FEATURED SERIES

McClure Pass #1 McClure Pass #2 McClure Pass #3
Click here for past featured series.

PHOTO OF THE MONTH

Prospector McKee Grave (CO)
December
Prospector McKee Grave (CO)
Click here for past Photos of the Month

OBSCURE ORATIONS

If you have a comment, feel free to contact Karen!

DECEMBER 2017
Greetings of the Season! Hope your December is finding you joyfully busy with shopping and planning for your holiday! Merry Christmas and best wishes for a bountiful New Year!

I am still presenting images from the Colorado trip we took this summer. I have so many beautiful scenes that it is hard for me to switch gears and offer something more winter-like. There was, however, snow on Mt. Sopris which had fallen just a day before we arrived, and that was in August. It was delightfully cool compared to Arizona's heat. We came over McClure Pass which is positively beautiful at any time of the year. North of Lizard Head (featured last month) and south of Carbondale is some of the most gorgeous scenery in the world. I am featuring three different mountain peaks enhanced by rich greenery, the last of which shows the southern side of Mt. Sopris with snow. I hope you enjoy visiting Colorado with me.

Our Photo of the Month takes a slightly different twist. Along Rt. 133 near Redstone is an old grave which caught my eye. I just had to investigate it. Turned out, it was the grave of John McKee, an old prospector. (Isn't there a folk tune about him?) The sign over the gravesite reads: "John C. McKee, Prospector. Became ill and friends attempted to get him to doctor. Died enroute and was buried here July 7, 1883." You never know what you will find along the way.

We are also adding an entirely new section entitled “Wyoming Mountains” under the Mountains, Canyons & Caverns tab. Be sure to check it out.

Enjoy your holiday, whichever one you celebrate! See you in the New Year.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

NOVEMBER 2017
Indian Summer Greetings! We are having a balmy fall here in Arizona, which means it is actually too hot with the temperatures hovering around 90 degrees. This week the weather forecasters have been predicting cooler temperatures, and all we can say is "they'd better be!"

I said in October that I would continue featuring photos from my trip to Colorado. As we were winding our way northward we passed some beautiful country while following the Dolores River (when viewing the photo of the horses along the river, note the one almost hidden by the brush nearer the river). We headed up to Lizard Head Mountain which stands at 13, 113 ft. (featured), and on through the Delta Divide to Ridgeway State Park. Then we traversed breathtaking McClure Pass and went into mining country. The weather was mostly cooperative; some showers every afternoon, but only one day were plans rained out. That's a story for next month.

Meanwhile enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday. Just in case you are celebrating another holiday besides Thanksgiving, here are a few to consider: November 3rd- Sadie Hawkins Day (the first Saturday in November); November 6th-National Saxophone Day (I can relate to that one); one we should all try to do is November 13th- World Kindness Day; November 15th- Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day - maybe we should postpone that till after Thanksgiving. November 28th is RedPlanet Day, and November 29th is National Square Dance Day. Honest! I don't make these up! Whatever you do, have a great November! (Christmas shopping anyone?)

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

OCTOBER 2017
Our recent trip to the old mining towns of Colorado resulted in many beautiful pictures. I am going to start at the beginning of the trip and offer some selections from the red rocks of New Mexico. The Photo of the Month was taken in the middle of the desert, rising up from sand, and showing in brilliant red against the cloudy sky. The Featured Series photos were taken nearer the New Mexico-Arizona border, and show the weathering of the red sandstone producing caves deep into the rock. I found them interesting and beautiful. As we crossed the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona, we stopped to allow a small herd of wild horses cross the highway. I have featured a photo of three of them entitled "We Three" on our Animals page. They are strikingly beautiful and healthy. Another find, later in Colorado, was a red day lily, which I have added under the Beautiful Blossoms. It is extraordinarily different from others I have photographed.

I will continue with other photos from the trip to Colorado mining towns as we progress into 2017 and then 2018. Meanwhile, I wish you a joyous and beautiful fall, full of calmer days, decreasing temperatures, and fun celebrations. Happy Halloween!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

SEPTEMBER 2017
Last month, I promised I would bring more views of flowers that grow in a ball shape. This month the Photo of the Month is the Allium, which you may know is a member of the onion family. Onions, shallots and garlic are members of the Allium family that belong in the vegetable garden. But there are many ornamental alliums that deserve a hearty welcome in your perennial gardens. In addition to that, our Featured Series offers the Snowball bush (often mistaken for the Hydrangea), Queen Anne's Lace (which my grandmother really did grow in her garden), and a group of blue Hydrangea. Each is spectacular in its own right and beautiful to behold.

I am offering a new Grunge selection. This is a photo of a gorgeous Orange Calla Lily. I turned it into black and white, and restored the color of the lily itself, and then added layers of vectors and abstracts to bring it to its present status. For those of you who do not appreciate the Grunge effects, the Orange Calla Lily is offered in its original state under "Beautiful Blossoms", and again in the "Neons and Special Effects" section where I offer the black & white version with painted lily. Check out other additions in the "Beautiful Blossoms" section featuring some grass selections.

As we venture slowly into fall, get out and enjoy Nature as much as possible before the weather cools down. Here in Arizona, that won't happen until late October, but for the rest of the states, you should begin to enjoy some wonderful temperate days.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

AUGUST 2017
I saw so many beautiful flowers this past month that I wanted to share them with you. Browsing through my many photo files, I discovered I have an abundance of pink and white blossoms. Some of the most unusual are the hydrangeas which have many different varieties known as cultivar. These cultivars are developed by breeding and are given a designated name. My Featured Series includes a variety known as Vanilla Strawberry Panicled Hydrangea. My Photo of the Month is the hydrangea with which we are most familiar, and one that grandmother might have grown in her garden. That species is the tight ball-shaped bunch of individual flowers that are so beautiful and come in a variety of colors (Hydrangea macrophylla).

Next month I will show more of the "ball-type" flowers, including the Snowball bush, often mistaken for Hydrangea, and Allium, which is no relation, but grows in a round ball of tiny flowers.

I am featuring my first two ventures into the Grunge type of photos, which involved layers of different things over the original, with the original then exposed. They will be available as 11"x17" images. Price to be determined. Click here to see the pictures!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JULY 2017
Happy Fourth of July everyone! May we all enjoy celebrations of freedom safely and sanely. Be careful with fireworks, but enjoy your cookouts and family gatherings.

I wanted to feature an area of Arizona that we have not featured for eight years. That is the Granite Dells area of Watson Lake north of Prescott, AZ. It is a fascinating area of multiple rock formations rising out of the beautiful lake splashed with varying arrays of sunlight and clouds. It is a photographer's delight with ever changing lighting and colors. If you have not had the opportunity to go there, do plan a trip. I understand the fishing isn't bad, and you can boat on the lake. I just added 10 beautiful shots to a special section titled Granite Dells in our Lakes section. Go to www.obscureobservations.com. Find the links on the left side, scroll to Wonderful Water and when you click on that you will see a link for Lakes.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JUNE 2017
The Featured Series and Photo of the Month for June are of the Grand Canyon. It has been a long time since Obscure Observations has featured the Canyon, and since it is the biggest attraction [both in size and number of visitors] in the state of Arizona, it is fitting that we showcase it periodically. Nearly five million people see Grand Canyon each year, and primarily from the South Rim. Our images for this series were taken from the North Rim. Hopefully, some obscure views not seen by many.

The hike across the canyon from South Rim to North Rim is 21 miles (34 km). However, driving from the South Rim to the North Rim by automobile requires a five-hour drive of 220 miles (354 km). The South Rim is the most accessible part of the park and it is open all year. During winter months, the North Rim is closed due to snow. It is open from May 15th through October 15th.

Geologically speaking, Grand Canyon is very young. The oldest rocks at the canyon bottom are close to 2000 million years old. The Canyon itself - an erosional feature - has formed only in the past five or six million years. Unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep. The park includes over a million acres of land - 1,218,375.54 acres / 493,077 hectares, to be exact, or 1,904 square miles / 4931 square kilometers.

Enjoy our views this month. Then plan a trip to go see the awesome Grand Canyon in person.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

MAY 2017
I'm in the mood for some beautiful flowers this month. I checked the files and found I had not featured as many of the gorgeous blooms from Nova Scotia that I would have liked, so have added a few to the Beautiful Blossoms page under Flowers & Foliage. There is a luscious Columbine and a beautiful double Begonia as well as a new Waterlily.

I am featuring Bleeding Hearts this month; a childhood favorite since my grandmother grew them in her garden in Colorado. Two views were taken in Nova Scotia; one was taken in the state of Washington near Mt. St. Helens, and one was taken in Alabama at the Bellingrath Gardens. They are such delicate little drops of a flower -- heart shaped and fascinating.

Check these out as well as a new footbridge also taken in Nova Scotia. Remember we can provide a variety of sizes and finishes for every image on the website.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

APRIL 2017
April and spring have arrived. April is a busy month with the Christian observances of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter; Orthodox Easter; and Jewish Passover. Earth Day is also celebrated this month. The spring equinox has happened, daylight savings time kicked in, and the weather may be a bit nicer. Wildflowers around Arizona began blooming in March, and the Mesquite trees were abundant with yellow puffs. Palo Verde and other trees and cactus are blooming profusely. The central part of the state around Phoenix is a sea of yellow. Happy Spring! Happy Easter!

I have decided to feature roses this month - a bit off my usual tradition of featuring lilies or tulips for Easter month. Roses will be in full bloom soon, and they are my favorite flower. I am featuring shades of red, peach and pink and hope you enjoy them as much as I do. You can check out more roses and other beautiful blossoms under the Flowers & Foliage tab on the left of the website pages. I am also adding a new page under Wonderful Water, Lakes link which will feature the Granite Dells. This is a wonderfully rocky area rising from the northern end of Watson Lake near Prescott, AZ. I am a lover of big rocks and mountains, and these are indeed spectacular as they rise from the lake to form multiple large and jumbled formations.

Don't forget every photo on the website is available for purchase for your online ads, stationery, office and home decor or billboard in a variety of sizes. Click on the purchase prints link found on each page. Let me know what you like and what size; price will be quoted and you will be on your way to owning great photography!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

MARCH 2017
It should be spring! It's an event that is coming soon; although we know how fickle spring is. Sometimes nice; sometimes cold; blustery, snowy, rainy, sunny, warm, tulips and crocus popping up their heads - sometimes though the snow, and trees are budding, only to be nipped by a late frost. But when March ends and April comes, spring blooms in all its glory! I have picked a variety of things that are spring-like and may perk you up if it is blustery where you are and you have winter doldrums. The Photo of the Month and the Featured Series are of a cute little desert flowers called a Turk's Hat.

In addition, in our Flowers & Foliage section, click on the link to Trees and you will find two new photographs of Mesquite, a tree that blooms profusely in the spring in Arizona. Its flowers are fuzzy yellow tufts and some have pods. The images are mesquite05 and mesquite06. You will also see a new photo of a Mountain Laurel with its beautiful purple flowers. It is mountainlaurel03. While in Flowers & Foliage, click on the Cactus link and you will find a new Cholla (cholla05) and two new gorgeous yuccas which also bloom profusely here in Arizona in the spring (yucca21 and yucca22). There is a new Fairy Duster in the Fairy Duster section- fairyduster08. It is such a beautiful desert plant with a delicate flower. There are two new bromeliads in the Beautiful Blossoms link.

