Mighty Minty in the Hood

Green Anole Lizard (https://wildlifeinformer.com/most-common-lizards-in-florida/)

The morning began with a single shriek. Mine. Followed by an expletive (okay, more than one expletive)…also mine.

Let me be clear dear reader; a day beginning in such a way, before the sun has barely made it above the roof tops, is not an optimal way to start one’s day.

I had just finished my first cup of espresso and was mulling over what I needed to accomplish for the day as I puttered around the kitchen. Then, before donning shoes and such to walk The Poodle I stepped into our cozy little living room area to pull back the shades of the long sliding glass door. There on my new sofa, was a small brown lizard. Amazingly my shriek did not budge the thing, nor The Poodle for that manner, who remained blissfully unaware, curled in his bed.

Rocket-man came to the rescue, as it were, picking up the sofa cushion to relocate the unexpected visitor to the front yard. It clearly did not want to leave the comforts of the cushion as hubby had to firmly shake it off. (I was later told that most likely the invader did not frighten away quickly– as usually happens– because it was probably dehydrated.)

Oh Lord, the things I am learning. Sigh.

This Florida adventure so far has a few downsides and the gazillion of lizards skittering about is just one of them. We’ve got green Anoles and brown ones too. We’ve got tiny house geckos and apparently iguanas (but thankfully I have yet to spot those larger non-natives in my yard). Later, when recounting the morning’s event with the neighbor, it didn’t help my head one bit that she shared she’s found lizards in her bed. “Yep…there was one in my bed just the other day,” she said brightly.

“Oh my God, really?” I replied trying to stifle my horror.

“Oh, I wasn’t fazed one bit,” she said in her peppy southern drawl. “I think they are cute as all get out,” she added.

Seriously? Well, maybe the gecko in the Geico commercials is cute, but still, it’s a reptile for goodness sake.

I wanted to say: Well bless your sweet little ole heart. Instead I opted for a more neighborly reply: “Well yes…they sure are, um cute, except not in one’s bed!”

Nor on the sofa for that matter.

So, this whole lizard thing makes it a tad difficult to relax when out on the back patio as The Poodle tries to chase them down and came awfully close to getting one in his mouth. As it is entirely certain that lizards carry salmonella they are not something I want my old dog snacking on. So, in a fit of frustration I looked into options for deterring lizards. Of course a quick internet search provided something to try that was a natural, pet-friendly alternative as I certainly did not want to use chemicals to kill the lizards (I just wanted to get them to move somewhere else.)

And there it was. Peppermint to the rescue! That sounds entirely lovely, right?

After searching high and low for a peppermint plant I resorted to plan B: I took to looking on The Land of All Things as my sister calls it (otherwise known as Amazon). Sure enough, there were several lizard deterrent products containing peppermint oil. I chose a lizard product that garnered hundreds of positive reviews. Buoyed by all the good reviews, and given my heightened anxiety over a future lizard home invasion, I went full guns ordering the gallon size. Besides, it was touted to help with deterring spiders, ants, and even rodents. Two days later my Mighty Mint insect and pest control order was delivered and I wasted not a moment opening it. After a quick read of the directions, I was hopeful, excited and ready to spray away.

And spray I did!

Yowza! The peppermint smell—though not entirely obnoxious—was ridiculously strong and after awhile somewhat nauseating. Still, I sprayed…and sprayed…and sprayed! And then, I watched and waited…and for good measure, I followed the same steps the following morning.

Well, my dear “four” readers, I know you are on the edge of your seats, waiting with baited breath to know: Did it work? Did the lizards, green ones and brown ones….big ones and tiny ones….skitter away to other parts of the hood?

Drum roll please

Unequivocally….

No.

Not sure I can wrap my head around my Home Sweet Home now being “home” for lizards. And yes, you’ve guessed it: I shake the bed covers each night like a crazy woman.

Sigh. In this moment, there is no bliss in doing that. 😬

Morning Sounds…

I’m out on my morning walk dragging The Poodle and trying to beat the rain. I lost that race just yesterday when out on my solo four mile walk. A brief but heavy rain shower seemed to appear out of nowhere and soaked me pretty good before it ended almost as quickly as it began. I enjoyed the rain actually but was worried about rain ruining the iPhone.

