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.

Share Six: December 2021: Autumnal

This month’s theme was chosen by Ceri Herd Photography and the theme is {Autumnal}. South Florida does not really see much in the line of autumn unless I go looking for dead leaves. I heard someone say we are having our third quarter of summer. It sure feels like it most of the time.

However, we headed ever so slightly north to Tampa just before Thanksgiving. I was not expecting to see much change in color, but we have had a few days of cold. It’s about a 5 hour trip for us from east to west and then north, and we detoured to the South African shop, to get some loved snacks to have at our destination.

I always go with a long list of things to do and we always par it down to the time frame we have. But it is good to have options. Tuesdays post, I shared our time at the Salvador Dali museum, a very interesting place to visit if you like interesting architecture, and some incredible artwork. I am a big fan of Dali’s abstract art.

Another item on my list was to head to a wine farm I had found just out of town. It was called Keel & Curley Winery, and from what I understand they made all their wines and beers on the property. So off we went, and 45 minutes later we headed into what may be called “country” living and finally arrived at the farm.

It was a quaint, farmhouse, turned into a tasting room, and beyond that gardens to meander through. Since tasting only started at 12pm, we took a walk through the gardens. Much to my surprise I found some {Autumnal} color, perfect for this months theme.

From the tasting room we headed outside to a large covered patio, nestled against the small dam. Growing on the edges of the dam were these beautiful colored trees. Beyond the dam was a covered outdoor private gazebo, where a wedding was taking place.

Beyond the gazebo, was rows of grape bushes, which leant to the feel of autumn. Keel and Curley Wine Farm make their own wines using blueberries. They produce 3 types of blueberry wines. They have a variety of fusion wines.

We meandered around the farm yard, past the animals, towards the blueberry plants. A slight drizzle had us do a u-turn and head back to the tasting room.

Also produced at the farm are their own beers and ciders, and this is where we landed. Richard and Amy like IPA’s, I like a larger, simply because I do not like fruit in my beer. Daniel picked a different beer. I have to say the beer was excellent and we did go back for seconds. Along with that we also shared a couple of flatbreads. Through all of this Luka was on his best behavior and we did not hear a peep out of him, until his bottle was needed.

We left the farm with a bottle of wine, and I bought a Pina Colada mix, which I hope will par well with some good old rum.

If you are looking for a fun outing in the Tampa area, look up Keel and Curley Winery and take that short drive out of town and enjoy some time there, you will not regret it.

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 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 check out her incredible art.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_autumnal

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Tell me a Story: November 2021

I thought I had one more day to get my blog done, but apparently not, Tell me a Story goes live in the morning. Family vacations are fun, and one of the things I wanted to do while we were in Tampa, South Florida, was to head to the Salvador Dali museum. I honesty did not see it happening, but Amy said she was keen to go, and Kathryn wanted to go as well, so we made a trip of it.

I love Dali’s artwork that goes without saying, but what I had seen from researching the venue was the incredible architecture of the building. I could not wait to get inside and see what there was to see.

Just a heads up if you are visiting, and plan to take photographs. Limit yourself to your camera and 1 lens. They do not allow backpacks in the premises. You have to leave them in your car, or put them in a locker. I understand they are worried about things going missing but to be honest the artwork was not going to fit into my camera bag, and I was not happy that I was expected to leave a $800 camera lens in the car. Fortunately Amy had a diaper bag and I could leave my lens inside there but remember that if you are visiting.

Immediately I am so impressed with the structure of the building, and the lattice type effect of the huge dome window. The internal staircase was amazing. What you are seeing above is the tip of the staircase

Amy and Luka in front of this interesting outlook
The central staircase going from the lower to the upper floor.

The sign next to the cracked effect of the window said the following: “Photographer Lee Miller broke boundaries of convention, technique and decorum to help shape the understanding of our own human possibilities. Our enigma glass is “broken” in her honor. How might you break boundaries?

Salvador Dali was born in Figueres, Spain in 1904, and lived both in Spain and in the USA. I have always know Dali for his abstract work, and love his art, but I did not know that he also was influenced by the Impressionist era as seen above, and at a later stage Catholicism. Below are two of my favorite abstracts.

