Sabbatical

Sep. 9th, 2015 06:45 am
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Another blog sabbatical, of sorts, all based on a 'convenience' factor and feeling excessively busy. Busy with what? Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Ranch is in some ways beginning to feel overwhelming, which may be a Summer thing. With the heat and humidity of North Central Baja Jorja summers, work always wants to become Routine Chores Only. This summer didn't allow that. Combination of we received a lot of needed rain (though so far, not much in the way of tropical storms... not claiming we won't, saying not yet), and Cows and Goats stressed fences which needed maintenance.

Goats, well, their fence is one of the first ones we put up here on the Ranch, so 25 plus years old. That they started blowing holes in old rusted wire is unsurprising. Frankly, we gave up on trying to mend most of it, at least those portions that divide within, and simply started letting the Goats wander through the Park and the Horse Paddock. They've been eating back a lot of the brushy growth which thrived on the Summer Monsoon.

Cows, on the other hand, we couldn't ignore so placidly as a couple two-three took to going over (or through) the fence onto the road. Two things happened from that. A lot of fence maintenance involving pulling wire fabric back up, re-attaching separated segments and twisting those connections tighter, re-stapling to posts, then adding stays which isn't hard yet is time consuming. And, the prime offender experienced his Change of Occupation from beef stored on hoof to beef stored in the freezer.

KP Ranch is not a petting zoo. If you aren't comfortable with that part, skip over it.

Because of all the needed maintenance, and because the high summer months see a bit of a slow-down at Farmers Markets we vend through, we scheduled a Modified Summer. That plan involved setting up at one market every other weekend, and doing milk delivery only on the opposite weekends. The second market on Monday evening slowed down so much, and all the vendors so busy getting gardens and other aspects ready for Autumn, that the market as a whole simply closed for two months. We'll re-open in a couple more weeks. Meanwhile, Herself is still doing the milk delivery to the regular customers (takes about an hour and a half).

I did mention the Monsoon, right? Well, that turned the Saturday Market (At Haile Town Centre) into mostly an every week milk delivery only. We are back to every week there, now, and beef sales went well (take that, Recalcitrant Youngster Bovine who disregarded fences!) along with our other usual sales of goats milk, goat cheese, and free-range eggs.

But not a huge amount of Art accomplished. Some. Working on a series concept titled Special Snowflakes. Finished up a Really Big Piece, and decided on a title for that following an older suggestion, re-spelled. Need to mat and frame that piece, then mat the smaller print (at least mat, maybe frame) and decide how many more prints to do. This one is designed as a Big Piece, so a small print of this one falls into the 27 centimetre long size. And I might decide that's too small, which makes a small print more like 35-40 centimetres long. The 'small' print of the two sizes I've got now is 50 cm long.

Then again, I've always been partial to big prints.

The Autumn Show Season is coming up, reason to get the bit of backlog needing mats done, as well as the current prints needing framing, and then planning on more prints to replace inventory that's getting low. Or sold out. Stuff like that.

Houdini BorderCollieBro is now into his elder years, and frequently referred to as the Elder Statesdog. We adopted a pup last year, and I'm so infrequently posting here that likely haven't mentioned her. She's now a month plus a year, still puppy, and growing. She's slightly bigger than Houdini. We kept the name the Humane Society gave her when delivered to their doorstep as an hours old pup whose dam refused to care for her, the only surviving pup from a litter of six. So, meet Velvet.

Velvet is already starring in a few greeting card art pieces, and will no doubt continue to do so. Houdini and Squrrl are, of course, also featured in some of the greeting card art pieces. All of which need to be printed and added to inventory. To that end, I've been shopping for papers and will try some from a company called Red River Paper. One portion of their product line is photographic paper stock designed to be folded into greeting cards easily. Fairly good results on the test pieces.

And on that note, it's about time to get moving and take care of the Ranch...
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
When last we visited Mad Shutterbug for a State of the Artist the calendar year showed 2014. In reality it's been about two and a half months, so mentioning only the calendar year is a bit misleading. Gregorian New Years Day transpired in the interim thus bringing us to 2015, but hey, it sounds really dramatic.
We've filled the time in between with a goodly portion of Ranch Work. Besides the usual daily things, Herself and I managed to get her Truck Garden (so called by me because her plan is to load up the produce into Forrest Nissan Pickup and truck it off to one or the other of our Farmers Markets... well, and eat some of it ourselves for sure) fenced. Reason for fencing, this will mostly keep Dirty Yard Bird Chooks out, as well as goats or cows that may wander by. Three sides of it are fenced with wire fabric, one side with plastic contractor fencing. That last we chose for three reasons, expense, expediency, and keeping Dirty Yard Bird Chooks out.

As to the latter, it seemed like it would work well enough, being as high as the wire. Mostly it does keep them out. There are a few who applied some brilliant thinking and figured out how to (barely) flutter over any given stretch of the fence. Those ladies are now marked for future residence in Chicken Tillers. What we didn't figure into the equation: Velvet Youngster Dog and her desire to be close to her Humans. Plastic netting and Velvet teeth are not a good match. Or, from Velvets point of view, not a bad match. We've more or less convinced her that it is a Bad Idea to chew holes in Moms Fence.

Expediency came into play because this is the last stretch that needed fencing, it crosses the drain field for Studio 318's septic tank and being light could run some distance with fewer posts, thus less hazzard to the drain field. On that note, it works very well. Regarding Expense, three 30-plus metre rolls cost less than the equivalent length of wire fabric. So overall we are fairly content with results so far.
Along with protecting the Truck Garden from marauders we also decreased the number of stomachs we feed and increased the amount of frozen meat in the stocks to go to Farmers Market. That involved two days and resulted in 270 kg of pork.

Over a portion of January and much of February we also dealt with several Freeze Alerts and Warnings. Over here in Baja Jorja, an Alert from the National Weather Service means that the specific weather is possible; a Warning means it will happen. This part of the world does see freezing temperatures. Unlike points further north (and much, much further south) duration and intensity are not as extreme. However, when the ambient temperature is at or below the point that water becomes a solid... it is cold.

Things like our water bibs where we provide fluid replenishment for Goats, Hogs and et cetera become at risk. The Goats and Horses require a bit more shelter than normal, and potentially some bedding. The Chooks definitely want some protection, but really that mostly means a wind-break because birds are pretty good at roosting together, and fluffing up feathers for dead-air-space insulation. Ditto for the Goats, actually, the don't mind cold so long as they're dry.

Each of those freezes came preceded by a fair amount of rain, and this is nominally our dry season. We managed to keep mostly everyone dry (Cows and Horses fend for themselves, sheltering under trees). So we got through it, without much problem, but with a lot of energy expense. Both ours, and I just received the electric bill and the House jumped by a couple hundred dollars from the previous month.

Ah well. Activities of Daily Living and all.

In between all of the above, I also managed to accomplish:
Shipping some pieces off to MarsCon in Williamsburg, Virginia for that Con art show
Completing applications for both the Orlando and Tampa NudeNite shows; Orlando invited one piece, Tampa invited neither piece.
Receiving notification that we are juried into the Santa Fe Spring Arts Festival (Not Santa Fe New Mexico; Santa Fe College, here in Baja Jorja).
Getting a (mildly short) notice for a local Photography Exhibit sponsored by the Gainesville Fine Arts Association (Herself and I are members), submitting three pieces each and being invited one piece each for the show. That show is on-going until 9 March.
Matting more work to increase inventory stock for the upcoming GFAA Winter Fine Arts Festival at Tioga.

So, in order, more or less.

Preparing for these weekend festivals and other shows generally involves thinking at least six months ahead. The Call for Artists usually go out then, applications are readied, jury fees paid, and then we wait. A few festivals, particularly smaller local ones, will ask for the booth fee with the application, and when one sees the check clear the bank account one knows one is accepted into the event. More information follows, of course, but that's usually the first indication.

GFAA Winter Tioga, the SF Spring Arts Festival, and the two Nude Nite shows are more as described. So related to that, and more or less in order of completion of the application are these images. Usual disclaimer about Nude Art, If You Don't Like That Don't Look, Et Cetera.

Back in December though they didn't get shipped until a fairly short time before the event, I applied for my third time around with MarsCon in Virginia. The shipping took place a tad late compared to earlier years, in part because of Ranch Work aforementioned. Also because this year I shipped using the Brown Truck Folks (United Parcel Service). I found I could ship a larger package (thus some pieces matted up to 16x20) for the same fee the previous two years using United States Postal Service. Nothing sold, which is fine as I enjoy the vicarious thrill of attending the Con via my artwork (though sales are very nice). Return shipping proved a bit of a learning experience, as I needed to schedule that through the UPS web site. Learning occurred. More on that later, however.

