Share Six: August 2022: Travel

I chose the them {Travel} this month because I knew I would only be arriving home from 12 days in Macedonia four days before we were due to go live.

Travel plans to Macedonia started way back in 2019, but circumstances kept postponing it. In December 2018, Amy & Daniel got married in our back garden, however, none of Daniel’s family could be with us. So Amy & Daniel planned to go to Macedonia and have a reception there for his family in 2020. Well we all know that covid happened and that put paid to any traveling. 2021 was the year from hell, and Richard’s health played a big role in us doing anything. In addition Amy was pregnant and was not able to travel. So 2022 comes around and the kids are determined to go back home to Daniel’s family and they wanted us to go with. This would be the time to have his family celebrate their wedding and also have Luka baptized. We would spend almost a week in his home town before heading out on a road trip to see the rest of Macedonia as best we could.

Below is a short synopsis of the traveling we did. Details will follow in additional posts.

There is nothing worse than a cellphone pic, through a tinted glass window at the airport. But I had to take it to start off our travel plans. We were flying Turkish Airlines out of Miami, to Istanbul, Turkey, and then on from Istanbul to Skopje, Macedonia. Travel time was 11 hours to Istanbul, with a 1.5 hour layover (which did not quite happen) and then a 1.5 hour flight time to Skopje. Seeing the kids and my little man, Luka, was a huge relief and such a pleasure. Luka had been gone for 10 days and I missed him. Driving through the countryside traveling to Vinica reminded me of the Natal midlands that I had grown up in.
With just a short time to unpack and a quick shower, I kicked off the afternoon with Amy at a bridal bread making ceremony. From what I understand, traditionally the brides family make a round loaf of bread which is broken by the two families. Since Amy’s family only arrived that day, Daniel’s mother gathered her family and they did the bread making at their home. Of course, chef Luka was in the middle of it. A coin is placed in the bread, and when the bread is broken the person receiving the coin is declared to have good luck for the year.
Vinica is a small town with some history. At the top of the hill is a the ruins of a fortress known as Vinicko Kale and dates back to the Neolithic times. On another hill is a giant cross that overlooks the town. We opted to walk up to the ruins on Friday. Kuddo’s to #babgyjogger stroller. It did some heavy duty all terrain traveling. One thing about getting to the ruins is it is all uphill. It seemed to go on forever. It is then when you realize just how unfit you are and that you cannot actually breathe. I would love to blame the change in climate, and I am sure that contributed a little bit, but unfit is a good word to use for me. The ruins were interesting and the view of town gives a good idea of the size of it. On a side note, I opted to skip the climb to the cross, but Richard did it.
Friday afternoon, after recovering from our hill climbing, Amy, Richard, Luka and I went through to Kochani, which is a slightly bigger town than Vinica. We found an Irish Pub, that really did not have much Irish going on, but the atmosphere was nice and the staff were friendly. The one lady I spoke to was a teacher, but said that jobs were slim and so she was working in the pub. From there we walked around the town, and climbed another hill to a church I had spotted. Lunch was calling and we headed to a small tavern like restaurant for a light snack and some “fan” time to cool down. Luka was really overheated with all the activity so he got to spend the night in air conditioning with his Nuala and Granda.
Saturday was the start of the wedding ceremony. Traditionally the groom steals the bride from her family early in the morning and takes her to his family home where the celebrations begin. Daniels mom had set up an outdoor area of high tops under umbrella’s. The ladies had made a huge amount of food. There was fridges filled with drinks. She had hired a group of musicians who came and played music for 4 hours while the celebrations took place. It was a time of celebration. Everyone enjoyed themselves.
Moving on from the home party we headed to the valley of the mountains where the actual reception would take place. We opted to get dressed there, which in hindsight was probably a mistake. The temps were 103F and there was no air conditioning at the venue, and I was dying just getting strapped into the bustle of my dress. Amy & Daniel had to stand at the entrance to the event and have a photo taken with every single guest. I on the other hand got to hang out with Luka and keep him busy. The evening was wonderful. For the first few hours the guests danced the Horo. There was a short break into contemporary music and then it was back to traditional music. Their groomsman had organized a beautiful fireworks display. The wedding went on until 1am and then we had to drive back to their hometown.
Sunday was a lazy day of rest for everyone. Clean up for the family, but for us we headed to the Park for a beer and downtime. Monday was Luka’s baptism in their family church. Tradition has it that the godfather is the one who presents the baby to the priest, so Zlatko was the person to hold Luka, in his good mood and in his tears. The ceremony was interesting although I did not understand a word of it, but he was anointed with oil and had 3 strands of hair cut and he was dipped in the font of water. He was not too happy with the last part.
Tuesday we began our road trip. We headed to Ohrid via Tikvas Winery. We did a tour, and then stopped for a lunch of meats, cheeses, and salads and of course a bottle of very nice wine.
The drive to Ohrid was through some beautiful mountain scenery.
Ohrid is a lake town. On the other side of the lake are the shores to Albania in certain places. Our hotel was 5 minutes from the town area and we were able to walk along the promenade to the city area. Exploring the downtown area was interesting, walking the town was tiring. Lots of ups and downs, and some straight up’s and steps galore, all different shapes and sizes.
Sunset from the promenade was beautiful and at the tip of the land is the beautiful Church of St John the theologian, something that we would visit in our three day stay.
Wednesday we headed down towards the town of Naum and very close to the Albanian Border. Three quarters of the way down we visited a place called the Bay of Bones. The is an authentic reconstruction of the pile dwelling settlement. It was very interesting to visit, and I took a lot of photo’s of the living style.
From there we headed to the campgrounds at Ljubanishta Beach where we were able to swim in the lake setting below the gorgeous hills. The water was chilly but the day was hot, and I waded in to cool down. We spent a couple of hours there before heading further down the road.
