Saturday, November 17, 2012


  I've been involved in introspection.


Learning more.

Giraffe Head Tree, as a blog, is not right anymore.
There is no Giraffe Head Tree in my life.
The inspirational tree is in my mind and always will be.
But it's my past; not my future.
To blog again I must make changes.
Internal and external.
My new personal journey is begging to be told.
But not here.  
Or here.....but a different "here."

I'm thinking...
Change up the place.
Breathe new life into this personal space.
Give it a new name.
Are you still there?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Today's Challenge

Today's challenge:  Clearing out my hoop.

A very, very, very wise woman once demonstrated to me a clear and easy way to think about the effects others have in my life that I ALLOW.  You see, I can be a sponge - soaking in everything, every word, every action made by others and allowing these things to color my world. I take things personally all too often.

It isn't healthy, and for someone entirely too sensitive - like me - it can be very damaging to my body, my soul, my very health.

This wise woman held up two hands full of colorful hoops.  There were yellow ones, pink ones, orange ones, silver ones, blue and red ones, and one green one.  "Choose your hoop," she instructed.  I chose the green hoop.  Green, cause I'm a treehugger.  Not surprisingly.

"Step inside your hoop, so that it surrounds you."  I did as instructed.

"Think of who are closest to you.  Those who have the greatest influence on your life."  Orange for my husband.  Pink for my daughter.  Blue for my father.  Silver for my mother.  Yellow for my sister.  "Demonstrate where they are in your hoop - the more they are inside your hoop, the more they are influencing your emotions, your health."  (Note:  I'm paraphrasing - she said all this stuff much better than I remember!)

I'd been working hard on these relationships for some months.  Most hoops were firmly outside of my personal hoop, but one remained within.  This hoop leaned  up against my legs.  Not good.  This hoop is my biggest struggle.  Fast forward to today. Today, it's practically leaning vertically against my knees. I aim to shove it away.  Granted, I've come a long way.  This particular hoop usually stays outside my own.  Sometimes it is very, very far away.  Today, I have allowed it right back inside my hoop.  It's time to give it an emotional shove.  

It's up to me to bring my mind back around into a more healthy state of being.  Concentrate on myself, my world.  Today, this morning, watching the sunrise on the beach, pelicans and northern gannets flying and swooping, wild waves crashing, this quote came to mind:

"Don't take anything personally.  Nothing others do is because of you.  What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.  When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering."  (Don Miguel Ruiz)

Flashback:  Remember my post about Impressions?  Well, I tend to weigh every word I say, thinking I may damage someone's psyche.  Really?  I don't have that kind of power but perhaps really I'm thinking about how I allow people's words to effect ME, not them.

Don't take anything personally - got it.  Today, that's my mantra, my chant, until I can feel it deep in my soul. No more needless suffering.  I am a strong woman.  I'm going out into nature today to breathe in Spirit. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Giraffe Head Tree

Daylight hours have been consumed with thoughts and images of dreams I've had the past few nights.  A particular image from a snippet, of a part of a dream, will not let go.

The image:  A giraffe breaching the ocean.

Unless I'm mistaken, giraffe's aren't known for swims in oceans. And if they were to test said oceans the event likely wouldn't be here, on the east coast of the good old USA.  Also, if they did decide to take a dip they definitely wouldn't be able to jump out of the water like a whale.  Okay, was only a dream.  Must ponder.

My morning walks with Baylee are enjoyable again, thanks to early autumnal temperatures.  Cooler temps and lower humidity is making me long for the sights and sounds I'm used to this time of year.  Changing leaves, mist on the lake, the sound of loons, wood smoke, migrating birds, the Loopers traversing the Tennessee River, red buckeye seedpods, possumhaw holly berries - those experiences and many more that I've blogged about for years now under the watchful eye of the Giraffe Head Tree.

I've struggled with blog content after leaving my beloved GHT and river behind.  Nothing has really clicked.  The beach is beautiful, the live oaks are majestic, the salt marsh is magical.  Most days I walk Baylee, then I put her in the house and then I walk me.  Sometimes I walk here.  Sometimes I drive to the end of the peninsula and walk there.

