Sunday Stills Monthly Color Challenge: Walking in a #Burlywood World

burlywood stump

My last Sunday Stills Photo Challenge post of August before my short break is the popular monthly color challenge. This month’s color is burlywood, a light shade of brown, kind of like khakis. A very non-descript color in the world of browns and tans, but it seems to be a popular neutral as well.

color challenge burlywood
August Color Challenge: Burlywood

By this time of year in the Northern hemisphere as summer peaks, there is an abundance of this color everywhere in nature and beyond!

burlywood stump
The epitome of burlywood

I’m tying in water to this post for Marsha’s Writers’ Quotes Wednesdays Writer’s Challenge. How does one find light brown water—perhaps we really don’t want to know…but I did have one in my archives.

One dry, May day at the Sacramento River delta a few years ago, I saw this incredible reflection of the golden hills through which the Sacramento River flows. With no wind, the river was abnormally calm. So, I present—burlywood-brown water.

Chocolate River

In the words of Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:

Mr. Salt: [about the chocolate river] It’s polluted!
Willy Wonka: It’s chocolate!

Last week I drove to a local spot in search of a change of scenery for walking the dogs. Just 6 miles away from home are some walking trails, that, to my surprise lead right to the Spokane River. While Brodie took a leash-bound swim, I managed to capture this lovely shot.

Reflections of Green and brown
Green and burlywood in reflection

Light brown is a pervasive color in nature as a common color for soil, sand, grasslands, rocks, animals and vegetation. In fact, vast regions of the planet Earth appear to be light brown from space.

John Spacey

Not to be outdone by water, nature decided to show off her burlywood colors as florals. (Sharing for Cee’s Flower of the Day challenge).

Here is a gallery of more burlywood inspiration:

And just for fun, my 10×20 foot “she-shed” was delivered on Thursday. It looks so small and plain next to the huge shop! I suppose burlywood is all the rage for sheds. Eventually we will paint her blue.

Where (and why) do I come up with these unusual names for colors? With literally thousands of colors, I like the challenge of choosing an unusual shade from the standard color wheel of six basic colors, plus black and white. I start by searching online for color photo challenges which gives me unique lists of colors. So now you know my secret.

While on My Three-Week Blog Break…

Many thanks to Natalie of Natalie the Explorer who will guest host Sunday Stills while I take a break and travel a bit. You may be familiar with her Weekend Coffee Share Feature. Natalie has chosen the themes for Sunday Stills which are as follows:
8/22 In the Garden
8/29 Afloat
9/5 Colorful Murals

Please enjoy and support Natalie as host. I will have a lot to share about my various adventures upon my return.

Sunday Stills Photo Challenge Reminders

  • Please create a new post for the theme or link a recent one.
  • Title your blog post a little differently than mine.
  • Don’t forget to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries for this theme can be posted all week.
  • Use hashtag #SundayStills for sharing on social media.

Lyrical Bloggers’ Links

Sunday Stills is a wonderful community of bloggers and photographers who desire to connect with one another. Below are the last week’s links from bloggers who shared their favorite song lyrics or poetry with their photos. I am so impressed with the talent and lyric-inspired images from you all! We shall do this again at Christmas!

That’s my burlywood world these days. I look forward to your posts featuring the color challenge this week. By Friday, I may be slow to approve comments/pingbacks as we travel to San Diego for the first leg of the trip. Sunday, Aug. 22, please watch for Natalie’s post to go live at the normal time of 7:00 a.m. Pacific Time. Here is her Weekend Coffee Share post this week with more details on Sunday Stills.

TErri Signature

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Sunday Stills: Your Best #Black-and-White Photos

Inked hummer

Black and white photography is not at the top of my list of favorite photography techniques. I prefer color photography, but I enjoy seeing others’ black and white images and I recognize the special eye and techniques it takes to create just the right image.

“Black and white photography removes any distraction of color and helps the viewer focus on other aspects of the photo, such as the subject, the textures, shapes and patterns, and the composition.”

David Kindervater

As I challenge myself with this theme, I start by sharing two images of people, which in my opinion, especially lend themselves to black and white photography. I cannot take credit for the images, but they are two of my favorites.

This was taken by my husband’s brother-in-law. He caught this image of my husband lighting a cigar. Not only does the light balance work here, but the smoke curls in contrast to the dark background. His expression shows the anticipation of the first inhale as he lights the cigar. This would be the kind of black and white photography to which I would aspire.

man smoking cigar

We recently celebrated my mother-in-law’s life with a family memorial service. Aside from other wonderful images of her, my sister-in-law took this one of Hella for her high school photography class in 1974.

