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!
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!
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!
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.
It is a cloudy “Matinee Monday,” a good afternoon for indoor entertainment. Tomorrow, we head to Vanderbilt Beach, about an hour-and-a-half south of us for a reunion with Indianapolis friends. We got together last year about this time of year, as they take a two-week break from the cold before heading back to WORK. I can barely remember the meaning of that four-letter word. Obviously, they are a bit younger than we are. We’ll spend the night, with Tally staying with a new sitter, a neighbor from the dog park. The folks from “Schnauzerville” where she likes to go are on a cruise, but it’s good to have multiple options for pet care as much as we’d like to travel. On Wednesday morning we’ll drive into nearby Bonita Springs and meet some hometown friends for lunch. She was the wife of a good high school friend who died several years ago and has been in a new relationship for awhile. I’ve yet to meet him, but soon will, since they too are getting away from the chilly Indiana weather.
Florida is a great place to renew acquaintances with the Midwest snowbirds. I guess at one time I could have been considered such an animal, but I’m now a full time resident. I was pretty far removed from my Hoosier friends, living both in Austin and Portland for the last dozen years. Only rarely did we have visitors, but I had the good fortune of knowing several Oregon Hoosiers, dating back to high school. I miss hanging out with them, especially “Leadership Meetings” at Buffalo Wild Wings. They’re coming down here for Spring Training, plus I’ll visit them in Portland come September.
We got some of the fliers out yesterday for the Neighborhood Meet-up in a few weeks and will see a lot of them tonight at the events center for a movie one of them produced. It could be two movies in one day for my wife and I! As a result, I will miss some of the IU basketball game tonight, but have a feeling that this may be a good thing – we have little to gain and a lot to lose. The team has not won a BIG road game in nearly a year, plus Nebraska is last in the conference. If we lose this one – all hope is gone. It will be better to simply monitor the score and keep my comments to myself. Getting together with these new neighbor friends will be a welcome distraction.
As has been customary in recent posts, I’ve included a historical tidbit as part of my daily thoughts. Back in the year 1919, “the USA needed security. Instead, cities experienced “Red Scare” bombings, race riots, workers striking, vets competing for jobs, May Day demonstrations, armed resistance movements and the deportations of 149 people, including political activist Emma Goldman, to Russia. Historians rate 1919 ‘America’s worst year.'” This all according to Wikipedia that is always an easy resource. A Penny for their thoughts!
With my lifelong fascination of finding abandoned coins on the ground I have posted about “Pennies from Heaven” in my ramblings. (See Post #183). In my daily runs, I’ve only found a couple of quarters and a nickel on these new neighborhood streets. Running in downtown Portland was an entirely different experience. Much more traffic and parked cars as opposed to construction equipment here. I haven’t found a single penny since we moved here 10-months ago.
I ran across this poem on Facebook the other day from an anonymous source:
“Found a penny today,
Just laying on the ground.
But it’s not just a penny,
This little coin I’ve found.
Found pennies come from heaven
That’s what my grandpa told me.
He said, “Dog-Angels toss them down.”
Oh, how I loved that story.
He said, “When a Dog-Angel misses you,
He tosses a penny down.
Sometimes just to cheer you up,
To make a smile out of your frown.”
So don’t pass by that penny,
When you’re feeling blue.
It may be a penny from heaven,
That your dog has tossed to you.”
I’ve written about this phenomenon, but always attributed it to a wink from my parents or other angels watching over me (See Post #1594), especially when there was a quarter involved. I just never gave the dogs due credit – shame on me – until I read this poetic tribute. I promise to give a future nod to my former pups like Tinker, Roxie, Belle, Gizmo, Smiley and Brittney. I suppose I should also include the cats, but three coins over ten months makes credit hard to divide. Where’s the Change, Florida?
It’s another “Tourist Thursday” with a trip to the Sarasota Orchid Show. We try to do something each week to learn more about our new Florida surroundings. It also helps us plan what our guests might enjoy when they visit us. This week, in fact, several once-a-year events are going on including art shows in Venice and on nearby St. Armand’s Island. We’ve also made plans for the upcoming Venice Wine Feast and will also make some stops in Tampa when we go to pick up our next guest at the airport next week. It’s all an attempt to keep my energetic wife happy and busy.
She’s at the dog park with our schnauzer Tally right now before it rains. Tally is not as active as many of the younger pups but she likes to sit up on a bench and at least watch them romp. As I run by every morning, she barely makes an attempt to acknowledge me. Sometimes I’ll clap my hands and she’ll run away, hoping that the “big dog” gate is open so she can chase me. At least, that’s what my wife claims so I don’t feel bad about the lack of attention. She’s clearly Tally’s favorite, while I’m just an occasional outing and treat source. I take her out first thing every morning, just before dinner, and before we all retire for the night. Otherwise, she could care less about my presence.
We never know where Tally is going to sleep every night. She has two beds and two favorite chairs or will plop down on our silk couch pillows when they happen to be out for the benefit of guests. She will not get in the bed as long as I am around, but anymore it’s too much of a jump for her aging legs to make the leap anyways. Tally will be 13 in two months, the same age as my oldest granddaughter, but many times still acts like a puppy. We know that she probably only has a few more years with us, so the desire for a companion dog is growing in my wife’s mind. As much as we plan to travel, I feel that we don’t need additional dog sitting charges, let alone the responsibility.
