Posted on January 4, 2020
Happy New Year. I find it hard to believe it is 2020. I feel like I just started out with 2019 and now it is gone.
I could sum up the year in just a few words, family, travel, work, and photography.
We spent an enormous amount of the year traveling. In March my brother came over to a conference and the whole family headed up to Orlando to spend the weekend with him. We visited Epcot and managed to last the whole day, finally seeing the fire works at the end of the evening.
My boss, a work colleague and I also headed up to Lakeland Florida for an overnight scouting trip to view a new system.
In April my brother was back again, and we headed to San Antonio to meet him. We got to do the famous Riverwalk, explore the city, view the Alamo, however my favorite part of the trip was the missions. Each one that we visited had such incredible history, and the beauty of each mission was amazing. I love that they have kept them restored and that some of them even function as an active mission.
In May we took our new son in law on his first camping trip to Bahia Honda. It was hot and there was not enough shade. We were camped at the edge of rocks and that made cooling down an interesting exercise in rock climbing. He says he enjoyed it. Kudos to him for sticking it out.
In June I headed to Rochester New York with 2 of my work colleagues for training. I convinced them to fly early (even early for me) and I agreed to drive the 2 hours to Niagara Falls. What a spectacular sight it was and well worth the hours behind the wheel. I am so glad I had the opportunity to see these incredible falls. The view from the Canadian side is apparently better but from the boat it is just as nice seeing it from the US side.
We were into the second half of the year and my brother was back again. He was going to be in Philadelphia. However, he also wanted to go to New York. So, we skipped Philly and rented an apartment in Brooklyn and spent 4 days exploring New York. We did a lot of walking, my feet were tired, but it was great to see for the first time. There is a lot to see and do in New York. We did not touch the surface of it and I have yet to finish editing the images I took, but I will make the time to do that.
October Rich & I squeezed a short 3-day trip to Cumberland Island in Georgia. I had heard that there were wild horses on the island and research showed me there were some ruins as well. The horses were not so wild, and the ruin were awesome, and we walked that island. The beach was gorgeous. We also stopped off at Fort Clinch and walked through what was once an active fort. It appears that they have re-enactments on the weekends.
In December we impulsively did an overnight trip to St Petersburg in Florida. We stopped at the John’s Pass boardwalk, Fort de Soto Municipal Park and the Sunshine Skyway for a night shot. We both agreed we would like to go back, but for a little longer next time.
The last trip of the year was back to Orlando to where my son and his wife had moved to. The weather was iffy and so we headed to Disney Springs Outdoor Mall and meandered around and had some dinner. The next day the weather turned nasty and we headed home earlier than I had anticipated.
We also did a day trip down to Viscaya, Miami, to the beautiful home of John Deering. If you are stopping in Miami, this is one home you may want to visit. Every corner you turn has something unique and different. You will love it.
From July, through December I worked on a huge project at the office customizing an EMR system. It was a real learning curve. I enjoyed the project management aspect of it. It kept me busy and it took a lot of personal time to meet the deadlines. Suffice to say we did enough to have the staff actively working in the program in December. There is still work to do but a lot of the pressure is off.
Part of me wants a slower less stressful 2020 but the other part wants to travel just as much.
So what does 2020 look like. Chances are we will have a quiet first half of the year. Perhaps some long weekends out of town. Our big plans come at the end of August when we are joining Amy and Daniel on a trip to Macedonia. Whether we travel by plane, train, automobile or boat – that is still to be decided. They are finally heading over there to have a reception for his family and friends. While his friends and family were able to watch and celebrate their wedding it was via the internet and not the same. So that is our goal. We are going to spend time meeting all of his family, exploring Macedonia and possibly head to Croatia or some other country around there.
I wish you all the very best for 2020. Take time to remind those you love that you love them. Time is too short to waste it. I become more conscious each year how time is rapidly slipping away. I hope your year is good. That it is filled with family and friends, old and new. I wish you love in a very challenging world. I wish you laughter and joy to counter the sorrow. I wish you adventure and the opportunities to see and do new things. I wish you those moments of quiet reflection and time to rejuvenate. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May his face shine upon you.
From our house to yours, Happy New Year.
Posted on December 31, 2019
We were back on the road again in December. This year has been one of travel. I loved every minute of it. In March we were in Orlando, April in San Antonio, May in Bahia Honda, June I was in Rochester NY, July we traveled to New York City, October we headed to Cumberland Island, and in December we traveled to St Petersburg one weekend and Orlando again the next weekend.
