November 18, 2015 – Odds n Ends

I said I was going to hunker down and get busy writing THE BOOK.  Well, I have. This past week (or more) I have been attempting to spend at least eight hours per day at the computer.  It’s a job. For the most part, I have been successful, but there are always little distractions.

I’ve been struggling with the approach.  Patricia, the editor, had encouraged me to write it as a series of essays.  She said to think about the themes in my logs and make each one a separate essay.  Many days I have sat down to do just that, but in the end I get frustrated because my stories gets fractured. I think I should stay chronological and let the themes intertwine and overlap as they do in life. The hard part about that is reducing or condensing my material into a modern (meaning short) book length. I’ve gone back and forth and not settled on either approach yet. What do you think?

We had three or four days of heavy rain and high wind, accompanied by thunder and lightning.  That was helpful for keeping me indoors. So, I’ve been reading my logs, rewriting, and augmenting so much that I wake up in the night and think I am in Big Creek.

Andy had done a good job of getting me to take breaks.  I took my camera with me when I went out to stretch my legs. Andy has started taking early morning walks and once or twice this week, I got out of bed to join him.

b Sunrise

We went to the yacht club for karaoke night.  Now, I admit that I’m a karaoke singing fool of the first order. Friend Chrissy took this picture of me singing with Dave Scott.  I guess I didn’t know the words too well; I was clearly focusing on the screen.  I did have a good time and, when I wasn’t up there singing, I was singing along with whoever else was up there.  My throat was raw the next day.

b Dinata Singing w Dave Scott

Here is the view out the front window in the RV park during one of the rainy days.

b View Out Front Window

The garden has been doing well with all the rain.  So far, everything so growing nicely. The basil is ready for some light harvesting and all the tomato plants have blossoms on them. I did pull the rotting coconut out of the square pot and plant some Hawaiian papaya seeds in there.  No sign of papaya trees yet.

b Garden is Growing

One of the reasons we bought a lot in this RV park is that we are about half a mile from the grocery store.  That gives us a good excuse to walk over a mile there and back. I took these pictures here in the RV park as we took a walk. I don’t know what kind of tree this is.  All the long skinny leaves hang straight down making a great background for a butterfly picture.

b Butterfly on Tree

Many of the palm trees have produced clusters of red fruit. Some people call them Christmas palms for the red color, but it could be an African Oil Palm.  I dunno. I do know that it is not a good idea to bite one.  Trust me.

b Palm Tree Fruit

I took the afternoon off work today and we went to Bahia Honda State Park for our walk. It was very windy, which made for surf on the beach.  That is unusual here with the reef a few miles off the islands. Our timing was impeccable and we got there a high tide, which means there was not much beach left to walk on. The high winds and high tide made it an exhilarating walk.

We always see these cone-shaped sponges on that beach, but today there were plenty of new fresh ones washed up.  If I didn’t live in a motorhome, I would figure out how to clean and dry one to turn it into a bowl, or maybe a lamp shade.

b Cone Sponges on Beach

The high winds had blown mounds of sea grass up onto the beach. A sign next to the beach entrance said not to move it because it is important to the beach ecosystem: protects the beach from erosion, has little shrimp-like critters to feed the birds, and fertilizes the shore plants.

b Grass on Beach

b Bird

This little group was hunkered down behind a mound of grass apparently trying to hide from the wind.

b Birds Hunkered Down Behind Beach Grass

An egret was fishing at the water’s edge.

b Egret on Shoal

I’m not sure why I was attracted to this dead tree.

b Log on Grass

I regularly take pictures of these two.

b Dead Trees on Beach

We went to the club again this evening for trivia night.  Our team did win one round, but with no help from me.  I surely don’t know my trivia, especially sports trivia. Tonight, the themes were sports, Thanksgiving, and veterans.  I could not even hazard a guess for most of the questions.

October 25, 2015 – Ocala, Florida and the Cosmos

Andy called me outside to witness the sunrise this morning, but by the time I put on some clothes and shoes, I missed the best of it.  I saw it out the window, but did not get the picture. Here is what I did get. The foreground is about as good as it gets in an RV parking lot.

b 00

We have been sitting in one place long enough for me to remember what day of the week it is. (That’s tough when you are retired!) I decided that we should drive up to Ocala for the Friends meeting. They are not an official meeting, but a small group that worships in the home of Larry and Ellie.  We went there a few years ago and enjoyed the fellowship.

We got to the house about 15 minutes before eleven.  There were no other cars in the driveway, but we have learned in the past that many Quakers get there a minute or two late.  I was smitten with the flowers as soon as I got out of the car.  They are seven or ten feet tall!  The orange and yellow was electric in the morning sun and dappled shade!  I started taking pictures of the blossoms.

b 22

Perhaps I should have called ahead.  Sometimes home worship groups can vary their time and place of meeting.  We rang the bell and Larry answered the door. They had children, grandchildren, and a great grandson visiting.  Everyone else had gone to the park.  Uh oh. He insisted that we come in and wait while he went to the park to get them so I went back outside to take more pictures of the flowers.

b 16

The more pictures I took, the more excited I became.  “Each one has its own personality!” Andy was not so moved.  “Look at the sun through this one!” I didn’t even elicit a grunt.  Andy thought we should leave so as not to inconvenience the family. He finally convinced me just when the family returned. Ellie told us that on the fourth first day, other members of the group to go the Gainesville meeting.

