No Magic Spell🎇

What???????? No magic spell to cure ADHD and erase all the distractibility, and impulsivity that it drags along with this neurodevelopmental disorder. No wizardry that will ease the additional challenges that ADHD brings to the task of losing weight …

Self-regulation mechanisms – the deficits of self-regulation of attention, self-regulation of emotion, and the short-term memory are demons that I have struggled with …although now they are no longer phantom ghosts, I must now come to an acceptance of their reality for me, and find ways to banish them or at least keep them at bay …

They are like the sirens of old …singing the enticing music of beckoning carbohydrates …wrong signals about what is ‘right’ …the same deficit of impulse control that causes me to struggle with in interrupting conversations, making it more challenging to not respond to stress by stuffing myself with that wonderful dopamine feeling that is released with the sugary carby food that I crave in that moment …

I have hated myself for years …because I ‘knew’ what I needed to do …and sometimes for periods of time, I might have been able to contain the overwhelming desires …mostly through sheer willpower and situations that were supportive unbeknownst to me …but then the virtuoso’s that played the music in my brain, regained control …

I had come to have no faith or believe in myself …hate and self-loathing created such havoc …seas of despair ravaged my shores for decades …understanding the arduous tasks that must jealously guarded, give me the advantage of envisioning a possibility of reaching the shore of a healthy life…aka my the mountain top …so microscopic, yet it is there… but then I have lived my life in the embers of hope …my angels working overtime to keep the small fire burning in the midst of the gales of hopelessness that constantly blew across the landscape of my mind …

I have not come to terms with the diagnosis fully …I do not yet see the blessing or the positive aspects of having a non-neurotypical brain …it will take time to learn to love myself …A misogynistic father, a restrictive controlling cult and all my life challenges did not serve to plant the seed of self-love …I am not a victim to that anymore, and I will overcome this challenge, as I have others …

🤔 I have started researching the best way forward from where I am currently standing …just general scientific knowledge has shown the direct correlation between the fuel we put into our bodies and how the engine (brain) functions …the incorrect or substandard (Western type diet) will cause the circuits to misfire …

There are important ‘rules’ for me that I have found by testing and searching for the magic bullet with weight loss, which assist with my mental health …

  • Avoiding artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives in processed foods
  • Eliminating refined sugars. Who is surprised with that one😂The annoying refined sugar bugs impair brain function and really exacerbates my mood disorders …
  • Take Magnesium, B6, Vitamin D and Omega 3 (are helpful to me)
  • Morning Exercise. 30 minutes of an aerobic exercise that increases the dopamine to get me going in the right direction
  • IF 16 hours (intermittent Fasting). I don’t have to worry about what to eat or when to eat. I do always need to be mindful, to eat after that, because if I get too hungry, all impulse control goes out the window.
  • Support to keep me focused and on track. I recently enlisted a new trainer that is super supportive and understands where I am at …is gentle, yet still pushes me to go the distance. Being responsible to someone, other than my husband, is also a a supplement to the process
  • My ADHD medicine is necessary, along with support of a therapist that understands the struggle …

I had the ‘please, let me just die’ flu last week, so that did help with beginning the process of changing my eating. This week, I am focusing on creating exercise habits …it is more sustainable for me to start one habit at a time …

Routine is my secret weapon, it assists me with a sense of the time of day, as well as the day of the week, not to mention my goals and priorities. I don’t need to stress about what I need to do, when I need to do it …as much as I detest routines being a free-spirited Aquarian, it does increase my ability to cope and stay on my meandering path … And not every day lends itself to following the routine to the dots and tittles …but it is a skeleton that is flexible … perfection being unattainable, 80/20 is a lifesaving rule

  • Monday. Weight-In. 30 minutes 8am exercise. IF Fasting till 12
  • Tuesday. Gym Training 1:30 pm. IF Fasting till 12
  • Wednesday. 30 minutes 8am. IF Fasting till 12
  • Thursday is 8am exercise. IF Fasting till 12
  • Friday. Gym Training 1:30. IF Fasting till 12
  • Saturday. 30 minutes 8am exercise. IF Fasting till 12
  • Sunday is my ‘Rest’ Day…Breakfast and a fun day with my husband💕

There are additional changes that are in the wings …for flexibility and strength training …the trainer suggested swimming exercises classes at the gym and a ‘gentle yoga’ class …currently it sounds overwhelming … yet I only need take one day at a time…

Today, Friday is my second gym day …doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment …but a rung in the ladder …a step ‘at a time’ on this long trek toward the top of the mountain … with courage I am taking each day slowly and with a deliberate focus …as much as possible with an ADHD brain 😂

“Courage wasn’t a matter of taking the whole mountain in a single massive leap. Courage was taking it one step at a time, doing what was necessary now, preparing for the next step, and refusing to worry about whether some step in the future would be the one that would break him.”

– Timothy Zahn, ‘Star Wars’.

I am documenting this journey with ADHD and weight loss at the awesome age of 60+, so if there is anyone that feels hopeless and lost in the gloomy obscurity of life…I leave a little of myself to shine✨ in the mire of despondency that we all feel burdened with at times …

“Don’t feel alone, because there is always someone out there who loves you more than you can imagine.” – Anurag Prakash Ray.

