30 Minutes in the LIfe: May 2020

Well it is June already, but since there were not too many people blogging, and I had a sick baby in my arms all weekend, I opted to request that we wait a week and blog late.

Luka takes up my play days, and unless I get to play with Luka along, I really don’t get to go out as much as I did in the past. However, I love having that one day a week with him, where we can continue to bond and grow closer. His little face lights up bright when he gets to see his Nuala and Granda. There is such big smiles that it just brings such joy to my heart.

Suffice to say I have not got out this month because he is on the 7th week of being sick. The one nurse said to me that day cares are “evil” and I tend to agree. You no sooner send him back to day care and he is off sick again. I guess one has to start adding up how many days you are paying for day care that he is not actually going.

That said I did get one walk in this month. My goal was to see the new babies in the wetlands, but honestly by the time I eventually got to see them they were juveniles already. Here is a few images from my walk.

Flasher lol – This is a typical position for some birds on a really hot day. However what you cannot see behind mom’s wings is some teeny tiny Woodstork. She was shading them from the sun.
These babies are no longer tiny babies, however, they are still reliant on mom to feed them.
The Woodstork take over the nesting areas in the wetlands much to my dismay. There used to be pockets of Great Blue Heron, who have the cutest mohawk looking chicks, but the Woodstork have really pushed them out of the area.
George taking a nap on the berm. What you don’t see is a number of Iguana playing chicken. They are perfect gator food.
This guy was on the other side of the walkway. This is typical mating colors for the Iguana.
These Tri-colored Heron are newbies. There were three in the nest.
Cormorant are some of my favorite birds. The Cormorant in the wetlands are fairly tame and you can walk right up to them, and they will just stare you down. These birds have the most incredible turquoise eyes.
Lazing in the afternoon. Turtle suntan time. I love seeing them especially when there is a group of them hanging out on a log.
Juvenile Great Egret. Not sure where mom was but they were hanging out waiting. What I love about these birds is that there legs bend backwards.
That’s it folks 🙂 The Woodstork certainly have a lot to say for themselves.

It was good to get out and walk again. If I had planned to do it this weekend I would have been in trouble. We have a tropical storm passing over us and dumping a huge amount of rain. Nothing else to worry about although Richard did say that some cars in Miami were up to their windows.

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 she has for you this month Kristina from Hello Olivia Photography is up next, and I look forward to seeing what she has to share.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: May 2022: Flat Lay

I was so impressed by out featured artist @everythingamylsmith‘s {Flat Lay} last month, that I wanted to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and to do something a little different. So I asked the blog team to try the art of {Flat Lay}. I have never done a {Flat Lay}, but this was a lot of fun. Thinking up the different themes and how they relate to me. It was definitely an endeavor to draw on who I am. Of course, me on top of a tall stepladder is never a good thing, but I survived the experience with a few pictures to show.

I hope you enjoy this theme this month.

Writing is a lost art. I remember growing up we did not have internet. In fact, we did not have computers. And yes, I know that I am dating myself, but it is what it is. What we had was the run of the mill snail mail. And I had pen friends. So many of them, that if I had really put my mind to saving my money, I could have traveled to every country in Europe, to Scandinavia, and throughout the UK and I would have had a friend in at least 1, maybe 2 cities in each country, along with a whole lot of family in the UK. I remember waiting, impatiently, for the mail to arrive. There would be a one page letter. When I think about it now, it is almost anti climatic, but in those days it was awesome. What happened to all those pen friends, I have no idea, but today I am still friends with my very first pen friend, Andrew who lived in England, and my Danish pen friend, Lone. Both came over to South Africa to stay with us. Lone when I was in my early 20’s and Andrew when I was married. If you haven’t written a letter for a while, grab a card, and bless someone with some kind words. It will make their day.

Coffee is something I love, but my body hates. I loved the idea of the coffee beans spilling out of the packet and into the cup. So I went to the local Fresh Market and found some Jamaican Blue coffee beans (the kind Richard likes). I have to be honest, the smell is divine and I would love to just pour myself a cup of coffee. Probably I could sit and sniff it for a while and get my fix, but to drink it is like poison for my system.

Many years ago, around 2012, Richard had a group of Portuguese guys come over on business, and he decided to host them one evening for dinner and just give them time out of the hotel room. They were great fun, but the memory of my kitchen floor is something that keeps coming back to me. As the evening progressed, the stickier my floor became. So what were they making – caipirinha. What do you need – limes, sugar, Cachaça, and ice. There was a lot of work that went into the making of this drink, and I think the more that were made, the more that was spilled on my floor. We all had a great evening, and that made it worth the cleaning of the sticky floor before I went to bed.

A couple of weeks ago we went on a staff retreat. This is the second year we have been to this location, and I have to confess I love it. It is art with wood. You pick a project and when you arrive you are shown your project and you have to make sure that the wording on your stencil is correct. Then you begin by sanding your project, then staining your project, then doing a wash of some sort, then adding your stencil (which is an art in itself), and then painting the stencil, waxing your project, and finally adding the hardware. We got to do that all in 2 hours. This flat lay was taken in the staining process. I loved the end results and was able to gift it to my daughter and her husband. I have decided I would like to go back there again and do a 3 hour project. That way I will get myself a nice charcuterie board.

So, tea time is my thing. I can drink tea till the cows come home, as my mother would say. For the most part I love Red tea or as South Africans call it, Rooibos tea. I have been drinking it for years. Every so often, I will pull out vanilla tea, and a lot of memories of my dear friend Gavin, and on occasion Earl Gray Tea. For this flat lay I tried to color coordinate the theme. I had a small tray handy. I raided my cupboard for a sweater and a scarf. I pulled out two of my mothers pass me on’s – the cake plate, and the tea cup. Found the scrabble tiles. Dug out the candles. Borrowed the pine cones from the arrangement in the kitchen. I had bought some tulips to use, but by the time I got to shooting this project the tulips were dying and I had to go and buy some more, but I loved using the dead leaves as well. A nightly habit for me is tea and my book. It is a way for me to destress and let go of the day. Sometimes I destress too late into the night, and then the lack of sleep becomes my stress point, but Friday is just around the corner. The whole project was placed on the carpet in my office, which blended with the colors in the theme.

