Road Trips

Since I was a little girl one of the things I remember were road trips with my mom & dad.  We would pile into the family car and my dad would just drive.  Living in West Virginia, there were lots of scenic back roads and I would sit in the back and listen to my dad whistle.  Long stretches of roads leading to nowhere in particular….

Seems as if in the past few weeks I’ve felt a need to revisit road trip travel and have several times over this past month.    

The second weekend I had a trip with my photo group to Gasparilla Island on Boca Grande and photographed the lighthouses. It was a beautiful day.

The following weekend I visited Solomon’s Castle and vivid piece of architecture which came from the imagination of an incredibly talented and eclectic man. His art is whimsical and speaks volumes of the man he was, sadly he passed away several years back, but his home is open to the public for touring along with his private collection of art and pre – 1935 cars. Unfortunately due to his estate, we were not permitted to take photographs of his artwork (I may be able to find some from a past trip when he was still living).   

Strolling through the grounds in the Florida heat & humidity, you simply take in the beauty of the land and his gardens, along with the beauty of the structure he built.  Photos will never do it justice. The tour is funny, insightful and gives you a glimpse of what life was like for this eccentric junk collector; although to him it was art and not junk.  If you live in Florida, this is a must see place, just remember however, they close from August 1 to October 2. 

Sunday June 23 was my birthday and I decided to head over to the Avon Park area, hang out with friends at their church and be closer to attend the funeral of one of my cousins.  I was able to reconnect with his daughters whom I’ve not seen in at least 50 years.  It was such a bittersweet time.  Oliver was probably my dad’s best friend along with Oliver’s brother Rich, growing up as kids.  They hung out together and played as kids; Daddy was the oldest, however he was also the first to pass almost 36 years ago. Oliver lived to be 91. As a child I remember him being funny and always up to some shenanigans with my father. I know he will be missed.  

This past weekend I headed back over to the Avon Park area so the I could participate in the Independent Day musical of a really good friends church. It was wonderful to be able to re-ignite another passion. Music Has been in my life since I was a little girl. My soul was so refreshed.

As you can see I’ve had a busy month traveling taking day and over night trips. It’s been refreshing to just drive the country back road Florida has.

Please enjoy some of my photos.

Gasparilla Island, Boca Grande

Solomon’s Castle, Ona, Florida

Cousins!

Cats At Work

Sandee
On August 6, 2018 very special little lady entered our lives at work.  Her name is Sandee and she is part of the Cats at Work program, where they provide cats for the work environment.

It is a cat rescue program designed to find homes for unadoptable cats.  Most of the rescues are feral and don’t do well in home environments.  These cats are being adopted by Golf Courses and Country clubs to help keep down the mice and rat populations.  The animals are cared for; fed, vetted and loved (some at a distance) for the rest of their living days.

Sandee’s back story is that she was found by a dumpster by an office worker at a trucking company where she had delivered four kittens. The lady took her and her four kittens in and called a local cat rescue group to come and get them.  The rescuer came, picked up the cats and got the kittens out for adoption when the time came, spayed her.  However, when they took mama cat back to the trucking company they were moving locations and didn’t want her, so back to Domestic Animal Services she went; which is where she stayed up until she came to us.  Sandee was dubbed “feral” by her rescuers which means she was classified as “unadoptable”,  however she is anything but feral.  From the moment she entered our office I think she knew she was going to her forever (furever) home.  She is so loving, and gentle, she loves everyone who comes through our door.  She no longer wants to be outside in fact she runs the opposite way if the doors is open.  Being her main caretaker, she has bonded fully with me.  She follows me around when I go to different areas of our building.  She sleeps on my desk in my “in” box, and she plays in the halls knocking her ball around like a soccer ball.
Sandee 1

I am so fortunate that I get to spend my evenings with my nine year old adoptee Harpo a male tuxedo who I adopted as a kitten from Domestic Animal Services, then I come to work and have Sandee to share my love with.  I am just so fortunate to work in a place that cares not only about people, but about the animals as well.

Harpo
My boy Harpo

I am so fortunate that I get to spend my evenings with my nine year old adoptee Harpo a male tuxedo who I adopted as a kitten from Domestic Animal Services, then I come to work and have Sandee to share my love with.  I am just so fortunate to work in a place that cares not only about people, but about the animals as well.

