Wilton Manors Spirit Vigil for Teen Suicides or Political Rally?

This is NOT a political advertisement.
This has NOT been paid for by any candidate.
This IS a personal opinion, and expresses my feelings that people who were bullied and harassed to death should NOT be used for purposes as offensive as this.



Last night I went to the Teen Suicide vigil in front of the Alibi.  It was promising to be a time for people to vent their frustration that so many Teens and Adults feel that the only way to escape the torture of being bullied and harassed for being different was to take the final solution and step into the long night.

Like anything in Wilton Manors, things are somewhat different here.  There was your usual contingent of people with Purple hair, although since this was Wear Purple Day to support those who need to know they’re not alone, there were more out there and there was a good reason to do it.

The Vigil began at 7pm with the Gay American Heroes Foundation beginning to give a talk on the many people around this country who paid the ultimate price for being different.  It was not just gay teens that were remembered, it was straight kids who were merely different, and perceived as being an object to pick on.

There was problem of the curious choice of opening speaker – the current Mayor, Gary Resnick.  Mr. Resnick has just done his own bit of bullying by visiting the home of 70-something Diane Cline.  It seems that Mr Resnick’s own political campaign is going so badly that he has to visit a frail old woman and bully her by accusing her of stealing his yard signs.  If you want to chose someone to represent what a bully actually is, our current Mayor is an excellent choice.   He learned at the hands of his tormentors.   Mr Resnick gave an approximately 10 minute talk about how difficult it was to be a gay teen and how he hid in the closet and did not come out until he was 27.  Then he followed by recounting the story of his male partner’s failed marriage to a woman done so that he could cover.

Perhaps he should have listened more carefully to his own story because after that he completely forgot all he said and turned it political.  He said that he thought he should continue to be mayor in Wilton Manors because of this experience.  What he in fact did at this point was to dance on the graves of each of these teens by offensively twisting the vigil to his own needs.

Mr Gary Resnick – Unsuitable for Public Office.

This was followed by some brief talks by others and the introduction of “Former (Temporary Interim) Commissioner Julie Carson”.  Julie Carson took the stage and launched into a diatribe of what she thought were her strengths, what she thought she should be able to do in office that she is running for again, and why she thought you should vote for her.   It seems that she wants to be elected the Commissioner for the Lesbian community in Wilton Manors.   Unless I miss my guess, Julie, there is no such office.   Wilton Manors is more than 50% Heterosexual.  Assuming that Kinsey is right, that would mean that another 40% are Gay or Bisexual Men.  You really don’t want the rest of our support and you do not deserve it.  This is a DIVERSE city.  We ALL work together to make it better, not just ONE GROUP!

After Julie Carson gave that tirade and whipped her fans into a frenzy and offended the rest of us she gave short shrift to the purpose of the Vigil.   In no more than two sentences she returned to the subject of Teen Suicide and moved on.   It was an obvious afterthought.

Mrs Julie Carson – Unsuitable for Public Office.

This was NOT a political Rally.  Both Julie Carson and Gary Resnick hijacking the vigil for their own sad political stunts was an offense to every person in need.   It was an offense to the thinking person that these two shallow people would be elected to office.  Gary Resnick has presided over a City Commission as mayor for two years of inaction, sluggish response, and bad decision making.   The energy of the decision making process on the City Commission has moved from being that of the Mayor leading the Commission to the Commission clearly leading the Mayor.   The position of Mayor is a leadership position and Gary Resnick Does Not Know How To Lead.

There also is the story of how Julie Carson had her term on the Commission back a while ago and was a complete mess.   She felt that it was appropriate to micromanage every individual that came before her and at one point proceeded to shred the City Attorney in questioning.   The end result was almost every time that she was speaking we were treated to a rant of circular logic that would confuse even an Einstein.  When through she was patted on the head figuratively and they merely moved on.   This woman was a distraction that most thinking people involved were happy to see move on her way.

