Draw Me LIke One of Your French Girls - If You Must

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One of my main goals for 2016 was to take some photos of my cats that I am proud of.  I wrote about it on this post.  I will be honest with you, it's it's not been as easy as I thought it would be.  Cats move very quickly and some of mine our seemingly camera shy.  The above photo of my oldest named Chanel (a Himalayan Persian rescue cat) is especially camera shy so I was happy to get this shot of her.

The title of this post " Draw Me Like One of Your French Girls" was taken from the movie "The Titanic" .  This movie came out in 1997.  It's hard for me to believe it is almost a twenty-year-old movie as people still watch it a lot nowadays.

As you can see Fleur LOVES the camera.  She seems to like posing in front of flowers.  She was found in a flower bed when she was only a few weeks old almost 9 years ago.  We took her in as a foster cat around that time.  I think after nine years she will be with us for good ;)

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 Here is another of my "foster" cats named Peanut.  He will be 10 years old this fall.  I'm grateful that he is not very camera shy either!

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And here is peanut again while I am practicing with a new Focus type lens that I've been having a tough time learning to use:

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Here are some of my very camera shy kitties.  The black one is named Princess and is about nine years old.  The Siamese looking one is named Sasha who just turned six.  The Tortoiseshell cat is named Piney.  Piney is FIV positive and about  four years old.  She is kept healthy with a fairly new drug the few people know about called T-cyte.  Many people ask me if it is expensive.  It costs us about $60 dollars each time she gets a shot which is about twice a year.  

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 Here is peaches sporting her lion cut.  She is normally very fluffy so we get her groomed during the summer because it's so hot here in Florida.  Peaches is also FIV positive. We took her in more than two years ago when she was found nursing seven two week old kittens next to a dumpster.  We took her to the vet the next day and learned she was F I V positive.  Only two of the kittens tested FIV positive, but after six doses of T-cyte when they were very young they became negative.  T-cyte truly is a miracle drug in my opinion.

We don't know peaches exact age.  All of our cats are rescues so we don't know most of their exact birthdays.  The only one we know for sure is our oldest who is pictured at the top she was born in her foster home on May 29, 2004.


Cat-1212646_960_720Lastly I will leave you photos of Elizabeth and Jasmine.  They are sisters who are approximately 10 years old.  Elizabeth, pictured first, looks like she got into my eyeliner.  They were the first foster cats that we took in.  They were very lucky to survive as they were found in a barn in the middle of the winter in Ohio.  Their mother had been stepped on by a horse.  Luckily they are happy and healthy cats now. 

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I think Jasmine tries to make me feel guilty when I'm packing to go out of town :)

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Thank you so much for stopping by to see my first kids.  I will continue to work on their portraits throughout 2016 and beyond.  I would love to hear your comments and advice on taking pictures of pets.  As always you can use my photo for free using my Pixabay account here.  I hope you all have a wonderful week!

~Michelle

 

 


Remembering Coco Six Years Later

 

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In spite of March 19, 2010 being one of the worse days of my life, I want to honor Coco who was diagnosed with GI lymphoma at age 4. We did everything we could and she defied the odds and was in remission until she was almost 6. She was a rescue that we got when she was 8 weeks old with her sister Chanel who we thankfully still have.

Please remember you can get a full breed  cat or dog at a rescue shelter. Coco was a Himalayan Persian. She was so sweet and smart. She played fetch - even by herself. She would throw her toys downstairs herself and go get them. She also had a butterfly that she carried everywhere and always slept next to. Losing a pet is always hard. I just wish she could have stayed with us longer.

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 When she passed away I wanted to know how long the PAIN would last.  I've learned that, for me, it never really goes away.  I've learned how to deal with it though.  As far as getting another pet...I felt wrong doing that, but I think it's a personal decision when and if a person chooses to get a new pet.  I waited five weeks (as long as I could) and got Sasha from our local shelter.  She had been left there the day before.  The doctor said she was five weeks old when we brought her to the doctor - coincidence?

For me, one of the hardest things about traveling is missing my family and pets and one of the best things is coming home to them. This is Sasha who we rescued when she was 5 weeks old from a shelter. I say she is Siamese (but is probably a mix) and think she is beautiful! A few people have said that her face is funny as it's asymmetrical. She is glued to my side and can be fast asleep but follows me and sits on the counter while I brush my teeth at night.