Under the Macro section you will find three new grasshopper photos, one with a butterfly. Just viewing all the flowers and things in that section should cheer you up! There are some new butterflies under the Animals section, Fliers, Flitters and Floaters link.

And just for fun, we have added a new link under the Mixed Myriad section. It is Feet! Check it out and get a chuckle. It is something I do when passing time and there is nothing to photograph of interest. People have the most out-of-the-ordinary shoes and socks and sometimes toes! Who knows? I may catch you some day with a bizarre pair of socks on!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

FEBRUARY 2017
Happy Groundhog's Day and Valentine's Day and President's Day! Enjoy Black History Month - Learn something!

This month I am introducing new photos under Arizona Mountains. Our featured photos will be Thumb Butte, which is near Prescott, AZ. I am also adding photos of the Black Hills of Yavapai County. You didn't know Arizona had Black Hills, did you? They are on the West side of Cottonwood and the old mining town of Jerome is nestled there. Just a couple of areas in Arizona that we hadn't featured previously. You will also find new photos in the Alaska section, a new butterfly and a new reflection. Remember all photos on the web-site are for sale. Look for the "Click here to purchase prints" link on each page.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JANUARY 2017
This month I am introducing Blake, a 3-year old English Springer Spaniel who excels in all of his endeavors. Blake and his owner, Ray, cover a lot of territory and Blake is a very busy dog. Blake has been certified by the Companion Animal Association of Arizona, and was one of the youngest dogs to be certified as a Social Pet Therapy dog. Just before he turned two, Blake was certified as a therapy dog by the American Kennel Club (AKC). This year he was awarded his Therapy Dog Advanced title by the AKC and his AKC Champion title. He now holds the titles of International Champion and American Kennel Club Champion. Blake and Ray volunteer at a care facility in Tempe, AZ and he has performed 52 visits with residents there. He volunteers with Gabriel's Angels where he works with "at risk" and Head Start children as well as doing interventions with a psychologist, working with her young patients who have suffered abuse or trauma. Those visits total over 50. Recently Blake was certified to serve as a therapy dog at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa. He and Ray provide comfort therapy to patients in the Oncology & Pulmonary sections, totaling 16 visits to date. Blake is a very special dog, and Ray is proud to be able to work with him at all these facilities. I am thrilled to have the privilege of photographing him.

Happy New Year to all of you.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

DECEMBER 2016
Since there were so many beautiful photos to choose from depicting the changing of the leaves in the Smoky Mountains, I have decided to add some more for December. Ordinarily, I would be finding a snow scene I had photographed, or a picture of a Santa, and presenting that to you in the holiday spirit. I think, however, that one captures spirit in what one sees, what one does and what one experiences each day. The beauty of the Earth is all around us, and can only be God-given. All you have to do is open your eyes and look. I am always astounded by what I see: the beauty of a tree whether or not its leaves are changing; the beauty of a babbling brook, sometimes strewn with leaves as I saw in the Smoky Mountains. The flight of a bird and the beauty in the colors of its feathers; the fur of my dog; my flower garden; the people I meet and their little babies all say to me that God is good, and with us forever. May you celebrate a most blessed and happy season, whatever you believe. If you are celebrating Christmas or Kwanzaa or Chanukah, please celebrate with glory, belief and joy.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

NOVEMBER 2016
It is Autumn! That beautiful, orangey gold time of the year when the woods turn to yellow, gold, orange, amber and red, and the Earth seems to glow from the colors. Even in Arizona the leaves have begun to turn and though not as showy, some are very pretty. As promised last month, I am offering a selection of fall colors for your enjoyment. Most were taken on a very recent trip to Gatlinburg, TN and the Smoky Mountains where the leaves were gorgeous; each tree seemed to try to outdo its neighbor. There are more than I can show in one Photo of the Month or the Featured Series, so I am planning to start a new section entitled "Smoky Mountains". Look for it in future months as I have a chance to "build" it. Enjoy this month's selections and enjoy your fall. Celebrate all those wonderful holidays with your family, and show your respect for the veterans. And if you haven't turned in an early ballot, please vote.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

OCTOBER 2016
Happy fall! It has arrived early in some parts of the country; I heard leaves were turning prematurely in the mid-south due to a big storm that went through the area earlier. Of course, here in Arizona we wait till November for our leaves to begin turning. Therefore, I will wait until November's offerings to show you fall foliage.

This month we are featuring some of the many churches I have photographed in my travels around the US and Canada. They range from little desert adobe buildings to huge cathedrals. However, they all serve the same purpose - a place to worship. I love the little small town churches with their white siding and green roofs. The cathedrals are awe-inspiring, but the small ones seem to be more welcoming. It was hard for me to pick this month; then I decided to give you one small adobe; one hometown with white siding; one adobe mission, and one cathedral. I will feature more of them from time to time. If you want to see more check out our Churches & Spires section under the Mixed Myriad link on the website. (www.obscureobservations.com) Enjoy!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

SEPTEMBER 2016
Still featuring Arizona, this month we are heading northwest to Antelope Canyon on the Navajo Reservation. If you have not explored it, a world of wonder awaits you. Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon, which means it is long and narrow, with only a slit at the top to let light in, and that provides a variety of views depending on the time of day, the brightness of the sun, the wind, and your imagination. I have visited it several times and the different photographs I obtained each time never cease to amaze me. You should hire a guide because they will take you to the more famous formations at the right time to see them. One of the more famous views is the Bear and Tear. At the right time of day, the sun shines through a hole in the rock making it look like a tear, which nearby the outline of a bear can be seen. My imagination has seen an elephant head high above the slot; looking up at the slot I saw dark images which reminded me of Star Wars figures; another which was just beautiful that I named Splendors. There are many who go just to see the shaft of light which enters the slot at a certain time of day. I missed it the first time I went, but managed to see it thereafter. One visit was particularly windy and the sand in the slot (left by floods of water through the slot) was blowing in every direction. I have some great abstracts from that day. I invite you to explore my website and the Antelope Canyon section under Arizona Canyons & Caverns and see many more images of that interesting place.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

AUGUST 2016
Tumacacori National Historical Park is located in the upper Santa Cruz River Valley in Santa Cruz County, southern Arizona. The park consists of 360 acres (1.5 km) in three separate units. The park protects the ruins of three Spanish mission communities, two of which are National Historic Landmark sites. It also contains the landmark 1937 Tumacacori Museum building, also a National Historic Landmark.

As Jesuit Eusebio Francisco Kino and his party approached the O'odham (or Pima) settlement of Tumacqcori in January 1691, they rode the wave of a century of expansion northward along New Spain's west coast corridor. The Jesuits had reaped tens of thousands of baptisms and made themselves the region's most powerful social and economic force. But the tide carried them no farther north than the Pimeria Alta, home of the upper Piman Indians.

It was here that Kino founded mission San Cayetano de Tumacacori on the Santa Cruz River's east bank. The next day Mission San Gabriel was founded at Guevavi, 15 miles upriver. After Guevavi was made mission headquarters in 1701, the priest there periodically travelled to preach at Tumacacori and other visitas without resident missionaries.

In 1751 some Pimas in the Altar Valley, southwest of Tumacacori, attacked the Spanish settlements there. Fearing retaliation from Spanish soldiers, those at Tumacacori fled to the hills. As a result, a 50-man presidio was founded at Tubac, and the mission at Tumacacori was resettled on the west bank.

In 1767 King Charles III of Spain, for political reason, abruptly banished the Jesuits from all his realms. The Franciscans, who took over the missionary effort in Pimeria Alta, inherited the woes that had frustrated the Jesuits: restless neophytes, Apache hostility, disease, encroaching settlers, and lack of government support. The Tubac garrison was transferred to Tucson in 1776, and by 1786 only a hundred Indians remained at Tumacacori. The next year an 80-man Pima company reoccupied Tubac, but as Apache pressure mounted, the nearby missions of Calabazas and Guevavi were abandoned.

About 1800 Fray Narciso Gutierrez began to build a large church to replace Tumacacori's modest Jesuit structure, but his mission's poverty and the Mexican wars for independence slowed construction. When a Mexican decree forced all Spanish-born residents to leave the country in 1828, Tumacacori lost its last resident priest. Scaffolding still clung to the bell tower. The Indians and a few settlers, with the aid of visiting native-born Mexican priests, hung on for another 20 years, but a series of Apache raids and the hard 1848 winter drove the last residents from Tubac and Tumacacori. The 157-year thread of continuity begun by Father Kino was now severed.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JULY 2016
We have been roaming around Southern Arizona the past few months and while we are still there I thought we'd drop in on Colossal Cavern. Colossal Cavern or Cave is a large cave system in southeastern Arizona, near the community of Vail, and is approximately 22 miles SE of Tucson. It contains about 3.5 miles (5.6 km) of mapped passageways. Colossal Cave was used from 900 to 1450 AD by the Hohokam, Sobaipuri, and Apache Indians. The cave was rediscovered in 1879 by Solomon Lick, the owner of the nearby Mountain Springs Hotel. He was searching for stray cattle when he discovered the entrance to the cave. The cave was then used as a guano source, and a tunnel, 82 feet long, was built in 1905, and a total of seven train cars of guano were filled. The deposit was soon exhausted, and the tunnel was abandoned.

Today the cave is a popular tourist destination as part of Colossal Cave Mountain Park. The park also features two other caves, named Arkenstone and La Tetera, which are protected and are being studied by researchers.

Head south to Southern Arizona, discover and enjoy! Don't forget Kartchner Caverns is down that way as well.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JUNE 2016
My absence in May was due to having major back surgery, and then rehab. While another surgery is pending, I will endeavor to keep my blog and photos of the month going. The grapes featured in April were photographed in southernmost Arizona; this month I am taking you a little farther North near Tucson to visit Sabino Canyon. You can hike along the river through the Canyon to Seven Falls. In a good year with lots of snow the falls flow rapidly. People can hike to very near the top of the falls, but most stop about halfway where large flat rocks provide a great place to sunbathe or splash in the water! The Canyon itself is said to be 12 million years old, and layers of rock show the many changes in the Earth through centuries of upheaval! The walls of the Canyon are adorned with large saguaro cacti and trees: here and there are Cholla and Prickly Pear. One of the lower bridges was washed out during a flood in 2006. These pictures were taken in February showing the winter desolation - still pretty in its own right. It is even more beautiful in the spring when the cacti bloom! Go south and enjoy!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

APRIL 2016
I ended up in Sonoita, Arizona recently and found myself in the most beautiful grassland prairie. And guess what? They grow grapes and make wine there!!! This is Southern Arizona where the plains are rolling and the small mountains roll out above the plains. The weather is cooler here with a skift of snow in the winter, and more rain than you will find further north. The grapes are fat and juicy and make delicious wines. I toured several wineries and was impressed with the varieties of wine made, the friendliness of the owners and the abundance of vineyards in the area. Head south and enjoy!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

MARCH 2016
It is a month of holy days with Christians celebrating Lent, which leads to Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. Hallelujah! The Jewish faith celebrates Purim. The Hindu people celebrate Maha Shivaratri, and Baha'i celebrate Intercalary Days including a 19-day Feast leading to their New Year - Naw Ruz. There are any number of non-religious celebrations including Easter Egg Hunts, St. Patrick's Day, World Wildlife Day, World Poetry Day, and National Puppy Day. Spring begins on March 20 which is Palm Sunday. Spring Training is underway with the season soon to begin.