But back to the giraffe imagery.  As you know, recently I was lucky enough to see a whale breach the waves just a few hundred yards away from where I was sitting on the beach.  Easily, this has been the highlight of my adventure here.  For my giraffe to replace the whale - is my giraffe head tree telling me to move on?  Or telling me that it's still there, watching over the river, a respite for weary squirrels, a perch for red headed woodpeckers?  Maybe it's simply on my mind and these autumnal clues are reminding me of wonderful memories from my past.  Which really is reminding me that it's time to make some new ones.

What is autumn like on a little east coast beach?  Time to find out...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Stop it stop it stop it stop it....

You can't hear the cries of trees over the grating sound of chainsaws, the incessant rumbling and bumbling of bulldozers and bobcats.

Nor can you hear their screams over the din as stout, proud branches are hacked and pulled off, down onto the ground, loaded into trailers to be hauled away and burned.

You don't see the bird nests that are destroyed, the butterflies, caterpillars and chrysalis's that are maimed, anoles and tree frogs killed, complete ecosystems that are decimated, or the people who cry at this loss.

You can't hear the ground shriek as thick roots that anchored a living thing to the earth are yanked out and cast away as nothing.

The earth is crying today as one of hers is gone for good.  I am crying, too.  Marc Cohn in my ear, everything blocked out through my iPod, even that doesn't stop the faint rumble from coming through as the carnage continues.

Makes these seeds ever the more precious. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Beach Treasures

My personal goals for this beach adventure are simple.  Rest, eat healthy, walk abundantly, explore unceasingly, breathe deeply, reconnect with myself and my spouse.  We have been extraordinarily blessed with visits by friends and family since arriving so in between various Me Times I've enjoyed this place through their eyes as well.

A favorite time remains the early mornings.  Long, early walks with Baylee followed by long solitary walks on the beach picking up treasures.  Amazing finds continue to be these fabulous green rocks that the wild, wild sea throws up onto the beach.  Some were too large to carry back, sadly, but the ones I could manage were hoisted under one arm and slogged back to the house, soaking my t-shirt and making my arms quiver with exertion.  What fun!  Free rocks!  Free BEAUTIFUL rocks!  I'm saving up for a rock garden that I'm designing in my head.

This is the first one that I found, all nestled among the dunes next to our walkway. It's a chaos of blues and greens with what I thought to be rusty places embedded throughout.

Upon closer inspection these appear to be fossilized areas of some sort.  Still, there is rust or something there.  I purchased a rock and minerals book to help me identify these rocks but no such luck.  I need a degree in geology simply to understand what they're trying to get through to me.  I'm as dense as a ... rock.  I have scads of these rocks, various shapes and sizes lining the front hallway just waiting for their place to be created.

Some have barnacles crusted on them.

They are so beautiful.
(Blogger refuses to let me center this...go figure...)

This one is small but spectacular.  The camera just can't do it justice.  Shades of chartreuse with these same rusted fossilized places.

I see a face.  Can you? 

When there are no rocks to be found I pick up bits of beach stuff like these bits of petrified wood, likely from the gazillion shipwrecks that line the eastern coast.  At least that's what the romantic in me likes to believe. 

The big surprise has been discovering WWII 50 caliber machine gun bullets driven into the sand by the waves.  These are very heavy, but if the Wild, Wild Sea can hoist boulders onto the beach a "little" bullet wouldn't be a challenge at all.  These come from Fort Fisher, just south of where we are.  During WWII Army soldiers stationed there would fire practice rounds out into the ocean.  Amazingly, these bullets tumbled around the sea and ended up back where they began.

 And then there are the shark's teeth.  These are all fossils, except for the grey one which I suspect is in the process of fossilization.  ?  The two large black blobs at the top are chunks of fossilized turtle carapaces, and the little white circle is a vertebra from some huge fish, likely a shark.  I was quite proud of my little collection until a neighbor showed me a fossilized shark tooth he found that was, I swear, about 4" long and very thick.  Wow.  These are mostly white shark teeth.  Some are too damaged and some too odd for this amateur to identify.

