Wednesday, June 30, 2010

on the play ground is where I spend most of my days...

...well, not like a real play ground, but since I love what I do it is kinda like a play ground. This is my studio. And I love it. I need to be around things I love, things that inspire me, make me yes, that is a framed Andy Gibb album above the window, and that is a mini chandelier with a stuffed dog on it above my bench, and yes, there's Pasqual hanging out and keeping me company, and if you look real close you can see my stack of Magnum PI dvds.

Let's just say I am not a minimalist.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dog pile

Have I mentioned how much I love my dogs? I've wanted photos of all of the dogs together for a long time. And while they aren't all here, it's still pretty freakin' fantastic! Seven out of 12 is not too bad. Can you tell that Pasqual is a total camera hog? Anytime you get out a camera he strikes a pose and hams it up for the shutterbug. And it turns out that our bed was the perfect stage.

About a year ago I posed for these photos for Crave, a book on women business owners. My good friend and photographer extraordinaire, Casey Woods shot the photos. She took several photos of me in my studio working but we both wanted to do something with the dogs, as many as we could coerce in front of the camera. I was pretty shocked at how well they behaved. The dogs are so much of who I am, it seemed only natural to include them. Needless to say I am in love with the result. Seriously, I have THE cutest dogs EVER!

Friday, June 25, 2010

nap time

Oh naps. They have to be one of THE most wonderful luxuries known to me. And can you imagine being able to peacefully sleep, uninterrupted beneath a desk? Oh, I am so jealous.

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Nana

I have been wanting and thinking and planning for this tattoo for years. I knew I wanted to get a tattoo for my great grandmother but I couldn't settle on what to do. I lost her when I was 14 years old but not a single day goes by that I don't think about her. I don't know that I can explain my connection with her...maybe she was my first best friend. I couldn't decide if I wanted a tattoo that was her or that was my feeling for her. She is the one who taught me to bake...she was the kind of cook who never measured a thing and everything was amazing. So I considered a pin-up style tattoo of a waitress with a pie and a name tag with her name. And then I thought about how much I love her and wanted a giant, red-as-red-could-be heart with a banner and her name or what I called her. Nana. I had settled on the heart and then decided to add these flowers from a painting that belonged to her. It had been in her house my whole life. When she died my Aunt Millie hung it in her house. When my Aunt Millie passed away I brought it home with me. So a couple of weeks ago I finally got my Nana tattoo. It doesn't make me miss her less. But it feels good having it there. In some ways I look at it and miss her more but in other ways it comforts me. Think what you want about tattoos, but they can be very cathartic, meaningful, and beautiful. Thank you Stacey for doing such an amazing job and bringing to life what has been in my head for so long.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I know what you're thinking...

...enough already. I said it awhile back, I should change this blog title to The Preacher Chronicles. But jewelry schmewelry, let's talk about dogs. And I know I just updated you, but I can't help it, this is note worthy.

So, we went in to see our beloved vet Dr. Daigle for Preacher's monthly check up. First of all we LOVE our vet. Love him. With 12 dogs you get to know your vet pretty well. Add to that the fact that we take our foster dogs to him and well, I see him more often than I see a lot of my family. He gets that I am a worrier and even though he teases me about it I know that he also goes that extra mile because of it. So anyway, we went in a couple of days ago and Preacher got his exam and his blood draw. We got another "disgustingly normal" diagnosis. Love that. In fact some of his blood work looked even better than the last blood draw. Crazy. Being that it's been a year I said to Dr. Daigle "Wow, can you believe it's been a year?" I told him that after Preacher's diagnosis I had read up on lymphoma, chemo, prognosis, etc. and that most things said that chemo could buy you a year to a year and a half. I told him that I read that and thought (hoped) maybe we'd get half that given Preacher's age and breed. Then Dr. Daigle said that at around the same time that Preacher was diagnosed he had diagnosed three other dogs with lymphoma and had sent them to the oncologist for chemo...and that Preacher is the only one still around. I felt a mixture of grateful and sad. Sad for the other families who didn't have the out come we've had. Of course I don't know what they did or didn't do...did they finish the chemo, entirely revamp their diets, feed fish oil, mild thistle, barley, pepcid, etc., were they as neurotic as me, or did we just get lucky? Dr. Daigle said "he's defied all odds". Defied all odds. That's some kinda wonderful.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Do yourself a favor...

I have one life suggestion for you: Volunteer. There is not too much I can think of that is better to do in your life. At first I thought it was kind of something you did because you had a passion for a certain cause. And I also thought it was an obligation - we're here on this earth, we need to leave it better than we found it. I still think both of those things are true but I have realized something else about volunteering. It can be completely selfish. In a good way. I didn't start out volunteering out of selfishness, but I have realized now that I have gotten far more out of it than I have given.

I have had the privilege of meeting some of the most amazing people and have had the honor to love 100's of dogs even if only for a short time before they got to go live with people who could love them for a life time.

