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Archive for October, 2007

A typical early morning at Carpenter Creek

It was dark, it was wet, and it was too early.  City Boy had just left the bed and I could hear the shower running in the master bath.  This was Bounder’s signal to take up what he felt was rightfully his space alongside me.  Bounder was the German Shorthair I’d picked up at the pound.  At first I’d thought he was a blue tick hound, because rather than the typical chocolate of a pointer, he was blue.  Plus, he had a tail.

As I said, Bounder believed his place was snuggled up next to me in bed.  Not on top of the blankets, either, but right alongside me, under the quilt with his head on the pillow.  And this is where he was each morning at 5:30 am when City Boy exited the shower and headed for work.  Often times he was snoring in my ear.

This wouldn’t have been a bad arrangement, really, as he wasn’t a tosser or turner, nor hogger of the covers while in bed.  He’d snuggle on down and fall right to sleep, and had he stayed that way I’d have been quite comfortable until the sun came up.  But this was not to be.  For every morning, ten minutes after City Boy pulled out of the driveway, Bounder realized that he had been left in charge of my well being and immediately was on guard.  It was now 5:40 am.

In his zeal, he’d stand with his legs straddling my face, head lowered and looking out the window which was at the head of the bed.  And he’d growl, for he was certain there was something lurking out there in the shadows.  A low, menacing growl that eventually grew into a bark, and then he’d jump off the bed and go into full blown alarm at the door.  Before he woke up the kids, I’d have to climb out of bed, slip into my rubber boots and barn coat, and take Bounder outside where we’d patrol the perimeter of the property until he was certain there were no intruders.

Happy that there was no imminent danger, Bounder now insisted on dragging me out to the end of the driveway, me stumbling along still half asleep and in danger of falling face first into the mud puddles.  The rain was cold this particular winter morning, feeling like shards of ice hitting my face.  Bounder’s nose was to the ground as he pulled me along behind him, searching for the perfect place to poop.  Aside from deterring invisible danger, pooping was Bounder’s specialty.

We headed out onto the road and away from the house.  Now it was my turn to be nervous.  I didn’t know why, but walking away from the light and traveling further into the shadows where I had a hard time seeing more than ten feet in front of me wasn’t very comforting.  Bounder, however, didn’t seem to mind.  100 feet, 150 feet, 200 feet into the darkness he pulled me.  I could hear the wind in the tree tops, the creek rushing through the culvert ahead.  But there was little for me to see.  I couldn’t see across the ditch into my own pasture.  A chill ran up my spine as I looked nervously around.

Finding the perfect place wasn’t easy this particular morning and Bounder wasn’t willing to turn around and go home.  I, however, was refusing to go any farther into the black.  I pulled him to the other side of the road in hopes of him finding the perfect spot on our way back towards the house.

Here…kitty, kitty! 

It was foggy…I was now walking on the side of the road which was completely treed…no homes, no lights.  Nothing.   I could see the light in our driveway a few hundred feet away and wished I were closer.  My eyes flickered off to my left, scanning what little I could see.  There’d been cougar sightings over the summer and I wasn’t having fun.

And that’s when I spotted it.  Ahead, about twenty feet, was a light.  Not electric, like the kind you have on your porch.  No, this was small, like a reflection…a very small reflection.  It didn’t flicker, it didn’t move.  It just…stared.

The hair on the back of my neck was standing up.  I told myself to stop scaring myself, after all, Bounder wasn’t worried.  It was probably just a reflection from some bit of light somewhere.  Unfortunately, my brain had begun to wake up and I realized that there was no light behind me, thus making this little bit of light ahead of me not a reflection.   I wanted to cross the road back to my own side, but wouldn’t you know this is where Bounder found the perfect spot?  And there’s no rushing Bounder…

So I stood there, rooted while my dog took care of his business not 20 feet from an unblinking eye that was staring straight at me.  It was across the ditch.  My mind scrambled for an explanation…reflector?  No, it wasn’t on the telephone pole, it was in the trees.  Never mind that I’d already reasoned that there was no light behind me to be shining there.  No, this was not a reflector,  but something else.  Something yellow, something ten feet in the air an in the trees…and staring at me!

