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Lazy Sunday Mornings

What is a warm, sunny Sunday morning meant for? A quiet walk among on the boardwalk of Brooker Creek Preserve where the loudest noise might be the croak of a frog, the cry of a hawk and if you’re lucky the grunt of a gator. But this Sunday morning was literally all about the trees reflecting on the water and sun spilling through those trees. It’s one of my favorite ways to start my day and always makes for a peaceful Ann-Venture. Enjoy.

And by the way if there’s somewhere you’d like to suggest I take a Sunday morning Ann-Venture just let me know @ann.kelly@coxinc.com.

 

Click to view slideshow.

A Book For The Birds

 

For all the Ann-Ventures I’ve been on I still need to work on my bird identifying skills. I love being outdoors but I’d love it even more if I knew the names of all the beautiful fine feathered friends I’ve taking pictures of. But once again National Geographic for Kids has come up with a book that I’m keeping a copy of in my car – Bird Guide of North American from Jonathan Alderfer. He’s the expert having spent ten years as National Geographic’s resident birding expert at their headquarters in Washington, D.C., along with writing. editing and illustrating more than twenty books for the National Geographic Society. Those include the best-selling Field Guide to the Birds of North America (7th edition), Birding Essentials, Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America, and Complete Birds of North America. Most recently, he authored the second edition of National Geographic’s Kids Bird Guide of North America.

This is the perfect book to take along when you go for that walk or hike with the kids. Jonathan tells us exactly what we’ll need to have handy like binoculars, maybe a field book to keep track of what you’ve seen and where to find your favorites. He even includes some ideas for making a bird bath and bird feeder, nice crafty activities in case it’s too rainy to hit the trails. Hear my interview with Jonathan and let the kids listen in and they’ll be just as excited as you will to do a little birding in Florida!

On Island Time

 

 

Residents of Anna Maria Island take a great deal of pride in their island home and rightly so. The iconic City Pier, beautiful views and the many shops and restaurants make for a wonderful way of life. But Hurricane Irma was anything but kind to the Pier and it’s now almost completely dismantled. Last Sunday I decided to see the sunrise myself and took the early morning trip across the Sunshine Skyway. While standing in front of what was left of the Pier I met a local man by the name of Brent Van Winkle. I had to smile when I realized I knew he was an islander right away – it wasn’t a go-cup from any coffee shop in his hand. It was his own mug filled with green tea. We had a great talk about the island, plans for the future and why he loves living on Anna Maria. Brent said the Pier is supposed to be rebuilt by the end of 2019, but the The City Pier restaurant won’t be built and open for business for some time after that. How ironic that one of that last remaining parts of the entrance to the Pier is the menu, still in the case and just waiting for another day sometime down the road.

 

I did wonder about those memory boards that were such an important part of the walk out onto the Pier. Those have been returned to the families of those honored and for those the city wasn’t able to track down, they’re being held in the hopes of one day putting them in their hands. That’s respect. The sea turtles haven’t abandoned Anna Maria Island either. The nests are protected and watched over, and some eggs have started to hatch.

 

Anna Maria Island has long been a favorite place of mine to run away from the world and just relax and forget about whatever is stressing me out. It will stay that way and I look forward to more meals at Ginny and Jane E’s on Gulf Drive, walks on the beach and sometime back out on The City Pier. It will be back as will I. Thanks for a nice chat Brent, see you again soon.

 

 

 

Click to view slideshow.

Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday Dates

 

I doubt the kids will get as excited as you are anytime we mention heading back to school (less than a month). But this is what we wait for – the chance to save and pay no sales tax on a long list of supplies for the next school year. The dates for the back-to-school sales tax holiday have been announced, and the full list from the Florida Department of Revenue runs some four pages so take a look now and start working on a game plan for August 3rd through August 5th.

 

 

Page three through four are where you’ll find the list of clothing and accessories you no doubt spend a fair amount of your paycheck on. Did you know that children’s bicycle helmets are exempt from sales tax? The school supplies are on that last page and it’s a nice idea to pick up some extras to share with teachers who buy supplies out of their own pockets for kids in their class. There’s a great example right here of how to share that kind of love on social media but why now teach the kids now about the value of paying it forward with a few extra supplies?

