Saturday, December 10, 2011


While searching through the stash of dyed fabric I ran across this piece that took my breath away! I created that? I don't think I've posted a photo of it before, but who knows! I seem to be having more senior moments than I care to remember. Anyway, the fabric I was searching for is MIA but it's something I hope to use to make strips so that I can play with the techniques in Rayna Gillman's newest book. Go to Amazon. It's a jewel of a book as is Rayna herself. She's going to teach in Italy next August so I'm hoping to win the lottery so that I can join her. If you don't know Rayna visit her here.

"Life finds its purpose and fulfillment in the expansion of happiness." Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


When life gives you lemons make lemonade, or in my case, Limoncello. The last of the lemons have been picked from the trees; this years crop surpassed last year by about 40. Here's the basic recipe I use with Stevia rather than sugar. Giada has one as well. I still have a small bottle from Sorrento, Italy that is stronger than the one I make. It's yummy on ice cream.

Gratitude, can we have enough of it? This is a beautifully done video.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


 Burlap adhered on a 16x20 inch canvas. Ready for Gesso and paint.
"You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It's just a matter of paying attention to this miracle."
--Paulo Coelho

Saturday, November 12, 2011


View from the morning desk. Rain splattered window. The desk used to be the sewing machine desk but after a year of not using the machines I moved them aside in order to be able to sit there and journal and meditate with my back to the computer desk. I know, poor me! My sanctuary bedroom is large enough for 2 large desks, a queen size bed, 2 dressers, a wide screen TV, 2 filing cabinets, a bookshelf, night-stand and a desk that was my mother's childhood desk. Oh, and 2 computer chairs.

Sometimes the bougainvillea presents me with a bouquet of blooms. At the moment this is the only color in the garden.  What a difference a little color makes. I love the raindrops on the window.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Happy Birthday to my youngest daughter, Corey, on this day full of 11's.
      Is there anything more magical than a sunset? Or a silhouette of a tree? And the combination is sublime as was the weather today; a nice crisp 70. There is a dusting of snow on the mountains which is always a spectacular surprise here in the desert.

Sunsets are so beautiful that they almost seem as if we were looking through the gates of Heaven.
John Lubbock 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

iPhone Madness continues

 The sky was dramatic a few nights ago, but a normal shot couldn't capture it; enter an iPhone app. I have no idea which one this is but it captured the mood of that evening. Photography, to me, is about capturing a mood.
Another mood shot. Spencer is now 12 years old and is constantly at my side. I imagine that he misses his sister. The lines on the patio make this photo more interesting than it otherwise would have been. A grunge filter and frame app. were used.

This shot is way too contrasty but it's a panorama consisting of 3 individual shots that were stitched together via a panorama app. The best time to get a photo of the yard without so much contrast is on anover-cast day or when the sun dips behind the mountains. (photosynth app.)

Friday, October 07, 2011

Fall in the desert.

Ah, finally, some cool temps! I kid you not, this is cool, so much so that if the lawns weren't being scalped for the annual planting of winter rye grass I'd have the windows and doors open. But the air is nasty; full of dust. I forgot that I have another blog where I just posted a few more iPhone photos. It's over here: I've neglected it for over a year so I'm surprised that it still exists.

Wise words: Inner Attitudes correspond to outer behavior. Watch em! Sally Husss

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

20,133 hits!

I'm very surprised. I haven't checked the counter in ages so when I discovered a few minutes ago that the counter said 20,133 . . . well, you could have knocked me over. Nice.

 Oh my! I've discovered iPhone camera apps. I used to fool around with a variety of films eons ago that would do similar effects. All of these photos were taken this evening just as the sun went down behind the mountains; low light conditions.
 This particular app. is Hipstamatic. Once that one is purchased there are a few other apps. that can purchased, all under the Hipstamatic app.
 Such as infrared, above, or monochrome, or maybe that one is free
 The one below is Kodot XGrizzled.
I've  had the iPhone for a few months and it continues to blow me away! Who knew that a phone could be so much fun?

