Pears On A Plate


This image was taken in 2013, edited in LR and never posted. I love pears both to eat and to photograph and have hundreds of photos of them in my catalog in various arrangements.  I had intended to use this image to play with some textures but never got to it.  I’m always pleasantly surprised to find some of these long-forgotten images that I had filed away as life sped by.

My siblings and I have more on our plates than three pears these days after our 88 year old father tripped and sustained two bleeds within the brain after face-planting on a concrete sidewalk. (He said it was the hardest concrete he had ever felt!!)  Lucky not to have broken his neck nor any bones, he was flown to a trauma center where he is now improving and undergoing inpatient rehabilitation.  Short-term memory, balance, weakness and vision difficulties are being addressed by his team of therapists. He was primary caregiver to our 87 year old mom who has memory issues and they still lived independently in their home of 50 years so there are lots of emotionally draining issues to deal with as he recovers and we see the extent of recovery.  I am not complaining (nor are my 5 siblings).  We are so fortunate and blessed to have him in our lives for so many years. We know that he would be there for us if we were in his situation.  It is especially difficult for him since he has had to change his mindset (he is a retired surgeon) and learn how to become a patient

Just wanted to explain why I’ve had no time to visit and comment on your blogs.  I stop by as I get a minute in order to refresh and feed my inner artist.  With the impending closure of the EV, I did join the Facebook group but never did spend much time on FB before and even though I found time to post a few images this week, I usually just loiter in the background as a diversion from real life.  I do hope to continue occasional posting on my blog but please forgive me if I limit my commenting to a “like”. Whether you comment or not, I do appreciate your visits to my off-again, on-again blog.

Dad would love nothing better than being out in his yard mowing and pulling weeds so as I go about my spring yard work, I’ll be thinking of him and what a privilege it is to be able to do those mundane everyday tasks.  Just another reminder to all reading this to enjoy each and every moment since everyday life as you know it can vanish in an instant.  Wishing you all well and hope your plates are full of beautiful things.


Oh, how sweet the light of day, And how wonderful to live in the sunshine! 

Even if you live a long time, don’t take a single day for granted. 

Take delight in each light-filled hour, Remembering that there will also be many dark days.

Ecclesiastes‬ ‭11:‭7-8 The Message


Enjoy the Silence…(of a still-life subject)



O wind, a-blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song!

(from “The Wind” by Robert Louis Stevenson)

The wind…oh, the prairie wind…we never seem to run out of wind… 30 and 40 mph blowing out of the west and northwest sending dried cornhusks, twigs and branches everywhere.  So strong that it takes your breath away and so noisy one cannot think.   The Nanking cherry blossoms (about 1/2 inch in diameter) that I gathered for a still life are deceptively delicate looking but stood up to these winds, dropping their petals only when I brought them inside out of the elements.  Perfection was not my strong suit this day…I found I really wasn’t having much fun arranging and rearranging every petal and branch to the perceived standards of the still-life scenes one encounters on the numerous photo sites and blogs.  Theodore Roosevelt said it in six words, “Comparison is the thief of joy”.  Some days it is just more difficult to set aside doubts about the quality of one’s photos and just DO it, remembering that done is better than perfect.   (50mm lens at f 3.2)



These images (with the exception of the final two) were all taken using the 50mm 1.8 lens.  My mission with this still-life was to become reacquainted with this lens since I usually keep my favorite 24-105 zoom lens on the camera.  I rather like the dreaminess which results from using it nearly wide open with its very shallow DOF even though it has vignetting especially noticeable with my white on white still life.  I probably would’ve added vignette anyway so this saved me a step. May try adding a texture to some of these at another point in time.  (50mm lens at f 2.5)



(50mm lens at f 2.5)



A tighter crop of the previous image (50mm at f 2.5).


