Gone to the Dogs

I have a new artistic obsession: drawing pictures of dogs. I use a Sharpie in my sketchbook and/or a stylus on the computer.

Cookie with her ball
Cookie with her ball

It’s wonderful sitting quietly and closely observing my dogs York (black Lab), Savane (Spaniel mix), and Cookie (Chi-Spaniel) so I can draw them on the spot in my sketchbook.

York, the friendly Lab
York, the friendly Lab

I did notice I have a lot of sketches of sleeping dogs–snoozing appears to be my dogs’ main activity besides barking.

Savane resting on rug
Savane resting on rug

My dogs are always waiting to bark at something. Are you familiar with that John Yamus poem “my dogs” where he describes his dogs “when they’re not / barking, / they’re sitting there / waiting for something / to bark at”? Those are my dogs to a T.


I’m lucky my dogs sleep most of the time instead of barking. Although they know when it’s five o’clock, dinner time, they’re pretty oblivious the rest of the time….

Cookie, our princess, yawning
Cookie, our princess, yawning





The “Gecko Art” Reception & After

My husband and I are greeted with gourmet ale and gorgeous artworks on the walls as we enter the gallery in Hidden Springs Aleworks on North Franklin Street in Tampa for the reception on Saturday night (9-23-17) for my “Gecko Art” and other art curated by the artists I’m hooked up with, Funky As A Monkey Studios.

This is an art gallery within an ale hall. Tim Gibbons and Jayne Lisbeth of Funky As A Monkey picked  a “kewl” place for the opening reception of the exhibit “ARTISTS STORIES ON CANVAS AND IN WORDS.”

Behind the bar, two young men are busy drawing beers for people here for the art reception as well as unrelated customers; the place is packed. The walls are covered with paintings and mixed media artworks. The art is of good quality, things I wouldn’t mind hanging in my home.

I have five pieces of my “Gecko Art” photos in this gallery showing. My tropically-colored works framed in black are on the front wall under five silver sculptured and decorated torso art done by artist Eileen  Goldenberg. The combination works.

We join our four friends from Polk State College who’ve come from Lakeland for the opening. We appreciate their support! We explore, discovering that the art gallery also covers the walls of the adjacent hallway.

(If you’re interested in more information about my photo art, go to the Menu at the top of this page and click on My Photos.”)

In the days and weeks after the reception, my enthusiasm for photography and for geckos is revitalized.

I love to come home from work in the afternoon and admire and photo “my” geckos lolling in the sun. They’re such gentle, shy, harmless creatures. Their tails are longer than their bodies. They come in different colors, from almost white to olive green to almost black. They’re more graceful than gymnasts.

I don’t want to tame these wild geckos. Or feed them. Or pet them. Or put them in a terrarium. I want take their photos because they’re beautiful, but not disturb their lives.

Our three dogs don’t hunt geckos like I know some dogs do. York (our pure-bred black Lab, age 8), Savane (our senior citizen Spaniel mix, age 14), and Cookie (our Chi-Spaniel rescue dog, age 2), don’t chase or bother geckos in any way. Good dogs!

Three times recently a gecko has been hiding in the house and has jumped out at me. A dark gecko hopped on my bedside table. I grabbed a tissue out of a nearby box. It froze. I gently grabbed it by the tissue, closed it loosely in my fist, and quickly let it go outside the front door. It scampered off on the porch.

I did the same with gecko #2, which appeared in our second bedroom near a ficus tree. This #2 gecko was almost albino white. I wondered if it had been in the house since the hurricane, almost two weeks. Poor thing.

A third gecko jumped out at me when I was sweeping the floor in the corner of the living room. I didn’t catch it the first time. It hid in the sofa cushions. But an hour later when I was still cleaning, I got it and set it free on the porch unharmed.

Did I mention that for the hurricane, we brought all our porch plants inside the house? That included three tall ficus trees and a monster fern. The geckos must’ve been in the plants. I hope these three geckos are all of them!