 

 

You can also scan the code on the front page of the list to see if certain items qualify if things get a little confusing. Stock up!

Lend A Helping Paw

 

How do you ever say no to a sweet little dog like Clover…and the entire Madeira Beach Fire Department? You don’t. I’ve told you Clover’s story before but in case you missed that, the short version is she survived a fire thanks to her Mom laying on top of the pups to protect them (cue tears). But Clover did suffer some injuries and to help cover her vet bills the MBFD is offering a special limited edition t-shirt. It was designed by the great folks at the MBFD to help their Suncoast Animal League alum and now official firehouse dog Clover. Clover and Paramedic Eric were a part of the fun at our station monthly breakfast last month and was a huge hit. No home should be without the shirt! Click here to order your shirt, and keep an eye out for news on Dogtoberfest which is coming soon to Highlander Park in Dunedin. I’ll see you there!

 

A Talk With Toto’s Joseph Williams

 

Once again I look at the years gone by in music and am tremendously grateful I can still enjoy many of the songs I’ve played so often over the years – and better yet, see them performed live in concert. Toto has sold more than 35 million albums and have gifted us with songs that we still get a chill from the first chords. “Africa,” Rosanna,” “Hold the Line” and so many more. The act is still together and they’re taking it on the road for the “40 Trips Around The Sun Tour’ that makes a stop at Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall on October 24th.

It’s always a thrill to have a few minutes to talk about great memories, the thrill of performing live and why life on the road is still pretty good. Joseph Williams was front and center with Toto from 1986 through ’88, taking a break and returning in 2010. I talked with Joseph (the son of legendary composer John Williams) about his Dad and the first time he heard those iconic first notes from Star Wars, his life off the road and off, and why it’s still so good to be on the road.

For tickets to the show, just click here, and stay up to date on upcoming shows with the WDUV Events Guide. Thanks for your time Joseph, I really enjoyed our chat.

Food Safety During Storms

I made it just in time for the sale tax holiday for hurricane prep supplies. It’s over now but that shouldn’t stop you from making sure you have enough supplies to get you through another hurricane season. If Irma taught us anything it pays to have the most important items ready to go like a generator, food and water, and anything that uses batteries like weather radios, fans and lights. I was without power for eight days and let me tell you, opening that fridge and freezer? Nasty!

 

But on the plus site that fridge has never been cleaner. I was glad to have those rubber gloves, disinfectant and lots and lots of heavy duty garbage bags. Do you know how long food in your fridge and freezer is safe after the power goes out? Neat little trick you can use, and I did last year. But you know the drill-better safe than sorry and don’t take chances with food that “might” be okay to eat.

 

Take a look at the Dove Hurricane Guide so you know exactly what supplies you need to have on hand and how much for your family. I’m always a little surprised when there’s the inevitable rush for water and batteries as a storm approaches. Don’t wait! There’s important safety information for the proper use of generators and much more. 

 

Together with our partners from 10 News we’ll help keep you safe in severe weather. Take the time time now to look at the Hurricane Guide and make sure you’re ready this season.

Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday Kicks Off Friday

 

Hurricane season 2018 didn’t wait until the official start date of June 1st; Alberto dumped plenty of rain on the bay area leading to some flooding and minor power outages. But if you were caught without backup of some sort you may not have learned a lesson from last year when Hurricane Irma devastated so much of Florida. It’s time to stock up and tax advantage of the sales tax holiday which runs from June 1st-June 7th and covers a wide range of items. We can show you the complete list here along with items that are not covered. One thing that might catch your attention is sales in a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishment, or airport are not covered. But it’s things we really need like coolers, ice chests, portable generators that sell for $750 or less, and batteries for powering radios (also covered) and more. Stocking up now and not panic-buying before a storm is a good plan.

 

It’s also time to make sure you have your personal plans in place for the family, important papers secured, food, water and what else should be in that emergency kit set aside and knowing your evacuation and flood zones. Oh, and make sure you know what to do to protect your pets, too – and what shelters they will be welcome in, Check the links below for more and check with your county’s emergency management sites for more information. The Dove Hurricane Guide will be online to help you out along with our partners from 10 News, home of Stormtracker Ten to keep you safe in the storm. We’re all in this together.

