Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Northern Girl Heads South

Before I tell you about my 1600+ mile adventure last week, let me first offer some background.

There was so much good news brewing that I could not wait to announce on my blog at the beginning of July. On July 1st, I was awarded a children's book project, illustrating an "ABC's of yoga" book. Less than 48 hours later, the book project was shelved (no pun intended). Then on July 4th, I was involved in an auto accident which flung me around my vehicle like a rag doll. The other motorist was not looking at all where he was going, all the while accelerating at a moderate speed through a parking lot and into the side of my vehicle. I was taken to the emergency room, and my red Honda CR-V was towed to a lot full of crumpled metal carcasses. I suffered no broken bones, but a broken spirit. My weekend was spent at home with ice packs and Advil. The only fireworks I saw were over the tree tops outside of my second story bedroom window. And my car was totaled.

The next 2 weeks were spent making trips to the chiropractor's office and on the phone with 2 insurance companies. It was 6 days before I could even get a rental car!

My friend Pam, whom I met in Sophmore year English class in high school and always manages to keep me laughing, invited me to ride along with her and her 2 kids to visit family in Alabama. She has invited me to tag along with them in the past, but since I average one vacation a decade (literally), a vacation with kids has never really appealed to me. Greece or the south of France sounded a bit more appealing, but Alabama was calling, and this time I answered. After lots of advice from my chiropractor, who agreed some time away would be good for my mind, I packed my suitcase and 24 hours later Pam was throwing it in the back of a rental car and we were heading south.

The landscape is vastly different from the cornfields and farmlands we drove through in Illinois. The roads are cut right into the mountain rock.

Fresh air and a fresh perspective.

Happiness = Pam and her son Matthew, and me in the middle. Matthew is 7 and into all venemous creatures. He will tell you all you ever wanted to know about scorpions and black widow spiders. Pam's daughter Jordan (not pictured) is 8, and into being "rich and famous" one day, and loves Miley Sirus.

I do wish I had captured more of this day in the country. I had forgotten my camera most of the day.

We drove up to Lookout Mountain for the view and to look at all of the beautiful homes built into the rock.

A dramatic sunset...

Now onto the "other" part of our vacation, one I find horribly sad.

Pam's sister Peggy found these puppies near a cardboard box, abandoned on the side of the road near the woods. I am not a member of PETA, nor do I think animals should receive the same rights as humans, but please people, be responsible and spay or neuter your pets! And if you do not want to shell out the money to do that, don't get a pet and then throw out the offspring when you don't want them. Animals are intelligent and do have feelings. These puppies were covered with ticks and fleas, were weak and hungry and dehydrated. The stray population is enormous in Alabama, where many people do not want to spend the nominal fee to have a simple procedure done to ensure their pets will not reproduce and overpopulate.

"Cookie" was the strongest, and 2 days after we rescued her, she acted like a normal little puppy.

"Shadow" looks sad in this picture. But she also is doing well now and is still recovering from the ticks and fleas...you can see the scars on her chest and face and tummy.

"Sweetie".....did not make it. You can see the bites all over her body. She suffered mange, and likely anemia due to blood loss from the parasites. Animal Control took her from us and euthanised her. I still wonder if we could have saved her after seeing how well her sisters bounced back. It makes me cry, really.

We spent much of trip caring for the puppies and emailing and phoning friends back in Illinois to see if anyone wanted a puppy. I am happy to say that Cookie and Shadow were both placed in happy homes with nice families.

One of the best parts of the whole trip was actually the driving. While flying seems so much more convenient, I loved seeing parts of the country I have never seen before, stopping off for ice cream and coffee and sodas in small towns I will probably never see again. It was a very good trip.


  1. OH, these are beautiful pictures Kate! It feels like we got to go on a short trip with you through your photos. I'm so glad you saved the pups. It shows you are much more than just a talented artist. You are a softie too. :) (btw, I awarded you back!)

  2. Oh, what a month for you Kate. I'm so sorry about your accident and 'almost' book. You are brave to have taken such a big road trip after a car accident - I remember being skittish about being in cars after an accident years ago. I hope you're feeling better. I'm glad that your dog story ended on a (mostly) positive note. It looks like you had a great time on the road - I hope you keep up the vacationing more than once a decade tradition!!!

  3. hey kate,

    i've been a super lazy blogger and artist lately but had it in my head to pop by and see what you were up to

    let me say your story broke my heart - first with the shelved book (been through that more times than i can count and it is always a bit heart wrenching as an artist to deal with the feeling of rejection and the loss of potential earnings doing what you love)

    then the auto accident! yikes!!! i'm so sorry - i'm glad you made it through though - driving scares me sometimes.

    then the puppies --- Oh my, how sad and depressing :) they are after all, Gods creatures and i don't think he created them so us humans could abandon and abuse them. :(

    my father being a vet, i can tell you some sad tales - plus growing up all my pets were abandoned by someone or left at my dads clinic to never be picked up. They proved better friends to me than most humans.

    But the uplifting part (and i have to find that!) is that the pups were lucky enough that you came along and took time out of your life to help - even the wee one that died - at least for a moment she was loved. Wow, I'm feeling really weepy here.

