Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A hair compliment

The lady in the camper next door stopped me when I was going to get in the truck and said my hair was beautiful and she really liked it. I said thanks. And then she said she was really a "long hair person." I thought that was cute, and what's strange is, I knew exactly what she meant! Her hair was very short. She motioned me about how long it used to be, looked like a little past shoulder length, and said she had recently cut it and she missed it. While I was out making pictures tonight she and my husband talked for awhile. She and her husband, they look my age, are from New York. She, born and raised there, and they both wanted to get out and live in Las Cruces (New Mexico). My husband commiserated with her because we are native Californians and wanted to get out and we like New Mexico too!

Well, today I was thinking about my summers. I love summer. It's my favorite season of the year even when it's hot, hot, hot. The first summer I recall, I was eight.

I lived the summer in Nebraska with Aunt Gail and it was the busiest, best summer of my life. My cousin Myrna let me wear her long brown haired wig once in awhile. She gave it to a friend and I whined, "Why didn't you give it to me. I wanted it." She handled it so well. She said, "Oh my gosh! I should have given it to Liliana. I'm sorry. I just didn't think of it." I went for it hook, line, and sinker, and I felt very grown-up that at least she considered giving it to me. I admired all my cousins and they were 18, 19, 20, and the other one was 20 too. Now I realize she wasn't about to give it to an eight year old kid. Ha! I believed her though and so I didn't have a complete breakdown in front of everyone. She was probably afraid of that. I could be a real stinker when I was eight.

Age 9: No recollection. Lived in Pacific Beach but don't remember a thing.

Age 10: Lived in El Centro. El Centro is a dive. Large migrant farm worker population. Mainly I remember a Mexican girl across the street named Gloria. We were both ten and made friends. The males in their family spit on the floor in the house. She used to ride me on the back of her bike. I never rode her because I wasn't that strong. She was strong and she didn't mind sweating. I can see her face now, her long black hair and brown eyes, she was a little overweight, sweat running down the sides of her face, and she'd be pumping that bike the whole way around the block. Then we'd sit in front of the air conditioner at her house. I wonder what ever became of her. Her mom thought the YMCA was a devil organization. Remember when some people used to think that? Funny to think back on now.

Age 11: This summer rates pretty high. We returned to San Diego and lived on a street with a row of about a half dozen apartment buildings. The management called our building "The Zoo." In the summer it was fun! We swam every day in the pool. I was like a fish! Woke up, got in the pool. Swam a lot. But then school started and things changed. A man who had dated my mom committed suicide in September. I remember the mood of the building when I came home from school. No one would tell me what was wrong, but I could tell something bad had happened. He let his son come home from high school and find him in the apartment. Why didn't he do it somewhere else? Why did he allow his own child to find him? He shot himself. His wife of 20 years died the previous year. She passed away softly in a chair at home after they had come home from a party. They'd had a good time. She had a heart attack though. I don't think she could have been but 45 years old or so. He never got over it. But worse, after we moved we'd heard that one of the sons, the eldest, 16, had been busted for molesting a four year old girl. It was Jenny. We used to wonder why Jenny didn't talk and always walked around with her thumb in her mouth. Her mother had many, many boyfriends and didn't pay any attention to her.

Age 12: My first summer in 29. Our first house was out on the perimeter of the town. Desert. It's probably the reason why I love the desert now. My sister and I used to go on journeys. We'd walk around in the desert on a pretend adventure. We'd find lizards and the red ants were huge! Once my sister (she was 8) got her feet full of a cactus and I had to carry her all the way back home. We went to the library a lot. I like the library. I think I read every fairy tale available that summer. My sister got a certificate.

Age 13: I babysat a lot. One morning my friend, Deb, and I stayed up together all night on a babysitting job. At dawn we were eating cereal outside on the front porch and moths were flying around the porch light. I think one may have gone into one of our cereal bowls and we were grossed out.

Age 14: Got a babysitting job and lived with the family about 150 miles from home. Was real happy with making the money but their home life wasn't the best. Met a girl up the street nicknamed Peanut. I went to a square dancing event with her and she gave me speed and angel dust. Too bad for me. It was a wrong turn.

Age 15: Don't remember exactly.