Daddy Longlegs of the evening – Hope!
Fantasies Diurnes

The above image was titled “Portrait of my dead brother”. What fascinated me is how he created the image using dots and such interesting shapes. From what I read Dali had hope that the mysteries of religion would be revealed through physics and molecular biology. This image is one of the large canvases that he created. To see this in full size is incredible.

Below is a stunning image of a Woman looking out on a sunny day. The title to the artwork says the following ” Gala contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at Twenty Meters becomes the portrait of Abraham Lincoln – Homage to Rothko (Second Version). When I look at the image in a small version I see Abraham Lincoln perfectly. When I look at this image I see Gala contemplating the Mediterranean Sea.

Below are two more abstract paintings that appealed to me. The first image is titled “Oeufs sur le Plat sans le Plat” (Eggs on the plate without the plate). The second is titled “Enchanted Beach with Three Fluid Graces. That particular painting really appeals to me.

As I mentioned earlier Dali was influenced by Catholicism, and the was apparent in some of his images. Below the image is titled “Galacidalacidesoxiribunucleicacid” (Homage to Crick and Watson).

Below this image is titled “The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.

There are so many more images and I did not do justice to his famous image “The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory. Go look it up – it is a stunning piece in my mind, and often reminds me of the Pink Floyd some “Time”.

Below I spent some time looking at different angles of this incredible structure before we headed outside to view the Garden.

Kathryn and Cody

I loved the different angles and shapes and reflections I could see in each setting. The dome type effect just fascinated me.

Kathryn and Cody at the famous representation of the Dali mustache.

The artwork above was titled “Christ of St. John of the Cross”.

Amy taking a break at the clock bench.
A tiny bird with a Dali mustache.

The we were back inside at the base of the staircase and I managed to get these last two images before we headed out. I love spiraling staircases and the effect that this had was amazing.

Lastly we snapped a shot of Cody in the gardens. Kathryn struggles with serious arthritis, and Cody is her service dog. He does an amazing job of being there for her to help her along the way. A silent disease like arthritis sometimes has people looking at you and asking what is wrong, why do you need a service dog, why do you need a wheelchair? Like many others Kathryn has good days and bad days, and we are grateful that Cody is there to assist her.

If you are heading to the Tampa area in South Florida, I would encourage you to take some time to visit the museum. Just remember no backpacks, or you are going to be as unhappy as I was heading in.

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 Arthur of Lupji Photography is up next. I look forward to reading what he has to share.

Share Six: November 2021: transform

Can you believe it is November? It has been a long, weary year and I, for one, am glad it is nearly over. I am starting out praying that 2022 is going to be a better a year.

When I arrived home this evening I had an idea how my blog was going to go and yet when I sat down to edit my photo’s, my mind went in a completely different direction.

In my mind I could hear Barbara Streisand’s voice. She has the most dramatic and engaging voice and I have always loved how she carries me along in harmony within a beautiful song.

Tonight as I was editing, I could hear the words “Send in the clowns”

Isn’t it rich?
Are we a pair?
Me here at last on the ground
You in mid-air
Send in the clowns

Isn’t it bliss?
Don’t you approve?
One who keeps tearing around
One who can’t move
Where are the clowns?
Send in the clowns

~ Frank Sinatra

If you want to hear Barbara Streisand singing this beautiful song, click here.

While the story behind the song really doesn’t have anything to do with my blog, the clowns do.

Clowns {transform} from a normal human being to someone so incredibly engaging when their faces are painted, their garments are draped across their bodies, the big shoes go on, a breath is taken and the curtain is raised.

I love clowns. I loved them as a child and I love them now. At the circus, the clowns were my favorite. I remember Tickey. He was a tiny little clown and you can see a wee bit of him here as he performs in his tiny tartan kilt. Oh we were so young, and the circus was a favorite place to go. Even today clowns transform for me. They change me from sad to happy. I loved to see their smiling faces looking backing me back then, and I still do today.   I still have have about 30 of them. Mainly small and packed in a box. I had one large clown with a ceramic face that I still have out today. He sits on the cabinet in my office and I am happy to have him in my space.

In fact I was looking for photo’s of my son and came across a photo of his room and a child and it was filled with clowns. Probably a nightmare for any child when I think about it, but clearly my obsession. I wanted bright primary colors. But looking at these photos today I was a little overboard. Polystyrene clowns, fabric clowns, porcelain clowns, hanging clowns, bookend clowns. Okay the nightlight clown was a little creepy at night when it’s red nose shone brightly. If I look closely there was even a clown calendar. Seriously, a lot of clowns. Poor kid, I said “no wonder he is such a comedian today”. Below are my 32 year old photo’s of my clown obsession and Cameron’s bedroom. I noticed my bag was packed and ready to head off to the hospital.

