Saturday, December 28, 2013


For various and sundry reasons I am making the move from Blogger to Wordpress.  I'm still learning WP but am finding many aspects to it that I prefer.  Blogger and the Giraffe Head Tree will always be a part of my heart but they no longer fit where I am the Now.

You can find me at my new blog:

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Brought to you by Led Zepplin

September 28, 2013

This is a grand adventure.  Sunrises and sea turtles, northern gannets and ruddy turnstones, sand between my toes and sandspurs sticking in the bottom of my flip flops.  Bald eagles and ospreys, salt marshes and the Cape Fear, ferries and fossils.  Sadly for you I've not been blogging about most of it.  It is time for a change.

August 22, 2013

It's also time to change my blog.  Past time, really.  I'm working on a new title and am excited about traveling in a new direction in blogging.  I have really missed it, this blogging world, and I've missed YOU!  I've amassed quite the collection of images which have been posted mostly on Facebook.  FB leaves me kind of cold though.  Not the people who I reach and chat with, but FB itself with its constantly changing Rules and Issues.  Frankly, I don't trust them. 

July 8, 2013

But I digress. Soon, I'll have a new blog and will be directing you to it somehow - surely it can't be that difficult.

Listening to:  Ramble on, by Led Zepplin

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I seem to have writer's block.  Possibly even photography block.  What I am clearly having is hip block, as my left one is experiencing technical difficulties keeping me off the beach for a bit.  Still, there are tons of images taken since our arrival at my disposal, lots of experiences not shared and ideas not brought forth to my blog.  My poor, sad, neglected blog that so desperately needs a change.

We are fortunate to be living close to a beach.  Photographing sunrises has been a favorite activity of mine since our arrival last March.  Walking along this pier, watching the fishermen and women hauling in all manner of creatures (and letting most of them go), staring at the waves crashing beneath me, marveling at cannonball jellyfishes, sharks and stingrays cruising around, avoiding the pelicans and gulls who think they're going to get fed, then leaving through the store, buying locally made ice cream, is such a treat.

Riding the ferry brings intense joy.  No matter how many times we passenger the Cape Fear River ferry to Southport and back again the trip never grows boring.  Never.  Ever.  Such a peaceful calm.  Watching the pelicans, gulls and terns swoop and dive for lunch, and the gulls pacing the ferry hoping for a handout is so cool.  Occasionally dolphins will mirror the ferry for a bit before disappearing toward the mouth of the river into the ocean.  Once, we spied a bald eagle.  There are always sailboats, fishing boats and even ships to watch.
The salt marshes lend an exotic, mysterious, amazingly beautiful palette of seasonal colors.  Bright greens in the spring, purples and browns toward summer ending in the luscious golds of autumn.  I am in love with the salt marshes with its crabs and grackles, herons and egrets, snakes and oysters, dragonflies and damselflies.  The salt marshes are the magical fringe between brackish waters and the maritime forest housing creatures and plants unique to that environment. 
The coolest thing EVER is that we have our own turtle nest incubating at the end of our walkway to the beach!  These little guys are due to hatch sometime in October.  I hope and pray I will be here for their birth and slipping and sliding into the ocean.  How incredible!  What a miracle! 

So I'm pondering my blog again and considering even changing to Wordpress, thanks to a creative genius friend and blogger who encourages that direction.  Blogger always seems to have spacing problems, unless it's the blog-ee (me!) and not Blogger's fault.  No matter how tight I make spaces in between photos and text there are sometimes these large spaces that I can't make go away.  But, since it's just a blog let's just Let It Be.  For now.  So that's my random blog post for now!  I hope you are all doing well - I really miss you all!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Brought to you by the letters "E" and "A"....

After a five week journey to North Alabama helping family through surgeries and sneaking in a few visits along the way, I'm back at the beach.  There's an odd disconnect one experiences after being gone for so long.  In order to find myself again there has been lots of sleeping and simply "being," a couple of early evening Toddies on the Beach with the hubby, and first beach walk.

We've had an abundance of rainfall the past few days.  Along with the rain drops came lightning and thunder, north winds and heavy seas.  After the heat of early August I welcomed this change with open arms...and bare feet for my first serious walk.  My goal was the green rocks of Fort Fisher.  However, the universe had something completely different in mind for me.


