Best Shot Monday: Persimmon


Meet sweet Persimmon. Among lots of favorites, she holds my number one spot at the shelter right now. Her life before the shelter was (to put it lightly) rough. She came to the shelter in October, and it was clear she was accustomed to not knowing when her next meal was coming. She was mostly hairless, after years of flea infestations and allergies to fleas had taken their toll. She had clearly birthed more puppies than seems reasonable. She was just thrilled to get a blanket and a cot and meals and water every day. As the days went on, she started to learn that people were to be trusted, and we started to see her affectionate side. After 8 years, she was finally getting all the love she needed. The stress of kennel life started to get to her, and to ease her frustration, she made her way into a foster home where she learned what it’s like to have a home and someone who cares for her. Her former foster mom says she is "Always happy and prances around" and she "Loves getting petted, taking naps, and doesn’t mind clothes or baths." Don't let her age fool you - this eight year old, 62 pound girl has a LOT of life left in her, and enjoys a good long walk along with good long naps. I took the top photo on April 18, and the bottom one on January 14, when we first met. She needs her forever and has been waiting for a while for it. Are you her hero? ⁣If you are, I want visiting privileges. She's available for adoption through the City of Tallahassee Animal Service Center.


Snapdragons and Crazy Brains


Funny story behind this journal I finished up yesterday regarding how my brain works. Comically, I have this theory that I can clean up my studio by finishing up projects. This never works. Why? Because my brain has a tendency to go down rabbit holes pretty quickly. I had been saving my Dove soap boxes to create some tiny journals like this one and decided I could use up some of the off cut paper on my table to make signatures for those tiny journals. I had several signatures all folded and ready to go when I remembered some graph paper I had that would be a nice addition to the signatures. I just knew that graph paper was in one of the cubbies over there under my laptop. Searching for that paper, I found the paper I used in this journal, but we aren't nearly there yet.


I came across this box of Fabriano Artistico folded cards that I'd had for years and had yet to use, so I pulled that box out and started folding a few sheets to see how it would work together for signatures. Beautifully!  I folded a few and then remembered that I had sat down on the floor actually looking for the graph paper for the tiny journals, so I sat that box down and set those few signatures aside and went back to looking for the graph paper. In one of the cubbies on the other side, I didn't find the graph paper, but I did find some books I had picked up from Goodwill that I thought would make good junk journals. But really, I'd had them for a while and they were in great shape and I did have a garage sale coming up, so maybe I should just put them in the garage sale ... so I proceeded to take all the pricing stickers off those and set them in a pile for the garage sale. Oh, right!  Graph paper, I was looking graph paper!  Oooh!!! Then I came back across the more than 100-year-old Bible I picked up at a neighborhood garage sale for $3. (Of course, I had to rescue it.) It was in pretty bad shape, but I figured I could clean it up and maybe even find its rightful owner.  Holding it in my hands again (graph paper, what graph paper?), I decided that at that moment, it was about dang time I did something with that Bible. So on a whim, I grabbed some scissors and trimmed down the cover where it had separated to just clean up the edges a bit thinking, hmmm, maybe I could fashion a new cover out of Kraft-tex.  I cleaned her all up and then started flipping through it again, and I came back across the memorial notice of one Paul Taylor who passed away at the age of 74 in 1954 in Deland. Tucked in with dear Paul's memorial notice, a family member had included some newspaper clippings and his obituary. Among other family members, Paul left behind daughter Helen Milliken of Tallahassee. Aha!  Perhaps that's how the Bible ended up in a garage sale in Tallahassee.


So off to Google I went to try to find Helen Milliken of Tallahassee. Of course, dear Paul was 74 when he died, so Helen was likely in her 50s then - in 1954 - so unless Guinness missed her as the oldest living human, she was no longer with us. But that did not stop me!  Maybe I could find dear Helen's obituary and find other members of her family still in Tallahassee. But alas, I could not find Helen Milliken of Tallahassee.  But hey!  Helen Milliken of Michigan, she's done some stuff!  She was the First Lady of Michigan Governor William Milliken and quite the political force in her own right! This Helen was the longest-lived First Lady in Michigan history, living to 99 years old and first lady for 14, and was a women's rights activist and environmentalist. During the 1970's, she was one of the leading proponents of the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Equal Rights Amendment had been passed by the United States Congress in 1972 and was ratified by thirty-five states, including Michigan, in the next few years.. When the 1980 Republican National Convention, held in Detriot, removed language supporting the ERA from the convention platform, Helen, still First Lady of Michigan at the time, boycotted the convention's opening ceremony to attend a pro-ERA protest. You go, Helen! Thank you! (and thank you, Wikipedia, for that nugget.)  

