Moments of Beauty

Archive for ‘September, 2013’

Not Alone..

IMG_1495 (copy)

I can remember as early as first grade, I worried about “not knowing”…not knowing the details of how everything, worked, like cars, electricity, every modern convenience, you name it, and I wanted to know.  I wanted to know “just in case”.   I also wanted to know “how to survive”.  What in my childhood, prompted this “survivalist or self-reliance (in a positive light), I don’t know.

Interestingly though my brother has more severe shades of this trait or “affliction”.  Needless to say, I have always loved nature, and testing my limits.  Surviving, using all of ones mental resources, to beat the odds, and overcome adversity.  Marathon running, which I also enjoy, is just another way to push the envelope, to test limits. Want to be fit enough to do “anything”,” just in case”.   How ironic is it, that I would marry the most incredible survivor I know, my husband, Matt, who also thinks of everything, “just in case”.    The depth of character it takes to endure ALS for 13 years, daily losing functioning is beyond comprehension.  When days are dark, and things look bleak…what is it that makes you keep fighting, keep going.                     

Knowing you’re not alone…love of family, friends, and neighbors!

So thankful for all of our friends, family, and neighbors!

I took this picture this morning, hiking with Winston.  It was a quiet, seemingly lonely morning, until we met this couple…Not alone!


The Web of Fear!

There are so many obstacles in life that can prevent us from reaching our goals and dreams.  Fear, is just one of those obstacles.  Fear really is just another predator that consumes it victims.  We all have fears, fear of snakes, spiders, cockroaches, heights, closed spaces…you name it, and we “humans” have fear down to a science.  What amazes me most is how much fear controls our lives.  I’ve heard someone say, “I’m afraid I won’t get the job, so I’m not applying.”  Really…what’s logical about that?  You are creating your own worst case scenario!  You, are your own worst enemy!

Well, I will confess, I have my own fears too.  I scream every time I see a cockroach or a spider, not a little scream, a blood curdling scream, a scream that makes your hair stand up on end.  It’s not something I’m proud of, it’s down right embarrassing, but I still do it every time.  So to conquer this fear, I ask myself what can I control, do what I can do, and not dwell on it, but focus on what I can control.   (FYI…still screaming at cockroaches…they are just so ugly)

My Goal:  Wildlife Pictures!

Obstacles:  Predators both animals and human


  1. Control:  Pepper Spray, Tazor, Knife, GPS
  2. Just do it!

So it seems I’m prepared, and all is well and fine.   Or, so it seems.  That’s until you actually start hiking.  There are so many things to look at, listen to, and smell.  Oh..the smell of pine, is just the very best.  It’s a smorgasbord for your senses.  I’m looking down to find animal tracks, looking in the distance to watch the sunrise, looking around to see what Winston is doing, looking everywhere except directly in front of me.  That’s when it happens, a full frontal assault, a facial implant into a gigantic web.  Yes, that’s right, GIGANTIC, because spiders in the wild don’t DO, small.  These spiders are my dad would say “IT’s all that fresh air…makes a man hungry!”  Guess that’s true for spiders too!.  First comes the scream, then hands scrambling, grabbing, and pulling the sticky, icky web off of your face.  And, you have to pull and pull, why?, because its so darn sticky.  A shudder rises up through your throat, and involuntarily comes out of your mouth…a vocal sound of pure torture, until you can spit out the words “Where is it?   Because inevitably that’s the question that keeps repeating in your head the whole time your hiking…Where is it?, Where is it”  Where is it?  You involuntarily slide your hands over your entire body, and then again through your hair, and then you do it again. Hoping to brush it off, hoping at the same time, not to find it, and definitely hoping not to squash it.

