I hadn’t done a sunrise in ages. I noted that to myself last night and promised that if I could make it work this morning, then I would head down to Lake Parker.

Not having done one has been a combination of a general being overwhelmed with too many things on my plate and also a feeling that over a few months I had done so many, that there was nothing left to shoot.

Morning starts are probably the most overrun aspects of my life, these days. So many little mouths to feed and only two hands to feed them with.

With ten cats and a new batch of possum babies, the pressure is on me from the moment I step out of bed these days. My own breakfast and medicine-taking doesn’t typically happen until that first hour is over and all the little furry guys are off about their day.

So, by foregoing breakfast and forgetting the medicine, I was able to streamline the process this morning and get down to the boat ramp at Lake Parker before the sky started to do anything.

I took the 11mm lens as I think it is a great sky-lens with such a wide view.

Anyway, hope you like what I got and though I won’t win any awards for it, it was still a lovely morning to watch the progression.


As I stood down there and the men in their boats began their days, I stood at the end of the pier and with the soft breeze wafting gently around me, I breathed in the moment and enjoyed the calm and wondrous start to the day.

That’s what brought this blog thought to mind, actually. You see, I had grown so oversaturated with beautiful sunrises, I forgot how beautiful they actually are. And the joy that they bring to my heart in witnessing.

Why is it that we can “have too much of a good thing” to where we forget how good it actually is?

Getting spoiled is not unique to us humans. I have noticed the same behavior in these little furry guys that live with me. There was a time they would eat anything but now unless it is Fancy Feast Gravy Lovers, and a particular flavor or two of that, you can whistle Dixie trying to get their interest.

I remember thinking about this whole behavioral aspect many years ago when saw some young African kid being almost ecstatic when he was handed a bowl of rice by a charity on TV. Hand a bowl of rice to any kid here in America and they will just look at you, waiting for the rest.

The sunrises here in Florida are so frequently beautiful that they are taking for granted by almost everyone. In all my years of going down to Lake Parker to watch them, I have never noticed one other person there for it. Yes, there have been boaters setting off and an occasional person standing there fishing as the sun comes up.

But the rising sun generates very little awe in the viewers here.

Isn’t that sad.

John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (from 1667) essentially drove home the point that we only notice paradise when it is taken away. If we find ourselves living in it, pretty soon, we (and our cats) take it all for granted.

I have seen this to be true in almost every facet of life. It is not just where we live, what we eat and drink, what we experience. But, even the people in our lives; we become so accustomed to them that we only truly notice them when they are taken away.

It might be a love lost, or a tragedy that takes someone from us. But whatever it is, the measure by which we love them only truly hits home when they are no longer in our lives.

Life has driven this point home for me repeatedly in the past few years and I still get sudden pangs of loss and grief when I am unable to call my Dad or Mam and share some happening with them. Or maybe I just walk by a picture of them that I have lain somewhere.

And I can’t drive by the train track where Brittany tried to kill herself, without wishing for times long gone with her.

So, I guess the point I am trying to make here is that we should look around us often and see who and what is in our lives and in our hearts. Because one day that may not be the case. The sun may not rise or we may not be around to see it.

Appreciating what we have and who we have, is an essential part of our living. Look around today and breathe in life. And if you see something pretty, stop and appreciate it.

It, or you, won’t always be here to.

… just a thought!

Simply Extraorbinary

It was one those last minute calls you get that asks if you would care to meet up that evening and shoot some stuff.

In my case it is “shoot some stuff” but in reality it could be any last minute invite that makes you change your plans and jump on it.

I didn’t really have plans worth talking about in all seriousness, so when Jax asked if I wanted to grab my orb (sounds rude, I know) and see what we could do with a steel wool project, it was easy to say “yes”.

We have shot steel wool together a few times in the past and it has never been a disappointment. There is something about the traces that fiery shards of metal create as they fly across the night sky.

Such experiments often result in a slight burn here and there but not always. Even when they do, there is a general feeling of “that was worth it”.

