Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday's Wander to the Wayside

These people really put a lot of thought into this little garden. Look how clever that scarecrow is! Don't know how long that pumpkin head will last in our heat and humidity.

The house above is my dream house. It's tucked back behind some trees, has a long winding gravel driveway, is always covered with dappled shade, has a vegetable garden on the side, an herb garden, some kind of berries or grapes, an old rock foundation shed or shop. Always well manicured but still a bit rugged, homey and inviting. Oh, and some chickens running around.

This yellow house is abandoned and almost hidden behind all that shrubbery. Just an old country home that you see on many formerly rural streets around here. What I find so funny about our area is that they don't tear down these old abandoned houses! They just leave them there to become overgrown, and build a new house next to or behind it.

I love this view, which I see when I go to Walmart, because it shows the different colorations of the sky, ridge, trees, and field leading up to the street. If you hit it at the right time of day, the sun will be highlighting the area between the ridge and trees, or on a muggy day there will be a layer of fog.

Yes, another horse. Isn't he a handsome fellow. He always seem to be hanging out at this fence.

Is there anything cuter than goats? We used to live in a house with three acres where I could have had goats, and did want them, or at least a few. But I had a mystery illness going on (turned out to be severe hypothyroidism) and didn't have the energy or muscle power to take care of myself, let alone a farm! Actually, we had three horses, four dogs, four cats, a rabbit, three cockatiels, one crippled grackle (that lived five years), and a teenage daughter, so that was plenty to take care of. Good thing I had a husband to take care of the horses!

It was nice to see you today! Sorry it was so humid, but that's what happens when the sun comes out after all this rain we've had. It seems like we went straight from winter to summer around here, with only a week or two of cool spring breezes.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday's Favorites-Butterfly Tray

I bought this butterfly tray three years ago from my step-brother's wife's antique store. As you can see by the label above, there are some partial or indecipherable words, but there's no info as far as date. The inlay around the edge sets everything off so beautifully, but it's the butterflies that spark my imagination. Look at all those colors and patterns! The wonders of nature are just beyond belief, but there it is right before our eyes.

The butterfly or moth in the top left corner is almost disintegrated, but the rest are in remarkable shape. The big blue one in the middle is my favorite. Oh, wait a minute, I think the blue one with the black edges, or maybe the white one in the bottom right corner. Well, I guess it's impossible to pick a favorite. I just love the whole package, and take great delight in cleaning the glass so that I can look at it up close. Even far away, like sitting on the couch or coming in the door, the colors will immediately draw your eye to it.

I googled the few words that I could make out, namely Carlos Z, Rio De Janeiro and Brasil, and many entries on two men came up. Either one of them could fit the bill, but then again not really. There were a lot of entries in Spanish which I couldn't understand, but basically it was down to these two. I suppose they could have done it in their earlier days or as a hobby as opposed to their public works. If you have any ideas, or can read Spanish or know how to do research on stuff like this better than I do, please feel free to give me some advice or direction!

Here are the two names that came up. It makes for interesting reading if you're into this kind of thing. I didn't include photos of their work because they didn't resemble the tray at all.

Zéfiro, Carlos (1921 - 1992)
Critical commentary: One of the most popular authors of pornographic comic strips of the end of the 1950s and 1960s in Brazil, the name of Carlos Zéfiro was transformed into a myth due, among other reasons, to the mystery surrounding the man behind the pseudonym, a secret maintained until recently. Alcides de Aguiar Caminha, a native of the Rio de Janeiro neighbourhood of Anchieta and retired civil servant, only admitted to the pseudonym of Carlos Zéfiro in 1991, in an interview with the magazine Playboy. He died in the following year at the age of 70.

