Merry Christmas, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone! One of my favorite musicians, JD Fortune, just posted an acoustic version of Silent Night that is simple and honest and really beautiful. It’s the perfect thing to listen to on this Christmas Eve!

The coming year should be fabulous for JD – he has a solo album coming out in early 2009 – and there are rumors that he may tour. I hope so! But I absolutely love that with all that going on, he made a simple recording with just him and a guitar and a favorite Christmas carol, and posted it today. Just very, very cool!

I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas!

I’m back! I think…

Getting “snowed in” sounds so romantic – staying inside by the fire with a good book, drinking hot chocolate. No work, no school, no modern world. Sounds fun! And in a way it is, but it’s also a lot of cold hard work. By the third day with no electricity, one more trip out to get firewood, just gets old. Do you have any idea how much wood it takes to heat a house with a wood stove and a fireplace, when it’s 22° outside? And when that wood is at the end of long walkway, and buried under three feet of snow, it’s a lot of work!

And there’s the darkness. This time of year the sun goes down so early and comes up so late – and with only firelight, and one dim lantern, there’s not much you can do. We played Scrabble – a lot of Scrabble! And went to bed early, and slept late. But fourteen or fifteen hours of darkness is a long, long time. Especially by the third night.

The power came on suddenly at 1:30AM last night, then flickered out, then came back on for good at 2:30AM. I’ve never been so happy to see the lights come on!

Idyllwild Snow // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

This is the view from the house, about midway through the second storm, soon after the power went out. Down by the garage there’s a big bump in the snow – that’s my car. As more snow fell it became even less recognizable.

Snow in Idyllwild // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

The view from the front porch, also on the Wednesday. There’s no denying that it’s beautiful!

Icicles in Idyllwild // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

And this is what it looked like today! Bright blue sky, lots of sun, and lots of icicles as the snow on the roof began to melt.

As the sun heated things up, the trees began to shed their load of snow. In fact, it was hazardous to walk under them since you could get dumped with slushy snow at any moment. But it was worth it to get to see some green again!

We’re supposed to have two more days of warm weather and sun – so hopefully the ice and snow will melt off the walkways and we can dig out the wood pile and my car before the next storm – which is supposedly coming on Monday. I am definitely hoping for rain that day, instead of snow – and that’s a possibility – but if it does end up snowing, I just hope for a light dusting this time. I can hope! And I really really hope the power stays on. It’s amazing how great heat and hot water and hot food are! I’m not ready to go back to the romantic pioneer days again quite yet…

Bright Blue Sky and a Warm Sun

Snow and Sunshine in Idyllwild // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Much better! Bright blue sky and a warm sun. It’s up to 37° and there’s a constant drip, drip, drip as the snow melts off the tree branches.

My car is totally covered – if you didn’t know, you’d never guess there was a vehicle under that particular mound of snow.

They’re predicting rain or snow tonight, and then more snow tomorrow, so it’s not over yet, but I am definitely enjoying this little break and some bright pretty sun shining through. I love the way the light reflects off the snow – it’s so bright and beautiful! Reminds me of the beach…


Snowy Trees in Idyllwild // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Yes, it does indeed snow in Southern California – if you’re in the mountains!

It started snowing on Saturday night, and by yesterday morning there was a blanket several inches deep covering everything. I finally ventured out in the afternoon and scraping the snow off my windshield was sort of fun – it was soft and fluffy and light – and pretty! Then more snow last night, and lots more snow this morning. Judging by the snow on the roof of the house next door, it must be almost a foot deep at this point. And it’s not stopping. The forecast is for three more days of this. Will I even be able to see my car if it continues at this rate?

Last summer we got a hard thunderstorm that dumped more rain faster than Idyllwild had seen in 30 years. That was impressive! But I’m sort of thinking that was nothing compared to several feet of snow?

It’s going to be an interesting winter!

Idyllwild Snow // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

CD Covers and Magazine Features

CD Cover: "I See Stars" by Marty Casey // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsIt’s been a good couple of weeks! Late last month Lukas Rossi released a holiday CD single with one of my images on the cover, and this week a CD single from Marty Casey surfaced, also with one of my images on the cover.

It’s only available as a complimentary gift, if you buy a piece from his Silver Elements Collection, and there are limited quantities, so if you want one, you might want to act soon. It’s a beautiful song – one of my all-time favorites – I loop it over and over!

