About Me

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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

HELP WANTED! Your vote needed TODAY!

Hello dear Readers,

I have entered my photo, Desert Fog, in an online contest sponsored by Fine Art America. Today is the end of the first qualifying phase which means getting at least 250 votes on your image. Next is the juried phase. The winners have their images shown on National TV in FAA's commercial starting this September.

I am currently needing 220 more votes (at the moment I am typing this). The qualifying phase ends by midnight today - I think Eastern Standard Time.

Please, please, check out the link and vote for my image. You don't need to sign up and do any gimmicky thing other than go to the site and click the button above my image.

Here is the link:

Diana Shay Diehl: Desert Fog

And here is the image:



Other than a slight sharpening and taking the flat gray out, this IS what I was standing in on that rare winter day last January. 


Please pLeAsE PLEASE vote for my image!  Diana Shay Diehl: Desert Fog

Many thanks in advance,
Diana

Thursday, June 27, 2013

It's a dog's life....

The desert is warming up and has driven me inside from about 10am until close to sunset. This morning, I was organizing files and came across some photos of various canine friends - mine and others I've had the pleasure to meet in my sojourns. There's something about dog people....they don't mind talking about their 4 legged family member, proudly showing off all their doggie-human traits. It's irresistible to animal lovers and an instant friend builder. You can hear tones and attitudes change for the better when people gather around these extensions of ourselves. It's a good thing.

"A dog doesn't care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his."
~John Grogan / Marley and Me

Here are just a few shots around my favorite haunts in Southern California:


This gentleman and his long time friend take daily morning walks at Balboa Park in San Diego, CA                      
before the tourists and visitors fill the place up.

Another regular around Balboa Park - I believe her name was Elizabeth Taylor. And yes, she stayed stock still the entire time my camera was up in her schnoz..... What a star!
This was taken at Seaport Village - also in San Diego. I think people purposefully dress up their canine companions and hit the streets for us photogogglers to have some fun with... The poochie posed on command.
At the home of a friend here in my desert. Doncha love it when they bring you gifts?
Our furry family member, Toby, wistfully watching 2 of his canine buddies get ahead of him on the trail. Toby must have some kind of herding dog in him because he MUST be up front or take an arm off in trying to do so. He listens much better off leash than on when there are other people and dogs involved.  I am making him wait patiently until he walks nice on the leash.                                    He was not happy.
I love this one. Such sweet, beautiful animals - the 3 blonde ones! The couple is pretty sweet, too. This was a fun photo shoot of a different kind and just as challenging to get the 'children' to all cooperate at the same time.                                                                    Actually, they were easier than the human variety...

And of course, our Toby - again. I don't want to bore you with too many shots of this guy. Here he is helping his girl navigate a drive into town...  (©AubreyDiehlCellPhoto) Yep. He's a ham.

Norway. RIP. His favorite place in the world - on a road trip with his human....

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Making heart space...

Leisurely summer days. For me, it means catching up on things left undone from a hectic work period. Purging. Cleaning. Sorting. Interspersed with reading, fiddling with camera gear, day trips, and meandering up roads forgotten in the cooler parts of the day. Sprinkle in visits over long breakfasts, lunches, and dinners with friends. Carve out working in the studio time with occasional afternoon naps - a necessary and rare treat. Creating heart space.

Today, I stumbled upon some photos from a hiking group I began several years ago. I got tired of hiking alone. Not many of my friends enjoyed daylong treks in the canyons and arroyos of this beautiful place I get to call home. So, I decided to see who I could find to join me via an online social group called Meetup. At that time, I was very active with the education segment of Joshua Tree National Park Association - the Desert Institute. I had the training to take groups of people out on field classes - safety being paramount. I knew a lot of great trails and was eager to share them with hopes of discovering some new ones. I also wanted to venture out a little farther and longer when it's not a good idea to do so alone. And then there is the simple sharing of these inspiring, head clearing, soul soaring natural places with kindred spirits. I was seeking friendship.

In November of 2009, the Hi Desert Trekkers was born. 

This was our maiden hike...the Warren Peak Trail from Black Rock Visitor Center - one of 4 official entries into the park.





















Over the course of nearly 3 years, the group grew to over 200 people coming in and out, staying steady at around 125 members. I'd say well over half never made it to a hike. It drew in many local folks as well. Some people breezed in for a bit from far away places - solo travelers just wanting a bit of local company as they enjoyed the peaks of our area. 