Hella Schrandt

Again, NOT one of my images, but she captured her mother’s joy and zest for life in this now eternal moment.

A Black and White Gallery

I dug into my archives for these images shown in the gallery. *Note–the black sand beach was actually black and white…cheating?

Birds in Black and White

Any subject can be finished in black and white. In the example below, I have the same image of one of my backyard hummingbirds (incidentally all puffed up from a spring rain shower and a good example of next week’s theme “spring green”). I feel that the color image really pops compared to the black and white image I created. Here is how they look side-by-side.

Fluffed up hummingbirdall fluffed up in BW

Since I was not thrilled with the B&W version, I also used a black and white filter (Painnt app) as seen below to enhance what should remain a wonderful color image but doesn’t lend itself to black and white.

Inked hummer

What do you think?

While we are on the subject of birds, I happened to have an oldie-but-goodie image of a Pacifica shorebird in sepia format, taken on the beaches of San Diego. Shared for Lisa’s BirdWeekly.

sepia shore bird

Whatever your own techniques for creating beautiful B&W images, please share a little about your process.

Looking for Black and White Photo Challenges?

I love coincidence! This photo was taken for Cees Black and White Photo challenge in 2015 (when I was newer to blogging and photography). Why coincidence? I am resubmitting this same image for Cee’s B&W challenge for kitchen objects (started this week!) again 6 years later! This was one of my first attempts to focus a color into a black and white image. I know it’s lacking, but we all start somewhere. Cee offers her black and white photo challenge weekly.

blackand white kitchen

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

porch light

If we were having coffee this week, I would happily tell you that we may be within two weeks of moving into the house! I hope I haven’t jinxed it…but the manufactured home company told us that carpet was installed this weekend, and I’ve had assurances that the septic system goes in this week. Above is the cute porch light recently installed. So much happened at lightning speed over the last three weeks, almost as if to make up for the lo-o-ong wait for just electricity last month. A few more small items to check before the final walk-through. And just in time for spring-like weather. For those who observe daylight saving time, did you spring your clocks forward last night?

Please join Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share each week and see what other bloggers are up to!

Sunday Stills Photo Challenge Reminders

  • Please create a new post for the theme or link a recent one.
  • Title your blog post a little differently than mine.
  • Don’t forget to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries for this theme can be posted all week.
  • Use hashtag #SundayStills for sharing on social media.

Sunday Stills is a wonderful community of bloggers and photographers who desire to connect with one another. Each week I will share the links from the previous post so you can continue to meet and support each other. And with that…please visit our…

Rainy Day People

I truly admire folks who can capture lovely images in black and white, so this week, the challenge is YOURS!

Camera graphic

© 2021 Copyright—All rights reserved—secondwindleisure.com

Sunday Stills: #Rain, Rain…Another Day

abstract rainy day

March 1st was the first day of Meteorological spring in the northern hemisphere, and here in Spokane, the temps were in the balmy mid-50s (Fahrenheit) all week. Not much rain, but I do have some rainy-day pics from my archives to share for the theme today.

An abstract view of a downpour in our backyard in Sacramento.

abstract rainy day

Since mid-December when we made the move to Spokane, Washington from Northern California, we’ve experienced snow, clouds, and sun, but oddly no rain. As if to kick us out of California, the rain came in force as we packed the last of our belongings into the truck the morning we pulled out. We hadn’t seen rain in months.

“Rain, rain go away, come again another day.”

Old English nursery rhyme

In winter and spring, 2017, the California drought ended with three months of much-needed rainy weather. As the saying goes, “when it rains, it pours.”

spring downpour

Another abstract view of a rain/hail mix from my archives.

hail, rain mix abstract

I kick myself for not taking some pics of my grand-niece and nephew jumping in melted snow puddles two weeks ago when we took a walk. The colorful pink boots splashing in the bright reflective puddle is the visual I will leave you with and help from Pixabay free photos to make the point.

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

A rain/snow mix in downtown Couer D’Alene, Idaho.

In January 2018, we traveled to the Big Island of Hawaii and stayed on the Hilo side, one of the rainiest cities in the US boasting 130 inches a year. It pretty much rains every day, but sometimes only during the night. We toured the rainforest (while it rained) as evidenced by hubby donning his rain slicker, as we walked through the Thurston lava tube.