Bounder at this point had finished.  He wasn’t at all alarmed by the golden eye, but I have him the biggest yank on his collar that he’d even felt as I bolted across the road and into my driveway.  I don’t think I’ve ever moved so fast, either before or since!  Bounder bounded alongside me and together we flew into the house, out of breath but safe from whatever had been lurking out in the trees.

Later in the day I returned to the place that had been the source of my terror, hoping to find some reasonable explanation…but there was none to be found.  Whatever it had been, it most definitely was not a reflection.  No, the only reasonable explanation was no explanation at all…something had been watching me from the woods, something with one golden, glowing eye about ten feet high…and the branches of the trees were too small to support an owl or raccoon…

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I don’t think I’d like to get a photo as good as this.  Mostly because it would mean people were losing everything.  Plus it would be hot, and I don’t do hot.

I was visiting Strawberry Lane (aka Simply Marvelous) and she’d posted these most incredible photographs.  Can you feel the heat?  Smell the smoke?  Frightening.

You may recall my mentioning my dear grandmother; she married her high school sweetheart a few years  back and his home was in Escondido.  The last big fire that moved through had her pretty frightened.  They’d spend their winters there, summers here, but after that?  Grandma said she’d rather suffer the cold.  And who can blame her?

Horse owners got creative.  Many turned their animals loose, but not before making sure they could call home once they found a safe haven.  Smart move!

I received an email the other day from Kate at Wild Horse Ranch.  She’s putting together a drive to get some hay for those horses who’ve been affected by the fires.  Here’s what she’s sent out:

We have an opportunity to get about 48,000 lbs of hay delivered to
San Diego county and it will work out to be about $7.00 per bale.

We are raising funds for the shipping costs. Donations will be tax
deductible.

If you’re interested in donating(and ANY amount WILL help) please
email me directly @ OnlyMustangs4Me@aol.com or give me a call.
661-264-3220

If you can give her a hand, that’d be great.  Please pass the information along.

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Seems like that was the question of the day yesterday.  Not that people were banging down my door to ask me, but hey, what can I say?  I’m a mind reader…I know y’all are just dying to know how I made that black background, even if you didn’t know you wanted to know.

First off, I use Photoshop 7.  There are several versions, from what I understand.  I know nothing about any of them, just that this is the one I’ve got.

The first thing I do is figure out which photo I want to use.  I follow all the steps, wear myself out completely, then decide I don’t like it, erase it, then start all over again.  If you’ like to skip this first part, and I’d advise it, feel free to jump right into the one you’d like to keep and do it right the first time.

I’ve actually done the layering thing many times with my photos, especially the wild horse photos.  For example:

 

 

This photo of the south end of mustangs traveling north became…

 

 

….a lone pinto trotting into a stormy landscape…

 

…and this morning he trotted into the night…

But how?  Well, I told once before about how to move photos from one picture into another.  You know, a cut and paste deal.   I took photos of The Ghost Horse and made him walk on water.  That would be pretty much the same thing I did in the center photo here with the pinto; just moved my subject onto a different background.

This is very similar.  Bring up your photo and make a copy of it (you don’t want to work on your original…you want to be sure you’ve got one saved in it’s original form.)  From the layers menu, make a layer of your picture.  Click on the eye alongside the new (top) layer.  This makes that layer invisible (but since both layers are the same at this point, you won’t be able to tell.)

 

Layers menu; note the eye. 

 Now go over to the right side of your screen to the tool bar menu.  Select a paint color.  Now go up and get the paint bucket (located between some lollipop thing and a paint brush.)  Click your paint can, then come back to your photos and dump your paint out.  Your photo should now be the color you just selected.

