Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pics of the Bloggers Bash! (updated)

Sorry, I know I'm a little late getting on this train, but just wanted to post a few pics of the Bloggers Bash last night. This particular event was a little more mellow than bashes gone by, but that was OK by me. When I arrived there were 2 tables. All the girls were at one table and the boys were at another. It was hilarious. I snagged a table with my buddy Chef Kev and Billy and knew my draggin butt wasn't moving for the rest of the evening.

Had a super conversation with our old buddy, Matt Jones, who is married to Sandy Gallant of WEEK. He is a very charismatic person and it was fun watching Billy meet his nemesis. Billy and Matt talked like life-long buds.

Turns out Billy has his own version of Desperate Housewifes. Be sure and ask him about it. And a further note: turns out me and this guy had been separated at birth!

Also enjoyed seeing the lovely ladies of blogging, a few of whom eventually mosied on over to the table with the boy cooties. Eyebrows, you just gotta blog about the gyno story... although your expressions might be hard to translate.

It was great meeting "Tales of the River City". Turns out we have LOTS in common, and if a little Peke shows up on my front porch I'll know who to name him after!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I love a flea market!

So today I'm talkin with my homies over on, and it seems a bunch of us took a trip out to the Expo Gardens flea market today. We did a little note comparing and I must say with as much humility as I can muster - I think I got the best "fleas". Ha. Case in point. Check out this ice bucket. They called it "Cubist". No my friends, this is a Fostoria American ice bucket with a rare handle, market value: $80. My price: $12.

Then we have this lovely antique crystal etched lamp with dangling prisms and a hurricane lamp, circa 1930's. (above center). Seller had an appraisal indicating value of over $300. I believe it.. this lamp is awesome! My price- $55.00!

And last but not least check out this old aluminum beverage set. (top) Am I giving away my age when I admit to recalling drinking from a set like this at my Gramma's house? Their price $10; My price $7. Fair market value: Priceless!

Attention all Animal Lovers...

Well we are trying to get our life back in order after laying our little Sofie to rest. The kids are still trying to grasp the lack of her presence but we are moving on. Thank you to everyone who expressed their sympathy and support. It is so comforting to know what dear friends we have in Peoria.

It seems that after any significant loss, the human mind searches for meaning, and longs to make some kind of sense of it all. Last week I opened my heart and mind to the possibilities as to how we can find beauty in something so sad.

One opportunity presented itself when last night at a Halloween party we re-connected with some old friends, some of whom are affiliated with PAWS. The party is a blog post in itself which I will address later with photos!!

I shared some interesting moments with Bill, who along with Lauren Malmberg, shares the significant task of controlling Peoria's unwanted pet over-population down at the shelter. Anyone who loves animals would be moved by some of Bill's words, but that is not the purpose of this post.

Bill, of course, who is forced to oversee the euthanasia of thousands of homeless animals, had a very practical suggestion for me regarding resolving our grief. Two little fluff-balls of one year old sibling Peke-mixes, down at the shelter and available right now to the right family. Now in my heart of hearts, although this is such a tempting tale (pun intended), I feel these are not destined to be our dogs. It's just too soon. But he just raved about how adorable and sweet natured these 2 little guys are. Their photos and stats will soon be on-line.

Several years ago when I volunteered at the shelter, the average dog had a window of opportunity for adoption of approximately 10 days before it would have to be euthanized to make room for more incoming. My guess is that has not changed significantly. I disclose this not for the sympathy vote, but to inform the reader of the extent of the problem here in Peoria, and further, to offer food for thought if one ever becomes tempted to "purchase" a puppy.

Bill also shared with me that PAWS now posts all of its pets available for adoption on the national website Of course, I had to check it out immediately, and it is a very useful and user-friendly site. In addition to finding your ideal pet, you can post and search for a lost one. My comments above should serve as an indicator of the need for expediency if you see one that "calls your name"!

Please check it out, and next time you get the urge to share your bed with a furry critter, visit

Monday, October 22, 2007

In memory of Sofie ( ? - October 22, 2007)

I would like to thank everyone who wrote me, phoned me, and commented on my blog about my personal struggle with the "end of life" decision I faced regarding my beloved dog, Sofie. Her condition deteriorated rapidly over the weekend and by yesterday afternoon I knew it was time to use any means to end her suffering. Then all I needed was the courage. The courage came in the form of my dear Sister-in-Law, Debbie (my brother Steve's wife). While talking to my bawling butt on the phone yesterday she announced "I'm on my way" and drove down this morning from Chicago. She walked in the house and over to where Sofie lay. I started outlining all the reasons I wasn't "ready" to do the deed. She looked me square in the eye and boldly stated, "Diane, it's time". In our family, Deb is so highly regarded as the voice of reason that I didn't dare defy her.