One thing my husband said about geckos struck home: “The geckos’ natural enemy is snakes. We have so many geckos, we can’t have a lot of snakes.” And it’s true. Although we live in a semi-rural area, I haven’t seen a snake in quite some time. Let’s keep it that way!







Welcome to my website! It’s to make it easier for people to contact me. I’m a writer and a visual artist. I think people still want to know they are dealing with a person behind the website. I aim to give people that assurance. I want to treat everyone with respect. Some of my best friendships have been made or solidified over the internet. Look for my blogs periodically to be updated on my latest poems, articles, reviews, and photos. To my writing friends, write on! And to my photography friends, print on!

This is the post excerpt.



“Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot?”–Late December 2017

Cookie says, “‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.'”

Update on my dogs:

After the savage pit bull attack last month (see the previous blog), my dogs York (black Lab, 8), Savane (Spaniel mix), and Cookie (2, Chi-Spaniel) were injured and had stitches and drains. Now they have managed to recover: their stitches are out, and they’ve returned to their normal activities–looking for food, barking, sleeping.

Waiting for treats-1
waiting for a treat

Clarification re: Cats

I love cats as much as I love dogs. Our cute, furry, loving cat Luckie died two months ago from old age–he was 17. I haven’t “replaced” Luckie with another cat (Well, Luckie can’t be replaced, of course). But we have three dogs. That’s enough, I figure.

Quickstraw, my neighbor’s cat

Interviews: In October 2017, I was interviewed by Arya-francesca Jenkins for a WritersnReaders feature. If you want to know more details about me, this article is a good resource. http://writersnreadersii.blogspot.com/2017/10/

On January 13, 2018, I am featured on in a podcast interview with Marcia Epstein, who has a show called Talk With ME, “at the intersection of art and mental illness.” http://lawrencehits.com/wp/blog/podcast/mish-eileen-murphy-writer-visualartist-professor/

Update on my writing: Recently I’ve had awards, poems, book reviews, and magazine articles published. Here’s a list of some of them:


  • My book review in Cultural Weekly of John Yamrus and Janne Karlsson’s illustrated poetry book As Real As Rain was placed in the Top Ten articles for 2017 per Cultural Weekly. In fact, it was #4.  https://www.culturalweekly.com/cultural-weeklys-top-10-2017/
  • The John Yamrus book review involved in Cultural Weekly’s Award is found at this link:                                                                      https://www.culturalweekly.com/book-review-real-rain-john-yamrus/
  • I also just did an interview with John Yamrus for Cultural Weekly (January 2018). In it, he discusses some old family photos that are involved in his writing Memory Lane, his highly-acclaimed memoirs.   https://www.culturalweekly.com/join-john-yamrus-on-memory-lane/
  • My poetry book The Knife Tree was a runner-up (in the top ten) of the prize-winning books at Michigan State University’s Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize contest for 2016 (announced 2017).
Dog in Bow Tie #1
dog in bow tie

Visual Art

    • In 2017, Thirteen Myna Birds published my visual art entitled “Magic Hand.”
    • The magazine Tifiret Journal published my artwork “Lilies of the Field.”
    • In April 2017, my work was exhibited in Jemez Gallery, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
    • Since September 2017, I have been associated with Funky As A Monkey Art Studio in Tampa, Florida, and have participated in three gallery shows in Tampa/St. Petersburg since then.
    • I have also taken art lessons from Tim Gibbons of Funky As A Monkey Art Studio, starting fall 2017.
    • I displayed my art at the “Oneness Event” in Lakeland, October 22, 2017, where I also read some poetry.
    • I made an agreement with poet John Yamrus to illustrate his next book, a book for children of all ages, Phoebe and Ito are dogs. I’m excited about the project. I have taken a lot of photos of dogs and have drawn a lot of dog pictures in anticipation.
    • I did collage art for the inside front pages and back cover of John Yamrus’s new  memoir Memory Lane. It was published December 2017.
    • I’m also doing “dog” art for sale. Here’s one of the “dog art” pictures:
    • background checks-Recovered-17-blog
      purple dog



I am now a staff writer for the Los Angeles-based non-profit magazine Cultural Weekly.  Besides my book review of John Yamrus’s As Real As Rain (discussed above), I published the following articles in Cultural Weekly: 


Dog Fight: Pit Bull Attack!

