Sunday Stills: Lighting Up the #Night

Sunday Stills Night

This week, as the northern hemisphere languishes in gloomy, shortened Winter days, let’s explore night photography. For those enjoying sunny summers or climates, it gets dark somewhere, right?

I admit right off that I am no expert when it comes to night photography. I know there are all kinds of aperture settings to capture images at night. Here is a useful article that explains the different types of night photography.

For now, lets explore what we have.

On Christmas night we got a record 8 inches of snow, adding to the three inches that previously fell. Now for all you snow experts out there, please indulge me a moment. I stepped outside to let my dog out into the backyard and the night sky at 9:00 pm was lit up!

Night Light

Where we are staying in suburbia, the area is surrounded by nearby businesses a few blocks away. Between the white snow on the ground and the clouds, punctuated by street lights, it looked more like twilight than night. I took these with my Galaxy Note phone and did very little editing. I walked outside and needed no extra light.

Bright Snowy Night

I know, I’m easily amused. Believe me, I have been in plenty of snowy, night conditions at Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevadas, and with several feet of snow on the ground near the casinos at Stateline, it was still very dark.

Has that been your experience if you have been outside on a dark, snowy night?

Outdoor lights can also illuminate objects like the leaves below.

Backyard porch light illuminates delicate Fall leaves

Ambient light from buildings and other outdoor venues also lends enough light to an image.

Cal State Capitol
California State Capitol

Two years ago I took a photography class to learn more about my Lumix camera and all its settings. The instructor worked with me to get my first moon shot. This was taken on Manual mode and I braced the camera on top of the fence, looked up, and put it on full zoom.

Moon shot

Don’t worry if night photography is not your thing. You can interpret the theme in any way that works for you and your creative energy.

Thank you to so many who shared their 2020 retrospective last week! I always enjoy blogging in the new year as it seems motivation abounds! Please welcome bloggers who joined Sunday Stills for the first time this week.

I’m linking “up” with Becky B’s SquareUp challenge.

Next week we are back to my new-ish monthly feature, with the theme and color “glacier blue.” Hope to see you then!

Have a great week!

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Sunday Stills: #Early to Rise

Winter Sunrise

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

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

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

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

Vince Lombardi, American Football Coach

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

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

University classroom
Early to arrive in the classroom

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

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

Winter Sunrise

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

Baja Sunrise
Early Baja Sunrise

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

Here is a pic of my neighbor’s poppy.

California Poppies

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

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

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

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

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Sunday Stills: Unexpectedly #Frozen

Ice Frozen in Fountain

This week’s theme for Sunday Still is frozen! I figure we can endure one more week of winter scenes and freezing weather in some places, then start dreaming of spring!

This week’s images demonstrate snow and ice appearing in unlikely places at unexpected times of the year.

Most of you already know of my slightly frozen winter road trip to the so-called warm American Southwest.

Upon our arrival to Sedona we strolled around and came across this frozen fountain outside nearby art galleries. At this point, it was cold but had not snowed yet. Despite the frozen water, some of it was still flowing. Photo credit goes to my husband!

Ice Frozen in Fountain

The next morning, we experienced unexpected snow in Sedona depicted here by my happy husband (he liked the snow for a few minutes). We did pack for snowy conditions, fortunately, but this much snow really caught us and everyone else by surprise!

Man in the snow
Hans enjoying the Sedona snow

This second image shows a beautiful winter scene outside my brother-in-law’s home in Spokane, Washington over Veteran’s Day weekend, in mid-November. We expected the temperatures to be cold there, but this was the first snowfall of the season and it arrived early for this area.

Spokane Snow

This poor daffodil was unexpectedly snowed upon in early May in South Lake Tahoe. The day before was a warm, sunny day as we left Sacramento. The snow started in the early afternoon and covered the ground for several hours. And to think I entertained the idea of bringing my stand-up paddleboard along!

Daffodils in the snow
Unhappy frozen daffodils

Whatever your feelings for snow scenes and all things frozen, the subject matter makes for beautiful photos!

“Only mountains can feel the frozen warmth of the sun through snow’s gentle caress on their peaks”
― Munia Khan

This week, show us your version of frozen for Sunday Stills!

My sympathies to all who are enduring freezing weather conditions. Stay warm and safe!

