Saturday, June 30, 2012

Stumbling Onto Human Caring While Shopping

As I was walking into the grocery store today, I saw several people bunched around a man sitting cross-legged on the pavement with a really cute large puppy and a water conainer. He was petting it. A couple of store manager people and a couple of staff came up.

I figured, correctly, the dog had been found in a hot car with all windows up. It was only 93 today, instead of 103, but too hot for any living being inside a car with windows up for more than a very few minutes.

When I left, about 20 minutes later, I asked what the situation was, and didn't ask for details. I asked if the owner had shown up. Oh, yes, I was told, and they were waiting for the police. A police car pulled in as I left.

This puppy was seriously cute. I hope the owner retrieves, with wiser, more caring attitude, or the dog is adopted. Our shelter, as most, is over-crowded, but they are working really hard to get the animals adopted.

How many of you have opened a Facebook page without seeing shelter pets up for adoption? Not many, I bet. They are rampant on mine.

For awhile, I was posting them too, when the local shelter was campaigning for points in the Rachel Ray contest. I finally cancelled, and feel better personally. I felt responsible for very dog or cat on MY website. I can tsk-tsk about animals on my site through the auspices of others.

I shake my head.

WHY is it harder to see animals who have been abused and neglected than children? That used to be my job.

I was trained to see and help the children. I knew my society wasn't going to euthanize any of them because we didn't have enough room.

That's a copout. The key is, I was taught, trained, and investigated on a daily basis the way many people treat children. I was not always alert enough, and children paid when I missed it. (In a previous job, I was once castigated for not realizing the shade of green was one shade off the designated shade in a printing. Oh, the horror! And at the time, it was.)

I don't want any children, animals--wild or domestic--to hurt because of human greed, indifference or neglect. It happens. It happens.

Those folks in front of the grocery store cared. They were willing to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday morning to see that a puppy they had never seen before got care.

And THAT'S what I like about humans. Sometimes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tell Me What Time It Is.

Back in the 1980s, when I was working as a science writer for the University of North Texas, I did a feature on a couple of professors, one in the regular computer department and one in business.

They were concened even then with the poor security of most computer systems and the information that could inadvertently be leaked without a person's knowledge, and it was minuscule then compared to now.

They were working on better firewalls for company and individual systems. They were getting a lot of project work from the few who were listening, but overall, they were ignored.

I remember one of them saying that persons who would not dream of taking a man's wallet and sorting through it will get on the computer without a qualm to find the information and more.

That resonated with me.

I have spent my life in professions where I got into other people's business. My personal inclination is to be very private. The poor have never had much; the less you have, the closer you are to other people. You hear each other, see each other, see the imperfections way up close.

The rich have a great deal of privacy.

Today, however, even the personal affairs of the wealthy can be hacked into and strewn about, used to manipulate and control.

I know I constantly have to fight encroachments by Yahoo and Google to make me use products I don't want. I know the companies can trace every web page I visit, and that makes me stop short once in a while. And they did ask me if I wanted the service of recorded web page visits so I can check in with it to find such and such a site. Might be useful for research. By me, not an unseen corporation trying to fine-tune the customer base.

I have to give my email address and my phone number to use services or to buy things on the internet.

I honestly don't like the information out there for any casual scam artist, or aggressive commercial enterprise, to target me.It is, however, so.

Part of my distaste is my age. Part of my age, though, is that I remember a time in my life when everyone had that privacy. John D. MacDonald once commented in his Travis McGee series that newcomers to Florida just loved it, but they had no memory or knowledge of how it had been before.

Young people laugh and don't worry about what they say, the information they post, and they will regret some of it. But they never knew a world of privacy so maybe they won't even know to miss it.

I'm not ready to move into a cave in Montana. I wouldn't like the snow, and I like family and friends too much.

There are wonderful things on the internet, but I've also run into some hungry wolves and a few snakes.

In my ineptness, I fall back on one defense. I put as little pertinent information out there as I can. Oh, I'll give you my opinion on anything.
I try to be as vague as possible on my personal stuff.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I am a very little fish.

I was getting an unauthorized product removed off my computer yesterday and snarled that I felt they were blackmailing me or acting like goons. The tech, with a laugh in his voice, said, "Oh, no ma'am. The times are just changing."


Friday, June 22, 2012

Mostly, I think we rear loving children

I've been trying to figure it out for awhile.

I do think manners and acting well are a good part of civilization. I do believe respect and civility avoid a lot of conflict.

I do believe children did better in two-parent homes because their lives were less complicated. I do believe there were folks who should have been divorced back then for valid reasons, but also, back then, a ton of people worked it through and got to some place of peace because of peer pressure.

