Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring (and Regeneration) is In The Air
 Yesterday the sun was shining and it was one of those days in which the leaves seemed to glow like good chalcedony. I walked over near a peach tree I'd had for 6 years or so which never had gotten a successful crop before (what peaches it had the first year promptly fell off and never reappeared) and lo and behold this year there are peaches growing! They were very well camouflaged because if I hadn't been looking at a certain angle and the sun hadn't been shining in just the right direction I might have walked right by and missed them altogether!
As you can see here, some are already as big as a golf ball and are showing just a hint of color! Peaches are just about my favorite fruit of all, so I plan on guarding these with my life. Once they get bigger and are closer to being ripe I'll wrap each one in mesh to keep out the bugs and birds. I'd say there are probably 20 or 30 on this tree. I planned ahead to save on my grocery bill, and it seems this has finally paid off.
The two Granny Smith Apple trees in the back yard have only gotten one or two apples in the past year or so, but if the peach tree is bearing fruit that could be a good sign for the apples this year.
Carmella has been having a good time and has been a really good sport while waiting for her leg brace to be made.
She really enjoyed the warm weather and walked and nosed around the yard looking for squirrels and birds. We've got a few nests on the porch's eves that look like they might contain some expectant mothers ready to lay their eggs soon, busily flying back and forth carrying twigs and soft material in their beaks. Carmella finds this fascinating, looking upward and barking as they go about their business.
Then when she tires of that she eventually lies down in the grass to soak in the sunshine.
I stayed out there for hours to catch her in her cutest poses. Getting her to stay still long enough is not easy, but after she'd burned off some of that excess energy I was able to get some really regal shots. She has some really beautiful expressions, but you have to get very lucky to catch her in those before she moves or changes how she holds her face.
A friend of mine says she looks like Gene Simmons when she pants.
Finally she was hot and tired and went onto the back porch to lie down in the shade.
Next for Carmella; I need to continue looking into contacts and pertinent research for Carmella's stem cell transplant to regenerate the ligament tissue and neural cells.

I've been preparing for the show coming up in just two weeks, getting all my ducks in a row. My jewelry shop sales number continues to hover at 89 sales. Need to break that soon. It's been stuck there since January 21st.

Please help Carmella and consider making your purchases at  for your Mother's Day gift or any other occasion for which you might want jewelry and in the process get yourself or a loved-one some unique and beautiful jewelry.  If you've looked, hearted, (or didn't) and said to yourself "someday" this would be a good time to take the plunge.

Also, please keep the donations, blog ad purchases, and supply sales coming. Each of these will bring me closer to my goal. Thanks to everyone who has helped so far. Blog, tweet, and spread the word to all dog-loving buddies!

For jewelry:

For supplies:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Carmella Sees The Orthopedist
This morning we headed to Northlake Veterinary Surgery to find out the extent of the damage to Carmella's ligament and get her set up for a custom brace.

The office was not far from my house, set off the street in an unassuming little building surrounded by a small strip of land containing ornamental grass like that outside of GA. Veterinary Specialists. Sitting just outside Stone Mountain nobody would know from looking at the outside that this small clinic housed state-of-the-art facilities and dealt in high-dollar treatment for canine and feline orthopedic disorders.

Only when you entered did you find out that many rescue organizations brought their dogs here; dogs with broken legs needing repair, dogs with hip displaysia, and dogs with a whole variety of joint and ligament problems, many of whom had been down on their luck until finding that right person willing to go to the mat for them.

A large black Newfoundland limped with his owner to the car, back leg and side shaved.

As we waited in the waitingroom a red Doberman came out with an elderly woman. "What a beautiful dog" I commented.

The woman regarded me with amusement and with a tight-lipped smile said, "An expensive dog!" Sure, it was pure-bred, and most likely show quality but that wasn't what she meant.
Carmella pulled heavily on her leash and whined in anticipation of meeting new people, new dogs, and new experiences. She looks at the world with curiosity and wonder much as a young child does on vacation.
The receptionist asked me to fill out another new patient form because the online system had failed and they'd lost data for the past week. My friend and I talked to each other and some of the women in the waitingroom.

A few dogs came and went and then a vet tech called Carmella back to one of the inner examining rooms.