Last night’s variation was about using the orb to focus what the spark trails might be doing and this took us both into no-man’s-land. We had never done this before and it took us a couple of shots to realize that the focus we needed the camera set to was the back surface of the orb.

Once we had that figured out, the biggest challenge was filling up the orb with some interesting action that might be worth capturing.

We went to three separate little spots in the dark, with only the lake reflections being orbless. We fought off mosquitoes and avoided stepping on snakes or disturbing alligators and in the end we got some cool pics which I have attached at the end of this blog.

I have added a few black and white variants and somewhere in there, I hope you find something to enjoy.

I know that we both certainly did.

It was an awesome fun project and like all good projects, required us to bend our minds a little, experiment a little, and learn a little. This is where having a cool science-lady to work with as your partner, really helps. She is an ace.

Anyway, by the time I finished going through what we got today on the PC, the thought it left me was twofold … how we are well served by not being too rigid in our plans, and how we have to be willing to step off solid ground and risk failure occasionally.

It would have been easy to just gracefully decline the suggestion and find a cozy spot on the sofa to snuggle up into. There are no mosquitoes there and I can trudge off to bed whenever I want instead of finding myself an hour from home when I get to a tired point.

But in reality, our sofas are the worst places to live out our lives. I am old enough to be able to see the finishing line from where I am and I certainly don’t want to cross it feet up in recline with a remote in my hand.

Relaxation and entertainment are well-packaged distractions from life and the masses have been fed such concepts for millennia as something we should all be happy to consume.

But we should resist the consumption because they can very easily consume our lives and leave us falling well short of the life experience we should have had.

Those who live for wealth want us to be happy with empty lives so that they have a clear field for living their own greedy potentials beyond their dreams.

Roman emperors used the colosseum with gladiator fight and chariot races to distract the masses while they debauched and engaged in excesses that gave them what they wanted in life.

Today’s moguls do the same with a myriad of channels and online deliveries that will one day convince the masses that living an online life is somehow more valuable than living a real one.

Avoid that trap!

And then when you do find yourself venturing out, go somewhere you haven’t been, do something you haven’t done, risk falling flat on your face.

This is how we expand our horizons. Yes, we will occasionally get bitten (hopefully by a mosquito and not an alligator) but that is all part of the gamble.

Life cannot be a sure thing. It should be an adventure. Real adventure always has the possibility of success or failure. And while these adventures don’t need to risk our lives, they do occasionally need to risk our souls.

So what if we look foolish or an idea is completely stupid? Why fear failure when it is simply a learning mechanism?

My grannie told me once in her later years that the thing she hated most about dying was that all she had learned in life would be lost with her. I wish I had been smart enough at the time to tell her that the learning she did was for her living years. Death was irrelevant, in that sense.

… just a thought!

Roller Coasters

This was a week of huge negatives, intermittently sprinkled with a few positives and yesterday seemed to set out to prove the point with early morning disasters like the AC failing and locking my only set of keys into the office. Then an hour or two later I was celebrating the good news that Finn didn’t need a third operation, with the vet confirming that he is healing well.

Earlier in the week I experienced what to all accounts felt like a stroke, only for the brain scan the following day to put me in the all clear.

It seemed impossible to count on anything going in a particular direction and by the time yesterday evening arrived, I was looking forward to going to bed and calling it a day early.

Then as I was rounding up Everest, the last of the five office cats, she drew my attention to a lovely visitor that was in the corner of my yard. I would never have noticed Mrs. Brisby’s daughter. She was standing quietly in the corner trying to be inconspicuous.

My cats will often stare off into nothing that I can see and most times I have resigned myself to understanding that they see spirits that my eyes don’t. But this time, Everest picked up the beautiful deer and I managed to get a few pics of her which I have at the end of the blog.

Then when it got dark, some significant lightning started going on outside, so I grabbed the camera and headed off down to the ball-fields to try to catch it. But as soon as I set up the camera on the tripod, it began to pour unmercifully on me. The camera was getting soaked, the lens was splashed with so many raindrops, that attempting to dry it off was merely a joke.

