Why Getting a New Car Makes Me Sad

New Acadia


This post isn’t so much about getting my new car that we’re trading for later this week. I know most of you really.don’t.care what I drive. You have WAY more important things going on in your life.

This post is about letting go of the old one. 

We bought this Acadia “way back” in the summer of 2009. My life has undergone some dramatic changes in the 5 years I’ve owned it.

I remember showing it to my mom for the first time. It was more than a year later that she passed away.



This is Daisy checking it out right after I brought it home.

RavenThis is Raven. She’s checking out the backseats.

“I don’t really care for these seats, Mother. I prefer a bench seat. Can you take it back?”

None of the dogs who lived with us when I bought this car are alive now. They are all gone. 🙁 And that was less than 5 years ago.

076It was the first MuttMobile.

BasementThe Black Dog Saloon looked like this. (Actually, I don’t know that we had even thought about a Black Dog Saloon yet.)

Charra2 We adopted a new baby, and named her Charra, because she was the color of something that had been ‘charred’.

We didn’t name her Charro because  I did not want someone thinking she would ‘koochie koochie koochie!’ And if you’re too young to know what that means: That’s what they made Google for. 😀

We flipped our first house.

Club 88

Club 88 was born at Daytona Speedway.


And my dear friend Christine and I looked through the world with (blue) colored glasses.

We have a different RV. We’ve started a new business. We have another new project in the works.

And we’d never been to the Florida Keys, had never heard of Key’s Disease, and had no idea how it would change our lives.


So much has changed, yet so much remains comfortingly (is that a word?) the same.

The Acadia has seen us through a lot, and all of it safely. Thank goodness.

If she could talk, what stories would she tell? That I’m a terrible singer, probably. And clumsy. And sometimes not a very good carkeeper. 😉 And that I sometimes forced her to drive over curbs. 

I remember the very first ding.

I was airing up a tire at Casey’s wearing platform shoes. Somehow, I lost my balance on the edge of the curb. (I really, really wish I could tell you this was the first time I’d engaged in curb wrestling.)

To regain balance, I began waiving my arms wildly to save myself. And, BANG! I threw the tire guage right into the side of the car. 😀 Ooops.

As exciting as it is to get a new ride, it’s also sad to say goodbye. It’s funny how cars can become so personal to us.

Is it because we spend so much time in them? So many times, it’s just us and our cars, sort of like a friend. I’ve had light bulb moments when driving that car, and times of great sadness.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very excited about my new ride.

“I’M NOT WORTHY!!!” I thought when I laid eyes on it for the first time.

“I’ll keep you cleaner! I’ll lose my last 20 pounds! I’ll be more professional! I know I’ll be a better person with you!…”

Yes, I really thought all those things about an inanimate object. 😀

Like a New Year, a new ride brings opportunity. It’s sort of a fresh start, a Do-Over, a new adventure. The slate is clean, it’s a chance to right all the wrongs. The Tahoe doesn’t know that I’m clumsy, a messy eater, and bring with me all sorts of black dog hair, which is usually connected to black dogs.

Or that I’m going to stuff it with all sorts of things that I probably shouldn’t. Or that realistically, this is the cleanest it will ever be.

The Acadia learned this, and still carried us tirelessly.

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Fairwell, MuttMobile One. I’ll miss you. Thank you for serving us well. 🙂

5 Easy Tips to Organize Your Photos

We’ve finally arrived at that not-quite-spring-not-quite-winter lull that makes me restless, itching for change, and tired of the status quo. For me, this translates into the urge to organize. In the last 3 weeks, I’ve reorganized my make-up drawer, my pantry, my pots and pans, my socks, the dog food, and a myriad of other little things that escape me at the moment. While they are all very satisfying to me, I’m certain you wouldn’t be the least bit interested. 😀 But I thought you might be interested in this. 

Digital photos can be the skeleton in everyone’s organizational closet.

How many of you have 482 pictures on your SD card that you’ve never bothered to download because now it’s too overwhelming? Or have wonderful pictures on your phone of your kids, your last vacation, etc? How do you get them off your phone? What if you lost your phone? What if your hard drive crashed?

Spring means proms, dances, graduations, reunions, vacations…more and more pictures. Do you have all your pictures made into prints? What if (God forbid) your house burned?

Pictures are the priceless treasures that become the biggest loss. Material things can be replaced. Pictures, and memories, can’t. So, I’m here to help you bring order to all that digital chaos and give you Inner Peace.

At least for your digital disorder. 😉

1. Find an on-line storage system.

Some people use Instagram, and I’m sure there are others. I use Dropbox because I have other files I need to back up. I love Dropbox! (www.dropbox.com).

