A Winter Thought

As I write from normally sunny Arizona (today it’s cloudy and dry) I cast my mind back other Yuletide seasons in my past.  I don’t miss snow and cold but it sure makes some beautiful memories.

One thing I recall is the silence of a fresh snowfall.

Have you ever heard anything so quiet as when there is no traffic on the street, no one chattering or clumping along in snow boots, and all the night sounds are muffled in a fresh blanket of snow?  And have you ever seen anything so peaceful as when the flakes are swirling down and looking up into the black night sky is like gazing into hyperspace?

I remember one particular night when there were ice crystals rimming every branch and pure white covered the ground, mounding up on every horizontal surface.  I stood in my front yard, breathing in that dry snow-smell, admiring the crystalline icicles and not wanting to shatter that quiet.  I just watched, letting my senses drink it all in.

I rarely saw deep snowfalls as a child so each one was special to me.  I lived in the rather wet Pacific Northwest so snow was sporadic at best.  Back then I didn’t have to drive in it, or go to work, and my main concern was simply if the snow would pack down well or not.  I miss those snowfalls, and that lack of worry, but at the same time I really appreciate my new, dry, sunlit life.

Icy branches

(Photography by Lenore Plassman)

via Daily Prompt: Silent

Beginner’s tips to improve your photos

Do you want to improve your photos by quite a bit, without getting a degree in art or photography?  Make them stand out, and really shine?  Improve the contrast and crop it properly!  It’s simple to do, and I’ll show you how.

(My instructions are for the free art program GIMP, but the process is the same for any photo editing program.)

It’s pretty simple.  First, open your photo in GIMP or your favorite photo editing software.  For folks who are new to this, that usually means right clicking on the picture file and selecting “open with” then picking what you want to open in.

So, now you have your photo open.  Maybe it looks like this.example 1

Not a bad picture, really, but maybe you want to see the lioness better.  So draw a box around the area you want to keep with your selection tool (usually looks like a rectangle in the toolbar) and then use “Crop to Selection.”  In GIMP, that can be found under “Image,” up in the menu.  You’ll get something like this:

example 2

Better, but it could look even better than that!  So try this:  in GIMP, in the menu at the top, go to “Colors” then “auto” then “white balance.”  You’ll get something like this:

example 3

If you don’t like how that turned out, you can go to “Colors” then “Brightness and Contrast” and move the sliders around till you get something you like, like this:

example 4

Sometimes you can preserve the colors better by using the “Brightness and Contrast” tool rather than the automatic white balance, it depends on the photo.  If you are not using GIMP, but instead another program, there will be similar options but they may be called something different.

In any case, there’s a lot you can do to improve an image with very little effort!

 

 

 

Cat Nests

Have you ever noticed how cats love to nest?

They love boxes, bags, shelves, drawers, dryers that are turned off, foots of beds, piled up blankets, and any other soft place and hidey hole you can imagine.  Baskets were made for cats.  Just ask one, they’ll tell you.

Nezumi’s favorite nest is on my guitar bag when it’s folded up and sitting on a stool.  It’s soft and she likes the somewhat shiny surface.  Shinji’s special nest is on a shelf in the middle of a chest of drawers.  It’s a perfect cat sized nook, and he still manages to fit into it even though I put things in there to try to keep him out.

I’ve seen Nezumi sleeping on a pantry shelf…

on the computer desk…

on beds…

in chairs…

trying to fit themselves inside sandals…

in windows…

under desks…

in the laundry basket, empty or full…

and so many other places I can’t recall them all.

Once in a great while, they’ll sleep in the beds I made for them!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/nest/

Meet Shinji, Mindflight’s droll new co-mascot.

Nezumi here.  Mom’s busy working the camera and trying to get decent photos.  Something about “darn autofocus,” whatever that means.  I have bad news.  Very, very bad.

There’s a new cat in the house.  Do you hear me?  A NEW CAT.  For the first day or two I hissed at him all the time just to let him know who’s boss.  Then I eased up a little and just stole his food, and gave him the Demon Eyes when I saw him.  Then I just hissed at him when he meowed too much.

He’s something called a Siamese.  He looks funny, with stripes and pale patches and blue eyes and stuff.  He’s kinda small too, especially for a boy, and the Moms keep calling him “Minimeez” or “Permakitty.”  It’s a good thing they are both giving me treats and petting me a lot, or I’d have to evict him.

The other day, Mom laughed at me hissing at him, and said “remember when Orion used to hiss at you, back when you were a kitten?”  She thought that was pretty droll.  Orion was my best friend.  I still miss him.  It’s hard to imagine being hissed at by my adoptive dad!

The Moms told me all about Shinji.  He’s an old man!  He could be as much as fourteen years old, and I’m only eleven!  But he looks and acts like he’s three or so.  The Moms said I should be nice to him because his two legged mother died, and then his two cat friends, and he was living in a backyard, and he needs a loving home.

I might be nice to him.  Later.  After all, he is pretty good at ankle-winding, and the Moms like that.  For now I’ll just not growl at him.  Much.

Catloaf 3 800

Catloaf 2 900

catloaf 1 900

He’s not very good at having his picture taken yet, is he?  Oh well.  I’ll teach him everything I know.  Eventually.  Anyway, here’s me, the great Nezumi, signing off.  All this blogging has made me tired.

Nezumi in chair.JPG

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/droll/

 

Peeking Feline

Nezumi Prepper 1000

Do I peek through the supplies and canned goods at Nezumi-chan?

Prepper Nezui 1200

Or does Nezumi-chan peek back at me?

olive base 3 1000

Here’s a hole in my backyard I like to peek through… lizards often live there.

pines-and-mountains-1000

Speaking of backyards, here’s a peek at the mountains through pine trees…

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I peeked through my zoom lens to capture this avian kerfluffle from across the parking lot.

quail-1-1000

Here they are again as I peek under this truck.

quail-1000

This is what they look like when I’m not peeking quite so much.

It seems that for me, at least, peeking leads to lower quality pictures but still I find them interesting to look at.

(Guitar Update:   Guitar Sensei has me working on some basic finger patterns on the fretboard.  I’m still at the getting-to-know-you stage.  I have the self assigned task of learn to get from C to G chord and back again.  My fingers are a lot tougher than they were.  I can do scales pretty well too.  I’m still settling down to my favorite kind of pick, and I find practicing standing up easier than practicing sitting down.)

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/peek/

Wild Orange

On my recent zoo trip and photo spree, I saw all kinds of orange things.  Flowers, birds, a butterfly, a rather orange camel, the list goes on.  Here’s a break from Inktober, and some of the things I saw.

orange flowers 2 800

The zoo had several bushes of these – I’m unsure what type of flower they are.

Orange Flowers 1000

Let’s play Find The Butterfly…

Tiger 1000

A Malaysian tiger.  “Are you sure you got my good side?”  I have clearer pictures but I love this pose.

Giraffe 800

The giraffes were very, very relaxed.  There was a Giraffe Encounter where you could pay a little money to feed them a carrot stick and some lettuce.  I did that and discovered giraffe tongues, aside from being very long and dexterous, are also blue!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/orange/