Well, since I could not find Helen Milliken of Tallahassee, I put the Bible back in its cubby for now. I had completely forgotten about the graph paper at this point, so I sat back on the floor and created more signature with that yummy Fabriano Artistico paper I found. And three days later, I finished this journal.  I still haven't found the graph paper, nor made any further progress on the tiny journals, nor cleaned up my studio. But I did finish this journal. I'll keep you posted on the Bible rehab! 

Saying Goodbye to our Sweet Molly


We had to say goodbye to our sweet Molly yesterday. We knew this day was coming, but that never makes it any easier. We could tell she really wasn't feeling well last weekend when we were home in Jacksonville, but she started declining rapidly early this week. By yesterday morning, she had not eaten anything since early Wednesday and was having labored breathing. When she wouldn't even take a Pupperoni, I knew it was time.


We adopted Molly from The Jacksonville Humane Society in December 2009. We had to foster her first because she had a broken leg, but once her leg was fully healed, she was fully ours. JHS staff's best guess was that she had been thrown out of a moving car because she had quite a bit of road rash along with her broken leg, but none of the internal injuries you'd likely see in a dog that had been hit by a car. Until her very last days, she was always very selective in who she trusted and rarely trusted men. A few years after adopting her, I learned by her ID number paperwork that she actually started her journey to us at Jacksonville's Animal Care Protective Services, my long time volunteer home, and then had been transferred over to JHS.


The girls and I had actually selected another dog from JHS, but when Benny came in with us to meet that dog, Molly had been placed in the kennel just below the other dog. And she was quiet. That was the key for Benny. All the other dogs were barking, but Molly was just quietly laying their watching us. Now granted, she was injured and scared, so truly, that's likely the real reason she was quiet, but that didn't matter. But lo and behold, once Molly was home with us, feeling better and settling in, we learned that she was actually quite the gifted talker ... and singer ... and howler. Isabelle was two when we adopted Molly, and they became fast friends. Isabelle was the perfect big sister, even staying downstairs with her when she realized Molly could not navigate the stairs with her cast. They were inseparable from the beginning. Molly remained shy and hesitant around strangers her whole life, and she followed Isabelle's lead in just about everything except that - Izzy never met a stranger. But once Molly decided you were okay, she loved you with her whole little wiggly body and her helicopter tail.


Molly's grief when Isabelle passed was really something to see. Along with our own grief of losing 'Belle, watching Molly grieve her was even more heartbreaking. I knew in my heart that she would not last long without her, and sure enough, she only lasted about six months. She was already really spoiled, but we ramped that up when Izzy passed and then ramped it up even more when we got her leukemia diagnosis. Benny got a little poetic with us in a text yesterday, saying she came into our lives knowing the hate of another human but left this world knowing so much love from us. I can only take solace in knowing that she's back with her best pal now, and she and Isabelle are running around with no pain, chasing bunnies and butterflies and teaching all the other dogs how to sing and howl with abandon. Run free, sweet Molly. We are blessed to have been your family. We love you so very much.

Christmas 2010
My thanks again to the amazing Dr. Diana Brown at Bradfordville Animal Hospital, who helped Molly make her way to the Rainbow Bridge to wait for us. We've lost three furry family members in the last year and a half - Pete, July 30, 2020; Isabelle, August 26, 2021, and Molly yesterday - and Dr. Brown was with us for the passing of each. I'm glad that Olivia chose to go with me and Molly yesterday because I knew Dr. Brown would help her feel better, and that she did. She is a gifted vet. There have been very few times in my life that I have not had a dog by my side. I know we'll welcome a new one or two home at some point, but for now, having lost two so close together, our hearts need to mend a little bit first. Our cats Zoey and June are going to be getting a lot of extra love. Jester June will love this; the magnificent Queen Zoey, not so much.

Guest Artist for Vintage Page Designs

All Buttoned Up-3

Hey there! I was invited to be a guest artist for the upcoming 5-Day Journal Challenge with Ali Manning's Vintage Page Designs. That meant I got early access to the videos! Here's my interpretation of the book. The challenge starts on March 7, and you can sign up on Ali's website here. Don't worry if you've never made a journal before! Ali is an amazing teacher, and she'll break it down for you step by step. This is a great structure to start with as it's not very complicated. Of course, adding beads and bling will be completely up to you!

