About The Human Vacuum

Source: About The Human Vacuum


I’m trying this on my phone…so if it seems odd or doesn’t look like a normal blog of mine, well…stop for a moment and ask yourself, “what is a normal blog of Mary’s?” Or maybe, “how can I think the words NORMAL and MARY belong in the same sentence?”

Anyway, I wanted to share what is part of my every day….and give props to someone who is much more faithful a blogger than I am, and who truly brightens up my day when I see her blog roll into my Inbox. If you are looking for a “feel good” daily read, follow Lindsay. Honestly, she makes me want to blog more faithfully. Heck, she is inspiring me to blog….about her!

No, I don’t “get” anything except a good feeling of passing along a little bit of my favorite part of the day….and possibly a good feeling that your day could be a little brighter too.

Happy Friday! I am off on an adventure that is called: the vacation day!

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Giving Tuesday – Help Good Take Over

Y’know, there’s just so much negativity now-a-days. Nobody likes the president, or the congress, or their neighbors, or the refugees…it’s all a big dump-fest on good things that happen every day. Not blaming, but I’m trying to think of how we can turn this whole world around.

What makes you happy? When you get right down to it, what makes you happy? Think for a minute…and then smile. Really smile.

Almost 20 years ago, I started working for this little company named Blackbaud. They made software for non-profit organizations. We were 300 employees strong, and we did good things. That company (I co-incidentally still work for) has grown exponentially over the past 20ish years (it’s 19 but who’s counting?) and we aren’t just doing good things, we do great things. Our software helps organizations raise billions of dollars to….comfort the afflicted, house the homeless, feed the hungry, rescue the forgotten, teach the next generation of the world. I work there every day. The organizations we work with do great things with the software we build (implement, train, support, customize, upgrade, market, etc). It’s mind boggling.

So why am I telling you all this? Because tomorrow (if tomorrow is Tuesday) is GIVING TUESDAY. We’ve survived Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Now it’s time to pause and give back. What organizations touch you? And by touch you I mean right THERE? You know where I mean – touch your heart. Make you tear up. Make you want to drop everything and help. What organizations scream out YOUR message?

I’ll tell you about mine.

Salem-StateLet’s start with Salem State University. I can’t say that while I was at Salem State I knew what kind of an impact it would have on me. But that’s because I really didn’t know what I would be doing with my B.A. in English (with a minor in Music and 24 credits in Business…I used to say that very proudly…) after graduation. I really had no idea. People always asked me if I were going to teach. Well, based on my desire to do NOTHING like my parents had done in their lives (long story…I have seen the error of my ways), I always said NO! I’LL NEVER TEACH! But ultimately, I moved around the country, landed in the Carolinas, at this small company…teaching….software. And then, I started….WRITING. About that software – writing – TRAINING CLASSES. So, there we go. I come full circle. I, the English major, am finally using my degree. That could be my story but it’s not. My story is an offshoot of my father’s story. For 25 years, he was a music professor at Salem State College. 1969-1994. He lived to reach the minds of those who came to his classes. He really cared about those students who took any of his classes – whether or not they passed with flying colors, or failed miserably. He cared. And, he was passionate about vocal music – college chorus, voice class, musical theater…he took it very seriously. And his students knew it. They…we…gave everything we could during our performances – even those off the cuff type performances Christmas caroling at a local mall, or at The House of Seven Gables. He cared. His students gave him a gift that I feel very strongly about – they put together a scholarship in his name. The scholarship was, at the time, for a music minor. Well, since he retired, Salem State became a University…and they have a music MAJOR. And the scholarship is awarded to a student who is a music major (or minor, I believe…) The scholarship is now a passion of mine. I find it vital that my dad’s name be attached indefinitely to Salem State, the music department, and music as a passion. He gave his heart to Salem State College, and now I continue to support SSU with a monthly gift…and I will give again on #GivingTuesday.

Want to donate? Click here: https://participate.salemstate.edu/comprehensive-campaign-giving-page and specify in the Direct My Gift to Support field: Antone J. Aquino Memorial Scholarship


That’s my first organization.

gpachs_logo  My second is Greyhound Pets of America Charleston. Crazy me, I got all involved in this silly thing called animal rescue – before GPA Charleston existed, I volunteered for the John Ancrum SPCA, now known as the Charleston Animal Society. And I saw what animal rescue was. Well, being a lightweight…I decided that I wanted to work in breed rescue – and with a bunch of other crazy people (and animal/greyhound lovers) formed the first greyhound adoption agency in Charleston, SC. Greyhound Pets of America Charleston. That was in 2003. Here it is, 2015, and the group is still going strong…finding forever homes for retired racing greyhounds in Charleston and all along the Carolina coast. So…I support them not only donating money, but also my time.

