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Don’t Miss The Gifts Before You

Many times we get to busy to notices the things around us. Last year I photographed the beautiful flowers I saw in my garden and around the area. I put this video together so you remember to take the time to notice natures most precious gift.

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Spring Is Here In Belgium

I just arrived to my summer home in Vorselaar, Belgium. The first think I noticed was of course the weather, sunny bright, green and with a temperature of 70 it is  wonderful. Even the stewardess from the plane commented that she was not sure we were in Belgium because it was not raining. Personally after being in Colorado where rain does not occur that often I would have welcomed a rainy day especially since I was going to have to take a nap to start the jet lag recovery. But with the weather as it was I was going to have a hard time sleeping on such a wonderful day. As I walked around my yard all I could see was work. Old plants needed to be discarded, windows and screens need washing, the horse was shedding and could use a good brushing and the garden was ready to plant. My wonderful guy prepared the garden for my arrival as he knows how much I enjoy getting my hands in the dirt.

 

Prepared Garden Ready For Planting

 

So even though my suitcase is still packed, camera equipment is still waiting to be put away, tomorrow I will be headed to the garden store to buy peas, green onions, and leaf lettuce and start the planting. This year I decided to keep a photo journal of my garden so I can see it as goes from small seeds into to an abundant harvest. Residing on the back roads a garden is a big part of country living. It just doesn’t make sense to let good dirt go to waste. I love composting, planting and nurturing a garden as much as I love going out and picking and eating fresh food. It just taste better when you grow and pick your own harvest. I also read somewhere that plants that you take care of yourself are better for you body because they have picked up the energy of your body and supply what it needs. I believe it because food just taste better from my garden and I feel better after eating it. Oh how I love nature and all her benefits.

In Belgium gardening is so easy compared to the years I tried gardening in Montana. Nice fertile sandy soil, and no rocks. But insects are something you have to keep a handle on. So the spring work begins as I leave the inside cleaning alone until next week when rain is in the forecast and Belgium will be more its typical self. But I will feel better knowing I will be eating fresh peas and lettuce before to long.

How does your garden grow?

Here are a few photos of spring around Belgium.

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Sometimes A Back Road Is All You Need

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For the past three weeks I have been preparing for my semi-annual move back to Belgium. If you have ever moved you know just how many things need to be arranged and taken care of. Sure I do not have to take the furniture but I do have to figure out what I will need for the next 6 months and how to fit it into two suitcases. Along with what camera equipment can I live without and what really needs to come.

Also I have been getting my life in order and decided it was time to not only think of my family and what would happen say, if my plane goes missing. I also have ben working on getting my business matters in order, like a bookkeeping system, LLC’s registered, bank accounts in order, insurance, taxes,…. ick, just writing this drives me crazy let alone having dealt with it all in the last three weeks.

So now that I am up at 1:30am in the morning worrying about all that is left to do before I leave, I am realizing I need a break.

I know just where to go. I am going to find myself a nice country back road and take a long walk in nature.

There is something about getting into nature that can put things back in perspective when you feel over whelmed. The sound of the spring birds, gentle flow of a water, farm animals basking in the sun, the fresh smell of early spring. Your problems and concerns just melt away as you just take it all in.

So if like me you have been busy with life’s constant duties, try taking some time away and find a quiet little back road and drive and enjoy the rural scenery. Then park the car or truck and get out and walk awhile. I know you will come back refreshed and ready to take on the next challenge life has waiting for you.

Above are some photographs I have taken while I was on a back road.

It Truly Is A Small Word

Sometimes I feel like I am the only one who lives a life that is unique and hard to manage. As some of you know I live spring and summer in Belgium, {my husband’s home country} and fall and winter in Colorado to be with family along with stops in the Chicago area where I was born. This type of lifestyle is hard to manage when you have a photography business because I am always on the move. It does create great opportunities, but managing paperwork, computers, second residence, communication with family and friends and language and cultural differences can be quiet a challenge.

Many times my I feel I am the only one who lives such a lifestyle and I am on my own when dealing with all the challenges.  But a recent trip to a small town in Shell, Wyoming made me realize just what a small world this truly is.

A group of fellow equine photographers ventured to a fabulous guest ranch to create winter images of horses and western lifestyle images. We stayed the week at The Hideout Lodge and Guest Ranch located in Shell, Wyoming with a population of 63. This ranch is set just below the beautiful Big Horn Mountains. It took my breath away with the beautiful log cabin lodge and quaint cabins set in fresh snow with views of the mountains everywhere you looked. It brought back my memories of living in Montana.

After settling in to our quaint log cabin room we all met for the get acquainted dinner in the lodge. That is when I discovered that this beautiful guest ranch was managed by a couple from Belgium. I could not believe that I would hearing that lovely Belgian accent so familiar to me in such a remote place. Peter De Cabooter and his wife Marijn Werquin (just to clarify in Belgium women do not take the family name of their husbands which I think is great} manage this lovely lodge and guest ranch and also live a similar lifestyle as myself. Who would have thought I would find a couple from Belgian in such a remote location?

