They say that the third time’s a charm, and I wouldn’t argue with that. Three times I signed up to go to Tampa Bay Downs with the photo group, and twice something came up and I had to cancel. But not yesterday, and for that I’m grateful. Not only was it a great day weather-wise, but I really enjoyed the friendly group that gathered to watch, and photograph, the races. We had several press passes to share amongst us, and those passes allowed us each to have a turn at taking photos from the inside rail. It quickly became apparent to me what an advantage that really was. All the useable racing photos that I got yesterday were taken while I was having my turn at the inside rail. And they were taken after talking with the other group members and adjusting my camera settings accordingly. I would have loved to have stayed longer but I was feeling sorry for the dogs back at home, and had an hour’s drive ahead of me…And, of course, I walked in the door and they looked at me as if to say, “Oh, are you home already?”
I suppose there are endless ‘what if’ scenarios I could play out in my head, especially at 69 years old. Lots of water under the bridge, over the dam, forks in the road, and many more cliche phrases apply. But there is something about being alone at this stage of life that has me thinking, wondering, about the person I was ‘supposed’ to be. How did I spend so many years ‘under the influence’ so to speak? I was a spunky little kid. My cousin and I once decided to go for a walk, and set off, a 5 and a 4 year old, having an adventure. We were spotted by a woman who I think chatted with us as we passed her chain-link fenced yard. The next thing I knew there was a policeman on the scene, asking us who we were and where we were going. My cousin must have been much more polite than I was because she told the policeman everything he wanted to know. Not me though. I was mad. I wasn’t lost, and I certainly wasn’t finished having my adventure, so I wouldn’t tell him a thing. But since I lived upstairs from my cousin that was a bit of a moot point. I don’t remember the upshot, what my parents had to say about it, I only remember the woman, the fence, and how mad I was.
I just love that little kid that I was. But I have to wonder, when did I lose her? How did I let her go and never notice that I had done just that? That memory, and there are more from when I lived in that house and was that spunky kid, all date back to before I went to school. Is that when I started worrying about what other people thought, and doubting myself? By the time I hit high school I was quite sure that I didn’t measure up in any way, and spent most of my mental energy on trying to make sure that no one else knew just how out of it I was. I never expressed an opinion, practiced a go-with-the-flow attitude, got married young to hide from the bra-burning women’s libbers who seemed to be saying that I shouldn’t want a marriage and family, which is exactly what I told myself that I wanted, mostly because I thought of it as ‘safe’. Don’t misunderstand, I really was happy, found myself living all over the country and thought that was quite the thing. Enjoyed the heck out of raising my kids, and appreciated the accomplishment of raising them to be the people I’d hoped they’d be. And at work with Charley I had a position of authority that I enjoyed, but I also was aware that I hadn’t earned it as much as I had married into it. It wasn’t a bad life at all, so why am I so unsettled now?
I am an old lady who, now that I am alone for the first time since I was very young, finds myself relating more to the little kid that I was than to all the years in between. No one hijacked my life, I willingly participated. But now what? If you thought that I was going to wind this up with some sort of brilliant conclusion you’d be wrong. All I do know is that I have a vague notion of heading ‘home’ this summer, back to the people and places that I find myself thinking of so fondly. Back to where I was a spunky little kid with my whole life ahead of me…
What if they gave a photo meet-up and nobody came? I knew that cancellation was a possibility, but the clouds didn’t obscure the blue sky enough for me to worry about it as I left the house with 2 hours to spare. As I stood at the ferry landing looking for other people weighted down with photo equipment I checked my email and found the notification that it was cancelled. For a brief moment I considered heading home, but then I kicked myself in the butt and told myself to get on the ferry. Not only that, but I decided to ride the sunset cruise rather than stand on the beach by myself, and that was a good choice. I made two new friends, Rhonda and Art, and we had fun taking photos and pointing out photo ops to each other. I showed Art how to set the focus and exposure in his iPhone, and he showed me some editing tricks that I hadn’t discovered. We toasted the sunset with champaign, compliments of the cruise! Rhonda said it tasted like ginger ale, which it did, and later I discovered that my horizon line was off in most of my photos, but I can’t blame the alcohol for that. I’ll blame the boat, rocking on the water. It was a lovely evening…
After two cold, rainy, and entirely dreary days, it was almost startling to see some blue sky that afternoon, but still lots of clouds. Clouds that just might be lit up by the sunset. I hadn’t been out for the sunset at Pine Island in quite a few days, so off I went. I complained when the wind wasn’t there the other day, and the no-see-ums were there, well, the wind was back, in spades. The clouds had been blown almost entirely away and the seagulls kept taking to the air, and flying nowhere. They couldn’t make headway against that wind.
