30 Minutes in the Life: September 2020

Simba 2020

This little man means the world to me. He is a rescue cat. He was living on the street and sometimes in Amy’s sun room. She has been feeding him. When Amy went to the Peace Corp she asked me to take him and give him a home. I did not think Richard would buy into it and honestly I worried he may be feral. When I went to bring her and her stuff back home, I told the cat carrier up with us. Since then Simba has transitioned into my heart and I love this boy with just about everything I have.

A routine visit to the vet for dental work has turned into something else. I appears that Simba had fluid and inflammation in his lungs. My local vet asked me to take him to Ft Lauderdale to a specialist vet who looked at the x-rays, concurred with my vet, and treated him for heartworm and gave him an antibiotic. It appeared that we could be dealing with a cat who has asthma, although he is totally asymptomatic. We agreed to wait a few weeks to do another x-ray. The few weeks passed, and I changed out anything that could cause allergies, asthma etc. On my vacation week we did the hour trip back to Ft Lauderdale to the vet. I dropped him off and then found myself at a loose end for a couple of hours. So off I went to the park where the burrowing owls are.

On my way across the heavens opened, and I was not sure what I was going to find when I got there besides wet looking owls or no owls because they may have moved into their holes. I have decided that owls are like cats, when the camera comes out they look away.

I made my way across 3 squishy waterlogged entrances to reach the owls. None of them are really near the edge of the roadway except the first couple of pics. Since I had not planned on rain I was walking in flip flops that quickly became slip flops.

At one point it started to rain a little harder than before and I hung out with my camera under my shirt until I got a little closer. Of course, the next picture is a total fluke. The owl was …shaking to get the water off I guess. You can see the water spray going off of him. It was shaking so hard that it became a little unbalanced

Where ever you find Burrowing Owls there area is cordoned off as they are protected in South Florida. So 4 posts and some rope to stop you going any closer. Quite often you will find them sitting on top of the posts.

The most I managed to see together were two. Sometimes I have seen up to 5 but that is normally in Spring when they are breeding. The owls are less that a standard ruler for the most part. They are the cutest little birds I have seen and they are constantly watching you, watching left and right and up above them for any kind of attack.

Around the time I called it quits, due to the rain, the vet phoned me to say that Sims was ready and I could come and pick him up. The downside was that his lungs were still inflamed. That means we now have to go down the asthma route. I had changed his litter to a wheat litter but I really hate it and so do they, so today we got some 99% dust free litter, that has no fragrances or dyes. In addition he start steriods this past week for 2 weeks, and he is going to be switched to an mask/inhaler combination soon. In a couple of months we will do another x-ray with the hopes that there is some kind of improvement.

Please stay safe, wherever you are in the world. Thank you for joining me for 30 Minutes in the Life. I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend Janet of Janet Crouch Photography.   Check out her Facebook & Instagram page as well.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.


Share Six: September 2020: Colors

We are in September and today I sent my boss a reminder about Christmas. Seriously folks, this pandemic has put a huge dent in my life. When it first started out I thought this was going to drag, but I have been so busy with work that I am not noticing the time passing – that is other than saying to Richard, it’s Friday, now it’s Monday and look here is Friday again.

This month Janet Douglas chose the theme {Colors/Colours} I used to write Colours until I moved to the USA and now I write Colors. The dictionary gives us the following definition of colors “the property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light.

Covid has us stuck in our homes. For me, my office that I work out of is also the office that I edit my images in, watch TV in, and read in. It is also Hoo’s spot when I am not working. A lot of my time is spent in those 4 walls. Right now in summer I really do not mind. The weather is hot. Actually it is brutal. Throw a mask into the mix and it is really unpleasant. That aside, there has not been a lot of places to go walking in. A good few parks were closed and the parks that were open did not offer what I was looking for. The one that I could go to, is a park I would rather go with a friend. It is lonely, and the pathways are more like dirt roads and that means there could easily be aligator’s lying on the sides of the roads. I have done the boardwalk at that park as well and it’s not one of my favorite. However, if I want sunsets that is the park I will go to.

The wetlands were closed for restoration over the winter period. Then we went into Covid period and they just did not open. So no walking in the wetlands. Added to all of that my zoom lens had given up the ghost and I probably should have sent my camera to canon for a good cleaning. I got the new lens, but I still think the cleaning will be a good idea at some point in time.

I started vacation on Friday and that also corresponded with the wetlands opening for responsible walking. I decided that I was going to get up early and go and do some walking in the wetlands. Great start, I set my alarm for pm instead of am. However, Ms Moo woke me up at 7am and I flew out of bed, grabbed my clothes, did a quick brush to my hair, brushed my teeth and went downstairs. Cats were fed, hot chocolate was made and I was off.

I figured I was still early. Much to my surprise, I was not. The parking lot at the wetlands was packed up to the third row and I was not too happy about that. The good news is the walk is about 2 miles long and I stopped every so often to take photo’s. I never really felt like I was in too much contact with folks. The down side of the wetland is that there are speed walkers that walk the boardwalk and they don’t really care if you are trying to get a good shot of a bird that happens to be perched on the railing. They are going to keep on walking come hell or high water. Suffice to say the two bird images that I got on the railing were disturbed by these walkers.

