This is the place where I round up a corral chock-full of mixed media art, vintage collections, digital escapades, and some occasionally snarky observations about life with junk, books, rescue dogs and nearly-grown children.

Friday, April 30, 2010

On the Loss of a Good Dog

 Taco, December 15, 2001 to April 29, 2010.

On Thursday, April 29, 2010, at 6:15 p.m. I had to hold my 10-year-old Miniature Pinscher, Taco, as he was put down. My husband, Reggie, my 16-year-old daughter, Ruth, and my dear friend, Shirley, were with Taco at the end.  Dr. Ruth Ainsworth at Village Vet in Sterling Ridge administered the pink injection.  We will have him cremated.

We thought we had licked the liver infection and had him on the road to recovery, but yesterday he began to suffer neurological distress--weakness in the hindquarters, which progressed to staggering and falling, along with impaired vision and vertigo.  The Vet determined it was hepatic encephalopathy--the neurological decline that comes from cirrhosis of the liver.  Essentially, toxic chemicals were building in his brain, causing muscle control loss and eyesight stress.  Taco must have been light-sensitive because two days before, he was barking at the little light on the ADT alarm pad and the red-light in the anti-pest plug-in device.

In spite of his staggers, Taco had a good last day--he ate his breakfast with fairly good vigor, he got to snuggle with me under a blanket in the mid-morning and patrolled his yard (lurching), and he sat calmly at in Ruth's lap and let us all love on him before it was time.

We had Taco since December 2001, and got him at a PetsMart Adoption event in Louisiana.  He was a quirky little dog, but a very good dog.  He killed rats and moles, could jump five feet straight into the air, always had to work for treats, and once stood up to a husky (and lost).  He loved to jingle his collar tags for attention, and if that wasn't enough, he was a loud barker.  He was nippy and ugly with toys, especially his favorite "uggee bone."  He tore up all the blinds he could reach whenever he saw something he wanted to attack on the other side of the window.  He was bossy toward other dogs and only tolerated Cross, our little Rat Terrier Mix, although this last month, we could tell he was really quite bonded with her.  In short, Taco generally swaggered around like a buff stud-muffin in a 14-inch high,17-pound stag red Min-Pin body.  He was a brave little guy.

His six-week battle began on March 12, triggered perhaps by his nom-ing on a squirrel carcass, and cost over $5,000. However, he had improved and was eating on his own again after having to have force-fed slurry and sub-cu fluids.  We thought he was recovering.  I have never worked so hard to take care of a dog. Plus, I never dreamed I would do what I did for this particular dog (he was VERY quirky--a bite-first, ask questions later little terrier-killing machine).

Taco will be much on my mind over this weekend and in the near future as I do my part with dog adoption off-sites.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Photoshop Fun

While I am not the creator of the primary layer "Rainbow Fireflies Room," used in this composition, I wanted to use with a subject that it could enhance.  I carefully cut out this photo of my daughter in a purple gingham dress and reconstructed the soles of her cowboy boots (she was standing in grass).  I used the "Gaussian blur" filter to create a second layer over the cutout to give the figure depth, glow and to help ground it to the background.  My next task is to have a go at placing a shadow across the floor.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Get a Handle on Your Groceries

Our local H.E.B. Groceries store, a Texas-based chain, always stocks an array of products designed to appeal to locals. I'm particularly fond of the company's newest series of reusable grocery sacks--the Through the Eyes of Texas" series, featuring designs by local artists.  This impressionistic wildflower bag is based on a painting by Texas Artist Thelma Cardwell-Cale.  I've also purchased a second bag by Clif Tinker, a San Antonio artist that depicts a bold array of famous landmarks from his hometown.

Among the more unique local items you can find at H.E.B. are these crunchy white corn tortilla chips shaped suspiciously but deliciously like the Lone Star State: 

Photos by C. Bruhn

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Battle of the Collegiate Mascots

First, a disclaimer:  I am not a native Texan.  Until moving to Houston, I had no idea about the importance of college football, nor how devoted Texans are to their Universities.  I now know the colors of the three schools with the most intense rivalries--University of Texas (burnt orange and white), Texas A&M (maroon and grey), and Texas Tech (scarlet and black).

I know the names of the hand signals and how to make 'em--UT is "Hook 'Em Horns"; Aggies say, "Gig 'Em!" and give a vigorous thumbs up; while the Tech fans shout, "Guns Up!" and make a "gun" out of their index finger and thumb (see below).

Most importantly, I know the animal mascots--UT's Bevo, the brown and white Longhorn, A&M's Revielle, the collie, and Tech's Midnight Matador, the black horse.  While I have a soft spot for longhorns and love dogs, I think there's nothing that beats the charge of Midnight Matador, ridden by the Masked Rider across the football field before a Texas Tech football game.

I attended the University of California at Irvine, which has Peter the Anteater as its mascot. We did not have a football team.  We did not have a hand-signal.  We did have a cheer, but I never heard anyone say it outloud.

