chickens, fences, flowers, friends, gardens, neighbors, on closer examination, photography, sunrise, unintended consequences, weather

And it kept on raining…

Looking out the kitchen window that morning I saw some definition in the clouds, so I loaded the cameras and tripods into the car and headed to Hammonds Creek for the sunrise.  It’s only a five or six mile trip to the gulf coast, but before I got there I was seeing drops on the windshield.  Just heavy mist, I told myself.  But it was a downpour just a minute later, so I turned the car around and headed for home.  No sooner did I do that than I saw a promising looking sky again, and no rain.  Again I reversed direction, and again I drove into a torrential downpour.  And yet again the weather was fine on the way home.  Sometimes you have to settle for a sunrise from the backyard.

Also in the back yard are flowers that I was offered by a neighbor I used to talk with when I walked Zoe a longer walk than I had for the last couple of years.  She was digging up some of them because they spread.  You would think that I might have gotten a hint from that, the possibility that one day I’d be trying to get rid of them I mean.  But no, what I saw was red, sort of tubular flowers, and I had read that that’s what will attract hummingbirds.  So on the barest smidgeon of information I brought them home and planted them, and within years I was digging them up, but there is no getting rid of them.  They have made themselves so at home that they have diversified…6-2threepinkfeature5-29white5-29whiteandpink5-29pinkandwhite5-29yellow

But only the ones way out back have these new colors.  Out back in chicken territory.  My neighbor laughed when I suggested that her chickens were responsible, a chicken version of cross-pollination.  Or maybe it’s the morning light back there.  But it has taken several years for these new colors to develop, which coincides with the chicken invasion.  I’m not complaining though, the chickens come over and de-bug my yard fairly regularly.  They are welcome any time!

dogs, home, photography, unintended consequences

It was that kind of day…

I know the sunrise happened because it got lighter out, but it never got prettier.  And when I got home it was no better.3-18sunrise2So I decided to make some oatmeal.  I had added a chopped up apple to my steel cut oats one day, and that was good, but the next day I added a ‘halo’ and milk and that was even better.  Orange creamsicle oatmeal!  That’s what I thought I’d do again when I discovered the milk had expired, but in the true waste-not want-not New England tradition I didn’t let that stop me.3-18orangecreamsicleEven the dogs seemed to just go into low gear, not pestering me to go out multiple times all day.  3-18sleepyBut even lazing around for an entire day can get boring, so by the late afternoon the sun was out, and it seemed like we should be outside also.3-18shadowsWalk the dogs and go out for the sunset I told myself.  Maybe even stop at Chili’s and sit at the bar and have some Southwestern Egg Rolls.  We were almost home, just up around the bend when it all went sideways.  I heard a screen door bang, and first one, then a second pit bull charged out of a house and were bearing down on us, sounding like they meant business.  So what did I do?  I dropped Zoe’s leash on purpose, and I now feel guilty about that, like I was offering her up as a sacrifice.  But in reality I knew she wouldn’t escalate the situation.  It was Ozzie’s reaction that I feared was going to make things infinitely worse, so I hung onto him with both hands.  The first dog had gotten to Zoe when the owners were on the scene, screaming at the dogs and adding to the chaos, but the dogs appeared to be listening to them.  I have no idea what Ozzie and Zoe did in response because I couldn’t take my eyes off of those two dogs.  Low to the ground and very muscular, I just knew how strong they looked.  As the owners herded the dogs back home, apologizing all the while, I realized that we three had not moved one muscle during all of this. Even Ozzie.  We had stood there in silence, like statues, the whole while.  Then they both looked at me and what popped into my head was the old Lone Ranger shows where the townsfolk would look at each other and ask, ‘”Who was that masked man?”  We went home and put on pajamas, well, I did, and cracked open a beer, me again, and that was it for us.  It was that kind of day.

adventure, childhood, coping, courage, finding my way, life, life goes on, loneliness, memories, photography, unintended consequences

Rolling back the clock…

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…spunky.jpg

backyard visitors, dogs, fences, friends, home, home improvements, live and learn, neighbors, on closer examination, photography, squirrels, unintended consequences

Good fences…

If good fences make good neighbors then how is it that I just love my neighbors on both sides, one on the side without a fence, and the other with whom I shared a length of fence that my uncle remarked was more holes than fence?  He was right, it was pretty hole-y.  But my neighbor’s entire yard was surrounded by fence that was long past it’s prime, and so when some used fencing came her way she started patching the worst areas.  Which gave me an idea, a true light bulb moment.  Since they were putting up fencing anyhow, how about I buy new fencing for the section that we share, and they put it up.  I really am a genius sometimes, ask Ozzie if you don’t believe me.

