Happy Yule and Merry Christmas!

A happy holiday from me and mine (as goofy as we are!) to you and yours.

A happy holiday from me and mine (as goofy as we are!) to you and yours.

I know I’m late. 😦  I have been busier than a one toothed beaver building a dam.  

hehehe  Yeah that was bad.  😀

But it’s true.  Everyone has, to be sure.  I’ve run myself ragged and run myself down.  It’s not over quite yet.  See that beautiful little girl on the left?  She turns THIRTEEN on Saturday!  That tall handsome fella turns 17 on Groundhog Day (Feb 2 for those in other countries).  They are the greatest blessings in my life and for them I will run myself down to the ground to make sure they have the perfect Christmas.  

I think they did.  I couldn’t go back up my stairs (22 steep stairs to my walk up apartment) so we did Christmas dinner and presents on Sunday then went for a walk on the beach yesterday.  It was a lot of fun.

Another 10 days of holidays then back on track.  

And to you, my wonderful readers who put up with me not being very active, I offer you this blessing:

May there always be work for your hands to do.
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine upon your window pane.
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near to you and
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Enjoy the season, however you may celebrate it!

Christmas Lights

Greetings!

Yes, this week’s photo sharing is a day late but I have a good excuse:

Yesterday we went to see The Nutcracker.  

It was wonderful.  It wasn’t a professional show so lacked the pomp and circumstance of the show the National Ballet of Canada would put on but that just put more emphasis on the dancing and I have to say that the dancers all did fantastic jobs, right down to the youngest boy (who looked about 5 years old).  The principal dancers and lead soloists were simply divine.  I do wish I could share some video with you but alas, you’ll just have to imagine it for yourselves.

I don’t have a car and have been having trouble with my legs & back so getting out at the end of the day to take pictures of Christmas lights had to wait until Peter and I were together.  (Stairs and a lot of walking are not my friends)  Therefore it was Friday before I got out to tour Christmas lights.  We drove around town and found a few interesting things I liked.  It was my very first attempt at photographing lights and I like they way then all came out.  Mostly.  

I took them all on the fireworks setting, using a tripod (the fact that Barbie is taller than my tripod doesn’t make it less of one *laughs*) and a 2 second timer to try and avoid the camera jiggling when I pushed the button down.  For the most part, all I did in Photoshop was crop the pictures.  In one of the snowflake pictures I removed the faint image of a lamp post using the clone stamp tool.  

This is the Pinedale Inn in Grand Bend.  I don't normally like just blue lighting - it doesn't feel very Christmassy - but I did like what they did here because of the smaller details.  I wish I could have taken the ridiculously bright office sign out but I couldn't figure out how without making it a big black rectangle.

This is the Pinedale Inn in Grand Bend. I don’t normally like just blue lighting – it doesn’t feel very Christmassy – but I did like what they did here because of the smaller details. I wish I could have taken the ridiculously bright office sign out but I couldn’t figure out how without making it a big black rectangle.

Ha!  During the preview I noticed the slant of this picture.  I promise you the trees are on a hill.  *laughs*  The tripod was sitting on the ground with the camera angled properly.  😀

After I took the picture of the inn I noticed a fascinating little detail in one of their little park seating areas.  They had a green spotlight with something over it that was throwing dots of light out like crystals on a bride's veil.  I cropped this picture and made a slight adjustment on the curves graph (?) to bring out the dots more.

After I took the picture of the inn I noticed a fascinating little detail in one of their little park seating areas. They had a green spotlight with something over it that was throwing dots of light out like crystals on a bride’s veil. I cropped this picture and made a slight adjustment on the curves graph (?) to bring out the dots more.

Polar bears!  Need I say more?  Actually, this took me a couple of attempts to capture.  The heads move and in the first shot it was way too blurry.  This time I managed to catch it just as the head moved back into starting position so it's not *too* blurry.  This was taken by me creeping up the front walk of an empty but lit up house. :D

Polar bears! Need I say more? Actually, this took me a couple of attempts to capture. The heads move and in the first shot it was way too blurry. This time I managed to catch it just as the head moved back into starting position so it’s not *too* blurry. This was taken by me creeping up the front walk of an empty but lit up house. 😀

Santa riding a penny-farthing, what could be more retro than a 19th century bicycle?  I took this by draping the tripod over the edge of the car door and NOT quite getting the camera level. *laughs*  The fact that he's riding downhill *is* my fault.

Santa riding a penny-farthing, what could be more retro than a 19th century bicycle? I took this by draping the tripod over the edge of the car door and NOT quite getting the camera level. *laughs* The fact that he’s riding downhill is my fault.