One Saturday morning two weeks ago, I let my dogs out into our fenced-in front yard. It was still dark. They started barking.  Then, chaos.

A pack of three pit bulls forced their way in through a hole in the fence and immediately attacked. It was horrible. My dogs were York, a 65-pound black Lab, Savane, a 45-pound  senior Spaniel, and Cookie, a 15-pound Chi-Spaniel. These attacking dogs were a muscular 70 pounds each.

One dog chased after tiny Cookie. York, our Alpha dog tried to protect her. He got bitten in the flank for his efforts. Cookie raced into the shelter of the bougainvillea vines, and the pit bull followed.

Bougainvillea are beautiful, but their thorns are a deterrence. Near the roots is a small, cave-like space. Here is where Cookie went to hide. It may have saved her life.

Bougainvillea in bloom
Bougainvillea in bloom

I ran into the bougainvillea after Cookie and the pit bull. I was hitting the pit bull in the eyes and snout with my metal flashlight. I was kicking. The pit bull was trying to shake Cookie by the neck as if killing a cat or squirrel. This went on for an eternity.

Suddenly, Cookie got free. She scampered across the yard and under my car. The pit bull joined the two others who had Savane on his back, still biting Savane, although Savane had surrendered.

I started yelling and kicking. My husband, who’d been asleep, came out and joined me, and the stray pit bulls finally left.

All our three dogs required stitches at the vet’s.  York only had one deep bite. Cookie’s abdomen had a huge gash, but luckily no internal damage. Cookie’s leg was also slashed so deeply, the vet put a wrap around the whole leg. But Savane was injured the worst. He had a ring of bite marks around his neck where normally a collar would go. Cookie and Savane’s wounds required drains.

I blame this incident on bad dog owners. I have nothing against pit bulls: my family member has two pits bull mix dogs who are sweet and non-aggressive. I feel it’s wrong to train your dog to be aggressive and dangerous to other dogs or to people.

I wrote an article for Cultural Weekly about the dog fight. The article has more photos and details. Here’s the link:









My Hurricane Article for Cultural Weekly


Hurricane Irma slammed into Lakeland, Florida, last Sunday night. I heard the wind howl and the rain beat like a drum.

No matter. I am a staff writer for Cultural Weekly magazine, and I had an article to write. I handwrote the article in a spiral notebook, then typed it into Messenger on my phone. The editor took it from there.

Read the article by clicking this link:



Writer on the Storm

The hurricane arrives, and it is  loud. The over-hundred-miles-an-hour wind howls like a freight train.

The hurricane is coming, the hurricane is coming! I live in Central Florida, right smack in Hurricane Irma”s path. When we find out the storm is headed straight for us, we stoc up on flashlights, water, and gasoline.

The winds have picked up by 5 o’clock Sunday when our guests arrive, two young men and their dog, cat, and four kittens. They rent a mobile home, unsafe in a hurricane. Our house is solid concrete block.

The hurricane arrives, and it is  loud. The over-hundred-miles-an-hour wind howls like a freight train. The electric power surges periodically. We hold our breaths, expecting the electricity to go out. It finally does at 1:30 a.m.

Right about then, the eye of the storm arrives.

More on this story later…






Good news!-My poem to be published!

I’m so excited! I found out today my poem “Immaculate Conception” is going to be published by the web-based literary magazine Thirteen Myna Birds. A big round of applause is due Editor Juliet Cook, who has published my work before, which must mean she sees something she likes from time to time. I’m proud to be part of the Myna Bird flock again.