Cat-1212647_960_720I did feel a little better after I got Sasha.  Here are she and I about a week after she joined our rather large family:

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Here is Chanel taking time to smell the flowers: 

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I know that it talking about the loss of a pet is not the most uplifting topic.  I do appreciate you stopping by and reading about my Coco.  I've learned that losing a pet can be like losing a small child.  Don't be afraid to reach out for help of any kind if it happens to you.  Take care my friends!

~Michelle

 


My Travel and Photography Goals for 2016

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The above photo is of my angel Coco who left us on March 19, 2010

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I stopped making New Year's Resolutions a long time ago when I realized that I never kept any of them and they always seemed to be the same.  I do believe that setting goals at any time of the year is a good thing for me to do.  Although I do plan to travel this year I want to take more photos while I'm at home.  I especially want to take more photos of my family, cats and friends.

I also got a new lens for my camera that will take really great bokeh photos.  It's a very different type of lens than I'm used to working with. I think that it's going to require a lot of practice as it has controls on the lens itself.  I would like to create some prettier and more colorful bokeh photos than the one of my chandelier you see above with one of my favorite quotes by Dorothea Lange.

CatsAbove are Peanut (age 9) and Princess (age 8)
CatsThe above photo is Jasmine who is ten years old and is Elizabeth's sister seen below who is also ten years old.  They were our first "foster kittens that we fell in love with and decided to keep.

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This is Coco's sister Chanel.  She will be twelve years old on May 29, 2016.  We got them from a rescue organization when they were only eight weeks old.  We miss Coco very much, but are so happy to have her sister with us still.

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This is Fleur who is almost eight.  She was another foster kitten that we thought it best to stay with us.

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This is Jack who is about four years old.  Someone left him at our house when he was about six months old.  Our veterinarian believes he is a Main Coon cat.  He weighs about twenty pounds, but the doctor does not think he is overweight.
Cat-762079Finally, we have two FIV positive (Feline immunodeficiency Virus) cats you can see below.  The orange cat's name is Peaches and the grayish brown cat is named Piney.  Peaches is about five years old and Piney is about four years old.  Since all of our cats are rescues, we don't have definite birth dates for any besides Chanel.  Piney and Peaches have their own room and balcony in our home,  The risk of them infecting our other cats with FIV is very low, but we've decided not to take any chances.

Piney and Peaches are kept healthy with a fairly new drug called T-Cyte.  Few people know about this medication so I will post the link here.  It's not as expensive as one might think it would be.

http://tcyte.com/.

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What are your goals for 2016?  I hope the new year is starting well for all of you!  Have a wonderful week!

~Michelle

 


Ruth and Idgie: An Abandoned Paralyzed Cat and Dachshund are Adopted and Inseparable

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Ruth and Idgie were named after the characters in the popular movie "Fried Green Tomatoes"  Ruth is a partially paralyzed cat, but can still get around (a little slowly) to eat and use her litter box.  Here is their new home's, Hollywood Hounz, address and phone number in case you ever want to visit Ruth and Idgie or adopt some of their beautiful cats.  

        Hollywood Hounz

  • 4243 W Lake Mary Blvd
    Lake Mary, FL 32746
    Longwood
  • Phone number: (407) 688-7626

.  Please be sure to watch the following video about this Dachshund named Idgie and partially paralyzed cat named Ruth:  The following two minute video can be found on Youtube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AkTdvTOngo

 
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Ruth and Idgie being visited by another rescue cat who is on a diet and has lost weight since being taken in by Hollywood Hounz:
Pano (1 of 1)-350Ruth and Idgie getting ready for a nap in their bed:
Pano (1 of 1)-350Pano (1 of 1)-350Idgie:
Pano (1 of 1)-350Here are some other beautiful rescue cats at Hollywood Hounz.  Most are available for adoption:
Pano (1 of 1)-350This beauty is a Maine Coon cat:
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Pano (1 of 1)-350There are some adorable kittens available for adoption too:
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Pano (1 of 1)-350Their store/boutique is very nice!
Pano (1 of 1)-350I will leave you with a short video I made of my husband feeding Ruth and Idgie treats:

I will leave you with a photo of Ruth and I.  As always I appreciate your visit.  Please feel free to leave me any questions or comments.  Have a great week everyone!

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 ~Michelle


Seeking Solace With Santorini's Cats at Kamari Beach

“You can judge a man's true character by the way he treats his fellow animals.” ― Paul McCartney

It did my heart good to see how well cats are treated on the island of Santorini in Greece.  While I was there I visited a restaurant several times where there were several kittens and cats. After what happened in Bali last year:  “Knowing it and seeing it are two different things.” ― Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay , I told myself that I was going to avoid all stray cats and kittens because I couldn't take the heart ache of having something happen again like in Bali.  

