Miss Muffet

My very special friend Jax wrote me the night before last that her boys had found a brightly colored jumping spider in their back yard. It was a male Regal Jumping Spider and after satisfying herself that he wasn’t particularly harmful to humans, she invited him to join the family.

No surprise then that yesterday evening, as the sun was dropping in the skies over Lithia, I found myself on a blanket in the back yard with Jax, her daughters, and the recently named Giebun.

The little guy was so friendly; crawled all over us, shooting little strands of web and jumping from stick to hand to head. He seemed very much to be enjoying the visit with us as we were enjoying time with him.

I’ve never played with a spider before and in fact it was my first time letting one jump on me and crawl along my arms. He enjoyed my arm hair but found Kallista’s full head of hair more appealing.

The feeling of his jump to land on your arm was wonderful. There was very little weight to the little guy so what your eyes readied your brain for, was dramatically overstated when his landing produced a feather touch on your arm. It was wonderful.

We talked softly to him and while I don’t for a second believe that he knew what we were saying, the softness of our tone put him at ease and he just happily explored us without fear.

There were many instances, where we could see him stop and look at us. He would lift his head or adjust his stance and keep an eye on what we were doing. Well, eight eyes actually.

He was a remarkably intelligent and inquisitive little guy with bucket loads of character and when I wasn’t playing with him, I was taking some pictures of him.

They are at the end of the blog. If you are fearful of spiders, then be warned. I find him beautiful, but you may not.

While talking with Jax, we hit on the topic of people’s fear and misunderstanding of little creatures like this and that is what put the topic of today’s blog into my mind.

You see, from an early age we pre-condition our kids into a fear, or dislike, or disregard for certain creatures. We do so willfully without regard to what effect that has on the creatures (and arguably the child).

Invariably we lie about the intelligence and feelings and value of little lives and we do so for a few reasons.

Firstly, humans for some reason need to think they are god’s gift to the planet we all share. We need to be better, more intelligent, and therefore more valuable than any other creature.

And I get it. Someone creates a god, then writes a book on behalf of this god, and the book of course says we are all created in god’s image. There’s a degree of manic egotism in such a position, but much of the world has bought it. As a species, the only thing more dominant than us on this planet, is our egos.

The second reason we tell these lies is so that we can kill, eat, and displace, all these creatures without conscience. And we do that on a level that is so wildly destructive that we even endanger the planet we are all standing on.

But that’s OK, because one day the humans will colonize another planet somewhere in a far off galaxy, so we will leave all this destruction behind. The destruction we caused. Like a swarm of locusts, we consume, destroy, and then move on.

The third reason for our lies is ignorance. When we dismiss creatures in this manner, then we don’t need to learn anything about them. We leave such knowledge to the radical left activists, so that we don’t have to change our behavior based on real knowledge. So, we choose the lazy way – willful ignorance.

There are likely many other reasons for the lies too, but at the end of the day, these lies are all derived from our own wants. We want to feel special, we want to kill, we want to be lazy.

All lies are wrong in some fashion. And I know there are degrees of lying and we all do it.

But in my mind, the worst lies that can be told are the ones that are based on selfish wants, regardless of the damage that these may cause.

Ask yourself how forgivable it would be for you to experience a destructive lie from your best friend, just so they could have what they want.

I would argue that if your best friend did this once, they would no longer be your best friend.

Spiders are so maligned that we stomp on them for no reason at all. Just because we see them. How dare they be in our presence! And it all dates back to that spider that frightened poor little Miss Muffet away.

Yeah, we teach this behavior to kids very early on. But at least we make it rhyme. So sweet!

… just a thought.


It was one of those early starts that found me out of the house before 5:15 and other than grabbing the wide angle lens for a sunrise shoot, I hadn’t really made any decision about where I was heading.

I think I was on the road about a half an hour before I finally settled on Ballast Point. The sky above had a good clarity and there seemed to be some loosely configured clouds up there too, so that’s how I ended up deciding on shooting over water.

The reality is that if there was some solid clouds there or anything that looked like it would mess with the horizon, then I was probably downtown-bound. Then the buildings would have taken the brunt of the cloud cover.

