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Just Begging for an Accident

Posted by cdonegal on September 14, 2013 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

My consideration of the panhandling issue was prompted by a recent action by Maryland's Montgomery County officials to discourage panhandling, a remarkably rare phenomenon in that affluent community. The plan called “Give a Hand Up, Not a Hand-out” encourages drivers to contribute directly to charities that help the underprivileged instead of contributing to the safety and conscience issues cause by panhandlers in the street. This action results directly from the death of a panhandler earlier this year, when a car jumped the curb onto the traffic island where she stood. In another incident, reported by the Washington Post (September 11, 2013) the executive director of a charity that works with the homeless recognized a man holding a cardboard sign that claimed he was homeless as someone for whom she had provided housing.

The Montgomery County program provides for givers to text SHARE to the Community Foundation for Montgomery County. Of course, not all panhandlers would avail themselves of this charity, and the program never will work unless all drivers band together to withhold donations that encourage panhandlers to continue.

To resolve that issue, I suggest that charities also sell bumper stickers that say “SHARE,” and that the proceeds be allocated to helping the homeless even as they give the message that this driver is helping, but will not contribute to endangering the community and encouraging panhandling by givingh money to people in the street.

Pedestrians might purchase a book of tickets that say SHARE, perhaps with an address for panhandlers to seek assistance. Rather than cash, the donor hands a SHARE ticket to the panhandler.

Let us hope that this sort of plan—possibly refined—will increase assistance to those who need it as it reduces the dangers, moral dilemmas, and pangs of conscience associated with panhandlers accosting drivers and pedestrians.

Who knows what we can do about the firefighters and their boots?

 

 

Friends of Homeless Animals to the Rescue

Posted by cdonegal on September 10, 2013 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Barktoberfest is a day to celebrate the human-animal bond while supporting Friends of Homeless Animals mission of saving abused, abandoned and neglected cats and dogs that have found sanctuary with Friends of Homeless Animals while they await permanent homes.

We adopted Ajax, our AmStaf from Friends of Homeless Animals ten years ago October 4. He has been an amazingly sweet and loyal companion. Recently he had developed several external tumors, not atypical for the breed. Just over a week ago one of them suddenly grew to many times its size the previous day and developed an infection. Within days, this powerful dog was so weak that he had trouble walking down a few stairs. Office visits and the medication necessary to prepare him for surgery cost about $600. The surgical procedure would be another $1,000. As I now rely solely on Social Security—not the windfall some would have it—the expense was frightening. The alternative was to euthanize him, but he was otherwise healthy and neither of us was ready for him to go.

When I reported out plight to the president of Friends of Homeless Animals, she talked with our vet and arranged to pay half the cost. Not only had FOHA provided me a wonderful pet, but the organization would also make it possible to save his life ten years later.

Obviously, I am indebted to the organization on both counts. The expense was more than I could comfortably afford, but FOHA made it happen.

Ajax is now recovering well and less than a week after the operation, he has a couple of scars, one about ten inches long and stitched with super-strength ligatures, and he has learned to wield the cone of humiliation as a bull dozer. He also has a sparkle in his eye again and is teasing me for treats.

I have been sleeping on the first floor with him, both because I need to keep an eye on him and because he wants to be near me. In truth, we want to be close to each other.

Read maudlin thoughts here, but I am grateful to still have him with me, healthy and happy and looking forward to being together for years to come, a quality of life that has been much improved, thanks to excellent medical care and the commitment of Friends of Homeless Animals.

Within the past week, I have found it necessary to part ways with the people I was working with on a long-term project for which I had surrendered some contract work (writing and public affairs, if you know anyone….) so I don’t see my financial situation improving. Although I don’t have the luxury of money to give FOHA, I do want to spread the word in the hopes that other animal lovers in Northern Virginia and beyond might be able to provide some financial support to Friends of Homeless Animals, either directly (foha.org), or through the organization’s annual Barktoberfest (Barktoberfest.org).

On September 28, hundreds of dogs and their families are expected to participate in FOHA’s annual fundraiser Barktoberfest, presented by The Life Centre, at the Loudoun County Fairgrounds.