It was nice to get out and enjoy the fresh air. To see the vibrant colors of nature. To enjoy seeing the bird life, the butterflies and the bees, and the turtles. I love the feel of the autumn colors even though it is not really autumn in Florida. I hope you enjoy my {Colors} of nature.

Green Heron
Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
White Peacock Butterfly
Little Blue Heron

Thank you for joining me for this month’s Share Six blog post.  This is a circle blog.  The sneak peaks that are shared are stunning.  The challenges always stretch us just a little bit further. I blog with an incredibly talented group of ladies.  Please take time to visit my friend and very talented artist who always amazes me with her images Ceri of Ceri Herd Photography to see what she has for you this month. To view her  Facebook page click here and her Instagram page here.

Keep following the circle to see what the other photographers have shared this month. Don’t forget to leave a little love on their page as well.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_colors20

tell me a story: August 2020

This does not happen very often but there is the occasional times in the year when both 30 Minutes in the Life and Tell me a Story go live on the same day and at the same time. In the 30 Minutes in the Life I shared Day 1 in Key West. In this blog I will share day 2.

As I said in the other blog we decided to head to Key West for the weekend. At some point you get tired of not seeing anyone, not doing anything other than working at home and not going anywhere. For Rich and I traveling is something we are trying to do more of and so to be stuck at home has been challenging especially for Rich.

We booked into a local hotel overlooking the harbor area and it turned out to have the perfect view. It also had a great swimming pool that we were able t cool down at, given that the summer heat in South Florida is so oppressive. I spent about 2 hours in the pool chatting with the 4 other guests escaping the heat. I love Key West with it’s authentic buildings and quirky well know stories. Key West has so much character and here are a few of them buildings that share it.

Day 2 saw I head into the town area. I was on a mission to find Mango Body Wash. The hotel had it in it’s showers and oh my it was so good. Rich wanted some T-shirts and I was also hoping to find some bath bombs that I had found in the hotel as well. I found the mango bath wash, he got is shirts but I bombed out on the bath bombs.

Roosters, hens and chickens are a common sight wandering around Key West. Six toed cats is another interesting view in Key West. It was sad to see the iconic Sloppy Joe’s closed. However, it did seem that it was temporary.

After doing the necessary shopping, we decided to head to the local Key West First Legal Rum Distillery for a free tour. If you are in Key West check it out. The tour is about 15 minutes and it is just a small warm area that you walk through. It’s awesome that they have ceiling fans to cool you down.

Step 1 tells us that they use Florida sugar cane in crystal form from the juice to create a unique flavor that allows us to drink a clean, clear and flavorful Legal Rum.

Step to the Tanks 1, 2, 3, 4 are where the cooking beings. This is their recipe buried beneath the floor with all the old bottles. The bubbles are the yeast breathing as it eats sugar and turns it into alcohol. The more vibration the more production, so they play music at night to keep the yeast moving.

Step 3 tells us that the brown wash that comes from the fermentation tanks, has the alcohol “stripped ” out of it. It’s like a magic trick, first it’s brown, now it is clear. All alcohol comes out of a still clear

Step 4 tells us that now that they have the stripped alcohol, they will distill it again 6 times. Why? They want the Legal Rum to come out in a lower proof so that it has flavors butterscotch, banana, and hints of vanilla. It says they also don’t want to give us a hangover, so all impurities are taken out.

Step 5 tells us that High Proof Legal Rum goes into the Chefs pot, travels through the copper which is filled with carbon activated charcoal. Rum should be warm in your chest, not burn your tongue.

We had the opportunity to taste raw rum and to do some rum tasting. I tried Coconut Rum and Key Lime Rum and Raw Rum. My favorite even though I typically like Coconut Rum, was the Raw Rum, and we left with a bottle of Raw Rum and some sampler Rums.

If you want something interesting to do on a hot day in Key West definitely check out the Key West First Legal Rum Distillery.

Beyond that we meandered along the wharf taking in the ships and views along with the opportunity to check out a healthy school of tarpon. We stopped for a cooling beer and watch the tiki boats heading out again.

Lastly Key West is always my favorite place for sunsets. Like I said in the other blog that I was disappointed not to be heading out on a boat but at the same time I did not want to be among the crowds. The sunset did not disappoint.

Key West Harbor from the Marker Hotel

Being Key West refreshed me for the next few months. We have at least one more travel trip this year unless Covid puts a stop to that. I have found a cabin in the woods in Georgia. We are hoping that we will get to see the changing colors in the mountains.

Thank you for joining me this month as we spend time sharing another day in our lives. This is a quiet month for blogs however, this is a circle blog.  Take some time to view what the other artist has for you this month. My friend Lupji Photography is up next and I can’t wait to read what he has to share.

30 minutes in the Life: August 2020

And so the year goes on. A few more weeks and we will be back to the birthday months and they run back to back, September, October and November. Who plans like that? Me I guess. Another month of working from home, and seeing so few people. Lots more zoom calls, and relying on the television to show us what is happening in the US. At some point we decided that we needed to get out.

I did some research. Key West is a quick drive for us – 4 hours and we are there. I decided to stay at The Marker Hotel which is situated right on the harbor area and upgraded to a harbor view room for a two nights stay. We very rarely stay in a hotel but it was our anniversary weekend and I felt like staying in something a little more formal. I will give you a heads up – this is going to be a longer post than normal.

