If You Are Walking Your Dog In A Traffic Lane, You Are Doing It Wrong

Walking the dog early is usually the easiest lap around town. 

I wander out to Wilton Drive simply because there is just enough activity at 5AM to keep the dog on his toes.  Being very fearful of loud noises, having silence is not beneficial.  I actually look for a little bit of noise, just the right level, so that he will calm down.

He’s getting better, and starting to relax.  It’s 5AM, what else is up at that hour?

I was not paying too much attention to my surroundings other than to ask Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) whether he needed to “Go Poop?” over and over in a mantra. 

He didn’t.  Instead he gave his tail more than the usual four flips when I talk to him.  When the wagging didn’t stop but got more constant and more vigorous, I looked up and noticed about a long block away there was another dog.

Actually there were two little balls of fluff, one white, one black.  They were being walked by someone who was walking this way.

When he spotted me, he walked out into the traffic lane to give me more room than he really needed to.

Basically, if your dog is so untrained that you need to walk into a mostly deserted five lane highway, it is you that need to be trained.

I kept walking toward them.  Rack’s tail stopped wagging and dropped some.  He recognized the signs as

well.  Someone needed an education.

We both watched the two dogs and the owner as we got closer.  The owner was head down and picking up the noisier of the two dogs, an unstable little black bedroom slipper of a dog.  He was talking to the dog in low and gentle tones and picking it up.

I could see the other white dog backing away from the drama as if to say “Hey, this isn’t me!”.  It watched us dispassionately and even sat down.  The white dog was much more balanced, and even calm in this situation.

So what was the owner saying to the little black dog? 

Primarily he was feeding into the misbehavior.  Clearly the owner wanted the barking and the nonsense to stop.  He never hit that dog, and hitting a dog is both cruel and useless behavior, but nonetheless the dog was being mistreated.

Why “Mistreated”?  Because the owner was buying into the unwanted behavior by caressing the dog.  Instead of giving the dog a verbal correction when he saw the behavior start, he was feeding into the circular logic of the situation by picking up the lap dog and “comforting it”.  What he was doing to the dog was approving the behavior by giving it the attention it craved since lap dogs want to be handled. 

Different breeds have different personalities.  Certain dogs need to be handled, others to have a job, others to guard.  It’s all in understanding that personality and working with it and conversing with the dog in that context to make certain that behaviors are amplified only when they are beneficial to the dog’s well being.

Two dogs and a human in a traffic lane at 5:20 in the morning just to quiet a yapper down proves that the owner clearly was not in charge and not leading the pack.

At least the owner was taking the dog out for a walk, and for the size of the dogs it was going to be a significant one.  Little frou-frou yappers out on that particular spot of a commercial street were going to get more than a quarter mile walk even if he turned them around in frustration.

The best thing he could have done was to check himself.  He was clearly tense.  Shoulders were solid, back rigid as he bent down to talk to the dog – pointing himself backwards in an admittedly unused traffic lane. 

We passed.  The little white dog watched us pass but nothing really happened there, it was content.

The black dog was continuing its stamp of disapproval on its owner by growling and barking in mid air.

At that time of the morning the solution in my mind was simply to keep moving.  We never broke stride

even as we both watched the situation closely.  Rack was riveted on it as well.

I can only hope that this is a new dog owner.  I can say that it’s clearly too much for the owner.  Then again, some people shouldn’t have a picture of a stuffed animal let alone a dog.

So what’s wrong here? 

No rules – the dogs were on a 10 foot leash together and allowed to roam without direction or guidance all over the broadest part of the sidewalk. 

No boundaries and limitations – instead of being kept close to the owner where they would not be getting into trouble, they were given the freedom to wander all over the place. 

No, I’m not repeating myself.  The roaming in this case is that instead of merely being at the front of the leash it was in all directions, and the owner was not bringing the dogs back to task.  Ideally the dog should be at your side with a slack leash.  If you are at that point, the leash is merely a legal limitation, it probably can be off leash for a while, but it is best not to do so. 