Zilio, Carlos (1921 -1944)
Biography: Carlos Augusto da Silva Zilio (Rio de Janeiro, 1944- ). Painter, lecturer. From 1963 onwards, studied at the Institute of Fine Arts of Rio de Janeiro, where he was a pupil of Iberê Camargo (1914 - 1994). Graduated in psychology from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) in 1973. In 1975, he became one of the editors of the magazine Malasartes. His output during the 1960s and 1970s revealed a broad sense of social criticism, as was the case in Lute [Fight!](1967) or in Para um Jovem de Brilhante Futuro [For a Young Man with a Brilliant Future](1973). In 1976, as a result of political persecution, he went to Paris, completing a doctorate there in 1980 at the University of Paris VIII. He devoted himself exclusively to painting, beginning to execute abstract works from 1978 onwards. After his return to Brazil, he created an advanced course in the History of Art and Architecture in Brazil on which he lectured, also teaching on the Masters Degree Course in the Social History of Culture at the History Department of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC/RJ). He was one of the founders of the magazine Gávea, of which he was the editor from 1984 to 1986. He pursued post-doctoral studies with Hubert Damisch, at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, in Paris, in 1992. Two years later, he lectured at the School of Fine Arts of the UFRJ (EBA/UFRJ). Among other books, he has published A Querela do Brasil: a questão de identidade na arte brasileira [The Brazilian Quarrel: the question of identity in Brazilian art ], which appeared for the first time in 1982.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday's Wander to the Wayside:Out My Back Door

Today's Wander the the Wayside is right out my back door, literally. This is where all the birds that I wish were in my yard are actually hiding. I've seen heron there, woodpeckers, geese, and scared up some ducks on a recent walk. It's not huge, but is a great place to walk the dogs, and the boys like to take snacks and hike there.

This is Eva Jean. Our yard is quite large and perfect for an energetic dog, not so perfect for two over the hill people who hate to mow. And we're not zoned for livestock to eat it. We have some trees that we planted three years ago, but there more to the other side of the yard and where I'm standing.

I'm always taking photos of sky conditions in that direction, usually of clouds and storms, but also of trees turning colors in the fall. The sillouettes of herons or geese gliding in is beautiful.

This particular storm above is facing toward the northwest and over our neighbor's yard. I thought the contrast of the clouds and funny color gray was interesting - and scarey. There had been a lot of tornadoe warnings that week not too far from us, but far enough to not really worry.

This is in the green area and facing back toward the east. Someone was nice enough to mow it before our walk. That's our house in the middle. The ridge on the horizon east of us is gorgeous and much higher than it looks. So many trees!

This is Charity, and we're inside the green area. I especially liked the way the branches and vines made an arch over her, or frame around her. It's very hot and humid in there in the summer.

This is the little creek, actually larger than usual because of rain. This is a hundred year flood zone, so, when there are several days of rain, it comes up over the entire green area and up to the yards of the houses further out than us. We basically don't have to worry about anyone ever building on the lot behind us because of the flood zone.

Thanks for stopping by. It's good you came early, because in another few weeks it will be full of mosquitoes and all kinds of creepy crawlies! And I won't even mention the s---- word.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sad News

Around 12:00 this afternoon, my boxer, Eva Jean, found a snake in the back yard. I put Eva Jean up so she wouldn't get hurt, and I took this photo of it before he slithered away. When I let Eva Jean back out, she went to the same tree where she had originally found the snake, then to three of the other trees, and ran circles around them repeatedly, going from one to the other and back again. I figured the snake had been in all of these trees looking for baby birds.

Just a few minutes ago, at 3:00 pm, I opened the door of the bluebird house in the front yard ... and our baby bluebird is gone.

I had seen both mama and daddy last night, carrying food, so I know the baby was ok then.

Why didn't I kill that slithering son-of-a-bitch when I had the chance? Well, I don't know that one was the culprit, and another would have replaced it. But still, I would have felt better at this moment, because I am incredibly sad and mad as hell !

Sorry I got everyone's hopes up. Especially mine. I should have known better.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Luck of the draw, or destiny?