I told the owner at this restaurant that I was  going to go buy a big bag of cat food for the cats that I saw lounging around on a couch in his restaurant.  He seemed offended and said "I feed and water them every day".  It did my heart good and restored my faith in humanity for a while.  I went back there more than once.  I needed to seek the solace and comfort get away from the tourists given the fact that this vacation was not what I had expected it to be.  If you read my last post:  What Do You Do When a Tragedy or Emergency Happens at Home While Traveling?  you know what I'm talking about.  The food was wonderful the service was great and I highly recommend that you stop by this restaurant if you are ever in Santorini.  I just wanted to write about this wonderful experience because it did help me get through a tough time.   Yes I was on a beautiful tropical island and I had my camera so I was able to take pictures, but in all honesty I couldn't wait to get home.  

Santorini is an incredibly beautiful island and I would like to believe that someday I can go back and truly enjoy it.    Having said that, the world is a big place and there are many other places I want to see you as well.  

Visiting this restaurant was one of the bright spots of my vacation in Santorini.  Thank you to the owner for taking such great care of those cats.  As you can see they are very happy and healthy looking,  

I was very happy to learn about a group on Santorini that helps the numerous strays on the island.   Santorini Animal Welfare Society (SAWA) is an animal welfare association this gorgeous island. They are a small organization and mainly focus on spay/neutering which is extremely important in stray populations.

Here are some photos of Kamari Beach:

Pano (1 of 1)-337I loved the colorful boats and cabanas all over the beach!

Pano (1 of 1)-337It's a very popular place!
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Pano (1 of 1)-337I loved watching the kids play on the rocks
Pano (1 of 1)-337Kamari Beach is a really relaxing area away from the crowds of Oia
Pano (1 of 1)-337There were many, many nice restaurants overlooking the sea
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Pano (1 of 1)-337The beaches are a little rocky - I live near Clearwater Florida where the sand is like baby powder so it's just different to me.
Pano (1 of 1)-337It was nice strolling down the streets lining Kamari Beach
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Pano (1 of 1)-323I found this pretty church on one of the side streets

Pano (1 of 1)-323I also found some nice boutiques with pretty clothes and a happy cat :)

Pano (1 of 1)-323Then I found  a nice, away from the crowds restaurant named Koutouki tou bekri AKA as"cat heaven: 
Pano (1 of 1)-323They were allowed inside out of the hot sun and allowed to rest on a nice and comfortable couch.
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My two very well behaved and entertaining dinner companions:
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Pano (1 of 1)-323Kissing kittens:

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For dinner I had sparkling water with lemon ( my usual) and grilled halloumi cheese with tomatoes and pita.  Very yummy!
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And my favorite apple pie with just "a little" ice cream ;)

Pano (13 of 15)Here is their contact information if you want to visit them which I highly recommend!

Pano (1 of 1)-323Playful, happy, and healthy kittens!
Pano (1 of 1)-323Below is a beautiful table handcrafted by the owner:
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 I will leave you with the message I left in their guest book - they have no idea how much they helped me !!!

Pano (1 of 1)-323 Thank you so much for your visit.  As always, your comments and or questions are always appreciated.  have a wonderful week my friends! 

~Michelle


What Do You Do When a Tragedy or Emergency Happens at Home While Traveling?

To know life, one must love many things.”

Vincent van Gogh

I wish I could buy a ticket to heaven for my next trip.  Heaven gained a new angel while I was in Europe last week.  Our Black Lab Shadow went to the Rainbow bridge on July 20th, 2014.  Shadow got along great with our cats.  We love him dearly and he will be so missed.

Shadow was a black lab who we found running around in the middle a busy street in Columbus Ohio.  He had been fixed, but was very skinny and had what is termed Separation Anxiety Disorder which is also known as SAD.  Separation anxiety disorder is likely caused by abuse and or abandonment.  Shadow became very attached to my husband and only my husband.  He went everywhere with my husband - to work, to the store, anywhere he could go Shadow had to go too.  If Shadow couldn't go with my husband he would just lay beside the door until he returned. 

As Shadow got older than about age 10 or so his separation anxiety decreased some.  When he was about 10 years old we thought he may have had a stroke.  It turns out he didn't have a stroke but he had a problem called "Old Dog" Vestibular Disease which you can read about here: Our Scare With "Old Dog" Vestibular Disease. 