I noticed that the room contained two small rugs; one on the table and the other on the floor below. Carmella nosed around sniffing and listening at the door to the people and dogs who had come in the front entrance, then plopped down on the small swatch of carpet in front of the chair I was sitting in. She got up and lay down several times, bounced on her leg trying to propel herself forward with exuberance toward the sounds she heard coming from the next room.

In walked a tall, thin young man with dark brown curly hair and a scruffy beard who looked more like a stoner than someone you'd expect to find in an animal hospital. He wore blue scrubs and seemed a little disheveled. He came around the metal examining table with outstretched hand smiling broudly.

"Miss Carlington?" he said in a falsetto voice. "I'm Dr. Corse". Shaking my hand, he then looked at Carmella who had already started to jump up on him. "She's not shy" he laughed, taking hold of her on the head with both hands and looking her in the eye. Carmella licked him and wagged her tail.
"This dog has a very interesting history" he went on. "Dr. Muller told me, and I don't think I've ever really seen a case like hers with myoclonus and a carpal ligament injury. Whether or not the two are related is hard to know for sure but we can do both a neuro exam and an orthopedic exam to see how much of this is related to possible nerve damage and how much related to the ligament, how much might be arthritis-related with one of the joints in the wrist." He went on to explain that in some cases the central nerve can be affected and cause lameness and sometimes it is intact and not a contributing factor.

We discussed the options of surgery, a brace, and stem cell transplant, and I was glad that he was not averse to the idea of stem cell transplant although he said that not alot of research has been done on its use on this type of ligament. He had heard about that German Shepherd with Hip Dysplasia on TV lately who had a successful outcome treated by Dr. Hines in Alpharetta. I told him I would rather work towards regeneration of the ligament than destruction of bone which would forever and irreversibly change her range of motion. I couldn't bring myself to go that route. Something about it is repugnant to me. He said with the brace there was no rush to do surgery, but that he didn't think it would heal from the amount of scar tissue which might develop over time and her leg would probably do the same flimsiness once it was removed after any length of time.

In any case stem cell transplant might or might not work, but it sure couldn't do any harm. I'd heard the same thing about the CSF procedure from Dr. Muller, and it ended up working to cure the distemper, so I thought, this kind of statement is a good sign. Maybe the two are cut from the same cloth.

He examined Carmella's response to pinching the top of her foot and leg, and tapped on her tricep. He noted that the main nerve was intact but that there could be some problem in smaller surrounding nerves although it was impossible to know for sure because of the jerking that might be disrupting her reflexes.
Then he walked her around and felt all her joints, commented on what good overall physical condition she was in.

I told him that I had read up on the brace and that would give me time to look further into the stem cell transplant and exactly which technique might help heal both of her current problems in the leg, while preventing any further deterioration. He seemed to think that was a good plan, and said he could take some X-rays to see what small parts of the wrist might be affected so that the right brace could be built for her. They would put her under "light sedation" and then move her leg to see how far it hyperextends on X-ray. I asked whether there was any risk of making the injury worse, and he said that the pressure applied for that was less than the pressure she applied standing on it.

He said that they could do that and make the mold today and that it would all take about 2 hours or so.

They said they'd call me when she was all done and then my friend and I left to kill some time at my house. Carmella was finished around 3:00 and we headed back to pick her up. She was a little calmer than usual but not extremely sedated.

The vet filled out some forms, and I filled out some forms related to the brace, the vet tech told me it would be delivered to me in about two weeks and then the receptionist checked me out. The bill just about knocked me out and I asked her to give me as much time on my Care Credit as humanly possible because I'm going to need it! I pulled out a few of my business cards and asked her to spread the word to all the staff that I make jewelry and that these sales will help pay off Carmella's veterinary expenses. She nodded and took them.

Carmella had a lttle bit of diarrhea in the pinestraw outside but other than that did not to seem to have any side-effects.

We headed home and I gave her dinner, then finished a small bowl of pasta myself.
I listed a few things in my supply shop while Carmella took a nap. Then I took some cute pictures of her when she woke up stretched and moved around a bit in the kitchen.
I want to thank all those who have donated recently! Your contributions are much appreciated! To those who are reading and would still like to help Carmella, keep it coming;

* Purchase an ad on my blog in the "Top Spots"
* Buy Jewelry from
* Purchase Supplies from
* Use the Please Donate to Carmella Button in my sidebar for whatever amount you can afford.

