On the grey days

We had a cold front move through earlier today and I could see it coming in yesterday evening when I was planning my day today. Rain was forecast as 100% in the morning and as expected I woke up to thick grey clouds.

I had resolved anyway to head for Circle B no matter what and it looked like I had about a two hour window after sunrise and before the rain came. So, gloomy or not, I grabbed the camera and headed off to one of the trails.

My expectations were absolutely minimal and with many of the creatures bedded down waiting for the front to pass over, the place seemed quite deserted.

The wind was keeping most of the birds out of the sky and the few that were there seemed to be quite subdued in what they were up to.

But here’s the thing … each of these guys brought color into the day just by being there and I appreciate every one of them. If they had all hidden away, I wouldn’t have held it against them so every little creature that I saw was a real bonus.

And boy were there some beautiful little bonuses there for me today. You can see here for yourself some of the guys that braved the grey day. My favorite shots are of the tricolor heron, the lone feather floating on the water, and the amazing little colored bunting.

I had never seen a bunting before and to find him at the very end of my trail was an unexpected splash of color in a genuinely grey day.

I hope you enjoy!

It was that little guy that really got me thinking on today’s topic. You see, it wasn’t that it was a bad day; it wasn’t. It wasn’t that I hadn’t got some nice pics already; I had.

It was that he arrived completely unexpectedly and that if some kind person hadn’t pointed him out to me, I might have totally passed by the bush he was hidden in.

We all have rainy days in our life. We all have sunny days in our life. We may go through periods of sustained rain or long periods of sunshine. But the truth is that much of our lives is played out in grey days.

These are days that are non-descript, uneventful, not bad and not good … just grey days.

For many of us, these days pass by without distinction and they can be a real source of life passing us by, if we let it.

You see, much like the bunting, there is almost always a splash of color that we can find in our grey day. It doesn’t have to be a day changer; turning a day on its head.

It just needs to be a moment that we can acknowledge where something is special. For example, you might spot a rainbow, or a little flower in bloom, or a butterfly flits by. These are scarcely moments in and of themselves, but we can stop and breathe them in nonetheless.

Because when we stop and acknowledge something even as “trivial” as the little flower, we absorb its color into our day. We make it a little less grey.

Not all such little moments will be as colorful as the little bunting but they all count.

Have you ever lain in bed at the end of a grey day and wrestled with finding anything of significance that made the day worthwhile? You might convince yourself that you are just tired and need to go to sleep but the truth is that if you have stopped to smell a single flower and dreamed along the fight of a gentle butterfly, then all of a sudden just that tiny part of your day become memorable.

We don’t remember grey days. They fade away into obscurity as soon as they are gone. If there are enough of them, they account for the main reason why people let life pass them by. Suddenly waking out of a sleep to realize that the years are slipping by at an alarming rate.

But the moment we inject a little color into one, we add a memory that slows down the passage of time and makes each day a more valuable part of our life experience.

While we don’t know how many days we get on this planet, a good rule of thumb is to make as many of them as memorable as possible. Even if for nothing else than a tiny splash of color we added into one that was otherwise fading into grey.

… just a thought.

Normal Life

I have been silent, at least blog-wise, for the past few weeks. It has been a time-filled, chaotic, period interspersed with periods of normality that have allowed me to catch a breath.

During that time, the only real shots I have taken is of the life around me here at the creek. But I plan to visit a trail tomorrow and thought that I should put a quick note here with images from this time away, rather than just lose them in a file folder on my PC.

My five office cats are all here, along with TC (the little guy with the milk-beard) but Tetsuo and he-who-is-as-yet-unnamed, aren’t.

I also have a few shots of Woody at the very end, who seems to be hanging around here recently banging his head off some of the trees in my yard.

Anyway, hope you enjoy.

So, I guess that brings the cat-contingent here at home to twelve.

I guess one might say that I have a liking for cats. But I never imagined that I would end up the old catman that I have become.

And this has really made me pause to think about “normal” life and what it means to each of us.

The whole Trump era, the pandemic, and now this criminal war in Ukraine, seems to have really taken us all away from whatever we once considered normal and frankly I doubt if we will ever get back there.

