Tuesday, 26 March 2013

fun with collage

Its not been ALL gloom and doom over the last few weeks... Well, actually it has but I dont sit feeling sorry for myself I keep busy and Art is my savior. I am still doing the 30 pages in 90 days journal course with Christy Sobolewski http://gulfspritesartjournal.ning.com/ we are currently on day 9 and I totally love it, and have kept up with ease - probably because I love it so much, but also as I needed something to shut 'other stuff' out, and this is certainly it.  Christy is a superb teacher, and we are learning so many new mixed media tricks.

The only thing I did find was the collage side of things let me down, as its something I have never done so didnt have a collection of suitable pictures for the lessons.  Also not much in the way of ability of making collage work, but I found it a lot of fun.  So, set out to learn a bit more... first of all I made my own person (don't laugh!!!)

This is a bit on the scary side and could give a small child nightmares, infact could quite easily give an adult nightmares, so I tried again...

Not quite as frightening, but it was clear I really do not have much of a clue at this.  Looking at the excellent works artists can do with collage I really had to do better, so I did what I usually do when I get stuck and invested in a book (or two, one has yet to arrive).  I ordered the book 'Collage Couture' which is a lot of fun, never to be one to copy I constructed my own page (its just a journal page) to have another go.  The page is many layers starting with book pages, paint, stamps etc with my very first two models, not quite as glamorous as the author of the book, but fun to do, and lets face it I can only get better.

I now find myself on an enforced break though, too much arting has played havoc with my neck and shoulders, so sat with my third wheat bag and more pain killers till it gets better.  The idea of all this art and collage is to one day have my own card designs, not just photo's.  Speaking of which, I have added some new cards to my Etsy shop this week   https://www.etsy.com/shop/SimJaTa?ref=pr_shop_moremore and hopefully soon our weather will improve enough for a smart bag too perhaps, plenty of colourful bags there too.

Hard to believe its almost Easter and the weather here in the UK is appauling to say the least, not snowing were I am but bitterly cold.. and I am waiting for my fix it man to come and fix my boiler today, please.. (please, please...).

Monday, 25 March 2013

My dog has bone cancer

If you read my last blog entry you will already know about our dear Alfie.  This post is for anyone who like me had a need to read more about this terrible disease, and to share the experience.  Sadly, we did loose our beloved boy, but this is just our own experience, every dog is different as is every situation.  First I will talk about our experience, then add a few general observations.

We adopted Alfie when he was 18 months old, he came to live with us on the 31st October 2009. We adopted what we assumed to be a normal healthy Labrador as we were told nothing else.  It very soon became apparent he was not so healthy, he seemed to tire easy and struggle with his back legs, we arranged xrays were it was revealed he had very poor hips, and was suffering from hip dysplacia. Our vet advised we could let Alfie be a Labrador as long as he could, his legs would probably not be so good by the time he was 6 or 7, but he was still young and not the type of dog to remain on lead walks, he had to enjoy his life while he could.
Alfie also had total leg failure every six weeks? this was never diagnosed, despite my keeping a diary of events and food etc, there was no pattern.  The condition was very similar to 'Spikes Disease' a condition more common in the Border Terrier.  His legs would fail for about 5 - 15 mins, when he would then stagger round like he was drunk, then return to normal.

In January this year I was on a regular dog walk with three dogs in my boot, when I arrived on the walk they all leapt out of the car together and Alfie fell on his hip and screamed, he then continued on his walk with no problems.  In early February he started to cry with his back leg (same leg) we went to the vet and got some pain killers, then some more pain killers.... things were not getting better if anything I felt they were getting worse... So we opted for xrays.  The xrays showed a marked deterioration of his hips, which did mean continued pain killers.. but also a suspicious shadow on the top of the femur, but not a defined thing (hard to explain without seeing it), we were told this on the phone so went to vets to take a look - I asked then, " Could this be Cancer?" it was unlikely, Alfie was after all only 4 years old? but there was an outside chance.

It was decided we would wait 4 weeks for another xray, meanwhile change of medication to help ease the obvious pain he was still in. For a day or so this did seem to help, but then it didn't - I started a face chart on the calender, if there was more bad days than good things had to be done, the bad days got to be more, I was becoming ready to end the suffering, as was the vet.  My husband wanted to wait for xrays to be certain.  The xrays were brought forward on the 19th March 2013, they revealed it was indeed bone cancer, there was no doubt now.  As the hips were so bad amputation was not an option, the other treatments might give us a few more months? but what good was that for Alfie? could he still be a normal happy dog?  We made the very painful decision not to wake Alfie up and to end his suffering before it got any worse.

One of the main things I want to mention here was what I could not understand myself.  Alfie looked fantastic, his coat gleamed, he had a fabulous appetite, he was still trying to play with our other dog, and still wanted his walks each day. How could this be?  This is one of the things I tried to research, the only answer I found was one other person on-line, they were told by their vet "Because you love and look after him so well"  I liked that.
In truth a lot of it is because of animal instinct, showing weakness is dangerous for an animal in the wild, they would become a target.  Even in my home, my other dog who is also a dominant male was bullying Alfie, as he knew he could not defend himself as he once could.  We did make sure this didn't happen often, and the dogs were not left alone.

