Blood Moon

I climbed out of bed around 11:30 last night and for the next hour fought off mosquitos, listened as creatures of the night moved in the scrub near me, and basked in the increasingly red glow of the moon as it went through a total lunar eclipse.

Was it worth getting up in the middle of my night for? Absolutely!

There are many wonderful pieces of this universe that just scream out to be noticed and I am so glad I got to witness this little one.

When you feel highly flawed as a person or a photographer, like I do, you always wonder if your pics are going to do it justice. So I was pleasantly surprised that the shots showed what I wanted them to.

I have attached a few pics showing the transition to total eclipse at the end of the blog. Hope you enjoy!

As I went back home and climbed back into bed to resume where I had left off in my dreams, there was a lovely sense of accomplishment attached to what I had just done.

There was also a lovely feeling of insignificance as I lay my head on the pillow and realized that no matter how big any one of us thinks we are, in the grand scheme of things we are insignificant.

And in an instance like this, that is not a bad thing.

We all seek significance. We seek relevance. And when speaking in terms of how we affect those around us, those are good goals to have.

But it is also important to remind ourselves every now and then that the universe doesn’t even know we exist. And when we are gone, the universe will be the exact same without us.

Thus our perspective of what is important is skewed inasmuch as we worry about things and reach for things that are largely irrelevant.

Yes, indeed, there are things to worry about and we need to give them the weight that they deserve when we prioritize or extend ourselves. The people we love and care about, the little creatures that are affected by our actions, the environment of the planet that we live on.

These are all hugely important to us and to the world. And we owe it to ourselves to make sure we do our best in each of those things.

But as I looked at each star last night, I realized that the light that traveled from the most distant stars in the universe has taken over a thousand years to reach here.

And at this moment in time, we are often therefore looking at stars that don’t exist any more. They might have exploded 500 years ago!

So, now imagine you are on one of those distant stars looking at earth. The light from our planet will take the same thousand years to arrive there and so to someone standing there and looking at us, we may not even exist by the time they see the light that leaves here today.

As a distant planet, we might have died off many hundreds of years ago.

So, how significant does that make us!

And that is only considering the one universe we are in. How significant is our universe itself even when stacked up against the millions of universes out there?

I am not trying to blow your mind on a Monday morning, but just wanted to help you realize that whatever worries the week brings you, try to keep it in perspective.

Only worry about what you can actually accomplish and let the rest of it fade away. We have but one life; enjoy the ride!

… just a thought!

The one that got away

I had an awesome day at the beach with Vel yesterday. We just hung on and watched the birds, and listened to the waves as they gently beat onto the shore.

It was very therapeutic and we both commented how you could just close your eyes and listen and even that would have been enough.

There weren’t a lot of people on the beach but those that were there were having fun. They were swimming, snorkling, surf-boarding, para-sailing, and some were just sunbathing.

It was another clear-blue-sky-day on Florida’s gulf coast and a perfect reminder on why I chose this place as where I will live out my life.

At the outset, it was the birds that caught my attention and their camouflage against the sands and shells was amazing. Sandpipers, Sanderlings and a few others, were wandering along the shoreline, checking in the sand and under the shells for morsels to eat.

I have a number of pics of them at the end of the blog. Hope you get to check them out!

It was Vel that caught the initial splash of something large about 200 to 300 feet off shore and it turned out to be a large fish that had been hooked by one of those wonderful sports-fishing patrons.

We watched him for a half hour, reel-in and tire out his catch and it was a true david vs goliath experience as the team on board made sure that Mr Wonderful was going to be able to take home with him a wonderful catch story to impress his friends with.

His wife/partner/whatever eagerly captured the whole thing for him on her phone so that they had a fabulous record of their amazing fun time in Florida.

Thirty minutes it lasted. And apparently the only person not enjoying himself was the fish on the end of the line.

He fought like crazy against the line that had him hooked and I am sure that in their mental descriptions of the upcoming story to their friends, they were probably going to give him credit for making it such a tough catch.

Because it was incredibly tough for that poor Mr Wonderful, seated comfortably in the boat, drinking his Nat Light, and having to put up with all the support of his cheer squad. Must have been even more awful when they put a brace around his waist and secured him to the boat so that he wouldn’t be pulled overboard. The bastards were taking away his freedom.

His god-given right to fall off the boat if he should so choose to do so. Don’t they know this is Merica!

