From Dawn to Dusk

Dawn 11.22.14Dawn 11.22.14

It’s that time of year that my sleep schedule gets all kinds of messed up. Of course, it didn’t help that last night David and I were playing video games into the wee hours of the morning, lol. We stayed up until sunrise this morning. It’s not often that I get to watch the sun rising because I’m simply not a morning person; but since we hadn’t been to bed yet, it made for a nice meditation moment before finally heading to bed. And the coyotes were howling like nothing I’ve ever heard before! I have yet to actually see one, but we hear them often here.

After we woke up this afternoon, I was pleased to find the day so warm and inviting. We’ve had some bitter cold days here already, even a couple of snow showers, which is not typical for this time of year. I spent most of the afternoon outdoors. We decided to turn off the heat and open the doors up to change out the air in the house a little and give the cats some freedom to go in and out as they please. Today, to my delight, I saw a red-tailed hawk flying overhead. A little while later, I heard the familiar call of Sandhill Cranes and looked to the sky to see a huge flock of them flying overhead.

Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar #1Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar #1

I happened to glance down at the ground and notice this Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar. The neighbor’s 5-year-old was outside with me at this point and asked if he could hold it. I told him that this one was fine to hold, showing him the red bands to identify it, but also told him to never handle fuzzy caterpillars without asking someone first because some of them do sting. The caterpillar remained in its defensive ball as he cautiously held it. I love to see kids this curious about nature. He asked if he could take a photo, too; and I have to say, that his photo below of me holding the caterpillar turned out very nice!

Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar #2Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar #2

After a quick hike down to the creek and back, it seemed only fitting to finish the day off with a photo of the sunset. 🙂

Dusk 11.22.14Dusk 11.22.14

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A Brief Glimpse of the Eclipse

I was looking forward to seeing the total lunar eclipse early this morning. I haven’t seen one for many, many years. I even stayed awake two hours later than normal to catch it, but I didn’t get to see much of the eclipse due to cloud cover. The thunderstorm prior to the eclipse beginning was pretty spectacular, though! The video is grainy and edited for the best lightning strikes that I captured. You’ll hear me say, “I smell a skunk.” When David said, “You’re shorter,” he was handing me the umbrella to protect the camera from the rain. One of these days, we’ll learn to keep quiet while taking video, haha!

I really didn’t get any noteworthy photos of the eclipse. My camera simply does not have the capabilities to photograph the moon well. Last night, it was more about the experience of witnessing the eclipse. The clouds broke briefly enough around stage 3 to 4 of the eclipse for the following two images, but they’re the best I got before the clouds overtook the moon again. And by that point, I was ready to go to sleep!

 Full Hunter's Moon Eclipse (around stage 3 - 4)Full Hunter’s Moon Eclipse (around stage 3 – 4)

Full Hunter's Moon EclipseFull Hunter’s Moon Eclipse

No, this next photo is not the sunrise. Before I headed in to go to bed, I snapped one last photo of the light pollution in the distance. The light had a much more eerie feel than the photo captured.

Light PollutionLight Pollution

Much earlier in the evening (last night), I couldn’t resist snapping a few photos of the moon as it rose high in the sky. I shared these last night on Flickr and Twitter. I meant to add them here, too, but got sidetracked. I’ll include them now since the theme of this post centers around the moon and the night sky.

99% Full Hunter's Moon99% Full Hunter’s Moon

99% Full Hunter's Moon (8 second Long Exposure)99% Full Hunter’s Moon (8 second Long Exposure)

Both are similar, yet I thought the second photo was interesting due to the blur created by the movement of the clouds. Sitting staring up at the sky with the clouds moving as quickly as they were, created an optical illusion, making the moon and stars appear to be moving at twice their normal speed. It was kind of dizzying to watch.

I’m not sure when the next lunar eclipse will be. I’m just glad that I took the time to enjoy the night sky even if I didn’t get to watch the entire eclipse. Our universe is truly an awesome wonder.

Gorgeous Sky Tonight

Gorgeous Sky Tonight by pixygiggles
Gorgeous Sky Tonight, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

David and I awoke to a storm and a loud thud on the roof this afternoon. Don’t judge. He works second-shift, so our sleeping schedule is off from the “norm.” I finally got around to seeing what fell on the roof (just a small stick) around the time the sun was setting.

When I ran back inside to grab the camera for a few photos of the setting sun, Moses darted outside; so I allowed him a few minutes of fresh air and grass grazing. This also gave me a few moments of bliss watching the clouds quickly change colors in a fiery display.

