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I’m Back …!

Knock, knock … is anyone out there?

I apologize for my absence.

I’ve had a lot to deal with lately and I’ve just been trying to COPE.

(See my last post if you don’t know what I’m referring to.)

So, let’s get caught up.

We’re having a BIG heat wave here.

Fred and Frank are being kept inside with the air conditioning on.

(Newfies are NOT hot weather animals and can’t be in extreme heat.)

On Saturday night I went on my first “real” shoot since Surgeries #10 and #11.

I had to leave Fred at home because of the heat.

(Fred was not happy.  It’s his job to HELP me!)

Regardless, I was ecstatic to be back to work.

I can’t put into words my JOY.

I was very careful …

I wore the brace my arm is still in, I kept my shot count to 500 (which is really low for me), and I used my left arm to do as much of the work as possible.

I couldn’t stop smiling – !!

It was like reclaiming a small part of my soul.

And …?

Oh, what an evening to shoot!

Golden Hour – The time of day when photographers begin showing up!

I’d been keeping “an eye on the sky” all day.

I knew weather conditions were perfect for debuting my “new” arm.


Once I arrived, I spent some time scouting out locations, and waiting for the sun to drop.

I never mind the waiting … it’s like my play time before the real shots.

And …?

The “real shots” were really worth waiting for this time.

Sunset Perfection!

As I’d both hoped and expected, it was a spectacular sunset.

I don’t think I would have minded even if it wasn’t.

I was just so happy to be out shooting again.

Yes, my arm was sore afterward but that was not a surprise.

My arm is still healing and it will take MONTHS.

It was reasonable soreness … not the teeth clenching pain I used to live with daily.

It was a great first outing and I’m confident it will only improve in time.

YAY!!!

(And isn’t it nice to have a little good news since there’s been so much BAD lately?!)

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Monday Morning

Let’s all hope for a better week this week, okay?

I’m still reeling, and emotionally exhausted, from the brain cancer diagnosis in our family last week.

(And, there has been brain surgery already also!)

But,  on a positive note, Fred is healthy again.

I’ve been trying to take a few quick videos of him and/or Frank for social media.

Most of my dog stuff goes up on Instagram or Snapchat (suzannehaggerty) if you enjoy seeing the pups.

Of course, I do post dog stuff here and on Facebook also … just not quite as often.

By the way, if you’re new to Snapchat (like I am!) and you’re wondering how to find people you share interests with,

Try downloading the app GhostCodes.

It helps you find people on SnapChat who share your interests.

For example, I listed my interests as photography, travel, art, and dogs.

I’ve been officially cleared for light shooting, so if there aren’t any new disasters in my family this week, I hope to get a little shooting time.

The weather here has been very grey, JUNE GLOOM, which doesn’t make for great beach and/or sunset photography.

Instead, I think I’ll concentrate on photographing everyday items.

I have to start slow, and I still can’t carry a gear bag, anyway.

My goal was to have doctor approval to begin shooting by the 1st of July, so I’m quite happy to have gotten “conditional approval.”

I’ve been playing with a little mixed media art in my altered book project, but with all the family stuff going on I haven’t gotten far.

It’s a new week, and I hope a better one.

Deep breath!!

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Stress, Stress, And More Stress?

Wow, my family seems to be getting hammered by the universe this year.

We’ve had some really huge challenges to face, and they just keep coming.

I’ve chosen not to blog about most of these things.

Tuesday evening a close relative was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma and is in surgery today.

Just when you think nothing else can go wrong …?

This will be another thing I won’t be blogging about, other than mentioning it in passing today.

I really need a big dose of GOOD NEWS in my life.

On a positive note, I think Fred is going to be okay.

I had a very scary couple days with him.

He stopped eating, he became unresponsive, etc., etc.

But, Fred and I spent a good chunk of yesterday with Dr. Berry (a neurologist)  at Southern California Specialty Veterinary Hospital.

Dr. Berry was excellent – I was very impressed.

The hospital itself doesn’t handle “normal” vet stuff like vaccines, etc.

They have a cardiologist, orthopedic surgeon, ophthalmologist, and neurologist working there … along with other types of specialty veterinarians.

They deal with emergencies and/or specialties regular vets don’t.

Our “regular” vet referred Fred there as an emergency case.

