Ah! So There’s Where the Sun’s Been Hiding


©2015 T. R. Gates

     I used to think I’d write a lot more if I lived somewhere near the beach. That inspiration would come as I sat in the sun’s rays with the sounds and scent of the ocean nearby. It seems calming, inspiring, mind clearing.

     I need that right now.

     New York can be so dreary during certain times of the year that cabin fever can set in for months. While reading and writing by a warm fireplace seems ideal, the winter blahs tend to hit hard around February to April.

Normally, I could fight it. Enjoy the warm fires, the hot cup of cocoa, and a good book. The ideas just flow. But this long, frigid winter kicked butt. Not just mine, either. Everyone I talked to in this area seemed depressed and miserable. Irritable even. Of course, it didn’t help that the cold made way for dozens of flu and viruses. Get rid of one and another one came along. Or, that there were days so cold we didn’t dare get out of the blankets. My fingers were too cold to even to type.

We all needed a vacation. We needed warmth.

My husband, daughter and I went to Florida to visit his father. It was our 5th trip since my father-in-law moved there years ago. We go every time during Spring break and watch the temperatures and scenery change as we drive south. It’s nice going from frigid, windy, dreary weather to bright, sunny, heat. It’s a nice little break before returning to finish winter. The most we spend is usually on gas back and forth. We visit a few beaches, but my father-in-law’s house is on the lake. It makes it convenient to go out in the boat, or watch wildlife. Which, I admit, distracts me from writing.

Tricolored heron on Bird Island in the center of Cedar Lake. New Port Richey, Florida.  ©2015 T. R. Gates

Tricolored heron on Bird Island in the center of Cedar Lake. New Port Richey, Florida.
©2015 T. R. Gates

If my husband had his way, he’d be out fishing every day for the rest of our lives. If I had mine, I’d be taking photos of the wildlife every day. Worked great for us both as we went out in the boat each day and enjoyed ourselves. (Of course, we had to take our daughter to the mall and to Tarpon Springs since, if she had her way, she’d be shopping every day.)

We find something new each time we visit. In 2013, I took photos of adult and baby alligators in the lake. Keeping my distance, of course. We discovered that large soft shelled tortoises lived there. Both were something that my father-in-law and neighbors didn’t know where there. They were used to the white ibises, great blue herons, cattle egrets, anhingas, wood storks, and a bunch of other types of birds and animals hanging around a tiny island in the middle of the lake. This year, I photographed tricolored herons and glossy ibises, both seemingly new to the island.

Nesting Tricolored Herons ©2015 T. R. Gates

Nesting Tricolored Herons
©2015 T. R. Gates

I had fun taking over 400 photos. Showing a few of them here. As distractions away from writing go, these are some good ones.

Glossy Ibis  ©2015 T. R. Gates

Glossy Ibis
©2015 T. R. Gates

Our week went by too fast. I miss the warmth already. Even so, my winter blues are gone and my creativity has returned. Yay for that! Did I mention I paint too? Well, I haven’t in over a year. With all of these photos, inspirations returned for a few of my creative outlets. Writing is among them. Even though I’d been distracted away from it while vacationing in Florida.


Make My Day

Once, I caught a man in our front yard. With leash attached to the dog’s collar and gripped in the man’s hand, he watched as his dog urinated on our newly planted bushes. Right then I realized why one underside of the bushes kept turning brown and how long he must have been doing it.

I admit it. Surprise and anger hit me all at once. First, I’ve never seen this man before. To my knowledge, no one in my family had done anything to him. Secondly, the bushes were nowhere near the sidewalk. He walked his dog into our yard on purpose. Third, our house sits on the corner between two streets, but there is a large mowed field on the other side. Plenty of space for his dog to go. All he had to do was walk five more feet. And finally, this jerk acted like he owned the place as my friend walked by with her daughters, who were coming over for a play date with mine.

“Do you know that person?” my friend asked when I opened the door.


I still don’t know who he was, but he got an earful from both of us. He said nothing though. Just walked on, a little faster, as if he’d done nothing wrong. He wasn’t the first person to allow his dog on our lawn rather than go those few steps to the field. After that, my husband and I finally gave in and bought a couple, “keep your dog off our lawn”, signs. I hated it. It looks horrible, but the darn things have kept people off our lawn. I never thought they would. We also put up security cameras. We’d been considering getting them before that anyway. No reason to wait.

I could give you a list of the wrongs people have done. How it seems unbelievable that anyone could be so thoughtless, rude, or cruel. From those refusing to move aside as they take up an aisle at the grocery store, to someone stealing my neighbors furniture from their front yard after their home went through a flood. It can seem like the world is full of horrible people. More than once I’ve thought of becoming a hermit. I’m just not sure I could pull it off.

But, thankfully, I’ve seen good and kind people too. Even if it seems they’re one in a million.

