Relaxing: …. In Photoshop?

How could Photoshop be relaxing?  Well, for one thing it’s not 110 in my house!  That’s helpful because it is about that outside. I walked and swam this morning, but that was before 8:00 a.m.  If you are thinking about coming to see me, you might want to rethink coming in late June through late August.

I started another blog on Blogger and am specializing in history resources.  Basically I’ve taken some of the articles I have here, and revised them for that blog.  Today I decided to put some of my Photoshop classes to work.  I edited these photos in Bridge, and all I did in Photoshop was to add my name.  Can you tell the differences?  There are three.

In these I worked in Camera Raw. I pressed Auto and immediately Camera Raw saw things to correct that I wouldn’t have thought possible.   After CR made changes, I adjusted for more clarity and vibrance.  I was pleased with how they came out.

Actually I’m not sure I like the after better on this third set.   What do you think?

Amazingly, I spent hours doing this.  Then I checked my emails and realized that five hours before our new secretary for CCSS had asked me for some information.  So, I guess I spent FIVE hours.  I think I fixed lunch somewhere in there also!  Amazingly I didn’t get too frustrated, so it was a RELAXING day.  OK I did get frustrated with Blogger because it wouldn’t delete my WP slide show, but it wouldn’t show it either.  That resulted in having to completely redo the post and reinsert all my new pictures.  I forgot about that frustration!  hahaha!  You can check out that blog too, if you’d like.  I’ve had 85 views just today, and I just got it done right!  🙂  Most of them saw the bad job that I did!  🙂

Now I must stop being so relaxed and get ready for a birthday party in the next 10 minutes or so.  I have swimming hair and no make-up.  Not a good sign.  🙂   Tomorrow I’ll be relaxing looking at your blogs,  So shop around in my other posts, please and leave me some likes and comments.   Have a great weekend.  🙂  Lots of love to y’all  🙂

Sordid Friday Tales: Catherine II, the Great

One of my friends, a world history teacher, told me that he adored Catherine II, the Great.  I wondered if there was more to her than the sordid rumors I had heard.  I downloaded the Memoirs of Catherine the Great from Amazon, and found a complex young woman.

Catherine the Great
Catherine the Great

In the 18th and nineteenth centuries Russian nobility was a very small portion of the population.  Nobility world-wide was beginning to lose prestige.  As Catherine  the Great wrote her memoirs, French King, Louis XIV lost his head, and Americans elected their first President.  In Russia the Table of Ranks still ruled, and at its head, the powerful Empress, Catherine II.

Most memorable to me was how little control Catherine (Sophie) had over her circumstances during the 20 year reign of Elizabeth, daughter of Peter I.  I saw a young woman who had a very structured, difficult and very political life.   She lived by rules, one of which included,  “Be merry, but neither damage nor break anything, nor gnaw on anything.”  She  presented herself as dutiful and humble.

Even though she wanted to be remembered as wise and just, her memoirs do not hold back information that she had several affairs, nor that her children were removed from her care immediately upon birth.  Her most dangerous year began on Christmas day, 1761 with the death of Empress Elizabeth I.  Her husband, Peter III became Emperor.  She was pregnant by Count Grigory Orlov, and faced possible arrest, exile or death.  Peter III stated, “God knows where my wife gets her pregnancies. I really do not know if this child is mine and I ought to recognize it.”  Instead, he planned to install his mistress, Elizabeth Vorontsova, as his consort.  Catherine seized the throne, and declared herself Empress Catherine II.  Members of her political friends murdered her husband, and she took charge and ruled until 1796 when she died in the bathroom at age 67.  Rumors vary about how that happened.  None of the rumors are pretty.  I particularly wonder how anyone, even a promiscuos sixty-seven year old empress, could attempt to have a sexual encounter with a stallion.

The Preface to her memoirs called her a “graphomaniac”, meaning that she wrote unceasingly about herself, from the time she was 14 until she was 67, completing 700 pages about her life.  Her writing helped her understand herself, and her role in making history.  She also used her memoirs to influence future readers to recognize her justifiable place in history.

I identify with her graphomania and even the reasons for it as I sit here blog, blog, blogging, making history in 2013.  In reading more about Catherine the Great, I begin to understand my friend’s fascination with her life and contribution to Russian and world history.

Manny Goes to Spain – An Interview with Manny

Many of our readers know Manny as my lovable little bear who travels wherever I go.  Manny has been begging to go see Ute and her teddy bears in England for six months.   Vince and I both agree that Manny is old enough now to travel on his own.  Let’s see how he’s doing.

Mom:  Manny, you are getting to be such a big boy now, we’re going to do an interview for all the readers about your trip.   How are you feeling about flying out on your own to go see Ralph’s bear, Fanny, and Ute’s bear, Danny?