After going to the dog park twice yesterday, including an evening visit for “Yappy Hour,” Tally seemed more than content in her living room bed. It’s the fancy Ginger Bed she uses when there’s a need to guard the patio sliding doors from intruders. She can also be near us when we’re watching TV in the evening. Many times we’re not sure if she’s tired or just bored, however the double play day surely made it more difficult to get up for her final outing with me. I clapped my hands several times to get her attention with little reaction. Even “Ham Time” didn’t work. Finally, I asked for “Tally to Rally.” She slowly climbed out of her nest, shook her dog tags, and stretched before I had her full attention. It’s my newest call to action…”Time to Rally Tally!”
Tally’s day started with an expected treat from a guy in a golf cart. I was about 15 minutes behind schedule, so apparently he drives by almost every day after his gym workout. He stopped and asked if Tally was friendly then offered a treat. I thought it was a fun surprise from her new friend Paul. It goes to prove that just a few minutes change in the routine can make a complete difference in the day. After Tally had her second treat after being a good girl outside, she cuddled up next to her new stuffed elephant and started the long wait until “Mom” takes her to the dog park. In the meantime, I do my daily run as dozens of now familiar dogs pass by on their way to the park.
It’s the same familiar faces at the dog park every morning and a few of them wave as I run past. My wife and I are on different routes but she will join them all soon, so her car will be missing when I arrive home in a sweat. As I walked in the door, I could tell that Tally was excited that “Mom” was finally up because she had drug the elephant down the hallway to the garage door. I could almost see her shaking the poor creature in her teeth in anticipation of getting in the car. It must seem like hours to her between that first morning outing and the drive to the park, but the elephant keeps her company.
Tally spent five days away from this routine last week but went to Schnauzerville or Schnauzerland for care while we were out of town. She apparently has a boyfriend named Jax that also comes for grooming and she enjoyed being around the six, new-born schnauzer puppies. At Camp Schnauzerville there are at times 18 of the same breed playing in the back yard and dog beds laid out all over the house. It’s total chaos at first glance, but Bob & Carol have done this for years, breeding, grooming and boarding schnauzers just like Tally in their home. We were lucky to find them. I doubt she misses us much in this special puppy environment and is often tired and/or depressed when we get back. Then, she’s stuck alone with the elephant and other stuffed toys until the next trip to the dog park when she’s reunited with her friends. There’s always now the dog treat golf cart to look forward to seeing in the mornings, like the ice cream truck when we were kids.
I did my first yard work in nearly two years this morning, trimming around a tree in front of our house. The HOA is supposed to take care of this but their work is many times spotty. We’ve had a pile of dead branches sitting out by the roadside awaiting pick-up for several weeks now. With all the work we’ve had done on the driveway expansion, the lawn is looking very shoddy with lots of brown, especially around the edges where the sod hasn’t yet settled. I see many of my neighbors working outside, so now they know that I, too, care about the look of our yard even though I’ve yet to own a shovel. In fact, I did my edging with a pair of scissors.
Tally continues to disrupt our morning routine. Yesterday, it was an upset stomach, the contents of which ended up on my office carpeting. This morning at the dog park she found the odor of a dead snake appealing and rolled in the grass around it, collecting bugs and stink in her fur. My wife dragged her home and gave her a bath in our utility sink. She’s now trying to get up on my chair but I shooed her outside to dry off. Fortunately, we had moved her grooming appointment from yesterday to next week.
It’s “Football Sunday” with our fantasy team once again in action. I plan to join Tally on the lanai to watch the games this afternoon before my evening Pickle Ball match. It’s the first time I’ll be taking advantage of an HOA activity, having reserved a court near the clubhouse. I have been inside for meetings but haven’t used the fitness facility, joined any clubs, or gone to any game watches since we moved in five months ago. I have at least gone swimming in the pool with my grandkids. Friends are in town for the month, so they intend to teach us the game of Pickle Ball, enjoy a swim in our pool, and join us for dinner. We’re starting to get “into the swing of things” here in our retirement resort community.
Tally got very sick last night. I’m not sure which end it came out – maybe both? It was obviously the brisket that we brought home for her from Darrell’s BBQ. Maybe too rich for a puppy but certainly delicious from our perspective. I had the pulled pork and we topped it off with banana pudding. All those things didn’t settle very well this morning when I blindly stepped in a cold pile of Tally’s retching that squished between my toes. It was not a pleasant wake-up call and threw me off my exercise schedule. When I should have been running, I was using Spot Shot and paper towels on the office carpeting. As a result, I shortened day #4654 to slightly over a mile.
I continue to experience some pain and stiffness in my right hip. It seems to be more muscular than skeletal, but picking up a couple of cases of water at Costco yesterday certainly didn’t help. I needed a day “off” after 8-straight 5k mornings of discomfort. I’ve struggled this month with only 68.5 miles in 25 hot, humid days. When is it ever going to cool off? My wife is headed to her Aqua Fit class while I plan an afternoon of college football. IU does not play until later this evening, so I’ll have trouble staying awake to watch it after a dinner at The Sand Trip with some neighbors. Tomorrow is my very first Pickle Ball match.
We continue to fight the hassles of claim forms. We’re still trying to get resolution on furniture damage from the move, travel insurance on our cancelled Tahoe trip, a deductible refund on an auto accident, and warranty issues on our house. This coupled with cell phone transfer problems, health insurance paperwork, a bank loan, and an upcoming trip to Pittsburg have kept me busy on the computer and phone. As I continue to deal with life’s day-to-day ups and downs, I’m reminded that retirement is not without hassles!