Sending love for your day … love is the magic that creates possibilities where there appears only an abyss of nothingness …Although you may not know me, and I may not have seen you in this physical world …I know you are there, and I walk beside you …may these words wrap a warmth and comforting blanket around your heart …💌

135 Days…

Back home from a cold and rainy forest holiday in Hogsback (strange name with unknown origin)…supposedly the place that inspired JRR Tolkien… nestled in the Amatola Mountain range and housing the oldest forest in South Africa…

With no wi-fi or internet…you can lose yourself in the pure magic…the earthy smells and fragrances of the natural world triggering old memories, and creating new ones…the heavy, heady smell of damp forest…

It sits on your shoulder and seeps into your senses… excited to see the colors and smell of …I am missing the crisp air and the vibrate reds, and oranges so beautifully mixed with muted shades of yellow and brown…such a kaleidoscope of color…my heart sang…and I still reel with the beauty that is just too exquisite to be able to find the right words…

“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.” ~Unknown

An apt quote for the mission that I am on to let go of the unhealthy part of myself…physically and mentally…

A celebration before we left…for Mr. P’s birthday at a restaurant called Natti’s Thai Kitchen

Why can I never remember the effects of food and drink that are so detrimental to me…in the suspended moments of enjoyment with great friends and wonderful food…there was definitely too much alcohol imbibed by me…

I don’t normally drink alcohol…but it difficult for me in a social situation to abstain totally…normally one glass is sufficient…but that night everyone brought alcohol…gin and several bottles of wine…after one…it was too easy to allow my glass to keep being filled…

A fact of life…our bodies weaken with age…and I am working harder at trying to find a happy and healthy balance…drinking more than an occasional glass of wine is not on the list any more…but I get caught up in the frivolity and joy…I wasn’t prepared for the situation…

With being highly sensitive…the next day I reaped the effects…hormonal imbalance…depression is the worst…teary eyed…extra sensitive to every word that was spoken to me…morose and definitely not motivated to do anything…

At least I realized what was happening…and there is not much that I can do, except wait it out…but it always feels like a wasted day…miserable…you would think it would be a huge red flag…memory is so not reliable sometimes…

Difficult to eat correctly and track…motivate myself to exercise…all the routines that provide optimum living for me…Didn’t really have time to dwell on it much…getting ready to leave for Hogsback…such a needed break…

I ground in Nature…it is the most healing place that I can be…and the forest is probably the number 1 place that I love to just get lost in…wrapped in the soothing arms of Mother Earth…Stepping into a forest is like walking through a gate…I can release all the fuss and stress behind…to be greeted with peace and fragrant nature.

I didn’t track and was worried that I would gain weight…but the 80/20 rule applied…stress is outlawed during breaks from “real” life…we walked… hiked…over 10,000 steps per day…up and down…carrying photographic equipment…

Didn’t learn my lesson…Gin Tasting for me…

Don’t you just love the hat🤣

Was it worth it…I came back with a 2 lb. loss…so in that respect…it did not hurt my progress…but I don’t enjoy the punishment that ensues… my feelings of peace and happiness…

I made a choice…I don’t think I’ll be a teetotaler… but limiting myself to ONE drink is doable…there were other choices that hung on the coattails of that one…choosing to give up processed wheat and sugar…for a couple of weeks to confirm if my sensitivities are affected… there are a few studies that show that refined sugar and wheat have a drug-effect on the brain…

It worked when I lost the initial fifty pounds…but I didn’t eat fruit…because even natural sugars can sometimes cause my insulin to go wonky and I get hungry and hangry…and there goes the program…

Just one day at a time…for me it is difficult right now…carbs are my absolute fav…and I really resist the thought that it is imperative for me to be healthy…”If you resist giving up certain foods it is likely you’re addicted or intolerant to them”…and I cringe…clench my jaws…become very irritated at the thought…hmmm

I’m on my third day…just taking one day at a time…I’ll let you know how it goes…

Finally…three years later…wild baboons running wild in town
Rain Soaked…

Have a Magical Day warmed with Love❣

A Place that Time Forgot

In the heart of the sizzling arid Karoo lies a small quaint village…Nieu-Bethesda…A little artist town with dusty untarred roads…approximately 50K (31 miles) from the town of Graaff-Reinet…

Karoo…not a Kangaroos in sight…maybe a herd of  Springbok or the ever present dorper sheep with their distinctive black heads…a mountain tortoise crossing the road…now and then…clean shaped hills or koppies capped with the hard jagged rock formations formed over millions of years..

The original inhabitants were the Bushman or San people…who named the area the “Karoo”…a Bushman word meaning “dry space”…

I had never traveled into this semi-desert region since I arrived in South Africa… on the central plateau of the western half of South Africa… place of relentless sunshine… a vast, open, arid region dominated by low-shrub vegetation and abundance of rock cropping’s…

Halfway to Camdeboo National Park in the Karoo

Doesn’t look like a desert…looks can be deceiving though…in stopping to take this photograph…the surrounding area told a vastly different story…the photos below were all taken at the same location…recent rain in the area had brightened up the brown to a more vibrant green…

Mr. P and I had taken a couple of days to breathe the desert air to check out a birding route that was located in a national state Park named Camdeboo…a park that literally surrounds the town of Graaff-Reinet… over 240 bird species and the famous breathtaking Valley of Desolation…towering dolerite columns rising to heights of up to 120 meters…formed by volcanic and erosive forces over a period of 200 million years…Wow!!!