Stepping onto the wet sand off our walkway the first thing I noticed were lines of beach flotsam and jetsam deposited by the sea.  It was just past high tide, and these markers were high spots of deposits.  There, amid the bits of shells, seaweed and bits of grasses were cigarette butts.  Leaning down to pick up the first one I spotted 5 more.  This continued for about a hundred yards south.

I never made it to the green rocks. After about 20 minutes my collecting bag was nearly full.  Back aching, hip complaining I turned back to do a sweep on the way back and collected even more.  North winds blowing my hair out of my eyes I could see more trash, even watching the waves deposit more as I walked.  It was staggering, the amount of garbage.  A personal, worst for Kure Beach.  More tourists on a smoking beach = more cigarette butts.  

Kure Beach Trash Pickup: August 15, 2013;  1.4 pounds of trash
1 hour over a few hundred yards.  Mid-afternoon, after storms and rainfall at high tide with heavy seas. 

10 Children's toys
Over 50 bits and pieces of paper and plastic
2 tubes of chapstick
8 plastic cigarillo tips
1 complete empty bottle of water
1 Landshark beer bottle cap
1 plastic spoon
The letters "E" and "A" from something
1 quarter
22 bottle caps
448 cigarette butts

That last one bears repeating:  448 CIGARETTE BUTTS

This is plain nasty.  I'm going to buy medical gloves for these beach pickups it's becoming so gross.  This time I did receive pay for my efforts - one quarter. 

I leave you with a pretty photograph of how a beach should look, sans trash:

...isn't this better?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Beach Colors

There's nothing more colorful than a beach town.  People have to paint more often because of the sunshine, salty air and constant winds.  Here, their chosen colors are bright and cheerful, boldly standing out in the clear sunshine, stark against bright white clouds and blue skies. 

Bright colors lure in patrons more readily than do dark, brooding colors for who wants to brood at a beach?  People themselves don straw hats bestowed with flowing scarves (protection, of course), loud t-shirts and shorts.  They fly colorful kites, lie upon neon beach towels, schlep dazzling totes overflowing with flashy beach goodies that rivals a box of 64 Crayola crayons.  Their very skin glows from the sun's tint, shiny with oils and lotions.  One finds more smiles per capita at any beach town.  One simply can't be brooding and frowning at a beach.  It's simply not possible.  (...cranky children are the exception...)

Salty air, fresh seafood, children laughing, sunshine blazing, gulls calling, waves crashing - a beach town has a way of lightening ones load, carving out grins and cleansing lungs and souls. 

After living in such a bright, happy place can I ever go back to town living?  We are pondering that very thing.  Should we stay or should we go? 

I miss some things about town living, but would feel a hole left by the colorful houses and palm trees.  Most of all, I would mourn the loss of vast stretches of sunshine and clouds.  Here, my soul has been lifted and my heart has found a new song. 

Monday, June 24, 2013


 "The trash and litter of nature disappears into the ground with the passing of each year, but man’s litter has more permanence."
John Steinbeck

It's past time to get off my butt and get back to picking up other people's nasty butts.  Cigarette butts, that is.  They are everywhere.  Flicked out of windows, rubbed out underneath flip flops, stuck bottom-side-up in the sand.  The smell of tobacco rivals the scent of salt water as this beautiful beach remains a smoking beach.

The determination to begin this project again comes at the urging of friend and new Life Coach, Bo Mackison.  Bo is trying to jump start my creative again.  We agreed that this project is a good way to get my feet wet...and sandy...and do some good.

Consider these statistics, all of which vary slightly according to sources.  I imagine these decomp estimates must be taken with a grain of salt.  Bright, hot sunshine and fresh air hastens the process while junk buried underneath sand and soil or waves enjoy a much longer process of decomposition...if ever.  Still, all are lengthy regardless:  (,

Paper towel - 2-4 weeks
Paper bag - 1 month
Apple core - 2 months
Cigarette butts - 1-5 years
Milk cartons - 5 years
Plastic six-pack holders - 400 years
Orange and banana peels - 2-5 weeks
Balloons - 6 months
Plastic coated paper - 6 months
Tinned steel can - 5 years
Plastic bags -  20-1,000 years
Aluminum cans - 50 years
Wool socks - 1-5 years
Plastic bottles - 450 years
Nylon string - 600 years
Leather - 50-80 years
Glass bottles - 1,000 years

My friend, Danielle, at It Starts With Me has been logging trash and cigarette butts for quite some time now.  My intentions to help her came from a good spot in my heart but I was simply unable to carry the action forward in positive fashion.  I'm coming clean.  In more ways than one.  I mean to do this.  It's good for me and it's good for the ocean, for our planet.  Moreover, it makes me feel like I'm doing something, however small my contribution. 

