Category Archives: Family

What Makes a Relationship Successful? via


Filed under Attitude, Challenges, Encouragement, Family

I Woke Up Happy Today

I avoid exercise DVDs where the people are SO pert, SO excited, exuding the joys of moving – telling you how GOOD it all feels. They make me hostile. Likewise, I greet cloyingly sweet pictures and people with at least a silent snarl.

SO – you may react that way to ME this morning, because I woke up happy.

Though things are far from perfect, I have a pretty great life. I fell in love with my husband almost 60 years ago. We’ll celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in June. AND we don’t just love, we’re addicted to each other. That doesn’t mean – by ANY means – that I don’t want to punch him in the face on a regular basis, but we chose to share our lives and it was definitely a good choice. We lost a daughter when she was 2 months old to SIDS – but we made a son who makes us proud of the generous, caring man he’s become, who loves us, reaches out on an almost daily basis from halfway across the world, just to check in and make sure we’re okay. And we might spend Christmas together this year!

We have two dogs, Molly (a sweet, elderly cocker spaniel/schnauzer cross) and Amber (a 95 pound yellow lab PUPPY) who drives us nuts and makes us laugh every day; two cats (Abby (a tortoiseshell fat cat) and Smoke (a sleek grey hunter); plus 4 goldfish who have tripled in size since we added them to our family.

We have a home we built over 30 years ago on top of a ridge line in Arkansas and we still love it. Since the initial building, we added a shop, then later doubled its size, plus built a greenhouse that so far hasn’t succumbed to wind and rain. We’re reasonably close to town, yet enjoy complete privacy up here, a really nice combination. We have a view of several ridge lines – and since we can see them, seeing the seasons change – we can pretend we own it all. :0)

Our health is improving as we get some of our lard off and are trying to exercise. I’m mainly doing my elliptical trainer and yoga stretching for old folks. My husband is doing better and better trying to do sit ups. We are consciously trying to move more.

We are retired, so many days we can do what we want – or don’t want to do. I can try to be productive or enjoy curling up in my chair with a good book.  I can choose to check things off my to-do list or play in my art room. We have good friends who make our lives rich.

I woke up happy today. I hope you did, too.

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Filed under Attitude, doing what you love, Encouragement, Family, Good Thoughts, quality of life

Amber is at it Again

No one would believe, looking into Amber’s SWEET face and beautiful eyes that she can be so destructive. She won’t be two years old until March, but I’m beginning to think this is her natural personality, rather than merely ‘puppy-hood.’

We played a combination of ‘fetch,’ ‘tease-mom-with-the-ball-over-and-over,’ and ‘tug-of-war-with-a-spitty-ball’ yesterday in the front yard.  She weighs about 95 lbs now, so playing with her, throwing the ball the few times she actually lets me have it, and then bracing for impact in case she actually runs into me on the return is quite tiring. After we finished the pretense of ‘fetch’ we went out to the greenhouse. I prop the door open and she runs inside and out checking on everything while I water plants.

And what is my ‘reward’ for being buddies with Amber? I got up from the computer to find shredded silk flowers all over the foyer carpet. For some reason she attacked a bottle of flowers that have been on the floor in the foyer the whole time she’s been a part of our family. She has never shown any interest in the flowers before, so I found it particularly annoying.

I refuse to move everything we own up high enough she MIGHT not be able to reach and destroy it. There is no way I can control her movements every waking minute. We have doggy toys that we rotate, so she has something ‘new’ to play with. We make a point of either letting her out or taking her out so many times a day I’m not sure what we did with ourselves before Amber.

I’m HOPING that she will grow out of this.  It occurs to me that she has been companionable with a lot of my decluttering efforts. Maybe she is deciding what needs to go and making it so there can be no second thoughts….