Two more of the snowflakes and this is the one from which I removed the lamp post.  I do love the image of them just hanging in the night sky.

Two  snowflakes in a little town park and this is the one from which I removed the lamp post. I do love the image of them just hanging in the night sky.

These are three of the snowflakes in a little town park.  They were 12-14" in diameter and I quite like them.  I was pleased to get just THEM in the shot and not all the lights around the park.

These are three of the snowflakes in a little town park. They were 12-14″ in diameter and I quite like them. I was pleased to get just THEM in the shot and not all the lights around the park. The “streaks” are branches lit up around the snowflakes.

This is from the house behind us.   I set the tripod on the ground (remember, this thing is shorter than Barbie, but taller than GI Joe) and adjusted it to take the pic as best I could.  In the way of the wreath at the back is a pork support and I was trying to avoid a 911 sign.

This is from the house behind us. I set the tripod on the ground (remember, this thing is shorter than Barbie, but taller than GI Joe) and adjusted it to take the pic as best I could (by kneeling and bending waaaaay over). In the way of the wreath at the back is a porch support and I was trying to avoid a 911 sign.

A friend of ours owns a house in a gated adult community.  Last year I noticed these enormous circles of floating lights.  I  loved it but couldn't take a picture last year.  It's a simple thing (and one end has fallen from the tree) but I had to take a picture.  I set the tripod on the roof of the car, waited for another car to pass then took the shot.  I'm pleased with the results.

A friend of ours owns a house in a gated adult community. Last year I noticed these enormous circles of floating lights. I loved it but couldn’t take a picture last year. It’s a simple thing (and one end has fallen from the tree) but I had to take a picture. I set the tripod on the roof of the car, waited for another car to pass then took the shot. I’m pleased with the results.

Now I am off to get some writing done since the migraine seems to be fading.  

Have a happy Sunday!

Crawling Forward

An hour or so later he came upon a crevice that almost looked natural.  Almost.  It was triangular in shape, the narrowest peak reaching about his shoulder.  The base appeared to be just over three feet wide and didn’t stay that wide much past two and a half feet up.  Marcus got down on his hands and knees and peered into it.  Just as he thought, it wasn’t all natural.  The opening stayed the same for a few feet then appeared to widen.  He stuck his head inside and tried to get his shoulders inside, intending to crawl ahead.  A jutting rock he didn’t see stabbed him in the shoulder.

“Ouch, sonofabitch!” He sat back on his heels and rubbed his shoulder.  Then he pulled his phone out and checked the GPS.  He texted Doug, “Going in stone, coordinates 56° 43′ 26.84″ N, 5° 9′ 7.03″ W, gimme 2hrs.”

When he got back, “K, be careful, won’t tell Anna” he took a look around then shucked his clothes and tied them into his shirt, leaving a knot big enough to pick up with his teeth.  Then he shifted, picked up the bundle of clothing and worked his way into the tunnel.  He was positive he left some fur and flesh on the edge of the entrance but it got wider and higher just a few feet in, as he expected.  It wound around until he could no longer seem much daylight and he slowed, using his nose more than his eyes. 

Soon the crevice opened up more and he was able to pad along without the stone walls brushing against his body.  The daylight made a weak reappearance and Marcus was sure that he had made the shift and walk for nothing.  In the next moment the crevice opened into a round, craggy chamber.  Marcus’s mouth fell open in shock and his clothes fell to the floor.  He hardly noticed.  He slowly walked around the chamber, paws barely making more than a whisper of sound on the stone.  His nostrils were soaking up everything scent – stone, moss and guano among other things – and his eyes were peering carefully into the dark recesses cut into the walls. 

Then he sneezed and his belly rumbled at the same time.  He backed up two steps, thoroughly confused.  He sniffed around in a hollow set into the wall about two feet off the ground.  He smelled some ancient animal something that made his belly rumble again, kerosene and sulfur.  As his stomach heaved again he decided to get less sensitive and shifted back to human.  Immediately, his stomach settled down, he scrubbed his nose and shivered.  He thought about his clothes but knew he’d have to change back.   

Marcus peered into the dark recess as his brain tried to figure out what that smell was and why it was familiar while his eyes and nose searched out the source.  It was shoved way back into the hollow and teased him by being just out of reach.  His fingertips just barely brushed against something smooth, he could feel a slight ridge like a rope or something.  A growl echoed through the chamber and it took him a moment to realize it was him. 

