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The Artist's Dilemma

>> Thursday, December 23, 2010

The theme of this blog has really been focused on my outdoors adventures and my nutty pets, with a few other odds and ends thrown in.  I haven't yet really talked about any of my artistic ventures since they don't fit with my "theme", but heck.  Screw the theme.  Art is on my mind.

I've always done creative things, as long as I can remember.  I can't seem to help myself.  If I'm not drawing or painting, I'm writing, snapping pictures, crafting, sewing, decorating, or wrapping things in some sort of decorative way.  Case in point: my Christmas.

During holidays, my basic wrapping compulsion comes to the fore.  My husband says I'm incapable of wrapping anything with less-than-Martha-Stewart flair.  In a way he's right.  I get such a kick out of wrapping that I get carried away.  Each package has to be just so, with ornaments tied on and an abundance of luxurious real fabric ribbon.

I do more than just crafty wrapping, though.  The last two years I've done our holiday cards.  Last year I just sort of doodled a design with markers, and I wound up liking it enough to turn it into cards and send them:

This year, I got inspired to do something that took a little more talent and work, and spent a morning with paper and pastel pencils.  I knew I wanted to draw a bird since I love birds and they seem relatively holiday-ey, but discovered quickly that I had to find a photo to work from.  I can never create images of critters out of my head because something just winds up a little off.  But, I eventually got it.  Here's the work in progress, and end result (forgive the quality of the "work in progress" photos, which I took with my Blackberry):

I'm rather tickled with it.  It actually looks like a bird, and a relatively graceful one at that.  My husband printed it on some lovely Crane's paper, and voila!  This year's holiday cards (which totally went out late, but never mind): 

Whenever I do any kind of work of art that I like, I think about doing something more with my art.  I am frequently asked whether I sell my paintings, drawings and photographs when people see them, and all I can say in response is that I think about it but never get around to it.  Part of the problem, though, is that I'm not sure exactly what I want my "signature" style to be.  Do I focus on photography?  Drawing?  Abstract painting?  I'm not even 100% certain I know why I believe artists need to have one sort of signature style (or at least a primary one), but all I can say to that is that artists generally do.  It's hard to take someone seriously as an artist if s/he has too many things going on.

I did a series of large acrylic abstracts a few years ago, and actually had a gallery lined up to do a show of my work.  Only trouble was, the rule for that particular gallery was that every one of my pieces in it had to be for sale, and a couple of my favorites were definitely not for sale.  I needed to do more in the series to have enough for a whole show, but never got around to it.  I ran out of inspiration for that series - it needed to develop further so I didn't feel like I was doing the same thing over and over again, and that magic transition never happened.  I keep holding out hope that it will, because the pieces I did do were popular and I enjoyed doing them.  I sort of allowed myself to get drunk on the rich liquid colors, and painting them was almost a spiritual experience.

Here are a few (again, forgive the photo quality - my old old digital left much to be desired and did no justice to the colors and textures).

"Greenhouse Afternoon"

"Jellyfish Light"

"Stream and Pebbles"

So, painting abstracts, is that my thing?  How neurotic is this:  I'm afraid to commit to painting abstracts because I always fear that people will think I only do abstracts because I can't do anything representational.  But the truth is, I do love drawing, and even representational paintings, too.  However, while I am technically fairly competent at it, I am never convinced that I manage to do enough with the composition and background to make my drawings really, well, artistic.  "Accurately drawn" ≠ "artistically moving".  I think if I worked at it a whole bunch more I might get there, but it would definitely require some dedicated effort.  And of all the types of art I do, drawing can certainly be the most exasperating.

And then, of course, there's the photography.  I like my photographs, and have taken a handful that I think are artistic and very appealing.  I happen to do a lot of photography and exhibit it more than anything else I do, just because of the nature of photography and social media (this blog and Facebook, mostly).  I get quite a number of requests from people wanting to buy prints, and it would be fairly easy for me to do some prints and some greeting cards, and sell them in local arts and crafts venues.  But I haven't yet done so, in part because with my 6 megapixel camera my reprinting abilities were a little limited, and in part because I'm terrified of getting pigeon-holed as a photographer.  Zillions of people out there are great photographers, and while I love my photos, I'm no extraordinary photographer who stands out from the pack, and truthfully I'm not sure I feel as moved by photography as by painting and drawing.  To me those things seem more like art, in part because of the more extended creative process involved in each piece.  On the flip side, though, it is easier for me to get good photos that would make decent prints and cards because I take photos whereever I go.

