Little Things

It was a last-minute decision yesterday that took me to Marsh Rabbit Trail at Circle B.

I had originally planned a restful day with nothing on my agenda but once I saw the way the day was shaping up with a gorgeous blue-sky day unfolding, I felt guilty at letting it just pass me by. I needed to do something constructive and a few hours in one of my favorite places in the world would help me build towards the week ahead.

There is a lot of shit happening (good and bad) and I wanted to equip my soul with the weapons to tackle whatever the week throws at me.

The images I took along the trail became a real challenge as I focused more on the small birds this time, rather than their bigger cousins. And shooting little guys that move at the speed of sound through bushes and trees, will quickly dismantle any notions of being a good photographer that you might have.

Their movement is so fast and so hap-hazard that trying to focus and catch what is going on is a huge hit and miss effort.

It is much easier to get a clear shot of a larger bird, perched model-like on a branch. But this was a very real challenge as their position on the food chain makes them susceptible to attack at any moment and so they move accordingly.

Plus they just love to mess around and have fun. They seem to enjoy themselves much more than the bigger birds, whose vocabulary probably does not include the word “fun” at all.

I did end up with some neat shots of gnatcatchers, warblers, and others and have added them at the bottom of this blog. They include a really good capture of a moment where a spider bade farewell to life and became part of the greater circle. I hope you enjoy!

It was in the car driving home (as if often the case) that I began to muse over the thought for this blog. You see, I like to revisit what I have just shot or what my encounters entailed, in a bid to justify having gone somewhere.

Often times it is a major sunrise moment, or a near-miss with an alligator, or some particularly good shots of an Ospry with his catch.

This time though it was many encounters with these little guys that left the impression on me of having had a great time. There was no single big event and even with the many encounters, I didn’t know if my shots had captured anything worth sharing. You push the shutter-release and maybe see a quick snapshot of what you got in the viewfinder. But truth is until you pull it up onto the big screen at home, you really don’t know if you got anything worth capturing or even if it is in focus.

So my feel-good feeling was coming from something else. It was coming from the joy of watching these little guys flit in and around the bushes and trees. It came from fighting against my own inadequacies in trying to shoot them. And not least of all, it came from breathing in beautiful air under a blue-sky canopy that reminds me of how precious a place, Florida is.

Much of our life is marked by major happenings. These can be good or bad and they create an assortment of memories that we weave into the tapestry of our life story.

If we are fortunate, these happenings are noteworthy to where we can share the joy or seek comfort with those around us.

But the vast majority of our life is spent in small moments. Moments that we barely share with anyone and that from day to day might not even form a memory.

These are the little things that provide the parchment upon which the bigger moments are written.

These are the things that create the general feeling of contentment or dissatisfaction that underpins our mental state from the moment we wake until we close our eyes to sleep.

It might be a sore back or stiff joints on a negative side, to a good energy or feeling of well-being on the positive.

While we don’t talk about or share these with most people in our circle, they provide the general mood that we are in at any given moment in time and as such, we should seek to acknowledge them to ourselves.

For example, if you have been dealing with some lower back pain all day and lie down in bed at night to go to sleep, console yourself that there has been a root cause behind your general low feeling of the day.

Conversely (and this is the more important point) if you are feeling content of peaceful as you close your eyes, remind yourself that this was a day without pain, where things generally went well, or where you were quite productive.

It is really important to acknowledge the good days in our lives. And that acknowledgement is more important when the good days were built by many little things rather than a big win.

“Why?” I hear you ask.

Well, it is simple really. The bigger moments will have caused a memory to be built and on reflection you will likely be able to find it again at year’s end. But little things that occupied smaller moments won’t have generated a memory and therefore could be lost in time, without acknowledgement.

Looking back on a particular period of time, they could therefore be lost in time and allow the perception that last year was a bad one, even when most days were actually quite good.

… just a thought!


I’ve become somewhat of a crazy cat person and instead of fashioning them into my schedule, I have fully morphed into theirs.

No surprise then, that yesterday morning, I fall out of bed again at four in order to get the upstairs ones their breakfast, Tetsuo who is the outside night-watchman, his, and then feed and release all the overnighters in the office below.

It is a routine that I have established that takes the first 45 minutes of my day … every day. And though it may sound like I begrudge it, I genuinely don’t.

In many ways I have found purpose in helping these little guys and giving them a safe harbor from an otherwise unknown world.