Dr. Berry spent a lot of time with Fred … even going for a walk with us outside so he could observe Fred walking, turning, etc.

The good news is Dr. Berry feels he’s ruled out the scary stuff.

He made some adjustments to the medications Fred had already been given, and Fred seemed to respond positively within eight hours.

I can’t say Fred is healed/normal/one hundred percent yet.

But, he is much improved over a day ago and that is very good news.

Hopefully, as he continues on medication, resting, etc., he will improve quickly.

I’ve cancelled everything for this week except for PT.

The rest of my week will be devoted to caring for Fred,

And, of course, our family as we face a very serious crisis.

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Worried About Fred

My gentle giant, Fred, is hurt.

I had planned a “real” post, but instead I just stopped by to let you know I’m spending every minute taking care of Fred right now.

I took Fred to the vet yesterday, but they can’t figure out what’s wrong with him.

I don’t know how Fred got hurt, but he began “crying” late Monday night.

Because he’s crying, we know Fred is in pain.

We don’t know what is causing his pain.

The vet checked over every inch of Fred and he never exhibited pain while a particular body part was being checked.

But, I think Fred was faking being well for the vet.

Fred is very smart that way.

Fred is back at home with me at the moment.

He’s on anti-inflammatories and pain meds.

He seems to be crying less so I hope the anti-inflammatories are working.

If he doesn’t improve today, he’ll be back in to see a vet again this afternoon – at the latest.

I’m worried sick about him, of course.

Hearing an animal cry, and not being able to help them, is one of the most helpless feelings imaginable.

Obviously, I still haven’t made a dent in my emails – and, again, I apologize.

I’ll try to get them as soon as I can.

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Monday Madness

I’m up in Los Angeles today for a follow-up with my shoulder surgeon.

I wanted to give a couple quick, random, updates while I’m gone.

•  For the puppy followers – Frank weighed 46.5 pounds at his 16 week check-up on Saturday.  The vet pronounced him “a perfect puppy.”  Fred weighed 56 pounds when he was 16 weeks, but we all know Fred is super-sized even by Newfie standards. (Frank is on the smaller size, but he’ll probably be average-ish once he reaches adulthood.)

•  If you’re one of the bazillion people I owe an email to right now, I apologize.  I hope to be caught up on email at some point this week.  My email situation is out of control right now.

•  I’m now on Snapchat.  I was on Snapchat before, but I deleted it.  This time around, I’m going to make an attempt to actually use it.  It’s really not fun without friends, so if you’re on Snapchat ALSO …. my username is suzannehaggerty and/or my code is:

Snapchat © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

Snapchat me!

Snapchat has definitely gotten better than when I looked at it as an early adopter.

And, let’s be honest, I’ve barely played with it even now, so I don’t really know what I’m doing.

But, I do like the spontaneity of it.

I like taking a random iPhone photo/video and adding it to my “story” for the day.

I like seeing other people’s stories too.

I don’t like the people who are on it nonstop all day every day.

(Because really?  No one is THAT interesting except to themselves.)

It’s fun to get glimpses, however, into people’s real lives vs. the more polished lives people present on other forms of social media.

I also like receiving/sending random snaps to and from family members and friends.

Snapchat has evolved and I think I like the direction it’s going in.

If you don’t use it yet, maybe you should download the app and give it a try?

I’m just getting started with it, but in the future I imagine I’ll “snap” while out on shoots, share some videos of the Newfies, beach life, art projects, travel, and some of the ridiculousness of Orange County.

I might even share a little of my today, up in Los Angeles, with you ….

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Summer in OC!

It was 90F/32C at my house yesterday.

It’s expected to be even warmer this weekend.

Summer has arrived in Orange County!

I’m taking baby Frank to visit the vet this weekend for his 16 week shots/puppy check-up.

I’m curious to see how much he weighs.

I’m guessing he’s about 44 pounds?

I’m sure he’ll be in the pool swimming a lot (trying to keep cool!) this weekend.

I plan to check with Paul Newman to see if I can try a brief swim myself if I’m extra careful with my arm.

I’ve been taking more photos with my “big” camera … just a few each day.

I’m ridiculously excited I’m able to shoot again – even if I have to start slow.

Peonies … possibly my favorite flower!

I want to incorporate photography into my altered book/art journal so I’ve been taking photos of a few of my art supplies.

McCalls © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

A 1933 McCall’s Women’s Magazine I’m using in my altered book.

