At some point next week, I will be an even older Baby Boomer! But I still don’t have to register for Medicare, so I declare I’m still middle aged. Why does this matter? Well, for the last few years, I’ve raised funds for a good cause rather than ask for gifts, so I thought I’d share it here, too.
I get questions ever year, so here’s why I do what I do. Maybe you can support an organization or group, too!
Why a Facebook fundraiser? I know some folks don’t like them, because FB no doubt makes interest on donations before they pay them out. But, they do pay every cent donated, and it’s easy to donate. Any reader who’d like to donate another way can go to the MTOL website and use their form or mails check. Please say it’s for my fundraiser, so they will know how to allocate the funds.
Why only once a year? I think people can feel bombarded by requests for money. I know I do sometimes. So, I tend to do my own donations privately, but I do give to birthday fundraisers for good causes and to honor people I care about. And once a year I choose a nonprofit to support. You’ll see that not all the donations are big, which comes as no surprise during these challenging times. It feels good to give to others sometimes, though.
Why Milam Touch of Love? The main reason is that I honor my commitments. When I was at my last MTOL Board meeting, I said I’d do another birthday fundraiser, so I am! The organization has done an incredible job rescuing puppies and sending them to places with plenty of adoption opportunities, spaying and neutering pets to help drive down unwanted births, and microchipping pets to make finding their owners easier. And the president of MTOL writes educational articles in the local paper each week. She’s amazing, and I want to support her hard work. She even got certified as an animal control officer, to better help the animals in our county.
I hope that all helps a bit. Since I’m not able to be an active member of MTOL anymore, it’s even more meaningful to me that I help this way. I always hoped that our mutual love for animals would keep the MTOL team diverse and mutually respectful, but that’s hard these days. Still, I encourage my friends and readers to put aside our differences and help those who can’t help themselves.
Things are hard right now. Believe me, trying to get a small business started during COVID has not been easy on my family’s finances. But, we still do our charitable giving, at a scale we can manage. I hope you do, too, and give to organizations like MTOL, who use you money to directly help others.
We all need to spread a touch of love in this world.
This week, I’ve taken my mind off things by observing my surroundings and seeing when I’ve been helpful without realizing it. Actually, one of the main ways I’ve gotten through the past few years has been knowing that, while I can’t fix big problems, I can often help with smaller problems that might be big to someone else, even those who don’t realize it or can’t express it in words.
For example, today I helped get a dog from Austin to Cameron, as part of my Milam Touch of Love volunteer work that I don’t do nearly enough of. That wasn’t much of a big deal on my part. I happened to be going from Austin to Cameron anyway, and just made a detour. To the dog’s owner, someone in crisis, this was a huge deal and solved a huge, nasty problem. The owner said those of us helping out were sent from Heaven. No, we are people who know that the right thing to do when you know of a person or animal in need and you CAN help, you DO help. It’s doing the right thing, not out of fear, but out of respect and love.
The dog was confused, and had no idea it needed help. It could not thank me other than with a wagging tail. But I knew I helped and am glad it’s safe.
Changing the Subject Somewhat
In the dog transport case, my friends and I knew we were doing something helpful. But, as I observed some of ways I’ve helped some living things. Since they can’t talk, we had to pay attention to see how we’ve helped. I’m talking about plants here.
How do you know you’ve helped a houseplant? Well, it will grow and thrive in a place that’s not where it naturally would end up. Most house plants are really tropical plants that have been hybridized to do okay in pots. Usually they don’t get very big in our houses.
Both spider plants and pothos are way bigger when they grow outdoors, but are usually pretty small in our homes. Pothos or devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum) leaves can be 39×18″ in the wild! They don’t bloom spontaneously, sniff. I know they are happy when the leaves don’t start dropping off.
Epipremnum aureum is an evergreen vine growing to 20 m (66 ft) tall, with stems up to 4 cm (2 in) in diameter, climbing by means of aerial roots which adhere to surfaces. The leaves are alternate, heart-shaped, entire on juvenile plants, but irregularly pinnatifid on mature plants, up to 100 cm (39 in) long and 45 cm (18 in) broad; juvenile leaves are much smaller, typically under 20 cm (8 in) long.
Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) get up to two feet tall in nature (I’ve seen it, since I’ve lived in the subtropics), and I know mine are happy when they bloom. Or that means they’re rootbound. They don’t talk a lot. I feel like the little bonus plants they grow are little gifts to me, even though I’ve seen them take over huge areas when there is no freezing weather to keep them under control.
Anita grows a lot of cactus plants and succulents. They show her she’s taken good care of them by growing, but more excitingly, by blooming. We both get excited when one of her plants blooms. Take a look at this one!
Many of my own house plants have been around a long time. I’ve had some bad luck lately, but when a plant is happy, it stays. Here is a house plant a money tree Pachira aquatica) that we’ve had for well over a decade, and it was a gift from another family when they moved.
This poor plant lived a long time on the deck while the Bobcat Lair house was getting renovated, where it got too much sun, received too little water, was besieged by aphids, and looked very sad. We had no place to put it in the casita!