You could see the strain on the rod and poor Mr Wonderful’s arms as that radical socialist fish refused to come easy. OK, so there might have been a corresponding level of strain in the fish’s mouth caused by the hook, but everyone knows fish don’t feel pain. I mean poor Mr Wonderful’s arms must have been seriously aching.

I felt for him and all of us on the beach wished we were on that boat so that we could help our fellow-brother pull in that slimy commie.

But brave Mr Wonderful had to do it all on his own with his god-given boat, good-given rod and tackle, god-given support-crew, and of course his god-given Nat Lite.

Suffice to say that when at the very end, that slimy left-leaning rapscallion refused to give Mr Wonderful his winning photo moment and aided by some radical-left traitors hiding from sight, the line broke.

Well, at least they would like you to think the line broke. Those commie bastards. This is definitely a case of Fake News put out by the liberal media as they seek to undermine our god-given right to kill whatever we want. Except the babies of course. Those little fetuses need to be protected at all cost. Unless of course they were swimming in the sea, then it’s our god-given right to kill them.

Oh no wait, sorry. Can’t kill the fetuses, under any circumstance. Doesn’t matter if it was rape or incest, because it might be a god-given good rape. Ya know what I mean?

OK, if I haven’t made my point yet, then stop reading and don’t bother with this blog any more.

It is stunning to me how innocent little creatures can be killed for fun. It is the most immoral act I know.

So, when I saw the line break yesterday, my heart smiled and I was thrilled to catch the look of disappointment on the would-be killer’s face.

These murderers are nearly always men, have you noticed? And I strongly suspect white men at that.

Their right-to kill has been ingrained into them since they were children by their killer fathers. And they will in-turn raise their own little brood of killer sons.

These NRA card-carrying murderers see nothing wrong with taking an innocent life, as long as they can wash it down with a cool Nat Lite.

These are not people who hunt for food. They are not reliant on what they hunt in order to eat. They may eat what the kill (some of them) but that is entirely different from having to hunt in order to eat. But, they will never see that difference. Because they are ignorant of the world around them and only know what their killer-pappy told them.

Ingraining respect for natural life and for the environment, seems like a redundant concept. I have seen the most wonderful parents make this point to their children growing up. But why should they need to?

Why is is not a natural behavior, like breathing or sleeping? Why do we have to train kids not to kill creatures for fun?

It’s a simple answer really that comes in two parts; firstly humans are inherently a selfishly flawed creature and secondly others around them display reckless abandon in their murdering of the innocents and destruction of the planet.

Am I the only fool who thinks that is sad?

… just a thought.

Inhuman

Went over to Jax’s place yesterday afternoon and hung out with a number of gorgeous chicks for a while.

It was difficult to keep a focus on any one in particular; the distraction level was huge as we spread a blanket on the grass out back and everyone just did whatever they wanted.

At one stage I had a couple of them cuddled up against me resting their heads against me but most of the time it was a free for all. Wall to wall beauty.

One of the chicks turned out to be a bit of a cock but seeing as how this is FL, I am not supposed to mention anything that could be construed as gay … there were kids present.

I caught much of the action on film (so to speak) so there are a bunch of shots at the end of this blog, if you like that sort of thing.

Anyway, it was really on the way in to Jax’s place that the thought for today’s blog occurred to me.

You see, each year in her class, Jax takes her students through the entire process of egg-embryo-life and so each year a whole cluster of little chicks get born into a friendly and loving environment.

They all eventually find homes and live out their lives in a caring and loving environment outside of the food chain.

My heart is so happy for the little guys and the thought I had was along the lines of how lucky they are to be part of a science teacher’s learning process as opposed to being born into a factory farm where they are manhandled, abused, and ultimately destroyed.

The two life styles couldn’t possibly be any different and it really made me question how much luck is involved and why their little souls should be subjected to little more than a coin toss when determining the lives they have ahead of them.

We of course, have something similar to a certain extent when we first open our eyes as a baby. Are we born rich or poor. Born into a loving environment of destined to be abused? That kind of stuff.

But nothing we go through even remotely comes close to the lives that animal newborns risk entering into.

Most of the negative that could possibly shape the lives of creature newborns are a result of something humans do. We might eat them, steal their environment, experiment with them, abuse them, hunt them, eat them, … oh wait I said that already.

Some people and groups argue for humane treatment of animals but the sad truth is we already treat them humanely. This is what humans do to animals. All the above and worse.

Most of them would be better off if we treated them inhumanely. Inhumane would be to show love and compassion, deference, respect, concern, and care.

Humans routinely don’t show any of that to animals.

