184: Odds and ends

(Finch at the Cleveland Botanical Garden)

After a trip or a visit to a local attraction, I’m usually left with photos that just didn’t seem to fit into a post.  I think of them as odds and ends.  So, every now and then, I do an odds and ends post about nothing in particular.

(Chowing down.)

The problem, however, with a post about nothing in particular is that I have to come up with ways to insert some text in between the photos.  Well, okay.  I don’t have to.  But I like to.  To break things up a little.

I’m not sure what type of finches they have at the Cleveland Botanical Garden.  They have quite a few of them in the Rainforest of Costa Rica glasshouse.  They are cheerful little birds, willing to pose for a minute or two.

(A plant in the Spiny Desert of Madagascar glasshouse.  Cleveland Botanical Garden.)

It’s another cold day here in the Bogs.  The high today is supposed to be somewhere around 29.  It’s hard to believe that we’re near the end of March and it’s still this cold.  It’s also sunny and clear, something I’m trying to be grateful for.

A look at the 10-day forecast shows there is no warm-up in our near future.  Spring has been put on hold.  Or on ice.

I guess we’ll have to find other ways to keep warm.

Today's view of the pond

The swallows are back.  When I was out on my walk this afternoon they were swooping and swirling over the pond.  It looks like a flying dance to me.  I stood for a while and watched.  Every now and then one of them would swoop close to me, as if checking me out.  I suspect I am not nearly as entertaining to them as they are to me.

A terrible photo of one of the swallows

I tried to photograph them but they are so fast that it is nearly impossible.  I used to think the same of dragonflies until I learned they have flight patterns.  Perhaps the same is true for the swallows.  I’ll have to take the time to sit out there one day and watch.  It was too cold for that today.

Ice formation in one of the boggy spots at the back of the pond

Remember way back to November when I posted the first signs of ice here in the Bogs?  I couldn’t remember when it was, either, so I looked.  Here it is, the bones of winter post.  It seems like it was a long time ago.

Blowin' in the wind

I guess that’s about it from the Bogs for today.  I’ll leave you with a couple of warmer scenes to help those of us still dealing with the cold.

Walk through the door...

... and out on to the beach.


181: Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring

As you can tell from the post title, the Weekly Photo Challenge brought to us by The Daily Post is Spring.  Although winter still has a few tricks up its sleeve, the trees are starting to bud.  This photo is of the little fuzzy things on the old maple tree at the back of the pond.  It is a tree we are going to have to cut down eventually.  If a strong storm came along and knocked it over, roots and all, it could do some terrible damage to the dam of the pond.

(Springtime aura on the trees in the woods.)

The Answer

I forgot to give you all the answer to the mystery photo from my close up series.  Sorry about that.  Perhaps this will help:

It is a lobster.  Some of you were close with crab as your guess.  Good job.  🙂

Walking meditation

To find new things, take the path you took yesterday.  ~ John Burroughs

This morning, as I got caught up in trying to solve a problem with the computer, I briefly thought about how I could have spent that time meditating. Then I went on with what I was doing.

I thought about meditation again while I was out on my walk this afternoon, slowly making my way around the pond.

I am normally a fast walker.  It’s not a matter of wanting to get from point A to point B.  I usually walk fast because I see it as an opportunity to exercise, to raise my heart rate, to burn a few calories.  The camera, of course, often slows me down.  But in between the picture taking, I often hurry along as if I am late for something.

I’m not sure when it happened but, sometime since the start of my commitment to get outside every day, I slowed down.  Each step is taken with purpose, with awareness.  I no longer rush to get anywhere (or nowhere).

I arrive back at the house feeling the way I do after I’ve meditated.  That is to say, some days it’s good.  Some days it’s very good.  And other days, the monkey mind had its way and I’ll just have to try again tomorrow.

All walking is discovery.  On foot we take the time to see things whole.  ~ Hal Borland

I hear thunder rumbling in the distance.  I’ll take that as a sign I should wrap this up and move on to other things now.  We have a freezing rain advisory for tonight, but the predicted snow seems to have fallen off the radar.  Tomorrow, they say, will be sunny and cold.

179: Close up photography, vacation style

(Pelican hamming it up for the camera.)

When Scott first posted Assignment 12:  Close Up Photography, I was lucky enough to be in Florida where there was no snow, no ice, and plenty of color.

(Hibiscus in the sunlight)

My first thought, which might not be too surprising was:  Flowers!  There were, at the time (and still, no doubt), plenty of flowers blooming in Florida.  But as I walked along the beach I realized there are so many other things ready for their close ups.

