About Me

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

Monday, March 26, 2012

26 March 2012

Busy, busy, busy......the past two weekends I have had the privilege of following two different experts around in the desert. One, an ecologist. The other, a photographer as well as friend. So many intriguing things to explore. For now, I will just show you mainly in pictures.

This past weekend, a group of 'budding' photographers from the Desert Institute wandered about 2 miles up a very wide wash exploding with wildflowers. There aren't many this year, at least not in the higher elevations, yet. We won't have the profusion of flowers we had a few years back but last Saturday was not a disappointment. I am so glad I do not suffer from allergies........

Here are a few highlights of my day this recent weekend. I wish I had bothered to bring my 100mm macro AND a wide angle lens. The wash was vast and complicated with the rocky canyon walls along the wide wash basin strewn with the remains of the huge flood last fall. The breeze made it difficult to get clear shots up close of the blossoms. Many of my photos were quite fuzzy. Delete. Delete. Delete. Still, it was fun, once again, to lie belly down in the warm desert sand, getting close to the miracle of spring birth.

(All images © Diana Shay Diehl 2012)

I love this tiny little cluster. They are a type of desert daisy. There are several varieties that look similar but have distinctions only a trained eye with a loop could discern. This cluster could fit in the palm of my hand with maybe 2-3 more. Miniature perfection.

Chuparosa or hummingbird bush.  These were abundant all along the roadside at the southeast end of Joshua Tree National Park. 

 Above: An unfurled Datura

Right:  Close up of Datura in full bloom

Bottom left:  Full view of Datura. I love the purple tinge on the outer most edges.

Beautiful to behold, deadly to ingest. Other names for this lovely plant is Jimson Weed, stink weed, devil's trumpet, loco weed.... It's in the nightshade family.  Stay away.....

Apricot mallow, I think. Although I remember them having yellow 'innards'. I should pay better attention. Anyway, if that is what this is, desert tortoises love snacking on these.

To the left is desert lupine. The leaf is as spectacular as the delicate flowers. This one has been pollenated already. You can tell because what was once yellow has turned red after pollination. The color change tells the pollinators to not waste their time here....the deed has been done.
 Above is a sand blazing star.  Don't you just love how it shimmers? Like taffeta on a gown....

Not exactly sure what this beauty is. I believe it is a golden sun cup.
  To the left is a young fan palm (I think) in various stages of leafing out. (Okay, I know that isn't the scientific term....dear botanists, forgive me....)  Anyway, I never realized how the new leaves are tightly bound and look like corrugated cardboard as they open up. Look at those patterns.  In the background, you can see the leaves after they have had time to stand straight and fill out.  The local Native Americans used those stringy fibers in their intricate weaving.

And finally, to the left is a......scorpi-something or other. For the life of me, I cannot remember. I think it's in the pea family. It grows like a vine. See how the tendrils intertwine?
The flower clusters are a soft peach, like I remember seeing in beach cottages on the Atlantic coast where I spent my younger years.  These have a Victorian look to me. They smelled nice, too.

And there you have it. A bouquet in pictures. I have tons more. Another post. Another time.....

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

20 March 2019

Happy Spring Equinox!

Desert Canterbury Bells....one of my favorites out here. This wash was FULL of them - great, big tufts of these lovely violet-blue blossoms on tall stalks with thick, stocky leaves at the base. I find it particularly intriguing how they tend to want sandy washes to make their spectacular debut.  Who would guess there is enough nutrients in those porous granules of rock into sand to sustain such vibrant beauty?  It felt good to lie on my belly on a warm patch of sand as I took this photo. Within the hour, the skies turned dark and it began to snow.

Hope your first day of spring was warm and promising of new things to come...

2012 © Diana Shay Diehl / JTNP: Cottonwood Springs wash

Monday, March 19, 2012

19 March 2012

Here is another shot from this past weekend in my beloved park....more for the benefit of my distant readers (and maybe those of you close by who haven't taken the opportunity to explore this beautiful area...).

