My Novels

Monday, April 26, 2010


Ah, found one of my favorite Lennon songs today. It kinda reminds me of being retired!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I suppose the older I get, the less I like human beings and the more I love animals. Why? The horrible way humans treat animals is enough to sicken any compassionate, caring human being. That the majority of people aren't horrified by our disgusting treatment of animals is proof the majority are heartless.

I found this posting on Craig's List, and since the poster advocated passing it around, I post it here for you to gain some insight into why I have begun to feel heart-break for what we humans do to helpless animals (and this is about pets, not those animals we consume with relish and gluttonous delight).


I think our society needs a huge "Wake-up" call. As a shelter manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all...a view from the inside if you will. First off, all of you people who have ever surrendered a pet to a shelter or humane society should be made to work in the "back" of an animal shelter for just one day. Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would stop flagging the ads on craigslist and help these animals find homes. That puppy you just bought will most likely end up in my shelter when it's not a cute little puppy anymore. Just so you know there's a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of the shelter it’s dumped at? Purebred or not! About 25% of all of the dogs that are "owner surrenders" or "strays", that come into a shelter are purebred dogs.

The most common excuses: "We are moving and we can't take our dog (or cat)." Really? Where are you moving too that doesn't allow pets? Or they say "The dog got bigger than we thought it would". How big did you think a German Shepherd would get? "We don't have time for her". Really? I work a 10-12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs! "She's tearing up our yard". How about making her a part of your family? They always tell me "We just don't want to have to stress about finding a place for her we know she'll get adopted, she's a good dog".

Odds are your pet won't get adopted & how stressful do you think being in a shelter is? Well, let me tell you, your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off. Sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn't full and your dog manages to stay completely healthy. If it sniffles, it dies. Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it. If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk. If I don't, your pet won't get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose. If your dog is big, black or any of the "Bully" breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door. Those dogs just don't get adopted. It doesn't matter how 'sweet' or 'well behaved' they are.

If your dog doesn't get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed. If the shelter isn't full and your dog is good enough, and of a desirable enough breed it may get a stay of execution, but not for long . Most dogs get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression. Even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment. If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because the shelter gets paid a fee to euthanize each animal and making money is better than spending money to take this animal to the vet.

Here's a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being "put-down". First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash. They always look like they think they are going for a walk happy, wagging their tails. Until they get to "The Room", every one of them freaks out and puts on the brakes when we get to the door. It must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there, it's strange, but it happens with every one of them. Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 shelter workers depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a shelter worker who we call a euthanasia tech (not a vet) find a vein in the front leg and inject a lethal dose of the "pink stuff". Hopefully your pet doesn't panic from being restrained and jerk. I've seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood and been deafened by the yelps and screams. They all don't just "go to sleep", sometimes they spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves. You see shelters are trying to make money to pay employee pay checks and don’t forget the board of directors needs to be paid too, so we don’t spend our funds to tranquilize the animal before injecting them with the lethal drug, we just put the burning lethal drug in the vein and let them suffer until dead. If it were not a “making money issue” and we had to have a licensed vet do this procedure, the animal would be sedated or tranquilized and then euthanized, but to do this procedure correctly would cost more money so we do not follow what is right for the animal, we just follow what is the fastest way we can make a dollar. Shelters do not have to have a vet perform their euthanasia’s so even if it takes our employee 50 pokes with a needle and 3 hours to get the vein that is what we do. Making money is the issue here not loosing money.

When it all ends, your pets corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back with all of the other animals that were killed waiting to be picked up like garbage. What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? Or used for the schools to dissect and experiment on? You'll never know and it probably won't even cross your mind. It was just an animal and you can always buy another one, right!

I hope that those of you who still have a beating heart and have read this are bawling your eyes out and can't get the pictures out of your head, I deal with this everyday. I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes and start educating the public. Do research, do your homework, and know exactly what you are getting into before getting a pet. These shelters and humane societies exist because people just do not care about animals anymore. Animals were not intended to be disposable but somehow that is what they are these days. Animal shelters are an easy way out when you get tired of your dog (or cat), and breeders are the ones blamed for this. Animal shelters and rescue organizations are making a hefty profit by keeping this misconception going.

Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I just hope I maybe changed one persons mind about taking their dog to a shelter, a humane society, or buying a dog. For those of you that care--- please repost this to at least one other craiglist in another city/state. Let's see if we can get this all around the US and have an impact.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Historic District Houses

The day was too beautiful to stay indoors, so I took the dogs on a very long walk through the nearby historic district. The elementary school I attended sits approximately in the center of this district, hasn't changed much in 58 years! Except, of course, now there's central air/heat, outside overhead shelters for kids on rainy days. Otherwise, it's still an old, old building. However, it is consistently rated one of the best public elementary schools in the state of Alabama.

Anyhow, without further ado, here's the historic district pictures. (Please click to enlarge photos!)

This is the next house from where I left off on the other historic district photos...about 7 blocks from where I live. The following photos are also on this same street...

The following photos are the elementary school I attended:

Entrance to the elementary school

The playground across the street from the school. Spent many hours of fun here with my girlfriends; there used to be a huge old oak at the entry. The roots of the tree were above ground in places, and we kids would sit on those and talk, laugh, play. Too bad it was cut down.

This is one side of the school, just to get an idea of the size. It covers a block, and the next pictures are of all the houses surrounding the school.

When I last worked at the newspaper, I interviewed the lady who lives in that middle big white house. She was a second grade teacher at the school, now elderly, and actually remembered me after all these years!

This house was the home of a former Alabama Governor when I was in elementary school. His youngest children went all the way through high school with me, and were always very popular (duh!)

And finally, this is the Lutheran Church across from the school; there is also a Lutheran private school for elementary students at the rear of that church.

Now a series of photos from the neighborhood facing the train tracks. Like most small southern towns, the original merchants built homes facing the train track so they could meet the train easily, since it was a link to travel back then. The tour starts with the small park across from the houses that borders a tiny creek and the train tracks.

Entry to the park

The walking paths that border the creek and train tracks; across the street are the many historic houses which are coming next....

This is a rather unique place; long, long ago this was a tomato canning plant (processing tomatoes for juice, sauce, etc) and my mother's sister worked there when she was in her 20s. Now it is a combo garage/dwelling. The garage is to the right; the living quarters to the left.

This is an older home turned into a law office

This is a dentist office in an older house

This entire area covers about 3 city blocks; at the southern end, it's more residential. At the north end, it approaches the center of town - which the following pictures show.

The west/east street is still the street I live on. The Busy Bee cafe, first place on corner, has been there as long as I can remember, and is still a popular place for courthouse folks to eat (the courthouse is just across the train tracks). The next two buildings were once the old 'ice house' fact, when I was 10 years old I went on a trip with my dad (a long distance trucker) and he drove through the alleyway between those two buildings to 'ice' down a load of poultry -- dry ice to keep the meat from spoiling. Now it's business & law offices.

This little chapel is across from those other buildings, paid for by a prominent businessman who wanted people to have a quiet place to pray during their busy days.

In the distance there is a couple of churches -- Catholic and Christian.

The following are just random historic houses in the historic district, and these are not the entire neighborhood, but representative of the architecture -- antebellum, German cottage and Victorian.

I have always thought this sentiment captures my idea of my home town: "When young, it's a place you want to escape from. When older, it's a place you never want to leave."

This has been a long picture-blog post...but just an afternoon walk with dogs & camera for me.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Nothing much to write about...

I have been meaning to update this blog for a long time -- obviously since I last posted in early April! However, I think my blog writing interest has waned to the point of becoming non-existent. I choose to spend whatever writing energy I have working on my memoir. And, of course, my life is very peaceful and non-eventful. Just the way a semi-loner likes it, therefore I don't have a lot to gripe about or share.

I do think I'm more of a loner than a writer. I do like observing people, but I find the older I get the less and less I enjoy writing what I observe -- whether in non-fiction or fiction. And while I once thought I'd be devastated if I couldn't write every day, I've found that it doesn't mean all that much to me anymore. Or maybe I just have no 'burning' itch to write passionately anymore; I think all writers must have that basic passion for the subject matter, or the story/article falls flat. And these days I'm not passionate about much, other than the memoir-in-progress.

At any rate, just to let those who read this blog occasionally know I haven't forgotten you all...I thought I'd post some recent photos of life for me.