 

-County-by-county sandbag locations

Hillsborough County Emergency Management

Pinellas County Emergency Management

-Pasco County Emergency Management

-Hernando County Emergency Management

-Polk County Emergency Management

-Manatee County Emergency Management

-Sarasota County Emergency  Management

-National Hurricane Center

Thank You

It’s hard to acknowledge you’re not Wonder Woman, not even close. But we’re about to wrap up Lupus Awareness Month and it’s a good time to touch base with you on how things are going. The monthly Benlysta infusions are actually going quite well. But it’s those darn side effects. Benlysta is not kind to the immune system, so my two go-rounds with upper respiratory infections are part of the deal so far. But I know I’m not alone, it’s been a rough flu and cold season for everyone. But for anyone who has an auto-immune disease like Lupus you start to feel like a bit of a target!

 

That’s where just being kind to yourself is important. Remember, we’re not Wonder Woman as much as we’d like to think we are. That’s the hardest thing for me to accept. So doing those little things to add a little more fun to my life? Love it more than ever! That’s the way it has to be for anyone who lives with one of the more than one hundred forms of arthritis, Lupus among them.

 

We walk together for the Arthritis Foundation to raise funds for research, patient programs and more. Those walks are incredible. Every walk it’s like getting to know each other all over again, trading stories about what is or isn’t working for us, little victories over our disease, and what new therapy or medication might be better for us. Yes we patients talk amongst ourselves a lot. So thank you for your kind words, your questions, your hugs and handshakes. It all makes  a difference.

Plunging Into Gelatin For The Children’s Cancer Center

 

I’ve done it myself. It’s a rather unforgettable experience! Sliding into a massive pool filled with cold gelatin. Now why would someone do that? One very good reason – in support of the Children’s Cancer Center. Heading down that slippery slide this year representing Cox Media Group Tampa is Mika Rotunda with a serious fund raising goal of $5,000. So why should you dip into the checking account? One reason. One day, it may be your family needing the loving support of the Children’s Cancer Center.

 

The Children’s Cancer Center in Tampa was founded by Mac and Cecile Burnett, parents who lost their daughter Helen to leukemia. It was that emotional journey that make the Burnett’s realize when a child is diagnosed with a disease like cancer that the it is really the whole family which is diagnosed. Dr. Janifer M. Judisch assisted the Burnetts to create The Children’s Cancer Center and the funds raised will continue the work of their many services and programs.

 

The Plunge takes place the evening of June 16th at the Children’s Cancer Center in Tampa from 7-11 pm at 4901 W. Cypress St.. To show your love and support for Mika just click here and let’s get this done!

New Pets Of The Week From The Suncoast Animal League

 

Andy

Welcome to a look at the new pets of the week from the Suncoast Animal League! Our first little guy is extra special. Here’s his story direct from Suncoast;

Andy is a very special pup to us. After surviving Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, our friends from Mi Pequeño Albergue sent him to Suncoast Animal League to begin a new life. Now it’s time to find him a forever home. He is a 3.5-year-old mixed breed with shorty legs who weighs 20 lbs. The quickest way to describe his personality is to say that he is very low maintenance. He’s a quiet dog, preferring to be a silent part of a group, mostly observing. But don’t think Andy is aloof. He loves getting attention in the form of hugs and cuddles. He also loves car rides (especially if you’re stopping for a pup ice cream cone) and going for walks. Andy seems to also enjoy being a good boy by learning new training commands. He’s eager to please and is smart. He has been in a foster home for a couple of months and they tell us he loves everyone: humans, dogs, cats and even the neighborhood geckos. The only caveat here is that when he meets new people he is shy and needs time to warm up. Andy has been neutered, microchipped and is up-to-date with vaccines. He is crate and potty trained. He is a bit afraid of thunderstorms, but wearing a Thunder Shirt seems to be the trick in keeping him feeling safe and calm. Interested in meeting the shy, quiet but very gentle Andy?