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Thing One and Thing Two


Gym Junkies


When I came downstairs this morning, I found my husband cooking us breakfast! We are on NutriSystem, trying to get a bunch of our lard off, so we’re usually eating one of the NS breakfasts, so this was a really nice surprise. AND he didn’t go nuts, trying to cook what we USED to eat for a typical Saturday morning splurge breakfast. He cooked three pieces of bacon for us to share and two fried eggs. (No toast and jelly, no hash browns, no third egg, no three-pieces-each on bacon, or orange juice.) It was a wonderful surprise, and we didn’t even have to feel guilty, since it was in the proper range of calories for breakfast and we hadn’t had a flex meal breakfast this week. :0)


I told you recently that my friend, Marsha, and I are having trouble communicating lately. We aren’t sure what the problem is, but we’ve now confirmed email addresses, phone numbers, physical addresses, have talked on the phone, and are continuing to search for the reason for our problem.

This is Marsha (on the right) with a friend of hers.

This morning I received an email from Marsha, suggesting that we try to connect on the chat program via gmail. I searched all over the place and finally found an icon I could hit that showed she had sent me a connection request. We connected and then proceeded to type madly at each other! It was great, and I’m glad we have another way to communicate, particularly when all else fails. I’ll keep the chat program on all the time so that I can check it each time I come back to the computer during the day and evening to see if she’s left a message, or – better – if she’s available to type at me real time. Hooraaaaay!

What a GREAT start to my morning!!

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Sweet Doggie

Jill Abramson –

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Dog’s Life

Robert Falcon Scott via

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The Game is Afoot!

Amber loves to play with a ball, particularly one with a loud squeaky inside.

She comes to us, ball in mouth, showing us she wants to play. We ask for the ball. She puts her whole head in our hand with the ball in her mouth, or just the ball, still holding onto it. She tries to get us to play tug of war with the large, squeaky, spitty ball. Yuck. We do this over and over, with her taking the ball and running away, then coming back to tease us with it.

Then she finally lets us have it. We throw it, she runs like a maniac, gets the ball, and the game starts again. She doesn’t really want to play ‘fetch.’ She loves the whole idea of HER having the ball and OUR wanting it. For every time we throw it, she pretends she’s going to give it to us and then runs away, smiling around the ball as we wait for her to come again over and over … Anticipation is all.

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Sleek Molly

Molly really doesn’t like to have her picture taken, but here she is, fresh from the groomer’s. She is super-clean, smells wonderful (I don’t know what soap they’re using now, but it really smells nice.) Now I can see any varmints who try to hitch a ride on her (though things have slowed WAAAY down since the weather has cooled down some) and I can easily bathe her in the sink and get her dry if she and Amber slip off together again to roll in ‘whatever.’

The receptionist said she was a ‘good girl,’ so she got a cookie a minute ago and is now spreading out on the dog bed in the living room after drinking a ton of water.

We won’t have her groomed again until about March, so she’ll be ‘Fuzzy Molly’ again in about 3 months…

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Family Fun


These aren’t actual pictures of our dogs, but close enough.

By last night, I was having to remind myself why I thought it was such a great idea to have a houseful of pets….

Molly and Amber ran off yesterday afternoon. My husband and I weren’t communicating well (imagine THAT!) and he let Amber out without checking to see if Molly was already out.

They came back about an hour later, finally, covered in ‘stuff.’  It was cool outside, so I wet a micro cloth and used it on Amber, since she wasn’t as bad as the doggie above. I was able, after umpteen times of rinsing the cloth out and using it again, to get Amber to the point where she could stay inside with us.

Molly was a mess from head to toe, so I put her in the kitchen sink and scrubbed her. After using two bath towels to dry her, I was exhausted and decided she was dry enough to finish on her own. (My husband said she was still damp when we took them out for their final outing for the day last night).

Meanwhile, Amber showed us another result of letting the dogs out together by puking on the carpet. I found this out when my husband started cursing loudly and putting her out. We got things cleaned up and just settled down when Amber barked to come in. By mutual agreement, we put her behind the gate in the utility room where she sleeps. The rest of the afternoon and evening I cleaned up more – and more, but it was on the tiles of the utility room floor. We fed her only water the rest of the day.

