Charity of the Month
In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.
Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.
A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.
I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through https://teamheifer.heifer.org/AYearofCenturies. If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit www.heifer.org. Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Friday, August 30, 2013
beautifully, gloriously robed,
Dressed up in sunshine,
and all heaven stretched out for your tent.
You built your palace on the ocean deeps,
made a chariot out of clouds and took off on wind-wings.
You commandeered winds as messengers,
appointed fire and flame as ambassadors.
You set earth on a firm foundation
so that nothing can shake it, ever.
You blanketed earth with ocean,
covered the mountains with deep waters;
Then you roared and the water ran away—
your thunder crash put it to flight.
Mountains pushed up, valleys spread out
in the places you assigned them.
You set boundaries between earth and sea;
never again will earth be flooded.
You started the springs and rivers,
sent them flowing among the hills.
All the wild animals now drink their fill,
wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Along the riverbanks the birds build nests,
ravens make their voices heard.
You water the mountains from your heavenly cisterns;
earth is supplied with plenty of water.
You make grass grow for the livestock,
hay for the animals that plow the ground.
wine to make people happy,
Their faces glowing with health,
a people well-fed and hearty.
God’s trees are well-watered—
the Lebanon cedars he planted.
Birds build their nests in those trees;
look—the stork at home in the treetop.
Mountain goats climb about the cliffs;
badgers burrow among the rocks.
The moon keeps track of the seasons,
the sun is in charge of each day.
When it’s dark and night takes over,
all the forest creatures come out.
The young lions roar for their prey,
clamoring to God for their supper.
When the sun comes up, they vanish,
lazily stretched out in their dens.
Meanwhile, men and women go out to work,
busy at their jobs until evening.
You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.
Oh, look—the deep, wide sea,
brimming with fish past counting,
sardines and sharks and salmon.
Ships plow those waters,
and Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in them.
All the creatures look expectantly to you
to give them their meals on time.
You come, and they gather around;
you open your hand and they eat from it.
If you turned your back,
they’d die in a minute—
Take back your Spirit and they die,
revert to original mud;
Send out your Spirit and they spring to life—
the whole countryside in bloom and blossom.
Let God enjoy his creation!
He takes one look at earth and triggers an earthquake,
points a finger at the mountains, and volcanoes erupt.
sing hymns to my God as long as I live!
Oh, let my song please him;
I’m so pleased to be singing to God.
But clear the ground of sinners—
no more godless men and women!
O my soul, bless God!
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Mont-Ventoux is 6,273 feet high. Bruce will climb the mountain two times each from three towns: Bédoin, Malaucène, and Sault. His total ride will be 169 miles with an elevation gain of 29,154 feet (an average of about 173 feet per mile). For comparison, the longest I have ever ridden at one time is 109 miles. In Middle Georgia where I usually ride, the elevation gain is about 50 feet per mile, and so on a typical ride I might gain 2,000 feet of elevation. According to my Strava data, I have climbed 226,634 feet year-to-date; Bruce will climb more than 10% of this in one day. And I thought doing one century per month was a challenge!
As if Bruce’s ride weren’t exciting enough, he’s making it an opportunity to raise funds for two wonderful greyhound rescue groups, Greyhound Pets of America (GPA) Indianapolis and Prison Greyhounds. GPA Indianapolis finds homes for retired racing greyhounds, just like Southeastern Greyhound Adoption (which is also part of GPA), my April charity in A Year of Centuries. Bruce’s other charity, Prison Greyhounds, is a terrific program in which nonviolent inmates care for greyhounds from the racetrack, preparing the dogs for permanent homes. This helps ease the shortage of foster homes for greyhounds, and the greyhounds provide a calming effect for the entire prison population. It’s a win-win situation for hounds and humans.
For more details about the Climb for Hounds, including information about how to make a donation, please visit http://www.greyhoundresort.com/FUNDRAISING_EVENT.html. Ride on, Bruce!
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Monday, August 26, 2013
Older dogs are open books—from the start, you’ll know important things like their full-grown size, personality and grooming requirements. All this information makes it easier to pick the right dog and forge that instant love connection that will last a lifetime. If you’re not so into surprises, an older dog is for you!
