Anyone who knows me knows that my pups are pretty important to me and source of great joy in my life.  Ever since I started living on my own I have had at least one dog.  For a while, whilst I lived in Texas with my big backyard and house I was actually up to 3 dogs and a cat.

In the more recent ears (until about 5 years ago) I had just one dog and a cat.  Boeing (dog) & Milo (cat).  Boeing & Milo loved each other and were great friends and playmates.

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Then Sky joined our life!

The Kids flat
Sky Boeing & Milo all got along perfectly!  There was a little period of getting to know each other for Milo (the cat) and Sky.  But both quickly accepted one another.  Boeing never had a problem with Sky.  Boeing was about 14 years old when I got Sky who was still essentially a puppy .  Sky was about a year old when I brought her home.

When Boeing passed away it became very obvious that Sky did not like to be left alone and so I found a puppy for us all on  Zulu was about 8 weeks old when we picked him up and has proved to be the perfect complement to our family.  Zulu has always been completely comfortable being left at home when I have to go to work or other places and as such has made Sky more comfortable being without me.  Sky and Zulu bonded instantly and they just live to love one another and enjoy life!

Dogs love and give so unconditionally that they are truly a terrific example for us humans who can sometimes get caught up in petty differences!  Thanks Sky, Zulu & Boeing for always being so loving to one another and to me.  Love is reflected in Love and they live and express that idea unconditionally!

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One of the special things about Zulu is the way he seems to know exactly which people to approach for love and which dogs to approach.  I have seem him run up towards people with his tail wagging only to realise before getting to close that they weren’t dog people and turn around without hurt feelings as though he had never even headed their way.  He reads people 2015-11-12 11.38.04-3
and dogs amazingly well and one of his dear friends from the day he met her is Tilly, the harbourmasters’ dog.  Tilly is at least 12-13 yr old and from the day he met her Zulu has always rushed up to her and showered her in kisses.  Tilly has been having a rough go of it for the past couple of years but more often than not, Zulu’s adoration perks Tilly up and at times she even runs to greet him too!

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I am so blessed to have these pups in my life and grateful for all the good times and even the challenging times.  They weren’t the perfect dogs out of the box and they are still very individual.  They are good dogs and rarely get in trouble or get me in trouble 🙂

Meet the Prius!

Truck before I fixed her!

As you may recall from an earlier post, I have done a lot of work on my little Toyota Tacoma to get it fixed and back on the road after the unfortunate car accident in February.  The job was no quick job and I knew I couldn’t get her back on the road quickly if I was to do a good job.  The insurance company of the man who hit me paid for my rental car for a few weeks whilst they were trying to determine if I was at any fault in the accident.  I was in a bit of limbo because though I knew I would not be found at fault I was unsure as to the value the insurance company would assess my truck and if it would be deemed fixable or not …. The truck was a 1996 Toyota Tacoma and though that sounds old, this truck has actually gone up in value as opposed to down.

Truck in work!! No small job!

I bought her for $4000 about 4-5 years ago and that was the going price.  Now you can’t buy one similar for $6000!  These trucks are known for their indestructible engines! I do wish the body had proved a little more indestructible but it’s all good now.

The insurance company wound up paying me $6000 for the truck and let me buy it back from them for $350.  It cost me about $1800 in parts to fix it.  In the meantime I needed another vehicle and was in search of a vehicle that could make my 25 mile commute to work a little more fuel efficient since gas prices are so high in California.  The vehicles I would find in the $6000 price range just weren’t right for me and I couldn’t find one that fit my preconceived notion of what I wanted.

I looked at Subarus, Toyotas, SUVs … I found cars I liked but when I would research reliability or especially fuel economy, well, there were no easy choices!

Eventually I happened on a 2010 Prius, local to me and for $10,800.  The Prius only had 52,000 miles on it and was valued by the bank at about 15k.  The catch is the vehicle had been used by a company and had a vinyl wrap on it for advertising their company.  Also, the interior – the cargo was a  bit beat up from the work related tooling and equipment they hauled in it.  Here are a few pictures of the car as I first bought it:

You can click on any of the pictures for larger size!