For a class on how to use the iPhone camera go here: It's the Ishot That class.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Five Years!!!!

 I just realized that five years ago today we moved into a brand new never-lived-in house. It was 108 degrees that day and it's 100 today, even though it looks like winter; there is a cloud covering today with the threat of rain, or maybe, it's the promise of rain? The backyard, brick walled in, was planted in March of the following year, until then there was only desert soil. The palm tree is the neighbors; palms aren't allowed in my yard. The tree in the corner was shorter than the wall and is in need of drastic pruning. Every spring the winds knock it over and in May it nearly hit the pergola; the roots aren't strong enough yet for its height. The brick retaining wall, curved, gave the yard some character; it was just too flat, and areas for planting cactus. The cactus next to the pergola post has grown 7 feet in 2 years and the cactus at the base of the tall one wasn't even visible last December. Off to the right, just out of the photo, is a fountain. The pergola shades my bedroom window.
Ode to October. This is a difficult month for me; two years on the 17th my guy suffered two strokes and my life drastically changed. So, I've decided to celebrate the month of October rather than go down the road of grief again. Here's to loving October and the wonders of the month, and may this month shine bright and no longer be difficult.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me on Sept. 18

I have a difficult time believing that my daughters are now around  the same age I was in this picture, and that I'm now around the same age my mother was. Where did the last twenty years go? I often think that if I were offered a re-do I'd take it but then I remember the painful and challenging times and immediately let go of that thought; plus, maybe the future is more compelling.
      By now I think that everyone knows how much I love to alter photos; I do love a sketch effect.
   Yep, that's a perm; I hate fussing with my hair so a perm was the way to go. Now my hair is wavy so I still don't need to fuss with it.

In July a very dear online friend and I met in
person for the first time and on the first eventful
evening she took this photo of me. (Thanks Christina.)
Of course I had to manipulate it some. Anyway, during the day when she was in training sessions I wandered around my old stomping ground of Santa Ana and Laguna Beach. The highlight was spending an evening with Christina at the yearly Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach. The last time I'd been to the Sawdust Festival was over 30 years ago.
Stacy and I have been looking at photos of the furkids and this one especially amused us. They would often share the same cat bed or chair until one would edge the other one out of the space. I remember wondering when I took this photo if they'd had a spat, but they rarely had cat-fits. I wish I knew where Spencer thinks his sister is. He seems to just know and is okay about her passing; must be a lesson for us.

To quote Bryon Katie, here's to "living in harmony with the way things are," rather than believing that the best days have already happened. Let the Good Times Roll! And The Best is Yet to Come and you can quote me on that!

Friday, September 16, 2011

September storm

On Tuesday an epic record breaking storm broke up the monotony of temps around 110 degrees with endless days of sun. Can that get boring? You betcha! The drama of the storm was incredible and I enjoyed every bit of it from the moment it woke me up at 4am to 7pm when it was over. Sheets of rain, deafening thunder and bolts of lightning that struck at least 25 palm trees seemed to put us on notice; Mother Nature is having fun. At sunset the sky looked like it was on fire; no PSE needed for this photo.

The parched dusty desert looks sparkling and clean after the storm and it feels like the storm cleared cob webs out of my brain; a nice renewal all around. After months of living indoors it was cool enough yesterday to play in soil There is nothing more satisfying than doing something creative even if it involves pulling out overgrown plants and planting tiny ones that in this climate will grow like weeds.

Quote: Conversely, when an artist is making art, there is lightness to all other enterprises. Relationships sweeten. Temperaments unknot. It is uncanny, the simply joy of living that comes from putting in some time with our art. Julia Cameron, "The Sound of Paper."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

MizRiley 1999-2011

Brother and sister. August, 2011. I didn't know it at the time I took this photo that our sweet girl was leaving us. Spencer, on the right, seemed to know; he started  sleeping with his arm around her.
They arrived in our lives Christmas 1999, a gift from my daughter and son-in-law. It's hard to believe that she was ever as tiny as she was in the basket. She weighed 21 pounds on Aug. 23 when she spent two nights in the animal hospital. Fast growing cancer that went undiagnosed until she lost the ability to breathe on Sept 3rd. 