Sea turtles cannot distinguish between a free-floating plastic bag and a jellyfish, its usual diet.  Birds and turtles, dolphins and whales - creatures of sea and of earth - are filling up on our refuse and dying all around this planet of ours.  And we call ourselves sentient beings, humans.

Edited to "Fossils" by Aoife O'Donovan

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Unfinished Garden

Like the plough mud that ribbons through salt marshes the Carolinas tend to seep into your pours, invade your nostrils and stick to your shoes.  Visiting lush gardens, walking shell-lined beaches, feasting on crab cakes, riding ferries and tasting salt air is wonderful, but  I have a deep need and desire to know this place on a deeper level.  To do so I am compelled to read  Carolina authors who have lived these rhythms and know them best.

If you are ever lucky enough to visit Wilmington, North Carolina you simply must experience Two Sisters Bookery.  Located at the Cotton Exchange, close to the Cape Fear's Riverwalk, a tinkling bell gently announces your arrival as you step into a world of magic.  Books.  Real books.  Ink and paper books.  Books that give off the aroma of knowledge and wonder.  Books that make me weep, they are so beautiful.  Carroll and I traveled in Daris the Yaris through rainy roadways to experience Two Sisters Bookery during her stay back in February.  There, we stretched our time and imagination in this place of old wood and bright colors.  Eventually, we ended up at  the register - Carroll's arms filled with gifts for her niece while my own were achingly empty.  Though on the hunt for a good book, nothing had yet seemed right ... until we arrived at the counter.  There, to the left of the register was a shelf laden with new books and books by local authors, many bestickered with "Autographed Copy" in hopes of grabbing attention.

There it was - my first book.  It was not beachy as I'd been craving but was instead gardeny.  The title and cover begged my attention.  "The Unfinished Garden," by Barbara Claypole White - an Englishwoman now living in North Carolina.  England?  North Carolina?  Gardening?  Perfect.  After skimming the back cover I snatched it off the shelf and offered the owner payment.  I'm not a polished book reviewer at all but simply must tell you about this book and how it made me feel.  Bear with me.

 The Unfinished Garden
 Barbara Claypole White

"The Unfinished Garden" is about two fractured people - Tilly and James, and takes place amid gardens in both North Carolina and England.  Supported by a fascinating cast of fringe characters we learn Tilly is broken by loss and James is broken by OCD.  While Tilly is a fascinating character in and of herself I was completely riveted - spellbound - by James.  OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, has affected the lives of several of my friends.  While I've been understanding and nod my head at all the proper times  there is no way in hell I can ever truly "get" what it's like to have OCD.  Barbara Claypole White paints a vivid picture of what James goes through on a daily basis as he struggles with his wayward brain.  Page after page revealed what my friends surely must go through daily and for the rest of their lives.   The mental image of how James' brain makes him walk through a field dotted with dandelions is one that will stay with you forever, along with his explanation to Tilly's son Isaac as she overhears.  

Mind, I also developed a huge crush on James so that may play some part in my love of this book.  How I can have a crush on a book's character attests to the skill of Ms. Claypole White's writing.  The dance Tilly and James play as their relationship grows is reminiscent of another favorite of mine long ago, "The Shell Seekers."  I couldn't put this book down, and even dreamed about it.  It's a story that changes the colors, the sounds, the smells of your world for a while.  Those of you with a deep abiding love to read must curl up with this book on a rainy afternoon, a favored quilt over your lap.  Rich storytelling, lavish scenery and a storyline that grabs from the beginning, The Unfinished Garden shares the story of two broken people who find each other and come together despite the odds.  A simple plot, an old plot, but a great plot done extremely well.