The lady above is Lillian Joyce Crawley. She is my biological mother. She gave birth to me on May 15, 1948 in Chicago, Illinois, and I was given the name Linda Irene Crawley. Originally from Galveston, Texas, she had become pregnant at the age of 18 by a navy guy stationed there or on R&R, and he was from Chicago, so she had gone looking for him. Unable to locate him, or perhaps rejected by him, she went into an unwed mother's home.

Upon giving birth to me at Chicago's Cook County Hospital, Lillian had to decide what to do - keep me or put me up for adoption. The decision was pretty much a no brainer - her dad, my grandfather, told her that if she came home with me, he would kill me, her, and my grandmother ( Rhoda Irene, above). And he had a history of abuse to back up his statement. Considering her age, and the fact that her home life was such a mess, she gave me up for adoption. I was released directly to Lake Bluff Orphanage after a two week stay in the hospital.

I would spend the first three months of my life in the orphanage. I've always wondered what those three months were like, especially when seeing how many photos we took of our own daughter's life in those first three months! I would have loved to have had at least one photo of that time, either of someone holding me in the orphanage, or especially of Lillian holding me before she signed the relinquishment papers.

The photo above was taken in August 1948, and that's my new mother in the middle. Her name was Irene. It's the first day of the rest of my life, the day that I leave for my new home with my new parents. One of these two ladies is with the orphanage and the other is a social worker.

This man is my new dad. Tom Ecklund. My new name would be Linda Jean Ecklund.

Little did any of us know that day that this happy little family would not last. The short version is that they had decided to adopt a child to shore up a shaky marriage. She was an alcoholic who promised to stop drinking, but that promise was quickly broken. In 1949, we would move to Ft. Worth, Texas, and a year later they would divorce, when I was three years old. She retained custody of me, but drinking and men would cause me to be taken away from her seven years later.

Every year on my birthday, beginning when I found out I was adopted at about age 9, and even now at the age of 61, I think back to my beginnings, to those weeks that my mother agonized over her decision, those three months that I was an orphan, and to the new parents who had hoped that this little baby would save their marriage.

I always wondered if Lillian remembered me on May 15, if she was thinking about me at the same time I was thinking of her, the mysterious and romanticized lady who had given birth to me. When I was going thru the nightmare times living with my adoptive mother, and later with my step-mother, I would think "if my REAL mother had kept me, my life would have been so different!"

When I turned 30, I had occasion to find my birth family (more about that another time). My mother was dead, but I had three half-brothers and two half-sisters, and an aunt who I found out all this information from. I found out from her that my mother and grandmother had called to check on me after she got home from Chicago, and were told that I had died in a fire! (This was not an uncommon practice back in those days to keep the birth mother from looking for her child.)

When I went to visit them for the first time in Galveston, I met an old lady who had been like a second mother to my mother, and she pulled me aside and said "every May 15, Lillian would come to my house and sit at this very table and cry for the baby she gave up for adoption". I can't tell you how much that meant to me.

Oh, that perfect life I would have had if she had kept me? Lillian later became a hardcore alcoholic, and all five of her children were taken away from her about the same time I was taken away from my adoptive mom, Irene. The social services records state that she was the poorest excuse of a mother they had ever seen. The private detective records from when my adoptive dad, Tom, went to court to gain custody of me verified what I already knew, that she, also, was a poor excuse for a mother.

This is an old story for me, and everyone who knows me knows about it. I certainly don't feel sorry for myself, and I always considered it just the luck of the draw. But, even to this day, I can't help but ask the obvious question: Was this just the luck of the draw, or was this fate, was this my destiny? I'm not the least bit religious or spiritual, believing in neither the after life or reincarnation, so I don't have a burning need to know the answer. I just can't help making comparisons between my two mothers.

The sad thing for me about this story is that, despite having had two mothers, I never knew or felt the true love of a mother, and have no memory whatsoever of a motherly bond with either of them. I'm very grateful that I have these photos, and when I look in their eyes I look deeply for those bonds, for some kind of feeling, and it's just not there. It wasn't until I became a mother myself that I knew what the love of a mother was all about.

