Stop Day America – NOW

I’m no economist – far from it. Who can possibly grasp the concept of “trillion”? All we know is that we don’t run our household or business budgets in a deficit. We know what we can afford and what we can’t. We know what we want and we’ll save for it if we have to. Americans are better money managers than anyone on “the Hill”. You don’t have to understand the intricacies of this country’s dilemma to know that we’re going to hell in a hand basket.

What’s it going to take folks? How many jobs does America have to lose? How many businesses have to go up in flames? How many families have to be put out on the streets? How many bankruptcies and foreclosures must America endure? How high does the unemployment rate have to go? How much more stress, how many more sleepless nights must we bear?

WHAT’S IT GOING TO TAKE before Washington wakes up?

It’s not about you, Washington. It’s not about your partisan differences. It’s not about who’s going to win. It’s about the fact that we, the citizens of the U.S., ARE LOSING!

While you posture, threaten, and ignore, WE are reaching the boiling point. And I’m not talking about the heat wave. This is not good theater, Washington.

What if Americans didn’t buy anything for ONE DAY? No gas, no food, no internet purchases, no entertainment? No money in parking meters. No tolls paid on U.S. highways. Could we do it? Could Americans come together for a STOP DAY? Would that be a wake up call?

I don’t know. Maybe it would just make us feel better, as if we were empowered just a bit. As if we weren’t at the mercy of people who don’t seem to live a “real” life in our real world. People who don’t seem to be affected one bit by the price of gas, or prescription drugs, or a head of lettuce.

If you’re with me on this, let’s STRIKE – just for one day. Just to see what happens.

What are they going to do? Fire us?

Posted in September 2010 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Google Goes to the Dogs

Hope 2011 is treating everyone well. Spring has arrived in all its rainy, gloomy glory but every day brings us one day closer to wonderful sunshine and starry nights.

Let’s talk about Google. Specifically Google’s new Android app – Dog Wars.

If you’ve read any of my posts, you know how much I love and appreciate animals. Animal abuse is beyond my comprehension and makes my blood boil. Would that I was able to treat those owners exactly as they make their animals live. I guarantee you there would be fewer abused animals in shelters everywhere.

So now we have the Dog Wars app from Google. What in the hell are they thinking? Isn’t there enough animal cruelty in real life? Cats thrown in washing machines, shot with arrows and spun like tops until they die. Dogs suffer in puppy mills and are mutilated by the dog fighting “sport.” Who does Google think will be “playing” this game? Isn’t there enough horror in the world already? I simply can not believe it.

When I went online to find out a way to contact Google, I ran across their corporate philosophy. It contains “Ten Things.” Number 6 of the “Ten Things” is: “You can make money without doing evil.” Hmmm.  The fact that they actually spent time and money developing a game that promotes violence and destruction using ANIMALS is plenty evil to me.

What a perfect example they are setting for kids. One of the largest, most respected (once upon a time) companies in America creates a “game” where animals kill each other while their owners evade the law.

Google, be true to thine self. Stop it.

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Tribute to ALL Dogs

I received this photo in my daily emails from ihasahotdog.com. Usually the pictures are captioned and LOL funny (that’s why I subscribed, so I could start my work days off with a chuckle, plus see loads of sweet dogs and cats), but this one really touched my heart and lead me to research the man credited with it. I wish I’d known him. Here’s what I found.

George Graham Vest (1830-1904) served as U.S. Senator from Missouri from 1879 to 1903 and became one of the leading orators and debaters of his time. Earlier, in his work as an attorney, he gave this speech while representing a man who sued another for the killing of his dog. During the trial, Vest ignored the testimony, and when his turn came to present a summation to the jury, he made the following speech and won the case.

Gentlemen of the Jury: The best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us, may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads.

The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog. A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer. He will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

If fortune drives the master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death. George Graham Vest – c. 1855

Celebrate the good. C

Posted in January 2011 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Enter 2011

Well, here we are in the New Year and the dead of winter. Surprisingly, the weather gods have been very benevolent to our little corner of the world – so far. My heart goes out to those beleaguered by snow, deluged with rain, and devastated by tornadoes. Mother Nature is definitely a champion multi-tasker.