It was over 100F that day…hot and windless…sweating (or glistening as the ladies are more prone to do) as I climbed over stones and up a narrow dirt path to the top…the view was breathtaking…towers of Sheer cliffs and precariously balanced columns of Dolerite rise 120 metres from the valley floor … worth the trip to see what millions of years have created…makes me wonder what the next 120 million years will create on this magic blue marble in the sky…

We still had some time in the day and following the suggestion of our hostess at the B&B…we took a short drive to visit the renown “Owl House” in Neiu Bethesada…off we went to check out this quirky little town…

Almost missing the turnoff…just a small country road…surrounded by fence…scrub land…with interest in what we might find…we traveled on…

The narrow road started slowly spiraling downward…descending we were on the outside edge of the road…I held my breath, closed my eyes, and wondered if we should go back when I saw a car coming towards us…just nowhere to turn around… and …after all…just another adventure

Breathing again at the bottom of the hill…we continued forward…around a sharp bend in the road…almost running into a white farmhouse smack dab in the middle…delineating where the road changed from blacktop to a dirt and gravel lane…how could we be on the right road to the famous “Owl House”…where thousands of visitors stop in to see this treasure of either weird or wonderful (depending on your preferences) art is located…onward, Mr. P…

Dusty, dirty road that seemingly led nowhere…passing abandoned buildings…now only inhabited by Mother Nature and her children…

Like a valley of desolation…everything in ruins

We continued…the road would eventually end up somewhere…we hoped…

Tree lined dirt roads…a dusty padstal…which is an Afrikaans word that many locals use, and roughly translated means “shop next to the road”… so, there was life somewhere…at least at one time in this remote part of the world…finally the town came into sight…

Quiet street scene in Nieu Bethesda
It was not what I had envisioned…but there was an other worldly charm about it…https://www.karoo-southafrica.com/

Our first stop was not the “Owl House”…but the Kitching Fossil Exploration Center…Mr. P’s ongoing fascination with dinosaurs, our history, and how the earth began…

A small museum that shows fossils of life 50 million years before the dinosaurs…what life was like in Nieu-Bethesda 255 million years ago…James William Kitching (6 February 1922 – 24 December 2003) was a South African vertebrate paleontologist who was born in Nieu Bethesada…at six years old he scoured the countryside to find specimens for a paleontologist named Robert Broom…his becoming one of the world’s greatest fossil finders had begun…I had never been aware of the life in the Permian Period, “populated by mammal-like reptiles called therapsids”…learned something new

https://www.sa-venues.com

Down the street to the where Helen Elizabeth Martins who was a shy, retiring recluse… rarely seen outside on the streets of Nieu Bethesda… where she create a magical inner kingdom that she breathed into life…

Miss Helen’s imagination transformed humble materials such as cement, glass, mirrors and wire into a secret, magical world that she shared with few, drawing upon Bible stories, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the Orient, and everyday objects – all of which blended to create a personal cosmology.

https://theowlhouse.co.za

Her life had been tragic and unhappy…after the death of her mother and abusive father…she began to use her inner creativity and imagination to transform her home into a wonderland of color, light, and texture … an escape from the dullness and despair of her previous life…

She transformed every space within her house…changed by finely ground glass of assorted colors using an old-fashioned coffee grinder…

The sadness of her life was palatable to me…the black ground glass in her father’s bricked up old room…called the Lion’s Den… the fact that she committed suicide when she found out that she was going blind due to the long-term exposure to the crushed glass she used…yet, she had been happy creating and envisioning new work daily with her helpers…and left behind the richness of an “outsider” artist …

“Over the years Miss Helen and her helpers added to the mostly quasi-religious tableaus. Mythical figures started to appear, half human, half creature. Today it is a forest of some 500 statues, intense, baffling and compelling. Miss Helen committed suicide in 1976 by swallowing caustic soda. She left behind a legacy of intrigue – her kingdom sparks the imagination like few other places in South Africa…”

https://www.sa-venues.com

At the Owl House…I focused on the beauty that spoke to me…the vibration of the earth…alive and creating poetry for those who listen with their heart and not just their eyes…for me it is always in the perspective…

I embrace the journey to Neiu Bethesada…not what I expected…”old places have soul” …a place of that will fill my own soul in the remembering… may your journey’s take you to all the magical places you never even began to think about…

Love, laughter and lots of magic for your life travels…

Delightful Disappointment

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment. ”

― Ansel Adams

Sometimes it is just best to enjoy the moments…when everything seems to be failing…falling apart and nothing seems to be cooperating with your agenda…find some pleasure in what is and let it wash away every drop of frustration…sometimes you may find what you were really needing in the space of time you are in…

Yesterday was like that…the photographic club takes a yearly outing for a Whale Dolphin and Penguin Island Cruise…last year had been my first and I had been new to the club and just relearning the new camera equipment and post processing applications after several decades of being out of the photography business…I felt exhilarated…everything was going to be perfect…well, I girl can hope and if I had come back with even one or two awesome photographs I would have been satisfied…I must not have gotten to 10,000 yet🤣…“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” ~Henri Cartier-Bresson

The weather had predicted rain…but the day was grey…but not raining…everything packed…lens, camera, extra batteries, snacks, water…and off Mr. P (with his binoculars) and I went…we met up with the other camera fanatics at the pier…there were more than the boat could take, and we split into two boats…

Off we went…the men in black leading the pack

The water was incredibly choppy…I had chosen a seat in front of the cabin…most had chosen to seat under the canopy…I wanted to photograph different viewpoints than the average…and then it started…

The front of the boat went up and then it went down, and the salt spray came up over the front of the boat and smacked me…from the top of my head to the seat of my pants…looking like a bedraggled puppy at that point…I wasn’t about to give up my prime spot for a little water…luckily I had used my coat to cover the camera…I would see something that I wanted to take a picture of and the boat went up and down again…as I tried to get my balance…I would slide the other way…back and forth…up and down as we headed for the island…giving up after the numerous time and with no respite in sight…I wrapped the camera up and enjoyed the sea air and roller coaster ride…it became rather exhilarating…not worrying about camera speed, aperture, ISO or composition…I breathed and smiled with the beauty of life…salt…sea…blue of sky and water…the most healing medicine for that frazzled feeling…