So, rather than abandoning the whole idea of trying to catch some lightning, I sat back in the car and tried to shoot some off-tripod. The lens was still getting wet, but not completely destroyed and I was able to get some shots (water on the lens making some of them interesting). I put them at the end of the blog too.

Then before I was finished, the car battery died (don’t ask me how) and I had to walk home in the rain, which thankfully had lightened off a bit. We have a car starter and I charged it overnight and walked it down this morning but that too failed. So, then I had to call Carrie at 7 am and she drove almost 45 minutes to help me jump start the car.

To cut a long story short, that didn’t work either, so I had to remove the battery and we drove to an Auto Zone and picked up a new one.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the two set of pics and the whole back and forth of bad-good-bad-good really left me thinking for today’s blog that while we seek consistency and for things to run smoothly, they often times don’t.

How we handle this roller coaster can honestly determine the level of happiness that we experience on a daily basis.

Some people will focus on the negative experiences and this can have a seriously profound impact on their state of happiness.

Others will moan about the negatives and get caught up in an effort to correct them.

But the truth often is that good or bad, many of these experiences are outside of our control. And therefore allowing yourself to get frustrated or bothered about such experiences, is pointless in the extreme.

There is nothing we can do about them and therefore there is no learning or corrections to be made on our part to avoid them happening again in the future.

If there was something we could modify that would stop them from happening, then that would be a moment of personal growth. But getting upset at the rain because you went to the trouble of setting up your camera on the tripod and now have to retreat from it, is nonsensical.

You could argue that I should have been more careful with my office keys, or monitored the AC better than I did, or had the battery tested in anticipation that it might fail. But sometimes, shit just happens.

You can cry about it, get angry, feel the whole world is against you, or you can just acknowledge that, regardless of how we might try to control it, life just does its own thing regardless.

I chose this week, to focus on some of the amazing positives; Finn not needing the operation, my brain being ok, Teresa (Mrs. Brisby’s daughter) visiting the yard and posing for me, and finding a high-visibility jacket in my car for the walk home on the dark country road.

Yes, life is a roller coaster and we have to deal with the lows if we also are chasing the highs.

At the end, it will become a simple flatline but until then, enjoy the ride!

… just a thought.

And some, you win!

Having just bitched about my own shortcomings and limitations in yesterday’s blog, I decided to continue with the good fight last night.

I have great difficulty in giving up on things and I am often the last one to give up the ghost after everyone else has long since left. Some would consider that a strength of character, others would call me stubborn. And frankly, I suspect it is the latter.

But for whatever reason, I found myself down at the softball fields on Walker Rd last night and even if I hadn’t gotten any decent shots of the lightning, I would still have considered the outing successful. There were some blasts of lightning there that just had to be seen to be believed, rippling across the skies above me and leaving me once again in awe of nature.

But as it turned out, I did get some decent shots and I have attached them at the end of the blog. None are photoshopped, not even the one with me in it. They are exactly as taken.

There was even one moment (picture 4 below) where the skies got so bright that it looked like a portal to another time dimension was opening up right in front of me. If a naked Arnold had appeared in the parking lot in front of me, I would not have been surprised.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these even a fraction as much as how I enjoyed bearing witness to them happening.

I guess what it leads me to, by way of a blog thought, is that no matter how bad you are, how many times you fail, how the odds stack up against you, just never give up!

A victory may be just around the corner and if you aren’t there to see it, then your last experience will be that of failure.

We need victories. Defeats are a learning tool for us, but victories are our reward for that learning.

There are always moments that require us to step back and lick our wounds, but we need not to become consumed with the wound. We need to be consumed with the fight.

It is there to be won. And we need to be there to win it!

… just a thought!


Four different nights this week, I took my camera out trying to catch some lightning. Some evenings obliged with nice lightning shows. Others just looked back at me and gave me nothing.

