Walking on the Beach

Walking on the beach

This drawing was a gift to me, from my daughter Heather, of a gift to me, from Sarrah.



Sarrah also played a key role in one of the best gifts of my lifetime, the reconnection with my teenage daughter Heather, who did not know me.  The sting of realities that came with our separate lives, were a part of every day.  Volumes could be written about all that was missed and about what a person goes through, along life’s way. The quiet moments while walking the many miles with Sarrah enabled my mind to work through the unintentional slow burning process of introspection and reflection.

After a dozen plus years of hoping, waiting… dreaming and the scheming required for mental chess games, I was actually getting a second chance with Heather.  Our recycled beginning was as it should have been, when she was ready.  The next few years of watching her struggle for independence and freedom were hard; in my role I practiced painful patience while she was driven by youthful curiosity.  Like the anti-gravity nature of plants, many things worth having seem to require stubborn struggle, even thrive due to it.

I was attending college at the time and made our relationship the topic of an assignment.  In the pursuit of a little help, I stumbled into something.  At the (heavy handed, over-the-top, borderline irritating) insistence of my writing lab tutor, I entered my paper “What Happens” written for my Writing 101 class, in the Highline Community College Arcturus.  This was the last class required for me to complete my “Twenty year / Two year” AAS degree.  I understand that most people take this class early on in their collegiate pursuits, but I dreaded it enough, to save it for last.  Arcturus is an annual artistic contest for current HCC students to submit photos, drawings and writings, in which the chosen entries are published into a book.  After almost a dozen consecutive years of continuing part-time student status, I had never heard of it.


{From my Writing in Arcturus 2003}

(Written as it was happening… and most importantly, submitted with Heather’s approval)

“It is wonderful, exciting and a bit scary to feel our relationship slowly unfolding as if it were an old weathered document, misplaced all these years waiting to be found.  Perhaps it’ll yield a long lost treasure map, a blueprint for something timeless or maybe just an intricate drawing of a sad face clown.”


As Heather and I carefully, took turns, slowly… unfolding our delicate treasure map, Sarrah as always was constantly by my side, happy to listen to my ramblings and walk me through it.

As I watched them meet for the first time it was obvious that Heather adored Sarrah.  Their initial meeting was when Heather returned to our home after a surprise eighteenth birthday party dinner for her (my first ‘in person’ celebration of her birthday, in sixteen years).  She had only seen pictures of Sarrah, so the occasion was a little anticipated.  Heather had not been to my house since she was a little girl, so Sarrah helped ease any tension from the occasion.  After all, a cute Dalmatian could not hurt my appeal to a teenaged young lady.

Heather was drawn to Sarrah.  She drew two fabulous pieces of artwork in pen and ink, from photographs taken by others; one of Sarrah and me walking on the beach as the sun was setting (taken by Nissa) and the other of Sarrah peaking from behind a bush, magically enhancing these moments… capturing them in their time.  These drawings were gifts to me, from my daughter, of gifts to me, from Sarrah.

Participating in another of Heather’s artistic passions, she also photographed Sarrah, often.  I don’t think you can have too many pictures, especially those taken by people close to the memory.


And… years later Sarrah got to be part of Gracey’s life, from the beginning.  In a twist of tradition, October Fourth in the year of Two Thousand Four, Heather welcomed a daughter of her own, into our world.  My granddaughter was named Gracey Jane; she instantly began further growing and gluing our family together.  Sarrah was enthralled with this little person.  She was amazed and attracted to the baby Gracey.  As time passed and less supervision was required, they formed their own bond and connected on family gatherings.



Sarrah usually even enjoyed the attention from hoards of kids who are in excess when the weather is nice (Kids instantly forget everything they’ve ever been told in regards to “strangers”, let alone running toward me and Sarrah).  Thanks to Sarrah’s typical patience and our many visits to parks, beaches, trails and sidewalks many kids of all ages got to meet a real life “Dalmatian!”   I couldn’t even guess how many hundreds of these people enjoyed their gift of meeting Sarrah.  She was the most popular and often photographed dog, every time.

Salted Air

Sarrah seemed to have an affinity for salted air, in all of its forms: warm and strong, crisp and bright, cold and damp or even the bone soaking kind driven by wind.  She led me to find and appreciate the less popular versions of marine air, which are highly addictive and ultimately better.


I like the Edges, always have

They draw me right up to them

Sometimes… I stumble, and almost go over

A few times I just sat there like a kid, kicking my feet over, swinging them in a rhythm; left, right – left, right – left, right just staring… Out There.

For some reason having an edge in sight is comforting, like Walking beside the Ocean

Safe is there, Gone over there, the Attraction being Right Here.

The Holiday Season

As the year winds down, festivities compress what time remains.  The usual events, rituals and traditions combine to make the last couple of months blur into a final season.  I am grateful that Sarrah was able to be here for ‘The Holiday Season’, one more time.

Sarrah was part of my increasingly favored holiday and our recent annual tradition of gathering at The Beach House for a few days around Thanksgiving joining; us, my parents Esther and Stan, Nissa’s mom Gail, the cats and our beach neighbor friends Mike, Lori and Jessica for another extended weekend of giving Thanks.  We individually gather and stay there for a few days, making the holiday more about being with family and friends than just an over planned annual meal.  It seems the added time in this place allows the traditional stress to dissolve and the true flavor of giving thanks takes over.  Sarrah was part of it all; inhaling all the smells of the cooking feast, scoring human food snacks, walking with her toes in the sand, barking orders at cats, collecting affectionate pats from all and constantly reminded me to be thankful.  This year the quiet moments were a bit heavier and at times a little saddening, but moments like these helped me remember and define others.



Sarrah delighted in all aspects of going to the Peninsula.  She usually sat up and looked out the windows the entire way there, to watch the world as it went on by.  The journey from where we live starts with on average an hour of ‘freeway hell’, racing with the self absorbed rats on the paved necessary ugliness, known as Interstate 5.  Then off onto Highway 101 where it gradually devolves from too much civilization and overpopulation into a sort of peaceful time travel back through the woods and near a few old small towns, too tough to die.  This leg of the journey is packed with many little things that busy people miss or find “boring”.  These things like mountains, forested land, rivers, cattle, wildlife; deer, coyotes, porcupines, elk, eagles, hawks and even bears were all noticed and points of interest mentally noted by my road wise companion.

Familiarity joined us as we learned and remembered the details of the road.  Sarrah began to recognize the Montesano exit, about a third of the way there and would start with howls and growls, eventually twirling in place with delight.  This spot marked the end of four-lane travel and the start of rural highways complete with the lost in time feel; proof and promise of adventure!