It was only 5:30 in the morning, but I was already in the car and on my way down to the lake. The kitties had been fed and I had a cup of coffee sitting in the cup holder as I drove towards what eventually would be a sunrise.

There wasn’t any traffic on the road at that time of a Sunday morning and so I got there well before the sun even began to define the horizon.

I was so early, in fact, that the boat ramp hadn’t even opened up yet, so I drove further down the lake side than I had intended.

As I walked over to the eventual vantage point that I had decided on, I saw someone with a flashlight ahead of me on one of the little docks that creep out into the water.

As early as I was, someone had beaten me there and so as he saw in the sunrise fishing from the end of his little dock, so did he become part of my pictures.

By now you have probably already determined that when I say I am going to a sunrise shoot, it is actually the civil twilight that I am interested. So, I was actually on my way home by the time the sun had broken the horizon.

No, I am more interested in the defining moment when the horizon makes itself known and bears witness to the soft range of orange, red, and blue that the night sky bids adieu with.

I have attached the images at the end of this blog … hope you like the progression from dark to not-so-dark. Nature delivers beauty like nothing else in our world.

As I drove home, my mind mused with the thought of passion and how passionate I am about photography. The object of my photographs bears little relevance to my level of passion in the subject, although some clearly result in better images than others.

No, I don’t care what I photograph. I just love the capturing of a moment. Any moment. And then the second bite of the cherry later when you get to examine whatever you were pointing at. And in the form of a blog like this, I then get a third bite of the cherry by sharing with like-minded souls who appreciate the beauty of our little world.

Yes, photography is a mighty big cherry.

But it is the passion for it that gets me out of bed at a time when I would rather just role over and get a snooze. And passion is an amazing force.

Clearly the guy there before me also had a passion; in this case fishing. He sat there happily, not catching anything but just enjoying the moment.

Most of us have passions. And so we should. It doesn’t really matter what the passion is (as long as you are not a serial pedophile) because passion provides a major driving force in the lives of many to counteract laziness and experience life.

No one passion is better than the other. And the diversity of passions is part of the fabric that generates such a diverse world of experiences.

My Dad was passionate about his garden. He loved being outside. My Mom was passionate about her kids and she played an active part in the lives of the three of us.

Neither passion was more important than the other. They simply helped color the life story for both of them.

And yet one of the very interesting aspects of passion is indelibly linked to the origins of the word itself. The word is derived from the Latin “to suffer”.

On a surface level we imagine passion to be altogether a positive feeling as we imagine passionate embrace or the endless passion for the arts.

But along with the driving force that gets us to do something, passion often means that we must suffer a little along the way. For me this morning it might have been getting up a bit earlier and fighting off the mosquitoes.

For the guy at the end of the dock, perhaps it was the earful he was going to get from his wife for loving fishing more than he loves her. Who knows?

My Dad was killed by an accident that happened while engaged in his passion of gardening. My mom lived a life of stress with each failure or trouble that her children encountered.

And yet, none of us altered our passion because of the suffering.

The feeling of suffering is a price we willingly pay for doing what we enjoy most doing. Perhaps it is linked to the “no pain, no gain” phrase. That the most interesting things in life require a little pain to achieve them.

Isn’t this why love is such a powerful force for us humans. We risk (and often realize) such loss but still we seek it out. The most passionate relationships are often those with the most turbulence within them.

And ultimately those that break so destructively, are referred to as a Crime of Passion.

So, passion is very much a two edged sword. On one side being a major positive influence that helps us identify and achieve something that is so important to us. And on the other side being the instrument of risk that what we love so much might destroy us.

When I encounter alligators on a trail, I habitually try to get closer and have experienced a few instances where perhaps I have gotten too close. I have been growled at and snapped at. And perhaps one day I will be eaten by one.

But will it modify my behavior to a safer option next time? No. Because it is passion and not logic that drives me to get the shot.

A life without passion is a sad life. Some people go this route and live a very low-key existence that begins with birth, ends with death, and consists of very little in between.

Yes, they don’t feel the stress of risk, or the pain of loss. But I would argue that they then don’t feel life.

Each of us travels our own journey. Taking the moving-sidewalk through your journey gets you to the same destination, it’s true. But as I have argued many times before; life is about the journey and not the destination.

So, find your passion and pursue it. A real life requires it.

Quiet Day

I went into Brandon yesterday and had coffee with a very special friend first thing in the morning. It was a great way to start a day and after several days of seeing no one, it made me feel human.

On the drive home, the rains came and I began to worry about my kitties and how they were outside in all the wetness. So, I drove faster than normal.

As I pulled in to the driveway, I was greeted by a few wet furry faces who looked at me as if to say “how could you?” and the guilts set in.

But a few treats later and they had all forgiven me. Now, don’t get me wrong … cats can hold grudges better than any living animal, but two things worked in my favor. Firstly, the aforementioned treats. And secondly it was still raining outside, so they knew that even though my office door would stay open, they still were better off sharing the space with me.

So, a tentative truce was signed and I felt loved once again.

When the rains had subsided, they meandered back outside to see what damage all that nasty water had done to their playground. And I watched them leave, returning to my loneliness.

But then I thought, “let’s grab the camera and see what the rain has done” … hence the pics at the end of this blog. As neighbors drove by, there is little doubt that they noticed me leaning into the wild growth and pulling strange poses.

And if they hadn’t already arrived at the conclusion that I had lost my senses, then they very likely did now.

But I didn’t care. I knew what I was trying to get, even if no-one else did.

