Wednesday, December 12, 2012

round three

 To begin with - seriously, is he not the cutest thing you have EVER seen?  I mean really!  I tell him all the time that he must've stole some other dog's "cute" because he just has way too much!
I would love to say that round two of chemo went off with out a hitch, but it actually kind of sucked.  It has taken me back to Preacher's third round of chemo which was so scary and made us second guess all of our choices.  But after round three Preacher just breezed through chemo, so I am so hoping that the same will be true for it too much to ask for successful cancer treatment with two dogs, twice in a row?
 I think we were lulled into a false sense of security by how well C handled round one and by how well Preacher tolerated when C began to act a little "off" it scared the pants off me.  His bloodwork showed that his white blood cell count had tanked, he was nauseous, lethargic, and depressed.  Seeing him like that was heartbreaking and made me think "what the hell are we doing?"  Then just when we thought it couldn't get worse we found out that the tumor is already growing back.  It feels like we can't catch a break.

So we are switching chemo drugs, plus we've added another med that apparently has shown good results specifically with TCC.    In fact he is currently at the clinic awaiting this new chemo...I would love to think that we are "due" some good news, but I know that the world just does not work that way.  But I am still praying, hoping, and digging deep for every ounce of faith I have to focus on the positive.  My friend Kerry told me yesterday that worry is a form of negative prayer.  I love that, but its not real good news for me since I am a giant worrier!  So I've got to find a way to reign in those scary thoughts that creep into my head.  I have to believe that we can get in front of this thing.  I've adjusted my expectations - in the beginning I fully expected us to cure what I want for him and for us is some happy, comfortable time.  Now don't misunderstand, I will still take "cured!" and run with it!

So, for today, can I ask for prayers?  positive thoughts?  well wishes?  for this drug to be the one that works for him?  I just would love to think that there is a whole pile of people out there sending positive thoughts into the universe for my boy today.  I believe that it works, I believe that it heals.

In the midst of everything that is going on with Clarence (which pretty much consumes all of my thoughts) I do still have to work.  This weekend was the Cherrywood Art Fair.  I LOVE this show!  This is my 10th year to participate.  I had a new booth dimension that had me a little nervous but I ended up loving it!  And as much as I wanted to stay home with C, curled up on the couch, it was good for me to get out, visit with amazing customers, see some friends, and just get my mind off of things a little.  It was a fun couple of days.

I have had my busiest year since beginning Metalsgirl.  I feel very, very fortunate.  As I mentioned before, right now I would like nothing more than to just hang out with Clarence 24/7 so some days I get really anxious about the fact that I am working 12, 15, even 19 hour days.  But chemo ain't cheap so I am grateful for the work.  Still have those chemo fund grab bags available in fact!  I can push through the next couple of weeks and then in January, Clarence and I (and Tom and the other pups and cat too) might have a two week long movie marathon curled up on the couch with a fire and an endless cup of hot tea. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

round two

So round two of chemo is under our belt!  I think we got a little cocky about how we were handling things.  He went through round one like a champ, no side effects or reactions at all.  Round two, last week, no reactions.  In fact on Thanksgiving he was under the table begging from who ever he thought might be his best bet to schmooze!  But then a couple of days ago he started acting a little off.  Nothing specific, just not entirely Clarence.  He got more and more clingy and while I love that he wanted to snuggle for a change, it's just not him.  So off to the vet for blood work and sure enough, his white blood cell count has tanked.  Stinks.  I thought we were gonna cruise along and he would be that dog that just told chemo to go to you-know-where.  But it turns out we are not exempt.  So antibiotics, steroids, and hopefully we can turn this around fast.

Warm thoughts, well wishes, prayers, what ever you can spare - it's all welcome and appreciated.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sandy and hamsters and stuff

You know that saying, "when it rains it pours," well I don't know if I've ever believed that as much as I do right now.  In the last three weeks my uncle passed away, one of our dogs was diagnosed with cancer, and we got trapped in hurricane Sandy.  But before you cut and run, thinking, "geez, this is gonna be depressing," I promise, it's not.  This post is about the kindness of strangers, making friends you've never met, an unbreakable city, and the discovery of my own strength.

So I'm gonna go a little out of order here.  Yeh, we survived hurricane Sandy.  Frakenstorm.  It was a crazy thing really that we were even there.  A couple of months ago I was invited to participate in a new, up and coming art show in Brooklyn.  It's no secret, my love of I really wanted to do it.  We waffled back and forth so much that I think I almost got myself uninvited.  But we decided to go for it.  We booked our tickets and were lucky enough to get to dog sit our former foster dog, Finnegan while his person got to take an impromptu trip to Spain.  Win win.  Enter Sandy.

