Tag Archives: summer

they scootered and surfed into the sunset

The day we scootered, surfed, and found the Balinese sunset.

Today was the day, the day Ariel woke up and said she would take on the waves; today was also the day I did not one but two things that scared me for personal growth, a humbling effect, and challenging experiences that should last a life time.

The more immediate concern was how to get to the ocean side.  Two miles to travel in the extreme humid heat, peddle bikes were newly out of the question, and taxi’s are an utter nuisance (mostly because one of my pet peeves is paying unreasonable prices for transportation and never being able to count on being able to find transportation back).

Let’s rent a moped.

Reception let us know the last moped was out, but should probably be back within the hour.  Well, it wasn’t.  We waited for almost two before I approached the desk again.  The young man told us the moped was not back but he would lend us his.  Because he has two and wouldn’t need the second one within the next 24 hours.  I hesitantly thanked him for his amazingly generous offer and then in all of my honesty I felt the obligation to inform him of my inexperience with the vehicle, “that is super nice of you and definitely appreciated, but I really feel the need to let you know that I’ve never driven a moped before and I wouldn’t want to put your personal bike at risk.  Are you still okay with me renting it?”

The hesitation was now reciprocated on his face and a multitude of excuses came flooding out to cover every reason or excuse I may come up with.  The bike is a really big one.  You have to have a license for a moped.  You can get into a lot of trouble with the police if you don’t have a license for the moped…

Just when I was about to give up and order a cab, Ariel steps in with a slightly agitated and slightly more forceful string of comments, “do you expect me to believe that every foreigner here is licensed in mopeds?  I find that very hard to believe.  We haven’t seen a police officer since we’ve been here.  How do people get to the beach around here?  Those bikes are awful, it is hot, I am pregnant, and I want to surf, today.”

Dani jumped right up, “I will learn you the moped.  Come.  I will learn you.”

“Are you sure, I don’t want to get you in trouble or cause any issues,”  very like me to try to change someone’s mind once they’ve already given me the answer that I want to hear.  Also, I started to notice the accidental good cop/bad cop scenario we were playing on the nice balinese man at the reception desk and felt doubly guilty.

But he insisted saying because she was pregnant this would be the easiest and safest way to get us to the beach (and I kind of felt like he was a little scared of that pregnant lady he was trying to protect).  He jumped on his black and white moped and patted the seat in front of him, “come, I will learn you the scooter.”  So I hopped on and for an entire 1 minute and 30 second demonstration and hands on learning experience I learned the bare minimum basics of the motor bike.

Putting that 90 second lesson into real time action was terrifying.  We started off on the wrong side of the road.  Turns are really hard to make.  Other vehicles honked at me, a lot.  I hit a top speed of 7mph ( I think ).  Parking is really difficult.  People were laughing at me the entire time, I must wear my fear on my face.  And it took us about 20 minutes to go two miles to the beach.  Each time I got off of that machine that day I was relieved 1. we didn’t crash 2. I didn’t hurt anyone and 3. the police didn’t get involved.  And each time getting back on it I thought we were testing fate and pushing buttons, like we had already made it once, why risk another ride?

But, we made it to the waves.  We found boards and immediately headed into the water.  Ariel made it safely over the breaking waves at the shore… I not so much.  I got hit once, twice, and almost a third time before a local surfer took pity on me, coached me on when to leave the sand, and gave me a little push.  I was already exhausted.  A string of turtle rolls under a few handfuls of breaking waves and paddling out any further became impossible.   A failed attempt at a wave and I headed in… not after getting plummeted by a set of crashing waves right at the sand as the undertow pulled me out each time for me to surface under another crest.

I managed to stand on solid, sinking, saturated ground, hoping my bathing suit was still in tact but too afraid to look and instead scanned the beach occupants only to find pity and worry in the eyes of everyone on the shore watching me and giving me the impression that had not been a pretty sight as I drug my 9 foot, foam, disaster of a board out of the water, stomping my feet, cursing under my breath.

