Sunday Stills: Is #Danger Closer Than You Think?

Dogs alert for Danger
Dogs alert for Danger
Dogs appear to be guarding me on the water.

What could be dangerous about a sublime day paddling on the river?

Don’t get me started.

As the former aquatics director for a public parks and recreation organization, it continues to be my duty to remind people to be safe in the water.

This week’s Sunday Stills theme is “danger.”

In the photo above, our dogs seem to be on high alert for danger as I kayak on the river. You can barely see me. Thanks to my daughter for the cool image!

And I was wearing a life vest, like the one in the shot below.

SUP transportation

Even Aero wears his life jacket when we go out on the paddle boards or kayak.

Aero hoping to shake off the life jacket.
May in National Water Safety Month

Every May, I post something about the importance of water safety, which coincides with National Water Safety Month, as the traditional start to summer begins this Memorial Day holiday weekend.

In a previous post from 2015, I share five tips for keeping your family safe on the water. Interestingly, “danger” was the prompt for this post when Ed hosted Sunday Stills!

A beautiful day out on a calm river or lake may look dreamy and fun, but danger is closer than you think. Regardless of what you believe about your own swimming abilities and others with you, the calm water can quickly change. A lifejacket WILL save your life!

Sadly, this is a common sight to see–too many lifejackets are still hanging up!

Kids Don’t Float Campaign sign at Sacramento County Access on Sherman Island

At least these school children exhibited good safety behavior as they explored shallow areas of the American River.

Middle school kids avert danger by wearing life jackets even in knee-deep water.
Averting danger by wearing lifejackets around the river.

We continue to celebrate National Water Safety Month to bring awareness to the dangers of playing in and around the water without a life jacket. Please keep yourself and your loved ones safe by wearing one and insisting they do, too!

Terri Webster Schrandt

I’m posting some news and Sunday Stills themes for June on May 31st. Stay tuned!

I predict many of you will share your unique perspectives on danger this week for the Sunday Stills photo challenge, and they do not have to be water-related.

© 2019 Copyright-All rights

My Place in the World as a (Leisure) Educator

University students blow bubbles to prove that spontaneity in leisure is rewarding.

University students blow bubbles to prove that spontaneity in leisure is rewarding.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Nelson Mandela

I spent 35 years in the world of public parks and recreation providing clients with quality leisure experiences. The last 13 years before I retired in 2014 was spent as the aquatics director overseeing 15 public swimming pools and several sports facilities.

Back then, my Place in the World consisted of training lifeguards and staff in how to save lives, teaching kids and adults to swim and providing a cool, refreshing respite from the hot summer days found here in Central Northern California. It was also chatting with families, youth and adults about programs and activities in which they could be involved.

What is the role of a leisure educator? Simply to encourage and provide individuals with quality leisure experiences and activities to improve their skills and knowledge.

One teacher can change the world

Although I enjoyed my career in public recreation service, I knew I could contribute more to the goals of wise use of leisure time. And a little extra money wouldn’t hurt.

Following the lead of some of my colleagues, who were teaching part-time as lecturers in the parks and recreation departments at various universities, I got a master’s degree at the age of 50 and began my second career teaching students the values of leisure and sharing my 30 years of knowledge in management, communication, marketing and human resources.

What started out in 2011 as teaching one three-unit night class per semester, grew into teaching 15 units a year once I retired a few years later.

My place in the world grew to include teaching and mentoring hundreds of university students.

In the featured image at the top of the post, is my leisure education class experiencing spontaneous play by blowing bubbles on the Guy West Bridge on the Sacramento State University campus. Selfies and smiles, what’s not to love?

This past spring saw me temporarily putting aside the blog to focus my energy on creating relevant curriculum for a class new to me.

As this week marked my last class, I shared with my students that it has been an honor to be their instructor and that I am proud of what they accomplished with their assignments and quizzes. I say this on my last day of classes every semester and I am still amazed at their applause.

My reward is to see them graduate and to hear about them in the future as a recreation and leisure professional.

The last night of class, I was surprised to see a dozen students lingering around chatting among themselves. Many came up to me to thank me as well as inquire about other classes I’ll be teaching.