Every reader who helps Carmella in any of these ways will be an important part of the solution and will bring us a little closer to our goal of $6,000.

In today's economy medical expenses can be almost as devastating as the health problems they come from, not only in human health but for pets as well. These animals rely on us to be their protectors, and as any animal-lover can attest, they give back so much more!

Step by step we are returning Carmella, this incredibly special dog, to full health.
With Love and Action All Things Are Possible!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Possibilities for Carmella
A company called Ortho Pets is improving the lives of lame dogs and even some cats with custom-made braces and prostheses making normal ambulation easier and more comfortable.

After speaking with Dr. Muller a few weeks ago I did some reading and found that with rest and protection from further damage some ligaments can improve and in some cases heal.

Scar tissue can build up around damaged ligaments and strengthen them enough to bear the weight a dog normally puts on his or her legs.

Carmella now has an appointment for Wednesday, April 21st with a veterinary orthopedist named Dr. Corse of Northlake Veterinary Surgery who will take a look at her Carpal Ligament and make a mold of her right front leg which can then be used to create a custom brace.

I went to the website of Ortho Pets which seems to be the leader in the orthotic and prosthetic device field for animals, and what I saw was quite innovative!

After reading everything I e-mailed them and sent pictures of Carmella's leg, and one of the owners of the husband and wife-run business wrote me back with some initial recommendations.

Included was this link to a video of one of 4 types of devices used in cases like Carmella's in which the Carpal ligament is unstable and lax. This particular dog is wearing two braces of this type, and has the problm in both front legs. The dog, is able to get around quite well, and unlike with the surgery that is usually recommended for these dogs the legs are not fully rigid and the device allows for some natural bend in the leg. This type has a shoe at the bottom;

Here's a dog with a similar model but on just one front leg;

This one is another variation that does not have a shoe on it, for dogs that don't need quite as much support;

This is a dog with only 2 legs using two of their prosthetic devices!

The quote I was given for Carmella's particular orthotic is around $500 (for just the brace, not including whatever else she might need).

I don't know for sure whether this is paid for through the vet's office or directly from the company but I hope I can initially pay with Care Credit, as I don't have that kind of cash! I am still way far away from my financial goal and have several thousand dollars yet to raise. Carmella has had more than her share of bad luck for one lifetime, maybe even two lifetimes!

I've been trying to limit the amount of exercise she gets until she can get one of these, but that is pretty hard to do beause she tears around the house even when I let her into my room at night to get up on my bed. I'm always worried she's going to injure her leg further because she bounces around so much. She hardly ever just walks from one room to another; she runs at top speed and makes sharp, jarring turns just about whenever she moves. Giving her a rawhide bone keeps her still for awhile, but she is so high energy that  she'd nearly have to be sedated to get her to slow down!

In an effort to bring in some funds I've pulled out a few art pieces I made that I've held back for a few years, but will now offer these for sale to pay for Carmella's expenses. I hope there are historical collectors and other enthusiasts who would like to buy these.

The first two are paintings from my September 11th Series. They are the only remaining paintings I have, as the others were lost at a gallery and I have been unable to locate the rest of the set.

It Makes You Realize What's Really Important
12 1/2" X 12 1/2"
These are both framed.

George W. Bush in the Oval Office
12 1/8" X 15 1/4"

The third is a ceramic sculpture.
6" X 3 1/2" X 4"

The sculpture was inspired by Eskimo art.

Please leave a comment if you're interested in purchasing one or more of these art pieces and leave a way for me to contact you and I'll provide you my Paypal e-mail.

If you would like to help Carmella there are a number of different ways to do so;

1) Purchase one of the art items in this article

2) Buy a small Top Spot banner ad in my sidebar through Scratchback

3) Purchase jewelry from

4) Purchase supplies from my supply store at

5) And/Or use the donation link on the top right of my sidebar in whatever amount you can afford.

Please also forward the link to my blog to as many people you know as you can and ask that they be a part of the solution as well. I'm beginning to worry if things don't pick up soon that I may not be able to pay the minimum payment on my veterinary credit card. With your help the balance can eventually be paid off and we can get her the help she needs to fully heal from what has happened to her.

