LIFE IS A JOURNEY


Road Leading Nowhere Road Leading Nowhere

Far From Somewhere Far From Somewhere

Road Leading Somewhere Road Leading Somewhere

Grow old along with me,The best is yet to be. The last of life for which the first has saved. Robert Browning

watercolor paintings by kayti sweetland Rasmussen

Sam and Panda2 Dr. Advice and Panda

Paintings like the words in our stories have a strong basis in fact. A picture, a word, a gesture prompts our creative spirit to get busy. For eleven years our Old English Sheepdog Panda accompanied Dr. Advice on his morning walk, meandering ahead and then coming back to see why he was so slow. Panda knew every bush and squirrel hole on the trail as well as the regular everyday walkers and their dogs. She was the queen of the trail and kept herself aloof from the other dogs after a quick nod of her head.

Panda came to us as a rescue dog having been caught in a flood which nearly took the life of her master, a horse trainer of some repute in Northern California. Disaster had struck in the middle of the night, and about 100 horses had to be quickly removed from the premises and onto higher ground. Our grandson, a horseman living in the area, was among those who came to help in the rescue of the horses. The rancher unfortunately had a heart attack after the disaster and was unable to keep his animals.

Panda, along with several other farm dogs were given to willing people after the action. Our grandson thought Panda would be a grand roommate for Penny our dachshund, and when we came to meet her, she jumped into our pickup truck and made herself comfortable and at home. Once in the truck, there was no coaxing her out again. In her eyes she had found her forever home. I always thought she looked like the Nana dog in Peter Pan whose job it was to look after the children, like Nana, Panda had decided to take care of us.

Old English Sheepdogs are pretty laid back and not prone to sudden activity. On one morning walk late in her life, while walking the same old trail she knew by heart, she became separated from Dr. Advice, and he began driving home before he missed her. Luckily when he realized his mistake and went back, he found her waiting patiently where he had mislaid her.

Unlike the Border Collie, whom we see herding sheep by crouching and staring them down, the Old English is a drover who will push from behind for miles and miles if necessary. Our morning walks always went from about two miles to sometimes 14 miles, and Panda was always trotting along beside us looking for a stray rabbit or two, unaware of who they were dealing with.

Our dear pet friends always know when it’s time to say goodbye, even if it seems too soon for us, and eleven years after Panda came to live with us, that day arrived. Now her quiet, gentle ghost smiles on Charlie, the exuberant Jack Russell Terrier who now demands two walks a day, and Dr. Advice has learned that it is to his advantage to oblige.

Life is a journey, and the companions we take along with us, and the people we meet along our way keep it all new, exciting and worthwhile.

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TIMELESS WORDS


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JONAH AND THE WHALE” STONEWARE SCULPTURE BY KAYTI SWEEETLAND RASMUSSEN

A word is intangible. We can’t buy it in a store, hold it in our arms, or lock it in a safe. Yet, it’s infinitely shareable–we can send it to thousands and still use it ourselves.

A word is a link to history, a bridge to the future. The word ‘wisdom’, for instance, is the same word that was once spoken by the author of Beowulf, those same letters appeared in Shakespeare’s plays, Emerson wrote with the same syllables, and the reporter in today’s newspaper makes use of the very same word.

We might well wonder what words Jonah uttered as he was being slowly introduced to the interior of the whale. I’m sure the Bible has him sending up a plea to the Almighty to save him from almost certain familiarity with the digestive process soon to come. But what did he really say?

“Words are the only things that last forever; they are more durable than the eternal hills. William Hazlitt, essayist (1778-1830)”

There are so-called “good” words and “bad” words, and these sometimes change with the vernacular of the generations. Many of the words our parents thought of as bad words are in common use today. Bill Bryson says “More than 350 million people in the world speak English and the rest, it sometimes seems, try to”. No other language has achieved such eminence, overcome such odds, inspired such majesty of thought, or caused such confusion as English.

New words come into existence every day, with the birth of new industries. Each profession and business has it’s own language peculiar to them. For instance the terms I might use as an artist would not be useful to a dog catcher or a Paramedic.

Scholars have divided the history of the English language into three periods. Old English (from the middle of the 5th to the beginning of the 12th century). Middle English (12th century through the 15th), and Modern English (16th century onwards.

To confuse things further, we have British English and American English, and we all fall under the designation as speaking the “Mother Tongue”. Erroneous words are sometimes introduced by respected users of the language who simply make a mistake. Shakespeare thought illustrious was the opposite of lustrous and for a time gave it a sense that wasn’t called for. More alarmingly, the poet Robert Browning caused considerable consternation by including the word twat in one of his poems, thinking it an innocent term. The work was Pippa Passes written in 1841 and now remembered for the line “God’s in His Heaven, all’s right with the world”. But it also contains this disconcerting passage: Then owls and bats, Cowls and twats, Monks and nuns in a cloister’s moods, Adjourn to the oak-stump pantry!

Browning had apparently come across the word twat —which meant precisely the same then as it does now—and somehow took it to mean a piece of headgear for the nuns. Though it caused much hilarity among generations of schoolboys, it was never called to Browning’s attention, because no one could think of a suitably delicate way to explain it to him.

A VALENTINE FOR MY HUSBAND


lovebirds“How do I love thee let me count the ways” Robert Browning wrote these words to Elizabeth Barrett early in the 19th century.

Have you ever sat and listed the many ways and reasons you love someone? It’s quite difficult isn’t it? It keeps changing day by day and as more and more time goes by, you find more and more ways and reasons to care for someone. The reasons won’t be the same as when you were in the first heat of competition for his affections.

I love you for your kindness, and for the way you remember and celebrate each and every tiny holiday. I love you for knowing that people would rather receive a present than a gift card at Christmas, even if it is a very small package. (Of course, diamonds don’t take up much room.)

I love you for caring how I feel, and insisting upon carting me to every appointment even when I would rather drive myself, when I’m shopping for groceries, (even Nordstrom) and waiting patiently till I complete my mission without hanging over my shoulder.

I love you for being cheerful, even if it is too early for me to wake up and I just wish the world would go away.

I love you for writing real paper & pen letters to all the kids and grandkids instead of e-mail. (You have been told that you may alone in doing this.)

I love you for seeing a problem and insisting on fixing it immediately, even if I might wait and think about it. ( Another large tree came out today and two new ones will go in this week. I would probably have waited a bit longer to remove that lovely plum tree.)

I love you for admitting when you don’t know something. (I don’t always do this).

I love you for realizing we are different and not caring.

I love you for proving that right and left brain people can live happily together without killing each other.

I love you for loving me.

The first Valentine I received from you was when I was sixteen. I had just memorized Robert Browning’s poem in Mr. Cummings second period English class, and fresh in the throes of first love. This will be the 68th Valentine, and those ‘fresh throes” are stronger than yesterday. Happy Valentine’s Day Dr. Advice.

“At the end of the day, only kindness matters.”