30 Minutes in the Life: March 2023
Posted on March 27, 2023
Walking in the wetlands is always one of my happy moments and today is no different from any of the other time. I love the peace and tranquility of my walk, despite the speed walkers and the camera groups and sometimes the crowds. I tend to switch off and focus on why I am there.
Getting out clears the cobwebs, opens my eyes, helps me to appreciate that there is more to life than me. There is beauty that surrounds me and it is a joy to see.
The simplicity of a leaf on a railing makes me smile. This is one of go to styles of photography. I love the creaminess of the image. Today I did not get to see too many brightly colored leaves, given that we are coming out of winter, but sometimes that is okay because it is real.
A Little Blue Heron who was confident enough to allow me to get closer to it than it may have liked. I love the feather action in the wind.
Fir fronds lying on the railing still give a very winterish feeling.
I may be wrong but this bird does not look like a Grackle, rather it looks distinctly like an Indian Myna. How do I know that, I grew up with Indian Myna by the boatloads. Grackles are common in Florida. Indian Myna are common in South Africa.
Sometimes its the random things that catch my attention. This case it is a random spider web of leaves and bits and pieces hanging by a thread attached to something my eye does not capture.
A Yellow Rumped Warbler flittered around my view. I don’t capture these little birds too often so I was grateful to see it settle for a few minutes before taking off again. It was long enough for me to capture the pose.
One of my favorite birds is this Little Green Heron. Green you may ask? Absolutely that is it’s name but I am with you because I have yet to see green in it’s coloring. That said, this little bird is a wader and can hold this pose for the longest time as it watches for it’s food.
I was doing my best to get down and low with this little Palm Warbler when someone, something not sure which triggered flight mode. I caught it just as it was about to take off.
The Palm Warbler above is the same one in this picture. It flew into the trees and hopped from branch to branch and it took me a good deal of patience to be able to capture this image. I love the image but I am not crazy about the big yellow blob which is a leaf.
Further around on my walk I came across this colorful leaf. I could not resist taking it’s picture. I always laugh when people see me taking a photograph and then remark “Oh it’s a leaf”. Come on, this is not just a leaf. This is beauty in creation and they just don’t see it.
As I have mentioned Iguana are my friends. I love them. I love their make up. I love their coloring. I love their attitude when you get to close and it flaps it’s neck skin to let you know that it is not happy. They are prehistoric looking and so darn cool. But that is me. Iguana are not popular in Florida. Iguana do not do well over the winter season. On cold days their body temperature can go to frozen mode and they go stiff and fall out of trees. Some to the ground and unfortunately some into water, where they will drown. Those on the ground tend to thaw out as the temperature warms up and then they carry on with life.
The Grebe is super sensitive to people around. For me, getting a photo of this little bird is an achievement. They are super fast, and spend a fair bit of time underwater and will come up so far away from where you expect them to be. This little one had been bathing and so I was able to snap it before it ducked away again.
I happened to find another Palm Warbler in one of the random trees along the walk way.
As I arrived at a water hole, I was surprised to see a host of Glossy Ibis and a couple of Great Egret. The day was cool and this Great Egret looked like it was cold to be honest.
Glossy Ibis are either boring looking or look stunning. When the sun shines on their wings it changes the whole look of the bird completely. They go from a boring looking brown to the pearly colored wing that changes color dependent on the angle it catches the wings.
Talking wings, doesn’t that wing span and it’s intricate formation just amaze you. I am always in awe of nature and it’s creation. Each feather is exactly in the right place so that when they come to fly there is no question that they are going to take off.
Nature is a great place to get out and appreciate the beauty of this world. When the day is tough and the troubles are huge, find somewhere where you can just walk and appreciate the beauty around you. That is what I like to do.
30 Minutes in the Life is a small group of bloggers who get together once a month to put thought to paper and share on the happenings of their lives. Take some time to follow the link to see what my friend and very talented photographer Lupji of Lupji Photography has to share.
30 Minutes in the Life” February 2023: Tikves Winery
Posted on February 27, 2023
I decided to go back to Macedonia for my 30 Minutes in the Life. I have neglected editing my images. Today’s trip is to Tikves Winery in Macedonia. It was part of our drive down to Okrid. If I recall correctly our trip was about 3 hours of driving time to reach Okrid. Like we do here in the USA, we love to visit wineries. It is fun to see what they look like and to stop and have some food to eat and taste some of wine that has been made there.
