This Moment: 7:32 P.M. July 31, 2011

The sudden cloudburst ended as quickly as it began, a reprieve to the dog days. Sirius has one more month to punish with his cruel heat. My small dog is curled on the bed, whimpering in his sleep. The older, larger dog is on his floor pillow, grooming his foot as diligently and loudly as if she were picking a bone clean. A fly buzzes in the windowsill and Emily and Death enter and share the quiet with me. Curious, how easily visitors enter and leave the mind through the same door. A dove is cooing and I wonder about the wounded dove from the other day, that wandered toward my car as I drove carefully to a stop to avoid crushing it. The bird came to me, unafraid. My daughter placed it in the brush by the side of the road. I wished for it a gentle death. Later that evening a dove sat unmoving on the bottom step of my back stairs. I could not imaging it was the same dove from earlier. It wasn't. After a few moments, the dove flew away. In our lives we are like the dove, moving toward and away from our fears, our fate.

Quote Therapy: Colette

"Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet" Colette

I always thought I was a cat person.

Our family always had a dog when I was growing up, but it was the kittens I toted everywhere. Cleopatra was my favorite cat. I also loved the bum lambs and calves that had to be bottle fed, and I was bereft, absolutely bereft, when Nature took its natural course, and they died. My favorite rescue, Linus, was herded on to the slaughter truck by mistake, instead of in the sheering pen. It was a moment from Wagner's Gotterdamerung -the crazy fury section -when I realized the fate of my pet lamb.

Did I mention I grew up on a farm?

I have a weakness for strays, for underdogs. Sheena of Fanfur, Grand Champion,1986, was a rescue. She was a full bred Persian, which means she looked like she'd ran straight in to a wall and flattened her face, and she always sounded like she was snoring. Her story is a queen to peasant story, due to her contracting the fatal and contagious disease, feline leukemia, thereby endangering the cattery, (who knew there were such things, or that there were show cats?). It was either find a home for her or put her down. I got her through a friend that worked at a local vet. I had to have an interview her owner before I was allowed take her. I passed and she outlived my first marriage, but died suddenly. She had a taste for whiskey, and my daughter was certain it was alcohol that had killed her rather than a relapse. Sheena's original owner was colorful. He made his fortune in wheat, and claimed to have been a drummer for Elvis. I never checked it out, I suppose I could Google it, but I prefer to keep the story as is. unverified.

My daughter and I found Ellie, our blue healer/border collie mix at the pound. I hedged until my four-year-old prostrated herself against the cage, wailing, after the keeper revealed that the dog was literally at death's door. A very hard sell, so we had no choice. We brought Ellie home, but I considered taking her back that first night when she chewed a corner off my dining room hutch. She has dug up more flowers and lawn than I'd like to admit. She ran a track in the lawn around the house. She would accommodate my daughter and her friends and play "horse" and clear five foot posts. That is all in the past now, although she is still doing well despite, one serious encounter with a car,a subsequent hip surgery, and her sixteen years. She still comes with me on my shorter walks.

Of all of our cats: Sheena, Isabella, Rosie, and Queen Victoria, Rouger is the only feline still in residence. I named each of my cats after queens. Isabella after Isabella of Toledo, because her coat reminded me of Spain's queen, Queen Vicoria after England's queen, because the cat was stout. She weighed 39 pounds when I brought her home. My daughter named Rosie and Rouger. As I said Rouger is still among the living. My daughter found her, squalling and near death. When we brought her home, you could compare her heft and weight to that of a small candle. She is now an angular, feral cat. Her desperate first few weeks shaped her behavior, and she stalks her food dish, and will not tolerate the dogs good will. Ellie has begun stealth attacks in retaliation.

I'm certain my penchant for strays and rescues is psychological evidence about the deep nature of my psyche, or that I am a identify on some level, but whatever. I said that we found all of our pets at the animal shelter. That was true until my husband, who up until he brought this tiny puppy home from California, hadn't shown much evidence of being an animal lover. Harley was four pounds when he arrived, and he's up to fifteen as of yesterday's vet visit for an embedded barley beard in his front paw. He's lost two pounds walking this summer. Ellie has lost six.