And so, on this rainy Sunday afternoon in Georgia, I have finished my yearly pilgrimage to my beginnings, and am ready to put it to rest for another year. I don't guess it'll matter if I'm 16 or 61 or 81(I hope!), I will continue to make that journey, even though all other witnesses to the event are gone.
When my daughter has a birthday, we share our memories with her, looking at photos of the pregnancy and when she was a baby, recounting details of her birth and infancy and the absolute joy involved with her arrival. When I'm on my annual journey, it is always alone, and most of the story is third or fouth hand information or conjecture on my part. And that's ok, because I have re-written my life script, and redirected any residual sadness to being the best possible mother I can be to my daughter.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday's Favorites-Hutch

Thirty-four years ago, my husband built this hutch with the intention of selling it. I confiscated it for my own use, specifically for all the stuff I knew I'd be collecting over the coming years. It has been one of my most treasured pieces of furniture ever since, and is the first thing to be set up in any home, the same as the buffet I showed you last week. I thought I would feature it here by itself, but decided to go ahead and show you all the stuff that is on it. The stuff across the top is mostly gifts over the years. The fruit tin was one of my earliest treasures because my aunt gave it to me, and it was the last thing I'd ever get from her before she died. The Dresden China plate is one of two that I got when my grandparents died. The glass on the left is a souvenir gift from my cousin Nancy on one of our shopping trips. I think she got one for each of us so that we'd remember each other when we used it. The Lenox candleholders were one of the only things I was able to retrieve from my youth, a graduation gift I think. The Lenox Fruit of Life bowl I mail ordered to match the candleholders.

This is the other Dresden plate. The amberware was my mother-in-law's and I picked it out when we were going through her stuff before she went in a nursing home. I use the juice glasses for votive candle holders.

This pretty much tells you everything you need to know about what I like to collect and the colors I like best. The nest on top of the tin is real, but the bird is not. The popcorn was a gift from cousin Nancy. The green china girl was hers and I nabbed it at her yard sale. The handled jar on top of the popcorn is sweet cherry jelly from Colorado, which is where we're from. The other stuff is just stuff I bought. Oh , except for the blueish pitcher which I found in the dirt at an old house I stopped to poke around in. You can just barely make it out, but there's a cookie cutter in front of the Hershey's tin on the left, actually a dog bone cutter. It's an airedale, and I won it in an online contest by an airedale rescue group that I was part of, for the best email written by a dog. It's a constant reminder to me of my beautiful Molly.

These are some old books I picked up at a used stuff store and will probably be showing you another time (they're not just cook books). My whole house is based on the colors of books! The tin is one of my absolute favorites because of the color and the bird. Don't know how old it is.

Cook books, newish tin of little boy. Small tins were from my m-i-l. The ivy has been in this pot for about 20 years! The cat in the photo is Marakesch, Kesch for short. She came from a shelter, and lived to be 20 years old.

Thanks for stopping by to see my stuff! It's pretty much the same as everybody else's stuff, but it's mine! Some would consider it clutter, but I consider it treasures. My oldest grandson, Garrett age 6, already is putting his dibs on certain things for when I die! (That could be because I'm always saying "this will be your's and Conner's when I die.")

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wipe that pee, please!

I have a huge pet peeve - women who pee on the toilet seat and don't clean it off! Melody and I went into a public bathroom a few months back while at the movies, and I went into THREE STALLS before finding one that didn't have pee on the seat! This wasn't the first time, either. It's been one of my rants for years. It's not that I'm a germaphobe ... it's the ick factor!

Ok, here's the deal. You don't want your butt to touch the possible germs on a public toilet seat. I get that. So you try to pee straddling the toilet or just crouched over the seat. A few (or many) drops get on the seat. You wipe yourself, flush, and ... walk away? Seriously?

