About Me

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Somewhere in the Mojave Desert, California, United States
Gazing into this abyss called Life and wondering.....what's next !?!!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day 31

Today, we took learning outside of the classroom. My students, along with our entire grade level, headed off our quiet high desert hilltop to the low desert valley floor to be immersed in culture. Ballet Folklorico De Antioquia, an international company from Colombia. lo pasamos maravillosamente! The costumes were rich and the beat was fast and perky....tough to keep little tushies in their seats. Fortunately, the dancers encouraged participation - within reason. The theatre was full of festive energy....

On the way home was yet another learning experience for me. You see, we pass through a massive valley practically filled with turbine wind generators. Over the years I've lived up here, more and more spring up. You get used to it after a while. It's a signal you are almost home when you are coming in from the freeway, heading east or west.

(Copyright 2012 Diana Shay Diehl. Shot with an iPhone.)

It's supposed to be a good thing, right? Harnessing the power of wind, which is free and pretty much blowing out here all of the time. The fields and fields of these massive 'fans' are not owned by one company. Many, many companies and individuals buy them, lease or own the land, harness the 'wind power' and sell it to the bigger power companies. One would think we have tons of 'cheaper' or nearly free electricity with all these wind turbines in the lower valley and now, starting to spring up in our area. Oh yea! Less of a carbon footprint! Oh yea! Lower costs of power to the locals.  Uh, not so, as I discovered today....

You see, these 'companies' are certainly harnessing our abundant winds - and selling it to places as far away as Colorado. We get nadda. Zip. Zilch. One of the volunteer's on my field trip today husband works for one of these companies. The 'batch' of windmills he oversees stretches from the highway cutting up to our basin all the way over to the boundary of the next town. Not one bit of harnessed power goes to our desert region. Nothing. All sold to far, far away communities.  Hm. Yes, I'm scratching my head, too.

Here's the worst of it. We are in a Pacific Flyway. Loosely translated, that means migrating birds from the Arctic circle to the tip of South America come through the lower valley and our upper desert on the way to and from their summer/winter habitats. They refuel here along the way. And, those alternative energy makers scattered all over the Southern Californian deserts? They shred those little feathered friends to bits as they fly through those massive blades. Eagles. Hawks of all kinds. Pelicans even. Tiny rare warblers. Geese. If it flies, it's fair game for those turning blades. Nighttime is the worst as many species fly nonstop until they absolutely must hit ground to rest and refuel. The windmills they have up now are quite different from 20+ years ago as they were experimenting with styles, efficacy, and being less intrusive to those whom they share the skies with. I give them credit for making positive changes. Still.....it saddens me to no end when I hear of what workers find stuck in the gears - which clogs the workings and stops action..... I'll spare you the details.

Gosh, I feel like such a downer of late - water mining, windmill shredders. We desperately need a cleaner, more renewable source of powering our overstretched human needs and some of these solutions are heading in the right direction - but at what cost when we overzealously go for it, and not for local use either. Just more, more, more for our faraway urban dwellers...

Okay, enough kvetching. I'll leave you with some happier scenes from my today sans bright cheery little faces for the obvious reasons. I wouldn't have my children's faces plastered all over someone else's internationally read blog either... Just use your imagination. Exuberant anticipation. Sheer joy of not being stuck in a classroom all day for a change. Warm sunny temps. Green grass! Trees! Real turtles in a pond! A beautiful, 'fancy' building to enjoy a wonderful performance in. No books. No papers. No pressure. It's a kid's life after all.....

 McCallum Theatre...just after the performance. They were sticklers about not taking any photos during. Too bad. The costumes were fantastic. This view is from the "nosebleed" section which actually turned out to be the best seats. We could see every move perfectly.

 Inside the McCallum on the upper balcony as you look out towards the theatre entrance.

The park next door...these turtles were happily sunning themselves. A couple dropped back into the water as my students approached. I showed them how to delicately, slowly tiptoe just a bit closer to look without frightening the basking turtles. The students learned a bit about respecting nature's space. The turtles were there first, but didn't mind our presence.... Everyone was happy.

(All images taken with an iPhone. Copyright Diana Shay Diehl)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Day 30

Water? In the desert? Of course!  We desert dwellers get totally psyched whenever clouds form. And, when it finally rains - in torrents, drizzles, or softly falling for a few minutes or hours at a time - we are out in it. Many of us, exploring for waterfalls, unexpected pools that may give birth to desert pupfish, rocks that weep, and creeks that may run for days - sometimes weeks if the rains are long and hard enough.  I love hiking in the washes after it settles down to see what changes have taken place. New boulder barricades. Cultural relics unearthed. Mysteries under the sand are revealed.