It did turn into a meeting, but not a silent worship we Quakers are accustomed to.  We sat around the table with three generations of Claytons and talked. At noon, Ellie and her daughter-in-law visiting from Texas got up and made lunch.  Then we sat for another hour telling stories and simply chatting. At first we felt a bit awkward, but they continually told us how happy they were that we came and what a pleasure it was to see us. By the time we left, we really believed it.

Larry mentioned that he is 89 and a Korean War vet.  He and Andy talked about being in the military.

Their son Paul keeps his sailboat on the Neuse River and gave me his blog address. We got to talk about boating.

Ellie also works diligently on her blog about William Blake.  She showed me her library of books by and about him.  I confess ignorance here, so I looked him up when I got home. William Blake (1757 to 1827) was an English poet, artist, and engraver. I love Wikipedia! I did not find out how Ellie came to study him. Her blog is William Blake: Religion and Psychology.

As I said, it was not a Quaker meeting, but was a delightful visit.

And, oh the cosmos!  That was my spiritual awakening this morning. These were so tall that I wasn’t sure they were cosmos.  The ones I grew in my garden were only two or tree feet high, and pink. I had to coin a new word for the experience: photogasm. I couldn’t find it in Merriam Webster, so it is my word. Then I decided the word should be florigasm and coined that one too. You don’t need to credit me if you decide to use either of them in a sentence.

How many flower pictures can you stand to look at in one sitting?

b 2

Here is the underside of a cosmos.  Who knew?

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This butterfly on a cosmos might be my favorite picture.

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Bee on a cosmos is my best bee-and-flower shot yet.

b 13

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The cosmos in the shade were a deeper orange.

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This cosmos was so high in the sky I had to use a lot of zoom to take its portrait.

b Cosmos 1

I probably could have stayed there for hours and taken a picture of each bloom.





October 11, 2015 – Alligator Lake Park, Lake City, Florida

We had a wonderful walk today.  One of the nicest ever. Alligator Lake Park is a county park right in Lake City. It is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. We chose the three-mile Montgomery Trail, which is on a dike around and through the lake.  The lake had been diked and drained in the 1950s for agriculture.

I have tried to keep my photos in the order taken. I took about 235 pictures today, so this is just a small sample of the park experience. This is the beginning of the trail, just past the trail head sign.

b01 Beginning of Montgomery Trail

This is my first glimpse of the water from the trail.  It looks like Monet took the picture.  The photo did not turn our weird, that is exactly how it looks.

b02 Water Scene

As the trail rounded a curve, it became a grassy lawn. It was grassy most of the three miles.

b03 Path on Dike

There was water on both sides, but it took me a while to realize that we were walking on a dike. My turtle picture did not turn out too sharp.  A lot of the pictures were a bit fuzzy today.  I think the camera had trouble focusing, because the background was always so busy. I am a snapshooter and don’t mess with the camera settings, but I really should learn to use the manual focus. He is a big guy.

b04 Turtle

This is a snowy egret, a bit out of focus as well.


It was a pretty day, but mostly cloudy. Here, we wee approaching a bridge.

b06 Bridge

The landscape was full of these tiny Morning Glories.  They were only about and inch or two across.

b07 Tiny Morning Glories

Here are a couple views of the open water/marsh.

b08 Lake View

I think I took this one from that bridge.

b09 Lake from Bridge

Butterflies were everywhere, fluttering all around us. This one is a Gulf Fritillary.

b10 Orange and Black Butterfly

We got a laugh out of this Tiger Swallowtail inside a blossom.

b11 Butterfly in Flower

I don’t think I have seen one of these before.  Google Images tells me it is a Cloudless Sulphur.

b12 Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly

Zebra Wings always flitter around so fast that I have a hard time getting a picture of one. This one cooperated for me. I had never noticed the red dots along the body on the underside of the wing before.

b13 Zebra Wing Butterfly

I thought this was a moth, but found it with Google Images.  It is a Buckeye Butterfly.  I suppose it is from Ohio.

b14 Buckeye Butterfly

Here is another Snowy Egret standing on a clump of grass out in the water.

b15 Snowy Egret


We are a long way from the Everglades, so I was surprised to see Anhingas here.  This is a female.  You can tell by the brown neck and head; males are all black and with white marking on the back.

b16 Anhinga Female

I liked this little island of small cypress trees.  Notice all the water lillies in front of them.

b17 Cypress Trees and Water Lillies

We were walking along and minding our own business when suddenly this huge Great Blue Heron flapped and squawked out of the tree next to us.  It landed just a few yards away, up to its belly in the water.  I said we were just as startled my the heron as it was by us.  Andy thought that knowledge would be of little comfort to the heron.

b18 Startled Great Blue Heron

There were thousands of water lillies on the lake, but I did not get a single picture in sharp focus.  This may be one of the best.

b18 Water Lillies

We came across another Great Blue Heron a bit farther along.  This one was not bothered by us. I just love those red thighs.

b19 Great Blue Heron

Here is another snap of the trail.

b20 Trail

We came to a second bridge.

b21 Arched Bridge

Here is an Ibis sitting in a cypress tree.

b22 Ibis in Cypress Tree

A bit past that bridge, we saw a genuine swamp on the right side.

b23 Swamp

It is beautiful, in a swampy kind of way.

b24 Swamp 2

One more Snowy Egret with the yellow feet showing.

b25 Snowy Egret

After the swamp, we left the water’s edge and walked through a bit of marshy forest.  Before long, we got back to the playground and pavilion where we had parked the car.  The parking lot was full and there were several picnics in progress.  The playground was covered in children. There is also a large, screened in pavilion.

b26 Screened Pavilion

Despite the name of Alligator Lake, we did not see a single alligator today.