Tell me a Story: October 2021

Saturday the 9th was a long day and well into the late night. Just around 11pm, we became grandparents, as Luka made his debut into the world. I waited up and Amy and Daniel face timed me shortly after he was born. Can I say I fell in love. I absolutely did.

Monday was a holiday for me and I decided to do a quick walk in the morning and then be ready to go and meet our little boy when he arrived home in the evening.

While walking I was giving thanks for the safe delivery, and just taking deep breaths and communing with nature.

Today as I was editing the images, I was thinking it is less about the critters and more about the backgrounds. Minimally, we are seeing signs of fall and I am enjoying the change of season. I cannot wait for winter to reach Florida.

This little Green Heron was hiding out in the long grasses while it’s partner in crime was wading in the waters.,
I love the blending of the colors in the back ground and the softness of the Anhinga.
I took this image a few weeks ago for 52 Frames, but wasn’t totally happy with it, so I took it again,
I came across another Green Heron just hanging out.
There was an abundance of female grackle out this particular morning. I love the colors in the background of this image.
Dragonfly were hard to find today but again I love the weird background that has shown up here.
Another female grackle just hanging out looking for my dragonfly.
It seems like the 4 spotted pennant was the dragonfly of the day.
Clearly this Female Grackle is a mom with teenagers because she has that mean look in her eyes.
I love the faded grass and the bokeh in the background.
Time is everything and I did not see this pod dropping to the floor.

The highlight however, was not in the park but rather in the parking lot. A few had already spotted it and if they had not seen it I probably would have walked right past the the trees but luckily curiosity got the better of me and I turned around and looked at this Red Shouldered Hawk.

I am in awe of how nature is created. The feather’s color distribution is fantastic and so impressive.

Thanks for joining me today on my walk. 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 in February after his melanoma Stage 4 diagnosis. I am good, but the peace of mind is so worth it. While the medication has shown some positive signs of working on reducing the melanoma, we have to be aware that melanoma is very unpredictable and you honestly need to take care.

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 Beth of Beth Williams Photo Blog is up next. I look forward to reading what he has to share.

30 Minutes in the Life: August 2021

I feel like I want to say how did we get to August, but truthfully I want to say I survived this awful, stressful year up to August.

It’s been a hard year which really started in November of 2020 when Richard started feeling ill, but it was only in February, at my insistence, that he went to the ER and was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma. I have to be honest that this rocked my world. If I didn’t have to be strong for the kids and for Richard I would have just melted down in a puddle. The day he asked me for his will prior to surgery, sent my BP up over the top. It took me a while to figure out that they wanted his living will. At the same time we found out that Amy was pregnant. In March she was deemed a high risk pregnancy, which just added to the stress of Richard’s diagnosis. In April my beloved Hoo, my rescue Quaker Parakeet died. I was devastated. He kept me in routine and I was able to have such laughter with him in the crazy moments. In May, my brother had an adverse result to some tests he had. He had been my rock in the previous months and it felt like the bottom of my world had just fallen away. Praise God, he was cleared of any further adverse results. Just when I thought nothing else could go wrong my brother’s wife was admitted to hospital with Colon Cancer. Surgery was done and they believe that they managed to get everything but she is now on chemo. Tests will tell her story moving forward. I was almost out of July, and thinking I had survived the month, when I was exposed and tested positive for covid. Ugh so close. August has brought us additional concerns with Richard. He found some lumps at the base of the neck which we think are lymph glands. Ultrasound is inconclusive and so we just wait and see. I don’t want to know what September is going to dish up….. But in October we have some exciting news.

In the midst of all of this drama, there has been an exciting happening and that is the advent of our first grandchild. In July and August, I began prepping for a baby shower. Baby showers these days a very different to baby showers in my days. I remember having a few friends over and my mom made a couple of cakes and some savories and there was chips and dip. This baby shower was a little different.

Amy asked if it could be a more formal event, sit down seating and a theme and games and prizes and such things. She wanted it to be nice. I was extremely grateful to her two friends who were a tremendous help setting up and prepping everything the day before and the morning of the event.

