Merry Christmas

Well, the holidays are here. I've finished my shopping, given most of my presents, done my baking (with my sister for the first time in our lives- it was fun actually) and now just have to decide if I really am done or not! lol

I've managed to make a blog and web roll (together since I don't want to clutter the page) and kept my own links separate.

And finally, Othmar decided to tag me with the theme 'What I do when I’m not working' which I will answer after the holidays I guess. I hope anyone who comes across this blog has a great Christmas, or whatever holiday you are celebrating around this time. :)

My photo for the season- Mount Baker in Washington State which is viewable from all over the lower mainland of B.C. is one of my favorite landscape subjects. I took this particular picture last year at this time.

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The Pattern And Doll Maker

I got a bit lazy about writing but I got a few things done these past two days.
I finally found a java script that works in both the major browsers that allowed me to get my interactive dress up doll online! I had to rework the code a bit but it works now so if anyone has a secret desire to play with a doll then here you go- but be forewarned: she has no face and rather obvious boobies! lol
Dress the dolly!

Now, on to the patterns!

This is not just about Photoshop patterns although that figures into what I'm doing in a big way. A proper digital pattern is cleverly made to repeat seamlessly when it's used as a web page background. For instance, if you took the image of the little square at the upper right and saved it to your hard drive via a right click, you could use it as a background for your desktop; when you right click on the desktop you get the tabs that let you customize your computer. Under the 'Desktop' tab you can browse to the little square, and choose to 'tile' it. It will make a nice, easy on the eyes kind of background. (If you use XP you can do this directly from the web rather than saving it to the hard drive first. )
Of course you can choose other ones! Here: Plenty more little squares

But getting back to Photoshop patterns: seamless tiles are essentially the idea behind them. What Photoshop allows you to do essentially is 'paint' with them. (In my carny days we used to tell annoying children to find us some 'checkered paint' to send them on a wild goose chase. Of course, now there really is such a thing as checkered paint! lol lol lol)

In the program Illustrator the same concept exists although the tiles are not 'bitmapped' (limited in size). Illustrator, like Corel Draw, is a vector based drawing program and most of the art and design work created in these programs is theoretically scalable to limitless dimensions. Also, the style of vector work is much crisper- even 'cartoonish' if you prefer.

To get to the point, I like making seamless tiles. I have an affinity for symmetry. What can I say; everyone needs a hobby. People who aren't into graphics applications may think this is kind of nuts but anyone who needs a unique pattern to paint with will understand.
Naturally I have more of these things at 12monthsOFwinter at Deviant Art
I'm planning on making the vector based patterns available on my web site (for sale) and just have to figure out what resolution to offer them at. 100 pixels square isn't printable. What you see on the monitor needs to be at least 3 X bigger in order to actually see that pattern print on paper which is why I don't generally post anything over that size. I discovered there is a demand for patterns (having been ripped off on them by various websites) so maybe it's time I tried to really market them myself.


And here are my 'pictures of the day' so to speak; I took this one in the spring of last year. It's a chickadee having a little snack from the bird feeder. I was doing the same thing here at the new place but eventually gave up as the squirrels just got to be to much. They got at every feeding scenario I set up and believe me, I got pretty inventive. There simply is no substitute for having a cat (sorry dog) and at the old place there were 3 of them.

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The photo of this little rascal was taken almost exactly a year later. Him and his brothers, sisters, cousins and other misbegotten relations were so charming in the beginning- like a welcome wagon had arrived. They were so polite only eating what would fall out of the feeder but then they got greedy.
I started practicing with my slingshot on account of them. Yup.

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It's Late In The Year

Kind of like in the old days when I tried to write in my diary every day...except I'm determined to keep it up with this!
A kind of uneventful day although I did manage to dig up half the dahlias and divide the tubers. I successfully grew a beautiful dahlia garden this past summer after digging up my mothers dahlias. I couldn't bear to leave them in the ground because they were her pride and joy and so I spent a miserable week dealing with these massive root systems. Mama always dug them up each fall but would put the whole root ball in storage over winter so they just kept getting bigger each year I guess. They were such a pain to get out of the ground, wash, dry out and then cut up. I wish I had a picture of them in that state and me with only little pruners to work with and a bread knife!