Harley was so small I carried him around in the pocket of my sweatshirt. For the first month we had him, I held him until he protested. He's terribly behaved, and a great contrast to Ellie in temperament.

I'm firmly a dog person now. I still love cats, but it's different relationship. I really never got it when dog people would go on and on about their canines. Now I get it. Dogs love you. They really love you. And they put up will all the petting and scratching and teasing. No matter what, every time you walk through the door,regardless of how many times a day, your dog is happy to see you.

It's a three dog life. And to this point I've had my three. One in childhood. Two in adulthood.

Artist of the Day:Owl Person Holding the Opening for Creation in Her Wings - Blue Fire MacMahon

Owl Person Holding the Opening for Creation in her Wings Blue Fire MacMahon

Owls fascinate. For years, every evening a snowy owl flew over my house on its way to my Honey Locust tree. One pass it dropped a small coffin-like bundle of bones and twigs. Last year a large owl took residence in the same tree the evening before a very important meeting. My daughter and I walked right under the tree and it didn't fly off, just looked at us with great intensity.

Ancients believed that birds were the messengers of the gods. I do as well. Any time I am about to have a huge shift in my personal, emotional, spiritual life, my intellectual life, my career, my anything, a bird will present itself in a dramatic way. This summer was a hummingbird literally helicoptering around my head. Since that encounter, I've noticed two hummingbirds on my morning walks. Hummingbirds are territorial, so it's no surprise that these two are in the same place, defending their branch.

Years ago when I was really trying to decide if I should divorce my first husband, I was standing in the bathroom looking at myself in the mirror, really working on giving myself a wrinkle between my eyes, when I heard a bird squawking. I thought it was the robins having yet another fight, but to my surprise, it was a bird that flew clockwise from side railing to screen door to front railing, screeching the entire time. My approach through the living room didn't stop its behavior, even when I was standing at the screen door with my hand in the place where it would grasp the screen and then fly off for the railings. I remember it seemed like this ritual went on for minutes. Afterwards, I tried to remember what I'd been thinking about: divorce. A few weeks later I opened the front door and a bird flew in and then proceeded to crash into the windows until it landed, exhausted, on the ceiling fan. I finally shooed it out. Birds flew in the house two more times. Sometimes it takes a lot for me to get the message. I got it.

Monday an eagle drifted lazily overhead. I didn't take this as any kind of real sign, but noted the siting in my journal.

I found this great owl sculpture on etsy, I mean, where else? I love it,(the sculpture and etsy). Can't you see owl right there in the beginning with the whole of creation in her wings? The chalky texture of the paint reminds me of oxides or using natural elements on the surface, (and of the time I pit-fired pots and burned horsehair and sawdust images as they emerged from the pit, but that's another story).

Be sure to check out Blue Fire's blog for more sculptures. What a cool name. I think I'd rename myself Scarlet Ibis or Celedon Water...just doesn't work, does it?

Artist Bio:
I am Blue Fire.

....I've been doing artwork in various mediums throughout this lifetime....I've been working with clay and selling my creations for 20 years.
.....i create sacred clay art... standing at the doorway, the Mystery, bringing my passion into being through my heart, hands and clay. i work with my dreams and mother earth's sacred body, from which she creates and nurtures all of life... i bring into being that which comes.... blessed by sacred fire the art / creation begins its ceremony / life.
read more about what goes on in my world at my blog:

Artist Statement:
I feel like when i go into my studio and start to work i am just holding an opening for creation. I just assist something that is happening all the time anyway, it is the natural order of this world. Such a joy to open to creation and participate in that way.

9-1/2" wide, 4-1/2" tall

Hand made from red clay and fired ceramic colors of the rainbow.
In the close up photos, you can see the way these ceramic glazes look like chalk or pastels. I work with colors the way a painter does...that's because i started out as a painter!!! and then i discovered the magic of clay. But still love working with the infinite possibilities of colors!!!! so my artworks are a combination of those two very different mediums.

