Sunrise, Myrtle Beach South Carolina, Feb. 21, 2015

It was another successful trip to Myrtle Beach, another successful visit to see the family that moved down there. George and I had a great time, went and saw some very cool…and kitschy…stuff (blogs on things we did while visiting, coming up), and spent the old QT with the fam. Double-QT, as both my brother and G’s niece live down there, and both sides of the family get along. It was all one grand time. Awesome. 

And, as I am busy trying to rebuild my photo portfolio since losing my external hard drive (yes, people, I’m on the cloud now–unlimited photo storage for Amazon Prime members! Hooray!), it meant I had to get up early and head to the beach for a second Myrtle Beach sunrise photo shoot. There are worse things to have to do with one’s time.

It was kind of a cloudy morning, but I caught all the sun almost anyone could see, that morning. By 10:30 it had completely clouded over and was gray and drizzly all the rest of the day. Here’s to the benefits of early rising! All photos were taken alongside the pier at Surfside Beach.

At Surfside Pier.

At Surfside Pier.

I’m including more photos than I normally would, and don’t have a ton of narrative.

No sun yet.

No sun yet.

Because mostly, the pictures speak for themselves.

I love when the birds show up.

I love when the birds show up.

Speaking of birds…

This guy's going about on very important gull business.

This guy’s going about on very important gull business.

I almost started to think, maybe this was as good as it was going to get, with the weather looking sketchy.

Clouds were moving in.

Clouds were moving in. At least the birds were having fun.

 Then I started to see the sun peek out a little.

Hey.

Hey.

And a little more.

Well all right all right.

Well all right all right.

And then…holy pockets!

We got us a sunrise!

We got us a sunrise!

This clear patch of sky is the definition of “window of opportunity”.

This always gives me a sense of peace.

This always gives me a sense of peace.

And the low clouds helped keep the light golden.

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Funny how clouds can be a good thing.

I had to check out how things looked under the pier.

Mid-pier.

Mid-pier.

And from the other side.

Here's looking out your side entrance.

Here’s looking out your side pilings. Baby.

For a moment things lightened up and started to look suspiciously like a Monet painting.

But there's a lot going on in that sky.

But there’s a lot going on in that sky.

And then? Le BOOM! Back to gold.

I love the fiery pinks in the clouds.

I love the fiery pinks in the clouds.

Though the sun was getting ready to disappear for the rest of the day…

Not long after this, it was all gray and cloudy.

Not long after this, it was all gray and cloudy.

…it sure put on one hell of a show for me when it showed its glorious face.

This photo right here? Is why I get up early.

This photo right here? Is why I get up early.

I hope you enjoyed the sunrise! I know I did.

 

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The New Year Thus Far

Yes, I know, it’s been a while. Christmas always seems to knock my blogging off-kilter. There’s just so much to do, what with decorating and festivities and a bajillion cookies to make and some writing and teaching shoehorned into the middle of all that…

What’s that? You think I exaggerate when I lay claim to a bajillion cookies? Oh ho ho, my friends. Behold!

Bajillion.

Quantity: One bajillion.

Plus pumpkin fudge and green tea marshmallows (OMG YES) and Turkish delight, which is like eating soft and beautiful rose-flavored clouds. I could hoover that all day long.

The last few years have had rough beginnings/endings to them. Two years ago, January ushered in back-to-back funerals and the most vicious stomach flu I’ve had in a decade. A year ago in December, George and I got into that terrible car accident and totaled our Honda.

And just last week, as I was getting set to emerge from the Christmas cocoon without a funeral or a car accident in sight (all good things!), I dropped my external hard drive and broke some kind of connector thingie inside. The hard drive had EVERY SINGLE PHOTOGRAPH I’VE EVER TAKEN (more or less, minus what was on my phone, and the few files I’ve loaded onto the new computer) on it, moved there after my old computer’s hard drive died on me earlier this year. It is dead to me and all my photos are completely inaccessible. Yes, I know I should be in the cloud and your well-meaning point has been taken, but that advice? Is no good to me right now.

