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Taking a Breather…

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We are headed out-of-town to visit family, and we are looking forward to our time away!  We decided to disconnect during this time and enjoy our time off.  It has been a really, really busy spring, and we are looking forward to a breather!

Meanwhile, if you are in a blog-reading mood, you are warmly invited to check out the archives — links are shown below.

Dog Related posts

Dog Rescue posts

Dog-Centric’ Artists Interviews

For Artists posts

Photography posts

Personal posts

Victory Related posts

We’ll see you back here in early June!  As always, thank you so very much for visiting and reading the blog!  I am most grateful for you!  Thank you!

P.S. While we are away, I do plan to post images while we are away via Instagram (our Instagram feed is also shown on the right side of the blog!)

Watch — When You feel like Quitting

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On the days when you feel like quitting — there will be days like this — watch this brief video, shown below, and remember that it is just all part of the creative process.

So if any of you out there ever feel like quitting, watch this video, below.  No matter what, keep leaning in and persisting.  It is important to push through and move further than you think that you can go with your work.  To work on something for an extended period of time requires a vast amount of faith and trust.



Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Sally Mann — Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs

I am excited to read Sally Mann’s new memoir, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs.  I was first introduced to Mann’s work during college.  I have most of Mann’s books containing her work, and I have been fortunate enough to see her work in person in galleries and museums in Manhattan.  Seeing her work, tenacity, and intensity makes me want to return to the darkroom and film — maybe that will be the next project.

Mann describes her new memoir as a “deeply personal explorations of the landscape of the American South, the nature of mortality (and the mortality of nature), intimate depictions of my husband and the indelible marks that slavery left on the world surrounding me.”

Mann has photographed and worked on her family farm for almost 50 years, with a steadfast commitment to the past — in approach and process.

She said she likes black and white photography.

“That’s not why I like it, but it’s harder, but it also makes you get right to the essence of what you’re taking the picture of.  You’re not distracted by the color,” she said.  “I mean, the color’s just an entirely different process, way of thinking.  I see everything in black and white and I also now start seeing things.”

Mann stated in a recent interview, which I really found insightful, “I think the difference is that I used to be taking pictures to save things.  That was the impulse was to either take pictures to save something, or to try and see what something would look like when it was photographed.  Now it’s a lot more important to me to actually say something.”

Mann said she doesn’t waste time.

“I work all the time.  I never leave home.  I mean, I just stay honed in on what’s ahead,” Mann said.

Additionally, Mann is also a lover of dogs and she has photographed her dogs and dog bones.

You can view recent video interviews of Mann here and here; and you can view additional video interviews of Mann and her work here and here.


Around Here: May

Well, it is getting near the end of May, and it feels more like summer than spring with the warm temperatures and high humidity.  Below are some items that have occurred around here in May!

-I finally finished the first draft of the first part of my project, after two and a half years of work, which is being reviewed; and almost all the dogs for the second part of my project are photographed, a big feat.  I plan to finish up photographing my long-term project at the end of June.

-finished reading this book — a good read, especially if you want to make more time for yourself and activities you enjoy.  I still have a stack of books on my nightstand to read and I am slowly getting through them along with a list of books I want to read in our Amazon queue!

-my garden in is full bloom and my pink hydrangeas are gorgeous!

-making breakfasts together on the weekends with Doug.

-finished watching a new mini series, The Casual Vacancy.  (Doug also read the novel.)

-began watching the Witness, a French series, with subtitles, on Netflix.  If you liked The Killing, which we did, we heard the Witness is a good one!  So far we like it!

-watched the movies, Wild and Cake; and I really like this quote from Cheryl Strayed in the book/movie Wild, “There’s a sunrise and a sunset every day, and you can choose to be there for it.  You can put yourself in the way of beauty.” 

-working on printing and framing fine art prints for the house.

-we finished getting the house ready for spring and summer!

-we are enjoying the furnished deck and enjoying dinners on the deck with Victory!

