Moonflowers and Magic

Yesterday was Marika’s birthday, so I want to offer her a couple of gifts.

The first is a photo of the moonflowers growing in Debby’s Fairy Garden from seeds Marika sent. They have survived bugs, storms, and oppressive heat. Though they are not yet producing flowers, just to see them growing and persevering is a recurring gift–from Marika and back to her.

In my work with Rescued Pets Movement, there are hundreds of stories I can’t or won’t tell. There is a lot of triumph in rescue–many happy endings and new beginnings. But there are unfathomable losses. And there is always for me a struggle against judgment. No one knows all the reasons a dog or cat ends up homeless or in a shelter. The writer in me is always spinning stories, both good and bad. But rescue makes me paraphrase what a writer once said about grief and healing: Rescue begins when we stop saying “what if” and start working with “what is.” I can’t judge people’s motives or call what they do mistakes. There are decisions like theirs in my past, too. Sometimes circumstances and events overwhelm us, and we act.

Dash with his foster mom.

Recently I struggled when we learned about a Jack Russell Terrier mix in the shelter. He was twelve years old. He was sick with a cold and partially blind. He’d been brought to the shelter to be euthanized. The first thing I had to do was let go of the WHY, WHAT IF, HOW COULD THEY refrain in my head. That’s his past. When he was less than one hour from being put to sleep, a rescue in Colorado offered to give him his next chapter, and so we pulled him for care and transport. I named him Dash after Marika’s beloved dog, not just because they were both JRTs, but because I wanted him to have a little of the crazy energy of Dash when he was young, and some of the love that Dash was given every day of his life.

When I learned which volunteer would foster him, I knew he’d be cared for and loved every minute he was in Houston. The day he was brought to transport, he was the absolute darling of everybody. He doesn’t care that he bumps into things. He doesn’t care what happened before. He knows everything will be okay because it WILL be. That’s what matters. Little Dash didn’t have a care in the world, quite honestly, and I want to be more like him.

Dash on transport day.

One of our rescue coordinators told me the other day that she’d heard from Dash’s rescue. Here’s what they had to say: Dash has been quite the hit. Everyone [who] meets him wants him. He brings out everyone’s nurturing side. He was adopted today…

Now Dash really will have a home like Marika’s Dash had. Love and care. Companionship and all the good things a dog wants. His life is a gift to him, to everyone who helped him, and I hope to you, Marika. I think there really is a spark of your boy inside him.

A tale of three cameras


On the left is my D40. It’s the first digital SLR camera I bought in 2008. I was in love and I immediately mistreated it by letting it fall off the over-the-bed table in my mother’s pre-hospice care room. All that tumble did was disable the flash and I bought an external flash for it. After my mother died, I sent it away for repair, and Lindsey loaned me her camera when we had my mother’s memorial service late summer of 2008.

The D40 has logged a lot of joy and sorrow, and it was the camera I was using when I began photographing RPM’s dogs and cats in 2013. I knew I was using it a lot. A LOT. I worried about how long it would last.

In stepped Tim. When he bought his second Nikon, he gifted me the middle camera here, the D60. His generosity was a lifesaver when my D40 had to be repaired. Once it was good to go, the D60 was my backup camera. Then the D40 had to be repaired again. These are not cheap repairs, and I made an agreement with myself. I couldn’t keep fixing a camera just because of my sentimental attachment to it. So when it was fixed, the D60 became my primary camera and the D40 is my backup.

Last Thursday at transport, we were about halfway through when I felt something happen inside the D60 and it stopped working. I ran for my D40 and finished the job.

SO… Of course I’ll have the D60 repaired. After all, it was given to me and hasn’t cost me anything yet. It deserves its repair. But it will take a while to get that taken care of, and the thought of depending on my poor exhausted D40 to shoot anywhere from 300 to 500 photos at transport was unnerving.

Enter the camera on the right, my new D3400. It’s an economical little thing compared to so many other Nikons, all my lenses will work with it, and I can take my time getting D60 repaired. People ask why I don’t spring for a more professional grade camera. I’m not a photographer. I’m just a girl with a camera who likes to take photos. The more complicated the camera, the more intimidated I am. These little workhorses are the right choices for me.

Unless I win the lottery. =)

Button Sunday

I don’t know why this button makes me laugh so hard, but so be it.