Last but not least is my wishful thinking. In 2018, Amy and Daniel got married in our back garden in a small and intimate wedding ceremony. Amy had lost contact with her friends as a result of being overseas for almost 3 years, and Daniel’s family could not travel out for the wedding. Their plan was to go to his family the following year. However, that was postponed due to his legal US paperwork. In 2020, covid happened and we could not go. In 2021, Richard was diagnosed with melanoma, and covid was spiking in Europe again. In addition Amy was pregnant and was too far along for traveling. Luka was born in December. So we are now 4 years later, and have still not got back to Macedonia.

However, It’s official, Amy and Daniel have booked their tickets, and the date for their family and friends reception is set for mid July. They want us to go with, and I very much want to go. Richard wants to wait for the results of his Pet Scan, which is at the end of May, before we book our tickets. So I am praying that he has nothing to worry about and that we get to do some traveling in July. This flat lay is me prepared to travel. Of course there is so many things to do, but I am working on them in anticipation of us traveling. Aside from the reception, and spending time in Daniel’s home town and meeting the family, Luka being baptized, there are plans to go to Ohrid, which is on the lake, and to the capital Skopje. I am excited about the thought of traveling, and seeing new places. I tried learning the language when we first talked about going and then it kind of fell by the wayside. I have all of 2 words right now – hello – Zdravo, and goodbye – chow (although that is not what google tells me).

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 talented friend Kathrine of Cobert Photography up next is up next. I can’t wait to see what she has to share. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Facebook and  Instagram pages. Definitely check out her incredible art.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_flatlay

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

30 Minutes in the Life: April 2022

This month flew past so darn quickly. I have a busy work schedule closing down a clinic and trying to keep up with everything else that is going on.

In the middle of all of this our company plans a Staff Retreat. A staff retreat is always appreciated. Our work is busy and our locations are far apart, so it is always good to be able to reconnect and have a bit of fun.

A year ago we went to a studio for some team building time together as part of our staff retreat. This year we went back to the same place. I loved it.

If you are ready to get messy, Board and Brush is the place to be. It is an art studio with a difference. You are creating a wooden piece of art. You can go traditional, you can go all out, you can even use glitter.

Last year I made a coffee box, this year I wanted something a little different. So per the instructions I signed up and I was given a link to choose my artwork. Since I gave the coffee box to Cameron and Kathryn last year, I decided to get Amy’s feedback on what they might like. She said she would like a tray. So that is what I picked.

The day arrives and it starts out with coffee and donuts at Dunkin Donuts. I missed that due to a serious accident blocking my commute. So no problem. I did a U-turn and found another route to follow and arrived just as everyone was setting up. I checked in and was shown to my project.

I had taken my camera, but opted not to use it because it was going to get messy and I did not want to appear like the camera queen. So I used my phone. All pics shown below are taken with my iPhone 11.

Welcome to Board & Brush, where you are guaranteed to get messy and have a whole lot of fun. First things first you need to check that your template says exactly what it is supposed to say. If you are happy, your template is whisked away so that it does not get messy. Then the fun begins.

If you are doing one of their classes the option to additionally enjoy yourself is there. Ours was a morning class and the beverage was coffee. I am not sure that I would want to add alcohol to the mix. I tend to get serious about my art projects. But back to the fun part….

On the table in front of you, you have a selection of tools – a hammer, some chicken wire, 2 types of meat mallets, some screws and a piece of chain and you are going to spend some time destressing your piece of wood. Now I learned from the last time not to do any destressing where you are going to have text, because the paint can bleed. So I opted to use the chicken wire in the corners, and to take the mallet and bash up the edges of the tray.

My coworker had a blast destressing her box. This box was similar to what I turned my coffee box into last year. I went with a very dark ebony and did they writing in a cream color. My coworker turned hers into a movie night box.

Next step is to take some sandpaper and smooth off all the rough edges and get rid of the little pieces sticking out.

Gloves on for this part. Now we are going to stain the wood. There were a variety of different stains going from a dark ebony to a light natural wood, and also including some gray stains as well. Amy had said to keep the tray just light the picture, which was a light center and darker edges. So I choose a lighter stain for the wood.

You’ve picked your color stain, next up is to pick up a brush and get busy staining. It is such a neat feeling to get into the project and watch it slowly come to life. Of course, my first move was to tip the stain over. Luckily the paper is thick and I was able to just pull it up from where it landed.

Once that was done you had the option to leave your article as it was or to accent it. For me that was to do a color wash. I wanted the edges of the tray a darker brown to the inside. This is the messy part and it takes some concentration because you do not want to mess the color on the inside of the tray. They decided to test it on the back of the tray to make sure I was happy with the color. What happened was that she went outside the lines, (my lines that is) so I ended up doing a color wash on the entire base of the tray, along with the sides. For some reason I forgot one inside and had to do it at the last minute. Anyway, you paint on the color wash and then take some paper towel and wipe away the excess of the paint, making sure that you are happy with the end results.

Next comes the stencil. First you have to choose the color that you want on your project, and as you can see there is a huge variety. I opted for the same color I had painted the edges. I wanted it to pop on the lighter wood.

Taking the stencil apart is probably the hardest part of the whole project. I, of course, choose a project with a lot of words and there had to be some careful maneuvering to make sure that all the little pieces stayed in place. First you take off the back. Then you lay down your stencil. Then you have to peel off the front. All the while you are making sure that it is not sticking to the plastic. My coworker and I tucked the plastic up under the paper.

