Category Archives: Images of Fauna

Fifty, Forget-Me-Nots and Joa Jerboa

jerboa, character, cartoon, illustration Introducing Joa Jerboa, a friendly, kind and adventurous critter

It’s a week away from my fiftieth birthday so it’s been a time of reflecting on years gone by, appreciating what I have in my life and planning for things I’d still like to do.

With my 50th looming I had one specific goal to achieve before then – which was to publish a self illustrated picture book. So on that subject, I would like to introduce you to the lead character of my recently e-published picture book – Joa Jerboa. I wanted a character that was African, friendly, kind, adventurous and that mixed raced kids like my own could connect with so Joa was born. Joa has her own unique style and like the typical jerboa looks like a mixture of a mouse and a kangaroo. What makes her unique is the addition of a magical tail which has a story of its own.

The picture book is called “Days of the Week with Joa Jerboa” and is now on sale in the Kindle Store on Amazon. The rhyming story was originally written while we were in the United Kingdom when my son was little and learning to read and I then posted a narrated video on YouTube just using some free clipart to illustrate it. It had always been my plan to illustrate it myself one day and with my early birthday gift of an XP-PEN drawing tablet from my husband that plan reached fruition today!

A closer look at the cover art on the picture book reveals the little blue flowers inspired by Forget Me Nots. One does not reach this age without experiencing highs and lows and lately there seem to be more of the latter. My thoughts have turned to those I’ve loved but who are no longer around to celebrate this milestone with me – like my parents.

Whenever I look at Forget-Me-Nots my thoughts go to those who have passed on and I whisper a prayer acknowledging what they meant to me. It’s no surprise that Forget Me Nots are associated with remembrance but interestingly their genus is Myosotis derived from the ancient greek word for “mouse’s ear” because of the shape of their leaves.

flowers, forget me nots, photography, macro Forget Me Nots by Vanessa Thomas

It is therefore apt that Forget Me Nots are scattered throughout the picture book published in my fiftieth year of existence and paying homage to all those past and present, near and far, who make my life more meaningful, purposeful and beautiful.

Today is a gift, and I celebrate the joy of surviving planet earth for half a century. Tomorrow is not guaranteed so today I hope you dance with your being and hold those you love close in your heart. There is no time like the present to be kind to yourself, to honor your journey and what you’ve overcome and to keep on making your ruckus!

 

Fables and Flora and TEDx

Passion for the things we love can take us many places. My love of flowers led me to photography which has taken me on journey of wonder and discovery and recently led me to the stage at TEDx Emerald Glen Park.

Butterflies in the Poppies:

Butterflies in Poppies Watercolor

My passions for storytelling, community and all things floral collided in a blissful moment that urged me to encourage others to follow the paths where they seek to make a difference.

If you’re waiting for a sign to take a leap out of your comfort zone then please take a moment to view my TEDx Talk – Community, Connection and the Art of Storytelling.

It’s not for everyone but it might just be for you.

PS: Flowers at the TEDx Event:

TEDx flowers pincushion

Amazing that it included a pincushion bloom from the Western Cape in South Africa! Stocks symbolize a happy life and contented existence. Orange roses represent enthusiasm, passion and gratitude. The Feverfew daisy-like flowers are a medicinal plant for treating headaches so this is a perfect TEDx bouquet!

Happy Earth Day!

 

A garden of Zinnias

Northern California got some rain yesterday and the garden loved it! The broody cloud cover just before the rain was an ideal time to admire the zinnia garden and take a few photos. Admiring their vibrant colors and eye-catching display I was reminded of this quote : “So plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.” Jorge Luis Borges

Photo 1: Zinnias and Lavender

zinnia-garden-5

Photo 2: Cascade of color

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Photo 3: Striking beauty

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Photo 4: Pink Zinnia gathering

zinnias-pink-wall

 

Something Foxy for Mother’s Day – blooms still say it best!

Happy Mother’s Day! Mother’s day is usually brimming with pretty pink things and loads of gorgeous blooms. Lately I’ve heard advertisers pushing the “let’s  give Mom something more long lasting than flowers” line. I love gifts – who doesn’t? What they fail to realize though is that there is infinite joy in the moment of receiving a beautiful bloom – whether it’s in elegant and sophistically wrapped bunches or a posey of wild flowers!

Photo 1: A foxglove from my neighbor’s garden

Foxglove pink.jpg

Yes flowers are fragile and have a defined life span but so do we and there is beauty in that too and an opportunity to take a moment to reflect and be grateful for the magnificent way we are constructed and how wonderfully we are made!

Photo 2: Foxy pink Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea), pretty and poisonous

Foxglove 2

Wishing all Moms a fabulously florally Mother’s Day!

Shooting and Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is a useful skill and it requires paying careful attention to your surroundings. Since we were Bond movie fans as kids my brother often used to tell me to “Pay attention 007″ and I even use it on my kids now too.

Photo 1: Bee and Horse Chestnut flowers

Bee on Horse Chestnurt 2

In the Bond movies Q (the Quartermaster) famously says to James Bond “Now pay attention 007″. It’s remarkable how scenes and lines from movies spring to mind in various situations. I am usually so involved in my lists that I don’t pay attention to much else happening around me unless I have my camera in hand.

My camera increases my mindfulness since it focuses my attention. When I walk or even drive somewhere I often remember the locations of a particular flower or tree in bloom.Intention gives focus which in turn makes one more mindful.

The busyness of life and our emphasis on the next task does not usually allow this attention to permeate our days.

Photo 2: Butterfly on ThistleThistle butterfly 2

I know that it can be learnt to a certain extent because when I have my camera I scan for interesting details all the time. It’s also interesting though that sometimes when I am shooting a particular bloom I shut out everything else around me. Not always a good thing when you’re taking photographs in the woods so tuning in the other peripheral senses at those times is useful.

The more attention you pay the better your situational awareness will be. It seems as with most other types of learning, the more you practice, the better you become.

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