Let’s talk “New Year’s Resolutions.”

Why do people think that the start of a new year is the only time to make out a list of good to-dos? What’s wrong with doing that any day? June 5 or February 12 or October 23? After all, a resolution is simply a promise to yourself, and those promises can be made any day of the year.

How does it work if you don’t achieve one or more of your “New Year’s Resolutions?” Do you continue that/those resolution(s) for an additional year? Or do you start over with something new when the next new year rolls around? If so, what’s the point in the first place?

Here are the Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions (according to somebody):

#1 – Spend more time with family and friends. (Quantify “more.” Ten minutes is “more.”)
#2 – Exercise more. (There’s that word again.)
#3 – Lose weight. (One pound or 20?)
#4 – Quit smoking. (Had to wait for the New Year to make that commitment, eh?)
#5 – Enjoy life more. (Hmmmm . . .)
#6 – Quit drinking. (See #4)
#7 – Get out of debt. (See #4)
#8 – Learn something new. (That should be easy!)
#9 – Help others. (Laudable, but shouldn’t we try to do that every day?)
#10 – Get organized. (I can see why people waited for the New Year to commit to that one. Getting organized and procrastination often go hand-in-hand.)

Catch my drift? All ten resolutions are promises, commitments we could make to ourselves any day of the year. When you “resolve” to do something, you are fairly certain to work hard at its accomplishment. So if you want to improve, why wait for the big New Year’s Resolution Production Number?

I kind of feel as though I failed in my commitment to this blog. I promised to write 365 days of celebration; to find something to celebrate every day of the year. Well, I’m laggin’. Must admit I was on a roll there at the beginning. Then I ran out of steam. And time. I can rationalize by saying I WILL write 365 days – just not consecutively, but that’s not really fair is it? I know if I had any faithful readers to start with, they’ve fallen by the wayside after seeing one static post for weeks (months? gulp) at a time.

I apologize. But I did not make a New Year’s Resolution to be a better blogger! Here’s what I will resolve. That I will not abandon this blog. That I will remain true to its intent. And that I will find something to celebrate every day, even if it doesn’t make its way to a post.

And, yes. Since my last post, I have witnessed some wondrous winter scenes. Ponds frozen smooth as mirrors. It amazes me to imagine that when those little bodies of water froze solid, there was no wind, not even a breeze to ruffle the surface. Sunrises and sunsets so strikingly beautiful that I wanted to watch until they gave way to the night. The colors were so vibrant, rich, majestic. The cloud formations reminded me of those amazing photographs from the Hubbell telescope – otherworldly exotic.

But the most breathtaking was a frosty morning when I swear starlight was reflected in the ice crystals on the grass. It was like a fairy world. Look up – see winter white sparkling stars. Look down – see winter white sparkling everywhere. I was awestruck.

What if we all resolved, today, to find something – one thing – everyday to celebrate and turn all our days into joys to be lived? Now THAT’S a resolution! C

Posted in January 2011 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Puppy for Christmas

I wrote this story the day before Christmas in 2008. It had been roving around in my head for so long, that when I finally sat down to put it “on paper”, it just flowed. I hope you enjoy it and that you will share it with those you care about.

Jack heaved a sigh as he high-stepped off the tracks and plunged through the snow drifts. It wasn’t a sigh of relief or of regret. It was a just a sigh of resignation. His home town wouldn’t be the same, he knew that. And it sure wouldn’t offer the same kind of exhilaration he experienced on his travels with Old Ed. But Ed was gone now. The boys under the bridge had given him a proper send-off, and then Jack was on his own.

Those were the days. Traveling by track, by train. Always somebody new to meet. Always food to be found and warmth to sleep by. Old Ed sure was good to me, Jack thought. Old Ed shared everything with Jack and never complained. They had some great times. Some great laughs and a few tears. But that was then. Now, Jack was home again.