If the leash is not slack, at least make certain it is not being pulled by an overeager dog.  That takes time, and it also shows how well the conversation between owner and dog is going.  If the leash is directly in front but pulled tight, it shows the dog knows where it is going.  That isn’t ideal, but it is markedly better than having a dog weaving all over the place.  A weaver of a dog like that and you are lost.

You really can read the leash of another dog and its owner to know how well trained the dog is.

When you find yourself in that situation where you have multiple dogs with some or all acting up, it’s time to reverse and regroup yourself and do something different.  Rehoming one or more is a possibility, but first try to keep the house together and walk the dogs separately.  Work with each.  After all, you have more than one walk a day, so make the quietest dog walk environment the walk where the pack is together, the busier one would be the separate walks.

Don’t want to do two walks with two dogs at a time?  Sorry, it’s that or find a trainer.   Not for the dogs, but for yourself. 

There’s a line that you hear about this sort of thing from time to time:  “Who’s walk is it anyway?”.

It’s not your walk, it’s the dog’s.  Take the time, calm yourself down, calm the dogs down, and take it one step at a time.  You will have a much better time at it and so will the dog.

Thoughts And Decisions And Clearing Your Mind

Take a breather.
Enjoy the moment.
Congratulate friends on their hard work.
Thank your allies.

Great.  There is a lot more work to get done.

No, not a “bring down” moment.  Just reality.

Share the moment, the glow of the decision, and breathe in the hope.  Think of the things in society that are wrong and need to be fixed.  Think of the work that will be needed to bring those who disagree with you, sometimes kicking and screaming.

I am fond of saying “It is a marathon, not a sprint” or “You’re in it for the long haul”.  There will always be naysayers, people who will refuse.  Their loss.  They are on the wrong side of history and they will be left behind.  The parking brake left on after the car is pulled into traffic.

Smug?  Perhaps.  I can think of other Civil Rights issues that were argued about in the past and decided and people adapted.

When is the last time you heard about someone complaining about a woman’s right to vote with any sort of seriousness?

But there are many issues that need just the same attention as did same sex marriage.  Pick one.  Be involved.

If you are progressive in your society and you decide to sit at home next time voting day comes around, you are the problem, not the solution, and I will silently judge you as will many others.

If you are not progressive in your society, and that is your right, I have to ask you why.  If there is something incorrect, wrong, or broken, it certainly needs to be fixed.

Just ask anyone who crossed that bridge in Selma, Alabama if things are perfect.  They will tell you no.

Oh and that flag?  It’s not a Pride flag, not that anything is wrong with flying a Pride flag no matter what your political bend.  It’s an Italian Peace flag.  The word says Peace in Italian.  It’s a wish for Peace towards all.  Even those you disagree with.  High goal to work towards.  I know I’ve got a way to go with that one too.  I have been told that I can be a bit … “irascible” at times.

Angelic Time

A man prayed for some good fortune.

An angel appeared.
He asked the angel what’s the equivalent of 5 minutes in heaven?
To which the angel replied 5 minutes is equal to 5 millenia in earth time.

How much is 5 million dollars in heavenly currency?
The angel said it roughly equates to 5 cents.

Can you grant me one wish?
Only one wish said the angel.

Can you grant me 5 million dollars?
To which the angel replied… Give me 5 minutes..

A Man Was Driving With His Wife When Pulled Over By A Cop

The following exchange took place. The man says, “What’s the problem, officer?”

Officer: “You were going at least 75 in a 55 zone.”
Man: “No sir, I was going 65.”
Wife: “Oh, Harry. You were going 80.” (The man gave his wife a dirty look.)

Officer: “I’m also going to give you a ticket for your broken taillight. “
Man: “Broken taillight? I didn’t know about a broken taillight!”
Wife: “Oh Harry, you’ve known about that taillight for weeks.”

