Thursday, February 26, 2015

So, funny thing . . .

. . . I took a walk several weeks ago on one of our coastal birding trails.


as I was walking along, up ahead on the trail I spied this....
a very exotic species of coastal bird,

CHICKENS! (who knew)

Before I could get much closer, they retreated back into the brush.

But then ahead, just slightly around the corner I could hear them so I positioned myself in a spot that I could see them if they decided to come back out. I could hear them, and had been waiting for about 15-20 minutes?  Of course, right when they walk out and start feeding on some bird seed a couple with a stroller walk by and stop and start taking quite loudly and then ask me...."Are you a photographer".....yep, I am. And off run my subjects back into the wooded area.

(Now, I know they're just chickens, but they were beautiful and it's not a usual sight for me to see them here on the trail, so yeah I was kinda bent on getting some photos.)

It was a tad warm that day and I was carrying around my 70-200 lens which is pretty heavy and so I decided I would just climb up this little hill and sit down on the bench and rest for a moment. I hadn't sat down, literally for 30 seconds, when I hear a loud rustling from behind me, and this beautiful rooster comes barreling right over to me as if we're long lost friends. 

And wouldn't ya know, someone else walking in the opposite direction takes notice of this rooster about the exact same time and stops and starts asking me if this is my pet? Ummm, I didn't really know what to say, because, who takes their chicken for a walk? lol

Of course he high-tailed it right back where he came from, and I moved on.

I did however, see some real coastal birds on the trail....

This is an Osprey. a type of hawk, a large raptor (with a wingspan of 59-71 inches) whose diet mainly consists of live fish. They have unique barbed soles on the bottom of their feet to help them grip slippery fish. And are quite fun to watch dive for food.

I don't know all my hawks, but I think this one is a Red Shouldered Hawk (anyone?) There were quite a few that morning soaring the skies.

Then a nice woman told me there were whistling ducks (Black-bellied Whistling-Duck) ahead on the right. She wasn't kidding, there were several groups just like this one and you couldn't miss them for all the noise they were making. And yes, their call sounds just like a whistle. They have the most beautiful bright pink bills.

Finally, I got some in flight....

And then on my way back to the car, I spotted this White Egret. They aren't as keen on getting their pictures taken, but this guy was concentrating pretty hard on brunch to care that much.

It was a sun up to sun down kinda day....and on my way home, I had to make one more pit stop when I spied these guys on the side of the road in a field. I need a bumper sticker - don't follow too close, I make quick stops.

I should note that right across from the street is Galveston Bay....the best of both worlds. At least this time I didn't run into any wild boar...I'm not that fast a runner anymore!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, looks like the sun may appear here for a bit and then back to a week more of clouds and rain.

Love, Kim

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On spending the afternoon . . .

"I don't want to come to the end of my life
and find that I have just lived the length of it.
I want to have lived the width as well."

-Diane Ackerman

{KK 212}

Remember the story about the tortoise and the hare? How the hare laughed at the tortoise, who he said was too slow. How he bragged and bragged about how fast he could run....yep, that one.

Remember what a joke he thought the tortoise was for even challenging him to a race? And that the hare ran so fast that he left the tortoise behind, and how after half the race was over he got so confident that he stopped to play in the meadow and then took a nap?

Well, I think there is more to the moral of this story than "slow and steady wins the race."

Because, I don't believe life IS a race.

We live in a world so full of technology that we fool ourselves into thinking we can accomplish more than we do. It's simply an illusion.

We live in a world where "fast and furious" is prized. Where people live only for the next big "thing" that will make them happy. The next vacation, or car, or when they are debt free. For the next job promotion, or when they lose weight. We are an "if" and "when" society. If and when I do these things, and accomplish this or that, then I will be happy kind of society. The kind of society that thinks the more that's on the schedule, the faster you will get to your destination.

But life isn't really about the destination, it's about the journey . . . it's about all the moments we touch from here to there. There is no medal to be found in getting to the finish line first, and no points for big meadows (of course the meadow is a metaphor, because meadows are quite lovely). And just like the hare, when we go too fast we become delusional about our time, how much we have and what our goals really are. And, when we have completely exhausted ourselves by going so fast, we may even find ourselves fast asleep in between.

We buy into that thought that life is lived at the next pit stop. But life commences here, and now, taking advantage of all that surrounds us as we plod on ever so slowly.

