Friday, June 27, 2014

Bus Done Right

Thinking of converting an old bus into something to live in all or most of the time?  Take a look at this blog - - this one is done right.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Last weekend, a dog from another nearby small town went missing. The owners of this lovely dog were seriously upset, made a Facebook posting about it, and as our community does, a lot of us shared the picture, upping the signal. And of course, mountain folk do know city folk (most of us work in the city) and so it finally got around to a family member of a couple who "rescued" a dog from said nearby town - it was the missing dog.

After much hemming and hawing, the "rescuers" decided to do the right thing and call the phone number and talk to the owners of the dog. The owners had to drive out to the far side of the city to get their dog back, and had to put up with all kinds of excuses from the people who took the dog in the first place.

Here's something to know about small mountain towns- small mountain towns have small mountain town dogs. Those dogs? They get to wander about, tend to be fairly friendly with everyone they meet, and they love car rides, so of course they'll get right on into your car.

THESE ARE NOT LOST DOGS. They are not starving, they are not abandoned, they have home they go to every evening, they have families who love them - we just have a different attitude about how our dogs get to live up here. If you, as a visitor, are worried about a dog you see out wandering about, GO TO A NEARBY BUSINESS OR HOME AND ASK. Yep, we do know our town dogs up here. Someone would quickly have told you that yes, this dog belongs here and has a home.

Now I do get the concern- all the time, dogs around here who like to go on a run get out of their yards, escape the house, take off - one of my dogs included. Most of them will come back within hours. Some, however, do get lost. And as a community, we pay attention to the posts on internet forums, and posted on the banks of mailboxes or in the post office and grocery stores.

And then there are dogs who come out of the city with their families, get away, and get lost, because they have no frame of reference to guide them back to where their family may be. More often than not, when they do get back there, their family has already left.

A few years ago, my son and I picked up a dog that looked lost and confused in the middle of the highway. Several people were trying to corral the dog; we pulled up, opened the car door and the dog got right in. Yes, I brought him home - about 3 miles from where he was found. I got out the camera right away, took pictures and got right on a community forum and posted the pictures and so forth. Within 24 hours, the owner was found, happy reunion.

But most of the small town dogs up here aren't on the highway. The really friendly ones you will find hanging out outside known tourist businesses in hopes of getting many pets and some food treats. Our dogs are attention seekers for sure.

But these dogs are not free to take. If the dog gets in your car, it doesn't mean he doesn't love his owners - it just means he hopes to get a car ride. Tell the dog to get back out of your car.

If you are worried that a dog looks wet, or dirty, or in your opinion, too skinny, then ask the locals. Call the police - they'll send animal control out. Or, what happens sometimes - they'll tell you the dog's name and that it lives there. If it's truly a lost dog, they take it to shelter and post the info themselves so people can find their dog.  Otherwise, we have creeks, and tall grasses, and lovely elk poop to roll in.  Our dogs love those things.

DO NOT TAKE OUR DOGS HOME. They don't live in the city, they don't know how to handle the city, and they are missed their family.

DON'T ASSUME A WANDERING DOG IS UNWANTED - mountain dogs, plains dogs, country dogs, small town dogs - nearly every small town or rural area has their wandering dogs. Just because the owners allow them freedom doesn't mean they are unwanted.

DON'T ASSUME THE DOG IS NOT ON THEIR OWN PROPERTY - in a lot of rural areas, people don't have fences (or they have cattle fencing) and they potentially own a lot of property. That dog out wandering in the field? He may well be on his own land and he's doing his job - patrolling and keeping predators away. One of my own dogs gets this freedom, and as she lay outside on the deck at twilight last night, she suddenly took off after a fox. She was doing her job, protecting our flock. I would be unbelievably pissed if she was out back and someone assumed she was lost and came onto my property and took her.

That dog laying outside a business? Willing to bet that the business owners are also his owner. There's lots of dogs like this in mountain towns and ski towns.

DON'T TAKE THE DOG HOME AND ASSUME ITS NOW YOURS. It's not. I've seen it done before. Not cool. And now, with microchipping, most dogs are tagged with their owner's names and usually addresses. Your vet can get the code and look it up in mere seconds. THE DOG IS NOT YOURS TO KEEP.

DON'T MAKE EXCUSES when you give the dog back. We don't want to hear it. We are not grateful that you took our dog and made us travel to get our dog back. I'm sorry if your kid is now attached to the dog you STOLE - why sugar coat it? You stole that dog from its home. Just apologize and give the dog back.

You want a dog that badly? The no kill shelters are FULL of them. Two weeks ago, one of the bigger shelters in the Denver area did an "adopt for free" event where getting a new dog cost people NOTHING.

Go to a shelter to get a dog, not come to our towns, our homes and take our pets. We don't care if you don't approve of allowing dogs to run free - this is not the city, this is not your town, these are not your dogs.

DO feel free to come visit our towns, but respect our ways. Pet the dog, but leave him here.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Concepts of Sharing

Thanks for Facebook, I was able to read this article called "Why I Don't Make My Son Share"  . I linked it, you should read it.

