Sunday Stills: A Solstice #Sunrise-Sunset

Sunday, June 20th marks the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere. What a perfect week to show off our sunrises and sunsets!

But First, The Solstice!

If being celestial two weeks ago wasn’t enough “geek” for you science buffs, let’s talk about the solstice.

The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol (“sun”) and sistere (“to stand still”), because at the solstices, the Sun’s declination appears to “stand still”; that is, the seasonal movement of the Sun’s daily path (as seen from Earth) pauses at a northern or southern limit before reversing direction.

Wikipedia

It’s hard to believe we will lose two minutes of daylight a day in the northern hemisphere for the next six months as we head into Autumn and Winter. As the southern hemisphere experiences their winter solstice Monday, folk down-under will gradually see two extra minutes of daylight each day.

After years of living in both Southern and Northern California, I got used to summer nights lasting until 8:45pm or so, with first light around 5:30am. One year I spent the 4th of July celebration with my Dad in the town of Alturas, in the most northeast corner of California. The fireworks didn’t start until 10:30pm when it finally got dark! As much as I thought that was impressive, Spokane (Nine Mile Falls), WA, sees 16 hours of official daylight on the summer solstice.

Image screenshot from Weather Underground App

You can google more information here if you are interested in seeing your own daylight hours.

There is also something called “Civil Twilight,” where light begins or remains in the sky before the sun rises or sets. Spokane’s begins as early as 4:10am and the light in the sky ends at 9:35pm, that’s about 6.5 hours of darkness. I know many of you live in more northern latitudes (Alaska, Canada, Sweden, etc) and it would be interesting to know what your sunset time will be on the solstice.

For you in the southern latitudes, what time did the sun go down on this cold winter day?

The construction crew is slowly building the polebarn/shop. This was taken at 10:00 pm a few days ago. Still a lot of light in the sky, enough to hide the stars.

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

John Steinbeck

And so the world turns.

Now that all the science is out of the way, how do you celebrate the solstice? In my world, and for this week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme, we will simply enjoy sharing our favorite sunrises and sunsets.

The Heat is On

Similar to our experience with the summer solstice is the heat that comes with enjoying what summer brings. Marsha at Always Write challenges us this week with “heat” for her Writers Quotes Wednesday Writers Challenge. Marsha has a series of hilarious quotes you don’t want to miss. I found a few of my own to share. But I thought this one seemed appropriate since we just read about daylight hours.

“One benefit of Summer was that each day we had more light to read by.”

Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle

“Dear weather, stop showing off… We know you’re HOT!!!”
“I’m glad it’s finally hot enough to complain about how hot it is.”

Authors Unknown
Weathered sun

And with Summer’s Heat Comes…

To me sunflowers are a wonderful representation of all things “sun.”

red gold sunrise sunflower

The sunflower’s name comes from its tendency to reposition itself to face the sun. It’s genus, Helianthus, is rooted in two Greek words — “helios” meaning sun and “anthos” meaning flower. Here is really great article about sunflowers if you want more information…

I miss my sunflowers, the ones I planted from seeds back in my former home in Sacramento. I spent hours taking photos over three summers. I even got great close-ups of bees seeking pollen!

As I’ve mentioned before, I now live in Eastern Washington where sunflowers and their close cousins, coneflowers, grow wild on our property among the pine trees and lupines.

As always, my sunflowers are shared for Cee’s Flower of the Day!

Ready for Some Sunrises?

It has been a few years since we visited Baja Sur, Mexico. We typically went in late December and early January. Sunrise was at 7:00 a.m. and I made sure I set my alarm to enjoy the spectacular sunrises over the Sea of Cortez. A real treat to see the sunrise over the ocean instead of the sunset expected on the US West Coast over the Pacific Ocean.

Sunrise over Sea of Cortez
Sunrise over Sea of Cortez
A sunrise brings a new day and a renewed chance of happiness.

How About Some Sunsets?

A sunset over the Sacramento River Delta never failed to inspire.

Clouds and waves combined with a sunset provide lovely textures in nature

After a warm, windy session windsurfing, sometimes a sunset sail is the most memorable.

Summer Sun sets on windsurfer getting the last bits of wind.

“Wind is God’s way of balancing heat.”

Author Unknown

Or how about a sunset in the Yosemite high country?

Half light of Tuolumne Meadows sunset

Turn around and even better, alpenglow appears on the opposite horizon from the setting sun!

Alpenglow Yosemite Tuolumne Meadows
Unlike the direct sunlight around sunrise or sunset, the light that causes alpenglow is reflected off airborne precipitation, ice crystals, or particulates in the lower atmosphere. source

A look at my world during the summer. Linking to Lens-Artists challenge “World.”

In case you need ideas, consider sharing anything anything related to sunrises and sunsets: sunflowers, glow, lighthouse, brilliance, alpenglow, dusk, twilight, dawn, rooster crowing, Stonehenge, stone circles, sun god, ancient myths, etc.

In the Pink Blogger Links

Color challenges seem to be waayyy popular! Bloggers shared 17 links just on Sunday alone with a grand total of 33 by Saturday! Thank you for your continuing support and I hope to see a lot more for this week’s prompt!

I am also “sharing my snaps” over at Denyse Whelan’s blog this Monday!

I’ll sign off with this image of me from 2019 enjoying a very boozy sunset Mai Tai at the Bali Hai restaurant in San Diego in Fall 2019.