As we said our good-lucks and goodbyes, I recall several messages from students over the week:

“This is the only class this semester that is supporting my growth as a student!”

“Thank you for a great semester! I really think that our program will benefit from your instruction of this class from now on. You have brought a lot of valuable and relevant information to the course which will set students up for success in their future careers.”

“Thank you, professor Terri, it has been an honor learning from your courses.”

I am humbled.

Truly this is my place in the world.

I hope we can all express gratitude to those who teach our children and grandchildren, or those who teach in adult education. I worked with many dedicated and tireless volunteers who taught for free just to give back skills in photography, art, music and sports.

For those new to my blog, you may be interested in reading an older post Reconnecting with my High School Teacher.

A great teacher inspires!

Do you like these quotes? I was nominated by A Momma’s View, a long-time blogger friend, for the 3-Days, 3-Quotes Challenge. I’m cheating a bit because I have three quotes in this one post, and I won’t be able to post consecutively. Here are the rules if you would like to play along–the rules are simple:

  • Thank you to the person who nominates you
  • Post one quote per day for 3 consecutive days
  • Nominate three new bloggers each day

I’m nominating anyone interested in this challenge!

It is not too late to thank a teacher today!


Variations of Higher Education

student bicycles line the sidewalk

student bicycles line the sidewalk

The Weekly Photo Challenge does just that: it offers a challenge to photographers and photo-bloggers to find or take pictures of people, places and things of interest.

This week, my challenge was going back into the classroom to teach a new set of university students on the subject of management. I really wouldn’t say it was challenging, as in difficult, in that respect, but I faced the challenge of settling into a new routine after a long semester break that included extended travel.

The photo challenge this week is Variations on a Theme.

Have you guessed my theme yet? Education!

The photo above shows a variety of colorful bicycles all lined up as the spring semester begins. This represents a very cold, cloudy day at Sacramento State University (yes, I know it’s not as cold as what the rest of the US is experiencing). Students will still ride their bikes in the cold and rain.

This next photo is of my new classroom (the calm before the storm of 40 students gathering for class). This is a high-tech classroom with cameras, audio and microphones set up to record the lecture in order to stream it for the online section of students.

University classroomAs I teach my classroom of face-to-face students one night a week, the online section with another set of students watches the video of the class. All 80 students in both sections complete the same assignments. Someone is a genius for creating this variation on the higher education theme.

This semester will be a walk in the park! I get to lecture once a week, which counts for two separate classes! I only have to be on campus one day a week and I will only have 80 students instead of 130! Nice variation on this theme!

Just for fun, as we long for warmer days ahead, this next photo shows my former Friday morning class having their day at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center. A variety of kayaks, colors and levels of skill and enjoyment.

College students kayaking for first time

Experiential Education is another variation of a teaching technique of which I am proud to be a part. I will miss those classes…a little!

For now I will enjoy this new challenge of teaching management theory and practice!


Ascending Steps to Greatness

the ascent to greatness

More steps to education

The weekly photo challenge asks us to show  our interpretation of upward movement with the theme Ascend.

This was my last week of teaching classes for the semester. As I graded my last online final, I recalled how, the week before, I asked students in my classes to stand and be acknowledged for their achievement of graduating this weekend. The smiles on their faces as each class applauded their pending walk to the podium simply demonstrated how much I love teaching and watching this phenomenon happen each year.

The image above was captured last spring on my way to the building in which my office is housed, and where many classrooms seat hundreds of students daily.

The morning sunrise lighting the stairs leading to the building punctuated with the lovely white blooms of the tree gave me a feeling of ascending into a higher place where we can find and reach our potential.

If we look, we easily find this theme ascension, the upward climb, taking flight and soaring among the clouds every day.

Earlier this year, I caught a photo of the Canadian snow geese ascending into the sky after feeding in the Colusa Wildlife Sanctuary.

Geese ascend

Last fall, I managed to capture the Blue Angels soaring overhead at the airshow.

Blue Angels Ascent


As I edited these photos depicting “ascend,” I am reminded of the poem I used to hear as a teen watching late night television (remember when network stations actually signed off each night?)

