Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Michael Jackson

I went into a cafe today for lunch and all around me his name emerged, coming up through the crowd buzz. A voice behind me said, "He was one weird dude."

I remembered when someone had emailed me the news of his death. I immediately got online to try to learn what had happened. All I found were sites where he was ridiculed, jokes, photos with derogatory comments. It was so soon after his death that there wasn't even a news blog yet.

A friend even emailed me a joke about him.

As someone who has been exploited quite blatantly throughout my life, most recently on a scale that could well have impacted me in terms of millions of dollars, I have a pretty good idea exactly why Michael Jackson was, "One weird dude."

My own experiences are horrendous enough. I can't imagine what it must have been like for someone so incredibly gifted, to try to exist in some kind of normalcy while surrounded by the sharks that inevitably ride the crest of the wave of such gifts.

There is no doubt in my mind that the accusations against him were an avenue for someone to profit from his wealth and fame.

The poor guy was such an easy target throughout his life. He began as a thing of utter beauty, dancing at the pinnacle of his creative genius, and then we all watched as he gradually disintegrated before our eyes. His overt attempts to shield himself from the barrage of public onslaught were manifested in ways that only set him up for further attack.

I hope that somewhere along in his journey, he was able to find a true friend. If he ever did, my heart goes out to that person today.

I continue to be boggled by the sheer number of narcissists in the world. They are literally everywhere, swarming to feed on the tender hearted, and the gifted who are brave enough to pursue their dreams. This world is a virtual blood bath of takers and users.

I apologize to those among my blog followers who are accustomed to a sunny post about art or animals. I'm not gifted in anywhere close to the same scale, but nonetheless I am identifying with Michael Jackson. I hope that in some ways, these wounds have carved me deeply enough to have a true perception of others who are wounded. I hope I can recover enough to be an example to those who have to overcome obstacles like this. Michael Jackson sought his refuge in the attempt to keep children as his peers; to, "never grow up". I seek mine in a similar innocence; the world of animals and nature and those who love them.

I hope that, in a few months, when I google Michael Jackson, what comes up in the search will be primarily his music, his performances, his amazing dancing. He was an incomparable icon, a cultural enigma. I hope this is the part of him that lives on. I hope this will mean that the world has come to a realization about him: This is our loss.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Perry the Parvo Pup

Today I got to visit Perry, my former "parvo puppy". He is a rescue, a Lab/Australian shepherd mix, a Parvo survivor, who I raised for a year and then found a home for. Perry wanted to go to a home with kids, and he now lives with Jake and Jackie, thirteen year old twins, and Buster, his Boston Bull buddy. Perry goes on daily runs with his mom. He actually grew to be a much bigger dog than I'd anticipated.

Perry's system was pretty ravaged by the virus for awhile. I couldn't get him to make a solid stool until I put him on Life's Abundance, a holistic food that is delivered fresh right to the door.

Now he is the picture of health, and his coat is wonderful! It just glows. Perry has one eye with some blue in it. He "woo-woo's" when he sees me, the same as Rip does! It was pretty funny. It's nice to know he remembers his foster mom.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Clifford of Drummond Island

It's been four years since Clifford and Trudy have visited the Drummond camp. This is temporary home for them until I find a more permanent solution to their displacement. Yesterday upon arrival they took a moment to look around before stepping out of the trailer.

Upon being released from the trailer, they both march directly into the corral.

They walk around checking things out, and then immediately they each drop and roll.

Their obvious comfort is a comfort to me.

So we returned to my mother land; the land of deep forests...

...of varied wildlife...

...of wooded islands...

...of tiny flowers...

...of ancient mariners...

...of rock and cedar.

The animals and I face the future, but we don't know what lies ahead.

Photos courtesy of Vickie Sheathelm.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dairy Days

Despite her timely garb, Carolyn decided she'd like to try out a little bareback riding! Cliffy was the special guest star at this homey event yesterday at Wellington Farm in Grayling. We enjoyed a shady day in the company of my friend Vickie and the nice folks who run the farm. It's designed to recreate the 1930's and the folks there dress accordingly.

