A Dry October Photo Walk

#Lens Artist – Amy, takes us on a photo walk as Challenge # 117. This week, and Terri with Sunday Stills makes it a dry one. Since we live in a semi-desert area, dry pictures abound. #Tanka Tuesday sweetens the challenge because it’s poet’s choice of theme and type of poem. So here goes, I’m going to combine all of the above along with Cee’s Flower of the Day and Becky B’s October Kinda Squares

My sister-in-law and her pets live with us now. Today we took our two dogs for a mile-long walk through the Woodlake Rose Garden. I was on a quest for pictures of dry beauty like a well-aged red wine.

For once, I couldn’t take pictures to make my Kiwanis group proud. Last weekend Kiwanis recruited 37 volunteers, students and adults who spread mulch to hold in the precious moisture.

Once we got past the Kiwanis section, which could be likened to garden of sweet white wine, I didn’t have to look far.

#Haiku 2/3/2

The garden sprinkling system fails consistently but the thirsty roses get some water. No one except Chuck House brings a hose and cleans them off. I wonder what would happen if all 7,000 Woodlakers came out to work in the garden for a couple of hours this fall?

Spiders are in heaven making silky webs to trap the dust and ashes in the air. The little bug on the rose can hide out almost anywhere in the garden except where he is. Does anyone recognized him?

Roses need deadheading constantly in the summer to keep them blooming beautifully. Due to COVID, we did not have the help this summer that we usually get from the students, and the Master Gardeners were not able to come until just recently. So you will see Zombie Roses on this walk.

Dilapidated, dusty
Throw-away roses
"Wait," shouted the grasshoppers.
"Look at this elegant weave
Spiders created."
#Tanka 5/7/5/7/7

The garden could be the Secret Garden before it was rediscovered. The potential of beauty is there, covered with what looks like years of neglect. In reality, it’s only a few weeks. On the cobweb blanket, you can see the ashes from the forest fires.

This rose has company that puts it to shame. The beauty of the morning glory is deceptive. It chokes out its competition, the rose and takes over if left unchecked.


Crumpled petals
#Haiku 2/3/2

Some of the plants are not as loved as the roses. My great-grandmother used to make persimmon cookies. I do not think she would be happy to see this dry tree.

Some areas of the garden have still not been adopted by organizations. In those area anything goes. In this case, the rose is surrounded, not only by thorns, but by weeds.

Lost in a weed patch
Propagating constantly
Drowning in ashes
#Haiku 5/7/5

Once in a while, you have to look up. The trees tell the long time story. Those blobs are cobwebs and debris.

After the garden walk, Cindy and Flo went home, Kalev and I drove home the back way on Sentinel Butte Road looking for more dry pictures. We weren’t disappointed. You can see the dusty, smoke-hazed, 157-AQI-sky. You can barely make out Colvin Mountain in the background.

It struck me that Woodlake is the perfect example of “the haves and have nots” when it comes to water. Wherever there is water, even just a speck, you see green life blooming. Otherwise you see brown deterioration.

Life-giving water
Sucked dry by super hot skies
Humans tricked the fruit 
Giving them a plastic teat
Yielding oranges once more.
#Tanka 5/7/5/7/7

I read this quote on Sylvia Bacon’s website,

“Beauty can be seen in all things; seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph”

Matt Hardy

The weed and dead limbs contrasted to attract my attention.

As I drove around the corner, the hillside on the left marked the end of the dry land and the beginning of irrigated groves of orange trees.

I hope I achieved my goal of seeing and composing the beauty in this dry photo walk.

These images are inspired and submitted for the following blog challenges:

Don’t Forget to Head Over to See Kerry


Plucky, Hard-working Fences in the Backbone of America

No privacy here, but these fences work hard keeping your food from getting away. Where’s the beef? Right here near Woodlake, CA, behind these simple, durable fences.

