Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The First Robin

We were just talking about it the other day. Tom and I about when the Robins should be coming. He and his brother were discussing the annual visit and thought they were late this year. I checked my journal, the one I have kept for a few years in the side margins and empty spaces of the book: Rumi the Book of Love (Coleman Barks edition) , and for the last two years the Robins have come to visit in February. They weren't late. We are just impatient in our old age, forgetful maybe, separated from nature more and more, maybe. Or, maybe we ask it every year. Tom and I wondered with this recent cold, if the Robins would come sooner.

This picture is taken through the window and screening. I think it is a female, the breast doesn't look red enough to be a male. THE FIRST ROBIN of the year. I suppose it has a very different connotation saying that in Florida than, say, in Connecticut. But, for all you Northerners, we love the advent of the "return of the Robins" here as well. We welcome your redbird and feed and water them so that they will be healthy and full of vigor to bring Spring back to you!

It is a good thing Tom thawed out the birdbaths. But, here the temperature is already rising. Although, in the house, it is another story.

This is another picture I wanted to share. Yesterday, Tom had covered up the front Bird of Paradise with an old "faux fur" blanket. When I walked into the kitchen it caught my eye.

OK, another picture for clarity.

You don't see it, I suppose. But, what gave me a start is that out of the corner of my eye, I saw a Florida Black Bear in my front yard! Just kind of rolling around in the leaves. Her butt up in the air. Crazy!? In the middle of my neighborhood. We do have bobcats, and coyote and foxes and such, but an elusive Florida Black Bear. Who knew.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Florida Ticks

Masala wants you to know
just how big the ticks in Florida really are!

Tom got this so Masala will be able to really "bite back." This last bit of late Summer and Autumn was prolific with the little critters. If Masala could read, he'd enjoy the joke. Oh, well, at least we can.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas

A little nostalgia from years gone by. Only my sister (upper right in most) and oldest brother (upper left in most) are alive still. I celebrated the holidays with them at my Mother's home this year also.
And, this is the sister that has been so helpful in turning me on to Etsy and Blogging. She has been a light for me during this last year.


Happy Holidays.

Have fun remembering with your family and telling "the stories."


Friday, December 24, 2010

Changes and Growth

I set myself up two additional blogs. They are both linked to Under the Florida Maples. One is Wandering Moments. I hope to use this blog for random photo shots and "deeper" thoughts I have that reflect off of the blogs I post on Under the Florida Maples. 

The idea of a "daily photo documentary or visual diary" of life around the home and yard, I got some time ago from a documentary I saw about a man living in Michigan who each day tried to get one and only one photograph from the woods surrounding his home. He started the day of an Autumn equinox and completed the journey on the Winter's Solstice of the same year. Chased By the Light, by Jim Brandenburg is the book from the documentary I had seen that was of his remarkable daily pursuit of a photograph. Only one, each day. I have always wanted to do the same. Granted, his 'backyard" is somewhat more alive than the one I live within; however, I still belong to one that is unique and would have a story to tell.

After seeing that documentary, I made myself a little 'nesting doll.' I began gathering material from the yard at the first full moon after the Autumn equinox. I did this with my dog, Rutgers. We gathered feathers, moss, sticks, leaves. We made a nest and I made a terra cotta "old crone" and placed her in. The plan was to, each evening, walk around the yard and gather one piece of flora or a feather or rock or such to place within the nest. We would do this until the next full moon. And, of course after each gathering, be reflective on what each gift meant.

This is a picture of Rutgers that our neighbor, Sue, took down by her dock. Rutgers was, by the way, a collie mix. A white collie mix. We had his mother, Sadie, also a collie. He came to us in her litter. She got pregnant when my brother had died and I was at my mother and father's house helping with funeral preparations. My neighbor, not Sue at that time, was watching her while I was away during the days and some of the nights. Sadie was only on her second heat, so I was just going to take her in, before the next heat, to get neutered - like a responsible pet owner. But, I have to say, Rutgers was born in our arms and died in our arms and he will be the most remarkable dog...

The died part is what leads me to tell this story. I started this project at a full moon to end it at another full moon. I didn't realize that the lesson on transiency was going to be as salient. But, alas, it was this lesson because Rutgers died before the next full moon, quickly, unexpectedly. 

However, because Tom and I know that our lives will be longer than the animals we choose to live with (except maybe the parrot), we are going to have many come in and leave through death's door before us. So, the house was way too empty after just two days, and we found another little one who needed a home. We met Masala and adopted him. He finished the project with me.

