Saturday, December 20, 2014


Today has been more than great, because of our dear friends: Linda Forse, Donna Hatch, The Kerrville Daily Times & Rachel Fitch for helping out our rescue ranch Big Time! This is my cut & paste version of what Donna wrote for The Kerrville Daily Times, in today's newspaper. To view the paper's article click here:  or read my cut & paste version below.

2.57 carat diamond to be sold as fundraiser for animal sanctuary

By Donna Gable Hatch
Features Editor

MEDINA — Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch has a special way to ring in the New Year — with a 2.57-carat diamond ring valued at nearly $20,000 retail.
     The sparkling gem is a gift to the ranch from Brownsville resident Linda Forse, an animal lover-rescuer and supporter of the nonprofit, no-kill animal sanctuary. The ring will be sold through Fitch Estate Sales to raise funds for the ranch. 
     Offers will be accepted through midnight Dec. 31 and will be sold to the highest offer. 
     A reserve price of $7,500 has been set. 
     “I’ve been to the ranch a few times, and I’ve made donations over the years, but I want to make a real a difference, and the dollar value of the ring will be, hopefully, enough to see the ranch through hard times,” said Forse, who rescues greyhounds. “Cousin Nancy and Tony are so dedicated and two of the nicest people you’d ever meet. What they do for the animals is what we all should be doing for humanity: Good hearts in the right places.”
     Cousin Nancy and Tony are Nancy Parker-Simons and her husband, Tony Simons, who founded Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch with their longtime friend, Kinky Friedman, in 1998.
     The five-acre sanctuary is tucked inside the 365-acre Echo Hill Ranch in Medina that has been in the Friedman family for more than 60 years.
     Throughout the years, the rescue ranch has provided sanctuary to thousands of animals, including dogs, cats, pigs, goats, horses, donkeys and turkeys — many of which would have been forgotten and euthanized. They’ve also found loving homes for countless animals.
     Friedman said the ring was unexpected and “very much appreciated.”
     Proceeds will be used to fund ongoing veterinary care and feed the animals. 
     “Cousin Nancy and Tony will be fed, too,” Friedman quipped. “Those two are our only staff, and they are paid a very nominal salary. Cousin Nancy and Tony have devoted their lives to this peaceful kingdom and happy orphanage, and Utopia couldn’t exist without them. Everybody else who helps out are probably the best set of volunteers in the world, along with the Salvation Army, which may be the greatest army in the world.”
     Parker-Simons said the ranch spends about $400 a month on dog food, “and our veterinary care, even with big discounts, fluctuates from month to month, because every dog that we rescue gets spayed or neutered, given all shots and treated for any ailments.”
     Last month, Parker-Simons received a call about a young female Labrador without tags that had limped onto the caller’s property.
     “He thought the dog had been hit by a car, because she didn’t walk right. He said he could not afford to keep her, because he is losing his battle with cancer,” she said. “The story pulled at my heartstrings.”
     The injured animal, which Parker-Simons had dubbed Bonnie Raitt, was taken to Hoegemeyer Animal Clinic, which works with the rescue ranch to provide affordable veterinary care.
     “The next morning, a vet from the clinic told me that Bonnie had a fractured pelvis and she needed surgery on both hips. In addition, both of her back legs had torn ACL’s needing surgery, too — and the surgeries would cost in the thousands of dollars.”
     With limited funds, Parker-Simons arranged to pay the fee over time.
     “Bonnie has had her first side done, and the surgery was successful on her hip and ACL.”
The dog will recuperate for another month or so and then have the additional surgery. 
     “Bonnie Raitt’s rescue is the most expensive dog rescue that we’ve had in over 16 years of rescuing animals,” Parker-Simons said. “Every time that we rescue a dog, we seldom know in advance what the veterinary cost will be, so we are very grateful that this beautiful ring has been donated to us, because it will certainly help us pay the bills, continue rescuing and help us try to leave the world a better place than we found it.”