Then here I come, also thinking about germs on the seat, and there's YOUR pee on the seat, and I have to wipe up your pee or go to another stall! And if I forget to look before I sit (because sometimes I barely make it there in the first place), and I sit in your pee, I spend the next 30 minutes cringing because of the sticky feel of my underwear sticking to your pee! Ewwwww!

I get that there are accidents even if you sit down all the way to pee. I'm 61 years old, have weak bladder muscles, and sometimes I think I'm done peeing but a few drops come out when I stand up. I WIPE IT OFF. IT'S NOT THAT HARD TO DO. YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO TOUCH YOUR HANDS TO THE SEAT ... YOU WAD UP A BUNCH OF TOILET PAPER AND BLOT YOUR PEE SPOTS. If it's a boy dribbling on the seat after peeing, he's probably with his mother, so the mother either needs to wipe it off herself, or, better yet, begin teaching him to clean up after himself!

It's all about bathroom etiquette. About respect for the next person. Is that so hard?

(Hope I haven't offended anyone with the topic.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday's Wander to theWayside

Whew! Sorry I'm late, but I had to stop for gas. Hope you haven't been waiting long ... hop in and let's have a quick drive down Hullender Hollow Drive. I looked at a house down this road when we were waiting to move here to Ringgold, Georgia, but it was no longer for sale when we finally were ready after our other house sold. I liked that all the houses were isolated from each other, and lots of trees between houses. Large yards and lots. There are a lot of "Hollow"s around here in the south! Many of the roads that look like roads are actually driveways to houses way behind the trees.

I love old mail boxes, don't you? I always wonder how much good news, bad news, letters from loved ones, bills, came to this address. And how old is this mail box, anyway?

This actually looks better in person - an old falling down wood fence with wild roses (I think). If you click to enlarge it you can see the flower - hmmm. May not be a rose.

You can't go down a road without finding these old buildings. I can't get enough of them! I just always wonder what their story is, what happened to the families, what kind of life they had.

I think it might have been an old chicken house. It was very low with doors at both ends.

This is too little to be much of anything - maybe a storage shed. No other buildings close by.

I don't know what they're trying to keep you from. There's only an overgrown lot.

Well, you knew I'd have to put in a cow, didn't you? I like that they always come closer and look you right in the eye. I wonder what they're thinking? I'm told they're as dumb as a fence post.

Thanks for the company! Meet you again next Wednesday. Maybe we'll go down a road that has something besides cows and old buildings. What would you like to see? Maybe we'll go to downtown Ringgold. Small town U.S.A. With lots of .. old houses!

(Ok, this is space perfectly. Let's see how many spaces that poltergeist throws in this time.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bluebirds: OPEN WIDE!

Thought I'd show you a better photo of our three day old bluebird baby.

I had a scare this morning - went out the door to go pick up Conner from nursery school, not really paying attention to anything besides locking the door, and when I turned around a MOCKINGBIRD flew up from the ground (I hoped), and mama was nowhere to be seen!

I didn't know I could move so fast, but I dropped my stuff, grabbed my stool, ran to the birdhouse, cautiously and almost sick to my stomach opened the door ... to be greeted by a baby beak ready for food! What a relief! I quickly took a photo, then he fell over backwards so I got a blurry photo of that. I haven't a clue what those little orange mitteny things are on his midsection, because he doesn't have claws yet. I guess the dark redness is where he was attached to the egg?

I scolded mama when she came back as I got into my car, and asked her why daddy bluebird wasn't standing guard, but she just re-entered the house and glared at me like I was the troublemaker.

Whew! I hope I don't have a nervous breakdown before the next two weeks is over!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bluebirds: IT'S A BABY!

I'm so excited to announce that our single bluebird egg hatched today! We knew it was time as Mr. Bluebird appeared for the first time in days, and sure enough there was the hatchling when I looked in (after Mama flew away). I hope you can click on the photo to enlarge it - it's little beak is on the edge of the feather on the left side. It opened up for a bite, but I wasn't tall enough to get a good shot of it ... next time I'll take my stool like I did for the egg. We'll make every effort to avoid disturbing her for the next week so she can keep the baby warm, and the sparrow danger is always lurking so we'll be on alert for that.