Pieces submitted to MarsCon
MarsCon Art Submissions... not much nudity )

Orlando NudeNite (Event took place 12-14 February)
Completed application back around New Years Day, this one is juried and two pieces allowed. I submitted these – Gravidity #4 and I Shall Wear... a Red Hat #1. Red Hat #1 did not make the cut, however Gravidity #4 did much to my delight, as this is the second time I've tried getting pieces into the Orlando NudeNite without ever seeing the show and thus obtaining a good idea what the show is looking for.

Gravidity #4 is from a 2006 session with art model Shayden. She and her husband lived near Colorado Springs at the time, out on the western edge of the Great Plains. They would drive around their area and note on the map abandoned homesteads, then research the tax maps for who currently owned the properties. Then they would contact those owners, explain that as a professional model Shayden would occasionally work with photographers who came to them and ask permission to work on the land. Thus when I worked with her, we did work on just such an abandoned homestead. Shay was also eight months into her first pregnancy at the time.

Gravidity #4 )

Tampa NudeNite is the next show I applied to. This one I approached with a tad more confidence as I've been invited both previous years with at least one of the two images submitted. The first year was Kitsune Out of the Storm, and last year was Erotica in the Manner of Rembrandt. However, this year neither photo received an invitation. Alas and all that, however it did free up time to work on some other things, including a short notice application to the local GFAA Photography Exhibit at Santa Fe College.

We each submitted three images for the jury. We each received an invitation for one. Some of this may involve the physical space for the show, which is currently in the Presidents Gallery in Building F on the Santa Fe campus. From myself, Sumi-e Reality; from Herself, Up-Side Down World.

Sumi-e Reality )
This one I did up originally for That Camera Club which we once participated in, and their monthly competition. The subject, Reflections. The category, Creative, by which they mean anything not photo-realistic. So it's a bit of a manipulation, duplicating the basic image, applying a brush-work style filter which provided a portion of the title, then masking off the portion which needs to show 'Reality'. It's a good photo to start, one of my primary rules in any sort of composite (and this is a sort of composite, though of the one image alone). Start with good photos. Curiously, the sumi-e styling helps a lot compared (at least to me) to the reality of the houses in the photograph.

Up-Side Down World )
Now, the latter still is a bit of a debate between Herself and I. It's her image. Darn good one; primary subject Reflections and done for the monthly competition while we still played with the Ocala camera club (time, distance, and other issues caused us to re-think that). I tend to take the title as my cue in how to 'hang' the image. She hangs it in the manner she composed it. Both work.

Getting her piece printed, matted, and framed is one of the things I needed to work on which not making it into Tampa NudeNite provided. Still, I've got three more large prints to mat and frame that I intended for those two shows. Given a wee bit of time I'll get those done, and sooner rather than later so that large prints are protected better than being in the shrink-wrap from the lab.

However, increasing basic inventory is the current priority what with two more weekend festivals coming up. GFAA Winter Art Festival Tioga will be in two weeks (6-8 March), and includes a Friday night portion so it's a three day show. I've a bit more time before Santa Fe Spring Arts, which is held in Downtown Gainesville every year. This year it will be 11-12 April. I did up a quick blurb for our Farmers Market booth to let regular customers know about the two festivals, since we may not be setting up at the Farmers Market those weekends.Still, need to continue with basic inventory for that show as well is also a big priority.

So I've matted up a small batch of 8x10 prints from Herself photos, and a couple 11x14 prints of my photos. One of those is intended as a gift, the other will be sent off to another Con art show in the near future and the third which is already in inventory will be available at both Tioga and Spring Arts. Until it sells, of course.

Meanwhile, I also matted for framing a Big Print of In the Hall of Titans King. I've got an 11x14 framed in a 16x20 of that one. But hey, I like big prints so I couldn't resist.

I'm currently working on matting in a diptych format two of Herself's 8x10s which make up Deer Scarer. They're photographs of just that, a Japanese bamboo deer scarer at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. This is a simple device, a section of bamboo hinged, with the 'top' portion trimmed and set to fill slowly from a trickle of water from a well. Then, filled to the tipping point is smacks down onto a small stone making a loud noise, drains all the water, and lifts itself back into place to re-fill. We've only ever put out individually matted images of the two, and I've always seen it as a perfect diptych.

Well, that about covers it. Time now to get this loaded into the blog, then make the pitch, then get dressed and head out for more Ranch Work.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Well, with a Long Time No Post, things what happened.

Pursuant to the subject above, on Friday past I bid adieu to Mr. Gallbladder. Our relationship never proved an unpleasant one, nothing stony about the course nor such. However a few months back I received a letter from my urologist, follow-up on last October appointment to check on kidney stones. The ultrasound done then (stones light up brightly on US, being hard and all) showed no stones to the urologist and he simply wanted me to know the radiologist agreed. Except, the radiologist did see a polyp in Mr. Gallbladder. Polyps being pesky things that may be affiliated with cancers, a visit to a general surgeon seemed in order and Ta Ta Mr. Gallbladder.

Doing well, little pain, rather more ache, and adjusting diet in steps. Should be back to work at Hospital some time next week. Meanwhile, on some lifting restrictions until the four laparoscopic wounds heal completely.

Shortly before the Day of Separation, faithful old Sydney Subaru Outback started overheating. While I carry extra fluids on board (both coolant and oil, the flat opposed 'box' engine Subaru uses tends to use oil rather more noticeably than more conventional engines) he still showed signs of continuing to overheat. Off to the Growly Beast Doctor (our mechanic) who confirmed the head gasket is compromised. Were Sydney a younger bloke of an auto I'd consider more extensive work to keep him running. At 326 K km plus (204 K plus miles) not so much. So we shall be shopping for a replacement and are discussing exactly what to do here.

In between this and weekly Farmers Markets where our local produce of meats, goats milk, goats milk cheese, goats milk fudge (Oh My) and fresh produce as the garden yields is selling fairly well. That is become a tad more 'interesting' for the next few weeks with my lifting restrictions, both on loading Forrest Nissan Pickup and setting up. We've managed with help from our dairy goat provider friend and partner, but both parthers in the 'ship are looking at other commitments on the next couple of weekends. Busy could be good, but truly we'd considered (before knowing exactly when the surgery would be) that I'd be continuing the Markets.

Ah well. Such is life.

Art projects are moving slowly, though some progress is being made. I am generating a reference library of paper types as I 're-learn' printing, and getting ready to expand the types I shall reference. More on that as it develops (pun intended). A few prints sold over the past quarter, nice bit of extra. Two Autumn shows to which I applied for entry (three should be, been looking for the paperwork on that site hasn't shown yet) and heard back from one. Tried getting into this one last year, didn't make the jury. Did this year, now need to cough up the booth fee, deadline in July. Should be able to do that next week. The other I am expecting to hear from nearer the end of June. Once I've paid the booth fee for the former I'll formally announce the venue, ditto for the latter.

Pieces in progress are primarily composite work, science fiction themed. Did some research to verify and it is apparently the case, images available from NASA are in the public domain (since they are funded by tax moneys). NASA requests only acknowledgement that they are indeed NASA images and the mission upon which they obtained the source (so, Hubble Telescope, Cassini Probe for examples). Provides a wonderful source for astronomical imagery.

Houdini BorderCollieBro is still hanging with us, showing some signs of his soon to be 12 years. During the past winter (unusually cold for this part of Baja Jorja) he preferred to be indoors at night. Through the Spring and still, now into summer, he wanted to be outside at night. So be it, despite his occasional wandering ways he doesn't go walkabout at night (that I know of). Since we provide a means to get back into the house, when teh Sky Grumblers (thunderstorms) show, he hies himself back in and hides beside me.

Doesn't seem to faze the fox that's started visiting, unfortunately, and snagging some of the younger Dirty Yardbird chooks. We've escalated the projects of clearing brush and making more Chicken Tillers since Fox hasn't bothered any of the birds in the tillers, mostly only the group that insists on roosting in trees and being total Free Range Spirits. Woe betide Fox, though, should Herself spot him/her and she is setting an alarm at random intervals to go make night time rounds. With her Ithica. Which, if she uses it I expect to find Houdini hiding beside me shortly after.

Enough for now. Getting to be time for Evening Rounds, which include feeding two kids.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Bit rainy over the weekend, then a couple days of sun to help us dry out. After the hard freeze nights last week, we warmed up and in fact parts of a couple days felt rather warm indeed. Amazing how quickly one becomes accustomed to extremes, such that more normal temperatures for the time of year feel hot. We are expecting more rain this evening, including thunderstorms again. Yes, odd weather. Odd indeed. And then, in a couple more days our overnight temps will hit freezing again, though not as low and potentially not as long as the hard freeze.

