Our Milky Way

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30s exposure at 16mm, f/2.8, and ISO800 in an open field not far enough away from other light sources, as it turned out, but this is where I needed to park my tripod to capture the Milky Way in all its glory.

Even this 30s exposure was arguably too long; I'll need to get my hands on an equitorial tracking mount in order to really make these things pop!

Meet NOPE

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Meet NOPE, A five-ish-foot rat snake that I pulled out of the tick farm's toilet a couple of days ago. Yes, the toilet, hence his name.

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(Pardon the staining; it's due to the iron content in the water. Really)

This is the SECOND time I've had a snake in the toilet. For all I know it was the same snake.

Meanwhile, this little coral snake ran across my path the morning I fished NOPE out of the toilet:

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The next morning, this (much) smaller rat snake was waiting on my doorstep:

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And for a final insult, a 2-inch-long scorpion nearly landed on my foot when I was taking a shower that evening. It's almost like I live in the woods or something...

The Tick Farm is Now Inhabited

Just shy of the sixth anniverary of my making the offer to buy the Tick Farm, I completed my first week of full-time living (and working) surrounded by 30 acres of dense woods.

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...This is the first mailbox this place has ever had. I wonder what the first junk mail I get will be..

A (very) late goodbye

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I should have written this seven years ago. Of course, there never should have been a need to write any of this to begin with.

In late 2008, in the immediate aftermath of my separation from my then-wife, I was sort of adopted into another family. The following two years were perhaps the most joyous of my life, finding acceptance, incredible personal growth, the only sense of family I've ever known, and a deep, enduring love.

But what goes up must come down, and quite spectacularly at that. The very short version of that sordid tale is that I was unfairly forced out, and promised to not initiate contact with anyone, especially the children.

Over those two years, I came to become an integral part of the day-to-day family life. I grew close to their children, especially the youngest, Brigit. She was the quiet one, with the potent combination of her mother's sense of justice and her father's calculating intelligence.

The final conversation I had with Brigit (on the day I was forced out!) was about suicide, and how she'd been thinking a lot about it but didn't want to go through with it because it would hurt her parents.

Four years and three months after that conversation, Brigit took her own life. That love had been turned to a deep abiding hatred, expressed in a carefully calculated, spectacular fuck you to her parents. She was just fourteen years old.

I often use the mantra, "Where there's life, there's hope." I'd always held out hope that one day I'd be able to see the women that Brigit and her sisters would grow into. When I heard the news, that last hope of an eventual reunion crumbled, crushed beneath the pain, anger, and the utter pointlessness of everything that had happened.

Seven years later, I finally broke my promise to stay away.

I got to see Brigit's (now-divorced) parents, and finally discuss the hurt and pain that happened all those years ago, and my own role in it.

I got to see the women that Brigit's sisters have grown into.

And I got to finally sit in front of Brigit's memorial, with its just-budding dogwood tree standing over still-cold earth, and let the words and tears flow.

I'm sorry I wasn't there.

I'm sorry I failed you.

I'm sorry I kept my promise.

Goodbye, Brigit.

...I hope your death was worth the price you've forced us all to pay.