Terri enjoying a beverage at Bali Hai

Next week, we explore the Great Outdoors (June is Great Outdoors month somewhere). I will share a sneak peak perspective of Becky B’s July Squares: Trees.

Enjoy the solstice and have a wonderful week ahead!

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Sunday Stills: Kinda #Dry

Dried and gone to seed

If you haven’t guessed it, this week’s Sunday Stills theme is DRY. I’m using the literal version of dry, as in lack of water, to share my version of dry.

This post marks my first entry to Becky B’s October Kinda Squares Photo Challenge. Many of my photos today are square, some are not.

Last week’s images featuring water droplets displayed my yearning for cool temperatures, less heat, and an end to smokey skies caused by wildfires. This time of year in Northern California is very dry, usually through mid-November. Most people’s lawns are dry, a choice many make to save water.

In this image below, taken during our drought in 2015, even the public parks were rarely watered. Parks crews did make sure that trees got some water due to the need to maintain the Sacramento area’s urban forest.

Dry Park during droubt

The surrounding mountain ranges including the Coast Range and the Sierra Nevada Range are also notoriously dry in summer and Fall. The excessive dry underbrush acts as dry tinder to fuel wildfires.

In the mountain and foothill areas, the wildfires tend to spark due to dry lightning from stray thunderstorms that form from monsoon moisture coming from the south and southwest.

Now that you have had a dry lecture on geography and weather, let’s get started with my images depicting our dry area.

Many of the plants in my backyard have withered in their natural cycle. My once glorious sunflowers have gone to seed from this stunner…

Macro view of sunflower

…to this withering bloom…

Drying sunflower

…to this bounty of seeds…

Sunflower gone to Seed

…and finally, to this…completely dry, but starkly beautiful.

Dried and gone to seed

The birds love those sunflower seeds. I harvested loads of seeds to be used for planting next year and to send some to my daughter for her garden.

Speaking of birds, Lisa’s bird weekly challenge is macro or close-up birds. This close-up of one of my loyal backyard hummingbirds is seen perched on a dry twig of our California Redwoods.

Closeup view of Hummingbird
Hummingbird close-up

In another close-up, this fella seems to be yearning for liquid refreshment in the dry bird feeder. Oops!

Hummingbird and Dry Feeder

As I said, Northern California is dry everywhere. The last of these dry grapes in nearby Apple Hill will not yield any wine. Raisins, anyone?

dried wine grapes
Dried grapes AKA raisins

Further south in Mammoth Lakes located in the Eastern Sierra Nevadas, the desert shows its dry heart along the shores of salty Mono Lake.

Dry desert around Mono Lake

With dry weather, comes dust! We quickly raised our car windows when we slowed down for a sheep migration on highway 395 returning from the Mammoth Lakes area.

Sheep Crossing Dusty Highway

This week’ images are inspired and submitted for the following blog photo challenges:
Cee’s Flower of the Day
Lisa’s Weekly Bird Challenge
Becky B’s October Kinda Squares

Is it dry where you live? Share your dry images and other creative ideas or your dry sense of humor with us at Sunday Stills this week. Remember, you can link all week.

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Sunday Stills: #Yellow Discoveries in the Golden State

sunflower

The color yellow and all things associated with it is the theme for this week’s Sunday Stills photo challenge.

I had a slightly different post planned, but my journalist tendencies would not allow me to bury the lead.

Blogger Meet-Up

Two Bloggers

This week I got to spend a day with my blogger pal Marsha Ingrao of Always Write at her lovely home near Visalia in the Central Valley of California. Driving to the small town of Woodlake, I discovered the charming, nearby town of Exeter, amid the golden yellow foothills.

As we drove around the area, we spontaneously took the short drive through the foothills into the south entrance of Sequoia National Park! Sequoia is known for its giant redwood forest, home of the General Sherman tree, Moro Rock, and other natural wonders of the Eastern Sierra Nevada Range. And she lives so close to the park!

I was 12 years old the last time I visited Sequoia and nearby Kings Canyon NP. This was a treat!

We drove the winding roads and stopped along vista points to capture the scenery. Yellow leaves and dry grass help frame the jagged peaks. On a clear day, you can see Mt Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous U.S. at 14,505 feet. We walked a little for more photo ops, but I will leave that for Marsha to tell you.

Yellow leaf vista of Sierra Range

As we drove toward the park exit, a black bear stood in the road begging for a photo op. By the time I got out my phone (I left my camera in my overnight bag), he had lumbered off the road amid the yellow grasses, the late afternoon sun highlighting his coat a golden brown.

Golden Black Bear

Why California is Golden

In Northern California at the end of July the grasses have turned yellow as vegetation dries out and temps heat up.

While walking in the delta last weekend I found these beautiful yellow wildflowers growing along the levee.

Delta Yellow Wildflowers

Summer flowers show a variety of colors but none so recognizable as the sunflower. Indulge me while I share a few with you this week.

Another golden bear, this time a Teddy Bear sunflower!

Teddy Bear Sunflower 2020

As of this post, I have a whopping 13 sunflowers in my small garden. These are two of the five varieties I planted from seeds from last year’s crop. I recently caught this one opening up.

Square photos of varying perspectives are partially inspired by Becky B’s July Square Perspectives and Cee’s Flower of the Day challenges.

