Tell me a story: August 2021

I feel like I am always doing a nature walk for this group, but honestly that is what I did this week. After being quarantined for 2 weeks, and then an additional week while Richard was quarantined to make sure that he had not caught it from me, and then a baby shower following that, I really have not done anything else.

I had the opportunity to meet an old friend for breakfast on Friday morning. I have not been able to see her since her husband passed away earlier this year from Covid. We have tried to schedule a time but it kept getting postponed. By finally that time of blessing happened and I loved just being able to sit and spend time with her.

After breakfast I decided to take a walk through the wetlands. I needed to stretch my legs, and also to walk that food out. So that is what I did.

The wetlands is really quiet now. The wood stork have finished breeding and moved on and while there are still a few nesting birds, the amount is minimal. But I hoped that I may find an iguana and some dragon fly. I was not disappointed. Here are some images from my walk.

This Grackle was the first bird I came across in an area that the Wood Stork had vacated.
A Great Egret flying across my view
A juvenile Wood Stork still hanging out.
Alligator Flag creeping into the boardwalk
This looks like a Blue Dasher dragonfly with a badly damaged wing.
This bird is part of the Gallinule Family. I am going to assume it is a junior but I am not sure which kind.
The grasses have grown really high with all the rain we have had and this tricolored heron was attempting to do some fishing.
This picture brought a smile to my face. Yes, there are signs of fall and hopefully this really excessive heat will start to abate soon.
I don’t often see a Common Gallinule climbing on the branches. This is a common sight for the Purple Gallinule though.
Another sign of fall, falling leaves
My first encounter with an iguana but it was a little ways away.
A squirrel who looks like she is feeding babies.
New fern life
And old fern life
A four spotted pennant dragonfly
A closer encounter with an iguana who is in it’s breeding colors.
The peacefulness of the water lily.
Another sign of fall. Yes, Yes, Yes.
I think this is a Flame Skimmer
And then my fun encounter with an iguana. It was in the pathway. I took some photos and took a couple of steps closer and then next thing it squeezed it’s body between the flooring of the boardwalk and the edge of the wooden fencing. You can see the gap underneath my signature.
A close up of this incredible looking creature.
Phew, I escaped that human.
I love when you catch the Glossy Ibis in the sunlight. You can get a small glimpse here but they are so beautiful when the colors in their feathers really shine.
Nature’s still life – although it was on moving water I just loved the combination of natures falling leaves,

Walking out in the wetlands in the mid day is hot, and I have recently actively decided to wear cover up. Learning Richards story, with his melanoma, makes me realize just how important it is to have significant cover when I am out in the heat.

If you are a sunseeker like we have been, please consider using sunscreen that provides a significant cover, watch out for odd looking moles, and educate yourself. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. See a dermatologist and get yourself checked out. Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and we are dealing with this right now. This was the first thing I did since Richard came home in February after his melanoma Stage 4 diagnosis. I am good, but the peace of mind is so worth it. While the medication has shown some positive signs of working on reducing the melanoma, we have to be aware that melanoma is very unpredictable and you honestly need to take care.

Thank you for joining me this month.  This is a circle blog so take some time to view what the other artist has for you this month. My friend Lupji of LUPJi Photography is up next. I look forward to reading what he has to share.

30 Minutes in the Life: August 2021

I feel like I want to say how did we get to August, but truthfully I want to say I survived this awful, stressful year up to August.