The end result?  I have no idea what I'm doing.  I'd love to sell some stuff to, if nothing else, generate a little extra revenue to support my expensive artistic habits.  But my indecision and neuroses are holding me back.  Do any of my readers sell any art?  If so, what?  Tell me about the process that led to taking that plunge.  I need some inspiration to get me out of my rut.


Random Observations

>> Monday, December 6, 2010

Not much inclination for blogging lately, so I'll just throw out a few quick tidbits.

1.  Snow + Me = Happy Human.

Yippee!!!!  There are 24 inches of snow out there.  My motto: if it's going to be cold, it may as well be snowing.  My goal for this winter: to go out in the yard and build a bunch of demented snow people, a la Calvin & Hobbes.

2.  Snow + Cat = Instant Hilarity.

Pippin, the lunatic, LOVES the snow.  He's so excited about it that he bounds around in the most uncoordinated manner, with his back feet getting ahead of the rest of him.  If you play tag with him outside,  he will veer off the path, take a flying leap at a snowbank with all four feet flailing, and floomp!  Disappear into the snowbank in a flying cloud of white flakes.  Only the tip of his tail remains visible.  Then up pops his spastic fluffy little head, with a pile of snow for a hat.  Then he rockets out of the bank straight for your ankles.  Pictures to come, with any luck.  Up until now I have been laughing way too hard to hold a camera steady enough to take pictures of the phenomenon.

Best I can offer: a Pippin in its natural habitat:

3.  Tree + Indoors = Happy Cats.

The tree and lights are up, and the cats seem to very much like having a tree in the house, albeit a fake tree. Shock of shocks, Pippin likes to climb it.  None of them are any too fond of the Lego train that runs around underneath it.  Darn train is intruding on their feline space.


Rotten Stinkin' No-Good Mutt

>> Friday, November 26, 2010

Left unsupervised for a few minutes, and the contents of the kitchen garbage can are everywhere.  Ooops.  Must have left the cupboard door open enough for him to get in.

Has any dog owner out there not had one of these moments?

I love the almost-apologetic look on his face.


A minor rant (Well, okay, a fairly major one)

>> Thursday, November 18, 2010

I realize all my posts are about my pets lately.  There are other things happening in my life, and I promise I'll start blogging about them eventually.  But, please bear with me while my furry family is dominating my consciousness.  This is yet another pet post, which I shall sub-title:


My husband and I take in strays.  It's just kind of our thing.  We have always had dogs from shelters, and have rescued cats from shelters, from dumpsters, and from the streets of our neighborhood.  They've almost all had Issues (with a capital "I").  We've had a number who were abused, some who had serious socialization problems, and plenty with wacky and expensive medical issues.  Some we theorize were weaned too soon, and some we've never managed to completely house train despite years of effort and expert advice.  They've all been life's rejects and misfits, in one way or another.

But we wouldn't have it any other way.

Of course most pet owners probably think they're good pet owners, but I'll swear we are among the good ones.  We buy them the best food, and make sure they stay fit, active, and not overweight.  We provide the best veterinary care, and practically drown them in love and affection.  We put up with antics and behaviors a lot of people wouldn't.  My gorgeous woodwork suffers for it, yet I refuse to declaw a cat.  We won't board our dogs at traditional kennels because it's too stressful for them, so when we have to leave them we pay a fortune for a high-end doggie hotel where they can stay in rooms rather than cages.  We take our dogs with us when we can, and plan our vacations accordingly.  We worry about them, and do our best to make all decisions about their care based on what's best for them, especially the hard end-of-life decisions.

Are we perfect?  Er, no.  I currently have fleas in the house because I was late in putting Advantage or Frontline on everybody.  I've now treated them, but several are itchy, and I feel awful about it.  I have a cat overdue for a checkup and shot.  And I have most certainly been known to lose my temper and shout at a dog on occasion when it's completely beyond hyperactive and won't stop ricocheting off the furniture long enough to listen.  But in the grand scheme of things, my pets have it pretty good.  All 5 of them.  For that matter, all 10 that my husband and I have had over the years.  Make that 12, if you count the hamsters.

