Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lazy Sunday

With my work schedule being as hectic as it is I usually have a long list of things to do and places to be. On some very luck days I am afforded to opportunity to sleep in. On those rare and beautiful mornings I can look forward to waking up at my leisure buried under a lush comforter with sunlight streaming though my window. I am also fortunate enough to have this fuzzy little face snuggled up next to me. Giving me an adorably persistant reminder that it is past his feeding time.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Buddhist Temple of Tampa

My father instilled a great love of word religion and culture in me from very early age. His curiosity about life often leads our family into some surprisingly exotic adventures. For example, one day we ended up at Wat Mongkolratanaram - a Thai Buddhist Temple located in Tampa.

The stunning golden detailing of the temple was the first thing we laid eyes on as we strolled up from the parking lot. The temple itself is very small but completely breathtaking. 

A serene Buddha greets visitors along the walkway. 

On Sundays the grounds are open to the public for a large scale Thai buffet. 

My sister Jenny reverently carrying her bowl of soup down the steps. 

A view of the sunlit picnic area from the dock. 

These signs were placed randomly all around the Temple area. Each one was hand painted in English and Thai and had different saying on each one. "True love never runs smooth" is a personal favorite of mine. 

The colorful Thai desserts. 

My sisters Jenny and Liz. 

A small sculpture overlooking the river. 

Another shot of the Buddha statue set against the trees and temple roof. 

Orchids on display at the market. 

Golden dishes ceremoniously laid out with pennies.

While I was at the Temple I got used to seeing all of the inspirational quotes painted on the wooden boards. As I was walking around I came across I metal folding chair propped against a tree. It had Thai script written across the back. I was intrigued because it had no English translation and I'm not sure that it was even meant to be seen. I still thought it was beautiful in its peaceful isolation. 

One of the Buddhist Monks ambulating around the perimeter of the Temple. 

My sisters sitting on the edge of the dock watching the catfish gather as the afternoon approached.

I was lucky enough to snap a picture of this little boy who was so enthusiastic about feeding the catfish that he got rice all over himself. 

Jenny enjoying her time on the dock. 

A sample of the vegetables being sold at the market.

One last view of the temple lit by the blazing afternoon sun. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I was driving from Orlando to Tampa to visit my family. My nerves were shaky as they usually are on the drive west. Ricocheting between my optimism and my anxiety to get back to my life in Orlando, I am usually blind-sided by the turbulent nature of the home I grew out of.

I focus my eyes on the road as my speedometer reads close to 80 mph and I try to navigate the screen of my iPod by touch alone. I usually prefer to drive at night. I'm not used to all this traffic and sunlight blaring through my windshield. My nervous energy is in full force as I keep hitting the "Next" button on my iPod. I don't even know what I'm in the mood to listen to. I try to subdue my fears about the rough waters ahead.

Then I hear the soft melody of his guitar and my hand finds its rightful resting place across my lap. I can feel my back roll into the drivers seat as I take a long, deep breath.

I have many of his songs but the one that came up that day was his version of "I'm on Fire". Although he lacks the gruff vocals of The Boss I have to admit that I always liked his version better. He has the capacity to be innocent, aware, haunting, and vulnerable all in the same breath. I surrender all control of my environment with the exception of my hand on the wheel and let his voice nourish all the empty space in my car.

The endless fields of Florida brush start to resemble gentle ocean waves undulating in slow motion. Cotton clouds speckle the great blue expanse. As I stare ahead at vanishing point of the highway in the horizon I realize that this how ancient sailors must have felt. Lost in my travels, driven by the instinct to move, with a siren's song stuck in my ears. If I didn't know any better I could have sworn that the edge of the Earth was waiting for me just beyond my field of vision. Yet as I get closer and closer to the edge my fear becomes less and less. My Siren does not call me to my doom. His voice makes me feel like I can conquer all obstacles. His song is all the permission I need to center myself. Another deep breath and I regain tranquility.

I could sail off the edge of the map listening to a voice like that.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Animal Kingdom

Curtis has an immense love for animals so for his birthday we went to Animal Kingdom.

As we were waiting outside the park to get tickets I spotted this man checking his phone. I loved that the leaves of the palms resembled falling rain. 

A sleepy little Spoonbill.

This was the arena on which the staff held a bird show. I loved the architecture and the giant quilted canopy. 

I decided to take a picture of this large Tambaqui (a.k.a - Pacu) as it swam past me. I didn't realize until later that I had caught my own reflection within the silhouette of the fish. 

I love the way the colorful fish playfully arch over the water fountains. In a strange way it almost reminded me of the stylized paintings on cave walls. Ancient and without words the message is still clear - "This way to water". 

I affectionately refer to this particular Painted Stork as "The Old Soul". Curtis and I were bouncing from one enclosure to the next when this unlikely creature caught my eye. He was only about two feet tall with a fence between us that was just a little taller than he was. I practically could have reached out and touched him. He would have been easy to overlook, and many people continued to walk by without even slowing down. But their was something so commanding about this little bird's presence. All the other Painted Storks were further back in the enclosure but he was right next to the fence looking out as if he was standing guard. Even as I approach he did not move away. He only tilted his head so he could get a better look at me. I sat down in front of him so that we could get a better look at each other. His face was rich with texture and intensity. We sat still and examined each other for a long time. I saw many animals that day but "Old Soul" still stands out. 

One of the  monkey's climbing to his look out tower. 

A soft pink Hibiscus set against the ruffled leaf of a large palm. 

I took this photo of Curtis as we were riding around the park. I love this photo because I was able to capture the moment of anticipation right before he saw one of his favorite animals. 

A little gem of a Kingfisher perched during the sudden downpour. 

Curtis at the Hippo tank admiring some passing ducks who seemed at home in all rain.