VIVA Las Vegas: A Positive End to the Winter Road Trip

VIva Las VEgas Graphic
VIva Las VEgas Graphic

This is the final installment of our Winter Road Trip to Arizona and Nevada. To read how it began, click Part One and Part Two .

Once I cancelled the rest of our reservations on New Year’s Day while still in Sedona, and we agreed on the decision to end our road trip with a few days’ stay in Las Vegas, I caught myself humming that Elvis Presley tune “Viva Las Vegas.” I felt a load off my mind as we waited for the sun to melt the snow so we could leave Rancho Sedona RV park. There was still significant snow through which to drive.

View of Rancho Sedona Campground
Pink arrow marks our trailer/truck

Afternoon Arrival to Sam’s Town RV Park

After a six-hour drive from Sedona to Las Vegas, we pulled into Sam’s Town RV Park at about 3pm. Check in was swift and we received a free night’s stay for booking 5 nights. We also got casino discounts for Sam’s Town Casino a few steps away from the RV park. Although we missed happy hour due to unhooking and setting up, we ate dinner at the food court using some of the discounts. Of course, we played a little at the casino and I managed to break even.

Sams Town RV Park
A nice spot on the corner!

The next day, Thursday, we mostly did nothing but acquaint ourselves with the park amenities, which included two dog runs, three restrooms with free showers, clubhouse, pool and a hot tub. We then shopped for a variety of items, visiting Wal-Mart (ugh), Costco and Sportsman’s Warehouse.

Note to self: Don’t shop at Wal-mart during the holidays, especially in the afternoon. Need I say more?? The place was so crowded I actually got hit by another shopper’s cart! We attempted to buy tire chains, but the genius cashier informed us they only had one box left which contained one chain. “Don’t you buy them that way?” she asked, then her snarky comment after, “we don’t need chains in the desert.” Had I cared at that point I would have showed her a photo of snowy Sedona, but I believe she wouldn’t have known where Sedona was anyway.

What to Do in Las Vegas

Other than gambling, what else is there to do in Las Vegas?

On my list was a trip to the Hoover Dam and maybe nearby Lake Mead. I also wanted to shop for some turquoise jewelry. I still wanted to try to drive back to the Grand Canyon, but the roads were still iffy and the holiday crowds were still around. I also had wanted to visit Red Rock National Monument just west of Vegas.

A funny thing happened when I looked on Google. I found Valley of Fire State Park just 60 miles north-east! It looked very similar to Antelope Canyon with its twisted and striated red sandstone rock formations! And a slot canyon to boot!

The Valley of Fire

Friday was the day we planned to drive to Valley of Fire State Park. What a relief to drive on dry roads!

When we arrived, we stopped at the Visitor Center and then drove along the suggested route. The red sandstone formations are incredible in both size, variety and colors.

Posing in Valley of Fire Arch

Nevada State Parks have few restrictions on bringing dogs on the hikes with us (unlike many trails in the National Parks). Someone along the sandy, winding trail described Aero as agile!

Red Rocks and Dogs
Hans with Brodie and agile Aero!

Since I didn’t get to tour Antelope Canyon in Northern Arizona, we headed for the White Domes area which boasts its own slot canyon! It did not disappoint. In the photo below, you get the idea of the sheer size by looking at the tiny hikers in the lower right corner.

Red Cliffs
Immensity of the slot canyon

The holidays crowds were soon out and about, and we ended our sightseeing in the early afternoon. There was still so much to see! Check out the website here.

It was a bright sunny day and the temperature rose to 66 degrees! What a difference from just two days before in Sedona! Isn’t that how winter weather in the Southwest desert is supposed to be?

We got back in time to enjoy the Friday night steak and seafood buffet. We raced over thinking the lines would be ridiculous, but no one was in line! The weekend after a major holiday like Christmas and New Year’s sees more people staying home. Lucky for us!

The food was great. I noticed our waitress wearing turquoise rings and she told me she bought them in Boulder City, near Hoover Dam. I added that spot to my list!

Another Blogger Meet-Up

Terri and Maria
Lunch with Maria in Las Vegas

We met Maria and her cute daughter for lunch on Saturday and had a great time chatting about how she liked living in Las Vegas. Maria had recently moved there from Northern California, a couple of hours north of Sacramento. In case you’re wondering, Maria is Ms Zen from Sagittarius Viking! Check out her recent visit to Valley of Fire State Park.

