and more…

Dogs and Cars 3/8/09

Sofia, a Havanese on the Dog Liver Disease site accidentally got out during a trip out of town and was hit by a car. Thankfully and miraculously she is alive and seems not to have sustained any major physical trauma thus far.

When I read that she had been hit, I felt my heart skip a beat. I think anyone who has witnessed or lost a dog to a car accident, or even almost lost a dog to an incident with a vehicle will not forget that sickening feeling for the rest of his or her life. I know I won’t.

I’ve been meaning to put a post up as a salute Alice, the Border Collie whom I met last summer and whose owner I befriended and became bonded with forever in one of the best as well as most certainly the worst day for me last year.

As a result of my involvement with Alice’s passing last summer, I have become completely paranoid about dogs and cars, especially since Willie our Min Pin is an escape artist and runner, Russell the Morkie loves to run out and stand in the road whenever she gets a chance, and Halle is so tiny, she blends in with the dirt road at our summer place.

When I hear my husband coming up the driveway, I would run out with limbs akimbo scooping up small loose dogs like a maniac. Even crazy-smart dogs can’t fully wrap their heads around how deadly vehicles are, especially the ones they are familiar with. Why would a vehicle they wander under for shade suddenly be cause for alarm?

I’ve been putting off the tribute to Alice because every time I think about last summer I have feelings of despondency and nausea. How I cried. How Jeff cried. He didn’t leave the house for days and I was in shock for what seemed to be like an eternity. I couldn’t stop reliving the moment involuntarily. I was terrorized and haunted by my memories.

The feelings of terror and guilt are awful, but even most rural environments are not free of motor vehicles and the most vigilant pet owner cannot always anticipate or prevent an accident from happening.

I’m almost ready to write about Alice, but for now I just want to pray for Sofia and for her human parents to emerge as unscathed as possible.

Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments.

The Silver Lining

1) More soul searching

2) More thought or desire for having meaning in one’s life and actions

3) More frugality, reducing, reusing and recycling

4) Enjoying the “free” intangibles more: sunsets, friends, nature, walks, relationships

5) More creativity

6) More self-reliance and DIY (Doing it Yourself)

7) More gratitude for what one has

8) More empathy and compassion for fellow struggling humans

9) De-emphasis on material things

10) Discovering who your real friends are

11) De-emphasis on “financial net-worth” of a person

12) De-emphasis on status, prestige and luxury

13) More interest in energy conservation and renewable energy

14) More saving when possible

15) More paying down debt when possible

16) More use of debit cards and cash instead of cash when possible

17) More humility, less arrogance, fewer attitudes of “entitlement”

18) More depth of meaning and less superficiality

Things are pretty bad, but I’ve always found the worst times are the best times for personal growth. Our entire country probably collectively needed a real spanking anyway.

I believe that Americans will emerge more evolved from all that is going on. In some ways I do hope that things get worse in order to provide deep and wide impetus for moving our collective consciousness to the next level. Adversity is an amazing wake-up call, especially if it is systemic and pervasive.

Please feel free to share your “silver linings” in the comments!

Strange times, take two (updated) 3/7/09

We’re not imagining it. I’m not going to interject my opinion until the end of this list because the following items speak for themselves:

1) As of three weeks ago, unemployment in Detroit proper was at 22%. The marker for “depression” is 25% Michigan was at 12%. People in Vail are crying because they’re up to 4.3%.

2) Banks have been retroactively reducing home equity lines of credit based on newly devalued home prices. In Michigan, Chase Bank has devalued property seemingly across the board by about 30%. Your line of credit may go from $200,000 to $140,000 overnight. You may find you are suddenly maxxing out on your credit without notice.

3) Credit cards are hiking up interest rates just because. Citi raised my interest rate from 8.9% t0 19.99%. When I called to ask if it was something I did, they said, “No – you have an outstanding payment history. We’re doing this across the board”. Many cards are also reducing credit limits out of the blue as well. I understand they want to reduce their liability, but it’s creating more problems.

4) The economy has finally affected the Vail Valley with 1000+ foreclosures on the books, but rents continue to rise by 10-25% because the area is still short thousands of units of affordable housing. My girlfriend is a bank manager and has confirmed that they are turning down the majority of the loan applications due to the much more stringent requirements.

