A Fragile Circle

Sunday I baked the little clay print that was pressed from Margot’s paw. I know I’ll paint it eventually. Yesterday, Tom picked up her ashes, and the card that came with them from Little Friends Pet Memorial had these words from “The Once Again Prince,” by Irving Townsend, from Separate Lifetimes:

We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle, easily and often breeched. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan…

Because it’s World AIDS Day, I can’t help but think of the other fragile circles that were formed among those of us who were friends and caregivers of those with HIV and lost to AIDS. Though society may place different values on who we love, our hearts know no such boundaries. We only love. When we lose who we love, our grief likewise knows no boundaries. We only mourn.

I have infinite happy memories of my friends Steve, Jeff, John, Tim, and Pete, but I still miss them, and I’d rather they be here, healthy and alive. Each of them would have loved Margot and mourned her loss with me. But they and my father were early teachers of a truth: I’d rather hurt inside the fragile circle than live outside it and never know what it is to love.

Today, Giving Tuesday, Tom and I contributed to my fundraising campaign for Rescued Pets Movement in our friends’ memory. I’m going to send out a mass email–one of my least favorite things to do–to encourage others to contribute, as well. When my friends were sick and dying against a backdrop of national indifference, I saw again and again what an impact even the smallest act from one compassionate person could have. I also saw the strength my friends drew from their companion animals, who offered love without judgment.

To support an organization that has saved the lives of over ten thousand dogs and cats in two years, giving those animals a chance to be inside the fragile circle with their adopters–I know my lost friends would support a movement that brings more healing and love to our world.

The campaign continues until January 7, 2016 at 1:59:59pm ET , but if RPM raises the most between 12am ET and 11:59:59pm ET today, December 1, they’ll get a $25,000 donation to their cause. You can donate any amount at all to my fundraiser, and if you wish, you can even say in whose memory or honor you’re donating from your own fragile circle.

Thank you.

Button Sunday

Last year when Rescued Pets Movement participated in Best Friends Animal Society’s Strut Your Mutt fundraiser, RPM raised $108,000, the most money ever raised by a single group in a strut event since its inception. This year RPM’s goal is to raise $125,000. Every cent of the money that Team RPM raises during this competition will be used to save dogs and cats who are unwanted in Houston and to transport them to forever homes in areas of the country who want to adopt them.

RPM consumes my time and my passion, and I’m so proud to be affiliated with the group. Some of you wanted me to let you know when we had another fundraiser so you could donate, and this is one of my favorites of the year. I love Best Friends Animal Society (I first became familiar with them because of the Vicktory Dogs). Strut Your Mutt is an event that engages animal rescue groups all over the country to help save the animals in their own communities. I’ve decided instead of doing my own fundraising page, I’d like to give my support to RPM co-founder and board member Timothy J. Lambert (I’ll provide the link to donate at the end of this post).

Some of my friends and family have already pledged to donate if I’ll fulfill certain bizarre requests of theirs. This will be torment for me (that’s what friends are for, right?), but I’ll do what I can for Houston’s dogs and cats. Maybe you have a request of your own that I can indulge–within reason. My willingness to humiliate myself has limits!

You’ll be seeing more about the campaign on my blog through October. And as promised, here’s the link for you to donate to Tim’s fundraising page:

Timothy J. Lambert’s Strut Your Mutt Fundraising Page

Recently our friend and TJB writing partner Jim was in town and helped RPM on transport day. Here he is with Ashley, RPM Foster Coordinator Extraordinaire, Timothy, and sweet beautiful Farah, whose picture I just saw with her new forever mom!

Independence Day 2015

Looking out the library window today at Houndstooth Hall.

Rescued Pets Movement had a No Show Picnic. For the pleasure of not enduring ants, food that tastes of starter fluid, sunburn, and other such picnic activities, you could make a donation. I was delighted about this, because we really wanted a quiet day and a night in.

First, I made collar covers for our three hounds and Tim’s three just to show we did celebrate the spirit of the holiday.