Once done, I have my own breakfast and then look at myself to see what I want to do before I start the rest of my day. Yesterday (as often before), the decision was to grab a coffee and the camera and head for Lake Parker to enjoy the twilight and herald the day in that way.

It was a gorgeous clear-sky twilight where the horizon gets infused with the most beautiful warm orange and peach colors and I found such peace in the quiet and natural heaven that I found myself standing in.

It isn’t possible to have a more peaceful entrance into a day and I breathed in the moment that mother nature was kind enough to share with me.

I only had the 11 mm lens with me, so I hope you like the collection of images it took, which are at the end of the blog.

I’ve made that same decision in favor of a morning start at Lake Parker, many times before and I asked myself if it was the right decision to make once again.

But they say you can never have enough of a good thing and in this instance, I think that saying is correct. Though the venue has been the same for many of my shoots, there always seems to be at least a very slight difference from one twilight to another.

It might be the condition of the sky, the morning temperature, or even just the state of mind that I am in. But there always seems to be enough difference that stops me from feeling a deja vu moment.

After I paused and said hi to my mom and dad ( a tiny piece of them was poured into the lake after their deaths), I said hi to a couple of fishermen that were heading out in their boat, climbed into the car, and drove home.

As is often the case, I mused over what the morning had brought and my role in making it happen. There was no longer a question in my mind of whether I should or shouldn’t have gone there. But that’s when the thought for today’s blog began to run around inside my head.

You see, we make many decisions for ourselves each day and each one takes us on a different journey than if we had decided differently. In the “many world’s theory” there is an infinite number of versions of us that follow each decision path simultaneously and while I think that is an interesting thought, I balk at the reality of such a theory.

Rather, I choose to believe that there is only one version of us traveling on a single journey through life and in many ways this one journey is shaped by the decisions we make along the way.

In the many world’s theory, our decisions wouldn’t matter and it would absolve us of consequence of good or bad decisions. But in my reality our decisions do matter and as such, we are bound to make as many good decisions as we can.

It is difficult to confidently make a good decision. We can give it our best shot based on our knowledge, past experience, and whatever factors might affect its outcome. But there is no guarantee that any decision we make is a good one.

Life brings very few guarantees along the way and other than eventual death, I can’t think of a single one. Can you?

So what that means is that with no guarantees of success, it is important to understand our decision making process and try to reduce the risk that whatever decision we make might result in a fail.

Most people make decisions glibly without aforethought. They reserve aforethought for what they consider to be serious decisions (financial, career, future plans, etc.)

We can’t grind ourselves to a stop at each decision point in our lives, taking time to overthink what we should do. We would end up never taking a step forward and life would be arduous and slow.

But, like most things in life, there is a balance that we should seek between both extremes and make sure that each decision along our journey is given a reasonable amount of thought consistent with its importance.

“What shirt will I wear today?” is less life-affecting than “do I take up smoking?” which is less life affecting that “let’s play Russian roulette. I am bored.”

And even if analyzing our decisions before they are made isn’t possible due to the circumstances we make them in, then we should at least ask ourselves how we made that decision later when we have a quieter moment.

The value in doing that is that the importance of each decision is not always obvious and sometimes we make what we consider to be a small decision that turns out to be life affecting. “How about one more drink for the road?”

I am not going to labor the point but I have often found myself at night in bed reviewing decisions made during the day. It has turned out to be a very effective way to understand how it is that I make decisions and whether I have missed something or not that would improve the likelihood of a better decision.

Knowing ourselves and understanding what makes us tick is a very important part of our life experience. Analyzing how and why we make decisions is one part of that and well worth the few minutes that it takes.

… just a thought.

Fear of the Dark

The other day saw me grabbing the camera and heading to Lack Hancock at Circle B around five o’clock in the morning.

I think I arrived between 5:30 and 5:45 so sunrise was still quite a distance away from happening. The plan was to make it down to the pier that extends into Lake Hancock before twilight and hang out there until Mother Nature began to do her thing with the horizon.

It involved a long walk from the car to the lake in darkness and while the almost-full moon was bright in the sky and lit up much of my path, whenever I went under the trees, I was very much reliant on the small flashlight I had brought with me.

Interestingly the strength of the moonlight was to cast long shadows beneath the live oak trees that are very thick along the path and these shadows appeared to move with each step I took.

This particular trail lived up to its name (Shady Oak Trail) and just for the experience, there were several times I turned off the flashlight altogether and experienced the feeling of stepping forward in total darkness.