The show went off well, maybe a little slow since that Saturday was dubbed "storm preparedness day." But it was fun.  By this time the news of Sandy's approach was all over the news.  We considered heading home early but everyone else was considering that too and there were no flights out.  We were in for the long haul.  The night Sandy hit was honestly pretty uneventful from the perspective of a 12th floor apartment in lower Manhattan (Greenwich Village to be specific.)  I've never been through a hurricane before but it wasn't what I expected.  I thought "I'm gonna see rain like nobody's business" but I didn't.  I thought thunder, lightening, very, very frightening.  But there was none of that.  Just some gusts of wind.  And then we lost power.  So no news to see what was happening "out there."  Just this eerie view of a very dark skyline - all but the Empire State Building lit up like a Christmas tree.  It was spooky and beautiful all at the same time.

 The view from the apartment before the storm.

  The view from the apartment after the storm.

So I learned something.  Power outages in Texas are different than power outages in New York City. There are about a gazillion more people per square take my house in Texas:  if we lose power it's just the two of us, but if it were in NYC, first, my house would be divided into about four apartments and then there would be about 20 or so floors on top of me, so my two person home just became about 160 people.  That's a lotta folks without power.  And if you are above the 6th floor you've lost plumbing too, something about how high the pump can go.
  Hijacking power.

So 12th floor, no power, no plumbing, no cell service, and a dog to walk.  We had to walk about 25 blocks to charge our phones on hijacked outlets on the sides of buildings so we could sit on hold with JetBlue for an hour +... it was a crazy experience.  But I saw amazing kindnesses...restaurants cooking up their food on charcoal grills and giving it away, bodegas using their generators to help people charge cell phones instead of powering their whole stores, and I haven't even touched on my family and friends doing anything and everything to get us either home or at a minimum, to a shower!

So I think what Tom and I both took away from our experience was a stronger appreciation for our friends and family, a deeper connection to the city we love, and a strange joy that we got to share this with New York.  It might sound strange.  I know this storm caused horrible devastation and I do not mean to minimize that... it's just that New Yorkers are amazing people.  So to have shared this with them, with the city itself, it just feels special.

Right before we left town, like just days before, we found out that one of our dogs, Clarence has cancer.   To say we are devastated is a huge understatement.  It all still feels like a blur to me...we were scheduled to leave town, my uncle had just passed away and we didn't know if we were leaving town for a funeral, it was all just chaos.  Ultimately we decided to go ahead with the trip.  I didn't want to forfeit my both fees, I knew we needed the money from the show to help with cancer treatment expenses, and we had committed to dog sitting.  If it sounds like I am justifying it's because I am.  I still feel guilty for leaving.  It just sucked.  It didn't feel like there was a right decision.  

But now things are beginning to feel normal again...I tell people all the time whose pets are diagnosed with illness, "you find a new normal."   And it's true.  We learned that with Preacher.  But man, I was not prepared to go through this again so soon and certainly not with this dog.

Clarence has Transitional Cell Carcinoma or TCC.  It is a cancer found in the bladder.  It all started with some blood in his urine.  I assumed it was a simple bladder infection.  But after a week of antibiotics it wasn't any better.  We did an ultrasound and found a tumor.  He had surgery that day to remove the tumor.  We hoped that it would be benign and if not, that they could get all of the tumor.  Unfortunately neither was the case.  It was cancer and they were not able to get it all.   Crappy news.  So there were a couple of options but it seemed like chemo was the only option that might really "work."  I've read and read and read about this kind of cancer... let me tell you, getting on the internet looking for info when you are scared and confused is a real bad idea.  I'm not gonna get into numbers because we've decided that we are going to do just what we did with Preacher, be positive and beat the odds.  I'm still kind of overwhelmed, so I know I'm forgetting stuff I want to share... I can't wait to reach that calm place that I finally found after Preacher was diagnosed.

I met amazing people in that difficult time after Preacher was diagnosed.  Through an internet search I found Georgia's Legacy.  It's a great website that was started by a woman who lost her dog to lymphoma.  I swear Kerry saved my life in those early days... I'll post more about Kerry in another post.  But she is the first person I reached out to this time.  Not only did she find people who have been through this for me to talk to but she offered to personally contact the leading vet in TCC research at Purdue University.  Kerry, I love you!

So, I could go on and on, and I probably will over the course of his treatment.  I will try to post updates after his rounds of chemo... the next one is on Tuesday and well wishes are extremely welcome and appreciated.

I will leave you with this:  one evening when we were in New York I was having a particularly low moment, missing Clarence, worrying about him, you know... Tom says to me, pretending to be the vet "Did we say cancer?  We meant HAMSTER.  He has a hamster in his bladder."  Of course it made me fall out laughing.  So, now we refer to the cancer as "the hamster."  It's not such an ugly word and we look forward to the day when we can say "The hamster has left the building!"

