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❣

The Filters We Use…

I am now on my second week of the program…it is a day-to-day process…no miracle 10-pound loss…no great influx of dizzying energy…it has just been a slow and steady…consistent documenting everything I eat so that I can make sure I stay within the allotted calorie amount…and I am hungry most days…

The first week was a 4-pound loss…mostly water…I am sure…it will be interesting to go to my appointment next Monday and see what the real numbers are…the actual fat loss versus muscle loss versus water loss…

I was learning new photoshop skills for my photography competitions…and an interesting thought popped up…how what filters we use to view the circumstances in our lives…can change our world immensely…

These two photographs are really nothing special and even dispiriting…old relics of a time long past…left to rust in the sweltering aloneness…a blank screen with broken panels and years of grime as it’s only covering…the old car rusted with the rust of neglect…and empty headlights like the blank empty stare of nothingness…forgotten in the background of swirl of life going on in the distance…

I don’t know about you…but I have felt like that at times…more often than I would like to remember…forgotten, neglected and useless as everyone around me twirls and swirls in their busy lives…

My options…sit morosely in the dark corner of life and have a pitiful party…I’ve even had a couple of times like that now as I watch people around me eating all the sweet and crunchy flavors that I enjoy…I’ve made banana coffee cake…bought lemon cheesecake for a tea…none which I partook of…and I am proud of that…but I didn’t partake because it is such a slippery slope for me… a shot of insulin in my system with the rush of sugar or refined carbohydrates will cause an avalanche that would set be back further than the bottom of the mountain…

Today has been difficult…had a training session at the gym…then had to walk in the heat to the store…frustrating trying to figure out an electronical remote trigger and speedlight😣 with only a very small breakfast…and it affected my mood…but it is part of the journey…and it’s only a short space of time…this too will pass…and I haven’t lost footing…maybe my mind, but that’s pretty much par for the course…

So how do I view days like this…trying to filter with gratitude…it is a pretty rosy filter that helps to reframe the moment…not the filter of past dark negative emotions…and no matter what the current angst…it can immediately be changed…by reframing and filtering it through the good that we do have and experience…

Steve Maraboli - Steve Maraboli added a new photo.

One day at a time…and if needed…sometimes it’s only a moment…

Make something new out of all the old pieces…it’s really kind of fun✨

Laughter and Love❣…remember you’re not alone…we’re all in this together…just “walking each other home”…

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…

Embracing our delectable…

When I think about aging …Long deep breaths until the dizziness passes…

I received a message yesterday that said, “Hi grandma. How are you? I just wanted to tell you that I am back safe.”… “grandma” …I immediately sent back the reply…”I think you sent this to me by mistake.”…which followed “No, I sent this for you”…

After I finished stomping around, huffing, and puffing…Mr. P. gently reminded me that it was a sign of respect…I do love that here in Africa…the cultural stereotype of older adults is so different than what I saw in the United States…

Mass media…the central nervous system of western societies assists in the creation of social prejudice…no matter what societal background you exist within …Ageism…youth and beauty glorified and “older people have had to face an escalating level of disregard, disrespect, and marginalization ….”https://www.scirp.org/journal/paperinformation.aspx?paperid=78445

My experience here has been vastly different…where respect for age and the older generation is a societal ideal…I was taken back the first time that I was addressed as mama ‘mother’

In the Xhosa culture…When greeting a person older than yourself (more or less your parents’ age), tata ‘father’ would be used for a man and mama ‘mother’ for a woman. For greetings of people of your grandparents’ age, tat’omkhulu ‘grandfather’, and makhulu ‘grandmother’ are used as forms of address. Greeting someone of your own age
you would address her as sisi, ‘sister’, and bhuti, ‘brother’ for the male counterpart
https://www.unisa.ac.za/

…but still “Grandma”…although changing…unfortunately my view on aging is still a westernized version…where beauty (not wisdom and experience) is venerated…

I meandered down a different path…This blog had started out to be about goals…although aging influences how I am going about it this year…I never set New Year Eve’s goals…being the non-conformist that I am… spending the month of January assessing the last year and re-establishing what is most important to me…where I am at…my birthday of January 26th being my “New Year”…

“We must not despair the evanescent nature of time or our brief existence; we must embrace our delectable moment on earth. Life is a fantastic dream where we rejoice in the incomparable beauty of this misty world of ethereal sensations and sentiments. Buddha said, “It is better to travel well than to arrive.” We must swim with the tide and rejoice in life of memory, dreams, and the beauty that is transpiring before our very eyes. Indian Buddhist teacher and philosopher Nagarjuna advises in “The Diamond Sutra,” to enjoy the dream world, “Thus shall you think of this fleeting world: A star at dawn, a bubble in the stream; a flash of lightening in a summer cloud; a flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.”

Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

My Tribute to the Delicacies of this past year…

As with anyone’s life…it’s a roller coaster…there were cancer checkups, surgeries, and things that drove us a little crazy …although I don’t have far to go for that) … 2021 last year whizzed by in a blur (it is said that as we have more years on earth the quicker it goes) …it was a breathtakingly incredible and memorable year…Mr. P. put in his workshop (something he’s always wanted) …now he has two “man caves” I must search when I need find him…

trips to Addo..to Cape Town

On the Way to Rooi-Els

Learning about Birding…a Mr. P. interest Cape Town again Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden…

Table Mountain (Nature Reserve)

Female Sugarbird

By June…I was learning about the strongest insect in the world…the Dung Beetle…so interesting I wrote two blogs

Cape Glossy Starling Dancing the Tango

Watching Bacchus become more self-confident…we had gotten him at the shelter, and he was so scared of other dogs at first that he would run home the first time we took him for a walk…still doesn’t bark though…

August..we spent a weekend at Cape St. Francis…spending time with Mr. P’s niece and her boyfriend…I will always remember the sunset wine with them…beautiful souls who gives hope for our future generations…

Sept. started planning for the kitchen renovation…made new friends (for me) when we stayed at Amakhala Safari Lodge and met bachelor Norman…the welcome committee…

October…we were finishing the kitchen…after washing dishes in the bathroom sink for weeks…searching for utensils, pots, and pans on the mess in the living room…spending a couple of days at the cottage by the sea to recover…tussling with all the paperwork needed to get married in a foreign country…

November went by…just as quickly…the annual “Raggy Charters Island Tour” with the Photographic Club…St. Croix Island…the home of about 10,000 South African Penguins and Brenton Island…a tad windy but so enjoyable for those that didn’t experience seasickness…

November was the pièce de résistance…I married the “hunky” knight in shining armour that I adore…the gallant Mr. P. …my son surprised me and flew in to give me away…an elegant ceremony at his sister’s house…

“I marveled at the beauty of all life and savored the power and possibilities of my imagination. In these rare moments, I prayed, I danced, and I analyzed. I saw that life was good and bad, beautiful and ugly. I understood that I had to dwell on the good and beautiful in order to keep my imagination, sensitivity, and gratitude intact. I knew it would not be easy to maintain this perspective. I knew I would often twist and turn, bend and crack a little, but I also knew that…I would never completely break.”

― Maria Nhambu, Africa’s Child

What was your most awe- inspiring …the memory that you will cherish deep within your heart…

Maybe I can get to the plan for 2022…Much love, laughter, and magic in your life

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

We Rise…by Lifting Others

The same blood runs through every vein on earth…and no matter what our skin color…beliefs…customs…when we are cut…we all bled the same…Red

Beauty can be found in everything, and I choose to see and remind myself and the world that there is love and hope despite the ugliness that is so prevalent throughout our world…and unfortunately through history…yet sometimes the abundant odiousness of misery rises and slaps me in the face…reminding me of my blessings and the suffering of most of the humanity on this blue orb of life…

I am abundantly and richly blessed…I am not affluent nor do I have a MAGIC money tree growing in the back yard to pull cash off at any whim…no hidden stash under the mattress…but I do have enough to eat…a warm bed and a home…and people who love and care for me…

Growing up I was the oldest of six in a small country town in the backwoods of Wisconsin…my father failed as a farmer and working at a sawmill was seasonal and not profitable enough to adequately feed his family…we did not live on the street and my mother worked miracles by feeding us cow tongue and dandelion greens😂…a chicken thigh or drumstick on a Sunday was a savored delicacy to eye, nose and belly…

Although it is not the abject poverty that I encounter daily here or that I encountered in Columbia…there is an incredible deep-felt sense of empathy for what poverty does to a human… my heart hurts with the knowledge that with the empty stomachs resides the persisting enveloping darkness of loneliness, despair, and hopelessness…

The poor are the unseen…unwanted, unloved, and uncared for…

“There is something about poverty that smells like death. Dead dreams dropping off the heart like leaves in a dry season and rotting around the feet; impulses smothered too long in the fetid air of underground caves. The soul lives in sickly air. People can be slave ships in shoes.”

