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My Wonderdogs!

Lacey and Smokey: Wonderdogs

Lacey, 1994-2008, my sweet and gentle sable
and white Sheltie, like a little Lassie, faithful companion
through good times and bad. See you on the Rainbow Bridge one
day, Sweetie!

Smokey, my blue merle – that’s silver and white-
Shetland Sheepdog. A good boy except he enjoys terrorizing the


Win a Book of Poetry!

From Dec. 7 – 14, 2011 the Poetic Muselings (six Muse Conference friends) are having a crazy contest at their web site with a book of our poetry called Lifelines as the prize.

To win, you must provide us with the most awesome answer to a few questions:

— Who is your favorite poet?

— What is your favorite poem?

— Why?

Now, a cool thing about this contest is that your favorite poem may be a stand-alone you discovered — not necessarily by your favorite poet. And the answer to the question “Why?” is the critical piece. Why did you choose this poet? Why this particular poem? What is it that resonates with you, or just won’t let go?

We anticipate serious arm-wrestling and shouting by the end, as we select the ONE set of responses we feel best captures the essence of why we write, what moves us, creates unforgettable imagery . . . and we’d like your help to drive us nuts in this process. The winner will receive a copy of Lifelines, mailed to your house.

And, if you have a blog or website and would be interested in connecting to us or spreading the word, please let us know. We’re starting a blogroll.

So — thank you for reading this, and we hope you will have some fun and enter our contest.

Lifelines: I’m in Print!

Our poetry anthology “Lifelines” by the Poetic Muselings went live on Amazon!

The Poetic Muselings are Michele M. Graf, Margaret Fieland, Anne Westlund, Mary W. Jensen, Lin Neiswender, and Kristen Howe. The book consists of 36 poems, six by each poet. Lin Neiswender’s collage is featured on the cover.

“Lifelines” is available now on Amazon.

The Poetic Muselings would appreciate your letting those interested in poetry know about our book.


Lifelines cover

My prayers go out to this woman that the surgery is a success.

Just a Dog

From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or, “that’s a lot of money for just a dog.” They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for “just a dog.”

Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog.” Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog,” but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog,” and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it’s “just a dog,” then you will probably understand phases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.” “Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. “Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that make me a better person.

Because of “just a dog” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me and folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.

“Just a dog” brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog” but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a human.”

So the next time you hear the phrase “just a dog.” just smile, because they “just don’t understand.”

Authored by Richard A. Biby

The mightiest of weapons is truth. And everyone knows you’re not permitted to enter a Government building with a weapon.

-The Covert Comic
(Thanks Cyberfeet)

From Point A to Point B- Making Art Again
Thanks, Lacey!

I think my recently passed dog Lacey wants to see her Mama doing something she loves. I knew when I heard her ghostly dog tags mysteriously jingling that she was telling me “Get on with things you love- I know you haven’t forgotten me”.

It’s still lonesome here in my computer room/quasi art studio because she always laid under my desk. Still I feel her presence strongly in here, and it keeps me good company, as my other dog Smokey is as quiet as a church mouse. He’s feeling the loss too.

As far as getting from Point A to Point B, I joined a collage group seven weeks ago and make a collage a week. I also joined a mandala group a few weeks later. How on earth are those two things related? Well, both involve art, and both are ways I’ve been expressing my creative urges and my emotions. And recent events have brought the emotions to the forefront.

This week my collage was about art and the spirit it evokes in me, the urge to play. Our animals teach us about this important part of life every day but we often ignore it as silly or childish or foolish. But we really need it. It keeps us balanced and healthy. The animals know it but we forget. So the collage was called “The Point Is Play, Play, Play” and here it is:

I got some good feedback on it and was pleased with it. I had been playing with some new filters for my graphics program today so when I got a challenge to create a mandala with an Autumn feel to it, remembering Lacey and Smokey’s past antics, I decided to play.

I got out the central image of the collage, the woman in orange, and used a new kaleidescope filter on it that had all kinds of settings to play with. I dialed away, moved sliders and just had fun, till I finally came up with this image.

I cropped it into a circle, and voila, instant flame medicine wheel. I wanted to do more though. I brought in a second image, a photo I took of some faded yellow Ixoras, seen here.

