Friday, July 19, 2013

Dog Shelter In Mexico Update

In the last post, I talked about balance. Hmmm... Right now the scale is tipped way over toward dog rescue. Here's an update on how things are coming along with the shelter. If you want to read about each stage in more depth, I'll provide the appropriate links to the shelter blog, Friends of RCA Colima.

click to see lots of before photos 
I rented an abandoned house. It's large and excellent for our purposes, and the owner is installing light and water.

click here to see all the clean-up action
Next step was to clean the floors. A whole crew of volunteers worked all last Sunday and cleared out three years of debris. Then the concrete floors were hosed down and scrubbed with soapy water. A lovely neighbor let us hook up hoses to her house, since our water wasn't hooked up yet.

click here for photos of the installation process
We got electricity! Yeah! Now we can work later into the evening.

This afternoon we will finish cleaning bat guano off the walls. Our team of young neighbor helpers is awesome, and keeps growing.

Click to go to the Facebook album with more photos of planting the gardens.
A neighbor offered us plants, and last night we cleaned out the weeds and put in a lovely garden in front of the refugio. As we worked, more and more neighbors gathered to help. I love Mexico!

click for dog pen instructions
In the meantime, we are working on building dog pens in my garage. Whew! It's a LOT of work but also saves a ton of money, which is in short supply. Complete step-by-step instructions for building a 1 meter by 1 meter pen are here. The cost for a pen (no roof) is about $25.

We are also filing the necessary papers with the city. We will be the first legal in-city shelter in Colima, complete with inspections, etc. We're compiling a resource notebook for the shelter in English, and Marissa will be translating the relevant parts into Spanish over time. Looks like our Spanish language shelter resource guide will be a first for Mexico. Woohoo!

If you would like to contribute to Refugio Cachorros y Abuelitos (Safe Haven for Puppies and Good Old Dogs), you can do so through Friends of PATA. They are a US non-profit set up to collect contributions for Mexican animal rescue organizations. Just specify that your donation is for RCA Colima, or put my name, Mary Carol Moran. If you live in the US, the donation is tax-deductible.

Thanks, everyone, for following along on our adventures! Giant world group hug!

Here are some other posts about our animal adventures.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Balancing Parenting, Publishing, and Dog Rescue! #TBSU

Today's post is an emotional check-in for me. Perhaps your feelings will resonate with mine.

Publishing Novels

Carole Remy is a writer, and I created this blog to sell her novels. Sometimes I feel like I really am Carole Remy, the alternate me. Other days I can write about her in the third person. Today is one of the 'other days.'

photo by Anita Peppers
Carole has repeated many steps of the writing process over the past several years. Here's her curve. (Skip the list if you want. It's here as an encouragement to hang in.)

write Beauty of the Beast
quick success with a well-known publisher
write Fantasy Impromptu 
get scared and wait a year to show anyone
more success with the same publisher
write Twelve Nights
do other stuff
write Who Is Candid?
live life
write Ophelie
write the sequel to Ophelie (as yet unpublished)
several years of other stuff
three novels published with indie publisher
ten year gap [meanwhile, Mary Carol Moran, the other me, is writing and studying poetry] 
many poems and two collections nicely published
along comes Kindle! wait several years...
Kaboom! five previously published novels now available on Kindle

What It Means...??

Though seven of my books (novels and poetry collections), have found generous and helpful publishers, mostly I've lived my life doing other things than writing. I'm a binge writer. Maybe some of you can relate. When the mood hits, I write a novel flat out, sometimes in as little as two weeks. Editing takes forever, but I'm one of those lucky writers who actually loves every step of the editing process. Maybe I should thank all those years of revising poems, word by word.

The past has given me enough confidence and life-cushion that, while I love and get excited by book sales, they don't define me. Separating your ego from your artistic creation is almost impossible; I'm nowhere near there! A benefit of having a pseudonym, perhaps, is that Carole Remy's success is a little bit separate from the joy of day to day life.