While the Monastery at St Naum was extremely beautiful, I found the walk to the monastery very commercial and a little disappointing. This was an active monastery and so I was expecting more solitude and a time of reflection, not a busy restaurant, a hectic beach and a road full of souvenir sellers. That said the design of the church, and the architecture is stunning and I want to spend some time reading up on the different styles of building over the centuries. The monestary is just a short way away was the Albanian border, but we did not cross it.
On our full second day in Ohrid, we planned to visit the city. I had made a list of 18 places to visit. Some we had done the day before but some I still had to do. We literally walked the town starting out at the Church of St John the Theologian, then heading up to Samoil’s Fortress, then down to the ancient Macedonian theatre, passed the Church of St Sophia, and back into the city. Now that may not sound like a lot but it was a good 4 hours of walking along boardwalks, climbing steps, meandering pathways, and climbing sheer hills to get to the fort. Coming back down had me thanking God, that we had not chosen to go up that way because the road was a steep downhill to the bottom, which meant it would have been a steep uphill to the top. The ladies went back into town to do some shopping in the afternoon. Dinner was an interesting affair. Since Amy, Richard, Luka and I were ready, we walked into town arriving at our restaurant just before the rain started. The rest were behind and got stuck at the hotel we were staying in. The rain was crazy and we ended up feeling like we had just been hit by a freak tropical storm. The wind ripped off the awning, turned over chairs, and tables, there was broken plates and glassware on the floor. Everyone had rushed to the back of the restaurant and the rain was coming in sideways and we were being hit with hail. What an experience. Suffice to say we had dinner there because we were stuck until the water on the road subsided and the rest of the group had dinner at the hotel.
Friday was our day to leave and we detoured through Struga on our way out. Another pretty lake town at the top end of the lake. It had a very attractive river walk. It was fun to see people swimming in the river and diving off the bridges. In one place there was a young guy canoeing in the river.
As we ventured more into the town of Struga we came across an umbrella walkway. After lunch, we began the next leg of our journey through the mountains to the House of the Miyaks in Mavrovo. The house is built in the style of Miyak construction which is stunning. The staff were impeccable and accommodating and that went a long way to a very enjoyable overnight stay. This was down time from the hectic trip. Other than visiting the monastery there was nothing else to do.
The active Bigorski Monastery St John the Baptist was set up on the mountainside higher than the House of the Miyaks. It is a a Byzantine monastery originally built in 1020, it was partially destroyed by fire in 2009. Work began in 2010 to restore the buildings as close to their original style as possible. We had access to walk through the monastery but we were not able to take photo’s in the sanctuary. However, I will say that the paintings on the wall were stunning and I really wish I could have taken them. This was truly one of my favorite parts of the visit. More about this monastery later.
Saturday, and we are in the last stretch. Leaving the monastery we visited another favorite, the Sunken Church called the Old Mavrovo Church. Originally known as the St Nicholas Church, this church served the village of Mavrovo. However around 1952, the government built a hydroelectric power station and an artificial lake and the church got submerged under water. I had seen numerous pictures, some of the with the water to the roof, some with water halfway up the building. It so happened that the day we visited the water level was low and we were able to walk inside the damaged church.
Moving on from the Sunken Church we headed to Matka Gorge. This was a must on Richard list. The gorge is beautiful. Getting there a little more difficult. The Gorge is situated just outside of the capital Skopje. Arriving there you quickly realized that there was chaos with regards to parking and no clear direction on which way to go to get to the various areas of the gorge. However, once we got our direction correct, we made our way to where we could catch a ferry boat that would take us into the gorge. We decided to stop and have a bite to eat at what was an expensive restaurant. Another interesting experience was the toilet situation. I have seen some interesting toilets in my lifetime, but never have I experienced an eastern toilet on a hot sticky day wearing jeans and needing desperately to use the bathroom. Some gymnastics came into play during that experience.
The boat trip took us deep into the gorge where we were able to go into a cave to view stalagmites and stalactites. I am not a cave person. I find them claustrophobic. I went down the first flight of steps and up the second flight and then I turned around and left. I managed to get enough images to satisfy me. That aside, I could climb up and down those uneven steps without someone hovering behind me as I exited the cave and made my way back down to the boat.
The last stop of our trip was the capital Skopje. Very much a city Skopje seems to have two sides outside of the suburbs. Our hotel was situated on the main square of the city, and so we had easy access to both sides. There is the more modern side of the square, and if you crossed the stone bridge, you came to old town Skopje. This is made up of narrow streets of shops and restaurants. Beyond that is the bazaar which we walked through. It had a huge food market and I bought some kerrie (or as I know it curry). There curry is very different to the South African curry, both in color and spices. South African curry is typically hot while the Macedonia curry was flavorful but not hot and spicy.
We decided in the late morning we would head up to the Millennium Cross that over looks the city of Skopje. Getting up to it was by cable car. Once at the top we were able to walk around, and then sit and have a beer. When we went down, we picnicked in the gardens for a short while before heading back to the hotel. I have to be honest that by Monday afternoon I was tired. My feet ached and all I wanted to do was take a siesta. We chilled while Luka was sleeping and when he woke up at 7pm, we headed out to find some food.
Walking back to the hotel after a very pleasant dinner at Gino’s, we were able to see the square all lit up in the Macedonian colors. It was very pretty and I am glad that we were out late enough to see that.

