Returning From Holiday

There is nothing that can compare to a beautiful vacation aboard a cruise ship.  Sailing has always been my preferred method of travel.  In fact, I have not even been on a plane in over 30 years. If I had my druthers, I would live on a yacht as opposed to being on land. There is something so tranquil and calming that the ebb and flow the ocean provides. It can rock me to sleep like a mother gently rocking a cradle.  The beautiful salt air from the sea soothes my soul. It would seem for me, the roughest days I have experienced at sea were still more relaxing than the calmest of days on land.  Let me not forget to mention the glorious sunrises and sunsets at sea.  The horizon unfiltered by the congestion of buildings and clutter of man….simply stunning.

sunset at sea

Granted, planning a vacation at sea can be a bit nerve wrecking at times. Especially when hurricanes are involved. Last year’s hurricanes devastated many of the ports which cruise lines frequent.  Several of our cruise ports were shifted.  For me, this is honestly not a matter; I feel worse for those who have suffered living at the regions affected, and find it incredibly selfish when those who are vacationing complain about not being able to travel to these destinations.  A vacation is a vacation, regardless of where you go. This was the second time I had a plan to visit San Juan, Puerto Rico that was altered due to a hurricane.  The last time was in ’98. Eventually,  I will visit Puerto Rico.  In the interim, however, I am praying for those who live there and the horror they have experienced after the devastating effects of the 2017 hurricane season.  And to the passengers who insist on complaining,  I offer you this; imagine, for a moment,  that you were on the ship during the hurricane.  Redirection of ports is not that horrible, it is inevitable.  Nature happens.

wreckage

In all of my years of cruising, and there are many, I must say NCL is by far the best cruise line I have ever been blessed to sail on.  They have, what I believe to be, the friendliest and most talented of staff. NCL’s crew always make us feel like family.  Being an OCD neat freak, I must add that NCL is also the cleanest line.  A spec of dust cannot be found! NCL has become our preferred choice for sailing for 14 years now. I cannot recommend them enough to anyone who is considering a vacation at sea.  I realize have had been a little bit annoyed at times with the experience as a Latitudes member, (example is our cruise this past Thanksgiving, article click  here)  however, overall no other line comes even close to the wonderful vacationing experience NCL provides.

ncl

Now, some may say my daughter is pampered.  I mean, how many 14 year olds can tout that they have taken fourteen 7-14 day cruises in their life time? We have incorporated these cruises into Kira’s home school lessons, however! Each port has a rich history.  Even the ship provides education.  We loved Kira’s questioning the knots to miles conversion! There is a learning opportunity everywhere you look.

 

horses aruba

aruba horses2From the significance of Horses in Aruba………

 

truman key west

the impact Truman had on Key West, Florida….

cayman

to the relations of the United States of America and The Cayman Islands!

cayman 2

Not to say that we did not manage to have a little bit of fun amidst Kira’s cultural/historical and artistic educational experience.  After all, the entire point behind this specific holiday was the celebration of our little girl turning 14!!!

bday decor

kira bday cake

And NCL helped us by having our cabin fully decorated with cake ready when we first arrived!!

We had a glorious 11 days at sea in celebration of Kira’s turning 14.  The only down side was we are all sick now.  Evidently, someone on board (actually several someones) were ill.  Upon our arrival to land, we all fell ill.  Kira’s fever finally broke at 102.4 the other late evening/early morning.  I, myself, have been in bed non-stop. We feel a bit miserable, but it is quite worth our epic adventure.  After all, without the bad, how can you truly appreciate the good?? I finally felt able to move to my computer and try to post. I have managed to fall quite behind on things in my illness stupor!

There is a big artistic significance behind this vacation as well.  I will for now, however, leave that for a separate post.

 

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Joys Of The Season

As this year is coming to a close, I wanted to wish you all a very safe and happy new year.  I pray that 2018 brings you all health and happiness!

Ferie TraditionerChristmas

Peace On Earth

Peace On Earth

Wishing everyone a very blessed holiday season.

We have our tree and have for about a week or so now…it is still not decorated.  It seems things are so busy we forget to take care of ourselves first!

Remember to stop, sit and enjoy the holidays amidst the hustle and bustle!!!

I have managed to eek out this quick drawing.  It is not as detailed as I envisioned it, however, time seems to escape me lately.

I am hoping to finish our decorating today and take our Christmas family photographs.  I also have a few cards and packages to mail….and yes, a few more gifts to buy.  It would seem each year I get things done later.

I hope you all have a beautiful holiday no matter what or how you celebrate!

For The Love Of Markers

Azile Marker art

Markers have certainly evolved since I first used Crayolas as a child. I fondly remember my first set of markers. I also remember the devastation I felt when they dried out.  As time passed my art evolved.  Occasionally I would use my Micron pens, but markers were mainly used to decorate handmade cards or packages. I seldom created art with them.

The more I delved into digital art, the more I longed to return to organic art.  Illustrating books, creating book covers as well as the advertisements and book trailers thereof left little time to do so. I could make a few smaller paintings, but drying time and such delayed any true sense of gratification. My graphite sketches and Micron ink drawings seemingly lacked. Then…. I discovered ….. Chameleon Pens.  I believe I first saw the video on Facebook.  No doubt my bestie had tagged me in the post.  It seems when a new art product arrives I am always tagged about it.  If only I had the luxury and wealth to buy these items. I remember sharing the post with my husband.  The idea of blending markers and one marker providing seemingly limitless colors was simply awesome to us.

Then came Valentine’s Day. My darling husband surprised me with the 22 box set. The rest of the available colors came shortly thereafter as an Easter surprise.

Chameleon Marker Art

I never thought I would enjoy markers again.  But I love these! They make creating art as fun as I remembered it. I have many other top brands of markers as well, but I always seem to go back to my Chameleon pens. They flow beautifully.

Flight Of Colors Marker Art

It has not become my favorite late evening activity. I doodle with my Chameleon pens.  It is a welcomed break from the digital monotony that has become my world amidst illustrating children’s books!

Alaska Marker Art

I still paint, wood burn, sculpt, sketch, and draw using ink, of course.  However, the ease and instant gratification from using the Chameleon pens are wonderful.  I have enough time after work and preparing my family dinner to actually complete a piece of art.  Nothing compares to waking up the next day and seeing my doodle sitting there. Even if it isn’t perfect, I feel better knowing it is complete and I feel accomplished.

To see more of my art please visit my website at www.alysathena.com

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?

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.

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.