The power of this ocean always thrills me.  Huge waves, powerful currents, the ebb and flow of vast tides, the migrating birds and sea life, the grandeur of this place - I'm blessed to be here.  Looking forward to seeing what Autumn is like on the beach.  Thank you all for hanging in here with me.  I have missed reading your blogs, missed keeping up with you all, and have missed writing and photographing nature.  However, I think my personal tide is still in the process of changing.  Blessing to you all...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ocean Karma

Beach living usually involves churning sand and foaming waves, soft sounds of laughter muted by the ocean winds, shells and sunrises, cold beers and hot, good reads under canopies, sweat-cooled skin that smells of coconuts.  Simple acts of swimming and walking, watching and enjoying.  Oftentimes, however, events snap you out of your walking Zen and remind you just how wild this place really is.  Recently, several instances of happenstance did just that to me.

We were walking on the pier with friends seeing what the local fishermen/women were pulling in out of the depths.  Young men were wave boarding on the north side of the beach close to the pier.  Kinda like skate boarding but they pop up the waves, skimming flat boards along the surf out into the ocean and pop, pop, pop up the waves, curling around just like skateboards on concrete curls.  Fascinating.  And not only to me.  As we were watching from high above an 8 foot shark - sand or bull - got within mere feet of these boys before the lifeguards blew whistles and closed the beach.  Right behind the shark cruised a massive southern stingray, easily 4 feet wide.  They circled around for some time before disappearing into the gloom.


The most wonderful blessing of ALL came the next day.  A completely mind-blowing split second in time.  A happenstance.  A stroke of luck.  A looking in the right place at the right time thing.  A friend and I were sitting on the beach, reading.  Being quiet.  Just us.  The weather was blustery and partly cloudy.  We couldn't put up the canopy for the winds, which were all wild and willy-nilly.  I was reading the latest from a local author titled "Cape Fear Murders," a piece of fiction by an author wanting to be like Janet Evanovitch.  The ocean was the color of bronze, and I found myself fascinated by the waves which came ashore crossing each other from different directions, creating these swirling eddys of foam and ripples as they washed high ashore.  It was so pretty, mesmerizing, zen, meditative.  The waves were coming in from the southwest, basically, and were huge, massive things.  Swimming was impossible.  Shorebirds were feasting in the foam and pelicans and terns were struggling in the winds.  I found it impossible to read because the sight before me was more interesting.  I've got to set this up for you just right because the sighting was very short.  But important.  Life-changing?  Maybe.  Likely.  Anyway, to the thing.  I was just sitting and staring and suddenly a whale breached the surface.  Seriously.  It jumped up in my direction, like heading toward me.  It was right beyond the point where the waves break - very close.  I made some noise and pointed out toward the ocean.  My friend was like, "What?!  What?!"  I couldn't speak, I was so stunned.  Her eyes followed my pointing finger and a few seconds later we saw it's tail fluke flipping up.  My first thought before seeing the tail fluke was that it was a manta ray because of the coloration and lack of dorsal fin, except that it was huge, massive, thick.  The tail fluke cemented the fact that we saw a friggin' whale off the coast of North Carolina.  My friend had her smart phone and did some research.  We determined that it must have been a right whale, although their migration is usually December-March.  Still, whales don't read so they can traverse that path whenever they damn well please. 

I saw a whale.  A.  Whale.  To this day I am dumbfounded.  So, that's the best news, the best time, an event that I can still "feel," if you know what I mean.  Oh, and immediately after the whale breached the surface I looked around and no one else had seen it.  People were playing in the sand, walking the shore, the lifeguard was bored, sunbathers and book readers and shark-teeth finders - not one had noticed the whale.  How many whales have breached while I had my nose pointed toward the sand looking for fossils?  What a sobering thought.

This morning I just happened to wake early and decided to go take sunrise photos.  The sunrise was pretty, and I did get some photos.  However, walking south to check on the two turtle nests just down the beach I spied these little tracks.  Lots of these little tracks.  They look just like the baby turtle track images on my Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project t-shirt.  I flagged down the sea turtle patrol to ask, but he said they weren't baby turtle tracks.  I'm not sure what they are.  Any idea? That's my footprint lower left for scale.  Beach tracks fascinate me.  Foxes, cats, crabs, birds and now these.  How fun is this? 

Enjoy the happenstances in your life.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Still walking...

It's true - move to the beach and people will come.  And come, and come, and come.  I have loved every single minute with visitors both family and friends, and we've more company a'comin' in August and September.  This is the longest I've gone without blogging in quite some time! 

