Delightful Disappointment

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment. ”

― Ansel Adams

Sometimes it is just best to enjoy the moments…when everything seems to be failing…falling apart and nothing seems to be cooperating with your agenda…find some pleasure in what is and let it wash away every drop of frustration…sometimes you may find what you were really needing in the space of time you are in…

Yesterday was like that…the photographic club takes a yearly outing for a Whale Dolphin and Penguin Island Cruise…last year had been my first and I had been new to the club and just relearning the new camera equipment and post processing applications after several decades of being out of the photography business…I felt exhilarated…everything was going to be perfect…well, I girl can hope and if I had come back with even one or two awesome photographs I would have been satisfied…I must not have gotten to 10,000 yet🤣…“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” ~Henri Cartier-Bresson

The weather had predicted rain…but the day was grey…but not raining…everything packed…lens, camera, extra batteries, snacks, water…and off Mr. P (with his binoculars) and I went…we met up with the other camera fanatics at the pier…there were more than the boat could take, and we split into two boats…

Off we went…the men in black leading the pack

The water was incredibly choppy…I had chosen a seat in front of the cabin…most had chosen to seat under the canopy…I wanted to photograph different viewpoints than the average…and then it started…

The front of the boat went up and then it went down, and the salt spray came up over the front of the boat and smacked me…from the top of my head to the seat of my pants…looking like a bedraggled puppy at that point…I wasn’t about to give up my prime spot for a little water…luckily I had used my coat to cover the camera…I would see something that I wanted to take a picture of and the boat went up and down again…as I tried to get my balance…I would slide the other way…back and forth…up and down as we headed for the island…giving up after the numerous time and with no respite in sight…I wrapped the camera up and enjoyed the sea air and roller coaster ride…it became rather exhilarating…not worrying about camera speed, aperture, ISO or composition…I breathed and smiled with the beauty of life…salt…sea…blue of sky and water…the most healing medicine for that frazzled feeling…

The sea was filled with diamonds…for the bride-to-be…the variegated colors of my entire world at that moment were too numerous to name…the white of foam and clouds…aqua…green to dark blue…shades of clearest turquoise reflected in the playful wild splashes of waves hitting the rock and bursting into joyful exuberance…I was beyond contented…

I did not come back with one photograph that I felt was great and none were exceptional…too much distance…too much movement…but sometimes we photographers just need to lay the camera down and breathe in the world and the creative energy that the entire world is filled with…

“Life keeps throwing me stones. And I keep finding the diamonds.” – Ana Claudia Antunes

LIFE IS FULL OF MAGICAL DIAMOND MOMENTS….hope your life today is full of them

With Life, love, lots of laughter and magic💖…Renée

We Rise…by Lifting Others

The same blood runs through every vein on earth…and no matter what our skin color…beliefs…customs…when we are cut…we all bled the same…Red

Beauty can be found in everything, and I choose to see and remind myself and the world that there is love and hope despite the ugliness that is so prevalent throughout our world…and unfortunately through history…yet sometimes the abundant odiousness of misery rises and slaps me in the face…reminding me of my blessings and the suffering of most of the humanity on this blue orb of life…

I am abundantly and richly blessed…I am not affluent nor do I have a MAGIC money tree growing in the back yard to pull cash off at any whim…no hidden stash under the mattress…but I do have enough to eat…a warm bed and a home…and people who love and care for me…

Growing up I was the oldest of six in a small country town in the backwoods of Wisconsin…my father failed as a farmer and working at a sawmill was seasonal and not profitable enough to adequately feed his family…we did not live on the street and my mother worked miracles by feeding us cow tongue and dandelion greens😂…a chicken thigh or drumstick on a Sunday was a savored delicacy to eye, nose and belly…

Although it is not the abject poverty that I encounter daily here or that I encountered in Columbia…there is an incredible deep-felt sense of empathy for what poverty does to a human… my heart hurts with the knowledge that with the empty stomachs resides the persisting enveloping darkness of loneliness, despair, and hopelessness…

The poor are the unseen…unwanted, unloved, and uncared for…

“There is something about poverty that smells like death. Dead dreams dropping off the heart like leaves in a dry season and rotting around the feet; impulses smothered too long in the fetid air of underground caves. The soul lives in sickly air. People can be slave ships in shoes.”