Macedonia was a beautiful experience that we may never have done if it was not for Amy and Daniel asking us to go with. I am grateful that we got to meet Daniel’s mom, brother and sister in law, and their daughter, as well as extended family on both his mothers and father’s side, his groomsmen and friends. We also got to experience some of his culture and understand Daniel a little better. Added to that we got to see a fair bit of the countryside. Hopefully Daniels mother will be able to come out later this year and we will be able to reciprocate the hospitality. Today I get to try to make two different macedonian dishes, kebapi and borek.

Travel rounds out your understanding of the world and life as it is lived by others. It gives you a better sense of knowledge and helps you to be more tolerant of different ways of life. Travel broadens your horizons and gives gives you the opportunity to meet new people, taste new foods, and drink new drinks. Travel is something I wish I could do more often. Next on the list is a visit to family, part of my family history and a place we have always wanted to visit, Australia.

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 Douglas 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_travel

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: June 2022: Light

Well this month has passed and I have done one walk. I have struggled to get out on my free day as I have had Luka and for the past 6 weeks he has been sick. Last weekend when I did plan to go out, I ended up with him spending 3 days in our home. Amy had bronchitis and she did not feel at all well, Daniel was working night shift, and honestly we did not want Luka to catch something else. As it was I took him to the doctor for a check up on his cough and discovered he had another ear infection, and subsequently received another antibiotic. Poor guy spent a good bit of time in my arms.

So I looked through what I had not edited this past year and pulled images for light from there.

This image caught my attention because of the bokeh and the light shining through the wings. This poor Anhinga has clearly had a run in with something, probably an aligator, given the loss of feather. I have to wonder how it is flying to be honest.

Whenever I go to shoot the sunset, I always take my lensbaby, but for some reason I never pull it out. This was one of the light images that I had not edited 2 months ago. This is my favorite spot to get some nice pond reflections. What I like about this image is the reflection of the son on the leaves of the reeds.

Out in the garden and just after the rain. The light was dullish but I was able to capture the waterdrop at the tip of the leaf.

Out on my walk recently I spotted this Iguana in pockets of light. He was on a berm surrounded by trees and there are odd spots that get lit up along the edges. The Iguanas are in mating season and this guy clearly has been fighting as he has a bloody spot on his back that looks like a claw snagged him.

Sunsets are my favorite and sometimes they are average and sometimes they light up the sky. I loved the different shades of light in this image.

Moody kind of light found along a secluded walkway. This are my favorite kinds of images.

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 from @wiredtothemoon 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 pages. Definitely check out her incredible art.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_light

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: September 2021: Quote

Can you believe it is September? A few more weeks and life is going to change again. I will go from being a parent to a grandparent. It is so exciting and a little stressful as well. Having a baby during covid makes my heart beat a little faster.