( 24-105 f 4.0 Zoom lens at f5.6 and 105mm)


Tighter crop of the previous photo. (24-105 f 4.0 Zoom at f5.6 and 105mm)



Theme: Baby, I Love Your Way


Ella is 29 months old now and quite entertaining in between the “terrible-two’s”.  She insists on sitting at the table on a big chair for meals although she will cooperate with me for a high chair meal if it is particular messy (well, what isn’t messy for a 2-yr-old?)  I dished up a plate of cheese and crackers for her snack and sat back while she ate, hoping I’d get some good photos.  She doesn’t fuss when the camera comes out but usually can’t be persuaded to look into the lens or even my way.  Ask her for a “selfie” where she gets to push the button on the camera and then run to sit with me in front of the camera and watch the light blink until the 10 seconds is up and she is full of enthusiasm.  So I’ve contented myself with photographing her as she goes about her daily life without specific requests.  The continuous shooting mode is my friend since she is so fast moving.  “Don’t walk if you can run” is her mantra.


She was doing a finger-play here…don’t remember if it was “Bringing home a baby bumble bee” or “Wheels on the bus”.


As a baby she was taught to communicate in sign language by her daycare teachers…eat, drink, more, all done…but these are seldom seen now that she is talking.  She still has times when she jabbers or “speaks Norwegian” as we call it, especially when “reading” a book.  She’ll start with a few clear words, then the middle is filled with a long string of words known only to her and finishes with another few words.  It is also “read” in the same expressive tone that the adults have used to read to her.  Very entertaining to “Gamma”.



I think she was telling a joke!  Toddler humor!


My favorite scrunchy-face smile!  We love our “Gamma Days”.




Theme: You’ve Got A Friend In Me


Stephanie often works as a vet tech when she is home for a visit.  The clinic where she works sometimes has cats to adopt that they have rescued.  Butterscotch (above) was a kitten they had taken in and then adopted out.  When his family got a divorce, he was returned to the clinic.  Unfortunately he developed a taste for electronics cords and destroyed many at the clinic so they were very hesitant about adopting him out again as an indoor cat.  An outdoor farm home was thought to be his only option.  Soooo…he arrived at our farm.  Scotty is less than a year old, neutered, had his shots and has intact claws.  He loves people and attention.


He was taken to the sheep house and “locked in” with cat food and plenty of places to bed down.  He didn’t do much venturing out for about 3 weeks because of the extremely cold weather but one had to be very fast closing the door so that he wouldn’t follow.  Every day warm water was taken down there since we weren’t sure he’d found the sheep waterer yet.  Eventually he found his way outside through the sheep door and acquainted himself with our other barn cats.


He is very bonded to people and the minute he hears someone, he is johnny-on-the-spot and follows them.  Fortunately he is smart about cars and tractors and keeps his distance.  But he is very quick and has sneaked into the house behind us on several occasions.  For the first days after he found his way out of the sheep shed, he would spend his days up by the house, mournfully meowing, trying to change my mind. He’d sit outside my sewing room window or any window where he’d hear voices or see a light.  Several times he found his way up a fence and onto our roof.  I heard meowing when I was upstairs, glanced out the window, and there he was…lurking outside on the rooftop.


He has made friends with Stella.


He is quite a nice accent to the newly fallen snow and doesn’t seem bothered by it.



Exploring in the woods…


He is rather bothersome when Rick is trying to work in the shop and nips his hand if he doesn’t give him attention.  Rick says he can hardly wait for gardening season so he can follow ME around.  He has a few lessons to learn about living on a farm.  Hopefully the learning curve won’t be very steep and he’ll have a long happy life.

Theme: Waiting for the Sun


We’ve had a preponderance of overcast skies lately without much opportunity to appreciate the morning sunrise.  A couple of weeks ago, I rushed out with my camera before breakfast, putting outdoor clothes over PJ’s so I wouldn’t waste a minute.  Had to pause and throw a stick or two for Stella since she never fails to bring one up when she sees me outside.  The stick becomes smaller and smaller with each toss as she eagerly grabs it and returns it to me for another go.  I made my way past the sheep house without Scotty the cat following me (more on him later).


