It was a lazy Saturday afternoon. The sun was beating down on my leaf-strewn yard and few creatures were moving among the trees.

From my vantage point in the office, I could see a couple of our cats occasionally walk past the open door but it was done with no sense of urgency. So, I knew they were all feeling the lazies as well.

I picked up the camera and went for a stroll around the yard, figuring I hadn’t shot the cats in a while and today would be a good day for it.

So, without much by way of planning, I just meandered around among the trees and shot whatever caught my eye.

The best of what I got is at the end of the blog and if you are a cat-lover like me, you might enjoy the shots. Otherwise, just skip to the cardinal in the last few. That very last shot is a compilation of four and the total time from stationary to his last position in the shot was only 1 second.

Birds are amazing little creatures. Although I think the cats see them in a somewhat different light.

Hope you enjoy!

Anyway, snapshots aren’t really my thing. Or at least, not with my camera. Like most, I think I defer to my phone for such pics.

We take snapshots on the spur of the moment, not really placing much importance on the actual image … simply trying to briefly capture a moment.

If we believe we are taking an important photograph, we normally reach for the camera (if we have one) or at the very least orchestrate the shot with the phone to where we give the shot the best of chances to be something special.

And that is actually what got me thinking about the whole snapshot concept. Not so much as it pertains to photographs but as it pertains to life.

You see, much of life is a casual string of events. Things that really just fill our days but don’t really add up to the important moments in life.

They might be our journeys to and from work, our weekly trip around the grocery store, a quiet night in watching TV.

When we try to recall them, our memories are vague and often incomplete. For example we might recall running for and just missing the last bus that could get us to work on time. But would we remember catching a bus that actually did get us there on time?

We might remember getting the last box of Rice Krispies on the shelf at Publix, but would we remember how many boxes were there if there was a bunch?

The point is, we choose to commit things to memory or not based on the importance that we assign them at the time. Unfortunately assigning the importance later is of no help to the memory creation process, which is why during the police interview a week later, we can’t describe the serial killer that sat on the bus next to us all the way home.

If, however, he puked or farted, you might have a better chance at remembering he was a white male in his mid-thirties with short hair and a tattoo on his neck.

Snapshots in life are the tiny details that we glibly remember without any great detail. However, real memories are the perfectly framed, in-focus image we have formed of something special that happened to us.

You might remember that soft little twinkle she had in her eyes as she made it clear she was open to being kissed. You might remember the excitement and joy of that moment when your team won the SuperBowl. You might remember the smell of your mother’s stew and how it gave you a feeling of a warm home on a cold winter night.

Choosing between memories and snapshots in life is an easy task but it requires that we are observant. It requires that we not let the important things in life pass us by. That we pause when we hear a child cry, that we stop and smell the roses, that we breathe-in deeply the smell of the stew working its way down the hall to our bedroom.

When we revisit our lives in later moments and we look to draw solace or inspiration from our past, it is our real memories that will provide sustenance to us, not the glib snapshots.

We owe it to ourselves and to the people we love to commit as much of our experience with them to memory. Taking time with them for granted and just periodically taking brief snapshots of our time together sells short our experience with them.

When they are gone from our lives, is often when many of us realize how few memories we created with them. I don’t expect it of children, to be able to fashion their memories with their parents, but if you are an adult and are not savoring moments with yours, then shame on you. And at the end of the day, you become the loser.

Forming memories is the cornerstone to building our life experience. From the moment we are born until the moment we draw our last breath, life presents us with a series of event that we can either record or ignore.

Choosing to ignore something or someone of importance reduces our life experience and is a major source of sadness in our later years.

Yet all it takes is a simple recognition of the moment as we live it and then a frequent initial recalling and sharing of it, until it is committed as a solid memory.

It’s that easy. Very little effort and the payback is enormous in later years.

… just a thought.


CSS (Clear Sky Sunsets) are beautiful moments, but in truth they don’t offer a huge variety to play with if you are trying to take pictures of them.

They give a lovely banding around the horizon of peachy orange and their ascent to yellows or descent to reds is largely governed by the temperature of that moment.

Knowing all this and realizing that I was about to witness another CSS yesterday evening, I opted to use it not as a destination for my lens but as only a background and a source of light.

So, I came up with the idea, gathered my bits and pieces and headed off to the far shore of Lake Parker to catch its descent.

I brought with me my camera, a tiny foot-pod (like maybe one inch above the ground surface), a long old mirror that was on borrowed time from the trash-heap, my glass globe, a clip support from a USB drive, and a couple of bottles of water.