I had spotted a couple of under-hanging drops of water that hadn’t yet made it to ground and immediately came to the idea that they presented a perfect environment for me to frame myself in an edited shot.

So, enjoy. And yes, they are edited … I didn’t really get locked in a raindrop!

Although there have definitely been times where I felt trapped like that.

But not today. Today was destined to be a quiet day and that is OK too. Quiet days can be a calming balm in between days of action.

So the whole concept of quietness and how we use moments like that took hold of the few remaining brain-cells that I haven’t lost and I began to look deeper into how us humans have skills that can be used best at times like these.

In times of real action, much of our decision process and therefore our thought process is linked to fight or flight type responses. Should we do something, react somehow, advance, retreat? These tend to be short decision processes and they are very integral skills to our success in life’s moments.

In mundane moments where we do repetitive actions, such as walking, driving, watching TV, listening to music, our brains reduce their involvement and often put us into “auto mode”. This mode doesn’t even produce much in the way of content for our memory bank, which is why, for example, we can be in the middle of a long drive and suddenly remember that we don’t even remember the last fifty miles.

Sleep time is a time of forced-rest and our brains process and commit to memory important stuff from the day. But it mainly does so as a background activity that reduces overall activity and allows our body to recover from exertions and strains.

But this day presented a period of unforced-rest. And unforced-rest is of particular use to people with good brains that want to plan, analyze, or even create.

For me yesterday, this became a creative time where I stuck myself in a bubble. On the surface, this might appear to be as redundant as doodling. But in reality, I was trying to create something for my granddaughter. Something to put a smile on her face and by all accounts it worked.

But most of the rest of my time of unforced-rest, I like to plan. My girls used to call me a plan-man, when they were growing up. And they were right. Planning is very much a part of who I am. I enjoy applying my brain to analyzing situations (small or large) and coming up with a plan that somehow addresses the situation as best I can.

Not all of my plans work, by the way. I have endless lists of plans that failed under the close inspection of real-life. But though they produced nothing effective that helped whatever situation I was looking at, at the very least they stretched my brain.

Humans have a very powerful brain (well, not so much republicans) and stretching them is an important aspect of how we have evolved. It is why, as a race, we excel in invention.

I doubt very much if someone actually set out to invent the world’s first wheel. For hundreds of years beforehand, large objects were immovable, carried by teams of slaves, or were rolled into place on huge logs.

Bill and Melinda Gates didn’t establish a foundation with a view to inventing the wheel. No. It just occurred to someone. And very likely occurred to them when rains made plowing the field impossible and there was nothing but reruns on TV.

I am not claiming we are the most intelligent creatures on the planet, but our inventiveness is one of our trademarks that make us special.

It is why I really enjoy watching creative people and trying to understand their original concept more than how they actually completed their creation.

But how many times have you found yourself in a time-wasting mode? These modes are so counterproductive. They are not a time of real rest. If they were, we would be either sleeping or enjoying something that entertained us or made us feel good.

I don’t believe in sins in a religious sense, but in a moral sense, wasting time is immoral. It is something that we have that can be put to use, either for ourselves or for others.

But more importantly, time is available to us in a very limited quantity. We don’t know when the clock runs out but eventually it does. And therefore it is extremely precious and valuable.

So next time it rains or you find yourself unable to do something of significance, turn on the switch at the back of your brain and invent a wheel.

After all, nothing is immovable.

Sharing Experience

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a still guy. Not still as in “still waters run deep”. Not still as in “still crazy after all these years”.

But still as in my medium is still photography.

In a vlog world, I am still out here blogging for god sake.

In a way, I guess that makes me a relic of the silent movie era.

I bet you there are millions of younger people out there saying “what??? they made silent movies?”

There are a number of reasons why I choose to focus on photography as opposed to video. Still photographs freeze a moment in time and allow us to study the image, imagine the moment, and shut out the real world around it.

People who view photographs have to think. Their brains need to interact with the image … sometimes a little and sometimes a lot, in order to get what the image is trying to show.

And that provokes varied thoughts among the viewers as they come up with their own slant on what appeals and what is the meaning.

But even I understand that there are certain things an image can’t do. So, this morning when I imagined myself going to Circle B, I figured the way I wanted to share the experience was going to need to be done with video.

I ended up creating an 11 minute video that really just attempts to record my trail wanderings with you and let you draw the experience from that, without having to worry about the sweat or tiredness of a four mile hike in FL heat.

The maddening thing about video though is that file sizes tend to be huge and so are not easily shared. I can’t add the video to this blog, because the maximum upload for an individual file is 32 MB. I can’t send it by email to everyone because typically they only allow 20 or 25MB in attachments.

The video is created in 1920 x 1080 px which is Blu Ray quality and at that quality it is 1.27 GB in file size. So I shrunk it to DVD quality at 1280 x 720 px and it still came in more than 750 MB. Try emailing that to someone! then I shrunk it further to 720 x 480 px but it is still over 200 MB.

So I took the only option left to me and I have uploaded the DVD version to YouTube knowing that they will seriously bastardize the quality in order to stream it to the one or two people that might actually take the time to watch it!

So here is the link, should you have 11 minutes to wander a trail with me:

I hope you enjoy it. There are some seriously wonderful creatures waiting there for you, not to mention the old fool at the end who tells you what a lovely day he had.

So as I finished it and then uploaded it a few minutes ago, I got to thinking about this whole quality thing and how it has evolved over the years.

And by the end of the thought process, I shake my head at how laziness has become a key factor in how humans have evolved.