In view of the religious significance of the month, I have chosen lilies as my theme for the Photo of the Month and the Featured Series. All of the particular lilies shown are day lilies and were photographed in Alberta, Canada. Take a look at our website's Flowers & Foliage section and you will find a scrolling image series of other day lilies. Enjoy the beauty of all the flowers on that link. Scroll around and see how beautiful nature is. Enjoy spring!

You might want to take a look at the Trips & Travels section. We are adding Up the Coast to Portland images. That particular series will continue to grow.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

FEBRUARY 2016
In my travels all across Canada and into Nova Scotia, I have encountered the most beautiful poppies. They remind me of the poppies my grandmother had in her backyard when I was a child, and they reminded a friend of her Italian heritage because they are also prevalent on the hillsides in Italy. Nostalgia aside, they are some of the most beautiful flowers to be seen. They come in a variety of colors, but my favorites are the yellow and orange ones. Some are mixed with white, which adds a delightful array of color. Some of my images this month were taken in Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada on a very rainy day, and they seriously brightened up those gardens. Others in this month's selection were taken in Arizona. I hope you enjoy them.

Did you know that Obscure Observations provides a variety of stock photography? Check the latest update to our website "People-Tours". This section offers a variety of people in "crowd" circumstances - on tour, at baseball games, at sidewalk cafes. It also features many of my senior citizens enjoying these activities. If you need further senior citizen stock, check out our "Spirited Seniors" section. The people featured here have all signed releases to be used in appropriate stock material.

I am wishing you a happy and lovable Valentine's Day; don't eat too many chocolates if you are lucky enough to receive them; don't forget to celebrate President's Day and remember the founders of our great country. Happy Groundhog's Day. Don't forget Lent starts on Ash Wednesday February 10th. Enjoy Mardi Gras beforehand. And I hope your favorite team wins the Super Bowl.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JANUARY 2016
Happy New Year! I hope that your 2016 is full of wonder, delight, new found things, love, peace and prosperity.

Did you ever really stop and look at a pine cone or the bark of a tree? Did you ever realize that each one is completely different? Pine needles and bark make great artistic abstracts as do stumps and pieces of trees. This month I wanted to take you into some new refreshing ideas and present some of Nature's abstracts. Many of these images were taken this fall while tromping the Arizona forests. I hope you enjoy them.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

DECEMBER 2015
Happy December! May all your celebrations be happy and blessed. I wish you a bountiful Christmas and peace for the New Year.

I just couldn't let go of Autumn this year. I took so many great photos in October and November that I decided to share some of them with you for our December Photo of the Month and our Featured Series. I hope you will enjoy them. I am also adding to the Stumps section under the Trees tab on Flowers and Foliage link.

Please explore the links on the left of the pages. For example there are a lot of different flowers and types of foliage on that link. The Mixed Myriad link is just that--a mixture of things that don't necessarily fall under the other categories. You can order anything featured on the website by clicking on the order button. If you don't find exactly what you want, drop me an e-mail and tell me what you are looking for. Our stock is very large and we may just have what you want.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

NOVEMBER 2015
November, the month of pilgrims, Thanksgiving, turkey and pumpkin pie is here! Along with football, autumn leaves, fall hunts, cooler weather and thoughts of Christmas. We also celebrate Veterans Day, a time to recognize all those who have given their lives for their country. We should thank them for giving us a free country in which to live. Show your appreciation to them. Thankful we should be for all the bounteous things we have received including family, home, health, and an abundance of food for most of us. We should also offer assistance to those less fortunate and provide a meal for them, especially those veterans who have not faired so well.

With food the primary thought for most of us at this time, what would you prefer to eat? I will offer you some choices in our Photo of the Month and the Featured series. None will be cooked and all are offered very much whole, with fur or feathers attached, but you have a choice of meats. Whatever you choose, have a nice Thanksgiving, and a wonderful month of November.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

OCTOBER 2015
October is a month of fun and celebration. Of course, there is All Hallows Eve, better known as Halloween. Will you be out in costume celebrating or trick or treating? We have featured some of our great monster photos in the past, but this year I think we will continue to show you more photos from Nova Scotia, particularly Prince Edward Island. Special favorites come from New Glasgow and Prince Edward Island Preserve Company where there are spectacular gardens laid out along the river. Our features this month are of old wagon wheels incorporated into the gardens adding an interesting and dramatic effect. Even in the rain they were fascinating to say the least.

I would like to direct you not only to the Trips & Travels link, where you will find more photos of Nova Scotia, but also to the Animal Antics link, and under that the Fliers, Flitters and Floaters link. We have added new images of storks and ostrich here. You might want to check out the beautiful fish and jellyfish on the Aquatic Finds page. That link is http://obscureobservations.com/aquatic.shtml. We have also made some changes to the Perfectly Purple page under the link to Flowers & Foliage.

I did find a couple of holidays that I wanted to mention: don't forget Columbus Day on the 12th; and really do not forget Sweetest Day on the 17th. (Your sweetheart will never forgive you!!) There is one really silly holiday to call to your attention: Count Your Buttons Day is October 21st. Aren't you excited!? The very first question you must be asking is "Why!?" Well, I don't know why. And, it might be better that we don't know. So here it is, staring you in the face; a wild and wacky day with absolutely no history to define its purpose for being. One might suggest that the creator of this wacky day was himself a bit wacky. Most likely, it was created by someone with a whole lot of free time on his hands. How do you celebrate this day? I suggest that if you have nothing better to do, you start counting your buttons. Otherwise, you may choose to move on with your life to something (anything) of greater importance.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

SEPTEMBER 2015
September is upon us! September is a hard month to find things for: it is the beginning of fall, but the trees are not turning everywhere; it is the beginning of school, but several states start in August; well, yes it is the beginning of football, and the end of baseball, some things the men will cheer. I have difficulty finding subject matter, so resort to a list of silly holidays. My favorite follows:

September 9th is Teddy Bear Day. A Teddy Bear is a special friend to children all over the world. He's cuddly. He makes you feel secure in an otherwise insecure world. He's lovable. Your Teddy Bear is both a companion and a comforter. And, he's not afraid of the dark. He'll keep you safe. Spend the day and night with your teddy bear. Cuddle up to him. Talk to him. And, do all of your favorite things together.
Parents and adults: No child should grow up without a teddy bear. If you know of any kid without one, use this day to buy a teddy bear for them. As we become adults, some find it difficult to give up our teddy bears. We feel there is no reason to give him up. Some adults have their teddy bears around all their lives. It's perfectly normal....and okay.

The Origin of the Teddy Bear:
During the early 1900s, President Theodore Roosevelt was in office as President of the United States. He was a hunter. While hunting in Mississippi in 1902, he refused to shoot a small bear. The Washington Post picked up on this story, and made a cartoon of the event. Toy store owners, Morris and Rose Michtom, wrote to President Roosevelt for permission to call their stuffed animals "Teddy Bears". Teddy bears became wildly popular. Their company went on to become the Ideal Toy Company, one of the largest toy companies in the world.

Other holidays [some silly, some not] are: 9/2 VJ Day, WWII; 9/5 Be Late for Something Day; 9/7 Labor Day; 9/10 Sewing Machine Day; 9/13 Grandparent's Day; 9/17 Apple Dumpling Day; 9/19 Oktoberfest; 9/25 Native American Day and 9/26 Johnny Appleseed Day. Enjoy your day and September, no matter what you celebrate.

We are again featuring photos from our recent trip to Nova Scotia for the month of September. Lobster trapping is the main industry there, so we will feature - of all things - lobster traps. More of Nova Scotia may be found in the Trips & Travels link.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

AUGUST 2015
Where has the summer gone? It's August, some children are back in school, and others will be by mid-month. What happened to the good old days of starting school after Labor Day? I think I ask that same question every August. Meanwhile, the East Coast which was rained out in June is now sweltering in late July and beginning of August. Will they hit a happy medium? I am certain the folks there hope so. I suffered through some of that wet misery in June by taking a tour of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Much of the time we experienced rain, or at least misting, clouds or fog, and voila! a couple of days of sunshine! Natives of that area complained of March weather at the end of June.

The people in the northeastern end of Canada, better known as the Maritime Provinces, were some of the nicest, friendliest people I have ever encountered. They would go out of their way to serve us, inquire how we were, find the right location, and just provide an unending wealth of information. Every guide was fully trained, informed and provided complete details about the site we were visiting. We saw the Hopewell Rocks on New Brunswick, where the tides can be 42 feet deep in the Bay of Fundy. We studied the types of seaweed there. A trip to the site of Anne of Green Gables - Lucy Maud Montgomery's home was included. Lighthouses are everywhere along the coastline as this is a very rocky and treacherous shoreline. We visited Peggy's Cove, a unique fishing village in St. Margaret's Bay, and the cemetery where those lost when the Titanic sank are buried. I am featuring some photos from our tours for the Photo of the Month and the Featured Series. Enjoy!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JULY 2015
Happy 4th of July! I hope you are having a great summer so far! In recognition of our Great Nation's independence and freedom, I have chosen photos that salute our flag and our military. I hope you enjoy them. In addition to those featured this month, you will find images of memorials to WWII, Korea, Iwo Jima, and military Nurses in our Notable Nods section.

My website includes a gallery called Mixed Myriad. In case you are not familiar with the word "myriad" it means countless, numerous or many. On the drop-down list under the Mixed Myriad section you will find a number of categories that you may not have visited. They include: As Walls Go (currently under construction); Black & White images; Churches & Spires which offers small country churches to big cathedrals; Neons & Special Effects - that one is self-explanatory; Reflections - consisting of both reflections in windows and water; Ruins which features many of the wonderful Indian ruins around Arizona, Utah and Colorado; Stills - an assortment that does not include landscapes; Trains - large & small; Tugboats from many different countries; and The Way it Was which offers a collection of old barns, corrals, and other rural scenes from long ago. Take a peek! You may find something new & interesting.

Please note that each gallery tab with a plus (+) sign has a number of categories under it. Under Flowers & Foliage, for instance, you will find not only gorgeous flowers but cacti, grasses and trees, and even a few weeds. Our Mountains, Canyons & Caverns is an extensive gallery featuring the mountains of Arizona as well as Colorado and other Western states; large canyons like the Grand Canyon, Canyon De Chelly, and beautiful Bryce in Utah. Notable Nods is another excellent gallery showcasing some of our national monuments. Check them out and see many new images. We add or change some every month as well as featuring a new Photo of the Month and a Featured Series of the Month. Remember that we sell our images as fine art and for stock photography.

Keep cool!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JUNE 2015
June is here! I hope that it is summer in your town! Arizona has had the most wonderful spring with temperatures that were low for May with delightful breezes in the afternoons. The cacti and flowering bushes and trees have outdone themselves. Admittedly, that is not good for those with pollen allergies, but they are beautiful to see and bring adoration for such beauty in this world.

Congratulations to all the recent graduates on the success of your endeavors. Good luck in your future plans. Don't forget to celebrate Father's Day and tell Dad how much he means to you. Thank him for all that he has provided for you and the love he has extended you. The 6th is a celebration of D-Day in 1944 during World War II. June 14th is Flag Day honoring our Stars and Stripes. Don't forget to fly the flag on those days.