Trump has created a new level of lying and deceit that will live on long after he is rotting in a coffin somewhere. The pandemic has altered daily life to a level that it will never return to pre-pandemic levels. And Putin has shown that true evil not only exists in the world but it has the support of the willfully ignorant.

So, how could normal ever return after all that?

And that raises the other question, which is “What is normal anyway?”

You see, my version of normal is not just different from most other people I know, but it is also different from what I considered normal some years ago.

And if I am correct, that means that most of you reading this will have also experienced several changes in your lives that redefined what normal is for you too.

You might therefore arrive at the conclusion that normal is a moving target. But truthfully, I would suggest that normal doesn’t exist.

It never did and it never will.

It is a figment of our imagination and something that we wish for when something in our lives is not going well.

It has become the fountain of youth of our generations. Something to wish for but never to attain.

More often than not, when we are in unhappy times, we search backwards in our memories to a time we were happy and we wish ourselves back there.

But was there ever really a “there” or is it just something that we have reshaped into a happier moment than where we are?

This aching for a better time is why some pathetic dotard can popularize a catch phrase like “Make America Great Again” and all the idiots buy the red hats in support and preach about taking us back to a better time.

But who exactly was this America great for? Are the black republicans really imagining the same great time in the past as the ignorant rednecks? Do they really want to sit in the back of a bus again?

And it is easy to pick on the morons, I know. But this issue is a lot bigger than just the red politics. It’s bigger than the commie bastards that want to pull a new curtain across Europe.

The real problem is so embedded into life for all of us that it creates a veil of unhappiness across our very existence. Individually it creates a real level of dissatisfaction in our lives that steals the joy from our achievements and undermines any sense of good in our status quo.

It runs rife through groups; political, religious, social, or whatever. Uniting them in a common cause of dissatisfaction where they collectively push for something. For example look how overactive these gun nuts are … they aren’t happy with having a handgun or two. They need assault rifles, bazookas, and other weapons of mass destruction because somehow that makes them think these might take them back to a time they were happy with the size of their dicks.

Dissatisfaction is a cruel master. By it’s very nature, it can never be satisfied. We might think once we invade Crimea we will be happy, but no. We also need Ukraine.

If we could develop a level of satisfaction with where we are instead of always wishing we were somewhere else, our sense of normal would return.

When we aim for a normal that never existed, it can never be reached. And therein lies the problem.

… just a thought.

Good Intentions

I set out a few days ago to make the most of another gorgeous Florida day. The skies were clear and blue and I had a crack in my schedule that allowed me to make the most of it.

It has been a challenging time of late and finding time for things I love to do has been a bit of an issue, to put it mildly.

So heading down to Circle B and hitting a trail down by Lake Hancock, reacquainted me with myself as much as with the sights and creatures that abound there.

I took the big gun (the 600 mm lens) and even though I didn’t use the tripod, I managed to control it enough to get some decent shots.

I’ve added them here at the end of the blog along with a picture of Coco who was just relaxing in a gravy lovers tray when I got back and a first shot of TC … he is the newest visitor to come by for food. That makes eleven cats at my place (in case you’re counting).

Anyway, hope you enjoy!

So, it was a day or so later, when I found myself trying to help a little moth that had been chased by the cats, that today’s thought first occurred to me.

The little guy had been chased indoors and had taken a few paw swipes by the time I got to him. But, I picked him up and brought him outside to the evening air and put him on the railing just outside the front door.

He was walking but a bit unsteady, so I looked up online what to feed a moth and the answer was mostly liquid, with high sugar content. Being a bad eater, I had no fruit at the house but I did have syrup. (You can tell I like pancakes by my waistline.)

To cut a long story short, I poured a couple teaspoons of it onto a small piece of plastic and then helped him near it so he could have a drink.

But the poor little guy walked into it and almost drowned in the syrup. I managed to get him back out but now he had a real coating of the stuff all over him as he walked away.

I went back in home defeated and tried to console myself that I had good intentions. But sometimes, despite the best of intentions we not only fail … we can make matters worse.

I love living creatures. Try my very best to kill no-one and if I come across an injured creature, I will extend myself to try to help.

But sometimes, life doesn’t want our help and in this case (as Morgan put it so eloquently) I IHOP-ed the poor guy up nicely for someone out looking for a maple-flavored snack.