When I was growing up, TV was black and white, music was mono. Nobody had the ability to record anything themselves. I was mid teens when I bought my very first record … it was a 45 RPM single, Frankie Valli’s My Eyes Adored You.

I didn’t have a record player of my own, so when I wanted to listen to it, I would walk to my friend’s house and play it on his record player. It had two speakers (fancy, huh?) but it was only a mono player.

Right now, I am sure that some of you are going “what the fuck is he talking about? Mono what? Did he get that from kissing someone?”

Hang on a sec, folks … it was a single. Not me, I was out there kissing up a storm. ( think my nose just grew a few sizes on that one lol)

Anyway, the point is, our ears were fine tuned to AM radio, mono sounds, on vinyl records. How cool were we, huh?

But here is where we prior generations took the bull by the horns and innovated …. our TV’s became color. European color was better than the American color because the TVs had higher resolution And we laughed at the shows from the US not just because their humor was funny, but because the Americans settled for NTSC format and that was jokingly berated as Never The Same Color.

We could never understand why would America settle for something that wasn’t the best. I mean, they had the money and the technology. They put a man on the moon for god sake.

Music went through its own revolution with the arrival of stereo sound and while I was in college. one of my buddies bought a quadraphonic sound system. The sound was amazing. But we were still playing vinyl.

Come on, admit it. Most of you don’t even know what quadraphonic is, do you? But as great as it sounded, it didn’t catch on. Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells was released on it but the pack didn’t follow and so it died a death.

But that was ok, because stereo was getting better. We developed tape cassettes!! Woo hoo!

So now you could record your own music and even play your music in the car. Can you imagine!!! OK, the incessant hiss was there in the background but the car engine noise drowned that out anyway!

Sony invented their walkman so you could could slap on a pair of headphones, and walk the streets listening to your tapes … you didn’t even need a car. And a whole fitness generation of exercise people was born!

Meanwhile not to be outdone in the video world, technology companies introduced tapes there too. There were two competing technologies … Beta and VHS. Beta had the better quality but the porn industry wanted cheap and dirty cameras (kind of like their actors) so they pushed VHS and guess which one won!

Hey the important things is that we get to see a bit of skin; doesn’t matter how clearly we can see it, right?

So even though technology companies had twice lost their quality wars, they continued their search to improve the quality of what people were listening to and watching. So we got CDs … no background hiss and Sony adapted their walkmans.

We also got DVDs which dramatically improved the quality of what could be seen, so TVs (particularly in America) got massively upgraded. People were now demanding high def TVs. And the technology companies were thrilled.

Had they finally won? Was it a matter of third time lucky?

Well, not yet. Because thinking they had the world engaged in the search for higher quality imagery, they moved to Blu Ray and the world appeared to move with them. DVDs became yesterday and for a moment, American eyes were smiling at their high def video on high resolution screens.

But someone forgot something. I call it the Remote Control Rule.

Remote Controls were invented so lazy asses wouldn’t have to get off the sofa to change a channel. You can smile now, living in a world of hundreds of channels and therefore remote controls being as essential as churches.

But when they were invented, there was only three or four channels on the TV, so occasionally changing the channel was seen as the responsibility of the youngest person in the room.

So when the internet boom happened and TVs became monitors, they suddenly found themselves facing another choice. “Do I watch the high resolution Blu Ray of Lord of the Rings that I have on my shelf over there. Or will I just watch the low-res downloadable one from Netflix?”

Guess who’s winning that argument?

Back in the mono sound and black and white TV days, we didn’t know any better. Our eyes and ears were not fine tuned to high quality digital media.

But now, we know better. And yet we still choose the lower quality product because it means we don’t have to find the Blu Ray all the way “over there” on the shelf, take it out of its package and put it into the player.

“I mean come on, how can I do all that when my hands are full of candy and sodas? I might spill something on the carpet and then Momma would be mad. So, really I am doing this for Momma.”

Our eyes scream at the loss of focus and lower resolution gradients that we settle for. We can clearly see pixellation in the shadows.

So once again our laziness has overcome our better interests.

And that really is the point of today’s ramble. When we allow laziness to become a deciding factor in anything we do, we do ourselves a genuine disservice.

That’s what I am shaking my head. It has nothing today with the Frankie Valli sounds running around inside there at the moment.

Have a wonderful weekend!


So while much of the world was still asleep, my head was awake trying to figure out something. It was 3:30 in the morning and the darkness in my room wasn’t enough to keep me in sleep mode.

I had already been awake about an hour at that stage and it was becoming blatantly clear that my mind was not going to let me get back to sleep.

It was too early to get up and let the cats out. And I wasn’t in a rush to read any more news about what the dotard did yesterday. So I began to wonder if there might be sunrise worth looking at later today.

Before I went to sleep, the weather app on the phone said it was going to be a cloudy start, but now when I checked, it was clear skies in Lakeland.

That was all I needed for my brain to switch into creative mode. I wanted to bring the glass world with me again to shoot it, but this time I wanted to find a way to hold it in place other than my hand.

The huge difficulty the other evening for sunset was trying to hold it in one hand while trying to manipulate the camera and get focus with the other.

So I imagined all sorts of things to hold it in place; pins, nails, sticky something or others. But as is often the case, when you actually step out of bed and try to implement any of your amazingly wonderful ideas, reality sets in and they all come crashing down.

The sphere is made of solid glass, so it is quite heavy. None of the flimsy approaches were going to work. And even if they did momentarily work, was I ok with the risk of the world falling and breaking into bits or even rolling into the water?