I am sure people must have wondered what is this weird old guy up was up to as I carried everything in the one trip out the pier to the very edge. But no one asked.

So, I lay the mirror on the ground and extended the end of it about a foot or two out over the water. Then on that end, I placed the USB clip as a support for the globe and rested the globe gently in place. All the time praying that it would hold and not fall off and roll into the lake.

But it didn’t (aaah the power of prayer lol) and then I poured some water onto the glass surface, to add a bit of character to the surface.

That was when I realized that the glass mirror bent slightly under its own weight and the water ran briskly off the surface and into the lake.

It wasn’t a complexity that I had planned for and it made each shot a furtive event, as each pour was quickly followed by a shutter-click before the water ran off the edge.

If I had planned for it, I would have brought a lot more than two little bottles with me.

It was all terrific fun and as the sun began to disappear, so did the water but I had managed to capture a number of half-decent shots that were very close to what I had initially imagined.

The nine images at the end of the blog reflect the progression as the yellows turned to orange and then disappeared. I hope you like them.

Anyway, as I was driving home, I was genuinely thrilled. Things rarely come out exactly as we plan and while the bend of mirror wasn’t something that I allowed for, I still got enough shots of what I had set out to do.

Conceptualization is a big word and I am not trying to be braggadocious (OK I was just there lol) in using it. But my kids always referred to me as a plan-man when growing up. Before we went anywhere, I typically had it all laid out as to what was expected to happen etc.

So, I find that before I do anything of substance, I try my best to develop a plan and then I work to it. The art of planning is very much anchored on being able to conceptualize whatever you are planning to do in a realistic way.

For example, if I plan on running to the edge of a cliff, the plan should finish with “and then I apply the brakes”, not “and then I flap my arms and take off”.

Realistic conceptualization is often based upon past experience and realization of limitations. This is where we use our past fails and successes to confirm what is or is not likely to be achievable.

There is a wonderful moment when we can realize success in our ability to conceptualize. It happens (like it did for me last night) when you finish your activity and realize it was exactly as you had expected or hoped for.

Such a moment is a character building moment and we move forward in life building on each success with the reinforcement of the last.

Not everyone is willing to conceptualize … these are the folk who go to visit a far off place for the first time and spend 10 days on a tour bus guided by some hapless dude with a microphone up front. They are told what to look at, what to notice, and when it is time for a pee break.

There are the folks who take a job straight out of school and forty five years later, they retire from the same job. They have no career plan and if they get promoted, it is only because the promotions there are based on longevity.

But all thinking people should want to approach life with a plan and a dream. Yes, be prepared to adjust the plan and alter your dreams, but never get on that bus. Don’t let someone else tell you what to dream and plan out your life until death.

We have but one life and it is ours, not theirs.

Yes, there will be moments when the USB clip fails to hold its weight and the globe rolls off the glass into the water. Or maybe the weight of your mirror will break rather than bend as you extend it outwards. Maybe folks will laugh at you for being a pack mule carrying all the bits and pieces in your overburdened arms. I mean, what kind of fool carries a full length mirror to the end of a 200 foot pier?

But so, what?

So what if you fail? You just figure out what caused the fail and try a different approach next time. That learning process is the cornerstone to our ability to plan our next adventure.

So what if the whole world laughs at you or thinks you’ve finally lost the plot? Your “plot” doesn’t need to be explained to anyone. If you want to chase windmills that is your business.

The key word in growing old is “growing” and we grow when we learn. We learn when we fail. We fail when our plan is flawed or we didn’t allow for a bending mirror.

But next time, we know. Long mirrors bend. Period.

… just a thought!

To have and to hold

It was about 4:20 or 4:30 by the time I left home and headed to St Pete to catch the twilight over near The Pier and North Shore Park.

Last night when giving Fluffy his eye meds, I noted how clear the sky was, so I figured it was a good opportunity to watch a clear twilight. And me being me, I wanted a body of water between me and the horizon, so I chose Tampa Bay and got going early enough to make it work.

It must have been a little after five when I rolled in there and hit the North Shore Park first, thinking it might give me some interesting darkness opportunity. But the tide was out and in all honesty, it wasn’t great. The first pic below is the pick of the bunch and while the foreground became nothing without the water, the starry skies were still lovely.

After a number of failed shots, I hopped back in the car and drove back down by the pier in St. Pete … where all the lovely boats sit proudfully waiting for each morning’s rise.

As I wandered along the sidewalk I got a number of cool shots and I was pleased with the mixture of shapes, colors, and reflections that they gave me.

