Just another sunrise

It was just a few minutes past six, the kitties were all taken care of and running free in the darkness outside. I had just finished my frosted krispies and my coffee was patiently waiting for my first sip.

I sat at my PC and read the news and this really annoying mosquito buzzed past my ears a couple of times already and I was ready to kill him … if only I could see him.

So, I made a decision. I could either sit here and hopefully commit mosquito murder before he managed to suck me dry, or I could grab my virgin coffee and head for the lake.

I didn’t have a minute to spare because sunrise would be at 6:59 and it was now 6:09 so the very latest I could get there for twilight shots would be 6:29.

Decision made, it was the fastest I had moved all week and by 6:15 I was in the car racing towards Lake Parker, faithful coffee by my side.

It was an anxious drive, wishing for green lights and hoping the sun might hold off for me for just a few extra minutes.

Important lights refused to cooperate, so I cheated the system and took right turns that I mightn’t normally take.

This shot was taken at the penultimate light, so you can see how the gods were tempting me!

I think I reached my spot at exactly 6:29 and with rattled nerves, climbed from the car and got my first shot almost immediately.

It was a lovely sunrise and worth the trip and I hope you like the images at the end of the blog. There is even one that I combined 13 images (manually, I might add) to show the flight of a lone osprey that graced the early morning skies in search of his breakfast.


Anyway, returning home afterwards I was arguing with myself about part of my decision process while I was still sat at my desk.

In that “go, no-go” moment, I questioned why would I go to such trouble for “just another sunrise”. I mean, I have shot sunrises millions of times before (slight exaggeration) and heading to Lake Parker for yet another one just seemed a bit silly.

It was a finely balanced decision and in truth it came down to a simple 5 mg in favor of going.

What’s he on about now, I hear you ask. Well a mosquito typically weighs 5 mg and without his intervention on the decision process, it might well have been a lazy “stay at your desk” resolution.

In any event, driving home I was a bit annoyed at myself for even daring to coin the phrase “just another sunrise” as part of my argument.

There is no such thing as just another sunrise. Big of small, they are all special gifts to start a day with.

But as humans, we get easily spoiled and take such wonders for granted. Floridians see so many sunrises, it won’t surprise me if half the people I send this link to don’t even bother to check it out.

“I mean, how many stupid sunrise shots does he think we can look at. For god sake! Martha, how do we block incoming emails again?”

It is a dismal trait … spoiled.

There are few that compete with it for being more disappointing.

We quickly devolve to take almost everything for granted until one day it is taken away from us.

It can be a taste, a feeling, a person, or even life itself.

Taking people for granted is something that catches almost all of us out. Our parents are always there until they’re not.

One day we wake up and we are orphans. What would we give just to have one more day with Mam and Dad? The answer to that question is more painful than you can imagine, if you haven’t yet felt it.

So, I guess my message today is a very simple one. Take nothing for granted because there is no guarantee it will still be there tomorrow. Equally, there is no guarantee you will be there either.

… just a thought!


This morning, Simona had a couple of tickets for the Sunken Gardens in St Pete and kindly invited me along. I hadn’t been there before and up to my internet search last night, I knew absolutely nothing about the place.

At over a century old, this turns out to be one of the oldest roadside attractions in the US and it proudly sits on what used to be a main highway that is now part of a city street array in the greater Tampa Bay Area.

Roadside attractions are by definition “a feature along the side of a road meant to attract tourists. In general, these are places one might stop on the way to somewhere, rather than actually being a destination.” And I suspect their heyday has been and gone probably before most of us were born.

Simona had touted it as having some wonderful plants within a single area and beyond that, my expectations were limited.

In truth, her company alone would have made the drive worthwhile … she is a walking encyclopedia for plant stuff. But the place itself was well worth the visit anyway.

I have attached a number of images from this morning to the bottom of the blog and I hope you find at least some of them interest-worthy. I think my favorites are actually the feathers in the water.

Anyway, enjoy.

As I drove home I mused over the whole notion of the disappearing attractions from the US highways and while I suspect that the interstate system together with major destination attractions like Disney World, made them somewhat irrelevant.

In truth, many of them were gaudy and oftentimes cruel to whatever wildlife they had on display, so frankly I am glad to see the back of them.

But I mused on the word “attraction” and began to think about the many ways attraction is used to shape our lives.