Blogging Break

Please note that after this week, I’m taking a six-week break for travel and family events while focusing on packing and working on our house to ready it for sale in October. I also need to focus as I prepare to teach my university classes online for the Fall semester at the end of August.

Sunday Stills will be in the capable hands of Cathy Ryan of PictureThis who will take hosting duties during August, while Hugh Roberts of Hugh’s Views and News will host September 6 and 13th. Please visit and follow their blogs to stay updated for the challenge. You can find their themes and links to their blogs on my Sunday Stills Page.

I will be back on Sept 20 with new themes. Please stay tuned. Please follow me on Instagram as I travel around Mammoth Lakes and San Diego.

Please link your yellow posts to today’s post so I can read, comment and share. You can link all week; however, by Thursday I will be driving to Mammoth Lakes and may not get to your post right away.

I appreciate all of you who take the time to read and comment on my posts and photography, and those who take part in Sunday Stills each week. Photo challenges are fun and offer a chance to be part of a wonderful blogging community. Who knows? You might also meet a fellow blogger in real life, too!

All my best as you enjoy the rest of your summer (or winter)!

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Sunday Stills: Look! Up in the #Sky!

Blue Sky Half Moon

The theme for Sunday Stills photo challenge this week is “sky.” Three weeks ago, we shared our sunsets and sunrises. This week let’s look at the sky from other perspectives.

Hot air balloons float in a desert sky. Taken in North Phoenix in early January 2019 with my pal Ingrid.

Balloons float in a desert sky

“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Over the last few weeks, I have been in the right place and time to capture decent images of the moon by day and by night. The daylight moon was taken in late spring and is featured for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Spring, hosted this week by Tina Schell.

Blue Sky Half Moon

This was the full moon on July 4th at the Sacramento Delta, framed by the tree. There was still some light in the sky at 8:30 pm, causing my camera to be a little touchy and not getting the clearest shot.

Full moon Perspective

“You cannot look up at the night sky on the Planet Earth and not wonder what it’s like to be up there amongst the stars. And I always look up at the moon and see it as the single most romantic place within the cosmos.”

Tom Hanks

A spring sky in the delta featuring a brooding sunset is enhanced with the Painnt app filter.

Spring Delta Sky

“Late afternoon on the West Coast ends with the sky doing all its brilliant stuff.”

Joan Didion

Back on Earth, a newly-blossomed sunflower provides a skyward perspective as it turns toward the sun. Cee’s Photo of the Day.

sunflower looks to the sky

Two previously featured photos show the sky from the perspective of autumn leaves…

grape leaves

…and the vast blueness punctuated by the flight of the Blue Angels in their annual Sky Show.

Blue Angels Air Show Sacramento
Blue Angels

And while you are thinking of your perspectives, drop by Becky B’s July Squares challenge this week.

“God and Nature first made us what we are, and then out of our own created genius we make ourselves what we want to be. Follow always that great law. Let the sky and God be our limit and Eternity our measurement.”

Marcus Garvey

What do you see in the sky? Rainbows, clouds, birds, airplanes, superman (as the title suggests), hot air balloons, vast blueness, drones? I can’t wait to see your interpretation!

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Sunday Stills: #Perspectives on …

Pinnacle Peak

Don’t you love photo challenges? Even if you are not a photographer yourself, I’m sure you appreciate the lovely images your fellow bloggers share. Over the years, I’ve been inspired by the perspectives and stories of their images.

This week’s Sunday Stills theme is “perspective.” Yes, I borrowed the theme from Becky B’s Squares July photo challenge and enjoy promoting her challenge to others (not that she needs it)! Plus, I love to be challenged too! Remember your main photo needs to be square!

squares photo challenge

This post is chock full of images for some of my favorite photo challenges! See the end of each section for which photo challenges I’ve linked to and where you can find more inspiration.

Did you know that “Perspectives On Leisure” was the name of my blog when I first started in Fall 2014? I later changed it to Second Wind Leisure Perspectives for a variety of reasons. It doesn’t really matter. I guess that’s MY perspective (wink wink).

Floral and Summer Perspectives

“There is that in the glance of a flower which may at times control the greatest of creation’s braggart Lords.”

John Muir

A summer mustard flower’s perspective of the Antioch Bridge in the Sacramento River Delta.

spring flower perspective

Spring is the time to plant sunflowers from seeds. But summer isn’t official until the sunnies burst into bloom. They bloom quickly in the warm sunshine, often in less than 48 hours.

Another floral perspective of Pinnacle Peak in Northern Arizona.

Pinnacle Peak
Pinnacle Peak

These perspectives are inspired by Amy’s summer theme for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge and Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Perspectives of Point of View and Geometry

A warm summer day at Lake Natoma where I often enjoy stand-up paddling. At 9:30 am there were already many families enjoying the water.

Late spring on Lake Natoma

Armed with the knowledge of the upcoming square perspectives challenge, I made sure to get several POV shots. This next one shows the same boys at play.

Boys at water play

At least their life vests are close-by.

While out for a walk, I caught lovely shadows and geometric perspectives on the sidewalk alongside the City park.

Street posts in shadow

Becky B’s July Squares Challenge has begun. Read how to join here.

Summer is here and many bloggers take a short break. Perhaps you are in a slump and need more inspiration for your blog? If you are looking for more photo challenges, take a look at Marsha’s page of challenges.

What’s Your Perspective?

I am looking forward to seeing your images depicting perspectives. Show us in your images, stories, poetry, and other creative ideas!