I had a difficult time deciding what to present for our Photo of the Month and the Featured Series. I debated between images of Usery Mountain Park taken earlier in the year when the wild flowers were blooming, but not too many cacti, and my beautiful Cereus cactus, which has bloomed profusely several times this spring. I finally decided to use the Cereus as they are so beautiful. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

MAY 2015
How did May arrive so quickly? Seems like yesterday we were celebrating the New Year! May is the month of flowers in bloom; rainy, yet nice days; perhaps some severe weather left as Spring comes in like a Lion. We celebrate May Day on the 1st, Cinco de Mayo on the 5th, Nurses Day on the 6th (Nurses Week is the 6th through the 12th), National Teacher's Day on the 6th, VE Day WWII on the 8th, Mother's Day on the 10th, Armed Forces Day on the 16th, Memorial Day on the 25th and graduations. Congratulations to all, and have wonderful celebrations.

For May we are doing a study in highlights of natural lighting. I think you will enjoy some of the images I have prepared for you showing how the sun lit certain cacti or flowers that I photographed. Our Photo of the Month is a landscape of the Superstition Mountains highlighted by the sun just after a rain, with a Cholla in front of the mountains tipped with a little sun which had just broken through the clouds. Our Featured Series offers a beautiful Cereus with 40 blooms taken early in the morning so that the sun just strikes some of them; a small crown cactus with a pink blossom which just picks up the light; and an agave in bloom with the sun fully striking the yellow blossoms. These are some of my favorites, and I hope you enjoy them as well.

I have added another beautiful Cereus to the Beautiful Blossoms page, which features 11 blooms, and another of a spray of Buckeye Daisies. There are two new sunsets on the Sky Scenes, and two new images on the Churches and Spires page. There are four new mountain images on the Arizona Mountains page. All that should keep you happily exploring.

Until next month . . .

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

APRIL 2015
April and Spring have arrived! Arizona is awash with yellow blossoms - especially brilliant this year with all the winter rains. The Mesquite have bloomed, the Acacia and Tacoma are blooming, the Brittlebush are decorating the highways and desert areas, the Palo Verde are about to burst in blossom, and Mexican Poppies are dotting front yards and some desert terrains. On a desert walk today, I saw Prickly Pear just loaded with buds and in two weeks they will be bold with flowers. For those of you still bound in winter snow with tiny crocus peeping up through the white stuff, hopefully winter is done and you will see flowers soon.

I wish all of you a Happy Easter. Happy Passover to my Jewish friends. Later this month we will celebrate Earth Day, so get out there and enjoy those flowers, enjoy spring, revel in the rebirth of the Earth, and do some gardening.

This month we are featuring Southern Colorado with some shots of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and the Great Sand Dunes. In addition to the featured series and Photo of the Month, many more have been added to our Colorado Mountain page on the website. There are also two new wildflowers photos taken while traveling Colorado. They are a Lupine and a Rocky Mountain Bee Plant, complete with the bee. Check these out this month.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

MARCH 2015
It's March and we're headed down south to Tucson once more. This time we will feature some of the homes built in and around the Presidio of San Augustin del Tucson area. As mentioned previously, the Corbett House and many others were built in the Mission Revival style. We're offering a sampling of the area; there is much more to the older part of Tucson that we could show you, but suggest that you look at our Trips & Travels page to see further views of the area. And go visit Tucson!!

It's Lent, so do something good for someone. You should actually take on a chore rather than try to give up something . . . bad habits are hard to break, but if you can give up one so much the better. And Happy St. Patrick's Day!! We'll be wearing the green and raisin' a glass to you all.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

FEBRUARY 2015
Let's go to Tucson! It's just down the road apiece from Phoenix, and we haven't been there recently. Obscure Observations has offered selections from Israel lately, and paid little attention to the home state, so February will display the beginning of a series on Tucson. The Presidio of San Augustin del Tucson was established in August 1775 by the Spanish Army of Mexico and Fr. Francisco Garces of the San Xavier Mission. The railroad created tremendous growth after it was brought to the area in 1880. New homes such as the Corbett House, which will be shown in a future selection, were built in the Mission Revival style. This month, however, we are going to show some of the homes in the Barrio, which lies on the outskirts of the Presidio area.

Be sure to note the two new series of Kids at Play on the Kids & Kin Page. And some beautiful new flowers have been added on the Beautiful Blossoms and Wildflower pages.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JANUARY 2015
Happy New Year! I hope that 2015 will be a wonderful year for all of you, and that you may have health and happiness, find your dream job, travel to exotic places and do well monetarily!

From Holiday Insights comes this bizarre day: Festival of Sleep Day. "When: Always on January 3rd. No, you are not dreaming. But, perhaps you should be. Festival of Sleep Day is an opportunity to sleep in, snooze, doze, nap, and catch 40 winks. We feel this is the perfect date for Festival of Sleep Day. The holidays are over . . . Wow, weren't they exhausting! It's cold and snowy . . . time to hibernate. And, why not re-charge the batteries as a new year of school and work begins? It is a favorite holiday to catch up on a little sleep. Whether it's all day, a full 8 hours, or just a power nap, enjoy the day sleeping. Oh . . . don't forget your favorite stuffed animal. It's okay to sleep alone or with someone else. We do not recommend group sleeps."

"Caution: Sleeping at work is not recommended, today, or any day. The only exception is for mattress testers. Warning #2: The Surgeon General has determined that sleeping is good for your health."

There are many other bizarre days to celebrate including Fruitcake Toss Day, Bird Day, Bubblebath Day, Bean Day, Winnie the Pooh Day and Dress up Your Pet Day to name a few.

The one important holiday is Martin Luther King's Birthday, always celebrated on the third Monday of the month. Born on January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. grew to become one of the greatest Social Activists the world has ever known. At 35, he became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace prize. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968 while making a speech from the balcony of his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee. His birthday became a National Holiday by an act of Congress in 1983. Many consider it a day to serve your community.

Please view our new Photo of the Month and the Featured Series for January. They are giant hibiscus taken this fall in Alabama. Enjoy!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

DECEMBER 2014
December is here, and Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanza are all on the way. These are important religious holidays, but did you know how many other holidays are celebrated in December? Many are just ridiculous, but some have merit based on tradition and history. I'll provide you with a short list because if I gave you the entire list, it would be Easter before you finished!!! December 6th is St. Nicholas Day, celebrated in some European countries; December 7th is the Battle of Pearl Harbor; December 9th is traditionally Christmas Card Day when people strived to have all their cards in the mail; December 12th is Poinsettia Day; December 16th is Chanukah; December 21st is both Humbug Day (I assume most of us are ready to throw in the towel having shopped till we dropped, ordered online, and decorated our homes), and it is the shortest day of the year [Winter Solstice]. December 25th is Christmas, the celebration of our Savior's birth. December 26th is Boxing Day in England (you'll have to ask someone from the UK what that really is) and it is also Kwanzaa. Of course, the 31st is New Year's Eve. Some of the other really weird holidays are National Roast Suckling Pig Day, Go Look for Evergreens Day, Festivas and for those who just plain overdo it there is National Bicarbonate of Soda Day (predecessor to Alka Seltzer and all those gastritis meds we have now). Whatever and however you celebrate, I wish you a Merry Christmas, and a happy, prosperous, and peaceful 2015.

I think I'll round out the year with a few more pictures of Israel, since at this time of the year Israel and Bethlehem possess special meaning. I hope you have enjoyed viewing our series of Israel and that you will continue to join us throughout 2015.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

NOVEMBER 2014
November is a month of celebrations beginning with All Saints Day on the 1st, and including the Marine Corps birthday on November 10th, Veterans Day on the 11th and Thanksgiving on the 25th. There is usually an election, whether local or federal, and this year it is on the 4th. Hopefully you voted! It is also Native American Heritage Month and Peanut Butter Lovers Month. Some silly day celebrations are Deviled Egg Day on the 2nd and Saxophone Day on the 6th. Don't forget Sadie Hawkins Day on the 13th.

This month I am returning to pictures of Israel. I am featuring the ruins of Bet She'an, which is the largest ongoing archeological dig in Israel. It is a mammoth site, and was established during the reign of King Saul. Saul was murdered by the Philistines along with his sons, and their bodies hung on the walls of the city. What they have uncovered there is fantastic and fascinating; the walls that remain are strong, the pillars huge, the bath houses and pools deep. There is more to be excavated! The photo of the month is a Pomegranate, found growing on the grounds of Bet She'an. The Featured Series are of the massive walls and pillars found there. It's an exciting place for you who enjoy digs to visit.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

OCTOBER 2014
October is the month of Orange. The leaves of many trees turn orange; the harvest display is often interspersed with the orange colors of pumpkins and varieties of squash; the orange of cumquats, oranges and tangerines which ripen in the fall. Since pumpkins abound in the fall harvest, they are an essential item for Halloween decorations. Carved into weird designs and faces they are found everywhere during the season. What's left, of course, is used to make delicious pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving. There are many varieties of flower also blooming in orange shades in the fall season - mums and chrysanthemums come to mind, as do Treasure plants and Ganzania.

We are featuring some pumpkins, of course, and some fall flowers in shades of orange. Enjoy the fall. Enjoy the beauty of the last blooms before winter, the fall foliage and most of all the harvest. Happy Halloween and Happy Harvest!!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

SEPTEMBER 2014
It is September at last! The weather has started to cool down some; the daylight hours are definitely shorter; and the house is quieter with kids in school. It isn't autumn yet, just that pleasant interlude between summer and fall.

While I have promised to continue providing images of Israel, I thought I would break it up some and show you some gorgeous flower shots taken in Alberta, Canada in 2013. I am featuring several varieties with varying degrees of darkened backgrounds causing the flowers to stand out more. Among those featured are Queen Anne's Lace, day lilies and daisies. I hope you enjoy these.

May your September be pleasant and filled with fun. Enjoy the end of baseball, the real beginning of football, have some family picnics, enjoy the water park once more, get out the door and breathe some fresh air. Until next time . . .

AUGUST 2014
August already! It's a hot, muggy one in Arizona. We are, fortunately, getting a lot of rain this Monsoon season. Not to dwell on Arizona and its weather, I am taking you to Israel again to show you some more of the highlights from my recent trip there. So glad to have gone before the current strife started!

The pictures this month were taken at the Sea of Galilee. What a beautiful place to sail; we sailed across the length of the Sea, which is not very big, and saw the place where Jesus spoke to the fishermen calling them to be disciples. On board we were treated to a net throwing demonstration showing how the ancient fishermen would cast their nets. We also visited the museum called Yigal Allon Centre and saw the Ancient Galilee Boat which is 2000 years old. A very interesting movie depicting the process by which the boat was removed from the mud of the Sea of Galilee was shown. I'll feature a few more next month. Until then, keep cool.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JULY 2014
Forgive the delay in getting the Orations and Photo of the Month out for July. This photographer has been wrapped up in migrating to a new computer. My website ready photo and video files took up 80 GB all by themselves, and there were other photo files and numerous correlating documents to be transferred as well. Finally it is done, and we can get back to business! I will not even comment on the heat of July or the holiday we have passed; but I will offer another selection of images from Israel.

This group of images is from the ruins at Caesarea Maritima along the Mediterranean coast, northward from Tel Aviv. Herod built a huge complex there in honor of the Caesars, who ruled at that time. Featured here are the hippodrome, where they ran the chariot races and gladiators fought; the palace ruins in the harbor area; the harbor Herod built, and an external view of a huge amphitheater.

More next time; until then . . .

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JUNE 2014
It's June! It's hot! Fathers will melt on Father's Day and brides will wither in their wedding gowns. Not unusual for Arizona in June. Hope the weather is somewhat cooler wherever you are.

