Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Odds & Ends

...just rambling...

I'm sitting here today just catching up and organizing things. I'm going to be out of circulation for a few weeks for a medical procedure so there's a lot of small stuff to take care of.
I'm a cancer survivor. I had a couple of previous surgeries to remove my thyroid and many affected lymph nodes to which it had spread. I'm having some more surgery next week to remove some malignant nodes in my neck that have returned. They can't get it all but I've lived with it for 12 years, so no reason to think I can't continue to do so. According to the docs, although it's not a minor procedure, I'll be out of hospital in a couple of days and should recuperate quite quickly. 
Yesterday I had the pre-admission appointments at Toronto General prior to the surgery. I wanted to share what an interesting experience it was. For those who have gone through this, usually you go 'here' for paperwork, then 'there' for bloodwork, then 'there' for an EKG, then to the anaesthesiologist's office for a consult, etc. This time they put me in a little exam room and all of the necessary people came to see me instead, one after another! It certainly was much more user-friendly and they had their act together: I didn't have to wait more than a couple of minutes between appointments!
And of course this digital world we live in is conducive to virtually instantaneous sharing of information, so everyone had access to all of my history (what year did you say you had that gall bladder surgery? Our records show it was in 1973...) This could be a good or bad thing, depending how you look at it. Now Princess Margaret Hospital has given me direct online access to both my upcoming schedule of appointments and also to test results. So instead of having to wait two weeks, then trek all the way downtown to sit with the oncologist to find out the results of a CT scan or MRI, I was able to see the actual radiologist's report online about two days after the test. That waiting was always the worst part (of course if they found something bad, I would imagine they would phone me).
So last night, I got email notification that there were new results available and I was actually able to see the results of my CBC blood tests, just like the doctors do:

A screen grab of just a small portion of the test results. FWIW, everything they checked was in the Normal range.  Well, except for one thing, but they didn't give me a hard time about it. I'm just a wee bit short for my weight. In fact, my BMI is off the end of their chart. Have to do something about that when this is over.
By the way, I had the test just before 2 pm. When I got home just before 8, the results were already there.
So I should be back blogging in a week or two, but I won't have taken too many new pictures. In fact, I've decided to send my camera and some selected lenses in for inspection, cleaning and service while I'm in. I'll let you know how that turns out when I get back!


On April 16th, I'm participating in the Cops for Cancer event at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre. I've teamed up with my friend Sean Shapiro and will be having my copious curly locks shorn publicly to express my support for cancer research. Not only my support, but YOURS! The whole idea is to raise donations for the Canadian Cancer Society. 

I didn't know what to put down for a goal so I think I set it too low. Don't let that daunt you: please take the opportunity to donate to this critical cause. Here's a link to my personal page on the Cops for Cancer site. Please visit it and make a donation, every dollar counts.

And yes, I'll post bald pictures after the fact!

It's  been an easy winter and although we shouldn't count our chickens (you KNOW there's going to be more of it before real spring sets in), it's +11°C out there today and although there's still snow on the ground and ice on the lake, it'll be gone soon. I'm not taking the chains and plow off the ATV yet, though!

I only had one day of dripping water in my entry (did the roof last year. Can't figure out where it's still coming from!) and although the sump pump line froze up again I have it under control (Note to self: you really have to address that this summer!). Everywhere you walk is muddy right now, it's not my favourite time of year.

I'm stepping down as president of the Haliburton Highlands Camera Club next week, just because I think that other people should guide it now. When the club was founded two years ago, we assembled a talented and selfless team of people to run the operations and judging by the enthusiasm and activity of the membership, they've done a great job. Some of us are stepping back and some new people are coming in. It's good to see. I'm sure that the goals of the club – a friendly learning and sharing environment – will be well catered to.

The growing skill and artistic vision of the club members is portrayed in a rotating slide show on the website greeting page: (link) take a minute to view it, you'll enjoy it. It's gratifying, when I wear my teaching hat!
By the way, watch this space for an announcement of what we're planning as a show and sale of some fine images from the club members, as well as a lecture by a renowned wildlife photographer. Tentatively scheduled for May 2016

Speaking of artistic endeavours, I'm gaining a little more confidence in my painting. For the first time, I tried painting something other than rocks and trees, and it didn't come out too bad!

This is a portrait of a Pine Marten based on a photo taken in Algonquin Park a few months ago. It needs a bit more work and more back story but it tells me that maybe I can draw, just a little bit, so I'm looking forward to trying more things. Right now it's about learning techniques that I can call upon when I need them. 

And yes, that's what a Pine Marten actually looks like! Someone on the Algonquin group in Facebook gave me a compliment: "hey, I know that animal! He's the one at Mew Lake"! Think I should try people now?

I wish I had started painting 20 years ago. It's a bit of a late start at my age.

Gales of November

Lots of chatter, lots of interest, still waiting for people to book the second weekend! It's possible the October 27-31 weekend will be geared more to intermediate shooters... but that depends on who books.

The booking page was down for a while but it's back up. For more information on this awesome workshop opportunity, go to www.photography.to/gales.

OOh, a secret!

I'm not allowed to say who, yet. One of my pictures has been selected for a very prestigious organization's promotional brochure. Although I won't get paid for it (yeah, what else is new? LOL), I will get VIP access to one or more of their events. I can't say more until they give me the go-ahead, so watch this space!

Dog Sled Derby

The Haliburton dog sled derby was last weekend. I was out both days and, as a camera club colleague said, "I near to wore out my delete button" when editing my pictures! I shot about 500... and while there were a large number of technically acceptable images, they all tended to look alike and were consistently boring! More and more, I feel the need to tell a story in my pictures.

I think this shot does that. If you want a picture of dog sledding to put in the dictionary, this would do it! I spent some time working on the background to make sure the trail was there to show where they came from and I softened some of the detail to give it a more painterly look. I'm being critical, I know. Now I'm wondering if I would have the skill to paint this! 

However of all the pictures I took that weekend, here's my favourite:

A variety of 'cute' captions come to mind: "Let Me Out!", or "The Evil Eye" but none of them tell the truth.

I did three versions of this shot. The most dramatic was this one:

...which I like but it's only about the 'evil eye'. The wider picture above tell the story better. By the way, if you're feeling bad for the dog, don't. First of all, dogs love their 'crates', it's where they want to be to feel safe and secure. And people who feel concern for sled dogs don't understand: do you think an Olympic marathon runner needs your pity when s/he is exhausted nearing the end of a race? Same thing.

I said three versions. The third one, a crop between these two, was preferred by the majority of my Facebook readers and I get why. I prefer the story of the top one. But here's the third one, with a 'story' added:

Be afraid. 

Some wildlife pictures to close out the blog this week.

I've seen, and even taken, better bald eagle pictures. Especially at the Canadian Raptor Centre. But this is in the wild (well, sort of: it's overlooking the Scotch Line Landfill, just north of Minden). Again, it's that story telling side of me that makes me like this one better. The bird is dead centre, I know. He's small in the picture. The lines are static and horizontal. But this says to me that an eagle stands proudly alone and is the monarch of everything s/he can see. 

About a minute later. Going out for lunch! 

Ruffed Grouse. On the way home from the dogsled races. The lesson is, always have a camera ready, because I only got a few seconds to shoot this guy, from the car window! A few minutes later I came across a wild turkey and a couple of deer, both of which I got shots of but this one is my favourite of the three. 
OK, see you on the flip side, folks!

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