Yes.. and you would think this would only happen once, that you would be so careful, and never let it happen again…Think again!  This has happened multiple times.   I hike about half the time, with my neighbor, Linda.  I have to tell you when it happens to her, I can’t keep from laughing.  Why, perhaps to know that someone else shares in my misery, or maybe because, when it’s happening to someone else, you’re able to see how silly the fear is, and see the humor in it.  Spiders are amazing their webs so transparent, I can see why insects get trapped so easily…Oh the web they weave…

I suppose if you are going to be fair, you have to look at it from the spiders point of view too.  Ellen DeGeneres said it best…

Our egos tells us we’re the only ones that have any kind of feelings. We’re the only ones with a relationship. We’re the only ones with family. You know, I think that if you kill a spider, there is a relationship that you’re ruining. There’s a conversation going on outside with the other spiders. ‘Did you hear about Chris?….Killed yeah….Sneaker. And now Stephanie has nine hundred babies to raise all alone. Well, she’s got her legs full I’ll tell you that right now. Chris was so kind, wouldn’t hurt a fly. It’s just been tough for them lately. They just lost their web last week. Those humans think they’re so smart. Let them try shooting silk out of their butt and see what they can make.’
 Ellen DeGeneres quotes (American Actress and stand-up Comedian, b.1958 New Orleans, Louisiana, USA)

This type of spider, is the spider we most run into!









“Just up-ahead” Passion, Obsession, Fear

I am passionately obsessed with the next great photo.  I don’t just want the next great landscape, I want wildlife in its natural environment.  The most prized photo that I am after is of the Endangered Florida Panther.  I have seen the panther several times over the past 4 years, and have even reported it to the Florida Department of Fish and Wildlife.  I am not the only one to have seen this beautiful creature so I’m not hallucinating, my neighbors have as seen it as well.  I suppose we could all be drinking the same hallucinogenic water.  I could hear the disbelief in the tone of the ranger’s voice, he certainly didn’t believe I saw a Florida Panther.  Perhaps it’s his disbelief that makes me want to photograph the Panther, no…it’s more than that.

 Yesterday, I went hiking/photographing on the trails with our new neighbors, the Layne family.  We hiked through some pretty wet trails, well, actually more than wet, knee-high to thigh-high water.  Everyone (especially non-native Floridians) can agree ahead of time, it’s pretty stupid to hike through deep fresh water in Florida.  I mean it’s just something you don’t do!  I just don’t want to be on Good-Morning America’s headlines “Lady bitten by an alligator, had to hike out without leg”, nope, not something I want.  

So how did we end up hiking through thigh-high water…it just happens!  You think, well it can’t be deep for very long, it looks dry  “just up-ahead”.  So you hike through it.  Then you realize you have to keep going, or go back the way you came.  Inevitably, 90% of the time you choose to go forward through the unknown, because you hope that it’s better than what you came through.  It’s that hope, that forward is better, that sometimes gets you into “thigh-high trouble”!


We endured over 15 minutes of deep water in the midst of sun around us, but rain upon us, literally!   Winston, my shadow, my Vizsla, was having an amazing time.  We finally came upon soggy, sandy ground on the outer rim of the park.  I had to put my camera in the bag due to the rain.  We continued hiking when we noticed all kinds of animal tracks.  We saw fresh pig and coyote tracks…and something else.  It definitely looked like a “cat” print, but the size was astounding.  I pulled out my measuring tape and my neighbor’s son snapped a few pictures.  The print measured over 3 1/2″ in length.  I quickly pulled out my camera and snapped this photo…no doubt in my mind, it was a panther track.


 I so wished I would have stayed and taken more photos, documenting more evidence…but I didn’t.  Perhaps the fear of walking through alligator infested waters affected my thinking…I don’t know, sounds logical to me.  Next time, if there is a next time, I will be prepared.  I will document with a length and width measurement, I may even make a cast of the print.  Ok, I know will make a cast of the print..I’m adding plaster of paris to my list of supplies to hike with.