With the sky beginning to warm up a bit I went back up to North Shore Park to bear witness to the oranges and blues that we were being treated to. That type of twilight is definitely my favorite and I was really pleased with the shots.

They are all at the end of the blog and I hope you enjoy!

While I wandered on the sidewalk past the docked boats, I passed by a homeless person asleep on the bench nearby. I couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman because they were so heavily clothed and the hood was pulled over their face leaving the tiniest gap for breathing. It was a chilly overnight and judging by the soft snoring sounds coming from under the hood this poor soul had found a way to make it through to dawn.

I took one picture after I passed, because it immediately provoked my thought process for the blog and I wanted folks to see. It is the black and white one below.

To those who know me well, I have often espoused that if you are well off, America is the greatest country in the world to live in. You have the freedom to do what you want and the opportunity to pursue whatever your heart desires.

But I also believe that if you are poor, America is one of the very worst countries in the world to live in. Frankly nobody gives a shit about the poor and homeless. “they need to get off their asses and get a job” is a common retort I hear when I try to argue that these vulnerable people need to be taken care of.

The immense wealth of some is in stark contrast to the nothingness of others and the hundreds of millions of dollars in parked boats sat in shameful contrast to this bench sleeper.

Americans are wonderful at displaying their wealth. Possessions abound on a scale like no other country. Americans practice consumerism like no others.

We buy in order to have, not necessarily use and homes throughout the country are filled with things bought as wants not as needs. Oftentimes sitting unused even with the original tags on, when they are being thrown out.

In the years that I have visited this same spot, I am sure I could dig out some pictures that show some of these boats never even move.

American “wants” are so great, that a huge industry of personal storage exists to take the overflow of the stuff we have. Stuff that won’t really fit in our homes any more, even though our homes are bigger in size than in almost any other country in the world.

Capitalism is essentially an ok approach to economies, but we have evolved it into consumerism and if you can’t buy, no-one is interested in you. If you can buy, everyone is your friend. Nobody smiles quite like a salesperson working on commission.

But in the shadow of all this “stuff” sit the impoverished, the indigent, the unwashed. We give them a wide berth as we walk by them as they occupy a bench or if they have upgraded to a cardboard box. We avoid eye contact with them as they stand there with a handwritten “please help” on a torn piece of cardboard at the traffic light. We report them to management if they are asking for help within a shopping center. And we report them to the police if they are “up to no good” in our well-groomed neighborhood.

Most of us will keep stuff stowed away in closets or garages, unused for years, rather than make it available to the needy.

“To have and to hold” used to be simply a part of marriage vows, but now it has become the general rule of thumb when we deal with our fellow man.

“It’s mine. My stuff. My money. My taxes. My country. So, fuck off … you can’t have any of it. Get off your lazy ass and get a job. Loser.”

Compassion and empathy have long been casualties of the American Dream and it is such a shame.

For the richest country in the world to have children hungry, people homeless, and families unable to get health treatment, is the greatest shame of all.

People outside of this country look at us and wonder how selfishness became such a part of the national identity.

It certainly didn’t start off that way, as the founding folks that came here on the first ships, arrived with nothing and relied on an un-bordered country with compassionate native Americans to give them sustenance and shelter.

Once we were fed and housed, we set up borders, seized land, and wiped out civilizations … yet they were the savages, apparently.

I coudn’t help but think this morning as I passed this lone sleeper how much we could learn from such savages, if we could just see past the mountain of stuff blocking our view.

… just a thought.


To say the week was challenging would be a rather big understatement and by yesterday evening, I was more than ready to escape into the world of a photo-shoot at Clearwater Beach.

A lovely young friend was down from GA for a few days and was interested in getting some shots done, so I grabbed cameras, lights, etc and did what I almost never do … cross downtown Tampa during rush hour.

Actually in fairness, it wasn’t too bad and I got to Clearwater in time to catch a lovely sunset.

I have put some pics taken from the balcony of my friend’s room, at the end of the blog. The colors were lovely and the setting so peaceful … I hope you enjoy!

By the time I drove home, I felt invigorated and fully charged. Though my body may been late-night tired, my soul responded to the respite from the week’s troubles.

The physical equivalent to a respite is that moment where you catch your breath, get a second wind, and are able to move forward.

All long journeys need moments of respite and life is our longest journey of all.

So when we feel beaten up or exhausted, being able to step away and do something that gives us a recharge can be the difference between able to handle what life is throwing at us, or not.