Good old peer pressure. Some pluses, some minuses, and all still present and accounted for.

I do believe if you are a human, you deserve respect and civility for that fact, no matter what you have done. NO MATTER WHAT. And I followed that, and I was tested, and I still follow that. Doesn't mean you should be cut slack for your background or your meanness, or your upbringing. No, sad as it is, you pay for what you do.

So do I.

I had a great upbringing. Two loving parents, enough food, clean sheets, hugs every day. If you didn't have that, tough. It's no excuse.

Except... unless you never had it as a baby or a toddler. If you never knew your early years if crying woud bring the bottle you needed or the diaper that was burning your butt changed, Or abuse, or being locked in the bed in the dark or given a bottle where the formula is turning to curds and you are still trying to suck it because you are so hungry. Where there were no hugs, no comfort.

If that was your first two or three years, I give you a pass. I can't forgive you for what you are going to do later--you aren't allowed to hurt others just because you were--but I do understand. Even if someone has to kill you.

If we don't get hugs and attachment early enough, only a few talented therapists can attach a few lucky children and restore their humanity.

I remember a child I worked with who was adopted. His daddy had taken care of him, fed, hugged, and rocked him to sleep, washed, and clothed him, till he was killed in a traffic accident when the boy was 9 months old. The mother was into drugs. In return for drugs, she allowed dealers to move in with her. The child had no toys. He had no sheets. He had few clothes. He ate fast food.

And when he made too much noise as a toddler, an irritated drug dealer once aimed a gun at him and threatened to kill him. But he didn't.

When he came into foster care at 21/2 , he had no idea how to play with toys or other children. He had never seen either. He was dismayed to find out about vegetables. He was actually pretty sweet. But at 21/2, he had absolutely no ability to attach to another person.

None. The wonderful thing was, he had attached to his daddy before he died. Way back there, he had a visceral memory of attaching. Of comfort. Of hugs.

His foster mom was knowledgeable. She quit every activity she had, and she had been a loving volunteer. She spent 24/7 with this boy for six months before he finally attached to her; later, his sisters and dad. He became a real little boy.

And they adopted him, as they had his sisters.

Three kids I know started out with no hope and ended up with a lot of it.

Many more won't. So many more won't.

The kids that have hardships, grow up in a bad neighborhood, eh. Drug parents, yeh, I'll cut slack a little. But I have some mighty fine friends who grew up that way and are making a difference.

The kids who have no kindness, no hugs, no love from birth, who miraculously survive and are feral by the time they are two--we have little we can do. Little that will work. And these babies who have a world view of solitary survival, who know no mercy from birth, really can't show what they don't know. They can't love. They can only follow the rules. Some do fairly well with that.

How many are there?

At the same time, I see a majority who are nurtured, cuddled, loved. They CAN learn their manners, and even care about upsetting us, because they know love.

I see such loving, and I see such failure.

I think of the Cherokee proverb about the two wolves within--one loving, sharing, caring, building up, the other devouring, tearing, destroying.
According to the proverb, the acolyte askes the wiseman, "Who will win?" and the wiseman responds, "The one you feed.'

That is both a warning and a comfort.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Destruction Only the Few Will Know, I guess

I am finding it increasingly difficult to find info on the Gila Mountain/Lincoln County forest fire. I am really not sure why,

A friend in southern New Mexico told me several days ago the fire had already destroyed 224 homes and 56 square miles of forest. It is bigger now. It does not seem to have media attention.

I guess if you can't smell it in a big city it doesn't count.
I wish the news were easier to get, though. Even on Google, very little that I can find.

Much of the beauty of my lifetime in those forests is burning to the ground, and I cannot find out where. Or what.

So much sadness.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Storms, Father's Day Reflections

A little of this, a little of that.

If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, as I do, you tend to expect big weather events to affect all of us at least a little. The area, however, is huge.

Last evening the dogs and I enjoyed a mild, breezy evening on my deck with some cloud cover, but a beautiful night. Meanwhile, sudden storms in parts of Dallas and several suburbs dumped sudden hail almost baseball-sized on cars, buildings--and some outdoor glass scultures on exhibition. In about a half an hour,several hundred millions of dollars of damage was done. Some homes are unlivable. Many cars were totaled.


I had been gloating over the rainfall two days this week, a good soak last week. What a difference from last year! The severe weather is such a different experience.

The spring was mild, planting starting about six weeks early. Folks were leery of what summer would bring. So far, the temperatures aren't that far off. This may turn out simply to be our longest summer ever. Meanwhile, I'm beginning to harvest tomatoes and peppers. Squash and zuchini beginning to come in. I'm pleased. Meanwhile my neighbors nearby have nothing left in their gardens at all.

