Optical Upgrade

So, I went ahead and had LASIK yesterday. It was just about the day that never ended... here's the story.

I made the LASIK appointment about a month ago. I'd been thinking about it for some time, since I have lost the ability to wear contacts. Believe me, if I could still wear contacts I wouldn't have considered it. My eyes started rejected them vehemently about a year ago. I kept thinking that since the appointment was in a month I'd have plenty of time to cancel, since REALLY, who would let someone cut into perfectly healthy eyes?

The day finally arrived and I had not canceled. I knew I could cancel at any moment even up to walking in the surgery room. I'm sure I wouldn't be the 1st to balk. At 11 a.m. I had to have my pupils dilated so they could check one last thing. My appointment for surgery was set for 4. No problem, we thought, we're out near Woodfield Mall and IKEA. We'll just go eat lunch and hang out somewhere. We grossly overestimated our ability to "hang out at the mall". After about 1/2 hour wandering around like Moses in the desert, (yes, it did feel like 40 years) we were so overwhelmed and exhausted that we paid $10 for ice cream at Coldstone. We left the mall and found a Borders, where at least it is sort of quiet, found some books to look at. Time moved incrementally slowly. I'd ask Lee what time it was... 2:30? I asked hopefully. He shook his head sadly. 2:15? Gah. FINALLY 3:05 rolled around, so it was time to spend another $10 on "food" at the Borders Seattle Coffee. I finally realized why I was so tired. I'd been stuffing down all thoughts of the surgery all day, trying not to dwell. My poor brain was working overtime "not thinking about what it was bent on thinking about."

4 p.m. brought me papers to sign, items to initial... yes, I understand that x,y, and/or z may happen and that I assume all the risk associated with this procedure. Still time to turn back. Shown into waiting room outside of surgery room, given blue cap to wear.

CAUTION: If you do not want to know about the surgery itself, skip to the end under the heading "OK, YOU CAN LOOK NOW".

I was put on a swivel bed. Given several drops of the eye numbing kind. I kinda thought they'd clamp my head down or something. Nope. Turns out fear of the machine is all that is needed to hold your head perfectly still. My right eye was taped shut, and I was swiveled and my left eye lined up under the laser cutting tool. Then pulled back out for the insertion of the eye speculum. Once that was on/in, they applied a suction cup with a hole in the center. My eyeball was suctioned up to the point where I lost vision. It felt like I was fainting, but then, oh, wait, I'm ok, just can't see. Probably a good thing, since then the laser did it's thing, cutting through the 1st 2 layers of the cornea. Suction thingy removed. eye speculum thing still in. Then I was swiveled to the LASIK machine, in which I was instructed to "stare at the orange light". People, I tried, but the Dr. was fiddling with my corneal layers, making that orange light jump and move around and finally it became an orange blur. Ok, stare at the orange light and click, click, click. Then Dr. uses little paddle things to put layers back in place. I can see him doing this, can't feel it. So bizarre. Ok, next one. Couldn't get the eye speculum in place because my eye opening to too small. Went on "outside of lid". I think that's what it was, but that eyelid is no worse for wear, so I'm not sure. Same procedure for right eye. I think I didn't really breathe the whole time I was in there. I was the most relaxed NOT RELAXED person ever.

After the surgery, everything was in focus, but hazy. Like I had soft focus. That has been, and should continue to diminish until every thing is clear. Last night was pretty rough. After the nice eye numbing drops wore off, I was left with wanting to claw my eyeballs out.... except I also didn't want to touch them. I took Tylenol PM and Advil and put drops in every time I woke up. Around midnight I woke up and moaned... didn't want to open my eyes again, but the main part of the itching/burning was over. I looked over at the clock and could read the time. Without squinting. I think I giggled and went back to sleep. Got up this morning, squinting into the backyard, realized I didn't have to squint. Neat.

So, I am happy with the results. My eyes feel better even this afternoon than they did this morning, and the soft-focus effect is less. I get to wear REALLY COOL (not really) goggles to bed and in the shower for a week. And I've got 3 different kinds of drops to put in for the next 5 days. Not too bad.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


There was a black and white photo contest tonight at the Rockford Photo Club. I didn't know it was being judged by an outside person. Had I known, I probably wouldn't have put anything in it. When I found out, I got that terrible "I haven't studied for this test, nor have I been in class this whole term" feeling. Anyway, too late. My pics were in for judging.

When the judge was ready, he brought in 2 piles. One was about 3/4 of the pics... the "not going to talk about these." The other 1/4 had the winners on the bottom, and a bunch of, well, what is just below Honorable Mention? Anyhoo, these "also rans" were in no particular order. This one was on top. One of mine. I totally had PTSD symptoms... blood rushes to head, can only hear heartbeat in ears, clutching at chest. (This all goes back to critiques in college. Horrible things, not necessarily constructive, and even if they were, at that time I'm sure they felt like personal attacks.)

