education, family, nature, psychology, travel

Diamond Life

some days after my vacation (and still i would say . . .) adjusting to previous modes of reality was a dull and joyless task. i still find myself researching and reading about some of the creatures i saw and took pictures of while there. for instance, the smallest lizard in the world is a gecko indigenous to Virgin Gorda called Sphaerodactylus Parthenopion. i also took pictures of several birds i’d never seen before.

but then, i have returned to school, in Summer if you can believe i’m up for that kind of self-abuse. but it’s two classes, a Statistical Methods for Psychology and an Adulthood and Aging course. Numbers and growing old. Two things most people can barely manage and often, avoid. well, it was time i tackled the rough stuff. little by little, coming back to my life as i knew it, facets are moving in and out of focus: past, present and future creating and re-creating new visions for me.

on June 14th Zoey, a friend i’ve known for a few years is moving to Maryland where i am. i am busy making arrangements for her so the adjustment will be a comfortable one. it’s strange to think the man i met 7 years ago came to me via this glowing box. as she did. as many interesting friends and acquaintances have. as plane and concert tickets do. as books and music have. as bills do. as this place did. so much dependence on this magnetic, metallic, wire bound piece of furniture. so many words and images and impressions and memories tied up in it and yet – i missed it not while i was gone in the islands. her moving here is the end of an era in some ways. less chatting, more real time together. i wonder if she’ll miss getting my silly packages in the mail. distance is one thing – personality surrounded by flesh is quite another.

3 days ago i came across the cocoon of a Tiger Moth, i know this because the last shed of the caterpillar was still attached to the end of the pupa. i have it in a terrarium with a stick bent at an angle so that it may emerge, crawl up, hang upside down and from its body, pump fluid into its wings until they inflate, then i will let it go into the night. it will be born without mouth parts and all of its energy and food will have been stored up from all the eating it did as a fuzzy black caterpillar. its main impetus is to make more of itself, then in a week, perhaps two, to mate with many if it is male, and to lay eggs if it is female and then, to die.

late last night the cats chased mosquito hawks and beige moths around the nite lights in the kitchen. this morning the red-eyed cicada bloom howled and chirred in a deafening blur as i drove through the woods. this evening a dark field blanketed with fireflies winked like a billion stars, so many, it was a shimmering field of diamonds waiting to be found and gathered up. all of them looking for mates, all of them trying to be brighter than the next. early this new morning, a Luna Moth appeared, wheeling in dizzied circles toward the porch light, dashing itself into the pebbled driveway, flapping like a broken-winged bird in and out and under the ivy near the garden. ghostly, flailing but seemingly tireless. circles and circles and circles.

all of us waiting for a place to land, for our our body to break and our wings to push out, for our life to shine – or wink out at dawn.


Ahoy Carina!

Whew. i have been steeping my thoughts about this vacation just past and have been trying to absorb, or more, digest all that I have experienced. i have decided that here and now, i will not bore you with my log or itinerary of all the places we visited. We sailed daily, land was always in sight and there was always something incredible to see.

Instead, here are some memories and reflections i gathered from being in the British Virgin Islands:

  • There is no need for an alarm clock or a watch for that matter. No matter how many times you look at the barometer and despite how familiar and round its shape, it will never tell you what time it is.
  • Your days are set by a slow, natural rhythm that begins with the daily 7 am rain shower pelting you gently in the face as you dream. This will start you awake and begin the fire drill of closing cabin hatches. Then, you cook breakfast. Apply sunscreen. Secure items. Set sail. Snack all the way there. Moor, anchor or catch a slip in a large harbor. Prepare Lunch. Apply more sunscreen. Take a dinghy out to snorkel, shop, or take photos on the nearby island. Come back to the boat. Shower. Apply more sunscreen just in case. Prepare Dinner or have it on the nearby island. Commence drinking. Listen to music, tell stories and laugh late into the nite. Peel off your swimwear, and linen. Sleep. Wait for the punctuating 7 am rain. Repeat this for 8 glorious days, and increase the level of consumption and imbibement as the days continue.
  • Brain Coral are beautiful and remind us very much of ourselves and our potential. Squirrelfish are cute and red and shiny with big eyes. A school of squid will ink when startled under water which will subsequently make you giggle into your snorkel and elbow your neighboring swimmer. Female Parrotfish are just as lovely and shiny as their male counterparts. Turtles can swim faster than you, but they are still a joy to follow after.
  • Scraping french fries, coleslaw and a half eaten cheeseburger off the dock of a floating restaurant will conjure a heavy flock of Laughing Gulls and a feeding frenzy of fish. Big Fish. And fish eat chips. Oh . . . and Barracuda eat cheeseburgers. Whole.
  • When dining out, cats and dogs will dine with you tableside or in your lap. Just like at home. Go to these wonderful and wise places where for a short spell, you can stop missing your pets.
  • All fans installed on a boat in the cabins are soft and plastic so that you may not be struck in the head when lurching about or on the hand when reaching blindly in the dark. Once the proper amount of grog (with Pusser’s Rum) has been drunk (that is to say, * ambicubus is drunk) one is brave enough to stop the blades with one’s tongue. We have video of this magnificent feat.
  • Expect to lose one or more items to Davy Jones’ Locker. Zoey watched helplessly as a pair of her blue jeans plinked off the railing and sailed off into the sunset, clothespins and all. i personally deep-sixed my favorite sunglasses.
  • i have never jumped off a small boat and swam ashore to a beach. i have never done it while toting a dry box camera case by pushing it in front of me. i may never do it again, without the aid of swim fins.
  • There is no such thing as too much mango. in the BVIs, i landed in my imagined culinary paradise. Mango chutney, chicken wrapped with mango, conch fritters and spicy mango dipping sauce, mango and guava juice drink, mango ice cream, mango daiquiris. Mango. Large, lovely, unadulterated, skinned and ready to eat. Mmmmmm. Mango.
  • As with any “foreign” place, cab rides are exciting to the point of terrifying. You will laugh about it later, as you always do, after having narrowly escaped harm.
  • There are small travesties even in the best possible circumstances – PMS and alcohol is a dangerous cocktail. In close quarters, regrettable things can and will be said, beautiful surroundings notwithstanding. User beware and by all means, behave. Apologize in the morning with a stack of happy, fluffy cloud-like pancakes.
  • You will learn much about yourself, your friends, and what it is to work, play, eat and sleep as a group. Compromise is essential. Laughter and honesty are perfect salves.
  • Never underestimate the power and the importance of a daily afternoon nap in a cool, dark place.
  • Take these things NOT for granted: the health of your skin; taking a meal with people you care about; the abundance of water; the taste of wine in a place you never thought possible; the many beautiful things there are to behold in one day; a hot shower in an open space.
  • No. Those are not sharks in the water. Nite life includes white Rays who float gently alongside the boat like ghostly visitors.
  • You think you have seen all the stars. You haven’t. Not until now. Not until this nite.
  • The tides of “time away” and “time well spent” and “time to return” wear gently away at your shoreline of reality until you are bare skinned and acutely aware . . . and when sea sickness subsides, home sickness floods in gently to take its place.