She called the vet and made the arrangements. I was pretty much useless. When it came time to bundle up Sofie and put her in the car I almost couldn't even walk. Debbie laid hands on me and prayed for God's mercy and peace over the three of us. That gave me the strength I needed to get to the car.

The most amazing part of this story is that on the way to the vets, Sofie was the most comfortable and peaceful I had seen her in 3 days. Even at the vets office she seemed completely unphased by the events. I praise the Lord that he honored Deb's prayer and imparted his peace over us all.

John met us at the vets and when it came time for the end, I had to leave or I was certain to leave an undesireable offering of puke on their floor. John stayed and saw our faithful companion to the very end. He said she never whimpered, winced or flinched and it was over in a matter of seconds.

My heart is truly broken.. but I am comforted by her memories and the knowlege that we will someday reunite. My Dad, always eloquent and sensitive summed it up this afternoon by saying - "Diane, I really think you should lay off the animals for awhile". Thanks Dad, very heartfelt. Only my Dad can get away with talking like that!

If anyone has been touched by our story I would make this request. Sofie was adopted from PAWS. There was no other dog in the world that was more meant to be ours than her. She might not have been pedigreed, or physically perfect, but she was a wonderful loving and powerful influence in our lives. If you have room in your hearts, you can make room in your home for one of the millions of unwanted pets. Please consider adopting your next pet from a shelter rather than a breeder or petstore. Adopting a homeless pet will make a powerful and positive statement to your friends and family about who you are as a person and where your priorities lie. Be part of the solution and not the problem. Some day when I am emotionally ready, Sofie will pass her torch to the next loveable mutt destined for our home. Just as Daisy passed it to her.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It just doesn't seem right....

Last week we got the expected test results back on our little Pekingese, Sofie - advanced liver disease. "A few weeks at the most", Dr. Peterson gently informed me. I knew it was coming. We've had dogs and cats all our lives and I can tell the difference between a tummy ache and something far more serious. Her weight loss was just too dramatic, and the drunken way she walked didn't bode well. This past week I tried to feed her round the clock.. cooking fresh chicken, rice, soup, anything that could tantalize her wasted frame. But tonight, she turned down a ribeye, prepared especially for her - which of course places me in the absolute worse predicament I could possibly imagine for myself. Is it up to me to end her suffering?

Why can't we just let nature take it's course? Dog experts will say that domesticated dogs have forfeited their innate ability to die with dignity. When a wild dog is in the final stages of it's life, they leave the pack, go find a hole to crawl into and quietly die. Our pets do not have that luxury. I'll never forget my Cocker Spaniel one night trying to walk in to the woods behind our house during her final days. I kept chasing after her to bring her back.. only to have her die by injection in a vets office. It just doesn't seem right that the where, when, and how should be determined by me. But then do I just let her lie there, pathetic, wasted and suffering?

As long as I live, as many pets as I love, I will never, ever have the answer to this question. My prayer this evening is that sometime soon she sees the light and follows it peacefully into the night. Thoughts appreciated.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

From the mouths of babes...

Yesterday I was waiting at the bus stop with my K-gartner and we saw a big cricket. He asked "Mommie is that a good cricket or an evil cricket?" I thought about it for a minute and replied "Honey that would be a good cricket because animals and bugs don't have the ability to think evil thoughts.. only humans do". After pondering a moment he further inquired "Then will that cricket go to Heaven?" "Yes, Sweetie, he will." I figure somewhere there must be a cricket Heaven. Then out of the blue "Mommie where do bad people go when they die?" Geez, this is getting tough. "Sweetie, if people make bad decisions all their lives and are mean to other people and have never asked the Lords forgiveness then when they die they will go to Hell." "What is Hell?" "It's a really bad place that you never want to be". His little face became visibly upset. "Whats wrong, Sweetie?" I asked. "Mommie, I think I'm going to go to Hell"! OK, I guess I need to change some of my dialogue with him.

Friday, October 5, 2007

He just didn't get it!

Dwayne Bartels, if you are reading this you blew a great opportunity to really help the citizens of Peoria. Your reporting in this weeks Times Observer regarding Peoria Twp. real estate taxes was heavily slanted in favor of the Supervisor of Assessments and Appeal board and against the taxpayers of Peoria. Great job repeating their "talking points". You accomplished nothing other than perpetuate the existance of a confused and under-informed public. Do you really think I'm a "one woman show on a mission?" Did ya even BOTHER to talk to anyone else besides the assessment office? If you did you would realize that the issue of overtaxation concerns far more people than "one woman"! Secondly, please understand my mission: my mission is to "help" citizens understand their tax bill and appeal their taxes if they are overassessed, not to "get" them to appeal their taxes regardless of the circumstances. Was it my talking or your listening that was the problem? We looked for you at the workshop that was PACKED, and with no newspaper advertising, by the way. Very unbalanced reporting. I rest the case I made in my "Real Estate taxes too high?" thread. Too bad.