After lunch and still on my quest to find turquoise jewelry, we attempted to drive to a couple of pawn shops and GPS sent us right through the Vegas strip! Just as crowded as I remembered!

Of course, sticking to our theme of winter weather, it rained Saturday afternoon and evening. It even snowed on Mt Charleston!

The Dam People in Boulder City

Boulder Dam Hotel

Sunday, our last full day, was spent driving about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas to a town called Boulder City. This town was originally built in the 1920s to house the workers and their families who built the Hoover Dam. Boulder City is one of two Nevada Cities that does not allow gambling!

Hans loves antique shopping and found a bonanza of goodies in the local antique shops. I found some beautiful sterling silver turquoise rings at an antique store and at a jewelry specialty store. The store owners were so helpful, honest and friendly!

Turquoise Ring Collection

It was a cold sunny day with a bit of wind. We thought we might drive over to Hoover Dam, but we simply ran out of time.

Saying Goodbye

Once we got back, I started packing the non-essentials while we still had daylight to get ready for Monday’s long drive back to Sacramento.

Our last evening was spent warming up leftovers for dinner in the microwave and utilizing the hot tub at the clubhouse. A fun and fitting end to our 12-day Arizona/Nevada road trip.

Sam's Town Sign

Our drive home took 11 hours. We drove home the same way we came, through I-15, back up through Kramer Junction and Tehachapi Pass with no incidents. This was our view of the Sierra Nevadas at a rest stop on Hwy 99 in California’s Central Valley, a few hours from home.

Snowy mountains
A look at the snowy Sierras on the drive home.

As I reflected on this road trip, I was extremely disappointed that I missed out on seeing Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks, as well as camping at Lake Powell, which was the gateway for visiting Monument Valley, Navajo Nation and Antelope Canyon.

We learned to be flexible and to go with the flow. Arizona is not very far from where we live in Northern California, and we intend to go back and try again, whether we pull the trailer, or drive and stay in hotels.

The Positives of Our Road Trip?

  • Enjoying the Arizona desert area and appreciating its beauty
  • Spending time with two bloggers and their families
  • Getting and taking advice from folks who have traveled there
  • Learning about the trailer and its features
  • Becoming a better traveler by paying attention to surroundings and using technology for fuel stops
  • Feeling a sense of peace as hard decisions had to be made to change the itinerary
  • Discovering more about the Las Vegas area with its surrounding desert beauty and points of interest
  • Learning to expect the unexpected!

The Sunday Stills Photo Challenge is hosted by Hugh this week. Sunday Stills will be back in my hands beginning Feb 3. More Valley of Fire photos!

Sharing today’s photos for Snow’s Friendly Friday photo challenge!

Thank you for taking this journey with me. Has anything beyond your expectations ever happened to you while traveling?

Sunday Stills: Something #Red

Sunday Stills Red Graphic

During the holiday season, it is nearly impossible to find something red to photograph, right?


While I prefer green, the reds of the season lend a dramatic contrast to white snow, lush evergreens, and cold, dreamy blues!

I had planned my usual macros (see below), which are always fun to photograph and edit!

But by kismet and luck, my featured image below (also shared for Becky B’s timesquare) is my attempt at a wedding photo of our dear, next door neighbors who held their wedding in their backyard last week! My hubby thought I should take a couple of photos of them and have the image printed on canvas as a wedding gift.

Wedding photo

Instead of purchasing other artists’ prints, I found this website to print my own images onto canvas or acrylic. In addition to this wedding photo, I had three of my favorites made into canvas prints to be framed (or not) and hung on my own walls. I use CanvasDiscount (no affiliate here, just a satisfied customer!).

It is doubtful I would explore wedding photography as a profession, but I am more than pleased at how this one turned out. At the time of this post, they have not yet received their surprise gift! They chose not to have a dedicated photographer at the wedding, so I was so glad to make this portrait of them!

Now for more reds!

Whether or not your image is holiday-themed, show us something red for Sunday Stills!

Sunday Stills Red Graphic

This post is my last Sunday Stills post of 2018! There is no challenge on December 30.

As I will be traveling extensively during the last week in December and first two weeks in January, Sunday Stills will be hosted by Hugh and Carol. More details on my Sunday Stills Page.

Thank you for a fabulous 2018 with Sunday Stills! I wish you Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!



