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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye to 2013

In just a few hours, 2013 will fade away, and a new year will begin.

I'm not one to celebrate on New Year's Eve, but this day is nonetheless a day for reflection of the year just ending and anticipation of the one to come. What will 2014 hold for me and my family? Will it be a good year or a bad one?

2013 was a mixed bag for me. In January, I self-published my book about the challenges and successes in raising an older adopted child. From Hopeless to Hopeful: Raising an Older Adopted Child is available from www.lulu.com, www.amazon.com and www.bn.com. My goal in writing this book was to provide information and hope to other struggling adoptive parents

My teenage daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in February. The baby was adopted by a wonderful local family and is doing well. We got to visit her several times this year. Had her circumstances been different, my daughter would have kept and raised her daughter, and I know the decision to place the baby for adoption still haunts her.

I did some wonderful traveling this year, to Turkey and Vermont for hiking, and to Croatia and Slovenia (with a day trip to Montenegro) as a tourist. I have some interesting trips, both domestic and international, planned for 2014 as well.

Sadly, I had to say goodbye to my 15-year-old dog Mila, when arthritis and hip dysplasia finally got the best of her. And shortly before Mila's passing, my 12-year-old dog, Tia, started having seizures and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. We don't know what her life expectancy will be, as there is no way of knowing how quickly the tumor is growing. So far, she is having more good days than bad, and the bad days aren't too bad. She still enjoys carrying her toys around, and we take a walk together every morning.

I decided to spend some money on myself, so I splurged this year and bought my first luxury car, a used 2013 bright red Mercedes Benz C250.

With my previous volunteer activities coming to an end, I continue to seek one or two new places to volunteer. Despite my great love of animals, I find that volunteering in a animal shelter is too painful emotionally. I know I will find something before long. I need a volunteer opportunity that is fulfilling yet drama-free.

One of my goals for 2014 is to take more day trips in New Mexico. This is a beautiful state with many fascinating places to explore. I also want to go back to Sedona (Arizona) for photography and hiking, and possibly return to Utah to further explore and photograph the beautiful red rock country near Moab.A trip to Monument Valley remains on my list as well.

I have signed up for an on-line photo editing course, and I also hope to get back into brushing up on my Russian language skills prior to a return visit to St Petersburg later in 2014.

There is no point in worrying about the year ahead. It will unfold as it unfolds. I have many exciting plans for 2014 as I strive to make the most of the time I have been given, work to make the world a better place in some small way, and continue to improve myself.

May 2014 bring you and your loved ones peace, contentment and good health.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Humbug

Humbug. Christmas is just a couple of days away. I am sitting at my desk listening to Christmas music, with tears in my eyes.

No, this isn't the holiday blues. My heart is broken by all the cruelty in the world. Every night before I fall asleep, comfortable and warm in bed, I think about the people and animals spending another frigid night outside. I think about the millions of dogs and cats killed in this country every year. I think about the wolves, coyotes, bears and other animals trapped, shot and poisoned for fun. I think with disgust about the all-too-common coyote-murdering contests held in many states, including my own state of New Mexico. I think about the children whose families can't afford to provide enough nutritious food for them. I think about the abused and broken bodies I read about every day on Facebook, and about the older animals dumped by their 'families' after years of love. I think about the elderly languishing alone in cold, darkened apartments or in nursing homes.

I am saddened and appalled at the ongoing lack of justice our so-called justice system metes out. A youth in Texas steals his family's car, gets drunk and kills four people in a fatal car accident. His defense? He is from a wealthy family and his parents never taught him right from wrong. He allegedly suffers from 'affluenza.' Really. His punishment? Probation and time spent in a country-club facility to correct his 'disease' of being from a wealthy family.

People abuse dogs, cats and horses, and if anything, get probation or community service. Innocent dogs are used as live bait to train fighting dogs. Other animals suffer horrors too terrible to mention. A teenager in Colorado is upset with a teacher, so he takes a gun to school. Unable to find the teacher, he shoots another student in the head at point-blank range. She lingers for a week, then dies four days before Christmas.

Our wilderness, and the animals who inhabit it, are under growing attack. Special interests, such as the oil, gas and coal industries, and their puppets in Congress, want to open vast areas of wilderness to drilling and mining. The well-financed ranchers and their puppets want to strip Endangered Species Act protections from U.S. wolf populations. In Alaska, hunters are legally allowed to set up bait stations to attract grizzly and black bears. As the animals feed, mighty hunters perched in trees shoot the animals. What a great thrill that must be...a feat of real bravado.

Our so-called representatives in government are nothing more than sell-outs to their corporate masters. They vote according to the businesses that give them the most money, rather than reflecting the will of those who elected them. The federal government is the most dysfunctional it has ever been, ignoring the citizens of this country in favor of party politics and posturing.

The human race seems to be going backward in its attitudes toward the world in general, and toward animals in particular. Wild animals are not ours to murder for fun or to hang a trophy head on the wall. They are not to be slaughtered for their tusks or because some cultures believe the penis bones of big cats are aphrodisiacs.

We collectively need to develop a conscience. We need to minimize our impact on the earth and the environment, not rape and plunder it. We need to develop a sense of compassion for one another. Sadly, despite the heroic efforts of environmental champions and animal rescuers, we seem to be losing the battle.

I see little 'peace on Earth' and no goodwill toward anything or anyone that won't make us money. I applaud those who work tirelessly to make a difference in this world, but oftentimes, I feel completely hopeless that things will improve.

Merry Christmas.