Yesterday I posted an update on Preacher. A bit later a friend shared a portrait of Preacher that her husband had done. It was very emotional for me, not only because I love my dog but because I love their dog. I met Megan and Greg when they adopted a little hairless pit bull puppy from Tom and I. Let me back up a bit...Tom and I were down at the local shelter to pick out a new foster. We had written down a few numbers that we were interested in and were nearing the end of the runs. We were in an area where they keep dogs that have medical issues. Usually I'm ok. I've been doing this long enough that I have learned to put all of my focus on the dogs I can help and not all of the dogs I can't help. It's the only way to survive fostering. So as I walk down the "sick" run I look to my left and see this tiny little puppy with more sores than hair. He was crusty and wrinkled and stinky and he stood up, walked to the cage door and wagged his little hairless tail at me. I turned to Tom and said "don't look over there" and I started to cry. It was one of only two times I have ever cried at that shelter in 10 years. There was nothing in me that could leave that little dog there. He was a sick, hairless, pit bull puppy - what could be less adoptable??? When we went into the office and said that we wanted this puppy they looked at us with a combination of crazy and gratitude. They knew this puppy was just putting in his required 72 hours before being euthanized. But Tom and I scooped him up, a bit reluctantly because he was god-awful-gross, and took him home.

This little dog had a spirit that was unreal. He almost seemed like he didn't hurt, which was impossible given the severe case of mange that he had. It was so bad that the infection had gotten into his lymph nodes and we had to have them tested to make sure it wasn't cancer. It took about 24 hours for me to forget how stinky and crusty he was and how his skin would sometimes fall off in your hands. After 24 hours of his cheerful romps in the grass and games of stick chasing I was head-over-heals in love with him and would gladly kiss his leathery face!
Gradually his hair started filling in and thoughts of keeping him were creeping in...but just in the nick of time I got an e-mail from Megan and Greg. I loved them for him the moment I met them. And I was amazed at how quickly they saw past his not-so pretty exterior. The only question left was would their dogs like him as much as they did. I think it was a bit of a rocky start but now, gosh, five or six years later, I get to see pictures of he and Tula (their other dog) curled up together, snuggled on the couch, going for bike rides/runs, dressed up for the holidays - these pictures are my dream come true.
Now Cecil, well actually his name is Mole Pie now...funny thing about that, Tom and I named him Cecil but called him CeeCee Pie...We never told Megan that but he somehow still ended up being called Pie...anyway, he is happy. He smiles and is living the life.

The short version of that very long story is that I never would have met Megan, Greg, or Pie if I weren't volunteering. And Greg wouldn't have created that amazing portrait of Preacher that I will always treasure. And the thing is, there are so many more Charlotte and Rusty, Julie, Robyn, Davy, Zoe, and Mia, Nora and Sean, Kelly and Tom, Chris and Debbie, Brandi and Mark, Melody and Jake, Ed and Michelle, and so, so many more. Thank you all for what you have given us over the years.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Wow. a year can bring so much.

Believe it or not it has been one year since Preacher's diagnosis with lymphoma. A whole year. Words can not describe the scary place we were in a year ago. At that time I never would have believed he could go from so sick, not eating, depressed to happy, playing, and eating like a horse. That desperate day at the oncologists office all I wanted was more time but I didn't dare hope for a year. But here we are and I feel like the luckiest dog mom in the world. As I sit here typing Preacher is across the room curled up on the couch with a full belly of breakfast. If I could make eye contact with him I know he would wag his little nub. And that is joy.

We have no idea what we have left. But what I do know is that I am grateful. I am grateful to Dr. Daigle, Dr. Hintermeister, Georgia's Legacy, Casey, my Uncle Jim, my family and friends, and my partner-in-crime, my wonderful husband. You all made this bearable, gave me hope, and got us to a place where life felt normal again.

And for those of you who read this blog, who post kind, supportive comments - I would give anything if you all could meet this big goofy guy who you've come to know by reading my never ending posts about him. He would happily come right up to you, lean into you, look at you like "what's taking you so long to to pet me? I like it behind the ears.", and in thanks, cover you in white dog hair.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The important things

Just a couple of weekends ago my little brother graduated from high school. Here's the required family photo minus Tom because he is always the one behind the camera.
My grandparents and aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends came in for the festivities. It was a great weekend. lots of fun and great to spend time with everyone. They all live in Kansas so we just don't get to see them as much as we'd like.

My aunt and I are only four years apart and we have always been as thick as thieves. We find things funny that no one else does, we giggle to the point of annoying everyone one around us, we have our own little songs, almost to the point of our own language...and the 11 hour distance between us is dreadful. So I appreciate any event that brings us together.
This is Matthew and his precious friend Brittany. She's at my parents house almost as much as Matthew is so she's begun to feel like part of the family as well.
I truly can't believe he has graduated. He's 18. It was just yesterday that he was born. I was the first one to hold him. I sang James Taylor songs to him every day. I forced "good music" on him and tried to teach him to be open minded. He's going off to college in just a couple of months and I can't even think about how much I will miss him.

My family means everything to me. I truly feel like I am the luckiest person in the world when it comes to family. My parents divorced when I was very young and my whole family made sure that I never saw the ugliness of divorce. No one ever said bad things about the other, in fact they all remained close. In fact my biological dad's sister was there at Matthew's (Matthew and I have different biological dad's) graduation right along side all of my family - let me just say, it pains me to say "step" in relation to family. I hate that word. He's my dad. His family is my family. Anyway, I am lucky is my point.

The last couple of weeks have been trying. Both my grandmother and Tom's grandmother have had some health issues that have had us worried. Times like these, stuff like that just really makes you take stock and say your thanks. I have the best family. Hands down.