Category Archives: My Salida Backyard

The Angel & the Grinch



Today is the summer solstice – the first official day of summer.

After a cooler May, I’d say summer is here; most of June so far has been hot-hot-hot and dry. I know this not only from feeling the temperatures, but from watching the mountains change.

I love how the Angel of Shavano and her partner the Grinch illustrate this on Mt Shavano, one of the 14,000 + ft peaks in the Sawatch range. I’ve drawn a ragged line around these snow features in the top image (from June 8 when they were about at their prime), so hopefully you can see how the snow has changed them in the past few weeks.


Mt Shavano, May 30 2016

Everyday I see her from a bit different perspective as I go about my day in the valley where I live. On May 30 my husband and I took a hike to “the Crater” in the Arkansas Hills. It was a stormy cool day and the snow had just barely begun to melt.

Mt Shavano June 8, 2016

Mt Shavano June 8, 2016

Here they are on June 8 during an early morning jaunt on the close-in trails just above town – the grinch is peering into the angel’s armpit with his grinchy grin.


Mt Shavano June 14, 2016

On June 14, from Franz Lake just outside of town, I noticed that the angel’s one arm had become detached…and the grinch’s mouth was becoming part of his eye.

Mt Shavano June 15, 2016

Mt Shavano June 15, 2016

The next day, from up on a mesa outside of town that arm was even more melted.

[You can click on any of the double images above for a larger view of the images.]

Mt Shavano June 20, 2016

Mt Shavano June 20, 2016

and today…on the solstice both the angel and the grinch are really no longer recognizable. They have melted into the mountain for the summer.

And time continues to march on.

12Apr2012AngelAlthough I have not kept exact records of the comings and goings of the angel & the grinch, each season I love to watch them come and go. The angel makes appearances in the winter only to put on her winter blanket again. During one of our worst drought years she was almost gone by the end of April (image to the left is from April 2012).

Nature is a wonderful storyteller for what is happening in our world – whether it is watching the snow accumulate and melt from the mountains, the tides of the ocean ebb & flow, or just watching the light in the day change as the season changes.

What are the cycles in nature you enjoy watching? Or if you haven’t done so in the past, what might you watch to help you feel the passage of time?

I’d love to hear how nature tells you stories.




ExploreColored_smP.S. I’ll be taking a little storytelling break over the summer as I go on some exploring adventures with my husband. Check out my illustration to the right to see some of the places I’ll be visiting!

If you want to illustrate some of your explorations I invite you to join my mermaid community and get your musings adventure ebook! You’ll also receive my monthly mermaid tales, and in July while I’m away I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite coloring play sheets again – including the one on the right. Click here to check out all of the details and sign-up.

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Filed under My Salida Backyard, Nature, Outdoor Adventure

Water is a Precious Resource


The March theme for the Journey Within Art Journaling class I’m participating in (and teaching in later) this year was nature and natural living. For the spread I created above I took inspiration from Cindy Gilstrap of Junque Art’s lesson about taking cues from nature around you.

Of course this is not too hard for me – because I live in the Rocky Mountains surrounded by natural beauty. But in March the mountains are still covered in snow and there is not much color popping up from the ground yet, or budding from the trees.

LowPlayholeImage_500I was thinking about Cindy’s lesson as I was taking one of my daily mid-day pedals along the river…I thought “I want to take inspiration from the water that flows through the valley.”

I stopped to stand by the playhole to soak in the sounds and the site of the river flowing through town. And I snapped this photo to the left.

I didn’t immediately do anything with this, and a little later in the month my hubby and I were hiking up Cottonwood Canyon and I was in awe of the water still flowing there (until late last spring this canyon had always been, for the most part, dry).

CottonwoodIceCrystals_500The patterns in ice crystals that had formed along the now small creek caught my eye. I became intrigued by the thought of playing with the these patterns, and so I took a photo with that in mind.


Some days later I began to play with paint & pencils & stencils & stamps.


RiverPlayholeDetail_500As I was doing this I was thinking about how important water is in our lives – and how precious it is.

This reminded me of a poem I had written and calligraphed many years ago – after returning from travels where potable water was not readily available and there was a severe drought (and wildfires) beginning to take hold in Colorado.


I wrote the poem, in white, in the top left corner of the spread, but did not like how it looked.

Especially after watching Cindy’s lesson videos, I knew this was OK – she had encouraged us to use my intuition and that nothing is a mistake because with mixed media it can always be covered over with more layers.

This is exactly what I did – knowing that it was still part of the spread! I did add the first line of the poem back onto the spread, too.

I’ve written out the text of my short poem below.


water is a precious resource.

drink it to hydrate, or perish.

appreciate it, for everywhere it is not so easily accessible.

bathe in it, warm water soothes your muscles and your soul.

conserve it, otherwise soon you will not have it.

I love living so close to the beautiful Arkansas River.  I really do try to visit the river’s edge each day – if only to pedal along the path through town and back home again.

I feel truly fortunate to live where drinking water is good coming from my kitchen sink, and that without much thought I can stand under warm, soothing water in my shower.

I know I am not perfect about conserving water, but I always try to keep in mind that my easy access to water is a luxury really and I am fortunate to have such ready access to this life sustaining resource. I hope this musing will inspire you to feel the same.

Thank you dear Cindy for providing the inspiration for my journal spread, and this reminder about water – that flowed through me as I created.