It doesn’t really matter what it is we do, as long as we can draw some positive energy from it. For me last night, it was a mixture of camera and friend that proved the right recipe. For those hours that I had distance from real-life, time stood still and my soul ran freely among the joys of being alive.

I think we can often lose sight of the benefits of being alive, when immersed in overwhelming troubles.

We repeatedly moan at the unfairness, or groan at the weight of what is happening. And rightly so!

But while we voice that, we also need to understand that all tunnels, no matter how long and dark, come to an end. If they didn’t, they would be called a cave.

While optimists talk about the light at the end of the tunnel and pessimists talk about the oncoming train, the realist has to dismiss both extremes and just deal with the reality that tunnels are oftentimes the only way to get from one side of a mountain to the other.

And when life presents us with a mountain of troubles, sometimes we just have to grin and bear it and be confident that eventually we will come out the other side.

How long it take, how bloodied we will be… who knows? We don’t have control over most of this shit, so better off to just take the punches and then, if you can, find a moment of respite when the journey feels too long and the punches too many.

No matter what they say, the one thing about life is that it beats the alternative.

… just a thought!

No Trespassing

Another super early start with the cats saw me finished with news and staring at the walls by 5 am. These 3:45 starts are a necessary evil while we deal with Fluffy’s eye problem and while I don’t begrudge the exhaustion it has inserted into our lives, I truly struggle with how best to see off the early morning dark-hours until the daylight has arrived.

So, once again I grabbed the A7 and this time headed off to downtown Tampa. Weather app said “partly cloudy” again. Lyin’ bastard. Makes you wonder how on earth they define the word “partly” at Apple.

In darkness, I was unable to make out much for myself but once I could make it out, any fool could see that the skies were held hostage by thick, low-lying clouds that made a mockery of any possible sunrise.

Just as well then, that I wasn’t looking for one. No, my downtown decision was purely an attempt to capture man-made lighting and shapes, within an urban setting.

So, this time, I didn’t cross the river at Kennedy and park at UT like I always do. This time, I drove down by the Cass Ave bridge. It is nearly always in this Viagra-ish state when I see it in the background of other shots. So, this time I decided to make it a foreground feature and see how the city looked behind it.

As it turned out, the cloud cover was low enough that it helped touch several of the skyscrapers and diffused their colored lighting to add some interest to an otherwise miserable sky.

My adventure took on a small element of risk when I decided to trespass on the rail line that you can see in the foreground of picture number three so that I could get an unhindered view of the skyline.

It not only did that, but it gave me a couple of images of the track and structure that I otherwise wouldn’t have seen.

Then, finally, I walked down to the boat launch that you can see on the far right of picture 6, to get one final reflective view at river height.

I was delighted with what I got and I hope you enjoy them (they are at the end of the blog).

As I was driving home, I was thinking about the risk that I took going out on the track over the river despite the “no trespassing” sign that I had to pass by. Given the debacle at Ballast Point a number of weeks ago, I can be forgiven for taking extra caution as I journeyed out to the middle of the river.

The track is obviously sturdy and the only real threat is the feeble balance of an old man with fractured wrist on one side, carrying a camera and tripod on the other. I also mused at the time, over what the police might have done had they seen me. Would I have been given a fine of some sort or just shot on sight?

But in truth, I never felt unsafe and in the revisiting, I asked myself why I even felt remotely giddy taking such a minimal risk.

Yes, there was sign telling me not to do it. And yes there was the stepping out over water aspect that I was aware of. But both presented a risk level that was almost laughable.

I mean some people climb mountains and jump out of planes … the real risk-takers.

Then it dawned on me.

Though I see myself generally as a non-conformer, I have been very much groomed into fitting in within society and following the rules. I mean, I never go to protests, always wear my seat belt, and try to stay within 15 miles of the speed limit.

I rebel in quiet ways, fighting liberal causes in discussions, taking naughty pictures occasionally, and hanging around with ladies of ill-repute often. These are some of my ways of giving society the finger. And generally they leave me feeling alive. I offer apologies to no one.

It is important not to fit perfectly into the round hole. We should all have edges that don’t make us a perfect seal in this water-tight world.

If you follow all the rules, and fit perfectly into society around you, then who’s life are you living?

Yes, it may be the path of least resistance in life, but that does not make it the right path.

Changes within society and even locally, changes within ourselves, come when we bend the rule a little… when we challenge the norm and take a different approach to something.

You may occasionally take some lumps for the path you take, but in reality these then become the medals of your having achieved individuality. Wear them with pride.

So, I guess the point I am trying to make is simple. Ask yourself is perfectly happy with who you are and how you went through your week. Ask yourself did you ruffle any feathers this past week.