We don't know exactly what age shadow was when he passed away last week but the vet estimated he was around 14 years old.  My husband took the best care possible of him that he could even when shadow became mostly blind and deaf and needed help standing up.  He took care of him the best he could.  My husband would take Shadow to the vet periodically to be sure Shadow was not in pain and or suffering.  Shadow had liver cancer which likely was not causing him pain, but in the end the cancer may have spread to his bones.  

 While in Athens I was able to check my e-mail.  It was then I learned that Shadow was in very bad shape.  That was on a Sunday and my husband planned to take him to the vet on Monday to see if there was anything else to be done.  By the time I got to my hotel in Santorini and was able to call home he had really gone downhill.  I did get to say goodbye to him over the phone, but I would not have been able to make it home on time to say goodbye to him.  

I looked into flights to get home from Santorini even though I had already prepaid my hotel.  It would have cost me more than $3000 to get home.  I really did consider just leaving right away and going home, and I definitely would have if it would have meant that I would've been able to say goodbye to Shadow.  Shadow, unfortunately, passed away long before I could've made it from Europe back to the US.  

Shadow had been very sick for a long time we really didn't know if he had days weeks or months he definitely seem to live and have a quality life for a lot longer than we ever would've imagined.  Whenever I left to go somewhere for more than a few hours I made sure that I told him I loved him and gave him a hug.  Upon reflection, I do wish that I had found a way home early from Greece.  I did not enjoy the trip as much as I should have.  I don't know if I will ever return to Santorini or Greece, I have no idea how much more I would have enjoyed the trip had this tragedy not occurred.  I really just couldn't wait to get home from the time this happened.  

I'm not sure if this will be a lasting feeling but this is made me realize how important being at home with my loved ones is.  We have other pets and I never would want this to happen again.  My cat Coco was diagnosed with cancer when she was only 4 1/2 years old.  I didn't dare leave her when she was sick.  There's no way I would've gone on a trip when she came out of remission.  If there had been services for a human being that needed to be attended, I would have spent thousands of dollars to get home I do always insure my trips, but unfortunately insurance companies don't consider an animal the same way they do a human being. 

I did not discuss this on Facebook when it happened, it was just too hard.  I knew I would get 1 million different opinions on what I could or should do.  It came down to being a very personal family decision I wish that I'd never gone on a trip, but Shadow had been stable when I left.  If I had thought for one minute that he would pass away while I was on my trip leaving my husband to deal with such sadness and grief I would not of gone.  In my opinion no amount of money is worse not being there for your family member when they need you most - whether it be a pets or a human being.  

I don't want my love for travel to end because of this tragedy.  I canceled a trip that was scheduled for the near future.  I just need to come to terms with what happened.

“The tragedy of life is not death but what dies inside us while we live.”

Norman Cousins

 As much as I love to travel, there is nothing more important to me than being with family at a time of need, or especially in shadows case, at the end to say goodbye.  I'm sure there are some of you reading this that would have made a completely different decision than I did and would have spent any amount of money to get home to be with their family even after shadow passed away.  I understand that and I respect your opinion.  Trust me, there is nothing you can say that will make me feel any worse than I already do.  I do feel a little like this trip to Europe was a bit of a waste as the last half of it was not that enjoyable.

I'm very unsure whether or not I will want to visit Austria or Greece again given the memories that I have.  I do know that there is no way we can time or predict these things.  All I know for sure is that I would not have boarded the plane in the first place if I had known what was coming. 

Shodowcollage730Shadow got along great with our cats!
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Photo 2(2)Shadow when he was around 7 years old:
Pano (1 of 1)-121Shadow when he was around 11 years old:

Shadow1Shadow when he was around 14 years old in June 2014:

Pano (5 of 8)How we want to remember Shadow.  We got everybody "dressed up for St Patrick's Day in 2010:

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Shadow's urn:

Pano (1 of 1)-255Here is our cat Jasmine being watched over by Shadow :)

Pano (1 of 1)-254These are two black dog figurines that I found in Santorini and bought in memory of Shadow:

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Goodbye our sweet Shadow RIP

Pano (1 of 1)-121  Thank you so much for reading and stopping by.  Have you ever experienced a tragedy while you were traveling? If you have any stories to share and don't want to leave a public comment, please feel free to email me my contact information is listed at the top of my blog. 

~Michelle