Camera graphic

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If you enjoyed this post, perhaps you might be interested in this:

Sunday Stills: Honoring Mother #Earth

Sacramento River Delta Clean Up

In a normal universe, we would likely be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day (April 22) outside, perhaps at a large event venue. Even before this popular annual event, volunteers typically gather in various locations during April to clean up litter in the parks, rivers, creeks, and beaches.

Sacramento River Delta Clean Up
Doing my part for the Delta Clean Up in 2015.

Staying on TOP of garbage and debris pick-up by participating in community clean-up days helps keep our natural areas and leisure spaces fresh and inviting.

Delta Ice plant

Speaking of the universe, two weeks ago, we had a pink super moon event, one I happily captured with my Lumix FZ 300! Without the moon’s gravitational influence on tides and weather, life on Mother Earth might look quite different.

super pink moon
April 2020 Super Pink Moon

In My Universe

My plan for Earth Day this year is to simply stay home and play in my backyard garden. By staying on top of planting…

My sunflower seedlings were ready to be planted.

Sunflower Seedlings

Within a few short months, they’ll go from this…

planted sunflowers

…to this, a half-open sunflower from 2018…

Half open Sunflower

…And, finally, to this! All grown up (from 2019)!

sunflowers surrounded by blue

The rest of my deck garden is close to bursting with flowers!

Deck Garden

To help spread the love of sunflowers, I sent a package of various seeds from last year’s sunflower crop to my daughter, so she can plant her own!

I’m adding my images to Cee’s Flower of the Day and to Becky B’s Square Tops.

What can YOU do to honor our Earth?

This article, 13 Small Things You Can Do to Help the Earth Every Day lists simple things you can do to help our Earth. Some of these I do regularly:

  • Use your own grocery bags
  • Re-use your coffee mug and water bottle (we do this on road trips, too)
  • Buy in-season produce. Our local farmer’s markets are still open on weekends! Support your local growers and buy their produce.
  • Plant Your Own Garden. Check out Author Cathleen Townsend’s recent post Be Prepared: Plant a Garden.

I suppose during the current pandemic, gasoline emissions are down due to folks not driving their vehicles as much.

I’m excited to see what you might share for the theme “Mother Earth.” Remember, you can link all week!

TErri Signature

Sunday Stills: The Power of Fantastic #Florals

American Beauty Rose, "The Earth laughs in flowers." Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson

This week, for Sunday Stills, let’s blow up WordPress and the rest of the Internet with gorgeous flowers! We all need some hope and beauty in our lives. Linking to Sunday Stills this week will be like we are sending each other wonderful bouquets.

From Hawaii Botanical Gardens in Hilo, 2019

Purple hibiscus flower
“Blue Bayou” Hibiscus hybrid

Calming Florals

If you haven’t read Cindy Knoke’s incredible photo-blog, please view her post, Pandemic Anxiety Busters, where she not only shares her stunning florals, but also her expertise as a psychotherapist.

Last spring’s hydrangea.

Blue and purple hydrangeas

Did you know that merely looking at photos of nature will calm your stress levels?

“Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.” Luther Burbank

Flower Power

Plumeria blossom
Plumeria Close-Up
Black and White Sunflower Bud

Be as creative as possible: show us a field of flowers, or an extreme close-up of your favorite flower. Try a new angle to create a fantasy look to your flower.

These tree blossoms looked like snow after a spring storm!

Tree blossoms scatter on top of walkway

Or use your photo-editing skills to show us a fantasy flower.

Painted Plumeria

This one was created from the Painnt Filter I describe below.

Drops on Top

I am linking some of my square florals of raindrops on top with Becky B’s new April Squares Challenge, Top.

Geranium Drops
Raindrops on top of my geranium.
Drops on tops of rosebud
Droplets on my American Beauty Rose
Drops on Top
My backyard plumerias enjoy Northern California’s rain and heat
Last teddy sunflower of the summer

Digital Floral Art

I love the Painnt-Pro Art Filters (for android and apple) for editing images into something different.

Painnted Hibiscus flower

I also enjoy the digital coloring app Oil Painting by Color Planet. I LOVE photography, but I also like to color! I find this to be very relaxing.

Sunflowers Graphic
Fantasy FLorals

I use my photo editing clone feature to make the logo disappear.

You can save your creations from both apps to your devices for a variety of uses: wallpaper for devices, photo-editing, etc. Both apps can be found in the Apple store and Google Play for Android users. They are free if you don’t mind the ads.

Painnted Plumeria
Painnted Sunflower

For Sunday Stills challenge this week, it’s OK to use flowers from your media files, if you can’t get out and find new images. All of these flowers and their fantasy counterparts were grown in my backyard!

And most of these images were taken by my various Samsung Galaxy series mobile phones!

Join the flower power by linking with Cee’s Flower of the Day! She loves flowers, too!

The sky is the limit this week and I can’t wait to see what you have to share.

American Beauty Rose, "The Earth laughs in flowers." Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday Stills: Are You Ready for Your #Close-Up?

Macro Plumeria

Calling all photographers and creatives who really like a challenge this week! Last July 2018, I challenged Sunday Stillers to a macro-photography challenge. I thought it was time to offer another macro or close-up photography challenge this week.

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.