This morning there was another spot, but it was from last night. We have fed her and put her back in the utility room until we learn if she’s keeping her food down or not today. We’re hoping she never finds whatever she found yesterday again!

Meanwhile, I called and scheduled Molly to be shorn as if she were a sheep Monday. It’s cool outside, but she usually doesn’t stay out long – particularly if her owners are smart enough not to let Amber out with her – and she’ll be much easier to clean for a while.

We love our pets. We just wish WE were smarter in dealing with them.

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Our Doggie In The Window

The Doggie In The Window
Every morning Amber sits like this after she’s finished her breakfast. She’s waiting for Molly to finish HER breakfast in the pantry, and waiting for US to finish OUR breakfast in the dining area right across the room from her. I can’t see her without the song by Patti Page running through my head –
How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggly tail
How much is that doggie in the window?
I do hope that doggie’s for sale
I must take a trip to California
And leave my poor sweetheart alone
If he has a dog, he won’t be lonesome
And the doggie will have a good home
How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggly tail
How much is that doggie in the window?
I do hope that doggie’s for sale
I read in the papers there are robbers
With flashlights that shine in the dark
My love needs a doggie to protect him
And scare them away with one bark
I don’t want a bunny or a kitty
I don’t want a parrot that talks
I don’t want a bowl of little fishies
He can’t take a goldfish for a walk
How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggly tail
How much is that doggie in the window?
I do hope that doggie’s for sale
Songwriters: Bob Merrill
The Doggie In The Window lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Music & Media Int’l, Inc
I’m also writing this to keep what Amber did lately in perspective –
  • Two days ago we turned off the TV late at night. This is the doggies’ signal that it’s time for the great game of “Out-A-Dog” followed by a cookie to each involved party and then bed. There is great enthusiasm, with Amber rushing over to us from her huge bed that is right under the TV. Two days ago I was slow to lift my bare feet and she, in her enthusiasm, stepped on the top of my right foot. Since she now weighs about 95 pounds, this is no small thing. It really hurt, and I yelled, scaring her.  A swollen area immediately popped up, shaped like a dome on the top of my foot. It doesn’t hurt anymore, but I have a very impressive multicolored bruise that is taking its good time to go away….
  • I have two ceramic type doggies decorating the front porch. I found them at a garage sale down the road, falling in love with them right away and adopting both to live at my house. For some reason, Amber either considers these ‘toys’ or ‘adversaries’ – I’m not really sure which. Her actions toward them go in cycles. All of a sudden one will be upside down on the porch. Or in the yard. This morning the brown one was upside down in the front yard where Amber had decided the felt on the bottom of it had to go. Bits of the felt were all over the yard. The fact that I have shown them to her and told her “NO!” in no uncertain terms only results in a sly, doggie smile. I’ve tried making the doggies go away for a while. I’ve tried going out with Amber, ready to discipline her if she goes to them. I’ve tried making sure a toy or two is in the yard, ready for play. So far, nothing has deterred her.

It’s a really good thing that she is so friendly and affectionate, melting me into a puddle several times a day with her antics….

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Greenhouse News

These are the smaller iceberg head lettuce plants from several days ago. I lost one overnight, but these two still seem to be viable.

The are the larger, leggy plants I planted yesterday. I’m pleased to see these are still alive. I’ve decided to pour water in the bottom of the saucers and let the plants draw the water up, rather than watering from the top down.


This is one side of the greenhouse.

This is the opposite side.

The far end.

The door end.

The side from outside.

Amber, my greenhouse helper.

Later, I’ll try to find tomato sucker plants.

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Family, Gardening, greenhouse, Healthy Eating, Starting - Growing in a Greenhouse


Yesterday was a very quiet day around here.