Central CA agriculture fences100
leaning fences

Central CA agriculture fences101
a fenced in fence


Decorated fence
Decorated fence

horse fence
horse fence

fancy horse fence
fancy horse fence

prickly fence
prickly fence

Central CA agriculture fences109
antiques road show

fence on wheels
fence on wheels

rough fence
rough fence

For a peek into the history of fences, click here.

Check out more fences here.

Don’t Read Sad Books, Then Talk On The Phone

The Fault in Our Stars residing in my Kindle is Laurie’s fault.

LaurieShe read it and posted on Facebook how good it was.  When my friend Laurie says anything, I listen because she is smart and fun.  I immediately ordered the book on Amazon, and put it aside to read when I finished reading the boring book, Underworld a Novel.

The boringness of Underworld overwhelmed me on  Saturday. Then thought hit me that the day was too beautiful, and life is too short to EVER be bored.

The back yard 1

Saturday was one of those rare, partly cloudy, 85-90 degree, days in central California.  Vince and I sat by the pool and visited. When we ran out of words, I opened The Fault in Our Stars; he snuck off to take a picture.  The little blob by the pool slouched in the rocking chair with her legs spread apart like Grandma Morris, in her not-long-enough giant-flowered dresses exposing nylons that came up mid-thigh, is me.  In my defense I am wearing a bathing suit, so my thighs should be exposed.

Indianapolis street
I am driving up a street near our former home in Indianapolis, IN.

I’m laughing out loud at the audacity of this sixteen year old Hoosier (in the book).  I am a Hoosier (from Indiana), and it was great reading about a kid that attended my high school, North Central, and drove badly on streets near my home.  These three protagonist children all have cancer, but one of them is hot, hot, hot, according to the girl, Hazel.

Who names their kids Hazel?  Grandma Morris had a sister,  Great-Aunt Hazel, but really, does this author, John Green, know me or something?  It’s so Hoosier.

Can you find Grandma Morris? Aunt Hazel is probably there, too.

In the book Hazel, age 16, has terminal cancer, and Augustus, the hot one, is cancer free after a leg amputation.  They meet in a cancer support group led by an old guy (probably 21 or so) who is cancer free after losing his testicles, which he talks about at every meeting.  The story bounces around from hilarious to sad, and I had just finished a particularly sad page when Melissa called. Melissa rarely calls me.

“You’ve got to call(a nameless friend of ours),” she orders.   “Her brother and sister-in-law are both expected to die within a few hours, and I can’t reach mom so she can call.  Could you please call her?”

My gut says, “This is not a good idea, Marsha Lee.  You’re crying, two people are dying, and you’re supposed to… say what?”

I’m the emotional one.  Melissa’s mom is the one who gets us out of our funk. I dial my friend’s number from memory.  She is not there.  I have to look up her cell phone.  She answers after a few rings.

“Where are you?” I ask, not knowing what to say, tears lurking in my voice.

“I’m in Utah.”

“Who are you with?”

This is the most eloquent thing I could think of to say at this point.  I’m off base because I know this “secret” about her brother and sister-in-law, but I don’t know if she is in on it.  Tears well up in my throat. I can’t think, let alone talk.  I wish I had listened to my gut.

“A couple of ladies from church.”

I’m at a complete loss.  Does she or doesn’t she know? She doesn’t give me any clues. By this point in the conversation, the pent-up tears wailed out a little.  It turned out that she knew.

“I’ll call you when I get back in ten days, and we can go to lunch,” she cut me short after I stumbled around some more.

“OK,” I replied and hung up.  I never felt dumber and more useless.

Moral:  When tears are in your eyes, wait to call.

Oh, and you’ve got to read The Fault in Our Stars.  It’s amazing.

Tuesday: Review: Paula Deen Scandal

What a sizzling topic this is in my neck of the woods, Conservative Central California.  I have never watched a Paula Deen show, nor am much of a cook, but I must be a party of one in my neighborhood.  No matter where I go, the folks in my area discuss the Paula Deen Scandal at every social gathering.