Sunday is Father's Day. My writers' group assignment this week was to write something related. It was suggested I write a memoir. I never have, and my father was feature worthy. He was a good and loving dad. He made a lot of effort.

I am aware that most of my good qualities reflect my upbringing, and I am grateful. I have a number of friends, however, who either didn't have fathers, had abusive ones, or grew up in extreme neglect. Same for some of their mothers. They have had to invent themselves. They have done a good job.

I am thinking about that. Dad died when I was 19. I can interpret as an adult, but writing, I found, was from a child's view. We never got to that adult relationship, so I had to do some inventing myself. A healthy family makes it so much easier to love the people around you and I have to wonder if the high number of fractured families today has anything to do with lessened empathy, more greed and meanness. It would take studies to prove so.

I remember a study on empathy on post-WWII persons. Researchers wanted to see if they could identify why one person might risk life to help a Jewish person or family while others did nothing or even collaborated. They did identify empathy as the defining quality, and that it had to be taught. They couldn't go any further.

Yes, we humans are interesting critters.

As a grandparent, I am so joyful that my granddaughters have loving, caring parents. It adds such a level of well-being to know they are well and happy.

That's why I always thank my daughter in law on Mother's Day and my son on Father's Day. Their loving care makes the world a better place.

It is certainly better in my little corner of it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Losing a Teacher, a Mentor, a Friend

OK Floy. This is my second try. We never were sentimental. I did love you though. And considering how you made me a part of your life, you loved me.

I called to check on you. I got your grandson, he said. Oh, Floy, for a woman who didn't marry till her 50s, you did good. You love well. They love back.

I know that. I never expected to keep in touch, but you did. And we did. You were my high school English and journalism teacher. Thanks to you, we became lifelong friends.

Lifelong. Well,hell.

You told me the cancer was back and this time you weren't going to do anything to stop it. You have volunteereed and given for years. You are--what? late 80s? I don't need to know. But I am a lot younger.

You are deaf as a post, almost. I've left a few messages. Hmph. for a dying woman, you certainly gadded about a lot. And I smile at that.

You loved the view of the valley from the foothills. You did so many things besides being my friend. You...the obit will have all of that.It will have your accomplishments. They were many.

But it won't tell people who you loved. And you did love me. Besides Fred, your late husband, and a few many others.You loved a flawed pupil who went on to work for a newspaper, then brought my sons back for your late husband to talk to about stamps and for you to talk to and assess.

You were my teacher. Later my mentor. Later still, my friend.

You gave such a great gift, your friendship.

We became friends. We talked for 50 years. And now you are dying, my old teacher, mentor and friend. I'm glad I know. I hurt, and that is right also.
I'm glad you have loved ones there.

Floydean Wilburn Gage, I love you.
Fly, fly soon with the angels.

I can hear that cranky voice: "I'll go when I want to,Charlotte."

Yes, you will. Ever as my teacher and mentor, I always knew you had a mind of your own. The lovely, wonderful part is, you always knew I did, too.

Less water, more people, more decisions

Rain barrels and personal cisterns are not a big priority in Texas. They should be. But that means change, and you know? We humans resist that a lot.

An article in the paper in the last couple of days reports the amount of water per capita in Texas is very near the 1950s drought amounts despite the recent rains. Texans who don't agree with water restrictions are drilling wells, which reduces the aquifers. The water beneath their ground is theirs, even as it may flow if not diverted to what is yours. In the meantime, population is increasing, and our man-made lakes are about 3/4 full.

Part of it is more population. People! Stay home! Texas got through the recession fairly well, but we aren't building many more reservoirs, we aren't doing much of anything. Sure. We have jobs. And we have tons of college graduates serving fast food if they can get the job. Corporate incentives, however, are bringing in more people. It's good for politics. I'm not sure it is at all good for the individual, or even business.

Last Thursday we had an historic event--a soaking rain on June 6 with high temperature of 68.

We will remember that a month from now, or even today. At 7 am, the temperature was 77. Rain in June is encouraging, however.

A new crop of grasshoppers has arrived, small yet. I understand cayenne in water sprayed on my plants will deter them, so I will try it. Like everyone else, I'm trying organic again.

I only planted peppers, tomatoes and squash, and the tomatoes are ripening. I've gotten some Anaheim peppers already, and one squash. More are growing.
Floswers are just as important. They are doing well. I am using 20% vinegar on weeds and it seems to be working. Lowes carries it here.