On a very simple level, attraction to an opposite or same sex is very much a chemical thing and as attractions go, is probably the most honest form of attraction we will ever experience. We often respond without even making a conscious effort … simply drawn to a life or casual relationship just because something about the other person is attractive to us.

And I have been around couples long enough to know that there isn’t a single formula to define that attraction. And this generally translates into there being someone for everyone, no matter what your taste or appearance.

Plastic surgery is a pollution to the honesty of this attraction mechanism, as some folks get bigger boobs, butt implants, tummy tucks, nose jobs, eye jobs and whatever else in order to “enhance” their ability to attract someone.

I make no judgments and people should absolutely be allowed do whatever they wish with their own bodies.

But beyond the physical, humans tend to build stronger relationships based on character attraction. Or personality attraction. These tend to be longer lasting and more likely to produce genuine happiness.

Beyond this kind of attraction though, humans, governments and corporations have managed to use attraction for pretty nefarious purposes with the general intent to manipulate and control.

It might, for example, be a way to light and show meat in a display case (red seems to be a strong preference over brown), or perhaps a method of advertising products based on pretense that the purchaser will live a sun-drenched perfect life in an impeccably clean house and taking long relaxing baths while sipping a glass of wine.

In government we see politicians work an attraction that people may have to a certain topic (they will take away your guns) so that they create an alignment from a poor working-class voter to where other than guns he votes against his own best interests of financial equity and fairness.

Most of these type of attractions are highly abused until consumer advocacy groups force restrictions. For example, subliminal advertising in the late fifties involved placing hidden messages into television and movies for just a few frames so that the watcher would react in a certain way and want to buy a certain product without evening registering what they had just seen.

Thankfully those days are behind us but today’s version in movies and such is the never ending product placement that is so pervasive in modern media.

These work to create an association between the product or service and whatever situation or characters that we are watching. And given that we only generally watch things or people we like, this association becomes an attraction.

“We do we do certain things” is a good question to periodically ask of ourselves. We can’t do it every step of our lives as it would over analyze us to death.

But for example, why do we have seventeen guns and assault rifles at home? Where did we get the original idea that we needed these and what is the practicality of them ever serving a defense purpose?

And why do we need seventeen cameras strategically positioned around our home on a network that we can access from a cell phone while we are off partying somewhere. The attractiveness of having a perfect home where nothing we have is at risk of loss, has been sold to us as if it is real.

Generations ago, the doors didn’t even have locks. Then after they sold us the locks, the sold us deadbolts. Then they sold us alarm systems.

Then they sell us expansive monitoring systems. And if all else fails, we have our seventeen guns and assault rifles.

Folks, the attraction of the life they are pitching isn’t real. There is no absolute security and absolute protection and frankly nor should there be.

Yes, there are bad people out there. But there always was. And likely always will be.

We shouldn’t find a sterile and perfectly safe world attractive. It just isn’t real.

… just a thought.

Foggy Times

Last night I drove over to Jax where, she, Maria, and I played with a new fog machine to see what kind of images we could make.

We didn’t really have any pre-planned notions other than to try so once the machine itself started to work, we just looked at each other wondering what poses we could make.

It was definitely an experimentation 101 class and the three of us had no prior experience.

We had to make several adjustments along the way but we got the Lume Cube lights positioned correctly from the outset. The evening breeze was the true mischief-maker as each change in direction caused us to restart from a different position.

When you are experimenting in the company of fellow experimenters, failure never happens. No one gets impatient. Everyone throws ideas into the mix and if you are lucky, as I was, some of the ideas work out.

Here are five of my favorites from the evening (at the end of the blog) and I hope you like them.

As Jax said this morning, when I sent them to her, the images have spawned further ideas in her head for our next attempt. And so the learning process has taken root.

Fog is in many ways a challenging element to work with but great fun once you figure it out. And once you emerge from the fog, it is amazing how clear things can become.

From an evening shrouded in fog, immersed in memories of the last time we did an experimental shoot with Brittany, I awoke this morning to a stunningly clear sky.

And the metaphor struck home on such a strong level.

Fog is a medium of confusion and when we live through fog it is difficult to move forward in a defined path. Things appear suddenly as obstacles or impediments to our plans and we often have to detour to get around them.

Fog can engulf us and linger for an undefined period of time. It can blow in from nowhere and suddenly dominate our life.

Some fog is natural and just falls into the “shit happens” category. Other is man-made and in many ways the latter is the worst.