You receive 2G free when you sign up. You can earn free space by signing your friends up, or for $99 per year, you can purchase additional storage. And still earn free space!

I am a half-wit, and I know this, so I have to plan accordingly. I can never remember to back up files. What if I back them up, then lose whatever I backed them up on? What if my house burns down? What if I forget to back up the files in the first place? What if I’m out of state and need a file and don’t have my laptop OR my back up system?

See how my Inner Hysteria works?

(Did I mention I love Dropbox?)

I store ALL my files on the cloud. I can access my files on ANY computer. If I lose my computer, all my pictures and other files can be accessed by any other computer or my phone.

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Here’s what my Dropbox file looks like. It’s no more difficult than setting up folders in your computer’s Documents.

Dropbox is simple to use, simple to set up files, and also has an option to allow you to share pictures publicly, which is handy. For instance, when my hard drive had to be replaced last fall, the only file I lost was the ZIP file with my niece’s wedding photos, which I hadn’t unzipped and moved to Dropbox. I emailed her, and she resent them..in Dropbox. 🙂

A caveat: if you use Dropbox on your phone, make sure your phone is password-protected so your files aren’t compromised if you lose your phone. Also, never ever allow the browser to save your password if you’re logging in from a public computer.

2. DropSnap.

If you are like me, and take a lot of pictures from your phone but don’t like worrying about transferring them (or figuring out how to do it!),  you will love DropSnap. It’s an app with a one-time fee (I think it’s about $4). Every time I take a photo with my phone,  it automatically uploads to my Camera Upload file in Dropbox. (Yes! Really!)

The downside is for this to work you have to use Dropbox. That doesn’t mean there isn’t another app out there that could do the same thing with what you’re using. It just means I don’t know about it.

My poor little pea-brain (vs. pee brain, which sometimes happens ha ha) can only hold so much stuff and everything else just sort of gets squeezed out. Sort of like the pee…okay, never mind. 😀

3. Organize Your Pictures in Folders. 

I organize all my digital pictures in folders by year.

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See?  By the way, I took this picture with my phone – sorry about the reflection of the window…ooops. The picture then automatically uploaded to my Camera Upload folder, and I used my laptop to place it into this post. Groovy, eh?)

Also, it’s hard to take a picture of a computer screen up close. I think it’s something to do with the pixels. Or at least it was back in the day when I worked in TV. But I digress.

Apparently, 2006 was the year I received a digital camera for Christmas. Which I later lost at the Truman Homecoming when it fell out of my coat pocket when I was riding with my husband in a friend’s Mule and we were careening around corners.


Sorry. 😀

I’ve not had any sugar, I promise. 😉

I then make sub-folders in each year of various events, vacations, etc.

2014-03-17 09.31.14


This is my 2014 folder. More folders will come as the year passes, but I’ve grouped them together to easily find what I’m looking for.

In my Florida folder, I have more folders broken down into locations or subject, such as sunsets or our visit to the Dry Tortugas.

You can get as crazy organizing as you want!

The purpose of this, however,  is to relieve stress and make it easier to find what you’re looking for. I don’t recommend getting ‘analysis paralysis’ and stressing over too many folders. Just categorize them generally.

4. Do a Little At A Time.

If you’re the person who has 482 pictures on your camera…or 3,487 pictures on your hard drive…or 12 SD cards full of pictures…this is going to seem like an overwhelming task.

I get that. I’ve been there.

Whatever you’re planning to do with those pictures, you can still do…it will just make it easier to find them, and easier for you to enjoy them more if they’re more organized. I can whip out my phone and show someone any of my pictures at any time – whether they want to see them or not! BWAH HA HA HA

I’ve been at lunch with former clients who have been talking about doing an update to a room in their house.  I can whip out my phone, pull up the pictures of their room, and boom! We’re right on the same page. (Usually.)

I will NOT be responsible for your friends avoiding you due to picture-fatigue. This is a VERY powerful tool, so please use it responsibly. 😉

Just start wherever you are! The next time you upload pictures, try organizing them. Do NOT get carried away weeding out the crappy ones! Just put them ALL in a folder for now.

The next time you’re stuck on the phone on hold, or listening to Great Aunt Mabel who likes to talk, or your husband is in charge of the TV remote and you hate what he’s watching, weed through them. You can delete the crummy ones, or go back through some of  your older pictures and organize a few more.

I wouldn’t accomplish anything if I didn’t do it a little at a time.  One baby-step at a time will eventually take you down the whole road.

“Chunking it” is the term my friend Michelle uses. Breaking up any overwhelming job into one ‘chunk’ at a time will eventually get it done. 🙂

5. Use Photo Boxes.

Picture box

I used to have about 25 photo albums. These albums took up boxes and totes, and I moved across country with them twice. They were heavy, and guess what? Rarely did I ever go back and look at them.