In any event just as I was preparing to give my sis a call to sing her Happy Birthday, I was momentarily jolted by the strangest–and loudest–sound. I looked over just across the street to see two Sandhill Cranes, one of whom was prancing around while the other seemed rather chilled. Given that we are in such new territory, we refer to these extraordinarily large birds with red foreheads, white cheeks and long pointed bills as the “deer” of the neighborhood (although, apparently there are actual deer sightings in these parts as well). This was really the first time since moving here that I’ve heard these cranes “talking” and witnessed “dancing” too. Normally they are busy eating with their very long bills seemingly stuck in that rather awful, thick and spongy St. Augustine grass.

Naturally, curiosity piqued, I decided to Google up some information on these creatures. Firstly, it’s difficult to tell males and females apart; they are nearly identical. Males are generally slightly larger. In addition, I learned the display I had witnessed was most likely mating (or mated ) pairs engaging in “unison calling.” And here I thought they were having a heated argument over worms, berries or whether or not to fly over to the next retention pond. Although I do suppose such squabbles come later in the relationship (cracking myself up here) it is a certain bliss to learn that these birds are monogamous and stay together for life. And, mom and pop both share in the incubation duties. Isn’t that just lovely?! Of course, on the flip side, if one should get too close to eggs or babies (either accidentally or purposefully) one or both parents will feel threatened and will come after the unfortunate soul aggressively and are apt to assault with a kick and/or stab with their long bill, which is apparently sharp enough to pierce the skull of a small carnivore. Yikes.

And yes, when The Poodle caught sight of the pair this morning he stopped dead still and was actually rendered bark-less for a change! In fact, I’m positive I saw his jaw drop in amazement as if to express: Jeez mom, we’re definitely not in “Kansas” anymore.

Indeed my sweet four-legged love. “Just you wait,” I said as I caressed his head and moved us along towards home. “There are more adventures to come old man…and you haven’t even caught sight of your first gator.”

Trying to impress are we? Ah, yes…I am impressed.

An Observation or Two…

The Sunshine state has been “home” for just over two months now. As you’d imagine dear readers, I have already made a few observations in-between opening boxes and runs to the donation center. Nothing overly keen mind you, nevertheless such observations can be added to my portfolio—if you will—of observations and opines attesting to years of living in many different places, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Firstly, I can attest that Floridians are genuinely nice folks, at least those I have encountered so far. Every person we meet is generally cheerful, friendly, helpful, respectful, and, at first blush anyway, non-judgmental. Folks here seem to have the “You do you and I’ll do me” approach to life. Add to that a refreshingly relaxed pace of life.

That is, until they get behind the wheel.

Which brings me to observation number two (and this is not an opine): Floridians are AWFUL drivers! And no, it is not because there is an eighty-year-old behind the wheel. Yes, I am now In a state that is heavily populated by senior citizens but I can affirm that many of the people driving dangerously are clearly younger by a decade or two more than I.

First of all, they DO NOT abide by the posted speed limit, whether on the freeway or on surface roads. I’ve no problem with no more than five miles over the limit; it’s often my practice on major highways I’ll confess (this coming from a gal who has never had a speeding ticket in over forty plus years of driving). But Lord have mercy, I’m talking about people flying past me going at least twenty miles over the limit. And, passing on the right? an overday occurrence, as well as ignoring stop signs and even red lights! Just last week I witnessed an SUV run a red light literally in front of a sheriff’s vehicle!

“Surely you saw that?” I all but screamed out the window.

Apparently not.

And, do not get me started on traffic circles (also called roundabouts). We have three roundabouts in our new neighborhood. I should not be surprised really as roundabouts have been gaining in popularity for several decades now as a measure to smooth traffic flow and reduce cars idling at traffic light, which may well help to reduce pollution, among other things. The real estate agent that handled our house-hunting refers to them as “death traps.” At first I scoffed at her reference, being none too pleased at the suggestion being planted, as in, you will absolutely become the victim of an accident in a roundabout.

Just one of the roundabouts in our neck-of-the-woods

Gee, thanks for planting that little nugget.

In all fairness, she doesn’t know that I have experienced enough of them when living in Europe. Though I do not know the entire history of this traffic “delight” I know they have been around on the other side of the pond for centuries. France has over 30,000 of them, far more than Spain, the UK or Germany. Even in the chaos of the huge traffic circle at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris people generally know what to do (full disclosure, I did NOT attempt navigating through that insane traffic circle but I’ve handled tamer ones in Germany and even managed several in Scotland while cycling).

