Macro Moments Challenge–Week 32: Clovers

Clover Close-up

I’m excited to submit this macro photo of these clovers  for Musin’ with Susan’s Macro Moments Challenge.

This photo was taken with my Samsung Galaxy S5 phone. I cropped, added contrast and HDR, framed, and watermarked with PicMonkey premium.

Wild clovers grow in my backyard. Right now, due to all the rain, my backyard is mostly mud, but these plucky little clovers will be popping up soon!

This is also submitted to coincide with Jennifer Nicole Wells’ Color Your World–Shamrock.

Photography challenges are fun, interesting, and potentially bring more viewers to your blog. Give it a try!

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Macro Moments Week 31: Poopy Little Puppy

I caught Brodie’s cute little puppy face right after he got in trouble for leaving a “present” in the hallway.

Brodie the Boykin Spaniel, 10 weeks old

It’s tough being an active, 10-week old Boykin Spaniel while the rain keeps coming down here in California!

This photo was taken with my Panasonic Lumix FZ 300, and post-edited in PicMonkey.

Feel free to participate in Musin’ With Susan’s Macro Moments Photography challenge! This week’s theme is Baby Animals.

This post is also included in Trent’s World Weekly Smiles!

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What are the Odds of Finding a Rainbow in Your Hand?

What are the odds of finding a rainbow in my hand?

The weekly photo challenge asks us to find a photo that depicts a subject that is Against the Odds

I’m thinking this qualifies as an unlikely occurrence. We caught this just right as the winter sun’s rays illuminated the skylight!

A rainbow in your hand

 

Me and My Aero: For the Love of a Dog

Shadow of the dog walker

In the shadow of the 2017 Westminster Dog Show and Valentine’s Day…

We’re talking about dogs and love today! Rumor, the German Shepherd, won the coveted “Best in Show” title.

If you have followed my blog within the last few months, you probably have seen pics of my dog, Aero. In honor of two blog features, the WordPress weekly photo challenge, Shadow and 51 Weeks; 51 Songs by Hugh’s Views and News,  I submit some photos of “me and my Aero.”

Oh, hey, isn’t that a song? Here is the YouTube clip as arranged by Harry Nillson from the animated short film, The Point. Check that out here.

 

“Me and my arrow
Straighter than narrow;
Wherever we go, everyone knows
It’s me and my arrow.
Me and my arrow
Taking the high road;
Wherever we go, everyone knows
It’s me and my arrow”

Me and My Arrow song and lyrics by Harry Nilsson from “The Point” peaked at number 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971. Did you ever see the movie? I still hear the song played occasionally.

If you haven’t guessed, Aero, a six year-old Boykin Spaniel/poodle mix, is my pride and joy. We go for walks nearly every day. I get some great blog post ideas on these walks. Speaking of shadows, Aero now has his own shadow.

But first, the back story.

Aero has several brothers that look nothing like him. When my daughter moved out and took Gideon with her, Aero was alone. Well, he has me and his “daddy,” but we talked about getting another dog.

Chappy, Boykin Spaniel
Beloved Chappy. Used with permission

Scrolling through the WordPress Reader, I saw a photo (on the left) of a puppy that looked just like Aero. As I clicked on the link I was astounded by what I saw…the spitting image of my Aero-perro! Joan at her blog MV Obsession posted a memorial to her grand-dog Chappy. As I tearfully read through Joan’s beautiful tribute and looked at the gorgeous photos, I knew instinctively that Aero was descended from this noble breed of water-fowl retrievers, known as Boykin Spaniels. You can see why Chappy became the inspiration for my puppy love. Better get some tissues!

Once I discovered that Aero was part Boykin Spaniel, not Cocker as I originally thought, I wanted to know more about this breed. Joan’s post has a link to the Boykin Spaniel Society at the top of her post, but you can check that out here.

 

Following this, I was just amazed that I had never heard of this breed of dog. Boykins were bred in the early 1900s as retrievers for duck and wild turkey hunters. Although Boykins can weigh up to 40 pounds, they are shorter, stockier dogs, perfect for fitting into a small boat. Boykin Spaniels are the South Carolina state dog, and are seen in the Southern part of the U.S.

Aero at 2 months old

Aero’s chocolate brown coat prompted people to ask “What kind of dog is that?” We naively answered Cocker Spaniel mixed with terrier and poodle. Cockerterapoo? Or “Oh, he looks like a miniature Irish Setter, or Portuguese Water Dog.”