 

Sadie

Then there’s sweet Sadie. Suncoast describes her as  a loving, social &amp; easily trainable 10-month-old beagle mix weighing in at a petite 20 lbs. She has been in a foster home for a couple of weeks and her foster mom said the sweetest things about her. She wrote… “She had been a wonderful foster pup and gets along well with the other 3 small (under 20 lbs) dogs in the home, although I fairly sure she would do well with dogs larger than her with the proper introduction.  In addition to playing with her foster siblings and going on car rides, Sadie especially likes toys. Durable stuffed animals, tennis balls and nylabones are her favorites. She knows how to sit politely and also comes when called although if she’s basking in the sun on the back porch, you might have to bribe her inside with a tasty treat.  While she does have a fair amount of energy, when it comes time to wind down and relax on the couch, Sadie prefers to be by your side. She walks well on a leash and would be a suitable fit for an active family that will take her on walks and to dog parks or a home with a fenced in backyard for her to play in. Sadie is potty trained and crate trained.”  Sadie has been spayed, microchipped and is up-to-date with vaccines. She will be available for adoption on Saturday at the PetSmart in Countryside. Stop by to meet her and all her adoptable friends.

Would like to meet Sadie or Andy Please email them at  Foster@SuncoastAnimalLeague.org.

 

And please remember for Give Day this Tuesday, May 1st that you can help the Suncoast Animal League with a visit to Smallcakes on Tampa Road in Oldsmar. There are so many ways to have fun and fund-raise, too! Follow the Suncoast Animal League with their newsletter, and on Facebook and  Twitter,

A New Perspective On Surviving Cancer

 

Talk with any cancer survivor and you’ll hear a different perspective on surviving cancer from each one. But when you talk with a doctor that’s the cancer survivor it’s a different sort of perspective.  Dr. John Poothullil, FRCP and author of  Surviving Cancer: A New Perspective on Why Cancer Happens &amp; Your Key Strategies for a Health Life was diagnosed some six years ago . There’s no easy answer to why someone is diagnosed or what may have been the cause,. For instance, you may have seen a story recently on the possible connection between coffee and cancer or another on fast food and your cancer risk. Dr. Poothullil’s new book will give you insight into some of that and his personal battle.

 

 

The bottom line is that there are no easy, quick answers but continuing cancer research gives us hope. You can join survivors, friends and families who walk in memory of those we have lost at the many Relay for Life events. It’s a powerful way to become a part of the solution.

 

 

For more from Dr. Poothullil I have my interview here, and you can follow his work on his web site.

The Things You Learn…

 

Every day is an Ann-Venture when the guest bathroom is being remodeled by  S &amp; W Kitchens. Today I learned there are right and left hand bathtubs. Don’t ask, just go with  it. But I love each little nugget of knowledge I’m absorbing as the process continues.

So. Demo day. Most of that went on while I was at work with you, but I have to say I was pretty impressed to see my designer Larissa front and center on the cleanup! I think of demo as therapy. Ticked off? Take off some tile! Tired? Take it out on the old linoleum. It’s kind of special when you really can’t hurt anything. Oh, of course until you get down to things like the plumbing and electrical. That’s when most people politely invite me to vacate the area. Apparently my klutz gene is no secret.

But major points for those who take enough time and care to protect floors, furniture, etc. The rest of the house may be one big pile of “move it or lose it” but even the ripped out guest bath looks so tidy without anything in it. But that is changing as I speak. This week, plumbing and electrical will be inspected, we’ll move along to drywall and tile and other such fun.

But for now –  a few before and after demo picks to give you a little idea of where we are. I can’t people some of you still thing the guacomole bathtub and sink weren’t real.  But they’re resting comfortably wherever they go when they’re no longer needed. Buh-bye!

Up next….ooooh, pretty! And simply wonderful.

 

Click to view slideshow.

Let’s Start At The Very Beginning…

….Because it’s a very nice place to start, right? Ah, the legendary guacamole green bathub and sink, linouleum floor and florescent lighting that made it clear the 70’s were still very much alive in my guest bathroom. But that’s all changing and it’s just one of the coolest things to watch happen with the incredible talents of my designer Larissa and her team from S &amp; W Kitchens.

