A day of discoveries and standup paddle board on Lake Jocassee – 5/24/15

I do admit it was a bit cheeky of us to venture out onto the lake on Memorial Day Weekend. Sundays are usually quiet, as people are mostly in church around these parts… but we survived! Found some great rock formations and discovered a white sand beach that made me feel like I was standing on a precipice over a foreign sea… I love that Lake Jocassee is this immense emerald gem, hiding in the upper NW corner of the state, yet so many people think the pinnacle of South Carolina living is a muggy, buggy, entitled golf community on the coast. We’ve been living in Oconee County for 16 months now, and every day I am still so happy to have made the decision to move here. It truly has made our lives much happier, healthier and authentic.

Many small caves… fun to explore! The water was so clear and ranged in color from deep sapphire to emerald to aquamarine. Not warm enough to totally dive in yet, but I waded up to my waist across expanses of rippled white sand, with towering rock faces eroding into the waves on either side. We saw some massive vacation mansions, and also paddled by the Jocassee Dam- kind of scary to realize the other side of it is three hundred and eighty five foot drop down into another lake (Keowee) below. Lake Jocassee is man made.

Anyway- it was a great day, perfect weather and an awesome workout. Now back to work! There is no mail service tomorrow, but I have much to do before I sleep…

I hope y’all have a safe and peaceful Memorial Day weekend!

50 important facts about having mild autism by Captain Quirk [REBLOG]

Sonnolenta:

I enjoyed this list a lot. I know some of my readers might get prickly about the use of the word “mild” (omg, function labels!) but I’ve been outside of the Autism community long enough that I am able to see past getting up in arms about it (function labels) and just enjoy what is being shared. Besides, having to constantly worry, hem and haw over whether I am using the right words, sharing the right links, or being a politically correct Autistic is… exhausting and does nothing more than deplete my spoon drawer.

Did you want the last potato? No? OK, great. Ooops. I thought you said I could have it. :)

Originally posted on David Snape and Friends:

Here’s a copy of the link where captain quirk did the post

Asperger Syndrome: 50 important facts about having mild autism | Autistic, Not Weird

http://autisticnotweird.com/2015/04/09/asperger-syndrome-50-facts-about-having-mild-autism/

On April 2nd this year, World Autism Awareness Day, I decided tooffer a little insight to some of my Facebook friends. Their responses were actually what inspired me to start this blog in the first place.

I hope this helps people who are curious.

1)The rest of you are weird.Weare completely normal.

2)You definitely know a few autistic people. Maybe you don’t know it, but you do. Maybe they don’t know it either. We’re 1% of the general population, which is higher than it sounds.

3)Autistic people aren’t always similar to one another, for exactly the same reason that non-autistic people aren’t either.

4)81% of us aren’t in full-time employment. Personally I’ve spent less than two years of…

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First SUP of the year, on majestic Lake Jocassee! – 5/17/2015

It’s been such a hectic Spring, that I missed out on my favorite time of year to hike, and see all of the wild forest flowers blooming. Thankfully, the lake has warmed up quickly and we set out to paddle board two weeks earlier than last year’s first outing. And, on this most recent paddle, I spotted the elusive Oconee Bell flower. It’s only elusive to me, because I always get incredibly busy right around the time it decides to bloom!

I get a lot of questions about SUP (stand up paddle boarding). Learning how to paddle properly, and know all pertinent safety, is important. We learned how two SUP two summers ago, on Saluda Lake, just outside of Greenville, though Upstate Paddleboard. Jan, the owner, is a great person to learn to paddle from! Saluda Lake is a nice, small lake- the perfect size for beginning paddling. It’s not at all intimidating, as larger lakes can be.

If you’re interested in trying out paddle boarding in the Upstate area, you can also rent boards and arrange tours or lessons through the following outfitters:

Eclectic Sun

One with the Ride

Jocassee Outdoor Center

If you love kayaking or SUP and want an easy way to get wayyyyy across the lake over to the myriad of waterfalls and coves, check out Jocassee Lake Tours. Next time we go, we are going to look into this- because we really love the far side of the lake!

Paddle boarding can be expensive, especially if you fall in love with it and rent a board each time you go. We solved this problem pretty quickly by purchasing inflatable SUPS from Tower Paddleboard. Add onto that purchasing during their yearly sale, and making the purchase through Amazon where I could finance it over twelve months without interest… while I sold stuff on Ebay to squirrel away money for the monthly payments– and you’ve affordably got two paddle boards! We’re pretty frugal in our house. We’d rather save money towards experiences, than “stuff”. I’m not one of those people who eats out a lot, buys tons of new fashions, gets manicures/pedicures, or even has cable television. It’s easy for me to save money for a big purchase like a paddle board!