It was so chilly out there that Moses ran back to the door on his own, much to my relief. He’s normally all claws and growls when I have to carry him back inside.

366 Photo Catch-Up

I decided I would catch up on my 366 project in one post rather than several posts. It’s hard to believe that I only have 5 more days until my year-long project will be complete. I put a lot of time and effort into this, and I’m proud of my determination to see it through to the end. I’m afraid this post ended up a lot longer than normal, but it is in total 7 days worth of daily photos.

This holiday season has been much more of a challenge than earlier years. Prior to my trip back to East Tennessee to visit family for the holidays, I was experiencing a great deal of anxiety, more so than normal. I have no explanation for why the anxiety was so bad this year. It just felt like I was suffocating before I even left on my trip.

I barely did any Christmas shopping this year which is the reason I decided to stop at West Town Mall on my way through Knoxville. It was a stormy day on Thursday. I thought the drive would be much worse than it was. For the most part, the rain wasn’t too bad. Other than high winds pushing my car around a bit on the interstate, I had no problems at all, not even at the mall. The clouds were absolutely breathtaking! I drove in awe the entire way.

Day 355 High Winds & Stormy Skies (12.20.12) – Taken at West Town Mall, Knoxville, TN.

I arrived at Mom’s later that evening, and we stayed up past midnight catching up and talking. Early the next morning, I awoke to strange sounds coming from my mom’s room. I ran into her bedroom and found her in the floor next to the bed. She appeared unhurt and at times, giggled as if she was caught in some waking dream. After about 45 minutes to an hour, I managed to get her back into bed.

My mother is in her mid-70’s and has numerous health problems, including Type-2 Diabetes. Over the past few months, there have apparently been several instances of her falling out of bed. Needless to say, this particular instance gave me quite a scare; but I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I kept checking on her until she finally woke up for the day. She said she felt fine other than a slight headache. Later that evening, we attended the family dinner with all the extended family.

Day 356 Peaceful Sanctuary (12.21.12) – The view from my mom’s front porch. Isn’t it beautiful?

On Saturday, I took Mom to do a little Christmas shopping in Morristown. Governor’s Square Mall was crowded and noisy; so we didn’t stay very long. After I dropped Mom off at home, I took a drive out to Douglas Dam in order to “recharge my batteries.” I had hoped to visit the Great Smoky Mountains while I was home this time, but there wasn’t an opportunity. At least, I got to see them from a distance at Douglas Dam. The view from the overlook there is quite beautiful.

Day 357 Douglas Dam at Sunset (12.22.12) – View from the lower overlook.

The video is from the upper overlook. I’m sorry this video is a little shaky. It was really cold out there! “Douglas Dam is a hydroelectric dam on the French Broad River in Sevier County, Tennessee, in the southeastern United States.” [Via – Wikipedia]

Again on Sunday morning around the same time as Friday morning, I awoke to the sounds of moaning coming from Mom’s room. I rushed into her room; and this time, I found her pinned between the wall and the bed. I quickly phoned my sister after I managed to get the bed moved over enough to give her a little more space. She told me to call 911 so we could get some answers as to what was going on. Two ER’s later, she was finally admitted to the hospital for observation and medication adjustments.

Day 358 Prayers for Mom (12.23.12)

I don’t have the words to express the emotional turmoil that I’m sure my mother is feeling at this time. No one wants to spend Christmas in the hospital. The added expense of more hospital bills certainly adds more stress than she needs. I was surprised to learn that hospital staff were already harassing her for money before she even left the ER. That was so wrong!

I worry a lot about her living alone, but she is determined to remain independent and stay in her own home. And why shouldn’t she? It’s where she is most comfortable. The house is paid for. Selling it now would only cause her more emotional and financial stress in the long run.

Day 359 Hospital Christmas Tree (12.24.12)

There are no easy answers when it comes to caring for aging parents. It’s a difficult situation to be in. I feel my mother deserves the respect and freedom to make her own choices, but I’m also feeling pressured to abandon my own life to go care for her. A conversation was relayed to me by my sister between her and Mom’s doctor that led me to believe that this is expected of me since I’m not working and “otherwise unattached.”

I understand how hard it is to be dependent on others for personal care because I’ve been in that situation for many years, now, due to my own mental illness. I rely on David for many things like reminding me to eat and to tell me if my thinking is irrational. He’s the one person who was consistently there for me over the last 12 years when others were not, even when we were not dating.

Since my family has never acknowledged my personal issues or witnessed first-hand any of the struggles in my own life over the last 16 years, I can’t expect them to understand why asking me to do this could be dangerous for the both of us. I don’t exactly have the best judgment. I never have. Believe me when I say, I’m not trying to make excuses here. I’m simply stating my experience.