We had a chance to talk about Belgium, living in the two countries and how we both handle the travel of back and forth and all that goes with living in to different cultures.  Having met them made me feel a bit more content with my very different lifestyle. I realized that there must be many who live this multi-cultural life and deal with all the excitement and challenges that comes with this.

Having worked with my husband on several guest ranches while living in Montana for 10 years, I quickly recognized how Peter and Marijn bring the best of Belgium to this small western community. The ranch offers nothing shy of quality from the beautiful log lodge and quaint cabins to an accomplished chef Sheena cooking meals you would only expect in high level restaurants. All the staff was professional, friendly and very qualified for the position they were hired to do. Peter told me during one of our conversations during cocktail hour that he understands that if he hires the best employees he know he has to offer them a long-term career so they can keep the high level of employees that they have. Unlike the ranches we worked on that after three months you were scrambling to find another job for the rest of the year which most likely not make if possible to return to the guest ranch the following season leaving the owners to continually trying  find new employees. Which in return leaves regular guests wondering what to expect the following year.

In Belgium you can not just hang out your sign and run a business, you must be trained, schooled and certificate for the professional position in most cases. I see that at the HIdeout ranch Peter and Marijn have brought this quality to the ranch. I also experienced the friendliness and creativity of the employees that is so prevalent in our culture. Like Tom Bercher the head wrangler with his patience for us demanding photographers to Rebecca his wife who is the office manager and keeps everything running smooth.There were the two twin c cowboys  Greg and Mark Prows entertaining us all with their cowboy stories. So with the best of two cultures they have created a very unique and pleasant experience. This was the first time I experienced both of my worlds coming together in this lovely week.

I hope in the future I can bring my husband back to The HIdeout Lodge and Guest ranch so he too experience what it is like when you blend these two cultures together and how a quality ranch guest ranch can be run.

If you have a dream of experiencing the western lifestyle and want to ride a horse in the beautiful wide open spaces of Wyoming I highly recommend The HIdeout Ranch as a place for your destination. I guarantee you will not be disappointed and will you will have a once in a life time experience at this very unique and traditional western ranch.

Here are some of the photographs I took during the week. The interior image  are were created by the talented fellow photographer Rebbeca Neff.

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Tom Bercher our vary patient and wonderful host.

Tom Bercher our vary patient and wonderful host.

Rebecca taking a day out of the office

Rebecca taking a day out of the office

Double Trouble Mark & Greg Prows

Double Trouble Mark & Greg Prows

Augustus son of Rebecca and Tom Bercher

Augustus son of Rebecca and Tom Bercher

Peter & Marijn

Peter & Marijn

Marijn with her faithful border collie

Marijn with her faithful border collie

The whole crew of riders

The whole crew of riders

Blogging To Blog Is Not Blogging

I think so many of us hear over and over that we need to blog. It is how you are going to get found, how you advance your brand, how people will find you in this vast sea of content. Is this true?

I have to admit I blog because I feel maybe that is what I should do but I am not a word person I am a visual person. What I care about I see through the lens of a camera and want to share that more than I want to share my thoughts. Quite frankly I feel like my deep thoughts are for me to write down to learn more about who I am than to share with the world.

So why do we all blog when it is not something we enjoy? Well I am still wondering that myself. I like visual blogging along with a few thoughts, like what I am doing here. I suppose I like sharing what captures my interest in chance that maybe you enjoy what I see also.  But I struggle to find deep words of wisdom to share to change the world. It is just not me.

My friend on the other hand blogs because she has something to share, and in the process she is discovering she is a writer and her words come from a place she can not describe. She shares her thoughts but more she is sharing somethings we all need to hear and give deep thought to. Here is a link to her blog. http://commonplacegrace.com

I like to share what I see in my world and what captures my attention. Maybe because I have worked so hard at learning to create more compelling photos and still study photography obsessively, but I love images and how they capture a split moment in time that would otherwise go unnoticed. I like to try to tell a story through vision rather than words.

So if my blog has more photos than inspiring words, it is because that is my passion, my gift, and my intention. To share moments in time, things I feel are beautiful, funny, interesting, and catch my eye for some reason.

For all you wonderful bloggers of words, keep moving us with your thoughts and inspirations and we visual story tellers will keep showing you what we see and hope you stop for just a moment and look.

So that being said, here are a few photos of the dogs being dogs having fun and doing what they love. Which by the way is the reason we are all here isn’t it?

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New Year In Montana

Yes to all my followers I know I have not posted in quite a while, but heck it is a New Year and let’s see if I can get this post on a more consistent program. I think compared to many I have a rather unusual life but you all know how it is because you are the one living it seems rather normal and uninteresting. But lately even I can not keep up with myself, so I will give it my best effort to write regularly here and share this always mobile and crazy little life I have created for myself.

