One Year Old Vizsla Mix Brothers Need Rescuing. They Are In A High Kill Shelter in South Carolina.

UPDATE:  Yenny and Yeller have been adopted and will stay together!  Thanks to everyone who sent this around on social media!

I just saw these in one of my Vizsla Facebook groups. I wish I’d seen it sooner. It was posted at 7:30 p.m., California time.  I trust this information to be accurate and there is no indication they’ve been adopted or rescued.  Please help if you can!  Retweet, share, etc!   I have no additional information but you can tweet me at @hipEchik if you think I can help at all.  Thank you!  Note, the Darlington Facebook page lists them twice as “Yeller” but verifies their time is up today.

This great boy is listed as a Viszla mix in a high kill shelter in South Carolina. His 30 day stay is up today, 8/5/15, and he’s at risk to be put to sleep. He has a brother I will post as well. They are available for adoption or rescue asap. Please see the information on the flyer and help if you can.

This great boy is listed as a Viszla mix in a high kill shelter in South Carolina. His 30 day stay is up today,  8/5/15, and he’s at risk to be put to sleep. He’s available for adoption or rescue asap, as is his brother who I also shared on this site. Please see the contact information on the flyer and help if you can. They are both great boys!

Whiskey Tango Facebook

I cannot take it anymore.  This is the first in a series on social media etiquette.  I work and interact in social media. I’ve seen a lot.  Much of it is good, some is bad, and occasionally, it’s horrid.  I find myself saying, Whiskey Tango Facebook far too often.  I’ve made errors myself and, I’ve learned from them.   If you choose to read this, know that it comes from first hand experience.   Hopefully this advice will cause you to think before you post.

The event that precipitated this post is something that I’ve seen time and again. In fact, it’s happened to me.  Yesterday, another friend found out about his parent’s hospitalization via a public Facebook post.   It upset him, it upset me and it’s time someone writes about it.  I tend to eschew the posting of social media “rules” but, some basic SoMe etiquette guidance is obviously in order.  One should never find out about the serious illness or death of a close friend of family member via social media…EVER!

In my experience, the offenders of this rule are not the much maligned millennials.  I have some words of wisdom for them also but this particular post is directed at those older and ahem, wiser folks.  So, let’s get to the meat of the matter.

There is no way to dance around this; some families are dysfunctional. Sometimes there are family issues so messy that it precludes a personalized phone call.   I understand this.  Still, it is simply unacceptable to find out about the serious illness of a relative on Facebook.  Posting about a death before all family members and close friends have been notified is also verboten. It should go without saying but, it happens.   A text message is not ok either (unless you all decide as a family that this is how you will communicate).   A serious illness, hospitalization and especially a death require a phone call.   Yes, I said “require.”

Requirements though are often dismissed when there is a family dynamic such that certain people do not “speak” to one another.  If that’s your situation, you must find a solution that takes this into account.  If you know that a phone call is impossible, you must have another plan.  First, I suggest that you find an impartial person (an aunt or uncle, niece or nephew) that is designated as the communications person for the family.   I encourage having a back up person as well.   This sounds simple but it can be a bit complex as the designated “comms” person will have to have HIPAA authority, (legal authority to obtain private medical information), as to the status of the health of the family member. Without getting too far in the weeds, HIPAA is the law that protects patient confidentiality.  Everyone should have a person or two that is designated (in writing), to be the recipient of a patient’s medical information.  In other words, have a point person for medical personnel to be able to legally disclose medical information to.  Most hospitals and Dr. Offices will have HIPAA waiver forms.  The forms must be filled out before there is an emergent situation.  A copy must be on file with the patient’s hospital and Dr but I also suggest that the family communications person also carry a hard copy of the HIPAA release with them.  All of this requires some pre emergency planning.

For the severely dysfunctional family that can not manage a phone call, here’s an idea worth exploring and yes, it involves Facebook.  You can create a closed Facebook group for such eventualities.  You need not even be Facebook friends to be in a group together.  Such a group, for example, could be called “The Smith Family Medical Group.”   Everyone sets their notifications for the group to ON.  The person who is the designated communicator can then post the details of an illness or other emergency in that group.  When I say details, I do so purposefully.  The post should include ALL the specifics of what is known about the patient.  The following could be an example of such a post:

“Dear All:  This is to let you know that Dad (Jim) is at Cedar General Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  His Dr. Is Susan Jones, M.D.  The phone number to the nurse’s station is 555-555-5555.  He is currently in the surgical ward being evaluated for possible gallstones.  He is stable and they are managing his pain.  He had an ultrasound and they are discussing the benefits and risks of a possible surgery.    If they decide to go forward with the surgery, they will do it via laparoscopy so the incisions and the recovery time will be easier.  He’s also on intravenous antibiotics (and they do know of his allergy to Penicillin).  He’s currently on a liquid only diet.  The surgeon will evaluate him at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time tomorrow, Tuesday, June 5th.  We will know more then and I will update in this group immediately after we know something more.

