Category Archives: enviroment

Shells Bells

Shells, shells, and more shells. I was just a tad obsessed with collecting these beauties on my morning walks. Maybe a little more than a “tad.”

Look at them, all beautiful in their own way. All different shapes, sizes, and colors. Some with fractures, some dull, others shiny and bright, but all with their own individual characters that make them beautifully unique. Hmm, sounds a lot like people now doesn’t it.

There isn’t a hateful one in the bucket.

As always, my children thought I was losing my mind as I ventured out every morning to see what treasures the ocean left behind. When will they realize they are the cause of any loss of my mind?

Anyway, shell searching is in my genes. As children, my mother taught us how to comb IMG_6357the beach for shells, and I followed the tradition by doing the same with my daughter. Why is this not on my resume?

I remember sitting in a hotel room with my sister going over our inventory from the day. We would break down our loot by size and style. Yes, serious records were kept with shells & Halloween candy. 

Back in the day, we had an abundance of large clam shells waiting for us.  That is not the case today. I’m not sure if it’s the ever-changing climate, Mother Nature’s hoarding or the loss of sexual urges amongst the clam community, whatever the reason, there were slim pickings.  Feel free to now Google “how do clams reproduce?” I did.

As kids, we returned from vacation with a bucket of blank canvases. On rainy summer days, we would break out our watercolor sets to let our inner Monet surface. Our talents were displayed in our garden for all to view.  It was like an ongoing Gallery opening without the wine & cheese.

It’s funny how some memories, no matter what, have the ability to leave a smile on your face. I’m glad that one let itself out of the vault. 

The million dollar question around here now is: “What are you going to do with all those shells?” The response: “Something fabulous!” 

Now that I’ve set the bar high, I’ve been unleashing my creative juices for this project. Hmm, how hard can it be to rustle up something wonderful, yet not too overwhelming, while meeting all the criteria necessary to be F A B U L O U S? What the hell was I thinking?

After some pondering while scanning the internet for inspiration, there is something on the horizon waiting to come to life. Will it be fabulous? OF COURSE!  I’ll be working my magic shortly.

Embrace the differences to create something fabulous in the world. Enjoy the Ride!

Canine Whipped

Lord Chester
Ruler of the Domain

Greetings fellow readers, I will be filling in for Life today to provide all of you with the trials and tribulations I was forced to endure during Hurricane Sandy.

I am Chester the Beagle over here at the Life With The Top Down residence, however I prefer more fitting titles such as Boss, Ruler of the Domain or Lord of the Land. At dinner time you can call me Pudding Pop, I’ll be there like lightning. 

Shortly after I took up residence, I made it very clear that I will not perform my daily duties like a common house pet in the yard. Yes, I’m too good for that.

If I choose to spend my afternoons basking in the sun, I certainly don’t want to be lounging next to a petrified turd that one of these humans failed to retrieve.

Up until yesterday everything was fine with my accommodations. My required morning, afternoon & evening journey to release yesterday’s consumption has never been interrupted. A record to be proud of, if I do say so myself.

SNORING like a chainsaw

In fact, over the years I’ve managed to train my caregivers to take me out in rain, snow & ice without so much as a whimper or light scratch at the door. Oh, you haven’t been whipped … till you’ve been Canine whipped. 

This all came to an erupt halt yesterday when someone named Sandy came town. I overheard the humans discussing that she wasn’t welcome.

The elder male and I decided not to give her the time of day by spending most of our time doing what we do best…..napping. I believe a record may have been broken. Apparently there is a fine line between the term “nap” and “going back to bed”, however I really don’t see a difference. Damn you Guinness!

Sweet Jesus it’s Chili!

Yesterday I was awakened from my lengthy slumber by something wonderful brewing in my favorite room…the kitchen. Sweet Mother of Mercy it was Chili! My prayers have been answered, my dreams were coming true.

As you might imagine, one of my duties around here is to guard the valuables, NOTE: If you come with a food source I enjoy, the keys are yours. A list of my favorites will be provided upon request, so I spent the next few hours keeping a close nose eye on that Chili. I’ll admit I was jonesing 2 minutes into my guard duties like a heroin addict looking for a score. For god sakes people I am still a dog!

Well, I guess by now you know what time it is…dinner. Oh my God the Momma (that’s what I call Life) has my dish. Oh my God she’s scooping out my food. Oh my God the Chili is next..it’s next…it’s next. What! No you didn’t girl..you better back away from that organic ground chicken and get your ass over to that Chili! 