If everyone is happy with you and no feathers were ruffled, then stop and grow a pair. Even a little pair. And head into your new week with a bit more adventure than the old one.

… just a thought!

Scene of the crime

With Fluffy having an eye injury and a new medicine regimen suddenly in place, I found myself getting out of bed at 3:45 this morning, to begin the process.

So, by 5 am, all kitty chores were long since done and I grabbed the camera and this time took the drive down to south Tampa, to Ballast Point so that I could catch twilight in that neck of the woods.

In truth I had no idea what the weather was going to be because partly cloudy can mean literally anything in the weather app.

It was really dark when I first arrived, unaided by the fact that nearly all the lights on the pier were turned off. I hadn’t witnessed this before so I don’t know if was authorities way of discouraging visitors due to the whole COVID thing. Who knows?

It was my first return to Ballast Point since breaking my wrist on St. Stephen’s Day and on my return to the scene of the crime, I wondered if my absence was deliberate or just because I was busy elsewhere.

In truth, there was no fear associated with the return. I wasn’t planning on embarking on any foolishness like the last time. But it still felt odd. Sort of like a homecoming but in an odd way.

As I was driving down there, that is where I came up with the thought for this morning’s blog … the whole notion of getting back on the saddle after a misadventure.

Anyway, I have attached a number of the images from this morning at the end of the blog. They show the progression from very dark to a very warm orange sunrise. I hope you like!

And getting back on the saddle was ultimately a good feeling because the twilight delivered colors that I was hoping for. Perhaps it would have been different if it became awash in thick grey clouds.

The importance of making another attempt after a failure at something (which is what the “back in the saddle” idiom is about) is well documented and is generally taken as a good rule of thumb for how we should all get through life’s ups and downs.

And when faced with a conscious “do I” or “don’t I” decision, most of us make the right decision and we try again. But sometimes, there is no decision point. No active crossroads where we reassert our intention of trying again.

We allow the attempt to slip away and it doesn’t come across our radar again mostly because we don’t think about it.

In many ways, this is an avoidance mechanism and it is important that we don’t let our subconsciousness make decisions for us.

Decision making should always be a conscious effort and we need to stop and recognize any instances where it isn’t.

For example, my failure to catch heavy wave activity in the dark (which was the cause for my misadventure) slipped entirely off my radar and I have made no subsequent attempts.

But, even though my own stupidity caused a failure, the concept itself was a valid project and one that I definitely need to try again. And this morning, I chastised myself for letting it drift and resolved to make the effort soon.

Many a good idea can die on the rocks of failure if we give up and our lives are all the worse for it. Life is too short to allow ideas to languish in no-mans-land and we owe it to ourselves to give best efforts for each idea that we have.

Yes, there is no guarantee of success, but that shouldn’t stop us trying.

Soft failures are generally not real deterrents to a retry, but hard failures (like a broken wrist) are indeed reasons that people avoid another attempt.

Once burned, the pain of failure can be strong and long lasting. It could be a failed relationship, a disastrous project, or even a high-exposure failure that allowed the world to see our shortcomings. But none of these are reasons to abandon.

We just learn from the failure, regroup our efforts, and made another run at it. That is how we succeed and success after initial failure is all the more sweet.

Something hard-earned is much-cherished and victories that are much-cherished, form the backbone of personal success. So, dust off that saddle.

… just a thought!

Fog Lifting

It was the first morning in three where the fog had lifted and when my weather app said it was clear out, I took that as a sign to head to the lake and watch the sun rise into a new day.

The past couple of mornings were greeted by varying thicknesses of fog and while I did manage to get some decent pics, like this one below, photographically each adventure was heavily muted:

That was yesterday morning at Lake Mirror in Lakeland. And the orange glow was essentially the fog dispersing the lights around the lake.

But this morning the air was clear and as in that old Barbara Streisand song, “on a clear day you can see forever”… and that is what it felt like.

In reality, when I first got to the Lake Parker, all I could see was a distant lit shore line surrounded by darkness.

My camera on the other hand nailed shot after shot of detail that was beyond the scope of my eyes.

That first shot below is actually near-total-darkness to my eyes, but the camera captured a ton of stars in a sky that almost looked like daylight.

I am obviously loving the A7 and it has me continuously going out early to flex its low-light-sensitivity … so forgive me.

Anyway, the images from this morning are at the end of this blog and it shows the progression over a timeline of about 45 minutes. Hope you enjoy!

As I drove home, my soul was full of the joys of life and I mused over the whole concept of the fog lifting and how it affects us in so many ways.

