Tell me a story: May 2021

Day two of the short trip away to Naples, Florida. I like to walk in nature. My brother is a big fan of botanical gardens and when ever he is here we tend to try and visit one. Some are great others, maybe not so much. However, since we had a gap in our day, and this came recommended, I suggested that we do the Naples Botanical Garden. It certainly met and exceeded my expectations. I will probably split this into 2 or 3 blogs because there is just so much to see.

First stop was the route to the Brazilian Gardens designed by Raymond Jungles, and it introduces various plants that are native to Brazil. The walk heads up to to the beautiful waterfall and a gorgeous colorful mosaic wall, as shown below. There also appeared to have some kind of root artwork theme staged throughout the gardens. I wish there was a directory of plants so that I could share names but sadly there isn’t. Enjoy your walk through the first part of the garden.

The water lilies were beautiful and staggered around the gardens.
Fortunately I had the smaller of my zoom lens and was able to catch this Blue Dasher Dragonfly on the lily.
Richard tended to walk ahead of me and find a spot out of the sun to sit and wait. This one was not out of the sun but I loved the color in the background. This is 8 days after treatment, and it leaves his skin looking a little red. A new addition to the clothing line is a big hat.
I have no idea what this tree is but I found this nodules of growth really facinating.
Keeping the sun off his face is now part of the day to day routine, or it should be. He was really good this weekend about wearing the hat and putting on sunscreen.
This was another plant that I really found captured my attention. It was like a water reed, but has a type of bamboo feel about it as well.
The art was not small and this one towered over us.

Join me for the next post of the Naples Botanical Garden in a couple of days. I am going to be heading to the Caribbean part.

If you are interested in reading about Day 1 in Naples Florida, then click here and enjoy our sunset cruise.

If you are a sunseeker like we have been, please consider using sunscreen that provides a significant cover, watch out for odd looking moles, and educate yourself. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. See a dermatologist and get yourself checked out. Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and we are dealing with this right now. This was the first thing I did since Richard came home. I am good, but the peace of mind is so worth it. At this point we have no idea if the medication Richard is on is working, so each day has become a memory making day.

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

30 Minutes in the Life: May 2021

Life has become day by day. It is precious and moments are not to be wasted. Given that we do not know what the time frame looks like we have opted to make the most of it. We both have a lot of vacation to take this year or we loose it. So for the month of May we decided to take a short 3 day vacation to Naples, Florida.

I am not sure that we have ever stayed there before but I left Richard to do all the planning. The only input was that perhaps we consider heading to the Naples Botanical Garden on our second day when we did not have a whole lot of plans.

Wednesday we headed out. From our home is is about a 2 hour drive across Alligator Alley. Short, quick, and before we knew it we were there. Richard booked into Cove Inn. The room sat on the edge of the waterway, and it came with a room, kitchenette, bathroom and a balcony. Only change I would make would be to go to an upper level. Our balcony looked more to the boats than the bay. That said the place was perfect for what we needed.

Once we had settled in, we did a 30 minute walk down town to the historical district. We wanted to check out restaurants and breakfast places. Turns out that Cove Inn had it’s own breakfast place and it was more than adequate for us. Extra large eggs means you get three instead of 2 even though it is a 2 egg breakfast. Below is a cell pic of some of the Cove from the dock across the way, where our sailing ship would leave from.

One of the purposes for going out there was that Richard wanted to get back out on the water. Planning is a little more challenging now. We both love the sun, but he has been told to stay out of the sun. It is hard. Your default is that you want to go back out and do all the things we have done for the last 34 years.

We planned a sunset cruise. So today’s blog is about getting back out on the water. However, Richard has factor 50 sun screen on, a factor 50 shirt and a hat. All things that we did not think about before. It was a perfect sky and I was convinced I could see a bird in these clouds.

We are ready for our cruise. Just a few steps away from our room, was a restaurant called The Dock. We chose to go there for dinner before heading out on our cruise.

Dinner was a share of calamari and mussels. Filling for both of us and done in time for us to settle the bill and leave to walk down the dock to our boat. The Sweet Liberty crew do not offer drinks and snacks on board but you were able to bring your own. While the boat was not full to capacity, there were enough people on it. We headed to the back where we shared space with a couple from Nashville. If I have to say anything negative, it was that a young girl was on the boat with her entourage, doing a photoshoot. So every where you moved you kept tripping over a model, her mother, a camera man, and 6 other people. Beyond that the boat ride was perfect.