Our SUPS are inflatable. They neatly roll up into a small enough unit to easily fit into the back of my Mini Cooper. We have the 14′ Tower Xplorer model. This is their longest inflatable model, and is best suited for use on larger bodies of water where you’d like to cover more territory, basically. We also SUP with dogs and it’s nice to have that extra length. After discounts, the SUPS came to $750 each. That includes the paddle, and the pump. Despite being inflatable, they are super sturdy and easy to use. The fin is removable, so you do have to remove and reattach the fin each time you deflate and inflate. That really, is my only criticism. The plate and screw mechanism that attaches the fin is easy to lose when you’re out near the water getting your board geared up to go.

So without further ado, here’s a few pictures… I really wish I could take my DSLR on my board with me, but water and electronics don’t really mix for me at this time. So I take a small waterproof Olympus camera, with a  floater attached to it.

We started out early, from the farthest boat launch on Devil’s Fork State Park.

Long time no post, so please enjoy these baby birds…

Life has been hectic the last few months. I’ve used up all of my spoons and started pilfering from the knife and fork drawer, too. I purposefully stayed offline a lot in April to avoid the stress and strain of “Autism Awareness Month” and all the blue light drama and faux advocacy it brings. You know on Facebook- the whole “People with autism are awesome! If you know someone suffering from autism, post this on your profile for one hour. I bet most of you won’t do this”. I can’t tell you how many times this sort of thing shows up… just that it makes me want nothing to do with the internet when it does.

Work has been extremely busy and at the same time, my creative process has been in overdrive. Which is a good thing, overall… but I do have to be very careful to not overextend myself.

C has been well, and we’ve been adjusting to a completely new homeschool curriculum. The call finally arrived from Greenville Developmental Pediatrics about his Autism referral, only to discover that while his health insurance last year completely covered his diagnosis, his new health insurance (Blue Cross Blue Shield through the ACA exchange) only covers diagnosis of children up to eight years old. C just turned thirteen. Obtaining a medical diagnosis could thus cost me thousands of dollars out of pocket. Needless to say, how much will completing his official medical diagnosis really matter for him at this point?

I hope to return to more regular blogging soon… in the meantime, here’s a nest of baby birds that I observed for a few weeks!

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Autism Acceptance 101: What’s The Big Deal? [REBLOG]

Originally posted on Feminist Aspie:

The previous post in this series, “Functioning Labels 101: What’s The Big Deal?” can be found here. Once I’ve established that I actually will write a regular series of these posts and not just abandon the idea, I’ll create a tag.

Today, 2nd April, is the UN’s annual World Autism Awareness Day; by extension, the whole of April is Autism Awareness Month – or, as you may have heard it being called by autistic activists and our allies, Autism Acceptance Month. You may also have noticed that many autistic people have reacted against certain “Autism Awareness” campaigns. So, what are the problems with Autism Awareness Month as it currently stands? Why “acceptance”? What can you do this April to help autistic people in a meaningful way? Welcome to Autism Acceptance 101.

Surely more autism awareness can only be a good thing?
Not if the only things being brought to…

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The Gift of Metamorphosis…

Yesterday, I witnessed what I can only describe as a small miracle. While watering my garden, I came across what I thought was a bizarre, dying insect. A freakishly large, fuzzy creature. I sat and watched it for a while, couldn’t figure out what it could possibly be, and went inside to retrieve my camera.

Upon returning five minutes later, I knew exactly what I was looking at- the wilted and “dying” bug has suddenly sprouted beautiful green wings, slowly unfolding along purplish spines. I had found a Luna Moth- something I’ve always wanted to see, but have never had the luck. Not only did I find a Luna Moth, but I was watching something rare and wonderful- a freshly-emerged male Luna Moth. (the male moths have the distinctive antennae, while the female’s are smaller and not “feathered”).

I watched him for several hours, and took about two hundred frames! His metamorphosis occurred in approximately twelve hours, although I am not sure at what time last night he ultimately took flight. Finding and observing this moth has been a transformative experience for me. I know that I may never see another Luna Moth, so I devoted several hours yesterday to just sitting and watching, photographing (and protecting) this moth from the many possible predators who might have disturbed his short life. Luna Moths are born with no mouth. They do not eat, and live only for about a week. How sad that something so exquisitely beautiful is so ephemeral. The details on his wings looked like the finest silk embroidery, and I frequently got lost in the delicate morphing of purples, greens and yellows which made up his fluffy body, legs, antennae and wings.

I’m so grateful for my ability to see the tiniest details in my life. Even without realizing it, my eyes constantly scan my environment in great detail. I’m the person who can find a needle in a haystack. I’m the person who doesn’t miss a beat. If I wasn’t who I am, neurologically, I might very well have never seen this moth, and completely missed this opportunity.

This morning I did some research on Luna moths and found some interesting perspectives.

“Throughout history, butterflies and moths have frequently been shown as symbols of rebirth, regeneration, and renewal – even depicted as a spiritual guide through transformation to a new self.  They are the archetypal example of the soul itself, a creature with a unique gift endowed by nature to completely alter its physical form.  Their ability to undergo metamorphosis and emerge as an entirely new being, from the ground-restricted caterpillar to the free-flying winged beauty is certainly a wonderful metaphor for hope and transformation.