I’m starting a new round of cleaning out-cleaning up in my house, starting in our office, and made some good progress while my husband – whose computer is finally working again! – worked on a program to show prices on the stocks we hold.  The only time we went out was when I went to get the mail – taking Amber, who will go anywhere, anytime in the car, with me.

I did fight with more fire ants who were ‘disturbed’ when the Fedex guy ran into the palette of bags of potting soil that lives at the far side of the driveway area. I really hosed down the whole pile of bags with EIGHT spray, then went back a couple of hours later and did it again. I also took some time to spray a few new ant areas that have popped up in the past few days. This is definitely ‘Year of the Fire Ants’ and I guess only a hard freeze will actually get rid of them significantly. (At least I HOPE)

We cooked out last night. The dogs and cats were with us on the deck. We had a nice breeze as the sun went down. We lit the LED rope lights that go around the deck just under the top, making everything quite festive. Soon the air was filled with the glorious smell of steak grilling on charcoal.

Quiet day. Full of love.

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Family, quality of life

A Good Day

My husband and I are getting over the cold I brought home from my trip and graciously gave to him. :0)  Each day we’re stronger, though we both still feel we’ve been run over by a truck.

Today my husband spent much of the day talking to a Level 3 Microsoft person, trying to get Windows Office installed on his computer. This is a computer guru having trouble with something that is supposed to be so easy, but in truth took the EXPERT much of the day to do it. He finally said it was Windows’ problem, making my husband feel better about the need to ask for help. My husband has a LOT of important files in Word and Excel, so it was crucial that he get the program installed and working.

My SIL was kind enough to send me ‘cards’ on my phone, listing some contact information. I had trouble getting the files to ‘open,’ then FINALLY got the idea to check my gmail account online and see if they showed up in my contacts. After a LOT of fiddling around (I am NOT a computer guru and technology is basically ‘magic’ to me) I finally got my contacts to show. I found numerous duplication, due to my ineptness, and then went on to correct some outdated information, add more contacts, etc. so that now I have ONE list that also shows up on my phone. I feel empowered!!!!

I also have finally made it through the maze of getting the Visa gift cards promised to us when we installed the ADT security system in our home recently. It started with each of the people involved pointing to the other, but FINALLY I now have the certificates and codes needed to fill out the application forms. My husband was threatening to tear out the whole system, but I managed with firmness, rather than threats, to get what we needed.

I was contacted yesterday by a relative we haven’t seen in years, reaching out to us to let us know one of my relatives is having serious health issues. I can’t believe his kindness in essentially reaching out to a stranger, and in an incredibly kind way, letting us know what was happening in his family. I wrote back, thanking him profusely, asking more questions. He answered me today, again making me feel glad he reached out. Sometimes people can make you tear up with their generosity.

So, we’ve had a productive, good day and are getting ready to relax for a bit.

I hope YOU had a good day, too.


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Amber has been right with me since I came home.

I let her out for the second time this morning, along with our sweet, elderly Molly.


Molly barked at the door a short time after, wanting to come in. No Amber, but that isn’t unusual.

Half an hour later, I went to each door to call for her. Usually she comes in just a second. No Amber.

Some time later, I went out, calling. I walked out to the garden, then across the yard and over to the greenhouse, calling in all directions. No Amber.

I finally told my husband I was worried and was going to take the truck and look for her. He came with me and we drove all around, calling. No Amber.

We needed to leave for Lunch Bunch, so we left. We talked about the fact that Amber was probably stolen. She is very friendly and LOVES to ride in a car. She regularly tries to get in the UPS guy’s truck. My heart was in my throat. She has a collar with her name on it and our phone number. She also has a tag with the same information. She has a chip imbedded.  I planned to call the vet when we got home to ask them to be on the lookout.

We had a good Lunch Bunch. One of the waitresses was having a birthday. I took her an “I Need a Vacation!” frame with glass on both sides, forming a bank for donations. She got a kick out of that – particularly when I took a dollar and left the first donation. :0) I encouraged her to put it on the counter at the restaurant…

We drove up the driveway when we got home and THERE WAS AMBER!

