Best Shot Monday: Brownie

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Volunteering at an animal shelter can at times be a little sad and stressful; there would be nothing better than to see all those kennels empty because all those animals are in happy homes. But most times, for me at least, the shelter can be a very healing place. Nothing like a little loving on some pups to help your heart. I made it into the shelter for a bit one morning the week after my best friend died to do just that - spend a little time loving on some shelter pups to help sew my heart back up. 

This little gal, Brownie, was the only one I had a chance to photograph before it started raining that day, but she was the sweetest thing. She had some scarring from an embedded collar which you can just barely see in this photo, but she was just so full of love and affection. She reminded me about resilience. That's the thing about shelter dogs. For so many of them who come in as strays, we don't know their back story. For some who come in as owner surrenders or cruelty confiscations, we know some of their back story. But either way, who knows what they've really been through? Brownie had an embedded collar - frankly, to me it looks like it was a rope - so clearly she was not well cared for, yet she was still so clearly giving and seeking love to and from me. She was bouncing back, ready to jump back into life with a new family. There's a lesson in that for all of us, don't you think? Certainly was for me. Brownie is currently hanging out in a foster home waiting for her forever family. She's available for adoption through the City of Tallahassee Animal Service Center.  The shelter is currently open for adoptions by appointment!

Saying Goodbye to My Person

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I lost my best friend, Jim Phillips, a little over a week ago. When I’ve been trying to wrap my head around Jim’s death and thinking about how I could possibly share how special he was to me, I kept thinking about the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy when Meredith was talking about her best friend Alex (I know, crazy, right?). Alex was Meredith’s “person.” Silly as that sounds in a moment like this, that really sums it up for me. Jim was my person. He was the one I could count on for absolutely anything. My husband Benny has always referred to him as my “other husband,” so here we are in this top photo … me and my husband and my “other husband.”

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When I lost my mom over 20 years ago now, Jim was one of the first people Benny called because he knew I needed my person, and Jim was there the next morning. When my girls arrived seven weeks early by emergency c-section and spent a month in the NICU, Jim made a day trip over to see them while they were still in the NICU. He was my person and wanted to be one of the first people to meet my babies. He was the third, after only my husband and my dad. When Benny had his massive heart attack five years ago and I was driving back and forth between the girls in Tallahassee and Benny in Jacksonville, Jim was my person. The day I came back over to Tallahassee after Benny’s surgery to be with the girls, it was my birthday. When I pulled up to the house, Jim was waiting in the driveway and immediately put me back in the car to take me to Barnaby’s for pizza and a beer. Didn’t even let me change out of my grubby yoga pants, t-shirt and flip flops.
 
Through happy times and sad times, he's always been there. Late night poker games (which he always won because he was always changing the rules), super early morning meetings after late night poker games, trips with our students to New York, singing Smashmouth's All-Star at the top of our lungs with our students in the van on the way back from taking them bowling, trips with other advisors who were our best friends, losing our sweet Vee, who was like a mother to both of us ... my memories of him have been flooding through my mind non-stop like a highlight reel of our lives on fast forward. We’ve been the best of friends for more than 25 years, and I never imagined I’d be saying goodbye to him at only 55 years old.
 
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I last talked to Jim the day before we lost him. He called me that Thursday afternoon to tell me he was driving behind Livvie, who drives my 1999 Isuzu Trooper. Jim reminded me he’d know that Trooper anywhere because it has a dent in the roof from his butt, earned one night in the parking lot of the Doubletree Hotel in Tampa when he just had to rescue his parachuting Army Ranger guy off a wire it had gotten caught on. And we scheduled another lunch date; it was for this past Tuesday, the one lunch date he couldn't make. One of Jim’s greatest gifts was the ability to make everyone laugh, no matter the circumstances. He was the best friend, the best person, anyone could ever ask for. I am truly heartbroken for losing him …. and I am truly blessed for having had him in my life. At Jim's service this past Friday, one of his friends who eulogized him referred to the ripple theory of how dropping a pebble in the middle of a pond spreads ripples all the way out. He summed up Jim perfectly when he expanded that a bit. Jim was like a meteor going into the Gulf of Mexico. That was how big his ripple was. He always told me that anytime I nominated anyone for an award, they were guaranteed to win because I always wrote the best letters. These words can't possibly measure up to how special Jim was to me, to so many of us, but I hope he's reading them now and thinking I wrote another good one. Love you, Super Jim, my forever friend.
 