It was pretty easy this year as the amount of tubers averaged to about a dozen per plant and I had used good soil which I laboriously prepared in the spring so I hardly had to dig in the semi frozen (!) ground to remove the plants. Dividing the roots with really big branch lopping pruners was easy-peasy! I also discovered that if you pull on the tubers most of them will come off quite neatly with the 'eye' portion. It remains to be seen if these will grow next year as I haven't heard of anyone doing that. Obviously you can't use the tuber if it snaps at the neck and I kept expecting that to happen but surprisingly it seems as if dahlias are designed to cleave cleanly at the tubers.

I plan on writing a proper gardening article about dahlia propagation (from an amateur gardeners point of view) and will have proper pictures then.


It snowed today- a wet, heavy snow mixed with rain and then finally turned to mist and now it's stopped. As I mentioned before, it's cold enough to freeze water in the top layer of soil. Maple Ridge is exceedingly unpleasant to live in during the winter- that famous damp chill of the British Columbia coast is full blown right now. I'm sure even the ducks think it's nasty. As do the otters. I saw an otter last month. For the first time in my life.

My husband and I were at Pitt Addington Wildlife Management Area which is located in Grant Narrows Regional Park in Pitt Meadows, B.C. . The marsh had a reasonably thick layer of ice covering it and what first appeared to be an old tree stump frozen in the water turned out to be an otter. He seemed to be sunning himself but as we got closer he slipped into the water and popped back up a few meters away- literally popping his head through the ice! He was pretty entertaining. :)

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Grant Narrows Park has striking scenery. I made my second largest panoramic image - about a 180 degree or so field of view from about 10 photographs. The bigger view picture is just over 300 kb. in size and over 8000 pixels wide! lol lol lol Only fair to warn anyone who wants to see it in all it's...immenseness!

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Trying To Write Every Day

Thats the thing, isn't it? You're expected to write something ever day...

I remember when this blogger thing first came up- you could comment in any person's blog- at least thats what I think I remember...now I see this little note that says 'no anonymous posting allowed' or something like that. Hmph. Whatta bunch of spoil-sports.

Oh well, here was my day: I coloured my hair for the first time in many years. Black. It had started to become a hobby to mindlessly pull out gray hairs at the ferry terminal and it was starting to become depressing. Thats all changed now- I'm looking a bit Asian but I like it!

Due to a small error yesterday that I won't go into I wound up shopping at a grocery store that I had all but given up on- their butter (Extra Foods) is almost 1.40 cheaper than where I have been buying it at SaveOn Foods. This is a big deal for us as we go through a LOT of butter. Coffee was also cheaper but despite this I am pretty loyal to SaveOn which is the cleanest, friendliest grocery with the best variety for my tastes. Extra Foods is a bit of a nightmare because it's such a huge box store.

I did the usual housework and then began reworking my web site. I got a new gallery up; Architechture and Gardens which is quite small, and am working on Urban and Transportation. All the current galleries are from photographs that I took in 2005- I have a HUGE archive of imagery to go through. I will share a couple of favorite photos from then and apologize about the overt watermarks- digital theft is a huge issue that I have unfortunately had to deal with and ugly watermarks are the only real deterrent to this kind of thing.

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This photo was taken on a somewhat rainy day in a park in Fort Langley- when I remember the name I will include it here. I think swamps are beautiful but they don't always photograph well but this one turned out nice enough to enlarge and give to my brother as a gift. It's a typical shot of B.C., Canada- very wet!

We were living in Langley at the time and only moved to Maple Ridge in April. Maple Ridge is home of the mountains that we could see looking north in Langley and of course are much closer now.

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It almost seems as if storms get caught up in The Golden Ears as they are called...it's actually a well known fact that the precipitation is greater here than just a few kilometers south. Oh well, small price to pay for having a frame filling view! I did find a good view point in Langley last winter to piece together a panorama for an informal competition- panoramas are composites of two or more images:

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I also wrote a journal article at my main art site entitled Why I Provide Stock about the reasons why I provide stock and graphic resources on that site which is essentially free for amateur artists. I did this because, not for the first time, I have had a request to use personal photos as stock. I had to refuse the last person which was difficult since she is a friend.