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

the power of memory

 My Uncle Pete and My Aunt Millie

I've been thinking about my family and my childhood a lot Uncle Pete passed away last week, I guess losing the people who were so prevalent in your formative years can really throw you a curve ball.  My childhood was pretty idyllic in most ways.  My family was very close and while my mom didn't have brothers or sisters, my great aunts and uncles were always around.  We weren't a very large family, maybe that's why we were so close...  The night my uncle passed away my sweet husband asked me to share some of my memories of my Uncle Pete.  As I was going through them I started to realize that my almost obsessive fondness for tradition probably stems from my growing up.  Every Thanksgiving was spent at my Grandma and Nana's... every Christmas Eve my Nana made homemade tortellini and the whole family would come over, they would all wait for me to get home from my Christmas with my dad and he would come in and we would both get our bowls of tortellini soup...then every Christmas morning I would wake up early and had to wait in the hall while my mom got my grandmother into her wheel chair and called my Uncle Jim so he could drive over - once he was there I could go see what Santa brought then we would head to my Aunt Millie's for Christmas dinner.  Summers were filled with evenings of grilled steak, games of kick the can, chasing my Aunt Millie's chihuahua Buffy around the yard with my cousin Chris while my Uncle Clyde yelled at us to stop.

My Uncle Pete was my grandmother's brother.  He was so handsome that when I was a teenager I would show my friends the photo from his pro baseball days.  I have two very strong memories of my uncle...the first one was the day my grandmother passed away.  We were all gathered at the house, she had had hospice for several days, my mother and the hospice nurse were with her.  When the hospice nurse walked into the family room over to my Nana, my great-grandmother, I knew.  I was 11 years old.  I got up to run to my mom but my Aunt Millie (my grandmother's sister) stopped me and pulled me into a hug.  Soon the hospice nurse came to get me to take me to my mom. As we walked through the dining room I saw my Uncle Pete sitting alone, in the corner with his head in his hands crying.  It was the first time I had seen a man cry and it crushed me.

My next memory was of the day of my great grandmother's funeral.  My Nana was, and actually still is, indescribably a part of my heart, I don't know how else to describe it but I miss her so much that I ache for her some days.  I was 14 when she died and the day of her funeral I could not bring myself to walk up to her open casket, I just did not want to see her that way.  I was standing at the back of the church waiting for them to close the Uncle Pete got up and walked up to her, leaned over, then turned and began walking to me.  He reached, took my hand, opened it, and gently placed my Nana's rosary, that had just moments before been wrapped in her hand, into my hand.  He kissed my cheek and walked away.  I'm sure he never knew how huge that was for me.

I have very little of that side of my family left but my memories are strong and I will forever be grateful for the childhood they gave me. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

three simple rules

How is it October already?!?!  How?  uggg, there are so many things that keep popping in my head, things I need to do, stuff I wanna share, but that silly 'ole work just keeps getting in the way!

So for now, it's just this.  This great sign that was in the gym at Maplewood Elementary last Christmas during the Cherrywood Art Fair.  I was right near my booth and I stared at it for two days.  I love it.  I need to print it really big for my studio.  I guess the kids need it, but I swear adults need it even more...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Peaches Honeyblossom

Life has been a little cuckoo pants since returning from Mexico.  And for the most part I can sum it up with one word: Work!  I'm not complaining, I love having work.  When you work for yourself and your business relies almost entirely on people's disposable income and the economy was rocky for a few years, well, having too much work is a very good problem!  But it also keeps me from doing things like blogging, hanging out with friends, going out to dinner, going to the grocery store, in general, leaving the house.  I don't leave the house much.  But again, it's a good problem. 

So, what's the super smart thing to do when you are so busy that you can't buy groceries?  Uh, go get a mangy pit bull puppy from the shelter of course!

Enter Peaches Honeyblossom.

Let me back up a little.  After we lost Delta I felt a real need to get a foster dog.  I don't know if I can exactly articulate why I felt this.  I thought it would be a good way to honor her but maybe it was as simple as just distracting myself.  I don't know.  But I started hinting to Tom.  And by hint I mean sending him emails with photos of dogs at the shelter with the caption "can we get this dog?".  He didn't bite on the first two I sent him.  Dog one: a four year old, pure bred, male poodle.  aka a dog that would get adopted lickty split.  Dog two: a tiny, female, one year old Bichon Frisee/Yorkie mix (maybe!).  aka a dog that would get adopted even lickty splicktier than dog one.

Then I sent dog three:  a four month old, female pit bull with the worst case of mange I have ever seen (and that is saying a lot).  So in terms of what is hard to adopt, pit bulls, chows, and black labs are right up there.  I know, black labs?  But it's true.  Don't know what it is but people just pass them right by.  So anyway, add in the puppy thing, that is, uh, time consuming, and the little matter of the demodex mange which will probably take about four months to clear up - medicated baths twice a week, antibiotics for weeks, daily dose of meds to kill the mangey mites...we are talking loooooong term foster. 

This is the one that makes Tom go down to the shelter on his lunch break and back to pick her up that evening.  And you know what?  I couldn't be happier.

She was a heartbreak wrapped in a hairless, scabby, pink, stinky, puppy package.  And on top of the awful mange she had a sunburn to rival any South Padre spring breaker!  She was a sight!  I barely wanted to touch her for fear her skin would come off in my hands.  And the smell, well, I'm gonna avoid that descriptive.  I wish the people who let this happen to this poor little girl could be prosecuted.  But she was picked up as a stray so we don't know who let this happen.  But what I do know is that Tom and I will do everything we can to make sure that where she came from is a distant memory.