Age 16: I live at my dad's now. My Aunt Delores gave me my first perfume on my 16th birthday. It was Charlie perfume. I still remember the blue box and the perfume applicator. I really liked it. Went to the beach many days with my favorite, best cousin, Laurie. It was a good summer. I used to rush and do the dusting and vacuuming and dishes (my dad insisted) early in the morning so we could leave at about 9:00am and get to the beach by 10:00am. Always went to Black's Beach. That's a nude beach. My dad didn't know! It used to be nice but I stopped going only three years later because it changed from regular nudist types to deviants. Seemed dangerous to me. A guy said something to me and I never went back, that's the reason. The long walk down the super steep hill was fantastic and made my legs strong.

After I turned 17 summers weren't very good until I was 24. Wait, now that I think of it, maybe summer when I was 21 was pretty good. I met a nice group of people and had a nice boyfriend and his parents really took me in. They were very good to me. It was one of those fleeting times though. There is something about summertime that is not like the rest of the year. It's special. Summer has a certain feel to it. Even the memory of it stirs up its own emotions. Kind of like music. Music can do that too.

Well, that's all the remembering for tonight. It was all so long ago. I should write it all down so I won't forget my memories. I used to run through my mind the names of all of my elementary school teachers. I better do that next so I don't forget them. Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime!

The badger

I got such great comments and questions about the badger so I'm adding another photo of him. I know it was a lucky sighting!

I have a headache dogging me for no reason today.

Tomorrow my new swimsuit should arrive!

My hair is 38.5 inches. That's a half inch for the month. Hooray, hooray! I proclaim tomorrow an official holiday because my hair is growing. Take the day off! Tell your employers! Spread the news!

Monday, July 30, 2007

A stellar day

I tried again with the moon. I am more content with this one! The upper right side has definition showing the craters and that's what I reeeally wanted to see. Seeing those, I know I have a perfectly good lens and it doesn't need to be returned. That would be a bummer if I had to return it, worse because I am past the seven day return policy anyway. It's a non-issue now. The scuttlebut on the forums is that some copies of the lens are "bad" as in not as good as others and bad news, whether it's rational or not, travels far in the discussion forums. I would like a bit more definition but I think with time and maybe a better tripod, I can improve. At least seeing the craters on the upper left side leads me to believe that my ability, not the lens, is affecting the photo. I turned off the IS, made sure mirror lock was enabled and shot a bunch of pics. A bunch of 'em were blurred too. I had to fiddle with the hue for a long time to find the color I wanted for the moon to match the one I found online that I admire. Found it. Yeah, don't mess with Liliana because I will find that hue if it's the last thing I do! Perseverance, my dear Watson.

A badger! This is why I had a stellar day. A badger sighting! I've only seen these guys on tv and that was when we had a tv! He is nosing around and digging in the prairie dog holes. Badgers can be mean you know. I didn't want to get too close, but he didn't come as close as I wished he might. Man, it was awesome. I was stoked. The prairie dogs didn't put up as much of a fuss with their barks as I thought they might. I would think that I would hear a difference in their calls, but I didn't. I guess Prairie Dog Woman is not yet any kind of expert with the prairie dog grammar and syntax. I hoped to see more of him so I walked the entire trail around the open prairie meadow area. No luck with seeing him again.

But I did get my first best bird photo though. This female bluebird alighted near me. I'm thrilled with the background which is call 'bokeh' in photographer-speak. It's creamy bokeh and that's like half the reason why I bought this telephoto lens. It gives great bokeh. (Bo as in bone and Keh as in Kenneth.) Creating good bokeh enables you, the photographer, to cause the viewer to see what you want them to see. Your eye is drawn to the bird. He is sharp. The background isn't.

I had several misses today, so getting these three makes up for it. I think I saw a pileated woodpecker. Are they here? I don't know for sure if they are, but he was some kind of fancy bird. That I do know. He landed on the sign and I asked my husband to stop and he sort of did but my shot was overexposed and there was someone coming up behind us, then the bird flew off. Drats! Then I cut off the tippy nose of ANOTHER prairie dog jump-yip. I kill myself! He was healthy and cute too. I deleted it so I don't have to lay my eyes on it again. Then I came upon a doe lying in the grass, but I also startled her and she startled me, so no photo. She ran off at about 50mph. She was real pretty curled up in the grass though, and I was standing above her on the road so it would have been a nice vantage point. The key words there, are would have. Oh well. Que sera, sera!