I had a mother in law that was an incredibly talented at sewing toys. If it was sewn, it was by her. My kids had so many stuffed toys. If a glue gun or polystyrene cutter was used, it was me. I also sewed the duvet and curtains. My how times have changed. Luka has a very sedate bedroom compared to the riot of color that Cameron had.

Two weekends ago we happened to go and visit Cameron in a little town in the middle of nowhere Florida, called Lake Placid. And yes it does have gators. This little town is another example of transformation. They took this “I just passed through a town” town with some lakes, and made it into a destination place to visit. The catch, for the tourist, is all the murals you will find on the walls around town. I have shared them in the past, but I never got to see the clown museum. I just took photo’s on the outside of the building this time but perhaps next time I will actually go in. The colors on the outside of the building certainly transform the building and this small portion of the town.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica clowns date back to the times of ancient Greece typically as a secondary character. They were also found in Roman times typically wearing a patchwork robe and a pointy hat. In the latter half of the 16th centaury the Harlequin became famous. He was often found in a black domino and in general his behavior featured slapstick comedy. Clowns were found in the English plays by Shakespeare, and in Germay, traveling English actors introduced clowns to the German society.

In the 17th Centaury, the white faced clown, made his appearance. However, the earliest true clown was Joseph Grimaldi, also affectionately known as “Joey”. He as known for slapstick beatings, tumbling and physical tricks.

Why do clowns wear red noses? According to the web it could be traced back to 3 brothers who became a trio in 1909. Each had their own character and designed face. One of the brothers had a white face and represented a elegant but self-important clown, another took the middle of the road between the two brothers, and the last brother took on dark eyebrows and an overstated face with a red nose. Known as the Auguste clown, this clown is typically a joker and who has overstated features and wearing ill fitting clothes.

I did not know that there are actually master clowns and the 4 well known master clowns are Otto Griebling, Bobby Kaye, and Lou Jacobs and Glen Little. Finally a bit of information I was not aware of – I did wonder if clowns could patent their face but apparently it is very hard to stop another clown from copying their faces, but it is not encouraged. To keep track of all the different clown faces, an artist was hired to paint the faces as a record onto eggs.

For me Cirque Du Soleil is a wonderful big tent adventure. While the acrobatics are out of this world, and I have to say I am super impressed, it’s the clowns that garner the laughter with their antics. I have seen the Beatles Cirque, and last year we saw Alegria. Even in that dramatic show, they had clowns. Apparently Corteo is about the life of clowns – I may need to watch out for that one but right now it is in Norway.

Clowns have the most amazing way of engaging young and old, taking a sad face to one of joy and laughter.

“I think I will be a clown when I get grown” said Dill. “Yes sir, a clown…. there ain’t one thing this world that I can do about folks except laugh, so I’m gonna join the circus and laugh my head off”

“You got it backwards, Dill” said Jem. “Clowns are sad, it’s folks that laugh them.”

“Well, I’m gonna be a new kind of clown. I’m gonna stand in the middle of the ring and laugh at the folks”

~ Harper Lee

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 Elizabeth of It’s Still life Photography by Elizabeth Willson 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 check out her incredible art.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_transform

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: July 2021

Part of our time away in Naples was spent on the boat trip whose ultimate destination was Marco Island. Marco Island is list as a barrier island in the gulf of Mexico. It hosts many resort hotels, beautiful beaches and some incredible shelling, if you are into that.

I will confess that when we booked this tour, I was not expecting to go there. I expected to spend time trolling the islands. That said the beach is beautiful, and there were many beautiful treasures found on the beach. Richard had a great time picking up shells, which he brought home to put on our deck area.

Marco Island has always struck me as the upmarket area of the west Coast of Florida. This quartet reinforced my idea.

However, Marco Island is also well known for the beautiful white beaches filled with shells, and this was where our boat trip made a stop. We were able to walk along the beaches and pick up shells to take home. I am not a big fan of removing things from nature, but Richard enjoyed picking up a few shells, as did the others who had joined us on the boat ride.