So where did I start? With a visit to the showroom (you’ll find two – one in Palm Harbor and in South Tampa) and a meeting with Larissa. I knew what I wanted my guest bath to be – welcoming, cozy and a great place for a long soak in the tub that tells my guest how much I love having them in my home. It was fun to just chat with Larissa and get ot know each other, which led to her knowing what my style is and it didn’t take long before we were looking as samples. And I am so in love with what’s to come!

Click to view slideshow.

So next, it’s back to the house for precise measuring, a little silliness – and who knew you could fit that many people in that room?! But that next step made the process even more exciting. I could really see and feel how things would come together, and if I could have started the demolition process right then and there I would have! But oh the interesting things you discover in the process – like knowing that bit mirror over the vanity was GLUED to the wall for goodness sakes. This is why we leave things to the professionals! But when it’s all said and done, it’s all so worth to wave a final, and not so fond farewell to what was….and look forward to what is to come. Because it’s going to be simply wonderful. Why not start the process yourself for your kitchen or bathroom and get that free consultation I’ve been telling you about? Just click right here and let them know Ann Kelly sent you.

Click to view slideshow.

Up next….it’s DEMO DAY!

Home Sweet Maison

 

Do you have a defined decorating style – or would like to have one? I’m drawn to any style that is comfy, joyful and makes me glad to come home. For Danielle Postel-Vinay it is “Home Sweet Maison – The French Art of Making a Home.” Danielle explained how she was drawn to the French style in an interview last week. But for this Wisconsin native who now lives in New York it was the love of the French style she embraced for most of her life that led her to write this new book. Happily enough Danielle is married to a Parisian! What is the French style? Most importantly it is all about you. Your home should reflect what is most important to you, so bring out those treasured photos, family mementos, the things you love so much and might have set aside in a box in the back of the closet. Danielle explained the art of “la belle vie” – the beautiful live – that will make you smile each time you return home. Even in the laundry room. Her book covers every room in the home from the laundry to the kitchen, the bedroom to the family room and which rooms are considered to be the most important to the French style of living.

 

Danielle Trussoni by Beowulf Sheehan

“Home Sweet Maison” is a nice little book, perfect to curl up with after work, take along on a flight and lose yourself in Danielle’s lovely world of French style. I loved talking to Danielle and I hope you’ll enjoy our chat as well.  For more from Danielle check her website, and follow her on Facebook. I am!

The Dogs Will Be Out Tomorrow!

 

Our sweet little adoptees are vaccinated, microcipped, groomed to the max and have been practicing their tail wagging and puppy-dog eyes skill all week. And tomorrow is THE big day..It’s   Mutt Madness time with the Suncoast Animal League this Saturday in Highlander Park, Dunedin. It’s a full day with so much to see and do you really do need to sit and stay! Every day this week I’ll be introducing you to some of the pets up for adoption this weekend. The adoption tent is incredibly busy from the moment the day starts so it’s best to get there early. We kick things off at 11:30 am and wrap it up at 5 pm.   

 

 

Executive Director Rick Chaboudy stopped in with Annabelle

You’ll love being a part of the Pet-Owner Lookalike Contest, Dancing with the Paws, hearing our Fido Idol contestants, and it wouldn’t be Mutt Madness without a surprise or two….but you’ll have to be there to see what we’re up to! I’m sure we can also fit another bike or two in for The Ride For The Animals – sign up right now. Another big part of the fun are all the rescue groups that will be with us. We cover all the bases when it comes to pet rescues! Take a look at last year’s event and just think how much more fun and wonderful adoption stories we’ll have to tell this year. We’ve celebrated the lives of the Potato Pups, shed a few tears to the story of the Fab Five which of course had a wonderful ending, and applauded the intrepid Spicie!  And of course, there was Puppy Bowl! How cool was it to see the Suncoast Animal League’s two pups Kelly Barkson and Henry featured and know that the work of the Suncoast Animal League and Executive Director Rick Chaboudy received national recognition. Add to that the rescues of pets left homeless after Hurricane Maria devasated the island of Puerto Rico and it’s been an incredible year. Would you like a sneak peek as just a few of the friendly, hopeful faces waiting to meet you tomorrow? Just scroll through the slideshow and I’ll see you tomorrow under the Oaks. Come sit and stay a while.

