The Elizabethan Gardens: Wonderful Wednesday 6

Back in June when I went on my beach retreat, we stopped off at some beautiful gardens. Since getting more into photography, I thought this would be great to do a photo tour of one of my favorite gardens and places to visit in North Carolina.

The Elizabethan Gardens are in the town of Manteo, the last town before you really reach the Outer Banks.

Click on the photos to activate the slideshow and read each description for why I took that shot and where it was.

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This week’s theme, of course, are¬†gardens.

I hope you get a chance to link up.

I am taking several classes for the next three weeks. I will respond to comments later in the week when I have access to my home computer, if not before. Have fun and join the Wonderful Wednesday hop!


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Ten Things of Thankful

I’m making myself do this post: it’s actually been a trying week. Just different life issues. You know…sometimes you’re just fine and then life throws its lemons. I want to make lemon ice cream…not just lemonade or furniture polish.

It’s a good thing blog hops like “Ten Things of Grateful” exist – I was in a great mood by the end. ūüėČ

So, I’m going to take my own advice to achieve my normal state of happy-go-lucky: be grateful.

books in spanish
This isn’t even a fraction of the books in Spanish that I own.

1. I’m grateful for the opportunity to go back to school. I start on Monday, effectively taking three classes and living away from my significant other and beloved animals for the better part of three weeks.

I’ll be home on the weekends.

I feel like it’s a sign that resuming my studies was able to happen so quickly and painlessly. I got back from the beach in mid-June and by the first of July, I was all set to do this.

Oh boy. One year. I can do this.

I’m already four classes in.

Just eight more, culminating with a trip to Salamanca during the summer of 2014. Salamanaca, Spain will be incredibly fun; the work involved to make it there…well, let’s just say – and I admit with utmost humility – I’ve quit twice due to being overwhelmed.

In my defense, I was trying to “pay as I went” by taking on extra community college classes, participating in Americorps and teaching full time and¬†then¬†trying to commute two hours one-way to classes.

2. I have an incredibly understanding, loving, hard-working, gentle, big-hearted husband.

This was a frustrating week for both of us and taking on life’s challenges with my Juanito makes me love him more.

I know, I know, it’s cliche, but we’ve been married 11.5 years.

He’s an innovator and takes care of this old country house we live in so well, I don’t even know half the stuff he does. Allz I know is that when something’s broken, I call him and he just knows how to fix it.

The vacuum died this week and he brought it back to life. You saw the video of our road – and that was Wednesday night. By Thursday morning, it was WAY worse and he fixed it! Unfortunately,¬†that¬†was what we spent our July 4th doing, but…now we can leave the house.

If you didn’t see the video I posted Wednesday night…check out the canyon forming!

3. I’m thankful for my artistic skills.

When I’m drawing or painting, it’s like my conscious mind descends into another world, one that includes a creative silence allowing me to generate works that even I don’t know what the outcome is, until I’m finished.

Here is one of my current works in progress:

sharpie art black and white
Here’s a little snippet of my next Sharpie on paper project. It’s a LONG way from being finished, and will be quite colorful…

4. I’m thankful for this blog.

Because of my blogging, I have met people from all over the world.

I interact with amazing writers and feel the support of hundreds of people who are living life and facing its challenges in the same ways that I do. I see their ups; I see their downs and we all endure our perfect human-ness together.

It’s pretty amazing.


5. I’m thankful for my tennis shoes.

Walking, for me, is a meditative practice and I try to go everyday.

The last few days I hadn’t been able to go because of the rain, but I did get out for awhile today.

It was great to breathe the fresh air and feel the sunbeams warming my skin.

walking in my shoes
I go walking for miles and miles in these.

6. Black beans and rice are¬†my favorite dinnertime meal. You put those together (haha, they’re called¬†moros y cristianos¬†in Cuba – get it?) and top them with freshly grated cheese, on the side you have fresh avocado and homegrown tomatoes. Then, add some plantain cooked in coconut oil with a little sugar on top. Oh my goodness, the burst of flavors from this simple dish compels me to make it every week.

