Seaside Chat

Friday.

It’s technically Friday, although I struggle to keep track of the days.

I suppose this is sort of like a Friday Faves, but as I mentioned in Tuesday’s post, it’s more like a seaside chat.

Seaside Chat.

Miss Sunshine and I moved into our little cottage last Friday. We are some blocks from the beach, but I’ve timed it and it’s about a 7 minute walk.

Sunset.

I’ve been able to get down there most nights for sunset. The two that I’ve missed were due to rain, not laziness on my part.

The colors in the sky are always spectacular, even on the less than stellar sunset nights.

Dinner and Dancing.

My aunt that traveled to Scotland with us last year has joined some social groups and on Wednesday they go to a restaurant that has a live DJ/singer and dancing. She invited Miss Sunshine and I and my mother to join her. The singer was crazy good. I had to do a double take to make sure that he wasn’t just playing music.

Miss Sunshine declined to join us in dancing, but the three of us got out there and “shook our groove thang”.

You might be wondering about that spectacular bruise on my arm. If not, I’m gonna tell you about it anyway. While traveling down, Miss Sunshine and I stopped for gas and a bathroom break. The door to the stall was somewhat unwieldy and as I turned to close it, the purse hook scraped my arm.

It was enough that I thought I’d bruise since I bruise so easily. However, the scrape covered less than a dime sized spot. I did not expect a bruise so large. It’s so glaring that every single family member has asked what happened AND I’ve gotten to sport that monstrosity at the beach for a week. It’s fading, but it’ll still be a while.

Biking.

The cottage has two bikes so Miss Sunshine and I have done some exploring on them.

Paddleboard.

We brought our paddleboard down with us. The Gulf is pretty calm at this time of year so it’s been fun to take that out.

When we were down on Wednesday, a manatee came swimming along the coastline and later we could see a dolphin out frolicking and heading toward the pier to catch the fish that congregate there.

Shopping.

Yesterday, Miss Sunshine and I did a little shopping for her school clothes. Then we met my mom and sister-in-law for lunch. Later, we went to both of my aunt’s house to visit. Today, we will go visit my grandfather and tonight will be meeting one of my aunt’s at the beach to watch the sunset.

It sounds like go,go,go…and sort of is, but there are moments of relaxation as well. I’m still finishing up my month of writing and just realized July is almost upon me.

Time to figure out my challenge for that month. Any suggestions?

Upcoming.

Along with more family visiting, we have some upcoming fun times in the works. We are supposed to go to an Escape Room. We have a family dinner out planned with my parents, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my two nephews. We’ll be celebrating the 4th of July. How and where is still in determination mode. We are also taking a day trip to Busch Gardens to seek out some thrilling roller coasters. I’m sure I’m leaving things out, but we will also stop once again in Gainesville on the return home and I will see my grandparents and my cousin that I couldn’t catch on the way down.

I’ll also be making sure that I try to catch as many sunsets at the beach as I possibly can!

As I mentioned before I began this trip and as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I am slow on my replies and making it by to read what many of you have been up to. Most of my evening downtime is spent chatting or playing board games with Miss Sunshine. I will get through my emails and comments, just bear with me in the process.

I hope that you all are having a beautiful Friday!

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Let your light shine!

Amy

Still Here

Still Here.

Just in case you thought I’ve disappeared from the blogosphere, I wanted to pop in and tell you that I’m still here.

I think that this may the longest that I’ve ever gone without writing a post.

11 days…in fact.

I’ve missed you all, but have also found little time to sit down and write. I have fully been embracing living in the moment.

This morning Miss Sunshine is sleeping in so I thought I’d pop in to catch up with you all.

After my last Friday Faves, I started preparing for my 3 weeks journey down to Florida.

Our upstairs bathroom needs a complete remodel and the hubby and Big Mr. will be working on that while I’m gone. I picked out tiles and a few other things that I didn’t want to do via text.

Big Mr. returned from his week down in Myrtle Beach. A high school graduate. It still seems surreal.

Gainesville.

We packed the Jeep on Monday night and then Miss Sunshine and I set out early Tuesday morning. We knew that it would be a long day. The GPS said about 9 1/2 hours of drive time. Once you included stops, we were on the road for 11 hours. Luckily, it was an uneventful 11 hours.

Our destination that day was to stop at my Dad’s sister’s house.  If you’ve been following my blog for some time, then you are already aware of the fact that she is only 5 days older than me. The relationship was more like cousins and sometimes like sisters {probably the fighting part. ;)} . I’ve spoken about her Lupus and of my travels to her wedding. She is one of those few in my life who have known me since the beginning and no matter our length of time apart we can always pick up where we left off.