Glorious dogwood in my backyard in full bloom

Curb appeal project in front of house; I plan to set some potted flowers on the landscaping blocks. The lava rock truly looks good with the colors of my house

My Neuton battery operated lawnmower in the backyard, after I'd just mowed the lawn. LOVE IT!

Oscar & Rambo at nearby park, ready to rumble!

The train beside the same nearby park. The area near this train track used to be called "The Hobo Jungle" was overgrown with weeds/bushes and destitute people gathered there, some using drugs. Don't know if they were 'hobo' types or if that was just a phrase. Anyhow, the area was cleared out by the city, creating a lovely little 1/2 mile walking trail. The dogs LOVE it, since it's wooded and they feel like they are out in the wilds of a forest. LOL

I do need to say I am so HAPPY I sold my other house; it was in the nick of time, since the insurance, termite bond, were coming up next month. I am glad to get that burden off me, and looking forward to having maintenance on ONLY ONE house!

I do tweet every day, with the updates of my daily life. And now it turns out those 'tweets' will be preserved at the Library of Congress. I suppose some history scholar in the future might like the access to 'daily life' of those in our era. I have no problem with it being preserved, though I suppose some might. But as a writer, I have always known that what I write is forever preserved ... in one way or another.

Family is all well, though the recent death of an elderly aunt was hard on her immediate family. I have only one paternal aunt living now, and she suffers from various medical issues. I know that many of the deaths in family over the past four years is due to age -- 75+ is a normal long life for men/women in the USA. Most of the losses in the last couple years have been relatives past that median age.

With that, I'll close today with a quote from a doctor regarding too many medical tests (which I do think are done in excess, and refuse for myself):

"It's human nature to want to do everything to protect yourself and your loved ones. I remember talking to a patient who said he would want every test possible to look for cancer, even if the risk of finding anything was minuscule. I tried to explain to him that the CT scan he wanted would expose him to enough radiation to raise his risk of cancer by 1 in 100,000, and the chance of finding a tumor was only 1 in a million. Pretty much, it would just be increasing his risk of cancer 10 fold. Still, he wanted to have the test done. He wanted to be actively doing everything he could to prevent and treat cancer, even though it would be harmful for him in the end. I understand the impulse, but the new recommendations (for mammograms) are based on data and not emotion. And they are most definitely not politically motivated."

Saturday, April 03, 2010

April Saturday

April showers have officially started. The past week was picture-perfect, warm and sunny -- ideal for the curb appeal project I'm having done. When it's completed, I'll get a few photos to post.

March started with a freak snow:

While we did have warmer weather, we also had lots of rain. The ground was saturated at times, creating drainage issues around my house/yard. It was actually a good time to have that looked at, and part of the curb appeal project is also addressing the drainage problems.

I'm itching to get started on planting my two small veggie garden plots; I've weeded, got the ground prepped.

I will have a variety of veggies here, tomatoes, green beans & more.

Plastic over the ground to kill off remaining weeds till I plant my lettuce varieties. This will be a salad patch only, herbs, lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, a few experimental mixes. This corner of the yard gets some sun, but not a lot -- ideal for fragile lettuce plants.

Rambo sniffing the fresh spring scents

Oscar curled up in his dog bed on one of the cold March days. He might have hoarder tendencies, since he has his chew treat and toy in there with him! LOL

I really don't have much to write about these days or perhaps just very little to complain about? Whatever, mostly my life is going well, though I still haven't closed on the other house. There was a paperwork glitch, which delayed the closing date -- hopefully it'll be next week. At that time, I may have a new central heat/air unit put in since my units are over 10 years old and no longer energy efficient.

I also finally bought a Neuton Battery lawnmower. The one I ordered hasn't arrived yet, but I found a bargain in a local ad, couldn't resist buying it. I got it for only $125.00 -- it's a CE-6, a wider cut with all the attachments. It's almost unheard of to find a used Neuton here in the deep south -- but this man bought it when gas was so expensive a year or so ago. No longer used it. It is in excellent condition, and since the replacement battery is well over $100.00, it was a real bargain. I used it yesterday afternoon, no problem. I wish I'd found this before ordering the new one, but at least I'll have a backup mower, just in case something goes wrong with either one.

I'll close with this little bit of wisdom I found on the internet:


If a dog was the teacher, you'd learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

-- Author unknown