I’m Moving!

Idyllwild RedwoodCalifornia is a big beautiful state, and I’m a fifth generation Southern Californian. I love my sunny beautiful state! But in the last decade I’ve become heat sensitive, so I started to look for alternative locations where I could live a more normal life, year-round. I found Eureka, in Northern California fairly early in my search–it has some of the coolest summers in the entire United States *and* it has a lot of authentic Victorian architecture, including the most recognized Victorian home in the United States, which for me is a huge draw! So while it may seem sudden, and completely unexpected to even those of you who know me well, I’ve actually been considering moving to Eureka for over seven years.

Why this summer? I graduated law school in May, and my plan was to put down forever roots in my old hometown of Fallbrook, in San Diego County. I love Fallbrook more than I’ve ever loved any other town! And it breaks my heart to imagine never moving back, but this year the heat has been brutal, and I’m tired of living a compromised life. I want to feel good all the time. I want to enjoy summer again. I just want more.

So I’m headed to Eureka. I’ll leave at the end of this month–just me, my tiny house, my cats, and my VW convertible. I’m excited and sad and scared and happy all at the same time. It’s definitely going to be an adventure!

The Ocean // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Redwoods and the ocean? Could these photos  be any more Humboldt County? Maybe! But in this case the first image is a redwood tree in Idyllwild, and that’s the beach in Malibu, so Southern California, rather than Northern California. But to me it’s proof that some of what I love about where I live now, can be found where I’m headed.

Wish me luck!

Law School Graduation

Law School Graduation
Photo by Crystal Worley.

It’s official! I have a Juris Doctorate!

I signed up for the LSAT in June of 2013, got a high enough score to qualify for a full scholarship at two different law schools, and by that fall I was enrolled as a 1L at Trinity Law School.

Law school was fun! It was also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The graduation ceremony itself was a lot more emotional than I expected–it’s a big deal to graduate! I’m proud to have finished, and proud to have earned my Juris Doctorate.

Next up? Studying for the California Bar Exam!

Photo by Crystal Worley.
I’m third from the  right, in the second row. Photo by Crystal Worley.
See that ear sticking out? Cracks me up! Photo by Crystal Worley.
I’m not the focus of this photo, so I’m a little blurry, but my hair looks good! Photo by Crystal Worley.
We all look so serious–must have been a good moment in the ceremony! I’m on the far right. Photo by Crystal Worley.
Photo by Crystal Worley.
Photo by Crystal Worley.
Our official class portrait. I’m in the second row from the top, and just to the right of center. Photo by Crystal Worley.
My mom and I, after the ceremony! Photo by Crystal Worley.
My favorite professor ever! William Overtoom is a Senior Deputy District Attorney for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, and he teaches Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure at Trinity. I was lucky to have him as a teacher–he’s excellent! I received my first A- on a midterm in law school in his class, and it was extra meaningful to earn it from him. Photo by my mother, Sharon Rose.
I took Con Law, a couple of really cool business classes, and Legal Synthesis from Professor R. Neil Rodgers. My favorite semester of all was summer of my 2L year, when I had two classes with him. He’s, in my opinion, the best lecturer on campus! Photo by my mother, Sharon Rose.
When I first met Shelley Henderson I thought she was one of the most charismatic people I’d ever come across. I still think that! And it’s all real. She’s an amazing woman who has done great things, and is on her way to do even more. Photo by my mother, Sharon Rose.
Photo by my mother, Sharon Rose.

My Mom

Sharon Rose // cherylspelts.comMy mother is leaving at the end of this week to go spend some time in Portland, Oregon. I’m not sure when she’ll be back, and yesterday was my last chance to spend some time with her before she leaves, so we shot a couple portraits in her nearly empty living room. And of course we had to get a shot with Samantha!

Then we headed out to Highland Springs Resort to have dinner at the Grand Oak Steakhouse. But before dinner, we had to explore just a little bit… And of course that meant we ended up in the lavender fields shooting more images!

And the Grand Oak Restaurant? It’s my new favorite place! All the food is locally grown, in season, and organic – so every single thing they served us tasted amazing. We had mango margaritas that must have been made with the most perfectly ripe mango ever – they were fabulous! Then I had a watermelon and heirloom tomato salad with freshly made mozzarella. Heirloom tomatoes just taste like a tomato should taste… And paired with watermelon? So good! And then we both had their steakhouse burger – which was probably the best tasting burger I’ve ever had. They cut and grind locally-raised fresh beef there, on the premises, so how could it not be good?

I’ll miss my Mom! But I’m glad we got to have one last afternoon and evening together, in such a beautiful spot, enjoying the Old-California atmosphere, with fabulous food and a fabulous drink, and some good conversation!

Sharon Rose

Sharon RoseMom

Mom in the Lavender Fields


Me in the Lavender Fields

Hair Blowing

Among the Olive Trees

And me on the original dirt driveway into the resort, under a canopy of hundred-years-old olive trees.


Last fall, when I first brought two of the little wild kittens inside that had been living in my side yard, I intended to find homes for them. I had Roxie, and one cat was enough for me at that point! And these little kittens were adorable, and only a few months old, so I figured once they were tamed it would be easy to find them homes. But it took me longer than I expected to tame them, and so I had two wild babies hiding in my house!

Two Kittens // Photo: Cheryl Spelts
Sasha with one of his brothers, at about six weeks old.

Wild Kittens // Photo: Cheryl Spelts
Sasha and Maisie on the left, with two of their siblings, at about seven weeks old.

Orange Kitten // Photo: Cheryl Spelts
Sasha at about eight weeks old.

Wild Kitten // Photo: Cheryl Spelts
Sasha at about three months old.

