Word and Image

Animal

Hairy cats

Mine are long haired and presumably Maine coon. Spice on the left is full of tangles. She’s not good at grooming. I have to cut away the tangles periodically. She hates me for it. Feather got an allergy. We don’t know the source. She gradually lost all the hair on her belly. The vet gave us steroids. They work. I don’t want her steroid dependent. Ha! But I gave up and started on the drugs again. Her belly looks so much better now. I’ll let Feather heal up and then we’ll see whether we continue. I suppose I shouldn’t treat my own cat. But, hey! It was $80 for the first visit to tell me we don’t know what and it’s an unknown allergen. The pills were less than $10 when I wrote the prescription. Does it qualify as treating your own family?

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Washed up

I’ve been processing raw fleece, the kind just fresh off the sheep. ? These pictures are ones only a spinner or weaver would really appreciate. Well, the process begins with pasture and feeding. If your sheep lies in straw, there will be lots of shit and straw and bits in the fleece. Have you noticed that wool is very curly stuff. Imagine the tangles you have without cream rinse in your hair? Some folks raise their sheep in grass and there’s nothing (debris) in the wool. Even better, keep your sheep in a coat. Then there’s little extraneous stuff at all. As you can imagine the price rises with each step of caution. Some fleece will sell upwards of $20 per pound. A finished spun ounce ready to knit or weave can cost around $8 and up. If you lose 50% of a fleece to waste, you are still ahead of the game. It’s all complicated in the processing. I won’t bore you. If you have read to this point, keep in mind that there is a lot of washing and that there is much that can go wrong to ruin an entire batch. Just skip ahead and use the end product.

In many ways it’s like photography. You can press the button and press “print” and you are all done. Don’t bother with the process. I started “cheap” and “on a severe  budget.” Load your own film, develop your own film, and print your own images. Black and white, and later, color, it’s economical. Or you can look at it that you controlled your own process. The big driver for me was the $.

The fleece you see starts as locks. You know, Goldilocks. And it needs to be separated, cleaned, and washed. This stuff was a dream. It washed up pure white and fluffy as a cloud. Amazing stuff!! I’ve been washing a lot of fleece lately. It’s got a lot of lanolin. It’s got lots of “bits.” This stuff washed up like a dream. Lucky! Funny, it wasn’t that expensive to purchase. Lucky again! Trust me, we felted, and tossed out lots of other fleece. That’s built-in waste. When you get stuff this good and easy, it’s so tempting to turn to going the easy path. Nope, I’m still cleaning. No more film, no more darkroom, I’m processing fleece by hand. There’s satisfaction in it. If you read all the way to the end – congratulations, you know how to process a fleece. Otherwise, just go to the store and get your stuff off the rack. We do both now. Options are good.


Graphic

You take pictures of cats? Same principle – sheep. Eyes, it’s in the eyes. Focus. I’m tying up loose ends here. I just readjusted my DSLR camera to focus as I would like it to be. And it was largely more successful. These days I am so used to the point and shoot cameras that I don’t look in the view finder as much. It’s not laziness. I’ve gotten used to holding the camera at the level of my subject. This means that instead of bending I simply hold the camera lower and press the shutter. In a pen, this means I can get closer to the sheep without climbing in. if you recall, everything is related. Only the subjects change. The technique crosses over. So, I have been asked, how many pictures of sheep do I need. I’ve got one already. It’s like why I go to the movies. I’ve seen one already?


At least it’s not fish

No, I’m not OCD. Am I? No matter. Here’s something you don’t see every day: Spinning in the park. Or, bobbin lace. It’s a craft not in much popularity. It’s intricate and fascinating. The artist said take all the pictures you want, just none of me. The sheep are trimmed and groomed for show. Why? The fleece is reduced to short fiber. The sheep sure look better. But then again maybe I forgot, they are destined to be eaten. Lamb burger? Gyro?