Once the stencil is in place, you then take one of these sponge brushes and dip it in the paint. Then you get the excess of the paint off the sponge by wiping it on the brown paper. Then using a tapping motion you begin to cover the letters of your stencil. Once you are finished you repeat the process.

Next comes the ripping off of the stencil. Then you have to take one of those little sharp cutting knives and remove any parts of the stencil that has stayed behind. Like the center of the “e” or the “h” or the “g”. I spent a bit of time with a sharp knife, cleaning up a couple of bleeds that happened when I was lifting these little pieces.

Suddenly you have a project that is starting to take shape. But we are still not finished. Once that is done you take your sandpaper and gently sand the text to get a destressed look. I did not do it very hard, and probably would not do it given the choice again.

Next step is to grab some cloth out of the silver bucket and to start waxing your project. The wax smells strong and when finished it feels like it has brought out the color of the wood and leaves a nice shine on the project.

Last but not least, I got to play with the power tools. Actually, it was not working well for me so I had a friend help me. I had to screw in handles on the side or the project and holding and trying to screw in the little screws is not a one man endeavor.

Finally, I have a finished project. All I have to do is put their stamp on the back of the tray and I am done. I love this kind of activity and I hope we get to go back there again next year. However somewhere in-between I would like to go back on my own and do a 3 hour project, where there is a bit more involved. Below is the project that I would like to create next time around.

Since our class was a 2 hour project this was not an option for me, but I love the idea of building a charcuterie tray for myself.

I am grateful to our decision makers that they chose this venue again for our staff retreat. It is fun and you get to walk away with something of your choice. Added to that we ended off our day with lunch at a local restaurant. From there I headed to the day care to pick up my little man and have some Luka time. Overall I give the day a 10 out of 10.

If you have a Board & Brush near you, I would encourage you to check it out and see if there is something you may want to do. And a shout out to our local Wellington team, who are efficient, helpful, encouraging and super organized. They were awesome.

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 she have for you this month April White Photography is up next, and I look forward to seeing what she has to share.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: April 2022: Joy

This month Kathrine of Cobert Photography chose the theme {Joy}. Kathrine is going to some personal struggles right now, and my prayers are with her and her family as they walk each day.

When I was 17 my mom turned 50. As an arrogant teenager I really thought my mom was old. How little did I know. I have by-passed 50, and rapidly approaching the big 60 and I don’t feel old. I lie, there are days when I feel old, but not everyday.

My mom loved being a grandmother. She transitioned into the role with glee. I couldn’t imagine being a grandmother. Did that make me old? I hoped not. Amy was adamant that she did not want children, and Cameron’s and Kathryn are not able to have children. So I figured I would never become a grandmother.

To some degree I grieved that thought. I wanted to be a grandmother, just not old lol. Little did I know what {Joy} it being a grandmother would actually be.

This little man came into our lives at a time when life was so unsettled. We were dealing with Richard’s melanoma diagnosis, Amy’s high risk pregnancy, Amy buying a house, Hoo dying, my brother having a melanoma diagnosis, my sister in law being diagnosed with Colon cancer, and me having covid. It seemed like once a month something stressful was happening. I am an emotional eater, this is not pretty.

In September I was already worrying about Luka’s arrival. I was with Amy as much as I could be. I was on the phone the whole day she was in labor. It was a long day going well into the evening. And finally at 10:50pm he was born. Amy had me on facetime within minutes of him being born. He was so beautiful. My heart was relieved and filled with joy.

Where sorrow had been sitting on every aspect of our lives, this little boy brought such joy.

When I looked at Luka all I could see was Cameron, my son. I was amazed at how the genes had transferred from one generation to another. He is definitely our side of the family. More recently I have begun to see Amy in his face. She had a lot more hair but even the coloring is hers.

One of the fun things we get to do with him now that he has got a bit older is water time. He loves his swim time in the jacuzzi. He is so cute to watch as he is already instinctively kicking his legs. I will also take him out of his floatie and hold him under his body and let him kick as well. My goal is to teach him to swim as soon as possible.

At some point when he started drooling, I bought a pack of “My First” bibs. So recently we took him along to the St Patrick’s Day Parade so that he could wear his bib and enjoy that wee bit of heritage that comes from my maternal grandmothers side of the family. My great great grandparents originated in Ireland, moved to York, England, and then my great grandfather took his family to South Africa. Where our downline continued. Luka is our first generation American.

Amy is a great mother to Luka. She does all sorts of activities with him. She is constantly encouraging him. I told her today that she is really good with him, and she said he makes it easy. He really does. What has been a real joy for me is how much she trusts me to look after him. It is tough being a working mother and unfortunately I am a working grandmother. Truthfully, I think when you become a grandmother you should stop working and just enjoy baby life. Luka, right now, gets to spend Friday with me as that is the one day I do not work. While it can be stressful when he is crying, the moments when he is smiling and laughing brings such overwhelming love to my heart. His little giggles are infectious. I recall one day laughing with him so much I was crying.

His personality is a delight. He is such a happy baby. He has discovered his fingers, and at this time everything goes to his mouth. He has discovered that he can sit up, problem is that he is not totally steady. When he is in his stroller, he can hold on. He loves to be pushed around while he is sitting up. To help with the sit up time, we are working on the core. He love pulling himself up to a sitting position.

Tummy time is fun. He is learning to roll over, and I noticed on Friday, that he is starting to lift his tiny butt and push with his feet. The downside of this move is that his face goes forward to the floor. But one push at a time. This last week he found his voice and he is now very vocal. Sometimes I am not sure if it is a happy or mad vocalization but he sure is letting us know.