My other observation is knowing your own dog, I knew something was very wrong - but I listed to others, I now feel I should not have done this.  Despite how well meaning people may be, you know your own dog and if you have a vet you can trust, as we do - it is between you and your vet and nobody else.

Lastly, there are many many Labradors in the rescue centres - you do not know their history, but they still all deserve a good home.  Before Alfie I had two Labradors, both lived to 12 years old.  One lost to cancer, and one to kidney failure.  Both rescue.

BUT - If you choose to buy a puppy, do your homework - you MUST see both parents, the parent dogs SHOULD have been health checked, they should have an excellent hip score and eye check, or they should not be used for breeding.  There are some good breeders out there, often they charge highly for their pups, and will grill you before they 'allow you' to have one, this is good.
There are also bad breeders, often advertise in free ad's - the dogs are cheap, they have no papers and you will not get to see the parents, they will sell to anyone with the cash.  The pups 'might' be ok. Worse still are the places were you do not see the parent dogs at all.

Anyone going through this who I can help I am happy to answer any questions if I can, I am not a Vet though, I can only share my own experience.  If you are not happy with your Vet - change and find one you are happy with.

Last post on the subject.  Normal creative posts will continue soon.........

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Farewell to Alfie

Yesterday we lost our beloved boy Alfie.  The xrays were due for next week but we brought them forward as the pain killers appeared to have stopped helping, there was no doubt our wonderful handsome, gorgeous boy did indeed have bone cancer and it had spread - no more could be done.  We took the awful decision to end his suffering.  Alfie was due to celebrate his 5th birthday on Saturday.

The above picture is one of the official photo's we had done when we got him 3 years ago, hopefully it shows how much he was thought of then.

Alfie was just so noisy and such an enormous presence in the house it is so painfully quiet here now without him, we are going to miss him so much.  So far our remaining dog Jaja seems to be doing ok, hoping it stays that way.

My next post is going to be my experience of Alfie's illness - as during my weeks of research I found very little to read of other's experiences and what to expect, when etc? so I will be doing a post on canine bone cancer with the hope it might help others to know what they are dealing with.  After I have done that normal service will resume with the arts and crafts - might be a while after, but I am still arting away here.. not much crafting, but the paints are out.

Goodbye to our darling boy, we we loved so much.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day to all the Mums out there.  Happy Mothers Day to my Mum (who never reads my blog anyway, so she wont see her gift tag above).  Also much love and thoughts to the many who's Precious Mum's are no longer with them in body, but sure they are always there in spirit.

Had I decided to start card making a bit earlier, I might have been able to do some for sale in my Etsy shop, no time for that though.  This one is for my Mum, I do enjoy making cards to send myself, I have actually managed a couple more for the shop - not photographed them, but I have made some.. its a start.  Still struggling to do so much as Alfie is still poorly and not looking much like an improvement is going to happen, but we do try to be hopeful.

Made this card for my Mother in Law, posted it off to her in the week so hopefully she has it by now, will speak to her on the phone tomorrow.  I am very lucky, my Mother in law is fab - she has every sympathy with me for having to put up with her son! and always takes my side, what more can you ask?
Have a good day tomorrow, whatever you may be doing - and in the UK keep warm, weather forecast looking on the chilly side again.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Never Enough Hours ....

Never Enough Hours in the day!! that is my motto.  I think with Alfie's illness I forgot to mention I managed to obtain my first CUSTOM CARD ORDER !!! How exciting is that? .. and for 20 cards, certainly kept me busy this week.  I couldn't understand were all my time was going, then I worked out with Alfie being on lead walks only, my total dog walking hours per day has now doubled to 4 hours a day, he is not so fast either and we do a lot of stopping.  Once you add the usual household stuff to that, and that 'sleep' thing one is meant to do - very little free time in a day left.

My intention was to do so many cards for the order and one for the Etsy shop, best laid plans and all that.. I had all on managing one or two cards per day.  Having said that, I have also started a new art course with Gulfsprint, called '30 pages in 90 days' the idea is I can actually keep up with this one, but I seem to be getting behind already, the thing is I am enjoying the course so much that is all I really want to be doing - you can find details on Christy's ning site here http://gulfspritesartjournal.ning.com/ though registration is now closed for this particular course until the end of May.

Whoops, managed to digress again... anyway, I have finally finished said card order, just need to stick the 'made by SimJaTa' stickers on the back of them all (today's task was sorting those out, from design to print), slot in the card inserts and post off to customer - as you can see by two of the cards shown, she is a fellow dog lover, but requested a selection of cards so they are not actually ALL doggie ones, there is a selection of varying topics and some suitable for males too, so hopefully she will be happy.

If anyone finds out were that time thief is hiding out, please let me know - I could really do with at least another 8 or so extra hours per day to catch up...