The cruise itself was so enjoyable. The captain was informative and his crew got the sails up and had us under wind power and on our way. Heading out to the ocean, I think they took us on the scenic route through the waterways. It was a lot shorter coming back. Like the east coast the waterways are lined with big, fancy houses and impressive boats.

I was pretty impressed with the clouds and the formations in the sky, that was until sunset and then it was too much.

My thirty minutes officially ends here but I am going to continue so I get all the images from our cruise together. The picture below is looking to Marco Island and I will share more about that in a few days.

It was so good to see Richard smiling and enjoying the outdoors, wind in his face, and the smell of sea and factor 50 sunscreen. I find myself wanting to take images where ever and when ever I can because I don’t know what tomorrow may bring.

Our cruise is over but we have more planned. Check out our walk through the Botanical Garden on the Thursday, and our boat ride on the Friday through the 10 000 island and towards Marco Island. One of the views that really impressed me was the dome houses, so look out for that blog.

If you are a sunseeker like we have been, please consider using sunscreen that provides a significant cover, watch out for odd looking moles, and educate yourself. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. See a dermatologist and get yourself checked out. Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and we are dealing with this right now. This was the first thing I did since Richard came home. I am good, but the peace of mind is so worth it. At this point we have no idea if the medication Richard is on is working, so each day has become a memory making day.

Thank you for joining me for another 30 Minutes in the Life. This is a circle blog. It’s a small circle this month. Please follow the link to see what my very talented friend Kim, of This One Ordinary Life, has to share this month.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Melanoma: An Unexpected Journey

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Do you wonder what tomorrow may bring? I am feeling both. It has taken me a while to put the words to paper, but I feel that if this makes a difference in one person’s life, then sharing Richard’s story will have made a difference.

February 15th, 2021, became a day that changed our world. One of my worst nightmares came back to haunt us and we do not know where this journey is taking us.

Lets back up a bit. 34 years ago, newly married and living in South Africa. Our dreams are ahead of us, our future is ours to make.

18 months into our marriage, Richard scratched a mole on his back. For whatever reason it was not healing. I suggested he see a dermatologist. Like me, he tends to not want to see doctors. We have an ostrich philosophy. Bury our heads in the sand and it will go away. The dermatologist removed the mole and Richard headed home. All was good, until it wasn’t.

The call came for him to go back and see the dermatologist. The outer areas of the cut showed signs of melanoma cells. The area they had cut was too small.

So he headed back, they did a bigger cut, and then they did a skin graft. The doctor showed me how to clean it. I thought I would loose my stomach. I almost did. I remember thinking “I am not a nurse, I don’t know how to do this”

The pathology on the mole came back melanoma.

34 years ago is a long time. I don’t remember all my emotions, but I remember the fear. I remember the disbelief. I remember thinking we have just started out life together. I remember praying for his life.

I was 24 years old, we had our lives planned, where did we go from here?

Richard had treatment for the mole, radiation. All seemed good. Life carried on, until it stopped.

One year later he felt a lump under his arm. A trip to the doctor indicated that the melanoma had spread. All of his lymph nodes were removed. He went back for radiation and therapy. Everything under his arm was killed including the hair growth.

For 5 years we lived with the melanoma in the background. With the fear that it may come back. Each year Richard went back for checkup, and each year he got a clear report. After 5 years we were told that he did not need to come back anymore. For all intents and purposes he was cancer free. We could move on.

Richard and I both grew up in a coastal town. He surfed, did body boarding, loved to be in the waves. He was a runner, ran a marathon, canoed the Duzi (a well known South African river canoeing competition). He cycled, windsurfed, sailed a dingy, played soccer.

We camped through Europe, scuba dived South Africa and Mozambique, camped in game parks, slept in a cave, hiked in the mountains, and spent many a day on the beach. Our life was outdoors.