This little boy is my heart. He has lifted the sorrow of last year and has really helped to ease the pain. He brings me so much joy. If being a grandmother means I am getting old, I am more than happy to be old. I want to spend as much time as possible with this little guy. Fortunately he only lives 30 minutes away.

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 talented friend Kathrine of Cobert Photography up next is up next. I can’t wait to see what she has to share. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Facebook and  Instagram pages. Definitely check out her incredible art.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_joy

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

30 Minutes in the Life: March 2022

Just a heads up – this post is more than 30 Minutes. There was way to much going on on my time out.

We have a wee bit of Irish in our bloodline. My grandmother was born in Halifax, Yorkshire. Her father Michael Nolan, was born in York, Yorkshire of Irish Immigrants. My great grandparents emigrated to South Africa where my mother was born, as was I and my children. However, I do hold onto that tiny bit of Irish history.

It was St Patrick’s day, and so we dragged out Luka’s “My first St Patrick’s Day” bib and headed to the local parade. We grabbed some starters at a local restaurant, some beers and Guinness and family time until the parade started. I have to confess when I go to a parade like this, I honestly expect to hear and see all things Irish. Sadly I was disappointed. Green beads, green outfits and loud hooting does not make it Irish. The parade was not great and so I spent more time people watching, which seemed a lot more interesting.

I needed a low key photo for my 52 Frames project so the two images that you see in black and white were my choices for my low key images. I eventually decided to submit the image of the young lady.

Here are some images from the St Patrick’s Day outing.

The wind picked up, the dust was blowing everywhere, Luka was tired and getting dust in his eyes and Amy was getting stressed. We tried to find a seat at a restaurant and they took forever, and then only gave a seat for 2. He wandered off to try and find out if he could seat four. While we were waiting for the table, the police opened the cross roads, and so we abandoned the table and crossed the road heading back towards our car. Richard did not want to leave with all the traffic so we wandered down the road, and came across an outdoor Italian restaurant playing Irish music and offering corned beef and cabbage. So we hung out there for a while and had another beer. Just before we finished it started spitting, so we packed up and headed to the car as quickly as possible, each of us agreeing that we were glad that the parade was over and vowing we were not getting caught again next year. I needed Irish music, lilting laughter and good beer. Perhaps there will be another time. Or perhaps, we can plan to visit Ireland.

Thank you for joining us, 30 Minutes in the Life is a circle blog and we have some very talented photographers 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, Kristina Dominianni is up next, and I look forward to seeing what she has to share.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: March 2022: Revive

As I sit here and write, the news is on the the attack on the Ukraine is happening. My heart goes out to the people of Ukraine. My prayer is for peace and no more senseless killing. I pray that they stay strong and resolved see this through to the best of their ability.

The theme this month is {Revive} and was picked by Elizabeth of It’s Still Life Photography by Elizabeth Willson.

Revive, I had to put on my thinking cap for this one. Books revive me, or allow me to escape. I thought about a spa day, but there’s no time for that.

What does {Revive} me is getting out and walking in the wetlands. It gives me peace. It restores my soul. It centers me. I am in awe of creation .

I also realized that nature itself is in {Revive} mode, certainly in South Florida. The weather is warming up, and there are definitely signs that spring is on it’s way. I took Luka for a walk this past week deliberately looking at nature for this revival.

The flora definitely has little spikes of green happening.

However there is more, Revive is happening amongst the bird life as well. As we see winter come to an end, the bird starts coming in and creating nests, doing their mating dances, and before long we will see new life again.

The Great Egret is one of the most stunning birds in breeding season. They get these really wispy feathers that are used to attract the male and you are fortunate if you get to witness both the calling dance and the mating dance of the two birds. Above this bird was in the middle of her calling dance. Her feathers were splayed wide and and the stand up wide as she moves. The green around their eyes deepen in color.
New to the wetlands is a set of baby gators. Mom was hanging out in the shallow water. if you look at her body you will see the head of a baby gator resting up against her. In the reeds (but at the wrong angle for me) the siblings were playing in the reeds.
The male Great Blue Heron is the stick collector and you will see them flying out to find a stick, and bring it back to the female. She will attempt to wedge it into the nest. They also go through the mating dance routine, and I have actually managed in the past to capture the actual mating.
The Wood Storks are currently moving in. When they first arrived some years ago I was over the moon. These guys have a prehistoric look about there. I have since discovered that they have a prehistoric behavior about them as well. They move in in mob form and take over. They have pushed all the Great Blue Herons to a section that is not as easy to photograph and by the end of the season I am convinced that I am breathing toxic waste by the time I have passed them. While it is nice to see them I kind of feel that they have taken over.
The Cattle Egret, like the Snowy Egret, also get this wispy feel to their feathers. The top of their heads get darker. They are really cute and I wish they would nest closer to where I can photography them well.
The Anhinga is also doing their thing. One of the amazing things about the Anhinga in the mating season is the color of their eyes. They get this ring of turquoise green rings around their eyes. The male gets these wispy feathers on top of their head. Below I managed to get up close to a male anhinga that I hopped up onto the board walk to dry it’s wings. When they go fishing they are weighed down with the water and can only fly a short distance and then they need to dry their wings so that they can fly again properly.

Spring is a time of revival. It is a time of new birth. It is a time to start planting. It is a time to revive.

Thank you for joining us this month.

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 talented friend Ceri Herd Photography up next is up next. I can’t wait to see what she has to share. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Facebook and  Instagram pages. Definitely check out her incredible art.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_revive

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

30 minutes in the life: February 2022

How did we get to the end of February already. Clearly time is flying. At least I am having fun. As I think I mentioned sometime back, I kind of lost my desire and energy to go out and take photographs. I am trying to be a bit more determined, but Mr Luka is taking up a good deal of my time. Three weeks ago when I had him I thought I would take him for a walk. That wasn’t the worst experience, but it could have gone a lot better. I did not get the images I would have got on my own. In all honesty I just wanted to get out and walk. We are going to revisit this option, perhaps in the coming weeks but maybe a smaller park.

