Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In the words of Bob Barker...

"Help Control the Pet Population: Have your pet Spayed or Neutered!"

So most people who know me know that I'm a huge dog lover, and an enthusiastic supporter of promoting adopting dogs and puppies from shelters/rescues as opposed to purchasing dogs from pet stores or breeders.

Today I was looking on and was once again overwhelmed at the number of dogs that are up for adoption at various rescues/shelters around the country (197,198 dogs right now to be exact - 313,311 animals total). In the midst of wishing I could buy a huge farm and adopt them ALL, I realized how badly people need to be educated about the pet overpopulation problem in this country.

First, I should state that I completely respect the decisions that pet owners make regarding what is best for them and their pet as far as whether to sterilize their pet or not. And I understand that it is possible to prevent your dog from reproducing without fixing them. I also completely respect those who prefer not to adopt a shelter dog, an older dog, or a mixed breed. I've owned three pure bred wonderful dogs in my lifetime (one from a very reputable breeder, one from a horrendous backyard breeder situation and one from a pretty good backyard breeder) and I fully understand wanting to have (and relying on) specific breed traits. Though I am a strong advocate for adopting dogs from rescue organizations and shelters, I do not believe that people should be judged for choosing to purchase pets from pet stores, breeders or back yard breeders; those puppies need good homes too.

Good homes are often hard to find. Especially when you consider that there are more than 2,000 dogs and 3,500 cats born EVERY HOUR in the United States, compared to 415 humans. An estimated 8 million dogs and puppies are euthanized every year simply because they are homeless. The pounds and shelters that house them don't have the space or resources to continue to hold them, so they're each given a time limit (typically 36-48 hours) and if no-one claims or adopts them, they are gassed. Fortunately, there is an increasing number of no-kill shelters, rescues and networks of foster homes that are willing to take in the dogs who are scheduled to be euthanized and adopt them out. I'm happy to say that I'm the proud mama of two "scheduled to be euthanized" pups! They were both rescued from high kill shelters (one from Ohio, one from Mississippi) that could not keep them, along with the rest of their litter and mama. Then the rescues that fostered them, listed them on, which is where I found them and they found their forever homes!

Every year 8 million dogs and puppies are not as fortunate as my two dogs. 8 MILLION. That is a lot of dogs. So what can we do to help reduce this problem? We can be responsible pet owners and have them fixed! If you are not planning on breeding your dog, the responsible thing to do is to fix your pet, period. (That statement is not meant to place blame on those who do not get their dogs fixed, or call them irresposible, just less responsible). BUT, had those people fixed their dogs and prevented unwanted or unexpected pregnancies, the number of dogs looking for homes would be less, therefore the number of dogs euthanized would be less.

Now, I know what you're thinking, its IMPOSSIBLE to save all 8 million dogs a year. But consider this: One dog (who is not spayed and allowed to roam free and mate) can have, lets say 5 litters in a lifetime, of lets say 10 puppies per litter. Thats 50 puppies from that one dog alone. If there is ONE dog like that in each COUNTY in the United States, thats 157,000 puppies. Ok, so what if the owner of this dog is responsible and does the right thing and cares for his pregnant dog and adopts out each of the puppies. Great, but how many already homeless puppies DIDN'T get adopted because these puppies did? The reality is that owners who don't plan on breeding their dog yet still chose not to spay/neuter their dogs are preventing millions of dogs from finding loving homes. Even if your pet has a litter and you find homes for all of them, each of those pets takes a potential home away from other homeless pets waiting in a shelter. All dog lovers should understand and support this cause. You woulnd't kill your dog or want another dog killed. If you knew that there was something you could do to prevent the needless deaths of dogs and puppies, wouldn't you do it?

The best analogy I can come up with is promoting safe sex (among humans that is). Its essentially the same thing. Are you a horrible person if you don't have safe sex? No. Is it more responsible to practice safe sex in order to prevent unplanned pregancies or contracting STDs? Of course. Its better for everyone in society if individuals act more responsibly and contribute to resolving the world's problems.