At least that’s the way my early-morning-brain saw things.

I was pulling into the parking lot by six which was still well over an hour ahead of sunrise and there were already about ten cars there. I sighed sadly because I knew that while two or three might indeed be early morning fishermen, there was a distinct possibility that a number of them were occupied by sleepers.

I parked into my spot beside a white sedan and as I came to a halt, there was a familiar face looking out at me. It was the same cat that I had seen there a few visits back. He and his owner sleep in the car and I guess this is their go-to spot for overnight quiet.

Thankfully I have gotten into the habit of always having a can of Fancy Feast in my car these days. Oftentimes the beneficiaries are the stray cats that live up at my local Walmart. But for the second time now, this little guy was about to get a nice breakfast.

I tapped on the window which was party down and though I thought he was awake, I think I woke up the driver. I apologized and handed him, through the opening, the can of Gravy Lovers Beef for his little buddy at the back window.

He remembered me from the last time and he thanked me again for this one. I asked his friend’s name and it turned out to be Edgar. Lovely name for a cat.

Camera and tripod in my other hand, I walked away humbled by the experience and the gratitude just shown me. You see, on my drive down there this morning, I had been feeling a bit cheated by life in recent times and was generally feeling sorry for myself.

There wasn’t one particular thing that I was upset about, just life in general and for a while now I have been dealing with a general level of unhappiness.

So as I walked away, it wasn’t that my own level of unhappiness went away … it didn’t. But this little encounter suddenly put a sharp perspective on how I felt for myself.

As odd as this is going to sound (and I am sorry, in advance) it was really Edgar I felt most sorry for. Clearly he is loved and that is a huge positive for any little creature, but living in a car is no life for a cat.

It would be tough on a dog too, I know, but the truth is that you would be able to get out and take your dog for walks and such and let them run around and stretch their feet. That kind of outlet doesn’t exist for a cat and so in many ways, little Edgar seems imprisoned. I just don’t know what his crime was.

Some kind of feliney, I guess. Oh come on … work with me here.

As I rattled off my early morning shots, he stayed stuck in my mind and I asked myself who was better off, the little family of young cats living in Walmart parking lot or Edgar living in a car. There was a real back and forth playing out in my head on this and it doesn’t really matter what answer I came up with, neither was perfect.

Though my heart then wasn’t really into the whole shoot this morning, I still managed to get a few pics that were decent and I have them at the end of the blog.

I hope you enjoy.

Now, this is the point in my blogs that I always depart onto the main purpose for my writing or my thoughts for the day. And right now, there are some of you reading this thinking “Oh shit, he’s going to head off into another dissertation about homeless people and the inequity of riches in America. But relax … I’m not.

No, the real thought that ran through my head as I drove home was all the little creatures that we come into contact with every day and how different their lives are from one another and from ours.

The Walmart kitties live a different life to Edgar who lives a different life to my office indoor/outdoor cats who live a different life to my upstairs indoor cats.

And the possums and raccoons that come to my food stations each evening live a different life to their buddies that have to find food wherever they can.

The baby possum that lives in my storage room gets fresh food and water twice a day and lives differently from other baby possums that may or may have enough to survive with.

The birds that fly in every late afternoon and let me know when I am late putting out their bread; they live a different life from birds that may or may not be able to find enough to eat in a given day.

And we humans live different lives from those around us. We may even look the same as other folks but none of us live the same life.

Some are privileged, others poor, some may have to dig like crazy just to eke out an existence, others may find opportunities waiting for them around every corner.

We can choose to resent those who have it better off than we do and that is one way that many people go through life. They begrudge, they moan, they object. And all that happens is that they become bitter.

Do the cats at Walmart resent the guys living with me? Or do they go about their little lives as best they can?

Going about life the best you can is a genuine path to happiness. Because true happiness comes from our achievements in the face of adversity. Happiness does not come from power, riches, or an easy lifestyle.

Is there anybody on the planet that things Trump is a happy person?

No, happiness comes from taking whatever life sets in front of us and finding ways to make it work for us.

When we make a life within our situation and do as best we can with whatever is dealt to us, we achieve real success and this in turn points us towards happiness. And every now and then an opportunity to make our life better comes along and allows us to grow with it.