Tikves winery dates back to 1885 and a long tradition of wine making. Hot summers and cold winters are the perfect climate for the growing of the grapes, and Macedonia definitely fits into those categories. One of the days was 105 F and I know that in winter it gets super cold.
The first few pics are of our drive to the winery. The countryside really reminds me of the Midlands of South Africa. Lush and green and endless.
Tikves was set in a small town about the 3rd of a way through our trip and if I remember correctly a good portion of the inhabitants of the town worked at the winery. Daniel had booked a tour and we were given access to the winery where we parked and waited for our tour guide. Our tour guide only spoke Macedonian and so we had to rely on Daniel to translate, and he was not the best translator lol. He chatted with the tour operator and forgot to tell us what had been said. First we would walk the outside of the premises. While it may look big it really only took us about 10 minutes to visit the outside. Of course, I was always dragging behind everyone because there is so much to see.
And then we were heading inside the building and down underground. The air was cool inside. I was impressed with all the vats near that restaurant, that have the wine pumped into them. It is quite a process.
The tour through the underground area was fairly quick. It is not a huge winery, but it was very interesting. Last stop was the restaurant. Through the doors below we entered a double story restaurant area. We were the only guests at the time. We selected to have some salads, cheese and meat dishes along with a white and a red wine. One thing about Macedonia is that they have only two types of cheese as far as I could tell. A salty feta type cheese, or a soft gouda type cheese.
Oh and I fell in love with the stained glass windows.
It was a nice stop over in our trip. Back in the car we are now on the the road to Okrid, where we will spend 3 days at the Lake and touring the area. Look out for more blogs on Macedonia coming up.
30 Minutes in the Life is a small group of bloggers who get together once a month to put thought to paper and share on the happenings of their lives. Hopefully soon I will get back to rest of the Macedonia images, but in the meantime, take some time to follow the link to see what my friend and very talented photographer Lupji of Lupji Photography has to share this month.
30 Minutes in the LIfe: January 2023
Posted on January 30, 2023
I have confessed many times over the last 3 years that I have struggled to find my groove and to get back into the passion of photography. With covid slowing and in many cases shutting places down, along with Richard’s melanoma journey, and Mr Luka taking all my time, there seems little time to get out and do photography. However, the end of this past year and into January, my son-in-law’s mother has been visiting from Macedonia. Ljubica and I have done a whole lot of getting around and it involved me taking photo’s while she pushed Luka. Of course, he had to go with. I feel like I may have got the kick start I need for 2023.
Earlier this month I had time to myself and I decided to pick up my 100-600mm lens and go for a walk at Green Cay Wetlands. I have missed getting out with the lens but it is too heavy to carry and push a pram and try and keep Luka happy.
Today is all about getting back into nature, to re-orienting my head and taking deep breaths knowing that there are things I can change and things I cannot.
Nature is an interesting source of photography. Some shots you have control over and you can set it up as you want it, and other shots are on the fly.
This Little Blue Heron while wild, seemed quite comfortable with people getting up close to it. Sadly in the wetlands you have those people who are there to walk, without consideration of what is around them. I don’t mind people walking, I wish I did it better, however, when you see a bird sitting on the railing and folks trying to take photo’s, slow down and enjoy this incredible bird, as you go past. That way you do not scare the bird away. This bird allowed me to get fairly close but it does help to have a bigger lens so that there is no need to be on top of it.
I love birds feet and I especially love this kind of photo where the object is in focus and the rest is a soft blur.
While it is still winter we are starting to see signs of spring (which of course means the hot summer is not far behind. Although I am not going to complain too much as I will get two winters this year, as we head to Australia in May). What I love the the beginning of new life, while we are still seeing signs of old life hanging out. The lens also creates some awesome bokeh for the background.
I loved this particular image because of the contrast of the leaves. The brown underside stands out fairly starkly against the mottled green of the upper side of the leaves. What also fascinated me when editing was the background kind of reflected the contrast of the fern.
I don’t typically catch small birds but for some reason today I was lucky enough to do so. This little bird is called a Palm Warbler. These tiny birds are fast and move around so quickly that I was lucky to catch as many as I did today.
This Yellow Rumped Warbler is slightly different to the Palm Warbler in coloring. I happened to spot it in the tree eating some kind of berry. Fortunately it stayed on the branch long enough for me to capture it’s image. The differences I see seem to be the stripped effect on the wings and body and the yellow on the wings.