 

 

 

 

Click to view slideshow.

Out Of The “Doghouse” And Into New Homes At Mutt Madness

 

Puppies. Lots and lots of sweet puppy breath, senior dogs who need a loving home, and more wonderful four-legged furry people who love to cuddle, take long walks and be your best friend. It’s Mutt Madness time with the Suncoast Animal League this Saturday in Highlander Park, Dunedin. It’s a full day with so much to see and do you really do need to sit and stay! Every day this week I’ll be introducing you to some of the pets up for adoption this weekend. The adoption tent is incredibly busy from the moment the day starts so it’s best to get there early. We kick things off at 11:30 am and wrap it up at 5 pm.

 

 

You’ll love being a part of the Pet-Owner Lookalike Contest, Dancing with the Paws, hearing our Fido Idol contestants, and it wouldn’t be Mutt Madness without a surprise or two….but you’ll have to be there to see what we’re up to! I’m sure we can also fit another bike or two in for The Ride For The Animals – sign up right now. Another big part of the fun are all the rescue groups that will be with us, and yes that is a skunk from last year! We cover all the bases when it comes to pet rescues! Take a look at last year’s event and just think how much more fun and wonderful adoption stories we’ll have to tell this year. We’ve celebrated the lives of the Potato Pups, shed a few tears to the story of the Fab Five which of course had a wonderful ending, and applauded the intrepid Spicie!  And of course, there was Puppy Bowl! How cool was it to see the Suncoast Animal League’s two pups Kelly Barkson and Henry featured and know that the work of the Suncoast Animal League and Executive Director Rick Chaboudy received national recognition. Add to that the rescues of pets left homeless after Hurricane Maria devasated the island of Puerto Rico and it’s been an incredible year.

 

 

So let”s get to know two new sweethearts up for adoption this Saturday at our “12th Annual Mutt Madness.” Say hello to Sherman, and  how ridiculously adorable is 4-month-old he? Whoa! Sherman is 23 lbs German Shepherd mix. He’s been hanging out in one of our super fabulous foster homes and now the adorable pup is ready for his forever home. His foster mom wrote… “What a wonderful personality to add to any dog loving family. He is very smart and has learned to “sit,” “come” and he’s working on “stay.” Sherman enjoys fetching his tennis ball and playing with other dogs. He’s also good with cats. Sherman is create trained and he’s working on his potty training. Sherman has been neutered, microchipped and is up-to-date with vaccines. He will be available to meet his lucky family on Saturday. 

 

 

I spotted this little guy on the Suncoast Animal League’s Facebook page yesterday. This adorable pup is 2-year-old, 18 lb  cuddle bug Pappy. He’s been hanging in one of our most awesome foster homes getting lots of hugs and kisses from everyone. He loves the attention, but he told us he’s ready for his forever home. Pappy’s foster mom wrote, “He has learned to walk on a leash, is 95% potty trained, and wants to be your lap dog. He gets along well with our other dog who is approximately the same size. He comes with me to the car line to pick up the three kids everyday. He lets them pick him up and carry him all over the house, and is such a happy boy. His tail never stops wagging! Anyone wanting a lap dog who is a gentle little guy will quickly fall in love with Pappy.” Pappy has also been neutered, microchipped and is up-to-date with vaccines. He will be looking for his forever family this Saturday at the 12th Annual Mutt Madness so come out to meet him! 

 

 

 

Click to view slideshow.

 

 

 

 

A Doggone Good Time At Mutt Madness This Saturday

Puppies. Lots and lots of sweet puppy breath, senior dogs who need a loving home, and more wonderful four-legged furry people who love to cuddle, take long walks and be your best friend. It’s Mutt Madness time with the Suncoast Animal League this Saturday in Highlander Park, Dunedin. It’s a full day with so much to see and do you really do need to sit and stay! Every day this week I’ll be introducing you to some of the pets up for adoption this weekend. The adoption tent is incredibly busy from the moment the day starts so it’s best to get there early. We kick things off at 11:30 am and wrap it up at 5 pm.

