Thursday, April 19, 2012

Here are pictures of my first design challenge for  The video Darlene created was a little off on the colors, these pictures give a better idea what I created. 

All cards are available for purchase, but during my busy season it will take a little longer for me to get them out since I have to make each card.  Any proceeds go towards my wildlife rehabilitation expenses.

For more info, please contact me via email,

This is a large card.  It can be used for any occasion, and the
sentiment can be customized to your specific needs.  This, by the way, is true of all my creations.
 Lilac swirls.  A very elegant and clean, large card in soft pastel colors.  The flowers are hand made, as are all flowers in my creations.
 Flower basket card.  I had to come up with ideas for a mega holly die and tried hard to stay away from a Christmas card (which then is the last card in this blog since Darlene wanted a Christmas card as well).  In this card I wove the basket and stained the paper with distress inks which gives it a very authentic feel.  The flowers are hand made.  The card is very dimensional and large.
 Another attempt at staying away from a Christmas card using the holly mega die.  Here I let the die do all the talking and offset it with different background papers.  Outside and inside sentiments are gold embossed for added elegance.
 I had been given a set of 5 nesting egg shaped dies and scratched my head trying to figure out what to do with them all.  So here I used one of them and cut a round hole into the center which shows a picture of two of my rehab babies from a few years ago.  These are two baby red squirrels of different ages.  When I flipped back the blanket for feeding, this is how I found the two cuddled together.  Luckily the camera was right there, because as soon as they felt the cold air they stirred and the magic moment was gone. 
The borders are decorated with wood flowers on top and pink dogwood blossoms on the bottom.  The background is embossed and stained with distress inks. 
 Here I incorporated all five nesting egg dies into one frame.  The idea of Easter eggs was just too boring for me, I wanted to use the dies differently.  These are two of several bunnies I got in last year.  The one on the left was found in the middle of a busy intersection running about in circles after it had been hit by a car.  The right eye was a bloody mess and I wasn't even sure if there still was an eye.  But luckily the baby did not lose its eyesight and recovered fully.  The dandelions are hand made and dimensional.
 An Easter card.  The basket is cut with a delicate die and I added the background by hand to give the basket depth.  The pansies are hand made.  The basket can be used for any purpose, and I plan to do exactly that.  Watch for it for Mother's Day cards...
Another Easter card.  I had to create something with a mini swirl and the lace egg, and rather than ending up having to make 20 cards I decided to put both into one design.  The flowers, again, are hand made.   The border is also cut with a die. 
Baby opossum and gray squirrel card.  This was a single baby opossum, and they don't do well when raised alone, they need company.  So I stuck the baby in with a litter of gray squirrels, and while the squirrels didn't mind it, the opossum absolutely LOVED the company.  When I tried to separate her a few weeks later she cried so hard that I had to put her back with the squirrels.  An odd litter, but eventually the opossum was old enough to start her solitary life a few weeks before I finally released her. 

And last but not least, the Christmas card...  The nestbox was created with an embossing folder and stained with distress ink and then I hand cut the shape.  The two gray squirrels are youngsters I raised from tiny babies.  The ornaments are delicate dies cut from gleaming gold card stock with a pearlescent background. 

How I stumbled into wildlife rehabilitation

`The year was early May 2001. I was working on my laptop which faced out the slider onto the patio out back. Birds were pecking away on the patio, and suddenly I noticed an odd looking one among them. It was a female goldfinch, and she was drenched in oil.

Without thinking, I ran out and caught her with my bare hands before she could slip through the neighboring chain link fence. Bird in hand, it suddenly hit me: Now what?

I had befriended a woman in a neighboring town who was the dog officer there and I knew that she rehabilitated raccoons and such, so I called her for help. "Gosh, no, if I just look at birds they keel over and die!" she exclaimed. But she gave me the name and number of a woman in Bolton, MA and wished me good luck. Unsure of why she had wished me good luck, I dialed that number, bird still in hand.

Answering machine. Left a message. Waited 10 minutes. Called again. Answering machine. Left another message, a little more urgent this time. Waited again. No call back. Called again, this time a little ticked off. Hey, lady, I am standing here with an oil drenched goldfinch in my hand, what do I do?????? - Finally, she called back, said to use Dawn, and was about to hang up when I intercepted with "what is Dawn?" "Dish soap", she said, sounding a little like "are you for real?" Then she was gone. I looked at the bird, looked at my dish soap which was Palmolive, looked at the bird again, and decided it would be impossible to get to a store with bird, besides, dish soap is dish soap, right?, so I started to wash her with Palmolive.

