Posted on February 7, 2020
Burrowing Owls are the cutest little feathery critters that I have had a close up encounter with. Every so often I will take a drive down to the reclaimed garbage dump that was turned into a park. Fortunately it does not smell anymore. This park seems to be the home for the largest community of Burrowing Owls that I have found in the south.
While it may look like I am up close and personal with the owls and maybe even in their space, I am truly not. Each owl burrow has fencing around it, preventing you from encroaching on the owls space. My trusty zoom lens (which is not so trusty anymore) is the best way to get close to these tiny owls.
The owls are on constant look out for predators, so while they are watching me they are also watching the sky. They typically do not go to far from their burrow.
This little one above popped out of it’s burrow to see what I was doing. Often they will shoot into their burrow as you approach and then curiosity gets the better of them and they will pop back out again. I typically lie down flat on the grass and just try to keep as still as possible.
The burrows can house quite a few owls. The most I have counted has been six. Today this lot had 3.
This burrow actually had 5 owls. At least one of them is keeping an eye on you at all times.
Often you will find an owl having a sand bath. It helps to keep the mites down. It amazes me how the owl blends with the surrounding area. It’s really helpful when it comes to hiding from predator birds.
This little owlet was just a ball of fluff out in the sand. They are cuteness personified and I love taking the time to go down and visit with them. It does help that the South African shop is down there and I can stop by and stock up on the goodies I miss from home.
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 Mindy is up next and I can’t wait to read what she has to share.
Posted on February 3, 2020
We traveled so much last year that I did not have time to edit all the images that I took. So I decided to go back and do some editing today and share the photos I had not shared when we visited last year.
San Antonio Riverwalk was definitely something I had read about, and something I wanted to see. This is definitely more than thirty minutes but I wanted to keep all the riverwalk images together in my blog. I have shared a few images on the Riverwalk last year, however, there are more photo’s that I did not share.
The hotel that we stayed at opened directly out onto the Riverwalk and so we walked out of the building and onto the buzzing walkway of restaurants and people. Lots of people. Clearly the easy was to see the Riverwalk would be to do a ferry right, but we don’t do easy. We walked. To be honest it was not a lot of walking. We ventured out for breakfast and then we were out again for dinner. Most of the restaurants were to the right of our hotel. Some of these are the restaurant walkway and some are of the road less traveled 🙂
Meander with me as we head along the Riverwalk…..
The restaurant area is busy. Lots of people, lots of restaurants, a hive of activity. There are so many places to eat at. We had bangers and mash at Mad Dogs, Seafood at Joe’s Crab Shack, Breakfast at the Original Mexican Restaurant and we stopped for beers at Durty Nellies Irish Pub. Oh and add a few sausage rolls to that order.
On of the things that I really loved about the San Antonio Riverwalk was the mix of old and new. These arched bridges give the sense of a timeless period long ago. Similar stone was just at the Alamo and at the Missions.
Always a favorite of mine is natural wildlife and the riverbanks and the river itself had these beautiful ducks out and about.
This walkway headed up to another shopping center and restaurants, and was also the pathway to the Alamo. Starbucks was around the corner and we stopped there on the way to the Alamo We also stopped by Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville for dinner one evening,
The stairway took us up to the restaurants and a busy area givent
Walking back from the shopping area we meandered down this pathway, past the waterfall and back to the busy canal. I love the colorful umbrella’s and the pathways of green.
All this walking definitely creates a thirst and this was a great spot to hang out and drink a local beer. The ducks were swimming up to the edge looking for handouts.
Heading left from our hotel, the area is quieter, more peaceful and relaxing. The walk was more meditative. There were no general restaurants in this area and the few that we did see were the dining areas for a specific hotel.
Outside the Briscoe Western Art Museum was this incredible set of statues of a cowboy herding cattle. The stairway below leads to the art village La Villita Art Village. We meandered through there one of the afternoons. The last image is of Rosita’s Bridge leading over to the River Art Group.
You have the best of both worlds on the Riverwalk. You have the hustle and bustle of patrons heading in and out of hotels, looking for places to eat, listening to music, and then on the other side you have this quiet, relaxing, peaceful walk.
This was definitely worth the visit and I was glad I could cross it off my bucket list.
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.