So, now that we are down to one dog, and he's showing some rather serious signs of separation anxiety when we have to leave him at home during the day, we're considering adopting a companion for him.  You'd think with all the shelters and rescue groups and all the dogs who need homes in this country, that we'd have no trouble finding dogs we're eligible to adopt.  For crying out loud, an estimated 3-4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters each year.  And besides, we're experienced pet owners and we certainly have a vet who will vouch for us.

Not.  So.  Much.

Why are we being turned away from pretty much all the local shelters and rescue organizations?  Because our yard isn't fenced.  We (*gasp*) take our dogs for leashed walks instead.

Really really.

We had this problem when we adopted our hounds.  We had to sweet-talk the shelter volunteer into allowing us to take them even though we didn't have a fenced yard.  She lied for us, God bless her, because they had been there 6 months and there was no indication she'd ever find other people willing to adopt two special-needs adult dogs together.

Now I'm facing the prospect of that same experience again. 

When I expressed my frustration to various friends, I realized this is an epidemic problem.  One friend, who is a wonderful parent to two cats, said she was denied being able to adopt a cat from several organizations simply because she'd have been a 1st time cat owner... never mind that she was an adult, a teacher, owned her own home, and had had a bunny for 10 years and a vet for references.  A colleague (another experienced pet owner) tried to adopt a cat a number of years ago from shelters said the experience "left a total distaste". 

Yet another friend observed that where she lives, "a lot of rescues won't adopt out to people with kids under 7, which I agree with if the people are novice dog owners, but completely disagree with if the people are experienced dog owners. Yes, kids and dogs are a lot of work together, but families with children under seven are far more likely to have either a parent or nanny home most of the time with the young children, so it can be the best time for a puppy."  The same friend observed that requiring a fenced yard is a recipe for finding adopters who think they can just leave a dog outside in the yard all the time and not spend time with it.  I agree with her wholeheartedly, on both counts. 

And besides, there are plenty of happy dogs in New York City who don't have fenced yards.  What, pray tell, is wrong with walks?

Now, I do see this from the other side, too.  I volunteered at an animal shelter when I was in law school, mostly assisting with socializing and exercising dogs.  I saw the tragic stories of the animals who came to the shelter, and hated when animals got returned because their adopters had bitten off more than they could chew.  I also saw that some of the good-hearted volunteers just didn't have what it takes to be making judgment calls on whether certain people should be allowed to adopt certain animals, and recognize that shelters sometimes have to make rules for the volunteers to follow.  Some shelters really do want what's best for the animals, and I think most of the ones around here do.

But at the same time, it's such a disservice for the animals to make adoption a miserable experience for the humans.  The way we get grilled when we walk into shelters and ask about adoption you'd think we were criminals who'd been caught trying to steal one of the animals.  If I were any less dedicated to animal rescue, I'd get around the whole problem by going out and buying a healthy, well-adjusted puppy from a reputable breeder.  No more weird socialization problems or neuroses that typically come with shelter dogs - start from scratch and bring up a dog properly. 

Fortunately or unfortunately, I can't bring myself to do that.  So I check Craigslist (scary people post on there), talk to local vets, and ask around.  I'm left just hoping I'll stumble upon a dog who fits our needs.  I'll call a few more dog rescue organizations to see if they'll even talk to me without having a fenced yard, and hope no more people hang up on me when I ask (no joke).  I'll also get yet another quote for fencing our sizable yard, in the hopes that some miracle will occur and the price will have somehow halved itself.  And in the meantime, I'll just hope my current dog's separation issues don't get worse while we wait.


Inter-Species Love

>> Tuesday, November 9, 2010

So now that Simon is an only dog, he's learning to cope with being alone much of the day.  He's doing an admirable job of adjusting.  He's very needy and even more enthusiastic than usual when we get home at the end of the day, but otherwise is pretty much back to being his old happy-go-lucky mischievous self.  And because he's Simon, he has found a new companion for getting into trouble with.

