Uncle Willie’s Farm – An Excerpt from Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirit about Heritage

Uncle Willie's Cabin by Russell Nielsen bl wh

Today, on this brisk autumn day in the Midwest, I’d like to share a story from Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits about my family heritage titled “Uncle Willie’s Farm”. The essay recounts memories of my first and only visit to the family farm. It’s by far, one of my favorites.

“Grateful for this experience with my family, I understand a little better this place called Uncle Willie’s farm. I can only envision the playground this farm provided for my mother when she was a young girl full of dreams.

I have come full circle with my heritage. As the noonday warms me from the inside out, an overwhelming feeling fills my body. My throat starts to close an tears well in my eyes. Generations have passed, yet I feel the spirits of those that came before me. I am walking on precious ground. Oh, how I wished I had been around during that era, even just for a day.”

“The ornament of a house, is the friends who frequent it.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Hope you enjoyed the excerpt. I welcome any comments below. I’ll be at Main Street Books on November 3 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. signing copies, and doing a giveaway. If you liked this sneak peak, my book is available on Amazon, and your local bookstore Main Street Books.

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What’s On Your Bucket List, Some Sweet Ladies, and some ‘healing’ books

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Kelly and me, at the PEO luncheon

Last Friday I had the opportunity to speak to the PEO (Philanthropic Educational Organization) women’s group at a church in Ferguson, Missouri. I was invited by author and friend, Deb Marshall and event organizer, Kelly Mazzacavallo.

After a lovely lunch of chicken and ham salad, the women gathered in a cozy lounge and settled in comfortable chairs to listen to me talk about “What’s on Your Bucket List” and the story behind my ‘healing’ coffee table book, Folly Beach Dances.

I shared with the ladies, that in preparation for the talk, hubby handed me a paper I gifted him a few years ago. The paper’s first words were “Do you remember when?” and reflected on all the crazy and unexpected bucket list items achieved in our travel adventures…like seeing the excitement in my husband’s eyes when we dove Bloody Bay Wall in the Cayman Islands, sailing a hobie cat from Sandals Negril to a deserted island, or even observing a ten-foot pregnant black tip reef shark on a dive in the Abacos.

Aptly named for the definition as well as the movie, The Bucket List, stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Complete strangers, fate lands the two men in a hospital room together. The men discover they have things in common – their desire for adventure, and a need to come to terms with their lives. After they are released from the hospital, they set out to check items off both their bucket lists.

At the end of the movie, Edward (the billionaire), living to age 81, has his ashes carried to the top of the Himalayas by his assistant Matthew. As Matthew gently places the container of ashes alongside Carter’s can of ashes, he takes a pen and crosses the last item off the Bucket List (which is to ‘witness something truly majestic’). Finally, Carter (Morgan) states, “I’m pretty sure he (Edward) was happy with his final resting place. Because he was buried on the mountain, and that was against the law.”

So, someone’s idea of a bucket list item, may be totally different than someone else’s.

That’s how it was for me when Folly Beach Dances was just an idea. In 2014, my idea came to fruition. I was able to cross ‘publishing a book’ off my bucket list.

As I spoke about the book’s mission of self-care, healing and positivity, the women listened intently.

I selected some of my favorite poems to read.

“Circle Dog Dance” written by Pat Wahler, reflects on three dogs laying in a circle on a beach relaxing, not a worry in the world.

“The Drifter” penned and photographed by me, reminisces about memories of days gone by and lazy days spent on the beach.

“The Fandango” – An old seagull (sporting grey hair on this wings, face, and body) who lives to fly, soar and dive, is penned by Marcia Gaye.

“The Twist”, about how often times life seems to be a mess of knots and twisted rigging (by Marcia Gaye). The Twist brought tears to the women’s eyes.

After time had run out, the women stepped forward to purchase books. I quickly ran out of Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits, my newest release, and Folly Beach Dances.

One woman stepped forward and shared how “The Twist” touched her heart, reminding her of a family member going through tribulations. We spoke for awhile, and I offered hopeful suggestions on how to make things better. Our conversation ended with a hug.