Imagine me being responsible for losing the whole world, while you folks were in bed asleep? No, that would definitely have lost me a “fan” or two.

I decided there was nothing for it, but I needed to look down in my office for inspiration. Which meant the cats had to be fed and let out.

It was only four something as I opened the door and the cats looked at me as if to say “hey man, have you any idea what time it is?” In truth though, they happily ran off into the darkness before I even got the door fully open.

I found a couple of things that might work easily enough … a tripod-mounted clamp and the empty spindle of a stack of DVDs. Even grabbed a couple of record-printed CDs that I thought might give an interesting base if the glass had to be rested on the ground.

It was just after five when I got to my planned location … that boat dock with the pier down on Lake Parker. But there must have been at least a dozen pick-up trucks with boats down there already. Lights and noise everywhere.

So that was no good.

Went down by the side of the lake and found a spot where I could be alone. I say “alone” but there was actually millions of us there. Me and ten million mosquitoes.

I sprayed myself before getting out of the car but they still managed to feast on my back and shoulders through my shirt. Bastards! I hate mosquitoes.

Anyway, pain be damned … I set myself up and went about my project and was delighted with some of the end shots. I have them here at the end of this blog.

The spindle turned out to be very cool but the risk was very severe as even the slightest touch was going to make me lose my world. But by now, I was committed. So I took the risk. The clamp worked well too. I used it to hold a DVD and then the sphere rested comfortable in the center. Not very elegant and caused the DVD to bend a bit, but it was acceptable. And the Record printed CD was the safest as it lay on the ground without threat of losing anything.

So I laid and crawled around in the darkness on god-knows-what, getting feasted upon by the hordes of little flying bastards.

But I got my shots. Hope you enjoy!

Anyway, as I drove away I felt accomplished and that the early morning efforts were worth it. I am getting closer to be where I want to be in working with a glass sphere.

And so the thought that played around in my head while I drove home was based on the old saying that “necessity is the mother of all inventions”.

Whatever ability I have to come up with problem-fixes, I definitely acquired from my father. No matter the challenge, he would always figure out an answer. And he taught me over the years that there is always a solution to whatever is put in front of us.

We just have to be willing to use trial and error sometimes.

With all trial and error there is an element of risk, of course, and in this instance the real risk was losing my world into the waters below or even shattering it on the concrete edge.

Having it rest delicately on top of that spindle was a bit of a balancing act and I would be a liar to say that I didn’t have reservations. But along with the greatest risk, it brought the greatest reward. It gave me the most unencumbered shots of the session.

In fairness, I was happy with all three “inventions” that I came up with and I would pat myself on the back if it wasn’t so sore from all those damn bites!

Finding solutions to problems that come up in our lives is a big part of being an adult. As a child, our parents were our fixers and some of us were fortunate enough to have really good fixers that loved us enough to help.

But when they are gone and you have to find your own answers in life, decision making processes can be one of life’s more difficult challenges.

There is a real sense of achievement in finding your own solution and I strongly believe that it can be a real source of personal growth for each of us.

Yes, some people live their lives where they continually look to others for the answers. On the surface, it sounds like an easier path to take. But,in doing so, these people forego the growth experience and ultimately it renders them useless when their children or dependents turn to them for a solution.

For every right answer I have come up with in life, there is probably several wrong answers. But I have always had answers.

Fear of being wrong can be paralyzing so don’t let that stop you.

And laziness is equally paralyzing …. you have a mind, use it!

Oh wait … Republicans are exempt from that above instruction.

But the rest of us need to flex our mental muscle and try to figure out our own answers. As with every muscle, they get stronger the more you use them. Your brain and your inner-fixer will also grow stronger each time you figure out an answer to something.

At the end of the day, your life will become more “your life” and those you love will have their own fixer to help them, as indeed I did up to a short few years ago.

Newton’s 1st Law

I failed in my attempts to get someone to shoot with me last night, so my choice was to sit on the sofa and vegetate in front of the TV or go out by myself. So I chose the latter.

There are moments where you have to grab yourself by the scruff of the neck and lift yourself out a stationary position. And it isn’t easy. There is a lot of temptation to just stay put. Laziness is a tough master.

In fact I remember from my early physics days, encountering Newton’s First Law of Motion, which begins with the phrase “An object at rest, stays at rest …”

Now, that man understood TV-induced laziness even before TVs existed!

But much like the continuation of that same law, once I got in motion, I stayed in motion. And I was all the happier for it.

My hopes were to see a sunset and the venue was Picnic Island down in Tampa. I wasn’t sure if the park was going to be open or not, with all this COVID stuff, but I needn’t have worried.

And in typical Florida fashion, either social distancing was yesterday’s news or I arrived on the Trump-supporters excursion day. The idiots were out in full force, hugging, shaking hands, crowding together, and breathing in each other’s waste fumes.

There are a couple of pics that show what I mean in the shots I am uploading at the end of this blog.

But these are merely a digression, as the main thing I wanted to experiment with was the effect of a glass orb within a sunset shoot. Morgan has given me a small glass globe, with the world etched into it and so there are several shots here that shows the wonderful effects it has within a photo environment.

Mostly it did what I thought it would do … it provided a sharp focal point with a picture and as expected, it turned the image it was capturing, upside down. I remember those bits from my physics classes.

But there were a couple of very surprising optical effects that I didn’t even remotely think of.

