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Salvaging the spirit…

I have become a bah humbug sort of person. I don’t say that proudly, or lightly even. I grew up with a reverence for the day we celebrate the birth of Christ, and I loved making Christmas for my own kids through the years. Growing up in a big Italian family there were many treats to be had at Christmas that we didn’t see for the rest of the year. As the daughter of a fireman and a nurse I spent the major holidays at my aunt’s house, with my working parents coming and going, plus lots of relatives dropping in to visit. Special times that I couldn’t have appreciated at the time what treasured memories they would turn out to be. So when I got married and moved away I did my best to recreate the holidays I treasured. I made lasagna for Christmas dinner, something the family had switched over to some time in my preteen years when they decided that they were ITALIAN, for goodness sake, and weren’t going to duplicate the Thanksgiving dinner at Christmas anymore. I made the Italian cookies that are flavored with anise. I made strufoli, the tiny honey balls we only had at Christmas, and, when I could find it, I bought Torrone, a nougat candy that came in individual boxes that were exquisite little works of art in themselves. For many years Christmas was a wonderful time of year. But those days are long past, the kids are grown and gone, and even the grandchildren are grown. It feels like the media has taken over all aspects of life, including the holiday, and you can’t escape the pressure to be HAPPY, to spend more and more money. The meaning is lost, hence bah humbug.

With my bad attitude I have disappointed the new special person in my life who still treasures Christmas. Our first Christmas together and he didn’t expect my usual light-hearted self to just want to get this whole thing over with. We will visit his relatives for Christmas, and when a discussion of what to have for Christmas dinner came up my offer to make lasagna was accepted. That perked me up a little. It really warmed my heart when my daughter said that she is making lasagna for her crew too, and she is making strufoli for the first time in years! Now I will make strufoli too. I collected all my recipes yesterday, and my friend wanted to stop at the nice Italian deli near him, and I wondered out loud if I might find Torrone there. Boy, did I ever! Torrone in the little boxes. Torrone cut into wedges like a slice of layer cake, some topped with chocolate! Torrone packaged in the shape of Christmas trees! I stood there with my mouth open, and possibly drooling, as every where I turned I found Torrone. So, yes, I did find Torrone, and I think I might have found my Christmas spirit too.

The feature photo is a display of containers of strufoli, larger honey balls than the ones we used to make, but it made me happy to see my familiar treats. I wrote this post early yesterday, before a heart-warming (and tear-jerking) message from my daughter showed up online. I was already on my way to finding that elusive Christmas spirit, and now I’m happy to say that my strufoli is made, and my lasagna is coming together. So let me wish a Merry Christmas to all with a happy heart. And the new year? Well, there is always hope…

'scene' along the way, Amazing artwork, attention to detail, black and white, blessings, exploring new places, Florida landmarks, fun, Just do it, making memories, natural wonders, nature, on closer examination, perseverance, photography

Clyde Butcher…

Even though I had lived in Florida for eight or so years, I don’t think I became acquainted with the name Clyde Butcher, or his incredible photographs, until I joined my photo group four years ago. Florida Center for Creative Photography, which has taken over my life in a very good and welcome way. When I saw mentions of Clyde Butcher I think I nodded knowingly, to cover my uneducated rear end, and then looked at his wonderful images online. He has published books also, and he has a studio in Venice, Florida, which I am belatedly hoping to visit.

I took these pictures a couple of weeks ago, intending to write a post about them so that anyone who visits the area, (yes, you Maddie), might choose to stop in at the Clearwater Library to see these images for themselves. Though seeing his images online is wonderful, until you have stood next to an image that is taller than you are, or ones that are 9 feet long, you can’t begin to imagine how incredible they really are. And to see what he goes through to take the images and produce such amazing prints is just as incredible as the images themselves. When I took these pictures they looked great in the iPhone, it’s only now that I see all the reflections in them, but I hope it’s enough to whet the appetite to see them for yourself. Perhaps at his studio if you are in the area, or in the library in Clearwater. The display runs through May 2022.

'scene' along the way, a second look, birds, dogs, dolphins, Florida wildlife, fun, Hudson Beach, Just do it, making memories, moon, perseverance, photography, sky, sunset, unintended images

Photobombs…

Lately I seem to be way too willing to decide that I’ll just stay home, I won’t go out for the sunrise or sunset. There are too many dark clouds, I tell myself, or the morning is kind of foggy. Last night was no exception. I was driving up Rt 19 and there were heavy dark clouds to the north, but when I turned into my street and looked towards the west I saw blue sky and nice puffy clouds. So I told myself to go out to see what I could see. That turned out to be a wise, or rather, a lucky decision.

As usual the houses on the inlet had their faces turned to the sun.
The moon was looking pretty also.
The sunset itself was doing a great job of making me happy that I came out.
It was low tide, and the rocks were exposed off the walkway, but for some reason several dolphin decided that this was the night to put in a first ever, for me at least, appearance at Hudson Beach.
Back and forth they swam. And they leaped out of the water! I have seen dolphin here and there before, and I’ve always wished for them to breech, but this was the first time I ever had a chance to try to get a picture of them in action.
Of course I wish it was a ‘better’ picture, but I did manage to get one.
Actually two!
The man standing next to me had two big golden retrievers with him, and one of them was VERY interested in what was going on in the water out there.
Even a pelican couldn’t resist a photo bomb as the color reached a peak.

