Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Viva & Vinny: The Whole Story

Several years ago at an Art is YOU retreat in Nashville I had the honor of meeting a woman who I had only read about & adored her artwork published in countless magazines & books.  A group of us artists loaded up on a van & traveled to the middle of no where......where A Place to Bark is situated in an idyllic setting with land as far as the eye can see.  Located on 25-30 acres of land sits A Place to Bark rescue which on an extra busy period houses slightly over 100 animals.  When I met Bernie I found her one of the most genuine of ladies I've ever met with one of the largest hearts I've ever seen.  Most days the rescue has volunteers but there's Bernie in the thick of it all. There's always so much work to be done but very little time. If everyone saw how hard Bernie works to save countless lives you'd be donating your coffee money ($10 unless you're a heavy drinker...ha) to this very worthwhile cause.  Bernie does what I can't do so I gladly donate for her to be able to save as many lives as possible.  To do this and do it right, you would have very little social/art life --Van was stunned to learn that Bernie didn't even own a television set!  Bernie has no time for TV.  Her mornings begin before dawn and end way after midnight.....and that's on a good day!  This is how I became to know Bernie and have donated to her rescue monthly without fail.  For the last 2 years my art club "Artistic Stampers" has had a Christmas in July where gifts are wrapped & brought by each club member. Members shout out happily out-bidding each other on the nicely wrapped packages to raise money for A Place to Bark. You'd be surprised at how much can be raised this way! 
My sweet chi, Subria died of congestive heart failure, Oct. 31, 2013
Although my heart ached for my sweet girl of 14 yrs, my Sammy grieved deeply.  I never realized how deeply dogs could "feel".  Van & I witnessed it first hand.  Sammy withdrew and was so lonely.  I reached out to Bernie and she took my hand.  Bernie is an extremely busy woman so between my schedule & hers, Dec. 17 of 2013 we arranged to meet up at a vets office to check out some dogs.  Van & I wanted a smaller statured dog, easier to bathe, pick up, etc.  We were introduced to Viva, a chi/fist mix and about 4/5 years old. She's been a blessing in so many ways.

Viva was NOT amused with the hat & boots.
Viva came home with us after Sammy decided she was the one he'd be able to play with & keep company with.  Sammy slowly emerged out of his grieving process to let Viva into his heart.  They began playing with each other & Sammy taught Viva many things, one of which was how to use the doggy door! 

April of this year we realized there was something wrong with Sammy. After doctors here in Jackson couldn't pin point his problem, I again called upon Bernie who again took my hand.  I met her wonderful vets at the Gallatin Animal Hospital in Nashville. After giving him a through exam which included: a full blood panel, ultra sounds, and state of the art xrays, the vet came in to tell us it wasn't good news. In fact the news was about as bad as it gets. Sammy had several huge cancer masses, one was almost as big as his bladder & the other mass was in his spleen. Vet said Sammy may have 6 months at most to live. Van & I were totally devastated. You always hope it's a problem that a month of medicine can cure but this cancer was extremely aggressive. As much as it hurt to watch Sammy use the bathroom we knew in our hearts he would never make it a month much less six. The spleen cancer is what the vet said would likely kill him if we didn't choose to let him go easily.  Bernie called me after leaving an animal control....I was so choked up I could barely talk to her. She had just left animal control (loaded up with precious lives who will LIVE because of Bernie) and was driving an hour out of her way to meet up with Van & I.....Bernie wanted to meet Sammy.  She did.  :-)  We couldn't take the chance on losing Sammy in a painful way so two weeks after this devastating news, we arranged to take Sammy to our vet to have put to sleep peacefully.  August 3, 2015, we took Sammy for his last squirrel run at Jackson State Community College.  We then headed to Hardees where we bought Sammy his very own burger which he loved woofing down....then it was time to work our way to the vet's office.  Sammy crossed over the rainbow bridge at 4:15 p.m. where I'm sure he was met by Subria, his little momma. He & Subria have been cremated & put on a shelf of family honor in our home.  They were amazing members to our families.  Never to be forgotten.