I thanked Kelly and Deb for allowing me to take part in this quiet gathering. The women where particularly sweet and seemed genuinely interested in my writing. My wish for the day was to stir some emotions, touch some hearts, and be positive.

IMG_1011 me and peo women

Peace, love and sand dollars,

Sheree

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Sheree K. Nielsen is the author of 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner, Folly Beach Dances; coauthor of Midnight, the One-Eyed Cat, and Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets.

 

The Dolphin’s Dance – A gift from Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits book release day

jb040702 (1) The Dolphins Dance Spot and Craig

Spot and Craig, photo copyright by Jason Belport

It’s book release day for Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets, and I couldn’t be more excited. In the coming days, there will be giveaways for free books and Starbucks gift cards.

Writing this book was a labor of love. It was a difficult decision which essays to include in the book. That’s where Trina Sotira came in. An early content editor, she organized the book into sections for me, advising what worked, and what didn’t. Although, I removed some of my favorite essays, there’s always another book to be penned.

So here’s a sneak peak at one of the best days in my life, the inspirational individuals, and special friends I met that unforgettable day.

This excerpt is taken from “The Dolphin’s Dance”.

“Following a second morning dive, Big Sister revved her engine, and steered a course to our afternoon site – The Wreck of the Kissimmee, a Cayman energy tugboat well past her prime, deliberately sunk in 1982 to aid in the reef system. As the boat killed her engine near the northern shore, we recognized a familiar face portside.

Spot had returned for an encore. I clapped my hands in delight. The dolphin patiently waited at the surface for our group to re-enter the ocean’s warm embrace.

We dropped quickly to the sea bottom, where visibility was excellent – as far as one’s eye could see. While exploring the wreck’s nooks and crannies, Spot lingered in the sand flats close by.”

If you enjoyed the sneak peak, you can order the book here or request it at one of your local bookstores. Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits includes complementary photographs and Emerson quotes for each essay.

Peace, love and sand dollars,

Sheree

In Search of My Kindred Spirit – An excerpt from Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirit

DSCN0299 Sea Dog Dance

Today my thoughts are with those affected by the hurricane. My friends in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, seemed to have fare a little better than the other coastal towns like Wilmington. So in honor of them, here’s an excerpt from my book, Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits, to be released Tuesday, September 25, 2018. Hope you enjoy it.

The essay is titled, Finding My Kindred Spirit, and it talks about finding a perfectly inspirational place some search for all their lives. I was lucky to find this place of calm about 7 years ago. So drawn to this spot, I return year after year…

“Two days later, on a radiant Carolina morning, with canteens and cameras in-tow, hubby, the dog and I, made our journey down the beach to the Kindred Spirit Bench from the 40th Street beach access. Along the way, we took time to soak in the sights and sounds – seagulls soaring overhead, driftwood wash ashore, and children building sandcastles.

Arriving at our destination, my carefree animal child with the ice-blue eyes hopped up on one of the two weathered benches aside her Earth Mother. We cast a gaze onto the flat hard sand watching passersby carefully select seashells from the shallow tide pools.”

Hope you enjoyed the sneak peak. The quote below precedes the essay in the book.

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

Emerson

Peace, love and sand dollars,

Sheree

DSCN0300 Russell, flag, Kindred Spirit blkwht copyr

Life on the Wall (Bloody Bay Wall) – Excerpt from Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits

Good morning everyone! I hope our neighbors due south are staying safe in preparation for hurricane Florence.

Today I’ll be sharing an excerpt from “Life on the Wall”, my diving adventure with friend Sheila and divemaster Zam, about the first time I cast a gaze on Bloody Bay Wall in the Cayman Islands.

Hope you enjoy!

“Keeping the wall as my visual landmark, I fin-kick and swim downward. Pressure builds in my ear canals. Pinching my nose with my thumb and forefinger, my cheeks puff as I force an exhale, clearing my ears.

I check my depth gauge, which now reads seventy-eight feet. Glancing to my right, I study the blue abyss. An immense Caribbean reef shark, sleek and gray, appears unexpectedly out of the chasm. I inhale deeply from my regulator, and hold my breath — an action forbidden in scuba diving. I quickly remember to exhale.”