Her name was CARINA, and she sailed for us finely.
i have pictures to prove all of this . . .

Laughing Gulls BVI Sunset Utterly Tourist lizard light

friends, photography, travel

Universal Traveler

Zoey has landed in Maryland. On Monday April 26th, she and i plus 4 others take a plane to Puerto Rico, then a small puddle jumper to Beef Island and then a small ferry over to Tortola (a.k.a. Chocolate Island, this is how i sold her on the trip) .
We will be spending 8 glorious punk rock days (26th-4th) in the British Virgin Islands on a 41′ Beneteau, bareboat chartered sailboat we are crewing ourselves.

Seeing as how Zoey and i have Wonder Twin Power cameras, i’m certain we’ll come back with some spectacular images and wonderful memories.

more soon . . .

photography, travel

sunrise sunset moonrise


i am back from AZ – a sight-filled, delicate journey
mild weather and attentive, gracious company.

Tucson, AZ is nearly the polar opposite of Friendship, MD
a dusty, stark beauty – rusted red, stucco orange & sand beige
and here now, at home a lush, cool damp of green gone gray
and blue chilled to soft white.

i picked grapefruit off the trees, in January (amazing!)
and had jumping cactus attack my sandaled feet (unwise!)

on the plane as we landed in Baltimore
the moon was like an orange rind
plump and cut in half
– a ruby grapefruit.

and now i sort through photos
and memories.

holidays, travel, writing

shiny, used, temperate blues

upon leaving Manhattan
the Christmas tree at the curb
wearing tinsel like a greenstick girl
who is showing her silvery gray
and beside it after midnite
a Champagne bucket.

the Holidays are over . . .
and now the winter
truly begins.

but I will find myself
in Tucson in 4 days,
stomping through the desert
sweating & trying to make sand
and cactus flower
visually appealing.

~ Andrea E. Janda

education, friends, photography, travel

almost done, and then . . .

finals are almost wrapped up
and then, presents receive
the same treatment.

my friend at work completed a real estate course
and wants me to take her picture for her business card.

another co-worker wants a family portrait or 2 done
he has new twin sons, a lovely wife and a charming Irish accent.
plus a filthy sense of humor like mine.
then there’s my girlfriend’s wedding in June . . .

humans – this is a new domain for me.
should be an expanding adventure.

This year has been an exhausting one,
It was time i stopped buying silly and worthless “things”
stopped talking about it and and simply took the time out to travel.

January 7th, i am going to AZ for a week to visit Zoey
and stomp around some deserts
and then in April (26th) through May 4th
she’ll be back this way.

Brooks (my man) and i chartered a boat,
he got his license and it will be me, him,
his brother Jesse, our friends Dave&Amy
and Zoey going to the British Virgin Islands.
Tortola – Chocolate Island.
I cannot WAIT to take pictures.

i am looking forward to quite a bit.
and you will probably see me
in fits and starts
and starbursts.

death, family, health, travel

falling stars

my grandmother died.
i am in Detroit trying to soothe my mother
and i am charged with the writing
and delivering of the eulogy.

they wanted me to sing,
but i’m not certain i would perform anything
other than shudders and the choking back of tears.
best that i speak of light things
and celebrate her life.

if any of you have any advice
or well-wishing or thoughts on eulogies
and funerals, please share them with me.

my grandmother was Protestant,
but never really attended church
she believed in a higher power – god per se
but did not want to be buried with a rosary
or delivered into a church before burial,
so i will be speaking of her at a funeral home.
we bury her on Wednesday.
she was 81.

when people lose someone older in their family
sometimes, the thoughts and emotions are disconnected
— they forget that the person was ever young.
my grandmother was a tough woman, sometimes cruel
but it was also in her home i spent the first 9 months of my life
she saw me even before my own father who was at sea
and in her hallway was a long mirror i always loved
and would push myself against to stand.
i left fingerprints there as an infant
and when my mother and i left to our first home
my grandmother refused to wash those prints off the mirror
for nearly a year.
Irene Paull is her name, and she was a good woman
strong with a deep capacity for memory and tenderness.