The Philippines – Siquijor Island

We recently came home from visiting what must be one of the world’s best kept secrets. This was our first time traveling to the Philippines (my first time traveling at all for pleasure, all my other trips had been for work) but it definitely won’t be the last! Obviously with so many islands, YMMV, etc. etc., as the Philippines also has crazy, bustling cities like Manila and smaller but still overwhelmingly busy towns like Dumaguete (probably not normally so busy, but it was the day before elections when we stayed there and WOW).

We rented this house off Air BnB (also our first time using them) and it was fantastic. Right on the beach, quiet, everything we wanted. It was the most beautiful place I’d ever been…the entire island, not just that spot.

IMG_2648This is their version of a taxi, simply called a tricycle…they’re everywhere! And usually with 5-7 people on them. It was awesome. ๐Ÿ˜€

IMG_2655We went from Dumaguete to Siquijor in this, a canoe with a motor stuck somewhere in the back. 22 miles across the ocean. In a canoe, with the long horizontal boards tied together with plastic. O_O I felt SO adventurous.

IMG_2660This was the sunset that greeted us the first night we were there. I had truly never seen anything like it.

IMG_2665The Baja Ba’r was a short walk through a lovely garden from the house, where we had amazing food, drinks, and conversation with both locals and expats. The food was unparalleled, and they couldn’t have nicer people working there. Oh, and definitely try the Baja Special (the big orange drink there)…7 different liquors. It will knock you on your ass but in the best way possible!

DSCN0623The beaches were beautiful…lots of rocks just a little ways out.

DSCN0625Look how clear the water is! It stayed that way too…crazy. And stunning.

DSCN0642We visited an old Catholic church built some time in the 1700s.

DSCN0663aMy absolute, hands down favorite part of the entire trip – I could have spent every day here, or at least PART of every day! Cambugahay Falls.

DSCN0667Yes, the water really is that color.

DSCN0671And clear.


DSCN0653Oh yeah. Of course, being me…there was this tree. This gorgeous, ancient, amazing tree. I could have stayed here all day too, except it was SUPER hot and I was turning lobster.

I have tons more pictures (we took 507), but I will leave you with this video. It’s about 11 minutes long, but I couldn’t bear to cut any more out! This place was so amazing and we created some incredible memories.


The Wheel Turns

I love this time of year. This time and spring makes me feel the most connected with history, both my own personal history and the history of the world. I like the old traditions of Halloween, or Samhain as my Irish and Scottish ancestors probably would have called it. All the modern day gore and zombies aren’t what I love about the season. It’s the idea of the thinning of the veil, of our loved ones perhaps being able to see us or maaaaaybe even communicate with us that pulls me. My dear grandfather passed near this time, on October 6, 12 years ago, so perhaps that has something to do with it. Every October, I miss him and wish I could talk to him, even once more.

Samhain also seems to be my time to finish things. Around this time I feel a huge push to get things done, largely because I want to start new ones. But I really think there’s a desire for closure that pushes me too. Anyway, here is my large finish for this year’s Halloween season.

Halloween Sampler 2015

I’ll get some better pictures once it’s framed, but I’m so damn proud of it. It won’t hang on the wall this year, but definitely next. My husband even likes it and kept asking me if it was going to be done on time. I’d pick up another project and he would ask if it was finished. All kinds of motivation there!

Hope you all have a very happy, blessed Samhain.

Make It Simple

I think I might have found my focus for this year: simplification.

Consolidating and reducing bills, reducing environmental footprint, and turning my outside-of-work interests into something profitable (not just something I spend all my spare money on). Been thinking a lot on that one. So between knitting, sewing, hiking, and gardening…well, all those things have one common thread – they all demand lots of photographs. Maybe I’m the only one that can make that connection, but there it is. I’ve been addicted to taking photos since I was a teenager (maybe before, but that was when someone gave me a digital camera and suddenly I could take as many pictures as my little heart desired). I’m still very much an amateur, but I have a few photos I’ve taken that inspire me and I hope share my love of beauty and the earth with others.

That said, I’ve opened a Redbubble shop. Bent Needle Photography will be slowly updated as I have more shots I think are print-worthy. Photos are available on greeting cards/postcards, and as photographic or canvas prints. While eventually I hope to have a stock of professionally printed photos in a gallery setup, Redbubble is an easy and low-cost outlay and satisfied my need to do something now.

In other news, I’ve been knitting as though my life depended on it. At least my sanity does, at this point.

No Garden For You

There will be no garden for me this year. I am beyond sad and it’s really depressing me. The community garden will not work out, last year it was really hard to keep it up due to it being a bit out of the way and the work schedule just made it harder. This year it is REALLY out of the way and the work schedule looks even worse.

I am just…really sad. Really, really sad.

A Walk in the Park

It was very gray and rainy today. The pictures aren’t great, but they were taking whilst walking and trying to look inconspicuous. I really like living so close to the Greenway here, it’s probably the best place we’ve lived for having an escape (well, a semi-escape) from the city noise. I should have gone for a walk when there was still snow on the ground, it would have been a lot prettier!

A train loaded with coal.

Roanoke River. Very low, mostly clear, but with depressing amounts of trash scattered throughout.


Maybe it’s mostly clear because it IS so low right now.

More river.

You can just barely see the Roanoke Star on the left of the hill.

Someone had left several of these little nut/seed caches under trees in the park. I attracted the attention of several runners as I circled the various trees and took pictures of, apparently, the ground. Haha!

“And if the birds find shelter here, why not I?”

You can just barely see my little squirrely friend (had to crop and crop again), but I was afraid I’d scare him off if I got any closer.









I seem to have needed more than usual this month. I apologize for the lack of posts, but honestly I haven’t been doing much worth telling, just trying to stay afloat. For me that means lots of “turtle time,” lots of time spent trying to make things. More on those projects later, but for now just a few pictures.