A few years ago, tired of all the space these albums hogged, I worked one album at a time, removing all the pictures and making files (by year/event/location/subject) in photo boxes. I think I even used shoe boxes!

Now, every paper photo I have ever taken fits into boxes in two totes in the basement. The totes keep them mouse proof and dry if the basement ever floods.

If you have kids, you can sort them into boxes per kid (what a nice keepsake!)

They take up less space, they are easier to move, and all I have to do is pull out a box, search for the year or subject, and pull out the pictures!

My next project is going to be sorting through and digitizing some of my old family pictures so I will have them forever. (That’s probably a project for next winter or the ridiculously hot summer months.)

Family photos

Recently, I took my wedding negatives in to have them digitized, after keeping them in a safety deposit box for years. I can promise you I enjoy them much more in their current format than I ever did in the album!

And if there’s a better way that works for you…fabulous! The whole point is to enjoy all those pictures you’ve taken rather than have them weigh you down.

Happy Organizing!

The Daytona 500: Taking Shelter From the Storm

Today’s NASCAR race in Bristol is on rain-delay, as I write this; three weeks ago we were at the Daytona 500, which was also rain-delayed.  So it’s the perfect time to reminisce and tell you the Rest of the Story of our 2014 Daytona 500 adventure. 🙂

Photo by The Guy With The Hard Card

Photo by The Guy With The Hard Card

Where I last left us in Part One of this story, we were standing under the cover of the speedway grandstands with our friends Tucker and Lisa, listening to the din of pouring rain thundering onto the aluminum grandstands.

It was incredibly crowded; 100,000 race fans in a mile-long grandstand are a LOT of people! Everyone scattered to take shelter, and we watched vehicles and people alike pass by us. We were on ground level, waiting for the pouring rain to let up.

The track had been lost long before now. By “lost”, I mean that there’s no hope of racing until the rain stops, and the jet dryers can do their job. If the rain stopped right at this minute, it would be at least an hour and a half (thanks to the Air Titans) before the race restarted.

Tornado warning radar

This was NASCAR_WXMAN’s 2:38 p.m. radar tweet showing the severe weather just north of us.

As we stood there, the Speedway began broadcasting messages urging fans to clear the grandstands and take shelter from severe weather in the Daytona area.

At 2:57 p.m., I received a text urging us to clear the grandstand and secure campsites due to severe weather in the area.

I don’t know about you guys, but the last place I want to be is stuck here in a panicking crowd,” my husband said. Images of being trampled went through all our minds. We all agreed, and as soon as the rain let up, we made a break for it.

It was still peppering rain. We had about a 15-minute walk back to our camper, and we walked and/or jogged as fast as we could.  There was a lot of standing water everywhere; it had rained so hard for so long it really didn’t have anywhere to go.

This was the first time I’d regretted my choice of footwear.

2014-02-23 11.37.08


I’d worn my rubber Croc sandals; they are comfortable, easy to walk in, and perfect on a hot day. It wasn’t so much the shoes were hard to move in; it was the fact that I’d lotioned my feet well that morning. Now that my feet were wet, they were like little slippery seals.

I could barely keep my shoes on! My feet kept slide sideways, one way or the other, and because my feet are the only part of me that is narrow, occasionally they would slide forward through the straps until the front half of my foot was exposed at the top.

I tried taking my shoes off, but the pavement was rough. Hampered by my shoes and concerned about the weather, it seemed like it took forever to get back to camp.

About 100 yards from the trailer, heavy rain began to fall again. My foot slid completely through my shoe again. I stopped to fix it, gave up, and hobbled on to the trailer.

We looked like drowned rats. 😀

Our friends Peggy and John were already there. They’d come back earlier at the first sign of rain.

At 3:07 p.m., I received another text from the Speedway advising us that we were under a tornado warning.

Although we’d cleaned up camp earlier that day, we’d left the trailer tailgate open. With the threat of severe weather imminent, Jimmy braved the pouring rain to close it while John helped him from the inside.

In the meantime, Speedway fire department personnel drove through the campground with bullhorns, advising anyone in camp to get in your vehicle and fasten seat belts.

2014-02-23 20.59.07This is a picture someone tweeted of a water spout, although the National Weather Service said it was too far away to confirm.

We debated what to do for a second, but looking around, we saw all the items in camp spaces around us which could become missiles in a high wind. A camper is just not the best place to be in a severe weather situation.

Jimmy tossed on dry clothes, he and John grabbed the dogs, and the four six of us piled into the pickup, started the engine and turned the radio on.

There was silence for a minute.

