For The Love of Earth

Spartacus

Instead of talking only about myself and my art, this time I would like to remind everyone that today is World Environment Day. There is a wonderful website designed for it, which I highly recommend everyone read and join. http://worldenvironmentday.global/

As far as I know, right now our environment is the only one we have.  I would like to believe my great-grandchildren will be able to enjoy it, and all it has to offer. That, of course, is up to us to ensure.  Little changes we make can make a big difference.  Recycling is easier than most people think.  It becomes a habit.

I took the above photograph while visiting the Cedar Lake Gardens Festival in Williston, Florida a short time ago. It is a photographer’s dream! I was not able to capture all of the moments I wanted to, as it was extremely crowded for the festival.  I look forward to a return visit soon. This fella was the only animal on display, I am assuming as a guest.  Spartacus, an  African Spurred Tortoise, was quite large. Why did I choose him for this post? Well, you see, this environment of ours affects not only us.  The wildlife around us all call this home too. It truly is our responsibility to make smart choices. This world of ours is absolutely beautiful, as are all of its inhabitants.  Whether you believe in global warming or not, taking care of this planet and all she provides is essential. You would not let your home fall apart….why would you let your planet?

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May The Fourth Be With You

Growing up as the original Star Wars generation is simply wonderful. Not only did I get the best movie and toys ever growing up, but I now also get to experience it all over again with my own child!

When Kira expressed her love for Star Wars, I squealed with excitement.  The geekiness had indeed been passed down to my young Jedi offspring!

There has to be something said about the way it feels to watch the return of Star Wars to the big screen, (Yes, I know there have been many prequels, sequels and everything you can possibly imagine in between) and having your child watch it with you.  What made the experience of watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens all the more special was the fact we watched it at the drive-in! This added to my sentimental nostalgia.

Kira as Princess Leia. Halloween 2015
Kira as Princess Leia. Halloween 2015

Halloween 2015

Before the movie even had been seen, Kira decided she wanted to be Princess Leia.  Thankfully, she already had the hair for the costume! Being an exceptionally tall child made finding a costume difficult, however. The solution came in an oversized sweatshirt/hoodie! I was amazed that this little costume, which was thrown together, virtually last minute, was a hit. Kira loved it.

Chew and Kira

Flash forward to Kira’s 13th Birthday.  Guess who she wanted to spend it with? That’s right, Star Wars.  A week in the Magic Kingdom it was.

From Storm Troopers to R2D2 and C3PO, we were in heaven!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I this year even had lesson plans to celebrate Star Wars Day! I know, silly but fun!! You really should visit this website; http://www.starwars.com/may-the-4th

Kira colored BB8

BB8 is perhaps my new favorite character. I was extremely lucky this Christmas and received a rc BB8.  He is the sweetest little thing ever, and drives our cats nuts!

In honor of Star Wars day, I also decided to push my neuropathy ridden, arthritic hands, and fibromyalgia ridden body, failing eye sight, and glaucoma eyes to their limits and paint a teeny tiny 2×2 acrylic Yoda!

Paint Yoda I Must
Progress shots

So, as you can see….this is somewhat of a family holiday. We embrace the force.  We also wish you all a very happy Star Wars day! May the force be with you all!!!

For The Love Of Animals

I have always been an animal person. As far back as I can remember, I would get into much trouble with my mother for bringing strays home. A fish here, a cat or dog there.  It was always something. At the age of 7, my mother gave in and agreed to get a cat. A delightful orange tabby, I lovingly named Champagne.  Do not ask, I do not know, I was only 7. Perhaps my mother believed that by allowing me to have this cat, I would somehow be deterred from my seemingly endless endeavours of rescuing every and any animal around our neighborhood. Alas, Champagne only served to validate my purpose in life as an animal lover and rescuer.  Realize, the irresistible urge drawing me to animals was completely reciprocal. On more than one occasion, throughout my life, I have had animals literally walk through my front door, or jumping into my car. My mother said I was an animal magnet.

