Fleece in the Garden

The heatwave rages on. I think I’ve set some sort of personal record for laminating sweat upon myself today, and I haven’t spent much time outside. The contrast between the AC indoors and the humidity outside is just right for provoking a sweat within seconds of walking out the door.

My daughter and I braved the sauna-grade weather to do a bit of shopping today. One stop was JOANN Fabrics and Crafts. Apparently, their business name is styled in all caps. Anyway, whenever I walk into a craft store, I feel a curious combination of enchantment and indictment. I’m awed by the array of stunning craft supplies, but I feel indicted for knowing how to do so little of these crafts.

Of course, the only person charging me with failure-to-craft is myself. I see the rainbow of color-matched fat quarters for quilting, and I feel guilty that it is highly unlikely that I’ll get around to making a quilt. I just don’t want it enough to make it happen, but at the moment I see those fabrics, I regret that it’s not a priority for me. Life is full of skills I’d like to learn but have assumed the time to do so will not be forthcoming.

Our reason for going to JOANN was replenishing our inventory of fleece remnants that we use to line the guinea pigs’ cages. We change the fleeces daily, and the fabric washes well for a few months. Once their ripeness resists washing, they are replaced with new fabric. Today we found an irresistible cat-and-flower fleece:

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My daughter prefers cat-themed fleeces because our elder guinea L’Orange is so tough that he’s indifferent to images of predators.

When we came home, I took a picture of the latest cat fleece posed on one of our flower pots. I like the contrast between the real and the made. The image inquires, “Which is more beautiful?”

It also reminds me of the things I can do and those I cannot. I can tend a garden and take photos, but I can’t make the illustration on that fleece.

I wish I could sew. I’d buy more of that fabric and make a sweatshirt out of it. Would I look ridiculous in it? Probably. Would I be so pleased to wear such a thing that I wouldn’t care if I looked silly in it? Definitely.

I will close with another picture from today’s garden:

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First Fall Photo Walk of 2017

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This morning I headed toward downtown by the Ottawa River. There’s no denying that fall is upon us, even though its official start is more than a week away.

The trees that sustain the most direct sunlight are starting to change color. I also spotted a stray ginger cat sitting beside a walking bridge that spans the river:

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While he lingered long enough for me to take a few pictures of him, he made himself scarce whenever I tried to get closer than five paces from him.

I really adore leaf season. If only it could last long enough to crush the harshness of winter.

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Saturday

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My daughter and I volunteered at our local animal shelter this morning. She just finished her first week of school, so I was pleasantly surprised when she asked me if we could go volunteer at the shelter on Saturday morning.

When I was a teenager, I jealously guarded my Saturday mornings. The only thing that would reliably get me out of bed during that (personally) sacred time was work with a paycheck attached. I was definitely more selfish than my daughter is.

Back to school is a bittersweet time for me. As a mother, I know that a crucial task is teaching and encouraging independence, but the start of another school year reminds me of how finite anyone’s growing up really is. The best part of this time is noticing that my daughter does not suffer from the same insecurities and massive ego I had when I was her age.

For my daughter, school is more like a job than an epic battle of intelligence and approval that it was for me. I was equally obsessed with my grades and unattainable males. She doesn’t care about her class rank. She just gets her work done and closes the mental door on school until the bus comes to pick her up again. She doesn’t notice a boy unless he talks to her and has no interest in dating at this time. This is the complete opposite of how I was. When I was her age, I wasted a massive amount of energy on boys who had no interest in me.

I am so relieved that my daughter is growing into a young woman who is far more confident and sane than I was.

My Puff Bag is Here

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My cat tote bag has been delivered, and I am so delighted with the finished item. The color fidelity is impressive. The image looks just like it did on my computer screen, except that is now imprinted on canvas. Back in the stone ages of digital photo printing, I’d have all kinds of problems with color printing output. I once had a t-shirt printed with a fuschia flower photo that looked stellar on the screen but became the visual equal of tone deafness when printed on fabric. This image of mine looks just like I hoped it would in print, and I am so happy about it.

Creating beautiful images and things has been the dearest wish of my heart for as long as I can remember. I cannot describe how happy I was to hold this bag in my hands and see something beautiful that would not have been made without me.

One Way to Breathe Life into Aging Digital Photos

When I first dove into digital photography 17 years ago, I relished the freedom from film and physical storage that this then-young medium had to offer. I thought I was free from worrying that they’d get lost or disintegrate with age. It didn’t take me long to learn that digital photos are also vulnerable to loss and aging. Files can be lost due to hardware failure and the like. As for aging, I can’t count the times I wish I could time travel and retake old pictures with a higher resolution camera than I had whenever I took the original. There are so many subjects that can’t be recaptured in the same setting again.

This week I revisited the picture I love most of my all-time favorite cat Puff:

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I had the goal of cleaning up and brightening this photo to get a proper print made. I then entertained the potential of doing something a bit more imaginative since Puff is worthy of flights of fancy.

There are several free and/or low-cost photo editors available online. Two I’ve used recently are Aviary and BeFunky. The second service has cool free features, but I tried a short-term paid membership to take advantage of their artsy presets. So far I’m having a tremendous amount of fun with BeFunky’s Photo-to-Art filters.

There’s an ocean of editing and printing services available online. Lots of them could be used to honor some of your digital moments. In the case of Puff’s photo, I was delighted with the options available through BeFunky for editing and RedBubble for printing. You may be delighted at how simple it can be to create something you’ll be proud to carry with you or display in your home.

I first took that photo of Puff and used the Cartoonizer DLX preset on BeFunky. With just the push of a button, his iconic nature became more evident in the image:

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Next I raised the color temperature to add some contrast and saturation to the eventual printed output:

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At this point, the image could have been printed at home, or a photo print could have been ordered. I uploaded this image to RedBubble to see how it might look on a textile item. Btw, aspirations of sales aren’t necessary for using artist-centered printing services like RedBubble and Cafe Press. Anyone can upload their images and create interesting stuff on sites that like. RedBubble has the option of private images, meaning that you’d be the only one who might order items imprinted with them. I’m not sure about the audience options of the other services.

I really liked look of the throw pillow and tote bag. I find it amusing how you can see mock-up photos of the items in a generic, too-clean-to-be true setting. I ordered the tote bag. I’d be delighted to carry some books and a tablet in a Puff bag, but I have a feeling that my daughter is going to claim this one as her own.