If you haven’t done that, give it a try. It really challenges your belief in yourself and your surroundings.

I remember a million years ago just inside the door to his office, my boss had one of those motivational posters that read “When you take a step into a room that is totally dark, you believe one of two things. Either the floor will be there to greet your step or you will learn to fly.” Forty years later I still remember that sentiment and it has been a guiding thought for me in many an instance of stepping into the unknown.

In this case, the steps I took were along a trail I had taken many times in the daylight so it hardly qualified as being “unknown” but the tall grasses, bushes, and trees either side of the trail provided a haven for many a wild creature and in this darkness certainly did qualify as being unknown.

In all honesty, I had no fear of this unknown, though, and was more into the freedom of taking unknown steps in the darkness. It was a really invigorating feeling and heightened my senses with each step.

There was only one brief moment where I questioned the sanity of what I was doing, when I took a step that was greeted by a growl and for a split second, I was startled. Until I realized that it was my stomach that growled.

I had to laugh at myself and my instant reaction to something so silly.

By the time I reached the lake, the vaguest hint of colors began to light the horizon and a single flat cloud seemed to hang there in order to prevent a clear-sky dawn.

I took a number of pics and they are at the end of the blog, including one where a broken log took on the silhouette of an arm pointing out the cloud in case I missed it.

It was a lovely morning and I hope you enjoy the pics.

It was driving home that I began to think about the aspect of darkness that brings fear with it.

There is nothing sinister in darkness per se yet most horror stories take place in it.

So, whey do we allow the darkness to be maligned so, when we know the same world exists in both light and darkness.

Some will argue that nocturnal creatures are more scary but I dismiss that as there are more predators that hunt in daylight than in darkness.

This means that the only real reason is that we can’t see anything and that our fear of the unknown is greater than our knowledge of what is and what isn’t.

Things that are known work in harmony with our brain to create a “safe” and comforting description of our world. We are very much creatures of habit and look to repeat things that we know to be be “good” and avoid things we deem to be “bad”.

But something that is unknown cannot be defined as good or bad because we simply don’t know it (yet).

So it isn’t our belief that the unknown is bad. It is simply that it is unknown.

And yet, tackling the unknown and unlocking its secrets is the single-most key ingredient to growing ourselves on life’s journey. It is through this experience and the wisdom that comes with each piece of new knowledge that we acquire that makes us a better and wiser human being.

But some people would choose to stay living in their mother’s womb, if they could. Gestation is not a life. It is simply an existence. Life doesn’t begin at conception and avoiding the unknown from your first breath to your last isn’t life either.

When we choose to live, we choose not to exist. People who live, create memories within themselves and others that justifies their having been born in the first place.

People who exist, miss out on all the wonder that life’s journey has to offer.

Yes; some of this journey will bring bad things our way but hopefully we will be rewarded with good things that outweigh the bad.

Therein lies the reason for taking each step forward in life.

We believe that each step will bring a reward and even when it doesn’t, the next one might.

Give it a try!

… just a thought.

Single Minded

It was likely the first time I ever went to shoot something with just a single image in my mind.

Yes, it was the chance to enjoy another gorgeous twilight at Lake Parker, but in my mind, I was more interested in getting one shot that involved the “mirror window” that I found locked away in one of my storage spots that other day.

It is a cool mirror that is framed and cross-pieced to look like a window and I wondered if I could get it to give me a reflection of the horizon while mother nature infused her unique blend of colors into the day.

I got there in plenty of time and was happily experimenting for about twenty minutes before anyone else arrived. In fact, when I was in the middle of moving my setup, I was so engrossed that I didn’t noticed a man appear from the trees and walk onto the pier where I was standing.

When he said “good morning” from a distance of about six feet away, I nearly shit myself and screamed “jeezez christ” like a young schoolgirl. He was even wearing a flashlight on his head. You would have thought I would have noticed him from a distance quite easily.

He was a nice man and we had a good chat and I apologized for my over-the-top scream on his appearance.

I stopped experimenting with the mirror after that. He was getting busy on the pier and others were beginning to arrive with their boats for a day’s fishing.

So, I took some other normal shots and the twilight was in fact quite gorgeous and very obliging.

I added a few of the shots along with one mirror shot at the end of the blog. I hope you enjoy!

I was still smarting from my girlish scream as I got into the car and headed home and the thought for today’s blog began to form then in my head, It was about how engrossed I had become in something to the extent that I had shut out my surroundings.

