VA Beach Sandsculpting 2018

I was shocked to realize it had been four years since I had been to the sandsculpting championship in Virginia Beach. Directly following my trip to Asheville, I drove to VA Beach! I could not have asked for better weather. It was in the high 70s, no clouds in sight, and no humidity. It was a wonderful beach vacation!

I purposefully picked a hotel right next to the sandsculpting tent.

As much as I enjoy sleeping in, I HAVE to wake up and see the sun rise when I am at the beach. Glad I did.

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Dolphins!

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Please visit the site for more on the sculptors and the results.

“Chiseled” – Male figure struggling to break free from stone slabs but running out of time.DSCN5345

“Time Frame” – Looking back through time, a memory fills your senses. Happiness, joy and laughter, playing near the fences. A lifetime of memories, some stop you on a dime. Shape your heart and soul, a single frame of time.

“Atlantis – City of Love” – I believe that long long time ago a community had love for each other. This community was called: “Atlantis.” We are all different humans but we need to love and respect each other. Because from good things come good things. A good deed is more than one nice word.

“Re-Entrance” – That unexpected moment in time a love of the past steps back into your life. Just at the moment the memories of those days started to fade and dry up like an old painting. The beauty of that person energizes your life once again…

“Church Key” – While Ben Franklin may not have said “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,” he did inspire the sentiment, and Dennis Denuto couldn’t help but approve, for, as he says, “It’s the vibe of the thing, your Honour.”

“Worshippers of Points” – Point: from old French word meaning “dot, point, period (the punctuation mark),” from Latin punctus, past participle of pungere “to prick, to puncture.” The Indo-European root is peug – “to prick.” Related borrowings from Latin include pugilist and pugnacious. When you puncture something, you use a sharp object to make a tiny hole in it. That tiny hole, especially from a distance, looks like a point, but if you zoom in there is a large hold. The HOLE by definition is hollowed place in something solid. A place or position, that needs to be filled, because someone or something is no longer there. But don’t do that, because you will lose point!

“When Loved Ones Become Treasured Memories” – My sculpture depicts a photo of a grandfather and grandmother (who have passed) in a warm embrace. The framed portrait reminds the onlooker of the “treasured memories” of times spent together. The back shows gifts given from them long ago as another reminder of happy childhood memories.

“Beauty Fool” – The Quest of Beauty, we are told/For to reach happiness, we should behold/Era’s fashion and perfection change/Slaves of Looks, we are shamed/Following the Age’s new standards and tools/Forever unsatisfied, we are Beauty Fools

“Flight of Love” – The main thing in life is love.

“Essence” – The final reduction of our memories, our quintessential spirit.

“Bait and Switch” – This example of Bait and Switch illustrates the practice of gaining your interest with something alluring and beautiful, something that ignites warm feelings of fun and fantasy, but in ‘reality’ delivering something that is distasteful and disturbing. The line between fantasy and reality is sometimes very thin and vague, then other times it is as wide as an ocean. This piece of art will hopefully get you to think. Think about what you can do to help save our natural resources by drastically reducing our use of plastics.

“Strange Love” – Sometimes love can be strange and powerful. Even nature gives up when true love comes.

“Lucid Dreams” – A boy finds a way to explore the world by connecting with birds in his dreams.

“What Goes Around Comes Around” – Literally, it means that the status eventually returns to its original value after completing some sort of cycle. In its figurative sense: a person’s actions (whether good or bad) will often have consequences for that person.

“Meditation” – Joy, anger, fear, happiness, sadness. As the clouds run through the blue sky emotions arise in our minds. And as the clouds bring rain and salvation from the scorching heat our emotions have a reaction to the outside world. They help us to understand what we want (as it seems to us). But what do we find if we try to look beyond. Sometimes in order to find something we need to get rid of something.

“Moses” – It was God’s hand and perfect plan to save Moses’ life as an infant. God spoke to Moses and used him to lead his people out of Egypt. We read of the plagues and the Passover, the parting of the Red Sea, Mount Sinai and the journey to the Promise Land. Moses was a foreshadowing of Jesus. Through God’s grace, he sent his son to rescue people from sin and death. The familiar verse John 3:16, is God’s rescue plan. For God so love the world, that he gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. To get a deeper sense of his plan, I encourage you to read the book of John.