So, please pass on the word to fix your pets. We all have a responsibility to our furry friends to help reduce the number of them that are disposed of every single day. I'll leave you with some facts to ponder, and a few links if you're interested in reading a bit more about the topic.

- An animal in a shelter is killed every 1.5 seconds.
- Only 1 in 10 dogs/cats born in the U.S. finds a forever home.
- Some 70,000 dogs and puppies are born every day in the U.S.\
- An estimated 15 million animals (dogs, cats, puppies, kittens) are euthanized annually.
- It costs approximately $230 million (tax dollars) a year for animal control agencies to try to cope with the problem of surplus cats and dogs-mainly by killing.
- 30% of dogs in shelters are pure bred.

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do."
Edward Everett Hale, 1794-1865, American Orator and Statesman

Friday, March 6, 2009

Fighting the Good Fight

Gays STILL want to be treated equally, can you believe it????
they can't just let it go? the nerve...

It seems so incredibly simple to me. Two people love each other and want to make a commitment to each other, so they get married.

But it's not truly that easy, is it? Not when there are crazy, angry, hateful people like this!
(Is that a "Yes on 8" smock???)

If I were those people protesting, I'd be ashamed to show my face in public! Whatever happened to it not being socially acceptable to be so outwardly bigoted? Even the KKK wears masks!

Well, now that I've got that out of my system, lets get to the heart of the matter. So, the California Supreme Court heard arguments for and against the already passed Proposition 8, which reversed the decision that allowed ALL couples to marry legally in the state. Arguing in favor of upholding Prop 8 was Attorney Kenneth Starr, who seeks to forcibly divorce the 18,000 same sex couples who married in the six short months marriage was legal for all couples in California. Starr offered this profound statement during his argument: "Under our theory, the people are sovereign and can do even very unwise things that tug at the equality principle... rights are ultimately defined by the people."
So basically, despite the fact that the constitution guarantees equality and protection for minority groups, the people have the higher power to override those rights. Wonderful. I sincerely hope the California Supreme Court Justices decide differently (and ultimately overturn Prop. 8).

What really kills me is that the "majority" voters are not affected by Prop. 8 in ANY WAY! No matter what the court decides, they still get to go home to their spouse, marriage and family in tact, and resume their lives just as they were before they cast their hateful vote. Loving gay couples, on the other hand, are forced to have their relationships denied the dignity and respect they deserve (along with 1138 federal rights and responsibilities!)

The reality is, same sex couples live in every single state and many of them are raising children, despite the fact that their marriages aren't legally recognized. The truth is that gays have been marrying for years and years, regardless of legal recognition. Love can never be taken away from them, not even with a majority vote. Its only a matter of time before the majority agrees that all couples deserve to be legally committed to one another.

The days of acceptable discrimination toward gays are ending. Gordon Brown (UK's prime minister) has already condemned Prop. 8, saying that its "attempt to undo good that has been done is unacceptable... This shows why we have always got to be vigilant, always got to fight homophobic behavior and any form of discrimination." (We're waiting Obama...)

In my lifetime, I expect people to become ashamed of themselves (or their parents or grandparents) for voting against gay rights, back when it was acceptable to do so. check out these Crazies, donning the most absurd t-shirts and signs I'VE ever seen!

Right, because the only way to discriminate against a person or group of people is on the basis of race! STOP! Do not validate! Don't be ignorant! Protect the Children! Yes! Divorce the parents who are raising the children! That's the ONLY way to protect the children!

Beautiful, isn't it? I honestly cannot see how the love obsessed queer underdogs won't eventually win this war! All they want to do is love each other! Love has to win! It just has to! Here are a few more quality photos from the "Overturn Prop. 8 Vigils" held in San Francisco (what a difference in tone from the negativity, hate and condemnation spewing from the Prop. 8 supporters).