Of course, we have the controversial Iguana. I personally love them. They are so prehistoric and so incredible in design. Most people don’t like them because they are an invasive species to Florida. I see them eating the grass in the back garden. I am good with that. As spring arrives so does mating season, and along with that some interesting colors in the Iguana. They can go from muted greens and browns to bright orange, which is pretty cool to look at.
Along with changes in color, the birds start displaying changes as well. The Anhinga get this really cool color around their eyes. Both male and female (above and below) show this distinct marking during breeding time.
Nature includes leaves, new and old, and I love to find leaves and photograph them with this narrow sliver of focus. I just love the blur around it.
This cute little bird is ironically called the Little Green Heron. To date I am still trying to find the Green part but it is a beautiful bird all the same. It can stand still for the longest time and just when you about to give up it will dive for it’s food.
Another sign that spring is on the way. I love the unfurling ferns. The beginning of new life. So symbolic of new beginnings and so many new opportunities.
Today there were about 50 Glossy Ibis that had descended into this watery area. The Glossy Ibis is known as such due to their pearlescent feathers. Dependent on which way the sun is shining on the feathers you either get a plain brown bird or you get this pearl effect of colors. When the sun catches the feathers at the right angle they are stunning.
Last but not least on this walk about, is a critter that I really do not like. In fact I would go as far as to say they creep me out. Spiders are just not my thing. It may go back to being traumatized by a friend chasing me with a giant spider on the end of the stick, or the bamboo spiders we used to get in South Africa. Or it may even be the fact that I know a couple of people, my son included, who have been bitten by spiders and it has taken months of doctors visits, removing dead skin, packing the bite with antibiotics before the wound actually healed up. However, I am in awe of the incredible architecture spiders create. Who builds an amazing home on 4 twigs. Spiders are good when it comes to that, and I respect that, so long as they stay away from me.
30 Minutes in the Life is a small group of bloggers who get together once a month to put thought to paper and share on the happenings of their lives. Hopefully soon I will get back to rest of the Macedonia images, but in the meantime, take some time to follow the link to see what my friend and very talented photographer Kristina of Hello Olivia Photography has to share this month.
30 Minutes in the life: November 2022
Posted on December 5, 2022
We are a week behind but that happens when our due date falls on Thanksgiving weekend. We are flexible and I am thankful.
I decided to head back to our Macedonia trip for this months 30 minutes. There are so many images and I feel like I have not had time to focus on editing just lately. Hopefully the new year will bring about some changes and I will renew my focus on going out and getting some images again. Its’s been a rough 2 years but we had really good news on Richard’s health and getting the no cancer detected was a huge huge relief for all of us. Today’s time is all about Luka and his baptism.
Confession time. These photos are salvaged as best I can, but I want to share them because this was one of the main reasons we were in Macedonia. The first was to be part of Amy and Daniel’s second wedding, the second was to meet his family, and the third was to witness Luka be baptized.
Daniel’s family is Orthodox Macedonian, and so Luka was baptized in the Orthodox church. What I will say is that I did not understand a word of it, but I could follow along with the actions and I had done some research on what to expect.
When we arrived at the church, I thought that we would be going into the church, however, that was not the case. The family was ushered into a small room across the lot where the baptismal font was. The room was not well lit and I did not have a flash. My camera has been pretty good with low light but it is a fine balance between grainy ISO, and low speed. Some of the images, Luka just moved to much, and I got too much blur. In addition when I decided on what lens to take for traveling I took the 70-300mm and the 17-40mm. Neither were the best for such a small room. The other issue I had was the colors on the walls were the same as the skin tone and it was just too much. In addition there were no open windows, no fans, no air conditioning and it was 105 F. These African have got so used to air conditioning over the past 20 years that not having it is not fun.
This is the tones for all the images and it was just too much for my eyes. So I shifted to black and white. Hopefully things will be a little bit better.
When Amy and Daniel decided to go back to Macedonia for their second wedding reception for Daniels family, they also decided to have Luka baptized at the church his mother attends in Vinica, St Arhangel Michael. The church is situated close to where Daniel’s mom lived and short walking distance from the hotel we were staying at. Churches in Macedonia are not the typical large churches we see in the USA. Perhaps in rural areas they would be similar, however, size wise it was very similar to the church I grew up in in South Africa. This was only the second time I have been into a Macedonian church. I found one about an hour from where we live and we attended a Christmas service one year. What I did find then was that they used a lot of incense, and I was struggling to breathe at the end of the service. This time that was not the case.
