Dec 22, 2011

Solstice Bark

Merlin on Route 66
Solstice Greetings on your road trip of life.
Wherever you travel this holiday season, may your journey be blessed with good roads and great company.

In the deep well of winter, a drop of hope illuminates the darkness.
Sun turns, light returns.

Winter Solstice Woofs!

Nov 8, 2011

Happy Dog Birthday Day

Merlin at Monument Valley Mittens
Merlin turns 12 today. That’s a monumental birthday for a dog and Merlin got a jump start on the celebrations with a Road Trip to the American Southwest. He posed with the famous giant mittens in the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, at sunset, of course, for saturated photographic color. Our digital Kodachrome homage moment.

Happy Birthday Merlin, and many more healthy, happy, road tripping years! Merlin wishes you birthday treats, every day.

Oct 15, 2011

Blessing Merlin

Merlin in Grace Cathedral Labyrinth, Feast of St Francis, San Francisco San Francisco celebrates its patron saint, Saint Francis of Assisi, with the Blessing of the Animals in Grace Cathedral. On the first Sunday in October all creatures great and small are invited to church. Reminiscent of medieval cathedrals where dogs roamed the back aisles and traveling pilgrims camped overnight with their livestock, the Feast of St. Francis services are peppered with barks and meows from amongst the pews. Animal murmurs mingle with prayers and merge with hymns. A few howls cheer the choir. All animals present are blessed and thanked for their loving companionship, and the entire assembly scampers to the courtyard for individual blessings and biscuits. Merlin Receiving St Francis Day Blessing of the Animals in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
Being a seasoned labyrinth explorer, Merlin lingered in the cathedral, waiting for the space to clear so he could settle into the center of the magnificent Grace Labyrinth all by himself. Rainbow light poured from stained glass windows, bathing Merlin in St. Francis’ radiant blessing. Illuminated labyrinth, enlightened Merlin!
Merlin in Grace Cathedral Labyrinth, Feast of St Francis, San Francisco
Thank you Merlin, for padding along life’s path with us. St Francis’ blessing on your precious paws, and to all creatures for companionship, courage, service, loyalty, innocence. May we be as wonderful for you, as you are for us. Many delicious blessings on your Path!

Sep 2, 2011

Dog Days of Summer Labyrinth Walk

We came, we walked, we woofed.
Dog Days of Summer Labyrinth Walk
Combining a TweepUp of local Marin Twitter pals with a dog play date, Merlin held court at the Fountain of Hope Labyrinth at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Terra Linda. Pastor Lon filled the fountain with fresh water as resident King Charles Spaniel, Kingston, bounced about greeting his visitors. Dog Days of Summer Labyrinth Walk
Poncho brought Sally_K who brought Dolores, Marc, and Murphy; Hogarth sat in the olive grove shade with Cate; neighbors Nancy and Mike walked over with Mala and Boomer. Dixie sent Alembic and dog auntie Diane brought Ken_. We checked in on foursquare, scoring extra points for hanging with the mayors.
Dog Days of Summer Labyrinth Walk
After the initial enthusiasm of a spontaneous pack party settled down, Cindy and Marty rang Tingshas inviting walkers to enter the labyrinth. Peace descended as dogs quietly accompanied their people along the path, stopping to greet each other and sniff carved pebbles offering words of hope nestled amongst the stones.
Dog Days of Summer Labyrinth Walk
People calmed as dogs calmed. Serenity flowed around the circuits, radiating from the splashing fountain in the center. The labyrinth revealed one of its profound teachings: be present, and walk the path presented before you, one foot/paw step at a time.
Dog Days of Summer Labyrinth Walk
Laberdogs jostled to pose in the center for the treat tossing photographer as tweep pals Pobutler, FunMaster, and BeanUpTheNoseTam texted virtual pats and biscuits.
Dog Days of Summer Labyrinth Walk

Dog Days of Summer Labyrinth Walk Gallery

Dog Days of Summer Labyrinth Walk
Sally_K posts Marin TweetUps so check out future events, with and without our four-footed companions. The outdoor Fountain of Hope Labyrinth is always open, and the church hosts 1st Tuesday Labyrinth Walks with music and are planning a special 9/11 observance.