7. The wild raspberries growing all over the mountainside are finally ripening. I see lots of cobblers, raspberry desserts and even tea in my future.

Wild raspberries grow all over the mountain where I live – I might need to learn how to make raspberry wine.

8. I’m thankful for the Wakefield Doctrine. Yes, I really am. This last week involved dealing with some people that…can be difficult to deal with. In understanding their personalities, I was able to relate myself to them in ways that allowed for good outcomes. I love being able to understand peoples’ personalities and be able to¬†predict¬†behavior before they themselves know ¬†how they’re going to behave. That dang Doctrine…it’s changed my life. ūüôā

9. I’m thankful for my fur-kids. They bring a smile to my face every time I see them. How can your heart not melt at these photos?

black dog under the bed
Da Vinci has this habit of hiding under the bed – but he always pokes his feet out.
tabby cat
Ralphie was all curled up on my bed this morning. Aww.
black cat sleeping
Pepe looks rather like a fur-log, don’t you think?

10. There’s still a lot of good in the world. You wouldn’t know it by watching the news, but they¬†seek out¬†the negative: it drives their ratings and they make more money. You often don’t hear about the child who recovered from cancer, the foster mom who adopted a little guy and saved his life, the lady that had eye surgery and could suddenly see, the crops that bear a good season’s harvest, the house that¬†didn’t¬†leak in the rain, the smile on a little girl’s face when her best friend accepted her picked flower, the dog that recovered from illness…there are so many things that go right in the course of the day that it’s easy to forget about them.

This post is part of the “Ten Things of Grateful” blog hop that runs Saturday-Sunday. Come on over and participate. Are ya grateful for anything?

Ten Things of Thankful


Also, my own Wonderful Wednesday blog hop¬†will continue¬†as scheduled for next week. The theme is¬†gardens.¬†It will be a pre-scheduled post because I don’t know how much access I’ll have to the blogging world until next weekend when I get back home and finish the first week. So, if you don’t see me around for awhile, ¬†you know why! ūüôā

Blue Gold: The Water Crisis

Those of you that know me, know that I am a conservationist. I always have been.

Something on my mind lately is the looming water crisis we humans face.

I promise I’m not going to regale you with boring lectures about how we should do this and how we should do that. In fact, I think most people turn a deaf ear because the world’s problems are just that:¬†world problems. No one human can change all that: we each can’t place the problems of the world on our shoulders. But, one human can make a difference and create a domino effect.

stream flash flood
This is in my backyard. This stream is normally a trickle. It’s about to overtake our raised garden bed. It’s grainy because I took the photo with my phone – it was all I had in my hands at the time.

I think it was Gandhi that said that a few droplets of oil don’t pollute the whole ocean, but enough clean droplets of water will make a difference.

That’s the idea: if enough humans are aware of and trying to help on a personal and local level, well, heck…there might even be world peace one day in addition to making water the unlimited resource it once was!

Blue Gold: The Water Wars

I had this movie in my Netflix queue (<– I¬†love¬†that word, by the way) called¬†Blue Gold: World Water Wars. I knew it wasn’t going to be one of those documentaries that makes you feel good.

However, I think it’s part of my duty as a human to become aware of not only the issues I face as part of the society in which I live, but also worldwide. After all:¬†we are all connected and we are all part of the great human spirit.

As I sat down to watch this movie, I was appalled at how people are dying every day because of the lack of basic sanitation and access to water. Yes, I think most of us know that in parts of the world, there is a real deficit of water and some people have to walk miles just for a bucket-full of the stuff.

This movie made me feel ashamed when I complained that I didn’t have water for 9 days and had to hike up my mountain to collect it from the stream. O me of little knowledge….

The main problems are this: there is a monopoly of water by only a few corrupt corporations, and water is increasingly becoming scarce.

Bush Buys Land

In fact, according to the documentary, the Bush family – George W. – sent his daughter Jenna to Paraguay to buy over 100,000 acres of land.

There are a lot of theories as to why: it is right next to a huge aquifer, and many think the family has invested in the land because of the predictions of a massive deficit of water resources around the world within 50 years.