I don’t know why I got so emotional over discovering other dogs that look like Aero. I guess I love my Aero so much, I wanted to know his ancestry.

When I showed my hubby the picture of Chappy, and the Boykin Spaniel website, he was as amazed as I was and he somehow found a facebook page of a Boykin Spaniel breeder in California…the ONLY one. Luckily for us the breeder is in Northern California near Mt Shasta. Then more luck, the breeder had just whelped a litter of pups in December. We contacted her and asked several questions. Only two were left. Within two days, we made an offer and got our Boykin Spaniel.

Meet Brodie. Hubby thinks he looks like the night fury dragon, Toothless, from the movie, “How To Train Your Dragon.” Brodie means “muddy paws” in the Irish/Gaelic language. His official kennel name is CR Shasta Chases the Wind. He certainly chases everything now.

Brodie is Aero's new shadow

Aero will never be as large as pure-bred Boykins, only weighing in at a svelte 14 pounds. His “cousin” Brodie, at 9 weeks (at the time of this post) already weighs 12 pounds and is growing fast!

Stand Up Paddling with the poochBack to the Aero’s new shadow. Brodie loves Aero and they tumble around the house and backyard all day long. Raising a brand-new puppy isn’t easy, but the timing for our active lives was perfect. By the time we head to the Sacramento delta in April for our weekends of windsurfing and stand-up paddling, Brodie will have had all his shots and be 4 months old…ready to rumble! Or retrieve an unsuspecting duck!

We now belong to a couple of Boykin Spaniel Facebook pages and have made some friends. I never thought I would see so many “Aeros!”

All this “for the love of a dog.”

paw printsAero is starting his own “dog-blog” soon, called Aero’s Perspectives. It will be a monthly feature on one of my pages.

 

 

Are you afflicted with Puppy Love? Was this year’s Valentine a dog? WOOF!

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Macro Moments Challenge: Week 30–Birds

Hummingbird enjoying his shower
Hummer after the rain

A few weeks ago, as the never-ending much-needed rain trickled to a drizzle, my resident hummingbird enjoyed fluffing his feathers after a well-deserved feeding.

We are all used to seeing hummingbirds in flight, we may forget they actually perch!

Submitted for Musin’ with Susan’s Macro Moments Challenge

Photographed with my Panasonic Lumix FZ300 in full zoom. Cropped and framed with PicMonkey premium. I have also taken great macro shots with my Samsung Galaxy S5 phone, too, so don’t be afraid to play along!

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Out of the Shadows

This week’s photo challenge asks us to depict Shadow.

Not only did I get some great shots with the new camera, I got double pleasure with shadows and reflections at Coronado’s dog beach in San Diego last December.

Aero cavorts on dog beach accompanied by his shadow and reflection

Aero cavorts on dog beach accompanied by his shadow and reflection.

Legs cast shadows and reflections

Legs also cast shadows and reflections.

But, wait, there’s MORE!

In my post, How to Get 100s of Free Photos for Your Blog, I got a wonderful response and several bloggers found great uses on their blogs for some of my donated images!

Sally Cronin from Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life used one in her post, Weekly Image and Haiku—From a Grateful World and wrote a lovely haiku with it.

Blogger Marje from Kyrosmagica used a photo as her featured image (with some Canva editing), which featured me on her Author Spotlight!

Fellow blogger, Allison, at Allison D Reid, contacted me and asked to share her vast collection of gorgeous images of forests, streams and other natural settings. Like me, she has oodles of photos “collecting virtual dust” as she cleverly put it! You can also find the file of her images from South Chagrin Reservation in Bentleyville, Ohio.

Here is a wonderful example of one of Allison’s photos. It happens to fit the WPC shadow theme (but the credit is hers)!

Forest in Shadow
image by Allison D. Reid

As I said, FREE images really are available. No sign-ups, no passwords to remember, no gimmicks. Just click on FREE BLOG IMAGES for the link or visit my new page Free Photos for Your Blog.

Help us bring our unused photos out of the shadows!

Current folders include landscapes, flowers, animals, cityscapes and general office. Visit on a regular basis for new folders and photos added weekly.

New to the folder this week are the following:

  • “Donated Images, with subfolder, “Donated by Allison.”
  • Sports with subfolders: Climbing, Cycling, Group Games, and Water Sports
  • The folder “Landscape” was also updated to include a subfolder “Water.”

Do NOT be shy about using these. It will be up to you to choose and edit them for use on your blog.

