About Me

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Tennessee, United States
Retired teacher living in East Tennessee, adjusting to life in the land of round door knobs. Photographer for our local animal shelter and foster of many dogs and kitties. Don't ask me how many dogs I have, but my son got me one of those "I'm the crazy dog lady" sweatshirts.

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Thursday, March 02, 2017

Dear Senators...

Today, I sent emails to my Tennessee Senators: Lamar Alexander and Senator Bob Corker about meeting a gun-toting man while walking in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park this past Monday. Perhaps they will never read it - some intern will add a check mark to a column, opposed the "concealed carry reciprocity" bill, rather than for it, but it is always worth the effort, I think, to speak up and attempt to be heard, to at the very least, let our representatives know we are watching and taking notes on how they vote to preserve or change the world we live in.

What will you do to be heard this week?

Dear Senators Alexander and Corker,

My husband, son and I went walking in the Elkmont area of the Smoky Mountains National Park on Monday, February 27. Perhaps you have been there? We were checking out the old vacation homes and cabins before they disappear forever. We were having a very pleasant day, had met and talked to various other visitors and exchanged information about what to check out. We walked down the trail by Millionaire's Row about a mile and were starting back when we saw three people walking toward us, a couple in their 50s or 60s and a stocky, muscular man, perhaps in his 40s, wearing a pistol in a gun belt across his chest. While everyone else we saw met us with a smile, this man glowered at the world and kept his hand near his weapon. 

Explain to me please what reason there was for this man to be walking around carrying this weapon? Who or what did he need protection from? I did not need his protection. The bears did not need it, the daffodils, either. While those of us walking around sans weapons met the world with wonder and a smile, this man walked under a dark cloud and seemed to be keeping an eye out for danger, rather than beauty. 

I am 66 years old and have spent my life feeling pretty safe. But, now I find myself seeing people carrying guns in fast food places, in the mall, and now in the forest. Whenever I see them, I walk as far away as I can get from them. I don't feel as safe as I used to. I don't understand why their right to bear arms means their right to carry them in an intimidating manner where others congregate. I am concerned about the trend to loosen gun laws, and particularly about a new bill I've recently learned about, “concealed carry reciprocity,” that would overrule state laws and force them to allow people to be able to carry weapons in public. 

Seriously, Senator, I am way more concerned about gun violence in our schools and neighborhoods, and parks than I am about foreign terrorists or undocumented immigrants. We seem to be making it easier for home-grown terrorists to arm themselves. I do not understand the hold the NRA has over so many politicians, but I am asking you to stand up and make your vote NO be counted. It will be remembered by mothers and nature-lovers like me.


Wednesday, August 06, 2014


Don't let the pictures of natural beauty mislead you. This post is about trash and trashy people.

A few weeks ago in mid July, we drove out to see Bald River Falls in the Cherokee National Forest near Tellico Plains, Tennessee. We had heard that the falls are beautiful and easy to get to, no hiking involved, with a bridge that one could walk out on to get a good view of the falls. All true. The route to the falls runs along narrow River Road which runs along the Bald River. It was a beautiful day and cooler by about 5° in the river canyon than in the world outside, making for a very pleasant drive.

The falls are beautiful and because they are not in Smoky Mountains National Park, they do not attract the large crowds that sometimes create bumper-to-bumper traffic in the park. 

We were not alone at the falls, but it was easy to get shots that made it look like we were.

Driving back toward town, we stopped at one of two pullovers to dip our feet in the cool water and admire the rocky stream bed.

On the way back to the car, I picked up several pieces of trash, because my momma taught me to always leave a place cleaner than I found it. The closest fast food joint is nearly 40 miles away and yet here were the remains of someone's meal.

Which leads me to this request:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gone to the dogs

Checked in on my blogs today. I didn't mean to let a couple of years go by. What happened to the me that used to check on my blogs almost daily? Twitter, Facebook and dogs.

My life experienced a paradigm shift when I retired, as I moved back to the States after 30+ years living overseas to a state and city where I knew two whole people other than my husband and son. I was no longer going in to teach daily, with the intellectual jolt and interaction with students and colleagues. I experienced culture shock. Eek. As great as it was not having to go to work each day, I also lost my reason for getting up and getting moving. I had health issues that needed to be addressed. I could have written posts about my difficult assimilation and my gall bladder issues, but I decided to spare you my misery. Are you bored with this paragraph of my life? I am. Bleach.

Moving on. I continued tweeting on Twitter. Compared to blogging, which takes hours, tweeting 140 characters is easy and fast. Feedback is quick, and plucking out interesting news, links and points of view out of the Twitter feed kept my attention much better than looking at a blank writing field and trying to fill it. But, too much Twitter made me twitch, so I even stopped doing that. Facebook kept me in touch with friends I had left behind, and it still does.

But, what mostly happened to me is that my life went to the dogs: young dogs, old dogs, puppies, shy dogs, happy-go-lucky dogs, well-behaved dogs, dogs who needed basic training.

Bogart on our deck, trying to hide under a chair.
It all started with a blurry photo posted by a new acquaintance on Facebook of a depressed young dog named Bogart curled up in the fetal position at the Blount County Animal Center where volunteers' efforts had not managed to get him to adjust to life at the shelter. He was about 7 months old and had spent his life living in the wild with his mother and brother. He wasn't eating and was skin and bones under his long hair. He was unadoptable and the outcome for him was not promising. I looked at that photo and thought, I think I can help him.

And that is a tale in itself, how I went to the shelter and registered as a foster, how Bogart would not walk on a leash and pooped and peed in fear when my son picked him up to carry him to our car, how he almost immediately escaped our fenced yard, how we tempted him back (salmon snacks), how each day for a month we focused on finding ways to help him make the small, gradual progress that eventually lead to him trusting us and us adopting him and renaming him Mr. Guster (AKA Gus, AKA Guster Longfellow).

George and Guinness, therapy pups.
Part of our therapy included bringing home a couple of bull mastiff puppies (George and Guinness) who found Guster fascinating. If he ran away, they ran after him. If he hunkered down, they climbed on top of him or hunkered down next to him. They helped him make a big leap forward into learning how to be a dog who loves humans.

After they left to be adopted through a rescue in Pennsylvania, other dogs and puppies came and went. In one year we fostered 34 dogs and puppies. Some stayed a few days, others a few months, depending on the need. Two sick little puppies did not survive. It has been an adventure that has introduced us into the world of animal shelters, rescues and dedicated volunteers who try to save as many lives as they can.

Guster, formerly Bogart, playing tug of war with shy Maxwell as Jadzia watches. Guster has moved from being the dog who needs help adjusting to the dog who helps other dogs adjust.
My screen saver shows me images of the much-loved doggy souls who have passed through our door, pooped in our yard or (in the case of puppies) on newspapers in our kitchen floor, curled up next to us on our couch and given us lots and lots of doggy kisses.

They told me when I retired, I would find something to do. It's more a case of they found me.
From left, son's dog Jadzia, rescued from an abusive airman who planned to dump her on a country road because he had orders for England and his attempts to house train her by beating her were not getting him the results he wanted; former foster dog Maxwell, another abuse victim who came to us a very shy dog, foster failure Guster who spent early life struggling to survive in the wild and has progressed from being depressed and afraid of all humans to my new BFF, Gidget, the only one in this image we acquired from a breeder, who acts as a therapy dog for many of our fosters, and current foster dog Precious who came to us looking like a plucked chicken suffering the effects of extreme neglect. She has her own Facebook page: Saving Precious