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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.


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.

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Reality: Inch by Inch

I’m trying to get back to real life.

I spent almost all of yesterday doing errands.

(I even went to the dentist – I have very CLEAN teeth!)

My “to do” list is miles long since I’ve been out of commission a big chunk of the last couple months.

I’m so eager to get back to shooting, but I know I have to give myself a little more time.

Eventually, I’m sure, I’ll get there.

In the afternoon, I came home to this:

iPhone Photo:  Fred The Newf, 18 months, with best friend Frank The Newf, 13 weeks

Fred and Frank have a strong bond already.

They’re VERY different dogs, however.

Fred is VERY LARGE for a Newfie!

Fred is a true gentle giant.

Fred’s well trained, and calm … most of the time.

Frank …?

Frank is The Instigator of Trouble.

He’s a hyper, rambunctious, mischievous, BUT ALSO VERY CLEVER puppy.

He’s VERY SMALL for a Newfie his age –

And, there’s a strong likelihood he’ll be a small Newfie even as an adult.

He likes to lay down on top of Fred.

In time, Frank will (hopefully) be well trained … and calm down a little.

But, right now?

I’m pretty sure my house would qualify as a zoo.

Frank has learned to “sit” for treats and to be fed.

He’s making good progress on house training, but I was informed he had a couple accidents yesterday while I was gone.

Now that I’m beginning to feel more human, I’ll be working to expand Frank’s training.

He has a lot to learn, and I’m not sure how training will go.

Clearly, Frank’s very smart – I know he has the POTENTIAL to learn.

But, he’s also crazy-wild and inclined to be a mischief maker.

Training Frank will be an interesting journey.

(Keep your fingers crossed!)

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Sad, Pathetic, Haters

Leading a public life means attracting trolls/haters.

Sometimes, they make me laugh.

Here’s a comment I received this morning on my Update post which was written over a week ago – right after my elbow surgery.  The troll/hater ignored the subsequent posts including those about Frank, the new puppy, and wrote this:

  1. Lucylu(Edit)
    OMG………can u not think of anything better to write about than: your shoulder, pain, Paul Neumann, pain, how u 🙂 ave the best doctors and surgeons in the world, pain, pain,pain, surgery after surgery, pain ,more pain, your wonderful doctors and how much they luv you, pain, Paul neuman,pain,pain. Instead why don’t u talk about the huge settlement you received for all your PAIN!! Enough already. We get it!!! You have pain. So do a lot of people—they just don’t write about it every single Damon day of the year!!!!

Sigh, not only does “Lucylu” choose to hide behind a fake name while throwing verbal darts, she also doesn’t know how to spell or type.

By the way, “Lucylu” has the IP address:

She uses Comcast, and was somewhere near the vicinity of South Hill, Virginia when leaving the comment.  She uses Bing as a search agent, uses Android, and she has read 24 off and on over (at least) the last several months … my records only go back to January.

I ignore stuff like this more often than not, but I chose to reply to this particular hater in my comments section.  After doing so, I decided I’d share this with all of you since very few of you would ever see it on a post that was written over a week ago.

My response:


(Or should I have begun with “Coward,” since you’re self-aware enough to hide behind a fake name when you’re acting like a horrible human being?)

I don’t know what’s happened in your life to make you such a miserable, unhappy, uncompassionate, person but I hope you’ll accept my sympathies on your pathetic, angry, life – and deep rooted unhappiness. 

I did not receive enough of a settlement to even cover my first year of medical expenses after the car accident – you can’t get money out of a turnip. I don’t know what made you assume otherwise? You sound jealous over your incorrect assumption I became rich from becoming disabled. Maybe you wish someone would run a red, and you would have 11 surgeries, a life of disability, and excruciating daily pain … all in hope of getting the money I didn’t get?  By the way, if I had received the money you imagine, I would give it away without a second thought if it meant I would not have had to go through what I have for the last ten years.

(It has been a huge financial stress on my family to cover my medical bills – something you know absolutely nothing about.)

I write about my life. I’ve had two surgeries in the last two months so, right now, I’m writing about those surgeries and my recovery. You wouldn’t believe the number of emails I receive from people thanking me for writing about this journey. People who learn about doctors they then go to, people who learn about surgical techniques that give them hope, and people who live with chronic pain who know they aren’t alone by coming here to read. If you weren’t so blinded by your own unhappiness, you would also have understood my recent shoulder surgery was a miraculous success, and I am now FREE of the worst of the pain. I’m ecstatic and giddy over this and my posts have been full of JOY over it.

