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Author Archives: Harmony

Tucker, My Five-Minute Old Cat: Celebrating the oddities of my old orange kitty (who smacks me in the face)

Tucker, My Five-Minute Old Cat: Celebrating the oddities of my old orange kitty (who smacks me in the face)

 

Meet Tucker, the cuddliest monkey ever.

 Tucker and Harmony 1

 

Mr. Tucker has been part of our family for several years. But, like many of our animals, he had an entire life before this one, a life that remains a mystery.

One thing is sure, though: Somewhere in the past, he experienced a head trauma that changed his brain forever. (It also cost him most of his teeth, poor guy.)

Perhaps because of this, Tucker now does odd, odd things. Such as…

 

Tucker and the sky

 

Operatic Singing

Several times a day (but not much at night),  Tucker sings huge, yowling songs.

When I hear him, I rush to his side, breathless. But he just looks at me, blinks, and starts grooming. Or he asks for a snack.

Each time he sings, I check in with him intuitively, just by getting quiet and opening myself to his feelings. (That’s animal communication in a nutshell, by the way.)

Sometimes, I feel into his frustration. Sometimes, I feel his loneliness, like he can’t find his people. Other times, I feel his celebration: he just ate a treat, or had a cuddle, and life is good.

Still more often, he’s simply singing because he is part of the song of life, the way that our cat Shnoodle sings to the storm.

His old vet said all this singing was fine. “He’s an old guy,” she said. “They just sing sometimes. We don’t really know why.”

Between her opinion and my intuitive impressions, I think everything is okay.

 

Tucker up close

 

Clockwork Cuddling (complete with head smack)

Tucker sleeps through the night between me and my husband. But the moment I wake up in the morning, Tucker stirs and crawls toward me.

Still lying down, I lift my arm. Tucker wriggles up to my shoulder. Half-asleep, he snuggles into my side, resting his chin on my shoulder, his head against my cheek.

I wrap my arm around him as he purrs, and we both fall back into a light sleep together.

Every few moments, he looks up – mid-purr, mid-drool – and slams his head against my face in ecstasy. (He’s nearly given me black eyes.)

This cuddle happens every morning. Every morning. Like clockwork.

If for some reason, I don’t want a kitty cuddle (such as cuddle-induced shoulder pain, which has happened more than once), he climbs any available part of my body, force-snuggling until I give in.

 

Tucker winking

 

Barreling Toward Danger (no matter who growls)

When Tucker feels threatened, he rushes toward danger, not to confront it or to fight it, but to get away. Yes, to run away from danger he runs toward it. (I believe he thinks he can run around it, but that doesn’t always work out in his favor.)

Our sweet golden retriever, Daisy, has developed a decidedly unsweet side when it comes to Tucker. Because his behavior is erratic, because he runs toward her when she’s upset, Daisy has determined that Tucker’s very presence is growl-worthy.

 

Daisy close up

 

Daisy growls when Tucker enters a room. She growls when he comes close to her. She growls and lifts her head when he’s a few inches away, and flashes out all sorts of canine “go away” signals.

But does Tucker listen? No, he does not. He just barrels forward.

Sometimes my husband and I have to insert our bodies in front of him to divert his course. This is the only thing that will alter his path. When he changes direction, he blinks, confused for a moment, but then settles into his new reality.

Within minutes, Tucker seems to have forgotten everything that occurred, from growl to diversion. We call him the Five-Minute Old Cat, because he seems to live five minutes at a time, cheerfully forgetting the thousands of five-minute blocks that form his history.

 

Tucker walking

 

 

Yard-Induced Feral Cathood

The oddest thing that Tucker does, though, involves the great outdoors. When he steps out from under our roof, he changes.

He becomes something other than the cuddliest monkey ever. He becomes a feral being, distrusting and wary, stalking through the grass and moss. He hunkers beneath the rhododendrons. He slips, unseen, between the ferns and the firs, and he is no more.

Needless to say, Tucker is only allowed outdoors in very controlled situations.

 

Tucker and Harmony's feet

 

Our backyard is fenced. Tuck’s hindquarters have undergone some trauma of their own (one vet postulated a horse kick) and he’s not able to jump more than a foot or two. A low fence keeps him corralled.