…and that we did. We stayed up until 2 in the morning, catching up, and reminiscing. I stayed until about 1 p.m. the next day, but then we needed to get on the road to Naples.

Naples.

It’s about a 4 1/2 hour drive to Naples from Gainesville.

In Ocala, we stopped at Chick-fil-a to grab a bite to eat. Imagine my surprise when I came out of the bathroom stall and ran into one of my girlfriends from when I lived in Okeechobee. It was one of those “it’s a small world” moments. Miss Sunshine and I continued south, but did get stuck for 45 minutes in a wreck around Englewood. It was a great relief to finally get to my parent’s house.

I stayed up until 2 a.m. catching up with my dad and brother (see a pattern here)

The next day I met a girlfriend for lunch. We were neighbors when I lived in Naples and our children are similar in ages. It was great to catch up in person.

I met my mom and Miss Sunshine over at my aunt’s house. Then my uncle stopped by. Then my other aunt showed up. And then my cousin. It was all impromptu. They didn’t even know I’d be there.

…these are some of the things I miss about home.

That night I only stayed up until midnight!

We moved into the cottage on Friday. It’s within walking distance of the beach. And so I made sure that I was there for sunset.

On Saturday, Miss Sunshine and I went for a morning run. The first photo is the view that morning. Later in the morning, Miss Sunshine and I took the paddleboard down to the beach and spent some time on it. Then my mom, sister-in-law and my two nephews met us there for some more fun in the sun.

Miss Sunshine and I had planned to go with my mom and aunt to SummerJazz on the Gulf at the Naples Beach Hotel, but the weather was rainy so we opted for dinner instead.

On Sunday, we met my mom and aunt for a kayak trip. We left out of Isle of Capri from the Fish House Restaurant. We skirted along the mangroves of Johnson Island and decided to beach ahead. I don’t think that beach has an actual name because I’m pretty sure we didn’t go as far as Sea Oat Island. We hadn’t seen any dolphins so we thought we’d travel a little farther up the coast of the beach and suddenly we saw a set. I was last in line because my mom hadn’t ever kayaked and I wanted to keep pace behind her. Miss Sunshine took off and they even swam under her boat. She was close enough to constantly see their shadows. It was very exciting for her! I love dolphins and was happy that we were able to see a set.

After that, we kayaked back and had lunch.

Monday was another morning run and then some beach time.

No rain that night meant I went back to bask in another sunset.

I am a lover of shells so I am constantly scouring the piles.

The floor of the Gulf right now is filled with thousands of sand dollars. They even turn our toes yellow because they are constantly below our feet.

They are sea urchins that are brownish with many hairlike spines that help them move along the ocean floor. But they are alive, so we pick them up to stare and then return them quickly to their home. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to take a live one. Often you will find broken pieces of them amongst the shells.

However, last night I found a complete skeleton.

And then I watched a glorious sunset.

I hear Miss Sunshine beginning to stir and I am planning to cook her some bacon, eggs, and toast. Add a cup of OJ and a little sea breeze and I think it’ll be a lovely morning indeed.

I’ll be back to check in during my time here, but my posts will be more like seaside chats.

I hope that you all have been living in the moment as well.

I’d love to hear about what has been going on in your days.

She loved the sea. She liked the sharp salty smell of the air, and the vastness of the horizons bounded only by a vault of azure sky above. It made her feel small, but free as well. - George R.R. Martin

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Friday Faves Edition 66

Friday.

It’s Friday and as promised, I’m back!!

Last Friday, I was preparing to watch my oldest son graduate from high school!

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Friday Faves.

Sometimes the term Friday Faves doesn’t seem quite the accurate statement. I definitely have some faves to share, but I also have things that are not faves (far from it, in fact) that I need to talk about as well.

Life.

A conversation about life…my life…the lives of others…life in general.

Before Graduation.

Leading up to Big Mr.’s graduation, our schedule was pretty chaotic.

Mr. D had a random schedule because he had some finals to take and they are given in two hour windows.

Miss Sunshine had an 8th grade field trip to Washington D.C. on June 5th. We had to have her to the school by 4:45 a.m., with a “planned” pick up time that night of midnight. The best laid plans…right?! I know that they can’t calculate traffic and never come back at that time. We had Big Mr. on standby to pick her up. I stayed awake, but barely. She got in about 1:00 a.m. Her English teacher had told them there would be a quiz the last day of school, so she chose to go in for that morning block. I’ll refrain from publicly making commentary on my thoughts surrounding the situation.

