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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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dear Governor Haslam

It is hard to believe we are living in the 21st Century, when I look at the bills passing through the Tennessee House. Every week I hear about another bill targeting the health and welfare of women. It seems as though the women of this state are not important to those who have been elected to represent us. HB3517 is an absurd and dangerous bill.

I don't want to be partisan. I really don't, but it is an inescapable fact that these bills are coming from Republicans, so I have to say I am bothered that Republican men, who don't seem to have a clue what it is like to be a woman, feel that they have a right to make medical decisions for women and families. Republican legislators don't want to support the children born of unwanted pregnancies, pay for their births, pay for their medical bills, or pay for their upbringing. They don't care if the woman has been raped or if the fetus (or embryo) has an unsurvivable genetic disorder that may kill the mother. They do not seem to care at all about the health or circumstances of living women, only about fetuses and now, embryos. They need to move past the religious rhetoric and romanticized images of happy, healthy babies in happy, loving families, as though that is the result of every pregnancy. The real world is not a place of black or white, right or wrong; it is gray and nobody gets through it without making tough choices.

Governor, you represent all of us, Republicans and Democrats alike, and women and sensible men from both parties are both watching and hoping that you will show some leadership and good sense here. The legislature must not succeed in harming their living constituents in an iron-fisted attempt to legislate how they want people to behave. 

Image from
It is truly sad that some babies die, that some embryos are not carried to term, that there are health issues that lead some to make the difficult decision to end their pregnancies. It happened to friends of mine just a couple of months ago. They are a loving couple with three beautiful children, but the fourth pregnancy presented a danger to the wife, and the baby had no chance of survival (Trisomy 13). It was an agonizing decision to end the pregnancy, but they made that decision. And they are not bad people. They are good people. But, if this bill is signed in to law, good people like them would be declared criminals, and you could arrest them and put them in prison. What a ridiculous and horrible consequence that would be. It is the women and the families' right to make these life or death decisions, not legislatures or preachers or priests. It shows a lack of compassion to prejudge the real people who have to make decisions and prosecute them as criminals.

Both Republicans and Democrats are noticing that Republican led legislatures are wasting large amounts of time passing legislation based on moral (AKA religious) creeds, rather than on good sense and a desire to protect everyone's rights that reduce our freedom and right to make reasonable choices about our lives. Every now and then, a Republican steps away from the pack and says something sensible from his or her own conviction, but it doesn't happen often. The uniformity is Stepford Wives freaky, and it's discouraging to those of us old enough to remember when the Republican party stood for real values, and not for whatever ridiculous pseudo-cause their financiers tell them to stand for.

The secret to fewer abortions is easy access to contraception, not moralizing, pontificating and passing ridiculous laws. There have always been abortions. There always will be. Rational people understand that. The difference is whether or not abortions are safe. Abortions are not common, and should not be the concern of nosy neighbors, nor should the failure to carry a fetus to term be a crime. A woman's right to choose should be protected by the legislature and the governor, not attacked by them.

Women should be viewed as valuable and precious members of society, not as weak and untrustworthy. We are strong, and we vote, and women's issues are going to be an important part of the voting decisions we will be making in November.

I'm tired of ridiculous bills becoming laws. I'm tired of my tax dollars being wasted on persecuting innocent Tennesseans, as would happen if this becomes law. You can help stop this one in its tracks. I hope you will.