January Beachlife Sunshine Surprise

The other morning was rather gloomy, as I sat in my car, my hand around a warm cup of Starbucks, that milky caffeine, so overpriced and yet so comforting. I was snuggled in my car, parked at the 4th Street beach access, scrolling through my favorite blogs on the iPhone, easing into morning and the day ahead after another night of too-few hours of sleep. I’m a slow-to-wake girl, being the nocturnal type and all.  I can write at night, when it’s quiet, and I always end up staying up irresponsibly too late.  It’s not like I’m still in college after all.  But after I get those kids to school on time – no tardy slips for my crew – my entire countenance slows to near slumber again.  I like to sit, and  leapfrog around the Internet, from link to blog, here and there, while I sip at my Starbucks and slowly come back to life.

It’s nice when I can sit somewhere with a view of the ocean, reading blogs on the iPhone in my car for a while.  It’s like my prelude to the day, and it’s best when there’s latte involved.  I hate to be so cliche, but there it is.  Jeannie, raw.

On this particular morning last week  I glanced up from my reading just as the early morning sun broke through those dreary clouds close to the horizon over the Atlantic and suddenly: shimmering light.

At that moment, (and moments like these don’t come ’round too often for me  in the early morning like this)  I felt compelled to leave the comfort and privacy of my car, the latte in its cup holder, and make my way onto the sand.  Everyone knows it’s better on the beach, and this morning did not disappoint. With only iPhone to record the morning’s glory, I did my best to capture the rapture I felt when those gloomy skies dissipated and suddenly it was surprisingly shimmering out there. I don’t know if these pictures will convey the feeling of my spirit lifting as it did when that sun came out so  you’ll have to take my word for it.

Macro Monday: Raindrops on Disney

This was my favorite trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando ever.

I stayed in a lovely hotel on the Disney property. I went into Downtown Disney – once.  I saw a movie there. Well, let’s call it two and a quarter movies, if you want to know the truth.  The King’s Speech was fabulous.  You can wait for The Dilemma on DVD, and Country Strong?  It was probably pretty good, and I won’t give away the last twenty minutes.  Having seen that, however, now I’ll probably wait for the DVD.

I went shopping at Nordstrom, made a side trip to Winter Park, and read an entire book.  A heavenly weekend, really.

But technically, I did not enter any of the Disney attractions, although they were on view from the hotel window.  See?

When I changed the focus on my macro lens, looking through the same window a moment later, this was what I saw:

All cozy, inside, with my new novel.  Not standing in line, in the rain, on a Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal holiday,  with kids, for a ride or anything inside the Disney parks.

I’m happier taking pictures of raindrops on windows and reading.

Friday Night Lights, Beach Style

So, yes, it was back in October when we made this little clip and when I watched it again it so perfectly captured a fall evening at the beach I had to post it here. Even if it is “the dead of winter” now.

Then, it was mid October and autumn was settling in around us. It’s always a relief by that time to have our change of season, and especially because we know we’ve got months of glorious weather ahead. Aside from the sometimes cold days and the freakishly frigid weather that does make its way down south and out to the beach at times – fall, winter, and spring are really fantastic months of weather here. During February and March, the live oaks shed their leaves to make way for the tiny leaflets to blossom, so it does require the lawn-raking that gets tedious in a hurry…and it seems a rather constant, gentle falling of leaves for several weeks as beachlife spring emerges. Of course we don’t get those breathtaking color changes of the deciduous trees further north… but I really don’t mind because missing that means I also get to miss Real Winter Weather: snow, sleet, slush, dangerous driving conditions, pot-holed roadways, rock salt all over my car, and sunless days – seemingly gray skies for weeks on end. Get the picture?

Now, it’s colder outside but still great for golf, biking, surfing in a wet suit, and wearing the fall clothes I’d snapped up even as early as August (those boots! had to have them! both pairs!). But this evening, as pictured above, was one of many we get to enjoy, living at the beach. Living here isn’t for everyone, but the coast speaks to my soul, so to have landed here has been a really happy thing.

Macro Monday: A Night of Lights

The inspiration.

She wasn’t sure what the homeowners thought of the girl with a camera and tripod, who moved stealthily about the periphery of their front yard. It wasn’t quite dark when she stopped her car, having had an aha! moment when she saw so many lights, twinkling lights.  She definitely knew she ought to knock at their door and just explain her mission; surely they would not mind. The odder way was to do what she did, traversing their expansive yard with her tripod and camera, staying close to the street, until dusk became dark. Then she packed up her gear and drove off. She had no manners left on that evening, none at all. She wonders if they even noticed her activity; it did appear that people were home. She justified that if they were genuinely curious, or concerned that a weirdo was doing photography in the dark in front of their house, they would have come out to have a word with her.

