Sunday, 31 January 2010

There was a moon as brilliant as a searchlight a few nights ago but my mobile couldn't do justice to it.  That's one of the photos I took that night in the middle.

For the top pic I used an infrared filter and added a mirror border using a starry pic for the reflection.

The bottom pic is called Werewolf Moon.  I started with the middle photo and I had an idea to add a furry border and/or werewolf paw but while I was looking for paws I found a wolf paw print that I liked and decided on a different approach.  The print was a black silhouette on a white background which made the print easy to remove. I strestched it a little till I had the shape I wanted and arranged the photo till it showed through the print cut out the way I wanted it to.  Then I added fur to the white area, taking my time to make sure the fur had the long tousled werewolf look I was aiming for.  Because there wasn't much contrast between the fur and the sky I backlit the paw outline to give the effect of moonlight seeping through.  I added a white border and followed that with a black border.  I used another plugin to get the Gothic stone wall look and  added moss and lichen - green and orange blobs.  The white border didn't look right so I bevelled it giving it a similar blue tinge to the stone wall.  So there you are - full moon, seen through a hairy werewolf paw set in a Gothic stone border

Three different treatments of the same picture.  I liked this snowy scene but it was a very dull day and the sky was blank and white. However that gave me an opportunity to play as you can see.  

The top one had a spotlight vignette applied to it to give some interest to the sky and draw the eye in.

The middle one had a little 'n' large border added and I liked the look of the monochrome.

The bottom one - my favourite because I love colours - had a multi tone tint applied to a duplicate layer of the  pic.  The tinted layer was on top and I erased the white sections and the wall.  I think it looks surreal and I've very pleased with it

I'm really getting back into photography and I've recently started doing haiku poetry. I was encouraged by @gardenbuddha who is a friend of mine on Twitter. The photo above is one of mine. I silhouetted the houses below and added the following haiku

Soft bright rays shining
Clear skies make the heart rejoice
The silver lining

I wrote a batch of haikus one night and @gardenbuddha tipped me off that they'd been posted on a haiku site.  When I saw that they'd not only been posted but featured with a picture added I was overcome and moist eyed. I'm very new to this style of poetry so I never dreamed anything like that would happen.  Here is the link Dragonfly Archives

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

These all live in front of my monitor.  L to R wooden toadstools surrounding a cat.  The cat is one part of a two part ornament.  I have the kitten and a friend has the mother cat.  Behind the last two toadstools is a dark red HoTai ornament.  Sometimes known as 'laughing Buddhas' they are actually Ho Tai a monk who was loved for his happy disposition.  Next to him are three wooden mice and a china one.  In front of them is a reclining teddy bear.  At the far end is a green Ho Tai.  Whenever I see him I wonder what the joke was.  I bet it was a good one.  lol   In front of him are a few of the coins I've collected.  I'm a bit of a numismatist on the quiet but don't tell anyone!
I've just bought Neon Rainbow.  It's by a group called The Boxtops and my ISP has been using it in its adverts lol  I love  the imagery of the lyrics and the rhythm of the tune.  I also loved singing 'rainbo-o-o-owwwwww' while I was on hold and wondering what the chances were that I'd get caught doing it! lol

Yesterday and the day before were a bit scary as I lost my internet connection and didn't know what had gone wrong.  I lost connection when I uninstalled a program and didn't know whether that had caused it or whether there had been a coincidental hardware failure.  I was surprisingly calm and set about trying to find the router installation disc.  I knew roughly where it was but it was under a lot of other things.  While I was looking for it I tidied up.  When you get into a tidying frame of mind you've got to go with the mood haven't you?  ;)  I had a partly full recycling bag which I filled and then filled a second one.  I also filled a black sack.  I hope to do more later in the week.  I found the disc and spent an hour fruitlessly trying to get the router to work.  Nothing I tried cured the problem.  I'd had enough by then and had a quiet internet-less evening.

The following day I finished melting through the ice on the large plastic pot the goldfish are in.  I used an old whistling kettle - the kind that doesn't plug in but sits on a ring on the stove.  I put it full of boiling water on the ice and after doing that several times melted a hole in the ice.  The ice was a couple of inches (5 cm) thick.  The fish didn't look too good so I guddled them (caught them by hand) out of the pond into a bucket of water.  Ohhhhhhh that water was icy!  The things I do for my fish!  lol  I next carefully took a hammer to the ice and cleared it.  I came in for a break and brought the fish in with me.  It then occurred to me that I intended to clear two large items out of the kitchen so why not put the old washing boiler outside and bring the pond in?  With Dad's help I was able to lift the boiler out of the kitchen door and then I took it down the path and out of the garden.  The dustmen came today and someone took the boiler.  :-D

A while later I brought in the almost empty pot pond and put it where the boiler had been.  It wasn't till I'd filled the pond and put the fish back in that I realised the pond would be in the way.  I moved a chair and dragged the pond carefully to where the chair had been then put the chair where the boiler had been.  There now seems to be a lot more room in the kitchen and a cupboard and the fridge are easier to access.