Day 360 Merry Christmas (12.25.12)

Well, it wasn’t my intent to turn this blog entry into a rant; but it is what it is. I needed to get a few things off my chest. I’m convinced that no one in my family reads my blog, so I feel that my openness won’t be judged harshly by my faithful readers. I do hope each and every one of you had a very Merry Christmas! I hope the New Year brings each of us closer and blesses us with peace and prosperity.

Day 361 Red-bellied Woodpecker (12.26.12)

This last photo brings me up-to-date with my 366 project. We got a light dusting of snow today and a flurry of activity at the bird feeder. I saw Blue Jays, Downy Woodpeckers, lots of Cardinals (as always), Tufted Titmouse (Titmice?), Eastern Bluebirds, and of course, this Red-bellied Woodpecker. I’ve tried to get a good photo of him for ages! This one is better than nothing.

As always, thanks for stopping by! And feel free to leave comments or suggestions.

Day 350 Clouds Rolling In

Day 350 Clouds Rolling In by pixygiggles
Day 350 Clouds Rolling In, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

I stayed outside for the better part of half an hour at sunset taking photos of the clouds and sky. I really wanted to capture that little sliver of moon, but the clouds were moving too fast. It remained hidden most of the time I was out there, only peeking out briefly. By the time I came back in my fingers were numb. It’s a good thing I came in when I did because a downpour came not even 10 minutes later.

Day 342 Brooding Sky

Day 342 Brooding Sky by pixygiggles
Day 342 Brooding Sky, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

The skies this past week have reflected my own mood, dark and brooding. The week started off pretty raunchy. I wanted to attend Cookeville’s Christmas parade Monday night and even made the attempt to go. However, I left my house much later than intended and didn’t anticipate problems in finding a place to park my car. After half an hour of driving around aimlessly, I became overwhelmed and frustrated with the crowd. I finally returned home, completely missing the parade. The rest of the week seemed overshadowed by this disappointment.

Financial stress is weighing heavily on my mind. I’ve been through much harder times than these, but the holidays make it so much worse. Commercial advertising during this season does little more than sicken and disgust me. Even if I had the money to shop for loved ones, I’m not so sure that I would be able to do so in good conscience. David calls it “Gimme Day.” Honestly, I can’t blame him a bit for that. I seem to find myself redefining what the holiday season means to me and what traditions I wish to include in the celebration thereof.

Having been brought up in a Christian household, I understand the reasoning behind, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” As a child and teen, I would have argued that myself. However now, I see this holiday season as so much more than only the observed celebration of Christ’s birth. Further back in history, celebrations of this time of year observed the cycles of change that affected everyone’s life and a renewed hope that all would be well. I so look forward to the winter solstice which marks the turning point of the year when the “rebirth of the sun” begins the gradual increase in sunlight once again. This aspect of the holiday is so often overlooked nowadays.

Here it is closer to midnight than I intended to release my thoughts. I will only add that I’m sorry that I’ve been a little more quiet than usual in my comments and responses lately. I’m afraid that the darker the days grow so does my mood and my ability to communicate effectively. At least I know in my heart that this cycle is one of contemplation and introspection. It’s as necessary as the leaves falling from the trees. Change is guaranteed in that respect. The end of one cycle brings hope for new beginnings.

Day 303 A Golden Sunset

Day 303 A Golden Sunset by pixygiggles
Day 303 A Golden Sunset, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

I know, I’ve taken several photos of sunsets over the course of my 366 photo challenge. For the most part, I try to limit them to only a couple per month. I wish I could find that perfect place in Cookeville to watch the sun setting in the sky. The skies should be quite beautiful this week as the cloud coverage from Hurricane Sandy makes its way across the states. Best wishes to everyone in the path of the storm. Stay safe!

Day 252 Evening Sky

Day 252 Evening Sky by pixygiggles
Day 252 Evening Sky, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

Tonight’s sky was absolutely gorgeous. Storm clouds are still hovering overhead from this morning’s tempest that blew through. Aw, perhaps, tempest is too strong a word as it really wasn’t too horribly bad here. David and I checked the radar several times last night, watching it creep closer and closer. I decided to go to bed around 2:45am; and just as I was drifting off to sleep, a loud thunder crack startled me awake. I jumped so hard that I startled Moses who was nestled under the covers sleeping on my lap. I had to laugh at myself and David when he came in the bedroom and asked, “Did it get you?” He knows me well. I’m not afraid of storms. Actually, I quite enjoy them; but I startle very easily.