While there is nothing sinister about what happened in this instance, keeping track of what is going on around you can be the difference between life and death in some of the trails I go on. And that is true for many natural trail-shooting experiences.

I shocked myself at being so involved in what I was doing to the detriment of all else and arrived at the conclusion that it was the fact that I was being single-mindedly focused on what I was doing with the mirror.

It brings to mind the thought how sometimes we become so narrowly focus on a single involvement, that we become oblivious to things around us at the same time.

Oftentimes, we prioritize that single focus highly and the things that are happening around us less so. And there are many moments when this is the correct thing to do. When something is of tantamount importance to us, we are right to exclude other things that might distract us from the purpose at hand.

But most of our lives should be lived without a singular driving purpose and we need to become aware of things that are taking place around us that are suffering because of a single minded purpose.

Going through large portions of our life in a single minded way can cause us to lose many important portions of life that we don’t willingly lose. The obvious example is the person who devotes their attention exclusively to work issues to the detriment of family.

But there are also many prices exacted on a more moment-to-moment basis when we travel through even just a single day with only one thing on our mind. For example, the arrival of an opportunity in our lives is rarely heralded and given advance notice. We don’t get an alarm going off to let us know that an opportunity is about to happen.

Yet, if we are focused on a single purpose to the exclusion of all others, we don’t even get the chance to prioritize what we are doing against such an opportunity because we don’t even know the opportunity exists.

A good rule of thumb is to travel through life with as much of a multi-tasking, multi-purpose view as you possibly can. And even in near-extreme situations, only assign 80% to 90% of ourselves to a sudden emergency that requires a single purpose approach.

In so doing, we allow ourselves to entertain something important that crosses our horizon at the same time.

What I am saying is never hang a “do not disturb” sign on your door. Only one that reads “go ahead and disturb but do understand that I may ignore you”.

… just a thought!


Since my car died on Christmas Eve, I have found myself very hampered by not being able to get around much.

The only sunrise I could go to was the one within walking distance on Walker Road, and the only trail I could wander was my own yard.

I found it quite miserable to have my freedom of movement curtailed in such a manner and it robbed me of photo shoots at a time when I had time to do so.

The Walker Road shoot was mediocre at best and the cloudy or foggy days in my yard produced little by way of interest other than a poor fern that was restrained from its normal growth by a complex web above it.

And then this morning, I came across a lovely pleated mushroom in the dark while removing some of the overnight dishes from the possums.

I looked at it and thought it would be nice to shoot using a couple of my portable lights while it was still dark. I put on a blue and a red gel and was pleased with what I was able to take.

It was then I noticed that (like the fern) the mushroom was also restrained in its normal growth by a single blade of grass. I took some with it in place and others after I moved it.

I have added a small few images at the end of the blog.

It was really while looking at the images with the fern and the mushroom, that the thought formed in my head around the effect that a simple web and a blade of grass had on both.

And it made me think how the environment we are in shapes our growth in a similar manner, often restraining us or hindering our progress as we go through life.

Like the fern, sometimes the environment issue is significant, but other times a single blade of grass can stop us reaching our full potential.

Where I have seen the former in real life is how people who have emerged from environments where their childhood involved abusive parents or significant poverty become muted versions of who they could otherwise have been. Conversely, others are born into significant family wealth and doors open easily for them as they seek to grow their lives.

There is little that can be done about significant environmental constraints like that and much like the fern, our lives are very often restrained from achieving our full potential.

But other times, we allow a simple blade of grass to affect our growth and rather than conquering it or moving it aside, we allow it to dictate how much of our potential we achieve.

Recognizing that what we are looking at is simply a blade of grass, is an important first step in addressing how to overcome it. It might be a temporary cash flow issue, an unexpected pregnancy, a sudden illness, or whatever and recognizing its temporary nature, we should not allow it to place a permanent constraint on what we look to achieve in life.

Significantly, temporary issues may loom very large in our lives at any given moment and they can appear to consume our thoughts when they happen. But life decisions should never be made in consideration of them. They will either fade or we will deal with them and the ramifications of life decisions will long outlive them.

We can become intimidated or overwhelmed by their size and that is totally understandable. Perhaps we may even need help in dealing with them. But, either way, deal with them we must.

This morning when I moved the blade of grass, I felt sad for the little mushroom. He had no ability to move it himself and no voice to ask for help in moving it.

