Friday, July 30, 2010

Strange Offering

While I was at the beach this morning, I noticed two people.  One was a thin black man with dreadlocks down to the back of his knees.  He was swimming and exercising and you could see he was LOVING the water.  I was not too far from him with my mask, snorkel and camera and one time we made eye contact, we smiled.  

Later, I noticed him by the entrance to the beach where the fresh water shower was.  He was washing his dreads with shampoo.  Later, he dried his hair by holding it in a pony tail and twirling it around over his head very fast.  I thought all this was interesting.  I think if I was black, I would have dreadlocks - it is the most natural way to wear their hair.  It keeps it soft and natural looking - and you can keep them nice and clean and neat looking.  Anyway, when I was leaving, he was down the walkway almost to the street and he had stopped to put some sort of cream or conditioner on his scalp.  As I passed him I turned and wished him a great day - and he said, "same to you, mommy", which I loved.   Must be a Jamaican slang thing - it was lovely.  

Last week in church, the man who sits behind us every week - he is an older man and he always wears a suit - when it was time for us to greet each other, I shook his hand and he said, "Mornin', darlin'."  Aw shucks - I just melted.  My husband was next to me and chuckled because he knows I'm susceptible to things like that, when they are natural and unstudied.  I could tell that was just the way this gentleman spoke - lovely.

There was another person at the beach that caught my attention.  It was a young, attractive black woman.  She had shoulder length hair and she was fully dressed in jean shorts and a nice shirt.  She was standing knee deep in the water and there was a large yellow envelope clutched under her left arm, against her side.  She was there for a while - I wondered why she didn't have a bathing suit on and thought she was taking a break before going to work, enjoying the beach.

Then I noticed her leaving, walking over the path to the street.  As I turned to face the water, there was the yellow envelope floating on the water.  She never turned around again and she was way too far for me to yell.  I went up to the envelope to see if there was anything in it - perhaps it was garbage and she had dropped it unknowingly.  I picked it up - most of it was still dry, but the parts that were wet were disintegrating already.  It had something heavy in it at the bottom.  She was gone and I was curious, so I poked at it until it opened.

Inside were 3 half hamburger buns, some firebush flowers and a bright orange flower of a bush I couldn't identify, both of which she must have picked at the entrance to the beach, because I saw those bushes too, as they were full of butterflies.  Also, there was a fresh egg (I broke it - it was not hard boiled) and some powder that fell to the sand under the water - I didn't touch it since I didn't know what it was and it was too late now to identify it.  I took a picture of what floated and I realized it was some sort of offering.  There are a lot of Caribbean Island people here and so there is some Santeria and Voodoo stuff, but I had never witnessed anything before.  Fascinating.

You can see the hamburger buns floating on the water with the two flowers.  The egg sunk immediately, so it's not in the picture.  

Later, I was swimming and snorkeling and I noticed something bright white under the water.  I put my mask under the water and saw that it was paper.  I picked it up and saw that it had come from the yellow envelope also.  It was written on with ink that won't run in water, so I took it up to my towel and dried it off.  Here it is:

It seems this woman was praying in this fashion for family members - I have to Google "high priest of the seven depts" and see what I get.  (I Googled it and got nothing - I have no idea what this is). Click on image to make it larger, so you can read it.

I don't know this "high priest" guy, but I do know Jesus Christ, so I will keep this paper and pray every day for this woman and her family.  Perhaps good things WILL come to her and, if she doesn't know Jesus Christ, I will pray especially for that.  

Ocean Photos

 Up and over the walkway from the street to the ocean......

Follow the light........

Ahhhhh - there's the ocean.......

I splurged recently and purchased a small point and shoot camera that will take pictures under water.  This morning I went to the beach and snorkeled (read floated about 5 feet from the edge of the water with mask and snorkel) and used my new camera. I am always afraid of sharks, so I never totally relax, but I still enjoy the beauty anyway.