Neither Molly nor Amber can tell us where she was, but that doesn’t matter now. I checked her over and she seems to be fine.

I’M fine now, too. Whew!


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Fly, Fly Away…

Guilford Education Alliance

I am flying to Thibodaux, LA to spend time with two of my favorite people. I’ll be back Wednesday. Hold the fort and have a great week!

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Stacia Tauscher via

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Quote Ambition

Since we currently have two dogs, two cats, and four fish, I guess it’s fair to describe us as animal people. We have a hard time picturing ourselves without our furry or wet friends. They make our lives so full and are a constant source of amazement, consternation, and laughter.

Amber is our 92 pound, 17-month old yellow lab ‘lap dog.’ She crawls right up into my husband’s lap while he sits in his recliner, making him laugh out loud. The look on her face when she gets settled is priceless.

Her newest thing is that when you rub her tummy, she puts her head down, going down farther and farther until she does a forward roll right in front of you, ending up upside-down, her feet waving in the air, chewing on one of her front paws. She loves for us to rub her stomach at that point, and would do it all again, over and over as long as we could stand it.

I’m almost afraid to type this, as it may cause the trend to stop, but she has stopped being quite so destructive. Shhhhhh!

She wants to go with us in the car – careful! that’s one of her words!  – wanting to go anywhere, any time.

She wants to be with her people, except when she’s greeted the UPS guy, wanting to get up into his truck……

We are truly rich in animals.

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Dog Song

Good Morning Quote

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Our New ‘Brand’

email from Bill Lites

Everyone on TV has a ‘brand,’ a title that describes in a nutshell who they are – like, “Chief Cook & Bottle Washer for the White House.”

My husband and I never realized that in trying to work from home, and later, when we both retired, our ‘brand’ would change from titles such as “Computer Analyst”, “Self-Employed EDI Specialist,” and “Installer and Fixer of all things Mechanical or Electronic,” for my husband; and “Public School Teacher,” “Owner/Teacher of my Reading Clinic,” “Administrative Assistant,” “Medical Transcriptionist/Bookkeeper,” and “Owner/Artist of Creative Artworks” website for me to “DOGGIE DOOR OPENERS.”

Sometimes the two doggies go outside together, sometimes separately. We humans get a good bit of exercise daily answering our dogs’ signals they want to go out, or barking at the door when they want to come in. There have been times when I’m interrupted so many times trying to write a blog post that I have to stop and read over the post again and again after losing my train of thought.

Amber’s signals that she wants to go out vary from

  • showing up beside you suddenly with a happy look on her face, to
  • nuzzling us to get our attention. (If this results in an absent pat while we’re obviously concentrating elsewhere, she escalates to
  • putting her nose in your armpit and throwing your arm in the air, or
  • letting out the bark from Hell that causes men and women to shoot straight up in the air saying colorful things

Molly comes over and quietly puts her head on my lap.

  • If that doesn’t work, she puts her face up in the air and tries to growl fiercely, or
  • she’ll sit beside the door, hoping a human shows up.

The doggies bark at the door to come back in, but they do not connect the barking and opening of the door with actions of humans. We have proved this because they will be outside with us while we’re working in the yard. They’ll go to the front door, across the yard from me, or into the garage and bark at the door. They KNOW I’m outside with them. If they connected the action to ME, they would come over to me and roust me. You can almost see the gears turning, aggravated because the door doesn’t open until I go in…

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Sneaky Amber

Amber is getting sneakier as she ages.

Her newest “trick” is getting into the trash. This is not your “dump the trash can over and strew it all over the place” type trick. It’s much sneakier. She KNOWS she is not supposed to get into the trash. When we feed Amber and Molly in the mornings, we have Molly on one side of the gate that is in the doorway between the dining area and the living room and Amber on the other, or Amber will sneak by us as we’re fixing breakfast and eat Molly’s food after wolfing down her own.

