Serenity Survives, Long Live Serenity

It’s day two of groundhog day err agility showing.  More dogs, more jumping and a lot  more sitting around.  None the less, yesterday actually turned out fairly productive with each of our dogs going 4 for 4, made a blog post and even got some photo shoots in at Chain O Lakes and Lake of Geneva.  Regarding the latter, it is now very obvious where the Chicago discretionary money is heading – straight to Wisconsin.  Good lord those houses around that lake are HUGE.  Also had an entertaining conversation with a Spring Grove Dairy Queen employee who thought the green Arctic Rush flavor jar was apple and not lemon lime.  DQ probably owes me a free blizzard for training their staff.

While digging around the Internet for some details for this post I stumbled on this quote.

Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.. anonymous

This seemed a perfect intro to today’s post.  This is actually a pretty popular quote on the net but none of the references attributed it to anyone in particular.  A shame since it is a pretty insightful quote – ESPECIALLY if you own a bridge named Serenity.  Note, I was really looking for relevant quotes from the movie Serenity when the one above came up.  If you recall, Serenity was a project to give access to the back of our lot (link here).  When it was designed consideration was given to how high to make it to account for the seasonal flooding that had occurred in the past.  Since building it, our Springs were pretty tame and as far as recollection serves, the stream stayed in the banks.  That was then.. this is now!

Welcome to the record flood of 2013.  The shot above is actually a few days after the water started to recede.  Still high, still displaying the awesome power associated with unbridled water.  The weather heads were calling for flash flood warnings but based on their accuracy over the last couple of years there was not a lot of concern given.  Well, at least until I headed off to work that morning and saw the massive flooding – Peoria was under attack by the Kracken.  All I could think of is whether Serenity was going to survive or not.  It was engineered for the worst… but maybe not for record amounts of waterfall.

Eventually Linda and I headed down to assess the situation.  Apprehension abounds.  Feelings were not getting any better at the first view of the stream.  What you couldn’t tell from that shot is the missing trees that used to be along the banks (now middle of the water path).  A quick look to the left revealed that my “debris” buffer was GONE.  There was a tangle of trees that was serving as insurance if anything decided to break away upstream.  It had already caught some large branches etc. during the smaller expansions.  That area was now free of all tangles – hell, even the bank had eroded significantly.

One of the trees was found shortly after…

SAVED.  the roots were tangled up in another bank tree which prevented it from harming Serenity.  Hopes were building especially when a hesitant glance downstream revealed she still standing tall.

Hit the jump to see more details of Serenity’s battle

Continue reading Serenity Survives, Long Live Serenity

Aftertreatment Sweetness

Here I sit at another dog show trying to figure out how to pass the abundance of downtime that comes with these agility events.  Working in my favor, for a change, is I still need to get some posts in to close out the month.  Knowing the show was coming up gave some security that as long as the post processing was done on the images and the upload to the Smugmug gallery went without a hitch only thing left to do was find time to spew out some words – maybe even in readable sentences!  Processing done – check, upload successful – check – some free time … crap loads.

Keeping with the theme of all the barking dogs crated around me, today’s post returns us to the ancestry of the domestic dog.  Not sure if it was mentioned in the previous Wolf post (link here), but that post was really a three parter. A trifecta if you will since that specific shot resulted in three very distinct post processing opportunities.  The previous shot was the standard color treatment, but likely unnoticed by you, there were some subtle differences in the final processing of those.  Specifically the contrast was amped a little more than usual to darken the background.  This provided better separation between the wolf and the foliage in the background.  Although it does make a slightly better image in terms of color, where it really makes an impact is when you convert it to …

Welcome to my new favorite set of photographs.  Although there were a few sample tests during the color processing I wasn’t entirely sure how it was going to turn out.  Admittedly a very biased opinion, but I really really like them.  My favorite shots are the one above and below (and one a little further down) – can’t decide between these two which I like more for sure, but leaning to the first one due to the more symmetrical ears.. at the cost of the wolf staring directly at the viewer in the one below.  Hit the comments section and give me your thoughts.. which as always are valuable input into the upcoming competition season – Linda’s already beginning to worry but the Yellowstone trip is coming up and that is a rich environment for her preferred subjects.  Some photobombing may be in order hehehehe.

Hit the link to see more of these B&W wolf shots!