At this moment I made an executive decision to eat what I was given quickly in order to beg my nap buddy for some Chili. Epic Fail! I heard the Momma saying “his ass will be on fire if you give him any of that Chile and he already has “a thing” about not pooping within a 10 mile radius of this house, without throwing in Sandy!” Obviously they have failed to recognize that although I have 4 legs, I also have 2 EARS.

Hello?

Who is this Sandy!?  Something is clearly wrong. On a normal evening once I have consumed my final meal of the day, I enjoy a walk to release the old while the new settles in…if you know what I mean. 

Last night seemed different as I headed out, something was out of sorts so I took a peek. Sandy? Um..is that you? 

I love to hear you beg. Do it again..come on.

The humans were whispering, but I wasn’t sure what all the hubbub was about. I was starting to get paranoid… I was still coming off my high from the chili fumes. 

The Momma was pleading for me to go back out there where all that noise was, but we all know that wasn’t happening. Refer back to who rules this house. 

My faithful servant a/k/a
Poop Picker Upper

Next thing I knew the coat was being put on. Ruh Roh they were bringing out the big guns, this can’t be good. 

I decided to go out front, since the loudmouth Sandy seemed to be out back. I wasn’t thrilled with this decision, so I hesitated. Next thing I knew the leash was brought out.

FYI: I don’t do leashes unless I’m with Momma, who still thinks I’m capable of running away. 

Why the hell would I ever run or skip for that matter? It took me 7 years to train these 2, I’m not starting over.

The winds were brutal, my coat was blowing up in the back, but I still managed to release 2 piles far away from my domain. Mission accomplished! 

The Gate! The Gate!

Today is a new day. Sandy is no longer outback…whew. I’ve been out there 4 times, all before noon doing what I do.

Now I am ready to enjoy those chicken cutlets I spotted earlier. What? I’m a Beagle we hunt. Yes, chicken cutlets are prey!

I hope that all my fellow four-legged friends fared the wrath of Sandy without much disruption to their daily routines.

Remember to pet a pet today and of course….Enjoy the Ride!

Oh Yes We Did!

I loved the headline!

This is an update on my recent post Democracy Is Alive. Looks like a small group of committed citizens certainly can make a difference…Oh yes we did! 

After we gathered the troops to battle the politicians, we utilized our freedom of speech via the press and the good old social media. Fact: Facebook & YouTube scare the crap out of old politicians.

We went old school to pound pavements for signatures and also included an online petition for our cyber supporters as well. No one said it would be easy.

I was fortunate enough to be part of a team composed of like-minded individuals in order to make this a success. We all have talents that enabled us to move this forward quickly. This “project” was in the works for 7 years and we changed those plans in a little over 40 days.

For instance, my neighbor Joe created the video that tugged at heart-strings of his audience … hey now, nothing wrong with jumping on the sympathy wagon … which just happened to spread like wildfire, dubbing him the “Michael Moore” of our project.

Our neighbor Ray was our communicator/informant. He made calls to all parties involved daily to gather our ammunition pertinent information, dubbing him “Deep Throat.”

Deep Throat, Michael Moore & Erin Brockovich

As for me, well I was the digger. I searched until my eyes were burning and my fingers sore. Thank you Google and Public Records search engines thank you very much. This dubbed me “Erin Brockovich.”

The story made an appearance in our local paper The Northeast Times, The Philadelphia Daily News, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Radio Station 106.9 here in Philadelphia. Not bad for a few concerned neighbors. 

Our initial goal was to stop the madness completely, however according to our City Councilman, it was already a “done deal” and although he admitted “I should have notified the community, I take full responsibility.” Let me finish this sentence: However, it was an election year and a lot of you already didn’t like me, so I decided winning for my 8th term was way more important than all of you. 

Therefore, without a long drawn out legal battle we wouldn’t have a chance in reversing this deal. The other “done deal” will be this councilman loosing his next run for office. He has been in office for 32 years…so tootles! 

After numerous negotiations we made the decision to compromise with the business owner and I am happy to report that we made some significant progress in saving a large portion of this land from the asphalt. It’s amazing what a collective effort can accomplish. Hmm, I wonder where this would come in handy *cough* DC. 

The company we were up against has been at its current location for 11 years, with organic growth during that time, however he is getting cramped and does need additional space to expand. The fact that he is able to expand in this economy is a very good sign for our community. 

We were extremely fortunate because just like us, this businessman was also duped by the politician involved. He was promised that “everything was taken care of” and he had nothing to worry about. Poor thing thought the politician was doing the right thing by him. 