“Embrace” – Our heart is wide enough to embrace the world and hands are long enough to encompass the world.

“Emerge” – I am you, I am me…I am everything you see. I am strong and the most powerful thing. You may surely see me sometimes as being rough and cruel but I’m also capable of bringing the sweetest things to your eyes. I am fragile…delicate and elegant. I am made of pure life itself…Life is intimately connected to me, it cannot exist without me. I am Nature. And I am wounded. I need your help quickly for future generations to emerge…

“Colors of Feelings” – “We use colors, but we paint with our feelings. The brush, hand and palette are necessary to draw, but the picture is created not by them.” (Jean-Simeon Chardin)

“Carousel” – “We can’t return. We can only look behind from where we came and go round and round and round and round in the circle game.” — Joni Mitchell 1967 / Our life is composed of circles and cycles. Daily, yearly, a life time. The choices you make throughout your life build the person you are. That accumulation of choices has brought you to this spot, right here, right now, reading these words. Change one choice in your past and you could be living a different life. We can’t see into the future, we can only learn from our past. Your next choice will be the first step into your future. Which path will you choose? Choose wisely. And, oh yes…Enjoy the Ride!

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“150% Organic” – 0% fertilizer

“Blackberry Blossom” – Music is the language of the soul. A simple song can transport you back to a moment in time or conjure feelings that bubble from deep within. A rhythm, a beat, or a tune that tugs at your heart strings can trigger a tidal wave of emotion of lull you softly into tranquil calm. We are frequencies, vibrating through the space time continuum. Our breath and our heart beat looking for another with whom we may harmonize and synchronize. Not only us, but the world around us. We thirst to create music and live out the vibrant humming of life that resonates from our heart and our soul.

The next morning, I had planned on just watching the sun rise from my balcony, but as soon as I saw it was going to be a cloudless sunrise, I quickly brushed my teeth and headed outside.

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Another beautiful beach vacation! I really need to plan one every year. I feel like Superman when he is re-energized by the sun. I get the same feeling by the ocean.

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San Francisco CA – March 2018

I WENT HOME! Well, my short, temporary home anyway. My parents lived east of the city for a couple of years while I was in college and I only spent a couple of Christmases and summers there. It was a short trip, but gotta say, Monterey is in my top three dream retirement cities (after Sedona and Carlsbad).

When I was in college, I took a black and white photography lab class. We had to produce a portfolio by the end of it, and there is SO much in San Francisco to see so I had no lack of inspiration. But that means a lot of my photographs are in black and white. Like…the Golden Gate Bridge, was gray! Needless to say I was super excited to get the opportunity to shoot in color!

We started the trip at the Palace of Fine Arts.

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We accidentally drove over the bridge. I was trying to make it to one of the viewing areas, but the GPS was slow and told me to turn after I had already passed it. No biggie, the bridge is beautiful!

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Next stop was Pier 39.

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View from the hotel room!

View from the hotel bar on the top floor.

Sunset over the City, Bridge, and Pacific Ocean!

This was all from the same sunset!

Sunrise the next morning! The windows were filthy, but I still got to see it.

Turns out I did take a couple of pictures in color.

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Pictures don’t do gooseberries justice, so I had to take a video.

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Can you see the fish in the very middle? An eye and slightly parted mouth…

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I have never seen an active octopus. This one didn’t stop moving long enough to get a good shot!

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After the aquarium, we did the 17-Mile Drive around Pebble Beach.

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The last time we were in Monterey (16 years ago!)…

The hills in the city are SUPER steep!

Fisherman’s Wharf and real sourdough bread!

The last day was spent driving to our old home and seeing how the town had changed.

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I say it all the time, but I HEART California!

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Oh dear, sweet, loving mother of mine. Why are things growing out of my head? Not once, or twice, but several times??

Two years in a row I had a tree (or antlers) growing out of my head at Easter.

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I couldn’t escape the antlers, even during Halloween.

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Or how about the time we were at Disneyland and she found the ONE space in the ENTIRETY of the park to put me in front of…and I have a light pole growing out of head (and little Megan is just waving and smiling, oblivious).