With all this going on there has not been a lot of photography done. This year has run me down to be honest. But we did try to get a 2 day away in before the baby comes along and Richard and I traveled up to St Augustine. A place we used to visit regularly but have not been for a few years. We did take a detour last year on the way to Georgia and it was so busy we kind of by passed and went away from the historic district.

It turns out that this month Lynne chose a quote and it work perfectly with our St Augustine trip.

“My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport”

— Steve McCurry

We love to travel. We have been doing the odd get away. Richard has been a little nervous taking his vacation because he doesn’t know whether he will need his vacation. I on the other hand am conscious that I still have 3 weeks vacation to take.

So we hit the road and 4.5 hours later we booked into a quaint little Bed and Breakfast right in the historic district of St Augustine. It was a 5 second walk to the main street and all the restaurants. A 10 minute walk to the cruise. This trip we did something different, something that we have never done in St Augustine. We took in the winery, the distillery and the brewery. And that was all before lunch. Oops, I needed food. Seriously though, they only give you tiny little glasses which are half full. But if you are heading to St Augustine I would recommend you check them out.

Richard loves the sunset cruises and so that was our goal for the first evening. We quickly grabbed dinner at Harry’s and then headed down to the quay to wait on the cruise. The weather was iffy to be honest and I was not optimistic that I would get anything worth while but I did manage capture a few images I was happy with.

When I looked at this picture I thought that Richard looked like he had been out in the sun all day. This is one of the side effects of the immunotherapy. His skin turns really red. The other side effect is that he gets a very itchy rash.

The boat trip was just a intracoastal trip and not out to sea, but I do enjoy seeing the under carriage of different bridges and this was was not too bad.

The company on the cruise was quite fun, and very chatty which made the slow moving boat a lot more interesting, and I managed to get a few sunset images as well.

We were fortunate that we made it back to land dry and we were able to get back to the guest house and to relax.

Day 2 was a marathon of walking. This was our booze walk, if you can call it that. We headed up through Flagler college, which is an incredibly beautiful university in St Augustine. This was the first time I had actually walked through the college.

On the far side of the buildings grounds, there is a fence that looks like it has been made out of old cannon balls. St Augustine’s history is that this is the oldest city in Florida, originally Spanish founded and occupied in 1565. St Augustine has a really interesting fort that you can visit. Richard would try and find a bit of shade while waiting for me. Me on the other hand was just distracted by all there is to photograph.

With it’s history, St Augustine is well known for it cemeteries and we passed one I had not seen before. Just to the side of the bench I see a little squirrel digging deeply for it food.

Our first stop was San Sebastian winery. They gave us a tiny tasting glass and we made our way around tasting wines at various stations. Some I liked and some I didn’t. We each have our own palate. What I did walk away with was a really smooth bottle of sherry. We also decided to buy some cheese and crackers and have our own little cheese and wine evening in the gardens of our Bed and Breakfast.

Next stop was the St Augustine Distillery where we got to taste, gin, rum, vodka and bourbon. I am a rum person and it was pretty good. The distillery has an eating place upstairs but we had one more stop before we planned to eat, so it was back to walking again until we arrived at Dog Rose Brewing Co.

I am also a beer person, but I tend to stick to something like Heineken, whereas Richard likes IPA. So he is at home at these different brewing companies and I find myself really restricted. When we were in Naples I discovered that a larger kind of works for me, and so I asked to taste a larger at Dog Rose Brewing Co, and I was not disappointed. In fact, after all that walking the first beer went down super fast and the second I took my time.

Last stop was a lunch garden before heading back to put our feet up and relax and catch up on the highlights of the Tour de France.

St Augustine is a great place to visit if you are looking for history. There is so many different areas to seek out that we did not visit this time around. It is definitely worth stopping at if you are heading to Florida.

Just a reminder if you are hitting Florida, remember the suntan lotion and a big floppy hat. It is hot here and you want to take care not to get seriously burned. Richard is dealing with the results of plenty of sun and not enough sunscreen. Melanoma is not something to play with.

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 Lynne of Lynne Grant Photography is 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 page or Instagram page. Definitely take some time to check her out.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_summersun.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

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: February 2021: Silver Lining

There are so many {Silver Linings} when I look back over the past year. Sure Covid is the pits. Wearing a mask is not fun. Not being able to hang out with your friends is super disappointing. However, slowing down has been good. Working from home even better. Not having to wake up early and drive an hour to get to work, is probably the best for me. But how do I put those into photographs?

