Back to Arrowcreek trail

It’s been a while since I lasted did a post.  I have been busy working on several novels.  I am in one of those break periods when an author should spend some time away from the manuscript, so that later, one can edit the project with keener vision.

So I took a hike back to a spot that I photographed some years ago.  It was back on May 13, 2014 and was called Lower Thomas Creek Trail.  I tend to call it Arrowcreek because of the housing development that is in that area.  Looking back to the photos that I took then….not much has changed.  I think it is a little greener due to the better water conditions.  Some of the vegetation is denser, but there were less flowers.  I also think the old car had aged more and it had more vegetation growing up close to it.  If I wait another four years to see it again, I may not be able to find it.

I hope you enjoy some of the images I took on this little hike.

There were more of these back in 2014…

Mt Rose looks pretty in the distance

The water was running more aggressively this time, which is good for the area in general.

Here is the old car. My Mom thinks this got lodged here during a flash flood that happened during the mid sixties. There were no houses in this area during that time.

Trail comes back to a nice little park good for kids.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures.

G.Winkler ©2018

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Posted in Digital Photography, Flowers, Nevada, Photography, Travel


These are probably some of the most unapproachable plants in the area.  They kinda remind me of a Sarlacc pit with all those pointy things poking out towards the sky.  But they do have a lovely color and an interesting yet prickly construction.  So this morning when I saw a bunch of the dreadful things while taking a walk, I thought…..Oh hey, I should take pictures of these.  And here are my results.  These thistles do lend themselves as being great for photographic subjects.   I left the images large you you can enjoy the detail that I was able to capture.  I hope you enjoy my little collection here.

G. Winkler  ©2017

This one especially made me think of the Sarlacc Pit on Tatooine because of all the center point inside.



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Posted in Art, Flowers, Nevada, Photography

Fake Calls for Help

This morning my elderly Mom just got a call for help from a young female that sounded like one of my nieces.  The sobbing female said she was in jail after being in a car accident.  This woman skillfully got my Mom to ask if she was one of my niece’s and say the name.  My Mom said that she didn’t sound  like herself and the sobbing female instantly said that she had broken her nose and could not talk correctly.  There was a great deal of “I’m so sorry to ask you this,” “I need money for bail,” “I only have one phone call,” and she wasn’t very clear about where she was calling from only that it was a jail in California.  She said a man would call back who had been assigned as her public defender.  Now mind you, her crime is being in a car accident without a driver’s license….hmm.

Needless to say is that this is a fraudulent call for help.  This type of scammer wants to victimize people who want to do good for their family and friends.  After getting off the phone, my first inclination was to call my niece’s mother and truly determine if she was indeed missing.  It was discovered that my niece was at her work and perfectly fine.  The message here is double check everything.  Depending upon your family or your friend, there are a number of avenues that you should take before believing such a call.  What gets me is that this upset my elderly mother and these people direct these type of scams at seniors.

So if you have elderly people in your life, sit down with them and discuss these types of phone calls and make them aware.  Make plans to have a secret password or series of questions that should be answered to prove you are indeed their loved one.  This could also affect younger people as well wishing to help friends in emergencies.  This person on the phone was a good actor and highly skilled at keeping the situation at a heightened level of distress.  When I got on the phone I attempted to calm her down and re-assure her, which strangely enough didn’t work.  I also tried to get a location of where she was supposed to be and she skillfully started crying and changed the subject to not wanting to tell her father.  She could not concentrate enough to tell me where she was, but was able to give me a case number using very clear language to make sure that I didn’t get confused on that number.

We later checked the phone ID number and it was a series of zeros.  I don’t answer blocked phone numbers or numbers that don’t give a proper ID.  This is something else that should be discussed with family members as well.    There have been scams like this before on facebook with someone trapped in a foreign country needing help.  These are not new, but when they happen to you personally, they take you by surprise, and that is why I am blogging about this so others will be able to recognize this as a scam more readily.

Remember double check these kind of stories or else you may be taken in by a good actor, who someday will find that karma has a way of finding them.

