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Archive for May, 2009

I’m one of those who answers “dog person” whenever the question comes up as to favorite pets. I’ve grown up with them and my latest, Sadie, was a combo Basset Hound – Australian Sheppard mix. I would get lots of comments about her appearance especially after she lost one eye to glaucoma. Once we even passed a gentleman who had an eye-patch and when he saw Sadie, lifted said patch and popped out his fake eye.  Not only was I speechless, but so too was the young woman on his arm, who I forever wondered if she stayed with him or not.

My soon to be sister-in-law brought two Alaskan Malamutes to the marriage and thus began my introduction to the wolf side of the dog species. These two, Havoc and Elke, were definitely hunters, Elke in particular was the silent but deadly type. With Sadie in tow, I remember the occasional evening barbecue that somehow included howling to the moon, a most impressive sound with wolves (in essence) and one basset hound. I’m sure the neighbors loved us.

All of those particular family pets have since passed on, but their memory lives on. When I ran across this little story in the paper this morning, I couldn’t resist sending it to my brother and sister-in-law and suggested they change their summer vacation plans of France to the possibility presented here. No, I haven’t heard back yet as to whether they will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity… 🙂

Washington Post Express: Nature   Join the Pack

 
A project involving conservationists and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists is looking for a few dozen people willing to howl like wolves in Maine’s North Woods. The Wolf Inquiry Project plans to conduct “howling surveys” in several areas this summer in hopes of discovering whether wolves are resettling in  Maine. The Bangor Daily News reported that coordinators are seeking individuals willing to spend a night howling in the woods and who won’t be scared off if they get a response from the wolves.
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I spent an unexpected amount of time this weekend watching Drew and John use newly designed tools to fix a broken object. From that description, sounds like I was watching a weekly PBS or cable show on home repair with a couple of hardware handymen. Nope. I was watching Astronaut/Astrophysicst John Grunsfeld and Astronaut Drew Feustel up in space giving the Hubble Space Telescope a tune-up. And if you access this blog post this Monday morning (5/18), click here to also watch the folks in space walk around your world, it’s awesome!!

One of my twitters from Saturday:

@christytj Astronaut John with red strip on back designating “free floater, wiggling his toes, 350 miles above Queensland Australia #nasa.

And a twitter from Astronaut Mike Massimino just a few minutes ago (Monday morning 5/18).

@Astro_Mike From orbit: At the end of my spacewalk, I had time to just look at the Earth, the most awesome sight my eyes have seen, indescribable.

Don’t let us forget Astronaut Megan McArthur, the women the other men constantly refer to in their space conversations. Why? She is operating the robotic arm that either holds them, their equipment or other important objects. Competent and invaluable it appears.

Either by watching them work in space, following their twitters, reading stories in your local paper or via the regular tv shows, take a moment and follow what’s happening in space. It is amazing. One last point, an answer to that often unspoken question, “Ever wonder how astronauts pee in space?

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The latest headlines, “Recession Hits Social Security Hard,” are just that, the latest headlines. We’ve all been reading for years of the trouble Social Security and Medicare are facing and that long term solutions should “start now”. I was in my twenty’s the first time I read about this – I only remember because I laughed, with a Murphy’s Law cynicism, the news predicted at that time it would run out the same year I turned 65.

I’m not laughing now. Since then I’ve learned that women only make 78 cents to the dollar a man makes and one of the biggest area that impacts women is their retirement years. It used to be thought (and still is depending upon whom you talk with), “that’s ok, a woman will live off her husband’s pension anyway.”  Given the current economy, one feels like asking, “what pension?” And if a woman is single, unless she started (or starts) financial planning early, well, let’s just say, YIKES!

So when years later, I hear that Social Security and its companion, Medicare, are in trouble, I hope that this time someone will listen. The fact that the recession has only added to its woes compounds the bigger issue of preparedness. And the impact on women extends to their families, for obvious reasons.

For decades, the government seems to have been ignoring its own warning signs. Just as equally, people haven’t been preparing enough. I hope the current government in Washington has the ability to not just put a band-aide on the wound, but to gather our community focus – government, corporations, small businesses, everyone of us – on solving the real issues now, for my future, for your future and for the next generations to come.

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Isn’t that a headline that makes us all look back into our own families and wonder if it happened to us or at the very least to one of our siblings? It was only after years of rumors and a DNA test that Kay Rene Reed Qualls and DeeAnn Angell Shafer of Heppner Oregon found out they had been switched at birth by accident, back in 1953.

I had to agree with what Shafer reportedly said, “”I’m trying to move forward at look at the positive. You can’t look back. It just drives you crazy.” Can you imagine? Everything you thought about your family history has now changed when you are no longer a blood relative – and yet, not changed since your history is also their family history now too.

Over my lifetime, I’ve had many numerous discussions of being “switched at birth” with friends as we diagnosed various members of our respective families and thought there was no way we could be related. This at times led to interesting insight from friends who were adopted, however, they considered themselves the “chosen” one rather than the outsider. To find out you were switched at birth for real?! I did read the hospital in question, Pioneer Memorial in Eastern Oregon, offered to pay for counseling. I have to wonder if either or both ladies in question (or their families) will look for other means of retribution, but somehow doubt it.

