Friday, December 31, 2010

End of the Year Ramblings

If you start going to the gym before January 1st, it doesn't technically count as a New Year's Resolution, right? And therefore I am more liable to keep up the habit, right? Right. Good. Although the screaming protests of my muscles indicate "good" is not the opinion they possess of this new endeavor. They can shut up and get back to doing their normal jobs, such as raising my arms high enough to be able to wash my hair and walking down a couple flights of stairs. 

The first actual snowfall of the year has finally shown up and Sawyer couldn't be happier! This dog loves snow in way that is illegal in 13 states. Because my dog's happiness is so important to me (and not because I'm trying to win back his good graces after leaving him with Engineer Boyfriend for Thanksgiving, who proceeded to spoil him rotten) I will be putting on far too many layers of clothing, braving the single digit temperatures and taking him to the dog park. There will be pictures, assuming the camera doesn't freeze up. I need time to work up to that level of masochism however, so I'll continue to hibernate in my spiffy fleece PJ pants with a hot cuppa. That's tea, for you non-Doctor Who/BBC/UK folks. It's fortifying.

There won't be a lot of pictures in this post because Blogger is not letting me access my files and I'm stealing very slow internet, so I can't just load everything to Flickr and link from there.

Being that this is the last day of 2010, the only cool thing to do is post some sort of reflective  "Looking Back at 2010". And I'm all about being cool.


I can't believe I typed that with a straight face.

"Stetsons are cool."

Yes, Doctor Who (Matt Smith), yes they are. 

Anyway...for me, 2010 was a rollercoaster year. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

 This is what some of the worst times felt like.
 Swiped from the amazingly talented Allie Brosh over at Hyberbole and a Half.  
Please go read her blog so she doesn't send an Alot after me. 

Basically, it was like a normal year, though I have to say the latter half has by far surpassed the former. I won't regale you all, the faithful few, with the recountings of my deeds, both mis- and regular and not just because I don't want an archived copy of them floating around. Really. I will, however, pass on a few hard-won lessons.

 - Take chances.
Sometimes chances should be named "Hiroshima", because the fall out from the antecedent explosion will continue to have insidious effects for far longer than reasonably expected.  Sometimes they will pan out into the most awesome thing you could have ever hoped for. Sometimes chances are frightening, but you should do one thing every day that frightens you. It builds character. Go to (safe) places by yourself and strike up conversations, you never know who you're going to meet! The upward business trend I'm experiencing right now can be directly traced back to a giant networking social event a few months back I went to on my own. The butterflies in my stomach nearly choked me as I walked through the doors and encountered a mass of strangers. Armed with liquid courage (aka Jack n' Coke) and my bottle of Pure Instinct pheromones, I set out to make new connections and that's exactly what I did. I've met some of the best people in Denver stemming from that event.

If nothing else, at least try to learn something from the experience, even if it's just "Never do this again."

- Listen more, talk less.
What other people have to say can tell you a lot about who they are as a person. In business, listening more will help you better address various needs, wants and potential opportunities and you won't have to talk as much to get what you're after. At the very least, less talking on your part means other people have less to twist and throw back in your face at a later date. This is something I wish I had learned years ago, but I paid too much attention in kindergarten when they told me "sharing is good!" Damn you, public education, you have failed me again!

-First impressions aren't always correct.
I've met some great people lately that came across as "standoffish" or "snobby" at first, which is not the case at all. Shyness is very easy to misinterpret. Some people are just having a bad day.Be nice to everyone you meet, you may be the only bright spot in their day.  The converse is true as well; there are those who make great first impressions and that's all they have going for them.

Just don't be invisible.

-Fake it 'till you make it.

Except with orgasms.

If you're having a bad day and have to go be around a large group of people, pretend you're having a great day. Plaster that smile on with super glue, if necessary. Chances are, you'll end up in a better mood sooner than you thought! Of course, there are always those days where nothing and nobody is going to make it better, in which case, I recommend Netflix and pajama pants. And a dog. And a bottle of something requiring you to be at least 21 years old to imbibe.

-"Don't let the bastards get you down!" 

Double fact.

Regardless of who you are and what you do, you will have detractors. You will have critics. You will have to deal with people who are mean simply because they can and therefore think they should. Besides:

"You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

This is a good thing, I promise. 

-Do fun stuff!
Don't wait "until" or "when". "I can't do _______ until I have ________." "When I have _______, then I can finally  ________." Have that mindset and "when until" will never happen. If it's a reasonable endeavor (I'm sorry, you can't own a hot air balloon working for $10/hr) then find a way to make it happen.