For example, there was one shot (yes, I uploaded it) where the orb became almost entirely opaque due to internal diffusion. And for a reason that I haven’t yet figured out, it had two areas on the surface where it showed very strange reflections of things off to the side of me (trees and such). Check that one out … it is soooooooo weird! (the third pic)

And the second thing that I didn’t even see until a few moments ago, was one shot that looked perfect except it had an inner-reflection of the whole sphere within it. Like a circle within a circle. So very strange! (it’s the second pic)

By now you have likely figured out that I like to experiment, so last night’s success meant that my efforts to get off the sofa were more than rewarded, in my book at least.

And so this is what evolved into my blog thought for today. Resting, while important occasionally, should not become a default option for us in our lives.

There is a whole world out there (and no, I am not talking about my little glass orb) that provides us with every reason to get our asses off the sofa and do something that makes the moment notable.

I try very hard to stick with my simple belief that there will be plenty of time to rest when I die. But for now, there is a life to be lived.

I know it isn’t easy. There are times when we feel sapped of our energy by whatever the day has thrown at us. It happens to us all. But there is a second wind out there, just waiting to be caught, if we will only put our bodies in motion.

Last night’s reward was everything I had hoped and then some. But I am not foolish enough to think that will always be the result of a second effort. Sometimes we fail and some are just a dud.

But there is accomplishment in having put in the effort. Having tried, is something in itself. And there is fairness in the expression, “well, at least I tried”.

That expression is often sounded as some form of consolation, but in truth it should be stated as a statement of self-praise.

Trying is often the difference between winning and losing, and between living and existing. we all exist (until we cease to) but not everyone lives.

And even if you are betting the farm on a second chance at life somewhere up in the clouds, that still doesn’t give you the right to waste the life you have down here on planet earth.

Vegetating should be left for lives that have green leaves sprouting from their limbs. We evolved to have legs and feet and so it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that we are supposed to move.

My inner-child last night was back in elementary school in Ireland, looking at light through a glass sphere. My mind danced with each strange reflection or diffusion. And my soul soared with happenings that it couldn’t yet understand.

Even if you don’t have a glass orb to play with, get off your ass and try looking at the world through a different lens today. It is such an amazing planet and yet so difficult to discover from the comfort of a sofa.

Into every life

About a half hour ago, I wandered out into the rain.

It was dark and with the thunder rolling above, some would have chosen for the rain to end before going outside with a camera.

But I am not “some” and I wanted to feel the rain on my face. So what if I got wet? Wouldn’t be the first time and likely won’t be the last. Based on past experience with rain, I have discovered that I don’t actually melt, so what the hell!

I wandered down the driveway to where the tiny flowers were a few days ago hoping to see some rain drops in play. The flowers are mostly gone already but I managed to get just the one shot of a little ladybird before she had enough of my interference in her private shower-time and she disappeared too.

So there is really just a couple of pics to justify today’s thought. I’ve placed them at the end of this rambling. Hope you like them.

Anyway, the reason for this ramble was that it occurred to me how people often react to rain, physically and metaphorically.

Growing up in Ireland, we pretty much did everything in the rain. Because if you were to wait for a rain-less day, you would be waiting quite a while. Yes, that’s why it’s so green folks!

We played, worked, relaxed, and even imagined in the rain. Rain became an ever-present in our lives and no one seemed to mind. Hell, I remember many a summer’s day we were swimming in the 50 something degree ocean waters as a child …. “sure, you’re going to be getting wet anyway. Just come out when you are turning blue.” was a general parental guideline to beach days in Ireland.

It’s amazing how sunshine spoils a person. Here in Florida, if it isn’t blue skies and sunshine, someone is complaining. I honestly think most people here think it is written into the constitution that they have an inalienable right to sunshine and blue skies.

One thing that rain has taught the Irish is to appreciate a good day. And they remember good days like they were a special event. “Do you remember that day in 1974? Sure, it was so warm, I didn’t even have to wear a vest.” In my minds eye, I envision many a time I was exposed to conversations like that one.

Irish people are the only ones on the planet who will bump into a friend in the middle of the pouring rain and begin the conversation with “ah, sure isn’t it a grand soft day, Michael?”

When physical rain is your friend, it also emboldens you to metaphorical rain. You don’t need life’s sunny days to keep going; you can remember the last one you had and you can live on that memory until the next one comes along.

It’s why Irish are a very resilient race. Adversity never stops a true Irish man. It’s in our blood to expect a rough passage. But the thing about any passage is that no matter the roughness, you still get there in the end.

For hundreds of years the Irish were abused and beaten by the British, but they were never beaten into submission. They never became a conquered race. And I think at least part of that is due to our relationship with rain.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem The Rainy Day was interestingly enough written as the Irish were thrust by Britain into The Great Famine. But it had that famous line, that no doubt we all know: “into each life some rain must fall.”

It simply gives voice to the fact that at some stage in our lives, each of us will experience rain.

Understanding or expecting rain is one thing, but dealing with it is another.

Rain and the adversity it brings must be embraced. We should not hide away from it and look to take shelter.

We should let it hit our face, soak our hair (stop laughing, I still have one or two) and push through in our chosen path.

Because when the rain hits our face, it can wash the dust from our eyes and help us see more clearly the direction we are traveling in.

It can moisten our lips and allow us to give voice to that which is important to us.

It can cool our hot head and stop our pride and prejudice from overheating.

And most importantly, it can wash our soul and give us a strength of righteousness in our ambitions.

So, take your rainy day and let it soak in. See what you can learn from it and then use that to strengthen your resolve in the next step you take.

Rain is the source of all life … including yours.


I was strolling down the driveway with Coco and Lola yesterday and noticed that a bush/tree whatever (you can tell already that I am not a horticulturist, can’t you?) that produces beautiful clusters of purple berries, was doing something different.