I cropped that to get the best bits of the flowers. Then I got brave enough to try making a mask with an alpha channel – my first ever – and was successful. I loaded in the flowers as partially transparent and moved them around to look the best with the medicine wheel, using the mask to get rid of the unwanted parts of the flowers.

Last I played with the color and added an edge and a drop shadow, as well as a background. One final cropping and I was done. Here it is, Autumn Medicine Wheel:

You’d never believe one picture would lead to another, would you?

It just goes to show, we have an innate need to play. So get out there and do it!



I lost my sweet, beloved Sheltie Lacey to cancer today. Life had ceased to be a thing of joy and adventure and instead become full of lassitude and pain, so I elected to end her suffering and set her feet onto the Rainbow Bridge. I know she waits for me, happy and whole, and will be wondering what takes me so long.

She was my nurse dog, always first on the scene to investigate and treat any owies with a good licking and gentle nudging. For a long time she shared a pillow on my bed, keeping away nightmares, until arthritis made it too difficult to jump that high up. She was my intrepid adventurer, sneaking out of the fence on voyages of exploration, assisted by kind neighbors returning her home when they found my phone number on her collar. And she was my four-legged alarm system, alerting to any suspicious activity in a two-block area like it was her own personal front yard. Then too she would perform her duties as the welcome wagon at the vets as we waited our turn, going around the room to visit with everyone, two-legged or four.

She taught me patience, unconditional love, and the power of cheese. I will be lost without her. I have her collar in my purse and it will be going up around her picture- it still carries her scent. I got a few strands of her beautiful orange and white fur as a memento as well. But nothing takes the ache away, only time. This poem helps a bit, as well-

The Loss of a Heart-Dog

I stood by your bed last night,
I came to have a peep
I could see that you were crying,
you found it hard to sleep

I whined to you softly as
you brushed away a tear,
“it’s me, I haven’t left,
I’m well, I’m fine, I’m here”

I was close to you at breakfast,
I watched you pour the tea
You were thinking of the many times,
your hands reached down to me

I was with you at the shops today,
your arms were getting sore
I longed to take your parcels,
I wish you could do more

I was with you at my grave today,
you tend it with such care
I want to reassure you,
that I’m not lying there

I walked with you towards the house,
as you fumbled for your key
I gently put my paw on you,
I smiled and said “it’s me”

You look so very tired,
and sank into a chair
I tried so hard to let you know,
that I was standing there

It’s possible for me,
to be so near you everyday
To say to you with certainty,
“I never went away”

You sat there very quietly,
then smiled, I think you knew
In the stillness of that evening,
I was very close to you

The day is over,
I smile and watch you yawning
And say “goodnight, God bless,
I’ll see you in the morning”

And when the time is right for you
to cross the brief divide,
I’ll rush across to greet you
and we’ll stand, side by side

I have so many things to show you,
there is so much for you to see
Be patient, live your journey out,
then come home to be with me.

– Author Unknown

That consoles me, that I will see her faithful soul running towards me again up there. It must be a wonderful place. Two things though I hope they got straight: dogs need to live as long as we humans do, and God needs to let dogs sit on the sofa in Heaven. It’s much homier that way.

Welcome this new Stumbler who is off to a roaring start!

“A failure a day is success on the way!”
– Lin Neiswender

I came up with this meaningful quote yesterday, in a discussion about Redefining Failure at Coach Creative Space. Nick pointed out the vital necessity of frequent failures on the path to success, and that we should be seeking out failures, not running away from them, as they are getting us closer to our goals. That struck me as so profound, and whammo, the quote was born. Thank you for that Nick, and Dan for establishing the discussion.

I used the motivation from the quote to do my first collage – shown above – for an artists’ collage group called Collage Play (info about it here) that I just joined. I was nervous about my virgin effort- what if it was awful? What if my style was nothing like anyone else’s? In short, what if I sucked at this? But I did it anyway, printing off things I had made that I thought would go together with the required elements, changing some of the graphics, scaling them and altering the colors, playing.

And a funny thing happened. I started getting excited about the process, and started having fun. Isn’t that what creativity is all about, the process? The fun? So even if the end product had been ugly, it still would have been OK. I would have had great pleasure making it. The piece is called the Queen of the Meadowlark Palace. And, paradoxically, I don’t think it is ugly. Whew!

Well, got to go get busy now and seek out some new failures. Success is calling my name!