“Should I go get a cooler?” Jimmy asked. He darted in the trailer and returned two minutes later. We had no idea where any of our fellow campers were. Tucker and Lisa opted to head for a restaurant to be inside a building; we saw them drive by.

I texted friends to see where they were, and to see if they were safe. Most were still over at the Speedway.

We sat in the truck, watched it rain, and toasted life. And adventures in Daytona.

Potholes. Jet-dryer crashes. The first ever rain-out. Wow.

2014-02-23 15.32.40

This whole adventure seemed sort of surreal. Daytona is, if nothing else, full of surprises.

Ultimately, we all decided that if it was our time to leave this world, we were at least all together. Jimmy and I were together, we had our dogs with us, and two of our best friends who also happen to be our dogs’ godparents were there. We were all doing something we loved. What more could you ask for, really?

At 3:37 p.m., I received a text that the coast was clear and that the threat of severe weather had left the Speedway.

Thank goodness.

John and Peggy headed back to St. Augustine around 5 p.m. After the “36 Hours of Daytona” two years ago, they opted to watch the rest of it at home. Our friends Eugene and John also left, since they were planning on heading for him the following morning. (Gene, always resourceful, had found  a sheltered dry spot in the Speedway; he and John remained completely dry the whole time!)

The following day, the Weather Channel posted an unflattering article about the Speedway and the lack of notice to the fans.

Would I have left the Speedway earlier if I’d known there was lightning nearby? I’d like to think so, but at the end of the day, who really knows?

In spite of several years of emergency management and planning experience, we still found ourselves in this position. It was a series of decisions – and not all of them bad – based on the information that we had at the time that put us in this situation.

This storm blew up fast.

At approximately 8:30 p.m., the green flag dropped and we were racing again.  With an ongoing threat of rain, drivers weren’t holding back. It was a really exciting race, in which the lead changes and green flag passing broke track records. Once the race got beyond the halfway point, whoever was in the lead when it rained would be the winner.

Emergency vehicles

You just never know. That’s Daytona. 🙂

I Had A Message From God Today

3.14.14This was not the post I intended to write today. And this picture really doesn’t have anything to do with the post. And yet, it has everything to do with it. I’ll explain.

I had a life-altering experience earlier this morning, and it wasn’t yet 9:00 a.m.! It affected me so profoundly, so deeply, that I immediately had to come home and write about it.

I had a 9:00 a.m. conference call with a state committee of which I am a member. I had missed the last few, so I felt it was really important for me to participate today.

Sure, I had meant to get around earlier and get to the gym, but things got in the way. An early morning lack of prioritizing left me rushed. (As much as I’d like to blame someone else here, like my dogs, or my husband who wasn’t even home at the time – it was no one’s fault but my own.)

“If I hurry, I can squeeze in my workout and still make it home in time,” I told myself.

It was on the way home that life-altering moment happened.

I had my phone with me, and I was looking through emails and alternately watching the road. (Guess where this is going?)  While this sounds perfectly ridiculous as I write this, in my mind I was saving time.

“I’ll pull up that email with the call-in information, and then when I get home, I can just run in and dial the number and I won’t be late!“, is what I was thinking to myself. (Am I the only one who’s had such an idiotic thought? Or just the only one who’s brave enough to out myself?)  😉

I was on a fairly straight section of road, glancing up and down quickly between my phone and the road. The last time I looked up at the road, I had ventured too close to the right side. Ooops! I corrected, and kept my eyes on the road ahead as it was starting to get hilly.

Less than two seconds later, I popped over a small hill.

On the shoulderless right side of the road, pedaling along and minding his own business, was a bicyclist. He was blissfully unaware that a  quarter of a mile and 5 seconds earlier and I would have splatted him up over the front of my car.

My heart stopped. I laid my phone down in my lap, stunned. Thanks be to God, who’d allowed me to dodge a bullet.

I’m usually pretty careful. When I’m in town, I’m cautious not to be looking at my phone on a busy street, or to even look at it when I’m on unfamiliar roads or in traffic. But this was my road. It was familiar. I know this road, I’ve driven it a million times.

Yes, our road is curvy,  parts of it are hilly, it has no shoulder, and isn’t really suitable for biking. And people do it all the time!

But that doesn’t negate my responsibility to watch out for them, or anything else that may be in the road.

I believe the Universe gives us signs all the time. I believe that our purpose here is to learn, and that life gives us lessons to help us grow. If we ignore those lessons (or signs) they keep getting bigger and bigger or louder and louder. If you still refuse to learn, life simply forces you to. That’s when bad things happen.

How did it get this way, that being connected to technology became so much more important than life itself? It makes us hurry. It makes us frazzled. And because we have so little time to connect in a personal way, that we settle for simply connecting via technology.