-having date nights with Doug!

-taking Victory on more outings, longer walks, and rides in her Hound About since the weather has been so nice!

-still enjoying my yoga class and hopefully improving my skills each week!

-going to visit family later this week, including going to see the Rolling Stones with my sister and brother-in-law!  It should be fun!

-it seems that Victory is on the mend with her infection, thank goodness.  The blood present in her pee, at the end of last week, gave us a scare.  The antibiotic seem to be working; and she still has another week on the antibiotic.  We hope that the infection was an anomaly and that it will not be a recurring issue indicating an underlying issue.  Apparently, female dogs are more prone to these types of infections.

-we gave Victory a bath yesterday, not her favorite activity, but she tolerates it and she looks great and her furs feels silky smooth — the best part of giving her a bath!  She got her nails and paws clipped at the vet last week — Victory gets a manni and peddi monthly — mostly because we are too scared to clip her paws and trim her nails ourselves!  Below is an image of Victory freshly bathed relaxing on the deck last night while we watched the sun set, which is becoming a Sunday evening ritual!  We are grateful that Victory is in better spirits.

Happy Monday!


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Victory: Photography Project — 60

Beginning in January 2014, I started a weekly photography project with my muse, Victory!  I will continue to share this project on the blog this year!  My goal is to document all of Victory’s changes, while preserving fleeting moments and memories, while capturing moments of our everyday.

Victory had a good weekend and she loves sitting outside on the deck, pictured below!  We had a good Mother’s Day — we all went to dinner in Delaware and Victory was a hit, as usual!  Victory gave me a card and some nice gifts for Mother’s Day, with the help of her Daddy, Doug!

Unfortunately, we were up most of the night last night with Victory.  She is not feeling well and, per the vet, she likely has a urinary tract infection.  Victory’s badder was empty, and the vet therefore could not collect a sterile sample earlier today.  If the problems persist while taking the antibiotics, we will be going back to the vet early next week.  We hope that the antibiotics swiftly help our fur girl recover.


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Additionally, here is a short video via the iphone of our fur girl enjoying a short break during a ride in her Hound About earlier this week!



Happy Friday!

Martin Usborne: Where hunting dogs rest

Photographer Martin Usborne is creating a new book with the Spanish hunting dog, Spanish galgo, as his subject.  This body of work focuses on the current treatment of these animals, which were historically viewed as a regal and noble breed.

You can view Martin’s current work, Where hunting dogs rest, here; and to learn more, you can view the Kickstarter video here and support this project if you are so inclined.  (Please note — even though Martin Usborne has reached his target on Kickstarter, he still hopes to raise further funds to help cover the costs of the project.)

Below is an excerpt from Martin Usborne concerning his new body of work.

“I had to make this book.

For centuries Spanish hunters have used dogs, mostly greyhounds, to hunt wild animals across the winter landscape.  In the 17th century these dogs were associated with nobility.  Nowadays, at the end of the season it is estimated that around 100.000 dogs are abandoned, considered too old or slow for next season.

Most dogs are simply left by the sides of the road or at the edges of towns but some are punished for poor performance by being hung from trees or thrown live down wells.

This book does not look directly at the pain.  The photographs show rescued dogs alongside the landscapes in which they are abandoned in a dark but hopefully beautiful light.  The work is inspired by Velazquez who painted in the same area in which these images were taken and at a time when these dogs were still considered noble.

‘Where hunting dogs rest’ is the title of the book.  Some dogs find rest in rescue centers whilst others find a different kind of rest in the Spanish landscape.”


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You can read previous interviews of Martin Usborne here and here.

In ‘The Zone’

Have you ever experienced ‘the zone’ — the magical place where everything seems to come together while you work?  I am grateful for these times.  I have given some thought to what helps create ‘the zone’ where everything flows smoothly — almost effortlessly, while working.  Below are some tips for getting into the ‘the zone’ creating the best chances for creative success.

