Monday, August 8, 2011

Facing reality isn't always fun

Beau (formally known as Crescendo) and me on our last day together.
There comes a point in time where you have to assess your personal situation and then act accordingly. That's the adult or mature thing to do. But, as the kids would say, it sucks.

I know I have physical limitations now, some related to age, some due to injuries and a misspent youth. Regardless, the combination of all those things means that I am no longer able to ride a horse - either safely or well.

For the past two years Beau has been living at Geary Hill Stables near Oromocto, NB, working for a living as a well cared for and pampered school horse (his riders all spoil him rotten - which is a good thing and the lifestyle to which he was accustomed!). According to Kem, one of the instructors at GHS, it didn't take Beau long to train his riders to bring carrots to be humbly presented - not as a reward for a lesson well executed - but BEFORE the lesson, just to get on his good side!

I still owned him - not yet ready to make the final concession to my situation and give him up entirely. But yesterday I made the trip up to watch him and his buddy Bonnie compete in their first hunter/jumper show together (Beginner Division) and to sign over his papers to Deanna, the owner of the stable. Beau looks great - shiny, well muscled and healthy. Not bad for a 17-year-old horse. He carried Bonnie around the course safely and even did a few flying changes of lead to impress me! It worked.

Anyway, I did the dead and handed over the papers. Driving down the lane from the stable I looked back and could see him, happily munching grass outside the barn, and wished him well. Although I'm sad (for myself) I'm glad that Beau has a good place to live out his life.

Does this mean I am (finally) mature and have faced reality? Or perhaps just life has caught up.

Either way, although I can go and visit Beau, it'll never be the same. I do miss him; but that's life.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A beautiful summer morning

Sometimes you just have to leave the camera home, no matter how strong the urge to focus on pictures. Hoover and I walk very early in the morning and today it was an exceptional experience.

The sun was rising, slowly burning off the lingering ground fog. In the distance you could see the three towers from the potash mine, which are hundreds of feet tall, just poking through the mist. There were three ducks swimming in a large puddle at the side of a big hayfield at the edge of the road, protected by a lone sentinel pine tree on the rise above them.

They, who know everything, say it's going to be a scorcher today - and I suspect they are right. But, in the meantime, it was nice to just walk with the dog and enjoy the experience of the morning.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The sun shone on the last day of the month

What a beautiful morning for a drive / walk in the countryside. Joel, Hoover and I set out early this morning to explore a nearby area - scouting it as a possible photo location for the fall when my friend, Lauren, is here from Texas; AND scouting out a possible fishing location for Joel.

We found BOTH!

The Moosehorn Creek is within the designated Geo Park area - the only one of its kind in North America!
 Not only is it within a reasonable walking distance along the side of the Creek, but there's a well maintained path and ample parking. By October the foliage should be spectacular!

I am constantly amazed at the beauty that surrounds us here in tiny little New Brunswick - an area often ignored by tourists as they rush through the province in their haste to get to the better-known, but no more lovely, provinces of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

But, for those of us who live here and appreciate what we have, maybe that's not such a bad thing after all.

And then you can come home to an adoring friend who is ALWAYS happy to see you.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ideas on a dreary day

Good (soggy) morning aspiring photographers. It's hard to get motivated when the skies are grey and everything around you is wet and dismal. But, there are always things to shoot. You could play with lighting indoors. Try using a flash creatively. Try bumping your ISO waaayyyy up there and NOT using a flash to see what happens - just how bad IS the noise anyway?

For subjects - just look around. Do you have a pretty vase? Some flowers or plants in the house?

Or, for more challenge - something that moves (like a small child or a pet)?

How about an elderly relative or friend - whose character lines etched on the face speak volumes? Can you capture them in a way that shows every well-earned groove (or facial scars, as in Hoover's case)?

Got something you want to sell? Today is a good day for taking a picture of that item for your advertisement. (Yes, this professional steam carpet cleaning machine and a lot of other stuff IS for sale, by the way.)