Don’t get me wrong. Some humans do. Some humans are wonderful advocates for animals.

But humanity isn’t.

Humanity has elevated itself (in its own mind) above all living creatures and therefore the creatures don’t have rights on the same level we do.

We impersonalize them by grouping them as one and enabling us to treat them impersonally. They are all the same. Bird brained. Fish don’t feel pain. They all look the same. They are merely a commodity. They don’t have feelings like you and me.

We are conditioned to not treat them as individuals because then they become a person. Yet look at the pics at the end of this blog and tell me they aren’t all different. Each little guy came out of the egg, big-eyed, innocent, with hope and dreams.

But in factories they are manhandled in their hundreds and thousands, tossed onto conveyor belts as though inanimate objects. But that’s ok. Those guys came out of the wrong egg.

If god had wanted that little soul to be treated OK, he would have put it into a pet poodle that was born in a puppy farm for rich folks. God cares about puppies. Couldn’t give a shit about chickens apparently.

… just a thought!

Carolina Wren

This time of the year, a friendly addition to the birds that arrive each evening when I put out the food, is the Carolina Wren,

Of all the birds that come, these little guys are the most energetic and adventurous, flitting in and out of the feeding area even when I am close enough to intimidate some of the others.

I watched some of them yesterday at feeding time as they picked up bits of the bread. While the Blue Jays and Cardinals flew in, grabbed a full piece of bread and flew off to eat it in the trees, the wrens hung around on the ground and picked pieces off the cut bread, eating it where they stood.

Then one of them even wandered over to where the possum and raccoon food was and helped himself to some of the cheesy cat food mix that I had put out in bowls.

I managed to get a number of shots as they kept one eye on me and one on the prize and I only left when I feared I might attract the cats to what was going on.

They are at the end of this blog … hope you enjoy!

Growing up in Ireland, I was quite familiar with the wrens. There was the childhood story told to us all of how the wren, through his ingenuity became the king of the birds. And of course, there was wren-day which was the day after Christmas when the Wren Boys went from door to door singing tales of the King of the Birds, dressed in old rags, dirt on our faces, and begging for money.

I had to look it up for the full words (my memory isn’t what it used to be) but here is the song we would sing:

The wren the wren the king of all birds,
St Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze.
Her clothes were all torn, her shoes were all worn
Up with the kettle and down with the pan.
Give us a penny to bury the wren,
If you haven’t a penny, a halfpenny will do
If you haven’t a halfpenny,
God Bless you!

I doubt if I was more than ten the last time I went out singing that and I am sure the tradition has long since faded but it brought a smile to my face yesterday when I remembered it.

Which actually brings me to the idea behind this blog. In many ways the wren is seen as one of the least significant of birds and yet, the symbolism attached to him is far larger than his physical self.

They are seen as the harbinger of spring and rebirth and their many qualities can inspire us to become better and happier versions of ourselves.

To a casual observer their coloring and size can make them appear less significant but their ingenuity, sociability, cheerfulness, and contentment serve as wonderful reminders to us when we question our own insignificance.

Perhaps you believe that birds’ faces are emotionless but I don’t. I can see when a bird is happy or fearful, upset or calm.

I recall a couple of years back when a lovely little wren landed on my arm and spoke to me for a short while before hopping off again and continuing about his business (even got a video of that one with my phone).

There is an inner peace that comes from humility and you can see their simple contentment, if you take the time to look.

Meanwhile, we drive ourselves, our parents drive us, work drives us, society drives us … the forces on us always seek to make us look for more.

Achieve more.

Get more.

Need more.

These are forces which don’t just drive us forward but they create a sense of dissatisfaction with what we have and where we are. So, we lose our feeling of contentment and nothing ever seems enough.

You will see it in yourself, family and friends, neighbors .. .everyone running around aiming for higher and better as if we are all engaged in some kind of competition.

Even the ultra wealthy and ultra powerful crave more to where their present wealth and power are insufficient for their own feeling of contentment.

There is no end to that kind of game. Only death brings the escape from it and even then we are often guilted at the end for not having done enough.

There is a life within us and around us that holds all the moments, the loves, the joys, and we need to recognize them as they happen; not crave more.

There is an old Irish saying that a wren in the hand is better than a crane out of it. Meaning we should celebrate each moment, each small win, instead of always chasing after something bigger.

Native Americans used the wren to symbolize something very similar. They looked at the arrival of wrens into your life, particularly when sad and depressed, as a reminder to find happiness even in the smallest of things. In so doing, it can take root and grow into true peace and contentment.

