March 31, 2010


Congratulations to Linja Design in Finland on their purchase of the domain I've owned that domain name for a long time (10+ years?) and recently used it to post homework. The domain should be in use by the new owner sometime next week.

We used an escrow service for the domain transfer this time. It took a little longer but offered assurance that the deal would be handled professionally.

I've invested in a number of domain names over the years and only sold one previously. Originally I purchased Linja because it combined the first letters of my first and last names at the time.

Recommended Reading: Domain Names for Dummies
Escrow Services: and Afternic

Postscript: The graphic above is one I created "way-back-when" using Adobe Photo Deluxe, a pre-2002 software that was replaced by Photoshop Elements.

March 30, 2010

Another Place to Make a Cartoon-Style Avatar

cartoon of woman
I made this avatar at the SP Studio site. Except that I added the squirrel on the lower left using Photoshop and copying the bunny.

See also these previous posts:

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Blog Post #2400

Wow, this is the 2400th entry to this blog. I've been posting here since June of 2005 - that's a long time! I feel I should finally finish introducing myself so here's a brief summary of places I've worked starting with recent history and looking back for more than three decades.
  • Currently semi-retired, doing some website work, data entry and photography.
  • In Woodbridge, Virginia, I worked in real estate
  • American Statistical Association, Alexandria - webmaster
  • Various Government Contractors in Northern VA - technical writer
  • Writer's Assistant in Washington, DC
  • Photographer for Sears Portrait Studio
  • Photographer's Assistant, Lee's Photography
  • Various Govt Contractors as Executive Assistant
  • Various Temp Jobs inc data entry and secretary
  • UWA as Admin Assistant and Secretary
  • VA Tech Extension as 4-H Club Organizer

March 29, 2010

Squirrel, 2008

This is a picture from two years ago. We haven't had squirrels on our deck in a long time because I stopped putting their favored seeds in this feeder. Now I just put Nyjer seed here and put the tastier stuff in other feeders that are safer for squirrels to reach. Our deck is a full story from the ground with no stairs so the squirrels had to leap onto it from tall trees and when they landed, we were startled by the thud and the dogs got upset and barked.

March 28, 2010

Building Lot with Views

woodlandSupinlick Ridge is a long ridge east of Great North Mountain. Part of it is within Bryce Resort but much of it is still undeveloped and pretty much undiscovered. There are several lots for sale on top of the ridge and judging from the ones I've seen that have been partly cleared, most of them have spectacular views (example).

Frank has listed a 6-acre lot on top of the ridge. Now that the snow has melted, he was able to get a clear photo (above). The woodland is is second-growth forest; that is, it was been cleared some years ago but tall trees have now grown back.

Since the lot is outside of Basye (and south of Route 263) but still in Shenandoah County, it's legal address in in Mount Jackson, although the town is about 11 miles to the eas

See post about the area: Basye and Orkney Springs Community.

March 27, 2010

Assignment: PaintShop Pro

I'm trying to complete a web-based class in PaintShop Pro offered by KSurf (formerly Virtual University). I find it hard to devote the amount of time required to complete the assignments, especially since the software is on Frank's PC so I have to wait until he's not using it.

March 26, 2010

It's Green

The fields are turning green in the Shenandoah Valley. For a couple of weeks they were mostly brown, but that period was very brief because snow was on the ground for most of the winter.

I'm glad to see spring come!

March 25, 2010

Seen Near New Market

These figures stand in front of the Old Valley Pike Country Store north of New Market, VA. Across Route 11 among the cedars stands the 54th Pennsylvania Monument.

I enhanced the second photo in Photoshop, filtering for a painterly look. I also added a canvas texture because I like to make obvious the fact that I altered the image beyond the usual cropping and brightening.

Cloudy Skies Near Mount Jackson

I was driving to Mount Jackson on Monday, in and out of rain showers. I pulled of onto Scothern Road just west of I-81 to take a few pictures of the sky and the Massanutten Range.

March 24, 2010

Marker: Civil War Strasburg

This Civil War Trails marker stands by the Strasburg Museum near the railroad tracks. Here's an excerpt:
"In the summer of 1861, Confederate Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s forces captured large quantities of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad rolling stock near Harper’s Ferry, 40 miles north. To reach the Manassas Gap Railroad line in Strasburg, the equipment had to be pulled by horses and mules up the Valley Turnpike from Martinsburg. Fourteen locomotives and almost a hundred cars were brought here and then used throughout the Confederacy.

