This year has been one of great change. This winter I logged off for a bit following a year of looking inward and connecting more with what is truly important. Family, health, simplifying. As much as I enjoy blogging I found that what I truly needed was time to myself for awhile.
That, and I simply had nothing to say.
Instead of adventures with birds, road trips and hikes into the hinterlands my time of late has been spent studying, journaling and holding deep conversations about the past, the future and the present.
My past adventures were such fun and I promise new adventures to come. However, my outdoor adventures were vastly different from what I'm doing now - meditating, looking inward and working to make necessary changes. That has been my new adventure. A more quiet, reflective adventure. I confess it has been challenging but most rewarding.
I've relished the challenge. Sought the challenge. Invited the challenge.
So my blog has been quiet. I'm saving up. I'm absorbing, looking at things with new eyes, recharging my batteries. I'm living.
I WAS home, but then I left again. Two more trips. One to Raleigh, then to Kure Beach, North Carolina. The first was a family event, the second to recover from the family event - LOL!
We were only there a few days.
One morning I woke early to watch the sunrise.
Rather, I tried to.
The morning was blustery and cold. I know why lobsters have red claws as mine were pretty red and curled up by the time I meandered an hour or so waiting for some sun.
I did find some wonderful shells. The early bird definitely gets the best shells.
However, the clouds were so pretty and made gorgeous dancing wisps above the ocean. Lost of Maxfield Parrish clouds by the time the sun rose higher.
I know I promised a story about a ranch in Nevada and that will come later. In the meantime I've tons of Bat Mitzvah pics to process and upload, AND more beach pics, AND I'm getting to see my baby again soon! More baby pics, more pics ... pics and pics and pics!
I've been MIA! I know, I know! But for a good cause. You're gonna love this!!! Our daughter and son-in-law live in the outskirts of Las Vegas, Nevada. Please note that I emphasize "outskirts" because they live in a beautiful section of a normally brown desert land punctuated by the most outlandish "Disneyfication" of a city. (learned that word from NPR) Not a Vegas fan, me. BUT, I do love the surrounding areas. Mt. Charleston, above, is a favorite jaunt whenever we visit. There's a fabulous restaurant - old, never-changing, filled with character and good food - oh, and a great view - that is an easy 40 minute drive from their house. I adore Mt. Charleston. There's already snow at the highest peaks, but maybe it just never left. ?
The daughter has filled her backyard with all manner of desert-loving cultivars. She misses the seasons but has lots of flowers and even a small patch of grass for the dog. Of course, I gravitate to the dead, interesting pieces - ha!
This is a reserve a short distance from their house. A fascination place for a future blog. You're gonna love it. Well, I think you will. It's a interesting bit of history that I enjoyed learning about.
Daughter (my step-daughter) and son-in-law, dog and new baby! (and George, the dog) This is why I've been gone. My first actual swear-to-goodness grandchild!!! The experience shared with them was one of pure magic and deep bonding, filled up to here with love. Leaving made me misty eyed and I became one of THOSE grandmothers proudly showing everyone in the airport and on the plane his image.
Some of the flowers enjoyed during my stay. There were many I never photographed because I was BUSY with the new baby!
I do know this one, above. Bougainvillea.
Pink berries dangling from a neighbor's tree into their backyard.
The reason for my absence. I'm going to become the next Nancy Bond and post his pic everywhere. He is the love of my life right now, this sweet boy!!!
an over praised season more remarkable for biting winds than genial breezes.
Autumn is the mellower season,
and what we lose in flowers
we more than gain in fruits."
My zinnias have faded, the autumn sedum is in full bloom and I anxiously await the changing of the leaves here in North Alabama. Autumn is my favorite time of the year for it's a freshening of air, a clarity of breezes, and the leaves look like flowers. Happy Autumn!
Bees are all over my Autumn Sedum. Bees of all kinds, as well as butterflies and skippers, weird flies and tiny bugs buzz in and around the pink flowers. Kinda like Saturday at the Mall, there is activity everywhere, all day, every day. I've had more fun chasing bumblebees and honeybees, all of which have been very patient with me. Although I have some images that are more striking of the bees themselves, this one caught my eye because of the focus. I used my Macro lens, F 2.8, 1/800 sec, ISO 400. Can't wait to see all the entries!