A goldfinch looks a lot bigger when it's dry. When wet, there isn't much bird left. But they're feisty little birds, and this one tried repeatedly to bite me with her tiny beak. First rinse, no improvement. Suds again, wash, rinse, still not much improvement. I hail from Germany, had never heard of Dawn, and had no idea that it's much better at cutting grease and therefore is the choice of oil residue removal. I learned that lesson the hard way that day.

The poor bird had undergone four washes and rinses when she suddenly closed her eyes and hung her head. WHAT???? NOOOOOOO!!!! YOU CAN'T DIE ON ME, NOOOOOO!!! I opened her beak and gently blew air into her lifeless body, gave her careful CPR, more air, more pressing on her chest -- and suddenly she came around again!   I wrapped her in a towel and gently dabbed her dry, then let her rest in a cage I had dug out down cellar. An hour or so later I dared to continue washing her one more time, and at last she looked semi decent from the neck down. I hadn't washed her head, I was afraid I'd drown her.

The next day she was restless, and I wondered if she could fly. Her feathers were still a bit rough looking, but she made it very clear how unhappy she was with her current situation. So I opened the door for a test flight and she immediately zipped out and flew straight out of the room and into the bedroom and fell behind the mirror. Oh great, heavy triple dresser to move in order to get her out!...

Bird in hand for one last time, I stepped back out onto the patio and opened my hand. Off she went, into the next tree, and I prayed that I had done the right thing in letting her go. I had picked a bad time in that temperatures went down to near freezing that night and I worried that her compromised plumage might not protect her adequately from the cold.

But the next morning I saw her sitting in the little tray feeder outside the slider leading to the patio, and from there on she had breakfast there every single morning. She'd give her thin little feepsies when she saw me but otherwise we had no interaction. I never had any problems recognizing her even from a distance because her head was still oil stained. She was my precious ugly little goldfinch girl, and I was just so grateful that I hadn't killed her with kindness and stupidity...

Then, about mid June, I was standing at the kitchen sink with the windows open one late morning. There were the usual rowdy house sparrows, but when it quieted down again I suddenly heard this familiar thin feeps call and looked up. There was my little goldfinch girl sitting on one of the weeping cherry tree branches, and she was making quite a racket. When she saw me she got more excited and flew over to a nearby branch, and suddenly I realized what she was doing: she was showing off her boyfriend, a pale yellow young male goldfinch. There was no mistaking her intentions, she flew about him and next to him and then switched sides again and all the time kept checking to see if I was watching her. I smiled and said to her "you go girl! Congratulations!" This was the only time I ever saw her in the cherry tree out front, and shortly afterwards she and her new mate disappeared. Breeding season for goldfinches was near, and they headed out in the open meadows to build their nest.

This little bird was my introduction to the world of wildlife rehabilitation. I wanted to go visit that woman in Bolton, but she kept turning me down. I kept pestering her, and eventually she broke down and gave me her address.

I'll never forget my introduction to Judy's "Mrs. Doolittle" place:

She had told me to come around back and enter through the basement door. I did as told and called out when I walked in, and Judy stepped out of one of the rooms and waved me over. Just then her phone rang, and she said to me "here, hold this" in order to answer the phone. I had half extended my arms when I realized what she was handing me: a baby porcupine! I pulled my hands back in a hurry and looked at her in disbelief, "you want me to hold this just like that??? What about the quills??" "Oh, don't worry, there are none on the belly." "Yeah, but all over the rest of the animal, and if she moves and I have to grab hold... Are you CRAZY?" Judy pushed me on a chair and placed the baby on my lap, and I wasn't about to move until she returned. I got a good look at the baby's cute face and was stricken, and upon Judy's return I made sure to take some close-up pictures. How many people have ever seen a baby porcupine up close? I was in heaven...

Judy made sure that I wouldn't drive home on Cloud Nine, she wanted to give me a reality check. She had me clean some rather goopy opossum babies who had just rolled in their food, and when she got a starling in she gave the dehydrated bird subcutaneous fluids. My toes curled when I saw that, and Judy gave me a stern look and said "If you can't handle needles, you're not cut out for this job. Giving fluids often is the difference between life and death for an animal, so knowing how to do this is important." I took a deep breath and nodded my understanding. When the bird bounced back about 30 minutes later I saw first hand the value of the fluid given and it bothered me a lot less. But it would take me quite a while longer until I'd dare to stick my first needle into a little animal...

On my way home I knew that this is what I wanted to do: learn how to help wildlife in need. Despite the considerable distance (40 minutes each way) Judy's place became my regular hangout, and the hands-on experience I gained by working side by side with Judy was invaluable. But these are stories that warrant their own space, so I'll close for now.