Hope yours is gearing up to be a happy Valentine's Day.


Sunset in Joshua Tree National Park

Organ Pipe Cactus
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument 

The temperature here fell into the single digits last night.  The groundhog may be right about six more weeks of Winter.  Let me warm you up a bit with a reminiscence of a desert trip my husband and I took in December.
Two weeks before Christmas we visited three parks in the Southwest. First up was Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument on the Arizona border.  We were required to pass through five security checkpoints while visiting but it was worth the extra scrutiny.  While in Ajo, Arizona, we tried to visit Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, a favorite of Edward Abby and his final resting place, but it wasn't to be.  We will be going back. 

Joshua Tree Yucca
Joshua Tree National Park
Not afraid of a road trip, we drove to Joshua Tree National Park in California with a stop to check out the Salton Sea. While visiting the park we stayed at the Harmony Hotel made famous by U2 when it was featured on their album, Joshua Tree
Midweek we made our way to Death Valley National ParkBadwater Basin is the lowest point in North America, with a depth of 282 ft. below sea level. However, this large park offers much more. Crowds and temperatures were low for this popular destination.  Hiking was not a problem in the 70 degree temperatures.  We were also lucky that a meteor shower coincided with our visit and was on full display.                                                 
Every park was unique and offered surprises. We just scratched the surface of what they have to offer. America is beautiful. Get out and see it if you can.
Harmony Hotel sign, Twentynine Palms, CA
Bombay Beach, Salton Sea
Badwater Basin, Death Valley NP
Artist's Palette on Artist's Drive, Death Valley NP
Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley NP
Mosaic Canyon Hike, Death Valley NP
Rhyolite, NV  Ghost Town
Rhyolite, NV Cemetery
Beatty, NV Tire Shop We required their help.


2017 holiday card with original image by Anne Mitchell

2017 has been the year of the owl around our house so I felt compelled to include one on our holiday card.  A barred owl has become a frequent nighttime visitor and, yes, it is barred owl, not a barn owl.  The similar sounding names are often confused. There are more than 225 owl species in the world, divided into two families.  Barred owls belong to the family Strigidae and the barn owl to the family Tytonidae.  The differences between the two owls include shape, size and coloring, the calls they make, the way they hunt and their habitats.  If you hear “who-cooks-for-you,” then you are hearing the call of the barred owl.  Lucky you.

The holiday season is upon us.  I wish you and yours much joy.  Fly high.

Image detail


Pumpkin Carving by Anne Mitchell. All images are copyrighted.
Do you have your pumpkin yet?  I have three.  It is daunting to think of carving three pumpkins but the opportunity is there.  We'll see. 

This autumn has been a warm one so we have taken advantage and explored small river towns in Missouri and Illinois.  No spectacular fall colors this year but new wineries, pop-up car shows and apple cider slushes have been enjoyed. When the right farm-fresh pumpkin presented itself, and fit on our bike, it came home.

Design ideas are swirling around in my head as the special night draws near.  I had better get busy.  

Just for fun, here are a few more of the pumpkins I have carved over the years. They were done old-school with a kitchen knife.


This has been a year of losses.  Smart, witty, laughing female friends have died unexpectedly.  It has been to hard accept. 

Sue has been a part of my life since childhood.  Our parents were good friends and we grew up knowing each other.  I still remember the day at age nine she confided that her parents were getting a divorce.   Divorce is a big deal, but particularly back then.  She drove a muscle car as a teen and could drive a stick.  She read Architectural Digest and Rolling Stone.  She liked Stanley Tigerman and Poco. We were maid-of-honor for one another.  We once said we would be cruising in a muscle car together well into our eighties.  It did not work out that way.

I had the privilege of calling artist Joella Mahoney my friend. We met years ago when staying near her studio in Sedona.  On Christmas Day she stopped while walking her dog and invited us to join her that evening.  She had an energy and laugh that would light up a room.  We return to Arizona often and Joella was part of the reason.  This past January I watched her inform and entertain a room packed with admirers.  She said art should depict what a photograph cannot.  I will not see her again.

Yesterday I found a blog written by a young woman from Missouri who moved to Saudia Arabia.  Her posts are well written and insightful.  She shares her thoughts and observations on living in a culture very different than the one she grew up in.  Her interviews with her Saudi husband and his family are endearing.  I learned and laughed reading her words. There will be no more. 

It would be so nice if their stories had lasted longer.


 We had a visitor last week.  Our 5lb. Yorkie guest took a liking to the DIY cat tent discussed in my previous post. Despite numerous washings, the cat hasn't stepped one paw into the tent since.

St. Louis Old Courthouse rotundra
 This holiday weekend we took the opportunity to explore the renovations on the Arch grounds.  Nearby is the Old Courthouse where the Dred Scott case was heard.  The rotundra was decorated for the naturalization ceremonies that take place there. It is a beautiful historic building and I hope you get a chance to visit.  Happy Fourth of July!


Not my cat but a very loved and sweet impostor.

I always considered myself a dog person until I got a cat. Now I am a dog and cat person. Cats are pretty special beings and there is no better stress reliever than a cat on your chest. I speak from experience.

With Spring cleaning this year came purging. An XL t-shirt that fit no one had to go. But no self-respecting artist could part with a tee featuring a Ralph Steadman illustration. NO, so I made a cat tent. 

A t-shirt, safety pins, cardboard, tape, hangers, a cat bed and viola!

This no-sew design featured here was relatively easy to do. My tent did not turn out as neat as the final product shown in the video but my cat likes it just fine. Advanced in years, I thought she might be a bit wary of this new contraption. Instead, she was curled up in it in no time. 

Since I have touched on the subject of recycling in this post, I would like share a tip. Friends recently turned me on to a convenient opportunity at our local Schnucks grocery stores. (I once heard a spectator behind me at a Cardinals game, after seeing an advertisement, ask "What is a Schnuck?")  At each store entrance is a Trex recycling bin for all kinds of hard to recycle plastics including those cat and dog treat zip closure bags. For a complete list of items they will take, see their website.

         Plastic now recyclable.     My cat asking for what she wants.

We love our pets and will do anything for them. In return they give us so much more. One special gift is their sly ability to expand our horizons.

Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm 

to ask for what you want.