We opted for a walk around Hollis Gardens yesterday followed by a circuit around lake mirror and though it wasn’t the normal adventure along a wild trail somewhere, it turned out to be a lovely wander anyway.

We were able to let our senses out of the bag and run free among some things neither one of us had been around before. That’s one of the lovely things about Hollis Gardens. Regardless of the time of year there is always something that appeals.

Other than taste, each of the other senses were satisfied along the way. As soon as we entered the gardens, the sound of gentle classical music accompanied each step we took. The sights of each color and shape were amazing and we touched some of the most velvet-like leaves that just didn’t even seem real! And as for the smell; well, you just had to be there. Words do not describe the different scents that drifted aimlessly with the gentle breeze.

Though I failed on some of the shot-attempts, most of them were decent enough and I have added them onto the end of the blog here.

Hope you enjoy.

Honestly, it was this morning when I was going through the images, that the thought for today’s blog occurred to me. In essence, it is about how important it is to feed each of our senses on a regular basis.

Most of us routinely feed our sight and sound and judging by the size of everyone here in America, taste is also being taken care of.

Unless you get out and about in a natural environment, smell is really being fed artificially and although that isn’t necessarily ideal, at least it is something.

But it is the fifth one that I really wanted to dwell on here for a moment; touch.

You see, the more virtual our world becomes, the less we indulge this sense and it is such a shame. Of the five senses, it is often the least thought of and very few people seem to be worried at all about losing it. I mean people would moan about the possibility of going blind or deaf, a little less-so about losing their sense of taste or smell. But no-one seems to worry about the sense of touch.

I can’t remember where but I recently read a statement that said “marriage can still thrive without sex but not without touch” and I hasten to broaden that statement out beyond marriage and offer that we, as people, can’t survive without touch.

Touching is an intimate act. Whether we touch a person or a leaf, our experience is uniquely personal. We experience it as a lone act whereas communally we can share a smell, a taste, a sound, or a view.

The main reason that a cut on our finger tip can be so painful is because we have evolved to have so many nerve endings there and it gives us the ability to sense small fluctuations in what we are touching.

When we run our fingers across a soft textured leaf, we feel a beauty. When we run our fingers across our love’s face, we feel a connection and their face allows them to feel one too. When we pat someone of the back, hold their hand, or caress them; these are all important use of our sense of touch.

Virtual cannot and should not ever replace this important human sense. And to allow ourselves to drift into a virtual world eventually starves us of one of the main components of our humanity. Our sense of touch.

… just a thought!


From boat racing on Saturday, we found ourselves within 24 hours returning to the other end of the spectrum back on a trail at Circle B on Sunday.

My camera may have been confused but I returned to the comfort zone of innocent little creatures and a near-perfect weather day that filled my lungs with fresh air and my ears with the simple sounds of nature.

We were there bright and early and other than wild birds on the trail ahead, there were very few humans about (thankfully). With a section of alligator alley still closed, we took the marsh rabbit run and though it was much quieter than normal, we didn’t care.

The last trip there spoiled us with endless creatures that seemed to be in every corner, but this time there were long sections where we didn’t see a soul.

By the time we had finished, I had still managed to collect a diverse offering in images, so I wasn’t bothered. And my favorite shot of the day didn’t happen until the very end when a little Thrasher was singing to the skies above and I was lucky enough to catch him mid-chirp.

It was a lovely day and after the crazy excitement of the previous day in Englewood, it grounded us perfectly and our souls once again felt at one with the world we live in.

I have added the collection of images at the end of this blog and I hope you enjoy!

The contrast between both days is what led to today’s blog thought which is that no matter what life we live, someone else is likely to be living one that is extremely different. In fact, extremes seem to be the norm today with the middle ground occupied by fewer and fewer people.

Politics here in the US is an easy one to spot with the gulf between Democrats and Republicans at an all time high.

But I am trying to talk about something far wider than just politics. Look at the extremes of those that have and those that don’t. For example, the “boys with their toys” comment from the policeman the day before shone a light on a world that I will likely never be a part of.

Rich people that pour their money into self-entertainment is in shocking contrast to that of friends of mine that can just about afford their mortgage or for whom rent is a monthly challenge that they are never sure of until they have pieced it together.

The gulf between the rich and poor has never been wider and there is even greater acceptance among the rich that the financial raping of the poor is something that is ok. For example look at that comment by the CEO of Dollar General recently where he boasted that the company does well when times are good and “fabulous” when times are bad. True or not, how can the super-wealthy feel justified in boasting about exploiting the poor.

Look at the accumulation of super-wealth by cunts like Elon Musk to where he accumulates over 250 billion dollars while trimming down the staff at his companies in order to make them “more profitable”. I mean, how much of “more” do these people need?