Signal Knob, the northern end of Massanutten Mountain, can be seen in the distance from here. During the war, it served as an observation and signaling station from which the Confederates observed Union positions and directed the opening attack of the Battle of Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864. "

The marker also discusses the pottery industry in Strasburg. Read the rest of the text on

March 23, 2010

A Short Visit to Strasburg

Downtown Strasburg, VA

barber shop
libraryWe spent a few hours in Strasburg so Frank could get a haircut and we could have lunch. Strasburg is in northern Shenandoah County.

The third photo shows the public library. A plaque on the building tells about the house:
In this house, George G. Crawford, M.D. (1876-1949) practiced medicine, and with his wife, Anne Preston (1880-1966) reared their family. This house is given to the people of Strasburg in their memory and in memory of Ellen C. Hatmaker (1904-1982).
All who have lived, visited and worked in this house remember it with affection.


Frank wearing Sunglasses

March 22, 2010

LFCC Offers Winchester Civil War Class

prof. noyalasA one-day class in Civil War history will include a tour of sites related to the First Battle of Winchester. Professor Jonathan Noyalas will give a morning lecture at LFCC Middletown about Stonewall Jackson’s life and legacy followed by the afternoon tour.

Read about Mad with Delight: The First Battle of Winchester at LFCC Workforce Solutions.

I've taken a couple of these short courses before, one covering the Emancipation Proclamation and African Americans in the Shenandoah and another one on Cedar Creek - see my November posts for those pictures.

Postscript: The printed schedule has the incorrect date. The correct date is April 10.

March 21, 2010

Crocuses are Blooming

Note the yellow pollen and the busy pollinator.

Downward Facing Bird

March 20, 2010

Chalk Drawing

I found a few drawings in chalk that I made many years ago. I gave up on chalk rather quickly because it was messy and I wasn't good with it. This is the only one that I'm not embarrassed to show you.l

From My Old Sketchbooks

I'm throwing out some old sketchbooks. I found a few drawings that seem worth saving. The paper is yellowing so I'm scanning them.

These I would have made during my teen years. After that I stopped drawing except for doodling.

March 19, 2010

One Last Ski Slope Picture

Bryce Resort, Virginia

The ski season is finally over; spring has arrived. I opened this photo yesterday in order to try out a Photoshop plug-in which is supposed to eliminate "noise" from digital images. Skies are my biggest noise problem, and from what I've read are often a challenge as far as showing digital noise. When I zoom in on the sky in a picture I often see blocky blotchy areas especially toward the upper corners of the image.

The plug-in did not perform very well on this sky. Neither did the "noise reduction" filter or "dust and scratches." Finally I smoothed out the blues by selecting the sky using the "magic wand," creating a new layer as a copy of the selection, and saturating it just enough that the blotches faded.

March 18, 2010

Odd When It's Cropped

Late Afternoon at Shenandoah River Lakes
March 4, 2010

These guys were feeding when I took their picture. The photo above may look a bit unusual until you look at the uncropped picture. The ducks had their heads in the water and their tails in the air.

March 17, 2010

Follow Mosby and other Guerillas

millThe Summer 2010 catalog for Northern Virginia Community College is online although registration does not open until the end of March.

I was glad to see that a Civil War field trip is scheduled. Subject is Civil War Guerillas and dates are May 21-23, 2010.

See previous Mosby tour photos.

A St. Patrick's Day Squirrel

Drawing with a Trackpad

My MacBook has a large trackpad instead of a mouse. It's about 3 by 4 inches and that's large enough to draw on. So I downloaded a little program called Inklet and sure enough, now I have a little drawing tablet. I also got an inexpensive stylus but if it works better than using a finger, I'm not skillful enough to tell.

Here's my test drawing created using Inklet and Photoshop - pretty clumsy but I'm going to try again. A complication is that you press another finger (or your opposing thumb) on the trackpad at the same time to make it active.