Still, we shall cover Herself' garden again, and most of the Dirty Yard Birds still have their windbreaks in place.

On a photography front, visited with some friends yesterday just up the road a bit. Herself met with several people there for a SCA related group on historical styles and techniques in embroidery. While she did that I visited with my blacksmith friend S, and silently grumped at myself at one point for not bringing one of the cameras. Other than the iPhone that is. Used that to photograph the exhaust stack of one of S' gas-fired forges while he and another acquaintance worked on learning how to braze a thread onto an axle to make the screw and nut for a post vise.

For them it is much about the journey; acquaintance is making the post vice for herself. There are such out there to be had, if one shops around in appropriate places. However, she's decided to make her own. Cool.

I photographed the flames coming out the exhaust stack. This forge sounds like a jet engine when operating, even if not quite as loud. The exhaust is a rectangular flue... S made the device himself. One of the things blacksmiths might do, don't you know. I grabbed a couple dozen photos with the iPhone, which is a respectable point and shoot camera (particularly if one knows some tricks. Guess what, eh!) and provided at least 'sketchbook' material. I will be setting up on another occasion with a somewhat more versatile camera. Photographs of flames, could be quite useful to someone building a larger image from pieces and parts, don't you know.

That's about it for now. Short update, yes. Continuing to wait on jury results for several shows, don't know yet, no I'm not chewing fingernails thank you. Partly that's because I keep them trimmed rather short for Hospital, eh. Not much to chew on anyway.
madshutterbug: (c)2000 by Myself (Weather Cold)
Today is going to be a distracting day. Not a lot of Art is going to be accomplished here, since we are expecting some of the coldest temperatures we've seen in this part of Baja Jorja, in like ever. As in below the freezing point of water. Going to be working hard on the Ranch making sure the critters have what shelter they do and stoking their furnaces with some good eats for the day. Fresh bedding into their shelters. And last thing before heading to the house, disconnect the water points so that even if the tubes freeze, they won't burst because the water will be drained.

Herself and the Garden... well, it is planted with cold-hardy produce and we will still be giving them shelter as well. Planting wire hoops over the rows, then spreading plastic sheeting over that to provide a dead air space around the plants. Even with cold temperatures, that zone will remain slightly warmer and probably enough to keep the plants from being harmed. There are some young trees which will be moved as they are still in their planters. Those will be temporarily located between one of the big chicken shelters and Studio. There's a gap of about two metres there, and should (between the birds and the building) be slightly higher temps and again, still air.

The Barn is a metal roof pole barn, usually open on all sides for ventilation. Now, using tarps and supports, it is somewhat more closed off on the north and west walls, with windbreak provided a bit past the ends. The Bucklings and another smaller pen of young does both needed new tarps for their 'temporary' and movable shelters, those are acquired and one installed already.

That's the big item for the day. Spent yesterday either whipping through all the routine chores or out purchasing some of the things we'll need today. Laundry is nearly totally done, one more load to empty out of the washer (item been soaking overnight), then that too needs to be cold-protected. Cold protection there involves hanging a trouble-light by the washer hookups, after disconnecting those, and turning the light on. Even a fluorescent bulb will put out some heat, enough to keep things from freezing.

Thus not much Art will be accomplished. I mentioned looking at the papers from Red River, and Herself looked at them also now. Did not yet start printing on them, in part for the above mentioned Ranch things and in part for another Time Of The Year chore. Therefor not much to report there. There is another Art Related item to report on, though and off we go.

Some years back I received an introduction to Flickr. At the time this site provided some of the best exposure at economical prices short of establishing ones own domain on the Web. When Yahoo acquired the site, an easy means to import the photos I'd hosted via Yahoo came along. So did a certain... foreboding I suppose. There was a reason I'd stopped loading photos onto Yahoo. Received a couple inquiries about using photos I posted there in publications of some sort. Always for free, you know, good exposure for me and all that.

After some time then I started looking around and feeling some annual angst about renewing the subscription at Flickr (Madshutterbug on Flickr... one of the things about Flickr I don't like is no custom URL and it is a long one to get to the photos...). Changes in the past year accentuated that angst, though I've persevered through them. One reason is the statistics provided there, and over time (and sheer volume of photos posted, I suppose) the number of 'daily views' trended upwards. When I first discovered the statistics, I felt excited by a peak of 15 views in one day! Now, daily views averages between 30 – 50 views and peaks are in the hundreds and not infrequent.

Images are showing up on web searches and getting exposure that way, I'm sure. Still, the annual angst rears its head. Lots of reasons to stay (nearly all the images posted here as a 'Photo Blog' are hosted from Flickr, so changing things would require a lot of editing), including simple inertia.

One of the alternatives I tried is Deviant Art (Madshutterbug on Deviantart if you want to go look). And while I like that alternative, I am also not overwhelmingly enthusiastic. (I know the answer involves that whole domain name thing. Yes. I know that.) My thoughts revolving around DA at first came from a core of putting my more Art work there and leaving Flickr for like everything else. And, indeed, there isn't a large volume of work hosted there, 58 pieces or so. Statistics are provided there as well, and usually run in single digits.

Some of this is, one gets a return on what one invests, and a simple point is I've invested more time and material into Flickr, hence the greater volume of traffic. Both places provide their strengths, both leave some things to be desired.

A couple years ago, Herself pointed me to a site called 500px. The folks that set this site up tried and continue to try hard to show good, recent work. They developed a means to rate the work behind the scenes, based on site user input, and display the pieces accordingly. So I got interested in this and visited, rather frequently at first and then tapered off. Increased frequency in the past few months somewhat in anticipation of the Annual Angst and discovered the site owners provided a means to import pieces from other sites.

Now, that feedback system is open to anyone, but only counts on the images for people who register with the site for an account. Like most places, free accounts are free and easily available, then there are increasing levels of features available to members (we'll say primarily photographers who are posting, though I've no doubt some of the people posting images are the models in them promoting their own work as models) for paid memberships. The fees are fair and reasonable. This site is another one I contemplated with that whole concept of 'Post Here the Great Art, Post There the Good Stuff, Meditations, Etc' two sites plan.

Recently I put up some work on 500px (Madshutterbug on 500px eh!) and watched it over a week. I am still a 'free' account there, so uploads are limited, though storage space isn't. Everything there is transferred over from Flickr, still hosted on Flickr as well. Some will not be immediately visible to anyone who isn't a member (I believe) because it is marked Adult Material and is some of my nude artwork. It will take a couple clicks through to get their message: sign up for an account before we'll show you this. We want a legal disclaimer that you are old enough we won't get in trouble.

It's a much more 'transient' world. One piece did achieve enough views, a high enough 'Pulse' measure, to be put into a category of 'Upcoming' for a while. It's now listed back in the 'Fresh' category, where everything that is posted goes (more or less). If it isn't obvious to you now, it should be that this is some shameless self-promotion; go take a look at what I've posted. Enjoy the other images people are posting. Leave me some feedback on the process.

Still, it's a start at examining another world of exposure (pun intended) and I expect I'll continue along as a free account for a while, watching things as they go. I'll also continue to post things by heading over to Flickr for the image, though I may add some things straight from the House as it were.

Meanwhile, Back At the Ranch it's time to start my movement towards getting out and getting started, even though it's still dark (writing this with the intention to post early). When I'm done with Ranch work there still may be not much Art work, because being after the First of the Year, it's Income Tax Time here in the Hew Ess of Aye and I need to get cracking on that as well.

Day. Oh.

Jan. 2nd, 2014 06:36 pm
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Today is a Hippie Birdbaths, for my sister who is not in the Blog-o-Sphere, and I've wished her the traditional Hippie Birdbaths via the means by which she does visit the Ether.

It is also a Hippie Birdbaths Remembered for both Herself and my fathers, who shared the day though with a number of years (and miles) between them.

We received sufficient respite in the rain today (nearly 36 hours of rain in the past 48) to be able to feed the Goats as well as Hogs & Horses. Then I ran some errands, one of which is to bring home hay to bed down the Goat Shelters because tonight the temps are expected to plummet. All such shelters now bedded in.

Houdini then got a ride in to Archer for a last errand before nightfall.

Some progress, albeit small, made on the Art Printing Front. I opened and looked through the sample papers from Red River Papers which should be a link to their site. Still waiting to print on these papers, which are quite literally marketed as Samples. The company obligingly stamps the name of the paper on each sheet and provides at least two sheets of each as well. I purchased two packages, one for prints, one their pre-scored for folding greeting card stock. The plan is to print one or two (potentially up to four) images on each sheet, and save in the Samples Notebook for comparison.