My son attends Texas Tech at Lubbock.  I have signed publicity photos of the Masked Riders from 2007 forward, one for each year my son has attended. When my son asked me why I liked Tech's mascot so much, I answered: "One reason! There's a horse!"

2009 Masked Rider

He didn't believe the Anteater was UCI's mascot (he's not into College Sports) until I found the logo used during my University years, the one based on Johnny Hart's B.C. character. And yes, our "cheer" was "Zot!"

Which is Cooler? Artwork by C.Bruhn; Mascot triptych courtesy of the Interwebs; Guns Up by C. Bruhn; 2009 Masked Rider courtesy of Flickr.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Alice in Wonderland Dress

My 16-year-old daughter is an anime fan, and loves Japanese street fashion.  She enjoys wearing the puffy sleeved, frilly-skirted dresses known as "Sweet Lolita."  Japanese fashion incorporates western clothing without much regard to original situational meanings, creating new and ever-evolving styles.

The "Sweet Lolita" girl wears these exquisitely made cotton frocks, replete with lace and darts, plackets and big bows, and adds knee socks or hosiery with specially designed Mary Jane-style shoes, and finishes the affair with a girly-girl parasol and hair bows.  This dress, made by "Baby the Stars Shine Bright" has blue gingham checks and a fanciful tea party design.

My daughter and her friends don their dresses for special outings such as picnics in the park, tea parties with finger sandwiches, and theater events.  I have never ever dressed so fabulously, not even in my BC (before children) days when I had money and a waistline!

If you'd like to see how this photo looks as a "Mini Moo Card", scroll down and see "How Do You Moo?"

Friday, April 23, 2010

Animal Rescue Stamps to Debut Next Week

Maybe I need to send less email and write more letters so I can use these awesome animal rescue stamps that will debut at U.S. Post Offices on April 30, 2010. 
 The 10 different 44-cent stamps commemorate the USPS Animal Rescue: Adopt a Shelter Pet program.  The stamps are designed by Derry Noyes of Washington, D.C., and photographed by Sally Anderson-Bruce of New Milford, Connecticut.  If you go the USPS web-site, you can roll your mouse over the images and find out more about each of these special animals.  Not only can you buy the stamps to use or to add to your philatelic collection, you can order a cool certificate for your dog or cat that includes a post-marked first-day cover stamp and the spaces for you to record your own furry friend’s adoption data.
 As an owner of two rescue dogs (Taco, the Very Lucky Miniature Pinscher, and Cross, the World’s Cutest Rat Terrier mix) and a regular foster-mom for my local Shelter (I had 11 different foster dogs last year!), I encourage you to consider a rescue animal for your next pet. 
 You can find wonderful animals at your local shelter, through PetsMart or PETCO adoption events, and online at  If you’re hankering after a specific breed, you can search for breed rescues. So, on April 30th, go buy some of these stamps and put a paw out for rescue! 

As an animal rescue volunteer, I am already signed up with my local Shelter to help with a HUGE off-site event to be held at the Conroe, TX, Post Office on the day the stamps are made available.  We’ll be showing off adoptable pets of the Montgomery County Animal Shelter in this unique tie-in to the rescue stamp debut.  I’ll be the pudgy dog lady in the brown Stetson!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bluebonnet Trail Boondoggle

A week ago today, I took a drive along Highway 290, west of my house, out to Chappell Hill, Texas, to see the bluebonnets in peak bloom.  I couldn't find a friend who had time to tag along, so I decided to share some of my photos here.  I left after dropping my daughter off at high school, and made it back in time to pick her up.  I took only photos--stopping wherever the flowers caught my eye.  It was breathtakingly beautiful near Chappell Hill, Texas, where these photos were shot.
A close-up of Indian Paintbrush.
Many fields were blanketed with yellow butterweed (closeup above).
Of course, the bluebonnets are always a breath-taking sight:
And I even stumbled across the rare wild tuba, just beginning to unfurl its large, brassy bell!
You don't see tubas in bloom every day!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesdays are Better With Humor

No, it's not difficult at all. I'm an artist, a mom, and a wife. And actually, it is difficult, but there's a part of me that never quite leaves the fantasyland of denial!

Wednesdays are better with humor.  If you don't mind snarkiness, check out my very favorite source for witty (be warned, sometimes the content is a bit ribald) comics at "Married to the Sea: The Champagne of Comics." 

Graphic courtesy of the Interwebs; digitally manipulated by me in Photshop and Picnik.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Heavy Metal

I have a life-long collection habit, with eclectic interests, and a terminal addiction to "smalls" (the table-top stuff you find in antique stores).  Featured today is a sampling of my "metal" collection--figures made out various cast metals.  I love horses, so naturally I rarely pass one up no matter what the material.

The longhorn, Cocker Spaniel and horse-head are galvanized metal decorative accents meant to decorate chain-link fence posts or gates.  I have several more (including a different matched set of the Spaniels, another horse-head post cap and a big eagle meant to be mounted under a gable or above a door.  I also have several pieces of decorative floral railing, the sort of cast-metal pieces that held up front porches or back-porch awnings.  These pieces are not easy to find, and can be pricey, but they remind me of hot summer days where the adults sat in the shade while we ran around in the back yard, our knees covered with grass stains.