I know many of you take quality photos! If you are a blogger with unused digital images laying around “collecting virtual dust” and would like to donate them to the blogging community, please contact me and let’s see if we can add them. I use the Pro edition of Dropbox with plenty of room, (so no worries on space!) and it is very easy to share.

Bring these photos out of the shadows so we may all enjoy them!

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My Book Review of The Heart Stone Chronicles: Part 1, The Swamp Fairy

Heart Stone Chronicles: The Swamp Fairy book review

It is with great pleasure I share this review of The Heart Stone Chronicles: Part 1, The Swamp Fairy, by Author Colleen M. Chesebro.

Colleen ChesebroBut first, let us go back over two years ago, when I first met Colleen in Fall 2014. Her blog was then called “Silver Threading.” She introduced readers to The Swamp Fairy. Here is an excerpt:

“It was a warm morning in November the first time I saw the swamp fairy. The fog curled around the tops of the trees and the autumn breeze smelled of fragrant flowers, even though the early frost had killed all the wild flowers. I inhaled the intoxicating fragrance and peered into the dense foliage near the road. It was a lovely peaceful morning.

I was out for my regular morning walk. I had taken the narrow back road behind Blackberry Ridge where I lived. This morning I could hear the chirping of birds, as tiny bugs hatched on the warm autumn wind, buzzed about my head. I saw something darting about in the underbrush. At first I thought it was a bird. Whatever it was it made a pleasant humming sound. The humming had a mystical quality to it.

My heart started to beat faster as I approached the bushes. I could barely see her she was so tiny and brown. She blended right into the dead and frost browned leaves hanging from the branches…”

And the legend of the swamp fairy was born!

How many of us have had visions or have seen supernatural beings? I saw a UFO once…but, that’s for another post…or not. My point is we all have abilities to be in touch with the supernatural, whether or not we believe in it.

I was entranced by the notion that she saw a fairy. She deftly hooked readers about the swamp fairy and built the lore of the Naiad nymphs even then. She wrote numerous posts that gave readers an intimate and fascinating view of her creative process as she began to write her book.

From the Author:

The book reveals the story of Abby Forrester, a 14-year-old orphaned girl who is entrusted with saving a community of fairy nymphs from certain ecological destruction. Along the way, Abby learns about friendship, love, and what it means to actually belong to a family.

Colleen’s writing explores ecological situations in the multicultural world of today. She combines real-life historical events into her writing to create experiences that will continue in the hearts and heads of her readers.

5 starsHere is my 5-star review:
The story centers around Abigale, a young teen uprooted from Chicago to live with her aunt in Florida. Insecure about starting over, she is already aware of her uncanny psychic abilities but is reluctant to understand her mother’s legacy, left to her in the physical form of a green calcite pendant. Surrounded by friends and extended family, she uncovers a complicated and unlikely destiny and fights hard to preserve it.

The Swamp Fairy Book CoverImagine being new in town and holding on to startling secrets—the ability to telepathically communicate with animals, as well as the swamp’s very treasures—the sacred calcite stone, the rare, pink sundew plants, and the fairies. Explaining these revelations to anyone would certainly make Abby more of an outcast than she already feels.

One can’t help empathize with Abby as she navigates through her own insecurities while discovering her growing strengths and staying true to the fierce love for her friends, family and, of course, the fairies.

Chesebro’s characters are carefully crafted and lend relevance to the story as it unfolds. The town’s welcoming teenagers who quickly befriend Abby are artfully tempered against the bullies who treat her with disdain.

Even if fantasy is not your genre and fairies aren’t your “thing,” they make a minimal appearance here, but enough to generate the lore around which the hub of this charming story revolves.

Chesebro’s setting of the swamp area in gulf-coast Florida is deftly and descriptively written where readers can feel the humidity of the warm sunny days as well as hear the buzz and hum of the insects associated with the South.

The author includes her own haikus that also set the tone for each chapter. “A foggy sunrise, winding a path towards day, the sunlight triumphs.”

The story moves along at a quick pace with a satisfying ending that sets up the plot for the next book in the series. Although this book is geared toward teens and young adults, I recommend this book and series for anyone who cares about the environment, relationships, and real family values.

I look forward to reading Colleen’s blog, Colleen Chesebro, Fairy Whisperer, as she hopefully shares again her creative processes as the next story unfolds.

The book is available in paperback and Kindle formats on: Amazon.

Find Colleen on Goodreads.


Read my book reviews on For the Love of ReadingI am one lucky blogger to know so many of my peers who are writing and have written books in a variety of genres. Are you a blogger with a story to tell? Let this blogging community be an encouragement to you!

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