The truth is that I hope to eventually make money off my personal photography by using it as paid for stock- I can't very well put other peoples wishes ahead of my own in this regard when there is no financial compensation in it for me. I provide stock pictures that are taken for the express purpose of allowing other people to use those pictures as stock and do not ever want to get put on the spot publicly which is what happened so I had to set the record straight on that.

And finally, to end todays post, I will include a link to what I consider my 'best' photographic work of the year. I got a note from a member of Swankland to submit a 'best of 2007' piece of art work. It was difficult to choose since I dabble in a lot of graphic fields!

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This photo was taken about a month after moving to Maple Ridge. It's a barn just off the Harris Road and the shot was taken in the very early morning after I drove my husband to work. It was very much a shot of opportunity- I have never quite seen the same conditions again yet I know it's just a matter of time and the light can be even better. I only had my little Olympus just-under-5-mega-pixel camera with me (which I still adore to this day as it has an incredible lense for macros) and hopefully the next time the conditions are right I will have the Sony (Minolta) 10 mega-pixel digital SLR.


Anti Whiplash Head Rest

Dec. 11, Tuesday

Blogging seems to have become the biggest thing in the last 5 years but I'm still pretty new to it.
I established a bit of a web presence on a site I made Artemis Graphics And Design, using some basic html coding and at a few art sites 12monthsOFwinter - Deviant Art, and Artemis Graphics And Design - Cafe Press, and forums Artemis Graphics And Design - Corel Draw Forum, but now it's time to learn new stuff. I really didn't know what I would say in a blog - I'm used to writing descriptions of pictures/art and posting the odd journal and forum commentary. It took a really long time to realize that the blog could be used for essentially the same thing- with a heavier emphasis on linking to relevant content.

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So, keeping that in mind, I will be playing around with the features and testing stuff out to see how things work in the blogging world. I just added all my husband's blogs to my links as well as the Outdoor Bloggers Summit and not just because I designed the compass in the logo (!) but also because I am an outdoors person even if I don't actually hunt- yet! I also added a photo to this post to garnish todays post a bit since I'm basically only going to recap my day...the photo incidentally, is the North Alouette River where it runs through the UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest in Maple Ridge, B.C.

As I mentioned in my previous entry, House Hunting In Merritt, B.C., I took the new car- a Jeep Compass- on the road last Saturday and while I can't say enough wonderful things about the way the car handled the hills and valleys of the southern interior of British Columbia, I will voice a complaint that I may actually write to Jeep about: the 'anti-whip lash' head rest.
This is a piece of *ahem* crap that ruined the final hour of driving for me. When I first test drove the car I had doubts about it- even though it seemed to be a common design on many of the cars. The angle of it is such that it literally pushes a person's head forward slightly- what this effectively does is cause a person to hunch during a lengthly drive. I don't like hunching.

I like keeping my back and head straight. I can't keep my back and head straight if this stupid head rest is perpetually pushing me into a crooked shape. A few people have sat in the seat now and none of them think the head rest is comfortable. It can be flipped around of course but then it provides no protection at all for the back of the head.

To make a long story short, I went to the dealership where I purchased the car from but could get no help from them other than the suggestion to go to an auto wrecker- ironically, in the mailbox today was a form letter from them that stated 'Our Commitment To You Has Just Begun!'.

The wrecker said that he had nothing to replace the headrest with so I decided to look for a pillow that I could strap onto the (reversed) head rest. I found exactly what I was looking for and a good alternate in an unlikely place- the thrift store! There it was- a small, firm, wedge shaped pillow with a tie on the back- exactly what I needed as well as a similar sized but tie-less black pillow. Yay!
Why didn't I go to the local Can. Tire you may ask? Lately, Can. Tire doesn't have what I need- there was only 1 single kind of cup holder that would work in the new car and I needed two of them. Expensive...the pillows on the other hand cost me 99 cents each!

So basically, what I am saying is that if you have back issues and are hunting for a new car, do keep this anti-whiplash headrest style in mind. The design for it on the Jeep Compass is far too extreme and out of whack to be healthy- preventing whip lash should be able to be achieved without crippling a person during her drive.