But we are not mushrooms. Although I know several people who behave as though they are. We play a much more active role in dealing with our environment.

Or at least, we should.

… just a thought.

Frozen in time

The artic storm reached all the way down to us this morning and we dipped below freezing overnight.

I worry about wildlife and how they cope with such an extreme weather event and feel guilty that we humans have exacerbated such events on them with our unnecessary climate change.

I managed to get all the cats locked in overnight except for Ruben who is a stray that I have been feeding for a short few weeks. I am hoping he is ok.

The house struggled to maintain a good temperature but I still managed to get out from under the warm blankets at four and deliver breakfast to all the babies.

I opened the office door to the six little guys that were there overnight and while a couple ran off into the cold darkness, others looked at me as if to say “are you fucking kidding?”

But once the early morning chores were complete, I grabbed a camera and headed off to Lake Parker. Cold as it was, the air felt super-clear and I wanted to see how that would translate into twilight colors on the horizon.

Mother nature didn’t let me down and the colors were quite breathtaking.

My fingers got so cold, it got to the point where I honestly couldn’t feel the function button on the camera when I wanted to change settings and it gave me a stark reminder of how us folks in Florida typically don’t own gloves.

There were a couple of guys putting a boat out on the water as I left and we all agreed that the color-show was worth losing a few finger-tips for.

Anyway, I have added a few shots at the end of the blog and you can see the nice progression as the horizon lit up for me. Hope you enjoy!

As I drove away, I was thinking about how much I love still photography as opposed to video. Video has some wonderful advantages such as movement and sound but still images take a moment and freeze it in time.

I then began to think about how memories are much the same yet very different.

We build memories when we encounter something in a moment and our brain captures it just like a camera for us. We can often retrieve the memory at will and if it is a good one, we can use it to warm our soul when we need it.

But unlike a photograph, our memories get altered over time. We might enhance something or even alter a perspective that betrays the original capture, often times without even knowing.

We develop an obsession with the “good ol’ days” that likely were never as good as we remember them. I’ve said it before that old photographs in particular where everyone was smiling, disproportionately alter our view of the times we were living in. We were all told to smile for the camera and we dutifully did.

Similarly we will alter a memory of an argument or disagreement that was already distorted by our perception of what happened. Over time, that same memory is additionally subjected to reflection and possibly even our own change of perspective.

As righteous as we may feel in any memory we have, it is quite likely to have been colored over time and therefore trusting our own memory of something is very likely a flawed position.

Throughout life this is just another example of how little of our journey plays out in simple black or white, right or wrong, good or bad.

It plays out in shades of grey and shadows of innuendo and perception.

And that is ok. Our life journey should never be about absolute and our path should be fluid, as we impact and are impacted by those we are lucky enough to encounter along the way.

Nothing in life is ever really frozen, other than an occasional finger-tip on a Christmas Eve down by the lake.

… just a thought.

Opportunity, Ability, Decisions

Yesterday morning’s escape to Lake Hancock was pre-planned more than most.

I had decided to walk the trail there in the near-total darkness of pre-dawn and the previous evening was spent assembling all the bits and pieces I would need to take with me.

My intention was scenic-level shooting rather than creature shooting and so the lenses were the 11 mm and the 24 mm. The 11 mm is a fun one but doesn’t have the clarity of the slightly narrower 24 mm. However its fish-eye ultra-wide view can create lovely views that, uncropped, generate “keepable” pictures.

I also brought the mid-zoom of 70 mm to 300 mm which would allow me to get closer to the horizon, should something good be happening there.

I remembered the spare batteries and threw everything into a backpack that had the tripod clipped to one side. I even remembered the flashlight for the long walk in the dark.

From where I parked the car to where I encountered the lake was about 3/4 mile journey through a forest of large live-oak trees and their umbrella canopies shielded any light from above so that there were several patches where you could see nothing around other than what the flashlight was pointed at.

Being woods, there was no likelihood of encountering alligators but there was always the possibility of stumbling into some wild hogs, or wildcats and there had even been a sighting there a few months back of a black panther.

On my last such attempt through these woods at dark I heard several large animals moving in the shrubbery nearby and even some growls or grunts that raised my level of anxiety. But this time, other than some large winged creatures that I disturbed on one section of the trail, I didn’t hear or see anyone.

The twilight itself wasn’t particularly wonderful but it was the experience of getting there that mattered. Breathing in the fresh air and feeling alone and at one with nature was a wondrously special way to start a day.