Most of my sculpture is for display INDOORS ONLY. Inquire about custom art work for outdoors.

Artist of the Day: The Getaway - Linda Monfort

The Getaway - Linda Monfort

I like the aggressivenes of this painting. Perfect for a hot, hot July afternoon. Check out her work on her etsy site.

Artist Bio:With a B.A. degree in art from San Diego State University, I worked as a graphic designer and art director.

I later focused my energy into creating copper enamels, etched glass and designing and hand-painting texturized furniture using hand-made stencils. I then had a ten year career designing high end room size custom area rugs working with interior designers.

My style of painting has evolved through many years of exploration. My copper enamels, both hard edge and ethereal, translated in later years into a spontaneous painting style using acrylic paint and my stencil technique. This sometimes gives the appearance of air brushing. Bold colors and swift, blunt strokes predominate. These are sometimes complemented by India ink, charcoal and delicate areas of colored pencil and/or soft pastel. Today I paint original contemporary abstract expressionist paintings, original contemporary abstract and impressionist landscape and floral paintings and original contemporary figurative paintings in acrylics on stretched canvas.

Some of my pieces have an oriental influence due to a period of time spent living in Japan during my impressionable childhood years.

I have created and sold over 1800 original paintings over the last 10 years online and through galleries and commissions.

My award winning art has been viewed in many juried exhibitions, galleries, and in private/corporate collections internationally.

Pearl Harbor - Oahu, Hawaii: Photo Essay

USS Arizona and Ford Island.

USS Arizona Memorial.

1,102 names, the honored dead, inscribed in marble.

USS Arizona gun turret mount.

Oil still seeping up from the USS Arizona, commonly known as the, "tears of the Arizona".

Entry map at the Pearl Harbor Memorial - countries or posts where my father was stationed or served.

Ford Island. My father's barracks were about a block from the white submarine tower (almost covered by trees in photo), and one-hundred feet from Battleship Row.

Young woman taking bridal photos - a hopeful conclusion to the visit to the memorial.

Haleiwa North Shore - Oahu, Hawaii: Photo Essay

Artist Heather Brown with one of her surf-inspired paintings.

Tectonic band at Wyland Galleries Heather Brown artist reception.

Rainbow driving back from Haleiwa listening to IZ singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow, (not making it up).

Turtle Bay - Oahu, Hawaii: Photo Essay

Beach shots.

Shrimp truck.

Garlic shrimp & fresh pineapple coconut drink.

Burned out building on the side of the road.

Artist of the Day: Hello Little Thailand - Abbie Zuidema

Hello Little Thailand - Abbie Zuidema

I love maps. Love them. I cover canvas, board, any surface with a map to serve as an underdrawing for any painting I'm working on, no matter the subject.

Zuidema's watercolors are charm with an edge.

Check out her paintings on etsy and on the her website.

Artist Bio:
Abbie J. Zuidema received a BFA in painting from Rhode Island School of Design in '98. She lives & works as an artist in Brooklyn creating intimate watercolor paintings of maps and food for magazines around the country. Her work has been shown nationally in museums and galleries & was most recently published in Jaime Oliver magazine.

Her paintings are meant to be enjoyed, to be life enhancing. Art should be accessible to everyone, to be lived with and shared.
Abbie describes her process on her website: "It is about consumption. I get to look and digest how things are made: the silkiness of the ribbon, the details of lace, and the shininess of packaging. My work is about desire, and the question, what makes us want things. To better understand that human impulse of desire."
see more of her work on ~