For those reasons and more, I am thoroughly ashamed that Julie Carson is involved in City Politics.  

I strongly recommend that you take Mrs Carson’s advise – learn about her competition, as well as the competition for the Mayor’s race against Mr Resnick.   In both cases you will find people who are highly competent and ready to lead.  They also are not going to use the suicides of others as a political talking point to further their own questionable career.

I am deeply embarrassed for the city and for anyone involved in that offense that happened in the parking lot.   I was so offended by the actions of Mrs Carson and Mr Resnick that I had to leave early. 

Make sure this doesn’t happen again and vote for
Joe Angelo for Mayor and Celeste Ellich for City Commission of Wilton Manors.

This is NOT a political advertisement.
This has NOT been paid for by any candidate.
This IS a personal opinion, and expresses my feelings that people who were bullied and harassed to death should NOT be used for purposes as offensive as this.

I’ll be Wearing Purple Today

In support of every person who has ever gotten picked on, every child who is bullied in a school yard for being different, no matter what that difference was,  I will be wearing Purple.

It isn’t just the spate of gay teens that had had enough of being bullied every day by people that think it was acceptable because a sick and twisted version of a “religion” has told them it is right to pummel them every day when school lets out.  It just isn’t right that it happens, ever. 

Being bullied is not a character building exercise.  It is violence.  It leads a child who should be brought up to strive to be the next Einstein to underachieve or to even take their lives because people around them didn’t care enough to notice that something went wrong. 

It is not normal to be taunted because you are of a “different” religion.
It is not normal to be beat up after school because you have different hair color.
It is not normal to be harmed because you are not in the in crowd because of some sick and twisted arbitrary standard.

It will get better, trust me.

I had went to a Catholic High School.  The place had a tradition of hazing by upperclassmen upon the freshmen when they got in.  It was well known by the school hierarchy of teachers and counselors and ignored.  I watched each of my friends and co-classmen get picked on by a motley crew of some pretty underachieving students.   They got to me in Sophomore year.  I had my own problems and didn’t need that.

I also stopped that tradition, personally. 

One of the ring leaders decided that one day he’d hassle me on the way to class.   It was right before the Christmas Break and it occurred to me that he didn’t have the right.   I got through that and went to class and had two weeks to think about it.  He was short, fat and not that good looking and felt he could take it out on everyone else.   Typical for someone like that – in a dog it is called Fear Aggression, the common displacement of your own inadequacies on others.

Two weeks later, I met the same dumpy little guy and had had quite enough.  He started by slowing me down by grabbing the jacket that I had to wear as a part of going to this hallowed institution.  They should have paid more attention to the character of the students than what they wore, but that is typical of most institutions of that sort. 

What Mr Short and Dumpy didn’t realize was that I had my growth spurt.  Over the two weeks of the christmas holiday, I grew 2 inches in height.  Somehow, subconsciously I realized this and subconsciously I knew I had more power than before.  

He hung on by my jacket and I stopped.   In front of an open locker, I turned around grabbed him by the shoulders and slammed him inside and locked him in.  The rest of the wolf pack scattered.

Going to Homeroom, the word went around and everyone was silent, including the teacher.  They all knew what happened. 

Over the intercom, the Dean of Students read a list of two names, Mine and the Bully.

When at the Dean’s office I was asked Two Simple Questions:
Did You Do It? “Yes”
Would You Do It Again? “Absolutely”

Thank you, you can go back to class.

He got two weeks of detention.

I went on to single handedly break the tradition of hazing in Camden Catholic High School of Cherry Hill NJ.

So you see if you’re being bullied and think you’re alone, you are not.   People notice.  Once in a while that kid who is being picked will make a difference and make things better.   You will get through it.  

Even if you are in a backwater of a town where you’re the only one – what ever that is, you will get through it.  You will realize that it isn’t YOUR problem, it is Theirs.  Once you’re out of school you can make up your own mind whether you really need to stay in such a place.  After all the big cities are typically much more openminded since they have to be.  Join a crowd and no matter what your difference, you will find someone just like you.   If the town only has 1600 people, it is easier to stick out.

