Saying Goodbye…Sort of

11 10 2010

The time has come to say goodbye – oh, don’t worry, the blog will still be here, but I won’t be updating it any longer. Over the last couple of months I’ve had to sit down and re-assess where I’m going and what I’m doing, and how much time I spend doing it. Currently I maintain something like 15 blogs and three websites, and I simply no longer have the time to keep up with them all, so I’ve decided to stop updating some of the ones that have similar contents, like this one.

I’ve had a blog on Blogger for some time that also has free stock photos, and I’ve decided to (gasp) keep that one and update it more often. The reason is simple…Blogger offers me more functionality in being able to edit the blog design, and in search functions, and uses Picasa Web Albums to store the photos when I need to. WordPress offers not so much in the way of being able to edit the template unless you pay for it (and I haven’t been all that pleased with the new templates and sorely miss the Cutline one), and the storage facilities aren’t as good. Blogger also allows me to purchase a domain name and set it up for meager fee – $10 a year. WordPress allows you to set up a domain, but it costs more money, and you pay for the mapping.

Blogger also allows me to place ads – and although that isn’t the only reason I chose to stick with the Blogger blog, it was the icing on the cake.  I can use affiliate links to my stock sites where I sell my commercial images, and if I want, I can use AdSense or other ads. Even if I only come up with $100  a year in advertising earnings (you need that much to get paid with AdSense, but less with other advertisers) it will pay for the cost of domain name registrations each year, and perhaps upgrading the storage amount if I run out.

Not that I intend to place a big pile of ads on my site – there’s nothing worse than a site loaded with so many ads you can’t find the contents. But even one unobtrusive text link unit will be helpful.

I have no problems with providing free content to people – if you don’t like the ad, turn on an adblocker when you visit – that isn’t going to bother me much. If I can pay for the upcoming domain name (haven’t bought that yet, but will…very soon) then I’m happy with that.

Gracey's Free Stock Photos

So, for any of you who’ve been using images from this blog, you’ll find them all ported over to Gracey’s Free Stock Photos. It’s a simple place – no dancing, blinking, bouncing ads, no fancy gewgaws, much like this place here.

If you aren’t happy with that, you can still get full size images over on, and always will be able to. So, wordpress fans, it’s bee a slice, but this girl’s cake is just gettin’ too tired to frost anymore. Thanks for everything guys – happy blogging, wherever you go.

A Little Fall Colour

10 10 2010


The rural colours of fall - autumn in the country, Thanksgiving weekend trees, Canada

Thanksgiving Weekend - Rural Colours


We’re moving into the cooler weather now…not cold, except overnight where it dips down to minus 1 celcius already, but we’ve had a pretty wet fall. Most of September was rather wet with much cooler temperatures than we generally see in September. It was a little disappointing, really…we look at September as the last blast of summer, but this year it felt much more like the omen of a bad winter to come than the end of summer. We saw temperatures dipping down to almost freezing even at the end of August during the night, making for an early show of autumn colour. Normally the leaves


Rural Autum - trees on a hill. Thanksgiving Weekend, Canada. Fall colours.

Thanksgiving Trees


don’t begin to show the change of season until sometime in late September/early October, but 2010 brought the colour change while we were still counting off the days of August.

I really love the autumn…it’s blaze of colour makes our country surroundings beautiful, especially during the early periods of fall when the grass and some of the trees are still the bright strident green you see after a rainfall. The heavy night dews give the autumn grass and lawn a deep green we don’t see at other times of the year. Spring grass has a light fresh green colour, and summer grass has a


Autumn at the wildlife reserve - marsh in fall colours against blue pond with ducks and geese.

Langman Sanctuary in Autumn - Orillia, Ont.


slightly dry and sometimes dull green from the hot days and little rain, but in fall it’s simply that colour we call green – grass green. The bright yellows, reds, oranges and sometimes brown or melon of the leaves contrasting with that lovely green is a jaw-dropping blast in our part of the world. I love it. Crisp days of sunshine, blue sky, and even bluer water.

During the summer the water tends to get a little greenish here – that’s a sign of all the activity on our lakes – boaters, swimmers and more boaters, but in the autumn the lakes change to a deep blue. Probably because the waters are cooling a little, and probably partly because the boaters are gone for the season and the algae that gets churned up in the summer settles back down to the bottom. The colours of autumn reflect of the blue of the


Thanksgiving weekend at Langman Wildlife Sanctuary - ducks and geese on an autumn pond.

Reflecting Colours at Langman Sanctuary


stiller waters like they were reflecting off a mirror –  peaceful and gorgeous.