Please keep Jim's wife Vicky, kids Morgan and Mitchell, and all of us who loved him so dearly in your thoughts and prayers.

Best Shot Monday: Sharing a Little Magic

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Meet Magic!  I was so happy to see this fella get adopted this weekend. He's about 75 pounds of awesome.  Sometimes larger dogs like this, particularly, shall we say, enthusiastic, large dogs like this, wait a while to get adopted. Thankfully, Magic didn't have to wait as long as others. Can you imagine being cooped up in a kennel for nearly 24 hours a day? Next time you are considering adding a four-legged pal to your family, please considering adopting from your local shelter! Shelter pets truly do know they are rescued and return that love in spades! Magic was adopted from the City of Tallahassee Animal Service Center. 

For those of you new to my blog, thanks for stopping in! Yes, I am a multi-media artist, and my artisan jewelry, mixed media art journaling and handmade books are primarily what you'll find here, but I've also been a photographer for about 35 years, and for the past 10 years or so, have been training my lens on spotlighting shelter animals, usually on Mondays! 

Chunky Collaged Book with Handmade Book Club

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I created this fun little book during a one-day virtual retreat with my Handbook Book Club, led by Ali Manning at Vintage Page Designs. It was super fun. From start to finish, this chunky little book was created in about six non-stop hours. It's 4 3/4" by 3 1/4" and about 2" thick!

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There are 18 total signatures, each an individual folio that was made by cutting down large sheets of mixed media paper that I collaged before trimming to size. It's sewn with an Ethopian coptic binding. It's just plain fun to look at and to hold. I haven't decided if I'm going to add anything further to it, or just leave it as is. Thanks to Ali for a super fun day of creating.

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Week 8 - #100daysofuseitupkelly

Trying to get back in the grind of popping in here more regularly and catching up on sharing my 100 Day Project, called#100daysofuseitkelly.  Here's Week 8, days 50-56. I'll be featuring one or two of these projects in a little more detail later in the week. My favorite of the week?  My owl, of course!  I love this little guy and have used him multiple times. He's from a pack of napkins!  You can see all my 100 Day Project posts for this year on my Instagram account here, and you can learn more about the 100 Day Project here!

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Best Shot Monday: Sweetness

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Gosh, can't believe it's been a full four weeks since I've checked in here! Working through all this virus stuff really has me pretty discombobulated! I've been having a very hard time focusing through all this. Anyone else? Between working from home some days, going in to the office others, juggling all the work changes this has brought forth, and helping my girls navigate it all, these past six months have been quite the doozy. How are you managing? 

One source of consistency for me has been going to the shelter. I'm so grateful I've been able to keep this up through all this. While our procedures for volunteering have changed to adapt to state and local requirements, I'm still able to go in once a week, which has been a blessing. A good two or three hours with the shelter pups always lifts my spirits. And so many of these pups have been through so much, and yet can still throw out smiling happy faces like this one. Meet Sweetness. She is so aptly named! This gal is so sweet and loves nothing more than good snuggles and belly rubs. She's awkwardly playful, super goofy, about one year old and 36 pounds, and, as of this writing, available for adoption from the City of Tallahassee Animal Service Center. 

Support your local shelter!  Adopt. Volunteer. Foster. Donate. Educate. 

Missing my Best Pal

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I've really been having a hard time getting back into the groove for about a month now, and I've realized it's primarily because I just plain miss my Spartacus Pete. It's been about a month since we lost him. He always hung out with me in my art studio, and it's a bit lonely there without him. This photo of him sitting smack dab in the middle of my jewelry bench is one of my favorites, and it now sits on the shelf above my workbench so he can keep an eye on me. ⁣ ⁣ 

We adopted a new kitty today. We met her last week, and she just got spayed this morning for pick up. Her name is June, and I'll share pictures later. It was a tough decision, and I'm not sure my and Sarah's hearts were quite ready yet, but we've been worried about Zoey. Prior to his death, she'd never been without him and she's been a little depressed. Since the girls are going back to school tomorrow, we decided it was time to find her a new pal. ⁣I know with all the craziness going on in the world, the loss of a pet may seem a small thing, but I think all the craziness going on in the world made it an even bigger thing for me. Pete left a paw size hole in my heart. I know my pet lover friends understand!