $85 I paid for it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Six


Chimes....

I can't abide most wind chimes - the cheap ones I mean. They bray like donkeys on market day with no finesse. And most of them are far too shrill to be tuneful or pleasant.

These however...

I saw these in a little shop in Lake George on one of Angel's and my adventures. Their song is musical and magical. Though I can't hang them outside, they hang right in front of my big patio door so I an still enjoy their music on windy days with the door open wide.

My challenge was to take a photo of them - silver against a white ceiling. They hang near my desk, so I tilted my desk lamp up toward them and turned out all the other lights. I feel like that lends a sort of drama to the shot. It's a little static, but I think I got the silvery feeling.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Five


Continuing with Favorite Things...

Dept. 56 came out with a funny little set of ornaments called Krinkles a few years ago. They are humorous little ornaments and accessories that were, at first just for Christmas. They've since made it to other holidays (Hallowe'en comes to mind - how appropriate, huh?) and I find them all funny and charming in a twisted sort of way. These two were gifts from my friend Angel - who knows how much I like silly little things.

This was my first try at setting up a little 'studio' - a piece of fabric draped over a door and an old speaker stand with every light in the room on. For such small objects, they are only a couple inches overall - it worked.

I'm also trying to work more in Manual mode. This was shot with my 50mm f/1.8 lens at f/8, shutter at 1/50 ISO 100 and a 270EX Canon Speedlight. I did a little work in Adobe Camera RAW when I converted the file to a JPEG - mostly bumped up the clarity and vibrance - but no additional sharpening. I'm learning - slow but sure...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Four


Favorite things...

This is a mini-series titled Favorite Things - little things around my house and neighborhood that make me smile when I look at them. Like these little salt and pepper shakers.

They make me smile because they're goofy little things but also because of the memory they evoke.

When I was working at Quad/Graphics in Saratoga Springs one of my accounts was a California-based technology company and the staff there would come out for press okay's. Often, during their stay they would have a day free and we would take off on some adventure or other. These little guys were the result of one such adventure to Montreal. There were two amazing women visiting that weekend and we took off on a lark and headed north. Halfway to the border one of them remembered that she had a friend who lived in Montreal so we called him and he gave us a tour of the underground shopping mall. I saw these little guys in a shop window and had to get them. I love cats, I needed shakers and they were the perfect little thing to remember the trip.

I don't work there anymore and the CA company is gone, but I still have the memory - and these dudes - always at the ready to season my food and remind me of a happy time with some amazing people.

Favorite things... smiles, good memories and shakers.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Three


Sometimes I miss having a garden. In Milwaukee I had raspberry bushes, tomato plants, herbs. Since moving back into an apartment I haven't had either the space or a sunny window for growing things.

But now... now I have a balcony. A nice south-facing balcony that gets full sun all day. It wreaks havoc on my cooling bills in the summer, but boy is it nice. In the wintertime those big windows flood my room with light and sun. That in combination with being on the third floor and my heating bills are probably the lowest they've even been!

An added bonus is that my apartment looks out over a small meadow toward a little line of trees. When I sit out there in the morning I enjoy my coffee while watching deer grazing in the meadow and listening to the birds sing. It's as close to living in the country that I've ever been. Troy is right over the hill, but from looking out my balcony you'd never know it.

So since I moved here I've grown a few kitchen herbs on the porch, but nothing else. This year I decided to try a tomato plant. I bought something called a patio tomato - a hybrid that grows small and is bred for container growing. With our cool, rainy summer I've been anxiously awaiting fruit and despairing of having any. Well, as you can see I have fruit, even if they're still green.

So now I'm waiting anxiously for a fresh tomato salad!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Two


Every weekend that it's nice I try to go out shooting. When I leave to do my errands I grab my camera bag. Sometimes I get lucky and find a field of sunflowers around a corner, sometimes I get shots before I even leave the house. That's what happened today. I was messing around with my 50 mm lens, trying to see how far I could push it using only natural light and I caught this nice, if slightly blurry shot of Pharaoh. Right after this he moved, so the moment was gone, but I liked his expression in this shot - almost like I'm trying his patience or something! :)

Even though I grabbed my gear when I left the house I didn't take anything while I was out. It was a hot day and I did something really stupid - I went to Walmart on a Saturday. With my low tolerance for crowds and crabby children it was all I could take for one day! So I wound up going right back home, even though I came across a few really nice scenes on the way. Tomorrow no shopping - and I promise my photo won't be a cat!

One


I take a lot of photos of my cats. In general they're pretty good sports about it - except when the flash is involved. Generally these are quickie shots with my little compact digital camera (like this one with my Kodak). When you live alone with 2 cats they become your most popular subjects - willing or not!