Our intentions will often fall apart in circumstances where we try to have a positive impact. For example, how often have you heard of someone trying to break up a fight only to be shot or stabbed?

I know that is a rather dramatic example, but it does happen. And we have to be ready for it.

Because inside our heads we search for things we can affect. Perhaps even control. We think that if we put the right effort in, then the right result will happen.

Unfortunately that isn’t true and life has a way of reminding us of our own triviality in how life plays out.

So much of life weaves its way without our intervention and while it finds a path that may not be one we would choose, we are really quite irrelevant to the end result.

Yes, there are definitely times when we can have a positive impact on things around us but sometimes we just can’t.

Our inability to create our preferred result should not deter us from trying. It is the trying that occasionally brings small victories our way or a better life to those around us. Without such efforts life would devolve into an uncaring passage of time that goes from start to finish in a straight line.

We can and do alter the course of things around us. When we alter the course of an animal’s life in a positive manner, we elevate our own in the process. Our purpose for having existed in the first place is validated and if done so unselfishly, then all the better!

But just as in my maple-flavored moth experience, sometimes we just miss. We can revisit it in our heads and second guess other things we could have done, but at the end of the day we have to recognize that we are not gods.

We do not roll the dice and yet we must follow how they roll.

… just a thought!

Conflicted Interests

Just like the day before with the the birds at feeding time, I brought the camera out again yesterday to see what little feathered friends might be helping themselves to my offerings.

But this times the birds that were around were mostly staying in the trees and bushes because several of the cats were patrolling the area. In fact Everest and Lincoln were more stalking than patrolling; Everest in the tree above and Lincoln hiding by a bush below, one leap away from where the bread had been thrown.

Even Coco who is more the pacifist than anything else, was engaged in stealthy patrol and his occasional lip-licking must have given second thoughts to many of the feathered folk.

I’ve done my best to keep the cats away from the buffet area but for weeks now they have a penchant for letting the birds know who is boss in these neck of the woods.

As much as I love birds, this is one of the problems with having ten cats sharing residence with me. They may be loving and affectionate to me but their natural predator instincts have seen the demise of many a lizard, frog, vole, mouse, rat, and even a couple of birds.

I have rescued many from the jaws of death, but for every one I have saved, there are several I have failed to.

I love cats. I find them wildly intelligent, very independent, and seriously expressive. The same little lady that gives me huge doe-eyes of affection can in a moment produce a squint-stare of death when something smaller than me crosses their path.

Anyway, I have attached several of the pics from yesterday here at the end of the blog. Even one of the half moon that hung in the afternoon skies, observing all beneath it.

Hope you enjoy!

So, it was really the whole notion of conflicted interest that wrestled with my thoughts and gave me the topic for today’s blog.

I go out of my way to save all life … everything from spiders up to raccoons. Life here has given me many opportunities to help across that full range and I am really fortunate to having been able to.

But I am also aware that life’s circle involves death-giving-life and that at best any saving I do, is merely a temporary change of fortune for whoever the beneficiary is. And when I help one today, he may be killing another tomorrow.

It is a challenging thought and it puts me at odds with the majority of the community of nature photographers. Those who don’t interfere and continue to take the shot operate to different guidelines than me. If I can help, I do.

I don’t even have a convincing argument as to why my approach might be better. But that doesn’t stop me.

When we got overrun with rats a couple of years back and getting rid of them became a final option, I still went ahead and rescued over twenty of them and rehomed them away from residential setting. One little guy even bit me and drew blood but I still continued to carry him to safety.

I think it comes down in my head to every living creature having a right to life.

(Don’t try to extend that argument to a fetus with no ability to survive on its own by the way. That’s bullshit)

But while we like to think of human lives as the most important and some lives being more important than others, I strongly disagree. The least of worms deserves to be picked up and moved to somewhere where he has a chance to live.

The choice of who lives and dies should not be up to us.

Though we have designated several species of life to be consumable (cows, chickens, pigs, etc.) this is a highly immoral and flawed choice. When we make it, we assume infallibility and yet scream blue murder when other make the same infallible choice that consumes whales, dogs, and monkeys.

There is no moral choice here, no matter how we try to convince ourselves otherwise. We choose to slaughter and consume, not out of necessity, but out of want. Call it a food chain, or culling, or medical testing, it is still murder.

