Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Best Things

Smooch, originally uploaded by Paul-G.

This is our youngest daughter and her fiance, at a family pre-wedding cook-out. The wedding is just four weeks away now. Both are firefighters, both are amazing kids with great hearts, great ambition, focus, and drive. These are tough economic times, but Derek and Tracy remind everyone who meets them that there is great hope for the future -- absolute reason to be optimistic.

It will be sweetly heartbreaking to walk her down the aisle -- but I know that I am helping to move her on to a life of meaning that will inspire all of us within their circle of contact. These are the best things... simple.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect, originally uploaded by Paul-G.

Yet another fantastic north Florida spring weekend. No obligations to speak of, we planned to continue the hard work of recovering our back yard after the hard winter. Twenty-eight freezes is a lot of cold for semi-tropical flora to handle, and we lost much -- but are relishing the opportunity provided to replace the frost-vulnerable plants with more hardy north-Florida varieties. So Saturday was was "visit the nursery" day -- then more clean-up and planting, fertilizing, watering and patching. And Sunday was our day of "rest".

Some of our lantana have started to bloom, but not enough yet to attract the butterflies back to the yard -- so we set off to Alpine Groves Park -- a restored citrus farm on a bluff overlooking the east bank of the Saint Johns River. There I found the monarch in the photo above. I was moving in with my macro (close-up) lens for one last eye-to-eye shot when he bolted at the same instant that I depressed the shutter. I thought I'd lost him, but found this left behind in the camera. Fantastic luck! Then it was lunch (crab) at Six Mile Creek and back to the house for more yard work and a two mile walk as the sun headed west. Now a couple of chapters from the books I'm currently reading (Lincoln's Virtues, and Shakespear's Two Gentlemen of Verona). Weekends don't get much better than this... simple.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Losing Florida

Finding Florida, originally uploaded by Paul-G.

The past 5 days have brought amazing contrasts. The image above is a Swallowtail Kite hunting in the skies above the Seminole State Forest, about 15 miles west of Sanford in central Florida. This image is from a distance of about 250 - 300 yards. Mrs. Muse, her sister and husband, and I spent Easter weekend camping the way nature intended, 5 miles into the forest. Other than the occasional sound of a jet engine and the daily visit from Ranger Linda, we neither saw, nor heard another human being. What we did see were the piney woods, stands of live oak, open Florida sand hill prairie, sulphur springs, Hawks, the Kite, wild turkeys, deer, skinks and lizards, sand hill cranes, Florida Spring Wildflowers, butterflies and Blackwater Creek. Then, of course, there were the gnats, red bugs, ants, and ticks -- but they were well worth the price of minor annoyance. Nothing quite like sitting under a broad, black Florida sky on a Saturday night counting the passage of satellites and watching shooting stars flash by. Fantastic. Then there was yesterday...

Once again, a State of Florida agency, supposedly existing in order to protect our natural resources, acted shamefully, foolishly, stupidly. The Saint Johns River Water Management District Board voted to permit the DAILY withdrawal of more than 500,000 (half-a-million) gallons of water from the Saint Johns River to meet the needs of the exploding population of Seminole County. This is the same SJWMD Board that limits residential irrigation to 2 days each week (still probably too much), and is likely to grant a permit to Niagara Water to draw 175,000 gallons per year from the aquifer to bottle and sell. Political appointees at their worst. Follow the money and it very likely ends up in the pockets of board members or their supporting cast of Florida real estate developers. Keep the population growing, keep the cash flowing, but ignore the vast majority of knowledgeable scientists, environmentalists and city governments along the Saint Johns who testified that the scientific evaluation of the impact of the withdrawal is incomplete. One must hope that the ink on the dollar bills will quench the thirst of these dolts when the water is gone.

So we protect a wee bit of natural Florida -- then do what Florida good-old-boy politicians do best: suck the life out of the land for a few dollars more. When WILL they ever learn.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Will McLean Festival, 2009

Songweaver, originally uploaded by Paul-G.

Mrs. Muse and I spent this past weekend among friends and family performing with The Ashley Gang, shooting photos, and listening to the music at Willfest 2009. That's Amy Carol Webb in the picture above, performing on the Magnolia Stage along the banks of Florida's Withlacoochie River.

It was a peaceful, yet powerful weekend as I was reminded of the power of words and melody. My busy life doesn't allow me the time I once had for making music and enjoying the sounds made by friends accumulated over 25 years in Florida. These are musicians who care about Florida's heritage and Florida's future -- preserving that bit of natural, undeveloped beauty that yet hangs on against the flood of cash hungry "growth" agents. Even out in rural Dunnellon (levy County) you can see it and feel it as the city of Ocala spreads west into the oaks and subdivides the horse farms. Where there used to be an occasional sink hole, the land is now pock-marked by dry retention ponds. We sing loudly and with passion because we have so much to loose.

So, passion for making music renewed, we came home, we went back to work, and began to look forward to the next opportunity to come together and sing our memories, celebrate friends gone and friends still here, and sit around the campfires to swap tunes.

As norm would say... let's have a tune!  Here's Rod McDonald, on stage at WillFest...Simple...

(More photos from the festival are on my website HERE)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Crack in the Sky

Crack in the Sky, originally uploaded by Paul-G.

Quick post -- life's been crazy busy, but not half bad. Heading down to Dunnellon Florida for the Will McLean Music Festival this weekend. Will be performing Saturday and Sunday with the Ashley Gang. If you're in the vicinity -- stop by and say hello!