P.S. If The Journey Within – A Year of Handmade Journals sounds intriguing, it’s not too late to join in the fun!! Click here to learn more. (full disclosure — this is an affiliate link:)


Here’s a little sneak peak about my new offering – coming later this spring.


The Musings Adventure Journal is a new undated version of the Daily Musings Journal! Stay tuned for more details coming soon – Sign-up here!

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Filed under Book Binding, Creative Play, Creativity, Inspiration, Journaling, mixed media, My Salida Backyard, Nature, Playing

Happy Spring!


Where I live in the Rocky Mountains spring does not arrive with an abundance of color. The signs of spring are much more subtle here at 7,000 feet – like the tiny dot of brilliant gold from the one lonely crocus in my front yard.

Although some yards have many colorful crocuses, the real signs of spring are more like

warm big blue days on the slopes where the snow is till abundant (fortunately)…


temperatures warm enough to stop and create ephemeral art while out on a hike…


beautiful ice crystal patterns along Cottonwood…


the sun not dipping behind the 14,000 + ft peaks until nearly 7:30 pm…


And if we’re lucky a spring blizzard that dumps a few more feet of snow in the mountains before the real melting begins…

A strong spring run-off is vitally important to feed the rivers and farmlands and to help to keep the dust at bay (at least for a little while).
And it is then that the leaves will begin to bud and the flowers will begin to unfurl their color, in earnest, in my Rocky Mountain valley.

How does spring unfurl where you live? I’d love to hear about it!

Wishing you the happiest of springs!





P.S. Unfurl is the word that I will be using as I create the color-in play sheet for the April Mermaid Tales ezine. I’d love to have you join me there. Click here to learn more and sign-up.

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Filed under Creativity, Everyday Adventure, Friends, Joy, My Salida Backyard, Nature, Playing, Playing at Altitude

Panorama Play — a photo essay


As we finished dinner the clouds in the western sky began to turn pinkish orange. It was a gorgeous evening. This was in late September and it was one of our last evenings eating dinner outside on our deck.

I wanted to capture the whole sky! And the the panorama feature of the iPhone camera let’s you do just that. It’s really not quite the same as being there, but playing with the camera is a fun part of the magic moment, too.

You’d really lose the affect sharing these panoramas on Instagram…so I thought I’d share a few of my favs from the past few months here.


Looking out, above Independence Pass at about 13,000 feet – late August 2015



Fall colors along Little Cochetopa Creek Trail – late September 2015
Photo taken by my hubby — can you see me in the image? Twice!
This is another fun and silly way to play with the panorama feature on an iPhone!!


Snacking and taking in the view along the Cottonwood Trail – late October 2015
Another photo taken by my hubby:)


Scouting our perspective labyrinth site above town (a Salida Parks & Rec project I’m working on) – late October 2015
What a magical spot for a labyrinth! Fingers crossed we can make this happen!


Pedaling along the Rainbow Trail – another late October day (Halloween Day actually:)

Yes – these spots are all basically in my backyard. Stunning, yes?!
The mountains are my everyday view, and I feel so blessed each day when I look out upon them.

It was grey and rain-snowy the day I began this post, and the peaks have been moving in and out of clouds the past few days. But I can feel them watching over me as they begin to get their winter coat on.

What are your everyday views, and how can you find the beauty in these views – no matter where you live?





P.S. Panorama images best viewed on a computer versus a tiny device. To get an even better view click on each image to see them full size.

MiniMusingsAdvComingSoon_500wP.S.S. A mini musings adventure is coming soon. This five day blog series about my perfectly imperfect Daily Musings Journal practice will include fun tips & techniques, tools for the adventure and a chance for you to win a 2016 Daily Musings Journal. Mark you calendar – it begins November 16.


Filed under Creativity, Everyday Adventure, My Salida Backyard, Nature, Outdoor Adventure, Playing, Playing at Altitude

A Pretty Picture

doesn’t always share the story…

of driving across the valley and up a dirt road to reach this high spot with a perfect view.

of wandering around the field amongst the grasses and cactus as the day waned.

of munching on sandwiches & garden carrots & chips on the floor of the van

of quiet conversation between husband and wife

of anticipation of the rising

of the rise – with naked eyes and through binoculars – of the super harvest moon

of watching that moon move into full eclipse

of breathing in and out

of winding back down the dirt road and across the valley as the moon grew dark and orangish

Our world is full of so many beautiful wonders!
What a extra-ordinary treat it was to experience this natural phenomena.
It was a beauty.

And, as Jamie Ridler asks for this full moon, what dream did I want to bring to fruition? Today I said a big yes to Chris Zydel’s next Wild Heart Expressive Arts Teacher Training Program. Dream come true!

And today the 2016 Daily Musings Journals arrived from the printer! Another dream come true!
You can check out the details for purchasing here. Pssst…if you’re on my mermaid tales list you’ll be receiving an early order discount code on Thursday. Sign-up here.

draw hop 2 day 5 graphic

The last bit of news I’m excited to share – I’m participating in Kelly Johnson’s (Wings, Worms & Wonder) Draw Yourself Back to Nature Blog Hop. She is a super creative nature journaler. See Kelly sparkle as she explains the details on her blog here!

I’d love to see you back here on Friday, October 9 when I’ll be sharing some fun doodling back to nature.

Until then…enjoy some extra-ordinary, ordinary wonders of our beautiful world!





Filed under Creative Play, Creativity, Daily Musings Journal, Entrepreneurship, Everyday Adventure, Inspiration, Journaling, Joy, My Salida Backyard, Nature