We've been doing this rescue/foster thing for almost 13 years now and I'll be honest, sometimes it's made me not like people very much.  Just this week I learned of four senior dogs that were dumped at the shelter for a variety of reasons, but one was "It's old.  We are getting a puppy".  Makes me feel sick to my stomach.  I've seen dogs with acid burns, I've seen dogs tied and left in abandoned yards for weeks with no food or water, I've seen dogs with limbs hanging off and owners who said they were waiting for him to die, I've seen puppies hung from fence pickets to train dogs to fight, I've seen abandoned litters of puppies whose mom died because she had been over bred so there would be more puppies to sell, I have seen all of these things first hand and it has made me jaded...

But then along came Peaches and on a whim we decided to create a Facebook page for her.  It was just a silly thing at first, Tom and I being silly.  But then people started "liking" her.  A lot of people.  They were commenting on her photos and sending sweet, caring messages and well wishes.  It might not seem like much, but for me, when a lot of what I see is awful side of dog welfare, the little things mean a lot.  And then people started donating money to her care and then sending her care packages and gift certificates, and setting up dates to come meet her, not necessarily to adopt her, but just to meet her.  Just to hug her and play with her.  There have been multiple times where I have just sat and cried over the kindness these people have shown to this little hairless pit bull, a breed that tends to polarize people.  It has been truly amazing.  We've been posting her progress on her Facebook page and it's remarkable to watch.  When you see them every day you just don't notice the changes as much, but when you are chronicling it for other people you pay more attention.  You can see from the photos I've posted here how great the change has been.  And it's been less than a month.

So, yes, she does create a fair amount of time suckage.  Maybe I spend a tiny bit more time playing with her when I should be working, but you know what they say about all work...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

knocked for a loop

 I had a very different blog post in mind for when I returned from Mexico.  We left town last Thursday for a destination wedding and the whole time I was there I was thinking about the photos I would share.  No where in my brain did I think I would instead be saying goodbye to our little fur ball just one hour after getting off of the plane.
Who knew that my heart could be stolen by this goofy, silly, head spinning, prancing, barky, Pomeranian?  I didn't even think I liked Pomeranian's!  But man, she sucked us right in in no time flat.  If I'm being honest there are only two things I would change:  I wouldn't have named her Delta Dawn and I would have officially adopted her.  On the way to the emergency clinic just minutes after we landed, as I held her bundled in my arms, knowing exactly what was happening, I turned to Tom and somehow articulated how upset I was that we had never actually adopted her.  In some lame attempt to make myself feel better I insisted we pay all of her final bills vs. Blue Dog covering them.  Logically I know it makes no difference and I also know that she never knew...I guess in these moments, where raw emotion is raging, bizarre thoughts and ideas surface and you just go with it.

I think we knew a very long time ago that she was our dog.  Shit, after the first trip to the vet we found out that she was a bit of a train wreck.  But I blindly told myself that there was some Florence Nightingale soul out there that was gonna snatch her up.  Over the two years that she was actually on the website, available for adoption we had exactly two interested parties.  By the time the second one rolled around Tom was so upset at the thought of her being adopted that he didn't even go with me to the meet-and-greet.  I thought they might be a good fit for her but I never heard from them again after that meeting.  That was it she was ours.
About a week before we left for Mexico she had a bout of coughing that gave us a little scare, but after some xrays we all (vet included) chocked it up to her collapsed trachea, something we've been treating for nearly two years.  So it came as a complete shock to us when my mother-in-law (who stayed with the dogs while we were away) called us as we were about to board our plane to say that she was in renal failure.  After frantic texts to my vet, who kindly called the vet at the emergency clinic, it was clear there was nothing we could do.  I so hoped we would have the evening with her, but the minute I saw her I knew it was time.  We bundled her up and headed to the clinic.  We made it to the clinic but she left us on her own just moments after we arrived.

I believe with my whole heart that not only did she wait for us to get home to say goodbye, but she took that hard, hard decision out of our hands.  It just proves that these amazing animals have just as much capacity for love as we do - sometimes more I think.

I took this video just a couple of months ago and it sums up her hilarious, perky, ridiculously silly personality pretty well.  There was no rhyme or reason to her, she flung her head back and forth like mad anytime food was evident, every single time she came in from outside it was as if she was being chased by a swarm of bees, she was rarely allowed on the bed because she insisted on teetering on the edge instead of being safely in the middle or at least two to three inches in, she had de-pilling pill pockets down to an art form, and her bark was accompanied by the most adorable hop you have ever seen.

After losing Preacher in September and Daisy in April I foolishly thought that we might be spared for a bit.  But that's just not how it works.  I told someone earlier today that knowing her and being her people was worth every ounce of pain.  And it is, it's true.  I wouldn't trade one second of my time with any of them.

