Recent PostsFinding treasures when you least expect them A couple of my babies Baby, it's sure cold out there Plants in for the winter Hearty Potato Soup Anticipating Amelia Grace Pasta with Bacon, Onion, and Tomato What a drag it is getting old Animal shelters and rescues of Southeast Missouri What are we eating?
Photography is a passion of mine but I do have a life and other interests. I am also passionate about my family, animals, and life in general and yes, sometimes that means some quirky stuff. I wrote a column on Examiner.com for seven years and with their recent closure I've been transferring many of my old article's into the blog.
So here you'll find a little business, a little personal, and a little bit of everything in between. It's all just a bit of a mish-mash here but I hope that you'll enjoy the images I share, what you read, and will return often.
To view my professional work, please visit www.gilasplace.com
"You'll take a picture of anything won't you," my sister insinuated, more than she asked.
"Why yes," I replied, "if I find it interesting, I certainly will."
And I do, no matter how weird it might seem to someone else, if something catches my eye, I'll end up with a picture or two (or ten) of it.
You can only imagine the thousands of images I have collected in my life. And I can't describe to you what a pleasure it is to relive the memories, over and over again, every time I see them.
I was particularly happy to find this image and others of the same batch. I hadn't realized that I printed them and overjoyed to discover that I had.
You see, a couple of years ago I had a hard drive fail on me. It contained six years of my life's memories on it, the majority of which were personal, treasured images. Pictures of people no longer with us; years of my oldest grandson growing up and new grandchildren's first pics; family holidays and get togethers; nieces and nephews.
You get the idea. Really, really, keepsake type images.
I cried when that drive failed. Seriously, I sobbed. I was devastated. Finding out that it would cost me hundreds and hundreds of dollars to even attempt to recover the images from the drive meant it likely wasn't going to happen any time soon, if ever, and so all those keepsakes were just...gone.
But then I found this batch, printed and tucked away in a box, the originals laying dormant on that failed drive.
I was ecstatic to find this fun time between cousins; my grandson and nieces. Days like this that started with great intentions and aspirations of youth.....
and developed into more fun that anyone could possibly have imagined.
It all started innocently enough. Aunt Marcy let the littles go into her garage and bring out buckets, scoops, and shovels to dig around in her fire pit. Next best thing to a sandbox, right?
And in the beginning, it was just a couple of cups of water, right?
Oh yeah. Until Aunt Marcy turned on the hose that is. How cool is that when you're like five or six?
Such good memories. They had such a fantiastic time doing nothing more that playing in the mud.
I love mud.
Now, most people hang nice, clean, well dressed pics of their kids on their walls.
But this, this, is what I printed on canvas to hang in my dining room. It's one of my all time favorite images, ever. And I thought it was the only surviving shot, until my recent discovery.
I mean, who wouldn't enjoy seeing kids having this much fun? I would honestly rather see pics of kids in their "element", and relive those memories, than to have a bunch of decked out, starched looking shots with fake smiles, and posing like fashion models.
Images of kids having the time of their lives, that's what it's all about. Well, it is for me anyway.
But hey, not for Granny. She didn't think so much of the mud play. She never does. I have been trying to convince her for 50 years that it a simple pleasure in life but she's not buying it. And I have seen this look as her argument for as many years.
The smug look of her not budging; her not buying into how fun it is, 'cause she hates it. And to her, it's gross. And I love to tease her about it. And she loves to not budge.
Granny just don't like mud. Nope. Not at all.
"You're not really going to let them dig in that fire pit are you? And pour water in it it with that hose, are you?" she asked.
"You betcha we are, Sally." (At this point you can see her skin crawling)
She watches all she can stand and then it's over for Sally.
"Well," she says, "it's time for me to go home."
And off she went. Just like that. The mud was just too much for her. (Love you Momma :-) )
And the fun continued.
Nobody (but Granny) wanted to go home even after hours of hard play, digging, hauling of buckets, soggy clothes, and wrinkled fingers.