Long ago a friend told me that she could always tell when her daughters were about to go though a growth spurt. Their little bodies would began to visually thicken, expanding outward, building deep within before - whoosh! - growing several inches or more within a short amount of time. This "thickening" was a signal to her that new clothes would soon be needed as her precious daughters grew up.
What a wonderful analogy for Life itself. This long ago conversation came to me recently when trying to describe my current status. A Thickening. I'm in the midst of my own personal, creative thickening.
Everyone goes through this I'm sure, but I know this phenomena definitely occurs when it comes to artists and their work. Painters, musicians, photographers, everyone who dabbles in a creative hobby or business experiences a down time. This is a time to observe and meditate. A time to explore and dream. A time to open our hearts to different pathways. A time to rest and absorb.
I believe this thickening time important for the creative process. As frustrating as it has been for me lately, I finally figured out that this down time is necessary. Many friends have told me this but it seemed so that I was losing myself, my creative. As Bart Simpson would say "...Doh!" As my favorite season approaches and the dry drought heat of summer diminishes it is a relief to realize that I'm in the midst of a thickening. What a lovely time to be resting, absorbing, observing, meditating, dreaming and exploring! Welcome Autumn!
Man, I am so struggling. My Creative is in Stuck Mode. From time to time a burst of Creative will happen and then it's gone...like a thought. What the hell? I don't mean to whine. Really. I don't. Here's a burst of the Creative that happened last week:
There was this teeny tiny moth outside on the bubble glassed panel that runs the length of our front door. Our porch is dark, shaded, protected, and this little moth was resting there. Slipping outside I crept closer and closer shooting as stealthily as possible. I shouldn't have worried. She wasn't bothered by my presence.
Because the porch is dark and shaded this was the best shot I could get. I couldn't possibly bother to set up the tripod. When the Creative shows up it's best not to delay. It's the action that counts, and these images are okay. The simplicity. The little feathery antennae. Feeling a tad more blissful I came inside, turned around to close the door. I could still see the little moth from the inside.
The bubbly glass made the moth look like she's under water, and the light from within the house brightened up her colors. How pretty! It all depends on one's point of view, doesn't it?
Outside looking in or inside looking out. The moth is the same but the images are completely different. This wonderful hobby of photography has helped me truly "see" our world in many ways. That my Creative will return I've no doubt. You see, Autumn is coming and Autumn is my favorite time of the year. Crisp air, bright skies, changing light - ahhhhh, changing light! Gotta go chase it.
The earthy aroma of coffee mingled with the heady scent of books. A favorite activity, strolling the towering, colorful shelves of a bookstore, is a bliss like no other. New books, paperbacks, bargain shelves, children's corner, magazines and newspaper from around the globe lovingly caressed, thumbed through and appreciated by confirmed bookaholics.
The bargain shelf always beckons. Upon this shelf I see something of interest. "Meditations from A Course in Miracles: Inspirational quotes of universal wisdom." A smallish book, covered with silhouettes of trees in a misty forest, it stuck to my hand like honey. Flipping through the introduction I see a passage that gives me pause that goes as follows:
"Nothing real can be threatened
Nothing unreal exists
Herein lies the peace of God"
The book divides the course thematically into eight topics. My original intent was to read and meditate daily upon each page and write in my journal. However, another goal has come to the fore, which is to post a photo a day - or thereabouts. Sometimes my travels take me to places that do not allow for posting so I shall not beat myself up if I miss some days. However, I can combine the two into one project, and add more books as I wish. More quotes as I wish. A book, a quote, a photo.
Recently, I've challenged myself to go outside every day with my camera and shoot whatever I find that's of interest. Just in my yard. There is always some tiny miracle occurring; it's up to me to discover it and see how many ways I can capture it digitally. It's my daily meditation now along with reading and journaling.
The first section from my new Meditations book is on Adversity. Page 1 - not admitting (into your life) pain. "Nothing can hurt you unless you give it the power to do so." This is good for me today for I have been allowing a situation to cause me deep pain. The situation is unimportant, but what is important is my reaction to it. It's an old reaction - an embedded pattern that I am trying to break. Seeing it is the first step. Just like seeing the beauty of a leaf floating in water. I see, I see.
In this day of my awakening spirit I am finding myself inspired by a multitude of photographers.