Only thirty minutes of having the board and I walked up to the board stand sand-bathed, fin scratched, exhausted, and highly irritated,”Is everything okay,” they asked me as I walked up – legitimate concern in their eyes, on their face, and in their voice.  “No, everything is not alright.  This board doesn’t surf.”  I dropped off the board and walked away with as much pride as I could muster.

But the beauty that saved the afternoon was Ariel was successful.

So we surfed and then we found a bench seat in the shade at the beach bar, soaked in the experience, and I simultaneously found the bravery needed to get back on to the scooter to make it back to The Chillhouse.

I breathed a sigh of relief as we pulled up and parked, everyone at reception clapped and smiled in response to my victory of making it back unscathed.

We took the rest of the afternoon to clean up, rest, and cool off.  Knowing we had the scooter until the next morning prompted a spontaneous trip back to the beach to watch the sunset.

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I remember when I was young my parents took a trip to see one of their friends, they visited the beach and wrote, “Hi Sam” in the sand and took a picture of it to give to me when they came back home.  I don’t remember what inspired the photo or the details of the trip – but it is one of my favorites from my childhood.  And.  Well.  Recreating photos is all the rage right now.

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The second trip on the scooter was a little easier and a little more enjoyable.  The sunset was fantastic.  We made it back and ended another night around a community dinner table with France, Germany, Holland, Sweden, England, and Australia recounting our day and being just the way the day made us.

It’s a pattern – a chatty entry and a then picturey entry.  So that means you know what is next…  Come back for a recount of a definite day of highlights with a ten hour trip to Ubud that includes monkeys… lots of them.

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day after Nyepi

As promised, less chatter this time and more photos.

The day after Neypi we left the front gates of The Chillhouse for the first time in over 24 hours.  Nothing had changed, except we felt well rested and the small streets were littered with the aftermath of the Ogoh Ogoh creation and then their ultimate destruction.  Well, if you are Hindu, you could possibly say the air was cleaner and safer as the evil spirits had been frightened away and hopefully would not find their way back until… actually – that part was never described to us, just that offerings were given to Gods daily in order to keep their personal space, home, and temples evil-spirit-free for when they do eventually find their way back to the island.

If I haven’t mentioned how undeniably hot and humid this island is, now is a good time to – and it will probably be mentioned again.  The air is THICK.  I’ve been to many carribean locations and even Fiji.  It is nothing like Indonesia.  Taking a deep breath is hard because you’re breathing in water/air mixture.  This fact is important this day for two reasons, 1. my sister is half way through her third pregnancy, a pregnancy that she will admit is not treating her very well physically and 2. we peddle biked nearly two miles (1.7miles to be exact, I google mapped it) one way in that heat and humidity on free bikes that had not been serviced their entire life, were on their last leg as far as breaks go, and had exactly one (count it, one) gear to work with.

But we made it, and when we did, it was mid day, and we finally saw exactly why surfers from all over the world come here to conquer the waves.  It wasn’t like any beach I’ve ever visited (causally walk across the sand, looking for shells, catch a small wave or two, and maybe body board or skim).  The waves were rough and tall and I knew my skills were no match for them, but Ariel couldn’t wait to get out there.  She missed out that day, she wasn’t feeling well – being with child and all – but she was excited for the first morning she could.

The waves were crowded with surf students from every surf school in the area.

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It was really high tide so we were witness to run away surf boards and gear on not one but two occasions.

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So instead of surfing, we did the best we could with just being in the water without a board, people watched, bought some bracelets from a couple of ladies peddling hand made jewelry, and scoped out the beach side scene which just included some snacks, drinks, toys, and of course board rentals.

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After about an hour, we made our way back, slowly but surely in the even hotter heat.  Half way back we stopped at a Mexican restaurant for a break, a cold drink, and shade.  Effects of which didn’t last long once we got back on our bikes and muscled the rest of the way back to The Chillhouse.  The rest of the day we discovered a long needed nap, swim in the pool, cold drinks, and a very strange sun burn that I had obtained on the outside of my knees and the lower half of my forearms and tops of my hands.  The struggle is real for us pale skinned freckle faced sun burners.