Sadly, It happens that our agent may indeed have a point. Folks in my new neighborhood do not seem to have a clue as to how to properly navigate a two-lane roundabout even with a huge, highly visible, painted symbol on the pavement, along with road signs, just before entering the roundabout clearly indicating how traffic must flow! It is also crazy that too many drive well above the posted speed limit as if they are on the Daytona speedway. It really is a bumper car game free-for-all just trying to get through it.

Though it was in 2017, I am not surprised of one survey conducted by SmartAsset, a personal-finance company, which rated Florida as the number one state for the most unsafe drivers, not one, but two years in a row! Remarkably, Florida did not make the top five worst state for drivers in a Car Insurance Comparison study conducted in 2019. I am not sure I believe it given my observations in just these two months! One explanation I recently heard when commenting on my observation was that since Florida is flat, as in flat-as-a-pancake, one can drive for long stretches without nary an obstacle but when one suddenly “appears”, the zoned-out driver becomes befuddled and is thus caught off-guard. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out the ramifications.

Still, in my humble opinion, seems like a lame explanation. Clearly folks need better education.

And so, I have observed in myself that Florida has made me more of a worrier with respect to my rocket-man (more than usual let’s say.). Though he is not quite the Mario Andretti, he can tend towards the zoom-zoom mentality when getting behind the wheel. This has prompted me to to add to my requisite good-bye kiss when he leaves the house: I literally take him by the shoulders and look steadily into his lovely blue eyes. “Practice defensive driving and absolutely no zoom-zooming!!”

“Yes, my love” is his reply as he plants a kiss on my forehead.

So, until my next observation, and there is sure to be one, mind the rules of the road dear reader, in whatever State your wheels take you. And don’t forget the kiss and “I love you” for your most treasured dear ones as you leave the house.

There is bliss in that.

Lamenting The D-Word

Settling in, one breath at a time

It’s been a month of Sundays, and more, since I’ve made time to put a few words down. Only a tiny fraction of this time has it been due to sheer laziness. Honestly my dear four readers, I’ve been exhausted, but worry not (if you were) I’m starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. Holy Stromboli…this move has been more difficult than in decades, and not just physically.

You all know about leaving my sis and her family. That, in and of itself, was heart-wrenching. We were literally seventy steps from each other. Coffee, sweets, good food, wine and hugs were nearly a daily habit between our households. Now we’re 800 miles and change apart. Now we are in the flat-as-a pancake land of gators and altogether different flora and fauna. Indeed, some of this is interesting, infusing brain cells with both wonder and worry as we experience another part of this great country. But, there is also the D-word.

Yes. The “D” word. As in downsizing.

Move out day….

Having moved more than the digits on both hands and a foot, I am more than accustomed to keeping the cupboards, closets and drawers cleared of fluff and stuff. There is, IMHO, no years of accumulated junk in my house. Even more extraordinary, before this last move I finally got my rocket-man to get dead serious about his boxes of stuff. He had, for example, pay stubs dating back from his very first employer—more than forty years ago! Shred it or else I threatened, though I did not have the “or else” fully planned. He even agreed to part with some of his Steelers paraphernalia. Lord have mercy, that was huge!

For the most part, my mantra has always been “Haven’t used it in a year…it’s outta here.” I have not been draconian with that rule mind you, but suffice it to say that every couple of years I donate heavily to various charities (Salvation Army, Purple Heart, etc.) in an effort to keep the “stuff” in my abode manageable. In fact, I was de-cluttering à la Marie Kondo years before she became a verb.

So yes, before this last move I did what I have done for decades prior to a move: purge. Still, even before moving into our new home I knew I would be in trouble. While staying in the one room temporary apartment with household goods in storage I’d toss and turn at night thinking about where this or that would fit into the new place. Truly, this is a first world problem! Too many around the world cannot even fathom clean running water or an indoor toilet for that matter. Still I got my knickers in a twist recently when my daughter showed little sympathy over my lamentation at having to make eight trips to Goodwill (with more on the horizon) to further pare down our stuff…and this after selling a sofa and loveseat AND giving away an oak bookcase, two night tables, a brand new 8×10 rug and a few other odds and ends literally straight off the moving truck. Those guys were mighty happy.

“How are things going in the new house,” my daughter asked.