I went on and on about Salem State – I’ll only bore you a bit about Greyhound Pets of America Charleston. Here’s some food for thought:

  • As a non-profit, we are 100% volunteer run. There is no salary overhead.
  • Even our “overhead” costs (and I’ll be very transparent – phone, storage unit, Post Office Box are the fixed costs…the variables are the dog-related costs including but not limited to transport and vet fees from our sources in Florida, foster food, toys, and treats, and vet costs…) are all related to the dogs – the phone is only used for greyhound related stuff, storage unit holds our foster supplies and event supplies, and post office box is for only greyhound stuff…of course all the dog related overhead is, well…dog related.
  • We do one annual fundraising event, which brings in around $1000-$1500. It barely covers our cost for two dog shipments.
  • We supplement our income by using a donation bucket on the table at meet-a-greyhound events all over the low country.
  • We do not make any money from the adoption of a greyhound – fee to adopt is $250. Each dog costs approximately $300 – 500 minimum ($200 is the fee to bring the vetted dog up from Florida….)

So, while we have not raised our adoption fee, our costs have increased exponentially along with inflation.

We don’t get the flash of local cameras, or the write up of other local rescues. We rely on our adopters to give back…But if just a few others could chip in…we would be really appreciative!

I mean:

  • $10 buys heartworm preventative for 1 foster dog
  • $25 buys a bag of food for 1 foster dog or heartworm and flea control for 1 foster dog
  • $50 buys food, heartworm, and flea control for one dog
  • $75 buys all the above, a toy, and a box of treats for one foster dog
  • $100 buys food, heartworm, and flea control, and a vet check-up for a foster dog

See where I’m going with that?

Want to help? Click here: www.adoptcharlestongreys.org (look for the Make a Donation button on the lower left side)


It’s all about giving back. It really doesn’t have to be monetary – but this one day a year, a gift would be helpful. Life really is beautiful, and giving on #GivingTuesday or any day really helps good take over. Take a few minutes this #GivingTuesday and feel good about something – feel good about helping.

Posted in Animal Rescue, Crazy Random Thoughts, Greyhounds, Journaling, My Thoughts and Musings, Philanthropy, Service to Others | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Sometimes life don’t go as you plan

I wrote this several days before we had to surrender Eli. I actually don’t know if I can read through it without crying so I’m just gonna post it. Most of you know the story because Jim told it a couple of weeks ago.

I know my friends will “get it” but let me say that I am not over this and I may never be, since having a greyhound is about the only constant I’ve had for the past 14 years. It rips my heart out to live somewhere I can’t have a fenced yard and can’t have one of these amazing creatures.

Jim and I don’t need pity or “help”. We have to come to grips with the situation at hand. Please respect our desire to not be “guilted” about this. We never adopted with the intention of returning and as one of the founders of Greyhound Pets of America Charleston, I was never going to be one to return a dog. There we are.

Continue reading

Posted in Animal Rescue, Crazy Random Thoughts, Dad, General Dog Stuff, Greyhounds, Journaling | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Our “Little” Bundle of Joy

I have to admit, I really didn’t know the song Eli’s Comin when everyone started quoting it to me so I had to listen. (Click the link if you don’t know it either).

Jim and I welcomed Eli (I’m thinking Alexander would be a good middle name) Cooper – a 73 pound bouncing  baby boy to our family on Sunday.


He has, in 3 days, gone from the wiggle worm shown above to being the love bug calm chill boy with an interesting personality and some seriously beautiful eyes.

As if sent from heaven (hmmm….was he?) it has quickly become evident that Eli loves being a Cooper. He loves when Jim plays the guitar or the bass…Jim is currently playing the bass and Eli is happily snoozing in his bed. He’s beginning to discover the toys I ran through the washing machine last week – whether he’s sharing his dining room bed with them or carrying them around the house. And we’re praying for a repeat of another sleep filled night.

I think he loves us, and I know we love him. Welcome home buddy.

Posted in Animal Rescue, General Dog Stuff, Greyhounds, Journaling, My Thoughts and Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Eli’s Comin

Eli’s Comin

Girl, Eli’s comin’, hide your heart, girl
You better, better hide your heart

In the immortal words of Laura Nyro, Eli’s comin!


I’m a firm believer in “God’s time”. For sure, this didn’t happen at the same pace as all my other greyhounds. I’ve either had a foster dog to tide me over or had a second dog….the silence in the house has been…well…deafening. He’s not replacing Coombsy. He’s new. He’s different.

This silly boy – 2 1/2 year old puppy of a greyhound – he’s ready to get his forever home in Carolina Shores. Yup. Eli’s comin’ and I’ve already given up my heart.