You want to go learn how to knit, even though you're 17 and everyone is saying knitting is for old people? Go do it! To a six year old, you are old already. Go do the things you've always wanted to do and don't listen to those who tell you it's a waste of time or other such nay-sayings. Never pass up the opportunity to learn something new, to experience something new and to discover something about yourself.  

-The Law of Attraction/Surround yourself with good people.
Whether it's those who are successful in business or life in general, seek out those who are doing what you want to be doing and learn from them.

Ok, have I hit the "pompous windbag" stage yet? I'll end here either way.

-Everyone screws up.
Everyone. Fail your way to success, or at least find new and interesting ways to make mistakes. Making the same old mistake more than once is boring. Don't be boring. If you're going to FUBAR something, make sure to do it in such a way it'll be a good story for the grandkids. 

Happy New Year! May 2011 contain double the awesome of 2010, with none of the headaches and only a fraction of the guilt.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Home for the Holidays

In this week's "Rescue Dog Plug", someone should give Yoda and Hercules a home this Christmas. They came over to my house the other day for some new photos to go up on CPR's website.



Both of these special needs guys are being fostered through Colorado Pug Rescue. They're both around 10 years old and blind. Hercules was attacked by a larger dog when he was a little younger and Yoda has diabetes. He does require insulin shots, but other than that, you'd never know he had much wrong with him. He follows his nose and ears pretty well and has the most adorable little prance to feel out where he's going. Hercules prefers to sit in one spot and just be loved on as much as possible. They had been in the same home, but the owner felt that between the blindness and the fact that her other dog didn't take too kindly them to anymore, it was time to find them somewhere else. Both of these guys have a lot of love and life left, so consider them if you are looking to add to your canine population.

Buddies 4 Evar

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Do What You Love

I've been following Pacing the Panic Room for awhile, just in awe of his style and editing capabilities. His "Walk To 40 Weeks" series just brings a smile to my face each time I go back to look at it; the emotions just pour through the lens in a way not everyone can honestly capture. I don't really photograph people much, though I started to branch out a bit this summer at the stables. Something about cowboy hats automatically turns most photos into something a lot more interesting. Anyway, he's been doing a rather inspiring series lately called "Do What You Love". That, combined with (finally) finding and reading the entire webcomic series of Jeph Jaques' Questionable Content, who is constantly thanking his readers for allowing him to be a full-time artist, working on something he loves, it's gotten me to thinking. How many people out there are truly doing what they love?

I consider myself pretty lucky to be doing what I love. Being a consultant for Passion Parties (R) has been probably the most unexpectedly rewarding things I've found myself involved with yet. I'm not just a "sex toy" lady, as the stereotype goes. Instead, I've gotten involved with a company and product line that addresses a few rather basic, and key, areas of essentially everyone's life: sex and money. The most common reason relationships (married or otherwise) tend to devolve isn't due to a lack of love in many (most) cases, it's boredom. I give tips and tricks on how to bring that spark back, even if it's just on how to restart the conversations between you and your partner. With every party that I do, with every product that I sell, I'm helping that person in at least one way. You'd be amazed at what regular satisfaction can do for a person's psyche, self-esteem, health, etc. There's also the money aspect of it for those who have chosen to become a part of the team, whether it's mine or someone elses. In these times, even just a little bit of extra cash can go a long ways towards keeping down the stress levels. And hey, there's nothing wrong with being able to honestly write off a trip to Vegas as a business expense, right? Right. Viva Conventions!

Yes, that was as shameless business promotion. Lawl.

Not to mention, being a consultant has given me the scheduling flexibility I need to really get involved with what I love: Dogs. Rescue. Photography. A combination of all three. I've been doing some fundraising photoshoots over the last few weeks in addition to helping out with transports where I can. I've been learning a lot as far as some technical stuff goes, such as "work with familiar lenses and never try to shoot in an art gallery that strives for a warm feeling." Having wood floors that are the same hue as the walls and a black ceiling wreaks utter havoc on lighting and dogs don't hold still long enough to be able to work with a low shutter speed. I also don't have a fancy enough camera at the moment to be able to jack up the ISO to compensate without introducing some noise, but I managed ok. I very much prefer to work outside.

 There were a few rouge Brussels Griffon in attendance as well, both loving owned and those hoping for a new home.

The end result is good, however: about $700 was raised for Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue and Front Range German Shepherd Rescue !

Yesterday I was the resident photographer for the joint meetup between the Littleton Pug and Boston Terrier groups; Mid America Boston Terrier Rescue and Colorado Pug Rescue were also there with some of their kids needing homes.

Like this adorable gal...