The Egyptian cat was a souvenir I purchased as a child when my parents took us to Cairo.  I'm an Oil Brat--my Dad worked for Esso (now Exxon-Mobil) and we lived in Tripoli, Libya from 1971 through 1973.  We went to Egypt to do the usual--see the pyramids and ride a boat down the Nile to Luxor. We went shopping in the Cario Souk.  The man who sold me this cat claimed it was "berry, berry old," and came from a dig.  Old or not, this cat has been on display in my bedroom in all the places I've lived since.

I am a generalist when it comes to collecting, but there's something about the regal nature of metal figurines, even cheesy souvenir pieces like the dashing cowboy with his six-shooter, that makes them impossible to resist.

You can see more of my collections in my "Curio Cabinet" set on my Flickr photostream.  Or check out the "Vintage Animal Pool" on Flickr--we have more than 1,500 images of vintage animal collectibles for your viewing pleasure!

Monday, April 19, 2010

How Do You Moo?

I just received my second batch of Moo Business cards, along with my first order of "Mini Moo" cards, and I'm so happy with the way they turned out!  I made a set of five different photo-business cards with Moo last year and have enjoyed passing them out to my special clients and friends--I have a bunch of regular linen cards that I use for more casual distribution.  The Moo cards are slightly larger than a standard non-custom business card and have rich colors and a lovely feel to the thick paper used in printing.

The Mini Moo cards are simply fun!  I had such a hard time limiting my design choices (I wanted at least 4 of each design in my pack of 100 mini cards).  I used my Flickr account to select my images--it seemed easier than uploading each one from my computer since many of my personal favorite images are already on my Flickr stream.  The Mini Card format provides more cropping control than the standard business cards, which allowed to dramatically altered the look of my photos.

When my 16-year-old daughter looked through my Mini Cards, she said, "Mom, each one tells a different story about you!" I realized she was right.  If you haven't tried Moo printing services, you should.  Next on my Moo ordering wish list?  Mini Stickers!

How do you use Moo cards?  I'd love to know!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Why the Longhorn?

I live in Texas, so longhorns are a common sight.  They are the mascot of a famous university (which will go un-named since my son attends an awesome rival school, Texas Tech University), and thus are represented in burnt orange on everything from trailer hitch-covers to dangly earrings.  Down at the Houston Reliant stadium, home to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, there is a magnificent sculpture of a thundering herd of longhorns.  And every Texas-themed gift shop carries resin and plush versions of these large, bony, animals with the ginormous horns.

Real live longhorns are not hard to find in these parts.  Not far from my house, the Flying D Ranch offers longhorns for sale.  Some folks refer to these iconic bovines as “pasture ornaments”—and when I get a Rancho of my own, I intend to have a longhorn steer as a pasture ornament, along with a few horses.  I have always been a cowgirl at heart.

That’s why I paid for the chance to straddle a longhorn and have my photo snapped (with the Lone Star flag as a backdrop, natch) at last year’s Houston Rodeo.  Not to mention that those steers are HUGE—and I’m not a petite girl.

I have an alter-ego who appears in some of my digital artwork.  Her name is Kactus Kate—she’s rides a longhorn steer and runs the Kactus Kate Cattle Driving Company.  Here’s her business logo:

Kactus Kate's Motto is "Steering the Herd Since 1986", and she is a tough, no-nonsense Trail Boss with awesome skills.  She carries a compass, always has an extra bandanna to share and knows how to yodel.  She’s always welcome to visit me!  Do you have an alter ego?  What is she (or he) like?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

Artwork:  Kactus Kate, Photosphop sig designed by me; constructed by my son,  circa 2006.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Welcome to My Rancho!

I've finally taken the plunge--this is the launch of my own creative blog. I am not brand-new to Blogland: a year ago, I started a blog about my work in the world of animal rescue, We Don't Rent Puppies.  I have a small group of devoted followers, and I'm grateful for every comment they have left.

However, I've always had an artistic life, from the time I was first able to grasp a pencil and draw my father a set of railroad tracks (according to an oft-told family story).  I have been browsing and following an assortment of artistic and creative blogs for several years, but was not ready to step out with my own artsy blog until I signed up for the Third Annual "Paper Cowgirl" Retreat that will be held this June in Waxahachie, Texas (for more information click on the PC button in the sidebar).  I want my blog to be running strong by the time I get to this retreat, so this weekend I sat down and made a banner and organized some gadgets.  This may not be the fanciest creative blog on the block, but I've got a rootin'-tootin' list of posts in mind to tempt readers.

If you make mixed media art, if you like prowling thrift stores, if you have a big ol' stash of ephemera, if you love books, if you like dogs or horses, if the sights off the beaten path make your heart beat faster, and if you have a sense of humor when it comes to your kids and spouse, then bookmark or follow my blog.

Yours, from the Piney Woods of Texas, Cathi (Calsidyrose)

Artwork: Direct scan of a paper collage; C.B., 2007