Sunday Stills – Silence at sunset

Patiently I wait 
for the sunset glow to bring
Silence at sunset

The birds stop their cries
As the last rays touch the skies
Silence is golden

At last the sun sets 
Glowing it’s light to the clouds 
Farewell to the sun

Until the very next morn
Sunrise shines pink and golden
And birds chirp again


WQ #1 Resolutions, Goals and Word of the Year

“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, “It will be happier.” The best way to predict the future is to create it. There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting.” 

– Unknown

I used this quote for Sunday Stills Year in Review, and then it just came to me in a flash of inspiration.

Happiness just has to be my WOTY in 2023. 

It’s not that I am unhappy. It’s just that I wish to be more intentional in recognizing and showing gratitude for the gift of happiness in my life.

Being aware of one’s values helps people live authentically, which ultimately leads to sustainable happiness.—

Colleen Reilly, Forbes, 20 Dec. 2022

At Christmas time, the song I kept humming along with was “all I want for Christmas…… is for people everywhere to seek joy and happiness in their lives. 

Forget about the conspiracy theories. Stop scrolling through and down those social media rabbit holes – and find something positive and creative  to do with the time and energy you save yourself.

Some definitions…….

Happiness

aa state of well-being and contentment 

ba pleasurable or satisfying experience

Capturing these Fairy Terns was both pleasurable and satisfying

3 things that make people most happy are:

1.PLEASURE -doing things that you enjoy

2 ENGAGEMENT – feeling interested in your activities and connected to others

3 MEANING – feeling like what you do matters

And so I will take much pleasure in engaging and finding meaning in everything I do this year.

And…..

10 Keys that tend to make life happier and more fulfilling:

Giving           Do kind things for others

Relating        Connect with people

Exercising    Take care of your body

Awareness    Live life mindfully

Trying Out     Keep learning new things

Direction       Have goals to look forward to

Resilience     Find ways to bounce back

Emotions       Look for what’s good

Acceptance   Be comfortable with who you are

Meaning        Be part of something bigger

Together they spell GREAT DREAM

Courtesy of https://actionforhappiness.org

What are some other words for happy?

  • pleased.
  • delighted.
  • satisfied.
  • glad.
  • thankful.
  • thrilled.
  • joyful.
  • joyous

I think I will have plenty of choice for future goals and actions going forward.  

And just to leave you with an ear worm -have a listen to these lyrics.

Don’t Worry Be Happy

Song by Bobby McFerrin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWXUWepSak4

Some of the lyrics….

“Here’s a little song I wrote

You might want to sing it note for note

Don’t worry, be happy

In every life we have some trouble

But when you worry, you make it double

Don’t worry, be happy

Don’t worry, be happy now

Don’t worry (Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh) Be happy (Ooh-ooh-ooh) 

Don’t worry, be happy (Ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh) 

Don’t worry (Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh) Be happy (Ooh-ooh-ooh)

Don’t worry, be happy”

We can always find something to worry about. Don’t worry. Be happy.

And here they are- My goals, my WOTY, and my resolution – all wrapped up together.

2022 – What a Year that was!

“Instead of finishing the year strong, why don’t we finish the year soft? why don’t we finish the year restful and grateful for making it through yet another crazy cycle on earth?”

Unknown

So 2022 was a hard year. To ease the stresses of storms, road closures and health issues, I decided to create a space for art in my life. 

Photography 

I struggled with my phojo most of the year – well after our 7 weeks caravanning around the South Island.  We travelled from January to early March and ticked off some bucket list items. 

From a visit to Rakiura/Stewart Island to exploring amazing seascapes in the Caitlins, and the majestic waterfalls of the Milford Sound ,we loved it all. Here is a sample of the places I photographed.

Visiting family and friends as we road- tripped around was so good. 

There is always a great selection of birdlife in the bush or on the beach.

April and May were calm and  the weather was relatively settled. I managed to photograph the alignment of the planets in May.  And I was very excited to capture the total lunar eclipse photos in November.

Then winter set in.  June, July, August were wet, wet, wet, and cold, cold, cold.

Little did we realize that the winter months were going to be such a challenge. A very wet winter culminated in a particularly ferocious ‘atmospheric river’ in August. 

“Atmospheric rivers are massive plumes of moisture that move from the tropics to the mid-latitudes. Weather experts describe this week’s atmospheric river as an exceptional winter event, long lasting, with a very anomalously large moisture content.”

“The weather event has involved more than 300mm of rain falling across the top of the South Island in 24 hours.”

Our roads were closed, there was no public access  and very little communication from the local council. 