While we’re distracted, she quietly goes to the trash can beside my living room chair, takes ONE piece of trash out and distributes it in several pieces. She doesn’t dump the trash can. She takes one and ONLY one piece out each morning. She never gets into the trash at any other time of the day – just in the morning. It’s as if she’s taunting us.

If I remember to dump MY trash into the can beside my HUSBAND’S chair, we’re okay. If I forget, the one piece of trash is on the floor when we finish breakfast and are on our way to the office.

We let her in to the dining area as soon as Molly finishes eating. She and Molly like to sit down on the floor beside the dining area table, hoping for a bite or a plate to lick. She knows she’ll be fed – and a good amount. She knows she’ll get a bit extra from our breakfast. She knows she’ll get clobbered if she gets into the trash. The taunt continues….

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I Love Dogs – Take 1

Roger Caras –

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“Fun Sunday” with Pets

I’ve been having a wonderful time with our pets today.  Above is Amber, a playful, ready-for-anything, 17-month-old, 92 pound yellow lab ‘puppy.’ Whoever told us that labs were puppies until they were at least two years old couldn’t have hit the nail on the head better. She has gone through a period where we were lulled into thinking she was leaving puppy-hood behind.

We’re supposed to be getting a lot of rain this afternoon with possibly severe stuff this afternoon and evening, so I’ve been trying to get the dogs in and out several times today before it will be unpleasant for them to go outside.

I went to let Molly, our elderly fuzzy white cocker spaniel/schnauzer cross in and saw a blue and white ‘something’ on the stops leading down from the porch. When I went to investigate, I found it was the label of a water bottle. Looking further, I found FOUR bottles of water in various states of demolition in pieces all over the front yard.

Grumbling, I gathered it all up while Amber danced a jig around me, obviously saying, “Look what I did! I had SO much fun!!!!”


I took the bottle pieces around to the garage to dispose of them. I started to put Amber inside and found Smoke, our cat, demolishing a bird on the mat in front of the steps, looking incredibly proud of herself. I got a paper towel, took the bird away from the now-frustrated feline, saying, “YUCK!”

I got the remaining case of water off the floor under my counter and put it on top of the counter, along with the gallon jugs of Arizona Zero Peach Tea we keep for my husband – thinking they might be next in line as ‘new toys’ for Amber.

It took me about 15 minutes to sweep up all the feathers. Smoke left in a huff after staring at me awhile.

I can’t wait to find out what Molly and Abby have in mind to entertain me today – not to mention the fish!


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The Bottom Line

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Coloring in the Lines?

Khaled Hosseini via

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I Love You

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Amber is Lifting Weights

I just went outside to see if I could get the texting on my cell phone to work. It’s been on the fritz for a couple of days now. I think I’ll call AT&T tomorrow to see if bringing my phone in to them would do any good.

Meanwhile, when I was on the front porch I saw one of my dumb bells in the front yard. It seems that Amber has decided to work on her arms some…

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Stacia Tauscher via

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Abby and Smoke

As I told you recently, I’m having lots of fun with a new toy – a 4 LED Tracing Board. It’s a light box, but extremely thin, and plugs into my computer. I can trace my own artwork, grab pics from the net or books or magazines. Then I can transfer the tracings to my sketch book using carbon paper so that I can concentrate on learning techniques for adding fur or feathers to the drawings. If I had to draw each from scratch, I would be totally intimidated and the learning would be stopped in its tracks.

Yesterday I added tracings of pics I’ve taken of our doggies, Amber and Molly. Today I’m going to add these of Abby (above) and Smoke (below.)  Once I get these into my sketch book, I’ll start trying to learn from a really good book I’ve had for a long time, Keys to Painting Fur & Feathers, edited by Rachel Rubin Wolf. There are drawings and hints on adding realism in various media. Since I really love mixed media, I can play with techniques to my heart’s content, learning a ton with each tracing.


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