It was flowering.

Now the little bit of plant knowledge I have tells me that these must be the forerunners to the berries. But, I have passed this wonderful plant by for almost 17 years and never once noticed its flowering phase. How blind am I?

Good grief, Neville. I mean that is ridiculous. I pride myself on my ability to notice things and yet, here in my own front yard, I am guilty of abject blindness.

In fairness, these flowers are tiny but they cluster like the berries end-product, so thankfully the birds and bees notice them in their needs to pollinate.

I have attached some of my better shots of them here at the end of the blog and I think my favorite is the fallen loner that was caught trapped on the end of a string of web.

He was swaying in the breeze and so getting any degree of focus on such a little guy is always an achievement for a shaky old geezer like myself. I know my tripods were only 100 feet away, but achieving focus in hand-held situations like these is one of life’s challenges that I like to give myself.

By the way, in one of the shots I included a little centimeter ruler so that you can see how tiny these little guys actually are. I hope you enjoy!

As I went through the images last night, I chastised myself for never having noticed such beauty before, right on my own doorstep. But then that thought morphed into how insignificant these little flowers are when surrounded by so much natural growth and chaos. Worst yard in Lakeland, I’m afraid.

Then my mind wandered (as it sometimes does) onto the greater concept of significance as it plays out in all our lives.

While children are growing up, it is clear that most of them believe that the world revolves around them. They don’t have a feeling of relative-significance and so they appear to all intents and purposes to be generally self-involved.

This isn’t a character trait that we need to worry about because as they become more sociable animals, they begin to develop an understanding that others around them are also significant. That we should consider feelings of others. That we should consider our community. That we should consider our planet.

This is an education process that broadens out our understanding that the world does not revolve around us. Yes, there is the occasional dotard that thinks the world does revolve around him, but the vast majority of us grow up to be more intelligent than that.

Sorry Ann, I know I said I would try not to mention him. Sometimes I can’t help myself.

Anyway, how significant we feel can vary at any moment in time. There are moments when the light shines so brightly upon us that we are made to feel super-important, like when we walk down the aisle in a beautiful white wedding dress. All eyes are on us and this is very much our day!

Admittedly when I tried that, most turned their eyes away in disgust. I don’t have the hips for it and my beard kept messing up the veil.

So when we encounter situations like that it is easy to get caught up in our own significance and forget that there are billions of people all around the world and each person has feelings, hopes, and dreams, just like we do.

We may diminish their significance on the basis of geography, social class, or economics. But in the eyes of mother nature, we are all her children. And no one is less important nor more important than the next.

The poorest child in India has equal significance to the richest elite in America. They may not, over their lifetime, be able to have the same impact on the world, but that does not mean they are less significant.

We use the strangest measuring tools to declare significance. 19 years ago, 3,000 people died in the 9/11 attacks in the US. 3 years later 230,000 people died in the sunami that caught south asia by surprise in late December.

How many of you reading this know the 9/11 story so well but didn’t even know there was a sunami of such significance?

See, this is the problem. We have emotionally connected with those that lost their lives in 9/11 and they are “us”. Whereas, the people half a world away are “them”.

And “Us” will always be of more significance than “Them”.

This is how competing governments and religions engage in their physical, social, and moral wars. They are quick to identify others as “them”. they are not “us”. Let’s build walls to keep “them” out. Let’s drop bombs on “them”. Let’s take as many of “them” with us when we detonate our exploding vests.

But there is no such thing as “them”.

We are all just people. People that love, that care, that feel, that hope.

Yet when we denigrate swathes of people into the “them” category, we reduce their significance and it allows us to proceed without due consideration and care.

However we wish to elevate our own significance, we need to bear in mind that such a status is not only wrong but its illusion dies with us.

Pause for a moment and ask yourself who the richest and most powerful man in New York in 1920 was. If you can answer that one, you are a better person than me. Because I have no idea. And neither does the rest of the world.

So the significance of his wealth and power evaporated as the dawn of a new day bleached his feeling of importance from the earth. Much as it will do to anyone that you attach significance to in this world today.

In the absence of significance, is insignificance cause for worry?

No, not at all.

Significance doesn’t affect the love and care felt by those we come into contact with during our life here. How we give and share has much greater effect, as does how we care.

A girl I used to date shared a beautiful line with me once. It read “to the world you may be just one person, but to one person you are the world”.

So, make note … how we love and how we care for others and for this planet. These are the real measures by which we should consider our worth.

Our true significance is carried within the hearts of those we leave behind. Beyond that, we are only the forerunners to the next batch of purple berries.

Bittersweet Lies

Today was my Dad’s birthday. He would have been 93. So I promised myself a day off work and that he and I would wander a trail together, heart in heart.

So with all the kitties fed and dawn lighting the early morning skies, I set off to Circle B. My last attempt there had found the trails shut, but my research told me that they opened them a few days ago and they were right!

I got there around 7:30 and there was only one or two cars ahead of me, so we set off for the lake-side trail, without another person in sight. Some of Dad’s ashes are in that great body of water, so I felt that was certainly the place to go this morning.

There were some traces of cloud in the skies but mostly it was clear blue and the temperature was in the mid-sixties or low-seventies and a gentle breeze created a wonderful freshness that made the day near-perfect.

As I reached the lake itself, the skies filled with Osprey, Heron, and Egrets and it was truly a joy to watch them searching for food or taking off to wherever their day’s journey would take them.

