Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Be the duck

Working hard to swim away from the rain of negative thoughts I'm feeling. I can't let go of how irritated I am at the "dog groomer' concerning the dog situation. We go up to Gainesville in the morning. I am not looking forward to telling the story about how we had to battle two dogs who were "off the chain". Mad at myself for not being able to keep a Pit bull from attacking, for having to kick her away each time she struck at Nice. Knowing with every kick Nice would have a wound. I am trying to get over it. Which means I am being successful in staying irritated. I know there is nothing that will change by my being frustrated. If I could just let it roll off...Like water off a duck's back.

Monday, April 29, 2013

On to the Positive

We have been walking farther each day. First to the corner. Then to the street behind the plaza. Late last night we walked through the neighborhood making a big circle back to the office. Nice ( the dog) is wanting to keep going. I can tell he needs to build up his endurance (and the callouses) after more than two months close to "home". I am glad he seems to be healing well.
Wednesday , two days from now, we are going back to UF Small Animal Hospital for the ex rays to check his progress.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

No clue

I don't know how to begin the description of this tale. I will begin by apologizing for what I may say that may offend.
There was a dog fight outside the door of the office.
The, so called, dog groomer who rents the space next door has two dogs. A pit bull and a Brittish American bull mix. 65 and 95 pounds respectively, Pixie and Smoke are their names. She, Pixie is a new adoption by the groomer. Two weeks ago he brought her while she was in heat to breed with Smoke. The groomer opened his door Thursday evening to say something to Angel and Suzanne. They were sitting at the bench outside the office door while Nice slept in the sun, covered by his blanket. Moments before I had stepped inside the office. The girls were there, the parking lot was empty. What could be more relaxed and comfortable? The groomer let Pixie slip out. She had no collar or harness. She had been locked in the bathroom with Smoke all day while the goomer was out. He had returned a few minutes prior. I say he is a dog groomer but he has not taken in a customer since he took over the business from the last tenant and moved in two months ago with Smoke. The dogs bark at any noise when he is away. this was the first day he had put them in the small bathroom. When he leaves them in the back room they bark at every noise. When he leaves them to roam the entire shop they bark and gnash at the glass front door at anything that moves . They get in a frenzy and charge the glass if someone comes to inquire about grooming. I am sure they both had some pent-up energy...I am resisting the temptation to express a strong and denegrating opinion toward the groomer at this moment... Here we go...I had stepped inside, sitting with my back to the window, I heard the dog groomer talking to the girls. Then I heard him yell at Pixie who was standing and sniffing Nice who,for a few seconds, laid calmly under his blanket while she sniffed all around his face. While the, again so called, groomer yells at the recently pregnant, collarless female, Smoke pushes his way out the door, without collar or harness. I began to run to the door as I heard Nice and Pixie clash. She had walked behind him and attaked. Suzanne flung Angel onto the bench, grabbed Nice by his harness and stood on his leash while the two beasts began to battle. As I hit the door Suzanne handed me the only leash in the situation. Smoke was making his first lunge into the fray as I kicked Pixie off this first time. I began to pull the leash attached to Nice, out to the open parking lot to get some distance between the dogs. Nice was engaged with smoke, who was being grappled by the 6' 2' 175 pound, military trained, served our country four years ( god save us), dog groomer. He was also holding Nice by his harness. As Pixie dives in again, and again, I am lifting two dogs off the ground, ever mindful of Nice's rear legs, kicking Pixie away a few more times and dragging the shirtless veteran, wearing shorts and sandals, across the parking lot. I finally get it through his thick skull to let go of the harness ( the other arm had Smoke in sort of a head lock ). Nice was attached, and held in place by the dog groomer, who had been dragged 60 feet, painfully apologizing all the way... When he could have been thinking of his next move...Pixie was not coming back for a forth strike and had been corralled by the girls back into the "groomer" doorway. Finally free of the the Navy trained anchor, I told Nice to let go and pulled him away. Leading Nice back the 90 feet to the door that I had just carried two dogs and dragged the man across, I mentioned that there was a reason for leash laws. I could not help myself but utter a phrase that translates as follows : Copulating individual with a below average intellegence quotient.
Nice has several small cuts about his face and ears. His legs seem to be ok. The groomer has asphalt scrapes and cuts. Pixie and Smoke also had wounds. Suzanne is wondering if someone got the number on the license plate of the truck that hit her and Angel. I feel like I went to a tractor pulling competition where I was the tractor.
The groomer still has not harnessed the dogs. Yesterday we heard Pixie and Smoke fighting and the dog groomer cursing while his two young children were there waiting for their mother to pick them up. When she arrived both dogs charged out the front door, no leash, and were dragged back by the skin of their necks.