Find a wren and let his peace and happiness warm your self and if you can’t find one, then become one. Happiness doesn’t come from our brightly colored feathers and loud songs. It comes from our inner peace and the ability to feel the value of each moment we live.

… just a thought.

Making Time

To say that things have been overwhelming these past weeks/months, would be an understatement. And with one or two exceptions, most of the overwhelming has been negative.

I think, like most people, when I encounter such times, I shrink back my activities into a prioritization level and it isn’t about what I want to do as much as what I have to do.

I won’t go into the specifics of what has been happening but suffice to say that when I woke up to another Monday today, I was a tad sorry that I woke up at all. For a moment, I lay there thinking “not again”, as I faced into another week of this shit.

But then something happened … Rocky had been sleeping at my feet most of the night and sensing that I was awake, he came up and started kneading the blanket beside me (making biscuits) and gently purring in my ear.

His presence made me roll out of bed and begin it all again. How could I delay everyone’s breakfast just because of my own mood? So, I got the four house kitties fed, then went downstairs and fed Tetsuo (who is a lovely little feral guy that waits at the bottom of the outside stairs for me each morning).

He was his normal talkative self. I often wonder if he is reporting on all the shit that I missed out on overnight with possums and raccoons. But then again, he might just be complaining that I am late.

Then I opened up the office and fed the five little babies down there before letting them all meander out into the darkness of the early morning.

It was somewhere in that whole process, that I decided to head to the lake for twilight and so I accelerated all my actions at each stage trying to make sure that I could get down to the lake to catch any colors that the sky might offer.

Even though I had gotten out of bed at 5:30, it was still all I could do to get off my driveway at 6:07. I did so without coffee or breakfast of any sort, deciding I could always pick up a coffee on my way back, anyway.

I needed to be at the lake no later than 6:20 and it was exactly that time, as I pulled into the parking space, grabbed my camera and walked briskly to the shoreline.

Truth is that it turned out to be a rather weak twilight. The sky was too clear and the temperature was wrong, so pretty much nothing happened.

I took a few quick pics, hopped in the car and picked up that coffee at McDonalds on my way home. Made it back onto my driveway by 6:52, just 45 minutes after having left it.

Not the most stellar excursion ever but the truth was that I needed it nonetheless. In the midst of all the craziness and the prioritization of needs as opposed to wants, I have mostly lost myself in the mix.

There are a couple of pics from the lake at the end of the blog and I have supplemented them with some pics of four of my office-babies that I took over the weekend. Hope you enjoy!

I did enjoy it. And that is the bottom line in what I was trying to do this morning; find some enjoyment for myself. It didn’t need to be enjoyment on a grandiose scale. I didn’t need to scale new heights and see fireworks. I just needed a small (and very welcome) break.

And that is what gave me the thought for today’s blog. The whole notion of making time for ourselves.

Some people make their whole lives about “time for themselves”. So, if you are one of those selfish bastards, don’t bother reading the rest of this.

A normal person and particularly those with responsibilities will prioritize others before themselves and that is a healthy behavior that adds more value to our life and to those around us.

Our wants should always come last.

Prioritizing our wants ahead of anything else is playing to the selfish trait in our character and so, placing it on the end of our prioritization list is a healthy character-building exercise.

But here is my point … there comes a time when we have to recognize that satisfying an occasional “want” is in itself a “need” and the only thing to do is jump to the bottom of our list and do something self-serving.

When I decided that, this morning, I used the phrase “making time” in my head. I said to myself that I have to become better at making time for myself and for those who are important in my life. When I get overwhelmed, I often feel like it is an all-hands-on-the-pumps moment and unfortunately I only have two hands.

But then as I drove down to the lake, I realized that the phrase “making time” is a fallacy. There is no such thing. We cannot make time. Time is one of the most important elements in our lives that we have absolutely no control over. It will happen without us. Time existed before us. Time will exist after us. And while we live, time will roll along regardless of our thoughts on it.

All we can do is prioritize the time we have. Assigning our efforts to each moment as it passes is the extent of our involvement.

And what I have realized is that during tough times, during times of being overwhelmed or under duress, we tend to allow time itself to run rough-shod over our wishes, our needs, and most definitely our wants.

This has happened throughout history and will no doubt happen throughout the future. A phrase familiar to all of us is how “Nero fiddled, while Rome burned”.

It is said as a ridicule of Nero but what if the truth was that Nero needed to fiddle? Perhaps it had been an unsatisfied want that had been put off forever until finally for his own sanity, he broke out the fiddle and played a tune.