Technology has put me in touch with friends that I’d not seen in years, wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and I love that. I can easily stay in touch with friends who live far away, to see what’s happening in their lives and with their kids; I see my friends having fun on vacation and admire their beautiful pictures. I love all that too.

Technology has simplified our lives, and certainly made life in the business world easier. But it’s also complicated our lives, made our schedules faster, and given us more stress.

As a REALTOR®, my phone is my lifeline. With my phone, I can do business anywhere. Rarely will you see a REALTOR® anywhere without their phone. It’s a choice we make to do our jobs.

I love my job. I love what I do. And I love people, most of the time.

Sometimes people don’t respect us or what we do. I worked with someone once who had decided to buy a house. I’d shown her a couple, and we’d spoken several times. She got ready to make an offer, and she called me. I wasn’t available at the time, so without leaving a message, she disconnected and immediately called another agent to write the offer.

In our fast, fast connected world, the early bird gets the worm. Having my phone at my hip is a hard, hard habit to break.

But today was a wake-up call for me.

Life is precious, and it is not measured by conference calls or contracts.

So if you call and I don’t answer, perhaps it’s because I’m choosing to put safety first; not only mine, but the lives of others.

Thank you God, for letting me squeak by today, and for showing me this lesson. I needed that. 🙂

And my conference call? It was canceled for lack of a quorum. 😀

Titan: One Week Later

Titan with Toys

I feel badly for people who believe canines are “just dogs”.

In our hustle-bustle busy world, taking time to connect with a pet is like a blessing from God. It’s a quiet joy, really, that puts you in touch with nature and reminds you of what’s really important.

Statistically, having a relationship with a pet even improves your health!

We’ve been experiencing a lot of quiet joys this week since Titan came along.

I took the picture above just this morning. We can tell he’s starting to fill out just a little bit. He’s starting to look ‘fluffier’. His coat is shiny, and looks healthier already.

Home from Vet

This is Mr. Man on the ride home from the vet. He has a quiet intensity in his eyes that speaks volumes. And makes me laugh sometimes.

Like when he looks at me, and I can totally tell with his eyes that he’s saying, “I don’t like this leash.” 😀

He had some wounds on his face from a tussle with something, but those have pretty much healed. Hopefully the fur will grow back in; it’s amazing he didn’t lose an eye. Whatever he fought with gave him a pretty good fight.

First TimeWelcome, Titan!

When I brought him home from the vet, I had to work at it a little to get him over the threshold. I’m guessing it was his first time ever to be inside.

He was all fresh and clean from his first bath. He’d spent nearly 24 hours hooked up to IV’s, had what was probably his first shots, and came home with four medications: antibiotics, pain pills (for his swollen, sore infected feet), and ear drops for both his infected ears. He was also anemic, so we’ve been giving him an iron supplement all week. And what a good boy! He stands perfectly still for all his meds, and has from the very first day.

He knows we’re helping him. He knew that from the beginning.

Meeting Ekko

He was encouraged to see we had other dogs. Ekko (AKA Miss Leadpants) was excited. Now she had someone to play with!

Except Titan wasn’t well enough to play.

Charra? Well, let’s just say for Charra, he was irrelevant, for the most part.

And he’s still irrelevant, unless he is near where she is. And then she’s cranky.

He discovered dog beds! Soft, fluffy dog beds. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…..

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Some of us snore, some of us sleep with our tongues sticking out. 😉

Jim's clothes

Clothes will do in a pinch.


“I’m ready for my close-up  now.”

For the first several days, he rested most of the time. Sleep and rest were the best things for him.

We worked on crate training and gently getting on a consistent schedule. Until last night, the only peep we ever heard from him was the first night. He objected to being crated in a different room than us; and he objected to the door on the crate being shut.

Now, he’s used to his crate, and does really well. He’s tried to tell me a couple of times that he should be able to stay out like the big girls.

“No, Titan, until little boys learn not to potty in the house, they have to be crated.”


“You’re boring me, Mother.”

Each day brings a new change now. On Monday, he began to play.


Yesterday, he began to tease me by trying to ‘get’ the laundry I’m folding.


He has also started barking at cars that go by.

In other words, he is acting like a puppy again. 🙂 That is a very good sign.

Housebreaking is coming along; as with any puppy, it is a slippery slope. At this point in the game, he is still learning to ‘signal’ us when he has to go. Sometimes he’ll go to the door; sometimes he’ll just go to the other room. Sometimes he’ll go on the deck and just stand there, until I walk out and ‘encourage’ him to step off the deck.

Each day brings improvement.

And poor Daddy still doesn’t do it right. 😉

When I first brought him home, I took him outside to potty for the first time. He didn’t know what I was doing yet, and assumed he was going to have to stay outside. (Really, what else did he know?)