We did receive some urgent medications from the emergency services although some urgent dental appointments required a scary trip out over  the ravaged roads which were still being repaired after the 2021 storm event. This was much, much worse.

When we had an urgent trip to Nelson for emergency dentist appointments,  I found a different beach to photograph  Even this beach also shows the erosion caused by the recent stormy  weather.  Building driftwood huts is an ongoing activity around here.

There was severe damage to many properties but the roads had born the brunt of the damage.  We had no power, internet or phone access for five days.  We could only get our water from one garden tap that didn’t rely on power to run the pump.  Thankfully, we could also still flush the toilet!

Our food was rapidly thawing in our powerless freezers so we cooked either on our little gas canister cooker or on the bbq. Romantic candlelight dinners for two became our daily routine. 

In hindsight, this was to be life-changing for us.

Creative activities:

June/July – ICAD 61/61 (index card a day artwork)

Participated in and completed Inktober 2022

December doodling got off to a colourful start but my mojo fizzled. 

Instead, I took some time out to create a costume for the Sci Fi quiz theme at the local Tavern. What to wear??  I decided the answer had to be 42:  Life, the universe and everything. I made a lighted galaxy skirt, a universe headband, and a DON’T PANIC aka The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was a fun night  although our team didn’t win. The Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster was strong yet delicious.

I am not sure why I love dressing up as various characters but once every month or two our local tavern hosts a themed quiz night. Over this year I have been the Scarlet Witch, a Mexican dancer and the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything – #42

Also in December, we loved attending our granddaughters’ dance show The Wizard of Oz. They both performed brilliantly. They were dancing jazz and hip hop. The whole academy of dance was full of variety and all were  such a joy to watch. The tap dancing, the Irish jigs, the hip hop and the jazz all told the classic story of Dorothy and friends. 

Our eldest granddaughter finished primary school. It was wonderful to attend her Leavers Assembly and watch her so confidently perform the actions to  the school Pride song.  We are very proud of her. She is such a great all- round achiever. Hard to imagine she is off to college next year.

Books read: Total books year to date – 83.

Reviewing my book reading lists, I have realised that I have had a particular leaning towards scifi, fantasy, crime thrillers and time travel. Some books I have read this year have included many of these themes in the storylines. . A great form of escapism for me. 

Life Events:

November and December 2022 were busy and anxious months.  

Preoccupied with a concerning health issue – X-rays, ultrasound and punch biopsy. a nervous waiting time for results…..  At last came the good news – no cancer cells detected. Now just a bit more waiting for that surgical review. At least my stress levels have lessened (for now).

At last I felt that I could plan and prepare for Christmas.  

Our road is still closed to public use and for ’residents and essesntial services only’ but we were expecting our ‘non- resident’ families to arrive en masse anyway. They are ‘essential services’ to us as they arrived to spend a Christmas summer here. 

We are practicing just a little bit of civil disobedience as we are so frustrated by the council’s uncommunicative attitude to supporting those of us still in limbo since the August storm.  

After months of waiting for safe access, it only took three weeks for the trucks and bulldozers to clear the muddy slips and do a little bit of patching up. The road is at least driveable now.

In true bureaucratic form, next year….  they will do a ‘scoping’ strategic review BEFORE they do any real planning or scheduling to actually fix the roads. This could take years even though they have prioritized and fixed most of the rest of the 600+ kilometers of damaged roads in other areas.

It’s been depressing and frustrating. We want to enjoy our lives again without worrying every time it rains. We don’t have that many years left and our mental health is already suffering, so… 

We have made the hard decision to sell up and move into town.

The signs are up. It’s official – the house is on the market. Now to see how quickly it sells. Falling house prices and rising interest rates do not bode well but we have to hope the sunshine weather will bring out the interested buyers. 

In the meantime, we are enjoying a hot summer – and our visiting families. 2 awesome sons, 2 great daughter -in- laws and 5 amazing grandchildren – oh and the 3 grand-dogs.  It’s such a pity that our third son is unable to visit from Sweden. 

We have  been  swimming, boating, fishing, making a driftwood reindeer, moon photography, gardening and games – lots of games. Cards, corn hole, board games, bbqs, and maybe some wine times. And  we partied the rest of the year away with a bonfire, fireworks  and roasted marshmallows.

And so we say farewell to a challenging  2022.

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. 

Bill Vaughan

Me? I just wanted to party with my family with a beach bonfire (did I already mention the marshmallows? It was indeed a ‘soft’ ending to a fraught and heavy year. 

