Trends in Writing, The Arts, Regional Events, and High Desert Living

Posts by Angie

Understanding Ekphrastic Poetry

Mary Langer Thompson

Retired educator Mary Langer Thompson lead the workshop on Ekphrastic

Last weekend High Desert Poet Mary Langer Thompson taught a class on the Greek art form of ekphrasis. Imagination is the key component in ekphrastic art.

Study a toddler in playtime. Toddlers are amazing. For instance, watch a 2-year-old play with a group of stuffed animals. You hear comments, such as “You have to be quiet, Doggee”, “Don’t be sad”, “You gotta hurry”, “Come on, kitty”, “Come on, Elephant”, and “Go to sleep”. When it’s bedtime, the toddler can think of several reasons for not going to bed. The books come out, and the mom or dad reads with sleepy eyes. The 2-year-old still has energy left, however, and takes over the reading for the grownup. “Once upon a time” the toddler “reads” while observing the pictures and finishes each book with “The End!”.

Picture (or photo) reading isn’t for toddlers only. Adults look at photos and get an impression of what is taking place. That’s what happens when you read the comics, the ones without captions. Not everyone gets it, though. Could that be because, from toddler stage to adulthood, some are just more observant than others?

Ekphrasis, is a type of picture reading that is an old Greek art form. A story is told from impressions received by looking at a piece of art. Creative imagination and skill of the writer comes together in the literary art form of ekphrastic poetry. The goal of the poet is to make readers feel as though they are part of what is happening in the picture.

Take one piece of art and pass it around to a group of seven, and you’ll get seven different impressions of what was happening in the picture. It’s similar to the four gospels in the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell the same story of Christ from four different viewpoints.

A person’s imagination and perception are formed by family life, events, conditions, and circumstances from the beginning of life. Naturally, each individual sees things differently. Otherwise, it would be a boring world.

Learn more about ekphrasis and other poetry from Mary Langer Thompson. Look for her upcoming poetry handbook coming out in 2016. For more information, you can contact Mary at her website and purchase her newest book Poems in Water.

NOTE: This post contains an affiliate link which means if you click on it and make a purchase, I make a commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free, so thank you!

Poetry by Mary Langer Thompson

Poems in Water
Mary Langer Thompson

How Two Sisters Tie-Dye T-Shirts

High Desert Entrepreneurs set up a booth at the recent Santa Fe Trading Company Arts and Crafts Show. Next to our group was the tie-dye booth operated by two sisters.

How to Make a Tie-Dye T-Shirt

The Tie-Dye Sisters Booth

Children love the booth because they can dye their own shirts, choosing the colors they like.

Tie-Dye Craft

The Tie-Dye Sisters at Work

The best way to learn the tie-dye t-shirt process is to have one made which is what I did. The two sisters agreed to let me video them in the process.


I chose the colors for my shirt and videoed them while they dyed my shirt.

They wanted to start a business they would enjoy. It’s a fun artsy craft which is why they love it.

The sisters send your tie-dyed shirt with you inside plastic bags along with washing instructions.

You can find the sisters at their tie-dye booth at various craft fairs in Victor Valley. Look for their booth at Santa Fe Trading Company’s November craft show.

Fall Strawberry Recipes

Strawberry Bundt Cake

Strawberry Mini Bundt


High Desert foodies who like the Taste of Home Magazine were treated to a special occasion this week. Tuesday evening the Taste of Home Cooking School came to the San Bernardino Fairgrounds in Victorville. Various vendors set up booths, and 500 food and cooking enthusiasts attended the occasion including my blogging friend at (who won a Taste of Home cookbook at the event).

Taste of Home Cooking School

Taste of Home Slow Cooker Cookbook

One of the goodies we were given at the cooking school was the Cozy Food magazine. Autumn fruit favorites are usually pumpkin and apple recipes. Last weekend, however, my friend picked up a flat of fresh strawberries at a roadside fruit and vegetable stand. We split the flat, and I’ve been enjoying big, plump strawberries.

Searching for recipes, I’ve been trying to decide what I will make with all the berries. Fresh strawberries are not a highlight of the Cozy Food magazine recipes, although there is one for Almond Chicken & Strawberry Balsamic Sauce (that looked and smelled scrumptious!). In fact, it was one of the chosen recipes prepared and cooked at the Tuesday evening cooking school. Surprisingly, the magazine doesn’t list one recipe for apples though I did notice two that included pumpkin.

Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with:

  • Mini Bundts (I made these incredibly delicious treats back in the summer from another flat of fresh strawberries)
  • Parfaits (My own version of a Taste of Home custard berry parfait – see recipe at
  • Strawberry Souffle (This recipe is in the French Cooking In Old Detroit Since *1701* recipe book by Lucy & Sidney Corbett.)
  • Strawberry Pie
  • Strawberry and Green Salad

Since the days have been quite warm lately and schedules were busy, any chilled berry recipe has sounded good. So, one batch of berries went into the freezer (makes handy smoothies), and with the last batch I’m going to make the Strawberry Souffle (and maybe some of my mini bundt favs).



Natural Plants for High Desert Gardens

High Desert Joshua Tree

Mohave Desert Joshua Tree

Native plants for high desert gardening includes shrubs that attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds; evergreens that make nice privacy fences; and trees for shade. Common ones include:

Lavender perennial

Lavender in a High Desert garden


  • Chuparosa
  • Desert Bird of Paradise
  • Desert Lavender
  • Desert Sage
  • Western Redbud
Redbud Tree in Full Cycle

Redbud Tree in Full Cycle


  • California Juniper (good for birds and mammals and makes good fuel wood)
  • Catclaw Acacia (has thorns, is good as hedge or for landscape; butterflies and bees like it)
  • Joshua
  • Arizona Cypress
  • Honey Mesquite

A couple of trees that are not necessarily natural high desert plants but grow well in the arid weather are locust and mimosa trees. Mimosas have pretty fluffy-like pinkish flowers. Locust (black or honey) trees are thorny, and the ones on my property are invasive.  I thought it was a weed and kept cutting it down. Finally, I decided to just let one of them grow. After all, we’re trying to plant more bushes and trees in the yard, so why not quit fighting against the locust that is determined to grow. Apparently, it is a weed when it grows in areas where it isnt native. Black locusts are native to the southeastern part of the United States. They are from the Fabaceae pea family, and they produce pods. I prefer the mimosa tree because it’s pretty. One positive thing about the locust, though, is you don’t have to water it – it grows like a weed!


October Events in the High Desert

Autumn Basket Giveaway by High Desert Bloggers

Pumpkin Autumn Beauty

Fall finally arrived, and Victorville is starting it off with a festival called Celebrating the Spice of Life. It’s Saturday, October 3, from 10:00 am ’til 4 pm at the Victorville Civic Center. Admission, parking, and kids’ activities are free.

Western and country music enthusiasts, you’ll like the Mojave River Trail Days. That’s going on Saturday, October 3 (10 am – 5 pm), and Sunday, October 4 (10 am – 4 pm).

Wrightwood Day Trip

Inspiration Point near Wrightwood

Like chili and salsa? Wrightwood is having a Chili Cook-Off & Salsa event Saturday, October 3, 11:oo am ’til 3:00 pm. Go early and stop by The Village Grind for coffee and breakfast (they have the best breakfast sandwiches!).

Between tasting salsa and chili, take your family over to Beverly’s Books (check out the $1 room for Sunday visits). They have a great selection of books in all kinds of varieties. Take the time to shop at the Cedar Street Craftiques & Collectibles in town (incidentally, Cedar Lodge is located on the first floor if you decide to stay overnight).

lodging in Wrightwood, CA

Cedar Lodge, Wrightwood

Serious about blogging? High Desert Bloggers, a group, is meeting Saturday, October 3, from 9:00 a.m. ’til 10:30 a.m. at the new Starbucks across from Costco in Victorville.

If you have an event you want posted on High Desert Blogging’s events page, email it to


R/C Glider Aircraft Fun Near Wrightwood

Living in So Cal’s High Desert has its benefits – like being at the mountains in less than an hour. Skiing is a common winter sport that draws tourists to nearby Wrightwood, but there are other fun activities in the mountain village to consider throughout the year. Take, for instance, radio control glider flying is a hobby that glider aircraft pilot Armando takes to the mountain to fly:

While eating our picnic lunch at Inspiration Point in Angeles National Forest, my husband and I became fascinated by a glider. Photographing and videoing the glider (at least attempting to as it zipped around), we were quite fascinated. At one point, a couple of birds seemed to be chasing the aircraft.

After it landed, we met Armando who had been doing the piloting. He explained thermals and how the glider works, showing us how to operate the controls. When asked what was one of the most interesting experiences he’s had with flying the aircraft, he said, “When a hawk chased the glider, attacked it at landing, and tore up the tail.” However, Armando said he was able to take it home and repair it.

