Our Sweet Toby

I don't write in my blog as often as I should - there always seems to be something with a higher priority. I regret that, as I don't see the sweet face of my kitty, Toby, on these pages. Toby came to us two years ago, in December, 2014. We had lost our two cats that year - Duke in January and Sydney in September - and it was too quiet in the house. However, I had said to Dan, "no more cats!" and I meant it. Until...

The Fateful Photo From Facebook Post

I was on the Facebook Group for Certified Zentangle Teachers and saw a post about this guy, needing a home. He was a 6 year old Himalayan cat, whose owner had died and he lived 3+ hours away. Ridiculous to even contemplate a scruff-muffin, older, uber-hairy boy-who-is-also-a-cat. Maybe a girl dog, but not a cat.

Yet...as hard as I tried, I could not get him off my mind. So one week later, we were meeting his kind caretaker in the parking lot of Friendly's in Lee, MA, half-way in between our respective homes, to take Toby home. Poor kitty. He was scared to death and frankly, so were we. We had never even met this cat and here we were taking responsibility for his care and well-being.

From the post title, you already know what a good move it was for all. Toby slowly accustomed himself to us and Dan and I, to him. They had said he was "a love" and that was so accurate. He purred if you even looked his way and within three months, we were all in love. Here is a more recent photo of Toby helping me out in my studio. The high stool was a favorite spot and he would curl up and go to sleep, keeping me company as I worked.

Studio Visit (click to enlarge)

Look at that handsome face! Who wouldn't love this sweet, gentle boy. He nuzzled his way into my heart and I adored him.

If you noted the past tense, you'll know that this does not end on a happy note. Last weekend, I noticed that Toby had chunked up around his abdomen and it seemed to become more pronounced daily. On Tuesday, we were off to the Vet. He recommended an ultra-sound which we scheduled for yesterday, New Year's Eve. We left our boy at the Vet in the morning and he called later to tell us that the fluid around Toby's abdomen was a result of cancer in some part of his body and that it had spread to his liver, which looked "like swiss cheese." There was no pill that could fix this and he didn't have long. 

Too fluffy to fit or ship! (click to enlarge)

This is the nightmare of pet owners. Not only are you losing a member of your family but you need to make a decision about euthanizing that family member. Our cat, Sydney, also had cancer and the progression of it was not something we wanted to put Toby through. Our last bit of time with him was yesterday afternoon at the Vet's office and he was his usual loving self. It was devastating but Toby only felt our loving arms around him at the end. 

Euthanasia has been called the "last act of love" and I believe it to be true. It takes courage to make the choice and see it through. Dan and I have had to do so three times in the last three years - way too much. Toby was with us for just two years; not long enough. Never the less, we don't regret adopting him. For all the pain we feel at his loss, the affection and joy this little guy brought us puts us well on the plus side of the equation. 

An Afternoon Nap (click to enlarge)

This long post is an homage to my sweet boy. It's not important that anyone else reads it - just that I wrote it. If you do read it, please hug your fur babies for me and give them some extra love today.

There is heartbreak at the end of every animal, but they are so worth it.


Happy New Year

Rilke_mhhoopesThis photo was taken on the grounds of one of my favorite places... The Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel in Santa Barbara, CA. The hotel is right on the coast and you can enjoy a wonderful meal, surrounded by flowers and hummingbirds, on their terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Dan and I were there in August, visiting my sister and brother-in-law in beautiful Montecito, CA. We made a point of having breakfast at the Four Seasons on our last day in town, when I snapped this photo. The image seemed fitting company for the quote, another favorite of mine. 

Rilke perfectly grasps the excitement and mystery of considering what the future might bring. Whatever that is, it is likely to be full of Life (with a capital L)... love and loss, contentment and fear, loneliness and happy times.

We can work through the lows; by learning to temper pain and disappointments with acceptance and understanding, balance them with love, and seek the beauty in our messy world. Like most, I can't always pull this off, but this new year my intention is to awaken each day with this goal...

Today, I will choose love rather than fear.

I wish the same for you.

Sweet Little Friend

Dan and I were happy take our friend Kiley for a walk today. She's my favorite neighbor - always ecstatic to see us and no judgement about how much tidier her yard is than ours. 

