Tommy Jefferson, Most Excellent Cat, R.I.P.



Gone from our lives this week

August 2000 ~ September 2014

The Golden Cat on SilkThis is Tommy very new to my life, the early years, cozied into an orange and gold silk robe.  He always seemed the Golden Cat to me. Symetrical beautiful plush he was, especially his throaty thick ruff that rolled out over his tucked under paws. Tommy had a poster with his face and statistics up on the Post Office Wall in Carmel Valley. (about 5 yrs old, 21 lb. biggie, very healthy, golden eyed and beautiful. It took me some wavering but I said yes. Then I had to prove my worth.

Tommy and I moved from Carmel Valley’s Lower Circle near the River, moved to Big Sur Tommy on the Bedand Sycamore Canyon
& Pfeiffer Beach. He met his first Vietnamese Pig, Labrador, Pug, Whippet, Rocknroll musicians, Rottweiller, Bull Frogs, seagulls, Great King Heron, Trout, and ocean. On Clear Ridge he chased everything that moved including I’m pretty sure one day a FOX. And he had his own garden. In Big Sur had a massive house and gallery and woods to explore, then we opened a gallery in Mid-Valley, and he had a meadow too. Thomas J. patioTommy never much showed any signs of illness, nor complained but about a week ago stopped eating. Bob, and Bob, and Valerie and Mike, and so many of Tommy’s friends stopped in to help out making easy swing shifts. But we lost the battle two days ago.  What a cat.  I’ll miss him forever.Cat Who Loved Flowers, best, detail, TJ, galleryThomas Jefferson Really Loved His Garden.


Lest we forget ~~  THE RESCUE DOGS of 9-11 Border Collie ~  “Cowboy” ~ 9-11, NYC  Debra Tosch and her search-and-rescue partner, Abby, searching at the World Trade Center disaster site.

A rescue dog is transported out of the debris of the World Trade Center, September 15, 2001.  (REUTERS/HO/U.S. Navy Photo by Journalist 1st Class Preston Keres)

  I got to meet Erick and Porkchop when I lived in Yosemite in 20002-3.

“The last surviving 9/11 Search & Rescue Dog has died. Porkchop was only one year old when he heroically aided the search at Ground Zero. After the World Trade Center attacks, 13 Search Dog Foundation teams were deployed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help search for survivors. These teams offered hope in a world that felt somber and hopeless.  Over the intervening dozen years, the dogs have passed away from old age.  Porkchop was the last.”

RIP Splendid hero, all the heroes, the dear departed innocent Americans.

Joan Rivers, American Comedian. Enter Laughing. Keep Em Laughing. Exit.

JOAN RIVERS.    American Comedian.

I didn’t know her but there she was, the burgeoning 50’s comic rubbing funny bones with Lucille Ball and Ethel Mertz, Phyllis Diller, Bob Hope and the boys, there she was my whole life. Full of shtick and noise and Brooklyn, risking every bit as much as Lenny Bruce.

This might be the summer the laughter died. We lost Robin Williams, now Joan, polar opposites ~~ buzz saw wits. Years back, Joan made a cottage industry of ridiculing Elizabeth Taylor when Taylor became a Virginia Senator’s wife, bored to tears and gained a ton.  One Rivers’ joke was something about going to Sea World with Taylor, and they’re in the front row and Shabu the Whale does a leap.  Taylor, says Rivers, couldn’t take her eyes off the whale and leaning over, whispers to Rivers, “Does that come with fries?”   I can’t help it,  I still think it’s hilarious. (And I love Taylor, miss her & all her  excess).

The deadening damp of political correctness and the draconian, stupid Washington, DC have outlawed comedy and satire and fun, and miracles. I don’t see any fearless, critical observers of life in our midst replacing her.  And boy, that’s one reason alone to miss that gutsy broad.

Peggy Noonan, who did know Joan Rivers, wrote a sterling tribute to her today on her WSJ blog.  >>>(Noonan Tribute to Rivers, here)<<<   Worth a read.

Goodbye and hasta la vista, baby. In her last book Rivers said for her funeral she wanted hoopla, Hollywood fanfare, and a windblower so her hair would look like Beyonce’s.

Joan, Can we talk?   Ghost up the Senate, straighten out the middle east, save Israel, finish off ISIS, and tell Melissa to carry on.  We’ll see it.  We’ll know it’s you.

SPARHAWK ART on LABOR DAY ~ the painter celebrates joys of labor all the damn time

Levitating Bather, sharpHAPPY LABOR DAY WEEKEND

         OH the rapture and joy of the 21st Century! 