The city park looked the same with the exception of a new bandstand and some fancy ironwork fencing. The whole place was covered with snow. Unadulterated at this early hour, Jack thought it was pretty nice. So he just stood and took it in. Sniffed the air. Quiet. Okay. Let’s check out downtown, Jack thought. He shook himself a couple of times and headed toward the business district.

Clementine’s Bakery had been a staple in Jack’s life before Old Ed. Augustus Clementine offered the freshest, the most delectable baked goods in the entire county. He never sold anything that hadn’t been baked just that day, which meant the dumpster behind the bakery was always a great place to catch a quick breakfast roll or an afternoon croissant snack. Auggie liked Jack, so Jack was often treated to a freshly baked bagel if he showed up at the right time of a morning.

Ah. Here’s something new, Jack observed, as he breathed deep the heady aroma of cinnamon chocolate. By following his nose, he beheld a stout but small brick building. Whatever kind of place it was, it was doing a brisk business already. From his vantage point across the street, Jack watched as people trudged through the snow and up the front steps. They all smelled very happy. Jack remembered that smell coming from Old Ed whenever he came across an especially valuable find like a heavy wool blanket or an apple tree loaded with fruit.

Time for a bite! Jack decided when his stomach let out a rather large and loud rumble. As he rounded the corner of the alley to see what delicious morsel he might scrounge from Auggie’s garbage, Jack heard shouts and was momentarily caught off guard as a small boy entered the other end of the alleyway.

“Bowser! Here, Bowser Boy!” the boy yelled. “Come here, boy! Look, I brought your favorite toy for you! Bowser, pleaaase Bowser! Please come home!” Tears choked the little boy’s voice as he gave in to a very heavy sorrow. Jack knew that smell too, the smell of sorrow. From his hiding place behind the dumpster, Jack watched a man and a woman run up to the little boy. They wrapped the little boy in their arms. “Clancy, honey. Bowser will be ok. You know he hasn’t been feeling himself lately. He’ll be alright. Come on, Clanc. Let’s go get a hot chocolate! Wouldn’t that be nice?” the lady suggested hopefully. The little boy just shrugged and allowed himself to be led off down the alley. As they walked away holding hands, Jack heard the man say: “Hey, Clancy. Why don’t we go to the pet store after and look at the new Christmas puppies? You might see one that you would like to take home with you. How would that be?”

Jack’s jaw dropped open. Then he clenched it shut. A fierce look came over his face.

A Christmas puppy? No! No, no, no! Jack had heard too many stories about the cute little puppies found under countless Christmas trees by starry-eyed boys and girls. And he had met some of those puppies when they had grown old and tired after escaping a life of nothingness at the end of a chain. Their stories were not for the faint of heart. And those Christmas puppies grew up to be jaded, angry mongrels with no family, no love, and no home. It was a fate worse than death, although that also came to too many Christmas pups. And Jack would not stand for it. Could not.

A moth-eaten tennis ball lay across the alley where the little boy had dropped it after his feeble attempt to bring his beloved pet home. Jack dashed out from his hiding place, grabbed the ball, and ran pell-mell back to the park.

Once there, he rolled in the snow for as long as he could stand the cold. He could smell himself, and it wasn’t pretty. The roll helped the smell and soothed his itchy skin a bit. So he shook himself off as best he could from nose to tail, picked up the bedraggled ball again and headed back downtown. As he passed the bank, he noticed his reflection in the big glass double doors. Hmmm. A little rough around the edges, and damp. Need some fluffing, he thought. As he stood before the doors (the bank was closed at this hour), he studied his face. It was a good face: strong, noble. His eyes were bright and full of what he hoped was wisdom. He tried a smile. Nope, that was too scary. Fewer teeth. There, that’s about right, he thought, as he gave his reflection a small grin with a bit of tongue hanging out. Perfect! They’ll love me! Now to the drying and fluffing bit. Jack navigated his way through town to the laundromat. Suds ‘N Stuff was the perfect place to get warm and dry, so he staked out a spot right in front of one of the dryer exhaust vents. Ahhhh! Heaven! He twisted this way and that so that each hair could get full benefit of the warm steam. A good shake or two and Jack figured he was ready as he would ever be.