When I hear all the talk among my fellow photographers about the great new cameras and/or lenses that are coming out lately, I am, momentarily at least, tempted to buy better equipment. My stuff is considered adequate, for a beginner. But if I’m honest with myself I’m really not willing to concentrate enough to master the technicalities of setting the camera, or doing more than basic editing. ‘Better’ equipment would probably have required me to change my lens when the dolphin showed up last night, and if he stuck around long enough for me to do that then I probably would have gotten better pictures. So the temptation is there, but it’s fleeting. I appreciate the freedom my current set up gives me. When the mood strikes then out the door I go, and I’m ready for whatever happens next. That feels good…

adventure, attention to detail, butterflies, exploring new places, Florida landmarks, flowers, friends, fun, gardens, Just do it, making memories, nature, perseverance, photography

A new botanical garden…

If you spend enough time drinking coffee and talking about what to do that day you might find yourself thinking that it’s too late to do anything. Photography is better when you can take advantage of the softer light around sunrise and sunset, but this day we decided on a noon-time trip to the botanical garden at the University of South Florida. There was lots of pretty scenery, and welcome shade on this December day in Florida when the temperature reached 86.

A doorway to draw you in.
I just love the graceful branches of the live oaks we have here.
This particular trunk bent to touch the ground again before it rose toward the sky. At the base of the trunk a succulent garden has erupted.
This angle didn’t show that last tree the way I hoped it would. Possibly the plants are bromeliads.
I wonder what they feed their cows at USF?
“Study nature. Love nature. Stay close to Nature. It will never let you down.”
When I took this picture I thought I’d comment that no one was home. But seeing it in the computer has me seeing two eyes, a nose, and a great big yawn.
You never know who you’ll meet when you head out the door.
Angle Trumpets fascinate me.
I satisfied my curiosity about what the inside of the flower looks like by taking a ‘selfie’ of it.
This is my favorite from the orchid garden.
Hibiscus is always tempting to photograph.
Loved this pretty flower.
Not the best picture of this tiny white butterfly on an equally tiny white flower. But on closer examination I was amazed to see the the ‘eyes’ on the wings.
My current idea of a dream home is a little cottage on a lake. Maybe looking like one of these.
Blue sky, a shady path, and a lovely gazebo to call your name.
adventure, Amazing artwork, attention to detail, bucket list, exploring new places, fantasy images, Florida landmarks, friends, fun, Just do it, making memories, perseverance, photography, special effects, technology

The Immersive Van Gogh Experience…

I missed the opportunity to see this exhibit in Tampa, so when I saw that it was coming to Orlando I wasted no time snagging two tickets. This was months ago, and it turned out to be conveniently timed to be a birthday present for my friend. Upon arrival we were delighted to find easy parking close to the doors of the venue, and then we walked over a mile (round trip) to the actual location within the convention center. When we finally arrived I was disappointed to find ourselves standing in the room, with people between us and the displays on all four walls surrounding us. But, as you can see, in looking at my pictures it was the ones that included those people that I liked the most, to show the experience rather than trying to do justice to the artwork itself. In the feature photo you see the people sitting on a bench, enjoying the view. We eventually took over that bench, and I wonder if we are now front and center in other people’s photos. Thank goodness for the iPhone, 11 pro max, which I knew would handle the low light situation perfectly. What a fun experience.

Just as each scene came into full color the images would begin to dissolve into another beautiful scene.
You could look in any direction and be amazed at what you were seeing.
Phones were the preferred cameras of the day.
The scenes wrapped around the corners of the room. As the scenes changed I found myself a bit dizzy as the floor seemed to be moving. It was good to sit on the bench.
Of course, when I could I tried to fill my shot with the beautiful paintings.
Beautiful blossoms.
More endless hallways.
A little cottage, my dream house.
You can even see the brushstrokes in some of these images.
The final images.
'scene' along the way, a second look, adventure, Florida landmarks, friends, fun, Just do it, making memories, nature, perseverance, photography, weather

Up a lazy river…

Or maybe it was down a lazy river, but whichever way we were going there were lovely reflections, much to the delight of the assembled photographers at Hillsborough River State Park yesterday. It was all about the clear skies, cool temperatures, and light and shadows on the river. And surely all about the fun of gathering together for the first time in a long while. This is an example of a picture is worth 1,000 words.

Gnarly cypress knees were in the spotlight.
These are the rapids. Seriously, they are!
Okay, a wider view.
Such clear water.
There were lovely views up and down the river.
But the reflections especially were stunning.
Fall in Florida.
There was a rare sighting of our fearless leader Jeff, also.
Natural wonders.
This suspension bridge was built in 1934. It sways, but it’s holding it’s own.
We heard about an alligator up ahead, and he was there but facing away from us so I skipped talking a picture.
The last bridge of this modest walk of ours.

A very nice walk was followed by an equally nice lunch. What a fun way to spend a cool Florida morning…