Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

April 21, 2016

Long Overdue

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 9:26 am
Tags: , , , ,

The title of this post has dual meaning. I am long overdue to write a blog post. It has been a wonderful spring with so many enjoyable moments! As I’ve looked around and enjoyed posts from Robin, Dawn, Kathy (welcome back!), Mike, Amy, Gerry and Carol, I get so very inspired to write and then something else takes my attention and I don’t do it. I decided to change that this morning and actually do it, so I started scrolling through the photos on my phone, looking back at the moments I wanted to remember for one reason or another. (Sorry Rebel camera, I have been very bad about picking you up and making use of you lately. I promise to change that soon!) My plan was to write another post similar to the last one I did – a journalish kind of post updating what’s been going on so that I had words to go with my photos. As I scrolled, I realized I had more than enough photos to focus on one very special event, one that was indeed long overdue.

Long time readers will know that my sister Jennifer, our best friend Renae and I have been like the three muskateers for most of our lives – literally we have been friends for 40 years! Since we were 4, 5 and 6 years old respectively. Even though Renae does not live as close to us as we would like any more (she was just down the street as we grew up), we make the time to see each other throughout the year. We have taken girls getaway weekends together. In 2014, we were planning another little trip together to a seaside town in New Hampshire. Then horrific news struck. I think Renae will be okay with me sharing this at this point, as she has gone public with what she has been through on her Facebook page, Renae was diagnosed with breast cancer and discovered she carries the breast cancer gene. A double mastectomy followed, then chemo and radiation. A year from hell. Strong, amazing woman that she is, Renae is doing well and feeling healthy these days and is a strong advocate for research into Stage 4 cancer – the constant fear in the back of any cancer survivor’s mind.

Back when Renae was diagnosed and we had to cancel our girls’ weekend, we promised ourselves that when she was well and ready, we would do a BIG celebratory trip – not somewhere within driving distance, somewhere we would have to get on an airplane together to reach – something we’d never done before. And we finally did it. Just about 3 weeks ago, the three of us boarded a plane to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

After a very late arrival Friday night due to a long delay and rerouting of our flight due to strong thunderstorms happening in parts of the south, we woke up Saturday morning to a beautiful day.
First Ft Lauderdale morning
view from hotel room balcony

I could feel my entire body just relax into being present in where I was – a warm, tropical climate with my best friends in the world with no agenda other than to plop ourselves on the beach and enjoy each others’ company.
On Ft Lauderdale beach
Ahhhhh!

Since we did not rent a car – just about everything you might want or need is in walking distance in Ft. Lauderdale – cocktails from the poolside tiki bar at the hotel were indulged in just about anytime we felt like it!
Beach cocktails!
Something melon-y. I don’t remember the name, but it was good!

Our hotel
This is the hotel from the beach. That thatched roof you see to the right side of the photo is the tiki bar. Very convenient!

Just because
This is a great picture representing how we spent our days. Lounge on the beach, go for a walk, go for a swim – whatever we wanted. I went for an invigorating swim in the ocean in amazingly warm water with some wild crashing waves. It made me feel so very alive and thankful and conscious of appreciating the present moment.

Each night we walked to dinner at a local restaurant and we were not disappointed with any of our choices. How wonderful to walk the sidewalks and see tropical flowers in bloom as we went!
Hibiscus

Tropical flowers

I think the three of us would agree our favorite meal was at Greek Islands Taverna. We had a wonderful Greek waiter who recommended this delicious Greek wine.
Wonderful Greek wine
We would love to be able to find this wine for sale back home somewhere!

We shared a Greek salad as an appetizer – Renae took this shot of me with it.
Me, with Greek salad

And I had a delicious moussaka for my entree.
Fabulous dinner

We were super full from a great meal that night, but we couldn’t resist taking some dessert to share to go – baklava AND baklava cheesecake!

The next night’s dinner was at Aruba Beach Cafe. Another wonderful choice. Our bartender took this picture of the three of us while we waited for our table:
"Ussie"
That was one delicious margarita! Well, I think it was actually two delicious margaritas…

Appetizer and dinner that night:
Conch fritters
Conch fritters

Seafood quesadilla
Seafood quesadilla

Our final dinner together was at 101 Ocean.
Appetizer:
Crab, artichoke and spinach dip
Crab, artichoke and spinach dip

Dinner:
Lobster paella
Lobster Paella

Both the Aruba Cafe and 101 Ocean are located in the quaint neighborhood of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, a cute little touristy area with shops and restaurants and ice cream. We decided that last night to enjoy one last walk on the beach – walked from the restaurant to the hotel. On the approach to our hotel, I noticed the palm trees there were decorated with lights and had to take a quick picture:
Lit palm trees