I'm also using cider vinegar in warm water to clean and restore my hardwood floors. It seems to work. You know, when I bought the house, I almost had the hardwood refinished. I have mixed feelings.

I would love to have the seamless, glowing, dog and human repellent floors. I do like, however, my scarred, people-have-lived-here floors. I guess it goes with likes. And I will never be on Home and Gardens network.

Which is a long way from my initial paragraph. Yep, I got my DIL rain barrels and will get one or two for myself. Meantime, I have soaker hoses.

I have a decision to make about the encroaching and lovely St. Augustine grass in the backyard. Am I willing to water it? Can I afford it?

I have to decide.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Look at Yourself and Enjoy the Greatness

I remember political cartoons in the 1950s of Russian men, and especially women. They were depicted as large, lumbering human beings, with muscles. And not so smart.

I look around me and see a lot of people I know to be smart lumbering. and they don't have a lot of muscle. I want to yell at them, particularly since I have knee replacements. Not recently, but years before, I lumbered. It led to the need for knee replacements.

And doctors are pleased with me. You know why? because a lot of people who get knee replacements don't get more active. They just sit down and expect the knees to work better when they stand up to get more snacks. I'm trying to do everything I can to get my earlier life back, and am succeeding to a great degree.

You know, a guy or gal who goes into orthopedics, takes you into surgery, bludgeons your knee, installs a metallic substitute, and then tries to help you get therapy,well, they aren't doing it for the pay check.

They do the work and enjoy the pay. But the payoff is when folks like me ride a bicycle again, start a garden, walk the dogs, and maybe start line-dancing. If we do creative work, no matter what, we want the smiles.

I don't know what my doctor will think in December, but I'm loving my life, so humble about what medicine can do, limited on what I can do, know it's more if I am consistent.

Life is so much more than a year ago. Mine is simple. New knees and exercse. Oh, I quit smoking. And I exercise. Doesn't make me bullet-proof by any means, but I'm happier than I've been in years. That's just for today.Tomorrow? will take care of itself if I do. I may never ever lift 50 pounds again. But I can lift 25 with repetition. So I'll do that.And as much more as I can.

I don't care about how many more years I live, but I do care how many I live with activity. Not longevity--activity.

What are you doing to make your life more?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Abysmal dog training while living with my brats

Living with two dogs that shed astronomically in the Southwest is beginning to change my habits. I thought the snowfall drifts on the hardwood were all Gracie till I took Brody to the vet to get stiletto, killer nails trimmed just two months after they last were cut. Mopping and sweeping intervals have picked up.

(Brody, my city dog, isn't too fond of grass and icky dirt. He runs around only a little. I have to shove him off the deck to pee. Gracie lures him into games of chase every so often. Gracie mucks about in the yard and her nails grow more slowly.)

When both sprawl, you really see Brody's half-Corgi factor: both lie on their bellies, legs behind, white feet and ankles making dashes at their ends. Schematic: head:o body:-- feet: |, hyphenated by two feet. So they both lie o--|

And sometime soon, I will learn how to insert photos to illustrate.

Brody remains highly unsocialized with other dogs. The bigger they are, the more scared he is and the more he growls and lunges. I have a good collar on him now to catch him at it. Right now, I doubt if I can ever take him to a dog park. Fortunately, he and Gracie hit it off except for a few jealous skirmishes immediately. They are both "of the home." Both understand that.

On the other hand, with new people he lunges, they both do, for attention. They are horrible for my friends, and it is my fault. I have at least begun training again with Gracie and for the first time with Brody. I do not know what to do except to make both absolutely obedient to sit and stay. So I'm beefing up on that.

I have stopped responding to Gracie when she does her demand yell--a loud, almost window-shaking bark. That's helping slowly.

Gracie loves to work. Brody also likes to keep busy. Lessons help them stay content. They also need about twice the personal attention: talking to, walks, petting, of any other dog I've ever had. Corgis are smart. You don't let them dwindle away to boredom. Other dogs will sleep. Gracie and Brody will, too. Awhile. They also find something else to do. Given that Gracie is one and Brody 2, a great deal of what they find to do is chewing.

Gracie digs holes that look like a posthole-digging madman has run about the yard. If only I could train her to dig where I wish! Oh, Gracie, the beautiful back yard we would have!

I still catch Gracie jumping in my vegetable garden now and then. When I do, I yell. She pauses a second before jumping out. Huh. More alpha work.
And last night, I found a half-eaten large tomato. I hadn't seen it--I have a bunch of ripening ones on my four plants.

Oh, Gracie. Now you've torn it. Shoes, books, paper, clothes, electronics, you have chewed them all. But Gracie, this is tomatoes.

Gracie, you're in real trouble now.