G. Winkler ©2017

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Posted in Consumer alert, fraud

Star Wars X-Wing Game Pieces

Last December my husband bought me the Star Wars X-Wing TIE Advanced ship as a gift.  I love the Darth Vader character from Star Wars and have a fondness for the cool TIE fighter that he flew.  So needless to say these cool little ships are eye catching items.  I recently bought my husband the Slave I ship that was flown by the Boba Fett Star Wars character.  So now we have two of these ships from this game set, so the next natural question is…..what is the game like and would it be fun to play?

So we decided to do an “unboxing” of the Slave I ship for a podcast.  We thought this would be fun since the box listed all sorts of pieces.  The packaging itself showed a great deal of care into making sure that these somewhat expensive little ships were not damaged along with the other pieces that were included.  Tiny zip bags held the plastic stand and its pieces along with the cards that were included.  As you can see the artwork is pretty nice and the printing is well done as well.

The only real problem I encountered while doing the podcast was trying to get the tiny plastic stand pieces together.  I actually broke both of the tiny plastic stand pieces, which upset me.  I am pretty careful with things and this was an unpleasant  surprise.  After some careful examination later while setting up the parts for photos, I discovered that the tiny posts were not the standard round peg going into a round hole.  They appeared to be a triangular shape, so one has to be very careful when trying to put them together.  I had no idea since we were filming an “unboxing” and wanted our reactions to be genuine.  You can see how the parts broke in the picture to the right.  I felt bad.  I broke my husband’s birthday present.

Another thing we learned is that we need an additional part to the game.  There is a starter’s package that has all the rules and instructions on how the game is played, so we shall have to obtain one of these before we can actually figure out how to play.  And you may be wondering why we didn’t just offer to show you the podcast?  Well, one of our crew members who was acting as the cameraman did an “Amy Farrah Fowler” and forgot to turn the camera on.  So, hopefully when we get the actual instruction box to the game, we will get that on film.

That will be for the User Friendly Podcast that you can catch on the User Friendly website.   Please feel free to check out what we currently have.

G. Winkler  ©2017



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Posted in Culture, Games, Star Wars

Darth Nihilus is here to stay

darth_nihilus-500wI just realized I never posted the results of the Darth Nihilus gear.  I did my best to be true to what the video game character looked like.  So very often video game characters as well as cartoon characters are difficult to reproduce.  Why?  Because the artist doesn’t have to worry about the actor being uncomfortable or being able to move in what is designed.  I am still in the process of getting the Kage Warrior from The Clone Wars series completed.  That is a much more complicated build.

So here is my Darth Nihilus – my first and only Sith character.  And I have no construction photos to share, which is really odd.  I previously posted photos of the progress on the mask, which was the only piece I ordered from a vendor.  I did the sanding, painting, engineering for how to make the mask work.  I also purchased a black faceless Halloween mask since I decided that I would not be able to wear the all black contact lenses and paint my face and neck black.  The black hood was a better solution and provided better coverage to retain that mysterious presence that Darth Nihilus has.  Then there was the choice of which design of clothing do I create for my Nihilus.  There appears to be two.  I opted for the one that looks like it came straight out of the video game, Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR), which is shown below.


I constructed a foam framework to create the correct shape for the hood to drape from and a breast plate.  The most difficult part was attaching the cloak, which is very heavy and has a curious style of attachment, which I did my best to emulate.  I also had to do some engineering to make sure that the whole thing stayed together and allowed me to walk about and actually use the lightsaber.  The lightsaber was the most expensive part since I had to order one that was all silver in color and had a shape that was closest to the style of Nihilus’s blade.  The pictures below were taken by Jay Hayden, a professional photographer.  My next plan is to get some kind of film footage of me in this gear – it already has people unnerved when they see me and they have no idea that I am female.  🙂



Gretchen Winkler ©2017


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Posted in Costume, Star Wars

Online Chinese Clothing


Okay, I normally don’t buy clothing online unless I already have seen the item before in person and have a good idea of what I am getting.  Just before Christmas season  I saw a red shirt that I thought would be perfect for New Year’s celebrations.  It was something that was not offered in my local area because I live in an economically depressed ……@$#&^$* place.  The shirt was pretty and looked like it was made of a soft t-shirt jersey, which is a knit fabric.  It was going to be a treat for myself.  There are pictures of it below.  So why am I sharing this with you?  Because I don’t want others to be disappointed like I am.  It is a website called


It looks like a pretty solid red that would go well with just about anything with nice long sleeves semi loose fitting towards the hips and waist yet form fitting at the shoulders and neck area and long enough to be a tunic usable with leggings or yoga pants.  Please note the statement about easy to return and the shipping time.