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“The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are truly adjusted to each other, who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of mankind.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Peace, love and sand dollars,

Sheree

 

The Pillars of Hercules – Sneak Peak from Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits

This sneak peak below was taken from an essay I penned for Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits titled “The Pillars of Hercules” – a dive site off the craggy coast of Cayman Brac, teaming with tall pillar corals and magnificent macro life. Our divemaster and boat captain for our adventure was Craig Burhart – also unforgettable. He lead our group from Chesterfield Missouri (Y-Kiki Divers).

Here’s the excerpt from “The Pillars of Hercules”

“Donning my equipment over my sleek swimsuit, I jumped in giant-stride from the dive platform. The tepid water temperature felt invigorating on my skin. With only ten pounds in my weight belt, I dropped effortlessly to the sea floor. Russell followed close behind. The sun’s shadows danced on the rocky bluffs below the surface.

While drifting along the crushed seashell bottom, in the distance, I recognized the regal coral described by Craig. Tall butter cream pillar spires swayed softly and reminded me of bottle brushes, flourishing with banded butterflyfish and hogfish snappers. Close up, their bristles were actually polyp tips that opened and closed.”

26 The Pillars of Hercules, Pillar Coral with full view of banded butterfly copyr

Well, I hope that little teaser peaked your interest enough to visit my blog next Tuesday for a sneak peak at another essay.

For more about Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets click here. The book releases on September 25, 2018.

Peace, love and sand dollars,

Sheree

 

Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection Sneak Peak

Good morning everyone,

In less than a month my book, Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets makes it debut (in paperback) on September 25. Beginning today, I’ll be sharing snippets of my book, (hopefully) posting regularly on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I hope to show the connection we all have to each other – every being, every creature, every drop of rain, every leaf on this place we call Earth.

This paragraph is taken from the Introduction titled “Wednesday Awakenings”. Enjoy!

“After breakfast, I scuffled down the hallway to the bathroom. Squeezing the Crest toothpaste tube, a tiny bubble formed, and floated upward. The small masterpiece remained airborne for what seemed like five minutes. I watched the bubble travel about the bathroom much like a hot air balloon adjusts to altitude. First up, then down, then sideways, toward the window, over the tub, and back towards me like an astronaut weightless in a space capsule. I stepped into the bedroom to grab my camera to capture a shot of the bubble, but when I returned it had disappeared.”

DSC_0467 smile balloon copyrigh

I hope you enjoyed this little teaser. Stay tuned for another snippet tomorrow from a different essay.

Feel free to leave comments below.

Here’s the book cover, in case you haven’t seen it.

Peace, love and sand dollars,

Sheree

Ocean Rhythms eBook Cover Large

Kindle ebook preorder link here

The Grateful Jar 2017 – What are your Blessings?

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Feeling the effects of cabin fever set in, I made reservations for New Year’s Eve dinner at Pangea, voted one of twelve best new restaurants in the St. Louis area. It was located in an area called “Newtown”.

The bright and contemporary restaurant was bustling with servers dressed in black, scurrying back and forth between table delivering cream-colored plates of aromatic delectables. The hostess seated us behind a half wall, far away from the brisk night air streaming in whenever the entrance door was opened.

The menu was set for the evening – Ricotta Knudi, Filet Mignon and Shrimp, Lemon Elderberry Cheesecake, and Ancho Chile Chocolate Mousse. Dinner and dessert were divine; I was left craving more of that par excellence flavor. My tall glass of sparkling Prosecco was a nice complement to the dinner.

After dinner, we motored homeward. Once inside, we turned on the TV searching for the Dave Clark New Year’s Eve Celebration channel. I suppose the food was too much excitement for me, as I fell asleep shortly after 10 p.m.

Hubby woke me up with a kiss at midnight, singing, “Happy New Year”.

For the last three years, I’ve started the tradition of a Grateful Jar (or a Blessings Jar). During the year, you pen all the things you’re grateful for, and drop the small bits of paper in the jar, to be opened on New Year’s Day, or shortly after.