Zoey can lay it on thick too. How cute is that muddy pout?
I am so thankful to have found these images. So thankful that they are not lost to me forever. All my memories from that day, preserved, to enjoy over and over again.
Kylie and Kaiden have been living in Florida for the past couple of years. They have grown up sooo so much in that time. This weekend they got to do some catching up with Nany.
When Kylie moved away she wasn't much on having her picture taken. She used to give me these real hard looks like she thought it would stop me from taking the pictures.
She was more cooperative today. I think she actually enjoyed getting her pictures taken this time.
She's a darling child. She's smart as a whip, outspoken, and very confident. In other words she's a handful.
Earlier, we had her hair pulled up, all cute looking, but just before our little photo shoot she decided she just want to let it all hang down. We compromised. We pulled it back instead of up.
And meet Kaden.
Kaiden is a hot mess.
He's a darling child too, and every bit the little-big-mess his father was, and then some. He too, is sharp as a whip, and pays attention to your every move. Let him catch you not paying attention for even a second and he's into something he knows he shouldn't be.
He's three, and plays the part well, and what can I expect, right?
He wore me out.
He keeps his sister, Kylie, on her toes his every waking minute. She says he gives her a headache.
"Like this," she says.
"Oh the drama," she tells me.
And she's so serious when she says these very mature things.
And Kaiden, when you ask him if he flushed the washrag down Nany's toilet?
Is a verbal confirmation even necessary?
All in all I think these two are thick as thieves. I love the stuffin' out of them, hot messes that they are.
They hang together pretty tight.
I don't remember exactly what provoked this look, but I am guessing is was a "no" response to one of her many requests.
We are missing dear Karsen. He's a little too young to stay over at Nany's just yet. (At least when I am trying to wrangle these two.) I'm looking forward to another nice day when we can include his sweet smile in the mix.
Last night temps dipped into the teens here in Southeast Missouri. There was frost on the ground by 9:00 p.m. Up to stoke the wood stove before dawn this morning, the dogs didn't leave the confines of the warm bed to follow me into the living room as they normally would. When I made it back to the bedroom, I couldn't see anything of Frank but his butt that was sticking out from under his favorite blanket. Shorty was buried in the pillows and didn't budge when I crawled into the sheets again. Roman was still covered, balled up and snoring when I returned. Jack didn't even look up.
Being Saturday, I slept in late. A little too late as I could feel the chill in the house when I woke and quickly got up to get the wood stove stoked. Typically, all the dogs would be up and ready to jump and run before I got my slippers on. But this morning, not one of them moved. Instead, they all just laid there looking at me as if to say, "get the fire going and I'll see you when it warms up in here."
It was certainly chilly as I pulled on my hoody and noticed the thermometer in the dining room showed 59 degrees. A quick check of the stove revealed a small bed of coals and a firebox full of ash. I decided I might as well clean it out while it wasn't overly hot so I set to shoveling out the ash, careful to preserve some of the biggest coals to get the fire going again. All that noise and still no dogs in sight.
I made my way out to empty the ash bucket, stopped at the woodpile for and arm full of logs, and back into the house. It was certainly frigid. I could see my breath.
Back in the house there was still no sign of the dogs. I began to worry and made my way back into the bedroom to check on them. All were still buried in blankets and sawing their own invisible logs.
I got the fire going, swept the floor, and then went back to the bedroom to see what on earth was keeping the dogs from coming to the front of the house. I couldn't believe it when I made it to the back and found them all still asleep. I clapped my hands. I said "outside" more than once. Only Jack looked at me paying attention at all, but still no movement.
Now, I myself hate the cold. But I had gotten up, got the stove cleaned, got the fire going, got things straightened up, and made a ton of racket doing it. Still they slept. Honestly, I wanted nothing more than to crawl back in beside them and snuggle up. It was a long and restless night, but that's another story altogether.