We watched our children grow. In 2001 we emigrated to the USA. Home away from home. The climate was the same hot humid weather. We had the beach. We had brought all of our camping equipment with us. We planned to play as much as we worked, and we had the perfect climate to do that. To be transparent, we were in the sun a good deal of our lives. Jamaica was a fine example of being exposed to the sun, and to be honest loving it.

In October 2020, the year of Covid, our European plans were killed and so we headed with the family to the mountains. We had a cottage in the middle of nowhere on the top of a mountain. We hiked, we climbed, we explored, we even took in a wine farm. Richard was healthy and energetic, and it was a great de-stressor after the year we had had. He wanted to do more hikes, I wanted to slow down. It was a good time for the family to be away together.

November 2020 brought a change in his life, while mine carried on as normal. He complained he had a bloated feeling in his stomach. Then he was feeling pains in his stomach. He saw a GI guy and did the standard colonoscopy and endoscopy. Still nothing. Christmas was a nightmare of good and bad days. For me to see Richard lying on a recliner chair with a blanket over him for days on end was not the norm. He is the energizer bunny, on the go all the time. By now he had lost about 25 pounds and was suffering from dizziness due to low iron levels. I had begun feeding him liver to try and boost his iron.

In February 2021, Richard was set to have a CT scan to try and establish what was going on. Our insurance declined to pay for the CT scan. I was frustrated and fearful, because his pain was real. Richard is not one to fake pain. At that point I told him to go to the ER. He did. I dropped him off at the ER but was basically told I can wait in my car or I can come back when he was done. I felt alone, frustrated and I felt like I was abandoning him, while not knowing what was going on. Little did I know what tomorrow would bring.

In the ER he explained the pain he was having. They took him for a CT scan of his stomach. They took him back for a second scan of his lung. The started asking him for his medical history. I am communicating with him by text. Next thing he says, “they want to do a MRI of my brain”. My first thought is what does your brain have to do with stomach pain.

Then he text me, “I am staying in, they are doing surgery tomorrow, they are talking melanoma, there are 3 blockages in my small intestine and they spotted something on my lung”.

My heart dropped. Our world changed. 34 years later Richard has been diagnosed with multiple melanoma in his small intestine and one in his lung. Thankfully they could not pick up anything in the other organs or in the brain. If you do not know, it appears melanoma from a mole, can spill over and go dormant for years. In Richard’s case, 34 years.

I am going to continue to blog this story. I am going to continue to share what we are going through. Some is good, some not so good. Emotions, transparency, moments of joy and laughter and moments when the only place to cry is in the bathroom.

If this makes a difference to one person, this story will be worth telling. Remember the story comes from the caregivers side. I cannot even begin to share what Richard is going through. My husband amazes me. His strength and his character is unbelievable. But it has to be hard to be the person dealing with this, because I know as the caregiver, I have had my breaking moments.

If you are a sunseeker like we have been, please consider using sunscreen that provides a significant cover, watch out for odd looking moles, and educate yourself. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and we are dealing with this right now. See a dermatologist and get yourself checked out. This was the first thing I did since Richard came home. I am good, but the peace of mind is so worth it. At this point we have no idea if the medication Richard is on is working, so each day has become a memory making day.

Stay well, live wise, and enjoy the moments life has to give you.

Share Six: May 2021: Light Inspired

Well this month crept up on my by surprise. I had my images but when a blog falls in the middle of the week, I get sidetracked. And seriously where the heck did May come from? April was probably the first month since Richard’s hospital stay that I have felt more comfortable heading out and leaving him home alone. Now I am sure he could have been home alone, but after the first crazy reaction to the infusion, I was honestly nervous and have stayed close to home. So far so good, and I am relaxing a little bit day by day. That aside, he is a little tired of me hovering and so it was good to get out.

So this months theme is {Light Inspired} and it was chosen by Janet Douglas of @wiredtothemoon_ and I am excited to see what everyone comes up with.

For me it was finding light in my walks.

