Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Best Shot Monday: 17045 NW 11th Avenue


(So it's Tuesday...who's counting? And this isn't exactly a stunning photo, but it does have a story behind it.)   I was born in Miami. The best that I can remember, we lived in four different places in Miami before moving to St. Petersburg when I was in the middle of 5th grade. I can't really say why, but 17045 NW 11th Avenue is the address that's always stuck with me. I even remember my phone number from that house.

I was in Miami this past weekend for a Student Government conference, and curiosity got the best of me.  I wanted to see it. It's so funny how you remember things from your childhood being so much bigger than they actually were. The nearby landmarks that stuck out so clearly in my mind were an arch, kind of like the St. Louis Arch, and in my mind it was that big, and a Levitz furniture store. The arch was still there, right at the intersection of 826 and 12th Avenue, but it was a quarter of the size I remember it being. Levitz was no longer there, but the industrial area there did have a furniture, flooring and building supply vibe to it. When I was a child, the area just to the north of 826 at the south end of our street was a big open field. It was full now, with a hotel and more industrial buildings.

But as soon as I made the turn onto the street, there it was, the second house on the right, right where I remembered it. And there was the Hunter's house across the street, and Timmy Taylor's house next door. I remember there being a big tree to the left of the sidewalk in our yard, but it was not there. Not sure if it ever was.  The house was so much smaller than I remembered it being. The neighborhood itself has held up pretty well as far as old neighborhoods like this go. Throughout the neighborhood, there were bars on all the windows and doors, but at least more than half of the yards and homes looked fairly well kept. The elementary school was still at the end of the street, though I wasn't allowed to go to that school. This was in the early to mid 1970's, so busing was in full force in Miami. Kids in my neighborhood were bused to a school on the other side of town, so my parents put me in a private school nearby, Northwest Christian Academy.  Looking back now, I have no idea how they afforded private school, but I'm glad they did. I have good memories from that school (including being sent home because I wore pants instead of a dress one day ... a rebel from an early age), and I still have my 4th grade NWCA yearbook.


I've often heard it said that most parents dream of their kids doing better than they did. My mom's been gone nearly 16 years now, but she was doing pretty well financially in the years before she died, though obviously, she's a prime case of money not buying happiness. My dad's doing fine and still living in South Florida. My sister Kim and I had the opportunity to go to college right out of high school, something my dad didn't have the opportunity to do. My mother went straight into nursing school, Nana and Granddaddy sending her up to Miami from their home in Key West, where my mom was born and raised. Kim and I are now both fiercely independent.  While we had our parents help for our undergraduate degrees, I put myself through grad school and Kim put herself through a post-bachelor's advanced certification. We both now have happy, healthy families.

Our life experiences certainly make us who we are, whether we choose to take the best lessons from them or not. I took both good and not-so-good memories from 17045 NW 11th Avenue and hope I've made the best of them. As I've said many times before, I believe happiness is a choice and I try to make that positive choice every day.  Moving around so much when I was younger, I've wanted to keep a strong sense of home as I've become an adult and started raising my own family, which is why our move to Tallahassee was so hard on me and probably part of the reason I'm not sure I'll ever be fully grounded here.  "Home" will always be back in Jacksonville, in the home we built and raised our girls in and will go back to for retirement.  But I'm trying. I'm getting involved here. I've found an animal rescue to work with and I've accepted a position as a chapter advisor for my college sorority.  We're slowly growing some roots here on Wild Rose Way, though the deepest roots will always be thriving on Heckscher Drive.

*I first wrote of 17045 NW 11th Avenue in this post if you want to read it. Be forewarned, it's an emotionally revealing post, but a story I needed to share.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Meet Farrah


Well, I've finally hooked up with a rescue for which I can photograph dogs in Tallahassee! Meet Farrah! We first met Farrah when the girls volunteered with Tallahassee Big Dog Rescue back in September. When we came back to volunteer again, I promised I'd bring my camera. Farrah is obviously a gorgeous girl. Look at that face! She was quite a good poser for the camera as well. She pulled a bit on her leash and needs to learn some leash manners, but she is eager to please and loves to settle down on the grass and stretch out.

Here's what Farrah's foster mom has to say about her: "Total sweetness describes this baby. She had a rough past, found starving, torn up, with skin issues, heartworm positive and the list goes on. You would never know it now. She is at an ideal weight, with a gorgeous full coat of fur, heartworm negative and so full of love. She gets along with dogs and cats. She loves to play and will need to go to a home with another dog for her to play with or you will need to be active and want a jogging buddy!"

Tallahassee Big Dog Rescue (TBDR) is a private, non-profit rescue dedicated to rescuing as many dogs from abuse, abandonment, euthanasia and natural disaster as possible. I love their slogan: "We rescue big dogs, dogs who think they are big, and cats!"  Visit their website to read more about them and see other animals they have available for adoption.

It's very different volunteering with a small private, non-profit rescue like TBDR as compared to a large city organization like my home shelter, Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services. While the mission is the same -- save as many animals as possible -- the approach is very different by necessity.  I'm still planning on getting into the Leon County shelter as well to see if I can help out there. And of course, I try to make it into ACPS every time we are home! ACPS will always be home. For now, I'm happy I can help TBDR as often as I can. You can see more dogs I photographed for TBDR in this Flickr album.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

2015 Documented Life Project: Week 20

Documented Life Project - Week 20

Week 20's challenge for the Documented Life Project was to use modeling paste. I've discovered that modeling paste works similar to the very thick gesso I used on these books in Albie's class at An Artful Journey back in 2011. What fun! On these pages, I started by laying down some color with spray inks and then stenciling on some modeling paste flowers.

