My Blog List

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I'm Back

Well, I had planned to do some whiny little post about the "Summer of My Discontent" where everything went to hell in a hand basket.  They combined three hospital;, my niece ran away from what we now call her insignificant other, arriving back east with her things, two dogs and a two year old; my filly had a hideous hock injury which went from being life threatening to performance squashing, to healed completely with no ill effects, and oh yes, my mother broke her pelvis.  Gee can life get any more fun than this? Oh I guess this a whiny little post.  Oh well.

Anyway, some nice things happened out of all of this.  I lost ten pounds, have gotten into really good shape, and have started writing again.  Who'd a thunk it. Well now on to the point of this post.  It's fall and the light and color really won't get this good again until April, so make the most out it. I took these shots with my walking around camera and edited them in PS and PicMonkey.  OK Vaquero Girl stop laughing right now.  I know what I said, so now I'm taking it back.  Don't I get some credit for fessing up? So here's what I like from this week.

So now on to my very first book review.  Something that I'm not very good at, but oh well.  The book is Dixie Divas, by Virginia Brown. For those of you who are serious, intellectuals and like books featuring torture, neurotics and tedious amounts of introspection, you can walk away now, this book is not for you. But for the rest of you, first a piece of advice:  DO NOT READ THIS BOOK IN A PUBLIC PLACE WHILE ENJOYING ANYTHING LIQUID, if you don't want a totally humiliating experience featuring said liquid and your nose to occur, it's that funny.  If you laugh like a hyena, you might want to skip reading it in a public place period.

Now what is this book about. It's about a group of ditsy middle aged women who enjoy life immensely and solve a murder.  I've given some thought to whether only southerners would find this funny and the rest of you, after a chapter or two; would toss it away, thinking to yourself, "only a superficial wombat would like this book,and Maia what does that say about you!"

Well that's all for now.  Stay tuned.  If I can get away from the hospital, the barn, and the ongoing soap opera featuring my family, I will be back next Sunday.  About the soap opera, I'm having a real hard time deciding which one of them will get the Betty Davis award this year, for the most over the top dramatic performance by an actress in a tortured role. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mercury is Retrograde

Is all hell breaking lose around you?  Are your cars breaking down, your camera's malfunctioning and well is just whatever can go bad heading in that direction.  You can blame it on the retrograde.  For a very good definition of this lovely little mess up time, go to

So, from now until August 4th, whenever things go wrong, just take ten deep breaths and tell your self, "self Mercury is retrograde, so what did you expect?"

Here's a list of what you should not do during the weeks of retrograde.

1.  Buy a new car, or anything else electronic.
2.  Schedule surgery, unless you have a life threatening condition that demands immediate action.
3.  Send your manuscript, painting, ect to an agent.
4. Sign a contract.

This is a great time to clean your closets.

Anyway, that's all for now.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I'm Back, Sort of, Kind of

I recently received an email from an old friend who follows this blog wondering where in the world I was.  Well, here's my story.

While all of you were being brutally honest about your trials and tribulations with your horses, yours truely was slinking around in dark corners, thinking to herself, I'll talk about this problem later.  I bet those guys out west will have some great advice.  I'll just tell them about tomorrow. What am I talking about.  The nightmare of weaning Jolie.  Or as the husband says, "My you have interesting horses. Who knew horses behaved like this.

So here we go.  When Jolie came back from New Bolton, I decided to be proactive and take the weaning bull by the horns.  I scheduled for Kitt to go to a really wonderful trainer, to be taught western dressage. So Kitt was supposed to go off property in mid November.  In the beginning of November I contacted the trainer to set up the removal of the mommie horse, only to be told she had the great, good fortune to be able to train a wonderful young stallion. So could I wait until January.  "Sure," I said, "why not."

Now we fast forward to late November and Kitt is acting like Jolie is plucking her very last nerve.  So the barn owner and I discussed it and we decided to move Kitt in with the other horses in the far field, where she would not be able to see Jolie.  The day came.  We led Kitt out.  She walked away and didn't look back. Being incredibly naive about this process we gave each other the high five and thought, "my this was easy. What's all the whoo hahh about weaning.  This is a piece of cake."

One weak later, we found out what all the whoo hah was about. Kitt had had her vacation and wanted back.  Her way of demonstrating her displeasure with her new living arrangements was to go on a hunger strike. After three days of her not eating, your's truely caved and put her back.  After all January wasn't that far off.