I have attached a few images at the end of the blog and I hope you enjoy. They are on the dark-side so best not viewed in the brightness of some well-lit area on a phone. But the very darkest ones of the moon through the trees are probably my favorites.

It was just after twilight and before dawn when I switched lenses to the zoom and I stood there for a moment just looking from the shore across at the horizon in hope that something might happen.

Just then an Osprey dropped right in front of me, hit the water with a splash and emerged with a sizeable catfish in his claws. I can’t tell you the number of times, I have wished for such an event when my large zoom would thrive in capturing the moment.

But unfortunately for me, the lighting was terrible, and my camera was still in manual mode, set to a shutter speed of 1/10 of a second, and in my hands (not on a tripod). I furtively took some shots of what was happening but I knew I was getting nothing.

I tried to figure out if I should change the settings on the camera in order to get something but it happened all too fast for me and the moment was gone. He then flew right over my head, fish in claws, and I thought I felt a drop of water hit my head as the beat of his wings thumped in my ear-drums.

With the moment gone, I had conflicting emotions. On one hand there was the huge thrill of witnessing what I had just seen. On the other hand there was the feeling of abject failure in missing such an opportunity with my camera.

As he flew on to a distant tree where he could enjoy his breakfast, the latter feeling was the one that really took hold and I scolded myself on such a dismal performance by someone who likes to think of himself as a somewhat decent photographer.

And that is where the thought for today’s blog took shape in my brain.

I decided to call it the R.O.A.D. of our journey through life. This is the Realization of Opportunity vs Ability and Decision.

You see, Opportunities happen along our journey quite possibly on a regular occurrence. Some of these can be life altering and others simply moments that could enhance our life experience in some manner.

Realization that an opportunity is happening is the first step in not letting it pass you by. I suspect that there are many in my life that I never even knew were there at various points in my journey. Perhaps they are moments where I was looking another way, or distracted in a different thought, or maybe I even completely misread the moment to where I saw but didn’t recognize it.

A very important aspect to the success of an opportunistic moment is our Ability to seize it. Oftentimes we may lack the skills or the resources even when we do recognize it correctly. For example, there may be an opportunity to make millions if we had ten thousand to invest in it but if we don’t have the ten thousand in the first place, then tough shit on us.

I have read a lot over the years about this important combination of Opportunity and Ability and while I agree that it is true, there is another significant quality to the moment that is equally important.

And that is our ability to make the right Decision in being able to seize and convert the opportunity and making it something real in our lives.

For example, in yesterday’s moment, I made the wrong decision and it cost me any chance I had of seizing what was happening before me. Had I switched my camera into auto-mode rather than cripple myself with possibilities of settings that needed to be simultaneously changed in manual mode, I would have very likely got something.

Yes, the lighting was incredibly wrong but still it would have improved my likelihood of success.

Our decision making skills get tested at many points in our lives and while I pride myself on my ability to make a decision regardless of the pressures in place, like most people, I sometimes get that decision wrong.

And when we make the wrong decision, it doesn’t matter how well we recognized the opportunity, how real the opportunity was, or how able we truly were to take it.

Decisions haunt us throughout our lives and those of us who look back at bad ones, carry them like a mill-stone around our necks.

But the point in looking back at them at all is to realize that we made a bad decision and to learn from it so hopefully we don’t repeat that again in the future.

You can bet that if I ever find myself in a similar situation to yesterday’s Osprey experience, that my first reaction will be to throw the camera into auto mode.

Lesson learned.

… just a thought.

Upon Closer View

It was one of those things where the details completely escape you at the moment and only later that you end up noticing something quite spectacular.

Yesterday’s haul from Honeymoon Island ended up soaking in a bucket overnight and then I hosed them off this morning and put them outside to dry.

On the finger-shaped coral piece I noticed teeny floral-like imprints embedded into it and Morgan this morning noticed the same in another chunk of coral.

We haven’t had any luck identifying it yet but to give you an idea, each flower shape is about a millimeter in diameter. If I hadn’t accidentally noticed it in an image I took, it is so small that I probably wouldn’t have at all.

So this morning, I lit the two pieces properly in studio and took a small few shots that would correctly bring out the detail.

I have added four of them at the end of this blog and hope you enjoy.

The thought that I was left with that forms the subject of this blog is how we go through life in a rush caught between taking in the bigger picture and missing out on the finer details.

We certainly don’t want to miss the big picture. This is what guides us in our best direction through life and provides us the overall plan that our journey follows.

