November 18, 2014

Sometimes you can only tell a story backwards. I’ve been twisted up tighter than a morning glory in the sun.

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Man-of-the-earth vine (morning-glory family) at Longleaf near Pensacola, Florida, May 2004.

But like this flower, I have a buzzing bee at my center that agitates until I reengage.

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The birds, trees, and flowers are here every day whether I am or not. I like knowing that. Gives me a sense of balance, perspective and serenity. In this chaotic old world, where so many humans practice cruelty and barbarism, our world is still remarkably beautiful. I would like to “sentence” all the evil-doers to a nature-filled island, with prescribed walks with a camera and notebook every day.

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Our supper the first night Buck and I were in Ponte Vedra came from Barb and Wally’s Down South Barbecue. A funny pair, assuming the ugly ducklings were Barb and Wally. It was a hole in the wall storefront, and while the smells were authentic low and slow smoke, with sweet and vinegary sauce top notes, plus the granular aroma of velvety collard greens, it was clearly more a take-out spot than a dine-in venue.

We ordered a whole smoked chicken, a pint of BBQ beans and a pint of collard greens. Barb’s brunette hair, thick and frizzy, was piled on her head in a haphazard do. She wore thick glasses and was pleasant, though somewhat vacant, and the semi-dazed “why am I here?” expression looked like her default face. Wally was a male match for Barb with his dark messy hair, beard, and a growly look. “I’m the pitmaster. I don’t need to make no stinkin’ conversation.”

The phone rings. It’s on the counter where the register sits by the front door. Barb calls out. “It’s for you.”

I catch his eye movement, a furtive, ducking look. “Who is it?”

Barb shrugs. Classic. Wally looks like he might take a flyer out the back door. His eyes shift for a millisecond to me. He decides. “Tell them I’ll call back,” he says to Barb, his tone a tad bombastic, like a scared small man. Wally goes back to deep-frying garlic corn on the cob and dipping up cheesy potatoes and baby back rib racks for a take-out order phoned  in before we arrived. He mutters to the food. “The question is, why are they calling me here?”

Two guys come in. Barb: “You here for a pickup?”

“Yeah. Mike.” They look like golfers. The one who spoke, Mike, slides me a look. Lascivious bastard. Men can’t resist women who eat barbecue. If he knew I drink scotch, too, often at the same time I’m eating grilled meat, he would have swooned right there.

By the way, if you’re ever in Ponte Vedra, stop by the joint. The cue’s damn good.

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Every room needs a touch of red — even the Great Outdoors.

I arrived at the beach this morning in time to see a grand dog parade, from stylish black Standard Poodles, to Golden Doodles, Labs, a dancing Jack Russell, lovely spaniels, spunky Heinz 57s, whippets, French bull dogs, and others I couldn’t begin to identify — including ubiquitous itsy bitsy fancy fluffy white dogs. Marvelous.

 

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There must be a lot of snakes and alligators on this picturesque boardwalk if Sawgrass felt the need for a sign.

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Well, I haven’t seen any snakes yet . . . but you can bet I’ll be on the lookout!

P1000264This fellow had his eye on the fishing line a young boy had cast from the boardwalk. The boy’s dad was nearby. Even so, I felt my busybody gene itching.

 

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Buck and I have been in Ponte Vedra on Florida’s east coast, just outside of Jacksonville, for two weeks. That’s two down and one week to go for our radiation vacation at Mayo Clinic.

We’re staying in a quiet condo neighborhood in the huge Sawgrass development. The condo has a screened porch right on a lesser-used portion of one of the golf courses, and blessedly no golfers in sight, only  birds and the myriad, arcane parade of specialized equipment designed to keep the golf course in pristine condition in the event a bandy-legged old coot (my term for golfers) should happen along.

 

The weather has been ethereally lovely in the way of October in Florida. Our quarters are roughly a mile and a half from the Atlantic Ocean. I know this because my feet tell me so. Early each morning, I make the glorious walk to greet the sun rising there.

 

 

 

 

 

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It has been a joy to see the incredible variety of shore  birds and nice folk being walked by their dogs. We are so glad to be eight miles from the clinic — close enough to make our once or twice daily trip there, and far enough away from the campus to escape the feeling that one is in a pervasive illness bubble. We both breathe easier here, with our beloved longleaf pines just outside the back door, mingling with palmettos and palms, doves and squirrels everywhere.

Buck’s prognosis continues to be for a complete recovery. This last week of treatment is shaping up to be a bit rough, because the radiation side effects have just begun to kick in, with reddened skin, dry mouth, and sore throat, but it is only five days. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Saturday morning we’ll drive home. No more targeted poisoning to get well.

Note: These pictures were from last Sunday. I wasn’t sure I could sustain blogging, and was directing all my energies toward the events of each day. I think I’ll be able to catch up this weekend, and share some thoughts and pictures from my walks. Hope all is well in your worlds.

 

 

 

 

 

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Using a new camera for the first time to take pictures of a lunar eclipse is kind of like trying out a complicated recipe for the first time on special guests. But I’m thrilled with these “turn the darn thing on and point it at the sky” results, and am inspired now to try and learn how to use it properly. It’s a so-called “bridge” camera, a middle-of-the-road device between a pocket camera and a DSLR (whut?). It’s my first step up, and I’m looking forward to exploring the woods (and everywhere else) with my new toy.

And to think I almost said “Nah . . .” and snuggled deeper into the covers when the alarm tickled my ear at dark-thirty.

Full Moon 10-07-2014 shot with Panasonic Luminix DMC-FZ70

Full Moon 10-07-2014 shot with Panasonic Luminix DMC-FZ70

Very first shot taken with my new toy  serious work tool.  Just pointed it up to the sky and pressed a button. A lot of camera in an inexpensive package. A lot to learn, too.

Lunar Eclipse 12-2010, taken with Canon PowerShot SD950 IS Digital ELPH

Lunar Eclipse 12-2010, taken with Canon PowerShot SD950 IS Digital ELPH

This was the very best I could do with my sweet (beloved) little ELPH. Think it’s time to wrap it in an old scarf and add it to the blog time capsule.

American Beautyberry at Longleaf, Pensacola, Florida, September 7, 2014

American Beautyberry at Longleaf, Pensacola, Florida, September 7, 2014

All the spiritual epiphany I need is found in watching year by year as this dead stick turns to neon grape berries and lush leaves for a season and then dies again. Eventually the miracle penetrates even my thick skull. 

 

 

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