A very special contest…

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.
–Will Rogers

Decoy foot

I will not forget you. I have carved you on the palm of my hand.

Isaiah 49:15

 

Three years ago this month I lost my beloved girl, pictured here. I’d like to tell you everything that was so special about her, but that would fill, as they say, a book. Let’s just say that some angels have fur, not wings. She was a rescue, which supposedly means we rescued her. It didn’t take long for me to realize we had that backwards. She was my husband’s baby, and then my most solid support through very dark days. If not for that dog, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am. I might not even be.

 

You think those dogs will not be in heaven! I tell you they will be there long before any of us.

–Robert Louis Stevenson

While to me, she was the best dog in the world–and I mean that literally, except for a couple of times when she first came to us and was unsure, that dog Never Did Anything Wrong–I know every dog is special in their own way. And judging from the response to my series of books featuring that furry rascal Cutter, people everywhere love being owned by those furry critters who have the gift of utter forgiveness and give the gift of unconditional love.

Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.

–Mark Twain

Nothing can fill the hole left by the loss of a beloved dog. And their lives are far, far too short, leaving our lives without them far, far too empty. No one knows that better than I. The only thing we can do is to never forget them, or the joy and love they brought us. With that in mind, it occurred to me that there might be a way for me to help. Which is why I decided to dedicate all of the Cutter books, however many there may be (and no, I have no idea yet) to those dogs who are missed so much.

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.

–Roger Caras

This month, (until January 31) you can enter to win the chance to memorialize your most beloved canine. Enter through the contest tab at my website: http://justinedavis.com/contest.html You’ll have to be patient, publishing is not a fast business and you’ll have to wait a while to see your tribute. And don’t worry if you’re not a writer, I’ll work with you personally via email to get it just right, because I understand.

Near this spot are deposited the remains of one who possessed Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, and all the Virtues of Man, without his Vices. This Praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery if inscribed over human ashes, is but a just tribute to the Memory of Boatswain, a Dog.

~On the grave of the Newfoundland of George Gordon, Lord Byron

Why am I doing this? Yes, in memory of my sweet girl. But also to move a step closer to that old saying, that the best goal you can have in life is to be the person your dog already thinks you are.

Advertisements

Do you love where you live?

Shack_dungeness

No, I don’t mean your house, specifically. Or that “house,” in the picture. (which, despite appearances, happens to be in one of the most beautiful spots in my state, Dungeness Spit–home of the famous and delicious Dungeness Crab).

As you may have gathered, I do love where I live. For many reasons, not the least of which is just pure, scenic beauty. I rarely leave the house without my camera, especially not my daily walks along the sound, because you just never know what you’ll see.

When people think of the Pacific Northwest, many think only of rain and gray skies. I’d like to dispute that with some of those pictures I promised. Skies in the Northwest can be the most colorful you’ll ever see. Not that they can’t be gray, mind you:

Fog

Or downright dark (yes, that’s snow):

Feb 09 snow2

But they can also be so bright it almost hurts your eyes. We call these days “severe clear”:

2013-06-30 Baker cropped

They can be golden:

sunrise2 10-12

Or pink:

2012-01-11 08.39.34

So orange you look toward Mt Rainier just to be sure it hasn’t blown:

2013-08-22 05.57.09

Sunrise can sneak up on you:

2013-04-27 06.04.36

Or explode:

Sunrise pillar2

And where I’m located, sunsets are second-hand:

Baker Sunset cropped

And on some exceptional days, the sky doesn’t even look real. I call these watercolor mornings:

2013-09-02 06.24.12

2013-09-02 06.36.30

2013-09-02 06.39.06

I think it’s pretty clear why I love living here. I knew this was home the first time I came here, even if it did take me a long time to get here. And I still wonder why it took me so long, why I just stayed where I was planted, as it were.

How about you? Have you always lived where you are, or are you a roamer by choice or by necessity? Are you happy where you are, or do you long for someplace else?

The End of My Lazy Summer

  • Note: There’s news coming! For the wonderful readers who have regularly, over the years since certain books came out, written me about them, I’ll have an announcement soon! But now, I have to turn in my “summer excuse.”

So as my last post–over a month ago–indicated, we had a rare summer for the Pacific Northwest. Lots of warm and sunny. Sometimes a bit too much warm for me. All I can say is heat pumps are the best invention ever. Well, after air conditioning in general, I suppose. Anyway, I never played hooky from school (what can I say, I was an angel–a terrified angel, but that’s another story) but I did from the blog. But it was 48 degrees this morning, the flag is whipping in 30mph winds, and I have steady rain. Yep, fall’s definitely here.

Spring is long over, according to my apple tree, which used to look like this:

apple blossoms 2012

And this little guy is bigger now…

fawn

…although mom is still close by, if a bit itchy.

itchy deer

And now summer is gone as well, along with some of the odder cloud formations, blue skies giving way to perpetual gray.

wedge cloud crop

The big question every year around here (well, at my house anyway) is will we be looking at this sometime soon?

