Sunday Stills: #Early to Rise

Winter Sunrise

The word “early” invokes a variety of quotes, phrases, and conditions. Let your mind run wild with these concepts of early:

  • Are you an early-bird, an early riser, or just love being early to events?
  • Were you highly intelligent at an early age or naïve in your early years?
  • Perhaps you are a “later-in-the-day” person and dread the early morning hours.

This week’s Sunday Stills photo challenge theme is EARLY.

If you are five minutes early, you are already ten minutes late.

Vince Lombardi, American Football Coach

Being a very time-conscious person, in most cases I tend to be early to appointments. Ironically, every Friday morning I rush out the door at 7:45am to get to my 8:00 am yoga class. Sort of defeats the purpose! Although I am only a few blocks away from my gym, I do try to arrive by 10 minutes before the hour to get a good spot and unfurl my yoga mat.

Arriving early to something gives me time to relax a bit and breathe if I’ve had to rush to get somewhere. I am always early to get to my campus office hours and classes. I like that 10 minutes of classroom prep time to gather my thoughts and get media ready for the lecture.

University classroom
Early to arrive in the classroom

Although I don’t claim to be a morning person, I have never complained when I am up early to see these sunrises!

This lovely winter sunrise was taken earlier this month while I was visiting in Spokane, Washington. I got up earlier than everyone, started the coffee and saw THIS out the kitchen window. Despite the COLD temps, I rushed out into the street in my PJs to capture the dramatic textures and colors.

Winter Sunrise

This image was from a few years ago in Baja, Mexico on the Sea of Cortez. Always strange to see the sunrise over the water. We west-coasters are used to seeing sunsets over the water!

Baja Sunrise
Early Baja Sunrise

Back in January, I complained about the gray foggy days typical in Northern California. February tends to be a cool, rainy month, but as of today, we have had NO rain in this area. These warm sunny days are ushering in an early, dry spring which translates into early flowers.

Here is a pic of my neighbor’s poppy.

California Poppies

These California poppies normally pop out in March, but with all this sunshine, I have already seen them along the side of the highways earlier this month. The other day I went to buy some birdseed for a new feeder and found these lovely Icelandic poppies in the garden section. They provide some beautiful color to my front porch.

The poppies are submitted for Cee’s Flower of the Day

Get an early start for March photo challenges! March themes are already posted on the Sunday Stills Photo Challenge page.

What does EARLY mean to you? Show us your take on early with photos, poems, stories or music! Remember, my blog posts early Sunday mornings at 7:00 am (Pacific Time)!

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Sunday Stills: #Gates to Fun

Pergola Gate with Quote

Today’s photo challenge is that indeed, at least for me. I had a whopping total of five gates in my vast digital photo file, including one I had posted over 4 years ago! I found lots of doors, windows, fences, and marinas with ramps, but few gates.

To assist with inspiration for this week’s Sunday Stills photo challenge, I enlisted the help of my daughter who visited Athens last year and she graciously let me borrow this photo she took of Hadrian’s Arch.

Hadrian's Arch Athens
Hadrian’s Arch, Athens. Original Image by Megan Matal

Hadrian’s Arch “is a monumental gateway resembling a Roman triumphal arch. It spanned an ancient road from the center of Athens, Greece, to the complex of structures on the eastern side of the city that included the Temple of Olympian Zeus.”

At the Southern California Expo, also known as the Del Mar Fair north of San Diego, a building had this pretty, white welcoming gate into the State Exhibition building.

Gateway to Del Mar Fair

Friends have a beautiful vacation home in Los Barilles, Baja, Mexico and this pink wall with its bright green gate faces their property.

Pink and Green Gate

Not a fabulous image of a gate, but here is my hubby (who is pretty fabulous) standing next to the gate to the Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego.

Gate at Ocean Beach Pier
Gate to Ocean Beach Pier

Funny how my limited choice of gates are from southern and Mediterranean geographical locations.

I will leave you with this lovely quote from JRR Tolkien.

Pergola Gate with Quote

What is the secret to finding great gate images? I am looking forward to your creative ideas on the theme this week.

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Sunday Stills: Water, #Water Everywhere, My #Paddleboard Can Shrink

SUP session at the delta

How do you typically spend your last Sunday in August? For lots of folks, August is still a hot month in the Northern hemisphere, so the beach fronts of rivers, lakes, and oceans see huge crowds spending their last summer weekend around the water.

Weightless water

Water is our “over-arching” theme this week for Sunday Stills. Since interpretation is wide, I encourage you to go with a sub-theme.

You probably know I am an avid water-sports person. Although I dabble in windsurfing, I prefer stand-up paddling (aka SUP).

Stand-up paddling is my sub-theme today.

Delta SUP sesson
Delta SUP session

In the “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the sailor expresses his disdain of being surrounded by (ocean) water but none that he can actually drink.
“Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.”
― Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Now you understand the inspiration for the title of my post…or do you?