For whatever reason, you CHOOSE to come to my site and read – why?

If you actually REALLY were reading (without so much internal bitterness and anger blinding you) you would see I write about many things. Really, whatever is going on in my life. I write about my travels … like New Zealand in February. I write about my work … shooting in Austin, the California coast, San Francisco, Oregon, Texas, North Carolina, Colorado, etc. I write about training my service dog, Fred. I write about my new puppy, Frank. I write about photography, cameras, my favorite things whether they be books, movies, makeup, and/or other items. I write about my activities with friends and family.

As for complimenting the medical folks who have helped me?

Well, that won’t stop. They read 24 and I want them to know how VERY MUCH I appreciate them helping me. My doctors, nurses, and PT’s have not only been wonderful to me – they have become my friends. They have gone above and beyond their normal “duties” to help me. I will never apologize for loving them for all they have done, and continue to do, for me.

Instead of, anonymously, berating someone you choose to read online …

Why don’t you use your time more wisely?

I think it’s clear you need some therapy.

Your time would be much better spent worrying about your own sad life.


There’s no accounting for stupid, is there?

The Internet allows a cloak of anonymity for mentally disturbed individuals to act out.

Fortunately, tracking tools on blogs continue to improve and these type of commenters will soon be outed for who they really are.

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May 16, 2016

Gray May has hit Southern California and I hate it.

If you live here, you know what Gray May is.

If you don’t, it’s a “season” in Southern California when the coastal fog is thick and hangs around nearly all day …

Thus, gray days   … Gray May and/or June Gloom are the same thing.

Last week, I saw my elbow doc for my one week, post-op, follow-up appointment.

He performed an ultrasound on my elbow to see how the torn tendon is healing and said it looks good.

For the record, I did NOT have “traditional” elbow surgery and my incision is very small.

Kerlan Jobe is on the leading edge of new technologies and my doc is one of only a few in the country using one of these new technologies on elbow tears.

Anyway, I was very happy to hear all looks well.

I’m immobilized for six weeks, but I’m allowed to have physical therapy on my entire arm now ….

Paul Newman is THRILLED to be spending more time with me.

My elbow hurts more than my shoulder, but that’s due to the (very similar to) microfracture element of my elbow surgery.

The pain should get better each day.

The tendon repair itself will take months to heal, as will my shoulder.

I did try taking a few photos with my “real” camera last weekend and it didn’t go well.

I’ll try again in a couple weeks … or, maybe when I’m allowed to?

(I’m using a point and shoot for all my dog/puppy photos.)

Puppy Frank went swimming in my pool a few times this weekend.

My daughter, and her boyfriend, came down for a big chunk of the weekend so they could meet the new puppy.

Puppy, Frank The Newf, loves chasing bubbles!

Fred and Frank have lots of fun playing together.

We have to supervise their playing so Fred doesn’t accidentally hurt, much smaller, Frank.

Frank will go up to calm, stoic, Fred and hit him on the nose with his paw.

He wants Fred to chase him, and Fred is happy to oblige.

But, Fred is BIG and we have to make sure they don’t play too rough until Frank grows and has a little more size.

Fred The Newf (18 months)   Frank The Newf (13 weeks) – Playing tag and chase with an empty Kleenex box.

Frank will not be allowed out in public until he gets his last series of vaccines in about three weeks.

I’m beginning to feel better now that my pain is decreasing.

I hope to be out and about doing more real life, adult, things beginning this week.

Life moves on …!

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More Newfoundland Puppy Photos!

I’m immersed in puppy life right now.

Fred and Frank are getting along fabulously!

Frank is NOT housetrained … so, that’s lots of fun.

But, he is adorable and very, very, clever!

Yes, I do hope to train Frank on everything Fred has learned.

It might be ambitious to hope for two fully trained service dogs,

But – I think it can be done!

(Maybe I’m crazy?)

First, here’s a photo of Fred when he first met “his” new baby.

It was love at first sight!


“For me?  I LOVE him, Mom!”

And, because everyone loves new puppy photos –

Here are several photos of (landseer) Newfie Frank at twelve weeks old:

Frank – 12 wks – With a wet face from dunking his head in his water bowl.