(Similarly, the Bush family has invested¬†a lot¬†of money in building a house that uses alternative energy.¬†I have to tell you, I am not a Bush fan, but I find it interesting that this family is investing in things that are going to become real commodities in the future. And heck, though I’m a die-hard Democrat (there: I admitted it…I apologize if you don’t agree – I won’t rub it in your face – it’s just who I am), I gotta give the Bush family some respect: they’re investing in exactly the things that¬†we’re supposed to be investing in.)

Only a few corporations are trying to control all the water.

Bad things happen when corporations control our water.

From Africa to the United States, it increases prices and often, the sanitation level goes down drastically. There are cases that have been documented in Paris, New York, Atlanta…and in other places like Kenya, and South America.

Indeed, Bolivia recently had an uprising to oust the water corporations. They had a HUGE strike Рa paro cìvico


These corporations were making it so that it was illegal to collect rainwater, and that their product was the only product you could buy.

In Kenya, the Coca-Cola company owns the water rights (as of 2009 when the documentary came out).

To buy a Coke, it costs a fraction¬†of what a bottle of water costs – something like $.40 to $2.00! And you can¬†only¬†get bottled water in many places because the tap water is so unsanitary. Furthermore, they’d only run the tap at certain times of the day and people wouldn’t know when.

They’d leave the tap on with a bucket underneath, but the company would charge them for doing so, even if water didn’t come out for days!

The Dust Bowls Are Related to Water, Too.

Incidentally, right after watching that documentary, I happened to catch another one on the Dust Bowls that hit the midwestern part of the US in the 1930s, due, in part, to extreme drought.

What’s scary is that the US is facing the same issues right now. We might be in for another Dust Bowl.

I don’t share this to scare. And as any good student out there, it’s good to question and wonder if it could really happen, or if it’s all totally true.

But, I do know one thing: I grew up in Colorado. My parents were faced with evacuation last year due to fires that were only a couple miles from their house РI was there. Almost 400 people lost their homes in that fire.

Incidentally, as I was uploading my own video to YouTube (see below), I came across this one: this is less than one mile from where my parents live:

The flooding in the video is partly because everything is so dry out there and packed down: any water they get just “rolls” off and heads for lower ground.

This year, there have been more fires near where my parents live. They’ve made the national news: the Black Forest fire claimed hundreds more homes and this one was only about ten miles from where my parents live.

I’ve been saying for years that the foothills of Colorado – indeed, the state itself – is growing more arid with each passing year.

Where I live in North Carolina, we’ve gotten so much rain – uncharacteristic rain – lately, that sinkholes have formed, and a huge flood at the bottom of my road has effectively marooned me at my house for the time being. I know –¬†I know¬†– it’s related to climate change.

You may have seen this on Facebook, but here’s a video of the road about 1/5th mile down from my house:

(HUGE kudos to my husband who has been working tirelessly moving rocks and gravel with a tractor and his truck to fix this…I’m helping in the form of lunches and drinks for everyone else helping, too. I’d get out there and dig in, but I’m accident prone and forbidden from helping: I fell down the stairs the other day (because of the rain)¬†and tweaked my back. Sigh…there’s never a dull moment.)

As if to make me further contemplate this growing issue, my friend Jennifer talked about water issues in Africa over at her blog, Another Jennifer.

This is an issue on a lot of peoples’ minds right now.

It’s especially on mine.

And yes, it’s not good.

But we can change that.

It just takes a change in habits on everyone’s part:

  • minimizing household use of water in the form of washing dishes, toilets, laundry, showers, watering the garden, washing cars, etc.
  • asking¬†companies to limit and be held accountable for their use of water – they use more water than you can imagine – thousands upon thousands of gallons go into the making of a microchip, for example. I’m not sure if that’s 100% true, but if you think about it, it could be: all the people-power required, research, paper, electronics, rinsing, the chemical processes involved to manufacture just one tiny chip….
  • forming coalitions to keep out water corporations
  • investing¬†in water – yes, because if we don’t change and hold ourselves collectively accountable, water will be¬†more precious¬†than oil in the not-too-distant future, but also because investing in it means that we develop newer and better ways to conserve.

