Photo Friday, No. 532

Current Photo Friday theme: Silence

This one is a hard one, and though it’s dated February 13, I’m writing it after more than a week of silence.

In the early morning hours of Friday, January 13, on a desolate stretch of Colorado highway, one of RPM’s vans was involved in an accident. This particular van had a father and son driving team. The driver, Charles, lost his life. His son Jared survived the crash with injuries, but those will heal with time. Miraculously, no dogs lost their lives, and only four ran from the scene of the accident. Over the ensuing week, thanks to a groundswell of Colorado volunteers involving some of our rescue partners, a nearby shelter, and dog behaviorists, three of those dogs were recovered and are now safe and sound in homes. We’re sure with a little time, we’ll get our fourth girl safely back, as well. (ETA: The fourth dog was also recovered and is safe and sound.)

I say it all the time–we love our drivers. It’s a terrible loss to our RPM family and to Charles’s family. The only comfort I can find is that Charles loved what he was doing. He was a helper. He was a good man. He was a hero in Houston’s rescue community. We will miss him.

I created this little shrine of many little dog totems that have come to me over the years to honor him and all the dogs he safely transported to their new homes each week. If there is a Rainbow Bridge–and I believe there is, or something like it–then Charles was greeted with love by all the animals who recognized him as a new friend.

There can be a lot of pain in rescue. Most of our dogs and cats come to us from the streets, many are ill, some are fragile, and whenever we lose one, I make a final note on that dog or cat’s record to “run free.” Now I will imagine every sweet animal running, strong and healthy again, into Charles’s arms, and he will help them across the Rainbow Bridge with the same compassion and care with which he loaded so many onto his van.

Run free, sweet Charles.

Photo Friday, No. 531

Current Photo Friday theme: Winter

We had an unexpected freeze, and I was trying to take a photo of my poor damaged sheffelerra. I’ve had two of them for many years–one since the mid-1990s–and now both are probably lost. What I didn’t realize when I shot this was that I had a little photo bomber, if you can see him. Thanks, Lynne, for identifying him as a stink bug. I’m sure he is a stinker who doesn’t care a whit that my beloved plants are gone.

Photo Friday, No. 530

Current Photo Friday theme: 2016 in Review


I’m finishing 2016 with a big time-traveling, musical blowout. Tom has given me a turntable, and I’ve christened it with my favorite rock and roll song ever, Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road.” I don’t care if my old records are warped and scratchy–like the dude at the music store who sold us the turntable said, “If you want to hear perfection, you’re probably going to download it or buy a CD. If you want to experience all those records you loved…”

So that’s what I’m doing, and honoring Bruce because 2016 is the year the words in his memoir reminded me of everything I love about creativity and honesty and why I need those in my life. I am full of joy because of all the songwriters, poets, and authors and their words and ideas–and all the musicians who gave some of them a soundtrack. Happy old years, happy new year!

Photo Friday, No. 528

Current Photo Friday theme: Clouds


One of my heroes is gone. He loved his wife, his country, and science. He was an explorer, a dreamer, a doer. He has always been to my mind the true definition of a gentleman, like my own father. He has, for the last time, gone “down to the corner store for a pack of gum,” and I grieve for him and for his sweet widow Annie.

Thank you, John Glenn, for all the ways you served this country and were an example to the world of the best an American can be. You truly embodied the right stuff.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

John Gillespie Magee, “High Flight”