Rotten, stinkin', no-good fluffy-pants Pippin the cat.

Last night when I got home from work I wasn't feeling particularly well, and wanted a few quiet moments on the couch to relax.  Ha!  I most certainly did not get that.  As I wearily dropped my belongings and settled into the couch, the two of them began a lively game of tag, romping around the entire downstairs, across the valuable antique area rug in the living room, and quite literally ricocheting off the couches, my knees, the arm chairs in the library, and the walls.  They knocked a bunch of books off a shelf, and I lost patience.  After getting up and going into the library to shout at them loudly enough to get their attention (my neighbors must think I'm nuts), they stopped and looked at me as if to say, "Gee, Mom, what's up?  Shouting like that isn't good for you."

I grumbled under my breath and went back to my couch.

Pippin came casually waltzing in and immediately got himself tangled in the lace living room curtains.  While I was cursing under my breath and unhooking his claws from the lace, Simon took advantage of my attention being diverted to rummage in the lunch bag I'd unwisely dropped on the floor.

I confiscated it.  And sat back down on the couch.  Dog and side-kick cat casually wandered off.

Within about another minute, a giant howling, yowling ruckus ensued in the dining room, where Pippin was gaily thromping on poor cat Sneakers while - I swear - Simon looked on and chuckled.

I broke up the spat, soothed Sneakers, went back to the living room, and heaved a great big sigh as I sat back down on the couch.  Figuring I'd finally shouted loudly enough to take the wind out of their sails, I enjoyed nearly three whole minutes of quiet.

Too much quiet.

At the faint sound of rustling in the kitchen and the conspicuous absence of animals in the room, I went to investigate.  Pippin was on the counter (where he is strictly not allowed and he knows it) rustling up to his scruffy neck in a bag of dog treats.  He'd torn open one bag and swatted a few treats down for Simon, who had gobbled them down, as evidenced by the large, wet, recently licked area on the floor. Simon was intently staring up waiting for more.  Conniving little rascals!

Pippin was so engrossed in his task, that when I poked him in the side and cleared my throat, he jumped clean out of his skin.  In the .1 second it took for him to become airborne, he managed to knock the dish rack into the sink, the open bottle of San Pelligrino onto the floor (where it merrily fizzed into a giant puddle), followed by three bags of dog and cat treats, a shot glass, and my daily pills organizer, which shattered on impact and sent dozens of pills in a lovely spray across the entire floor.  Of course, he'd scared the pants off me, too, by jumping that suddenly so that I stood there, gasping and empty handed, having tried unsuccessfully to catch any of the objects he'd sent flying.

About halfway through picking up pills and picking fur off them (my floor washing skills leave something to be desired), I started to laugh.  A great, weak-kneed, eye-wiping, floor-rolling laugh.

Good God.   And people wonder why I don't have a TV.  Who needs one when I share my house with these lunatics?

It seems Simon is, for now, fine without a canine companion.  He has someone to scheme with, who's more agile and conniving than his sister hound ever thought of being.  He appears to be having a rollicking good time of it.

We've had canine/feline buddies before in our household.  Our old dog Clancy used to open doors to let our cat Tucker out of the house, and the pair of them once got caught by my father sharing a hamburger he'd momentarily left unattended, with Tucker on the counter pawing bits down to Clancy.  And yet, still somehow it amazes me, the inter-species friendship thing.  How many times have you seen an enormous empty field, with its only two occupants - a goat and horse, or cow and sheep - standing in the middle, together?  I guess even human/dog friendships are inter-species, and heaven knows there are plenty of people who are inseparable from their canine friends.  But when it's two animals it seems all the more impenetrable to me.  How do they talk to one another?  And what draws them together?

I am just grateful that Simon's the kind of dog who will make friends wherever he goes.  When I saw this video today, it reminded me of my nutsy friends, although this pairing is even more impressively mismatched.  Thought I'd share.


Down to One

>> Friday, October 22, 2010

We are officially a one dog household.  Things with our poor Lucy went downhill very, very quickly, and on Tuesday night we made the decision to put her to sleep before they got worse.  She'd stopped eating anything at all - not even hot dogs and deli roast beef - and was having trouble keeping down water.  While she was still perky enough to enjoy being outside and appreciate affection, it was time.  She certainly wasn't going to start feeling better, and we couldn't really control her pain.  We at least had the chance to spend last weekend with her, and she got visited by many of her favorite humans.  She got a whole lot of attention in those last few days, and surely knew she was loved.

