Thursday, 29 December 2011

valentines flowers men - Many pets given as Christmas gifts end up in shelters, animal advocates say

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GRAND RAPIDS — A cute puppy or kitten might have made a fun Christmas present, but what about the next day when your cute little gift soils the rug?
Or, the day after that, when you have to be at work and now must make pet-sitting arrangements?
Scenarios like this illustrate why many animals bought at the pet store in December will end up at the local animal shelter or Humane Society by Valentine’s Day.
Both organizations generally see an increase in pet surrenders in the first months of the year, a spike that pet experts say is attributed in part to well-meaning gift-givers who don’t quite think through everything pet ownership entails.
“If you think about what the average family household has going on around the holidays, that’s generally not a good environment to introduce a new pet into,” said Carly Luttmann, program supervisor at the Kent County Animal Shelter.
For that reason, the shelter, as well as the Humane Society of West Michigan, discourage or deny gift adoptions around the holidays, a time when traffic in pet adoptions increases for a variety of reasons not necessarily related to gift-giving.
At the Humane Society, Jennifer Self-Aulgur, humane education coordinator, says the staff gives people looking to adopt for a relative a gift certificate instead.
It’s a common move for pet shelters who want the person taking ownership of the animal to be the one who goes through the adoption process. People are encouraged to wrap up a bone or dog collar, or give a card of some kind and bring the pet home later.
Owning a pet should be a family decision, say both organizations. At the Humane Society, they often see a mom and dad bring the kids with in beaming smiles, because “we’re getting a puppy today.”
“That’s a big difference than the brother who comes in to get a dog for mom,” said Self-Aulgur.
It doesn’t always register with people that their cute new puppy will need food and training, said Luttmann.
“They don’t really think past, ‘That is cute. I want it now,” she said. “Were talking about a 15-year commitment in most cases. It’s a living, breathing animal.
“This takes some thought.”
Still, not every gift adoption is destined for failure, she said. People can be very resilient to change. Nonetheless, a new pet is a “big upheaval.”
At the shelter, the adoption process includes some “getting acquainted” time with the animal, and an application that covers the basics of the household. They try not to adopt to renters who have landlords that don’t allow pets.
Then, there’s a session with a trained counselor who shares staff observations about the animal’s temperament and what they know about the health history. Eventually, if all goes well, the new pet owners pay their fees and leave with the new family member.
The counseling includes discussion about bringing the pet back if it doesn’t work out. The shelter would rather have the pet come back than become abused, neglected or put out on the street.
“The conversation is very educational,” said Luttmann.
valentines flowers men

valentines flowers men - Gift of the magi: Lost money found again

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Over here in Germany, Christmas is serious business. Nearly every village puts on some sort of Christmas festival or market, some of which run for an entire month of holiday bliss. The food alone is enough to keep me coming back for more.

But my favorite thing about Christmas in Deutschland would have to be the nativities. They are absolutely everywhere. I haven’t seen Santa at a single Christmas market, but the story of Jesus is presented in nearly every format imaginable, including live animation.

The other day my girlfriend and I took the children to one of the local village Christmas markets not far from our area. I had a few Christmas gifts to buy and had been looking for something decidedly German to send back to family in the states. Leaving my purse in the car, I pocketed 100 euros ($130) and my cell phone and headed out with the kids in search of Christmas treasure.

As soon as we entered the main square of the festival we saw, much to our wondering awe, the three wise men and their camels in full New Testament regalia. They were awesome.

The kids and I visited for a moment, got a picture, and made a note of the live play taking place later in the afternoon.

We moved on and found scattered among the shops a live stable filled with animals ­­— donkey, goats, fowl, sheep ­— for the children to touch and smell (the smell was very authentic). It was a great teaching moment and I snapped another picture before we headed on our way.

After wandering through the crowds and stalls I finally found some ornaments to purchase. Reaching into my pocket for my wad of cash I fingered my phone and dug around for the bills.

Nothing. My pocket was empty.

I checked my other pocket in vain knowing that my money had been next to my phone — the same phone I had snapped pictures with 15 minutes earlier.

With a heavy heart my friend and I retraced our steps. I didn’t have much hope. We carefully checked the busy walkways for my missing money but we all know that bills rarely end up as litter. The cash was nowhere to be seen.

All I could think about was my quickly depleting Christmas budget. Why had I taken so much money with me, and why hadn’t I put it someplace safe, like my underwear?

We continued to retrace our steps and I continued to mumble a sad little prayer under my breath. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if the money never surfaced, and if it went to someone who needed it more than us that was fine, too. But please, if there could be a way …

Finally we landed ourselves once again in front of the magi. I approached the wise men and told them my plight. They shook their heads, no money had been found. I turned to leave, the day completely ruined, when the oldest (and wisest) of the three stopped me.

“Wait,” he said, “I have an idea. Let us check the city hall, perhaps someone has turned it in.” I left the children with my friend as the gentleman took my arm and we headed across the town square, through the alley and around the church, finally entering the Rathaus.