Did I mention he’s coming this weekend?

Posted in Animal Rescue, General Dog Stuff, God, Greyhounds, Journaling, My Thoughts and Musings | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Short and sweet

Life is changable…constantly. Just a mere two months ago I was stinging from the downhill slide of my sweet sweet Coombsy.

No dog will ever replace her. Please know that. I will love her forever. She owns that little girly part of my heart that no other dog will ever hold. And, I will never forget her silly doggy self.

Today I got an email about a dog we THOUGHT might be good for us…from his foster mom. Explaining that he is (not her words but mine) perfect. We have a couple of work-points but we now are looking forward to our sweet boy…Eli.


Posted in Animal Rescue, General Dog Stuff, God, Greyhounds, Journaling, My Thoughts and Musings | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tuscan Herb Flatbread

First off, this isn’t my recipe. I can’t claim it for myself. It is, however, adapted by me. And it came out pretty good so…here we go.

3 cups flour (I use organic unbleached AP flour but whatever floats your boat)

2 tsp kosher salt

1 packet active dry yeast (Actually, I use 2 1/4 tsp, which is equivalent)

1 c lukewarm water

5 tbsp olive oil

2-3 tbsp finely chopped tuscan herbs – fresh – basil, thyme, oregano and I added 1 small clove of garlic but I’d do 2 small or 1 large when I do it again.

Mix the water and yeast together – let stand for 15 minutes

I’m not a purist anymore. As much as I love kneading bread by hand, the Kitchen Aid makes it so easy. SOOOO…..

In the bowl of your 5 1/4 c. Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, mix the salt and flour. Make a well in the center large enuf to hold the water and yeast mixture PLUS 4 tbsp of olive oil.

Chop the herbs – incorporate with the garlic if you are adding that and set aside.

Pour the water/yeast mixture and 4 tbsp of olive oil into the well made in the flour. With the bread hook attachment, mix the flour into the liquid on low until a nice cohesive dough is formed.

Knead the bread in the bowl on medium speed. At this point I incorporated the herbs and let them knead into the bread. As always, you knead until smooth and elastic.

Form the dough into a ball, place in a clean bowl, and coat with the other tbsp of olive oil Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and set to rest in a warm, dry place until doubled in size – about 90 minutes to two hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees once the dough has risen. Punch down and knead in more herbs if desired. I added a few more…not required but I wanted it especially herby.

Shape into about a 12″ round and dimple with the tips of your fingers. Bake 35 minutes.

Might come out looking a bit like the bread pictured here :


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What am I looking forward to?

My “blog buddy” (I’m making up that term…and calling her a buddy cuz i read her blog all the time) Confessions of a Human Vacuum started a good trend with a Five Things Friday. That’s awesome…I know I can’t necessarily come up with Five of anything but I thought I’d do a quasi-regular blog on what I’m looking forward to.

I may just have five things.

1. Holy City Brewing Company Meet & Greet – I planned about three weeks ago to head out to the monthly meet & greet for Greyhound Pets of America Charleston at Holy City. We are blessed to have a group of craft-breweries in the Charleston area and they are very dog-friendly. I’ve only been to Coast, which is a really nice brewery, but I have wanted to visit another on greyhound day. Well, since Coombsy is gone and some day we’ll have to consider another…it seemed like heading to Holy City would be wonderful. And so I’ll be there NEXT week. I *am* looking forward to it!

2. Cooper Annual World Tour 2015 – yeah, it isn’t really a world tour but we are heading to Massachusetts for our annual World Tour. Oh. Wait. National tour. Thingee. I do look forward to having time with MA friends, and believe it or not, I am looking forward to 18 hours in a car with my mom. Just my mom. We will go in a separate car because I have to come back home and work. Jim will be staying for a little while longer.

3. Going to the gym – I REALLY want to go to the gym tomorrow. That is all.

4. The end of Tourist Season – this year, it’s been really bad. Bad drivers, crazy attitudes. WTF? Why be a jerk when you are traveling? I really don’t understand. I try to NEVER be a jerk (I can be a jerk sometimes, I know) but I definitely don’t cop a ‘tude when I’m not in my home state, in my car, or in my house. Really. Aren’t we supposed to be having fun on vacation? Show it, people! Crack a smile, seriously!

So, Lindsay, here’s my reply to your blog. Kinda close to what you asked…kinda.


Posted in Animal Rescue, Crazy Random Thoughts, General Dog Stuff, Greyhounds, Journaling, My Thoughts and Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Two Weeks Later

This is a strange post to write. It’s been two weeks without Coombsy and to be quite honest, I am not 100% sure how I have made it through without falling to pieces every day.

