Showing posts with label Pictures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pictures. Show all posts

Monday, July 13, 2015

Watching the Waves

My connection to the earth is reinforced 
through the rhythm of the waves. - Mike Dolan

St. Augustine Beach, June 2015

I often refer to this as recharging my internal batteries. To sit and gaze at the ocean relaxes both body and soul. Maybe it is the rhythm of the waves, or the layers of sand, water and sky, or the life-sustaining power of the ocean. Whatever the cause, the effect is the same.



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Friday, July 10, 2015

Linda Meets the Manatee

Here we have a couple of Pelicans hanging out looking for a handout. Fishermen were cleaning fish and tossing the remnants into the water. They are competing with a couple baby sharks for their lunch. Also present at this party was a sea turtle.


The star of the show, however, is the Manatee. Unfortunately these gentle giants are on the endangered species list. If you boat in areas where you may encounter manatees, please take a moment to read this.


This manatee likes to hang out where he can get a fresh, cool drink of water.


Here you can see his tongue and whiskers, and the algae and barnacles covering his tough skin.


I turned up my pants and got down under one of the fish cleaning tables to get a closer look. The hose to the right of me is where the sink drains.

Photo Credit: Ashley Morris
Such a gentle creature for one so large.




Yes, I petted the Manatee, and to answer one of the most asked questions, no he was not slimy. Although he might have been where the algae was growing. I felt the whiskers and they are like very thick hairs, flexible and not at all sharp.

Photo Credit: Ashley Morris

Bye-bye Mr. Manatee.  It was an honor to meet you!

Photo Credit: Ashley Morris

I compiled the video we got so you can see how he interacted with people and how much he enjoyed the fresh water. They truly are magnificent creatures.




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Monday, July 6, 2015

St. Augustine Highlights


The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. - St. Augustine

St. Augustine is the nation's oldest city, founded by the Spanish in 1565, and named after the Catholic saint, St. Augustine. Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles named the area thusly since land was sighted on the day of the feast celebrating St. Augustine.

Our destination.
It had been many years since I had been to St. Augustine, and then we were merely passing through on our way to Daytona. I was pretty excited to get to spend time exploring the city and basking on the beach...well I don't actually bask anymore, but still it was great to hang out and watch the waves.




Our traveling companions, with my hubby in the back.

Everything in Twos - two couples, two cars, two kids (theirs) and two condos. Ashley and I had been looking forward to the day when we could all vacation together. This year it became a reality.

The gang
Where we stayed.
Pier Point South Condos at St. Augustine Beach on Anastasia Island. Our unit came with everything we needed, including beach towels and chairs. A big thank you to the thoughtful owners for such a well-provisioned condo.


Pier Point South Condos
What we did.
We struggled with high temperatures and high humidity so to see more of the city with less effort, we took the Old Town Trolley tour. You paid one price for three days of rides, getting on and off as much as you like. Our first stop was the St. Augustine Distillery. We all agreed that a tour, free tasting and A/C would be a welcome break from the heat.

After a brief tour of the distillery, we were taken to the tasting room. There we were treated to a Florida Mule made from their own vodka, and their version of a gin and tonic, again made from their gin. Everyone was offered a sample of both the gin and vodka neat. This was my first distillery tour and spirits tasting.


St. Augustine Distillery
On another day we toured the San Sebastian Winery. We arrived in time for the tasting that was just starting. We were given our choice of two wines on each round and we decided I would take one and hubby the other so we could both taste each wine. The first two were a dry white made from several of Florida's hybrid grapes and a dry red described as full-bodied, but I felt it was rather light. These were the driest of the wines offered. There were several made from their Native Muscadine grape, which were sweeter. Lastly we were served cream sherry and port styled wines.


San Sebastian Winery


We climbed the St. Augustine lighthouse which is 165 feet tall with 219 steps to reach the circular walkway around the tower just below the lens. This tower was constructed in 1874 and was automated in 1955.


St. Augustine Lighthouse

The view from the top was fantastic in all directions from the Atlantic to historical St. Augustine.


At the top - all 219 steps.