Continue reading Aftertreatment Sweetness

Two Soles to Support the Soul of Boston

A week ago yesterday two cretins from Chechnya decided carry out the message of hatred and violence spewing out from the mouths of insecure people cowering behind the cloak of a perverted ideology. What was the target of these bold and tough warriors of a faith… the innocent and defenseless bystanders at the Boston Marathon who took the extra effort to go out and cheer on participants of the most revered events in the running world. I can only hope there is a special place in the afterlife reserved for the dark of heart. A place that will provide rightful punishment for a pair of cowards that took pleasure in placing and detonating a bomb next to an 8 year old. I personally extend my sympathies To all whose lives were cut short or forever altered by the actions of these terrorists. By definition terrorists derive pleasure by instilling fear in the minds of others. I imagine they achieve satisfaction by the mere thought of someone opting out of a once pleasurable event due to uncertainty and concern for danger. Needless to say this could be the case for millions of running enthusiast around the world. Is someone else going to trying something similar at another race? Do I want to put myself at risk and stand with fellow runners in the starting chutes? Will I be concentrating on picking suspicious people out along the race route instead of watching my splits? Will I be able to feel the pride of conquering a difficult race or too paralyzed at what might happen at the finish line?

The answer to these questions is quite simply: HELL NO!

Terrorists tried to take my sport from me but last night my fellow runners and I TOOK IT BACK!

Our local specialty running store – Running Central – in Peoria Heights put out the call to show  our support and unity for our colleagues and the victims and families of Boston. In their honor running stores across the country were holding fund raisers and fun-runs. Running Central was offering tribute shirts with 100% of donations being forwarded to One Fund Boston, the charity endorsed by the Boston Athletic Association (and the mayor of Boston) to aid bombing victims.

The word went out to their running clientele, Facebook and local news agencies that the shirts would be available for purchase starting at 5:00pm with a fun run beginning at 5:30. Without question I was going to be there and hoped my fellow runners would be doing the same. Immediately after work Linda and I headed down there arriving just before the 5:00 hour. What I saw made me very proud to be a member of the running community.

The community had responded with a generous outpouring of support!  All types had taken up the call, casual runners, distance runners, speed runners, beginners to veterans, young to old were there to show their support for Boston.  By the time we made it to the area the line had nearly wrapped all the way around the courtyard.  I saw the owner of the store surveying the situation and noticed he headed back into the store to pull out a couple more tables.  Once placed he grabbed the microphone and greeted all the supporters thanking us for taking the time to honor the victims of Boston.  He then said something that caught me by surprise – actually disappointed me at first.  An apology came for not having ordered enough shirts – only 160 of them to be exact.  My disappointment wasn’t that I might not get a shirt (far from it), but rather his initial assumption of a low turnout.  Hopefully the turnout that night will forever change that for future events.

Hit the jump to read more about this special event!

Continue reading Two Soles to Support the Soul of Boston

What Big Eyes You Have

Based on the recent feedback from the Wildlife Prairie Park shoot, it appears that Badgers are not that appealing to my readers.  In addition, what I thought was simply a collection of cute and cuddly goslings conjure up images of horror that have been unsuccessfully suppressed.  Well, there is only one thing left to do and that is to bring out the big boys.  I am actually torn between deciding what was more exciting that day at the park.  The rare sighting of the Badger was definitely a highlight, but the time we spent at the Wolf exhibit is tough to beat.  Compared to all the times we have been to WPP and all the times we have experienced other captive Wolves, nothing stacks up against the awesome setting one of the Wolves chose to pass away the day.

This is one of those shots I could stare at all day.  Truth be told, I’ll get that chance since almost all of the shots in this set were sent out for prints based on the results out of the digital darkroom.  It was pretty sunny out that day and the Wolves were pretty lethargic having had their big meal for the week.  For those new to the Park, they tend to feed them on Sundays – guessing that consists of deer roadkill and other raw meat based on the bones the Wolves  keep a very protective watch over.  The Wolf above decided to help us out a bit and walked over to the tree line out of the harsh light.

Pure gold from a photographer’s perspective.  The observation platform sits above the enclosure giving us a means to shoot through the foliage.   The specific spot it picked to take a rest filtered out the harsh light but left enough ambient light to easily pull out the fur details.  Further benefiting the shoot, it remained alert providing a variety of facial expressions and head position.  After awhile, I became to question exactly who was watching who.