Dozer and his chariot of fire

CPR tied little ribbons around their dogs, so they were rather easy to spot. MABTR was a little more difficult to pick out who was there with their foster parent and who was there just to tear it up. One thing about Bostons, they make the most excellent derp faces.

"Herp derp!"

I just like how the guy on the left is like "C'mon, really, dude?"

And of course, there was a random smattering of other random small dogs. Like the ever adorable French Bulldog, Beignet, and her fellow posse. You may recognize Beignet if you've seen my portfolio.

Most of these guys were born deaf and usually amble around wearing a little cowbell so their owner can keep track of them. She had the most adorable addition this time, another little Frenchie pup, whom she took back from a Boston Terrier show breeder after the lady complained that the Frenchie "didn't act like her Bostons."

I'll give you a second to let that sink in, or the screams die down, which ever.

People like that make me want to commit some sort of criminal offense for a number of reasons. A) There are enough dogs in rescue for stupid, preventable reasons ("I just got this 50lb dog two days ago and found out that my landlord only allows dogs up to 25lbs. And I'm moving.").

B) It's getting hard enough for the good, legit, responsible breeders--and they DO exist--to continue doing what they love and pour their heart, soul and savings account into, without help from jerkoffs like the above.

C) Is it really so hard to do a little research before getting a new dog? I mean, REALLY? Just because a breed is in the same weight range and has a similar body type, doesn't mean the personalities are going to be alike.

In general, just do some legwork before getting a dog. Herding dogs are going to run around and bark. Retrievers are going to chew and shed. Danes are going to grow to be the size of small ponies. Five seconds of Googling could save everyone a lot of time, trouble and money.

Ok, rant over paused. I could go on for quite some time about the utterly stupid things I've seen and heard and I'm not even on the hardcore front lines of rescue/shelter work. So instead, because it is 1am and I have a rather business-y day ahead of me tomorrow (hooray for creating customer mailing lists!), I will leave you with the picture of a very happy Aussie and his early Christmas haul, courtesy of a very special--and not so secret--Santa type person.

 He's already demolished half a bully stick and has decided the shark is his new favorite.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oh hey, look, an update!

This summer was basically one big time-eating black hole, which meant that the blog was one of the first things to languish. And instead of trying to explain everything that went on, I'll try and summarize in 10 pictures or less.

I decided to go play cowboy

Saw more sunrises than I ever though I'd see in my life

This is Hank, the Evil Red Horse. He threw me like the second week I rode him. I got some "extreme exfoliation" on my forehead from the sand, but that was about it. We became buddies after that. 

Tried to spend as much time with Sawyer and friends as possible.

 Tried to keep up with the whole hiking thing.

Started my own pet photography business!

Tormented the dog some more with the camera

Trying to eat the souls of small children out of the ether. Or catching popcorn. Whatever. 

And became rather attached (and not just by the lips) to a certain very special guy. Pardon the whole swimsuit thing, this was from waterskiing and one of the few times I wasn't the one holding the camera. 

So there you have it! "What I did on my summer vacation." Obviously I took a billion more pictures than I put here, but those will be for a later post.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I broke my dog

We took a quick trip up to Boulder last weekend for a hike on one of the prettiest days we've had yet this year. Most of the area allows dogs off-leash that are under voice/sight control, so Sawyer took up his spot about 2 feet behind me (or right in front of me so I'd trip) and away we went. I'm really glad I had spent 1 1/2 hours bathing and blowing him out the day before and got rid of the last of his undercoat, because it was rather warm once we got going. Fluffy!Dog had turned into something of a SlightyFat!Dog over the last couple of months (thanks to some health issues on my part, combined with miscalculating his food a bit) and wasn't terribly happy with the sustained pace and insistent climbing after a bit. I've got a penchant for clambering around boulders and such and silly dog has to always try and find a way up with me, which resulted in some very sore paws by the time we hit the summit.

All of these were taken with my iPhone, so there's nothing spectacular about the photography itself.


"Are we there yet?"

I have a penchant for clambering around large boulders at rest breaks instead of actual resting. Sawyer, being the worried old nursemaid that he really is, tends to pace around at the bottom, whining profusely and trying to attempt to get up on the rock with me. He's getting better at doing that too, as seen here.

Although this day was a bit different; by the second break-for-climbing, we got this instead of the usual lifeguarding:

"You really think I'm moving from this spot?"

Eventually he did move, mostly because we got back on the trail and started walking away. He can't be more than 5 feet away from me, pretty much ever. 

Looking out over Boulder

The halfway point.

"So tired my legs fell off."

