Today's thoughts

Category: CREATURE FEATURES (Page 1 of 36)

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! (Plus dogs and cats)

Retirement is not without Hassles: Another Week of Retirement #2523

My wife has been under the weather and slept through most of yesterday. What a sad way to spend a Mother’s Day! She made a batch of vegetable soup a few days ago, so I won’t starve, nor will some of our neighbors. A lot of sharing goes on – tools, food, advice, and rumors. The dogs did not get to go to the park yesterday or this morning, so they wonder what’s going on. “Why won’t Mom get up and play with us?” I’m planning on a typical Monday afternoon with a trip to the chiropractor, a call to my sister, the gym, pick up my grandson, and exercise in the pool. She’s still in bed. 

We originally had Mother’s Day plans to go to Cracker Barrel, but that didn’t happen. We did, however, enjoy the band, Dukes of Brinkley, with friends on Saturday night at the ballpark. Unfortunately, we southerners were left out of all the Northern Lights hoopla. Like everyone else, we’ve been chasing them for years but have not been in the right place at the right time, even on our cruise to Alaska. I would guess that it’s not as big of a deal to see them from your backyard as opposed to spending thousands to go to Iceland. 

The Pacers trounced the Knicks yesterday to even the playoff series. I watched the end of the game from the pool, between dog outings. The little one, Fosse, needs to go out every two hours, so this often means disruption from other activities – like running home and back in the middle of the band set the other night. With regard to small humans, we’re expecting a call from Indy mid-week announcing the birth of our newest relative – making me a GUM (Great Uncle Mike) once again. 

My wife teaches school tomorrow, if she’s feeling better. There is also Book Club, and it’s my youngest granddaughter’s 6th birthday with a party on Saturday. We helped fund the bounce house. Twice this week I’ll have cardio rehab, in addition to the gym and pool workouts. There’s a Garden Party on Wednesday eve near our tiny plot in the neighborhood “farm.” Little Fosse goes to the vet for the first time on Thursday, accompanied by her big sister Tally, while I pay a visit to the optometrist. We might then go to the Dueling Pianos performance at nearby Wellen Park. Friday Night will be “Date Night,” last week we went to La Rocca for Italian. So ends another week of retirement without me being rich or famous. 

Creature Features: Schnauzerville #2517

Fosse is starting to socialize with other dogs at our neighborhood park. She is a born and bred schnauzer who has not been around other breeds. Some may teasingly call her a “racist,” as she reacts very violently to non-schnauzers and dogs of a different color, with barking and even a high-pitched scream like she’s being attacked. She has yet to be spayed or had rabies shots, so we’re a little premature in taking her to the dog park. However, we know most of the other people that go there, and my wife watches her like a hawk. 

Little Fosse was exhausted after her visit yesterday and slept a little later this morning. Too often, she gets overly excited when we rescue her from the cage and can’t make it outside. Carrying her seems to be the solution, but Tally, her fourteen-year-old sister, also needs to go first thing in the morning. It can be quite a challenge getting the two of them on the same page. Fosse also is aggressive with her food and attacks the bowl, sending kibbles flying in every direction. We now delay her breakfast until after she goes to the dog park and begins to settle down. We also separate them when it’s time to eat. 

We just borrowed a portable, soft, cage that will be less confining than the metal one she’s been stuck in all night. The top zips open to make it more like a playpen. Slowly but surely, we’ll get Fosse accustomed to sleeping in it and comfortably confined with her toys while we’re gone for a few hours. She’s teething and this can prove to be destructive, having already chewed on the woodwork. 

Fosse likes to join me poolside and enjoys laying in the sun. Unlike Tally who spends a few minutes out in the lanai before retreating to my chair in the air conditioning, she’s content to lay on the warm pavers, occasionally moving to the shaded throw rugs. She’ll stay outside for hours if we let her, and sometimes one or the other gets trapped outdoors when we close the sliders. 

My wife is more patient with the pair than I am. She takes each to the dog park separately, while I’m home at the desk. Fosse is also getting to ride on the golf cart with her special harness. Tally has been doing this for over a year, but they’ve yet to share the front seat. Once Fosse has been to the vet, we’ll try them at the same time. Fosse’s cousin Sophie is also often at the park, both came from litters sired by the same father at what we fondly call, “Schnauzerville.” We have taken Tally there for years to be groomed and boarded. This is where my wife first met Fosse, just after birth. She has a tiny patch of white on her all-black body. Tally has always loved puppies, so hopefully they will continue to get along in the same household, and Fosse will provide the much-needed spark of life in her older daily companion. 