Another {Silver Lining} is being available for the kids. Amy finally sold her condo (that is another whole story of delays and ridiculous events) but in preparation for the sale, they moved in with us, along with Snow and Rory, their two rescue cats. We are now a house of 4 adults, 4 rescue cats who don’t always see eye to eye. and one rescue bird that screeches all day. That said, it is good having them here. Richard has not been well the past 2 months and so it is another two people to talk to him, and help me to remember to not get stressed out and ask to many questions. Cameron was a silver lining when it came to moving Amy’s contents of her apartment to storage. He traveled 2 hours to come and help move furniture and was a tremendous support to us. Richard was just not up to moving heavy furniture

There are so many little things, but I was challenged a little bit on how to capture them all. In Florida, during covid, you are still able to go to the beach. While I am not actively going to the beach in the day time, I have been when there are limited people there. Amy told me that she was going to the beach one evening to do yoga and watch the Wolf Moon come up. I managed to convince Richard to go to a different beach to do the same. Here was my {Silver Lining}. The beach is open for us. In the evening there is not too many people. While the whole of the USA above Florida feels like the artic tundra, we could still go to the beach. The second part of the {Silver Lining} is that my theme for 52 Frames was Horizon, and the credit was for breaking the rule. I was really looking forward to the moon rising over the ocean.

So I talked Richard into going. He tried to talk me into going to watch the sunset. But no, the moon had it’s appeal. So I packed some cheese and crackers and a small container of wine, and headed off to meet him at work. From there we drove down to the beach.

Let’s talk about love. It is freezing cold, the wind is blowing, Richard hates, hates, hates the cold, and here he is sitting on the beach so that I am not there alone at night. Got to love the commitment here. We got there a little early and found a V in the sand dunes and huddled back in there to try and stay out of the wind. Below is my take on {Silver Lining}, a blustery day at the beach.

There were not too many people on the beach. I could probably count them on one hand. I am sure most of them had the same idea as I did. We all wanted to watch the giant moon come up over the ocean. While I was hanging out I took my 52 Frames image below.

Unfortunately, this was our view. The clouds formation just got bigger and bigger, and so we could not see the moon coming up to start with, and just when I got a glimpse of it emerging another cloud came over. I finally sent Richard back to the car, and waited another 10 minutes to no avail before I called it quits.

The plus side in all of this was I did manage to get one image of the sunset, which I will add looked beautiful driving home.

When I finally got home, I hung out in the driveway until the moon cleared and I was able to get an image of the full moon, before the clouds moved back across to cover it up. Just an aside, the moon reminds me of an orange. I have noticed this before when I have taken photos that there is this circle towards the right hand side, and then what appears to be lines of some sort spanning out from that circle. I have to wonder what that really is, besides my imagination.

I will confess that it was good to be home and inside out of the wind. That started a week of cold weather. The last couple of days have been windy and cold. Cold for this African born South Floridian. Today my fingers were like icicles. Not cold relative to what is happening up north though I am sure, and my heart goes out to all that are experiencing the snow and freezing cold weather.

I hope that you enjoy the {Silver Lining} theme. This is a circle blog and as I mentioned, we have some very talented ladies in the group. Take some time to follow the links and see what they have for you this month. My incredibly artistic friend Lynne of Lynne Grant 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_silverlining

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

30 Minutes in the Life: January 2021: Sunset

So, January is practically over. It has been a tumultuous start to the year, just when I thought things were going to be better for all of us. Some days I just need to get away from it all. For the most part I am hibernating in my office working fortunately. Aside from the virus, and the political stuff, my daughter and her husband packed up their apartment in preparation for it being sold, and along with their 2 cats, moved into our house. So we are a family of 4 adults, 4 cats and 1 bird. My Ms Moo is not a happy cat right now. She is scared of her shadow and now Amy’s two cats are stalking her. She is in hiding most of the time. Snow has also taking to staring down the bird.

In addition, I joined 52 Frames. So this is my 4th project 52 for the year. I feel like my goal so far is to get out and take the photo’s I need for each week. This weeks theme was water. There is a great pond up at the national park that I love to take photos at. So Thursday evening I packed up 5 lens (17-40 mm, 28-135 mm, 70-300 mm, 150-600 mm & Lensbaby Sweet 135) and I headed up to the park to check out the owl, take photo’s of the pond and watch the sunset. While our property backs up to the edge of the Everglades there is no access into the area from our home. We are also separated by two small canals.

In the end my 52 Frames image was taken at the sunset and I will post it here as it is the only image in black and white.

The owl was high up in the tree so it is really hard to see him that well. The female is in the nest and she seems to sit behind the main part of the tree. This was the best I could get of him.