High Flight
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air… .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

— John Gillespie Magee, Jr

I leave you with this quote for those still struggling with the upward climb.

Do not despise the bottom rungs in the ascent to greatness.
Publilius Syru

the ascent to greatness

Speaking of photos, don’t forget to check out my photography page where you can access free photos. I just added a set of holiday-themed photos for anyone to use!

In my next post I will share how I easily created the signature below using PicMonkey!



Do You Walk a Pedestrian Path?

Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn, and you will. Quote by Vernon Howard

Sac State student deftly walks the high ropes course at the Challenge Center.
Student deftly walks the high ropes course at the Challenge Center.

When simply walking won’t do!

The word Pedestrian brings to mind someone walking along a path, sidewalk, or street. It also means “lacking inspiration or excitement; dull,” according to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.

In my leisure perspective, pedestrians are also found hiking on trails, climbing a vertical wall, traversing a beam 40 feet up in the air, or walking a thin tightrope over a lake, making their walking experience anything but dull and ordinary.

“Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn, and you will. Vernon Howard

Enjoy a gallery of images of my Sacramento State students participating in various experiential learning activities.

Walking around campus or any other location is always better with your favorite beverage.

Students walking through library breezeway
Spurred on by the promise of campus “Grumpy Mule” coffee, student pedestrians make their way to the library.

For more information on walking safely, read 11 Walking Safety Rules.

Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn, and you will. Quote by Vernon Howard

Enjoy a walk today whether it is a leisurely stroll or a power walk to pump up your cardio routine!

A Somewhat Transient Migration

Swallow fly in chaos around their nests.

Swallow fly in chaos around their nests.

Perhaps the famed migration of the Swallows from their winter home in Argentina to San Juan Capistrano isn’t as fleeting as the theme Transient suggests, but try taking photos of them near their nests and transience takes on a whole new meaning.

The nesting swallows flit back and forth so quickly that trying to capture one or several in a photo is a little ridiculous. Especially since I was precariously perched on the levee under the launch near where we windsurf. As soon as I dared step into their realm, they, and I mean hundreds of them, went flying, diving with acrobatic precision only the Flying Wallendas could execute!

In all 40 of my mostly failed images, I managed to highlight the nesting swallow (upper left corner of photo above) in most of the shots. I figured this was a nesting female patiently waiting for daddy bird to bring yummy treats to the nest.

You get the idea of the launch area in this photo.

Swallows flitting back and forth under their nesting home

It’s a good thing no one has bothered with these nests (as if they could)!

According to an article in the Orange County Register, swallows don’t return just to San Juan Capistrano – they also nest in San Clemente and other nearby communities, and local officials warn against messing with any active nests.

In fact, the California Department of Fish and Game considers Feb. 15 to Sept. 1 to be swallows nesting season.

“Completed nests during this breeding season cannot be touched without a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” the announcement said.

Birdwatching as a hobby is very rewarding. With a great camera, one can capture wonderful images of birds. In this case however, I only really discovered all these swallows because I took my stand-up paddleboard under the bridge and thoroughly disturbed them a few years ago. Sometimes fishermen will stand near here, causing the swallows to fly around in a ruckus!

The WordPress weekly photo challenge begins every Wednesday. Anyone can participate!

My signature


Our Leisure Heritage

Park Swings begging for children

Park Swings begging for children

The best intelligence test is what we do with our leisure.
Laurence J. Peter

Our Heritage of leisure, recreation and play has roots deep in our government infrastructure. Not just here in the US, but in most countries world-wide. This is not a post about a political statement (Heaven forbid!), but rather a reminder of the debt we owe visionaries who set aside public lands and leisure spaces for all of us to enjoy.

Although the first sandlot opened in Boston in 1886, the playground movement didn’t begin to develop until the mid-1890s, when playgrounds were opened in nine major US cities. The playground movement in America began as an answer to the industrial revolution realities of crowded cities and long work days. This idea sought to save poor, immigrant, and homeless children from unhealthy crowded tenement neighborhoods. The reformers believed that “supervised play could improve the mental, moral, and physical well-being of children.” Bachrach, J. “Playground Movement.” Encyclopedia of Chicago.