I hear that today’s schools have a zero tolerance policy in effect toward bullying in many places.  It is very different than when I went through that particular hell that was Camden Catholic High School and left my own stamp on their society.  Even with Diversity training, Teachers are not perfect.  Most are underpaid and undermotivated.  There were a few at CCHS that were shining examples of the philosophy of what a Teacher should strive to be, it wasn’t ALL bad even if at times it felt it was.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the suicide of the Gay people across the country for various kinds of bullying.  The videotaping of the guy at Rutgers was offensive in many ways.   There are people who will be bullied tomorrow, but at least now it is in everyone’s mind to try to stop it.

It won’t stop but there is no reason why it should be so bad that someone will feel the need to kill themselves.

You will get through it.  I did. 

Don’t go silently though – make sure that people who say they care about you know what you are going through.  Going through things alone will only make things harder to deal with.

October Mornings are Made For Disco

It is a beautiful day here.  After the dog walk, I threw open the windows and started on the routine of the day.  Once the house quieted down, it got too quiet so I put on Diva Disco for a bit.

The neighborhood hadn’t quite decided to start making the normal sounds of small engines, lawn tools, and the occasional truck.  Not that it has conscious control over it, but all was fairly quiet. 

As things woke up, I inched the radio louder, into the Parrot Zone.   I have an Orange Wing Amazon that I share this house with.  I have had him since 1986 so he’s old enough to vote but since he doesn’t have opposable thumbs that won’t happen.  He’s my hearing protector.  When the radio is too loud, he starts chattering at it.  Really crank that radio up to blow out the windows and Oscar is screaming.

Oscar can be a grouch you see…

I have learned just where to keep the volume so that Oscar’s quiet, the music is reasonable, and I’m not disturbing the neighbors.  After all, it’s after 9 in the morning so we’re all up.

Walking from room to room, the music just barely loud enough to hear in the laundry via the open windows on the car port and the small door in the laundry, I’m listening to a track as I gather the wash from the racket that the dryer is making.

Padding out into the main part of the house, I get a clear view of the street as I am heading out to the bedroom to lay things out on the bed to allow them to relax.  The breezes of the South Florida Morning are cool to the touch on my arms while I smooth things out. 

I put away the socks and some of the other clothes that don’t need to be folded, and begin to walk out to the living room.   The track was still playing, Harry Thumann – Underwater.  If you haven’t heard it, its one of those Late Disco Era songs that has a lush enough sound bed that you could practically walk on the percussion as it skips across the pond of the still morning air like a stone.  Can you tell I liked it?

Apparently so did someone else because as the music swelled, and I went back out into the front room, I looked outside.  There was someone out in my swale, with his dog, bobbing his head to the beat of my music.

Ok, Oscar wasn’t chattering, but this dude was doing the disco dance at 9 in the morning on the street in front of his house as he picked up after his dog.  I was smiling as I walked up to the front window and just watched him bounce around lightly to the Disco Beat.  Once a DJ, Always a DJ I guess…

He spotted me, waved and smiled, and went on his way.  I walked back to the big green chair with a laugh and turned the music down just a little bit.

Oh wait, Alec R Constandinos is on Diva… let me turn this just a little louder…  Shaddap Oscar!  I’ll turn it down!!!

Friendly Pitbulls Do Exist

It is my fervent hope that anyone who mistreats a dog comes back in a future life as a dog and gets exactly the same treatment.  Karma.

When I moved here I had some very common misconceptions.  I remember walking to the train home through a rather questionable neighborhood and watched a Pit Bull trot down the street toward the “abandoned area” on the wrong side of the tracks.  She was clearly post-partum, covered with hundreds of ticks, and was getting ready to go back to her pups and nurse them.   Stray dogs in the city have a hard life.   Stray Pit Bulls in Philadelphia are almost immediately “put to sleep”.  Needless to say I kept my phone in my pocket.  Whether that was the right thing to do or not, I am not sure.