I am not vegetarian but have dramatically reduced my meat intake. And it bothers me that the rest of the world has gone in the opposite direction. We consume more meat now per person than ever before in the history of mankind.

And most of this consumption occurs in the sanitized factory food-chain environment so that we don’t even have to think about what poor creature had to die just so that we could eat that nugget, or burger, or sausage.

Don’t get me started on what this preoccupation with “meat production” is doing to the environment. Suffice to say that almost 20% of all greenhouse gasses are caused by the agriculture/meat industry … that isn’t far off twice the percentage caused by all transportation (13%).

There are many choices we make that have a degree of conflict of interest in the decision. Most are simply made based on a justification of what we want to do, regardless of the impact.

If all of us could just constrain our wants a little and reduce our willingness to kill just a tad … we would certainly upset billion dollar industries, but we might actually end up saving a planet.

… just a thought.

For the Birds

Putting out food for Possums and Raccoons each evening, has become part of my daily routine and the knowledge that I am making a meal available to some poor misfortunes is part of my running feel-good factor.

The same five dishes have gone out for the last few years and touch wood, I haven’t missed a single serving regardless of weather or other commitments.

So, by this time, they are used to my routine and if I am late, I begin to get some gentle reminders from them that they are waiting for me. Of course, along with the main course for those guys is four slices of bread neatly cut into squares and tossed near the bushes and trees for the birds. And somehow the word has passed from generation to generation and my arrival with the tray of delectables is greeted by a chorus of chirps and tweets.

I get some slight variation as each season goes by but mostly I am greeted by the same happy little faces and the moment the bread hits the ground, they swoop in and collect some nourishment.

They brave the cats and I try to shoo my kitties away. But in truth, these birds have to have their wits about them and only land for a second or two.

So, getting a few pics yesterday and today was a fun part of the process and I have added a selection at the end of the blog. Yesterday’s shots were only of a few wrens as I was too slow to catch the others. But today’s images caught the earlier arrivals (Cardinals, Blue Jays, and some I still need to look up to identify.

Anyway, hope you enjoy!

It was really this evening as I spoke to the cats and told them that the bread was for the birds, that the thought of this blog really took shape.

You see, if you look up the phrase “for the birds” you will see it is an American phrase that describes something as being meaningless, drivel, irrelevant.

We have over the years belittled many creatures with simple association of demeaning phrases and it reflects on our disregard for all who aren’t human. We will call someone a dirty rat, a snake in the grass, a filthy pig, or a blood-sucking leech.

Such metaphors conjure up imagery that most listeners attach negativity to and the target of the slur is appropriately vilified.

Broader terms such as calling someone a fucking animal is also a “good hit” that seeks to degrade the target in the mind of the listener.

While it is obvious that the speaker of such slurs is demeaning the intended target, what of the poor animals that are being used to fashion the slur?

Why do we think it is ok to take two of the most intelligent animals on the planet (rats and pigs) and define them simply as an item of derision?

And on the topic of the general-term metaphor, why do we allow the word animal to be used as an attack phrase? Why do we accept it as a demeaning slur?

If we think we are on solid ground implying that an animal is somehow “sub-human”, I would argue that most of our race is sub-animal. We exhibit traits that frankly most animals wouldn’t be caught dead doing.

For example look at the Seven Deadly Sins and ask yourself what animal you could paint with Pride, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, and Sloth?

Frankly the only animal that I can think of that could be described in such a fashion is human.

Like it or not, humans are animals. We may have evolved in a different way from others but that doesn’t mean superiority.

I am not even sure we would know what superiority actually is, if it hit us in the face. We can isolate certain characteristics such as communication superiority or military superiority or such but if you don’t see our inferiority in over-colonization, destruction, and climate impact, then you are missing the bigger picture.

Humans are in many ways parasitic on the planet that we have colonized. We live off the planet’s resources but use them at a far greater rate than we replenish.

I am not sure what good we do for this planet, but I sure as hell could talk for an hour on the bad we do to it.

Look at the greater ecosystem of which birds and bees are a part of, for example. Now imagine what would happen to the planet if both were to disappear overnight.

Simply put, the planet would collapse and the world would simply die.

Now imagine what would happen to the planet if humans were to disappear overnight.