Dr. Jones asks that family not call his room at this time as he is sedated from the pain medication and sleep is the best thing for him.  I am the point person and Joe is the back up.  One of us will keep you informed if anything changes prior to the above appointment.  If you have any questions, please post below and I will ask the Dr. tomorrow.  That’s what we know at the moment.  He’s doing fine, is not in horrible pain and they will decide on a treatment plan tomorrow.   I will be in touch shortly thereafter.  As specified in our group rules (above in the doc), please LIKE or comment once you have seen this.  Please do not post anything in the public timeline on social media until all group members have seen this.  After that, remember dad’s wishes for privacy and keep everything on social media in general terms.

Thanks all.  Tracy. “

In other words, if you go this route, be specific, clear and cautious.  Take time to think of all of the questions you would have if you were on the receiving end of such a message. DO have some group rules decided upon before hand and posted in the group document.   It’s not ideal, but with so many extended families, dysfunctional families and people that do not use common sense on social media, it’s the best I could come up with.  Perhaps you can think of something better.  If so, go for it but whatever you decide, make sure all family members (yes, even that person) knows, is on board, and that the “rules” are clear.

Oddly enough the aforementioned, much maligned millennials seem to have grasped some of the SoMe etiquette better than the Gen Xers, the in-betweeners and the Baby Boomers.   Worry not.  I have equal generational critique enough to go around.  For example, I plan on addressing how the (much maligned) millennials have no freaking clue how to write a snail mail thank you note.  That is another post entirely and one I plan on writing soon.

Please, do not wait until this becomes an issue for your family.  Make a plan, set up some guidelines and make sure all concerned persons are on board.  Duke it out before there is an illness, accident or death.  When that time comes, it’s stressful enough without letting SoMe drama exacerbate the already stressful time. No one ought to be the recipient of bad news regarding a family member via social media.  Share this post far and wide.  Get a plan, and use it.  Please and thank you.

Dear Congressperson, why have you not co-sponsored HR620 re Tahmooressi?

Dear We The People:  If you have this blog in hand, please tweet, email and/or call all of the members of this committee who have not co-sponsored (signed) HR620.  The twitter handles are indicated below and there is also a “Contact Congress” link for those representatives or supporters who are not on twitter By doing so,  you resolve as I do, that you stand with Andrew and you will not rest until he is free.  If you have any questions, please contact me on twitter at @hipEchik or Olivia Hammar at @HammarOlivia , or comment on this blog post.

Major Update:  There will be a hearing on Sgt. Tahmooressi’s case on 10/1/14 and make no mistake, our social media army made this happen!  Thank you all.  The hearing is essentially the next step is passing the resolution. It provides a public forum for testimony.  That said, we still need as many members of the House of Representatives to sign so please, keep it up!

Dear Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee :

As you know, HR620 has been introduced but not co-sponsored by all members of your committee.  Please see the roll call as of September 7, 2014 below.  We the people do not understand why at least all members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs have not co-sponsored this resolution.  Additionally, please note that Fernando Benitez, Sgt. Tahmooressi’s lawyer, has indicated that passage of this simple resolution may hold weight with the Mexican judge and expedite his release.   There are no sanctions against Mexico included in this resolution and frankly, we are befuddled as to why we cannot get a simple resolution signed and passed.  There is compelling evidence that Sgt. Tahmooressi simply made a wrong turn into Mexico that fateful night and yet all of our efforts to help him have been for naught.  To date, Marine Sgt. Tahmooressi has been imprisoned in Mexico for more than 5 months.   As the days and then months have gone by, Sgt. Tahmooressi has become increasingly despondent over his imprisonment.  He desperately needs medical care for his PTSD incurred while he was honorably serving our Nation as a two tour combat Marine.  Indeed, his PTSD is the reason Sgt. Tahmooressi came to San Diego as he was not getting the care from the V.A. in his home State of Florida that he was told he could get at the La Jolla V.A. Health Center.  We are once again appealing to you to co-sponsor HR 620, a politically benign resolution, that may well help Andrew gain his freedom. If there is a reason why each of you will not co-sponsor this, please indicate why.  Sgt. Tahmooressi’s next court appearance is tomorrow, September 9th, 2014 and we would like to present the judge with as many signatures as we have and as we can gain today.   This has become an urgent matter and we plead with you to co-sponsor,  put the bill on the suspension calendar and pass this resolution.