Since I couldn’t sleep tonight I decided to surf the net for free and learn what all the brouhaha is.  Huffington Post has many articles about this delectable disgrace, including a slide show with videos that have shown on various TV shows.  I also used Twitter to  check out what is being said about her.  It seems like we have the Civil War ready to break out in financial support of removal of support for Paula Deen, who admitted to using racial slurs 30 years ago (when it was so acceptable?) 2013 – 30 = 1983.  hmmm 1983 – 20 = 1963  This year at our CCSS Conference we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 50 year March in Birmingham, part of the nation’s Civil Rights Movement.  I doubt that even 20 years after the March that issues of civil rights were thoroughly settled in Paula Deen’s state of Georgia.


The folks that live around me are upset because the racial slurs took place 30 years ago and she is being held accountable for them.  I will admit that 30 years is a very long time.  Many people were not born 30 years ago.  Paula Deen was not one of them.  Thirty years ago Paula Deen was not as famous as she is now.  She could freely say almost anything she wanted to in a private setting with immunity, as most of us do.  Let’s do a little more math.  66 years – 30 years = 36 years old.  Paula Deen was not a child when she used racial slurs privately or publicly.  To most children at that time, she would have been considered an old woman.  My fourth graders asked me if I was old when I was 38 because I was always “forgetting everything.”  They sometimes accidentally called me “Grandma,” when I was student teaching at age 35.  My point is that even though she admitted using racial slurs 30 years ago, she would not have been exonerated as a minor.  She used them in a still volatile time, but she was not famous.

Matt Lauer pointed out that this entire affair was important because of the financial implications, and that is where the battle rages.

Stores removing Paula Deen from their shelves has at least a two-fold effect.  1)  If you dislike what she admitted to saying, you probably say, “Good for them.  That’s what she gets.”  Jessica Williams did a comedy routine on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart that I enjoyed.

2)  If you think it is silly for Paula Deen to be held accountable for something she said 30 years ago in private, you probably say, “I’m going to quit going there (for a while – until the next sale – or this scandal blows over).  I think I’ll go buy one of Paula Deen’s book.  That will show them.”

Paula Deen Signs Copies Of Her New Book "Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible"


I’m not even going to ask your stand in this issue.  You are welcome to leave a comment.  I’m not sure even how I feel about it, for several reasons, and I’ll tell you those.

  1. I am white.  I do not KNOW or UNDERSTAND how it feels to be racially discriminated against as an African-American person.
  2. I am 61 years old.  That is just five years younger than Paula Deen, and in the 60s, five years made a lot of difference, in the 80s – no difference.  We are Baby Boomers.  Our parents/grandparents were the prejudiced ones.  Right?
  3. I have said and done bad things in the past – some not nearly so long ago as 30 years which, to me, are much worse than what Paula Deen did.
  4. I grew up in Indiana.  Until not too very long ago I blamed South for “practicing slavery.”  I was proud that my ancestors fought on the “right” side of the Civil War.
  5. During my Civil War tour JUST two years ago, and during subsequent reading and study, I learned how the North profited from slavery just as much as the South by processing the cotton, by creating financial institutions controlled much of the money earned by Southern slave owners, and in many other ways were guilty of directly or indirectly perpetuating the institution of slavery.
  6. As a child, I heard my father and grandfather use the N word in private.
  7. I remember being with my grandparents when the newscaster on the radio announced the passage of the laws for school desegregation.  My normally calm, easy-going Grandpa was furious.  I was upset that he was so mad because I loved Grandpa more than just about anyone in the world.  Since I hadn’t heard anything on the radio which seemed so upsetting, I asked him why it made him so mad..  He explained that when I was seven, we had moved to a “good” school district so that my brother and I could have the best education possible, and now that was being undone by these “unfair” laws.  I felt disquieted about how my idol had reacted to the news.
  8. I remember when I was about 9, several of the neighbors on my street purchased the house on the corner so that an African-American family would not move there.  At the time I remember thinking, “I’m glad my parents didn’t take part in  that!”
  9. My mother and Grandfather were heavy, and had heart problems.  I never want to become obese even though I love sweets.  That means that cooking eating Paula Deen style may be tasty, but I don’t want to practice it.  My best friend’s daughter used to cook dinners for us.  She LOVED Paula Deen’s recipes.   I gained 25 pounds while we had the best dinners of my life.  I had to take some serious weight loss medication to lose it, and I will never let myself reach that weight again.