But we also have to occasionally stop and take a closer look at things so that we don’t miss out on things that potentially constitute our most enjoyable moments.

Oftentimes, we push through the years, glibly dealing with the finer points of life while we pursue what we consider bigger things.

For example, we just consume the dinners our mom puts on the table without thought of her effort in their creation. Only later to realize that she is gone and we have no idea how she created such fare.

Or we take work home with us and become consumed in our efforts to get ahead at the job, oblivious to the first steps that little Debbie took or how Brad scored the winning goal for the junior varsity team and became a momentary hero.

In these types of instance, we typically get reminders in later life of what we have missed. Mom dies, the kids grow up. And we strain for memories of both and we feel sad.

But the vast majority of detail that we missed, never reappears. We don’t even know we lost it. We are oblivious to the fact that it was even occurring. And this becomes an invisible sadness within us; not even knowing what we missed out on.

Yes, we aren’t left looking at a grainy polaroid of a time long gone and wishing for “the good old days”. But we spend our lives in a diluted or paler version of what we could be experiencing.

Failing to live our life to its fullest potential is probably something that happens to us all. We each come up short on what could have been and this is primarily because we all have short-comings and occasionally have failings.

But living a poorer life because we raced through it not noticing what was right before our eyes, is nothing to do with our short-comings. Yet is everything to do with our failings.

“Taking time to stop and smell the roses” is a well-worn phrase and yet most of us never do that. We run through life as if in a race to get to the end, when each step we take provides us an opportunity to pause and take in the details of our journey itself.

… just a thought.

Washed Up

Cassandra and I set off at the crack of dawn for Honeymoon Island, just north of Tampa. The start to the day was heavily closed-in with thick cloud and this suited us perfectly as we were intent on beach-combing rather than sun worshipping.

I had in my mind the collecting of anything that looked like coral or agate for Morgan and she was intent on finding shells and precious minerals that she could use in her jewelry making efforts. Although we had no expectation of one, she was also on the look out for a sand-dollar.

The place didn’t open to the public until 8am by which time early access members had been let loose on the place about a half hour ahead of us, so there was very little likelihood of the latter.

Undaunted we set off slowly heading north, picking up and examining anything that looked cool and the keepers were gently placed in the bags that we each had.

The company and conversation was excellent and we were a couple of hours in when tummy rumbles told us that we needed to turn around and head back for something to eat.

By then, we had picked our way through tons of shells and stones, examined shapes and textures that we struggled to identify and even took the time to watch some dolphins off-shore, surface and dive in the distance.

It was a wonderful journey, enhanced by our discovering some amazing sand-designs that looks like trees made by the retreating tide.

And it was capped off with Cassandra unearthing an almost completely hidden sand-dollar on our way back. Such a bonus!

I have included some images taken along the way at the end of the blog and I hope you enjoy.

If you haven’t been to Honeymoon Island, it is a wonderful beach area, with lots of soft sand but adorned with heavy amounts of shells and stones washed up by the gulf tides.

There was one moment as we stood there that it occurred to me that the amount of shells was almost overwhelming and considering that each was once a live creature, it represented an amazing ocean-graveyard.

Their were occasional living creatures that we came across such as hermit crabs that we helped back into the waters, but essentially all around us was dead.

And yet in this death, represented an amazing beauty that captivated the imagination and teased the soul.

Each creature lived its life in the sea, until eventually their remains were washed up so that we could pick through them and marvel at the colors and shapes.

There was nothing morbid or sad about the situation and on the contrary, their deaths had become a source or life to the souls of those of us on the beach enjoying the morning.

It is hard to imagine that there was much great mourning, eulogies, and flags at half-mast for any of these creatures that lost their lives, by their relatives still swimming the seas.

And as if to reinforce the natural passage from life to death, mother nature had created a tapestry of beauty and awe so that their deaths became a part of the larger celebration of life.

We humans have grown to fear death, make vain attempts to prolong life, and have imagined a self-important after-life in an attempt to soothe the eventual loss that we know eventually comes to us all.

When faced with the loss of our loved ones, we wail and moan about how poor Aunt Maggie was taken from us so soon (even though she was 95) and drop to our knees in prayer that her everlasting life will place her with the angels.

While there is always and rightfully the sadness of loss with someone dear to us that is taken in an accident or at their prime, universal feeling of loss is frankly ridiculous.