To say I laid around for two days wallowing in despair…that’s not so much of a dramatic re-interpretation of my days as it is a spot-on description of what I did. Every. Photograph. Thousands and thousands of them. (For those of you who know I’ve written a book, don’t worry. The book is the safest thing I have, backed up in several places–including a copy in my email–and sent in full to the writing partner. At least there’s that.) As we speak my hard drive has been sent off to a data retrieval service, and so I wait. And wait. At least I’ve crawled out of my apoplectic coma. The howling in my head has stopped. And I feel the need to write again. These are all good things.

So. Here is one of the few photos I currently have in my possession, taken in a nearby corn field on a cloudy, yet bright, day.

What happens to corn stalks in the winter.

What happens to corn stalks in central PA in the winter.

Ever forward.

Travel Theme: Golden

Ailsa’s travel theme this week at Where’s My Backpack? is “golden”. Groovy! I don’t have much time to be chatty today, so let’s get to it, shall we?

First stop: close to home. Beautiful Lewisburg, PA, where the trees put on quite the seasonal display and turn a stunning shade of gold in autumn.

It's kind of spectacular here in the fall.

It’s kind of spectacular here in the fall.

These Italian fig bundles look like little golden dessert ravioli. Stuffed with figs. They’re like a dream come true.

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Bask in their golden aura!

 

And speaking of Italy…here’s a cozy little street in Florence that turns golden once the sun starts to set and the lights come on.

I want to live here. That is all.

I want to live here. That is all.

Relax during the holidays! Be like Buddha, in perfect tranquility in a lotus flower. As seen at the MFA in Boston.

I feel all zen and groovy.

I feel all zen and groovy.

And finally…here is a sunrise that’s about as golden as it gets. Taken at North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It’s one heck of a way to start the day.

Nature is so effortlessly beautiful.

Nature is so effortlessly beautiful.

This was a great challenge for me to do. It’s been an opaque gray here for about a week; I’ve been starved of brightness. (No, wait. There was one notable hour of sunlight; we were all so happy to see it we made sure our friends and neighbors checked out that strange fiery sky orb, but I digress.) I hope you enjoyed the photos! Or, of course, you’d be more than welcome to participate. See you ’round the internets.

XOXO

Travel Theme: Slow

Ailsa has echoed the words I’ve heard over and over this past week: Can you believe it’s already December? Oh my stars, how the time has flown!

And you know, it’s true. I kind of can’t believe it myself. I mean…I have cookies to make! Presents to buy! A holiday visiting schedule to plan! And a birthday to have! What the hell? Is it really December?

Consequently, Ailsa’s travel theme this week is: slow. Ooh, nice. So get on over to Where’s My Backpack?, put your feet up, and relax.

Milton State Park is just up the road from my house. While it’s got its fair share of natural beauty, there are those odd bits of random debris that either get dumped or make their way up from the river, and are strangely beautiful in their own, slowly deteriorating way.

Time is having its way with this old tank.

Time is having its way with this old tank.

It’s been two years since Hurricane Sandy tore its way through the Jersey shore, and parts of the town of Seaside Heights have been slow to rebuild. Not that it’s the town’s fault, mind you. It’s just that there was an insane amount (technically referred to as a “staggering shit-ton”) of repair work that needed to be done, all along the NJ/NY/DE coasts.

Some day...

Not cool, Sandy. Not. Cool.

Closer to home, and with happier implications, on a lazy summer day I took a bike ride along our fine rail trail. The air was thick and heavy, and you had to push through it to go forward. Insects let out a slow buzz around my head and the bold, bright sun pushed every living thing back into the comfort of shade. Even the cows couldn’t be bothered.

Central PA was burdened by summer this day.

Cow stays under the tree branch, because being out in the sun = a whole lot of nope.

While visiting my boyfriend’s family, we took a side trip to The Meadowlands Museum for a slice of Rutherford history. It was very well done, with thoughtful exhibits that highlighted topics of industrial, ecological and cultural importance to the area. In the basement, though, they had tables filled with items that didn’t quite belong anywhere yet, and were in the process of being catalogued. Like this device, which is perhaps the slowest way I can imagine to crank out fresh-squeezed citrus juices (though I’d bet it would extract every single drop).