The sea was filled with diamonds…for the bride-to-be…the variegated colors of my entire world at that moment were too numerous to name…the white of foam and clouds…aqua…green to dark blue…shades of clearest turquoise reflected in the playful wild splashes of waves hitting the rock and bursting into joyful exuberance…I was beyond contented…

I did not come back with one photograph that I felt was great and none were exceptional…too much distance…too much movement…but sometimes we photographers just need to lay the camera down and breathe in the world and the creative energy that the entire world is filled with…

“Life keeps throwing me stones. And I keep finding the diamonds.” – Ana Claudia Antunes

More photographs of the trip at.. http://beautifultapestryoflife.com/2021/11/21/delightful-disappointment/

LIFE IS FULL OF MAGICAL DIAMOND MOMENTS….hope your life today is full of them

With Life, love, lots of laughter and magic💖…Renée

Amakhala…Game Drive

Another Day Another Sunrise

With over 240 different birds in Amakhala…no sounds of morning traffic…I woke to lovely songs of the birds…Mr. P grabbed his binoculars to tell me the names since he the avid birder…I just enjoyed the melodious sounds…opening the tent to sunrise light and grabbing a cup of coffee…I crawled back between the warm covers and just luxuriated between the sheets…no rush to get anywhere…time just delightfully relishing the morning until the grumbling stomachs forced us from our indulgent pleasures…

September is still a little cooler and I debated whether to shower in the “great outdoors”…thinking I might have to contend with something besides Mr. P and the chilly morning…picturing Norman’s trunk coming over the top…closing my eyes and I could imagine being in the middle of the jungle under a waterfall…only with warm water…I do think Tarzan would approve…definitely a repeatable pleasure-loving experience…

A short jaunt to the dining room…friendly morning greeting and smiles…no skimpy buffet…an eye pleasing array of cereals…fruit…cheeses…jams and all the accompanying accouterments…the fresh air is a great for the development of monstrous appetites…so we dug in…several times…breakfast was leisurely…the butler then handed us a menu for a “hot” breakfast…we had no idea that we had that option…vacation and over indulgence are a synonyms…do I need say more…

After breakfast we sat on the veranda outside of the lodge and watched the antics of the Nyala and Impala as they grazed the grounds…and Big Daddy trying to keep his harem in line…

Grazing Female Impalas

As a photographer…I couldn’t sit still for long…after running breakfast off…lunch was served before our game drive…there are not enough superlatives to use…

The mist was nippy and enveloped us with a cool hand…provided with warm ponchos and rain gear…it didn’t stop us…hopping up on the land rover…we were off with one of the most knowledgeable guide that I have come across with…

Game Drive View

Our guide would stop and show us indigenous plants that were used for natural medicine…such as a plant that if you pricked your skin…it would go numb…used for toothaches…species that were used for colic and almost anything that ailed a person…you forget what people did before there was a doctor a phone call away…we made a special stop so he could show us this particular spider that he watched spin and weave…never a question that he didn’t answer with pleasure…and I’m sure he heard them all a thousand times…

Surreal & Beautiful…it was like living inside a movie scene..

Every moment was full of amazement…but if I had to choose one favorite scene it would be the magnificent lion brothers…it was misting..yet there they were sleeping as though they had not a worry in the world…mist on their manes…sparkling like they were sprinkled with diamond magic…we turned the engines off and just watched them…

They are brothers and appeared almost human in the way they behaved together…I could just image the older one thinking…”sheesh, such a clown”…and then the younger rolling over and putting his paws on his brother…”but I just Looove you, bro”…

Giraffes are fairytale animals…beautiful faces with big eyes…I have this fascination with them…maybe because it was the first animal that I saw in the wild when I arrived here in South Africa…there is something so regal about them…

“A giraffe is so much a lady that one refrains from thinking of her legs, but remembers her as floating over the plains in long garb, draperies of morning mist her mirage.”

– Isak Dinesen

I am at a lost to describe the thousands of Mother Nature’s miracles that we saw that day…I do hope that you enjoyed the game drive too…❤

There is something of the marvelous in all things of nature.  

~Aristotle

~Sent with Love, laughter and magic

Amakhala…Nature in all it’s Glory

“The beauty of Africa is not man made, it is natures gift to humanity.”
― Paul Oxton

When life becomes hectic and emotional turmoil…the panic…agitation…and confusion surrounds the soul…John Burroughs said it best…”I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”

Amakhala is such a peaceful balm…nature’s delightfully restful and calming potion

Situated only about an hour (84 km) from home…a luxurious Safari Lodge is hidden in a valley of native bush…Amakhala is home to 5 of the 9 plant biomes here… the most common biome is the Albany Thicket, which is made up of dense shrubs, herbaceous plants and succulent trees…

Mixtures of Rich and Subtle hues being brushed against the canvas of the evening sky

This is a “Certificate of Excellence” award winning four star safari lodge…beginning in 1999 as a joint conservation venture between 6 families that were direct descendants of families that settled in the area in the 19th century to farm sheep and cattle…little by little the land was rehabilitated and animals that had freely roamed the area were reintroduced

One of the unfortunate consequences of Pandemic has been the loss of bookings in the tourism industry…with an unbeatable package deal we were able to book a 2 night, 3 day Safari package…a new mind boggling event in my life living here in South Africa…

I felt like I had been dropped into a magical wonderland…better than any “rabbit hole” I had gone down before…the colors of this world…the natural smells of earth and nature…the exquisite culinary tastes…the feeling of peace and calmness that can only be found in the wild…

Greeted by the most warm and amicable staff…we were immediately made to feel right at home…Norman being the most surprisingly unexpected of our welcoming committee…

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals… In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.

