Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond

In addition to the many interesting posts made at The Daily Post each day, they share photo challenges that results in WordPress bloggers posting about inspiring and thoughtful photographs. A recent challenge was to post a photo “that invites the viewer to look beyond” to see “hidden depths in the background”.

This photo was taken at the North Shore of Hawaii where we were waiting to board a boat to take us cage diving with sharks. At the time, I took this just as a quick snap to remind me of what the marina looked like. It was serene here in the early morning with just a gentle lapping of water audible.

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Later when I saw the picture on my computer, I was struck by how many different details jumped out at me. The boat in the foreground stands out first. But then you notice the stillness of the water and the detail of the structure in the background along with its reflection. The wood grain texture of the aging storage cabinet in front with peeling paint adds something too. Finally, the foreboding presence of dark clouds approaching in the background provides a background for it all.

As a footnote, we should have thought better of our trip with those clouds rolling in, as the cold, pitching seas that we dove in that day resulted in my husband and I being the most seasick we’ve both ever been. But we managed to suffer through it and still got to dive with the sharks in the beautiful azure Pacific ocean.

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Daily Prompt: Apply Yourself

One of the many things I love about WordPress is that they provide this nifty site call The Daily Post . This is a site bloggers like myself can receive an extra shot of creativity from in order to consider new and different perspectives to use in blogging. I subscribe to it and receive a daily email that includes a brief question or description designed to spur an interesting topic to consider.

Yesterday’s email entitled “Apply Yourself” asked, “Describe your last attempt to learn something that did not come easily to you”. This stood out to me from the many Daily Post mails I’ve collected as it sums up the entirety of 2012 for me.

I spent all of last year assigned to a new project for work that required me to lead a team of professionals in performing work I was not expert in (but they were) and report directly to a very important customer as being the role responsible for that team’s work. 2012 combined both the steepest learning curve I’ve ever been on with the most stress I’ve ever experienced. For a year. No joke – during work hours, weekends, and in my personal time I worked and worried over this assignment for the entire year.

In order to not only survive in the role and yet still produce quality work, I had to apply myself at a tempo and effort I’ve never known. For weeks at a time, I would work well beyond 12 hr days. Being home-based, it’s really saying something that I’d find myself wandering into our family room some weekend and realizing I’d not sat on my own sofa for days at a time. Television, news and surfing the net were things I simply gave up for small spurts. Once I would wrap up late at night, I’d simply not have the energy or the interest to stare at another glowing screen if I didn’t absolutely have to.

This wasn’t a case of losing myself to my work, it was truly a situation where if I did not put that much work into things, I would not be able to understand the work and thus lose the ability to oversee it. Once a task was needed, I’d not only have to train up on what needed to be done with a mentor or on my own, but then I’d also have to have a team do that work and ensure they did it correctly per timelines (and lead others without letting on that I was learning too). It was not the most desirable methodology, but at the time it was what was needed and I had to forge on.

When I look back on the last year, I feel an enormous sense of pride at what I accomplished and humbly accept the lessons learned as valuable experience to apply going forward. Truly, there were so many positive outcomes that resulted from working so hard at something I initially knew so little about. And while I hope I never have to work that hard for that long of a period of time ever again, if I do, I’ll remember this experience and know I’m capable of much more than I previously thought.

First Snowfall of the Season

We were excited to see the forecast for snow this week. We always enjoy a good snow and we were looking forward to what our neighborhood would look like cover in the white stuff. And boy did we get a great one Thursday night. The snowflakes that fell during the night were the size of half-dollars at one point. The hubby grabbed his fish-eye lens and snapped this picture from the front windows on our second floor.

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The birds were certainly out once the sun rose. This red-bellied woodpecker stopped by as well as a host of all sorts of other birds. He evidently had figured out that he could use his bill to pry open the feeder – thankfully he didn’t actually make it into the seed.

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The back of our house faces woods and it was so peaceful and dreamlike this morning when we woke up.  If the ground hadn’t been such a wet mess from days of rain that came before the snow, I would have loved to pull on my boots and take a stroll.

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It’s almost our own little piece of Narnia here when it snows 🙂

Evening Cloudscape

A typical evening looking off of our back porch towards the setting sun. There is something to be savored in a sunrise or a sunset. I’ve never felt that I’ve wasted time in stopping to quietly appreciate the beautiful beginning or end to the day by watching the sky painted into watercolor.

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Where There Are Birds…

The time it takes may vary, but where you feed birds near civilization you will eventually attract cats or other predators of the sweet little birds you enjoy. We learned this in our first neighborhood where an elderly gentleman fed a local group of feral cats a few streets down. No one every complained about them (that I knew of) and it worked well in keeping the cats together and in a central location.

Our feeders have always been high enough to avoid cats or other predators from catching any birds. We also ensure we locate the feeders far enough away from trees ground cover that any birds pecking at fallen seed can’t be surprised by anything lurking near by.

We learned on moving in that a local family outside of our subdivision also feeds a family of outdoor cats. It was only a matter of weeks before they had trekked through the woods and discovered us. Fortunately, we’ve seen them try to jump and they can’t reach the feeders.

This is one of two cats of that local group we’ve seen take up position by the feeders. The cats don’t come around often, but every few days we see one sulking around the bottom of the feeders since it can’t jump high enough and the birds know to stay away. At some point we plan to move the feeders closer to the house but we’re giving our newly seeded back yard a chance to take first. Being animal people, we now enjoy both bird watching and cat watching as well!

A Deer of a Different Color

This deer frequented our back woods when we first moved into the neighborhood. On catching sight of it, we weren’t sure what it actually was until it raised its head and looked at us. We had only caught sight of its tail and sides and then realized it was a deer. In searching online I believe (correct me if I am wrong) this is called a piebald deer.

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Several of our other neighbors have noticed it before as well and we’re all quite protective of it and the other deer that roam our new neighborhood. We fear that local hunters will hunt it only for the fact that it is different and we are concerned no one has seen it in a very long while. Unfortunately, hunting is allowed within a very uncomfortable distance of our homes and thus the deer. Hopefully we will see it again someday soon; if we’re lucky, we may see a fawn or two in the spring perhaps.

Pileated Visitors

When we moved here, I had never seen a Pileated Woodpecker other than in a book. Since we’ve lived here, they’ve visited 2-3 times – “they” being a pair.

If you look carefully, you can just make out a pair of woodpeckers that were circling the tree they were on.  Unfortunately, all of these photos were a dance trying to focus on the birds and not the endless branches the camera kept focusing on.

By sheer luck I snapped a picture just as one took off. While not the clearest shot, it did give me an idea of what they look like in flight with their head feathers folded back and the white wing markings underneath. I never seem to get great pictures as they remain deeper into the woods than the other birds.

We put out a block of suet for the varieties of woodpeckers we have here. It took a while but now all the woodpeckers from miles around are eating this latest treat it seems. Glad we bought the bulk box of suet as we’ll be going through it for sure this winter!