Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Messages of Hope

I am so excited to announce this new book! I pulled together artists, poets, photographers and writers to contribute their talents to this much needed publication!
Messages of Hope is now ready for purchase. All proceeds are donated to charity! So you are helping yourself and others with your purchase. This will make a great gift at any time. Available from the link below.

Messages of Hope
24 pages, published 12/21/2016
Messages of Hope comes at a time we most need it, for the country, for the world, for ourselves.A collection of poems, essays, art and photography by four artists.

Friday, December 9, 2016

New Book!

Hot off the press!  Poetic Zen first published in 2004, now revised with all new color images and a bonus poem!  Available in both print and digital formats on MagCloud.

Poetic Zen

By J Gray in Poetry & Images

24 pages, published 12/9/2016

Poetic Zen was first printed in 2004. Now revised in 2016 with all new color images and a bonus poem!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Risk Authenticity

I have been mulling over how to write my own version of the election results here.  I am one of many who are disappointed in the results, however, what I really want to express came after some reading I did from Buddhist leaders, and today I watched a Ted Talk from Brene Brown about Vulnerability.

Risk authenticity and just express how you feel.  I find it best to do this within my own tribe first, to get my feet wet, then branching out from there.  But be informed and be kind.

Personally, I don't vote for anyone who supports racism, but I also didn't think it wise to let someone run the country who had never been a politician.  We don't usually hire managers off the street, so that was just bad business.
I let my gut tell me how to feel about a person, I always have.  I have good instincts and high intuition.  I knew he wasn't right for the job.

Aside from all the obvious stuff that has already been aired, I really see this as a Shift, an opportunity for Big change.  OK, it's out, and the country is split. everyone is mad as hell, and at each other.  This is not where we should start.

For me personally, it became apparent just a few days after the results were out and I was on a day trip with a friend who happens to be a conservative republican.  I was hoping to not talk politics at all, and we almost got through the whole day, but somehow it came up and I feel I was ambushed into a corner.  Not really her fault.  My lesson there was how apparent it was to me that I was uninformed and couldn't even defend myself!  My fault.  Knowledge is power, that is correct, and I have seen the light!

After a recent meditation I came away feeling compassion for all of us.  I also felt hope and acceptance.  But it will take some time to sort things out before others calm down, some just won't, but that's in their nature.

So risking authenticity is to be vulnerable, and vulnerable is a state of openness.  The risk of course is not knowing the outcome, but that's just life.

I think this Shift will be different for all of us, it will be very personal and many will grow because of it.  I know I have already.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Boycot Black Friday


This Black Friday as with last year, I am opting out of shopping and going outside.  It's a fitting gesture for me and a smart one.  We consume far too much stuff at an alarming rate!  I am slowing that down and promoting "less stuff".  It's easier to manage less stuff, costs less and allows me more free time.  Now that's smart.

Thank you #REI for this splendid image that encourages us to Opt Outside.  (Even they will close for Black Friday.)

Will you join us??

And speaking of STUFF, here is a great video from Woody on the subject:

Friday, November 4, 2016

Indoor Projects

After a myriad of outdoor projects and the eminent arrival of Fall rains, I moved my motivation indoors at the beginning of October.  This next project was already brewing in my mind while I was working outside.

I had a plan to caulk the remaining seams in two of the bedrooms and repaint.  I had such good success in the bathroom from earlier this year that I was eager to get started.

I don't have any photos of this project because honestly, seams of walls and ceilings just don't translate well in a photo.  If you've ever done any caulking work you know what I mean.

One of the biggest problems I ran into was an old patch / fix from the former tenant.  I'm still not exactly sure how to make a permanent fix, but for now I have at least made it look better and used a small piece of sheetrock to patch a hole in the ceiling.  Originally there was a really long piece screwed to the ceiling tile that also covered an old water stain.
I just put a few coats of Kilz paint over the stain and it was fine.  (Reminder:  this mobile had previously been rescued from Mt. St. Helen's).  Now of course it has a full roof-over structure, so these water stains were quite old.

The overall goal here is to eliminate the need for trim and give it a more finished look.  I did indeed accomplish this!  Floor trim, of course, remaining.

There's nothing like a fresh coat of paint!  Both bedrooms got a country white which will be greatly appreciated come the long dark winter here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Benefits of Handwriting

I heard something today that reminded me that there is a difference between handwriting and using a keyboard as far as how your brain works.
An article I read said “When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Coll├Ęge de France in Paris.
In another article it said that  "because putting ink to paper stimulates a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating Center, or the RAS."