Creature Features : Fosse #2514

It’s been 7 years and 7 months since I started writing this blog, over 2765 days. I’ve fallen well behind my original pledge of a story a day, but I only have so many tales to tell. Plus, I haven’t contributed to this Creature Features category in well over a year. At this point, a couple of postings a week seems to be a reasonable goal. We have a new puppy to write about, Fosse. She is sitting in a dangerous spot right now, Tally’s chair – once mine. When possessive Tally comes back from the dog park, Fosse better retreat quickly or risk another mean growl and nip to the butt. It’s the same rude treatment that I get when I sit in my own chair. 

Fosse is named after choreographer, Bob Fosse, of Broadway hits like Chicago, Cabaret, and All That Jazz, some of my wife’s favorites. One of his trademark moves is “Jazz Hands,” that my granddaughter recently demonstrated during a performance of “Bye, bye, Blackbird,” at the high school Spring dance recital. All the performers were dressed in black with white gloves, to emphasize the hands. My granddaughter somehow forgot to put hers on in the rush to get on stage – at least I could tell who she was under the top hats they were all wearing! Fosse himself apparently didn’t like his hands, so he always covered them, but ironically the white gloves made them stand out in signature fashion. Fosse the dog’s tiny ears, like all schnauzers, tend to flop like Bob’s distinct jazz hands – hence the puppy’s name. 

Her unique name is often a conversation starter with passer byes in our neighborhood. Fosse has only been around schnauzers, so from her perspective other dogs naturally deserve to be barked at if they intrude. This bark often sounds like a high-pitched scream or squeal if she feels threatened, which is too often the case with bigger dogs. It’s an annoying habit that needs to be controlled, otherwise she’s remarkedly well behaved and even potty-trained. However, like most puppies, she needs to go out frequently. My wife and I now stagger our social schedules to accommodate for this. Last night, I went out for happy hour and came home early, while she went to an outdoor concert a few hours later. It gave me a chance to watch the end of the thrilling Pacers overtime victory over the favored Bucks. 

Fosse does sleep through the night in her cage, but can stir a bit early, if she hears my wife get up. Fortunately, she does not respond to my all too frequent trips to the john. I, of course, was not in favor of two dogs, but it will be good for Tally, who is much more active now protecting her property, stealing food, and feeling jealous from time to time. Fosse has already earned her spot as a welcome member of my family and the newest subject of this blog. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: All Systems Go #2465

I know I’m being a bit too dramatic, but T-minus 48-hours until surgery and all systems are GO. I had a rough spot yesterday dealing with insurance approval, but with an urgency warning from my doctor and an operating room reserved, they at least agreed on a tentative arrangement. I also made my first payment of many to come. I will probably live through the surgery, but the bills may kill me. We had some much-needed rain last night and I drank my last two beers for a while. I.U. basketball often leads me drinking, but in this case at least they won.

My wife enjoyed her night out with a girlfriend at the Cher theater performance up in Sarasota. It will be the last time that she has a free night without worrying about me getting around for months to come. Knowing her, she will be at my bedside day and night, responding to every suspected whimper. I’m hoping she can get back into the classroom soon as a distraction from my recovery. In two months, I’ll be more than ready for our Cross-Atlantic cruise. 

Tally will get the stink off of her at Schnauzerville with a bath and grooming, only to pick up more smells interacting with her schnauzer buddies. If all goes well, we all should return home by next weekend. We will not be using the pool, although it will come in handy later in my recovery, so I will continue to delay getting the heater repaired. In three months’ time, when the weather warms up, I will hopefully be doing water aerobics and laps to make up for the absence of running, lifting, and exercising while my chest wound slowly heals. 

I will bid temporary farewell to my neighbors tonight at the Borrego Bash. They have all been and will continue to be very supportive throughout this ordeal. Most have already experienced temporary setbacks resulting from medical issues or worse. They all appear to have a deeper sense of religious faith than I do. I’m fully prepared to get this over as quickly as possible, since as they like to say at nearby Kennedy Space Center, “all systems are Go.”

Creature Features: Year of the Rabbit #2242

It’s soon to be the year of the Rabbit, but already looking like it’s not the year of the Dog, or us, her humans. The Chinese calendar rotates between eleven animals, so Tally will have to wait until 2030 for her time to celebrate. Can she make it until she’s 20 years old and I’m nearing eighty?

My wife has a Lunar New Year’s Party planned at our house for the official holiday on January 22nd. One of the neighbors we invited referred to it a “Looney Tunes Party.” “What’s Up Doc?” The beauty of retirement is that you can have Sunday night parties without having to face a Monday morning work date. Most of our neighbors don’t care what day it is anymore. We’re free to party and be looney whenever we please!

Tally’s New Year is off to a rough start between two New Year’s parties, little girls, party horns, beeps, and fire alarms. She has noise sensitive ears and is still trying to get used to being around my grandkids, especially when the youngest has gotten ahold of a party-favor horn and can’t stop blowing it. All three of my son’s children were over for dinner the other night when smoke from the outdoor kitchen set off the alarms. Tally searched the house for a quiet spot while her legs quivered from fright. 