Documented Life Project - Week 20

After the modeling paste dried, I went over the flowers with gelatos to give them more color and then finished up the spread with more stenciling, mark making and pen work. Check out all my 2015 Documented Life Project pages here and see everything the Art to the 5th gals have going on here! (Want to see my 2014 Documented Life Project book? Click here.)

Documented Life Project - Week 20

Monday, November 2, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Meet Mr. Big

Mr Big_A924150

This handsome boy is Mr. Big. Sweet Mr. Big and Velvet are currently Animal Care and Protective Services two longest residents. I love both of these dogs and have photographed each several times now.  Shelter staff believe Mr. Big is a three-year-old gray and white American Pit Bull Terrier.  He is a super great boy and a big hunk of love waiting patiently for his forever family.  We think he may do best as an only dog but, with him, that's more than enough to love.  He loves to take walks, is very smart, and learns quickly, especially when treats are involved!  He walks well on his leash, and he sits for treats. Each time that I have photographed him, he's been the perfect handsome model.

Can you believe this awesome boy has been in the shelter since April 16? That's more than six months. And yet, amazingly, it hasn't broken his spirit. He patiently sits in his kennel, holding his Kong in his mouth, just waiting for someone to come see him, take him outside and see how wonderful he truly is. Do you have room in your heart and your home for this big sweet hunk of love? He's available for adoption at Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services. His ID number is A924150.

Mr Big and Kelly

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

2015 Documented Life Project: Week 19

Documented Life Project - Week 19

Can you say "fallen off the wagon?" Alas, yes, I am dreadfully behind on the Documented Life Project. With our official move to Tallahassee in August, I've not yet had time to get my studio fully back up and running, so I've not spent a lick of time in this journal. And yet I still have pages I haven't shared! This is Week 19. The challenge was "stitching" and the journal prompt was "All that I'm after is a life full of laughter."

Documented Life Project - Week 19

As I mentioned in my last DLP post, my sewing machine has been out of commission, so instead of even tackling hand-stitching, I used this series of stamps (which if I remember correctly are from Roben-Marie!) to act as my stitching. I do remember painting the girls hands to place them on the pages. They took the opportunity to put hand prints several other places as well. I hadn't even paid attention to the journal prompt when I decided to put the girls hand prints on the pages and "stitch" them together, but through sheer serendipity, the prompt already fits my life with these girls every day. They certainly keep me laughing!

Documented Life Project - Week 19

This was Mother's Day week so it was the perfect week to be filled with laughter. We spent Mother's Day morning at the beach and then came home and snuggled on the couch watching movies all afternoon.  See more of my 2015 Documented Life Project posts here and check out what all the Art to the 5th gals have going on here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jessica Brogan's Inspirational Card Deck Swap: Done!

Last year when I received my card deck in the mail from Jessica Brogan's Inspirational Card Deck Swap, the redheads immediately went rummaging through, trying to steal all the cards I received! So this year, I told them that if they wanted to receive cards, they had to make their own deck to send to others!

Sarah's cards for Jessica Brogan's card deck swap

Above are some samples from Sarah's deck. She went with a fun quote stamp that said, "If you are feeling blue, try painting yourself a different color." Love that!

Olivia's cards for Jessica Brogan's card deck swap

Above are some samples from Olivia's deck. The stamp quote she chose is "Count your rainbows, not your thunderstorms." Good message for my emotional girl.

Kelly's cards for Jessica Brogan's card deck swap.

And lastly, here are samples from my deck. I stuck with our family awesomeness theme with a "Stay Awe Some" stamp I found on Etsy. If you'd like one of your own, it was created by A Sensible Habit. This is my second time participating in this swap, and I can't wait to see what little beauties arrive back in my mailbox! Here are the cards I created last time around.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Wild Rose and Continuing to Adjust

Wild Rose 
It's been five weeks since I've stopped in here! I need to get back to blogging! We are still adjusting to our big life change, adapting to life in Tallahassee and making trips home when we have the opportunity (and, yes, Benny has more opportunity than the girls and I do!). My creative side hasn't had time for much of an outlet, but I did grab my camera for a little walk the other day and found this little beauty in our neighborhood. I was playing with a very wide aperture, thus the very short depth of field on this pretty little wild rose. The image was made with a Nikon D7100, 35mm, f1.8.

"Adjustment" is still the constant word of the day for us. The girls are doing great, no question there, and we're enjoying their ability to play in our cul-de-sac with the neighborhood kids. They certainly can't do that at home on Heckscher Drive. Benny's continuing to adjust to his new role as stay-at-home dad. He's working on starting a small business to do some handyman work to keep him busy. I'm still pushing through, though I'll admit it seems that most days I'm having the hardest time making the adjustment. Good Lord, do I miss being on campus.

I had lunch with a very close friend last week who helped me talk through my struggles getting adjusted, and he had some pretty good advice. He reminded me that in less than a year, I've left the home I love, left the college I'd been at for 22 years, sold my vehicle (and he took the opportunity to remind me that I get more attached to my cars than the average person, thus the fact that all our vehicles have names....is that a problem?) and set up life in a new town. I think what's surprised me the most is that I didn't expect it to feel so weird living in Tallahassee. After all, I spent six years in college here. It's not like I don't know and love the town!! So his advice was time. It'll just take time and making some connections here.

To that end, I went to a Chi Omega function last week for which local alumnae were asked to come have dinner with all the new members. We had about a dozen alums there and 90 new members! I really enjoyed my conversations with the young women at my table and hope to get more involved with our local chapter. That'll give me my student fix again.  Now I just need to get into the animal shelter here!  Have a great week!  I hope to get back to posting regularly this week!