Friday, December 31, 2010

Ringing in the New Year

I have discovered that there is not much I enjoy more than ringing in the new year with performance. As part of my participation with Cycropia Aerial Dance, I think I will have more such opportunities. Last night we performed, on stilts or otherwise on the ground, at the Potawatomie Casino in Milwaukee, WI. We were in a banquet hall while guests were drinking and dining, and our efforts were improvisational and frequently interactive with the guests.

Getting Ready

The fabulous costuming was courtesy of one of the troupe and also one of the dancers. She is pretty amazing in both capacities. She also sets the plan for makeup so we are generally pretty coordinated.

Ready to Perform!

The night was fun for us and the audience seemed to appreciate what we brought to them. With a bit of a paycheck involved, what is not to love? This seems to be a new years resolution I can live with!

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Season's Greetings

May you fully enjoy this holiday season.

Season's Greetings!

For those who, like me, celebrate the solstice as Yule, the celebration is already morphing into, "are the days longer yet?!" For those who sillybrate Festivus, carry on! I hope your Hanukkah was lightful. Io, Saturnalia! Happy Boxing Day! For those who are celebrating a secular Christmas, may you get all the stuff you hoped for! And for those who are celebrating a religious Christmas, I offer a sincere welcome to the Son. For all I wish a relaxing day with friends and family.

Season's Greetings!

And next week, a wish to you for a happy new year (or happy Hogmanay, if you prefer) with the best of your dreams coming true. But first you have to know what your dreams really are. So have a bit of holiday cheer, then nap contentedly in your favorite chair and let your mind drift about and discover your real goals - and then remember, and act upon them.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

High Tech Stilts

Last night some of us were rehearsing for an upcoming performance. The act involves performers on stilts and on the ground so we were practicing weight sharing and specific tricks. Then when we were done "working" Mr. B. pulled out his new jumping stilts. These are to wooden (or PVC) stilts what a motorcycle is to a minibike.

Stilts Go High Tech

Of course, all that machined aluminum and fiberglass (or carbon fiber if you have deep pockets) comes at a price. But if you want to jump on stilts, these are the way to go. Here Mr. B. takes a cruise on them. He has not yet reached the jumping caliber yet, but he's pretty dogged and determined so I suspect it will not take long.

Test Cruise on the Jumping Stilts

Others tried them as well. I have not yet, but the offer is there so I am certain to give them a try. Time to dig out my knee and elbow pads!

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ooh, I can Help With That!

Our newish feline companion Nala has now been with us for three months. In past posts I have told you that she has been quite skittish yet making improvement and settling in slowly but steadily. In the last week or two we have made fairly dramatic improvement.


Reena had a small task trimming the edges of a piece of fabric to use as a veil in a recent dance performance. There being no convenient sewing table around, she draped the fabric on one of the settees and started trimming. Nala perceived this as V-E-R-Y interesting and jumped right up to see what was going on. She was sort of in the way, in that way that makes cat "owners" think their cat is cute and endearing.


Among other things we learned that Nala enjoys being covered up with said scrap of fabric. It is transparent enough to let her see through it, yet she must think she is hiding. She purred quite contentedly. Other ongoing breakthroughs include a continuation of the pick-her-up-and-hold-her game so that she gets acclimated to such treatment. She still does not think it is a great thing, but she is no longer freaking out. And this week in particular she has acquiesced to sitting on the settee with me; me lounging lengthwise and her nestled between my calves, often falling asleep or merely lounging with her head on my calf. THAT is the beginning of the lap cat we wished for. Gentle and diligent training (for both of us) is paying dividends.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Change Your Perspective

The world of photography seems to have few rules, but the ones that you do run into seem to be pretty universal. The first is the "rule of thirds". I break that one all the time depending on what I'm shooting. The other one is "Change your perspective." The other day when I was shooting a snapshot of the new baby of a friend, a change of perspective seemed appropriate.

How we see them...

We ALWAYS look at the baby. I had a wide angle lens on the camera, so I flopped to the floor and snapped a baby's eye view of things. It cracked me up.

How they see us...

Proud mama and friend coo and smile at the wee bairn. Just how the heck do you suppose the little one feels about it? Socialization starts really young, eh? Interesting what a change of perspective will do.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Morning Rime

Our first winter snow fall left Madison covered with a thick layer of white. It was not much of a storm here (other parts of the state received over 20 inches) yet it snarled the city in ways that seem peculiar to me. It is clearly not without its beauty however. And today's special mix of conditions added notably to it.