I took the day off today - and it is a BEAUTIFUL day.  Summer is the best time for the beach even in South Florida.  It is nice and warm - about 85 degrees F.  As my husband says, morning is the best time - he doesn't like to go to the beach in the evening after everyone has been there all day.  I've done both and I agree.  The sand is pristine in the morning, there are few people and the water seems cleaner and clearer.  At around 9:30am there were no waves and the water was crystal clear.   I don't consider going in the middle of the day - the sun is too hot and I'm too old to be getting a suntan.  I have to protect my skin from the harsh Florida sun.
As soon as I put on the mask and snorkel and peeked under water I could see without distortion, and I was surprised to see the little white fish swimming everywhere.  You can't see them from above water because they blend right into the sand.  

I saw 2 types of fish.  One was a longer, narrower white fish, some with a black dot over their eye:

The fish above doesn't show the black spot over the eye - maybe it's just a water distortion thing....

And now for the "Lil Nibblers".  I was floating serenely in the water, when I felt a pinch on my thigh.  Ever mindful of sharks, I freaked out and jumped up to a standing position, ripped off my mask and snorkel - and saw......nothing.  I'm convinced it's the little piranha looking fish below that were nibbling on me.  When I stood absolutely still I could see them swimming close to my legs and occasionally, I'd feel a......nibble.  

These lil nibblers seemed to like the camera and my hair.  They must have thought my hair was seaweed because they would swim quite close to it, and they must have wondered what the camera was.  They were rather fearless.  It's hard to tell the size of both the fish above, but they are both about 2 to 3" long - tiny, actually.  

A few times a whole school of greenish fish would swim by, but it only happened when I was standing and I could not get back into the water fast enough to take their picture.    Tomorrow I'll try again.

Last weekend, I tried the camera for the first time, but in the evening.  I got the following pictures - the water was not calm at all - pretty rough, so I got some frothy water and that's about it

Above you can see the white waves from last week.  They don't look like much, but it was nothing like this morning.  The water was like a swimming pool it was so calm - SO beautiful and relaxing.

Oh - here's me underwater......
One more thing - I found this guy (rest in peace) with just his claws sticking out of the sand.  Of course, I poked at the claws, but he didn't move, so I dug him out.

It was a deceased crab - I wonder what happened, or perhaps it's just the shell and the crab has moved to a larger shell?  I don't know if crabs do that, so here is his pic, anyway.  I brought him home and am trying to dry the thing to preserve it.  We'll see if that works, or if it smells and has to be discarded.  What - strange?  Me?  Yeah - I admit it.  I'm a nerd.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I just finished one more of Bess Streeter Aldrich's books - "A Lantern in Her Hand".  This is the prequel (only to me because I read the latter book first) to "A White Bird Flying", the story of the settling of the Nebraska prairie  which follows Abbie Mackenzie Deal, from her childhood to her death. 

One of the repeated ideas throughout the story is that you cannot stop the clock.  Time is like a wind blowing and it takes you where it will.  It will not stop even for a moment so you can think, just think without being rushed and pushed.  At many pivotal events in Abbie's life, she wants to stop the clock for just a moment to decide if where events are leading is what she wants, and, of course, she cannot - none of us can do that. 

The relentlessness of time has always been a painful fact to me.  In the diary my mother gave me for Christmas when I was 15 years old, I wrote on the opening page, wondering what I'd be doing in 20 years from that moment, a hopelessly long time away, I thought.  I described the sounds of the clock in the kitchen, the night winter cold outside my bedroom windows and wondered where I'd be when I was 35.  I am now 54 and time just keeps going faster and faster. 

The one thing that bothered me a bit about this story is that none of Abbie's children seem to appreciate her as they should.  They seem somewhat selfish as they become adults and follow their dreams, dreams that Abbie had to forego for herself because, between children and trying to survive in a new land, there was never time or money to pursue them.  Young, pre-marriage Abbie has a beautiful singing voice and cannot get enough information about her legendary, aristocratic ancestor, Isabella, from Scotland.  She promises herself that she will accomplish great things and her chief daydream is to slip off to a private knoll and pretend she is performing for a vast audience.  The real outcome of her life's choices is quite different.

I would have liked to see at least one of Abbie's children hold her in reverence, want to hear her settlement days stories, not think she is just old fashioned and that her reminiscences have no value.  Luckily, her granddaughter, Laura, makes up for the other disappointments.  She and her grandmother are soul mates, in a way, and Laura is a balm to Abbie's soul in her last few years. 