Fast forward to January.  Guess who's still at the trainer's barn? The stallion that's who.  So Kitt can't go there.  We asked every barn owner we knew if they'd take Kitt for awhile and there wasn't anybody who could. I also asked all of my experienced horse breeding friends and they said to just wait it out.  If she gets hungry enough, she'll eat.  They obviously don't know Kitt.

In late February, we decide to try again.  She lasted for two and a half weeks.  She did not eat for most the last week and did not drink for the last day. She was so weak and out of it, that I decide to put her back.  My equine vet was furious.  Kitt was skin and bones.  Her pulse was weak and her heartbeat erratic. Just about at the time I decided that Jolie would probably be nursing when she was ten, the trainer said she could take Kitt in early April.  So instead of being taught western dressage, she was frantically trying to find ways to fatten her up and get her healthy enough to be ridden at all. She stayed there almost two months.  And for almost two months, yours truely was shuttling between two barns.

So now I have Kitt back home, gaining weight, and acting extremely jealous if I spend one minute with Jolie. And to make matters worse, the hospital system I work for has decided to play 52 card pick up, blending hospitals together and closing some. In short I have 8 plus hours of high stress chaos and work and now that it's 100+  degrees, my horse activities consist of hosing down horses and franticaly applying fly spray.   There's no time for anything.  But I promise to try and be a bit better moving forward. 

Oh yes, I had a lymes flair up. It was just lovely. Anyway, I'd like to leave you with my favorite shots from this chaotic time

Have a great 4th of July and I do promise to be better.

PS:  PicMonkey is basically Picnik.  It does some things well, but if you want to take it to the next level. you are going to have to learn PS.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

RIP Picnik

Well it's gone and I for one am going to miss it.  It allowed you to do interesting things really quite easily. Sigh.  What do I use to process pictures?  Full blown Photoshop with several plug ins and actions.  They really do make life easier.

The question you need to ask yourself when thinking about a new photo editing tool, is what do you want to do with your pictures?  If the answer is take nice snapshots that will allow you to remember life's better moments, then any free service will do fine.  I'm serious. There's no need to spend any money at all.  I haven't checked them all out, but Picassa comes to mind as one that would do the job.

However, if you want to do better.  If photography is something that you really want to explore and excel at you are going to have to buy a version of Photoshop.  There really isn't any other choice right now.  Elements is much cheaper and easier to understand than the full blown version, especially if you get Scott Kelby's book, "Photoshop Elements for digital photographers."  Just take a look at Karen, over at the Rough String Ranch's work.  She has grown so much, she could go pro and sell her work in a gallery.

Here are some of the things that you'll be able to do in PS Elements that you can't do anywhere else.

1.  Save your file for the web and other devices.  Pictures are optimized for the web in a way which is different from the way you should save them for print jobs. 

2.  Sharpen you pictures effectively. 

3. Work with levels and curves.

4. Work with layers and actions.  This is not scary stuff.  I'm sure picnik was using both in some of their neater effects, they just didn't call them that.

This is just some food for thought.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Favorite Shots from a Clinic I Photographed

I really like these pics and I thought I'd share them with you.

Have a great week.

Friday, April 13, 2012

At Last

Well folks, I finealy have a cowgirl.  It's only taken me twenty three years.  Her mother went "ooh, I have poop on my shoes," when I tried to introduce her to the wonderful world of horses. So I figured ten was too late to make introductions. Not wanting to let that happen again, I decided eighteen months was just about right.  Here's what happened when I took her to the barn.

As we were driving up the driveway, her eyes got huge and she started jumping around in her car seat, yelling "hoses, oh hoses."  She could hardly wait to run up to the fence and here's what happened when I introduced her to my other little girl.

And she didn't want to leave.  We almost had to pry her away.  Oh yes, her first word, after mama, dada and the ever popular, "no" was hoses. That's pronounced with a soft o

Maybe it's too soon, but I think I've got one.  Oh yes, to continue the excitement, I intend to take my phone and skype at the barn.  Red hair and loves horses. It just goes to prove that if you're willing to wait, you sometimes actually get the whole enchilada.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cropping with the rule of thirds

Ok, here we go with the infamous rule of thirds. Whenever you crop in PS or PS Elements, you will see a grid. These lines are the thirds and you want your subject or in the case of a portrait, the eyes, to be on or near a line or where the lines cross.  Here are a few examples:

This automatically creates a more pleasing image.  I don't know why, I just know that it does.  Also it works well if you can have something to anchor the shot in the bottom right square and space in the top left.   So when you're shooting give yourself plenty of room to crop.  The picture is in there, just let the grid lines help you find it.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Photography Lesson - Composition

Well I've talked about fstops and processing pictures, so in upcoming posts I'm going to give you some hints about how to see the picture in the first place. A very wise old professional photographer once told me that all the technical knowledge in the world won't help you if you can't "see" the picture.