Be sure and hit the jump to see even more shots of the WPP Wolves

Continue reading What Big Eyes You Have

Goslings Lounging

Looks like our wonderful 67 degree weather day is going to transition to rain pretty soon.  Good thing I got my run in earlier.  if you recall, I’m in the midst of a Project Austin and today marked the first time on the road since three visits to Accelerated Performance.  Today was all about working on the list of things I need to change in my running form (and that list is long).  The good news is the tweaks resulted in very little pain in the hamstring – definitely a plus since that area usually flairs up during every run.  Maybe those torture deep tissue messages are going to pay off or it is simply terrified that if it makes its presence known it will get the hell gouged out of it again.  With the good news is a little bit of bad news.  Apparently these changes are engaging a different set of muscles that have been neglected due to the injury compensating.  At about mile 4 started feeling the effects and ended up backing down to only 5.5 miles today.  This wasn’t meant to be a quick journey so not concerned yet – real test will be next week to see how quick those neglected muscles are going to take before they kick in.  For now it’s just all about the rest.

Speaking of resting, that is the theme of today’s post.  Apparently my last post scared some of our readers (okay, some being ONE but she has some power over me).  Who wouldn’t want to curl up next to a badger? all fluffy for comfort and you know, NO ONE will mess with you if you are sleeping next to a BADGER (especially a Honey Badger because those are just bad-ass).  Instead I get a plea for a more pleasant looking animals.  Sigh, figured I get kudos for bringing something new and intriguing but instead I get a fear response – not unlike when your lovely wife finds a mouse in the car.  Fortunately, the badger wasn’t the only wildlife we captured that day.  Rifling through the shoot I decided on something more cute and plushy but added some contrast to it by taking it in an icky setting.

This isn’t the first time we’ve featured Canada Goose goslings here at LifeIntrigued (link here) but this is probably the nastiest setting I’ve bothered taking them in.  We had just arrived at the park and was caught off guard by the crowd of visitors.  Generally there is not problem parking in the close lots, but that day we were parked way out on a back road.  On our trek to the entrance these goslings caught my eye – yes, I did say goslingS!

Hit the jump to read more about these cuties

Continue reading Goslings Lounging

What Big Claws You Have

It’s April and that can only mean one thing.  That’s right, the post counter has been reset.  Figured tonight was a good night to start seeing as how I’d rather be sitting for an hour rather than working on a project.  This is due to having started my 50th round of rehab on the body.  This time I finally broke down and opted for the complete overhaul of my running mechanics combined with professional recovery and rebuilding of the body.  The constant injuries was definitely a catalyst for this decision – figured if I’m ever going to get in any condition to potentially tackle a marathon I better make sure the foundation is correctly built.  What I wasn’t expecting is how hard this was going to be.  After my gait assessment this week I have a LOT of changes to make.  Words of wisdom for you runners out there, when you manage to damage yourself pretty good.. take time off to get it fixed.  Apparently my body decided it would start compensating for its stupid owner which is likely the root of the problem.  Coupled with that is some serious torture they cleverly disguise by calling it message therapy.  Let me tell you, what it really means is warming up your leg with ultrasound (which actually feels good) and then digging the hell out of your leg to break up a 3.5″ band of scar tissue imbedded in your hamstring – god please don’t let me cry in public!  I got to thinking about this torture and immediately thought of the perfect post to compliment it.

Let us all welcome a new animal to the blog.  Just in case you prefer to hang out in the urban jungle, this here is a Badger.  While I was looking for the set of pictures that was supposed to be April’s theme, I discovered a shoot at Wildlife Prairie Park taken back in May ’12.  Somehow this had slipped through the crack on my post processing.  As the Yang and the Um goes, the bad of being unable to locate the original post has allowed for the discovery of an entirely new set for your pleasure.  The other set has been found, but we’ll get to those after a few posts from our favorite local wildlife sanctuary.

We have been visiting Wildlife Prairie Park since the day we both arrived in Peoria (when we were just two wide eyed kids out on a secret date).   From those initial visits up to this one I can’t remember a single time that this Badger ever showed itself.  The Badger enclosure is somewhat off on its own and has a few clay drainage pipes situated throughout giving it ample places to hide.   Based on the number of holes this boar (or sow) had dug it must spend sometime in the open.  To say I was surprised to see both of their Badgers out and about is an understatement.  Immediately the shutter was in full snap.

Hit the jump to read more about this interesting creature!

Continue reading What Big Claws You Have