He skulked behind my tall pampas grass and crawled into it and laid down to hide.

It was what he knew, what he thought he was supposed to do. 🙁

In the beginning, he hated going outside the house; he was afraid he would never get back in.

Sitting up

He is a handsome, sweet little boy.

He still doesn’t like the snow. (Can you blame him?)

He is scared of the dark. I can’t blame him for that either. How many dark, scary cold nights did he spend alone, and afraid?

We’ll never know.

He will probably always have some little quirks associated with his experience.

His growth may be stunted from severe malnutrition.

Whoever adopts him will probably always have to be careful with their trash. Nearly starving to death has made him opportunistic. Only time will tell if that ever goes away.

What I DO know is that he will remain ever grateful and appreciative of the opportunity to be loved, and not squander that opportunity.

It’s what makes rescues so special. It’s like they know. They remember.

I’ve had several people suggest that he’s home already. Without a doubt, we love him and are really enjoying him here. BUT…(there’s always a but, isn’t there?)

I made a promise.

I promised my husband that if we took him in, that I would find a home for him and that we wouldn’t keep him.

Where is trust if you can’t keep your promises? What does your word mean if you don’t stay true to it?

If we kept Titan, I couldn’t help anybody else. What do you think he would say the next time? Probably the same thing anyone else would say:

“I’ve heard this before!”

And so, once he has gained weight and been out in the world a little bit (as well as gotten neutered and the rest of his shots), we’ll work at finding a furever home for this most-deserving little boy. 🙂

Rescuing Titan


 “Saving just one dog won’t change the world, but surely it will change the world for that one dog.”

(My apologies to whomever originally said that; I have no idea who you are.)



Titan was almost done for, and he knew it.

He’d been on his own for quite some time. A tussle with something left him injured, and his paws were so swollen and sore that he was no longer able to hunt to feed himself.

He’d eeked out an existence for a few days, stealing food from Joe and Leslie’s bird feeders and eating what little snow was on the ground prior to Winter Storm Titan’s approach. During the artic cold front with temperatures well below zero that came after the storm, he’d sought shelter under their porch.

It was after that they found him.

Wandering in the driveway, gaunt, his front paws swollen to almost double their size, he was quiet. Almost…resigned to his fate.

They took him into their garage, wrapped him with blankets, and gave him food and water. He was literally starving.

Joe and Leslie are friends of mine. She messaged me and sent pictures, asking if I knew of anyone who might want a BBD (big black dog.) He was only a puppy, they knew, but of course puppies grow up. They were not able to keep him, and were going to take him to the shelter the following day.

I can’t explain it. I felt a connection to him. And, I knew at the shelter he would be immediately euthanized.

Our local shelter has the same problem most shelters do: struggling with tight budgets, their limited resources have to be devoted toward saving the most animals possible. That means they have to make hard decisions: to save the ones they can, who are immediately adoptable.  They simply don’t have the resources to devote toward medical care for one dog.

Titan had another strike against him too: he is black.

It’s a universal statistic among all shelters and rescues that the black dogs, especially the BBD’s, are among the last to be adopted. They linger on, growing older and larger, until someone comes along and adopts them or, needing the space, the shelter has to euthanize them.

I’m not really sure why it’s so hard to adopt a black dog. They are difficult to photograph well (I can testify to this), I suppose they can be intimidating, and maybe they’re just not as interesting and attractive as some of their multi-colored cousins.

Because of this, Jimmy and I have kind of become champions for BBD’s. We look for the ones who are the least adoptable.

Our dogs are the ones no one else wanted.


Back to Titan.

I named him Titan, not only because he’d survived Winter Storm Titan, but also after NASCAR’s new jet dryers, the Air Titans. They are strong, and can dry a race track in 90 minutes or less.

If Titan survives, I hope he becomes as strong as those jet dryers.

I met him for the first time yesterday. I had Joe and Leslie meet me at Dr. Lindquist’s office. I had a feeling he was going to need medical care.

He was very quiet. And he was in worse condition than I thought. He was very malnourished, and he barely moved. But I could see love in those eyes, and his tail wagged briefly several times.

At least it was warm. And there were nice people feeding him, and loving on him. His vital signs were good, his plumbing was still functioning, but he had ear infections, and several wounds that were infected.

He felt so crummy that even when Dr. Webb cleaned his ears and went spelunking for a stool sample, he groaned but didn’t move. Except when she tried to look at his swollen feet. One of them could barely support his weight: all 27.6 pounds.

He spent last night hooked up to an IV, receiving fluids and antibiotics. As of this morning, he was eating well, still taking fluids, but had been wagging his tail. (While the technician I spoke to had been off yesterday, apparently everyone at the clinic knows Titan’s story.)