I found more information about this as an educational issue for young children but I also know that I myself feel a distinct difference between writing something out by hand vs typing.  I can still relay my feelings and ideas, but handwriting seems to flow easier.

I journal daily.  It's my therapy, my friend, my companion.  My think tank for ideas.  As I write, I get even more information about my subject, often I get answers!  I can almost always figure out a dream if I write it down.

Dr. Wayne W Dyer mentioned many times in his writings and speeches that he always wrote out his books by hand, and that he always felt somehow guided as he wrote.
I have to agree that there is an ethereal element to this kind of process.  My daily journal writing has been very therapeutic.  I actually prefer this over long hours spent with someone who hardly knows me, not to mention the cost.

I also write out my to do lists, my project lists and I still send hand written cards.
So I imagine I am engaging a different part of my brain in this way, and hopefully stimulating it with new cells to keep me mentally fit for many years to come,  as this article states:  "According to The Wall Street Journal, some physicians claim that the act of writing — which engages your motor-skills, memory, and more — is good cognitive exercise for baby boomers who want to keep their minds sharp as they age."

Winter Readiness

I like to repost this one every year as we head into winter.  I have had a lot of experience by trial and error on what to do or not do during storms.  The last thing we want is to already be in one unprepared, whether at home or away from home.

I've added two great new gizmos to my arsenal of supplies.  Actually one was a gift from my brother this year.  It's a battery operated light switch.

Don't let this thing fool you!  It's incredibly bright and only needs two AAA batteries.  It can mount via sticky pads or magnets.

 Is that crazy or what?  I love it!

Next up is my go to tool when the lights go out and it's dark.  It's a headlamp.  Hands free light wherever I need it.

This has three settings, two for brightness and one blinks.  I imagine the blinking option would come in handy should I somehow get trapped in a snow bank, lol.

 More tips follow from this archived post:

  While it's a little early to be thinking about snow here in the Pacific Northwest, it is not too early to prepare for it!
Women on their own must look out for themselves and be prepared for anything - because anything can happen.  I have been through many major storms here and been trapped for weeks, both at home and away from home.

I now have a preparation ritual.  In the Fall (sometimes sooner) I start thinking about what I need to do, from gathering supplies to making preparations.
Supplies always include extra canned and dry goods, anything I can cook or prepare on a camp stove should the power be out.
Preparations include winterizing the house.  Wrapping outside pipes, putting up heavier curtains inside.
I even pack an overnight bag that I keep in my car should I get stuck away from home.

I always make sure I have a flashlight and extra batteries, several small propane tanks, lanterns and oil, matches and ground coffee!  Until they design a battery operated coffee grinder, this is a staple for me!  Of course a small drip coffee one-cupper and cone shaped filters must be included.
[ update:  I found a hand grinder!  No batteries or electricity required!)

Other useful things would be a couple of bags of ice in the freezer, so when the power goes out it keeps the food cold.  One year it was so cold outside that I just put the food out in the mudroom.
Extra containers of water may be necessary if your water comes from an electric pump,  and did I mention candles?  Lots of them.

Obviously I have a back up heating system that doesn't require electricity.  I have a wonderful wood stove.  It is actually my primary heat source. I get my fire wood in the summer, stacked, cured and covered by Sept.

Keep the gas tank full in the car and the snow shovel by the front door.  Have a corded phone to plug in to the jack should the power go out.  Cordless phones are useless without power.
Up until about a year ago I didn't even have a cell phone, but now that I do, I keep that charged up.  While I don't get service here at my house, at least I can use it in the car if need be.

So these are some of the things we can do to be prepared for a long winter living alone.
If you're on a budget like me, or just like to conserve your resources, we have to think outside of the box a little more, get creative and work with the resources you have.

I'm really quite content with my independent life, and grateful to have a sharp mind and willing spirit.  It just makes life so much more interesting.

If you have any tips you'd like to share on winter preparedness, please leave a comment!  I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Winter Wren

Winter Wren has returned.  He shows up every year about this time.  He makes himself known by flying up to me, jumping around and making cute little peeping sounds.  I'm not sure exactly what this behavior is, but I'd like to think he is just letting me know he has returned and is happy to be here.

I keep a year round supply of fresh water for all the birds and my lush, mostly untouched habitat is perfect for foraging and nesting.

He will stay throughout the winter and then head off to wherever he goes for Spring and Summer.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Age VS Maturity

I was thinking recently about the differences between people's chronological age and their maturity level (not that that can really be measured).  But let's say we're having a conversation with a 65 year old who comes across more like a 40 year old.  Or a 35 year old person who seems more like a 70 year old.