~ Zora Neale Hurston

“The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

Carl Sagan

I could write a million words and that would not be sufficient to create a complete picture and even the photographs can only provide a glance…a snippet in time of the life of those that are less fortunate…we have issues of poverty in the United States…there are no simple solutions…but we are one and we can feed one…

Mr. P & I see the overwhelming need every day that we navigate the city…there are the car guards in every parking area (Car guarding is a distinctly South African informal sector employment activity. A car guard offers to guard vehicles in a public or private parking area for a donation. Car guarding enables an unemployed person to earn some income) …beggars…young and old…black and white…others at every stop light selling what they can beside the road… whether a bag of oranges, a homemade product whatever they can…knocking on your window to try and persuade you to trade a few rand for their merchandise…those who wave their paintbrushes for day labor…

A loaf of bread and a package of hot dogs is R40 (40 Rand = $2.60 Dollars) …I know that everyone has their hand out for your contribution…and so many have their own life needs…but I felt that I could ask if anyone wanted to give a small donation to help me to give to those that cross our paths…keeping nothing for myself…but to provide a meal or a coin donation for those who are in need…what do you think?

In the Darkness…we are the Light

Much love, magic for your day and laughter (even if on some days it’s through the lump in your throat and the tears in your eyes) .

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Amakhala…Game Drive

Another Day Another Sunrise

With over 240 different birds in Amakhala…no sounds of morning traffic…I woke to lovely songs of the birds…Mr. P grabbed his binoculars to tell me the names since he the avid birder…I just enjoyed the melodious sounds…opening the tent to sunrise light and grabbing a cup of coffee…I crawled back between the warm covers and just luxuriated between the sheets…no rush to get anywhere…time just delightfully relishing the morning until the grumbling stomachs forced us from our indulgent pleasures…

September is still a little cooler and I debated whether to shower in the “great outdoors”…thinking I might have to contend with something besides Mr. P and the chilly morning…picturing Norman’s trunk coming over the top…closing my eyes and I could imagine being in the middle of the jungle under a waterfall…only with warm water…I do think Tarzan would approve…definitely a repeatable pleasure-loving experience…

A short jaunt to the dining room…friendly morning greeting and smiles…no skimpy buffet…an eye pleasing array of cereals…fruit…cheeses…jams and all the accompanying accouterments…the fresh air is a great for the development of monstrous appetites…so we dug in…several times…breakfast was leisurely…the butler then handed us a menu for a “hot” breakfast…we had no idea that we had that option…vacation and over indulgence are a synonyms…do I need say more…

After breakfast we sat on the veranda outside of the lodge and watched the antics of the Nyala and Impala as they grazed the grounds…and Big Daddy trying to keep his harem in line…

Grazing Female Impalas

As a photographer…I couldn’t sit still for long…after running breakfast off…lunch was served before our game drive…there are not enough superlatives to use…

The mist was nippy and enveloped us with a cool hand…provided with warm ponchos and rain gear…it didn’t stop us…hopping up on the land rover…we were off with one of the most knowledgeable guide that I have come across with…

Game Drive View

Our guide would stop and show us indigenous plants that were used for natural medicine…such as a plant that if you pricked your skin…it would go numb…used for toothaches…species that were used for colic and almost anything that ailed a person…you forget what people did before there was a doctor a phone call away…we made a special stop so he could show us this particular spider that he watched spin and weave…never a question that he didn’t answer with pleasure…and I’m sure he heard them all a thousand times…

Surreal & Beautiful…it was like living inside a movie scene..

Every moment was full of amazement…but if I had to choose one favorite scene it would be the magnificent lion brothers…it was misting..yet there they were sleeping as though they had not a worry in the world…mist on their manes…sparkling like they were sprinkled with diamond magic…we turned the engines off and just watched them…

They are brothers and appeared almost human in the way they behaved together…I could just image the older one thinking…”sheesh, such a clown”…and then the younger rolling over and putting his paws on his brother…”but I just Looove you, bro”…

Giraffes are fairytale animals…beautiful faces with big eyes…I have this fascination with them…maybe because it was the first animal that I saw in the wild when I arrived here in South Africa…there is something so regal about them…

“A giraffe is so much a lady that one refrains from thinking of her legs, but remembers her as floating over the plains in long garb, draperies of morning mist her mirage.”

– Isak Dinesen

I am at a lost to describe the thousands of Mother Nature’s miracles that we saw that day…I do hope that you enjoyed the game drive too…❤

There is something of the marvelous in all things of nature.  