And so I began planning. What does it look like. Pinterest became my friend. Amy is very into nature and animals and so we settled on a succulent theme and I began to design artwork around the theme, and look at colors that worked with nature. She also wanted it to be a couples event.

Fortunately I have table cloths and chair covers from Cameron’s wedding rehearsal, and Amy’s wedding that we had at home. Once again I borrowed tables and chairs, and then settled on green and champagne colored tie backs. On the center of the table, I wanted to keep the decorations low and only have one center bromide that stood higher. I ran a burlap strip down the table, then added moss (from home depot), and pebbles, along with fake air-plants, succulent candles in vases, along with the cutest little takeaway succulents in pots with a “Watch me grow” sign.

In addition I added mini vases tied with string and a tiny daisy flower with baby’s breath. The vases just softened and added color to the tables to match the bromide. Setting were placemats of stiffened burlap, and real plates, and silver wear, along with a real napkin folded to try and resemble a succulent. At the end of that we had table settings for 22 people.

This was a beautiful outside setting, the weather was perfect, but extremely hot, so at the last minute we headed up to their old condo and borrowed the outdoor umbrella’s to create some shade. Fortunately one of the board members was at the baby shower and made that a lot easier to do.

Balloons were tied to the mail box and at the front entrance, and as guests walked inside they were welcomed to the baby shower and handed a mimosa. Since I do not like orange juice, I gave them a choice of orange, peach, or grapefruit. If they did not like that then we also gave them the option of just champagne. To be precautious we had hand sanitizer and masks.

In my days prior to the baby shower, I created a diaper cake with succulents and wild animals, and we decided to have a raffle for anyone who brought an extra bag of diapers. The winning prize was a bottle of wine, an aerator, an opener and some ice cubes.

This is not a great image due to an old phone, but I also created a books for baby section, using a tool box as his book box, and making him some wildlife on trains book ends.

I had various stations situated around the main congregating area, like the baby is brewing. We did the “How big is mommy’s belly”, which her father won when he measured his own. I had built a shadow box using his ultrasound, and a series of wooden balloon shaped cut outs, to create a balloon collage that the guests could write their names on and a onesie that they could write messages. I also set out a bin of diapers for them to write a “late night message”. It was quite fun reading all of them.

The food was all home made and put together in a space of 5 hours. The menu consisted of yoghurt parfaits, veggie & dressing cups, a charcuterie board, a fruit platter, Tostito’s with guacamole and a slice of tomato, quiche, sausage rolls, brie bites, tomato and onion pasteries, meatballs with chilli, chicken and pineapple skewers in a mango sauce, cocktail sausages in maple bacon, and last but not least a variety of burgers.

Dessert was cake, succulent decorated cupcakes (which took me 4 hours to create), the cheese board, macaroons, strawberries in white chocolate, and a fondue. There was a lot of food.

In-between lunch and dessert, we had games – what’s in your phone, baby milestones, baby bingo, and some predictions for when Luka makes his debut. But right now he is a baby in bloom. Added to that were a few more prizes for the winners of the games.

Last but not least, it was present time. The balloon arch was fun blowing up. There had to have been about 50-75 balloons that needed to be blown up. Fortunately I bought hand pumps. The boxes were so cute, and filled with balloons. I added the animals because we are South African and I wanted little Luka to have a connection to his family culture. The crib has a 90 year old history in my husbands family line, and I filled it with all the smaller presents (probably most of which I had had fun buying). I know that by the end of the present opening Amy and Daniel were exhausted, overwhelmed and spoiled. She said there was very little that she needed to buy for the baby.

Putting the baby shower together for them was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun, and it certainly distracted me from the bad news of this year. I am super excited to meet this little man in the October when he makes his debut. It feels like just the other day Richard and I were adding a new generation. Now our new generation is ushering in a newer generation. I can’t wait.

Thank you for joining me for another 30 Minutes in the Life. This is a circle blog. While this is a culmination of more than 30 minutes, I believe these photo’s were taken in about 30 minutes when I realized I had not taken any. It’s a small circle this month. Please follow the link to see what my very talented friend Kim of One Ordinary Life, has to share this month.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

May 2021: Naples Botanical Gardens: Part 2

Leaving the Caribbean Gardens we moved along through the River of Grass area towards the Karen and Robert Scott Florida Garden that features plants that are native to Florida and also plants from around the world that grow and thrive in the Florida Climate. The paths meander through this beautiful vegetation past man made water falls, and thatched roof huts. I don’t know the names of the plants but so many caught my attention.