My vision of what I originally intended for this venture quickly evolved into something quite different. During this time, there were several people who had rarely hiked and felt safer to try this out in a group. Since then, they have become avid hikers. There were folks who joined us recovering from illnesses, cancers, personal trauma..... It would be the first time some of them ever completed a hike of 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 miles. A few, the first hike ever. They were slow. They got winded. They complained it hurt. They trekked on - and finished with smiles from the heart. No doubt the high from the accomplishment carried on for weeks afterwards. It does for me.










There was one morning short hike where a fellow from Canada signed up. We waited for him until a few minutes past the hike start time and as we were just ready to head to the trailhead, he comes flying in on mad wheels. Having driven all night - escaping the summer Olympics crowds of his city - he got his 'driving willies out' with a 3 mile hike with us before heading to a quiet condo in the lower desert. Funny, interesting man. Never saw him again.


<-------   A couple of the many lovely people who joined us on only one adventure.....












Another woman was visiting family in the LA area and extended her vacation to explore Joshua Tree National Park. She signed up for a few weekend hikes with us during her stay. Lovely person. I still remain in touch with her even though she hasn't come out this way since. I gained a friend and someone to visit on the east coast.

Most of our hikes ended with a signature shared meal. Either we'd all bring in something to share at some wild open spot or head to a local eatery. Lots of laughter and stories and sharing of lives. I invited them into my home; introduced them to my family; piled them into my car as we caravanned to the trailheads. It began to feel like family.




I wish I could post more shots of the incredibly beautiful trails we trekked upon but, alas, those files are gone with the stolen laptop episode earlier this year. As it goes when more and more people get involved, the different personalities and agendas change the atmosphere. What once was something I looked forward to nearly every weekend (I originally promised one hike a month - weekends only as I work Monday-Friday), began to feel like breaking up schoolyard tattle talers....   Some of the hikers started snipping and complaining about how slow the pace was; how meat eaters were inferior to vegans; personal banter and life sharing became digs on life choices. Comments would be made to me regarding why I would allow certain people to come when they "clearly were out of shape to keep up...."  The attitude was felt all the way down the line. Tight faces and scowls would greet the last of us getting back to the trailhead when they have been waiting for minutes for us (never hours mind you....).  Occasionally, a hike would end an hour or 2 later than I originally quoted due to a member not being able to keep the pace. I'd hear about that one - all over town. A few members preferred a break neck speed, checking their GPSs to see how fast we were going - taking pride they finished first and sending snarky remarks back to the "tortoises".  Did they even see anything along the trail? I'd wonder...

I didn't realize it, but the group was being unraveled. I lead too slow. I talked about my kids too much. Certain members wanted to be done by a certain time because they had "things to do" so the hikes began to feel rushed. At the hand of 2-3 people, another group was formed - around the time plantar fasciitis and the good ol' sciatic nerve started flaring up followed by the "Big C".  I had to slow down and heal, but did the baby need to be thrown out with the bath water? Into the cholla no less....

Sometimes I run across the old group on Facebook, now renamed - sporting photos of their weekly adventures; "their signature" potluck picnics... And when I do, my throat seizes up. The tears well over and spill down my cheeks. I feel a sharp pain in the pit of my stomach. You see, I'm never included. I hike too slow. I talk about my kids too much. I'm out of shape after my brief bout of health 'adjustments'.  I just don't 'fit their style' is the gossip on the streets....

A year and a half later, I'm finally back up and hiking again. Back where I began. When I'm not hiking the national park, I do have an eager friend to share the joy with on my neighborhood trails. My companion doesn't think I hike too slow. He loves my kids, too, and quietly allows me to vent about work stuff and family stuff and just stuff. He never mentions the weight that came on during my brief 'health adjustment period'.  He doesn't mind when I stop to gawk and marvel and catch my breath. 

He is always grateful any time we hit the trails.........



Still, with the heartache of the unraveling lingering even now - I am grateful to those who shared the trails with me; who trusted me with their life stories and listened to mine; who made me laugh; who let me cry; and those who relished stopping and gawking and marveling and making a full day out of it as much as I did. 

On the trails again....













Sunday, June 23, 2013

Healing with Horses...

Several months ago, I had the pleasure of spending a morning at a most wonderful ranch where horses are used to heal people of all ages from a variety of issues - from physical and emotional trauma to birth defects to temporary physical setbacks. The love and patience at this ranch are phenomenal. There are no excuses. There is no enabling to remain a victim of circumstances. Just lots of love and patience and encouragement and praise and celebration of progress and accomplishments. Being there was an instant mood lifter.