Dorothea Lange

I felt like going with a movie theme with the headings in the post today. After all, according to Wikipedia, a “film still (sometimes called a publicity still or a production still) is a photograph taken on or off the set of a movie or television program during production.” I guess I got inspired by the words “close-up.”

“All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, 1950

In case you are confused, today’s Sunday Stills theme is macro or close-up photography.

To understand the difference between the two types, read last year’s post.

Are You Ready for Your Close-Up?

It’s all in the details. Flowers within a sunflower.

sunflower details

A macro view of a white plumeria.

Macro Plumeria

A macro view of droplets on my pink plumeria. So close it almost looks fake! But it is not.

Plumeria water droplets

Close-up of my photo-filtered hydrangea. I don’t think these colors exist naturally in hydrangeas, but it makes a stunning image.

colorful hydrangea

These are both submitted for Snow’s Friendly Friday “Fake.”

My favorite? Macro-photography makes this bee look larger than life. How do you like the pollen on the bee’s head and legs?

Bee on sunflower macro

Flower images are also submitted for Cees Flower of the Day, and for Irene’s Macro Monday.

Believe it or not, I captured these images with my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge phone! I have voice-activation set up to shoot, so no fumbling with fingers!

Go Ahead, Make My Day

Last week’s mellow yellow theme sure resonated with a lot of bloggers! Not only did we have 30 links to the theme, but 6 were new to Sunday Stills! We welcomed Quincy Harley, Heart to Heart, Take a Walk, Jez Braithewaite, Lifelessons, and Sandra Matteotti.

Maybe it was the last “hurrah,” that we had this number of links and responses to Sunday Stills, as I know many bloggers are soon taking short breaks to get their holidays and vacations in. No breaks for me but I’m only posting Sunday Stills challenges as I finalize school prep and get back to weekends at the delta before our campground closes for the season.

Casting Call

I got my cast removed on July 26 and have been using the walking boot to get around when needed. Although my ankle and foot swell each day, I can walk carefully without the boot. My ankle is stiff from being in the same position for two months, but my determination and physical therapy is slowly getting things back to normal. Sorry, no close-ups available!

To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.

Elliott Erwitt

I used floral macros and close-ups as examples in my post to help inspire your creativity this week. Remember, the sky’s the limit with your choices of macro images.

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Sunday Stills: Mellow #Yellow

yellow bee sunflower

Isn’t yellow a lively, cheery color? When I think of August, I think of heat, which makes me think of cloudless, sunny skies, at least out here in the West. I’ve always associated the month of August with the color yellow.

You guessed it, this week’s Sunday Stills theme is anything yellow.

I added “mellow” to my yellow to take the edge off, but our summers here are anything but mellow. Maybe it won’t seem so hot!

Jennifer Bourne, fellow local blogger and co-producer of the Sacramento WordPress Meet-Up and lead organizer for WordCamp Sacramento shared:

“Studies show that the meaning of the color yellow can be warmth, cheerfulness, increased mental activity, increased muscle energy. The color yellow helps activate the memory, encourage communication, enhance vision, build confidence, and stimulate the nervous system.”

https://www.bourncreative.com/meaning-of-the-color-yellow/
sunflower garden

Lest you think this post is all about my backyard sunflowers, I assure you there is more to see.

This busy bee was anything but mellow as I watched her pollen-laden body flit among the sunflowers last week. I luckily caught her in flight!

yellow bee sunflower

Even my miracle pink plumerias have stolen a little sunflower yellow!

To keep us cool in the hot August heat, I share these images of fun in the sun on and near the water.

A great start to the morning. Sunrise over the Sea of Cortez in La Ventana, Baja Mexico.

The difference a new day makes in our quest for change

Windsurfer getting the last of the wind and golden rays before sundown.

Sunset Sailing Session
Sunset sailing in Sacramento River Delta

These kayaks and yellow stand-up paddleboards at Lake Natoma beckon visitors to come take a ride and cool off!

Reflections of yellow SUPs

These boys had the right idea of playing on the beach in Coronado.

Playing on the beach

Later in the Fall, the color yellow will be everywhere. This is a look at last Fall’s ginkgo trees on the Sacramento State University campus.

yellow ginkgo leaves

Flower images are inspired in part by Cee’s Flower of the Day photo challenge.

Welcome new Sunday Stills participant IBall Round the World!

Are you feeling mellow yellow? Show us your images of something yellow, tell us a story or share a poem with yellow as the subject, or why yellow is your favorite color!

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Floral Friday Favorites

Withering sunflower

I’m busy getting my cast off today, so I’m taking this moment to share two of my floral favorites! I suppose it is like sending flowers to myself to celebrate!

This first image is a stylized version of Teddy, who is withering a little each day. I know flowers don’t last long, but Teddy was my first one of this variety. The plant has several buds, so I’m sure more Teddies will bloom soon!

Withering sunflower
Filtered light on a tired Teddy Bear

I haven’t shared a lot on the blog this year about my sunflower obsession, but I have been posting on Instagram almost daily. Here is an IG post of my Tall Sungold, aka Teddy Bear, in all his golden glory!

My other floral obsession is with plumerias. After our last visit to Hawaii in March, I was determined to plant my own and grow these amazing flowers. When a friend on Facebook who lives in my area shared that her potted plumerias are thriving, my quest to plant my own began.

I found a Hilo vendor on Amazon who sent a four-pack of cuttings. I did my research, prepped the proper soil in large pots using the recommended rooting powder. All four were planted in late April.