Epilogue:  I went hiking this morning to the same location. (Why?  To take the photo I missed yesterday) I took a different route and only had to hike through small section of muck, mud, and brackish water.  Half way through the muck, mud, and brackish water a large animal moved quickly from the bank to the small creek to our right.  My heart skipped several beats, because the only thing that large, could only be an alligator.  My fears were confirmed, there are alligators in this park.  And you know the only thing worse than walking through the first time, is knowing you have to walk back through this very muddy, murky, brackish water a second time, right by that gator you just passed. This is when I began to think I may be slightly crazy…at what point does your passion, your obession lead to out right stupidity.  That is the question?

Winston and I continued on..our senses heightened almost expecting to see the panther, wanting to, but not wanting to, half hoping to, half hoping not to.   Slowly, quietly we walked, looked, and listened.  We found prints..but the panther prints were gone.  What little rain we had, had washed them away.  We continued hiking without incidence, but adding in the thrill of one rabbit chase.  All fun aside, it was now time to walk back through that murky, mucky, brackish water.   I held Winston by the collar on my right side, the creek and gator were on my left side. (Who am I joking, the creek now extended over the path…mud, muck, brackish water, and creek, one and the same) Praying… I looked unappetizing  to the Gator and too big to tangle with; (P.S. Dog is a gator’s favorite food).  We made it, or so we thought.  Up ahead turning the corner was a man.

I might add, Winston loves people!   I wouldn’t have been concerned at all, except for Winston’s strange reaction.  Winston turned to bolt back the way we came.    (Alligator behind versed unknown man ahead,) Winston was afraid!  I didn’t like my choices, and Winston clearly preferred the Gator)  We stopped.  Winston had been panting hard a second ago, it was a hot morning.  He stopped panting, I couldn’t hear him even breath.  He didn’t want to be heard, that was obvious.  He didn’t want to alert the man.  My heart was beating fast,  (now I’m thinking I’m am certifiably crazy for being out here).  We both held our breath, I pulled out my Tazor, and watched the man turn the corner, we waited a good 10 minutes before we continued forward, walking slowly and quietly the whole way back to the car.  By time we got back, we both wanted to go home.

 I am thankful that I don’t know what is “just up-ahead”.   I most likely wouldn’t leave my house. I definitely  am thankful Matt and I haven’t known what is “just up-ahead” with the progression his disease, ALS.    Will I go back out? Yes,…there’s another great photo, “just up-ahead”!

Giant Swallowtail Taking up Residence

Last night Winston and I were planting the garden (for pictures go to when these two beautiful Giant Swallowtail’s flew by us.   I then became curious to see if we had any caterpillars and to my surprise we do.

Giant Swallowtail

The common trait in all these swallowtail species is the extension at the rear end of their wings, which makes them look like the swallows – and hence the name.
Read more at Buzzle:

Matt and I had the Eastern Black Swallowtail take up residence in our fennel plant last month.  I have amazing photographs yet to post of this incredible butterfly.


The Giant Swallowtail Caterpillar is definitely an “Ugly Duckling” Story.  I have never seen an uglier caterpillar!  It looks like bird droppings.  The Caterpillar is called an “Orange Dog” because it is often found in Orange trees.  In fact, he is in our orange tree.  Many citrus growers would consider this caterpillar a pest.  I  however am excited, and hopefully will get pictures of his chrysalis, and if extremely lucky,it transforming into a butterfly.



Love is in the Air

Love is in the Air!  This morning Winston, my dog, and I were out for our morning run and the first love couple we happened upon were a pair of osprey in a new nest.  It will be fun to watch this pair!  It’s close to the road, next time, I will take my “real” camera.


Osprey hunt fish by hovering over water and then diving feet first to capture prey in their powerful talons.


What is right in front of us is magical!  Osprey mate for life.

Eurasian Collard-Dove 

“Love Doves”

Eurasian Collard-Dove

Morning Hugs – These two mate for life.

Eurasian Collard-Dove

Once a pair has formed, the male(right) will show his partner potential nest sites, usually in tall trees.  In between these “site visits”, the pair vigorously preen each other.  (Hugging included)

Eurasian Collard-Dove

Eurasian Collard-Dove