About the ring
     The ring was purchased in November 1965 by Forse’s grandfather, David Forse, for his wife, Francis. In its original setting, the ring held a 2.57 carat diamond and an equally large sapphire.
     “My grandparents spent winters in Miami Beach, and Pop was in a jewelry store, and he wanted to buy something for his and Mimi’s 50th anniversary,” Forse said. “As the story goes, Sammy Davis Jr. was also in the store at the time, and he wanted to buy the same ring for his wife, May Britt, a Swedish movie star, because it was their fifth anniversary. Pop and Sammy Davis each said they saw the ring first, so there was some back-and-forth. The jeweler intervened and decided that 50 years trumps five years, and Pop got it. He always playfully boasted about how he bested Sammy Davis Jr.”
     Francis Forse died in 1995, and the ring has been in her granddaughter’s possession since that time.
     Rachel Fitch, an antique appraiser and owner of Fitch Estate Sales, 838 Sidney Baker St., said the sapphire had been scratched and damaged over time, “but the diamond is simply gorgeous. It’s a modified shield cut diamond and is a very unusual. Everybody either gets a round diamond or an emerald-cut diamond.”
     Fitch removed the diamond from the original setting — which “though lovely, was antiquated” — and sent the diamond off to be GIA-certified.
     “It came back as a 2.57 carat, L color, VS1, which is the clarity of the diamond. VS1 is a really great clarity,” Fitch said. “The diamond has really very good symmetry. Everything you want it to have, it has.”
     Fitch is handling the sale of the ring as a holiday gift to Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, she said.
     “We’re taking written offers, and anyone who wants to see the ring in welcome to come into the store.”
     A current offer of $7,500 is on the table.
     Fitch said she has put the ring is a simple setting — which really sets off the beauty of the gem.
     “The average woman wears 1 carat or less, and this is a 2.57 carat diamond,” Fitch said. “The solitaire diamond, which is so big and looks even bigger in a simple setting, makes it a very unusual engagement ring,” Fitch said. “If you were to go to a big box jewelry store, they would have this ring at $19,000 or $20,000, because that’s what retail is. But the sale of this particular ring is for a good cause — all the proceeds benefit animal rescue — so whoever purchases this particular ring is getting so much more in the bargain. And did I mention it’s tax deductible?”
     The fact that it’s a shield cut diamond — which looks like a Super Man shield — is the perfect way to say “You are the protector of my heart,” Fitch said. “If you factor in that the basis for selling the ring in the first place is to help protect animals, the ring is even more beautiful than its combined cut, clarity and carats. This is a very special ring, and whoever gets it will be getting a remarkable deal.”
     Forse said her grandmother would be pleased.
     “I have no doubt that my grandmother, who was an animal lover, would love that this is going to a good cause,” Forse said. “It’s absolutely the right thing to do. I’m sure I’ll have a dream one night, and Mimi will come to me and say ‘Good job, Linda.’

Above: Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch recently acquired Bonnie Raitt, a stray Labrador pup that was seriously injured. Proceeds from the sale ofthe ring will be used for the dog’s surgery expenses, as well as to fund other needs at the no-kill animal sanctuary.

Above right: In this photo circa 1950 aboard the R.M.S. Queen Elizabeth, David Forse, left, sits with his wife, Francis, and two unidentified friends. The 2.57-carat diamond from a ring given to
Francis by her husband in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary has been donated by their granddaughter, Linda Forse, to Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch.

Sammy Davis Jr. wed Swedish actress Britt May in November1960. Five years later, he visited a Miami Beach jeweler in search of an anniversary ring for his wife. The diamond from that ring has been donated to Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch and will be sold to the highest offer.

What: Fundraiser for Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch

Details: Proceeds from the sale of a 2.57-carat diamond ring will benefit Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, the nonprofit, no-kill animal sanctuary. Written offers will be accepted through midnight Dec. 31. The ring will be sold to the highest offer. Offers also will be accepted at the Kinky Friedman and Friends New Year’s event at The Hunt Store
Info: For more information, stop by Fitch Estate Sales at 838 Sidney Baker St., or call 257-8482


Then Donna wrote this fabulous article, in the paper today about spending New Year's Eve with Kinky & Friends, at The Hunt Store!

Kinky Friedman Headlines New Year's Eve Event

Event at The Hunt Store features Chet O’Keefe, LittleJewford, Sean Rima and Gordon ‘Big G’ Ames

By Donna Gable Hatch

Features Editor

HUNT — The inimitable Kinky Friedman headlines a cavalcade of music, humor, poetry and more at a New Year’s Eve extravaganza at The Hunt Store, 1634 Texas 39.
Joining Friedman on stage are singer-songwriter Chet O’Keefe, Texas outlaw poet Sean Rima and Friedman’s longtime friend Jeff Shelby, aka Little Jewford, an accomplished concert pianist and comedian who has been described as “a Liberace and Victor Borge cocktail, with a twist of the Marx Brothers”
Radio host Gordon “Big G” Ames of radio station KERV-AM 1230 — who is nominated for a 2015 Ameripolitan Music Awards DJ of the Year award — serves as the evening’s host.
“It’s my job to keep these idiots in line,” Ames joked.
The dinner concert, which is from 6 to 9:30 p.m., includes a buffet created especially for the event by The Hunt Store’s Chef Blas Gonzales, formerly of the Antler Grill. 
The menu includes hors d’oeuvres, such as chicken-fried axis tenders and chicken empanadas, wild game, beef, fish and poultry served with starches, vegetables and desserts.
The dinner show will be followed by a late show on the patio featuring entertainment by Josh Murley and Someone Like You — which includes drummer-keyboardist Patrick McCorkindale and bassist Mark Auld — from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on the patio and includes a champagne toast and midnight brunch by Chef Blas.
“The format for the night is to offer an early dinner show for those that want a nice dinner and entertainment, but may want to be home early and a Late show for those that want to party through midnight and ring in new year with a bang,” said John Dunn, owner of The Hunt Store.
Tickets to the dinner show plus late show are $100 per person. Tickets to the late show-only are $35 per person, Dunn said.

