The beagle, Vizsla and miniature pinscher.  Do you have a treat?

New Year, New Routines

The beagle, Vizsla and miniature pinscher.  Do you have a treat?

The beagle, Vizsla and miniature pinscher. Do you have a treat?

This week’s photo challenge is new – something new for me in 2015 (to see how other photographers interpret it, click here).

What better for this than a picture taken New Year’s Day?  One of the first of the year.  I didn’t have much time for it – just seconds later, they were running over to see if I had a treat to share with them, like this:

Oh the joys of photographing pets!

As I settle into unemployment and looking for a new job, I’m developing new routines.  I haven’t written about routines for a while (see my last post here).  What I like about routines is the structure it gives to a day and how the many small decisions that are needed don’t have to take up much  mental space.  At the same time, routines need adjustment to keep them useful.  So along with job searching, what else is new in my routine?

Yoga Each Morning - I’ve never done real well with doing some yoga or stretching each day.  Since something is better than nothing, I’m instead doing ten minutes of yoga each morning before I get dressed.  One of the things I learned from Peggy Cappy’s DVD, “Yoga for the Rest of Us” was how to do a sun salutation without getting all the way down on the floor.  So I do some shoulder work, stretch my torso and back, then do two sun salutations.  If I have time, I do more leg work or get down on the floor.  If I don’t, that’s good enough.  Incidentally, her DVD is excellent for anyone with mobility issues or who is new to yoga and can’t keep up with a class.  It’s a good workout and not as easy as it sounds.

Long Lingering Breakfasts - My favorite boy toy and I have always enjoyed going out for breakfast before I go to work.  The last few years, we’ve gone nearly every morning due to my long hours.  The nice thing about breakfast is we’re both fresh and in a good mood.  We get a lot done during breakfast, discussing all kinds of topics in addition to just visiting.  Now that I don’t have to hurry off to work, those breakfasts have gone from 30 minutes to between 60 and 90 minutes.  It’s been fun and we’re enjoying just spending time together.

Walking The Dogs – The dogs are getting a lot less sleep these days!  They’re hovering continuously to make sure I don’t leave the house without them.  I walk the beagle and Vizsla separately (the miniature pinscher does not get walked – he’s too afraid and doesn’t like it).  I have to sneak them out one at a time, which is challenging.  Some days I take the Vizsla to the local park and if I can, leave him off-leash to run.  The beagle can’t walk very far due to his back, so when I get home, he goes for a small stroll around the neighborhood.

Afternoon Nap - This is so nice!  It doesn’t have to be long to refresh me for the evening.  I just enjoy snoozing in the easy chair for a short while before supper and am much more alert after supper.

My days are full!  By the time I make my phone calls, take care of E-mails and fill out whatever paperwork is due now, I’m not having much time left for my photography or to even read.  I think this will start to settle down, but we’ll see.  In the meantime, these new things in my life are enjoyable.  I will miss them when I go back to work.

Here’s the original photo and another one where I was still trying to get everyone to pay attention to me:



Common Enchantment

Vizsla sleeping on the couch, where he is NOT supposed to be.

Vizsla sleeping on the couch, where he is NOT supposed to be.

We wait, starving for moments of high magic to inspire us, but life is full of common enchantment waiting for our alchemist’s eye to notice.
– Jacob Nordby / Author, Speaker, Coach

We had a wonderful time visiting the kids in Atlanta.  My daughter is doing well, sprouting along in her 7th month of pregnancy.  My son-in-law is also doing well and like good husbands everywhere, has learned to let it slide when his wife’s hormones kick in and she snaps at him.  Her father also got snapped at and he too just backed away.

As for me, she complained about how uncomfortable she is, how bad her heartburn is, and how junior won’t stop kicking her, especially at night.  As nicely as I could, I turned around, put a pleasant look on my face and said, “payback’s a bitch”.  She was not amused.

I started some steps towards a job search before I left and spent today doing a great deal more.  I’m still not settled into a routine nor have I been nurturing my creativity.  But late last night I wanted a simple project, so I processed up a sleeping dog.  The Vizsla is getting so gray!  He turned ten years old this month, so there is a reason for all the gray.

I was looking for a quote to match the picture, when I found the one above.  One thing my blog is full of are ordinary moments in a day.  Dog pictures, the backyard, walking at the local botanical garden are all part of my portfolio.  I have some spectacular pictures too – Acadia National Park, Harper’s Ferry (West Virginia), Charleston (South Carolina).  But my life is limited by my job and my time.  If I don’t find enchantment right here where I’m at, my life will be small and miserable.  I love the high magic as much as anyone, but it’s not realistic nor is it something to be seeking.

I need to notice the enchantment that is around me right where I’m at.  I need to enjoy and appreciate my life, whether buying groceries with my husband or talking to a recruiter about possible job opportunities here in town.  What better way to enjoy the little things than to pet a sleeping dog, stroke those soft ears, and maybe even get a little grunt of contentment from him?

Life is good.

To see other photos of the Vizsla, click here.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Dogs Getting Fed

Dogs Getting Fed

It’s feeding time at the zoo, although the miniature pinscher is more intent on scratching himself than what’s happening at the sink with the food bowls!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your food as much as my boys do.  Do eat a little more slowly though and actually taste your food :)

Vizsla adjusted with Topaz Black and White

Fixing A Dog Photo

Vizsla adjusted with Topaz Black and White

Vizsla portrait adjusted with Topaz Black and White

As I was playing around with the 100mm macro lens that my favorite boy toy lent me, I took pictures of all kinds of things (you can see more of them here and here).  Because I was learning to use it, at one point I switched back to my regular zoom lens for comparison and in the process, took a picture of the Vizsla on the deck.  The lighting was all off, but when I reviewed it later, the composition was good and I decided to see if I could salvage it.