I love old books/magazines.

I could become a serious hoarder of stuff like that … if only I had room for it!

Instax © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

My Instax mini 90 camera.  

My Instax camera is lots of fun for parties/social get togethers.

You can have guests take a photo with the guest of honor, and then put the photos directly into an album right then.

Guests can write their happy birthday/congratulation notes under their photo.

It makes for a great keepsake/gift.

I’ve also begun using it for quick, instant, shots for my art journal/altered book.

Pentel Art Brushes © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

Pentel Art Brushes – 18 colors of fun!

I love, love, LOVE, my Pentel Art Brushes (Fude Brush Pens, 18 color set).

The ink colors are vibrant and perfect.

The brushes are fantastic, and the pens are refillable which make them worth every penny.

I use them DAILY … and not necessarily for “art.”

Yes, I have a crush on them.

It’s perfectly normal to have a crush on a set of pens, right?

Cameras, vintage magazines, art brush pens ….

It’s all normal, right?

I hope you have a great weekend.

Stay cool if you’re local – it’s going to be a hot one!

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June 2016!!

How can it be JUNE already?

I hope all my U.S. readers had a great, safe, Memorial Day weekend.

My son was here visiting for a week, but he’s now returned to college.

I’m back at physical therapy with Paul Newman today.

(Such a disturbing jolt back to reality!)

Today marks four weeks since my elbow surgery, and eleven weeks since my shoulder surgery.

Every week that goes by I feel a little better than the last – which is pure awesomeness!!

I took a handful of photos with my “big” camera over the weekend and IT WAS OKAY!

I wouldn’t push it and try to do much more yet, but I can definitely see I’m making great progress.

I’ve been very busy over the last week.

Having a new puppy in the house makes for total (!!) chaos.

Puppy Frank the Newf, 15 weeks old, practices his swimming.

Add in having my college-aged son here, another out of state visitor for one day, my daughter’s birthday celebration, blah, blah, blah!!

BUSY!

But, it’s been great, and I’m happy.

This week I’m going to try to find a puppy obedience class for mischievous Frank.

(Frank is SO ADORABLE and he’s also THE NAUGHTIEST PUPPY!  If Dennis the Menace was a puppy he’d be Frank!)

I’m also going to continue taking a few photos here and there … trying to gradually strengthen my arm.

(My arm is immobilized in a brace/splint thingy, but I can do very light shooting.)

Because I’m feeling a lot better physically, I’m also going to return to exercising this week …

I’ll be starting very slowly, and building up gradually, since I’ve done absolutely nothing for nearly three months.

Having two back-to-back surgeries threw me for a loop energy-wise.

I just couldn’t muster the energy to do much of anything for awhile.

But, now I’m anxious to ease myself back to reality.

ALSO,

I’m absolutely, totally, obsessed with the altered book (art journal) I’m working on.

I never thought I’d enjoy it so much because it isn’t really the type of art I enjoy playing with.

Or, so I thought.

I’m having so much fun and I think it’s a direct reflection of how much I must have enjoyed kindergarten once upon a time.

My only frustration is how slow the progress is on my book.

I have no patience and there’s so much DRYING time as I work on it.

As a result, I’ve purchased a second vintage book to alter.

While one is drying (gel medium/gesso/paint/whatever), I can work on the other.

Four hundred bazillion years from now maybe one or the other will actually be complete?

I was originally inspired by Courtney Diaz (The Little Ink) on YouTube.

She used an old, vintage, sewing book to alter so I’ve followed her lead.

(Video of Courtney’s enormous altered sewing book is here.)

My art style (??? I’m not sure I even have one ???) is different from Courtney’s (<— She has talent, and I simply PLAY!) but her project inspired mine.

OK, let’s be honest …. I mainly just love Courtney’s Australian accent.

Anyway, I’ve ordered a few vintage fashion magazines off eBay and I LOVE using them in my altered book.

The advertisements are particularly funny to me.

Ad © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

Deodorant ad from a 1933 McCall’s Woman’s Magazine.

Ladies?

Are you surprised lipstick deodorant never caught on?

The old magazines I’ve purchased on eBay are super cheap because I’m buying damaged ones.

If they’re already beat up and damaged, I have no remorse about tearing them up to use bits and pieces in my art journal.