~Henry Beston

Norman is the wrinkly grumpy old man bachelor that freely roams the park…after luggage drop off and stretching legs…we had almost gotten to the parking area and out of the bush comes one of the largest elephant that I have encountered…and I have never seen Mr. P. reverse so quickly…Norman just slowly ambled down to us…taking his sweet time to come and investigate who the new interlopers were…

Like a crotchety old geezer…didn’t care that his lunch crumbs were still stuck on his truck…he continued to snack while he contemplated whether we should be allowed to stay…finally deciding that we were harmless…he slowly sauntered off in search of more twigs and leaves to fill the never ending elephant pit of a stomach…an elephant’s life…eat…sleep…and poop…eating about 16 hours out of the day…sleep 4 to 6 hours and producing lots and lots of manure…200 to 250 pounds per day… oh, and produce enough methane gas – LOTS AND LOTS OF GAS😂…Properly equipped, a car could travel 20 miles on the amount of methane produced by one elephant in a single day https://elephantconservation.org/elephants/just-for-kids

Quotes about Elephants (182 quotes)

I just adored the time worn gnarled and tuskless Norman…he made the entire stay specially entertaining and we missed him when he left to wander far from the camp…

A refreshing chilled glass of lemonade while checking in and then we were escorted down a path winding through native brush…escorted to our tranquil suite…tented and thatched…the perfect combination for me…I think it was what I’ve heard described as “Glamping”…the experience of the “Great Out Doors” with the essentials of mattress, indoor toilet and running water…this was the epitome of elegance and good taste…wrapped with the wonderous sight, smell and energy of nature in all of her abundant splendor…

After a deliciously scrumptious dinner…warmed by the fire and conversation with new friends….we were escorted back to our hideaway…with all the fresh air and excitement we fell into an exhausted sleep….dreaming of all the wonders that the next day might hold…

“A well spent day brings happy sleep.” — Leonardo da Vinci

Focus your intention on your dreams, you can wave magic when you set your heart and mind to it – Author: Miranda Kerr

Rising from the Fire

Loneliness in a new country is almost a given…everyone experiences it…developing new friendships is a critical component to healthy and happy living in a new place… It has definitely been more than challenging in this smallish town where everyone knows everyone and the past presence of someone causes defenses and walls in people…but following a reigniting passion of mine…it was found… a small community of photographers here that both Mr. P (even though he is not a photographer) and we find warm, accepting and kind…

It still takes time and I have had to do my part by attending virtual meetings and outings…even when I felt like crawling back in my safe secluded shell…the art of photography is my passion…a way to savor life…a story that cannot be adequately be told in words… and now I have the chance to immerse my head, heart and eye in creating again…to blow on the minuscule embers of a past dream… I owned my own photography and art studio back in my 30’s…the dream had faded and hope dissolved when I had to sell all of my photography equipment…photography often does not provide a sustainable income for a single woman…moving onward…I finished my business degrees…and the rest is a history of working in Manufacturing…pretty far from my right-brained preference of creative pursuits…

Last month I entered photos in the club’s photo competition…after a great deal of persuasion from Mr. P…being the perfectionist that I am…I can always find flaws in the photographs that I take…but to my delightful surprise…I won two golds and a Certificate of Merit… for the Emerald Spotted Dove I took at Addo Elephant Park…

On the latest excursion with the club…we met at the Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve…one of the oldest reserves here in South Africa…The area and river was named after Marthinus van Staden, one of the area’s pioneering farmers. He was also among the first to plot a rudimentary track through the valley…it is one of the best spots to see flowering proteas in season…the calm warm spring morning showcased the splendor of the Eastern Cap’s floral kingdom at its finest…

Enjoying the extraordinary diversity and splendor of the natural Fynbos, succulents and other indigenous flora was definitely the agenda of the day…even the bees were doing headstands in pleasure with the abundance of the sweetness of spring in all its glory…

There were many types of indigenous flora and fauna to indulge the eyes and nose with…but the proteas are the most numerous…proteas date back approximately 300 million years… considered to be among the oldest families of flowering plants on the planet…

Given their name in 1735 by Carl Linnaeus…Proteas are named after Proteus, son of Poseidon, who could change his shape at will…due to the fact that they have such a huge range of shapes and sizes…they are commonly called Sugarbushes, as a result of the amount of sweet nectar they produce…the reason for the excitement of all the bees

South Africa’s pride and joy…the King Protea became the national flower in 1976…The king protea is the largest species…1 of the 330 species here…btw Australia has the largest collection with over 850 different species… It has a large flower head with petals resembling a crown and can grow up to two meters (or up to 6 ft.) high. They can produce as many as 10 flower heads in a season.

The protea is an indigenous flower of South Africa…and was chosen to represent the beauty of the land and people, the aesthetic harmony of all its cultures, and the hope of South Africa flowering as a nation…also symbolizing the continuous change and gradual transformation of the variety of cultures among the people of South Africa…

A malachite sunbird finds a landing spot. Photo by Jay van Rensburg…
web_photo_PE_fire_100617

We were amazed at the prolific amount of the exquisite floral beauty there was to photograph…in 2017 the flower reserve burned with a massive fire in the area…

No matter how hot the fire burns, a Protea always survives.

~Ab De Villiers

‘When we get a fire like this our instinctual reaction is to feel a lot of sadness for the loss of our flora and fauna. But this flora is adapted to burn, it needs to burn to live,’ ‘If fynbos doesn’t burn every 15 years or so we lose a lot of species, we lose a lot of diversity from the system and the system effectively starts to wind down and die. Fire is really important. It’s really a rebirth for the ecosystem.’