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Last but not least (and Mom’s favorite fail), we were in the mountains (probably Big Bear), and Mom said to little Megan and Dad “go stand over there, that’s a great spot!” Low and behold…in the ENTIRETY of the FOREST, Dad has a tree growing out of his head.

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I love you Mom, but apparently NOT anyonecantakeapicture!

 

Snickers & Twix – 11 years

Eleven years ago, I took on an enormous challenge. Not only did I move out on my own, but I took on two furry fuzz-balls with four paws, endless energy and the sweetest little faces.

I had just moved out of my parent’s house into a loft apartment downtown. I wasn’t making much but I was determined to stay independent and self-reliant and do as much on my own as I could. I had just returned from lunch one day and a co-worker told me to go check out someone’s desk. Without any more explanation, I walked down to their desk and saw an orange ball of fur sitting in their lap. I immediately AWWWWWWWWed and asked who he belonged to. He was up for adoption.

I called the owner and said “I want to take him home today!” She said she wanted to make sure I was serious because he had been to four other homes so far and no one could keep him. I explained I had had cats as pets all of my life (literally…there are pictures of me as a newborn with a cat in my crib because he thought my parents bought the crib for him), and knew how to take care of them. She reluctantly said OK, but said she wanted updates and to be honest and tell her if I couldn’t keep him because she wanted him to go to a good home. That was on a Thursday.

By Sunday, I called the owner and explained to her I now knew why other people couldn’t keep him, he was a TERROR! He was a good salesman though, being all cute and cuddly for the first few hours. This was his very first picture.

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I had gone downstairs to take the trash out and he hopped up on the back of the couch, all by himself, and curled up into the absolute cutest thing of all time! But later that night…oh what a change! He was trying to climb into the fridge every time I opened it, tried to climb on the bookshelf, tried to climb up my leg! What a handful! He was such a little sneaky bugger…one second he would be curled up all cute and sweet, and the next minute he was hanging upside down on the couch! Sneaky turd turned into “Snickers.”

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When I called the owner, she heard in my voice what she had heard in the others’, exasperation. But instead of saying I wanted to return him, I asked if there were any other kittens left in the liter. He was clearly a very social kitten and needed a friend to keep him company. Excitedly, she said YES, there was one left! However, she had already promised him to someone else. But after a breath, she said, “but, they were liter mates and I would much rather them be together.”

We agreed to meet at the PetSmart on Monday after work. This new kitten was the runt of the liter, very timid, shaking even as I drove him home on my lap. He was so tiny in fact, that I called him Pixy on the way home. Pixy was a girly name though and didn’t quite fit him. Don’t ask how, but by the time we got home, Pixy and turned into Twixy, and I reunited Snickers with his buddy “Twix.”

Snickers was SO excited he was jumping on Twix, biting his neck, pawing at his face. Twix was very, very scared. He hid behind the couch for several hours, exhausted. Eventually, he came out and sniffed out his new joint. Snickers did what Snickers did best and showed him all of the fun trouble they could get into, together. And that’s just what they did.

Fast forward ten years and eleven months.

If you are a parent to animals, you know that when they get older, the barf factor increases. I had woken up every morning for a week to vomit in the hallway or living room. I thought it was Snickers and his urinary blockage issues (fiber…a tiny amount of Benefiber in wet food once a day does wonders!). But it turns out it was Twix. I know that because on a Wednesday night, I watched him violently throw up. After that, he jumped up on the couch with me and, without a better way of explaining it, stumbled around like he was drunk. I laughed at first because it was a silly sight to see. He wobbled to his dinner plate that night, gobbled it up as usual.

The next morning was the same, stumbling around, swaying and eventually falling over. I was at home waiting for the termite inspector (when it rains, it pours), so I decided to call the vet. He didn’t have any appointments that day, but could see me first thing Friday morning. I tried to keep Twix calm and still until then.

Head or brain trauma usually appears as a symptom in the eyes or a permanent head tilt but he didn’t appear to show those symptoms. Maybe he fell and hurt himself….my bed is taller than the average bed, so maybe he rolled off (he’s done it before, I’ve seen it), or when he jumped off, he landed on his feet the wrong way. The vet gave him a shot for inflammation and sent us on our way.

