Travel

Lovers Key

One of southwest Florida’s little secrets is Lovers Key. Situated inside of Lovers Key State Park, it is not crowded, has pretty easy access from the State Park itself. It’s $8 to drive into the State park – which is probably one of the crowd deterrents considering the other beaches are “free”. The parking at those other beaches is like $20 for a couple hours though so take my advice and check out Lovers Key!

Apart from the sunsets, the beach is a haven for quite a lot of wildlife. We saw crabs, birds, and endless amounts of sand dollars.

Loved our time there! South West Florida – you never cease to bring me the joy I need in my day.

Art

Enamel Pin Collecting

Since late 2019, I’ve been collecting enamel pins for a board in my office. I started out collecting lots of enamel pins from many fandoms but have settled in on Sailor Moon – a series from the 90’s that I really loved as a child. They just recently remade the series so its pretty cool to watch a whole new generation of people fall in love with the stories.

This week I finished the board!

But… I also just bought two more boards because I really loved building this collection! There’s a collectors aspect to it for sure – with many of the pieces increasing in value over time and a few that are so hard to get they sell out in seconds! The thrill of collecting is definitely there so I intend to continue building this collection. Filling a board is a milestone though and I just wanted to share it!

Art, Local

Poetic Kinetics

Friday I had an unexpected day off and I grabbed lunch with a good friend at A Mano, which makes pretty stellar sandwiches, before finding ourselves at the Botanical Gardens. A couple of new installations had opened up. SUPERnatural: Aerial Art in Motion by Poetic Kinetics had gorgeous draped ribbons throughout the forest walk – and the rest of the garden had Glass Art in Bloom by Jason Gamrath.

I’m so glad that I’m getting to go out so much more than 2020 and the first half of 2021! I remember thinking mid-pandemic that an entire year was a long time to wait – with all the experts predicting 10+ months more of quarantining ourselves away from the social world. In a weird way it took forever, but it got here so fast. Glad to be on the tail end of it, at least in my part of the world.

General

Juneteenth

Yesterday President Biden signed into law that Juneteenth would be observed as a Federal Holiday. It’s kind of amazing how much I’ve learned over the last 2 years about the struggles hoisted upon black people in the USA from it’s inception to today. I did go to school here – and took many a history course – but slavery, the time after slavery, all those things were taught as stuff that happened to black people… and never really about the sources of those ideas and systems in place that enabled those things to happen. Shifting my perspective off the people themselves to the attitudes, beliefs, power, circumstances, and structures that allowed it to happen has blown my mind – because many of those things, even if they are lessened or in a different form, are still in place. For example, African Americans, on paper, were given the right to vote in 1870 but not in practice. African Americans were still denied the right to vote by state constitutions and laws, poll taxes, literacy tests, the “grandfather clause,” and outright intimidation.  It took nearly ONE HUNDRED years later to get Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed. Even now, the environment around voting is actively being pushed towards making it harder to vote for certain populations – and for reasons it doesn’t take a genius to read from the landscape. These effects are long-reaching socially, economically and generationally – as were all the effects of voting restriction in this country’s history.

This awareness has led me to become much more involved in local and federal level political direction. I’m also learning to read more of the history of the US written by the people who lived it and written by the historians that study it. Books written not *about* the systems but from *within* the systems also provide a new lens to see things – and has brought additional clarity. Maybe it just removed some of the rose tinting. In any case, I have experienced plenty of the idea that things are better than they were before so no change is needed now. It’s the battle cry of all personas who are perfectly happy to sacrifice others’ progress to maintain standards they’re comfortable with. There is so much of that.

But, I’ve also seem amazing resilience – belief and work towards the core goals despite any setbacks at the fringes and it’s been refreshing, empowering, and honestly magnetic.