This particular walk is really dark and gloomy for the most part but the pockets of light in there always catch my attention. The contrasting colors of the dead leaves, the green leaves and the Spanish moss appealed to me.
I love finding random bits of greenery or plants or even feathers poking their way through the railings on my walk. They offer one of my favorite types of images.
For me the light and color in the background of this Palm Warbler image reminds me of some of the impressionist type art.
New leaves are awesome and this little bunch of leaves was hidden in a dark area but highlighted by the sun.
The sun in the background of this blue jay really captures my attention.
Early morning walk and this Red Wing Blackbird had a lot to say.
I used to photograph the squirrels in our garden so often, until I got banned because the “rats with a tail” were running on the screening. So I was quite pleased to see this little guy feeding on the grounds of the wetlands. I love the autumn looking light in the background. Ironically this was taken about 2 weeks ago.
The light in the wetlands can be harsh, but this particular day was slightly overcast and breezy and I happened to catch these two dragon fly doing the tango. I will say it is a first time catch for me. They barely sit still long enough for you to get a quick shot of them.
Waterdrops on the leaves in the garden. This plant is a pest and drops a lot of leaves and since I am doing the gardening they are not my favorite. We have about 10 of them. However, when the light is right and the rain has just cleared up I love to go outside and capture their colors.
Back on the dark walk, and as I mentioned in the first image, there are just random pockets of light where I find something that catches my attention.
This particular area of the wetlands has lots of trees and so the light shining through created this beautiful bokeh for me and I really enjoy seeing the Spanish moss.

It has been nice to get out again and walk and just breathe deeply for a while. However, the walks are going to have to happen earlier for me because the weather down south has quickly become oppressive and it gives the feel of a lot hot, potential hurricane filled summer. If it stays hot like this that ocean is going to be warming up significantly. Let’s hope not. In the meantime, I am going to try to do my best to get out and about a bit more.

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

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_light inspired

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Tell me a Story: April 2021

Dove

Whoops this month crept up on me, and I am so late getting this done. I finally feel like we have some order in our house. Richard had his second infusion with no dramatic results, and I felt more comfortable leaving home and not have to worry about anything happening with him. He is having to deal with a rash on his body as a result of the immunotherapy.

This day I decided to go out and walk in the wetlands again. It’s been a while and it felt so good to get out there again. I took a long walk and 3 hours later when I got to the end I felt so less stressed.

I hope you enjoy the walk around the wetlands.

Anhinga
Cormorant
Grackle (Male)
Dead flowers
Cormorant
Green Heron
Juvenile Night Heron
Yellow Wing Darter
Green Heron
Western Pondhawk
Western Pondhawk
Iguana

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

30 Minutes in the Life: April 2021

It’s April, and we have been living under a cloud since mid February, and practicing day to day living. I have not vocalized what the the cloud is, just mentioned that Richard was in hospital. The black cloud we are living under is Stage 4 Metastasized Melanoma. For us this came out of the blue. Richard had been diagnosed with a melanoma in 1987 and had had it removed, a skin graft done, radiation etc. One year later he was back at the doc and they had to remove his lymph nodes. For the next 5 years he was observed and after 5 years, he was NED – no evidence diagnosed. For the last 34 years we have lived as we always had, on the coast, in the sun, paddleboarding, kayaking, camping, suntanning and changing color. We both love the outdoors, and spend a lot of time in the sun. The sun makes me feel good, a color change makes me feel like a new person.

The news we got on February 15th took a lot of processing. We are told that sometimes melanoma can spill to the organs and go dormant for years. On finding out this news you go through stages of disbelief, anger, fear, acceptance, and what’s next. What’s next is 2-3 years of immunotherapy every 3 weeks. He had a bad reaction to the first round and he ended up back in the emergency room after I called 911. Round 2 has gone well. The only side effect is a rash. Tomorrow he will have round 3.

I will confess to be hovering, checking in, wanting to have him leave me notes if he goes out. I think it is driving him nuts. But the reality is that I am worried about the “what if”.

Melanoma is one of the deadly cancers. Metastasized melanoma, means that it has gone from your skin, to your lymph nodes and organs. Richard has melanoma in his small intestine and in the lung. Stat rates are not great, but I believe we have a mighty God, and there is power in prayer. Richard has a multitude of people praying for him, for which I am very grateful.

Day to day living means you continue to work, but time off becomes time together. We are starting to say we need to begin checking off our bucket list. Despite Covid, we are going to start doing things together that takes us away, and out of town.

The other night I suggested that he join me to watch the sun set. He decided he would go walk along the edge of the canal and get his exercise in while I photographed the setting sun.