Brief synopsis - the author talked about the policy at her son's school, which is basically a toy is yours until you are done playing with it.  Parents like and accept this, other kids accept this without a fit, all is harmonious. But the author did not find this to be true our in the rest of society; people expected that her son should give up what he is using so someone else can use it, whether at a public play center where the items belong to the center, or his very own personal toys.

I like the article. I agree with her. We taught our kids sharing was a nice thing, but that sharing did not mean the person has a right to demand to use what you are currently using.  I remember telling many a child (when we lived in campus housing in Iowa) that the toys belonged to my children and it was up to them if they wanted to share - and if they said no, that was the final word.

The interesting part is that we were surrounded by other families of different cultures - Indian, Japanese, Chinese, South American, Middle eastern - and all of those children to this kind of statement very well. They knew we left certain toys outside all during the summer and they were welcome to play with them until my child asked for it back.  And they handed it over without having to be asked twice.  My children liked playing with these children because they respected them and their wishes, and my children offered up the same in return.

My children did not always like playing with other American raised children, because while they also came over and played with our toys, they also decided that if it was left right outside your door, or in your foyer, that meant it was free for them to take and it was theirs now.  Umm, no.  A lot of these children also thought it was perfectly acceptable for them to demand a toy that my son or daughter was playing with. Even though my husband or I often had schoolwork of our own to do, we often spent time sitting outside in turns, defending our children's rights to play with their own toys. We had kids yell at US, the adults, because we backed up our kids rights to say no. We had parents yell at us because we backed up our kids rights to say no.  In the end, we just started taking stuff inside the four plex building's basement at night and when we weren't home; we had no issues of sharing with the other kids who lived in that building, and the basement was common space for us all.

Sadly, this punished our kids in a way - we didn't want to haul out the elephant slide and bikes every day, or the bins of outside toys- so some things just didn't get played with. It punished the kids who did understand our concepts of sharing, because they also could not play with those toys. And for them, this was often harder, because for a lot of foreign families, when they came over to study (most of them grad students) they brought the whole family - themselves, their spouse, their children and often one or more of their parents.  The four plexes were not big - two bedrooms, a small living room and small kitchen. It meant for those families, very little room was spared for larger toys like our kids had - the bikes, the slide. So for them, those toys only existed when we brought them out. Yes, there were playgrounds in the housing, but the same attitudes prevailed there - kids who told another "you've been on that swing two minutes, it's my turn!" and then proceeded to try to yank them off the swing. Yes, we as parents, enforced the rights of our kids - and others- to use that equipment as long as they wanted.  My kids learned patience and that sometimes, you just don't get a turn.

Both of these concepts served them well as they grew older, and now as adults. They also know how to share - we all do. There's often a time when I'm doing research in the downtown main library when I take extra lunch, so I can share it with someone in Civic Park.  I always have a variety of lunch things when I'm working, because we never know ahead of time if the day's schedule will allow us to sit and eat a lunch, or if it's going to be snacking all day. Sometimes, my job is over much sooner than expected, and my lunch is unneeded because I'm going home. So if I pull up to a light and there's a homeless person standing there with their sign, I call them over and give them my lunch or whatever is left - bag of pretzels, carrots, a soda.  I've never been told no. I've never been not thanked, because these people get it. I don't have to share - this is mine, but I am, and now it is theirs.

I say these people get it, but not everyone does. Some people are still stuck in that thought that what you have belongs to them as well.  One of my last trips to the library and Civic park, I sat in the sun - it was still winter, but a very warm winter day like Denver often gets.  I'll take the time in the warm sun when I can get it.  My lunch was gone - a rare occasion when I actually ate everything I brought, and I was reading.  A woman came up and asked me for a pair of sunglasses and was quite put out when I said I didn't have any. I don't- I wear glasses, and don't have any sunglasses! Then she asked me for my cell phone. Yep, I lied. said I didn't have one of those either. (I do have what I call my "stupid phone" - it's a minimal style flip phone that does a unique thing - calls people- and not much more.  It is not a smart phone.) And then she asked me for a computer! Told her I didn't have one of those with me either.  She was quite pissed off with me at that point, and wandered off mumbling about how selfish I was and didn't know how to share.

Thing is, I do know how to share. I have shared my car, my home, my clothes, my food, I share my kids with their grandparents, other relatives, my husband.  I've even shared my husband for all manner of assistance to others (except sex)  and he has likewise shared me.  We ask each other first, however, and we have a unspoken code that totally allows the other to say no.  My kids have done the same thing.

But sharing doesn't mean everything I have is fair game.  You can have some eggs- no problem! But you cannot come into my yard and help yourself to one of my chickens.  You can borrow my car- or me to drive you somewhere - no problem! But that doesn't make my car yours.  You can have some of the food in my fridge, but you cannot eat it all. (Haven't all of us had this battle with college roommates? I know my daughter, my husband and I have- I don't think my son did in barracks, but they instill a different mindset in Marines)

You can share, you can say no.  I respect your right to do so, in any situation.  We're not doing children any favors by letting think they must give what they have to others, or that they are entitled to what others have.  Or your child will find out the very hard way, somewhere in life, that no one will help them even out of kindness when they need it because they made assumptions about other people and their things earlier on.

Basically it comes down to "Do not give to others what you cannot EMOTIONALLY afford to give."