The writing, as usual, is lyrical and lovely, almost painfully beautiful.   I find that my own thinking is much like that of the main character, Abbie, and I have to say, for myself, that I cannot just read a string of Bess Streeter Aldrich books one after the other.  They are so emotional and so much like my own painful reflections about time that I have to put the book down and seek something cheerful to take my mind off the brevity of life as accurately portrayed in the stories.

I'm prone to sadness anyway, so, as beautiful as Bess Streeter Aldrich's books are, I have to take them in between doses of, say, Grace Livingston Hill or other light fluff where there is a happy ending.  I don't think everyone will have the same reaction as I do - her books were best sellers when they first came out, and one of them, "Miss Bishop", was made into a movie in 1941 called, "Cheers for Miss Bishop", many parts of which could be termed, "tear jerker".  The movie does capture some of the luminescence of the book. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Photos After a Tropical Storm

Tropical Storm Bonnie came through here today.  It rained very hard for a few cozy hours.  My husband and I had taken the day off and we ran a few errands in the rain and then came home and snoozed in the comfortable A/C as it blew and the rain splashed outside.

After the storm passed, which happened by the late afternoon, the birds and butterflies came out en masse as if to make up for lost time.  Here are a few pictures:

OK - so the yachts aren't in my backyard.  This is from last weekend when hubby and I drove down past Las Olas Blvd toward the beach.  I played with the Photoshop options.

The mushrooms/fungi above are growing on some dead logs in our backyard.  I like the textures and colors of the rotting wood and the fungi.

Above are two pictures of  some sort of Cloudless Sulphur butterfly.

Mr. (or Mrs.) Squirrel is chewing on some multigrain flatbread from a Starbucks sampler that also included fruit and cheese.  He really liked the bread.

Above - a nameless Skipper type butterfly. 

Above is an absolute thrill for me.  I've been trying to get Atala butterflies in my yard for a few years.  Their larval plant is a Florida native plant called Coontie.  It's expensive and, out of three I've purchased, only one has survived and thrived.  One is not enough.  However, I have lots of nectar plants and I have seen an Atala in my yard two times before, but had no camera handy.  The Atala is a native Florida butterfly that is endangered because of the lack of Coontie.  They are a type of Hairstreak butterfly - and they are SO beautiful, as you can see.  Today, after the storm, my husband and I were venturing out into the nether regions of the back yard, back behind and under tall bushes - and there he was.  At first he was facing away from me, but then he turned to look.  By the time hubby came by to see, he had flown away.  I was so thrilled to see him in my yard - I hope he brings his friends!!

My Crape Myrtle is blooming - it is clouds of lavender and yellow flowers - so lovely and very lightly fragrant.

The fellow above was on a weed that I won't remove because the bees and butterflies LOVE it.  Isn't he beautiful?  I'm not sure if he is a bee or a fly, but I know he is iridescent green!

Above - three views of a Gulf Fritillary butterfly.  Don't his underwings look a bit like stained glass?
Above is a Julia butterfly.
Above is a Zebra Longwing on Lantana.  Below I managed to catch him in flight.
It was a lovely afternoon after a stormy day.  We also saw a red winged blackbird and his wife in our yard.  That species does exist in South Florida all year round, but they only arrive in our yard (a non-marshy environment) in the winter.  It looks like, even though it is only the end of July, the "early migrant" birds from up north are beginning to arrive.  By late August and early September, it will be exciting to see if any land for a respite on one of our bushes or feeders.  If I could, I'd advertise in the Birdie Papers, but I fear there is no such thing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Last Night's Dreams

I have plenty of dreams I don't want to remember, but every once in a while I have a dream that is wonderful.  Last night I dreamt that we were at my husband's brother's house.  We were out in the Northwest and it was beautiful.  It was Christmas and my sister in law had decorated everything on their land with lights and Advent figures - it was breathtaking.  She was also preparing a feast and it was, evidently, a community gathering so that there were people all dressed up milling everywhere.  It was such a festive atmosphere, with children in their best Christmas clothing romping around outside.  My SIL was very very busy - she was setting tables and delivering dishes full of steaming food and so I trailed behind her assisting where I could and where she needed.  There was even a local TV person there who had written a play that included a game with the audience. 