These are rash generalizations, but you get my point.  I just wonder if we are putting too much emphasis on our chronological ages, pigeon-holing people into categories that they may not fit into just by virtue of some statistics.

I have a wide range of friends in all age groups, they are all different!  My friends in the same age groups are not all the same.  Some are healthier, some seem "older".

Anyway, maybe someday we'll have to give driver's licenses to a deserving class, or alcohol to a smaller group and voting rights to more people.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Peter Rabbit Jr

This is Peter Rabbit Jr., a descendant of a pair of rabbits that settled in here this year.  Adorable!
Peter Jr. has spread out his territory beyond my yard but returns every couple of weeks to visit.

He is a very polite house guest.  He doesn't eat much, doesn't disrupt the environment, and sleeps outside.

He is welcome here anytime.  :)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Peace Deprivation

I live in a small recreational community in the forest.  Most of the time it's pretty quiet and I enjoy the peace of silence and wildlife around me.

There are several "camp" lots where people from the city come to enjoy the outdoors - I think anyway.  Mostly they bring their loud radios, barking dogs and screaming children.

I try to ignore this, rationalizing that they just don't know any better.  However some of the full time residents are just as ignorant of the quality of peace that is available to them, if they would only just shut up long enough to hear it.
Blaring TV's, radios, video games and music numb their senses.  This is Peace Deprivation I think.  And not just peace and quiet - but real peace, the kind that comes when you're at peace.

So I too suffer from Peace Deprivation because I can't turn them off.  I can however go inside my own house and have peace.

The truly blissful days are when they are all gone, and I have the neighborhood to myself.  This is true bliss.

The wildlife don't seem to mind either way, I wish I could be more like them.

I wish I could tell them it's really OK to hear what's inside your head, but you will have to come to terms with it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bamboo Transplanting

My bamboo are reaching 12 feet tall this year, but were in need of transplanting.  I did some research and found that I could easily pull them out, cut them in half and put them in new pots.

I purchased nursery pots for the affordability and durability.  These are sturdy pots!  I think they must be made of tire rubber as that's what they smell like.

I had help on this project as it takes two people to manhandle them out of their pots, then between the chainsaw and handsaw we were able to cut them in half.  This is no easy task!

We only got to two of them, ending up with four nice new plants, spread out along the new cedar fence really adds to the privacy.  Next year we'll tackle the other two.

Along with the new layout of the front yard came much contemplation on how to landscape it.  There are several large plants that can't be moved, but everything else was flexible.
So for this year I decided to create beds around the larger plants.  The spaces left were ripe for new ideas.  I created an ornamental grass bed with rocks from the beach. 

These lovely grasses will spread out and grow tall, creating a privacy screen along the driveway.

So the view from the house is thus, so far this year. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


I began the new siding / skirting project in the Spring of 2016, juggled other outdoor projects and then added the skirting / cedar siding under the mudroom.  I could only get half way through that too, as the front porch needed dry rot boards replaced as well as leveling.

By the end of August I completed what is pictured above.  I had help with the leveling but replaced the deck boards myself and added the skirting boards.  Later I added the new gravel and began work on the landscaping.

 The top boards are now replaced (and safe!) and level.

The cedar siding / skirting looks good on this old structure, adding airflow underneath.

It's simple, it's safe and was extremely affordable.

Next Spring I can work on the surrounding landscaping to bring back that charm it had in earlier days.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Licensing Photography

Licensing Photography  (Edited and updated version from Nov 2014 post)

I have been researching this mysterious medium of licensing lately.  Ever since I took my trip out to the coast and was inspired to shoot all of those images of cairns (stacking rocks) I could see a use for them in media production.

The best book I read on the subject is "Licensing Photography" by Richard Weisgrau and Victor S. Perlman.  Although published in 2006, it seems up to date with current trends.

I am no expert on this vast subject, but I feel I have come to a better understanding of where I am heading in regard to licensing my images.

I am also fortunate to be back on Fine Art America  where they now offer licensing, although one can easily get lost in a sea of doubt and questions in spite of their detailed explanations.  You still have to research the going prices.  At least they, like the book, have listed Getty Images and others as guides.

So far I have followed the books advice and registered on Getty for my research.  You have to do this to see the actual prices.  I had to learn the difference between Royalty Free (RF) and Rights Managed (RM) licensing.  I am choosing RM for now as it seems to give me more control of how the images will be used.

Unfortunately, when I went to apply the books' guidelines to my Fine Art America's format I hit a snag.  It's different, but with a little intelligent reasoning I think I have at least created a beginning format for myself.

Their actual licensing site is  , but the site layout looks just like Fine Art America, which is the mothership behind it.  Their layout is terrific and user friendly for both the listing artist and the buyer - the latter being the important entity here.

The ground work you have to do is decide how you want to license your images and what to charge.  The breakdowns are detailed and I have only scratched the surface so far.  I basically just listed what I understood.
The time consuming work is researching images on Getty that are similar to your own and noting the prices there, as that seems to be the industry standard.

Why not just list on Getty?  Because I understand the artist is only paid about 20% of the fee.  Fine Art America is letting artists set the fee and they are marking up their percentage, just like they do with their print sales.

Licensed images are useful for a variety of products such as brochures, business cards, note cards, letterhead, you name it.  Artists could collaborate in many ways.

Update:  As of late 2015 I created my own licensing agreement based on a template.

I will keep updating this article as I learn more.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Simple Steps to Copyright

Simple Steps to Copyright  (Edited, repost from Dec. 2014)

You're an artist and you're ready to copyright images of your work because you take your art seriously and are in business as an artist.  In this post I have outlined a few simple steps to get you started, as well as a few tips and additional information at the end of the post.

You can find out almost anything you want to know on the page, from acceptable file types to what can be copyrighted.  I highly recommend visiting the site and reading over the FAQ's for more information than what I cover here.

My experience with copyright registration is as a fine art photographer, copyrighting collections of works, however, these steps can be useful to anyone who will photograph their finished work for copyright.

I highly recommend registering a collection for a one time fee of $55 (as of 2014) as opposed to registering individual works of art at $55 each.  That's kind of no-brainer, but there are stipulations to registering a collection which can be found on the FAQ page.
You can also find out more about the difference between published and unpublished works there.

OK, so we'll assume you've done all your final editing and now have a collection of final images. You have numbered them, backed up the files and created a folder for them.

 I like to keep it easy and simple.  I number the images chronologically, and if I have converted any to black and white or am keeping additional cropped images, I just add a letter to the number.  In other words, if the original file is number 100, the cropped file is 100C and the black and white file is 100A.
I name the folder (collection) with a date;  Coastal Trip 2014, which will also be the name I give the collection when registering my copyright.

Now you'll create a zip file.  If you have never done this before, download something free like WinZip and it will walk you through the process.  This is the recommended file type that the copyright site prefers for a collection.  It compresses the images and takes less time to upload.

As an added note about backing up your data, I back up all of my images this way;  I keep the RAW originals on the SD card,  save a copy of the TIFF's on a CD and a flash drive, as well as my external hard drive.  I try to keep at least two of these some place other than my home, like a safety deposit box.

I prefer to register my collection before I ever publish one image.  Publishing basically means going public;  uploading to the internet, on a blog, offering an image for sale, etc.  I heard a lawyer say that it could be more difficult to win a suite of infringement on an image that was copyrighted after it was published.

Now you are ready to copyright your unpublished work. Go to and click on the box that says Register a Copyright.
You will need to create an account.  Once you have an account you can sign in at any time and check the process of your registration or register new works.
I highly recommend downloading or printing out the eCO Tutorial PDF, it will give you great guidance through the process.

Back on the eCO site, follow the instructions and carefully read all of the choices you have.  You can go back and make changes, or save your work and finish later (note however, that your work is not registered until you have completed the process).  The whole process could take up to a half hour or more, so plan on it.

You will pay for your registration before you upload your work, this is explained in the Tutorial.  Just follow the instructions and you'll be fine.  Be sure and print out a copy of your receipt (this expense is a tax deduction by the way).  Also be sure and wait for the upload to complete, this could take up to 15 minutes. 

Application processing times are lengthy, up to 8 months, but your copyright is effective as of the date of online registration.  So, you do not need to wait for your certificate before publishing your work.  For mail in processing I believe it is when they receive your completed submission. 

Congratulations!  Your collection is now copyrighted!
Always use caution when putting your images online.  Most of the time you can watermark your images (by adding text such as copyright 2014 Jeni Gray Photography).

Copyright is just good business.  It's not that we're all paranoid about having our images stolen, but it happens and registering for copyright is like getting insurance. 