With water, water everywhere, theoretically, I can use my SUP anywhere there is a body of water over a foot deep. All summer long we have had fabulous windy days at our delta campground, which means lots of windsurfing. Conditions aren’t always right for me to get out on the water with my SUP, hence my disdain over water being everywhere but the conditions are at once too windy to SUP and not windy enough to sail!

I look forward to the calm weekend days at the delta when I can get my SUP out on the water and get my dose of physical activity. SUPing is a great workout which strengthens your core, back, upper body, legs and even your feet.

SUP session in Lake Tahoe
SUP session in Lake Tahoe

Because of logistical reasons, I leave my 11-foot fiberglass, stand-up paddleboard at the delta all summer. Our campsite is a few steps away from the levee fronting the Sacramento River, making it easy to carry my board to the water. This summer at the delta I only got out on my SUP three times! I don’t have an extra SUP laying around at home, so if I want to paddle on nearby Lake Natoma or the American River near my house, I have to rent a board. Renting is fine and I have done it, but the incentive is low.

When I’ve had my SUP at home, it takes some effort to load it on top of my car and properly tie it down. That being said, try re-loading and re-tying it after one-two hours out on the water!

Exhausted much? Also, no incentive unless I have help.

Years ago, I tried an inflatable SUP but I didn’t like the bouncy, unstable feel to it. Recently, I tried a new model and it was surprisingly stable even in small waves and a little wind. Major improvements have been made using carbon stringers and other technology for stability and durability.

View of SUP
Paddler View of my inflatable SUP

Bi-annually I receive e-mails from a water-sports store in the Columbia River Gorge near Portland, Oregon about their clearance items. Recently I saw their inflatable SUPs on sale and an idea brewed in my head about how convenient it would be to have one of these available at home.

Even on clearance, these boards are pricey, so I checked out Costco and what do you know, they had an inflatable SUP package that included the board, a break-down paddle, leash and other goodies (bag and pump included), all for half the price. (No affiliate marketing going on here, just information).

SUp in bedroom
Brodie approves of my inflatable SUP!

Imagine a SUP that fits in the trunk of your car, or in the carry bag that can also be packed for air travel. Sure, inflating takes about 5 minutes with a manual pump, but a pre-work out is all good! After a couple of hours on the water, carrying the board (less than 25 pounds) back to the car, then pushing the deflate button, and poof! Done! Dried off and rolled up and into the car in less than 10 minutes.

“…and all the boards did shrink.”

Now, my incentive is strong to simply grab the bag (just under 50 pounds total), drive the 6 miles to the lake, inflate the SUP in the parking lot or right on the beach and go!

And I did.

Getting ready!

Quite the Zen experience last Saturday at 9am. Cool breeze, calm, flat water…and a ton of people out on their inflatable SUPS and other watercraft!

No excuses!

My escape is to just get in a boat SUP and disappear on the water. ~Carl Hiaasen

Enjoy this gallery of previously posted photos.

Here is a little bit more about SUPing on Folsom Lake and Lake Natoma.

Link up here or create a pingback by linking to this post! I can’t wait to see how you will interpret water for Sunday Stills!

Be sure to check out the Sunday Stills page for the September themes!




Sunday Stills: What Does #Summer Mean to You?

Sunday Stills Summer graphic

For the Sunday Stills challenge to celebrate the first week in July, share your favorite thing about summer. You can simply share one photo of your favorite summer experience or wow us with a gallery of what summer means to you.

And it’s not just about photos…perhaps you are inspired by a song, poem, artwork, short story or something else. It would be nice to have a photo of your idea, but please be creative!

What does “summer” mean to you? Is it the warm (or hot) weather? Or…

Witnessing a refreshing summer storm?

Variety of textures in the delta

Planting and enjoying your backyard garden?

Summer Zinneas

Enjoying a water sport?

Windsurfer getting some air
Windsurfer getting some air

Enrolling the kids in some swim lessons?

Swimming lessons for youth are inexpensive and necessary!

A beautiful hike in the mountains?

Lupine view of mountains at Mammoth Lakes
Lupine view of mountains at Mammoth Lakes

Calm sunrise at a Mexican resort?

The difference a new day makes in our quest for change

Chasing your dog on the beach?

Brodie at ocean Beach San Diego
Brodie at Ocean Beach in San Diego

Stopping to smell the flowers?


Visiting a national park?

Yosemite Valley with Bridalveil Falls
Yosemite Valley

Whatever it is, please share your idea of SUMMER this week!

Instagram meme Good times and tan linesSince we are on the subject of summer, feel free to join us on Instagram for the Summer Instagram Photo Challenge that starts today. You can join anytime!

