Monday, January 28, 2013

Obama, Congress Restore Horse-Slaughter Industry

It's about time.

Slaughtering horses is a touchy subject. But as a horse owner and lifetime horse lover, I feel like I can comment on the subject with both my heart and my head. For the record, I am morally opposed to slaughter, but I can afford to be.  I am a responsible horse owner. I don't own more horses than I can afford to take care of. My male horses are gelded, and I have no plans to breed my mare.

Horses have a shared history with man, working alongside him in the capacity of machine before there were steam or diesel engines.  Horses were the early day embodiment of tanks, the tractor to pull the plow, the ATV for rounding up the cattle, the tug boats for pulling barges along rivers, the train for moving people west in stagecoach, the fed-ex airplanes of their day in the clothes of the Pony Express, and even today they serve as the police vehicle for crowd control in many cities. Wherever you find the history of man, you find beside him the horse and the dog.


Horses aren't house pets. They aren't even backyard companion pets. There are city ordinances against keeping a horse in your backyard in most  residential neighborhoods.  Horses are classified as livestock, the same designation as cattle, pigs, goats, and chickens. True that their role as livestock is very different from that of the animals we Americans eat, but that's because their historical and emotional value to us goes beyond their value as a meat animal.  Regardless - they are livestock just the same. 

At the same time, I love my horses and I am horrified by the problem that closing the plants in the United States 6 years ago created. There is a huge problem with unwanted horses in this country. They went from being a champion cause for PETA during the debates for closing the plants to a complete nightmare for local equine rescue organizations, who haven't got the resources to house the huge increase in unwanted horses that now have no bottom dollar value. 

Do a google search for equine rescue.  They'll have "before" pictures of their current adoption animals.  Those photos are graphic and you'd best have a strong stomach before you look.  Here's the link to my own local rescue - Blazes Equine Rescue - who are doing an amazing job in the face of overwhelming odds.  

The problem is currently the same one as the one we face with abandoned kittens and puppies, with the exception that horses are usually contained and more visible, and owners who can't support them just leave them to fend for themselves. The number of cruelty cases has skyrocketed. The number of neglect cases is unbelievable. The number of horses living unseen miserable, invisible existences is beyond my ability to even comprehend. At that's just in my own state. Multiply that by 50.

The anti-slaughter coalition's solution, "just don't breed," was about as successful as the current campaign for "new gun legislation." You can't tell free Americans what they can and cannot do with their property and their civil rights.

The tragedy is this.  American horses are still going to slaughter. The original legislation simply removed the provision for federal inspections of the American processing plants.  Without inspection, the meat could not be sold.  But that did not eliminate the market demand.  So horses in the northern parts of the United States have been transported to Canada.  Those living in the southern part of the United States have been transported to Mexico. 

Transport is a euphanistic word for "traveling long distances in overcroweded trailers packed in like sardines with no rest stops and no water for the duration of the journey.  Animals lucky enough to arrive alive are met with crowded conditions and minimal if any humane care for injuries sustained during the long journey to their last stop.  

What has been happening to American horses in most of the Mexican processing plants is cruel and inhumane. There is no "captive bolt" or "quick death." There is a butcher knife shoved through the top of the neck and into the spinal cord, then the animal is strung up, still conscious, to bleed out.  There's video available on You-Tube if you have the stomach for it.  I couldn't watch it.  The first images are still giving me nausea and nightmares.  

Mexican Equine Slaughter Plant Footage

I'm not a crusader.  You won't find me sending money to PETA.  I don't make a difference in the lives of any horses but the ones that come in contact with me.  But now that you know, you need to think about where you stand on this issue.  And my stand is this: 

By making it possible for the processing plants to reopen in America, we are at least providing the opportunity for our unwanted horses to meet a dignified and humane end, with a continued usefulness and service to us after their lives are over. And that's infinitely better than a miserable life.

I'm going outside now and give Java, Charlie, and Buddy a hug.

Reference Links : 

Idaho Horse Council
Washington Times
Temple Grandin

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Swirlydoos Ultimate Design Challenge - Week 2

Hi everyone.  