In Canada, we’re celebrating our Thanksgiving holiday this weekend.  We sort of look at this as the last official long weekend for things like camping, and summer cottages. Our area has many cottages that are winterized, but those whose cottages aren’t, close them up over the Thanksgiving weekend and tuck them in for a long winter. Boaters winterize their boats and put them into storage, classic car enthusiasts tuck their beauties into garages to keep themout of the winter snows and life slows down again for a little while. Tourists are mostly gone and we have our town back, stores have Halloween decorations one one side of the aisle and Christmas on the other side, kids are back in school, and the holidays are finished. At least until Christmas. Monday is our Thanksgiving (Oct 10), and we’ve spent the weekend working in the gardens getting them ready to survive the long cold winter ahead; we also usually spend time driving about the rural roads trying to record the lovely autumn colors.


A farm cart full of pumpkins for sale with signs.

Pumpkins for Pie


Autumn is short here – at least most of the time. You never really know when the colours will be gone. You can get up one day and see a glorious countryside full of colours you can’t even describe, and get up the next morning to trees that have shed through the night. At this time of year all it takes is a rainy, windy night and it’s over. The colours of fall lay strewn across field and pavement and lake, like so many pieces of confetti.

As is always the case, I’m not looking forward to winter at all. I hate the cold. I hate being cold.





More Photos from the Weekend


Rural roadside, Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada

Colours of Fall - Rural Roadside



A local farm in Autumn - Orillia, Ontario (Can.) - fall, autum, barn

Local Farm in Autumn



A farm field and laneway with a tree line full of colour - Thanksgiving Weekend, Canada.

Rural Autumn Laneway & Fields



Workhorses in October Field

Workhorses in October Field



Geese in flight, backlit by the sun from above. Langman Sanctuary.

Geese in Flight - Langman Sanctuary



Trumpeter Swan at Langman Sanctuary - October

Trumpeter Swan at Langman Sanctuary - October



Thanksgiving weekend at Langman Sanctuary - Trumpeter Swan

Langman Sanctuary - Trumpeter Swan


Anybody looking for images specifically for Thanksgiving and Halloween can find some more over in the royalty free stock photo section (did I mention, they’re free to use) on Don’t forget to check the graphics and .png sections too – they each have a few related images.

Sometimes, Life is for the Birds!

1 09 2010

large plastic bird feeder shaped like a red barnReal birds that is. Living at the edge of city we get quite a few birds hitting up our feeders; sometimes, they fight over them. We have three good sized birdsmall sparrow perched at the edge of a roof feeders on the front porch, and in the back yard,  an old feeder my dad built that feeds a number of small birds in their own cubbyholes. The holes are small to keep the squirrels and larger birds out, so the feeder is suitable for the small yellow finches, the little sparrows and wrens, and the tiny chickadees. The feeders at the front porch dispense the feed onto a bottom platform and we generally get sparrows and yellow finches, but also find ourselves inundated with starlings, and on occasion the large crows and blackbirds try to feed off them too. When there’s a fight over the feeders, they swing back and forth small sparrow perched at the edge of a rooftopspilling the millet and sunflower seeds onto the front porch, bringing the doves who prefer to feed off solid platforms as opposed to swinging bird feeders. Having a pond and birdbath with moving water adjacent to the feeders also helps bring the birds into the yard.

Not far from our house is a large wooded area open to the public which is known as “Grants Woods”. This used to be a private estate, and on the grounds is a fieldstone house and a large gazebo at the side yard. This gazebo has a picnic table and benches around the edges, with feeding platforms for the birds. Nearby are a number of feeding stations for the birds too. We discovered on a recent outing that if a person sits at the gazebo, you can see and photograph the birds without frightening them away.  On that particular day, I was only equipped with a young bluejay at a feeder with a peanut in it's beak200mm lens, so I wasn’t able to get as close as I’d have liked.  If you leave the gazebo to move closer to the feeding stations, the birds disappear in a hurry.   We’re planning another trip out there to simply sit and watch (ie: photograph) the birds, but this time I’ll be taking my 400mm lens and tripod and setting it up in the gazebo.

female hairy woodpecker at bird feederThis last trip I managed to photograph a young bluejay, and a pair of hairy woodpeckers (male and female), along with a sparrow, who appears to be able to share the feeder with the bluejay and not get into arguments. But besides those I managed to capture, there are yellow fitches, and tufted titmouse, and I’m pretty certain I also saw a cedar waxwing. I was hoping to find a cardinal, but we were only at the gazebo for a short period of time at the end of our treck through the forest and woods.