St Petersburg, Florida, has been on the bucket list for a while. One of those quick lets head out of town kind of visits. We only went over night but both agreed that a two day trip would have been better. When packing, I packed a few lens, my zoom 70-300mm which I am having a few issues with and may need to replace, my 24-70mm, my new 17-40mm and my lensbaby sweet 35.
St Petersburg is about a 4.5 hour trip for us from the East Coast of Florida to the West Coast. When you cross the Sunshine Skyway, you know that you are heading into St Petersburg. Since this was a first for us so high up the coast line, I wanted to to take in everything.
I had seen some photos taken recently of the Sunshine Skyway, and wanted to to check out a pull off at the little island on the side of the road so that I could look back and see what kind of image I would get later in the day. Below is the beautiful Sunshine Skyway from that point. If you are looking to take a photo, pull off at the North Skyway area and look back.
Some years ago we were camping in the Collier Seminole State Park and met a couple in the site next door to us. They mentioned that the Fort de Soto Municipal park had great camp grounds. So that was our next stop. We wanted to check it out.
For a $5 entry fee, you get to spend the entire day at this beautiful beach park. Added to that you can leave and go back in the same day, which is what we did. There are some concession stores inside the park which will provide you with food, drinks and a few other things you may need. The park is huge. There is a great view of the Skyway from the one end of the park, there are some fishing piers and a ferry dock. We came across this brown Pelican at one of the docks.
Added to that there is actually a fort on the grounds. It almost appeared to look like a bunker fort. There was sand all along the wall and you could actually walk along the top of the fort. However, the canons were below the high wall so my thoughts are that the sand and roof walk were added later. Of all the forts I have been to this was the smallest and probably the least interesting. However, the view from the top of amazing,
We walked through the fort area. There was not a lot to see except empty rooms. Sadly the smells coming out of some of those rooms were not great. Moving back out into fresh air we spotted the canons. Somehow seeing these old pieces of history makes me want to edit in black and white.
Moving on from the fort we headed to the end of the park and out onto the beach where the sand is like powder and white and so soft. The seagulls are big and quite tame and we had no sooner sat down and they had moved closer. Obviously looking for handouts.
Leaving the Fort we headed towards the Beachcomber Hotel where we had booked to stay. However, it was early so I suggested we head to John’s Pass Boardwalk and walk around there for a while and perhaps grab a beer and pass some time. John’s Pass Boardwalk is a series of restaurants, shops and fishing charters that are interesting to meander through.
These pelicans below were being thrown scraps of fish from a table where the catch was being gutted and filleted.
As is with most of these coastal towns of interest, there is a pirate ship for hire.
Sculley’s was a seafood restaurant that certainly had some great smells coming out of it.
I happened to look up and spotted this cormorant flying towards me. Look at the wingspan and the number of feathers that make up the wings of this beautiful bird.
This boat, however, was probably the most interesting ship I have ever seen. The one end is shaped like a shark. We found a place right next door to it to sit down and grab a beer. Mmm, I keep thinking Jaws and hear that crazy music just as the shark was about to attack.
The Beachcomber Hotel was very nice. Nothing overly fancy but we were not paying out big bucks either. I appears that the owners purchased two older hotels adjacent to each other, rebuilt the front facade and created a green space in-between that became the hotel grounds. At the end of the hotel complex were two swimming pools, a restaurant called Johnny B’s and the beach. Really that is all you need if rest and relaxation are what you are looking for. Richard wanted rest and relaxation and I wanted to explore. Oh well, it was only a weekend.
One of the things that I love to do when at the beach is the sunset. We had lunch and then headed back to Fort de Soto municipal park to settle in for the sunset. A number of other folk had chosen to do the same.
For the next 3 images below I played around with my new 17-40mm lens.
Then I switched out to my Lensbaby sweet 35.
Then back to the 24-70mm and the 70-300mm. Richard waded down to the water and while he was there I grabbed some silhouettes of him standing in the water.
Slowly the sun begins to set. I played around with different settings as the sun was setting.
What was nice to see, was all of the seagulls that were lined up along the edge of the beach. They suddenly took off in mass and then fly back in and settle back down again.
Last stop of the night before heading back to the hotel, was to that little pull off point I made Richard stop at when we first came over the bridge. Why did I make him stop? For the night shots of course. I had seen recently that the Sunshine Skyway is now lit up at night. I wanted the night shot. I have to say it looks really neat and added to that the colors change. So if you are looking for a good night shot, this could definitely be one of the places to stop.