In a literal sense, the fog lifting allowed the camera to see clearly and find definition. Cameras struggle to see through fog and while they can indeed produce a decent picture or two, color variations and saturations are lost to a certain degree. They wash out some colors and the strongest colors tend to dominate the images.

In a life-sense, the fog lifting has a very similar aspect of relief to it. Fog is generally a confusion or a sense of being overwhelmed to where it is difficult to see very far ahead.

Variables that fog us in, often have us wandering lost without progress as we struggle to make sense of what is going on. Issues take on a more sinister feel and might even present themselves as insurmountable. But this is only because we can’t see past them.

John Carpenter’s movie “The Fog” used the rolling thick fog to hide unspeakable terrors and much of the horror for the characters was caused by being unable to see what they were dealing with.

When we are unable to objectively see what we are dealing with in life, how then are we able to develop an approach to remedy it? Such is fog.

But there is a clarity that comes with being finally beyond the reaches of the fog and this clarity allows us to assess what issues we are dealing with and even see a path beyond them.

Sometimes, it is difficult to see beyond a heavy issue as it becomes all consuming and fogs us in. For example, severe health issues or even a strong toothache can take control of our mind to where we are literally unable to think of anything else other than the matter at hand.

If we are fortunate enough to have good people around us, they take over and deal with the other things that need to be, until our own issues have subsided to where we can begin to take control again.

But sometimes, we don’t have anyone and more often than not, things then fall off the table. And we have to let them go. And later when we look back at ourselves, we have to forgive ourselves for them having fallen.

We are only human. We do not have multi-tasking processors that can distribute its processing power regardless of the challenge.

Even in real fog, where we can equip ourselves with fog lamps and fog horns, these tools are primarily so that others can see us or be aware we are there. They don’t help us see through the fog.

So, in times like this it is important to recognize that time itself is likely the only cure.

Mental fog can be a very limiting restraint on us and there are times when we just have to wait it out and let the winds of change blow some clarity back into our lives.

… just a thought!

Non Accipere Clade

I checked the weather forecast last night before I went to bed and decided to get up extra early and head to Circle B to get to Lake Hancock for sunrise.

The weather app said “partly cloudy” and still did, when I left home around 5:15.

The gates to the reserve were open early and when i got here at 5:40, I was able to drive right in. Unsurprisingly, I was the first car there and there was an eerie feeling stepping out of the car in near-total darkness and heading off towards the lake.

It is just a little over a half mile from the car park to the edge of the lake and without a light to guide me, it was unnerving to say the least.

From the light of my phone, I could see about 20 feet in front of me, but beyond that, there was nothing. To the left and right of me, I would periodically hear movement in the tall grasses or behind the trees and on a couple of occasions it was heavy movement … something large.

When I got closer to the lake, I could begin to see a slight definition of trees against a not-quite-black sky and my footsteps quickened. Then out of nowhere, two eagles took off from their roost right beside me and the beat of their wings created a thump in my ears.

I only caught sight of them as they cleared the tree tops and my heart skipped a beat in excitement.

As I arrived at the lake edge, I could see that the skies were full of thick grey clouds and I knew my hopes for a sunrise were not good.

And I was right, the brightening skies continued to show heavy cloud cover and other than a tiny crack in the clouds, it was smothered in grey.

This was the only picture worth sharing that I got at Lake Hancock this morning.

I waited alone on the small pier, thinking perhaps something might happen and other than occasional invisible splashes nearby, there was nothing.

By the time I left for home, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I was hugely disappointed photographically. But on the other hand, I had a wonderful experience of a trail in the dark. If you’ve never experienced it, you should. The possibility of tripping over a ten foot alligator certainly heightens the senses.

Anyway, later as the day wound on, I was annoyed that my great photo plans for the day had been undone and I felt stifled by factors outside of my control.

So, as I sat there in front of the PC staring out through the window at the gloomy day that it had evolved into, I thought I am not going to accept defeat and so I grabbed the camera and headed down to Hollis Gardens.

Flowers are a godsend for adding color to a gloomy day.

I have attached some of my shots at the end of the blog. Hope you enjoy.

The drive home from Hollis Gardens was much more upbeat than the earlier one and I felt energized, not by what I had seen, but by what I had done.

You see, it would have been easy to just write the day off as a failure and lick my photographic-wounds. But I recalled the old Latin phrase “non accipere clade” (never accept defeat) and was proud of myself for having grabbed onto it with both hands (even the gammy one) and generating some level of victory in my day.