Think about how you engage in leisure on a daily basis…

Sign for River Bend Park County of SacramentoDo you ride your bicycle on a dedicated trail?

When was the last time you took your kids or grandkids to the local neighborhood park and played on the equipment and swings?

Did you enjoy your backpacking trip on the John Muir trail in Yosemite National Park?

How about that cool dip in the YMCA swimming pool?

I could go on all day. The point is our leisure heritage is alive and well.

Next time you visit a national park, a public playground or any other leisure space, say a quick-thank you to these visionaries: Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir, Jane Addams, or Steven T. Mather, among many.

I know school is out for the semester but the leisure educator in me can’t stop extolling the virtues of living a healthy leisure lifestyle!

"The best intelligence test is what we do with our leisure"

Remember, May is National Water Safety Month!

May is National Water Safety Month



Have a leisurely weekend!


I Feel the Earth Move

Yosemite Valley with Bridalveil Falls

Yosemite Valley with Bridalveil Falls

If you are a wilderness geek like me, you might know that today, April 21st is the 179th birthday of John Muir. If you didn’t know, let me tell you why he may have been considered (in my eyes) one of the most important men on Planet Earth.

John Muir was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. He was the founder of the Sierra Club.

According to sources, Muir petitioned the U.S. Congress for the National Park bill that was passed in 1890, establishing Yosemite as our second National Park. Do you know which was the first? (hint: also starts with a “Y”).

The spiritual quality and enthusiasm toward nature expressed in his writings inspired readers, including presidents and congressmen, to take action to help preserve large nature areas.

He is today referred to as the “Father of the National Parks.”

The above excerpts are from my previous post Wander a Whole Summer if You Can.

How fortunate we are as a nation to be the beneficiaries of the natural world that so moved Muir to strongly advocate for the preservation of our Earth.

In wildness lies the hope of the world. John Muir

Even though I have stepped foot in Yosemite National Park 25 times, I am still moved and awestruck at its incredible beauty!

Happy birthday, John Muir, and thank you from the bottom of our nation’s collective hearts!

April 22 happens to be the 2017 date to celebrate Earth Day.

On Earth Day, we celebrate all the gifts the world and nature make available to us. We recognize our complete dependence on its bounty. And we acknowledge the need for good stewardship to preserve its fruits for future generations. John Hoeven

This post was included in Where’s My Backpack’s Travel Theme: Earth.

Do you live near one of America’s 410 National Parks? To help celebrate Earth Day, take advantage of this weekend’s FREE entrance into any National Park and get back in touch with the Earth.



What Swimming With Whale Sharks Taught Me

What swimming with whale sharks taught me

The beginning of a brand new year can be inspiring for most of us. Last year I experienced something I never thought I would do. This is a re-post from January 2016. I hope you enjoy reading this once more.

What swimming with whale sharks taught me

Several weeks ago, while vacationing in Baja, Mexico, I had an amazing opportunity to swim with whale sharks. If we were having coffee today, I would recount that experience with you and explain what the experience taught me about my life. I’ve got a lot of coffee and tea, so please don’t be shy!

About Whale Sharks
Whale sharks are sharks, not whales. In other words, they are fish…the largest fish in the ocean.  They can range in size from 18 to 40 feet long and up to 21 tons! They are literally as big as buses. They also do not have teeth, but instead, like many species of whales, are filter-feeders, using baleen which filters plankton and krill into their four-foot-wide mouths. Ironically, whales and whale sharks, the largest creatures on the planet, eat the smallest living organisms in the ocean.

Whale sharks are surrounded by small schools of fish that also feed off the bits of food. Remora are fish that latch onto the shark’s body and feed off the parasites that cling to its hide. Whale sharks live in tropical waters and are considered endangered. See more about these incredible creatures here or here.

Swimming with the Sharks

To see the whale sharks, two friends, my husband and I chartered a small boat on the Bay of La Paz. The charter companies specialize in whale shark sightings and fishing activities.

