Got Rocks To Climb?

by Kimberly A. Cook

Been a busy week but I know I’ve accomplished a lot. From getting stuff out of the house and donated to attacking technology challenges, progress feels liberating. The projects continue, but I’m pretty proud of myself.

Learning new things is always good and this baby mountain goat at the Oregon Zoo is no exception. Climbing rocks is a new sport for him too. His celebration at the end of the video sums up my week. Rock on!

Have a great safe weekend and Happy Quirky Friday!

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Every Chicken Has A Back Story

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Now this would catch your eye and curiosity right? But it’s not too out of the norm here in Oregon. But I need to know this chicken’s back story. Stay tuned!

by Kimberly A. Cook

Bagged the bird! For those of you who thought I’d lost my mind last week, my poultry paparazzi patrol paid off. Did a quick recon before leaving for my fiction critique group last Saturday to see if the violin playing chicken was in attendance. No fowl. Dang it.

Got in the car and headed for my meeting. Ready to make a left turn and looking right, chicken ahoy! I ignored my left turn signal, and the car behind me, and turned right to get a quick chicken pic. Using my vast stealth abilities from the military, I parked a block away and then went chicken stalking. Got two pics. Here is the best one.

Now this fowl encounter has become a quest. I want to know the chicken’s back story. My journalistic roots are tingling. When did the chicken take violin lessons? Why here? Why now? Why the outfit? Does the chicken have a website? Do all chickens wear Birkenstocks? Or flip-flops? (I’d say thongs, but I don’t want to confuse people and I really don’t want to go there with this chicken.)

Saturday is the big Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade so we all know what that means, rain. Not sure the chicken will show if it doesn’t like to get wet. But I’m intent on getting an interview.

When writing fiction, the author always needs to know the back story of each character. Where do they come from? What happened to them to make them do what they do now? What is their biggest goal? Worst fear? In my fiction books I’m writing, there are quirky animals too. Of course. And like their human counterparts, they all have back stories which explain their motivations.

In “real” life and fiction, everybody’s story is important. We all matter. Our stories matter. What better life long pursuit than to fight for our own happy endings?

How do we do that? We find out each other’s back story. Don’t judge a book by its cover or a chicken by its violin.

Every chicken has a back story!

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Baby Goats and a Porcupine?

by Kimberly A. Cook

What could go wrong? The folks at the Oregon Zoo have been taking the kids for walks, goat kids, to get their exercise. One recent foray was to see the porcupine. The kids were very impressed. Stopped stock still for once.

The baby goat is Ruth, named for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and is definitely the more adventuresome of the pair, following in the footsteps of her namesake. Sonia is getting used to her long legs for rock climbing.

Have a great safe weekend and Happy Quirky Friday!

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Summertime Crazies?

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Face sleeping. When you know it’s a long holiday weekend.

by Kimberly A. Cook

Its been a weird week. Since I’m not watching the news, can’t blame it on that. Mother Nature is acting up all over the place, but it seems odder, like dragons are waiting in the wings. Or I need more chocolate. Or both.

Saturday morning decided to wander over to the Farmer’s Market to get some asparagus. On my way down the sidewalk an apparition appeared at the market driveway. An adult-sized chicken was playing the violin. Doing a rather nice job of it too.

Of course, the one time I didn’t have a camera on me. We’ll see if he/she shows up Saturday.  I’ll be poultry paparazzi. Maybe it was the holiday weekend nutties.

Did bag the asparagus and bonus strawberries, their first appearance. Go fruit!

Decided to work like a maniac on the house and yard on Saturday and Sunday, not sure why. Then went out for lunch with family on Memorial Day. Filled up on pasta and bread sticks and that shot the rest of the day. Carb overload.

Tuesday I ventured out for an appointment and to run errands. In quick succession this is what happened; someone cancelled my appointment – not me – so they worked me in. Driving to the store some brat threw mud or something at my car and a shopping cart had attacked Subie when I came out of the store. I drove home and my driveway was blocked by the roofer’s trucks.

All minor things, but I was pretty sure I needed to hide under the bed. Went into my home office and found Spec Ops Cat sleeping on his face. Obviously, the cat had the best idea all along.

I did watch the Las Vegas Golden Knights kick butt on Monday night at the Stanley Cup playoffs, so all ended well. We will not talk about last night’s game. Ate way too many “Goobers” trying to help the team score.  They look like pucks! Kinda. (Dollar Tree store. One dollar a box.)

All of this is probably a way to admit I’m procrastinating working on my big tech project; moving and consolidating the web site and blog and redesigning it all. I’ve even been writing to avoid doing it.

If the blog suddenly goes missing, don’t blame me; it’s the dragons.

To quote the plaque on my desk;

“I have flying monkeys and I’m not afraid to use them!”