The next cool thing that happens is how things spring to life - immediately.  In fact, when the air is heavy with moisture, threatening to open the heavens and flood the washes with a deluge, you can almost see the cacti and succulents stand a bit taller - swelling upwards in anticipation of a much needed drink. It could have been months and months and months since their last sip. Within hours, buds appear and fresh color dots the landscape. Rich patinas on the rocks show sagey greens, deep rusts, chartreuse, golds as the rainwater paints their rugged surfaces.

The life out here has adapted to the unpredictability in amazing ways - unlike us humans...

And speaking of humans, there is much talk lately of an LA based company preparing to "mine" our desert groundwater tables for purposes that have nothing to do with the lives up here. The short side of this story is that this particular company will "mine groundwater faster than nature has time to refill it.......and sell it to urban areas........".

You can read the details by clicking this link: Cadiz, Inc plans to mine California desert's groundwater

Makes me wonder, if this is successful, what will we do for water seeing how WE live HERE. Even worse, what will happen to the fragile life that exists here now? Questions to ponder long before it's too late......

(Copyright Diana Shay Diehl. Rattlesnake Canyon/JTNP)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Day 29

Today was about friendship - old and new - shared along a spectacular 8ish mile loop trail. These are just some snapshots of my day, nothing fancy. Perfect January weather. Wonderful people. Breath-taking views from fire charred landscape to 'lush' canyons full of Parry Nolinas. We were also treated to some remnants of the mining culture that flourished here in the late 1800's/early 1900's.  Nothing beats a Sunday afternoon, trekking along a dusty trail with kindred spirits....

This is kind of like "Where's Waldo?" but with hikers. Can you see them? The trail continues to the far right. Gives perspective to the grandness of scale, no?  (Copyright 2012 Diana Shay Diehl)

Lost Horse Mine Loop - the fire charred portion is rather moonscape-like, even after over 10 years since the fires.
(Copyright 2012 Diana Shay Diehl)

(Copyright 2012 Diana Shay Diehl)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day 28

Today's post is a fond memory. During the summer of 2006, I accompanied my daughter and a handful of her high school compadres along with a few adults to the other side of our world. Many great memories of our weeks down under but my favorite were of our trip to Fraser Island, near the Barrier Reef in the northeastern part of Australia. They bost it being the world's largest sand island. The place we stayed, an eco resort - Kingfisher Bay Resort, was to die for. The shower was 3 sides glass looking out into the rain forest with a wood floor. The rooms were Zen spacious with strategically placed windows to draw in all the rich green from outside. However, the property was fenced in as to keep the dingos out. We were warned not to wander around at night and definitely not alone. Some of us did anyway. I think we made too much of a racket heading home from the one and only pub on that side of the island, anything wild would stay out of our way. What impressed me the most was how pristine and spacious the grounds, beaches, and lakes were. Much of Australia reminds me of California - in the days, I'm sure, before people flocked here and paved over the land and dirtied the air.

Longing for an adventure...

Boardwalk to pier, looking out to Hervey Bay
Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia

 (Copyright 2006 Diana Shay Diehl)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Day 27

A simple photograph today.....my kitchen island counter, mug of hot green tea, and my favorite local hiking guide book backed up with a little online research. Now that I'm on the better side of this icky cold, time to make plans to get out on the trails. I haven't really kept count of how many miles or trails I've covered in my 28 years of living out here. If I were a numbers person, that might be an interesting undertaking this chilly January evening. But, I'm not. Instead, I'll pick a few must do's for the remainder of this winter/spring season before the heat sets in and desert hiking is no longer enjoyable (or safe).  I'll let you know what I come up with. Until then, enjoy your Friday evening. It's been 'a week'. This chica's over and out - for now...