HR 620 States the following :

“H.Res.620 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Mexico should immediately release United States Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi and provide for his swift return to the United States so Sgt. Tahmooressi can receive the appropriate medical assistance for his medical condition. “

Please see the tweet from Sgt. Tahmooressi’s lawyer indicating that passage of HR620 could expedite his return home:

HR620 Tahmooressi

These Members have already co-sponsored

Update Steve Stockman – R – TX has signed.  Thank you Rep Stockman

Update Scott Perry – R – PA has signed.  Thank you Rep Perry

Update Edward Royce – R- CA – Chairman has signed.  Thank you Rep Royce.

Update:  Tulsi Gabbard – D – HI has signed!  Thank you Rep Gabbard

Update: Jeff Duncan – R – SC  has signed!  Thank you Rep Duncan.


Juan Vargas – D – CA – has signed!  Thank you Rep. Vargas

Ami Bera – D – CA – has signed!  Thank you Rep. Bera

Curt Clawson – R -FL – has signed!  Thank you Rep. Clawson

Doug Collins – R – GA  –  has signed.  Thank you Rep. Collins

Joseph P Kennedy – D – MA –  has signed.  Thank you Rep. Kennedy

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen – R – FL

Dana Rohrabacher –  R – CA

Ted Poe – R – TX

Edward Royce – R- CA – Chairman

Matt Salmon – R – AZ

Tom Marino – R – PA

Mo Brooks – R – AL

Paul Cook – R – CA

Randy Weber – R – TX

Ron DeSantis – R – FL

Mark Meadows – R – NC

Ted Deutch – D – FL

Albio Sires – D – NJ

Chris Smith – R-NJ

23 members have not co-sponsored

Sean Duffy – R – WI – @RepSeanDuffy

Eni Faleomavaega – D – American Samoa (No Twitter) See Contact List Below

Brad Sherman – D – CA – @BradSherman

Gregory W Meeks – D – NY @GregoryMeeks

Gerald E. Connolly – D – VA @GerryConnolly

Brian Higgins – D – NY – @RepBrianHiggins

Karen Bass – D – CA – @RepKarenBass

William Keating D – MA – @USRepKeating

David Cicilline – D – RI – @DavidCicilline

Alan Grayson – D – FL – @AlanGrayson

Bradley Schneider – D – IL – @RepSchneider

Alan S Lowenthal – D – CA – @RepLowenthal

Grace Meng – D – NY – @RepGraceMeng

Lois Frankel – D _ FL – @RepLoisFrankel

Joaquin Castro – D – TX – @JoaquinCastrotx

Eliot Engel – D – NY – Ranking Member – @RepEliotEngel

Steve Chabot – R – OH – @RepSteveChabot

Joe Wilson – R – SC – @RepJoeWilson

Michael T McCaul – R – TX – @McCaulPressShop

Adam Kinzinger – R – IL @RepKinzinger *  Veteran. Air Force Pilot. Still serving in the Guard.  What say you Rep Kinzinger ?

Tom Cotton – R – AK – @RepTomCotton

George Holding – R – NC @RepHolding

Ted Yoho – R – FL – @RepTedYoho

To each of you that have not co-sponsored, again I ask why not?  This is not a complex bill nor one that would cause any of you political harm in the upcoming mid-term elections. Frankly, it causes me to wonder about this 113th Congress when we the people cannot even elicit a response on such a simple matter.  As the wife of a combat Marine veteran, I know more than a bit about the struggles Sgt. Tahmooressi is going through.  That said, I cannot possibly know how Sgt. Tahmooressi must feel to have his Country seemingly abandon him when he fought so honorably for her.