In my opinion... Some people should not breed... Dogs.
Some people are clueless.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Move

Nice (the dog) has what I call his "signature move". When someone approaches he will roll over on his back and twist around to scratch his own back.
This morning, after his walk, after two days of walking to build strength, he was about to make his move as Dave, the sign Guy, walked up. Nice began the twist with his shoulders but was too stiff to commit to the flop over onto his back. He instead straightened up and walked back to the door of the office, waited for me to open the door then walked into his padded pen.
He has me trained...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Building Back

Nice (the dog) is building strength after the knee surgery. His incisions have healed, the swelling has gone, revealing the outline of the metal plate screwed to the bone on the inside of each leg. Yesterday, Earth Day, I took him for his first walk outside the boarders of the plaza in over a month. He had longingly looked down to the far stretching sidewalk all that time. When we turned to the sidewalk he was enthusiastic, walking strong and fast. I cinched his leash close to his harness, maintained an even drag above his shoulders, not his hindquarters, doing my best to keep up with him. At six minutes I stopped him to turn back. His power-walking changed to a head-slung stroll. He smelled each pole and tuft of weed on the return trip, which took a few minutes longer. He was happy when he returned and told the ladies in the office with his low-happy-growl. A few minutes passed, I noticed him licking his rear paws and ankle.Three or four times ( I forget the doctor's instruction ) a day he is supposed to walk. Each day adding a couple minutes to the length of the walk-time. Nice let me know he had done enough for his first day. I took him three more times toward the sidewalk at the edge of the plaza by the end of the day. Instead of pulling for the highway he has been longingly looking toward, he turned to lead me along the backside of the plaza. I'll pamper him while he builds his strength.





Sunday, April 21, 2013

A walk on Earth Day

Alone or with a friend. Embrace your world. Appreciate it's beauty, allow it in. A blade of grass, mountains, trees, wildlife singing. The world is not ours, we are part of it. Massage the world with your loving steps. Enjoy your world on Earth Day.



Quiet momentum

In the ending decade of the last century life was simple. For the love of it, my young son and I would roll the world to the nearby park to play. After a mile of pushing through narrow streets and sidewalks we would roll to the top of a hill, push the world over the edge, chase it down, roll it back up and do it again. All the children wanted to play. All the adults thought there must be some symbolic message behind a man and his son chasing the world down a hill then pushing it back up. Children would lay flat on the hill as the world rolled over, then help retrieve the world from the tree line at the bottom of the long sloping grass hill. The adults asked if we had walked across the country. Were we protesting mountaintop destruction by the coal industry, saving the trees from the lumber industry or were we doing this for whirled peas? The children would encircle the world and together drop the world over the edge, run down the length of the hill and all work together to bring the world back to the top. As the children played, the adults devised a world of issues to push against. None had the idea that we were simply walking, running, playing to be happy, and healthy. After all these years, all the miles and changes, it is still that simple...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Snow Birds and Lucky Ducks

Spring has come full-on to Central Florida. When I arrived here this Winter, the plaza, and the plaza adjoining this one, was busy and always full with autos from all-points-North. Each plaza had a sweepstakes Internet gaming cafe. Elderly Snowbirds flocked to these game rooms to spend their winter days and vacation coins. Then the State of Florida Legislature passed a law banning all sweepstakes gaming centers. Citing that these establishments were intentionally fixing the games to take advantage of their patrons, the bill forced them all to close. The cafe next door to this office, The Treasure Chest, closed two weeks before the Governor signed the bill into law. It was eye-opening to watch the old folks count the dollars from their wallets, as they walked to the locked door, determining how much they were going to wager against the odds (which were not in their favor). They would pull on the door handle and finally see the place was locked up tight. Most would pull again, and again, as they read the notice "...remember you forever" taped to the door.
The parking lot in front of the office became very empty. The cafe in the neighboring plaza, The Lucky Duck, remained open until the last moment. That parking area was full to capacity. Like a flock of water birds feeding at the the last pond before their Northern migration, they gathered. From the moment the doors opened until late at night they filled their need, and the pockets of the owners of the Lucky Duck.
The Duck closed two hours before the Governor signed the bill into law. The line of cars leaving the plaza that afternoon looked like a funeral procession, all eyes despaired from loss. Several days passed as both plazas saw the lingerers driving from plaza to plaza ,up and down the highway, searching for an open door. Within a few days that same highway was filled with motor homes, heading North.
Next winter they may discover a different activity.... Perhaps a walk along the edge of a pond, the gulf beaches or an old fashioned game of shuffle-board.
A pile of boxes appeared behind the Lucky Duck after they closed the doors. Among the trash was one small dusty rubber lucky duck with the prize winning numeral 500 marked on its underside. It must have somehow jumped out of the lucky duck pond. An honest mistake.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Spring Hill Rain