NOTE: This post contains an affiliate link which means if you click on it and make a purchase, I make a commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free, so thank you!

Gliders don’t have engines. A glider can gain altitude if a pocket of air rises (called an updraft) faster than the glider descends. Pockets of hot rising air are called thermals.

According to, most beginners to the hobby of R/C glider flying start with electric powered planes. The radio control glider aircraft sport is popular, and there are many types and varying prices to choose from. Learn more about how R/C gliders work at




Temecula Wine Country for Outdoor Weddings

Wilson Creek Winery

Temecula Outdoor Weddings

Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards Weddings

A Temecula Wedding Setting


Live in the high desert and looking for the perfect outdoor place to plan your wedding? Temecula wine country is incredibly beautiful. It only takes an hour and a half to get there which makes it convenient for guests to travel to the wedding and back home in a day. Family and friends from out-of-state who attend may want to consider taking an extra day to tour the area. People are often unaware of interesting sites that are practically in their own backyard or in next-door cities.

Wilson Creek Winery Wedding

Temecula Winery Outdoor Wedding Setting

Whether you’re planning a wedding or a vacation in Temecula, it’s a fun place to visit with exceptional scenic vineyard views. The city offers charming Old-Town shops and several wineries as far as sites to see and things to do. Touring one of the wineries, learning the fermenting process of grapes from one of the area’s vineyards, and eating lunch at their onsite restaurants (or bringing-your-own-lunch to eat at a picnic table) are among interesting choices to include.

Be sure to read reviews when deciding on a winery to tour. If you’re looking for the most fun tour, consider Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards. It’s a family-oriented place, incredibly beautiful, with tables and chairs, picnic tables, playground, winetasting, and delightful entertainment (like having a tour guide who sings to the group).

Grape stomp festivals are fun family events held in Temecula and throughout California. These harvest celebrations vary according to dates and ages. See specific wineries’ scheduled events, details, and prices.

Upcoming fall events include:

  • 17th Annual Old Town Temecula Outdoor Quilt Show, Saturday, October 3, 2015, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Amission is FREE!
  • Greek Festival on October 17 and 18, 2015
  • Craft fair and market of handmade goods is being held on October 23-24, 2015. Visit Hello Sunrise Handmade Market’s Facebook page for more information.

Wine isn’t the only type of tasting shops of Temecula. Visit Temecula Olive Oil Company in Old Town. You’ll be amazed at the flavor of combining the company’s oil and vinegar specialties, especially the 911 Hatch Chili Balsamic Bianco.

What else could possibly attract your attention in this popular city of vineyards? Wine and whiskey barrel furniture and accessories. Walk into King Barrel and find art and furniture custom-designed by Moses Briseno. Contact Moses or his wife Monique (see video below) for questions on how to place custom orders. Don’t miss this fabulous shop filled with beautifully-made creations.

Allow a day for Temecula’s Old Town and a day for touring a winery. If you decide on having a wedding there, you are certain to find a package to suit your needs as there are many wineries with special deals for the bride and groom.


Joshua Tree National Park Day Trip

Looking for a place in the high desert to take your family on a day trip? Visit Joshua Tree National Park. The park is beautiful and worth taking a day to visit. Overnight camping is available.

IMG_2499 IMG_2463

Pack a lunch. There are plenty of picnic tables with nature’s beauty and quiet to enjoy while you eat.


Don’t forget the grapes and apples! Enjoy nature AND natural organic fruit in the peaceful surroundings of the park. Other than a tourist driving by, there is total quietness.

Plan a picnic at Joshua Tree National Park

Picnic at Joshua Tree National Park

Be careful while hiking or walking near the rocks to take pictures. I didn’t see any snakes on our trip, although I’m sure there are plenty of them at the park. Encountering a lizard as I had leaned back on a rock while my hubby took my picture made me more watchful wherever I walked. Lizards are fine with me at a distance. Running where my arm just was is not far enough away for my comfort.

September is a good time to go to the park. The days are warm, but there aren’t as many triple-digit temperatures. My blogger friend, Rusty, has been a long-time high desert resident and says Joshua Tree Park is also beautiful with snow.