Simply put, the planet would flourish.

What does that tell you? I know what it says to me and frankly boasting of human superiority rings very hollow in the halls of truth.

I am not sure what animals actually fall into the category of sub-human … perhaps it is time to examine a list of other parasites like fleas, lice, and tapeworms.

The Oxford Dictionary explains the word “parasite” as “an organism that lives in or on an organism of another species (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other’s expense.”

Doesn’t that sound awfully familiar?

Can’t you just imagine an argument that takes place between two higher-order creatures, where one delivers the ultimate put down to the other. “Quit behaving like a fucking human.”

… just a thought.

Frigid

This weekend, the whole east of the US is gripped in a strong cold front; the Northeast is submerged in severe winter storm and under tons of snow. Meanwhile here in Florida, temperatures have plummeted to overnight freezing and we are struggling with what we consider freezing temperatures.

I guess it is all relative. I have tried explaining how cold we are to people in tougher climes and I get no sympathy when I moan about cold hands and nose.

But when the weather hits freezing, even if it is just a day or two of the year, all talk turns to the weather. It becomes a dominant issue in conversations and it alters how we go about our day.

Yesterday morning, I decided to brave the cold and head to Circle B and wander down a trail. Being this cold (temp was somewhere in the 40s) I knew two things; firstly there would be blue skies overhead from the clear skies, and secondly there would be very few people there.


And I was right on both counts.

It was perfect for photographs with the bright blue skies and there were so many times when I was on a section of the trail without a single person anywhere in sight. It was truly idyllic.

It turned out to be a day for the birds … alligators were nowhere to be found as they sought deeper and warmer waters.

Great Blue Herons abounded and they present a good target for a camera. They move slowly and stay perfectly still while stalking their prey. And their size makes them easy to spot from a distance.

Less easy but nonetheless wonderful to try photographing were some of the small birds that flitted in and out of trees and bushes. I got some beauties and they are at the end of the blog. Hope you enjoy!

As I drove away and when feeling began to return to my lower extremities, I began to think over how we elevate certain things to importance only when they change to a point of being unusual.

For example, here in Florida on a typically warm, blue sky day, nobody even mentions how glorious the weather almost always is here in the sunshine state. Drop the temperature to where we have to wear a jacket and all of a sudden it becomes a common topic of conversation.

You see, us humans have an innate ability to take good things for granted. We only give attention to something that isn’t quite right for us and ignore all the wonderful gifts in our everyday life.

For example how much consideration do you normally give to the fact that we humans are not part of the normal food chain any more? We are one of the few species that don’t have to worry about that.

Yes, we find a myriad of ways to kill and mutilate ourselves, but being eaten by a higher order predator is not normally part of our existence.

Now imagine being a fish. Every day someone is trying to catch and eat you. This elevates your daily survival right up there along with finding something to eat so that you don’t starve … which is another thing that most of us humans don’t have to worry about. Unless you are unfortunate enough to live in a famine-level area, starvation isn’t likely to top your attention span for very long.

Close observation of the natural world gives great insight into some the material aspects of what we humans take for granted and it extends into other immediate areas (like having a home and a family and friends) very quickly when you begin to look at the lives of those little creatures all around us.

But what isn’t so immediately apparent in that environment is also the number of emotional or mental aspects of life that we take for granted. Like, how can you tell if a bird is happy? And do they experience hope and anticipation? Do they experience love? The answer is likely yes to most of those questions, but without the expressive face and the ability to shed tears, laugh, or moan, their experience is invisible to us.

So when we live in a state of happiness, contentment, or even just normality, we only notice when one or more of those states alter and we have to deal with a change. Otherwise, we rarely acknowledge when things are good. Although yesterday in passing by a photographer who was heading in the opposite direction, I did comment to him how this was such a perfect “happy to be alive” moment and he acknowledged the same.

And I guess, that is my point … it is important to acknowledge when we are having a good day. To acknowledge that we have some food in our belly, a place to rest our head and even (occasionally) that we are no longer part of the food chain.

We should also acknowledge that someone loves us, that we are fortunate enough to share moments with friends, and that we are enjoying ourselves, even if just for the moment.

To not do so, not only reduces our own life experience but it belittles those that are not as fortunate as we are. And make no mistake about it … we are indeed fortunate.