Because of this weeks events, the constant chatter on the news of senseless catastrophe, my morning walks to greet the sunrise have been my quiet time. Seldom do I see more than one or two others walking. A fire fighter on his morning run. The woman with the basket cart who uses tongs to fill plastic bags with garbage thrown from cars while she enjoys her morning walk. Or one of a few retirees who, like me, are greeting the day in motion. Each morning I have returned inspired from my walks to write something but news of Boston, West Texas, and other events worldwide have stalled my productivity.
Today is a new day. Rain fell and rinsed the dust away. A good night of sleep. A quiet morning routine. I have to learn how to focus amidst chatter, share a thought that's positive. Before the rush of another day threshes away the fruit of a quiet morning's stroll.


I was dealt a hand along the side of the road.
A dew covered playing card, a black jack.
A few steps away, a jack of diamonds.
I kept the hand and passed a card, face down.
"I'll hold", I said. "Still in the game." I chuckled to myself.
I held the cards as I walked.
"It would be silly to think this a sign", I thought.
Then a song bird perched on the diamond shaped sign a few steps ahead and began to sing.
Both silhouetted by the intense rays of the sun.
I couldn't read the sign for the bright glow around it.
I could hear the song.
Who believes in signs anyway?






Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sliced Bread on a Silver Platter

The guy who invented the bread slicer may have been a baker, alone and short handed one morning at the bakery when four little old ladies came in wanting a loaf of bread cut into slices. Tripping over his wife's rug loom on his way to the cutting board he dropped a loaf on the floor just before the loom fell on top, scoring evenly spaced cuts across the fallen bread. In his rush he leaves the mess and cuts up four loaves, slice by slice, for his customers who were all giving advice on how they would slice bread. While he sliced he was looking on the floor, at the ruined bread, the loom laying across it and the way the loom threads had cut the loaf. An accidental epiphany. A better bread slicer. All the elements were there, under his nose. What seemed at first to be a ruinous incident changed his world. The best thing since sliced bread!
As Nice (the dog) heals over the next two months after knee surgery, here at the office, I am wondering how we can keep the ball rolling and reach more people. The dog is not getting any younger. All the elements are here, right under my nose. I just need to invent a better way to slice this loaf.
Love yourself. Go walking. Take a friend.








Monday, April 15, 2013

No turning back

This morning I went for a walk. Didn't want to walk very far. The car wash is one mile distance from the office. "There and back.", I said to myself.
I began to daydream and walked past my goal. On to the stop light, around the corner, up that road, around another corner. I found myself back at the office two and a half hours later. My aches and pains didn't rear their ugly heads until I was just a few blocks from the plaza. A good change from my first trip around the "block".
I was listening to NPR and a report said that a study of persons over eighty years old who exercise strengthen their brain power. Walking makes us smarter...



Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sunday Sidewalk ramblings.

I walked for a few miles along the highway among the patches of wildflowers, past the county line where paved sidewalks turn to wide ditch. In the two months we have been here I had not yet walked this way. I had walked in all the other directions until the walkway ended or where there where too many sidewalks. The wide open ditch was a comfortable change from the hard concrete.
Thousands, in cars and trucks, have passed but little more than a dozen have I passed walking. Seven bicyclists, two of those were cross country travelers. From the bench in front of the office I have seen a few others. At night I have seen a number of teenagers walking to the Seven-Eleven. The day I sat across the road, just before the rain that brought us to the plaza, I talked to a retired couple who live at the RV Resort at the intersection; I see them walk everyday. I am sure (hopeful) more people than what I have seen use the pedestrian path. I have walked in some states for days without seeing a sidewalk or passed anyone walking on the side of the road. With so many miles of walkway I thought I would see more pedestrians.