Don’t stay away too long, next post: a girl who hasn’t ever ridden a scooter, scooters all over town (remember the traffic videos from post one?), and an unexpected low tide sunrise.  Hopefully my pregnant sister will give us some good guest writing material too, because while I was focused on not killing us in Balinese traffic on a scooter – she was passenger to it all.

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i interrupted some nookie this morning; arachnophobia sufferers: Do Not Proceed…

But, really… is anyone honestly afraid of Daddy Long Legs?  They can’t bite you, they don’t bother you, and really they protect you from other spiders (or so my mother has told me since I was old enough to be afraid of all creepy crawlies in general).  I don’t consider them real spiders, even though my heart still falls a bit every time I see one; but then my rational brain kicks in and ignores them.  In fact I saw one in my house the other day, I just pretended I didn’t notice him and went about my afternoon.

By no means do I claim to be a nature photographer.  But I saw these two on my porch and just had to capture the moment.  So ignore the fact that the focus is slightly (mostly) off the insects (but look at the weave of the grill cover… perfection!!) and just get in a little nature channel type education for your morning entertainment.

Let me just say: this was difficult.  Lets go back to the point that I do not like spiders.  That being said, I will kill them if they are in my house, even with my hands if I can’t find anything to crush them with fast enough to get them before the escape, (the trick is to be quick, swift, fearless, and have a fierce landing).  So I can’t say I am an arachnophobe, by any means, but I had a 100mm macro lens on my camera body and it took me about 50 photos and about 15 minutes to get close enough to get these shots, and they still aren’t perfect.  (I’m really sorry to all who are cringing and hating on me because I just admitted to killing “other living beings”… it’s just bugs, not even all of them – mostly just the ones in my home and the harmful ones, I promise.)

Secondly, I was under the impression my lens had captured the insects perfectly.  Uploading them I see it mostly captured the grill cover.  It’s okay.  It’ll do.  People… animals… trees all much easier… most of the time.

I knew by the way they were spinning that 16 legged web that something was going down, but I had no idea what I was looking at until I uploaded the photos and imported them to my software.  It’s pretty amazing. I’m not going to try to narrate because the photos tell a good storyline, but just the fact that I was looking at them through the camera and had no idea the details until I actually looked at the photos is pretty incredible.

I think about the nature/science of this and I’m proud of these shots.  Then I really think about it and I kinda feel like a Peeping Tom.

*Photo quality degraded for social media use.

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a baby shower…

This month I co-hosted a baby shower/diaper party.  It was small and simple and over all a success except for a minor wardrobe issue I had that was quickly solved by rummaging through the closet of the mom-to-be.  (uh… oh yeah,  I have yet to return that).

In case you missed it, here’s a short recap.

The party had three hosts really, to include Charlie here.  Dashing isn’t he?  Very stoic.  I’m sure he thought everyone was there to see him though, I doubt he cares much about the arriving baby at the moment.

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 10.01.39 PMThe food was good, the company was good, the weather was beautiful, and drinks a plenty.  But the piece de resistance was surely this handcrafted cake, made by none other than my extremely talented cousin, Melissa Wallace of Tasty Memories out of Macomb, Michigan.  (Have any cake needs coming up?  Contact me for her contact information, she is wonderful…)  You can’t see it here, but the giraffe was wearing a diaper.  The cake flavor, you ask?  Funfetti!!  Only the best.

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 10.04.35 PMThe guys did their thing, beer and cigars were definitely involved.  We did force them to play a game with us, which was pretty much the best thing ever.  This was a pretty fun game actually; a short and sweet relay called Tinkle in the Pot.  (Want how-to details? Just ask).  Here’s mommy and daddy playing along… no, your eyes are not deceiving you, daddy IS pregnant.

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At the end of the day a group of mommy and daddy’s closest friends joined together to support them in their up coming adventure via good company, well wishes, gifts, diapers, laughs, fun, memories, and love.  From beginning to end it was chaos, a lot of work, but well worth it.  We couldn’t have pulled it off without a handful of amazing people whom all helped to organize the mess of a plan I had written in my head.  I’m sure I amped the anxiety and stress levels on my own with my ocd-ness slash perfectionist tendencies.  Either way… Go Team Suki!