A touch of Appalachia? Nope! Northern Lower Michigan! Cliff and Trudy chill out in front of Jennie's Kitchen.

In Jennie's kitchen they make whipping cream, butter and fresh biscuits. And delicious homemade ice cream!

Trudy made herself at home.

Clifford painted Vickie's portrait. I think he has an eye for capturing the spirit of the individual!

Stewie had a (little bit scary) guinea hen encounter.

We are perhaps in a bit of denial as we head up to Drummond today. We have left our farm, which goes up for auction July 1. I couldn't recover from the derailed book project. So Clifford and Trudy may well be offically homeless. Things have been very bleak this year. But I hope this is just a bump in the road for us, which will lead to bigger and better things.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


For the second time, tonight he jammed himself between the slats in the table legs. He can't get out of this by himself. He just sits there and waits to be rescued. I laughed my head off at him last night, and I think that's why he repeated the performance.

Hosing Around

Today was bath day -- the first one of the year. We finally had nice warm temps and the horses, both being pros, stood for it pretty well. Trudy was first.

Clifford was annoyed with me because he gets to eat grass while he is being bathed. He didn't think he should have to stand and pose with his head up to have his picture taken, soaking wet like this. It took a few minutes before he would put his ears forward. Finally, he gave in and then it was back to grazing.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Friday's Ride

It was Trudy's turn to run freely yesterday, but it didn't exactly work out. She is the one most in need of conditioning, as her tendency toward obesity has led to problems already this year. She has separation anxiety, so she never lets Cliffy get out of sight.

However, yesterday she lollygagged, uncharacteristically gorging on grass as Clifford and I trotted down the road. Clifford was feeling great; trotting along without hesitation and even looking suspiciously at things and snorting as we passed. We got farther and farther away from the chubby mare, who seemed completely unconcerned that we were disappearing. I suddenly realized that she was content enough to stay by the neighbor horses across the road. She was snubbing Cliffy for the tall roadside grass, safely in the company of the three pasture pals up the hill.

Cliffy and I turned around and trotted back. I attempted to motivate Trudy by chasing her. Clifford was into that! He broke into a canter, cutting horse style. I yelled and hollered. "Git moving mare! Yaahhhh! Get up!"

She would jerk her head irritably, run in a circle, and then go right back to grazing. I started remembering what my friend, Hollywood horse trainer Rex Peterson, had said about why he never uses mares on a movie set.

To her credit, though, she did stand quietly while I got off Clifford, removed his saddle and bridle, and put them on her. I climbed aboard and rode her at a trot toward home.

Clifford had dropped his head to graze. I called back to him. "Come on, Cliffy! You want to run up the hill?" Suddenly liberated, Clifford was giddy! He jumped straight up into the air, kicking and snorting and bucking, and came running after us with his tail up. He went galloping up the hill toward home.

If there is anything more beautiful than a horse running and playing with its tail up, rolling its eyes and shaking its mane, I can't think of what that could be. And the joy it carries is contagious.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Today's Ride

Anyone with any history with horses is probably privy to their aptitude as therapists. If anything in life is wrong, go spend time with your horse. You'll feel better. Really.

Clifford's painting stints of late have been pretty hysterically funny, interesting and loads of fun all at the same time. However, I have gotten preoccupied with "real life" issues and haven't done anything artistic with Clifford in several days. Today I decided to ride.

I've been pretty spoiled with spending summers up on Drummond. What can compare with turning one horse loose to run on the beach while you ride the other? It makes riding anywhere else fall short by comparison.

I thought I might be able to capture some of that old elation by trying the same thing at home. Reva Ridge Farm is a secluded place. There are dirt roads, but my horses are in their teens and seasoned enough not to do anything stupid (hopefully) in traffic.