Rainy day walk through lava tube

“Thurston lava tube also known as Nāhuku, is the most easily accessible of the lava tubes on the Big Island and is one of the main attractions of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

https://www.lovebigisland.com/activities-to-do/lava-tubes/

With all that rain, there is not only the after-effect of drenching the Earth but also the beauty of enjoying a walk in the rain or shortly after a rain shower. In Hilo, this Morning Glory close-up shows the simple beauty of droplets.

drops morning glory

In my former front yard in Sacramento, I enjoyed seeing the delicate, luminous raindrops on my rosebushes.

rain on rosebush

“Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.”

John Updike

I hope you enjoyed my depictions of rainy days. The floral images are shared for Cees Flower of the Day. Let’s switch gears and enjoy a coffee chat:

If we were having coffee today…

…I would tell you that significant progress was made on the house this week. You can see by our happy faces that we are thrilled with this progress.

Happy almost home

The skirting around the foundation was closed up and the contractor leveled all the excavated soil. The half-acre lot looks huge again in this view of the backyard below! Unlike most manufactured homes which tend to be built higher off the ground, our contractor chose to excavate deeper so we only have one or two steps into the doors of the home. We will appreciate fewer steps up and down in a few years!

Back view of house

Since rain is the theme and has to do with water, we started the application process and paid a substantial construction fee to our public utility company (water). I’m told they will install the water meter next week. Now the septic can get started and more interior work continues.

Please feel free to join Natalie the Explorer for her weekend coffee share.

Sunday Stills Photo Challenge Reminders

  • Please create a new post for the theme or link a recent one.
  • Title your blog post a little differently than mine.
  • Don’t forget to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries for this theme can be shared all week.
  • Use hashtag #SundayStills for sharing on social media.

Sunday Stills is a wonderful community of bloggers and photographers who desire to connect with one another. Each week I will share the links from the previous week’s post so you can continue to meet and support each other. And with that…please visit last week’s views of a white-washed world.

“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”

Ashley Smith

I look forward to your creative spin on your “rainy day” this week. You have the entire week to share for the theme. Each week I share your posts on my Facebook page Second Wind Leisure Perspectives or Twitter. Please follow me if you wish.

© 2021 Copyright—All rights reserved—secondwindleisure.com

Sunday Stills: A #White-Washed World

Whietwashed world

With winter still in full swing in the northern hemisphere, I wanted to challenge us all to look at and photograph objects that are the color white. If you live in or around snow, then show us your snowy scenes. If not, the color white is all around us. I’m still a newbie to living in snow, so I get that many of you are over it and don’t want to be reminded of winter white! Please indulge my rookie winter as I share a few images of snow.

A morning storm blew three inches of snow from every angle and created the white-washed view from my RV.

Whietwashed world

Despite living in an RV park, the white wash of snow makes just about any scene more beautiful.

Bare White Winter Trees

The powdery snow melts quickly in this high desert-alpine environment, leaving abstract snowy tracks from my own boot.

Making Snow Tracks

As March quickly approaches, I find myself longing for spring, now that temperatures this week are in the upper 40s. No complaints, but I do miss seeing random flowers on my daily walks. These echinacea daisies grew abundantly in early spring, while the paperwhites below grew in January in Northern California. Florals shared are today for Cee’s Flower of the Day.

white and gray flower
Vibrant paperwhites
Vibrant paperwhites

Since we are on the subject of “things that are white,” here is my lovely snowy egret captured with my lens during winter in San Diego a few years ago. Sharing for Lisa’s Bird Weekly.

Snowy egret stands in grace
Egret enjoying San Diego

This Just In…If We Were Having Coffee…

…I would tell you that as of 3:00 Saturday, we visited the property and saw that the interior crew has begun work on the inside of the house! Viewing from outside through the dining room slider door, this shows a “white-washed” view of the work being done. A little messy, but it will be gorgeous in a few weeks!

manufactured home interior work

Weird how things worked out timing-wise for the theme this week! I hope you enjoyed this brief coffee chat and I appreciate your indulgence and encouragement each week as I share our home building progress.

Sunday Stills Photo Challenge Reminders

  • Please create a new post for the theme or link a recent one.
  • Title your blog post a little differently than mine.
  • Don’t forget to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries for this theme can be shared all week.
  • Use hashtag #SundayStills for sharing on social media.

Bloggers and Their Feathered Friends

Sunday Stills is a wonderful community of bloggers and photographers who desire to connect with one another. Each week I will share the links from the previous post so you can continue to meet and support each other. And with that…join 37 bloggers who shared their fabulous bird photos and stories.

Please join me next week as we kick off March with the theme “Rainy Day.” For March themes, please visit my Sunday Stills Page.