I don’t mean worst in intensity, because life can serve us up some pretty confusing scenarios to work through. No. I mean worse in the sense that it is unnecessary and often doesn’t accommodate rational thinking.

We like to think of ourselves as rational beings, with the ability to reason but man-made fog often defies reason and therefore cannot be rationally worked through.

For example (skip the next couple of paragraphs if you are a republican), the fog that consumed America for the past four years engulfed the country in a divisive and hate-filled manner. If you are a socially conscious and empathetic individual with a genuine concern for all living creatures and the planet, then you would have spent the last four years wondering how 60 million people could be OK with racism, misogyny, fascism, and corruption.

If you are one of those corrupt racist, fascist, misogynists, then I told you to skip these two paragraphs.

But seriously, the arrival of COVID and the loss of all remaining semblance of normality, added to the fog on a very substantial level and developed a mentality that was just geared to keeping your head down and hoping that you make it out the other side alive.

As an individual, the only possible play for any of us was to wear a mask and half the country couldn’t be bothered, making it almost futile for those of us that do.

Beyond fog on such a national level, there are also many times when we create fog in our own lives by adding issues in that in general are either irrelevant to us or frankly none of our business.

For example, we can live a life where we insert an importance on what other people are doing with their own bodies and we line up outside women’s health centers holding plastic fetuses for shock value.

Can you imagine the life that those people live? They have elevated a social or religious or political issue to where it has become a main element of their lives. They spend a major portion of their time involved in an issue that really has nothing to do with them. They live in a fog.

Or how about the folks that attach such significance to an old flag from a racist past that they fly it at home, mount it on their pickup, wear it as a t-shirt, or tattoo it on their arm.

It was simply a battle flag meant to rally a brave army, but it evolved into a symbol of white supremacy and hate. Why march in cities and disrespect the victims of racism and hate? Why build a life around your involvement in such a hate group?

These folk live in a fog where they allow such garbage to run their lives. For what purpose? At the end of the day, do they get awarded a slave that makes their lives better somehow?

No. At the end of the day they die. Just like we all do.

And like all these fog issues, they consume portions of lives that are never recovered. Some people live in these fogs for years.

When the fog clears there is a realization of what life is really about. And it is very simple.


Love of those around you and love of this planet we live on.

Simple as that.

Our final thoughts are never going to be that we wish we could go one one more march or stand outside one more women’s center.

Our final thoughts are going to be that we wish we could have one more kiss or embrace from those we love. One more moment to share our love with those we care for.

How sad if we wait until our death bed before we finally get a clear view of the meaning of life.

… just a thought.


No, not detergents… things that work to deter you from whatever your plans are. But, more about that later.

It was another early start. Poor night sleep led to an early rise and once the little furry friends were taken care of, I hopped in the car with a faithful cup of coffee and drove down to Ballast Pointe, a few miles south of downtown Tampa.

In Lakeland, it was very overcast and rainy. My head was sore and my stomach was sick, and I was insanely tired for just having gotten up, but I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from this journey.

It wasn’t that I needed another sunrise for my portfolio of work … I needed it for my soul. In crazy times like these it is easy to forget to feed our soul and then we go through these patches where life feels merely an existence. And a sad one, at that.

So, all the drive down I sipped gently on my coffee, trying to give my head time to catch up with the rest of my body.

But any feel-sorry-for-myself notions disappeared when I pulled into the parking lot beside a pick-up truck and noticed a young couple asleep in the front while all their possessions were piled high in the back. I guess making America great didn’t include them.

So I quietly finished the ends of my coffee and stepped out without slamming the door and walked towards the pier.

It was still quite dark. This dark:

But I could tell that the clouds here were breaking up and there was every prospect of a sunrise if things would stay this way.

Anyway I did get a bunch of pics and have attached them at the end of the blog (including one that I altered to put something on the end of the fisherman’s line). I hope you enjoy and at least you get to see the progression from darkness to sunrise.

There were other folks there seeing in the new start to the day, just like me. Fishermen, joggers, cyclists, singles, lovers, families … even other camera guys.

And as I drove home I was thinking about how all of them made the effort to get there in time for this natural event and wondered what obstacles they had to overcome to do so.

At the very least, they had to get out from under the warm covers but perhaps some had to make a special effort.

And I examined my own effort and the issues that got in my way to try to deter me from doing this, this morning.

Deterrents are real and exist on almost every avenue we try to travel. Those who live their lives along a path of least resistance may not even notice them, but I view deterrents as the price you have to pay for doing something.