… just a thought!

Back in the day

Last week, we had the chance to visit one of my favorite spots in Ireland; the stone circle at Grange and the nearby Lough Gur settlement.

For those of you unfamiliar with the area, Lough Gur was archaeologically surveyed and found to have evidence of settlement for 6,000 years. And the stone circle itself is now 4,100 years old and the entrance to it along with two other partial circles in neighboring fields forms a perfect isosceles triangle.

The circle is 50 yards in diameter and as such is the largest circle known in Europe.

So, the feeling is not just that you are standing in a pretty place but that you have entered a place in time … a place of reverence, with connection to the deities and the stars.

I have added a few images from this visit at the end of the blog. Hope you enjoy.

Whenever I visit Ireland, I like to go visit. It is a very simple and uncommercialized spot and there in the natural surrounds it is very easy to let your mind drift back in time as you think of those that have been there before you and the life and times that played out there over the years.

It can be a very humbling exercise and one that makes you come to grips with your own insignificance and brevity of life.

And that is how the thought for today’s blog evolved in my head. How we can become so consumed with our own importance and self-worth, that we fail to see the bigger picture.

My lifetime, whenever it comes to an end, will be merely the smallest speck in the timeline of the world I live in. Unless I do something catastrophic that causes the earth to collide with the moon, my own existence will be completely lost as the world continues to turn.

To people that think the world revolves around them, that is a very difficult notion to accept and I pity them for their lack of understanding. No individual is important beyond a momentary spark of interest in the timeline of human existence.

And the entire human existence itself is only a speck in the timeline of this planet; barely noticeable as you examine the length of time this planet has existed. You see, humans have been on this planet for approximately 300,000 years and the planet itself has been here 4,500,000,000 years.

Yet there are some that think humanity is god’s gift to the planet and that they are god’s gift to humanity.

There is no coffee for these people to wake up and smell; there is only the stench of their pathetic selves to greet them and so they stay asleep in their miserable dream.

Humans created their gods to explain certain things their little brains could not understand and then used their own creation to inflate their own importance. They believe humans were created in gods image, so they see their deity as this elderly Caucasian with a long flowing beard living somewhere up in the clouds and smiling down on his wondrous creation.

If you want to believe in a god, then go for it. Whatever crutch you need to feel some degree of self-worth is fine with me. But when your creation allows you to justify certain behaviors based on your own highest ranking in creation … that’s where I have the problem.

You see, the notion that we humans are more important than all other creatures allows certain among us to mistreat, abuse, slaughter, and eradicate many of the other creatures that evolved on this same planet.

I have seen the callousness and those that perform it are small people; small minded, low intelligence, self-serving, scum.

Our race has a lot of wonderful people in it. People that are intelligent, humble, appreciative, aware. But there are others who think so highly of themselves that they willingly place themselves and their wants ahead of the very planet that gives them life.

Yet there was a moment, back in the day, before these books were written that humans coexisted with other creatures without grandiose ideologies that led to abuse.

Sometimes these creatures ate us and sometimes we ate them. Birds eat worms and one day worms eats birds. Such is the way of life.

The moment when we started building caskets and tombs to protect our decaying bodies after death, is the first real moment when humans decided that they were not part of the circle of life … but above it.

But like most of the things we pat ourselves on the back for; it is a false position.

We exist until we don’t. It’s a simple concept and one that scares only the feeble minded.

… just a thought.

Unadulterated

Last week, in Ireland, we went to the Clare coast and watched as the North Atlantic boiled in a cauldron of chaos in the small bay of Kilkee.

It was a humbling experience, witnessing such power and though we have overused the word to the point of ridiculousness, it was simply awesome.

The visual of an ocean so wild that it churned brown sand up on top of its waves and moved rocks flippantly out of its way, was simply stunning. Our plans to step out on the rocks at the pollock holes or catch the view from the cliff edge at George’s Head were quickly put aside when both locations were being subjected to the wonderful power of wave after wave.

The audible was very much a solid base sound as these wave after waves pounded the ground and rocks and drowned out the hiss of the strong ocean winds. It was like someone was beating a large base drum only to a beat that I had never heard before.

I’ve assembled some images at the end of this blog and hope that I do the scene even a smitten of justice.