Click the eye on that duplicate layer to the right and your photo should show up.  You’re going to erase whatever you don’t want to have showing by clicking the eraser on the tool bar (back to the left side of your screen.)  As you erase, the paint color you chose will begin showing up.

Oh…I might tell you that the tool bar menu is on the left side of my computer today, but it may be on right side of your’s.  I don’t know where you keep things.  Just be sure you make a copy of your photo before beginning so if you totally screw it up you haven’t lost anything but time.  I loose time around here everyday.  When City Boy comes home from work he’s always wondering what I’ve done and I have to say, “I just don’t know…the time got away from me!”

Let me know if this works for you.  I want to see your results; I’m sure your’s will be far better than mine!

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Back away from the photoshop, Mom, and no one will get hurt…

Yesterday someone popped into one of my older posts and I responded with an email.  That email then led me to her website and her photos on Flickr.

OH

MY

WORD!

They were wonderful.  The subject matter being that which is close to my heart, horses, there was one in particular that stood out.  It was of her Jasper, a two year old gelding that she’s working with.  He seems very much like my Sunny in many respects from what I read on her blog.  Oh, yes, please do go visit.

I pulled up one of her photos and decided to give it a try.  The technique, that is.  It was Jasper, but he was coming out of a black background.  Like a black mist, almost, and he was so shiny and magnificent looking…  So I pulled out a photo of Sunny and began to work.

Darling passed behind me and exclaimed, “Oh, I like that!”  I was about to say thank you, when she continued, “Um, not Sunny, but the other one…”  Gee, never mind the thank you.

“Oh, are you trying to do the same thing?”  Yeah!  Kid catches on quick…I must be getting close…”Good luck with that.”

At that point Darling left the room and I must admit I was happy to see her go.  Refusing to give up, I decided that I needed a different photo.  Sunny’s bright, coppery color didn’t lend itself well to this velvety fog.  Or perhaps it was just my 9lack of) skill.  So I pulled up the appy mare and foal pic that you saw the other day and gave it another go.  Not quite as nice as Jasper’s photo, but I’m happy enough with it.  At least tonight.  Tomorrow I may be embarrassed that I ever posted it here!

 

 

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Say Cheese! 

 

I do not profess to be a great photographer.  Sure, I enjoy my time behind the lens, but I’m not great at it.  Photoshop is my best friend.

I’m also not the best at judging other people’s work.  I tend to let my personal likes and dislikes get in the way.  I mean…subject matter tends to peak my interest more than the quality of work.

That said, someone sent a link today asking for folks to vote for their friend’s photo.  She’d entered into one of those online contests.  I clicked the link and found a somewhat fuzzy photo of a couple of horses.  Your run of the mill disposable camera snapshot. I cringed, then began cruising through the other photos and realized what an excellent shot it actually was! Which leads me to this:

The Desperate Horsewife’s Ten rules for entering  Online Photo Contests. 

1)  Try to have your photo right side up.  It’s the little details like this that count.

2) Yes, your baby is darling.  So is the next person’s baby, an the next person’s, and the next…at least to you.  Personally?  I think it looks like a squished up raisin.  It looks just like the next squished up raisin that was entered.  And they’re both blurry.  Next time why not enter something a little more special…photographically speaking.

3)  It’s helpful if your flash isn’t reflected in the window when you’re trying to take that amazing sunset shot.

4)  If you’re going to label your photo ‘Squirrel’, don’t you think we ought to be able to see the squirrel?

5)  That picture of your dog?  Doing what he’s doing to that person’s leg?  You shouldn’t have.  Really.

6)  Maybe it would be good if it were actually your photo entered and not one done at a studio?

7) Why is that cat wearing a party hat?  Were you drunk when you took it?  Because it’s blurry… What?  It’s your wife?  I’m so sorry…

8)  Auto focus is your friend…trust me.

9)  Do you think maybe you should have had your subject’s head in the photo?