For the sake of relative brevity, I shall leave this as is.  I close with this appeal.  On the week of the 13th anniversary of 911, with many of us worried about our Nation’s security,  I cannot fathom the thought of Sgt. Tahmooressi spending this anniversary of the very attack that precipitated him going to war languishing in a Mexican prison.  I Stand With Andrew and I will not rest until he is free.  You can assume that everyone who sends, tweets, and emails this to you resolves the same.

Please co-sponsor this resolution and feel free to contact me on twitter at @hipEchik or Olivia Hammar at @HammarOlivia if you have any questions, concerns, or comments.  Thank you, Semper Fi and God Bless and Protect these United States of America.

Contact Congress (emails and phone numbers) for those advocates and/or Congressmen not on twitter

Many thanks to Olivia Hammar for doing the research for this post.

Andrew Fought For Me...


We have asked you to circulate a petition to President Obama and gather at least 100,000 signatures.  You’ve done that.  While we are awaiting his (hopeful) response we feel we must help Andrew on many fronts.  With that in mind, we are once again asking for your assistance.  It is time for all citizens to contact their elected representatives.  Some of you are familiar with doing this and others may not be.  Fear not, we will walk you through the process.

1)      Find your representatives.  Every citizen has one U.S. Congressperson and two Senators.  We ask that you write, call and possibly tweet all of them.

For starters, enter your zip code on this site, hit enter and it will bring up both your Congressperson and two Senators

You now have your three representatives.  Click on the name of the first representative and it will take you to all of his/her contact information.  Included you will see their DC Address, phone number, Fax number, email contact form, their website information (which generally includes their Facebook page) and, their twitter user name.  You will also see choices for their local office contact information.  It is up to you whether you choose to contact their D.C. office or their local office, or both.

Next, return to the homepage (above).  Click on your next representative and repeat the above steps.  Finally, return to the homepage, click on your third representative and repeat.

Now, draft your correspondence or phone your representative.  It is unlikely you will reach your representative directly but, you can try.  If not, please leave a message for them.

Finally, you may choose to tweet or Facebook them.  Most of Congress is on twitter and/or Facebook.

The most effective channels of communicating with Congress, in order, is as follows:

1)      A “Snail Mail” letter.  These letters are logged and recorded and must be responded to.

2)      An Email letter.  These letters are also supposed to be logged but it is not as traceable as a “snail mail” letter.  Also, tech is not perfect.

3)      A phone call.  We suggest calling both the D.C. office and the local office of all three of your representatives.

4)      A tweet.  It HAS happened that a tweet to a representative has been responded to but, there is no requirement or guarantee that they will respond.

5)      A Facebook post.  The problem with this is that most members of Congress have their FB set so that you can only comment on a post that they have put up.  It is the least effective method of communication and one that will likely not be seen or responded to.

All of that said, if you can, we suggest doing ALL of the above.

What to say?  That is entirely up to you.  We can only offer suggestions.  When writing, the subject line should be “Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, imprisoned in Mexico.”   We suggest you stay on point.  Do not bring other factors (ie illegal immigration to the U.S. and or Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl) into the discussion.  Ask for their help.  You want them to intercede and help free Sgt. Tahmooressi.  Ask them to please contact Secretary of State John Kerry.  Be concise, stick to facts. Do NOT make threats.  Be professional and courteous.  Keep it brief.  This is an effort to elicit help from Congress and the State Department on behalf of Sgt. Tahmooressi, not a letter to air all of your grievances.  You may wish to do that in a separate letter and, we encourage that if you so choose.  Our elected officials represent us and this is a proper and appropriate request.

A sample could be “Sgt. Tahmooressi has been in a Mexican Prison for over two months for a wrong turn into Mexico”… etc.

You may wish to include your contact information and request a return phone call or email etc.  Let’s slam the phone lines, crash the servers and jam the Fax lines.

This is a major “CONTACT CONGRESS” push.  If you’ve no idea what to say, please message the Facebook page for Sgt. Tahmooressi here and someone will assist you.

Finally, post this link on your Facebook page, tweet it, email it.  Let’s get everyone involved in this.  Send it to any person or entity that you may know that can be of assistance.  Once done, please post on the Facebook page (above) what you have done as it encourages others to act as well.  Let’s do this!

On behalf of the Tahmooressi family and our entire effort to free Andrew, thank you.