Well, I think I’ve written way too much for one day.

I’ll try to take some Fred and Frank photos for you this week.

The two of them are adorable together!

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Randomness

My sons have returned safely from a “boys trip” to Europe.

My youngest is here visiting for a few days, but my oldest son had to return directly to work.

I thought I’d share some random photos from my week with you today.

Fred and Frank play Newfie tug of war – Fred wins just by laying down.

Adult Newfoundland dogs can always get whatever they want just by laying down.

Frank with his stuffed duck – lots of fluff between the two of them.

Frank loves his stuffed duck.

He also loves Fred – the biggest play toy on earth.

GirlJrn © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

A work in progress in my altered book/art journal.  It’s so fun to play in my book!

I’m taking the attitude “anything goes” in my altered book.

Some days I may do serious things in it, other days I might use a page for paint color swatches.

I expect unfinished sketches, and a huge assortment of “stuff” to wind up in it.

I want it to be an eclectic mix of everything.

Even the silly …..

Monster © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

A cute little monster I made.

 

I have the ugliest feet in the world, but even my ugly feet look better with a pedi.

Processed with VSCO with a2 preset

I was feeling very “dotty” when I got a long overdue pedi this week.

 

Frank is still a brand new puppy, and therefore he’s exhausting me ….

Baby Frank at 14 weeks.  Newfoundland puppies are SO CUTE!!

Speaking of cute, here’s a photo Frank’s first human mom took of him with two of his siblings.

Frank is on the far left with the big white splotch on his nose.

By the way, the little white line going up his forehead will disappear in time, but the white splotch on his nose will stay.

Frank6wk

Frank the Newf at six weeks with a couple of his siblings.  Adorable!!

I’ll close with that enormous dose of cuteness.

Happy weekend!

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Altered Book – Art Journal?

As most of you know,

I began playing with art about a year ago.

It’s been a creative outlet for me during the time periods my arm hasn’t allowed me to hold my camera.

I began playing with mixed media with mild curiosity.

I never expected to fall in love with making art, but I have.

For many, many, months I’ve wanted to create an “altered art journal.”

I’ve watched lots of youTube videos on various ways to make them.

I’ve read books and magazine articles about it.

I’ve learned a lot.

I’ve even gathered supplies and ephemera.

But what is an “altered book” project?

Well, it can be many things.

What I plan to do, is to begin with an old, vintage, book.

I’ve collected a few of them as “potentials” for this project – most cost as little as a dollar or less at used bookstores.

I’ve now chosen one with a hard cover, and a sewn binding, to use as my altered book project.

(A sewn binding is VERY important!)

Yesterday, I spent an hour removing every other page out of my vintage book.

I did this, because once I begin adding art onto the pages in the book,

The book will become enormously fat.

If I left every original page in the book, the binding (even a sewn one!) would burst.

(By the way, I’m saving the torn out pages to use for other art projects so they won’t go to waste.)

Next, I’m going to begin gluing some random bits and pieces onto the still bound pages …

And/or putting color washes down.

I might even do a little collage here and there?

(I’m not a huge collage person, but a little bit might be fun.)

I’m going to work on ten pages at a time so I don’t become overwhelmed by the enormity of the project.

It might take me forever to complete an entire book?

I think I can keep it fun by focusing on just a few pages at a time.

The color washes and/or glued bits and pieces will become the background for what will eventually go on top.

And what will I put on top?

I’ll be exploring options as I go.

But, right now I think I’d like to do an eclectic mix of focal points.

Photos, text, watercolor painting, sketches, acrylic art work ….

Each page will be a new exploration.

I don’t want to make a “pretty” book.

I want to make a very funky, quirky, creative, maybe even interactive book.

I know I’ll be definitely including photos, because photography is so much of who I am.

Right now, all I have is an old book with a lot of missing pages.

As I get going, I’ll share occasional updates (including photos) of the progress I’m making.

If you’d like to join me in this project, the first thing you need to do is find your book.

Garage sales, used bookstores, goodwill stores … are all places you’re likely to find ideal books for altering.

Some of you may have already made an altered book art journal?

If you have, I’d love to see photos, hear your tips and suggestions, etc.

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The Gas Leak

I was “home alone” from last Friday through today, Monday morning.

Normally, this would not be worth mentioning.

This, however, was the first time since my recent back-to-back surgeries I’ve had to do “everything” on my own for an extended period of time.