After a 20-minute ride to the edge of the bay, our captain stopped the motor and pointed out a few feet to starboard. There it was, a gigantic whale shark! My heart was pounding! We took some photos, and quickly threw on our snorkeling gear, and one by one, we quietly slipped into the water. I was the last one in. As I adjusted my mask, the captain stood above me and pointed down. I shrieked into my snorkel with both fear and delight as the huge whale shark serenely swam just two feet below me.

Close up a a massive whale shark

In my mind, I knew they were harmless creatures. In fact, they reminded me of giant cows lazily grazing in a pasture. These humongous creatures swim with their toothless mouths near the surface feeding on the plankton-rich waters, with no other care in the world.

We all took turns taking photos of each other swimming alongside the sharks with an underwater camera. At one point as my friend took several of me, as he swam backwards to get a better angle, he bumped into a second one that appeared. It was as if he jumped five feet out of the water in surprise and fright!

I had plenty of faith knowing that my other friend had gone swimming with the sharks before, and therefore knew what she was doing. I have a healthy respect for all members of the animal kingdom due to my outdoor nature. And even after swimming alongside for a while, feeling like a mermaid, most of my fear dissipated, until…

I instantly was surrounded by three of them!

People on a nearby boat giggled at my realization when they heard me shriek into my snorkel again. Curious, but respectful, I cautiously reached out and touched the gentle giant just twelve inches away from my outstretched hand. The skin felt like the texture of wet cement. At that moment the shark loomed before me as if it were my whole world. The shark, unfazed, continued to feed as if I did not exist.

To these magnificent creatures, we puny humans appear as insignificant as a fly on the wall of the world’s ocean. When they finish or grow tired of human interaction, they merely dive and completely disappear in the murky depths and move on to their next meal. I imagine with dread, their huge, powerful tail fins could inadvertently send someone somersaulting through the water.

Seeking Inspiration and Time

If we were having coffee, I would tell you, in 2016, I was uninspired with my blogging before I left on my winter vacation. I felt that I had told all the stories I had to tell. I had been wanting to spend time writing a non-fiction book and was seriously ready to shut down the blog. Blogging and its care and feeding take a lot of time. My part-time work teaching as a university lecturer has taken much more time than I anticipated in developing new curricula and prep-work. Something had to give. I’m supposed to be (semi) retired!

As I struggled with finding time to fit everything in, swimming with the whale sharks taught me a few things. Their whole lives are about feeding. They swim, feed, produce young, and repeat.

I realized the daily mechanics of writing my book could wait until summer when I am away from classes for three months. Since I will be writing about leisure, participating in summer leisure activities will provide me more content for which I can use for the book. There is no hurry to write and publish this project. But it will get done.

Read here about my renewed blogging inspiration.

To help with my renewed zest for blogging, I joined two Facebook groups. Blog, Share, Love  is a group that assists with blog promotion and social networking. Another similar group, Blog, Share, Learn  focuses on blog promotion and improvement. Within these groups are committed bloggers, writers, artists and photographers who take their work seriously, and have fun while doing so.

What Swimming with Whale Sharks Taught Me

Swim slowly through life and enjoy the journey. Things done well take time. There is no hurry for excellence, because it will manifest itself when work is carefully crafted. Patience really is a virtue.

Take time for leisure for continued growth and motivation to succeed. Try new things, have fun and do it with passion and gusto. Be open to new ideas and accept the sense of adventure… and prepare to be exhilarated!

Embrace a healthy fear and respect for the animal kingdom. Our planet is not infinite and neither are our lives. Appreciate the beauty of Earth’s creatures and the environments in which they live. Some may not be there tomorrow.

How small and insignificant my problems really are. Our circles of family and friends hold significance for us as we share our values, passions and love. To each other, we ARE significant. Just like the remora and schools of fish that swim with the sharks, we exist in a helpful community.

The really big things in life are harmless in the grand scheme of things. What may seem like an insurmountable or massive problem can be whittled down to plankton-sized bites to be taken in slowly and dealt with in digestible portions.

Have you had adventures that taught you lessons about life? Do tell!