This one of Pharaoh shows his utter fascination with my printer. For some reason this cat is totally enthralled every time I turn the printer on. It's all I can do to keep him from reaching in and getting his paw caught in it. I don't know if it's the sound or the motion of the paper or what, but every time I sit here at the computer he's right there, peering into the printer... waiting... like a vulture.He reminds me of the old Peanuts cartoons where Snoopy would sit on the top of his doghouse pretending to be a vulture and STARE at Charlie Brown.

Ah Friday

I saw a movie tonight that inspired me to really write something here...

The movie Julie and Julia - the story about Julia Child and the woman who cooked her way through her book and blogged about it. It's a sweet, funny, touching movie and it showed me how something so simple as a blog can change your life.

My challenge is to take a photo every day, to post it here and write about it. I know that some days this is going to be hard, but this is going to be my challenge to myself - 365 photos, 365 days...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Life...


It has a habit of intervening sometimes doesn't it? Work, customers, crafts, travel... so many things that fill our days (and often nights) that time for quiet reflection is at a premium. Even someone like me, who lives alone and has no family close by, can so easily become distracted. Short attention span? Perhaps - but I think it's more a set of priorities... when I have nothing to say I have nothing to write. And when I'm stressed I have no time to think of something clever or witty or pithy to say - so I remain silent.

Like tonight...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

On a Sunday evening

On a July evening that feels more like autumn that the height of summer I can't help but think of summer ending. Outside it's in the low 60's - inside the cats are curled and napping and it just feels like it should be time for apple picking and cider doughnuts.

I have no reflections today - maybe I'm too tired.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Has it already been a week?


Hard to believe - this one went by so fast! People my tender age probably say that a lot, but wow - tomorrow is Thursday again!

I'm not going to write much... swam 15 laps tonight and I'm really tired. Time for my milk and beddy-bye. I'll try to catch up tomorrow after my class....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday again


Its Thursday again and a hot one here in Upstate New York. We're waiting for rain and the air has that heavy still feeling that is at once stifling and charged with the energy of the upcoming storm. Its gonna be a biggie!

It was a good, tiring, productive day, though. Got a lot of work done and even cleaned my desk. My customers are happy, my cats are happy and there are no paws on my keyboard - life is good.

So I'm going to keep it short for tonight so I can get a couple other things done before the storm hits and I have to sign out.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Been too long


My apologies to my single follower - it's been far too long since I've posted to my blog!! Put it down to life being life and interfering with my intellectual pursuits!

But here I am, 11:30 at night in Upstate New York, just before bed and feeling like meandering a bit.

I got a new computer 2 weeks ago. I took the plunge and after 20-some-odd-years as a PC I bought a Mac. My only experience with them before now was programming related. I learned Pascal on a Mac. I used to program hypertext tutorials for my Anatomy and Physiology prof on a Mac. But I'd never really used one for day-to-day computing needs. Now I'm the proud owner of this shiny, beautiful piece of equipment and I find myself marveling daily at the elegance and usability of this machine! I don't know what kind of engineer/designer/artist hybrid it takes to come up with something so elegant and simple, but that team deserves my heartfelt and highest kudos. (Bear in mind that I've only been living with Mac for 2 weeks - I may change my tune in a year).

It's akin to the thrill I felt when I wrote my first database program and found that my query actually worked. Or writing my first DOS batch program to create myself a little menu for my 8086. In those days I thought 1 Mg of RAM was enormous and that a 20 Mg hard drive was all I'd EVER need!

Now I have 4 Gigabytes of RAM and 650 Gigabytes of onboard hard disk space plus 2 outboard 1 Terabyte (each) storage drives - one for general backup and one for photos and music. 2 TERABYTES! In 1986, when I first started using computers I didn't even know what a Terabyte was - now I have 2.

It's simply amazing to me that in less than 50 years we can go from a computer that took up several rooms to one that fits in my hand (I also have a net book - 8 inch screen - lovely little machine). That a machine that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in 1965 now costs under one thousand.

I never want to lost this sense of wonder and astonishment at the incredible advances we've made in so may areas.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Organization


I'm not an especially organized person. I like for things to be accessible, easy to get at and clean. I like to know 'I need this thing and it's right here' put my hand 'there' and grab that thing.


But I don't get bent out of shape if it isn't there - unless it's my car keys as I'm headed out the door for work.


So it's rather odd that I would have spent the last 3 days moving and organizing my craft supplies. I now have nice boxes labelled things like 'Ribbons' and 'Paint' and by god if I need a pink ribbon and a bottle of green paint I know where to find them. It feels good - oddly enough.


