Be Our Guest: Missing a Muse

In Guest, Inspiration
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We’re excited to welcome this month’s “Be Our Guest” blogger Cathy Sly.  Cathy believes that any magical light we can bring into our day is worthy of our gratitude. She does this best with her camera, chasing down light, zooming in and out, and pairing it all with truthful words. She lives in Western Washington with her husband of forty plus years in the home where they raised their three sons. When she is not writing or out taking photos, you are likely to find her covered in flour working on that perfect loaf of sourdough bread or with her hands deep in the soil of her many gardens. She is currently looking for that perfect beagle pup to fill their home with love and joy. You can find her on her blog, Knee Deep in Weeds ( and on Instagram @cathysly.  Please welcome Cathy to ViewFinders!

A few weeks ago I lost my muse when our eleven year old beagle, Basil died very suddenly of spleen cancer. It was twelve hours of tests, fear, coming to terms with what was, what had to be and then doing it. The house and my heart are empty without him, and while that is to be expected, what surprises me more is that I am really having a hard time picking up my camera.

Basil had been with me from the beginning of this curative photo journey. He came into my life when I was in need of some extra love, joy and healing. He was there when I wrote my very first blog post (scary and yet invigorating). He accompanied me as I set out to do my first 365 project in 2013; a daily practice which cultivated itself into daily mindfulness and gratitude. I kept  that practice up until the day of his death. Our daily walks, long and short were an important part of my day. He smelled his way along our chosen path, while I documented the world around us. We were a team.

Today I am struggling to find my pace without him. And to be honest, I have yet to walk the familiar trails we walked so often together. The practice seems hollow and empty, so for now I have let it go.

Over the past week or so, I have begun to see that daily practice in a different light. I find I miss the routine and anticipation of uploading my camera card at the end of each day. I also miss recapping my day in some manner. Discovering beauty and gratitude in my ordinary yet magical life, and documenting it in some manner, became much more to me than walking the dog. I have been thinking of how this might look for me now, how I might go about it, without my muse.

Over the years Basil helped me hone in on my photo style. He helped me discover what fills my creative heart with joy, and he allowed me to take time to develop my skills. He was always up for exploring with his nose, while I worked on getting just the right shot. He was patient, letting me do my own thing, yet always willing to pose. He was the gift I did not know I needed.

For now I am back picking up my camera each day, even when it seems fruitless. I am working on engaging with the world around me while tossing some ideas around in my head of how I might best document my days.

I am also looking for a new puppy.

Do you want to Be Our Guest?  Leave us a comment below with a link to your blog, Instagram account, or other place you post your images.  You can also add a hashtag to your IG images: #viewfindersio_beourguest.

See you soon.

xo lucy


  1. Oh, Basil.
    Much love to you, Cathy, as you continue snapping your beautiful, light-filled photos. Basil will be with you every step of the way. xo

  2. Cathy,

    I’ve been thinking of you a lot lately after reading your post about losing “our” pup (because he did become all of ours through your words about him). I’ve missed your daily entries and am happy to read that you’ve mulling over ideas about starting fresh again. You’ve written beautiful words here today.

    And I can’t wait to meet your new puppy when you finally settle on one! : )

  3. Your story gives me the bittersweet feeling I’ve come to embrace – when we deeply love something and yet know it is not truly ours. I feel this way about art and the creative life. We are given the means to express our nature, our heart, our hopes, and our fears and yet all of this is tenuous and transient, not to be taken lightly. We miss Basil, because as Katie has said, we considered him ours, too. And we are grateful for all he gave to you – and to us. And most of all, I see how loving him helped you in your journey to see with eyes wide open. Keep on. Taking Pictures. Writing.

  4. Oh Cathy, as Katie and Donna mention above, I have missed Basil’s sweet face and your lovely photographs. This is a beautiful tribute to him. He was indeed a faithful companion and inspirational muse. I hope you find your puppy soon! xx

  5. This touched my heart. We have had several cats over the years. Currently we have two. Hamish is getting old. I worry about the inevitable time when we have to let him go. Lucy is only 3 and feisty as can be. Two years ago my beloved little white cat, Kinsey, who I had brought home when she was only 2 months old and weighed barely 2 lbs, came down the stairs dragging her legs behind her. She got around fast for about 3 days, then went downhill. I spent her last day with her next to me, helping her go on a peepad. She couldn’t move. I gave her water, but she didn’t want to eat. To this day, the thought makes me cry. We also had to let our big boy, Spenser, go at 5 years old when he developed lung cancer, as well as our cat, Mary Mac, and dog, Cressie. It’s never easy. I’m glad you are looking at puppies. Also glad you gave yourself time to mourn.

  6. “The gift I did not know I needed”. This. I am so sorry you have lost your buddy and your muse, Cathy. Your love for him shines out of every photo.

  7. Oh, Cathy.
    My heart still hurts when I think about Basil being gone from your daily life. Your post is a beautiful walk down memory lane and an eloquent tribute to a woman’s best friend. Sending love to you and Gary.
    xoxo Deb

  8. Cathy, I got chills reading this and I’ll admit a few tears fell, too. This is the stuff of life – life and death, joy and sadness, the juxtapositions that allow us to live our lives more fully… Thank you for writing this – for helping the reader understand the process of grief, the way small moments and even memories can continue to be cherished, for living your life the way you do. xoxo

  9. I too, miss you so much, Sweet Boy, but I know that you’re in a better place now.
    I am so glad you are looking for a new puppy, Cathy.

  10. What a sweet pup and a truthful, heartfelt, and beautiful tribute to Basil

  11. oh my gosh, I feel this so hard. I have a 13 year old pup whom I could have written this exact thing about. I can’t bear the idea of losing her. Hugs to you. <3

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