Finishing a good book makes my teeth hurt.  It's simply over.  Just like that.  It's plain painful.  For weeks James and Tilly just wouldn't leave me alone.  They were always nearby like my shadow in late afternoon.  So I did what any sane person would do - I wrote to Barbara Claypole White.  Yes, I did.  I went to her website and spilled my guts - told her how much I loved her book and  that I wasn't ready for James and Tilly to go away.  I want more.  I want to know what happens to them.  Incredibly, she wrote me back.  After several volleys of e-mails, (I am very grateful she doesn't think me a stalker,) I think she understood just how touched I was by her book.  Ms. Claypole White shared with me that James and Tilly won't leave her alone either and she hopes to write a sequel.  As an aside I discovered that like me, Barbara Claypole White works to a playlist.  Yes!  Other people DO that!  If you are so inclined please visit her website and read REAL reviews by actual writers and discover  "The Unfinished Garden" for yourself.  Check out her playlist, too.

Oh, and she shared with me the song that may be inspiration for the sequel  ... but my lips are sealed...

My stack of books.  Each captivating and worthy of their own post.  
I'm buying books at a fevered pace.  You've been warned...

Friday, March 8, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”

The quote above, taken from The Hobbit, has proven to be my truth here at the beach.  We came here to rest our souls after the ladder experience.  This process, this healing time, has had the odd effect of erasing my creative.  It completely disappeared, instead becoming a blank white page. White noise.  A vast nothingness.  These days shooting photographs doesn't come easy but I do it anyway.  It may only be a sunrise, a wave, a pelican but I do it in order to remember the process, to keep my skills as fresh as possible.  Quite simply, oddly, photography is not the passion that it was Before Ladder.  At least for now.

Today, March 8, marks the one year anniversary of our arrival at Kure Beach, North Carolina.

Our first few months here were idyllic.  Spring 2012 was pleasant with abundant sunshine.  Lugging chairs to the beach we would simply sit and stare out over the ocean, watch the birds, watch the fishermen and locals who walked along the sparcely attended shoreline.  Once, we witnessed the process of evaporation - moisture rising off the ocean, cooling the air - and felt its immediate effect.  Sometimes we would talk but more often our companionable silence stretched long and deep.  Sinew by sinew my back, shoulders and neck relaxed, gradually, bringing daily noticeable differences.  Sleep was deep and sound.  Solitary meditative beach walks matched the rhythm of the tides - slow, deliberate, silent.  Collecting beach treasures became my new passion. 

And why?  Why collect bits of nature?  Why do I relish the feel of a barnicle-crusted old shell in my hand?  Why must I collect fossilized teeth, bone and barbs? Why do I feel the need to display them, touch them over and over, inhale their briny scent?

I think it's because I'm collecting pieces of myself.

Treasures that interest me are not the usual shells but those that are worn.  Pieces, even. I was worn upon arriving here, and in pieces. 

Initially, I became passionate about pieces of clam shells.  I didn't know at first what they were, but stripes of deep purple, lavender and mauve undulating through smooth creamy pieces caught my eye. I found one.  Then another, and another, and another. Before long I had quite the collection, and they are now proudly displayed in clear glass vases and bowls.

Clam shells are common along the shoreline but they aren't particularly pretty.  Clunky, brown things like a horse's hoof can be readily found any given day.  However, these clunky brown shells contain a miracle within.  As the surf and currents pound them up over time they break up, the brown parts break off and the inner bits of shell are polished by the ocean and sand into these creamy purply bits of loveliness. 

I like to think that's happening to me, to my soul.  The brown, clunky, tired, weary soul I dragged to this place is gradually breaking up, being polished, exposing a soft loveliness inside.

Having always been active and creative, goals were penned before coming here.  More photography, volunteer with the turtle project, write a book, join a land trust, journal and meditate, learn yoga and Reiki. 

However, what I did instead was simply stop.  Stop.  I stopped and I breathed.  At first, my lungs always felt like I'd been swimming when all I did was walk the beach.  The fresh salt air scrubbed my lungs.  Walking serpentine sands strengthened my back, my legs and I turned tan and my hair lighter. My long-neglected body finally felt firmer, felt better, felt healthier, felt rested.

So it has been a year and I think I'm finished resting. I'm beginning to feel the pull of my creative and wonder what direction it will take me.  It's time to begin filling in that blank white page.


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