It had tiny leaves, and most had fallen off. I kept wondering if I should put it out of its misery. But look! It’s funny looking, but it has nice big leaves now, which cover the plant. And it’s new growth is no longer sticky from aphids! It only took me a couple of years to fix that. I helped my old friend.
[I should never look on Wikipedia for stuff. I got all distracted discovering that this thing really IS a huge tree where it comes from, its flowers are the largest of any flowering tree, and it has edible nuts, when roasted. They call it the Malabar Chestnut. Raw nuts are toxic to rats. Enough of this.]
Another plant I now realize I helped is this mother-in-law’s tongue/snake plant that was being thrown away when we moved to new offices at work. I have three different pots of it now, but the happiest one is at the Bobcat Lair. How do I know it’s happy? It’s going to bloom! I’ve never seen one of these bloom.
I discovered the little bloom stalk on Monday of this week. I’d hoped it would flower before I had to come back to Cameron.
But, the stalk is still growing. Maybe I’ll get to see the blossom next time I’m in town! I wonder if it’s blooming because it’s filled the container with leaves and feels the need to reproduce, or if it’s telling me thanks for giving it such good light and appropriate watering for the past few years. You just can’t tell. But, I’m convinced that I helped.
Seeing my plant companions thriving makes ME grateful, so I’ve helped both inarticulate friends and myself. Plus, contributing to life on this planet feels to me like it’s creating some balance, which we need. Not everything is destructive and selfish. Kindness is out there! We can help.
I’m having a pity party about this damned pandemic. The germy people are everywhere and no matter how we try, there’s some random exposed person lurking around. I simply can’t hide in the house 24/7. It’s frustrating and scary.
I complained on Facebook, and probably offended some super spreaders, but wow I see a lot of party photos and long trips being shared. But, everyone has to weigh pros and cons. I did, when I went to Utah.
The Good Stuff
Still, my heart is warmed by how people around me are doing what they can for others. I can’t share details, but our Hearts Homes and Hands team is making a real difference in someone’s life, and we’re seeing first hand how community support keeps people in need going. That’s holiday spirit.
And my friends at MTOL have gotten together to help a woman and her dog. They will be safe now. No matter what our personal differences are, our board will stick together and work to help animals (and their people) in need. This kindness, creativity, and generosity is what gives me hope.
So, though I know our business puts us at high risk and I get annoyed that people who could easily stay safe choose not to, I’ll do what I can and keep trying to be helpful. I will trust others to make decisions that are right for them and evaluate their own risks.
Hooray hooray. Today we finally were able to get the work done on the chicken coop to get it ready to hold actual chickens. Yesterday, while enduring the longest lines ever at multiple stores, Chris was able to get all the materials we needed to finish the coop, plus a feeder and waterer.
This morning we got going as soon as we were coffeed up, and with assistance from my brother-in-law Jim and less assistance from me, Chris got a really cool arched roof on the chicken run that will thwart even the most clever hawk or owl. HA! Raptors go eat something else!
It really ended up looking pretty spiffy. Once we got the roof on, Chris and I fired up Hilda the 4-wheeler and rode around the property looking for ideal branches to turn into perches for the chickens, so they can have fun while cooped up in the run.
Vlassic came with us, and thoroughly enjoyed exploring the far ends of the ranch. I showed Chris every inch of the place, and we even visited the horses and Fiona.
I was very happy that Vlassic behaved well with the horses. He started to chase Fiona a couple of times, but she gave him the annoyed donkey look and he backed off. In the end, everyone got along just fine. That’s one dog down, and only four to go…
After we finished putting a wind barrier up on the north side of the chicken coop, we took a break, then went over to the Cameron Touch of Love to finish the last touches on the dog run we’re donating.
Chris and his dad put together the shade roofs for the entry and another area on the run, and also installed wind blocks in one area that will also provide a bit of shade in the summer. We got help from the Fords, our cat rescue folks, so it went pretty quickly.
I took a lot of pictures of the dogs at the pound with the camera I got loaned for Christmas. I wanted to practice taking close-ups.
And I also took some bird pictures. I’ll still work on the photography thing.
Luckily, there was a sad dog named Bud at the pound who I felt sorry for, so I got him brought out to the dog run and played with him. He’s so well behaved that he hates to pee or poop in his pen. He peed for a full minute when he got in the pen, then we played and played. He loves kids and is sweet, but energetic. I hope he gets a family soon.
We came home, and Kathleen and her daughter kindly cooked a New Year’s meal. MMM. Black eyed peas! I hope to make some tomorrow, if I can get any when I get back to Austin.
What a fun day we had! It was a perfect ending to the year. The last month has seen things start to improve, at least in our little world. I’m going to keep focusing on our family, our friends, and what we can personally make an effect on.
That’s why I’m so glad we can help with Milam Touch of Love and the dogs at the pound. We CAN make a difference there.
I‘m so proud of the work that Lee’s nephew, niece, and brother (Chris, Kathleen and Jim) did yesterday at the Cameron dog pound. On behalf of our company and through the Milam Touch of Love organization, they put together a huge, safe dog run so the pound puppies can get exercise and play with each other. It’s also a great place for potential adopters to get to know the dogs. Below is a slightly edited version of what I wrote for Hearts Homes and Hands this morning.