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© 2021 Copyright—All rights reserved—secondwindleisure.com

Sunday Stills: #Feeding Those Birds!

Grosbeak Feeder

February is National Bird Feeding Month if you are wondering what inspired the Sunday Stills challenge theme this week.

Black-Billed Grosbeak

I shared a similar post last year about the need to provide food for the birds, especially in the winter months. By February in the northern hemisphere, seeds, grains and other feed are buried under snow and mud or already eaten.

In addition to sharing some images of birds at their feeders, I have a a couple of hawk images to share, in response to Lisa’s Bird Weekly challenge. The image is of the White-tailed Kite family we had living in our former neighborhood in Sacramento.

At twilight, as many as 20 kites would fly in search of their food–rodents, small birds, and small dogs (just kidding?). Make no mistake, these are medium-sized birds of prey, with wingspans from 35-40 inches.

Kites sharing the top of a tree

I posted this image of this Red-Tailed hawk flying high above the Valley of Fire State park near Las Vegas, Nevada. In search of a tasty rodent, no doubt!

Hawk flies over Valley of Fire state park

Now that the hawks are feeding, here are some images of birds in my former backyard in Sacramento.

No new bird photos yet from Spokane, except a few bald eagles.

Waiting is For the Birds

If we were having coffee today while waiting to feed the birds, I use the above expression to punctuate the slowness of waiting for our home to be built. Yep, every week I have an update, but this week, things finally got moving! Four weeks after our contractor scheduled the electrician to install the meter, the pedestal was set at the end of January. But, I still had to put in a new residential application with our electric company. I could not apply in early January because, as our address is brand new, it did not show up in Google Maps so the electric company had no way to verify the address. Um, really? What did the world do before Google Maps? This application process only took two days, but it took another two weeks to schedule a meeting with the engineer. On one of the snowiest days of the year so far, was the day we met him at the site.

During that time, the state of Washington inspected and passed the work. This week, the engineer approved everything, and gave our contractor the green light to install the conduit to the electrical box on the property, which was placed Wednesday. The crew was also busy working on the home, attaching plumbing lines and other work. I almost cried with relief to see work being done for a change.

I paid the construction fee Thursday morning to the electric company and the construction office called me an hour later and is in the process of scheduling someone to run the wiring. Keep your fingers crossed this happens within a few days. I still predict that it will be the end of March before we can completely move into the home. Did you enjoy some hot coffee while reading? Sure looks cold, doesn’t it?

Feeling Drained and Bird-Brained

As if this wasn’t enough, two major life events happened this week. Sadly, my mother-in-law passed away peacefully in her sleep on Valentine’s Day, at age 89, after suffering strokes and living with Alzheimer’s for several years. We attended a viewing on Saturday and a more formal memorial service is scheduled in March.

On a happy note, I started a new part-time job at Spokane Community College working with disabled students to help them integrate into the community. And you thought I was going to stay retired…nope! More about this in another post!

I’m adding this post to Denyse’s link up Life this Week!

Sunday Stills Photo Challenge Reminders

  • Please create a new post for the theme or link a recent one.
  • Title your blog post a little differently than mine.
  • Don’t forget to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries for this theme can be shared all week.
  • Use hashtag #SundayStills for sharing on social media.

Sunday Stills is a wonderful community of bloggers and photographers who desire to connect with one another. Each week I will share the links on the following post so you can continue to meet and support each other. And with that…

A Rosy Round-Up

Pease visit these 35 bloggers who shared their rosy-red images last week, and welcome our new friends to Sunday Stills!

Remember to feed the birds the rest of this month and beyond! I’m looking forward to your creative images and ideas!

Bitmoji Birding

© 2021 Copyright—All rights reserved—secondwindleisure.com

Where are You Going? Here’s to Strong Women

May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

With all the turmoil and sickness plaguing us these last few weeks, I want to take a moment to celebrate my daughters’ January birthdays.

If we were having coffee today, I would invite you in for a hot beverage of your choice (coffee’s ready!) and perhaps some virtual birthday cake.

Today is my oldest daughter’s 32nd birthday. My younger daughter turned 29 on the 21st. They spent many of their childhood and teen birthdays with just me, when I was a single mom raising them with little financial help.

There is something about our children’s birthdays that incites reflection.

Two years ago I wrote a reflective piece when my oldest turned 30, a milestone birthday for the both of us. Here is that post, Where are You Going, My Little Ones.

Through the grace of God, some luck and sheer grit, I raised these incredible women to be strong and independent. Perhaps you can see this in the photo of them fist-bumping after walking me down the aisle after my second wedding in 2013.