Winter Solstice Moon

Moon shot

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. This year, the solstice arrives one day before the full moon.

I couldn’t resist posting my full moon shot for Becky B’s December Squares Challenge! Click on the link for her round-up of posts.

Moon shot

Friday also marks the astronomical beginning of winter, even though meteorologists and climatologists view winter as starting Dec. 1, which is the start of the coldest three months in the Northern Hemisphere. After the solstice, the days slowly start to get longer again. USA Today

I admit to using this same moon photo in a previous Sunday Stills post for Bucket List Images. It’s been too cloudy for moon shots lately. May as well make those rare images work a little harder!


Sunday Stills: #Festive!

Festive Graphic

Nothing is more festive than the decorations and lights people use for their holiday celebrations!

That is our theme for this week’s Sunday Stills photo challenge!

Last week we looked at traditions as we explored Christmas light displays in some of the neighborhoods with my darling Japanese exchange student! Here are some images.

Festive Purple Lights

Quick selfie with Ayaka! There were a lot of people enjoying the lights!

Seeing the Lights

A festive wreath adorns Pacific Beach’s Crystal Pier at Christmas time, even as surfers hit the waves.

Wreath on Pier

A festive pic of Aero from a couple of years ago! He thinks he is a gift (and he is!).

Aero thinks he is a gift...he is!

What puts you in a festive mood?



Winter Macro in #DecemberSquares

snowy bough

I don’t always get to see snow, but when I do, I am so happy to capture an image that depicts a winter day.

snowy bough

We still have some colorful autumn leaves hanging on for dear life, but wintertime is here!

The pine stays green in winter, wisdom in hardship. – Norman Douglas

Submitting for December Squares and Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Close Up or Macro.


Friday’s Frosted Festival of #Leaves

Fallen frosted leaves

As Autumn begins to wane in most places, I wanted to share two photos of what was left of Autumn in Spokane, Washington, from our visit last weekend.

Fallen frosted leaves

In the featured image above, the last of the leaves abruptly fell overnight after the snow.

Before the snow fell, it was a brisk 29 degrees when we went for our morning walk.

frosted leaves

Here in Northern California, Fall is alive and well, but the smoke from the Camp Fire continues to fill the Central Valley with extremely unhealthy air. College campuses and schools have been closed all week due to the incredibly unhealthy air.

The extreme conditions make it difficult to get out and take photos of the peak of Autumn here. My prayers go out to the victims of the wildfires and to the brave men and women firefighters continuing to battle the fires.

Festival of Leaves

Cee’s Flower of the Day (FOTD)

Autumn SIGNature

Fitness is Still Where You Find It

Finding Your Fitness

Finding Your Fitness

January is the time of year when folks think and do something about their fitness and exercise regimens.

It is very easy to give up on attempts at exercise when the weather is freezing cold or you and everyone around you are dealing with illnesses and colds. Even I have to force myself to get that gym workout in every other day, and yes, my dogs always need walking.

I am thankful I have my Fitbit to gently nag me to get my 10,000 steps in every day. Do I get them all in? Not every day, but that external motivation does push me a little but further.

With my school schedule set up differently this semester, I can take my favorite Friday morning yoga class again. Boy do I need it!

I end up parking far away on campus from my office so that I have to walk a ways. Every little bit of activity that you can sneak in every day counts for more benefits than you think.

I am sharing some older posts that may help and motivate you toward your fitness goals.

Please check out this previous post. Comments are closed here.

Original image by Scott Webb via Unsplash

via Fitness is Still Where You Find It

Ten Ways I Beat the Winter Blues

How I Dealt with SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder

How I Dealt with SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you reside on planet Earth, you are aware of the storms and wild weather that have affected the U.S. and beyond. California has made the news, not for its famous 5-year drought, but for the record rain and mountain snowfall the entire state has experienced all winter.

The rain and foul weather is a blessing…and a curse. A blessing because the state desperately needs the rain and snow-pack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

A curse because… 1. It’s too much water too fast (see link on Oroville Dam); 2. Gloom, rain, clouds and lack of sunlight affect many people and may lead to a form of depression in a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD for short.

Winter rain pours from the sky on a dismal gray day
This much rain poured from the sky and from my roof recently!