Snow11 1-12

Most winters, when we get snow, it’s the perfect amount for me. Enough to say “Oh, snow, I can’t get up my driveway, guess I’ll build up the fire, fix a chai latte, curl up and read a book.” Or “Oh, gee, I guess I’d better finish knitting that sweater, I’m going to need it!” I love those days. But then, I’ve never lived anywhere that regularly gets snow several feet deep, which I’m sure colors my perception. They say it’s a “neutral” year so far, meaning no “El Nino” or “La Nina.” (apologies to the non-weather geeks/non-Pacific Ocean folks–they are Pacific Ocean conditions that greatly affect weather) Which would normally mean probably not this kind of snow. But then again, we had almost no snow last winter, and we very rarely have two back-to-back no or low snow years.

In other words, no clue. Yet, anyway. But my playing hooky is over, the blog is back, that news will be forthcoming, and lots of other things!

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Lazy

You may have noticed my absence. Or not. 😉 But once I finally had to admit summer was really here, even in the Pacific Northwest, life changed. You see, unlike where I grew up, here one must grab summer and run with it. It’s short, sweet, and doesn’t come back for a re-visit very often. And so I’ve been spending time out in it, and less in front of a computer screen except when actually working. (more on that next post) My eyes approve. And to keep them happy, this will be short.

But summer has been a beaut so far, long, warm (actually hot, but with parts of the world enduring three digit temperatures, I don’t feel I have the right to whine. At least, not in public!) and dry, So warm I was actually harvesting tomatoes in July, which is almost unheard of in my little corner. Which brings me to the subject of today’s brief post. You may recall my last post, a picture I titled “The mother of all strawberries.” That would be this one:

momma strawberry

Mom!!

And I mentioned how all of the little strawberries in my planter had come from this one, inexpensive plant purchased ten years ago. Strawberries, which like heat, and summer. At least these do. Because since my post at the end of June, we’ve gone from this:

 

IMG_0132

Nice, well behaved children.

To this:

Invasion

It’s an invasion, run for your life!

We have another month of sunny, dry weather predicted. I think I should be afraid.

Happy rest of summer to all!

Summer?? How’d THAT happen?

Sun halo

What is that glowing orb up there???

Well, it’s official. Summer has arrived. For most, anyway. Summer doesn’t really arrive in the Pacific Northwest until July 5th, but that’s another story. But since the sun arrived the other day, complete with rainbow necklace, I guess I have to admit it.

Problem is, I’m not ready!! Our spring here is so darned non-committal that just about the time I think it might really be here, it’s summer, and I’m blinking, thinking, Wait, what? So here I am, having to say goodbye to spring when I barely had time to enjoy it. It’s a good thing I took pictures, so I can prove at least the plant life thought it was spring. So let me introduce you to some of my friends and family:

Callas

The Carnivorous Calla Lilies

These suckers are so big that after a rain bugs drown in them. If it’s a good bug, I’ve been known to try to rescue them. If it’s an earwig, it’s on its own. Ugh.

momma strawberry

The mother of all strawberries

This, my friends, is a plant to be revered. She is indeed, the mother of all strawberries. Purchased on a whim nearly ten years ago, this little plant has provided children that have filled every planter I have. So for $7.99 I got eleventy-two hundred plants. Think I’m kidding? Here:

IMG_0132

All in the family….

Every bit of green you see in this planter here, and the little pink flowers, are all kids from that momma strawberry. I could fill every square inch of my yard with this within a year. And yes, they really bear tiny strawberries. I have it on good authority, meaning the birds that always get to them before I do, that they’re very tasty.

Now this little oddity looks like it would be happier out in the Mojave Desert somewhere, yet it seems surprisingly happy here. I bought it simply for the anachronistic look of it. Because that’s the way I am.

poker plant

Took a wrong turn at Vegas…

And now we come to one of my favorites, the creature I fondly call “Cousin Itt.” (if you’re too young to remember the Addams Family, look him up) As usual, he needs a haircut, but for now he’s so…fluffy I’m happy to just walk around him.

cousin itt

Get away from me with those clippers!!

And finally, the most productive members of the family, or at least so I hope. There is only one place I can grow tomatoes well here, and that’s my front porch. It’s sheltered from the wind, and a good 5-10 degrees warmer than anyplace else around the house. So here they are, and here they shall stay, and if anyone is bothered by produce growing in their path to the front door, then they probably aren’t people I’d want to open the door to anyway.

IMG_0129

Whaddayoulookinat??

So there you have it, my sad tribute to a spring we barely experienced. You’ll noticed I ignored the grass. That’s because I’m the one who has to mow it, and I feel little affection for it at the moment. I’m probably the only person around anxiously awaiting its death by summer heat. (no, not DEAD dead, just done for the year.) Parking that lawnmower for a few months is one of the happiest moments of my year. But alas, not yet.

So how about you? Gardener, or brown thumb? Ornamentals or edibles? Try new things every year, or stick with the old reliables? Experiment to see what you can possibly grow in a container?