Due to the state of Richard’s health, he has now had to invest in long-sleeved shirts that protect him from the UV rays. While his melanoma are all stage 4 we do not want something else triggering at skin level.

The beaches are vast and for the most part they were empty and we were able to just relax and enjoy ourselves. Below are some of the beautiful treasures we found along the shore line.

I believe that these are Sandpiper wading in the water looking for food. They were in abundance and they blended into the surroundings so well.

The shells were gorgeous and I enjoyed seeing them lying in the sand. Hopefully some critter will come along and make it’s home in them.

Every so often it looks like a coconut washed ashore as well.

The beach was peaceful, calming, and enjoyable. I am sure that if we were out that was again I would like to walk along those beaches again and enjoy the solitude that you can experience when there are so few of you walking around.

As I have mentioned before, Richard and I have chosen to start checking off the bucket list. Why? He has been diagnosed with melanomas. We don’t know what tomorrow may bring. For this trip, we were under a covered awning and Richard wore a hat and a UV50 shirt, and had sunscreen on all over.

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.

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. Watch out for the dolphins on the 30th.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: July 2021: Summer Sun

{Summer sun} is the theme this month and summer sun is the time of year typically when we travel. The past two years have been tough because of covid, and this past year has been an awful year for us a family and extended family. There is so much we want to do but this year we just have not been able to do it. We are restricted to Richards infusion dates, and at times, with everything that is going on it has just been overwhelming.

In addition, it has rained virtually every day I have been free to head out. We also have a tropical storm heading into town just to add insult to injury

Sitting on the beach this past week, waiting for the weather to roll in using my cellphone to capture the storm.

I have not even had a chance to get out and take photos. So I have pulled together what {Summer Sun} means to us as a family. It is time to get out and to get traveling and to enjoy what nature has created for us.

It may be local – some early mornings watching the sun rise over the ocean.
Bahia Honda State Park
Sunset at St Pete’s, Florida
Heading out early morning to go hike in the Valley of Fire was one of our favorites.
Sunset Key West, Florida
Sunset over the Gulf – Naples, Florida
Or just watching the sun set in St Petes, Florida
Sunset from the Ferry – Orca Islands back to Seattle
Sunrise on the last day before we headed home – Columbus Georgia
One of our favorite summer sun activities – sunset on the ocean Key West, Florida

Summer is time to get up and get moving, and I have to be honest I cannot wait to do it again. Being stuck at home is the pits. With Richards health being challenged, we are going to be checking off the bucket list as soon as we can.

We have always been outdoorsy people. The typical sun seekers. Sunrise and sunset and everything inbetween. We have lived to be in nature. Life and death, has suddenly become very relevant in our lives right now as we focus on Richard’s health. 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. Each day has become a memory making day.

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 Liz of It’s Still Life Photography by Elizabeth Wilson is up next is up next. I can wait to see what she has to share as I have seen some of her work recently and love it. I would encourage to have a look at what she has to offer. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Facebook page or Instagram page.

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

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

10000 Islands Boat Tour: Dolphins

Another part of the boat tour, was interacting with nature, and in specific dolphin. It is always a thrill to see dolphin and to be honest my greatest memory was in South Africa where the boat driver said to the group of scuba divers, “Dive off and swim with the dolphin. That we did and it was such a beautiful experience. To be in the water with these gorgeous creatures is just such beautiful experience.

While we were not in the water today, it was still a thrill to see these stunning mammals in the water.

When you see a fin coming straight on to you, it’s always wise to be cautious, but side on a dolphin has a curved fin. I remember once in the keys my husband and daughter grabbing the kayak and heading out into the water to follow a fin. Thank goodness it was a dolphin and not a shark. Richard and I have done that up in the gulf. We spotted a feeding frenzy and decided to go and check it out. Turned out the birds were diving for fish and the sea creature that was eating the fish from below was bigger than our kayak. One look below us and I was ready to walk on water. We got out of there pretty quickly.

Photographing the dolphin playing in the wake of the boat was such fun. Those guys sure can swim fast.

I loved the tail out of the water. Kind of felt like it was waving goodbye.