Anyway, I want to celebrate Juneteenth because it is representative of the things that are ultimately building this country up to be greater:

  1. Inclusivity of different groups experiences. This holiday is an independence day for one sort of people – enslaved black people . It’s different from July 4th – Independence day – which was independence only for American whites from their British oppressors and freed not a single enslaved person in America.
  2. Representative of the fact that all is not accomplished at once. Enclaved people were technically free after the Civil war but it took two years for it to reach Galveston. There were even more cities that got the news later, and slaves that were freed on a much longer timeline. Juneteenth was an important moment in time but not the first nor the last of the Black journey in America. This is still true today. We have punctuated celebrations – but there is work yet to be done.

It helps me reflect on my cultural heritage – the emancipation of my people from the British whites – and how that was a much different journey due to a different kind of colonialism – but one that still required ousting power from those who had no place wielding it – and doing it unapologetically. Similar stories worldwide help us all reflect on what it means to truly strive for equality – in both presence, access, and attitudes towards each of us.

Last but not least, I have a series recommendation to help expand how African Americans both experienced America through generations – but how they influenced it too – specifically through food. It’s called High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America, on Netflix.

Hope everyone had a reflective Juneteenth – and celebrated the wins in our history, both on Juneteenth and after.

Photography, Travel

Pikes Place, Pop Art & The Gum Wall

Last week I was in Seattle – a long awaited trip far away from home. I hadn’t been to the west coast of the US since late 2019, and then I visited only a sliver of California. We had 9 whole days here in Seattle – yes! The first thing we did the day after we arrived was Pike Place Market!

check out all we did
Photography

Crocus

The crocus in my yard is blooming! I planted them 2 years ago so they’ve naturally multiplied! These bulbs are so nice to see year after year!!

Photography

Saturn and Jupiter’s Conjunction

My friend Kathy texted me last night and mentioned that there was a conjunction of the two planets happening – and so I stepped outside to try and get a shot. Not bad for no telescope!

I took a couple shots of the moon too while I was setup for it. Half moons are real beauts.

A little backyard astrophotography felt good for my soul. I dreamt about seeing the Milky Way again and hopefully one day experiencing the northern lights. Hope you’re having a good holiday season, however you get to spend it!

Photography

Gardens Abloom

I had thought I’d formatted this SD Card with all the photos on it but I had just been absentminded and swapped out a clean one and forgotten. I love the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. It’s too bad that this year, when we bought year-long passes, we were able to enjoy so little of what the garden usually offers. In any case, the photos were a joy to take. Enjoy the gallery!

See the gallery
Photography

Fall In Vogel State Park

One of my goals this year, after all that’s happened, was to spend autumn just exploring Georgia State Parks to absorb the colors. I mean to do it every year, but previously we had so many options during the weekends that we wound up doing something else. Restaurants and larger friend gatherings were the biggest culprits – no longer an option for those being responsible during this pandemic. Hiking has been a self discovery. I find that a balance of physical exertion appropriate for my current body plus the opportunity to photograph and absorb natural beauty is the perfect combination.

Our trip to Vogel State Park took us on three trails – and all of them were spectacularly dressed for fall.

Lake Trahlyta Trail

Lake Trahlyta sits in a valley between a few peaks and its shores were lined with gorgeous color. There’s a single bright yellow maple on one side that really struck me with the way it framed the opposite shore. It’s an easy trail to walk – good for children and anyone with minor mobility issues. There’s also benches all around to simply sit and absorb the splendor.

Lake Trahlyta Waterfall Trail Offshoot

Right off the lake trail is a short set of steps to the waterfall. These falls are created by a manmade dam but they’re still pretty spectacular if you don’t mind their origin story.

Bear Hair Gap Trail

Walking up the gap trail leads to a lot of autumn scenery – especially if you stop and look closely! Crystal clear rainwater running over amber and rust colored leaves was an excellent repeat sight.

The colors all over the changing trees kept me pausing over and over.

Finally you arrive at the peak and have this vantage point pretty much all to yourself. The lake you were just walking around looks so small, but the colors of the trees framing the lake still give it a grand feeling.

It’s an excellent hike, a total of just 6 miles or so, even with the meandering, and I recommend it! Definitely check it out on AllTrails and drop me a photo in the comments if you go!