This is my second project for the Swirlydoos Ultimate Design Challenge, which means that I made the first round cut!  I'm so excited - because the competition and talent is FIERCE.  This challenge is definitely a mojo stretching, creativity inspiring, pull out all the stops, pedal to the metal kind of competitive series.    

Our video inspiration tutorial was hosted by Rae this week. Rae is into layers - the more the better. Not surprisingly, our assignment then was to create a layered project. Rae didn't SPECIFY how many, so it turned into a really fun competition between participants of "just how many layers can you GET on that page of yours anyway?"

First item of business, I needed to pick a photo to work with.  

My sister and I went to Italy in October, and we made a point to take a "sister picture" at every major stop. This one is at the tower in Piza. The photo - my sister was my matron of honor and I was hers. We did this same photo at both of our weddings - 25 and 30 years ago. I thought about doing a then and now thing, but this photo is really for my Italy vacation album, so I'll save that idea for another time.

I actually already scrapped this photo once for my mom's mini album. But I wanted to do a layout of it for my own album, so I've been looking for the right set of circumstances to line up. This week, they did.

I'm going to play this project in a couple of additional challenges at  The first is the Book Of Me Challenge which Char hosts.  The assignment this month was to scrap a milestone.  If a trip to Italy for a country girl from Oklahoma isn't a milestone, I'm not sure what is. It was also the first time my sister and I had shared a room since we were kids. It was so fun to find out that we could be friends as well as sisters. I had such a GREAT time. I mean, yeah it was Italy, but I went with my SISTER. How cool is THAT?

And I'm also going to submit it to Kimberly's Stamping On Your Layout Challenge because I did. Honest. I stamped some script writing on these papers in a couple of places - but I don't think that it shows up too well in the photo. Look really hard at the right edge of the brown polka dot paper and MAYBE you can see some of it. There's more, but the dark ink just doesn't show up well on the dark paper. You can see it in the real life version, but its subtle.


TECHNIQUE DETAILS - for inquiring minds...

Day One was all about the papers. First item of business was that BoBunny Weekend Market collection. That was a total no brainer.  As far as I'm concerned, BoBunny knocked it out of the park with this paper line. It's one of my all time favorites - right up there with Kay & Co's Blue Awning.

I stopped counting paper layers at 11 because that's my lucky number, but I think that there actually ARE eleven layers of paper on the basic bones of this project. The mist work on the doily is Lindy's Buccaneer Bay Blue Moon Shadow Mist. (Moon Shadows are my FAVORITE Lindy's product.) 

Then I let the project marinate overnight.  It needed a serious time out.  It was arguing with me about flowers.  I wanted to use some fabric burlap and organza ones.  My layout wanted to live with cluny lace and wind up roses.  It was being seriously bossy about it too, and I just couldn't deal, so I left it all by itself overnight to think about the consequences of its choices.    

Day Two - I figured since the project was about layers, and since my project and I were STILL arguing about flowers, I decided the embellishments could stand a little layering too.

First is the little Italy stamp in the memo pin.  I had two of those stamps, so I cut one out with my stamp scissors, put it onto some chipboard, then put that on top of the other stamp, so it's a layered embellishment. The doily clock is another one. The doily is a diecut by StampinUp, cut from a BoBunny Double Dot paper.  Then I used an OLD Heidi Swap clear clock from my stash (Roman Numerals, of course), some metal clock hands (from Michaels sale aisle), and finished with a vintage brad (also StampinUp from my stash). And the little journaling block is also layered. It was a clear sticker which I stuck onto the BoBunny Double Dot, then layered a Tim Holtz tile fragment on top of it.

I did the Dusty Attic flourishes (which are ALSO my favorite) with some modeling paste, brown smooch spritz (Log Cabin) darkened with Walnut Stain reinker, and then some Lindy's mica powder in Tibetan Poppy Teal on top when it was dry.

Day Three - down to the wire. I sat down to have a serious discussion with my project about the floral embellishments.  I tried my very hardest to convince it to play nice with those burlap and organza flowers. I had visions of burlap in my head and I just couldn't understand why my layout didn't share that vision.  But its response went something like, "are you KIDDING? SERIOUSLY?" I whined a little and tried to explain that the cluny lace flowers it wanted me to create were going to be too much work - that they involved needle and thread and figuring out center pieces... My layout didn't care. It said, "this photo - it matters to you. A lot. It really deserves the best you have in your arsenal. Now shut up and get after it."