The Mayo Clinic website suggests “The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression. A drop or change in both serotonin and melatonin (neurotransmitters) levels can bring on seasonal depression.”

Fellow blogger, Sally Cronin, writes extensively about Seasonal Affective Disorder in her blog, Smorgasbord: Variety is the Spice of Life.

This insidious condition does not affect everyone. You would think that by my living in “sunny” California, SAD would not be an issue. I’m here to tell you, um, yes, it’s an issue.

Since 2011, our winters have been mild. We’ve seen much more sun January through March—our typical rainy season. Sure, we had a decent amount of rain in November and December in those years, enough to keep the Sierra ski resorts open for business. In 2011, we even had record snowfall that kept snow in the Sierras well into June. After that? Nada! No wonder I have not experienced the “winter blues” in a while!

What is SAD? Here are some symptoms:

  • Lack of energy—feeling overwhelmed and helpless. These are confusing and horrible feelings for a rather positive person like myself.
  • Feeling guilty or worried—heightened anxiety. I found myself frowning and unconsciously grinding my teeth. Why??
  • Weakened immune system. I got two severe colds in December and January. I am rarely sick, so getting two colds within a two-month time-frame now makes sense.
  • Experiencing sleep disturbances, lack of sleep or the ability to socialize. This did not affect me that much, thank goodness, or you might be visiting me in the hospital!
  • Irritability—Having a lower threshold of crankiness and impatience. Oooh, no wonder I’ve snapped at my poor hubby lately.
  • Overeating and weight gain (or craving carbs and sugar more than usual). After a year of successfully using Weight Watchers to lose 30 pounds, I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t gain any weight at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but started craving carbs and sugar in mid-January and gained two pounds. What was different? It also didn’t help that we celebrated a few family birthdays in January.

“Many (may also) attribute these symptoms to the lack of vitamin D in the winter. To help battle these symptoms, it is advised to get as much natural sunlight as possible; which may mean heading outdoors in and around the lunch hour, or during a bright winter day. Even on the coldest of days, if the sun is out, bundling up, and heading outside for a least an hour, can improve SAD symptoms significantly.” 10 Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

It would be unwise of me to live in the far northern hemisphere without access to a sunlamp.

All of this explains my feelings of being disorganized, always overwhelmed, and unable to multi-task (my super-power). It also explains lately why I am slow to read blogs, comment and share on social media. The low energy just makes it difficult to engage. So, I apologize now for my sluggishness, and soon I will be back to my bubbly self and to your blogs!

I now have a new appreciation for the depression and anxiety my daughter went through in the last few years. She told me, “people would ask, what do you have to be depressed about? That made me even more depressed and anxious.” For her, graduating from college and landing her first job with the State of California pulled her out of her anxiety.

How did I beat SAD, or the “Winter Blues?”

Spring brings clouds of blossoms
Spring brings clouds of blossoms

1. First, simply recognizing the symptoms. I had all but forgotten them because of the (abnormal) winter sunlight. Even reading about the symptoms, it still did not occur to me that I was currently suffering.
2. Talking it over with family members went a long way toward acknowledging my problem. For many, depression is difficult to discuss and carries a social stigma.
3. Getting on with my life and not letting anxiety and blue moods get the best of me. Now I have a better understanding of my youngest daughter’s anxiety in the last few years and what she went through. It is easier than you might think to get caught up in these moods,  leading to Number 4.
4. Not giving up or giving in to defeat, or making rash decisions about life events and hobbies that can’t be undone. It was literally on the precipice of giving up writing and blogging altogether, thinking “I have nothing left to share.”
5. Recognizing that the blues and doldrums will affect me occasionally and strive to pay better attention to those cues.
6. Opening the blinds and letting more light into the rooms. Yes, that means I will see dust and know that “spring cleaning” is imminent. But that’s OK.
7. Just getting outside and letting a little sunshine wash over me. March is here and with it, stronger, longer sunny days. The sun arcs a little higher in the sky each day.
8. Pulling favorite spring clothing items out of my closet and gazing upon their bright colors (“oh, hello, pretty pink shirt—I can’t wait to wear you”).
9. Investing time in small indulgences like buying a new, brighter lip gloss or new make-up always makes me feel better. And it is definitely time for a pedicure!
10. Keeping within the structure of my fitness and weight loss routine. Exercising regularly and eating healthy foods are critical to normal functions.

