I keep reminding myself that it is only June, but I'm already feeling Halloween nagging and pulling at me. It doesn't help that this is the 25th anniversary year for Halloween Horror Nights, and it sounds like it is going to be great event year. However, I have no idea if I'll make it through the Freddy vs. Jason house. I've also just reread all of the Harry Potter books, so my brain is all wrapped up up in things fantastic and magical. I guess it may be time to start some early Halloween projects to feed my need.
Last month, I went to Busch Gardens for the day to take the Edge of Africa tour (very cool tour where I got to see the lions, hippos, and cheetahs behind the scenes). Before the tour started, I took a new zoom lens to the cheetah habitat and was thrilled to see two of the cheetahs running and chasing each other. However, it was a smoldering Florida day, so before too long, they found a shady place in the grass and lounged for awhile. Luckily, I was able to get this photograph. I love the cheetah's expression and the contrast that I was able to get in the shot. Their faces work so well in black and white photography.
First stop - Happy Earth Day.
When I last wrote, I bemoaned my need-wish-want for a macro lens. I thought that wanting it enough to write about it probably made it real want in my brain, so I made the leap and couldn't be more excited. After the first night snapping photos in my garden, I was amazed at the depth of colors and the crispness in the photos. I'm still learning how to use it, but it has been a fun experience.
Also, last Fall, I had some plants die off in one of the pots in my butterfly garden, so I sprinkled in some butterfly seed mix and forgot about them when they did not immediately bloom. Now, I like to refer to it as the mystery pot; all spring, it has been surprising me with a variety of beautiful wildflowers. So far I've seen Crimson Clover, Larkspur/Delphinium, Bachelor's Buttons, Calliopsis, and Rose Mallow bloom.
I loath mornings, so I should probably be more frustrated about my workday morning ritual. I wake up pre-sun, pitch black early on working days to allow time for my Morning Pages (thank you, Julia Cameron for my daily sanity check) and to get to work on time. On the way to work, I typically get stuck in traffic for an hour or more surrounded by miserable, finger-flipping, road-raging unhappiness. However, I've turned this stressful part of my day into a ritual that I now love. Each morning, I roll down the window in my car (an hour of fresh air, not looking at a computer - bliss), turn on some amazing music (this morning it was Brandon Flower's new single, Can't Deny My Love - Can't deny some serious car singing to this one), and watch the sun rise.
Here are a few of my favorite sunrises that I caught with my iPhone in the last few weeks:
Last year, I put together a butterfly garden and learned the benefits of milkweed and the horrible nature of wasps. So, this year, I started my milkweed plants earlier this year. After a long day at work, I arrived home and found two of my plants absolutely covered with Monarch Caterpillars. I could watch the caterpillars forever; they are so determined and so hungry.
I took my camera out and shot a few photos of the Monarch Caterpillars, Milkweed Bugs, and a Green Lynx Spider hanging out on the milkweed. I'm really gunning for a good macro lens these days; that macro extender just isn't cutting it anymore. Everyone seems to love the initial excited photo from my phone the best.
Also, I caught this quick video of one of the caterpillars eating away at the milkweed leaves.
The last few weeks have been crazy. I haven't had as much time to get out and take photos as I would like, but I've been working on some new projects, which include recording a video of me playing guitar with my music teacher (a very scary bucket list item) and working on short stories for a collection (a long overdue bucket list item), that I am really excited about.
The other night, I was longing for some some photography work, and I found a series of photos of a Grackle in the grass from my last stay at Grande Lakes. Grackles are always so full of character, but this guy was beyond dramatic and so full of intent that I couldn't stop photographing him. He is a beautiful bird. In color, you can see the inky, oily swirls of black, blues, and purples in his feathers, but I loved the starkness of his profile better in black and white.
This year for my birthday, I bought myself a season pass to Busch Gardens. I love going to see the animals, and the park is nice and close to home, which allows for a quick visit when I want to play with my camera.
My first trip was on a super beautiful, yet slow day at the park. I was able to capture a bunch of shots that I love, but I had made multiple trips to the Cheetah run area and wasn't having much luck there. Just before I left, I decided to up my step count and visit one more time. When I was about to give up, one of the cheetahs sauntered over and laid down in the grass directly across from me. A few minutes later, another one came up behind him/her, and they gave each other a bath. When they were done, they huddled close together all lovey. It was so adorable.
A few weeks ago, I went to Disney World for a few days. I haven't been to Animal Kingdom in ages, and I love taking photos on their trails. The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is beautiful, and I love all of the different views that you get on the gorillas.
I happened upon a crowd, and one of the babies was playing near the glass. I crouched down shooting photos of the baby, and then I noticed her mother. She was watching her baby with such a sweet, loving look, and just as I clicked, she glanced up at the me. I love this shot. She is so beautiful. I also added shots of the baby picking through some hay and one of the male gorillas peeking at me from behind a bush. It was a lovely day.
So, this is my 2015 Valentine's Day mix, and I filled it with beautiful songs and some perfect covers. These songs expand my heart with hopefulness. There is nothing too deep other than the longing that comes with attraction and intrigue and a wish to be as close as mousebirds. "
It feels like the world feels has become a never ending sea of Pinterest positivity boards, self-help mantras, and the power of love. It implies that sadness is a weakness or a failure. Unfair, demanding bullshit, if you ask me.
Recently, a very strange period of my life finally caught up with me. I lost family, a friend, and had a health scare. I found myself struggling to be happy when I really didn't want to be and confused when I couldn't be. I tried to rush past everything that I was feeling, and it filled me with anxiety, anger, and sadness.
I was so frustrated when it all started, but I've come to realize that it has been a gift. It made me want to write, paint, go on long walks, read good books, play my guitar, and listen to amazing music. It helped to push me to work on a short story collection that I've been wanting to do for ages, and I've really been focused on building my photography portfolio.
I've always enjoyed a random blue day. Sometimes, I crave the catharsis of a good cry, searching out great emotional movies and books or by making playlists of sad songs. This time, it was the soft comfort of listening to the right song at a perfect moment. There is something about each of these songs that strikes me. They helped me to see what I had been avoiding; they helped me wash away the grit of a true emotional life.
Hi. I'm Annie. Writer, babbler, artist, and music junkie. I dig Halloween, upbeat macabre, musty old vinyl, dark rooms, meatless meals, and sparkles. More...