Then we select papers for projects. Yes. Oh, this is fun, it is. I remember how much fun now, even if this isn't in the darkroom. Darkroom printing seems more magical to me, though there is magic involved in digital printing as well.

Prints into the mail on Monday for MarsCon in Williamsburg Virginia, the Art Show thereof, arrived today. So if y'all are in the area on the weekend of January 17-19 please go to the Con and look at the Art Show.

Houdini says, Buy some of Boss' Art. Feed the Dog. Please.
madshutterbug: (C) 2005 S Grossman (Stalking_Elusive_Photograph)
From the 2013 January Journal, which I am using to start the 2014 January Journal here at the Ranch (not on-line journal, this is a local file):

And I slept through it, well more or less. Kept Houdini inside yesterday evening, and watched a bit more tube with Herself than usual. Stayed home rather than heading off even to neighbors, not sure if that's good for the quiet or not so good for the relationships. Whatever. Off to bed 22:00-ish and read a little bit with H there on the bed. He lay across it rather than along it, making it hard for me to get in under the covers. Until the popping noises started, anyway.

Not very different this time around, other than no tube watching, and no Squrrl. Houdini did join me in bed when I went, near enough to normal weekly time. Snuggled in tight until some when after midnight and the midnight fireworks sounds, then felt relaxed enough to move. I don't know when, I slept through that part. I know he stayed by my side (tightly) until after midnight though, woke a few times from light sleep.

It is raining this morning, not hard yet persistent and as forecast. Likely to be a slower day. We shall see. Things to do none the less. Start cleaning the house, perhaps in the office by the one bookshelf where I want to mount a desk for Herself. Perhaps elsewhere. In fact, while I wrote most of this paragraph this morning, it is still raining this evening as I post this.

So. The Overview.

Set a goal of eight weekend or other type art shows to place work into, completed 10. This means I did well on that goal, and now as part of the overview it becomes time to re-think the business of art planning. Instead of getting into X number of shows, I need to start thinking I should bring in X number of dollars.

Started generating Art Greeting Cards. Printed up 20 leading into December, and sold eight which is 40% of what I printed. Not bad, more Art Greeting Cards to come.

Printing up those Art Greeting Cards moved along the process of re-learning photographic printing. I've now also got sample papers from a paper company, and will start to print on those. They are for a reference notebook, rather than distribution. As in, this is what these photos look like printed on this paper.

Photography sales at the art show/weekend festivals didn't do too poorly. We broke even or made a bit at four of the 10 shows, made sales at two more so over 50% of the shows we sold something. This combined with a couple of sales to people who saw my images elsewhere (not exactly on the Internet, not exactly not on the Internet... make sense? No? Don't worry about it.) and, well, no, we didn't break even as an Artist. However, we did make a good chunk of sales.

Sold a passel of goats going from November to December, with a couple more sales potentially coming up. And, for the local meat eaters, some of those sales will be to the freezer, so the meat will be going to the Farmers Markets we attend for the Ranch.

Because. Because I've been threatening this for ages. Purchased brewing supplies yesterday, last purchase of 2013, to start a batch of an India Pale Ale.

Need to clean house a bit first thought. Plus, the new computer is here, and I want to set up her spot before setting up the new one in my spot. There are a few other things needed for a new PC setup, specifically a new UPS and perhaps a new or simply re-mount a current surge protector. I plan to continue a certain scheme, double surge protect by plugging surge protector into the powered outlet on the UPS, and then electronics into the second surge protector. One for each PC then (a current one will suffice for one). We could also use a new UPS or better surge protection for the entertainment center, to re-route how it is being powered back behind it on the wall.

I think that's the summary... though I know I missed things too.

Took the opportunity during a lull in the rain this morning to go out. Herself fed the bottle kids, I fed the Horses and Hogs which of course includes Ms. Truffles Bigpig. So that at least is accomplished to keep critters happier in the nasty weather.

Following that, started bits and pieces of this and that. Folded laundry, put most away a few pieces to go. Emptied trash bin in office, and in bathroom, those waiting for another break in the rain to take outside. Starting to sort through print samples already done for the reference book.

And... I need a better image cataloging bit of software. Yes, I need one. Tracking down the images to note the source on test prints... aggravating. A wee bit. Sorted through it though. There is a lot more to do prepping the database catalog, at least. And older images, scanned from film, they leave a bit of leeway as well, since many times I'm not going to be positive of the dates. However, the file naming system works well; it's keeping a catalog of where the image is located for easy work (either development or printing).

My most recent experiment is with Picassa, and while I liked it somewhat I don't like that when I re-arranged external hard drives, it lost data. This might mean I can't use the USB drives as I hoped, might only mean I can't disconnect them.

So. Not bored. Definitely not bored. But it is about time to go eat dinner this first evening of the arbitrarily defined New Year.

Oh. And (if this works, been some issues with Flickr image posting recently) Sydney Subaru Outback turned 200,000 miles recently:

Test The First, current Flickr Code )

Happy 2014, everyone.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
I got to sleep in. Waking up is a usual thing throughout the night, as is going back to sleep. Getting to sleep in is not. Last wake up point I remember before the one I got out of bed for was around 04:30-ish, and Herself got up then. I remember hearing the coffee grinder. Then back to sleep.

It's always nice when the coffee is ready when I get up.

So I got up a bit before seven then, took Houdini out for his constitutionals after I did mine and extremely frisky he proved to be. Really quite like, Hey, Boss, the little loud box didn't yell at you to wake up, and so it's a BossStaysHomeDay! It's supposed to be a BossGoesAwayDay but it isn't. Yea! Now, friskiness could be associated with local temperatures, just a shade above freezing and with the breeze out there, perceptually at freezing. However, I'm inclined to think he felt happy for an unexpected BossStaysHomeDay.

I am now am sipping coffee. The roosters are sounding off. Been sounding off for a few hours, pretty much continuously. They sounded off when I heard Herself about earlier. Sounded off in my sleep. Sounded off while Houdini made his rounds. Curiously enough to me, this morning many of them are putting four beats into their crows, even those who normally only put in three beats.

Mer Ree Christ Mas.

There is a basket of glowing balls in the Family Room that wasn't there last night. It is very pretty in the still rather dark room.

Merry Christmas.

I am not sure what the holiday is or means to me anymore. This morning, though, I am glad to discover it does still mean something after all.

Stopped on the way home from Hospital yesterday, a time with somewhat cynical thoughts that suit my attitudes from the previous few weeks. More 'Scrooge' this year than have been for a while. Cynical thoughts but not all of them. First thought leaving hospital regarded how empty Archer Road appeared, there by campus. Road remained fairly clear until I got near the light for the turn to Williston Road.

I'd heard sirens, and one emergency vehicle did pass me while walking out to the car; I found that one and more at this intersection. Despite how light traffic seemed, a couple vehicles managed to mangle each other fairly significantly there. Detoured around the intersection on my way to Butler Plaza.

Going to Butler Plaza for a few items. Found a lot more traffic here, and expected to do so as well. Stopped in at Office Max, picked up another Really Useful Box (this one, first usage actually bring things home, now to be converted over to holding music CD's on the printer shelf to facilitate next today chore), some document sleeves for a notebook binder so I can start keeping an image printing reference based on paper types (re-learning printing, will do so with paper on hand and more papers coming) and a printer for Herself.

Really for both of us. This one replaces the multipurpose one she bought years ago, which is now not working so well (either that or she brought it home from Deltona in the days after Mother Mary died, either way, lots of use out of it, not working so well any more). Folks know the type: printer, scanner, copy machine, fax machine. This one is both wired and wireless network capable, so we plan to use it that way. Also, this one will become the 'text' printer, so printing labels and letters and forms and such. This leaves the Epson Artisan 50 to be exclusively art related printing, which will help on figuring production costs.

Got out and fed everyone for the morning. Easy day on chores, came back into the house for a bit and moved around those printers as needed. Back out, watered birds and provided Hose time for Houdini. Who then also received his Christmas Bath. Once we did that, back inside and installed the new printer. The Epson Artisan 50 I call Mr. Printy, and his purpose is the art prints. I call the new printer Mr. Printshop because that one will take care of the majority of other printing jobs, at least until the HP Laserjet can be cleaned and put back into service.

Headed out late to try to make a last-minute purchase of an ingredient for tonight's dinner. Not disappointed to miss the few stores open here in Rural North Central Baja Jorja, even though literally by about five minutes. Dropped off a small present and card with our friends and partners in the Ranch business, D & B. B had what we needed and gave that to Herself. Then we headed home (about sunset time) and while Herself started working on dinner for us, Houdini and I provided dinner for the Evening Critters, Cows, Horses and Ms. Truffles Hog.