My big goal, career-wise, is CD covers and magazine features. I remember when I first started seriously studying photography, I wanted to shoot features for People Magazine. I loved their 50 Most Beautiful People issue, and how they did beauty shots for each of the celebrities chosen – but they weren’t standard beauty shots, they told stories! There was an artistic element that I loved. Then later I gravitated toward Vanity Fair. But my real love was always Rolling Stone. THAT is what I wanted to do!

And then CD covers? That’s an even bigger high for someone with a fine art background! I love doing the commercial stuff – especially when it’s edgy, and beautiful, and fun. But when I get to combine that kind of commercial work, with what my artistic impulses lead me to, and there are no limits? Simply put, that’s what I was meant to do.

So here’s to more CD covers and magazine features in 2009 – I’m ready!

Ryan Star | Sophie @ 103.7’s Green Christmas

Ryan Star // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Last night I got to attend Sophie @ 103.7’s Green Christmas – an acoustic event in San Diego, benefitting the San Diego Oceans Foundation. Ryan Star played a VIP event before the main concert, and as far as I’m concerned, it was the highlight of the night! He sounded fabulous! Maybe I’ve just been missing him, since this is his first gig in San Diego in over two years, but I really think he’s better than ever. And with a new album on the way, it meant we got to hear all new material – with only one song from the previous CD – my old favorite, Back Of Your Car. He played up on the third floor in the Fireside Lounge – so it was a very intimate concert. I felt really privileged getting to see such a special show.

The headliner was Alanis Morissette, and Buckcherry, O.A.R., Justin Nozuka, and SafetySuit were also on the bill – so it was a great show! And it took place at my new favorite venue, Anthology on India Street, downtown. They have the best sound system I’ve ever experienced. I was there for soundcheck and the sound of one guitar being tuned, was so magnificent, if was heartbreaking. Even in the bathrooms the sound quality is that good. The owners have evidently sunk a lot of money into that system, and wow is it ever worth it!

I’ve seen Alanis in concert twice before – she’s definitely one of my favorite artists – and her voice sounded better last night as well. I think it was a combination of a magic night, and a really really great venue.

I’ll have a slideshow of images to post later this week – but for now let the image above serve as a teaser…

Grandma Rose and Great-Grandma Rie

Grandma Rose and Great Grandma Rie // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

I shot my Great-Grandma Rie’s Christmas card today! Her name is Marie McBurney and she’s 91. She lives in a resort retirement home called Camelot, in Hemet, so we shot her portrait on her little patio – and my favorite shot of the day, was this one, when my Grandma, Virgina Rose joined her.

America’s Sweetheart of Song

Ruth Etting's Star on Hollywood Boulevard // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Back in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s my grandfather’s cousin was the top female singer in the United States. Her name was Ruth Etting and she started in a little club in Chicago, then starred on Broadway in the Ziegfeld Follies, and ended up in Hollywood. Early on she was known as the Sweetheart of Chicago, and then the Sweetheart of Columbia Records, and finally America’s Sweetheart of Song. She had over 60 hit recordings including multiple number ones. She was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, with “Love Me Or Leave Me”, which she introduced in the 1928, and for “Ten Cents A Dance”, from 1930.

Her star on Hollywood Boulevard is located at the intersection where Whitley Avenue crosses the Boulevard, right in front of a check cashing place. Classy!

So why have you never heard of her? Well she made one big mistake in her life – she married a guy in Chicago with ties to the mob – small time for sure, but still, not the best move on her part. And by 1937 she divorced him and then fell in love with her piano player. But her ex-husband was incensed by the new relationship, and shot the new boyfriend. The boyfriend survived and later became her husband, and the ex-husband went to jail, but Ruth’s career did not survive the scandal. She did a few minor projects after that, but the heyday of her career was effectively over. Hollywood came calling again in 1955, with an offer to make a movie about her life. Love Me or Leave Me starred Doris Day and James Cagney, and was nominated for six Academy Awards and won the Award for Best Story. Most people who have heard of her today, only know what the saw in the movie – they know Doris Day as Ruth, not the real Ruth Etting.

Why am I posting this today? Well two reasons! One, I’ve been combing through my archive for 2008 and trying to post anything that I hadn’t yet – and I shot this image back in May, so it was time! And two, because last night I republished, the site I maintain in her memory. I switched servers recently, and so the site was down temporarily, but it’s up now, so it seemed like a good time to plug it here!

Her style of singing today seems sentimental and syrupy and dated – it’s definitely an acquired taste! But she really was one of the premier singers of her generation and a true legend.