I've been thinking a lot about contrast lately, particularly our liking for it, our comfort with it.  We like things to be visually well defined. The picture on the left is of an egret, fishing on a glassy, grey day in Florida. The water is so like mercury, so fluid and silvery that it draws our minds eye away from the extraordinary grace of the bird.  I coud have photographed the egret in a field of green grass by the side of the road.  Would that be a better picture?

On the right is a picture of Cypripedium Regina, a rare bog orchid that is growing in our back yard.  Lots of contrast, a cozy relationship between the pink and the green.  Very distinct.  Dappled sunlight, shadows, a joy to behold.  Much more comfortable than the egret.

I think we like contrast in our emotional lives as well.  Drama is about contrast. Lots of high feeling makes us feel unique and special, separate and distinct--like the pink lady slipper shadowed on the green leaves.

Spanish Moss

It turns out that it is neither Spanish nor moss--who knew?  Actually it is a flowering Bromeliad, an epiphyte like an orchid.  It doesn't hurt the tree it grows on except it increases wind resistance, which can be deadly in a hurricane.

Is there a metaphor here?

Partial Giant Sequoia stump

This tree was hundreds of years old when it was cut down.  At 250 feet in height and 20 feet in diameter these trees are some of the oldest living things on earth.  Turns out that when you cut them down, they are so massive and heavy that they shatter on impact making most of the wood unusable.

Another metaphor perhaps.

Sea Lions napping under the Santa Cruz wharf

Boy, these guys sure know how to take a break. I don't know why they remind me so much of Lucca.

Also I'm confused about the difference between a wharf, a pier, and a dock; another mystery I guess.

Mystery Woman

I encountered this woman high on the cliffs above the raging Pacific in Davenport, California.  It was a bright, sparkling day and the surfers were in high spirits but she was unapproachable.  I took this picture with a long lens, surreptitiously.

I found out later that she was a fugitive from the state of Maine wanted for fraud, embezzlement, and using false identities.  Evidentially she abandoned her decrepit, overbearing husband and as they say 'took the money and ran'.

She is still at large.  If you have any information about her whereabouts, please contact the local FBI field office.

Manresa State Beach

Big Sky, big surf, big beach, lots of yellow flowers on the bluffs.  Dangerous rip tides, no one one really in the water. Today was a high surf day and there were folks who were obviously spending the day.  It was overcast and cool and the roar of the surf was deafening.  Really couldn't have a conversation without raising your voice.  Yet hundreds on the beach, tremendous energy coming off this ocean.


Castroville, the artichoke capital of the world

That's right, artichokes as far as you can see.  Like Spanish Moss the artichoke has a confusing history.  It is actually a thistle, hence the choke part and it's really a flower bud not a vegetable.  Even though it's mostly inedible and takes a lot of work, people love them.  Another mystery.  Mostly they are steamed and eaten petal by petal but they are also pureed, smoked and marinated.  And I think they reach their height of deliciousness when deep fried and dipped in fresh ranch dressing.  See picture to the right.

Yes, Rooster Brother's next enterprise

The fried artichoke food truck.  If I just wrote about this, you'd think I made it up, but here's the picture. Here it is cranking out the sublime deep fried artichoke.  I gave up fried food a long time ago but these are amazing.  Of course once you have a truck and a fryolater the possibilities are endless.


Monterey Bay Aquarium (six thousand screaming 4 year-olds and a lot of fish)

Okay, we'll stipulate that penguins are very strange animals.  And we'll stipulate that people are strange too.  But these two creatures, the girl and the penguin are literally right next to each other. Maybe she's texting and the bird is dreaming about how great it was in Antarctica where Leopard Seals and Killer Whales were having them for lunch everyday.

Kind of an interesting role reversal, don't you thinkā€”the girl is in the bubble and the penguin is on the loose.