The area occupied by Circle B Bar Reserve was once a cattle farm. It was purchased through an environmental lands acquisition referendum and the land is now home to many birds and other wildlife. Once I had spotted the Roseate Spoonbills the bird that would have been at the top of my list to see after that would have been owls. Except I saw these Barred owls before I saw the spoonbills. Where to see them was pointed out to me as soon as I got there, and I knew that at least one of my wishes for the day had come true already. But in addition we have the Anhinga, one of which passed though my backyard today, stopping for a moment on the post usually occupied by the little blue heron… The Limpkin, which I’m told eats apple snails…The Red-sholdered Hawk, another of my backyard visitors …The Green Heron, another new bird to me…The Great Egret, not an uncommon bird to see but always so pretty…As you can see, it was a great day. I’ll be heading back again, but I’ll be happy to go when it’s a little warmer than Saturday was. It warmed up nicely though, but not until it was time for me to leave.
I spent the last six months obsessed with cranes, we’ve established that. Probably because that’s what I’d see out my kitchen window every day. Who wouldn’t go outside to watch tiny crane chicks right in their own backyard? For whatever reason the cranes have moved on at the moment, but what I am seeing every time I look out the window is butterflies flitting around the plumbago out there. I can’t resist going out with my iPhone and practicing what I learned in the iPhonephotographyschool.com. I still use my iPhone a lot even though I have also invested in a DSLR. Having your phone in your pocket is the photography equivalent of being a quick draw in the old west!
As much as I loved my phone and have had an iPhone ever since I stood in line with the rest of the crazy people on the day they released the first version, I didn’t know how to use the camera to it’s full potential at all. Which came as a bit of a surprise since I got some really great photos with it in spite of not knowing what I was doing. Then I saw a list of iPhone photography tips from the iPhonephotographyschool, and I didn’t know a single one of them. I was hooked! One was that you can set the focus by tapping the screen where you want to focus and holding it a second so it locks. This made a huge difference when I was standing in the backyard trying to get my photos to reflect the color of the sunrise that was right in front of me. When I set the focus on the red color in the sky it worked perfectly.
For the butterflies photos I locked the focus on a flower from about 4 feet away, and now I could chase butterflies around and when I got them in the 4 foot or so range I could hold down the shutter button taking ‘bursts’ of photos. The theory is that even though you’ll get a lot of photos to toss, your chances of getting a few that are in perfect focus will be much higher doing it that way. It applies anytime you are trying to photograph kids, or pets, or any moving subject. I never take iPhone photos without setting the focus, it has become second nature. I also take bursts with my DSLR, and I’ve gotten some good butterfly photos with that too, but it takes a cooperative butterfly that will hold a pose a second.
As long as I passed the lock focus tip along let me also mention that after you lock the focus you’ll see a little sun symbol right beside the focus ‘box’. Slide your finger up or down anywhere on the screen and it will adjust the exposure. Try that with a sunrise or sunset photo and you’ll be hooked too!
In my younger years one of my big fears in life was that I would wake up in the night, because I’d never get back to sleep. It was our dental office that would keep me awake. I’d ask myself if I had called that patient back, or followed up on that insurance claim for a patient, or, worse, did I call in that prescription? Legitimate concerns to stress over even if you can’t do anything about them in the middle of the night.
Now I’m retired with no stress, but what keeps me up is HGTV. Not watching it in the middle of the night, but thinking about how much I want to smack those 20-something gals who are shopping for McMansions and whining over their dream house with their dream kitchen. Really, their dream anything? How long have they been dreaming anyhow? Is it me, or is it my generation, but I too have spent lots of hours dreaming of dream kitchens and dream houses. But I always knew they were dreams. Keep being a good girl and living up to your responsibilities and maybe then you’d have earned it, was how I thought it worked.