Considered the cornerstone of Joshua Tree National Park, this particular photo is of the Oasis of Mara which is a short and pleasant nature walk down a paved path from the national park headquarters / visitor center. When my daughter worked as an interpretative ranger there before sailing off into the Navy, she had the most interesting stories of what was witnessed just outside the large picture windows from inside the visitor center. One story that stuck in my mind, both kind of funny and sort of 'gross' if you aren't used to the ways of nature, centered around some European tourists experiencing desert life in all its glory one hot summer day. Both visitors and rangers were watching in awe and amusement the antics of a roadrunner in the garden area just off the patio. They are beautiful yet comical birds - and stealth hunters. Since there is shade and water, many, many desert critters visit especially when the human traffic is down - like on a hot summer day. Suddenly, the roadrunner nabbed a dove (I think - some kind of bird anyway. The dove makes sense because they aren't terribly 'aware' of their surroundings...). The roadrunner snatched off the poor creature's head and then began bashing it to pieces on the ground, feathers and body parts flying everywhere. The rangers went "Oooh.....wow.....look at that!"  The visitors were totally grossed out and quite upset over the spectacle. From what I remember hearing, they left abruptly in a huff.  I am wondering what they think wilderness protection areas are about? I must admit though, while I'd be kind of grossed out myself, it is sort of 'cool' to watch nature - pleasant or not - as the animals do what they must do to survive.

 2012 © Diana Shay Diehl
Looking west from the JTNP Headquarters Visitor Center towards the Oasis of Mara, a desert fan palm oasis, one of 5 in our park. I have been to 3 of them and will be hiking to a fourth the 31st of this month. There are only about 158 oases known in North America... 

If you are interested in learning a bit about the oasis, check out this link:  

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March continues to roar in...

Goodness, what a wild weekend I had - weather wise, of course (wink, wink).  Storms swirled all around us for two days -  wind gusts, rain, spots of sun, some sleet, then snow! All within the matter of a couple of hours. Many of us are hoping to wake up to frozen roads and snow in the morning. One can hope but I'm not holding my breath. All I can hear now is wind knocking more things around outside. At least the desert got a good drink of water....

I spent both my weekend days out in the park in an ecology class. I've always thought a desert was an amazing habitat. A master at adaptation. Resilient. Frugal. Surprises of vibrant colors and softness amongst the rigid roughness of grand rock formations. And yet, still fragile - especially at the hands of humans. I'm too tired at the moment to expound much more but I will leave you with a few photos of my weekend. I am anxious to share tidbits of what I learned which I will do throughout this week when I have more time.

A break in the clouds before the next storm blew in. This is looking "up" Pinto Road back towards the main part of the park. We had driven from the Mojave Desert to the Colorado Desert within minutes...  Did you know that the Colorado Desert is part of the Sonoran Desert? I didn't, until today. There are four main desert biomes in the United States and all are located in the southwest region. The desert I live in, the Mojave, is probably more temperate than the others as far as temp extremes can go. We are mainly a rain shadow desert as all the moisture from the nearby Pacific Ocean gets held up at the mountain ranges and we usually get little of it. Not today though....strong winds pushed it right on over - in various states of precipitation no less - rain, sleet, and snow!

Pancake, beavertail, or prickly pear cactus? Could you tell the difference? Is this a succulent? If it is, is it a leaf succulent or a stem succulent?  What is the purpose of those thorns?

I will divulge what I learned in another post. Until then, take your best gander....

Coming out of the park the first day, we encounter this 'fella' on the side of the road, snout shoved into the run off water, drinking, drinking, drinking.....  Its 'biologist' was nearby, making sure the onlookers didn't harass it while it filled up. Apparently, this one is notorious for dashing out to the street whenever it rains, knowing that's where abundant water will be. Rain dropped into washes usually soaks deep into the sand too quickly for a tortoise to catch. Those nodules on its shell are transmitters so their whereabouts and habits can be monitored. In all my years out here, I've never seen a desert tortoise (not turtle) in the wild with monitors on it. Out here, it makes us happy to cross paths with one that is healthy and spunky like this one. Although, I don't know about drinking that nasty road run off water. Its monitoring biologist wondered the same thing....

2012 © Diana Shay Diehl / all images

Friday, March 16, 2012

16 March 2012

Feeling a little melancholy of late. Maybe I'm just tired - lacking B vitamins. Maybe I'm just missing time with my daughter and middle son. Or, it's not enough time in nature or with people who are kind, genuine, gentle... Too much 'stuff' to do on my plate and not enough of the stuff that makes my soul sing...  I spent all of today, sitting, listening to stuff I heard the last time I sat and listened. I don't sit well. I always feel like I'm on the outside of the fishbowl looking in at the place I spend the majority of my days - particularly when there are staff gatherings. Ah well, such is life. Sometimes we are swimming with the school....sometimes we are flip-flopping helplessly on the shore - hoping to be noticed and rescued.  Today, I think I needed to be rescued.

"Mama said there'd be days like this
There'd be days like this my mama said......."
(First sung by the Shirelles, no? Or was it Sam Cooke?)

I'm also kind of missing doing a daily post. Lately, I pick up my camera and it feels like dead weight in my hands where it used to feel a part of me.  I wonder if taking B vitamins will get my groove back? Or maybe just a long, hard hug from a real friend. Or, a road trip. New scenery. Different air. Did I mention I don't sit well?