Along those happier lines, Connecticut held their legislative hearing today to officially put marriage equality on the law books. Anne Stanback from
Love Makes a Family gave a compelling testimony, with this as her closing statement, "What could possibly be wrong with making it easier for me to take care of and be responsible for the person I have made a lifelong commitment to? What could possibly be wrong with allowing the same thing for the other couples here today? Marriage is about building stronger families. Building stronger families builds stronger communities, and that is a good thing for all of us."

I couldn't agree more. And I'm so proud of my state for leading this great civil rights movement. Also on more positive notes, GLAD has filed a federal lawsuit against DOMA ("Defense of Marriage Act"), a new marriage equality bill has just been introduced in Minnesota, and lawmakers in Vermont (the pioneer state of the "civil union") have promised to make marriage equality a top priority.

I fully understand that this will be a long and bumpy road, but look at all the progress that has been made in the past decade alone! There is a lot of fighting to do and since gays and lesbians are the minority, their straight allies are more important than ever. And once the people who support only "traditional marriage" realize how much better a world it will be when we embrace diversity and respect all relationships, that's when real change will come. Love will win out.

So, fight the good fight, pledge to support full equality, sign the petition at

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Busy Busy Busy

So it seems my prediction to be minimally committed to this blog has proved thus far to be at least somewhat accurate. I can only offer the following excuse: life has been fricken busy as hell! I realized though that what I've been busy with is worth talking about, so here goes nothing:

1) "The Love Handles" enter as competitors in the CT Fitness Challenge.

As part of an ongoing battle with my body trying to undo the damage architecture school did to it in just five short years, I've decided to participate in a Biggest Loser style competition for New Haven county residents and have lovingly dragged two of my dear friends, Jeremy and Chauna, into it with me. It is a 12 week challenge in which the team who loses the highest percentage of weight wins $3000! Honestly, its not the money that motivates me! Those of you who know me know that I gained a good amount of weight during thesis, and then lost most of it, and have now gained about half of it back. I strongly believe in living a healthy lifestyle and I made the decision after architecture school that everything I did from then on would be healthier, whether it be physically or mentally, so now I'm attempting to keep that promise I made to myself. Eating healthily is not too hard for me (unless I'm attending a family gathering and there's baked brie or something just as deadly), but on a day to day basis, I'd say I'm really good at making healthy food taste fantastic, and I'm starting to master my portion control (thank you, Leah). Committing myself to exercising daily IS difficult though! Mostly because I have a million other things going on and I tend to put it low on the list of priorities, but that has started to change. I actually really enjoy exercising, the hardest part is making the decision to start doing it!

So, why am I writing about this? Well, partially as a way to "journal" my accomplishments and challenges, but more so to hold myself accountable!!! If I let it be known that I'm doing this, I feel obligated to succeed! I can't possibly let all my 3 or 4 readers down by quitting. So I'll hold myself accountable by reporting to this blog to record my success.

2) Vintage, reclaimed and broken objects have inspired Erin and I to start a hand made jewelry and housewares business, tentatively named "Attractive Reuse."

If you aren't involved in the architecture world, you may not get the pun, which is why the name is tentative. We're looking for a name that is consistent with our theme of reclaiming items and manipulating them to become wearable and/or usable. Our boss feels strongly that we should be named "Really Good Shit." I'm not convinced... any ideas???? We welcome suggestions!

So this was spurred by our addiction to Etsy. At first I was having serious problems with wanting to buy everything I liked on Etsy, now I've transformed that problem into inspiration for ideas of things to make. Much holiday gift shopping was done on Etsy, and credit must be given to Galina for introducing me to the wonderful site, and Holly Hawk, who I don't actually know but Erin and I check her Etsy store daily to see if there is anything new; we're slightly obsessed. Also, my incredibly talented mother has made (and sold) lots of gorgeous jewelry, so she too has been an inspiration (and once I recruit her, she'll be our mentor!) Oh, and I highly recommend browsing through Etsy, there's a lot of fantastic stuff, plus you're supporting artists and buying really unique stuff!