“Look Mom!  I found a nice bed!”

“There’s a baby in my bed!”  Fred 18 months old.  Frank 12 weeks old.

Frank “hiding” under my outdoor spiral staircase.

One tired puppy!

The most well behaved puppy is a tired puppy!

Thank goodness Fred enjoys wearing Frank out!

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Frank The Newf!

Frank The Newf (12 week old Newfoundland puppy) came home yesterday.

I’ve been so busy doing brand new puppy stuff, I haven’t had much photo time, but ….

Here’s an iPhone photo of Frank on the car ride home from San Diego:

FrankCarHome © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

Frank the Newf – 12 weeks old – a very happy puppy!

Frank is a landseer Newfie … that means he has a white body with black markings.

We introduced Frank and Fred gradually.

Fred was very excited, and happy, to meet puppy Frank.

“Can we keep him, Mom?” asked Fred.

The first day with a new puppy is pretty crazy.

Frank was VERY BUSY exploring every single stick, leaf, etc. in his new environment.

He finally got tired and went in search of a hiding place to nap.

Frank – 12 week old Newfie pup “hiding” under our outdoor staircase.

The first couple weeks with a new puppy are nonstop.

If I turn my eyes away for a millisecond, Frank is into something he shouldn’t be.

Frank is VERY mischievous … much more so than Fred has ever been.

Frank finally took a puppy nap after a few hours of  exhausting me  playing.

And, guess what happened?

Fred woke up Frank because he wanted to play with him!

It’s like having two active toddlers in the house!

I’m in L.A. today having my one week post-op appointment for my elbow.

The Newfies will be at home with my husband – having a fun day, no doubt.

I imagine they’ll all be exhausted by the time I get home.

(Especially my husband!)

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I apologize for my absence.

To be honest, the repair of the big-ass tendon tear in my elbow has turned out to be much more of an ordeal than I expected.

I’ve had to readjust my expectations quite a bit ….

Which has been  sort of  depressing.

The pain is gradually decreasing.

I think, the first-week-post-surgery-pure-awfulness is behind me.

It will be a slow process moving forward because tendons are very, very, VERY slow to heal.


I see my elbow doc (not to be confused with my shoulder doc) tomorrow for my one week follow-up.

In the meantime, Paul Newman has been doing his best to keep my spirits up and encourage me.

(Not an easy task this last week!)

I know, in the long run, everything I’m going through is definitely for the best –

And long overdue.

But ..?

Short term it really does suck.

Last weekend was Mother’s Day here in the United States.

My mom is out of state.

I’m not allowed to travel yet, so I talked to her on the phone for ages instead.

My two boys are on a vacation, out of the country, together so I was unable to see them.

My daughter came by for lunch, and brought some beautiful flowers.

Gorgeous dahlias – photo taken with a point and shoot!

Isn’t it amazing how fresh flowers can just brighten everything up?

I think, by the end of this week, I’ll be out and about much more.

That alone, will cheer me up.

I’ve been doing a ton of art-play while recovering.

It’s keeping me distracted.

New Puppy, Frank, is expected to arrive today!

This is wonderful news for me and Fred!

Fred The Newf (17 months) doesn’t realize he’s about to be a big brother!

Is there anything better than a puppy to bring lots of smiles?

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Next Week …

I’m going to take a few days to recover.

I expect to be back at the beginning of next week ….

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Surgery # 11 – Update

The torn tendon in my elbow was fixed yesterday.

This was the last surgical step in rebuilding the catastrophe called “my arm.”

I’m not going to lie, this was not a fun procedure to go through.

(That’s “polite speak” for saying – it hurt/s like hell!)

My doctor informed me the tear was bigger than expected.

The MRI showed a “moderate” sized tear and I guess it was just plain “big.”

I suppose that explains why it has interfered so much with my life.

Anyway, my doc felt like it was a very successful procedure.

He expects I’ll experience a good result once I get through the healing process.

Personally, all I know is that it’s very painful right now.

(What is it about elbows?  Nerve sensitivity?)

Today, I intend to just rest, ice my arm, and nap as pain meds allow.

My arm is immobilized in a splint/brace/thingy.

I feel like this whole thing is a step backwarrd.

But, I know doing this now –

While I’m recovering from a major shoulder rebuild,

Is truly the right thing to do.

And now, if you’ll excuse me,

I’m off to take a nap!