my lens

I enjoy taking pictures for the blog. I keep trying to up my skills, but that requires donning bifocals and reading and studying about my camera. ISO, aperture, shutter speed, white balance and focus mush my brain into a slimy swamp.

Recently, I acquired a ‘new-to-me’ lens. Bought it used from local photographer extraordinairePam Lary. In case you are interested, this beast of a lens is the Nikon AF-S VR-Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8G. It’s heavy as an anvil and as long as a submarine sandwich. Big enough to keep my chiropractor in business for years.

I’ve been trying it out. Learning. Making mistakes. When I whip it out, people automatically assume I know what I’m doing. Lens envy, I guess.

It’s fun to put the camera in aperture mode (‘A’ on the dial for most DSLR’s) and shoot with the aperture wide open. In this case, 2.8.

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mmmm…..creamy background. This photo inspires me to paint a room this mossy green and use purple as an accent color. Amazing color combo.

A gorgeous, milky background makes the subject of the photo really ‘pop’

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Look at the gray hairs on her muzzle. She’s showing her age. Have I told you we can no longer play tennis ball? It aggravates her back.
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My sweet wiener girl. Since we can’t play tennis ball, we have to play ‘rock’ instead. Less running and more digging.

Do you like the fuzzy backgrounds for these portraits? The learned call this ‘bokeh’.

Here’s another wide-open shot.

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Baby H swaddled in a fish curtain at the cabin. I knew those old curtains would come in handy one day! There’s a stack of games in the background. Can you make out the names? Scattergories? Clue? Boggle?

One more blurry background for your consideration.

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Ground squirrels or ‘chipmunks’.

Do you know what instinct these rodents trigger in my dachshund?

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The most natural state of a badger dog.

Another handy setting on the camera is the shutter-priority mode ( ‘S’ on the dial of most digital cameras).

I use this setting when I need a certain shutter speed to capture the action.

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The wily Rufous hummer.

Have I told you I am compulsively trying to get the perfect hummingbird photo? Been at it for 3 years. I know I need a fast shutter speed to catch them, but man, are they difficult to photograph!

I suspect I have neither the skill nor the proper equipment to get a truly great shot.

indexI won’t stop trying.

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The Rufous jealously protecting his feeder. Catching these buggers in flight is like trying to photograph a mosquito. Sorry….I had to catch him through the wire-mesh fence.

Well, that’s the A and the S mode for you and how they look through my new lens.

At times I just point the camera and shoot on auto. Maybe I’ll get lucky.

catThat’s why I enjoy photography. It makes you LOOK. You never know what you’ll find lurking in the weeds.

Hope your week is coming into clearer focus.

Big lens love to all.

keeper of the plains

I need to quit watching/listening to the news. I can never unsee Geraldo Rivera’s preening selfie, the drama of Weiner’s wiener, and the over-publicized outcome of a very high-profile trial. Geez…..and it’s only Wednesday.

I need some eye/mind bleach.

Thanks to Sprout #1 filling my email inbox with these photos, I have the perfect mind-scrubbing solution.

This is an update to my wild things post.

Let’s see what the beasts in northern New Mexico have been up to, shall we?

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They’ve been staying up past bed time.
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They enjoy 2 for 1 drinks during happy hour. They even bring the young’uns.
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They munch on hors d’oeuvres while having their drivers license photo snapped.
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They display their massive racks. Who has the most points? Very attractive to the ladies.
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Regrettably, they find themselves still at the bar in the wee morning hours mustering the courage to ask the foxy bear for a date.
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The ruins of the old home in the ‘doctor’ pasture. Is this the ‘doctor’s’ house?
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Bear’s turn at the water tank. Look at the 2 cubs! Do I hear an ‘awww’?
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I wouldn’t want to accidentally stumble across this mama. Mama bears are fierce.
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These buddies are enjoying a snack and relaxing.
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Couldn’t resist cropping this. Wanted to get a better look at that massive back paw. Look at the size of that thing!
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Enjoying some salt.
Exercise extreme caution. This beast can rip off a finger while lunging for a biscuit.

Observing the rhythm of the animal kingdom here on the prairie never fails to inspire. Is that a spark of the divine I see in them? What sort of creator made these magnificent animals? Perhaps they point to the ‘keeper of the plains’.

I’m closing with this Rich Mullins‘ video. Rich was a Christian artist who passed away in a car accident in 1997. Such a loss….I still miss his heartfelt music. I think this song perfectly captures the majesty of the keeper of the plains. You won’t regret listening to it. Promise.

The prairies are calling out His name. Are we listening?

Love to you, divine creature.

north pole

The North Pole? In July?

Precisely, chicken-wingers!

The entrance to the North Pole.
The entrance to the North Pole.