I'm kind of thinking all of the above...

Here is a simple and sweet image. I like it anyway. I am hoping to see more this weekend as I get to spend both days learning something new on the ecology of the national park and surrounds where I live.  Better get my camera gear ready. Then again, the weather forecast calls for high winds, rain, or possibly snow in my area. This will be interesting. Springtime in the desert.

The miracle of flowers.......

 © Diana Shay Diehl

PS The calendar idea is taking shape. Four different themes so far. Pretty exciting! And now to find affordable, quality printing services....

Monday, March 12, 2012


I'm back! The little respite from trying to figure out what to post on a daily basis has afforded me a creative burst of energy. That's what meandering Saturdays are for - days few and far between for me as I seem to always schedule my 'free' time away doing volunteer work, arranging hike outings for friends and new acquaintances, or running in circles trying to catch up with the must-dos around my home. This particular weekend, however, I gave myself permission to not be in charge of anything but me.  And, amazingly, much was accomplished - including some nothing-in-particular restful time at my favorite place - home.  All in a day...

Saturday morning found me wandering the farmers' market for fresh goodies with time thrown to chat with dear friends over Aztec coffees (and a vegan date shake for breakfast for me....yum!) in the warm spring sun.  I love this little place in Joshua Tree - Ricochet Gourmet. Fabulous, homemade food and drinks. Hip vibe but not pretentious at all. Definitely one of a kind. A place that makes you want to linger....

One of my favorite reasons to hit the farmers' market on a Saturday morning is to buy myself an armload of fresh cut flowers. The grower hails from San Diego. He comes up every weekend with a truck load of whatever is in season and happily growing on his acreage. An armload (literally) costs the same as one sad little bouquet from the local grocery store....and these last me 2 weeks, sometimes more. They make me happy and I'm helping to keep a private farmer/grower in business.

 Usually I don't buy too many fruits or veggies. It really depends as this farmers' market is not all certified organic nor does the food look fresh and inviting every time I go. This Saturday, however, something happened from one week to the next because practically every vendor had beautiful fresh and tasty foods to offer. Prices were still higher than I'd like but the flavor and quality were worth the extra bucks.

Know what I did with what I scored? I roasted ALL the veggies (what remained from raw snacking - SO tasty...)  Here is a simple recipe my good friend, Ann, turned me on to. It was my dinner tonight: (I would have posted a photo but I was famished ...sorry....) 

  • Slice / quarter 4-5 different types of veggies. (I used turnips, brussels sprouts, beets, parsnips, and carrots.)
  • Drizzle olive oil over them. (Mix with your hands to make sure everything is covered with oil.)
  • Sprinkle over coarse sea salt, pepper, and rosemary.
  • Put in a cast iron skillet or stone baking dish and bake for about 50 minutes @400 degrees - stir every 10 minutes or so. (Don't use glass or metal baking dishes...not as flavorful, I think.)

That same evening, I headed "down the hill" for an art opening and dinner with a girlfriend. A change of scenery, even if it's for a few hours, changes perspective and rejuvenates the soul and that is what I needed to get past a creative road block. Maybe it was sipping champagne at the opening of Edward Cunningham's works from the early 1900's or the walk down the block to dinner or the one martini (shaken, not stirred, extra dry with 2 olives) with a sumptuous seared ahi salad or the open hearted, engaging conversations my friend and I were having. Maybe it was all of that....  

Whatever it was, I am now a few clicks away from a calendar prototype of my images - a test sample is ready for this year to see how the quality of one printer I selected is. I will launch a variety of calendars for 2013. One, in particular, is earmarked as a fund raiser to buy art and science supplies and, hopefully, honorariums for an after school enrichment program I am developing for the younger students at my school. I have hopes this venture will be successful enough to fund additional programs. We'll see. Continued budget cuts are stripping not only the fun but the necessary content and subject matter that makes real learning meaningful and life long. The arts. The sciences. World geography. History. Anything that doesn't involve filling in a bubble......  

Ah, but I digress....wasn't I talking about meandering Saturdays? Good food? Friendship? Rejuvenating the soul? I'll save my soapbox for another post....

(All images © Diana Shay Diehl 2012)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day 60

My 60th post! And it's time to change it up a bit. I have some new ideas on the burner and am anxious to put them into fruition. With that mentioned, my original photo-a-day turned post-a-day turned a photo-post-when-I-get-to-it will now be once a week. In a rambly sort of way, I am fine-tuning what I need to get out of this project...