Early afternoon one day, Jim and I were sitting in the office drinking coffee and talking when I spotted a female cardinal under one of our trees. Jim turned around to watch for her and was rewarded by the sight of her mate in his gorgeous redness. He’d never seen a cardinal “in person,” so hey, Houndstooth Hall is like a nature preserve. (We won’t talk about the sighting of the palmetto bug about the size of the cardinal…)

The day we went to Body Mind & Soul, I was studying the shelves of Tarot and other cards to see if anything caught my eye–and the animal spirit guide deck did. There was an open box for interested shoppers, and when I turned the deck over, the card on top was the Cardinal. Jim and I locked surprised eyes; Debby spotted an unopened deck; and Jim made a gift of it to me. Now I need to learn how to read and lay out this deck in my leisure time. (ha ha, leisure time, so funny)

Welcome to the new age

One of the days that Jim was here, he, Debby, and I went out to lunch at another new-to-me place, House of Fries, who makes up in burger tastiness what it lacks in ambiance, proving once again that my parents were right when they stopped at unprepossessing eateries on trips because “that’s where the best food is.” While we were there, Debby said it sounded like the restaurant had hacked into my phone’s playlist, which currently leans heavily toward One Republic and Imagine Dragons (from whom I borrowed the title of this post). I told them that while Tom and I were on our trip, I realized that something I’d done to the phone had muted the sound on the car stereo, and Tom said, “It’s okay. We just missed a lot of Coldplay.” Shortly after that story, the restaurant played “Viva la Vida,” so maybe Debby was right. Thieves!

Among other things we did that afternoon was visit our favorite Body Mind & Soul. It’s a seductive store for me because of its serene atmosphere and the beauty of everything there and how invitingly it’s displayed. I want to BUY BUY BUY. As long as I can find one item that entices me and focus on it, I’m usually safe. This time it was a lovely selenite wand in a pencil shape. First, I love pencils, and second, I love the look and feel of this delicate form of gypsum. And I love that when I bought it, the woman checking me out took out her chime (a somewhat larger version of my own) and cleared the crystal. No merchant has ever done that for me before. Nice touch, BM&S!

There are lots of places to read more about the metaphysical properties of selenite on the Internet–GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND. For me, it’s already started being a self-soothing tool for excessive tension in my neck and shoulders and a thankfully brief headache.

I guess this post is sort of a thank you note to Selene, Greek goddess of the full moon, for lending her name and energy to selenite. I do love the moon. And I love the memory of shopping with Debby and Jim.

The pie and coffee’s on you


One evening in Southern California Jim was watching the news when they did a feature on Houston’s Flying Saucer Pie Company. He asked if I’d ever been. When I said no, he told me to put it on the agenda. (I’m supposed to make notes between Jim’s visits of stuff he and I think we’d like to do when we’re together again.) I added it to the list.

Coincidentally, Lynne had bought a couple of pies from there to take to a meeting and what wasn’t eaten she brought here to share with us. We learned that Flying Saucer makes all their pies from scratch without weird additives or preservatives, so they need to be eaten within a couple of days, and some won’t do well refrigerated. After sampling Lynne’s pies, we decided we should taste test a few more–you know, in the interest of science and research.

So this was another venture to a new-to-us place. I think the mural on the wall looks a little like Alien Gandhi, but maybe that’s just me.

Peach pie, apple pie, key lime pie–all thumbs up.

Even though I don’t have Showtime and can’t watch the continuation of Twin Peaks, I can at least enjoy three minutes of damn fine cups of coffee and miracle pie. And so can you.

Button Sunday


Today Tom, Tim, Jim, and I tried a new-to-me restaurant in the Heights called Lola. (That’s right, L O L A Lola.) The food is all locally sourced so of course that appealed to my hippie-ish vibe, and even better was how the decor was very Keith Haring and Tim just happened to be wearing a Keith Haring T-shirt. Here are a couple of shots I took inside.

Our table was next to the window. At one point I glanced out and a bird, probably a grackle, was sitting on a half-wall outside the restaurant keeping his eye on us. I pointed him out, saying I was having a kind of Hitchcock moment, and Tim reminded me to fight him off with my purse. (That sentence is making me think of two things: a poem Mark Doty wrote about Houston grackles and Mattel’s Tippi Hedren doll. I feel like a Gemini going off in all directions mentally.)

ANYWAY, later we went to the Menil Museum and I swear, every single damn work of art seemed to have a bird or an allusion to a bird or a bird shape somewhere in it. Birds became the theme of the day, and at one point I did say, “Bird is the word.” Thus today’s button.

Later, I snapped a photo of Timothy and Jim under James’s favorite Tree of Trees. How I love my tribe and making new memories to join the old ones.

Photo Friday, No. 558

Current Photo Friday theme: Orderly

For a while, we’ve been including CD holders among our holiday and birthday gifts to Tim so he could get his music collection in order. He has filled up a couple of the holders, but it’s one of those projects that requires more leisure time than his job and RPM board membership give him. So Tom has been alphabetizing Tim’s massive CD collection and putting them into the CD holders. I can’t wait to see how many holders are filled when this job is over. And then I can’t wait to start ripping some of this music because OMG TIM HAS EVERYTHING.