But no one did, and that was that.

This is what she saw:

The end.

January, Juxtaposed

It was pretty gloomy around here a couple of days ago, and cold, too.

But I braved the misty oceanfront for a few minutes of ‘pick-me-up’ despite the dreary day.  I really have nothing to complain about. We get so much sunshine here that it can be nice to have a dreary sort of day, once in a while.  A day like that is best spent on a comfy couch, under cozy blankets, dozing.

But I came here, instead.

And made a video for you:

Then I came back the next day, to the same location

to say hello, and make another video for you:

Still, I was surprised to learn that those little kids, far off in the video, playing at the shoreline, were barefooted and scampering around the ocean’s edge.  Really, mom?  I mean, it was like 46 degrees.  They came off the beach as I was hurrying back into my heated car, and I watched as they tried to wipe the sand from their bare feet with baby wipes.  Hmm.  Those kids had to have felt frigid; maybe they weren’t from around here.  I don’t think of 46 degrees as barefoot weather but really, beachlifers are a diverse collection of folks, that I know.

I prefer sunshine, despite the cold temps.  It is the ‘dead of winter’ after all. It was a pretty day, despite the chill.  That golden hour of sunset casts such a warm glow on the beach.

After this, I drove away into the light of a lovely sunset.

Macro Monday: Korean Edition

These pictures are among my favorite items, bought in Korea. I’ve been looking at them in my glass case for a long time. I admire their craftsmanship and always protect them. A few years back, a two-year-old nephew actually tossed one of these precious Korean sculptures and her shoe cracked off. Oh my, I was inwardly roiling with fury! How could he have done that? I know: he was two … but I’d been so careful, transporting them all the way home from Korea and in a single offhand, impulsive toss my beloved figure cracked; maimed! Yes. I was a grown woman, and I was upset. So fine, I was able to repair the shoe with glue, and life went on, and no one would have ever known about it if I hadn’t just written these words but it’s all part of the story, as many beloved things do have a story, a little more history. So now, you know, whoever inherits the girl in hanbok. Be careful of her foot!

One day, oh, in about forty or fifty years – all of which will be healthy and happy and prosperous, creating a wonderful legacy for generations to come (!) – the kids will inherit these pieces. I hope these pieces (and there are more than the snippets you see here) will grace a special place in their home as they do in mine. They’ve grown up looking at them, but probably never really seeing them. I think that’s just the way it is. Some of the favorite items that I inherited from my mom after she left for Heaven were the small things, the objects that were just always there, in the house, and now, they are in mine. Every time I look at one of them it evokes home. I never expected that these little things would be imbued with such meaning for me, but they are. Who’s to say what will mean something to my kids, down the road? But two of them are Korean-born and today, the images are Korean.

I love Korea and will go back there as soon as I can. The shopping is fab, Seoul is a vibrant and fashionable city, alive 24/7, and in the countryside it’s so historical, so beautiful. Koreans cherish their distinct culture. They ache because of their separation from the North. It was one country until the powers that be slashed it into two in 1945. Families are still separated, and so there is still very much the longing for reunification of the peninsula and the people who live there.

The copper colored item with the gold crescent moon and etched wildflowers is a sort of planter. It’s heavy and handmade and I’d no more think of putting anything damp like soil or a plant into it (and do love soil and plants!) than… well, I just wouldn’t do it! It’s such a lovely piece of handmade art and I love metal and texture and the clean lines in its design. Picked it up in Insadong. The minute I spotted it, I knew.

I hope to see Korea again, and this time, visit the lovely Cheju Island, off the tip of the southernmost part of Korean. It’s known as the Korean Hawaii. Cheju Beachlife: what do you think?

(Photo borrowed from a Korean tourism website. Kamsahamnida!)

Into the Muck…

There were only a few minutes of daylight left in yesterday so I made a quick dash to what’s becoming my second favorite go-to place for photos, Dutton Island. A lovely place, but… another sunset?

At least I changed from my Juicys and kicked on the ugly Dansko clogs before I went out there. Otherwise, well, better shoes and pants would have been ruined.

I was desperate for some macro shots but there was too much of a breeze and nature was blowing all over the place; even with the tripod it was no use. So I stupidly decided to walk to the edge of the water, where the wind was pushing at the water, making a frothy, pretty edging at the marsh. A few shots there – nice, but nothing special.

