Wednesday, March 26, 2014

spring is here?

Only five days left in March. It's such a long month, isn't it? 31 days. They say it's spring break this week, and the tourists prove it to be true. I heard it was snowing up north. Still. It was 55 degrees on my back porch this morning, and, I'm in south Florida. Go figure.

Around here, it's been busy. Still missing my dog though. It's been two weeks and one day, but if feels a lot longer.

cleaning closets and cabinets and sifting out some of the junk that's accumulated. Where DOES all this stuff come from? Can someone tell me that?

learning how to create documents using Photoshop instead of QuarkXPress.

designing a golf tournament brochure for my Soroptimist club;
it's the 20th year!

editing a database for the Pioneer Women of Fort Lauderdale to reflect their activity over the past five years; boy, was that tedious.

assembling the pieces for a scrapbook, which I'll share in another post.

making lists of my dolls in a feeble attempt to "thin out" my collection.

waiting for news of the Integrity Toys Convention in Orlando this year; they announced in February last year, so what's the holdup?

thinking about "Tea with Barbie" in July at Old Davie School.

taking lots of pictures at work related events ... and, it's not like taking "society" photos or portraits or landscapes either; it is an entirely different animal.

repotting plants to accommodate the new growth.

enjoying all the blooming in my garden!

waiting for spring ...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Saying "Goodbye" ...

Almost 24 hours ago, I said goodbye to my best friend, my terrier, Buddy. It was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do.

Buddy came to me from the Broward County Animal Control Center which is located next to the airport. I went there with a friend who was looking for a dog. He wanted a puppy, and it was in the midst of a batch of labrador puppies that my guy was discovered. There were eight puppies, all from the same litter, and they were all over the chain link fence gate that separated us and there was no room for the little terrier to get close. He sat for a couple of minutes as the puppies rushed the fence and when I clucked my tongue and said, "Hey, little guy!" he stood on his hind legs and did a perfect pirouette.

There went my heart.

I said, "That one. He's coming home with me."

And, he did.

That was in 2003.
Animal Control said he had been found wandering in Lauderhill. He was one day away from euthanasia. I paid the 60 bucks to have him neutered and tattooed and the next day I picked him up and brought him home with me.

I don't know who owned him before me, but whoever it was, they trained him exceedingly well. I would soon learn that he responded to hand signals. Sit. Stay. Come. Down. Fetch. Twirl. There was nothing this dog wouldn't do if you gave him the right hand signal. And, he was totally a lap dog. He loved to be in my lap or, if I was on the sofa stretched out, between my legs. He slept with me, he followed me wherever I went and for several years, it was just the two of us.

I did eventually marry again and my darling husband has stories about Buddy that he could share. About how he loved beer. And, cat food. And, playing ball. He would run himself ragged fetching that tennis ball, no matter how many times you threw it. He loved to play.

He also liked to lay in the grass in the sunshine. As he aged, that became one of his favorite pastimes.

He began losing his vision about two years ago. We began to notice a change in his behavior and the vet confirmed that he was going blind. I did learn through the vet and various internet sources that dogs adapt to blindness when they lose their sight gradually. Sudden blindness, as in the case of our friend, Hallie, is a different story, although, Hallie has done well thanks to her wonderful mom!

My heart is broken and I have been surprised at the grief I feel. It washes over me in waves and the tears flow. I can't seem to stop it. It passes, but, I think it's going to be a while before I feel normal again.

I read "A Dog's Purpose" after I read "The Art of Racing in the Rain." I learned one thing from both books. When a dog loves you, he loves YOU just as you are and his sole purpose in life is to be there for you. There's no greater gift than that.

Now I truly understand why they call them "man's best friend." I'm sure going to miss mine ...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Photography 102

I love my camera. I have a Nikon D80 with an AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm zoom lens. The camera was a birthday gift in 2011 and the lens followed on my birthday in 2012. It's taken me ever since then to master the basics. (And, I use the word "master" very loosely here!)

I think I look at as many photos as I shoot. I've been on flickr for years and I have a daily routine that includes at least ten or fifteen minutes browsing doll photos and professional photographer's pics on flickr. It was actually on flickr that I discovered "depth of field." I had figured out how to do it with my camera on the "AUTO" setting, but I didn't know what it was called. This photo of Poppy Parker, shot in my backyard, is what it looks like ...

Recently I have been exploring "Exposure Compensation." Some days I think I understand it and other days, not so much.  With many dSLR cameras, exposure can be adjusted by changing either the lens f-stop or the exposure time; which one is changed usually depends on the camera's exposure mode. The setting I've been messing around with is called "aperture priority." This is a setting on some cameras that allows the user to choose a specific aperture value while the camera selects a shutter speed to match.  I didn't know what aperture was, so I looked it up on Wikipedia where it defines aperture as a hole or an opening through which light travels

My biggest issue has been eliminating the flash for shots where I know there is adequate light. I detest the ugly shadow from the flash. The "aperture priority" setting is the one that allowed me to shoot this stack of books and blur the ones in the distance while being clearly focused on the stack in the foreground. And, no shadow!

While I was goofing around, my cat took up a spot on the table next to me, so I started focusing on her. I fired off four shots and was so pleased to see them turn out well, with that depth of field I so love! And, no shadow from the flash, no red eye!

What's important is WHERE you focus the camera. That's the trick I'm trying to master. You have to be aware of the light conditions, too, because when shooting "aperture priority," the camera chooses the shutter speed. Which creates another issue; if the shutter speed is slow because there's not enough light and you're not using a tripod, you'll have camera shake show up in your pictures. One more thing to worry about!

Finally, I gave the setting a whirl while we were out and about and I got what I think is a really good shot of bees on a sunflower. No tripod. No flash. Lots of outdoor light.

Odds are I will never figure all of it out. These dSLR cameras do so many things! But, I'm learning one thing at a time until I've learned it really well. For now, "aperture priority" is my thing!