Portrait of Medusa Clip Art

Portrait of Medusa Clip Art

The dreadful Medusa, from a 19th century engraving, to use as clip art when you need a little fantasy/myth in your next project.

Medusa Clip Art

Click on the image for the larger Medusa clip art image.

I’ve always been fond of Medusa, she is a powerful totem when summoning the spirit of “keep the heck away from me.” When I researched her for this post, I was reminded again how powerful a symbol she actually is.  In the Wikipedia entry on Medusa, I was surprised to find her being described as symbolic of nihilism.

Medusa has sometimes appeared as representing notions of scientific determinism and nihilism, especially in contrast with romantic idealism. In this interpretation of Medusa, attempts to avoid looking into her eyes represent avoiding the ostensibly depressing reality that the universe is meaningless.

I struggle on a daily basis against this reality.


On the Loss of Miss Pansy

Lost in Thought.

Miss Pansy, my dear pug friend and companion of nearly 14 years, crossed the rainbow bridge on December 16, 2012. I have created a vintage pug image archive in her memory here.  What follows below are my thoughts on the loss of the best dog a girl could have.

It’s a cold afternoon. I’m at the front door, juggling bags, fumbling for my keys. I all but drop the groceries on the floor as I enter the living room…but something isn’t right.

Miss Pansy is not asleep in her bed, nestled in with the wreckage that was her favorite Sponge Bob Squarepants toy. Nor is she standing (in recent months, quite wobbly) by the front door.


Another gloomy day and lonely evening without my best friend.

I lost my dear friend and constant companion to cancer on December 16th, 2012, just a few weeks shy of her 14th birthday.

Bald? No worries! Fighting the chemo blues with a lavender wig and a brand new pug! Little Miss Pansy Saves the Day!

Miss Pansy entered my life while I was undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer. Apathetic and a bit depressed, the notion struck me that perhaps a pug, with it’s jolly face and joie de vivre, would be just the tonic to raise my spirits. Who can have a bad day when the first thing you see upon waking is the winsome grin of a pug?

Being fairly ill and not having the means to travel extensively, my search was limited. I wasn’t able to travel to meet breeders in person or visit shelters. But I did find an honest breeder representative where I came to find Pansy. She was sharing a large open floor pen with a small pack of chihuahuas–little aliens all. Her sleepy eyes rose to meet mine, and I was instantly smitten with the pug bug!

I walked out of the store that day having been sold the whole bill of goods. Books, bowls, food, and looking back, a ridiculously over-sized crate. Contemplating names during our ride home, my first choice was Daisy, which did not meet my mother’s approval as that was her grandmother’s name. I settled on Pansy, which really was much more appropriate, given her small petal ears and pansy flower mask.

Pansy as a Puppy, with Bone

On retiring that first night together, she was placed in her crate and I went off to bed. She began to whimper, such a sad sound! Within four minutes of her being placed in the crate she was in my bed. So much for crate training! From that night on, Pansy slept with me.

Raising Pansy helped me during what was an especially low point in my life. She gave my family something else to think about and care for other than me, and I’d like to think that she helped my young son focus on something positive instead of my being sick. We watched her grow from a wobbly little top heavy sprite into a sturdy self-assured pug with a perfect tail. I often told her that she was a perfect meal. Buttercup ears, pork chop legs, and a danish for a tail. You could elicit a charming head tilt by uttering the three magic words: “walk cheese carrot”. In time she would lose her hearing, but in the early days she could hear a carrot drop a mile away, and the evening chirping of the cardinals outside our house would send her into a barking frenzy.

For a time I worked from home, and Pansy was always right behind me on my chair. She would take up pretty much the entire chair, leaving me with but a sliver. More than once I fell out of the seat. If I really had a lot of work to do, I would just bring in one of the kitchen chairs and let her have the comfy office chair.

Nothing but the best for Miss Pansy!

Pansy Enjoying a Warm Autumn Day.

Pansy never cared to socialize with other dogs, but she wasn’t without animal friends.

Friends in the Sun

One sunny afternoon, while Pansy and I were sunbathing in our driveway, a dapper tuxedo cat sauntered up out of nowhere and rested directly beside her. The stray cat was friendly and took an immediate liking to Miss Pansy. To this day I’m not sure if Mr. Tips (as he was soon named) understood that Pansy was a dog, not a cat. After Tips was formally adopted by us, Tips would cuddle up to Pansy whenever he was cold or just wanted soft ears to lick.

Who am I to disapprove? And so Pansy ended up with her own pet cat.

Yin and Yang, or, Cold Weather Makes for Strange Bedfellows. Miss Pansy and Mr. Tips.

Mr. Tips, like the rest of us, knows that something doesn’t feel right. They say that cats can tell when someone is ill, and it seemed to me that the weeks up until Pansy’s death, that Tips stayed a little closer. Now that Pansy is gone, Tips has a curious searching look about him, and you can sense that his feline brain is struggling to comprehend the change in our family dynamic. Our evenings were officially ended and the day declared complete by the scooping up of Pansy and calling Tips and Eugene (our most recent resident, for I am a sucker for cats) to bed.

Bouncing a red beach ball on her head, running around the yard like a maniac, and ripping the legs off of more than one Sponge Bob Squarepants doll; her weird fascination with a rubber chicken doll, dubbed “lick-a-chick” for her obsessive habit of licking it; enduring Mr. Tips sometimes inappropriate advances (really, what was with the ear thing?)…these are some of my fond memories of Miss Pansy.