Finally I tried rousing them. Shorty climbed right out of the pillow pile and under the blanket with Frank. I tried to get Frank to play. He wagged his tail and otherwise didn't move. Romey, well, he just grunted and rolled over. Jack lay still in the floor just eyeballing the process.
This was worse than trying to get kids out of bed for school.
I finally walked out into the dining room and pulled out the secret weapon- the squeaky ball. "Squeak. Squeak."
Finally they all came running and scrambling to the front of the house, and I could see as they did, that they were contemplating returning to the comfort of the blankets and warm bed. I quickly moved to the back door. "Potty", I said. And they all moved toward the door, stopping short when they felt the cold air.
Nope. That was a game changer. They all had to pee, but they weren't having any part of that cold blast. I had to quickly get to the bedroom door to keep them from going back to bed. I then went back to the dining room, opening the door, and literally had to push them all outside.
They all did their business in record time and in what seemed like only seconds were back at the door, Frank barking to be let in. When I opened the door, all came inside like a shot out of a cannon. The brisk air had woke them all up. Shorty barking like a mad dog, Roman doing zoomies through the house, and Frank trying to find a way back into the bedroom and barking profusely at the bedroom door like somehow that would make it open.
Plans for the day changed so and I did something I almost never do. I did nothing but read, stoke the fire, and carry in the occasional armload of firewood. I read blogs. Blogs about refurbishing old houses. Blogs about farm living. Blogs about people spending a year sailing on the ocean on their boat. Blogs about animals. Hours of reading, and it was blissful. I did manage to bake a pan of hot rolls.
And the dogs- well, they did what they do best. Nothing. Slept. Snored. Chased rabbits (or cats) in their sleep. They occasionally got up to go out to do their business with a little coaxing of a treat. But for the most part, they soaked up the warmth of the stove. In front of the stove is the place to be in these temps and they all know it.
A few months ago I decided to kick back and take pause. I booked only a few photo gigs, laid off the odd jobs for the spring and summer, dropped almost completely out of rescue, and haven't written anything to really speak of. I really needed the break.
I've filled my days with my "day job", (a new position I took in the spring), as well as my family, and of course, my animals. As full a my days still are, it's been a much needed break.
One of the things I found time to actually enjoy this year was tending my plants. My yard soil isn't all that great so most of what t I grow is in pots. At the end of the season, a lot of my plants come indoors; all the house type plants and some herbs.
While I do prune in the spring, fall is usually when I prune the most. Some of my plants and trees get sizable over the summer, basking in the sun on my deck, and typically I have to prune them when I bring them in because I only have so much space in my little house.
That wasn't the case this year.
Spring before last, I messed up and put everything out on the porch too early in the year. We had a week of perfect spring weather and then one night everything froze.
I was devastated (yes devastated) when I thought that most, if not all, of my plants were gonners. I've had some of them for years and years and spent a lot of time and love tending them. The memories some of them hold are priceless.
At first I thought they might come out of it if I brought them back into the house. But every stalk turned golden, dried, and snapped easily within days.
I got discouraged, but instead of throwing them out, I thought I'd cut them back completely and hoped that might force some shoots from the roots. But when I cut into the stalk, I saw larva. I knew I was in trouble then.
Turns out that those pesky Japanese beetles that kill 100 year old trees aren't all that picky about where they live, eat, and lay babies; almost any stemmy plant or tree will do. My Ficus and Fig trees worked out just fine for them. The stalks were all just full of larva.
I cut everything back to soil level, plucked out all the larva I could find, and spray painted the open cuts in hopes of smothering any worms left behind still alive.
Weeks passed and nothing. Everything went out on the deck, and what a sight it was. A bunch of huge pots with nothing but stumps showing. I waited and watched patiently for a couple of weeks, and nothing.
Then the rains came and blessed our area for about 5 days. By the end of those five days all of my plants had some green showing. A couple weeks later, and another couple of rain showers, I was seeing life in the pots again. And thankfully, no sign of bugs.
By the middle of summer, here they were. They were only fractions of their former size.