There are many times in life when we are dealt with an unwinnable hand and it is important in those instances to not just fight the good fight. But to look for some fight we can perhaps win easier.

It’s not about winning or losing, it is about feeding your spirit. Any losses over time will sap your spirit and can have a really negative effect on your outlook.

Silly wins, like my Hollis Gardens visit, won’t get you any garlands at the county fair, but they can break a losing record and give you confidence in the next real fight you have to face.

Life is a perpetual battle at times and when we are so close to the coal face that all fights are serious, then each defeat hurts. So you inject some trivial battles into the mix and in so doing, you avoid becoming a perpetual loser.

Losing begets losing and winning begets winning. So, even silly wins cans become a catalyst that propels you forward into serious wins.

For me it was about photography today. But depending upon what battles you are engaged in, your alternative will be different.

Maybe you have been engaged in major corporate struggles where the viability of the company is seriously threatened. Where every major client has turned you down or is avoiding your calls. So then you find a tiny order from a small client that doesn’t save the company, but shines some light back into a dark cycle.

Or your partner tells you how useless you are at everything and how you are ruining your relationship. So, you find a friend who thinks highly of you and lets you know they enjoy their time with you.

Whatever the major struggle, the silly victory doesn’t even have to be related. It could be a dire week at the office, so you go home one night and treat yourself to a wonderful meal and a decadent dessert.

All, I am saying is firstly never accept defeat, and secondly take your wins where you can get them.

… just a thought.

Layers deep.

I raced through this morning’s kitty chores because I knew it was another clear sky outside and therefore highly likely to give some smooth tones to work with at twilight.

Working with just one good hand though is a genuine antithesis to successfully taking care of things in a speedy fashion and one of my last achievements before I left the house was catching my pinky finger in the sliding patio door.

Boy, did it hurt!

I am sure the neighbors could have heard my profanities, as I danced around in pain clutching the throbbing pinky on my one good hand. Although in truth, at that time of the morning, they are probably still in dreamland.

As soon as I recomposed, I headed off to the south shore of the lake and arrived just in time to catch the start of twilight.

The colors were just as I imagined they would be and the fresh air and occasional call of a waking bird made the whole scene so calm and peaceful.

I have put a number of the images at the end of the blog … hope you enjoy!

As I drove home, my aching left wrist was overshadowed by the throbbing right pinky and I recalled a time when having a throbbing appendage first thing in the morning was a good thing.

And I begrudged growing old. Everything takes longer to heal and the discomfort feels more pronounced.

I remember when I was younger and playing soccer, dislocating a finger during a game (I was the goalkeeper) and we just strapped it to its neighboring finger and I played on. I’m not even sure I mentioned it when I got home.

Nowadays if I hurt something, I moan about it in a blog for the world to know. (In this case, the world consists of a half-dozen readers on a good day).

It is one of life’s simple facts, that as we age, our bodies fail us. They either deteriorate over time to where we die a fragile and broken semblance of a person we once were. Or it downright breaks and we drop to the ground suddenly with an aneurysm or a heart attack.

I remember a living room chat with my grannie, who in her late eighties came out for sunday dinner every week and she moaned about how she had reached a point where her wisdom was at its best in life and her body at its worst.

She was a very sharp minded little old lady who struggled to make the short journey from the car to the living room.

On this morning’s drive home, I mused over how obsessed we are with our bodies and how much emphasis we place on trying to sustain a certain look or image. And we do so, despite the inevitability of them falling apart on us.

Men in particular are body-obsessed. Not in themselves, but in the women they admire. Throw a hot curvy young woman into a room full of men and watch her become the center of attention and discussion. And watch the wise old lady get abandoned in the corner.

We place such emphasis on an image that is unreal, that we coerce women into reshaping themselves into an image that appeals to us.

Thankfully women can see beyond the physical of the men that are chasing them, otherwise there would be a population implosion and the human race would soon be extinct.

The real person in front of us, is never their outward appearance. They are the person inside … the mind, the character, the carer. Regardless of their outward appearance, they are the person that revolves around their mind, not their ass.

For most of us, our mind is where we live. It is the home for all our thoughts and originality that makes us a unique human being. More often than not, our mind doesn’t even know our age, our weight, our disfigurements. Our mind only knows who we truly are and what we care about.

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world, if could see each other’s minds and not the shell it lives in? Honesty and caring would become center stage in how we deal with each other and sincerity would reign.

It won’t happen in my lifetime, I know, but perhaps one day humanity will transcend the physical and engage on a mind-to-mind level. (The Barbarella sex scene springs to mind.)