He liked the composition, the diagonal leading up to the lighthouse, the tree framing the upper right, the motion of the waves which also push your eye up to the lighthouse.

He was bothered by the little white house in the background, (Shoot, I didn't even notice it) and the bleaching out of one of the sides of the lighthouse.

The next one of mine that came up was this one:

Liked the straight forward subject matter. Good tones, good framing.

Then this one of mine came up.

Liked the subject (of course, because she's adorable!) Gave suggestions of how to crop it better, which I give you. The other version was not bad, just not all it could be.

(Katherine, I'll give you this print!)

Not that I'm keeping score... but PEOPLE! 3 of my 4 photos made the top 1/4. I didn't take any certificates home, but I am ok with that. I feel I scored a personal victory. As many "creative" types, I often feel that if I do something great that I'm proud of, that that's all there will ever be. That's ALL the creativity I have. I forget that God is the Creator (capital C) and has created everything, and since I am created in His image, I have that creating spirit in me. Just having my pictures talked about with positives and being able to take the negatives and learn from them is a huge step for me.

The pics that won were excellent, of course, taken by guys, who I'm pretty sure, usually win something in this annual contest. I don't begrudge them the win at all. :)

Wondering what my 4th photo was? Here it is. I went outside the box with this one. It's from the Boone County Fair last year. I love it in color, but I thought it looked awesome in B&W too. It's still a winner in my book.

Oh, Drat!

I'm (expletive deleted) tired of this (expletive deleted) snow. Really! Why is it (expletive deleted) snowing AGAIN?!

(Expletive deleted.)

Spring, my (expletive deleted).


A Day at the Beach....


We went out to Grand Haven because I was feeling nostalgic. I told Lee "It's probably pretty cold. You might want your big coat." "Nah. I'll be fine."

I'm in Love...

With myself. And Photoshop. And Frederick Meijer Gardens.


Can't Stop

I'm addicted to these now. They take forever with my limited Photoshop skilz. Lee is an excellent back seat Photoshopper. Turns out my cousin Julie is too. Thanks, guys... and also, STOP IT!


Instructions for Planet Shaped Amazing Circles

Kristin asked where instructions were for the Amazing Circles.

Can be found here and here, and there are probably many more places as well. (Thanks to Kelly who already linked the above as tutorials on her Flickr account.)

Yay! It's Officially Spr....




Work in Progress

Obviously this is a Work in Progress. I saw this kind of thing for the 1st time on my friend Kelly's site. It looked so awesome, and I'm years behind the curve, and I didn't think I could do it, cause, you know... look how awesome it is. I found directions though, and used what pics I had... which, since I was not photographing with this in mind, isn't exactly 360 deg. ... anyhoo, enough disclaimers.

I'm super excited to photograph something in 360 to make this right.

I can see why people spend hours doing this kind of thing... because AWESOME.


Rock Star

The problem with Guitar Hero... ok, besides the fact that it's TOTALLY addicting... is that it FEELS like you can play the guitar for real. And you kind of start rocking out and making Rock Star moves... you know, like, lifting up the neck of the guitar and shaking it... problem is, that in Guitar Hero, lifting the neck of the guitar puts you into a more difficult mode. It's as if it's saying "HA, you think you're a star, do ya? Try this."

Thanks to Brian and Theresa for bringing Guitar Hero to the party. Thanks especially to Theresa for SHARING, since she is really, truly addicted, and regularly uses all of the "family minutes" for GH. (You can set the game up to shut down after x amount of hours.)

Here's Carrie and I tentatively rocking out. First timers.

There were actual guitar players available.

Lee and his dad.


Jim and his daughter, who isn't sure she's ready for a rock-n-roll dad.

Party Time

Our friend Greg outdid himself last Saturday... there were 3 heart shaped cakes. Chocolate, Yellow, and Red Velvet. Butter cream frosting... 8 pounds of powdered sugar, 3 pounds of butter. Ouch! Was that your arteries clogging?

Mmmmmm.... red velvet. It's just so pretty!

We had people wear name tags, since it was a "mixed" party of work people and locals (ie: church and Belvidere people.) I was afraid that Brownie and Wonder Pony weren't going to show.... they're flaky like that.


Happy Pi Day

And Happy Anniversary to us! 10 great and wonderful years!



Turns out that photographers are cheating cheaters who cheat. Lemme 'splain...

I went to a photography seminar on Saturday. I learned a lot. Probably the more seasoned photogs didn't learn so much, but since I am still a bit unsure about f-stoppage, it was excellent for me. I now know how to (well, in theory) use histograms and make them work for me.

Now, I'm sure that before Photoshop, photographers were cheating in their darkrooms... manipulating the negatives to yield fantastic images. They had to be... our eyes see so much more than a camera can, so the trick is to get the camera to pretend to see what you see. Sometimes to do this, you must take 2 pictures of the same scene, using different exposures, and put these pics together. Photoshop makes this easy. (I say "easy" like I know how to do it... I can sort of do it, but it takes me a loooong time.)