No trip involving water would be complete without a boat ride. We cruised the scenic waterways of St. Augustine aboard the Victory III. Visitors have been cruising these waters since the early 1900s seeing such sights as the Bridge of Lions and the St. Augustine Lighthouse.


The bridge of Lions

Scenic Cruise
Where we ate.
A unanimous favorite was the Conch House restaurant. Fish tacos, fish and grits, blackened Wahoo and fried shrimp were among some of the entrees we ordered. We also sampled conch fritters, gator bites and hot wings. We sat at large picnic tables beneath thatched huts overlooking the marina. As we enjoyed our lunch, we watched wading birds fishing for theirs.


In the hut at the Conch House


The Conch House - a view from above.

The Sunset Grille, about a block from our condo, served up tasty fare as well. We shared fish sandwiches and fish and chips outside on several evenings.

Sunset Grille
Other places we ate at along the beach were Antonio's for pizza, Rita's for Italian ice (the mango was delicious), The Salt Life, and Little Margie's. In town we had breakfast at The Bunnery, and lunch at the Ice Plant (next to the distillery).

Stay tuned for my manatee adventure!



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Friday, June 26, 2015

I've Been Away...


It's been several weeks since I've posted, and no I didn't fall off the planet, get abducted by aliens or even swallowed up by a whale. I just took some time off to recharge my batteries, and in doing so, gathered lots of pictures and videos for blog fodder. I hope you will check back to see what I've been up to.



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Monday, June 8, 2015

On Photography

The negative is the equivalent of the composer's score, and the print the performance. - Ansel Adams

While many of our pictures are in digital format today, there is still the relation between composer and the performer. Our cameras are the instrument, we are the composer and the images are the collaboration and the star of the show.

There are many different reasons for taking pictures. Some photographers spent thousands of dollars and as many hours looking for just the right shot, catching the light and trying to capture what their eyes behold.


I like to capture moments to relive them later. Memories of what we saw can fade with time, but when we see the pictures, they come alive again. It matters not whether it was the perfect shot or the highest quality, it triggers the senses.


Sometimes it is not what you are photographing as much as it is the feeling you get from looking at it. Something as simple as the way the light hits a tree, or plays with the shadows. I've been taking pictures since I was a kid, and this is only something I've learned in the last few years. 


There are many wonderful photographers who share their work online, and the one who has inspired me the most is the talented lady at The Smitten Image. I used to try and get as much into a picture as possible and now I know that sometimes less is more. Thanks Hilary!


These were all taken with my Canon Powershot SD1200.



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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

That's Our Girl

Is she looking for a little quiet time, or is she saying "Aha, the closet door is open...finally".  I wish I had a video of her approach.  You see even though the door was open there were a few obstacles in her way. 

This is just the spot for me!

While she was trying to figure out how to reach the shelf, she looked like a cat on a Pogo stick, bouncing up and down on her back feet as if trying to calculate the distance and thrust required to elevate her 12-pound self to her goal.  After a half dozen or so bounces she paused and tried to get in past the hamper. Nope, can't squeeze through the gap...more bounces. We were cracking up, trying to stifle our laughter so as not to scare her out of her mission.

She finally rethought her strategy and took the more circuitous route via a stool and a suitcase, then balancing on the hamper, stepped coolly onto the shelf.

"Well," I said "she's smarter than we thought."  Sometimes she gives the impression of being somewhat of a ditz.



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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Got Boots?

This is day eight of the 20 Days of Chill writing challenge hosted by P. J. at A ‘lil HooHaa. Please join me as we share a month of reading, writing and discovery. Today's topic is Favorite article of clothing for winter.



In many areas winter means frigid temperatures, shivering, cold feet, wind-blown watery eyes and runny noses. In other places the seasons meld one into the other with barely a flicker of the thermometer. Whether it's parkas or bikinis, there is a staple in your wardrobe without which the season would be incomplete.

Here in North Carolina our winters vary broadly from year to year. Some are mild with only the merest dusting of snow, gone before lunch time. Every so often, however, we get a good (or bad) one, depending on your point of view.

That is when I pull out my favorite article of winter clothing, my snow boots. Not just any snow boots, but the same pair that have kept my feet warm and dry through several decades. I've even featured my old faithful boots here before.