When our Sprouts were just tender sprigs, every summer involved a trip to the North Pole. It’s just about 30 minutes from our beloved mountain hideaway. The North Pole sits at the base of the Pike’s Peak highway. We haven’t been in at least 20 years now. Time for grand baby G to experience the excitement.

Even the most dedicated fisherman needs to take an amusement park break.
Even the most dedicated fisherman needs to take an amusement park break.

We arrive promptly at opening…10am. How much fun can we have before nap time??

There are cars to drive.

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And waters to navigate. G is the Skipper. His friend, the lovely Miss M, is the first mate. (Many thanks, M!!)

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airPLANE!! airPLANE!!

Granny KK lugged around a lens on her camera only a tiny tad smaller than the plane in the above photo. I rented a stroller just for the camera. One proud dad (happily snapping photos with his cell phone) took a long look at me….shook his head in shame and sulked away. The humiliation of being ‘one-upped’ by an over-zealous grandma. I feel your pain, buddy. Next time…..come prepared.

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The frozen pole in the center of the park. Do you think Baby H will remember being there?

Memories are rich and vivid. Sometimes the ‘real thing’ stinks and is never as good as you remember it.

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Big kids on ‘highest Ferris wheel in North America’.

Ohhhhh, but not this time.

Sprout #2: ‘How are you liking this, Mom? As good as you remember it?’

Me: ‘Where else can I be greeted by Santa, eat a warm funnel cake and absorb frothy (not annoying!) Christmas tunes gayly playing in the background? I can even mail a letter with a postmark from the North Pole! I think I’m in heaven.

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You’d have a delirious expression too, if this was your first experience driving a real race car!

If you ever find your fine self in the Pike’s Peak area, and if you have children ages 2 through 9, you must visit the North Pole. Cute. Quaint. Simply tons of fun for the price.

Now, I will show you my favorite photo. The masterpiece worth all of the sore neck vertebrae. Do not look if you are allergic to cuteness.

You’ve been warned.

Behold.

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G enjoying the horse.

Thank you for reading and letting me whip my grand kid photo album out of my over-stuffed handbag. I didn’t even see you yawn.

Did I?

Here’s to Christmas in July!

St. Nick love to all.

better than wine

Well…..almost.

The following list contains things/products making my life complete right now. Any of these necessary for you??

1. Over-the-counter pain relievers.

2. Pinot Noir.

3. Miralax.

4. Any wine with the word Bogle on the label.

5. Sleep aids. Am a big fan of 1/2 an Ambien. A wee bit of valium works wonders, as well. Don’t have these prescriptions very often, so I make do with Advil PM, Unisom, Nytol, melatonin, Alteril…..I’ve tried them ALL. Funny…..I’ve never needed a drug aid to make me feel up.

6. Merlot.

7. A functioning ceiling fan to fall asleep (or stay awake…see #5) under.

8. Pinot Grigio.

9. Amazing Concealer.

10. Cabernet.

11. A gifted hair colorist/stylist specializing in gingers.

12. An effective hormone replacement plan (see #7).

13. Funspired. Susan and Farrar are the BEST. They save me from the humiliation of wearing my mom jeans and they introduced me to STACK WINE!

A miracle.
Behold the miracle.

But, do you know what is really floating my boat right now? What I wax rhapsodic about every morning (and some evenings!). It’s a gift my brother/sister-in-law recently introduced to me.

My endless love.
My endless love.

If you guessed a Capresso frothPRO.…..you’d be right! Smarty!

Foamed milk with coffee (Keurig) in the mornings is my latest addiction. I allow myself two huge mugs of java in the a.m. The first one is half-caff and the second is decaf. Limiting caffeine is cleaner. I don’t have to mop up the mess when my heart explodes.

Started foaming the 1% skim milk the Texan and I drink and added it to my cup o’ joe. Good.

Changed to no-fat milk….it makes the stiffest foam. Very good.

One sad day I ran out of milk and scoured my pantry for a can of skimmed milk. WOW-ZAA! The most outstanding, full-bodied foam EV-ER!

On a recent trip, my daughter-in-law introduced me to Coffee Mate’s Bliss.

Aptly named.
Aptly named.

This creamy concoction makes any coffee drink a ‘just died and woke up in heaven’ experience. Bliss+Capresso Foamer=Latte Nirvana

Upon waking, I pad into the kitchen and power up the Keurig. Then, to the fridge to grab the dairy product du jour to whip into an exquisite head of foam. Ah…time to reflect. Life is good. This is the day the Lord has made! After several sips, my guttural grunts and ughs turn into ‘Good morning, sweetheart’. Lucky Texan. Don’t get me wrong….I’m a morning person, but this drink smooths a morning’s rough edges.

These coffee drinks would cost $8 at Starbucks.

No alcohol/drugs are involved.

Yet.

Stop and smell the coffee love to all.