Capitalism is in theory a good method of creating a dynamic and innovative world. But greed and exploitation have to be reined in to the point where the perpetrators should be vilified and not glorified.

Extremes also exist within our mind in how we live our daily lives. Our mood swings are tied to our beliefs and goals to where we are always either happy or sad. If we answer “OK” to the question “how are you doing?” or “how are you feeling?” it is generally taken as something negative. Because OK is no longer accepted as enough. Yet, the truth is our lives spend more time in the “OK zone” than either happy or sad as it is by definition the median of our lives. So, why then do we feel we have to apologize for it?

It is the same with our aspirations and the dreams of those about us. Why do we always have to wish for the stars and dream big? Why put this pressure on our kids also? Why can’t we just be content with being average? When we find average unacceptable, then we create the basis for unhappiness and how is that acceptable to us?

No, the simple truth is that all around us, extremes fight for our attention and we ignore the ok stuff. News is always sensational and demands are always excessive. We are continually marketed to and manipulated to where we are told never accept less than the best. When did standard and average become such bad words?

I guess what I am trying to say is that life in the extreme is a fools errands and when we join that rat race, it inevitably creates far more losers than winners. Life away from the extremes generates more harmony and peace within oneself.

And that kind of life is perfectly OK in my opinion.

… just a thought!

Outside of the box

On Saturday we found ourselves back down in Englewood with Vel again. But this time, we were there to catch the annual offshore race.

Winds were high which unfortunately resulted in them cancelling the last races which would have involved what they called “Big Boats”. We saw them on their trailers ready for the day but they never made it into the water, which was a real shame.

Here are some of the pics from the parking lot and I can fully understand why the risk of high winds damaging these was the right decision to cancel their race.

In any event we still got to watch three of the earlier races with the “smaller” boats and they were still gorgeous and provided more than enough excitement to justify having gone there.

Truth is, any time with Vel is a joy anyway so even if all the races had been cancelled we would still have had a fun time.

We had a little beer and BBQ after the watching and hung with some cool people. Yes, there was a couple of the assholes that you’d expect drawn to an event like this, but in the main, they were good people.

By the time we got back home that evening we were thrilled with the day and hope sometime to get back to see the big boats in the water. I imagine that is quite a sight.

I hope you enjoy what I did get, which is at the end of the blog. I wasn’t entirely thrilled with my camera settings but it is a different experience than shooting nature so I will forgive myself this one time.

Hope you enjoy!

The thought that settled into my brain for this blog was along the lines of how sometimes we find ourselves with an opportunity to step outside of our comfort zone and experience something we normally wouldn’t.

We will often decide to stay within our own world and decline the opportunity based on some pre-disposition or bias. For example in this instance, I knew I would come across maga morons (and they were there in abundance) and be thrown into somewhat of a redneck world.

As the police officer told me earlier in my day, this was the rich end of the red-neck world where “boys with their toys” got to compare dick size to the deep roar of big engines and the thrills of an open sea.

On an intelligence level, I frown heavily on the mental acuity of such an activity, but allowing your brain to settle on that bias is both snobbish and self-defeating.

There is a lot to be enjoyed at events like these and just because we disagree with the politics or the culture, is not a good enough reason to forego it.

I loved every moment of the experience. When the Trump morons started I told them I was a staunch democrat and that talking politics wasn’t a good idea. When the country music blared loudly from the dumb pick-up truck with over-sized wheels, I just walked to a different part of the lot.

We don’t need to let our own bias and predispositions steal the joy from us to where we can only function in the reading room of the local library.

Stepping out of the box occasionally is a good decision. We find ourselves standing shoulder to shoulder with those on the other side. We smile along with people we otherwise deride and together (for a while at least) we get to share a common ground that seems so elusive these days.

Defining our world into factions that are black and white and always talking about the other side as being evil, is a symptom of a world that has been divided to our own detriment.

Do I wish I could have slapped some of them upside the head for their mindless beliefs? Yes. But most of them would have loved to do the same to me and felt justified in so doing. There were more of them than me anyway, lol, so that thought didn’t linger too long in my head.

I guess what I am trying to say here is that we shouldn’t spend every waking hour doing things that keep us in our comfort zone. Every now and then we should break bread with the plebs.

We might even find that we enjoy the taste of it!

… just a thought.

Opportunity Knocks

With Pete still here from England, I had the chance to go back out on a trail with him yesterday morning and with Inna’s extra eyes to help spot things us old fogies would miss, we were well set up for a good day of picture taking.

It turned out to be another fun trail and the early highlights were these amazing butterflies that were flitting around a bush that I spotted while waiting for them to arrive.

It was great fun trying to follow and catch focus and however long I ended up waiting felt like less than a minute.