So we talked for a while and memories mingled with the realities of the trail and, as often has been the case on such visits, his favorite bird, the red-shouldered hawk said goodbye to us as we left the trail and returned to the car.

I have uploaded a number of the shots at the end of this blog. It’s hard to call out any favorites but the main thing I was happy with was being able to capture so many in flight, even one with his catch as he returned to a tree somewhere. There was even an unusual alligator face-off that thankfully resolved peacefully as the smaller guy retreated and gave way to his larger brother.

By the time I got back here to my desk and started sorting through the images, the happiness of my time with my Dad this morning was slightly bitter-tinged as I remembered the very last time I saw him.

And it created the thought pattern that is really my blog-thought for the day. Lies.

You see, the second last sentence that I ever said to him was a lie and then very much followed by a truth. I said “I will see you again. I love you”.

I knew I never would. And I suspect that he also knew I never would, as I walked from his room at the nursing home, heading back to the US that same day. I remember seeing him in his chair at the window overlooking the parking lot as I reached the car and I waved. I think he saw me. But, I can’t be sure.

There was clearly no malice in my lie. It was meant to provide solace of some sort. And so I am not deliberately beating myself up over it.

Heaven knows there are so many damaging lies that I have told over the years, that there are plenty I could beat myself up with, if I had a mind to.

But yet it bothers me in my quiet moments. And likely always will.

Lies are pretty much a uniquely human trait. We use them everywhere. In personal life, business life, people to people, business to business, people to governments, governments to people, governments to governments. Everywhere.

There used to be a moral and ethics part of education to where we tried to ingrain into our children that their first attempt should be to always tell the truth. Now we train them to win and to win at all costs.

I remember when I was being taught football rules as a child. You could be penalized for what was called unsportsmanlike conduct. If you did something that was inherently unfair in order to gain an advantage, that was seen as illegitimate. Sportsmanship was seen as a positive behavior.

Now that has been replaced with gamesmanship. So now kids are taught to dive and make it look like they have been fouled in order to gain an advantage.

Lying and cheating used to be regarded as a major character flaw that would see a person ostracized and shunned by peers and would generally herald the end of any aspiring career. Now we elevate this kind of person to be dotard-in-chief. (a.k.a. El Presidente, for all of you unfamiliar with that North Korean word for him)

Lies are strategically used between nations in order to gain political and military advantages. This used to be called propaganda but now we call it disinformation.

So when lies permeate all aspects of life around us, what chance do we individuals have to try to steer a straight or honest path?” I didn’t read through your email, I didn’t sleep with your sister, I didn’t take $100 from your wallet.”

These are much better answers to give than admitting that when you read your sister-in-laws email to your wife that she really fancied you, you stole $100 from her pocket-book and took the sister out for dinner and a shag.

OK, I know that is all rather far-fetched but the reality is that lies often present an easy out, when the truth is difficult to admit to someone or even admit to yourself.

Back in that room, saying goodbye to my Dad, the thought of saying that we would never see each other again was not one that I could muster into words. It required a bravery I didn’t have.

And so at times like this when I face my memories, I carry the cowards’ pain … one that can never be soothed.

So, I guess the bottom line in what I am trying to say here is that perhaps we need to assess life’s situations in a more careful manner so that we don’t launch ourselves into a corner from which a lie is the only painless way out.

At the end of the day, we are responsible for our own lives. Mistakes that are made are ours. We own them. Lies don’t heal them … they only momentarily hide them.


I went down to the “wrong” side of Lake Parker yesterday to watch the sun go down. I call it the wrong side because I am more likely to be mugged over there than anywhere else I occasionally go to.

There is a pier over there that extends out into the water and I have gone there several times because of the vantage point it creates in capturing the sun as it goes down.

The problem with a pier like that though is that once you walk out to the end (perhaps 200 to 300 feet) you are isolated away from the road and this brings a real vulnerability … there is only one way in and out.

So last night, I was bringing Kermie with me to shoot him as he played his banjo trying to find a rainbow connection. Morgan has made him for me a while back and I just thought shooting him as the sun was going down behind him might be worth trying. There were a couple of older guys out there and while initially I scoped it out as being a totally safe situation, I was wrong.

While they tried to pull it out of my hands, I raised my own aggression level to where they backed down. It was a surreal moment … imagine me getting mugged by a couple of old geezers. The MAGA hat on one of them should have given me a clue but I would never have been able to report that one to the police … imagine the shame!

Anyway I managed to get a few pictures of Kermie. I was not going to be intimidated out of what I originally set out to do. But the endless barrage of negative and sarcastic comments from behind me reminded me that a short shoot was a wiser choice.

So there is only one Kermie shot here in this blog. Sorry. The other couple of shots are ones that I got a little further down the road as I returned home past a fishing pier. The setting sun was producing a lovely glow behind the trees and I thought it worth stopping for.

The last of these three shots is a combine image of ten shots that I took to show the flight of a lone Ibis as he crossed through my frame.

I enjoy putting together that kind of image because when I anchor the images, it gives a good feel of the actual path that our eyes don’t really notice. Hope you like the shots at the end of the blog!

So, the thought that really sparked this blog was from this morning as I pieced together that combined image. My thoughts were about perspective.

Last night when I was watching him, I would have sworn he was flying in a straight line. And I am quite certain that he also thought he was flying in a straight line. But likely a slight breeze was pulling him occasionally off it.

If the earlier “mugging” had been reported, both the Ibis and I could have taken a lie detector test and we would both have passed it, in our belief that he was flying a straight line.