I've learned never to argue with your project. You can't win. Better to let it be the driver and you just ride shotgun and help it steer.  Cluny lace and wind up roses it is.

The wind up roses are done with Tim Holtz's tattered pinecone die. The big flower is an old Prima, color changed courtesy of the Buccaneer Bay Blue mist. The smaller ones are hand done with cluny lace, colored up with Stormy Sky ink, and then finished with some of the Lindy's Teal mica. I layered those with a couple of metal brad flower enhancements (I'm not sure if that's the right word - they're metal flowers that are designed to have brads stuck into them), then stuck some small stamens in them to make them behave like real flowers. I had to enlarge the hole in the metal with my crop-a-dile for the stamens to fit through. The tiny roses came from the dollar aisle at Michaels. They started their lives white, but once I pull out the Moon Shadow, NOTHING is safe anymore.

Only thing left was the green ferns from a floral stem and some floral stem winds - really small gauge stuff - and it was done.

So, yes, it took days, but you know - sometimes the end result is worth the time investment. This was one of those times. I'm so happy that my layout was so hardheaded about those flowers - because in the end, it really did know what it was talking about.  I could not be more proud of how this project turned out. 

Sunrise Series - Week 4

January 21

We watch the dawn remaking the world in its antique pattern.
~ Oscar Wilde

Venus has been in the morning sky this month, but this sunrise was the only one where I managed to get her on film. It's not the most glorious sunrise I've ever photographed, but I do love the transition of the blue to the gold against the horizon.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sunrise Series - Week 3

In my years of taking sunrise photographs, one of the things I've come to realize is that the thing that makes a sunrise incredible is cloud formations.  But it's difficult to see those in a time of severe drought.  However, every so often, God puts them there to inspire and remind me that he is in control of the heavens, and all I need to do is have faith and wait.  

Rain is coming.  Eventually. 

January 14 

Swirlydoos Ultimate Design Challenge - Week 1

Swirlydoos is having a design challenge for the next six weeks.  The prize package is absolutely over the top, but the main reason I wanted to participate is that Swirlydoos has always been the place I go when I need to feed my creativity.  I was a kit member for a long time, and Krissy is the best when it comes to figuring out what I want before even I know what I want. 

Anyway - the first challenge was to create a  milti-dimensional embellishment.  We had to start with a die cut and then turn that into a usable embellishment using at least two art mediums.  Then we had to display that embellie on a finished project. 

Man.  Talk about creative fun!  

Here's what I came up with for my little embellishment.  

I cut out a bird from the Tim Holtz birdcage die, along with two wings.  Then I covered those with modeling paste, which I textured to look like feathers.  When it was dry, I puddled some shimmer mists onto my craft mat and applied them to my bird with a paintbrush, also adding some Lindy's mica powders to REALLY bump up the shine.  I used a distress marker for the beak, and I added just a tiny drop of dimensional paint to a black bling for the eye. The flowers are from the Tim Holtz tattered flower mini strip, inked with Victorian Velvet ink, then dabbed with glossy accents and dipped in glitter.  The base is cut from a Stampin'Up die, it's just chipboard covered with paper.  Then I used a Tattered Angels stamp, clear embossed it, and covered it with Iced Spuce ink.  

I kept my layout project simple.  I plan to use it as a teaching project, and I know that class time will be taken up with creating the embellishment and flowers, so there will be little time for much else besides paper cutting and distressing.  

It's also going to be a two page layout - something I don't do very often - so that's why it's a little lopsided to the right.  

The photos are from last summer when Tom and I went to Taos.  I'm in the basket - second from the left, and yes, I was PETRIFIED!  It took a while for me to relax and enjoy the ride, but once I got into it, I have to admit that it was really fun.  Definitely a once in a lifetime kind of thing.  I'm glad we did it.  