"Ok fine, I still have a couple left."

Eventually, after going over hill and dale, we hit our summit, about 9600+ feet up. Quite a view, eh?

Can you spot the Aussie?

He found a bit of shade and dug himself a little cool hole and hung out there while the stupid humans guzzled some water, took in the scenery and got a tan in the process. We could see some rain moving in and in the mountains, weather moves fast and it's not the brightest of ideas to get caught out in the open. So we turned and started head back but Mr. SoreFeet eventually started falling further and further behind on the hike back down, which is unusual for him. I checked his pads for burrs or pine needles and realized they were just hot and sore.  He was flat out tired and pretty much shooting me death glares. Not a whole lot we could do at that point, so we ended up with this idea:
Being in the world's best shape myself, I made it about 200 feet before the path took a steep incline and I couldn't quite manage it with a load that weighs half as much as I do, so I had to set him down, or at least attempted to. Sawyer was so happy at being carried that he refused to put his feet down and ended up falling on his face. After that, he decided walking was ok as long as we set a very slow pace. Luckily we hit upon one of the switchback parking lots within 5 minutes, so I poured him another Frisbee full of water and had him lay down in the shade while my friend ran (literally) back down the mountain to where we'd parked the car and drove up to collect us. 
"Wherever he lands, there shall he be buried."
While we were waiting, Sawyer garnered a bunch of attention and sympathy from other hikers. He's so abused. Even the park ranger didn't say a word about him being off-leash in a posted "on-leash" area, because he obviously wasn't moving any time soon.

"Yes, so abused. Please send help. And new feetses."

I figured with all the exercise and drama queening,  he'd be DeadDog that night and LimpyDog the next day...nope. He took a long nap and was back to play bowing and pouncing on his tennis ball after dinner. 

And now, of course, is begging to go back.

"Oh please oh please...will you carry me again?"

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Adventures of an Intrepid Aussie

Ah, this. The post that started it all, the bit of cyber-identity that seems necessary to establish a true presence on the web...

"I thought this blog was about me. Get on with it already."
Meet the resident critic.

This is Sawyer, a 6 1/2(ish) year old Australian Shepherd. He came to me via Australian Shepherd Rescue "ARPH" back in 2005 as a bit of a college graduation present to myself. I walked out off the campus with a pretty slip of paper and no idea what I was going to do next, except that it was going to involve a lot of dog hair. I had been reseraching the breed for a bit--I was originally going to go with a Border Collie but after reading up on them, decided I'd try the slightly less OCD version first and began looking at Aussies. The more I read, the more I realized this was the breed for me and after realizing I had no idea at the time on how to pick a good breeder (it really is a complicated process!), I started looking at rescue.

Could YOU resist that face???

I sure couldn't.

This also goes to show what good pictures can do. The first picture I saw of Sawyer was dark, blurry and I couldn't really see anything about him at all. In fact, since his sister was in the same run as him, I wasn't even sure where one dog left off and the other began. Then Pam Leach with ARPH emailed me the above picture and the deal was sealed. A little over a week later, that cute fluffbutt was shedding, I mean, sitting in my house and thus began the Adventures.

We've been through quite a bit over the last five years. The inevitable Break-Up everyone seems to have with their first "we'll get married someday, no, really" Significant Other. There was the stint in The Shoebox, a 500 sq. foot studio into which I crammed myself, Sawyer and Virgo, the Boomerang Foster Lab aka "The Evil Genius".

You mean not everyone plots world domination in their spare time?
The exploits of Virgo could fill an entire blog in and of itself and I only had her for a year and a half. Luckily, thanks to Karen, a lovely, wonderful and slightly crazy woman in Canada, Virgo went to live The Good Life on a farm with another lab and some horses. The wonderful man who drove her up there, Kody, fell in love with her on the trip up, Virgo took to him just as much and after some tragedies in Karen's life (and permission from me) Virgo now lives and travels with Kody as he traverses the North in his semi And so far *knock on wood* she hasn't learned to open the new fridge.

Last year, I decided that Kansas and I needed some space apart after 20 years and we headed out for Colorado. That trip was basically everything I could fit in my RAV4 in an hour's worth of packing--I tend to mull things over for awhile and then just randomly decide to go ahead with whatever scheme it is and figure out the rest of the details later. This was no exception.

I'm ready, can we go now?

So that's the intro. Hooray, you made it to the end! This is going to be a mish-mashed amalgam of photos, commentary, ADD-fueled ramblings, more photos and probably some shameless business plugs. The main gig, the one that pays the bills, is as an Executive Manager with Passion Parties. I'll get more into that in another post.