Flash forward, to my  teens. Many rescues and multiple pets later, I discovered a deep love for photography. Whether it be the fact my art was less than realism, or the fact I simply loved the idea of capturing a moment and making it last virtually forever, I was hooked. On my 15th birthday, my mother gave me a Kodak Disk camera.  I fondly remember torturing my classmates and friends. I took pictures of virtually everything. I can only imagine how much was spent on developing my film. I know I spent quite a bit of time waiting to get my pictures back.  My, how times have changed. Hoping the shot turned out okay, praying no one blinked! But the quality was superior to my old Polaroid, and thankfully I did not have to shake the pictures FOREVER to see an image!

Over the years one thing has remained, the subject of most of my photography; animals. Unpredictable, but always photogenic.

I am quite blessed to live on five acres of blissful solitude, amidst farm country, yet only a few  miles away from suburbia.  My yard, enriched with wildlife.  Birds singing their beautiful melodies, squirrels darting from branch to branch, gopher tortoises burrowing. And, much to my heart’s content, feral felines.  These wild cats have become family. They have accepted us, thankfully, and will allow me to photography them.

I have awoken to peacocks, horses, donkeys and even ostrich in our yard. I have learned now to ALWAYS have a camera handy.

The subject of this photograph is Pharaoh.  A loving feral beauty who recently lost a batch of kittens, one of which she brought to us in the hopes of saving it. Sadly, it was too late for the precious kitten. The one downside to my animal magnetism is this, I cannot save them all. Lord knows how I have tried to. I am grateful for what time I am granted with each beautiful animal.  I am also grateful to be able to capture them, briefly, making it last virtually forever.

Artists ~ Visiting The Cedar Key Arts Festival

A couple of weeks ago, my family and I ventured over to Cedar Key. I had been longing to return to this magical little shanty town that I remembered visiting back in the 90’s. It was the closest thing to the Florida Keys that I had ever seen.  Visiting the keys virtually every weekend was my favorite part of growing up, so when I realized there was an area close reminiscent of the Keys, I had to check it out! I instantly fell in love!

We have passes to all state parks. I remembered visiting a park or two the last time I had been to Cedar Key. Prior to going, I ensured the parks were still there.  Much to my surprise, one had a beautiful face lift of sorts! So it would be a bit of a new adventure for me.

My daughter and I were in heaven.  It was absolutely beautiful. Kira got to see her first shell mound. You should have seen the expression on her face! It seemed a higher climb than I remembered.  Ahhhh, the benefits of growing old!

I was able to feed my photography cravings as we visited the shell mounds and the Cedar Key State Park & Museum. The admission of only $2 per person is well worth it. Although we have passes, we opted to also pay as donation.

In route (it is a long drive) we saw signs for the upcoming Arts festival.  I squealed with excitement! I absolutely LOVE art festivals! Plus, Kira had never been to one.

This past weekend was the festival. It surely did not disappoint with the endless food, wonderful entertainment, and amazing art and photography booths.

Stage? Who needs a stage when you have a boat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wish I was able to take more pictures. However, it seems some of the artists do not like free advertising.  As an artist, I absolutely do not understand this.  For the photographers, I can see why they have signs requesting no photographs be taken of their work, but for an artist? Is there a trade secret???? It is free advertising; do they thing someone will steal their idea? I am baffled by this concept, quite honestly.  Then there are those who are on the opposite side, which I tend to favor;

Make note, they welcome photographs and even list all of their social sites! Now this is a SMART artist.

As an artist who also is a digital artist, I am no stranger to having my work stolen. But for artists who have painted or sculpted, I cannot see why they wouldn’t want their work shared publicly by as many people as possible. To each their own.  I respected the signs that said this once my husband was gracious enough to point it out. Subsequently I had to delete at least 20 images.

We had an amazing time. The weather was absolutely beautiful.  Warm with a beautiful coastal breeze.  The location is second to none.  Cedar Key has changed quite a bit since I first went in the 90’s. The quaint charm has sadly been replaced in spots by a concrete mess.  However a visitor need not search far to see historical homes and shanty landmarks.

 

Florida Living

Pelicans

Living in Florida 99.9% of my life has helped me have an appreciation for parts of this amazing isthmus that perhaps many tourists may miss, parts of Florida overlooked that are slowly vanishing.

Many may not know that there are species of Pelicans that are endangered or threatened. This is not the only beautiful creature that sadly haunts the lists of endangered/threatened species.

While more towers of concrete masses congest the shorelines around this amazing state, more animals lose their homes.