Ansel Adams said, “You don’t just make pictures with a camera. You make pictures with books you’ve read, the music your’ve heard and with the people you have loved.”
This morning found me perusing the North American Nature Photography Association's website, of which I am a member. There, highlighted on the front page was a link to Nancy Rotenberg's website, "Natural Tapestries." I clicked. I was astonished. Her work is truly inspirational, her vision exceptional. It was within Nancy's website that I picked up the above quote by Ansel Adams, another photographer who has inspired me. Her work spoke so much to my spirit that I decided to blog about it and provide a link to her site so that you can enjoy her work as well.
Other photographers inspire as well not only by their photographic genius but by their mission. David DuChemin is one of those. The first book of his that I read (devoured) was "Visionmongers." Since then I've picked up many of his e-books, follow him on Twitter and we are "Friends" on Facebook. His personal vision is to "shoot advocacy and fundraising images for the international nongovernmental organization community." Marketing himself as a Travel and Humanitarian Photographer, following his passion, David has inspired me and countless others along the way.
There are other photographers who inspire me on a daily basis. Two I met via blogging here at the Giraffe Head Tree - Diane Schuller and Bo Mackison.
I found Diane first through another friend's blogroll. The name of her original blog drew me in - "Sand to Glass." From there Diane changed her blog title to Alberta Postcards and now has her own photography business, Diane Schuller Photography. Her sensitivity toward her subjects, her love of dogs and nature, her clean and beautiful style of writing and unique eye for detail always have me looking forward to her new works.
Seems the whole earthy, naturally sounding titles always draw me in for that's how I made the acquaintance of Bo Mackison. Her blog's title, "Seeded Earth," caught my eye and her passion for photography kept me coming back. She and her "Sherpa" participate in art shows in many places. This year she spent several months in Tucson, Arizona and completely blew me away with her prose and photos. We have since become friends.
Closer to home, Alabama has a bevy of fabulous conservation photographers. One in particular, David Young, is a long time favorite. David Young Photography captures images of water, and other works of nature, in a truly unique way. He and a few others, calling themselves conservation photographers, have started a Conservation Photographers of Alabama page on Facebook that I wholeheartedly suggest you check out. When you have time. After checking out all the other links that I've provided.
Thank you, inspirational people! Thank you for helping me once again become excited about the world of photography, sharing your talents and creating such beauty!
These two were cavorting on the side of our house.
From Butterflies & Moths of North America
Hackberry Butterflies fly in a fast and erratic manner, and rest upside down on tree trunks. Males perch on tall objects in sunny areas to watch for females. Eggs are laid in clusters, and the young caterpillars feed communally. Caterpillars overwinter in groups gathered inside dead rolled leaves.
Caterpillar hosts are various hackberries and sugarberry.
Adult food include sap, rotting fruit, dung, carrion. They will take moisture at wet spots along roads and streams.
The habitat of Hackberry Emperors is wide - along wooded streams, forest glades and river edges, wooded roadsides, towns.
They reside in most of the eastern United States, central Plains states, and the southwest mountains; northern Mexico.
I'm having trouble uploading photos to Blogger. The past couple of days the little circle thingie goes 'round and 'round but my photo never uploads. Anyone else having this problem? I'm wondering if it's Blogger OR my network. Thanks for the input.
UPDATE: There is a "New Editor." I didn't know that until I scoured the Help forums. Went to Settings, scrolled down and chose the new editor, hit Save and all is well. Just so ya'll know. Sheesh.
The sun rose bright red over the mountain this morning, ruby shades filtering through the dense tree canopy greeting me as the dogs snuffled around the backyard. Yawning and stretching sleepy stiff muscles, eyes closed, reaching for the light I was reminded of my many blessings. One blessing is the golden afternoon light that filters through plants on my front porch, casting shadows of mystery.
Peaking through my hanging ferns.
Silver edges glow, and more shadows.
If you are bothered by spiders you may want to stop here.
This cute little fella was dangling in a potted plant. Very tiny, around a quarter of an inch long, maybe a tad bit longer. He was content and obviously well fed.
A surprise visitor - a painted box turtle. I moved him out of the backyard into the the wilder area on the other side of the fence. He didn't need the complication of Baylee. The photo is awful, sorry. Forgetting completely about the high humidity I dashed out and snapped this through a foggy lens. Doh! What a nice surprise!