I chose two different spots to shoot from, depending in which direction I thought the lightning might be (east, west, north, south). Sometimes, I found myself in the wrong place, shooting in the wrong direction. But sometimes where you are is where you are and you just have to make the best of it.

To say that I fucked up so many opportunities would be a massive understatement and even though I ended up with some decent shots, I missed so many more great ones.

The screw ups ran the gamut of mistakes from a weak battery in the trigger, focusing on the wrong distance, moving the camera, forgetting to zoom back out after focusing, pointing at the wrong part of the sky. You name it, I did it.

Despite me, there are some nice ones in what I got so I have them at the end of this blog. I hope you find something there to enjoy.

But by the time I drove away from the most recent one last night, I have to admit I was seriously pissed at myself. It isn’t that I hate making mistakes (we all do) it’s that I hate making silly ones.

Last night’s screw up was forgetting to refocus and zoom back out after I made an attempt to shoot a lovely rising moon. I didn’t even get the shot of the moon that I wanted. Go figure!

The problems with silly mistakes is they are the kind we should not be making. They are typically a repeat of something we have done wrong before and that is inexcusable. The whole purpose of making mistakes is that we learn from them and it improves us. Without the learning and improving, we are just floundering.

Life keeps presenting us with opportunities to learn and improve. it is one of the most wonderful parts of being alive; the chance to advance ourselves in some direction or other. These are the opportunities that allow us to improve skills, behaviors, knowledge, and even character.

But if we don’t take these opportunities, then our lives and likely those around us, are ultimately poorer.

Our lives become defined by a self-limiting aspect for which there is no excuse.

When we miss an opportunity because we couldn’t take it, that is one thing. Maybe we were busy, or didn’t have the skills to grab on to it, or maybe even not interested in it. There is a shame in that anyway, I would argue but at least our conscious decisions stopped us from taking the opportunity in front of us.

But when we try and fail because of stupidity; something we should have been able to do, then the shame becomes greater.

“At least I tried” is a good sentiment but not when you should have been able. Life requires us to do what we can do. When we don’t do what we can do, we let ourselves down.

Regulating our mistakes is the right approach to dealing with them. We have to allow ourselves to make them and being willing to make them is what gives us the drive to tackle something that might seem beyond us. But we should never be repeating mistakes.

When we do that, we disregard the importance of actually achieving something and frankly that is a character flaw.

Seeking to achieve should be an intrinsic part of our nature. Our character is built around it. It isn’t the most important part of who we are but it does take us on the path to becoming who we want to be.

… just a thought.

This was the full moon on night three.

Own Back Yard

It was another hot and steamy day here in Florida. While some folks were doing barbeques and getting ready for fireworks, I was just following my daily routine of gathering dishes, washing them and refilling them for the wildlife that comes to my back yard.

While possums and squirrels are the main beneficiaries of my efforts, I also cut up several slices of bread and throw them across the yard for whatever birds might be hungry or just interested in a fly-thru fast food place.

As always, there was an assortment of colorful characters stopping by to help themselves and the two that took the cake for me were the Cardinal and the Blue Jay. All birds are beautiful, in my opinion, but these two stand out in this environment because their coloring stops them from fitting in.

It is difficult to hide from predators in a green environment when you are red or blue.

There was also the non-feathered bread-eaters like squirrels but they tended to blend in just fine, only given away by their movement. And all of this was under the watchful eye of Lincoln. She always looks so serious in my pics.

Anyway, despite the fading light and the wet late-afternoon conditions, I managed to get a few nice pics and they are at the end of the blog if you care to check them out. I hope you enjoy!

The blog thought very much revolved around the location for these pictures being my own back yard.

There was no trail involved (other than the trail of breadcrumbs), no drive to an exotic location, no stepping over alligators. And sometimes, that is exactly what we need to understand.

Sometimes the greener grass is on our side.

There is something about our psyche that makes us imagine that everywhere else is better than where we are. We chase distant clouds and listen carefully to foreign accents, and crave whatever they tell us is Europe’s Favorite.