~Aristotle

~Sent with Love, laughter and magic

Amakhala…Nature in all it’s Glory

“The beauty of Africa is not man made, it is natures gift to humanity.”
― Paul Oxton

When life becomes hectic and emotional turmoil…the panic…agitation…and confusion surrounds the soul…John Burroughs said it best…”I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”

Amakhala is such a peaceful balm…nature’s delightfully restful and calming potion

Situated only about an hour (84 km) from home…a luxurious Safari Lodge is hidden in a valley of native bush…Amakhala is home to 5 of the 9 plant biomes here… the most common biome is the Albany Thicket, which is made up of dense shrubs, herbaceous plants and succulent trees…

Mixtures of Rich and Subtle hues being brushed against the canvas of the evening sky

This is a “Certificate of Excellence” award winning four star safari lodge…beginning in 1999 as a joint conservation venture between 6 families that were direct descendants of families that settled in the area in the 19th century to farm sheep and cattle…little by little the land was rehabilitated and animals that had freely roamed the area were reintroduced

One of the unfortunate consequences of Pandemic has been the loss of bookings in the tourism industry…with an unbeatable package deal we were able to book a 2 night, 3 day Safari package…a new mind boggling event in my life living here in South Africa…

I felt like I had been dropped into a magical wonderland…better than any “rabbit hole” I had gone down before…the colors of this world…the natural smells of earth and nature…the exquisite culinary tastes…the feeling of peace and calmness that can only be found in the wild…

Greeted by the most warm and amicable staff…we were immediately made to feel right at home…Norman being the most surprisingly unexpected of our welcoming committee…

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals… In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.

~Henry Beston

Norman is the wrinkly grumpy old man bachelor that freely roams the park…after luggage drop off and stretching legs…we had almost gotten to the parking area and out of the bush comes one of the largest elephant that I have encountered…and I have never seen Mr. P. reverse so quickly…Norman just slowly ambled down to us…taking his sweet time to come and investigate who the new interlopers were…

Like a crotchety old geezer…didn’t care that his lunch crumbs were still stuck on his truck…he continued to snack while he contemplated whether we should be allowed to stay…finally deciding that we were harmless…he slowly sauntered off in search of more twigs and leaves to fill the never ending elephant pit of a stomach…an elephant’s life…eat…sleep…and poop…eating about 16 hours out of the day…sleep 4 to 6 hours and producing lots and lots of manure…200 to 250 pounds per day… oh, and produce enough methane gas – LOTS AND LOTS OF GAS😂…Properly equipped, a car could travel 20 miles on the amount of methane produced by one elephant in a single day https://elephantconservation.org/elephants/just-for-kids

Quotes about Elephants (182 quotes)

I just adored the time worn gnarled and tuskless Norman…he made the entire stay specially entertaining and we missed him when he left to wander far from the camp…

A refreshing chilled glass of lemonade while checking in and then we were escorted down a path winding through native brush…escorted to our tranquil suite…tented and thatched…the perfect combination for me…I think it was what I’ve heard described as “Glamping”…the experience of the “Great Out Doors” with the essentials of mattress, indoor toilet and running water…this was the epitome of elegance and good taste…wrapped with the wonderous sight, smell and energy of nature in all of her abundant splendor…

After a deliciously scrumptious dinner…warmed by the fire and conversation with new friends….we were escorted back to our hideaway…with all the fresh air and excitement we fell into an exhausted sleep….dreaming of all the wonders that the next day might hold…

“A well spent day brings happy sleep.” — Leonardo da Vinci

Focus your intention on your dreams, you can wave magic when you set your heart and mind to it – Author: Miranda Kerr

Looking for the Future…

“The fog of illusion, the fog of confusion is hanging all over the world.”
– Van Morrison.

Lost in the misty fog of life…that’s how I feel most of the time…unsure of where to head next…how to proceed forward into a place that I’ve never been before…I wish we were handed maps when we were born that would lead us directly to the path toward the purpose we were sent to fulfill…

I probably still would have tossed the map out the window…I have never liked being told what to do and imagine all the excitement that I would have missed…

“Sometimes when you lose your way in the fog, you end up in a beautiful place! Don’t be afraid of getting lost!” ~Mehmet Murat Ildan

Often when we feel lost…the mind and heart are not working in harmony…it does not mean that we’re doomed to wonder around in the cold misty gloom that blankets us…for often it is just a knocking at our heart… a call toward something better…if we were contented with the status quo…there would be no impetus to search for the warmth and light we yearn for…satisfaction of the soul…

It is good to feel lost…because it proves you have a navigational sense of where Home is. You know that a place feels like being found exists. And maybe your current location isn’t that place but, Hallelujah, that unsettled, uneasy feeling of lost-ness just brought you closer to it.”