No matter how many times I have to do it, it's always just abysmally miserable to have to take a pet in to be euthanized.  It's at least some small comfort to know it was important that we do it so she didn't suffer.  But Oy!  It's So. Damn. Hard.

I am glad that this time we still have Simon.  The last time we had to put a dog down, there was no canine to come home to, which was just ghastly.  I like having a one-dog household in the sense that it's easier to bond with a dog when there's only one, but I sure like the insurance policy of having two so I'm never completely without canine companions.  Dogs are mighty good at comforting when one is sad.  And somehow it helps when one is worrying more about someone else's grief than one's own.

Simon, for his part, is adjusting admirably.  Although he's neurotic, he's also a goofy, happy-go-lucky dog who is inclined to spontaneously dance and chase his own tail because he has so much exuberance that he just can't stand still.  So I have high hopes that he'll be okay.  He's a little mopey, and very, very clingy.  But he's eating well, and will even still play with us if we put effort into winding him up. 

Last night we found Simon sleeping on top of our cat Pippin, just like he always used to do with Lucy.  My husband says things happen for a reason, and although I don't generally buy into that kind of thinking, I'm almost inclined to believe him in this instance. Pippin, who arrived in our household only a few months ago, drives every other member of our household to absolute distraction.  He's a cocky, obnoxious brute, who beats up the girl kitties, teases our male cat Tucker so incessantly that Tucker has literally gone hoarse from hissing so much at him, has shredded one window screen, one stereo speaker cover, and is working on an arm chair, keeps us up all night spazzing, makes a game out of tripping people, frequently tortures small rodents, and is generally the most exasperating cat I have ever owned.  But Simon sure loves him.  And he loves Simon.  So, Pippin, I grudgingly admit I'm glad you're here, for Simon's sake.  But it's a darn good thing you're so stinkin' cute, or you might not have lasted this long.

Simon has yet to spend a whole day in a crate alone, so it remains to be seen how well he'll cope with that.  My father has been spending time with Simon and doing some day-time dog sitting to ease the transition into being home alone while my husband and I are at work.  We bought him a new, smaller crate that has a calming dog pheremone emitter doojobbie in it.  I'm hoping he doesn't turn himself into a giant hot spot or howl when we leave him in there all day.  If he does, and he shows signs that he's not able to adjust to being home alone, we shall go on a quest to find him a companion canine of his choosing. 

The worst part for now is when something jingles that sounds like a dog collar... then Simon jumps up and goes looking for his Lucy, and gets so sad when he can't find her.  It's heart breaking.  I hope he doesn't do it for long, for all our sakes.

I miss my Stumpy/Loofah/Floofy/Soul-Slucker/Lucy-fur/Loo-Loo/Lula-Mae.  (I think Lucy took the cake for having more nicknames than any other pet we've ever had).  I suspect I always will.  But I feel grateful that we got to have her in our lives, although it was for far, far too short a time.

Thank you to all of you who expressed condolences.  My old most-favorite-ever boss's advice when she learned Lucy was sick was to suggest we surround ourselves with animal lovers who "get it".  And it was very good advice.  Somehow it helps to know that other people understand just how hard it is to lose a dog.  Extra special thanks go to my father, who provided Lucy with hospice services early this week and who has so generously been looking after our lonely Simon.  Dad, you rock.  I can't tell you how incredibly grateful we are.

Lucy:  January 6, 2006 - October 19, 2010.



Autumn and Architecture

>> Saturday, October 16, 2010

A week ago we on our way to somewhere or other, and as we passed a church I shouted to my husband, "Wait!  Stop!  I have to take pictures!"  Such is not an uncommon occurrence.  Have I mentioned that he's a very patient soul?

