Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

A snow globe holiday ornament hanging on the tree; inside is a snowman

While I confess that I sometimes find it quite a chore, one of my favorite traditions of the holiday season is decorating the tree. I always feel more in the spirit when the tree is up. It’s like the holidays become official to me somehow by this one tradition. Personally, I’ve always found that moment when everything is on the tree and you first turn the lights on to be a bit magical. It is truly my favorite part of the entire process and as a child I could often be found in the living room just sitting, mesmerized by our lit tree. My dad’s trees are always quite spectacularly filled with lights and they almost seem to glow from within when he’s through. I find it utterly beautiful and one of these days I’ll become adept enough with my camera and I’ll manage to capture a decent shot of it!

I finally put up and decorated my own tree last night/early this morning after, well, a lot of work. The snow globe ornament in the photo above is part of a set that my father gave me the Christmas before I moved into my very first apartment and they have prominently hung on my tree ever since. I’m kind of proud that I haven’t broken one yet since they are, obviously, quite delicate and rather heavy. Honestly, I don’t have the best track record with breakable ornaments. It’s a minor miracle if I only break one in a given year and last year, in fact, I broke on of my favorites while taking down decorations, which is generally when things seem to get broken. It’s probably why I procrastinate on that task as long as possible.

EDIT: I think I jinxed myself because one of these just fell off the tree and broke. ;_;

G is for Guide Dog

This month the Social Media ABC Photo Challenge at I Heart Faces is the letter “G” and so on a whim I submitted this photo I took last year of Uschi at the rose garden. (The one I turned into this rather striking black-and-white “sketch.”)

And then this happened:

Pardon me while I hyperventilate.

In other news, I’m looking at buying a new camera. I’ll post about that sometime.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wrong

Uschi lying on the floor looking very sad with her squeaky red ball toy balanced on her head

It’s quite often that people seeing me out and about with my guide dogs probe me with questions in an attempt to determine whether we’re a working team. However, the typical “is my dog in training” question never ceases to throw me because I’m of a mind that you never really stop training a dog. Even commonplace things such as obedience require constant reinforcement if you want the skills to be solid, especially in difficult or unexpected circumstances. Dogs really thrive on feeling that they are doing the right thing, too, so it’s nice to give them tasks that they will excel at and build from there.

Learning opportunities can present themselves anytime and without any warning. Take last night for instance, I was playing fetch with Uschi when the game took an unexpected turn, as it sometimes does when a blind person is tossing toys. The ball bounced off the floor and landed squarely on Uschi’s head. I took the moment as a prime one for a photograph, but Uschi seemed to be more of a mind that we were playing fetch wrong. Either way, we got a bit of down-stay practice and I got me a fun photo to share.

Lest you be worried over her downtrodden expression, I let her out of the stay right after taking this photo and she immediately went to work at trying to rupture my eardrums. Obviously, she’s no worse for the impromptu obedience lesson.

In completely other news, my post on achromatopsia from earlier this week was selected for WP.com’s Freshly Pressed feature. I’m still pretty blown away to be chosen. Honestly, I never expected it would happen, but if there was a post I could have picked to drive traffic to that would most certainly be the one. :-)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Winter

Uschi lying in the snow with her nose coated in ice and snow

I already completed the daily posting for this year and I shared this photo earlier this year, but I couldn’t resist participating in the very last photo challenge. I’m glad that other than the fluke storm back in October we haven’t yet been dumped upon this winter, but we have had some incredibly strange weather, well, for most of the year. Uschi will be happy when and if that does change — and she’ll be the only one under this roof who will. But I must admit, it’s hard to be cranky about cold and snow with a shepherd bouncing around in the backyard having the time of her life.

As to the photo itself, I’m particularly fond of it for a number of reasons: Uschi’s actually looking into the camera (and not everywhere but as per her usual demeanor) and it’s one of the rare captures where you can see the dynamic colors of her coat.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Waiting

Yara looking out across the lake at Washington Park

Yara’s puppy raisers dubbed her their “little supervisor” because she could almost always be found sitting in a good vantage point watching whatever was going on. And it’s still one of her defining traits even in retirement. I have to wonder if she’s actually waiting for something or really just enjoys observing the goings on around her. Either way, it certainly seems peaceful. As with most trips to Washington Park, on this particular day Yara was doing her supervising thing over the ducks on the lake.