Bandit’s Last Ride

It was no surprise.  Bandit, our little red cattle dog, age 17 had been declining for months.  Like any elderly soul, we dealt with his incontinence and difficulty walking.  We put a doggy ramp on the porch stairs but on his last days put a sling under him to help him outside.

I’ve written about Bandit before in other posts- Stroller Dog and In the Company of Another Old Dog. I’ve loved all my dogs but he was exceptional in so many ways.  When his arthritis got too bad I  had altered a jogging stroller and a bike trailer so he would not miss out on our outdoor excursions.

The day before Bandit took his last breath, we carried him out to his beloved stroller.  I took him for one last ride down our favorite country road to the rushing creek swollen by the recent rains.  Even in his declining state, I could see the pure delight in his face as he took it all in.

We buried him out in a quiet corner of the yard under a big pine tree.  I fashioned a cairn in his honor to mark his grave and hung his collar on top. Bandit basically died of old age, wearing himself out by living well.  If we can only be so lucky.

We borrow the souls of our four-legged friends.  At some point, we have to let them go.  Their passing leaves holes in our hearts but in return, they give us such love and fond memories.

Goodbye Bandit

Rest In Peace

Jan. 16, 2021

Bandit’s final resting place
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A Zine is Born

Zine (according to the Urban Dictionary)

Some sort of publication, usually mass-produced by photocopying(in some cases, scanned, put on the ‘net, or copied via fax)on any range of topics, but usually filled with passion. A means of telling one’s story, sharing thoughts, and/or artwork/comics/doodles.

The instructor for the Zine lesson of my year-long Words & Pictures class made a 16 page zine of his favorite mustards.  Now there’s a quirky idea.  How could I top my favorite mustards?

 I took a look back in my sketchbook and came across some silly doodles of triangles.  The triangle doodles eventually morphed into silly triangle birds.  Then I noticed that all the triangles happened to be isosceles triangles (two sides of equal length).  Hmm.  How about if I made a zine just about silly things made up from isosceles triangles.  Thus I went about writing and publishing my first zine, The Isosceles Triangle Illuminated.

This was a perfect pandemic project.  I had a hilarious time brainstorming and drawing my triangle ideas.  The hardest part was correctly photocopying the back to back so the pages would be in the correct order.  Instead of Holiday cards, I sent them out to friends for a good laugh. 

Want one of my isosceles triangle zines?  Use my contact page and for only $5.51 I will send you one!

For more info on making a zine click here

My Words for the New Year 2021

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions.  That concept sounds so burdensome.  Instead, I have a personal tradition of picking one or more words to aspire to live by for the coming year.  I revisit these words from time to time and check in on how I’m doing.  (Writing them on the bathroom mirror is a very effective strategy.)

My words for 2020 were acceptance and focus.  I almost wore out the word acceptance with the pandemic and political matters and it’s unlikely I can ever truly accept the damage of the forest fires had here in Oregon this year.  Climate change is unacceptable and is something I will always fight against.  Thus it has been a mixed bag with that word.  FOCUS has been an ongoing challenge for me but I am happy to report that I am BETTER!  Being a creative soul I am forever distracted by my thoughts and every shiny thing that comes along in my day.  Now though, I am more aware of my distractions and am honing a system to keep me on track.

This December I mulled over what my new words would be.  I wait to see what will bubble up to my subconscious and pick the ones I resonate with the most.  So drumroll..  my new words are:

Commitment–  I allowed myself this year to go “fallow” and dabble in a lot of creative pursuits.  Now I am ready to synthesize what I’ve learned into specific avenues.

Generosity– Give more of my time, talent, and money to others

Focus – This word remains on the list as I need more work with it.

Let the year unfold!  What are your words for 2020?

and my poem for you this New Year

A Toast for 2021

It’s the season of new

the Earth has spun through the heavens

and arrived at the place we call the beginning

a bookmark we humans have put in the order of things

the New Year, the first day of the first month of the 21st year of the 21st century

All is new, yet all the same

a cycle in a continuum of millennia

yet a comfort that we have a fresh start in our minds

Shall we proceed then with our new slippers

virgin calendars full of exotic pictures

day planners devoid of marks

and forge on with gusto?

for we have been given another turn

a blank canvas to paint another 12 months upon

Let us mix up our palettes with new intentions

hope, faith and the unseen circumstances that will surely find us

stroke, splash, and drip with abandon

make your marks with love, touching others with color

bringing forth new memories

painting this Earth a brighter place

Check out my other blog onesweetearth.art.blog on sustainable living.

