Using Google Photos – One of my Favorite Tools for Blogging

Can I just tell you how much I love Google Photos? The tool makes my blogging life so much easier. In my last post, I highlighted some of my favorite pics of my husband from this past year. Know how long it took me to find those photos?

About two minutes.

To use Google Photos you sign up for a Google account. Then you download the app onto your mobile device. It’s in the Google Play Store for Androids and the iTunes App store for iPhones.

When your images show up in the app, you can sync them to your account so you can access them in a browser. Or share the images with friends, or send it to WordPress so you can create a blog post on-the-spot-using the WordPress app. Here is a screencast from my iPhone showing how it works:

You can also change it so the images auto-sync in your app settings.

Once the images are in my computer browser, I can play away. For instance, I can choose a date to find images from the past or I can search a person or a location. I can even use the tool to fine-tune my results as seen in this screencast:

For yesterday’s post, I searched for images of Chris then focused on the past year. When I picked out my favorites and clicked on the dots on each image to select it, I downloaded them and dragged them in to my WordPress media library. Then I used the /Classic block>Add Image>Create Gallery options to show the mosaic.

I’ll leave those images I quickly, randomly chose because they kind of make me giggle 🙂 Especially that one of Hudi in the goggles, right after the word “Laugh.”

Other benefits of Google Photos:

1. When I go on a trip, it marks my locations and when I get home, it notifies me of a “book” it made of my travels, using its algorithms to find the perfect pics of the visit away. That saves me tons of time.

2. It auto-enhances images and offers the changed shots as suggestions. Sometimes the results are stunning. If not, it’s easy enough to delete the suggestion.

3. It’s great from creating albums to share privately with people. This is really nice when we record dance class clips or want to share certain images with friends that, and we don’t feel like emailing or Drop Box-ing. Select the photos then choose to create a private album and share then type in their email address. That’s all there is to it!

If any of you have any other tools or tricks to suggest, I’d love to hear in the comments. For me? Well, I’m off to go back to my images and take a trip down memory lane. The images are making me happy.

A Tale of a Turtle

This post is for those who want to take a step back from the chaos of life to view a slow-moving beautiful story. Of course, calling it a story at all is a bit grandiose of me. It’s how my mind perceived it. But here is the simple tale I saw.

Once upon a time there was a turtle. This turtle was on a quest. All its life it wanted to be a rock, and on this particular day, it was determined to find the best place to become a rock. Legend told that it would have to navigate under the bridge of the great unknown before it could become the perfect rock. So it set off toward the bridge.

After making it past the bridge the turtle had a few choices. It could follow its dream to become a rock, make friends with little fish around it, eat said fish, or meet other turtle buddies. For a few minutes, it hesitated. Then it continued on its quest.

When it found the perfect spot, the turtle ducked its head under and let its shell rise in a true rock formation — the epitome of its dream of rock stardom. But all was not simple. In the same arena there was another turtle determined to find a friend with whom to play.

There was Another Turtle Looking for a Friend

But our turtle was a determined sort of soul. It could camouflage and camouflage well, and by golly, it was meant to be a rock. So a rock it was.


Camo turtle
Camo turtle


Meanwhile the social turtle finds our rock star and tries to engage in some play.


It’s not meant to be, however. Sometimes a turtle just needs a bit of its own space. After a minute of “hey, just so you know…I’m here for ya, buddy…” the other turtle goes on its way. Surrounded by fish friends.

Social Turtle Leaves to Find New Adventures

I see two endings for this. Take your pick depending on your mood:

  1. And they all lived happily ever after.
  2. A Simon and Garfunkel connection:

I am a rock, I am an island. I am shielded in my armor, Hiding in my room, safe within my womb. I touch no one and no one touches me. I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain; And an island never cries.

https://www.lyricsfreak.com/p/paul+simon/i+am+a+rock_20262017.html

 

Turtles, Flowers, Sand Owls and Friends

Jen wanted to learn more about animals and the trails that they leave. I had to admit, I was curious as well. So on our last full day on Marco Island, Mary Beth took us on a local nature tour. In the pics below she showed us some turtle nests, turtle footprints, and how to identify turtle scat.

 

As we traipsed through the community, I was drawn to the different beautiful flowers. I don’t know what any of them are. If you do, feel free to let me know in the comments, and I will label them 🙂

Updating as we go along. Wendy identified Vinca (the single white flower) and Bougainvillea (the purple ones).Thanks for that! I remembered the Papaya after I wrote this.