Silencing the growl, Marcus pulled his arm out, scraping it on the rocks, as he peered into the crevice and wondered if he could just shift his eyes.  Or maybe his just face.  He gave it up after several frustrating attempts and looked around the chamber.  He could still smell the kerosene so he sniffed it out.  He found a lantern hidden in a deep, shelf-like indent in one of the walls and pulled it out.  A long box of matches fell out.  Matches in a Tupperware container, which gave him great pause, it was then that he realized the kerosene smelled relatively fresh too.  Old kerosene had a bacterial smell, one he could smell in other places in the chamber.

After lighting the lantern, Marcus went back and tried to focus the beam onto the thing shoved deep into the crack in the chamber wall.  Finally he could see it.  It appeared to be a leather wrapped bundle tied with rope.  There was a loose spot in the rope, if he could just hook his fingers in it, he could pull it out.  He shoved his arm in to the shoulder, scraping the tender wounds on the wall again and losing more skin in the process, and stretched his fingers way out.  He willed himself to reach it, forcing his ligaments and tendons to stretch; he willed his nails to lengthen, knowing it wasn’t possible.  To his shock he felt the tingling that preceded shifting in his fingertips.  He felt his hand begin to shift; joints popped and began to reform, fingernails thickened and grew. 

So great was his shock that Marcus had the barest presence of mind to hook the package in one claw and yank his arm out.  He stared at it in surprise.  The hand was somewhere between a hand and a paw and reminded him of the lycans in Underworld when they were the wolf-man creatures and fur climbed halfway up his arm.  He was so impressed he almost forgot about the package but as soon as he stopped thinking about the need for a shift it began to recede.

Marcus took in the sight of the worn, scraped animal hide held in place by relatively new rope and frowned before pulling his phone out of the bundle of clothing.  He called up Anna’s number and wrote a text, Meet at hotel have something, and wandered around the cave, arm stretched out over his head, thumb on the send button, seeking even one bar of signal.  Finally he got it, standing on his toes, arm stretched over his head towards the hole in the center of the roof.  He stood there, weaving slightly, until the phone told him the message had been sent then he rewrapped the bundle of his clothing to include his phone and the hide covered package, muttering under his breath.  “Nice to know Vodafone is as reliable as ever.”

With a deep breath, Marcus shifted again then stood there with his head down, breathing hard.  Shifting was tiring and doing it twice in as many hours was triply exhausting.  He picked up the bundle in his teeth again and headed out of the cave through the crevasse.  Once outside he shifted back to human.  He could have covered the ground faster on four feet but he didn’t want to start any talk and he most definitely didn’t want to get shot.  He tucked the bundle under his shirt, fighting not to gag at the smell, and headed back to the hotel.

Howdy folks!  It’s halfway through December and not only do I not have the work done I wanted to get done (various reasons; some of them excuses, some of them valid) but I haven’t been doing my blog or my Facebook page like I want to.  I know there’s a block there but I can’t figure it out.  I know my block for my blog – I don’t always think I have things worth writing.

But we’ve been over that before so, moving on.

As you can see, Marcus found something intriguing, something that has Anna all agog.

Anna held out a hand for the package and Marcus willingly handed it over then bolted for the shower.  Anna gagged, her stomach heaving.  She got it under control as the other three looked at each other in alarm then sat down with the hide package in her lap.  Some part of her brain just clicked into being her father’s daughter, all about the history and knowledge.  After reverently stroking the package, Anna undid the intricate knot that held the ropes in place.

Marcus growled when he came back into the sitting room, shirtless, barefoot and hair still damp from his shower.  “Anna!  Do you have to be so slow?  That stench is unbearable.”

“It’s history, Marcus, one must respect it.”  Anna frowned at him even as she fought to keep her eyes from following the trail of hair that disappeared into his waistband.  She swallowed and a faint blush crept up her neck as she remembered the night she had received her collar.  Anna reached up and touched the collar hidden by a small glamour then scratched a spot just above it to hide the motion before dropping her hand and peeling the hide away from the contents.  She lifted the stack of journals and spoke.  “Someone put this smelly thing in a bag and in the closet.”

Brock leapt forward and swept it from her lap.  He threw it in a backpack, zipped it shut, tossed the whole thing in the closet and shut the door. 

Immediately everyone breathed a sigh of relief. 

Anna set the journals back in her lap and picked up the one on top.  She opened the cover and read the first page.  Her frown deepened as she read.  “This is a journal of the area.  It was started five years ago.  It talks about the strange occurrences and is a continuation of other journals.”  She read aloud. 

My name is… well you don’t need to know my name.  But I am the 16th in a long line of watchers.  We watch for what is now called the paranormal.  Strange deaths.  Animal sightings.  Stories of witches.  We watch.

And we wait.

Soon it will come time to avenge the deaths.

To avenge the slaughter.