We walked down a narrow hall and he knocked on the last door. Upon entering, the fellow told the lady behind the desk my story, asking if anyone had turned in the money.

I stood there staring out the window. Their conversation was in German and my faith wasn’t much better than a soggy yule log.

Finally the man turned to me with a big grin.

“They have it,” he said. “Someone found it on the street and turned it in. See? People are good!”

He might not have been one of the real wise men, but he was good and wise and willing to help a poor, stupid American far from home feeling lost and forlorn. How funny that even after all this time the magi continue to show us that answers don’t usually come unless we’re willing to go the distance.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

valentines flowers men - 2011: The people we met

valentines flowers men
Harry Trowbridge: A life in nine holes
Harry Trowbridge, 93, first golfed in his late 30s. He was just looking for something to do. Now he plays almost every day. And he never uses a motorized cart.
“I enjoy being out here in God’s creation,” he says. “I love being outdoors.”
With his first swing during an August outing at a nine-hole course in Arcadia, his lean, tan arms send the ball nearly 100 yards down the middle of the fairway.
“I didn’t hit a very good one,” he says.
On the sixth green, Harry misses a short putt, then puts the ball in the hole and looks up.
“I very seldom have what I’d call a bad day,” he says.
After multiple putts on the ninth green, he finishes with a few more strokes than usual. Harry doesn’t stop. He doesn’t even slow down. He picks up his ball and heads for the first tee.
Jacob Finke, Michael Hoepner and Alex Butenhoff: Hope Lutheran’s three-man pep band
What do you do when most pep bands have more members than your school has students?
Suffer in silence?
Not at Hope Lutheran High School, where Jacob Finke is on lead guitar, Michael Hoepner on bass and Alex Butenhoff on drums — a power trio as a pep band.
“We’re the only one we know of,” Alex said.
The school tried to put together a more traditional pep band last year, “with trumpets and stuff,” Jacob said. “But it didn’t get off the ground.”
The repertoire isn’t John Philip Sousa — there’s no arrangement of “The Stars and Stripes Forever” for electric bass — but the boys get the crowd going with covers of classic rock ‘n’ roll tunes.
“I definitely enjoy Jimi Hendrix covers,” Alex said.
Jim and Ollie Anderson: 64 years of lovely Valentine’s Day dates
For Jim, 89, and Ollie Anderson, 86, Valentine’s Day isn’t just about flowers and chocolate — it’s their wedding anniversary.
Jim was on his way home from Germany in 1945 to the tiny map dot of Newfolden, Minn., when he stopped in St. Paul to visit friends at Macalester College. It was in the school’s library that a pretty girl named Ollie caught the 24-year-old World War II veteran’s eye.
He was smitten.
Once Ollie graduated, Jim decided to move north and finish his degree at Moorhead. They wanted their wedding to take place before he started spring-term classes. Valentine’s Day 1947 seemed like the best choice.
After 64 years of marriage, they still look forward to planning activities they can do together.
“You’ve always got a date,” Ollie said. “Someone you can share your life with.”
J.D. Allen and the Music of Mercy choir: Singing for joy
For J.D. Allen, leading the Music of Mercy choir — composed of special-needs men and women ages 21 to 50 — represents a long journey back to one of the major loves of his life: music.
J.D., a working songwriter in California since the 1960s, was on the verge of signing a record deal in 1995.
Then Lyme disease robbed him of most of his muscle tone and ended his career. Four years later, he lost his wife and his parents. He moved to Illinois, where he joined a disability ministry. It changed his life.
For choir members, singing is not just about hitting every note, J.D. said. Rather, it’s about the love of singing together.
“It’s not about perfection,” he said. “It’s an example of how they can be creative and involved.
“Their joy is just infectious.”
Larry Cortez: Grave deeds
Larry Cortez has been restoring bits and pieces of the Crow Creek Reservation cemetery in South Dakota for much of his life, having visited the cemetery nearly every Easter since he was in diapers.
In 2007, Cortez joined a group that spent time setting, gluing and cleaning the cemetery’s monuments, work that sometimes included moving 400-pound bricks.
That fall, when Cortez enrolled in Southeast Technical College’s welding program, he discovered an opportunity to do more: welding new crosses for the cemetery. Crosses that wouldn’t rot, wouldn’t decay and wouldn’t burn in the grass fires routinely used to clear the cemetery grounds.
“I’m not trying to get something out of it,” he said. “It just gives you a good feeling to help your community.”
Ricky Becher: Duct tape kid
Duct-tape folders, duct-tape wallets and duct-tape purses — Ricky Becher makes them all. Sometimes for class, sometimes for friends. Duct-tape masks, flags, pennants for sports teams. A blue-green globe, a chicken, a pair of shoes. A duct-tape boat.
He started tinkering with duct tape four years ago, fashioning wallets like his friends were. Then, on a request from a teacher, Becher made a folder — and the project kicked his creativity into gear.
“He’d go to the store and buy 10 to 15 rolls at a time,” said his mother, Kathy Becher. “He could do a six-hour Saturday doing duct tape.”
Becher can’t quite explain his propensity to create, to take a common adhesive and turn it into art. But like the shoes, the boat, the purses and all the pieces in his repertoire, once the idea takes hold, he brings it to life.
Ashley Kruse and Dain McDonald: A black, orange and white wedding
When Ashley Kruse, 23, and Dain McDonald, 24, met six years ago on a social-networking site, Dain immediately sparked Ashley’s interest with a picture of the hearse he bought at 16. “I’ve always loved hearses,” Ashley said.
Ten months later, they were living together. One summer, Dain gave Ashley a Christmas present: a hearse, wrapped in multiple tarps and with a bow on top.
The two married Oct. 15 at Watkins Manor in a ceremony and celebration that featured costumes and black-and-orange decor. The Halloween lovers and hearse owners knew they didn’t want a typical wedding.
“It boiled down to being original without going overboard,” Dain said.
Donna Portner: Tracing the family tree back to Adam
On a 24-foot scroll containing names, locations and birthdates of her ancestors, Donna Portner’s name takes up only inches.
The scroll details the complicated lineage of the Galesville resident’s ancestors, from Underground Railroad activists and American pioneers to royalty. As she looks over names like Henry Hudson, Charlemagne the Great and Adam — yes, that Adam — she’s filled with pride.
“I’m a sum total of all my ancestors,” she said. “There are seeds of greatness in me that I didn’t know I had.”
Portner began researching her family tree nearly 50 years ago as a way of discovering herself and finding a link to the past. The tree eventually narrowed into one long, thin branch that reached into biblical records — and ended with Adam in the Garden of Eden.
Portner knows the root of her record sounds farfetched. But she doesn’t let the doubts faze her.
“All I can do is write down what I’ve discovered and researched,” she said. “If people choose to question it, they can.”
Junior Ferguson: Stories from Winona’s music industry insider
Junior Ferguson is part legend, part legendary.
He brought George Jones, Patsy Cline, Porter Wagoner and Eddie Cochran to Winona 50 years ago.
His radio programs were broadcast live from the old Winona Opera Hall, long since destroyed by fire.
But the past collides with the present every Wednesday night at Wellington’s Pub in Winona. That’s when the 86-year-old Ferguson takes the microphone.
With brown hair slicked back, his voice landing somewhere between a tremolo and a rasp and a wallet full of black-and-white pictures, he resurrects a musical career that began when country music and rock ‘n’ roll were both at a zenith.
Sylvia Palbicki: Dishing out samples at Midtown Foods
Three days each week Sylvia Palbicki does what she has been doing since Midtown Foods opened in 1983: she hands out samples and sells like a pro.
Palbicki talks with everyone who passes by, particularly with those who stop to try a sample.
“People tell me I am a good salesman and that I should be selling cars. I tell them, no, I should be selling food. It’s my middle name: Sylvia Food.
“I’m 89. Big deal! I’m still kicking, too, but not so hard.
“If (customers) come in every day, I know what they need, or I tell them what they need.”
“I know how to get them all the bargains.”
valentines flowers men