Dr. Adam West
Vibrant and unique…Proteas, which are a type of fynbos, are referred to as a pyrophylic or fire-loving vegetation, and in need to burn every few years to survive. Like the phoenix, they rise from the fire

Fire plays a role in germination and it also acts as a mineralizing agent. Some fynbos species will die when it burns and regenerate from seed stored in the canopy that is only released after a fire, while other species build up seed stores in the soil…Seed germination is stimulated directly through heat and indirectly through changed environmental conditions caused by a fire.

Dormant buds survive the wildfires that so often clear the dry Cape land, only to emerge once the fire has gone out. The plants are hardy and can withstand the toughest of weather conditions. One thing that ties all of the differently shaped and sized proteas together is their root system. The proteoid root system allows them to survive in soil that isn’t rich in nutrients…This thick underground stem contains many dormant buds…these will produce new growth after the fire…

May our roots be strong in faith and love so that if our world is burned to the ground, and we feel devoid of everything… we will survive and be reborn stronger and more beautiful…

Often from the ashes of who we were, we rise up and become who we were meant to be…our souls are indestructible and our ability to be reborn from the ashes in our lives will remain as long as our hearts beat…I am living proof💓…sent with love, blessings and magic for your life….

35+ Phoenix Quotes for Rebirth and Rising Up - Resilient

Umbulo the Dung Beetle Extordinaire…Part II

Lately the world seems like a heaping pile of poo with the ongoing Covid pandemic, riots, insurrections, political infighting and unrest, the climate crisis, unrelenting conflict and…and on and on and on…we often become numb to the magic that is at our finger tips…yet there is still wonder and amazement to be found in a every day moment…mysteries to marvel at…gifts that God hands to us in our human existence for us to open…

“traveling on the edge of a vast, floating whirlpool of stars”, alive and conscious, walking and talking on a big rock circling a bigger burning ball of gas…nearly fourteen billion years after the cosmos bubbled into being”

(Rick Hanson, Ph.D.)

In honor to the small gifts of life, and Mr. P’s request…here is the “rest of the story”…

A outstanding planetary citizen preforming a vital function…heads down…bottom ups

Umbolo climbs to the opening of his burrow squinting in the early morning spring sun…It’s October and winter has decided to bid adieu for the season…catching the “bok-bok-mak-kik” of the shy and skulking large yellow Bokmakierie with his black collar…off somewhere pecking for his breakfast of insects, small lizards, snakes, small birds and frogs….uggggg….gross and nauseating to Umbolo….shrugging…but to each his own…

Precious green thickets of spekboom with its small, star-shaped dusty pink buds doing its job of helping the environment by sponging up the carbon dioxide…and surreptitiously providing an ingredient to his own nutritious meals served by the elephants…the Acacia thorns with its conspicuous paired white long thorns 10-25 cm (4″ -10″) that would soon to a mass of sweetly-scented golden-yellow puff balls…

The karoo was definitely in nursery mode…and romance was in the air💕… Spring was here!!!!

Grumbling…his stomach reminds him that the first order of the day is nutrition…there is always such fierce competition between all his friends, relatives and competitors at the self-service take out…sometimes hundreds congregating…❓don’t know why❓…after all one elephant shares up to 150kg (330 lbs.) of poo every day…and with 600+ elephants…well, you do the math…that’s a lot of food…but like all buffets…the best parts are dried up or gone quickly if you arrive too late…

Raising his antenna with its incredible sensitive sense of smell….awww there it is…the delicious smell of fresh gourmet poo…after all he was a very fussy eater…he needed and craved the tiniest particles of the protein-rich nitrogen source needed to keep his muscles strong💪…clicking it up a notch for fast mode to the elephant provided buffet…he’s off…🏁

Yes, Umbolo arrived early enough…food still warm and fresh…but no time to slow down…he was at risk of being assaulted by Isela or one of his gang of thieves…they were relentless…although Umbolo was quite a strong defender of his poo balls…he had lost his prize several times before…..and had been relieved of his precious haul…he had to head off again to find a new fresh source of his edibles and gifts for a potential girlfriend…and just maybe a “baby” nest💞…hopefully not this time…

All hail the underdog!

Umbolo’s long, thin, outwardly bowed hind legs were well suited for running and wrapping around the accumulation of the poo…clinging to the ball as he was forming it…he was able to maneuver a ball 50x his weight…Hercules of the dung beetles..

“Like a bag of money dropped in the street, “everyone would grab as much as they could, get it somewhere safe, and then come back for more.”

Max Barclay

Umbolo quickly gripped the ground with his mid and hind legs and cut into the warm buffet with his front legs. He began then patting bits of food on his new ball with the rakelike extensions on his front legs…definitely not a day for creating the most magnificent of balls today…too much competition…pushing against the buffet table with his head, Umbolo separated his takeaway…and started rolling…quickly…before it was stolen by his rivals…

Beating a hasty retreat…in the most expeditious and efficient way possible…in the most direct route…a straight line…head down…butt up…propelling his meal with his hind legs, he moves backwards with his head pointed to the ground…Off to the races…navigating away from the fray…

No GPS or Google Maps needed here…not confused where to go at all…he has celestial powers too…an internal celestial compass for orientation and skylight cues…he stops, climbing on top of his booty and rotated around to orient himself…detecting the symmetrical patterns of polarized light…climbing back down and pushing his treasure again…the reference point of the sun giving him the way to beat a hasty retreat home…