Sometimes the result is well worth the price and others not so much.

But this life adventure we are on doesn’t come with a money-back guarantee.

And that is fine. As I have said many times before, it is the journey itself that makes life worth living, not the destination.

Some deterrents are internal (not feeling well, tired, or whatever) and others external (detours, car problems, or whatever), and while we should indeed listen to them, we should never allow them to dictate whether we do or don’t embark on that journey.

Weigh them as factors, but that is all.

When we give such weight to them that they disable our plans, then our lives become just a little less and the sun rises for nothing.

… just a thought!

let there be light

As much as yesterday morning’s shoot was about darkness, last night’s shoot was about light.

I know that sounds upside down, but welcome to the life of Neville Ronan.

I had time to kill, waiting for a meeting (that eventually got cancelled) and rather than stay at home on the sofa, I decided to head down to Tampa to see what I might see.

In these COVID times, the folks that run Tampa have turned off many of the lights that add so much color to the inner city. I suspect they are trying to discourage people from converging on the city center.

And to a large degree, it worked. The crowds were sparse and those that were there seemed to be heading somewhere else. Unlike me.

I parked over at the University of Tampa on the opposite side of the river and so that became my starting point for this camera adventure.

And as I looked across at the skyline and pondered how the only change was the absence of lights on the river walk, since last I had shot it. None of the buildings had moved, nothing had burnt down, and everything looked too familiar to the last images taken.

So I walked deeper into the university grounds to where their boat ramp floats just inches above the water surface and I threw my energies into just capturing images of reflections of the city, rather than the city itself.

I enjoyed how they came out.

They are at the end of the blog here with a couple of light trace images and one of a people walking-blur to cap it all off. Hope you enjoy!

So anyway, today’s thought then is really all about adapting and being able to think on the fly about alternatives.

I have touched on this before in earlier blog form, I know. But last night’s plans were completely wiped out by lights turned off and a cancelled meeting, yet I still went to bed at evening’send pleased with how I had spent it.

In truth, I am not exactly certain what I was intending to shoot when I headed off downtown, but I thought I would have the riverwalk lights to amuse myself with while there. But that was not to be.

Sometimes we set out in one direction only to find that a factor outside our control, cancels or at least mitigates what we can accomplish.

We adjust to these situations and while some would stop and cancel plans, that isn’t a good option.

Adjustment to plans is a key way in which we learn … we have to follow an uncharted path, stepping outside our comfort zone and try to find a way forward.

Sometimes the adjustment doesn’t pan out. It leads nowhere or produces a dissatisfaction of some sort and that happens to us all.

But that’s OK

It’s how we expand ourselves. It’s how we knowledgeably know that an alternative is not what we want.

But sometimes, it does lead somewhere and we find ourselves looking at reflected light across rippling waters. And our mind stretches. We begin to see shapes and patterns. We take from it.

And that is a win.

I am not saying any of my images should win an award, but in my mind they are pleasing and at the end of the day, that is my real master.

Our own minds are the key instrument with which we decide to enjoy or dislike something. Other people can tell us until they are blue in the face how wonderful something is, but for it to stick, we need to feel it ourselves.

So, deciding whether an alternative action produced a good result or not is a personal position that we take.

It becomes very much a “glass half-full” moment and one that should be cherished, Remember, it only takes two such moments for our glass to be full.

… just a thought.

Coining a phrase

I had been awake for hours and finally rolled out of bed so that I could begin the cat-care tasks of the day.

The first impression was that it was colder than the day before and it immediately gave thought to it being another clear sky.

Suffice to say that this notion accelerated my footsteps and it wasn’t long before the kitties were moved and fed, and yours truly was on his way to the lake, camera in hand and coffee cup within reach.

I know I was just there yesterday, but as I was this early, I decided I wanted to focus solely on the civil twilight that occurs roughly a half hour before sunrise. I didn’t really have an interest in the sunrise itself.

The drive down was solid black. Not a notion of what the skies above me held, although I was quietly confident that they would be clear or mostly clear.

When I hit the lake itself, it was really the first time I saw anything that resembled a horizon and it was a fake horizon caused by lights on the opposite shore.

As I walked closer to the water, there was a splash in front of me … a sizable one and I realized I must have disturbed a resting alligator. I have no idea what size she was, but the volume of the splash made me happy that she was more scared of me than I of her.