In lieu of gifts, we're accepting congratulations on their behalf.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday's Favorite Things-Foot Butterfly

Every kid brings home dozens if not hundreds of works of art from school, most of them actually done for the most part by the teacher. But we treasure them anyway. A year or so ago, when my grandson, Garrett, was in preschool, he brought home this butterfly made from foot tracings. He wanted me to have it, instead of his mom. Usually I put them on the fridge or front door for awhile, and eventually they end up in a folder out of sight.

This butterfly floated around for many months, until one day I decided to frame it and put it up on a wall shelf in the bedroom. It was there for several weeks, until one day he finally noticed it. His face lit up, and he said "wow, Mawmaw, I didn't know you liked it that much!".

Yes, I said, I liked it that much. Because it was his foot, and his foot would never be that small again. And when he's 6'4" like his daddy, and has a gigantic foot, and kids of his own, he can show it to them and say "look how small my foot used to be! And my Mawmaw loved it so much that she framed it so that you could see it someday."

This is one of my favorite things, because it will always remind me of a time, and a size, in his life that was so fleeting.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wednesday's Wander to the Wayside

Hop in! Buckle that seat belt. Get your camera ready - you never know what we'll see!

I saw this rooster a mile down the road earlier, so he's on the move! I guess he heard what they say about the grass is always greener ...

This is a sign post just above a church called The Cowboy Church. They actually can bring their horses on Sunday morning, plus they have a riding area. I loved the flag in the background. (If I had zoomed this, you could see that the middle sign says church.)

This house is the one from last week that had the laundry hanging on the line in the backyard. I'm not sure how old it is, but I love the stone foundation and mature trees and bushes.

These cows are enjoying the afternoon shade on an unseasonally warm day.

This is the same field. Don't know what that thing is, but I'd guess something to do with food or water. The yellow is from some kind of weed that's blooming.

This cemetary is on the border of the same pasture. At night they have solar lighted crosses!

This is an antique store about one minute from my house. We've lived here three years, and I've never gone there! You have to call some guy to come meet you - I think he lives behind the store . It has some really cool rusted things like bicycles, farming equipment, tubs, etc. No telling what's inside.
Thanks for visiting! See you again next week. I'll provide the snacks.
(Someone behind the scenes is messing with my spacing again ... I've reposted this a dozen times and it's different every time! Does anyone else have that problem? Let's try again ...)
(Nope. It does not want to put spaces between these last paragraphs. Hmmm.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

"Angel": Look Out for the Animals (very long, but important)

Today's choice for Musical Monday selection for the juke box is "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan. Most everybody knows that it's the theme song for the ASPCA, and that it rips your heart out when it's showcasing animal neglect.

Several months back, I was visiting a relative and telling them about some of my neighborhood dogs who are severely neglected by their owners, how it drives me insane, and how I have a tendency to step in and try to fix the situation before resorting to animal control (or because animal control won't do anything, which is a story I'll cover another time)(and I'll talk about my issue with what I call benign neglect another time also). She, in turn, told me a story about some dogs in her neighborhood that made me say "I'll never again apologize for interfering in the lives of my neighbors and their pets when I feel that there is neglect going on."

I may have some of the details of the story wrong, but I think the basics are true. Coming into her neighborhood and turning the corner onto her street is a house that had two dogs. Almost the entire neighborhood passed this house every day, sometimes several times a day. It was summer. It was hard keeping track of what everyone was doing, who was working, who was on vacation, etc. One day they received a call from someone down the street. Next door to the house on the corner. Could Mark come down and help. The people in the house on the corner had abandoned the two dogs in the back yard, and the dogs were dead. It was summer. Temps were probably in the 90s. They had no water. For days. And no food. For days. By the time anyone noticed, even the next door neighbors, it was too late.