It’s good to be back on the road again. We headed down early on Friday morning and to be honest the roads were pretty quiet. We expected a quiet Key West. It’s always good to see familiar landmarks. The first image tells me I am close to Long Key State Park, just north of Marathon. Seven Mile Bridge tells me that Bahia Honda State Park is not too far away. Seeing the boats in the ocean, just remind me that Key West is not far away.

We were early checking in and so we headed off to the beach area. It is not a very big beach and there is a lot of seaweed so not a favorite of mine. However, I love the change colors that we see in the ocean typically caused by the seaweed, depth of water and light. I have been at this beach before when we spotted a shark swimming around. Did I go into the water this time around? Nope but I did work on changing my color again. I am fortunate that I automatically tan. However, I have to be honest, summer is oppressive this year and 2 hours in the sun and I was done. We headed off to eat, and then made our way to the hotel. Air conditioning was on my check off list. Just a side note, one of the things Key West is know for is the Roosters, Hens and chickens wandering around the town. It was quite neat to be able to see the chicks at the beach. Another thing Key West is known for is their polydactyl cats which is a cat with anomaly. The 6 toed cats are also know as Hemmingway cats. Story goes that Ernest Hemmingway was given a 6 toed cat by a ships captain. Apparently while not all of the cats have 6 toes, they carry the gene that will allow them to give birth to a 6 toed cat.

Heading back to the hotel I spotted this tiger. I have never seen it before and I thought it warranted a picture.

Once we cooled down and felt normal again, we ventured out into the heat. It was close to 4pm and we were looking for a place to grab something to eat. We tend to stick to a variety of starters and so finally settled on a restaurant where we could sit outside and enjoy the food. I have to give a shout out to the White Tarpon in key West. Head there for Happy Hour and it is so worth it. We shared calamari and group starter, a mussel starter and peel and eat shrimp starter, along with two glasses of wine and 2 rum and coke. All of that for under $40. The food was good and that probably was the best deal that we got down there. Beyond that we meandered through the wharf are back to the hotel.

Something I have never seen in Key West before, but love that I did, was a pair of manatee. You can read more about them here They are definitely gentle creatures of the water.

Heading back to the hotel, the boats are starting to fill up for the sunset cruises. I was a little disappointed that we did not do a cruise. Sebago is one of our favorite groups to head out on, but to be honest, I am not ready to sit in crowds. While this boat was not crowded, many of the other boats were. I love to be out on the ocean watching the sunset. This time around we were just going to accept that watching the sunset would be from our balcony of our hotel. One of the interesting things we saw was the floating tiki hut. I think it could be cool to do something like this.

And last but no least, we headed out to the balcony to get comfortable and settle in to watch the sunset. No actual sun and the same static pic but the colors were amazing.

I have another blog going live today so look out for Day 2 in Key West. We spent some time visiting a rum distillery, along with walking the town, and taking in the sunset again.

Please stay safe, wherever you are in the world. Thank you for joining me for 30 Minutes in the Life. I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend Ivana A L’ala who visited the city that I was supposed to be visiting this week – Dubrovnik, Croatia. I cannot wait to see her pics, even if I have to wait a whole year to once again attempt to head to Macedonia, Croatia, and Berlin.  Check out her Facebook page as well.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

share six: august 2020: refresh

Can you believe it is August already. Seriously this has been a year that has been long but has flown. In a weeks time, I will have been working from home for 5 months. 5 months of really doing very little outside of work .

I want to start out by saying that my heart breaks for the people of Beirut, Lebanon. For families who have lost loved one, for men, women and children who have been seriously injured, for the loss of home, livelihood, and infrastructure. I watched the explosion with horror. My first thought was for my childhood friend, and adopted brother, who lives in Lebanon, just 35km away from Beirut. Thankfully he is safe, but so many are not. My prayer is that the world will step up and lend a helping hand to a struggling country that faces a long and arduous recovery.

This months theme for Share Six is {Refresh}. There are some days that I really need this in my life. I have a couple of ways of refreshing but right now everything is closed. I love to walk in the wetlands, but first they were shut after winter for renovations, and now they are closed for Covid. I am sure those birds have been seriously happy not to have a thousand camera toting spectators visiting the park.

The beaches are open, but I have been too lazy to get up at 6am in the morning to go to the beach to watch the sunrise. Other times Richard will go after the sunrise but before I think it is normal to wake up on a day I can sleep in.

Another {Refresh} thought was to do a 2 day trip to Key West. The down side is that it is hot and there is a mask mandate. I was not overly keen on that. The upside is there is a lot less people down there because of all the restrictions.

Then Richard tested positive for Corona Virus. He had no symptoms. He did a second test 4 days later and tested negative. So now we are not sure whether whether he was positive or negative. Now we are waiting for the results from the antibody test. In the meantime, while neither of us have had any symptoms of the virus, we quarantined as a precaution. For me this is just a good reminder that a lot of people are asymptomatic. We do not know that they are infected. We can take precautions to prevent infection, and if one is infected in your home, the precautions you have to take to prevent the rest of the household being infected are not fun. Wear the mask, wash your hands, disinfect, sanitize. Do you know how many times a person touches a door knob. Seriously, I felt like I was walking behind him cleaning in his wake.