The bows appear to be made of the same solid looking fabric – not ribbed- knit fabric.  Note how the tunic hangs in the back nicely off the shoulders and the neck is not overly open and the sleeve fits correctly into the bodice of the garment.  The other pictures show how the sleeve can be worn long or pushed up on the arm.  Fabric in this shot does not appear to be ribbed either.

First of all, I had no idea I was ordering an item from China.  I don’t care for the lack of quality of items from China plus the length of time that it takes to arrive.  So I was surprised when after I paid for the item and received my tracking number that it showed it was coming out of China.   I was unhappy about this but I thought I would keep an open mind.  Perhaps I would be pleasantly surprised.  The website said it would take about two weeks to arrive, which would have been in time for the New Year.  It took over three weeks to arrive with very slow customer service to respond to my questions concerning the item sitting in Shanghai for two weeks.




When it did arrive, I was pleased until I opened the package.  The fabric appears to be a solid smooth knit in the photos online, but the actual fabric is a ribbed knit.  The bows in the back of the garment appear to be made of a solid knit fabric, but they are actually made of flimsy sheer fabric.  I don’t think these bows will last past three washing and three wearing of the garment.  The size proportions are all wrong unless your body is designed like a big fat potato with short skinny sticks for arms.  Needless to say, I would be ashamed and embarrassed to go out the door in this garment.  I will never wear this garment.  So what to do next?  Return it.  The website says “30 days easy return.”  So in order to do this you have to go through a bizarre process of contacting their customer service for an address to ship the item back to.  Then they grill you about why you want to return the item in hopes of making it your fault somehow.  This is not customer service.  This is not an easy return.  Buyer beware!


Look how the shoulders do not fit correctly and how wide the garment actually is and the sleeves were kinda tight making my arms feel like sausages unlike the girl in the photo, hence one of the the reasons for ordering a large.  There is also a strange lining inside the garment that is polyester? and has a lot of static electricity.


I am holding the sides to show how much excess fabric there is compared to me.  There is supposed to be a V shaped flap in the back, and you can see by the way the garment hangs underneath my armpits that this is made for a person twice my size, but with very skinny arms.


Here’s a close up.  Please note the large loose stitches and weird lining that seems to buckle at the upper neckline seam.


Poor stitching that will easy come apart after wearing and washing.


Here’s me in a shirt that is a large that is made and designed properly.

I ordered a large since I have long arms and I don’t like really tight fitting clothing.  I am no teenager or fashion model.  Sometimes I wear a medium depending upon the design and fabric type.  I am a regular gal with a pretty average shaped body.  If you buy the right size that has a good design, then just about any woman can look nice.  I am just clarifying that I didn’t expect to look as good as the models in the photos.  The photos pretty much show how awful the shirt looks and how huge the neck area is on me. I could have gotten another girl in the shirt with me because it was so wide.





Here’s proof that the grey shirt is a large.

I am still in the process of trying to get an address to return the item and get my money back.  I actually don’t know if I will get my money back.  Some of you may be saying that $25.92 isn’t much to lose, but if you live where I do and suffer from the lack of good employment opportunities, then $25.92 is a big deal.  I could have gotten something nice from Kohls or something on sale from Macys.  I am not impressed with online shopping.  It is not worth the risk unless you are buying brand name items and even then, if it is coming from China, it may be a knock off of poor quality.  I don’t need a lot of stuff, and what I do buy, I want to have last for many years to come.  That’s just the way I am.

So in my opinion, please be warned about purchasing garments from this online website – – the clothes may look pretty, but the reality is that they are a third rate mess.

G. Winkler ©2017

UPDATE: 01/09/2017

It is evident that this company does not believe in customer service or guarantee their products quality.  Below is an exchange between myself and the customer service and it shows how they do not want to refund my money and do not want their product back.  The document also stated that the item was shipped for free, but now they want to take back money for the shipping costs and expect me to pay for the item being shipped back as well.  They also want to try and get me to buy from them again.  Why would I want to do that after such bad customer service and poor quality products?  Once again, please think twice before buying anything from .  I would hate for you to get screwed like me.