The Fountain of Hope Labyrinth is one of Merlin’s favorite California labyrinths. He finds it especially refreshing. You can too. Come walk. Be of dog mind. Walk your path in life’s labyrinth with presence, curiosity, optimism. Sniff peace. Woof!
Merlin Drinks from the Fountain of Hope

Apr 22, 2011

Easter Puppy

HoppyEasterEaster puppy parade!
Merlin dons bunny ears for our annual Saturday Before Easter Parade. For the last 42 years, the local Terra Linda Fire Department has led dozens of kids, dogs, and parents around the neighborhood while the Easter bunny sneaks in to lay eggs. EasterMerlinStart
The parade start siren sets Merlin to howling as the kids roll out their festively decorated bicycles, tricycles, wagons, and scooters. The fire truck speeds along at 1/4 mph as kids squeal, dogs bark, and parents and grandparents click photos. EasterMerlinHuntAfter a stately promenade around the blocks, the parade returns to the start and kids line the sidewalks in front of their respective age group lawn, waiting for another fire siren signal to release them to pounce into the Easter egg hunt.

EasterMerlinFireCaptainMerlin’s emergency response howling assistance has long been appreciated by pedestrians, drivers, and other hounds, and at last year’s Easter Parade, Fire Captain Eric MacAusland invited Merlin to hop up on the fire truck bumper with him. Merlin was thrilled! Everyone snapped their picture.

EasterMerlinLabyrinthThis Easter Sunday holds another special event with the dedication of our latest local Marin Labyrinth at Christ Presbyterian Church in Terra Linda. After service, we’ll gather to welcome the labyrinth and thank the many helping hands and paws that built it. During the frenzied kids’ egg hunt, everyone is invited to walk the new labyrinth to share hope and community.

EasterMerlinSniffMerlin’s sniffing out dog treat bunny eggs, practicing in his labyrinth for the arrival of spring surprises.

EasterBasketEaster puppy blessings of renewal and hope. Hoppy Easter,
Hoppy Spring,
Hoppy Life!

Hop, hop!

Mar 31, 2011

Spring Labyrinth

WetMerlinLabyrinths are blossoming in Marin and Merlin is right in the center of the latest. A few years ago, we sniffed out a likely location along a neighborhood footpath and with gentle persistence, and various committee meetings, the Christ Presbyterian Church Labyrinth was approved. Michelle Fouts heads the Labyrinth Task Force with Jerry Current as engineer. Joined by members of the congregation including scout troops, groundbreaking was in mid-January 2011. There's been steady Saturday progress.

7CircuitMy favorite 7-circuit Medieval Chartres style single pathway mirror design is the chosen pattern. The sequence of turns leading in are repeated on the way out, so we can use one color brick to the right on the way in, and a second color for the way out. We marked the pattern with string in the grass to show the potential of the space. After weeds and topsoil were moved and leveled, rock and sand made a bed for gopher wire and landscaping cloth.DirtLabyrinth Severe storms in mid-March whipped up the cloth, tangling the spray painted pattern of fabric strips into twisted noodles against the back fence. We re-set the pattern, anchoring the cloth with handy boards and stumps. The wind and rain laughed at our efforts and ripped out the cloth again, WetLabyrinthClothso we returned armed with wheelbarrow loads of bricks and sorted the storm mess. My Labyrinth Intro photo presentation March 20 celebrated the Spring Equinox and invited walkers to send water prayers to Japan in a Global Healing Response. The big work parties this Saturday and next, April 2 & 9, will set the bricks and fill the path with sand, gravel and bark. The gardeners are gathering the surrounding landscaping and we're on track for an Easter dedication.

From the depth of winter darkness through early spring storms we build towards the hope of full spring and the promise of Easter. The labyrinth teaches hope. Like ripples from a pebble dropped in a still pond, the circuits of the labyrinth pattern radiate out from our hearts. WetLabyrinthMerlinGroundcloth glows with the painted pattern as we splash along the path. The bricks will anchor the pattern into permanence, bringing the labyrinth of our imagination into physical realty.

The ancient pattern of the labyrinth balances right and left, verbal and non-verbal, body and mind. Walking the pathway literally changes our point view as we turn left then right, then left again. Engaging the body in walking allows the mind freedom to soar, and the quiet voices of creativity and spirit are heard. Walking the labyrinth re-integrates our separate selves and we begin to re-member and re-claim our clear, whole self. Walking our individual BrickMerlinLabyrinthpath alone, we see that we are also walking the same path together. Mindfully placing every paw and footstep with careful awareness, we are invited to breath deep this precious moment of life.

Merlin is keen on labyrinths and likes walking with people who walk them. Dogs embody optimism, always ready for a walk, a biscuit, a road trip. Labyrinths, spring, dawn, dogs- holders of hope. Keep walking. Spring is walking to meet us.