I have another way to {Refresh} and that is to go for a massage. But my massage therapist has been off for surgery and recovery and I am really particular about who my massage therapist is. So that has not happened.

In lieu of a massage there is another way to {Refresh} and that is right at home. An evening in the Jacuzzi tub with the jets on high is definitely a favorite. So here are a few (more than 6) images (past and present) from some refreshing time.

Quiet time at the bar while the Jacuzzi warms up a little bit more, laid back music playing and definitely looking forward to getting into the water.
I love that time in the Jacuzzi starts while the sun is still up and then as it gets darker we are able to change the colors of the water. Unfortunately with the storm going through we are still dealing with wet weather and it was raining while I shot some of the tub images, so no colors.
I love the jets and the bubbles and they are normally on full. It’s a small imitation of a massage.
I enjoy watching the movement of the bubbles.
Little shapes dancing across the surface of the water.
Bubbles in motion, that tickle your nose as you sink lower in the water.
Kind of like a giant bubble bath

When we are lucky we are treated to some of the most spectacular sunsets. Nothing nicer than refreshing in the Jacuzzi tub and watching the sun set. While not every sunset is awesome, here are a few that were for me. The simple pleasures in life that can be found right at your back door.

The best part about this kind of refreshing evening, there’s not too many dishes to clean up in the morning.

I am grateful that we can relax and refresh. These days are not easy. It is frustrating that we don’t have the freedom to just get up and go do the things we want to do. There is so much going on around the world. Heartbreaking situations. But this is life. Life can make or break us. I choose to rather deal with it than to let it break me. I keep trying to look for those moments of joy and positivity. I hope that you can find ways to refresh during these challenging days.

The key to being Happy is knowing you have the power to choose what to accept and what to let go

~ Dodinsky

Thank you for joining me for this month’s Share Six blog post.  This is a circle blog.  The sneak peaks that are shared are stunning.  The challenges always stretch us just a little bit further. I blog with an incredibly talented group of ladies.  Please take time to visit my friend and very talented artist who always amazes me with her images Ceri of Ceri Herd Photography to see what she has for you this month. To view her  Facebook page click here and her Instagram page here.

Keep following the circle to see what the other photographers have shared this month. Don’t forget to leave a little love on their page as well.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_refresh

Tell me a story: July 2020

It’s nearly August. Time is passing one day at a time. I can’t decide if it is slowly or whether it is just way too fast. It’s hard to believe that I have now been at home 4.5 months. I am still busy working, but time seems in limbo. I wake up, make a protein shake, feed Sim, Moo & Hoo and then I sit down at my computer. My problem is that I do not move. I am trying to force myself to go down the stairs every hour and go on the elliptical machine for a few minutes just to move the old joints around.

Each day seems the same, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays we stay at home, most of the time, unless I absolutely have to go out, or Richard has decided he has had enough of home and needs to go out and eat.

I have been banned from feeding the ducks, the birds and the squirrels so I don’t have a lot of wildlife activity in my garden any more – which I will add I hate. Every so often I will get up and drive to a local park to watch the sunset but even that feels like too much effort some days. Other days I will watch it from home.

An update to this is we are stuck at home. Richard tested positive and we are in quarantine. Happily trying to avoid each other. Just remember if you are asymptomatic, it does not mean that you could not test positive. If you come in contact with someone or you know you may have been in contract for longer than 15 minutes and within the 6ft social distancing, remember that you could get infected. He does not have a single symptom that would indicate that he is sick. Wear the mask, keep the distance.

Last week Wednesdays was one of those days that I watched from home. I happened to move Hoo (the quaker parakeet) into the spare room as I was going to have a conference call (only to find out it was cancelled) and I looked out of the window and watched the clouds come rolling in. Below is a pic take with my old cell phone.

It was a little intimidating to be honest. I grabbed my camera and headed downstairs but the sky did not have the same effect.

The wind picked up, thunder happened at a distance but not a drop of rain fell. Clearly it happened on the east side of town. In fact there was a rainbow just a little later that I saw. However, I decided I would head out back and see what the sunset was like given the weather or lack of weather earlier in the day.

My first thought was this was not going to be that great, but I persevered and sat outside with Sims and waited.

And it did not disappoint. Maybe not as spectacular as some of the other days but it was still a pretty sky overall.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that it doesn’t matter what is going on in the world, the world is still beautiful and we can sit back in our own small space and truly enjoy this incredible creation that we live in.

Tomorrow is back to work, and another week will go by, but remember, there is beauty all around us, we just have to take the time to look for it.

Thank you for joining me this month as we spend time sharing another day in our lives.  This is a circle blog.  Take some time to view what the other artists have for you this month. My friend Beth from Beth William’s Photo Blog is up next and I can’t wait to read what she has to share

30 Minutes in the Life: July 2020

And so life goes on…. Florida is spiking like crazy and I am staying at home as much as possible. The virus came closer to home with my sister in law, who lives oversees, being diagnosed Covid Positive. Then one of my husband’s employees was diagnosed Covid positive. We are now quarantining for the next 2 weeks dependent on his test this last week. It is a bit of a wake up call that it really can affect you no matter how much care you take. The good news is that I am okay with staying home 🙂

Work happens 4 days a week, and all is good. Our vacation was cancelled and that was a real bummer. Hopefully August 2021 will be a better year. Now to figure out what to do with 24 days of vacation.