I continued to fertilize them and water as scheduled. My research suggested that it would likely take up to three years for the plants to bloom.

This week, when I looked out my bedroom window, I saw a pop of pink. Thinking it was one of Brodie’s ubiquitous rubber balls that had bounced into the pot (oh, the horror!), I grabbed the crutches and raced out (as if) to check it out.

Surprise!

My first plumeria
My first plumeria!

Here is the Instagram version. Once I watered them (having a very hot week here), I saw yet another photo op!

Sharing for Becky B’s Blue July Squares and Cee’s Flower of the Day challenges.

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No Excuses Fitness: Exercising with a Cast

using the knee scooter

As I continue to write my book No Excuses Fitness, I have included my experience with exercise and recovery from injury and surgery in this post.

Two years ago, while out walking my dogs, I fell and fractured my right hand. I was lucky only to have to wear a wrist brace so I could still use my fingers, but the pain and awkwardness of the brace hindered most of my activities and personal care.

Consistently engaging in leisure-time physical activity makes up part of my identity. The idea of not being able to walk, swim, go to the gym or ride my bike sets up high levels of anxiety within me. Not only do I want to maintain my fitness level, but I also want to keep weight off.

I admit I am a little addicted to exercise and its effects on weight loss, among other benefits. So of course, I went to the gym three days after I broke my hand. I figured I could still walk on the treadmill or use the elliptical since my legs were fine. I did not want to lose the progress I had made in my fitness journey.

After only 15 minutes on the elliptical, and not engaging my right hand, I was pouring sweat and feeling strange. I later shared this news with my daughter, an avid, 30-something Cross-Fitter, who admonished me for not resting. Our bodies use a LOT of energy to heal even a minor fracture. Feeling much better after a week, I went back to the gym and engaged in my usual workouts but in shorter durations. I was also able to carefully walk the dogs again, using my left hand to hold the leashes.

Two years later, my mindset toward physical activity hasn’t changed much. When I elected to have bunion surgery on my left foot in early June, I thought I went in with my eyes wide open. Having never experienced firsthand the mobility issues of using crutches or a knee scooter, I assumed I could gracefully and patiently handle the whole process of recovering from surgery.

It has been quite a journey. “Gracefully and patiently” are distant ideals.

As each day went by, I gradually got more energy. Most physical activities had to be done in the morning, as my foot would typically swell in mid-afternoon. This is the time when I would elevate my feet on my La-Z-Boy!

Here is a look at a week in my life post-surgery. Please note that light activity was approved by my doctor during my third week when the real cast was placed.

Walking the Dogs

With assistance, I found I could get my knee scooter outside, while someone wrangled the dogs. My small dog, Aero, walks well and I could attach his leash to the scooter handlebars, while someone walked alongside with Brodie. I went from walking 15 minutes to over 45 minutes, 2-3 days a week!

I keep my phone with me in case of photo ops!

sunflowers surrounded by blue
Sunflowers are seen on a walk around my neighborhood

Stationary Bike

I bought a used stationary bike I keep on the backyard deck, and 2-3 times a week I cycle for 15-20 minutes. The casted foot occasionally slips a little while pedaling, but most of the work is done with my right foot.

view from exercise bike
At least the view is nice!

Calisthenics, Strength Training, and Stretching

I keep a resistance band in my scooter basket. When the mood strikes, I do some simple resistance exercises for about 10 minutes. I also lie on the floor and gently work my abs and legs. Due to the cast and inactivity, my left thigh is now an inch smaller around than my right thigh! With my ankle immobilized within the cast, I know I have some work to do once it’s off.

Short Errands to the Store

Once the fourth week arrived, I was able to drive to nearby stores to run errands. Hubby showed me how to place the scooter in the back of my SUV, which takes some maneuvering. It’s lightweight, so it is easy to lift in and out of the car. Just doing this much and rolling around the grocery store takes energy and time. I discovered last week I can pull a cart with one hand while riding the scooter, but I save the big trips for hubby.

Backyard Gardening

Plumeria sprouting

To get into my backyard, I need to use the crutches. Our deck has three steps into the backyard, so the scooter does not work. My plumerias and sunflowers need water daily while the rest of the plants and flowers need water every other day in our Northern California 90+ degree heat. Some gardening projects will have to wait until I am back on both feet.

My two proudest achievements this summer! My first pink plumeria bloomed yesterday, a huge surprise since it can take up to three years for cuttings to bloom.

My first plumeria
First plumeria

Last year I planted sunflowers to photograph and enjoy. Once I saw this type, a Tall Sungold, aka Teddy Bear, I just had to have one. A blogger friend sent me some of his seeds from his harvest!

Close-up of TeddyBear, aka Tall Sungold

I take photos of the sunflowers and plumeria almost every day. Have you ever tried to hold a cell phone with two fingers while using crutches? I knew I should have bought one of those Velcro pouches made for crutches while I was at the medical supply store in San Diego!

Getting Back to Normal

Looking forward to when the cast comes off in a few days, I may end up wearing a walking boot for a while longer, which is OK since I can remove it. From this point, I plan to swim and do some aqua aerobics and water walking at the gym swimming pool, along with using the elliptical again. I’m also looking forward to my Friday or Saturday morning yoga classes too!

The key is to resume physical activity gradually. Complete recovery from bunion surgery can take up to one year, due to mild residual pain and swelling!

