For Rita

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It has been a long time since I began writing about Rita’s Journey.  So much has happened since she was first diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time.  I began to tell her story just before she started her treatments.

I have been so blessed to be a part of her life, to be her friend and to be able to photograph Rita and her family over the years.  Our first shoot was a family photo session with her husband, Jeff, her son, Jack, and their two dogs.

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The second photo session was to begin her journey as she negotiated the treatments for her breast cancer.  We decided to photograph her journey so prior to her first chemo session, we went to the train station in Denton, Texas armed with a piece of 50’s luggage and a 50’s hat box to prepare her for her journey.  I began telling this story in this very blog.  In fact, you can go back and read the details starting in 2012..

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 I photographed Rita as she was losing her hair from chemo at the third session we did.  She had her hair stylist come and shave it all off.  There were lots of us there supporting her and celebrating her strength.

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The fourth journey session was done at a local park.  Those images became more poignant and touching as we set up each shot.

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Session 5 was her last day of chemotherapy and Session 6 was her last day of radiation.  Each time her husband came with flowers and her friends came with balloons and goodies to celebrate yet another milestone in her journey.  We were all so excited as she finished up her breast cancer treatments and her MRI’s came back clear.

The celebration at the chemo clinic. Rita did it!

The celebration at the chemo clinic. Rita did it!

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The seventh session that we did was planned after Rita found that she had cancer once again.  It was not the spread of her breast cancer but rather a new cancer.  This time is was in her brain.  I found Rita to be amazing yet again in how she accepted that she had a new cancer, and how her faith held her up to face the next surgery and treatments.  I had been talking to Rita about doing a “sophisticated woman” session with her prior to her finding out about her latest cancer.  She called me and said “if you want a sophisticated shoot with me, let’s do it before I have to have brain surgery.”  So, we set it up and it was a grand day.  Not only did it take both of our minds off of her impending surgery but it was the most fun shoot that I had had in a long time.  We laughed, talked and celebrated the beautiful woman that she is.  After Rita’s second cancer, she changed her hairstyle completely.  Instead of long colored hair, she opted for short, slightly spikey natural colored hair.  She was getting such compliments on it as her hair grew back, that she kept it short.  It looks fabulous and very sophisticated.  It definitely made the “sophisticated woman” session even better.  At the time, I didn’t know that it would be the last session prior to her decline in health.

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I have done only one session since then.  It was just a short time ago and it  wasn’t a session at all. Her husband planned a surprise birthday party for her and I was invited.  Naturally I showed up with my camera so I could take candid shots of her family and friends who came.  There were so many people that we were all spilled out across the yard and there was no parking close to her house.  Her mother, brothers, sisters and other family members were there along with some of her husband’s family.  It was a fun party and Rita had a wonderful time.  Some of her friends from outside the local area flew in for the surprise.

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 I visited my dear friend, Rita yesterday.  It is the latest of several visits I have made recently as Rita prepares to leave us to spend eternity with God whom she loves so much.  She has battled breast cancer twice and won.  The last several months she has been in the biggest battle of all fighting brain cancer.  She has had brain surgery, radiation and chemotherapy to battle this difficult cancer.  Each time she received a cancer diagnoses, she has met the new challenge with determination and faith in a God who loves her.  She has shared Him with everyone she could along the way.  She knows that although this battle is going to be lost, that God has a better plan for her. She has completed what He wanted for her to accomplish here on earth and now He is calling her home.  Those of us who will be left will miss her greatly.  We will have deep sadness but also a joy in knowing she is no longer struggling, or suffering and that she is celebrating in a place where there is no pain, or sadness but only joy.

You have made each of our lives a whole lot better, Rita.  You’ve made us laugh, lifted us up, shared yourself in so many ways and, yes, taken charge a bunch of times.  You are loved, Rita.

A new Concept Photoshoot is coming soon!

Film Noir

Film Noir

Those of you who have been following Wild Mane Photography for a while know how much I love to photograph clients and/or models using special themes.  In fact, if you visit my website there is a category for Concept Sessions in the drop down menu of Galleries.  With makeup, costumes and lighting, many looks and eras can be re-created.  There are Film Noir, Renaissance, Vintage Circus and others represented in the Concept Session category.

I am excited and looking forward to one that is coming up.  I will be shooting with a group of other professional photographers in October creating Bohemian looks.  We have all been collecting clothing, jewelry and props to create our version of it.  One of the things that will be interesting is to see each photographer’s vision of Bohemian.  We are different ages and from different parts of the country.   I suspect we will envision it differently so it will be a wonderful, creative and fun day.  There is a possibility that we will need some models.  I will post it on my blog if we do.  Either way, I will blog all about it along with some of my images once they are ready.