A quick hop from there on our way home and we were at the sanctuary (hard place for me to stay away from), where we got a look at this male hairy woodpecker at bird feederyear’s crop of baby mute swans; they’ve grown from small bundles of fuzz into the youth stage, though they are only about 4-5 months old right now. Of the four babies, two are white, and two are brown (the brown is most common until they are adults, with white babies being less common). The Orillia Fish & Game Conservation club have been working in the swan pond and fixed up an area that was quite overgrown. They’ve removed some of the wilder undergrowth and patched up some areas with gravel and generally have 4 month old cygnet of a mute swan with white coloringspent some time cleaning up the area. I was rather surprised at the number of ducks resting in this area – generally you might see two or three ducks at the swan’s pond, but on this trip there were more than a dozen sitting quietly in the cleaned up areas near the gravel beds. The swans seem happy enough to share their compound with the ducks, but don’t tolerate the geese very well.

On this trip we took along a couple of heads of lettuce to feed the swans (they eat greens or corn) and as my husband approached the fence they lined up side-by-side to receive their greens. It was funny to see them in a neat row like that – most of the time they are stepping on each other to get to the food, although they certainly don’t go hungry. The pond is full of growth for them to feed off, and the OFGC has a member feed the swans every day with boxes of greens and corn, and of course at some point through the day, there are always visitors to feed them.

You should be able to download any of the images from this post (the full size available) by clicking on the image.

a group of ducks resting in a swan's compound

young bluejay and sparrow at bird feeder

young bluejay without the recognizable bluejay head crest

female hairy woodpecker at bird feeder

female hairy woodpecker at bird feeder

male hairy woodpecker at feeder

small house sparrow at the edge of a rooftop

small house sparrow

small brown sparrow at bird feeder

young bluejay at bird feeder

Just a Mix of Odds ‘n’ Ends

13 08 2010

A & W RestaurantThis last couple of weeks have been  pretty busy for us…sometimes I wonder where the time goes.

Today’s offerings are just a mix of images, some taken over this summer, some old favourites, and some…well, just because I felt like it. As I gathered the images together,  they resolved themselves into categories – seasons, like autumn/fall, spring florals, and toys. Most of the pictures bring back memories of holidays, or places, and some even reminded me of the people I was with when the photos were taken.

I don’t really have much to say today, I’m not feeling very chatty, so hopefully in this mad mix of free images, you’ll find something useful. Most of these are sized at around 1000 pixels on the longest size, and saved ready to use for websites or blogs. If you need larger or higher res images, many of these are already uploaded over on Free-3d-Textures so you can head on over there to find the bigger ones.

Newspaper Pile - stack of newspapers with folded side out.

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Pathway in Woods

Watery Landscape

Park garden with petunias and trees.

Spring Tulips

Tulips and Grape Hyacinth

Pumpkins in Rows

A lineup of rubber duckies with different personalities.

Handrawn family of rubber duckies.

Fuzzy teddy with white face, brown coat and candy striped buttons.

Hand drawn beach toys - pail, shovel, rake and beach ball.

Hand drawn Ice Cream Cone

Summer is Here…and the Water is Fine

25 07 2010

Kids playgroundThis year, summer is turning out to be…well…summer! In the last fewyoung mom and son exchange hugs in a summer park setting years our summer season has been much cooler than we normally expect, and a lot wetter, leaving us with only small periods of time to get out and enjoy the sun and summer activity. Last year, I spent a lot of the summer wearing long sleeves, jeans and even turtlenecks. That wasn’t my idea of a nice summer. This year, however, has been an old-fashioned summer with lots of sun, hot days and cooler nights. Sure, we’ve had some rain and thunderstorms here and there, but on the whole, it’s been great. We’ve been able to spend time at the beach, and out on the boat and walking and hiking. I haven’t spent nearly as much time at the computer this summer, but I’m storing up lots of photographs that I can process through the winter months.

I did a fairly lyoung girl on a boat ride wearing a flotation device - boating safetyarge update on and added a bunch of new photos. Photo updates have been going a little slower, mostly because of my time spent outdoors, but I think the photo count is up around 750 now on the royalty free stock photos. This update includes some summer-fun photos, and a few “odds and sods” here and there.