2. Easy to Train
Think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Hogwash! Older dogs are great at focusing on you—and on the task at hand—because they’re calmer than youngsters. Plus, all those years of experience reading humans can help them quickly figure out how to do what you’re asking.
3. Seniors are Super-Loving
One of the cool parts of our job is reading stories from people just like you who have opted to adopt. The emails we get from pet parents with senior dogs seem to all contain beautiful, heartfelt descriptions of the love these dogs give you—and those of you who adopted dogs already in their golden years told us how devoted and grateful they are. It's an instant bond that cannot be topped!
4. They’re Not a 24-7 Job
Grownup dogs don’t require the constant monitoring puppies do, leaving you with more freedom to do your own thing. If you have young children, or just value your “me time,” this is definitely a bonus.
5. They Settle in Quickly
Older dogs have been around the block and already learned what it takes to get along with others and become part of a pack. They’ll be part of the family in no time!
6. Fewer Messes
Your floors, shoes, and furniture will thank you for adopting a senior pooch! Older dogs are likely to already be housetrained—and even if they’re not, they have the physical and mental abilities to pick it up really fast (unlike puppies). With their teething years far behind them, seniors also are much less likely to be destructive chewers.
7. You Won’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
There are those who yearn for a doggie friend of their own, but hold back because they worry what might happen in their lives in the years to come. And they are wise to do so—a puppy or young dog can be anywhere from an 8- to 20-year responsibility, which is not appropriate for the very elderly or those with certain long-term future plans. Providing a loving home for a dog in her golden years is not a less serious commitment, but it can be a shorter one.
8. They Enjoy Easy Livin’
Couch potato, know thyself! Please consider a canine retiree rather than a high-energy young dog who will run you ragged. Not that older dogs don’t require any exercise—they do—but they’re not going to need, or want, to run a marathon every day.
9. Save a Life, Be a Hero
At shelters, older dogs are often the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized. Saving an animal’s life offers an unparalleled emotional return on your investment, and you’ll feel the rewards every day you spend together.
10. They’re CUTE!
Need we say more?
Sunday, August 25, 2013
Before our trip, I mapped my route using Google Earth and Google Maps. Soon after I began my ride, I discovered that I definitely had picked a good route; I saw pavement markings from an organized ride that had used the same roads that I had selected. The roads were wonderful, winding through a rural area with very little traffic. Just a few miles into my ride, I saw this windmill right next to the road:
The most beautiful thing I saw on the ride, however, was too fleeting for me to photograph. It was the bright sunlight gleaming off of a readheaded woodpecker - glorious!
A few miles later I saw this barn with a vintage-looking Rock City sign:
As I continued around the corner, I was amused to see this updated sign on the side of the barn:
After a while I saw some small apartments that reminded me of student housing. At first I was confused because I didn't know of any colleges in the immediate vicinity, and I hadn't even made it to the next town of any size, Trenton, Georgia. Then I made an astounding discovery; this was a hang gliding park! A number of people were in the large grassy area adjacent to the housing units. They were doing tandem flights on ultralight aircraft. I was totally intrigued and wheeled my bicycle over to them. They were very friendly, and this guy was happy to let me take his picture. He was like a surfer dude with wings:
He jokingly told me that cycling is dangerous and instead I should go for a ride with the ultralight group.
Thus far, I hadn't encountered any significant climbing because I had been riding in a valley. It was the same ridge and valley geology as at my May century in Rome, Up the Creek Without a Pedal. Unbeknownst to me, however, my elevation was about to increase - majorly. The lovely valley road came to an end, and at that T-intersection, I saw this eye-catching sign:
In cycling and in life, sometimes you just have to deviate from your planned route. When I learned that it was only 3.62 miles to Crazy Woman Road (very bottom arrow), I thought...must...go...there. I climbed something like 500,000 ft, got to the top of the road, and checked my GPS, which directed me to somewhere in Arizona. So, I decided that any road I ride on is Crazy Woman Road.