Join our growing Sunday Stills Tribe

Bloggers who shared Sunday Stills posts in June

A Day In the Life

All the Shoes I Wear

Cee’s Photography

Geriatri’x Fotogallery

Grahams Island

Hugh’s Views and News


Idaho Bluebird

Light Words

Misty Roads Blog

Mucho Spanish

Musin’ with Susan

Na’ama Yehuda

NorCal Zen

Now at Home


PilotFish Blog


Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters

Retirementally Challenged

Sights & Insights

Smorgasbord Variety is the Spice of Life

Tales from My Lens

That Little Voice

The New 3Rs: Retire, Recharge, Reconnect


Wind Kisses


If I left anyone out, please forgive me! I can add you!


Growth is Intentional

Deciding to sail in Baja


Deciding to sail in BajaThere is nothing like a new year to inspire us to reflect on personal growth.

Whatever makes you uncomfortable is your biggest opportunity for growth. Bryant McGill

I haven’t posted anything about my windsurf journey in a while, so this seemed like a great time to demonstrate my growth in the sport of windsurfing. I have to push myself a little as I write this because this is one area of my leisure choices that is lacking.

In the above image of me in Baja, Mexico in January 2016, you can see the hesitation and uncertainty in my body language as I get set to tackle shore break waves slightly over my head. Sailing in the ocean is a scary proposition and I have used this same image with the Eleanor Roosevelt quote on several of my social media accounts.

Face your fears. Windsurfing in Baja, Mexico.

Because this does scare me even now!

But not willing to cringe from a challenge, I was photographed last summer on one of the windier days at the delta, sailing on a very small sail! The wind clocked at 25 mph!

Terri Sailing on a very windy day!

I had convinced myself that in these kinds of windy conditions, that I would get injured sailing this fast. Any experienced windsurfer will tell you that “water-time” is the only remedy for overcoming your fears, and when hubby set up a 3.7 meter sail (I normally sail on a 4.7 or 5.0 meter sail), I took the challenge and faced my fear.

And yes, I had a blast!

I was able to save the image above from a video taken by one of my windsurfer friends. Check it out:

Just the day before the video was taken of me, I used my new camera to take hundreds of photos of my fellow windsurfers as they braved the high winds.

Many of the ladies couldn’t use their own smaller sails because their husbands were using them! You can read more about this in this post: How the Delta Changed My Life

Using that camera in high winds and being able to capture some amazing footage in full zoom showed my growth as a photographer.

Trio of Sailors Windsurfing
Trio of Sailors Windsurfing

Often times, I get more pleasure out of photographing my windsurf colleagues than I do sailing.

I always seem to approach windsurfing with anxiousness and trepidation, even after eight seasons. But that day I went out in the high wind really challenged me and forced me to grow in the sport.

The rest of the summer, not so much, as the wind died on many summer weekends, then I had to deal with a sick dog, then a broken hand.

The best thing about reflecting at the beginning of the year is all that negativity is behind me and I really do look forward to the upcoming windsurf season!

Here’s to a summer of growth!

This is the first post of 2018 submitted for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge Growth

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A Peek at Creatures Great and Small

Whale shark also plays peek-a-boo

What is lurking just below the surface of the water?

Whale shark also plays peek-a-boo

Why, a gigantic whale shark, of course. Would you like to play Peek -a-boo with the largest animal on planet Earth?

C’mon, there’s nothing to it! Almost two years ago, I had the opportunity to swim with whale sharks on our vacation in Mexico in the Bay of La Paz. You can read more about my experience in What Swimming with Whale Sharks Taught Me.

As you can see by the photo below in my peek-a-boo with the whale shark, my presence didn’t even phase him. When I saw it, though, and knowing ahead of time what I would see, I still screamed into my snorkel because I didn’t think they would swim so close to the surface.

Terri peeks at a whale shark

Not convinced, huh? Maybe a smaller critter?

How about a game of peek-a-boo with nesting, feeding swallows? I must have taken 100 shots with my camera and barely got images that were not blurry.

Swallow nesting season

A swallow impatiently peeks from her nest waiting for her mate to bring some goodies. She appears not to be too disturbed by my presence.

If you are not able to contort your body under a bridge and wait for photo ops (because the swallows flit and dive crazily if disturbed), perhaps taking a quick peek at a hummingbird as it feeds is more your style. You’ve got to look fast, though, a few peeks is all you might get!

A quick peek under the eves you spot this hummer.

I suppose all creatures play peek-a-boo regardless of their size!

These photos help illustrate the theme PEEK for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. Come take a peek at what other photographers shared this week.

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Carcancha Chaos

Highly decorated chaotic car drives through Baja streets

Does chaos breed creativity? For some, yes; for others (those who need order…like myself), no! The weekly photo challenge shows great examples of Chaos at work (or play)!

While on vacation in La Ventana, Baja, Mexico last January, a friend of a friend pulled up in his highly decorated “carcancha” (jalopy).