“Well, I am thoroughly overwhelmed over how to fit things in cupboards and closets and the like. I’ve never had this problem before, even in military quarters! I’d have the kitchen and the master bedroom fully functional in just about three days flat. Not even close this time around. I’ve had to make so many trips to the local Goodwill donation center. Frankly, I thought I had gotten rid of more than enough things before the move; even sold a couple of items. I just didn’t anticipate having this much of a problem settling in and I am sad about purging more than I was ready for.

“Mom, it’s just stuff,” she finally said as if explaining a new concept to a dolt.

Engulfed in tiredness, missing my sis and daily hugs, plus worry about a boatload of other things in my new state, I replied with heat in my veins.

“I am fully aware that this is just stuff, I said. “And yes tomorrow…or in the not so distant future…I will drop dead and you’ll get on a plane, swoop in, and haul every last bit of all this stuff to some donation center (or even the dumpster). Which by the way dear reader, I know it is indeed the cycle of life and honestly, no judgements on that score. However, in the here and now, I am alive and kicking and not quite ready for the nursing home. It would be lovely to not have to part with one scintilla more of my stuff, just yet anyway, or, at the very least a modicum of sympathy over the whole D-word thing would be appreciated.

That said, I just gave the handyman a nicely framed picture that was happily displayed in the basement TV room of our last place. Since we now do not have a basement…nor a media room…there is one less picture to find a place for. Mr. Handyman is thrilled to pieces with his new (free) treasure even as we are not thrilled with his handiwork and won’t have him back. Sigh. A story for another day perhaps.

Still, it’s a win-win and the sting of the D-word is actually beginning to subside (‘Til the next time, that is).

All in all, there is bliss in that.

Palmetto-phobia

We’ve been in the sunshine state for barely a month now and are set to leave apartment living next week. Yee-haw!

Needless to say, I’m more than ready to finally receive our household goods and put this life in limbo status behind us. Apartment living has been a bit odd but not horrid. The last time we lived in an apartment was over twenty years ago when waiting for a house to be built. That was a seven-month ordeal and not altogether a pleasant one. Schlepping laundry to a laundromat was no picnic for starters and the noise level of surrounding neighbors made for cranky encounters. Plus, I never felt altogether safe.

This time around has been so much better, even dealing with a broken air conditioner for the better part of a week. Still, we haven’t met a soul (even at the swimming pool). We have not heard sounds of life above us, nor below us and I know we are not the only folks living in the building. The noisiest aspect of living here is the washing machine in our unit; It literally sounds like a rocket-ship taking off. While mildly annoying I’m just grateful not to have to contend with a laundromat.

Ah, but I do have one thing to complain about; the sight of not one, but TWO cockroaches.

Now dear reader…you know how I feel about bugs. In this life anyway, I will NEVER reach the do not harm ethic of Buddhism. It’s just not in my DNA. Still, if you can believe it, I did not lose my mind. No lie. In fact, I tried to be quite calm when I saw the first bug and, as silly as this sounds, I actually had to ask my husband to verify the type of insect that was belly up, but still kicking, on the kitchen floor.

“Oh that? It’s a palmetto bug, he said.

What?

“Otherwise known as a cockroach,” he added. “Well, to be precise, an American cockroach.”

Okay. THEN… I lost my mind. A cockroach…with wings!

However, they suck at flying. So there is that…as if this is supposed to ease my bug phobia.

As we were minutes away from libation hour Hubby tried to calm my fraying nerves by offering me a glass of wine. I paced back and forth in the tiny space spitting expletives: how could this possibly happen when I am a neat freak in the kitchen ?!

“You have to expect that in an apartment building, he said after he relocated the squashed remains of the repulsive insect to the toilet. Of course, with wine glass in hand, I turn to Google to look up the palmetto bug.

That was stupid.

A walk on the beach the next morning helps quell the anxiety that lurks in the space of my lungs and in the pit of my stomach. I’m quiet as I look for dolphins but then the mind starts to whirl again where it shouldn’t.

I knew this would happen. How could I expect anything different moving to perhaps the buggiest state in the U.S.!

I breathe in deeply relishing the fresh, cool salty air of the early morning. My toes are in the water, hubby is at my side. Right here and now, it’s lovely.

Except the bug thing keeps a tightness in my chest. Now I’ve got palmetto-phobia to add to the list of things that make my stomach turn.