Yesterday was a fun day for Hearts Homes and Hands! We got to fulfill our promise of building a big dog run for the City of Cameron Touch of Love facility, which is our local dog pound. Lee and Sue Ann got two of their wonderful dogs from the facility, which strives to adopt out all dogs that come in, unless they are too sick or injured.
We donated the money to buy the materials to the Milam Touch of Love organization, which supports the welfare of all animals in Milam County, and on which Sue Ann has served on the Board since it was founded. As we shared earlier, we got the materials on Thanksgiving weekend, but had to wait until our crew came back into town before the big job of building the dog run could be done.
Early yesterday morning, our team arrived at the pound, where Sandra Ritch, the Cameron Animal Control Officer was eagerly waiting. Our Administrator, Kathleen Caso, led a team consisting of her husband, Chris (the mastermind of this project), Jim Caso (Chris’s dad AND one of our clients), and our dedicated office queen, Meghan Land, who is also on the Board of Milam Touch of Love.
The Internet ate what I was writing earlier today, and it has been a long couple of days, so you luck out and get to read about the CHICKENS again. I’ll also share some cute dogs before getting all thoughtful again tomorrow.
This evening, Kathleen and I went over to feed the animals, as usual, just before sunset. We heard a LOT of mooing, and when we got there we saw the Vrazels’ cattle in the race. Other cattle were in the pens. As you can see, these were mamas and babies (hooray, I got to see the spotted ones up close).
They said they were going to AI all the mamas, which meant there was no way for us to get to the horses. I said I’d do it in the morning. No problem. It was fun watching them move the little ones away from their moms. They were displeased.
So, we went back to the chicken area, where Big Red and Little Red were eating some popcorn that Yanelly must have given them. I gave them some feed and scratch, then looked around for Buffy. She was nowhere to be seen, so I figured she must have finally bit the dust. Also, there were no eggs in their new nest (they have totally deserted the old coop).
How many times have you heard the saying that “there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’?” More than enough, I’m sure. It hints that we should all be selflessly working together to achieve our organizational goals, a thing that totally goes against the annoying American worship of independence, yee haw.
I admit that I have always wanted to be a member of a team. Gosh, if only I wasn’t small, chubby, and extremely slow, I could have even been on a sports team at some point in my life. But, though I was very accurate at kicking and throwing a football, girls couldn’t play on those teams (and my distance sucked). As a young adult, I was politely asked to stop participating on my husband’s volleyball team, because they were actually competitive. Sigh.
Hey, let’s change the subject. Cheerful stuff! No one reads this kind of post! I’ll write anyway.
Yesterday afternoon, since there was no internet in Cameron anyway, I went on a fact-finding mission to Aggieland Humane Society in Brazos County with my MTOL co-directors, Jean and Mark. Our brains are now very full.
We met a smart person
We found the whole facility to be warm and friendly. You feel welcome as soon as you approach the place, too.
We met with the executive director, Kathy Bice, who started out as an Animal Control Officer and has learned the animal shelter business from the ground up. She was incredibly generous with her knowledge of building animal shelters. More important, she gave us invaluable information for ways to raise the funding our Milam Touch of Love organization will need to create a quality facility for our county’s animals.
The Portacool is still holding up, and I’m dying from smelling barbecue on an empty stomach. I’m now the only staff, but since business is not brisk, it’s fine.
We did see a beautiful bug and I got a great photo of it on Meghan’s tattoo. Perhaps it’s Rugosana querci. Or not. But it’s beautiful and tiny.
A lot of our volunteers have dropped by, including Tom and Windy, who do the kitten rescue and fostering for the Cameron Touch of Love. They got these bright shirts so people can easily see them when they are rescuing cats from “interesting” places. We all love the color!
A little later
We were also visited by Mary Lou and Janiece, from Rockdale. Thanks to them, I got some lunch!
Janiece is the Animal Control Officer for Rockdale. They have lots of dogs available, and not much space, so they’d be a great source of a new canine friend!
Milam Touch of Love is also helping their pound out with their donations. Next we are trying to figure out how to open a shelter for the animals out in the county, who can’t be taken to the pound. Yes, I can’t adopt them ALL!
Public Service Announcement over!
My own family even came! And Kathleen donated. We decided to head out early, so we only have a half hour left.
Hey. Just a short post asking you all to think of me as I sit near fire ants until 4 pm. I’m doing yet another Milam Touch of Love event. I’m in charge so I can’t leave. And sun is my enemy! I got sunstroke in high school. Since then, ugh.
Luckily one of our volunteers brought a porta-cool thing, which should help, and our canopy will help once the sun is higher. And I have ice. And a neck wrap.
The good news is we are near the coffee guy. And he’s open!
More later! Come by the Cameron FunFest and Barbecue Cookoff to see me.
Getting in touch with your emotional truth, by processing feelings to improve the human condition in the 21st century. Living out loud by my motto,"Triumphing over Trauma" 🌈
In light and in shadow, always with ❤