So here’s the original:


Original Vizsla head shot

Whatever I was metering from, the dog is too dark and the background is too light.  I should have changed over to spot metering and blown out the background.

Read More

Belly Laughs Help Everything

Laughter helps everything, including my creativity.  It takes me outside of myself, resets my mind, and makes me happier.

So to help you laugh, here are some old pictures of not one, but two – count them TWO – baby Vizslas.  The one with the red collar belonged to my daughter and was just a few months older than ours.  This is from the weekend she brought her Dad his new twelve-week-old puppy.  The two dogs played like crazy and as you can see in the picture where my favorite boy toy is getting licked, one puppy was so tired he fell over in his Daddy’s lap and went to sleep.

The right picture, second from the top, is my daughter’s Vizsla.  His face is considerably different than the puppy that was ours.  See yesterday’s post for a close-up of our puppy.  Click here to see our Vizsla over the last few years.

To see bigger pictures, double click on a picture to start a slide show.

To see everything I’m doing with my 31 Days of Nurturing My Creativity, click here.

To see what others are doing with their 31 Days project, click here.


Chaos Is Inevitable – Part 1

The beagle is three months old; the Vizsla is ten months old even though he looks full-grown

The beagle is three months old; the Vizsla is ten months old even though he looks full-grown

In chaos, all is possible. 
Every incoming idea is welcomed, with no regard for reality. 
Forget time, money or reason; embrace a brimming universe!
Because if you start with rules, your creation will be stillborn.
Philippe Petit in “Creativity: The Perfect Crime”

Along with the learning curve is the inevitable chaos that accompanies it.  It’s just not possible to start something – anything new – without there being a mess.

It’s not just photography or writing.  Over the years of working as an accountant, many of my projects were new from scratch.  There was no prior trail to follow.  I had to come up with a methodology from scratch, tame data, and make it presentable to a vice-president who had limited time and attention to devote to my problem.

The easiest way for me to do this is to just jump in and start.  I can spend time trying to plan it out, design my spreadsheet, and determine if the data available was adequate (and if not, what else could I get).  I’ve found though that pre-planning it didn’t shorten the process – actually, it made it take longer.  By pre-planning too extensively, I got locked into this had to work this way and no other way.  It didn’t give my mind the flexibility to change course and backtrack where needed.

So now, I just jump in.  I assess my data, start the spreadsheet, make changes, get more data if possible, change the spreadsheet again.  I might go back and redefine the parameters of the project because what was requested isn’t going to give the answers needed or the data is not obtainable or something better can / should be done instead.  Sometimes I’ll get halfway through before inspiration strikes and I start all over again with a better idea.

So why should my photography and writing be any different?  I didn’t wait for my blog to be perfect before I started it.  I picked a theme and went with it.  I blogged for several months before I realized I could change the header and put my own picture in it!  But if I’d waited for my blog to look gorgeous before I started blogging, I would have missed six months of getting experience putting together posts and photographs.

My blog today is considerably different as I’ve gained experience and found my voice.  I’ve learned to downsize my pictures, add tags and categories, and create links.  Click here to see one of my first posts – oh look, a baby beagle!   And he’s looking for a treat.  Gosh, what a surprise.  The beagle has since gone on to write some of his own posts, which can be found here.

So a reminder to myself in nurturing my creativity – jump in and try it.  Don’t wait for it to be perfect.  It might not even be right.  But I’ll learn better and faster if I just do it.  If I have to redo it later, that’s how it goes.

To see everything I’m doing with my 31 Days of Nurturing My Creativity, click here.

To see what others are doing with their 31 Days project, click here.


Cleaning The House Nurtured Me

A month ago (really?  a month already?) I posted about how much I hate chores.  However, after a certain point, a dirty / messy house drives me nuts too.

So today, to nurture my creativity, I used my time to wash bedding for us and the dogs, vacuum, clean the kitchen, pay bills, and do paperwork.  It wasn’t fun or glamorous, but my energy was really good.  That helped a lot and I resented it far less than usual.

I did have some playtime. . . sort of.  My favorite boy toy has extra camera equipment he either doesn’t use or doesn’t like anymore.  So he’s been digging things out for me to try and patiently answering questions despite some snippy attitudes on my part.

I tried out a different tripod as my cheap one doesn’t ever sit quite level and is easily knocked over, say if a dog were to run into it.  I tried two different heads on it – a regular ball head and a pan tilt, which has handles on it.  I thought I’d like the pan tilt better for its handles as the ball head is only adjusted by moving the camera itself and is pretty stiff (my boy toy never used this one).  But no, I think the ball head was actually easier to use.

I also tried out his macro lenses in these pictures.  The basil and fly were taken with a 100mm macro lens, the beagle with the 180mm macro.  Both lenses bring up an incredible amount of detail.  Since my boy toy isn’t using either one much anymore, I’m adding them to my camera bag until he wants to use them again.

So that’s how I nurtured my creativity today!  I tried some new equipment, got some lessons in using it, and cleaned the house so I can relax and work on my stuff without all the dog hair distracting me.

Did you ever notice when there’s too much dog hair around, it starts to swirl and clump like it’s trying to make another dog?  And how much hair can three dogs shed without being hairless?  Better yet, is there any limit to how much dirt they can track in?  The answer to that of course is NO.

To see everything I’m doing with my 31 Days of Nurturing My Creativity, click here.

To see what others are doing with their 31 Days project, click here.