(Do you know what this is?)

The rough winds and waves washed to shore a variety of things other than the usual shells and seaweed.  There were pieces of coral, both dead and alive, sponges, man ‘o wars, and even the guy pictured above.  (Figured it out yet?)

(Sea Fan Coral.)

I have a macro setting on my camera.  However, I don’t use it if I don’t have a tripod handy.  Or, in this case, if I’d rather not have my tripod washed away.  Most of the close ups I took on the beach were of things that were taken back out to sea almost as quickly as I could capture them with the camera.

(Dead coral.)

After a great deal of trial and error (because I still haven’t downloaded the manual for my camera, aka the easy way to learn), I found that the best way for me to get decent close ups with my camera when I’m not using a tripod is to put it on the action setting (which takes care of camera shake, to some degree) and zoom in on the object I want to photograph.

(Bits and pieces — shells and coral.)


If I want to get closer than the zoom allows, I crop and, if necessary, sharpen it up a bit.

(Red sea sponge (?) — cropped.)

(Red sea sponge (?) — cropped but not as much as in the previous photo.)

Someday I hope to have a camera that will allow me to try my hand (and eye) at true macro photography.  In the meantime, I am having fun experimenting with the equipment I have at hand.

(Man ‘O War tucked into some seaweed.)

Today’s Outdoor Adventures

You probably want to skip this part of the post if you’re just here for the photo assignment.  There won’t be much to see here anyhow.

Our weather here in the Bogs has reached that confusing, mixed-up stage we go through in spring (and in the fall).  One of the local weather people on television this morning announced, “Rain associated with a cold front moved through overnight.  The high today will be around 62.”

“Well,” I thought, “it wasn’t much of a cold front.”

She followed this announcement with the details for tomorrow’s forecast which included more rain, this time associated with a warm front.  The high will be 49.

Say what?

Seems to me that ought to be reversed.  But I’m not a meteorologist so what do I know?

Today I decided to skip the walk (since I spent time on the elliptical this morning).  Instead, I sat on the deck, soaked up some sun, and watched the grass grow.  Not very adventurous, I know.  But it was lovely, relaxing, and very meditative.

(One more man ‘o war.  Just because.)

175: Wearin’ O’ the Green

Since we don’t have a lot of green here in the Bogs yet, and since I won’t be posting photos of myself wearing the color, I thought I’d bring you a few more photos from Florida.  In honor of the day and all.  The parrots, as you can see, wear green really well.

After seeing them the first time, I went back every day to see if they were still there.  Much to my delight, they were.  There must be something in the palm trees that the birds were enjoying as they were digging in with gusto, and then chattering about it.

I should have tried to catch them near sunset as I think the lighting would have been better, but we never seemed to be over that way at that time of day.

Outdoor Adventures in the Bogs

It is warm and sunny here today.  I’ve opened up a few windows and doors, and put laundry out on the line to dry.  This is the first time this year I’ve hung it outside.

The joyful little crocuses were smiling up at the sun this morning.  They are probably happy that the sun has been providing with us with lots of light today, and some colorful sunsets once in a while.  I’ve almost missed the sunsets because the time change has had me a bit confused, but I think I’m finally adjusting to it.  It’s wonderful to have it light so late in the day.  I realize that probably isn’t going over well in the morning, when we have to wait a little later for sunrise, but that will work itself out eventually.

(Yesterday’s sunset.)

I think this next sunset is from a day or two after coming home.  It’s been sitting in the camera, waiting, while I uploaded and sorted through some of the Florida shots.

Here is a reflection of the same sunset on the pond:

I love the colors.

I started my spring cleaning today.  I’d like to say I got off to a great start but I had to waste part of my morning dealing with another malware attack.  Arrrgh!  That sort of stuff is so frustrating, especially the amount of time involved in getting things fixed.  This one was odd in that it hit me when I clicked on a link to a blog I’ve been following for a while.  I subscribe through email and I clicked on the email link to visit the blog post and, perhaps, leave a comment.  Now I’m worried that I won’t be able to continue to visit new blog posts this way.

Frustrating.  As is my so-called virus protection.  Symantec, I am disappointed in you.  I update you every day.  I run a quick scan every morning.  Your job is to keep malware out, yet you have failed me twice.  I think it may be time for us to part ways.  I’m moving on to someone new, who will (I hope) do the utmost to protect my computer from such attacks.