We had an early flight home on Tuesday morning, so on Monday morning I took an opportunity to enjoy an early morning solo walk on the beach.
Morning walk

I was so very appreciative that we made the time to take this trip. It is one I will remember forever, and something that I hope we make a tradition – perhaps an annual one. Thank you Jennifer and Renae for this wonderful experience!
Last day on the beach

March 14, 2015

A Wintery Cape Cod Visit

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 4:37 pm
Tags: , , ,

Last weekend, the women of my immediate family and I had the pleasure of spending the weekend together on Cape Cod. My mother lives there and my sister, two daughters and I drove down to visit. We had two birthdays to celebrate as well – Meghan’s 20th, which occured a couple weeks ago and my mother’s (age politely not included here) which happens tomorrow. As always we enjoyed laughter and each other’s company. It was also an opportunity for me to spend some time getting to know my 85mm lens!

I tried a couple of candid portrait shots without my daughters’ knowledge. I adjusted these a little in Lightroom. I like the fine but soft detail on their faces.
mcandid

scandid

The weather was still quite chilly, but thankfully not raining or snowing. We visited snow-covered Smuggler’s Beach in South Yarmouth.

Meghan and Sarah took the opportunity to have their first-ever snowball fight at the beach. I appreciated the stop-action in these shots.
snowballfight1

snowballfight2
Can you see the snowball Meghan is tossing in the air here, ready to chuck it at her sister?

I found a couple bird photos to add to my collection (probably no surprise to regular readers here)
soaring
Gull against a winter sky

oddduck2
I have not been able to identify this duck yet, but I found it very interesting. Any thoughts about what he or she might be?

And a group shot of our bundled up crew:
group
From left to right: me, Meghan, Sarah (wearing her Totoro hooded sweatshirt, complete with ears!), my mother, my sister Jennifer.

August 18, 2014

The Maine Thing – part 3

Thursday, day 56 of summer, dawned sunny and windy after the storm the day before. The high tide in the wee hours of Thursday morning came up extremely high.
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It washed all the way up to the beach grass. You can see in this shot two of three kayaks that washed up along the beach. They didn’t get too far from their owners, but they were filled with mud. Our beach stuff was too.

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I’m surprised that tube didn’t float away somewhere. The blue plastic is a sun tent that we collapsed over our beach chairs. It did a decent job of keeping the chairs fairly dry, but the mud holding it all down was very heavy.

In addition to kayaks, I found other things washed in with the storm, like this jellyfish.
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There were spectacular waves for this area as well. The tides at this little inlet beach are usually extremely mild. Even at high tide the waves are normally just very gentle rolls. When I walked near Basket Island at low tide, I was shocked to find loud, crashing waves.
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Here’s a little video I took.

While I wasn’t able to get any close pictures of the resident blue heron, I was happy to once again find a snowy egret.
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Thursday was a good day for finds!

Friday, day 57 of summer, and our last full day in Maine, was “iffy” weather-wise. It was cloudy and cool as I took my last morning walk.
Cloudy cool morning

I normally like to spend my last vacation day basking on the beach all day, but the weather wasn’t cooperating, so I suggested to my family that we take another short jaunt out for a while, in hopes that maybe the clouds would clear and allow us some late afternoon beach time. We headed up to Scarborough. We scoured for treasures at the large Christmas Tree Shops and had lunch at the Sebago Brewing Company. I really enjoyed my seafood chowder and lobster BLT!
Sebago Brewing Company lunch

No visit to Scarborough is complete without a visit here
Famous Maine place
to buy candy and see Lenny the life-sized chocolate moose!
Lenny the life sized chocolate moose
Lenny is made from 1,700 pounds of milk chocolate!

At the end of the day, the girls and I carried out the end-of-vacation tradition: feeding the seagulls any leftover food we didn’t plan to take home.
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The birds gathered in large number quickly.
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Meghan had to check and make sure we weren’t giving away perfectly good potato chips!
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Quite the commotion was caused when a handful of chips was tossed out.
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And Meghan even got one brave soul to take food from her hand.
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Even though the weather was less than perfect, I cherished this time on vacation with my family. I know my years of having my whole family together for this week in the future are running low, so each passing year’s vacation becomes more precious.

August 17, 2014

The Maine Thing – part 2

Or… Bean & Smitty

On Tuesday, day 54 of summer, the fog came on little cat feet.
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The little islands off the shore of the beach completely disappeared in the fog bank.

I still went out for my morning walk, but it was with a bit of a chill as I made my way through the mist.
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And I dreamed about “if only…” as I walked.
I want it!