3) Watching, reading and conversing as history unfolds in front of us and we transition to President Obama.

This topic is meant to have is own separate post, which I feel like I've been drafting forever. (There's just so much to say!!!) But I think I will still devote a separate post to this, since its been brewing for so long in my mind. I have to hash it out and whittle it down and all that other good stuff.

The rest of the things I've been busy with are NOT worth talking about, so I'll spare you, but a few of them are worth mentioning.

4) Finally devoting time to my artwork. (crucial for my sanity!)

5) Cleaning out my house and changing my pack-rat habits.

6) The Dog Park, and spending time with my family.

7) Stonewall Speakers: Attempting to be an activist, but more importantly educating people.

8) Working... A LOT!

Support, comments, suggestions, opinions, ideas, criticism, help and pretty much anything else that can be offered is more than welcome for any of the aforementioned things that have been keeping me busy, particularly in regards to the name of our business and any contributions to being successful in this fitness challenge!! I need all the help I can get!!!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Nonna Lucy, In Loving Memory

I had no idea what my first real blog would be about, so this one being my first is kind of bittersweet.

Lucia Laudini, my Nonna passed away
this morning. She was a whopping 96 and she passed away peacefully with her family around her. Her daughter, my Grandma Nancy, held her in her arms and my Nonna Lucy squeezed her hand so she'd know that she knew they were there just before she passed. She was an inspiration to us all, probably the strongest woman I've ever known, and she will NEVER be forgotten!

I only knew her for about a quarter of her life but she impacted my life more than she probably realized. Though she was unable to go with me, I was fortunate enough to visit her home town of Trecastagni, Sicily for the first time while I was studying abroad in 2004 and again this past February with my entire family, American and Italian. It was so incredible seeing what her life was like there, even though she left over 50 years ago. Before she got too old, she and my grandparents would go as often as possible to visit the family over there. She was so amazing at keeping in touch with all of them, and it really showed in how much they took care of us there!

Her husband, my Nonno Joe, passed away about 15 years ago and to be perfectly honest I'm surprised she made it this long without him! They were soooo in love. I remember them taking Joey and I down to the park to fly kites on breezy autumn afternoons. She wore only all black for years after he passed away. The one great thing about going to the funeral on Monday will be that she'll be buried in the same plot as him, finally reunited! I believe her son, my Uncle Fred who passed away about five years ago is buried there as well, so she'll be with her son too. My Grandma told me this morning that they're all probably having a party up there without us!

Here's a picture of my Nonna and Nonno's house in Sicily. The photo is taken as we were driving down the hill from the church, which is directly behind us.

Here's a photo of their church. The woman in the photo is my Zia Anna, my Nonna Lucy's sister in law. She still lives in Trecastagni and took such great care of us while we were visiting! She really loved my Nonna.
Nonna Lucy was the matriarch of the family and always the life of the party! She loved the beach. She made the best pizza in the history of the world and she never let anything slow her down. She knitted the most beautiful, warm and cozy blankets. And she LOVED turtles! She had two little pet turtles that lived in her garden when I was a kid. Supposedly she smuggled them back from Italy in her bra! I really mean it, she loved turtles! She love all animals actually. She used to sneak Chase and Sydney pasta under the table and then mouth "shhh" to them with her finger to her lips.

I'm fortunate enough to have a very young family and have known four of my great grandparents. Here's a photo of four generations of women in my family: me, my Mom, my Grandma and my Nonna. It was taken about 6 years ago, doesn't she look fantastic for 90?!

She was always up for playing with her grand kids and great grand kids.
She had the best sense of humor, even when Luca strapped random things to her head! And every single birthday she was blown away by how old she actually was. It was kind of like she stopped believing the numbers. If you asked her how old she was she responded "49!" I think that was really her secret to staying so young until the age of 96. Here she is looking gorgeous on her 96th birthday, just recently on December 13, 2008.

She lived such a full life and has been such an inspiration, I can only hope to be half as amazing as she was. Nonna Lucy, you will live in our hearts forever.