Daughters celebrating after marrying off their mom!

My oldest (pictured on the right) is an Aerospace Engineer living in the San Francisco Bay area and has happily worked for the same defense contractor since 2007. She put herself through 4 years at UCLA, graduating with honors, then receiving her master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering. She lives with her boyfriend and two cats and does not plan to have children.

My youngest (on the left), after a long, stressful educational journey, where she was academically expelled from university, ultimately clawed her way back in and graduated with her bachelor of science degree in Recreation Therapy. One year ago, she sat for the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist exam and passed on her first try.

She chose to move away from her friends to a town on the California Central Coast and now works for a State Hospital as a Recreation Therapist. She shares her first apartment with her dog and a fellow co-worker. She is not dating at the moment, but hopes to have children someday.

We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.Both daughters make more money at their young ages than I ever made at the height of my career.

And I am damn proud.

I want them to live their lives in a world where choices matter and living the strength of their convictions takes no effort.

My oldest daughter was severely affected by the outcome of the US elections. I sat helpless as she sobbed over the phone in her disappointment. Not to be stopped, she recently took part in the women’s march in San Francisco.

But even with all this recent turmoil, I am still a mother.

If you have children, enjoy them at every age. I am blessed to be a mom of these lovely, talented young women. Enjoy this lovely version of the song, Turn Around. Here is a sample of the lyrics:

“Where Are You Going (Turn Around)”

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you’re two,
Turn around and you’re four,
Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of my door.

Notes: by Harry Belafonte, Malvina Reynolds and Alan Greene. Published by Clara Music Publishing Corporation (ASCAP). Administered by Next Decade Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved.

I am also linking this song to Hugh’s Views & News 51 Weeks: 51 Songs from the Past.


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

 

 

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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 

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“That’s What Christmas Is All About, Charlie Brown” Redux

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown
Edited photo courtesy of my VHS cover.

In the spirit of the Christmas season, as families everywhere celebrate the holidays, I offer a re-post of one of my favorite and popular posts from 2015.


If we were having coffee on this fourth and final day of Advent, in which we celebrate love, we would sip a hot beverage while our church choir performs.advent candles for Christmas season

Traditionally the Advent candles are lit, one each Sunday, commemorating Hope, Peace, and Joy. Today the fourth candle, representing Love, is lit. In the middle of the candles is a fifth candle, called the Christ candle, which unites all the candles of Advent.


If we were having coffee, I would share with you my favorite Christmas-season TV show, A Charlie Brown Christmas. I grew up watching this and it is not Christmas for me if I miss this show. Thanks to DVDs and YouTube, I don’t. 2015 was the 50th anniversary of the beloved TV show.

Here is the heart of the story, and therefore, my message today.

Poor Charlie Brown suffers from depression and the rest of the gang is caught up in the commercialism of the season. In 1965, they embraced fake trees, materialism and distractions from the true meaning of Christmas. Nothing much has changed in 50 years, hmm?

During practice, as Charlie Brown endures derisive laughter over his sad little tree, a frustrated Charlie asks, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?

Linus begins to take center stage…”sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about…”

“…And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: (Linus drops his security blanket on purpose) for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'” (Luke 2:8-14 KJV)

Linus picks up his blanket and walks back towards Charlie Brown, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Smiling, with renewed hope, Charlie picks up the tree and walks back to his house and attempts to place an ornament on the tree as he reflects on the scripture Linus recited. Sadly, the tree bends under the weight of the ball. Charlie dejectedly mopes away proclaiming, “Everything I touch gets ruined!”

Linus and the gang follow him and see the poor tree. As Linus picks up the tree, wrapping his blanket around the base, he says, “I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really…

Wait for it…

…Maybe it just needs a little love.”

Like we ALL do. Just a little love.

Regardless of your beliefs, in a world desperately needing love, ponder these thoughts this holiday season. We all know the words to the song, “Oh Holy Night.” This is the truth of the final verse:

“Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.”


coffee cup celebrates weekend coffee shareThis is my last Weekend Coffee Share post of the year until January. Please stop by Part-Time Monster’s blog and enjoy a hot beverage with us.

Merry Christmas!

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Glimpses Book Review and Author Round-Up

Glimpses Book Review and Author RoundUp

Glimpses Book Review and Author RoundUp
original cover image used by permission

If we were having coffee today, I would share with you my review of a fabulous new book from one of my favorite bloggers!

To me there is nothing like enjoying a few moments with a hot beverage while reading a good book.