Two weeks ago, with some determination, I took my camera along. I packed in my zoom lens, my wide angle lens. my 28-135mm and my Lensbaby sweet 35. I did not pull any of them out at the house, but when I came to leave I weighed up going to the shop or going to the sunset. The sunset won. I was able to see some “sunset” friends again and just relax and laugh and enjoy the moment. Honestly you just have to grab that “happy moment” where you can

I always like to stop at the “pond” first because very often I will get nice reflections across the water. This particular evening I was looking for a depth of field image so spent some time playing around with the branches of the tree. Ultimately it was not the image I used .

Heading down to the waters edge I always love silhouettes. Normally I try to get people but there were not too many in the right position.

There are all sorts of critters around at this time of night and I am always on the look out. The picture above was the tail end effect of a duck diving. See two below for the same duck looking at it’s refelction.

I had really got there just before the sun started to set. Added to that there was this thick band of clouds that the sun got behind and stayed for a while.

Fly by’s are always fun and the question is, how many images you can take of birds flying by. If you look at my drive I took about 30. At times the grackles do their murmuration and that is such a treat to watch. They were out this evening but unfortunately not playing in the direct sunset set.

The clouds to the side of the actual sunset were stunning and I kept moving my camera back to them. I hoped that the final sunset would infuse them with color.

Looking directly at the sun as it emerged for a brief second before setting, gave me the opportunity to get this lens reflection.

While the birds were flying by the duck about was playing in the water. At it’s own risk because there are gators hanging out.

I have learned through error, not to walk away when the sun has set, because very often the next 15 minutes could change the outlook of your images. As the sun set below the horizon the sky came alive and the colors were amazing.

Cruising in the sunset takes on a whole new meaning in the Everglades and this guy was hanging out. I was up on the high road looking down on the low road, so I had a better view of the gator paddling along in the water. I kept thinking “lady if that gator comes up where you are sitting at the very edge of the water, some parts of you are going to be missing”. Lucky for her he did not swim her way, but these guys are lurkers and quickly slip under water. I would not want to be the one sitting on the edge of the water at sunset.

My friend and I hung out chatting until the very end of the sky show and were super glad that we had done so.

I love the beautiful sunsets that I am privileged to view in South Florida. The Everglades is out west location for doing that. I can do it from home but there are trees in the way so it is very much sky and no horizon. The Everglades gives me the view of the setting sun and that is a real treat for me.

Thank you for joining us, 30 Minutes in the Life is a circle blog and we have some very talented photographers 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, Lupji Photography is up next, and I am hoping that he shares his new addition to his family. Congratulations to you and your family.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: February 2022: Pets

{Pets} are what I love and this is the theme for February, was chosen for us by Lynne Grant Photography.

Pets I have grown up with, and grown older with. I don’t want to say grown old just yet but some days I feel like that. I was fortunate growing up that my parents were happy to have my strays and we collected quite a few.

Over the years we had a Daschund, Noddy, that was my dearest friend. We had a cross Labrador spaniel, Monty, that loved to chase cars. One day the car got the better of him and sadly he did not make it. We had two Labradors, a black called Duke, and a golden called Sandy. There was the unforgettable story of the rabbit that my brother was given. The rabbit was found cold, and apparently my father thought to put it in the oven to warm it up and potentially revive it. Nope, did not work. Next time my brother saw the gift giver, he told the person that his daddy had put the rabbit in the oven. Obviously explanations were made, but out of the mouths of babes and all that. My dad did not live that story down. Somewhere in the midst of this we had a budgie and I am sure there was a fish or two.

In addition to the above, there were the pets we found in the garden. We found a guinea pig. It was in the days my brother had music lessons. Off we went to the music lessons, dropped him at the music school and went directly to the local pet shop. They identified the guinea pig as a smooth haired male. And they sold us another male. I was so excited. Off we went home. My dad built a hutch for me and I played with the pets, until one day I discovered that my purchased male was getting fat and before I knew it there were nine of them. Both mom and dad were both smooth haired guinea pigs, but the babies clearly had a different looking father because I had a bunch of tufted guinea pigs, Abyssinian guinea pigs. They were cute to look and for a while to play with, but I soon developed an allergy to their hair. I have to be honest I quickly outgrew the cleaning of 11 smelly guinea pigs, so they were all rehomed to new and exciting homes.

Then we had the Bushbaby that we found in the garden. Wikipedia tells me that bushbabys are the following: Galagos, also known as bush babies, or nagapies, are small nocturnal primates native to continental, sub-Sahara Africa, and make up the family Galagidae. They are considered a sister group of the Lorisidae. According to some accounts, the name “bush baby” comes from either the animal’s cries or its appearance. 

Our bushbaby was the cutest little thing. My dad built a cage for him and he lived outside. We had to catch insects for him to eat. That became tiresome after a while. Those days we did not have the internet or we would have known to feed him pellets etc. I have recollections of him being let loose in the living room of the house and he would make his way up to the pelmets (I think the USA word is cornice) and snuggle down on one of the beer mugs that sat on the pelmet (Yeah I know, who has beer mugs on their pelmets – apparently my mother). I also recall that it peed on me alot. Suffice to say, with the struggle of catching insects and not really knowing what to feed him we decided to take him to a local zoo.

The last interesting animal that I recall having, while living with my folks, was a tortoise. He wandered into the garden and we decided to let him stay. However, he drove the Labradors crazy when he disappeared into his shell. He eventually found his way to a wildlife center.