We just returned from a wonderful, jam-packed 9 day tour of the Holy Land. Their temperatures resemble Arizona's closely but with added humidity. I don't think the temperature exceeded 90 degrees while we were there but we could feel the humidity. What a glorious trip! How fascinating and spiritual to be where Jesus walked and taught and to see where He was crucified and buried! How interesting to learn the history of the area with Roman occupation, and then the Byzantine period, during which many of the sites of Jesus time were found. How neat to sail on the Sea of Galilee, and see a 2000 yr. old boat which had been retrieved from the Sea of Galilee. The excavations are truly remarkable, and each year more are found. There were many interesting places to visit, many temples and churches, all beautiful in their own right. This month I am featuring some of the gorgeous domes of those churches. I will continue to bring you more sights and scenes in the ensuing months.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

MAY 2014
Out in eastern Arizona, there is a little town called Safford, a quiet but pretty place. It lies in the Gila Valley surrounded by the Gila Mountains and the Pinaleno Mountains with view of other nearby ranges. The mountains are featured this month, and I have chosen Mt. Graham, located in the Pinaleno Mountains, as my Picture of the Month. Mt. Graham reaches 10,720 feet (3,267 m) in height. It is the highest elevation in Graham County, Coronado National Forest and the Pinaleno Mountains. Located near the northern limit of the Chiricahua Apache homeland and the southern margins of Western Apache territory, the range is one of the Western Apache's four holiest mountains and is considered sacred by all of the region's Native peoples.

Mount Graham, with some of the clearest skies in the world, is home to the Mount Graham International Observatory area, where multiple organizations have set up large telescopes in a few separate observatories authorized by a rare peace-time Congressional waiver of U.S. environmental laws. Some of our photos, however, show Mt. Graham under the clouds, following a rain storm.

In the Gila Valley is grown some of the world's finest Pima cotton. The fields stretch for miles bearing the white tufts for which Arizona is famous. Too bad so many of our cotton fields have given way to housing developments for the ever-growing population of Arizona. I am featuring some of those fields in this month's Featured Series. Go visit this part of my world, and traverse on down to the Chiricahua Mountains south of there.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

APRIL 2014
Spring has sprung and April is here! In some places spring is not so nice and winter's grasp is still holding on, plunging yet one more storm onto the East Coast. We are fortunate here in Arizona to have great weather and lovely temperatures; no wonder our snowbirds visit regularly. Our butterflies are regular visitors too and I consider them among the harbingers of spring. The Monarchs have made their trek from Mexico northward, and we are blessed with their beautiful orange and black wings. However, we have over 350 varieties of butterfly in Arizona, so our series features a few different kinds this month. I hope you enjoy viewing these spectacular creatures. If you would like to see more, click on the link Animal Antics link on the left, and then on the Fliers, Flitters and Floaters sub-link.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

MARCH 2014
March has blustered in! It's windy, it's rainy, and then it's suddenly nice and sunny! It is what I consider to be a strange month - it isn't spring but it isn't winter. Some cool-weather bulbs have pushed their way through the soil, and an occasional daffodil can be seen, often poking its way through snow. Because it is such an indecisive month, I was indecisive about what to show for the photo of the month and the featured series. Suddenly the idea struck me to do something fun - something not normally featured on Obscure Observations. I have fun doing special effects on some photos, and have a series featuring applications such as bubble wrap, or glowing edges or turning the whole picture into entirely something else by using the neon effect. Our photo of the month is a cactus in bloom, on which I used the neon effect. Our featured series includes a cereus cactus with glowing edges; a daylily using the neon effect, and a rose using the neon effect. Be sure to view some other neons and glowing edges by looking under Mixed Myriad and clicking on the Neon and Special Effects link. Hope you in the East get thawed out, and have a nice Spring!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

FEBRUARY 2014
So the groundhog saw his shadow? Six more weeks of winter they say. Believe me, I really feel sorry for those folks living anywhere east and southeast of here. Atlanta had drivers stranded for hours, Louisiana doesn't have salt and no truck to spread it if they did, and the upper East Coast has just had bone chilling temperatures. I don't miss that and am delighted to say I live in Arizona. We have snow here too, but usually not so bad. This year has been pretty dry for us and we could use the moisture in the mountains. Enough of the lament . . .

February has many holidays - some well-known and some unknown. The most popular of course is Valentine's Day, so for all you lovers out there - Happy Valentine's Day! Then of course there is Groundhog Day, but that poor groundhog knows not what he does. Hate to break the charm of the prediction, but it all depends on whether the sun is shining that day or not. Then there is the Super Bowl and all its trappings. What a spectacle that can be. Not to forget our illustrious presidents, Lincoln and Washington, whose birthdays we celebrate. And remember, February is Black History Month. With that in mind, the photos of the month feature some of the wonderful and beautiful black women I have been fortunate enough to photograph. Click on our Smart & Sassy link to see other selections. Enjoy!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JANUARY 2014
Happy New Year! This is a new year, a new start. Fresh ideas; new possibilities! Sweep the old cobwebs from your brain and let in the new thoughts. Face new challenges with fortitude; throw out your old fears. Hopefully, the new year will bring happiness, new opportunities and good health to you all.

For January I decided not to do the snow scenes promised in December. The Eastern half of the US is cold enough and the news has provided many views of frozen landscapes and snow scenes! Instead, we are featuring an array of sunrises and sunsets. The sunsets represent closing out 2013, and the sunrises bring 2014 in brightly. These are different sunrises and sunsets than featured in previous months. Please enjoy them; may they help brighten your day. Let us know if we can fulfill an order for you so that they may also brighten your home or work place.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

DECEMBER 2013
This month we are taking you to Niagara Falls, on the Canadian-U.S. Border. The photographs were taken on the Canadian side. It was a cold, cloudy, rainy day, and if these don't fit the December chill, nothing does. The Photo of the Month is American Falls in all its full-flowing power. The Featured Series are of Horseshoe Falls, which is considered the Canadian falls; a shot of both American and Bridal Falls, which are side-by-side and also shows the Maid of the Mist rocking in the strong current created by the falls; and finally a billowing shot of the rocks at the bottom of the falls. Can you imagine someone going over the falls in a barrel and landing in those huge boulders?? I seriously doubt if they would live through it! This was an enjoyable excursion; obviously a must see attraction while you are in upper New York state. Even though the falls have eroded over the years from the constant flow of water, they are still spectacular!

Join us again in January for some Arizona snow scenes. Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanza! May your holidays be blessed, bountiful and bright, and may your New Year bring happiness and fulfillment.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

NOVEMBER 2013
Cruising around Northern Arizona the last week of October, I found fall had come and gone at the higher elevations! Instead there were barren limbs resembling spooky ghoulish creatures. Some Aspen remained a flash of brilliant yellow among the Ponderosa. Sort of fitting for Halloween week. Midway down the mountain - about 5000 feet - fall had really come to stay. The Sycamore and Poplar were radiant shades of orange and red. The cottonwood were paler shades of yellow. By the end of the week, the leaves at that elevation were also disappearing. In the Valley of the Sun, however, the leaves are still mostly green; the cooler temperatures just beginning to come at night. Fall will not arrive in the desert until mid-December. That's the beauty of Arizona - fall can be found in different stages for a long period of time.

Our featured series of photos for November are of course fall shots. A few stands of Aspen found at higher elevations, a softly yellowed grassy meadow in the middle of the forest and a shot of Chevelon Canyon from the edge of the canyon. The photo of the month is a brilliantly red poplar found in downtown Payson. I hope you enjoy the color!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

OCTOBER 2013
We are continuing our tour of Alberta, Canada, and Glacier National Park for October. What a delightful time I have had reviewing the nearly 600 photos taken on that trip and reliving it. This month I am featuring some of the waterways we saw. The Photo of the Month is a picture of a Bald Eagle, taken from the boat while cruising the Middle Waterton Lake. We sighted several eagles on that cruise, but only two were photographable, and I managed several shots of this one. The Featured Series exemplifies Lunch Creek on the Road to the Sun in Glacier National Park; Pass Creek which is in Waterton National Park near Blackstone Falls, and Cameron Falls, which is also in Waterton National Park. Cameron Falls forms an "H" because of the unusual slots in the rock wall it flows next to. These slots and jagged rocks cause it to spray out at unusual places. I found it fascinating.

We'll have a few more photos from this trip for November I am sure. Meanwhile, enjoy the coolness of October, and have a Happy Halloween.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

SEPTEMBER 2013
Just back from a wonderful 10-day tour of southern Alberta and Glacier National Park, Montana. This is some of the most beautiful country in the Western Hemisphere and you really have to see it. This was our second trip into Montana, but the first to travel so extensively in Alberta. Pictures this month are from the beginning of the trip, and I am sure we will have several months featuring Alberta. We began our tour in the Banff and Jasper area, and on our way to the Columbia Icefield and the glaciers we drove along the Bow River. We were allowed to exit our Snobus and walk on the Athabasca Glacier. That was pretty cool (literally and figuratively). We went on a gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain and looked down on Banff. After two days in that area, we drove to Cardston, where Chateau Isabella was our home for the rest of the tour. Chief Mountain, which is sacred to the Blackfeet Indians, is in direct line with the Chateau and we could see its strange shape. It is an upside down mountain, having been turned over during some severe upheavals, and is very unstable.

We will continue our touring next month. Meanwhile stay cool . . .

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

AUGUST 2013
August isn't especially a spectacular month. Many students return to school in August - whatever happened to going back after Labor Day? It is still hot, often filled with storms, the flowers dwindle, but the crops begin to come in and many fruits and vegetables are ready for harvest. Maybe it has some redeeming qualities. In order to give August some "life" our photo of the month and featured series display some of the macro shots of flowers I have been taking recently, as well as some new shots taken with my Lensbaby lenses. These lenses offer a clear focal point (sweet spot) and an intentional blur around that sweet spot. The sweet spot may not always be centered, but can be to the left or right, upper or lower areas, depending on the photographer and what he/she is trying to show. I have been having a lot of fun doing this, and came out with some interesting shots. Enjoy!

And on a completely different theme - we are featuring our series from the Arches National Park In Utah. Click here to go to the Arches site.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JULY 2013
While I am perhaps more patriotic than most, this year I am going to say "Happy Fourth of July" and let it go at that. No images dedicated to the red, white & blue. This year I am featuring a series that makes my summer happy - hummingbirds! They are delicate creatures of beauty and watching them flock to the feeder every day brings ultimate joy to my family and me. We have learned the various species indigenous to Arizona; we know when it is mating season and watch for the babies to take wing and come to the feeder. There is a large resident Allen hummingbird with beautiful markings and he sits and guards the feeder, letting some drink, but for the most part chasing away all intruders. Sometimes they play games and chase each other in rolling loops and dives and then flit away from the tree; he returns and assumes his post. Unlike the Anna hummingbirds I have photographed as well, there are never more than two on this feeder. The Anna allow as many as four to land and feed together. So whatever bird you watch, whether it be the hummingbirds or our national symbol the eagle, enjoy your time with them. They are among the most beautiful of God's creatures.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JUNE 2013
What can you say about June? It's summer. Hot, muggy, full of thunderstorms, tornadoes, floods and devastation. But I like to think of it in more common celebratory terms; it is the month of commencement; the month of weddings; and it is the month of Father's Day. So, of course, we are going to include fathers this month in our featured series and photo of the month. From new fathers with newborn babies, to those with tots and toddlers, to those with teens, and to those who have finally become grandfathers, our hats are off to all of you. To those brave men who have reared girls delighting in their first hugs, their first ballet shoes, their first boy friends, and finally giving them away at their wedding - it was never simple, but it was worth it. And to those who have had boys, to whom they could relate at least a little better; who survived T-ball; tag football, Kung Fu lessons, high school and college sports and finally their weddings, stand proud Dad, you did it. Hats off to all Dads, from new to grand.