I am on twitter at @hipEchik

Tragedy On The Mountain In Tennessee

The Einwechter Family
The Einwechter Family

I came across this tragedy on my friend Suzi’s Facebook page and I have to do something.   If you can help this family, please do.  I’ve linked to a local news source’s piece on this as well.  Monique, Jonathan David, and Titus were rescued from the vehicle,  but Elise, 3 and Enoch, 6 weeks drowned.

When Suzi informed us of this horrible accident she wrote :

“Imagine, if you can, putting an addition on your house so your daughter and son-in-law and their kids could move in with you, and being so excited about it because you want nothing more than to have the whole family together.
The kids arrive and you get to spend the day together…11 whole hours…, holding your new grand-baby for the first time, but you’re worried about the babies smelling the paint fumes in the new room because you just finished painting so you send them off to spend the night with friends.

They don’t make it out of the driveway because the road is narrow as it crosses the dam holding in the pond and your daughter miscalculates in the dark and into the water the car goes.

She’s able to unbuckle her seatbelt and get 2 of the kids out. Her husband jumps up on the vehicle to help”…

The grandfather…our friend…jumps in and is able to get his fingers on the buttons of the car seat restraints but the water is murky and 35 degrees and he can’t get the baby out.

By the time the EMTs arrive you’ve been able to get the mother out but her lungs are filled with mud and she’s freezing and you have her covered in 20 blankets and you’ve put on your Navy diving gear, going in over and over again, but it’s been 35 minutes and you still can’t see to get to the children.

How do you hold this? How do you ever look at your dream farm the same again? How do you cross that dam, day in and day out? How do you put pieces together whose glue had never had a chance to dry?

The entire community is coming together to provide help and support for the Einwechter family but additional financial help is needed.  Can we help them not have an immediate financial burden? Thank you all.

The Jonathan Einwechter Family Charity Fund

The Gunny’s List & The Gunny’s Wife’s List

At a recent gathering of friends the topic of military charities arose.  We’ve been concerned with some disturbing facts recently released about extraordinarily high overhead, administrative costs and irregularities among such entities.  We want to support our troops and our veterans but we also want to know that as much of our donations as possible go to helping our  troops.   Our friends & neighbors, April & Nick Popaditch offered to vett some military charities and true to their word, they did.  Below is the Gunny’s list and the Gunny’s Wife’s list of their favorite military charities.   Our trusted Military Charities.

Semper Fi Fund “Serving Those Who Preserve Our Freedom” Karen Guenther, President, Chief Executive Officer, and founder Karen Guenther, registered nurse with more than two decades of experience and the spouse of an active duty United States Marine Corps Colonel, is the inspiration behind the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund: a nonprofit organization supporting the men and women of the United States Armed Forces and their families.

Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation “Celebrating 50 Years of Honoring Marines By Educating Their Children” Margaret B. Davis, President and Chief Executive Officer Margaret was appointed President and CEO of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation in March 2009. Margaret is a granddaughter of a WWI Marine Corporal. Married to retired Marine Major General Andrew “Drew” Davis, and also has a daughter in the Marine Corps, 2nd LT Katharine Davis.

Thank you in advance for giving what you can to help our troops.  As you well know, it is the private sector’s generosity that makes a world of difference in the lives of our troops. It’s Christmas as I write this but this post will be disseminated often.  Please, whenever you see this post, dig deep in the spirit of Christmas.   Your donation can make a world of difference in the life of a service member.  Thank you and, Semper Fi from the four of us in San Diego.  April, Nick, Teri & James

Tick Tock!

So,  I can’t sleep.  I can no longer blame the loud clock someone gave us for a wedding gift as I finally succumbed and put it in the garage to give to charity.   It’s just too loud.  Anyway, I give up and get up, quietly so as not to wake the sleeping man and dog.  I get out the door and downstairs without kicking the door jam or any other clumsy thing you might expect to hear next.  I Tiptoe to the coffee maker and I have to grind the coffee, dangit it’s noisy, still, not a creature stirs.  I go to turn on the t.v. and nothing.  The remote has died overnight.   I look but am out of AA batteries.   I power up with a sip of coffee and start searching.   Nothing in the kitchen has an AA battery. Quietly I look, nada. I head out to my husband’s tool bench to start searching the man toys. It all looks frightening and am pretty sure something will drop and wake the boys upstairs. I’m about to give up when I hear the damn clock in the box waiting for Amvets.