Enjoy!

In the meantime, now that I am back stateside, I have reveled in the whole unspoilt aspect of the places we went to while in Ireland. I will gather some more images over the coming days once I have a chance to catch up with myself.

But the whole concept of unadulterated crept into my mind and why we have to identify such a scene as unusual in the first place.

That it is indeed remarkable that some pure unadulterated places still exist in the world, isn’t it a shame that we have to search far and wide to find one?

I have never understood the dichotomy in human behavior … most of humanity seems to marvel and stand in awe at natural beauty and yet that same humanity is responsible for the spoiling and contamination that makes most of our world adulterated.

In my mind that is the same as everyone loving and craving for sweet treats but simultaneously working to eradicate sugar fields from the planet.

It makes no sense.

Some of this is population, of course. I read once that we are already at almost twice the number of humans that the resources of this planet can sustainably support. Yet we continue to grow the population with careless abandon on a pace that is clearly running us right up to a precipice .

But even if we managed the population, we are hell bent on pollution, fossil fuel consumption, deforestation, and over commercialization on a scale that leaves every environment or planet-level decision in its wake.

I am embarrassed for humanity. We were given the smarts to do better and the knowledge of what we have been doing wrong. But neither have altered our course of self-destruction.

I know this may sound strange but I really don’t care about our self-destruction.

What I do care about is the countless little creatures and the pristine corners of the natural world, that get destroyed in the process. We are not just a blemish on the plant that we reside on, we are a virus. The planet was caught by surprise by our evolutionary progress and allowed us to propagate without any limits that restrained our destruction.

Maybe the planet was hoping that when humanity reached adulthood we would grow out of our destructive and self-serving behaviors. But unfortunately the only place the adult in us appeared, is in our adulteration of the most beautiful planet in the cosmos.

Shame on us. But we will reap what we sow.

… just a thought.

Art

There are situations when we find ourselves in a once-in-a-lifetime moment and I was fortunate enough to get an invite on New Year’s night to one such moment. It was an art project involving a number of un-clad young forms combining with wonderfully bright acrylic paints of every color to create unique and vibrant piece of art.

The art itself was a unique and provocative piece with numerous colorful imprints on an 8′ x 8′ white sheet and it perfectly captured the artist’s original concept.

Watching the creation process and capturing it along the way was my role and while I won’t show the end product here (belongs to the artist), I have attached a few pics at the end of the blog that shows the colors being used as well as some of the fun afterwards with splashes of leftover paint.

It was an awesome experience and while I spent much of the night above the happenings, standing on a raised pallet on a forklift, I felt very much a part of the overall fun that took place below.

Check out the images at the end of the blog and while I played a little with the last one, turning the body to black and white but holding color on the paint, do be warned that it does have a small hint of nudity.

Enjoy.

It is really the nudity thing that I wanted to talk about today and how the human form has been hijacked by the conservatives on one side and the porn business on the other. These people are either grossly offended or wildly excited by the sight of a bare butt or god forbid a nipple.

And art has often found itself the unwitting victim of these two extremes inasmuch as is had been bound by their limitations.

Nudity doesn’t need to be erotic. Pubescent boys don’t understand that, but I don’t understand why grown adults seem to think it does.

The young ladies that took part in this project correctly viewed what was being created as a work of art and so they bared all in an effort to deliver what the artist needed.

Were they pretty? yes. Did they have great bodies? yes.

But anyone who got excited by what was going on there grossly missed the point and are probably well-served by some time on the psychiatrists couch.

Similarly anyone who frowned at or was offended by these lovely forms locked in art creation also could benefit from some counseling … or least be told to stop being so fucking childish.

When we victimize art with unwarranted restrictions and boundaries, we risk creating an environment where creativity itself is stifled and the world becomes a smaller place.

All art (nude or not) is an expression of our humanity. It is something that is almost unique to humans and provides a positive differentiation between us and our other animal relatives.

Expressions that become muted are signs of oppression and conformity and we should recognize them as such. For centuries, oppressive societies around the world have sought out such expression and destroyed it, or jailed the artists, or just simply spun taste away from these “unauthorized” expressions.

For example, I recently watched a short documentary on how ancient erotic art from Pompeii which was discovered in the 1700s was deemed too sexual and was locked away for over 200 years from public view. Even now, it is only on display in a single museum for erotic art.