Come on Missy; you can do better in this moment. Let’s shake the image of the cockroach skittering across the floor in the bedroom from your head for goodness sake. Besides, you will have pest control at the new house. In fact, we have learned that the house we will call home for who knows how long has the TAEXX system. It sounds like the best thing since sliced bread. I could kiss the previous home owner for having it installed…if it really works that is! I’ll keep you appraised, of course.

Curious? Here you go…

Poopy Matters

I honestly do not keep track of what I write in this space; I’m much too lazy for that. But I am fairly certain that somewhere in the bowels of this space I have shared a pet peeve or two. Just in case however, since I’ve nothing better to do as I continue life in limbo in my new state, I’ll share again one of my pet peeves:

People too lazy to scoop the poop.

Yes indeed kind reader, I know. There are gazillions of issues more pressing in the world to get one’s knickers in a twist over but still, It’s particularly maddening (IMHO) to see piles of poop on sidewalks, in yards, and in common areas particularly when there are Pet Waste stations readily available; in fact, practically on every street corner in my area.

Here we are in our temporary apartment situation and I’m simply aghast by the amount of dog poop everywhere especially given that Pet Waste stations, such as the one pictured which is around the corner from our apartment, are EVERYWHERE in this large apartment and condo complex. Add to that is the astounding fact that these Pet Poop stations are also conveniently placed INSIDE the various dog parks in this complex. These dog parks are actually quite nice as they are covered with artificial turf, have pet playground equipment, access to water and, in some cases, a shaded area for pet owners to sit while their pups romp. And yet, Every. Single. Dog Park that the Poodle and I have visited since our arrival are littered with piles of poop despite easy access to these well-stocked Pet Waste stations. And no, the rationale that it is perhaps the job of the grounds crew does not fly! There is signage everywhere stating the obvious: CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR PET!

Chalk it up, I suppose, to a universal truth: There are downright rude people in this world.

While we are on the subject of poop, I have learned to differentiate between mouse poop and lizard poop.

Clearly I have a lot of time on my hands at the moment.

So, here we are getting the scoop, as it were, on the home inspection for our new digs. Most everything came out clean as a whistle with the exception of a few minor issues with the roof. The home inspector had photographed one such issue where there was evidence of a rodent in the attic Naturally, I wanted this investigated and remediated and the sellers were absolutely on board to address the issues. Turns out the poop droppings in the attic were not due to mice or, God forbid, rats.

Report conclusion:The droppings are consistent with lizards and frogs; most likely lizards. Because lizard droppings are normal in Florida attics and not preventable, no remediation is suggested.”

Lizards…Frogs? In the attic? Oh my! Though it was over five years ago (In Alabama) my too-close encounter with a frog seems like only yesterday. I mean really, how does one get “lucky’ enough to have a frog fall on top of one’s head when opening a door to step out into the yard?

Of course, this got me to thinking: what does lizard poop look like?

As much as I loathe relying on Google, I just had to know. So, into the Google world I went and yes, I now know the difference between mouse poop and lizard poop. Inquiring minds, you need search no further: Lizards poop and pee out of the same orifice so their poop is characterized by a white tip which is crystalized uric acid.

Lizard Poop: Photo by Gary Nafis

Now I have lizards on the brain (as well as snake poop….Thanks Google!).

So, I happen to know that there is a lizard-in-resident at my new home-to-be. I spotted him perched on the current owners lounge chair while I was walking the small patio area. He did not seem skittish at all; in fact, he seemed rather curious, as if to communicate: Wait…what?! New humans will be invading my space?

So, I’m going to give him a name; I think Sir Geoffrey fits. This is a wink and a nod to my nephew who has a silly history with the name. I am sure to be one nervous ninny with Sir Geoffrey around as I learned too, that lizard poop is dangerous; it can contain salmonella.

Salmonella…no bliss in that to be sure. Ah, but the adventure continues and that means, if nothing else, on some level…more neuroplasticity is taking place for moi.

So Far, He’s Not Impressed…

A certain someone has yet to be impressed. My last post, which seems like eons ago, should provide a clue as to who that would be.

Ah yes, The Poodle. He’s having a little trouble adjusting (as this writer is) which of course, makes me feel like a bad mamma.