Again the image of roots in amongst the garden were evident.

Gorgeous colors and beautiful Phalaenopsis could be seen growing from the trees.

The wildflowers made me think of happy faces blowing in the wind.

There were man made waterfalls in the gardens which lent to a very restful stop.

There is so much to capture your interest along your pathway. Vibrant colors and beautiful flowers. Scenic pathways and softly falling water. This was definitely a treat.

Just a reminder, the sun in Florida is super strong. Make sure to put on your sunscreen. Wear sunglasses and use a hat to protect your face. If you have any form of skin cancer or like Richard, melanoma, then make sure you are wearing UV protective clothing when you are out in the sun. 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. Make sure that you are checking your body for moles that look different., or a mole that may worry you. Melanoma, we are told can spill over and travel from a mole site to another organ and go dormant for years. In Richard’s case it was 34 years before the melanoma made itself evident again. Take Care of yourselves. Prevention is better than trying to cure Stage 4 cancer.

Thank you for joining me. You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Tell Me A Story: September 2020

Can it be that September is almost over. 3 Months and it will be Christmas again. I feel like I just had Christmas the other day. I have officially been working from home for 6 months now. There are days when I live in 4 walls. The cats were keen to get outside and so I picked up my macro and went out into the garden.

While watching the cats, I walked around and took some flowers, weeds and got down into the long grass knowing that later that day the grass was going to be cut.

Simba 2020
Moonshine 2020

Thank you for joining me this month as we spend time sharing another day in our lives. This 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 Photography is up next and I can’t wait to read what he has to share.

Share Six: June 2020: Ordinary to extraordinary

Where are we this month. I have been working from home in my upstairs office since March 16. Those first 4 weeks were crazy for me changing staff from live to virtual appointments. I had 4 weeks of things slowing down a bit. Along with work, I spent my time in the evenings studying the to stats. Watching what was happening in the world, in the state, and in the county with this virus. I was doing this daily. Downstairs Richard worked in his office. He started to go back to work 2 weeks ago. I have shifted to the permanent option of working from home. I have to be honest, I am happy that I will not be driving 2 hours a day. My office looks like the monitor room of NASA . There is a lot of monitors on my desk. And yes, I did stop and watch the SpaceEx shuttle head to out of space I have to be honest. What an amazing achievement for science.

Unemployment is high, the markets have dropped, people are wondering how they are going to feed their families, pay their rents. Food Shelters have lines heading out for miles and this is day after day. I am grateful that our company has managed to keep going and keep all staff employed.

This past 12 days has been hard. Having grown up in South Africa and lived through the Apartheid era, I know how much I hate racism. Watching what happened to George Floyd this week breaks my heart. My heart goes out to his family. I cannot imagine the hurt his mother must be feeling, hearing her son cry out for her. To hear him say “I cannot breathe”. My heart breaks for his children, who will never see their father again. My heart breaks for his family.

We have watched peaceful protests and we have watched we have watched protests that have got violent and angry with lots of looting and damaging and stealing the property of shop owners. I don’t agree with the violence, but I understand the underlying anger that comes with these actions. The killing of George Floyd has become a catalyst for change. There are so many areas that need to change. I am aware that I know only what I have read in books and seen in movies on the history of people of color in the USA. I know that I want to stop and educate myself better. I can do better.

The theme for Share Six this month is {Ordinary to Extraordinary} and it was chosen by Michele Tremblay Photo. The general idea is to take something that is simply ordinary and change it to something that could be viewed as extraordinary. I think we can apply that to our lives now in these difficult times.

This month was a challenging theme. Above are some of my ordinary images. Below is what I have done to try and make them into something a little more extraordinary.

Some years ago when I was in Seattle a friend gave my a hanging glass decoration which I have hang on my bedroom curtain rail. At certain times of the day when the light shines one it you will see these rainbow patterns.