For me, I know I can do more. I try to re-use cooking water to water my plants, take short showers, do full loads of laundry and more.

But I wonder if humans have the capacity to overcome this challenge. It will require everyone becoming aware and taking part.

Isn’t our planet worth it? This beautiful planet that has sustained all life for millions of years; we have risen up and returned to its ashes generation after generation.

We are so connected, there’s¬†no way we could¬†exist¬†if we weren’t. Aren’t the children of tomorrow worth fighting for? What about the wonderful animals that enrich our lives?

It’s worth it.

Our blue marble is blue because of water. 

Our posterity is worth it.

Our ecosystems.

The beauty.

The hope. 

The connection that beckons us to know that somehow there’s more out there than just meets the eye.

I just have to say: I’m working on an art piece right now from an earlier post I did, but I have half a mind to start a Sharpie one next and have “water” as the inspiration…

And Another Thing…

Whewee, I’m on a roll.

I feel like that rebel child who dons the black clothes, shaves their head, gets a tattoo and a tongue ring…and goes gallavanting on the strip in their low-rider.

Except I never did that. And um, I’m not that kind of girl. I won’t say that my brother didn’t…or my other brother…or even one sister…or three….

But I’m a blog rebel.

And I feel like I’ve unleashed a caged tiger upon the blogosphere…

Since I’m Chucking the Rules…

Yeah, I mean, I felt like my writing got somewhat static over the last few months. I was trying to follow all those bloggy rules: comment everywhere, participate in blog hops galore, take SEO into account, backlink, backlink, backlink…do perfect keyword research, compose the perfect video,¬†only¬†publish when I had a perfect post….


Back to the rules.

I mean…chucking those rules.

I’m Talkin’ ‘Bout Art and Photography, Cyndi-style.

So…I love art and photography, right?

yellow summer flower
Heck – I don’t even follow the rules of photography: you’re NEVER supposed to snap photos in broad daylight because of the starkness of shadows. Whoops. I broke another rule. It was midday when I snapped this photo of a daylily in my yard.

I can’t sell it worth a damn, either.

That’s cool…I hate selling things.

When I was in college and young and stupid, I worked as an intern at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. No, I DIDN’T show up at your door in a car wrapped in a brown paper bag. And yes, I REALLY did get asked why I didn’t drive a car wrapped in a paper bag like in the commercial.

But, I always had to sell that damage waiver stuff Рyou know, if you wreck the car, the rental agency will pick up the tab. Well, we had to sell it to everyone. 

It drove me nuts. The people who actually wanted it were few and far between and our ranking in our respective offices was contingent upon how much we sold.

It bugged me. On the one hand, it was a good product: you wreck the car, hand us the keys and walk away. No insurance companies. No deductibles.

On the other hand, if you were going to be in a rental for 30 days or more, it made me cringe trying to sell someone something that would cost $20 a day.

The point is, I could turn on that salesperson. I could pull out that scottian part of myself and sell some DUB as we’d say. But, I also felt like a twit every.damned.time – even when I’d lead the office in sales.

When it comes to selling something I’ve created? Something happens.

Actually, nothing really happens.

I suck at it. I mean I have sold plenty of paintings. But, the months between sales are few and far between.

I feel so…so…mercenary when I do it. Like I’m selling a part of my soul. That part of me that’s slightly scottian – it turns into a bunny and runs into the nearest hole. Maybe to meet Alice and celebrate a Merry Un-birthday or something.

Naturally, right? I mean I put all my love, thought, symbolism and emotion into art, and even the photography I create.

I feel like it needs to be a philanthropic venture, you know?

Like donating-to-charity-philanthropic. I blame Jennifer. She’s added fuel to this idea I have with all her philanthropy musings. She’s awesome like that.

So, I’ve been doing some thinking.

What if I have a couple art/photography related thingamajigs on my blog each month?