10) Do not send in photos of your half dressed significant other.  You may find the beer belly charming, hanging the way it does over the top of his swim trunks, but the rest of us could do without that image in our minds the rest of the day.

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Dwight Storm

Riddler, a Kiger Mustang we saw while on vacation in April 

Darling has said if when she gets another mustang she will name it Dwight Storm.  Why?  I don’t even have a clue.  Some silly song where the horse was called Dwight, and Darling suddenly screams out, “Dwight Storm!”  I’ve really given up trying to figure that girl out.

In a few weeks there’s going to be a big adoption event down in Oregon at the Wild Horse Corrals.  Big may be an understatement.  We’re used to seeing a hundred or two folks show up to the local events.  They pale in comparison to the one coming up.  Why?  Because the Kigers have been rounded up and are once again available.  And thousands of people from all over the country fly in for the event.  I was asked to come and sell my wares, a table had been set aside for me even.  And I’d sure love to go…

A group of Kiger yearlings will be adopted out Nov. 10. 

Kiger Mustangs are a breed apart.  Thought to be one of the most pure strains of Spanish mustangs existing in the wild today, direct descendants of the Spanish Barb, the horses brought over by Spanish Conquistadors.  They were ‘discovered’, if you will, in 1971 when a BLM employee spotted a herd that exhibited similar characteristics.  While most herds are groups of horses that have escaped or been turned loose, saddle horses, ranch horses and cavalry mounts, these horses were definitely different.  DNA testing showed them to have high levels of Spanish markers, linking them to the explorers of the 1600s.

Because of their uniqueness, the BLM decided to manage the herd and preserve it.  They turned out twenty of these horses into the Kiger Herd Management Area and seven into the Riddle Mountain HMA.  Now, over 30 years later, these two herds of Kiger horses are thriving.  There is a round up held approximately every four years where these horses can be adopted.  The last time there was a Kiger adoption, one filly sold for a record $19,000!

 

This beautiful blue color is called Grulla (the double ‘l’ makes a ‘y’ sound.) 

While Darling and I were perusing the BLM website last night and I was drooling over Kigers, Darling suddenly screams in my ear, “Dwight Storm!  There’s Dwight Storm!”  My ear is still ringing this morning.  At first I wasn’t sure what Darling was talking about.  I mean, I knew she wanted to name a horse Dwight, but not a Kiger…and then I  spotted it.  Spotted being the key word.  Darling wants an Appaloosa, not a Kiger.  And there it was… Darling’s Dwight Storm.

I’m not sure a mare is going to enjoy being called Dwight, Darling… 

Unfortunately for Darling, she’ll just have to wait, as I cannot afford to have a horse hauled home from Oregon.  She sure is pretty, though, isn’t she?  That striking gray mane and those red spots?  She’d be the ultimate Christmas present, no doubt about it!  Sorry, Darling…you’ll just have to settle for the photo.  I’m sure another Dwight Storm will come along…

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I must be famous.  Really.  I didn’t  know that until yesterday, however, when suddenly things began happening.

First, the divider went up between the stalls in the barn.  Then, the first window appeared! A beautiful window, too.  And just look at the views!  I’m sure my horses will be appreciative.

City Boy cut the hole, put some white framing around it, and has plans for the channeling (is that what it’s called?) and plexi-glass windows.  The window is on wheels and will have a handle on the outside that allows me to roll it open then drop hay inside the stall without ever having to battle off horses while walking through paddocks to get to the mangers.  This makes me happy, because although my girls are pretty good, you never know when you’ll have a horse who’s food aggressive and will take off your arm in his haste to get to the hay.

Name it and win! 

And then last night?  Well, I was sitting there fresh from my evening bubble bath when what should appear but a cup of sinfully delicious hot chocolate, complete with real whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top!

Photo by Darling…  What, you think I was going to let go of that mug?

So you see, I must be famous!   Too bad I didn’t ask for my own private masseuse, eh?

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