Hugh Reading Glimpses
This may be YOUR reaction while reading Glimpses. photo used by permission

Let me introduce you to Hugh Roberts, blogger at Hugh’s Views and News.

Roberts says that he chose the title Glimpses because “that is what you are about to get—glimpses into the everyday lives of people who are about to be led up a path they were not expecting.”

Not only is he a brand-new author, fellow bloggers tell me he is possibly the nicest gentleman you will ever meet in person or in the blogosphere!

You can view his book on Amazon.

5 starsHere is my 5-star Amazon review:

Glimpses is a delightfully twisted set of short stories inspired by author Roberts’ blog. If you follow his blog, you may recognize a few of his terrifying tales reminiscent of stories in the sci-fi genre of Twilight Zone or Outer Limits peppered with a dash of horror. “The Truth App” is the piece de resistance in this collection of 28 stories. Roberts’ biting wit and deft tale-telling will have you reading on the edge of your…well, your reading device! A great read that will have you begging Roberts for more!

If we were having coffee today, I would urge you, readers, to support your fellow bloggers’ publishing endeavors. I am proud to know a growing number of bloggers who have self-published works. Not only am I astounded by their writing abilities, but also by their encouragement of my writing as well. Many of these bloggers self-published their first book within the last year!

Judy Martin
Janice Wald Mostly Blogging
DG Kaye Writer
Ali Isaac
Sally G Cronin
Marsha Ingrao
Jo Robinson
Ronovan Writes
Toni Pike
Margaret Andrews
Marcia Meara
Tina Frisco
Linda Bethea
Jessica Edouard
Kathy Gottberg

And publishing in 2017:
Colleen Chesebro

Please stop by and visit their blogs where you will find links to their books. Give yourself or a friend a lovely holiday gift of a book. And if you enjoyed it, please leave a review on Amazon! We authors really appreciate those reviews.

coffee cup celebrates weekend coffee shareJoin Part-Time Monster’s blog for the Weekend Coffee Share!

 

 

Thanks for stopping by!

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My Mother’s Feet No Longer Touch the Earth

If we were having coffee this morning I would tell you how much I have missed sharing posts in the Weekly Coffee Share, and bid a Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms.

If we were having coffee, I would share my heart with you today.

On this Mother’s Day, I miss my mom, who sits in her wheelchair in a nursing home a few hundred miles from me. Further inspired by the weekly photo challenge Earth , I was reminded of Mother Earth and immediately thought of the mountains and the ocean.

My mother went to great lengths to make sure we regularly visited the beaches of San Diego as well as the trails of Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite. Places that are impossible for her to visit now.

Tuolumne Trails

I am not a writer of poetry, but I was able to scratch this out on impulse.

My Mother’s Feet No Longer Touch the Earth

Sitting in her wheeled chair, she vaguely remembers how her feet once touched…

…the mountain trails of Yosemite
…the wet sands of Pacific Beach
…the warm asphalt streets where she walked her dogs
…the backyard grass in care of her injured wild ducks
…the clean wood floors of her beloved home

Feet that touch the ground no more.

Time and dementia robbed me of her life, too young
Her feet unable to feel Mother Earth

Her favorite places still long to feel the touch of her feet again.

I can only retrace her steps and willingly I go…
For the rest of my life.

If we were having coffee, my wish for you is to enjoy your Mother’s Day, however that may be.

I love you, Mom.

We Chose You!

I got a set of new adorbable nieces through Adoption

Adoption
Just Adopted!

If we were having coffee today on this lovely Valentine’s Day, I would ask you to sit down for a few moments while I tell you the true story of how love conquered fear and loneliness and expanded our family. I dusted this post off out of the archives for just this very moment.

LOVE.

Nothing says “love” more than a family who adopts a child, let alone two.

When my brother married his wife 13 years ago, my sister-in-law already had two children of her own from her previous marriage. As both my niece and nephew grew up, and the house emptied, my bro and sis-n-law talked about adoption, since she was unable to bear more children. As they navigated the foster care system, they came upon two sisters who were in foster care and needed a permanent family.

My bro and sis-n-law originally wanted a baby, but when they saw the girls featured on a television news story, they fell in love. After the usual red-tape and legal hassles, the girls became permanent members of the family.

Big deal, right? Another successful adoption. While adoption is the crux of this story, the real story is about the power of love under extraordinary circumstances.