Once the nights shots were done, we headed back to the hotel and settled down at Johhny B’s for a light dinner and music. There was a live band playing while we were eating. They stopped before we had finished and started packing up. As they stopped playing the beach bar at the hotel next door started up. Do we go or do we stay, well of course we go. What a good choice!. Blues, Mowtown, Funk and Pop, 3’s Company was a great band to listen to. They definitely had me smiling with their rendition of “Killing me softly with his song” Took me back to my days of hanging out at a local joint in my 20’s. If you are in or visiting St Petersburg, Florida, and like that type of music definitely check out where they are playing and go and hang out a bit. They will have your feet tapping very quickly.
All good things come to an end, and after breakfast we were back on the road and crossing the Sunshine Skyway heading home, via Naples. We both agreed that we would definitely head back to St Petersburg again, this time for a longer stay.
In just one more day we see the close out of a very hectic 2019, and welcome in 2020. I wish you all a very Happy New Year. I hope that this will be a fantastic year for all of you, that you will be surrounded with family and friends, old and new. That you will experiences memorable moments of love, joy, laughter, and good times. That you plan escapes and get out on the road and see a bit more of the world.
This year will see us on the road a lot less I am sure. We are planning a bit trip in August to meet our new son-in-laws family. We will be heading to Macedonia for a “wedding” reception for Daniel’s family. I am excited about meeting his family, although I cannot speak Macedonian. We also plan to travel a bit in Macedonia and the Balkans. I can’t wait.
The only other big trip we have talked about this coming year is to possibly head up to New Orleans. This is definitely on my bucket list and I would love to check it out soon.
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 Kim from Kim Sidwell Photography is up next and I can’t wait to read what she has to share.
Posted on December 30, 2019
Ever since I have been a part of 30 minutes in the life, we have done a Festive Five theme at Christmas. We are very conscious of the fact that this is a busy time of the year and each and every one of us has something going on.
Mine is a couple more than 5 and one I did not take but have added in to finish off the photo blog.
Christmas is always my favorite time of the year. I love having the family gather in one place for a meal. Over the years growing up I remember my fathers family all gathering together. As a married adult, I gathered family at my home each Christmas. Not only my immediate family and my brother’s wife’s family, but Richard’s family and their families in-laws as well, along with my adopted brother and his family. So often we all want to spend Christmas day together and if it all works out that we can be together I love to do that.
Christmas is about love. My love for my Lord, who in Himself was Love Incarnate. My love for my family. My love for my jolly little fella’s who I lovingly unwrap each year and hang on the tree. My love for decorating and making the home look festive and my love for sitting at a Christmas table and looking at the faces of those I love, admire and respect.
I only bake once a year. It is at Christmas time. This is when I remember my mother and how she would bake up a storm. I pull out her shortbread recipe and I bake more than enough for the season. This year got a little more technical. I had to bake normal shortbread, gluten free shortbread, and vegan shortbread. I take time to be grateful that I have the opportunity to be able to bake this variety because it means that I have my children in my life.
I climb up in the attic after Thanksgiving and pull all my buddies down that I have collected over the years. My penguin is about 25 years old. My mother in law made it for me one year. I love that I still have him and that I can remember how talented she was when it came to sewing. Another thing that I am not very good at. My Santa was given to me by a friend about 10 years ago and I love to see him out and on display. My snowman was given to me more recently.
My Christmas tree is decorated in jolly little fella’s. It feels like I am finally seeing my little friends again. This year I added 5 new Santa’s to my collection. They come in all shapes and sizes and I try to always look for something different. This year this guy was one of the newbies. I also found a bottle top Santa that was pretty cool. Each one is hung in a specific place, with my favorites being front and center.
In addition, I wanted to remember the family members who have been in our lives for so many years. However, we do not necessary have typical names. Mine is Sharleen, my mother was Daphne, my mother in law Yolande. I cannot find Christmas ornaments with those names. I am still looking. I may eventually have to buy some that I can write the names on. However, I did find one that had my nickname, Charlie, so that is hanging on the tree in place of my name for now.