Sammy went to my work JSCC quite often to take a run at the squirrels.
Bernie reached out to me with this text: "Ronnie, when you are ready, I have a baby for you."   While my heart still aches deeply for Sammy, I knew Viva now needed a little partner to keep her company. Sept. 26 around 5 p.m. we arrived at "A Place to Bark" with some much needed items plus money to give to Bernie towards her rescue efforts.
A stop at SAMS in Nashville before heading to "A Place to Bark".
When Viva heard all the barking I'm sure she began having flashbacks of her time just before we adopted her. But she was a trooper!  Bernie had over 100 dogs & we just about met each one of them.  Some snapped at Viva, some didn't acknowledge her at all.  Then Bernie opened a gate to let one little dog out. Viva & he met up, tail to nose, tails began wagging fiercely.  Viva had made her choice.  We brought the little fella with us.
Thanks Bernie for taking this picture!
We stopped in Hermitage to stay the night. We were dead tired & it was raining. A precious friend of mine (my second daughter), Sherri Sickler, met us at the hotel with a kings feast of food. While the food was great....her friendship is priceless. We talked for what seemed like hours about art, pets, family.......the whole nine yards! If Van & I weren't so tired we could have talked another 2 hours! Sherri is our ice cream partner!  We rarely fail to eat ice cream somewhere when we hook up.
Sherri Sickler
Getting to know Daddy in the hotel.  Viva prairie dogging it for a treat. ha
In car heading to the hotel.

Van & pup were dog tired!  My two tired fellas.

Pups first night in a bed with Van.
This little barely 5 pounds of energy has been name VINNY.  He needed a big name to go with his big ego!

If you are able, please reach out & help an animal rescue in your area and if you can't find one, please donate to A Place to Bark--Bernie has several things in the works that will be AWESOME once in place.  She is wanting to build a Senior Animal House so she can separate the older dogs from the younger ones to live peacefully until adopted out. Most rescues struggle against tremendous odds yet they go forward to save millions of cats/dogs who will be put to sleep simply because some people don't care or they simply tire of taking care of their animals. Thing is....Animal Control is no place for any living creature. I'll end this with this last comment:  SPAY & NEUTER your animals so no unwanted litters will ever happen. If more folks took the time to do just this, there would be fewer unwanted & unloved animals in this world. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Precious Memories Mini Album for Jamie

Attending Trace Creek Crops provides me 24 solid hours of creating.  In July I bought the Graphic 45 paper packs along with all the chipboard pieces, etc. to work on my daughter's Baby/Accomplishment book. I will have pictures put in at random from birth to the present moment.....sort of a celebration of her life accomplishments.  The paper pack provides paper for both boy/girl so I'm currently working on my son's mini album as well!  A two-fer!  Gotta love that!  I'm going to add quite a few pages but I'm also going to include a YouTube link for you to actually SEE the album pages and how they work. Lot's of magnets in this album! I might also add that I got carried away with the page designs that the book will be a challenge to fill up with pictures & still be able to close to some degree. If you choose to see the video.....bear with me, it's my second ever but have been getting great advice from some experts in the field on shooting YouTube videos. The next one will not be hand held, I promise!  My inspiration for some of the pages (book cover design/envelope pocket pages/some pages themselves) came from Kathy Orta, who is an amazing book maker!

Above is the nice, it's only my second try at this....  :-)

Front of book

Not really sure if Jamie ever played with paper dolls so here's her chance!
Interactive, full of pockets & flip pages.

Magnetic top/bottom pages with side flips inside.
Opened up pages.

Jamie's name is stamped using Ken Oliver's alpha set. Loved them so much I bought an additional set for longer phrases!

Lots of picture options here!

More photo opts here.

Here I've added a small pocket to yet add more pictures!  Like I'm going to be able to close the book now as it is?

One of my simpler pages.

One of the more complex pages.

I found this somewhere on the web & loved it! The triangular piece slides upward to expose little journaling prompts.
It closes with a magnetic snap. 

Again, another kinda hidden pocket page. These small panels open with a tug as magnets keep them closed!

Little chipboard tags keep the pages closed until ready to open.

My little girl may be married but she'll always be a GOFF to us!

The fun is almost ready to begin as I'll get to fill these beautiful pages with snippets of her life.

Couldn't rotate this picture so just turn your head to view.  :-)
This is the magnetic slid UP to expose journaling prompts.

I'll be finding a baby picture to slide under the oval here.

Each page has a pocket in which to journal or add extra photos.
Since I've gotten this one so full, it'll probably contain journaling. 

One of my simpler pages.

I fussy cut these little paper doll outfits then created a pocket page.

Oh dear.....see video of this complex page.