Every home should be a caring home.  That is true for Dogs, Cats, and People.  Love really does make a family, and if Heather has two mommies, it is clearly none of your business as long as Heather is Happy.  No matter what Heather is.

I moved here and for a while I had heard horror stories.  I no longer consider leaving the dog in the car while I dash in to get a quart of milk.  People hijack your friend and do horrific things.  I was warned never to do something that I rarely did up North.

Here there are people who have pitbulls as a fashion accessory just like they do anywhere else.  Those are the people who should be chained in a yard in my own mind, but I’m sure that won’t happen.  There are many of those fashion accessories that escape and end up in another home. 

Anabelle is one of them.  She was lucky enough to have walked past my Godmother and her husband at a festival quite a few years back.   Anabelle had signs of having been a breeder dog and smacked around quite a bit.   This dog is probably one of the sweetest animals I’ve ever met.  She sees me and tries to climb into my Jeep when I leave, parks next to me on the couch and lays down so I can pet her for as long as SHE wants.   My hand is cropped out of the picture but it was happily employed in making her happy.

After that, across the street moved in Baby Girl.  She’s another Red Nose Pit that had clearly been in more than one fight.   There are bite marks that were on her head that are visible to this day.  She was found wandering the street in Hollywood, FL and adopted by Lisa and Billy across the street.  I was … scared.  A Pit Bull Across The Street (Cue dramatic music!).  I finally allowed my fear to calm and this fat little dog waddled across the driveway and proceeded to fiercely lick my shin, scarily wag her tail, and snort fearful amounts of happy noises at me. 

I was clearly in the throes of another one of those mental adjustment moments that adults with preconceptions go through.

I
Was
Wrong.

To this day, I’m quite happy to have this pink and blond love sponge across the street.   She teaches me about how those who are not human can be humane – or more humane than those who are expected to be.  When I visit Anabelle, I remind my Godmother that she will never have to worry about her dog because if anything happens, Lettie gets a friend.  Lettie won’t like that but … tough.

The hardest part about that particular dog will be teaching Anabelle not to get on the couch.

She’s happy and healthy and so are both dog’s owners.  I won’t have to worry about adopting a second dog for quite a while.

That will keep Lettie, in turn, quite happy herself.

I Entertain a Border Collie

Yet another Border Collie Post?  Yes, because people seem to like to read about them.  The last two days were brought up because a friend here lost his Chihuahua Gordita.  Something about this big gruff man’s feelings about his little bitty dog that I had never met brought forth a bunch of memories.

Bunch, yes, it is a technical term.  Like Gobs, or oodles. 

But you see, I am being watched.  Every hour while I am home I have two brown eyes peering at me when they’re not closed in sleep.   They are closed in sleep frequently, and sometimes I can even get up out of the chair if I am quiet enough when she’s snoring, and leave the room.   If that happens, a Perimeter search results and every room is checked to see who is where, if anyone escaped, and whether they’re out back or in the front yard.  The windows in the house are just high enough that she can see out if she stretches to look, so there are few places on the property anyone can be without being noticed.

Today having awoken at 430 AM for some insane reason and not being able to get to sleep, I finally got up and went about my business.   By the time we had left for the dog walk, I had roasted a batch of coffee, cleaned the sink, started a laundry and got dressed for the morning chill.  Yes, in Florida 65F is chilly.  Deal.

Coming home I went into the kitchen, ground the first batch and roasted more, made a small breakfast, and nibbled a few cookies that were out in the kitchen.  The entire time I had brown eyes staring at me.  Every time I left the room, I was followed by a mostly black dog.  I’d stop for more than a few seconds and she’d curl up and stare at me from the ground.  If I move out of sight for more than a few seconds, she stretches out and moves to follow, repeating the process.   With a moan.   Mooooo.