The place is Hippotherapy, Inc (Horses Helping to Heal Ranch) located in Pioneertown, California. Please check out the website via the embedded link. They can always use help by way of donations. They are a nonprofit organization providing healing services regardless of financial ability. The folks who staff it are certified physical therapists. It takes at least 3 people for each rehabilitation session - one to lead the horse around an obstacle course, one to steady the patient, and one to work with the patient. Volunteers help round out the work force. Then, there are the 4 legged assistants who trail behind making sure nothing is missed.....

I'll let some photos tell the story of this morning well spent. What an honor it was to be there....



What's not to love about these wonderful creatures. Patient, sensitive, ready to 'work'.  These horses emanate kindness and strength with a healthy dose of playfulness.


Yes, this muzzle is saying "Kiss me!" And he means it.....
At least 3 people per session with the 4 legged assistant not far behind. What you don't hear in this scene is all the loving encouragement and praise along with direction during the session.

The obstacle course has many sensory stations for patients to experience and play with.

Another part of the obstacle course - ring that brass bell!



And when the work is done, a little horse play. These beauties were magnificent to watch...


<-------Are ya done yet? Can we play ball now?





















THIS was one of the best moments of my day. The little girl had been coming to therapy for awhile. On THIS day, she walked IN and OUT (with minor assistance from Grandpa) on her own feet rather than being carried or in a stroller.  If you could have seen the joy and smiles all around. She was one happy, proud kiddo....



  Tack........

















 ......and more tack.........


Friday, June 21, 2013

Happy Summer Solstice!

Summer! For those of us in the northern hemisphere,  it means sun and heat and longer days and being outside as much as possible. As a girl growing up in South Carolina and Wisconsin, summer meant riding bikes until dark and evening BBQs and seeing who could catch the most fireflies and counting mosquito bites. Summer mornings, always on a Saturday, started to the sound of lawnmowers and the smell of fresh cut grass the fans blew in through the windows - open before the heat and humidity of the day set in and air conditioners needed to be turned on. The cicadas trilled in the heat of the day; the crickets took over at night. Taking a shower only helped you to smell better because the humidity never allowed you to dry off. No one noticed. We were too busy telling stories and building forts and stealthily wandering from one house to the other in pursuit of whatever good guys vs. bad guys game we had concocted - while our parents sipped beers and martinis and bourbons on someone's patio.

Now that my home is in the desert, anything around the ocean is what soothes my soul (too hot from about 11am to near sundown). I've been fortunate to have lived an easy few hours from the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans all of my life. Even so, I love the quiet cool stillness of a desert morning before the sun warms up the distance mountains - and again as the sun dips below the horizon. No mosquito bites to count. No fresh cut grass to tickle my nose on a Saturday morning - but a special summer essence all on its own...

Whatever you love doing, or wherever you are north of the equator- Happy Summer Solstice - a time to refresh and have FUN and celebrate all life under the sun....







Friday, June 7, 2013

Summer reminiscing...

Just playing around in old files this evening.

Sebatian's Groceries. Or it was. Now it's Sebastian's General Store and Cafe.  Same building that Randolph Hearst owned back in the day in San Simeon, California -also home to William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach. I remember it being a true general store with camping goods and the like when my kids were small. Beautiful, weathered old wood floors that creaked and local knick knacks among the necessary lamp batteries, camp stoves, and spam.....

Thankfully, they left the character of the original building intact in the trendier redo. Although, I'm not sure this 'groceries' sign is still on the side of the building anymore. Hmm, might need a roadtrip to check it out....



























And then there's Linn's Farmhouse and olallieberry pies and Phil, the pie-maker....

Oh yes, summertime is near....


Saturday, June 1, 2013

June is for...

June. Speaks of flip flops, loose dresses, and big sun hats. Fresh fruit smoothies and green, crispy salads - all collected from 'real' gardens and local farms. Early morning-just-as-the-sun-rises desert walks and late evening strolls. Mid day is for inside stuff - reading, working on projects, visiting museums, a decadent nap. Time to regroup and reprioritize.

Below, one of my favorite roads in Joshua Tree National Park.  It was a full moon night - nearly midnight. A quiet so deep, my ears hurt.

Pinto Basin in moonlight....