just ducky ~ 1 of 2

Let's talk about getting out of our comfort zone. Learning opportunities. Brain health. Experiences that make a person feel alive. Along with excited and scared. All in the same breath. Getting out of your comfort zone is good for so many reasons! If you need convincing, here are 5 reasons to get out of your comfort zone. Grab a cuppa, let's go!


The long awaited weekend arrived. Brad & I left the comforts of home. Entrusting the care of our beloved animals to others. We flew to Memphis, TN. Never ever in my life have I said "I wish I could go to Memphis". You don't know, what you don't know and I am SO glad we went!!

We got common responses when sharing our up coming adventure "why Memphis" and/or "why such a short time". I'll tease out both answers, in my roundabout wordy Aurora way.

The short (er) backstory that led us to Memphis: A few years ago I stumbled across a Spanish style guitarist. During shutdown. A time that was tough for all of us. Life was extra hard, as I watched my mom slowly fade away. 

Discovering Jesse Cook has been pivotal. He is an extremely talented classical guitarist out of Canada. The music he shares with the world is similar to what I grew up listening to.

I longed to hear Jesse play live. I knew it would be so healing, for my head and heart. 

When the world opened back up, his 
"Libre" tour hit the road. Libre means "Free" in English. This tour was the music written during shutdown. I've danced around the fire pit, cried, smiled and healed while listening to these songs. Personal processing, while absorbing his heartfelt rhythmic messages.  

I really wanted to hear this specific music set. 

I thought we could go to Canada to see him! or maybe Denver!! All options presented less than ideal scenarios. I accepted the reality that I would never see the Libre tour live. We are not regular travelers. The last time I was on a plane was 2018. Jesse only plays key venues, in larger cities. Certainly not the Midwest. Not a single person I know has heard of him. Sad but true. 

2024 is a year of big anticipated change for both Brad & I. The start of new chapters. A year of growth. To release. Live dreams. He proposed going to Memphis for my birthday for a concert. Not just any concert. A Jesse Cook concert!!!

The idea was met with a lot of concern and research. The minute I said yes, Brad booked the flight and a very us kinda hotel. Let me tell you, the hotel was ducky!!


heading out for an adventure

this randomly appeared on my phone in flight,
and also when flying back

I LOVE watching clouds from a different view

We stayed at The Peabody a beautiful historic hotel. Have you heard of it? There is gobs of the hotels history online. Click through if interested. We had two things planned, watching the concert and seeing their famous ducks. We booked our trip last year. Unfortunately the lobby fountain was under repair. We missed watching the ducks swim in the marble fountain all day long, in the middle of a fancy hotel by 3 weeks. Totally okay. The ducks still marched out/in.

Sometimes even ducks have to learn new tricks.

a very charismatic Duck Master

sound up, here come the ducks!
 (35 secs)

look at the joy on all the faces

quack, quack they all marched back

We watched the march twice from two different vantage points and Duck Masters. There are duck motifs absolutely everywhere in the hotel! From the artwork to towels to desserts. I'll spare you my ducky snapshots.

Our son checked in, so I sent these trip photos of day one:

touring Memphis in style

terrible wide angle photo of us, but even Brad is smiling 

Dude (the dog) was scared riding up front.

We said "put him back here with us" and Brad made an instant friend.

Our son said: "Of course you guys find horses & dogs" .

What can I say? It was meant to be. The very first time we walked out of our hotel, they found us. We really enjoyed the company & city night sights. It was the perfect ice breaker and intro to Memphis.

When on vaycay we seek out the friendly native folks to learn the ropes. 
Memphis is not only a music town, it is a foodie town ~ and the people of Memphis are incredibly kind!! 

A bit of artwork:

large riverside confederate display

(sorry about the carriage light flair)

street mural

Saturday it sprinkled off/on during the day. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast and walked around the city between the drops. 

Elvis plaza

I've answered 999 times, we have no interest in touring Graceland. Sorry, not sorry. However, I did come home with the above Elvis photo. I think that counts ;) For some, it is a bucket list reason for visiting this great city.

Beale Street during the day
 (also not our jam, nothing to do with the music)

There were many other endearing experiences, that revolve mostly around the local people we connected with. So many shared laughs!

We are far from big city lovers. A weekend is long enough for us to enjoy city life. This answers question #2. We would both go back, 
now that we know what Memphis is all about. Someday.

