Thursday, April 23, 2009

Greyhound Mother

A few weeks ago I received the email below from a friend who knows about my love of greyhounds. Within two hours I had four more friends send it to me - two of them were fellow greyhound lovers. Funny how things can zip all over the country once they hit the internet.

I did check out this story via and I was thrilled (and relieved ) to find that it is 100% true - the text and the photos (nothing was photo-shopped). Check out the Snopes link for the story with pictures (you must see the pictures!) or I have cut and pasted the text below.

Here is the story that just about had me bawling; however, if you have ever known a greyhound you know this sounds just like something one of these wonderful, sweet dogs would do.

"In 2003, police in Warwickshire, England, opened a garden shed and found a whimpering, cowering dog. It had been locked in the shed and abandoned. It was dirty and malnourished, and had clearly been abused.

In an act of kindness, the police took the dog, which was a greyhound female, to the nearby Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary known as a willing haven for animals abandoned, orphaned or otherwise in need.

Geoff and the other sanctuary staff went to work with two aims: to restore the dog to full health, and to win her trust. It took several weeks, but eventually both goals were achieved.

They named her Jasmine, and they started to think about finding her an adoptive home.

The dog had other ideas. No-one remembers now how it began, but Jasmine started welcoming all animal arrivals at the sanctuary. It wouldn't matter if it was a puppy, a fox cub, a rabbit or, probably, a rhinoceros, Jasmine would peer into the box or cage and, where possible, deliver a welcoming lick.

Geoff relates one of the early incidents. "We had two puppies that had been abandoned by a nearby railway line. One was a Lakeland Terrier cross and another was a Jack Russell Doberman cross. They were tiny when they arrived at the centre and Jasmine approached them and grabbed one by the scruff of the neck in her mouth and put him on the settee. Then she fetched the other one and sat down with them, cuddling them."

"But she is like that with all of our animals, even the rabbits. She takes all the stress out of them and it helps them to not only feel close to her but to settle into their new surroundings."

She has done the same with the fox and badger cubs, she licks the rabbits and guinea pigs and even lets the birds perch on the bridge of her nose.

"Jasmine, the timid, abused, deserted waif, became the animal sanctuary's resident surrogate mother, a role for which she might have been born. The list of orphaned and abandoned youngsters she has cared for comprises five fox cubs, four badger cubs, 15 chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and 15 rabbits.

And one roe deer fawn. Tiny Bramble, 11 weeks old, was found semi-conscious in a field. Upon arrival at the sanctuary, Jasmine cuddled up to her to keep her warm, and then went into the full foster mum role. Jasmine the greyhound showers Bramble the roe deer with affection and makes sure nothing is matted in her fur.

"They are inseparable, " says Geoff. "Bramble walks between her legs and they keep kissing each other. They walk together round the sanctuary. It's a real treat to see them."

Jasmine will continue to care for Bramble until she is old enough to be returned to woodland life. When that happens, Jasmine will not be lonely. She will be too busy showering love and affection on the next orphan or victim of abuse."

Open Containers & Take Your Child To Work

Judging by the number of children on the train this morning, and walking around the Loop with their parents I'm assuming it was "Take Your Child to Work" day. I think this is a great idea, but why don't they do it during the summer when the kids are off anyways? I'd like to expose my kids to what I do for work, taking the train into Chicago, etc but I don't think it should supercede them being in school. I was happy to see that my employer decided to schedule their own "Take Your Child to Work" day and it will be in June.

On my way walking to the train this evening I saw a tall blonde woman that I often see on my walk to the train. Today I glanced over to her and noticed she was taking a drink from a small bottle of white wine! It was one of those screw top, single serving bottles. She was taking swigs and walking as if this was a normal thing to do; but it struck me as odd. I guess the fact that it was a bottle of wine kind of threw me - if she was drinking a Sprite I don't think I would have even noticed. As I was walking and pondering this I started to wonder "isn't that considered an open container?" and "can you walk through the streets of Chicago guzzling your white wine even if it is a single serving bottle?" Maybe she had a lot of people at her office that brought their children to work today and she really needed that post work drink.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Depression Era Tips - They Still Work

I read this by Lou Carlozo in today's Chicago Tribune and thought it was interesting and reassuring.

Thankfully, most of these ideas have already been instilled in me by my parents although neither of them really were aware of the Great Depression as children - one wasn't born yet, the other just a toddler living overseas by the time the GD "ended". Something about seeing these tips in writing and written by someone else made me feel good - I guess reminding me that others out there think the same way and this way of thinking is good (although of course I already knew that :-) but it's always helpful to have a refresher.

