Saturday, June 30, 2012

It's a tad chilly here

It's been two days since I quit my job, and I'm left wondering:

a) Did I give it enough of a chance?
b) Is Double D ever going to speak to me again?

It's been a little "chilly" at my house lately, if you know what I mean. So yesterday I drove out to the graveyard and sat beside my mother's grave with visions of crawling in there with her. Sorry to be so morose. Too many events in six months for the average person (me) to cope with, I guess.

After my pity party I drove out to my grandparents' property which my Uncle Jay now owns. I called to let him know that I'd be out there and he told me to pick whatever I wanted from his garden and enjoy myself. Shortly after I arrived, a distant cousin named CJ drove up on his tractor. We had a nice chat, then he mowed the grass and I found some insects to photograph. We both finished at the same time so he invited me to follow him up the road because he wanted to give me some vegetables from his garden. That little act of kindness brightened my day considerably.

Sometimes I wish I lived out in the country where people seem to care and share more. There's more time to just be and relax. I've seriously contemplated buying a piece of property where my mother and I grew up so that my children will always have a connection with the place. But I think I've made too many major decisions this year already, so I'm going to let that thought marinate for a while.

These are the spiders that used to freak me out as a child. According to my friends at Project Noah, it's a banana spider.

I've not seen a dragonfly with this color scheme before. I believe it's a female blue dasher.

This one appears to have something green on his chin...hmmm....

Looks like he's eating a bug!  Do y'all see that, too?

These interesting insects were all over the tomato plants. He's got a southwest design going on, don't you think?

Hope it thaws out around here soon because if it doesn't I'm going to be taking a trip somewhere, anywhere, very soon. Watch out, I might just end up on YOUR doorstep. Don't worry, I jest. :) Y'all have a good one. I promise my next post will have a happier tone.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Ninth Day

Today was my ninth and last day on the new job. An emotional wreck, I turned in my notice after lunch. As an aside, a bright young woman I had trained with the first week had also quit that morning. We were both hired the same day and quit the same day. I'll bet that doesn't happen often.

In my case, the CEO turned out to be a rather cool, detached type that did not go out of his way to make me feel welcome. Every day I went to work with either my stomach in knots or in tears or both. For my health and sanity I saw no other option. The HR manager and the girl who trained me were so supportive and understanding. They admitted that the CEO is "different" and they seemed genuinely sorry that it didn't work out. Even after they realized I wasn't going to change my mind, they were kind enough to tell me that out of the three candidates I was first choice on everyone's list, and that they still feel like they made the right decision. They told me I did an excellent job and wished me well.

But I can't place all the blame on the CEO. The major life upheavals I've had this year certainly added to the problem: losing my mother, moving out of state, my eldest son struggling to survive in L.A. Starting a new job was just another huge life change that I wasn't quite ready to tackle.

After I took a Xanax and pulled myself together, I took some photos in my garden, which was a lot like therapy. I love zinnias and I'm always fascinated by their different stages of development. Each stage is unique for each flower and yet they're all beautiful.

This was me the first day at the new job--tightly wound but eager to open up.

This is me the second week--just getting ready to bloom. But look! Oh, no, there's a little white bug! Looks benign so I let it roam. Big mistake.

The rest of these could have been symbolic of my development, given the right conditions.

This is what I could have blossomed into if cultivated properly.

I'm sure I'll find something else after I lick my wounds and pull myself together. I just hope I am able to do so soon!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My Big Adventure

A few days after my mother's funeral I went to stay with my dad and his wife for a couple of days. In an effort to cheer me up my dad contacted the owner of an exotic ranch in a nearby town and paid him $100 to cart me around in his ATV so I could take pictures. I hadn't shot anything in well over a month and wasn't sure I'd ever shoot again. My mind was in a bad place. If exotic animals didn't reignite my love of photography, nothing would.

A wealthy recluse, this man invented a sophisticated device for underwater drilling. His passion is hunting, so he bought hundreds of acres of land to import exotic game from Africa such as elk, axis, nilgai, black buck, antelope, bison, wildebeest, fallow deer, and oryx. 

I walked up to the ranch owner to introduce myself, carrying my camera and 400mm lens, and he says, "What the hell is that?" Then he spit a disgusting wad of tobacco juice on the ground. Mortified and speechless and happy the wad missed my shoe, my dad quickly explained that we were there for photography. "Hmph!"

With tobacco juice residing precariously on his chin like fresh oil, the Beverly Hillbillies theme song came to mind. Sitting directly behind him in the ATV I couldn't help noticing his oily, matted hair which begged me to fetch a bottle of Prell (he needs the strong stuff, y'all). Within the first few minutes I realized this would be no picnic. Forget the endearing Clampetts, scenes of Deliverance began flashing through my head. 

The man is almost deaf, so in order to stop for a photo I had to tap him on the shoulder, which meant I had to touch his filthy camouflage jacket. Further intensifying my uneasiness, he seemed to get annoyed when I'd ask him to stop. Therefore, I was forced to be frugal with my requests, vowing after each touch of his jacket to remember my antibacterial hand sanitizer. My germaphobia was on high alert.

Here's a small sampling of what I managed to get that day.