Our lives are to be lived in love and enjoyment as much as we can, but when they are over there is no need to try to weave a story of how we all live together in the clouds, listening to endless harp music and basking in the eternal love of our long-bearded creator.

Apart from being abject nonsense and appealing only to the simple minded or perpetually fearful, it devalues our lives here, right now in this present moment. Our moments of life are fleeting and yet important and their importance is truly moreso to those around us than to us ourselves.

According to the dictionary, the term washed up means “no longer effective or successful” but to this planet our effectiveness or success is irrelevant and we are really just a part of the tree of life.

… just a thought!

Blue Christmas

Thick fog and cloud blanketed the area this morning and even though it was pitch black when I was deciding how to start my day, I knew it held no promise of any kind of dawn.

That being said, I could have stayed at home. But the kitty chores were done and there were still a couple of hours until daylight and sometimes that itch just has to be scratched.

So I grabbed the camera with the new 24mm lens and headed into downtown Lakeland to see if they had the holiday decorations up yet.

I wasn’t disappointed as the small park area just off main street was lit up beautifully. Yes, it is only small-town decorations and not vying for international recognition but it was tasteful and well-appointed so I felt this was a good way to continue testing the new lens.

Unfortunately for me, once I got out of the car with the camera, I couldn’t find my glasses and was pissed at myself for leaving them at home.

“You taking pictures?” a homeless dude asked as I fumbled the camera onto the tripod.

“I hope so” was my reply and I went on to explain that I can’t see shit on the camera settings without my glasses. “So, who knows what I’m gonna get” I added as I took the first picture.

I took some shots there and then finished up by Lake Mirror a couple of blocks away. I have added some of what I got at the end of the blog. Hope you enjoy.

By the way, when I arrived home and went to take the camera off the tripod I found my glasses that had attached themselves to the strap on the camera. I had them all along! Such an eejit.

In any event, while I was there, I noticed there were about fifteen or twenty homeless people scattered around the park (and another couple down by Lake Mirror on benches) and with all the lights and seasonal music that was blaring away on speakers, I wondered what they thought of the holiday season.

In contrast, the nearby streets were a hive of activity as street vendors began setting up their stalls for some kind of Christmas market that must be running this weekend.

As I drove away, I wasn’t begrudging at all these small business vendors and whatever monies they would make, nor the customers that would throng the stalls later getting more “stuff” for under the tree. Everyone is fully entitled to do that.

But I was left wondering on how the homeless people there saw this contrast and what it does to their own sense of well-being.

The lights and seasonal music must remind them of the holidays that they will not be spending with loved ones. And the market mayhem later will serve to remind them of everything they don’t have under their own tree.

Oh wait, they don’t have a tree of their own anyway, so what’s the deal?

Well the truth is that everyone has a tree, even if only in their own mind. It becomes the focal point of the material side of this holiday celebration. Just as the gathering with loved ones becomes the focus of the emotional side.

This is not just about homeless people either. There are lots of people out there who will have nothing to celebrate nor anyone to celebrate with.

Loneliness is the true blue Christmas that these folk experience.

Some of this is caused by loss of loved ones or even loss of love itself.

But much of it is caused by our continued evolution into a more isolated society. As we move more online and shy away from personal contact, we give our lives a distinct blue pallor that colors every facet of our lives.

We remote shop, remote work, only eat take-out or food that is delivered. Our relationships move online, with both loved ones and family. And we avoid contact with our neighbors.

I re-watched that movie Surrogates a couple of weeks back and startled myself at how accurately it paints a society that embraces isolation. I am not recommending it as a wonderful movie experience by all means, but its message is one that we need to be aware of.

Humans, like much of the living planet, are social creatures. Our development has revolved around social interactions and yet we are now shunning them at an alarming rate.

How many of us dutifully use the self-checkouts now at our grocery stores? These are becoming the norm and unlikely to reverse course.

And the number of people that are shifting to “customer pick-up” spots rather than getting out of their fucking cars and walking the aisles, where god-forbid, they might actually encounter another human or two that they might have to acknowledge.

I went to Walmart in Brandon during the week and they were promoting their new home delivery by drone service, so soon we won’t even get to meet the person that brings us our stuff.

Much of this shift becomes invisible to us throughout our normal existence but at times of the years where we are supposed to be celebrating with our fellow man, it becomes more obvious.

Blue Christmas is a lovely old song by Elvis Presley. But that’s all it should be.

No one deserves to live a blue life.

… just a thought!