~ Zora Neale Hurston

“The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

Carl Sagan

I could write a million words and that would not be sufficient to create a complete picture and even the photographs can only provide a glance…a snippet in time of the life of those that are less fortunate…we have issues of poverty in the United States…there are no simple solutions…but we are one and we can feed one…

Mr. P & I see the overwhelming need every day that we navigate the city…there are the car guards in every parking area (Car guarding is a distinctly South African informal sector employment activity. A car guard offers to guard vehicles in a public or private parking area for a donation. Car guarding enables an unemployed person to earn some income) …beggars…young and old…black and white…others at every stop light selling what they can beside the road… whether a bag of oranges, a homemade product whatever they can…knocking on your window to try and persuade you to trade a few rand for their merchandise…those who wave their paintbrushes for day labor…

A loaf of bread and a package of hot dogs is R40 (40 Rand = $2.60 Dollars) …I know that everyone has their hand out for your contribution…and so many have their own life needs…but I felt that I could ask if anyone wanted to give a small donation to help me to give to those that cross our paths…keeping nothing for myself…but to provide a meal or a coin donation for those who are in need…what do you think?

In the Darkness…we are the Light

Much love, magic for your day and laughter (even if on some days it’s through the lump in your throat and the tears in your eyes) …

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Magnificent Messy Life

This is my life at the moment…incredible messy…renovating a kitchen means that everything that was in the kitchen ends up somewhere else (for us that was the dining room)…now all covered in dust…waiting to be cleaned and put away…🤣…Russel Westbrook wrapped it up well…

“Messy stuff irritates me. I don’t like messiness. If you leave something around my house, I’ll tell you to move it back, clean it up, throw it in the trash – don’t matter, just get rid of it. I need stuff neat, organized… Otherwise I’m irritated all day.”

~ Russell Westbrook

For someone who is a neat freak…living like this for a couple weeks…washing dishes in the bathroom sink…only cooking with the microwave and air fryer…is enough to make me want to crawl into bed and cover up my head…hoping to wake up from the dream…well more like my nightmare really…

There is a Japanese way of life you may have heard called Wabi Sabi…an ancient Zen Buddist belief…an elegant philosophy that motions us towards searching for the beauty in imperfection…that everything …life itself is in this constant flux of being “impermanent, incomplete, and imperfect”…change itself is the only constant……it is the “Becoming” that is irritatingly messy…https://www.omaritani.com/blog/wabi-sabi-philosophy-teachings

It reminded me of all the times that my life unseen was a place filled with broken filthy shambles…in fact most of the time it still feels untidy and tangled…like the back of a beautiful tapestry…life itself is inherently complicated…never is it what you feel it should be or what you want it to be…Unpredictable…only death is simple…it is the living that is difficult and messy…I am constantly in the process of learning to embrace the imperfection and trying to find the beauty of it…

Wabi sabi is an artistic sensitivity as much as an ephemeral feeling of beauty. It celebrates the passage of time and its sublime damages. In many art forms in Japan, this notion of prettiness through imperfection is present.https://japanobjects.com/features/wabi-sabi

More on instagram.
“I don’t have to be perfect. All I have to do is show up and enjoy the messy, imperfect and beautiful journey of my life.” ~ Kerry Washington

Stemming within this philosophy, there is an art called Kintsugi. The masters will delicately patch up broken ceramics with powdered gold adhesive, leaving the restoration clearly visible to others…should we not apply that same principle to our lives…being proud of the dents and cracks…taking our broken pieces and turning them into works of art…

Now that I’m older…I really appreciate the idea that I don’t have to throw away any of my broken pieces…the scars of our lives can be seen as exquisite…repaired with the gold of grace…they tell a story…a display of dignity and pride in our strength and fortitude in living…we don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful…we are beautiful because of our imperfections…

Photo by Motoki Tonn
We’re not quite there yet…but isn’t life about the progress😉

You may be a mess…yet, you are a masterpiece…embrace it all with self-love…remember that you are loved…always and forever…sent with prayers for all the love, laughter and magic your heart can hold…and then some❣

"Embrace the glorious mess that you are." Elizabeth Gilbert

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

Hiding Among the Tall Grass…

“That’s your solution? Have a cookie?’ Astrid asked. ‘No, my solution is to run down to the beach and hide out until this is all over,’ Sam said. ‘But a cookie never hurts.”