TICK.TOCK.TICK.TOCK.TICK.TOCK.  Please let it be an AA battery.  IT IS!  I have to pry the battery out but I do, hurry in, put it in the ailing remote and pray it’s enough juice to give me the morning headlines.  Apparently, in my earlier stupor I had been hitting the up volume on the actual T.V. set (who knew)? and the T.V . comes on LOUDLY.   I drop the remote, it hits the coffee table and goes flying.  I curse.  I am chasing things down and the TV is blasting some infomercial from whatever channel was on last night.   I finally get it all fixed and I hear scratching from above. It’s either the dog scratching at the door or, not sure.  I stand perfectly still until it stops. Anyway, that’s my day thus far.   Oh, the moral of the story?  Take the batteries out of the loud clock that’s been torturing you for years before you give it to charity and let them scratch for a while.    Eventually they might fall back asleep.  Good morning everyone!

Happy Constitution Day and Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad.

The Greeks
The Greeks and my mother holding my brother, just before immigrating to the U.S.

September 17, 2013

My parents were children during WWII.  My father was born in Greece and remembered the worst.  My mother was born in Canada on the very day the Nazis marched into Poland. My paternal grandparents, with four young children in tow, managed to escape the civil war in Greece when my father was 13.  Their intent was to immigrate to the United States but there was a document snafu in Athens.  They were lucky to be able to board a ship to Canada.  This was to be temporary though as my grandfather had already lived in San Francisco.  I’m murky on the details but, he may have already been a U.S. citizen.   As a young man he’d owned a small candy store in San Francisco.  He also worked on the railroad and served in the United States Army as an interpreter.   He went back to Greece to marry my Yia Yia but his heart never left the United States.  It was the land of opportunity and the home of the free.

On this date in 1955 my parents wed in Canada.  The following year my older brother was born.  Two years later the entire family finally immigrated to the United States.  They came to California specifically because the San Francisco Bay area reminded my grandfather of Greece (the old country).   That is how they always referred to Greece, “the old country.”  The United States was their country.  My parents were very young and overcame many hurdles to both marry and become United States citizens   At the time, a sponsor was required.  My grandfather’s uncle was a Superior court judge in San Francisco and he sponsored them.   I don’t know the exact timeline but they soon began the process to become Naturalized citizens.   I recall the stories of how they had to study for the citizenship exam.  One of the requirements was that they read the constitution.  I believe they were tested on it as well.  They passed with flying colors.  I don’t have the photos of them on that day but they exist.  I recall their suits, the carnation on my father’s lapel, my mother’s young, beautiful smile.   Throughout their lives they carried the title of “United States citizen” proudly.  Several years after they were naturalized I was born and with my birth the first born American citizen arrived.

I heard it from the time I was a child.  We were lucky.  America was the greatest country in the world.  It was instilled in all of us.  My parents were the most patriotic people I’ve ever known.   I remember them debating the sample ballots very carefully.  Researching, vetting, discussing.  The polls were at my elementary school.  I recall watching them walk hand in hand every single Election Day to vote.  The flag was always flown on appropriate holidays and I believe they had the same flag all of their lives.   I don’t recall it being discussed that they were married on Constitution Day.  I’m fairly certain they did not realize it was such while they were Canadian citizens but, anything is possible.

On this constitution day I honor my parents as I strive to do every day.    I owe everything I’ve become to them.  It is not a small matter that it is in honor of their memory that we stay in the state they chose.   I choose to stay in California.  I do what I can to fight for my beloved state, their beloved state.    I can quite vividly picture them cheering me on from Heaven.  Sometimes, though less frequently lately, they are next to me in my dreams.  Not talking, just watching.  The quiet, no problem,  bookworm middle child turned out to be the feisty one!  Happy constitution day America and happy anniversary mom and dad.    I know that despite the turmoil in their precious state and country, they rest in peace.  I know they worry not about me for I am their daughter; their  first born citizen of the greatest country on earth.

Addendum : I was taught that a writer should never apologize for her work and I shan’t but I must say that this is imperfect.  Some specifics may be slightly inaccurate and I’d love to get this down perfectly.  My parents died young and many stories died with them. This is my recollection of events.  My parents loved us all equally but differently.   They didn’t have a favorite.  I know that my parents would be particularly proud of my elder brother lately as am I.  He’s been reading the constitution and the founding father’s writings.  But, that’s not my story to tell further without his permission.   For tonight, I’ll just get this down while it is still Constitution day (it is in California),  and perhaps edit it later.  Thank you all for reading it.  My parents would love that I wrote it, imperfect though it is.