Our grandkids love getting out in the boat with us – one of their favourite activities is tubing, but we haven’t gone out and purchased one as of yet. We’ve used a borrowed one on occasion and while it’s a blast of fun, it scares me a little. Seeing my grandkids bouncing off a flying donut in a rough lake full of other boaters scares the crap out of me…I know it shouldn’t, because we follow all the safety rules, but still…. When my own girls were littlLife jacket or vest - wear for safety while boating - especially kids!e we taught them how to waterski and that didn’t scare me as much as watching my grandkids in these tubes…which to me look like nothing more than huge inner-tubes with a bottom.  Most often when we’ve got the kids out we’ll take the boat over to one of provincial parks (we’ve got a few in our area) and anchor off the swimming area and we’ll all swim off the boat.

This year we invested in some new life jackets too. Boating regulations have changed a little, and boaters must now have a license to kids having fun at a park with water features - splashpad, summer fundrive a boat in our waters, and kids can’t anymore. That’s a step forward, really. There were too many people on the lakes with little to no knowledge of proper boating. The OPP have been out in force on the lakes this year, checking for licensed drivers and checking for the requirements – on board you must have enough life jackets for each passenger. People unKids at play at a park with a spalshpad - a water park for children; girl, bathingsuit, wet, fun, summer, play, sisters, siblings, child, children, laughingder 16 must wear a life jacket appropriate to their size while in the boat, adults must have one within reach. Other requirements are paddles, bailers, anchors…an assortment of items for safety purposes. We have all that…we’ve always had all that, but my husband and I have been boating on and off since we were kids. I still haven’t bothered to go and my license, but I probably should…when I have time.  We probably have something like 10 life jackets on board now – too many really, because our boat doesn’t have the capacity for 10. We can seat about 8 comfortably – 10 if we need to, but we seldom do.  We can seat 6 in the boat itselfKids at play at a park with a spalshpad - a water park for children; girl, bathingsuit, wet, fun, summer, play, child, children, laughing (seats for everyone), and 4 kids (or 2 adults) in the bow.

Our grandkids all have their own life vests because their other granparents are also boaters, but we really need to get a couple of kids jackets for the boat. Two of them can wear the adult small jackets, but two still need a kids jacket and there have been times when they forgot to bring their own. We have a couple of neck-style flotation devices (older, but still work) that do fit them, but, like everything else in life these things need updated from time to time.

Today is Sunday…and supposed to be a nicer day out. I’m thinking we might have to go buy a tube today!

boy having fun tubing, and wearing his life jacket©Veronica Stinson-Hickey, Hickey Family (with permission)

Feeling Blue

26 06 2010

Delft Blue ceramic tile in wooden frame. Tile has windmill scene in blue.I suppose I should begin by issuing yet another apology. The last couple of months have been (what feels like) a never ending battle to pack up my Aunt’s house and empty it out so we can list it on the market for her. She’s not really in a position to help (anyway she’s 82 and there isn’t a lot she could do) and as it stands, today (Saturday) she’s schedule for yet another surgery – this will be the second major one in a couple of months.  At the current time, most of her belongings are packed in boxes and taking up an awful lot of the main floor of my home…I’ m beginning to feel like a “hoarder”. Two rooms are Cappo DiMonte Blue and White tall waterjug.completely full, with only a small pathway one can navigate if they are careful.

The plan was to have  large garage sale and sell off the works, except for the few smaller things she could fit into a private room in a Nursing Home (still waiting for that – the wait time is 6 months to a year).  I spent nearly two weeks UNpacking all the boxes we brought here, washing the stuff in them, pricing them and then REpacking them so that we’d be ready come garage sale day. That’s today. Unfortunately, it appears to be raining, and on checking the weather…is going to continue raining all day.  I’m not sure what we’ll do at this point (shudder).

For most her married life, my aunt has been a collector of blue and white. It started with Delft, and blossomed into almost anything that was blue and white . She has a rather extensive collection of Delft, and a collection of Royal Crown Derby china in blue white; the pattern title is “Mikado”. Unless you happen to be a china collector you wouldn’t understand how difficult (or expensive) it is to try to collect that particular pattern.  She also had a large”ish” collection of Blue Willow (old stuff, not the kind you can buy today). On top of those, she has a large (12 full place settings) of Royal Doulton dinnerware in the Fleur deLis pattern – lovely and delicate, but difficult to match today. It’s about 45+ Blue and White Oriental Teapotyears old. That’s only a smattering of the things in her home – she had a fetish for oriental figurines and decor, though we’ve passed on many of the smaller pieces to my niece, who (she’s 15) had fallen in love with my aunt’s oriental  pieces.