Winter Weekend Coffee SharePlease consider joining the coffee clatch at Part-Time Monster’s Weekend Coffee Share 


Making Magic with Art


Traveling this week for the Thanksgiving holidays found us in my cousin’s house near Portland, Oregon. Many of us California family members visit every couple of years to the Pacific Northwest for some family holiday time.

A former teacher, my cousin is now an elementary school vice-principal and has always had a soft spot for the arts. Her home is full of her children’s painting and drawings, as well as her own, her husband’s and other family members’ creations.

One way she fosters this love of painting in others is to provide creative opportunities while family is visiting during the holidays. She brings out the acrylics, brushes, blank canvas and other goodies and challenges, urges, encourages us all to paint something.

Sunday she provided a 3-foot by 3-foot blank canvas.

blank canvas

It sat blank for a couple of hours until her sister painted a jellyfish in the corner.

The start of magic

Once that gauntlet was thrown, we had a sea life theme.

Soon, everyone slowly and courageously added their own interpretation, and magic was created!

The weekly photo challenge theme is Magic.

We all had our chance to make some magic as a family. See the gallery for close-ups of the mural.


Finished product painted by John

Everyone contributed something, all differently inspired and painted freehand. I discovered I could “erase” my mistakes (see the octopus) with a dry wedge brush and some pale blue paint. Whew!

John painting the diver
John painting the diver

Although, we all have some art background, the real talent lies with my cousin’s son. His scuba diver is insanely amazing and all painted from his own brain.

His diver is truly magic!


Below is the magical gallery of the mural close-ups:

When we left on Tuesday for our 6-hour drive to Spokane, Washington, the next leg of our journey, there was still a large, blank space in the middle of the canvas.

Magic of sealife painted by family members
“Finished” product. What would you add?

What would you add if you could?

I was thinking of adding a whale shark right in the middle, looming into the picture with his great baleen-filled maw…

When we head back there next weekend, we shall see.

I hope you enjoyed this magical art show and that your family holidays are amazing and blissful!


The Bugs of Summer

The Bugs of Summer WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

(Not to be confused with the “Boys of Summer” for you baseball fans)

I have this collection of macro photos of insects and spiders (hey, they make great subjects!) This post was “planned” (lurking on my editorial calendar), waiting for the right moment in which to create the post.

The WordPress weekly photo challenge theme was Details, highlighting the fun of macro photography, and lo and behold, my collection of bugs now sees the light of day!

Scared of bugs, you say? Naaah, not of these guys! While not cute or cuddly, they each have a certain character.

Please let me introduce each of them to you.

The first image is of the praying mantis I discovered languishing on my windsurf board. He was very patient while I photographed him.

Mantis praying for wind, as it sits on my windsurf board

Mantises are distributed worldwide in temperate and tropical habitats. They have triangular heads with bulging eyes supported on flexible necks. All mantis’ have forelegs that are greatly enlarged and adapted for catching and gripping prey.

Crazy fact: sometimes the females decapitate the males just before or during mating.

Here is a large, (at least ½ inch long) Sierra Nevada Carpenter ant. He kept trying to crawl onto my shoe, and while shooting him, I nearly stepped on him!

Sierra Carpenter Ant

They scuttle over the granite rocks and live in nests made in old logs and stumps. Ants are beneficial and eat destructive forest beetles.

Crazy fact: The queens have been known to have lived as many as 27 years. Simple worker ants can live for several years.

caterpillar stage of Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly

We all know why caterpillars cross the road like this one in the photo…to go become a Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly! The dark, blue-black butterflies can be seen along the American River Bike Trail, IF their caterpillar selves were lucky enough to cross without being squished by cyclists’ tires.

pipevine swallowtail butterfly
image courtesy of National Fish & Wildlife Service

Crazy fact: Pipevine Swallowtails can have a wingspan to up to three and a half inches.

Summer is just not the same without a friendly spider or two.

Orbweaver spider

This 2-inch, cross orb-weaver spider’s legs are specialized for spinning orb webs. The webs are built by the larger females who hang head down in the center of the web or remain hidden in nearby foliage, with one claw hooked to a signal line connected to the main orb waiting for a disturbance to signal the arrival of prey. (Wikipedia)

This little gem was found hanging right outside our trailer front window. Doesn’t she look irritated? (Tell me if you see a face here).