It was nice to arrive and see old familiar faces and to be able to chat to them. I have been concerned about going out for indefinite periods of time. So this was good for me. One of my good friends just recently lost her husband to cancer, so for me it was reassuring to see her smiling face and to see that she is looking so well.

It was also a good opportunity to meet new folks and to learn a little bit more about them. Richard returned just as the sun was setting and joined us as the sun went down. Chatted a little bit before we left. I know that these are the kind of evenings I want to share with him.

We have a bucket list that we want to get to ticking off. So in the immanent future we are lookin at a trip to Naples in Florida and not in Italy (unfortuantely). Richard would like to go for another sunset cruise, and I am always up for catching the setting sun. As soon as Australia opens up for visitors, Richard has said we need to go. He wants to see his mother and siblings. I have family over there that I would like to see as well.

So much has to change in what and how we do things. Eating habit have had to go almost to the side of vegetarian, lots and lots of my favorite (ugh) green veggies. One of the biggest things to go is sugar. Cancer apparently loves sugar.

Day to day, that is what we now know. Day to day becomes your visual image. While we will plan ahead, we are also limited to the medication regime and the side effects.

So today is my 30 minutes with my husband watching the sun set, and praying that the medication does what it needs to do. If you are a sunseeker like we have been, please consider using sunscreen that provides a significant cover, watch out for odd looking moles, and educate yourself. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. See a dermatologist and get yourself checked out. This was the first thing I did since Richard came home. I am good, but the peace of mind is so worth it.

Thank you for joining me for another 30 Minutes in the Life. This is a circle blog. It’s a small circle this month. Please follow the link to see what my very talented friend, Janet Crouch Photography, has to share this month.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: April 2021: Growth

This month’s theme was chosen by Liz of It’s Still Life Photography by Elizabeth Willson. The theme is “Growth”

In the last 8 weeks I have grown in ways that are hard to describe. When you receive news that is heart stopping you have two choices, to fall down or grow up. I had to grow up. But it is hard to put that kind of growth into images. It is the heartbreaking, soul destroying news that leaves you wondering what is next. Next becomes day to day. How do I do day to day, I am not sure.

I have taken up gardening. Not by choice but because it has become a necessity for me to take over responsibilities that Richard cannot do right now. I really don’t enjoy it, but it has to be done so I have done it. Last week I picked up all the leaves, and weeded the garden. This week I cut both front and back grasses. While I was outside I spotted these flowers shooting up from the ground. Emerging out of my gardening experience, is my theme {Growth}. The best part about it is that my Sims came out and joined me while I was lying in the garden taking the pic.

Some years ago we must have planted Amaryllis bulbs. I recall getting some in a vase and when the flowers died we planted the bulbs in the garden and forgotten about them. Just like the St Joseph Lilly’s, the Amaryllis blooms around Easter time. This year they are a little early and the St Joseph Lilly’s are a little late but they open up into such beautiful plants that I was so happy to capture them while they were in their growth stage.

Growth happens and we have no choice but to go along with it or falter. We as a family have chosen to grow with our current situation and to embrace each day as it comes along. Tomorrow is a new day and we want to make the most of each day so that life is made up of memories that we can enjoy and embrace.

This is a circle blog and as I mentioned, we have some very talented ladies in the group. The sneak peaks are stunning and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what they have for you this month. My incredibly artistic friend Kathy of KG Ledbetter is up next is up next. I would encourage to have a look at what she has to offer. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Facebook page or Instagram page.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_frozen

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Tell me a Story: March 2021

I have pretty much been homebound since mid February. Richard came out of hospital after spending 10 days there. Recovery is a 6 week stretch if he can actually sit still and not damage any of the work that has been done. We all have a bit of cabin fever, however, I am trying not go out and catch anything as it could impact his immunity. So I have stayed home for the most part.

My best friend was flying into town from 3 days with her daughter and two grandsons. I really wanted to see her. She listens to me on the phone each day, and encourages me, laughs with me and picks me up when things are tough.

I decided I would go an spend some time with her. I took my camera along so that I could shoot the 3 images I would need for this week not thinking I would get my blog as well.

