Dogs are our link to paradise…

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.

Milan Kundera

My goal for today was to write an Earth themed post for the Weekly Photo Challenge but I’m still in the previously mentioned photographic dry spell and unless I wanted to recycle another forest related image my options were limited to new product shots for our Etsy store and Finn from last weekend.  Hmm…

My next thought was to look for quotes that contained both the words “earth” and “dogs” as a way to tie my one new shot to the challenge but all I found were hundreds of dog quotes.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good dog quote but what I really wanted was one perfect quote that brought these two things together in a way that made it seem like this was my plan all along.   Like I set out to take a shot of Finn lounging on the grass (earth) to illustrate my carefully prepared essay.

Now it’s posting time and I still don’t have a beautiful mother earth essay but I do have a dog photo, a quote that speaks to me and a story about Saturday afternoon on our grassy hill.

Many of you know we adopted Finn as a rescue dog.  He’d been facing doggie death row, was afraid of everything, could barely tolerate people touching him and any sudden movement or new interaction set him off into fits of barking.  Anything to keep the fearful object/person/smell/animal/car far away but the one thing he relaxed for was looking at John, Ryan and I together.  It’s been a long road for Finn as we’ve slowly introduced him to new people, a few kind dogs, several trainers and his friend and walking buddy Colleen.  Basically anything we could think of to give him a chance at a normal life and the opportunity to just be a dog.  He’s slowly become comfortable in the backyard but last weekend was the first time he successfully relaxed in the front yard.  Yay Finn!  He was with us for hours as we tried to reclaim flower beds from weed-pocalypse 2017 and dutifully followed me around and around when it was time to clean up the buckets, clippers, yard waste bins and rakes.  We were both tired, the sun was out, the grass was dry and the little hill in our backyard looked like a nice quiet place to sit and catch our breath.  For a few special minutes we were not bored, we were at peace.

Posted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Earth.

My Year In Pictures: March Week 3

Random is the first word that came to mind tonight as I clicked through this set of seven images.  Appropriate really since I feel like we’re just flying through each day trying to be present at every appointment and commitment while making time for a quick breath and moment to appreciate the world we live in.  If all I can squeeze in is a second to stand still and snap a picture of something random but pretty then I’ll do my best to make that image count. 🙂

Our week started with anxious Finn watching the door to keep track of every person and creature walking down our street.  At least he held still long enough for a portrait.  Monday Ryan and I walked past this sign in a shop window and it sparked a long conversation about what it means to have “freedom of speech”.  Tuesday is a shot of some pretty moss that looks like fern fronds and Wednesday I stopped to pick up a postcard about Washington State for a 1st grade project about the United States.  Thursday all I had time for was aiming my phone up toward the ceiling as I rode an escalator but I liked these pretty butterflies floating overhead.  Friday’s discovery was this cheery box of candy and Saturday night ended at the gym so John and Ryan could swim and I could get a good workout in the cardio room.

Coming soon I’ve got a great set of new photos almost ready to share here from our latest March adventures and if you’d like to follow along in real-time don’t forget I post my daily photos on InstagramTwitter and Facebook. If a once-a-week blog read is more your speed my weekly recaps will continue here along with caption notes containing editing information for each photo.

My Year In Pictures: February Week 4

We’re almost at the end of the first month in my new year-long challenge and after 27 days of daily photos I am happy to report that it is still fun. 🙂  I’m enjoying the freedom to try some new things after spending a year exploring the random settings in Hipstamatic and looking back at this set of seven photos I can see a definite trend toward softer hues.  Maybe it’s the season, maybe it’s a desire for soft focus after long days filled with challenges but it’s nice to stretch a little and see my world through rose-colored glasses.