So, those fancy nature photos that you think you can't take... well, maybe you can't... but you can come close depending on how much time you're willing to put into post production. In my case, I'm not willing to spend TOO much time in Photoshop, so I'd better learn to improve my picture taking so I don't have to.

While I was at the seminar, Lee was making local art contacts for me. That wasn't his intention for the day, but he's got info for me about the Belvidere art scene.

We got up for church on time yesterday, and were pleased that we were getting out of the house so early. I was eating breakfast and Lee was shaving. I heard an "Argh!" and realized, as Lee just had, that we were NOT, in fact, early. We'd both thought of it several times the week leading up to DST. Oops.



Well, that didn't take long. Ever since I wrote that last post, at least once a day I thought, "Oh, I've got to blog that." Then I remembered that I wasn't blogging, so that I could find myself or something. What the heck was I thinking? I was keeping myself from something I enjoy, in the name of what? The Greater Good... pffft. I love my little blog. I love writing little snippets of my life.

To sum up:
I was startled by the biggest freakin' cat I've ever seen. "Dang, that tail is HUGE", I thought as I watched the "cat" jump onto the fence. Oh, um. It's a racooooon. At least I didn't scream like a little girl like I did when we had a possum getting into the cat food. Time to start taking the food in at night.

I have been drinking decaf coffee lately. A lot of it. I make a 1/3 pot in the morning and drink a thermos full all day with soy milk. This morning, I put the coffee in the filter, put the pot on the maker and turned it on. Had to get the cats out of the basement before I left, turned my back and heard a PING! Then a CRACK! I thought, "That sounds like glass breaking." Indeed. That's what happens when you DON'T PUT WATER IN THE COFFEE MAKER. The pot is cracked. And more tragically, I did not get my coffee this morning. Now, I realize that decaf still has a bit of caffeine in it, but what I didn't realize is that that has turned me into a stone-cold addict. All morning I thought about how I could/when I could/how soon can I get to Caribou Coffee and get a fix. I got it around 10 and sucked that baby down like nobody's business. I suppose the pot cracking is a good thing, as I am usually too lazy to replace broken things right away... things that I don't technically NEED. And I also am too cheap to pay $4 for a Mocha from Caribou every day. Dang, that Mocha was good. (Oh, and BTW, Caribou gets props for a clear menu that indicates which drinks are frozen/cold. Starbucks assumes you know. I ordered a Frappacino on a day it was -7 because I wanted something "warm". Wondered why the barrista looked at me strange. I get this frozen drink, and everyone I'm with is like "Why did you get a frozen drink?" and I had to admit ignorance of knowing what a Frappacino was. It was delicious, but I had to drink it fully bundled up.)

I've knitted some things too, but since I posted them on Ravelry already, which totally fulfills a knitter's/crocheter's dreams and plans, btw, I may or may not get around to putting them here. If you haven't joined the Ravelry community already, you can ask for an invite here. They don't deny anyone, but it takes time to get in, because Hoo Baby, is this site popular. If you enjoy the minutia of knitting, this one's for you. And I got in the Beta site early enough to get the name Yarnsmith, which TOTALLY rocks, as I haven't been able to get it for several other online things.

Which reminds me, how do you all handle the abundance of UserNames and Passwords you need to know in this world? Do you let your computer save the info, so you just click OK, and don't have to remember? What happens if you computer crashes? Do you write them down and tape them to your monitor? I have officially exceeded the limit of UserNames and Passwords I can remember. I started to write them down, but there are several I can't remember, can't remember the password to get into the email system that has the password for the site I can't remember.

I am working my way through The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Highly recommend it, EXCEPT, it is turning me into a crazy person. Chapter 2 says it will seem that way as you identify blocks to creativity and have to deal with them, and as you try to stop being afraid of success. Not afraid of failure, but of success. I had a crazy-person moment last night as I tried to reconcile new ideas into the old regime of my mind. That Old Regime will not go quietly, as it is quite SAFE and COMFORTABLE, and lulls me back to sleep with it's talk of "you know you can't, so why even try? That dream is too big... you know you won't do it."

I'm totally and utterly afraid of Photoshop, so I've been toying with various Photoshop like programs to edit photos. It's definitely a learning curve... this working with layers thing. I was able to do this yesterday with Paint.NET. I mostly did this particular thing because I wanted to see if I could. It was pretty fiddly, but I think Photoshop is too. Big thanks to Brian who talked me down from the ledge when I messed up. He thought of the least confusing way to fix it, and told me about layers in a way I could NEARLY understand. Which is closer than the I NOT UNDERSTAND AND I IS FRUSTRATES ME which I had going on before.

Oh, yeah, one more thing. Sorry in advance for the profanity, but this thing made me snort. Loudly.