The first couple of locations I chose were actually a bust for differing reasons, but as I was so early, I had time to regroup and find a better spot that gave me the view I wanted.

So I hope you like the shots at the end of the blog. And in the meantime, here is a panoramic that you can browse across should you wish.

It was on the drive back home that I began to muse about the whole concept of darkness and the notions we have attached to it.

I mean, I was happily driving into it without thought one way or the other, but some people fear darkness as if it is something to fear.

Firstly, darkness is merely the absence of light … it doesn’t inherently have anything waiting in it (other than perhaps a sleeping alligator).

But why have we coined so many phrases that try to associate good with light and bad with dark?

“Go towards the light” is the ultimate instruction given to those parting from this planet and is a statement of a heaven of some sort.

Evil lurking in dark shadows is the counter-concept that we have been groomed into thinking from vampire movies to the romantic “ghost” movie.

We humor kids (even grown up ones) that can’t sleep in the dark and we leave a nightlight on.

Western movies show the good guys on white horses, wearing white hats, while the villains apparently only purchase their hats and horses at the dark store.

Humor that is delivered with an edgy element is categorized as Dark Humor, while lies told for a “good reason” are White Lies.

Is it any wonder then that historically, good christians were able to see white folk as pure and black folk as having being marked by satan?

No, the truth is, we as humans have mastered a way to categorize life and its elements by coining phrases that appear fact-based, when they are merely a spin.

True evil doesn’t hide in the shadows or lurk in the dark. Sometimes it takes the form of a white man in a white house who tries to convey his lies as being white ones. “I didn’t want to cause panic” lol

Darkness was historically not a human domain. Our eyes and other senses were never intended to do well in a dark environment.

We breached that domain first when we discovered fire and now live effectively a 24-hour existence.

We have encroached on true creatures of the night, and forced our light into their world. We steal their environment and then drown out what is left with artificial light. Is it any wonder so many millions of sea turtles are lost in the confusion?

Darkness is a haven to many in the world. Creatures that happily adjust to the transition where light no longer dominates the proceedings. Bats, owls, possums all thrive in the darkness and for them it is light that brings danger their way.

So, whenever we inherit a fear, suspicion, or dread, we should ask ourselves why?

Are we responding to what someone else would have us believe or do shadows deserve our response to them.

Embrace the darkness … it can be a wonderful source of peace and quiet and might well be just moments away from delivering a beautiful twilight.

… just a thought.

At the end of the tunnel

Given yesterday’s loss of sunrise, I woke in the darkness to a resolution not to accept that as a defeat. But rather, to get out of bed early again and see if I might have more luck this morning.

So after organizing the kitty patrol, and making sure all were fed and in place, I grabbed a coffee and raced off into the darkness towards Lake Parker.

There was a distinct chill in the air, which signaled a clearer sky to me, so I had some degree of confidence that I might be in for a better sunrise.

As I drove down the road, recharging my system with a shot of caffeine, I began to make out that it was in fact a mostly clear sky and therefore, the possibility was that I would get something.

Raised expectation is a good motivator and I was definitely in good spirits as I hit lake edge on the west shoreline.

I didn’t even minD that in the first few shots, I stumbled a little to close and my right foot went into the waters. (My toes are still wet as I write this). Undeterred, I continued to capture shots that showed the progression as the sky worked its magic for my lens.

And to make matters better, all the mosquitoes stayed in bed under the blankets because they don’t really do well in these chilly mornings.

So firstly, here are the panoramics that I got and at the end of the blog are all my “regular” shots. I hope you like!

For the record, coffee never tastes better than on a chilly morning. It was one of my takeaways from the morning’s experience.

The other main takeaway was that my nipples are an effective early warning system … when they are up, I am safe from mosquitoes. Point noted!

Anyway, the main actual takeaway from this morning, was that following up a failure with an immediate second attempt can be a real mood-changer.

Because if/when you experience success with the follow-up attempt, you dismiss the earlier failure as simply a step on the ladder towards eventual success.

No matter the tunnel, there is always a light at the end of it. You just have to be willing to keep going.

There are some people for whom success comes easy and fair enough, I am happy for them.

But for the rest of us, success normally follows on the heals of failure and oftentimes only after several attempts.

Like sunrises, much of the success we crave is not within our control. There was nothing I could possibly have done to create a sunrise and in much of the important stuff, there is nothing we can actually do either. Other than try, that is.

Because trying is what positions us to be in the right place at that right time.