When we go slow enough, we don't necessarily have to stop. We can take in the view, and reach out and touch everything. We can see things because the road isn't moving so fast.

And then we can say, 

"I owned ever second that this world could give . . . " - One Republic

It's a choice to spend an afternoon, one slow step after the other. It's also a choice not to.

Trying to be the tortoise,
Love, Kim

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It's coming soon . . .

. . . to a neighborhood near you!

"The Ladybug wears no disguises.
She is just what she advertises.
A speckled spectacle of spring,
A fashion statement on the wing . . . 
A miniature orange kite.
A tiny dot-to-dot delight."

- J. Patrick Lewis

I've been trying to make it to my nursery once a week to check on the flower inventory.
Been looking for poppies, anemone and or ranunculus, and the only one I've managed
to come across is the ranunculus. But they have been the really tiny ones and no
soft peachy pinks, my favorite.

But last week, I came across dozens upon dozens of ladybugs. Not sure if they put them
there or they found their way there. But I can say that there will positively be little
ladybug larva soon.

I was so enthralled by them I must have spent at least 45 minutes with my camera in
the same spot.  But boy oh boy can they move fast, which sure makes it tricky to get
them in focus.

I know most of you have had either bitter cold weather or have been buried in snow
this past week(s), and I just want to let you know that it won't be long...

. . . spring really is coming, I promise.
I know this because it happens every year without fail, and the tree pollen
has been off the chart here. I don't think I've ever had this much trouble with asthma before.

So, keep your eyes peeled, it may be subtle, but she's on her way.

Love, Kim

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"Thinking Out Loud" - Song-ography

. . .we found love right where we are

Over the weekend we decided to take a drive to see the college girl. After all what's a Valentine's Day celebration without the whole family?  

"Mount Bonnell" at 785 feet {miniature effect}

And at 785 feet it's one of the highest points in Austin. Now I know why I almost had a heart attack by the time I walked up all the stairs! And, I think it's safe to say that we probably picked the busiest day ever to climb to the top of this limestone rock.

You see, there is a legend in them hills . . . legend has it that a couple will fall in love on their first visit to Mount Bonnell, become engaged on their second visit, and marry on the third. And we did see a couple getting their engagement pictures done, with a sign that said . . . he stole her heart, so she stole his last name.

{KK 2810}
"Mount Bonnell, in miniature"

 And I do wonder how many people fell in love that night, and how many were engaged.

Just thinkin' out loud here . . . wondering if you've already fallen in love, been engaged and married (with kids) by the time you make your first trip to the top, do you get bonus years?
At the very least a gold star for climbing the stairs before you find out that there was
a much easier way to get up there besides straight up?

Yep, as a family, we not only found love, but lots of laughs, right where we were!
{Insert puffy heart here}

Love, Kim

P.S. I'm over at Focusing on Life today with some thoughts on what happens when my heart and
the mindfulness of a moment converge, and the crossroad when it does not.

sharing with Texture Tuesday, Song-ography, Sweet Shot Tuesday, Roses of Inspiration

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I can see clearly now . . .

"We have no right to ask when sorrow comes, "Why did
this happen to me?" unless we ask the same question for
every moment of happiness that comes our way."

- Author Unkown

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.
When you go to the sunrise without your tripod mount,
you make abstract images.

This was the Friday of the bad week I mentioned last week. My boy was home from school for the second time in a week because of an arthritis flare, which was making it difficult for him to walk.

I decided to head out to the sunrise for a little therapy, meditation, solitude . . . to one of my meeting places with God. Unlike me, He is never late. (stop laughing Michelle) ;)

When I made it to the top of the bridge I could see the sky was gorgeous. I parked and got out to get my tripod and realized I hadn't put my tripod mount on my camera. But when I went to fetch it out of my bag, it wasn't there. I could not find it anywhere . . . so instead of fight the slow shutter speed and bump my ISO into oblivion I just went with the flow...literally.... 

...until there was enough light to hand hold without (unintentional) camera blur.

This weeks song-ography is kinda perfect for my day . . . I can see clearly now, by Jimmy Cliff . . . 

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright, bright, sunshine day.

After the sunrise, I went to the nearby Starbucks for my usual Salted Caramel Mocha, and had intended to bring my journal and a photography book . . . which I also somehow managed to leave at home on my kitchen table. 