Here are the ladies that attended the girls-only portion of the party (actually, it was very co-ed, mingling type of atmosphere… but I think we used up our requests for participation from the guys with the game we made them play.  Asking them to take a photo would have definitely been pushing it.)

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Stay tuned for the maternity shoot for the parents-to-be (have I used that phrase too many times?  What else do you call them?) coming soon, right before the baby is born, when mom is popping like bubble yum.

**Note:  Photo quality is degraded for blog post purposes.  Want a print?  Contact me!



a girl with curls… and legs

What else better to do bright-and-early on a Sunday morning but a photo shoot in downtown Ann Arbor on an overcast, breezy day?  Nothing.

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My model for the day… Annie – a girl with curls down to Georgia and Legs up to Rhode Island.  We started in my favorite spot in Ann Arbor – Graffiti Alley.

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Everything she put on looked perfect and every new spot we stopped at we took a million photos – the culling of these has already proven difficult.

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If I were this photogenic I’d take more selfies than all of today’s teenager’s combined…

an impromptu shoot on an impromptu summer’s day

We’ve all been asking ourselves (and each other) why summer hasn’t shown up in Michigan.  Not because time is fleeting by so quickly (uhm, well, that’s always a complaint) but because the weather hasn’t really been acting like it’s the beginning of August.  I think Mother Nature is mad at us, she’s definitely holding a grudge or something.

So me with my dogs and my my neighbor with her son took advantage of a day this week when the weather was actually worthy to be apart of the summer season.  We decided to get all spontaneous and crazy – out came the hose.  Oh boy, did little boy E love it so much.  It was a little bit of medicine-fun for him as he has been teething recently and not feeling so hot… hopefully Mother Nature will forgive us for the little bit of wasted water because it went to a good cause.

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Bonus:  I’ve been dealing with a creativity block recently, sometimes it just takes running with a simple idea to remind yourself you’ve still got it and to help with the process of getting back on track.

a little beach wedding…

I’ve lived in Michigan since summer 2005.  I’ve never been in love with any part of it as much as I’ve longed for the oceanic beaches of the East Coast (or St. John USVI).  When I was asked to shoot (my very first!!) wedding this summer in Harrisville, I had no idea I would be staring at Michigan’s East Coast so lustfully.  Close your eyes, clear your mind, then gaze out at the shoreline and you’d swear you were in the Outer Banks of North Carolina (or even sitting in the sands of Cinnamon Bay).

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It was a little beach wedding.  The sunshine was intense but the temperature was perfect with the breeze coming off the lake.  The water was so very blue… but icy cold (as rumored by the children who attempted a post-ceremony swim).  The bride and groom planned a simple day for their festivities.  Fifty of their closest friends and family members, slow cooked bbq, a help-yourself drink cart, picnic tables, a gift wheelbarrow, and pie. Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 3.58.18 PM       Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 3.58.31 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 3.59.03 PM     Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 3.58.48 PM The details fell together nicely.  A bouquet full of memories. A little white dress that looked oh so beautiful contrasted next to the groom’s blue collard button up and tan beach shorts.  The bride was surrounded by a lifetime of girlfriends as she prepped herself for the big afternoon; the groom by his best man and the bride’s sons (who were actually the “bridesmaids”).
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And I know this day is all about the newly wedded but I just couldn’t help but silently fawn over the guest of honor, the groom’s mother, who exuded so much beauty and grace that she reminded me so much of my own great grandmother (whom we recently lost).  I just wanted to smother her with affection and listen to her life’s story.  I told her she was beautiful and the camera loved her.  She smiled in appreciation and then chuckled at my forwardness. Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 3.42.36 PMThe day was filled with smiles, laughs, happiness, and love – so much so I’m having a hard time narrowing down the photo quantity as I cull the images.

When I document a day such as this one, I try to remember the moment certain photos are associated with, like the one below.  Alas, for the life of me I can’t remember why she is smiling or why he is smirking – but the photo definitely tells a story.  And if there is one thing that we can all learn from a wedding day it is to smile, smirk, laugh, and love so much more.  The details are details and may dissipate,  but if we remember the bigger picture as being a happy one, well… I guess that’s all we can ask for. Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 2.22.18 PM