The squirrel returns. Hey! It could be a movie. Squirrels gotta eat! This one came back to the feeder. He was caught in the rain. His coat and tail were soaked. The poor guy was about as frightened as could be when I confronted him. He was so fat from feeding that he had trouble escaping the cage. Off he ran. Good riddance? Nope he was back again a day or two later. It’s never done.
Ha ha, you might remember: Necessity is the mother of invention. But then, what do squirrels know? Look up youtube and you will see the mothers of all devices that attempt to prevent squirrels from eating at bird feeders. We got a feeder as a gift at Christmas. It took about a week for birds to discover it. That long?! A squirrel came by once and soon left. Ah! The cage works! Nah! Today the little rodent was inside the cage munching the snack mix. He’d already eaten the suet packages – one at a time on two consecutive days. I daresay he was so plump that he had difficulty escaping the bars when I confronted him directly. Just tapping my window pane drew only a sneer: come get me if you will. Now it’s full on war! Grease won’t work. Been there done that…
Hmmmm….aroused motivated cat?
So, we wandered through the animal display at the country fair. I’m not interested in chickens or rabbits. They are caged and you can’t get a good image. Whoa! Was I wrong! Thanks for dragging me in. Can you believe the images I got eyeball to eyeball with these chickens. And one even laid an egg for me. Hairy feet? Ok feathered feet? Crowing on demand? And the colors and the patterns. Oh my! I’m used to Perdue under plastic wrap. Too beautiful to eat… This was an extraordinarily wonderful unexpected find that I was dragged into seeing. Thanks!
No charm the second time around. I was last in Baxter State park in 2008. Near the end of the day I had the moose encounter of a lifetime. I was (my) nose to very big nose (moose). And it was awesome. I knew it was once in a lifetime then. Unfortunately, it has proven correct so far.
We tried once more. The views were spectacular. The closest I got was a moose sign as we left the park. But at almost the same time after we had just left the park… beaver! I stopped to shoot the setting sun over a marsh.
And in the water were two beavers just swimming about. They were unfazed by me or my camera. And voila! Beaver encounter. I realize that they were not particularly photogenic. But at least I had a real wild nature encounter with an animal not usually seen by me in the wild.
Lest anyone forget… (did you ever know)… I miss my ol’ dog. I’ve got cats now. I hate cats. Don’t laugh. I do love them. But, not as much as Nellie. I once told my kids I liked her better (than them). She was the screensaver pic on my phone… till I got a new love (human). Cats are grand. They don’t need to be walked and they are easy to care for. They (cats) don’t come when I whistle. Okay! There are pros and cons. I still love that ol’ dog! This is a young picture of Nellie. How do I know? I don’t. But she looks like a young dog in this picture. Not a puppy, but…
Don’t mention dogs. Now that I have seven cats, they remind me every day why I love cats. I think.
I found it curious that the gull sat on the sign. He let me take his picture. So, I did. It was a beautiful sunny day. I’m glad to see the gulls are following the rules.
Newly hatched – barn swallows. They made a nest of mud and straw and sticks against the eve over my garage door. Daily I would check upon them. They hatched. Of course they did. I continued to photograph the nest and the babies. Finally, I got a shot. Well, I got more than one. There were four hungry mouths. It’s awesome. I got a shot. I’d have liked a shot in flight. I got that done – sort of. The lighting was not great, hence the noise in the image. But hey! I got the open mouth view. It’s as good as you can do and still not be OCD. Happy! That’s me.
Flying? My best shot was with the iPhone. Not intentionally, but, I intended to message the image. And? Then I (nearly) couldn’t the image again because I don’t usually look to the phone for “keeper” images.