They are all rescue dogs, ranging in age from almost two to almost sixteen, and they are very loved. As you may know, July 4 is the night of the year when more pets run away because they’ve been scared by the sound of fireworks. The Houndstooth dogs are not fans of the noise, so I donated to RPM to stay home and play music to block out the noise for these six. I even offered to donate more if anyone could guess the night’s musical choice. And while the guesses were good–Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac, Beatles–okay, maybe not Whitney Houston–no one guessed America’s band! You can hear them in the video posted below. I’ll still add to my donation even though no one correctly guessed whose music I’d play. In addition, here’s a link to a bonus 20-second video on Instagram. Marika said she’d donate to RPM, too, if I’d play one of my least favorite songs and say something nice about it. A snippet is all I’m willing to share of that one, because the rights belong to a very protective estate. Enjoy!

Six dogs completely undisturbed by the sounds of fireworks that are still going on!

Button Sunday

As those of you who lived through it may remember, I spent 2011 pulling words from my various Magnetic Poetry┬« kits to create a poem a day. Back in July of 2014, Dave Kapell, founder of Magnetic Poetry┬«, presented an idea for taking the poetry from the refrigerator to the table top and asked his Facebook friends if they’d have any interest in such a collection. That concept became Wood Words, and I tossed my name in to be one the first fifty purchasers.

Yesterday, less than a year later, my set arrived, and it’s beautiful. Leisure time is almost nonexistent for me these days, so being able to indulge my creative side by spilling some of these beautiful tiles onto the table will give me an opportunity to let my mind play. I need that to replenish my energy and get a break from the harsher realities of this planet and the people who dwell on it.

My first poem from the set.

And you can turn the tiles over, too, to see what poem chance has created for you.

Thanks, Dave. I’m honored to be #45 and grateful not only for what you create, but who you are: one of the good guys.

Photo Friday, No. 450

Current Photo Friday theme: Road Trip

I do have photos from road trips, but I’m dedicating this Photo Friday to Linda (Raven Moore) Gentile, one of the loveliest people I never met.

I first became acquainted with Linda through mutual blogging/online journaling friends. Over the years, I admired her gentle nature, her nomadic spirit, and her lovely humor. I wrote in my own blog about my enjoyment of her book A Little Twist of Texas, the tale of a road trip she took on her motorcycle, Beastie.

Later, she and her husband Don put most of their stuff in storage and began living on the road in their RV, Harvey. Linda’s passion was finding historical landmarks and historical markers, and she and her fellow travelers recorded them on her website Markeroni. Somewhere along the way, when she found out about my collection of Barbie dolls, she offered to dig through that storage room the next time they were there and send me the two Harley Barbies pictured above. In typical road trip fashion Linda could appreciate, the dolls were lost for a while en route, and we’d both given up on their ever making it to my house, but finally they did.

Harvey became one of the inspirations for part of my novel A Coventry Wedding, which reminds me of another way Linda was generous with me. When I had book signings, she encouraged her Houston-area friends to come see me and buy my novels.

In her quiet, graceful fashion, when Linda became ill with metastatic melanoma, she shared the news with only her family and a few close friends. Since I was a reader of her blog (the link no longer works), I wondered why she’d grown quiet, and my heart ached for Don, her family, and friends when he shared the news of her death in March in an email. As Don said, On the custom of flowers or contributions in her name, she preferred that flowers be left to grow, and suggested we simply “pay it forwards.” Linda’s mindset, intentions, and actions often included “paying it forwards” – altruistically redirecting repayment of her good deeds to others, increasing them, rather than back to herself.

I will think of her now whenever I see wildflowers and historical markers along the highways I drive. I will think of the adventurous spirit that drew her to the United States from England, to build a life with Don on a road less traveled. I will never have the opportunity to meet her in person, so I choose to think of her continuing her journey–not without a few misadventures. Those were the moments that tested her and that she rose above, choosing to look back on them with humor. She had a big heart, a sharp mind, and a gift of sharing both with her readers.

Thank you, Linda, for your many gifts. As the old Irish blessing goes, “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields.”