The other memory I wanted to include is our pets. So this year I looked all over for different types of pets. I found a few. My Noddy was a sausage dog (Dachshund) when I was growing up. We had Labradors as well, Duke and Monty. Richard and I had Flash a beautiful German Shepherd with a pedigree longer than ours. We also had Bella, a Rottweiler. Mika was our white German Shepherd. Over the years we have had Oliver, a tuxedo cat, who has an ornament with angel wings. He was the best. Then we had Moonshine, a little all black cat. We got Simba, our street rescue, who is a tabby kind of cat and he holds my heart. Finally our last addition has been Mirrabel or Ms Moo as I call her. She came to stay when we took someone in for a period of time. Her owner left and she stayed. That was 2 years ago. She is mine now. She is our scaredy cat who runs at the sounds of unknown voices. However, she is also rapidly becoming my cat. She has found her place on my stomach at night and loves to cuddle. The ornament above represents Mirrabel, our little gray and white cat.
Lastly I love to set the Christmas table and make it look pretty. I really don’t do snowmen but I did love these two when I was out shopping. Added to that everything has snowmen on them, I got snowman plates and napkins. I tied their napkin together with a letter ornament. I gathered a few other snowman ornaments. Initially I wanted snowmen snow globes but I wasn’t finding exactly what I wanted. I had a runner in tartan that I forgot to put out but maybe I will use it next year 🙂 Oh and white beads in all sizes make great snowballs.
Below is an image of each place setting which my daughter-in-law took, because I was in the kitchen getting everything ready and forgot to do it. Thanks to Kathryn I have another place setting to remember. Every so often I go back and look at the different designs I have had over the years and remember the folks that have sat at the table and smile and know that I have been blessed to be able to share that little bit of time together with others.
I do hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. As this year rapidly draws to a close, I would like to wish you a very Happy New Year. I hope that this coming year is filled with family and friends, new and old, laughter and joy, good memory making moments.
In my mothers tradition, I will once again put outside the front door, a cookie, a drink, and a piece of coal. May there always be food in the house, something to drink and may you never go cold.
Posted on November 30, 2019
Life is hectic, Thanksgiving has come and gone and the blog goes live tomorrow. Work is gearing up to d-day in 10 days and so my time has become somewhat limited. Christmas decorations need to go up this weekend and the blog needs to be done.
In all of this busyness, Richard, knowing that I needed some down time suggested we head to the beach to watch the sunrise and then go for breakfast, knowing that once I got home I had work to do. He even chose to go to my favorite beach.
As most of you know early morning is really not my thing, but the moon was pretty cool this particular morning and as it has been for the rest of the week. Last night I was able to identify Venus and Saturn floating around the moon. I love this pier and the early morning sky was pretty spectacular as the sun was coming up. This particular morning the reflections on the edge of the waves was pretty neat.
I really wanted to finish up the Boston blog but that was not happening for me this week. So the morning on the beach is what I have to offer. I have to be honest Richard was right, I needed that time to decompress.
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. Mindy Sauvageau is up next and I can’t wait to read what she has to share.
Posted on November 25, 2019
30 Minutes in the Life came around so quickly this month that I think we have all been taken by surprise.
For my share this month we are heading to Boston. I loved visiting Boston and if you have not been there, certainly add it to your stopping point. It is a great city and we walked, seriously walked, the city. From it strong Irish community , to it’s lively Italian influence Boston has so much to offer. The people were friendly and offered assistance to two travelers with maps. They struck up conversations, especially when we spoke with foreign accents. This is what makes traveling so much fun.
I am sure I have mentioned this before, but I will repeat it. I am a planner when it comes to traveling. Prior to heading out, I have researched and have a list of places I want to see. Some people may find this exhausting, but I hate going to a place with no clue what I want to do.
While researching things to do and see in Boston, I came across Trinity Church, The Episcopal Diocese. I love visiting churches, particularly Catholic Churches because of the beauty of the buildings. Unlike the Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church falls under the Protestant line and the influences of the Church of England, which broke away from the Roman Catholic Church.
I will confess that this is only the second time I have seen a Protestant Church so ornately designed with such incredible depiction of the teachings of the bible. Trinity Church dates back to 1733 in its original origins. This was 150 years prior to the building of the current church which is now recognized as a National Monument. Besides for sharing the actual building a will share a brief synopsis of the depictions I photographed.
Juxtaposed, against a modern city, this beautiful architecture is breath taking and so incredible. Of course there is little room to move when shooting all the angles, and of course, you cannot get away from construction, people and cars.
I loved how the modern buildings reflected the beautiful church.
The church sits on the famous Copely Square. In 1872, after the second home to the church burned down, the then rector, Phillip Brooks along with a few others, cast a vision for the new home for the church.