Oh, I so want to travel. What better to do than to go back in the archives and see what has not been edited. Maine 2018, and we had just traveled through Bar Harbor. What to do the next day? I suggested we go to the “less busy” island adjacent to Bar Harbor. Less busy was a good description. What we had more of was mist. That said mist gave me the opportunity to go back and play with black and white images. This month I am sharing 30 minutes of a day in the mist.

Mist or fog creates this eerie kind feeling as you walk along the banks of the water. However, I did like the mist slipping around us. One day we will be able to get on the road again, and I have to be honest I look forward to it. I am sure you do to.

Please stay safe, wherever you are in the world. Thank you for joining me for 30 Minutes in the Life. I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend April of April White Photography  and see what she has for you this month.  Check out her Facebook page as well.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: July 2020: New

It sure feels like these blogs are flying around faster than I can get to them. Share Six is up today and the theme is {New}. I would like to say it is a new day, but sadly life goes on, the same old same. Florida’s test results for the Corona Virus are spiking and it is just better to stay at home where we can. Yesterday we had 9488 new cases and 68 deaths. Today we have 11458 new cases and 17 deaths. Florida has had a total of 3703 deaths. When I start to dig deeper 541 of them have come out of my county. Go deeper and I know that in the small zone area that I live in 79 people are positive. I have to wonder what the rest of the year is going to look like. Added to that we are in hurricane season, and August to November are typically the most active. If you read my blog on the 29th you would have read about the Sahara Sandstorms. Apparently hurricanes do not like them. Not sure which is better but I am opting for the sandstorm. Lots of dust that creates beautiful sunsets.

So what is new? As you might recall 2 or so years ago I flooded the house. Yup, I did. I ran a bath and got distracted editing and the next thing the fire alarm was going off and I walked out of my office to a stream of water heading to the stair case. From the bottom it looked like a waterfall. My heart sank, and I knew I was in big trouble. Fortunately, and I thank my good Lord, I think Richard realized that I was probably in a state of shock and horrified by what had happened. The upside of the whole episode was that we had to renovate. The insurance company came in and dried out the house, removed and replaced the wooden flooring upstairs, and replaced the ceiling. We opted to remove all the existing old tiles and wood, and replace them with more modern larger floor tiles. We repainted and refurnished because everything on the lower level ended up wet. The whole process took us about 8 months to get finished and by the end of it I was so tired of living in a construction zone.

However the water did not reach the kitchen, and so other than the ceiling being replaced, and Richard putting in sunken lights, no other work was done in there. Twenty years ago the kitchen may have been great but as the years passed, the chipboard cupboard doors were doing just that, chipping. The wood finishes looked yuck, and it just needed a pick me up. Also at some point we will sell this house and the kitchen was not great. Added to that the counter was finished with tiny square tiles and a whole lot of grout that continually got dirty and I was continually bleaching and scrubbing.

So much has changed in the house that the next step was the kitchen. The process was pretty quick. We met with the contractor who showed us samples of different kitchen cupboards, handles etc. Lots of choices. We gave her an idea of what we wanted and before we knew it she had the plans for us. Richard had his ideas and I had mine, let me say no more. The old kitchen had this short wall behind the wash basin, that hid what was on the counter from the room adjacent. The room adjacent was a breakfast room, which Richard had finally turned into his office. That said we were not going to allow that to define what we did in the kitchen.

First things first, before any work can start, the old cupboards have to come out. Of course, I have visions of them being put in the Laundry. Well that did not happen. I was back to the sense of deja vu. The house downstairs was back to chaos again. Fortunately it was only for 6 weeks. The contractors came in and pulled out the old cabinets. Richard tiled under where the new cupboards would go, had a few plug points moved, pulled off the old backslash tiles and in the process had to replace the backing board. Since most of the houses are made of cardboard here and not brick the process was pretty easy.

Some of the changes we made. I wanted the dishwasher shifted to the end of the counter space and the wash basin more in the middle. Richard wanted to utilize the corners with corner cabinets. He wanted to put a corner cabinet next to the washbasin, and I wanted drawers. That was probably the toughest agreement to at this point. We had looked at granite and that seemed a very simple process. I wanted granite patterns that flowed rather than something that looked like a cross section of plant cells. I did not like the dots :). Added to that alot of what we saw had yellow undertones and our floor tiles have a red undertone. That did not seem like a problem to Richard, but that was a biggie for me. Having settled on a slab of granite, I went back to check the second slab as we would need two. My heart dropped. The second slab did not match the first one in any way. It was a completely different lot number and pattern. I was seriously bummed.

Now we have cupboards in and no counter top. I am tired of washing dishes in a basin out on the patio, and using the coffee machine and microwave outside as well. Added to that no stove. For people who do not eat out a lot, this quickly becomes a pain.

So I started looking. I was set on the slab that I initially like. We found it at another shop only to find that the slab was not big enough. Added to that, when they pulled out the old basin, the pipe developed a leak. So the water got switched off. Fortunately our neighbor is a contractor and he got one of his plumbers to come in and fix the leak. While Richard was working with him, I was driving from West Palm Beach to Broward County looking at slabs. Some of the factories I was happy to stop at but some of them looked a little shady. Finally I had a short list. To be honest I had gone back to Richards likes, even though I was not happy with it. However, I had seen a slab, that he looked at and did not like. I went back there again and still liked it. So I dragged him off to look at the shortlist and finally we settled on a slab. The best part was the second slab matched.