They were fishing at the pier. I have to confess that I was worried about too many people, and there were quite a few. However, I kept my mask on and did not touch or make contact with anyone. Brody, my friends 5 year old grandson, was attempting to fish, or perhaps his mother was encouraging him to attempt to fish. He never did catch anything but she really wanted him to have the experience of fishing off the pier.

The highlight of standing waiting for him to finish was the Pelican. They kept diving for the bait and the fishermen kept chasing them away.

I love the “Watch your step” sign. It is almost as if the Pelican was following the directions.

Look at the wingspan of the pelican. It is stunning. I love how the feathers are displayed both in the image above and the one below. Nature is so incredible, and these feathers give the bird the ability to fly. Wow.

This Pelican managed to find a tasty treat.

I was trying to inconspicuously get a photo of the fishermen in the image. Clearly I got caught out, but they did not seem to mind.

Something that really bugs me about fishing in general, is often the carelessness of leaving fishing gut wire around, and the birds get caught up in it. This bird, which looks like a Wilson’s Plover, appears to have it wrapped around both feet. Its feet look badly deformed and unfortunately we were not able to catch the bird to cut the fishing gut wire away. Nature is precious. I want people to take care of it and pick up anything they should not leave lying around.

In the picture above, the Pelican decided that there was a piece of fish under the bottom of the wooden railing and it tried to pull it out, but only succeeded in pushing it off and into the water.

This bird, which looks similar to a female Grackle, decided sushi was on the agenda for the day. It wasn’t content with just one piece, it stuffed a whole lot of bait into its mouth before flying off.

The Pelican below decided it was back for more fish. It grabbed the fish and turned to gobble it up and in the process dropped it, then looked down and spotted two of its Pelican buddies fighting for this tiny piece of fish.

The birds were fun and entertaining and to be honest their antics and the time with my friend was just what I needed to revive me. So much so that when we went to lunch I suddenly felt exhausted, and wanted to just take a nap.

Friends are a balm to your weary soul. They lift you up when you are down. They encourage you to hang in there and to stay strong. Good friends are what you need when your world is suddenly turned upside down. I am so grateful for my friend.

Thank you for joining me this month.  This is a small group of bloggers so when one or two are out it seems like it 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 of LUPJi Photography is up next. I look forward to reading what he has to share.

30 Minutes in the Life: March 2021

Welcome back to another 30 Minutes in the Life. February was a difficult month for our family and heading into March I just really needed to get out and do some walking.

It’s late winter, the beginning of spring and the wetlands is slowly coming alive with birds. Mating is happening, nests are being built, in some cases eggs have been laid and in other, the chicks have hatched and are demanding food. What I love about this time of the year is the beautiful feather displays and the gorgeous mating colors that you see. The Snowy Egret develops these beautiful wispy trailing feathers that are used to attract the attention of the males. The coloring around the eyes is just beautiful.

As per the last number of years, the Woodstork fly in and take over all of the mating areas. I used to love it when I first saw them, and the chicks are really cute. However, they arrive in droves and take over the area that the Great Blue Heron would use, and by the end of the season, it is really smelly.

The male Anhinga develops this beautiful coloring around their eyes, and this almost mohawk like feather display on the back of their neck.

Mating happens and in some cases it almost appears somewhat aggressive.

If course the result of the mating is typically 2-3 chicks that totally harrass the mom for food. The first time I saw an Anhinga chick feeding from the mom, I almost gagged. Seriously that head goes right down the mom’s throat while the other two are trying their hardest to get in there as well. It really does not look like a pleasant experience at all for the mom.

Quite often you will find the Woodstork pairs hanging out together, but this time of the year, the male will head off to the trees to find sticks to bring back to the nest.

Anhinga love fishing for food. However, once they have fished, they have to hang out in the trees to dry off their wings. Neither the Anhinga or Cormorant seems to fly far before they need to stop and spread their wings.

Lurking, and I say lurking because that is what they do in season, is the Alligators. You tend to find them hanging out below the nesting areas in case a chick falls out. If the birds are stupid enough to hang out on the lower branches they could easily become food for the gators.

This gorgeous Snowy Egret is in its mating finery. I love the wispy feathers and the lime green eye make up that they sport.