I miss you Deltie girl.  Thank you for finding us, for staying, and for waiting.  
your mom

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

a wedding and a cake

 My little sister is getting married this weekend.  Okay, so technically she's not my "real" sister if you wanna talk blood relation, but I claim her as mine.  We met when our families moved in a couple of houses down from each other when I was 13 and Haley was 4.  We did the whole block party thing, I baby sat, typical white-bread-suburbia-USA.  Over the years we just got closer and closer.  Pretty soon our families were spending nearly every holiday together, I was the go-to person in times of need (ie. sneaking the car out and not being able to get it parked back into the garage well enough to pass Dad's inspection.  Turns out Dad was smarter than either of us and felt the hood of the car.  Smarty britches was quick on her feet and told him I had taken her out for ice cream.  In their car?!?!?  Whatever, we skated by.)

Over the years we have built a life time of memories like this one.  I could sit and rattle off one after another after another after the time Tom took her to her high school winter formal when he and I were dating because she didn't have a date...or how every day I would anxiously wait for her to get home from school so I could tell her the latest on my budding crush on Tom...or about how we got matching cupcake tattoos (for real!)...or about how we play charades every Thanksgiving and she would be content if she got to act out every single one!  Long story short, I adore her.  She is funny and kind and I cannot believe she is getting married!!!!
 It's a destination wedding, we are Mexico bound, Tulum to be specific.  How cute is their save-the-date?  We are staying in the most amazing looking cabanas that are right on the beach.  They've rented the whole place so it will be like a big three day party.  I'm super excited!! 
 A couple of weeks ago we decided to have a girls' night, a slumber party, to just hang out, watch movies, talk, and be girlie.  Turns out there was very little movie watching.  We talked and talked and talk and talked and it was great.  Anyway, I had been looking for a special occasion to make this cake I had seen over on Sweetapolita.  To say I love her blog would be a huge understatement.  Her cakes are always gorgeous, her photos are amazing...and now I can officially say that her recipes (I've made three) are great!

The one I decided on was a chocolate cake.  If you are wondering about the photo above, I know, it's odd to show the pans but I had to share may all already know this and I might be sitting here looking like a dumbass, but I did not know this - if you are making a chocolate cake you should dust the pans with cocoa powder instead of flour!  Did you know that?  Cause I didn't know that!
 One of the things that I think might make Rosie's recipes so successful is that she gives you a lot of measurements in weight vs. volume.  I've been reading a lot lately that that is the better way to measure when baking.

This recipe also calls for espresso.  I love adding espresso to anything with chocolate!  It doesn't make it taste like coffee, it just enhances the coffee flavor.  Go out and buy yourself a little jar of instant espresso and never ever use it to drink!  Uck! 
 So the reason I wanted to make this cake was the icing.  Didn't really matter what the cake itself was, you could do vanilla or anything really.  I was just itching to try this icing technique.  Let me back up a little.  You know I like to bake, but I'm more of a pie girl.  So in the past when I have baked cakes I've just kind of done it with the tools I have on hand.  Don't do that.  Go buy these three things:
  • cake boards (card board and disposable, get the size to match the cake size you are making)
  • a lazy susan
  • an offset spatula (this is a MUST!)
A couple of things about the above photo.  It is the crumb coat of icing, not some minimalist icing technique.  The idea is that you put a thin coat of frosting on the cake, pop it in the fridge, and then when you go to ice your cake for real you won't have a bunch of cake crumbs co-mingling with your icing. Don't skip this step.

It may look like the icing to cake ratio is very one sided.  But I swear that is not the thickest layer of icing you have ever seen.  Well, on the very edges it is, but inside it's normal.  Here's why it looks that way, and this is another wonderful tip I learned from Rosie at Sweetapolita...take your first layer and put it top side up on your cake board, put your icing on top (for your middle layer of icing), then put your top cake layer top side DOWN!  This way you have a nice flat top to your cake instead of a domed one!  Clever!
 So this icing technique looks kind of like an ombre to me.  It's that lovely gradation of color and you could choose any color combo you like.  Rosie gives you a very easy to follow video of how to ice this cake right HERE.

 I'm a sprinkle junkie.  I need a support group for a few things, sprinkles are one of them.  So are Weck jars (like the one with the blue sprinkles).  I sometimes just look at their website and imaginary order.  Do you ever do that?  Imaginary order stuff?  I do it all the time.  Anyway, yes.  I obsess on sprinkles and jars to put them in.  Doesn't everyone?!?!
So it's not perfect but I do love the way it came out!  By the way, I searched high and low for a cake topper and they were all hideous!  If I would have planned better I would have found a vintage one on etsy but I didn't.  I finally found this adorable topper at Party City of all places.  They had some white folks, but man, their clothes were terrible.  This precious couple was hip and classy and that's my Hay, hip and classy, but not black.  And not always classy, she burps a lot.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I kinda like New York City a little plus some collaboration

If you've read my blog for very long you know that Tom and I both have a slight obsession with New York City.  Manhattan to be specific.  The West Village to be more specific.  Between Horatio & Perry and 8th & Greenwich Ave. to be completely ridiculous.  We try to go a couple of times a year.  When we are really lucky we get to dog sit one of our former foster dogs and that is pretty much my idea of Heaven.  When we aren't there we look at real estate and dream of renting or buying a tiny apartment within the above mentioned few blocks.  I am about to admit how incredibly dorky we really are - when we have a day or so to ourselves we will actually  hole up in our bedroom and pretend it's our NYC apartment (Tom quite possibly will kill me for sharing this).  But it is, in an odd way, like a mini vacation.  And from doing this I believe whole heartedly that I could live with Tom in 350ish square feet and be not only content, but quite happy.  Don't believe I could do it?  Buy me an apartment and I'll show you!  I'm up to the challenge!  Seriously though, if it weren't for the matter of 12 dogs and a cat we may have actually given this more serious consideration.  Anyway, a girl can dream...