~Erika Harris

Venturing into that grey unknown frontier is intimidating and downright scary…that cold tight knot in the pit of your stomach that never seems to go away…it’s really just butterflies waiting to be released to fly…leading you to an enchanting place of freedom and possibility…

It really is OK

I promise…we all feel alone and lost at times…everybody…no matter how bleak the road appears you won’t feel that way forever…but how we travel through is important and can make the arrival time of our destination appear on the horizon more expeditiously…

“I give you this warning: your journeys will rarely go as you plan. You will make mistakes, and you will feel lost. Whenever that happens, look to the light and keep moving forward in faith.” ~Seth Adams Smith

I am not a doctor or a psychiatrist…and I don’t have a magical quick fix (my wand ran out of fuel and is in the shop)…but I humbly offer what works for me…

Sit with the feeling...The first step for me is just to sit with any turbulent and nightmarish emotions…just watching while they swirl and dance their crazy black tendrils…and not becoming overly attached or overanalyzing (which I do a lot)…knowing it will be ‘ok’…although it may take awhile…”Sitting with our emotions simply means allowing them, resisting the urge to get rid of the pain and not judging ourselves for having these emotions”…it is a lot more difficult than ignoring and/or dismissing them…it’s painful…often the first thing we do is to try and numb those feelings by a glass of wine or three…food…work or anything else to soothe the discomfort…the key is to ‘avoid’ those distractions…distractions that often just adds to our exhaustion…

Stay in the Present...it will help you get your bearings…figure out where you’re at… you have lost your compass…that vision of your life and the future..at the moment…wandering around aimlessly can be very dangerous…it’s a survival necessity to pause…like getting lost on a trail in the middle of the forest when the sun has descended…Stop, throw on an extra layer, relax, have a brew, and then pull out the map…often a sleep and a new day will bring new light…

Healthy Habits…Eating…this is critical for me...I crave carbs when I am stressed…it is a natural serotonin booster…and makes me feel better (for a little while until I crash…then crappy)…Exercising…A good cardio workout…Yoga is significant in unlocking of stuck energy for me…Meditation…doesn’t have to be traditional…just sitting in quiet…focusing on your breathe…reciting affirmations or scriptures….whatever makes you feel positive

Change Your Environment...Taking a walk in the fresh air and just concentrating on what’s around me changes my perspective…grounding or realigning your electrical energy by reconnecting yourself you to the earth…walking barefoot…lying on the ground… even swimming or wading in a lake or stream…sounds very woo-woo…I love this and is extremely calming…one central theory from one review study Trusted Source is that grounding affects the living matrix, which is the central connector between living cells…before you just throw the idea out…it wouldn’t hurt to try it…..

Take Action...Read…Listen to Podcasts or whatever presents itself in your search for self development and understanding…Seek and the teacher will come…Journal a lot…writing helps me to put all the jumble on paper and often I can sort through the threads that need to be thrown away and those I need to continue to follow… Deliberately be grateful…even if it’s just for your gift of that moments breath…

Go out and do things that make your life feel full of purpose and meaning. Identify what it is that you love doing (Not your mother, sister, husband or friend…especially society and social media), what brings you joy and get out and do more of it. Remember, nothing changes if nothing changes…do things to create meaning and purpose…

And never ever be afraid about Asking for Help…Friends…coaches…doctors…you are a valuable part of this world…very important to those around you..so many people care and would love to support you…they’ve been there…

“Light is coming to give back everything the darkness stole” @Naijamisfit

Love💓, laughter🤣 and magic🦄 for your day…

Is Art A Spiritual Practice…

What do you get when you shake and stir the emotions of feeling selfish, silly and way too old…a painful anxiety of unmasking my soul to critics…fearful that if I expose that creative dream to the light…”poof” like dandelion fuzz it would disintegrate again…worrying that it is an egotistical pursuit…sprinkle that with the musing with that following my joy might divert me from my mission in this life…hmmm…crazy exhausted with the overwhelming smell of burning rubber in the background…(which comes from stepping on the brakes and gas at the same time)…

Every artist dips his brush in his soul and paints his own nature into pictures.  

Henry Ward Beecher

My lifelong personal mission statement has always been to be a conduit of God’s love to this world…and it feels less than noble to be so excited about sharing my photographs and words…receiving wonderful support from those who view my work…isn’t the spiritual life meant to be hard and painful…

Wrestling with the dilemma has been a hellacious struggle…the creative dream and growth in writing and photography fills my life with happiness and joy…so I prayed…begged for guidance…as always, when it’s time…the teacher will come…not in my desired timing…of course…but when I was ready…it did…

Two books…one that I held for a while…but never read…The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and a lesser known book called The Soul of Art by Alfred J. Garrotto…both very supportive of the idea that creativity and spirituality are intrinsically linked…

The heart of creativity is an experience of the mystical union; the heart of the mystical union is an experience of creativity…” The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron

Last week I entered 8 photos into the PSSA(the Photographic Society of South Africa)…it was my first time for National entries…and only the second time for entering my photographs…I was fortunate to be able to enter free of charge because I am a newbie here…a level 1…but then everyone has to start somewhere…these are the ones that I submitted..my first entries were given gold and even better a certificate of merit…so now the question definitely needed answering…

Each photograph was taken with love and appreciation…some with exquisite joy in the beauty…some with pain…to be reminded of the poverty of the world…physically, emotionally, and morally…

It is said that, before being born, each soul is kissed by God. Then it goes through life always, in some dark way, remembering that kiss. The soul measures every experience in relation to that original sweetness . . . . To be in touch with your heart is to be in touch with this primordial kiss, both its preciousness and its meaning.