I have some of Rutger's hair in the stuffing of the old doll and some of Masala's. So, this was my "'Chasing the Light" project I attempted after seeing Brandenburg's documentary and I haven't tried another. Until now, with Wandering Moments. A kind of 'thoughts and images' to round out the day.

This is the project. I keep it still as a reminder.

The other link I have set up is Surf Widow and I probably will change the name of that as time goes on, but for now Tom likes it and I can't think of another. If you have suggestions, please let me know. I set up the link with Jerry Lopez. That is Tom's surf Hero!! If I get a telescopic lens I'll be able to get some pictures. As of now, I don't have one. Maybe after Christmas sales....  I thought this would be a way for Tom and I to get out to the beach more. Especially since he's working every day and has call on one or two weekend days a month. And, now I have two mornings off a week. It's just hard to get up to get to the beach so early with the dawn patrol. But I'll try. The telescopic lens will be great for taking out on little hikes/walks as well. Time will tell.

Have a very peaceful evening.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter's Solstice


"Solstice" comes from two Latin words: sol (meaning sun) and sistere (to cause to stand still).

I have decorated the tree with lights and cloth birds and small glass silver balls. Also red bows! 

The cedar tree is still young and is all prickly; it leaves little scratches on my arms as I reach in to string the lights. There is only one small strand of lights on the tree. That's enough, don't you think? It smells so good.

The one we have brought into the house over the last few years has gotten too big. Last year it's roots have broken through the bottom of the clay pot. We moved it into the herb garden a month ago, and decided it was to stay there. We will plant it into the ground once the winter is past.

So, this year, a new cedar has come to grace our house with greenery for the cold December day. Tom bought it from a local family nursery. He planted it in a terra-cotta pot. It is a little bigger than the size we have started out with in years past. It might not make it as a "coming in" tree for more than another two years. But, this year it is glorious!

I love the tradition of bringing greenery into the house. It is hard to truly imagine how cold and isolated and maybe fearful of the "light or Spring not returning" our ancestors might have been so long ago. I keep the tradition because I try to keep myself reminded that no matter how technologically advanced we become, we are of the Earth; our bodies are Earth. So, these little rituals are a simple, elegant connectedness to the natural world.

And, yeah, presents look really nice underneath it (the tree) as well!

I hope you have presents under your tree!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Golden Maple

The soul of the house becomes more reflective this time of year. It is meditative. The maples are the first to let me know. Well, actually, it was Autumn's light that was the first to tell of the need to change gears and settle back. To cook slow foods, put on Cd's in the evenings after work as I putter around doing chores, wander around the yard during the last of her light's glow in the evening to the final day's bidding of the cardinals.

But, to visibly see this soulful change in the Maple is always astounding. Sure, I see the color change of tree leaves as I travel along the highways. But, She is my maple. And, She is going into her meditation for the next few months. I will follow. I am a follower of nature.


Anything that is created must sooner or later die.
Enlightenment is permanent because we have not produced it; we have merely discovered it.
Chogyam Trungpa 


Let your love flow outward through the universe,
To its height, its depth, its broad extent,
A limitless love, without hatred or enmity.
Then as you stand or walk,
Sit or lie down,
As long as you are awake,
Strive for this with a one-pointed mind;
Your life will bring heaven to earth.
Sutta Nipata

I had to buy a new cedar for the house. Tom and I bring a potted live one in on the first day of Winter each year. The one we have brought in the last few years has gotten too big. It is retired to stay in the yard year round. After I decorate the new one, I'll take pictures and blog them.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Gift that Keeps on Giving

It's that time of year.

My sister and I were discussing what to get for my mother for a Christmas gift.
My mother lives in a nice retirement apartment "villa" complex. She enjoys sending notes to people on occasion: get well, especially.
We came up with the idea of buying note cards. But, I thought, with my love of collage, to make her a variety of cards to send. My mom is 87 so I thought some "vintage" prints would be fun to work with, as well as whimsical.

This is the set of cards.

A cute little note card set of robins; made from some tags.

These swallow note cards are also made from tags.

The following are examples of vintage "medicine remedy" or elixir ads that I have bought over the years on eBay auctions. I scanned them onto printable fabric.

This is how I put the together in presentation.

I hope she enjoys sending them to her friends.

I try to keep my pledge to make myself or purchase locally handmade presents and products.



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Heater Day

I'm home today. My DDD didn't like the long walk I had the other day. The cold weather plays havoc on the discs as well.

So, you don't think it gets cold in Florida.

Well, not as cold as in many parts of the world
right now, but look.

It is cold enough for this.

And, today it is even cold enough for this.