We already knew that my bro and sis-n-law were amazing parents. Sis-n-law’s daughter “KV” was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder at a young age and was medically treated, but not before she ended up in special education in school. After years of care and consistency, and dealing with KV’s bi-polar father and his shenanigans, KV was taken out of special education just before high school. That is a rarity. I saw first-hand what it took for my bro and sis-n-law to meet those challenges with love and amazing patience.

When the little girls were first fostered with my bro and sis-n-law, they required counseling, medical treatment, and a boat-load of patience. The girls had lived incredibly horrible childhoods, the youngest one being too young to remember much. The oldest one recently underwent hip replacement surgery to correct the results of this early childhood neglect and abuse. The rest of our family looked on in awe as bro and sis-n-law dealt with the strain of parenting these little girls.

Mini me; my niece and I share a lot in common.I have loved watching my nieces grow up and enjoy normal, wonderful lives (camping trips to Yosemite, girl scouts, swimming lessons, summer camps). The oldest, AW, is now 12 years old, in middle school and LOVES to read. For someone not related by blood, she is kind of a mini-me (pictured). TW, at nine, is a girlie-girl, full of drama with a big imagination. They are deeply loved by all of us!

Bro and sis-n-law are in the process of fostering another little girl. They hope to eventually adopt her as well.

I have asked myself and others WHY would they want to keep going down this road? Do they not want peace? Bro is over 50 years old and never had children of his own. Bro is a wonderful uncle to my two daughters. Of course he wants children to call his own. And now he has them.

The gift of extraordinary parenting falls on very few people. The gift of love also fell heavily on my bro and sis-n-law and I stand in awe of them daily. If they can keep bestowing love on children who need it, then who am I to question God’s will?

I believe they find peace in knowing that they have literally saved lives, and for that, my heart overflows with love.

adoption is love


Please join fellow bloggers in February’s “Love is in Da Blog, hosted by “Just Fooling Around with Bee.” Share your stories, poems, and photos about love.

Winter Weekend Coffee ShareYou can also join us for coffee and tea at Part-Time Monster’s Weekend Coffee Share!

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 

 

 

Stumbled, Broken and Inspired: Weekend Coffee Share

Travel to find new hope and renew the mind

Travel to find new hope and renew the mind

Or, “What I did on My Winter Vacation”

If I say my blogging break is over and is now past tense, is my break broken? Well, ponder that while we have coffee this morning and we “break” our fast.

Yes, my blogging break is over. You saw that I did manage to post for the weekly photo challenge, which has always been my best day of blogging. If I did nothing else on this blog but post for the weekly photo challenge, I could still enjoy a rather successful blog in terms of readership.

But…

…I like to do more than that. I actually like to write. I managed to write some content for the non-fiction book over my break, but leisure reared its lovely head and beckoned me to SUP, windsurf and relax on the beach in Mexico. The photo is of me snorkeling.

If we were having coffee, I would also tell you that I had to prepare quite a bit of curriculum for my new course that starts at the end of January, and I spent about 12 hours of vacation time working on that. As a professor, I like to be prepared. My class teaches leisure education to new recreation majors, and, ironically, I created and typed most of their assignments from my beach chair. Nothing wrong with that.

My break gave me some time to find some much needed inspiration. At this time last year, I was enjoying my first month of retirement (no part-time teaching) and had gleefully committed to blogging every single day. It helped me develop great habits and gave me a framework for using an editorial calendar and remaining consistent with my blogging schedule, now whittled to three days per week.

I also had a chance to read some very inspirational posts. There is nothing like the motivation of a brand new year to dust off the blog and write fresh content. I recently read a post about “Stress Free Blogging” and it mentions taking a break and making good use of time management. Check it out on Mostly Blogging.

If we were having coffee, I would explain whaI mean by “stumbled?” If you haven’t yet heard, Stumble Upon is a web site where visitors choose and “like” content that appeals to them. Like any social media site, bloggers’ content may be “stumbled” which helps bring more readers to their blogs. Bloggers cannot stumble their own blog posts. Having a community of bloggers who love to read your content and choose to share on social media will help promote your posts. You have to reciprocate. This is one of the reasons why blogging is fun. Yes, it takes work, but it is worth it.

But I digress, a little…one of my posts was stumbled by a couple of great bloggers which resulted in 56 views. Not a huge number, by any means, but significant to me. I created a Stumble Upon account and loaded the Stumble bar. When I read a blog I like, I add it to my list then select the thumbs-up icon. It takes 6 seconds. I have committed to using this to help promote great blog posts!

Indeed, blogging takes time, energy and commitment. Using social media and other ways to promote our own blogs as well as others can pay off in many ways!

What inspires you to continue your blogging journey?