So, I imagine my old boy is having a conversation in his head and it goes something like this:

Okay… let me get this straight humans. We had this perfectly nice house with a screened-in porch that you guys loved to sit in and drink your libation on cool evenings while doing the crossword puzzle. You had this perfectly big house that you even took the expense and headache to renovate creating among other things a totally awesome kitchen where access to my food bowl was in a perfect location and my bed was positioned to see all the comings and goings in the house. And, said home was located in a perfectly lovely neighborhood with plenty of yard and an abundance of squirrels to bark at. And let us not forget miles of paths to explore through verdant woods, around a lake where lots of people walked their four-legged loves, and… most important of all…a home where my very best friend on the planet, and her family, lived seventy steps away from me.

AND YOU DECIDE TO LEAVE THAT? Crazy humans!

Wowza kind readers, lets just say that just over three weeks ago was a wild weekend in Northern Virginia. We literally blinked and our house was sold. We had heard the news of the craziness of the housing market across the country but didn’t fully appreciate it until we were experiencing it. I’ve made many moves in my lifetime; the swiftness of this one was dizzying to say the least. It wasn’t a lack of preparedness on my part that made things so crazy; I had, after all, spent a good number of weeks prior gathering items for donation, shredding boxes of obsolete and outdated paperwork and in general, shedding stuff. The lightening speed at which things occurred was almost surreal; I simply wasn’t ready to leave my sis and family so damned fast.

So here we are in sunny Florida. We’re in a temporary corporate apartment situation for another three weeks until we move into our new home. Our situation is not ideal in that we are battling with maintenance to fix the air conditioning. As I type it’s 83 degrees in this second floor apartment. Two service calls have been made over the course of five days which ended with the line: “All fixed now ma’am.” Um…no; not fixed! Over the weekend, we were back to square one with a non-functioning system. Another service call was made early this morning but I’ve yet to see or hear from maintenance. I’m steaming…literally, but trying mightily not to be a pain in the tush. As I drip with sweat I think of those who aren’t fortunate to have air conditioning, let alone a roof over their head.

We’ll be down more than 1700 square feet when we finally move into our new digs which means, when all is said and done, I will be pitching even more stuff! As I remain in this limbo state I’ll admit that a touch of the blues have got a hold of me (and no, not because of needing to shed more stuff). Simply put, I miss the daily hugs of my nephew and the routine of my Virginia life. The rhythm of life has once again been upended. Of course, that is not necessarily a bad thing. It was a choice to do so after all. It simply reinforces, of course, the impermanence of things–a point that I sometimes forget (consciously or otherwise) in the routine of daily life.

And, apparently my old man Poodle has a case of the blues too. He’s quite confused in this tiny space we all find ourselves in. Though he’s smelling new things (which one would think would make him jazzed) and peeing on quite different and interesting vegetation, not to mention an unusual number of rabbits in the area, his routine has been upended too. So, in an effort to lift his spirits we took him to the dog beach just yesterday. As much as I loved seeing the ocean, the dog beach didn’t thrill us one bit…not like the excellent adventures we had with him during Outer Banks vacations where he could run free for miles on the beach. The approved dog beach area is about the size of my Virginia yard and dogs have to stay leashed. That was disappointing.

I’m sure The Poodle was thinking: Where is the fun in this?

While we did see some folks allowing their pups off leash we were given the newcomer’s briefing by several law abiding dog owners: Fines for unleashed dogs, not to mention fines for unregistered dogs. Since we are new to the area and have not yet registered our pooch, we certainly weren’t keen on risking a $110 fine. Still, we walked the short stretch of beach allowed–back and forth for a good ten minutes–getting paws and toes wet– and we tracked a boatload of sand back into the car.

“Get used to it my love; We will always have sand in the car,” says hubby.

It’s going to take some time, but eventually, we’re sure to find bliss in our new state. Air conditioning would be cool start, if you get my drift. I’m hopeful.

In the meantime, have I got a lot to learn about the flora around me!

Something Weird This Way Comes?

Change is in the Air. I can feel it!

I’ll think it again…and again…and again:

These humans can certainly be a strange bunch. I just don’t get them sometimes.

Take for example a recent event. My pack leaves me for nearly ten days!  I know..egregious…right!  So, this was bad, nearly hellacious I’d venture.  Okay, I might… perhaps… be playing the drama card a bit much. After all, I was on a “vacay” of sorts too…at a home that had other dogs, cats, and even a mini-horse. Things there were ever so interesting and new, which kept the wheels in my nearly thirteen year-old noggin spinning right along. Truthfully, I only missed my pack at night. Still, after my humans returned home you’d have thought they’d be all relaxed like a bowl filled with jiggly-wiggly jello. Instead, there is a certain tenseness about, particularly with my one true love…my “mom.”