Crank that orange like it ain't no thing.

Crank that orange like it ain’t no thing.

And finally…

Check out the slow, steady flow of the beautiful Susquehanna River. I get to feast my eyes on this every day.

Home.

Home.

So remember, folks, to take a few minutes and breathe every now and again. Maybe we can’t slow down time, but we can manage our reaction to it. And check out the other folks participating in Ailsa’s travel challenge! Maybe you’ll find something in there that will inspire your own entry… 🙂

Just Say No: Selfies With Bears

Apparently, there is a new and incredibly stupid trend making its way around the interwebs these days.

You know, I am a fan of both animals and nature photos. I post a daily squee on my Facebook page so we can start the day off by looking at something cute and fluffy. And I will be among the first to admit that bears–all kinds, all sizes/shapes/ages–can be pretty frickin’ adorable.

Bears. Cute, even when wet. Image from matyuphoto.com

Bears. Cute, even when wet.
Image from matyuphoto.com

I mean…look at those wet baby bear ears. D’awwww! D’oh! Who wants a skritch?

My point is, I like cute animals. Right? Right.

Unfortunately, Lake Tahoe officials have had to issue warnings lately because people have been taking too many selfies with bears.

That’s right. Selfies. With bears.

Apparently, in the Taylor Creek area of South Lake Tahoe, bears have been out in relative abundance, primarily to get in a good feeding at the ol’ fishing stream before hibernating. Nature photographers get great photos of bears when they’re eating, sure. From a distance. With a mega-powered zoom lens.

What they don’t do is stand in front of a bear with their iPhones at the ready.

Bear: Pardon me, miss. Can I talk to you about our lord and savior GRAHTHTMTHMAGRRRAMACHUKCHUK *nom* Image from buzzfeed.com

Bear: Pardon me, miss. Can I talk to you about our lord and savior GRAWRRAWRGRRR *nom*
Image from buzzfeed.com

I don’t normally try and blame the victim but seriously, this girl would have had it coming.

I thought I would lose my mind with fury when I read this. Initially, I was mad because it’s just so stupid. Bears are unpredictable, kind of territorial, and (if they’re on their way to fish), hungry. And you, dearest friends and readers, sport a relatively fragile body made almost entirely out of meat. And the thing is, if a bear mauls someone who’s doing something incredibly stupid and provocative around a bear, then people will still go after the bear. And kill it in revenge, while the bear’s all like, “What did I do?”

#Truth Image from allthatspam.blogspot.com

#Truth
Image from allthatspam.blogspot.com

And then I was extra-furious, because…people…the world is not one big Disney amusement park. Not everything is sanitized for your protection, all situations are not rendered safe, and bears aren’t all friendly creatures with whom you can eat honey and trade belly rubs. This isn’t reality TV, this is reality. If you saw that weird, twitchy guy at the mall, you wouldn’t pose for a selfie in front of him, would you? No, you’d give that guy some space in case he’d snap. So…why on Earth would you pose in front of a thing with less capacity for reason, who’s got, essentially, scimitars on the ends of their paws?

Ready to open up a world o' hurt.

Bear claws: more than just a pastry. Image from delong.typepad.com

Please, people. In the interests of bears, and sanity, stop living as though your world view has been taken from a Disney movie. It’s not fair to the bear. And it’s potentially really…really…detrimental to your well being.

I realize that now, bears are going down for the winter, so this information most likely won’t be relevant until the spring (though, of course, bears can be woken up fairly easily during hibernation, so…no rattling cans of bear chow on winter hikes, people). But for the love of all that is sensible, leave the 600 pound killing machines to themselves.

Here’s what to do if you find yourself on the wrong end of a bear attack.

And for the members of the gay community who love their big ol’ bears…go to it, friends. This has nothing to do with you.

Here’s a little ditty by The Magnetic Fields to play you out.

Travel Theme: Colourful

This week at Where’s My Backpack?, Ailsa has declared her travel theme to be “colourful”, in order to beat the doldrums that accompany the shortened days that come with winter. Is the lack of sunlight getting you down? Don’t worry! I’ve got some colorful plays with light, right here.