Back in reality - after I woke up, stumbled to my chair with coffee, I fell back asleep as I often do.  I had a quick dream that my daughter was a child again and I was back from the Northwest.  My husband was at work and I put the Christmas tree I had come home with out on the back porch.  There were several trees out there already and it was windy, so I thought I'd go up in the attic and bring down the Christmas lights so as to brighten it all up - and to hold it all together against the wind. 

The attic was what I remembered from my childhood home.  It was a fold down stairway from the door in the ceiling in the hallway.  In real life I loved going up in that attic to look at the things of the past.  In my dream I was pulling boxes and bags, finding silverware and jewelry, books, toys - it was stuffed with goodies.  I pulled everything down in an effort to get to the Christmas lights and at that point, the dream became a garage sale.  Suddenly I was handing boxes and bags down to some workmen.  There was a mouse in one of them and it escaped, which worried me, but I kept on working.  My daughter was helping and more and more people were looking through things and buying.  By the end of the dream, it was the size of a huge flea market and people had evidently volunteered to take money for me, which I was collecting.  Some things I decided to keep and most I was selling.  I was anticipating quite a haul when I woke up again and decided it was time to get ready for work.

I often have dreams where either or both of two things happen:
I'm in the basement or storage area of a home or shop and I know I can have anything I want.  There are beautiful old bureaus and breakfronts and etageres and wardrobes full of old clothing, books, jewelry, letters, photos.  As I open each drawer or door there are wonderful treasures for me to go through, learn about, and which I can take home if I wish.  This is a WONDERFUL dream.  I love finding other people's discarded treasures of all kinds, especially books, letters and photos.

This is a variation on the above scenario and oftens ends with me going through what I have found.  This is also a FABULOUS dream for me.  I'm in a very familiar house, perhaps my grandmother's in Saratoga Springs or even my own, and suddenly I see a door that I had never noticed before.  I walk through the door and there is an entire portion of the house I never knew existed.  It is beautfully furnished and a bit dusty to indicate that it's been empty for a long time.  I begin to investigate and go through drawers and cabinets, etc., just as above.  I can't tell you how wonderful the feeling is when I suddenly notice a door that's never been there, open it and see before me rooms and rooms that I never knew existed in a house I've been in and thought I knew completely.  It is always full of treasures from the past.  I take notice of pictures on the wall, doilies on chairs, the colors of everything, window views to the outside world - everything.

When I have these dreams I wake up feeling calm and comforted - and I'd REALLY like to go back to sleep so I can get back to treasures!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Diary From 1968

In 1968 I was finishing 7th grade at my local Parochial school that went from 1st to 8th grade. In the fall of 1968 I went to an advanced 8th grade class at a Catholic High School.

During the last half of 7th grade, I used a Peanuts calendar to keep a daily diary. Reading this is both embarrassing and very very funny. If a boy looked at me for 30 seconds, I absolutely LOVED him. I read Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart romances and got all my ideas about relationships with men from them. Not good, really. There are a few memories that are quite vague - and I wondered if they really happened, but I wrote about them in this calendar, so they did happen. One event was that my father passed out in the kitchen one morning. All I wrote was that "Dad went unconscious this morning! My God!" After that it was all Dennis O'Sullivan again and how I knew he liked me, but then again he liked some other girl and I was broken hearted, etc. etc. ad nauseum. I asked my mother about what happened to my father that day not too long ago and she barely remembered it. He was fine after that, but I know he was going through some mental issues and, come to think of it, his mother (my Nana) had passed away the previous summer. I'm sure that must have hit him very hard. She wasn't ill - she died of a heart attack in a diner over breakfast. Want to hear something silly? Last summer I visited my sister in New York State and we went up to Saratoga Springs, where my father was born. The diner - The Saratogian - is still there and still doing business. My sister and I had breakfast there and talked about Nana and Grandpa (a more dysfunctional couple would be very hard to find). It was odd to eat breakfast in the same diner where, 42 years earlier, my grandmother had passed away. She had a weak heart because of childhood Scarlet Fever and my grandfather did not make things easier for her.