We may be back on 60 hour weeks, either never having left if you’ve got your own business or nose to someone else’s grindstone so we can still afford the butter for our toast, even if we can’t cover the electric bill there’s hopefully a wood stove. And 4 and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie is starting to look good (it has a happy ending, they fly off but there’s still the crust).

           SO….in celebration of a rotten economy and acknowledging I feel your pain and hope you might briefly consider my own, I can help!  YOU NEED ART!!  I HAVE FABULOUS ART!!   Night, Outside Inside, Detail 2and many other lovely things for hearth and home and garden, Dior Jackets, Carole Little Jackets, Indoor/Outdoor iron screen with ELEPHANTS & PALM TREES, Hand Painted Signs, Pen and Ink Drawings, old chairs, Books, Cards, Uggs (1 pair, tan, gently worn, size 8, discounted @ $50), painted stuff, seashells…..COME TO THE HAWKS PERCH FOR A HOLIDAY DISCOUNT!!  (Mid-Valley, Carmel Valley Road 5 miles east from Carmel, Robinson Canyon Road turnoff at THE HISTORIC FARM CENTER!!)


my splendid Australian site for Sparhawk Merchandise  >>>REDBUBBLE<<<

is having a 15% off EVERYTHING SALE THIS   WEEKEND ONLY!  Outside~Inside. Day and Night. Detail II by Barbara Sparhawk  You can now get beautiful, original, one of a kind Sparhawk Paintings (Florals, Animals, Billboards, Portraits)  on T SHIRTS (even Racer-Backs), Outside~Inside. Day and Night. Detail II by Barbara Sparhawk  HOODIES, SWEATSHIRTS. TOTE BAGS, THROW PILLOWS, I-PHONE COVERS, PRINTS, CARDS,   ALL 15% OFF THIS WEEKEND ONLY !!!

                    Lots of NEW items !!!!!


AND anyone coming into the gallery who reads this on my blog gets a 15% discount from me too!! On everything in the shop!!  Outside~Inside. Day and Night. Detail I. by Barbara Sparhawk   Second Detail, Garden Gone Wild II by Barbara Sparhawk


Hope I make your day.  Come for a visit, say hello, have a look around, bring the family, and bring something GORGEOUS home to cheer your life! 


                  Can’t wait to see you…… 



                              OPEN THISHeron-Otter on Wind, Night Sky, Pfeiffer Beach



MONGOLIAN PONY EXPRESS RACE ~ The Fabulous Stuff of Adventuring

(photos by Charles Van Wyck, The Adventurists. Blue text in quotes from National Geographic , August 6, 2014, by Ashleigh N. DeLuca)

A photo of five riders on horseback finishing the Mongol Derby in 2010.BE STILL MY HEART………….Hello Genghis Khan, Mongolia’s Wild Horses, Centuries Old Postal Run, and a test to the body and spirit of 21st Century Riders.  On a wing and a hoof and a prayer, $14,000 entry fee, you too (if you pass muster)  can sign on……………

A photo of three riders on the Mongol Derby stopping for water with their horses.

In 2009, a UK group called The Adventurists brought back, to life and contest, the pony express run of 600 miles that Genghis Khan began in the 1200’s.  “At the postal route’s zenith, a letter could cross from Kharkhorin in the east to the Caspian Sea on the far western edge of the empire, a distance of some 4,225 miles (6,800 kilometers), in two weeks (an average of about 300 miles, or 480 kilometers, a day.”

The Soviets, in efforts to erase Genghis Khan from history and memory, stopped the mail carriers in 1949.   “Further complicating the challenge, the widely varied Mongolian landscape is difficult to prepare for: high passes, wooded hills, river crossings, wetlands and floodplains, sandy semiarid dunes, rolling hills, and dry riverbeds, as well as the famous wide-open grasslands. Of course, all of this terrain is navigated while adjusting to the erratic temperaments of a new semi-wild horse every 25 miles.” A photo of a line of horses awaiting incoming riders during the Mongol Derby.

“But more riders are signing up every year. Last year, A photo of Lara Prior racing in the Mongol Derby in 2013.  (photo, Richard Dunwoody, the Adventurists)

Prior-Palmer (pictured above), a 19-year-old British rider, won the race in seven days, making her the first female rider to win the Mongol Derby. This year’s field includes riders from 16 countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Australia, the U.S., the U.K., Iceland, China, and Ireland.”

Rose Sandler, a 32-year-old biochemical engineer from Pipersville, Virginia, has been preparing for the past four months. She was a last-minute addition to the competition when a place opened up unexpectedly. “I’ve been told that it breaks you down to the basics of human existence,” she says.”

