Presidents and Their Best Friends!

Column the week of February 20, 2017,Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday in the Albert Lea Tribune. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.

FDR at a picnic on "Sunset Hill" near Pine Plains, NY. Fala is 4 months old. The doll next to the president is a handmade shaker doll made by Mary Garettson of Rhinebeck, NY. August 8, 1940

FDR at a picnic on “Sunset Hill” near Pine Plains, NY. Fala is 4 months old. The doll next to the president is a handmade shaker doll made by Mary Garettson of Rhinebeck, NY. August 8, 1940

Today is Presidents Day. Do you know why we celebrate this day? I am one of those people who have not paid much attention as to the observance, other than it is a holiday to shop and have a long weekend.

I decided to look up a little history, and then I thought it might be fun to look a little into the history of first dogs, too. Those presidents loved their animals.

Following George Washington’s death in 1799, the day of his birthday, Feb. 22, became a day of remembrance because at the time he was venerated as one of the most important people in history. It wasn’t until 1879 that President Rutherford B. Hayes signed a law declaring it a national holiday. Presidents Day isn’t celebrated on any president’s actual birthday but on the third Monday of February. Today it is a holiday to recognize the achievements of all of America’s chief executives.

If you enjoyed the little tidbits about the day, visit the History Channel at history.com for more.

In researching some of the information for Presidents Day, I found many of our presidents had first dogs. I always feel you can tell a lot about a person by the animals they have. Or the fact they are an animal lover at all. Our past presidents loved animals.

In fact, Franklin D. Roosevelt had a Scottish Terrier named Fala. Fala had his own press secretary.

Did you know John F. Kennedy was allergic to dogs, but in spite of his allergies they had nine dogs, one of which was named Pushinka, which was a gift from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.

Herbert Hoover used his dog, King Tut, in his campaign photos in 1928. They say it could be possible it was his police dog that helped him win the election.

During George W. Bush’s reign his Scottish terrier, Barney, was an internet sensation with his “Barney Cam” videos.

The website dogtime.com has an impressive list of presidents and their dogs, plus the other animals in their lives.

George Washington had interesting names for his dogs: Sweet Lips, Scentwell and Vulcan were American staghounds. I can guess what President Washington had on his mind when he named his black and tan coonhounds, Drunkard, Taster, Tipler and Tipsy.

Maybe the name Fido for a dog caught on when Abraham Lincoln named his dog, Fido.

Calvin Coolidge said, “Any man who does not like dogs and want them about does not deserve to be in the White House.” He certainly had the dogs to back up his statement.  He named his dogs, Peter Pan, Paul Pry, Calamity Jane, Tiny Tim, Blackberry, Ruby Rouch, Boston Beans, King Cole, Palo Alto and Bessie. The most famous of their dogs were Rob Roy and Prudence Prim. These dogs got baths with bluing to make their coats look whiter.

These are just a few of the White House dogs. My research found 32 presidents owned dogs, but this number is a little fuzzy depending on the resource. These dogs came in all shapes and sizes from terriers to collies to sheepdogs and yes, let us not forget Bo, President’s Obama’s Portuguese terrier. That I could find he is the only president that brought a Portuguese terrier to the White House.

Richard Nixon’s dog, Checkers, is immortalized in history in the Checkers Speech. Unfortunately Checkers’s life ended and Checkers never made it to the presidency, only the vice presidency.

Other animals that helped the presidents in the White House were  mockingbirds, parrots, an alligator, silk worms, horses, tiger cubs, a goat, a cow, an elephant, white mice, cats, a Piebald rat, a zebra, a hyena and many more usual and unusual creatures.

Perhaps Dwight D. Eisenhower summed up the reason we have had so many first dogs.

“The friendship of a dog is precious. It becomes even more so when one is so far removed from him … I have a Scottie. In him I find consolation and diversion … he is the “one person” to whom I can talk without the conversation turning back to war.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

Today let us also remember those first dogs, that as Dwight D. Eisenhower said, bring consolation, diversion and solace to the past presidents. We might owe them more than we know

A Magical Circle – The Spirit of Giving

First published in the Albert Lea Tribune, Monday, October 19, 2016

Christmas is a time of love and giving. Look around you. The bell ringers for the Salvation Army are out in full force. Grocery stores have pre-packaged bags of food ready to buy for donation to food shelves. You will find Toys for Tots and other organizations sponsoring trees in businesses so people can pick up a tag and donate a gift to someone who otherwise might not have Christmas gifts.