Facing east, and approaching the Guardian Tree, I managed a few photos before the clouds covered up a sky that had hinted at so much color.  A disappointment in the amount of color produced was balanced by the stillness and peaceful solitude of the winter prairie pastures…frozen and seemingly lifeless…resting and waiting for the next grazing season.


It was a Saturday and there was no activity on our normally well-used county road to disturb my morning meditation.  The air was brisk even though we didn’t have much snow cover… very cleansing to body and soul.

Of winter’s lifeless world each tree

Now seems a perfect part;

Yet each one holds summer’s secret

Deep down within its heart.

~Charles G. Stater


On A Farm: Year of the Sheep


This blog has been left untended for entirely too long as I busied myself with the other activities of daily life but I feel inspired to return to blogging with the start of the Chinese Year of the Sheep.  It is literally going to be the year of the sheep for us here on our farm as we will have almost 150 ewes which will lamb in the coming few months.  This could mean 250 lambs if the ewes have the number of twins we’d like.  They are flushed (given increased feed and nutrients) in the fall before the rams are turned out which helps to increase the incidence of twinning.  We do have quite a few ewe lambs (first time lambing) so that can decrease the number (and they are not as good mothers with more difficulties).


We purchased 20 Rambouillet-type ewes this fall which adds a little white-faced diversity to our black-faced Hampshire and Suffolk crossbreds flock.  One can really see the difference in fleece with their thickly wooled bellies and legs and the lush quality of the fine fleece of this wool breed.  Hamps and Suffolks are primarily meat breeds.  The difference in fleece was very noticeable when they were sheared the first week in February…The white-faced ewes averaged 10 pounds of fleece priced at $1.30 per pound and the crossbreds averaged 6.3 pounds at $.60 per pound.  ($3.78 per crossbred ewe which just barely paid for the shearing).  What the crossbred ewes lack in wool production, they will make up for in pounds of lamb produced as their lambs are generally faster growing and larger than the white-faced…especially in the feedlot.  It’s kind of a fun change to look at those white faces after always having the black-faced breeds.


Thinking that I might renew my interest in spinning now that we have some high quality wool, I did save back a fleece to tinker with this year.  My spinning wheel and drum carder need a bit of refurbishing after sitting in the attic for almost 40 years (can it be that long??) When we were first married (and before becoming busy with 3 daughters), I had a keen interest in spinning and weaving.  Sounds like a good activity for the Year of the Sheep!


Stella is excited about the Year of the Sheep also.  In her opinion, the more sheep to police, the better she likes it.


Ella enjoyed a cushy ride on “Brownie”, one of the few named sheep on our farm.  Doris, the ewe with the droopy ear in the background is one of the other “pets”.  Stephanie will spend spring break at home along with one of her fellow vet students helping to lamb out ewes.  No Florida beach for her!  (and that’s HER choice)


We were blessed with a mild, sunny, slightly-above-freezing day for shearing.  The shearer arrived at 7 AM and finished the approximately 150 ewes by 5 PM.  It’s a back-breaking job vital to the sheep industry.  I’ve posted photos from sheep shearing in previous years so search the blog if you’re interested in those pics.

Our winter has been brutally cold (have had double-digit-below-zero weather in the past weeks) but without the heavy snows that those in the eastern US have been enduring.  Only have about 10 lambs thus far which is a good thing considering the temperatures.  Although the ewes are locked in the barn at night, it doesn’t take long for wet newborn lambs to turn to lambsicles in the cold.  Even frequent around the clock checking of the ewes isn’t enough sometimes especially if the mama has twins to lick off and encourage to nurse.

It is nice to see the daylight hours becoming longer even though sunshine has been a scarce commodity.  Looking forward to browsing my seed catalogs this weekend.  Wishing you all a wonderful weekend doing what you love to do!