Click on the link to keep up with Sandee the Office Cat

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The Cat Knows

harpo
Harpo laying his head on my arm while I’m working

Almost eight years ago I adopted a kitten. Okay he adopted me, because we all know you never own a cat, they own you.  However this little guy literally reached his paws out to me as I made my second pass through the pound.  How could I resist? I brought him home that day.  He’s not like any other cat I’ve ever been owned by, he’s different.  Different how you ask? He’s intuitive; he understands me and my moods better than just about any human I’ve ever been around.

 

On days I don’t feel well he sticks close by laying against whatever is ailing me at the time, headache, stomach, etc..  At times he will even lay on the part of my body which is hurting at that moment.  I don’t know how he knows, he just does.

Yesterday I had spent much of the day on Facebook (yeah I know, big mistake), but I had nothing really planned, all my work was caught up and I wanted to see what was going on with all the political rhetoric (again a big mistake).  I totally understand everyone has an opinion, and each side think they’re right and try to force it upon the opposition to prove their point, but there comes a time to just stop.

I woke up just not feeling right, kind of in a bad mood.  No one else lives with me, it’s just the cat and I, so I had to backtrack as to what triggered those feelings.  This morning I came to the conclusion of how much the negative noise of social media had really affected me over this past election and inauguration of our 45th President. When I realized Harpo had not slept on my bed or next to me all night, I knew he was sensing something wasn’t right with me.  He came in around 5:30 this morning, jumped up on the bed at the far right corner and barely acknowledged me.

How did this happen?  None of those posts were actually pointed at me, but something did happened at the end of the evening that set me off prior to going to bed.  Someone began verbally attacking one of my friends for something she said on a post I had made because she  didn’t agree with his philosophy, I immediately fired back and removed his post.  Harpo picked up on this and didn’t even sit with me on the couch as he usually does, he snoozed on the floor….totally out of character for him.  Somehow his instincts told him I was in a bad mood and he steered clear of me all night and all this morning.  He didn’t even beg for his breakfast, he waited patiently for me to feed him.  I left the house feeling bad, knowing I had upset my little black & white buddy.  He understands me.  I know he will be back to loving me tonight, I will make sure of it. But my point in all of this is, if a cat can pick up on the negativity, then how is it affecting each of us?  I know I didn’t sleep well, and I obviously was in a melancholy  mood, so now what?  First I prayed, asked for the spirit of negativity to be lifted.  Then I made a decision regarding reading what is on Facebook.  I will keep scrolling, if it’s political in nature, no matter what side it’s on I will steer clear and even hide the posts if needed.  I will not engage in any of the online badgering/bullying that is happening and I will choose to be joyful throughout my day.  This year I chose the word “Intentional” as my word for the year to work on in my own life.  I am going to be intentional in what I post, to make sure it’s free of negative language and to make sure it’s uplifting to whoever reads it.  I choose JOY! And I will listen more to my cat, because he knows.

If you would like to read more in depth on this issue, please visit Karen Zeigler’s post: Light, Love and Letting Go

Be The Change

I am going to go a bit off topic on this blog from what I normally post.  First of all it is my blog so I can get more personal from time to time and today is that time.

I want to address those who are “devastated” by the choice American made for President of the United States.  First he is not the ideal choice….the ideal choice was eliminated early on.  Next I will address what real devastation is.

Real devastation is waking up and finding out your father has passed away, and you are nine months pregnant.  Real devastation is finding out your child has cancer and won’t live to see his/her teen years or even his/her first birthday.  Real devastation is finding out you have cancer and you’re not sure if you can overcome it.  Real devastation is a parent burying their child who has died tragically.  Real devastation is coming back from battle and being treated like a third class citizen; maybe missing limbs and your dignity and dealing with the horrors you experienced in your tenure overseas.  Real devastation is seeing your fellow man being treated as less than human, no matter who they voted for.  Real devastation is experiencing the horrors of a tornado, flood, hurricane or earthquake and have nothing left of your existence that you worked so hard to build.  Real devastation is waking up wondering how you are going to feed your children because you have to pay the rent and you don’t have anything left for food.  Real devastation is finding out someone you love has taken their life. Real devastation is being homeless and not knowing if you will be alive in the morning because of your circumstances.  Real devastation is not having water to drink, try going a day with out any beverage that requires clean water to make.

Wake up…….