Individuals are busy buying gifts for their family and other friends, and others are giving gifts to those who they might not otherwise share with the entire year. We Americans are generous at Christmas.

I find when I am out and about I feel guilty I can’t leave money in each and every Salvation Army kettle. I know my donation in whatever kettle I drop it into goes to the same place, but I feel bad when I glance into the faces of the volunteers who are bell-ringers and don’t tuck a donation into their kettle. They work hard in cold weather, and they always have hopeful faces and friendly hellos.

We emphasize giving at the holidays, but in our communities our giving spirit is alive all year long. Because we don’t always have a reminder, we may forget hunger and need isn’t a holiday issue — it is an ongoing year round issue.

In my community the past few months we have supported Bebo, Alex and Cindy with benefits. These three individuals all have different cancers they are fighting. Communities Fighting Student Hunger pack bags every week for students to take home on the weekend so they will have something to eat. Our food shelf serves the area and is open every Tuesday evening for those in need to pick up food, and there is also emergency pickup. The prayer groups in every church are busy praying for those who need prayers. My community is one community; the same scenario plays out in communities across America.

The internet has widened our scope for those who need our help. I have followed a young single mother by the name of Emily who became ill when having her child. The illness destroyed her liver. Her courage impressed me, and over the years I have gained an admiration for her courage and her faith. She has inspired me. It was a blessing this past year when she received a liver transplant. I had learned to care about a complete stranger and feel she was part of my family.

Websites such as gofundme.com and caringbridge.com keep us connected to those we know and those who are strangers but need our assistance, and allow us to help, even if we can only pray and not donate monetarily.

Words of kindness count too. I can’t tell you what it has meant to me when events in my life have taken me down, and those near, far away and online friends have supported me with their soft words. There are occasions when it is easier to share with a person you haven’t met, but trust, rather than someone close by. They may have experienced what you are experiencing too. It might be just a word or two, but it gets you through to the next day.

I wish all of you a very merry Christmas. I wish those who celebrate and believe differently than I do, a happy holiday. You, my readers, keep me going. I thank you for supporting me through the year. I thank you for your kind words. I hear them and they inspire me.

Christmas is a time for love and giving. I wish for you to feel the joy of giving, because in giving you will feel the love wrapping around you to keep you going through the good and dark times in your life. That giving spirit will come back to you in ways you can’t imagine. I wish for you to keep the spirit of Christmas in your hearts all year long, and when you begin to feel the grinch and sadness and hard times in your life take hold, which will happen, let others give to you. It’s a magic circle.

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Links to Giving:

Team Getchellteam-getchell1

Alex Thostenson

Connor’s Fight5131575_1435729098-2689

Salvation Army Bed and Bread

Communities +Fighting Student Hunger

Food Shelves

These are some of my favorites right now. I will add more. I don’t have a lot to give but I can at least give by promoting them too. Have a wonderful Christmas.

Organized Chaos with Lori Caswell, Host of Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours

I would like to welcome Lori Caswell, Host of Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours to my blog. I met Lori when she hosted Granny on her tour of the Blog World. I remember the first time I heard of guesting on a blog. I was amazed that someone actually arranged a tour for me. And Lori couldn’t have been a better tour guide. I thought my readers might like to know all that happens in putting together a book tour. Thank you Lori for being here.

Dollycas 2I am so honored Julie asked me to guest post on her blog.

She asked me to tell you about the organized chaos that has become my life since I started Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.

I thought I would start with a little background for those of you that may not already know me. I have done a lot of jobs over my lifetime, accounts payable clerk, office manager, and home builder, just to name a few. In 2001, I was in a motor vehicle accident where my spinal cord was pinched leaving my right side 98% paralyzed. Unable to drive and unable to work a typical job for 8 straight hours I was stuck at home, usually by myself. I did help at my church with the bookkeeping but my job was eliminated in 2009. Upset and depressed an online friend talked me into starting a blog and as they say “the rest was history”.

In the summer of 2013 another blogger contacted me and told me she had to quit blogging for medical reasons. She wanted to know if I would want to take over her Virtual Book Tour business. I quickly agreed. Since then my life has changed in so many ways.

There are two things I have found to be essential for me to stay organized not only for the book tours but my blog too.

