Thoughts of my Dad

Me and Dad drawing at the farm

This is one of my favorite photos taken in 1963 of me at age 5 and my dad, age 42, drawing together. We were on vacation at our ancestral family farm in Tennessee about an hour south of Nashville in the tiny rural community of Fly. We drove there from Texas every summer to visit my grandparents on my mother’s side and any aunts, uncles and cousins who sometimes also drove in from out of town for a family reunion.

My dad was a professor of painting and art history as well as a professional contemporary artist (painting and sculpture). He had a wonderful sense of humor and a supreme love and appreciation of all things natural. He had been a pilot in WWII for 5 years and had seen some disturbing sights of war he wouldn’t talk about, although now and then, he would tell me stories of his adventures in Africa and the Middle East. He smoked Captain Black tobacco in his pipe. There’s still a can of it in his studio. The sweet, musky smell brings me right back to him. He died suddenly of a heart attack at home in Texas several years ago, having lived a long, full life of 88 years.

I loved how my dad never made me feel uncomfortable for being a quiet child who preferred to listen and observe others rather than talk. I miss the way he would smile at me when a butterfly would land on my hand, the butterfly being the most precious and important thing in the whole world at that moment, or the way he would draw something funny on his napkin during supper and show it to me discreetly so my mother couldn’t see our shared secret. How lucky I am to have had such a sensitive, kind, intelligent man as my life mentor for so many years.

Cedar Waxwing Death Scare

Cedar Waxwing

Today when I was sitting on my couch with my laptop, I heard something hit my glass front screen door with a thump. The sound was familiar. A bird hit. Birds don’t hit my door very often, thank goodness. The fact that  I intentionally leave the glass dusty to keep the reflections down and hang a seasonal wreath year-round to break the reflection, yet birds still run into the door, is upsetting. They don’t always live through it. I hated to look,  knowing there was a 50-50 chance I would see a beautiful winged creature lying dead on my porch with a broken neck. I opened the door slowly and saw a delicate, incredibly beautiful Cedar Waxwing sitting dazed on my front porch. She turned her head and looked up at me, wobbling in her stance. My heart ached for her.  I  slowly closed the door. There is a large, menacing male Siamese semi-stray who hangs around in the bushes near my front porch.  I was nervous he might snatch her. I wanted to protect her, to put her in a safe place to recuperate. But I knew if I tried to pick her up, she would freak out and possibly die. So I kept an eye on her through the window.  The next 30 minutes were harder for me, I think, than for her. I was committed to watch her until she was okay. To my great happiness and relief, she finally regained enough composure to fly away with her flock mates. Cedar Waxwings migrate through this area of north Texas every year, along with many other birds heading south in the late fall then heading north in the spring. I treasure them all and wish them safe return to their native lands, especially my beautiful new friend.

Mystical Vulture Visitor from the Otherworld/Spirit World.


Yesterday morning, I had what I believe to be a visit from a spirit from the Otherworld or Spirit World. I say this because I can’t find a rational explanation for the experience no matter how hard I try. I have to admit, I am ashamed I would even feel the need to find an explanation. The  younger me wouldn’t have questioned this for a moment.

As the story goes, I was walking my dog early in the morning down a path on the edge of a small college campus, between the soccer field and the intermural field. There were no trees in the immediate area, just fences and low bushes. There was a cool breeze and the sun was just coming up. Tag (my dog) and I were happily cruising along when suddenly there was a flash of light before me then a huge black vulture appeared soaring about 15 feet above. His enormous wings were stretched out so far he looked more like a condor than a vulture. He looked directly at me then swooped down right over my head so close I felt the wind from his feathers as he passed. I quickly turned to look back at him, but he was gone.  I mean he just vanished. How could such a large bird just disappear? There was absolutely no bird even close to that size anywhere nearby. I stood still looking around in all directions for a good 5 minutes and saw nothing. I looked at the top of the power line poles along the path and other tall things the bird might have suddenly lit upon after passing me. I looked in the distance all the way around for a vulture soaring in the air. Nothing. He vanished as quickly as he had appeared.

Now, I am a firm believer in the Otherworld/Spirit World, but it has been a long time since I have had a vision that wasn’t in a dream or during meditation. This was real time, in this world, in this dimension (or at least, I think it was!). I have always admired the vulture for the fact that even though they are raptors,  they are not predators. They don’t kill, but feed on the dead. They are fastidiously clean and take excellent care of their young way longer than most. And they can soar like no other bird I have ever watched. They seem to enjoy spiraling together in the thermals. I have often wished I could join them. Still, why would he visit me??