I saddled up Trudy and turned Clifford loose. Cliffy wandered out into the backyard and started hoovering up clover. I swung aboard little Trude and we trotted up the hill to the driveway. Ripple followed along. I looked back at Clifford who was still busy grazing. "Hey, Clifford! Come on!"

He raised his head, still chewing, looked at me, and then dropped his head again.

"I guess he doesn't want to go," I said to Trudy.

We walked down the hill. Unlike her adventurous brother, Trudy is never thrilled to go by herself. She did not call out, but swung her head this way and that, trying to see if he might be catching up.

"Oh, forget him," I said. "He's missing out."

I had read somewhere that the best way to get a horse in shape is to trot a long, straight line. So that's what I asked her for. Trudy is little but a trotting machine. Clifford, though nearly a hand taller, has to run to keep up with her. We headed down the road. The neighbor's horses came running across the field up to the fence, three of them standing in a row, looking at us wide-eyed and snorting. Trudy wavered, trotting sideways in their direction.

"Knock it off," I said. "Quit yer flirting."

The three pasture mates spun into action and ran along the fence with us as we clipped briskly down the road. Rippy followed us, keeping a close eye on the neighbor horses, making sure they weren't going to interfere.

We crossed the neighbor's back field to come up behind the barn. Trudy was really flying now. She had been good, and not called out, but she was anxious to get back to her brother. We came round the front of the barn. No Clifford.

"Where'd he go?"

We looked around. I thought maybe he by now was running up the road after us. But just then I heard a noise. I looked into the barn and was surprised to see him standing in the aisle. He had forsaken his clover.

He had his head down and was nosing through the box of watercolors, flipping the sponges, rifling through the tubes of paint!

"Well, what's this! You want to make some more pictures?!"

I was so thrilled. I felt like the art teacher whose student had just asked for an extra credit project. Clifford turned and went over to the tack box on the wall. I had left a small sandwich bag of grain there, which I had been using as a reward for his painting efforts. He began mouthing the bag and crackling the plastic. AHA! The truth was out.

"You need to sell something. Then we'll talk. You think in these economic times, we do art just for FUN? Think again, buddy!"

I opened the stall door and he went in. But, he was right. The painting was a fun thing we did together. Maybe we'll be back at it tomorrow.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Today's Equine Art - Seabiscuit

I confess I didn't know much about Seabiscuit before Laura Hillenbrand's book came out. When I started reading, I couldn't put it down. I was completely taken up in this wonderful story. When the movie came out, I saw it in the theatre no less than six times! I chose to do this portrait in sepia tones, to reflect on the time in history that Seabiscuit raced.

This is watercolor, 11 x 15", listed on eBay.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Today's Equine Art - Appaloosa

This is SS Shock N Awe, a leopard Appy colt bred by "Seeing Spots Farm", who graciously granted me permission to paint him. The watercolor is 11 x 15", and is listed on eBay.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Race Horse Note Cards on eBay

In honor of the upcoming Belmont Stakes, my portraits of Secretariat, Barbaro, Ruffian and Rachel Alexandra are featured on note cards. I am contemplating Mine That Bird!

The cards are on eBay.

Today's Equine Art - Belgian Draft Horse

This is a sweet little mini pastel, about 4 x 6". I did it to fit in a barnwood frame to take to Walking Horse Gallery, but since I won't get up there this week, I've decided to sell it on eBay.

Today's Watercolor - Sheltie

I did this piece in a sort of painterly style, with strokes reminiscent of an oil base paint. I like the effect of the dog's fur, as if it is blowing around. It's about 11 x 15". It's on eBay.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sheltie Note Cards

This piece is one of my favorites among my dog art. It is so characteristic of a Sheltie's behavior. (Of course, this is apart from the dogs who would opt to eat the duck!)

It's on eBay.

Horse Note Cards

Peddling note cards again on eBay!

I'm a Big Shot Now!

Amazon.com has given me my own author page.

Gotta figure out how to RSS feed this blog to it.