If I stayed in bed half an hour longer, yes, I would have been warm and cozy, but I would have missed out on witnessing such beauty. And the charge that this beauty has given me has lifted my spirits to their highest point in weeks and I am ready for what the week will throw in my direction.

While failure brings experience, success brings benefits and unless we are spending our life chasing windmills, most of us will find that the benefits are ultimately worth the heartaches of having had to work so hard for it.

So, I guess what I am saying is, while staying under the covers is always an option, it isn’t likely to bring you closer to your goals. But by sustained trying, we can get there. No matter how deep the tunnel, they all end.

If it doesn’t then it was a cave and you should have known better than to wander off into a dark cave!

… just a thought!

Trading space, trading time

It was somewhere around 2 am when Rocky decided I needed to be awake, so he began putting his paw on my face and incessantly purring. I remember giving a half-baked stroke on his back and essentially trying to ignore him.

But by the time, my first text of the day came in at 4:30 (a dear friend telling me her baby just had kittens), I was already well-awake.

It wasn’t exactly how I had planned to begin my work week, so I lay there with my eyes mostly closed in absolute refusal to acknowledge the presence of another Monday.

By the time 5:15 had happened, Rocky was in Marcy’s room with fresh food and water, Marcy in the living room and Marty out on the deck. They had fresh food but no one was really where they wanted to be. But for now, that is all I could come up with.

Moments later, I was downstairs giving breakfast to Coco, Lola, Daisy, Tetsuo, Everest, Lincoln, Beauty, and Fluffy (our latest stray). Chaos reigned and I stood there in the darkness listening to the chomping sounds of eight little cats and kittens.

I checked my phone and it said sunrise would be at 6:49, so I had time to set off for the lake, camera in hand. So, I made a coffee and that is exactly what I did.

Left the chaos and as the first sip of caffeine entered my system, I was leaving the driveway and the day was starting to come into focus.

Fast forward to 6:49 and if the sun did break the horizon, I cannot attest to it. The skies were engulfed in thick grey cloud and there was barely a hint of light anywhere that I could see.

And this is what I traded breakfast for? How disappointing.

The cup of coffee that I had brought with me was pretty much gone by this stage and with the added joy of mosquitoes buzzing too close for comfort, I decided to retreat to the comfort of the car and call this a day.

And so as I drove home, I mused about how so many trades in life tend not to pan out.

I mean, we continually trade things for something else on a daily basis always on the assumption that what we are trading for is better than what we have. Yet in all truth, so many are not.

I mean, Rocky desperately wanted out of my bedroom and raced in to Marcy’s room only to find that she wasn’t there and now he is stuck there for a few hours.

Marcy eagerly wanted out of Rocky’s room and ran downstairs to the living room, but there is no one to play with, so she too is disappointed.

And Marty wanted out of Marcy’s room, only to find himself out on the deck now when he would much rather be inside.

Dissatisfaction is a motivator in many ways and it propels us forward in unknown directions. We make a “move” decision based on our reading of our current position and weigh it against the possibility of something different.

But there is a reason why “the grass is always greener on the other side” is such a well-worn phrase.

Being content is not the same as being stagnant and there is a peace that comes with it that can in its own way be very fulfilling.

Not every movement is forward and not every change is for the good.

But our nature is such that we routinely take for granted whatever we have and imagine or even crave for something different.

We make our “change” decisions based upon flawed hope rather than logic and find ourselves regretting the decision, more often than not.

The Declaration of Independence gives us the right of the pursuit of happiness, so we are very much entitled to do so. But too much focus is on the pursuit and less so the happiness.

We might well already have found happiness in the comfort of our pillow and the darkness of our room.

I should have stayed in bed.

… just a thought.

No going home

The evening that Brittany passed, I took my sad ass down to our favorite sunset spot on the east side of Lake Parker.

It is a little concrete pier that extends out over the water by perhaps 200 feet from the shore and gives a lovely vantage point of wherever the sun might be falling on the opposite side of the lake.

For a couple of years now, it has been my go-to sunset spot that didn’t involve an hour’s drive somewhere.

The skies were crystal clear and the air was fresh. And the sun dropped with all its splendor without the aid of nearby clouds to exaggerate red and violets.

It was a simple sunset; simple and pure.

Brittany and I had gone there many times, generally with her hoop and music, sometimes with a beer, and always with a mutual joy in watching the official end to a day.