If you've stayed with me throughout all these pictures & were tempted enough to view the video, God Bless You!  As I stated before, I'm currently working on my son's mini album. I hope to have both done by Christmas 2015!  I will fill up mostly but leave them room to finish up their life accomplishments as they far out-live me!  The Graphic 45 paper pack: Precious Memories is not glittered....I add Stickles glitter where you see the sparkles along with the front page containing Swarovski crystals. Now for my son's book.....not so much bling!  ha  Have it his way it'd be full of little skeletons!  I'd love to see your comments below!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ONE Year Anniversary: Dec. 17

Every story begins with: Once Upon a Time.........December 17, 2013/2014

Oh how to begin this this is the 4th time deleting & beginning yet again.  Our beautiful little long haired chihuahua, Subria, passed away after 14 loving years of friendship. Sammy, our handsome male dog we've had since he was a pup, mourned Subria death terribly. I never realized just how deep dogs can mourn until I saw it in person.  We knew he needed a playmate.

My precious Subria
I had always heard about Bernie Berlin, but never thought I'd actually meet this angel in person. She's uber talented in areas from writing books, beautiful Faberge eggs, Artist Trading Cards, mixed media artist, etc.  Like I said, Bernie is uber talented!  While at an Art is You Retreat in Nashville I had the pleasure of meeting Bernie and touring her rescue sanctuary, A Place to Bark.  As we toured the grounds, met the dogs & cats, saw the medical room, the compassion flowed out of Bernie as she cares & loves on the animals. I knew that day, I would support Bernie in any way I can.

Sammy helped pick out his playmate.
Shortly after Subria died I contacted Bernie to see about adopting one of her rescues. I checked around our area but couldn't find just the right one to join our family.  We didn't want a puppy as we wanted Sammy to have someone to play with right away.  After connecting with Bernie (takes a while as she's a very, very busy woman) we drove to meet up with Bernie.  At a vets office we met several dogs. Sammy met them as well, after all, it was going to be his playmate so he had a big part in helping pick out a mate.  We met several dogs but one stood out above the rest.  A funny striped face little girl. She was approx. 4-6 yrs old and would be fully able to handle Sammy at play.  

Meeting up with Bernie during a vet visit.
 Bernie selected Viva from a high kill animal shelter a day or so before she was to be put to death. She found out later after testing Viva tested positive for heartworms. You see, Bernie doesn't just select healthy young puppies all the time, she saves those who look to her to be saved. This is hard on Bernie's heart, to pick some knowing those she leaves behind will die. But one person can only do so much. It's donations from everyone that add up to pay the vet bills, etc.

Viva in my arms for the 2.5 hour drive home.
Viva was nervous. She was taken away from what she had learned to be home by total strangers. Bernie kept trying to tell me that Viva had this really cute little prairie dog stance...

Viva prairie doggin it.
Yes!!!  Bernie said as she saw this picture of Viva doing just what she said she could do but wouldn't in front of us at the vets office.  I might add, she KNOWS this works for so many good tasty treats!

Modeling one of my doggy ties.
Yes, again & again this stance gains her treats
As I stated before, Viva uses this stance on a regular basis.  ha

This little gem is a cuddle bug & a half!  It's very hard to get up when this is what you see laying next to you. But alas, we to get up.......with a groan or two (from us both).

Viva officially is heartworm free!  Heartworm can be easily prevented but due to neglect sadly heartworms exist and is a slow death to animals who are not treated.  All due to an infected mosquito bite. One preventative tablet once a month is all it takes to prevent this from happening.  I don't know what Viva's past was like but dogs, thankfully, live in the present.  They are able to forgive the unforgivable in most cases.  They love with all their body.  Sadly due to animal owners not spay & neutering their dogs/cats, unwanted litters of animals are born to suffer, many times at human hands. I deeply admire people like Bernie Berlin who takes it upon herself to make a DIFFERENCE in the lives of animals who would have been put to death simply because no one cared.

If you get a chance, please support an animal rescue. They need help badly as most are not funded except by those who care enough to donate.  If you would like to donate to "A Place to Bark" please do so. Your donations makes it possible for Bernie to save lives.  It's best way we can help.

From this day until Dec. 31, whatever you donate will be matched!
Whether a little or a lot, every amount matters to the lives without a voice.

I'll love my little rescued Viva & give her the best life possible until her time with us is done. I can't picture a life without this precious creature. Bernie, you have a piece of my heart always.....with every beat of Viva's heart, I thank you. Without YOU it would indeed be a sadder world to live in.