It always fascinates me how the the setting sun changes so much. I started out at the pond and the light was this golden brown color.

I headed down to the water line at the edge of the Everglades and I really did not think this was going to be a great evening. The cloud was thick and low and I was not going to bet the full sun. It felt dark and sort of dingy for a sunset. I also did not realize that I had moved my FStop to 9. Obviously I must have done it up near the owl. I started out with the Lensbaby Sweet 35. One of my P52’s is to use the Lensbaby Optics that are taking up space in my lens drawer.

Lensbay Sweet 35
Lensbaby Sweet 35

From here on out it was a case of changing lens to get wide angle, a bit closer, much closer and super close. One of my favorite things that typically happen at sunset is the birds flying by. Quite often, although it did not happen this evening, you get to watch the murmuration of the grackles and that is a beautiful dance in the sky. Below is a flock of Ibis flying by.

28-135 mm
Lensbaby Sweet 35

People aside, we often get a number of different species, below is the Great Blue Heron.

150-600 mm

Fly by’s happen fast and you have to keep watching. Below is a larger flock of Ibis, all heading south. I would love to know where that land up each evening. I have no idea what bird is in the second image below, but chances are it was a slow moving Ibis.

70-300 mm
70-300 mm
70-300 mm
28-135 mm
28-135 mm

Grackles will fly into the area in the hundreds. On Thursday there were not that many but I was so glad I had brought up with beast with me to get in super close.

150-600 mm
150-600 mm

What was pretty neat was that the Grackles on the edge of the water were taking a bath at sunset. Hence the first image and the water drops.

150-600 mm

As the sun got lower the sky got more reddish orange and really intense.

70-300 mm

More Ibis below as the sun is setting. From the silhouette, the birds in the second image look like a flock of cattle egret.

70-300 mm
70-300 mm

At this point I kind of figured the sun was done, and the mosquito were going to be out shortly, so I headed back to my car. I could not resist turning around to take a silhouette.

28-135 mm

Halfway done the ramp, I discovered my friend walking up. She told me not to leave, she wanted to talk to me, and she convinced me that the final rays would get better. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. This time it certainly did. The sky lit up and I was so glad that she told me to stay.

28-135 mm
28-135 mm
17-40 mm

Nothing like kayaking at sunset in a alligator infested water. Oh yes, there are often alligators swimming in the water.

17-40 mm

Finally the mosquito’s got to much for us and we headed back to the car. I managed to capture the last silhouette before diving into my car, with a couple of mosquito for company. Nothing like being bitten all the way home.

70-300 mm

The Florida Everglades is a grassy, slow moving river, a natural marshland, which is habitat to hundreds of animals. There are various different different areas to the Everglades. There are the mangroves at the coast, the sawgrass marshlands and the pine flatwoods. You will find endangered species like manatee, American crocodile, and the Florida Panther.

This particular park, that I go to, has walking trails, and it would not be uncommon to have an alligator cross the trail in front of you. I recently saw Turkey Vulture eating a dead animal. There is a lot of birdlife if you get out and walk, and the owls have come in to nest. Two weeks ago there was a pair of mating Sandhill Cranes. There are also Bobcat in the park.

The walking in the area is great. I managed to get out and do a two mile walk but I was constantly watching for Alligator on the edge of the banks. I didn’t see Alligator but I did see a great big iguana. Unlike the wetlands, here we are on the same level as the Alligator.

When the bushes behind out house were cut short we used to be able to see the deer running along the edge of the Everglades past our home.

The park is great for walking, however, my this is by far my favorite spot to go and watch the sunset.

Thank you for joining me for 30 Minutes in the Life. I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend Stacy of Threadbarems. You will definitely love what she shares. I am always inspired with what she has to offer.

Sunsets are my favorite time of day: December 2020

Mornings are not my time of day. I will confess that I am a night owl. I read late, and hate to wake up. The whole change in our lives, as a result of Covid, has saved me a 1 hour work drive. That means 1 hour extra of sleep time. Now if I could just get the cats on board with my story I would be over the moon. No they want their food at 6am. Seriously Dudes!!

However on the flip side I love the evenings, especially now in the winter time zone. It gets darker earlier, so I don’t feel like half my evening time is gone by the time I have got my photographs and got back home.

Recently I got a message from a friend saying that she was heading out to Loxahatchee Everglades National Park to watch the sunset, so I decided to join her. It’s always nice when there are a few other people around as it can get quite lonely when it is dark.

I always stop at at pond first to see what is happening, and whether I feel like I will get a decent image across the water, before heading up to the canal that edges the slow moving river that floats through the Florida Everglades

While chatting to my friends, I spotted a local gator hanging out in the water. This guy will come out to play a little later on.