I appreciate all the support, candid comments and suggestions, so far, from my readers. What has been really cool is that you all come from all corners of this magnificent planet of ours - countries in Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada - and a few countries I had to look up!  So, thank you, my silent supporters. I hope you have seen something intriguing and inspirational. I'd be curious to hear some thoughts now and again from you.

Today's 60th post is another example of Chiaroscuro...probably my favorite one. This particular shot evokes warm feelings and very pleasant smells for me. My daughter and I shared a wonderful week flitting through the Mojave Desert Preserve on our way to and from Zion National Park. Alongside the road were these tall stands of flowers as well as sprinkled all over the trails in Zion - orchid-like in a way with a strong, sweet scent. Most of the stalks were nearly 3 feet tall.  Amazing to me is that it was a hot, hot mid June day; a time seeing prolific stands of flowers anywhere in the desert is not often seen. I should get better at finding out exact names of things. Sorry about that. I'm an image/feeling person, not a details kinda gal. However, I would like to know what they are, too.....

© Diana Shay Diehl

PS For those who asked, yes, many of my images are for sale and can be printed. I am working on a location for direct sales but for now, contact me directly and we can discuss what size, paper type, presentation type you would like.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Day 59

Chiaroscuro: In art, whether it is drawn, painted, photographed - even in words - extreme contrasts of light and dark...


© Diana Shay Diehl

Monday, March 5, 2012

Day 58

I am getting a little bored with my posts. I tend to write from the cuff - whatever is going on, whatever is passing through my mind and heart, very little editing (mistakes feel more human, no?).

Part of the reason (a large part...) to challenge myself with regular posting was to stretch my creative abilities with images more so than wordy ramblings. I am out of wordy ramblings at the moment. Time to stay within for awhile....

Here is another image of Impressionistic 'painting' with light and lens, one of my earlier ones. I should have moved the camera more. In any event, I wish was walking down that country road again.......smell the fresh, wet earth? Mmmm.... 

©Diana Shay Diehl

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Day 57

Today, snowshoeing with one of my favorite hiking friends. We've been waiting all winter for opportunities to break out our gear. I think we may have found the last of this season's snow deep enough (in shady, north facing places) to don our snowshoes and trek back into Sand Canyon (or was it Bow Canyon? I get the areas mixed up....). Pleasant temps. None of the predicted winds were blowing - thank goodness. The crunch of our snowshoes, an occasional jet, and songbirds were the only noticeable sounds of the afternoon. The air, fresh and cool. The sky, bright blue with the moon peeping over the pines. Two and a half hours of plodding up slopes and back down, trying to avoid the bare patches of mud and rocks.

A welcomed change of scenery....

.......and I'm off......

Friday, March 2, 2012

Day 56

People. Families. Love. My favorite subjects to photograph. No bells and whistles. No cutesy frames or wording. Just the natural light. My camera. A good lens. Some slight adjustments and tweaks for clarity and color....and getting to know the faces in front of my lens. A precious moment, frozen in time. No better way to spend a few hours of a well lit morning or afternoon.

Here a just a few of my favorite families/friends/artists.....

All images © Diana Shay Diehl
"First Born"

"Catching Josiah"

"Philip Rosenberg: Musician/Poet/Wordsmith"


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Day 55

Today's post: more rocks.  Climbing is a passion as well as an art out here. I'm in awe of those who scale the heights like little spider people. Years ago, I took a mountaineering class with the Sierra Club. One component was to use only a rope (no harness, chalk, or clips) and practice basic rappelling/belaying skills in the event you must use a rope to get down off of a cliff, etc.  We all climbed up a series of boulders to prepare rappelling down a steep face. I was in the last group to come down. Going up was fun and easy - even with my short legs.  Our ages varied greatly. Back then, I was the youngster in the group... I watched as each person rappelled down thinking, "If she/he can do this, so can I....." Well, my partner didn't have me belayed properly so I had to pull myself up and over the curved rock face to refigure the roping and start again - three times. On the third try, I was so tired and so scared I just wanted DOWN. And down I went. Zip! Folks in the group said they had never seen someone's face turn so white so fast. My butt and inner thigh where the rope was looped had a nice rope burn. I haven't had the inclination since. If I can't scramble down with my own feet and hands or scoot down on my rear end, I'm not going up....  Kudos to those who got over the fear with trustworthy and skilled partners cheering them on.

This is my son. His first real climb. Since this day (which was only months ago), he has gradually purchased his own gear - good climbing shoes, his own harness, chalk bag, some carabiners..... And has even made several first ascents. All thanks to someone who took the time to show him the joy of it all by doing it right. Thanks Todd.

Hugging rocks. Good for the soul.....

© Diana Shay Diehl / Joshua Tree National Park