Hello, 2015 !!!!!

I had great plans of heading back into photo blogging with renewed vigor in 2015, however, things don’t seem to be going as planned.  My laptop with all my editing programs and plugins has been misbehaving.  It is a Windows 8.1 system which  I HAD been getting along fine with until about a week ago when it suddenly  began restarting Windows randomly with various errors such as Memory Management and IRQL not less or equal (Greek to me!).  Tried  a system restore to a time when it was working fine but that didn’t seem to help.  Took it in to the “Dr” and it was thought to be fixed with just installing a couple of program updates that had been missed.  Worked for about 2 days and then the errors began to recur again.  So it will be back in the “hospital” Monday before I lose MY mind.  Couldn’t even do some tagging in LR without it shutting down.  Fortunately I was able to get all my latest photos backed up on the external and on DVD’s so I’m covered there.   So now I’m on to Plan B until my uncooperative assistant is put into a better frame of mind.  I have a few photos that I had edited during the year that I never got around to posting so I will start the year with those.   I’ll have to make up 2015 theme posts when equipment allows.   Then I think I’ll crank up my sewing machine or the knitting needles for a change of pace.  I hope that your  2014 ended more  smoothly  than mine and that 2015 is off to a great start for you.

Continuing the “Apple” Theme from my last post, here are a couple of photos of my granddaughter, Ella Kate enjoying an apple.


Ella is about 26 months here and insists on having a whole apple which she then eats almost completely…including the core!


And  of course, she is the apple of my eye!!

Theme: It Was a Very Good Year…(for apples)


All the stars aligned this year to produce a bumper crop of apples on our farm.  Bees, weather, and moisture combined at the ideal time.  Last year we had hardly an apple and this year the branches were breaking with the abundant production.  We have a few summer varieties which helps to spread out the season, but most are fall-ripening Haralsons that we started in our yard almost 40 years ago when we were first married.   The Honeycrisp and State Fair varieties that were planted in recent years in the tree belts are just beginning to produce.   I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but it can, at times, seem like too much of a good thing.  I don’t know why I feel as if I can’t let one apple go to waste!


Although we threw many apples over the fence for the enjoyment of the horses and sheep, there were still many bushels to pick before freezing weather turned them to mush.  Seems as though everyone in this area was equally blessed so I couldn’t find many takers for a free box of apples.  We made applesauce, pie, and crisp, and crunched on apples fresh off the tree.  The grandsons are big fans of frozen applesauce that is sweetened with a bit of honey…but my freezer holds only so much…and I’m tired of preparing apples.  So…the last boxes sit in our porch which maintains a cold but above-freezing temp in all but the most below-zero winter days.  Apple desserts will taste better after a month’s break or so.  Maybe I’ll dig out the crockpot apple butter recipe too.



Since I had so many “willing subjects” on hand, I decided to cook up some still life photos and process them instead of cooking in the kitchen (which has grown sooo old).  Following are some of the results… Hopefully they’ll prove to be tasty to the eye.





Same image as above with different processing and a layer of texture (by Kim Klassen) with masking.


Chalkboard texture (by French Kiss) added with masking.  I learned how to expand the canvas on the right and bottom in PSE as I had cropped too closely in camera while framing the photo in camera.  Seems to be a habit of mine to not leave sufficient room for flexibility in composition.

Apples103114web-5            Apple112514web-2                                 Apple112514web-3-1                            Apple112514web-1I hope that wasn’t too many apples for you!
















Theme: As Time Goes By (or suddenly it was December!)