While we were waiting on Daniel and the priest, we went into the tiny room. Below is Luka with his baba (grandmother).
Once the priest came in the ceremony started. From what I have seen and read incense is involved and it appears that the purpose of the incense is to offer prayers . Incense is made up of a mix of spices and gums which are burned during services to produce fragrant smoke. Grains of incense are put on burning charcoal in the censer with a prayer, “We offer thee incense, O Christ our God, for an odor of spiritual fragrance. Receive it upon your heavenly altar and send down upon us, in return, the gift of your Holy Spirit.”
In Macedonia, and from what I can see, the Orthodox church is fairly strict on the godparents. The godparent must be an Orthodox Christian. Typically from what I understand there is one official godparent (kum – male) but there could be a female as well (kuma). I read that generally the kum serves as the best man at the wedding and then the godparent at the baptism. In this case Daniel’s best man Zlatko, served as Luka’s godparent as well. During the ceremony, the Kum is the person holding the child to be baptized, not actually the parents. Below Zlatko was presenting Luka to the priest
There was a lot of reading done from the bible and since it was all in Macedonian, I did not understand a word of it.
Then Luka was strip down to his birthday suit and was anointed with oil in various places on his body. In the Greek tradition only olive oil is used. I am not sure if it is the same in the Macedonian tradition, but the reason for using Olive Oil was interesting.
“The reason Orthodox Christians use olive oil is biblical and dates back to the time of Noah and the flooding of the earth. In essence, God was baptizing the earth with the flood.
After forty days, Noah sent out a dove that came back with a twig from an olive branch. The olive twig was a sign of mercy from God that he had saved Noah, a believer. Just as the olive healed and soothed Noah during the baptism of the planet, Orthodox Christians use the olive oil as a sign of grace to the newly anointed.” (Orthodox Baptism FAQ).
Not sure that Lukie knew what was happening but he had drops of oil all over him. I read that the priest would cut off 3 strands of hair, which would represent gratitude to Christ (again the Greek interpretation) but I cannot recall that being done and if it was, I did not get any photo’s.
Next he was off to the font to be baptized. Again from what I understand the priest covered Luka with water 3 times to represent the three days Christ spent in the tomb. This also represents Christ’s baptism, death and resurrection. He is wrapped in a towel and handed back to the godparent.
Once Luka was dressed Zlatko, as his Kum, was handed 2 candles. There was an interesting procedure of walking around the font, and at certain point bowing. I have no idea what the symbolizes. In the Greek tradition is symbolizes a dance of joy. But this looked far more serious a happening. Another webpage I read mentioned that they walked around the font 3 times and this was supposed to signify rejoicing with the angles in heaven and the other Christians present at the addition of one more member to the flock of Christ.
I also have no idea what the flowers symbolized.
Beyond that there was more readings from the bible, and a fidgety little man.
And then it was all done bar the picture taking.
Just when I thought we were done, we were ushered over to the main church where the priest entered a side door, and walked through the back and came out another side door. I cannot remember if he did it more than once. While that was done, I just got to really look around at this ornate and beautiful church.
And that was Luka’s baptism. It was a beautiful event, and I was glad to be a small part of witnessing this event. The day was not over, but that is for another blog. From the church we headed out to Daniel’s home for a short while before heading to a restaurant along a river where the family gathered to celebrate his baptism. This included aunts, uncles, and cousins of the family.
Thank you for joining us, 30 Minutes in the Life is a circle blog and we have some very talented photographers in the group. I always love looking at the sneak peaks and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what Lupji of Lupji Photography has for you this month, and I look forward to seeing what he has to share.
30 Minutes in the Life: October 2022
Posted on October 31, 2022
I am interrupting the Macedonia blogs to cover our newest event. Our baby boy turns 1. Where did time go? 2021 was a crazy year, and I really thought things would slow down a bit this year but they have not. We are rushing to Christmas like we are on a bullet train. Life has it that virtually all our birthdays fall from September to November. It as busy and sometimes expensive couple of months if you add Christmas into it. However, it’s really hard to not spend money on our little monkey. One year ago we looked at this tiny face and fell in love. Suddenly a year has passed and so many changes have happened in this little man.
