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Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Dog At Mortlake Terrace

 Those of you with a grounding in art history are (I hope!) saying YESSSS!

J/M/W Turner's painting, Mortlake Terrace, is one of his signature pieces. It has a quiet, elegaic quality, a celebration of watching the Lord Mayor's barge just ended (note the doll on the chair, and the hoop) on a mild evening...except for The Dog.

Turner always provided a focal point to his paintings, but this time, someone beat him to it. While the painting was a work in progress, a pal of Turner's came into his studio (while the master was out on an errand), saw the lack of a focus, and cut out a playful paper dog, affixing him to the balustrade.

When Turner returned, he nonchalantly made some adjustments to the dog's position, and varnished the mutt into posterity.


Cancer's been a true gift, because it's given me just that, the need to focus on what's important in life. Not a cool leather jacket, or a badass watch, or a muscle car (yes, I was into that)...not the stuff that defined Who I Am...

..but What I Do.

An example...Belle, Assistant Service dog (she looks exactly like a plush German Shepherd toy one minght win at a fun-fair) is awfully slow to have a BM when I walk her. She gets distracted...she's very young...and it generally takes 30-40 minutes to eke a performance out of her. (I should mention that there are a lot of other dogs here who need walking...who do 'perform' more quickly.)

But, what, now, does that matter? Do I have something more important to do?

I won't write the Great American Novel, or do any of the things I once thought were my deserved destiny.

But I can enjoy each minute sharing the world with a growing, eager canine mind. I can enjoy living on this desert mesa, undet the sun and under the stars (and, sometimes, in the falling snow, which does speed Belle up!).

I can focus on the time I have left, and not decry what's been taken.

And I find, though I should not be surprised, that what the Lord has given me is far, far more meaningful (and fun!) than what's been left behind.

The focus of life’s picture,

the thing that draws the eye,

is sharpened by the stricture

that one is marked to die.

No more the languid lazy days

the flowed from dawn to dawn;

they’re past recall, and anyways,

I’m kinda glad they’re gone,

for now I have a purpose clear,

to live each precious hour,

to embrace what I hold dear

and stop to smell each flower.

Each moment saved is one that’s gained

until one’s living cup is drained.

Here's a delightful video on focus and hope...Dire Straits, with Walk Of Life.(Click here if the video oesn't appear on your evice.)

I do try to answer each comment in a timely fashion, but with Internet providers really stretched, I have only about half of the access I once did. Please bear with me!

Thanks to Carol Ashby, Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart is back on Kindle, and will be available in paperback soon.

Friends are everything. I couldn't have done it.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.


  1. Cool story about the dog and a great reminder that we all need a focal point. I choose Jesus.

  2. it's interesting isn't it? How something happens and it changes the perspective of the rest of our life. Cancer has given you a focus you never really expected. Parenting has changed my life forever, making me depend on God all the more.

    1. Annette, good point. I think God fits the 'burden' to shape the back...perhaps?

  3. We are always happy to find you here! Thanks again for another beautiful post. Karen :) (FMF #6)

  4. I did not read this. Today’s prompt for a 5 minute blog is the word vote.

    1. Tess, your statement of 'not reading this' is your privilege, but it does beg the question as to why you chose to comment.

    2. Aw caregivertess, this isnt kind. :( I read this and tomorrow im voting. Im thankful for these posts. They remind me what's important and show me Jesus is working... right through this cancer & Barb & Andrew.

  5. Beautiful post, Andrew, and I love the story about the dog. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Grams, I am so gla you like this...the story has always charmed me. A director of the National Gallery (where 'Mortlake Terrrace' lives) wrote a book about Turner, and in it said that he never allowed the painting to be cleaned, for fear of harming the dog.

  6. (((((Andrew)))))


    Annie in Texas

  7. We all need to change our focus from self to the One who numbers our days! Thank you Andrew!

    1. Cindy, you're so right...thank you for being here!

  8. I really struggle with this issue, Andrew! And I needed your words of wisdom, won through your daily battle with death. I can see how it bring so many important truths to the surface for you. I'm taking to heart this challenge--to not be so consumed with leaving a legacy, while I miss out on the most important moments of simply living, of being present. Maybe I need to get a constipated dog to help in that pursuit! Lol! Great post!

    1. Beth, thank you for this...I am honoured. I, too, was so focused on horizons that I did not see that which was under my nose...until now, and I thank God that it is not too late.

  9. A stunning painting, a fascinating story behind the brush.

  10. Andrew, I've never seen that painting before, and I LOVE the story of how the dog came to be. I also resonated with how you shared the ways cancer has been what's focused your attention and efforts. Living with a clear understanding of our purpose enhances each day, doesn't it?

    I'm praying for you and for Barb, my friend.

  11. I love the painting and the story behind it! I'm grateful that you share your experience and your journey here - I always learn from you and you make me think.

  12. I really liked this post. I didn't leave a comment when I read it, so I will now. The beauty in life for me is the learning and growing. It is also the awareness of life and all its amazing aspects, like nature, philosophy, interactions, intricacies, relationships, spiritualness and so much more. When we slow down, for whatever reason, it is then that life's vibrancy and meaning impresses our spirit. Maybe there's a bit of the mystic in all of us when given over to the muse. That painting brings out the muse in its viewers. Have a blessed day.