I’m excited about getting back to the delta for our summer weekends where I can kayak and ease into stand-up paddling’ but I think I will put off windsurfing until next season!

I know that my recovery will be slow, but I have an entire month before I’m back in the classroom.

Was it worth it? I’ll let you know in a few weeks! Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the scooter ride with me today.

This post is inspired in part by Restless Jo’s Monday Walk, How to Exercise with A Cast and Becky B’s Blue July Squares.

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Hot #August Sunshine: A Sentence A Day

Graphic Sentence a Day

Journaling a sentence each day for a month makes for a reflective blog post. I joined this challenge in 2017 and have sincerely enjoyed keeping track of my daily adventures. I had time to participate for the month of August so far this year.

August 1st! Half of 2018 whizzed by! Today I cleaned and straightened up the house to prepare for family driving from Spokane, Washington. They’ll spend one night here on their way to Southern California for a memorial service. Sure was great to see them and their two grown daughters!

8/2 I went to a new Pilates class at the gym today and twisted my lower back which left me in a LOT of pain for the rest of the day! I overdid it the day before cleaning, so where is the incentive in that chore?

8/3 Morning walk with my friend. We plan to meet every Wednesday morning and walk for an hour! My back felt a lot better today, thank goodness!

8/4 Saturday, woke up at 6:30am, had coffee and took the dogs for an early walk due to the continuing heat in Northern Cal. I had good intentions to write some in my book. Nope! I ordered a new inflatable SUP from Costco instead.
Came up with a fun Instagram hashtag event for August #monthofsunflowers

8/5 Sunday at the delta. Got here just in time to get out on my regular SUP. Had I waited much longer, the wind would have blown me off the water, along with the lingering smoke from local wildfires. This is hubby’s day off so he was excited to get some windsurfing in later.

8/6 Monday morning at the delta, hoping for another SUP session, but rode my mountain bike instead. Packed up and headed home to finish sharing Sunday Stills participants’ posts and some other blogging duties.

8/7 Good workout at the gym this morning, plus walked the dogs before the heat settled in. Spent most of the day on class prep.

8/8 Day at home waiting for our water company to reset our broken meter and for a package to arrive. I managed to walk the dogs and work on more school prep. What did I get? My inflatable SUP! You can read more about my paddleboard escapades!

8/9 Went to a Weight Watchers meeting. Weigh-in not good…I’m a two pounds over my lifetime weight and have gained 6 pounds over all since last December. You’d think with all the physical activity I do that I could keep my weight down! Got distracted and opened my new SUP and familiarized myself with all the goodies. Once inflated, it ended up on the bedroom floor with Brodie keeping a careful eye.

SUp in bedroom
Brodie approves of my inflatable SUP!

8/10 Woohoo! After 7 years, I paid off my car today!

Toyota Rav4
My Baby

8/11-12 Back at the delta—hot day here, not much wind. Several of us got together and created a SUP/Kayak flotilla and crossed the river (a mile across) and picked scads of blackberries. There is an art to balancing a small dog and a Ziploc bag of blackberries on slightly choppy water without falling in!

8/14 I was a featured guest on Hugh’s blog today for his weekly feature “49 Days in 1988.”

8/15 Took an hour-long walk with a gal pal today. Logged over 7200 steps with just the walk. She was gracious enough to take one of my dogs for the walk. Came home worked on school stuff then went out for sushi with hubby!

8/16 Early gym workout. I’ve been listening to a great audio-book (what I listen to on the hour-long drive back and forth to the delta every weekend). I borrow these from our library system in an app called Overdrive. I can borrow e-books to read on Kindle or listen to audio-books, which are converted to MP4 format that download right to the phone.

8/18 No delta this weekend. Off to Lake Natoma to try out my new inflatable SUP. I tried it at the delta last weekend, but it does best on really flat water. So interesting to see so many others with their inflatable SUPs.

Getting ready!

8/19 My hubby’s work schedule changed to accommodate his boss’ vacation, so he only gets Sunday off this week. I managed a morning walk with the dogs before it got hot. Hubby and I shopped for some gardening items then enjoyed a late lunch at a restaurant.

8/20 Put stakes in my sunflower garden. I think the sunflowers are happier!

sunflower garden

8/21 Great morning walk.  Got a haircut, then treated myself to a pedicure! All in time for our…

8/22 ….Happy 5th Anniversary to my hubby!

8/24 Faculty workdays officially began this week. Our annual meeting was cancelled, so I spent the day enjoying one of my last long weekends in the delta.

8/25 Saturday at the delta, did a SUP session with a friend, called a “downwinder.” In other words, we paddled with the river’s tide all the way to the local windsurf/paddlesports shop. Took 45 minutes but it was lovely and quite fun!

8/26 Back home today. Finishing touches and prepping for an early morning start for my first day of teaching tomorrow.

8/27 Fall classes officially start at Sacrament State University today. Got there bright and early at 7:30 to make sure I can park. First week of school traffic is always exciting.

8/28 Still energized from the first day of classes. Our secretary changed the locations of both my classrooms which helps tremendously with the space issue for the Wednesday evening class.

University classroom

8/29 First night of my Wednesday night class. I have an online class that uses the same curriculum. Looking forward to technology!

8/30-31 Official start to Labor Day weekend. Celebrating a couple of friends’ birthdays, too.