1. Clean Work Space: I can focus so much easier when my work space is clean and not full of clutter.  I try to begin each morning with a clean desk.  It might sound very simple, but maintaining, as best as I can, a clean desk helps increase my productivity and ability to focus.  Also, a clean work space creates a more peaceful and tranquil working environment.

2. Ideal Work Time: Each person has their ideal work time where he/she is generally more productive.  I usually work better in the mornings to the mid-afternoon.  Finding your time where you are most productive is really important to producing your best work.

3. Disconnect from Interruptions:  Most people work better without distractions and interruptions.  I work best in large blocks of uninterrupted time where I can concentrate and get a lot done in one sitting versus working in smaller increments and then going to an appointment(s), checking email, etc.  While working, I find turning off the email while I work has been really helpful to maintaining a distraction free environment.

4. Be Open:  I think it really helps to be open while you are working and see what unfolds.  Often times, I work better when I do not have a preconceived notion of a specific outcome — it is much more serendipitous process.

5. Ample Rest & Exercise: I am able to focus so much better with ample sleep, rest, and exercise.  Without the proper rest and exercise, I have a much harder time focusing.  Moving one’s body via exercise is very helpful to get the creative juices flowing.  Often times, I come up with my best ideas while on the treadmill or walking outside.

6. Abundant Natural Light and Fresh Air: Natural light impacts most people in a positive fashion.  I find having ample light is really crucial for creating my best work.  On the sunny days, when the sun shinning and pouring through the windows, I am more productive.  On the other hand, on the stormy and cloudy days, with much less light, I have a more difficult time working.  Therefore, I do my best to take advantage of those sunny days!  Plus, it is always really nice to open the windows and let in a breath of fresh air!

Hopefully, you find these above ideas helpful to creating your best work!

Happy Wednesday!


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Planning a Vacation with your Furry Family Member

This year, Doug and I were not quite sure what we were going to do for vacation this summer.  We talked about flying somewhere, which meant that Victory would be unable to go with us.  She is too big to go with us on a plane in the cabin, and we will not crate her and put her in the belly of a plane — we are not sure who would have more anxiety — Victory or us!  (However, later this month, Victory will have her first ever sleepover with her Grandpa Dick and ‘Uncle Nick,’ while we go and see the Rolling Stones in Columbus with my sister and brother-in-law!)  So, after going back and forth, we decided that a vacation would not be the same without our fur girl, and we just could not imagine not including her.  I know, we are those ‘crazy dog people,’ but we are just fine with that!

So we are headed back to Canada late this summer.  This will be our fourth vacation in Canada, all with our furry family members, Biscuit and Victory.  We are going to be staying in a cottage on the Saint Lawrence River, just outside of Quebec City, Quebec, a French-speaking area.   We will likely stop in Manchester, Vermont, on the way up and we also, of course, have to make a stop in Montreal to eat at the Orange Julep — it has the most amazing orange drink!

Doug takes care of finding and making all the arrangements for our vacations, and I do the list making and most of the packing!

Below are some general tips from Doug on how to plan an international vacation to include your furry family member:

1. Plan Ahead:  Outside of this year, we make our reservations early, usually in December or January, seven to eight months ahead of time, as there are not as many dog-friendly places to rent, so the selection of places to rent is definitely more limited (the same rule also applies to hotels.)  Additionally, typically the rentals during the summer months fill up quickly, which is another reason to plan ahead.  We use Airbnb and VRBO to book our vacations.

2. Be Patient: Sometimes it takes a while to sort through the available dog-friendly options, but we have, fortunately, always found a place that we liked!  (Doug is good about finding the right place for us to stay during our vacation!)

3. Check the Reviews: Before we even consider a place to rent, we read all of the reviews to get a general sense of how others have enjoyed (or not enjoyed) their stay.

4. Contact the Owner:  Once you find a rental(s) you like, it is a good idea to communicate with the owner to get a sense and feel to ensure a smooth stay and to better understand the terms of the rental, i.e., deposit required, currency required, and payment and cancellation terms, etc.