Manny:  Mom, you know I’m sooooooo excited.  I can’t EVEN sleep at night.

Mom:  What have you done to get ready?

Many goes shoppint
Many goes shopping.

Manny:   I had to get my Pawsport, and a suitcase at the Build-A-Bear Store.

Everything is so big
Everything is so big.

Mom:  Is that all you got there?  What was it like at the store?

Manny:  Oh, Mom, I just LOVED the Build-A Bear store!  It was soooooo big!  I got some cool sun glasses.  I’m ready to go to the beach.  Tell Ralph I want to go to the beach in Spain.  I have a new beach ball and a beach bag, too.  Mom, there were so many clothes in the store.  How come I don’t have clothes?

Many picks out a suitcase.
Many picks out a suitcase.

Mom:  They didn’t have any your size, Manny.  Those clothes are for big bears.  Don’t forget your sunscreen!

Manny uses Mom's American Express card for the first time.  Yikes!
Manny uses Mom’s American Express card for the first time. Yikes!

Manny:  Oh yeah, I got some of that, too.  I love my red suitcase, Mom.  And I love my sunglasses.  Have you seen what’s in my suitcase?

Mom:  Tell me.

Manny:  I got a BIG jar of honey!  I have my travel guide, and my Spanish English dictionary.  And dad got me aspirin.  What’s that for, Mom?

Mom:  You may get a little nervous on the plane, so if you do, just ask the flight attendant for some water, and take one aspirin.  I notice you packed your favorite doggie blanket.   Sometimes it gets cold on the plane even though where you are going is nice and warm.  Be careful not to lose it, though, Manny.

Manny:  I’ll be careful with it.  I’ll take it to the beach to sit on.

Mom:  Hmmmm  Hope Ralph has a big washing machine.  What about presents for Fanny and Danny?

Manny:  Silly Mom.  You know I got them presents.  You helped me make them presents.  They are going to love them.

Mom:  Are you going to tell everybody what you made?

Manny:  Nope.  They’ll just have to wait till I show them to Fanny and Danny!

Mom:  Ok then, Manny.  It’s time to get you to bed, so you’ll be ready to go.  Tell everybody good-bye.

Manny:  Bye everyone.  See you in Spain.

All packed ready to go.
All packed ready to go.

Weekly Photo Challenge – The world through your eyes

For the most part I see things through rose-colored glasses, and I exude sweetness.  But don’t bug me, and think you are bee-ing funny or cute!  I can sting,

Through my eyes

My time to wear glasses came in fifth grade.  They looked about like one of these, and through them I could see that trees actually had individual leaves.  But I looked like a clown when I looked in the mirror.  So I boycotted my glasses most of the time until I was old enough to wear contact lenses.

From the Best of Valley Quilt Show, 2013
From the Best of Valley Quilt Show, 2013

Contacts worked well until I turned about 42.  At that point something strange was going on with them!  They were so dry, and I could no longer read the answers in the teacher’s math book.  Totally frustrated, I went back to glasses.  As soon as I was brave enough, I had lasik surgery.  Unfortunately, even with surgery, I still have an astigmatism, and through my naked eyes, Jennie looks like this.

Through my eyes

I still wear glasses.  I can see clearly now.  (sometimes).

For more ideas of how things look through the eyes of others, click here.

Book Review: Holding Up the Earth by Dianne E. Gray

Hope, aged 14, became an orphan at age six when her mother died in a car crash.  The backpack they had bought just before the accident became Hope’s hope chest, housing artifacts from her past.  Her most prized possession was her sketchbook.  Hope’s current foster Mom, Sarah, took Hope with her to spend the summer at her childhood home on the prairie in Nebraska with her mother, Anna.  Against her wishes, Hope moved, vowing not to be pressured into adoption.

In Nebraska Anna, Hope’s fun-loving foster grandmother, introduced her to their farm’s history beginning in 1869 when it was first homesteaded. Through a series of diaries Hope learns how three young women, about her age, dealt with the difficulties that faced them across the centuries.  The obstacles in growing crops in first story reminded me of the last book I reviewed, The Worst Hard Times.  It seems that life on the prairie is difficult in any era.

Holding Earth1

Dianne E. Gray weaves 4 stories seamlessly into one novel.  Holding Up the Earth hints at the issues facing foster children, but more than that, it is historical fiction.  As such it is very appropriate particularly for 8th and 11th grade students who study American History.  Its readability level and subject matter would appeal primarily to girls aged 10-14.  Nonetheless, although I’m somewhat older than 14, I enjoyed it as well.

You can learn more about author Dianne E. Gray on her website Prairie Voices.