The Restless Heart Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

“As an artist, we are channels of the divine, fingers pointing heaven-ward. We are not the source of our gifts. We are individual points of light among the billions of stars that Creator-Spirit has splashed across multiple universes.”

Artistic imagination fills that void, showering us and our planet with wonder and hope. Artists’ message to our audiences is, “There’s more” . . . more than what we see and feel, more than the sum of our daily anxieties and fears. The Soul of Art, By Alfred J. Garrotto

I have done nothing to deserve these gifts and I am not worthy…any talent that I may have is unearned and unmerited…truly a gift of grace…to an imperfect human from a perfect God…to honor the gifts that I have been given, I still must do my part to cultivate and use them to make the world better…to share with an open and joyful heart…not as an egotistical pursuit or for personal accolades…it can easy to do…

All of us in the arts need to hone our craft through dedicated study, rehearsal, repetition, practice—even when we don’t feel like doing it and especially when we think we’ve maxed out our potential. How can any of us know that we do not have one more, or multiple, works within us that may exceed anything we have yet produced?  Am I too old to keep going? Too sick? Or just too wearied by past failures?

https://www.scribd.com/read/336109402/The-Soul-of-Art#

Perfecting the crafts of writing and photography will be a delightful lifelong challenge…I must put in the work that the gift requires to be more effective in touching lives…not allowing self-doubt and the fear of failure and criticism to bury my gift that may be used to return beauty, joy or inspiration…to lift humanity from its daily muck and mire of routine…causing someone to stop and breathe…if only for a moment…

May my heart always be filled with compassion to share a journey of hope and vision in a world of hopelessness and seen in all it’s ugliness…may I be given the virtue of humility realizing where my gifts come from to make the world a better place to live, joyfully sharing my gift with an open heart…for I have done nothing to deserve any gift that I have been given

I am only the “pointer” to the one that is the originator and creator of gifts…I am only the steward…a guidepost…so to speak…along this journey of life to the compassionate presence of a loving God..

I am only a conduit of God’s peace and love…allowing God’s love to flow through me...my service to others is my artists’ purpose…may my gifts to the world be wings that lift those that experience my words or images to be lifted out of the routines of the day to day and remind them that there is more…to discover within themselves their magic…their passion and joy…their own art and what is best within themselves…

Artists channel Creator-Spirit’s beauty, compassion, and love. Our mission and call is to bring some-thing into being where before there was no-thing.  Our ultimate gift is that, like Creator-Spirit, we do not hoard our transcendent experience and its fruits. Art is our “voice.” We cannot, we must not, remain silent. If we engage in the arts merely for our own gratification, we risk forfeiting our claim to be artists. Recall that art, like love, requires that it be given away. ~Alfred J. Garrotto

Any talent that I have is God’s gift to me, and my gift to Him is what I do with it…

I am a humble artist molding my earthly clod, adding my labor to nature’s, simply assisting God. Not that my labor is needed, yet somehow I understand, my Maker has deemed it that I too should have unmolded clay in my hand.  

Piet Hein

Dedicated to the love of my life Mr. P…who pushed me to fly and is the “wind beneath my wings” every day…and the support and encouragement of all my friends and family💓...I could not walk this path without them

Sent with prayers for Love, laughter and magic in your day

Umbulo the Dung Beetle Extordinaire…Part II

Lately the world seems like a heaping pile of poo with the ongoing Covid pandemic, riots, insurrections, political infighting and unrest, the climate crisis, unrelenting conflict and…and on and on and on…we often become numb to the magic that is at our finger tips…yet there is still wonder and amazement to be found in a every day moment…mysteries to marvel at…gifts that God hands to us in our human existence for us to open…

“traveling on the edge of a vast, floating whirlpool of stars”, alive and conscious, walking and talking on a big rock circling a bigger burning ball of gas…nearly fourteen billion years after the cosmos bubbled into being”

(Rick Hanson, Ph.D.)