We watch.  We wait.

We train.

We will persevere.

Anna tapped a finger on the page.  “We need to find these people.  And I need Elsie. Jules, you start with the newest one.  Brock, the one before it.  Doug, take this one,”  she handed them out as she spoke.  “Marcus, this one,” she gave him the second oldest, “and I’ll take the remaining.  First though, I need to get Elsie.”

Then I got stymied, need to do a little research into Early Modern English.  And create that family whose sole purpose is to watch the Supernatural.  I think it can start with that old woman Liliya ignored when she turned Alasdair Jr.    If that woman can convince one person (and, miraculously, she can) then perhaps that person can convince a family.  Or maybe she can convince a family that takes her in out of the cold.

And Anna and Elsie will discover the truth by reading that first journal. They’ll go on to discover how Alasdair Jr./Liliya convinced John Dalrymple to help betray his family.  Lovely.

And only five, maybe six journals?  Tiny, cramped writing and long periods of nothing happening maybe.

*grins*  I love you guys!  I should write here more often.  Talking to you helps me figure things out.

Off to write this out and get my daughter up for school.  And make gingerbread cookies.  And pack for the weekend with my boyfriend.  Have to remember to pack something nice for The Nutcracker tomorrow.

Have a great Friday, folks!

Beach Finds and Beachscapes

Greetings!

Yeah, it’s been another week without a blog. 😦   It’s been a week of recovery and housework and trying to get started again in the HW series.  It took me several hours to remember what Marcus was searching for.  I finally did and… oh but that’s another blog.  Last weekend I was restless and felt the need to go for a walk.  Where to go but the beach?  So down the stairs I went.  It was a mistake, physically, but I got some spectacular pictures.  I played with Photoshop on them all, some simple like just doing an auto-contrast/colour/level, some more detail.  

It was a misty, grey day, kind of like today but with less rain.   The landscape had been altered by the recent weather and I felt a need to capture it.  I also found some strange things on the beach…

I have no idea what this is the bones (or cartilage) of but... damn it's creepy.

I have no idea what this is the bones (or cartilage) of but… damn it’s creepy.

I merely did an auto-contrast here and cropped it to make the skeleton a greater focus.

He's awfully bleached out, I've never seen a pink toy soldier before.  He makes me think of that move Flags of our Fathers.

He’s awfully bleached out, I’ve never seen a pink toy soldier before. He makes me think of that move Flags of Our Fathers.

He got treated to an auto-level and a little bit of a dialing back on the brightness.

Cute little gaffer eh?  I don't know where he washed up from though I suspect it was the public beach.

Cute little gaffer eh? I don’t know where he washed up from though I suspect it was the public beach.

My funny, cute gator here was a simple auto-contrast and a touch of dimming down on the bright.

I found this can of what appears to be industrial strength cleaner rusting on the beach.  I did, of course, pick it up and bring it home for proper disposal.

I found this can of what appears to be industrial strength cleaner rusting on the beach. I did, of course, pick it up and bring it home for proper disposal.

Apparently it’s a septic cleaner/deodorizer for RV toilets.  What on earth was it doing on the beach?  The Photoshopping here was simply auto-colour.

I *think* this is the tail end of a box kite.  I love the colour.  That didn't stop me from messing with it...

I *think* this is the tail end of a box kite. I love the colour. That didn’t stop me from messing with it…

This one was difficult to get the colour right.  My camera tends to wash out the red a little.  When I take pictures of something that is a really deep purple, say, it comes out blue.  It’s annoying and hard to alter.  Orange is much easier to fix, for me at least.  I did an auto-contrast to see what would happen.  I liked it but not quite enough so I opened the Hue/saturation and put the saturation at +15 and the lightness to -6.  It came out beautifully.  And yet… I still messed with it.  

Bright isn't it?  Lost some detail when I played with the hue but I love what happened to it.

Bright isn’t it? Lost some detail when I played with the hue but I love what happened to it.

Since I had the hue open I just HAD to see what would happen.  This is the electric (blue) slide.  I love it.  

The shore line changed a lot and it gave me some fantastic opportunities for pictures.

I loved this when I saw it.  the depth.  The colours, the dreariness of it.  It reminds me of my memory - bits of flotsam and jetsam, lots of blank, empty space and a distinct fogginess.

I loved this when I saw it. the depth. The colours, the dreariness of it. It reminds me of my memory – bits of flotsam and jetsam, lots of blank, empty space and a distinct fogginess.

All I needed to do here was auto-contrast and it came out beautifully.

The gulls were very unhappy with me for intruding on their space on the sandbar.

