Monday, June 22, 2009

Back to the Grind

It's back to the grind today after a delightful four day weekend during which I did little other than read, purge some junk from the apartment, visit the parents, and cook. It was nice. Very nice. Calls and/or text messages from work were kept to a minimum (mostly) and those that I did get I generally ingored.

An interesting observation though: usually a little time away from the office restores my energy and enthusiams for it and increases tolerance for all the daily nonsense and pettiness that transpires. But it's a little different this time around. I have no desire, no interest in returning to that wretched place. Tendering my resignation and starting anew somewhere else has a powerful appeal, but it's not realistic at this time, at least not until other employement is secured. Were it not for bills to pay and trips abroad to plan, I would almost risk being unemployed for the short term. to have more coffee in hopes of fully bracing myself for the terror of the day.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dinner June 21

Thai style beef and basil along with rice.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


On a whim this morning, I headed over to Norfolk Stationery to spend a little time lusting over their broad selection of fountain pens and inks. Almost immediately upon arriving, I noticed on a shelf behind the endcap full of Moleskines, a collection of notebooks unfamiliar to me.

"Whazzat?!?" I said to myself.

Writersblok notebooks they were and, as they seemed a viable alternative to Moleskine, I picked up a pack each of the smaller (pocket sized) and medium soft-cover sizes to try out. As to paper selection I chose the dots, which seems a novel concept for those who like blank pages but have the singular inability to keep the lines straight without some sort of guide sheet placed beneath the page. What's more, the dots are somewhat narrower than the lines found in ruled Moleskine journals which is a Godsend for my miniscule handwriting.

So today I've a new thing with which to experiment. I'll write a review of sorts later today or tomorrow after I've put the Writersblok notebooks through their paces.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Today's Wisdom

Tourists don't know where they've been; travelers don't know where they're going.
-Paul Theroux from The Happy Isles of Oceania

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Burn baby burn

Have been somewhat out of sorts today due to a rather severe case of sunburn acquired during a photo expedition to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge yesterday. As it turned out, I egregiously miscalculated (no surprise as I'm bad at math) the sunburn threat. Low and heavy clouds? Pfffft! Will leave the sunscreen at home. As a result of this error, I'm red today, the degree of which is several steps beyond lobster red. It's more along the lines of a mean and angry red. A Republican red.

As yesterday was my first Free Day in ages, I decided a photo expedition was in order and, thus, early in the day I gathered the camera and sallied forth to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge just south of Sandbridge in Virginia Beach. With the low clouds and spitting rain, it promised to be an ideal beach day, when conditions are dark and moody and I'm the only person for miles around. This is much preferred to those sunny and hot days when one can't take a shot without some overweight and frightfully under dressed tourist from New Jersey wandering into the frame.

But if anything, I was the one decidedly under dressed yesterday given the brisk north wind and grey skies spitting rain, that overpriced-camera-hating rain which seems to follow me on every photo expedition. Shorts, sandals, and a light polo shirt. Under dressed, yes, but not frightfully so. I had dressed for summer and yesterday was more akin to October. But the rain had stopped by the time i arrived at the preserve, so I decided to press onward along the trails of the Back Bay side in hopes the tangle of bushes and stunted trees would serve as a wind break at least until it warmed enough to allow beach wandering in comfort.

I pressed on along the bayside trails and discovered the open areas within the bushes and shrubby trees teeming with dragonflies of various makes, models, and colors. This pleased me greatly as as I've long been fond of those seemingly clunky, over sized insects. Alas, they weren't particularly cooperative to photographic endeavours save for one which, I would later discover when reviewing the day's photos, was missing a wing. So there it was. Less in the way of photographic prowess, and more in terms of a damaged insect probably in need of a breather. Dragonflies were soon to rise even higher in my estimation when I forayed out along the marsh trail boardwalk where I encountered the wrath of those wretched biting flies-the bane of picnics anywhere near the coast, which soon had me in full retreat back to the sheltered areas of bush and trees. Finding me very much to their liking (or perhaps delicious), the biting flies pursued me into the sheltered clearing. And here the air duel began. As the biting flies swarmed me, the dragonflies swarmed them, those big and surprisingly unclunky insects diving here and there in close proximity to me, presumably picking off their lunch. Within moments the biting flies had vanished as had the dragonflies and I was left alone wishing I had studied Odonata and not Diptera for the masters in biology.

Having been cleared of biting flies by my new Odonatan friends, I wandered back towards the trailhead and onto a low wooden platform over a pond and immediately noticed to my lower right a log floating in the water. A brown scaly log slithering among the light gray branches at the water's edge.

Snakes. Why does it always have to be snakes.

And not just any snake, mind you. A cottonmouth moccasin about three feet in length and with a diameter larger than my arm. As is often the case in predator/prey relationships, I froze in place, trembling like a field mouse. A six foot two field mouse. The snake paid me little interest and began to swim out towards open water.

Go away, please. Just go away.

Whether attracted by the clicking of the camera, or perhaps my mouse-like whimpering, the snake stopped, turned and, waving its head left and right, flicked its bifurcated tongue a few times in my direction. A moment of hesitation, a moment of assessment, and serpentine decision.

Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.

With alarming speed, the snake launched in my direction. It's robust body undulating upon the calm surface of the water, leaving a wake in its path. I took defensive measures, but the Vile Serpent was undeterred by the heavy curses hurled in its direction. I then considered my options.

A. Wet my pants
B. Scream like a schoolgurl
C. Run away! Run away!
D. Both A and B
E. Stay and fight like a man

Thankfully I have long legs and with but a few great strides I found myself on the beach, a half mile away, where I spent the remainder of the day photographing waves and shore birds and horseshoe crabs long dead. And getting sunburned. Terribly, terribly sunburned. Even with the by then partly cloudy skies. But at the time, sunburn was the furthest thing from my mind. The beach was deserted save for a few Clean the Bay Days folks in the far distance, visible only because of their bright orange trash bags fluttering in the breeze. I was alone on that beach, with the constant roar of the breakers, blowing sea foam and the smell of salt air, and the flight of birds and sand crabs scurrying here and there, cautiously peering at me with stalked eyes from the safety of their burrows. Here one feels a certain connectedness with their surroundings, where two worlds meet, aquatic and terrestrial, and the life that flourishes at the angry and malleable juncture of the two. There is something restorative about time spent in this setting where life is reduced to things elemental, which, for those so inclined to look deeper at things, constitutes a meditative endeavor.