172: Scenes along the Intracoastal Waterway


Stop 1 (Shooter's)

Alternate title for this post is:  How the other half lives

I promised you some photos from our water taxi ride along the Intracoastal Waterway.  If you want more information about the Intracoastal Waterway, you can find it here.

Stop 1A (il Lugana Hotel)

The walk to where we caught the Water Taxi was about 2-1/2 miles from where we were staying.  Instead of walking there, we decided to catch the Pelican Hopper, a free shuttle service provided by Lauderdale By The Sea.  The bus runs until about 5pm so we knew we’d be walking back later that evening.  The driver dropped us off at Stop 1A when we told him we were taking the Water Taxi.  From there we walked down to Shooter’s where we had lunch, and caught the Water Taxi from there.

The food at Shooter’s, by the way, has always been consistently good.  We ate there twice last year so we knew we’d find something good on the menu and were unlikely to be disappointed.  Plus you can sit outside by the water and watch the yachts go by.

We did not see any manatees.  I was hoping we might, but I’m not sure what time of year they’re more likely to be seen in that area.

Man at work

We did see a lot of folks working, mostly gardeners and a few construction workers.  Although the housing boom (we were told) is over in Florida, there are still a few new McMansions going up along the waterway and rivers, some owned by foreclosure lawyers who have benefited greatly by the mortgage fiasco of the past few years.

Photographing the photographer?

Along with mega houses, the very rich also have yachts, sailboats, and plenty of interesting sculptures.  This one in particular caught my eye.  I’m not sure but it looks like it might be holding a camera.

"The White House of the Intracoastal Waterway"

The guides on the water taxis are very knowledgeable and entertaining, making the trip more than just a ride on the water.  We learned about some of the people who own the homes and yachts that are worth millions (and millions!).  There are a few celebrity owners, and some of the older homes were once owned by celebrities such as Burt Reynolds, Dinah Shore, Nick Nolte, and there is a little gray home once lived in by Vivien Leigh (of Gone With the Wind fame).  I liked the “old Florida” homes best.  They are a lot smaller than what people are building now.  Many of the old ones get torn down and replaced with a McMansion.

Yacht rumored to be Steven Speilberg's but rumors were not confirmed

I’m not a big fan of celebrity home tours or celebrity watching (couldn’t care less, really), but the guides did make it fun and interesting.  Our guide on the way back was particular funny, sometimes in a snarky sort of way.  I can appreciate good snark.

The clouds moved in...

... and the clouds moved out.

We took our water taxi ride on Friday while the wind was still blowing and gusting.  Near the coast, the wind was pretty bad, but on the waterway it didn’t seem nearly as gusty.

Wouldn't you like to live here?

The colors and landscaping were beautiful.

I played with the above photo and the next one in Photoshop, just for fun and giggles.

Later this week, when I have the time and have gone through more of the photos, I’ll bring you a few more scenes from along the waterway as well as part of Old Fort Lauderdale.

Today’s Outdoor Adventures

The sun has been shining down upon us here in the Bogs today.  It’s still a bit chilly (high of 37 degrees today), but the sun makes it feel so much warmer.  I actually went out and about without a hat or gloves.

Little bitty pretty one

The crocuses are really taking off now.  The little purple guys are spreading their joy all over the flower bed and beyond.

The tulips are looking good too.  If we don’t get a prolonged hard freeze over the next few weeks, there ought to be a riot of color out there when the bulbs all come into bloom.

I found a way into the woods and down to the creek that didn’t involve slipping and sliding in the mud.  Even so, there is plenty of slippery stuff to be found once down there.


I was surprised by how high and how fast the creek is running.  Water continues to drain into it from the pond and the various little streams that run down to it.  We’re expecting more rain tomorrow and Wednesday so I doubt it will be going down anytime soon.

Today's view of the pond

The pond is waking up.  I noticed when I was walking down there from the house that there were ripples appearing, a sure sign that the fish are becoming active.  I did see some tiny fish along the shoreline, but nothing more than a splash or a ripple from the bigger fish.  They tend to stay out of sight.

Floating near the shore

There are also all kinds of insects out and about.  The birds must be having a feast.  I saw a bluebird, his blues brilliant in the sunlight.  A red-winged blackbird stopped by the feeder.  And (I almost forgot!) I saw a great blue heron at the pond for the first time this season.