Starting off close to home, this is taken from inside the tasting room at a local winery, Fero Vineyards. It was a grey and rainy day, and I loved how this Italian horn pendant lamp was a bright spot against the weather.

A bright spot on a rainy day.

A bright spot on a rainy day.

While in Cleveland, City of Light, City of Magic, George and I were drawn in like moths to flame, to the bright lights in the alley that led us to the restaurant Zocalo. The food was…eh, OK. But the tequileria was superb.

What, like you wouldn't go check this out? #oohshiny

What, like you wouldn’t go check this out? #oohshiny

The subtle lavender-pinks and golds of a sunrise on Surfside Beach, SC, have to make a body feel better against the long nights. Check out my brother, looking all stoic and philosophical, one man standing alone to face the relentless forces of nature, yada yada yada.

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Waking up early pays off when you get to see something like this.

Staying in South Carolina…

We went to the Nights of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens, all of which was INSANELY gorgeous. The gardens had lights dripping from anything that could hold a strand, floating on anything watery, wrapped around even the vaguest semblance of a trunk. And then they had this leaping goat-legged fellow.

I like the cut of his jib.

I like the cut of his jib.

Meanwhile, up in Vermont

Even in winter, you can find bright bursts of color. Here are some winter berries, dusted in frost and morning light.

Don't eat them. But they sure look purty.

Don’t eat them. But they sure look purty.

Go check out the rest of the participants in Ailsa’s travel theme! Or–hey, why not?–play along yourself. See you around the interwebs!

Here’s Randy Newman, singing about Cleveland, to play you out… 

Scenes from the Rail Trail: October 12, 2014

Oh, it was a glorious day for a bike ride!

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Hey there, pokey fuzzy thingie.

I suited up and hit the rail trail a few days ago. It’s turning to fall now, and that means…well, of course it means that the leaves on the trees are turning spectacular shades of gold and red and orange. But it also means other plants are changing. Drying up, or exploding into fuzzies. Pulling out one last gasp of color. And in the meanwhile, all these plants are busy adding a deep, rich sense of texture to the trail. Call it nature’s Halloween decor, if you will.

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It’s a chuckle patch! (Magic Garden fans, you know what I’m talking about.)

Whether the colors are vibrant or subdued, they’re all a visual treat.

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Old Rattlebones the Milkweed Pod, that’s what this is.

It can look surprisingly like an oil painting.

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Pokeberries at the end of the season.

And there’s berries far out into the sky and the leafless trees. Kind of like looking at the Hubble Deep Field images. Only different.

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Billions and billions of berries… ~~Apologies to Carl Sagan~~

I never noticed how well black walnut pods match their nubbly leaves, but there you have it.

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Nature gets all matchy-match.

And then there’s a poof!

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I believe they call this the Santa plant. (Like I would know.)

And a pow!

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Like fireworks.

And a…uh…

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Admit it, these kind of look like Animal from Sesame Street.

The trees were in a full-spectrum onslaught of pretty.

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Turning, not one, not two, but THREE fall colors for your enjoyment!

And there were a few spokey-looking…I have no idea what these things are. But I sure do dig their style.

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For all I know they just released spores of alien dust and we are now all doomed. But they look cool, innit?

Even your basic, standard-issue corn is getting into the groovy-texture act (with a little help from a neighboring plant).

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Clearly, corn knows how to accessorize.

And a vast army of wilting sunflowers still manages to look stunning (though perhaps slightly dejected) in the afternoon sun.

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Sunflower post-mortem.

The thing is, pretty much no matter where you look on the rail trail you’ll see something that will catch your eye. It’s not hard to find something of interest, when you’re surrounded by this.

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Hello.

If you want to find out some more information about the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail, you can visit them on the web here, find them on Facebook, or Twitter away. The BVRT is owned and operated by the Buffalo Valley Recreation Authority and may be contacted via email bvrailtrail@bvrec.org or telephone 570-524-4774.

And to play you out, here’s local singer/songwriter KJ Reimensnyder-Wagner‘s ode to the BVRT, appropriately titled:

“Meet Me On The Rail Trail”.

See you there!

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