The pictures above show the way the car looked when I bought it!  All the white on the car was a white vinyl wrap with the lettering and graphics.  The car is white underneath the vinyl wrap and I didn’t really want to drive around advertising for free for a company I didn’t even know!!  With a little research I learned that vinyl wrap can be removed with heat.  I decided I would keep the stripe portion of the graphics and that involved carefully taking a razor blade and cutting just deep enough around the stripe and then heating and pulling the vinyl till it broke along the seam.

After the side graphics & hood graphics were removed I worked on creating a little pattern on the roof from the existing green graphics.


Now some final shots of the finished product!

I also rigged up a dog ramp that slides underneath a pallet I modified dog beds are on top of the pallet and the ramp slides out so that Sky doesn’t need to jump in or out of the vehicle and I don’t have to lift a dirty dog in the car! Of course they are rarely dirty – but beach ventures do seem to equate to wet sandy dog!!

Here us a link to my google photo album  of all the picts

The last couple of months … car accidents & rebuildings…

On the 17th of Feb 2016 I was rear-ended and pushed into another vehicle whilst on my way to work.  The accident on it’s own was scary and jolting to say the least!

This posting is not about the accident but rather about a transition that occurred as a result.  My 1996 Toyota Tacoma truck was declared ‘totaled’ by the party at fault.  The cost to repair it was estimated at around $3900 on the cheap side and closer to 5k on the realistic end.  The insurance company at fault considered my vehicle a total loss and payed me $6000 as a comparable equivalent to my loss. They then allowed me to buy my own vehicle back for $350.  Although a total loss for the insurance overall you couldn’t buy an equivalent replacement for the truck for 6k!

I priced out the basics from junk yards in the area.  $250 for a tailgate, $200 each for front and rear bumper, fenders around $75/ea hood $150 – close to $1000 for the other basics not including the most important part, the radiator support.

The radiator support goes across the front end and is what the radiator is bolted to.  This piece is welded on and there are no after market or readily available junk yard parts.

I started surfing Craigslist.  I found a truck with the exact year and model that was not running for $1700.  I offered him $1000 for his truck as is.  He did not accept but in the long run allowed me to buy all that I needed for the $1000!  The truck was located about 90 minutes away and a full 4-6 hours of work in disassembly.   I came home with all that I needed to reassemble my truck -except for time.

here is a photo album of the experience

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Then the matching of lines, welds and mechanical workings…

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It was a  lot of work but a great sense of satisfaction in it’s completion!  Grateful to have such a big backyard to work in and a harbour-master who is an expert welder!!

Check out my Google+ Photo album for more photos of the process.

And here are a couple of panoramas of my great work space!

The case of the missing Wallet!

In previous posts I have written about my core outlook on life which includes seeing the good in situations and recognising glass as half full or almost full as opposed to half-empty or empty.  Another key ingredient in my mindset is the belief of good in mankind in general and to eliminate any temptation to allow worry or fear become a driving force in the way I think of or approach a situation.

I was once told that worry is, in essence, ‘ingratitude in advance’!  I love that thought!  I try to focus on being grateful for the things at hand as opposed consuming time and energies with the ungratefulness of worry for those things in the future.  You can’t really worry about things in the past so worry is only an activity wasted on things that may or may not come about in the future!

Why do I mention this?  Well, Weds. the 30th of September, 2015 I was preparing for my trip to the UK (leaving on the 31st).  I went to REI (a outdoor clothing & accessories store) and tried on a pair of pants.  In the process of trying on the pants I wanted to be sure my wallet fit comfortably in my pocket so I put my wallet in the side pocket.  As you 2016-01-10 16.57.19can possibly guess, I forgot to take the wallet back out of my pants and since I wound up not buying the pants….well, the wallet didn’t come home with me !!