I searched everywhere for this image. I was sure I had taken it. I had briefly seen it after I took it. Nope! Nada! Couldn’t find it for beans. Darn! Hmmm?! Finally! It was on my iPhone. Who’d have guessed? I’m not an iPhone photographer. I use it mostly to document or to remind me. Yeah yeah, I know. It’s really a decent camera. Not me. I like a real camera. And I was photographing the new barn swallows with both – my camera and the iPhone. Ok, I was fooled. But I found it. Good shot. It’s darned hard to get a freeze action shot of birds flying. Believe me! I tried and tried. For a while I thought I had only imagined that I had this shot. Nope, it’s not old age, just too many images and too little time.
My cats like to curl up and sleep in our game boxes. Geez, the boxes are small. They don’t really fit. Why? It’s a puzzle to me. Ha ha, a game maybe. Anyway, I don’t have a ready image of the cats at hand. They also sleep in our baskets. Any available basket is fair game. I came across this slide of Nellie. She’s curled up in a Christmas box. Content. Oh! The top is why I thought of the title for this post. Contrived. Which? I miss that dog! But then there are seven crazy cats in my life now.
What do you do? What can I do? What did I/we do? The Pet Stop is where we get the cat food. It’s local and we try to support local business instead of the big box stores. The local pet rescue lady leaves cats for adoption. They wait right beside the door and this pair grabbed me just like the sisters did about a year ago. A pair of boys, bonded, and wanting to go home with me. They plead their case successfully. Oh boy! Oh my! Oh gosh! Yup! Just like the last time, Elle hissed, and now Feather hissed. They will have to get over it. The twins are staying. Yes, and so too will the rest of the merry band. The “boys” are mellow and just sniffed. They know their rations will not be cut. The kittens are still adjusting. I’ve never dealt with kittens. So this is new. I guess it’s my opportunity to imprint them properly. Can cats fly?
Ray – we named him after Mike (real name Ray) since he will feed when we are away. After all it helps to bribe the help you need.
Nibbles – he bites your hand gently…. no!! Nutley! This cat is simply nuts! Too numerous to count!
Yeah, with a face like this, who could resist? Just like the sisters – Spice and Feather, this pair started in the bathroom sink. They were there for a few days. Then they quickly assimilated into the routine of the house. Yeah! Seven and counting. I must be nuts. I am nuts. The antics are entertaining. And, like kids, you never have a moments peace. We have three sets of twins now.
We have a fence around the deck. There’s a staircase to the yard. The cats can walk between the stiles. One leapt to the railing and slid down the bannister to the ground below. That was hilarious. Free! Nope! Gotcha! I got him back and he (cat) never tried that stunt again. Meanwhile two of our adventurers were out and through the stiles earlier today. I almost missed the breakout. I watch. But like kids, they move fast and are stealthy. And they don’t shout, “Free!” I caught them. They were each at the bottom of the steps at one point. Dammit! They don’t understand that I would miss them. Chicken net! I had some in the garage. Stapler. Done. They discovered the change immediately. There were hurt looks all around. I will see them go over the fence. What’s next? Tunneling is out of the question. I feel like I’m watching the “Great Escape.” I’m trying for peace and serenity. The cats want to discover the “new world.” I’m a brain surgeon. Surely I can out maneuver a few cats.
Epilogue: There are new cats! Yeah, I havn’t gotten around to the new portraits… yet. Coming soon…. and one of the new kittens? Yup! Jailbreak! Leapt over the gate and down the stairs… not once… twice! Dammit! Rediscovering the wheel is tiresome! Like any good parent, you keep an eye on your book, and the other is on the cat about to go over the fence…
A pair of barn swallows built a nest beneath the eve of my garage. They were devilishly difficult to photograph. My best effort got their open mouths as mom flitted in for a brief moment. They did not appreciate my presence. I could only get a shot or two. Otherwise the parents stayed away. They were more patient than I. I gave up and left a good image for another day. The kids got to eat in peace.
Baby ospreys? There are a lot of nesting pairs along the road. They perch in high isolated nests. Traffic passes and they don’t seem to mind.