Crazy fact: They are known to recycle their webs by disassembling and eating them.

Unless you live in the sub-tropics, you may not have seen this exciting specimen. He was found hiding in my husband’s rolled up sail last winter in Baja, Mexico

whip spider

Whip spiders are quite unusual looking arachnids, with their first pair of legs very thin and elongated to several times the length of their body, resembling whips. These long appendages are used like feelers and resemble antennae. They are nocturnal and fairly large; this guy was about 4 inches wide and scuttled sideways, making both my hubby and I jump!

Crazy fact(s): whip spiders do not possess silk glands or venom glands. They subdue their prey by means of raptorial pincers. Eeek!

For more information on unusual spiders, check out this website.

Since we are still in Baja, Mexico, where winter has summer-like temperatures, I would like to introduce you to this feller, a desert scorpion. (See at end of post). They like to hide in woodpiles, so be careful if you are preparing to build a fire.

Most scorpions’ venom is NOT lethal to humans. Its function is primarily to subdue prey.

Crazy fact: Scorpions glow a vibrant blue-green, lighting up like beacons against the darkness under ultraviolet (UV) light. No one knows why scorpions glow. Some have suggested that it’s accidental – the two chemicals responsible for the glow could be by-products of normal chemical reactions.

The Green Shield Bug is a cute little critter that also was very patient as I took his picture.

green beetle

Beetles are among largest family of the insect kingdom. These beetles have a hard shell that, in this case, looks like a bright green leaf. He was right at home on the white rug of our friend’s Baja home.

Crazy fact: This beetle is close cousin to the stink bug, so be careful how you handle it!

If you haven’t had enough of bug close-ups yet, please check out a fellow blogger at ChosenPerspectives!

I took these photos with my Samsung Galaxy phone and edited them with PicMonkey. If you are interested in more photo tips for blogging, please check out my affordable e-book, Better Blogging with Photography.

I hope you enjoyed meeting the bugs of summer. What are your favorite bugs? Thanks for reading!


Glowing desert scorpion

The ABCDs of Being Water Safe

kids play during swim lessons

Young children get swimming lessons and learn water safety skills.
Image by Kimberly Glaster, used by permission.

This is the third and final part of my series for May is National Water Safety Month.

Memorial Day Weekend in the United States heralds in the summer season. This three-day holiday weekend kicks off warm temperatures, family outings, BBQs, and of course, swimming and water recreation.

Memorial Day Weekend also brings an increased risk of child drownings, reports this article.

Pool, lake, and beach parties are favorite ways to celebrate, but parents must remember to stay alert and vigilant while children are in and around water.

For children between the ages of one and four, drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States (just behind auto accidents). Even when not fatal, water-related accidents cause significant, life-changing injuries from the lack of oxygen to the brain, including permanent brain injury and loss of basic functioning.

There are thousands of tragic stories about children, teens and adults drowning in swimming pools, rivers, lakes and oceans.

Fortunately, most of these can be prevented by being aware of these four drowning prevention tips.

A is for Adult Supervision. Simply put–Parents, WATCH YOUR CHILDREN! Do not assume someone else is going to watch your child at a backyard birthday pool party, or that the lifeguard will see your child in distress in a crowded swimming pool or beach front. It is simply YOUR job to watch your child.

B is for Barriers. Backyard swimming pools without proper fencing can be a potential death trap for young children. Installation and proper use of barriers or “layers of protection” is crucial. Check your county’s ordinances for proper fence height and rules about self-latching gates. It only takes one moment for your child to slip away and head for the water.

C is for Classes. Children and adults should learn to be comfortable in and around the water.  Never consider children “drown-proof” or “water-safe” despite age, swimming skills, previous lessons or experience. Adults should take classes in CPR and first aid. Enroll children into swimming lessons. Non-swimming adults and teens should take swim classes, too.

In the featured image, the sheer joy of children taking their swim lesson is priceless! For children to be that excited about swimming while learning to be safe in the water should be encouraged and rewarded.