I was so upset by this story. Could not get it out of my head. Especially when trying to go to sleep. Imagining how they had suffered and how they waited and waited, in vain, for their "family" to return. But it made me see how responsible (not nosey) I have been in watching my neighbors and their pets, validated my concerns over a water bucket consistently turned over or no bedding on a 20degree day or night. I vowed to remain vigilant and never again apologize for it (even though I'm probably referred to as busybody.)

Recently I was looking thru the Humane Society website, and read a story about a dog named Sunbear, who had been abandoned in a townhouse for SIX WEEKS ... and nobody noticed. When he was finally found, he was locked in a laundry room with a bag of dog food on the outside of the door. He died a few days later. A lady who heard of this story was so upset that she decided to do something about it ... she initiated a site called the Sunbear Squad. Well, let me share a section of website with you.

© The Sunbear SquadNirva created the Sunbear Squad, a website with advice, inspiration and materials to set up neighborhood pet watch groups. The idea is to walk, bike, or slowly drive through your neighborhood on a regular schedule, learning to recognize all of the pets who live there and noticing when people move in and out.When people move out, she says, pay special attention to make sure pets are not left behind.“Be a Good Samaritan,” Nirva advises. “Go stand near the home and call out repeatedly for the pet; he or she may bark or meow or come to the window. Listen closely in case the pet is trapped in a closet and look in windows for signs of life.“Do this several days in a row because some traumatized pets may be frightened, too frightened to respond at first. You may save a life!”

Foreclosures and an unstable economy have caused an increase in the abandonment of pets, and it can't be ignored even on a small scale, such as in your own neighborhood. Don't assume that a realtor will be by in a few days - it's often a month or more before that happens. Please, be aware of your surroundings! And check out this wonderful website to see how you can help.

Since I've got your attention, let me also say this - you'd have to be living under a rock to not know that the shelters and rescue groups are suffering. They are full to the brim. They are overflowing with cats and dogs. Foster homes are in short supply. Resources are low.

There's no shortage of sympathy for them, or for the animals. But sympathy doesn't pay the bills. Our inner voice says we should do something, but by the next morning we've forgotten. I've been guilty of this myself.

Please, if you are able, DONATE YOUR TIME, MONEY, OR SUPPLIES. It doesn't have to be hard or a hardship for you: (1) Write out a check for $10, look up the address of your local shelter, put on a stamp, and drop it in the mail. (2) If you have an hour here and there that you could drop by to walk a dog or pet a cat at a shelter, that counts. (3) Donations of pet beds/blankets/shampoos that you no longer need or use could be donated. (4) If there's a coupon in the Sunday fliers for a bag of dog or cat food, you could purchase that and drop it off, or even donate the coupon!

Don't forget the rescue groups. Every breed has a group looking out for it, and even though they most often get funding and donations, they still have very high expenses. I recently asked Heartland Golden Retriever Rescue Group to take a senior girl who was being neglected by a neighbor of mine. They took her within a week, spent probably upwards of $800 on her as she was heartworm positive and had to be boarded while being treated, and found her a home in about three months. But some dogs are in rescue for a year or more for one reason or another, including behavior and health problems. The dog may go into foster care, but the rescue group still covers their medical expenses. They never kill them or give up on them. If you have a favorite breed, just look it up on the internet and get an address to send whatever donation you can, no matter how small. Another need of rescue groups ... transport of an animal, either from a shelter to a rescue group, or a rescue group to a new forever home. I do this quite often as I can no longer foster, and I love it.

The message is simple, even though the situation is not. Be a good samaritan. Keep your eyes open. Give whatever you can whenever you can to whomever you can. But give. Of your time, of your money, of your heart. Look out for the animals ... and their keepers.

Oh, the dog pictured above. My sweet Charity. A rescue that was supposed to be a foster seven years ago. I was sent to pick her up from a shelter three hours from my home, and got there 30 minutes before the shelter closed at noon that Saturday. She was to be euthenized a few hours later.