Is it a blood connection that makes a family really? Genetics do come into play for medical reasons, more so as science and technology continue to advance and we can become more proactive (if we can afford to, but that’s another blog post).  But I can think of non-blood “relatives” who I consider just as close as my real family. Not just spouses or partners but friends who act more like family than family. It’s the connectivity people have, the caring for each other, the sense of community they build, the support they provide that make up a “family”.  It sounds like once the shock of discovery wore off, the “switched at birth” ladies now consider themselves “sisters.” And that’s not a bad thing.

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My family still teases me for getting a tear in my eye at some commercials (yes, guilty), and my niece still remembers how I cried when I took her to see the dinosaur flick, Land Before Time, years ago. So it was no wonder that it was a Kleenex moment when I watched the Elizabeth Edwards interview on the Today Show this morning as Matt Lauer talked with her about the publication of her new book Resilience.  

The book focuses on her continuing experience as a cancer survivor and of course, being the wife of former N.C. Senator & VP Candidate, John Edwards, most recently known for his admitted affair.  Others will talk about the “affair”, it was her own story that caught my eye. It was the story of the loss of her father, of her 16 year old son, of her battle with cancer, of the joys of her other children, that made me bring out the Kleenex brigade.

And it was the story of how she wants to take her youngest daughter on a trip with her (her daughter’s one wish). Knowing she can’t “handle luggage and an 11 year old” on her own now, Elizabeth said she was thinking of taking a tour. Hearing that, off popped the memory lightbulb as I remember my own sister in the same cancer battle, trying to set up a tour so that she might take her young daughter on a trip as well. 

The final “big” trip didn’t happen, but my sister did create many loving memories that will carry through the years and listening to the interview this morning, I applaud Elizabeth Edwards and all like her who are making the effort to do the same for their child. It’s off to the bookstore at lunch today to get Resilience and to get inspired — inspired with tissues in hand admittedly.

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When I was in my twenty’s, I worked at a residential treatment center for juvenile delinquents. It was  one of the few programs at the time that housed both boys and girls, ages 12-18. Most just dealt with boys since “girls are just too much trouble.”  Having had counseling training and work experience with the Juvenile Court system during college,  I thought I knew what I would be facing. Wrong.

My years there taught me more about parenting than I ever would have realized. I went in thinking I would be helping a bunch of rebellious kids who had succumbed to peer pressure and gotten into trouble despite the best efforts of their parents. Naive? You bet!  The more parents I met, the more I realized that 95% of what later turned into delinquent behavior by the child, started with inappropriate, absentee or even abusive parenting. And it was not necessarily based on economic, cultural or other what was deemed “typical” demographics.

What started me on this train of thought today? I read Nicholas Kristof’s NYTimes Op-Ed column, “Girls on our Streets” of yesterday. I’m used to his descriptions of overseas prostitution, of trafficking in girls usually between the ages of 12-14, but this column discusses young girl prostitutes in the United States. Even social services call them “throw-aways”, young girls whose parents see “no good” in them or who can’t handle the behavior patterns developed as a result of the girl’s low-self esteem. Low-self esteem developed because of serious parenting issues. See a vicious cycle here?

My first instinct upon reading Kristof’s column was to jump, yet again, on the bandwagon for more resources, guidance, counseling, teaching, etc., etc., for those who are parents in trouble as well as for the child.  While I still believe in that, I decided instead I wanted to actually do a complete turn-about and celebrate parents who are great, who are taking wonderful care of their children, who are making a positive difference.

With Mother’s Day around the corner, when I learned of a delightful opportunity to create an easy online video award for the mother you want to honor as “Mother of the Year”, I couldn’t resist passing it along. From MomsRising’s Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner:

*See your name in lights on a prime time online newscast in this funny, inspirational and, yes, customizable video: http://news.cnnbcvideo.com/index2.html

You can also make this online video feature a friend, your mom, and anyone you know who could use a little lift for the hard work she does just being a mom every day.

TRY IT! It’s fun, and the mom who receives it will love it. And then maybe we can look at putting mom power behind those who could benefit from learning what it takes to be a loving parent. For their child.

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Swine flu media blitz influencing the youngest generation?? I don’t know if the author this particular story, Little Pig is Missing,  was subliminally impacted by the recent massive media coverage of the swine flu… but I do know this story made me smile widely. Written and illustrated by Quinn, an intrepid five year old, I was given this as a gift and recognize it for the treasure it is. Couldn’t resist sharing your story and some of your illustrations – thanks Quinn!

Little Pig is Missing    Written and Illustrated by Quinn

pig-is-missing

Little Pig and Daddy Pig

Little Pig and Daddy Pig are swimming in the jungle water .

 

 

 

 

tiger-and-rhino1

Tiger and Rhino

The Tiger and the rhino came and they were talking to Daddy Pig. The rhino stepped on Tiger’s tail and he ROARED!

 

 

 

 

Little Pig got scared and ran away.   And then he was lost forever….but the parrot brought him home.

Parrot in Little Pig is Missing by Quinn

Parrot saving Little Pig

 

And Little Pig and Daddy Pig swam at slug-o-rama in the sluggy water.

 

                  THE END

 

 

copyright 2009 Quinn C

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