Now I have coats and jackets, hoodies, and scarves and a multitude of gloves, but going out in anything except my trusty snow boots, would be like going out in bunny slippers.

What keeps you warm in the chill of winter?

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Small Town Travel

This is day four of the 20 Days of Chill writing challenge hosted by P. J. at A ‘lil HooHaa. Please join me as we share a month of reading, writing and discovery.  Today's topic is Travel.

Take a trip with me through Amish Country in Lancaster County.  It seems there are cornfields everywhere. One moment you are in town and you turn right, and left and you are in the middle of someone's farm. Some would say it's the best of both worlds.


Amish cornfield

Small towns often have interesting names, as seen on this sign. Thank you for calling Bank of Bird-in-Hand. My name is Robin.  How may I help you?

Are there two in the bush?
We spent the afternoon in Strasburg, and I got my first ever ride on a honest-to-goodness steam-powered train. It was a short 45-minute tour through Amish Country, and yes, more cornfields.

Choo-choo
Here we have some local artwork on display on an old railroad car.  Beauty takes many forms.

Local art
 On another day we visited the Town of Lititz. The heart of Lititz consists of two intersecting streets.  There are many restaurants and shops, including their very own chocolate factory (move over Willy Wonka). They also have a Wall of Remembrance to honor those who paid the supreme price for freedom.

Honoring their heroes
One thing you can always be sure of seeing in Lititz is ducks.  Below we have Duck Island. This is in beautiful Lititz Springs Park, which is over 200 years old.  Can you imagine how many ducks have lived here over the years?

Duck Island in Lititz Springs Park

This beautiful old building is located in Ambler, PA.  We were on our way from Ephrata to Horsham, Actually we were on our way to Philly, but reasonably-priced accommodations were not to be found, so we settled on the little town of Horsham, about a half hour outside the city and took the train.

Beautiful patterns in architecture
A newer building houses CVS, but I give them credit for styling the store to fit in with the small town surroundings, rather than the standard red brick of the ones in larger cities.

New fitting in with the old
Back in Ephrata, we visit the Green Dragon.  There is something there for everyone from fresh foods from local vendors, many of whom are Amish or Mennonite, to beautiful beeswax candles. Pretty and healthy too.

Local products
Look at all the colorful fashions. Want sunglasses, got 'em.  Need wind chimes, bird feeders, funny signs, just look around. You're sure to find something that strikes your fancy.

All the colors of the rainbow
Thanks for joining me on my journey through some quaint little towns. Every time I visit Ashley, I get to see another slice of the American pie - Pennsylvania style.










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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Winter Comfort Food

This is day two of the 20 Days of Chill writing challenge hosted by P. J. at A ‘lil HooHaa. Please join me as we share a month of reading, writing and discovery.  Today's topic is Favorite Winter Comfort Food.

Wow, who knew such a simple, straightforward topic would be so challenging?  There are a number of foods which fall into the category of "my favorites" and/or "comfort food", but they are not categorized by season. In fact, there are very few foods or dishes that I consider strictly seasonal.  It is not taboo for me to make soup in the summer or eat ice cream in the winter. 

When I think of comfort food, I think of dishes like mac and cheese, a plate of potato hash, a burger, pizza or anything with bacon, none of which I would relegate to the winter months.



That which comes closest to fulfilling both the winter and comfort requirements would be pecan pie. I only make this around Christmas and it is my favorite pie. While it is obviously food, and I only make it in the winter, it seems odd to call it my favorite winter comfort food.

What are some of your favorite winter and/or comfort dishes?









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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Out With The Old

And In With The New
Image Source: openclipart.org

Another year has run it's course, and we struggled rolled with the punches.  Was it a bad year?  Not entirely, but it was difficult at times.

Here are a few highlights of 2014:

Winter and Spring passed with barely a nod since hubby spent much of the first half of the year traveling for his job.  We did have a good snow storm and a bad ice storm complete with power outage.




On the home front, I continued with the routine chores and looking after the cats.  Part of those chores included yard work, which resulted with me doing a face plant into the neighbors wooden fence.  Let me tell you that smarted and left me with an awesome shiner. Amazingly, other than the bruised face, there wasn't another scratch on me.