Apart from all the wonderful birds we spotted along the way, we also caught a number of baby alligators and had the added joy of seeing one with a catch in his mouth that frankly looked too big for the little guy to swallow. I hope he was able to figure out a way to make a meal of it. He clutched to it as a sacred possession and when he deemed I was getting too close and might take it off him, he swam away.

The occasional cloud cover and the sun’s low angle proved to be the challenge to overcome but before I even get into how they formed the thought for today’s blog, take a peek here at one image I got around five in the morning as I drove over the home to let the cats out. It is hand-held and opportunistic in nature, but worth the view, I think.

Each glimpse of the moon seemed to only last a few seconds as clouds floated by, and most of the shots I took were awful. But this one came out cool, I thought.

Anyway, all the main images from the trail are at the end of the blog and I hope you enjoy!

So, the thought that occurred to me (hence this blog) really formed in my head towards the first part of the trail. We encountered a large number of turtles basking in the early morning sun and just to the right of where they sat, was a lovely alligator sprawled along a length of fallen log.

I wanted to take the shot but the position of the sun made everything so dark and when I tried to go up a path that would have allowed me to shoot from the other side, they had that section of the trail closed (some idiot was caught throwing things at a mommy gator as she watched over her young … I hate people sometimes). In any event, as I couldn’t get anywhere to take the shot, I realized that though on the outset it looked like an opportunity for a cool pic, it really wasn’t.

There were a few such instances later on where on first glance there seemed to be a shot available to take but in reality there was either no clear view or the sun was behind what I wanted to shoot.

Hence the thought that sometimes we think that opportunity is knocking and it genuinely isn’t. At least, not for us.

In real-life, such situations happen where it looks like we might have a chance to do something but due to other circumstances, we find ourselves unable to act.

For example, someone tells you about a super investment opportunity but at that moment you don’t have the funds.

I have written before about how we need to be able to take opportunities as they arise, but it is also very important to be able to walk away when the opportunity isn’t right for us at that moment in time.

Many will rue the opportunity missed and chastise themselves for ages afterwards. Others will try to take the opportunity and find themselves unable to deliver and they experience a real failure that sets them back a bit.

So really, it is all about timing and circumstance when it comes to opportunity. Just as being in the right place at the right time is important to recognize, so too is the wrong time important to understand. We need to be confident enough in our moment to be able to walk away and to do so without recrimination.

Life rarely presents just a single opportunity to us. The skill involved is recognizing which one is right for us when we are offered them.

… just a thought!


Pete has been visiting from England this week and Wednesday we set off together along the Lake Hancock trail at Circle B.

It was unusual to be on a trail in the middle of a work week and it proved to be a gorgeous morning to experience the peace and quiet that this Wednesday brought on the trail. We were slightly behind breakfast time, because the stupid clock had gone back and apparently wildlife hadn’t been informed of the change. So, most of the hunting and catching was over by the time we got there.

Part of me was quite relieved at that, as I have found that the initial excitement of seeing one of these marvelous hunters catch their food is quickly followed by a deep sympathy for the poor creature that has just become food for another.

I am fully conversant with the whole circle of life and I know that, other than by humans, almost all killing is being done in the name of survival and sustenance.

It is a logic that I really do understand; I just feel bad for those towards the bottom of the food chain.

So, Wednesday’s excursion felt quite different in that respect and while I still saw most of the usual suspects, none of them were involved in consuming another at the time. There was still a very slight chill in the air, so most of the cold-blooded creatures like Alligators and Turtles were absent from the trail, so our main trills came from watching the variety of feathered friends that graced the trees and waters around us.

I got some decent shots of many of them and even a couple of decent pics of a wayward Raccoon that was shuffling through the scrub at the side of the lake, trying to be inconspicuous.

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

In the meantime, the thought that formed the basis for this blog really began with the raccoon, and other creatures that partially hid behind obstacles like branches and leaves. These are the kind of obstacles that cause havoc with the camera’s autofocus and forced my hand into seeking manual focus remedies.

If it is a slow moving or stationary creature, I can generally capture a good manual focus with sharp results. For example, the Night Heron that was about a hundred feet away partially hidden behind the surrounding branches and foliage. Not only did I get some decent shots of him but I used the partially hidden perspective to my advantage by focusing purely on the eye and then making it seem that he was peering out while trying to be unseen.

But when it came to the raccoon, he kept moving and my speed of focus was dismal to the point where I took probably 15 different pictures but only three or four came out with a focus that I would accept.

The other real challenge was that the sun was still quite low in the sky and many of the creatures that we could see were taking up positions between us and the sun. Ideally you want the sun behind you and falling perfectly on the subject and this gives the most vibrant and clear image. But trying to maneuver into a position where we could get out from behind the creature was almost impossible as they were lakeside and we were getting lost in the trees and shrubs around them.