He had made it to safety away from the scrimmage safely this time…digging in the soft soil under his precious ball…he pushed the dirt up around it until it sank into the ground…no need to bury it too deep…the nursery ball would definitely need to be buried deeper….he was in a hurry…his hormones were kicking in and the girls were waiting…

Uswiti was so incredibly frustrated…MEN…they were all alike…the handsome beetle Indoda had duped her that very morning…enticing her with his strong masculine essence…she had fallen for it and followed him into his burrow…the thrill was short lived…nothing to see there…no brood ball in sight…a lazy one… must be part of the gang run by Isela…feeling a little full of himself, he tried a little funny business…the full wrath of Uswiti ensued…kung foo expert…she left him in in the most most vulnerable position…upside down on the floor of his burrow…

She was not giving up…she had spent a lot of time rounding out her curves…getting ready to find a nice man and have a family…after all, that’s all this girl really wanted..in the meantime…curves to be maintained…off to find lunch…

She had wasted a good part of the morning with the scamp…lunch was going to be a quick pick up and go…being around noon now…packed up with all the nutrition needed…she was quickly out of the rowdy crowd…the sun being at its zenith…it was unreliable to discern East from West…no time to wait for afternoon sun guidance…she toggled on her internal wind compass and off she went…headed toward home…to dine in peace…

The late morning fiasco had caused an additional complication… hot…hot…hot…the unrelenting sun searing the surface of the ground…at this time of the day, even the trees were seeking shade…the waves of the afternoon heat were blistering the soles of her feet…she felt herself starting to overheat…a few minutes reprieve…Uswiti climbed on top of her food packet to cool her feet…

Times like this made her extremely jealous of her relatives…the Scarabaeus satyrus family…they took to the air (no walking for them) at dusk…working in the cool of the evening…no need to contend with the heat of the African sun to find the straightest way home…out and about at night…navigating and orienting themselves using the beautiful stars of the Milky way…picking up the polarized light they used this as a map to keep themselves on course…oh, well…that was not her lot in life…back to hot-footing it…

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

Oscar Wilde

Umbolo’s breathing was getting a quicker and his heart was beating just a little faster…his anxiety level had increased with each beat of his heart…the gift of a brood ball was all of completed…the lovely romantic gift was unwrapped so it could be seen and all his work fully appreciated…would he be accepted today…

Well, here goes…another headstand…supporting his body with his head and four front legs…he rubbed his belly with the brush on his back legs…first one leg and then the other…back and forth…his enticing manly essence was released with a puff of fine white powder…the pungent order that hopefully enticed the ladies…he had a juicy prize to give…

Uswiti felt herself being enticed toward another tempting manly smell…maybe this one would be a more suitable partner…and she headed off to check it out…one never knows…she spotted Umbolo’s beautiful brood ball…such a homey and roomy nursery…she came a little closer and Umbolo relinquished his headstand and raised his forelegs in greeting…his dream come true…advancing on Uswiti he extends his antennae…would she accept him…

Dung beetles prefer human faeces to those of wild animals | The Economist

Hesitantly…Uswati lowers her front legs…Yes!!!!!!…letting him know that she thinks he’s a mighty fine dung beetle with his exquisite offering…she climbs a top his gift and clings to the ball as Umbolo starts to roll the ball away as quickly as he can…now he needs to get her home before Isela or one of his thieves tries to steal both his woman and his brood ball again…

No, such luck…there he comes…thinking he’s the cat’s meow…not this time…Umbolo knew Isela would be relentless…determined to roll off his prize…being bulky had it’s disadvantages…and ground warfare was the only option with no wings…his strength in the battle was his strength and this was a matter of survival…he had experience in all the techniques to viciously fight for his claimed prize…

Umbolo is on the top, now he’s on the ground…now Isela is on the top…Umbolo comes back…not giving up and much like a wrestler flings that would-be thief right off…it’s a big fight…each trying to throw the other off…one more time…Umbolo throws Isela off…Isela is temporarily helpless upside down…deciding that this time perhaps it might be easier to find a less determined target…

Victorious…Umbolo starts off again with Uswiti until they come to an acceptable location for the nursery…Umbolo crawls underneath the ball and starts removing the soil underneath while Uswiti clings to the top…gradually the ball sinks lower and lower into the ground until the nursery is hidden from view…and Uswati lays one egg inside of the soft ball and the ball hardens making a protective layer for the baby…the inside is softer and provides all the food that their babies will need to grow and thrive..

The next generation will emerge from the soil after the first summer rain when the temperatures are warm enough and the soil is moist enough to break free…Umbolo prevailed and future generations of exemplary planetary citizens…he is truly a Dung Beetle Extraordinaire…

***Although this is a work of fiction, I tried to stick as close to the facts as possible. The information as to the behavior of dung beetles was taken from scientific articles mentioned below…

Evan Nicole Brown ‘When the Sun is High, Dung Beetles Navigate with the Wind’ Atlas Obscura

Matt McGrath “Dancing dung beetles navigate with ‘sky snapshot” BBC News

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/beetles-fight-over-dung-ball

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-humble-dung-beetle-180967781/

Umbulo the Dung Beetle Extordinaire…Part I

Ten animal crossing signs from around the world — Just a Little Further

While driving through Addo, Elephant Park, we came across the signs like these and being the curious sort that I am..I dug into finding out more about these small creatures and was completely dumbfounded at how incredibly interesting a beetle that rolled poo for a livelihood could be…what follows is the story of just one…Umulo