Sunday started with heavy spring rains but as soon as the skies cleared I dashed outside to capture my earliest blooming rhododendrons at their peak.  Monday afternoon this sign reminded me of how John and I met and that love can really come from unexpected moments.  Tuesday was long but ended on a nice note with this pretty view of the ferry landing as the sun set.  No fiery colors for me this night just calming hues of blue and gray.   Wednesday Finn reminded me of a stereotypical nosy neighbor as he insisted on peering over the fence to spy on someone and Thursday I picked up my OlloClip to play with shadows in the backyard.  Friday needed a little extra coffee and Saturday John and I each took a deep breath and put our new gym membership to good use.  It’s been far to long since I’ve seriously worked out but new habits just need one day to start so we’re giving it our best shot.  I spent an hour in the cardio room and have to say, it felt great. 🙂

Coming soon I’ve got a great set of new photos almost ready to share here from the first week of March and if you’d like to follow along in real-time I post my daily photos on InstagramTwitter and Facebook. If a once-a-week blog read is more your speed my weekly recaps will continue here along with caption notes containing editing information for each photo.

A Surprise Every Day: Shaking Up April with Hipstamatic (week 3)

Another busy week has come and gone but over all it’s been a good one here in our little corner of the Pacific Northwest.  While my days fly by in a blur of work, family, driving and if I’m lucky a little bit of blogging I’ve been trying very hard to recognize those quiet moments that tell stories and make me smile.

We started our week with a Sunday tour of the Seattle Underground with my brother Erich and his family.  We had a great time wandering through Pioneer Square and If you’re ever in the city and want to learn why the buildings in Pioneer Square have entrances, sidewalks and skylights below the streets, what happened after the entire business district burned to the ground and how a large part of the downtown is now built on fill from 4 huge re-grade projects I suggest signing up for a tour.  Monday’s photo is a close up of Ryan’s favorite Solar System place mat after from the cousins Sunday breakfast. Ryan’s always been fascinated with science and natural history but he also has a full-fledged boy crush on everyone in the Marvel Superhero universe so Tuesday’s photo is our Corn Flakes box promoting the new Avengers movie The Age of Ultron and Thor.

Wednesday’s photo is my current library book, Foxglove Summer.  This is the latest book Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series and another great story filled with mystery, snappy dialogue, social commentary, life in London and a bit of the supernatural.  Thursday is a cleaning up an after dinner shot and here’s the view from my kitchen sink.  You can see two of Ryan’s elementary school art projects and a blue bowl left in our house by the previous owner.  Together they hold the bits and pieces I find scattered around the house along with some beach treasures.

You might have heard the latest Star Wars teaser clip came out this week and Friday afternoon found me thinking about the day 38 years ago when my Aunt Maryellen drove me 3 hours round trip to Seattle so we could see the first movie together. Sadly that theater was torn down several years ago but this beautiful building still stands a few blocks away.  In 1916 The Coliseum opened as the first theater built specifically for showing movies in Seattle and though it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places the inside has been completely re-worked into a retail store.

My photo-a-day week ends with this shot of Finn in our backyard Saturday morning.  We were outside together cleaning up a planting bed behind our deck and right after I took this shot my blogging friend Andra Watkins called. Andra is in town this weekend as part of a west coast tour promoting her latest book Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444 Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace (click here to see my Amazon review). I can’t wait to meet up Sunday afternoon but when I answered the phone I said I was outside with my face in the ferns. I’m sure she thinks I’m weird but hopefully I can explain what I really meant in person. 🙂

Each photo is straight from Hipstamatic’s “shake to randomize” function and posted without any additional editing. If you like a particular combination and want to try it at home just click on the image to see the lens and filter used.  For variety I downloaded some new lenses and filters this week so if you want to try Hipstamatic but are unsure how to start let me know and I’ll do my best to answer your questions!


Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth and Compassion

Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.
Albert Schweitzer

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As John, Ryan and I work through the challenges and rewards of living with our newest family member Finn, compassion is always on our minds.  Bringing a rescue dog into the family has been an eye-opening experience but we are fully committed to providing him with the best home and second chance at life he could imagine and in return the loyal, loving dog he was meant to be is slowly starting to emerge.