Once the contractor had the slabs they began the cutting process, and before we knew it they were ready to come and add the counter top. In the midst of that I was searching the web for wash basins. I wanted one part bigger than the other part. In hindsight, I probably could have got away with them both being the same size, but there are times when you have something that is big that you need to wash and you want the space. I wanted a draining board which are hard to find in the US and Richard wanted an under the slab kind of basin. So I lost the draining board. Yes, I tend to wash dishes more than use the dishwasher. There is just two of us and it is easier and quicker to hand wash them.

Finally the day arrived for the contractor and her team to bring in the two slabs. I was in awe of these guys. These slabs are heavy and because we wanted one solid piece that had to be very careful moving the bigger of the two pieces.

Kuddo’s to this team. They were so professional, worked well together and got that huge slab into the house in one piece. I was nervous watching them. They then had to get it into the breakfast room so that they could lift it up onto the cabinets. It took some planning, and a lot of muscle to do this. Everyone, including the contractor, was holding their breath.

They did it. I was impressed and relieved because I was not going to be able to get another slab if that one got damaged. Once the slab was laid, the basins were fitted, the holes for the tap and garbage disposal button were drilled and the counter top was polished.

I will be honest and say I was smiling. We had settled on the taps and so they went ahead and installed them for us as well. I was so impressed with the work that this team had done for us. They came in with a team of three to fit the cabinets and it was all finished in one day, then they came with the slab and it was all finished in one day. The work was quality and I was very grateful to them for all they did to make this happen.

Moving beyond that we had to settle on appliances. We needed a microwave that would fit the space. We debated a microwave on the counter and a extractor hood above the stove or did we want to fit in a large size microwave. After much search we found a compromise of the two. A microwave that has a extractor fan in it as well. I measured my largest dish and length and height both worked with the microwave. So this seemed the perfect option for us. We wanted to go stainless, but all the other appliances were black, so we did a combination of the two. We decided we would replace the rest of the appliances as we needed to or had the funds to do it. The fridge however, sped up that process and died on us. I have a side by side and the freezer was working but the fridge side felt as hot as Florida on a hot and humid day. So off we went to find a new fridge. I might add all this is happening in the middle of the start of the Covid pandemic, and I am at the local hardware store where they have lines letting you in and then I get in there and find staff are not even wearing masks. We finally decided on a fridge online. It was slightly bigger than what we had but would still fit in the space. On this we went stainless as well. Eventually the dishwasher and stove will be replaced.

One of the best decisions that we made was to loose the little wall and carry the counter top out 9 inches from the edge of the cabinet. That will ultimately allow for someone to sit and eat at the counter. Will we eat there, probably not. We have a diningroom, we have an outside patio table and we have an outside bar area, so this is moot, but it will be good when we come to sell the house. Added to that we scored 2 chairs off our daughter. She had bought a secondhand diningroom table and 2 of the 6 chairs did not match and she decided that we could have the two that did not match. It works perfect with the color scheme. Loosing the wall also opened the whole area and gives a much bigger feel to the room.

Next on our things to do, was agree on a back splash. Richard and I have such different tastes. I did not like what he liked and I had this rough looking stone in my mind, and he did not want that. He said it would gather dirt. Finally we found something we could both compromise on. I got the stone look and he got the smooth finish. A little side note, this scale is about 80 years old. It belonged to my grandmother. I had it bronzed before we left South Africa, but somehow it was sitting next to a water feature and the water drops damaged the bronze. As children my brother and I used to go to my grandmothers and I recall us playing shops. We had to weigh out all the cereal we were selling.

It’s all the little things now. Finding a decent container for the dish washing liquid, and adding some hand soap and cream to use after washing dishes. I just bought these two orchids the other day. Orchids remind me of my dad, and I saw these two, which are so different to the Phalaenopsis we so commonly find in Florida. These two were apparently products of Hawaii. The smaller one looks like a Clamshell Orchid. The taller one could be called a Hilo Firecracker ‘Lucky Strike’. But it is nice to have a reminder of my dad.

My little white canisters disappeared and the next thing I saw them back silver and black. That is Richard for you. Remind me of my grandmother. She used to paint everything. Including the scale above. When I got it from her it was white. Mmm maybe he needs to pain that as well.

Last little trick Richard came up with, which is very nice at night. Under cabinet strip lighting. These are cheap fancy lighting. They change color, and can be really bright or dim as you need them. He likes the blueish color and I like the warm tones of the orange. It is nice to dim them at night when you go to bed. If for any reason you find your way down the stairs there is some light in the kitchen to welcome you.

As I mentioned earlier we had to buy two slabs because the slab that had the larger counter top was not big enough to cut a solid piece and the second counter top piece. So there was a lot left over. Richard decided to buy some additional cabinets to go in the bay area and we had them cut a slab to go on top of the cabinets. Which is perfect for my lady lamp. There is a back story to the lady as well. When we first arrived here, those that had gone before us spoke of dumpster shopping. I was horrified. That was not something I had ever done. However, we were driving past a house one day and I spotted this at the end of the driveway. I told Richard to stop and pick it up. Of course, I was not doing it, I made him do it. It appears it was originally a lampshade, but I had him remove all the wires and made it into a candle holder. She reminded me of my friend Gavin, who had some beautiful lady lamps.