(Copyright Diana Shay Diehl. "On Foot in Joshua Tree National Park" by Patty A. Furbush can be purchased from any visitor center of JTNP.)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Day 26

Every once in awhile, it pays to look up. Today, while pushing the grocery cart across the darkening parking lot with my head deep into what I needed to still get done today, I just happened to look up and to the west. What drew my attention that way, I'm not quite sure but what I saw made me stop dead in my tracks. This picture does the scene no justice as the cloud formation was HUGE and....even odder (is that a word?), it was the only cloud in the entire sky that I could see. There was barely a breeze on the ground yet the cloud's shape gave away the powerful swirling winds in the atmosphere. Glowing deep orange from the fading sunset, flanked by a sliver of the moon and the evening's first 'star', it was a mesmerizing presence. I heard a little boy ask his dad "What's that?" pointing upwards. The dad just answered, "A cloud." as he hurried his son into the store. Missed opportunity for an inspiring discussion, I am thinking...and then wondering how many of those I missed hurrying my own children along through their questions....

The cloud started to very slowly unwind from it's perfect cotton ball shape and looked as if someone was gently pulling it apart. Of course, the only camera near me was my iPhone - yet another reason why I'm glad I convinced myself to spring the bucks for one. I do hope someone local managed to capture it with a higher quality lens but, for now, this will do. Don't you find the skies absolutely fascinating? I do.

Imagine all the wonders we've missed keeping our heads down low and plodding along through our days...

 (Copyright Diana Shay Diehl 2012. Shot with an iPhone4)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day 25

My favorite place to breakfast while I'm in Cambria, California is at Lily's ...a sweet little cafe in the heart of town. Every Saturday morning, during the summer, Virginia's granddaughter makes crepes for us. A cappucino, made from scratch crepe - that day, I chose mine to be drizzled with fine dark chocolate - and summer scents wafting in from the Garden Shed next door make for a morning worth lingering over.  This is usually where I go after a long walk along the coastal bluffs - watching for sea otters snoozing in the kelp beds or sea lions warming their bodies on the rocks. If it's foggy and cool, even better knowing the desert heat that awaits me when I get back home...

I'll occupy my mind with memories like these as I continue to get over this bloody cold.......

(Copyright Diana Shay Diehl. Lily's Coffee in Cambria, CA)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day 24

Today's post shows where I am headed after I click "send".....layers of bedclothes and a warm cup of Theraflu with hopes I won't wake until the time I need to be up the next morning. My head is foggy. My chest hurts. My body is achy with shivers running up my spine....and it ain't love....

First upper respiratory thing I've had in many, many years.... A sure sign I need to rest.  Good night Moon....

Monday, January 23, 2012

Day 23

Today was a dreary winter's day....clouds, lots of wind, spatters of rain... I actually love these kinds of days. The stormy skies give a different kind of life to the mountainous terrain as the light tries to filter through. However, I decided to not post a stormy sky picture. Instead, I just felt like I needed some rich winter color - jewel tones from the handmade papers an artist friend of mine makes - Bonnie Brady. In this batch, I can't remember if she made these, some of these, or the papers are collected from other sources. But, I'm inclined to say she made these as that is her signature brand of art....handmade papers and altered art books, among other things....  In another post, I'll share a bit more about Bonnie and her beautiful, organic works of art. They don't just sit pretty on a table. They are meant to inspire and be used - like these rich, jewel colored papers.

This kind of stuff is more of a mood elevator for me than chocolate or a glass of wine. Just looking at these colors and textures make me happier....ooooh and aaaah involuntarily escape my lips as my fingers want to pet the velvety papers that feel as rich as they look.

What would you do with these? I hope your imagination has been sparked a bit to get you through these dreary winter days and cold, blustery evenings....a time meant to envelop yourself in rich, inspiring textures like these handmade papers....

(Image copyright Diana Shay Diehl. Papers by Bonnie Brady, multi-medium artist.)

**Bonnie says these are papers she's collected from Nepal. At the time of this shooting, they were meant to be gifts to her fellow 'altered art books' gathering gals.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day 22

Not much to say today as my brain is tired from 2 full days of participating in a strategic planning workshop with key JTNP staff and our Association board. Very inspiring and productive weekend albeit a long one when one works Monday through Friday as well. Once we finalize our product and are ready to share with the public, you bet you'll be included.... Why? Because YOU are an integral part of the big picture <insert smiley face>...

Here is a tidbit from an afternoon of shooting at Key's Ranch, aka 'Desert Queen Ranch'.  If you ever get a chance, book a tour there. Totally worth it....