Our sweet girl. Oct. 1999  - Sept. 3, 2011

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Digital Play

 Dreaming of Rome, 2009.

Everything is fine on the home-front, though, I seem to have lost any enthusiasm for creating anything. I do enjoy playing around with photos and found a ton of them today when I did a back-up of files onto an external drive. The photos were safely stored on an external drive where they've resided for  over a year when a new PC was purchased. Moving them to the PC brought back a flood of memories. I've been playing with double images, something I did eons ago with film; much easier in PS.

 Almalfi, Italy, window with a tree photographed in Old Town, La Quinta, my home town here in the steaming hot desert. And below, a different version of the tree.
Maybe the lack of enthusiasm stems from - what in blazes does one do with all of the paintings, fabric, mixed media that one can crank out? The walls in the house aren't in need of anymore art and no one is begging for . . . well, you get the picture. So, to fill the need to create I've been trying vegan recipes, low fat, gluten free, comfort foods, a Mediterranean diet, dehydrating veggies, making a Cashew Spread (cheese) and in the midst of all of the food craziness I've realized that it's just a way to fill the days with something akin to a purpose. Surely, I'll tire of days spent searching online for recipes and diets . . . 

Quote: He paints like a man going over the top of a hill, singing. Robert Henri

Sunday, July 10, 2011


This is the abstract painting that I've been playing with in PSE, below posts. It can now be viewed along with my response about my style. Go here: Thanks Seth!

I'm off for a little get-away including meeting up with a friend! I'm so excited that I'm dancing! Mom and Stacy will stay with my youngest daughter and family while I check into a hotel. I haven't seen my grandsons in months so I'm looking forward to hugs and their smiling faces. Plus, we'll be leaving this land-of-brutal-heat for the cool temps near the Pacific Ocean. From 110 to the 70's or 80's, I'm so ready!

Quote: Life is best taken one day at a time, just the way it shows up. Sally Huss.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Digital Doodle

Another digital doodle using the abstract from the last post, a photo of grapes and another one of palm fronds; all very obvious, I'm sure.

This is one amazing woman whose parents deserve huge kudos!

The monsoonal conditions have been off of the charts! Storms to the south of us clashing with the high temps here in the desert aren't a good mix.

Quote: Since you are like no other being ever created since the beginning of time, you are incomparable. Brenda Ueland

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Playing with PSE is my way of doodling. The more I look at this result the more I want to tweak it by making the whites brighter, but for now I'll leave it alone. Using a photo of an abstract painting that I did last year I cropped a section of it and when the color was removed I started playing with filters and levels. It helps that the abstract painting is deeply textured.

This is not only fun to watch and listen to but inspiring. It's an old YouTube that is making the rounds again.

Not much new on the home front, just plugging along.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Outtake #2

This still life is another one that didn't make the cut for Seth's "Pulse." I love the wispy ethereal nest but so far the photos I've taken of it make the fragile nest look more like a blob, even with a marble egg in it. My neighbor found the nest on a lawn after one of the windstorms that recently blasted through the desert. She immediately thought of me when she couldn't figure out where it might have come from. It's rare when someone thinks that I might love something like a bird nest; I felt understood and that's such a marvelous feeling. The nest is definitely a treasure and even though it was never used as intended perhaps I can use it in my art.

I have difficulty enough creating art but this guy has created 100 different personalities and artwork to go with each one. check it out here.