“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, “It will be happier.” The best way to predict the future is to create it. There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting”

Let us hope that 2023 brings exciting adventures, peace, happiness, love and laughter to ever

Sunday Stills – Paths and Trails of the Earth, the Sun and the Moon

TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE 8/9 November 2022 

What an amazing evening out watching the full moon blaze a red trail across the night sky. 

I was a little late getting set up after arriving home from quiz night. It was the first time since the August storm, that I had been brave enough to drive on our broken road at night time. It was wonderful to see my team mates again. We didn’t win the quiz but we had such a grand catch up, that it didn’t really matter. 

After 12 weeks, at last the road crews have arrived to clear some mud and lay some gravel over the ditches and cracks. It felt safer to drive. The muddy trail out is slowly becoming a road again.

And so it begins:

The moon peeked above the tree line and shine brightly in the night. 

9.45pm: I had set up the camera tripod within a metre of the beach front where the high tide was gently lapping the seashore. The only sound was the occasional call of the morepork owl, and the sudden splash of little fish. 

For once, the clouds, wind and rain had stayed away. 

As the Earth’s penumbra started touching the moon’s face, it started to darken almost imperceptibly.   Over the next  half hour as the moon traversed its path across the night sky, the effects became more obvious. 

I put together this composite of the Penumbral eclipse phase. (That took me longer to do than watching the whole eclipse.)

By 10.09pm, the Partial Eclipse  phase began as the shadow crept over the bright moon. 

I set my intervalometer to shoot every 3 minutes as the moon moves it’s own diameter across the sky every two minutes. 

A bonus were the meteors I spotted although they were either streaking in the wrong direction or appeared when the shutter was closed! It gave me something else to look for whilst I waited patiently for totality though. 

As the moon continued traversing its pathway across the sky, I had to recompose every 15 minutes to keep it in the camera frame. I layered some of the phases to show the progression.

A quick change of battery  before the main event – then…. Totality.

Total Lunar Eclipse

11.16Totality begins

And right on time the moon disappeared into the blackness of the night sky. Just a faint rim of light remained.

11.21.  I adjusted my settings and I was so excited to see the red glowing moon appear on the back of the camera, and above me. 

Then the stars started to pop out to frame the blood moon.

11.24 Totality yet with so many stars popping out of the dark  as they trailed across the sky.

I took my time and played around with exposure settings again.  When I wasn’t busy readjusting my composition, I had time to marvel at the magical sight of the total lunar eclipse. 

Jupiter, Venus,Saturn,Orion and Matariki were glittering all-around the inky black sky.  Later Mars arose low to the horizon too. It was a galaxy  of planets on their individual pathways around the world. le, that red moon kept glowing.

12.41am: Total Lunar Eclipse ends

12.43. Partial eclipse #2

The rim of light started to reappear quite quickly.  And with it came a sudden change in the chill factor. I noticed it had become very cold.  Still I was determined to wait out the all phases of the  eclipse. BUT…. 

The next set of images looked a little strange. I fiddled again with my settings. What was happening here? 

I checked the back of the camera. Oops. There was a foggy circle of colour surrounding the partially

eclipsed moon.  ( in hindsight maybe I should have checked my lens  hadn’t fogged up.) 

I totally  thought I must have ‘mist’ it.

It looked kind of spooky in an abstract kind of way. I tried once more. It was getting much colder. I liked this abstract but it wasn’t part of my plan. 

Could I hold out another hour? Yeah nah. I gave up! 

I  carried my gear across the lawn, nearly tripping over a little hedgehog out for its nocturnal stroll. 

I tiptoed quietly into the house, turned on my electric blanket and crawled into bed. 

My lunar eclipse adventure was over but that partially eclipsed moon was still up there taunting me through the window as I lay awake wishing on a star.

WQW #36 September Equinox- at last it is Springtime!

‘Is the spring coming?’ he said. “What is it like?…”

 ‘It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…’” — 

Frances Hodgson Burnett

“The astronomical spring equinox is a precise moment in time and this year it was at 1:03pm NZST, Friday September 23. So, according to astronomy, this is a naturally occurring event during which the centre of the sun appears to cross over the celestial equatorial line of the earth. In layman terms, one can say that an equinox occurs when the sun switches sides from one hemisphere of the earth to the other.”

To mark the occasion, Mother Nature choose to remind us of her forceful personality. A 5.8 earthquake rumbled and shook central New Zealand, centred in the northeast of Marlborough Sounds, about 51 km deep in the  Cook Strait, .  Fortuitously, there appears to be no further damage to the cracked roads. 