He seemed a tad bit better Friday and Saturday, although he was still wobbly. By Sunday, he started tipping the water bowl over. He used to do that as a kitten, he much preferred to lick the water off of the floor than from the bowl. I shook my head that he was just a trouble maker, darn cats!

Still unsteady and shaky, I started to hear him knock into things, like he had no control over his movements any more. By Thursday, he stopped eating. For Twix, my 18 lb. butterball turkey, that is very unusual and I knew something was very wrong.

We went back to the vet Friday morning. I had been doing research online all night about strokes and told the vet I think he might have had one, regardless of the lack of usual symptoms. Of course, when he’s at the vet, he can walk a pretty straight line without falling over (adrenaline maybe?) and his eyes don’t show the signs. Although he doesn’t blink or close them when a really bright light is flashed at them. “Maybe he went blind” the vet claims. There isn’t much to do for an animal that has suffered a brain trauma and the vet says he has never seen a cat recover. “It doesn’t look good.” They give him fluids under the skin to help with dehydration as well as a steroid injection and said if that didn’t help him want to eat, give them a call in the morning and they would fit me in.

He hadn’t been spending time with me since Thursday and I was beginning to think this was the end. He still didn’t want to eat and just wanted to sleep under the bed. Saturday morning came and he still didn’t want to eat.

I have a deck of tarot cards that I consult every once in a while. Normally when I ask a Yes or No question I get a Maybe as an answer. When I asked if it was his time to go, it was a definitive No. As a mother to a furry baby, the last thing I want is for him to be in pain. The vet said he probably couldn’t see, but that he was relatively healthy otherwise and that he wasn’t in pain. With that, I told the vet I wanted to take him home and keep hoping he would get better. The vet agreed, but wanted me to know the odds were not good that he would “get better.” They gave him more fluids, a shot for nausea, and gave me some steroid cream to rub on his ears.

He didn’t retreat to the bedroom right away, so I tried to see if he would eat his favorite treats. He really wanted to eat, he was salivating heavily, but just couldn’t figure out how to get it into his mouth. He would tilt his head too far to the side to effectively eat anything. So when he was tilting his head, I shoved a treat in. With that thought in mind, I had a small syringe from when Snickers had his issues. I mashed up food with enough water to make a broth and squirted it down his throat. He would turn his head and try to get away from me for this to be a permanent solution, but it made me feel better to know I had somewhat of a solution to get food into his system.

Sunday morning, I did the broth squirt several times again, against his will. I had fixed him a plate of wet food, as I always did, even though I had been throwing them away after several hours when he wouldn’t eat. But this morning was a turning point, I knew he had to eat on his own because neither one of us could keep up the hand feeding much longer. I did one more squirt then put the plate in front of his face. After pushing the clumps of food around for a few seconds with his nose, he finally opened his mouth, stuck out his tongue, and started licking the plate!!! I cried out in triumph as quietly as I could so as not to disturb him, then proceeded to sob uncontrollably as he slowly, but eventually, licked his plate clean.

The next couple of days we did the same routine, squirts of broth then the plate, but he still wasn’t drinking water. I tried the same technique and would squirt water down his throat with the syringe, then show him the water bowl. By Wednesday, he was pawing at the syringe and happily letting me squirt it. I would put it closer and closer to the water bowl until it was in it and so was his face. It took several tries, but he eventually stuck out his tongue and drank on his own.

If you have a cat and experience something similar, DO NOT GIVE UP! Do not let the vet tell you there is no hope of recovery. He eats on his own, drinks on his own, and has regained his eye sight back. He jumps up and takes naps on my lap, he even plays with his toys like he used to. Jumping up on the bed is still difficult for him, so I put a chair next to the bed to make it easier. He is still a little wobbly on the couch or bed, but I would say he is 98% back to normal.

If cats do have 9 lives, he used a few during this episode. I took him to the vet three times and two of those times I didn’t think he would be coming home with me. But I’m so glad he did so I could celebrate his, and Snickers’, 11th birthday.

Happy Birthday to my furry, fat, drooling, stinky, cuddly, purr machines!