Things are starting to get pretty exciting out there.  🙂

170: Flight

Dancing on the beach

M and I are home.  Safe and relatively sound.  We traveled from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Nashville, Tennessee where we spent about 30 minutes before boarding another flight to Cleveland.  I am almost convinced the Universe wants me to fly as our flights were mostly smooth.  There was one big bump on the first leg of our journey that scared the heck out of me.  I am sorry to report that a noise grunted out in lieu of a terrified scream did escape me in spite of my efforts to control it.  I’ve never heard such a loud THUMP on a flight before (as if something hit the plane) and the fact that the pilot’s hurried announcement included an alarm sounding in the background was not a comfort.  Although the sound I made was not loud, I do wish I had refrained from making any sound at all because there were a couple of little girls seated nearby who were afraid of flying and I didn’t want to make things worse for them.  The flight attendants did such a great job of reassuring them at the beginning of the flight that they didn’t need some frightened old grandma making them scared again somewhere in the middle of it when they had relaxed.

Made for flight

I think it would be a wonderful thing to be able to board an airplane and act like all the normal people.  What is it like to take a seat, buckle up, have a conversation with a fellow traveler, read a book, eat a snack, sit back, and just relax while in flight?  Even the birds don’t have it that good.  As for me, I don’t relax on a flight.  Ever.  I tense, I grip, I do this weird OCD-like counting thing, and I keep the plane up in the air by sheer force of will.  If I relaxed and enjoyed myself, the plane might fall.

Kitesurfing on a windy day

During our first full day in Florida, while the winds were gusting at ridiculous speeds, there were a lot of kitesurfers (or kiteboarders) out taking full advantage of all that wind.

Sustained winds filling the windsock

As I watched and photographed some of the kitesurfers, I wondered if doing something like that might cure me of my fear of flying.

Up in the air

It looks like fun…


Flying through the waves

And good exercise as well.  It would also have an element of control.  Not complete control, of course, or I doubt the young guys out there flying around on their kiteboards would be much interested in the sport.  But there would certainly be a lot more personal control than there is when one is a passenger on an airplane.

It's easier if someone helps

So.  I’ve given up my secret.  It’s not being up in the air that bothers me half as much as the lack of control.  Should something go wrong, there is nothing I can do.  Gasp!  Worse yet, if I don’t like what’s going on during the flight, I can’t leave.  Not without a parachute, at any rate.  And can you imagine them letting me open a door to leave?  No, I think not.

I do like having my feet on the ground.  Or in the water and on the ground.  Giving me the name of a bird apparently didn’t inspire me to want to fly.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  There was a time, when I was much younger, when I did want to fly.  I almost joined the Air Force because I wanted to fly.

But life grounded me before I fully committed.   I did other things, and now I have this unexplained fear of flying that doesn’t seem to improve with experience.  Perhaps the Air Force is better off without me.

Coming into Cleveland, it was easy to see we were home.  It was cloudy with sloppy, half-melted snow on the ground.  We had a few quick sunny spells, but nothing worth donning sunglasses (or sunscreen…ha!).  It is warmer than I expected after viewing all the snow from above.  53 degrees on the drive home.

And now, after a good, long soak in the disco tub with the air jets going, chromotherapy lights flashing, and some bath salts labeled “Stress & Tension” (presumably the idea being they reduce stress and tension, not cause it), I’m relaxed and glad to be home.  It is, to me, one of the gifts of the fear of flying.  Instead of having post-vacation blues because I’ve reentered the cloudiness and sloppiness of the Bogs at the end of winter, I am grateful to be back on the ground.  Any ground.

Plus I get to sleep in my own bed tonight!

Palm tree and sunrise dreams

Having had to get up at 3:30 this morning, it’s gonna be an early night.  I’m just waiting for it to be at least close to late enough to fall into bed and off to sleep where I might, in my dreams, fly in a way that is fun.

169: Pictures of nature inside a camera*

Today's sunrise

After watching the sunrise this morning I turned on the television to watch one of those morning news programs.  And after seeing what happened in Japan, I don’t feel in the mood for the originally planned fun post.  I’ll save it for another day.

The beach at sunset yesterday

My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

The pier at sunset

Today was our last full day in Florida.  M and I are heading home tomorrow. We had amazing weather throughout most of our trip.  Today was no exception.

We’re going to the square (or whatever they call it) this evening.  They have live jazz music in the square on Friday evenings.  It will be a nice evening for it.

That’s about it from Florida.  I have tons of photos to go through so I’m sure you’ll be seeing and reading more about it in the weeks to come.  It will help keep me warm while we finish out winter.

Flying away

I’ll see you again from the Bogs.

*Another search engine term title.