This is often why you hear of so many kills by an Alligator. They hide in the reedy water so that you can barely see them. The Moorhens are a common food source for the Alligator, as are turtles. Even so, you will see them take out bigger birds as well.

I am with this Black Bellied Whistling Duck. All it’s buddies were in the water. This one not so much. I can hear him thinking “I am not putting my feet into that water, who knows what lurks below”.

Sunning itself in the trees is the Green Iguana. The Green Iguana is not native to South Florida, but they sure do love the climate. Typically they are found in South America. Somehow they made their way to the States. While I love Iguana, many do not. People find them invasive and they breed like crazy. A really cold winter will affect the Iguana populations, with many of them dying. Other times, crazy as it sounds, the Iguana goes into a frozen state and will fall out of the trees. As the weather warms up so does the Iguana. During mating season the male Iguana can turn a bright orange.

I happened to capture this beautiful display of feathers by the Snowy Egret. It flew into the trees and tried to balance itself in the wind.

Last but not least is the litte Cattle Egret in it’s mating colors. I love the orange mohawk, and the fluffy tail feathers. He had a mate sitting higher up in the branches on her nest.

There is such beauty in nature that always amazes me and with all the chicks about to hatch I can’t wait to take another walk in the wetlands.

Thank you for joining me for another 30 Minutes in the Life.

This is a circle blog. I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend Meagan Dwyer Photography, she is about to get the party started. You will definitely love what she shares.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: March 2021: Frozen

It’s March and time for Share Six. Still trying to keep with the simple themes, that everyone can be a part of Kathy of KG Ledbetter Photography chose the theme {Frozen}. For anyone above Florida, frozen seemed like a good choice, but in Florida the weather is 86F and there is nothing frozen about it unless I am inside the freezer.

I had to wonder what my options were. I thought about trying to make ice bubbles in the freezer, but I was not sure that it would work. Right now we have our kids living with us temporarily and that means the freezer is full up with everyone’s stuff. I also through of freezing flowers but that really did not work for me. Below is my one and only attempt. I love fresh flowers and it did not feel right to me to freeze them.

So I had to put my thinking cap on again. What is frozen in South Florida. Drinks, of course! What better than to have a cool refreshing drink on a hot, hot day. So here is my take on the frozen theme. I will confess only one of the drinks is alcoholic and it really tasted good. But with Richard just out of hospital, Amy not able to have anything alcoholic right now, Daniel who is not a big drinker and me who only really drinks beer, there seemed no reason to make anything alcoholic.

For the first drink I used an Ice Drink, Strawberry Kiwi Flavor, and mixed it with ice in the blender and added to the biggest wine glass in my collection. I then topped it with a strawberry and some pomegranate seeds. It actually tasted pretty neat. I imagine you could add something alcoholic to it if you wanted but it was pretty refreshing on it’s own.

For my one and only alcoholic drink, I made decaf Hazelnut ice cubes and once they had set added them to the mug and poured Bailey’s over it. It definitely gave it a pretty nice flavor.

For a refreshing drink, I froze melon, cantaloupe and watermelon balls in the freezer over night. I mixed that with a sparkling water and topped it with crushed ice and decorated with lime and mint. I loved the colorful effect of this drink.

Next I chose to make a Blue Powerade mixed with crushed ice and topped with Organic Blueberries and decorated with lime and mint. I love this glass that we were given in the year 2000. The numbers make up part of the stem. The flute is so fine, that I rarely use it for fear of breaking it.

Mojito’s is one of Richard’s favorite drinks, but since he is not drinking, I tried to just come up with something similar. Crushed ice with Roses Lime juice, and topped with additional lime in one of my old fashioned champagne glasses. As kids I remember us drinking Roses lime juice fairly regularly, so this was another refreshing drink to have on hand.

Lastly is my take on a Mimosa. Orange Juice and champagne just do not work for me, they give me terrible heartburn, but I love the look of the drink. So I mixed an orange Gatorade with crushed ice and garnished it with some cantaloupe and lime and poured into one of my cristal d’arques Longchamp crystal flute that I had begun collecting prior to getting married. This is probably the only set of crystal that is not broken.

So that is my take on the {Frozen}theme. I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of the group come up with and to see all the snow that everyone else but South Florida is enjoying.

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

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_frozen

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.