So Tucker is allowed to stalk, slink, and slither his way through the backyard to his heart’s content. This gives him freedom beneath the great open sky. It gives him the chance to sprawl belly-to-earth, the posture I think cats were made for.

It also gives him a chance to sing for his public.

When Tucker sings outdoors, his voice rises to a fever pitch unparalleled during indoor performances. He screams and he shrieks. He screeches and cries. Neighbors rush over in panic, adrenaline sloshing through their veins.

Then Tucker appears from beneath a fuchsia bush, wide-eyed and purring, and we all feel sheepish with relief.

 

Tucker extreme close-up

 

Tucker is a mystery. We don’t know his origin story. We don’t know what hurt him, or how. We don’t know what made him the cuddliest monkey that ever did exist.

It’s strange that we don’t know, or can’t tell.

Here I am, an animal communicator, able to receive images, impressions, and even words from animals, able to hear stories from animals I’ve never met before — but from Tucker I receive mostly silence.

Maybe this is just who he is, how he is made, and how he has become. And maybe I don’t need his stories. Really, I only need him. I am cat-dependent, and he is one of my furriest addictions.

 

Harmony and Tucker 2

 

 

The Great Corgi Leap! In which real paint is put on real paper. Really.

The Great Corgi Leap! In which real paint is put on real paper. Really.

 

 

Bossy Little Corgi acrylic painting 3

The Great Corgi Leap
acrylic, ink, & pencil on bristol paper, 9 x 12

 

 

The place: A darkened art studio.
The time: Midnight.
The weather: Cloudy with a chance of … horror! (Oh Noes!)

You are probably wondering why I have called you here today. It is for one reason, and one reason alone:

At least one of us here in this room is… a painter!

(Cue ominous crash of thunder, lightning flash, and scattered looks of shock.)

Yes. You heard me right. Someone here, someone nefarious, has been using paint. Is it you?

OH WAIT. Nevermind. It’s ME.

 

Bossy Little Corgi acrylic painting face close-up 2

 

It’s me! It’s me! That’s right, it’s me!

This week, I feel rather corgi-like: proud, happy, playful, a teensy bit bossy, and yes, quite adorable. Why? Because I painted a Bossy Little Corgi!

This is my second Bossy Little Corgi to receive the paint treatment. My first, which can be found in this lovely post, was done just a few weeks ago.

My first-and-a-half, where the background was painted and the corgi was digitally added, was completed just two weeks back.

If you read the post with the digital painting, you’ll know the reason why I went digital: I was scared. Scared of paint. Scared of mistakes.

Yes, even without an ominous crash of thunder, I felt that frisson of fear known to creative folks everywhere.

So I retreated somewhere safe: Photoshop Elements, where I could luxuriate with my beloved Undo forever.

 

flying corgi with mixed media background 4

The digital corgi!

 

But forever is really too long. Just a few days after posting that painting, I got that itch in my fingers. That itch to hold a brush. That itch to see what could happen if I flicked my fingers just so.

Along with the itch came a revelation. The clouds parted. The angels sang. And lo, unto me came the vision that I needed new paintbrushes.

Off I trundled craft-store-ward. When I returned, I had a bouquet of small brushes in my hands, their bristles shaped like tiny tongues. And I was ready to roll.

 

digital and physical corgis together

Digital corgi and physical corgi.
Lordy, what a difference!

 

I knew that it would be important to keep this painting low-risk. If I risked very few art supplies in its making, I’d feel more free to experiment. So I made the choice to paint this on bristol paper, which costs pennies, rather than canvas, which costs, well, dollars.

Now, paper is not the best substrate for acrylic painting. I know this now. You probably have known it for years. But up until this painting, I knew it not.

Remember, if you will, that I am completely clueless. I’m just a beginning painter, hoping to absorb skill through intuition and osmosis — a strategy which has suited me well all my life, so I don’t see why it should fail me today.

But when it comes to actually creating art, it turns out that a bit of technical knowledge (such as, “Dang, don’t do an acrylic painting on paper, for pity’s sake!”) can go a long way.

What am I left with? A corgi I absolutely love. Love! Love!

On a piece of paper taped to a scrap of lumber my sweetheart found in an outbuilding on our property, and me without a clue as to what to do with it next.

 

bossy little corgi taped to a board

 

Do I remove it from the board? If so, will it warp? If not, will the tape gum itself up until it’s permanent?