Quote Therapy: The Art of Uncertainty - Dennis Merritt Jones

"We were born fully equipped to break free of past confining conditions that no longer serve us. And it is our destiny to do so. That inner impulse, that yearning to explore beyond the boundaries of our daily life permeates every living thing, and its voice perpetually whispers in our inner ear, 'Grow, grow, grow...' But, there is another voice that often speaks much louder, the voice of fear. It shouts, 'No, no, no... Stay right where you are. While you may not like it, you risk nothing by staying put.' But, unfortunately, that is the big lie. There is a great risk in resisting the divine urge to grow." Dennis Merritt Jones, The Art of Uncertainty

On our recent sisters retreat to Oahu, we were to bring treats for each other. I brought black and white bars, really delicious on the main land, but not so much on the island. Sugar just can't compete with mangoes and fresh pineapple. One of my sisters brought magazines for her treat. I chose whole living: body+soul in balance magazine, and found this quote on page 126, in case you're interested.

Stasis has been a huge problem for me for about four years now, as in I am in a mire and cannot get out, mainly because of fear of the unknown, so when I read this quote, it shouted, listen up, Danna! I'm talking to you!

I've been in the deep rut of the devil you know is way better than the devil you don't variety. Those of you who are the other side of making a major life decision, are probably rolling your eyes. Believe me, I'm rolling my eyes at myself.

When I was a kid, I was fearless, mainly because I believed I was bulletproof, but also because I wanted to be the leader, the one who made up the script and assigned roles. I always wanted to be the brave one, the risk taker, the not-a-coward. I'm still a risk taker in many areas, but in this one area, not so much, actually, not at all. Four years is a very long time to know something and keep hedging because it may, well, it will tip the ship and sink it.

I'm a good swimmer.

The voice that once whispered is now screaming, (yes, Oprah's words). I believe doing nothing is a risk, especially when you know, you know, you really know, what it is you should risk in order to grow. It's a given that a fish in a small tank will not grow to full potential, a plant in too small a pot will wind its roots in the confines for only so long before it withers.

My mother has a stepping stone in the flower bed outside her front entry that states, "Grow Dammit!" Yes, grow dammit, indeed.

I went to the ocean every morning last week and asked for the strength to risk. At the Valley of the Monuments, I struck a giant bell outside the temple that housed Amida, a giant gold Buddha,three times, asking the same request. All this week that I've been back in the desert I've reminded myself that what was so clear in tropical air is just as vivid in the desert.

I've come up with a game plan:
1. From reading The Book of Salt, I read that Gertrude Stein wrote for fifteen minutes each day. When I was first writing, I'd write for roughly fifteen to thirty minutes, but then I read about other writers discipline of writing for hours, talked to my writer friends about their intense work ethic, and tried to be a real writer by sitting at the computer for as long as I could take it. The reality is, I can only be their writer I am. That said, I will go back to my original writing discipline of writing in short burst, thanks to Gertrude. Like Gertrude Stein, I will write intensely, every day, every single day, for a quarter of an hour.

2. The moment of truth is here, so, I willbe like Nike and just do it, say it, blurt it.

3. Grow, dammit!

I haven't read this book, but found this:Summary: The Art of Uncertainty

What if we could learn to accept I don't know and embrace the possibility that the future is full of mystery, excitement, and unlimited opportunity?

The Art of Uncertainty is an invitation to the reader to consider its essential message: learning to love the unknown by staying present in the moment. If the difficulties of recent years have taught us anything-particularly those who "did everything right" and still saw it all fall apart-it's that none of us has as much control over our lives as we believe. The only thing we can control is our next thought.

What if we could learn how to be at peace with uncertainty and embrace the possibility that the future is full of mystery, excitement, and unlimited opportunity? What if we discovered that a new paradigm can be more fulfilling, more rewarding, and more peaceful than what we have known? Living in the I don't know and loving it is an art form we can all master, and The Art of Uncertainty is the perfect guidebook.


Snorkeling at Shark's Cove & Sea Turtles at Turtle Bay -Oahu, Hawaii: July 11, 2011

Polynesian Cultural Center & Luau - Oahu, Hawaii- Photo Essay: July 11, 2011

Honolulu, Hawaii - Photo Essay: July 12, 2011