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We were wise enough to rent a GPS from our car rental company Vamos -I highly recommend them, though be cautioned – renting a car in CR fpr 9 days was just as expensive for a flight for two of us from Denver. But our little four-wheel drive was sturdy, reliable, and trustworthy as we forded small streams in the jungle on the way to Play San Miguel. Even though we had tried programming the GPS (fondly nicknamed Ms. Lady) with the coordinates of our lodging, she just couldn’t cope with that command, so we put in the coordinates for Playa San Miguel. And got there just fine. But as the roads are poorly or non-existingly marked, we didn’t know where to go next.

We tried to road to the beach itself.  I went to inquire of an elderly couple who were watching over the smallest dog I had even seen as it dipped its paws in the water, but they spoke no English, and my Spanish (which is different from Costa Rican Spanish) failed me. With directions from a cable supply man whose English was also most limited, we asked at an old shipping container that had been converted to a bar, and finally made our way back up to the main dirt road. Had we gone just a bit farther, we might have found it on our own, but perhaps not. This is the Playa San Miguel Visitor Center – a slew of arrowless, directionless signs nailed to a tree at the turn to the beach road. And we only discovered this on our way back at the end of our trip.Visitor Center, Guanacaste Style

Playa San Miguel, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

The moral of this tale? When looking for where you’re supposed to be in Costa Rica, just sit back and enjoy the ride. You’ll get there eventually.

Quote of the day: “The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.” — Allain de Botton

Daily Gratitudes:
That ACA was not repealed today
Petting dogs that lean on your legs on down days
Restaurants where servers know us
Cold hands, warm heart
A cleaned-up email mailbox

 

 

 

 

 

This fellow was definitely the most regal and superb of the herd. And many thanks to reader Emily Jane for confirming that they are as I had expected – curious and (mostly) friendly. I’ve only ever encountered them as rodeo bulls, and in that role, they are rank! I love them anyway.

The Golden BrahmaGuanacaste Province, Costa Rica.

Quote of the day: “Give a bull grass, sweet water and a willing heifer and he is happy. But a man is never content. If no gadflies of worry exist he will invent them.” — Alison Fell

Daily Gratitudes:
The mountains
Trees blooming
Walking through the empty fountain in the plaza
The howls of coyotes at night
The first green of spring

 

 

 

This couple was as interested in us as we were in them. They approached cautiously and got as close to us as they could, considering we were separated by a fence. Which was probably for the best.

A Floppy Eared Spy
Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Quote of the Day: ““To my mind, the only possible pet is a cow. Cows love you. They will listen to your problems and never ask a thing in return. They will be your friends forever.” — Bill Bryson

Daily Gratitudes:
Snow-capped mountains on sunny days
Advice from my beloved MKL – if only I’d take it
Sore muscles
Postcards in protest
Seeing pictures of Seattle and knowing Kelsea is somewhere beyond the hills

 

 

The roads in Guanacaste are seemingly all red dirt, with steep hills…the kind of hills that, when you get to the top, you have no idea what’s going to be on the downhill. Sort of like what I’d imagine a roller coaster is like, never having been on one. They are lovely and dusty, endless and adventuresome. My favorite kind of road. The sea would creep into view from time to time, just to let us know it was close by, and the landscape alternated between sugar cane crops, savannah grasslands, and grazing fields edged by large hills. We had to take it fairly slow because of the hills and limited visibility. We never knew if we were going to encounter people, dogs, iguanas, stopped vehicles, small rivers, or roadblocks like this lovely shadow-splattered lady. She wasn’t the slightest bit startled by us, and just took her time strolling across the road, after giving us a level stare.

A Dainty Roadblock

Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica.

Quote of the day: “A painting is more than the sum of its parts,’ he would tell me, and then go on to explain how the cow by itself is just a cow, and the meadow by itself is just grass and flowers, and the sun peeking through the trees is just a beam of light, but put them all together and you’ve got magic.” —  Wendelin Van Draanen

Daily gratitudes:
Feeling better (but trying not to start running at 1000%)
A talk with Kelsea and Rachel
Sleeping with the windows open
Tea
Having the ability to travel

 

I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to stop here, but we did drive by several times. Our timing was just off. Playa Islita is lovely stretch of white sand and swaying palms trees, with carts selling fresh coconuts (coconut water out of a coconut is the only way to go), families picnicking, and people walking the long arc of beach. A few hours there are definitely part of our plans for the next trip.

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Playa Islita, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Quote of the Day: “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” — Anita Desai

Daily gratitudes:
Baffling the doctor
A tiny girl on a tinier bicycle
A tropical color palette
A clean bill of health for Mr. Man
Chicken noodle soup

 

While we’ve been back for a bit, I still haven’t quite gotten my ducks in the same yard, much less in a row. The Costa Rican crud that I picked up continues to plague me, but as everything does, it will get better. Costa Rica was a wonderful country, with amazingly friendly people, crazy roads, and a simple lifestyle that held a strong appeal for us. We didn’t venture far from our tiny lodging, and that was okay for this trip, but (of course) I am planning a return visit to explore more of this magical place. Every night, we had a sunset like this, our first one.

