Maybe . . . Just Maybe I’ll Make Photos More Regular

I’VE BEEN ENCOURAGED BY A WRITER/PHOTOGRAPHER friend of mine—to maybe make photography a regular thing in my blogging schedule.

It may happen—once I get my camera thoroughly cleaned! iPhone shots of the week is all you’ll get today.


Bindy loves a good roll in the dirt


Clouds teasing at the promise of rain

Koi Pond

Panoramic shot of the Koi pond *in* one of our local hospitals.

I was out and about having a grand time on Friday—after I had my blog posted—completely shirking my writerly duties for the rest of the day (insert huge grin). I drove all over creation … crossing into and out of three different counties and covering over 75 miles in the process.

The camera didn’t come out till late in my travels, but I wanted to capture an area I hadn’t seen before, so it took awhile. I didn’t even use my iPhone … just the Pentax. I was all excited to see the photos when I got back home.

What a let down … nice shots (nothing spectacular), good lighting, nice shadowing. And big flecks in the picture. (insert huge frown here). To say the least, I was very disappointed…and not proud of the glaring flaws, so you won’t be seeing any of them. Not sure I could have avoided the smaller flecks—they seem to be fairly consistent over my last shoots. But, I forgot to clean the lens before taking my shots.

Head/desk. Groan.

So, I ask myself … do I go back out after cleaning the lens carefully and try to retake the shots another day or wait till I’ve had the camera professionally cleaned so all of my shots will (assuming I clean the lens) be clear of debris?

I could take it in on Monday … be without my beloved Pentax for awhile as I reintroduce myself and become more familiar with my Nikon … could do that. Use the Nikon on a photo walkabout—perhaps closer to home first … then drive back up to the foothills of Gilroy to play with shadows and lighting.

Snort. Going out on Monday—or any other day this week—to reshoot photos has not happen. Just iPhone shots taken around the yard or whilst on errands. My edit consumed me, but I did manage to get the first round done (insert Snoopy dance). And after that, I found myself frittering away my time with planning an upcoming trip (it turned out to be more complicated than I anticipated—sigh). Hard to think about photography  or subsequent edits when all that is happening. But I must…I’ve put all else aside.

I do have a class coming up this weekend—I’m very excited about it! It’s a class taught by Bob Rocco on the ins and outs of the photopolymer process…taking photos and creating an engraved metal plate of the image that can be inked up and printed on the press. There are new techniques I’ll be learning—and refreshing my grey cells on how to do the stuff I should know by heart (but don’t). Love it!

I will close for now so I can begin my search through a ton of archived photos for the few images I’ll be playing with over the weekend. I also need to figure out how to put my Photoshop Elements program either on my laptop (good luck) or on an external drive (that would be better, if it will allow it), since it was one of the requirements (hopefully optional, if it doesn’t work) for the class. If all goes well, I’ll have something to share with you next week. (insert hopeful grin)

May you’re weekend will be blessed, rich with experiences you can carry forward into the years ahead.


Drawing A Blank…

WELL, THIS IS UNUSUAL. MY BRAIN SEEMS to be blank—at least where my blog is concerned. Well, I do have fleeting ideas, but none manage to take root. Often, when I’m driving around town, an idea comes to me and churns ’round in my mind till it forms into a line of thought. But this week, nothing. Nada.

This is when I consider going through my photos to come up with a pictoral blog. Usually, about half way through rooting around all the pictures, I come up with a nice blog—one of prose. It’s only Tuesday. We’ll see what happens…

And now…it’s Thursday and I’m still drawing a blank. My edit has my mind fully engaged in the story. Working on making it better—with the help of my awesome editor, David Antrobus—with each pass. Surprisingly, I’m having fun going through the edit and re-reading what I’ve written (this does not mean it’s not hard to make the changes needed—unfortunately, it seems that will always be a challenge). I will never get tired of this story I’ve created and the characters (especially the two protagonists) that have evolved. They each have such a distinct persona. I love it. I find myself giggling and/or shaking my head at their antics, actions and thoughts. And, thankfully, they are still developing. Growing. My children (insert huge grin here).