She has always been wary of small children after an incident years ago when a little girl scared her. She usually growls at my youngest granddaughter whenever she comes over but is excited to see the older ones. For once, she didn’t react when all three and their dad came in the front door the other night, but the horn and fire alarm put her over the edge. She finally found peace in the comfort of her bed, away from the crowd. It’s the same place she hides when we have our parties, unless she can coerce a bite of food from one of the guests. 

I think our Tally likes the new golf cart, but the neighbor who delivered it honked the horn and she once again cowered from the noise, while showing some initial reluctance to take a seat. Fortunately, he had disconnected the backup alarm, so we didn’t have to deal with more beeping. Once we got her into a harness and the wind began to blow through her fur, she comfortably settled in. This morning, she took her first trip to the dog park to show off this new toy to her puppy pals. She’s now the queen of the parade when we drive around the neighborhood. 

We removed the past owner’s monogram from the front panel of the cart yesterday to officially make it ours. Friends have a caricature of their schnauzer, Sophie, to identify their cart. I’m afraid Tally will want the same royal treatment. The main color of our “old fart cart” is champagne that nicely coordinates with my wife’s Lexus convertible. The two vehicles sat side-by in the garage for a few minutes until my wife drove her car to tap class, noticing that the brake light was aglow. She found herself at the dealership facing a $2,800 repair. The cost is more than we got from selling the Solara to make room for the cart. It looks like our New Year luck isn’t much better than Tally’s!

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: A Dog’s Life #2239

Back in the working days or even back to school, the first Monday of a New Year was a chance to catch up on what everyone did over the Holidays. In many cases, co-workers or classmates were off that entire week, but I always felt that it was a good time to be in the office because there was often little going on. It was also usually a short week with days off or half-days, so it was a good time to get organized for the months to come. Besides, holiday travel was always a guaranteed hassle with flight delays due to overbooking and foul weather. Plus, pet sitting could get expensive.

People would return to the office or school with stories of family gatherings, special gifts, or elaborate New Year’s plans. A new outfit, watch, or other piece of jewelry was waiting for compliments. Pictures of new babies and pets were compared. There were always lots of leftover treats to share if you weren’t starting the traditional diet. Those that were wanted to get temptation out of the house. I was never much of a dieter because I maintained a regular exercise routine, but I did tend to cut back on alcohol consumption or pretend to maintain a dry January. 

Back in the days of going to the gym or fitness center, I quickly learned that the first couple weeks of a New Year were by far the busiest, as well-intended resolutions began to kick-in. The locker rooms were crowded, there was a line to use the weight equipment, and classrooms were crammed. You could tell from the number of cars in the parking lot that there were a lot of new members. By the third week of January, all was back to normal. I think that all this activity eventually discouraged me from going, when I could enjoy the quiet solitude of running outdoors. There are no membership fees, people in your way, hours of operation, or malfunctioning machines. All it takes to run is a good pair of shoes.

In the last six years of retirement, I’ve found that Mondays are just like every other day, even as good as weekends used to be. There is no alarm to set, but still a routine to follow. In our case, Mondays are a good day to see a movie, avoid eating meat, and get rid of all last week’s trash. Just like always, it’s the beginning of a fresh new start. 

Our schnauzer, Tally, is not a fan of “Meatless Monday,” missing those delicious smells coming from the kitchen and a chance that she’ll get a bite. She’s always in favor of me leaving the house so she has exclusive access to the office chair that we constantly fight over. She refuses to share. The only problem with a dog’s life is you’re never sure if your human will be gone for an hour or a month. As I’ve said many times, I wouldn’t mind reincarnation as a pup, as long as my wife is my keeper. 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Interruptions #2083

This morning’s routine was interrupted with a trip to Schnauzerville for a trim. Tally will be spending most of her summer with these folks and their house full of schnauzers. She seems to like to go there but would rather just play rather than get a bath and cut. I had to add some air to my tires and the way back home since it’s been simply sitting in the garage. My wife has driven us in her car for dinner dates like last night at Pop’s and to the movies. She’s currently at an aqua-fit class, part of her active daily routine. I’m pretty much done for the day once I finish my 5k run and do a few laps in the pool. Once again, my GPS failed to record my running distance this morning with an unexpected “pausing workout.” The Nike app shows my total mileage to be a few miles off every month due to these technical glitches.