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Posted in Consumer alert, Online Shopping

I’m a bad ass!

Dang. I just made an interesting realization. I must be a super bad ass mother fucker. I don’t take drugs to solve my problems.   I face them and endure them with the intent to conquer them.   And yes, I know what real pain is, ask anyone who has had migraine headaches, TMJ, heart pain, thoughts of suicide, and an allergic reaction to bleached flour that is akin to celiac disease.  Can’t take opium based pain killers because of this. No doctor told me, I had to figure it out on my own.  I also have a huge slew of allergies including being allergic to the actual allergy medicine that works.
So I am not running out to take a load of drugs or crying endlessly.  And apparently this is odd.
So I am starting to understand why I don’t understand anyone, they are all layering themselves in pills and drugs. My own best friend was giving this horrible crap called Ambien that made him act weird and nearly destroyed his health and life. And me, being the bad ass that I am, didn’t understand what was wrong with him. This stuff was making  him seriously ill.  He could have died and all because he could not sleep and some doctor prescribed this for him.  Me,  I go out and get fresh air and do physical stuff to help me sleep or I read before I go to bed.
And no, I am not some weird religious nut – so stop in your tracks right there. I have been judged that way before by druggies.  I am a person of intense strong will power and because I am this way people treat me differently because I don’t want to join them in their desire of covering up their life experiences with alcohol or drugs.   So where does that leave me?   Apparently alone as the people in this country get prescribed and self prescribe more and more drugs to cover up the life experience. So I am starting to wonder why anyone is bothering with life as being a solid being when they don’t want to be fully aware?  I am becoming concerned about the lack of careful thought concerning the use of cannabis or hemp.  It should have never been made illegal in the first place but during that time, people were more grown up in this country and took responsibility for their actions.  It was made illegal because of Randolph Hearst’s desire to corner the lumber and paper making market not because of drug use.
By this time,  I am sure some “know it all” is currently diagnosing me as having some kind of politically correct illness and will suggest some kind of drug to “help” me with my “issue”.  But why?   I am happy experiencing the full force of life’s up and downs. People feel sad, get mad, feel love, exhilaration, grief, joy, and the list goes on. Why cover up the feeling just because it is unpleasant? It is normal and natural to feel sad during bad times. It’s the warning system that lets you know that something is wrong.  For example, I cried and felt bad all day when Carrie Fisher died, but I don’t need to cover up those feelings with drugs.  Her lose meant something to me and it is normal and natural to have these feelings.  Covering them up with medication will only result in problems down the road because the situation wasn’t being faced.
I currently have an in-law that has been emotionally abusing her son.  She doesn’t see it.  She doesn’t acknowledge that her actions are hurtful.  She is also on a large quantity of prescription drugs, one of which is something called wellbutrin, which doesn’t make a person well.  She is also taking lots of other stuff that I just don’t stick my nose into.  It’s not my business.  She pretends to like me because I am married to her son.  And she is another individual that I don’t understand.  The things she does do not make sense to me.  She has two housekeepers and complains about their work and the cost but won’t fire them.  She won’t clean up the house herself either.  To make matters worse, she is a therapist, and in my estimation should really know better than to do the emotionally hurtful things that she does.  For the past 20 years, my husband and I have been making excuses for her behavior as loving family members…oh it’s menopause….oh it’s her medication….oh she’s lonely…  I am tired of making excuses for her strange and hurtful behavior.
So when I see people covering over the realities of life with pills, alcohol, an now legalized pot, I can’t help but wonder what people are going to be like in the next 20 years.  Will I understand idiocracy_movie_posteror relate to any of them?  Will they all just be a bunch of weird zombies?  What will happen to all the technical stuff?  I can’t fix trucks, or repair bridges, or do surgery.  I am just a regular person.  I am starting to feel like the guy in Idiocracy.  This really concerns me.  I am truly concerned for the well being of the current and  future generations of this country.  If the older generation is wacked out on pain meds or pot, then how do the younger ones get advice or help in times of trouble?  And if the younger generations are emulating the older ones doing the drugs, then will they know or even realize when the shit has hit the fan?
G. Winkler © 2017
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Posted in Mental Health