Thursday, February 26, 2009

Six Degrees of Separation

I've been doing some volunteering with a number of community organizations and one person recommended me to another, who recommended me to someone else, and suddenly I have a full calendar. What came to me was the concept of six degrees of separation, especially the six degrees of separation between you the reader and me. Who do you know, that may know someone, who knows me...?

I wondered how to express that idea as I looked through my photos and found this collage I did awhile back. It seemed appropriate because each photo was taken at a different place and in a number of cases from a different perspective. But, they all seem to highlight a connectedness of my world view. Enjoy...

Monday, February 23, 2009

In Like a Lion...and Still Roaring

Everyone is in a state of anticipation wondering when Spring will finally arrive and I count myself in this group. Or put another way, it is raining cold weather and we are jumping in between the drops attempting to enjoy the irregular days of warm weather.

Last weekend Alex and I decided to be brave and went to the beach.

But, as soon as we arrived it turned cold and to add insult it began to lightly rain.

I guess the beach will have to wait for another day…

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Different View of Orlando

I once spent a very long week in Las Vegas and realized once you got away from the Strip it is a very pleasant Southern California type town. The same can be said for Orlando. Once you get away from the giant mouse it becomes a city, much like other cities.

When Alex lived there I would go on weekends and we spent a lot of time on a lake near St Cloud to just people watch and play with our cameras. His was more powerful than mine back then but I got some good shots anyway:

The wedding runaway:

I love this shot because it speaks to all the chaos that occurs before you get those wonderfully planned wedding shots. There are several things going on at once with the photographer trying to get everyone settled, the older parents looking out into the future on the left, two guys in the back probably discussing sports, and the runaway off in his own world.

Visions on a summer day

The caption says it all... I was fascinated that both the boy and girl appear deep in thought but the girl is looking up and the boy is looking down.

Why you live in Florida:

Next to the wedding runaway, this shot from Orlando is one of my favorites. Just looking at it brings back the joys of warm summer evenings with the sun drifting slowly into the lake, and the gentle sound of water lapping the shore. I guess it is one of the reasons you live in Florida.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Secret Lives of Birds

Can Spring be far off...?

I know some people in colder climates will gnash their teeth when they read this, but we here in Florida are coming out of our light taste of winter and you can see it everywhere that the earth has given the signal for Spring to come. But, the primary give away is that birds have begun to return.

Since I put up my birdfeeder I have begun to notice that birds have a social order that was not apparent at first:

Sparrows believe there is safety in numbers and are very nosey

It is an odd occurrence to see a single sparrow. One may show up and in no time a million will appear.

It’s as if every sparrow is watching what his neighbor is doing and is more than eager to copy it.

Cardinals are somewhat monogamous but very skittish

You always see pictures of the very red Cardinal but the lighter red is just as common. The very red is the male and the light red is the female and you will almost always see the two together. Sometimes you might even see one male with two females fighting over who is really his mate. Sound familiar? But don’t expect to get close to them because the slightest sound will cause them to fly away.

Woodpeckers are bullies

All the birds seem to take their turn at the feeder. However, the Woodpecker sees himself as first among equals and pushes everyone off to take his turn, even when he is much too large for the feeder.

Mockingbirds are conservatives

No matter how many birds line up for the hand-outs regularly provided in the feeder, the Mockingbird will not lower himself to take public assistance. He will fly by the feeder or hang out with the other birds, but sticks to a diet of worms, bugs, and berries gathered by his own effort.

Wild doves are good citizens but very dull

At least the type eating from my feeder! Their color is dull, they don't fly far, and they will do anything to "just get along."

There are varying levels of evil

Low Level threats:

The pesky neighborhood squirrel spends more time eating from the birdfeeder than the birds. Read just how pesky. He does not harm the birds but is a very aggressive squatter.

And High Level killers:

In the wild everything has a purpose and the hawk has his (or hers). This particular type of hawk is a Cooper's hawk or commonly known as a Chicken Hawk because he eats other birds.

His favorite form of hunt is to hide near a location where other birds gather and then attack from above. He is very efficient and skilled at staking out his location.

So there you have it. The secret lives of birds... Who knew!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Stumbled Upon in Springfield

Another weekend and another exploration of downtown. In the past we spent time near the river and decided to go in a different direction - lower downtown better known as Springfield.

Springfield is one of those historic neighborhoods filled with huge old homes, long ago abandoned by the upper middle class on their way to the suburbs. It has of late made some attempts to return to its former glory but like downtown Jacksonville is a shadow of its prime.

Roaming around we found this building and I was struck by the foliage growing along the facade. I took this shot up and almost parallel to the wall. Reviewing it now, it almost appears to be a photo of the ground.

Further into the neighborhood we ran into a strange sight for Jacksonville, a pedicab driver by the name of "Breeze" or as I repeated it back to him "As in cool breeze?" He moved here from Kentucky and says he is the only pedicab driver in Jacksonville.

And then the park... Confederate Park has all the signs of having once been a very beautiful place dedicated to the old South. The entrance below, padlocked and faded, now faces the back of an abandoned apartment complex.

The photo below also illustrates how beautiful the park must have been in it's heyday. The picture is calming but the creek running through it stinks to high heaven.

I spied this squirrel sitting on a branch of a palm tree. He hung around and didn't seem at all afraid of people.

And then on closer inspection I understood why. Someone in the neighborhood provides a ready source of handouts. Click the photo to get a better view of a bag of what appears to be dried fruit.

Despite a recent cold spell the roses have already begun to cover the trellis that is a major feature in the park.

There are various ducks and geese throughout the area. You get a real sense that they regard this as their territory and will not hesitate to let you know that fact.

Just outside the park is the Karpeles Manuscript Library, an unassuming jewel nestled in the neighborhood. It is the world’s largest private collection of original manuscripts and documents, circulating items such as the original draft of the "Bill of Rights" of the United States and even Einstein's description of his "Theory of Relativity." Who would have thought it!

To really get a feel of how far downtown and Springfied have fallen, I noticed this U-Haul truck perched high above a building and realized office space is so cheap, someone has converted an office building into a self storage site. The truck above it is simply a beacon to it's location.

And finally, our adventure draws to a close with this picture of a vacant lot highlighted by a beautiful sunset. Right after taking this shot a policeman told us we should leave "because the zombies would pretty soon begin to walk the area."