 (Copyright Diana Shay Diehl. JTNP / Desert Queen Ranch)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Day 21

The winds have been howling here for nearly 24 hours. I'm not talking just windy. I'm talking the kind of wind that knocks down wood fences (that was last month's howling winds....). The kind that flings yard furniture to one end of the yard then changes directions and flings it back to the other side. The kind that can move a propane bbq grill down a brick walk then flip it over on its side. I was praying none of those items would be flung through my picture glass window. Not a lot of rest to be had when the winds batter us around like it has since very early this morning.

Today's post is one of my favorite desert flowers - desert bluebells or Phacelia campanularia.  A reminder that spring isn't too far away...

(Copyright Diana Shay Diehl. JTNP / Lost Palms Oasis trail)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Day 20

Around this time of year, I long for the open road..... A simply packed car: hiking gear, assorted lenses for the camera body, a map, snacks, a few items of clothing to handle whatever weather may crop up (here, out west, it changes its mind often...), a fair amount of unencumbered time, a travel buddy - or not, with no particular place to head to. My favorite kind of trip is pointed in some direction with a vague idea of what I'd like to do, but ending up discovering something altogether different. I have many friends whose entire vacations are "ruined" with bad moods for weeks on end if their well laid out itinerary has a hiccup. Me. I love the surprises along the way (well, maybe not the flat tire-no-cell-service-fender-bender-wait-for-hours-for-AAA-way-too-long kind of surprises.....) From late August to mid June, my days are planned to the minute, complete with a bell to tell me what to do next. So, the less planned the trip, the better. While the road winds this way and that, beckoning me to see what's around that next bend, I feel my Self unwind from the former demands of the previous months.

So, no, this isn't in my magical mojave - but it isn't too far away. This road was one of those very pleasant surprises one June summer day - enjoying some just-mommy-and-now-grown-up-daughter time and unwinding my Self while heading away from the north rim of the Grand Canyon.  I've been to the south rim many times. Nice. And very crowded. Now, the north rim has captured my attention. Raw. Multifaceted. Something that makes you say "Aah!" around many corners. Roads less traveled. My kind of trip...

(Copyright Diana Shay Diehl. Northern Arizona/Utah border)

And this road led to...................

(Copyright Diana Shay Diehl. North Rim / Grand Canyon)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Day 19

Just a photo today - another one (red spined barrel - again....) that demonstrates the power of living things to find sustainable circumstances for thriving....

I love these red spined barrel cactus....especially in contrast with growing out of such a massive boulder, don't you? They are such a bright surprise among the typical muted colors of the desert.

(Copyright Diana Shay Diehl)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day 18

You are probably wondering what this post has to do with living in the desert or why it isn't some pretty sweet scene of this foreign-to-you country called the Mojave Desert.....  Today's post is about kindred spirits. It is in honor of my best friend and fellow Capricorn's birthday. Life is one grand adventure and when you have people who come through to share a bit of the path with you, it's all the more sweeter. This photo reminds me of friendship and laughter and people who 'get you'. (No, it's not 2 scoops of guacamole with chocolate syrup and a cherry....silly people.......) What a better way to celebrate the fact someone was granted another year of life than to spend time with the people who care about you - and you return the sentiment. It's really not about the "stuff" we accumulate. It's about time well spent which is more precious than diamonds and gold... 

Thank you to all those who have graced my life and offered a bit of your precious time for us to share....

Anyway, it's a been a long day, punctuated by dinner prepared by moi and shared around my table in honor of my friend's birthday. Spicy shrimp soup, warmed French bread, cucumber/tomato salad, conversations that included my son and his viewpoint on things, critters that waited quietly at our feet for tidbits to fall, and plans for a coastal trip to Northern California over the upcoming spring break.....a wonderful way to end an already rich day...

Life is sweet. I hope yours is, too.

(Copyright by Diana Shay Diehl. Birthday dessert by Kimi Grill. Taken with iPhone.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 17

Sometimes, after a 3 day weekend,  it is difficult to get back into the work groove. Today was like that for me. My head was still in this place, one of my favorite hikes in Joshua Tree National Park - the North View / Maze Loop trail - which I did with fellow wanderers like myself yesterday. These panoramic shots certainly don't do the area justice. Hopefully, they give you a feel for the expansiveness of the area.... Talk about space to clear your head and breathe a little deeper and slower. It can be quite humbling. 

Everyone needs a breathing space. This is one of mine. Where are yours?

Enjoy the view. This chica's tired. Over and out.......for now.