D is for Devices. In your backyard pool, keep rescue devices handy. Wear a life jacket (PFD or personal flotation device) in open water. In late May and early summer, water temperatures in lakes and rivers can be deceptively cold despite the warm sun. Rivers and lakes this time of year can be filled with swiftly moving debris which can trap unsuspecting swimmers and drag them under the water.

Additionally, there may be state laws and local ordinances requiring the wearing of PFDs. Children and adults should wear life jackets in open water and while on a boat.

May in National Water Safety MonthThe NRPA (National Recreation and Park Association) recognizes that May is National Water Safety Month and offers these water safety tips

Are there ordinances or laws about public water safety where you live? Has your community ever experienced a tragic drowning?

Please be safe as the summer swimming season begins.

The above photo was included in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Jubilant.

The Doors to Knowledge Invite the Love of Reading

Doors to knowledge open here

Doors to knowledge open here

What is your “one love?” As a writer and educator, I have to admit that the love of books and reading is at the top of my list of loves.

The above photo shows a sculpture of a woman reading in the lobby of the Sacramento State University library. I was surprised that I had not noticed her before. That is what photography will do–provide a new perspective while searching for the perfect shot.

What I love about this is she is reading near the doors, as if she had just checked out her book and couldn’t wait to start reading.

“The doors to knowledge invite the love of reading.” -Terri Webster Schrandt

teach love of reading

These are submitted for the weekly photo challenge: One Love  and for Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors.  Feel free to join these photo challenges any time.

Swimming Lessons: Helpful Hints for Parents


Summer is here and this is the time for families to register their children for swimming lessons. After 20+ years spent as an aquatics director and swim lesson instructor-trainer, let me share some ideas and tips to assist you with this important learning activity.


Regardless of your child’s swimming ability, you can play a critical role in guiding, caring for, supervising, motivating, and working with your child during the experience of participating in swim lessons.

Most communities have public or private swimming pools with a variety of aquatics programs for all ages (even adults!). Here are some things to consider when choosing the swimming facility:

  • Is the pool is indoors or outdoors? Dress appropriately and wear sunscreen.
  • Is the pool heated? Cool water is still OK to swim in.
  • What is time of day the lessons are offered? Usually classes are offered in the mornings or evenings.
  • Does the facility offer group and private lessons? Children really learn better when placed in a group situation. However, if your child has special needs, most swim programs offer private or specialized lessons tailored to the child’s needs.

It is very important to carefully review the swim lesson program offered by your leisure provider. Prepare your child for this experience by first visiting the swimming pool where the classes are held.

Tips on Placing Your Child in the Right Lesson
Many swimming programs are seasonal, meaning that lessons may only be offered in the summer months.

  • If your child has taken lessons before, you may want to repeat the last level that was completed the summer before as a review.
  • Most children remain in the same level for two or more sessions.
  • It is easier to move a child up a level than to move them down.
  • The pool staff may make the final decision in placement of your child into the most appropriate class level based on the child’s skill.
  • Do not over-schedule your child. One lesson per day is enough.

Once your child starts the swim lesson session, here are some suggestions to help you provide the best experience for your child.

  • Be on time and attend every lesson.
  • Follow the pool rules and encourage safety around any body of water.
  • During the lesson, sit in the parent viewing area so as not to distract your child.
  • Dress your child in a swim suit. Swim goggles and rashguard may be worn. Bring a towel.
  • Leave questions for the instructor for after the lesson or ask the facility director.
  • Have patience and give positive praise.
  • Provide encouragement and opportunities to practice new skills during recreational swim.

Above all, just have fun and let your child soak up the experience in this fun learning environment. Swimming is a life-long leisure activity with endless benefits.

I’m joining Debbie in Shape for Tip Tuesday. Tip-Tuesday-Link-Party-Debbie-in-Shape

Vivid Watercraft


Kids enjoying water sports at the Aquatic Center

Summer Day Camp in full swing as kids enjoy kayaking and paddle-boating while learning important water skills at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center.

I couldn’t resist and added a second entry to the Weekly Photo Challenge!