(The man gave his wife another dirty look.)

Officer: “I’m also going to give you a citation for not wearing your seat belt.”
Man: “Oh, I just took it off when you were walking up to the car.”
Wife: “Oh Harry, you never wear your seat belt.”

The man turned to his wife and yelled, “SHUT YOUR MOUTH!”

The officer turned to the woman and asked, “Ma’am, does your husband talk to you this way all the time?”

The wife said, “No, only when he’s drunk.”

Mint in the Garden. It Really Is Like A Boat

I heard the call:

“Hey, does anyone around here have any mint?”

Yep!

But … plant it in a pot that is placed on concrete. 

I am aware of the idea that you plant things in accordance to your conditions.  Native species always take precedence over something that has been introduced.

Who knows if that pretty flower that you have loved when you lived in a different place will take root and go wild.  If it goes wild, it will upset the reason why you moved to this place, wherever it is.  Because you liked the environment.  That would be my guess.

Once it is established here in South Florida, nothing ever dies.   It just gets big and takes over.  There’s this palm tree in front of my house because it sprouted in a pot in my backyard.  I wasn’t quick enough to pull it out of the pot and I took the high road.  It looks good there in The Island, fighting off the dying bottlebrush tree but that is a different story.

My own yard has some invasive philodendron and some aggressively invasive Virginia Creeper.  Both grew into the turf in the backyard and the only way to eradicate those is to tear up the grass.  I’m considering concrete.  Maybe Napalm or contacting our government to see if they have any of that Agent Orange stuff left over.

Yes, those beautiful green heart shaped leaves that you have stuck in a pot up North are growing through my grass and weaving themselves tightly.  I may just send a box of the stuff to my sister.  She likes the plants and they won’t survive up above the freeze line in the winter.

I’m hearing her shout “NOOOOO!” already.

It’s all the same problem as the Mint.  You see, they grow on runners.  Technically they are rhizomes, I think.  The plant sends out roots at a regular interval while it is on the ground.  Those roots take hold and burrow down.

Whether it is Virginia Creeper, Philodendron, or Mint.   Keep that plant in a pot, and don’t let it touch the ground or it will be assimilated.

Just like the Borg.

You see little plants in strange places, so you pull.  As you’re pulling you feel some snapping.  That’s you leaving that root underground.  It “comes back” in a couple weeks.  A new crop.

I went out to my Mint Pot.  It sits by the back door and on the deck.  I am very happy to have it since I will just cut pieces off of the plant, stick it in a tall glass, pour boiling water on it after it has been washed, and let it steep.  Add a little sweetener, and I am a happy camper.

No, really, Mint Iced Tea is a great “surprise” after a workout and you’re waiting for your heartrate to come down below 180.  Helps you hydrate quickly.  At least when I hit that bottle with the mint in it, I just down the thing.  Water isn’t quite as exciting when you’re sitting in a Jeep with the A/C blowing and you’re cooling down.

But don’t let the stuff even hover over the garden.

I saw one little plant.  They also have tiny little flowers, did I mention that?  Those tiny flowers will self pollinate and seed.  Those seeds grow.

Spearmint Tea is a wonderful thing.  Spearmint mixed in the garden can be a major nuisance.

So much so that if I knew someone I didn’t care for, I have a prank in mind.  Just drop a sprig in the garden next to the sprinkler head.

“Hey Hon?  What happened to all the flowers we planted?  All we have is Mint!”

As the happy husband gets swallowed up by the creeping green carpet.  Boil him in water and add some honey.  Your husband is gone but he’ll make a great tea!

So, sitting on my windowsill is a red plastic cup.  It’s stuffed with bits of mint.  There’s a bit of water in there and I’m waiting for it to root.

That is if I survive it growing out from the kitchen to assimilate me.  Careful!  I’ll make iced tea out of you, I really will!