For my dad, 1918-2000. Happy Father's Day.
 "If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right." -- Bill Cosby

"A father is a guy who has snapshots in his wallet where his money used to be."   Unknown

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Tomorrow is the deadline for submissions for Seth Apter's next "Pulse." And of course I'm no where near done with the my submission. This is a photo that I played with today while attempting to create a still life. I lean more toward found-art that I discover rather than setting up a scene. I did end up with something, completely different from this outtake, that I'm pleased with. In case you can't tell what this is, it's a brown egg placed on top of a weathered candlestick pillar.

I received an expected phone call yesterday, mom will be discharged on the 14th from the nursing home. She's run out of insurance; am I ready for this? The respite has been a blessing.

Sally Huss: Resolving to be happy resolves a multitude of unhappy circumstances.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

June, so far.

In case you haven't seen the latest youtube phenom:  Course, you'll be singing the song for the rest of the day, but it's worth it. Kudos to Grand Rapids for this 8+ minute video.

Quite a few cactus, or cacti (plural) are blooming. This one is at the top of a barrel cactus that sort of looks like a nest from the angle I photographed it.
 The grapes are daily ripening and if I don't bring in bunches of them, and if the birds don't feast on them, the grapes dry into delicious raisins; lower right in the photo. I found a recipe for a Grape Cake that I hope to try, if the birds leave me enough grapes.
And for fun I cut the long sleeves off an old denim shirt to about elbow length and then dipped the shirt into bleach. Viola! A new shirt to wear. I've considered using some fabric paint on the shirt, but what colors, coverage, design, etc? So for now I'll leave it alone unless someone offers a really good idea. Outside of Stacy going through the joys of a root canal June is okay, so far. I hope that everyone is having an exceptional June.

I'll end with this inspiring youtube piece.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


I haven't listened to news to find out what the wind speeds have been but they're strong enough to knock my favorite tree over, once again! The tree has be re-staked numerous times in the last few years and we thought we finally had it tethered to the ground with a guy wire but early this morning the wire came loose and the stakes were knocked over when the tree decided to take a break and lean against the brick wall. It's times like this that I wish there was another person in the house who would deal with calling the gardener . . .

Last week I photographed a dove perched on an exhaust pipe on the roof behind us. I think it's an exhaust pipe. Anyway, when I received a texture from Kim today I thought it might be the perfect one for a background. I've never used any of her free offerings before and now that I've used this one I'll be trying more of them. Go here for info:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Another Month Gone!

At 11am the temp was heading for 100 degrees for the second day. Where did May go? Four weeks ago today mom was moved from the hospital to a skilled nursing home; it's taken me three weeks to finally get to a a good place, one of well-being. I imagine she'll be coming home soon. The entire breast cancer/mastectomy episode has been fairly stress-free amazingly enough. Maybe it's because I refused to get emotional over it; it seems that when I become too emotional  over something that's when I run into trouble both mentally and physically. I couldn't do anything about what was going on with mom other than to see her through it and that's what I did.
A couple of weeks ago when I was doing my daily tour of the garden I was greeted by the "conductor of the garden." I had no idea that this tall fuzzy cactus bloomed. It sends shoots out from the side and then blooms.  Four babies are growing at the base of this tall stately cactus that was once planted in an arrangement that Roger brought home about 3 years ago. Every one of the plants has been removed from the low round pot and each of the specimens are now somewhere in the garden. Everything grows here with lightning speed.

Who knew that grape stems look like leaf-less trees? I've been collecting the stems for awhile now; instant trees! I haven't altered a photo in months so I thought it was time to see if I remembered how to play with photos. This one isn't too bad for someone whose skills have become very rusty.

Quote: Another winner from Sally Huss
"Find a time each day when nothing is required.
It makes the other times more effective."

Friday, April 29, 2011

More Challenges

A magnificent dove flew into the dining room window last week and before I buried it I honored the angel by photographing it. It's mate hasn't been seen since the  gorgeous bird died. I mourn the loss of the dove and the musical notes of cooing. I know that there are those who aren't fond of birds, but they've always been soothing to me. In high school during a difficult time a parakeet, JoJo, was my pal followed by JoJo2, a cockatiel. These two birds were the first ones that were allowed indoors. Previous to that the 40+ pigeons that lived in coops in the backyard were companions during years of physical pain. These days two 11-year-old furkids provide comfort. From birds to dogs to cats I have been blessed to have them at my side.