The church in question is I believe St. Mary's Catholic Church in Baldwinsville, New York.  I have long admired the Arts and Crafts style of the wooden doors, and on that particular sunny autumn day they looked especially magnificent with all the stone and bright leaf wreaths.  Here are the results:



>> Thursday, October 14, 2010

Our Basset hounds have never known a day of life without each other.  They are litter mates.  They sleep on top of each other, spend their days in a crate together, and spend every waking moment in each other's presence.  After touching each other all day in the crate, they proceed to play together, and then fall asleep on top of one another.  If they were human, they would most certainly finish each other's sentences.  They're so symbiotic, it's frightening.

And I don't say that lightly.  I'm staring the implications of such co-dependence right in the face.

Lucy is sick.  Very sick.  After weeks of visits to our regular vet and a whole lot of testing, we had no idea what was wrong.  She was limping and depressed, and started to lose her appetite.  Our vet recommended we take her to an Internist who works at a nearby emergency veterinary clinic.  We decided to skip that step, and took her straight to Cornell Animal Hospital in Ithaca.

At first, after the initial exam at Cornell, the vet there thought as our vet had - that she likely had an immune mediated illness that was affecting her joints.  They started running tests to confirm that diagnosis, and ran into a big old red flag.  They noticed Lucy's right hip joint is being eaten away by something, and that something turned out to be cancer.  To be precise, it's a pancreatic cancer that has now spread through her whole body, and is eating away at her bones.

It is not treatable.  All we can do is try to manage her pain.  The vet speculates that, given how aggressive this particular cancer is, we may have a week to a month before the pain is unmanageable.  All we can do is try our best to monitor it, and convince her to eat.  If she doesn't eat, obviously, our time with her is very short indeed.  At this moment she's contemplating some ground beef... and thinking about tasting it.  I hope the strong pain killers will help in all respects, but am not convinced.

She is only four years old.

We remain adamant that whatever decisions we make for her must be right for her - her quality of life is our primary concern.  I have lost pets before, including our sweet old dog Clancy whom I loved more than I knew it was possible to love another living creature.  The grief of losing a beloved pet is always terrible, but the joy they bring us somehow makes it worth it.

But this time, we know that whatever decisions we make for Lucy also deeply affect our poor Simon.  We wonder if he will survive without her at all, or just give up and stop eating.  And if he does survive, I cannot even begin to comprehend the kind of loss he will experience.  I think only twins could know what that would be like.  This time, looking at Simon's worried face (he is worried) is making this infinitely harder than any pet's illness has ever been.


Stuff and Things

>> Thursday, October 7, 2010

Part I, in which I whine.

"What the...???"

That's what I said when I opened the wood stove door a few days ago and saw this:

Can anyone explain to my why the grasshoppers came in droves to die in my wood stove over the summer?  The few yellow jackets and the June bug carcasses that greeted me when I swung open the door were no shock, as we gather a few of those every year.  But I am forced to conclude the local grasshopper population hosted some kind of cult ritual in my wood stove this summer, only to perish there en masse and crispify into titchy green exoskeletons.

I figure they're so dry they're just a little extra fire starter.

So, anyway, it's autumn.  I've mentioned that I'm not a fan of this season because it means winter is coming, and I don't like to be cold.  Not.  At.  All.  Not even a little bit.  Here's where I start becoming a contradiction, though.  Although it's getting cold and the house temperature has been hovering in the clammy low 60s, I've been stubbornly refusing to light, or to allow my long-suffering husband to light, a fire.  Why would I do such a thing?

Because it would be like an admission.  An admission that it's almost winter time.  That it's almost the time of year when we spend hours hauling wood into the house, feeding the fire, vacuuming up the debris from the logs we've carried in, and grousing at the dogs for chewing on the logs and spreading tiny wood chips across the rug again immediately after I've vacuumed.  It's when I have to put dorky sweaters on my almost-but-not-quite real dogs who start to shiver when the temperature hits 65.

It's when I have to get up in the dark, which is not helpful when you're the kind of person who hates mornings the way I do.  It's the time of year when I have to wear fuzzy socks all the time or my toes turn gross colors.  Winter means I have a really hard time finding produce, and spend a lot of time kicking myself for still not having gotten around to purchasing a chest freezer so I can eat local organic heirloom produce year round.

I don't want to admit it's that time of year.