Finally the little yellow one discovered that it was nice to be touched, and even better to be held. And I started to fall in love…

And then this little yellow kitten – who was about four months old at the time – suddenly grew a little bulge. He was a boy! I love male cats, but a male cat might change the dynamic of the whole house, and how would Roxie adapt to not being the top cat, once he matured? But I couldn’t give him up. So I just had to hope that he would stay as sweet as he was at four-months-old…

Sasha is now a year-old, and a big beautiful male cat. He’s gentle and easy to get along with. Thankfully!

Yellow Cat // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Orange cats love people! // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Father and Daughter Cats // Photo: Cheryl Spelts
Sasha with Vanessa, who is almost four months old.

Regal Cats // Photo: Cheryl Spelts
Sasha with Calista and Raphael

Sasha lived his first few months outside, with no owner, no love, no food dish of his own, and no mother after she disappeared when he was two months old. All he wanted was to get inside! He used to cry under my bedroom window, and try to climb the screen, convinced he could get in, if he just tried hard enough. And now that he’s in? He has zero desire to ever go outside again. He’s a happy house cat!

Samantha’s last day with her siblings…

Kittens doing yoga // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsSammie came to visit for a week, while my Mom was on vacation, and after a little bit of growling and hissing, worked her way back into the family fold. But Mom came home on Tuesday, so these images are the last with Sammie and her cat family. She won’t be back for a long while – and by then the other kittens will have new homes.

They’re three-and-a-half-months old now. Growing up fast!

So what did Sammie do on her last day? Well she started with some yoga with her calico sister, Calista.

Kittens // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Then grabbed the favorite sleeping spot before Raphael could get to it.

Kittens // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Oh well, Raphael will just sleep beside it. He’s adaptable like that! Isn’t Sammie’s sleeping position, with one foot out of the bowl, hysterical?

Kittens // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Can you believe those whiskers? So beautiful!

Kittens // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Raphael has whiskers too!

Kittens // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Vanessa wishes it were her turn in the bowl…

Kittens // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

That’s okay, Vanessa will just knock all the magazines stacked on a chair, onto the floor, and sleep there.

Kittens // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Roxie in bed.

Kittens // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Sammie is still queen of the bowl…

Kittens // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Vanessa gets ready to pounce.

Kittens // Photo: Cheryl Spelts
Ah! Calista gets a chance in the bowl!

Kittens // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

But it’s not as fun if no one else wants it. Where is everybody?

Kittens // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

And the very last time all four will nurse. Maisie’s babies are growing up!

Kittens // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Goodbye Samantha! We’ll miss you!

The places kittens sleep…


Maisie, in December, when she was just seven months old. Her favorite spot in the whole house was on this table, in a decorative bowl.

Vanessa and Rafael

And now her babies love the same spot. It’s a different bowl, but the same location, and yes they really do squish in two or three at a time to sleep! Here Vanessa and Rafael are trying to share the bowl, but at times three of them crowd in all at once.


Samantha is here while my Mom is on vacation – so she’s getting her turn in the bowl!


It cracks me up that the kittens like to sleep in the cat carrier! Up until the moment when the zipper closes–and they’re locked in–then they don’t like it so much!

But Vanessa? Isn’t that the most precious face ever? She’s such a tough little thing. I love her!

Eleven weeks old and adorable!


Rafael and Sasha! Sasha just turned one year old, so he’s barely out of kittenhood himself, but he’s completely affectionate and loving with the babies. Even when they bite his tail and try to climb him like a tree… He’s a patient cat!


Little Miss Calista, (with Rafael photobombing!) and her very tired mother, Maisie. Raising these babies is making Maisie more than a little tired. She’ll be glad when they find forever homes, and she can get back to napping at will again!


Samantha has the greenest eyes of all the kittens – not as green as her mother, but very pretty!


Sasha gives good baths! And my favorite cat of all, Roxie Pablo, is ready to take a real bath! Roxie is two-years-old now, and still my favorite. She was first, but it’s more than that; she’s just a very special cat.


Calista gives good face. That little orange nose? Just perfection.


Two shots of Vanessa! She’s actually my favorite of the kittens; probably because she loves me the most. It’s hard not to love a baby that looks at you adoringly, and follows you around, and only wants to be near you!


And finally, one more of Calista, because she’s just so darn cute! She wins for best-looking!

The kittens are five weeks old!

five-week-old kittens

The kittens are five weeks old, and sleeping out in the open now. Momma can’t keep them corralled any longer!


Their mother, Maisie, has the most beautiful green eyes. Best eyes I’ve ever seen on a cat!

Baby Kittens! 13 Days Old!

baby kitten yawning

King of the kitten pile? Or just a yawn?

baby kitten sleeping

At this age all they do is sleep and eat, and then sleep and eat some more.

baby kittens

Such a pretty little face…

13-day-old kittens

I’ve gotten a few questions about how these were shot… Was it a “normal” camera? And the answer is yes! Just a normal camera and a 50mm lens at f/1.2. If you’ve studied photography even just a little, you probably know that an aperture of f/1.2 will give you an extremely shallow depth of field – but then when you combine it with shooing this close, it makes the field of focus even more narrow. On some of these only the tiny little whiskers on their noses were in focus. I did crop all of them slightly – but no more that a quarter of the image was trimmed off. But did I do anything to them in PhotoShop? Not really. I color balanced and then sharpened them, but there was no selective blurring, or anything else tricky. These really are the way it looks when you shoot wide open, and really close up.

So why did I choose to shoot this way? There are several reasons. One, I think it’s pretty. Two, I really wanted to focus on the kitten’s tiny little toes and their noses and whiskers. The narrow focus serves to isolate those features from the background, and really showcase how sweet they are. And three, I like to push occasionally, and get something a little different. Shooting the same subject the same way, more than once, gets a little boring. Gotta shake it up!