Working from home provides her with a lot of entertainment.   I move around in a regular fashion and at set times.   She knows the schedule very well.   The blog is written on a laptop and if I sit down and immediately grab the machine she will curl up and stare until she goes to sleep.   If I don’t grab the laptop she comes over for some petting and comforting.  The key is leaving the laptop on the coffee table until she’s gotten her petting and finds it weird.

If you didn’t know that a dog could find petting weird, you don’t know my dog.   She has a certain amount of attention she likes to get.  Once she’s reached that point she would rather go back on security watch and curl up.  More like a Cat at times, she is highly independent.  It is as if she’s saying, Fine I Get It Ok Now Let Me Do My Job!

When she’s at that particular wall, I start to get a low grumble that turns into full bore growling and sneering.  Usually I merely touch her nose and tell her “Put that nose down you grumpy mutt”.   No change with that, I grab the laptop and be on with my normal routine until the next time I get up and have to repeat.

They do like their routines.

So wonderfully predictable, we just did the same dance.  Since today is Saturday when I wrote this, I’m doing laundry.  The washer was done, on the wrong cycle, and that got me into the laundry and the kitchen.   She eventually followed me out of the laundry into the kitchen to finish off the last coffee roasting.  The usual comment is “Why is everybody in the kitchen?”.  The Parrot was squawking at the coffee roaster slash popcorn popper, Kevin followed me in there for breakfast and the dog plopped herself at Her Spot in front of the refrigerator staring at me.

Routines can be a wonderful thing for people as well.  Now that she’s back on her mat with a “Mooooo” and I’m finishing this posting…

Lather, Rinse, Repeat?

From the Over 40 Crowd

I got this from Scott up North.  Nothing like reading your email in the morning with coffee in hand – it changes your perspective!  As one of those kids who played inside listening to the shortwave on a tube radio I found this amusing.  I caught myself looking at each one of those points and saying “yep! Did that!…”

All except the shoplifting.  There were better ways of getting music even back in the dark old days of Vinyl!

If you are 35, or older, you might think this is hilarious! 

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning…. Uphill… Barefoot…BOTH ways… yadda, yadda, yadda

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they’ve got it! 

But now that I’m over the ripe old age of thirty-five, I can’t help but look around and notice the youth of today.  You’ve got it so easy!  I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia! 
And I hate to say it, but you kids today, you don’t know how good you’ve got it!

I mean, when I was a kid we didn’t have the Internet.  If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!! 

There was no email!!  We had to actually write somebody a letter – with a pen!   Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take like a week to get there!  Stamps were 10 cents!

Child Protective Services didn’t care if our parents beat us.  As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our ass! Nowhere was safe!

There were no MP3’s or Napsters or iTunes!  If you wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the record store and shoplift it yourself!

Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up!  There were no CD players!  We had tape decks in our car.  We’d play our favorite tape and “eject” it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless.  Cause, hey, that’s how we rolled, Baby!  Dig?

We didn’t have fancy crap like Call Waiting!  If you were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal, that’s it!

There weren’t any freakin’ cell phones either. If you left the house, you just didn’t make a damn call or receive one. You actually had to be out of touch with your “friends”. OH MY GOD !!!  Think of the horror… not being in touch with someone 24/7!!!  And then there’s TEXTING.  Yeah, right.  Please!  You kids have no idea how annoying you are.

And we didn’t have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was!  It could be your school, your parents, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, the collection agent… you just didn’t know!!!  You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

We didn’t have any fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics!  We had the Atari 2600!  With games like ‘Space Invaders’ and ‘Asteroids’.  Your screen guy was a little square!  You actually had to use your imagination!!!  And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen… Forever!  And you could never win.  The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died!  Just like LIFE!

You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! You were screwed when it came to channel surfing!  You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel!!!  NO REMOTES!!!  Oh, no, what’s the world coming to?!?!

There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning.  Do you hear what I’m saying? We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-finks!