If you are upset over how things are going then volunteer.  There are plenty of opportunities for you to help those who need it.  Homeless shelters, soup kitchens, organizations to help those with cancer, nursing homes where people have no family to spend time with or who care about them, volunteer with habitat for humanity and help build someone a home, donate to worthy gofundme causes, pet shelters where animals could use a little love. If you don’t like the political climate then volunteer for your party of choice. There is a whole plethora of other organizations who could use someone ready to make a change in lives.

I have experienced many of the real devastations life has to offer and I am still here, the sun came up and yes they affected me and still affects me, but they have not made me bitter,  instead have allowed me to understand, care and love deeper.

We are the change, not a man in an office.  Love and cherish the people around you.  Feed a homeless person, give them YOUR coat if it’s cold out. Have integrity, show people what it means to be passionate about a cause, but do it in love; be the change.

October Madness

October is the month where my photographic life starts to pick up. With the cooler temperatures come more outdoor events  here in the beautiful state of Florida, specifically South West Florida.  I shoot more concerts, festivals and portraits during the fall & winter months than any other time of the year, and some weeks it’s totally crazy.  I  don’t mind  the crazy because October is what I call my “sad” month; it’s the month my father passed away thirty-three years ago on October 17.  I have written before that he too was a photographer and I know if he could see what I have done with a camera he would be incredibly proud of me, but I miss him.  This is also the month my oldest son Jimmy turns 33; where has the time gone?  I was just a young girl of twenty-four when this all took place, truly a lifetime ago.

I have a lot of wonderful events on the books and I’m sure I’ll be writing more as they unfold, but for now………daddy, this one’s for you.

2013 09 05_Dad and Camera_6057_edited-2
My father Azle Marteney and my first real camera

From Death Comes Life

QuotesThis past couple of weeks I’ve come to the realization once again that loss is a part of life.  As I was doing my thing with taking concert photos a long time friend was coming to terms with the passing of her husband.  I’ve known this couple since the early to mid 70s, they were beautiful together, and a huge part of my teen/early adult life.  Unfortunately his life was taken by the evil affliction of cancer.  I’ve not seen them in years, but I was praying for him daily during his extensive battle, he has now received complete healing of his body; for that we are thankful, but my heart aches for his beautiful wife, children, family and friends who were closest to him; I know he will be missed.  Along with death there is always life, and sometimes something incredibly beautiful, unplanned and definitely unexpected happens.  It’s taken me this entire week to wrap my mind around the circumstances and express in words what I have been experiencing, but because of this friends passing, a lovely friendship which started over forty years ago was rekindled.  I can’t begin to express what I feel about this, except it’s an extraordinary event; what a true  blessing.  Rest in the arms of Jesus Jimmy Steen, and thank you.Quotes-3

 

Photographic Funk

It’s not often I get this way, normally I have lots to share and lots to write about, but lately I have been in a photographic funk.  It’s not something that will last as I have had them before, but I’m having a difficult time getting myself motivated to shoot anything other than concerts, portraits and weddings.  I know these are my true niche because I love the excitement of it all.  Especially the concerts!  I love meeting people and seeing them excited like when I took photos at the Big Ole Bonfire in the Photo booth.  Or meeting the artists and photographing their fans like I did this night at The Ranch (my photos have my watermark on them).  I love seeing the look of excitement on peoples faces when they get to meet their rock star idol like this young man did with Sixx: AM at Fort Rock.  This excites me! Check out more about Fort Rock here on my blog Festival Daze

My funk comes within my own realm of doing photos for myself.  I need to find something outside of my “normal” range of concerts, weddings & portraits to shoot.  I have tried the “photo a day” challenges and I feel bad when I can’t complete a day’s challenge so I stop doing them.  I need something other than beaches and flowers too;  I need something exciting, something that catches not just my interest, but my eyes.  I need to slow myself down and create my own masterpiece, something worth sharing and talking about.  But what would that be?   I’m not really sure.  Do I need a vacation to somewhere other than here? Maybe, or maybe I just need to take in what’s around me and see it in a different way, but how?  I love adventures! I love taking adventures on my own where no one but me dictates how or when.  Maybe I need a day of adventure, to explore somewhere new on my own and to get back within my grove.  Or maybe I need a day with  couple of my friends who are incredible photographers, who are creative and like to think outside the box. I’m sure this will pass quickly as it always does, but in the meantime if you, my readers have any thoughts or suggestions, please comment below.  Until next time, from the Life of a photographer.