Please don't forget to fly your flag on June 14th as it is Flag Day. Remember those dads who are serving in foreign countries for your freedom. Give them a special salute of thanks.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

MAY 2013
It's May, and of course, my first thought is Happy Mother's Day to all mothers and grandmothers everywhere. While I do feature many mothers and children in my stock offerings, I didn't find one that I particularly wanted to feature this month. Surprisingly, my choices for this month are bridges. I have always enjoyed photographing bridges, for some reason; I find them interesting. Perhaps it is the challenge of building such great spans as the Golden Gate Bridge, or the Crescent City Connection at New Orleans, or even the small footbridge spanning a creek. The engineering is amazing on many of them. And yet, bridges are not so far fetched for Mother's Day. Mothers are like a bridge, the steel girder that holds the span that allows you to progress from babyhood to adulthood. Mother is the bridge that holds you up while you learn to walk and talk; and then muddle your way through endless years of school. She is still there, bridging the gaps in those teen years, lending her support when her child appears about to fall in; keeping them above water. And on through your life, you can always depend on Mom. Yes, Moms are truly the bridges of life. God Bless them everywhere!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

APRIL 2013
Obscure Observations is proud to announce that the company has received accreditation from the Better Business Bureau of Arizona. This is a prodigious award and I am proud to have earned it. My thanks to my customers over the last 10 years who provided feedback on my work and who have made earning the accreditation even more worthwhile.

Our featured photo this month is one of my favorite shots of Blue Ridge Reservoir which lies north of Strawberry, AZ. Originally dug out as a water source by Phelps Dodge for mines in that area, it has become a great recreational lake. It doesn't have much of a shoreline, so fishing is done from rocky boulder seats or your boat. There are many paddling canoes on the lake and a few rowboats, but the fisherman far outnumber the paddlers. Many take their dogs along in the boat or canoe as you can see from one of the Featured Series.

Looking forward to many summer days at Blue Ridge Reservoir. Peace from the desert . . . Karen

MARCH 2013
It's March. Spring is here. Is spring here? It is the month of indecisive weather; of rain and blustery days; of balmy and sunny days; of cloudy, cool, even snowy days followed by warmer temps melting off whatever fell. The flowers bloom, but they may get frozen. March marches to its own beat, and as the saying goes often "comes in like a lion, but goes out like a lamb" as we wend our way toward Easter. Passover begins March 26th for my Jewish friends. Easter is the last day of March this year, a high holy day for my Christian friends. A day of celebration and renewal and rejoicing.

We are featuring, what else, Easter lilies as our featured series and photo of the month. These were taken at the Bellingrath Gardens near Mobile, Alabama. Enjoy! Happy Spring! A blessed Passover and a most blessed Easter!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

FEBRUARY 2013
February is the month of Love and the color red. It is also the month of Purple. Those who are born in February have an amethyst as their birthstone, which is of purple hue. Their flower is the violet. This February we are featuring a bouquet of purple flowers to celebrate those born this month. Understandably, purple is often the favorite color of Aquarians.

Other February facts: Groundhog Day is celebrated on February 2nd. Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth on February 6, 1952. On February 10, 1962, Astronaut John Glen Jr. became the first American to orbit the earth. Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. On February 14, 1859 Oregon became the 33rd state to join the Union and Arizona become 48th state on the same day in 1912. The U. S. acquired the Florida territory from Spain on February 22, 1819. Of course, we also celebrate Valentine's Day, George Washington's birthday, and Black History Month during February. And February is the most misspelled month.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JANUARY 2013
Happy New Year! I hope that your Christmas was peaceful, bountiful and enjoyable. Some of you had a "white" Christmas, which probably isn't nearly as much fun as the movie of the same name, especially if you are driving in a blowing snow, or blowing snow off the ever re-covering driveway. Here's to a prosperous and healthy New Year for all of you.

As promised last month, we are again featuring some of our Aquatic Finds, with the hope that you will be as awestruck as we were seeing them. These photographs were taken by Karen Neuberg, owner of Obscure Observations Photography on a recent trip to the Monterey California Aquarium. Below is an excerpt from Wickipedia, describing the seadragons:

The leafy seadragon or Glauert's seadragon, Phycodurus eques, is a marine fish in the family Syngnathidae, which also includes the seahorses. It is the only member of the genus Phycodurus. It is found along the southern and western coasts of Australia. The name is derived from the appearance, with long leaf-like protrusions coming from all over the body. These protrusions are not used for propulsion; they serve only as camouflage. The leafy seadragon propels itself by means of a pectoral fin on the ridge of its neck and a dorsal fin on its back closer to the tail end. These small fins are almost completely transparent and difficult to see as they undulate minutely to move the creature sedately through the water, completing the illusion of floating seaweed.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

DECEMBER 2012
Hello December! I can't really believe that we are in the last month of 2012. It seems like the year just started and here we are ending it. I hope that it has been a good year for you, and that 2013 will find you prosperous and healthy. Have a wonderful holiday season whichever way you celebrate it. Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas! Happy Kwanza! Happy New Year! And don't forget to pay some respect to veterans on Pearl Harbor Day.

This month we are featuring a new series called Aquatic Finds. During our recent trip to Portland, we stopped at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is huge. The most fascinating finds were jellyfish of all colors, sizes and shapes. I am featuring them this month in our Picture of the Month and the Featured Series. I think you will find them as fascinatingly beautiful and I did. They can be bad news to swimmers in the ocean, however. The best thing is to enjoy them in an aquarium and not be swimming with them. Next month, we will feature more of our Aquatic Finds.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

NOVEMBER 2012
'Tis November! Month of thanksgiving in many forms, including of course Thanksgiving Day, with its church services, huge family dinners, overeating, the Macy Parade and football. Pause and give thanks for what you have. It has begun as a month of fury with the hurricane hitting the Eastern seaboard. Hopefully, those in harm's way will be able to evacuate and not lose their possessions. May it die down peacefully and the rest of the month become the beautiful fall month we all hope for.

We are exploring more of the rose gardens I have visited lately this month. Just can't stay away from presenting these beautiful blossoms to you. Featured this month are some from my own area at the community college garden nearby, and one from the elaborate garden in Portland. I do hope you enjoy then as much as I do. We've put new pricing into effect, so you will enjoy some savings when you order prints.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

OCTOBER 2012
It's early fall, but winter seems to be hitting some of the higher elevations, at least out here in the West. Denver has flurries predicted; the Upper California and Oregon coasts have a lot of fog and rain. Chicago friends report it is getting cold. While Arizona is still sunny, I thought I would brighten some of the other areas with some beautiful roses. Having visited a number of rose gardens and arboretums this year, I have an abundance of photos and would like to share a few with you. Believe me, the choice was not easy!

Next month, I will probably display some of the images from my recent trip up the Coast to Portland. It was misty and foggy and in some areas, the leaves were turning. A view of fall which we seldom get in Arizona. Until then . . .

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

SEPTEMBER 2012
Welcome to September - the weather is still very warm in most parts of the country. I am suggesting getting out and doing things that will keep you cool. Swimming, water parks, carnivals or amusement parks are a few things you can do. With that in mind we are featuring a local train park, the Adobe Mountain Train Park, which will give rides to the public beginning after Labor Day. The entire park and all the trains, tracks, buildings and accessories have been built by a group of men devoted to their hobby. If you live in Arizona, this would be a great way to spend part of your weekend and the breeze riding the moving train would cool you off some. I really enjoyed riding it with my family and friends and took many pictures enroute. Hope you enjoy your September.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

AUGUST 2012
I've been Mariposa hunting; or in French, Papillion hunting. Over the years I have photographed a great number of butterflies and have managed to get some great shots of them. I thought it was about time I shared some. I wear a lot of butterfly jewelry and someone once asked if a butterfly was my totem. I guess it is; to me a butterfly symbolizes freedom, change and beauty. There is a play entitled "Butterflies are Free" and that has always stuck in my mind; but to be free they have to go through one of the most complicated metamorphoses imaginable...spinning that cocoon and changing from that somewhat homely caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. Their freedom is short-lived for they don't have a long life span, but they travel far and wide during that time fluttering about, pollinating flowers and bringing beauty to our gardens. They are a curiosity to children, a delight to nature lovers, and it is said if you are "kissed" by a butterfly you will have good luck. A line I have now adopted for my own is "if nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies."

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JULY 2012
Well, it is July, and it is hotter than blazes in Arizona. Of course, the end of June and first part of July are always this way until we finally get some monsoon rains. It's hotter than usual this year. What concerns me most are the fires we've had throughout Arizona and New Mexico, now in Utah, California and the really bad one outside of Colorado Springs, CO. That's my hometown, and many friends and relatives are still there. A niece and a good friend have evacuated their homes, and a cousin may be out of her home soon. She is packing. Please remember to be extra careful on the 4th of July this year. Everything is so dry; even the Midwest is hot and dry. Don't shoot off fireworks, watch those campfires if you can find an area to camp, and put out cigarettes completely. The winds are bad and will cause the smallest spark to become a roaring blaze.

July pictures will be a little more festive than forest fires with the hope of raising a small glimmer of memory for each of you. How about a circus? The Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus is always in Arizona in July. I love the pageantry, the elephants and the high wire acts. Enjoy your summer!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JUNE 2012
Thinking back over the photographs I have featured over the last five years, it occurred to me that I have never featured the Grand Canyon. I wondered why? I have photographed it a few times and actually liked many of the photos I took; I made it into an exclusive series; but I have never featured it on the website. Perhaps because there are so many photographs of the Grand Canyon; perhaps because every photographer, from amateur to professional, has photographed it and shown off their photographs. Perhaps it was in keeping with my tagline "We Don't offer the Obvious" and after all, the company name is Obscure Observations. However, no matter how many times you see it, or how many times you see photographs of it, it is never the same. The shadows are always changing, highlighting different places on the deep formations; the sunrise is never the same, again highlighting different places on the formations. The same is true of sunset. There is that moment at sunrise or sunset when the world is blue; and you have to be there to capture it. These are the moments that bring us back to the Grand Canyon, again and again. Its fascinating lighting, the shadows; its coloration, the many hues of red sandstone; its fascinating sculptured rock formed by the great waterway many miles below, the Colorado River. So visit it often and resound its glory. I for one will never tire of seeing it. I hope you feel the same.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

MAY 2012
April showers bring May flowers so they say!! Are they blooming in your area? It has been a very strange winter & spring thus far. I know some areas were warm all winter and things were blooming way too early!! Of course, the dessert blooms early and it has been a sea of yellow blossoms for a month. Arizona has had a beautiful spring. The heat has hit - we were at 100 for three days, but we're cooling off for a bit now. It is a little early for 100 degrees!! Enjoy your spring wherever you live!