And we didn’t have microwaves.  If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove!  Imagine that!   

And our parents told us to stay outside and play… all day long.  Oh, no, no electronics to soothe and comfort.  And if you came back inside… you were doing chores! 
And car seats – oh, please!   Mom threw you in the back seat and you hung on.  If you were lucky, you got the “safety arm” across the chest at the last moment if she had to stop suddenly, and if your head hit the dashboard, well that was your fault for calling “shot gun” in the first place! 
See!  That’s exactly what I’m talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You’re spoiled rotten!  You guys wouldn’t have lasted five minutes back in 1970 or any time before!

Regards,
The Over 40 Crowd 
(Send this to someone you’d like to make smile)

Border Collie is my Co-Pilot

All the cliche’s are right.   Adopt a Shelter Dog, you will find a friend for life.

I will say, Adopt a Shelter Dog, they may save your life.

Before I moved to South Florida, I was, sigh, a snowbird.  I’d look forward to the yearly trip to South Florida in February.   February in Philadelphia is the dismal dark bowels of winter.  I don’t care how beautiful a blanket of snow can be, after three months of it, I want it gone.

I’d load up the Jeep and all my gear that I thought I needed and come on down.  One year I was fortunate enough to find a place that was “Dog Friendly” so I drove down with my faithful sidekick along.  Lettie is a better driving companion than pretty much every human I’ve ever driven with.

Sorry folks, the T Shirt was right as far as being in a car is concerned – the more time I spend with people the more I like my dog.  At least in that cramped Jeep Wrangler.   Cramped for me, she was luxuriously able to curl up into a dog ball and sleep.

The trip from Philly to Wilton Manors was 1206 miles, exactly.  I’d stop somewhere as far South as I could get.  The midpoint is Florence, SC, but the further I’d get the better I’d be the next day… so I’d push myself.  The last couple trips I took got me as far as St Mary’s just on the GA side of the border north of Jacksonville.  Starting at 2AM got me past all the big cities in the morning without a hitch and would stretch the day, but it meant that I’d be a zombie until the sun came up south of Washington.

Reading all of that I’m thinking what a fool…

By the time you get to South Carolina, the road is long, straight, and boring.   The North Half of the state is a swamp save Florence, and I found that by the time I got to Lake Marion I needed out of that Jeep.   Every hour or two, I’d stop, Lettie would want OUT and we would both stretch our legs.  It would stretch the inevitable need for a final stop of the night but we had a rhythm. 

Being an athlete, I’m familiar with Hitting The Wall.  Your body says you need rest.   In this case, mid afternoon, 12 hours after starting this marathon.  In South Carolina you start to drift.  White Line Fever. 

Lettie knows me better than just about any human being out there.   It was in South Carolina where she started to pay attention to me.   I felt the wet nose on my right arm that was resting on the shift knob and would comfort her for a while and she’d be happy to curl back into her dog ball.  Subconsciously I would make a mental note to hit the next rest stop and stretch our six legs.

I guess her sleep and relaxation rubbed off.  More like the 700 or 800 miles of road but I began to fall asleep at the wheel.   She realized what was happening from the rhythm of what was going on and I awoke to a violent head butting that right arm.  Now, Fully Awake, I realized I’m done.   This particular trip, Done was in Darien GA where I stopped for the night. 

My furry angel saved me from my own stupidity.   We went into the little room and after the adrenalin rush of driving ended, we both went to sleep.

So what have I learned after 8 years of being with her?  Stop driving like that first off – you just don’t need to punish yourself to get on a vacation that you may not survive the first day.   Second, Trust in Dog, Dog Knows Best.  Third, get your silly butt out of that Jeep once an hour and consider stopping in a shorter time. 

I haven’t driven out of Florida since I got here in 2006.  I don’t expect to leave Florida before 2011 on any vacations, and the next trip I will take will most likely be Key West, a gentle 190 miles away.  Sleep won’t be a problem, in fact if the weather is right, I’ll do it topless.  