Anywho, back to the diary-calendar. My sister, Nancy came home from college frequently and when she did, she shared my room. I hated it when she came home and couldn't wait for her to leave. Nice. The funniest entry in the calendar? In February, 1968, I went over to a friend's house. This is the entry for that date:

"I went over to MP's today after school. We jumped up and down on her bed, made gloppy hamburger, turned out the lights in the house when it got dark and ran in and out of the house. What fun!!"

This is what we did before electronic games and computers. Obviously her parents were not home. It gets dark early in February in upstate New York - around 4:30pm to 5pm, so her parents just weren't home from work yet and we had the run of the house to ourselves. I actually remember that visit. I remember that MP kept moving often. This was a rental house that is no longer there. Next, she moved to a very old house on a dirt road in the boonies. It was wonderful!! They owned that house. It had a secret door in the paneling in the dining room. We surmised that it was probably used for the Underground Railroad, since the house was built in the early 1800's. The visit in February of 1968 at the rental house was interesting in that we could not figure out how to cook noodles. We tried putting them in a pan and letting the pan get hot, but added no water. Obviously that did not work. I was 12 years old and was totally clueless in oh, so many ways.

My mother and father were both teachers and they were always very involved in their own lives. Looking back, I realize they paid very little attention to us at all. The world was a safer place in the little town I grew up in, but I was hopelessly boy crazy and I sure needed guidance. It does help me to see a bit clearer how I got from there to here, so many years later.

And reading my past exciting 12 year old life is pretty darn funny, except when I'm panting over Dennis or Mike or Pete.......geez, I'd like to go back and have a talk with that silly girl!!

Birdie Sonata

I found this video at one of the blogs I link to - Tennessee Farm Girl.

And on a lighter note, one of my favorite bird animations ever:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

New Authors I've Discovered

I've discovered two new very old authors.  That doesn't make sense, but it really does.  I'm much more partial to the ideals and virtues of the past, and so my two new favorite authors are long passed on, having written a long time ago.  One is Elizabeth Goudge, who, through her characters that feel things more deeply than others perhaps, has given me permission to do the same.  I've been overly sentimental and very inwardly emotional, leaning toward the sad and melancholy, all of my life.  In Elizabeth Goudge, I've found someone who understands that and whose characters are unabashedly, even proudly, very sensitive.  In "The Bird in the Tree", young Ben feels an ache for the unplanted, vagrant corn that grows each year as a result of a shipwreck many years before.  The ship was loaded with grain and ran aground and broke up in a marsh.  Since then, every year, scraggly, stunted corn - unloved and unharvested - grows in the marsh.  Ben aches for the unwanted and untended corn.  I understand that and feel those things a hundred times a day.  I'm sure other people do, too, but in these days of sarcasm and the deriding of all things lovely or sacred or romantic, it goes unmentioned.

I have more books by Elizabeth Goudge to read and, while waiting for those to be delivered, I found a Midwestern author of the 1920's-1950's that sounded intriguing.  So to I went and found a few old hardbacks for about $1.00 apiece - the shipping was the expensive part at $3.99 a book.  The first book was "The Rim of the Prairie", a lovely title that brings to mind the endless expanse of the prairie grasses and the big blue bowl of the sky over it all.  

I have to say that I love Bess Streeter Aldrich even more than Elizabeth Goudge.  Bess Streeter Aldrich is all American, the America that I love and remember from my childhood.  The America of the Founding Fathers, of grit and determination, that settled the Western lands against all odds.  

Both women have Christian faith undergirding their writing, and this, to me, is priceless.  My faith is my strength and I will not waste my precious time with stories that denigrate or undermine Christianity.  Sometimes it is difficult to find a really excellent author, a truly talented writer, that is also Christian, but it can be done.  Brock and Bodie Thoene are a married couple who have collaborated on many wonderful, well written, based-on-truth, stories.  To sit down with a Thoene book is to laugh and cry and nod one's head in agreement.  I have two favorite series of theirs.  The first is the trilogy about Bodie's ancestors in Arkansas - "The Shiloh Legacy" series.  Their web site lists all their books.  My second favorite is "The Zion Covenant," which carries the reader from1920's Europe through WWII to the birth of Israel in 1948.  But I am only supposed to be talking about my two most recent favorite authors, so we'll leave a longer discussion of the Thoene's to another day.  