After Richard and I got married we purchased a German Shepherd with a pedigree longer than that of royalty. Flash was an incredible dog and was definitely an asset to our family. We lived on an acre of property and he was a great deterrent to any would be unwelcome visitor.

Richard’s mom moved in with us and along with her came Bella, a cross Labrador Rottweiler. She looked like a Rottweiler but had the Labrador personality. When both those dogs died (practically at the same time), we got what was supposed to be an Alsatian, Sasha, but I honestly think she was 57 varieties. I also got another Daschund from the pound. Well he looked like a Daschund in shape but was Jack Russell in coloring. I also called him Noddy. Someone left the gate open one day and poor Noddy got out on the road, and did not survive that experience.

We then got Mika (Cameron named him after the racing driver). He was a stunning white German Shepherd. Mika got in close contact with Sasha, and before we knew it we had 10 additional pups. I thought it would be a great birth education for the kids and they would see the puppies being born. Sadly all those puppies were born while the kids were at school. Feeding, inoculations and vets visits and then they were off to new homes.

We had two cockatiels as well. One Richard and I bought. It was gray and white. I cannot remember what we named it. It died a few years later. My dad had caught one in their back garden. It was white and yellow. When our cockatiel died, dad gave us his. We had it for about a year. Amy opened his cage door and he flew away.

We had a couple of hamsters along the way. Cameron reminded me that his was called Rambo. We could not remember Amy’s hamsters name but I do remember Amy calling me at work to tell me that her hamster had worms. All 8 of them. Fortunately we were able to rehome them.

At one point in time Amy wanted a cat. She had been really sick with a weird viral infection that affected all her joints and she begged for a cat. So while she was staying with my mom for the holidays, Richard and I headed out to the pet shop and bought her a tuxedo cat. After much debate he was named Oliver.

Oliver

Oliver was one of our best pets. He was our African cat. He was loveable and my best friend. When we moved to the USA, we could not bring the dogs, but I pushed for Oliver to come with. Richard thought I was wasting money, but I just could not part with him. So I bought him a dog box, so that he would be able to stand and move around somewhat, got all his shots done, paperwork in order, did all my homework, and Oliver was ready to travel with us. I still remember traveling to the airport thinking, what if I cannot put him on the plane. I told my friend that if I couldn’t, I needed him to give Oliver a home. At the airport things went smoothly, Oliver was given a slight sedative, and taken to the hold. 18 hours later, when after we went through immigrations, who was waiting there for me to go home, but my beautiful happy cat.

We had Oliver for almost 17 years. He saved my life the first few years in the USA. I was not allowed to work. I was the only one home all day, in a foreign country, knowing no one initially. Oliver became my best bud. We would hang out together. I would talk to him and play with him. Oh I loved that little man. He was a cuddler. In his last few years he developed diabetes and had to be given insulin twice a day after he had eaten. It became very stressful when he would not eat and some days had me begging for him to have his food so he could have his life saving shots. 3 years after diagnosis his health declined until one day he had a fit. That was the hardest day of my life. I hated making the decision to say goodbye but I know that his quality of life was no longer what it should have been. My eyes were red for a good week, and even now, I still miss this beautiful man

Oliver was the last cat I actually bought. The rest I have inherited.

Moonshine aka Ms Muff

Moonshine came to us via Cameron. His girlfriend at the time, decided that she wanted this cat. She forgot to ask her parents if the cat could stay there. The answer was no and so she came to stay with us. She was a sweet little girl. She loved to lie on my desk next to me while I was working and put her paw on my arm. I loved the little girl but she was not Richards best friend. She overlapped with the next cat and I think due to her being their first, she took to marking her territory, all over the house and he was not happy about that. For the sake of our marriage, Ms Muff had to go. It broke my heart to say goodbye to her.

In 2015, Amy moved to Gainesville. She lived in a house opposite a Barber shop. Every morning the owner would come outside and put mounds of pellets on the floor to feed the wild cats. It was one of those days when I was staying up there that I spotted this cat across the way. I had my camera in my hand and so I snapped a couple of pics of him.

Simba – Stretching exercises in the warmth of the sun

Little did I know that 6 months later she would call me and say “mom you have to take this cat. I have been feeding him and I cannot leave him on the street”. Amy was joining the Peace Corp and traveling to Macedonia. I was not certain. I was worried that the cat was feral. However, I drove up to fetch her and all her belongings and who came home with us but this random cat. I had gone outside to the street level and sat on the patio step and who should wander over but the cat she wanted me to take home. He walked up the steps, sat on my lap and my decision was made. Simba has a clipped ear to indicate that he had been sterilized and put back on the street. This little guy was not feral. In fact, soul brother to Oliver, he has turned out to be the most loving cat, and definitely a favorite of mine. Life on the street does come with disadvantages. Simba’s teeth are yucky. However, just as we were preparing to sort his teeth out (literally on the table with a catheter down his throat), we discover that he has some kind of lung disorder not unlike asthma in a human. Multiple x-rays later and enormous vet bills. it appears that this condition is for his lifetime., He has been on steriods for 2 years now. Simba has been with us almost 7 years now and I hope he is around for a lot longer. This is my cuddle cat. He is my shadow. He sleeps on the couch in my office during the day, and he cuddles into me in the bed at night. He may have found a home, but I found a friend in this little man. Actually as I am writing this, I have Luka (our grandson) on the couch sleeping and not far from him is Simba. Just a pillow in-between.