And that wind, well, the seagulls weren’t the only ones who struggled with it. Don’t I always say that Pine Island never disappoints? That the people I meet are just as important to me as the sunsets? Well, we can now add elves to that list, or, one elf at least. His name is Widget, and he had quite the tale to tell…
It seems he had been chosen by Santa for a very special mission, one that had taken him to Hawaii. It was hard work training those elf recruits, so before he left Hawaii he earned a chance to relax on the beach…
But then a huge gust of wind blew across the beach, and Widget found himself flying through the sky. All he could see were all the seagulls who were also being blown in the wind with him. He was flying and flying, and he was very scared, but mostly because he didn’t know if he would ever see his boy Jonah again. He just wanted to go home.
There were hardly any people on Pine Island on that cold and windy evening. But lucky for him Jonah’s mommy was one of the people there on the beach, and we all saw him as he flew through the air, and landed with a thud, and we ran to see if he was okay. He didn’t care that he was cold, or that he was covered with sand, he said he just wanted to go home. And then he smiled…
In the interests of finding new and different places for photo ops, plus my social life could use a kick in the pants, I joined a big group of photographers for a shoot last night at Safety Harbor. Drove through a very cute town with shops I would have loved to have had time to explore, maybe I’ll do that next time. Actually we were having fun exploring and photographing birds, enough so that we very nearly missed the sunset all together.
An immature Black Crowned Night Heron, was a new bird to me. Merlin says that the white tips on the feathers are what tells you it’s not a mature bird. He posed like a champ. As did the Downey Woodpecker, and there were lots of pelicans swimming alongside the pier.
But we did turn our attention to the sunset in time to catch some pretty color in the sky.
Even the walk past the boats in the marina on the way back to my car had me stopping for another couple of shots.
But the real adventure came on the way home. One of the group officials had suggested that I take a right out of the parking lot to avoid most of the congestion in the area on the way home, and he told me what street to take. But I was still unsure so I asked my pal Siri to “direct me home”. I always forget that when you do that you get a very close up map with the route highlighted in blue, but you can’t see even your next move coming up. Or where you are or where you are going, just that blue line glowing in the dark. And the road she had me on kept snaking to the right and the left, and reversing itself so that it seemed like you were going the wrong way. I began to wonder who’s house she was taking me to, but, as always, she got me to the Suncoast Parkway and it was fine from then on. All in all a fun adventure…
Have you been on Google Earth lately? Or ever? I went looking for that application on the computer so that I could look up my grandfather’s house for a blog post, and gone was the blue marble ikon I was looking for. I thought I’d somehow deleted the application, but no, it was there, now titled Google Earth Pro, with a gray and white ikon.
The ikon might be less colorful, but I was astounded at what I found when I typed in the address I was looking for. I was essentially a drone, flying over a very clear town, and zooming in so that I was standing in front of the house! A beautiful, full color, photograph of the house that, in this case, was well past it’s prime. And yes, it took a little maneuvering, and while you are ‘walking’ yourself to the actual address you just might make yourself a little sea sick, but so worth it. Maybe not if you are trying to hide, or on the ‘lam’, but for nosy people like me it was great! Just this morning I visited the Vatican, the Acropolis, and the school where my granddaughter teaches in Bucharest. In the more famous places there are many, many photo links to click on to see the photos that other people have taken in that place and posted on the internet.
And then it hit me while I was at work today! The Grand Canyon! What better place to fly over! Or down into. I’m thinking it has to be like wearing one of those flying squirrel suits and zooming on the air currents… from the comfort of my recliner of course. The tool bar at the top of the screen seems to allow you to save images, or record your ‘tour’. As I zoomed I stopped and took quick photos of my computer screen for you to see. And kept the tools in the photos on purpose so you’ll know what the screen looks like if you decide to fly there, or anywhere else, for yourself and check it out. It really is a small world these days.