The right side of this project is still on my craft desk.  I'm trying to get it finished this weekend! 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Paper Mixing Bowl Debut!

I've been sitting on this layout for a month now, and I'm so excited that I can finally show it to you.  It's my first design team project for the Paper Mixing Bowl - an online challenge forum which is open to anyone.  It's so creative and fun!  Each month Sarah and the DT put together a recipe card of technique, color, and sketch specifics, and then you get to put a layout together.  Submit it and you could earn a spot as a GUEST DESIGNER for the site.

Here's this month's recipe card.

And here's my DT project.

And a few detail photos as well.  I'm not instinctive about these close up shots yet, but if you'll bear with me, I'm sure I'll get better.  

I'll be more than happy to tell you what I did and how I did it if you'll just leave me a note in the comments section.  Thanks so much for stopping by my little blog.  Check out the other DT projects and then get your play on and join us!  I promise, you'll have more fun than you can possibly imagine!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sunrise Series - Week 2

This week was a week filled with grey skies, gloom, and little to photograph in the way of sunrise.  Each morning, the eastern sky simply lightened up and the definition of the world became visible.  Except for one.  

January 8.

There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope. 
~Bern Williams

Monday, January 7, 2013

This Is My Life 2013

I had so much fun a couple of years ago with Project 365. It encouraged me to get in the habit of carrying my camera and taking pictures. I sort of got out of that habit, and I think it's time to revisit it. So I'm going to play again. Project 365 - take a photo a day. Doesn't matter of what, just do it. At the end of a year, you'll have a documented record of one year of your life. 

Last time I played, I did my own alter to the idea and instead of scrapping one page of 7 photos each week, I took one photo from the week and scrapped that. Apparently, it was not an idea that was unique to me, because now the project has various other options. In addition to Project 365, there is a Project 52, and a Project 12.

I'm going with the Project 52 option, same as last time, only I'm committed to the photo a day.

This is my cover page layout for my Project 2013 Album. The photo was taken New Year's Day, early morning, and these three are waiting on me to feed them. That's the story of my life - somebody's always wanting something.

For the past four years, I've taken my January 1 photograph of the morning sunrise, but this year, the skies were overcast and there was only a gradual lightening of the grey gloom. I hope that doesn't say anything about the upcoming year, but I think I'll choose to focus my thoughts on the look of hope and expectancy on the faces of my three equine companions. Maybe they know something I don't.

From left to right : Buddy, Java, and Charlie

The basic design for this came from the Nuts About Sketches sketch #247.

I used several challenges at to help the thinking process flow.  The color scheme was from an old Design Seeds color palette.  Those colors really do look beautiful together, and I'm so happy that my album is off to such a beautiful start.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hello 2013

My friend Rick has been posting some sunset photos on facebook.  Boy has he got an incredible view!  His photos are awesome, and they've inspired me to resurrect my Sunrise Series for 2013.  

Here's a little background.  

Every morning I go outside and sit on The Church Of The Back Porch And A Cup Of Coffee.  My backyard faces east, towards the sunrise, and I find it peaceful and calming to start the day watching the dawn colors creep across the horizon and gradually spill across the sky.  It warms my soul and encourages my meditation time with my Creator.  There's just something about the fresh and new potential of the new day which spreads out before you full of hope and endless possibilities.   

Not every sunrise is spectacular, and not every morning has one.  This new year dawned covered in clouds and fog and gloom at my house.  But I have created the habit of taking a photo of each and every morning at my house.  And those photos are archived on my photo disks by month, day, and year.  

For 2013, I'd like to invite you to join my Sunrise Seires Meditation time.  I'll pick a sunrise of the week for each week and post it to share with you.  Eventually, these will end up in a scrapbook album somewhere I'm sure.  

Here's the thought I usually find myself meditating about...  The next time a sunrise or sunset steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way.  Say nothing, and listen as heaven whispers, "Do you like it?  I did it just for you."  

That's just overwhelming, that the God and Creator of the entire universe cares enough about ME to paint my world with beautiful color in the morning, just so I'll be encouraged to start my day with happiness and hope.  

Here's Sunrise #1.  Taken Sunday morning.  New Year's Eve.