I’ve read somewhere that the characters in a writer’s story are usually bits of that writer’s own persona. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I have drawn characteristics from people around me—and, yes…I guess some from me, too—to make them real, to give them depth. I certainly hope I have succeeded.

Working concurrently on both book three’s edit and the creation of book four has helped keep the continuity of their character…but at the same time it has slowed my progress on each one—trememdously. In addition, writing/editing has made it difficult to concentrate and create this weekly blog. I certainly don’t want to discontinue the blog…but it may get a bit spotty now and then as I struggle to juggle so many different things. For this, I am apologizing in advance. Though I hate to just fill the space with “fluff”—I’ll endeavor to avoid this—at the very least, I’ll try to post a few photos of what life has thrown my way during the week. You may (insert wink) get tired of my dog and cat…and Point Lobos…

I’ll keep you posted on my writing/editing progress, for sure. But, I do have a visit to Gallifrey One Convention in LA at the beginning of next month, so at least one blog will be about my adventures there. For those unfamiliar, I am a Doctor Who fan. It’s a on-going science fiction tv series from the 60s…still going strong. Gallifrey is the Doctor’s home planet, hence the name of the convention event. I stumbled upon it in mid-70s when Tom Baker portrayed the Doctor. I haven’t been to a convention is a zillion years, so this event aught to be interesting…. I’ll probably be one of the oldest attendees (giggle). Like I said…interesting.

Trying to sneak in a book signing whilst I am in LA was on my agenda, but it looks like that’s not going to happen. Perhaps in March—I’ll be back down in Southern California then for a family reunion…I just have to see if I can round up critter sitters for the extended time I’m gone.

So, this has been a mish-mash of thoughts, ideas and an apology. I’ll try to keep my future blogs a wee bit more focused. In the meantime, I hope this next week is filled with amazing discoveries, good books to take you far afield and blessed with friends and family to share your life’s adventures.



Painterly Endeavors

PUTTING ON MY “PAINTERLY” HAT THIS month…I’ve been having fun at Open Ground Studios lately. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Denese Sanders, teacher and owner, has classes of different sorts going each month. Crazy me jumped in with both feet … taking classes both Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Denese’s Tuesday Creative Habits is dedicated to getting into a creative groove, so to speak. A potpourri of artistic mediums are used—a different one each month. January is graphite drawing. I’m not that good as a line-drawing artist (I know I may be better at some, but consider myself

graphite drawing

Graphite drawing of my dog at Creative Habit class at Open Ground Studios

far worse than many more), but figure it’s not going to hurt dabbling, working on improving my skills. Kaeli (my dog) was a great model, even if I don’t do her justice. There are times I think I

Kaeli, my model

My model for some graphite drawing

might have ADD since I find myself getting distracted about half way through the class. But, even with my doodles—and Denese’s guidance, I can focus and accomplish


Doodles when I get distracted…

the task at hand. I think I may play with drawing my cat’s eye next time (see below)…so amazing to see the detail in his eye.

Cats Eye

My cat’s eye up close and personal…

The first Thursday class for miniature book binding was postponed ’till this Thursday—last night— which was a good thing in disguise (at least for me). Starting up with two night classes in a week might have been my downfall.

Miniature Books

A collection of the little books made on the first night. The business card is for size comparison.

I was excited to get my hands on a miniature book (insert grin) … guess anything concerning books gets me going. Teehee.  Though a small class (a good thing for us students), we had a blast, learning quite a few forms…creating quite a few in the process: accordion (two types), pocketed folio, mini books with three- and five-hole threading.