A little vulture culture – The Mayans revered the vulture saying the bird could re-create life from death. In Egyptian mythology, vultures were symbols of femininity and maternal protection. When the goddess Nekhebet became associated with the vulture headdress, the bird became a heraldic symbol for Upper Egypt.


Egyptian queen with vulture headress

(Egyptian queen with vulture headdress)

So here’s the rest of the story – Tag and I continued on our walk, still looking for signs of the vulture, but saw nothing. When I got home, I looked in my Druid Animal Oracle for a vulture to see what the vision might have meant. The book mentioned blackbirds and ravens, but no vultures.  So I searched the internet and found that if a vulture has flown across your path, the vulture is asking you to be patient. He is asking you to be thoughtful about your decisions and “choose paths that support your higher consciousness and heart.” – (this came from the website:  More on the subject can be read there.)

Even though my experience was way more than just a random vulture passing by, I couldn’t find any information about a mystical siting of a vulture from the Otherworld, so I decided to just go with what I found.

Another website had an entire page devoted to the symbolism of the vulture throughout history in different cultures. Wow! I had no idea! Here’s the link to that website with fascinating information for those who want to know more.  Thank you, Avia!

So what does all this mean for me? The suggestion from the Spirit Vulture that I need to be patient and take my time making decisions fits with my current situation. With all the obsessions and insecurities I’ve had about the new cover for my book ( while neglecting my blog and not writing book 2!) and freaking out over the endless forms of marketing I apparently should be doing, I have been going nuts. I don’t have the money to do what the gurus/bestsellers suggest, but even the free marketing leaves me very little time to write. I bow down to those self-published bestseller folks for having such social media tenacity. The private, creative soul inside of me hates, hates and did I mention, hates(?) marketing!

Bottom line – I’ve been trying to do too many things at once. I need to chill, soar, be patient and thoughtful, write and do my art and things will work out.

So to end this mini-saga about my visitor. Having the Spirit Vulture pop in and out of my world was a blessing and perfect timing! Although I won’t be dining with him on road kill, I will try to embrace all that he has to teach me. I might even find a way to include him in book 2 of my series. Just thinking about him has gotten me writing again. His magic is already working!  🙂

My buddy – Tag


This is Tag, my faithful friend who walks with me every morning. She appeared in my neighborhood about 5 years ago as a starving waif less than a year old. She had gone feral after running loose for nearly 10 months with another dog I nicknamed “Brown Girl.” Tag wouldn’t let me touch her, but was eager to eat the food I’d put out everyday in my front yard. I watched her eat acorns, grasshoppers, leftover pizza  in the campus parking lot, the occasional bird, mice, rats and whatever else she and Brown Girl could scrounge from a trash can or catch. Brown Girl was the alpha and always ate first, leaving mere scraps of scraps for Tag. Throughout that winter, I watched Tag and Brown Girl curl up together in the freezing rain nestled deep in a pile of leaves that had accumulated against a fence in the lot across the street. I put various shelters out for the dogs, but they perceived them as traps and would have nothing to do with them. Every morning, when I walked my German Shepherd, Romeo, Tag would follow us staying a safe distance behind. She became our tag-along and thus her name.

Over time, Tag and Brown Girl became possessive of my neighborhood and began chasing and nipping at certain people who threatened them in some way. Animal Control was working with me trying to catch both dogs, but one day they told me they were going to have to shoot the dogs because they had grown aggressive. They gave me one more day to catch them. On that day, I rigged up a trap in my yard and lured Brown Girl in with a broiled chicken, but once Tag realized it was a trap, she wouldn’t come. As fate would have it, that afternoon a college student who lived nearby was walking home and Tag was following her. The girl sat down in the vacant lot across the street from my house and Tag amazingly sat in her lap! I walked to the edge of the lot and asked if she would hold Tag while I put a leash around her neck. The girl, who was pre-med veterinary, said “no problem” and so we caught Tag, who bucked and reared like a wild mustang as soon as she realized her life of freedom had ended. I had hoped the girl could adopt Tag, as there was obviously some kind of connection. But she was headed to vet school and could not, so I decided to keep her as a “play toy” for Romeo and they became best friends. He has passed on now, but she remains my steadfast companion. Tag has adapted well to domestic life. She is very laid back and rarely leaves my side. I believe she just needed to be loved, as all stray dogs yearn to be. I couldn’t imagine life without her.

And what happened to Brown Girl? I took her to the vet and she had a microchip in her neck! The vet called the phone number on the chip and a nurse from Dallas, 60 miles away, answered. She immediately began crying and said her dog had been lost for almost a year after her ex-boyfriend had taken her dog and dumped her, but she had no idea where to look. She got in her car and rushed to my house to claim Brown Girl who’s real name was Sadie. What could have ended in tremendous sadness for those two dogs turned out to be a very happy new beginning.