I didn’t realise until later that evening that my wallet was missing.  I was in the midst of packing for my trip so I presumed I had just misplaced it during packing.  It wasn’t until much later that same evening that I had a good idea that I had lost it in the REI store.  My flight the next day was not until late in the afternoon so I had time to go back to the store to retrieve it.  Unfortunately, it was not there!.  I went through all the pants I might have tried on and looked through dressing rooms as did the Manager.  He checked lost and found.  All to no avail. I had to leave empty-handed.

That’s when those worrisome scenarios tried to creep in.  Would whoever found it keep it?  Would stolen identity be a problem?  I had to quickly put those types of thought to rest while simultaneously taking the necessary steps to protect myself such as deactivating my credit cards.  The immediate need at hand was to be able to continue my planned trip so time wasted in worry would not have been helpful.

I had just renewed my license so I had an old license, a debit card I had never activated and a credit card reserved for trips not to mention my passport so I was able to continue on my trip as planned.  I was sure that it would turn up and had hopes that maybe I had somehow misplaced it at home and one day it would surprise me when I least expected.

There certainly were times in the weeks to follow where I momentarily entertained thoughts of possible stolen identity and such.  Over and over again I put those thoughts aside and kept knowing that somehow somewhere it would turn up.

That surprise came a few days after Christmas.  I received a voicemail from the Manager of REI.  He had my wallet in the safe at his store.  The following morning I went to the store to retrieve the wallet and spoke with the day manager. She retrieved my wallet from the store safe and was amazed to hear that I had lost it 3 months earlier.  The day manager had presumed I had lost it the preceding night.

As it turns out someone had purchased those pants I tried on and had not used them apparently since purchase.  Upon discovering my wallet they returned it to the store where the Manager still had my contact details!

I am reminded once again to never give up on believing that mankind is inheritantly good at heart and honest.  The media and personal prejudices may try to influence us into believing the opposite but time and time again I have seen the true honesty and goodness of character of mankind in general.  This has been one more proof in my life of goodness out there!


Reading – let’s collectively not make it a lost art

Do you have time to read this post and as a society, do we have time to reflect on our communication habits?

Society has become a ‘hurry-up’ ‘instant gratification’ culture.  We collectively have so much on our minds and  things to do we don’t in general take the time to do one thing really well.

                              Stop, breathe, look around.

DidIMAG0519 you see the sunset?
Did you smell the flowers in bloom?
The scents of a fresh rain on the ground or the smile of your partner so many things taken for granted in our lives that really could be appreciated more.

Do you remember the art of writing letters and the joy of receiving a letter?  Not an email! A letter -a handwritten letter!

About 10 yrs ago or longer we as a society started getting computers and thus came the ability to send and receive emails.  Emails used to be great.  You could take your time and write an email that would be sent instantaneously and received whenever that recipient opened their email.  We still wrote and we still read and we still enjoyed communicating.

In the recent years, I have noticed that the mobile phone and tablets have replaced our computers or seem to be much more utilised than our computers.  As such, if people receive your email they rarely write more than a 2-3 sentence reply if even that much!  Worse than that, there seems the tendency to not actually read the email but rather to skip & skim around to whatever seems the important part to them and questions you’ve asked or thoughts you’ve written of remain unanswered.

I have friends who virtually never write emails but rather forward me emails of things they’ve found.  Then those emails can border on spam since those people virtually never write an email but rather, send out 3-5-10 emails a day all forwarded links etc.  On the rare occasion those people send an actual written email it can become lost in the mixture of all the forwards.  (kind of like the boy who cried wolf) I personally have discovered that I am more inclined to pay attention to a forwarded email from those who rarely forward them.

I would much rather have a written email of the person’s thoughts any day over a forwarded one.images

I am guilty of not replying to emails in a timely manner.  I would prefer to send a real reply rather than a sentence or two unless it is just in answer to a basic question.  I basically don’t do a full reply to an email unless I am at my computer and can give it my full attention.  In this society of instant gratification this can seem an insult to some.  I certainly don’t mean to be rude by not replying instantly but my thought is that a reply sent when I can give it my full attention is a quality reply and not a matter of a few sentences jotted off in a hurry.