5) Insurance companies like Aetna, AutoOwners, etc., are “holding” money: taking much longer to pay out for claims or dragging the process out until customers are willing to settle.

6) Family pets, mostly dogs, are being found abandoned in homes in which people have foreclosed on or been evicted from.

7) Retirement funds from decades of individual and group plan savings have dwindled to half or less of their sizes.

8) Everywhere I go I see businesses that have shut down or struggling.

There’s more of course.

I am actually the family optimist, but I strongly feel things will get substantively worse before they get better. Why? Because each new day brings news of more layoffs, businesses filing for bankruptcy, ponzi schemes and mismanaged corporations.

People without jobs can’t find work. People without homes can’t buy new ones. Banks aren’t lending. New jobs have not materialized yet and the repercussions of all the lay-offs, business closings and corruption are still fanning out across our country at all socio-economic levels.

The lucky ones are the people who can lay low and ride it out. But “it” may still take at least 3-5 years.

Here are two little things that caused a lift of the eyebrow:

    -Barnes & Nobles is now enforcing a new return policy: only 14 days and only with a receipt. No store credit, returns or exchanges after 14 days period.

    -Costco in the Vail Valley has removed their selection of upscale cheese. We’re talking about the Vail Valley.

Here’s an item of irony. My husband says that Vail Resorts has been visibly affected in the following ways:

    -The company is restricting overtime for employees.

    -Clients who used to spend $5000+ a day at the resort are now spending $1000/day.

Dog grooming: a fun and somewhat obsessive hobby 3/5/09

Since I’ve been home I’ve taken time out to hang out with Ron and our three dogs. Tomorrow it’s back to work for both of us and that’s a good thing.

In the past two days I’ve had a chance to indulge myself in one of my favorite activities: grooming!

I take a long time cutting dog hair, sometimes hours spread out over days to perfect the cuts, trims, sculpting, cleaning, and pawdicures.

I told Ron I was becoming a pro as I inspected my handiwork and was obviously pleased with myself. He smiled and said I probably wouldn’t make any money on it because I took so long. So I said I was an amateur groomer. He said I was more like a “hobbiest”. We both laughed. It’s so much fun for me I don’t even care if I only ever have “hobbiest” status.

I’m home! 3/3/09

It took a lot longer than planned, but I’m finally home.

I want to thank my friends at DLD for their support – I didn’t feel alone for a minute. I also want to thank my sister for talking with me on the road when I was tired, googling clean and cheap motels as I prepared to stop, and generally making the trip by phone with me. She was the one sister that was out of state when my parents were hospitalized, but made immediate plans to take time off work to fly back to Ann Arbor. Her stay was planned to overlap with my departure, which made the transition for both me and my parents much less traumatic.

Marie – thank you for keeping track of me. One can’t have enough mom-like people in one’s life!

Stopping in Ogallala, CO 3/2/09

Halle and I have been on the road for something like thirteen hours today. We stopped several times for gas, meals and bathroom breaks. She’s a great little traveler now.

When I first adopted her, she would throw up every time she went for a ride. Then after a while she stopped getting sick but would crawl under the car seats until the car stopped. Now she travels like a champ in her own car seat “above ground”.

I think I was more worn out by Nebraska than she was. Actually, we’re still in Nebraska, but close to the Eastern border. Nebraska seems to go on forever, but this was one trip through it without construction, giant tumbleweeds, windstorms, rainstorms, tornadoes or lack of lodging with vacancies. Nebraska was kind to us today and I am grateful.

Halle and I are on the Iowa border 3/1/09

After a late start, more stops and starts, missing a major exit and having to pull over to catch a nap, we’ve made it to the border of Iowa.

Leaving was hard. I tried to say my goodbyes to my parents inside the house, then run outside into my car and drive away before they could come out to the driveway. I wasn’t fast enough. They came out and stood by the passenger side of the car. Their eyes looked as big asĀ  saucers. I waved and yelled, “Goodbye”, mustering the best smile I could, then pulled out of the drive, not looking back.

Now Halle and I are in a motel. She’s sleeping and I’m tired. Tomorrow will be a very long driving day