Rome would have burnt anyway. All things have their moment in time and fiddle or no, they will come and go with or without us.

So, occasionally grab your fiddle … if that is what you want.

… just a thought!

All that we can do

This past few weeks I have been trying to wrestle with little animal issues that are challenging in the extreme.

I have an open-yard policy to any creature that would like to be fed and try my best to make sure that no animal is left behind. So every day I feed my cats, any stray cats that come on for a meal, raccoons, possums, birds, and squirrels.

It’s a commitment and one that I feel very lucky to be able to meet. It takes a genuine slice of my time to do this but I made the commitment a few years back and until I fall over dead, it is my intention to always be here for these little guys.

The money impact is probably only equivalent to a pack of cigarettes a day, so it has no real relevance. But I also keep a small stock of cat food in my car in case I see any strays while I am out and about. For example, last week at Walmart, I fed seven little cats there and they all seemed happy to get a meal.

I wish everyone in the world would just help little creatures a little. And indeed, there are many like me that give it a try. Unfortunately most of humanity just take from animals and don’t seem to have the soul to give. I can understand that. It isn’t in their nature.

Some of humanity goes out of its way to abuse animals and that, I will never understand.

But the biggest issue with helping little creatures is that sometimes it brings a person right up against their own limitations. You give it your best shot and just come up short.

Sometimes we give it our best shot and it works. Like Rocky (two images of him today at the end of this blog) … he arrived on my property one or two years back as a small kitten and his tail had been completely savaged off by a dog. He was such a brave little kitten and after two very difficult surgeries and quite a bit of post-surgery care and worries, he is doing great.

He lives indoors with me and despite having no tail, he is the most brazen and feisty of the four cats that do. He has a wonderful attitude and knows no limits. He sleeps at my feet most nights and wakes me up in the morning before the alarm goes off to let me know it is time for breakfast. Theirs, not mine.

I love the little guy so much.

I was also able to help take care of a lovely lady raccoon who was severely damaged in a fight and could barely walk and after months of getting her fed before everyone else, the improvement was noticeable. By the end of it all she was as right as rain and roams freely now somewhere.

I’ve had major problems like Coco being bitten by a snake and Beauty almost losing an eye. Not to mention normal injury repairs to some of the other guys.

Unfortunately for each success story there are several abject failures.

There was the poor crane that I encountered a month back with a really badly broken beak that still had part of the offending PVC pipe attached to it, that was responsible for the break.

Right now I struggle with TC who hasn’t been able to walk on his paw for over a week. He is a stray and won’t come within ten feet of me. And there is Fighty who a week or two ago had most of his tail savaged off by something and I can’t get within 20 yards of him.

I really struggle with being able to take my hands off and realize my own limitations. I keep stretching my mind as to what I can do. I feed them and maybe even over-feed them. But I need to make sure that while they are fighting what has befallen them, that at least they don’t have to worry about food. I hope that just like the lady raccoon I mentioned earlier, that a steady food supply will give them the strength to win their battle.

Realizing our limitations is a very humbling experience. In case we didn’t know it already, we are not gods and therefore there are very real limits on what we can achieve.

It hurts my heart at times like these but regardless of how wishful we are and how sustained our efforts, our impact on the world around us is not boundless.

I think it is important that we try. Not trying is akin to not caring and we humans should care. Each creature on this planet deserves a chance of life and I would even argue they deserve a good one.

Our impact on creatures lives has been one of habitual use, abuse, torture, and killing. In the court of world justice, humanity would indeed be judged a villain.

While we won’t ever be able to completely undo the damage we have done to creatures, their habitats, their lives, we do have the ability to mitigate this damage.

All it requires is a bit of caring, a bit of love, and a bit of effort.

Though we may be parasites on the animal kingdom, we are intelligent parasites.

This means that unlike the fleas and ticks that makes animals’ lives miserable, we should know better.

Which ultimately means that all we can do is the least that we can do.

… just a thought!

Driving Decisions

It was one of those last minute decisions, heading down to the lake this morning to catch the sunrise.

It wasn’t something planned. In fact I went to bed last night with one focus for today. There were a number of must-do’s and once they were done I intended to get back onto the book.

I don’t know if it was the chill in the air that made me move a little bit faster. But I found myself having fed and freed all the babies early enough that I looked at the time and realized that I could possibly make it in time for twilight if I put my ass in gear and left the house immediately.