 (Copyright Diana Shay Diehl. Joshua Tree National Park)

(Copyright Diana Shay Diehl. Joshua Tree National Park)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Day 16

Today's post is simple photo from today's 9+ mile hike through the boulders and canyon washes of Joshua Tree National Park.  There were tons of these red barrel cacti scattered about the granite and quartz faces of the rocks. Not in sand. Not in rich soil. Growing out of a rock. Solid rock. Is that survival or thriving.....? Such intricate beauty rises out of what our human eye sees as nothing. This little one could fit in the palm of my hand with room to spare. My walks in the wilder lands of this desert I call home show me many examples of living things inching out an existence among seemingly lifeless terrain. Oh, not so.... This hardy landscape is teeming with thriving flora and fauna, skilled at adapting to our ever changing drought conditions. You can learn a lot about the health of our environment and how the natural world cooperates so that 'everyone' gets what 'they' need. All you need to do is get down on your hands and knees, quiet your busy mind, and take a closer look....

In this case, the rock is supporting this tiny little plant...coexistence, personified.

(Copyright Diana Shay Diehl 2012)

Day 15

Today's post is about friendship and joy - from a dog's point of view...

(iPhone image. Copyright Diana Shay Diehl. Mission Creek Preserve Trail)

My favorite hiking pals and I decided to take our dogs for a romp along a creek in the Mission Creek Preserve today. It was a bit blustery but overall perfect for a winter's afternoon hike to the mouth of the lower desert canyon. This preserve allows dogs on leashes until you get past a certain point and then they are allowed off leash. The off leash part, of course to the dogs, was what they couldn't wait for. I tried my best to capture the pure, unadulterated joy on their faces (all I got were blurs...) - especially my Toby as this was his first creek run with new doggie pals. These dogs had never met before yet quickly figured out no one was a threat and that a quick snarl or yip would make clear the boundaries so everyone could get on with the business of investigating and splashing through the creek. There was no such thing as walking from one point to another. They all ran, full speed, just to what - we weren't sure. Because as soon as they arrived, they turned and ran just as fast in the opposite direction - except Norway, the veteran doggie hiker in the group. He knew the trail well. However, he would still get caught up in doggie enthusiasm and romp it up in happy dog style. They didn't even mind waiting patiently in turn for a treat - a little something to reward them for minding their masters while unabashedly wreaking havoc up and down the creek bed. If one ran off to investigate something, they all followed. At one point, Chloe, the yellow lab, appeared to not know how to get off the berm to the other side of the creek. Toby went up to her and "said" something which made her inch down and bound back to our side of the creek. Funny how animals communicate - not a word but they seem to know what actions mean very clearly. A nudge, a sniff, how high the tail is held, the slight tilt of the head, direct eye contact or indirect glances.....it all means something. I often wonder how we humans, with our plethora of words and multiple meanings, can get messages so incredibly screwed up. Maybe that's it - too many meanings and connotations in our language leading to misconstrued messages. Perhaps we'd all get along better with just a yip or a snarl or our tails held just so.... 

Oh, it was fun hanging with the human friends, too.....

 (iPhone image. Copyright Diana Shay Diehl. Three Amigos lead the way.)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Day 14

Today's post is simple and more playful. I'm not feeling the need for my usual pontificating on matters too deep for now. Sometimes floating on the surface is a good thing before holding one's nose and diving deep within again.....

For those of you who participated in the mystery photo from Day 12, here is the image before I cropped it. Gives you a better perspective...

(Copyright Diana Shay Diehl)

New one for the day:
(Copyright Diana Shay Diehl)

What details will your eyes tell you on this one? What story does it tell?

Incidently, for those who have inquired, yes, many of my photos are for sale. Not all though. If anything peeks your interest, you can contact me through this site and let me know.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Day 13

Copyright Diana Shay Diehl. 
One of many gifts today from my children. My son made gourmet, homemade pizza for dinner. My other son and I will do a hike with friends and dogs this weekend. My daughter lives across the country so a phone call and/or Skyping will have to suffice. Funny how we need such clamoring and noise to celebrate when we are younger. Now, quiet appreciation in familiar surroundings make for a fine celebration of another year for living...

You see, today is my birthday. My 53rd birthday to be exact. That is a lot of time to accumulate experiences and memories. 53 years - sounds like such a long time. I've lived better than 1/2 of my life. What a sobering consideration........

What could I possibly highlight about my life? I've rewritten this post 4 times already. TMI? Too shallow? Too sentimental? Really - who would it matter to except me.....