We don’t have any information about Finn’s early years but we do know he was abandoned in California and rescued from doggie death row by a group dedicated to transporting dogs to no-kill shelters around the Pacific Northwest.  When we found him at his second shelter he was under weight, anxious and full of fear, lashing out at any new person or animal that approached him.  Something clicked though when we came to visit and he surprised his foster mom by cautiously approaching us, then sat quietly on the grass waiting for a carefully placed treat.  When he happily followed Ryan for a short walk around the yard we knew he was the dog for us but daily life is much different from an hour in a sunny yard and these first three months together have been anything but quiet or easy.  They’ve been full of learning and compassion but very little quiet.

Finn reacts to most people, animals and noises with an overwhelming urge to keep everything away.  His bark, teeth and claws are on full display and it’s all he can do to keep breathing while he fights to stay safe.  We’ve enlisted the help of a wonderful dog trainer with a background in rescue animals to help us find our path through this fear and we’re slowly building some shared trust while comforting Finn with the knowledge that he doesn’t have to fight everything.  We will take care of the big scarey stuff.  With a steady diet of good food, lots of sleep, regular exercise, consistent care and engaging activities his health is improving, anxiety levels are dropping and he’s up to a normal weight so I can see that our positive reinforcement approach is starting to show real results.

When we first talked about adopting a pet we knew we wanted a dog that would be big enough to join us for hikes through the forest and fun afternoons at the beach while still being small enough to fit comfortably in our home.  While Finn meets both of these conditions he still isn’t ready to safely spend the day hiking.  As a compromise I’m working my way through the overgrown side of our backyard, carving out trails where he can hunt, dig and explore to his heart’s content.  Our yard isn’t fully fenced so we are careful to provide appropriate supervision but he’s already spent hours next to me on a long lead supervising the work then jumping and diving through ferns looking for squirrels.  These two photos are from last weekend’s work session and if I have time before the Superbowl starts today we’ll keep digging into the brush to extend his range a little farther into the yard.  We know there are months of work and conditioning ahead before we can attempt an all day outing but my goal is for a beautiful summer hike with a happy dog by our side.  I’ll keep you posted!

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1 Day 1 World Project: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

1D1W 11a

It’s hard to believe we’ve reached the last hourly post in my six month project documenting one hour each week for 24 straight weeks!  Back in May I thought we would have fun watching the time pass through different seasons and countries but I never dreamed this series would inspire so many of you to open up and try new things. I owe each and every one of you a big thank you for sharing your adventures, ideas and time through your posts and comments.

There have been few weeks when I planned an event and photo op around the time period out of necessity.  Anyone who knows me understands that after 10:00 pm I’m pretty much done for the night and without something scheduled we would have had a stretch of seriously boring posts.  Our “in the dark” adventures turned out to be some of my favorite memories from the past six months but the majority of the weeks I purposely left open to really capture what an hour out of my life is like on a normal day.  As luck would have it I’m ending the project in the same way I started by capturing a new beginning.

After years of promising Ryan we would think about getting a dog we finally gave in and said yes – say hello to Finnegan everyone! We found Finn in a rescue shelter and even though he spent a scary first year as a stray he survived the streets and several shelters before finding his way to our family.  It was hard to get a clear photo of a dog who is still pretty nervous around people but this quiet moment on our stairs is from the 11:00 hour on our first day home together.   He’d just let me brush him and was ready to settle down for a nap in the sun.

While this is the last original post in the 1 Day 1 World Project I have one more entry planned for next Sunday, October 19th recapping our virtual day. I hope you’ll come back to see all 24 photos together and if any of you would like to share your own experiences I’d love to read along and will be happy to link them here.

For more views of 11:00 am around the world take a look below:

Travel Words

The World Is A Book

Deep In The Heart Of Textiles

Restless Jo

Sukies Original

My Life Lived Full

Redneck Garage