Hopefully I’ll have my co-pilot.  See, she knows me better than I know myself… there’s this time where she saved my life….

I live in a place where I can make my own backgrounds

“You live in a place that looks like the background on the PC”.

Interesting comment right?   Well I do.  Actually I caught myself doing this sort of thing for a while.   I take a lot of pictures as anyone who has looked at this blog has noticed, and I just drop all the blog pics into a folder on the laptop and let Windows 7 change them every 10 minutes or so.   I never see the background anyway since it is always covered up by all sorts of things, but I like knowing they are there.

Who said it?   My cousin from Nebraska.  I had never actually met the guy before, and he came here for his first ever visit to South Florida.   At 830PM, we had been chatting for about 2 hours, and I flipped the switches to all the pool lights and up spots and we went outside.   He got real animated and looked at my hedges and the orchid in bloom on the shed (its actually resting between flower spikes) and was like a kid in a candy store.

My cousin is a farmer who just sold the farm and is looking around the country for the first time and liked what he sees here.  I took him for a walk with the dog around town and every Palm tree we passed, every shefflerra that towered over the apartment building and said things like “That’s a house plant back home”.  

I promised him two meyer lemons off my little tree in a pot so he can try to grow them from seed.   It’s mindbending to someone from out of town just how lush things can be.  Of course all those plants are not native species, and we’re not in a natural environment.   We get around 50 inches of rain in around 6 months.  Six Months of Flood, Six Months of Drought I have heard it called.   It makes for an interesting natural landscape, and when someone from “up North” can show you what you have, no matter how much you appreciate it, it is always a welcome eye opener.

I think I’ll toss some lemon seeds back in the hedges and let them fight it out with the bamboo… and why not? since the neighbor behind me has a Papaya Grove in the yard!

Border Collies can be Lousy Watch Dogs

 In Animal Shelters, the Border Collie is the number one breed for being a boomerang dog – a dog that returns to the shelter.

It isn’t because they’re dumb, it could be because they’re so smart.  To successfully have a Border Collie that doesn’t bark incessantly or get into destructive behavior, you will need to keep them exercised or entertained.  There are breeders that will simply refuse to sell a Border Collie to a “family home”. 

You know, 2.3 Kids, Minivan, living in the suburbs… that sort of thing. 

When I drove from my home in Philadelphia to the Angel Pet Rescue, I was told by Megs, the owner, to make sure you walk her as much as you can stand.  Three times a day.  I lost 5 pounds by the end of the second month.   I was also told that Border Collies require a “Soft Hand”.  I don’t believe in hitting a dog, but trust me there were times I was frustrated in those beginning months and was thinking Ritalin may be an option.

We got through the teething pains of her trying to herd me when there was a Golden Retriever a block and a half away out of her own fear, and psychotic Welsh Corgi Owners and terribly trained dogs – that’s a blog posting in itself.   She’s probably the best trained fearful dog on the island.

How could you not love that face?

There’s the problem.  Everyone else does too.  Show this particular Border Collie a little attention and you have a friend for life.  Not really a problem, more like a quirk.  A Big Personality on an island of Big Personalities, she’s an amazing judge of characters.

When I first got her, she was terrified of other dogs, buses, motorcycles, and people who looked different.  Broadly, she was a fearful dog.   I would take her down to Germantown Avenue at the corner of Highland near the house and we’d stand there watching life go by from Kilians Hardware’s Bench.   She learned to calm down and appreciate people petting her. 

Now she enjoys it so much that she thinks she should have attention wherever she goes. 

Being a Border Collie, one plus one equals three.  We walk past the bars and the Shoppes of Wilton Manors at least twice a day, normally three times a day.  It is the 800 pound gorilla in Wilton Manors Central Neighborhood.  You live here, you work with or around that shopping center and the Wilton Drive Central Business District.    For a Border Collie who has learned that people will treat her well, this is great mental stimulation… she loves her walks!