Sheeps

They’re cute. I think they are cute if you are sheep yourself. Otherwise, one looks the same to me as another. Except – I can tell you that the sheep with a haircut to its neck is a blue faced Leicester. Imagine that! They come that way – no wool on their head to the neck. At least I can recognize one! Ha ha, someone I know also thought a sheep was a sheep and that there was just one sheep. I have come to know that you have long and short hair, coarse and fine hair, and clean (coated) or dirty (uncoated). Yes, they really do keep the sheep covered in coats. They are pretty messy if they sleep in grass, straw, and dirt. I look at a sheep and see all the stuff (straw, dirt, shit) in the fleece and dream about cleaning (picking) it. Cute? Well, if you are the end user – scarf, sweater, blanket – well, yeah! Otherwise I can now appreciate why they can sell stuff for so much.


Geese

When do you see geese on a rooftop? It was unusual for us to comment. Backlit, I wasn’t getting a good shot. But there is the benefit of having one goose open his mouth and lift his leg. That at least added some interest. But, the original question remains. Why were they on the rooftop? The one on the left honked and his companion landed beside him. They flew off a few moments later. It was a nice little rendezvous.


Cow Cats

I plant tall ornamental grass in containers. The cats think it’s just for them. They eat it. I guess they need roughage. Chomp! They can’t seem to get enough. I’ve got newly mown grass. Ha! They won’t eat the chives. There is catnip. Nope. It’s the tall grass or nothin’

Red grass, green grass, no matter. They make me laugh. I shall depend upon something else to be the focal point in my containers. I’m so pleased they like my garden.


Focus – II

Okay! So, read your manual. Or my manual. Duh! Don’t laugh. I neglected to do so. I was lazy and haven’t refreshed myself since I got the camera. Digital is like a computer. You can unlock a lot of secrets by reading the built-in tricks in the software. Geez! I did some hand wringing recently. My images were not in sharp focus. So, after some adjustment I think I’ve got the problem less worse. I shot a bunch of tests. There were still a high percentage of duds. But I was trying to test the camera. Nikon D610. It’s spiffy and I am supposed to be able to make it do what I want. To that degree, it does. I’ve been shooting way more with my point and shoot Canon G7 so I got out of the habit of looking in a viewfinder.

I have an array of cameras at hand. The iPhone is always in my pocket. A point and shoot G7 goes with me wherever. The big Nikon and it’s big glass is available. The happy medium? I don’t like the tiny iPhone lens. Yes, it’s good but not as much as my Canon point and shoot. I have a smaller Canon S100 too. And a Canon G12. But I prefer the larger lens and image size on the G7. Underwater photography convinced me of the merit of a point and shoot over the potential for heart breaking loss of a big rig DSLR. Bottom line: My point and shoot Canon G7 is about 90% of my shooting these days. TMI!


Focus

It’s in the eyes. You focus on the eyes. That is the heart of the image. You knew that. Right? I’ve lately been having trouble with my trusty Nikon D610. Hey, it’s four years old now. I don’t even know what their latest greatest (new model) is. I no longer have camera envy. But, I do want good images. I’ve been having focus problems for a while Well, I dropped it to the sidewalk in 2016. It’s hasn’t been right since it came back from repair. User error! Me. I finally sat down with the manual again today. Yeah, yeah, I actually read the instructions again. Don’t laugh. Don’t tell. And I think I’ve figured it all out again. I wanted closest focus done automatically. I want to just compose and shoot. Unfortunately, I also want to place the main subject off-center in the image. This does not always comply with what the camera is doing. I’m go… and the camera is still deciding what to do. I get shots. But I would like a higher percentage of success. I read the manual, I made my adjustments, and now I’m holding my breath.

Speaking of instructions – did I tell you this one? We got Jules an Easy Bake Oven for her birthday – many many years (decades) ago. My brothers happily got to work and assembled it. There were two leftover screws (that went somewhere) when they were done. Not extra screws! I saw them toss the screws into the oven. Fine by me. We’d find out where the screws went later. It’s a guy thinking here. No! No! The wife/mother tossed the screws in the trash. I witnessed that too. Why didn’t I act? And we eventually found the place the screws were missing. And that oven rattled forever more till we threw the thing out. Let that be a lesson!? Read the manual?


Tight fit

We’ve been rearranging things. I stacked stuff on the top of the cabinet. Cats are curious. Ha! Elle decided to get in and amongst the glass and picture frames. She managed to step around everything and not knock anything over. Luckily she doesn’t swing her tail like the boys. Yup, luck for me too.