Random moments of happiness

mountain-laurel

Mountain Laurel

I am struggling to write and read just now. Many apologies to all my wonderful followers and those I follow for being absent. I have talked about my chronic anxiety and depression many times so no need for any further explanation. Between sad bouts, I experience moments of great happiness, for which I am thankful or life would not be worth living. These are some of my recent moments.

Mountain Laurel

Close up of mountain laurel blossom

Close up of mountain laurel blossom

My lovely neighbor with green fingers gifted me this tree a couple of years ago because it wouldn’t thrive in her garden. I was very anxious because my fingers are not green (blackish) and then this year we had flood, excessive heat and finally a terrible cold snap. Some of my tropical plants died but the lovely Laurel has new growth and exquisite lavender flowers. They have an intense fragrance which my neighbor could smell as she approached my house. I now just buy plants and ask my gardener to place them in the right spot – it is working, so far…

The Dead Grasshopper

dead-grasshopper
This poor little green person probably did not survive the hard frost and fell out of our house planks. He was perfectly preserved and so green. Normally these noisy critters frighten me because of how they jump but I do like their songs. It was fun to really examine his little body and hold it. There truly is beauty in death. After I took his photograph, I left it on the rock. When I went outside later, some lucky bird had eaten a freeze dried snack. I wonder if she thought, “they are usually juicier than that?”

The Tulle Filled Nest

Romantic front door

Romantic front door

This is a photograph of my front door decorated for Valentine’s Day. My Mountain Laurel neighbor loves to decorate her presents with ribbons and tulle – almost too nice to open. I keep them to use myself and had created a bow with pink and white tulle sitting atop the beads. We had a windy day and suddenly the bow was gone. A squirrel or bird probably has a pink tulle lined crib and I just smile at the thought. Maybe they also had the freeze dried snack…

The Syrian limo driver

During my recent contract work, I was paired with a Syrian-American limo driver. He was courteous, respectful, articulate and charming. You probably expect me to say something about executive orders and how nice Middle Eastern people are but the truth is he was Cougar Eye Candy. I am purring softly as I write this. He was tall, slim and handsome with dark hair, white skin and the most exquisite grey/green/blue eyes with long black eyelashes. I flirted outrageously in Arabic and English, wondering what I would have done with him were I 30 years younger…

The Spanish Translation

In a previous post, I talked about the coffee barista from Jerusalem who is Muslim. He works at my local Argentinean/Venezuelan Café. Those two sentences somehow encapsulate the interesting diversity of Houston. This week I went in for my usual cappuccino and he was serving on his own. The lady in front of me could only speak Spanish and although coffee guy looks Hispanic, he can’t speak it. I offered to translate and I think I got three beef empanadas correct. The lady looked Latino/Indio and was utterly confused by the blonde Texan lady translating to the ‘Spanish’ guy. It’s a wonderful world.

More happy moments to come…

Here be dragons…

Green Iguana

Isn’t he handsome – a perfect choice for Khaleesi! He was a few feet long and gorging on the Tamarind fruits that you can see next to him (and falling out of his mouth). If we turned up the hill leaving Hacienda Escondida, we headed towards a more local area with the river dissecting the two areas. It was a haven for wildlife – and they were all new to us!!!

Rivera del Rio

Rivera del Rio

There is a bathing area and we saw local children having fun swimming in the river. The bridge across was the major route from the hillside down to the south side of the Old Town of Puerto Vallarta. If you stay at a resort, you will miss all of this, including a wonderful fresh market. I was told that despite the cobbled streets, the water from the taps was safe to drink. I drank it and it tasted good.

black-birdI think this is just a plain old Grackle, above, but I love his silhouette against the trees and hills.  I don’t know the name of this little yellow bird, also enjoying tamarind fruit, but he was as little as the iguana was big.

Tiny little yellow bird

Tiny little yellow bird

Simple Mural at Rivera del Rio

Simple Mural at Rivera del Rio

A perpetrator caught on camera!

Patsy Sue

Patsy Sue

After the Vandals in the Suburbs, we put the infrared camera out at night to see who our visitors were. This time it was Patsy Sue, the Possum! I am certain that the previous marauders on the porch were raccoons because Possums are gentle little critters – the only marsupial in America. Possums eat very slowly and noisily, with their mouths open (see the video at the bottom). In my mind, they are southern folks, so Patsy’s Mama was Betsy Sue and she was a big girl! Last year we caught her on camera, walloping the baby raccoons who were too boisterous. Was Mama Raccoon a Hoochie-Mama, out on the town meeting new guys?

The squirrels are all Hispanic because they are fast and talk very quickly. We had a Mario for a while until we realized it was a Marisol with swollen teats. Possums carry their little babies on their body, clinging onto the fur. My friend came across one at night and a Mama Possum covered in babies gratefully accepted some dog treats that she had in her pocket. You can’t really see Patsy that well because of the Infrared film but this is another one that was on the rooftop opposite Teddy’s work.

