Thursday, February 11, 2016

Four Years of Mood, Magic and Mystery

It has gestating for months, it has been under construction for many more months and it has been re-edited for yet another month or so, but finally it has arrived!

I have rounded up the most meaningful images I have acquired over the fours years hiking, playing and simply enjoying the times I have spent in the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve and it's adjoining Covington Park.  This oasis with it's velvet green soothing interior echoing the songs of dozens of birds who flit around in the cooling shade is  relatively unknown to the thousands of tourists who pass daily, literally within a quarter of a mile of it's gates, on their way to the much more famous Joshua Tree National Park.

The oasis has more to offer than the serene green canopy and gently flowing water.  Within 5 minutes of walking the shade gives way to rugged barren hillsides with brittle sharp desert foliage, rocky trails and brilliant desert sun.  Hiking trails lead up above the oasis and where the view takes in Mt San Gorgonio, Mt San Jacinto and the Morongo Basin.

This 50 page coffee table book of mostly photos, but a little text here and there, is a gift to myself.  Something I can revisit whenever the peaceful core of my soul gets a little turbulent and I am craving the serenity of the oasis.  I showed the finished book to a couple of friends and the orders have started coming in.  I knew I wasn't the only one who loves the Preserve but, even so, I am startled and thrilled by the interest shown in my book.  I've had several more printed and am being encouraged to do a book signing at the Art Colony of Morongo Valley's 52nd Anniversary this weekend.  I am donating a portion of the proceeds back to the Preserve.

It can also be purchased at the Cactus Mart, in Morongo Valley.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Passion and the Monkey

"Follow your passion", I've heard it said. "Do what you love and the money will come", is another.  Or perhaps my favorite: "If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours", as claimed by Thoreau.  These are all motivators with a solid strain of wisdom in them and when followed I am sure they work.

But for me there is always the fear, or a least lack of confidence, that my work I'm passionate about wouldn't quite be 'good enough'  to hold its own.  It was deemed much 'safer' to put in a good solid, oh so mundane, day's work for someone else and receive a modest but regular stipend.  The dreams and passions could wait for the weekend warrior.

Then there is always the "jump before you are pushed" motivator for those who need a little more incentive.

Well, I am now mid jump.  My current job is phasing out forcing me to be more engaged in what my passions are and how I can create a new life for myself.  My passions have always been consistent: I love taking photos and I love writing. I have to ask myself just who are the 'they' who are judging my writing or photography as not quite good enough?  Could it simply be my own inner critic?  That annoying monkey mind determined to keep me firmly entrenched in it's perceived 'safety zone'?

I have reached the point where Thoreau's advice is becoming more attractive by the day. It is time to advance confidently in the direction of my dreams.  I am quite sure that being confident and committed to my decision is the key to success.  In view of these current insights I have completed several online refresher writing courses on Udemy, and I am writing the monthly newletter for a local business, the Cactus Mart, who is also gracious enough to display my photography.

It is time.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Cutting Edge of History

The Desert Queen Ranch, aka Key's Ranch, Joshua Tree National Park

I've been doing quite a lot of research lately on the early history of my area. 

I love history. When Nicole, the owner of the Cactus Mart, our local plant nursery, cum art gallery, cum hardware store asked me if I wanted to write a couple of paragraphs on our local history for her shop newsletter each month I jumped at the chance.

As I was delving through any old literature I could find on the area it occurred to me that while I was fascinated with the past, with the struggles these early miners, prospectors and settlers dealt with,  they were actually on the cutting edge of progress!  They were on their game.  They had hopes and dreams of striking it rich with their mines and being able to create lives for themselves and their families far better than what they had left behind. 

In this area, close to Joshua Tree National Park, the heat is intense during the summers, flash floods occur without warning any time and natural water sources are few and far between.  It's a tough place to live without air conditioning, a good well, and trucks constantly delivering food to the local stores and restaurants.

The windmill and the well at the Desert Queen Ranch -very innovative for the time

As I glance around my comfortable home, my new lap top in front of me and a cup of freshly brewed coffee at hand there is no inner drive in me to conquer new horizons.  I very much doubt I will be mentioned in future history books as a pioneer in my field (though it could happen I suppose).

I am their future looking back into the past; they are the past with their eyes on the future. I think their lives may just be a little more exciting than mine.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

It IS What You Look at that Counts

Recently I saw the beginnings of what could turn out to be a fabulous sunset. I scooped up my camera and bolted outside in anticipation.  I took a few shots as the intensity of the colors increased but this sunset was over fairly quickly so I retired back inside to look at my images.

Interesting. All these pictures were taken within minutes of each other, and they certainly aren't the greatest pictures I've ever taken, but the message is there just the same: I could put my attention on the fabulous sunset ...

Or I could be drawn in by the distractions, in this case very pretty distractions, and miss my sunset....

However, another option would be just to focus on the light beyond the distractions.

That was just the reminder I needed.  A great metaphor for life for me.  If I keep my eyes on the goal, and not look at the distractions I will have success in my endeavors.

Now this is the way I want to start my new year.