Should I mount the corgi onto a canvas board? Cardboard? More bristol board? Or just sling her into a pre-fab frame and rush off to paint the next corgi in my queue?

All these questions, and more, will be answered in next week’s episode of….

The Bossy Little Corgi Rides Again!

 
(Unless, of course, you experts out there answer them in the comments, for which I would be eternally grateful.)
 
 

Hey wait! One last thing before you go!

Bossy Little Corgi acrylic painting corgi butt close-up
 
 
 
On Grieving an Animal: exploring the loss that leads to transformation

On Grieving an Animal: exploring the loss that leads to transformation

 

daisy and the sunset

 

Earlier today, I was on the phone in an animal communication session with a client. It was all about grief, about losing a dearest animal friend, and in its way, it was beautiful.

Beauty and grief. I still feel it: the waves of emotion washing through me, the sadness rising like a tide in my heart. It feels like water, yes, but also like light, illuminating the waves like jewels.

Grief is one of the greatest healers I know. It washes away so much in life that doesn’t matter. When it has done this, when we have gone through the darkness, the only thing left is this moment, and a quiet, tired surrender to what is.

And what remains? The light tilting across the boughs of the evergreens. The sound of the wind against the windowpanes. The thump of our own heartbeat. This life, continuing. The willingness to love again.

I have a new painting to share with you, and lots of thoughts on intuition. I’ll share them in a few days. Right now, I just want to honor grief, especially for those who have lost animals.

 

jetty rocks at sunset

 

On Losing an Animal Friend

Animal loss is not yet well supported or well understood. There is not yet a lot of cultural compassion for the wrenching pain of losing a beloved animal friend.

Despite this, losing an animal can be even more painful than losing a human loved one. Unlike many humans, animals can offer us unconditional love, and the loss of that love can feel insurmountable.

The grief of animal loss is often complicated by feelings of embarrassment, confusion, and shame. It shouldn’t hurt this much, we tell ourselves. I don’t know why I’m in so much pain.

It’s almost like we want to talk ourselves out of feeling so deeply.

But the only way out of those feelings is to be with them, to make the space for grief in our lives, to give ourselves the time and self-compassion necessary to heal.

 

daisy going to the river

 

Through Grief into Art

This blog started out on the note of grief.

When I resurrected my blogging life after my long illness, my first post here was The Cows of Grief, sharing the loss of a dear cat named Freddie. (His loss hurt so deeply, and he wasn’t even my cat.)

Soon after recovering from the illness, I lost several human family members in a row, and I wove their loss into my blog posts. The support I received from the blogging community was instrumental in healing both the human and animal losses.

Later, when I “graduated” from grief counseling, I wrote about this change in Grief Cownseling No More. I had found my lightness again, my sense of humor and joy. I had healed.

I realize now that this was one of the most important steps I could take in my life—and in my journey to becoming an artist:

I felt my feelings. I shared them. I got help. I found my comfort and joy again.

Because of this—and because I have been following a path of healing for many years—I created space in my life and in my heart for the emotional risks inherent on the artist’s path.

Through grief, deep personal growth, and healing my illness, I developed a resilience that I didn’t know was possible for me.

This is why I can share my art, writing, and photography with you now.

 bojo in the waves 2

 

Hearing the Call

When a beloved animal dies, I believe that we are being called to a new stage of life.

Through grief, we have the opportunity to feel into our hearts. When the hardest pain has passed, we can start to hear the whispers that our hearts want us to hear.

When my cat Sam became very ill, I was called on a deep spiritual journey into shamanism that led to my ability to talk with the animals. When he died, that call deepened.

When Freddie died, I was called on a journey to writing online—and while that may not sound deep, consider that it’s a journey of utter transparency, of vulnerability and courage.

After the loss of three family members, I was called on a journey into making art—which I have longed to do for most of my life, and have finally given myself permission.

One thing I have learned through the losses of my life: When grief summons, when The Call for transformation comes out from my heart, I do not say no.

 

sunset through the dunegrass

 

Grief is not a time for resistance. Yes, there may be anger. Yes, we may feel like a wad of used tissue. But if you are grieving, give into it—and get help. Let your life be changed by this healing in your heart.

For those with human loss, call your local hospice and request free counseling. This kind of support can truly change your life.

For those with animal loss, know that your animals often come back to you.