Today, with the help of my sweet little Ireland kitty supervising, I read through the memories tucked away in the jar.

Here are the awesome people, places, and memories that made 2017 great.

This was posted by my friend Abby. (She must have snuck this into the Grateful Jar while we were on vacation)

“Blessed by the fur babies I kitty sit. Love all 4 of them so very much.” Abby

  • Despite my friend Dave Reed going through cancer treatments, he and his wife Dena prepared a lovely January birthday dinner for me.
  • August 23 – The view of the bees pollinating the purple and white cleomes outside my window. The cornflower blue Morning Glory wistfully twisting around the deck spindles.
  • The artist, Craig Hosner, I met on Santa Rosa who constructed a beautiful American flag in the sand with all-natural materials — seashells, pine cones, and oyster shells.

DSC_0678 Craigs Flag copyr

  • August 21 – The total solar eclipse visible in the Missouri sky over our house. The purple and red violet flares on the corona made me cry, it was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen in my life, almost spiritual in nature. The stillness of the event, the birds singing, the crickets chirping – stunning!Sheree pic eclipse crop VEnus contrast copyr
  • Grateful for good friends to confide in.
  • Writing a story on my friend Janet Jonas, of Gentle Touch Canine Massage, Sunset Beach. Hearing her inspirational story and her love for animals.
  • My story on the Waterfront Seafood Shack being voted 1 of 5 top stories in South and North Brunswick Magazine in 2017 by the readers.
  • Watching my niece and nephews grow taller, smarter and stronger.
  • Thankful for a beautiful dinner and dessert with the hubster for Valentine’s Day.
  • Thankful for a birthday outing with girlfriends Tina, Peggy, Janet and Abby.
  • The Hallmark Channel Christmas movies.
  • The dolphin excursion in Calabash, North Carolina, where I viewed more than 35 dolphins following a shrimp trawler.
  • Great friends and fellowship.
  • Being invited to Burbank in 2018 for a private taping of the Big Bang Theory by a special friend I met on Sunset Beach.
  • My love of cooking and baking.
  • Six fur babies that live with me and the hubster.
  • Ephraim, Wisconsin, and sunsets with the dogs and hubby on the private dock with the Adirondack chairs.

20170831_193551 R B S fishing

  • Unexpected double rainbows on August 20 (the day before the solar eclipse). God sure was working that week.
  • Snow for Christmas!
  • The majestic 100-year-old white-washed barn in the neighbor’s corn field.
  • Spending Christmas eve with my crazy cousins!
  • Enjoying all the wonderful coffeehouses in Nashville with my friend Pat on a girlfriend getaway.

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  • Winning 4 writing awards at the Show Me Writers Conference in April, and a free registration for 2018.
  • Sneaking peaks at the cats and Bordeaux watch birds and wildlife outside the French doors and the storm door.
  • The adrenalin rush leading up to hiking Twin Falls on the road to Hana, Maui. Crossing the raging stream with hubby, thinking we’re going to fall over the drop off. Finally reaching the falls. Hearing the rush of the water, the chilly feeling it left on my skin. Enjoying watching Russell swim behind the waterfall.
  • Santa Rosa Beach sunsets, savory food, yummy coffee, the Red Bar, Eden Gardens, meeting Namon and Rebecca.
  • Walks with the dogs to clear my head near the lake in Heritage Park.
  • A sneak peek at the cover for my picture book with Pat Wahler, Midnight, The One-Eyed Cat.
  • Watching Christine’s hen in Nashville lay 6 eggs in a row!
  • Finding our friend Dave Reed is cancer free, for the second time in his life.
  • Grateful for Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis!
  • Dancing the polka with my cousin, Susie, around the tables at Das Bevo while listening to the Waterloo German Band.
  • Have a publisher request my poetry collection manuscript. (Still patiently waiting for an answer)
  • Being surprised with a sandwich from Jimmy John’s by my husband, delivered right to the front door.
  • Listening to two jazz musician groups this year at Jazz at the Bistro.
  • Touring Leiper’s Fork Distillery and learning how to sniff, swig and chew whiskey.
  • Meeting David Hodges from Evanescence and Alicia Witt, the actress, at the Bluebird Café in Nashville.
  • The weird art exhibit museum event with longtime friend, Tina, where we were told by museum volunteers NOT to take pictures of the pictures!
  • Walking to the Kindred Spirit Bench with Russell, Sandra, and the dogs in October before sunset. The sky was amazing!
  • Little girls named Remy at Sunset Beach in October, and husbands flying kites.
  • Touring the Bissinger Chocolate factory with friend Abby, and wearing hairnets and coats like Lucy and Ethel.
  • Meeting tango dancers Elise and Marco on the beach at Sunset Beach in October in the midst of a pumpkin-hued sky.
  • My love of photography and writing.
  • Sharing my love of travel with my husband.
  • The ability to vacation seven times this year.
  • Grateful for my fur babies and their funny quirks.
  • Grateful I’m able to comfort friends in difficult times.