This weekend marks two months since we found ourselves here in Spring Hill. since we first laid eyes on this little plaza. We had stopped across the road at a twist in the usually straight sidewalk. The wind had been blowing hard from the south for days. Pushing the world dozens of miles, against the wind, had slowly tapped my reserves. This day, the wind blew so hard I had to drop the guide pole attached to the lacings and lean hard against the world to keep it moving forward. I had to push using both arms. Knowing there was heavy rain coming, I had the gas station past the stoplight just ahead in mind to stop for the day. But I was too fatigued, I had to sit down and rest. While I was eating a piece of fruit, at the "crook" in the usually straight forward sidewalk, I looked over to see the plaza for the first time.
When I had recovered enough to walk a few hundred yards to the crossroad it began to rain. Too far to escape the impending deluge and get to the gas station, I had to run/roll across the busy highway to the shelter of this plaza. There was an overhang and a bench to wait out the rain. Half soaked, we were invited in by the ladies at the private office a few doors away from where we sat. The wind seemed to coax Nice and me where we needed to be.The walls, adorned with artwork of space views looking on a nearby planet, the Earth, our world. Coincidence? The ladies in the office towel dried Nice and fell in love with him instantly. For me, another story, it was a few minutes before they gave me permission to park the purple van outside in the parking lot. The women of the office warmed up to the dog so much they insisted that Nice sleep in the warm office. The rain didn't stop until the end of the next day. By the time the sun broke through we were all inextricably intertwined, unbeknown to any of us. Though he seemed healthy to that point
Nice began to limp during the following two days. We came back here to the plaza, to the sheltering arms of our new friends. There we found out Nice would need surgery. First a trip to the local veterinarian, then to the UF Small Animal Hospital revealed both his knees needed immediate surgery. The cost of the diagnosis from the two office visits had drained my finances. Before I even had a chance to worry how I could pay for the surgery Nice needed the ladies at the office and others began to gather support.
Many people rallied to help Nice. We got the word out through news coverage, local friends, support from the www, the hospital and businesses. All came quickly together to get Nice the operation. He is recovering nicely one month into his three month recovery time. Where we would have been without the shelter we found in this plaza is hard to imagine.
I don't know where I am going with this rambling post. I have been attempting to get out of this rut, out of this writing block. Like pressing against a hard wind, sometimes it is better for me to pause, smell the flowers and be silent.







Corner of the Block

Every time I take Nice (the dog) for his walks around the plaza we stop at the corner overlooking the highway. He raises his nose to the wind a strains on the leash. Then, with gentle coaxing from me, we turn back. The pace slows as we approach the office door, he hangs his head lower and lower. Then with a longing glance he looks to the corner of the parking lot and steps inside..
If I don't look in his eyes I can resist his sad eyed pleas.







Friday, April 12, 2013

Temporary block

Sometimes I have lots of time to think and little to put into words.
Give it time Erik, give it time...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Around the Block

I went walking today without Nice (the dog). He had his short stroll out to the grass by the road in front of the plaza and I'd given him his pills.. I had made my morning sweep of the parking lot for trash and cigarette ends. The girls had arrived, and once Nice had been given his morning affection, we put him in his pen. Knowing he was in good hands, I slipped out the rear door and headed for the sidewalk. My back ached and my knee was stinging from the start. After almost two miles the sciatica kicked pain down my left leg and my toes curled from tendinitis or arthritis. The only thing to do at that point was... Turn left, spread my toes, swing my hips like John Wayne and keep walking. It took another few miles to loosen up, but on the final stretch I was feeling better. None of my ailments will get better unless I stay active. It won't be long before I can walk again with Nice and the World to distract me from my "old man" complaints. For now it is just World Guy, on the block.



Monday, April 8, 2013

A call from a friend

I received message yesterday. My friend had been feeling down-in-the-dumps so I suggested he go for a walk. I thought it might help. He called during his walk and thanked me. He said he had not felt so good in a long time.
The C.D.C. released a report last summer. It said that walking is good for everyone. The new Pope walked to a nearby church, after his Papal Coronation, addressed a congregation of followers. The first of three points in his first homeily was to walk... I forgot the other two "legs" of the message...
If you have reservations about listening to me, my friends, or the Center for Disease Control, then maybe the Pope can be a source of inspiration.





Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Lazy Sunday

There is not much to say about a day of watching Nice (the dog) lay on the blanket. Occasionally he gets up, looks at the sunlit asphalt parking lot, then back at me before giving me a big sigh and lying down again. He is still on antibiotics but the drugs for pain and inflammation have been halted. This makes our short walks more of a tug-of-wills. For now we must continue to be still.
His check up date has been moved to May, 1st. Ten days later than the original date. The last week of April I can begin lengthening his walks each day. More time to heal and grow strong.