Bess Streeter Aldrich has that sense of great sadness caused by change, the memories of old people looking back to their youth.  She exhibits this in the elderly characters in each of the books I've read so far ("The Rim of the Prairie" and  "A White Bird Flying") - the first to break the virgin sod of the Great Plains of Nebraska in the 1870's.  When Bess Streeter Aldrich was writing, these people; these first settlers that lived in sod houses and stared at the endless expanse of shoulder high grass with no trees and dreamed of farms and rich soil, were the doddering elderly.  By the 1920's, the ox and wagon, the way of traveling across open prairie because there were no established roads, was a thing of the past.  By then there were cars speeding down paved roads followed by electricity and telephones.  The trip that took an entire day and night just to get to the nearest settlement now took an hour at most.  The men with their wives and children who carved out homes from the very sod itself, who conquered a land and forced crops to grow and farm animals to prosper and increase in spite of drought, blizzards and pestilential locusts, these are characters in the stories I've read so far that stand behind the main roles.  The young rise up and take the reins, and the old remember their youth.  In "A White Bird Flying", the central character is young Laura, a granddaughter of one of the original settlers of the Prairie.  But in the background, tap tap tapping his old cane along the sidewalk, delivering vegetables to various unwilling members of the community at inconvenient times in this modern world, comes old Uncle Oscar Lutz.  He visits every day with someone, settling down into a chair and regaling them with the same reminiscences that he has for the last 25 years since his wife, "Marthy" died.  People try to pretend they're not home, but Laura feels sorry for old Oscar, alone and left with only his memories.  Here is a sample:
"He laid a trembling hand against the bark, - one was as gnarled as the other.  He had a warm friendly feeling for the old tree, as though having been planted by him, it was born of his flesh and blood;  as though having come up through the years with him, it was one of the old crowd.  He and the old cottonwood, - the only two old settlers left.  All of the old cottonwoods had been replaced by newer trees, - all of the old settlers replaced by younger men."

Laura has to make a choice.  She and her recently deceased grandmother share an affinity for the written word, the lovely sound of poetry and the ability to feel deeply.  Laura could not bond with her own mother as she had with her grandmother, who had made the choice to marry and become a settler in a rough land rather than pursue her own writing.  Laura determines to fulfill her grandmother's dream of writing.  Laura will never marry.  I won't tell any more of the story.  It is obvious, though, that since I value traditional values and Bess Streeter Aldrich was a very traditional woman, Laura will make the right choice.  

The writing is beautiful, the descriptions poignant, earthy and, at the same time, spiritual and lofty.  Many times while I am reading, after an exceptionally powerful portion that resounds with truth, I have to stop for a few moments, look up and think about what I've just read.  How it applies to my own life, how I've thought that way before, how very true it all is, how this author is speaking to me, yet her human form is long left this earth.

When I finish one of Bess Streeter Aldrich's or Elizabeth Goudge's books, I read the last page, maybe read it again more slowly, and then I slowly close the back cover, sit back and just think about the characters, the pictures I have now forever in my mind of the characters and their world.  I've always said that Truth is Truth, and no matter where you find it, with God's help you'll recognize it.  I find truth in these author's stories, in the souls of the characters, and they resonate with the faith and Bible truth in my own soul.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Night Garden Photos

I went outside at 11:00pm - to my garden in South Florida.  It is SO warm and moist that, even without moving much at all, I am covered with sweat.  I can feel it dripping down the middle of my back where my spine is.  

I use a flashlight - even though I am a nature lover, I'm not crazy.  The last thing I want to do at night is walk through a spider web and imagine the owner is crawling around somewhere in my hair, or worse, near my neck.

I approach my bougainvillea and search for anything moving around at night.  I've seen baby possums before, cute as can be, but not tonight.  Not yet, anyway.  Maybe later, when I'm asleep.  