We've shared sunrises and sunset together, eaten our weight (and then some) in fresh seafood and amazing local produce, traveled the ferry multiple times, strolled charming beach front shops and explored historical areas.  Each visitor brings something new to the overall beach experience.  This is a joyful time I shall always remember.

My personal journey ebbs and flows like the tides.  Sometimes I grow in great, repeating splashes and sometimes my growth curls into itself like a wave sloshes around in an eddy on the beach - going nowhere fast.  That's okay for I recognize the patterns now.  It's just part of the process.

Just like after each passing storm my personal beach changes.  Sometimes I'm all wonky, going up and down like the back of a dragon.  And at other times I'm flat, saving my sands for another day.  At times treasures crowd my sandy feet arousing my curiosity while the next day the sea refuses to share.  I've found fossilized white shark teeth, metal and wood from shipwrecks, the fossilized carapace from a sea turtle, corroded 50 caliber machine gun bullets and other items yet to be identified.

Today is the 2nd anniversary of the hubby's fall off a ladder.  He is doing very well and we are counting our blessings today.  Pop the cork! 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Walking the Labyrinth

I'm shocked that it's been so long since I've posted here.  We have been making our acquaintance with the local hospital and cardiologists as the hubs decided to have another "event" as soon as we arrived.  Nothing major, but enough to cause concerns.  Sigh.  Two rounds of company later - already planned and sorely needed - the hubs on new meds - I finally got a haircut - we are back into Relax Mode.

This place is paradise.  There is a magical, mystical quality to the air here.  It's fresh, clean and fills my lungs like nothing else.  Remember as a child that feeling you got in your lungs after swimming all day?  Or being outside all day?  How fresh the inside of your lungs feel?  And how relaxed your body is?  It's that.

I've begun to do something I call "walking the labyrinth."  Solitary walks along the beaches, or boardwalks, or pathways.  Mainly the beaches.  Most times the camera isn't invited because of the constant wind and sand.  The companion in my hand is a net/bag within which I place treasures.  Pieces of metal and pottery from shipwrecks that line the coast, usually just offshore.  Shipwrecks from Civil War and the WW's.  Special shells.  And trash, of course.  I'm only now beginning to learn the local history.

At the river/lake my Summer Toe color was a cool blue.  Here, I've found a bright shade of turquoise called "Ocean," which fits my new persona.  Turquoise, fuchsia and bright white are my new colors.  The beach is sinking into my psyche.

This is a terrible photograph of a moss or seaweed covered rock.  These dot the shoreline in a particular place.  I've discovered (thanks to Sky) a place to go photograph that looks like Ireland.  Not that I've been to Ireland, but what my mind envisions Ireland to look like.  One day, one day.

Is this not the coolest thing?  Old bricks?  This one was found along a rock barrier sea wall.  I'm not sure what they are, but I've found some in the yard as well and will investigate with the locals at some point.


Sometimes one has to get off the computer, walk the earth and soak up new things.  This is my time.  When the temperature outside reaches 500 degrees Fahrenheit, I'll be back inside doing computery things.  In the meantime, you'll find me out walking the labyrinth. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I sat on the beach, one idyllic spring dawn
I was witness to a miracle
A miracle that happens every day
As I gazed out into the Atlantic, to the far horizon
I saw it happening....

And out of nothing, the horizon transmutated
From the deep indigo-black, to an amazing crimson
With splashs of orange, yellow and teal
And then....the most amazing thing of all
This giant red ball of celestial luminosity
Rising out of the ashes of yesterday
A perfectly symmetrical ball of pulsating energy

Transitioning....vermillion to pale crimson to bright saffron yellow
The horizon was on fire with colour
The deeper shades gave way
The sky now totally involved, becomes cerulean blue
The fire subsides, clouds open like the gates of Heaven
Once again, Apollo races across the sky on his Pegasus

Welcoming morning to us mortals
And he brings the giver of life to his place in the sky
That spectacular, luminous sphere of light and boundless energy
Yes, mighty Sol, our benevolent sun, takes his throne
And this miracle, this everyday miracle....Sunrise
Mine eyes have seen the glory!