Hallow Pug

Pansy enjoyed the attention she received from the neighborhood children at Halloween.

Pansy had been blind for a few years, and adapting well to her disability, she never lost her keen sense of fun. She invented a personal game of Hide-and-Seek; she would drop a piece of kibble, “lose” it, and then go off looking for it. When she found it, she would either bark at it, or claw at the rug to get at it, before devouring it with relish, after which she would start all over again with another piece of kibble. She would also leave treats all over the house, which I suspect may have been her way of leaving markers–bread crumbs, if you will–so that she could find her way around the house.

Keeping Watch. Mr. Tips and Eugene keeping close to Miss Pansy.

Pansy was such a tough little dog that I barely noticed that she had grown “old”. She began to decline over Thanksgiving weekend. As anyone with a pug knows, a pug that doesn’t eat is a sick pug; she turned her nose up at her favorite foods, became lethargic, and appeared to have aged a decade in a day. In September, she had excellent blood work prior to having her teeth cleaned and a few skin tags removed; not a cosmetic surgery by any means, one of the skin tags didn’t look right; it had gotten larger than the rest and seemed to have been irritated.

That large skin tag was, in fact, a tumor that was cancerous.

At her age and with money always being an issue, the best I could do was keep her comfortable and watch for any signs that she was suffering. That my companion throughout my own treatment for cancer could now have the same affliction boggled my mind and must certainly be right up there with the greatest ironies of all time.

Pansy Loved Pizza!

With the appetite failing, Pansy returned to the Vet, new blood work suggesting a fast moving cancer.  A subsequent ultrasound revealed a tumor on one of her adrenal glands, possibly indicative of Cushing’s disease.

Pansy was given medicine to help with her sour stomach, the probable cause of food aversion issues. Each meal in those final days was prepared by me, fed to her by hand; each had to be novel; food she enjoyed one day was hated the next. It was suggested by a coworker that perhaps Pansy had a bucket list, and maybe she did; the last little morsel of food that she ate with any degree of gusto was a bit of pizza, which had always been her favorite forbidden treat.

On December 13, 2012. Still hanging in there, on the office chair we shared.

We all had hoped that Pansy would be with us for one last Christmas; a wish not granted. On the evening of Sunday, December 16th, she took a turn for the worse and I had to make that most difficult of decisions. Pansy departed peacefully and with dignity, and some measure of relief as she was so utterly tired. And just that quickly nearly 14 years have passed away in a moment; the running, playful puppy; the comical girl who would do anything for a bit of cheese; the sounding board for my rants…she will be missed beyond measure.

In time, I will seek a new companion. Not a replacement, for there will only be one Miss Pansy. I’ve looked around the web and have discovered so many rescue groups that my next friend will be one in need, perhaps a mature girl who needs a helping hand. In time.


Rest in Peace, Pansy and Gretchen

2012 was a bad year for our animal companions. We lost Gretchen on March 10th. I’m not sure that Pansy was ever aware of Gretchen, she had been blind for a few years when I brought Gretchen home after finding her hungry and homeless in West Philadelphia. Pansy would often walk right over the sleeping Gretchen, and Gretchen, being a sweet soul, would ignore the insult and just wander off in search of a less traveled spot.

As a way to work through the pain of losing two great furry friends this year, I created a memorial tree in their honor. It doesn’t brighten up the room as much as their presence, but it has helped.

Pansy and Gretchen Memorial Tree

Pansy and Gretchen Memorial Tree

The ornaments were made using spare dollhouse windows, gold spray paint, and press on plastic jewels to frame photo prints made using an inexpensive color printer (Canon Pixma iP2702, under $30 at my local K-mart).

A Batch of Ornaments, Ready to Hang

Thank you for visiting this memorial. Why not stop by Miss Pansy’s Vintage Pug Image Archive and help yourself to some great free pug clip art?


Victorian Philadelphia Cemetery Monuments

Victorian Philadelphia Cemetery Monuments

Small, weathered monument, Mount Vernon Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA. 1997

I stumbled upon an old CD backup from 1997 containing scans I made from physical photographic prints of a visit to Laurel Hill Cemetery and Mount Vernon Cemetery, both right across the street from each other in Philadelphia, PA. Considering that the scanner I used has long since been consigned to the trash heap, I’ve been reflecting on the ephemeral nature of technology…as well as kicking myself for only scanning these in at 300 pixels per inch.


Nothing to be done but than round up my friends and make a return trip. Visit the Laurel Hill Cemetery website for events and tour information. Last time I visited, the area was a bit on the rough side, but it may be a bit safer now. Even so, it’s always best to visit cemeteries with a friend or two.

Egyptian Revival Cemetery Monument with Sphinx

Detail from a larger Egyptian Revival monument. Mount Vernon Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA, 1997.

Egyptian Revival Sphynx

Another view of the Egyptian Revival monument.

Camel from an Egyptian Revival Monument

A detail from the same Egyptian Revival monument as above.

Cemetery Monument Angel Dropping Flowers

Large angel monument, Mount Vernon Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA. 1997

Angel Holding Lily in Graveyard

Detail of an angel holding a lily. Mount Vernon Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA, 1997.

More soon!