Back inside now; been a good day. Been a good year (granted, still a week to go as we measure these things). The Studio expanded on the number of shows this year, achieving the goal for Eight and adding two others. Ten shows. Next year, perhaps it is time to change the measured goal from number of shows to sales made. We shall see. The gift Art Cards are likely to do well enough, and with Mr. Printy up and running and my own skills at printing improving, the largest amount of 'inventory' is easily replaceable. So 8x10 and smaller are now being printed here at home. Time to replace stock sold, and expand a bit for the matted works, and kick up the inventory on the Gift Art Cards.

I've no problem with wishing a general Happy Holidays. This time of year, there are a number of them packed in regardless of anyone’s faith or outlook. Happy Holidays, as a greeting, actually dates back to my days as a youth; it isn't anything new. I don't totally understand then the seeming reluctance, the apparent concern about being correct to wish Happy Holidays.

Kwanza is celebrated about this time of year, as is Chanukah. New Years for the Gregorian calendar (a world-wide standard, though not exclusive) is coming in seven days. These are the holidays of this season, other than Christmas. Many also celebrate Yule. Or commemorate the Solstice. So. Happy Holidays works.

So does this sentiment, which is tied somewhat to the Christian celebration:
Peace on Earth, and Goodwill to all Mankind.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
With a couple weeks going by and no blog posting, I am feeling like a Bad Madshutterbug. On the one hand, it is a goal to do at least once a week posting on the State of the Artist. Sometimes with visual examples, sometimes without, and still discussing art sorts of things. Betimes this works fine, other times not so much. While not back-breaking the past couple weeks proved to be rather busy. Interruptions might be the art projects themselves, or might be other bits and pieces of life not so much art related. Like, yanno, laundry. And such. Priorities shift about some.

Still and all, recent project(s) which ran concurrently are A) Re-learn printing my own work and B) Generate Art Greeting Cards. Pursuing part A I churned through a fair portion of my paper supply, both the less expensive over the counter papers (I consider these Draft Papers, or Draft Cards, considering my age pun intended) and the more expensive brand-name papers matching Mr. Printy. At the end of this I am able to say good progress is made towards achieving Part A, and for the past weekend Last Show Of The Year I did generate some salable Art Greeting Cards.

Not a lot. A score, as in 'Four score and seven years ago' though I only made it up to one score or 20 cards. Four sold at the Winter Gift Fair, which pretty much paid for the paper used so far to learn and generate product. Herself currently took the last 16 of them over to the Tioga Farmers Market where they will be offered for sale this evening, and any left over will be offered for sale this coming Saturday at the Haile Farmers Market in our last Holidays Craftiness Gift Sales.

Meanwhile, back at the Studio this means I am now able to offer any of my gentle readers that may be interested the option of purchasing Art Cards. The goal here in general is to offer some of the art in a price range which won't seem to break anyones bank. Or as someone said, something in the product line on the order of a burger and fries purchase price. Follow the link to the image which will appear shortly, over to my Flickr place, and pretty much most of the pictures there are available if one asks. Given a bit of time, I'll be generating a catalog of stock readily available (or easily printed and therefor readily available) as well, so you'd be telling me which photos might be popular as cards by doing so.

Peecture Behind the Cut... Portrait of a Mother and Daughter )

Right now I'm printing 'Large' cards. These are 14cm by 21.5cm (5.5x8.5 inches), called 'half-fold' as near as I've learned. The plan is to also print 'quarter-fold' (10.8cm x 14cm or 4.25x5.5 inches) as well as some other sizes. Right now prices are one Large card for $5 US (about a 5x7 print), or 3 for $10. I'll need to figure in shipping for anyone who isn't local, that's sort of still on the to-do list. I am able to accept PayPal, still working on other options. Drop me a note at madshutterbug at gmail dot com if you're interested.

Meanwhile, back at The Ranch one of those distractions mentioned above involves the Goats are Kidding. We are up around 30 kids so far, with the two newest this afternoon. Not that we're too worried about the extra mouths to feed, because we've also sold goats recently, and are looking at a small stock trailer parked on the Ranch today for an order of some more goats. This batch goes live and on the hoof to someone who is shifting the makeup of an existing herd.

I mention that because there are other goats to be sold, but not … As Is. These goats are about to undergo a Change of Occupation (a few already did this). So all in all while one end of the Bell Curve is increasing the other is decreasing so it's remaining rather balanced.

Herself's garden is doing well; it's cold crops now, things which cope well with chilly weather. Chilly? In North Central Baja Jorja? Yes. I've mentioned it before. We do get freezing weather here. Not long, nowhere near the sort that one sees further north of us, yet freezing. Or more often then that, even, Very Cold. Like last night (down to 3 C here) and again tonight (down to 2 C) and for the rest of the week, like that.

The Kittehs of the Apocalypse are telling Houdini he needs to move over in bed, because they want their spots on the Monkey Warmer too.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Since I've not dropped in for a couple weeks, felt I ought to and at least provide some hints about what's going on.

November I did not receive a jury invitation to the Gainesville Downtown Winter Art Fair. So it goes. This does provide time to work on other projects, since there aren't any other art fairs or shows I'm involved in for November. Next one, in fact, is December 15, afternoon, the Blue Oven Kitchens Winter Gift Fair. More later, but put that on your calendar.

Meanwhile, been working on the whole concept of creating greeting cards. Not a lot of work, still in the draft stage here. Two drafts done, in fact, and waiting for Herself to return from Tioga Farmers Market to review them for feedback. One very definitely needs some work, either that or it's time to replace ink in Mr. Printy. Mind you, it is getting close to time to replace ink.

There are two concepts for the greeting cards. One, a standard sheet of print paper (for the digital printer, that means 8.5x11 US size, bit larger than A4), folded in half. Two, not quite that large, and single card, not folded. Both need envelopes for mailing. There is also the possibility of doing Post Cards, using 4x6 print paper. Will contemplate that in a bit.

There are still a lot of prints in the To Be Matted portfolio. Need to get cracking on that as well, so that the overall inventory (particularly of Herself prints) is ready for the Winter Gift Fair. Want to get a better handle on where I am with that as well. I don't count prints as 'in inventory' until I've at least matted and sleeved them. However, there is an inventory of prints waiting to be matted and sleeved... I am simply not sure how many. Sort of don't want to know, as that could prove somewhat overwhelming. However, need to know.

Applications are in for the first four months of next year; one Con to which I shall mail pieces for display, two themed gallery shows (Orlando and Tampa) for February and March, the GFAA Winter Art Fair at Tioga and again the Santa Fe Spring Arts Festival in April. Three of those are juried, and I'm waiting to hear on the juries. I'm also slowly, steadily working on pieces which will be for the two gallery shows. I've pieces printed and done to cover the first (if not quite yet matted and framed), need to finish the pieces for the second.

Back at the Ranch, we've been busy with weekend Farmers Markets, and doing OK on that. Also working steadily if slowly on a few other Ranch projects, chicken tillers for the Dirty Yard Birds (a means to provide them with limited ranging, somewhat free in the sense that insects and whatever can get in... and believe me, with chickens they may well not get out) that move around in the Garden zone so they can scratch and turn the surface in areas, leave their droppings to fertilise, and yet not get at current growing crops.

Crops. Yes. Herself has an area fenced off from the Free Ranger Dirty Yard Birds, and it is doing well. Keeping our attention on it. We are expecting a possible frosty night in a couple days (would be if not the first this season, then the second and I'm not sure we actually did freeze the previous one, though). Not hard, and she's put in cold-hardy crop for the winter so we should be OK. I follow her lead on this; my role in the garden is Heavy Labour, not Growing Things. Plants and I get along very well if one considers Very Well as I eat them, eh.

Thus it is, life goes on.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
I did attend this event some time in the past, though I don't remember exactly when. Long enough ago that the Eagles were a featured entertainment group, being relatively local back then. Over 25 years ago, though, on that I'm rather sure. I recall it being big then, and it's not gotten smaller. Don't know any attendance numbers, can tell you the crowd started early (before 'Opening Time' both days) if small, and then gradually escalated in size. There would be gaps in the crowd, and other times so full that it made it difficult to see the opposite side of the road. The occasional gap in the crowd happened, often when the live entertainment happened on either or both the two stages set up.

Our booth was quite near one of those two stages, situated such that the speakers pointed away from our booth. So I could hear the entertainment and not be overpowered by the sound. If I sat in the chair I kept just out the back side of the booth (the Red Chair, nominally Herself's Chair) I could also watch some of it. All of it proved good, some quite good.