Activities for FOHA’s biggest fundraiser of the year get underway with the Mutt Strut at 9:15 a.m. Register here and join walkers for the one mile Strut to support Friends of Homeless Animals, a no-kill shelter that has saved more than 15,000 dogs and cats since 1973.

Other activities throughout the day include agility and training demonstrations, live music performed by a number of bands, kids games, vendors selling their unique wares, opportunities to “ask the vet” and “ask the trainer,” contests that include pet costumes and best tail-wagging, raffles, an auction, the canine belly rub hub and a range of other activities for family and pet-oriented fun, all for a donation of only $5 for each adult. Kids and dogs are admitted free.

Here is your chance to watch a parade of dogs in need of a good home, while other pets in need of adoption will mingle with supporters and enjoy the many activities in their honor.

Register to Strut and find further information, including a schedule of activities, online at barktoberfest.org. Barktoberfest is a wonderful opportunity to meet the pet that is waiting to meet you.

Tell them Ajax sent you.

Spurs don't fit on gum boots

Posted by cdonegal on September 20, 2012 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)

[This piece was originally posted on Clive's Hubpages]

“Don’t bring riding boots,” they said. “We have them.” And the first two stables did. The third was not as well provisioned.

I have calves, you see, thick, muscular calves. Truth be told, my calves are the only muscles in my body that don’t jiggle when I walk, but I do enjoy walking briskly and I walk with great energy. My feet, however, are dainty, so it is difficult to find boots that slip over my calves without leaving my feet to wander around in the roominess below.

I was with a group of travel writers in Western Ireland to write about riding in Donegal. The scenery was lush green hills and ferocious seas in the far northwest at Dunfanaghy and tall shore grasses and the heartbreakingly delicate beauty of Donegal Bay farther south. It was at Donegal Bay that I met my Waterloo. Well, Wellingtons.

Donegal Equestrian Center is well-equipped and professional beyond question. The staff are expert and personable. They had everything except riding boots with robust calves and petite feet. What they did have was a pair of duck-footed Wellies that would fit over my manly, yet curvaceous calves.

Wellington boots are not high fashion. Clint Eastwood would have shot himself in both feet before applying his spurs to a pair of Wellies.

I should be clear. These are not the handsome calfskin Wellingtons that the Household Cavalry sports, but green rubber gum boots: dwarf waders. Their singular homeliness was not the issue. Nor was the gritty feel of the inside sole as my foot skittered around the great space. It was not even the cold rubber that encircled my now notorious calves. No, the problem is that the foot of the Wellington gumboot is not significantly smaller on the outside than it is on the inside. There is a reason that one feels as if he is walking in swim fins when gumboots adorn his feet. There is a reason that walking on concrete makes an fwap-fwap noise as the rubber soles slap the pavement. There is a reason that Cinderella did not wear them to the ball.

If walking in Wellies is clumsy and unattractive, then trying to slip those bad boys into stirrups is a nightmare. Stirrups are no more made for gumboot Wellies than gumboot Wellies are made for stirrups. And they aren’t.

So I was wearing gumboots that were as roomy at the top as they were in the foot. When I walked, I had difficulty keeping them on, but never mind; I would be sitting handsomely in a saddle.

Not until I tried to mount the horse did I realize the problem. I could barely fit the toe of my boot into the stirrup.

Not to worry, said the trail boss, or whoever he was. (His crew cut showed about an eighth of an inch of gray bristle, but I called him "Curley." In my head.) The growing crowd of riders around me were finding my predicament much funnier than I was. By the time a team of people more stable than I were attempting to hoist me into the saddle and to jam my bubble toes into the stirrups, I was not only decidedly unamused, but also feeling remarkably like Humpty Dumpty being hoisted onto a wall. And cranky.

I worked at being a good sport. If ever there is an opportunity to avoid appearing to be a poor sport, it is while traveling with a group of international travel writers. They carry cameras and they are prone to awareness of a developing story. I did not want to be that story.