The same curtains have a layer of beaded drapes. I fell in love with them when I was first decorating my room. The ribbon ends have taken some wear and tear from the cats and threads have pulled and they tend to knot up, but I still love the look of the beaded drapes hanging over my curtains.

I happened to pick up a feather walking out of the grocery store one day. Using a mirror I created this reflection that often reminds that this looks like it is lying reflected on the beach. This turned out to be one of my favorite experiments.

Nature is the simple pleasures in life I can find in my garden. These fat Lizards hang out sunning themselves on the rocks. I love the bokeh that this lens has created in the background that just gives this little guy a bit more oomph.

Feathers, I do love feathers. For the longest time we had little brown ducks coming up to feed at the edge of the canal. I have since been banned from feeding them because apparently they cause weeds in the grass. Of course, they drop their feathers everywhere, and this particular day I collect a few and again experimented with a mirror and then some black and white textures.

A simple chess set, lots of angles and some great window light and a bit of editing left me feeling happy with the final result I got from this image. My topic at the time was glass and it was fund to experiment with this photo.

Arum Lily are one of my favorite plants, and I love the color version but I wanted something with a stronger edge to it and so I decided to go black and white, with a little bit of texture.

This was definitely a fun experiment and I loved the abstract look of it. What is it? It’s a dragonfly 🙂 I came across a article about making abstract out of your images and decided to play.

Feathers, and this was definitely another favorite of mine. A feather from a Mallard Duck that hangs out in my back garden – placed on a mirror in front of a window with the light shining onto it caused the image to look sepia.

Another fun abstract image. Believe it or not the original image was wedding flowers. My son was getting married and I was asked to do the wedding flowers for the reception, bathrooms, and isles. This was the isle image that I had hung on my naked lady to see what it would look like. Playing with the same steps as the dragonfly, I was able to capture this creative abstract image.

My last image is back to the Arum Lily. This was taken in front of a window with the natural light shining in on it and then converted to black and white with textures.

Life right now is very ordinary, and yet not ordinary. Right now days seem the same, and yet we are watching all the protesting in the city. While the world is opening up slowly, I am still working from home, and I have to be honest, I am not rushing out. I am happy to take each day step by step, to watch the numbers and wait and see what tomorrow brings. I am not going to skip out on life, but I am going to make sure I know what life looks like before I head out. So ordinary is what each day is looking like, but in so many ways we can make it extraordinary. We can be kind, we can love on our families, snuggle with our pets, we can reach out to friends, by phone or by social media or write an email. We can enjoy the moments that this world has given us, the sound of rain, the beautiful sunset, the birds, our critters and we can appreciate the beauty in the simple things. I hope that you can make your ordinary day extraordinary as well.

We can come alongside our friends of color. Let them know we are there, and that we hear them. We can take time to educate ourselves. Read some books on what it is like for a person of color day to day. To pray for friends (and their families) who worry about their teenage sons going running, or driving out, or who are protesting. Be a catalyst for change, however small. Make a difference. Love your neighbor.

Thank you for joining me for this month’s Share Six blog post.  This is a circle blog.  I love sneak peaks – they are always amazing.  This is an incredibly talented group of ladies.  Please take time to visit my friend and very talented artist Lynne of Lynne Grant Photography  and see what she has for you this month. To check out her Facebook page click here and her Instagram page here.

Keep following the circle to see what the other photographers have shared this month. Don’t forget to leave a little love on their page as well.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_ordinarytoextraordinary

You can also find me on

Share Six: April 2020: Imperfection

This month Ceri  of Ceri Herd Photography chose the theme {Imperfection}.   The dictionary says that imperfection is the state of being faulty or incomplete.

I love fresh flowers.   Flowers make me happy.  I love the vibrant colors, the smells, the perfection of new flowers.  Flowers bring a smile to my face and this is definitely one of my love languages

What I don’t love that they don’t last forever.  I have had this bunch of flowers drying out downstairs for the past two weeks so that I can photograph them in their imperfect state – dried out crinkled and looking beyond repair.  Yet in their state of imperfection, there is still something that appeals to me.  There is a different kind of beauty albeit imperfect.