Highly decorated chaotic car drives through Baja streets

When I came across this photo, I laughed out loud because of how it looks, but also because it simply made me happy to see this again! It reminded me of how much fun we had on this trip south! I’m including this post with Trent’s World Blog Weekly Smile.

What chaotic, creative things bring a smile to your face? Let me know in the comments!

Hugh’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Glorious

Glorious… “having a striking beauty or splendor that evokes feelings of delighted admiration.”

Glory comes in the form of a Baja sunrise over the Sea of Cortez.

After every dark night comes a glorious morning of a new day


“After every dark night comes a glorious morning of a new day”― Sunday Adelaja

Glory also comes with admiring a view of lower Yosemite Falls in the spring time.

Lower Yosemite Falls


“Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where.” – John Muir


Glorious is the theme for Hugh’s Weekly Photo Challenge.

Thanks for stopping by and admiring the glorious views!

Images and content ©2016 Terri Webster Schrandt. All Rights Reserved.

What Swimming with Whale Sharks Taught Me

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!

Close up a a massive whale shark

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.

Whale shark was a few feet away from me. A good 20-footer.

In my mind, I knew they were harmless creatures. In fact, they reminded me of giant cows lazily grazing in the pasture. These humongous creatures swim with their 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 was instantly 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 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 have 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 has to give. I’m supposed to be (semi) retired!

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

I realize the daily mechanics of writing my book can 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 in which to 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 a Facebook group, Blog, Share, Learn  which focuses on blog promotion and improvement. Within this group 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.

What swimming with whale sharks taught me

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


I am also including these photos in Jennifer Nicole Wells” Color Your World Challenge “Denim.” 

Winter Weekend Coffee Share

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



Windy Weightlessness

A flying windsock promises wind for kite surfing

Wind is necessary for wind sports such as kite-boarding and windsurfing
Windy Weightlessness

The theme of the weekly photo challenge asks us to show the effects of gravity.

Wind is the name of the game for windsurfers and kiteboarders. On a low wind day, the windsurf sail can feel like a heavy weight to push up and out of the water. Kite boarders can still fly on much less wind.

This local windsock in the shape of a fish, flutters weightlessly in the strong winds as avid kiters and sailors take to the water.

A flying windsock promises wind for kite surfing
A flying windsock promises wind for kite surfing


Happiness Is…Being Happy


What makes you happy? I spent an entire weekend at home…during the summer! A rare occurrence for me. After all the traveling I have done this month, a weekend at home made me really happy.

Because my slight knee injury is preventing me from taking part in my usual leisure activities, I will share two photos of what makes me happy at this moment.

This is a photo I took three years ago, the last time I visited La Ventana, Baja, Mexico. This was the view from a restaurant of a small bay called Bahia de los Suenos (Bay of Dreams). After a long day snorkeling, we stopped for a late lunch at this restaurant. I just loved this view.

Restaurant view of the Sea of Cortez

The subject of this next photo is what REALLY makes me happy: watching my hunky hubby tossing a football around with some younger guys on the beach near the resort in La Ventana. My hubby used to play football in high school, and he played the “other futbol” for years as an adult. An NFL football game was on TV as I read the Sunday Stills challenge.


Sometimes we manage to find other fun ways to get our leisure on when the wind is not blowing. We are booked for La Ventana this coming winter. I will be very happy to go back!

Let me ask you again…what makes YOU happy?

Sunday-Stills-BannerJoin Ed’s Sunday Still Challenge each week. This week’s challenge was “Happiness is…”

A Good Day in La Ventana


Today Was a Good Day

The theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge is to share a gallery of what a good day looks like. My gallery shows photos of what a typical day looks like in La Ventana, Baja Sur, Mexico. I have been there twice and already have made plans to visit again in January 2016. This is one of the winter windsurf and kiteboard capitols of the world.

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You can see that we keep busy from sunset to sundown! Where do you spend your winter retreat (if you are lucky to get one)?

Sunrise Through the Window


Window Sunrise in La Ventana

In La Ventana (window in Spanish), Baja Sur, Mexico, the sun rises about 6:45am in January over the Sea Of Cortez. I set my alarm while on our windsurfing vacation because I knew I could capture shots like this one.

Notice the molten sunrise reflected in the window.

Being a West coast dweller, seeing a sunrise over an ocean is rare for me.

I hope you enjoyed this photo submitted for the Weekly Photo Challenge!

Early Bird

Melon-choly Dawn


With some people solitariness is an escape not from others but from themselves. For they see in the eyes of others only a reflection of themselves. Eric Hoffer

Baja Sunrise in Melon
A lonely beachcomber strolls in the melon dawn.

Feel free to join Jennifer Nichole Wells’ One Word Photo Challenge.

Please share this if you like it!