Henry Richardson was the designer of the church. A clay roof, polychromy, rough stone, heavy arches, and a massive tower are features of the church found today. The stone used is a called Dedham Granite. It’s features are a light grayish-pink to greenish-gray. The stone is an equigranular material, which is composed chiefly of crystals of similar orders of magnitude to one another.
I walked around the church a couple of times, looking at all the different angles. The work was impressive. The style of architecture and the stone used give longevity to the building. The green mold highlighting the dampness and cold of the city. We were there at a time when the air was cold, but the winter weather had not begun in full.
Walking onto the square and looking up at the building, I was moved with the story telling in each of the scenes depicted along the frontage of the building. Representing the 4 Gospels of the Bible were Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. Each gospel takes on a different viewpoint of the the history of Jesus Christ. Each of the disciples, Matthew and John, were called knowing that the road would not be easy, that they would be persecuted and that there was every possibility that they would die a martyr. Mark and Luke were both influenced by the teachings of Jesus Christ, and committed to serving His people.
Mathew, we are told in the bible was a Tax Collector. From that we gather that he was a man of education. The book of Mathew is written primarily to the Jewish Nation. Matthew emphasizes that Jesus Christ came to fulfill Old Testament prophesies. It is believed that Matthew was burned at the stake
Mark was believed to be the son of a prominent follower of Jesus. He is believed to be in his teens when Jesus came to Jerusalem. After the resurrection, Mark traveled with the Apostle Paul. He also traveled with Peter to Rome. While Peter was in prison in Rome, Mark stayed with him. Mark’s book include what he witnessed and Peter’s memories. Mark died a brutal death. They placed a rope around his neck and dragged him through the streets until he was dead.
Luke was a Gentile physician, who traveled with Paul. He did not know Jesus, and it is believed that he came to know about Christ through traveling with Paul. His gospel is based on the words of eye witnesses to the story of Christ. The gospel of Luke is the only gospel written by a Gentile. Luke was the only person to remain with Paul until he died. History has it that Luke was hanged from an olive tree. However, scholars will argue that he died in Greece at the age of 84. Others believe he was martyred after the death of Paul.
John was known as the Beloved Disciple of Jesus and often refers to himself as the “disciple Jesus most loved”, and is often referenced as the disciple leaning in to Jesus at the last supper. John writes of different things to the other gospels, including the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. John’s gospel is primarily to the church who knew about Jesus. Aside from writing the Gospel of John (his view of Christ), he wrote three epistles (how he dealt with the church) and the book of Revelation (the future through the vision God gave him)
Between the apostles on either side were women of the bible. Between Luke and John were Mary and her sister Martha (sisters of Lazarus), and Mary Magdalene. Between Matthew and Mark, were Mary (Mother of Jesus), Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist) and Anna (the woman who prophesied about Jesus and was an old woman when she witnessed Jesus at the temple).
There are depictions of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist, when the Holy Spirit came to Jesus in the form of a dove. This was prior to Jesus spending 30 days and 30 nights in the wilderness where he is tempted by Satan.
There are depictions of Jesus teaching at the temple. While he was teaching the teachers of the law were trying to kill him.
There is a depiction of the last supper, where Jesus gathered his disciples together to have a meal before he headed into Jerusalem towards his final days. It was at this supper that Jesus shared that one of them would betray him. That man was Judas Iscariot. Judas was the keeper of the money bag for the disciples, also listed as a thief and that he used his position for his own personal gain. After Jesus was crucified, Judas realizing his error threw the 30 coins of silver in the temple and went out and hung himself.
The final depiction that I photographed was what was described as the majestic, triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, on the back of a donkey, with his follows waving palm leaves and laying their clothes on the ground as he passed through. Little did his follows or his disciples know what was to come in the next weeks.
Walking around the back of the church I spotted this bicycle stationed at one of the back entrances. I loved the feeling that you would be welcomed in.
Something that has always fascinated me is why some churches have gargoyles. I saw it at this church. Norte Dame has them. I recently saw it at a local Episcopal Church in West Palm Beach, while doing a photoshoot. Reading last night the gargoyle is a ugly form carved or molded into a shape and used as a water spout on many of these buildings. The purpose was to preserve the masonry of the building. They were apparently also meant to inspire fear into the parishioners reminding them of the evil outside of the parish. The gargoyle I saw recently was not a water spout but a interesting little fella hanging out on the edge of a wall.
Trinity Church is unique for anyone to visit. It is not just about believing in Christianity. The architecture is fantastic, the stories are told in such an incredible way through the talented gifts of an artist. You cannot help but be moved by the beauty of this building.