5. Check Google Earth:  It is always a good idea to locate the property on Google Earth to get an idea of the property and its immediate surrounding area.

6. Check the Surrounding Area: It is also a good idea to research the surrounding area online for restaurants, grocery stores, entertainment, etc., in order to get a sense of how far away these amenities are located, as some rentals are located in more remote areas.

7. Check the Requirements: Make sure you have the appropriate paper work completed by your vet in the proper amount of time prior to your vacation.  You can learn more about what each country requires in order for your furry family member to enter particular countries by visiting here.  Also, it is a good idea to check the country’s requirements and restrictions on food (upon entry and upon exiting) to ensure you can either bring your furry family member’s food.

8. Trust your Instincts: Most of all, trust your instincts.  If you have any hesitations, or something feels off after completing the steps above, trust your instincts and only rent a place that feels like a good fit for you and your needs!  Your instincts generally do not lead you astray.

Below are some images from our vacation last year!  We had a great and relaxing time together!

Happy Friday and Happy Mother’s Day!

P.S.  You may also like this post — packing for your furry family member’s vacation!


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Victory: Photography Project — 59

Beginning in January 2014, I started a weekly photography project with my muse, Victory!  I will continue to share this project on the blog this year!  My goal is to document all of Victory’s changes, while preserving fleeting moments and memories, while capturing moments of our everyday.

Since March I have been photographing the second portion of my photography project, and I will finish up the photo shoots for this project at the end of next month!  Of course, shelties are part of this project!  This past weekend, after a photo shoot, Victory met two rescue shelties, Danny and Dakota!  Victory was a little hesitant at first, but she joined Danny and Dakota for a few minutes and I took a few images of the three different colored rescued shelties together!  It is not often that you see three different colored shelties together!  (I think Danny was checking out our beautiful fur girl!)

Happy Thursday!


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Natural Dog Anxiety Remedies

Our Victory has some anxiety, which is improving each day.  Below are some remedies that we have found helpful to build her confidence, which might help other dogs with anxiety as well.

1. Puzzles: The puzzles have really helped Victory gain more confidence.  She loves solving these puzzles, which are self-rewarding.  In the evening we set out a puzzle while we go to the gym, and she goes to town!

2. Massage: Just like massages help humans relax, massage can help dogs as well.  At least once a day, I give Victory a belly rub and massage her all over.  She seems to enjoy it and she is always smiling afterwards.

3. Exercise: Exercise is a great stress reliever for dogs, similar to humans.  Exercise stimulates the production of serotonin, that feel-good chemical that is produced from exercise.  Exercise also helps dogs, such as Victory, get rid of pent-up energy that can heighten anxiety.  Especially during really nice weather, we go on more walks and longer walks to help Victory get her exercise and to also relieve any tension, etc.  It seems to work well!

4. Outings: Victory loves the car and she loves going to new places, which is helping her learn that she will be ok being around other people, and that we will protect her from harm.  Going to a new place is a good distraction as well.  She likes to pretty much go anywhere with us.  She loves going to restaurants, as she loves getting food!  I know, we spoil her, what can we say!

5. Playing: In addition to her puzzles, Victory likes to play, especially at night, right before bed!  She even barked for the first time last week and she loves to run all over the bed interacting with her paws and mouth!  We think this interaction is helping to build her confidence and lessen her anxiety!  She loves it and is always parched after playing!

6. Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP): DAP was recommended by our trainer.  It takes several weeks to take effect.  DAP is a synthetic chemical that is based on a hormone produced by lactating female dogs that help keep puppies calm.  It come as a plug-in diffuser with vials that last about thirty days, and humans are not able to smell it.  We plugged the DAP diffuser in an area of the house where Victory spends most of her time, and it seems to help her some.

Victory has already made great strides, and we are confident that she will grow even more and we hope that her anxiety continues to dissipate.  Victory loves sitting outside and she is very relaxed in this setting!


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