Yes, there were a couple of last minute challenges to getting out immediately. For example, the injured TC arrived and I stopped and gave him breakfast. And I had to forego taking the time to make myself a coffee. But it all worked and I got out just in time.

I raced down the road to the lake. I had about fifteen minutes to get there and the lights obliged. I may have broken a speed limit or two but I was a man on a mission.

I jumped out of the car and immediately started taking pics. There wasn’t a moment to spare. But I got what I needed and have some at the end of this blog if you care to check them out.

Hope you enjoy!

It was on the way down there that the thought for today’s blog occurred to me. I thought about what it was that drove this decision of mine and how in general I end up making decisions.

I think one of my strengths is my ability to analyze a situation and make a quick decision. Generally people don’t have to wait for me to make one. Yes, sometimes I get it wrong but that’s ok … I live with that risk.

But many of life’s decisions don’t actually require much of an analysis. They get made in an instant without much aforethought. Things like what sweater will I wear today, will I wear my hair up or down (that’s an easy one for me), which cereal will I have for breakfast?

Other decisions require a little more thought often involving the very same subject but just in different context. Things like should I buy this sweater, do I need to get my hair cut, what cereal will I buy at the store?

You can see, they are all essentially the same thing but the circumstance has changed and now there is a small element of planning involved. With the sweater it might come down to the price or how would it look on me, the hair decision might be related to am I going somewhere where people will see me, and the cereal choice might be based on which ones are available and do I think I won’t grow bored eating these over an extended period of time?

Then there are decisions that are put on us by someone asking something directly of us. From simple stuff like, would you like cream or sugar with that to more complex stuff like how does this dress look on me hon?

I mean some of these are really simple and you can answer quite spontaneously on the cream and sugar based on a snap view of what appeals to you. But answer wrongly on the dress one and you could be in the doghouse for a week.

And then there are real decisions; decisions that are life altering or life changing. These are decisions that can affect our life and the lives of those around us. Things like going to college or not, moving homes, having children, career choices, etc.

A wrong decision on any of those can have a profound effect on the rest of our lives and these are the decisions that we really need to understand our decision process on. Fools and children make decisions for silly reasons. The rest of us have a responsibility to get our decision right or at the very least to understand why we made the wrong decision if that is how it ended.

Learning from wrong decisions can only happen if we understand what drove us to that decision in the first place.

And if our drivers were good or well intended, then even if the decision turned out wrong, then so be it. We win some and lose some.

But if we were driven to a decision based on poor intentions, or being badly informed, then we need to reevaluate ourselves so that we don’t do the same thing next time.

Only we know our real intentions. So there is no objectivity in assessing whether intentions were good or bad.

But if the wrong decision was based on being poorly informed, then we need to take real steps to correct ourselves to make sure that our next decision is based on being well-informed.

Being informed is a responsibility that each of us has and one that should not be put onto others. When we look to others to take that responsibility for us, then we are in effect putting on them the right to make our decisions for us, also.

It’s why the morons vote red.

I am not saying all those who vote red are morons. On the contrary, there are many red voters who are intelligent, articulate, and well-informed. They decide on red because they are selfish, racist, misogynist, assholes and their decisions are therefore made in their own interest.

But there are red voters that vote against their own interests even though they are decent folk. They allow others to tell them that blue will take their guns away, kill their babies, and turn their children gay. There are a lot of decent folk out there who are morons.

At the end of the day we should all make decisions for our own reasons. Don’t be a moron.

… just a thought!

Memories

We hit King John’s Castle in Limerick in the last few days of the Ireland visit and with Inna willing to play the role in costume, we pulled together a black and white shoot that suited the surrounds.

The castle has been at the heart of Limerick City since 1210 and it would have been wrong to shoot in the region without paying some kind of tribute to such an iconic remnant of the past.

We opted to try for a period shoot and the folk at the castle were kind enough to allow us to do so. We managed to ghost some and stage others but at the end of the day ended up with a lovely mix that we will likely remember for a long time.

I have added just three at the end of this blog; hope you enjoy!

Other than some fun pics with Erin down the Mill Road, this turned out to be the last shoot of my visit and concluded some wonderful memories for me of my time there.

This is what led to me thinking about the whole importance of memories as a concept for this blog.

You see, there is no full time recording of our lives that goes on as we move from birth to death. There is no written book that chronicles all that happens us in some Orwellian manner that we can recall.

Our view of life is generally formed on the back of the memories that we have built for ourselves and the experiences that these memories bring.