“Thank You For Donating.” Sarah Murnaghan and My Eerie Tale.

This morning we get the word that Sarah Murnaghan, the 10 year old who has been in the press lately, is getting her lung transplant. While this is good news for Sarah, I always remember that someone died in order for such a transplant and my thoughts are with that family also. This situation reminds me of an eerie incident that occurred a few years back at, of all places, the grocery store. It was profound and not something I shall ever forget. Today is the first time I’ve publicly discussed it. It’s as good a day as any.

I was at the checkout counter at Trader Joe’s grocery store and paid with my debit card. The chatty cashier asked for my driver’s license as identification and then said “thank you for donating.” I was perplexed. “Huh”? I asked. He repeated himself: “Thank you for donating, for being an organ donor.” I had never even realized that yup, there it is. A pink dot on my California driver’s license that quite simply says “donor.” It shook me up a bit and I responded “well, hopefully not anytime soon.” He said “it’s the most unselfish gift you will ever give.” Still shaken, I nodded and off I went. No one before or since has ever commented on this pink dot or the fact that I am registered as an organ donor.

I’m in my car driving home. I’m a careful driver. Uber cautious I’ve been told. I’m always on the lookout for the “other guy.” I check my mirrors, side, other side, rear view, repeat. It’s served me well. I’ve gotten out of many possible accidents by practicing defensive driving. My father taught me this. Even if you are the best driver in the world, you have to look out for the idiots. Always have an “out” planned in your head. I do. I always do. I know where every car is and have some sort of escape plan in the event I have to make a quick move. This day was the one time I did not have that opt out plan. I am driving home practicing defensive tactics yet still unnerved and distracted by the cashier’s unusual comments. Near my home there is a ICE office. Ever since the murder of Border patrol agent Robert Rojas near the San Diego/Mexican border I’ve made it a practice to look up at the flags and say a quick prayer for him. This day was no exception.

In the nano second that it took to look at the flags and quickly look back at my driver’s side mirror I was in mortal danger. A female driver was veering quickly from the left lane into my lane near the curb and her car was headed straight for mine. No time to otherwise evade, I instinctively drove up the curb onto the sidewalk and braked in the middle of the bushes. Luckily there was no one on the sidewalk because I had broken my “always” rule. Luck or God or both were abundantly on my side that day. She wound up bouncing off the curb, back to the center of the road and was off on her ( I think, very drunken) way. Had I not driven onto the sidewalk, she surely would have smashed into my driver’s side door at about 50 miles per hour. I shudder to think what may have happened. I got off that curb, turned a corner, parked and sobbed. I thought then and still maintain that I cheated death that day. No, the cashier’s comments did not help the situation (and certainly distracted me), but my instinctive driving skills are what may have saved my life. Since then when I want to pay respects to the fallen I pull into the border patrol parking lot, park and say my prayer. Live and learn. Key word is live.

I did live but I well could have perished that day. Had I died it would have been tragic. Too young. Another innocent person taken by a drunk (at least reckless) driver. But, my organs would likely have been donated. Part of me would have lived on and saved or prolonged another life. Perhaps several lives. The thought comforts me. Since the news of Sarah Murnaghan broke I’ve been advocating one thing. Please consider being an organ donor. Similar to writing one’s will, it’s not a pleasant proposition; facing our own mortality. But we are mere mortals. Once done, I had pretty much forgotten about it (but for the oddly timed “thank you” from the cashier). We want to take government out of our health care, out of our lives. We have to start somewhere and it’s not by petitioning the head of HHRS. There are so many things that appear to be out of our hands lately but this we can do. Here we can make a difference. Again, I repeat an oft used phrase of mine; walk the talk. At the very least, have the talk.

What is really at the heart of the matter is a severe shortage of organ donors. Unsavory though it may sound it is a supply and demand problem.  According to one source “The demand for organs in the United States far outpaces the supply. There are currently 75,650 active candidates (meaning they are medically suitable for a transplant) waiting for organs in the United States. But 18 people die every day, on average, waiting for an organ transplant. In 2012, there were only about 14,000 organ donors (deceased and live donations). Organ donations from deceased donors resulted in the procurement of 28,600 organs that led to 24,560 transplants.”