Copyright Diana Shay Diehl
On my 50th birthday, I stepped out of the shower very early that morning to find this breakfast my daughter had made me before she left for high school - it was her senior year.  When she was in elementary school, she made me a special breakfast to rival any local restaurant for Mother's Day.  If she had all the money in the world to buy any gift,  those would still be my favorite ones.

In a nutshell, I'd say too much time, in the first 1/2 century, was spent on worrying about making others happy, not being good enough,  or trying to prove.....something. Just what, I haven't figured that out yet. I fell in love and lost - first time through death; second time through incompatibility. I discovered who my real friends were and it's not always the ones you may think. I grew guts and stood on my own 2 feet without hardening my heart...

An interesting thing happens when you hit 50. You stop caring what others think of you and realize it really isn't any of your business anyway.  If "they" have time to waste on judgement and ill-informed gossip, well then, that's just too bad for them. Me? My bucket list is growing and it's time to get a move on while my body can still do pretty much what it's been able to do the first 1/2 century - just a little slower and with more asprin.

Copyright Diana Shay Diehl. 
The year I turned 50, a student came in with a bag full of these balloon animals. Priceless! They graced my classroom for about 2 weeks.

And just what do I want to do with whatever time I've been gifted in this lifetime?
(In no particular order...)

Hike more trails off the beaten path.
Explore a bit more of this great World with my children - or at least listen to their adventures as I share my own.
More road trips.
Fall in love - again. This time for keeps. Hey, 3rd time is a charm, right?
Hug more.
Kiss more.
Take more pictures.
More road trips.
Spend less time cleaning dust bunnies.
Continue to make every day fun not just for me but for my students (or is that the other way around...?)
Learn to play something other than "Twinkle, twinkle little star" on my violin.
Spend more time with friends - face to face.
Listen to my children without the urge to always give advice.
Feel gratitude.
Be open to new adventures.

My treasures collected from the first 50 years:

Copyright Diana Shay Diehl

I look forward to seeing what treasures await discovering these next 50 years....

Life is good.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Day 12

(Copyright by Diana Shay Diehl)

Today's post is a mystery.  Finding the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary...

What is this? Any takers......?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Day 11

Today's post contains several images...I couldn't pick just one. I had the privilege of being invited to spend time with a remarkable group of women artists who had spent a year working on 'altered art books'. This session was their last formal gathering before all their works went to an exhibition at the Palm Springs Art Museum last winter. These particular photos don't do justice the kind of energy that was present in the home of one of the artists for their last meeting. 

The project involved 12 women altogether who created 12 distinct books from handmade papers and original art. They gathered roughly once a month for a year. Each woman made a book with her individual theme. Then, each book was rotated among the 12 women who then added a page or so of her own unique expression. One 'book' used old slim cigar cases that were glue together. Each tin was a 'page'. Another was made completely from handmade papers, all from scratch. Others were outdated hardback books recovered and revived into an expressive art book. The collective result was WOW. Talk about tickling your senses - more like an explosion of textures and colors and imagery and sentiments........thought-provoking, sensitive, rich, poignant... These books screamed to be touched, pages turned and stroked, words and phrases pondered over.  Once the women relaxed with me poking my camera in their faces, I managed to capture the essence of that year in one afternoon. Friendship, congeniality, insight, sisterhood, respect, sharing, humor, tolerance, wittiness, love, wisdom, giving and receiving ......it was all there.
What an honor it was to be enveloped in all that for an afternoon.......kindred spirits ~ 
still searching and expressing what life is all about.

 (Image copyright Diana Shay Diehl. "Altered Art Books" Project)

 (Image copyright Diana Shay Diehl. "Altered Art Books" Project")

 (Image copyright by Diana Shay Diehl. "Altered Art Books" Project)

(Image copyright by Diana Shay Diehl. "Altered Art Books" Project")

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Day 10

(Copyright by Diana Shay Diehl. Taken with a Canon 30d; 24-70Lmm/f.2.8. 29 Palms, California)

The desert scape can make one feel mighty small. Especially when the skies put on their show. This same scene, with clear blue skies, would not be as dimensional - kind of "desert drab" as those with unskilled eyes would say. A slight shift in light, a dramatic sky ready to unload it's heavy burden, changes everything. It is not at all flat and 'boring' out here. I'd honestly have to say, that my 25+ years living out west has taught me to see and hear things I have only rushed past before.  