He had yet to be examined by Dr. Lindquist, and he was going to be given a bath. I’m expecting an update soon, and I’ll find out if he’s well enough to be released yet.

For a little boy who’s only about 6 months old, his life has gotten off to a really rotten start.

If he survives, he’ll come home with me and learn what it’s like to have the security of a family, food, a warm bed, and friends, both the human and canine kind.

When he’s well enough, we’ll find a loving home for this special little boy.

And Titan will always be special.

He’ll never be able to live life as an outside dog. After the mental and physical challenges he’s been through just to survive, I can’t imagine a loving family wanting him to. He deserves more.

As a young puppy, he survived a very high fever, such as distemper. It killed the enamel production on his teeth, which means that he may have to have them extracted as he ages. That shouldn’t change the quality of his life though; it just means he will have to eat soft foods.

I have no idea what’s going to happen with Titan, or where this road is going to lead us.

Sometimes you just have to keep the faith, know that there’s a grander plan at work behind the scenes and we can’t possibly have all the answers.

But for now, things are as they are supposed to be. It’s in God’s hands, and so is Titan.

Severe Weather At the Daytona 500 2014

I’m baaaackk! Poor internet connectivity (the woes of having a regional carrier) is the reason I’ve been missing in action the last few weeks. Rest assured, “management” is working on the problem. Management being me, of course. 😀

Photo by @pixelcrisp

Photo by @pixelcrisp

It’s Daytona.

If you’ve ever visited Daytona International Speedway, you were probably awestruck by it’s size and historical significance. It wouldn’t take you long to learn that the racing is unpredictable, unexpected, scary sometimes, and exciting.

The weather is the same way. February in central Florida is like May in the Midwest: anything can happen! This was our 11th Daytona 500. Every year, there’s at least one storm which goes, or has the potential to go severe.  (Hence, it didn’t take us long to learn that it was WAY too much work to decorate a campsite to only have to take it all back down again.)

Speedway personnel had been through our campground (on Speedway property just outside turns 1 and 2) on one occasion prior to Speedweeks to warn campers to ‘button down the hatches’.

In camper-speak, that means to roll up your awnings and put away anything that could blow away (e.g. become a missile in high winds.) This wasn’t our first rodeo: preparing the campsite and staying on top of the weather is something we’ve done over and over again.

2014-02-21 10.47.32For instance, this is way too much crap to have out in high winds. And notice no one has their awning out? Unless you stake it down, putting out your awning is asking for trouble.

So anyway, business had been picking up steadily as Speedweeks neared. On Wednesday before the 500, the town and Speedway grew even busier as the infield opened. There’s an excitement in the air, which increases day by day as the culmination of hard work, preparation, and the anticipation of a new season of racing grows near.

The day of the race dawned sunny and warm, with only a few passing clouds. It was going to be a perfect day for racing!

Things start happening early around the campsite. Friends who are driving in from another locale arrive between 9 and 10 a.m. to avoid traffic. The Goodyear blimp flies over, as well as planes towing banners. There’s various pools and wagers amongst friends. And a bittersweet awareness that while this is the day we’ve all been waiting for, it’s also the end of the road for our Campground Gang to be together until next time.

About an hour before race time, my friend Peggy and I began making preparations.

2014-02-23 11.37.08

There was only a 40% chance of rain in the forecast for that afternoon. However, Speedway personnel came through to alert campers of the possibility of severe weather. With the exception of closing the tailgate of our toy hauler, my husband loaded the Harley (we were leaving the next day anyway) and we secured the camp.

As race time grew near, cloud cover began to build, but the radar remained clear. We left for our seats around 1:00 p.m.; by that time, the campground was nearly a ghost town. We arrived at our seats just after the flyover, and in time to see the beginning caution laps.

Green, Green, Green!

Green, Green, Green!

Because Twitter is where I get most of my up-to-the-minute news, especially on race days, I jumped back and forth between it and the radar.

Brian Neudorff, a meteorologist in Idaho who refers to himself NASCAR’s unofficial weatherman, (@NASCAR_WXMAN) had been expecting the possibility of a rain delay for a couple of days.

At 1:40 p.m. Brian tweeted “anticipated storms were forming [ESE] of the track…are about 2 hours away with more possible to form.” It was apparently during this time frame the Daytona FanCam shot this picture of everyone in the stands, which shows me checking the Twitter feed. (Wonderful. At least I was in my seat.)

Daytona FanCam shot

Daytona FanCam shot

At 1:48 p.m., Brian tweeted “Danger, Will Robinson!” Radar update, cell popped up 8 miles WSW of Track.”