In the meantime, the important thing we can do is to remind ourselves to look deeper into a person and not just read the cover. People are truly interesting beings but much more so when you get to know the inner person.

… just a thought.

5 am ideas

it was 33 degrees when I left home this morning. Winter lasts a day or two here in Tampa Bay and this morning was deep winter for us thin-blooded Floridians.

I layered on the clothing and threw on a beanie hat and drove down to the lake to see what the morning might produce for me.

All the kitties (bar Fluffy) decided to stay inside as I left. I am sure I saw one or two shaking their heads at me for heading anywhere other than under a blanket.

But I had been awake a couple of hours and lying in bed in the dark, i had come up with a list of props that I would like to try to work with this morning. So, cool or not, I wasn’t going to be dissuaded by the disapproval of a few feline friends.

There is a very narrow window of darkness between the boat ramp area gate opening up and the arrival of twilight. So I had to work fast.

I had a bulb idea or two and fumbling with trying to balance them in place while you take a shot is no job for cold hands. One had already slipped and fallen into the water before I managed to get anything right. I hope the fishes don’t eat it and I felt guilty as it floated out of reach and off into the lake.

I hope no one sees it as an opportunity to have a light breakfast.

Anyway, I have attached a few of the shots to the end of the blog, along with one which has been photo-edited to add a glow into the bulb. But the others are as-shot.

As I drove home afterwards, my runny nose and frozen fingers gave testament to a morning well-spent and I was happy with my little adventure.

There is no guarantee with ideas that sound viable in the darkness of an early-morning bedroom. Often as not, they fade fast in the unforgiving light of dawn.

But this time, the bulb played out exactly as I thought it might. Yes, there are a couple of things I would do differently next time, but it gave me what I imagined.

Trying to get it to stand vertical is nightmarish, by the way.

Anyway, as I drove home, I began to think about our idea processes and why things often seem so clearly doable in bed, only to become ridiculous once we are up and moving.

And I arrived at the conclusion that there are two main portions to an idea phase and they play out very differently depending on what time we are having them.

There is the basic idea and the qualification.

The basic idea is essentially the core thought that takes shape about something we are thinking about. It might be a problem we are trying to solve or an out-of-the-blue notion that is unrelated to anything else.

The qualification is the experience we apply to the basic idea in order to determine if it is viable. This experience is typically based on something from the past that we were either successful or not.

When we have a basic idea immediately post-sleep, our brains are very much refreshed and they are operating in a very pure manner. They are not encumbered by the pain in our wrist, the cold winter air, or the arrival of other variables into our thought process.

For several hours leading up to this idea, our brain has been in recharge mode and so almost any idea will seem momentarily earth-moving.

Qualifications will immediately occur after an idea creation moment, if we are fully alert and engaged in our day. By that stage, we are already dealing with variables. We’ve been dealing with the wrist pain and the cold temperature for hours already, so they are very much part of the thought process.

I don’t know if any of you have been in an organized brain-storming session, where someone is standing at a white board and encouraging the voicing of any idea that occurs to you, relative to the subject being stormed.

But if you have, then you already know that voicing an idea without qualification is why certain people within the company are suddenly thought of as complete morons.

Think before you speak, is the rule of thumb regardless of what the guy with the dry erase marker in his hand, said.

Unless you are an unqualified genius and are likely to spontaneously discover the cure for cancer without even having thought about it, keep your mouth shut.

But, interestingly enough, we will sometimes listen to our own unqualified ideas and proceed along a path as if we had qualified it.

Later down the road, those become the “what was I thinking” moments.

I had one of those moments … you remember me saying I dropped a bulb in the water? Well, here is the idiotic moment in full:

Having given up on the upright balancing idea, a voice in my head said “hey, I have an idea. Take your mobile phone and lay it on top of that post over there just above the water. Then rest the bulb on it and while it is lying down and you light it, it will give a good reflection on the phone surface. Hell, you can even turn the phone on, so that the phone screen becomes the light source for the bulb laying on it.”

Yeah, a real moment of genius that. This is why they keep me away from the cancer-cure programs.

The bulb rolled off and as I reached to grab it, I knocked the cell phone too. Luck of god I managed to grab it before it hit the water.

Explain that phone loss to the folks at the AT&T store and see the looks you get!

Anyway, I guess the point I am trying to make here is qualification of our ideas is an invaluable part of our process. So, before you jump out of bed and take up freestyle mountain-climbing, have a cup of coffee first and see how your wrist copes with handling the weight of a 12 oz dark brew.

… just a thought!