We have been given the opportunity to assist in the design of the area that will be surrounding the parking lot. It will now be bordered by natural berms, lined with mature trees to block our view and absorb sound. We blocked the idea of a chain-linked fence and agreed on something that would be safe, but esthetically easy on the eyes. 

There is also going to be a “meadow” constructed using trees and grasses that are historic to the area. The business owner as agreed to maintain this portion of the property for (5) years to ensure this land resumes to its natural state. We were all especially elated about this piece of the plan. 

All in all our efforts were not wasted. We not only gained a voice in the construction of his property, we gained a stronger sense of community, which was long overdue.

This small sliver of the pie opened our eyes to some significant changes that need to be made in order have a successful voice in the decisions that are being made on behalf of “our best interest,” at all levels of  our local government.

Now get out there and make a difference one act at a time….Enjoy the Ride!

HOPE

Recently I was presented with a challenge by Miss Four Eyes to write a post about HOPE. I was given this honor in response to my recent post Democracy Is Alive which was regarding a Grassroots effort to save a piece of Open Space near my home and the HOPE that we would be successful in our efforts.

What she didn’t know was something happened between then and now that resonated the highest form of HOPE.

In the very early hours of Monday morning, a very dear person in my life, lost her daughter in an automobile accident.

At 18 years old “Sammi” was full of life, vigor & HOPE. The reality is she experienced more than most in her short life, but throughout it all she never lost HOPE.

She HOPED to turn her life around and she did just that when she graduated in June with honors.

She HOPED that she would have the opportunity to be proud of her accomplishments and she did just that when she purchased her first car and moved into her own apartment.

She HOPED that everyone would just love each other and that love was evident at her funeral yesterday where there was not an empty seat in the church.

I went to visit my friend to express my condolences, however I was the one being consoled. This woman just lost her daughter, yet she was some how at peace. She explained that up until a few hours earlier she couldn’t fathom living another moment, but then something amazing happened. HOPE?

She was told by police earlier in the day that when they approached the accident there was one dead deer at the scene, however another deer was standing next to her daughter, protecting her until the authorities arrived.

A glimmer of HOPE …

Next she went to her childhood church where the services would be held. At this point she was overcome with the unknown answers to her questions. Where is Sammi? Why can’t I feel her? Is she safe? Little did she know those questions were about to be answered.

HOPE is moving in…

It was suggested that she take a moment to visit the new Prayer Garden around back. As she entered the gate she was feeling a pull to go to the right. At first she was fighting the urge because the brick path was heading in the other direction, but she gave in and followed her instinct.

HOPE is getting brighter…

Just when she thought nothing could ever give her peace, she looked down to discover (3) statutes. One deer standing, one lying down and an angel sitting between the two.

Standing in awe at the foot of the statues a large bight yellow butterfly began flying around her, to the point of her letting out a typical mom statement of “I know, ok, ok I see you!”  Sammi?

HOPE is in the shadow…

The butterfly took a seat on her shoulder as she walked to the back of the garden where a large statue of the Blessed Mother stood, she realized Sammi was indeed in good hands.

HOPE is now a reality. 

Please keep my dear friend in a positive light in HOPE that she continues to have the peace she needs to get through each day.

I would like to pass this journey of HOPE onto a wonderful fellow Blogger who holds HOPE at its highest when it pertains to the treatment of animals. She is Susannah and her recent post Take Shelter is just one of her many posts that expresses her diligence towards the injustices against animals.

Have HOPE and Enjoy The Ride! 

Democracy Is Alive

Since August 1st I’ve been working, along with a few neighbors, to stop the destruction of a beautiful piece of land near my home.  As residents, we learned of this project the day the bulldozers rolled in to flatten the area. According to the Buck at my back gate, no members of the animal kingdom got the memo either and now they are scurrying to relocate.

It appears that a local tour bus company is expanding their parking lot to include 66 additional parking spaces to fill this once Open Space. Asphalt and diesel fumes will soon be our new neighbors, without so much as a peep on their arrival. The welcome wagon will remain in the garage for this addition. 

Collectively we have been hounding our elected officials Whew, now that’s really been a freaking joy, utilizing the social media, pounding the pavement with petitions, exercising our freedom of speech in the press and now my blog.

It’s incredible how many people are up in arms, but disappointing to know that only a handful are truly committed to do the work. Personally, I believe in the beautiful words of Margaret Mead and I will continue to do so. 

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Please watch the video and be inspired to sign our online Petition at parkwood-manor-preserve-our-open-space-stop-construction-of-tour-bus-parking-lot-2

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