What where some things you were grateful for in 2017?

 

 

 

When Parents Are Away (in the Bahamas) Animal Children Will Play — Part Three

DSC_2034 umbrellas Nassau copryAs some of you might know, my hubby and I added a new canine child to our family about a month ago.  He’s half Bernese, half Aussie. (see photo)DSC_1697 Bo smaller file

Although we were conflicted about leaving for a travel assignment by AAA in the Bahamas (hard decision), we asked our youth minister Brandon to housesit while we were gone.

Since the arrival of the new dog, our other dog, a mini Aussie has been quite happy and content.  She was quite a gatherer.  We were used to seeing shoes, cat toys, pillows, underwear, among other household items waiting for us after we arrived home from errands.

DSC_1700 Sab and Bo nose to nose smallerThree days into our vacation, we Skyped with our house sitter and he alerted us to the fact one of the dogs must have been frustrated while we were gone.  So much so, they destroyed a bed pillow, and a ‘cuddling’ pillow the three-legged cat likes.  And the TV remote.

dog pillows torn up IMG_4699 dog pillows

I have to admit I laughed so hard, tears flowed freely when he showed us the photos.  I imagine my carefree attitude had something to do with the lovely Caribbean atmosphere of Sandals Resorts.

We called Brandon again on Tuesday, and he told us one of the dogs had destroyed their bed.  It was the big fluffy new ‘pet pad’  we purchased just weeks prior.

Still no worries.

“They’re mad.” I told him.  “Did you walk them twice today?”

Brandon hesitated.  “No.  Just once.”

“Try walking them again this evening.”

“Okay.”

We touched base with Brandon on the way home.  He said they were doing much better.  Upon arrival, Brandon showed us the bags of fluff extracted from the dog beds and pillows.

I told him not to worry about.

I took a couple hours mending what I could, repairing what seemed salvageable.

After a day of chores, hubby and I decided to go grab a Culver’s custard.  As we walked in the house and turned the corner to the living room, this is what we saw.

We’d been gone 45 minutes.

DSC_2224I think I’ll go back to Sandals Resorts.

At least there we can get 8 hours sleep and butler service…

Review of Not Your Mother’s Book on Travel

Travel coverA surprise came in the mail yesterday in the form of a contributor’s copy on Not Your Mother’s Book on Travel.

The book looks super, and is an effort from writers all over the world created by Dahylnn McKowen, Ken McKowen, and Terri Elders.  Dahylnn and Ken have over 60 years writing and publishing experience, with ten of those years spent as consultants and coauthors for four Chicken Soup Series.  Terri has traveled the globe with the Peace Corps.

So excited, I couldn’t wait to dig into the book.  Russell and I motored to the local Starbucks yesterday, I ordered a wet cappuccino, and I opened the pages of the anthology.

Three local authors and I are holding a book signing at the Barnes and Noble Store in St. Peters, Missouri on June 1. Naturally, I was curious to see their final creation, so I skimmed the Table of Contents until I located their specific chapter.