The Ficus (Indoor Fig) was about 7-8 ft tall and at least 3 foot in circumference before I had my lapse of judgement. I've had it 16 years this May. The plant in the middle, the one I can never remember the name of (schefflera), was about 3 ft tall and 2.5 ft in circumference and also 16 years old. My poor of Rubber Trees were both over 4 ft. tall and sprawled out in circumference that two people couldn't wrap their arms around them. I was looking forward to sharing some good cuttings from those with friends last year, but they don't freeze well. :-(
Over the winter and this past summer, everything regained some size and vigor. The only plant that required pruning was my Spider Plant. She had so many spiderettes (babies) spilling over the pot, the weight was more than my wall mount could hold. I hung her up and walked into the other room and then heard a crash. I wish I had taken a picture of her and all those cascading babies before I pruned her today. She was huge.
Soup’s good with me all year around but it’s the general consensus that the cool evenings we are seeing here in Southeast Missouri, is calling for soups, stews, chili and the likes; comfort foods that stick to your ribs and warm your bones.
Hearty Potato Soup
Place diced potatoes, carrots, and celery in the soup pot filling with water just over the top of the veggies and throw in 4-5 chicken bouillon cubes. (You can use 4-6 cups of chicken broth or stock if you like but the bouillon is convenient for me. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a hard simmer.
Add butter to skillet on medium heat. Once melted, add flour using a wire whisk, to make a thick roux. Cook one minute.
Using your wire whisk, blend in two cups of cream. At first this will look like milk gravy but the mixture will thicken fairly quickly. You’ll know it’s thick enough when it begins to pull away from the pan while whisking. Remove from heat.
Now, this step is us to you. If you like your soup chunky, skip it. If you like creamier soups use a potato masher or stick blender to mash up some of the veggies in the soup. I just give it a couple of quick burst with a stick blender until the consistency looks right for my taste.
Serve topped with bacon crumples, a dash of shredded cheese, and a few green onion pieces. Some people like a dollop of sour cream on top as well, but using Half and Half in this recipe makes it rich enough that the sour cream is not necessary for me.
My daughter in law, Lacey, is expecting in a few weeks. A month ago she was supposed to have a baby shower, but it fell through and Lacey was understandably disappointed.
And here's another one of those looks to let me know we would be discussing this deception, in more depth, on the ride home. And of course, my sister laughing about it.
Of course he quickly dismissed my deception when he saw the food.
Everyone who attended was generous beyond compare, and indeed showed baby Amelia a bounty of gifts to get her started in this life. Anthony and Lacey were both humbled and grateful.
I lived through one of the worst cases of heartworms the vet had ever seen. I've battled whip worms on more than one occasion. I've been shot in the face and had teeth blown out of my jaw. As I age, many of my remaining teeth are worn. I have a tumor in one eye and a cataract in the other and between the two I have only a fraction of my vision. My hips are stiff and walking is getting harder every day.
For readers looking for animals shelters and rescues in the Southeast Missouri region I've compiled the following list. Each entry contains the public contact information and online presence of each organization, along with their mission statements. Links can include Facebook pages, websites, adoption listings, donation, and more.
Each individual shelter/rescue has its own protocol for rescue, fostering, and adoptions. To get more details on individual shelter/rescue I recommend contacting those that you are interested in.
In addition to pet adoption, each offers a variety of pet related activities and services. You can find their hours of operation listed on their individual websites or Facebook pages.
Only shelters/rescues offering public adoptions have been included in the listing. Organizations that deal strictly in transfers to other qualified shelters/rescues have been excluded.
To have your favorite Southeast Missouri animal shelter/rescue added to this list, please comment in the comment section under this post. * Note- Only organizations in the Southeast Missouri region, that offer public adoptions, will be added.
CHS-PAWS (Formerly the Caruthersville Humane Society)
CHS-PAWS shelters pets and finds loving homes for abandoned, neglected and abused animals. They work with local law enforcement on animal cruelty investigations for successful prosecution. CHS-PAWS is a no kill animal shelter.