Amy had decided to do a Wild One birthday party theme and so I said I would make the cake. Please note that I am not a baker and I have never made a birthday cake before but I planned to challenge myself. What I discovered is that working with fondant is fun. It is like playdough for adults. Baking on the other hand is not that much fun. I hate it when you buy brand new non stick pans and they end up sticking and the cake breaking. I also learned that rolling out fondant and covering cakes is not that easy either. I made plenty of mistakes that I could fortunately hide under a bright blue waterfall. The fun part for me however was making all the creatures and their bits and pieces.
Lesson learned – do not ever use glitter fondant again. It does not set. I made the elephant and lion using a glitter fondant. The lion landed up in the garbage bin and I used the elephant on one of his smash cakes. Oh yes, he had two. One for the day before his party as Amy had friends come down for the weekend to celebrate his birthday but were unable to stay for his party. I can safely say he was not too impressed with the smash cake idea.
I started out with a concept (excuse the animals but I knew what they were). I had searched through a number of ideas. Loved the idea of a waterfall. Decided a hippopotamus would languish in the bottom pond and a gator in the upper pond. I had this wonderful idea of palm trees holding up a happy birthday banner. That said the trees looked great but the fondant never set and so in the end I cut the happy birthday off and ended up stretching it across the waterfall.
Next came the actual animals. As I said making them is like playing with playdough and following a lot of tutorials. First I made an elephant (who never hardened), then a giraffe. Then I made the hippopotamus and a zebra. After that I made the lion. I was never really happy with him. I made a leopard, who was a touch too orange, but it was only after that, that I found color mixing charts. I am holding onto those because this cake making story could become addictive. Just close your eyes when you add up the costs.
The monkey was fun and adding the banana’s seemed to make him so much better. Last but not least I wrapped a snake around a candle.
The grass was made in a mold as were the butterflies. Each rock was a blend of colors to make them look more interesting. Flowers were made from tools I purchased or by hand. Below is the final result.
Our little man turned one today. It has been a year of abundant love, baby giggles, sloppy open mouth kisses and those heart warming cuddles. Oh, but how my heart smiles when I think of all those wonderful moments. Even yesterday we sat and he would giggle and I would laugh and then he would giggle again. My heart just melts.
Amy had created a beautiful setting for his birthday and we got to barbecue and enjoy lunch while Luka was actually sleeping. He did sit a the party table for a while but got a little cranky.
When he woke up it was cake time. We got to sing happy birthday and he got to wonder what the heck we were all doing. Amy & Daniel got to celebrate him too.
Then it was time for the smash cake (number 2). He did not seem too interested in getting his hands dirty. He pushed at the zebra a bit before granda came along and showed him how to get his hands deep in the cake. The look of horror on his face at his dirty fingers makes me laugh – get it off, get it off!!! 🙂 🙂
Last but not least he got to tuck into his presents, or rather his mom did. I look forward to the age where he just rips the paper off to get to what is underneath.
He was certainly spoiled by all and we were tripping over toys everywhere. Roll on Christmas when he gets more toys. I remember that feeling of having way too many toys. I have tried to limit mine to educational toys and clothes but there is just so many cute things out there.
Next stop is Halloween, and Luka will be Peter Pan, Amy is dressing as Wendy, Daniel is dressing as Captain Hook. Cameron and Kathryn are John Darling and Tinkerbell. Cody and Carter, the service dogs are dressed as a crocodile and a skunk. Yours truly is dressing as Smee. Hopefully we are going to have fun with this.
Then we are into November, and Richard and I share a birthday, and I am going to attempt to make a topsy turvy cake. I am not holding my breath on what it will look like but I have been reading up on how to make them
Then it is Thanksgiving and a weeks vacation. Then 2 more weeks of work and it’s Christmas and 2 weeks of vacation. We are excited to have Daniel’s mom join us for Christmas this year. Finally the embassy has opened up again and she was able to get her visitors visa. It is hard to believe how quickly 2023 will be here. But since this blog goes live on Halloween, it just leaves me to wish you all a very spooky night and enjoy the fall weather, I know that I am.
Thank you for joining us, 30 Minutes in the Life is a circle blog and we have some very talented photographers in the group. I always love looking at the sneak peaks and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what Kristina of Hello Olivia Photography has for you this month, and I look forward to seeing what she has to share.