Or was endlessly dreaming about these things actually the whole point? Because my dream house has evolved with the times, so much so that the tiny house movement seems to make a lot of sense to me these days. My little kitchen functions well enough for me, and my recliner is where I always sit, and I sleep in the same sliver of my king-sized bed that I always did even when I wasn’t alone. How much of this house do I actually use? I know that it was at least 15 years ago that the idea of retiring to FL became yet another dream, and suddenly all the things that I had lusted over and eventually accumulated seemed as if they were weighing me down. So much of what I owned meant nothing to me. We downsized to this house, I thought, but it still is bigger than I need. Downsizing is ‘in’ right now, but I think that my leaning in that direction started before the media blitz. But the blitz is on and now in addition to the whining about the granite being the ‘wrong color’, I get to hear the house hunters on Tiny Houses complaining that there is no place to put their clothes, or where would the kids sleep? Really people? Your house will stay tiny but your kids won’t, what are you thinking looking at tiny houses with kids in tow? They are driving me crazy. But a tiny house for me, now that might make sense, if I get rid of all my junk and put the dogs on a diet…
It was my birthday yesterday and I got notifications from Facebook of ‘on this day’ posts I made on my birthday over the years.
My dear sister-in-law made this card for me in 2012. These are the men who were also born in 1948, still applies five years later I suppose.
In 2014 I posted this;
Well folks, it wasn’t the birthday of my dreams. I had to call 911 for Charley again, and this time he was admitted to Oak Hill Hospital. He has internal bleeding so they are going to give him some blood tonight and we’ll see what tomorrow brings. That’s all I know really, and I’m so tired I can’t see straight which is why I’m letting Facebook do my talking tonight. That poor guy has felt like crap for way too long. But that won’t get him off the hook, he’ll owe me a big time birthday celebration next year…
We had no idea that the immune system issues in play would be fatal, but he was gone in just two months. I made a plan that I would bring his ashes to the family plot in Baltimore the next summer, and it happened to coincide with my birthday. It was good to settle him there.
In 2015 I posted this;
One year ago today, on my birthday, I called 911 for Charley. I remember saying that it wasn’t the birthday I’d had in mind, but that I’d get him to make it up to me on my next birthday. Well, it’s that next birthday, and I’m about to head down 95 with all my unfinished business now finished, and the road ahead a blank slate. Not exactly the trip to Key West that I had in mind when I wrote that post, but I feel as if this is a turning point for me. It’s all up to me now, to make my life whatever I want it to be. I feel confident about the future, and part of is because you’ve all let me work this out by stumbling through it all on Facebook. Thank you everyone, your support has meant so much to me. One more day among family and then it’s me and the dogs, headed for home.
This year I have had my closest friend here, and we did something yesterday that was a first for both of us. We had driven to the beach and our intent was to wade in the water a little, and shop, and possibly grab a snack at a beach restaurant. But the water was calling us, and even though we weren’t prepared we went swimming. In our clothes, no skinny dipping for us. Could that be an example of making my life what I want it to be, letting go and doing what I want instead of what I’m supposed to do? Or just a couple of old friends letting loose and enjoying our last year of being in our 60s?
One of my visitor’s long time bucket list items has been to go kayaking. Rotator cuff issues had kept us from attempting this on her previous visits, but we were a go for yesterday. We got to the Kayak Shack early as an attempt to avoid the worst of the heat of the day, and the unintended consequence of that was that we had the river to ourselves for the first couple of hours we were out there. That was a good thing since I was the experienced kayaker with three previous kayak trips under my belt, and she had never been in a kayak before. But we got the hang of it and paddled for 2 1/2 hours against the incoming current, passing by houses with docks and decks overlooking the water. I thought how lovely it would be to sit out at the river’s edge and watch the manatees swim past. We also paddled through areas that were completely natural, and marveled at the crystal clear water. Which is only a foot or so deep in a lot of areas. Which explains the instruction that was given to us that if we tip over ‘just stand up’. As the day went on we saw more and more kayaks, and paddle boards, and people of all ages, and even boats with motors, which is when our inexperience at maneuvering our two person kayak really showed. But everyone was unfailingly friendly and it was a truly perfect day, especially when we saw several manatees as we headed back. And the trip back, with the current, only took a little over an hour!
Some expected, and unexpected, ‘wildlife’…
And while many people had pulled their kayaks over to swim, and kids swung on rope swings, we didn’t stick a toe out of the kayak after seeing this…
We hope to do this again while she is here, but my friend says that next time she wants her own kayak! Now that she’s a pro like me…