Amidst the sadness, loss, pain, sorrow and anger in this world, there is also so much beauty. Beauty that reminds me we are all part of something much bigger, and more beautiful, and good. I took this photo on a walk with lovely Louie this morning. Stop, take time to see the beauty, and rest in that beauty. Have a great day.
There are so many beautiful Daisies along the path this time of year along the Jubilee trail. I wanted to make this daisy stand out.
The scientific name for the daisy is Bellis perennis. Bellis is Latin for pretty, and perennis for everlasting. Everlasting Pretty!
According to Wikipedia, “the whole head closes at night and opens in the morning. Chaucer called it “eye of the day”. And, “The English Daisy is also considered to be a flower of children and innocence.”
Irregardless, I love this flower, its magical mathematical symmetry, its shining in the sunshine.
I wrote this is in 2000, when we had to put down our beloved Gema. Those who have had to put down beloved pets know our pain. This is in memory of Gema.
Gema’s Gone … Gently.
Copyright by Dan Windisch 080900
August 8, 2000 4 PM or so
Gema knew. Gema was ready. It was us it was so hard on. We will miss her so.
Usually when we took Gema to the Vet her whole body shook with fear. You had to drag her into the door. Gema’s fear eyes looked at us with soul eyes wondering how people she loved could bring her here. When previously we had lifted Gema onto the stainless steel exam table, her whole body shook. When receiving vaccinations she whimpered, trembled. She couldn’t wait to rush out the door.
Today Gema did not shake as we entered the vets office. Gema walked steadily, despite her labored, fast, heavy breathing. Her eyes did not flash fear as we lifted her onto the stainless steel exam table. She panted heavily in the hot afternoon, on that cool table. That, and her distended belly were the only indicators of her failing heart.
She enjoys the cool of the table, my massaging her neck and spine, Mary Joyce petting her, Debbie on the other side petting her. I’m looking at Gema’s face. Gema looks straight ahead, head up, a regal old red golden retriever, eyes focused at a place beyond the walls. Gema has that semi-smile golden retrievers have when they know they are loved. She does not notice our tears. Tears of 40 and 50 year olds are thin, and flow fast. Gema doesn’t notice. She feels only our love.
Dr. Pinckney is an old man. Stooped. Warm heart kept covered… perhaps that is why he had that heart attack so many years ago. Very professional, doesn’t say much.
His vet assistant is new. Her compassion is apparent. This is obviously hard on her. She says so.
Gema continues looking ahead, not shaking, enjoying our touch, feeling our love. Dr. Pinckney turns away from us. He tries not to let us see as he fills a syringe from a vial that says “Poison” in bold letters. I think only I see that.
Dr. Pinckney says “I will need to remove a bit of Gema’s right front leg hair.” With gentle quick scissors clips he removes the hair without even nicking Gema. I am surprised that this stooped, shaky old man has such steady quick hands.
He wipes the injection site with alcohol. I’m shocked, between my tear, with the irony. No worry of future infection here! No need… yet somehow comforting. Habits that are no longer needed are often comforting.
We continue to pet Gema, our eyes filled and flowing with those 10W weight tears, sending her our years of love and thankfulness for all she has meant to us.
Dr. Pinckney puts a rubber tourniquet around Gema’s right front leg, tightens it a bit, inserts the syringe, (Gema doesn’t flinch, continues to look forward), injects the poison, and then releases the tourniquet. For a second or two Gema looks ahead with just the slightest quizzical look, then lowers her head gently to the table, eyes open. Dr. Pinckney puts his hand on her side, says “She’s Gone.” He walks out the door.
I pat Mary Joyce on the back. I wish I could do more for her, but there is this HUGE block of sadness blocking my throat. I can’t talk as the tears roll down my face. I’m mute with grief and sadness. Yet despite how hard it is, I am also glad I am here. Glad I could love Gema and pet Gema and massage Gema at the end. Honor her. Yet it is SO hard. The lump in my throat so huge. The sadness so overwhelming.
Gema’s eyes are open and she looks so relaxed. Debbie asks if we can close her eyes, the vet assistant says they can’t be closed.
I continue to pet Gema, massage her. Mary Joyce says I don’t need to pet her anymore. She’s gone. I say nothing… The lump in my throat blocks my voice. Yet, if I could have talked I would have said that “I think Gema is still a bit here, and I want the last thing she feels to be my hands loving her.” And my the throat gets more constricted, the light weight tears flow faster … I don’t want to let her go.
That night for the first time in a very long time I decide to go gambling. I tell Gema as I drive to the Casino that if I win, I’ll give half of my winnings to Mary Joyce. I play Caribbean Stud, have a string of good hands, then the streak ends. I know it is time to stop, I thank Gema, win $56. The casino has a $15.95 steak and lobster special. I eat alone cherishing the lobster and steak, and between tears no one can see, I raise a glass of ice water in Gema’s honor. Thank you Gema.
