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She is a lab mix…we rescued her.  But if the truth be known…she rescued us.  We lost our Missy last November after spending 12 years loving her as a member of our family.  I was not sure this hole in my heart could be filled with just another dog…I knew we wanted to rescue a dog again because pound puppies are the BEST!  We had Roscoe an English Bulldog for a brief time but he needed more than we could give him so he went to live with someone who knew how to care for him, I was again heartbroken….  Then Gina came into my life….from East Coast Canine Alliance….she had these precious black puppies…and they needed homes…I knew If John and I went to look at them…one would come home with us…and it happened…Bella picked us…We were at the foster home a matter of minutes when Bella came right up to us…sat down, then rolled on her back for us to rub her belly….Done!  She was ours.  She picked us, and we are so glad she did we are the lucky ones….

So on the days when she drives me CRAZY with her puppyness…digging holes in the yard that I keep filling in….barks at me non stop  to play….gets caught under the deck…and comes out muddy then dashes through the house with those muddy feet and I want to scream…or the days she melts my heart when I find her laying where Missy is buried in the yard…it’s a fact.  I love this dog.  She picked us…she knew we needed her.  This week she turned 6 months old…weighs 45lbs and is the smartest sweetie..who LOVES car rides, belly rubs and The Cape and learned to swim today…how much better can it get?  She is our Bella Boo.


We arrive early in the day on our little boat…The Wee Three….and there are very few around us only sea gulls….

And dolphins

She played soooo hard she fell asleep IN her water bowl…LOL.

She found her way into the dunes trying to hide…

The clouds at The Cape are always the prettiest…

Yea…she can sit in my chair…it totally matches her collar.  🙂

Our Bella Boo….6 months old….and she has our heart.

  • Gina - February 17, 2014 - 2:01 PM

    I can’t believe that I am just now seeing this wonderful story! The pictures are so heartwarming and beautiful!ReplyCancel

    • mgillikin - February 18, 2014 - 12:12 PM

      Awww Thank you Gina….can you believe she is a YEAR OLD today? It’s been a sweet journey with her so far. She is a great family member!ReplyCancel

When your heart is so full of love…it’s about to burst!  Somewhat like a balloon…..

We had to wait to tell the world….until she was ready….almost 3 months..that was torture….then we had to wait until Joe  had all the details done….and ready for the reveal.  Thanks Joe for your hard work!!!

Then that moment…when everyone held their breath sure they were right…that it was a girl or boy all wearing colors to support their heart felt choice…black balloons filled with pink or blue paint…darts in hand ready..ready….set ….go!  

That moment…when it all becomes real.

The canvas will be her first work of art as a night light in her room.  With God’s stamp of love…..<3

proof is in the ultrasound photo.

Face time…brings her brother home…to celebrate with us.

Paula’s Besties…they have all been in this same pose for each of them…now it’s Paula’s turn.

Even Bella joined the celebration and is happy sporting her pink tongue!

We will be anticipating the arrival of Amelia Grace Stone (nick name pebbles get it? stone…pebbles? LOL. ) Sometime around Thanksgiving…now that’s a lot to be thankful for!

And all because two people fell in love…..


Roscoe was a bulldog rescue that I was lucky enough to find….or did he find me?  I am not sure, but what I do know that in a very short amount of time he won my heart.  He had been dumped by his owner on the side of the road with another bulldog companion.  Both were sick, and in need of love and care.  After being in a shelter for 10 days I picked him up on a Tuesday and brought him home.  His girl bully was in need of medical care before she could be released into rescue…For three weeks we had him in our home, trying to reach him, earn his trust let him know we were not going to hurt or harm him and try and mend what was broken by spoiling him in every way we knew how.    We were sure he had found his forever home with us, but it turns out he needed more…He needed something we could not give him.

When he should have been growing more comfortable in his new home, he was growing more anxious and grumpy sometimes trying to bond with us…others knowing he did not belong here.  He had lashed out at me several times for unexplained reasons…Not knowing what on earth the problem was I started searching for answers on a FB forum for English Bulldog Rescue’s.  There are so many loving people in that forum…I finally ran across a new friend…Danielle.  She friended me and the friendship began.   She talked me down off the cliff on many occasions at my wits end not knowing what the issue was…with Roscoe.  One of my thoughts was that he missed his bully companion and was mad at me for it somehow like I was at fault….I even caught him staring at himself in the mirror one day..LOL…and he went back to that mirror several times…perhaps thinking it was her…? I don’t know, at the time I thought it was funny…now it seems so sad.  I think he really misses her.

It finally came to a head late one evening after a very anxious hour for Roscoe, he snapped on me again.  Out of desperation I called Danielle, knowing that our home was not where Roscoe needed to be because  I now feared him and I think he knew that.    Knowing what I knew about him and how he was aggressive toward me…a shelter would have probably put him down upon taking him in so Danielle came to the rescue of Roscoe…at 11pm.  We had to let him go….

When Danielle took him home and we immediately knew what he needed…it was confirmed….what he was looking for….other bullies.  Danielle has been a foster home for bullies of all kinds helping find them their forever homes and saving them from being put down.    Danielle turned out to be the Angel of Rescue for Roscoe until she could find a home that had other bullies that he could be friends with and once again be with what was familiar to him and calm his anxiety.  After just a couple of days she found a home for him and he is now blending in wonderfully with his new forever family….