“Since I started writing this post, we have had four days of wonderful sunshine! I can already feel the difference!”

What should I do for future gray days?

  • Mark a big SAD on my calendar in mid-November as a reminder. The frenetic pace of preparing for the holidays may mask the symptoms. It did in my case, leaving me hollow and empty right after New Year’s.
  • Plan a sunny winter trip. Next January, I hope to spend three weeks in San Diego and Baja, Mexico. Those three weeks I spent last January 2016 in the warm sun, were just enough to stave off that year’s SAD symptoms. I better start saving for an annual January trip! I’m thinking Baja and Hawaii in alternating years!

I do not want to make light of this potentially serious situation. Depression in any form is dangerous and, if undiagnosed, can eventually lead to health problems, feelings of suicide and death. If you are experiencing the “winter blues” and the feelings are not diminishing with the coming spring and sunlight, I urge you to see your doctor right away.

I am also linking this post to Colleen Chesebro’s blog, A Mindful Journey

My haiku and image to celebrate the end of SAD!
My Haiku: Spring blossoms flutter, whisking away winter blues, hope springs eternal.

Have you experienced the “winter blues?” Please feel free to share in the comments what helped you lift your mood.


Seasons Beneath My Feet

Step carefully, spring green beneath my feet, but watch out for the ladybug!

“I think that to one in sympathy with nature, each season, in turn, seems the loveliest.”
― Mark Twain

For the weekly photo challenge, my photos show the Seasons  beneath my feet.

Step carefully, spring green beneath my feet, but watch out for the ladybug!
Step carefully, spring is green beneath my feet, but watch out for the ladybug!

“Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

“Winter brings a colder palette with more heavy blue and violet, Fall has substantial more reddish and brown, Summer brings a variation of pastel colours and Spring fresh green and tangerine.” ― Siren Waroe

“In the summer heat the reapers say, “We have seen her dancing with the autumn leaves, and we saw a drift of snow in her hair.”
― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Vibrant in Winter

A bright pink tent beckons vibrant college students to explore leisure activities on campus.

Vibrant is the theme of this week’s WordPress photo challenge. What could be more welcome on a cold, gray winter day than pops of color in the landscape? After teaching my Friday morning class today, having just seen “vibrant” as the theme, I saw the colorful tents on campus lined up for Greek week activities.

A bright pink tent beckons vibrant college students to explore leisure activities on campus.

Seeing these bright pink colors against the drab, gray backdrop of the university campus in its winter glory really lifted my spirits. Even on a dreary Friday morning, students still engage, chat and hurry to classes eager to be done for the day.

One definition of vibrant is “pulsating with life, vigor, or activity.”

But vibrancy goes a step further beyond the visual.  Students also have the opportunity to sign up for clubs and other campus activities to keep up their vibrant leisure lifestyle when done with classes and homework.

This photo is also submitted for Jennifer Nicole Wells Color Your World challenge “Cotton Candy.”

Even in my own front yard, there is a hint of vibrancy. I was surprised a few days ago to see my cute paper-whites blooming!

Vibrant Paperwhites

Leisurely Thursdays: Winter Cycling Tips

Winter Cycling Safety. Reflective, bright clothing.

As winter draws near in the Northern Hemisphere, avid cyclists and even recreational bicyclists still enjoy their rides, whether for fitness, fun, or transportation. For my Leisurely Thursday post, I share tips to help you with your fall and winter cycling experience. In temperate climates like California or Florida, where cycling can be enjoyed almost year round, fall and winter can still bring surprises to your ride.Cyclists ride in twilight

Time Changes and Darkness

Be mindful of the time of day you ride your bike. As winter sets in, there is a lot less daylight. Plan your ride for daylight hours when possible. Motorists have enough trouble seeing cyclists in broad daylight, let alone in dawn or dusk hours. Get a good headlight and use it when the sun is low in the sky. You need a flashing red tail-light so others can see you. If you commute and ride at night, take extra care and use as much light as possible.

Darkness may also bring on undesirable loiterers. Urban bike trails can be places where homeless build their camps. Although law enforcement tries to minimize and mitigate this practice, campers and loiterers are more prolific especially in temperate geographical areas where winters are not as harsh. If you see suspicious activity, quickly ride past and avoid stopping. Even in daylight hours, be mindful of where you stop for a break. Assaults happen to both women and men.