Saturday morning seems like the largest number of people who actually came in to look at photos on that day, with the sales in late morning shortly before noon. Sunday somewhat the opposite, the early morning crowd wasn't interested in photography and the single sale for Sunday in the afternoon.

Business wise, we made half our booth fee, so financially not a total wash and yet a bit of a write-off. Still, I'll apply for this festival again next year. The folks in Micanopy come together as a community to pull this off, and it is a community fund-raiser to help out a number of local non-profit concerns. This includes a local animal hospital (large and small vet), several youth organisations (yes, some affiliated with community churches, and I still support that even if not my belief structure), and more.

It's obvious from the get-go they plan on the huge crowd. Vendors are brought in by a certain route for check-in and setup, the traffic flow is designated as one-way for vehicles during the days of setup and festival. Vendors are told, pull up to your space, unload, then go park before setup. This is enforced; vendors who do not comply are not invited back. Vehicles are not allowed on the street by an hour before show time, and vendor parking is provided (and fairly secure) within easy walking distance of ones booths. They colour-code the areas for setup and for parking. So there isn't a lot of reason not to comply.

They close off certain roads during the show, designate areas for public parking including handicapped areas close by. Individuals may open their yards for public parking if they so choose and may charge for that, others do not or churches put up signs specifying parking for say their church so that they can get their congregation in on Sunday morning. One lot, quite close to the Festival road, put up a sign asking for $50(US) to park. I don't know how many people paid them that amount, as once the show opened, I got not very far from the booth since I worked it solo this year (Herself took care of the Ranch, delivered goat milk to regular customers, and continued planting Farmer Market crop in her garden). Rather the usual answer to the question 'How much of the Festival did you see?' 'Oh, about 9 square metres (*100 square feet*).'

The Booth Photo )

Cut just because, it's not a huge image. I do a booth photo on all of these types of events for several reasons. Documenting each setup to compare with recollection or notes on crowd/flow, because many of these festivals that are juried want a photo of the booth setup to show a professional appearance, and just for myself.

Overall I liked this setup. You can see if you look close there is a steep bit of slope at the front of the booth; we were set up in the parking lane for this part of the road and it also serves for rain run-off drainage. Booth neighbors on either side used tables, and brought blocks with them to help level those tables. I thought about it, and likely will add such to the Physical Plant tote crate for future. This is the first time I've dealt with this much slope, nearly all the sites for anything else proved fairly level or not so much sloped to need major adjustment.

I am also planning to make signage to include in the 'Office Box', one for each side, with notices to 'Watch Your Step: Uneven Ground' for future use, because if it happens once, it will happen again. Same reason I'm thinking about adding some blocks that I've got (they live in Studio as that's where I tend to use them).

So, yes. Enjoyed myself. Willing to repeat at least once.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Well, the feed delivery came. Late, yet it came. Hog feed is now stowed in barrels and the hog pens fed. They are happy; dinner instead of breakfast and they are content. All the others fed as well. Put up two barrels of goat feed, stacked the next two in order, and the remainder is stacked somewhat willy-nilly but stacked. Tomorrow to fill the cow barrels.

Tomorrow afternoon to Micanopy for setup for the Fall Harvest Art Festival. At least I'm hoping I can set up tomorrow; it will make Saturday much easier. If not, it's up very early on Saturday to get set up and ready before show time. Show time isn't until 09:00 so if I get there by 07:00 should be fine.

Pavilion is as tuned up as it's going to get. Re-did the support poles that sleeve into the side art display walls, re-inserted the bungees after moving them for Necronomicon. Found one art display wall with a grommet nearly out, as in torn. That one will need repairs, which I shall do after the festival. Plus I'm thinking about making new walls after two 'years' of service. Nine, ten shows, and these are our own creation. We could purchase pre-made walls from a company that specialises. Far more expensive than what we spent on these, and more than we will spend to make three new ones as well, for all six that we'd then have made.
So we'll stay with making our own for a bit.

I do need to re-think the 'back' wall (as it were) such that we can potentially make a door there; this proved useful at the Santa Fe Spring Arts Festival and will again, I'm sure. Some places not necessary, some not feasible, but nice to have. Part of what makes these walls work is the tension provided by strapping the bungees around the pavilion poles; the back, with a 'doorway' through it, looses this to some extent. To I'm meditating on how to cope. Goal for next calendar year.

At any rate, the pavilion is ready to go, partially loaded into the Subaru. Tomorrow I shall load the rest of the physical plant (pavilion, side-walls, weights, folding stands for matted works, chairs, and such) and drive over to see about setting up. Might not be a Friday evening setup. But I will drive over.

If there's no Friday evening setup, then it's up very early on Saturday and hit the road between 06:00 and 06:30 with the goal being arrive in Micanopy by 07:00 and no later than 07:30. The Festival starts at 09:00, so that should provide sufficient time to set up pavilion and get art up on the walls as well. Might limit how much framed work I take, but still.

So. Time for dinner. Ta for now.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Is... not the greatest today. Been off from Hospital for a week to accomplish much work on the Ranch, and succeeded at most things on that list. Amongst other things, LittleJon Deere Tractor Growliebeast now sports a new front right tyre, and is quite happy about it. More on that in a bit, as it will figure with a portion of the State of the Artist on Art.

Yesterday I started feeling some gut level disturbance, and during the night up several times emptying out the old GI tract. Woke up this morning with a low-grade fever, been resting most of the day. Helps that it's been a rain day. Yesterday we got rain too, but I pushed myself to get two moderate chores done in the House which will improve overall live-ability. Replaced the ceiling fan in the Library/Tube Room, and assembled two small drawer cases which fit underneath our coffee table. The latter two will help Herself organise some of her crafts work supplies, since she does a moderate amount of that work on evenings while watching Tube.

On a heavier note, working, we moved some hay roll bales into the Goat Paddocks. This is the part which will contribute a tad to the Artist side. Teasing? Yes, because more later.

I also meditated on something on Saturday evening while indulging in a Hot Soak Tub. Herself doesn't join me for these, usually, as she says I am actually par-boiling myself. I say I am boiling away my troubles and tribbles. While doing so this time I listened to my Celtic Music playlist, and though about voices. Or Voices, if you will.

One of my co-workers does not like instrumental music, prefers by far and away music with lyrics. Specifically, lyrics in a language zie understands, as well. This rules out most opera, for example. And while I listened to my Celtic playlist, some of which pieces the lyrics are in Gaelic and I speak not a word (well, OK, a very few words) of Gaelic. It's the Voices I listen to. And each musical instrument provides a Voice. All those Voices, combining together to express joy, agony, sorrow, bliss, love, hatred.

I dabble with music. It's been years since I've played any of the instruments (only a couple) that I dabble with.

That's part of the art, and the other part is both Art and Ranch related (here we go folks!) Getting an intact tyre back onto one of our tractors gets a major tool back into the work stream. If one is raising grazing or browsing animals, one is also providing them, periodically, with hay. Purchasing hay is like anything else; the larger the quantity, the better the price. Big round hay bales are usually less expensive per unit of weight than the square/rectangular bales. So we like to buy that way.

Now, one of these big round bales weighs in around 500 Kg dry (do the math, Yanks, or just get over it and learn the metric system like the Whole Rest of the World). Rolling them by hand is quite a workout. Fine if one really wants to burn off those calories, and part of the reason ranchers and farmers need heavy equipment.

LittleJon Deere is a compact tractor; his 3 cylinder diesel is rated to 26 horsepower which is, curiously enough, the same horsepower rating as Harrison Ford 8N. Harrison is physically much larger, and more massive. And still in a tractor coma.

LittleJon Deeres owner manual clearly, quite clearly states not to use this compact tractor to lift large round hay bales. I like to think I'm not stupid, my Grandfather once taught me that ignorance is correctable but stupid gets you dead. I've got a pretty good track record for not being dead so far at three score years and a bit, so I like to think, I'm not stupid.

Crazy is another thing altogether. Hellooo, note the user name on the blog, folks!

And after careful, thorough reading, there is absolutely nothing in the user manual about this...



Moved three of those puppies in about 15 minutes. Now, the credits read one thing. The actual cameraperson is Herself using her iPhone. She watched the little short and mentioned next time, she's going to leave the phone in 'Landscape' orientation. Good plan, I think.

Also done, in free moments over the past week, prepped six images for prints and two sets of business cards for printing. Running out of time for the Autumn festival season to start. Need to get to work on that.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Today will be a moderately short State of the Artist. Yes, I've been getting bits and pieces done on some projects, so progress remains our most important problem. Progress is being made. The next big show will be Necronomicon in Tampa, come October, and there are a couple pieces in particular I should like to be finished by then. One may well be one of the panoramas I posted last week; it occurs to me that with a slight re-title (already done) it becomes an homage type of fan-art on some of the John Ringo works.