Saturday, April 6, 2013

By a String

At age fifty-one, I am too you young to stop playing. The four helium balloons I was given for my birthday were my source of entertainment throughout the day. Each balloon came with a long white ribbon. I knotted them to bundle the balloons, cut three off, then tied them end-to-end, making one long strand.
While sitting on the bench, waiting for the girls to arrive at the office, I made a game of reeling out the kite-like-ballon-bundle into the changing currents of wind that swirl to-and-fro under the ceiling of the plaza walkway. Never touch the ceiling. the ground or the front of the building was the rule. Letting the ribbon in and out as the balloons danced and twirled high and low. Occasionally I'd keep them from getting sucked up to the mansard porch roof-face or they would drift far enough out to be sucked into the vortex and spin for few a moments. Eventually they would escape the edie and drift calmly to the wall and bound by my face to the inside corner of the "L" shaped storefront.
One by one the balloons met their end. The first separated from the string floating first to the ceiling, then up, disappearing around the roof line. The second and third sliced holes by scraping on the ground when I was away. The last one was not going quietly. The wind grew strong at the end of the day . There are doors at the front and rear of the office. We had opened the rear door for a few minutes when I noticed a cross breeze. The force of the wind had blown the front door open and the forth balloon was wedged holding the heavy metal and glass door open. Even after having most of its contents pressed out it weaved and bobbed until this morning. It had loosened from the bench and lay in the puddle a few feet away. Just now it swirled up from the puddle, rose up and away over the rooftop, string and all.
I know there is no excuse for a grown man to play with balloons, or fly kites. It is not something a grown person should excuse themselves from either.
Have a fun weekend!







Thursday, April 4, 2013

Team Building

It seems most organizations representing a cause have annual walks where individuals and business leaders rally a team together, building enthusiasm for one morning stroll.
I propose building groups who join together for monthly, weekly, even daily strolls. Begin with a walk in your neighborhood. A neighbor may notice you walking with Jo from across the way, who decides to join in. Soon you may have a small group who are all walking monthly, weekly or everyday to build their own enthusiasm for that one day annual event. Others then may see your group and find it such a worthy thing they begin their own group that walk every evening, once a week or each month. Then others find out but can't fit a little daily exercise in and pledge to the neighborhood walkers for the worthy cause. Then one of those neighbor's brother's cousins hears about it but he lives too far away, and running the multi-national corporation takes up so much of his time that, he decides to give to his alma mater, whose research pioneer breakthrough remedies. It may not be the organization you began walking for but it could be your inspiration that starts the ball rolling. All from you walking out your door.

I could go on...
It may become a Movement-movement.

http://diabetes.ufl.edu/


The Day After.

My Birthday was yesterday. I was surprised with greeting cards and balloons, a box of World Guy business cards and sinfully delicious cupcakes from the local bakery, Cupcake Heaven. The cupcakes tasted like treats described in the Fairy Tale "Hansel an Gretel" prepared by the Witch of the Gingerbread House, I imagined myself as Hansel extending a slender stick through the bars of his cage to fool the old blind witch. I received well wishes all day from email, text, Facebook and phone. Crock pot meat sandwiches for lunch, minestrone for dinner along with ripe watermelon to rinse it all down left me full as a tick, as Hansel fattened for the oven. Birthdays are, thankfully, but once a year.
Early this morning I walked four miles to get my blood flowing. I survived another Happy Birthday!



Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Nice ...

He is doing fine. In nineteen days we go back up to Gainesville for his ex-rays to see how the bones are healing. He has no noticeable limp on one side or the other. When he stretches, both downward and forward, his motion is fluid and he doesn't seem to be in pain. I take him for very short walks five, or so, times a day on level ground. No stairs, no jumping, no playing, no running, no excitement. He has has a cushioned four-foot-square pen he stays in most of the time with the plastic cone ( cone of shame ) around his neck. The cone is to keep him from licking the wounds. This keeps them dry and to prevent infection. He gets to sit next to the girls in the office for short periods, cone less, for attention and his daily allotment of love. He has pain, anti- inflammatory and anti-biotic medications he is given throughout the day and night, with food. He has never been one to eat so many times a day so I have been plying him with chicken and ham chunks that also hide the pills. He has become wise to to this ploy and is beginning to turn away from the treats I uncharacteristically hand feed him at all hours of the day and night..
His hair is growing back from when he was shaved for the surgery. Some people say a dog and his human tend to look alike. I have a bald head, but this is taking that theory a bit too far.
Of all the places for Nice to heal and be cared for, this small office, the loving women during the day, the quiet grounds around this small plaza; I cannot think of a better place.



Monday, April 1, 2013

I've been trying to be still. Having the thought, " let me check the time to see how long I can "just be" before my mind wonders off on some tangent." The next thing I do, after checking the time, is decide to start a blog post without any particular subject.
Being still seems so easy....