My hubby recently experienced a flat tire near dusk. Even with his tire kit, it still took him longer than expected and darkness was upon him before his ride was done. He went out the next day and bought the headlight!


Fall and early winter can be great times for riding long distances because of the cooler air. While it may feel great to ride extra miles in 50 degree temps, the urge to drink water will lessen due to the cold. Force yourself to drink more water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Our area experiences the dry north winds which feel cool, but are very dehydrating. Also, bring food for a long ride. In cold air, you will burn more calories.

Fall and winter weather can be capricious and unsettled. If you plan a long ride, check the local weather for changes. What may start out as a warm sunny day can end in stormy, rainy weather.

Changes in seasons and weather can also add more debris on the roads and trails. Autumn will find leaves, nuts, and other tree-fall that can be dangerous when ridden over. If you ride on urban trails, be mindful of rodents that are hoarding nuts for their hibernation and winter nap. Squirrels are known to dart out suddenly onto roads and trails and can cause accidents to unsuspecting cyclists. Other animals may be seen on the roads and trails, like deer, waterfowl and other creatures foraging for food.

In late fall and winter, ice and snow can be issues. Watch for black ice on roads and urban trails and keep your eyes on the road. It is easy to get distracted while riding and fiddling with your phone, and therefore miss seeing the acorn or ice patch that takes you down.

More road debris can flatten a tire quickly, so be sure to pack your tire change kit, even if it is just a short leisurely ride. Pack two tubes just to be safe.

Clothing and Gear

Layer your clothing so that if you feel warm, you can change, then add it when you feel cold again. If your arms and legs are bare, use sunscreen, even on a cool, cloudy day. UVA and UVB rays still penetrate cloud layers and can cause sunburn. Lotion helps with windburn as well.

Wear bright, reflective clothing to be more easily seen by motorists. This can be added as a top layer over winter garb. Protect your mobile phone in plastic or something to protect it from moisture. Even if you wear your phone next to your body, wrap it, so perspiration doesn’t destroy it.

Winter Cycling Safety. Reflective, bright clothing.Many retail stores sell great winter cycling clothing. I’ve seen lots of riders add arm and leg warmers, helmet covers and toe warmers to their normal gear to help fend off the cold. Since my hubby is bald on top, he wears a bandana under his bike helmet to keep his head warm. Wearing a headband under your helmet also keeps your ears warm. Wearing gloves is also recommended to keep your hands warm and responsive.

I like to wear sunglasses when I ride, even on cloudy days, to protect  my eyes from wind, rain, grit and bugs. The cold air always makes my eyes tear, so I also carry a small handkerchief with me. Clear lenses are also available from your retailer.

Before you head out on your winter cycling experience, check with your local bike retail store and get tips from the pros. And of course, have your bicycle checked thoroughly and tuned up if necessary. Many cyclists change their tires to a more robust tread. Add a mudguard to prevent water and mud from hitting your backside and riders directly behind you.

Depending upon where you live (ride), your bike can get very dirty from mud, debris and salt from the road. When your ride is done, clean the chains, brakes, and tires as soon as possible.

If you absolutely cannot go out on your bike, at least go to the gym and ride the stationary bike as a LAST resort!

For those in the Southern Hemisphere who are experiencing spring and soon, summer, please read this post…15 Summer Cycling Safety Tips.

For more cycling tips, check out this blog, Fit is a Feminist Issue, specifically Proper Bike Fit and Two Bike Cultures.

Cycling is a wonderful way to exercise and stay fit even in cold weather. Challenge yourself to ride and use these tips to help you! Do you cycle in the fall and winter months? Tell me about it!

One Word Photo Challenge: Winter

Cold December in Lake Tahoe

Although winter seems like a distant season away, Winter is the theme for the One Word Photo Challenge. November is here and brought some rain to Northern California and we can look forward to cooler days and (finally!) cold nights.

In this photo taken in South Lake Tahoe in early December 2009 near the Heavenly Ski Resort gondola area, it was so cold, even the water in the fountain froze. There was no snow on the ground (yet), but the temperature was 17 degrees Fahrenheit with a pretty good wind chill factor.

Cold December in Lake Tahoe

Are you ready for winter yet? I’m happy Fall has finally arrived!

Please check out Jennifer Nichole Wells’ One Word Photo Challenge.