All Buttoned Up-2

All Buttoned Up-1

Best Shot Monday: Commander Rex and Peanut

Good Lordy, Happy New Year! I can't believe it's been six months since I've checked in here! My brain has been pretty scattered for a bit with everything I'm juggling.  I'm hoping the new year will help me reset! Trying to get back into the swing of things with a regular schedule. We'll see how I do! 

Commander Rex_A194415

I've still been volunteering at the shelter as a photographer, so at least that's been my constant!  I had the pleasure of meeting these two week before last. Commander Rex, above, and Peanut, below, came into the shelter together as owner surrenders when their owner lost his home and chose to bring them in. This happens more than people may realize, and it's so important to remember that shelter pets end up in the shelter for so many reasons. The shelter is not just full of stray animals.  These two are amazing, and thankfully they both got adopted quickly and will do fine in separate homes, but sometimes it takes a bit longer, particularly for older dogs like these two. There are so many amazing animals in your local shelter. Please considering adopting! And if you can't adopt, there are so many ways to help ... volunteer, foster, donate, help educate! 


Tiny Journal for Tiny Art - Made from?

Tiny -1

I had so much fun working in my tiny journal that I decided to make another, this one out of a Dove soap box! I've been making journals from upcycled cereal boxes for years, so why not go tiny with a soap box! And I've been a Dove girl for as long as I can remember! I haven't started working in this yet, so far now it's just sitting pretty on one of my shelves.

Tiny - 2

Isabelle: The Best Girl Ever

Thanks everyone for all the texts and calls checking in on me and Isabelle. I didn't have the strength to pop in to Facebook yesterday with an update because we had to say goodbye to our sweet 'Belle late yesterday afternoon. She had developed a severe case of peritonitis that, at her age, she just couldn't fight. She was in so much pain with no hope of recovery, so we and Dr. Brown helped her cross over to wait for us at the Rainbow Bridge.
I've had many dogs over my years, but my girl 'Belle was really my heart dog. We've been through some challenging times over her 14 years with us, and there's been many a night when what soothed me best was curling up with Isabelle in her bed. I adopted her as a puppy from one of my students who was trying to train her to be an epilepsy service dog, and she just didn't have the right skill set for that. But she did have the skill set to be the most loving companion we could ever ask for. She was two when we adopted Molly as a puppy from The Jacksonville Humane Society. Molly had a broken leg when we adopted her, and it didn't take Isabelle long at all to realize that Molly couldn't run up the back deck steps with her because of her cast, so 'Belle stayed downstairs with Molly until her cast came off. 
Christmas 2010
She was a gentle, tolerant and accommodating mama to our all Animal Care and Protective Services foster kittens and occasional foster dogs. When we were first fostering Zoey, our first foster failure, Zoey loved Isabelle from the get go. One night once the dogs had already gone to bed in their crates, I let the foster kits, including Zoey, out to run around and play a bit. When I was ready to put them to bed, I initially couldn't find Zoey. I walked around the corner, and she was so tiny that she had squeezed her little self right through the bars of Izzy's crate and sat there perched next to her. Isabelle looked at me like, "Mama, please get her out of here. I can only take so much before she really starts to look like dinner." Till the very end, Zoey loved her Isabelle.
She's been a fierce and loyal protector of her family, being sure to chase off all the marsh rabbits that could have hurt us, and she's been every visitor's favorite pup. Here in Tallahassee, she even sat in on all of our Chi Omega Advisory Board meetings that I've hosted, happily accepting butt scratches and treats, though she sometimes interrupted our conversations with her snoring.
I'm reminded of that old story about a family who had to say goodbye to their trusted pal. When the vet said he just didn't know why dogs couldn't live longer, the little boy had the answer. He said that God puts us all on this earth to learn how to love one another. Dogs are already so much better than we humans are at that so they don't have to stay as long. Isabelle was 65-70 pounds, depending upon how many treats she talked me out of, of rock solid, 100% love. She's really been the best girl, and we will miss her so very much. Please keep our family, and Molly, who's never known life without her big sis Izzy, in your prayers. God speed, sweet 'Belle. We'll see you at the Bridge. Many thanks to Dr. Diana Brown at Bradfordville Animal Hospital for helping us guide yet another of our furry family members over to the Bridge. We really must stop meeting like this.