Don't forget Mom on May 13th! Congratulations to all the grads this month! Your hard work has paid off. Now on to bigger and better things! Remember to honor our service men and women all the time, but especially on Memorial Day!!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

APRIL 2012
Happy Easter! It is nearing quickly and we look forward to learning of the insurrection and to the celebration of the Resurrection. I hope that your Spring is rich in wondrous flower blossoms, sprouting and blooming trees, days of sunshine, and a little rain now and then. The desert is ablaze in yellow. The Mesquite trees have blossomed with their furry little balls and the Palo Verde are beginning to bloom profusely. The Acadia and Brittlebush flower in brilliant yellow. Here and there a blaze of red or pink from the abundant bougainvillea. You would think from that we would have spring flowers to show you this month . . . and we are. We are featuring poppies from our desert. Beautiful, bountiful, sustainable yellow poppies. Enjoy!!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

MARCH 2012
You may not like walls as much as I do, but they have personality. I'm speaking of old walls here, not these new ones that surround the yards in every neighborhood and make you feel imprisoned. Old walls have character: blotches of old mortar, cracks through which vines or other foliage grow, or evidence of an old advertisement painted on it eons ago. They display something of the past, a history of the area, or time-forgotten items that were sold in the local apothecary. Old walls are mostly of brick - red, deeper reds, some pinkish in tone, but symmetrically equal and consistent in size. The walls may lean a little now, but as we grow older so do we. Old walls feature gardens in front of them; an occasional bench where one can muse the character of that wall, or perhaps they show evidence that another building existed in that space at one time. They make you wonder just what that building could have been.

Our Picture of the Month for March is from the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park in New Orleans. The walls surrounding this small park (one of two parts of Jean Lafitte National Historic Park), are cracked and patched, whitewash is peeling, and in many places the underlying bricks are showing through. Yet it is a charming place to sit and rest after strolling the French Quarter. One of the Featured Series of the Month is also in the same park in New Orleans. Another is from the town of Ft. Collins, Colorado, depicting an old advertisement from long ago, and showing beautiful hollyhocks in front. The third is from the town of Jerome, AZ, where possibly an old building was razed, leaving high walls to support the buildings above. Jerome is built up the side of a mountain, so the walls are necessary support. The open area has been converted to a small resting spot.

Now you know why I like walls. I hope this inspires you to study the next old building you pass and see what the wall tells you.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

FEBRUARY 2012
February - the month of Valentines and love potions, and presidents' birthdays, and more winter. And then there is the ground hog . . . do you think he will see his shadow this month? The campaign is gearing up, and the primaries are starting. We have a lot of ballyhoo and hot air to listen to in the next few months. Maybe it will melt some of that snow.

On a quieter note I am going to present you with photos of some of Arizona's lakes, taken on a recent, very quiet drive from Canyon Lake to Apache Lake to Roosevelt Lake. It is winter, but the desert still has a certain appeal and beauty. It's a little desolate, and it was cloudy that day, but the Navajo sandstone still showed its colors and gave some pretty shots. And next to mountain scenery, there is just nothing more photographic than a lake.

Happy winter. Happy Valentine's Day. Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JANUARY 2012
Happy New Year! The old year has been shoved aside - almost a dim memory. The new year lies bright ahead. Whatever your resolutions, make the most of all the new year has to offer. Good health, plentiful food, a wealth of family and friends and an end to financial difficulties are wished for you.

This month's Photo of the Month and Featured Series highlight Alaska and some of the beautiful mountain scenes of snowy Alaska. The glacier's blue ice is the absence of color absorption - it is so dense that blue is the only color it reflects. Our Photo of the Month is Mt. McKinley (Denali). A different view of that beautiful, 20,000 foot peak - cloudless. A rare sight! Enjoy!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

DECEMBER 2011
Winding down to the end of this year, winding up for Christmas shopping and spinning my wheels on what to get for whom. It suddenly occurred to me that I should get moving since it is now December!! The end of another year; the last month before we kiss 2011 good-bye; approaching the 12th year of the Millennium and we are still here. With all the hubbub, I couldn't get too wound up in snow or scenes of the season; so I went back through my files and found some great reflections to share this month. They should inspire your thoughts of spring and help you forget the winter blahs. All were taken at different lakes but exhibit the beauty of reflections in water. I hope you enjoy them. And in the true spirit of the season, may you have a blessed Christmas, a wonderful Holiday season, and a fresh start for the New Year! See you in 2012!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

NOVEMBER 2011
Is fall really upon us? It was cool here in the metropolitan Phoenix area today, and we actually had a light snow at Snow Bowl. Colorado got their first of the season the last couple of days. Hopefully, fall is here and Halloween will not be 100 for the little trick or treaters. I decided not to show photos from Chicago this month. Since we were up hunting in the high country, where fall actually arrived, I thought I would give you a view of one of the prettier areas near Strawberry. The trees were turning and there were many places where I just had to stop and take a picture. Some of those will follow. This month please enjoy the Strawberry Field series. You may also check my blog periodically for additional pictures. That link is http://obscure-observations.blogspot.com

I hope you enjoyed the Little Ballet Girl portraits through the surprise link for September and October. Our surprise link for November and December is to Arches National Park. Utah is some of the most beautiful country in the world. Hope you enjoy this series.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

OCTOBER 2011
Heat go away! October has arrived and Arizona is still hotter than blazes! The weatherman promises it will cool off soon . . . we can only hope he is right!! We have had Halloweens that were 100 degrees. Hoping this is not another of those years! The gremlins and goblins will melt.

As promised, the photos this month feature more Chicago shots. The statue of Marilyn Monroe is a real hit there - she is a circulating display which will be shown 8 to 9 months and then be moved to another city and replaced in Chicago by something else. The day we arrived in Chicago it rained; the news that evening showed people standing under the statue using her skirt as an umbrella. Well, she's big enough to protect several people at once. Fun downtown stops on the Trolley included Marilyn, well-known scrapers, and the Rain Forest Cafe. It has to be the largest frog in town. But then, everything in Chicago is big.

Maybe next month, we'll feature some fall color from Arizona!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

SEPTEMBER 2011
Here we are in September - how did it arrive so fast?? Having just returned from nearly three weeks on the road, I guess that accounts for why it is suddenly September. It was barely mid-August when I left. This was definitely a reunion tour as I visited many near & dear "old" friends from Colorado to Illinois. I did not photograph the corn fields in Nebraska and Iowa or Southern Illinois. And I hope not to see another corn field for a very long time. I did photograph Chicago and some of the surrounding area. I played tourist and did a boat tour down the Chicago River, visited Navy Pier and other sites of interest, and then took a day-long trolley tour on which I was able to get on and off at will, and photograph what I chose to visit. It was hectic, but fun. I'll be posting some photos of the "Windy City" soon.

Wishing you a great beginning to a balmy fall.

Late September Update:
As you can see, I have posted some photos from Chicago. The series called "Towers of Reflection" shows reflections of other buildings in the windows of the opposite skyscraper. With all the scrapers in Chicago, there are many reflections to be seen. I will post other Chicago shots for October. Have you heard that Marilyn Monroe is on display there?

Delve deeper into Obscure Observations' sites! Periodically, we will feature a surprise link to photos you may not have discovered yet. See Little Ballet Girl.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

AUGUST 2011
August is here! Where has summer flown? To be sure, it is not over yet; there are the dog days of summer to face and the heat wave in the Midwest and on the East Coast does not appear to be lessening. The heat this year is unbearable in most of the USA, even surpassing those 100 plus days we have here in Arizona. Arizona sends its condolences to the rest of the country! I considered giving you a snow scene to cool you off, but decided to post some of the beautiful flowers I photographed in New Orleans and along the Gulf in Mobile, AL. So enjoy - think spring, not summer. The roses were bountiful, the hydrangea delightful, the magnolia magnificent, and the hibiscus were brilliant.

A fun note from Wikipedia: A 2008 USDA study shows consuming hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure in a group of pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults. Three cups of tea daily resulted in an average drop of 8.1 point in their systolic blood pressure, compared to a 1.3 point drop in the volunteers who drank the placebo beverage. Study participants with higher blood pressure readings (129 or above) had a greater response to hibiscus tea: their systolic blood pressure went down by 13.2 points. These data support the idea that drinking hibiscus tea in an amount readily incorporated into the diet may play a role in controlling blood pressure, although more research is required.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JULY 2011
Happy 4th! Celebrate our independence and your freedom wisely. It is something never to be taken for granted! Be careful with fireworks - our forests are ablaze now and don't need any more sparks to start another fire!

Our featured photos are from New Orleans again this month. They are all photos of street musicians on Bourbon Street mid-day. The NOPD closes Bourbon Street and allows them to entertain. Catch the expressions on the faces in our Photo of the Month. This was a completely candid shot. Enjoy!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JUNE 2011
I don't deal in politics, but I do deal in patriotism. In view of the events of the past month and the death of Osama Bin Laden, I am rerunning a photograph taken after 9/11 when the planes first started flying again. You will remember they had been grounded for several days after the destruction of the Towers and partial destruction of the Pentagon. When I saw this plane flying above the three crosses of a church I was photographing, I was filled with emotion and had to capture that flight! How fitting that it was flying above the crosses!!! It seemed symbolic that the United States would rise again. I named this photo "Out of the Ashes." Many years have passed until this terrorist was brought down, but it brought out a rebirth of patriotism for which I am very proud. This weekend celebrate Memorial Day as a day of freedom and patriotism and revel in the glory of the grand old flag which continues to signify the United States of America. Remember Flag Day is June 14th, and then of course, we really celebrate our freedom on July 4th. Celebrate with pride!

I didn't forget - as promised, the Featured Series this month is the beginning of the New Orleans trip in April. More to follow.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

MAY 2011
Happy Spring! Happy blooms! Happy beautiful days! Happy Mother's Day!

The Earth abounds with blossom and bloom; the daffodils have faded and are replaced with Palo Verde in beautiful yellow array; Mesquite in their furry yellow, but oh so sweet smelling puffs; Hedgehog Cacti burst in a variety of pinks; Ganzania of all shades are raising their heads; yellow and orange Desert Poppies are plentiful! What can one say but Happy Spring?!!? We are featuring some of our beautiful trees in blossom this month. Hope you enjoy the explosion of yellow Palo Verde and that you can almost smell the pungent aroma of the Mesquite. Next month we will feature pictures from our just finished tour of New Orleans and surrounding areas.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

APRIL 2011
April showers bring May flowers, so they say. But sometimes April blooms on its own. Even in the colder parts of the country, the daffodils and jonquils are blooming, and perhaps a grape hyacinth or two. The trees are budding - my cherry and apple trees are blooming (even at 6000 feet and not very warm temps). 'Tis the season of joy and rebirth in all creation, so celebrate, renew, reinvigorate, reclaim your life and burst forth as the buds on the trees or a butterfly from its cocoon. Rejoice in the spirit of Spring and enjoy Easter (if you celebrate) and its promise of life.

Peace from the (blooming) desert . . . Karen

MARCH 2011
We are featuring Monument Valley this month in our Picture of the Month, and Featured Series. Most of Monument Valley is in Arizona, but parts of that park do cross the border into Utah. Mystery Valley, which is only seen by guided tour with a member of the Navajo Nation, is largely on the Utah side. As well as eroded rocks, this area also has ancient cave and cliff dwellings, natural arches and petroglyphs, all generally away from the Valley Drive at more isolated locations and viewable only as part of guided tours. This month we are featuring the Right Mitten as the Picture Of The Month, and Skull Rock (mostly seen on tour), Gray Whiskers and Setting Hen as our Featured Series. I never get enough of "red rocks" - the Southwest is brimming with them, and the more I see the happier I am. Enjoy our tour with these four photos, and next month we will again feature Monument Valley with less well-known formations.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

FEBRUARY 2011
February - the month of Love. The month of cold, snow, wind and sleet everywhere! Even Arizona is getting its share of snow in the mountains. Cool temps remain in the Valley but our winter visitors think it's great! As compared to their hometowns, it is.