Moving forward, I'll be posting about:

1. The rule of thirds
2. The S curve of beauty
3. The sweet spot
4. Giving your subject space

And a few more things.  Don't worry, this isn't tough stuff, and it's not something you can't learn. After a while it will become automatic and you won't even have to think about it.

Well I'm at work, so I'm signing off.  Stay tuned.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Fox Hunt

Fox Hunt, oh Fox Hunt, how do I hate thee.  Let me count the ways.  Well to quote that great midtwentieth century pundit, Mr. Buddy Hackett, "I hate thee with hot heaping hunks of hate."

Let me set the record straight.  This is a no kill hunt.  Though I suspect that every now and again they run into, quite by accident, a corpse, which makes their entire week.  No I hate them for other reasons.

Let me set the stage.

It's a beautiful fall, winter, or spring day and you are at the barn grooming your horse, when like the theme song from Jaws, you hear it.  A far off thundering of hooves growing closer, and closer until like some malevolent force of nature it's on top of you. Actually, for the sake of accuracy it's on the next door farm, but who cares.  There they are screaming and shrieking and blaring horns as the gallop across the fields. And lets not forget the dogs, barking their fool heads off.  And we are not talking about ten or twenty riders. Oh no, there are about fifty hunt club members and when you add in the officials and all of their jolly friends and relatives, your talking about almost eighty screamers. And since they all ride at different abilities, it takes them a good hour or so to pass through.  As the dust settles, you turn and face your bug eyed, freaked out horse and realize that whatever you had planned was not happening.  So, all you can do is try and calm you horse down before turning her out and heading for home.

A friend of mine is a trainer and she was working with a two year old green broke gelding.  He was peacefully grazing in his pasture the day the hunt passed through.  The poor little boy became so hysterical he broke through the fence, injuring himself. When my friend caught up to him, he had crossed the road, and was halfway through the corn field heading for the highway.  Now to be fair the hunt club did help her catch him, pay his vet bills and had her fence repaired.  But still.

I have to hand this to them, they are really talented riders. Several of them carry flasks as they ride. Now I don't know about you, but if I was sipping straight burbon, or scotch or brandy while I was riding, I wouldn't be galloping over the countryside, jumping four foot fences. Nope I would be eating dirt the first time the horse turned a corner at a walk.  And several of them are pushing eighty.  So when you realize the athletic achievement of a bunch of half looped senior citizens, they really do have to earn some modicum of grudging respect.

PS:  I have tried every way I can think of to get back to the old dashboard and turn off the comment setting, but I'm not having any luck.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Get Ready California

Batten down the hatches, hide the valuables, ect., ect., your truely is coming to San Francisco. Yep this September the husband has a convention there and I'm coming along.  Soooo, I was wondering if I could meet some of you guys for lunch?  Let me know,ok.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

We Had Winter For Two Days

I guess it was fun while it lasted.  The horses seemed to be having a blast.  Once again, Joe Camp, you are proven right.

Have a lovely week.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Who Knew?

I was showing my "baby book" to a riding clinician whose clinic I had photographed.  The book obviously included this picture.  He took one look at it and stopped dead in his tracks.  He went back to it three or four times. He said, "she's going to be a palomino, right?  I said yes.  And being the bragging sort that I am when it comes to her, I added, "and you should see her spin.  Tom showed her how to do it once on a lead line and she loves it.

Well folks he turned to me and said, "Would you mind emailing me this picture?  A friend of mine is one of the top reining trainers in the country and I know he'd like to see this and don't be surprised if you get a phone call.

"She is not for sale." I quickly said.  No, no and no.

But as I was driving away, I thought about the owner of the Arabian I used to exercise.  He had a foal, who at five months could jump a four foot fence. I just about had a heart attack the first time I saw her do it.  I went to the owner and said, "You know with that kind of talent and natural ability, you really should send her, when she's older, to someone who could make the most of her.  Give her a job she will love and excel at. He looked at me, and said, "Maia she was born on this farm and she will die on this farm."  The last time I saw her, she was close to seventeen hands and a beautiful paint.  She was also bored out of her mind.