My parents got in Wednesday afternoon. We took them up to the Roanoke Star on Thursday and then Thursday night, I took them on a drive through downtown Roanoke. Mostly we stayed around the house visiting.

Dress Rehearsal.

Big Mr. tried on his cap and gown for us and my mom and I snapped a few pics. There are some that are quite hilarious because his attention span for photos is rather short and he starts being silly to indicate “enough”. I’m sure if he could have gotten away with wearing flip flops to his actual graduation, he would have.

Graduation Day.

While he did wear khakis, boat shoes, a dress shirt and tie to his graduation, his one claim to his own personal style was the necklace.

The necklace is a strand of cedar beads. That is what I was told they are called when I bought them from a roadside stand in Arizona on my honeymoon. I purchased them because they keep nightmares away and while they were worse in my 20’s, nightmares are a frequent part of my dreams. In digging around, it seems that the necklace is mainly known as a Navajo Ghost Bead Necklace and is made from Juniper Berries.

Big Mr. was wearing them because he’s been wanting to rock some beads recently, but it still felt special because even though I purchased other jewelry and pottery on my honeymoon, this is the once piece that I bought because of the story behind it. While I don’t sleep in necklaces (I have a fear of strangulation) and so didn’t advocate it for my children, I did hang them above the bed of one of my children when they were having night terrors.

The beads are also thought to represent an interconnection of the earth, trees, animals and humans and bring harmony and safety to the wearer. What a perfect thing to wear on such an important day. One teacher did suggest he remove them, but he just tucked them in a little.

Party Time.

In my past, I used to host our entire family in Florida for parties. It felt a little strange that it was only my parents, but we embraced the time to celebrate together.

Photos.

Big Mr. had already stripped out of the cap and gown before I made it through the nasty graduation traffic and back home. I may have him put it back on and snap more photos, but for today, I’m happy with the few that I was able to capture.

Beach Week.

Big Mr. left for beach week along with many of his graduating classmates. He will return home soon. The house feels a little quieter with him away, but I know it won’t be long until this is the norm.

Death.

I don’t know how far news travels, but you may have heard about the triple homicide in Bent Mountain, Virginia. If you hadn’t and your breath has just been taken away, that is how I felt Wednesday morning. I don’t watch the news very often and hadn’t recently. I heard about it from my hairdresser. When she told me their ages, I suspected that either Big Mr. or Mr. D might know the people. She didn’t know the names, but I pulled out my phone and googled it. I knew right away that it was likely that the boys might know them. They did. The 20 year old was a skateboarder, something my boys did quite often when they moved here. The 18 year old girl, a classmate of Big Mr.

I knew her name.

It’s strange the little things you remember. Her name felt familiar because the last name is the same as someone well-known in this country. It made me stop a little longer and notice it at that time. I had read a quote from her in the yearbook. They were words about travel and culture, something that you know I am passionate about. Words that she will never get to fulfill. Ones that have been horribly stripped away from her. It broke my heart both as a mother and as a human. A week ago, I watched her walk across the stage and take her diploma in hand. The world a bright, open future. A world stolen.

The community is in shock, three families left without a piece of their lives and countless others heartbroken over never seeing their smiling faces again.

Be the light.

I have to believe that the good in the world outweighs those who are blackened with evil. Many days I fail to be the person I’d like to be, but I still try to spread my light through the little circle of influence that I have.

I encourage you to be the light as well.

You may have noticed that I’ve been a little quiet on the blog and social media front. I have been writing more and reading more and trying to be fully present when my family  is home.

Miss Sunshine and I head down to Florida next week. While I will miss my hubby and the boys tremendously, my heart is happy that I will be seeing family and friends that I have missed. I will be letting them know how important they are to my life by making time to just be present with them.

Still, I’ll be working on my photos and the blog in the wee hours of the nights and mornings, but I expect to only be here a few times a week during the three weeks that I am gone.

I hope that you have a stunning weekend and light-filled week. I hope there are more smiles than tears and that you find a moment to speak a kind word into somebody’s soul.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Martin Luther King Jr quote quotes photoquote

Let your light shine!

Amy

Some of My Favorites

 

Weekly Photo Challenge.

Many of you who read my blog regularly are aware of the fact that I participate in a weekly photo challenge.

I enjoy the process because it helps me think about my photos in a different way. Quite often it also call upon my imagination as I try to interpret my take on the challenge.

The photo challenge is hosted by the Daily Post at WordPress. After many years, they have decided that the challenge will come to a close. This past week has been the final prompt.

Some of My Favorites.

I am coming in at the deadline because I lack time management skills I have family coming in for the oldest’s graduation, which is this Friday, and end of school year obligations for three teens keeps me busy.

