Rise above



When the noise of this world becomes too loud, rise above it.

Grand opening



Another grand opening this morning. Now there are two passion flowers in the garden.

The Lion King and her mom



The ever-mellow PBJ and her giant sleeping baby a.k.a. The Lion King (or Lil Red Buttons).

The passionate passion flower


Six days ago, my passionvine produced the very first passion flower in my garden. The next day, perhaps exhausted from all of the beauty it put forth, it pretty much closed up shop. Today, it opened again and was even more beautiful than the first time I saw it.

It seems that passion flowers have moods -- or at least this one does. As I stood there admiring it, I noticed the next bloom on the vine. I think it may open tomorrow morning ... you know ... if it feels like it.

I am so loving the passion flower.





My friend Charles



This is Charles, my mechanic, checking my tire pressure earlier today. He swears he wasn't up there to stalk other living things that night be running up and down the driveway and assures me that my tire pressure is just dandy. Of course I want to believe him ... because he looks pretty trustworthy, right?

Caterpillar journey



This gulf fritillary caterpillar was wandering on the passion vine. I believe it was looking for a starting point for the next step in its journey. I hope the caterpillar chooses wisely. Chrysalides have been disappearing and a very vocal blue jay is the main suspect.


Letting go



I love how caterpillars shed their past skin in order to begin anew ... but not without stopping to reflect on it first.

Caterpillars on passion vine



Zebra longwing and gulf fritillary caterpillars have much in common, such as their love for the passion vine.

A tale of two tabbies


My two very favorite kitties, PBJ and Lil Red Buttons (mother and daughter), cuddling ...



... and watching squirrels on a rainy morning.

Beach hours


As much as I love the warmth of the sun, my skin no longer welcomes it. But I find that enjoying a few beach hours in the very late afternoon/early evening has a charm all of it's own.











A perfect end to a perfect weekend.


Imagining the future



Gulf fritillary caterpillar focusing on its future --- as a butterfly.


Passionflower



Today my passion vine gave me a gift -- the very first passionflower in my garden. I didn't even see this one coming ... and suddenly there it is!

Bare trees




I've always loved the look of bare trees against blue sky. It's not that I hate leaves (I LOVE leaves). Maybe it's just that I sometimes miss other seasons ... like winter, when the trees are bare enough to make you appreciate the times when they are filled with leaves ... and vice versa.


Spider arrival



I found this spider seemingly setting up shop in the garden this morning ... close to a village of tiny caterpillars.


Freshly emerged







Some things are meant to be shared ... like this vision of a freshly emerged monarch butterfly that emerged from its chrysalis in the garden this morning.


Vulnerability



Zebra longwing caterpillar resting up for the next chapter, which I suspect will begin tomorrow morning. He/she is already attached to the leaf above and hanging upside down. It's a very vulnerable position for a caterpillar because at this point, there's really no turning back. I hope to watch the transformation to chrysalis but it's possible that this is the last time I will see him/her in caterpillar form.

Charles



I call him Charles ... Every time I leave the house, I have to first check the front tires of my car ... and frequently have to scare him off the top of the driver's side tire where he likes to hide out and stalk other living, running, crawling things that might run up the driveway by pouncing on top of them.

Despite his research and strategies, he very nearly became the meal of a female grackle the other day. He's lucky to have been spared. Perhaps it will make him kinder toward other living things ... but I am not altogether sure about that.

Life on a passion vine



Just a few of the many tiny caterpillars and eggs on the passion vine this morning.

Zebra longwing laying eggs



This is one of several zebra longwings depositing more eggs on the passion vine today.

Eggs on chrysalides



Butterfly eggs are everywhere ... even on the chrysalides.

Tabby party





The cats seem kind of serious tonight.


Dinner reservations in Hollywood Beach



Party of eight ... oceanfront view please.

Assassin bugs




Did you know that today is National Assassin Bug Day? OK, I just made that up ... but if there was such a day I would share this photo album of my backyard friends who like to pierce, paralyze and the suck the body fluids out of their prey.

Man o'war



Man o'war among the seaweed.

The world of goose barnacles



I set out to walk on the beach earlier tonight and within minutes encountered a large stick, probably 8 to 10 feet, with many small shells attached to it.

I knelt down to have a closer look and discovered little tentacles reaching out of a few of the shells. As I watched, the tentacles began to emerge a little more and reach around. Then they would go back in and then come back out ... like they had landed in a new place and were beginning to check out their new world. It was fascinating. 

A woman and her daughter, who were picking up trash on the beach, saw me watching them and came over to explore too. They told me that they had found a much smaller stick earlier in the day with these shells on them. None of us knew exactly what they were or if the creatures inside them would survive out of water overnight, so we decided to return it to the ocean in case the waves didn't come far enough to reclaim it.
 
I have since learned that the little creatures I watched were barnacles --- goose barnacles. Until tonight, one of the few things I knew about barnacles was that they got stuck to the bottom of boats. Now that I have identified the tiny octopus-like creatures, I'm reading more about them.

Here's a link to a Mother Nature Network article on The curious history of the goose barnacle.


Check out those tentacles.


Cats I Know and Love



I haven't taken as many nature photos recently because a) my camera is in rough shape and I haven't scoped out a replacement for it yet, and b) I vowed to spend more of my spare time organizing the photographs I've already taken.

To that effect, I'm currently in the process of arranging many of the images in public albums. Meanwhile, here is a collection that has nothing to do with the outdoors and everything to do with some of my very favorite kitty friends.

The kitty in the center of the photograph above -- the one who is hugging the cat just beside her -- is Lil Red Buttons when she was just a kitten.  She still sleeps like that, next to her mom, PBJ. : )

My visit with an old friend


Sometimes I go a long time without visiting the beach, but when I return it's like reuniting with an old familiar friend ... and we can pick up right where we left off.



I could listen to the sound of waves forever.



The ocean returning to collect some of the seaweeds it dropped off earlier.
 
 
 
 So long seaweeds.
 


It was a beautiful day at the beach. 


 

In the garden



I love photographing the small creatures that often go unnoticed.

Beach break


This turned out to be just what I needed today.



I think it's Jonathan.



There is something about the combination of sky, waves, sand and seagulls that makes everything else seem small by comparison.