I figured out early on that writing wasn't likely to bring in a lot of money. [From a Law of Attraction perspective, I have a limiting belief that writing won't bring me the big bucks. Naughty me, but I can live with it. There are worse beliefs.] Over the years, I've made way more money teaching and coaching other writers than I've made from my own books. The fact that Amazon sends a sweet little check every month is a pure fun bonus.

The Power of Distraction

Maybe I'm not really a dedicated writer, or maybe I'm living a balanced life.

Me with my two amazing and lovely daughters!
Raising my children never slipped from being my top priority. As a single mom, that meant finding a job that I loved AND that paid enough to keep us going = teaching. Writing took a back seat. A nice big comfy armchair back seat, but still not in the front row.

For the last six months, I've put the Kindle novels not only in the front row, but in the driver's seat. I've lived, eaten, breathed Amazon, blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, book blog tours, and every other method of building a social platform. It's fun and I love it. But a part of me still understands the value of diversity. My Mom always used to say, "Make sure you always have more than one string to your bow."

With a friend, Marissa Lepe Preciado, and lots of supporters, I'm moving more and more into the consuming realm of dog rescue. Just as dog rescue keeps me from focusing exclusively on book promotion, so the books keep me from submerging tooooo deeply into rescue. Either can easily become all-consuming to the point of burnout. As kids and writing did in years past, now dogs and writing will help me keep life in balance.

I love blogging!

The greatest lesson for me from the last six months is the realization that I truly love blogging! Thank you to every single reader for sharing my life, hopes, depressions, elations, and occasional aha moments. The immediacy of blogging offers satisfactions that even novel-writing lacks. Each genre has its seductions: the world-building of novels, the joy of expressing a precise emotion in poetry, and the back-and-forth instant readership/response of blogging.

by duane j

Yesterday I began a new blog, Friends of RCA Colima, to chronicle the building and ongoing operation of our dog shelter, Refugio Cachorros y Abuelitos (Safe Haven for Puppies and Good Old Dogs). I'll provide links here on this blog, as well as occasional direct updates.

My goal is still to publish at least ten articles a month here on Carole Remy. The focus will shift a little more toward writing, editing, publishing, and building a platform. If you are interested in animal rescue, I invite you to follow my blog Friends of RCA Colima. I'll try for ten posts a month there as well. Another four posts a month, focused mainly on emotional issues, appear every Saturday on Skelations. Lastly, if you prefer or want to brush up your Spanish, the Facebook page for all our animal activities is Amigos de Perros y Gatos Colima.

Thank you!!

Once again, thank you so much for including me in your world. Giant group hugs for everyone! Let me know your thoughts and feelings in the comments! What is your writing arc? Are you more a binge writer, or a steady writer? How do you balance different worlds? I look forward to a lively discussion.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Starting a New Dog Shelter in Mexico! #TBSU

The exciting news I hinted at a few days ago has come to pass. Shortly before midnight on July 10, 2013, I signed the papers to rent the building which will become our urban dog shelter in Colima, Mexico. The TO DO list is six pages long, and our all volunteer group is working 24/7 to get everything in place to open on 01 August.

Several friends have asked me to document the process of creating an animal shelter. We are doing everything on less than a shoestring! Total start-up cost, including a year's rent in advance, will be under $2000. Used, homemade, and donated are the mantras, except for medications which are the bulk of the costs.

We've applied for non-profit status in Mexico for our association. The shelter is one branch of our goals, which also include sterilization and vaccination campaigns, educational outreach, and promoting the many animal organizations in the state through our very active Facebook presence. The Facebook page is in Spanish, but the photos are universal is if you'd like to take a look.

Within a few days, we'll have a blog for the shelter and I'll mostly direct you there for updates. But for tonight, I'd like to share with you the excitement of our first day, working to clean out the three-year-abandoned unfinished house that will in less than three weeks be home to many rescued dogs. FYI, by policy, I don't share names or personal information about children in photos. All photos are published with permission.

First step was to clean up the street view. The house was overrun with weeds, and we figured the other houses on the street would be happy to have a more presentable neighbor! As a side note, the neighbors have been very welcoming and friendly. It helps that I live a half-block away and already know many of them. The last thing we need is complaints to the city about our dogs, and we're hoping to head those off before they occur.