The calendar pages have been turning so quickly since I last posted.  Oh my, already December, and three months since I’ve tended this blog!!  I swear that the months had only 15 days in them!  We had a wonderfully long fall this year and it kept me outside tending the yard and garden and when inside, dealing with the abundant harvest.  Always something to do and with the winter looming, I felt as though each nice day needed to be spent outside before the cold weather confined me to the indoors.  Still, there were things left undone outside when Mother Nature sent us winter with a vengeance.  Our weather has been unseasonably cold…just this week we awakened to find the thermometer at a -6 degrees F.  It has seemed more like January instead of late November and early December.  I see the snow-effect falling again on the WordPress blogs…these photos have REAL snow falling in them.  Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge for details.  They were taken November 14th and as I recall, it was only in the single digits that day as a high.


As much as I love the freshness of a bit of immaculate white snow covering the top of the now drab and bedraggled landscape, I still wasn’t ready for the decreasing light levels and diminished energy levels of fall….pitch black before 6 PM does not make for much evening project ambition.  It’s so much easier to succumb to the comfy chair-with-a- blanket-and-a-cuddly cat-syndrome and watch a TV movie.


As always, keeping the feeders filled for the birds has been a never ending task.  Even though there are still many dried seed sources (such as coneflower) and apples hanging on the trees, the birds really love the sunflower and thistle seeds that are easy pickings at the feeders.



Though I haven’t been posting or blogging, I have continued to fill my hard drive with photographs. Photo editing is at the top of my list after Christmas decorating.   Hope to share some of the fall’s activities with you on a consistent basis during December before the year draws to a close.  But today is my “Ella day” and I get to be giddy and foolish all day long as I play with a 2-year-old toddler who now calls me “Gamma”.

Theme: Ain’t No Sunshine (or Farewell to Summer)


“Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone…”…and she’s been gone a week now.  Back to vet school…how can it be that she’s starting her third year already?  We saw a lot of Stephanie this summer since she worked here on the farm.   Her previous summer job in a lab at a seed treatment company was phased out when the company changed ownership.  So she managed the sheep flock and cattle herd, fixed fence, sprayed weeds, painted, served as a 4-H dog show judge in two counties, and worked the sale barn weekly with a large animal vet… among other things.  This was her last full summer home since her clinicals will run through next summer and into her fourth and final year of vet school.  Our nest will finally be empty, I’m afraid!  She will be coming back to South Dakota to practice since she has been receiving in-state tuition rates (still an amazing amount of money) with the stipulation that she practice here a year for each year received.

I don’t know where the summer went (you are probably tired of that phrase by now, but I can think of no other way to say it). It almost got by without any photos being taken of Stephanie and her favorite horse, dog, and cat.  We quickly planned some shots with the horse the night before she left and were fortunate to have cooperative weather and cooperative subjects even though the sunset wasn’t as spectacular as I might have wished for. It is amazing how quickly the light fades when one is setting up an equine along with a person.  It is what it is, though, and I’m thankful to have gotten the images that I did.  Bear with me as I post these many poses… I was unable to choose a favorite.  They were processed in Lightroom 4.  No textures or other effects were added, although I will try some more artsy things later.


Winning Melody is a 21 year old P.O.A. (Pony of America) mare who was Steph’s 4-H horse.   An all-around performer, she did showmanship, trail, reining, barrels, pole bending, western riding, and played games with her at the Fun Horse Shows.  She shined at barrels and poles.  Mel has aged gracefully  except for some respiratory issues during especially dusty and high-pollen days.


It isn’t often that we are so green here in the Dakotas at the end of August.  Timely rains and moderate temps have been the rule rather than the exception.


As the days become noticeably shorter, I dread the return of the thick shaggy hair coats  and the taupe and white landscapes of winter.  We haven’t had enough miserably hot days to make me wish for snow.


“There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be.”

Andy Adams


This is one of only a handful of times that Stephanie has even sat on Melody without a helmet…we are adamant about helmet-wearing.  Even these few moments without one made me nervous as accidents with irreversible consequences in the form of head injuries can happen in the blink of an eye. Melody wishes to apologize for the state of her tail…she was pastured next to some of the sheep who will chew on anything they can get their mouths on.


 “Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery