Welcome to my Willow Fine Art Photography site and to my Blog page....."The Roses and Thorns of Life"

Roses for the work I do other than photography, as Proprietor of Briar Rose Reiki.  I am a Certified Reiki Master, specializing in the care of animals through Reiki and Intuitive Communication.  You may read more of this @ www.briarrosereiki.com


I divide my time between a suburb of NYC, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where my home once offered shelter to a Confederate Brigadier General and his Cavalry during the first few days of July, 1863....remembered in history as the Battle of Gettysburg.

As a kid, I adored Danny Thomas.  He didn’t just tell a joke; he told a story.  I love to tell stories, both with a pen, and with a camera.  Pages of stories can be expressed in one moment on film; I hope my photos evoke emotions, memories, or a story or two in your mind.  One of my favorite photographers is Simon Marsden.  His legacy of work will live on; he brought stories and emotions to me with each haunting photograph and image he captured.

…….. Stories are meant to be told ………..

.......Images are meant to be captured.......

Thank you Danny Thomas for igniting the spark of storytelling within a little girl…..I like to think you would have smiled at some of my stories, too.  And thank you, Simon Marsden, for opening a world of wonder through your lens to my eyes.

So if you enjoy photograpy, the supernatural, history, the antics of pets, or the mysteries of Reiki and unseen energy…….or if you just enjoy browsing down memory lane with me……pick a page………enjoy the story.......there will be many stories to tell and many photos to see....

Namaste Friends……..


"To Spay or not to Spay, To Neuter or not to Neuter........That is the question"

July 06, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

A little over a year ago, I had a beautiful family.   Then, I lost three pomeranians and my best friend Casper, a collie.   My wolfhound, Aura Lea, saved my heart from crumbling, though she was just a baby herself.  Now Aura Lea is one and half years old and the question of spaying comes up again and again.   The days of spaying at six months are now argued....there seems to be two fences.   Those on one fence say spay, it protects from cancer and infection and of course, pregnancy.   Those on the other think that canine bodies, just like human bodies, produce what is necessary to mature and grow; removing that production results in health issues down the road.

Me, I belong to the fence that says wait, especially in large breed dogs.   But now that fence has developed some bumps that I have to carefully navigate.   You see, we brought home a little collie puppy.   My heart missed Casper too much, I could not heal without another little baby to help me.  

And here lies the problem.   Collie people say don't neuter until 2, 3, 4, and sometimes 6 years of age.   How is it possible to have dogs of different gender in the house without spaying or neutering one of them.   And which do you choose.   How do you pick which pet, it is like choosing one of your children over the other.    Now, some say keep them separated during the heat cycle.   If I lived in Windsor Castle and had "wings," that would be possible.   How do you have eyes in front, in back, and on the side of your head at every moment.....

Much as the thought of wolfhound collie puppies sounds lovely, I don't wish to navigate that fence.   A responsible owner sees to it that there are no accidents; but in this time of varying opinions in veterinary medicine, achieving this is not so easy.   Each vet I talk to has his own opinion, each wolfhound group and collie group have their own opinions and I have spent a restless night deciding which fence post stands on the most solid ground.

Landon, my baby collie is three months old.   Aura Lea is approaching cycle number two any day now.   Right now, thoughts of play and food dominate my boy's mind, but in a few months.......instincts will take over.   I hope by then, I have this sorted out.

I know I will not be alone in this dilemma.   I suppose more families will be going the one gender route along that fence.   I like the personalities of girls and the personalities of boys, each brings his and her uniqueness to the family unit.  But unless this dilemma is sorted out, I fear there will be more puppies being born in responsible homes or those taking the easy way out and just spaying and neutering too soon to make life "easier." "Close-up""Close-up"



"A Dinner Companion"

July 02, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I don't go to many restaurants in Gettysburg.    Gettysburg is a tourist town, and most tourist towns mean expensive and not so healthy food.   There are a couple of out of the way places just outside town and a couple of Inns which don't fall into the "touristy trap"......these are ones locals are usually inclined to frequent.

One of these Inns has a nice glass enclosed front "porch" area for seating guests.   You can dine inside, but feel as though you are outside and enjoy the views.  

Recently, during dinner, just outside our window, this little dinner companion decided to "pop in."   He stayed for most of the meal, scampering about for fresh grass, then scurrying back to the shelter of his den beneath the rock wall.   Soon, word got out that this was a nice restaurant and more of his friends showed up.   I would have loved to share some of my salad with them.  

I love having company for dinner, especially the furry kind........

"New Beginnings"

October 29, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I have decided to move my blog to my photography website.  This way, finding my artwork and my writings will be easier.  I will slowly move some of my blogs to here, and will now write each day on this page.

Those that have followed me on wordpress are welcome to join me here.

I will post the link on the wordpress site until you all have become accustomed to finding me here.

Thank you for supporting my literary and artistic work.




"The Heart of a Taphophile"

June 05, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I love photos; not photos of cousin Joe’s wedding, though those are nice.   I love photos that tell an instant and a lifetime in one click of the button, or flash of the light. 

I love wandering cemeteries.  There is a name given to people like me, taphophiles.  Years ago, I didn’t know there was a name for this addiction, until I stumbled upon it on the computer one day.  Lo and behold, I found fellow taphophiles and treasure troves of stories in the photos taken at both famous and abandoned cemeteries around the globe.

I look for little snippets of the heart……touching mementos left at a gravestone, or weeds left to wind with abandon, each tell their own story.

For me, finding that moment that I know will transcend into my camera and into your heart is like finding a diamond in the rough.

Each resident is a diamond, some polished with manicured landscapes and some in the rough, with overgrown weeds and dandelion blossoms adorning their grave.

To me, they are all precious jewels of time, shining in the sunlight or waiting in the rain, for a taphophile’s heart and camera……………


Shirl"To the Light"

"Ghosts at the Grove in Gettysburg"

May 21, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

"Wispy Ghost" One of the most active places for me in Gettysburg is the Grove.  The Grove is the wooded grounds surrounding the Gettysburg Middle School.  There are stories of encounters in these woods,  of a little girl who looks innocent until you get close enough to see her glowing eyes…….of Soldiers wandering about above graves

where their war torn bodies were hurriedly buried.

Fighting at the Grove was so savage that weaponry became the dismembered limbs of dead soldiers, swung at the enemy when there was nothing left to fight each other with that day.

I constantly get orbs at the Grove, the trees there are especially “haunted”……..

One evening, while photographing the trees, in a matter of seconds, my camera found only darkness, then a peculiar ghostly shaped wisp, then nothingness again.  This is perhaps my favorite paranormal photo, I think the little wisp even has a little curly headed ghostly “do.” 

There are many stories of encounters and sightings at the Grove.   A guide once told me of a classroom in the Middle School busily taking an exam when the image of a soldier ran through the room and into the opposite wall.  He said the exam was cancelled for the day…….I would imagine no one felt like taking a test after that.

Whenever you build upon tainted ground, the energy remains and “moves into” the new foundation, the walls, the classrooms.   When you visit Gettysburg, be sure to stop at the Middle School.  You can see it from Baltimore Street.  Walk through the woods at night, if you dare.  I can tell you there is one spirit there with a negative energy; it followed me back to my room one night……..But that is another story, for another blog post.



"The Strength of a Woman"

March 08, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

“The Strength of a Woman”


ImageToday is an international day on the calendar to celebrate women. 

I will share the story of a woman many of you have never heard of; she is called Gettysburg’s Angel.   Her story is one of courageous strength, transcending most of the residents in her town in the  historic, summer days of 1863.

Elizabeth Thorn and her husband were caretakers of Evergreen Cemetery, in Gettysburg.  The job of caretaker fell upon her capable shoulders when her husband went off to aid in the war effort.

She managed, with some help from an elderly father until history brought unimaginable death and horror literally to her doorstep.

Elizabeth was pregnant, there were bodies heaped by the dozens in the Cemetery grounds; men in the town could not take the stench and horror and left her and her elderly father alone to manage.

And Elizabeth did; she hand dug over 100 graves……some of which still remain in Evergreen today.  If you visit Gettysburg; there is a statue of a pregnant woman, wearily wiping sweat from her tired brow, spade in hand…..visit this site…..you will learn who a hero is when you look upon Elizabeth’s face.




"The Little Ghost"

February 22, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

"Nature's Canvas" On this day, in the year 1892, Edna St. Vincent Millay was born.


And on this present day, this blog writer thanks her for this……

“The Little Ghost”………


I knew her for a little ghost
That in my garden walked;
The wall is high—higher than most—
And the green gate was locked.

And yet I did not think of that
Till after she was gone—
I knew her by the broad white hat,
All ruffled, she had on.

By the dear ruffles round her feet,
By her small hands that hung
In their lace mitts, austere and sweet,
Her gown's white folds among.

I watched to see if she would stay,
What she would do—and oh!
She looked as if she liked the way
I let my garden grow!

She bent above my favourite mint
With conscious garden grace,
She smiled and smiled—there was no hint
Of sadness in her face.

She held her gown on either side
To let her slippers show,
And up the walk she went with pride,
The way great ladies go.

And where the wall is built in new
And is of ivy bare
She paused—then opened and passed through
A gate that once was there.


I love this poem….it conjures so vividly the image of this Little Ghost…..as one so interested in the Spirit World, it has always been a favorite poem of mine.


I wonder where Edna’s ghost chooses to wander…..I hope it is in a garden as lovely as this one, and she is happily, at peace…….with no trace of sadness lingering on her spectred face…….









"What you are........we were"

February 20, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

"Remember Me" What you are…………we were”

“Quello che siete, fummo”

“What you are, we were………..

“Quello che siamo, sarite”

“What we are, you shall be”…….……

This is a quote from an Italian Cemetery……..but its meaning transcends culture and time……..

The words speak from those buried in the ground…..to those walking above…….

To me, it is the most powerful quote…..for it encompasses life’s journey…….the beginning of life and the beginning of death.

All of us who trod the earth are walking above the remains of those before us……and one day we will be walked upon as well………

Perhaps Death is not something to be feared……….for in each of our ending steps, commences the steps of our beginning path.

A quote from a well known American sums up the thoughts of a life well lived very succinctly……

“Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain”~~~~Samuel Clemens……

I love to wander cemeteries, the dead speak so eloquently amidst the crumbling stones and tangled vines…….

Every man made stone crumbles……every God made vine rejuvenates…….

The stones and the vines speak along with the dead……..

Cemeteries are peaceful places…..quiet places to listen…….and hear what speaks to you.

Highgate, in London, is perhaps, my favorite cemetery......wander its ivy laden paths through my gallery if you have never had the good fortune to trod upon this London sacred ground.

“Quello che siete, fummo”…….

“Quello che siamo, sarite”……..




"The Ghost of George Washington at Gettysburg"

February 19, 2012  •  1 Comment

“George Washington’s Ghost at Gettysburg”


In Honor of Presidents Day, I would like to share a little known paranormal story about Gettysburg and George Washington……

George Washington had a “vision” documented by his aides during Valley Forge.  He had seen a devastation…..a battle of such epic proportion that he had relayed this vision to his close aids and they had recorded it.  This documented “vision” sounds remarkably like Gettysburg……

Many believe the “vision” Washington saw was, indeed, Gettysburg…….was it a prophesy, or a tired General’s mind and body playing tricks……..

But wait, this story grows even stranger……

There is documentation of eyewitness accounts from soldiers and even Joshua Chamberlain of seeing George Washington at Little Round Top…….

Confederates told of shooting bullets that went right through this figure atop a glorious white horse that rode ahead and gave encouragement to Chamberlain’s men on their suicide bayonet mission……

Joshua Chamberlain, though he would not acknowledge this was Washington, did acknowledge seeing this man……….

So ……… was it Washington……

The father of our country, leading another army in defense of his beloved nation…..

Could his vision be some sort of wrinkle in time …….was he there at Gettsyburg…..

How I would love to see this General atop his glorious white horse as I walk the woods of Little Round Top……….




Shirl"Night Rider"



February 17, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Caroline sits in a quiet spot in Highgate.....

Her humble, kneeling posture stands out....perhaps it is the glow of grace and benevolence that exudes from the atmosphere around her.

Her poignant memorial......to a beloved wife, mother, and grandmother holds up to any celebrated, notable life now residing in this cemetery, and there are many, among them, Charles Dickens and George Eliot.  My favorite photo of Caroline is one in which several orbs appear.....a prominent one right above her head......

She will forever be my most remembered resident of Highgate.......one can feel her motherly presence in the ether........

"Caroline's Orb"

I like to tell stories.......stories in words as well as stories in pictures.......Sometimes, they go hand in hand........

If you enjoy my writings and photography, please leave a comment before you leave.....



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