Living in the Moment: Frida Kahlo and Life #MondayBlogs #FridaKahlo

Some time ago my husband and I went south to visit my 93-year-old mother who is spending the winter with my 72-year-old sister. I note their ages because in their presence I often feel like a 12-year-old, not the 59-year-old I really am. Believe me, the 59-year-old struggles to be free! To be honest, we had a very nice visit. Every time I see my mom, I marvel at well she is, both physically and mentally. My sister is well, too, but she supports Trump (enthusiastically) so enough said about that.

One of the high points of our visit was a trip to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Dali Museum. Frida Kahlo is one of my favorite artists. The exhibit was nicely organized with photos interspersed with paintings, drawings, and interpretative signs. An image of Frida and Diego Rivera was projected on one wall, making them larger than life, which, in fact, they were. A loop of documentary clips played in one corner of the three-room exhibit.

First, the photos:

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Some of you may know that Frida suffered much physical pain and disabilities in her life. She contracted polio when she was a little girl, which left her right leg shorter and thinner than the left. Then, when she was only 18, she was in a bus accident and suffered near fatal injuries: broken pelvis, ribs, legs, and collarbone, to name a few. Although she “recovered,” she experienced pain and declining health for the rest of her short life.

 

Hell

Hell

She had originally planned for a career in medicine. The bus accident changed all that, and though the accident left her with a world of pain, she left us with a world of wonder, color, and expression.

Some of the paintings in this slideshow are not for the faint of heart. Frida painted what she felt, what she lived.

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I hope you have enjoyed this visit to the Dali Museum and the Frida Kahlo exhibit.

On a more personal note, I am experiencing some “life events” right now. I know my blogging has been spotty and I am more and more AWOL as these events suck up my time and energy. All is well, at least on my home front, but I’m just … busy-busy-busy. Know that I will do my best to catch up with you all and that, at a minimum, I think of you all often.

Ciao, amigos y amigas!

 

Living in the Moment: Torreya State Park #MondayBlogs #livinginthemoment

My husband recently bought a new tent. One that you can actually stand up in. One that unfolds like an umbrella, making assembly easy-peasy. If I were taller, I could probably put the tent up myself.

Our new tent (courtesy of LL Bean) with a tarp as a front porch.

Our new tent (courtesy of LL Bean) with a tarp as a front porch.

To test out the tent, we spent a couple of nights at the campgrounds of Torreya State Park.  The park is only about an hour driving distance, yet after 26 1/2 years living here in north Florida, we’ve never camped here. We’ve hiked; the park has some fine hiking trails, although the bugs can be murderous during the (long) hot and humid summers. We elected to go during the Christmas holiday weekend with our fingers crossed that it would be safe to be outside.

View from the vista point a few yards from our tent.

View from the vista point a few yards from our tent.

We had beautiful weather, although we had hoped for cooler temperatures. It was high 70s, low 50s, which anywhere else would be perfect. In Florida, however, that can mean that armies of mosquitoes patrolling the skies, striking with and without warning, wreaking havoc and tears of frustration. Yet … aside from a few slow-moving, large mosquitoes that showed up at dusk and then promptly disappeared when night fell, we were practically mosquito-free. Will wonders never cease?

Trees in late afternoon light.

Trees in late afternoon light.

I like trees. Although they can make stargazing difficult, generally I like trees and there were some interesting specimens that I don’t see often in my own neighborhood, such as the American Beech. We have one that my husband planted in our yard a number of years ago; however, we’ll likely be dead before it reaches the height of the trees at Torreya.

We almost cut our camping in trip in half. Our first evening, neighbors at the nearest RV decided they wanted to listen to some (loud, obnoxious, contemporary) music while they cooked their dinner outdoors. It was the strangest mix of country and rap I’d ever heard and the music-lovers were roughly our age so … not only were we perplexed but we were also annoyed. We came to the campgrounds to enjoy the singing of birds and the sighing of the wind through the trees; apparently they didn’t and, while that is their choice, they were ruining the respite we had been looking forward to.

Fortunately, once their cooking was done and they were ensconced in their RV, the music was muffled and eventually all was quiet. We went to bed feeling hopeful. Although I woke often during the night, I experienced a state of near bliss finding myself in soft darkness, the starry sky visible from our open front flap, a light breeze lulling me back to sleep. At one point in the night, however, I was awakened by my husband shooing something away from our picnic table.

Forensic evidence of an intruder in the night.

Forensic evidence of an intruder in the night.