Don’t get me wrong, this didn’t take an iota from my enjoyment of the adventure but it certainly did make me work harder to get what I got. And that is ok. Hard work adds a gloss to every success we get along the way.

In this case, I am well versed in understanding my limitations in photography. I know things that I can do well and those I can’t and I am probably not likely to improve beyond the current skill level I am at between now and when I die.

But in the larger scheme of things, our limitations are often unknown to us. We try things that fail. We don’t try things that we could have succeeded at. We all like to imagine that we are the best at what we do. I am the best driver, the best worker, the best husband, etc.

When we are in our twenties we sometimes even lead ourselves into believing that we can almost walk on water. It gives us a self-belief that forms the basis of whatever career path we choose, whatever circles we move in, and whatever adventures we follow.

Some fools carry this illusion into their forties and fifties, and the extremely foolish into their sixties and seventies (think Trump, for example).

But most of us see the cracks in our veneer and realize that at the end of the day we are only human. We are flawed creatures and rarely the best at anything.

This is one of the main reasons that humility becomes a benchmark by which we can measure ourselves and others. Avoid those older folk that still have the jeezez-complex. Their delusions are dangerous.

In reality, limitations are a constructive part of our existence. Personal limitations often form the boundaries we live within our lives. While we may grow experience and skills that make us better performers along the way, our limitations are immovable. And that’s ok. We are not gods and wishes don’t come true. We are who we are and need to find our happiness within those boundaries.

Yes, there are limitations placed on us by others that also can limit our lives but those are different. For example, we may be living in a world that doesn’t allow a woman to attend school and therefore she remains to a large degree uneducated. But is that her limitation?

I think the bottom line in understanding limitations is understanding how to live with them. A continued struggle against them is the foundation for unhappiness and this is what we need to be careful of.

Dante was wrong when he wrote that the door to hell is inscribed with “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” That is the sign that exists over the door to life.

Because hoping beyond one’s limitations is truly a fool’s errand.

… just a thought.

Reflection – Deception

Being on the trail yesterday at mid-day was a rather unusual event for us. Historically, the trails are more enjoyable early morning because of temperature and people, but with the clock going back and a 25th hour of the day to play with, we decided what the hell.

The temperature was stunning anyway and we avoided the people as much as we could, deriding those that made noise and making directional decisions based on where the people weren’t.

That time of the day and the trail we ended up on, changed the mix of creatures and what they were doing as opposed to what I normally see first thing in the morning.

There was almost no hunting and eating and lots of resting and catching the rays. So, in other words, there were a lot of cold-blooded creatures out there. I can’t remember ever seeing more turtles in one day, for example. I thought they only came out on Tuesday (Turtle Tuesday lol). But they were there in abundance.

There was even the tiniest of turtles on display. I A little guy no bigger than a couple of inches. He deserved special mention so I am putting his image first here:

Not that there is anything wrong with putting images at the end of the blog; which is where the rest are! Enjoy.

Anyway, it was actually a couple of these images that gave me the specific thought that has dogged my mind and become the topic for today’s blog. You will see the gorgeous alligator lying full length on the log (hence reflection) and the jumping spider at the very end with the fake face on his abdomen (hence deception).

Over the years, I have been very big on the notion of self-reflection. It has been a mainstay in my approach to life. I believe it helps us grow as humans, where we draw from our past and improve ourselves along the journey.

If you don’t do it, then do. Take a moment and look at who you are and how you got here. Look at the things you have done and the people that have played a role in your life to date and try to get to the point where you know who you are and why you do what you do.

It is quite a liberating feeling.

But (isn’t there always a “but”?) be careful when you do this that you aren’t inherently unhappy with life at the moment. Deception can live in our memories and make the past seem better than the present and it can truly unravel us if we spend to much time comparing one to the other.

It is why I hate seeing pictures of our past. Photographs where everyone is smiling and the times look wonderful. Yet, we all know that chances are someone said “Smile” as the picture was taken and so these images are hardly an accurate representation of the lives we were living.

The problem with being inherently unhappy with our present is that we look for happiness elsewhere in our lives and so we become even more dissatisfied when we find it in our past and begin to long for the “good ol’ days”.

I have been stuck in a bad place for quite a while now and it has really hampered my ability to draw from the past where I wasn’t such a failure. Finding success in your past is hugely counterproductive to our sense of self-worth and when we find ourselves in a bad present, the place to look for success and happiness is actually in the future.

We need to find a path that we think might lead us onto more solid ground and happiness, and imagine ourselves in that moment. Give ourselves a feeling of happiness based on the person we might hope to be and not the person we once were.

This is how we establish a goal and a forward looking view that will ultimately point us in a better direction.

Happiness should never be just a memory.

… just a thought!