Monday, August 24, 2009
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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!
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.
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
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.