The lakes are still open - that is, not frozen over as they will be in another week or so - and this morning we had temperatures of -5 (F). As you might imagine, that created quite a bit of steam coming off the water. There was a slight breeze, so the steam hit shore and coated all the trees with rime, a specific sort of frost. It seemed to be pretty localized, though I was limited in time and did not follow the lake shore extensively.


These photos, and others at the front of my Winter 2010 SLIDE SHOW at Flickr were taken at James Madison Park. They are worth looking at in the larger size. New images are up front in case you already visited the slide show. Enjoy!

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Creating Reality

Illusion. Selective focus. Creating reality.

The Setting
The boudoir

Creating an intimate setting in a studio can be a challenge unless said studio is graced with a large budget and equally large storage for props. Quite a lot can be done with simple things that allow a small space to be used in a carefully orchestrated way. Crafting with a goal in mind helps. For this setup I also put myself in the shot to "hold space" and see where my light really was.

The Test
The test shot

The pose is not correct as I had my camera on a five - not ten - second timer, and it did not matter if it was spot on anyway. What I was looking for was the quality of the light and the completeness of the illusion. My subject will be a lovely woman clad in a sheer top and perhaps nothing else. Since the top is black and lacy, I might mask her eyes with a band of black lace to create a dash more mystery. The image, and others in mind, will be a gift for her partner.

The Illusion
The illusion

Simple props, used carefully and with selective vision, create bits of magic and art. Tests like this help me see the details, like wrinkles in fabric drapes, and I can correct them before the client arrives. This is the part of my work that I love.

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First Winter Storm of 2010/11

Much of the city was shut down yesterday as we received our first winter storm. As a native of the area, it always seems strange to me that the media weather advisers go into such a tizzy. It's snow. We get it every year. Six or seven inches of it is just not that big of a deal here. Yet apparently it is to those who fear easily (and boy, have we had fear shoveled at us non-stop since 9/11). To those who opt out of hunkering down and choose instead to go about life, the results of the fear-mongering are both pleasant and irritating.


Those who did more yesterday than shovel found a city wrapped in beauty. Trees were coated with icy snow; statues had one side blanketed in white; rosy-cheeked people were smiling and thoroughly enjoying being out (except those too ignorant to wear a hat and gloves). There were no lines anywhere I went. Of course, hardly anything was open, which was the irritating part. My plan for the day included visiting the downtown public library to return a video and find some new reading material for the week. It was closed. Strangely, every coffee shop, bar, and candy store was open and had customers coming in.

Unusual View from the top of State St. (DS3_9439)

So in lieu of a book, I got a cookie. After the class that got me out of the house, I wandered around the Capitol grounds and area and took photos. At noon everything was pretty nice. By 3:30 the temperature was dropping, the strong breeze became a sustained high wind, and my face wished for a scarf. It was not enough to send me scurrying indoors, but it portended a colder night and next day. I am correct: As I type this at 9:00 AM, the temperature is 1 (F) on its way to a high for the day of 5.

If you missed yesterday and want to see the beautiful but not-terribly-severe results of yesterday's storm, there is a small set in a slide-show HERE.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nothing To Whine About

I have been a little bit whiny about the temperatures for the last few days. I don't mind temps in the teens (F) but I like to have a period of adjustment before we get there. It seems like we went from 60's to low double-digits in just a few days. Then I saw these guys.


Now that just has to be cold work. I have nothing to whine about.


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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Welcome to Winter

Madison had its first snowfall a couple of days ago. I knew it was coming - the airwaves were a-twitter with the storm we were going to get walloped with - and went to bed with no snowflakes descending. I awoke uncharacteristically (at least since I changed careers) at 6:00 and was brain-restless. So I eased out of bed and put on some warm clothes. We turn the heat down to 56 degrees (F) at night because the down comforter we have is so doggone warm, but crawling out at o-dark-hundred is sort of brutal (not that I'd really know that since Reena is usually first up, but it sure sounds tough). Peeking out the window confirmed the arrival of the white fluffy stuff. It was still pretty dark out and I did not have much to gauge the depth of the fall.


As the light came up it got easier to tell, and it was clear that our sky-is-falling storm was about three inches. Pfft! That is hardly worth shoveling. But after getting roundly and deservedly criticized last year for crappy plowing, the city had plows out to make the road safe for bad drivers.


Well the sun came up and the snow slowed to a ... what? a trickle does not sound right. I need a word people! ... little bit and life went on. Being more motivated than I, Reena went out and shoveled. She saved clearing off the car for me, though, so I did my part.

Welcome to winter.

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