I have four big mosquito bites on my right arm and two on my left. I never see or feel anything biting me, and they're so big. I don't like that.

Moon rise behind a hill

The moon is dark because of the atmosphere but when it rose higher it was whiter. It was really pretty. Prettier than the picture. I'm going to go out tomorrow night and try again. The edges of my moon aren't as smooth as I think they should be when I crop it. I'm mortified. I'm not going to be able to sleep tonight! Oh noooooo!

What did I do wrong? Maybe it's because I didn't turn off the Image Stabilization on the lens while I was on the tripod. Well, I wasn't really on the tripod but my camera was on the tripod. I was in a chair.

I used the timer. I used mirror lock-up. I used my hand-me-down from the '80s tripod. But it just occurred to me. Maybe I have to enable mirror lock-up each time I start the camera. I just checked it and it's not on. I thought it was enabled. I think it was disabled. Oh dear, I have a headache.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Joyner Ridge Trail

I haven't walked the trail yet but I'm going to. This place is one of the best places to photograph Devils Tower. The trail around the base of the tower is super popular but you don't get the perspective that you can out here. We saw the moon rise here tonight. I stood and waited patiently by my tripod. It was really lovely. Tomorrow is the full moon you know.

I missed the photography class on Friday because it rained but they offered them again (beginning and intermediate level) today so I attended both today. It was GREAT. It wasn't what I expected though. The teacher, who really is a photog professor and a successful photographer, uses film. I got to use a real 4x5 camera which is the kind used in a studio. She called it a friendly dinosaur. Haha! It was big and heavy and I learned about f stops and how to do depth of field. I'm going to practice more tomorrow. I met a couple who just started full-timing and enjoyed their company very much. They're campground hosts at the monument. Really nice people and they have a delightful travel blog. They don't realize it but they have imbued me with the joie de vivre I seek.

Will someone tell tomorrow to hurry up and get here? I can't wait!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Blue Angels overhead

I know, it's just some airplanes but my husband likes this one so I thought to post it.

I get to go to a photography class. Yay! Tomorrow morning is the beginner class and Saturday is the intermediate class. My son found out about it for me and wrote all the information down for me, bless his little heart. I think I'll keep the info because I love his handwriting. Actually, during handwriting it frustrates me to no end because I think it should be neater, but in the real world I am touched by his handwriting.

This is the first day I didn't get out and take any pictures. I took a shower instead. Yeah, it's an all day thing. Haha!

Today I ordered my swimsuit of 2007. It's going to be the new Liliana! Boy howdy, I got an email from a friend who says she goes out swimming all day long even though she feels like a walrus. Wait a minute! That's exactly how I feel. I am not lithe, not smooth, not nicely tanned. Then sun only highlights it. It pains me so. But I look pretty good at dusk. When I was 16 I wouldn't go to the beach at all until I had already gotten a tan in the backyard. Oh how I pitied the untanned white people! Yesterday I went to the pool to watch our son and I sat still and quiet in a chair in the shade with my arms crossed in front of me and wearing a hot smile - like an elderly woman about 70, no 80, no, 95 years old. I don't want to do that anymore! I was not happy even while I was doing it. I'm 48, not dead. So I must venture out with my imperfect (but still very functional body). I intend to be courageous about it like my high school friend. I'll shall have some verve, some joie de vivre. And maybe even a little grace!

Well, off to bed for me. I have a class at the crack of 10:00am.

Blue Angels in Wyoming

What do I spy with my little eye? The Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets! It's the real deal. They did a fly by yesterday - 12 times they went by. Apparently it was for a photo shoot. They obtained special permission from the government. I have six fighter jets in my frame. There's a seventh off to the side and the photographer is in there. I read online that they did a similar photographic fly-by at the Grand Tetons on the 23rd. I don't care much about airplanes but this was awesome. Lucky spectators gathered outside to witness this unexpected, exciting, free! air show. The noise was incredible. 'Twas quite a thrill! I jumped up and down and screamed like a banshee every time they went by. I love to scream with trains and planes! I had to run outside in my pajamas because it was only noon, and you know my pajamas are highwaters due to serious shrinkage. Then I thought, "Hey! I should get my camera for this!" so I fetched my camera, ran back out, and each time they went by I had to decide whether to scream or take pictures. For some reason, no one came near me. Bwa-hahahaha!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Prairie dog 'Jump-Yip'

I adore prairie dogs. Within walking distance there is a prairie dog town and I go there every single day. I go at sunrise, sunset, and for short visits during the day. I need to be out more during the day when the light is good but it's been in the 100s this week and even with a hat on, I can't take the sun for too long.