But, after days of resisting it and freezing, we did eventually break down and light one evening fire to take off some of the damp chill.  It was quite yummy.  And I admit I had forgotten the other benefit of having a wood stove: it's a doggy baby sitter.

Part II, in which I worry.

A few weeks ago I posted that our poor Lucy was not feeling well.  We took her to the vet who suspected a tick-borne disease, and ran some tests.  They came back negative.  Lucy started to feel better the next day, so we thought perhaps it would just pass.

It hasn't.  The vet decided to prescribe a course of antibiotics in case it was either a tick-borne disease we hadn't tested for (apparently there are many) or else she'd had it too short a time to have built up antibodies that would show up in the test.  We hoped that would take care of it.

It hasn't.  She's still got some random wandering lameness, and has days where she's just kinda under the weather.  I hate it.  I feel helpless.  If she's not feeling better on Monday, we take her back for more tests.  I'm now seriously concerned that it's an autoimmune disease.  I really hope not.

I'd just like my poor kid to feel better.

Part III, in which my ego figures prominently.

Soooo... I'm starting to worry that allowing my husband to play with my camera will be bad for my ego. It turns out he's taking a lot of nice photos.  Yesterday I had to be in to work early, and on my way in I noticed that the morning light was just delicious on the dewy autumn scenes.  So I called my husband and told him he might want to take the camera with him and shoot a few pictures on his way in to work.

He did.


They're quite nice, aren't they?  I have competition.  I don't like competition.


Autumn Sunset

>> Wednesday, October 6, 2010

As I arrived home about a week ago, I was greeted by this incredible sunset.  It looked like the sky was on fire, or else like something demonic.  Such intensity!  Using some of the new skills I garnered from my Adirondack photography trip, I set up the tripod and shot a few pictures just before the amazing light disappeared.  And yippee!  They actually turned out!  You can see the progression from fiery gold, to deep rose and plum.

I think I shot these the same night Adirondack Naturalist blogger Ellen shot her sunset photos, seen here. Amazing that the sunset looked awfully similar way up in Newcomb, New York, which is more than 3 hours drive from my humble abode. So often we have very different weather in the Syracuse area from the Adirondack Park, (which generally means I leave bright sun and enter gloomy clouds and rain every time I hike in the Adirondacks - that's the way my luck always seems to run).  But these clouds I think were harbingers of the huge rain system that stretched along much of the East Coast, so Ellen and I were looking at similar sunsets that night.


The benefits of a spouse toting a camera too

>> Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My husband has been wanting to get more into photography.  We generally consider our Nikon D70 to be my camera, which essentially means that I hog it all the time.  But he's got a good eye for photography, too, and really loves the technical aspects of it.

He's considering keeping our D70 instead of trading it in when I finally upgrade, and has also been thinking about buying a Nikon F4 35 mm, which is the awesome camera he borrowed from our friend D last weekend.  The only trouble with shooting in 35 mm is how expensive it is to develop photos, but still, it's certainly fun.  There are things one can do with film that one cannot do with a digital camera.  He really likes doing everything manually, too - he has the patience to focus manually and select all the settings, whereas I tend to run out of patience just on the focusing part.  Being mechanically minded, he loves all the knobs and dials on the F4.  I'm curious which way he'll ultimately decide to go.

On our Adirondack photography trip, he spent a little time shooting with D's old D70 and captured these, which he particularly liked.  The first is water rushing into a dark cavern under some rocks, shot with flash.  You should have seen the contortions he put himself into trying to shoot it.  Super cool effect.

These ones of the spider in the web frankly irk me - I tried and tried to get shots of the spiders in their webs from the side, to demonstrate the way they were blowing in the wind.  As I said, he has more patience than I do, and actually succeeded where I failed.

I love the idea of my husband toting a camera around, too.  It's fun to spend time taking pictures together.  He teaches me technical stuff, I teach him more artistic things about composition.  We're a good pair.

This, however, is one of the reasons I think it's great to have him have a camera at all times too.  One never knows when a second camera will be able to capture an amusing moment.  I love this shot.  I wonder who the second photographer was.  (From

funny animal photos-ALA Photo Shoot: You're Doin' It Right!


Wordless tribute to an October afternoon

>> Sunday, October 3, 2010


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