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.

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.

The Trouble With February

Have you ever had one of those days? Well, it is one of those months. Although February is for lovers, for me personally it can be quite depressing.  My Father passed away in February, as did my Mother.

On the upside, however, it is also the month of my wedding anniversary. And let us not forget Valentine’s Day! I have been spoiled by both my daughter and my husband this month.  Although the photoshoot of my daughter was an epic disaster, courtesy of a beautiful cold front that brought  about wind gusts of 25 mph! I guess good old Punxsutawney was right!

vday kira

Bearded Dragon Tanin vday gifts

 

My hubby surprised me with a beautiful Bearded Dragon, and my daughter made me a beautiful card and sand art.

This February also included eye surgery. Any artist can tell you vision is pretty imperative to an artist. The neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, and arthritis in my hands can make art difficult….but not being able to see properly, well….that makes it virtually impossible. I finally broke down and agreed to have surgery on my right eye, as the cataract had made it impossible to see. I was excited but scared, as many people who have had the procedure done said the results are amazing……….

Flash forward, I am now on day 14 post op. Although I can absolutely see out of my right eye now and my vision test (in a dark room with the optometrist) is 20/20, light kills me.  Any light source, especially natural day light makes it hard to see. My lamps now have long streaks of light extruding outward. The ophthalmologist said this is normal and it may remain permanent. Evidently the foggy haze of my vision while in light is as well. The upside being colors are beautifully brighter now. I have a lesser developed cataract in my left eye, and colors between each eye are extremely different.

For example this picture I have taken, if I look at it with my left eye I see this;

cataract surgery 1

Where as with my right eye after the surgery I see clearer and brighter.

cataract surgery 2

I hope the light issues I have presently subside, as it is quite distracting and at times causes me to feel nausea; however, I can absolutely live with it. If my left eye progresses I would have to have the procedure done on it as well. I have had surgery on my right eye prior to this cataract procedure,  which may also be why the light is bothering me.  With any luck it will ease up, or I will get used to it.  Especially considering this beautiful new Canon EOS Rebel T6 is awaiting my using it!

I am hoping my art will also look better with my new eye. Especially now that I have more time on my hands……… Which leads me to my next little February blow. As I sat in recovery from my eye surgery I received an e-mail. I was being let go from the Graphic Novel and Comic series I had been contracted to illustrate. The kicker was I was being let go only because they could not afford to hire a separate formatter and decided to go with an all-in-one do it all. Lousy timing on the news as they knew I was in the hospital….nonetheless that was not the worst part. I have spent countless hours on the project and now have art I created for essentially nothing that will sit unpaid.  Silver lining however, I am no longer being bombarded 24/7 with monotonous tasks of unrealistic desires.

I love being an artist. I have heard  many times that I am living the dream….Although I am grateful for my job, I have to say my dream would be to draw, paint, photograph, sculpt, or create what I WANT and be paid for it.  Having someone say, “Yes, that looks okay, but I want this that or the other” is hardly a dream.  Working 18 hours a day,  6 days a week for a paycheck each month that is less than what most people make in three days is not exactly a dream.  It is called work for a reason.  Again, I love my job and would not want to do anything other than art for a living, however…..the present situation is hardly ideal. Kicker number two: as there are still no results on why the printing company pulled titles that I have illustrated for one company (the same aforementioned company that replaced me as their graphic illustrator) from their company sans royalties, I am still unpaid for the works I have done in 2016…….again, does this sound like a dream to you? More like a nightmare if you ask me!

Then I had to get blood work done.  I have CKD stage 3. I have been swelling up pretty bad……when I say bad, I am not exaggerating, either.  At one point I could not bend my legs! When the lab sent me my results, well, I freaked out! Mind you now, I am not a Nephrologist and really have no valid way of interpreting the results other than their guidelines within the results they sent. But according to their guidelines, my numbers looked VERY bad! So for two weeks, I sat in dread….first because of my eye and second because of those labs.  I began googling about dialysis and end stage CKD.  A good friend is about to go on dialysis as well, which perhaps fueled my fear.

Finally the day arrived for both appointments…..of course, as I said earlier, my ophthalmologist said this is “normal” with my eye.  Next,  I sat in fear awaiting my Nephrologist to enter the exam room. I had already in my mind fully prepared myself to be told my kidneys had failed and I needed dialysis.  Then…..the Doctor looked at me and said, “You are doing AMAZINGLY well!” He showed me a chart over the course of the past few years. He pointed out that my kidneys are still at 30% functionality, as they were several years ago.  I actually cried with happiness.  I am the opposite of a hypochondriac, but boy did I scare myself into fearing the worst.  After living with type 1 Diabetes all my life, I think I have somehow just assumed the worst in everything when it came to my health. I really am glad I was wrong.

February can be such a bittersweet month at times. The weather can be beautiful yet horrific, serving as an apt definition to February. I always look for the positivity in all of the beautiful blessings I have in this life and try to take everything as a learning experience.  Although I fully realize how negative my words may seem, I am actually extremely grateful and thankfully for every experience in my life.

I must say, however, I am glad it is the shortest month of the year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Jingle Bells

Jingle Bells Hacker Image

 

Because taking a 14 day cruise in the heart of December did not make me behind h enough……

I come home to discover that on Christmas Eve I was hacked.

Why anyone would want to hack my site is beyond me. Apparently I am not the only one.

With severe memory issues redoing my entire site is similar to repeating your final year of education 15 years later…..I have forgotten virtually everything.

Silver lining, I like my new set up better.

In happier news, Santa thought I was good.  I have received a new DSLR. I am looking forward to learning it’s ins and outs and creating with it soon.

For now I am composing my resolution list….at the top will be having a super secure website!!!!!

Here is looking forward to a 2017 that is memorable for good reasons unlike 2016.