    You are a talented artist Kate and a kind soul ---

    I"m glad you had a vacation (what is that? :)) and you are back and hopefully feeling refreshed.

  4. Looks like a great adventure Kate. Lucky for those pups you decided to go. *sigh*... I need a dog. 8 )

  5. it sounds like just what you needed after a bummer start to the month...but sorry that it had to have sadness as well...although you DID save two lives...good for you.

  6. This trip sounds fantastic. Except for the puppy part (those poor things)... I'm glad you were there to take care of them.

  7. What a crazy last month! Congratulations on your book for Smithsonian, that is wonderful. I am probably not alone in being relieved to hear that you are alright. Your pictures were wonderful to look at. What sweet puppies...its sad to know that one had to die, but at least you guys rescued the other two and totally did the right thing! I hope you got some fresh perspective and are doing much better!

  8. My heart is wrenching for you. I'm happy that you shared this story with your blog readers. The ups and downs of life and career through physical and mental pain really only make life interesting After they've happened. You come off as a confident and beautiful person which is probably why you've been blessed with such an amazing set of talents! I wish you happiness, success and good luck the rest of the year (and for said puppies).


  9. Oh what a posting, ups and downs. I was so sad over the puppy "sweetie" my dog is a Cookie and she's handicapped, in a dog wheel chair. When people see her, for the most part, they feel uplifted. But sometimes I get that look by someone that I'm being inhumane to keep her alive. But she's thriving despite her condition. I wouldn't have it any other way. After all, she's family.

  10. Glad to hear you had a nice trip (despite the abandoned puppies).

    And I have to agree. I would drive over fly any day. like you said, there is so much to see, and many neat and interesting small towns you miss.

    We drove to West Virginia from Florida last year for my Grandmothers funeral, but despite the circumstances, we turned it into a wonderful mini vacation and history lesson (got to see where my Grandmother grew lived and grew up, and some BEAUTIFUL scenery, since the leaves were changing. Almost made me want to move there!)

    Hope all is well with you now. Take care!

  11. Wonderful photo's Kate! I'm so glad that you are alright!I'm sorry about your car.That must have really shaken your spirit up.
    I too feel that people should respect animals. Where as they aren't PEOPLE. EVERY living creature deserves respect.
    Thank you for sharing this with us!

  12. HI Kate!

    I'm so happy to hear you received another book job! It will look beautiful and i hope you are able to post some of it for us to see! :)

    Also, so glad you received $ so you can buy a car! hooray!!! I love my old dinger but someday i hope to buy a hatchback (after i've run this one into the ground) as i figure with a hatchback it will be easier to get my animals into the car - and I know Georgia the greyhound would love to look at all the people driving behind me. :)

  13. Well all the other commenters said it all. But I am glad you are back and hopefully recovered from that awful beginning of the month. I'm feeling all teary about the puppies. I'm glad you guys saved them! I'm also glad you got the other book projecct... it sounds fabulous!!

    I've found many times, when I just "let go", everything falls into place eventually. You did a great thing for yourself going on that trip. Good for you for taking care of yourself! Welcome back!

  14. Thanks everyone for all of your wonderful encouragement and thoughtful comments. Means so much to me. : )

  15. Say WHAT?! Where have I been?! I'm just now reading about your accident and sending praises that it wasn't more serious!

    Amazing country you visited - never been to that part of the country. Our USA is sooooo diverse, if I ever win a million dollars I'd get an RV and see it all!

    In the meantime, we'll be taking one of those "staycations" (thanks to gas prices) and camping locally next month on the edge of the San Rafael Wilderness. It will be Basha's first camping trip - this ought to be interesting.

    Hope you are fully healed - Seems like I've had A LOT of healing prayers to send out lately...

  16. Beautiful pictures of that trip Kate!!

    But the puppy story just got me down... I hate it when that happens. What is wrong with people!!!!!!! It makes me so mad!!!

    I'm glad the puppies found you guys...

  17. My comment got cut somehow.. sorry.

    Oh dear Kate.. I'm so sorry about your accident. I'm glad you are ok although I'm not so glad about your broken spirit.

    I know there are very tough moments in life but you outlived it and now you are a better person for it. Really.

  18. oh Kate!!! I am so sorry you were in an accident....but so thankful you are ok...that is the most important thing ....

    you sound like you had a nice time away from it all...and that road trip was just what you needed...

    the photos are wonderful and thank you for sharing them....

    We just got back from a week away and totally disconnected from any technology and e-mail...at first it was pretty difficult....but I learned to just enjoy our time away...just what I needed to get back into the spirit of things...

    I pray for you and am thankful you are ok and thankful there are such wonderful people in the world...you saved some cute puppies along the way...bless your heart!!!

  19. It sounds like a trip away was just what you needed, Kate! Goodness, I'm so glad you're okay after the accident. How are you healing? Michelle is still only able to work 12 hours per week after her accident back in December 07. I hope you are doing okay.

    Your trip sounded perfect though it was sad to read about the plight of the puppies. I just can't comprehend how some people can close off their feelings like that towards another living being....very sad for 'Sweetie' but you must feel great that the other two have found loving homes. Kudos to you!

    I read that the book deal is back on the table so congratulations!


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