The prompt for this final week is All-Time Favorites.

I’ve captured many photos that have become my favorites over the course of the past 2 1/2 years. However, instead of digging deep into my archives, time requests that I share some recent favorites.

Photographer. |Sunset at Naples Pier. 2018

This photo was taken by my mother and edited by me.

I don’t always love myself captured in front of the camera, but are moments when I am that can transport me back to that very second.

I arrived into Naples (Florida), which is my hometown, in order to fly out the next day for the U.K. My mother and I visited some family and then made our way to the pier to watch the sunset.

I was in the middle of my yoga pose challenge and she coaxed me into completing it on the beach (I’m not one for striking a pose in front of people). It’s probably one of my favorites of the challenge, you can find it here.

Then it was time to capture some of the sunset.

I was adjusting the settings when she snapped this photo.

Pelican. |Sunset at Naples Pier. 2018

It’s not often that my sots line up just how I’d envisioned them when you are accounting for a moving object.

However, this time I captured the pelican in flight, wings extended and still had the sun’s rays, the pier, and a boat (which would not normally be that close to the pier, but that section is closed due to damage it sustained last year during  Hurricane Irma.)

Arthur’s Seat. |Edinburgh, Scotland. 2018

I’m sure this has its own name, but I haven’t yet discovered it (if you have, feel free to chime in and let me know). One of the things that we wanted to do on our return to Edinburgh was climb Arthur’s Seat.

Arthur’s seat is an ancient volcano and offers beautiful views of the city. It is also the location of the Radical Road, built by the unemployed weavers from the west of Scotland after the Scottish Insurrection. While I do not know if my ancestors helped build the Radical Road, I do descend from some weavers who lived nearer to Glasgow.

We began our hike from the Holyrood Park car parking area. We followed the signs marked “main trail” (which is not the Radical Road because that appeared steeper and my mother is a Floridian flatlander). This peak was a the beginning of the hike.

Be aware that there are numerous routes to the summit. We did not return the way we ascended, which was unintentional. I see the routes listed as colors, but if there are markings I missed those. My experience is seeing the blazes used in the forests surrounding me here in Virginia, so that was what I was expecting.

I will do a future post on the actual hike and include more photos from that journey.

Callanish Standing Stones. |Isle of Lewis, Scotland. 2018

One of our main desires on this journey was to see the Callanish Standing Stones.

We arrived early to avoid the crowds and were mesmerized by the space.

The stones are 5,000 years old.

Even older than Stonehenge.

This is site I. We also visited sites II and III.

I have plenty more to share from this journey so look for that in a future post as well.

Photography.

One of the parts of the photo challenge journey that I have enjoyed is meeting others who were also participating.

As a beginning, amateur photographer, I have learned so much through those I have met.

I plan to continue working on my skills. Since the photos above were shot in raw, which I am just learning to work with, you may see them come back in new, or different, or possibly even better ways.

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still. - Dorothea Lange. Photo quote placed over photo of Victoria Street in Edinburgh Scotland

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 65

Friday.

Hello Friday!!

Bring on the weekend!!

I say that, but the forecast is still calling for thunderstorms. They appear to be scattered storms, so I’m hoping there will be some breaks of sunshine in between.

How is the weather in your area?

 

Friday Faves.

I do have some Friday Faves to share, but also just some news about life and such.

Flooding.

It had rained here most of the time that I was away in the U.K. That led to saturated grounds. The area of Roanoke in which I live was hit with a storm last Sunday that dropped 6 1/2 inches of rain in three hours, causing flash floods and mudslides.

I have some friends that shared that they had to be diverted off of the main road because sections of it were impassable. Big Mr was with a friend over near our local library and said a flooded area was as wide as the Roanoke River. They had to turn around because the water too deep, and that was even barely into the swath.

I was at home quite oblivious to the extent at which the waters were rushing until I saw footage. Our property slopes downward with our home sitting on a hill. We are toward the bottom of what you could call a mountain…or a larger hill, but I’m not sure there is anything that would mudslide toward us. The placement of our home also means that our basement doesn’t flood.

Driving Miss Sunshine to school and passing along the road that runs near the high school, there are piles out for the trash that you can tell came from flooded basements. My heart is heavy for all those who have damage to deal with and memories that have been lost.

Memorial Day.

Monday was Memorial Day.

I spent time with my family and the hubby and I looked for some furniture for the back deck. Right now we are down to two plastic adirondack chairs that we bought for seating when we first moved to Virginia because our furniture hadn’t yet arrived. Of the two that are left of the initial five, one is broken and it is a matter of time before the seat fully gives way.