One of my favorite things to watch is the murmurations of the Grackle as they head to the national park in the evening. some evenings there are hundreds of them flying across the sky. It is such a beautiful sight to see and such a musical dance in the sky.

We also get the single fly by’s. You will hear someone say “bird” and all camera’s go up to capture the bird, This night we had a few random birds fly by.

I had taken a couple of different lens with me and this is my wide angle. I just loved the swirls of the clouds.

As I mentioned earlier this alligator would appear again. It was moseying along the water when I spotted it in the sunlight. Suddenly it started swimming a bit faster and changed direction. It was swimming towards the reeds. On the edge of the reeds swimming obliviously along were two Moorhens, squawking like they normally do. Then very next thing we heard was a loud squawk and one Moorhen flew into the bushes and the other walked on water. A little fast for me to capture it as well as I would have liked to.

Walking back to the car I happened to turn around and found the perfect silhouette of the night. Watching the sunset is a great way to spend a bit of time.

Thanks for stopping by. If you don’t do it often, now is the time with the social distancing to just be quiet. To go to places where few others go. To enjoy the beauty of our creation.

Please continue to stay safe, healthy and keeping a low profile. This too shall pass. If I do not blog again before Christmas. Please have a wonderful festive season even if it is just a small group. Fortunately for us we have no family in the US and so celebrating in a small group is not unusual. If you are not celebrating Christmas but rather something else, I hope you have a blessed time.

Look out for another post at the end of the month, if not before.

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tell me a story: August 2020

This does not happen very often but there is the occasional times in the year when both 30 Minutes in the Life and Tell me a Story go live on the same day and at the same time. In the 30 Minutes in the Life I shared Day 1 in Key West. In this blog I will share day 2.

As I said in the other blog we decided to head to Key West for the weekend. At some point you get tired of not seeing anyone, not doing anything other than working at home and not going anywhere. For Rich and I traveling is something we are trying to do more of and so to be stuck at home has been challenging especially for Rich.

We booked into a local hotel overlooking the harbor area and it turned out to have the perfect view. It also had a great swimming pool that we were able t cool down at, given that the summer heat in South Florida is so oppressive. I spent about 2 hours in the pool chatting with the 4 other guests escaping the heat. I love Key West with it’s authentic buildings and quirky well know stories. Key West has so much character and here are a few of them buildings that share it.

Day 2 saw I head into the town area. I was on a mission to find Mango Body Wash. The hotel had it in it’s showers and oh my it was so good. Rich wanted some T-shirts and I was also hoping to find some bath bombs that I had found in the hotel as well. I found the mango bath wash, he got is shirts but I bombed out on the bath bombs.

Roosters, hens and chickens are a common sight wandering around Key West. Six toed cats is another interesting view in Key West. It was sad to see the iconic Sloppy Joe’s closed. However, it did seem that it was temporary.

After doing the necessary shopping, we decided to head to the local Key West First Legal Rum Distillery for a free tour. If you are in Key West check it out. The tour is about 15 minutes and it is just a small warm area that you walk through. It’s awesome that they have ceiling fans to cool you down.

Step 1 tells us that they use Florida sugar cane in crystal form from the juice to create a unique flavor that allows us to drink a clean, clear and flavorful Legal Rum.

Step to the Tanks 1, 2, 3, 4 are where the cooking beings. This is their recipe buried beneath the floor with all the old bottles. The bubbles are the yeast breathing as it eats sugar and turns it into alcohol. The more vibration the more production, so they play music at night to keep the yeast moving.

Step 3 tells us that the brown wash that comes from the fermentation tanks, has the alcohol “stripped ” out of it. It’s like a magic trick, first it’s brown, now it is clear. All alcohol comes out of a still clear

Step 4 tells us that now that they have the stripped alcohol, they will distill it again 6 times. Why? They want the Legal Rum to come out in a lower proof so that it has flavors butterscotch, banana, and hints of vanilla. It says they also don’t want to give us a hangover, so all impurities are taken out.

Step 5 tells us that High Proof Legal Rum goes into the Chefs pot, travels through the copper which is filled with carbon activated charcoal. Rum should be warm in your chest, not burn your tongue.

We had the opportunity to taste raw rum and to do some rum tasting. I tried Coconut Rum and Key Lime Rum and Raw Rum. My favorite even though I typically like Coconut Rum, was the Raw Rum, and we left with a bottle of Raw Rum and some sampler Rums.

If you want something interesting to do on a hot day in Key West definitely check out the Key West First Legal Rum Distillery.