Edgar lives what many outside that car might view as a tiny and tragic life. But he is loved. And the car is his domain. And he looks out through the windows at the things that happen around the car. He is not moping on the back seat waiting for life to be over.

And then every now and then, there is a knock on the window and someone hands him in a little can of Fancy Feast.

… just a thought!

Treating Symptoms

I had just gone through a miserable weekend. Friday night was terrific but the rest of the weekend was dire in the extreme.

I resisted at every turn, determined to turn things around and each time all I achieved was failure.

So by the time I got out of bed this morning, I was truly determined to get the week off in the right vein. I don’t care what the gods had in mind for me, I was going to dial it all up a notch.

So, after all the babies had been fed and cared for, I grabbed a coffee, hopped in the car, and headed off down to Ballast Point to catch the sunrise. I had my A7 back from the repair guys (who did an amazing job btw) and I was going to make this Monday one to remember.

I was on the interstate before I realized I had this dull headache that wasn’t shifting, and my shoes were distinctly uncomfortable, and to add insult to injury the underwear that I took off the shelf weas clearly designed by a woman. Or at the very least a guy with tiny testicles.

Traffic for 5:45 on the interstate was horrendous. Where were all these people going at this time of the morning? Someone must have been giving away $100 bills on the corner of Westshore and Kennedy because everybody and his mother were heading down there at this ridiculous hour.

Eventually I got there and as I climbed out of the car, head pounding, limping with a sore foot, and plucking a wedgie, that’s when I noticed there was this one band of cloud in the sky and it was sitting exactly where the sun was going to come up.

I mean, seriously. For fuck sake … who is writing this script? The Marquis De Sade?

I took some pics for what they’re worth and the few that were worth sharing are at the end of the blog. I hope you enjoy … but seriously, look where the fucking cloud is!

As I was driving home that’s when the thought occurred to me that everything I tried to make better this past few days completely missed the mark.

So would I have been better off not trying at all then?

Well, actually the answer is no. And it is always no.

Because whenever we shy away from a challenge we let ourselves down. We are left wondering “what if” and we never know the answer.

But when we try and fail then at least we take some satisfaction from having tried.

Sometimes all we can do is treat the symptoms. We know before we start that we are not going to win, but by giving it our best and putting some effort in, maybe we end up with a loss that isn’t SOOOO bad. Know what I mean?

Every ill in our lives doesn’t need to be cured. Or at least we don’t always have to find the cure. Sometimes we just take a painkiller so that we don’t feel whatever has caused that headache.

Have we cured whatever the cause was? Hell no. But did we achieve something? Hell yes.

So when I got home, I took a couple of pain pills, changed the shoes I had on, and threw the underwear into the trash can. If I achieved nothing else today, it was that my little guys will not be exposed to such cruelty again by that pair of underwear.

… just a thought.

Needs and Wants

The kitties had all been fed and I stood there on the driveway, looking up into the dark sky. It was still an hour and a half to sunrise, but I could see enough to let me know that there must be heavy cloud … all the stars were hidden from view.

I thought about staying home, but in truth, my decision to go was made last night before I even went to bed.

You see, today is the third anniversary of my mom’s death and I needed to go and say hi.

Lake Parker is one of the three places where I spread her ashes. She and Dad had their ashes spread here and also in Lettuce Lake and in Lake Hancock.

In my list of wants as I looked up to the sky, the notion of a somewhat clear sky was by far my preference, but from what I could see (and confirmed by the app on my phone), Lakeland was smothered in cloud.

It wasn’t really intended to be a photo moment anyway, so I wasn’t too upset. I gathered three little candles and a book of matches and headed off to the lake’s shore.

I wanted to be able to light the three candles (one for each year) and sing her favorite song to her, but the breeze made a mockery of any attempts to light the candles. The longest they stayed lit was for less than two seconds.

And as for the singing, well, I wanted it to be a nice quiet visit but immediately I got there, the place was descended upon by boaters. Eight boats launched while I was there and the level of noise and clatter was distracting to say the least. I got a verse out before I left but I doubt if she heard it over the roar of the outboard motors.