Mini Accordian Book

My slightly modified mini accordion book, with a flap to enclose the whole book (or it can lie flat at the back)

I think my favorite for the night was the teensie-tiny (only about an inch and a half square) accordion. I modified my cover slightly to make it a bit more artsy. By the way…after last night’s class, I think the “ADD” I experienced at the Creative Habit class is more from it not being something I’m “in love” with doing…line drawing apparently is not my thing, but still, a good way to explore the different things out there. Three hours time flew by so fast last night … I didn’t want it to end (well, I was getting blurry eyed from the hour, but was having so much fun). I can hardly wait for next Thursday. Denese has some interesting structures for us to “build” … wheee!

For those of you that are local, there’s still time to join in on either night’s activities. Simply sign up at their website: Open Ground Studios

In between my art-focused classes, I’ve been wandering around with various cameras (iPhone, my little Canon point ‘n shoot and my Pentax)—snapping shots in different settings. I find myself in awe of our area, taking pictures along the coast and in the woods at Point Lobos—both flora and fauna, in my yard (there’s always something to capture my interest), and on the road (or along side the road)—or even in nurseries (see below)

Deer grazing.

A young deer, completely unafraid of me, posed as I took photos of it grazing. (above)

Path through forest

Path through the forest at the south end of Point Lobos


Broken Plaster

Unfinished plaster display at a nursery caught my eye (center)

The Central Coast of California is an awe inspiring place for photographers — and plein-air artists…you can find them set up, perched on a chair or rock or standing, painting or drawing the landscape almost any time of the day.

In between all of the painterly activities, I am working on the edit for The Scymarian—trying desperately to get it done and returned to my editor for the second go-round so my readers can dive into the third book … and then there’s always the weekly, last-minute scurry to get the blog finished and published. Well, honestly … it’s only sometimes that I’m doing that last-minute thing. I do try to have it done by the end of the day on Thursday and have been pretty successful of late (yay). Right now, I’m begrudgingly yielding to the need to work on the blog instead of editing—I know taking breaks from editing helps get it done with less fatigue … but I am certainly pressed to complete the edit as soon as possible.

I’ll sign off now so that I can get some editing done before heading off to run errands (and attempt a short walk—all this sitting will be the death of me!).

Cross your fingers—those Secrets Beyond Scymaria readers amongst you—hopefully I will have this edit completely done before the end of this month and have it submitted to the publisher by the end of February.

Until next time, may your day be blessed with wonderment, good health and joy.

A Cornucopia of Thoughts…

LIFE HAS BEEN AMAZINGLY GOOD for me over the years. Even when I look back and recall the trials and tribulations that have popped up again and again. They have shaped me, tempered me into who I am today.

As a child, I felt ostracized. Different from others because I was such a “dummy”—and danced to a different drum. I loved art, read voraciously (once I learned to deal with my dyslexia), and was just coming into my own both artistically and as a writer. Sadly, school did a great job of squelching my artistic side and my peers squelched my writing.  I learned to do any art or writing “in secret”, not showing anyone, until it finally faded into distant memories, lying dormant for what felt like ages. I did continue to read though, and in my subconscious, my painterly and writerly sides were preparing themselves.

It wasn’t until much later in my life that I started to do both again.

I did manage to keep playing with my cameras. First (as a middle schooler) a Swinger—the kids version of the Polaroid camera and a Kodak Instamatic…then a neat little video camera–prehistoric compared to what’s out there today. Sadly, I never developed the last roll on it from my days at the original Pepperdine University in Watts during the civil unrest. Sometimes I wonder if there is someone out there that could salvage it. Then, as an adult, I graduated to an Olympus SLR. Together, my husband and I would go camping and take copious photos of our trips. I have many, many wonderful years of memories from that camera. My husband purchased it for me–selling an old collectable camera to get this new one (and several lenses) for me. So sweet. I didn’t realize it at the time, but those were pretty sweet treasures he gave up for me. I wish I’d known (insert serious guilt here).