In honor to the small gifts of life, and Mr. P’s request…here is the “rest of the story”…

A outstanding planetary citizen preforming a vital function…heads down…bottom ups

Umbolo climbs to the opening of his burrow squinting in the early morning spring sun…It’s October and winter has decided to bid adieu for the season…catching the “bok-bok-mak-kik” of the shy and skulking large yellow Bokmakierie with his black collar…off somewhere pecking for his breakfast of insects, small lizards, snakes, small birds and frogs….uggggg….gross and nauseating to Umbolo….shrugging…but to each his own…

Precious green thickets of spekboom with its small, star-shaped dusty pink buds doing its job of helping the environment by sponging up the carbon dioxide…and surreptitiously providing an ingredient to his own nutritious meals served by the elephants…the Acacia thorns with its conspicuous paired white long thorns 10-25 cm (4″ -10″) that would soon to a mass of sweetly-scented golden-yellow puff balls…

The karoo was definitely in nursery mode…and romance was in the air💕… Spring was here!!!!

Grumbling…his stomach reminds him that the first order of the day is nutrition…there is always such fierce competition between all his friends, relatives and competitors at the self-service take out…sometimes hundreds congregating…❓don’t know why❓…after all one elephant shares up to 150kg (330 lbs.) of poo every day…and with 600+ elephants…well, you do the math…that’s a lot of food…but like all buffets…the best parts are dried up or gone quickly if you arrive too late…

Raising his antenna with its incredible sensitive sense of smell….awww there it is…the delicious smell of fresh gourmet poo…after all he was a very fussy eater…he needed and craved the tiniest particles of the protein-rich nitrogen source needed to keep his muscles strong💪…clicking it up a notch for fast mode to the elephant provided buffet…he’s off…🏁

Yes, Umbolo arrived early enough…food still warm and fresh…but no time to slow down…he was at risk of being assaulted by Isela or one of his gang of thieves…they were relentless…although Umbolo was quite a strong defender of his poo balls…he had lost his prize several times before…..and had been relieved of his precious haul…he had to head off again to find a new fresh source of his edibles and gifts for a potential girlfriend…and just maybe a “baby” nest💞…hopefully not this time…

All hail the underdog!

Umbolo’s long, thin, outwardly bowed hind legs were well suited for running and wrapping around the accumulation of the poo…clinging to the ball as he was forming it…he was able to maneuver a ball 50x his weight…Hercules of the dung beetles..

“Like a bag of money dropped in the street, “everyone would grab as much as they could, get it somewhere safe, and then come back for more.”

Max Barclay

Umbolo quickly gripped the ground with his mid and hind legs and cut into the warm buffet with his front legs. He began then patting bits of food on his new ball with the rakelike extensions on his front legs…definitely not a day for creating the most magnificent of balls today…too much competition…pushing against the buffet table with his head, Umbolo separated his takeaway…and started rolling…quickly…before it was stolen by his rivals…

Beating a hasty retreat…in the most expeditious and efficient way possible…in the most direct route…a straight line…head down…butt up…propelling his meal with his hind legs, he moves backwards with his head pointed to the ground…Off to the races…navigating away from the fray…

No GPS or Google Maps needed here…not confused where to go at all…he has celestial powers too…an internal celestial compass for orientation and skylight cues…he stops, climbing on top of his booty and rotated around to orient himself…detecting the symmetrical patterns of polarized light…climbing back down and pushing his treasure again…the reference point of the sun giving him the way to beat a hasty retreat home…

He had made it to safety away from the scrimmage safely this time…digging in the soft soil under his precious ball…he pushed the dirt up around it until it sank into the ground…no need to bury it too deep…the nursery ball would definitely need to be buried deeper….he was in a hurry…his hormones were kicking in and the girls were waiting…

Uswiti was so incredibly frustrated…MEN…they were all alike…the handsome beetle Indoda had duped her that very morning…enticing her with his strong masculine essence…she had fallen for it and followed him into his burrow…the thrill was short lived…nothing to see there…no brood ball in sight…a lazy one… must be part of the gang run by Isela…feeling a little full of himself, he tried a little funny business…the full wrath of Uswiti ensued…kung foo expert…she left him in in the most most vulnerable position…upside down on the floor of his burrow…

She was not giving up…she had spent a lot of time rounding out her curves…getting ready to find a nice man and have a family…after all, that’s all this girl really wanted..in the meantime…curves to be maintained…off to find lunch…

She had wasted a good part of the morning with the scamp…lunch was going to be a quick pick up and go…being around noon now…packed up with all the nutrition needed…she was quickly out of the rowdy crowd…the sun being at its zenith…it was unreliable to discern East from West…no time to wait for afternoon sun guidance…she toggled on her internal wind compass and off she went…headed toward home…to dine in peace…

The late morning fiasco had caused an additional complication… hot…hot…hot…the unrelenting sun searing the surface of the ground…at this time of the day, even the trees were seeking shade…the waves of the afternoon heat were blistering the soles of her feet…she felt herself starting to overheat…a few minutes reprieve…Uswiti climbed on top of her food packet to cool her feet…