What do you think?  Please use the comment section below to tell of your experiences/expectations in the art of our electronic communications.  I would love to hear from you!

integrity and holding good expectations

I’ve written in the past about the glass half-empty or half-full and I am again reminded of the need to see the half-full glass!

I recently made a purchase off of the local craigslist the other day. It was a  Sprint hotspot (internet service tied to a cellular network plan).  I made a call to Sprint before the purchase while the seller was waiting to make sure the device could be activated on my account. Sprint was taking too long to verify validity so it seemed pointless to keep myself and the seller zingwaiting for the over 20 minutes.  The gentleman showing it to me had all the info from the previous account though he himself had never activated it.  When I finally had a chance to endure the 45+ minute phone call with Sprint,…well the outcome was not favourable.  Long and short of it, the previous account holder would need to do an account turnover to me.

One of the risks in dealing with Craigslist is the potential disappointment of a device such as this not being able to be activated.  I was concerned that I was going to have to lose the $50 and the person who sold it to me may not want to deal with me again.  There is a reputation regarding Craigslist buyers and sellers.  The reputation of buyers is that they tend to be ‘flakes’ and don’t show up when they say they will and the reputation of sellers is that they can easily scam you or sell you a dud and you have no repercussion or safety.

My thoughts back on the sales event was that everything seemed legitimate.  At no time did I think I was buying a stolen item and though this was not stolen it certainly had an associated headache which both myself and the seller would need to endure for a positive outcome.  My overall thought in life is to try and find the good and know that good is always around us and an available outcome.

The seller attempted to resolve the situation by approaching her neighbour from whom she had purchased the unit but Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 7.58.05 AMafter a few days of no response she offered to just take the device back and refund me with my money.  Of course this meant I needed to make the 40 minute drive back out to meet her but she was more than happy to meet and insisted on refunding my money .  I just wanted to write about this as a reminder to all that there really are good honest people in the world and holding good thoughts about people really does go a long way.  I am reminded of the thought from my previous post about the need to see the glass half-full and not half-empty!!

The unplanned vacation. Day 1 (Nov 5th, 2015)

As mentioned in my last post, an unfortunate bumper car incident put me in a rental car whilst my truck was being repaired.  I had family that had contacted me only days earlier to see if there was any chance I could meet them in Carmel, California.  Carmel is about a 2 hour drive from my home and is a town I love because it is known as the most dog friendly town in the United States!  It’s known for stuff like art and food too but what’t the point of any of that stuff if you have to leave your best friends (the dogs) at home?

The pups and I headed to Carmel on the 4th of November.  We arrived just in time to enjoy a dinner_w_Dana_Kurtwonderful dinner with my birth mother Dana & her husband Kurt at Il Fornaio. After a good dinner and conversation we parted ways around 9pm and I headed off to find my hotel and they headed back to their accommodations.

In the past I have always stayed at Carmel Resort Inn – some little cottages that were in a nearby neighbourhood and dog-friendly.  Fortunately I had called them before heading to Carmel because they are no longer a dog-friendly hotel.  This was a disappointment to me but as it turns out the place I did find, Carmel River Inn is a true gem!  Carmel River Inn had the option of cottages as well as regular hotel rooms.  I had booked my room and advance and discovered that by booking the room (the cottage that is) through my smartphone Expedia App I was able to save $25.

Carmel River Inn was perfect!!  I loved the place so much that I knew at least 1 more night was in order.  So Thursday afternoon after I officially checked out of the hotel, I used the Travelocity App on my phone to book another night (saving another $25) and requested that I move to a different cottage, cottage 22 which I observed to be slightly more private and with a great little outside patio.

Cottage 20
Very comfortable for our needs!

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