Deciding it wasn’t going to be beach-sitting weather that day, I suggested a trip to Freeport to the family, home of the famous L.L. Bean flagship store.
Big boot at LL Bean
Size 410 boot!

Clashing moose display
“The Final Charge” – two male moose reconstructed from the remains of a set of locked antlers.

I have no idea why this exists, but it does, and I of course took a picture.
Also from LL Bean

We enjoyed lunch and souvenir shopping and ice cream eating while in Freeport.

On Wednesday, day 55 of summer, most of New England, and I think other parts of the Northeast as well, were deluged by a huge rain storm. The rain started in the morning, not really letting up much throughout the day.
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That made Wednesday our day to enjoy some time at Smitty’s Cinema – a place we discovered a few years ago and have enjoyed going to ever since.

At Smitty’s you can enjoy pub style food, served by a waitress to your table in the theater, where you sit in comfortable high backed chairs.
Annual visit to Smitty's

My family’s choice of movie was “Guardians of the Galaxy”. I’m not a follower of Marvel but this was a fun movie and a great way to spend a rainy afternoon.

The rain continued and the wind howled and thunder rumbled well into the night. I will show you the results of the storm in my next blog post.

The Maine Thing – part 1

Filed under: 66 Days of Summer,Travel — Karma @ 3:32 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Days 51, 52 and 53 of summer were the beginning of my one week vacation to Hills Beach in Biddeford Maine. This was our 5th year returning to the little cottage on the beach known as “The Dollhouse”.
Path to cottage

After leaving the house bright and early Saturday morning, and successfully avoiding the worst of the highway traffic on our route north, we made our stops for supplies along the way. I’ve told you before about Yummies – this year was no exception for stopping at our favorite candy store. I also grabbed a pint of (expensive! $7!) wild Maine blueberries at a roadside stand.
Wild Maine blueberries
(didn’t think to take a picture until after helping myself to a few handfuls!)

We arrived at the cottage after doing our grocery shopping and unpacked the car. Low tide greeted us at the beach.
Low tide at Hills Beach

I was happy to spend the last hours of the day in a beach chair reading after the work for the day was done.
Ending of a long day

I found myself awake shortly after sunrise on Sunday morning with beautiful light streaming in my window.
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After starting to read a most appropriate book with my breakfast,
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I was off on my morning walk – my preferred way of starting each day on vacation.

The afternoon brought beach time with my family.
Enjoying my girls' company on the beach

On Monday morning’s walk, I brought the Canon along with me.
I found
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ducks enjoying the beach

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the closest (unfortunately) view I would have for the week of my friend the blue heron

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and that strange marker with fortune-telling graffiti on it once again. The last time I took a picture of this marker it said, “Life is a gift” – a message I definitely needed to hear at the time. I found it pretty cool that it seems to say “Everything adventurous” now at a time in my life when I am trying to find the next big adventure!

More to come in the Maine editions of the 66 Days of Summer.

August 21, 2013

Maine Discoveries

Each morning on my vacation in Maine, I would take a walk on the expansive beach. At Hills Beach, I think I’ve mentioned before that when the tide goes out, it goes WAY out:
Hills Beach, low tide
Low tide allows for long walks and exploration. The tide times lined up beautifully for most of the week for me to wander the sand bars and make simple discoveries.

Fun Footprints
I was focused on these gull footprints ambling up a little incline in the sandbar, and made the happy discovery when I later looked at the photo of the sparkling water in the upper right corner.

Here is a better view of the somewhat “steep” sandbar:
sand dollar haven

This particular sandbar turned out to be a great place for discovering these:
sand dollars
I just love sand dollars. I took home 4 this year. I’m trying to decide what I could do with them to display them.

Continuing down this sand bar, I noticed a noisy group of gulls flocking in one particular area.
snowy egret 3
I figured the fishing must have been good that day and watched them happily dipping in the water and calling out. Suddenly my eyes caught something just a little bit different in this group. Did you see my discovery?
snowy egret 2
A snowy egret! (There are actually two of them in the first shot) This is a new-to-my-camera bird. I’ve of course heard of them before, and may have seen them at some point, but I’d never been close enough to get pictures. I sat down on the sand bar and happily snapped away.
snowy egret 4

snowy egret 1

snowy egret 5

I guess you wouldn’t call these other birds discoveries, since I have photographed them before, but I’d still like to share them with you. I have a bit of a history here on the blog with attempting to photograph birds of prey. I was surprised one morning while eating my breakfast to see a small hawk swoop down right in the neighbor’s front yard:
beach hawk