I wish I had thought to take a picture when it was nice and clean.  Already it has acquired a coating of sand where the grass hasn’t filled in.  Or the chickens flung sand at it, they’ve been visiting lately.  I certainly admired it… at first.  But I’m over the novelty of it and now it just looks… boring.  There used to be more to look at.2-10fencetextureI went looking through my photos to see if the fence showed up in any of them.  I took this picture because I was trying to take photos of the wood texture.  You see it was a bit see-through.  Zoe liked that aspect of it because she could keep an eye on what was going on over there in case she was missing something.2-10fencesquirrelThe squirrels took to the top of the fence whenever Zoe came zooming out the back door.  Chasing them is her favorite thing to do.  Ozzie, not so much.2-10fencesquirrel2I was able to capture this image because that squirrel likes having his picture taken.  I’d see birds sitting there also, but they weren’t as cooperative so I don’t have a photo of them.  Not that I didn’t try.2-10fencedieselThen there is Diesel.  He has a girlfriend a few blocks away, and he discovered that those boards didn’t really offer much resistance, so every so often he’d make a break for it and they’d have to hunt him down.  Now they know where to look for him however.

So, a new fence.  A home improvement.  Charley was a coin collector, old, rare coins, and patients would bring their old coins in for him to see in hopes they would have a rare one worth lots of money.  He’d tell them whatever they did, don’t clean them.  The color that develops on the old coins is called toning, and the coins are more valuable if the toning isn’t disturbed.  It didn’t matter, they always cleaned the coins.  One did it with a pencil eraser.  Maybe he thought Charley wouldn’t notice.  I never understood the value of the toning, I just took Charley’s word for it.  But it has occurred to me that that’s what is missing from the new fence.  Toning!  A little something extra to look at…

food, perseverance, photography, technology, the easy way out, unintended consequences

Food for thought…

Grapes, I can’t get enough of them lately. I don’t know it the same thing applies everywhere, but the grapes I’m buying here in Florida lately are really good. I mean really, really good. So I crave them, and I’m sitting here realizing that this craving is exactly like craving candy or ice cream, or any other ‘sweet’ that I shouldn’t eat. But grapes? It’s fruit for gosh sake, how bad can it be? And considering that this obsession has been going on for a while, what is the equivalent amount of wine that my grape consumption represents? Wine ‘on the hoof’, so to speak. So far I haven’t had to resort to anything illegal to fund my grape habit, but with my reduced hours of work per week who knows how long that will last. I did eat $10 worth in one day, which I only know because I bought them and finished them all in one day. If the 24 hour period spans two days it really doesn’t seem that extreme.

Aside from grapes I do ponder what to eat, but not because I’m craving carbs or anything like that. I just don’t know what to eat, mostly because my diet instruction came second hand from an acquaintance who said that his PA daughter said, “Don’t drink your calories.” Okay, that’s easy, I thought, even though I don’t think that coffee was an approved drink, but no one gets between me and my coffee. Then I asked okay, what do you eat, he shrugged and said “a lot of salad”. I realize now that the reason this all worked for me is because I said to myself, ‘Self, you like salad. And water, easy peasy”! And it was. Had I said to myself that I wasn’t going to ever eat a piece of bread again it would have been harder. A lot harder! By the time that thought crossed my mind I had seen results, and I have no real desire to change anything. So I’ll pull up my big girl pants, which are now held in place by a belt so there is no worry about what unintended consequence putting my phone in my back pocket might cause. You gotta do what you gotta do!1-13groceries.jpgI went grocery shopping today.  This is the mainstay of my diet lately.  I could have added a jar of peanut butter which I spread on the celery, and a can or two of Progresso soup.  I don’t eat much processed food, but this chilly weather has made a nice bowl of soup a must here and there.1-11truthinadvertisingDid I say that I don’t do processed food much at all?  When I do make an exception it usually turns out like this.  I have a little glass pyrex bowl, but even if I had transferred this meal into that bowl it wouldn’t have looked like the illustration.  It tasted okay, and was on sale, and dinner in 8 minutes was too much to resist…

 

birds, Florida wildlife, natural wonders, old dogs new tricks, perseverance, photography, unintended consequences

In search of…

A Roseate Spoonbill… which had been at the top of the list of birds I’ve wanted to see ever since I saw a photo of one on the Florida Birds Facebook page.  So Saturday it was off to Circle B Bar Reserve, where I had heard that my chances of seeing a Roseate Spoonbill were pretty good.  And I did see them, a glimpse of pink through the thick shrubbery lining the trail.  Getting a good view of them was a challenge, let alone a clear photo.  Plus they themselves were mainly hunkered down in the tall grass and not very active in the cold.  Except for one cooperative fella.

1-7roseatespoonbill3 copy1-7roseatespoonbill2 copy1-7roseatespoonbill copy1-7roseatespoonbill4 copy

Immature birds have white feathered heads and paler plumage.  They feed by wading and swinging that spoon-shaped bill back and forth in the water to feed on small fish and crustaceans that are ignored by larger wading birds.

At first I was mainly interested in trying to get better photos than I thought I could take.  This interest in birds is an unintended consequence since birds are such a plentiful and interesting subject for photography.  I’m learning a lot.