Enough is enough, I say!  Over August and into September, we have had more than our share of rain resulting in floods, slips and slumps which resulted in further road damage even more significantly damaging than last year’s July weather event. 

Road closures are still a major issue as we struggle to access medical care and essential supplies by risking the drive through the fractured roads.  Whilst there is no light at the end of this particular road ’tunnel’,  thankfully, there are spring flowers blooming amidst the raindrops.

At last it is our turn to enjoy the warmth of the spring weather.  Let’s hope it’s a good one and that the damaged roads will be repaired as the earth dries out. 

The raspberry canes are growing leaves,  the freesias are flowering. 

The fruit trees are blossoming. The Tui are sipping the nectar from the kowhai flowers.

Spring has sprung at last. Hope springs eternal.

Sunday Stills – Springtime stories in Closeup

Whilst I didn’t rescue these creatures solely so I could capture some macro/closeups, it was good to at least get the chance to capture their stories in close up detail.

The little bee I rescued from a spider’s web. It was fascinating to watch it trying to clean up the sticky goo from its sting. It was good to see it fly safely away ready to go about its pollinating business again.

Bee rescue

A few days later, as I wandered along the muddy road inspecting the recent storm damage, I noticed a little ball of fluff stuck in the mud.  Carefully, I picked it up. It moved weakly.  It was a tiny fledging baby bird, most likely  blown out of its nest in the stormy night.  I held it gently in my cupped hands and took it home.  

Feeling  overwhelmed and unsure of my bird nurturing skills, I texted my ‘bird whisperer’ friend for advice. Following her suggestions, I placed a hot water bottle underneath a makeshift nest and covered it gently to recover in the dark. An hour later, she called in on her way home from town to inspect my little foundling. 

By this time I had decided I was not the ‘best nest’ for this little baby. I gladly released the bird into her skilled hands. Her many years experience of being a ‘bird rescuer’ came to the fore.  Over the next several weeks, she tenderly cared for baby bird, feeding it with an eyedropper, cleansing its sticky eyes and keeping it safe and warm. She sent me updates every few days. Then the good news came.

“Wax Eye update. Doing well. Now in outside cage during the day. Feeding himself.  Will release as soon as his tail feathers grow”

Our halos are shining bright!

Wax Eye baby

I celebrated by capturing some spring flowers in close up – and found a tiny green fly. It must surely be Spring time.

WQW #35 September 14: Senses: Set your sights

Set your sights on the light. 
Capture it colourful and bright
Then when you are alone in the dark of the night, 
Free your vision and composite for your delight. 

“Your vision is not limited by what your eye can see, but by what your mind can imagine.”

Ellison Onizuka

This is why I enjoy composite editing.  It is an intriguing challenge to look beyond that which can be immediately seen.  There are editing skills to learn – or not!  This requires practice and patience – lots of patience. 

I like to take a couple of disconnected images and see what my imagination can make of them. 

Joyful Fern

 And the second part of the equation?  IMAGINATION.

And so I did!

Tapping into colour

That was insightful – I can see I need more practice to achieve my vision but it was such fun and yes it did take most of the night!

Composed for: https://alwayswrite.blog/2022/09/14/wqw-35-seeing-apricot-and-other-strange-sightings/

WQW #31- Earth: Just add Water and Rocks

“ How wild it was, to let it be”.  – Cheryl Strayed

We have had it all this week. Earth, rocks and mountains of mud and floods.

It’s been a horrendous week of wild weather as an ‘atmospheric river’ hammered Nelson, Marlborough and the West Coast. Floods and excess rainfall have caused earth and road subsidence in Nelson, Marlborough and everywhere in between. 

Mountains of mud and rocks came crashing down the rivers and hillsides, taking houses and roads along in their path,  causing huge landslides and yet more damaged roads throughout the top of the South Island of New Zealand, where I live.

Many small communities are isolated. Once again our road is closed for the foreseeable future. The two state highways between Nelson are Blenheim are closed as are many local roads. 

This has meant postponing an urgent dental appointment in Nelson so that will now mean a 4-5 hour road trip to get emergency dental care but not for two more weeks. Fortunately a Civil Defence emergency driver got through to deliver some much needed antibiotics to keep his painful abscess under control for a while.

Muddy waters have washed down from the forested hills and created havoc on our beach.

I needed to boil water on a little gas cooker, cook our meals on the bbq in the rain, cope with a freezer of rapidly thawing food, and try very hard to remain positive. 

Five days without power, phone or internet coverage has been trying my patience ( to put it mildly.) It’s been very isolating.

The helicopters fly overhead regularly. They are trying to restore power lines, deliver medications and essential supplies, and evacuating those that need medical care.