Sssssh. Be still for a moment. What can you see now?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Day 9

(Copyright Diana Shay Diehl. Wonder Valley, California)

Abandoned places. We have a love affair with them out here in this desert with imagining the lives lived in the empty shells that remain. The quiet so deep your ears hurt.....where the expanse of sky dwarfs everything....and the solitude and stillness begin to heal...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Day 8

 (Image Copyright Diana Shay Diehl. Food creations by Chef Rosa Ficara.)

(Image copyright Diana Shay Diehl. 'Ant Farm Gang' coloring book copyright Kim Mayhew of Ant Farm Studio. 
Food and libations courtesy of Chef Rosa Ficara.)

 This is what Sundays are for....time for reflection and prayer;  scrumptious food prepared not only with skill but great love - you could taste it in every bite;  and kindred spirits to share it with. Conversations were lively and thought-provoking. Laughter was punctuated by a few tears that still needed shedding followed by more laughter and a hug.  New ideas hatched. Old ones revised. Heart-felt sharing. Acceptance. Food for the soul....

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Day 7

(Canon 30d. Copyright Diana Shay Diehl. Product by the Ford Corporation.)

I call this blog 'ordinary days' of an 'ordinary' woman. Today wasn't quite so ordinary but this shot pretty much explains what I wanted to do. Some days, no matter what you set out to do, nothing comes out right and the day is filled with one disappointment or heartache after another - even when you are simply trying to go with the flow.  Today was like that for me.  I am not always the rock for everyone to stand on. Sometimes, I crumble. Who will be there when I fall? I wonder when will it be my turn to be able to lean instead of being leaned on? To simply rest?

Maybe tomorrow....

Friday, January 6, 2012

Day 6

(Shot with an iPhone; processed using Instagram. Copyright Diana Shay Diehl)

Today's photo is one of my absolute favorite plants on Earth - the Joshua tree, aka Yucca brevifolia. A Joshua tree can live for hundreds of years - some species even thousands. It's not really a tree per se. It is "tree-like" in habit. In order to bloom, they must have a winter freeze. That puzzles me because I can remember many very cold winters (I live at about 3800-3900 ft. above sea level with a huge forest of Joshua trees I pass on the way home....) with freezing temps but will yield no blooms the following spring. Apparently that coincides with adequate rainfall as well - and, even then, they won't bloom every year. When they do, those of us who call this desert home can get pretty darned excited.  Joshua trees are also home to the yucca moth - a rather small, day-flying moth with tiny spines covering its wings. In real life, this particular Joshua tree is HUGE. Have any of you park visitors ever seen it? Hint: It is off a dirt road in Joshua Tree National Park, not too far off the usual paths, but you would need to know which one..... I am sure it is hundreds of years old. Oh, the stories it could tell...

I could go on and on about the uniqueness of life here in my little corner of heaven.... Why don't you visit and discover for yourself? As for me, after this post, I'm headed out for a moonlit walk amongst my Joshua trees..........

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day 5

(Coyote pup shot in the JT Highlands summer of 2009. Copyright Diana Shay Diehl)

Okay, so this is not a freshly taken-just-today shot. Today was one of those days where the camera and I just couldn't cross paths. Hence, another 'oldie but goodie'.... There's a great story attached to this image few of you know of even if you are familiar with this photograph. This coyote pup photo earned 3rd place in the Southland Art Show in 29 Palms. It graces the walls of the Mojave Desert Land Trust and is used in their campaign to secure funding towards the preservation of wildlands in our high desert region.  It is also in a multitude of private collections all over the US and even in Canada. I like to print him in a  5 x 5 inch format or in 12 x 12/10 x 10/ or 8 x 8 formats which are framed in 16 x 20 or 11 x 14 museum grade frames. All sell out.  Every photographer likes to have that signature piece that helps pay off our habits of new gear purchases. But that isn't the best part of this particular photograph. It is how I came to be in the right spot at the right time and the relationship that happened around this experience.