An ancient Greek fable…
The storyteller, Aesop (believed to have lived in ancient Greece around 600 BCE) tells the story of “The Dung Beetle and the Eagle”. Despite the appeals of the beetle, the eagle killed a hare. To take revenge on the eagle, the beetle destroyed the eagle’s eggs. In despair, the eagle visited Olympus and asked Zeus to look after its latest eggs by placing them in Zeus’s lap. When the beetle realised what the eagle has done, he stuffed himself with dung and flew into the face of Zeus. This startled Zeus and in the process he jumped to his feet and dropped the eggs. After an explanation from the beetle, and realising that the eagle had ignored the pleas of the beetle, Zeus instructed the eagle and the beetle to stay away from each other. To ensure that the beetle would now leave the eagle’s eggs alone, Zeus changed the breeding season of the eagle to a period when beetles are not above ground.
https://wilderness-safaris.com/

Khepri (Scarabaeus Sacer)

Umbulo woke to a warm and sunny day…he had been extremely lethargic during the whole of winter…time to rise and shine… work to do…shuffling poo around…he absolutely loved his job of environmental specialist…cleaning up the environment, reseeding, providing vital nutrients for the soil, aerating and fertilizing…you have to be very passionate about what you do to work, eat, sleep and drink poo…

Opening each of his four eyes stretching each of his six legs…yep, everything was in working order…he stared at the portraits of his family that he had deliberately arranged on the wall opposite his bed…it was an inspiring reminder of his illustriousness heritage and length of his family’s lineage…65 million years…

The revered Scarab Beetle…his great…great…great (many great’s) ancestor was worshipped for thousands of years…considered a solar deity…and over 600 family lines were known throughout the world…on every continent, except for Antarctica…which for all practicality is not known for it’s warmth…and large amounts of poo…now how’s that for having something to be proud of…

Umbolo was a very unique poo roller…the three members of his family were different than he was…he was a Qenq the roller (Telecoprids)…but there was Iton the Tunneler (Endocoprids), Umhlai the Dweller (Paracoprids) and the Black Sheep of the Family, Ukuba the Stealer (Kleptocoprids). Ukuba never did any work of his own, he always stole other beetles work… so the family never spoke of him much and if they did it was only in hushed whispers…

Rolling out of bed to the floor…immediately to start his callanetics…staying the strongest animal on the planet was not an easy feat…pulling and pushing over 1,000 times his body weight every working day required a great deal of consistent workouts…something no human could pull off…lol…he grinned to himself at the image of any human pulling 6 double decker buses filled with people…


Umbolo’s direct family line was endemic to South Aftica…and his family was of the rarest Dung Beetle kind and now most of his family was found only here in the Park…The Addo Dung Beetle or their fancier name Circellium bacchus…he was so extra special that even the human’s took unusual precautions that he was protected…he was immortalized and given the right of way at all times..he rubbed his beautiful strong body one more time in pride before heading out…

He had to walk…not fly like some of his cousins…remembering all his family that still had wings…like magical capes that allowed them to get to any steaming pile of poo in a hurry…and his own long, dry hot walk seemed unfair……but definitely worth it…his family had adapted themselves with it was the only way to survive in the hot arid desert environment that he had been regulated to…it was always such a long walk for elephant takeaway…His wing case now had evolved to be a CO2 cylinder..which helped him to breathe less and not waste his body water during his daily trek on his job…As opposed to wings, flightless dung beetles have a tightly sealed elytra (wing case), which creates a convective cooling system where heat is drawn away from their body. Thus, they are perfectly suited to hot regions of Africa.

He climbed out of his tunnel…lifted his head…his strong sense of smell alerted him to the fact that his favorite meal was already prepared for him by the majestic elephant chef who lived on site….and maybe…just maybe he’d convince a beautiful female how magnificent he was and start a family…

Here Comes The Bride

References:

https://jeb.biologists.org/content/206/8/1261.2

https://theconversation.com/five-things-dung-beetles-do-with-a-piece-of-poo

https://www.shamwari.com/the-magnificent-flightless-dung-beetle/

https://www.sabisabi.com/wildfacts/dung-beetles/

Sunday Morning at the Watering Hole…

“Nature itself is the best physician.” 

Hippocrates 

Double C’s…not that🤣…where is your mind at….Cancer and Covid…each on their own are incredibly stressful circumstances to walk with…together, they can become an overwhelming daily event…

To find a place of peace and calmness to breathe in…Mr. P and I headed into nature…we are lucky that Addo Elephant park is only about a 45 minute drive…a place of solace from the current “norm”…

I think I have gone over the edge a tad…for every photo that I came across…seemed to have a conversation with me…but I wanted to share and hope that you might find a respite from your own place of chaos and turmoil or just a laugh…btw…it did work…both of our resting heart rates did come down…❤

Did you hear what’s happening down at the watering hole today?

Oh…OK, Mabel…nothing’s happening here…let’s go check it out…

Hey, Wait for me…I can hear everything…if you let me go too…I’ll tell you everything

…There’s the boy’s again…fighting over that prissy girl…won’t they every learn?

There goes George…all in a huff…I guess he didn’t get the girl this time…

Yup…the party is starting…you better hurry, girls…

There’s Bertha…definitely hasn’t lost all the “pregnancy fat” yet…and that child of her’s…so spoilt and noisy…

And there’s Secretary Martha…always looking for her lost bugs…and that outdated feathered cap!!!!… really needs to go…

Quite eating, Ziggy…we’re going to miss all the fun…

Let’s keep going, Pumba…it looks a little crowded here…

…Psst,,,those nosy girls are on the way….want me to head them off at the pass…I’ll take them both on…you know I will!….

Which way….come on, guys…which way….this is not funny…you know I can’t see which way to go….

The Gang’s all here…

Sending love, laughter, and some magic for your day!!!! ~Renée