just an old-fashioned girl

Hello and welcome. I'm glad you dropped by. If you´re looking for something a little nostalgic of bygone eras with a timeless elegance and a little modern twist – in other words, something slightly “retro” – then you should feel right at home here in my shabby chic room. Month by month, there will always be something new to see so I hope you´ll enjoy your stay and come back again soon.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sketching Guinea Pigs?

One rainy day recently I was looking through my photos when I came across this one of my cousin, Brian.
I´m sure it must be a studio photo and for some reason the photographer gave it a slightly faded vintage look. I thought it would make a lovely pencil sketch, in fact the ideal photo to use to test a sketching action I´d been playing with. 

As usual, one thing led to another and I finally ended up with not just one but two actions, one entirely automatic and the other requiring some individual input. One worked best with landscapes and the other with portraits though both required a little tweaking. Again, as usual, I had to go – at least! - one step further. I thought that some of the resultant sketches would look good with a little colour and I found the easiest way to do this was to make a sketch into a brush which would give it the necessary transparency. After that I created a new layer beneath it and used a soft brush with a fairly low opacity to transform it into a water colour. Using this method it was easy to delete any colour which went over the lines of the sketch. In fact it was almost exactly like digitally painting by numbers with the added advantage that you don´t need a steady hand when applying the colour as it can easily be edited. I think it turned out quite well but you can judge for yourself.
I´ll probably be selling these 2 actions in the store sometime, both for PU and CU, but if you´d like to have them as freebies you can....though with some strings attached because what I really need is at least one tester. I´d need you to try the actions out and send me a couple or three of your sketches telling me which version of PS you used and what, if any, editing you did. Anyone not known to me already can find my email address HERE, otherwise just make your request below. By the way, the actions don´t work well on PSCS2 so I don´t need anyone to test them on that version.

Any guinea pigs?

PS No pun intended though some action is definitely involved here! Dotty Dora Dog has made a remarkably quick recovery after her knee op. The stitches came out a while ago and have left hardly a trace and now that her hair is beginning to grow back again it´s as if it had all been a bad dream. As I said in a previous post, she started doing her doggy aerobics incredibly quickly and, if possible, with even more enthusiasm than before. I´ll be lounging in the garden reading when she´ll zing past me like a bumble bee on elastic, throw herself onto her back on the lawn kicking ecstatically then buzz back again to repeat the performance an hour later. All´s well that ends well.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rolling For Joy

I said recently that when Dora started doing her daily doggy aerobics on the lawn again I´d know that all was right with her world. No sooner said than done. On Sunday, just 4 days after her operation, to prove to me that she was feeling well and happy she trotted purposefully towards the lawn as if she had an urgent appointment and then threw herself down and started rolling ecstatically among the daisies.
By this time her Santa trousers had already been reduced to just half a leg after they´d started sliding down spewing cotton wool at every step and gathering in folds around her thigh. Herbert cut part of them off and hoped that the next ones would remain intact.

Yesterday when he took her back to have her bandage changed the vet was astonished by the fact that she was already walking on all 4 legs. Herbert told him that she only uses 3 legs when she runs. The very thought of any dog actually running 5 days after such a serious op astonished him even more. When he examined the wound on Dora´s knee he said he´d never known a dog to heal so quickly and that she was quite remarkable. Well, that doesn´t surprise us as we´ve always known that Dora was remarkable.
When Herbert brought her home I was amused to see that her disreputable looking Santa trousers had been replaced by something that looks very like the Scottish Saltire.
After another couple of aerobic sessions that pristine white will be dingy grey but I won´t mind her abusing my national flag in such a good cause. I´m just so relieved that she´s already back to her old happy self.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Home Again