Some of these memories are good and others not so but the fillers between them tend to get lost in the story of our lives. Mundane doesn’t make it into our memory banks and if our lives finally do flash before our eyes before we go, we won’t be recalling that day we spent in the office working on some Word document seven years ago.

Nor will the people around us that carry us forward in their hearts. They likely will remember something we did with them and in the retelling of who we were to others, will probably skip over that document we were working on, if they even know about it.

So, while certain mundane shit might seem important at a given moment in time, it is more important to keep our lives in perspective. We need to be aware of falling into a pattern of making no new memories or of leaving others with no real memories of us.

The story of our lives is simply a collection of these memories and while some write books that are captivating and filled with love and adventure, others seem to settle for a story that will gather dust on a forgotten shelf in a forgotten library.

Each day that we wake up, life presents us with an opportunity to create a memory. A memory for ourselves or for those around us. If we spend that day in bed or dozing on a couch in front of the TV, then we have scorned that chance to advance our life story even a fraction.

This is one of the reasons I love photography. My camera and I have become best friends since I first picked it up years ago to create pictures for my Dad. What originally was simply an attempt to help fashion images for the man I loved most in the world, turned out to be a life-altering way of creating memories for myself and those I am fortunate enough to share a life with.

I guess what I am trying to say is that whatever your own equivalent to the camera is, grab hold of it today and go somewhere and make a memory. Better yet, take someone you love with you and make one for them while you are at it!

… just a thought.

Isolation

The weather was rather spectacular last week in Ireland and trust me when I say that those words are rarely said in truth.

It is one of the things I love most about living in Florida … the fact that we get so much sunshine and blue skies to play with.

Inna and I took a couple of drives south of Limerick and on the first one, I got lost and we ended up in Ballybunnion of all places. I would never intentionally go to Ballybunnion but sometimes we all end up where the road takes us.

It gave me the chance for some images, I guess and the first two at the end of the blog are of the beach there.

The rest of the images are from the day after that when we drove down to Dingle and took the coast road out the pensinsula. To say it was stunning would be a real understatement and each bend on the road seemed to bring better and better views of the wild Atlantic coastline.

We had a fantastic time and on a good day like this, I honestly can’t imagine a better place to be. We drove all the way out to Slea Head and had a wonderful view of the Blasket Islands just off the coast there.

Though you could see a small few buildings on the bigger island, no one has lived there since 1953 when the Irish government relocated the final few people onto the mainland.

On a day like this I can’t imagine why anyone would want to leave such a place but apparently in winter the weather could be so bad that the islanders were cut off from the mainland for periods of three weeks at a time. Add to that the fact that there is no electricity on the island and I guess it all makes sense.

In any event, there are a number of images taken along the drive out the peninsula at the end of the blog. Hope you enjoy.

The thought for the blog today actually came from the search for isolation that many of us crave at times.

I know that I, for one, have wished many times to just be able to escape to an island and shut out the world.

This need to escape is often something that we wish for when we are feeling overwhelmed with bad shit happening.

Yet isn’t it strange that we don’t wish for help with the shit, but rather to escape away from it?

I think when people are surrounded by a good support structure, they get help offloading some of life’s upsets and challenges. It is only when we are carrying the burden on our own that we look to escape as we don’t even know who to call for help.

Therein lies a big problem. There was a time when things weren’t so crazy in our lives and we had parents or maybe an older sibling, that would shield us from much of the turbulence that existed around us.

Though we may reminisce about how things were so much simpler in those days and wish we were able to get back there, it likely wasn’t real. It was just that we were shielded from it.

If you grow old enough, you become an orphan. It is the way of life, unfortunately. And apart from now taking on issues that are causing problems for those you love, your own issues tend to fall firmly on your own shoulders.

That is where the feeling of being overwhelmed comes from along with the despairing feeling of wishing to escape to an island.

The good news is that what you are feeling is completely understandable. The bad news is, escape is a fallacy and you just have to put on your big-girl-panties and get through it.

Because at the end of the day, getting through issues of our own and helping those you love with theirs, eventually transforms you into your parents. Some of us would welcome that comparison but whether or not you had awesome parents like mine, at the very least dealing with this shit makes a better person of you.

You become the problem solver, the fixer, the person people go to when all else fails.

Don’t you wish you had someone like that in your life?

Well you do and worse case scenario it is yourself. Embrace difficulty and it becomes easier. Run away from it and it will always be the monster in your closet.

… just a thought!

Childhood Dreams

When I was a young boy, growing up in Limerick, I held the world in typical childish wonder.