Last Tuesday, after a biopsy the week before, a surgeon gave my brother and I his recommendation. Mom needed a mastectomy rather than a lumpectomy. Shocked though we were we decided that the surgeon who had presented mom's case to other surgeons and a radiologist had given us the right decision. Wednesday, April 27th, was a very long day as Stacy and I waited during the surgery, that went well, and the extremely long wait for a room in the hospital. It seems that they couldn't figure out where to put a woman with Alzheimer's who had undergone a radical mastectomy. After four long hours the news came that on the 4th floor there was a nurse's assistant who could stay with mom.

Mom is doing well in part probably because she doesn't remember that she's had surgery. She'll go into a nursing home on Sat. until the drains are removed and maybe a little longer. I'm in great need of rest. I had another tooth extracted last week and even though it was a simple procedure it knocked the wind out of me.

All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles have strengthened me...You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you. Walt Disney 1901-1966

Friday, April 08, 2011



I've photographed the white cactus blooms numerous times over the years; they only bloom for one day. I may have finally nailed it this time. This glorious trio opened 3 days ago just before we were blasted by a windstorm.
 The rose photo says it all. The amazing thing about this rose is that it bloomed on the day Roger passed. March 24th, and is now dried in this perfect shape. It never completely opened up. Roger planted the rose bush 2 years ago.
Quote by Sally Huss: Life mirrors your feelings and intentions. It'll never let you down.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Breaking Rules

Breaking Rules. Back-lit photos are a no-no, but then I wouldn't have gotten this photo that seems to vibrate with light.

Quote: "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes"
- Marcel Proust

Monday, January 17, 2011


Happy belated New Year. Where have 16 days gone? After a lot of pondering I came to the conclusion that I didn't have a breakdown last November when I was ill enough to spend a couple of nights in the hospital; I had a breakthrough. Though, at the time it felt like I'd fallen into the deepest dark hole imaginable. I've been taking a personally designed sabbatical or what I'm referring to as Gail's Retreat 101. To that end I haven't been doing anything creative including reading favorite blogs, though, this morning I did stumble upon this blog.  So,  Gail's Retreat 101 involves inner work, deep and heavy, and much needed. My days are finally feeling pretty darn good which is a miracle in itself. After a long year of grief and despair to finally find joy again without it feeling fake is the goal for 2011. My word for the year is Possibilities, apropos to the collection of quotes I collected for my book. (I have 3 copies available for a lower price than Blub offers, if anyone is interested.)
I find it difficult to not create, but when I work with fabric or paint that's where my energy goes. So, after I put away the fabric and paints I didn't have a clue what to do to fulfill the need to create. During the 6 week long recovery from the hospital stint I started watching cookingchanneltv and got re-hooked on cooking shows. I love to cook. So, every couple of days I try out a  new recipe; better than going out and trying a different restaurant. Organizing the recipes in a spiral bound journal has been somewhat creative.

And then there is always the garden. I took the camera outdoors last week, don't hate me but the temps have been in the 70's to 80 today, and shot some photos  using the macro lens. The top photo of a spider web cactus was revelation to me; I hadn't noticed that the 3-4 inch tall plant was blooming. The tall skinny cactus had hit the roof of the patio and needed to be moved. What a chore that turned out to be. I knew that I couldn't possibly remove it from the pot and expect it to survive so I dug a hole to the middle of the earth and sunk the put into the ground. The pot will eventually crumble apart. The cactus grew 6 feet last year so I'm wondering how tall it will get this year. It has a tiny sprout growing from the bottom that is exciting.

That's it in a nutshell. I'll be back eventually. Take care until then.