It landed on the fence and seemed to be chasing a rather cheeky squirrel who didn’t seem afraid. Here’s the squirrel on the lower rung of the fence, and the hawk is on the ground to the lower left of the shot:
Cheeky squirrel & hawk

I also visited with my friend the great blue heron, who I always seem to find hanging out in the same spot near the tiny harbor around the bend from the beach.
great blue heron

One evening when I had taken the camera outside to capture those beautiful colors I showed you in the last post, I saw the heron wading in one of the tide pools. Most of my attempted shots of it came out too blurry due to the fading light. I did get this one of it taking flight, which I think could have been very lovely if I knew how to do it correctly:
heron take-off
I would have loved for the edges of this bird’s silhouette to have been more defined so that you could see it more clearly, but that is beyond my photo editing skills, if it is even possible with this shot.

Discoveries old and new – hope you enjoyed exploring Hills Beach with me.

August 19, 2013

A Piece of my Heart

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 9:35 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

My heart in Maine

Each year when I return home from our vacation in Maine, I feel as though I’ve left a little piece of my heart behind.

After this year’s long and unusually traffic-filled ride, I took that much more pleasure in filling my lungs with the salty air and letting my soul settle in to the place where it feels so at home.
breath deep and relax

The colors of the evening never failed to disappoint…
sunset at Hills beach

stunning color fading light

And the morning light sparkled on the water like diamonds.
water sparkle 1

water sparkle 2

Although Maine is far from the tropics, when I put my head on the pillow at night I’d see this pine tree out the bedroom window that for some reason made me think of tropical breezes and palm trees lulling me to sleep.
"tropical" Maine

To avoid overloading you with photos in one post, I will continue with another post this week showing some of my Maine “discoveries”.

July 10, 2013

A Peek at Peaks

This past weekend, my sister invited me to spend a couple days with her on Peaks Island in Maine. Peaks is a small island in Casco Bay, about 15 minutes from mainland Portland by ferry. Her husband’s family has been vacationing on Peaks for many years. I’ve been to visit a few times in the past, but my most recent trip prior to this past weekend was about 5 years ago, so I decided to take Jennifer up on her offer.

During the ferry ride, I had a view of the iconic Portland Headlight:
Portland Headlight from Casco Bay

Approach to Peaks Island:
Approach to Peak's Island

Each morning I was there, Jennifer and I and her cute little cavachon, Ozzie
happy Ozzie
took an around-the-island walk of about 4.5 miles.

I saw many beautiful flowers in bloom:
black-eyed susan

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This cottage had gorgeous climbing flowers (roses? not sure!)
climbing roses on cottage

Probably of no surprise to anyone who reads this blog, sea birds also caught my camera’s attention.
Cormorants:
cormorants

A blue heron:
blue heron

and I’m not sure what kind of duck this is:
Black and white duck? Any id ideas?
I’ve spent some time on my bird identification site and I’ve been unable to come up with an exact match. Any thoughts?

I also got to photograph a new-to-me bird, a cedar waxwing:
cedar waxwing(1)
Isn’t it pretty? It turned around and appeared to be looking right at me:
cedar waxwing(2)

Here’s a sight you don’t see everyday when you are out for a walk:
mailbox sculpture
Don’t ask me, I really don’t know! 😉

Peaks almost always has a lovely sunset to round out your day:
Peak's Island sunset(1)

Peak's Island sunset(2)

I hope you enjoyed your little tour around Peaks Island!

P.S. Scott has a new photo assignment! Pop on over and check it out!

February 3, 2013

Just Winging It!

Hey there! It’s been a while! My last post was almost 2 weeks ago now, and the blogging muse in my mind has had enough silence. So what’s been going on you may ask? Life, the universe and everything has sent me on a bit of a roller-coaster ride.

Meghan actually did get to go on several rollercoaster rides! Last Saturday morning I dropped dear daughter at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, CT for a school computer and technology department field trip to Disney World! She was gone for three nights and came home Tuesday. They got to stay at the Disney Port Orleans Resorts

participate in two Disney Y.E.S. programs

and visit all four of the major parks.

While she was in Florida, the temperatures were in the mid-70’s. Around here we were in the middle of that nasty cold snap when the daytime temps struggled to get out of the teens. Needless to say I was just a tiny bit envious!

After I dropped Meghan at the airport that morning, I travelled north on Interstate 91 back into Massachusetts and stopped to visit with my sister for a while. The previous day she had pretty much the same surgery that A-Rod, reviled NYY player, had recently. She’s been couch bound for over a week now, and this, I believe, is a rather regular daily view for her:

That’s Ozzie, her faithful cavachon, which is a mixture of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Bichon Frise.