For more ideas on motivating yourself and making time to grab that camera and shoot, check this out…

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Busy week-end = lots of editing

I spent most of the week-end at the Princess Louise Park Show Centre in Sussex, NB. My student, Zara Morrison, was competing on two horses this time: her own Fadjura's Ajiba NA+, with whom she achieved the horse's Legion of Honour designation AND received the Rider of Champions Award; AND NF Satori (owned by Jessie MacLean of Sussex Corner).

This whole dressage thing is new to Tori. The 15-year-old gelding has only been in dressage training for about a month and this was his first Dressage NB show. Although a novice, he performed well and, when all was said and done, Zara and Tori captured the Training (Junior division) Championship for the week-end AND Zara and Ajiba were the Reserve Champions for the same division.

Zara and Tori
Zara and Ajiba
None of these achievements would have been possible, however, without the tremendous support of family and friends. Zara's mother, Marion, is the backbone of the support team, making sure that both daughter and horse(s) are ready, gleaming, hydrated and ready to go - with help from Nicky (designated team support person), me (the coach / photographer / publicist) and this time, Jessie (Tori's owner).

And speaking of family, once the horse show was over I dashed off to do a 3-generation family photoshoot. What a great group to work with - just too much fun. And, of course, Marv the Burmese Mountain Dog got into the act too.

All in all it was quite the week-end!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

100 in August, 2011

1911 was a busy year around the world.

In France, the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. 

The first International Women's Day was celebrated.

Here in Canada, Robert Borden became Prime Minister, defeating Sir Wilfred Laurier.

The Dominion Parks Branch (now Parks Canada), the first national park service in the world, was established.

Closer to home in New Brunswick, James Flemming became provincial Premier, defeating Sir John Hazen.

And, on August 5th, my father was born.

 A victim of infantile glaucoma, he lost his sight completely at the age of 10 in a childhood accident. He was sent to the School for the Blind in Halifax, NS, where he became both a piano tuner and an accomplished pianist.

Returning to New Brunswick, he eventually settled in Saint John, married my mother and together, they adopted me. That was no small feat considering that my Dad's blindness was considered a serious handicap at that time AND both he and my mother were self-employed! But, they succeeded.

Over the years I think he tuned pianos for just about everyone in southern New Brunswick as well as numerous famous musicians and entertainers who came to Saint John to perform. Some liked his work so well that they would not allow anyone else to tune for their performances.

Never one to feel sorry for himself, Dad saw his blindness more as an inconvenience than anything. He was a warm and friendly man whose customers both liked and respected him. To me, he was a loving father, caregiver and frequent playmate. No matter how tired at the end of long days dismantling and reassembling pianos, he was always willing to answer my pleas to "play horsey" with a resounding 'yes' - dropping to his hands and knees so I could ride on his back.

When I was growing up he never missed an opportunity to come and listen to me play either the violin or piano in the music festival or to attend performances of what was then the fledgling NB Youth Orchestra for which I was the initial concert mistress.

Throughout my life there were only three times I ever saw Dad express real regret at the loss of his vision: when I was 20 and married David's father, Ian, and he couldn't see how I looked as a young bride; when David was born and Dad had to wait to 'meet' him after we came home from the hospital - unable to 'see' him through the glass in the hospital nursery window; and much later, when my mother was hospitalized and dying, and he was unable to see, for himself, what her condition was.

But other than that, he was a fiercely independent, self sufficient person who lived a full life with dignity and integrity.

He passed away in 1999 just short of the millenium. I wonder what he'd say today, looking back on a century of change and growth?

Happy Birthday a little early, Dad! I miss you.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It IS an amazing world out there

How often do we forget or ignore the everyday things that we see that are capable of bringing us SO much pleasure?

Have you ever walked down a country road while farmers are cutting and baling hay? Did you stop and enjoy the sweet smell of the freshly mown grass? Or admire the amazing symmetry of a well-formed hay bale?
Can you appreciate the farmers whose days begin at dawn and who are still out there "making hay while the sun shines" at dusk?

Or, driving down the highway, have you ever noticed the fascinating colours of the rocks illuminated by the setting sun?

I am thankful for Hoover who walks with me most days and who, like my grand toddlers in Vancouver, encourages me to slow down, see, smell and touch the world around me. It really IS an amazing world out there.