A particularly serene and spectacular representative of Lepidoptera (the order of insects that includes moths and butterflies) is the Luna moth (Actias luna).  As one of the largest moths in North America, with a wingspan that can reach 4.5 inches, Luna moths are truly distinctive, possessing a gorgeous translucent lime green color, long narrow hind wings and a set of eye spots to confuse predators.  Luna moths are in the family Saturniidae, which are also known as the giant silkworm moths, for their size and the silk cocoons they make.” (Credit- Crystal Cockman)

Luna Moth lore abounds with fascinating symbology, and the Luna Moth as animal totem is a most positive recognition:

“Luna moths are associated with intuition, psychic perception and increased awareness. My own opinion is that sightings are so rare and so striking that whenever we see a Luna moth our thoughts seek out some event in our own life to create meaning. More generally, in many cultures butterflies and moths are thought to symbolize human souls, rebirth, transformation… From Bulfinch’s Mythology “The Greek name for a butterfly is Psyche, and the same word means the soul. There is no illustration of the immortality of the soul so striking and beautiful as the butterfly, bursting on brilliant wings from the tomb [pupa] in which it has lain, after a dull, grovelling, caterpillar existence, to flutter in the blaze of day and feed on the most fragrant and delicate productions of the spring. Psyche, then, is the human soul, which is purified by sufferings and misfortunes, and is thus prepared for the enjoyment of true and pure happiness.”

Psyche’s story is of a young woman who became the lover of Eros (Cupid in Roman era), who was with her only during the darkness of night. For the forbidden folly of viewing his sleeping body by lamplight, she was tasked by the Goddess Aphrodite (Eros’ mother, named Venus in Roman era ) with four near-impossible challenges. Upon completing these, she was given the drink of immortality by Zeus, and rejoined Eros. In art, Psyche is often portrayed with butterfly wings while Eros is shown with feathered wings.” (Source: Maynard Life Outdoors)

Contemplating hyacinths, taking time for myself…

I like the way the world looks from behind my camera lens. I always have. It’s what led me into studying photography in the first place. Long hours spent in the darkroom, time spent in a safe, dark cocoon. Life moves at a speed lately that I struggle to reach out and define. Days blur into weeks as I even question whether or not time is progressing in suspected linear fashion, or playing the trickster to my mind’s eye.

The world stops when I raise my camera. I am gifted with tiny pieces of infinite universes of possibility which I can only hope to capture. I’ve always been drawn to photographing flowers. When I was in photo school, I took a fine art/exploratory photography course and spent the entire year photographing flowers. From their pristine beauty to their ultimate decay, I delved into their intricacy in all formats, processes and methods.

The subtle shifts of the days marching cyclically through the changing seasons, the barren twig becoming the budding flower and thus the ultimate prize. I long to capture all of these things, and I don’t even cast bother to whether or not others will view or enjoy them. They are my moments, they are some of the only time I truly steal for myself amidst the chaos of recently cacophonous days. They are the silence encapsulated, which I long for.

During this long month of April, we are continually reminded of all the manners in which Autism detracts and weighs heavily on us. We feel gravity’s pull on our disability like the heaviest armor. Time is fleeting. Time is the only thing in life that we can never get back, the only thing that we can truly lose. Time is amorphous in it’s distillation of our fears and joys. I desire more of that joy, despite it’s ephemeral nature. I live life through an Autistic lens, with every action, every thought bent and changed, like light following the simple laws of physics.

Some days I feel elation in my difference, the difference is in the details. I smile at the infinite opportunity that appreciation of the mundane and unnoticed seems to bring. I eternally feel like I carry a secret, a devil in the details, a notion of things working on a smaller scale that other eyes simply pass over for lacking.

Flowers bear stories, and this I adore.

(From Wikipedia)

In Greek mythology, Hyacinth was given various parentage, providing local links, as the son of Clio and Pierus, King of Macedon, or of king Oebalus of Sparta, or of king Amyclas of Sparta, progenitor of the people of Amyclae, dwellers about Sparta. His cult at Amyclae, where his tomb was located, at the feet of Apollo’s statue, dates from the Mycenaean era.

In the literary myth, Hyacinth was a beautiful youth and lover of the god Apollo, though he was also admired by West Wind, Zephyr. Apollo and Hyacinth took turns throwing the discus. Hyacinth ran to catch it to impress Apollo, was struck by the discus as it fell to the ground, and died.[3] A twist in the tale makes the wind god Zephyrus responsible for the death of Hyacinth.[4] His beauty caused a feud between Zephyrus and Apollo. Jealous that Hyacinth preferred the radiant archery god Apollo, Zephyrus blew Apollo’s discus off course, so as to injure and kill Hyacinth. When he died, Apollo did not allow Hades to claim the youth; rather, he made a flower, the hyacinth, from his spilled blood. According to Ovid’s account, the tears of Apollo stained the newly formed flower’s petals with the sign of his grief. The flower of the mythological Hyacinth has been identified with a number of plants other than the true hyacinth, such as the iris.

The Death of Hyacinth, by Jean Broc:

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