A six or seven mile ride on the bicycle took me out to an old ruins called Carraig Ui gConnaill and took me back in time a thousand years.

So, last week, finding myself back in Ireland, Inna and I found ourselves back out at the same old ruins and my boyhood memories came rushing back in.

I hadn’t forgotten anything physical of the place; in fact I have used the ruins in a chapter of my book and they are exactly as I have remembered them to be.

But what I did forget was the feeling … the absolute awe as you stand there locked amongst crumbly old walls that have seen over a thousand years of people like me standing in its courtyard.

Though these ruins are about a thousand years old, there were buildings before then that occupied that same vantage point with a view that stretches out for miles and miles in all direction. By all accounts, this rock (that’s what the word Carraig means) was home to prior settlements as far back as 1,000 BC

Typically Ireland, these ruins are not maintained and a country so rich in ancient heritage seems happy to let yet another piece of its history get overgrown and derelict.

The approach to the ruins from the north face (with your back to the river Shannon) was particularly daunting and we failed to scale its height. We could only imagine what a wonderful defense it had from invaders making that approach.

So, we drove around to the south side and found a road that warned off would-be visitors with threatening “private road” signs that made us feel more than unwelcome.

But it was worth taking the chance of confrontation and soon we found ourselves inside the old courtyard and exploring the crumbling structure that remained.

I took a number of shots (attached a few here at the end of the blog) of some of the remaining building and an upward view within what used to be a tower with spiral staircase. There is also a shot of the view from the north wall towards the distant Shannon River. I hope you enjoy.

The visit left me with so many thoughts. I reminisced that my Mam and Dad used to cycle out there when they were dating back in the late 1940’s. They told me of some lovely picnics they had out there and it makes me happy to think I was someplace that they were when none of us kids were more than a twinkle in their eyes.

This made me think of the dreams that they might have had at the time and how close to their reality, their lives fully realized. Whether their dreams were modest or not, their lives played out under the glare of a huge love and from my perspective, at least, it looked to me that they must surely have achieved more in life than they could possibly have imagined.

On the back of a sixty-odd year marriage and living more than half of that in a comfortable and very special home, they exited the world within a few years of each other, a few years back.

So, I tried to recall what my own dreams might have been, as I cycled out to those same ruins a million years ago. Did I imagine a life that would play out the way it has? Did I dream for something bigger or better? Who knows.

Those memories have gone with the winds of time, so I can’t sit here and imagine what I was thinking when I was eleven years old.

I can’t imagine though that any dreams I had left me living out my life here in Florida, or that I would develop so many flaws and shortcomings that made my walk-on-water days of youth, seem an almost comical fancy.

In fact, once of the greatest gifts that time gives us is the ability to see through our own smoke-screen and understand ourselves, our limitations, and our flaws.

Time can be a humbling experience, if we let it. It gives us the breadth of insight on how we have developed; areas that we have grown in and areas that we have failed in.

We don’t have to question our eleven-year-old selves. We only have to look back at a block of time five or ten years past and ask ourselves how we have measured up against what we imagined for ourselves back then.

A common interview question is “where do you see yourself in five years?” and so it is quite realistic to ask that same question of ourselves looking back that same five years.

Where did we see ourselves back then? And are we there yet?

The simple truth is that if we aren’t where we thought we would be five years ago, then there is something wrong. Either we imagined our future incorrectly based on an incorrect view of our prospects, or something happened that has distracted us away from our intended goal.

It is an important knowledge to have of oneself; the knowledge of who we are and where we are heading in life. Without that knowledge we can dramatically overestimate ourselves and end up on our death beds full of remorse at things we didn’t achieve or goals that were left incomplete.

I ask myself repeatedly who I am. Depending on my mood, I will often end up being highly self-critical and while that may sound deprecating, it really isn’t. It is our desire to improve ourselves that oftentimes leads us to our greatest growth.

If we already see ourselves as perfect, then quite frankly, our growth will likely be stunted.

There are those who do see themselves as perfect. You only have to look at the dotard and his cronies in the red politics world. But unless your father gave you millions to run at life with, then that version of self-belief normally leads to a rude awakening for you.

I guess what I am trying to say in this blog is that our dreams are a good thing that can give our course some initial direction. We need to chart that course, with an accurate assessment of who exactly is following this course and in so doing, we will most likely achieve life’s greatest goal.

Happiness.

That is the one thing that we should all live our lives in hope of. If we can find that, then howsoever we do, our goals and our inner selves have been correctly aligned.

… just a thought!