That Olympus saw some serious usage—and abuse (well, mostly the lenses, but the body as well). It was responsible for scooping up the frosting off my nephew’s cake (I don’t think his mom ever completely forgave me for destroying her beautiful creation…)—for some reason, I had to reach over to the other side of the table while I was wearing the camera around my neck…oops.

And, was never the same after my little ‘incident’ in a helicopter that couldn’t stay in the sky…all the dings left in the body jostled the mirrors big time. Even though we sent it in for repairs…it just wasn’t the same. I never sold it…just finally retired it to a drawer. Perhaps some day, I’ll pull it out and give it a go—if I want to try my hand at film again (I am so over-the-moon sold on digital)…

I have drawers…many drawers filled with little boxes of negatives and packages of photos—both mine and my husband’s. Many of them are from before we even knew each other. Memories of his I’ll never fully understand without him there to explain the photos…where and why they were taken, the subjects in the photos—things like that. I haven’t taken the time to go through any of them (his or mine)—sorting the good shots from the bad…and the multiples. Maybe because there’s still too many memories attached to most of them. When my husband and I went on a trip, many times we ended up capturing the same image. Sometimes, it was interesting to see if there were any differences—little nuances that one might have seen that the other did not. Occasionally, yes.

At some point, when my daughter was beginning to show an interest in photography, we ended up with two Pentax K-100 digital cameras—one for me, one for her—plus matching tripods…and accessories (insert huge grin here)—lots of accessories. I don’t even know how long ago that was—middle school? Freshman in high school? We’d go out on little photo walks, taking pictures and—sometimes the three of us, but usually, just the two of us. I loved those times. All too soon, she grew up and away, spending more time with friends, taking photography classes and spreading her wings in preparation of flying off into her own life. We both still own our Pentax cameras. I’ve added a few lenses plus different sizes of tripods while she has stayed with the original equipment that came with hers (though, she is thinking of upgrading—I’m glad to see that). I’ve also purchased several other cameras (Canon and Nikon), but always find that I fall back on my Pentax for trips or when I just want something comfortable and familiar.

My pivotal year for writing was probably 1999. My storytelling in the schools was winding down to just a few a year. I’d started scribbling thoughts onto paper the year before, with the idea of doing personalized short stories—perhaps even transcribing the taped classroom stories and creating an anthology of those, but when my mom died suddenly in the spring of ’99, that all changed. That’s when I took on the responsibility of watching after my dad, who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and I had more time on my hands—so I wrote…and wrote. I found myself getting more serious with it and it started to become what I now fondly call my “never-ending story” that is still unfolding, even today. I did create some personalized short stories for some people, but it never took off, even though I do still offer the service.

Then, it was about four or five years ago that I seriously started tinkering with art, taking classes at one of our local community colleges. As my skills improved, I had this grand idea (when the Fort Ord area opened up and the housing went up for sale) to purchase four of the barracks and turn them into an art haven of sorts…yup—a grand idea…that never came to fruition.

Whilst I mulled over that idea, I became aware of a new venture proposed by one of the teachers at the community college I attended. Being lazy, and far short of the needed capital to begin my own venture, I turned my energies over to this lovely, creative lady, Denese Sanders. Her ideas and plans were sound and, though less grand than my own (and therefore, far more doable financially), would be more likely to make it off the ground! Open Ground Studios came into being almost two years ago and I have loved every minute there—being part of this creative community, making friends, taking classes/workshops, learning and creating art. OGS fills a much needed niche in the community and I’m glad I’m part of it. I’ve turned into the unofficial photographer for events too—capturing people being creative—and I love that.

Just the other day, in my busy rushing around—running to Open Ground Studios to work on my writing and then onto a sundry of little chores, I stopped off at my daughter’s home and we chatted for a bit. At the end, we discussed her upcoming birthday—deciding when to celebrate with the traditional birthday dinner. And as I left, she asked if I was free on the Friday before to go to Point Lobos with our cameras. I imagine my face answered the question quite easily—I probably had a grin from ear to ear. The thought of a simple walk in my favorite park is delightful, but to include my daughter and cameras was more than perfect. Of course, I said yes. Wheee!