It’s been a hard year which really started in November of 2020 when Richard started feeling ill, but it was only in February, at my insistence, that he went to the ER and was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma. I have to be honest that this rocked my world. If I didn’t have to be strong for the kids and for Richard I would have just melted down in a puddle. The day he asked me for his will prior to surgery, sent my BP up over the top. It took me a while to figure out that they wanted his living will. At the same time we found out that Amy was pregnant. In March she was deemed a high risk pregnancy, which just added to the stress of Richard’s diagnosis. In April my beloved Hoo, my rescue Quaker Parakeet died. I was devastated. He kept me in routine and I was able to have such laughter with him in the crazy moments. In May, my brother had an adverse result to some tests he had. He had been my rock in the previous months and it felt like the bottom of my world had just fallen away. Praise God, he was cleared of any further adverse results. Just when I thought nothing else could go wrong my brother’s wife was admitted to hospital with Colon Cancer. Surgery was done and they believe that they managed to get everything but she is now on chemo. Tests will tell her story moving forward. I was almost out of July, and thinking I had survived the month, when I was exposed and tested positive for covid. Ugh so close. August has brought us additional concerns with Richard. He found some lumps at the base of the neck which we think are lymph glands. Ultrasound is inconclusive and so we just wait and see. I don’t want to know what September is going to dish up….. But in October we have some exciting news.

In the midst of all of this drama, there has been an exciting happening and that is the advent of our first grandchild. In July and August, I began prepping for a baby shower. Baby showers these days a very different to baby showers in my days. I remember having a few friends over and my mom made a couple of cakes and some savories and there was chips and dip. This baby shower was a little different.

Amy asked if it could be a more formal event, sit down seating and a theme and games and prizes and such things. She wanted it to be nice. I was extremely grateful to her two friends who were a tremendous help setting up and prepping everything the day before and the morning of the event.

And so I began planning. What does it look like. Pinterest became my friend. Amy is very into nature and animals and so we settled on a succulent theme and I began to design artwork around the theme, and look at colors that worked with nature. She also wanted it to be a couples event.

Fortunately I have table cloths and chair covers from Cameron’s wedding rehearsal, and Amy’s wedding that we had at home. Once again I borrowed tables and chairs, and then settled on green and champagne colored tie backs. On the center of the table, I wanted to keep the decorations low and only have one center bromide that stood higher. I ran a burlap strip down the table, then added moss (from home depot), and pebbles, along with fake air-plants, succulent candles in vases, along with the cutest little takeaway succulents in pots with a “Watch me grow” sign.

In addition I added mini vases tied with string and a tiny daisy flower with baby’s breath. The vases just softened and added color to the tables to match the bromide. Setting were placemats of stiffened burlap, and real plates, and silver wear, along with a real napkin folded to try and resemble a succulent. At the end of that we had table settings for 22 people.

This was a beautiful outside setting, the weather was perfect, but extremely hot, so at the last minute we headed up to their old condo and borrowed the outdoor umbrella’s to create some shade. Fortunately one of the board members was at the baby shower and made that a lot easier to do.

Balloons were tied to the mail box and at the front entrance, and as guests walked inside they were welcomed to the baby shower and handed a mimosa. Since I do not like orange juice, I gave them a choice of orange, peach, or grapefruit. If they did not like that then we also gave them the option of just champagne. To be precautious we had hand sanitizer and masks.

In my days prior to the baby shower, I created a diaper cake with succulents and wild animals, and we decided to have a raffle for anyone who brought an extra bag of diapers. The winning prize was a bottle of wine, an aerator, an opener and some ice cubes.

This is not a great image due to an old phone, but I also created a books for baby section, using a tool box as his book box, and making him some wildlife on trains book ends.

I had various stations situated around the main congregating area, like the baby is brewing. We did the “How big is mommy’s belly”, which her father won when he measured his own. I had built a shadow box using his ultrasound, and a series of wooden balloon shaped cut outs, to create a balloon collage that the guests could write their names on and a onesie that they could write messages. I also set out a bin of diapers for them to write a “late night message”. It was quite fun reading all of them.

The food was all home made and put together in a space of 5 hours. The menu consisted of yoghurt parfaits, veggie & dressing cups, a charcuterie board, a fruit platter, Tostito’s with guacamole and a slice of tomato, quiche, sausage rolls, brie bites, tomato and onion pasteries, meatballs with chilli, chicken and pineapple skewers in a mango sauce, cocktail sausages in maple bacon, and last but not least a variety of burgers.

Dessert was cake, succulent decorated cupcakes (which took me 4 hours to create), the cheese board, macaroons, strawberries in white chocolate, and a fondue. There was a lot of food.