Last item we had cut out of the slab was a counter top that would function as a desk for Richard. We moved his old desk out of the area and he bought two units that were stand alone drawer and filing cabinets, and we had the second piece laid on top of that. It could be used as a serving area, or at some point it could be put onto high pedestals and made to be a high top table. We are trying to think outside the box :). In the meantime, that is his workspace, and mine is upstairs in one of the bedrooms.

{New} took me on an interesting path. I know this is longer than six images but I wanted to share the results of some challenging decisions, some compromise, great contractor and her staff workmanship and my new kitchen. I am so happy with it. Now to the next project…..

Thank you for joining me for this month’s Share Six blog post.  This is a circle blog.  I love sneak peaks – they are always amazing.  This is an incredibly talented group of ladies.  Please take time to visit my friend and very talented artist Michele of Michele Tremblay Photo and see what she has for you this month. To check out her Facebook page click here and her Instagram page here.

Keep following the circle to see what the other photographers have shared this month. Don’t forget to leave a little love on their page as well.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_new

Tell Me a story: June 2020

I have to confess that being stuck at home makes it hard to come up with new blogs each month. However, this month I happened to read about the Saharan Sand Storm that was moving across the Atlantic ocean towards the USA. Who would believe that a sandstorm would cross 5000 miles of ocean to affect another continent. The storm is predicted to impact Florida and Texas, and then head up even as far as Canada. One of the positives of the sandstorm is apparently sunsets, so I headed out to the Everglades National Park to catch the sunset.

Of course, I was not alone. There were plenty of folk out watching the sunset. This seems to have become the go to place just lately. I have been there on evenings when I am one of 5, and the place is really creepy and lonely, and when it get’s dark it really gets dark.

I guess every photographer had the same idea, lets see what we can get from the Sandstorm. And for each one of us, the evening definitely showed up. There were also just folk around watching the sunset. My struggle is how to social distance in this situation where there are too many people in a small area. I was able to walk away from the crowd to some extent. Added to that Palm Beach County mandated masks in public places and half the crowd had a face covering missing. Given that Florida’s Corona Virus numbers are spiking daily (3 days ago it was approximately 5000, 2 days ago in the upper 8000’s, yesterday was 9585 and today we are at 8530 and it is not even 2 pm), I am all for people wearing a mask. I have a few medical friends who have clearly stated that you do not want to be intubated. It is not fun.

I still don’t have a new zoom lens, so get in close to the sunset is still not happening, but I keep looking. Now that we are not traveling overseas, I may use my savings to get one. Simba needs to get his infected tooth out first (which is happening this week). Taking a cat to have a tooth removed, is like having a crown put on a human. Yikes. Hopefully I will be able to get both done soon.

I loved the layers of cloud, and I hope that some of this was contributed by the sand storm.

So what causes a Saharan dust storm. It does appear that the evaporation of water, along with the earth warming causes a shelf of sand between the dessert in the north and the savannah in the south causes dust to form. Smaller storms cause downdrafts, resulting in dust storms developing. Large amounts of dust are lifted into the atmosphere. The African Easterly Jet, a strong wind, was weak this June, and this allowed for more dust to accumulate on the west coast of Africa. When the wind picks up again, it then transports a very dense mass of dust.

What we are seeing now is the results of the storm across the southern states of the USA. Added to that, there appears to be another one coming through within the week. This one is set to affect south Florida more densely, so the scientists say.

Whether I saw some effects of the Saharan Sand Storm or not, I loved the effects of the clouds.

There are definitely some pro’s to the sand storm. Apparently sand storms love dry air. Hurricanes hate dry air. So while we are seeing sand storms, we are less likely to see hurricanes. I hope that is true because I am anticipating an active hurricane season. Temperatures in South Florida are high, and the air is oppressive. When it does rain, it may cool things down briefly, but then the humidity level escalates, and I am back to feeling miserable again. Richard, who loves the heat, has mentioned a few times that the air conditioning is a welcome relief just lately.

Another positive of these sand storms is that apparently, is that these dust storms bring much needed soil and nutrients to Florida and to the islands around us. The Amazon Rain Forest also receives their nutrients from these dust storms.

Apparently the sand storms also bring nutrients to the ocean in the form of phosphorus, which is a vital nutrient for growth. Who would believe it, but it is said that alga loves dust. The negative is that red tide apparently loves dust as well. We know what red tide does and we do not necessarily want that in Florida. That is a swimmers nightmare. Although that would be one way to keep people away from the beaches in this Covid-19 period.

A big positive for me is the beauty the dust causes to the sunset. Dust particles scatter the sun rays and leave us with an awesome sunrises and sunsets. Milky skies and the colors seen, will be dark oranges and reds..

There are a number of down sides to the dust storm as well. Microorganisms harmful to humans and plant life may get caught up in the dust storms. Fungal spores and bacteria may also be carried in the dust storms, which may cause harm to coral reefs.

Another negative affects people with respiratory issues, allergies, etc. Have you ever been off road riding where you are causing dust as a result of some crazy driving. I have, and my allergies kill me. Sometimes those dust particles in the storm don’t stay in the upper levels, and drop down and affect us. If you are not wearing a mask for Covid-19, you may want to reconsider the mask for the dust storms coming through. You do not want to land up in hospital with breathing issues, especially with Covid-19 spiking in a lot of areas that the dust storm will affect.