CR Sunset
Playa San Miguel, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Quote of the day: “Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.” — Jack Kerouac

Daily gratitudes:
A lovely day
Costa Rican crud medicine
Cuddlesome cats
Tea
My youngest stepson

 

 

 

My favorite shots from the Women’s March on Denver today, a peaceful protest that brought many people together as we support human rights, women’s rights, our planet’s rights, and share our perspective on this great experiment we call democracy.

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I am so grateful to live in a country where we have this freedom of expression. Love to all.

With 2017 in the works, I’m starting some new things, though I’m not making resolutions, because they usually are pointless. I am setting intentions and acting on exciting changes. It has been a lovely, protracted holiday season, and I will miss it – it’s my favorite time of year. Here’s a sunset towards the end of our strange last year, to usher the old out and the new in. I hope you feel hope and positive change (yes, I did that) for the coming months. And of course, as always love and joy.

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Littleton, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “I’ve always found that the most beautiful people, truly beautiful inside and out, are the ones who are quietly unaware of their effect.” — Jennifer L. Armentrout

Daily gratitudes:
Feeling like a lovely married couple
Dogs in shop windows
My surrogate daughter
That Kelsea returns from Ireland tomorrow (though not to me)
Two workouts today

 

The magic of Christmas in the fading Canadian light. I’m finally warming up to the holidays. The Santa Hat has made its first appearance. MKL and I got to take a wonderful narrow gauge train ride through Santa’s Magic Forest with an adorable three-year old. Kelsea is home. We’re going to the Nutcracker on Friday. The girls are decorating the tree on Saturday. While other aspects of the world are spinning out of their orbits, I feel a modicum of peace.

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Vancouver, Canada.

Quote of the day: “Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” — Charles Dickens

Daily gratitudes:
The smiles the Santa Hat generates
Protein
Office parties
Hitchcock movies
Warm blankets

I know I promised Canada, and will deliver on said promise, but today the Front Range was so lovely, I just had to share. I worked late last night, not getting home until 1:00 a.m., and only falling into a fitful sleep between 4:15 and 7:15. Throughout the night, I heard rain, which was a becalming sound. Being a woman who takes short 45-second private tropical vacations because of my internal magma, I continue to have the bedroom window open a few inches, even in the sub-zero nights, so last night, I listened to the comfort of rain falling on the dead leaves of the evil Chinese elm tree, and the long slow soothe of a freight train whistle a few miles up the road. I tried to remember what the whistle signals meant, as my father gave me a document long ago that explained the whistle “morse code” that engineers used. The grey of the morning wore off, MKL arrived, we bought a lovely little Christmas tree, saw some llamas, sheep, goats, and BMWs, braved the weirdness of WalMart, went out for coffee and listened to the bluegrass jam session at the East Simpson Coffee Shop.

I changed the sheets, cleaned the bathroom (not enough), watched an episode of “Sherlock” on PBS. I had a baked potato, having decided (in a rather numb-nut fashion) to stop eating sugar and flour now, just before Christmas celebrations. After all, it’s 10 weeks to Costa Rica.

Now, I am cuddled with Mr. Man, trying to adjust to how my body has  been today, how my spirit has been today, on the 10th anniversary of my Mother’s death. As I have said before, I can instantly place myself  back in each moment of the nine days that I was with her up to her passing – and the terrible days afterwards. I physically hurt, and have shed tears a few times when talking to MKL, who is extra adorable, because he never fails to have a handkerchief handy for me to dry my tears.

While I only occasionally have visitation dreams from people who have passed on, it is clear when they occur. I would love to have my Mother visit me, and it has happened only twice in all these years, except for this year, when she stopped by every night for about four days, as she was poised to assist a friend to the next place. No matter how much I want her to come to me in my dreams, she doesn’t. It’s a hard thing for me to understand, but I know it’s in both of our best interests. Still, it adds a caul to the sadness that I feel for the loss of her, which is there daily, but more potent on anniversaries. I cried through the parent/child dance at the wedding I catered last night. I haven’t done that in many years.

But today was a good day, a beautiful day, and I know that would make her happy, as it made me happy, even with the ache throbbing in my heart to the beat of the bluegrass.

20161211_124006-cropBoulder, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “There is something about losing your mother that is permanent and inexpressable – a wound that will never quite heal.” — Susan Wiggs

Daily gratitude:
The smell of the little Christmas tree lot
Today’s clouds
Siting a bald eagle in flight
Clean sheets
The seasonal reappearance of the Santa Hat

 

 

 

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