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Imperfection: April 1, 2020: 0211

Right now we are looking at an imperfect world. There is very few places in the world that have not been affected by this virus.  The USA has 278 458 positive cases of Corona Virus.  By the time this goes live I have to wonder how close we will be to 300 000. (I will add in a piece here.  From I time I wrote this to now is a space of 10 hours.  The number has not only reached but surpassed 300 000.   It is now this morning sitting at 312 345.)  The US has surpassed the rest of the world for positive cases.  The death toll sits at 8438 and it still has to peak. I have not seen an update yet on the death toll this morning, but it will climb, it is just a matter of time, and how many.  

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And yet in this imperfect world, there are levels of perfection.  The medical staff across the world are worthy of being hailed as an element of perfection in this world.  No person is perfect, but when I look at how the medical staff have rallied to the call that is perfection in my eyes.  Those men and women who have selflessly stepped up and answered a call, that is perfection for me.  Those medical men and women who have gone above and beyond their call of duty, going into situations with one thought – to save a life.  I respect and admire and salute these men and women for their courage, their dedication and the willingness to give their all, including their lives, for this imperfect world.

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Imperfection: April 1, 2020: 0225

I look at our own medical staff, who are not on the front lines, but are willing to see women who may need answers, despite the risk to themselves.  They have stepped up been counted, and while they may have worried about their health, have still come into the clinic each day to serve those women who still come looking for help.  I admire these women.  They are perfection in an imperfect world.

There is beauty in the imperfection, we just need to look beyond the outer appearance.  Look deeper at what lies beneath.  Look for the good in all of the bad.  Look for moments of perfection in spite of the imperfection.

As we continue to watch the world, isolated in our homes, I pray that you are safe and continue to stay safe.

Thank you for joining me for this month’s Share Six blog post.  This is a circle blog.  I love sneak peaks – they are always amazing.  This is an incredibly talented group of ladies.  Please take time to visit my friend and very talented artist Lynne Grant Photography and see what she has for you this month. To check out her Facebook page click here and her Instagram page here.

Keep following the circle to see what the other photographers have shared this month. Don’t forget to leave a little love on their page as well.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_imperfection

30 Minutes in the Life: February 2020

If you are heading to Maine, take a bit of time to visit Ogunquit, found on the southern coast of Maine.  Lying between the Ogunquit River and the Atlantic Ocean, Ogunquit Beach is a long, sandy peninsula with grassy dunes.  There are also cliff walks with coastal view

While in town, take some time to look up the Ogunquit Museum of American Art.  I visited with a friend on an overcast and damp{ish} day.  The art is unique and interesting, the gardens are beautiful, and the view over the bay stunning.  The grass was a little waterlogged but we continued on through the gardens.  Here is my 30 minutes of the exterior visit the Ogunquit Museum.

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Henry Strater was the founder of this art gallery in 1953.  This art gallery houses over 3000 pieces of artwork – prints, photographs, paintings, drawings and sculptures.

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Current exhibits at the time of writing this blog include Kathleen Speranza, Emily Nelligan, Jo Sandman and Charles Woodbury, along with Art’s Ball: Wood Gaylor and American Modernism, The View from Narrow Cove, Bicentennial Ogunquit,  and Light Southerly:  Henry Strater in Verde Valley.

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Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts:  September 2018:

If you are planning on visiting the Museum, remember that it is closed for the season.  Open hours are Daily, 10am – 5pm from May 1st to October 31st.

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Also make sure to check out the website for their photography policy 

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Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts:  September 2018: 0721

We  did meander through the interior of the museum before heading on to our next destination, Nubble Lighthouse.  Sadly the Lighthouse was under construction and was covered in green cladding preventing us from actually seeing the beauty of the lighthouse.  It was also raining and out stay there was not long.

Thank you for joining me for 30 Minutes in the Life, and for traveling with me through this this small but oh so interesting museum of art.  Look out for another travel blog at the end of the month.  This time we are heading to the rugged coast of Bar Harbor. 
Just a reminder that this is a circle blog.  We have a number of new ladies join the 30 minutes group, and I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend Jess from The Art of Adventures Photography and see what she has for you this month.  Check out her Facebook  and Instagram pages as well.