In-between lunch and dessert, we had games – what’s in your phone, baby milestones, baby bingo, and some predictions for when Luka makes his debut. But right now he is a baby in bloom. Added to that were a few more prizes for the winners of the games.

Last but not least, it was present time. The balloon arch was fun blowing up. There had to have been about 50-75 balloons that needed to be blown up. Fortunately I bought hand pumps. The boxes were so cute, and filled with balloons. I added the animals because we are South African and I wanted little Luka to have a connection to his family culture. The crib has a 90 year old history in my husbands family line, and I filled it with all the smaller presents (probably most of which I had had fun buying). I know that by the end of the present opening Amy and Daniel were exhausted, overwhelmed and spoiled. She said there was very little that she needed to buy for the baby.

Putting the baby shower together for them was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun, and it certainly distracted me from the bad news of this year. I am super excited to meet this little man in the October when he makes his debut. It feels like just the other day Richard and I were adding a new generation. Now our new generation is ushering in a newer generation. I can’t wait.

Thank you for joining me for another 30 Minutes in the Life. This is a circle blog. While this is a culmination of more than 30 minutes, I believe these photo’s were taken in about 30 minutes when I realized I had not taken any. It’s a small circle this month. Please follow the link to see what my very talented friend Kim of One Ordinary Life, has to share this month.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: August 20201: Floral

This year has not been the best year for me. From February until now each month seems to have brought it’s own series of personal drama and stress, directly related to immediate family. July was almost over and I thought we had dodged the bullet and I was ready to celebrate a change in fortunes, and whalla, I am not feeling well. Seriously, I have spent the last 15 months working from home, avoiding people, staying home particularly this year and now I am sick.

Florida, probably one of the most relaxed states in as far as Covid is concerned, has practically done away with all protective mandates, and is ready to be back to business as usual. For some that may be fine, for others not so much. Richard is high risk, and for the most part I am not willing to risk his life, so we have been doing things cautiously and avoiding close contact with unknown situations.

We have been away twice but in both situations we controlled as much of the trip as we could, making sure that he was adequately protected. But you become complacent and in the one place that I thought it would be okay, I did not wear a mask, and despite being vaccinated, 2 days later I found myself dealing with symptoms of Covid. I put it down to generally being run down physically, close proximity in a closed office for about 2 hours and no mask. I am at Day 5, under quarantine, and have a blog to put together.

Fortunately I had walked in the wetlands this month. Ironically as I was walking through I thought to myself that it was time I actually showcased some of the beautiful flowers that I see there. Typically you go to see the birds, sometimes a gator, or a hawk or owl. But I don’t actively go looking for flowers. This particular day they stood out to me.

So since I am homebound, unenthused, and sleeping a good part of my afternoon away, I figured I would pull up the flowers from my walk and share them for this theme – {Floral}

We have always been outdoorsy people. We have lived to be in nature. I love to walk in the wetlands on a regular basis. I try to remember sunscreen, but honestly I prepack my camera the night before and roll out of bed with very little thought to putting sunscreen on or picking up a hat. Added to that I tend to walk at the hotter part of the day, because I know there will be less people there. Now I am second guessing myself. I have a hat in the back of my car and I put sunscreen by my bag. The summer sun is super hot right now.

Life and death, has suddenly become very relevant in our lives right now as we focus on Richard’s health. If you are a sunseeker like we have been, please consider using sunscreen that provides a significant cover, watch out for odd looking moles, and educate yourself. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. See a dermatologist and get yourself checked out. Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and we are dealing with this right now. Each day has become a memory making day.

This is a circle blog and as I mentioned, we have some very talented ladies in the group. The sneak peaks are stunning and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what they have for you this month. My incredibly artistic friend Elizabeth from It’s Still Life Photography by Elizabeth Willson is up next is up next. I can wait to see what she has to share as I have seen some of her work recently and love it. I would encourage to have a look at what she has to offer. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Facebook page or Instagram page.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_summersun.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.