Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Some mornings I'm thankful that as soon as I get out of bed the cats will jump up looking for a warm spot making it virtually impossible for me to make the bed ;-)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Taking a Stand

If you have read Possumlady Place for any amount of time, you know that I'm a big fan and supporter of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. In turn, I'm firmly against the use of any wild animals in circuses.

You can then imagine my dismay when at my office, an all staff email went out on Thursday offering staff discount tickets to the upcoming Ringling Brothers Circus. The email literally turned my stomach. Apparently, the PR machine of Ringling was reaching out to various children's organizations. I quickly flew off an email to our HR director stating my concern. It should be noted that I'm good friends with the head of our HR department and I knew she was swamped and without her assistant for three weeks due to an injury and upcoming surgery. So, I was hesitant sending the email and tried to word it without being accusatory.

She sent me a reply that stated "okay, fine...but it IS for children and they approached US". At this point I decided to go and talk with her, but by the time I reached her office she had already left for the day.

By the time I was driving home I had a massive headache. I started berating myself, "why do you let these things get you SO upset! Why can't you just shake your head, realizing that awful things go on day after day and there is really nothing you can do about it."

The next day I decided I would go and talk to my friend. I walked into her office stating that I knew she was crazed with work and this is probably the LAST thing she wants to deal with, but...She said she was not mad at all and knows that I'm a big animal lover and also knows that some of the ways that they treat animals can be "construed" as animal abuse. Construed?? In my calm voice I said I could forward an undercover video that was taken at a circus training facility. In it you see an elephant chained in its stall with circus employees beating its legs with baseball bats. The video is complete with audio and the screams of that elephant is something that I will never be able to forget. My friend then said "Christine, you know there are a lot of people who just don't care" I then said that well may be, and I hope I'm not friends with any of these people, BUT, I also think there are a number of folks who just don't KNOW what is going on and I think we should at least give them some facts. The HR director then said she would send another email out stating that an employee voiced concerns about the treatment of animals in circuses and would attach my fact sheet that I got from CRY (Circus Reform Yes), an organization based in Minnesota.

Here is what was attached:

• Since 1990 elephants in performance situations have caused 30 human deaths and over 100 injuries worldwide. Since 1990 captive big cats have been responsible for 75 human attacks, and about one-third resulted in fatal injuries. (Statistics compiled by API)
• Most circuses have long lists of non-compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, and many fail to meet minimal standards aimed at insuring public safety and animal welfare. (Fact sheets for every circus kept by the USDA and compiled by API)
• Wild animals in the circus lead unnatural lives of intense confinement, chaining up to 22 hours a day, performances on demand, and are often kept in check with the standard tools of the trade- bullhooks (a long rod with a sharp metal hook used on elephants to control or punish), whips, and shock collars for primates. Having no relief from this lifestyle, they become stressed and are prone to unpredictable and dangerous behavior. Most experts agree that when elephants rampage it is because they are angry. (Congressman Bill McCollum, Chairman, Subcommittee on Crime)
• What keeps an elephant under control lies in the elephant’s training. The training can be severe, using techniques that include prolonged hitting by the elephant trainer with clubs, stabbing with the point of the ankus (bullhook), electricity, electric prods, prolonged chaining, and food deprivation. This is what keeps the general public safe from the wild elephant. (Joel J. Parrott, DVM, Director, The Oakland Zoo)
• Circus animals are routinely kept in chains or small cages for up to 22 hours a day. If a Minnesota resident kept their dog or cat like wild animals in the circus are kept, they would be guilty of a felony under the MN Anti-Cruelty Statute, Ch. 343.
• There are 26 US cities that have prohibited wild animal circuses, and hundreds in Europe that have prohibited or severely restricted performing animal acts. Recently the country of Austria added its name to the growing list, and currently four US cities/states are considering the issue.
• Sears, Mastercard and Toys R Us have all dropped their sponsorships of animal circuses. Locally Roundy’s (Rainbow Foods), and Medtronic have dropped their sponsorships. Both the Lions Club International and Kiwanis International recommend their local chapters do not use wild animal acts as fundraisers.