My dominant arm is still immobilized which is very limiting.

(And, oh yeah, there’s the minor issue of having a new, very energetic, puppy to take care of!)

Overall, I was just fine.

I may have eaten the exact same dish for every meal because I can’t cook yet.

And, my house might not be stunningly clean.

But, I did okay.

Except, as some of you may have seen via Facebook, for Saturday morning.

I woke up VERY EARLY on Saturday to let the dogs out.

(Who let the dogs out? WHO? WHO?)

I wasn’t even downstairs yet when I felt the very strong smell of natural gas.

I knew immediately there was a gas leak.

I got the dogs outside.

(They’re fine, but they were NOT feeling well until they had some time outdoors in the fresh air!)

I opened all the doors and windows, and I called the gas company.

They told me to evacuate “immediately.”

They also informed me a repairman would show up in approximately FOUR HOURS!!

Aren’t gas leaks sort of EMERGENCIES?

As in, buildings blowing up EMERGENCIES?

I guess not if it’s super early on a Saturday morning?

And so I sat, outside, in my backyard from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m., freezing, and waiting for a repairman to show up.

I fed the dogs.

Then, I tried to keep the dogs quiet so they wouldn’t wake up my neighbors.

The dogs did not WANT to be quiet.

I *might* have snuck into the house and made coffee to drink outside.

It had rained during the night so everything was wet – including my patio furniture.

I sat on it anyway, and then felt even colder since I had a wet butt.

Once the repairman showed up, I led him into the kitchen where his “Gas Leaking Alarm” went off immediately.

As it turns out, the valve to my stove (which is behind a zillion pots and pans in a cupboard) had died its final death.

It was a BIG LEAK and very dangerous.

The repairman replaced the faulty valve.

When he was done, he stood up and looked out the window.

Fred was standing there staring at him.

I wish I had a photo of the repairman’s face when he saw giant Fred.

It was hilarious!

It was like he saw a ghost – !

It still makes me chuckle just to think about.

Fred, at probably 170 pounds/77kg,  was bigger than the repairman!

Fred, of course, was just curious to see who was in the kitchen.

Repair Man then informed me he was required to check every appliance with gas prior to leaving.

“OK,” I said.  “I don’t really have much that’s gas.”

“I’ll start with the fireplace,” he replied.

Fireplace?

Oh, I forgot … it does have a gas starter.

Well, apparently, I forgot a lot.

He also checked:  my water heater, my washer and dryer in the laundry room, my downstairs furnace, my upstairs furnace (which is located in my attic), the gas pipe that runs under my patio, the built-in gas grill on my patio, and the swimming pool heater.

I had two more leaks outside!

They were small/minor leaks, but I would never have known because you can’t smell gas leaking outdoors unless it’s a super BIG leak.

The repairman was able to fix both of the outdoor minor leaks by making adjustments to the current valves.  They didn’t need to be replaced.

(By the way, the repairman would not go outside until I brought Fred in … and even then, he waited an additional five minutes just to make double-sure Fred was REALLY inside the house.)

I learned a few things from all of this.

First of all, when you get a new stove (which I did maybe seven years ago), they don’t replace the gas valves.

My kitchen valve was as old as the house.

Second, you should have your house inspected annually for gas leaks even if you don’t smell gas leaking.

It would never have occurred to me to do so, but for all I know the outdoor leaks have been happening for YEARS.

By 11:30 Saturday morning, I was back in my house.

I took a hot shower to warm up.

I put on clean clothes.

(I was still wearing the previous day’s clothes which I had thrown on in my rush to evacuate.)

I had breakfast – which was really lunch by that time.

I also ordered two inexpensive valve shut-off tools I’ll be connecting to my primary water and gas valves.

Growing up as a 5th generation Californian, I’m very aware of the need to immediately turn off the main gas valve in event of a major earthquake.

But, what if my garage has collapsed and I can’t get to the toolbox so I can do that?

And/or what if a water line breaks?

I’m going to zip tie the tools to both my water and gas valves so they’re always right there.

I don’t know why I haven’t done this before.

Emergency preparedness is a big deal in California.

I do have full earthquake/emergency kits on hand, and my water heater is strapped to the wall so it doesn’t tip/fall in a quake.

But, now I also have “valve tools,”

And …

I feel very adult.