Interested in being part of A Sentence A Day? It is fun to jot your daily ideas down, even the seemingly mundane. Please visit Leslie at her blog Once Upon A Time & Happily Ever After. I have met some new bloggers and have enjoyed this challenge. Please visit the link-up for more Sentence a Day posts. 

 


If you are looking for a fun photography challenge, give my weekly feature Sunday Stills a try!

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Sunday Stills: #Lazy Days of Summer

Take time to relax

We are almost at the midpoint of August which means for many, summer is nearly over. Sure the weather will still be warm in the northern hemisphere, and maybe too hot on the West Coast (the wildfires aren’t helping matters), but school starts for many youth, teens and young adults in mid- and late-August!

The featured image above shows a strong leisure ethic in a college student the very first day of classes a couple of years ago.

Educators like myself are undoubtedly putting the finishing touches on course and classroom preparations, marking a clear end to the “lazy days” of summer which happens to be our theme this week for Sunday Stills. I know several students who are already back to school!

I remember as a kid growing up in San Diego, that we did not go back to school until the second week of September, well after the traditional Labor Day holiday. We did not get out for the year until mid-June, but my definition of summer always seemed like June through August to me.

Did you have time for some laziness this summer? I think I had more than my share after experiencing a crazy-busy spring. I took the whole month of June off where I didn’t do any course prep. I managed to write a few thousand words into my No Excuses Fitness book project, but I indeed felt lazy overall.

It didn’t help that we opened a Netflix account in May. Now both my hubby and I see the Millennials’ appeal of binge watching new and old movies or new-to-us Netflix series a couple of hours a night. However, that practice will need to be reigned in by early September!

Luckily my new Fitbit Charge 2 (not an ad) nags me every hour to get some steps in, so the appearance of laziness will stay in my own head!

I still have two more weeks before I step foot onto the college campus, so until that day arrives, I plan to experience a few more lazy days, now counted in just a few hours.

Here are my photo interpretations of “Lazy Days.”

I’ve been a little lazy capturing delta sunsets this summer. How perfect on a hot summer evening that the sun seems to rest a while among the wind turbines.

sunset among the windturbines 

Still obsessed transfixed with my backyard sunflowers, I captured the lazy opening of these petals on a newly-bloomed sunflower.

lazy opening of sunflower petals
Opposite of lazy? This bee on the same sunflower is heavily laden with sunflower pollen, giving “busy bee” a whole new meaning!

Busy bee is anything but lazy

All the photos in today’s post were captured by my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

How do you like to spend your lazy days?

If you are on Instagram and have some sunflower shots to share, please join me for the rest of August using hashtag #monthofsunflowers

Link here or share in the comments!

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Sunday Stills: #Macro or Close-Up Photography; Is there a Difference?

Macro view of sunflower

This week’s Sunday Stills theme is “macro-anything.” Now what does this mean exactly?

Macro photography is also considered close-up photography. However, using a true macro lens yields the sharpest, tiniest details whereas a closeup may not show each detail.

I got a close-up shot of my resident Anna hummingbird perched after feeding. She was quite tame!

Photograph of hummingbird

I don’t have a macro lens on my phone or camera, but I do manage to fill the frame. This time I cropped the photo for a macro effect.

Closeup view of Hummingbird

Sometimes a macro image takes on new characteristics in an abstract way. My backyard windchime featuring a brass dragonfly looks different in its close-up.

Even the mundane becomes an abstract study in geometric shapes. This is the lobby floor of The WELL of Sacramento State University. See captions.

According to SLR Photography Guide: 

“If the subject you are photographing is small and you want to make it look big, you end up with a “macro” view of a “micro” subject.

Close up photography, is the act of photographing objects such as flowers or insects in close range so the subject you are photographing fills the frame.”

Susan at her blog Musin’ With Susan hosted the Macro Moments challenge a while back. Here she gives an example of macro vs close-up.

I’m also adding these shots to Live, Laugh, RV Wandering Wednesday Photo Prompt.

Experiment with your camera, mobile phone or tablet. Take a before and after shot and share your results.

Remember to title your blog post something different than mine!

 

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I Stare at Naked Ladies… and Other Flowers!

Sunflower and worm love a summer day

Sunflower and worm love a summer day
See the green worm in the bottom left?

Nothing is more distracting on my walks with the dogs than the lovely flowers I see all around me. Even in my somewhat mundane neighborhood, many folks plant some wonderful flowers. Intent on walking a large number of steps, I have to STOP for several photo ops.

Naked Ladies
Amaryllis Belladonna (aka Naked Ladies) lose their leaves in summer, hence their nakedness!

The Weekly photo challenge theme is Ooh, Shiny! “Diversions, distractions, and delightful detours.”

Sometimes I take my Lumix camera with me, but lately, while walking two dogs, I end up just taking my mobile phone. I managed to capture a lovely bouquet of flowers in this post.

Ever in the pursuit of awesome photos, I have been known to actually be talking on my phone then tell the person I’ll call him or her back so I can get that photo!

All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today, Indian Proverb

August is the best time of year to see sunflowers—my favorite! August is also the best time to see the amaryllis belladonna in bloom (aka “Naked Ladies).

Enjoy the show!

Speaking of distractions, the looming total solar eclipse has done just that to the nightly news (thank goodness)! As they say, “stay tuned” for photos of the eclipse from Northern California next week!

To all my fellow US friends, while viewing the eclipse, please use proper eye-safety wear, and a solar filter on your camera!

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