30 horses are used along the trail by each one of the 40 plus riders who sign up.  This year over a thousand horses were made ready. They are stationed along the trails with Mongol herders, to whom horses are a profound cultural presence. They are well-paid for their skills during the races. 

     “High Asia is where horses were first saddled and tamed and ridden, so it’s one of the oldest equestrian cultures, and they really admire and respect the horse in a kind of spiritual way,” Willings explains.  “Every ger, the herders’ portable yurt-like homes, has ropes made from the tail hairs of its owner’s favorite horses, and the countryside is littered with rock cairns called ovoos where herders have placed tails or skulls of particularly beloved horses.”

“Herders write songs for their horses and serenade them as they watch over them or when they are milking their mares. The national drink of Mongolia is fermented mare’s milk, also known as airag. Besides riding for the title of the 2014 winner of the Mongol Derby, the winner also gets the honor of drinking the first bowl of airag.”

A photo of a woman caring for a horse during a break on the Mongol Derby. (photo credit, Quentin Moreau, in National Geographic)

“….the riders are weighed wearing their riding clothes, an empty pack, and an empty water container, while holding their Mongolian saddle and bridle; in total they cannot weigh more than 187 pounds (85 kilograms). They are allowed an additional 11 pounds (5 kilograms) in their packs after being weighed.”

The horses remain part wild, newly caught, tamed barely enough to be ridden if you’re strong of limb and heart.  Riders are thrown often, riders break bone and rip flesh, some sustain punctured lungs, broken pelvises, torn ligaments. 

This year’s winner, Sam (Samantha) Jones, Australian who’s been riding since childhood.


“I got lost several times, I was quite good at that but I always found my way back. I never got  really sick, there were times I thought i might vomit, & there were times I thought i might poop my pants, but that’s what you get when you do something as extreme as this, but I never got really sick. I had my share of aches and pains but my body got better and better as i went along & I adapted and yeah, I could happily keep riding. Give me another horse and I’ll go.”

“The 40 year old mining operator chose to ride alone for most of the race. She took the gamble of camping out past HS26 yesterday evening, with only 45 minutes riding time left in the day; despite the knowledge that bad weather was forecast and a lost horse would certainly cost her the race. It was bold decisions that earned her victory as much as speedy riding and good navigation skills.” (From The Adventurists)

(click here for the full National Geographic Article)

This is quite some bunch!    READ MORE ABOUT “THE ADVENTURISTS”  click>>>HERE<<<<,

Gypsies of Coney Island ~ the Mood Seers.


Angel Snake GirlMy chiefest Coney Island thrill was the characters around every corner, off any curb, or smack in front of you demanding explanations,  spare change,  a kiss, or a shot at their gaming booths for 2 bits.  I flesh them out in my novel NOISE….Satellite Bob, the loony tunes ice cream thrower. Oklahoma Mary and Just Plain Mary at the ticket booths. Louisa running the carousel weepy redeyed at the chance her husband wasn’t coming back (a mafia hit-man, she never knew). Jazz and his Penny Arcade, his dreams of Circus Circus Vegas. Nelson who did stand up ballet on speeding Go Karts steering with his knees at 25 mph. People at the end of their rope who didn’t know it, or did too keenly and wore a dangerous edge.  Bums and heroes, the shifty and hallucinating, hard workers at the start of something big, romance in the air.  And the hopeless souls given up on endless tries, embracing failure.

And then there were the gypsies.  Brooklyn born but east Europe swathed in brocades and satins and velvets and fringes, wheels and deals, alert to every shift in the breeze, and combat ready.  They occupied four trailers at the far reaches, the empty lot at the border of the amusement park.  There was one well heeled, oiled up, Hollywood camera ready gorgeous guy who strutted his stuff in black satin shirts and slacks, embroidered cowboy boots, in charge of myriad women and children under his protective wing and not concealed .45 on his hip. He ran the store fronts where fortunes were told and taken in equal measure. 

One day he called me over to paint a sign on their window.  He told me what he wanted, I quoted a price, he said go to it, and I laid on.  The door was open to hot summers.  Inside, curtains were strung uneasily across parts of the room, saturated in incense.   Costly consultations got you into a private back space of more curtains, a candle or two,  a card table covered with a tapestry, a crystal ball, and one of the highly made up, bejeweled, ebony tressed, black-eyed fortune teller women.  I tried not to listen. Curiosity got the better of me. 

After two days of painting I heard a pattern in the soft-spoken low down that filled the room with hope, warnings, and tales of unimaginable prosperity. Change. Change was afoot.  Change was guaranteed.