She sent out the email and I felt a little better. Later in the day she came by and told me she got more than a few emails from staff thanking her for the email. Most said they felt uncomfortable about the circus but didn't know what to say. Another co-worker told me she was in our lunchroom and a table of staff were talking about the email. Some folks were unaware of the abuse that went on in circuses and the whole table agreed that they would never take their children to a circus that included wild animals in their act.

Somewhere I read that "The question should not be can they think or can they communicate with us. The question should be can they suffer."

I feel SO much better!

Now, for your viewing entertainment, I'm posting a video that some of you may have seen. It first appeared on the CBS Evening News, then later on CBS's Sunday Morning program. It is from the Elephant Sanctuary and shows the wonderful and unique relationship between an elephant named Tarra and "her" dog Bella. I'm posting both a link and the video in case one doen't work.



Thursday, February 19, 2009

Capturing His Gentleness With Every Brushstroke

Hi y'all, I'm Back!!

In truth, I was never that far away. I went through a bit of withdrawal from my computer on Saturday. On Sunday, it was a bright and breezy day. I decided I would get my exercise and walk to my town's farmer's market. It's a brisk 10-15 minute walk from my house.

Before I left I decided to try my computer (thinking maybe it had a good rest, being off for over 48 hours and would come back to life--seriously, I actually thought that). I turned it on and while it was warming up I was getting dressed to go out. Then, wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, it connected to the internet! Woo Hoo!! So, there I sat, with my coat on, checking emails and such. A half hour passed and I suddenly realized just how much time I waste on the darn thing. Turn it off! Go outside! Get some fresh air and see your neighbors!! Even though I was very nervous thinking that if I turned it off, I might not get connected again, I turned it off and went on my merry way.

Met three sets of neighbors at the farmer's market, bought some humanely raised (and slaughtered) beef from a local farmer, some free range eggs and some parsnips (I'm trying to eat more root veggies). Walked a little further to a wonderful local pet supply shop called The Big Bad Woof. It's slogan is "Pet Supplies for the Socially Conscious Pet". My boss always gives me a gift card to the store as my holiday gift and it has been burning a hole in my pocket since December. Just had enough money on the card to buy a Platinum Drinkwell Fountain for my obscenely spoiled cats. Will post photos as soon as I hook it up.

Speaking of cats, last March about a week after Butterball died, I asked my friend, neighbor, and artist, Stephanie if she would paint a portrait of Butterball. She agreed but said she was swamped with projects at the time. I was in no hurry and told her whenever she could get to it would be fine. Spring turned to Summer, Summer to Fall, then the economy collapsed. In late October she called and said she finally could start working on Butterball. Well, by that time, I was worrying about my financial future (along with everyone else) and thought this was really the last thing I needed to spend my money on. But, I felt I committed myself in asking her to do the portrait in the first place. I'm glad I did...

This is the almost finished product. She asked me to live with it a few days to see if there was anything else she needed to do to make it more "Butterballicious". I asked her to add a little beauty mark that he had his entire life on his lower lip/chin...

Ahhh, that's better. Then, since there really was no way to show he was a Manx cat (well, no way that would make the pose seem natural), I wanted something in the painting to show he was of Irish ancestry. I asked if she could incorporate some Bells of Ireland into the background bedspread....

Oh, I'm liking this! And the Bells match the color of my bedroom walls where I plan to hang it

Voila!! I truly love this. My neighbor really captured the gentle yet dignified spirit in his expression. The amazing thing is that three of my cats, at different times, have seen the painting, fixated on it, slowly stood up, puffed themselves up and slowly started walking/stalking toward it.

Every time I look at this painting it brings a smile to my face.