August 8th Midnight
Tears stain my clean pillowcase as I thank God for all that GEMA has added to my life.
Favorite memories of Gema
February 1, 1989. I meet this new lady on my 40th birthday via her response to my personal ad. It is snowing that day. Schools are closed, my young niece and nephew, Danika and Robbie, come over to my house. They recognize the photo of this new lady as Ms. O’Brien, a school teacher they know. They say I’ll like her. They are right. I call her that night and bring her some birthday cake. She has this 5 month old golden retriever named Gema, named so because she is a gem. I love petting Gema, especially her ears, they are so warm and soft and can be rubbed between my fingers. I joke about wanting to have them after Gema dies.
Gema, Mary Joyce and I go on our first walk together. In the snow, up Lawrence Street to the University of Puget Sound, through evergreens, past the A frames on campus, and back. it is a magical night, fresh snow makes everything new, white, fresh. Gema wearing her young dog body rushes ahead, smells everything, leaves paw prints in the snow. Life is fresh and new. Many more walks will follow.
Ocean Shores and Newport. Gema is a puppy still. We go crabbing off the docks. Wire cages with salmon head bait thrown into blue waters. Gema excited, sees the ocean for the first time. So much to see! Moving ahead she looks to the right and walks over the left edge of the dock! I have to lean over, with someone holding my legs, to pull her out of the freezing water. That night at the motel she is distracted again and falls into the swimming pool! For the rest of her life Gema is leery of water. And Gema is a water dog! It would take many years before she would walk into the lake on very hot days to cool off. She never swam or went out beyond where her feet touched the bottom.
Summer School. Mary Joyce and I are both teaching classes at Saint Martin’s. A call comes. Gema is starting to have her puppies. MJ and I rush home in separate cars. Gema is in the basement, in the cool. Puppy after puppy comes out. We hold hand size puppies up to her to lick. She hurts, and is exhausted, but does her mother thing. She’s glad we are there. Puppies new to the world with eyes closed snuggle against her, drinking milk in the frantic way new life does.
Later that summer. Puppies grow so fast, so many, Gema is a bit overwhelmed! Most of the puppies are given to family.
I pet Gema, she looks up, and lifts an eyebrow, and looks so deep into my eyes with her sad eyes. I stop for a second. She nudges me with her hand to start again. A pattern develops, every time I stop petting her or massaging her, her tail starts wagging. “More.” “More.”
Gema Loves chasing the tennis ball. Isn’t too smart though! Time after time I pretend to throw it one way, she runs in that direction, sees nothing, turns around, and I throw it in another directions! She is so funny, I can’t help but laugh. She wants to fetch the ball, but doesn’t want to give it up after she brings it back. I have to pry it out of her mouth! Seems very human to me.
Gema is prancing, golden red, ahead of us on our walks in the woods at Dupont. Smelling everything, chasing smells into woods, looking back to make sure we are coming. Reveling in the fragrance of the woods.
Gema licks her leg, won’t stop. Over the years it becomes a gaping wound. “Loneliness” says the vet.
An ugly wart develops on Gema’s nose. We have it removed finally. It never totally heals.
Gema has heart failure, often can’t raise her head. Doesn’t eat for 3 weeks. I often go over and lay beside here, tears flowing, just petting her, reminding her of all the great times we’ve had together. Thanking her. Sometimes for an hour or more. Dr. Pinckney prescribes some heart medicine that might help in a few weeks. We think Gema is going to die. But she gets better! To my joy we walk again in the woods, Gema prancing ahead. Smelling everything in her dog ways. It is sheer joy to see her do that again.
For 6 months she is better. Then begins to degenerate. Slower on the walks, hard to get up, stomach starting to distend with fluids. My final walk with her is August 7th. Gema is walking because she loves us, not because she enjoys the walk. The next day she goes on a walk with MJ and her dad. After she gets back, she falls down, can’t get up, has a terrible time breathing. MJ calls me. We both know it is time. Time to have her put down. I lay next to her on the cool floor once again. Tell her once more, and again, how much I love her, as I pet her. Tears flow, but that’s ok. I stop … her tail starts to wag. I pet her again. We decide to call the vet. Gema goes outside lays on the cool pavement. Then lays on the beauty bark in the garden, smelling the smells as she breathes so hard and fast.
We call her and she gets into the car and we drive to Dr. Pinckney’s.
Thank you Gema for all your love.
One of the most fascinating things we saw on our South American cruise during SMU’s 2016 Christmas break was the demonstration of the making of “Panama” hats, which actually originate in Ecuador. The intricacy and craftsmanship that go into the making of these hats is amazing. I’m pleased to have recorded onto film, and edited with Lightroom, this most beautiful work. Below is information from Wikipedia dated 1/2/17.