I didn’t find anything, but I do have some ideas for what I may get.

The Next Phase.

Big Mr. doesn’t graduate from high school until next Friday, but he is finished with school.

On Tuesday, they had a Senior Day where there is a field day for the Seniors (this was moved indoors due to the rain), and along with their graduation practice, they decorate their caps to showcase where they are going after high school.

University.

Big Mr. will be heading to Virginia Tech in the fall. They sent him this sign to stick to his cap. Some of Seniors get very creative in decorating their caps (everything must be removable for the actual graduation ceremony).

My High School Graduation Memories.

It’s funny what your mind chooses to remember.

I needed to get the wrinkles out of his gown. I was talking with my mom about how strange it was that they come all folded in a package with deep wrinkles and asked her if she had to iron my gown for high school graduation.

The answer was yes.

And yet, I have no recollection about how I received my cap and gown, only wearing it (wrinkle free). I also recall a big discussion with my three close friends about the possibilities of rebelling against the fact that we were expected to wear dress shoes. I’m pretty sure there were more details to the type of shoe required, but we were told that they would be inspecting them in the lineup, prior to our ceremony, and we would be pulled from the lineup if not wearing dress shoes. We tried to come up with a way to switch to white Converse after inspection. We even had a teacher who encouraged our idea (he was a total nonconformist). In the end…we became like sheep and conformed because we had family in the stands and didn’t want to take the chance of not getting to walk in graduation.

What do you remember about your own high school graduation?

Yoga.

This week also finished out my May Challenge…31 days of yoga poses. It was wonderful to have Dee Dee come along with me on this journey.

I shared my pose each day on my Instagram Stories.

At this time, I have all 31 days shared on my Instagram Page under the Highlights section.

I thought I’d share a couple of my favorites from this week.

The Wheel Pose shown above wasn’t technically on the pose challenge. It was on the day of the Camel Pose. I can’t seem to touch my toes in Camel Pose without bringing my hips farther back than my knees and yet I can do the backbend required for Wheel Pose.

This shot was me proving to myself that I could still do the Wheel Pose.

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Dancer Pose.

Dancer Pose is one my favorite poses.

I feel graceful when I am in the pose, even if that is not the visual reality.

I was never a dancer, but I recall a time in my drama class where somebody’s mother came in to show us some ballet moves for the choreography of a musical we would be performing. I can’t remember exactly what she said to me, but it was a compliment in regards to the fact that my long arms and legs made the moves look nice.

I was the person in drama who took the leftover roles because I loved acting (playing the part of someone else), but did not audition (which required “me” to get up in front of my peers) for any part. This compliment from a stranger in front of my class meant a lot and stuck with me.

Crow Pose.

The final pose was crane pose. Crane Pose requires straight arms and your knees pressed into your armpits. I was happy with crow pose. I’m of the opinion that any arm balance is a good arm balance.

Writing.

If you have already seen my June Challenge, then you know that today I will begin spending 20 minutes a day working a story or two that I began writing last year or possibly even coming up with an entirely new story.

This does mean that I will again be learning time management.

Film.

I had considered making June a month of no TV, but I do have a couple of shows that I like to watch with the hubby and rarely watch it outside of that.

Even on the long haul flight to and from the U.K., I did more reading than movie watching.

I managed to start and finish The Handmaid’s Tale and I started Red Queen. Once home, I’ve been a little sidetracked by simultaneously reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I stumbled upon it at the library and recognized it from knowing that she gave a TED talk on it (which I haven’t yet watched).

However, on the way over I did watch Lady Bird, which I watched again last night. This time with the hubby.

I also watched Black Panther and It on the return flight.

I didn’t love It as much as I expected to love it. I read and watched lots of Stephen King in my late teens.

Have you watched any great movies or shows lately?

How about any amazing books?

Outlander.

I also picked up Season 1 of Outlander. I’m always late to hop on the bandwagon, but after my time in the Highlands I’m curious to see the show.

What about you? Have you seen Outlander?

The photo is from our day trip around the Isle of Skye. This was our tour guide Sandy and the photo was taken toward the end of the trip.

That is Eilean Donan castle in the background.

I’m still getting around to processing my photos from my time away. Graduation time is a busy time.

In case you missed it, I did share some views from the River Clyde in Glasgow in this post and some Doors of London in this post.

I will not be back next week with a round of Friday Faves because Big Mr.’s graduation is in the middle of the day and my parents will be coming up for that as well.

I’ll have some posts up during the week though and will be back for Faves the following Friday.

I hope that you have an awesome weekend and week ahead.

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Let your light shine!

Amy