Even though my heart is sad that Roscoe could not find happiness with me,  I am so glad he was able to find a place where he could call home, be loved..and live a long happy bully life…when I took this photo a couple of weeks ago..I was not aware just how lucky this little English bulldog was…he definitely has the luck of the Irish with him so these are appropriate photo so say goodbye and give you an Irish wish.   May you always find happiness with your forever home, run with your friends and be smothered with love.  I will forever remember your high fives, and your rolling over for cheese…

  • Michelle - March 16, 2013 - 6:07 PM

    Melody, I’m so sorry for the difficulties you and Roscoe experienced. Your story moves me to tears. I was a foster mom for two boys, one of whom we adopted. The other was not meant to be with us. Your story reminds me of this horrible time in our life, when we should have been happy. Letting go is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life! I can tell that you know in your heart that this is the right thing. Please know that your heart will heal, and with time, you’ll see with even more clarity. I will be praying for you and Roscoe. <3ReplyCancel

    • mgillikin - March 17, 2013 - 9:10 AM


      Thank you so much. It was hard for sure but he is thriving in his new home with his new bully brother. I was not meant to keep him apparently but was meant to get him to his new family. I will find the right one soon.

      Your thoughts and prayers are so welcomed!


The older I get…the more I realize that the material things in my life that I have once longed for and coveted

fancy cars…fancy houses….extravagant vacations and bling…

Although nice…I don’t NEED them anymore to make me happy.

They  just DON’T matter…it’s more so about the people in my life….and what I do with MY life my talents for the good of others that matters…

I think that is why I love being a photographer so much….taking those photos that in turn give people such joy….

Helping them connect and remember the important things and times in THEIR lives.

Their wedding day

Their love for each other

Their children

Their Pets

Their Special Event

Their Family

Themselves….and their self-worth.

Their past…..

Their loved ones…present and gone.

It is literally the BEST most rewarding part of my job.

Proof of this:

In digging in my pile of recipe books (of which most have not seen the light of day in a LONG time! LOL) for a recipe to cook pork chops I found this.  Something from my past…

Something my grandmother wrote down for me…on a napkin back in 1983.

She was known for her cornbread…and pinto beans.

She made the very best!

When I saw the napkin …. I remembered the day she wrote that for me……it brought back a very vivid memory of a joyous time.

Knowing that some of my other family members would love to have this too

I…..wait for it…wait for it….

Took a photo of it!  LOL..

and text  it to my cousin….and this is what she said…

“Oh my.  I want a picture of that to frame for my kitchen!! Priceless”

Which got me to thinking….it truly IS  the BEST part of my job…It’s what really’s the bottom line of why I do what I do.

Taking photos of …people…their love for each other….their wedding day….their special events….places….and things…that bring that kind of excitement….

That kind of joy….this is why I LOVE what I do.

So without further adieu here is the world famous

Cornbread recipe written on a napkin soon to be hung in a kitchen a reminder of a special person…

In Honor of  my grandmother  Viola Wilson.

Now if I could just figure out how much salt,  milk and sugar to add…. 🙂

This is  how they did it back then….

A pinch of this…a handful of that…just their special touch…never to be duplicated exactly.

Happy Wednesday!


This post was totally unplanned today but when I was in my closet today looking for something to wear…

This box that I had tucked away caught my eye…

I knew what was in it

I just had not opened it in awhile

Because each time I do, I cry.   But today I needed to be close to what was inside.

So I opened it and grabbed the green striped hat and pulled to my nose and took a deep inhale.   It still smelled like him, after all these years it smelled like the man that I called


My Daddy went to be with Jesus after a very short and awful battle with lung cancer 32 years ago.

I was 18 when he died, and it was the hardest thing I had to ever go through.

The things I remember about him are:

He was one of the best welders and pipe fitters in the area and a member of

Local 110 Plumbers and Pipe fitters Union

sought after to build some of the areas legendary landmarks like

 the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (that’s what brought our family to Virginia Beach)

He helped build the Franklin Paper Mill

He was asked to go help build the Alaska Pipe Line…that would have taken my family to California

but I came along and they stayed put here in Hampton Roads!  And the rest is history 🙂

He was a strong quiet family man.  He sounded like Elvis when he sang.  He smoked a pipe with cherry tobacco.

He loved the beach and body surfing

~I remember in the summer we would spend many evenings, after he got off work, at sandbridge playing in the surf~

He was an avid bass fisherman too…he tried to teach me once…and once is all it took to  realize that fishing was not my thing

…when I tossed his rod and real (that was his from his childhood) INTO Back Bay…whoops.

When he said “cast and let go”…I quickly found out he did not mean the whole thing LOL!

He loved his Savior, his momma, his wife and his children…Oh and the Red Skins 🙂

He got to meet his two beautiful grand daughters before he passed

and the one thing I remember that GETS me to this very day is….

I don’t have hardly ANY photos of me WITH him.  Only 1 that I can put my hands on from my high school graduation.

he was ALWAYS behind the 8mm camera….filming everything from the building of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

to the family Christmas gatherings and so on.

I guess I got my love of photography and film from him  🙂

My point in all of this today is a reminder to myself and photographers like me….

Don’t let a small box with a few items in them be the only thing your kids have of you.

Take lots of photos WITH them….not just OF  them….

32 years later and he is still teaching me.

I love you Daddy…I will see you again one day.

In Loving Memory of Jack Rayburn Kendrick.