Times like this made her extremely jealous of her relatives…the Scarabaeus satyrus family…they took to the air (no walking for them) at dusk…working in the cool of the evening…no need to contend with the heat of the African sun to find the straightest way home…out and about at night…navigating and orienting themselves using the beautiful stars of the Milky way…picking up the polarized light they used this as a map to keep themselves on course…oh, well…that was not her lot in life…back to hot-footing it…

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

Oscar Wilde

Umbolo’s breathing was getting a quicker and his heart was beating just a little faster…his anxiety level had increased with each beat of his heart…the gift of a brood ball was all of completed…the lovely romantic gift was unwrapped so it could be seen and all his work fully appreciated…would he be accepted today…

Well, here goes…another headstand…supporting his body with his head and four front legs…he rubbed his belly with the brush on his back legs…first one leg and then the other…back and forth…his enticing manly essence was released with a puff of fine white powder…the pungent order that hopefully enticed the ladies…he had a juicy prize to give…

Uswiti felt herself being enticed toward another tempting manly smell…maybe this one would be a more suitable partner…and she headed off to check it out…one never knows…she spotted Umbolo’s beautiful brood ball…such a homey and roomy nursery…she came a little closer and Umbolo relinquished his headstand and raised his forelegs in greeting…his dream come true…advancing on Uswiti he extends his antennae…would she accept him…

Dung beetles prefer human faeces to those of wild animals | The Economist

Hesitantly…Uswati lowers her front legs…Yes!!!!!!…letting him know that she thinks he’s a mighty fine dung beetle with his exquisite offering…she climbs a top his gift and clings to the ball as Umbolo starts to roll the ball away as quickly as he can…now he needs to get her home before Isela or one of his thieves tries to steal both his woman and his brood ball again…

No, such luck…there he comes…thinking he’s the cat’s meow…not this time…Umbolo knew Isela would be relentless…determined to roll off his prize…being bulky had it’s disadvantages…and ground warfare was the only option with no wings…his strength in the battle was his strength and this was a matter of survival…he had experience in all the techniques to viciously fight for his claimed prize…

Umbolo is on the top, now he’s on the ground…now Isela is on the top…Umbolo comes back…not giving up and much like a wrestler flings that would-be thief right off…it’s a big fight…each trying to throw the other off…one more time…Umbolo throws Isela off…Isela is temporarily helpless upside down…deciding that this time perhaps it might be easier to find a less determined target…

Victorious…Umbolo starts off again with Uswiti until they come to an acceptable location for the nursery…Umbolo crawls underneath the ball and starts removing the soil underneath while Uswiti clings to the top…gradually the ball sinks lower and lower into the ground until the nursery is hidden from view…and Uswati lays one egg inside of the soft ball and the ball hardens making a protective layer for the baby…the inside is softer and provides all the food that their babies will need to grow and thrive..

The next generation will emerge from the soil after the first summer rain when the temperatures are warm enough and the soil is moist enough to break free…Umbolo prevailed and future generations of exemplary planetary citizens…he is truly a Dung Beetle Extraordinaire…

***Although this is a work of fiction, I tried to stick as close to the facts as possible. The information as to the behavior of dung beetles was taken from scientific articles mentioned below…

Evan Nicole Brown ‘When the Sun is High, Dung Beetles Navigate with the Wind’ Atlas Obscura

Matt McGrath “Dancing dung beetles navigate with ‘sky snapshot” BBC News

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/beetles-fight-over-dung-ball

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-humble-dung-beetle-180967781/

The View at the Top

As a writer, I often muse about what I have learned in my life and would want to leave that if people heard with their heart would make a difference to their lives…it would be…

NEVER, NEVER, EVER GIVE UP…ON YOUR GOALS, DREAMS, VISIONS AND ESPECIALLY YOURSELF..❣

No matter how many times you failed, no matter how dire the circumstances seem…or how long the fight…how much you feel like quitting

No matter how tired…rest awhile and get back up…just get back up

I have read so many articles and books…listened to every available video and program that I could get my hands on after my dissolution of an 18 year marriage in my mid-30’s…I had to walk away with nothing to my name…I had no means to keep my children…one child that really needed my help…the other opting to stay with his father because I did not have the money to give him the things his father promised to give to him…living in a car…and on and on…the knock downs and knock outs kept coming..