Over the last couple of trips Tom's developed an eye for spotting any and all graffiti with the word LOVE in it.  It's actually amazing how many there are.  The 5th one over, the triple LOVE, that tagger has put his or her "love" all over the city.  Sometimes one "love" sometimes three.  We saw them everywhere, on buildings, in the middle of the street, on fire hydrants.  They were super cool.

Not sure if it was him or me that said "these should go into a necklace" but I Love, pun intended, the series.  It's inspired me to collaborate fact I've hit up a good friend from college who lives in Poland now to start a project together.  He is a bad ass painter and he and his wife are making crazy cool jewelry in Warsaw.  So these little necklaces are the start of a new collaboration page on my website...hopefully just the beginning...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Clarence Davis Jr.

AKA Clarbee, BoBo, Bobie, Clib, Clarbee Davis Jr., Clib Cliberson, Clarence Worley, Clare de Lune, Clarbee Wan Kenobi, Michael Diamond, Lil C, C Note, or King of the Sea, take your pick. 

Is it weird to base an entire post on a photo?  Tom took this photo a couple of days ago and I think it might be one of my favorites ever.  It's my sweet little bitty man.  He was the fourth addition to our pack.  He is so chock full of personality - If you are a dog person you already know how dogs are just as different from one to the next as people are.  If you aren't you might think a dog is a dog is a dog.  But they aren't  My Clarence is a bit gangsta, has a terrible potty mouth, is the president of both cereal and cracker club as well as a member of the popcorn club.  During the day he sleeps on his side pressed against a wall (got to get a good photo of that!) and at night gets in and out of bed a half dozen times to do God knows what.  He is terrified of thunderstorms but fancies himself quite the tough guy.  Once a year he goes to his stylist to get his ear hairs trimmed and his legwarmers cut off.

I know you are not supposed to have a favorite child and I do also know that dogs are not children.  But seeing as how I don't have children I hope that those parents of human children out there will forgive my referring to my dogs as children.  Okay so again, I know you are not supposed to play favorites...and I will never admit to having a favorite but if you infer something from me bringing up this topic while posting about Clarence, well, I can't help that.

Several years ago I tattooed his paw print onto the top of my foot so that no matter what he would always walk with me everywhere I went.  Just a few months ago Tom got a tattoo for Clarence - his portrait, but with a fish tail, wearing a crown, holding a trident (King of the Sea), and carrying a chalice full of gold fish crackers.  I kid you not.  It is the most awesome thing EVER.  I'm not envious, I'm straight up jealous!

So, in case you did not know this before, it is clear now, we are the crazy dog people.  I'm not ashamed.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

three little birds, pitch by my doorstep

 Literally.  It was just like the Bob Marley song.  A momma cardinal laid three little eggs in a hanging basket just three feet from our back door.  I'm not sure how we even knew the eggs were there, but they hatched just two days after we noticed the eggs.  I tried to chronicle each day with them, but missed two days.  So these photos, in consecutive order, mark each day of their growth.

 Check out the difference in their wings from day to day!  It's crazy!  They look prehistoric.

 Tom and I had grand plans for how to protect the babies from the dogs once they were ready to fly.  We were going to fashion some kind of net (a sheet) under the nest so they wouldn't fall and then get rushed by the dogs when they race out the back door.  I had no clue what the nest time was for a baby cardinal.  In hind sight I should have looked it up.  But I had no idea it was less than two weeks!  One morning I went out to check on them and they were just gone.  It scared me half to death because I had gotten ridiculously attached to the little boogers. 

I need to quick tell you, I am pretty freakin' scared of birds.  I would NEVER have one as a pet.  My friend Kathy has two that live in, I swear, like refrigerator size cages and they scare the crap out of me every time I am at her house.  Every time they squawk I think I lose a year off my life.  But how can you be afraid of these tiny, precious things?

So I was pretty devastated when I went out there and they were gone.  Vanished.  No sign of them anywhere.  I was terrified that maybe the dogs had gotten them on the early morning trip outside where I grudgingly walk to the door with my eyes still shut in a desperate attempt to not wake up enough so that I can crawl back into bed for an hour or more of sleep.  But Tom assured me that there would be "signs" if the dogs had gotten them.  If you think otherwise DO NOT tell me!  I looked all over the yard, in the trees.  Nothing.  So, my hope is that they are off making nests of their own, scaring the bajeezus out of some other bird fearing person, happy as little clams.