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, we've conducted Evening Rounds already. Today we moved a wee bit of feed, and of course got everyone fed. Made a phone call and ordered the replacement tyre for LittleJon Deere tractor. And snapped this photo:

How Gentlemen Border Collies Conduct Rounds

To be fair, Houdini and I already did some walking rounds, going over into the Cow Pasture to move a feed trough closer to the fence so I could fill it, and then checking out the spot where one of our older cows had died. Bones left is all, we brought back her skull and tomorrow we'll go over to grab her pelvis for some projects.

The weather, or at least ambient temperatures, definitely reflecting that we're now into September. The Dog Days of Summer are broke. This morning the temp here on the Ranch was 19C and De Light Full indeed. Got hot during the day, yes, into the low 30's, yet without the sweltering oppressive humidity of August.

For now, it's time for my dinner. Houdini's already eaten.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Default)
It's been another week so it's time for the State Statement, eh. In some ways a lot more of the same, and yet there are other things this time around too. It is now September and while one manner of thinking may be totally psychological, the feel is real to me. Still just as hot as it's been, middle 30's and feeling like upper 30's. However, the quality changes; no longer quite so uncomfortable, no longer. The Dog Days of Summer are breaking, and cooler times are ahead.

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch I finished up a biddy box chicken tiller today. The top and bottom pieces of this I cut back in June, then other projects seemed to raise their heads and threaten us so the two pieces sat on the back deck of Studio. Wire fabric isn't much, you know, yet it does occupy space and it does create a barrier and there it sat. Now these two pieces are assembled with 60 cm high 1x2 cm wire fabric, with a top hatch in place.

This is for young chicks, those hatched out by Herself in her incubator, as they get bigger. Big enough to need more space, small enough to be at some risk to night-time and day-time predators such as fox, hawk, owl, even possibly coyote. The gap in the side walls is small, no paws reaching through. And while the gap in the top is larger, not so large to allow admission to any of the above. When the young birds are big enough that they could be reached through the top, it's time for them to move into a full-sized chicken tiller.

In the past two days we've also sold five goats, all young doelings. Four went to a gentleman who's wanted to buy some of ours before (he came by with a friend then, who did buy) but couldn't afford them quite yet. He is adding to an existing small herd, and very happy to do so. The fifth, today, went to a youngster starting 4H and she will be hand-raising this goat. Todays then is younger than the other four, still not quite weaned (though she is weaned from Mom now, eh) and so we also sent along some goat milk to help the transition.

LittleJon Deere needs a new front tyre, I suspect these may well be the original tyres on this tractor and while tread doesn't show much wear, sidewalls will and that's what failed. This tyre's been leaking since we got him, and I've been refilling him regularly. The last fill I did with stop-leak but that didn't help, or maybe it did and the failure point is a different problem. The failure is a tear on the midline sidewall, nearly 10 cm long, so a good sized tear. It's dead Jim.

A few months ago I mentioned I purchased an app for the iPhone to assemble photographs into a larger panoramic shot. The app is AutoStitch, and I've been experimenting with it somewhat regularly. The current OS level for the iPhone provides the means to do panoramas, but (and here's the key point for me) only in one plane. As in, a series of overlapping photographs along a single line.

AutoStitch allows me to do more of a mosaic of shots, if one will, adding height as well as width to the final concept. This intrigues me because neither the app nor the camera care what the mosaic is; I can photograph scenic panoramas or I can do a panorama of a bodyscape.

The app is fairly simple to use; take the photos either with the camera itself, or through the app. If done with the camera, choose 'Select Photos' to select the ones desired to assemble into the panorama. The default settings for resolution are fairly middle of the road, I usually re-choose a higher resolution and re-assemble the images. As it's working, it provides a brief overview and then tells you how many of the images were used in the final cut. Sometimes things just don't seem to fit so the app won't use those.

I've done some urban ones, but the two I'm going to show are both from here at home, just so I get to say Meanwhile Back At the Ranch...

Storm Over KP Ranch

Storm Over KP Ranch by *madshutterbug on deviantART

This one (actually, both of them) are single-plane panoramas. Storm is one of the first I did, out in the evening to feed the Cows making rounds with Houdini. We still had to feed the Horses & Truffles the Pig after the Cows, so there may be some wonder that I took time to shoot the three or so images that went into this panorama.

Spectrum Interruptus

Spectrum Interuptus by *madshutterbug on deviantART

Again out feeding, this time without so much overhead threat. Turned to the east away from sundown and saw... indeed, the spectrum interrupted across the top of the arc. I suspect heavy clouds between sun and that portion of the spectrum, I do.

Overall so far I'm happy with what I've done. Another step in the experimentation will be to compare the same set of images more or less hand-assembled into panoramas using Gimp yet much the same as when I used Photoshop.®

Both of these are hosted on Deviant Art as noted; I'm still contemplating whether or not I'll keep using Flickr. There's a lot going on there, changes in how the site presents, stores, charges. Not the least thing going on is the number of images I store there for viewing. That's another story and issue though, not for this week.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
This week the state of the artist is... Sore. Achy.

My brother-in-law calls the part of the world where we live (not him, he and sis live elsewhere) the Land of Wet. This time of year North Central Baja Jorja lives up to the description, and this year is doing so with a vengeance. We've received, by our measurement tools, nearly 25 cm (10 in) of rain in the past two weeks alone. The porches to the two house buildings, Big House and Studio are all made from wood; it's economical and I can work it. Get it wet long enough, with the ambient humidity we also deal with, and wood starts getting overgrown with moss, algae, and just generally slimy slippery stuff.

I'd commented to Herself that it's about time for me to wash off the stairs. Sweeping them off wasn't helping much anymore, since with all the rain mostly they stayed wet anyway. The routine includes a pause at the top of the stairs (going up doesn't seem to be as hazardous) to remind myself slippery, careful. And I still managed to slide off one step yesterday carrying laundry over to the laundry room in Studio.

Part of my thought process at the time included 'Well, that's not what I wanted to do'. Part of it marveled at how slow-motion everything seemed to be. And I relaxed into it; one of the few things which seems to remain with me from a study of Aikido decades ago is taking a fall. All of it until I connected with the ground went airborne, and the laundry basket apparently moved my center of gravity over enough to contribute to this. Tucked and rolled soon as my feet touched, and that laundry basket came back to greet me as I rolled.

Might be that helped break the fall. Definitely broke one of the handles on the basket. Side is sore where basket and I connected. Nothing worse apparently. Got up, spilled clothing back into the basket, and carried on getting the laundry going.

And yes, I did scrub off the stairs shortly after that, thank you. They feel much less slippery now.

Houdini is enjoying being 'Indoor Dog Exclusive' though he still does show behaviour that he's looking for Squrrl occasionally. Keeping up with beating down fleas, we've discovered he actually likes Herself's goat-milk soap (one of the ingredients). Specifically, coffee which helps with the itching, and the lye the fleas don't much like either. Unlike commercial anti-flea shampoos, he doesn't run off to roll in whatever after getting lathered up with the goat-milk coffee soap...

In other news, attended the Opening Reception this past Tuesday for the GFAA 90th Anniversary show (and fundraiser) Art for All Seasons. There is a lot of good art there, and not simply for the reason you might see mine, or Herselfs, and decide to buy those pieces I encourage everyone local (and by local here, I may include up to two hours away so Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, eh) to come and see it.

There were prizes awarded for Best In Show, and in assorted categories for first through third places. As is my wont I usually go back to view the winners as a teaching/learning moment and this time around no exception. Nearly all of the recipient pieces I agree with personally and when I first looked at them marked them in my mind as Really Good Art. One exception, an individual I know (not well) through Camera Club #1 of the two we once attended. I think there were better photographs than this one to be selected, however I wasn't one of the judges.

I will say, tight, crisp focus on metallic objects, interesting lighting which didn't overpower coloured highlights are likely what the judge did like, and yes a good photograph. I just think there were others which I liked better.

Other than the free-fall experience there isn't a lot new. One of the cows produced a new calf in the past couple days, which means if all goes well there will be beef for someones dinner, somewhen. Grass is growing, boy howdy with all this rain, so the critters (most of them) are getting enough to eat. Keeping up with a few others, showing signs of wet stress (goats do not like wet; no they do not) which makes them more susceptible to parasites or other disease vectors. Haven't lost anyone so far, though there are several off the market due to being medicated.