Black-tailed prairie dogs only occupy one or two percent of the land they lived on two hundred years ago. They're very social and live in family groups called coteries (the /o/ sound is long). The have these vocalizations that are actually pretty complex but basically, to my merely human ears, they have a warning bark and an alarm yip. This photo show a guy doing his "jump-yip" alarm. Funny thing is, his buddy is sitting on his rumpus not looking too terribly concerned.

What I find fascinating is, I read that they recognize colors and they recognize danger or non-danger. Me, I wear the same red overshirt every time I go to the prairie dog town. I think maybe they recognize I am not a threat. I walk around real gentle and slow and quiet, and I think they know I mean no harm. Sometimes I can get rather close to one when he's busy eating and he seems not to mind.

I just read that the jump-yip happens after a predator has left the area and that makes sense to me. I've noticed the the jump-yips are always happening farther from me than any of the regular alarm yips. No wonder!

In 2005, when we were here last, I tried and tried to get a close enough photo of a prairie dog but I couldn't. I was calling myself Prairie Dog Woman because I was crazy about the prairie dogs, which really aren't dogs at all, but rodents. Ewww. But anyway.

Here's my post from July 2005 - Call Me Prairie Dog Woman. People liked this picture. I did too. I was so stealthy!

Monday, July 23, 2007

The eternal swimsuit dilemma

I may have found my new swimsuit of 2007. Haven't bought one for five years and it's time. I've been wanting one, but a cute one. Well, semi-cute. It's a very, very hard thing to find and buy. Think I'm gonna go for it and no one will have one just like mine. I'm breaking the fashion rules this year and am buying a swimsuit with long sleeves and a high neck. No kidding...and chlorine resistant too.
[A sun safe swimsuit]

Also, went to sleep and woke up with a good ol'tune by Leo Sayer in my mind. I Love You More Than I Can Say. Love this song.

Newsweek Mag Article

Why is This Man Gloomy?
in Newsweek.

Gloomy? Is anyone else doing a jig in the photo? Nope. I fail to see the gloom. I see a guy at work with other guys at work.

He's seen by many Americans as being creepy and sinister? Those adjectives have never entered my mind regarding Cheney. Not even close.

I submit, the writer of that article has an agenda. Of course Cheney and Bush worry about another terrorist attack. IT'S THEIR JOB. I want people who worry about terrorist attacks 24/7 to be heading my government. Since 9/11 have we been attacked again in our homeland? The bottom line is, no we haven't. And no one wants that to change.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Doe and her fawn

I'm workin' it, I'm workin' it.

I took the plunge and am recording everything is RAW format only.

Am struggling with Depth of Field (DOF). It's ruining many of my photos. It involves my old nemesis, mathematics.

Well, I hafta make potato salad now. That's not very exciting. I would much rather blog and make photographs!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I have a new lens!

It's bigger than I imagined. It's...big. My husband was laughing and laughing as I walked towards him with this thing hanging off my camera. He was at the laundry and so he could see me walking from the trailer to there. And I said, "So am I beautiful?" Hehe. Well that's how it is if you want the zoom and I do want the zoom. It's not the kind of lens you want to point at people though, or kids, or buildings. I guess in the city they might think you're a terrorist or something. I was so excited I went out and took a bunch of shots, nothing any good because when I downloaded them I realized my settings were all wrong. I thought, "DOH, no wonder these looks so grainy!" I was really worried. I had left my ISO on 1600 from last night at dusk. Sheesh.

So I went out to do it over again but there had been a big rain, with giant hail, and the prairie dogs were mostly in their burrows already. So then I figured I'll put on my regular kit lens and do the sky and forest, and I did. The sunset was the best one of the summer so far. And then I saw some deer and they crossed the road right in front of me. I was sitting in the truck. I was sitting in the truck changing lenses. Why I oughta! And I missed the deer completely. Well, another day, another penny. I'm going out in the morning for more, (hopefully actually successful) test shots. I have to be as sure as I can that I have a good copy because if there's anything wrong with it I only have a seven day return policy.

