Lockdown in the time of Coronavirus

I guess we’ve been hearing about the virus in China for a month or so, but it has suddenly hit us hard. With the knowledge that this bad new flu is circulating, but without testing capability, and an already overtaxed medical system, we are now in semi-lockdown. The play we have been rehearsing for over a month (Much Ado About Nothing) is on hold until later in the summer, I’m working from home, and people are wiping out the grocery stores (glad I went to Costco with friends and stocked up a couple weeks ago). Crazy times.

I had just settled on a plan to expand my photography into family portrait work, and decided that this summer I would train and do any odd jobs I could get, and hone my craft. I bought a new (used) lens just for this pursuit.

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This is a Sony f/4 70–200mm. It takes really sharp pictures with nicely blurred backgrounds. I’m really happy with the few test shots I’ve done.





Combined with my full-frame a7ii, this is certainly a rig capable of producing high-quality images.

I also plan to dedicate any ‘hustle money’ I can make to my meandering Mustang project. But who knows when things will get back to normal, when I can start hustling, if I will even care about the Mustang when this is all over. Maybe priorities will change? Right now the poor Mustang is buried in the garage under shipping materials leftover from Christmas. The toy shipping season has stretched out significantly. Things are still selling now in March!

But I don’t mind working at home. I’m hanging out with my hubby and dogs and cats:

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surrounded by all my craft projects I’ve been putting off. Like my ‘learn to paint’ project. I’ve got my paints, I’ve got my easel, all I need is time.

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I can FINALLY follow along with BOB!

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It’s actually kind of nice, but I’m only a few days in. We will see how it feels by the end of the month! I hope to sneak off for some fishing when the weather warms up next week. We will see how it all goes. I’m just hoping people handle this sanely, take care of each other, remember to be kind and considerate, and we will all ride out this strange time, stay healthy, and be back to normal sometime this summer.

Until then I’ll try not to spend too much time riding the range in Red Dead Redemption.

Red Dead Redemption 2 (13)

New comforter on the bed = most interesting place in the house

Only one cat short of a full load.

Speaking of cats, Mouse is recovering from some injury to her face. She came home with a bloody nose a few nights ago, and looked up at me and a fang dropped out and ‘tinked’ on the floor – to my shock! She seemed of, so Dave took her to the vet the next day, and the vet said two teeth were broken and scheduled surgery for this week. After surgery the vet said her teeth were quite healthy, and that the two broken teeth had been broken through some sort of trauma. Either kicked in the face or maybe got some glancing blow from a car. She also had lost part of her tongue! Either way, she is recovering well, and enjoying all the soft food and extra attention. 


The last major pieces for the kitchen

The kitchen is where we spend a lot of our time, and so we wanted it to look just right. I’m overjoyed with the cool vintage cabinets, and we needed some nice vintage furniture to go with them – mostly a hutch to handle overflow because there’s not enough storage, and a nice vintage table to sit under that awesome UFO light.

We actually found the hutch a couple weeks ago, but waited until we’d looked around a bit more. Since we didn’t find anything we liked better, we went ahead and bought it.

It replaces the honey pine bookcase which we gave to a friend. This has a lot more storage, and the dark walnut formica matches the dark cabinets nicely. I like the open shelves for my cookbooks, and I can display some of my pretty vintage bowls and cups. I had to set my mixer and food processor on top because they are too big to store in any of the cabinets!

It has these neat space-age drawer pulls. Love it!

Dave was out doing some shopping during the day and spotted a dining room table he really liked. He called me up and said it was great, and he was going to buy it. I wasn’t too sure, since I hadn’t seen it in person, but I think he has a good eye, so I said ok. Of course he’d already bought it…

I love it! Mouse loves it too! It has a nice pattern on top. The formica isn’t too dark, and the chairs are in excellent condition. Since I plan to paint the kitchen yellow, I think they will fit in perfectly.

So that’s the last major addition to the kitchen. Not room for anything else anyway. Now I can concentrate on cleaning the cabinet doors, fixing the dings and scratches, and then getting a nice coat of wax on them. They are already starting to glow.

Dave says The Rancho is like the Airstream – about the same vintage, same type of cabinets, and feels about as small – so we have to keep everything organized and neat! It’s great. Just like the Airstream, it already feels very much like home.


Pictures from the new camera

I’m getting the hang of my new camera. It does all sorts of things the other one didn’t do, and sometimes it just beeps at me and refuses to take a picture. Hey, it’s digital, I should be allowed to take bad pictures if I want to! It’s not like I’m wasting film! So I’ve been taking lots of practice shots to get the hang of using it.
Hey Dave, look over here!
Cute head-tilt!
 Barclay wants me to finish playing with the camera and pay attention to him!
Navi and Mouse
Smilin’ Barclay
He’s tired of waiting for me to finish playing with the camera, so he’s going to sleep.

Good news, and a new lens!