As a matter of fact, all this electricity in the air began a week ago. I’d find my mom standing still as a statue for interminably long moments looking out over the back yard or sitting out on the screened-in porch deep in thought…or downright sad. Once I caught her crying in her favorite chair. She wasn’t even watching television so I thought perhaps a book she was reading was making her sad. And then there were the sometimes clipped exchanges between mom and dad. I’m not an expert on the human language by any means. Cheese, treat, sit, stay, roll-over, kiss, paw, hungry, shake, go poop, go car, go bed, get squeaky ball, where’s dad, and let’s go see Nica, are currently the extent of my vocabulary. I can learn more—old dogs can in spite of what you’ve heard otherwise—but I’m pacing myself. Let me be clear; mom and dad weren’t shouting at each other and mom wasn’t throwing anything (although, the former does happen on occasion and certainly did for some months between mom and that other human she had incredible emotion for who was living in the basement.  Yep…gotta admit…those occasions  made me retreat to my bed fraught with worry! 

So now, Mom and dad have also been sitting at the computer—together. That is very concerning!! That happens rarely. I can feel something weird this way comes. In fact, just the other day they were spending so much time doing goodness knows what on that computer that I kept nosing mom’s hand to get her attention…as in, PICK ME UP mom because I NEED YOU!    You see, Mom has her computer upstairs and dad has his downstairs. So it is only logical to be confused as to WHY are they sitting together in dad’s office.

But the real kicker that has my anxiety level ramped up once again is all this cleaning and filling-up large black bags, taking boxes out into the garage, and the paper shredder which has been on hyper drive for days now.  And, the worst of it all is that all too familiar sound of tape coming off a dispenser.

The light bulb goes off. 

Uh oh.  I know what’s happening. I know exactly what is happening.

Oh no. NO, NO, NO! Not again!

Yep.

We’re moving.

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

A Sore Butt Equals a Happy Heart

My Oh my what a month March was!

Made it to 8,100 ft. elevation without walking. Full disclosure: The bike guide had to help me hoist the bike up for the photo as I was toast!

So, we’re just back from our second—yes, second— get-outta-Dodge excursion. Like animals escaping from a zoo, we bolted outside of the perimeter of our county when Covid vaccinations —including ours—were becoming more widespread. We braved flights in air not once, but twice; first to “Land of the Free” Florida and then to the Saguaro-dotted hills of Tuscon, Arizona. Masks were plentiful, some social distancing too, but for the most part it was business as usual for both states. Everything was open and common-sense practices in effect. It made me think once again how grateful I was NOT to be living under the draconian rules of places like California or New York.

How lovely it was to walk on the beach for a few days with freshly painted Pompeii Purple toe nails happy to splash in still chilly seawater. A drive up the coast to check out the quaint historic town of St. Augustine was also on our weekend agenda. Though it was windy and cold (I had not dressed appropriately for chilly weather) we managed to enjoy a leisurely lunch there and a tour of the Lightner museum as well as a quick stop at the historic St. Augustine lighthouse. Honestly, I could kick myself for dressing in shorts and not bringing a jacket; if I’d prepared properly we would have spent much more time strolling around and learning more about the oldest continuously-inhabited European-established settlement in the contiguous United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish admiral, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés–who would also become Florida’s first governor, this charming city was a mention by my daughter to consider for the next phase of our lives. At first blush upon arrival, we thought indeed it could be! However, after talking with an overly chatty local over a lunch of delicious fish sandwiches and a crisp Chardonnay, we thought better of it as 81 hurricanes have been recorded in St. Augustine since 1930!

A few weeks after our long weekend get-away to Florida we traveled to Arizona. March 2020 was supposed to be our fifth excellent bicycle vacation with Bicycle Adventures but of course that got summarily squashed due to a global pandemic. Hubby pushed the trip to October 2020 and that too was ceremoniously squashed because of issues with my son. Hubby insisted a third time would be the charm even as I kicked and “screamed” NO! to keeping the booking for March 2021. He needed the mental break in the worst way not to mention being loathe to losing the cycling deposit. As for moi? I had not trained for six continuous days of cycling (truth be told, I had not trained at all!) nor was my mildly depressed mindset interested in…well…frankly anything following all the drama of the past year. I was resigned to my pity-party state, which was, of course, exactly why Hubby, with a stern final voice, insisted “WE ARE GOING!”