Friday, May 25, 2012

it IS all it's cracked up to be.

This dog fostering thing can really suck sometimes. Sometimes they chew up a shoe or a window sill. Sometimes they dig a hole in the yard. Once or twice they've had accidents on the floor. Occasionally they bark or whine. And then every once in a while they make you fall in love with them so hard that it just nearly rips your heart out to let them go. Is it worth it? Yes. Do I still hate it? Yes. Would I recommend it? Absolutely.

We kept the first dog we ever fostered. Not a good sign of our ability to let go. But we kept at it. The first few were horribly hard to say goodbye to. The second one even went to our dear friends and I still stayed in bed for a day and cried. Then it started to get easier. Soon I was able to happily take them to their new homes and just leave with no ache at all. I don't think I was becoming hard hearted, I was just becoming more able to see the many positives: happy dog, happy family, and a new space in my home to save another dog in need. Win, win, win. But occasionally a dog would come along who, for some reason or another, got under my skin. We've fostered 200+ dogs over the last 12 years and aside from those first couple, that I think were actually the foster learning curve, there have been maybe three that were just really hard to part with (aside from the few that we, um, did not in fact part with). Let's see, there was a tiny, hairless pit bull who made me cry my eyes out in the middle of the shelter. Something you might think would happen a lot but had actually only happened once before when I accidentally witnessed the mountain of euthanized dogs being loaded onto a truck for cremation. Then there was the great dane who was so attached to me that he ripped down the blinds of his new home as I walked away from his home visit. And then there is Bernadette.
 I almost start off saying "I don't know what it is about her", but I know exactly what it is about her - she is that kind of dog that makes you feel special.  She makes you feel needed and wanted.  She looks at you with these soulful eyes that say "All I want in this world is you".  I dare you to try parting with that.  I'm not kidding you, it's making me feel sick.  Lots of my friends have said "just keep her", "whats one more?"  But man, have you ever tried buying food and heartworm pills and paying for vet bills for 12+ animals?  It ain't easy.  And then there is the whole attention thing - when you have this many animals are any of them really getting the attention they need and deserve?  So the right answer is to find her a wonderful home where she will get ALL the attention and ALL the love.  I can do that.  It's gonna suck, but I can do it.  And another dog will need to be rescued.  And I will have a space.
 But seriously, how freakin' cute is she!?!?!?!  Come on! 

Now that I have made this fostering thing sound just like a barrel of laughs I'm sure you'll be rushing out to find your nearest rescue group to volunteer with.  You should.  You will not regret it.  How can you regret saving a life?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

can we talk?

A few weeks ago I was reading one of the blogs I like and she had a post, top five things to be a good blogger, or something like that. One of the things was don't complain. Or was it don't whine? Anyway, I get it. People have their own issues, they read blogs as an escape. That's why I read the blogs I read. But I thought about it, and the blogs I love most are at their core, real. And sometimes they whine. And I'm okay with that. It makes them real, makes me feel like I know them, like we could be friends. Ok, before I start to sound like some weirdo who thinks she's "friends" with a bunch of people she's never met, in a nutshell, I relate. And isn't that also one of the things we love about blogs? Relating. Reading about people who are dealing with the same things we are, whose lives are as nutty as our own, makes you feel a little less alone, right?

So, with that exhausting intro said and done I can now get to my point. I am overwhelmed with a capital Oh my God am I overwhelmed. I see my life in four large chunks: Work, Blue Dog Rescue, Family, and Friends. And right this minute they are all in overdrive. I can handle it when one is high maintenance. Even when two are. Three and things start to get a little iffy. All four, well, I'm just gonna start to suck at everything then.

 I read this book a long time ago by Leo Buscaglia. It was called Love. There was a part in it that was about the broad based education in the school system, but I think it applies to a lot of different aspects of life. So he lays it out like this: there's this school in the forrest...Squirrels, birds, fish, turtles, rabbits, etc. The squirrels are great at tree climbing, birds excel at flying, fish at swimming, and so on. But then the broad based education is implemented. The fish has to learn to fly, the bird to tree climb, the squirrel to swim. All of the sudden the bird who used to get an A in flying is getting a C in flying because she broke her wing in tree climbing and she is still getting an F in swimming. My point: instead of doing one thing well I feel like I'm doing everything half ass. What to do? Honestly? I've got no ideas other than ride out the storm or drop one of the balls I'm juggling. 

At least I'm not bored, right?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Kid With The Best Mom

I am sure there are a lot of you out there that will say "I have the best mom ever".  I hope there are.  But I might fight you for the title - Kid With The Best Mom.

I was just three years old when my parents divorced.  I'm not gonna get into why they divorced and all that, let me just say that a lot of women might wallow, be bitter, and begin to settle for less than they deserve after something like that.  My mom decided to go to grad school.  We packed up and moved away from any family, just the three of us - me, my mom, and our dog.  I was just barely six years old, my mom was a whopping 27.  Looking back I am amazed at the bravery that must have taken.  I honestly don't think I could ever have done it.