Art, in whatever form one chooses—and writing, can create a very insulated, quiet life. It is very easy to become a bit of a hermit. So, finding ways to interact becomes important. Time spent with my daughter, chatting, tromping (hmm…maybe we should tippy-toe if we want to capture any wildlife) through the underbrush, trees and over rocks is a wonderful way to socialize. I can hardly wait for that Friday! Another is to spend time at Open Ground Studios, where I can, of course, find time to spend alone to work (whether it be art or writing), but can also find other artists to engage in conversation, to observe them working on their art form. Plus, there are always workshops and classes going on at OGS, so I get to learn and improve my skills as I socialize. The best of both worlds.

I know this blog has become quite inelegant…rambling hither and yon, but these are thought that needed to be sung out in this new year. The joys of art, of photography, of writing—of life…the frustrations that accompany growing up…trials and tribulations—and joys of life.

It’s what makes us who we are, don’t you think?



Happy New Year…Traditions

TOURNAMENT OF ROSES PARADE…this used to be an annual tradition of our family…my parents, brothers and yours truly—trekking to our Pasadena cousin’s home for as long as I can remember. It was a family affair. Most of my aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents would converge on their home along the parade route 🙂 where we would spend time together, reconnecting—yet again (…Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter were the other times we got together at our grandparents house in Corona), playing, eating, celebrating the new year and having a front row seat for the parade–for as long as we could stand the cold. After the parade, many of the adults would watch the Rose Bowl Game on TV as we cousins played in the back yard.

Strange which memories cling forever in the mind. I remember the parades, of course, but what I really remember is the gigantic, ancient red fire truck planted in their back yard. We climbed all over it, through it, around it. Loved that fire truck. But another lingering memory is the baby’s breath that trellised up a tree in their yard. Not sure why that sticks, but it does. Guess it was the “nature-girl” in me that made that memory stick. Teehee.

It was a special time. A very special time with family.

Once I married, I talked my boy-friend turned husband into attending several times, but he was overwhelmed (he was from a very small family—he could count extended family on two hands…well, plus maybe a couple extras fingers) by the sheer volume of family that was present. So, we started our own tradition by watching in the comfort of our home on TV each year, but it just wasn’t the same—not seeing it in person, not having all that family around…

After an early breakfast, we would sit down and watch the parade. That was part of the tradition: breakfast before—to keep the excitement and anticipation going just a little longer before any special event like Christmas, the New Year’s Parade or Easter. I managed to keep the Parade alive in our home for a while after my daughter was born, but somehow, the tradition petered out (to my dismay) and the day became just like any other…well, we did do the noisy, nighttime celebrating of the new year by clanging pots and pans, then later with other manufactured noise makers…but nothing more.

I did add (revive?) a new tradition by making cornmeal mush every New Years morn as our breakfast. My mom’s dad introduced that to our family when I was very young. After he died, my dad continued the tradition of the yummy, steaming-hot creamy dish with Log Cabin syrup. The cornmeal mush has remained a tradition for special events—Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years mornings…even Easter morning…but my husband (from Minnesota) introduced us to real maple syrup and I’ve never been able to go back to the sugary stuff my dad introduced us to…never—even as the price creeps upward.

I’ve recently decided to renew this tradition–well, the breakfast and TV viewing of the Parade. No way am I going to fighting for a spot then sit along the route (my relatives don’t live in Pasadena any more), freeze my patootie off waiting for the parade to begin. So, I watch it from the comfort of my home, snuggled up with my critters on the couch after a piping hot bowl of cornmeal mush. Yay for traditions—old and new!

…And all of the delightful memories that are attached that warm my heart and soul.

Here’s hoping you are able to establish and maintain some memorable traditions for your family, to be passed down for generations to come…

Happy New Year, folks…may it be blessed with what you need…and maybe a little of what you want.

New Year’s Day 2015