Post 2 of 2 coming soon, with more trip thoughts. Including the incredible concert. 


eagle eyes

My photography assistant came home from getting fuel after a recent snow storm and said "there are two eagles off the Hwy if you want to take photos?" Who says no to that, not me!! Even after I just got done shooting 9 month photos of Hope.

The eagles were on a fairly busy Hwy. Not safe for getting out of a vehicle that has pulled off the side of the road, on a non-existent snow covered shoulder. After twenty questions I scrambled to change clothes, switch lenses and took the transportation offer. Hoping the eagles had not flown away.

It has been a long time since I used my longer lens. I haven't practiced the fine art of standing in snow with frozen fingers, fiddling with camera settings. Add the pressure of vehicles passing and I accidentally swiped the touch screen. Whoopsee! No time to undo whatever it was I did. Bird number one had left the scene.

Brad was pulled off the highway onto a field road entrance. I was standing off the road next to the truck. Of course we still got these looks "what is that truck doing? Is it stuck?? Why is that crazy lady getting out?" 


Not my best bird photos, but the best I have taken in a long time. Birds seem to know when something is pointed at them. Even in silence and at a great distance. 

Ever since shutdown, the popular public annual rehabilitated eagle release at the river has ceased. I thought perhaps this year the public release would be offered again. It was such a special event! I was wrong. Eagles are still rehabilitated and released, but without notice. 

It is okay. Eagle numbers have dramatically increased. They are frequent flyers in this general area. Plus, I have a stellar photography assistant with eagle eyes. Looking forward to finding more spread wings, to practice shooting action in 2024! With my camera. Of course.



Anyone else happy that Winter FINALLY arrived?!!


the main trail trees got me

As Wintery days pass, more smaller pines bent under the weight of heavy snow. The entire main trail is no longer passable.

window view (16 secs)

snow poppin' happiness


Let there be light!!

1st snow shoe outing of the season

pausing to absorb winter's wonderland (18 secs)

SNOW followed by LIGHT followed by bitter COLD!!

-4F my kinda snow shoe weather

ocean of snow waves

a familiar reminder as I head out

these boys have to wait to run the woods

self reflection is looking up

full view

beautiful shadows everywhere

inspirational pines

leaving the area where wild things live

I got back home, almost an hour later.

With a feeling of bliss. Merak.

The sense of oneness with the universe

that comes from the simplest of pleasures.



9 months



Hope at 9 months

all photos taken the day Hope turned 9 months


are you a believer?

Yesterday was 111 (2024). 

I have not returned to Spacebook (as a friend calls it) since before my mom passed in 2021. I ditched being a Twittler a long time ago. Before it turned into a letter. I still enjoy Instafamily, as a reader. Yes, yet another rabbit hole. To avoid falling, I have the Insty app on my very last phone page. I have to swipe, swipe...swipe to Gram it. I only browse when I am too tired to do anything else. Learning things from people far away is enjoyable. I scroll past the rest.

All that to say 111 came across my feed. Are you a believer?

"A powerful portal for new beginnings and manifesting" I don't know if I actually believe numerical sequences are true portals, but believing in anything is inspirational.

No, I will not drink the kool-aid.

Thursday was also the first New Moon of 2024, which amplifies energy. I absolutely DO believe in the power of all things sky related!!! 

My insta-info suggested on 111 to "focus on what you are calling in...spend time alone without distractions". 


I watched the gorgeous light of dawn from the kitchen window, while doing mundane dishes. Knowing I was missing the good stuff is agonizing. I do not remotely care about sparkling homes and should have dried my hands. Grabbed my camera and run for the hills. I had already started washing before I saw the light. Ha haa! I am going to leave that alone. One thing I am not, is a quitter. I finished the dishes, and then headed out to see what I could manifest. Besides being cold.

barn/arena path

ith no phone, dogs or defense mechanisms. Me, myself and I.

I was hoping Hope would follow me, she started. In fact, I had all the horses ears and action coming towards me. Monopods are scary don't-cha-know. It was then that Tank came running out of the barn and joined me. With deeper snow and 21F temps, his back legs started cramping. Sigh.

I turned around and slowly trudged back up the hill to the house. Knowing more light and photo opportunities would pass me by.