Feb 14, 2011

Valentine Merlin

ValentineMerlinHappy hearts to all. Merlin wishes all his pals a heartful Valentine's Day. Say yes. Hug somebody. Hug everybody. Dispense biscuits.
In the spirit of the original St. Valentine, embrace all who love, whomever they love.
St. Valentine was martyred for performing secret marriages for Roman soldiers when it was forbidden for army men to wed. Imprisoned, he wrote a love note to his jailor's blind daughter, who's sight was restored so she could read, From your Valentine. Let love open your eyes.
Celebrate love. Live your passion. Smell roses, eat chocolate (if you're a human), wag more. Embrace love, embrace life. Say YES.

YesHeart Dog kisses all around.

Feb 2, 2011

Groundhog Dog Day

Merlin sees his shadow!
Predicts no more winter anyway because he lives in Northern California’s sunny Marin County!

GopherHunterMerlinCamEvery Groundhog Day Merlin trots expectantly to his local puppy park to observe rodent shadows. He's yet to meet a real groundhog, woodchuck, or marmot, the squirrel family mega members, but ears perked, nose to the ground, he hunts for local gophers. Creeping soundlessly across the sunny grass, Merlin’s shadow floats across potential gopher exits. Gentle, curious, patient, Merlin waits for little furry noses to pop up. Ears flicking, he herds his underground park pals around their tunnels. He could do this all day.

MerlinGopherSniffPunxsutawney Phil is the official Groundhog Day weather predicting groundhog. Every February 2nd for the last 125 years, Phil peeks out of his wintery hibernation in the Pennsylvania Wilds to see if spring is coming. According to legend, if the groundhog sees his shadow at sunrise, there will be 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn't, early spring arrives. And, yes, of Punxsutawney Phil's 125 prognostications, he usually sees his shadow, predicting more winter. Sorry, Pennsylvania. The town of Punxsutawney celebrates all day either way, streaming live. GroundhogBadgeMerlin joined in early by earning his Groundhog Day Foursquare Badge and you can too by shouting Groundhog anywhere in the world today. Details.

February 2nd is also Imbolc/ Candlemas/ Brigid's Day, half way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. In the harsh heart of winter, we long for the steady strengthening sun. New life stirs in the thawing landscape. We wish you a frosty morning walk, free from shadows. Early spring sunshine. And badges!

Jan 10, 2011

Dog Star

StarMerlinShine bright, winter Sirius.
New year, new moon, new spark.
Merlin’s first labyrinth walk of 2011 was on First Tuesday at our local Fountain of Hope Labyrinth. Two weeks after the Winter Solstice full moon eclipse, a blazing brave sliver of new moon set with a pale sun. We sensed a deep stirring in the winter stillness, light and life returning to the world. Hope, a good word to carry on the path, placed deliberately with each step, purposeful intention for a superb new year.

HopeLabyrinthMerlinAs darkness thickens, bright Sirius, the Dog Star, rises in the gelid sky. Blazing blue-white in the frosty night, Sirius marks the watchful eye of the Great Dog, the constellation Canis Major. The brightest star dazzles the longest nights, reaching its highest point at midnight every New Year's Eve. Sirius, the Dog Star, our most faithful companion, watches over our night wanderings and dreams.

The eighth brightest star, Procyon, rises an hour before Sirius, in the heart of Canis Minor, the Smaller Dog. Procyon and Sirius join ninth brightest Betelgeuse to form the Winter Triangle. Red Betelgeuse marks a shoulder of Orion the Hunter, trekking across the winter sky with his two dogs. Sirius and Procyon are both binary stars with white dwarf pups, so the canine stars are really little packs of multiple stars, herding each other through our night, across all time.

Back home, our dog star, Merlin, guides terrestrial journeys with his MerlinMapsJanuary road trip readiness ritual, the Sorting of the Maps, selecting biscuits tossed onto maps to indicate this year’s destinations. Last fall we spent 2 weeks in southern Utah sniffing out petroglyphs, and returning along Nevada’s Extraterrestrial Highway. The 100°+ temperatures made it a bit difficult to remember what we discovered, but fortunately the chauffeurs took photos and will post soon. Promise. Sort photos. Write more. Wasn’t that last year’s resolution? Isn’t that every year’s resolution?

Dogs don’t make new years resolutions. They already live as best they can. In the present. Guarding, guiding, illuminating our darkness. All wow, and let’s go! Now, now, now. Yes, yes, yes!

So, follow your star, dog. Shine bright, all dog stars, with spirit and strong heart. And a bark out to all the Pet Blogger Challengers today. Ad Astra, Sparky.