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Valentines Flowers Men - Flowers Shines In Win

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IRVINE — The fleeting scent of a UC Irvine men's basketball victory Thursday night was rendered even more fragrant with the advent of Derrick Flowers in bloom.

The Anteaters' junior point guard had a career-high nine assists and, combined with a solid performance at UCLA on Tuesday, appears to be making the most of an opening in the starting lineup created by freshman Aaron Wright's right-knee injury four games ago.

Flowers was one of a few bright spots for the Anteaters (3-9), who thumped visiting Hope International, 76-54, to halt a three-game losing streak. It was UCI's second win over an NAIA school this season, as it edged Vanguard, 75-73, at home on Dec. 10.


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Freshman Mike Best had a career-high 17 points and was one of six 'Eaters with at least one three-pointer.

Starters Daman Starring and Chris McNealy had 12 and 11 points, respectively, while Adam Folker added eight points and seven rebounds for the winners.

But along with Best, who drained eight of 10 field-goal attempts in 18 minutes, Flowers was the story.

"He's been waiting for an opportunity," Turner said of the 6-foot flash whose quickness with the ball has always been his calling card, even when he struggled with decisions on what to do with it.

"My sophomore year, [Turner] would throw me in there and hope I did something good. And if I did, he'd try to get me out of there before I did something wrong," said Flowers, whose most memorable assist came on a high alley-oop pass to Will Davis. Davis, a 6-8 freshman, soared over a defender to snare the pass, then dunked while being fouled, before sharing a leaping chest bump with Flowers.

"I feel like they are excited to play with me and I'm excited to play with them," Flowers said of his teammates, who like Flowers and Turner, are gaining confidence in their emerging floor leader.

"I felt like UCLA [nine points on four-of-five shooting from the field with three assists and one turnover] was my best game, until tonight, when I was the floor general," Flowers said. "I told everyone where to go and I got some guys some good shots. And I hit a few shots myself."

Flowers was just two of eight from the field, and one of six from three-point range. But he had only three turnovers in 29 minutes.