The Darkest Night is Just Before the Dawn

We have arrived at the Winter Solstice, the tipping point where we in the N. Hemisphere mark the point where the earth will begin to rotate back to the sun’s full exposure. The Winter Solstice marks the longest night and the shortest day of the year.  While our modern calendar denotes it as the first day of winter, I and others from the time of the ancients mark it as the return of the light each day forward, bit by bit.  It is a time of hope and new beginnings – like a solar New Year. 

In a couple of hours, a few friends will gather at my home, take a walk, circle around a bonfire, sharing readings and thoughts.  We will also toss into the fire the things we are hoping to leave behind.  There are plenty for this year 2020 that I don’t even need to mention.  As we turn the corner in the heavens, let us heal from these disasters and let the fires of hope burn bright.

Happy Solstice!

Winter Solstice at Midnight

It is fairy dark

You can see their

Tiny torches in

The moonless night

Seeds stir

In their slumber

The earth turns on its axis

toward the light

The blaze of the fire

lights the shadows

hope burning bright

in our hearts

Sky Dance

Some of you may have witnessed this event called a “murmuration” of starlings- thousands of starlings swirling through the sky in a grand, seemingly coordinated performance. If you haven’t, do watch the video included with this post. I have noticed them more this year than in years past.

With technical photography, scientists are understanding more about the phenomenon. I think its one of natures “trade secrets.”

Murmurations

I am not fond of starlings

But in late autumn

Sometimes they crowd in the treetops

In a chirping chorus

Like a reunion of relatives

With an abundance of news to share

Who knows what stirs these rather uninspiring birds

To gather in in such a cacophony

Then on queue as if the din is too much

They rise from their perches to find positions

In an undulating dance that wafts over harvested fields.

They dip, swirl and twirl as one body

Thousands of avian forms performing with

Ballet grace in the sky

I pause from my walk to watch with reverence

A celebration?

A spiritual rite?

Scientists still don’t know quite how or why

A mystery

But I know magic when I see it

Alanna also blogs about sustainable living at onesweetearth.art.blog

Why I am Still Blogging After Four Years

My WordPress account just renewed.  Here it is- my fourth year and I am still at it.  My first post was on Jan. 4, 2017.  I started blogging during the aftermath of the 2016 election.  At that time, I thought I could not survive the chaos, but here I am, bruised by events but not defeated.  I am thankful for the companionship of my pen which has acted as a lightning rod, keeping me grounded during difficult times.

When I write down the bits of my life the unremarkable becomes remarkable. Those bits become a pathway back to myself when I get lost. Writing combs the tangled strands of my thoughts back into an orderly fashion. When I share my writing with others in a blog post it’s like leaving footprints in the universe to perhaps help others on their journey.I have shared poetry, personal stories, opinions, artwork and photography. It’s been a hodgepodge of myself.

For the most part, my blogging is a weekly practice, a Sunday morning ritual that affirms my existence. I have no master plan or theme as is advised.  During the week I try to pay attention to what pops into my mind worthy to blog about.  It’s an intuitive process.  I don’t fret about topics.  I write for myself but I’ve noticed that the posts where I stay truest to my own sensibilities get the most readers.

If you are reading this post, I am grateful for your time and attention.  It’s gratifying to have readers from all over the world, sometimes from countries that I have never heard from.  Today I have had readers from India, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Indonesia, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mauritius, and Malaysia. I have met some great blog friends and hope to connect with them in person some day in the non-Covid future!

If you are not a writer, I encourage you to write a few words a day.  It doesn’t have to be good- but if you make it a daily practice, you will improve.  It’s a journey worth pursuing.  If you choose to blog- go for it. It’s much more meaningful than Facebook Meanwhile, see you on the blogosphere!

Alanna also blogs about sustainablility on onesweetearth.com

Why I push My Dog in a Stroller

My dog Bandit is now 17 years old. He walks like a very slow wind up toy that sometimes tips over. The things that keep him going in life are his pain meds, love of food, and our stroller walks. Most of the time it’s local but on occasion he gets to the beach or on mountain trails. The stroller functions as his wheelchair. We are an item as we walk down the local roads. Often we are greeted by smiles and waves as people drive by. Then I get a lot of puzzled looks like “why is that woman pushing that 45 pound dog in a stroller?” Small children are often filled with a combination of delight and confusion.