10. Shop only for necessities. Ask yourself, “Is this something I want or need?” This comes in handy often - especially since I'm a sucker for a sale! I'll remind myself that no matter how cheap it is it still costs money - do I really need it? Usually the answer is "no".

9. Throw away your catalogs. Do this as soon as one comes in the mail. Purchase only necessities. Yes - don't even open them up because you will find something you want (but probably not need). Go one step better and save a tree by calling the company's customer service department and remove yourself from their mailing list. When I'm on a really tight budget I won't even look in the Sunday paper sale ads unless I need a specific item.

8. Avoid eating out at restaurants. Make family meals at home; establish a limit such as one restaurant meal a month. If it's too hard to only eat out once a month give yourself a budget and put that money (cash) in an envelope. When it's gone, you are done eating out for the month.

7. Don’t spend money you don’t have. Pay cash for as much as you can and avoid the use of credit cards. Pay down credit balances to avoid paying high interest fees. This one seems like a no-brainer: if you don't have the cash to pay for something, then don't buy it. I like to use credit cards when they benefit ME - one with no annual fee and gives me points for some sort of benefit that I find valuable. No more airline miles for me - too many black out dates, etc so I use a Starbucks Duetto Visa which gives me points for free Starbucks every month. It's a small benefit, but I run all my purchases through the card (pay it off in full each month) and enjoy the no annual fee and free coffee (plus quarterly coffee bonuses too!)

6. Don’t ever pay full price. With retail stores offering sales like never before, wait until a coveted item goes on sale—or ask a manager if the item’s price can be reduced. Oh yes. If it is not on sale, I'm not buying it. Even my 4-year old knows this, especially with groceries. When an item I use regularly goes on sale I buy a few of them so I don't run out when they are NOT on sale. It takes some forethought and planning but it's a great way to stay within your grocery budget.

5. Plant more gardens. A fun family project, planting a garden can save you lots of money on food in the long run. We enjoy having a garden - both vegetables and fruit. We don't plant enough to sustain all of our needs but when you can pick two pints of raspberries in one day it feels great, especially knowing those would cost about $8 in the grocery store (especially for organic fruit!)

4. Conserve on gas and become more energy conscious. Avoid long drives, and at home turn off lights and space heaters/air conditioners whenever possible. We use our programmable thermostat religiously which takes out the need to remember to turn the thermostat up or down at night or when we are leaving for work. I also try and plan my errands so that I can either walk to do them on the weekends or drive in one big loop so there is no back-tracking or return trips needed. I look at it as kind of a game.

3. Be thankful for what you have. What truly matters isn’t accumulation of items, but relationships. Don’t spend on trinkets for fulfillment; invest in your friendships and relationships instead. I try to remind myself of this regularly, especially when I get jealous of a neighbor's new car, big house or fancy clothing. It's not easy to do all the time, but it puts things in perspective to remind myself of how lucky I am.

2. Pay yourself first. Put aside a defined amount from every paycheck into savings and investments. This one is another tough one to do, but if you wait until after you have paid all the bills to save something for retirement or to put in an emergency fund you will never do it. Take advantage of direct debiting to have money put into a 401K, IRA or savings account before you even see the money. My employer offers direct deposit (love it!) and also the option of me scheduling my paycheck to be diverted into accounts that I specify in advance. This allows me to not only put money in my 401K but my personal savings account too.

1. Look for ways to help others. The best way to overcome low feelings in this recession is to help those in even greater need. Acts of selfless giving and kindness cultivate riches no recession can steal away. Amen!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem part 2

You have got to be kidding me. Although that doesn't sound like the right thing to say about this given that someone took their own life, but I cannot believe another person has jumped from a building in Chicago. Right on the path I use to walk to work, no less.

From today's Chicago Tribune:

"The person who died in a fall from the Civic Opera House this morning was a 19-year-old woman, police said this afternoon. An earlier report incorrectly identified the victim as a man.
The woman's identify has not yet been made public, nor the circumstances of the fall. Police continue to investigate but said they were treating the death as a possible suicide.
Emergency crews responded to a call about 8:49 a.m. of someone falling from the 40th floor of 20 N. Wacker Dr., said News Affairs Officer Laura Kubiak. The building is the home to the Lyric Opera."

I walk by this building EVERY morning and EVERY evening on Wacker Dr. If I miss my usual train, I am walking this route at the time this woman apparently jumped. I can't even phathom what I would have done had this happened in front of me, or within eyesight of me, not to mention, did she fall on someone? There are a lot of commuters out at that hour - the Lyric Opera building is right across from Union Station.