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

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

30 Minutes in the Life: Cape Romano Dome House: Marco Island

I left you in the gardens a few days ago. Today we are doing a boat trip through the 10 000 Islands off the west coast of South Florida. Do not be deceived, you really are not going to go through 10 000 islands. I thought we would head south but the tour did not do that. Instead it looped through some islands and then headed to the Cape Romano Dome House. If you are wondering, so was I. There is a very interesting story behind these domes sitting in the water.

In 1979, Bob Lee, a retired businessman, decided to build a home on an island just south of Marco Bay. The original house was built on stilts and consisted of 6 domes. 2,400 sq feet in size the house consisted of 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. In some areas the home was two stories. The home had a large patio with a sweeping walkway to the beach. I am sure in it’s day it attracted much attention.

Bob Lee, it appears, loved inventing things. Prior to building the island home, he constructed a similar structure in Tennessee, which apparently is still standing. He appears to be a man before his time, using solar power to run the house, and installed gutters to catch the rainwater in large tanks. Once the water was purified it would re-used throughout the house. The walls of the house were made of concrete mixed with the beach sand. The domed shaped roofing was supposed to be suitable for providing hurricane protection.

The house briefly left their ownership, but due to financial issues the the house was repossessed by the Lee family. Hurricane Andrew blew in in 1992, and while the structure stayed strong, the windows did not, and significant damage was done to the interior of the property. In 1992, due to the fact that the house was no longer habitable, the Lee family abandoned the home.

2004, saw the change in the water levels and they were slowly beginning to touch the concrete pillars holding up the home. In 2005 the property was sold. The new owner, John Tosto, had great plans for the home. His idea was to physically move the home to higher ground. However, he did not have the chance to do that as Hurricane Wilma struck south Florida. While John Tosto, had ambitions to try to relocate the house he also faced much opposition from Governmental Bodies and the county.

In 2007 John Tosto was ordered to demolish the structure. Having invested a significant amount of money into the property already, he objected the idea of demolishing it. By 2009, he had racked up close to $187 000 in fines.

The house was abandoned, and by 2013 it was sitting in deep water. There was a move in 2015 to relocate the domes to deeper water and use it for a natural reef, but the idea never really took off. In 2017, 2 of the domes were destroyed by Hurricane Irma.

In 2018 the state took ownership of the property. By November 2019, the state had made no determination of the property.

From my point of view, when I researched boat trips, I also researched on the dome houses. So I knew that there was a very interesting story to them. To view them was unique and not something we would typically do, so I was very grateful to see this unique The structures are definitely sinking. When you view original pictures of the home these domes were way above water level. I do encourage you to google these domes and read up about them. Here is a link to a video that shows something of the home or you can view this video.

From a photographers point of view the domes are unique and tell a story of abandonment. Fishermen in boats got into a lot of my images, which was very frustrating and I may or may not have removed them and their boats from my images so as to keep the rest of the image looking like there was not boat. Looking at these images I am reminded about the power of water and the damage that it can do in our lives. The water level down south is creeping higher and higher, and already they are looking at what this will look like for places like Miami. Clearly the dome houses are a good example of this.

Looking at the last photo shows the land in view, but not close enough for this home to have ultimately survived.

The trip out to the dome houses was a highlight for me and it would be nice to be able to kayak closer to pillars. The boat got close but not close enough for me.

As I have mentioned before, Richard and I have chosen to start checking off the bucket list. Why? He has been diagnosed with melanomas. We don’t know what tomorrow may bring. For this trip, we were under a covered awning and Richard wore a hat and a UV50 shirt, and had sunscreen on all over.

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.

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. Watch out for the dolphins on the 30th.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

May 2021: Naples Botanical Gardens: Part 7

I walked in the Garden of Eden and found the serpent. Oh yes, I did. We all know the story of Adam and Eve and the serpent and the ruin he created. Today’s walk is through the orchid garden at the Naples Botanical Gardens. A place that I could have spent more time and money in if Richard had not been edging out. Added to that to buy plants and take them back to the hotel to care for may have been a bit too much.

A little bit about my love for orchids. Orchids have been a hobby in my family for years. My father had a huge shade house full of orchids, of which the more exotic ones were probably purchased by me. I loved to find the different looking orchids. This is my happy place, that keeps me close to my father. When Richard suddenly got sick my office sent me the most beautiful orchid that was in full bloom. It has lasted from February until this past weekend. Slowly the blooms are starting to die. But added to that a whole bunch of my orchids started to bloom and I felt like my dad was just wrapping his arms around me and hugging silently in his way.