When I left, I drove down the lake side and found a quiet spot where it was just the two of us and I got to finally let her know that I miss her. I don’t appreciate being left an orphan. Not cool!

Anyway, I include a few pics at the end of the blog from the morning and I hope you enjoy.

Meanwhile as I drove home, I mulled over how few of my wants were taken care of this morning. And yet how I still found a quiet moment somewhere, I still got the candles lit (even just for a couple of seconds), and I still got to sing a few lines of “My Way”. And Mother Nature even obliged with a lovely red and golden spot to shine through in between the layers of cloud.

So essentially, each of my needs were met so I have no complaints.

I know that we all know the relevance of wants versus needs and while we often focus on the former, the latter is far more important.

And sometime what we want is diametrically opposed to what we need. For example, if I had gotten the solitude for the morning, I wouldn’t have gotten my favorite shot of the morning, which is picture number four below of the distant boat in the water.

Focusing on wants is very natural, particularly when our needs are mostly met in life. Maslows Hierarchy of Needs defines beautifully how us humans react to life when we are at different levels of comfort. For most of us in the western world, our physiological needs are met inasmuch as we have enough to eat, a place to sleep, and air to breathe.

Most of us also have our safety needs met inasmuch as we have our health, income of some sort, and are not living under personal threat.

And so we begin to develop our wants beyond what these basic needs are.

We reach for the stars and want success, want a real feeling of worth, want to be loved and to love, and so on.

But take away one of our lower level needs and immediately we couldn’t give a rats ass about our wants. For instance, the moment we lose our health, our lives revolve around getting it back or at the very least restoring what we can of it.

There have been times in my life when all my needs and many of my wants have been met and life has been good. It has allowed me to reach into a mode of self-actualization, where my goals in life revolve around becoming the best person I can be.

In recent times life has undermined me on a couple of needs and more primitive wants, to where I have abandoned that notion for the moment.

I am sure that this happens to almost all of us and it behooves us in times like this to be able to strip away the veneer from something in order to be able to identify if it really is a need or simply a want.

This requires us to examine our motivations in doing things and to make sure we are not distracted away from something essential, all because of glitter and sparkle.

We can follow that sparkle when everything is going well, no doubt. But when things aren’t, we have to be very selective on what we are chasing and why.

That is one of the reasons why I often self-reflect. I ask myself routinely why I am doing something and what I hope to achieve from it. I examine the motivations regularly and there are times when I have spotted motivations that were wrong or at the very least poor.

No one holds us accountable for our lives, at least not to the extent that we should. We should be our own biggest critic and regulate our actions and interactions accordingly.

Because for everybody there will come a moment, when some of life’s needs will be taken away and we can’t be off chasing windmills when that happens.

While some who are privileged might follow their own silver-spoon lives and not have to care about their most essential needs, the rest of us need to keep a watchful eye on the realities of our lives.

I firmly believe in setting goals and living a planned life. I understand that things happen along the way that takes certain elements of that out of my hands. But by sorting out wants from needs, I can make sure that successful or not, at least my efforts will be in the areas in life that they need to be.

Life will pursue its own plans regardless of what my intentions and efforts might be. And that’s when it is most important that I am able to identify wants versus needs.

Even for the richest and most powerful of us, at the end of the day life comes and takes away the most important of all our needs … breathing.

… just a thought.


It’s a virtue I don’t have. But when you at least accept that there is a shortcoming that you are aware of, sometimes you can do something about it.

This morning, I set out early and decided on the north part of Bayshore where I would be looking at the sunrise as it came up behind Tampa General Hospital. I know that isn’t necessarily an idyllic view but I was hoping that the skies might add some drama and generate some wild colors that could have drowned out the foreground.

When I got there, it was yet an hour before sunrise and as the sky became a little clearer to my view, I could see that there weren’t enough clouds to add the drama I needed.

At that stage, I could have left that viewpoint and headed further south towards Ballast Point. I even had time to head across the bay towards St Pete. But last week’s disaster over there and my own laziness and reluctance to move, worked together and made me stay.