*end of grumpy rant*


House Hunting In Merritt, B.C.

Last Saturday (Dec. 8th) my husband and I got up at 3:30am, packed our gear into the new car, and headed off for Langley to my cousin's place. My husband and my cousin's hubby were going for a day trip of hunting in Hope and I was going house hunting for the day in Merritt- possibly Kamloops as well depending on how much time it would take. Hope is about an hour or so from where we live and Merritt is about 2 hours. It would be a great test for the new car.
I made a little map using Google.

Ernie brought his daughter along who looks as if she will follow in her father's footsteps- become a hunter that is. After breakfast and refueling in Hope we parted ways in the bitter cold before sunrise and I headed out on the Coquihalla Hwy. for the first time in my life as a tourist. I used to drive this road when I worked on the carnival pulling a trailer and always hated it but now, in the new 4x4 and at my own pace it was a total breeze! The sun was shining and it was crystal clear for most of the trip until I started to get closer to my destination. It looked as if there was either a fire in the valley or possibly mill smoke pollution. It took me just over an hour to get to Merritt since I stopped several times to take pictures.

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I entered town from the Nicola Avenue exit and turned left on Voght street which took me to the southern end of town where I wandered aimlessly for a bit. There were new homes going up in the area but this wasn't where I wanted to be. I turned back around and headed back up Voght which took me back though town and up to the Coquihalla and the new development area. Ernie had said that Merritt had grown quite a bit but I didn't see it except where the highways came together- thats where the Canadian Tire, Walmart and Extra Foods etc. were all located. The old part of town had several empty businesses that were for sale- no doubt shop owners couldn't compete with the big box stores but technically you could say that Merritt was growing - just in a different direction.

I passed on by the Century 21 realty office because I really wanted to find Tim Hortons and have some proper food and another coffee. I checked the local papers, read up on the local businesses from the yellow pages, and generally took note of everything on my map before heading back out. The realtor I spoke with gave me loads of information and of particular interest, a map of Lower Nicola where two houses in our immediate price range were for sale. After thanking her I headed out- I got on the wrong highway and debated if I should continue on to Kamloops since I was headed in that direction, to talk to a realtor there as was part of the original plan, but decided instead to make a thorough job of this area instead so turned back and headed toward Lower Nicola. Once I was on that highway a lot of memories came back from my first year on the carnival- I believe that was before the Coquihalla Highway was built. It's an incredibly beautiful and historic place- still full of abandoned old homesteads and gentle slopes on either side of the valley.

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After taking several pictures of the homes in question and general scenics I decided that while I was there I should also check out Logan Lake which had cheaper homes for sale. Mostly out of curiosity of the possible reasons beyond it's isolation and the fact that I had never driven there before.
What a waste of time.

What a horrible drive this would be if there was snow. Like a mini-Coquihalla but steeper and curvier. And this was on a great driving day. The town itself is nondescript. There is nothing there beyond a bare-bones community surrounded by wilderness. Pretty, yes, but thats the only nice thing I can say. Ernie later told me that if you don't have a job in the mines there is no work in the area.

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I tanked up, bought a hot chocolate, and headed off again but got slowed down by a cattle drive. About 750 head of cattle the cowboy told me. They just kept on coming....it was the best part of having visited Logan Lake. I took more pictures on the highway and eventually got to Ashcroft which I would like to have explored a bit but decided to make tracks as it was getting late. Just before Spences Bridge I photographed mountain sheep (Bighorns) on the highway.

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I debated stopping at the Bighorn gas station to see Claude and Linda who I met while working on the carnival but as it was getting darker and I was on the Trans Canada Hwy. heading home through 'the canyon' and wasn't sure about the road conditions.. The road wasn't too bad actually- I fueled up in Boston Bar and Othmar finally called me about an hour outside of Hope. We agreed that I pick him up at Ernie's which I did- neither one of them had got a deer but interestingly they found a bone heap in Chilliwack- either a local butcher or the local natives had been using one particular place in the woods for a long long time to dump the remnants of slaughtered carcasses.

On a somewhat related note, last Friday I shot a buck in Maple Ridge- with the camera of course!

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