Fall-weekend-coffee-shareThanks to Part-Time Monster for hosting the Weekend Coffee Share feature.

Weekend Coffee Share: That’s What Christmas is All About, Charlie Brown.”

Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14

If we were having coffee on this fourth and final Sunday of Advent, in which we celebrate love, we would sip a hot beverage while our choir performs.

Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14

Traditionally the Advent candles are lit, one each Sunday, commemorating Hope, Peace, and Joy. Today the fourth candle, representing Love, is lit. In the middle of the candles is a fifth candle, called the Christ candle, which unites all the candles of Advent.

My friend Janet Sunderland, on her blog Community of the Incarnation, sums up the Advent season so eloquently:

“Merry Christmas. And may the light of the Christ, renewed again, shine from your life to offer the peace that passes all understanding.”

If we were having coffee, I would remind you that this year is the 50th anniversary of the beloved TV show, A Charlie Brown Christmas. I grew up watching this TV show and it is not Christmas for me if I miss this show. Thanks to DVDs and YouTube, I don’t.

Here is the heart of the story, and therefore, my message today.

Poor Charlie Brown suffers depression and the rest of the gang is caught up in the commercialism of the season. In 1965, they embraced fake trees, materialism and distractions from the true meaning of Christmas. Nothing much has changed in 50 years, hmm?

During their Christmas play practice, as Charlie Brown endures derisive laughter over his sad little tree, a frustrated Charlie asks, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?

Linus Tell it Like it Is
image from Internet

Linus begins to take center stage… “sure Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about…”

“…And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: (Linus drops his security blanket on purpose);

for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'” (Luke 2:8-14 KJV)

Linus picks up his blanket and walks back towards Charlie Brown, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

With renewed hope, Charlie picks up the tree and walks back to his house and attempts to place an ornament on the tree as he reflects on the scripture Linus recited. Sadly, the tree bends under the weight of the ball. Charlie dejectedly mopes away proclaiming “Everything I touch gets ruined!”

Linus and the gang follow him and see the poor tree. As Linus picks up the tree, wrapping his blanket around the base, he says, “I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really…

Wait for it…

…Maybe it just needs a little love.”

Like we ALL do. Just a little love.

Regardless of your beliefs, in a world desperately needing love, ponder these thoughts this holiday season.

We all know the words to “Oh Holy Night.” This is the truth of the final verse: “Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.”


 

This is my last Weekend Coffee Share post of the year until mid-January.

Please stop by Part-Time Monster’s blog and enjoy a hot beverage with us. You, too can be part of the gang!

Weekend Coffee Share: Waiting for Peace during Advent Season

advent candles for Christmas season

advent candles for Christmas season

If we were having coffee, I would ask you to sit with me for a moment and chat about our difficulties in waiting. How do you like your coffee or tea?

Do you like to wait? I don’t. To me it is time wasted. I usually multi-task while waiting, by reading, doodling, deleting stuff from my phone…you know. I am very impatient. Definitely a character flaw.

If we were having coffee, I would remind you that a host of bloggers have posted about the recent, tragic events in the form of mass shootings and terrorism all over the world. As our hearts go out to the victims and families who have suffered injury and death, we simply long for peace.

Unfortunately we all know the world will go the way it will go, not as you or I would have it. So we must wait.

Along the continuum of religious belief, whether Christian, Jew, Muslim or atheist, or somewhere in between, you and I will wait for peace. We may wait our entire lives. Our children will likely wait their entire lives.

I have no answers for you. Only you can decide how you can find peace.

My beliefs help me cope with the lack of peace in our world, which brings me to this question…

…If we were having coffee, I would ask you if you celebrate Advent? If you do not, take a moment to read the rest of this post.

The advent season is also about waiting. During advent, we’re reminded of all those centuries when God’s people awaited the fulfillment of God’s promises, the years of uncertainty, the time of doubt.

“The time before Christmas is Advent, a season of preparation for Christmas. Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “visit.”

From the blog of Patheos by Mark D Roberts.

On this second Sunday of Advent, as Christians light the second candle, we celebrate and pray for peace. Now more than ever we need peace in light of recent events. Regardless of your spiritual orientation, as humans, we long for peace on this planet.

“We can bring peace to these dark days. We can be a light for others to see by.”

Janet Sunderland. Community of the Incarnation

If you would like to know more about the celebration of Advent, read Fascinating Mystery for more information.

May we all find the peace we crave during this time of reflection, regardless of the wait.


 

WintercoffeeshareJoin Part-Time Monster’s event Weekend Coffee Share and let’s have some coffee (or tea).