Linda O’Connell’s “Ordering A la Carte” was set on a cruise ship.  Her main character had me laughing out loud. The staff at Starbucks had to turn around to see the commotion I was causing.  My laughter, now infectious, had them laughing, as well.

I shrieked with laughter as I read, Greg Lamping’s “They Only Come Out at Night” about an overnight camping trip and the critters he and his wife encountered.  I’m glad I was wearing a Depends, ‘cause I almost peed myself.

And Sioux Roslawski’s “Half Right” made me smile from ear-to-ear.  While in France, do as the French do.  Nuff said.

I searched for other writer friends in the book…

“My Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow was one woman’s whimsical recreation of a scene from a movie classic.  New York City in the early morning…  I could almost picture myself in Elynne’s shoes.

Another Missouri author, Mary-Lane Kamberg wrote about flying when the swine flu epidemic was in the news.  “When Pigs Fly” is priceless.

And of course, my essay, “No Bad Juju Allowed” is about keeping your sense of humor on a scuba live-aboard during Tropical Storm Jerry.

Terri Elders has stories in the anthology as well. Can’t wait to meet her – she seems pretty cool.  I’ll see her at our book signing.

So go get your copy of “Not Your Mother’s Book… on Travel” by Publishing Syndicate.  You won’t be disappointed.  The authors in the book are rare gems.

Not Your Mother’s Book on Travel – No Bad Juju Allowed

Woohoo!  More good news!

Just received a congratulatory email from Dahlynn McKowen, CEO, Publisher and Creator of Not Your Mother’s Books, Publishing Syndicate LLC.

My essay “No Bad Juju Allowed” about my personal account of Tropical Storm Jerry will be distributed nationwide in the NYMB on Travel due out March 26, 2013.

If you have not read NYMB’s, I urge you to do so.  There are many local writers I know in several of the books distributed in the recent months.

Travel cover

I am unique.

It was recently suggested that I decide on a ‘brand’ for my book of inspirational essays with lyrical introductory photos of which I am seeking representation.  As I pondered this idea, I’m not sure if I came up with a solution.

I am certain of who I am and what makes me unique..

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I love taking long walks on the beach, and searching for shells.  The motion and harmony of the people, nature, and the waves, stir up feelings I can’t explain.

The great rush of water on my neck, arms and legs as I jump giant stride off a diving platform in the deep blue gives me the biggest adrenalin rush.

I cherish all animals big and small – from the tiniest dragonfly in the last stages of life to the ten foot Caribbean reef shark I encountered while diving in the Bahamas with my husband.

There are no bad days at the beach.

Family is important, especially since mom and dad have passed on.  I love my brother and cousins unconditionally, and my Aunt Georgia, the matriarch of our family.  They never cease to amaze me.  I call my husband’s family my own.

I love the feel of a horse’s coarse mane running through my fingers, and their soulful eyes.

Interacting with people and developing relationships is important to me.  My long time friends and I have experienced life together – laughing, crying, analyzing.

I’ve weathered tropical storms. Island people have threatened my deportation.  I’ve endured traveler’s diarrhea.  I’ve picnicked on unsuspecting homeowners lawns.  I’ve been called names by little girls in the Turks and Caicos, and even flown over the Atlantic Ocean in a seaplane during a thunderstorm.  And I wouldn’t trade any of it.

There are no bad days at the beach.

My three-legged cat boy, my butter-eating black cat diva, and my neurotic Aussie Shepherd give me endless pleasure, comfort and laughter.

I enjoy learning about my ancestors – through Uncle Willie’s Farm, or through an online ancestry registry that leads me closer to my father’s heritage in Lithuania.

If I couldn’t travel, I would shrivel up like a prune.

My transportation modes have been many – helicopters, planes, trains, automobiles, golf carts, hobie cats, bogie boards, canoes, kayaks, live aboards, dive boats, cruise ships, and mask, fins and snorkel.  Faraway and familiar places are countless, and the memories are enough to last ten lifetimes.

I believe you can’t write a story without snapping a photo.  Pictures make the best memories.

I love that I married my best friend.

And there are no bad days at the beach.Image