It's just a plain forest picture. No big. The deer walk through there. Oh, one ran through the campground today! Poor thing was scared. We also saw what we think was a muskrat in the Belle Fourche River, pronounced Bell Fooosh.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My husband peels potatoes

He misses the trash can a little bit. lol! I don't mind cleaning up!

There's a good article at CNN about working moms going part time or leaving the work force to rear their own children. All things go in a circle, don't they. Those of us who grew us with moms working out of the home full time and who've been insulted by the feminists because we value raising our own kids instead of being in the workplace, well, it's come full circle. Staying at home at least part time is what a many women really want to do.
CNN - More working moms dream of going part-time

My new 100mm-400mm Canon camera lens is scheduled to be delivered tomorrow. I checked the UPS tracking. The camera lens has a learning curve and I hope I learn fast. My current lens is just too short to shoot wildlife but I say, I'm developing an eye to see the wildlife. Last night I stood for a long time at the place where I saw the porcupine. No porcupine came around but I spied with my little eye a raccoon. The thing is, with my eyes I could barely make him out. I decided to snap into the dark anyway and my camera shows him better than I could see him. Still, he's too far away for a good picture. I fiddled with my settings for a better shot and looked back up...and he was gone.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


It's hot here all right! This isn't Nova Scotia weather, that's for sure. We're having a good time. I walk in the evenings. Husband took me for a drive one morning at 6:00am but it was a bust. Hardly any wildlife compared to the day before when I wasn't with him!

Pictures for today. I wanted to post them in chronological order but I guess it doesn't really matter. I feel like putting up today's, so I will take my time and post others in good time. I am always disappointed when I have no pictures to play with in CS2 so at least I have a collection on the back burner to keep me busy for awhile. I have one of an old barn that I want to make into monotone. Black and white.

A tan horse. He was the prettiest of all of them out in the field. I've been out twice shooting horses and my first set was awful. Who doesn't love horses, especially when you don't see them every day. But when I downloaded the pictures I hate to say it but those horsies were ugly. I didn't notice in the field that their fur looked like they had the mange or something. I think it could have been patchy variance in color but it didn't look good in .jpg format at all!

Was he out drinkin' late last night? He's got a bit o' the red eye. Haha!

Lots of white tailed deer here. I've seen several fawns with spots still. They're so sweet. Kind of smart too because they stay hidden even when mama is grazing. As I came home yesterday from walking I found myself about ten feet away from a doe. I looked at her and she at me, and it wasn't till she turned and ran that I realized her fawn was behind a bush right next to her. I barely saw the fawn.

It's frustrating. The wildlife is generally too far for my DSLR lens which is 28-135mm. It's taken a good six months but now I use my DSLR for everything. My other little Canon, the S2IS, takes up to eight minute movies, pretty decent quality, (and no one really needs more than eight minutes at a time, do they) so it's pretty much the only reason I carry it now. Took me a long time to wean myself from it. I felt safe with it. But I realized tonight that now that I am used to my DSLR I don't want to use my little camera anymore. What a change! It has more optical zoom, yes, but lacks photo quality in comparision.

So I have ordered a telephoto lens. I'm so excited and I just hope the shipment arrives on time and that the lens is perfect with no defects or problems. I hope, I hope, I hope.

Just think how I could have utilized it today. Guess what I saw. A porcupine! They're nocturnal so you never see them during the day. It was dusk and I couldn't make out what it was. It was slow, and brown, and fuzzy looking. So I walked down a hill. Luckily I didn't run into any bad bugs or snakes. I got closer till I was within eight feet. I was afraid of him and he was afraid of me. Haha! And I am saddened because due to the low light and me maybe not knowing the best settings, he is blurry. Such a disappointment for me. But I shall try again. And perhaps Jehovah will send me another moment. Even though the photo is not print quality, the memory I have now is pretty excellent. Moments. They're special, and usually quick. You have to be open to them to experience one.