The snow we finally got! This was the morning after.

Getting stuck on the highway in it for 4-5 hours wasn’t so pretty, but it was somewhat entertaining. You learn a lot about your coworkers when you have to share a stopped vehicle with them for hours.

New fish! A bristlenose pleco juvenile, gender yet undetermined.

The kitten-turned juvenile with a biting problem that’s about to drive me bananas. Don’t let the innocent expression fool you.

But then he does stuff like fall asleep in my lap and touch my nose with his paw, and I can forgive him.

New Year, New Ideas

Some goals for this year, because I remember them better if they’re somewhat public. ๐Ÿ˜›

– Obtain passport.
– Take either a wilderness EMT, backpacking skills, or land navigation class. Depends on which is nearer/more affordable.
– Go to an outdoor rock-climbing clinic.
– Go hanggliding.
– Pay off something. Credit card, car loan, something.
– Change jobs to something with steady hours.
– Enter a photography contest.
– Take at least one, 1-night hiking trip.

I really tried to keep these in the obtainable range. I don’t like setting myself up for failure. We’ll see how it goes!

Yule Fail?

I feel like I really kind of failed at Yule this year. I think it’s compounded by the fact that I still feel like I’m waiting for the season to get here, since the image in my blog header is more accurate of our weather than one like this:

photo by DWinton on Flickr

I know I’m in the minority, or so it seems, but I genuinely like snow and am really bummed that the weather is so uncooperative right now. I’m also feeling a bit sad for all the living creatures out in nature right now. I’m not the only one confused.

from Margaret Roach at A Way To Garden

The changes in climate are really affecting all the plants and animals as the usual cycles don’t take place. What about all the fruit trees?

Anyway, this post was supposed to be about Yule. While we don’t participate in the massively stupid competition that many like to make out of presents, I do usually like to give people I’m close to some nice little “I thought of you” type gifts. I also like to send out a card/letter. Welp. This year everything sort of snuck up on me and none of that got done. I did get a few gifts for a few people, and I’m hoping to bake a few goodies to give to a few others, maybe on Christmas Eve. But as far as the gifts that I wanted to make for people? Nada. I feel sad, but at the same time I just honestly didn’t. have. time. The last two weeks I’ve basically been running on the wheel of sleep, work, eat, repeat.

Besides all that, I feel very awkward at this time of year because most everyone is celebrating on December 25th, when I really feel like the real holiday is the 21st and anything after is a continuation. I am ecstatic that tomorrow is the darkest day of the year. I mean, really. Yule is a celebration of light to me, and if I had lots of time and imagination my entire apartment would be lit up with all kinds of candles and lights – and yes, I love driving around and looking at people’s houses all decorated (minus the godawful blow-up things). I am so happy when the “days” start getting longer. The cycle of the year is a beautiful thing, but there are definitely times I like more than others. The stretch between Halloween and Christmas always feels the longest and most dreary to me.

So, since I didn’t get much done in way of celebrating this year, I’m sitting here pondering what I could do for next year. Some ideas:

Pick a tree in a local park to decorate. We have a fake tree in our apartment, because cutting down a live tree to bring in for a few days just makes me sad. Obviously the decorations would have to be either biodegradable or useful for the birds or something.
Write the “Christmas letter” right after Halloween. I thought of it first then, decided it was too early, and then it never got done. If my brain thinks that’s when it should be written, then I should have done it. Maybe I’ll still get to a “New Year’s” kind of letter, who knows.
Pick a non-profit to donate a nice chunk of cash to, and send announcements to friends (maybe with the letter?) that we chose to give to people who desperately needed basic necessities rather than contributing to the re-gifting pile at their house. Yes, yes, I know. I hear the cries of “But that’s so tacky!” already. But honestly, I’ve thought of doing this for years and I think I’ve just finally had enough. So sick of the materialism that surrounds this holiday in our country that I’m just ready to say screw it all.
Sit down right after Halloween and pick out a few recipes for cakes and cookies, and people I’d like to send them to. Yes, I mail food. Have you ever received a package of homemade goodies from friends hundreds of miles away? No matter how crumbly the cookies are, they still taste a thousand times better than anything you’ve eaten before.
Have a Yule bonfire. I don’t know how likely this is, but I so want a huge, roaring, leaping bonfire surrounded by friends holding candles. In the snow, preferably, but I’m not convinced that’s going to happen around here.

So there’s my ideas for next year. For this year, we’re preparing to drive to Alabama to see family so I’ll probably be incommunicado for a few days. A very blessed Yule to you all!

UFO Sunday

Well, considering I only had Sunday off this week, I’d say I got a respectable amount done.

The Little Miss quilt is half quilted.

I’m doing simple crosshatch quilting. It just seemed to match the best. And that was all done yesterday (Sunday) so I’m quite pleased. Another couple hours and the quilting should be done, then just to bind, wash, and gift!

This is the other UFO that’s been sitting in our main room for awhile.

Until yesterday, it was just an empty, dry tank sitting there while I slowly accumulated all the equipment needed to start up the aquarium. I have everything but the buckets and fish now, so I’ve started the cycling process. I’m using this tutorial on fishless cycling. I really don’t want to risk killing any fish, which I would undoubtedly do in my total newbie state of knowledge.

My other half and best friend both said that, well, duh, of course my fish tank needs a castle. So a castle it is. I’m working on getting some plants (because it also wouldn’t be my fish tank without real plants) but the store I was at last night didn’t have what I wanted and of course, it was Sunday so the other one was closed before I could get there. I shall update periodically on the status of the tank…I find the whole process extremely interesting and have been reading almost everything I can get my hands on. Can’t wait to actually have some inhabitants but I want to get the water in good condition first.