So, with a brave smile frozen in place--unlike my boots--I sat astride my steed, a burly Irish Hunter, sufficiently broad to worry that someone would want to make a wish while I was mounted on it.

My toe tips delicately touched the edges of the stirrups like a virgin uncertain about whether his status was about to change.

Off we went in single file. I began to relax a bit as I realized that walking did not require great dexterity—or stability. Then we began to climb a narrow trail, bordered by a barbed wire fence.

I listed slightly to port to keep clear of the barbs. Doing so meant that my starboard boot lost its precarious purchase on the stirrup, and the boot, left to dangle precariously in air, narrowed its distance to the aforementioned barbed wire. To counter the new danger I leaned farther and I realized that the right boot was slipping off my foot. I tightened the foot muscles in an attempt to fill the boot more fully with my foot, and raised my foot to keep the boot from sliding to earth, but the barbs began to snatch at it, hurrying its departure. So I leaned….You see the problem.

My body was rigid; sweat poured off me. I wanted to cry. In a manly way, as my calves would require.

As we neared the top of the hill, the ride leader turned and saw me listing heavily to port, starboard leg extended almost straight out, boot dangling from my cramping foot at the end of my cramping leg. The cramp in my side was invisible.

“You all right?” he asked lightly.

He did not attempt to conceal the smirk.

“Fine,” I grunted from clenched jaw. (Writers in front of me; writers behind me. There was no other response.) I wished that I were carrying a couple of six-shooters. Or a Gatling gun.

We crested the hill and the fence stretched away from us at last. Before us stretched a band of tall course beach grass, beyond which marvelously blue, marvelously placid water stretched to the horizon, and, the crisis past, I heaved a great sigh of relief, realigned myself in the saddle and juggled my boot back onto my foot.

We rode lazily through the tall grass to the sandy expanse along the water’s edge and I began to enjoy the gentle shifting of the muscles of the beast beneath me. We looked off to the horizon, admiring the serenity and the beauty of the water that stretched out before us, lapping gently at the beach, until the trail leader reined his mount to the right and began to trot along the beach.

Trotting was not good. I struggled to keep both boots in contact with the stirrups, not under the misapprehension that I would be able to actually fit them in, but only to keep them from falling off.

As our pace increased, I realized that the field was not mine. As we began galloping, frustration clenched those muscles that had not already been called into service to keep me upright and seated. I recalled Jingles (Well, Andy Devine) arms flapping as he galloped Bill Hickok (Guy Madison without the buckskin) calling his raspy “Hey, Wild Bill, Wait for me!”

I wished that I had six-guns. It was the only manly way to stop the torture.

Other challenges ensued, including fording a brook with which I cam awfully close to having a close and wet encounter, when my horse stumbled on rocks on the bank of the stream, until at least we saw a corral at the edge of town and tied up our horses while we headed to a pub, gum boots flopping along the sidewalk.

It wasn’t until I had drained a few pints that I realized that, although the stirrups might not be especially comfortable with stocking feet, if I removed the boots, feet would fit.

The return ride was far easier.

According to Clive (Introduction)

Posted by cdonegal on September 19, 2012 at 10:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Clive Donegal began his career in journalism as a travel writer in Western Ireland. For the past year or so, he has been posting commentary, destination stories and desirata to his site on HubPages, but Clive thought that it was time to start collecting his oeuvre (Not only does he trefer to himself in the third person, but he also is sufficiently pretentious to interject French--with a proximate accent--into casual conversation.)

Clives perspective is fresh, his sense of humor troubling, but we carry --as does Clive at every opportunity.

Clive Speaks is where he stores his commentary on contemporary issues and whatever else is in his craw--As Charlie Chan refers to his talons. Relax, if you look for racism and prejudice in everything, Clive will give you such a headache---not because he is racist or prejudiced, but because he is too irreverent and comfortable about who he is to worry about how small-minded bigots will project their issues onto his writing.

So, relax, assume no malicious intent, and enjoy (or hate on its merits) what Clive has to say.

Complaints and comments should be addressed to Clive at [email protected]

WARNING: He may respond.


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