Now, onto the framers...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Por Vou

Ain't it the truth!
I'm already getting nervous about not having access to the internet at home, due to my faulty laptop. I had decided some time ago to take next Tuesday off after Presidents' Day and just realized this morning that that means FOUR WHOLE DAYS with no access to the internet! Can she survive? Will she feel completely shut off from the whole world?
I'm trying to look at this from a positive point a view. The internet can be such a distraction when I'm trying to get work done around the house. Also, I have a little art project that I've been diddling with for weeks now and maybe this forced break will allow me really get into a creative spirit and finish the darn thing!!
Now don't go and do anything crazy while I'm not able to read about it!! Please wait until next Wednesday ;-)
Happy Valentines Day!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Computer problems

I'm going to be taking a forced break from blogging. My home computer is acting up. I connect to the internet just fine (I have a DSL line), yet I cannot pull up any websites. It sounds like my computer is grinding away and then just stops.

I could blog from work but I don't really have the time and I only know how to transfer photos from my camera to my home laptop.

Very disappointing.

One quick note. Is there anything that you are highly embarrassed to admit to eating? For the past few days I've been having a craving and had to dash out to the drugstore after work yesterday to buy .....

Not those nasty strawberry flavored ones--yuk!! Cherry! Yes! Mmmmm, cherry twizzlers. Oh yes, I am a sugar addict but I generally don't eat candy--at least I never buy any for myself. But maybe once or twice a year I just have to scarf down some cherry twizzlers.

I broke open the package as I was driving home last night while thinking that there was probably not one natural ingredient in them. At a stop light I found the ingredients and the first one was "corn syrup". I was at least thankful that it was not the dreaded "high fructose corn syrup". As I was chewing away, I noticed how strange the texture was, but oh, that fake cherry flavor!! I was in heaven.

So, I have no idea how I'm going to get my computer looked at. I was thinking of bringing it into the office for our IT folks but we don't have a DSL line here so that won't work.

Hope to be back soon!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Unsung Heroes

Do you work with some unsung heroes? I think everyone does. The folks that help keep your office or school running smoothly.

I came into work today to the news that our mailroom associate, Kendric, died suddenly last night. Rumor is that he had a heart attack. Many tears have already been shed and there is a sad quiet that has settled over the office.

I counted on Kendric for many things. Working directly with our governing board, it seems like I’m always preparing for the next upcoming board meeting. Kendric would help with getting the agenda books out to everyone and would sometimes come along with me for a drive to our printers to pick up the books. Out of copy paper—call Kendric. Jam in the copier—call Kendric. Need help in mailing something overseas—call Kendric. Box too heavy to move—call Kendric.

Last February, I was preparing for an Executive Committee meeting that was going to take place on a Sunday here in our offices. They were only meeting for a few hours, so no meals were planned, yet I bought some snacks and would have coffee, tea, water, and sodas available. My boss, trying to save a few bucks, insisted that no one needed to come in to set things up. Between another co-worker and myself, it was agreed that Kendric would come in. Since it was near Valentines Day, I bought some pink tulips for the table. I also bought a couple of bags of pink and red foil Dove chocolate hearts. I gave them to Kendric and said “I know this is silly, but would you mind just randomly placing the hearts around the table?” He just laughed and shook his head and said “Christine, you are too much”. The following Monday, he came to me with his cell phone. He was so proud of the table he took a photo of it to show me.

We all noticed that the last few weeks he seemed very tired and sometimes seemed to literally be dragging himself to deliver the mail. If I noticed him walking past my office, I would call out “How you doin’ Kendric?” and he would answer “Oh, I’m okay”. With the advent of email, my office snail mail has gone down considerably. Last Thursday though, Kendric came into my office with a pile of thick letters, close to 20 of them. I looked up and was shocked and blurted out “What the HELL is this?” He was so shocked he dropped the letters and bent over laughing. I’m so glad I was able to give him a good belly laugh.

So, please, take the time to stop and say hi to your unsung heroes.

Kendric, you will be GREATLY missed. Be happy and free.