There is nothing we could do about the weather or the power or the road, so I decided to look for the positives instead of dwelling on the negatives. 

“If it weren’t for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song” – Carl Perkins

Well our stream was certainly singing loud and strong for five days and nights plus.  The beach is alive with foraging seabirds feasting on the multitude of shellfish cast ashore or drowned in mud. A Falcon rested in the tree directly in front of my window. Photo opportunity – yes! 

It made me reflect more about appreciating the natural beauty whilst accepting the hazards of living surrounded by hills, mountains and oceans. 

Okay – my rant is over – I have found some peace in revisiting my archived mountain scenes.

Our peace shall stand as firm as rocky mountains– “William Shakespeare

Lens-Artists Challenge #211: Still looking for my photographic groove?

I have tried so many photographic grooves – portrait, long exposures, flash photography, macro,  still life, wildlife and pet life, sports, forced perspectives, landscapes and night skies.

I first got into the groove of photography when I was ten and bought my first camera- a Brownie Starlet. The only film choice was black and white photographs at that time. (Yes I am that old)

Once the film roll was finished, I had to endure a long wait before I could see the developed and printed pictures. This was even more difficult as I had to wait till my next week’s pocket money was in my pocket too. My pocket money was spent on developing and printing those first humble attempts.

Back then, my photographic groove was family, friends, pets, and ponies. I guess it could be called portraiture.

Chunkette in her stable
My first favourite racehorse – and a friend

Much later, when there was an option to take colour photos, I still preferred using black and white.  Especially after I learned to develop and print my own films. All that dodging and burning in the darkroom was a steep and fun learning curve. I was highly commended in a conservation competition prize for a black and white print of two of my sons collecting plastic rubbish off the beach. 

In my first job. my photographic groove became hand-colouring black and white aerial photos.  They were mainly rural landscapes, and I became fascinated with the braided rivers, acres of farmland and forest-filled gullies of rural New Zealand. I loved the colours and patterns of ripening crops divided by the fence lines.  I intricately painted in the white sheep dotted against a background of green pastures and undulating hills.

Example of a Hand coloured aerial photo

I was so excited when I got my first SLR. It was a Pentax P30N film camera.  I had a 70-210 zoom lens bought especially to capture whale images.  There I was out off the Kaikoura coastline on a whale tour with my 2 cameras;  a Pentax P30N SLR, and a video camera.  And just as the iconic whale tail arose from the waves, another tourist stood up in front of me with his point and shoot camera, and photobombed my shot.   

The sad tale of a photobombed whale tail

I decided that street photography might just be my next photographic groove instead. At least I would be intending to capture tourists in my images!

Travel photography often consists of stereotypical, iconic images but I tried to capture these but add a twist in editing. Travelling in different countries can sometime be time-limiting and waiting for the good light can be challenging. So it is tempting to snap that capture regardless of the light – something I am exceedingly guilty of. And whilst statues at the very least stand or sit still, they just don’t normally smile for the camera.

Long exposure photography came next in the long list of my photographic grooves. And that  meant painting with light at night. So I just make my own light. After all, photography is just writing with light, isn’t it?

I got into the groove of flash photography to capture special effects.

Landscapes became my groove.  Landscapes, sunsets and anywhere else where there is great light, I am there with my camera. 

Night sky photography – Aurora Australis or the Southern Lights , and the Milky Way!  At last I have a wide lens so the night sky is no longer a limit!  I have found my photographic groove – (at least for now)

Galaxy of stars

But wait…. are these grooves or techniques?  

Actually, I think my photographic groove is to try many and varied techniques as they all build my  knowledge, hone my skills,  and extend my creative interests.

I may not have a specific niche but neither am I in a rut. 

It’s just my photographic groove.

WQW #29 Water: Rivers on my mind

Flooded rivers,  rapids or calm waters. I wonder if I can capture both? Just dipping my toes into the archives of my mind (and lens).

Be like the river encountering a rock; flow like grace around any obstacle – Scott Shaw

Sometimes there will be bridges. Other times, it may be necessary to get your feet wet.

“A dream is like a river ever-changing as it flows and a dreamer’s just a vessel that must follow where it goes.” — Garth Brooks

Is this a dream or a nightmare?  What do you see in the reflections? I choose to see my heart dreams reflected in the river. 

“Life is like the river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere.” 

“The road to democracy may be winding and is like a river taking many curves, but eventually the river will reach the ocean”    – Chen Shui-bian

And in New Zealand, we are always quite close to the ocean, no matter which coast we are on.