 

You’ll love being a part of the Pet-Owner Lookalike Contest, Dancing with the Paws, hearing our Fido Idol contestants, and it wouldn’t be Mutt Madness without a surprise or two….but you’ll have to be there to see what we’re up to! I’m sure we can also fit another bike or two in for The Ride For The Animals – sign up right now. Another big part of the fun are all the rescue groups that will be with us, and yes that is a skunk from last year! We cover all the bases when it comes to pet rescues! Take a look at last year’s event and just think how much more fun and wonderful adoption stories we’ll have to tell this year. We’ve celebrated the lives of the Potato Pups, shed a few tears to the story of the Fab Five which of course had a wonderful ending, and applauded the intrepid Spicie!

 

And of course, there was Puppy Bowl! How cool was it to see the Suncoast Animal League’s two pups Kelly Barkson and Henry featured and know that the work of the Suncoast Animal League and Executive Director Rick Chaboudy received national recognition. Add to that the rescues of pets left homeless after Hurricane Maria devasated the island of Puerto Rico and it’s been an incredible year. So catch up with us this week, and I’ll see onstage Saturday,

 

 

 

 

 

Click to view slideshow.

 

 

 

A Final Roar At Big Cat Rescue

I cried this morning when I read this post from Jamie Veronica at Big Cat Rescue with the news that their beloved Joseph had died. This visit was one of my favorite Ann-Ventures and to Carole Baskin and everyone at Big Cat I know how deeply you feel the loss of each and every friend you’ve taken care of for many years. The good news is that all our beloved friends will be waiting for us at the end of that Rainbow Bridge someday. I’d love to share my visit with you from last year and how very special it was. Joseph’s roar was the highlight and will never be forgotten,/

To learn more about the work of Big Cat Rescue and to let them know how much you appreciate their work please click here,  and follow them for the wonderful live Facebook feeds.

Are You Aware?

“But you don’t look sick.”

Someone that deals with a rare illness can hear that a lot. That someone is me. I’ve talked about my journey with Systemic Lupus with you before but today I want to share a little more with you. Today is Rare Disease Day. What makes a disease “rare?” In the US it affects 1 in ten people and the sad fact is half of those are children. Lupus has some many symptoms and syndromes and there are times when even I lose track. But it was something I didn’t even know I had that had me flat on the floor in the hallway outside my studio one morning and off to the ER. Antiphospholipid Syndrome was causing my blood to clot and triggered what is known as a TIA – what I now know what a blessing in disguise. Not a stroke, but a strong warning that something was wrong. Quite a few tests later I found myself on a blood thinner, most likely for the rest of my life. But I’m grateful each and every day that it wasn’t worse.

Over the last year many of my anti-inflammatory meds stopped working so now it’s Benlysta, the first drug that was developed specifically for Lupus. I’m just completing what they call the loading doses through an IV. After this it’s once a month. It’s a very expensive drug and like other companies there is a program that will pay the majority of the cost…if you qualify. And from what I hear from others also on this drug it can be an incredible battle just trying to do that. I won’t go off on a health care rant, but let’s say I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. And I will always have to be and will be my best advocate. The worst side effect so far has been incredible fatigue to the point where it feels like all I want to do is go home and stay there. Some days I do and I’ll never make excuses for the way I feel. It’s an opportunity to educate. So please feel free to ask me whatever you’d like in total confidence at ann.kelly@coxinc.com. But please make sure you speak with your doctor when you have questions and concerns about your health care first.

There’s someone else I’d also like to introduce you to. I met the Valenti family through one of our walk for the Arthritis Foundation some years ago. Mary and Tony are two of the strongest parents I’ve ever known, and their daughters Ashley and Lindsey are incredible with all they’ve had to deal with. But it’s Ashley’s journey with Arthritis and Crohn’s disease that is taking a toll. Mary gave me permission to share their story and invite you to join #TeamAshley. I have! Please take a moment to read what Mary shared recently and join us for the upcoming Arthritis Foundation’s Walks. I look forward to meeting you soon and sharing my story. Rare Disease Day may be commemorated today. But the diseases do not.

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