I checked my NOAA radar, which showed it as a very small system, mostly green with just a touch of yellow. This was not a big deal, and looked to be a passing shower.

At 1:58 p.m., I read Brian’s tweet which had been sent at 1:51 p.m.: Rain is about 3 to 8 min out WSW with in 3 miles of @DISupdates as of 1:51 pm ET. It’s always the rain you don’t see…

Well, pooh, by that time, it was very nearly there. I really didn’t want to get wet. And if you’re wondering how I missed the tweet…there was action happening on the track. There was a race going on, remember?

I told Jimmy a shower was coming; he said, “You’d better put your raincoat on.”

As I put my jacket on, we began to feel sprinkles. The field was under caution at the time, although not for rain. I saw a tweet that said Danica had asked her crew chief if she should come in for fuel and tires; he told no, that it was going to pour shortly.

I passed that information along to Jimmy, and told him I was headed in. I wasn’t going to sit in the pouring rain!

Yes, I am a fair weather race fan.

“Give me your rain jacket,” he said. (Only one of us brought rain gear that day.) I passed off the coat, and grabbed my bag. It was starting to pepper rain at this point.

@nascar_wxman update

@nascar_wxman update

This is a radar image I missed that day via Twitter. That cell was much smaller on my NOAA app. Either my radar image hadn’t been updated and I didn’t notice, or the cell simply blew up really quickly.

If I’d seen this coming, I would have definitely headed back to camp!

The hallway had started to fill with other people taking refuge from the rain. I saw my friend (and fellow camper) Lisa  standing in the hall as well. It seemed like we stood there for a long time, but the reality was that it was probably only about 10 minutes.

On the track, the race had been red-flagged.

We heard the jet dryers go out, and surmised this would probably stop soon.

But wait. This is Daytona.

And so, the rain increased. Most of the people who were seated outside began to filter in. The narrow walkway in which we stood grew packed, and we were all elbow-to-elbow as people squeezed through. Jimmy came in as well as Lisa’s husband Tucker. Shortly thereafter, the skies opened.

Photo by @frankfff

Photo by @frankfff

The picture above was taking in a different tower, but this is exactly how it looked when we were there. We were standing up against the rail in the inside hallway.

At 2:34 p.m, I found a text from my friend Peggy; she and her husband John had already headed back to camp, and were in our trailer with our dogs. I remember thinking that’s exactly where I wished I was at that moment.

Water began pouring in between the bottom of the bleachers and on top of us.

“Let’s go downstairs!” Jimmy yelled over the noise of the rain and crowd of people, and the four of us made our way through the crowded narrow walkway downstairs to the front portion of the grandstand which faced the street.

Photo by @The_Dave_Cave

Photo by @The_Dave_Cave

Although this picture was taken in a different tower, it looked exactly like this where we were: large crowds of people moving in all directions. I wanted to grab a shot as we were going downstairs, but there was a whole crowd of people behind me. I didn’t think it was wise to hold up a long train of scurrying people!

(When you’re a blogger, life itself becomes almost like a documentary.)

At this point, we were only damp. (Well, I was slightly more than damp; my jacket which had kept my husband completely dry was soaked, and I got wetter as I wrestled it on.)

Once we got to street level, we stood watching crowds of people go by. I took a selfie of the four of us as we stood there. Wait. There was four of us. Is that a groupie? 😉

The selfie

The selfie.

My poor husband. He smiles for like, a nano-second, then loses patience over how long it takes the shutter to snap and starts talking. Unless I sneak up on him or he’s not looking at the camera, he’s talking. Every.single.time.

A track or sponsor official happened by (he was someone important because he had a ‘hard card’ – an all access pass which gets you in anywhere at every race) and kindly offered to take a picture. We still have no idea who he was.

Photo by The Guy With The Hard Card

Photo by The Guy With The Hard Card

We remained there for what seemed like an eternity as it poured. We could hear thunder.

And yes, I’m still wearing my headset. The announcers stopped broadcasting and there was nothing to listen to. In all the excitement, I forgot to take it off.

We saw vehicles go by driving Betty Jane France away from the Speedway (or so my husband said, I didn’t actually see who was in the car.) Other vehicles with dark windows went by. We felt this was a pretty good indicator we were going to have some free time on our hands.

At 2:57 p.m., I received the first of two texts from the Speedway advising us to evacuate the grandstands, take cover, and secure campsites.

Although we could barely hear the announcements over the loudspeaker, announcers were also advising people to evacuate the grandstands and take shelter. It was still pouring, but the radar looked like there was going to be a brief clearing shortly.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I would rather make a break for camp rather than stay here if people start to panic,” Jimmy said matter-of-factly.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this Never-A-Dull-Moment-in-Daytona Day!