Unlike the dust storm, Alligators are native to Florida and a trip to the Everglades would be a bust if you did not see one. Of course it does help is there is someone fishing. The gator is curious and interested in what is being caught, it’s probably interested in the fisherman as well to be honest.

This particular evening was pleasant, even wearing a mask. Right now I have a handful of surgical masks. They are great except that they are supposed to be worn in freezing cold temperatures during surgery. That makes them extremely hot to wear. But if I can protect myself, and protect my family, while protecting you, I am willing to do it. It just makes sense for me.

Of course if you have the opportunity to share the sunset with a loved one, or a friend, this would be the perfect place to visit. The skies this evening were a splendor for the eyes. Ironically when I left home, I was not sure that I was going to get much.

We did the same as these folks a month or so ago. Richard gets antsy and needs to do something. We took our chairs, our mugs of wine, and we headed out to go and watch the beauty of God’s creation.

The night is done, I have packed up and am walking back to my car, when I take one last look. Yes there are still some photographers, hanging on, waiting to get the last shot, or just catching up with one another. This is the beauty of meeting other photographers at places like the Everglades National Park. We all love creation and the magnificence of it.

Thank you for joining me this month as we spend time sharing another day in our lives.  This is a circle blog.  Take some time to view what the other artists have for you this month. My friend Beth from Beth’s Photoblog is up next and I can’t wait to read what she has to share

30 Minutes in the Life: June 2020

It’s three months into the pandemic and I am watching the US numbers closely. My state is one of those that is spiking. When I first started looking at stats on March 18 the USA had 8500 positive corona virus tests. Today we have 706 830 a of 10:45 am. I was not watching deaths at the time. However today we have 37,175 deaths. My heart grieves for those families who have lost loved ones and who are unable to say their goodbyes properly. 63 510 people have recovered in the USA, that means there are a huge number of people still out there battling with this virus.

Florida on April 10 had 16828 positive tests and 37 deaths. Today they have 114 018 and 3329 deaths. Palm Beach County (where I live) now has 12498 positive cases and 490 deaths. Florida is spiking. Yesterday we had over 5000 new cases, and by the end of today we will be over 9000 new cases. Palm Beach county has now mandated as of yesterday everyone to wear face masks. It’s pretty strict, and it comes with fines if you do not comply. Many are freaking out, me I am good with it. All I need is to get a decent mask. Surgical masks are meant for negative temperatures and South Florida is not cold right now.

Life has changed for me as a result of the virus. I am now permanently working from home. I have to confess, I work pretty well from home. Best news is that I do not have to travel 2 hours a day to work a day. My 10 hour day is now an 8 hour day. I moved my computers home and had Richard and Cameron haul a huge 4 drawer metal filing cabinet up the stairs. If the office wants it back they are going to have to carry it out themselves 🙂

My desktop looks like something from the space shuttle monitoring room. I have my own personal 30 inch computer monitor. I have my work laptop. I also have two 20 inch work monitors. It is nice not to have to have work items on my personal computer, and it is also nice to be able to log directly into the server.

My office has to be a lot tidier these days. We have a zoom meeting at 9:30 am every day. I don’t work Fridays so I can be a little more lapse on the 3 day weekend. I have had to create boundaries as well. I tend to work beyond my hours because I am in my space. Before my meeting, Houdini, the quaker parakeet I rescued, has to be moved out of my office to the other room. He gets to come back at the end of my work day. He is kind of noisy.

I also have to create breaks. When you work in an office you are moving. You get up to go to the printer. You move to the kitchen for that cup of coffee. You head to your bosses office to meet. You are moving without thinking about it. Being at home, my office is complete. The printer is in my office. I make my hot drink when I wake up and my protein shake before my 9:30 meeting. I also bring up a flask of ice water. I am set for the morning. I am not moving.

I set a time on my calendar for lunch, I planned to walk around the community circle. I did that once and decided it was too hot. I moved the fan this morning to the front of the elliptical machine. I guess that is going to have to happen again. Florida is stinking hot right now and we have not even got through July and August.

My home office has become my place to be. Beyond my work day, I head to my couch to watch the news or to read my book. I am glad that I still love my home office space. This virus has definitely made changes in our lives. I was lying on my couch, in my office, the other night and I looked up to see what the sun was doing, when I looked up I saw the light shining on my flower arrangement. I loved the light on the tulips and I love this spiky greenery that makes me think it may be a thistle. Straight away I got up and grabbed my camera with my macro lens and started taking some images.

Just as you think life is opening up, life seems to be closing up again. As Florida spikes so my home office looks more appealing. I am happy to stay at home. I am not keen to be out and about and exposing myself or my family to the virus. My daughter in law has immunity issues. She is vulnerable. I want to do my part to keep her safe. So, I will stay at home as much as I can, and I will wear a mask when I go out. For me, it is the right thing to do.

Please stay safe, wherever you are in the world. Thank you for joining me for 30 Minutes in the Life. I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend Ivana from MaMagare Kidz Photo in Croatia and see what she has for you this month.  Check out her Facebook and Instagram pages as well.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.