Poem by Tomahawk

I've been busy with projects and health issues - nothing particularly blog-worthy but each necessary and very time consuming.  And soul consuming.  I hope to get back on track with my life next week.  Please say some prayers and keep your fingers crossed - whatever works for you.  In the meantime please enjoy these sunrise shots and this lovely poem by Tomahawk that fits exactly the way I felt while witnessing this miracle.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

It Starts With ME

Easter Sunday
April 8, 2012

This morning Baylee and I rose before the sun, walked to the beach and waited for it's arrival - my own private, personal sunrise celebration on Easter Sunday.  To the right, a gentleman was far down doing the same thing.  To my left, closer to the pier, was another gentleman.  All of us standing still. Waiting.  The sky lightened just before a bright white dot popped over the horizon.  I stood until the sun was free, rising higher into the morning blue, counted my blessings and then headed for home.  Happy Easter.

Today marks the beginning of a new project.  Researching North Carolina habitats, native plants and critters, looking for preserves, gardens and conservation areas I unexpectedly stumbled upon a cause.  A younger, more savvy person thought up this cause and was running like crazy with it. I was ready for something proactive to do and this cause totally fits me.  Basically, it's something I can do when we go to the beach.  In my down time I'll be doing something worthwhile for our planet.  I like that.

Danielle lives to make a difference.  She is the kind of motivated young woman who is truly inspirational - a fabulous role model for kids of all ages.  To say Danielle's blog is about picking up litter would be an understatement.  Words here cannot fully express the depth of her project and how far reaching it is becoming. Her beach butts project got my attention.  How many cigarette butts have I seen on the beach since being here?  Tons.  And how many had I picked up?  Not one.  Until now.

Danielle and I have made contact and I am doing my part for The Daily Ocean.  Above are the fruits of my labor at Fort Fisher's public beach.  In 20 minutes I found 150 cigarette butts and a whole lotta trash....including a bright orange plastic Easter egg. 

For my part I'll walk Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher to clean up and give her counts as often as possible.  Also, the preserves, conservation sites, gardens, etc. that I visit to blog about I'll do the same.  Danielle is keeping up with all this stuff but I'll also keep a running tab in my sidebar.  Please visit Danielle's blog - I made a BIG BUTTON linking to her in the sidebar - or you can link here to It Starts With Me.  Tell her I sent ya and give her lots of kudos.  She deserves it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Day on the Beach

Laughing Gull

The past couple of days have been very, very windy.  Still, we braved the breezes to sit on the beach and relax after days of working on the house.  Laughing Gulls think people are meal tickets.  They were sadly mistaken in our case, but at least I got some good shots as they crept closer and closer before flying off in search of better opportunities.


Enjoying the beach yesterday was a challenge.  White caps as far as the eye can see, wind blowing over chairs and tumbling cups and shells and sand.  Still, we insisted because ... well, we could.  This cormorant was a delightful surprise.  Facing the wind he stretched out his wings to dry them in the breeze.  I got fairly close to him but not close enough to scare him off.  It's his beach, too.

The longer we sat the lower the sun sank behind us, casting an unusual glow onto the waves.  The gusts sent choppy ocean waves roaring toward the beach in rapid succession, each on the heels of the other.

We were transfixed and could have sat there for hours if not for the temperature dropping. There was a wind chill cutting through our sweatshirts, for after all, it IS only April.  With lowering temps, rising winds and an ocean spray beginning to hit us it was time to put the camera back into the safety of its case.

But first....just one more shot....

Friday, March 30, 2012

Spiderwort of North Carolina

I've discovered that spiderwort grows wild here along our lane, down the street, tucked beneath the various native shrubs and trees of North Carolina.  Most of the spiderwort here are a luscious blue purple.  Likely ignored by most, these jeweled wonders are grouped hither and  yon begging for closer inspection.

The macro lens brings to the forefront these sweet feathers!  I've never been this close to a spiderwort before - how remarkable!  It is true that spiderwort lacks a certain "wow factor."  They are tiny blossoms, made mostly of foliage trying to compete with flashier flowers.

This morning was slightly overcast so the colors really popped.  Bright yellow and brilliant, deep blue purple.  Can it get any better?

I'm thinking not.

And then I spy one that's more blue than the others.  I'm just stunned by their beauty.

Close by are these lavender mini-orchid wildflowers.  Teeny tiny blossoms spiraling up a slender, tall stalk.  The wind was picking up making shooting more difficult.  This is the best shot. 

The "lowly" spiderwort stole the show for me today - I just had to share them with you.


Related Posts with Thumbnails