Beyond that we meandered along the wharf taking in the ships and views along with the opportunity to check out a healthy school of tarpon. We stopped for a cooling beer and watch the tiki boats heading out again.

Lastly Key West is always my favorite place for sunsets. Like I said in the other blog that I was disappointed not to be heading out on a boat but at the same time I did not want to be among the crowds. The sunset did not disappoint.

Key West Harbor from the Marker Hotel

Being Key West refreshed me for the next few months. We have at least one more travel trip this year unless Covid puts a stop to that. I have found a cabin in the woods in Georgia. We are hoping that we will get to see the changing colors in the mountains.

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: august 2020: refresh

Can you believe it is August already. Seriously this has been a year that has been long but has flown. In a weeks time, I will have been working from home for 5 months. 5 months of really doing very little outside of work .

I want to start out by saying that my heart breaks for the people of Beirut, Lebanon. For families who have lost loved one, for men, women and children who have been seriously injured, for the loss of home, livelihood, and infrastructure. I watched the explosion with horror. My first thought was for my childhood friend, and adopted brother, who lives in Lebanon, just 35km away from Beirut. Thankfully he is safe, but so many are not. My prayer is that the world will step up and lend a helping hand to a struggling country that faces a long and arduous recovery.

This months theme for Share Six is {Refresh}. There are some days that I really need this in my life. I have a couple of ways of refreshing but right now everything is closed. I love to walk in the wetlands, but first they were shut after winter for renovations, and now they are closed for Covid. I am sure those birds have been seriously happy not to have a thousand camera toting spectators visiting the park.

The beaches are open, but I have been too lazy to get up at 6am in the morning to go to the beach to watch the sunrise. Other times Richard will go after the sunrise but before I think it is normal to wake up on a day I can sleep in.

Another {Refresh} thought was to do a 2 day trip to Key West. The down side is that it is hot and there is a mask mandate. I was not overly keen on that. The upside is there is a lot less people down there because of all the restrictions.

Then Richard tested positive for Corona Virus. He had no symptoms. He did a second test 4 days later and tested negative. So now we are not sure whether whether he was positive or negative. Now we are waiting for the results from the antibody test. In the meantime, while neither of us have had any symptoms of the virus, we quarantined as a precaution. For me this is just a good reminder that a lot of people are asymptomatic. We do not know that they are infected. We can take precautions to prevent infection, and if one is infected in your home, the precautions you have to take to prevent the rest of the household being infected are not fun. Wear the mask, wash your hands, disinfect, sanitize. Do you know how many times a person touches a door knob. Seriously, I felt like I was walking behind him cleaning in his wake.

I have another way to {Refresh} and that is to go for a massage. But my massage therapist has been off for surgery and recovery and I am really particular about who my massage therapist is. So that has not happened.

In lieu of a massage there is another way to {Refresh} and that is right at home. An evening in the Jacuzzi tub with the jets on high is definitely a favorite. So here are a few (more than 6) images (past and present) from some refreshing time.

Quiet time at the bar while the Jacuzzi warms up a little bit more, laid back music playing and definitely looking forward to getting into the water.
I love that time in the Jacuzzi starts while the sun is still up and then as it gets darker we are able to change the colors of the water. Unfortunately with the storm going through we are still dealing with wet weather and it was raining while I shot some of the tub images, so no colors.
I love the jets and the bubbles and they are normally on full. It’s a small imitation of a massage.
I enjoy watching the movement of the bubbles.
Little shapes dancing across the surface of the water.
Bubbles in motion, that tickle your nose as you sink lower in the water.
Kind of like a giant bubble bath

When we are lucky we are treated to some of the most spectacular sunsets. Nothing nicer than refreshing in the Jacuzzi tub and watching the sun set. While not every sunset is awesome, here are a few that were for me. The simple pleasures in life that can be found right at your back door.

The best part about this kind of refreshing evening, there’s not too many dishes to clean up in the morning.

I am grateful that we can relax and refresh. These days are not easy. It is frustrating that we don’t have the freedom to just get up and go do the things we want to do. There is so much going on around the world. Heartbreaking situations. But this is life. Life can make or break us. I choose to rather deal with it than to let it break me. I keep trying to look for those moments of joy and positivity. I hope that you can find ways to refresh during these challenging days.

The key to being Happy is knowing you have the power to choose what to accept and what to let go

~ Dodinsky

Thank you for joining me for this month’s Share Six blog post.  This is a circle blog.  The sneak peaks that are shared are stunning.  The challenges always stretch us just a little bit further. I blog with an incredibly talented group of ladies.  Please take time to visit my friend and very talented artist who always amazes me with her images Ceri of Ceri Herd Photography to see what she has for you this month. To view 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_refresh