I had a second "almost" moment today. I've been trying to catch a prairie dog giving out his warning. They jump and stand tall on their back feet and yip. It's so cute. Well, here's my other "almost" shot of the day:

Back to the drawing board. It's in focus. His face is darling. You can almost see the pads on his paws. I just missed getting his head in the frame, that's all. :) Serenity now!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Snow dream

I was walking along a dirt path in summer and a big, white, translucent bubble descended from the sky in front of me. I stood still and looked with curiosity and awe. It hovered above the path and then the bottom opened up and hundreds of soft, pretty snowflakes drifted lazily to the ground. It was one of the best dreams I've ever had. Second only to my floating purple and pink hearts dream in 2005.

Then I thought to myself, Oh no, I don't have my camera!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Cape Smokey to Cape Breton National Park

We are at our destination. Hip, hip, hooray. And it's so beautiful here. But, instead of writing about where I am I'm posting a few pics of our one week trip here.

It was cloudy and grey when we arrived to the northeast. A month later it was still cloudy and grey with a forecast of three days of rain on the way... We decided it was time for us to go!

Here is a series of photos taken last Friday, the day when we left Cape Breton (pronounced Britain) Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia. This mountain is the mountain that gave me insomnia for three nights solid before we left. Boy was I a worried. Turned out, going down was not as bad as I thought it might be. We went between 1 and 15 mph hour the whole way down.

I checked with the visitor's center and the grade is 15%. That is steep.

I so wish I had a photo of the sign on the other side. That one says 1000 foot climb in 1.3 miles. Trip out on this. As we approached this mountain, thinking we were driving around the base of it of course, I saw a heavy duty dirt dump truck inching down the mountain side. I said to my husband, "Uh, we're not going up there are we?" (I thought perhaps there was some sort of contruction going on) and he said definitely not. I said, "Whew, good thing." Next thing we see is a sign. It says You are at the base of Smokey You will climb 1000 feet in 1.3 miles. Do we see a turn-around anywhere? NO! So the sign swishes past me before I can finish reading it and I can't tell you what I was thinking. It would be all the characters from the top row of your keyboard! Our trailer hitch creaked and growled near the top. Generally this is not a sound passengers wish to hear. Never have we gone up such a hill with this trailer! The other scary mountain driving we've done is the road to Skagway, Alaska, but we had our smaller trailer that weighed half as much then. As soon as we topped Lil' Smokey (as she's affectionately called by some locals) we pulled over and husband greased the hitch. I can't say I was frightened but I can say that I thought the person in the car that drove right on our tail all the way up was of questionable intelligence. I wouldn't be driving so close to us if I were them!

I am deliriously happy that God made it a foggy day at the top of Smokey. I didn't have to see the sheer drop to the Atlantic Ocean over that railing. It's also nicer being on the inside lane going down. People ascending the mountain are in the outside lane!

Next, here is an upcoming hair pin curve. On the way up we didn't take it wide enough and our back end scraped the narrow shoulder.

We descend further down the mountain. What does the sign say? W-r-e-c-k Cove? That would give anyone warm fuzzies, right? lol!

We are at the bottom. Whew! Color me happy!

We exit over the Canso Causeway, in the Strait of Canso, the deepest causeway in the world, and drive off of the island.

In the afternoon we enter the beautiful province of New Brunswick. They have an awesome flag by the way. It has a ship on it symbolizing its history in shipbuilding.

That's all for tonight! I have some miscellaneous shots of the following days of travel to post next.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

South Dakota today

Call us driving fools! We're getting lots of miles under this old truck. Tomorrow we will make it to our destination the next state over. We drove 11 hours today. While talking today we decided for next year...less driving! Have you looked at a map lately? Run your finger from Nova Scotia to South Dakota. We drove since last Friday through Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire (20 minutes), New York, Pennsylvania (just a teeny corner), Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and just made S.D. tonight. Serenity now!

We had a tire blow out in Ohio. That was excitement we can do without. Praise the Lord, my husband was able to fix it and it didn't happen in a bad area. We had a brief but hard rain yesterday. One night it was getting a little iffy as to whether we would find a campsite. Two campgrounds we went to were full. I was getting edgy because I don't want my husband driving after dark. We needed a place for the night. We passed a sign on the road and took a chance and went to the campground. They gave us a site. Yay. A funny thing is we were there earlier in the season and were practically the only campers in the whole place but now campgrounds are hopping. They were full to the brim with families, kids, and dogs having fun, and the employees were frazzled.