So I sat down with my overflowing coffee at a table, the only table left in between two other occupied tables. I was having a hard time that morning . . . some days are harder when you're managing a child with a chronic illness, and no 17 year old should have trouble walking because of arthritis. No 17 year old should have to tell his mom he feels old when he gets out of a car. So yeah, with this flare he had I was feeling really sad for him.

As I was sipping my coffee, the song "Hallelujah" started playing, and that's about all it took for me to lose it. As in, I had to go outside with my coffee because I couldn't cry quietly, because I didn't want to cry quietly. I wanted to scream . . . this, this isn't fair!

I quickly finished my coffee, took the mug back inside and preceded to take a very brisk walk on the boardwalk that overlooks the bay. I came to the railing and just stood there. I was feeling angry, and I'm pretty sure I used some curse words. It was a windy morning and as I was standing there watching the waves, suddenly I notice a huge rock, a boulder being pounded by the waves. Being completely engulfed in the water and then reappearing. 

And almost instantaneously I feel calmer, and get this urgent feeling to go back to the car and get my camera. I wanted to document this conversation I was having with God.

He was trying to remind me that when I try to stand alone there is no solid foundation. But when I put all my trust in Him, he will take the brunt of all the waves that crash in. He will hold me steady when I cannot stand on my own. 

{KK love}

The rest of the lyrics go like this . . . 

Oh yes, I can make it now the pain is gone.
All of the bad feelings have disappeared.
Here is the rainbow I've been praying for,
It's gonna be a bright, bright, sunshine day.

I can see clearly now . . . . as long as I keep my eyes (and ears) wide open to what He is telling me. Life is, always will be, full of adversity. And there is hope in overcoming it when our feet are standing on a firm foundation, and when we also question all the happy moments that come our way!

. . . when we choose to see the rainbow, and not the clouds. 

Love, Kim

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Thursday's little things . . .

"Let your life lightly dance on the edges
of time like dew on the tip of a leaf."

- Rabindranath Tagore

Several posts ago I talked about finding things that shimmer beneath
the surface, and well, on a foggy morning you won't need to go far.

One morning the fog was so thick you could see the droplets floating
in the air. So I grabbed my camera and headed over to the park. But the sun
had come out and it wasn't long before the fog lifted, and it didn't leave
until it left everything covered in dew.

As I entered the park there were a handful or two of deer grazing on the
grass from all the rain, and the younger ones were prancing around
playing tag.

I couldn't even get close to the taller waist high grasses because the fields were so soggy from
all the rain, and I was quickly sinking in mud. I'm adding mud boots to my wish list. And trust me,
I tried about all angles to get to that field...I could see the dew sparkling like diamonds, but it just wasn't going to happen.


So I did the next best thing ...I laid down on the sidewalk to get a bugs eye view.

And then I was mesmerized by this tree and its shadow.

Spanish moss anyone? The trees in this park are covered by this moss, and it's quite the sight.

Oh, and I have to share these with you . . . I have always wanted to photograph some fire ants,
but getting close enough is always a problem. If they feel the slightest vibration they are coming out of the nest to investigate and protect it, so being near one in the grass is a really bad idea.  

But we woke up one morning to find them building a nest at our back door stoop so I was able to lay down and watch them through my lens. Even though they pack a nasty sting they are fascinating to watch (yes, nerd alert!). Unfortunately, and even though I highly dislike chemicals, the bait we put on the nest is very localized. They take it back to the queen and when she dies, the mound dies. 

Notice those pinchers, which they use to hold on to you while they sting you with their back end. And I just don't know how something as small as an 1/8" can pack so much pain!

Hope you have a great day, don't forget to notice the little things
Love, Kim

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Flower therapy . . .

"Flowers seem intended for the solace
of ordinary humanity."

- John Ruskin

{both images edited with a subtle touch of KK avery}

Yes, flowers are always really good for therapy and they make great thank you's.

My boy hit a rough patch last week, then so did I. So a trip to the grocery
store was in order and that's where I found these cute little wax flowers. I've 
never seen them at our grocery story before so it was a nice surprise. And there was
enough in that $3.99 bunch to fill at least 3 different containers. I also picked up
some extra ones for my neighbor. She helped tutor my son in pre-cal since
his teacher has been absent for nearly two weeks and there was a test coming
up. She just so happens to be a math teacher and pre-cal is her favorite. And since she
did it for free, I thought she could use some flowers too. So grateful!

Have a good one, 
Love, Kim

P. S.- We have a new theme for the month over at Focusing on Life, and
you will find me over there musing on some word art.

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