I’m really not sure how much longer I can live with all this stuff in my home. I’m an orderly person when it comes to my home – everything placed just so and not a lot of nic-nacs.  Being surrounded by boxes and boxes of “stuff” (even good stuff)  has made me a little crabby of late – not being able to clean properly or keep things tidy has kept me from doing some of things I do on a normal basis – my photography studio is one of the rooms that’s filled floor to ceiling and wall to wall. There’s a small path leading to the storage closet with my equipment, but the equipment isn’t that much good if there’s no where to set it up. My office is the other room that’s packed with boxes, with a pathway to my computer. Unfortunately, I can’t get into the shelving units, or my file cabinets, and although I can “reach out and touch” my printer, I can’t open it (too many boxes in front of it) to put in the paper (not the  paper roll, nor the sheet papers) so even making prints to sell is out of the question right now.

(sigh) This too shall pass.

Colllection of Blue Delft Pieces.

Dutch Coaster Sets

Delft Plate in blue and white with blacksmith & horse scene.

At the moment, if you want to use these images you’ll have to download them in size available from this blog. Eventually when we manage to get through the sale and cleanup, these images (and many more – there are 20 of these plates above, along with mugs, jubs, bowls, etc.) will be uploaded to my free stock site and will be available in larger sizes. Right now, I just haven’t the time to upload them all.

Wish me luck!

Long Past Due

24 03 2010

Chinese Style Victorian ChairI’m a little overdue for updating this site – sorry folks. Family issues keep intruding on my schedule. That happens when your family gets Dresser set in pinkolder. Currently trying to care for my last remaining aunt (whose in her 80s) who fell on Saturday night in her kitchen and couldn’t reach the phone. She lay there for 24 hours before we found her. We’re very grateful she was still alive, although she had a broken hip and has just come out of surgery safe and sound. Now the long road to recovery begins. Before she leaves the hospital (where I visit each day) I’ll have a little time, I think, but once she heads home I probably won’t be able to post anything new for a while. No internet access at her place, and the chances of me having to live there for a while could be pretty large.

When it comes to stuff like this, you just have to put family first – particularly since we are getting pretty short on older family members. Once she’s no longer with us, my generation will be the “oldies” of our family (shudder). I’m not sure I ever saw myself in that position before…

Anyway, in honor of my aunt, here are a few more photos from her place. There’s another chair – a chinese victorian chair in gold with an oriental patterned fabric in black – it sits rather prettily in her guest bedroom, as does the dresser set. It’s an english porcelain set with pink and raspberry designs. Also from the same room is this lamp which sits on the night table at the bedside. It’s a vintage lamp from the early 1950s in the shape of a victorian lady; here, the skirt and lampshade are made from the fabric of the bedspread and window coverings.Vintage Glass Lamp

From the top of the dresser comes this vintage glass lamp (1940s) with red glass shade a crystal drops. My grandmother got these lamps, one at a time, by collecting coupons from laundry detergent at some of the homes where she worked as a cleaner.  My grandmother raised her children mostly alone, and lost one at the age of 12. In a time when women with kids didn’t work outside the home she did many things to keep her family together – from cleaning homes of the wealthy, to taking in laundry, and sending her kids out to follow the coal truck to pick up any bits of coal that fell off so they could heat their home. Considering the age of these glass lamps, they must have been “prized” back then. Today, they are still in excellent condition with no chips or nicks in the glass, or crystals.

From her dining room, a chinoiserie-style pair of candlesticks – quite tall, but rather interesting with their gold, rose and pale blue designs.tall candlestick in pale blue, rose and gold

piggy banks with coinOther images uploaded in the last couple of weeks include some more landscapes, a couple of buildings, more piggy banks, a corded telephone, three vintage autos on white backgrounds, and other varieties of stock type images. And of course you can download whatever you like from any of the sections at and use them on your blog or website, or most other purposes. Just read the (very liberal) use policy. Don’t forget to checkout the textures section, and the two new sections – one contains photo edges and photo frames, and the other has some free templates in .psd format for use in photoshop.

pretty easter egg with bowIn preparing for the upcoming Easter season, I’ve upload four easter eggs with designs – these are in black and white so you can colour them in photoshopcoloring page for kids with easter egg yourself, or print them off (they’ll print on an 8X10 sheet) for your kids to colour. And one completed graphic of a coloured easter egg with a nice big bow on top. If I have the time, I plan to upload coloured versions of the black and white eggs for use, and at least one bunny…but it will depend on how much time I’ve got before I get called to duty at my aunt’s place.

In the meantime, you are, of course, always welcome to trek through the site and grab what you need for your blogs.