The Dexter Animal Shelter is an extension of the Dexter Police Department. They're responsible for taking dogs off the street and providing them a temporary home at the shelter and now offer adoptions to the general public. Volunteers of the shelter work diligently trying to find homes for the animals taken into the shelter.
Farmington Pet Adoption Center is a limited access, no-kill shelter providing lifesaving care and treatment to abandoned and unwanted pets in Missouri’s Parkland. We find loving forever homes for every adoptable pet in addition to striving to reduce pet over-population, to expose and assist in the prosecution of pet cruelty, and to educate the public on pet care.
Humane Society of Southeast Missouri
The Humane Society of Southeast Missouri's mission is to provide shelter and care for homeless animals and advocate the humane treatment of all animals. Another major part of their mission is to encourage spaying & neutering to decrease overpopulation of domestic animals. Our mission also includes providing programs and services that enhance the bond between animals and people. We are able to provide our programs and services thanks to the generosity of individuals and corporations through the use of donations, fundraisers and grants.
Rough Road Rescue
Rough Road Rescue is located in Perry County, Mo. Rough Road Rescue is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals, by preventing abuse and cruelty through providing safety, shelter and adoption. They help to educate the community and raise public awareness of the importance of advocating on behalf of these animals that are unable to fight for their own rights.
Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary
Sikeston Area Humane Society is a small shelter dedicated to placing the animals, whatever kind they may be, into loving homes. They also strive to educate the public of the importance of proper pet care and spay/neuter.
The following is a listing of notable animal control agencies (that do more than average animal control, including adoptions) with links to their Facebook pages. If the animal control unit does not have a Facebook page, links will lead to that localities police dept.
The first week of July we have a family gathering at my place. There's always a lot of good food and we always have too much. It's great for everyone to take a plate home, something to have around the house a couple of days to munch on, and even a few goodies the dogs can eat.
I pulled one of the buns out of the bag and checked it out. It smelled right, it looked fine, and other than a tiny bit drier, they appeared just as they had almost seven weeks ago when I had purchased them. I even tasted one. Tasted like bread. Not a single speck of mold on a single bun, in either bag. And yes, one bag had been opened back in July.
When I was a kid, my Aunt Edna crocheted all the time. I had more than one crocheted hat, scarf, and poncho in my younger years. I bugged Aunt Edna enough that she taught me how to do a few stitches and put them all together; enough to make afghans, ornaments, hats, scarves, and all kids of cool stuff.
Late last year I lost both of my kitties. Both were right around 17 years old. Cleo had been with me since she was a kitten. Eddie was about two when he came to live with us.
Long time companions and both of them gone within a couple of weeks of each other. I was devastated.
It was strange to have a cat free home for the first time in almost two decades. Right after they both passed away, I had my first mouse in longer than I could remember. Even in their declining health neither Cleo, nor Eddie, ever allowed a mouse in the house except for the ones Ry kept as pets. Cleo actually played with those. This unexpected visiting mouse was not welcome, and it finally took a cat to move him on his way. But I digress.
It was an adjustment having no cats, but I managed, and had honestly vowed to myself, "no more cats for me." The dogs were more than enough to keep me busy, entertained, and broke. I was good with that.Long story short, I got handed a sad story about this beautiful girl, and guess where she lives now? She's the grumpy cat I post pics of on FB and even though she looks mad all the time, she really is a very pleasant little girl.
Meet Crystal. She's a diva, no joke.
She's nothing but a fur ball- a tiny little body under all that cottony fur. She was full of knots when I first got her. So much so I just shaved her instead of trying to brush her out. She would have hated me for sure. Not that she loved me over the clippers, but it was better than hours of tugging and pulling at her sensitive skin. She's not fully grown out yet, but at least no mats of fur to struggle with.
She's got this super smashed face, and of course the watery eyes that all flat faced kitties seem to struggle with. But she's picky about herself, cleans well, abides by the constant eye cleaning by me, and actually seems to enjoy a good brushing.