We helped a good friend celebrate her 80th birthday.  She was certainly surprised when she was escorted to a dinner with 15 of her closest friends.



We traveled to Pennsylvania to visit Ashley and her family.  That was a week filled with fun, laughter and shared friendship.  We went to an amusement park, took a steam train ride and found a lovely small town zoo in which to meander about.



Insert more business travel.  Sigh!

In October we made our nearly-annual trek to Madeira Beach (St. Petersburg, FL).  There we ate copious amounts of seafood, went fishing at Ft. DeSoto, and took a dolphin watch cruise. My favorite non-seafood meal was DeLosa's pizza eaten on our balcony at sunset.




November brought the devastating loss of Dood at age 14.  He was always the healthiest of our cats, so his brief illness and subsequent passing a little more than a year after Rosie really rocked our world.




There are always holiday memories, whether we want to remember them or not.  I choose to remember them...even when one of them is of my feet going out from under me on the dance floor at a Christmas party.  That it was our wine club Christmas party is irrelevant, right? Sorry, no pictures or video. 

Now we have a new year before us.  May it be filled with hope and joy, laughter and friendship, love and peace!  Welcome to 2015.






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Friday, December 12, 2014

A Christmas Puzzle


Christmas is a joyful time of year, but we put so much pressure on ourselves to find the perfect gift, or the right outfit for the party. So, let's all take a break from the hustle and bustle and stress of the holiday season and work a puzzle.  It's simple and colorful and will only take you about 5 minutes to complete. Just click on here Christmas Puzzle  to begin. (Note, the picture above is not the puzzle picture.)

A few tips - the pieces are not set in their final positions, they can be turned by degrees by right clicking on the piece.  In other words if it looks like it is the bottom right corner, it may actually be the top left corner. The same applies to all the pieces, otherwise it wouldn't be any challenge at all.

You can also view just the border or just the middle or all the pieces, and you can change the number of pieces to increase the difficulty, and you can preview the picture like looking at the box lid to a regular jigsaw puzzle.

It is timed, but just have fun with it, and if you enjoy it, feel free to share it.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sun on the Water


Sunlight resting on the calm glistening water
what a peaceful feeling.





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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Summer Fun

Last month I had the long-awaited opportunity to visit Ashley and her family in the far-away place known as Ephrata, PA.  We lived next door to each other in our youth, and although youth is rapidly fading into our middle years, we are still close despite the miles between us.

So before I get maudlin, let's get on with the fun stuff.  Below is Sheba, a sweet, lovable Labradoodle who belongs to Scott, her oldest son. 

Not only is she adorable, she is smart too.  We were sitting outside with her and she was demonstrating her ability to come, sit, lay down, etc. when Ashley told Michael to have her l-a-y-d-o-w-n for a treat (spelling it out). Sheba responded by laying down.  We tried it again and she did it again.  We told Scott later that Sheba could spell.


While Ashley is born and bred a Southern gal, she has taken great pride in finding fun and interesting things to do in her own backyard. She truly does bloom where she is planted. And speaking of blooms, aren't these pretty?  This is a flower tree at Knoebels Amusement Park, about an hour or so from their house.


If you like groovin' to the oldies, the group singing here would be right up your alley, with such songs as Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, Surfin' Safari and The Twist.


For a different kind of music, check out the old Wurlitzer Organ tapping out a lively beat.


What trip to an amusement park would be complete with a ride on good old wooden roller coaster? Well, it's not my cup of tea, but the boys enjoyed it. We all later enjoyed the Black Diamond ride through a haunted coal mine.



We capped off the adventure with a ride on the giant ferris wheel.  It had been a very long time since I had ridden one, but it was fun and afforded us a great view of the park, and the surrounding countryside.


The next day we traveled to Strasburg to ride the steam train.  It was a 45 minute journey through Amish country...literally through the cornfields.  The engine puffed black smoke from it's coal fire and chugged along at a leisurely pace.  Here you can see it at the station waiting to depart on it's next run.

As many exotic places as there are to explore, there are just as many here in our own corner of the world. With every trip I take I make new discoveries, whether it is a new destination or favorite vacation spot. Many thanks to Ashley and her family for hosting us!


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