Refilling The Well

Canada Geese northbound

 

It’s spring, and a young bird’s fancy turns….

Okay, I finally believe it. Spring is really here. I mean, once I’ve seen the Canada Geese flying north in formation, I know it’s just me who hasn’t felt it. I trust their internal clocks more than mine, because their time doesn’t get messed with, they don’t deal with things like daylight savings time and other man-made idiocies that keep us thinking we’re somehow in control of nature. (can you tell I’m not a fan? Grump, snarl…)

But I digress.

I’ve introduced my neighbors before. But in case you missed it, here they are, sharing a quiet moment in a nearby tree.

eagle pair

One of the great joys of living in the Northwest is seeing these magnificent creatures on a regular basis. This time of year, almost daily. One of the first bird calls  I learned when we moved here years ago was theirs; it’s unmistakable once you’ve heard it. (I was given a small, stuffed bald eagle as a gift once, the type you squeeze and get the bird’s call. They got it exactly right.)

Everyone, writer or not, I think finds themselves now and then in a place where they just can’t keep going. Where they’re beaten down, too weary to go on. Where they’ve gone to the well once too often, and this time come up dry. Times like this, you need to know what refills your well, and then make a conscious effort to do it. For some it’s reading for hours. For others it’s getting outdoors, walking or hiking. For some it’s traveling.

For some, like me,  it’s doing something with your hands, creating something entirely different. Knitting, for me, takes up an entirely different set of brain cells, and lets the writing part of the brain rest and refill. And when I can combine it with sitting outdoors and waiting for my neighbors to come by, it’s even better.

Since I’m between books at the moment, I’ve had time to enjoy the show that truly means spring around here. My neighbors are celebrating the arrival in the way only they can. By flying, soaring, together.

eagle pair flight

And this year, for only the second time since I’ve lived here, I had the soul-stirring joy of watching an eagle courtship flight. Something impossible to describe, impossible even to really show in pictures, but once you’ve seen it in person, you will never, ever forget it. These two glorious, powerful birds soar skyward. They turn. Lock talons. And fall. Fall in a turning, twisting tumble that is breathtaking. Locked together they plummet, cartwheeling, trusting their instincts and their own strength to save them when at last they break apart, only to soar upward and do it all again.

Courtship. Of the most heart-racing kind. A little bit dangerous. Requiring complete trust. But worth it, in the end. And if you didn’t already know, bald eagles mate for life.

That’s why they refill my well, in a way few things can.

 

eagle dance crop

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Wait, do I have my holidays confused??

Wait, do I have my holidays confused??

No, I’m not really confused. It is, of course, St. Patrick’s day. Since I’m half Irish, I know this. (the other half is split between Welsh and a contribution from a mercenary Hessian from the American Revolution who fell in love with America and let himself get captured so he could stay, but that’s another story….)

Green cupcake

There, that’s better. More appropriate. I was going to use a shot of a pint of Guinness, but for some reason I can’t find it…..

I’ve sometimes wonder if I would have guessed at my Irish blood if I didn’t already know it. When I first came to the Northwest, after years of trying to survive in a dry, desert region paved over with concrete and asphalt, I was off the ferry out of Seattle less than five minutes before I realized I felt I’d come home. Is it some genetic memory that hearkens back to other green covered land and blue waters? As a child, the first time I heard a Celtic flute, without even know what it was, my heart was filled with longing, an ache I couldn’t define. And heaven help me, the pipes. Yes, yes, I love the pipes. Apparently you either love or hate bagpipes. No denial here. I’ll stop for the pipes anywhere, unless they’re playing Amazing Grace, because then I’ll end up weeping my eyes out.

“Maybe it’s bred in the bone, but the sound of pipes is a little bit of heaven to some of us.” –Nancy O’Keeefe

The Irish gave the bagpipes to the Scots as a joke, but the Scots haven’t seen the joke yet. –Old Irish Joke

Someone once said to me “Of course you’re a writer. It’s the Irish, you know.” I didn’t know, but there certainly is a stable to choose from. And they do have a way….

“The English language brings out the best in the Irish. They court it like a beautiful woman. They make it bray with donkey laughter. They hurl it at the sky like a paint pot full of rainbows, and then make it chant a dirge for man’s fate and man’s follies that is as mournful as misty spring rain crying over the fallow earth. Rarely has a people paid the lavish compliment and taken the subtle revenge of turning its oppressor’s speech into sorcery. ”  T E Kalem

And I have Irishman Brendan Behan to thank for one of my favorite quotes ever, since becoming a writer:

“Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves.”

No, I’ve never set foot on that green, green isle, but I hope to rectify that some day. How can you not want to visit a land that has a place like this?

"Heavens Trail" A place in Ireland where every two years on June 10-18 the stars line up with this path. (H/T @Earth_Pics )

“Heavens Trail” A place in Ireland where every two years on June 10-18 the stars line up with this path. (H/T @Earth_Pics )

In the mean time, to you all, Irish, part Irish, or not, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

photo credit: Chris Devers via photopin cc

photo credit: clevercupcakes via photopin cc