Dora got back home in the late afternoon yesterday looking dazed and confused but struggling gamely to walk without help. It was a warm day and I´d already laid out her rug on her favourite spot on the path to the garden and she headed straight for it and lay down. As you can see from the photo she looked as if she´d borrowed half of Santa´s trousers and I didn´t know whether to laugh or cry.
She had that look on her face which means she feels hard done by and she knows exactly who to blame for it. It´s always directed at me, never at Herbert, and it always makes me feel guilty. Of course that could just mean indignation at having a camera shoved in her face when she feels she looks slightly ridiculous and can´t do anything about it. We let her lie outside for a while so that she´d know her beloved garden was still there and then Herbert carried her indoors where she stretched out and instantly fell asleep. When I got up early this morning she was lying in front of the bedroom door and started wagging her tail as soon as she saw me so at least I knew she wasn´t feeling as bad as I´d feared and had also forgiven me. Dora´s never been one to hold grudges. When I went into the kitchen I saw that at some time after I´d gone to bed she´d eaten her dinner and that made me really happy. Dora´s not a greedy dog and doesn´t eat if she´s feeling unwell so that was a good sign.
She´ll have to keep Santa´s trousers on for the next 6 weeks and have the bandage changed every second day then her leg will be X rayed by which time she´ll hopefully be back to her old self. I think I´ll only be convinced of that when she starts doing her daily doggy aerobics on the lawn. Then I´ll know that all´s right with her world again.
Get well soon, Dora.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wishing Dora Well

Last month our vet said that the limp which Dora had was caused not only by arthritis but by a damaged tendon in one of her hind legs which might require surgery. He made an appointment at a veterinary clinic for her to be X rayed. At the clinic Herbert was advised to leave her there and they´d phone late in the evening once the sedation had worn off so he was surprised when they contacted him only a few hours later and said he could collect her. Apparently she had been so calm and well behaved that sedation hadn´t been necessary in order for her leg to be X rayed. However, that was the only good news. Apparently, while examining Dora the vet had discovered a lump on one of her front paws and had taken a tissue sample to send to the laboratory because she was certain that it was a malignant tumour. An ultrasound scan had not shown any traces of cancer in her internal organs but the cells might still be too small to be apparent. Only the results of the biopsy would tell whether the cancer was still only localised or was at a stage where it had already metastasised. The vet said that in any case the least which would have to be done was a partial amputation of Dora´s paw and asked Herbert if he wanted to leave her at the clinic for immediate surgery. Herbert, in a state of shock, said he´d rather wait for the lab results. A week went by with no word from the clinic. After that Herbert phoned every day for another week and then contacted our own vet who phoned both the clinic and the lab only to discover that there was no trace of either the tissue sample or the report. I won´t describe how we felt after 2 weeks of constant anxiety. If you´ve ever had a beloved pet you´ll know without being told. The vet immediately took another sample himself and sent it off to the lab with instructions that it should be given priority. When he eventually phoned with the results we were both so stunned we could hardly believe it. The "cancerous tumour" was in fact a simple case of inflammation with not a trace of malignancy. The relief was indescribable.

As for the surgery, in a strange kind of way our 3 weeks of anxiety have paid off. Our vet had originally intended to send Dora to the veterinary clinic in nearby Mönchen Gladbach because he has great respect for the expertise of one of the surgeons there. Unfortunately, the surgeon in question was at the time attending further educational lectures in Washington. By the time the cancer scare was over he had already returned from the USA and we were lucky enough to get an appointment with him. I can´t tell you how relieved we were to hear that Dora would be in such good hands as we know from experience that vets who train in the USA are the best in the world - but that´s another story.

Dora´s surgery is taking place as I write. Herbert has just returned from the clinic with a very favourable impression of the surgeon. What particularly impressed me about the procedure is the fact that while he was explaining exactly what the surgery entailed, Dora was gradually falling asleep after having had a sedative so that she wouldn´t experience the trauma of being parted from Herbert and led away by a stranger. The surgery consists of the bone on Dora´s “knee” being split and a metal wedge inserted. This will strengthen her leg and take the place of the damaged tendon. 

We are naturally a little anxious about her but confident that this is all for the best and that very soon Dora will again be doing all the mad things that Dora does best such as... 

...and later on while we´re on holiday in Domburg..

...and, of course, her very best trick...
Of course the best news of all is that she´ll be doing all this with all 4 paws intact!

I´m sure you´ll all join me in wishing Dora well and tomorrow I´ll add a PS to this to let you know how she is after her surgery.