Funny thing is in Europe they advertise the same shit telling them it is America’s Favorite.

It would be easy to blame marketing or advertising. But the truth goes deeper than that. It goes to our own level of satisfaction and dissatisfaction with wherever we are in life.

If a person is inherently happy, they don’t need to wish they were somewhere else.

We are taught early in life to want more or better and while that can be a key ingredient in people driving themselves forward in pursuit of life goals, we have to be very careful not to undervalue where we are now in life.

“I can’t get no satisfaction” is more than just a Rolling Stones song. It can be a very rsad reality for many people that just don’t appreciate where they are, who they are with, what they are doing … right now.

“Live the moment” is a philosophy that is very important.

The pursuit of happiness is a nice idea but very often, we don’t need to pursue anything. We just need to appreciate it.

… just a thought!

Happy Trails

I set off this morning to Circle B as soon as all the kitties were fed and found. The problem with having a dozen cats (and a myriad of wild possums and raccoons) looking at you each day is that it can become such a vocation that personal life takes a back seat.

And with Finn not even half way through his amputation ordeal, the physical care and mental care has become all consuming.

So, finding a crack in the matrix that allowed me a couple of hours away on a trail was a genuine godsend this morning.

I got there just as the sun rose and there were very few people around. In fact I was on the back stretch when I finally saw some other humans coming in the opposite direction.

The trail I chose was the one that takes a long loop down by Lake Hancock and when I unthinkingly started down a different one, I changed course, which is how I ended up heading in the opposite direction to the way I normally go.

You could tell, I haven’t been doing as many shoots as I want to, as I botched up several good opportunities along the way. I also made the unforgiveable mistake of not bringing a lens cloth with me. So when I hit humid zones along the first half of the trail, my lens fogged up and I was left trying to use the inside of my shirt to recover.

That is rarely a good solution and certainly not when you are sweating into that same shirt. The sight of me this morning struggling along a steamy trail really reinforced my standing as an unprofessional photographer.

In any event, there were a few wins along the way and I have attached a number of the best shots at the end of the blog. I hope you enjoy!

It was when I was on the last leg of the trail that the thought for today’s blog hit me. You see, despite my failings and frustrations, being on the trail made me distinctly happy. I forgot all the pressures that have been mercilessly crushing me for the past few months and for a while it was just me, mother nature, and my sweaty shirt.

And regardless of how I moan about it now, I loved every step of the way.

Trails for me are happy places and so I found myself singing that old Roy Rogers song Happy Trails. Right now all you young folk are thinking how you never knew that the restaurant chain put out a song.

But strangely enough, before he licensed his name to be used by the restaurant, Roy Rogers was a big movie star who rivalled Gene Autry for the title of America’s favorite singing cowboy. Oh deer jeezez, you don’t know who Gene Autry is, do you?


Anyway, I digress. You see, the important lines in that little ditty, go “Some trails are happy trails, others are blue. It’s the way you ride the trail that counts, here’s a happy one for you”.

I have been struggling with the unfairness of life for a while, feeling appropriately sorry for myself and wishing life were different.

It is easy to indulge ourselves with self-pity and I am as guilty as most in that regards. But self-pity is a false god that only serves to distract us away from dealing with whatever isn’t going well.

When we get stuck in that mode we can end up spending more energy on moaning about the problem than fixing it. And no, I am not naive enough to think that all problems can be fixed. But I do believe that all problems can be addressed.

And at the end of the day, we are only human and all we can do is try.

It is difficult to accept that the trail we are on is tougher than those that others seem to journey on. We can talk about how the tough trails build character until we are blue in the face but the truth is each of us would occasionally trade a little character for a little bit of an easier trail.

We don’t get to pick our trails, it is mostly a matter of pure luck which trail we are on.

All we can do is ride them.

So, saddle up, ride it as best you can and sing a happy tune regardless. Because even if the tune is the only happy experience we have at that moment in time, at least it is a little piece of happiness that makes the trail less awful.

… just a thought!