It’s still kind of an amorphous idea, but here are some of those nebulous thoughts (and maybe you could help me ‘solidify’ those thoughts):

  • Have a blog hop that stems from a photo prompt – I take a photo, and you can respond with your own photo, a work of art, a blog post, a poem, a rebuttal, an opinion, a comment – whatever. But I’d put out the photo on a Monday (maybe not for the next few weeks would I start this – I’m thinking my classes are barely going to let me come up for air for the next three weeks…) and you could take the whole week to come up with some sort of response.


  • Have another themed blog hop – maybe make it part of Wonderful Wednesday, but once monthly – where I choose a photo to turn into some sort of artwork: whether it’s a drawing or painting. And I’d choose from participating blogs.¬†I’ve been dared to complete the one related to the one I posted last Wednesday of Pump Gap. I accepted that challenge, too. But, yeah…something like this: you snap a photo, say you want to be in the running to have it turned into art, I choose one at random – or not – and then….


  • After I create these works of art, I hold some sort of auction and the proceeds go to charity. I feel really good about giving to humanity in this way. I just feel the¬†need¬†to do this. Or give back somehow along these lines. Or maybe I’d try to sell some of them. I don’t know.

Granted, these are only ideas swirling in my head, but I think this all could be fun: a way to help humanity, I don’t have to market to sell my artwork (though I’ll keep adding stuff at Zazzle – and why not? They sell it for me, haha), and it gets everyone involved.

I like it! The Picto Project might have turned into something like that, but when I got all derailed by copycats and such, I feel like I want something to show for my photography and artwork.

What do you think?

A blog hop with a photo prompt? Turn someone’s photo into a painting? Have people vote on the one they want turned into a painting? Or, perhaps I need another kind of photo/artistic challenge that others will want to participate in. Do¬†you¬†have any ideas? Keep in mind, I will have school and teaching obligations, but…I think I’ll be able to finagle some artbeats onto the blog. ūüôā

This is one way I feel like I could channel my energy. I could work on a painting during the course of a month – which won’t be too hard between work and school – it’ll be a good reprieve.


In the meantime, I’m pulling my stuff from around the web and putting them here. Checkout the art tab and my writing tab. Kind of fun – but I need to do this for now in preparation for not being able to spread myself out so much over the next year.

PS – to my readers: if you want to participate in the Wonderful Wednesday blog hop tomorrow, the theme is GOOD FOOD. Take a snapshot of your dinner, or write a recipe, or a poem about your relationship with spaghetti (haha). Whatever you please.

I Give Myself Permission…and Thank You

The other day – wait, it was only yesterday? – I wrote about what in the world I should do with this blog.

I had no idea about the feedback I’d receive.

And um, it was like I was slapped upside my head, but in a good way! ¬†ūüėÄ

I had so many wonderful readers comment and I can’t thank you enough.

I now know that even if I wanted to cancel this blog, I might get in trouble with karma. Or maybe my dogma.

Or maybe my dogma will slap my karma upside her head.

I don’t know, but I’m rolling with it.

And actually, this is one of those posts that has to be epic, and not because I planned on it. But because I’ve hit some milestones and forgotten about other things.

Yes, forgotten.

The Milestones

One year ago, today (I think…or somewhere close to it) I created a blogger blog called Pictimlitude. It wasn’t until October that I moved it to WordPress, but its sole goal was to complement my Zazzle store and be a home for my photography.

garden gate
I shot this image of the Elizabethan Gardens when I was at the beach. I think I’ll turn the image into some postcards for my Zazzle store.

But, I started enjoying blogging so much and meeting people that this became sort of my catch-all place.

One year ago. Wow.

Something I Forgot

Well, in my wonderings about what to do with this blog, I forgot I have an art show in August and I forgot that WNC Woman Magazine is going to publish my write-up about my teaching/writing/photographic/artistic journey in October.

Okay, so this blog can’t go anywhere.

I appreciate all the complements that people give me on my photography and art, but sometimes I think having so many interests and things that I like to do is a curse. I mean, I do my best at all these things, but I get stretched so thin, sometimes. After the comments I read – those beautiful comments – I guess everybody feels that way at one time or another, though, huh?

Which Leads Me To…

Giving myself permission.