Actually, it is Kudra, the cat, who wouldn't get close to Emmett, the bird, if she wasn't cold enough to want the warmth of the heater.

No central air conditioning in the summer or heating in the winter. Life on the edge, close to nature, (except for the four floor heaters) here under the Florida maples......


Monday, December 13, 2010

Welaka State Forest

It was a beautiful afternoon for a walk.

We didn't take advantage of all the trails in the forest as we have in years past. The Sun was already slipping along the western slope of Sky so we had only enough time to make it to the St. John's River and back to the car. The St. Johns in this area opens wide You'll see in the pictures, later.

The forest is mixed between hammocks of hardwood (maples and oaks) and high sand ridges
with long leaf pine.

As you get closer to the river, the hardwoods grow.

The sun is also sliding along pretty fast....

It is a nice trail; twisting and turning until you come upon the river landing.

The wind was howling.

I tried to capture is visibly by the way it whipped the moss into a frenzy as it hung onto the trees.

Since we only had time to make it to this one landing, I took a few pictures. Again, this is where the St. Johns River gets wide. Not as wide as it does just a piece North in Jacksonville, but it is pretty wide here.

And, of course, I have to show you a photograph
of the knees, cypress knees. 

Time to get back.

The freshwater pond had Ibises on the walk up and on the way back had these, Sand Hill Cranes.

The Ibis flew from the pond as we approached some ways away. We could see why. Two bald Eagles, one mature, one immature were circling the pond.
My camera couldn't pick up the shot that far above.
I am going to get a zoom lens. It is going to be for the surf widow but will work for nature shots also!!

This shot didn't do so well on the camera without a zoom lens. Soon....

And, I always love the Trees.

This one with the bottom burned area looks like it is a frilly part of a fancy dress; with applique flower up the side. It has resurrection fern in the crook of the branches but that could be a little shawl.

Tom noticed this one. The face.

It looks like a bear asleep above a little doorway.
Or, curled up next to the tree?

Yes, we made it back just in time to have a sandwich and a mug of warm tea before dark.

Here is a link to Florida State Parks. There is a link to the Trail Walkers Program. Tom, Masala and I participated in it a few years ago. We received certificates and bandannas. I don't know if we will be able to participate in the next phase, Trail Blazers. But, we still love to visit the State Parks.



Sunday, December 12, 2010

On the Road - Welaka

During the last few days I have been embroiled in computer "health care." I had the hard drive on my Dell crash and had it "repaired," replaced all my programs (myself), hooked up my devices and then had the "motherboard" have problems that made it impossible to use my computer again. Anyway, I am now using an HP laptop. I am not going to spend three days on computer repair to have to do it again. I don't find that type of stuff fun. Some people do. I don't.

So, in honor of not having to spend anymore time uploading and downloading and connecting (except my printer on Monday when Epson's technical support department is available, because, of course I bought the printer that is not listed in the printers to connect) Tom, Masala and I went on a photography road trip to Welaka State Forest. The hike through the Welaka Forest leads to the St. Johns River.

So, on a blustery Sunday off we go. Worries behind us. Adventure paving the way north.

Most people don't think of Florida as having "leaf color." But we do. It is just later in the year.
Mostly in December.
I shot this picture headed north on I-95
around Daytona Beach.

Just a little bit further North, around Ormond Beach, are still some reminders of a fire that took place about two years ago. In Florida, going along any of the main interstates, this is a common site, varying degrees of decaying pine trees from previous fires.

It is actually a healthy forest site. A fire needs to take place periodically to clear out the underbrush. But,  all too often in Florida, fires start out of carelessness: cigarette butts thrown out a car window are the worse!

Isn't he Handsome!

Where was I?
Traveling along I-95 on my way to Welaka.

On the way we go through Crescent City.

It is an old Florida town.

This house looks like a little blue gingerbread house.

 These are houses along the way.

I shot them from the car.

I love the moss hanging in the tree.

Going past Crescent City, Hwy 17 leads into Palatka.
The Fern Capital.

With the cold weather we have had and the freeze that will come tonight, I am sure that everyone is hustling to pick the fern and or to keep the heaters on
to keep the freeze and frost at bay.

It is the bouquets for Valentine's day that the fern growers want to keep the ferns alive and fresh for.

Throughout the area, you see homes that have the ferns growing under oak canopies.

But, there are also the big operations, one or two in town, that have the ferns growing under the big tarps.

I'll share the pictures of Welaka State Forest and the St. John's River in the next post.

It is just great to be playing on the computer not having to be figuring out how to fix it!