This year starts off with a trip to Montana, one of my favorite states and where I spent 10 years of my life. I have been renting out my townhouse here in Colorado to help support my addiction to photography and after spending the holidays with my son and his family I thought I would let them get back to normal and spend the next 10 days in Montana since strangers were renting my home.

I headed up there on December 30th because it was a small window of good weather. If you have never traveled from Colorado north through Wyoming you will not understand just how important it is to check the weather forecast. Although it was windy I did make it with only a few scaring iced patches near Buffalo and Sheridan.

It always amazes me that who ever named Montana “Big Sky Country” was right on the money, because as soon as you see this sign

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the sky opens up and you can see for miles and miles. It always makes my heart sing when I have been aways from this beautiful state for any period of time.

I was planning to stay with a good friend in Utica Montana as we have a lot in common like loving to hike, doing creative projects and sitting by the wood stove talking for hours about our lives and our passions.

I also love to give her one of my extra cameras and she takes me all around to photograph the wide open spaces and back roads that are so common to her.

The day after I arrived they had a good amount of snow of about 8 to 10 inches not a big deal compared to the 3 feet I use to dealing with when living on the north slopes of the Big Snowy Mountains near Lewistown, Mt.  It was a gorgeous day, no wind, fresh snow and a bit cloudy, perfect for a photographer. I was envisioning a herd of ranch horses in the snow. So Susan called the neighbors to get their permission to go on their ranch and try to find the herd of about 30 ranch horses roaming the hills.

Susan took me by the very large pasture and said they were out there somewhere. She said I could hike up the ridge and she would drive down the road and meet me up at the top to see if we could locate them. Easy breezy right? Well not quite, hiking in a foot of snow and the wind kicking up and the temperature starting to drop made this a bit of a challenge for a lady about to turn 60. Their I was camera in around my neck and not a horse in sight wondering why the heck I thought this was a good idea.

After about a mile of up and down coolies and fighting the wind I saw Susan in the distance. I could only hear a slight sound coming from her but I knew she was telling me she found the horses. I was delirious from walking and imagined her telling me to hurry the horses are running right towards her. This was my perfect vision of horses running straight ahead in deep snow. I was so frustrated because I was exhausted but did not want to miss this event so I started running while yelling for her to wait for me. By the time I finally reach her she pointed out the horses in the distance. No running horses, only the herd located at least 3 miles away and in my camera this is the only shot I was going to get of them.

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Well we tried to get them to come in but with no luck they were going to stay out there for the rest of the day. So as we both tiredly hiked back to the ca.r We did however manage to find a weasel watching us in the snow. He kept popping up to check us out. So why not get a bit closer and take his photo, he seemed to be the only thing alive around beside the horses so far out in the distance.

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As we rounded the ridge we did manage to get a nice view of the old homestead that was part of the neighbors ranch. I always love this place with the two twin log barns and it did look nice all covered in snow.

I read somewhere that horses are one of the hardest subjects to photograph, next to maybe bears, moose and lions in Africa and after the day I just spent I would have to agree. But I would do it all again to get a shot of a herd of ranch horses in the deep snow which is what I dream of and my favorite thing to photograph.

Here are some more photographs of this trip to Montana to bring in the New Year.

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Where Is Home ?

Homestead in Belgium

Homestead in Belgium

I have struggled with this question for many years, all my life actually. I was born in Joliet, Illinois and I my family lived there for three years before moving to another town about 10 miles away.  This was a big move in the 50’s because back then most families put their roots down in the town where they were born and many even lived on the same street next to other family members.  So for our family was making  a big move. We lived in the house my parents bought for about 7 years. Then hard times hit. My father lost his job and they were forced to sell my mothers dream house which then resulted in years of renting and moving from house to house.  My mom use to comment about how many times we moved when I was younger, I think we counted maybe 9 or 10 times in the same town. This situation did not change for me as an adult.  I got married young and had four children, during that time we started in a small apartment, then our  first house, then a bigger  home suited for a growing family and then my dream of living in the country on mini farm. After the mini farm we moved due to a work transfer and built another home in the country where things settled down for about 15 years.

Life continued to be challenging after my children were raised and I found myself on my own. With constant moving being a continual theme in my life.  I found myself in Montana, Wyoming, Florida, back to Montana and then a bold move to Belgium and now splitting my time between Belgium and Colorado.  All in all since 1998 I have moved more than 20 times.

With every new place came the same question from the locals,”where are you from?”  where do you live?’ “where is your home?” The answer was never simple.

But today I found my answer and a feeling of knowing where home is for me.  I found it in  a TED talk.

The speaker talks about having many of the same experiences I have and how he explains it put me a peace. You see people like me that live a non conventional lifestyles is becoming very common. Today many of us find ourselves in different states and countries far from where we were raised.  The world is changing and apparently my life is more common then I thought. Your home is not where you think it is.

I highly recommend listening to this talk:  TED talk Where is Home?  It will open you up to a new way of looking at the place we call home.  Now I have the simple answer to the question I am so asked often.

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