I realize that sometimes religion, family preferences, ethics, or simply the unpleasant aspect of the conversation all factor into this shortage. It is not my intent to talk you into something you feel strongly against. Rather, it’s my desire to urge you to have a chat with yourself, with God, with whomever. Until we have this discussion and take action this problem will continue. I urge you to strongly consider becoming an organ donor and register yourself as such. Ensure that your status is known. Depending on your state, it may be noted on your driver’s license. If not, you may wish to wear a bracelet, have a card in your wallet and, very importantly, it must be in your living will. Additionally you must ensure that your D.N.R. is written in a manner that does not conflict with your organ donor status. Without getting too far into the weeds, it is often necessary to keep the donor on life support in order to preserve the organs. Finally, your designated durable power of medial attorney must be on board. The legalities can be complex but, even after registering as a donor, your family can stop the process. I’ll leave it up to you to do your research on this. Suffice to say, there can be glitches and people can change your decision. Make sure this does not happen. The life you save may be that of a 10 year old child like Sarah. The lives you save will be as the cashier said “the most unselfish gift you ever give.” Because each state handles the registration of organ donations differently I urge you to search “how to become an organ donor.” Or, ask your physician or attorney for assistance. I am ever so grateful that I did not die on the road that day but I know that if I had, my husband would be comforted in the knowledge that my heart or lungs or eyes or possibly all, found new life in a needy, perhaps dying individual. I know this to be true because I’ve ensured that it is. It started with a conversation and I walked the talk.

Finally, cashiers: shut up. Thank me for my business, not my organ donation status. It’s a personal matter. Not something I wish to be thanked for or even reminded of. I was distracted that day. I am grateful to my father and to God that I still managed to get out of the situation and lived to tell the tale. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your prayers for Sarah and for whomever died to give her the (hopeful) gift of life. Most of all, thank you for having the conversation, for walking the talk and, thank you for your donation.

Dog Blog: Sugar Needs a Home. Update.

Hi! I'm Sugar!

UPDATE: June 11, 2013
Per Megan: “Sugar has been moved to a double wide kennel, new kennel number is 128. The staff is making every reasonable, available move they can.”

I’ve mentioned my friend and Scout’s trainer before. Her name is Megan and she’s amazing. I received this letter from her the other day regarding Sugar. I’m putting it out on social media in the hopes we can find her a home. Megan articulates it better than I can so am just posting her letter to me. Please help spread the word. The rescues in California are full and there are many dogs in need of help just now. Sugar is lucky to have Megan helping. Can we do this? Thank you!

Sugar Smiles!
Sugar getting some sugar from Megan!

Dear Teri:

I’m wondering if you might be able to help with a dog. I volunteer at the south county shelter in Bonita twice a week. Every time I go, I’ve been training and playing with a red Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Sugar! , and she has really stolen a piece of my heart! Sugar is one year old. She has been at the shelter since March 23rd and I started training with her April 11th. I am the only one who gets her out. Unfortunately 20-30 minutes twice a week is not enough and being at the shelter is stressful and is taking a toll on her mentally. One can only imagine being in a kennel 24/7 surrounded by barking dogs and loud noises with very limited social interaction. It would be so awesome for her to find a home!

Though she is short, she is solid and is about 55 lbs. She is already spayed. She knows sit and down, and is pretty good at coming when called. She loves chasing toys and being petted and she’ll curl up under my legs when I sit, and if I sit on the ground she’ll lay next to me. She’s good with other dogs, though her social skills are understandably a little rusty. Her one bad habit is jumping up, but it’s easy to manage and even with the limited amount of training I’ve put in she is a thousand times better. I’m big on manners and have taught her to sit for things so she’ll sit before you toss a toy, will sit to have her leash put on and taken off, and will sit before you open a door. With the jumping, she does not know “off” as I teach what to do (tell her “sit”) instead of telling dogs what not to do or correcting what they’ve already done. Sugar is really great on leash and I’ve worked hard in teaching her to not pull. Because her jumping does need a bit of work and she is a solid, muscular dog I recommend she not go into a home with kids under about 10 years old as she could easily knock them down. Also, any dog adopted from this shelter gets a free basic obedience class from me!

Sugar is at the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services, South Region
5821 Sweetwater Road
Bonita, CA 91902-2219
She is in “Kennel 128, tag 746, ID# A1521915 .

If you can adopt Sugar or know someone who may be able to, please contact the above shelter. If you are interested in Sugar or have any questions, please contact Megan directly here :