Did I mention the word Diva? She really is. She struts all over the place like she owns it.
Crystal's not into other cats at all and merely tolerates the other little kitty I got talked into. (She's a whole other story) No major cat fights between the two but they each have their own territories, one venturing into the others only rarely.
She didn't like the dogs at first but now owns them all, even without a single front claw. And she bawls if you try and pet anyone but her. She has taken over my desktop and enjoys frequently shoving everything on top of it, off in the floor.
A friend of mine built her a cat tree so that she would be able to lay in the windows, up high, where the dogs wouldn't bother her as she basked in all her cattiness. She digs butterflies, and with the petunias right outside of the window, she gets to see a few of those. When she does, she gets wild looking if they get too close to the glass.
This is one of those meals that you throw together with bits and pieces of stuff because you don’t have enough of any one thing to make a meal out of. My kids loved it and thought it was some great masterpiece. In reality, it was mom just trying to throw together a full meal about the time a trip to the grocery store was overdue.
On June 26th I published an article on Examiner.com in reference to my most current feelings about animal rescue, as well as my past involvement in such, and my need to step back away from it all for awhile. It was only one of a handful of editorial type articles I have ever published there.
As I hit the publish button, I contemplated it being my last article to publish on Examiner, forever.
I had been writing there since 2009, it was a great outlet to publish about animal news and welfare, and I had thousands of readers subscribed to my column. It was a real pip that I remained in the top most-read-column line up on the site for several years. I managed to make public a good deal of important information, publishing some things that other news groups refused to touch because of the emotionally charged nature of the material.
However, the articles were extremely time consuming and took away from a lot of the things that I do; things that actually pay my bills. As much as I enjoyed writing on Examiner.com there was nothing financially beneficial about it. Even though I had a couple of pieces hit big and go viral, that was not a constant and I was tickled when my earnings paid even the water bill. And for that reason, many times over the years, I have considered leaving Examiner. Each and every time I did consider it, friends (many involved in rescue) convinced me to stay, to give voice to so much in the animal world that others won’t talk about. And so I continued.
But on June 26th, I was more than a little ready to just chuck it all.
Well, life has a way of making decisions for you, and sometimes, whether we like it or not, we go along because we simply have no choice.
Just days after I published that last article, in the midst of all that contemplation, Examiner made the decision for me. I received an email that stated, as of July 10, 2016, Examiner.com would shut down its feed, and Examiner would be no more. It was simple. The platform was changing to an entertainment driven crowd, there simply wasn’t any money in it for them to continue to operate a news site, and they were chucking the whole thing, including all of its content. Journalist who wished to save their work had just days to do so or wait for it to all disappeared.
I had seven years of articles on the Examiner.com and just days to save what I could or it would all be gone. I wasn’t even sure that I wanted save any of it. Was it worth the hours it would take to collect it all? Who was reading it anyway?
So I compromised. I saved some of it. I saved the articles that were popular in first publishing and still being read, some that had special meaning for me, and certainly some that more than a few people would like to see completely disappear from existence. There was just some information I could not bear to see simply fade away.
I’ve had a couple of offers to write for other online publications but decided against it, for now. Instead, I intend to republish those saved articles from Examiner here in my own space. Anything I write in the future will be found here too.
And since my blog is such a big mix of so many different things that I do, the easiest way to find what you want to read about, is to use the convenient little search box or keyword listing on the blog home page. Anything animal welfare related will be tagged with the keyword, “animal welfare”. Old Examiner.com articles will be tagged with “Examiner” or “Examiner.com”.
As always, thanks for reading! I look forward to hearing from many of you.
I grew up eating potatoes at almost every meal; southern roots, southern meal ingredients.
-1lb round steak cut into 1/2 inch slivers
I have substituted the rice with pasta on occasion, and it's tasty that way as well. I just prefer the rice. Freezing leftovers from this meal works well.
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