― Michael Grant, Gone

I was going to write about the incredible adventure at Amakhala Game Reserve…7500 ha, Big 5 and an accredited luxury four star Safari Lodge is nestled in a valley of indigenous bush…that Mr. P and I had a couple of weeks ago…with Covid came the loss of revenue and bookings at all the game Reserves and Parks…most are offering incredible discounts to native South Africans…A first for me

I will write and display the pictures of this magnificent…breathtaking…phenomenal…adventure…soon, I promise…I digress…

From the quote, I am sure that you could discern that I am deluged with things that need to be accomplished and not quite sure how to get it all done in a manner that doesn’t just cause me to have to take an emotional and physical timeout (I have been there more times that I want to remember)…being an HSP or extremely sensitive person defiantly adds to the need to proceed deliberately and calmly forward and not to the nearest exit…

Practicing what I preach…Breathing…Breathing…Deep…long and intentional breathes…practicing mindfulness…

Having finally found my path in retirement…now I experience that “in-your-face awareness” that time is shorter…more fragile…I am just now catching up with the world…knowing that I don’t have all the experiences and life information that most people do…

My childhood consisted solely of being raised in an unusual religious organization with it’s novel ideas of how we should live to be worthy of a beautiful afterlife…I was not allowed to listen to music (other than was of the Christian genre)…no television…no reading of anything other than the bible or books that were written by the leader…no school activities…nothing that would “infect” my mind…curtained from reality…

I am about 30 years behind in everything…which is not all bad…everything is a exciting new adventure…which I absolutely am in love with…

The focus is my supposedly retirement is finally on my creative endeavors…with the “magic number of greatness” supposedly 10 years or 10,000 hours  to become a “master”…I freak out about not doing all I want to do and become…although now there are alternative thoughts…such as this by…


Matt Trajkovski
…Founding father, EScooterNerds, LearnDigitalMarketingApp

“I like to couple it with another rule that everybody knows – the 80/20 rule. Together the equation becomes like this: You can become 80% as good as a master with only 20% of the 10,000 hours. That’s an expert for 2,000 hours. Keeping mind, if you’re 80% of a master of something, you’re probably already in the top 5% in the world for that field. And 10,000 hours, you’re great in 5 fields. You’re probably Elon Musk by that time.”

I can still become really good what my dreams…80% is acceptable…although the perfectionist is screaming in the background that it is not🤣…I’m ignoring her and going with the child that colors outside the lines with great joy…

Just to share with where I’m at and what I’m struggling with at the moment…where I want to be in the future…

I have always loved photography and do have hours of experience…though more on the other end as a photographic artist…retouching negatives…restoring old photographs…but before all the “modern” equipment such as digital camera’s…postprocessing with Adobe…ewww that is “old”…

*Goal – to be a Master Fine Art Photographer and sell prints…

Writing is a relatively new endeavor…starting about 4/5 years ago when a novel starting growing within me…and it hasn’t left…but I have so much to learn to write well…and reading to catch up on…

*Goal – to write a fantasy trilogy (Skye Phoenix)

Those are my two strongest and important goals…(Outside of my first priority, my relationship with Mr. P) but by no means the only ones…becoming Bilingual, healthier, more spiritual…traveling…strengthening relationships with family and friends…

I know that it is said that you need to focus on one at a time…but every time I focus on either the photography or the writing…the other sticks it’s head up…seeking attention with an entry for a competition in photography or a request to complete a writing challenge of 1,000 words a day…

Then there are the everyday projects that need to be completed…the completing of restoring the house…painting…plastering…I also try and keep up with the accounting for Mr. P’s company (personal secretary…which has it’s benefits)…walking the dog (which is a duel purpose activity)…cooking meals…and I could go on…

Would I trade any of it…No!!!!!!! I do enjoy it all…yet I am still teeter tottering and trying to find the balance..

Finding Balance

“Somehow, we’ll find it. The balance between whom we wish to be and whom we need to be. But for now, we simply have to be satisfied with who we are.”

― Brandon Sanderson, The Hero of Ages

Any comments as to how you find balance in your life while pursuing your goals in life would be most welcomed…

Sending Light, love and magic for your day…I think I’ll go find some pink marshmallows…

Couldn’t find the pink marshmallows…but my pink elephant appeared…this is “Norman” from Amakhala (although he’s not normally pink…after a hot chocolate with a big dose of Kahlúa…he’s my pink elephant in the room…

“Norman”