I phoned the helpline of my internet service provider and the first operator had me turn the router off for 20 seconds then back on again.  He asked me which lights were lit and then said he needed to pass me over to a technical advisor.  He gave me another number to phone for the tech guy.  While I'd been waiting on hold for the first man I'd been singing along to the song they were playing about a 'neon rainbow'.  I rather hoped I'd get it if I was put on hold for the tech guy but I didn't.  The tech guy was marvelous.  We established that the problem was with my computer not the connection.  The router was working fine and I should  be able to get online.  He then very patiently talked me through a lot of commands I needed to type in to unblock my computer.   Because the phone isn't next to the PC he had called me back on my mobile.  It must have taken about an hour to sort it and he was wonderful throughout.  At the end of it I thanked him profusely and said how much I'd enjoyed the song that played when I was on hold.  He said "Now I know you're lying!"  We both laughed like mad at that and we were still laughing when I hung up.  I reflected that the experience had been so much better than I imagined it would be.  You don't expect phoning the tech people to be hilarious do you?

Every time I looked in on the fish last night they were swimming round the top of the pond.  I think they were trying to work out where the ice had gone, what the new 'sky' (ceiling) was and why it wasn't bitterly cold any more

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Sunday, 10 January 2010

The top picture shows my bird feeding station with a big wood pigeon on one of the seed trays. The lower picture is the 'tropical' part of my garden.  The plants looks like they aren't hardy but they all grow well in this part of England.  The snowy group in the foreground is my 'herb garden' in terracotta pots. I have rosemary, fennel, lemon thyme, and several kinds of lavender not all of which are in that group

I was shown the top picture by a friend on Twitter and loved it.  Today on Twitter Alyssa Milano posted a link to all these images and 67 more all with an ultra high Awwww factor lol
I'd love it if one of my mice would consent to sit in my hand and let me feed him
Now what makes you think I'm just a teensy weensy bit over tired?  lol  Apparently the feed updates every hour and my feed hasn't been checked yet.
Well that didn't work. No sign of a blog tweet on Twitter. WHY won't it work? How other people do this is a mystery to me. People think I'm clever?  Ha!  If only they knew!  Does it take a while for the tweet to turn up? Goodness knows.  I certainly don't
After much searching online, tears and protestations of "I can't do it! Other people can but I don't know how!" I think - only think mind you ;) - that I have linked this blog to Twitter. Big deep breath. Here goes

Just as I was about to post this my PC crashed. So, after some foul language and a temper tantrum... Here goes

Saturday, 9 January 2010

This is my snow covered bird feeding station. I put food out for the birds every day - seed, fat balls and peanuts. I also put water in a double birdbath which has a deepish bath for the bigger birds and a shallow one for the small ones. Birds and other wild creatures need as much help as they can get when snow covers the ground and makes food scarce, and when ice makes it hard for them to get water to drink

A mouse moved in a few months back, then a second one and now there is a family of 6 including the parents. They're no trouble and according to what I've read they'll move back outside in Spring. They are very clean and a delight to watch. I put hamster/gerbil food down for them and fat balls and water to wash the fat balls down. lol They are getting more and more used to me watching them. I'm not sure whether I want them to be tame enough for me to stroke them or whether that would put them at a disadvantage when they return to the wild. For now, in this extremely severe Winter, it feels good to be doing something to help some wild creatures who might otherwise die

These are some of my fish. The photo was taken in the Summer. Due to problems with the barrel they are in now in the large plastic pot in the background. I have three orange goldfish, an orange and white one, a calico shubunkin and a black comet. There has been a long saga of problems with this barrel and another I bought sending the water cloudy. It's a 'work in progress' but I'm determined to give the fish a decent barrel to swim about in this year - while I save up for a proper pond. Despite all that the fish are very friendly and before the cold weather came they would come to me to be fed.

Some pictures of the garden which along with the rest of Britain is under snow. The second picture show my Winter cherry tree (prunus subhirtella autumnalis rosea) covered with snow. The first picture shows the blossom with the snow removed. It flowers from about October/November right through till about March

I haven't written a blog for ages so it may take me a while to get back into it - or it may not. lol What I hope to do here is make a place where you can find my photos fairly easily and where I can talk in more depth about some of the subjects than interest me and hopefully you too. So there will be a lot about my fish, my garden, the current extreme weather and, of course, the family of mice who live with me. :) I will also share any nuggets of knowledge that come my way