Suddenly, I notice a spider web, very typical, round shaped, several layers of "string".  Then I see the spider itself - it's HUGE.  Not as big as a Golden Silk spider, but sneakier because the Golden Silk is out all the time, day or night.  It doesn't feel the need to only come out at night.  This one, however, I've never seen before.  It's a Hentz's Orb Weaver.  
I ran in and retrieved my camera and tripod.  I even touched the web with my finger - and the spider got a little nervous.  He knew it wasn't food, he knew it was some dumb human with a flashlight bothering him.  I swished a few unsuspecting moths away and set up the tripod and camera.

I got a few photos, using flash.  After awhile, Mr. or Mrs. Hentz Orb Weaver became quite blase about my photography attempts, including my flashlight intrusion.  He/she became quite proud and made sure I got the full underside view, web spinner and all.  I'm SO glad I didn't walk through this one, but saw it and got to photograph it and not have to wonder where the heck it went. 

As a matter of fact. Mr./Mrs. Hentz Orb Weaver is still out there hoping for a late night snack - and no more silly humans intruding.   This spider is about 3" from end of leg to end of leg on opposite side.

Just so you know, I think I'm going back out in a little bit.  I haven't plumbed the total depths of my garden.  I know in one corner there are sleeping Zebra Long Winged butterflies - several hanging upside down in a sheltered area.  In the morning before the sun comes up, but it is light, you can see them all hanging there, waiting for the warmth of the sun.

Oh - and we have a one eyed Bufo frog.  There are a few of them that think the small water filled tub with fountain is their "spa", and they can always be found there.  I know they are invasive, but they eat Palmetto Bugs, and, as much of a nature lover as I am - I do NOT want those babies (Palmetto bugs, a.k.a., huge roaches) anywhere near my house.  Here's Mr. Bufo - he loves eating flies.  I only photographed his "good side", not the side without an eye.  After all, he has his pride, too.

Last, but not least, here are sleeping flies with two yellow Christmas lights blurred behind them (I have a string of Christmas lights in my garden that I light at night) - it looks like flies between two orange moons.  At least I've discovered that flies sleep at night.  Gee, I wonder what else I might find out there......

My Friend Alan

A blog friend of mine is deep into the process of leaving his chrysallis to become a butterfly. He is no longer conscious and has been removed from "heroic" measures of restoring his body.  He is being kept "comfortable" whatever that means. 

His blog is one that I have gone to several times a day for several years.  His insights into politics, economics, his in-depth knowledge of earthquakes, volcanoes and weather - all this made his blog a fascinating place. 

He never swore or became impatient or angry with commenters or the situation of the world.  His posts were always erudite and cited multiple sources.

He knew he was dying for quite some time and his posts regarding his medical treatments and the honest and detailed information he gave about his condition was almost matter of fact.

He was a confirmed atheist for most of the years I've read his blog until maybe a little over a  year (maybe 2 - time goes SO fast!!) ago when he was contemplating possible self inflicted death rather than waiting for the Grim Reaper.  He was at the beach, I believe, in the depths of despair when he heard/felt/knew a Presence that told him he was Not Alone.  Words fall short of the fullness of this experience, because after that Alan became a Christian, a Roman Catholic believer.  He was instantly different somehow.  Even though his circumstances had not changed, his soul had and it was very obvious and comforting for me because I had been praying that he might change his mind about Christ. 

Then he began work on the Psalms, translating them into the best English to match the Hebrew, which is very difficult.  He had the assistance of a Hebrew scholar in Israel and he had his background of poetry to enable him to make the English translation lyrical and true to King David's own words.

I depended on Alan for the real story behind the error ridden main stream media news about volcanic eruptions and other natural events, but most of all for the truth about hurricane forecasts and potential.  I live in South Florida and every hurricane season can be nerve wracking waiting to see what storms kick up and where they are going.  Alan could tell from the beginning if this was one to worry about or one to just keep an eye on and relax. 

There truly is no one else who can fill his shoes regarding meteorological information.  No one.  I will have to negotiate this hurricane season without my most trusted guidance.  The only thing I have to go on is that Alan predicted this would be a busy hurricane year.  Sigh.  A busy hurricane year without the best "weatherman" I've ever known.

I don't mourn Alan, though, because I'm sure he is preparing to move beyond the pain and physical limitations of this realm.  I mourn myself and all the other readers of his blog that are left behind to miss his wisdom and courage.