I saw my first red fox ever. Only for a flash because he was hunting by the trees as we drove by, but it was pretty neat. Saw a white tail deer and a few raptors including a bald eagle. And best of all, horses. I love horses and I got to see two running together across a big grassy field one morning - tails and manes a-flyin'! Awesome.

Sorry I don't have a picture for today. I haven't downloaded a thing. Everything is still in my camera because I'm tired every night.

I had a case of awful anxiety in the northeast. I object to anxiety. Where's my gavel? The traffic was heavy and not fun to go through with a big trailer. My husband had to concentrate on the road, navigation, and other drivers every moment. The trees give us claustrophobia. I know it's a purty part of the country and surely has its own unique flavor but I can't take it for more than a month. We're in the open now. Corn fields go on forever. My anxiety left as soon as we hit the open road and easy driving. We have no plans to go back to the east anymore. At Flying J's I threw out the Woodall's for the eastern states. I grew up in the city and couldn't have imagined myself as anything other than a city girl, but the populated areas don't appeal to me anymore.

I have to go to bed. The boss says so. Haha! I believe the campground at our destination has Wi-fi and I'll be able to post for the next five days! I will have some pictures ready. Oh yeah, we saw a few crop dusters today. They must have fun the way they fly.

My thanks to the prayers out there who have prayed for traveling mercies for us. Thank you.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Good-bye Cape Breton, 2007

The famous Cabot Trail on the Saint Lawrence side (the west side of the island of Cape Breton). Touted as one of the most spectacular drives in the world, I'd say it's pretty good. I'm terribly spoiled though what with being from California and having already been to Big Sur and on the Highway 1 all the way up the coast of California. I daresay it rivals the Cabot Trail, but I give top billing to Cabot Trail by one notch.

Today is our last day here. Tomorrow morning early we're leaving and going back to the states. I think we'll hit the U.S. on day two. The weather has been uncharacteristicly cloudy and cool in this region though it's up to 78 degrees today. The weather is strange everywhere now, isn't it! Hail in London? My, my. We miss the sun but I suppose that will be soon remedied. I'm hearing of broiling temps in the United States.

In the morning we get to go...down the hill. It's Cape Smokey. I asked at the Visitor's Center and the grade is 15%. 'Tis on the edge of the mountain, yes, with the very big Atlantic ocean below. I plan to close my eyes! However it's only 1000 feet and we will creep down very, very slowly. If we exit the other way there are two grades higher and longer than this one and hairpin curves. Nicer road, but we'd prefer to just go the way we came. There are a few other big rigs in the park now. Cape Breton Highlands National Park is the least busy of any national park we've ever been to. The employees have said there will be lots of people, but I don't know where they are! We've seen the most moose ever and that's been fun. We've seen a Bald Eagle and an Ovenbird.

I've had a terrible time deciding which photos to keep and toss and which to upload. That's why not too many pics yet. I'm shooting RAW now (which is like a digital negative) and the files are huge. As a result I had to spend two days transferring image files to CD. Not 48 hours straight, but I was sick of transferring by the time I finished. But on the up side, I'm learning some neat post processing techniques. I've learned how to use adjustment layers and I've learned how to "paint with light." I tried downloading a Photoshop action, but it didn't work for me so I'm doing it manually. Paint With Light (PWL) in the digital darkroom is what was called dodge and burn in the wet darkroom. Even Ansel Adams dodged and burned! Get out of town you say? I know, I know. You think that the pictures came out of the camera that way, don't you? Me too, but now I learn they didn't. They did not! Dodge is to lighten pixels, burn is to darken them. Ansel Adams spent a ton of time doing it. Ansel Adams said, 'We don't make a photograph with just a camera. We bring to the act of photography all the books we have read, the movies we have seen, the music we have heard and the people we have loved.' I like that one.

I've also finally figured out how to use Neat Image to sharpen. Only took me two months. Yes well, some of us learn slow but when we get it, we got it. It's not very intuitive. I've read Noise Ninja is easier to use, but that if you already know how to use NI then it's just as good. Guess I barely eeked in on the "if you already know how to use it" part.