History? History – looking back. This was among my first efforts at Photoshop experimentation. There are experts who are light years beyond my expertise. I simply removed the bars of the fence. It’s not too good. But it is enough to fool the viewer (mostly). I’m lazy. These days I don’t do too much image manipulation. Mostly, what comes out of the camera is what I use and post. I have gotten a bit better at preprocessing my image. But, one must know what can be done. It’s part of the toolbox. It’s way better to point and shoot. My laziness comes from my dread of time spent processing in Photoshop. Lightroom? I will ‘develop’ as long as it takes for my attention to wane… not long at all. But then again… everyone has to edit and cull.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
What can I say? People who don’t like animals could care less. People who are allergic…or are dog people…. Me? I got the addiction a while ago. Mine? My cats? Our cats? Her cats?
Well, let’s just say we talk of our cats in lieu of kids around and about. Each cat has a personality. They lie about. Each has a spot. They jockey for positions. Each gives way if another comes along. They are curious. They hide. They have eating habits like my kids. Some eat at the table; others eat on the counter. They like different food. We have at least four varieties of dry food. No, they are not fussy. We just indulge them. I’d spoil my kids but that was done long ago. And they are far away now.
We have two sets of twins. So look as much as you like. They are pretty identical. I have a hard time distinguishing them. The cats get a lot of attention. We’re proud. Happily, we have held the line at five. But… I still look when we go to the pet store for food.
… and, don’t lick your fingers. Confused? Not yet. The cats have behaviors. Odd crazy things they do. It leaves us puzzled. It’s an olive wood cutting board (you don’t see the wood too much; that’s not the story). Today it was Feather and Patch fighting over the board. Each plopped on top of the board and proceeded to lick the board clean of “whatever?”
They awaited turns. Each “loved” that board, then wandered off ignoring it as a silent prop once again. Is it the wood? The olive? I rubbed more oil into the wood….
I’m told that cats have their “spots.” That would be a spot somewhere that they claim for their own and that they will fight off all “comers.” Patch was recently displaced from his beloved basket. He wanders like a “homeless” cat. He never complains. I sympathize. I’ve been a vagabond for the past decade. No more. It’s good to be “home.”
Elle loves the heater. It’s winter. She loves to be warm. It almost looks like she’s warming her paws. Oh yeah! And, the olive board still attracts. You’d have to be their mother to realize it’s Patch first then Willow up on the board. Trust me, mom knows who’s who. I know ‘cause I just took the picture and still remember who was there first.
What’s the best time to photo food? During prep? Before baking? After? When you cover your food and all you see is melted cheese, I think it’s hard to understand how great the pizza looks, but rather, you know from shared experience the taste that lies beneath the cheese. Sure!
Stuffed peppers? Same. I’ve been cooking. I always cooked, but never so much as now. Retirement leaves me with lots of time. Oh boy – gaining weight fast too. Edible art. Fun. No leftovers. No worries. And then there are my “ten percenters.” When I was between jobs back in 2006, I gained 10 lbs because every time I ate Nellie (dog) got ten percent of the meal. She’d eat anything but broccoli. And, so I started cooking a little more. Now my cats congregate on the dining table. They like pizza too, except, they draw the line at gluten free crust. It’s still a work in progress, ‘cause I think gluten free crust is bad s’t too.(Shhh… the gluten free (crust) is off to the side.)
Lastly, banana bread. It’s an inside joke. We’ve been watching the Great British Baking Show. The loaf has a glorious crack on the top! Go, honey!
Here’s a technical challenge. You don’t “stage” cats. They simply don’t pose. Ever! They sit. You get what you get. It’s an utter mess (in our house). They sit separately. They have messy backgrounds. They are not both in focus (at the same time). On and on, you get the idea. These are outtakes except that sometimes is superseded by the memory of what was “almost.” There are things Photoshop cannot help. You’d never see nuthin’ if I were to wait for the pic to happen.