I told you all before about how we (Coombsy & I) had ups and downs…and we went through a lot together. She really did teach me quite a bit…and caused me to dig deep into myself to figure out what kind of weight I put on my dogs as a founding member of Greyhound Pets of America Charleston.

See, I expected Coombs to be Flyer at first. I don’t know why I expected that. I knew she wasn’t. And I knew that each dog would be different..and each would hold a different piece of my heart. I really didn’t EVER expect that her piece would exceed every other animal’s piece. She surprised me.

Stuff still rolls around in my head – times I should have spent more time with her. All the amazing things she put up with. Her tired, scared eyes the day she passed. I can’t get that out of my head.

Here’s the thing. I thought that being in the room when she left us would make me a stronger person…that it would make it easier for me to let her go. It hasn’t. It has been as difficult to get her sweet face out of my head…maybe more…than Free Free and Flyer. I couldn’t be in the room with them…and I thought I owed it to her.

Now that I’m rambling, and crying, I just know that it was the most difficult day of my life so far – even harder than the day Dad died….because I knew I had things to do when Dad died. With Coombsy….I was left alone. Now…please know that my husband and my mom are here with me, they are also important, and I don’t want anyone to think I am saying the dog was more important than they are.

She is in my heart…but my heart is a little empty right now. And I’m sad.

I miss you princess.


Posted in Crazy Random Thoughts, Greyhounds, Journaling, My Thoughts and Musings | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Coombsy Jean Aquino-Cooper

Cute Puppy Girl SittingCoombsy – racing name


So maybe it’s time to talk a little bit about this silly girl. It’ll be hard…

Lots of you know about Flyer – he “started” the greyhound group with me (and some other of my dear greyhound friends). He died on Feb 6, 2004. A mere 7 days later, this crazy 3 year old white dog landed on my doorstep. Okay, we picked her up at the pickup spot on 95…ultimately she landed on my doorstep. She was pretty. Really pretty.

She was a mess tho. She was barely house trained. Oh wait…she WASN’T house trained. She wasn’t really even crate trained! She’d go in the crate, but then she’d pee and poop in the crate…and then lie down. After a month of going to work and coming home to that…carrying her into the bathroom to give her a bath…I thought I’d go crazy. But, once Free Free (her “brother”) arrived on the scene, she got better and kinda quit doing that.

So, that was the rocky time with her. Honestly, at night we’d sit together on the floor and I’d play “Alien Eyes” with her – where I smooshed my nose against her nose and she looked like the alien from Close Encounters – I have no idea what I looked like to her but she didn’t mind. We’d put lavendar scented moisturizer on my hands and I’d pet her until I thought she was asleep. Of course, she’d wake up the minute I moved but it was nice.

I’ll never forget the night I was lying with her on her bed and I was making silly faces at her. I don’t quite remember WHY but I noticed she was showing me her teeth. I thought at first she was baring her teeth but she was happy, not at all antagonized. She was smiling – I actually thought she might be laughing at me in her own way. She liked to smile. I miss her smile. Sometimes I could get her to smile bigger…and bigger.

Oh, and her talking. Now, she wasn’t much of a barker, although she did have a bark to her – geez, sounded like a rottweiler…very masculine and kinda terrifying. That said, I think she might have barked 10 times in 11 years…and not at all in the past 4. But before we moved in with mom & dad, she started talking. She would try like heck to make word sounds. And she was very intentional. This was after Jim moved down here, so we’d try to make her say something. And she would. We still never understood what she was saying.

Chow hound. Yes, she loved a good cookie – but no human food (except fruits and vegetables) was safe around her. She stole hamburgers from plates, licked peanut butter of toast…if it was something “delectable” and it was within reach…it was hers. She did beg incessantly for cookies.

She had a natural sit. I think shortly after Free Free arrived (6 weeks after I got Coombsy), I noticed her sitting. And, having taken Flyer thru obedience class, I thought quickly to “mark it” with a treat. Well, that became the funniest thing – she’d follow you around thinking you had a cookie and sit for you. Until you had a cookie and you gave it to her. She was a sitting FIEND.

Yes, she had her issues. She never liked little dogs. She also didn’t like BARKING dogs (she wasn’t a dog, was she?). Late in life she didn’t much like car rides…and pretty early in her “demo dog” career she didn’t like events where other dogs could get in her face. She would defend her ground for sure.  Hated water. Hated thunderstorms. Hated getting her nails cut. Hated veggies.

But she was a love bug. A toy hound. A chow hound. My shadow. My heart. And I am still not sure how I’m going to live without her.

Posted in Animal Rescue, Crazy Random Thoughts, General Dog Stuff, Greyhounds, My Thoughts and Musings | Tagged , , | 6 Comments