I looked around for something stationary to photograph, and saw clumps of ugly shells stuck to rocks near the dock. Okay. I walked through the wet sand muck and set the tripod. I shot several uninspiring photos of these shells, simply because they weren’t affected by the breeze… but then I started to sink in the muck. And I mean really sink! The tripod’s legs were stuck, as were my feet. I tried to extract myself but lost my shoe to the muck which I started to think of as quicksand! I was more worried about how to get the tripod (with my best lens on the camera) out of there if I was unable to move. Every movement just drove my feet further into the wet and slimy sand (a marsh is no beach). I gave up worrying about not getting muddy right away; it was futile anyway. My shoes were impacted inside and out, my pants, socks and feet were encased. I finally yanked out the deepest foot and freed the tripod with the camera and lens unscathed. (I got my shoes out too.)

All this for not a single good macro shot.

But I like this one, of the water at sunset. Still. It’s just water.

And I didn’t even take a picture of my mucky shoes as proof! I guess I just wanted to get hosed off – shoes, tripod, me, as quickly as possible!

There’s always tomorrow, though. Well, today. And it’s looking pretty lovely outside right now. What am I doing in here?

A New Old Friend – P.S.

Meet my new jacket. I picked it up, marked down, at a local surf shop and I have to say, I’m in love with it. I call it my photographer’s coat. Just a few days home and it already has a special place in my heart. Funny about things, isn’t it? Every now and then you find something that is so instantly it, it’s as though you’ve had it for years, and it fills a void you didn’t know you had.

Hello, jacket. Meet my friends.

Out gallivanting returning some shoes today, I spied this adorable brown hat hanging in hats, scarves, and gloves. Yes, we do have winter here. Of a sort. I used to laugh at people who’d don gloves and coats when temps dipped into the 50s and today I am chief among them. But this isn’t a hat for keeping warm, it’s a hat for style and it called my name as I walked past it. So naturally I stopped to try it on. Since I recently had the straightening treatment on my hair it’s opened a whole new way of dressing, and hat wearing is but one of them. I put it on, and that was the end of it. Another old friend. Strange, how I keep meeting old friends in the oddest of places these days. I’m calling 2011 as being off to a very good start.

The last time I owned and wore a similar sort of hat, I loved it too. A girlfriend reminded me recently of how another girl had made fun of the hat (with me in it) in a ladies’ room on a Saturday night at a concert. I had been oblivious to the teasing, and maybe I’ll be deaf to it again but I’m just a little bit older now and I know this: I really like my hat.

For My Friends in San Marco

San Marco is a lovely neighborhood in Jacksonville, not coastal. Its claim is the magnificent St. John’s River and old neighborhoods with traditional homes, large lawns and splendid trees. If you’re from Michigan, like me, think of it as Birmingham meets the Grosse Pointes. What gives San Marco its community vibe is the Square…the in town pedestrian shopping area filled with entrepreneurial spirit and unique offerings from boutiques to the all-important bookstore to several renown restaurants and a cadre of merchants and residents who care about keeping this neighborhood thriving and lovely. And that it is.

I enjoy driving from the beach to San Marco. I plug in to the iPod (well, the iPhone, but you know…) and listen to my curated content and when I arrive, and debark, camera and tripod in hand, I enjoy wandering their streets, feeling as though I’m in a different world than the beach. Which it is. The vibes are totally different but their similarity is an important one: they are invested in the local community just as the beach is invested in its. When we support the local it enhances our lifestyle, frees us from the “mall-if-i-cation” of America, and lets the free spirit reign where it’s planted. You might not find a San Marco style shop at the beach (but why not?) and you’d more likely not find certain beach style shops in San Marco … but it’s totally cool to hopscotch about the neighborhoods of the greater Jacksonville area because these communities are diverse and have a flavor all their own.

Today, here’s a slideshow of the Holidays in San Marco:

Holidays in San Marco from Jeannie Greenwald on Vimeo.

(The audio accompanying the video is Carol of the Bells, purchased by me via iTunes. If you like it, it’s a great addition to your holiday music library and I’d encourage you to get it too. It’s from the Barenaked Ladies’ Barenaked for the Holidays CD which our whole family loves, year after year.)

I have a favorite park in San Marco already, too, but that will be an ‘Off the Island’ post for another day.

Macro Monday 2011

The only way to do this is to challenge one’s self. One of these weeks I’ll have something to post that really moves me from deep within. You just know it when you see it because you feel it, first. Until the visceral, I’ll post the visual.

I adore the mini orchids I pick up occasionally from a fav little home/garden shop in Jax Beach.

The raindrops came too quickly to consider staying out on the 11th Street beach access in Atlantic Beach and seek some better shots. I skipped back to the dry car with the precious lens and camera still attached to the tripod, to avoid wet, that can ruin equipment.

And so, it was. Er, it is. Macro Monday. Underwhelming, but posted.