Now you can go on about your creativity.  However, if you have had a bad experience, or just want to take it a step further, there is a wonderful new site called where you can ask to be invited for their Beta program.  I am registered there and find it fairly easy to use.  
After you are a member and they have your information, their search engines seek out your images online - globally.  You can run through the findings and search for unauthorized users.
The great thing about Pixsy is that they work for us, if we need to file a suite they only charge "a fair success fee for all revenue" they collect on our behalf.

I've added a few more sections here from the Copyright site that answer some common questions.  I have quoted the Copyright Office and italicized the sections. 

Often asked:  There is a statement that your art is automatically copyrighted when it is created.  This can lead to the misconception that you are also protected.  The following paragraph from the copyright site should help you understand why it is important to register.

Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within 5 years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration” and Circular 38bHighlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), on non-U.S. works."


The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration."

And for the international conundrum:
The United States has copyright relations with most countries throughout the world, and as a result of these agreements, we honor each other's citizens' copyrights. However, the United States does not have such copyright relationships with every country. For a listing of countries and the nature of their copyright relations with the United States, see Circular 38aInternational Copyright Relations of the United States."

So there is an easy outline to get you started on your way to copyrighting your art!  Please feel free to leave any additional questions in the comments that you haven't found on their site, or don't completely understand.  

Best of luck in your Art Business!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Skirting the Issue Part II

I am carrying on with this fun new way of enclosing the gaps around my place.
This time it is the structure I call the mudroom, or front porch.  It was built as an addition to the mobile home and works well as a porch.

Previously it was enclosed with plywood - which of course began to rot over the years and was a perfect breeding ground for mice inside.

Since I had such good luck with the fence boards on the addition in back, I thought I'd try it on the mudroom.

It looks good and will last a long time.  I have run a board along the bottom, above the ground to attach the lower ends to avoid warping.

Here it is on the other side.  It adds a nice finished look to the structure.

I'm still working on the front porch and trim paint above.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Skirting the Issue

If you've been following the blog you know I have a large addition built on the back of my mobile.  When I bought the place it wasn't finished.  I threw on some stuff and forgot about it - till this year when I finally took the steps needed to put a nice finish on it.

It's built as post and pier, so there's an open gap underneath.  Mobile homes have skirting to enclose these gaps, buildings usually have foundations or some kind of skirting to finish it, as well as weatherproof it and keep animals out.

I get a lot of my ideas from Pinterest and found this one to be perfect for this end of the addition.
I used treated fencing boards, cut to size as pickets, with a small gap for airflow.  The ground is lined with patio blocks and gravel under that.

 It's a finished look, structurally adequate and adds a little charm to the old place.

I'll be adding gravel back here, rearranging the potted plants and chairs, so stay tuned for future posts on that.

** By the way, in previous posts there was a platform deck in this area and this was called the Privacy Deck Area, however time and weather  took its toll on the re-purposed wood I used and it needed to be removed.

Fence Me In

I have lived here 11 years and always dreamed of a real wood fence along the property line between me and a very close neighbor.  2016 is my year to make this dream come true!

My friend and mentor helped me build this cedar fence.  What an involved process it was with leveling, digging deep holes, mixing concrete and buying supplies.

This section of fence is the perfect privacy screen, sight and sound barrier for folks who love their space.  6 feet tall and over 30 feet long, it will last a good long time.

From any section of the yard I can sit and admire my plants and wildlife - in privacy!

My next phase for this section is to add more plants.

In the back we installed a 10 foot section that now allows me a cozy little spot to hang out in peace.
Plus it creates a much needed wind break!

Stay tuned for more improvements!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bathroom Make Over - Again

Who said you should only redo the bathroom once?

After eight years I decided to redo the bathroom once again.  I was actually getting tired of looking at those surf boards, although cute, were starting to wear on me.

So the first version was covered in this post from 2008: .

Last Fall I dove in with a whole new look;  calmer, more mellow, minimalist.

I mixed the paint myself, it's a creamy beige.  I removed all of the wood trim and caulked the seams.  Pictured here (finished) with a new shower curtain and new art.

I made a tile back-splash and found a cool old hook for a hand towel rack.  I already had the wood towel racks.

The art is from a new friend I found on Etsy, Edwardo, from Spain.  He paints beautiful watercolors.  These two matched my decor perfectly.

I even painted the floor.  As per my previous success with the dining room floor, this was a terrific idea.  It really lightened up the whole room!

All floor trim was replaced with cove base, made for bathrooms and kitchens.

One last radical redo was this space above the furnace - (yes, it's in the bathroom).  Previously I used it for towels and other bathroom supplies.
Now it is strictly decor.  The salt lamp is a perfect night light too.

So there's my modernized bathroom make-over for this year!

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