We started by sweeping out the premises. Sounds simple, but three years of dust and debris filled about 12 large garbage bags! Pictured here, Marissa Lepe Preciado, is the president of our association. She's a medical doctor studying to become a veterinarian, and a driving force behind the shelter.

Some of our best workers were neighborhood children! These two lovely sisters have a boxer named Chacho who loves to participate in our Dog Agility Club on Saturdays. They were the first to arrive this morning, and worked like Trojans all day. I explained the meaning of "trooper" to them; these are two girls we definitely want on our team!

We thought we might have to stop after sweeping, since the water isn't connected yet. But one of our neighbors stepped in and let us run hoses from her house. Thank you!!

To say we all got soaked is an understatement! Luckily, it was hot as blazes, and nobody minded. We swept the soapy water into the shower drain in the bathroom. It never stopped up. Whew!

Marissa and Sol are working on the front bedroom, where we'll keep the new dogs in quarantine pens until their blood tests are complete and we're sure they won't spread any diseases.

This is the back bedroom which has about three times the space you can see in the photo. This room is our maternity ward, with room for at least four litters in spacious enclosures with space left over for another large fenced area for random puppies. A wonderful volunteer family is donating a special paint for the floor, which will help us keep the room spotless.

Turning lemons into lemon trees, this small unconcreted area in the lobby worried me a bit until we decided that it will be the perfect indoor garden!

Here the whole team is scrubbing out the kitchen area, which will be our consulting/surgery room. Our hope is to have vets onsite most of the time. We're offering recent vet graduates (top of the class!) free space in exchange for taking care of our animals and for providing low cost services for local residents. Win, win, WIN!!

This will probably be an open area for our older dogs. Our plan is to take in pregnant females, mothers with litters, abandoned puppies, and older difficult-to-adopt dogs. We want to provide the best possible start in life, and the most comfortable end of life experiences for our shelter animals.

My favorite photo of the day! Our youngest volunteer really putting her back into her work! Mexican families raise great kids!

In addition, the huge room will be excellent for spay/neuter campaigns, with space for up to five simultaneous surgeries. The lobby (aka carport) will be a great recovery space. Here are two of our young volunteers, speeding the suds and water out into the big backyard.

Tomorrow the yard will be cleared by a contractor. It's about as big as the house, plenty of play space for all the pooches. Since we also run the Dog Agility Club, you can bet we'll have plenty of play equipment out back!

Mid-afternoon, another wonderful neighbor stopped by and offered to give us plants for all the front gardens. She has an amazing nursery in her yard, and our street front will be lovely in a few days.

Next step was to tackle the walls. The main problem was bat guano. Ugh. Our young volunteers put lots of muscle into the low parts, while the adults cleaned higher up. These aren't posed pictures. In six hours of work, there wasn't a single complaint. The kids believe in the shelter just as strongly as the adults, and they are proud to contribute!

In case you think it doesn't look that bad, here's a bit of wall before!

And here's the after. Not a very exciting picture unless you just cleaned this wall! By the way, in case you are ever needing to clean off bat guano, plain soap and water and a pot scrubber work best, even better than a scrub brush. We're planning to paint next weekend, using whatever bits and pieces of gallons and colors we are donated! Should be colorful! We have a couple of artists among the volunteers. Can't wait to see what they create!

Scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing! The carport/lobby is on the right, and the large main room on the left.

Another one of our young, eager workers! She's wearing our association t-shirt.

And here's the whole team! Woohoo! Can you believe this many people did all that work? Huge thank yous to everyone for an awesome first cleanup day!

Do you have questions about our association, Amigos de Perros y Gatos Colima? Any thoughts or comments on our new shelter? Have you ever run or worked in a shelter? Can you give us some hints to help us avoid pitfalls and open smoothly? Please join me for a lively discussion in the comments!

Check out these related posts for more information on spay/neuter campaigns and other animal rescue activities in Colima:

Some fellow writers/bloggers/animal lovers, in the spirit of The Blog Scratchers Union, #TBSU!