I say that because I was always the kid who shoved all of her stuff under the bed and into the closet on the day my mother decreed as 'room cleaning day'. Where my brother would grab the vacuum, a pile of rags, the Pledge and an empty garbage pail and spend all day cleaning, I would shove as much stuff as I could out of sight, run over the flat surfaces with the tail of my shirt and run for the door. How's that for role reversal? Aren't the girls supposed to be the tidy ones? That's what my parents always thought.


But I've always been out-of-the-box in some way or another. Back in my Wondering post (or more appropriately 'Wandering' LOL) I wondered how I got to be a 300 pound woman. Now I wonder if that out-of-the-box-ness of mine wasn't a contributing factor. What came first - the weight or the eccentricity? Was it cause and effect? Or did they develop independently of each other?


I love that my crafting area is now uber organized, it just doesn't look like it belongs in my house, or to this person. Great Goddess - could there be a 'normal' person lurking inside me? Crying to get out? Could this be her way of seeking to exert dominance? At some point in my early life was there just a nice, normal JAD - and I (the evil twin part of my nature) ate her? Is that how I got to be 300 pounds? Is that who's now living out my life?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I wonder...




Now I don't expect this post to resonate with anyone in particular - I just need to write it.

My little purple journal is starting to reveal more to me that merely the food that I put into my body. Even though that's all it contains - my daily list of foods eaten with their carb counts and on the back of some page or other the list of the the counts in the recipes I've made for the week - just the very act of writing this is making me aware of things that I never really thought about before.

I come from a very unusual family - father from a well-to-do (maybe - not really sure) German immigrant family. He fought in WWII, was overweight from the time he left the service, was a handsome, charming, selfish man who really didn't want to have kids. He could be fun : dancing around the living room and singing to Mitch Miller; he could be cold: 'you can't have a cookie - you're too fat' - and I never understood why he didn't love me. He said exactly once that he was proud of me - when I lost 160 pounds. Not one other time - ever.

My mother was from a poor Polish immigrant family. Gramma used to take in boarders to make ends meet. Mom was energetic, sometimes frenetic, loving to the point of possessiveness and I still believe bi-polar (never diagnosed). At a time when most women stayed home to take care of house and kids my mother worked 2 jobs. We're talking the 50's and 60's here folks - Boom Time. But there was no keeping my mother home - she had to go out.

My parents divorced - bitterly - when I was 12. 32 years of marriage.

And as I write in my little purple journal my list of foods that I've eaten that day I find myself reflecting on them and my life growing up. How did I get to this point? How did I go from a four-year-old that everyone thought was too skinny and was forced to eat to a 300 lb woman of 53?

Let's think about this a moment: 300 pounds. Actually now 285 - not bad considering that when I started I was 348... How does a baby who weighed 5 lb. 3 oz. at birth get to be such a size? My left leg weighs more than 5 pounds! How did it happen? What was the chain of events? What was the beginning... was there even a discrete beginning? If so how do I find it? How do I fix it?

I wonder....



Saturday, March 14, 2009

Late fridays...


I know I should go to bed... I have to get up early tomorrow, but for some reason I can't relax.

I think I've gotten myself back on track and it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I started keeping a journal - I carry it with me at all times - that's helping. I wasn't being honest with myself - I was cheating far too much - blood sugar was climbing and I had stopped losing weight. That was reason enough! I know I should have been more concerned about the blood sugars, but vanity thy name is Jude...

It's been nice to buy new clothes, to get compliments, to feel better. That's the best - feeling better. I have energy (well - most of the time) to burn - I walk faster, I think better. Never thought losing a little weight would affect my mental capacities. But I'm not taking any chances. I laid in a bunch of good food tonight and tomorrow, when my friend leaves I'm going to cook good stuff to eat for the week. And I'm going to make some low-carb desserts, too because my sweet tooth is just as crazy as ever!

But Fridays... Fridays are good...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Welcome


Welcome to this first meandering...


It's a kind of dull day here in Upstate New York - it's drab, windy and rainy out of doors and verging on boring indoors. The big push of February is complete, all my jobs are billed and I've done all the housekeeping tasks that I can for now. All that's left is the cleanup.


So I started thinking about the changes in my life over the last couple of months. Quit smoking - check. Start excersing - check. Start lifing weights - check. Lose weight - about 70 checks. How can one person make so many changes in so short a time?


I'm not saying that I've been perfect - far from. I've gone a week without stepping on a treadmill or picking up a dumbell. I've eaten Pop Tarts. I've skipped medication. But in general (85% of the time?) things have changed. How?