  1. A Calendar
  • I use Google’s Calendar but I also export the data into my Microsoft Outlook Calendar each week so if I lose access to one I have a backup. It’s happened so better safe than sorry. My calendar shows my reading/blog schedule and all the tours.
  1. Microsoft Spreadsheets
  • I have a Master Spreadsheet that lists all the tours and has columns laid out to track my progress.
  • Each Tour also has its own spreadsheet with a list of bloggers participating, date they will post, what they are posting. I also use this to track guest posts, interviews and giveaways.
  • For my blog I have a Spreadsheet with my Book List. It tells me the title, author, when I received it, where I received it from, date the book will be released and where it fits in the series if applicable. It also has a column for the date I post my review.
  • I have a Reading Diary on a spreadsheet. This is broken down by months and lists title, author, my rating, where the book is set and any challenges it qualifies for.
  • The last spreadsheet keeps track of my giveaways and winners.

great escape button160Great Escapes hosts 15 – 20 or more tours a month with anywhere from 7 – 30 stops.

Every morning I start out by promoting all the stops for the current tours on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and tsu. When I do this I update the tour pages with direct links to the posts.

Then I tackle my email. This is the biggest task of the day. I try to scroll through and take care of the most urgent matters first and then handle the rest. This leads right into emailing any tour guests posts and interviews to the bloggers or sending interviews to the authors. Some days there are so many I really need to prioritize.

Next I handle other tasks including creating emails to announce new tours and booking blogs for new tours. Checking on my Challenge groups on Facebook. Add any new books that have arrived to my Book List and be sure they are on my calendar.

Then after all the above is completed I start to work on posts for my Escape With new escape button160Dollycas Into A Good Book blog. I try to work 2 – 4 days ahead to give myself a little breathing room. The posts can be memes, guest posts, reviews, spotlights, giveaways or a combination. Posts including a review take the longest because I try to get them just right and include all the facts I can without any spoilers.

When that is complete, I send out final tweets of the day for all the tours that are running or starting soon. I do a final check of my emails and check on personal and family things on Facebook.

That usually brings me to supper time at our house. Time to push away from the computer for some family time. This usually includes a bit of mother/daughter television watching. Of course we both find ourselves reading during the commercials. This usually ends about 10 p.m. Then it is time to get serious about reading. I try to read 3 – 4 books a week and my reading speed has slowed a bit this past year. Most nights the lights go off between 2 and 3 in the morning or when I finish the current book or find a good stopping place.

Weekends are just a little different. Fewer emails and no tours are announced. This leaves me time to make tour pages and set up Rafflecopter giveaways. I also update my reading challenges and my Reading Diary and do any needed blog maintenance and review cross posting. It also allows me to spend time with my family, especially my three grandchildren.

My days are very full and I like it that way.  The side effects of my injuries help to remind me to take breaks during the day. My paralysis causes my bad leg and foot to swell if I sit here at the desk too long so I do have to take time to elevate it when I can or get creative in ways to elevate while sitting at my desk. Typing with just one hand also takes its toll, when typos start to crop up like weeds, I know it is time to get away from the desk even just for a few minutes.

I love what I do, reading, blogging, sharing my thoughts and promoting books. I have always been a bookworm, but I never imagined what a huge impact it would have on my life.

Short Bio

Lori Caswell is married to Jeff.  Mom to Kristopher, Katherine, Elizabeth and Jaymeson. Nana to Kaden, Natalie and Remington. They have two Border Collie/Blue Heeler mixes who are sisters, Oreo and Nera Belle. Lori has been blogging since 2009 and her reviews can be found on Amazon, GoodReads, Barnes and Noble, Midwest Book Review and Powell’s Books.

Links-

Blog – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book and Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/escapewithdollycas/ and https://www.facebook.com/GreatEscapesVirtualBookTours/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/dollycas

Google +  – https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/117330676990722681198/+Escapewithdollycasintoagoodbook/posts

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/dollycas/

Linked In – https://www.linkedin.com/in/lori-caswell-8b204541

Tsu – http://www.tsu.co/Dollycas

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4770012-lori-dollycas-caswell

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/A1FJFLAAQD5WH2

Take time to visit Lori’s site and learn about all the wonderful authors she hosts. Reading her posts makes me tired but she has the skill, expertise and heart for her blog. As an author I know I can represent those she has helped when I say, Lori, we couldn’t do it without you. Thank you.