In the years in between…everything I tried to accomplish failed…the dreams I held in my heart and would not leave me alone…all shattered…there were successes…but there always seemed to be more failures and falling short of the cherished desires that I held unto tightly…wrapped in dirty discarded disappointments…

But I couldn’t give up…there was always a spark hidden underneath all the ashes of my life…I would read something that came my way…and the dying ember was fanned into a small fire and the rekindling of hope keep me hanging on through the years…

Recently I woke up on a quiet morning and realized that many of my dreams/wishes had manifested…I had been given the gifts that I had asked for on my “Christmas” list…not in all the exact physical detail that I thought I wanted…but definitely the “feeling” that I wanted in my life…

After my divorce, I made a list of the attributes of a partner that I felt would be a “soul mate”…someone that would be a yin to my yang…I spent years…literally😣 on dating sites searching for the “one”…there are definitely plenty of fish in the pond…over the years I went through over a thousand profiles…hundreds of online conversations…a few I thought might be compatible…but no one fit…and I felt I was too old and maybe just a friendship would be satisfying…

Then one day in 2018..26 years later…I received a pen pal request from a man halfway across the world in South Africa…a nice gentleman who offered to help me turn my profile photo right side up…we shared a love for photography, traveling and the same spiritual beliefs…he was intelligent, well read, gentle and kind…although an engineer is about as opposite to a creative personality…but yet the same…enjoyed music and art…he had even taken dance classes…

We wrote, and messaged daily for months…it was easy being open and free to express myself to someone that I shared so much with and was thousand’s of miles away…and would probably never meet in person…he was easy and gentle…very accepting and I felt that I could be supportive with some experiences that he was dealing with at the time…I had been there and done that…

There was no way that I could ever have come up with the way that this part of my life unfolded…a definite surprise package…now living in beautiful South Africa with a man that has made my life so incredibly magical every day…

Although life hasn’t all been wine & roses…especially when his cancer diagnosis was said out loud…just a little over a year after I arrived…9 months later after surgery and heart rending chemo side effects…we reached the other side…Mr. P rang the bell after his last chemo treatment was a few weeks ago and he has been given wonderful news that his stats are normal…full of gratitude and would not change one second…

I had several businesses that I had to abandon or didn’t get off the ground for one reason or another…one wish I have always had was to be able to leave a business for my children…a few days ago one of my children asked about helping with a business idea…how awesome is that…

I wanted to travel…see the world…and now our plans include Turkey and France…🤞 this year

I had lost a photography business when my divorce occurred…now I have photographed some of the most exquisite beauty in nature…

I carried a story around with me or some years and now I am writing a fantasy novel…which may take me awhile, but is so much fun…

I do think that maybe there are things I could have done to expedite the expression of my desires…I think there were times I was stepping on the brakes at the same time I was stepping on the gas…but I believe a large part is that is that I just wasn’t at the place I needed to be to or it wasn’t the right time…

And there are still things in my life that are waiting to be realized…but you have to ask and believe…trust and hope…God said, “Ask and ye shall receive”…He will give you the desires of your heart as you wait and trust in Him…and believe me, there will be things that you don’t receive that later on you will be glad that you didn’t get…

Never ever give up and enjoy the journey and if you are in a place where that seems impossible…sit with gratitude in nature…keep the flame burning in your heart…if all these things have been “gifted” to me…a simple girl born in the cold snowy winter of a small farming town with one stop sign…then it will happen for you…

With much love and magic for your day…

Renée🦋

Fermented Fruit of the Ancient “Elephant Tree”…

There is a phrase…”curiosity killed the cat…but satisfaction brought him back”…and that is how we got in wonderful trouble…

…After reading about how the animals so enjoyed the fruit…my curiosity about this aromatic, juicy plum-sized fruit rapidly grew…so I had to ask Mr. P if he had tasted the fruit…he HAD tasted the exquisite Amarula cream Liqueur… and of course I just had to give it a try…

Anything that has withstood the test of thousands of years…it must be exceptional…yes, believe it or not archaeological evidence shows the marula tree was a source of nutrition as long as ago as 10,000 years B.C….

It is a botanical treasure…nearly every part of the tree can be used in one way or another…from the bark which can be chewed for stomach issues…the nuts can roasted and are considered to be a delicacy…the leaves used as a spice…and then there is the fruit…raw, cooked, made into jam, a home-made beer called Buganu, in Mozambique the fermented marula fruit is used to produce a wine called Ucanhe…and of course Amarula Cream…

This magical tree is also dioecious trees….what in the world does “dioecios” mean…it means that the tree has a specific sex…and of course, it is the female ones that bear flowers and fruit…the males only “look pretty” by blooming…

I tried it and it is extraordinarily delicious…and Mr. P said it gave him psychedelic dreams…and as I said in the beginning…”satisfaction brought him back”…it is now in our stash of alcohol…just in case we forget why the elephants (and all the rest of the African animals) love it so much…

https://youtu.be/hBzqy5a–WE

*Beautiful Feature Image by Jabulani-Keith-Ladzinski