The gulls were very unhappy with me for intruding on their space on the sandbar.

Peter saw this and said “The colour is messed up.”  I said, “that’s the point!”  I loved the lines and motion in this picture when I took it but when I tried to Photoshop it to where you could see what I saw nothing was coming out right.  So I played with the colour balance; a lot of magenta, a little red and blue in the midtones, some magenta and yellow in the highlights and blue in the shadows.  I like the way it turned out, even if it is a little avant-garde.  

This time I was looking at the black lines just below the water but, again, when I saw it on the computer my perspective on the capture changed.  I love the lines from the sand and the reflected trees alike.

This time I was looking at the black lines just below the water but, again, when I saw it on the computer my perspective on the capture changed. I love the lines from the sand and the reflected trees alike.

Here it was a simple auto-level and a touch of dimming down the brightness.

The original focus here was the steps of sand created by the waves and outlined by the debris (I need a new word) but when Peter saw the enlarged photo he was amazed at the reflection I captured.  A reflection I hadn't even noticed.  *laughs*

The original focus here was the steps of sand created by the waves and outlined by the debris (I need a new word) but when Peter saw the enlarged photo he was amazed at the reflection I captured. A reflection I hadn’t even noticed. *laughs*

Again, auto-contrast, less bright.  It didn’t take much here to show you what I saw.

As you may have guessed from the beach finds, there was a LOT of debris.  Most of it was organic though, like this line of bits and pieces of plants that got washed ashore in waves.

As you may have guessed from the beach finds, there was a LOT of debris. Most of it was organic though, like this line of bits and pieces of plants that got washed ashore in waves.

Simple auto-levels.  I love the way it turned out.  Look at all the detail and you can tell where the water levels rose and fell.

As I said, the shoreline shifted and offered me this wonderful opportunity to take this picture of the shore from within the lake.

As I said, the shoreline shifted and offered me this wonderful opportunity to take this picture of the shore from within the lake.

Again, this was simply an auto-levels touch.  It brought the colours and the light up nicely.

And that’s it for me folks.  I need to make some triple chocolate hazelnut cookies for a hostess gift and some brunch (not necessarily in that order) and see about getting some other work done.  

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

November Favourites

See, I'm a winner.

 

I’m a winner baby!

53, 043 words and the story is finished.  There’s a beginning, a middle (wherein all kinds of things that shouldn’t happen to Santa do) and an actual ending.  I think there might even be a plot twist or two. It was all written as an exercise in creativity and sheer adrenaline.  Some people bungee jump, I write a novel in a month.  *laughs*

Today is December first and this morning the weather is cooperating nicely!

It's a beautiful way to start the month!

It’s a beautiful way to start the month!

So this week I am going to revisit my favourite photos for the month.  

To start with, my utmost favourite picture is one my ex-husband took.  We were at my daughter’s Confirmation (he and his family are Catholic and my children are being raised in that faith until they’re old enough to decide for themselves) and I got him to take a picture of me with our children.

My son, the Johnny Cash look-a-like, my daughter, the newly confirmed St. Catherine and yours truly.

My son, the Johnny Cash look-a-like, my daughter, the newly confirmed St. Catherine and yours truly.  Aren’t they beautiful?

I am not a Catholic.  I believe that there is more than one God, I have faith in a pantheon.  I am a very spiritual person but Catholicism is not my thing.  The ex and I have had long discussions about it, way in the past.  The schools the kids go to are fantastic.  

On to other favourites for this past month.

It's the perfect book cover... or the opening scene of a suspense/thriller movie.

I love this photo.  It’s so dramatic.  It is, as I said before the perfect cover for a book or the opening scene of a thriller movie.

Awesome, isn't it? :D

This is awesome.  Not only the photo in the first place but the things I managed to do  to it, with the help of photoshop.

My view of the rainbow

The colours and contrasts in this one just make me smile

Interesting, eh?

So does this one.  It’s a banana turned art!

Beach Bark in Black & White

The perspective on this is awesome. I love it in black and white.

Ta-da!

This is my first attempt  at the colour splash technique and therefore a favourite of mine.  As you can see it’s not very pretty and I did learn something:  Fuzziness = bad colour splash.   

And folks, I think I am going to get dressed and do something I haven’t done in a month:   Go for a walk.  

Oh, before I go:  

I am thinking that I need theme days for the blog.  One or two, to add to the photo blog.  Something that will help me keep writing.  Sometimes I have problems writing blogs, simply because I’m not sure you’ll want to read them.  It’s about the life and mind and writing of a paranormal author right?  So I should write about these things.  

I would like a theme day though, it could be fun.  Any ideas would be appreciated!

Muah.