In the mean time, here are a couple of my images from past concept sessions!  Have a great week-end.

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Renaissance

Ellie’s little girl!

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Meet Bella!  She arrived over a month ago just when we were about to give up.  Poor Ellie was so big that I started worrying she would have trouble foaling.  After checking over and over again, Ellie managed to have this little girl when I wasn’t around.  Isn’t that just the way it happens.  She is darling and has a delightful personality.  Right after she was born, I hurt my back so badly that I couldn’t go to the barn for 3 weeks or keep up with my blog.  Since she needed to be handled and socialized, my husband, Patrick, took over for me.  He did a great job.  Bella is so friendly, that she chases after us when we start to head back to the house.  Apparently Patrick is the best scratcher of all time as far as she is concerned.  We have integrated her and Ellie back into the herd and everybody is getting along very well.  The next baby due will be to Dora.  She is getting big but definitely weeks away from presenting us with a new one.  I’ll keep you posted.

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Bella is brand new in this picture.

 

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No wonder poor Ellie was so big.  Look at those long legs and ears she was carrying around.

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Still waiting….

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I swore Ellie wouldn’t fool me this year by taking so long to foal.   Well she has done it again.   Every day I think she cannot get any bigger or last longer and still I wait!   I took this with my phone but couldn’t get an ale that shows how large she really is.   You can see how heavy that foal is hanging down but not how wide Ellie has gotten.  I will update when this little critter finally arrives.

Chocolate Chip has a new home!

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     Last week-end, our precious little Chip went to live with his new family.  As you can see by the picture, he is loved already and is hugged by 5 year old, Molly.  She is just the right size for Chip!  His new family welcomed him with open arms and introduced him to their 2 horses and 5 alpacas.  He (like most donkeys) strolled off the trailer like he knew he was home and started grazing in his new pasture.  Nothing bothered him and it didn’t take long before he met his new animal buddies across the fence.

     It is always hard to let go of one of these little guys but I know he is being loved, getting lots of attention and good care.  Congratulations to his new family and welcome to the world of donkeys.

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For those of you who have been awaiting the announcement of Ellie’s new baby, we are STILL on baby watch.  This is two years in a row that she has fooled a whole lot of us who are watching her get bigger and bigger and bigger and still no foal.  I checked on her tonight about 11:00 p.m. and all was quiet as usual.  Please keep checking because as I have said a number of times already, it can’t possibly be much longer!

BABY WATCH CONTINUES……..

Ellie never ceases to astound me!  Just when I think she can’t get any bigger, she does.  I do, however, think that this baby is going to arrive fairly soon.  Ellie is beginning to produce milk and until last evening, her udder wasn’t preparing visibly.  Of course, Ellie has fooled me before at how long she takes to actually foal.  She looks very uncomfortable so I hope for her sake this new little life comes easily and soon.

I should have called her copter instead of Ellie!

Narrow hips and giant belly.

Believe it or not, her girlish figure will return quite rapidly once the foal arrives.  We humans should be so lucky!   As soon as I have a new foal to photograph, you’ll be the first to know.

It’s that time of year again!

Well, I certainly have let the ball drop on keeping up with my blog.  My apologies!  Since I last posted Ellie’s baby (Jumpin Jack Flash), two more babies were born and Ellie is just about to have 2015 baby.  Here are photos of Flash at his new home, Baby #2 Marty (born to Dora) and Baby #3, Chocolate Chip (born to Chocolate).

Flash has a new home and has a buddy named Mikey.  He is happy and healthy.  Flash is a small standard so he won’t end up quite as large as Mikey but neither of them care a bit.

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Baby #2, Marty

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Marty went to a wonderful new home and he is busy being loved by his new family and enjoying his “girlfriend”.  Marty is on the left.

Baby #3, Chocolate Chip

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Chip was our final 2014 baby.  He is such a character.  He is just about to leave for his new home.  He will be a companion for a horse.  Since he has grown up living with 2 horses at our home, he is used to sharing hay and even wandering in and out of a stall with the horses.  All of my stall doors are tied open so they can come and go as they please.  Two days ago it was raining and everyone went into the barn and I found my lead mare, Chocolate and Chip all in a stall hanging out.

Stay tuned and I will post Ellie’s new foal as soon as he or she arrives.  Since we had all boys last year, I am anxious to see if we get a girl out of the mix this year.

IT’S A BOY!!!