While Meghan had a wonderful time in Disney World, life continued here. I made some more progress on Sarah’s birthday quilt:
quilt progress
Um, yeah, Sarah’s birthday is in August, and, uh, yes, that was supposed to be a 15th birthday gift for her. So far I’m only 6 months behind schedule…got something to say about that? 😉

When Meghan got home from Florida, New England weather was showing its weird side again. We went from bitter cold to strangely warm temperatures, had rain and thunder and wind, and even lost the power in the middle of the night during the windstorm. I got up and went to work the next morning, hairdryer in tow! It hadn’t come back on by the time I had to leave so I went to work with a wet head. Thank goodness the bitter cold hadn’t returned just yet.

I don’t think all the wild swings in weather did Meghan much good. She had been fighting a cold before she left, but seemed to be getting better. Upon her return she didn’t sound good to me. Off to the doctor’s office: upper respiratory infection. I felt bad for her one evening and on a whim made her a cup of hot peppermint tea. We’re not really tea-drinkers in this house, but on this occasion it seemed like the thing to do. And what do you know? She gratefully took the cup and seems to have taken a liking to it.
daughter's discovery

The cold has returned, and so have the birds to my feeders. I’ve been practicing some more with my heavy new lens, and I’ve been doing okay. I have to shoot in manual focus on this lens because autofocus doesn’t allow the focus ring to be manually adjusted – one definite downside to this lens – and that adds a bit to the challenge of quick moving birds!
dark-eyed junco
Dark-eyed junco

white-breasted nuthatch
White-breasted nuthatch

sparrows
Sparrows

A birdy conversation?
Male house finch and sparrow

Male House Finch
Male house finch
That finch looks like a friendly chap, doesn’t he? It almost seems like he could strike up a conversation. How about you? Strike up a conversation in the comments section if you’d like!

December 31, 2012

My Favorite Photos of 2012

Since I started blogging in 2010, I’ve done a wrap-up of my favorite photos of the year.  They aren’t always my more “technically” good photos, but photos I’ve come to enjoy for one reason or another.  I believe these photos have all appeared on the blog already this year, but that is because I am always anxious to share my favorites with you!  The photos that follow are in chronological order approximately one for each month of the year, but in one case I didn’t find anything I liked all that much in a month (February) and for April and July I couldn’t make up my mind between two shots, so you get them both for a baker’s dozen total.

In January, I was finally able to get a close-up shot of a Mr. Cardinal that made me happy:
mrcardinal3

In March, I felt lucky to grab this shot of a soaring hawk, with feathers strongly defined:
hawk1

In April, I went on and on about one of my favorite vacations of all time, the cruise we took. Meghan and Sarah, first day on the ship and taken with my Blackberry, remains a favorite:
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There were so many beautiful sights from the cruise, but I wanted to share a shot that I love for its simplicity:
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The warm, turquoise Carribbean water brings me back to those precious days when there was little to worry about and happy memories were being made.

May brought me a picture of one of my favorite types of flowers, a bearded iris, that I was very pleased with how it came out. It was the header picture here on the blog until very recently:
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Ah, June! The end of the school year, the start of my favorite season. Yummy raspberries are a nice representation of the many good parts of summer.
fresh raspberries

July is the month when my butterfly bushes start going wild and bring many winged visitors. This monarch was one of my best butterfly shots this year:
King of butterflies

I just love this photo of Sarah from her birthday party. Her braces had been removed and her smile was big and genuine:
Sarah1

As part of a photo hunt that everyone really seemed to enjoy, the “Ends of the Earth”, I took this photo in August from our little mountain here in town:
mountain2

In September, my summer dreams faded away with the weather. This dahlia reminds me of the warmth of the afternoons that I continued to enjoy as long as I could:
Dahlias #2

October brought a blog-along walk over at Robin’s Life in the Bogs. I found myself doing some quiet contemplation while watching birds appear before my lens. I loved this sweet little chickadee:
chickadee

I was happily surprised to have the opportunity to photograph an eastern bluebird for the first time in November. It isn’t a wonderful photo, but I was thrilled with the chance to get this picture:
Eastern bluebird

How ironic that I spent December wishing for a gentle blanket of snow to take pretty pictures in and then ended up sharing this adventure with you just yesterday! (If you haven’t read it yet, go ahead, have a peek!) I still really like this picture of my new snowman ornaments, even if I could now do without the sentiment:
"Let it Snow" 2

Happy New Year everyone. I hope that 2013 brings you good health, and paraphrasing the words of a fellow blogger, enough of what you need most.

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