Take yesterday, for instance. What can I say about this winter? Well, it sucks. The snow is hard. The ice is thick. The town seems to have forgotten our street even exists. When a plow does finally come — sometimes days later — it speeds through the middle of the street leaving the sides thick and the salt thin. They don’t do this with the other roads around us though. They’re nice and clear. Once our neighbors and us slip and slide through our street, the rest of the roads are safe going. I swear it’s because there are only six houses left and they don’t think anyone drives down it. They’re wrong.

Yesterday was grocery shopping day. My van moved two thirds of the way out of the driveway before it got stuck. I’ve had that thing for a few years and it’s never happened before. I tried driving forward. Nope. Tried backward. Nope. Tried a few times. Uh-uh. It didn’t even rock. Just sat there, tires spinning away. I messaged my husband, who was at work. Then I turned on the hazard lights, grabbed our ice breaker, some rock salt, even kitty litter, and got to work. I’ve never seen ice cake the road that bad before. It wouldn’t even break at first. Eventually, it did though, but in small pieces. It was slow going. As I worked, the grade school bus turned down our road. I signaled that I was stuck, but he made it passed my van anyway. Whew. After that, other vehicles went by. Do you think anyone stopped to ask if I needed help? No. The lady across the street (the one with a dog that barks the moment it steps outside and doesn’t shut up until it goes back in) came outside to her car, looked at me, and drove away. She came back five minutes later, sat in her car for a while and then drove off again. Not long after that, a man turned the corner onto our street. I know he doesn’t live this way. There was plenty of space for him to go around me. He chose to sit there, glaring at me as if that could make my van move. He did this for a while before he finally backed up and drove the other way.

“Thanks for your help,” I said as I tried to drive forward and backward again. Nothing.

A neighbor up the street walked by with her four dogs. “Are you stuck?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Oh, that sucks. I’d try to help you, but I need to get to work.”

“That’s ok. Thanks anyway.” I understood.

By this point, I was about forty minutes into it. My husband was on the way, but it would be a while. Then another neighbor got in her SUV. Her driveway is across from ours. So, it took her a little bit of maneuvering to get out around my van. Then she got stuck. Lucky for her, it took little effort before she was able to get out. Her SUV slid down the road, but she made it. Not a word to me though.

Not long after, the other lady who lives there came out. I’ve known her for fourteen years. We’ve helped her out a few times. She’s borrowed our tools too. Once I saw her, I thought, “Whew. Finally someone will offer to help.”

She walked down the street without a word. Really? Really people? Is this the kind of world we live in now? I miss our old neighbors. They would have come right over the moment they saw I needed help. No, not any of these younger ones.

I shouldn’t say that. We do have one who would have helped if she, or her fiance, were home at the time.

Eventually, an older lady walked around the corner with her golden retriever. I thought she’d be like the others and walk on by. I wasn’t prepared for her to actually stop.

“Are you stuck?” she asked.

“Yeah.” I knew I’d be sore later.

“This ice is awful. I got stuck yesterday. It took forever to get out. Do you need any help?”

I nearly cried. Finally, someone offered to help. I let her know my husband was on the way. I didn’t know what she could do. She offered to push one way or another, but I didn’t think it was safe. The driveway is slanted. She told me they used boards to get her car out. Once she let her dog in our backyard we looked for some wood in the garage. Tried it a few times. It wasn’t going anywhere. Just wasn’t getting any traction. She stayed with me coming up with ideas for around fifteen minutes, but nothing worked. I could tell she was getting cold. So, I thanked her for being so kind to try to help. It meant a lot. Even though we didn’t get anywhere, it was nice to know someone was willing to try to help a stranger.

As she was leaving, I noticed some puddling where I put the rock salt. I broke the ice carefully at the tires edges. Then shoved kitty litter by them. The van moved! I parked in the driveway, relieved. It took over an hour to free it. All on a little bit of ice. How ridiculous is that? Two minutes later, my husband drove up. Figures. He broke up more of the ice and cleared it out so that I could get groceries without worrying I’d get stuck again. Yay!

I’m glad that ordeal is over. I’m also glad that lady took a moment to offer help. It just proves there are still caring people out there. It made my day.



Welcome to my little corner of the Internet. I started this blog because…

Hmm, let’s see. Oh yeah.

I want to kickstart my writing again. I’ve been on hiatus for too long. Not days, or months, but years. Due to many things, but mostly not being able to shake migraine headaches, mind cloudiness, and the feelings of exhaustion that comes with them. A change in diet, exercise, and utilizing natural alternatives helped relieve most of my problems. For which, I am grateful.

Especially, since the desire to write as I once did is back. In full force.

What’s this blog about? My journey. Hopefully, something along the way will help you as well. Posts will include writing, reading, reviewing, creativity, and the tools that go with all of it.

So, I welcome you to my corner on the Internet. Thank you for dropping by.