I have loved this blog and the people I’ve met. And since I’m the one who created it, and taking your advice – yes, YOUR advice – this blog is my little corner of the netverse and I am going to make what I want of it.

So, from here on out, that means:

  • I probably won’t post at regular times for the next year (apparently this is a blog rule out there somewhere)
  • I’m going to post whatever floats my boat, and by that I mean I might be really floating in a boat on a lake…somewhere…getting fried and turning red like no one else in my family does. Yes, sometimes I wonder if the stork dropped me off to the wrong family: they all have that awesome olive skin and look more Mexican than I do. I’m the gringa that popped into their lives and…the only one of the kids who actually learned Spanish –¬†nicheless blogs UNITE!¬†Oops, I think I broke another blog rule.
  • Oh! I can criticize the likes of Arne Duncan, Education Secretary for his idiot leadership when it comes to public schools…because I can talk about “teaching” here if I feel like it, too! A teacher criticize the Education Secretary? Yes. I think that breaks some other rule somewhere.
  • I can sell my art here or not…I’ll probably put up a tab for it or something. I’ve realized, though, that I can’t sell my way out of a paper bag – even if I’m starving. Believe me, I know. Plus, I think the world of art is kind of cutthroat and it’s taken me the last year to realize that coveting fancy schmancy galleries shouldn’t be my goal. In fact, can’t I just give art and eye candy to the people? Be a Keith Haringette in that I create whatever whenever? (OK, so Keith Haring had a rough life – poor dude – but he made his art accessible to everyone.) I just gave away my Highway 209 painting to a friend for her wedding (sorry, Obama, ya missed out). Do you know what kind of a high that gave me? Shoot, that tells me that I’m much happier giving it away and creating it for fun. So, I’m going to keep doing that. Yeah, I’m not helping the starving artists with that revelation. Dang. Another rule¬†I’ve broken.
  • So many of ¬†you told me to follow my heart. And my heart belongs to you. Well, in spirit. I mean I gave my heart to the husby like 13 years ago. That poor man.

And somehow, with the unleashing of the pressure to write a blog post worth $500 (I read somewhere that every blog post you write should be like someone’s paying you $500 to write it because you never know who could be reading) my writing feels a lot more natural. And…AND…I’ve probably broken a zillion art, blog and writing rules just in this one post.

Rules are for rogers.

I am outside of them.

I simply can’t be classified.¬†

What kind of art do you do, Cyndi? Um…Sharpie art? No wait…I paint. No…I like to draw. No…maybe some charcoal. Does photography count?

What kind of writing do you do? Um…blog…write some how-to crap, I wrote a Nanowrimo fiction novel – oh GAWD, did I even get it off my laptop before it died!? – and some kids stuff and some non-fiction stuff.

What do you teach? Spanish…with reckless enthusiasm with all the imperfections of knowing everything I can and nothing at all about languages, cultures and the human race, in general.

Yes, World. I am a mess. I’m a gloriously unclassifiable, certifiable insane-o mess with a lot of love and a penchant for peace.

Yeah, well. Life is messy and we just roll with it. Hopefully we can take a rolling pin and smooth out the messy parts as best we can.

To the other clarks out there: I¬†know¬†you can relate to me. C’mon. Admit it. You’re curious and you have this insatiable desire to live 900 years because life is full of curiosities and you want to try them all, experience them all, see and know about them all before you expire…to the void. About which we’d like to find out more.

The void…

I’m jumping all over the place.

I’d better just get to some thank-yous.

To the people who helped me open my Pandora’s box of blogging: to blog with reckless abandon, SEO be damned! (Google gods, if readers read this by the millions, well then, I’ll take it back.)

Here’s to a blog that is the acme of hodge-podge, creative genius-wanna-be, random-tangential-paradise, inspirational something-something, whatever-compels-me-to-write….

And there will be no other blog like it, I can guarantee that.

You’re in for a wacky, ride dear readers.

Kind of like that guy you meet down at the brewery who has a red-velvet coat and a little dog he carries around and has never ‘worked for the man’ a day in his life….

Thank you!



















for your insightful comments.

Next time I have a question, watch out. I’m probably going to ask you. ūüôā