Sunday, July 27, 2008


The year 2003 began for me a time of personal epiphanies as I rediscovered passions required for truly Living my life. Years of marriage and raising a child had sort of sucked the "me" out of me. I love my family, but it became clear that the person my husband married had disappeared under the daily slog of errands, school stuff, kid stuff, housework, yard work, work work and everything in between. I became someone else entirely. Frankly, I wasn't real crazy about myself and was inwardly sort of miserable. I couldn't put my finger on it, really. Good marriage, living on a lake, great daughters, good dog, trusty Subaru, great family and in-laws. All that was missing was the picket fence. But there was something missing in my life.
One day the summer of 2003 I read something on-line about a new CD coming out by an artist I had loved long ago. Oh, wow....I remember that guy. His music always spoke to me. The moment it hit the shelves my money hit the counter and I ran to my trusty Subaru to give it a listen. It's damned hard to get all that cellophane and stickers and whatnot off a new CD - have you noticed? Good grief. My hands were shaking from effort and excitement. Finally, the hermetically sealed CD was free from encumbrances and excitedly popped into the CD player, which I wasn't sure even worked since I'd never used it.
Slowly and exquisitely a complex, deep, luscious sound began to roll out of the speakers. I swear it swam down my ears and into my bloodstream and my heart began to pound with the beat. Sting's clear, distinctive voice bathed my soul like a soft, warm bath. "Inside the wounded hide their scars...." Oh, my God, I'm awake now. It's hard to describe, but it was as if every cell in my body began to vibrate with an intensity not felt in over a decade. Music, the beat, the complexity, the chords, the harmonies, the lyrics, the meaning, the sheer artistic nature of the beast drew me in like a lover's hug.
...all the days of my life I will walk with you,
...all the days of my life I will talk with you,
...all the days of my life I will share with you,
...all the days of my life I will bear with you...
I knew then without a doubt that music had been absent. Since marriage, husband and child the only piped in sounds came from Barney, Winnie the Pooh, Disney, CNN, History Channel and all manner of television channels. No music. Not my music. No symphonies, no rock & roll, no R&B, Sting.
I grew up with the Beatles music constantly surrounding me. Beatles, Hendrix, James Taylor (the ORIGINAL JT, thank you very much), Cream, Clapton, The Who, etc., etc., (I'm dating myself but oh well) They were the soundtrack of my life. Music was my Oz, my escape, my passion. The first time I heard The Beatles on the radio I was like Dorothy stepping outside her black and white world into a world of color and life and music and singing. This CD - Sacred Love - shook my shoulders and said "WAKE UP!" And I did! That was a defining moment - October 2003 - the parking lot of Best Buy with Sting's Sacred Love CD. From that point on I began buying music and more music and more music. I had a lot of catching up to do.

Today, my CD cabinet is filled and my iPod is my best friend. Music brought me back out into the light. I dance now - all by myself, but dance I do. And I sing - all by myself in the car with the music blaring - and I bob my head to the beat and enjoy every road trip. The reintroduction of music into my daily life reawakened other passions - photography, art, learning, writing, nature, God, everything. Everything. My family is blithely amused, but I think they enjoy me much more now. My artistic self has been released due to exposure to music generated by all manner of artists. Life is beautiful and I am "me" again.
Why did I allow my life to become mundane? True, I had obligations like everyone else but I'd forgotten to include ME in the day-to-day. Since the day of reawakening I learned that I have to exercise my passions daily just like I exercise my body. The discovery for me was that yes, I can live without music, photography, art, culture, writing, hiking, birdwatching and all my personal passions....but why? Without music I'm a shadow, a wraith, some invisible being that simply and quietly floats from place to place in grim fashion. With music, I'm a bopping, singing, dancing, artistic wild child. I much prefer the latter me.
Anyway, thanks Sting for helping me remember who I am, who I've always been.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Baylee Update

Baylee has been very touched by all the well-wishes and concerns of my blogger buddies. She granted me one photo opportunity this morning before our short walk so that you guys can take a gander at her new bootie. In the beginning, we'd decided not to spend the $20+ for a bootie. However, after paying for bandaging that wouldn't stay put and could only be used once, etc., we did the math and realized we were better off with a sturdy shoe that could be reused daily and can be washed.
Look at all the Baylee hair on the carpet!
The Thera-Paw bootie was recommended by our veterinarian at the get-go when he saw the horrendous injury to the paw pad of her right hind foot. A quick recap - Baylee sliced about a half-dollar size chunk off her largest paw pad somehow during one of our morning walks. A real trooper she never yelped, never favored the paw, and still doesn't whimper during treatments. She is SO good about everything. She will lay down and raise her foot for me so that I can put on her bootie. She lays still while I apply the antibiotic cream. Then, I sit and pet her for 20 minutes so she can't lick it and the medicine can penetrate into her skin. No inverted lampshade needed, thank you.

And now a word from our sponsor. Okay...just kidding...they're not sponsoring anything and have no clue that I'm bragging on their product. Thera-Paw offers various products for injured dogs, from the Thera-Paw bootie above to sports wraps and slippers and a variety of rehabilitative products for dogs. I encourage anyone with a pup who needs help to check out their products. I'm very impressed with the construction and durability of Baylee's Thera-Paw bootie. With it she has enjoyed increased freedom and mobility while her paw is completely protected from sharp objects and bacteria. She is healing much faster and is a happy pup. A happy pup makes momma happy, too.