I wrote this little poem to provide some insight…

Stroller Dog

I  missed our walkabouts

His cattle dog body

All worn out

So I bought him a stroller

That saw four children grow

Then fixed it up

So he could go

But instead of being side by side

I happily push him in his ride

By orchard, vineyard, fields of clover

Sheep and cows, up hills and over

His old dog face now young and free

I know he’d do the same for me

Up the lanes he would be panting

coasting down I would be chanting

“Good boy, good boy!” with so much glee

and he would say…

“Thank you, thank you for loving me.”

Young Bandit age 5
Bandit also has a bike trailer!

Alanna also blogs about sustainablity at onesweetearth.art.blog

Covid in the Time of Thanksgiving

As of tomorrow, Nov. 17, the state of Oregon, my home will be locking down again, but in a gentler way this time.  Covid is on the rise and steps are being taken as are all around the world.  (I do find it interesting this surge is occurring just about two weeks after Halloween- hmm).  Goodbye swimming pool and library for a bit (sigh).

Nothing much surprises me anymore.  Coming from a biology, ecology background I always thought it would be the microbes that would bring the human race down to its knees – but not in my lifetime. Then, never did I think I would witness our democracy chewed up like a dog toy in the mouth of a deranged pit bull- but here we are.

This reminds me of an incident I witnessed as a small child. My father was patching a hole in a wall of our house.  It was a substantial hole, at least 6 inches wide.  Now how that hole came to be will always be a mystery to me.  Was it from a fist? Unlikely.  It was probably an electrical fix that needed access through the wall.

Whatever the cause, it left a profound effect on my young mind. Until that time I believed my home to be an invincible fortress, impenetrable through any crisis. Then instantly I realized that it was merely a shell surrounding our family subject to damage beyond our control.  Oh, how that fact played out in the future.

I have found through the years that the only real security we have is in our hearts, minds, creativity, and spiritual life.  The rest is subject to holes (and sadly, sometimes even some items in that list). Politics will always be a mess.  This Covid thing will pass but then it will be something else.  This holiday season will be dampened but there is still room for gratitude and love.  Here is my shortlist…

The Color of Clay

Clay can be dirt in the wrong hands, but clay can be art in the right hands.

Lupita Nyong’o

I work in clay when the mood arises.  In its simplest form, clay is mineral earth, devoid of organic matter. 

For millennia humans have dug their own to make vessels and pieces of art. The clay most artists use in modern times comes from factories.  Different formulations of minerals will mature at different temperatures and will have different properties that are specific to wheel or sculptural pieces. The hotter the temperature the clay fires to, the stronger the finished product.   I generally work in a midfire range clay that matures at approximately 2200 degrees F. 

Within that temperature range there is a variety of colors to choose from that range from white, tan, rust, and brown.  The color of the clay is from pigments or minerals that have been added.  For example, iron oxide gives terra cotta its deep rust color and burnt umber makes clay a toasty brown.

 I like to experiment with different colors of clay.  Since I work with sculptural rather than functional pieces (such as mug and bowls), I use glaze more as an embellishment, preferring to showcase the color of the clay body I’m working with.

When you purchase clay, the fired product will be a different color than the wet clay in the bag. Often white clay will appear gray in its wet form.  Dark clays will lighten or darken depending.

The firing process used to be literally done with a wood fire and in some places still is. I use an electric kiln to fire my pieces.  When the kiln gets up to temperature the individual particles of clay will vitrify, or fuse, creating a permanent, waterproof object.

The clay will perform the same, no matter how it’s colored- it’s how it’s molded that creates differences in strength.  It’s only by fire that clay unites as one.

Clay has so much to teach humanity.

Visit my other blog about sustainable living at onesweetearth.art.blog

Zinnia’s Kittens

She was the fourth in a line of feral or stray cats that had found their way to our property.  First, they find shelter in the barn. Then, over a period of days or weeks, they grow bolder. Eventually, they wind up on the porch staring in the kitchen window, hoping for a meal.  They stay for a while, just enough time for me to grow fond of them, and then disappear- their fate not to be known.

Zinnia was different.  I could tell she was in the early stages of pregnancy looking for a safe anchor.  Poor dear- a teen pregnancy, barely not a kitten herself. She was petite, with a sleek body that sported a shiny black coat. Her topaz eyes that glowed like the high beams on a car, visible from across the yard.  This cat could model on a perfume commercial

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