We had left a bit of trash on the picnic table, enough to encourage a little thievery.  Fortunately, this critter took off as soon as my husband hissed at him, unlike the raccoons we used to encounter at Big Basin State Park in California, who would bring their entire families to our campground while we were cooking hot dogs, assuming an invitation to dine and ignoring our demonstrative entreaties to “go away.”

The night was so quiet and the next morning so peaceful, we decided not to leave. Instead, after a repast of mushroom and cheese omelettes and copious cups of coffee, a little knitting time for me and photo processing time for my husband, we went on a hike.

Interestingly, this is a simple pattern. Yet, I spent part of the weekend ripping out and then redoing rows because my counts were off. Sometimes simplicity is complicated.

Interestingly, this is a simple pattern. Yet, I spent part of the weekend ripping out and then redoing rows because my counts were off. Sometimes simplicity is complicated.

We hiked the Weeping Ridge Trail which took us to a waterfall that had a mere trickle of water, but was still worth the visit. We detoured to a side trail which followed along floodplain forest and then back up to the road and eventually our campgrounds.

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(All the years I’ve been blogging and only now did I figure out how to do a slideshow …)

It’s a good thing I like trees, right?

I hope you all have had a holiday season that brought you joy, peace and happiness.

 

 

Living in the Moment: We Are Never Alone #MondayBlogs #alligators

Hello, dear friends. I’m still adjusting, indulging in what might be a few weeks or a few years of wishful thinking (not to be confused with magical thinking). Reality always wins out though and, for me, there’s only one way to deal with that. Well, actually a couple of ways. One way would be to pop in my earbuds, fire up my Audible app and listen to the latest fiction download while I knit. Unfortunately, the novel I am currently listening to is Because We Are by Ted Oswald. It’s a fictional crime story that takes place in … Haiti, inclusive of the 2010 earthquake. I say “unfortunately” because the story is often so sad. What utter poverty the characters live in! What mean lives the children lead, often fending for themselves as if they were adults, at risk for being killed just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time! And yet, there’s a crime, a murder that takes place and that the main character, Libète, a feisty little girl, is determined to solve. I still can’t get over how the author has ingeniously hooked and drawn me in, giving me no escape from the daily devastation of Haiti’s poverty by holding out that carrot of a crime to be solved, justice to be done. So I am hooked on this fantastic novel, but it often makes me sad and so … not such a good way to cope with Reality.

My other recourse? Well, thank goodness the temperatures have dropped to more fall-like, mosquito-slowing degrees. Recently, my husband and I took an outing to our favorite natural environment, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, to enjoy a sunset and a little star shine. Granted, this too is Reality but one that can get lost in the highly charged, people-laden, TMI universe unless you make the point to go there.

While my husband focused on filming light to dark for another in his series of time-lapse videos, I took my trusty iPhone and surveyed the area.

Venus's Belt

The Belt of Venus

This is one of the many scenes we were looking forward to: The Belt of Venus, or Twilight Wedgie as I like to call it. In the middle of the photo you can make out a white blob, or possibly a White Heron or Egret. Here is video of the large bird fishing for his (or her) evening meal. The video lasts about a minute.

It was a lovely evening. The few mosquitoes that bothered to appear were slowed by the cool temperatures and weren’t much of a threat. I didn’t even have to swat at them. I just blew at them when they got too close. There were gnats or no-see-ums but my head and neck were covered (it was dropping down to the low fifties) so they weren’t much of a bother for me. I was able to lose myself in recording the sights around me, dropping down on my belly to follow a line of coots off in the distant. Then up on the wooden planking that outlined the round bit of solid ground in the marsh, trying to get another perspective. And then my husband called to me, to look to my left.

We are never alone when we’re at St. Marks … and I’m not talking about the birds …

Strange as it may sound, this relatively young alligator made my night! He (or she) was as curious about me as I was about him (or her). He (for simplicity’s sake) lingered long enough that my husband worried that he might be a trash gator. I will never understand why anyone would feed a gator. Seriously, they don’t look like they need help getting food. But when I fake-tossed to him, he sidled off, moving a few feet further away so he could continue to look at me without threatening his own sense of safety. That was a relief. I like alligators as long as we’re not up close and personal with each other.

So, I’m curious. What do you all do when you’ve had enough of Reality and need a break? Oh, and before you ask, although I signed up for NaNoWriMo 2016, I haven’t worked on my novel since before the election. But enough about me. Let’s talk about you.

Living in the Moment: Alligators and Deer, Oh My!