Keep Carmella walking and running!
My goal is $6,000

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter-A Message Beyond The Religious
Some people associate Easter with the resurrection of Christ, but if we look at its broader implications to all people of all belief systems the take-home message is really one of hope and regeneration.

Think about it; the common tradition of hunting for brightly colored Easter Eggs is inherently about pleasant surprises, beauty in otherwise simple things, comforting and happy images of adorable bunnies, and other baby animals that symbolize youth, freshness, and life full of possibility and wonder.
Trees are budding, crocuses sprout from their slumber and pop forth their cheerful colors in shades of purple, and birds begin to stir in the trees, chirping as the sun comes up each morning signalling the beginning of Spring.

This is a time to take stock, evaluate where you are, and where you need to go from here, clean out the old, and phase in the new.

For many art based businesses, this year, even more so than years past, this is a time to fine tune one's operations and to decide which baskets we place our "eggs".
For some this may mean doing more shows, and for others looking for more stores through which to sell our wares, and/or it may involve looking at new ways to reach out to customers in existing venues to affect the perceived usefulness of the product.
One way I do this is to try to think of every possible use one might have for the products I sell and promote these uses along with the product. This doesn't always work, but it is one more tool you can utilize.

Think of each potential customer as not just that person but as a social network. Ask yourself who they buy for beyond buying for him or herself.

That person themselves when first viewing your product may not immediately think of all possible uses for it, so something you suggest may jog their memory and turn a view into a sale.

Does this customer have a daughter who is getting married next month?

Does she have a sister whose birthday is coming up?

Is this person a young man with a girlfriend who just happens to love pearls and he might want to buy her something for an upcoming dinner date?
Maybe the person now viewing your unique greeting cards needs a special Mother's Day card that has a message he or she just can't find in a commercial store.

Customization is always popular. A name, a color, a specific stone, or other image that has special sentimental value to that person or their loved-one may make it worth spending the cash they are holding onto.

With so many demands on an often tight budget people want to get something they feel justifies their spending it on a non-necessary item. The potential buyer may feel guilty about spending any unnecessary money, but this can be offset by the value the item imparts upon their lives and the lives of others they might give it to.

Take for example a veterinarian whose livelihood depends on maintaining a steady stream of regular customers.  That vet may find it advantageous to buy hand-made dog treats from your small business because giving these away to his customers while they wait in the waitingroom helps to cement the relationship and builds loyalty.  Some vets already offer this, and others may not have thought of it yet. If you mention this in your advertising, on business cards, or in talking to people one-on-one you may gain some buyers that had not considered before that this will help them build and maintain loyalty in their customers!
Similarly, hair ties may go over well in hair salons. These can be great as add-on point-of-purchase items at checkout, or as giveaways with services that the salon wants to sell more of. Spending $30.00-$40.00 on a bunch of hair ties for the salon owner just might bring in several hundred or more dollars in business, so although there is some initial investment, the expenditure pays off and is not frivolous.

Gifts make people feel appreciated and loved and employers might want to give these as incentives or rewards for a job well done, especially if they cannot afford to give raises this year. With job descriptions expanding beyond salaries any little token of appreciation throughout the year can help to remind workers that their contributions in the workplace have not gone unnoticed.
By the same token, supplies enable potential buyers to do many things which expand beyond the face value of the product itself. They can be used to create items for re-sale, to create lower-cost gifts instead of spending more money on finished items from a commercial store, they can be used to decorate one's home, to entertain children, or to give as charity offerings to organizations that use crafting/art as part of their programs to help others less fortunate.

If you're a teacher you know that the budget for art has continued to shrink, especially in the public school system, so buying supplies for the classroom can enrich your curriculum. When your students learn the valuable lessons that art and fine craft can illustrate, the returns are immeasurable! Besides, this is a prime opportunity to teach children why it's important to support small business/micro-enterprise.

Whether you own a business that markets handmade art or fine craft items, know someone who does, or whether you live outside that construct and work in a more traditional field, Easter and the beginning of Spring carry a universal theme. Today brings with it yet another opportunity, and the greatest value is not of material things themselves; rather demand's driving force is the relationships they forge in our lives.