One particular shop in the Shoppes, a clothes store, has a particular worker who loves Mrs Dog.  He goes over to the window making faces and tapping the window and she goes over and sniffs and smiles and enjoys the attention and walks off.  She’s been in the store and loves the attention too.   Canine Ambassador for Wilton Manors to the Snowbirds.   This all usually happens late at night. 

This morning, I awoke to a sinus headache at 5am.  I faked being asleep until around 530 a “Pixel storm” floated past… Reaching over, I realized that to stay dry, we had to walk early.  Nobody was around.  Officer Chadwick was off being the Cop’s Cop and I didn’t see him, the Baker at Humpy’s Pizza was just getting in, I was before all the usual dog walkers – and yes, it is that predictable here.

You can set your walk by who goes past certain corners at certain times.  People are predictable as any Law Enforcement Officer will tell you.

But not my dog.   Since we usually see the guy in the clothes store at night, she thought she’d see him this morning.  After all, it was dark, right?   Dog Logic.  One plus One is Three.

When we got to his door where she’d usually be greeted by the tapping of a frenetic man, she stopped and smiled.   Sniffing the air she simply didn’t want to go.  She missed her friend.  

My talking to her and telling her “No, Lettie, he’s not there yet, it’s too early” broke the spell.   She smiled at me then walked off to greet the baker at Humpys who enjoyed watching the whole scene.

If you’re considering a Border Collie, you are in for a treat.  They are amazing dogs, and they will test you.  But if you bond with the dog, you will have a constant companion.  

Now I’m going to go off to the kitchen, make another mug of coffee and watch her glue herself to my leg….

Sunshine and Palm Trees

My sister, Pat, sent me an email.  It was one of those OMG messages that when you live in one place and your sender lives in another will put out and say “Did you know this happened in your own State?”

Sure it did, and It was a 12 foot Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake being captured by the police.   The St Johns County PD.  I’m in Broward County.  There are Rattlesnakes here too.  St John’s County is 300 miles away.  St Augustine Florida.  Very pretty place, and quite well heeled.

Not to point too much at Pat, sorry sis…, it was just convenient that you wrote me today.  I don’t really like snakes either especially when they sneak in through the back door and freak out the dog.

Before I left Pennsylvania I got a lot of questions why I wanted to move here.   Check the picture out, you won’t get that in the beautiful neighborhood of Chestnut Hill Philadelphia that I had left.  How about Hurricanes?  Yep, we get them here.  Wilma trashed Broward County’s electrical infrastructure and 4 years later, FPL has more surges and pops than a menopausal woman.  I moved here in 2006, a year after that bizarre year that saw Katrina ruin a one of a kind New Orleans, Wilma park over top of Broward and Palm Beach counties and cause damage that the area is still repairing, and Rita pay a visit to the Bayou country west of Nawlins. 

I really loved Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia, but yes, still I moved.   South Florida has been in my system since I was 10 years old, riding across the Tamiami Trail in the back of that Buick Limited entertaining my Aunt, Uncle, Mom and Dad, Sister and Cousin at 80 MPH.  Or at least that’s my memory.  I started coming back in college and knew that this was where I belong.  I’m here, much to the chagrin of a few, much to the pleasure of vastly more people.  You can’t please everyone, and you can always avoid those unpleasant folks who you don’t… or you can try!

So as I look out the front window at the clouds that Paula has created and spilled over this area, the palm fronds gently swaying in the breezes, the wild parrots screaming outside over top of the Disco that’s playing on the squeezebox across the room, I smile and think… Maybe that’s why.

It’s October.  I’m in shorts and a T Shirt.  I’m sitting in a big green chair that I can watch the sunsets paint the skies bright orange and red fading to mauve and black.  I can spot the neighbor’s Bird of Paradise and bright red bougainvillea

Wait until February.  When you’re cold up there, so will I be.  It may even drop down into the 50s.

Brrrrr!