Then and Now

I miss travel! I miss exploring new cultures and cuisines, discovering picturesque landscapes, history lessons, architectural marvels and the unexpected surprises that make a trip especially memorable. I miss the people we meet along the way; locals, travelers, industry workers, tour guides. I miss all that we learn about ourselves and how we work together. I even miss all the time we spend in preparation and anticipation. I know some of you might see preparation as drudgery, but we love it. To us, it is akin to solving a riddle or finding the missing puzzle piece. The anticipation of waiting for a departure date to arrive is just icing on the cake!

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Fall – Florida Style

October is typically the beginning of ‘season’ in Florida, which is signaled by a change in temperature, a decrease in humidity and vehicles with out-of-state tags arriving to our small town almost daily. It is still warm, but not oppressively hot, and was quite rainy for the first two weeks of the month. Nevertheless, we accomplished a few things around the house, visited with friends, celebrated family, took care of our health and enjoyed nature whenever possible.

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Are You Engaged?

If there is one word I have come to detest within the past six months, that word would be ‘DROPLETS.’ But, wouldn’t you know it, Terri Webster has gone and chosen it as this week’s Sunday Stills Photo Challenge. At first I envisioned staging two people, both not wearing masks and one sneezing toward the other. That seemed a bit too ‘real’, so I took the lazy route and dug into my photo archives.

In case you don’t already know this about me, I love going to the beach and photographing big splashes at high tide. The natural shoreline of Coquina Rock in front of my favorite location, The House of Refuge, is perfect for those types of shots, as the structure provides perspective as the waves hit the rocks.

My last post featured a series of shots from this same location. I took those shots last week when we were experiencing King Tide. This photo, which is an all-time favorite is from around the same time last year. The droplets are just inches from my lens, and were an unexpected surprise. My camera was set to Automatic Focus and the lens was anticipating the tower as the center of the photo. This is the result of what I call a good oops, or happy accident. Nothing is in focus, but is has a dream like quality that I love; all created by sea spray, which could be mistaken for snow. Most people would never guess that this was taken in Florida.

Some years ago I started a photography club and we were often invited to shoot at local events. One of those was a CosPlay event at my favorite beach. The group acted out scenes from Star Wars as we positioned ourselves in various locations to maximize our advantage of the rocks and ocean. There were about twelve members of the group, so each photographer chose two people to work with, then we switched around so everyone had a chance to get lots of different photos.

When it was my turn to shoot the couple in the photo below, (who I thought had the most awesome costumes), the wind kicked up and a rain storm could be seen on the horizon. What luck! The droplets (splash) in the background of this photo along with the deteriorating sky made this shot. I processed the photo in PhotoShop Elements to increase the drama of the sky and pop the color of her cape.

What I missed, and some of you will notice, is the water droplets on my lens. Shooting at the beach does have its challenges, and you should always check your images for spots, which can be easily removed in post-processing.

I love taking action shots, and there is nothing better than capturing surfers doing what they love to do. My camera is set to burst mode for this type of photography. I track one surfer at a time and have my camera ready to zoom in as soon as they are upright on the board. Sometimes the ride is a bust and sometimes I get lucky. The droplets (fanned spray) in the photo were intentionally created by the surfer with a spin of the board, just before bailing out.

I spent a couple of hours scrolling through my photo files this week and enjoyed the trip down memory lane. My photographs reflect a joyous life, that has been well lived. These past months I have struggled to keep even the most basic cornerstones of that life in place as we face the question; what next?

What makes me smile this week is a reminder that contentment requires a high degree of engagement, curiosity, creativity and gratitude. How about you? Are you engaged with life, or just going through the motions right now?

Shared with Trent’s Weekly Smile.

Miles of Smiles

Even though yesterday was officially the first day of Fall, it is still hot, humid and tropical in South Florida. The storms lined up in the Atlantic Basin have created some very interesting situations at the beach these past two weeks. Coupled with a King tide which happens about twice per year, we have seen an enormous swell and crushing waves along our coast – not good for beach erosion, but spectacular for photography.

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Book Reviews

It has been more of the same this week in hot, humid South Florida and instead of sharing what I’m doing, (eating less and moving more), I thought you might like to hear about what I’m reading.

I have taken this ‘down time’ (are we still allowed to call it that?) to branch out beyond my two favorite genres – historical fiction and psychological thrillers. While I did not like all of the books I reviewed below, I did find something of value in each of them. When a book is relatable, even in a small way, I consider the time spent reading worthwhile.

Conviction, Denise Mina ****

Anna, who is obsessed with listening to true-crime podcasts, is startled to learn that she knows the victim in the story she is currently listening to. Leon was a character in her previous life, and while she recognizes that solving his murder could reveal her true identity, or worse, get her killed, it is something she feels compelled to do. Things just don’t add up.

The case is closed, someone is in prison, but there are too many questions that don’t have answers. It all sounds vaguely familiar. Will she be strong enough for the confrontation that must come? This novel is filled with questions, clues, narrow escapes, deception, secret identities, adultery, cover-ups and murder. As much as I tried to savor it, I could not and read it through much too quickly. My advice – slow down, take in all the details, sort the characters carefully at the beginning and enjoy the ride.

The Scent Keeper, Erica Bauermeister *****

If you liked Where the Crawdads Sing, you will love The Scent Keeper, by Erica Bauermeister, just as much if not more. A brilliant scientist, renowned for an invention that captures and preserves scents, is disgraced when the public learns that the scent papers fade and precious memories are forever lost. Unable to face the brutal onslaught of law suits and criticism, he takes his infant daughter and escapes to a remote island off the coast of Canada, to live in isolation.

Emmeline’s childhood is filled with wonder and shaped by her senses as she learns lessons from her beautiful island. Her life is filled with mermaid parties, fantastical tales and little bottles of scent papers that line the walls of their hilltop cabin. Little does Emmeline know that her father’s tales and those little bottles will unlock the mystery of who she really is and lead her back to a life she may wish she had not found.

This book is simply beautiful. Enough said.

The Jetsetters, Amanda Eyre Ward**

The Jetsetters – Prim and proper seventy year old Charlotte from Savannah, dreams of reuniting her adult children on a ten day Mediterranean cruise that she won by submitting an erotic essay to a contest. That is just the first of many deceptions being played out in this family drama. Charlotte and her children board the ship with a lot of baggage; Charlotte just lost her best friend and is adrift, Lee is a washed up actress who just got dumped by her recently famous boyfriend, Cord has just proposed to the love of his life but can’t quite muster up the courage to tell mommy dear that he is gay, and Reagan has lost her true identity as an artist as she embodies the cliche character of a frazzled mother with a wayward husband. Lee and Reagan have been estranged for years, and Cord is desperately trying to hold onto sobriety as the future of his company hangs in balance. The story touches on alcoholism, depression, mental illness, family secrets, a mother’s love, and trying to keep a family together at all costs.

To say that communication is an issue would be an understatement and it becomes frustrating to follow a story that centers around a needy, sex-obsessed 70 year old woman with three seriously messed-up adult children who need to sit down and have an honest chat. There was so much substance that could have been explored in this book, but the author seemed conflicted with what she wanted to say.

It wasn’t awful, it just never fully developed. This was a pick from Reese Witherspoon’s book club and was a big miss for me.

That’s it for me this week, how about you. Have you read anything interesting lately? Please share your recommendations, summer isn’t over yet.

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