Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A four-footed perspective:

Life's way too short.

So wag your tail...as much as you can.

This week several of my friends have had their four-footed companions pass on or develop terminal diseases. It brings life into sharper focus. And what jumps out at me and them is how the animals who live alongside us not only share our everyday lives but our past.

Here's what I mean...when Heather, my golden retriever came into my life as a pup, my son was 2 years old, my daughter was 5. When Heather left our lives last year, my son was 19 and my daughter 22. My friend just said goodbye to her calico cat after 18 years. When her cat joined their family, their son was four. Her cat, Cleo, died this week. Her son is now 22, her daughter is in her 30's, married and living in Spain. What's brought into sharp focus here? The years may seem to drag when you're living them day by day, but when someone part of your daily life is gone, you realize that life flys by. One year you have a puppy, a toddler and a kindergartener and another year down the line, you have a teenager, a college graduate and an elderly dog.

My other friend found out her 4 year old dog, Duke, has a terminal heart condition. He may live 6 weeks or 6 months, no one knows. The sharp focus...life is short, way too short. So if all he wants to eat is butter and eggs, so be it. If he wants an extra cookie, blanket or walk in the park? He gets it.

So what's really important? Quality of life. His and hers. Yours and ours. Everyones.

Brings me back to my New Years Resolution: I Quit. Remember? I quit rushing. Multitasking and stressing. And fearfully listening to the latest health scare. Instead I'm breathing, eating and living everyday with as much joy as I can. Sounds easy. But I can tell you with life's little changes that have come my way this year, it's been tough.

I have a new four-footed canine friend, Jilly. Although she's not a pup anymore, she's still got lessons to learn even after two years, we're still working on 'come' and 'sit'. But, as I watch Jilly, get excited to go for her daily walk or jump after a ball, I realize she's got a lesson or two to teach me, too. One of the big ones: Jump. Jump for joy. Why? Because life is here, enjoy it while you can.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I couldn't believe my eyes. As I rounded the lake in my small suburban park, perched in a birch tree by the lake was a bald eagle. I stopped and stared, eyes wide and unbelieving. My husband took out the camera and moved down the grassy embankment to take pictures.

You've got to understand, my husband and I walk to this park and around the lake twice a day. Everyday. Rain or shine. All year round for over 10 years. We've seen the usual parade of park life: ducks, geese, nutrias, squirrels, jays, crows, sparrows, robins, cormorants and seagulls on occasion.

But never, ever an eagle. And we wouldn't expect one due to the closeness of the homes surrounding the little lake. And, by the way, I'm from Michigan originally, and what they call a lake here would be considered a pond there. So you see what I mean, seeing an eagle perching in a birch tree was an amazing and wonderful surprise. Another coincidence was having a camera with us. We just happened to be carrying a camera that day because there's a tree in the woods I'd been wanting to photograph for studio reference for one of my copper repousse' pieces.

I had to see this as a sign. And so on arriving home, I looked up the significance and symbolism of the eagle. Here's what I found in "The secret language of signs" by Denise Linn.

"This is a sign of great significance. To native people around the world, the eagle was a symbol of the Creator. The eagle connects you to the Great Spirit above. In ancient Egypt, the eagle was the symbol of the day and the full light of the sun, and was therefore considered emblematic of illumination. In ancient northern Europe, the eagle was associated with the gods of strength, power, and war. In many ancient cultures, the eagle was considered a messenger from the heavens. On Roman coins it was the emblem of imperial power. Listen carefully when this sign appears for you; it can signal a time of power and strength in your life of soaring freedom, of seeing life from new heights."

Right now, in our lives, both my husband and I are challenging ourselves, taking new risks, exploring new territory. The eagle landing in our lives that morning on our routine walk through the park was definitely more that coincidence. It was a sign and a very good sign for both of us.

Monday, March 03, 2008



Sometimes art can become separate from life. Put on a pedestal. Something to be viewed at a museum. Something from the past. But it doesn't have to be that way and this last weekend's SE Artwalk was proof that art is about life, everyday life and everybody can enjoy it.

The 5th Annual S.E. Area ARTwalk included the work of over 90 artists in 52 different locations in Southeast Portland between Hawthorne Street and Powell Boulevard. Giving Portlanders a wide range of businesses and studios to walk, bike, eat, and explore art. The K & F Coffee served great espresso and tea as well as the wonderful felted creations of Bonita Davis and architectural glass of Donald Leedy. Cadenza Academy featured the abstract figurative works of Joel Barber. Annie Meyer's studio showed ceramic tile paintings and monotype prints. Palio Dessert and Espresso featured the work of Abernethy Elementary School students. New Horizons Hair Design showed the art clay silver pieces of Cheryl Cook. And Metalurges featured three sculptural artists, Susan Levine, Robert McWilliams and Rabun Thompson. Just to name a few of the many art stops along the route.

The largest art gathering was at Fire and Earth featuring over 30 sculptors. Members of Pacific northwest Sculptors Guild held a group show that stimulated the imagination and tickled the creative tastebuds of artwalkers of all ages. On display were crayon-colored sculpted fish, penguins and geese. Graceful abstract steel figures. Beautiful bronze figures. Kinetic clocks. Mosiac pillows. Clay figures and reliefs. Carved wood pieces. Copper repousse'. Bronze animals, dragons, and fish.

In addition to the art, the artists were on hand to answer questions about the techniques and process that goes into to creating the works of art. And there were artists doing demos that included clay figures and a large sand sculpture to the delight of all the artwalkers.

So much to see and two whole days to take it all in. And take it in, many Portlanders did. Despite rain, hail and sunshine, the artwalkers just kept streaming into the PNWS exhibit. After all, what's a little rain in portland, the liquid sunshine city anyway? Sun or not, what really shined was the art.