We walked back to the house and checked out an empty osprey nest on the property.

old nest and moss

 

I also learned about a cool tree that Native Americans used to paralyze fish. The bark has paralyzing qualities apparently.

fish killer tree

 

After checking that all out, we hopped into the car to drive a few miles away. A special treat lay there as we checked out squared-off protected areas, which contained sand owl homes.

 

Doesn’t look like much, does it? But the owls are sooooo cute! They come out of the ground at night. I know because we came back after dark and saw them.

IMG_20160404_210104866

Here is a very horrible picture of one since my phone camera isn’t so great at night. Better images are found here.

Now here is a funny scene we saw as we were driving around. We saw two turtles hanging in a yard lot. One moved in font of another and started kicking sand back on the other. For about two minutes, that turtle seemed un-fazed, then it retaliated. It started shell-bonking the first turtle! Quite funny to watch. I clipped the video so you can see just the bonking part, instead of having to wait.

So funny.

As the day wound to a close, we ate grouper and snapper at a local joint (delicious!). Some followed that with gelato.

Smooth Sails on Sunday

 

A week-and-a-half late on this one, but better late than never. My favorite part is the end 🙂

It was very windy that Sunday, but we were determined to go fishing again since time was running out on our trip. So we hit the backwaters.

It really wasn’t a very successful day for fishing dinner-wise, but we still had a lot of fun. Highlights of the day included seeing some sea turtles in the distance. According to Mary Beth, that’s a pretty unusual sight for those backwaters. I didn’t get any good pictures since we kept seeing their heads but not much else, and they were quick with diving back down. We think there were two of them, but it might have been one — playing tricks on us.

Another highlight of the day was brainstorming with Jen about possibilities for her next book, now that Been There Done That is complete.

We caught several fish, but after measuring them, had to throw them all back since they were to small. Oh well.

On the way back to the house, we had a treat. A pod of dolphins decided to play in our wake.

 

Bobcats, Panthers, Tigers and Coons

I didn’t see the bobcat that was kitty-corner (see what I did there?) to the house we stayed in, but Mary Beth and Mike saw its tail as it headed into the bushes away from us. So I think that counts. Mary Beth regaled us with tales of other sightings in her neighborhood–down by the docks and right in her own driveway as she gardened. So cool!

On Saturday we decided to head to the sanctuary where a woman had been surprised by a panther a few weeks prior.

As we headed out, we stopped off to meet Cal (short for Calusa) on the way. Jen and I have heard a lot about Mary Beth’s horse over the years so it was a treat meeting him live. And what a beauty he is!

Jen MB and Cal

 

So we didn’t see the panther, either, but saw a ton of other awesome wildlife specimens along the way.

I was reminded of the limitations of my cell phone camera when I realized that my pics of several birds, great frogs, a huge alligator, a smaller alligator, a lizard, and a huge snake didn’t come out. But the beauty is still there in my mind.

I did, however, get a pic I love. Why is it that raccoons are so adorable in the wild, and not-so-much when they are in your garbage can at home?

Coon babies

Chris, being the goof-ball he is (I saw completely endearingly ‘cuz I love that man!) “rescued” sunglasses from the swamp and an alligator. The alligator became a group effort, as you can see in the clip below. Later, he gave it to some kids, and they happily clacked it ahead of us, scaring off pretty much all wildlife for a while 🙂 But their smiles were worth it.

Chris got Alligator

We were enjoying nature so much it took us about three hours to walk about a mile. We had to hurry through the last bit since they were closing. Ah well, it was still amazing.

Mary Beth mentioned several times that you don’t need much imagination to fabricate stories in Florida. Apparently bizarre things happen all the time. We witnessed this as we were going down the road. I looked out the car window to find myself almost face-to-face with a tiger. That was a bit startling, and definitely very cool. The tiger seemed very relaxed and happy on its perch.

Eventually we parted ways on the highway, and we continued into the main part of Marco for some dinner at the Snook Inn. There was a 45 minute wait so we yakked on the dock. Remind me to never put my back to the water again. I felt a splash and heard the sound of a pretty big animal. We searched for it, and my friends saw a tail a bit off shore. I had been splashed by a manatee, but never saw it. What a treasure I missed! But still fun to know it was there.

I had a grouper sandwich for dinner and loved it. I don’t know why I suddenly like seafood after 44 years, but I’m just thankful. Perhaps it’s because I’ve realized it’s a bit like wine. Every bite has a fun story behind it, and each nibble is unique. Flavors and textures swirl around the mouth and tongue making every morsel a new adventure. How have I missed out on this so long?

  • If you love nature you might want to see the extended version of the coon watching –