 

daisy coming back

 

In the meantime they are always nearby. I’ve seen it too many times now to argue with this truth. And there is support available, though you sometimes have to look for it.

My client today looked for that support. I was honored to be a part of it. Honored not just to talk with her beloved animal-in-spirit, but to be someone with whom she opened her heart.

This is vulnerability and compassion. This is courage on the part of everyone concerned. I cherish this with all that I am.

 

 

 

Fly Corgi Fly! A walk-through of my new corgi painting, featuring many pictures, many digital layers, and a few heretofore unknown fears

Fly Corgi Fly! A walk-through of my new corgi painting, featuring many pictures, many digital layers, and a few heretofore unknown fears

  Meet my newest Bossy Little Corgi painting, a hybrid of acrylic, pencil, and digital art. I gotta admit — I’m pretty much in love, both with the corgi painting and with her process. ♥ Want to see how she came to be? Read on.     In the Beginning… Curiosity. It gets me everyContinue Reading

Singing to the Storm with Shnoodle: a roundabout adventure in intimacy and art

Singing to the Storm with Shnoodle: a roundabout adventure in intimacy and art

    A few days ago, a storm galloped in from the sea. Sand gusted across the beach in lacy currents. Trees leaned to the side then whipped upward again. Our whole house howled. Not literally, though. Throughout it, all the animals were chill. This was just a winter storm, after all. We get dozensContinue Reading

My First Bossy Little Corgi Painting (and a few thoughts on paint, fear, and control freakhood)

My First Bossy Little Corgi Painting (and a few thoughts on paint, fear, and control freakhood)

  Here she is! After much ado, my first Bossy Little Corgi painting!   Bossy Little Corgi 9×12 mixed media (acrylic, paper collage, pencil, marker) on 100 lb journal paper digitally scanned with an Epson Perfection V600 stitched together in Photoshop Elements She is my first painted Bossy Little Corgi. All others have been inContinue Reading

I’m Grateful Just to be Well: On illness, intuition, color hunger and more (and most definitely not about corgis… well, not much anyway)

I’m Grateful Just to be Well: On illness, intuition, color hunger and more (and most definitely not about corgis… well, not much anyway)

    Last week, I was starved for color in my art. In this week’s adventure, I fed that hunger. But first, this word from my body: Ugh. Truth is, I’ve been sick this week. I had a terrible cold concurrent with an episode of anemia. And it’s been scary. There was a good reasonContinue Reading

I Will Eat Every Scrap of Color in This Room: Becoming ravenous for color while exploring the link between animal communication and art

I Will Eat Every Scrap of Color in This Room: Becoming ravenous for color while exploring the link between animal communication and art

  I love pencils. I particularly love that pencils can be erased. If I want to, I can erase and re-create a corgi’s ear a million times.     But lately, after weeks of drawing in mechanical pencil, I’ve found a clandestine love: The love of color. There is a madness within me, a hunger,Continue Reading

Climbing a Dune in the Brilliant Light, then Curling Up in the Shadow: an explosion of joyous photos and an exploration of rest

Climbing a Dune in the Brilliant Light, then Curling Up in the Shadow: an explosion of joyous photos and an exploration of rest

  If you consider heaven to be rainy, slick with mud, and sprouting wild mushrooms out of every possible crevice, then, yes, I live in paradise (also known as western Oregon). There’s a flip side to this paradise. In the middle of winter, the rainstorms will vanish. The clouds will part. And the sky willContinue Reading

The Attack of the Larynx-Busting Vampire Bug from Space, and Other Forms of Voicelessness (plus a Brand New Header that Celebrates Artsy, Animalsy Goodness!)

The Attack of the Larynx-Busting Vampire Bug from Space, and Other Forms of Voicelessness (plus a Brand New Header that Celebrates Artsy, Animalsy Goodness!)

    Last week, I spoke up about the Art Harpies who harangued my drawings. The day after I published that post, I completely lost my voice. I went to bed the night before with a wee throat tickle. The next morning, I could barely croak. Gone was the tra-la of my musical voice atContinue Reading

 
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The Beginner's Guide to
Animal Wisdom

is a little ebook that will help you listen to your animal pals.
Want the book & occasional newsletter? Sign up below.

(Or visit this cute little page to hear me fizz about why this book is fabulous!)

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