In the photo, she is putting on her oh-I'm-so-sad eyes, as she knew we were leaving her. At home. Alone. Dogs are so good at making you feel just a little guilty : ) Nevertheless, I'm happy to have such a sweet little friend in the 'hood.


A December Afternoon

It is December 10th in Saratoga County, Upstate New York, and the weather service predicted a dreary, rainy day. Ugh.

But Mother Nature had something else in mind...it is actually a pleasant 55 degrees, the sun is shining and Dan and I just returned from a long walk through our woodsy neighborhood.

I am grateful for the sun on my face and the crisp, light chill on my cheek. Blessings.


Zenith ~ A New Tangle from Zentangle HQ


A new tangle from Rick and Maria at Zentangle Headquarters is always time to celebrate. It is a fun border tangle called Zenith.

This tangle is composed of a series of curved and straight lines, as well as an aura.  Aura is what is known as a tangle enhancer. It is simply done by drawing a border around the tangle pattern, following the shape of the tangle and keeping a uniform distance from the edge. See the fourth step in the drawing to the right.

Zenith was introduced back in April during Zentangle teacher training in Providence, Rhode Island, and was just released to the public.  Give it a try and enjoy!



ps: to see a larger photo, just click on the image and it will pop up in a separate window.





If you are in the Saratoga area, one of our favorite local restaurants is the Iron Roost on Front Street in Ballston Spa.  It's a great place for breakfast or lunch and they have gourmet-worthy waffles, sweet or savory.  The best option: order one savory and one sweet and share : ) They also have great coffee, locally sourced ingredients, exposed brick walls, handmade decorations ~ all in an adorable small town.  IMG_2325

Happy Heart Day

Wishing everyone a beautiful Valentine's Day!  Here's to love, peace and happiness. And Spring. Yes, definitely Spring. Soon. And soon would not be soon enough.



To clarify where the hearts come from, the Precious Heart Box Die Set includes two heart dies, as well as the "box" shape.  They can be used separately or to decorate the box; one is straight, one is scalloped. I cut four of the scalloped heart, stamped them with the music image (no matter that it's a Christmas stamp!), pierced them with my Tim Craft Pick and Design Ruler (which has evenly spaced holes for this purpose), then stitched them together.  I did use the Tea Dye Ink to distress the hearts and dye the lace too ~ love that Distress Ink does it all!

The Textured Embossing Folder I used on this card is one of my favorite sets. So often, I prefer one of the folders over the other, but I love both of these designs ~ the Chevron and Flourishes, shown above.  It is one of the Hero Arts design sets from Sizzix. I reach for again and again.

Something Special...

My dear friend, Karen, and I have been friends since high school...and that's a long time.  We don't see one another too often anymore but can always pick-up right where we left off, no matter how long it's been.  That is the joy of having a longtime friendship.  Karen's birthday is February 27 and she loves hearts.  So, each year she gets a handmade card which I fit a heart into.  This year, it's the San Marzano border die from Memory Box...love! 

SanM_die_lg_stampassionI started with one of our Mid-Size (A6) cards and patterned layers from Basic Grey's Paper Pad, True Love.  I enjoy using the 6 or 8" paper collections as they are perfectly coordinated, great for card making and work together without being too matchy-matchy. 

Since I cut off some of the luscious distressing from around the edge of the pretty sagey-green layers, I added more with Distress Ink and my ever-present Ink Blending Tool...you can't tell what was original and what I added.  That's the advantage of having every ink color on the planet!  The green layers are popped off the floral layer with mounting tape because everything looks better when you give it some dimension. True that.

When I was making this, I didn't realize that the label die is one Memory Box retired - sheesh. I'm sure there are lots of substitutes but this one was nice and long -- can't remember its name.  The little bird is a new die and the saying stamp is one of MB's combo images...they all have a small coordinating stamp on the side of the mount - so great getting two stamps in one!  As always, I used my Plus Glue Tape Roller -- at just 1/6" wide, the dotty tape is perfect adhering delicate die cuts.

Happy Birthday to Karen - here's to many more years of friendship for the Goldust Twins!