“the traditional Ecuadorian toquilla hat was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists on 6 December 2012. In 1904, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the construction site of the Panama Canal, and was photographed wearing a panama hat, which further increased the hats’ popularity. The best quality hats are known as Montecristis, after the town of Montecristi, where they are produced. The Montecristi Foundation has established a grading system based on a figure called the Montecristi Cuenta, calculated by measuring the horizontal and vertical rows of weave per inch. The rarest and most expensive panama hats are hand-woven with up to 3000 weaves per square inch. In February 2014, Simon Espinal, an Ecuadorian 47-year-old panama hat weaver considered to be among the best at his craft, set a world record by creating a panama hat with four thousand weaves per inch that took eight months to handcraft from beginning to end. According to popular lore, a “superfino” panama hat can hold water and, when rolled up, pass through a wedding ring. Although the panama hat continues to provide a livelihood for thousands of Ecuadorians, fewer than a dozen weavers capable of making the finest “Montecristi superfinos” remain. Production in Ecuador is dwindling, due to economic problems in Ecuador and competition from Chinese hat producers.”
I love the Sea, I always have. Since I was a child looking at the Pacific ocean and wondering about Japan so far, far, away.
I loved the sea as a naval officer on the USS Independence watching with awe as the airplane elevator rose and fell during quiet times and major storms. I loved the Sea as a PACE professor on US Navy ships in the Pacific Ocean as I worked on my doctoral dissertation for 3 years. And, in recent years, I’ve loved the sea as a passenger on cruise ships (a bit better accommodations than US navy warships)!
I love the waves as far as you can see, the curve of the earth in the distance. I love feeling so small against vastness of it all, and yet I am comforted, knowing that I am also an important part of it all (perhaps because I, too, am the eyes of God observing his beautiful works with Joy and peace and appreciation and gratitude). I love the changing colors of Sea and Sky at sunset and sunrise.
I love the light bursts on water through the clouds that sparkle that move across the ocean with brightness and contrast.
I love the power of the storm, the quiet rains, the sunsets over water, the smallness of all the ships that pass in the night.
I love it all.
These are some gorgeous art from my camera and lightroom from our Christmas cruise to South America during Christmas break 2016.
This is another stained glass from the Driehaus Gallery of Stained Glass on the Navy Pier in Chicago taken in 1986 with details from the same photograph.
I’ve always loved angels and this is such a wonderful depiction!
I start with the closest view of the angel.
by Dan Windisch 2016
The angels curly hair caresses, and rests quietly, gently, on her shoulders.
She has pensive, unfocused, thoughtful eyes.
Her left arm rests against one railing,
her left hand rests, gently, on another railing.
Her right arm is relaxed, by her side,
with her fingers caressing the tip of one iridescent, shining wing,
fingers that can only feel,
but not see,
the wings iridescent, shining beauty
as she also lifts her gown
from one step,
to yet a higher step.
Yet her foot
One last, gentle touch of the familiar.
Before rising to the next step.
I love the 3 mile walk from my home to the beach and back in the very early morning when rabbits and squirrels are on the trail, and people aren’t. The squish squish sounds of my feet on gravel. The clop clop sound of my feet on the paved part of the path. The greens of the forest, the coolness as I enter the woods. The snags, the sounds of birds, the emptying of my mind and the gratitude I feel. I love the Madrona trees with their red peeling bark, the tall evergreens, the snags, the blackberries, even the new development that is being built next to the quiet forest.
This was once a munitions loading dock area in WWII, a time gone now, covered by trees that don’t remember, and birds that sing, and flowers that open their secret scents in the early morning light.
Click on any photo to see its caption.
If Buddha was sitting in the Hot Tub with you
“latest” version 032415
by Dan Windisch
If Buddha was sitting
in the hot tub
Be still enough…
And being there …
What would you learn,
And, If it was night,
and a billion stars were
and waves were crashing endlessly to the shore,
and the cool breeze caressed your face,
and chatter flowed all around.
Be still enough…
And, just a thought …
Would it be?
Could it be?
WIll it be?
That Buddha is you?
If Buddha was sitting in the Esalen Hot Tub with you
If Buddha was sitting
in the hot tub, with you.
Be still enough…
And being there …
What would you learn
Dan Windisch 2015
Esalen Flowers after Rain
It has been a long time since my last post. 4 eye surgeries (cataract surgery with new lenses for both eyes! Laser surgery for 6 bleeds in my left eye, then emergency retinal detachment surgery that involved 2 weeks for me to regain sight in that eye) make me appreciate my vision even more. Visual beauty is so precious to me.
I am now back at Esalen Institute for a Mindfulness and Loving Kindness Workshop that I plan to teach my students when I get back.
Yesterday it rained. Below are photos of the beautiful flowers here after the rain in early morning light. Hope you enjoy! All photos were taken with my iphone 5 and edited with Lightroom.