Following his nose, he made his way (rather regally) back to the brick building that smelled of cinnamon. Yes! There they were, the man, lady, and little boy just coming down the steps. The little boy was holding the man’s hand and the man and the lady were laughing. “Let’s run home and get the car so we can get over to the pet store and see those puppies!” the man said. The threesome started down the street, and Jack started off after them, keeping a good distance and staying invisible, but always with them in sight.

After six blocks, the man and lady and the little boy turned up a short sidewalk and climbed some steps to a covered porch. A glittering wreath hung on the door. The man took a key from his coat pocket, and opened the door, ushering the lady and little boy inside. The door closed behind them with a solid thud.

Jack froze. This was a pretty big step he was about to take. What if they didn’t like him? What if the little boy took one look at him and started crying? What if the man called the police? Well, I’ll just run, Jack thought. He was a pretty good runner, fast and sure. Old Ed had taught him well, what to avoid and what to appreciate. Okay — now or never.

Jack slowly advanced up the sidewalk, holding the tennis ball firmly in his jaws. Up the steps. In front of the door. Jack stopped. He sat down. He laid the tennis ball down carefully between his paws and then he lifted his right and softly patted the door. Once. Twice. He waited. Nothing from inside. Okay, again. This time he used a couple of well-worn nails to add a tap to the pat. Tap scritch pat. Tap scritch pat. Tap tap. Scritch. Scritch. He stopped. Listened. Footsteps! If he could sweat, Jack knew he would be sweating buckets now. As it was, he sat tall and put on his best grin. The door opened and it was the little boy staring at Jack.

“Clancy? Who’s at the door, honey?” Jack heard the lady call. “Clancy?”

“Um. Nobody, Mom. It’s just an old dog.”

“Well shut the door for goodness sake! You’re letting in all the cold air!”

“But, Mom. He looks cold too!”

Jack maintained his composure. He remained seated with the tennis ball between his paws. He wasn’t grinning now. He was giving the little boy his best soulful look with his bright, wise eyes.

The lady suddenly appeared behind the little boy. “Look, Clancy,” she said. “Isn’t that Bowser’s ball?” As she pointed to the worn tennis ball, the little boy stooped to pick it up, cautiously eying Jack all the while. “It is, Mom! It is Bowser’s old ball. Where did you find this, boy?” the little boy asked Jack. Jack gave him his best head cock and pricked ears as if to say, Who cares? I’m here now, and you don’t need a Christmas puppy.

“Mom, can’t he come in? He looks really cold and hungry. Maybe we can play ball in my bedroom?” Jack rose to his feet with hope in his eyes. He gave his tail a conservative wag. The lady was obviously melting under his gaze. “Sure, honey. He doesn’t look mean. Goodness, I hope he doesn’t have fleas! I guess it will be okay. But just for a little while because your dad wants to get to the pet store before it closes, okay?” At that, Jack gave up all his reservations and trotted into the house as if he owned it.

After a hearty dinner of kibbles and a bit of cheese for dessert, Jack and Clancy settled down to a rousing round of ball bounce and fetch in Clancy’s bedroom. Meanwhile, the man and the lady were downstairs having a heart-to-heart talk.

“Joyce, I really think he needs to have a dog in his life. I’m truly sorry that we had to put Bowser down, you know that. But you also know what the vet said. Bowser wouldn’t have lasted until Christmas, and that’s a memory none of us would want to live with.”

“But David, we promised ourselves that there would never be another after Bowser. It’s just too much responsibility. And now that Clanc is getting older, I don’t think a puppy is a very good idea. Clancy will have way too many other things to do than take care of a puppy that needs constant attention.”

“Well. Let’s think about it — wanna run upstairs and see what’s going on with the visiting dog?”

As they quietly climbed the stairs to Clancy’s room, they heard: “I’m going to call you Kris. That’s short for Kris Kringle, which will be your real name, ’cause you found me at Christmas just like Santa finds kids all over the world. Kris Kringle Kelly. How’s that sound, boy?”