Which is why I thought to write this out today.  I’ve been in a mood, not yet putting the finger on what’s off in me.  So…..We all go through ups and downs and varying miasma in a life.  I don’t much believe in the trendy business of attention deficit or polar stuff.  To me, that’s the human experience and if we get used to that as normal we can better handle the rises and falls of being alive one day to the next day. 

Back to Brooklyn.  I’d be painting the front window, dodging busy foot traffic along the sidewalk.  I’d hear through the open door, past the thick curtains, those steamy summer days.  I’d hear the gypsy seers absolutely nail the visitor’s travails.  Not by knowing what was wrong with the individual on the opposite chair so much, but by having figured out what was wrong with mankind. 

It went like this.

“You are having trouble with your job.” 

“Someone at work is trying to hurt you.” 

“The person you love has been distant, for the last three days….looking at you funny…making you afraid.”

“You have a terrible pain, right there, for a week now….”

“You want to find new work but nothing seems to be working out right, so much bad luck.” 

“Your landlord is being unkind, threatening.”

“Something is wrong with your car but you don’t know what.” 

“You need money.”


“Good fortune is headed your way….on Tuesday!”  and

“Play the numbers 6 and 17.  You will have good luck.” and

“Tonight…tell her you love her!”

It didn’t hit me til later in my own life that what I overheard in the fortune teller’s decisive proclamations were the universal truths of the trouble with living. The fortune tellers were never wrong. The visitor nodded:  Spot-on ~~~ all of it!  Yes!  You’re right!  Yes!!  How did you know! 

It applies, in varying degrees, to every one of us. 

Whatever we’re facing with waking up or by the time we hit the bed, it’s likely on the gypsy list of prognosis, prospects, and cures.  If we go ahead and solve the car, landlord, job, sweetheart, and pain problems,  well, I guarantee we’ll all have good fortune starting Tuesday.  It’s the way of the world.  Chin up. Damn the torpedoes.


Postscript:  When I was almost through painting the window sign and pictures for the gypsies I was starting to wonder if I’d get cash for my labor.  Indeed, 3 letters short of HAVE YOUR FORTUNE R…., everything else completed and looking rather spectacular, the patriarch appeared, brought out, proudly held up for inspection 2 chickens (alive and squawking)  as my pay. I declined.  I want cash, right now, uh, in case I can’t find you later, thanks ever so.  Possibly not wishing himself bad luck from the unknown powers of the itinerant street painter, he paid me in full and even smiled.  I smiled too.  I not only held the deal, but had the cure to the human condition illustrated before me.  Not bad.  Ah, Coney Island.  Amusement is only a part of you.

top ‘Snake Girl’ photo credit:  Louis Tracciola;

Click here ~ fabulous Tracciola website of old & new NY


  Lauren Bacall didn’t know it  (and I could kick myself for not telling her) but I adored her from the day I was born….or at least could read and had figured out the difference between Betty Furness selling Fridgidaires and Mrs Bogart selling paradise on the glossy pages of Life and Silver Screen.

The second best thing that ever happened to Betty Perske ~~ after falling in love with Humphrey B when she was 18 ~~~ was that she was born in Brooklyn.  She’s quoted as saying that growing up in NYC, riding the buses and subways, you find out fast:  The world doesn’t owe you a damn thing. Bless her heart.  She may have been attached at the hip to fabulous Bogie, but she maintained a glorious sense of independence, a radiant kind of wholeness that Katherine Hepburn also had, nobody’s fool, hard-working, smart, sexy. 

Bacall says she virtually ended her career marrying Humphrey Bogart (wouldn’t have changed it for the world ~~ happiest years of her life) after the success of Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not;  made a couple of stinker movies after Key Largo, and spent the next ten years proving she could act.  And never stopped working, loved the theatre, loved what she did and we loved her doing it. 

I was probably most touched to read (excellent NYT bio by somebody who loved her, not just an empty page) that she said she’d lived a magical life.  She knew she lived a magical life.  Hoorah, Lauren !!!

She sparkled in it.  By Hollywood excesses she lived modestly, and happily. When she gives her: ”You know how to whistle, don’t you Steve?” line to Bogart, watch the camera cut to his reaction when she exits the room.  The man loses it,  he’s floored, he’s laughing at his own stunned, totally impressed adoring that altered his senses. That’s a drug worth taking. It’s called feeling, and sensing and responding and being alive and in love. Thanks for that.  Both of you. We all felt it. Sweet.

Lauren Bacall   September 1924 ~ August 2014