I know I don't have to do anything today, but I suspect the time will come when I will.  I was sort of hoping we could both learn western dressage. But you never know.

PS:  If I were starting out with photo editing software I'd buy Photoshop Elements and the book PS Elements for Digital Photographers.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Photography Lesson - Actions

Actions are tools that you use in processing.  The ones I'm going to talk about here, The Essentials Set from Paint the Moon, can be used with both Photoshop and Elements; and will make a huge difference in your shots with just a few clicks of the mouse. 

Here we have a shot I took at a recent clinic.  It was shot in raw and isn't too bad.  A little dark, but it's alright.

The composition is good and everything is in focus.  Now watch what happens when I use the "Punch it Up" action from the Essentials Set.

Now we're getting there, but still it could be a bit better.  So I'm going to use the "Luxe Color Boost" action.

To do this took me all of five minutes.  Without the actions, it might have taken me hours. 

Now let's go outside.

Our original.

Once again, not too bad. Interesting composition.  In focus.  But I think it's a little too blue.  So I'm going to use the "Warm it Up" action.

Hmm, getting there, so I'm going to use the "Paint on Vibrant Color" action and lower the layer opacity to about 30%.

Now I like it. 

This action set costs $45 and will make a world of difference in your pictures.  They load right into Photoshop and I'm guessing they load right in to Elements as well.  Now I can just hear you guys thinking to yourselves, "Actions, Smacktions, Maia would you please speak English.  I have no idea what you are trying to tell me here.  The Paint the Moon website has great tutorials which will explain exactly what an action is, what a layer is, and how to use them.  Do yourselves a favor and take a look. You won't be sorry.

Monday, January 2, 2012

When The Moon Hits Your Eye ...


Squigg:  "There she is folks.  Isn't she beeutiful."  Sigh. "Her eyes the color of a summer sky.  Each little whisker perfection."

Dweezil sticking claw down throat making gagging noises.

"Everyday I try to visit her.  I could spend hours just gazing at her loveliness."

More gagging noises.

"At least once a week I try to drop off a little present.."

Dweezil interrupting:  "Ah yes, a nosegay of deceased rodents, just the thoughtful gift every young lady wants to receive."  Hmm," tapping claws against cheek.  " Doesn't each nasty little corpse have a special meaning? Oh yes, I have it now., it's ratties for remembrance.  Or more likely in her case, mousies for misgivings might be more apropos. He thought for a minute and then finished with, "See a hare? Do beware."

Squigg laying ears back and looking annoyed.

Clippity clop, "Hi cats, it's me Jolie. Guess what I learned how to do?  Wanna guess, wanna guess?"

Dweezil: "Ignore it and it might go away."

"I can crisscross my front feet while turning, here I go." Jolie says pivoting around. "Well cats wasn't that the coolest thing ever."

Squigg:  "It's time somebody taught you some manners, missy. "It's Mr cats."

Dweezil:  "Why to I have to keep correcting everybody? It's Sir Dweezil and Mr. Squiggman.  I would think by now we would all understand these very clear social distinctions."

Sqigg: "Why do you get to be Sir Dweezil.  Aren't you the one who was born in a barn, while I was born in the lap of luxury, the adored only son of ...

Dweezil: "A woman of the streets and god only knows who."

Sqigg laying ears flat back and switching tail. "Don't you insult my mother.."

Jolie contemplating things:  "I know what a woman is and I know what a street is.  What to you get if you put the woman on the street."

Dweezil rolling, beating paws on the ground, holding stomach and laughing his head off, "snort, cackle, this is too good. If you put a woman on the street what you get is.."

Smack, swat,  smack, smack smack.

Jolie, jumping up and down :  Oh a fight, fight, fight.

Maia:  That's it! Stop this fighting immediately.

Jolie:  What would you be, if you went out on the street Maia?  I don't think it's possible for you to be Squigg's mother.Would you turn into another lady cat?"

Maia: "Enough. Jolie, stop this ridiculous line of conversation this minute. Sqigg, Dweezil, shake paws and stop fighting right now.  What is it with you two?  Why is it whenever I let you post something it always turns into this?  First we had perverted boy coyotes and hairdos down there.  Now we have nosegays of dead rodents and street walkers. I am mortified. Mortified, I tell you.  Sigh, what am I doing wrong.

The animals heads down start slinking away, except for Squigg who turns his head and whispers, "Sir Squiggman here. I think we all realize which one of us brought up nosegays of dead rodents and street walkers.  The lowlife who was born in a barn."