This time it was different. Apart from the sadness of the day’s earlier news, there was genuinely a loneliness that swept in from the lake and muted the glory of the moment.

I thought. I remembered. I savored. and for a moment I imagined her watching the sun disappear with me. Hence this pic.

But in reality, I couldn’t quite get there.

At the bottom of the blog, I show the sun’s progression and hope you enjoy these shots.

But the main thought that I was left with, was a simple and profound one. There is no going back.

We can wish with all our heart, but nothing we can do in our present or aim for in our future will ever take us back. And the reason is simple. Time changes everything. It keeps ticking away and ten minutes after a moment, that moment no longer is the same.

I remember wrestling with that whole concept first when I lost my Dad and then my Mom. The loss stole what my heart felt was my home. Ireland, with my parents.

Whenever I visited over the years prior to their deaths, it always felt like I was going home.

And that is because their presence there masked the realities that time was changing the landscape that had fashioned all my memories from there.

So, when they were suddenly gone and the mask was removed, it laid bare the realities that the Ireland of my youth only existed in my heart.

And there is a sadness that comes with that realization, particularly to emigrants like myself. We make our choices, move at will, and one day realize what we have lost in the process.

Had we stayed in our home land, we would have absorbed the changes on a gradual basis and likely not recognized the loss on the scale that it now suddenly hits us.

There is an old saying that “you can never go home”. And the truth is profound. The word “home” though refers to anything in our past. It isn’t simply a place. It’s a place in time.

Incidentally, because that place in time only exists in the form of a memory in our heart, we oftentimes gloss it up a bit. We remember it the way we want to and discard the bits that don’t fit with our memory. Which in turn makes it even more impossible to return there, because the truth is that it likely didn’t really exist in the first place.

It is one of the reasons why a hate family pictures and in particular pics of children. Everyone smiles in those pics. Even little Johnny at the back is told “smile for the camera” and he does.

So, years later when we look back through those pictures and see all the smiles, we imagine them to be happier than they were. Little Johnny may be serving five consecutive life sentences for a mass murder, but aaah look how happy he was back then.

The search for “home” in that respect is very much a search for the holy grail and for many of us it can become a lightning rod for disappointment and frustration. Despite our best efforts we will never find it again.

And the reality is that we shouldn’t.

Life is a progression. From start to finish. Going backwards is a fools errand because it defeats the purpose of the progression. Life is to be a journey and a journey that we develop through. Gaining new experiences. Some good and some bad. But all the time moving forward.

Home and the people there, are best served in our memories. Memories that are cherished, polished up, warmed a little, and served ready for our soul to consume at times of upset or sadness.

I have been feasting on mine all week.

And the wonderful thing about that kind of soul food, is that no matter how much you consume them, they are always still there for the next feeding frenzy.

… just a thought.


Yesterday the world lost a very special young lady and I lost a very special friend.

… a lost love.

No one should leave the world at 29 and least of all people that bring such joy and life to those they share their life with.

Brittany was one of those people. The kind of person that we, who live in her afterglow, yearn for. She was such a source of joy that love followed her every move. Anyone of us lucky enough to experience her fell in love with her soul.

Because her soul was life-giving, caring, and gentle.

She was wiser than her years by far and many evenings were spent shared on the sofa locked in animated argument over political or socially dividing issues. Her mind was every bit as beautiful as her body was and I loved her for it.

She filled my heart with many memories that will be held very special within me for the rest of my own life.

She lived with us here for a while, she worked with our little company, she walked trails with me, modeled for me, went to the movies with me, and watched sunsets with me.

So, yesterday evening, upon hearing of her death I took myself off to the spot where we watched so many sunsets and watched yesterday disappear below the horizon on my own.

On many occasions, she would bring her hoop and play with it as the sun dropped, listening to the strains of her music interrupted only by the incessant sounds of a shutter clicking.

She didn’t mind … my camera loved her almost as much as I did. And my picture library is filled with some wonderful images that will (at least for a while) be painful to see.

She occupies a month in my calendar for 2021; the one I had just sent off for printing. And I know August will be bitter-sweet for me in so many ways.

I don’t believe we ever really recover from certain losses in our life. Some of them leave such a hole that time can’t even put a band-aid over, let alone heal. The hole that Brittany leaves in my heart will never be filled.

Nor do I want it to be filled. It is a marker for the piece of heart she took with her as she left this world and I give it to her freely.

Rest in Peace, Brittany … the world is a little less bright today.