There were a couple of guys hanging out to my right who were smoking a little weed and enjoying the early morning quiet. There were a few joggers that occasionally went by. And there were a couple of cormorants diving for breakfast, hoping to catch a sleeping fish or two.

But, all told it was a nothing morning. I’ve said it before, I am not a fan of clear sky sunrises. Although they are pretty, they all look the same and for someone like me it always seems like I have been here before.

I got it my head that I would leave and go home to the cats, but I chided myself for my impatience and made myself stay for a bit.

That’s when the unexpected arrival of a dolphin broke the routine and drove my excitement factor noticeably higher. It was still too dark to get clear shots of her, and I didn’t have a zoom lens anyway, and I didn’t have a notion of where she might even surface …. so it was never going to be a photo moment.

But nonetheless I was thrilled that she chose that moment to swim up the bay. I felt privileged.

There are a couple of shots of her breaking the water surface among the sunrise shots at the end of the blog. They aren’t anything special but it was a special moment to me.

I hope you enjoy.

As I drove home a little later, I was happy to have stayed and nature seemed to have rewarded me for doing so.

It made me think though, why is impatience such a trait that I always seem to have to battle? Why is it not yet something that I have conquered?

I realized in thought, that impatience is something that extends well beyond me and my shortcomings. It has become a pronounced trait across the world we live in.

For generations of mankind, we have removed the virtue of waiting from the values we teach our children. We give them what they want, when they want it. Not all the time, but enough to cause the loss of patience in the arsenal that they approach life with.

America is worse than most places in the western world in this regards and I suspect it is a direct result of the affluence and laziness that has infected us in this last hundred years.

Why wait when you can afford it now?

Why save when you can get instant credit?

Why wait for something to get repaired when you can replace it immediately?

Why wait in line at the grocery store when you can have someone shop for you and bring it to your car?

Why make a healthy dinner for everyone when the drive thru is so much faster?

The byproduct of all these choices is more waste, more debt, more laziness, and more damage to our health. And across the board, less patience.

So maybe I am being a fool to try to fight against what I see as a personal failing. Maybe I should just go with the crowd and only accept instant gratification.

This level of “instant living” is reflected in everything we do and far from slowing ourselves down in this decline, we accelerate willingly towards wherever it all ends.

Earn your four-year-degree in three.

Buy now pay later.

Instant messaging.

There is no waiting any more.

Unless of course you are a black person on polling day. Those folks can wait seven hours in line, but god forbid anyone tries to give them food or water. Let’s arrest those election-stealers … OK, sorry, that is a tangent.

I blame technology.

I love technology.

But I still blame it.

You see, technology is smarter than us humans and though we know how to use it, we never learned how to control it.

There are now generations (yes, plural) who never used a rotary dial phone and had to wait a couple of seconds for the dial to rotate all the way back from the “0” so you could enter the next number.

There are generations who have never experienced the act of changing a TV channel or adjusting the volume by having to get off the sofa and walk to the TV set.

There are generations that never had to plan to take the meat out of the freezer the night before in order to be able to cook it for dinner the following day.

Digital phones, Remote Controls, and Microwaves took away the need to wait and while we happily consumed these “innovations” our waste lines expanded and our patience depleted.

The phrase “patience is a virtue” has long since been forgotten and has fallen into complete irrelevance.

We no longer expect it from anyone any more, least of all ourselves.

“Sorry for keeping you waiting sir.” even though it was only a couple of minutes ago when I joined the line to buy the fast food.

It is to the point where you must be a complete loser not to have an express pass at the theme park. “Keep walking kids. Don’t make eye contact with those sweaty people. They are probably those F-word people. Foreigners”

OK OK, slight exaggeration, I know.

But my point is simple. While recognizing a short coming within myself, I see that the world around me not only doesn’t see it as a shortcoming any more, but in fact lack of patience is often praised and rewarded.

“He’s a real go-getter. Won’t take no for an answer. A highly driven, results oriented person. What a guy!

Let’s promote him, let’s reward him. Let’s elect him.

Virtues of past generations like integrity, honesty, decency, and patience are exactly that … in the past.

But then again, I can only effect change in me. So, I will continue to strive for more patience … you should too. It really isn’t that hard.

What are you waiting for?

… just a thought!