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Memorial Day Remembrance

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Korean War Memorial, Washington, D.C., November 2005

by Kimberly A. Cook

Freedom isn’t free. Those words are powerful if we take the time to really think about the cost in lives. This three-day weekend is in honor of those who have died during military service, whether during war or peace. Men, women, and military animals have given their lives to protect us all.

On this coming Monday, please take a few moments to thank and honor the sacrifice of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to keep us free. Remember the cost to their fellow veterans, families and friends and their untimely deaths.

Because we don’t see the numbers, I wanted to list all the military lives lost to defend our country. I also want to honor the military members who stand guard today around the world.

America’s Wars from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

American Revolution
4,435 Battle Deaths

War of 1812
2,260 Battle Deaths

Indian Wars 
1,000  Battle Deaths (VA estimate)

Mexican War
1,733 Battle Deaths
11,550 Other Deaths (In Theater)

Civil War 
140,414 Union Battle Deaths
224,097 Union Deaths (In Theater)
74,524 Confederate Battle Deaths (Incomplete returns)
59,297 Confederate Deaths (In Theater) (Not including 26,000 to 31,000 who died in Union prisons.)

Spanish-America War
385 Battle Deaths
2,061 Other Deaths in Service

World War I
53,402 Battle Deaths
63,114 Other Deaths in Service

World War II
291,557 Battle Deaths
113,842 Other Deaths in Service

Korean War
33,739 Battle Deaths
2,835 Other Deaths (In Theater)
17,672 Other Deaths in Service

Vietnam War
47,434 Battle Deaths
10,786 Other Deaths (In Theater)
32,000 Other Deaths in Service

Desert Shield/Desert Storm
148 Battle Deaths
235 Other Deaths (In Theater)
1,565 Other Deaths in Service

Global War On Terror (Oct. 2001 – Present)
4,541 Battle Deaths Iraq per http://www.icasualties.org
2,411 Battle Deaths Afghanistan per http://www.icasualties.org

These numbers don’t account for the heavy toll of suicide on our troops since this nation was born. Reach out if you know a veteran who needs help.

Veterans Crisis Line 1.800.273.8255
http://www.VeteransCrisisLine.net
Veterans Crisis Line Text 838255

Freedom isn’t free.

Have a great, safe, Memorial Day weekend.

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Time To Climb A Tree?

by Kimberly A. Cook

This week I decided to take a break from the tv news. I still have the newspaper and online, but I wanted a mind recess. Seems like Takoda might have been thinking the same thing when he took off up a tree at the Oregon Zoo.

Actually, he’s after tasty snacks. I can relate. But fifty feet up a tree? I’m not built for that. So if life gets crazier than it already is, go climb a tree! But pack your own goodies.

Have a great, safe weekend and Happy Quirky Friday!

P.S. Hugs to all the folks on the Big Island and Kauai.

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A Rose By Any Other Angle?

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One of the first rules of photojournalism is to always take a wide angle, horizontal, establishing shot. If you don’t take it first thing, you get wrapped up in the detail photos and can forget. When I’d get back to the newspaper if I hadn’t taken an establishing shot they needed, the editor was not a happy camper. Trust me, practice taking an overall shot; for a newspaper or a blog post.

by Kimberly A. Cook

Spotted the first two rose blooms in my garden Monday morning. My favorite “Double Delight” rose. Grabbed the camera and proceeded to take a bunch of pics. Thought I would show the process of how I frame and reframe a picture to get different angles, light, backgrounds and close-ups.

Digital photography allows me to waste a million pixels and not care.

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Go vertical. Roses grow vertically, so turn the camera. Watch for the growth of the other stems. Leave some open sky. Work to have the rose on a lower third, upper third break for the sky, but this is still too centered. Since rose bushes don’t move, I have to move myself and the camera.

 

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Now move in closer and cut off the sky, using the dark wood as the background.  Cutting off the buds on the right not great. Rose is still too centered for my taste, but like the improvement in the color intensity.

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Don’t be afraid to move in close.  This shot leaves a little air at the top and the sides to let the photo breathe. The background provides some contrast and improves the color hue.

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Go close or go home! Get in there! Don’t be afraid to move in on a subject. I can still get closer, but the light might cause it to fuzz out and lose the edges. It’s a little soft focus here, but I like it.

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This vertical angle gives some color depth and moves the subject across the photo. The light is a little harsh on the rose bloom, even the 10:30 a.m. clouds can’t help the light diffusion you get between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. But overall, the darker to lighter tones give some interest. Perfect? Never! But I’ve got more pixels to use for practice.

All of this took about six minutes between grabbing the camera after planting dahlias and trimming the hedge outside of Spec Ops Cat’s favorite window. I never used the zoom, only the wide angle lens; I moved me instead.

Get out there and crawl around for some good pictures.  Photography and accidental exercise. Priceless!

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