We were poor.  Poor with a capital P!  But I never knew it.  Never even suspected it.  Not because she spoiled me or bought me things.  She just never ever let me see her worry.  Again, when I look back there were signs.  Like when you open the freezer and out spills 20+ balls of tin foil filled stuffed bell peppers because bell peppers were on sale 20 for a dollar that week and ground meat and onions are cheep stuffin'!  But at the time I just thought my mom really liked bell peppers!

My mom let me be a kid.  There are a lot worse things out there than being poor and having divorced parents - but if your parents handle it wrong those two things can be much harder than they have to be.  I didn't spend a lot of time with my dad... again, don't need to get into that too much here, but there were times when that was hard on me.  I didn't understand.  It would have been really easy for my mom to make digs at him, at the very least not defend him.  But she defended him every time.  Every single time.  Because she knew it was best for me.  How in the word did she know that at 20-something?  I had friends in high school whose parents talked all kinds of shit about their former spouse to their kid, in front of their kid, to their ex in front of their kid.  Its appalling!  I truly cannot emphasize enough how insanely important it is to never, ever, ever let your kid hear a single bad word from one parent about the other.  I'll get off my soap box now, that's not what this is about, but take it from a kid of divorce - it matters.

Now I'm 40 and my mom is a speech pathologist who hammers bangles and does post office runs for me on her days off.  We spend time together because we want to, not because we feel obligated.  I could tell a million stories that would qualify me for the above title but I don't need to.  As long as I know I have THE best mom and as long as I make sure she knows that I know - well, that's all the matters.

Happy Mother's Day Mom.  I love you.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

baking = medicine for the blahs

 I've had a serious case of the mean reds lately.  If you haven't seen Breakfast at Tiffany's...well, first, Why?  Second, go get it.  Now.  Third, the mean reds are this:

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak: The mean reds. You mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you're getting fat, and maybe it's been raining too long. You're just sad, that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid, and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?

For me it's this impending doom feeling mainly because it just seems like icky stuff keeps happening.  Not the worst of the worst, I haven't lost all perspective.  My uncle recently had a heart transplant AND stem cell replacement, so I know what real difficulty is.  Mine are just a series of things - getting an email from a couple who wants to return the dogs (dogS, plural!) they adopted from us eight years ago.  EIGHT years people!  WTF?  getting pneumonia, losing our sweet kitty.  Stuff that sucks on their own but when you string them together over two weeks time you get a case of the mean reds.
 Luckily I have a bit of a remedy.  I bake.  When I was younger I would wallow.  Now, I bake.  It just makes me feel better.  There is the obvious reason - eating.  Who doesn't like to eat when they are down?  But that's not even my main reason, albeit a lovely side affect.  For me it's the satisfaction of building something from scratch.  Baking is a precise process.  It's not like cooking where you can throw stuff together and taste, adjust, taste, adjust.  Not that cooking isn't it's own art - it certainly is!  Anyway, I like the step by step of it all.  It takes focus.  So when you've got a case of the mean reds, focusing on something else is always a good thing.

Then watching your efforts transform, smelling that yeasty aroma, seeing a small ball of dough rise up and over the top of its bowl, watching gooey batter become a spongey little cake...oh, it's just happiness for me.
 Look at those pretty soon-to-be cupcakes with all of their little specks of vanilla beans!  Is that not just joy in a paper wrapper?  Mmm mmm mmm!
 You can easily throw your happy quotient right over the top by adding in sprinkles.  Who can be sad or scared or angry or blue when you have piles of sprinkles in front of you?  Sure, it's not a long term fix.  But it does the trick for a little bit.  And one good way to drag out that good feeling is to give away the goodies you make.  As I type I have dough rising in the kitchen that will soon become: a few rolls for Tom, or as he likes to call them "vehicles for honey", cinnamon rolls, and a loaf of bread.  A good half of the cinnamon rolls are headed to a friend who is pregnant.  I don't know why, I just wanted to make her some cinnamon rolls.
 So seriously, you've never seen Breakfast at Tiffany's?  Man.  That movie was a huge for me.  And I will never forget the first time I saw it.  I had moved to Lubbock to go to school at Texas Tech.  I was down, missing my parents, all that first-time-leaving-home stuff.  The first night I was there one of my dear friends (who I have known since I was six and she was two) came to my dorm with a sleeping bag in one arm and Breakfast at Tiffany's in the other.  She set up her sleeping bag in between my bed and my roommates bed and we all plopped down and watched the movie.  It was awesome.  I can't really tell you why, except that it IS.  But it was just a feeling that everything was gonna be ok, that I wasn't alone.  I guess I wrap all those warm fuzzies up in my feelings about this movie.  Thanks for that Nat.

Just to wrap up.  When you are feeling blue or red maybe you need a friend or maybe you need to bake or maybe you need to bake for a friend.  But I can tell you this for sure - all of the above work way better than that angsty wallowing I used to opt for!