Daughter Kayla and Baylee sometime last year

I anticipate we'll be back on our morning walks by autumn, which will be much nicer for both of us anyway. Thanks for all your concerns about Baylee. We're both feeling the love!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Photo Swap

Diane with Alberta Postcards encouraged me to join the Scent of Water Photo Swap group on flickr. The July assignment - "In Motion."

My challenge to myself was to do something completely different. Shake up the anal photographer within me and come up with a unique perspective to a favorite subject - butterflies.

Usually, my goal is for crisp close-ups where every hair can be seen, every color illuminated perfectly. Neat lines and an intimate portrait of feeding or resting or mating. I must have well over a thousand - probably more - of nearly every variety of butterfly and the images all look pretty much the same.

As you can see, these captures are completely different. They were made lying down on the sidewalk with my camera, zoom lens attached. Various shutter speeds, apertures and ISO's were used on every shot. Because of the low angle, the background is normally sky or some of the granite boulders located within the garden. For the photo buffs among us the photo above was shot at 1/3 second at a focal length of 400 mm, ISO 200, F/40. The only Photoshopping at all was to clone out those dang dust spots. My sensor needs cleaning in the worst way.

The first 50 or so shots were experimental and pretty horrid. However, after awhile I forgot myself and simply got into the rhythm of shooting, adjusting, shooting, adjusting, shooting, and simply had fun with the process. Discovering the treasures captured was the payoff. There are a few more on my flickr account, to which you can view on the right hand column.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life. And everyone deserves a little sunshine."
Jeffrey Glassberg
Summer always jazzes up the neighborhood with holiday cookouts, impromptu sunset gatherings, folks gardening and doing home maintenance. The business of summer is everywhere. People flitting about to and fro making hay while the sun shines as the birds and bees and butterflies do the same in similar fashion. Walking outside I'm always entertained by some activity. If it isn't a neighbor trundling by in their golf cart, hoards of kids hanging off heading for the pool, then it's the kaleidoscope of active colors in my gardens. The lantana is getting large now and is attracting butterflies and bees and hummingbird months. The Tiger Swallowtails always show up first, and we always see spring Monarchs. The Black Swallowtails are in abundance now, and I'm beginning to spot Buckeyes and Painted Ladies. Soon, the Giant Swallowtails should be here. Actually, I think most of the butterflies are in abundance now, but not in my garden. I need to plant some early spring flowers to attract them even earlier. Butterflies are my favorite Winged Wonders.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Miracle

July 1st and the Red-Headed Woodpeckers are in abundance during late afternoon. Flying from tree to tree making all manner of raucous noises - if you've ever heard a RHW the call is unmistakable and loud.

I decided to take a few shots of the happy couple, who are back at work in the usual dead limb now that the Flycatchers have moved on. After just a few shots I forget all about them, go inside and prepare dinner. The weekend progressed, holiday parties ensued, visitors came and went and this morning I'm finally downloading the week's photos. Some are good, some are bad, some go here and some go there. I'm hoping for a few good RHW shots, maybe. There's only one of the mom and dad together so I open it in Photoshop on my good wide-screen monitor. Wait...there are more than two birds on that limb.'s the baby. By a miracle, I got the three together and didn't even know it until today.

Meet the Wheeler Lake Red-Headed Woodpecker family - dad, mom and junior.

Friday, July 4, 2008

My Good Dog

Baylee and I walk every morning. Well, most mornings. Rising at 5am, give or take, I snap the leash on her, grab a couple of clean-up bags and off we go into the pre-dawn. She looks forward to it as much as I do.

We've shared some incredible adventures while the neighborhood slumbers. Most winter mornings we hear the Great Horned Owls hoot incessantly in a nearby forest. Walking on the marina's barrier barge we interrupt all manner of water fowl activities. Green Herons perching, gaggles of geese or codgeries of coots or a bunch of ducks swimming hastily away as we approach. Baylee's nose is always in overdrive during these walks. Great Blue Herons fly overhead, and barn swallows dart and swoop when spring approaches. During summer months she loves to sit with her head up and watch the Purple Martins play on the wind. They come in great swarms and stay throughout the hot months eating tons of insects. The autumn months are our favorite, as temperatures cool and humidity goes away and leaves scurry before us granting Baylee play time chasing them. There are places we'll sit together and watch the sun rise, watch boats leave the marina heading to points unknown, watch birds lift in flight before heading home for breakfast and coffee on the deck.

Most often we'll meet other early risers, both two-legged and four-legged varieties. Her friend's names are as cute as hers. Bonnie & Clyde, Fossie, Bama, Daisy, Iris, Dempsey, and Bogie all love to say their hello's with wagging tails and many sniffs. In fact, I've given Baylee a new nickname - "Manyanysniffs." (With nod to Jennyanydots of Cat's fame.)

Sadly, our morning walks together have come to a halt for at least two months. Somehow Baylee has sliced off part of her right hind foot's pad. The large one. Well, SHE didn't do it herself obviously, but apparently stepped on something incredibly sharp that did the slicing. About a quarter of it is simply missing. What's left is a clean slice of raw meat. Our veterinarian literally winced when he looked at it and complimented Baylee on being such a good girl. I'd only noticed her licking it one day and it appeared to be red so I took her in. She has never yelped or cried or favored it. She's even taken walks with me before I noticed it. Amazing. So, she's on antibiotics and has to wear a Thera-Paw for her necessary walks, which must remain short. The pad will grow back, we've been assured, but it will take diligent doctoring on our parts. Amazingly, she will even lift her paw up to have her bootie strapped on. What a good dog.

Therefore, the past two mornings I've taken my walk without my companion. While I've noticed an increase in beneficial aerobics, I confess it's just not as much fun without Baylee. It's going to be a long two months.


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