Jack pricked up his ears, gave Clancy his no-teeth smile, and planted a sloppy lick right on Clancy’s nose. And when Clancy gave him a bear hug around his neck, Jack didn’t even move. He just closed his eyes and sighed. A big dog sigh of pure happiness and thanksgiving. Merry Christmas, Old Ed, Jack thought.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night! C

Posted in September 2010 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 41: Hidden Treasure

I hereby proclaim today, November 12, NATIONAL JUNK DRAWER DAY! (Hey, why not? Sunday, November 14 is Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day, sooooo . . .)

Photo MomsBudget

You have one, don’t you? A junk drawer? Usually it’s a kitchen drawer so full of “stuff” you can barely open it without something trying to escape. I fill my junk drawer with things I think I might need/want someday so I will know exactly where to find them. “Junk drawer” is really a misnomer. I don’t keep junk, I keep “stuff.”

Haven’t taken junk drawer inventory in a while, so I’m going by a memory snapshot of the last time I opened it. Here’s a by no means complete listing:

Rubber bands. Never know when you’ll need one, but you’ll know there’s one in the junk drawer.

Twist ties. How many do YOU have in YOUR junk drawer? Those don’t come in as handy as I think when I toss them in, but twist ties still live there and are a growing community!

Stray nails, pins, screws, etc. I don’t want to take the time to find out EXACTLY where they should go or IF I need to keep them so — in they go.

“Things of interest” (probably only to moi) that I pick up on our walks: a blue marble, a golf ball, more than likely a cool rock or two, etc. What I plan on doing with them if they are ever removed from their confines, I don’t know.

Band-Aids. Gotta have those in the kitchen, right? I have 3 partial boxes. For some reason it seems they just don’t make Band-Aids like they used to. Plus, like everything else, there are approximately 100 DIFFERENT KINDS of Band-Aids facing you on the store shelf. Well, that might be a tad overstated, but it sure seems like it.

Writing utensils like pens running out of ink and either nibs of pencils or pencils with broken leads or pencils with no erasers. Why do I keep those? All I would have to do is separate them from the rest of the junk and throw them away. But something in the back of my mind tells me I might, someday, need a lead pencil . . . or desperately need to scratch out a note with disappearing ink.

Small baggie filled with shelf brackets, the small clear plastic ones.

Scotch tape usually resides in the junk drawer. But for some reason, tape is really hard to keep track of. I guess each time I use it I think it should be in a better, more “rational” safe-keeping place . . .

Health & Beauty items: While rooting through my junk drawer the other day, I discovered the Burt’s Bees Cuticle Balm I purchased last winter in a desperate attempt to save my nails. Forgot I even had it. Good timing though. That’s what’s kind of fun about junk drawers. They contain little gems we’ve totally forgotten about. Finding them is like unearthing hidden treasure. Makes me smile.

Corks. Oh, yes. The ubiquitous wine bottle cork(s). Why do we keep those anyway? (I assume everyone who enjoys a glass of wine does.) I mean, really. Do I expect to retrieve a cork from the junk drawer some day and think, “I remember this wine!” (?) Remember the bulletin boards people made out of corks? I never made one, but I thought they were pretty neat. Now they don’t even make corks out of cork.

Bits of string, a couple of paper clips, and probably a receipt or two and an expired coupon or three.

Batteries, an assortment, not packaged.

A plastic Easter egg. Don’t know if it was hidden there, or if I finally found it and decided to keep it for next year . . .

Scissors are assigned to the junk drawer; however, they often follow the tape to parts unknown. . .

Calculator. I think it actually works.

So, today, National Junk Drawer Day, you can start a junk drawer, organize your junk drawer, clean out your junk drawer, OR simply empty the contents of your junk drawer into the garbage without a second thought. You may want to rescue the more important items prior. You probably won’t miss the rest.

Does having a junk drawer mean we’re lazy? Or does having a junk drawer mean we are being conscientious by saving the things we may not have an immediate need for so we won’t need to buy them when we do? I prefer the latter explanation. :) Celebrate the workings of the mind! C

Posted in November 2010 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 40: Veterans Day

 

Today we celebrate your service, your victories, and your sacrifices.

Thank you. Happy Veterans Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in September 2010 | Leave a comment