You want to know what else doesn't have an off switch? A Labrador. It is up to us humans to do right by them. It was easy to let more opportunity go. Tank is way more important to me than any photograph ever will be.

self interpretation

I stood in silence. Listening and observing. Surrounded by quiet and utter beauty. Looking for a sign. Any sign from nature.


auspicious area

These trees! The feeling of these magical tree's (and surroundings) cannot be captured. Believe you me I have tried! Even with video. They prompted the naming of the Enchanted Forest. When Brad and I first walked our property, I told him if you are ever looking for me you can find me ^ here.

At first, I wanted to add a bench to the area. A place to sit, feel and create some art. The reality of me sitting comfortably, focused enough be creative and alone in nature is not a reality. A portable camping stool/chair would serve a similar purpose. It might actually get used and not just pooped and chewed on.

leaving the forest

Again, I stood in silence. Listening and observing. Watching for a sign. 

It doesn't work that way. You can't will things to appear. Or at least I can't. Nothing appeared, other than my wandering thoughts.

one of our wildlife crossroads

My favorite pine tree is just beyond the bluebird house. An incredibly unique and special soul rests at it's base. 
My beloved cat Sydney. 3 struggling apple tree's and my dormant butterfly garden are out of frame. To the right.

butterfly snowflake garden


There was so much more goodness to my 111 day! Another photo opportunity presented itself. A heart centering Yoga practice, and more!

Have to admit my utter disappointment when I first reviewed my nature walk photos. They look like regular ol' snowy photos, sans magical light. I told Brad my photos "don't look anything like what I saw". Wondering, how am I going to convey my feeling/message. I am aware photos do not capture what the naked eye does. Thank goodness for words! Even my wordy words.

If you are wondering (I am!) did my attention to 111 actually motivate me to work on any of those endless stagnant stuck old projects that I eluded to on my last post.

Not yet but I thought about them, and where they may lead me. Only the shadow knows.

Like the Little Engine that Could, I believed. 


I've been thinking

To which my hubby always responds "uh oh"I am such an over thinker. I wake up in the middle of the night ('er morning) and cannot shut my brain off.

If anyone knows where the swirling brain thought off switch can be found, please do tell!!

Lately my thoughts revolve around the fresh start that a New Year can offer.

How can I make each and every day of 2024 the most enjoyable ever? 

Our January feels over booked. It isn't, but it feels like it. We have events, appointments, baby sitting etc etc filling up our time. Days are rapidly pass by and I am not doing anything different to make ME feel different. 

We all know if you do the same thing, you get the same results.


Release. A random word that when embraced could help manifest change. It seems to describe all the thoughts, dreams and stuff. Stuck inside. Including fear. A dream stopper.

SO many of my personal projects are partially done, others live in my head. Some for decades. Sad but true. Maybe they are not meant to be.

How will I ever know if I don't do them? 

Smaller projects do get completed. Photo proof of a couple crafty craft ones:

bare wood tree's

painted & stained

Each year I make my own porch pots with saved decorations. 

front porch pot

Two more evergreen pots sit by our barn columns. They have natures decorations. Somehow they ended up looking plain this year. Even with little LED lights. Note to self: save more dried flowers. 

I happened upon some holiday decorating picks, on super sale! The last four rusty metal star picks seem to be waiting just for me. I thought they would be a great addition to my plain barn pots. Until I got home and realized the picks were paper wrapped. Indoor only. Bummer. Especially after finding two wicker bells on sale at a different store. The original plan was to glue them onto sticks and also add them to the barn pots. Instead, I made this:

2023 wall decor

Written and photography projects on the other hand are much harder for me to complete. Even posting on this blog is hard. This is the third time I have tried to complete this post to my satisfaction. I don't want to just barf words out loud. I want to mean what I say and say what I mean. 

If only sharing creatively was easy for me. It is definitely hard. Creativity flows like a river.

Have you ever tried stopping a flowing river?

I never seem to be in the right frame of mind. When I do have the right mindset, there are other things needing my attention. Like dogs staring at me and following me around. Waiting for their daily walk in the woods.

we got snow!!!

Let's be honest. I am an un perfect perfectionist. Hopeless, yet full of hope. A dreamer of all things me. A list maker of to-do lists.

It is hard being a girl who loves most everything.

winter wonderland

Not too long ago I was asked a really good question by a very wise friend.

What would make you feel complete?

My answer included releasing creative stuck things. I am not sure what it is going to take to make that happen?!!

Check. If you made it this far, thanks for reading my crazy. Publish.