Thanks to my friend and local favorite wildlife nature photographer, David McChesney, one hot, very early June morning afforded me a rare opportunity to get close to nature and see just how vulnerable we humans are in not being able to 'fix' everything... (Incidently, you can check out David's works, tours, new books, lectures, etc by clicking on his link to the right of this post. Good stuff!) David and I had been talking about photographic equipment as I was in the market to add to my collection of lenses. He offered me to try out some of his lenses before I blindly forked out money for something that may not suit my needs and suggested one summer morning at 5:00am. 5:00am? You mean like before the sun comes up?  You see, David is one of THE most energetic, enthusiastic people I know - who truly understands that if you want to capture those images that wow people and show people just a taste of what we don't or can't see on our ordinary comings and goings - you have to be up pretty much like anytime. I compromised. I showed up at 6:30. To see David in action is pretty awe inspiring. He has quite the set up in his private setting tucked in the hills of Joshua Tree. Several tripods and cameras are set up to capture whatever might wander in his sight among the native plants on his property. He is totally in tune with his environment which is quite evident if you've ever seen his work or read his recently published book, Miles of Wonder, or even spent a moment with him.

This particular week brought to David's property, a lone coyote pup....separated from it's pack but probably not by choice. There were apparently 4 pups all together. This little guy was the only one left. And he was sickly. My heart ached just watching this little fellow timidly poke around the property - drinking a bit from the pond, looking for tidbits to eat. He reminded me of many, many students I've had over the years - trying to figure it out, alone. The family is there, you can see or feel their presence, but they aren't there at all when it comes to the nurturing part. I felt that watching him and listening to David's account of what he had been observing the past few weeks. You can't see it in this photo, but he only had one eye. The other was lost in a soupy crud from whatever disease was taking over. (David thought perhaps parvo consumed the litter.) He howled once or twice - a tiny but fierce sound from such a wee one. I think his pack was communicating with him somewhat. You could hear the echos from a distance. They must have known he was weak, ill - not fit to continue on. As in nature, only the strong survive. They don't go to great lengths to save the sick. You make it or you don't.

So, that hot June morning was spent with me peering out windows of a shaded porch and little coyote pup peering back, watching David and me, with no trepidation. At one point, I desperately wanted to capture this little fellow and take him - somewhere, anywhere - to someone who could 'make him better'. But, that's a human reaction. Nature's reaction is to let it be. Instead, I snapped away with my camera and David's lens. While I did capture several positions and angles of the pup as he wandered about, this one resonates the most with me. At that moment, the pup sat under the branch. He didn't move. I felt like his one little eye was studying me, David, the action on the porch. He didn't even flinch when I raised my camera and snapped the shot. I wasn't that far away, maybe 15/20 feet. The blurred background (or bokeh in photographer speak) is from using a wide aperture and zoomed in tight. Nothing else was done to this shot except maybe adding a bit more exposure to lighten up the shadows. The shadow from that droopy branch hid the sick eye perfectly. What was he thinking, I often wonder. Two weeks later, David found his little carcass. He had succumbed to whatever infected him and his litter. 

David had written a song and poem about him. I cried. Coyote pup lives on in a few captured images and heart-felt words; a reminder of vulnerability and sweet innocence.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 4

 (Shot with a Canon 30d. Copyright Diana Shay Diehl)

Today's photo came from my quick morning walk with Toby before making my way to work.....even within the charred remains of wild fires, one can find beauty. This remnant came from a most beautiful and thick stand of joshua trees within a 5-10 minute walk from my house. Broke my heart when the 2006 Acoma Hills fire ripped through and devoured all that pristine acreage along the hillside. Considering how close my friends and neighbors, who lived just over the ridge, came to losing everything - all that burned flora was a minor issue. Lives and homes were spared - thank God and a multitude of quickly working firefighters......

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Day 3

(Shot with a Sony point and shoot. Copyright Diana Shay Diehl)

I just realized how difficult this project is going to be. One photo a day....what was I thinking? At least there will be LOTS of room for improvement....

Today's photo: 
Comfort food - for me anyway. Classic grilled cheese with a handful of  fresh blackberries for dessert. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 2

(Shot with a Sony point and shoot.....don't care much for lugging the big toy out on a wildlands gander..Copyright Diana Shay Diehl.)

Natural inspiration... Anyone want to guess what this might be? 
Today's image, compliments of Mother Nature...from exactly one year ago today.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Day 1

(Taken with a Canon 30d at Cayucos Beach, California. Copyright Diana Shay Diehl)

Happy New Year! What does that mean exactly? In many respects, it is simply putting up a new calendar; changing the last digit of the year and beginning the months and dates all over again. Is the first day of a new calendar year all that different from the day before? To me, it symbolizes an opportunity to celebrate, heal, forgive, start over, review, revise, refresh, continue with an adjusted mindset....  

Here's to a new calendar year full of hope and possibilities that are lived through the heart...