The interruptions continue as I try to work on this post, There used to be an hour of quiet before the dog park closed for repairs. This was the time when I could work in peace as no one else was home. Over these past few weeks I haven’t gotten this alone time and my concentration has been often disrupted. See, I got totally sidetracked and spent the afternoon reading “The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit,” showering, and watching “The Umbrella Academy.” I’ll cut this crap short and  continue my blogging tomorrow, on what hopefully will be a quiet Sunday morning without many interruptions!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Tally Ho #2081

I would have to categorize yesterday as a good day since the Cubs and White Sox both had come from behind victories and the stock market rallied to show a small gain. This morning I barely survived another 5k run in the heat, stumbling home at a 15-minute a mile pace. Just a few days ago, it was an embarrassing 18-minute final mile, one of the slowest in my history without actually stopping. Tally actually ran the last few hundred yards with me, anxious to get back to her air conditioning. It’s indeed rare when she wants to run but cool air and treats can be a powerful incentive. Tally Ho!

When I get back to the garage from my morning run, I usually do a little yard work and fill the fountain with water that quickly evaporates in these conditions. I collapse on my bench and take in the sauna-like conditions, sweating off another pound of fat while I do my morning puzzles. My current Wordle streak is now at 54 with a few close calls this week, including a 6-letter word with three f’s. The running streak is at 4,939 days without a miss. It’s always refreshing to jump in the pool, the final leg of my daily exercise regimen that’s the perfect excuse to sit and watch TV the rest of the day. 

The dog park opens again tomorrow and Tally will be reunited with her buddies after several weeks of breaking her routine. With everyone seemingly gone in the neighborhood we rarely see a dog on her morning walks. I’m sure she’ll be excited to have dog life return to normal. However, three weeks from now we start our journey north and she will be at “Schnauzerville” with her second family for the first of three lengthy stints away from us yet this year. Tally Ho!

Creature Features: P-Mail #1985

Some people refer to p-mail as “materials such as letters and packages delivered by a postal system; conventional mail.” In this case, the “p” is for physical. We humans, of course, check our e-mail regularly for business and friendly correspondence. As a result, we’re constantly on our phones or computers to keep up with our clients, acquaintances, and collogues. However, how do animals communicate? They leave secret messages in the bushes and grass. Our schnauzer, Tally, gravitates to the same spots every morning to catch up with her network of neighborhood buddies. She sniffs and scratches away to check her p-mail.

These dog-to-dog communications might also be called pee mail, but just like humans they know exactly where to check for incoming notes to each other. There is a look of satisfaction on Tally’s face after she finally gets to the right spot and reads what is going on in her world. The decoding process is found in her nostrils, inaccessible to human interference. What goes on with dogs, stay with dogs, since they can only talk to each other. Then, they pretend they can’t understand what we are saying and ignore our commands. “Beware of the dog” takes on new meaning. 

Yesterday, we took Tally to the dog beach. It was very windy so we prepared a covered area specifically for her with a towel, shade, and water. She was immediately restless and would wander off into the weeds where predictors like alligators might lurk. We would chase after her and lure her back to the shaded area with treats. The tall sea grass was obviously the site of the best smells were, despite the dangers, and where all the important messages were hidden. Every time we’d turn our backs to her or check our e-mail she was gone again, headed to the grassy post office where she could check her p-mail.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Eagles and Gators #1942

Another successful neighborhood gathering took place last night.  We now get the day off from social gatherings in anticipation of tomorrow night’s Alter Eagles concert. It looks like there will also be a pre-party. The last time we saw the real Eagles was on my 63rd birthday in 2014 while we were living in Portland. Glenn Frye died two years later at the age of 67 and was replaced with his son Deacon, while Vince Gill also joined the band at that time. They are playing later this month in Tampa. Ticket prices range from $255 in the upper levels to $8,470 for front row VIP seats. We’ll probably see the Eagles again when Hell Freezes Over. The Alter Eagles are probably our best option – “just close your eyes and you’ll think they’re the real thing.”

Our next concert is still most likely Santana/Earth Wind Fire on my 71st birthday. I’m not seeing any other options in between, with the exception of these cover bands and concerts in the park. The Paradise Pickers played last night at our neighborhood event. They were one picker short but well worth the money, although it made conversation difficult. Even with my new Bose sound system, a.k.a. hearing aids, I had trouble working the room. My voice was definitely strained by the end of the evening, trying to scream talk. I did meet a few more people on our street.

There is a nest of Eagles just down the road from us. The massive roost of sticks is high in a tree, but you can see the bald heads of the eaglets peeking out as the two proud parents keep watch. We stopped the other day so our guests could clearly see them, rather than our typical drive-by. They are on the grounds of the local Italian-American Club, so it was after dinner one night that we discovered their existence. Depending on weather, most egg hatching takes place in January and February according to sources, so the timing of the babies makes sense. I wonder if they will all eventually move on and the nest will slowly disappear? They have become part of our local tour, just beyond Alligator Alley where an occasional gator is seen sunning. They tend to be more visible this time of year and less dangerous as predators, using the sun to warm their cold blood, enabling them to digest food. Eagles and Gators are our entertainment this time of year. 

 

 

 

 

« Older posts

© 2024 johnstonwrites.com

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