A night of stars
Friedman, who has been called “the Frank Zappa of country music,” is renowned for his satirical country songs. His latest CD, titled “Bi-Polar Tour Live From Woodstock,” kicked off his Bi-Polar World Tour, with dates throughout Scandinavia, England, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium/Holland, Austria and Switzerland.
“I’ll singing, schmoosing and will sign anything except bad legislation,” said Friedman, a best-selling author, humorist, cigar and tequila mogul, sometime politico and animal rescuer. “We’ll have all kinds of things to sign: CDs, books, you name it, including the 997th reprint of ‘Heroes of a Texas Childhood’ with an new cover illustrated by the artist Copper Love — a Hill Country sky with a comet, which is just lovely. 
“Little Jewford — who’s a Jew and owns a Ford — will do his piano stylings of Scott Joplin’s ‘Maple Leaf Rag,’ and he does it as good as anybody since Scott Joplin, another Texan, and that’s been a while,” Friedman said. “The entertainment will be at least as good as the food, and that will be fantastic.”
Originally from the Northwest, O’Keefe — who won the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Song of the Year Award in 2010 — will combine a bit of storytelling with a mix of his brand of acoustic folk, western and jazzy-bluesy music.
O’Keefe spent nine years in Nashville, followed by a short stint in Dallas, and lived for three years in Northern Washington. He has performed with the legendary Bo Diddley, has opened for Nancy Griffith on her tour in Ireland and has toured several times with Friedman.
“Kinky and I have performed together in the past — I’d do my opening set, and he’d do his performance — and it’s always been a lot of fun,” O’Keefe said. “I’ll do some of my old stuff and some new songs — all songs that fit the occasion and are celebratory in nature. I’ve performed once with Little Jewford, and he’s seriously funny. He’s a brilliant pianist, and he tells jokes and does song parodies that are just hysterical. I’ve never performed with Sean, but we hang out a lot, and I know his work, which is not to be missed.”
Rima, a cosmic philosopher and San Antonio-based talk show host, said he’s written a special poem for the evening.
“I’m keeping my theme to the holidays and New Year’s. I try to go funny first and philosophy second,” said Rima, whose “Wild West Show: Selected Poems” is a funny, gritty collection of poems spanning the years 2001-14. “Usually, there’s a few laughs with my poems, but I’m editing the set, so it’s more of a PG-rating of my work. I’m really looking forward to the event.”
Rima said he and Friedman met and became friends through their shared love of writing — and the provocative and politically incorrect satirist has become fodder for Rima’s poems. 
“He’s such an interesting dude. I’ve written a whole series of poems about what it’s like hanging out with him, and I’ll probably read a few of those,” Rima said. 
“Kinky’s idea for the New Year’s eve concert is just a flowing evening of entertainment, and that’s what it will be — just a whole lotta fun and laughs. How can anything be better than that?”

Singer-songwriter Chet O’Keefe, who has toured with humorist and country music singer Kinky Friedman throughout Sweden and Norway, joins him on stage New Year’s Eve at The Hunt Store.

Jeff Shelby, aka Little Jewford, is an accomplished concert pianist and comedian who performs everything from piano rags, classical favorites, all delivered with wit and quips.


                                                Sean Rima                          Big G

What: New Year’s Eve bash at The Hunt Store
When: 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Dec. 31
Where:  The Hunt Store, 1634 Texas 39
Details: There are two New Year’s Eve shows at the venue. The dinner show, which features Kinky Friedman, Chet O’Keefe, Little Jewford and Sean Rima with radio host Gordon “Big G” Ames. The event includes a full dinner featuring wild game, beef, fish and poultry served with starches, vegetables and desserts. A late show, which features entertainment by Josh Murley and Someone Like You, follows from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on the patio and includes a midnight brunch
Tickets: $100 per person for the dinner and late shows, but tickets for the late show only also are available for $35 per person
Info: Visit or call 830-238-4410

And that's about it for today. 

Y'all have a great evening!


Anonymous said...

this is soo awesome! Great news for y'all and your fur babies... Merry Christmas.. And the very best in the New Year ...

cousin nancy said...

Hi Anon! I agree that it is totally awesome and I wish you a merry Christmas and the Best New Year ever! It's all about love.