So I am slowly getting back into my old routine.  Well, that’s a lie.  For one thing, I never really had a routine.  For another thing, I hate routine, although I’m often the first person to complain when unexpected things happen.  Usually this time of year, one would expect blog posts on the successes and failures of the past year along with hopes and resolutions for the new year.  Well, not me.  Nope, nope, nope.  Right now I’m just living in the moment.

After surviving yet another NaNoWriMo and concurrently providing daily posts on the novel-in-progress, surviving what might have been the flu for me and then caring for my husband who definitely had the flu, and managing to keep a low profile during the holidays, I just want to enjoy the moment.  Not really think about the future, which looms bright or dark depending on my mood, and not wanting to dwell on the past that I can’t change.  I had some nice moments yesterday when my husband and I decided to go for a 7-mile walk at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.  It was a beautiful, sunny day, a bit warmer than we expected, but perfect for sighting my favorite reptile:  Alligators.

First we saw this little guy.

IMG_0011_5Yes, I mean “relatively” little:  a young one, about 2-3 feet long.  We took several photos, trying to not get too close and scare him off.  This best shot was made possible by my husband’s walking stick which doubles as a monopod (look it up).  He secured my camera to the monopod and, with a 10-second timer, we took turns holding the stick out and over the very obliging reptile.  Of course, his stillness probably had more to do with the bath water temperature of the pool he was in.  That is, rather than enjoying the photo op experience, he just had the most perfect spot and wasn’t about to move for a couple of gawking bipeds.

We continued on our walk, excited about our pictures while also slightly worried that the young alligator was leaving himself vulnerable to less well-meaning folk.  Then we came upon this guy.

IMG_0014_4Another young one, although a foot or more longer than the first one.  His teeth were barely noticeable, not yet marring his otherwise pleasant smile.  Still, as you can see, we kept well on our side of the road and didn’t try anything fancy with my camera.  Just a couple of quick shots and lots of smiles and walking backwards until we were a safer distance away.  But only a few feet up the road was yet another sunning gator.

IMG_0016_4This guy was bigger (almost 6 feet) and had more impressive teeth.  Of course, I couldn’t resist another photo, but by now, we were getting worried.  Each alligator we had so far encountered was bigger than the previous.  What was waiting for us at the turn in the road?

IMG_0018_4Now, St. Marks is my most favorite place in north Florida, maybe even all of Florida.  The only time I’m not enamored about the Refuge is in summer when it’s very buggy with chiggers and mosquitoes.  So I just don’t go there then.  Across from the shot above, we have the bayou with the mid-afternoon sun giving everything a silvery, shiny effect.

IMG_0019_4Including the alligators.

IMG_0024_4This is where I learned that my cheap little camera actually has a telephoto function (thanks to my husband who used it once and figured it out while I’ve had the blasted thing for a year and a half and had no clue).  Due to the camera, this alligator that is roughly 20 yards away, looks so much closer.  This guy I called “Big Daddy” and if we had met him on the road, trust me, we would not have stopped to take pictures.  We would have been running the other way and fast.  We figure this guy to be about 8-10 feet.

By now I’m like a kid in a candy shop.  I love my alligators, as long as they are in the water and I am on dry land.  And most of them were.

IMG_0031_4

You know you want another close-up (via a telephoto lens, of course).

IMG_0032_4

And it weren’t all alligators either.  Up from the banks came this attractive specimen of a young stag.  Because we were all surprised, I didn’t have time to point, focus, and shoot.  I simply had to shoot, and this young buck was definitely anxious.

IMG_0025_4At one point, I thought he was going to charge my husband.

IMG_0026_4But he just wanted to get by.  Running away from us didn’t seem like an option for him, so we moved closer to the banks to get him more space.  Then we saw what might have startled him to begin with … and it wasn’t us.

IMG_0037_4Okay, this guy was on MY side of the bayou, but still I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a couple of pictures.  Of course, I’m no fool.  Gators aren’t the least interested in eating people.  Unless you’re swimming around in their pond at dusk or night.  Then you’re the fool.  This gator did what they all do when humans get too close:  make a big splash and swim away.

IMG_0038_4Same guy, but because we were getting into his personal space, he made a big splash and started out across the bayou, away from us.  It was beautiful sight, the shimmery glide of the gator as he made his way across the water, to a low mound where he pulled himself up so he could go back to his sunbathing in peace.  My camera has a movie function, and damn if I did not remember to use it.

I hope you enjoyed my living-in-the-moment moments.  If I were to make a resolution for next year, and I won’t but if I were to, I’d resolve to have more such moments to share with all of you.

Happy New Year!

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