I got good news on Friday! My boss said they’re going to hire me on permanently before the month is out Smile This is awesome news, because I really like the place I’m working at, I like my co-workers, and I’ve been working my fanny off to absorb every bit of info they’ve thrown at me, hoping to prove myself worthy to step up from being a temp. I had a feeling I was a shoe-in all along, but it’s good to know it’s for sure now! I’m still getting used to having so much less time at home, but Dave is keeping after the household chores so I don’t have to, so that makes it all easier.

I do feel a bit like I’ve traded work for just about everything else I enjoy, so I decided to reward myself with a little treat. I felt there was a gap in my lens kit for my Nikon D50 DSLR. I have a nice Nikkor 28-80mm f3.3-3.5, which takes very sharp pictures in the ‘kit lens’ range. I have my Tamron 18-200mm 3.5-6.3 zoom which is a nice all around zoom. Not as sharp as the ‘kit’ lens, but very nice and it has a nice reach. But I wanted one more lens for portraits, one that would work well in low light, and one that would have a wide aperture to get that lovely blurry background that makes the subject pop out. After much research I chose the Nikkor 35mm f1.8 – and I have been watching them come and go on Craigslist for months. This morning I went and met a guy who had one for sale and handed over the cash.

I was not disappointed.




This was before I discovered I had a setting on my camera that had it stopped down two steps in Aperture Priority mode. Still, the sharpness is there.



I love the whispy hair and the detail around the eyes in this shot. It looks much better to get the nose at an angle in line with the eyes, compared to the next shot!



Because the focal depth is so shallow, I have to be careful to control where the camera focuses – or I’ll just get a sharp nose! (Which is kind of cute, in it’s own way…)



The eyes have it…

Not having a zoom takes a little getting used to – I had to get right in the animals’ faces to get the shot framed. Navi wasn’t willing to stand still for it – she hardly ever stands still anyway! Cats are good subjects for this though!









I’m pretty blown away by the quality of shots I’m getting from this lens. It just goes to show, even with an older DSLR, lenses make all the difference. I think I’m going to be happy with this setup for quite a while.

One other thing, the guy who sold me the lens was really nice and recommended a photography book he thought was really good, The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby. I checked out the reviews and saw it was only $9 for the electronic format, and bought it. It’s full of good tips and tricks for getting the most out of your DSLR! Hey, for $9 – if it helps me get a few photos here and there I might have otherwise missed, it’s totally worth it.


My new camera

Tonight I brought home my first ‘real’ camera, a Nikon D50. I found it on CL for sale along with a kit of lenses.

I can already tell there is going to be a bit of a learning curve, but I’m going to enjoy that part. I was able to get it home and get some decent pictures out of it right off the bat, so I think we’re going to get along just fine.

Now I just need to figure out what all these settings do!


Navi, settling in

Navi & Barclay cleaning up where the chicken tractor was

Today I moved the chicken tractors out in the field next to the garden. I did that because Navi has been running laps around the chick’s tractor, and I thought that was cruel for the chicks, because they are surprised to see her every lap around – it’s like ‘she’s gone’ immediately followed by ‘aargh, she’s back’ – over and over and over.

While moving them the little roo who looks like he was made of spare parts snuck out and ran away, and before I could catch him he found a hole to get into the big chicken area. That was bad news for him, because I couldn’t get him back in the tall grass, and the big chickens were going to kick his little feathered butt, so there wasn’t anything I could do about it. So I went on about my chores, and an hour later I was out there with the dogs when suddenly I heard a commotion and here’s that little rooster back out of the chicken yard, and racing across the backyard with three dogs after him! I caught up just as Barclay and Navi pinned him and picked him up and snuggled him high against my chest – high, because Navi will jump high, springing up to snap at and try and grab him! I kept blocking her with my leg until she gave up and sat, but she could barely control herself. I finally was able to walk him to the tractor and reunite him with his flock.

She is still getting the hang of the cats as well. Sometimes she pounces on them and chases them if they run, sometimes the other two start it. I’m keeping a close eye on all of them.

She’s quite athletic, and can jump up on the crates. I put a piece of plywood on top of her big crate so I can put her food up there when the crate is open and she can jump up there and eat.

She’s an absolute doll! What a cutie 🙂 Yesterday she had a vet visit and the vet gave her a vaccination that upset her stomach all night. Poor pup puked and puked, and then collapsed on our bed. She was so pitiful we let her sleep there all night instead of in her crate. This morning she was feeling much better.

It’s taking some getting used to for everyone. Barclay is being such a good boy. He’s really tired from all the playing, and I’ve been trying to give him special attention as well. I felt like Barclay and I had a special one-on-one relationship before Navi showed up, and I’d like to keep that as much as possible. She’s got so much training to work on, it’s easy to forget there’s still more work to do with Barclay too. I don’t want his training to stall just because I have a new student who needs more work!