Oh and the boots I wanted...they didn't have any small enough for me. And the store guy kept talking to my husband instead of me, so my husband had to tell him they were for me. I need a size seven...they had an eight. I used to wear 6 1/2 but after my second baby my feet grew a whole half size. I wanted to get fractious over it, but I exited the store calmly. My husband did pick up a piece of killer chocolate cake for me on the way home at Seaside Restaurant so that soothed the disappointment significantly. I opened the box and noticed they even put four splots of cream on it. That stopped me from becoming unruly. Last time I only got two splots. :)

Iris are growing wild here. In big fields. They are candy to my eyes. Here is one.

Below is a little bird. It's severely cropped but not too blurry for a little old 28-135mm Canon lens, handheld, at the seaside, on a very blustery day.

Now I have to go make meatloaf, and tuna sandwich makings and egg salad sandwich makings so we'll have some good food to eat on the way to Wyoming. We will have a few days of a lot of driving before us.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The boots I covet

My hiking boots are about done. I got them two years ago at the Grand Tetons and they're very tired out. I've coveted this particular style of boot ever since I saw Aubony's. Aubony is a rough, tough woman I know who works in law enforcement who can make you say 'Uncle' anytime she wants. If you're a friend of hers she's a sweetheart. And she has a beautiful Swissie dog (Swiss Mountain dog) that the breeders gave her at no cost because she rescued their dog when he was lost. I am just an acquaintance but she's been an angel to our son. Aubony has a heart for kids and animals. Maybe if I wear the same boots I'll be as tuff as she is! Sounds perfectly logical to me. I don't need police academy training, just the shoes. And it happens that I have seen a similar pair at the Outdoors Outfitters in town here. I think they had my name on them too. But can I convince someone else of that. Maybe, maybe.

When we were in San Diego I bought the stupidist shoes. Really stupid shoes. I bought the kind of shoes my sister likes, and I like how she dresses. Usually. Anyways, I bought strappy black platform sandals with soft, pretty sort of felt on the sides. Yeah. Platforms sandals don't fare so well in the dirt, neither do thin beaded straps, and neither does felt. Let's think. Where am I the minute I walk out my front door? Standing on dirt or maybe grass. Sheesh. WHAT was I thinking.

See the problem is covetousness. The problem is the desire to have those things you see other people have and you think you need them and you think you want them. I've fashioned our life so we're not around that influence anymore, not 24/7 anyway, and I deluded myself into thinking I'd changed. Oh I always think I'm changing and I turn out to be exactly the same as I ever was. I bought a load of junk that I didn't need in San Diego. I mean, there we were camping right smack dab in the middle of every store imaginable within a ten mile radius. Who could resist. I was deluded. Thought I needed those shoes.

These boots are what I should have gotten. These boots are Liliana! And they'll last a long time. These shoes are sensible. And honest, and worthy, and the ad says I'll be ready for action anytime! The ad says they will help me meet the demands of my job. This is key. I need these shoes.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Walking today

This is the trail I walked today. I've taken so many pictures of trails I walk and they all look like plain old trails! This one I thought looked a little interesting though. I found two lady slipper flowers at the beginning of the path! I'm going back with my little camera to try to take some close-ups. My DSLR doesn't do macro.

We saw a bald eagle atop a conifer tree at the beach in the afternoon. They've been taken off of the endangered species list as of last week. He was magnificent.

It is Canada Day. Happy Canada Day, Canada! This park is much quieter than the one we were at last year. Year before last we spent Canada Day at Moberly Lake Provincial Park in British Columbia and it was a bit wilder!

My hair is 38 inches today! I washed it today and it turned out nice. I can tell a difference in it on this island. There's more moisture in the air than what we're used to in New Mexico and I think it's good for my hair. It might like the brown water here too. lol! There's lots of iron in the water at the park. It's potable but I see people taking jugs to fill up at the fire hose station because for some reason the water is less brown there.

I'm back! I went and got a picture of a wild Lady's Slipper. After I went back and found the original plant I looked around and found seven more plants! They're of the orchid family and grow in forested areas that have calcium in the soil and they like dappled shade. That describes this little pink slipper to a tee. And they grow in pairs often. Very interesting flower. In the 1800's and 1900's their roots were used for tooth aches and muscle spasms, but they're so hard to cultivate so they aren't used much as an herbal medicine.

My connection is giving out. It goes out every night but I shan't complain. I'm glad to able to get on at all.