I haven’t said much when my friends and neighbors pontificate about Paula Deen’s situation.  I would hate to be in her shoes.  If I were famous, I’m sure that enough dirt could be unearthed about me to put me on the hot seat, and I would hate that.  I think I’ll stay under the radar.  I also think Paula Deen may suffer huge losses in future income, but she is 66 years old, and if she retired tomorrow, I don’t think her world would end.  A lot of income for a lot of people who work for her would permanently evaporate, though.  So the question is, will the Paula Deen Empire crash.  I think Paula will survive whether or not her business survives.    She has a tremendous support system.  I suspect that her corporation will also survive, but it will definitely change.  Right now it is hemorrhaging.  During triage tourniquets, and stitches will hold things together until she can rebuild.  She will suffer heavy consequences, but my guess is that she and her business will survive this hailstorm.

Bigger questions loom in my mind.   Will we Americans learn our lesson?  Will we continue to polarize ourselves, jump on bandwagons, and react like mobs?  Will there still be racial enmity in the United States?  I think Paula Deen will be just fine.  I’m not so sure about the rest of us.

Here are some articles I REVIEWED to write this editorial piece.

Ubiquitous Valley Oak

Every valley should have a stately valley oak watching over its fields by day – and night.

Valley Oak stands guard over grassy field where happy cows live.
Valley Oak stands guard over grassy field where happy cows live.


In 1852 when Tulare County became a county of California, this oak tree might have been just a sprout.  More likely, though, is that it is no more than 80-100 years old.  Valley Oaks are common in our area.  We have schools with that name, baseball teams have carried the name proudly, as have these lovely trees.

My iphotos ticker thingy at the top of the screen says,  “11,432 items”.  I can’t believe I have taken that many pictures just since I started blogging.  I picked 82 pictures that I liked best, then V helped me, and we picked out 32 of the best pictures to have prints made to try to sell.  This was one of the 32 that we chose.  I uploaded it to Fine Art America which Eunice, better known as Nutsfortreasure, introduced me to.  I uploaded 5 of those to Fine Art America if you would like to see them.

From those 32 we had to narrow it down to 4 in order to join a Miller Studio which is having a 1 cent sale.  You have to send photos before they give you a sign in code.  Then they send you 4 free prints.  I thought that seemed like a pretty good deal.

I found out that photographers not only need to know about the art of choosing interesting content, holding the camera at the most appealing angle, doing the right things mechanically, watching the lighting, processing the photo with many options in software, saving to any number of formats, but now I find out that photographers need to understand about the best paper to print their pictures.  Then there are numerous ways of marketing and advertising – or not advertising in order to sell a print.  I would starve if I had to make a living through selling photography!!!  But it’s an interesting experiment on top of my other retirement experiments.

My hat is off even more to real photographers like Leanne Cole who is really is a photographer.  She has started a new blog, and is writing a newsletter and is selling her work online now.  Many of my friends are already her friends.  But whether you are now, or you will be, I would encourage you to go over to her place and order a picture or two, or order her newsletter.  Being a professional photographer is hard work in this era of digital cameras.  People like Sunday Photographer me suddenly think we (I) can (have the innate ability) take (high quality) pictures because we (I) can delete pictures that don’t deserve the megabytes it takes to store them.

I hope your week has gone well, while I have been on my staycation.  My first post back was going to be a book review of Dianne Gray’s wonderful book, The Eleventh Question, but it has made me think so much, I’m still mulling and ruminating.  So sometime soon, that WILL be my NEXT post.  I just couldn’t wait to write to all of you again since I got so much other work done.  You are my reward for working hard.

How do you reward yourself when you’ve accomplished some major tasks?