Not only did my dad, grow orchids, but his older brother had a huge shade house and my favorite orchids to find there were the slipper orchids, of which you will see a few in the bottom. I do not have one but I am on the look out. My cousin has fantastic green fingers as well.

In addition, another of his brothers and his sister pottered around with their orchids as well. My mom also had a cousin that lived near to me in my first home and grew the most beautiful Cymbidium orchids. He provided my orchids for my wedding bouquet many years ago.

Recently I have begun to develop my own collection of orchids. We live on a small piece of land so there will be no big shade house, but I love seeing their beauty in my home.

The first three orchids remind me of Hippie orchids and I know that I have to buy at least one of them in the future. Apparently they are called Miltonia orchids and are often referred to as “pansy” orchids. They require moderate temperatures and bright indirect sunlight

The orchid below is called a Grammatophyllum orchid. These orchids like early morning sunlight and grow well in moderate light intensity. This species is normally yellow and brown.

Oncidium Orchids, or otherwise known as the “Dancing Lady” was another one of my favorite orchids in my dad’s shade house. Oncidium orchids bloom in the fall and usually prefer a cooler environment, although they do like moisture and humidity. I think that when I get one I will be keeping it inside the house. That is about the only place that is cool-ish.

The orchid below appears to be an Encyclia orchid also known as a “cockleshell” orchid. They have an octopus like shape and will bloom for several consecutive months.

I will confess I could be wrong here but I believe this is an Dendrobium orchid and one of about 1800 species. The tend to prefer cooler temperatures and less humidity.

I believe that this may also be part of the Encyclia orchid family.

A variety of Vanda Orchids to choose from. I have an orange, a brown and a yellow Vanda in my collection. Vanda orchids are well known for their fragrance. They require lots of light and humidity but my tag said no direct sunlight. I have just hung them on the fence in the shade. Hopefully they will grow well.

And I mentioned that while in the Garden of Eden, or the orchid house, I found myself face to face with the serpent. Yes, there I was photographing the flower obliviously, when I happened to look down. You have to know that snakes are not on my favorite list of things to run into. But here was the serpent and I did not hesitate to photograph him. I do believe that this snake is known as a Black Racer. And while the web tells me that they are non venomous, a snake is a snake and really not my friend.

Once again, I believe that this may also be part of the Encyclia orchid family.

I have read that the Black Racer can get quite large and I am glad that this was just a wee little snake, or I might have been running in the opposite direction. Like my father, I do not like snakes. Only problem is that my mother is not around to get rid of them like she did for my dad. I hear you laughing, but it really was no laughing matter, if my dad spotted a snake, the first person he called on was my mother. The poor snake did not stand a chance.

Cypripedium Parviflorum or the commonly known yellow slipper orchid, is what I think this is. What I love about this orchid is that I can clearly see a face in the body of the orchid. I do see faces in all sorts of things and apparently that is called Pareidolia. According to Wikipedia “Pareidolia is the tendency for perception to impose a meaningful interpretation on a nebulous visual stimulus. Common examples are perceived images of animals, faces, or objects in cloud formations. ” I am amazed at how many faces I see in things.

I believe the orchid below is called a Cypripedioideae orchid and it is definitely part of the Slipper Orchid family

The Phalaenopsis orchid is the most common in South Florida, however, there are so many different verities of colors and patterns that each one is uniquely beautiful. Currently I have about 15 Phalaenopsis orchids. As a rule Phalaenopsis orchids love defused lighting and moderate humidity. I have kept all of mine inside the patio in the shade. “Phallies” typically flower all year round.

Orchid growing is another outdoor hobby which I have come to realize that this is not something I can really ask Richard to help me with, given that he really should not be in the sun. So last weekend I set up my table on the grass and repotted my 25 orchids. That gave me a healthy respect for horticulturist like my cousin who has won many gold awards at the Chelsea Garden show, or someone like my dad or my uncle who is just a hobbyist. There is a lot of work to keeping the orchids healthy.

As we spend time in the sun I just want to remind you that 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.

This is my last post for the Naples Botanical Gardens. I hope you enjoyed them. The adventure is still not over. Look out for the post on Monday on the Cape Romano Dome house. I loved seeing this unique house in the middle of nowhere. Check it out on Monday.

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