Simba

About 3 years ago now, Mirrabelle (aka Ms Moo) came to stay. She belonged with a lady who lived with us for 3 months. The lady moved out but Ms Moo stayed. To look at her you would think she looks like a opossum. That is if you ever see her. She is such a nervy cat that it has taken all 3 years for her to get used to Richard and I, and to actually come out and spend time with us. However, my son-in-law does not believe she lives with us because the minute anyone outside of Richard or myself step through that door, she is in her hiding place under my bed. In the last year she has become more attached to me. She will come and lie on my stomach at night when I am reading on my couch, or she will lie next to me in Simba’s spot on the bed. That typically results in a tussle and off she goes. I have had her refuse to give up her new spot to Simba and had Simba sleep on my stomach all night. One of her “safe” spaces is on the landing of the steps. Quite often I will find her lying there with her feet on the next step as you will see below. While she is very skittish, she definitely has the sweetest personality. If only she could gain some confidence.

Mirrabelle aka Ms Moo

Last but not least, so the saying goes, was Houdini. Houdini was a rescue Quaker Parakeet. I was heading back to my office in early March 2020, when I spotted all the staff standing around the entrance to the offices. What I discovered was rather a dazed parakeet clinging to the edge of the window sill. Clearly in trauma, I was able to stroke him gently without him biting me and then get him onto my hand. My idea was that I would take him to my personal office and then phone around and see if he had been reported missing. He took off from my arm and flew around the office, eliciting screams from those who do not like birds :). He finally landed on my chest and I decided I would take him back outside and let him fly off. Which clearly he didn’t do. So it was back to my office. Given that it was a long weekend, I had to transport him home. So I shot out to the local Pet store and bought him a small cage, and off we went home. Richard was not overly happy that we had another animal in the house but he hung in there. I kept checking but no one claimed Hoo, so he stayed.

He was named Houdini, because, as fast as I was trying to put him in my cage at the office, he was trying to escape. Over time Hoo graduated from a tiny cage to a bird palace, with all of the nuts and bolts including a bird jacuzzi size tub. He sure loved to splash in that.

Houdini or Hoo as I called him was a pain in the butt, but he was my pain in the butt. He was so cool when he wasn’t biting my ear. He would fly to my shoulder and hang out. By the end of the year, Hoo was dancing and making weird singing sounds. He was starting to copy me when I was laughing. He would have me in tears. His favorite muscian was Edith Piaf and he really love La vie en rose. I think it was the high notes that he enjoyed. That is when he got his dance on. One year later, shortly after Richard had been diagnosed with melanoma, Hoo, was acting kind of strange. I needed to get bird food, so I headed out to the shop. Got him some treats while I was there. When I came back I let him out the cage, but he seemed a little lethargic. I had him on my chest and when he moved I notice a whole lot of blood. Avian vets are few and far between and the only appointment I could get was an hour later. Hoo passed away in my arms, 15 minutes after I made the appointment. I miss the little bugger. I cried for days. The other day I found a feather stick to my shutters and it brought up all those memories of Hoo time. Parakeets are not easy, those beaks are nasty, but that little bird crept into my heart and took up residence.

Houdini

We have had a few other critters along the way. Amy had a hamster when we were first in the USA. I know I buried it in a tin in the garden. But I honestly don’t remember too much more about it. She also had two corn snakes. I am not a reptile fan, and I am not sure the snakes would have survived if they had got out of their cage. I was certainly super happy when they were rehomed. She also had two rats Arya and Xeno. I have to say it took a while but I did get used to them, and they never bit me like I thought they would do. She definitely took me out of my comfort zone with her pets. Thank goodness we never had a tarantula. That would have put me over the edge.

Someone brought me a duckling one time which I attempted to save. It was barely a couple of days old. I tried to feed it with a dropper, and I had it under a light to keep it warm but it did not survive. Someone else brought me a dove that they had rescued. Not sure what was going on with that dove, but something was not right with it. It could not fly properly. It used to sit on my shoulder and peck at my ears but if it took off it would fly straight into the ceiling. We thought we would take it outside and see if it would fly off. It flew alright, off the grass area to half way across the canal and landed in the water. I had Richard wading into the canal (which has gators I might add) to rescue the bird. We also rescued a baby turtle in the driveway. The kids were convinced that it would die if we put it into the canal, so I ended up buying a terrarium and building a turtle home with the idea of letting it grow a bit. Handling turtles is risky because they can carry salmonella so I got to do all the work. Eventually the turtle police (Richard and Amy) said it needed to be let go. Of course they wait until I have spent my money and then they make this decision. So Mr T as I called him was released into the canal.

If you haven’t gathered by now, I love animals. I get great joy having them around. Richard is less of a pet person. I told him that one day when he gets to heaven God is going to make him the keeper of all domestic animals.

To me animals bring immense love and comfort to so many, and I know over the years, ours have brought such comfort to us. They sense when they are needed. During my struggle with Richard’s illness Simba was my constant companion. When these animals come into my home, they become my family. Loosing anyone of them is like loosing someone I love dearly.

Thank you for joining us as we share the pets in our lives. We’d love to see your pets.

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 talented friend Ceri of Ceri Herd Photography up next is up next. I can’t wait to see what she has to share. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Facebook and  Instagram pages. Definitely check out her incredible art.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_pets

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

30 Minutes in the Life: January 2022

Welcome back to 2022 and a new year of 30 Minutes in the Life. Last year we took a sabbatical for the last few months. We were all worn out and, to be honest, I had a new baby in the family and he was taking up a good deal of my time. We have been so excited to watch Luka grow over the past few months and I have been equally blessed that my daughter has allowed me to spend so much time with him. He is such a sweet boy and he brought light into my soul after an incredibly tough year.

But January came around and once again, I wanted to start the year on a positive and healthy note. I was back to work and Friday’s are my only day to play. I wanted to go and walk but I also wanted to see Luka, so I suggested to Amy that we meet at the Japanese Gardens and take a walk through them and have lunch at the gardens. That way I get out to walk and I see my boy as well.

The added bonus was that I went back to her house so that I could watch him while she did some studying.