Whenever you decide to take your family on a tour of the park, consider stopping by Pioneertown, about fifteen minutes from Joshua Tree. It was built in the 1940s as an Old West motion picture set. A couple of the Mane Street shops were open when we went, the saddle/leather shop and a pottery place. In fact, I was able to get my leather belt ties redone at the saddle and leather shop.

Old West town, Pioneertown, CA





The Joshua Tree National Park day trip is only about an hour and a half from the Victor Valley area. Start out early and you can be home before dark, including the Pioneertown excursion to boot.

Blogging and Fit

Garden Reading Material

Garden Style Fitness

How in the world does a blogger get fit since writing blog posts requires sitting? Work out at the gym for an hour every day? That’s an option. So is walking, running, and swimming. But have you ever thought of simple ways like gardening? How about washing the dishes, sweeping and mopping the floors – just general housework? You might want to take a look at these possibilities. Each one is worth considering when keeping up a daily log of calories and fat-burning exercise.

Until I started keeping up with my daily food intake on MyFitnessPal, I didn’t give a thought to how many calories I was burning by everyday housecleaning chores and gardening. Wow! Hey, it pays off to not own a dishwasher! I am the dishwasher (and Mr. Fun helps, too – goes quicker when we join the effort with one washing and the other drying). You can burn 22 calories in 15 minutes washing dishes while standing (for a 150-lb person). See for viewing more ways to burn calories. If you cook in more than one pot or pan and more than one person is enjoying the meal, the dishes may take double that time.That’s burning 44 calories in 30 minutes. Not bad at all.

Think about it. If you blog, you’re going to need to get up out of the chair every now and then. Like when you’re hungry, thirsty, gotta have some coffee, need to go water the flowers, etc.

Speaking of the flowers, gardening is one of the best ways to get fit. Pull weeds for half an hour or plant flower and vegetable seeds for an hour. You’ll feel muscles you didn’t know you had. Even watering the garden causes calories to be burned. Every little or big activity you do adds up. Recording all you eat and calories burned lets you see what you need to do to get fit or stay fit.

Gardening is my favorite fitness program. It’s therapeutic, fun, rewarding, and it’s a workout. Winter is probably the worst season to stay fit that way, although there are flowers and vegetables that do grow well in that season. Recently, I blogged about flowers to plant in the fall that also grow well in the winter. It’s worth it, health wise, to have a winter garden. Organic vegetables taste better, you save money, and you stay more fit.

Growing tomatoes in the High Desert

High Desert Organic Tomatoes

Blogging is no excuse to not be fit. I know very well how easy it is to be forgetful of the time while plugging away at the computer on the blog posts. That’s what cell phone alarms are for. It keeps you accountable for each responsibility you have. Being a fit blogger is your responsibility. Nobody will do it for you.

Improv Garden Writing

Pink and Yellow Rose in Autumn

Now go get fit!

High Desert Fall Flowers and Pumpkins

Autumn Basket Giveaway by High Desert Bloggers

Pumpkin Autumn Beauty

Autumn begins September 23, only five days away. High desert temperatures will start lowering, morning air will be crisp, and nights will be chilly. It’s a refreshing season.

Fall is my favorite season. Days are cooler for one thing. Leaves change colors, and gardening becomes more enjoyable because the days aren’t so hot. Gardeners plant new flowers that will last through fall and winter.


Yellow Pansies

Purple Pansies before Spring

Purple and White Pansies


Yellow Snapdragons

Some of the best annuals to plant in the fall are snapdragons, pansies, sweet alyssum, petunias, and nasturtiums. These flowers grow well in high desert areas. Plant them at the beginning of the season. You can enjoy them up until the first frost and some even into the winter. Pansies seem to perk up more the colder the weather is.

Annual Flowers to Plant in Fall











Decorate your garden with colorful flowers and pumpkins of all sizes. Go all out with color. Paint an old chair with multiple bright reds, oranges, blues, yellows and greens. It will surely brighten someone’s day.

Fall Gardening

Fall Garden Color

Pumpkin patches attract families this time of the year as festivities are planned for Halloween. When my daughter was little, my husband and I would take her to a pumpkin patch and let her pick out a pumpkin. We would take it home, and I would bake pumpkin bars and top them with cream cheese frosting.

Find a pumpkin patch in your area, and create autumn memories with your children and grandchildren. Make pumpkin fruit dip, pumpkin bars, and fun crafts for the whole family.

Fall garden decorating with seasonal colors is fun. It offers a warm welcome before entering the home, setting the mood for comfort.


High Desert Snapdragons

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