We have two sets of notecards featuring cacti from Arizona and a variety of Cereus now available on the website. You can purchase them through the website with PayPal. They are also on sale at Tillie's Attic, a local gift shop with lots of things to browse through. Check out the cards at the Pavilion Shopping Center, 1941 W. Guadalupe, Mesa, AZ. Obscure Observations Photography has also connected with the Lost Our Home Pet Foundation which places pets found in foreclosed or abandoned homes in foster homes until the owner or a new owner can be found. LOHPF has some of the dogs at PetsMart in Desert Ridge every other Sunday where they may be viewed and an application filled out for adopting or fostering the animal. The next events will be February 6th and 19th. We are offering a gift certificate to anyone signing up to foster which includes a family shoot (with pets) and a free 5x7 photo of the chosen pose.

As always, the photos on the rights managed website are available for purchase for promotional items, websites, brochures and ads. Those are one-time usage. The photos on the Royalty-Free site are available for purchase and once purchased no additional royalties are charged. Our portrait page shows samples of the types of photos we can take. Check them out and call for your portrait sitting today!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

JANUARY 2011
HAPPY NEW YEAR!! With most of the country under winter storms, it is definitely a cool beginning to the new year. Even Arizona has had plenty of snow the last few days and the ski resorts are loving it. There has been over an inch of rain in the Valley and there was a severe frost last night. There are a lot of ghostly figures in front yards where people have covered their bushes! Obscure Observations Photography wishes everyone a very Happy New Year; may it be profitable, may you have good health, and hopefully, it will be better for everyone than 2010. Keep warm!

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

DECEMBER 2010
A skift of snow! A blast of cool breeze! A gray cloud gatherng to snowmass. Winter came to the high country in Arizona early! It's December, not January. The trees had all lost thier golden leaves and bare branches forked skyward. We felt like Christmas was really coming. The stockings will be hung . . .
Whatever your holiday celebration this December, celebrate it with thanks, laughter and love. Best wishes are extended for the New Year; may it be bountiful, profitable and blessed.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

If you have a comment, feel free to contact Karen!
NOVEMBER 2010
Fall is really here. Its beauty can be found in the changing leaves and the cooler air. There may be snow in some places. The darkness comes early but is now expected. October's changing moods and transition into the early darkness are gone. November is a month of celebration . . . Veteran's Day, the Marine Corps Birthday and Thanksgiving being the foremost celebrations. There are other things to celebrate including Deviled Egg Day and Sadie Hawkins Day. And of course, Christmas and holiday shopping begin. Hope you all have a great November, enjoy the celebrations and keep sane while shopping, fighting the crowds for bargains and early mailing of packages.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

OCTOBER 2010
Aye, 'tis October. What kin ye say aboot October? My Scottish is risin' and I have nuttin' to write aboot, Laddie. 'Tis the season of turning leaves, chilly weather (well, in most places, not necessarily Arizona!), early darkness (the part I hate the most), late sunrise, the approaching ghosts and goblins, All Hallows Eve and Halloween festivities. Surely there is something good to write about in that list. The leaves haven't turned yet here in AZ - it will be another month before they do; I heard they were turning already in Colorado. Well, 'tis cooler there. It is to cool down here this week, and following torrential rains the last few days, it is definitely cooler here. Maybe fall is in the air. The cool down I mentioned in September's orations did not continue, and September became the hottest in several years. It's time now - let's have those temps that everyone comes to AZ for! Anyway, here's wishing you a great fall, a great Double 10 day (Chinese), a wonderful All Hallows Eve and Happy Halloween.

Peace from the desert . . . Karen

SEPTEMBER 2010
Happy Labor Day! Considered the end of summer in many places, it has also cooled in Arizona. We will be below 100 this week. Ahh! Fall! Besides school getting underway for those who haven't already done so, September is not an exciting month! Well, football begins and baseball comes to its lazy close. And those can be exciting times for many! Love to watch both. But since the passion here is photography, and I promised you shots of the vacation in July, I will feature shots of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The canyon is 2,270 feet deep and 48 miles long . . . not a Grand Canyon but one to be admired in its own right. There is little hiking in this canyon because the cliffs are so sheer, and camping only in certain spots, near the Gunnison River which flows through it. The near black rocks lend credence to the name, and in some places the "painted" rock with other shades of granite running through it is truly beautiful. If you haven't been, you should go there sometime. I added it to my list of awesome places to visit. But all of the Colorado mountains area is on my AWESOME list; you can't beat the fourteeners (peaks over 14,000 feet) and Colorado has an abundance of them. Lest I rave on, I will wish you a gorgeous September, with perfect weather.

Peace from the desert - Karen

AUGUST 2010
Red rocks abound!! This is God's country! From Colorado through Utah and New Mexico you can't find more spectacular scenery. I know I promised scenes from my recent trip to Colorado which took me through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and to the Great Sand Dunes, but I was looking for a particular shot for a customer this week, and fell in love all over again with the beautiful red rocks in these three states. I am featuring Utah this month in my Photo of the Month - Totem and Spirit Sisters from Monument Valley. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison was beautiful, and absolutely spectacular in its own right. Froze my nose and my toes a couple of mornings coming out of my sleeping bag on a 50 degree dawn. That's not cold unless you've lived in Arizona for several years and your blood has thinned. Never saw such a pile of sand in my life as the Great San Dunes. The highest dune is over 900 feet. What's even more breathtaking are the Sangre de Christo Mountains which are right behind the dunes and present an ever-changing display of shadows and light! Those will follow once I'm over being awestruck with Utah again! Stay tuned . . .

Peace from the desert - Karen

JULY 2010
Happy 4th of July!! Happy really hot summer days - at least here in Arizona. We had a beautiful May and early June, but the last half of the month we were whacked with 100+ temperatures. July promises to continue in that vein. However, it looks like our monsoon season is starting. Big "thunder-boomers" were building to the east on July 1st, and there was some rain in the mountains. Let it rain!! We'll be on vacation in the Colorado mountains, and hopefully will not get rained out up there. I plan to bring back some great shots of the beautiful Rockies for you to enjoy next month! This month we are featuring some of our shots of previous monsoon seasons. Enjoy!

Peace from the desert - Karen

JUNE 2010
This month is Dad's month - don't forget to thank him for all that he has done! The dad who took you fishing, for walks in the woods, for play days at the park, for fun days at the fair, for hunting when you got older, for sage advice and not so sage advice, for caring and sharing, for the pride he showed when you graduated from kindergarten and then middle school to high school, and from high school to college. Thank him for the financial help he gave in getting you a car, teaching you the value of a dollar, for being there with an open wallet when you needed money, and for investment advice. Thank him for giving you the means to be a good parent yourself. And think of having a portrait taken during the month of June to celebrate him. Have one done of the family with him, or of him alone. If he is an aging parent, it is time to get that portrait done. You won't regret it later. We are offering 20% off existing portrait prices for the month of June. Book that sitting now!

Our Featured Series this month highlights a new line of macro photography. I hope you enjoy the blossoms from my apricot and peach trees. There will be more to come!

Peace from the desert - Karen

MAY 2010
May flowers. Mother's Day. Memorial Day. And so we float through May, enjoying the beautiful weather and the bountiful flowers and trees in bloom. Bring some of those flowers to your Mom for Mother's Day, she deserves some special recognition. And don't forget to visit the cemetery and leave some there on Memorial Day. Attend a parade in honor of our military and count your blessings that you live in America, free and proud because of those military men and women who fought and died for your country.

Peace from the desert - Karen

APRIL 2010
April thoughts: tulips, daffodils, cherry blossoms, desert poppies, daisies, bunnies, chicks, happy children, April fool, Easter joy, Passover celebrations, and here's one I'll bet you didn't know about: Dyngus Day. It is also spelled Dingus Day, and is a Polish Holiday. It is very popular in Poland, and in Polish communities in America. After the long Lenten holiday, Dyngus Day is a day of fun, and it is always celebrated on the Monday after Easter. (Look it up!) There are a lot of weird days to celebrate in April [some people just have too much time on their hands] such as rubber eraser day, pet owners independence day, Sorry Charlie day, ex-spouse day, and national Eggs Benedict day. Do you mind if I just celebrate spring? Spring is such a tumultuous season - flowers bursting forth amid high winds and snow storms, birds returning to build nests and lay eggs, broods hatching, sunny days and windy days as the season changes and Mother Nature struggles to get the beauty of spring in place.
I plan to be out more - shooting spring - breathing in fresh, clean, rain-washed air, before the heat moves into the desert, and shooting those flowers that fade so quickly when the heat arrives. I also plan to shoot more children's portraits this spring and capture them in their own beauty for they are truly God's flowers. Is your child having a birthday? Don't forget Mother's Day is coming - how about a portrait of the children for her? I shoot inside with backdrops - outside with Nature's backdrops, formal portraits or fun poses. If you need a portrait, or a special shoot, please contact me. Happy Spring!

Peace from the desert - Karen

MARCH 2010
Well sure and begorra! St. Patty's day is upon us. The wearin' o' the green will be comin' round soon. Along with that, here are some other things to celebrate during the month of March:
- Irish American Month
- Music in Our Schools Month
- National Craft Month
- National Frozen Food Month
- National Irish American Heritage Month
- National Nutrition Month
- National Peanut Month
- National Women's History Month
- Poetry Month
- Red Cross Month
- Social Workers Month

Visit our portrait page and watch our royalty free pages for new offerings.

Peace from the desert - Karen

FEBRUARY 2010
February is traditionally the month of LOVE. Red symbolizes love and abounds on candy boxes, in Valentine cards and gifts, roses, in romantic things of all sorts, and in the cherries in that traditional pie. The following are also celebrated: American Heart Month, An Affair to Remember Month, Black History Month, Canned Food Month, Creative Romance Month, Great American Pie Month, and National Cherry Month. I charge you to find love, celebrate it with an affair to remember, do something creatively romantic, make a cherry pie, have your heart check-up, and study your history. Along with learning Black History, you can study two of our great presidents: George Washington and Abe Lincoln, both of whom had birthdays this month. Quite a month, isn't it? Our featured photos this month show another love that many of us have - that of our pets. Treat them well, for they give you nothing but love in return.

Peace from the desert - Karen

JANUARY 2010
Happy New Year!! A new decade! A new year! New beginnings! May each of you revel in the spirit of the New Year, and receive good fortune that lasts throughout the year.

Obscure Observations is beginning a new era as well. We will continue to furnish stock photography for those publishing needs, adding new pictures periodically to the inventory; more royalty-free stock will be added; we will continue to provide fine art selections for purchase, both framed and unframed, to enhance your office or home. The lend-lease program gives you an opportunity to try it out for a month before purchase; or you may continue to lease a photo at a nominal fee; you may change photographs when you are ready for a new scene. New for 2010: We are adding portraiture - fun family portraits (think outside the box) and natural lighting portraits; corporate portraiture; corporate events and employee functions; birthdays (preferably for those celebrating a milestone, i.e. 45, 55, 65, 70, 100); graduations, family reunions; school reunions.

Call us immediately to book your dates for 2010. Advanced planning is never wrong. Get your photographer lined up early and relax while Obscure Observations handles your photography needs. Packages are available at very reasonable prices. Call 602-558-5503. We come to you - have tripod, will travel.

Peace from the desert - Karen

You can contact the owner by    e-mail or by phone at (602) 558-5503.

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