The Japanese Gardens are beautiful and the weather temperature was perfect so we were able to walk through them and not feel like a bit drip. However, it was a little dull and overcast. If I were walking by myself I would take about 2 hours to meander the gardens but I forgot that I am walking with Amy the road runner. We zoomed through the park at a super fast rate. Apparently she was hungry and wanted to get to the lunch stop 🙂

So here are some images from Morikami Japanese Gardens.

I love this wall at the entrance to the park, and while I was waiting for Amy and Luka I played around.
Just the other day I was talking to Richard about the Azealia plant. We used to have a garden full of them in South Africa, but I have not seen them around in Florida. I was pleasantly surprised to see them in the gardens.
Amy and Luka as we start out our walk. He is not too keen on the sunlight right now, but Amy has since bought him sunglasses and the dude looks pretty cool with them on.
The lake appears to have Koi and turtles in it.
I love the different scenery’s around the lake. These grasses make a nice edging.
Reflections can be found all over the park and this was just one corner at the beginning.
I had my Lensbaby Sweet 35 in the bag and so when I got to the bamboo trees, I played around a bit.
It’s nice to see slight shades of winter amongst all the green.
We had to have a pit stop and so it was a good place to take some photo’s of our little guy.
Ornamental decorations can be found scattered around the park. The walk is very soothing and I often when I go I will find a place to sit and just blank out the noise.
This is the wall to a raked garden. I have sat on the seats just below this wall many a time.

My 30 minutes technically ends here but I am going to continue with our walk through the gardens.

Natures colors on a dull overcast day.
I often stop and think about how creative nature truly is with it’s designs and it colors.
Another beautiful raked garden.
Through this section there are waterfalls, and small winding rivers, that quiet your mind.
This image of is of the rooftop of a wooden gateway that separates the previous area with that of the Japanese house. We did not visit the house this time.
However, we did need to take a pic of Luka with the Budda. I told Amy they looked similar. Luka got tall and filled out pretty quickly for his 3 months. Now he needs to get moving to loose all that baby fat.
By passing the Japanese house we followed the walkway through the trees and open spaces. I loved seeing the air plants growing out of this tree
Another sign, however small, of winter in south Florida.
I saw something out in the water and was not sure what it was until I zoomed in. For me this is a sad sight, but a common one when temperatures drop in south Florida. The iguana freeze and if they are in trees above water, and they fall out the trees, they will drown. If they are on the ground apparently they will come to life again as the temperature warms up. I cannot vouch for that as I have not seen that happen. A cold winter really reduces the number of iguana in the area. I am going to be watching the 3 I see outside on the trees. While many don’t like iguana, I really do.
The end is in sight. Just beyond those steps is the restaurant, and Amy is in a hurry to get her food and to stop the grumbling in her stomach.
Nature gives us such beauty if we just take time to stop and look. It isn’t always about the animals. Plants bring a smile to my face as well.

If you haven’t taken a walk in nature for a while, I would certainly encourage you to do so. As we head into another covid filled year, getting outside into the fresh air is a good way to restore harmony to your soul, and to just refresh in general.

30 Minutes in the Life is a circle blog and we have some very talented photographers 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. Ashley Soeder Photography is up next. She is sharing a delightful new puppy so I can’t wait to see what images she has to share. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Webpage or  Instagram  page. Definitely check out her incredible art.

Share Six: January 2022: Abstract_22

Happy New Year and welcome to the year 2022. I am so grateful to see the back of 2021. I am excited to see what this year has to offer and praying that life does not get so crazy like it was last year.

Starting out with 2022 on a bang, Janet of @wiredtothemoon_ has chosen the them {Abstract}. We have done this them some years ago, so that will explain the _22 on the end of the hashtag.

I looked up the definition of “abstract art” to see what the internet would come up with. Here is what I got:

“art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures.

I love abstract art to start with. I have abstract art on the walls in my home. However I took a different take on it this time around. I looked at {Abstract} in nature. Very often I get that impressionist kind of feel to the photos.

I love the out of focus feel that the lensbaby gives a sunset.
Branches in the wetlands. What you don’t see is the Little Green Heron that I cropped out. He had hopped into the trees to hide from me. I loved the effect that the gray branches gave on natures background when out of focus.
In this image I was looking for a “breaking the rules” image and so I had a flower on the extreme right of the image. I cropped it out and now I have an abstract image of the reeds in the wetlands.
Again another out of focus post crop. My focus was on a Great Blue Heron but when I looked at the background I loved the impressionist feel that this image gave me.
Lensbaby and bokeh. What more can I say. For me the abstract of this is all of the crazy bokeh in the image
While I would love to say that this is an alligator submerging it wasn’t. I managed to capture the tail end shot of an Anhinga diving for food in the lake.
In the forefront of this image was a female Grackle. I love the soft out of focus effect of this image that creates and abstract feel.
This image was the top of the nesting area where the Great Blue Heron were building their new homes for spring. I loved the eeriness of the branches reaching out. Bokeh always gets me as well.
Cropped out of this image was a dragonfly, but the background is again something I would put on my walls.

Technically the next three are not in the wetlands but I did love the abstract feel of these images.

I had gone to the wetlands, and driving home with no cars on my side of the road, and the lenbaby on my camera. I held the camera up to balance on the steering wheel and just took a series of images of the oncoming cars. This kind of pic is up on my wall.
For this image I was trying to get movement but it functions as abstract as well. I was running water into our kitchen basin and shooting with a macro.
An for a little bit of crazy abstract, a garden flower and some fun and games in photoshop.

Thank you for joining us as we start out yet another year of photography sharing.

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 talented friend Janet of @wiredtothemoon_ up next is up next. I can’t wait to see what she has to share. You can see more of her work by clicking on her  Instagram  page. Definitely check out her incredible art.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_abstract_22

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.