Ellie has explored every single part of her new son.

Ellie has explored every single part of her new son.

After a long “baby watch”, Ellie finally had her foal sometime yesterday afternoon during a rain storm. Doesn’t that just figure?! I have had the monitor on in the house watching her off and on for 6 weeks and many times got up to check her in the middle of the night. True to the animal world, she had him in her own time and with nobody watching. He is healthy, full of energy and loaded of personality already. I suspect he is going to give his mom some trouble along the way. He was so curious this morning that he left her in his dust and ran full speed over to me this morning. Ellie was none too pleased but decided it was OK as long as I was under her watchful eye.

Ready to take on the world!

It was quite a surprise last night to see four extra legs in Ellie’s paddock as we headed down to feed. At least we didn’t have to worry things wouldn’t go well. It was all over, he was up and running around and she was calmly grazing. It always amazes me how quickly a mom and foal recover from a birth. It does look like it may take Miss Ellis a little while to get back her girlish figure, however.

Ellie is such a good mom. I went down this evening and sat on a bucket in the paddock and just watched as she taught her little one the ropes. She guided him with her nose, nuzzled him when he came close, and pushed him when she didn’t like what he did. He spent all of his time mimicking her. She was grazing so with no teeth he managed to pull up some grass and “chew” it. I actually worried he would choke but he managed. He appears to have a good appetite. I felt sorry for Ellie as he rooted around with absolutely no finesse until he got the milk he wanted.

Mother and Son

Enough for this evening. I will keep you filled in as we watch “junior” grow. Stay tuned. I am going to take a poll for name suggestions.

Ellie’s Previous Foal and “Baby Watch” is closer to the end!

Meet Blackjack!  He was born in April, 2012.

Meet Blackjack! He was born in April, 2012.

Well, I finally have something new to report on our ongoing “baby watch”. For weeks now, Ellie has had an enlarging bag. Over this last week-end it looked larger than it has but still no milk to be expressed. This morning when I checked her, she had a tiny amount of clear fluid that I expressed from each of her two teats. Now that is progress! Since she is apparently the slowest donkey on earth when it comes to actually foaling, I have no illusions about it coming tonight. However, I do believe that this change indicates we won’t be waiting for another month. At least I certainly hope not.

I promised you some more general donkey information in the last post. The following details I found on Wikipedia regarding donkey characteristics: Donkeys have quite a range of size. It depends upon the particular breed as well as their management. They range from 31″ (7.3 hands) at the withers to as much as 63″(15.3 hands) at the withers. Their weight ranges from 180 lbs. to 1,060 lbs. Their life expectancy depends upon their care and their access to quality foods. In very poor countries, they generally live from 12 to 15 years. In more prosperous countries, they have a lifespan of 30 to 50 years. Since our 5 range in age from 2 years to 6 years, our children may inherit them some day. I am guessing this won’t be very exciting news to either of them since both of our sons are city dwellers!

Well, that’s the day’s information. I hope to be writing soon with a photograph of Ellie’s new foal rather than this image of her last one. Thanks for hanging in here with me!

Donkeys, donkeys everywhere!

Dude, soon to be a Daddy!

Dude, soon to be a Daddy!

Did you know that there were about 41 million donkeys reported worldwide clear back in 2006? Back then, China had the most with 11 million followed by Pakistan, Ethiopia and Mexico. By now, I am quite sure that number has gone up. Gosh, the two babies we purchased last year and the one we have due along with the other two Jennies expecting (we think), we are doing our part!

Since we STILL do not have our new foal born yet, I thought a little donkey history might be in order. Much to my amazement and horror………according to Wikipedia, the gestation period can be as much as 14 months although usually about 12. What a range….from 11 to 14 months. If human mom’s had that kind of range, we would all go crazy waiting!

Believe it or not, the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System listed 189 breeds of ass in June, 2011. Ah yes, the other common name for donkey is ass since the wild ancestor of today’s donkey is the African wild ass, E africanus. Donkeys have been used as working animals for at least 5,000 years. They were first domesticated around 3,000 BC, probably in Egypt or Mesopotamia and have spread world wide since then. As time passed, donkey has gradually replaced ass as the choice of terms. From the 18th century on, this happened due to a tendency to avoid pejorative terms in speech.

All of the above information has come from Wikipedia.org. As we all await the arrival of Ellie’s foal, I thought that I might add donkey info for a while. I have plenty to learn about them. I am particularly interested in the commonality with the horse as well as the differences. Watch for more information in the days to come.

Enjoy the rest of your week-end!