Once the safari photo shoot was over, Jed Clampett pulled the ATV next to a large rock at the edge of a pond and without a word drew his rifle out and blew a turtle to smithereens. Well, I was pretty incensed and just wanted to leave before my blood got to the boiling point. That poor turtle was innocently sunbathing, minding his own business and BOOM! Life over.

These beautiful animals, although well cared for, are basically sitting ducks for hunters that pay mega-bucks to slaughter them for trophies. At least out in the wild they'd have a chance, but here at this ranch they are accustomed to people and the sound of vehicles, lulling them into a sense of security. And it's just wrong. Too much money in the wrong hands is a travesty.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Up close and personal

I'm not gonna lie, my first few days on the new job have been quite stressful. Having no previous job experience in the banking industry, I was overwhelmed by all the government rules and regulations. Even though my job is assisting the CEO and will have little to do with banking, I still have to pass examinations on The Patriot Act, Bank Secrecy Act, etc. Then my trainer confidently (and wrongly) assumed I could pass the Sexual Harassment exam without studying the module. Yep, I failed it and had to take it again. Embarrassment #1 has been documented, and I have a sinking feeling there are many more to come. Tomorrow I actually get to train for the JOB I've been hired to do, but I still have five exams left to take.

Enough of that nonsense.

I came home today and found my little dragonfly buddy waiting for me in the garden. For the last two days he (or she) has been smitten with the skinny metal posts holding up my tomato plant. Isn't she cute? I shot all of these with my 35mm f/2.0 on a tripod. She let me get that close. This made me happy.

Can anyone ID this little cutie?

Big ol' smile!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Destroyers

Oh, happy day! The azaleas in front of the house are getting ready to bloom again! It made me giddy to know that we do indeed have the Encore Azaleas. As I was admiring the new blooms I noticed an interesting caterpillar so I hurried inside to retrieve trusty Mabel II (my camera). After my eyes became adjusted to the foliage I noticed more and more and more of these suckers until I was all, "We've got a frickin' army of these things! This can't be good." 

It was about to rain so I went inside to consult with Google. Turns out these are azalea caterpillars or datana major. Azalea leaves are their crack, but they'll also settle for apple, blueberry, red oak and rhododendron. 

Today was a clear day so I continued my observations, noting that the bushes these little devils were on the night before were pretty bare, and "the family" were now latched onto the next bush, having themselves an enormous feast.

As much as I wanted, I just could not harm them; after all, they are God's creatures doing what they were designed to do, but I felt for my azaleas as well! Not fair to them, right? So I hand plucked each caterpillar, gently placing them in a plastic container as green goop ran down my arm. I don't know if they puked or pooped on me, but EWWWW! Being a nature-loving gal has its down side for sure.

I got a little too close with my camera and this one reared back, trying to threaten me I think. But I just laughed.

Another angry little devil. Hee!

My little captives. I even threw in some crack so they wouldn't have withdrawals. It was the least I could do.

Safely at the edge of the woods behind our house, hoping they do not find their way back!

And that was a good portion of my Saturday afternoon! Hope you had more fun than me. Or is it I?

Edit: Thanks to Hilary at The Smitten Image for selecting this post for Post of the Week! I always have a good day if I win POTW. I was having a pretty sucky week on the new job until today, then I came home and found this. Thanks again, Hilary! :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Partying is for the birds

Today I moved a bird feeder that was in a remote corner of the yard and placed it next to the established popular hangout to see what would happen. It was as though a new nightclub opened and there was no bouncer to control the influx of partiers that wanted in. 

Stop shaking the dance floor guys! I'm gonna fall off!!!

There, that's better. Boys on one side and girls on the other.

What the??????? INCOMING!!

Stick with me Stella, I'll protect you.

Look at this rogue sparrow, would ya? Who let him in? The nerve. Nobody talk to him.


Stop flappin' your wings and get a grip, woman!

That new hangout is sinful. As the resident cardinal I'll pray for their gluttonous ways.

While those idiots are jockeying for position at the new club, I'm gonna grab all the juicy morsels from the old place. 


Sharing with World Bird Wednesday and Rural Thursday.

Edit: Thanks, Hilary for selecting this for Post of the Week! What an honor!!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Flowers ++

Not too much going on this week...

just trying to see and do and visit loved ones before I...

get ready...


Yes, I got the job. Woot! Thanks for all the prayers, well wishes, and good thoughts sent my way. I really appreciate it! Unless something out of the ordinary comes up to prevent me from taking on this fabulous position (with the year I've had it wouldn't surprise me), I will start on June 18th. Three miles away and NO PANTYHOSE. Did I mention that already? Hee.

These are flowers I've seen lately, some unidentifiable. If you can help me ID them I'd be thrilled to pieces.

ID #1 needed
Indian Pink - thanks, Mamabug!

Coneflowers - notice the heart vine so gracefully growing through them.

ID #2 needed

ID #3 needed

Update: Duranta from the Verbena family
Thanks, Deanna!

ID #4 needed
Flowering Maple
Thanks, Pat at Bailey Road

Captured this green anole one second before he jumped off the foot of a staute

EDIT: Sorry, I forgot to say what the job was: Executive Assistant to the CEO of a local credit union.