The morality police here are no different than those imposing the “morals” of sharia law in countries that we are so quick to scorn. Yet, we don’t see ourselves that way, do we?

Whatever offends our sensibilities is a problem within us and should never be used as a measuring stick of what to allow others to see, or ways in which they should behave. Our own standards are never the gold standard, nor should they be.

I am tired of people judging others for their “unacceptable morals” or “deviant” behaviors and particularly when it comes to an art form, we have no right to judge.

We should save our judgements for moments where people are being hurt or abused. Only then do they become valid.

We use shaming as a soft method of ensuring compliance and this too needs to stop. Though slightly more gentle than more rigorous methods, it is nonetheless a control mechanism.

Thankfully the other evening, I stood among a group of people that were not easily shamed and the artist was able to fully express their vision without encumbrance.

The end piece was magnificent but the process to arrive at it was even better. Those of us there to experience the creation enjoyed laughter, camaraderie, and achievement.

All art breathes with the breath of its artist and it is far better to supply the oxygen than smother it with restriction.

… just a thought.

All about Eve

While much of the world was engaged in last-minute shopping and readiness chaos for the day that followed, some of us here in Florida got to spend a quiet Christmas Eve, just breathing in life and enjoying ourselves.

It was a cool start to a near-perfect day across the sunshine state and with the cats all fed, I wandered down to my favorite early-morning spot and watched twilight paint the blue skies with yellows and oranges.

I wasn’t the first arrival and at the end of the pier was a lovely young lady, rod-in-hand, coffee at her side, and a gaze firmly fixed on what the horizon was doing.

With her permission, I made her the silhouetted subject of my morning shoot and I have attached some of the pics at the end of the blog for you to check out.

Enjoy!

As the yellows finally faded, I bid her and Lake Parker adieu and headed off home to the kitties that would no doubt be eagerly awaiting my return and the inevitable flow of treats that my return would bring.

But as I drove away from this early morning scene, I thought about how perfectly in-the-moment my subject had been. I had seen her before a couple of times, with her partner, fishing or hooping and she told me this time, how she likes to start most of her days in this way.

In my mind, this is a genuine example of someone appreciating life’s current moment for what it is.

Much of our focus is on something that is yet to happen, to the detriment of the moment we are living in and our culture continues to pull us away from what we are now experiencing in order to anticipate something in the future.

The classic examples of this are Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, when the value of each of these days is merely that they precede something more important.

But our culture pushes us far harder than that. How many times have you been watching something on TV and within moments of it starting they are already advertising next week’s episode. A game you have been eagerly waiting for is just under way and they are pitching the explosive, highly-anticipated game that will follow, or airs tomorrow.

Or how when one election is over, they immediately start talking about the next one four years away. Some of us aren’t even guaranteed four minutes into the future, let alone four years … so, how relevant is this pitch to our lives?

This whole coming-soon narrative has nothing to do with what is actually coming soon. Because as soon as that arrives, they will be telling you about something else.

While a lot of people get caught up in this anticipation-frenzy, what they fail to understand is that real life is what is happening right now.

Not what is about to happen (might or might not). The relevance of something that hasn’t happened only exists in our willingness to devote energy to the anticipation.

Moving the goal-posts and shifting our horizon is a sad trait in today’s world. I fully understand the need to advertise and promote but we hype everything so much in advance that even if they do finally happen, they rarely live up to the promise.

And even if they were to live up to it, so what? How did we spend our days leading up to it? Did we lose focus on what was happening right around us as we imagined how great something else might be when it finally arrives?

We only have one life and it doesn’t exist in the coming soon category. It exists in the here and now.

In the US, over 8,000 people die every day. For them, there is no tomorrow and if that is where their focus was, then they have missed out on the value of their last day on earth. That translates to 56,000 people who won’t make it to next week’s episode, so hopefully they won’t have wasted too much energy in anticipating an answer to who shot JR?

Every breath we take is in the moment we find ourselves in. We can choose to breathe that in at the end of a pier watching the sky come alive or we can focus on what lies ahead … that day, that week, that month.

Living is in the present and if we are to give ourselves one little present today, then living is the one must-have this holiday season.

… just a thought.