Yet obviously we were both wrong. And, so here is the point;

Every one of us goes through life, experiencing and witnessing situations that either happen to us, or play out around us. We believe in good conscience that we have witnessed what we witnessed. We see it as a fact.

And yet it is only our own perspective.

How we perceive a happening, the perspective from which we view it, and the method we commit it to memory, all create a unique set of parameters that record the fact as anything other than factual.

It’s why two people can witness the same accident and give startlingly different accounts of it. It’s why a democrat and republican can listen to the same dotard ramblings and feel either shame or pride in what they heard. It’s why two lovers in an argument can walk away afterwards feeling totally righteous in their hurt and upset.

Humans require a life that is structured around “facts”. They are our security blanket. Take them away and an instability is introduced into our lives that invalidates so much of what we have assumed to be true.

Millions of young children know that Santa comes down a chimney and leaves presents for them once a year. It’s a simple fact.

Millions of believers know that if they are good christians then they go to heaven when they die. It’s a simple fact.

Millions of muslims know that if they commit an act of martyrdom in the name of allah, then there are 70 virgins waiting for them on their transition to eternity. It’s a simple fact.

At the Nuremberg trials, Göring offered the sentiment that history is written by the victors. And so, how much of what we have been taught in history is fact?

Facts exist only in physics and the sciences. They don’t exist in our lives beyond that. No matter how we wish they would.

Nothing is black and white, right or wrong, good or evil.

Hundreds of millions of us around the world described the act of flying airplanes into the twin towers as pure evil. Hundreds of millions of others viewed it as a justified act against the great satan.

Tens of millions of us are disgusted that a rich dotard can boast about “popping tic-tacs while grabbing girls by the pussy”. Tens of millions wanted that same guy to make america great again.

In wars everyone believes that god is on their side. In the perennial battles of good versus evil when have you ever heard anyone say that they are are fighting on the side of evil?

So, when we each stand here convinced in our own sense of righteousness, it is important to understand that people with a diametrically opposed view to our own can also feel righteous.

“honestly officer, those two old geezers tried to mug me!”

“sure, Mr Ronan. Next you’ll be telling me that bird was flying a straight line”.

Silver Linings

Yesterday morning I went downtown Tampa to shoot senior pictures for a friend graduating high school this year.

Like tens of thousands of kids across the country, her final year at school is muted without ceremony, without prom, and all the grandeur that year brings to the lives of Americans.

Generations of Americans created a culture of celebration that became a real marker for their lives. It was something that didn’t exist in Ireland when I grew up so from the outside it appeared frivolous to me and often times in excess.

But at the same time, I respect the culture that focuses importance on this time of life and its meaning to millions of people all across the nation.

So, perhaps I am the least qualified person to write musings about its loss this year. On a personal level though, I feel for those who feel hard done by and if I had a son or daughter graduating, no doubt I would feel it more.

We had a lovely morning … a perfect day for a shoot and she was gorgeous and shot really well. Hopefully these pics will play a minor part in her memories of this time of her life.

Traffic in and out of Tampa was a breeze. Extraordinarily light for a Friday morning. And parking was free and simple and couldn’t have been closer to where we were planning on shooting.

In one sequence of shots she donned a mask, to mark the event that compromised her celebrations and so this becomes the only image I wanted to include in this blog.

As I drove home, again in incredibly light traffic, I began to think of all the horrible losses of these past few months. Loss of life. Loss of jobs. Loss of stability. Loss of security.

The news is filled with it and (despite the dotard’s “it’s all media hype” position) rightly so. The gravity of the situation should never be allowed to be spun for political or geo-political gain. The loss is too great for that.

But (and there is always a “but”) it is equally important for us to understand that not all is doom and gloom. There are some very definite silver linings to what is happening that we should recognize and embrace. And possibly even adopt when all is said and done with this pandemic.

That traffic yesterday was notably better. And the parking exceptional. And so, even on that tiny superficial level, there were things to smile about.

Zoom out and view the effect that this is having on the world around us. The planet is breathing and doing much better. Fossil fuel burning has been dramatically reduced as cars are staying at home. Waterways are clearing up and fish breathing as the insatiable tourism industry takes a back seat.

Junk mail in our mailboxes has dropped significantly so fewer trees are being cut down for the reckless print industry.

Businesses are migrating towards online technologies that do away with pointless meetings and nonsensical trade conferences. So not only do the humans involved get to spend more time with loved ones, but the destructive travel and hospitality industries reduce their pollutive and wasteful effects on the planet.

Even our retail acumen focuses us more on essential or near-essential products and services. Why is this a benefit? Simple: it allows us to base our lives more about needs than wants. And “wants” are the “Achilles heel” of humanity that drives greed and gluttony.

Even purely at a mask level, it turns out that they bring an advantage as they become a looks-leveler as we encounter strangers in grocery stores. I call it the burka-effect of beautification.

And in the meantime at home, each one of us gets to love our loves, tackle our lists, refocus our lives, and plan for a different future.

Now, I am not naive enough to think that all of these changes will be permanent. But I am sensible enough to think that some of it should.

The human species was never meant for mass movement across a planet on the scale that our travel industry has afforded us. Tens of thousands of people convening for mass conferences is not just outdated and absurd, but it is resource-wasteful. There is no need for each to recover any time soon.

Adapting technology that leaves more of us working from home is not just time and stress advantageous, but it is also gentler on a planet as the pollution from every day rush-hours are reduced. There is no need for this to return any time soon either.

So yes, silver linings abound on a personal, communal, and planet level. So when we are done mourning our dead and healing our sick, let’s also hit the reset button on how the living live.