March 16, 2010

The Creeks are High

Mount Clifton, VA

Melting snow combined with several days of rain have flooded the creeks and rivers of the Shenandoah Valley.

March 15, 2010

Lake Laura through the Trees

Lake Laura, Basye, VA

trees and lakeWhen I was at Nancy M's for drawing class last week, I took a break and looked at her view of the lake. It was still covered with a thin layer of snow. Directly across you can see the public boat landing that fishermen use to access the lake.

Nancy and her husband are planning to move back to the city so they are preparing to put the house on the market. It is in Bryce Resort, has three levels and was custom-built. Even though it is 10 minutes or so from the main road, it should sell quickly because lakeside homes are very desirable.

March 14, 2010

My Investment Townhouse is Ready

My townhome in Woodstock is ready for the tenants who are moving in tomorrow. Today we got the downstairs floors looking spiffy, and just about everything else was done last week.
It's the first time since last spring that we've felt we can relax as far as our properties being fixed up. A year ago my tenant in Northern Virginia lost his job and stopped paying his rent. When he moved out, I decided to sell that house and buy one closer to where we live now. Unfortunately there was a lot of work to do on that house, and even though we found good contractors, we had to make several trips down there to arrange things. By the time that was ready to sell, Frank had a house come vacant near mine and decided to sell it too. His did not need as much work as mine, but it took time because it was also two hours from home. Eventually both houses sold.

We bought the lake house as a replacement for his and it needed repairs and remodeling. Before we finished it, I closed on the townhouse (a foreclosure) and started getting repairs done. Finally both are ready for renters, and as some sort of grand finale, both have tenants moving in tomorrow.

Geese in the Yard

When we arrived at the lake house on Thursday, we saw geese strolling through the yard. When they saw us, they headed for the wetlands nearby but not before I took a few pictures of them.

Not far away, there were more geese next to the lake. They were Canada Geese and there were close to a hundred of them. I believe they were visitors; I haven't seen so many Canada Geese at the lake before.

The geese pictured here are domestic geese, probably farm geese gone wild, if you can call it wild when they are living comfortably on a community lake and getting treated to regular handouts by people who live nearby.

March 13, 2010

Fighting Geese

The geese were marching along peacefully and suddenly two of them started honking violently. I looked and two of them were fighting, attacking each other mercilessly.

Spring is coming and I imagine they were male geese fighting for the right to court a female. After a few minutes they stopped, one of them rushing off and the other one pursuing for just long enough to make sure he was gone.

March 12, 2010

We Own Part of a Lake

Yesterday we walked the lakefront path again to look at the three lots I bought near our property in Waterlick. We located a couple of plastic ribbons tied to trees which are probably left from a survey. Each lot is about 100 feet wide and covers close to an acre except that part of the acreage is under water. The lot that is closest to the end of the lake has a boundary about 50 feet from the dam. The dam itself is owned by the community and is a popular location for fishing.

The lots are not as wet as they were when we last visited, for the melted snow has had time to drain off. They have numerous cedar trees plus brush and honeysuckle.

One of the people we purchased the lots from had inherited two lots from her parents. When they purchased the lots early in the subdivision's history, the lake was not built yet although it was in the planning stages. She said that her family camped on the property before the neighborhood was developed. Her husband said that now he has Parkinson's disease and is trying to simplify; he seemed relieved to sell the property.

The Lake House is Ready

Yesterday we finished getting the lake house ready for the tenants who are moving in soon. Frank spent a painful amount of time installing a light fixture but finally it was done. We cleaned up and loaded our supplies in the car, but before leaving we walked around outside, enjoying the warm weather and sunshine. It feels like winter is finally over.

March 11, 2010

Birds Roosting in Trees

I almost called this post "Roosters" because those who roost are indeed roosters, but I realized that folks would look for chickens and be disappointed.

These photos were taken at Shenandoah River Lakes which is in Warren County at Waterlick, VA.

March 10, 2010

A Thought for 2010

This photo is one that I captured through the sliding glass doors when the snow was fresh. Our snow is pretty much gone now, but I liked this image well enough to use it for a belated new year's message.

March 9, 2010

Gray Squirrel

He kind of blends in, doesn't he? I added poster edges in Photoshop to try to bring him out, but the colors keep him camouflaged.

March 8, 2010