Teddy's Possum

Teddy’s Possum

This one is also a juvenile and look at that little face. Soooo cute, holding her stick! We sent my cousin in Canada a toy,stuffed Possum for a Christmas present and they wondered why we had sent a rat… They just have ratty tails but the funniest little feet.

Possum toes

Possum toes

Click on this red link to see Patsy Sue eating very slowly and noisily.

Wednesday’s child is full of woe…

Spicebush Swallowtail

Spicebush Swallowtail

This photograph is for Victor Rakmil. His has a fantastic photographic blog on WordPress. His photos inspire me to do better and learn techniques. That said, I took this butterfly with an inexpensive camera, shaky hands, peripheral neuropathy and NO patience!

The title of the blog refers to my birthday which is today! I was born on a Wednesday in San Francisco, many, many years ago. No matter how I approach my birthday each year, it is not usually a happy day. I have spent many birthdays on vacation as our wedding anniversary is the day before and sometimes that helps. Although I am often smiling, it is a social mask to make me and everyone around me feel better.

I am surrounded by people who love me and still receive a handful of cards from relatives and friends. Presents make me anxious – why? Who knows, not me. My mother frequently quoted that line of the nursery rhyme – “Wednesday’s child is full of woe” – and perhaps it is just imprinted on my personality that I cried on special occasions. I still get very excited about events then get anxious and finally sad.

The truth is that I have chronic depression and anxiety. It was first noted when I was 7 and now that I am aged 56 I guess I will die with it. Someone recently mentioned to me that many people in the third world I have no idea of their birth date or exact age. Maybe that would work for me? In which case I would like to be born in August about 20 years later than I was… 🙂

This year, I am grateful that my husband has a job, after 6 months of unemployment. I seem to have chronic fatigue but it could be much worse. Currents global events are making me weary and sad. I volunteered yesterday and someone from Latin America told me in broken English that I was a very nice person.

Anyway, happy birthday to me, Crabby Kerry!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Valentina

Valentina

Can you see Valentina sitting on our fence beside the crape blossom? She is a young American black vulture who was investigating our back yard. I don’t really know that she is female or called Valentina but she has an exotic black cloak on and mysterious brown eyes. We live in a forest in near Houston, Texas and regularly see all kinds of critters including Black and Turkey Vultures. In some areas Black Vultures, which are a protected species, are becoming very common but we have plenty of carrion for them to eat given the lack of driving skills…

vulture on fence

You can get a really good look at her in the shot above. They are large birds and I guess she was about 3 feet tall with very big white feet. They are a successful species because they eat live prey alongside carrion. When Mrs. Stripe used to laze about on the deck, I would tease her that the circling vultures would eat her if she didn’t move. I don’t really understand why people think they are ugly – I thought she was rather beautiful in an Addams family way. She was quite curious about us but tentative.

vulture on deck

Water and light

Old Tampa Bay

Old Tampa Bay

Morning view from the Grand Hyatt in Tampa of the old bay. There is something about sunshine, water and palm trees that makes us all feel good. There is a manatee viewing point beside a power plant just down the coast from Tampa. Off we went, excitedly, only to find it is closed in low season. It is weird to think that summer is low season anywhere! So no manatees but we drove down to a lovely marina near Apollo Beach and spotted an osprey in her nest in a palm tree. It seems such a short time ago that ospreys were endangered and now you can see them almost everywhere. That makes my heart sing.

Osprey in her palm tree nest

Osprey in her palm tree nest

The marina was small and less grand than many. We had a lovely lunch in the Circles Waterfront Restaurant looking out at this lovely vista, below.

marina

I was fascinated by this boat ‘car park’ at Land’s End Marina. There are also boats at the forefront in dry dock. How many thousands of dollars are parked there, I wonder? 🙂

boat car park

The beauty of darkness

Mangroves as light falls, Old Tampa Bay

Looking through the mangroves as light falls, Old Tampa Bay

I rarely see the dark. Off to bed while there is still light in the sky and awake into sunshine. We arrived in Tampa in the afternoon and by the time we toured the hotel and had dinner, suddenly it was dusk and then darkness. It was so exciting walking through the mangroves, wondering what eyes were looking at us and hearing the chirrup of many insects and night birds.

Doesn’t this look like a giant tarantula, below? It is really a spider crab and once I had my eyes focused they were everywhere. Wouldn’t it be fun to go there at Halloween?

Is it a tarantula hiding in the mangroves?

Is it a tarantula?

At one point the darkening sky turned green. It was eerily beautiful.
green light

It contrasted so beautifully with the pink sunset just before.

pink sunset

More wonderful photos and stories from Tampa to come.