I wanted to make sure to be at the finish line to see Robert, and so it was time to retrace my route. After zooming back down Burkhalter Gap Road, I turned onto the valley road again. I did stop long enough to take pictures of a few things had attracted my attention when I rode by the first time. This patch of black-eyed Susans right by the road was breathtaking:
This USGS gaging station, located at Lookout Creek, may not be breathtaking, but I found it quite interesting because I often use USGS hydrologic data in my work:
The climb up Raccoon Mountain was also pretty significant, but I was expecting that one. Water is pumped from the Tennessee River at the base of Raccoon Mountain to a reservoir at the top. Electric power is generated when the water is released through turbines to flow back down to the river. As I ground my pedals, climbing higher and higher up Raccoon Mountain, I imagined how my potential energy was increasing just like all that water being pumped up to the reservoir. Crazy woman!
Thursday, August 22, 2013
I have seen Mr. Faust and Lady in Bolingbroke, which is where our cycling group meets for group rides. Thank you to everyone who helped them!
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Saturday, August 17, 2013
I planned two events for today in conjunction with my focus this month on the ASPCA. Then, a few days ago I learned that the third Saturday in August is Homeless Animals Day. The timing couldn't be better.
This morning I got to go to the Jasper County Animal Shelter. Several young friends from my church - Kate, Nina, Rhett, and Tom - plus a couple of adult helpers went with me. We had a great time! We walked dogs, cleaned out cages, and played with cats.
The shelter houses at least several dozen each of cats and dogs. The cats use litter boxes, and so the dog cages needed more attention. Some of us walked the dogs. While their cages were empty, others of us helped the staff clean them. This consisted of spraying the walls and floor of the area with a disinfectant that kills parvovirus and other microbes. Then everything was hosed down. Each dog has a raised bed, which was hosed down and had a clean blanket or towel placed on it. Finally, fresh bowls of food and water were placed in the cage. It was gratifying to see that each animal receives adequate care.
Besides these basic requirements, the animals really just need loving human contact. I especially noticed this with four large puppies (siblings, I'm sure) who shared a cage. We had to walk all four of them at the same time so that their cage could be cleaned. They obviously haven't been on leashes very much, and they were pretty scared when we first got them out. However, after Nina, her grandfather, and I spent a little time with them, they seemed to relax a bit. After a while, they were tumbling all over Nina, who laughed delightedly.
All of the dogs seemed to have good temperaments, including the many pit bull mixes. One of the pit bulls made quite an impression on me when I took him for a walk. He was so strong! He probably doesn't weigh much more than my greyhounds, but I'm so used to my greyhounds' docility that the pit bull's power took me by surprise. I think the shelter worker who suggested I walk him knew that this dog probably would overwhelm the children. He wasn't a bad dog by any means, but he definitely needs someone who will work with him patiently to direct all that energy in a positive direction.
The kids had a blast playing with the many cats at the shelter. I'm sure the cats thrived on the abundance of attention, too.
I got pictures of many of the animals. Here's a gallery of good animals looking for good homes:
As I was about to leave the shelter, a sign on a shelf caught my eye. Because of the shirt I was wearing, I had to get a picture of me holding the sign:
That was gracious plenty to make for an excellent day, but I had more fun in store for this evening. I hosted a Dog Days of Summer Celebration at a local restaurant, Deptula's, as a fundraiser for the Jasper County Animal Shelter and the ASPCA.
The original plan was for people to bring their dogs and enjoying mingling in the grassy, shady parking area adjacent to the restaurant. Unfortunately, it's been raining cats and dogs the last few days, and so we had to move everything inside and nix bringing dogs. Fortunately, we still had a great time and raised $259!
Also, I made dog biscuits for people to take home to their dogs. The biscuits were shaped like bones, fire hydrants, and mailmen:
And don't forget the cool party hats!
It really struck me today how easy it is to be of service. By spending only a few hours, right here in our own community, we did something so worthwhile that was fun, too! I'm so glad that A Year of Centuries has spurred me to engage with my neighbors - two-legged and four-legged - in ways that I might not have otherwise.
Friday, August 16, 2013
I had already made plans for that day when I learned about the ride, but a few of my friends will be riding. For more information or to make a donation, please visit http://www.ofortheloveofdog.org/. Note that your donation is to sponsor Stephen Bachelor or Lisa Poole.