So, here I am…just returned from six days in the bike saddle, touring miles upon many miles around the uniquely harsh but magnificent landscape of the Sonoran desert. My butt is mighty sore but my heart is happy and my spirits hopeful in spite of the many unknowns that lie ahead for us. Hours of bright, warm sunshine plus long challenging rides —to include a continual 4.25 hours of an uphill climb to 8,100 ft., up Tuscon’s beautiful Mt. Lemmon in the Coronado National Forest, will do that to body and soul.

This was, one of the rare times, that I said to Hubby: “Yes…you were right.”

There is (particularly for him) bliss in that.

p.s. I’ll share more photos of the week once I figure out why, all of the sudden, my iPhone images with HEIC extension are not allowed on WordPress. Harrumph.

Bicycle Adventures 2021

Soup Soothes…

Between rain, freezing rain and then snow it’s been a gloomy couple of weeks. Today though, the sun seems happy to make a glorious comeback, shining through leafless tress and onto lawns, sidewalks and streets covered with snow and sheets of ice. The wind is howling though, which made for a very short morning walk with The Poodle. He tried my patience mightily as he was in absolutely no hurry to get his business done despite the frigid temperature and roaring wind. I yanked and yanked on The Poodle’s lead as I navigated cautiously around patches of ice and piles of snow turned to impressively large blocks of ice thanks to the recent activity of snow plows.

“The next house, if that ever happens, is going to include a fenced-in yard,” I say to my boy through chattering teeth.

The route that usually takes barely twenty minutes with The Poodle takes more than forty, not just because of his lollygagging of course, but because of all the ice. I, for one, was terrified of falling and breaking something, but even The Poodle was slipping at times which had to have been uncomfortable for him due to his arthritis. By the time we returned to the house I was convinced that I was in stage one hypothermia. Even through my favorite impossible-to-do-anything thick mittens my fingers were so numb I could not get The Poodle’s lead off, nor his handsome winter jacket. I left both on for a good ten minutes while I made myself another cup of coffee to warm up. Naturally he was a tad confused, standing in the foyer waiting patiently for his human to act appropriately.

A steaming hot shower and another cup of coffee still did not warm me up sufficiently. Hubby would advise that I turn up the thermostat. Admittedly, I am stubborn on a few things (stress on few). The thermostat setting is one of them. While I like to be warm, I can’t stand feeling smothered in heat when indoors, not to mention the added expense on the heating bill. A setting of 67℉, max is perfectly fine with me plus I get a smiley face report (literally) from the utilities company stating that my winter energy consumption is far better than my neighbors. There is bliss in that!

As the day progresses I know that some sort comfort food will be necessary for dinner. I’m still recovering, as it were, from the heartache and stress from a few days before of getting my son out of my house, again. There is absolutely no joy in this…no cause to celebrate this third (final) ousting. All the reasons literally make my heart, soul, and every bone in my body ache. I still feel as if I am pulling myself up through quicksand.

Thankfully, our “Dry January” is well over and wine is on the menu again. And no…I did not give up a thing for Lent as I have done for some forty or so years. This year it is what it is. I’m giving instead, more smiles and compliments to whomever crosses my path. Even one to the lady in our neighborhood who walks her German Shepherd (she’s a thoroughly odd individual and I often almost run in the opposite direction when I see her coming). I know. Perhaps it’s too small of a “give” but after so many months of constant stress, it’s what I can muster. And, although the lazy bug has got me good lately, I still managed to pull off a spur-of-the-moment delicious bowl of cabbage and potato soup. Oh my, I’m feeling rather tickled with myself! How lovely it was to end the day with a healthy and hearty soup, drizzled with olive oil, topped with cracked pepper and freshly grated Parmesan cheese, good crusty bread and a fine wine. I’m sufficiently warm now, blissfully enveloped in a post-dinner satiety with The Poodle in my lap and a happy husband at my side. Honestly, I want for nothing (well…almost nothing). So yes dear reader, though it wasn’t chicken soup, I’d certify that indeed, soup soothes the soul.

There is bliss in that.