As for any new artwork, not so much. Been trying to keep up with things outside on the Ranch. Not too much longer and the weather should start to change. We shall see.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
One of the things which is important in being a working artist is consistency. Keeping things going, working on art. Making regular posts if one is keeping a blog, simply because that consistency provides predictability.

Thing is, I don't have a lot to say just now. Not a lot of art work in the past week.

Tomorrow evening at The Doris is the Artists Reception and opening for the GFAA 90th Anniversary show, Art for All Seasons. This is pretty much it for this week in terms of art related.

We've been working on other things. The Ranch is always a constant. No excuse for being bored if one owns a ranch. Thing is, there too this time of year is basic maintenance because it is become too bloody hot and humid to be doing a lot more. Most of our chores we even try to get done early in the morning or later in the afternoon, before heat builds and after it breaks. So, feed, water, make sure things aren't broken, maintain.

Need to mow again soon in the high traffic areas. We experienced a couple weeks with little rain. Now it's falling again, somewhat regularly. Grass likes it. Not so much good for mowing though.

Did get Herself's new PC set up, and started installing some software. Getting at the data on the old hard drive required some help from a friend and the end result is this:
- Data recovered (includes bookmarks for two browsers), to the tune of 60 Gb or so. Yea.
- Checked the disk for errors and found about half of it trashed. It's dead, Jim.

It boils down to feeling like marking time, getting through the Dog Days of Summer and then being able to get active again. Problem is, there are things needing doing, getting ready for autumn shows and such.

No energy for such just now. Think I'll sit here and breathe for a bit. Yup.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
It's been hot here in North Central Baja Jorja, as well should be expected in August. My mother used to call this time of year the Dog Days of Summer. Houdini neither agrees nor disagrees with my mother; he simply says staying inside in the air conditioning is a good thing. He will come out with us for morning rounds, yet by the time the clock is showing 11:00 ish and the thermometer is showing 33 or 35, he is off to the House. Time for the House, Boss, not even time for shade. K thx.

Today we experienced some really high heat, with a heat index rating even higher (duh). How hot? 37 C which it's too hot to translate for my Yank handicapped friends, so suffice to know that is normal human body temperature, and the heat index put the perceived temperature around 40 C which is Too Bloody Hot.

As for art, been working on transporting pieces to the next showing at The Doris, which starts next week and is part of the 90th anniversary of the creation of the Gainesville Fine Arts Association “Art for All Seasons” (scroll down a bit for the flyer for the show). Herself and I will each show two pieces (the limit for all members) and our prints are all in the 11x14 range framed to 16x20. Her selections are “Mermaid Bath” and “Bahamian Wave”, mine are “Peek-a-Boo” and “All the Modern Conveniences”. So three out of four pieces are showing someplace here in North Central Baja Jorja, one from Cedar Key and two from Dudley Farm near Newberry.

I delivered those on Saturday past, another hot day which while it didn't start off feeling too hot suddenly got rather oppressive at the last hour of Haile Farmers Market. Got home, off-loaded the Market supplies and then helped feed some of the livestock before heading back to the House to clean up a bit, and haul prints to The Doris. Made it in time.

Checked out another local business on the way home, the Repurpose Project. These folks are recycling and repurposing items, pulling windows, sinks, woodwork and such out of older homes being demolished (for example), and other things. I wandered through the place thinking hmm, good spot to find things for the odd project that either a historical re-enactor or a steampunk or cosplayer needed.

I, specifically, stopped because they ran an add which Herself found via FB that they had metal frames on sale for $1 (US) each. I picked up pieces for two, and somewhat befuddled the worker who helped me because I picked out pieces to make square frames. These metal frames would only be 11x14 in size anyway (so take an 8x10 print, and we're moving to framing larger prints these days for display).

The good news is they also have a stock of other old frames, some quite large, so I'll be back. I also found two used portfolio travel cases, for transporting larger framed pieces. Currently I'm using appropriately sized cardboard boxes when taking pieces to weekend art festivals; these portfolio cases will help for things like the upcoming show at The Doris.

I've gotten through both recent shoots for watermarking, still need to connect with the particular models to deliver proofs. What can anyone out there tell me about Dropbox? This came as a suggestion from one of the models. I've got Google Drive as well, which can use for this purpose. Just need contact info for the person in question.

Just now, hearing some thunder in the distance, and Houdini is nudging me for this reason, so it's time to wrap this up and reassure an anxious Border Collie Bro.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
It feels like a long week. Oh, measured in minutes, hours, days no longer than any other week. Measured subjectively, and … a long week.

As a Registered Nurse, this is my 33rd July at a Teaching Hospital. If you aren't in Health Care at all, you may not know what this means, if you are you do, yet you may not be working in Teaching Hospitals and for good reason, because July is when all the newly graduated Medical Students start as Brand New Doctors.

A while ago after reading (or re-reading) Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land I rather decided that I'd apply a concept, or my adaptation of that concept, if I ever found myself saying I hated something. At that point, I would commence to study it (or them, or whatever) and learn a lot more about it, know it quite totally. Only a few things piqued this over the intervening years, and most of them once I'd studied more stopped being something I said I hated.

I. Hate. July.

This is the first year I've said that. And given this is my 33rd July (at a Teaching Hospital) it occurs to me I already did all the studying I need to do. Add to it the few things I've mentioned publicly, and as far as I'm concerned, This. July. Is. Fired.

::sigh::

Now, on the other hand, there are some good things to report. Making progress learning how to work with GIMP. Doing so not quite the hard way, and doing so by working on projects then researching something if I run into snags. Not always researching, today I figured out some easier means to conduct watermarking my images as I worked through a batch from May. All watermarked now, and in the process of saving said files as JPG for web and other distribution, so probably be able to show some new(er) work soon.

Yesterday worked with someone on my Healing Art project; did this session 'on location' at my friends house, where there is now hanging one of the images in the project 'Recursive Series #1'. Some of the work visits that, just because.

Will likely be a bit before I'm ready to show anything from this session, in part because there are a ton of Ranch projects needing work and in part because I hate July and it's still July and bah.

Houdini, however, says it's OK because he is with me and he is enjoying being Indoor Dog.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Paying attention? Looking for the weekly State of teh Artist post? Not seen one for a couple weeks? One of those weeks is on me, I stipulate I didn't make the time. One, however, is on a list of weeks some folks would ask for a do-over. I don't ask for such. I won't ask. I don't want to do the past week over. Nothing happened we can't cope with, live through, deal with. Not a lot happened we enjoyed.

Some good things did happen. Monday a week past I ran an errand into town to hang some of our artwork at The Doris Bardon Community Cultural Center commonly called The Doris. The Gainesville Fine Arts Association is pretty strongly affiliated with The Doris (go read info on the site to learn why) and consequently GFAA members are given space on a monthly basis to hang their work for display and sale. July we are the Featured Artists. It is a big deal, and it's not that big a deal, because becoming a Featured Artist involves telling the GFAA member responsible for the wall that one is interested. Then you get a month.

However, Monday after that started the roller coaster. While driving over to Tioga Farmers Market, Forrest Nissan Pickup lost power, a rapid but not sudden event, and we shifted gears from our usual routine for me to go help transfer goods to Sydney Subaru Outback, send Herself on her way, and wait for AAA Auto Club to get the tow out to us. Dropped Forrest off with our local mechanic, waited for Market to finish and Herself to pick me up.

Keeping things brief, Forrest is back in service after replacing fuel and water pumps, new struts (shocks) in the rear plus a complete tune-up and all fluids/filters change. He feels much better now, at 250K Plus Change miles.

Keeping more things brief, I missed sending Hippie Birdbaths greetings over to [personal profile] wcg here in the Blogosphere; so Belated Hippie Birdbaths, Bill.

We've dealt with two opossum females that were raiding eggs and chickens. Chooks will not be bothered by those particular opposum, nor their current offspring, any more.

Still brief but not excessively, Monday also saw the start of the end of a decade. Squrrl Border Collie Bro felt a bit lethargic on Monday, not particularly interested in dinner (ate some). I attributed it at that point to a very hot day spent mostly outside, though also mostly in the shade. On Tuesday, though, his lethargy increased, he didn't want to go outside and did so only for body functions. Pale gums; Herself started treating him with some supplements to help. Not interested in dinner at all.

Wednesday, breathing laboured, even more lethargic. Wagging tail when I got home from Hospital, not lifting his head. I spent time with him there in the living room, and close on to 20:00 (didn't look at the clock for a bit) Squrrl took his last breath.

We buried him on Thursday morning, next to his brother Smudge.

I will write more, I will, but later. Meanwhile, going to continue carrying on, waiting for Waiting to fill a Squrrl sized hole in our souls.

September 2015

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