Spectacular views are now shadowed by a concrete jungle of all too many seeking the Florida life.

I am not a true native. I was born elsewhere and brought to Miami when I was 18 months old. I remained in Miami for 20 years. When I recently visited Miami, it was unrecognizable. Although I am all for progress and understand change is inevitable, this was a bit different. This was not progress. To put it plainly, this was a congestive mess. I only wish I would have had a deeper interest in photographing nature when I was younger.  Instead, I then focussed on taking pictures of my friends.

I digress, I have strayed from the topic. These changes, this “progress”, is causing drastic side effects. This beautiful biodome we live in has a natural law and order to its existence.  Regardless of whether or not you believe in global warming, it is undeniable that more and more of our wildlife is slowly vanishing.

I have made it a mini mission to try and photograph all I can while I can.

A King On His Throne

king throne 1

Say what you will, but there is certainly a reason why the Lion is known as the king of the jungle.  As I watched these three lions in awe, I was simply too enamored to realize just what was taking place.  It was only thereafter, as my husband and daughter sat next to me, giggling, did the situation become clear.

Let us just say the king was on his throne, so to speak.

Here I was, believing I had captured the expression of a wise beast.  Holding centuries of knowledge. An amazing shot! I mean he was looking RIGHT AT ME….or so it seemed.

king throne 3

The guide remarked she would try to take us to a location where we could get a better view.  As she did, I was clueless as to why some of the safari members were giggling like shy school girls.

As we rounded the bed I was feverously taking photographs…all the while absolutely oblivious.

king throne 2

Now, considering what I shall mention later, I really should have know.

king throne 4

I am sure by now this image makes it painfully obvious. The poor lion. I mean, an audience as he relieves himself!

Here I thought I was actually capturing a beautiful moment, not a bowel movement.

The kicker is this, it would seem every time we (specifically me) are near an animal, no matter the species, they have to relieve themselves. Whether it be a zoo, a park, on safari, or even just walking in our own neighborhood. My husband is all too quick to point the animals out, in the off chance I somehow manage to miss this.  I probably should have never told him about the elephant ride I took as a child. Yes, the elephant decided to go then too.

Shortly after these images were taken we visited a petting zoo…..

I will leave this here.

Caribbean Holiday

caribbean holiday

 

I am slowly settling back into normalcy after taking an incredible 14 day aquatic journey. For two weeks the Norwegian Cruise Line ship Jade was my home. Formerly the Pride of Hawaii, this ship was adorned with Hawaiian themed decor. Although sailing in the Gulf of Mexico, the ship’s contrasting pacific decor was quite lovely. Sadly, the Jade lacked the beautiful murals most NCL ships adorn on the Promenade deck. I imagine it at one time had images of a Hawaiian nature as well.

The staff were absolutely AMAZING. I have never met lovelier people than those who work aboard NCL’s ships.  Each staff member was kind and made this experience all the more incredible. An extra special surprise was having the same cabin steward we had on our second NCL cruise 10 years ago! I never forget a face. At first no one believed that we had the delightful Armando tending to our cabin previously. I was able to find an image of him (courtesy of the cloud) to remind them!

There was never a hungry moment with the endless food being served. A bit salty for me, as I do not use salt, but delicious nonetheless! There really is something to eat for everyone’s taste as well. Children were delighted to find endless pizza, pasta, burgers, fries, and ice cream. Oh and the cookies….I have never seen so many cookies in my life.

I have been blessed to take many cruises in my lifetime.  At least 15 that I can vividly remember. I must say that cruising during the winter holidays is quite wonderful. The ship being fully decorated with Christmas trees, lights and even hand crafted gingerbread houses make it extra special. One downside however, is that Christmas is 3 days away and I have not done any shopping! I think souvenirs would have been a bit tacky as Christmas gifts.

The ports we visited were in Mexico, Honduras, and Belize. Each absolutely beautiful. An endless array of sights…a photographer’s dream.

14 sunsets to photograph!

Four epic ports of call.

Even after being home 4 days I have yet to sort the endless photographs.

This photograph was taken shortly after departure from Roatan, Honduras. Our sister ship, the Norwegian Dawn sailing past a glorious sunset.

I captured this image on my Nikon L810.