So how is Mint like a Boat?  Easy!  It’s better if your neighbor has it.  That way you can borrow it whenever you need it.  Just like a swimming pool.  Be nice to your neighbor and they may just allow you to use it!

Learning Spanish With Franny’s Feet – A Little Girl Who Has A Weird Thing For Shoes

About 2 years ago, I signed up for Duolingo.

Like most people, I picked a language and promptly dropped it.

There went those dreams of speaking Spanish.  Now, I have always said “If you can’t learn Spanish in South Florida, you aren’t trying hard enough”, so I eventually went back to it.

Duolingo will teach you the language you select in a game format.  You answer simple questions, get clues, and have a goal.  By the time you finished today, you have learned a little of your selected language, and can come back tomorrow to do it again.  I selected a low goal because I didn’t want to be playing games all day, even if it did help me get better at my goal of speaking Spanish.

According to Duolingo, I am currently 50% fluent in Spanish.  I’m finding that I’m picking up snippets of conversation in public, getting some of the words in songs, and even able to watch TV in Spanish with the Spanish Closed Captioning Turned on.

I guess I’m about a year and a half old again.  When I watch Sesame Street, make that Plaza Sesamo, I can follow it just about completely.  Simple Spanish sentences help me learn too, not just your toddlers and preschool kids.

I branched into watching some Spanish language TV when I realized that listening to the talk shows was quite a bit too advanced.  Plaza Sesamo was a good choice and it emboldened me to instead look into something geared to a slightly older audience.

Slightly.

I was channel surfing after taking Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) out for his romp around the yard one morning.  There is a small TV in the back room and I was looking at the over the air channels.  I stumbled onto a little girl with a high squeaky voice speaking to me in Spanish about some adventures she was on.

Mind you that wasn’t what my mind was translating.  I did say I was only 50% fluent in Spanish, right?

The show called Franny’s Feet was about a little girl named Franny.  She lived in a shoe repair shop with her grandfather.

Great!  Just up my alley!  She spoke slowly and clearly, so did abuelo or grandfather, and I could follow along.

But it got weird.

She would be chatting until the doorbell rang and in came a client.  They would invariably drop off some old shoes to be repaired.  I knew they were old because they always were discolored and had holes in the soles. 

Normal for a cobbler’s shop, but I did say it got weird.

Franny’s job was to put the shoes away in a box to be worked on later.  That’s pretty easy except next she’d get this weird shoe fetish thing going on.  She’d set the stranger’s ratty shoes on the ground and then …

Step inside the shoes.

That’s pretty gross to me, an adult who didn’t really completely understand the action.  It must have been pretty gross to her because at this point she’d start to hallucinate.

The screen would spin around and she’d fall through a wormhole and appear in a magical world.

I did say that it was a wormhole.  There must have been something truly strange in those shoes the client brought in. 

She would have adventures with cartoon animals that all talked and told a story.  There was a light plot, after all it was about teaching children how to speak in which ever language it was dubbed in – It originally was an English Language cartoon from Canada.

At the end, everything was wrapped up in a nice bow.  The goats were reunited with their mom, the flamingoes became friends with the peacock and peahen, and there’s one about a moose I’m looking forward to seeing simply because well, this is www.ramblingmoose.com after all!

I’m thinking what ever hallucinogen was in the shoes would then wear off and she’d fall back through the wormhole to the cobbler’s shop.  Looking back inside the trippy shoes, she’d find something that came back from the other realm.  A feather or an old sweat band from the shoes would be placed in her shoe box of treasures after she put the old shoes in the work box.

It really seemed that it is like one of those old cartoons that a kid would watch and be entertained, and an adult would sit there and wonder what on earth was going on?

None the less, I haven’t grown out of the show since I can actually follow along with the dialogue.   It’s a little more advanced than Plaza Sesamo, and it’s helping me learn.

Isn’t that the point?

When I described this I was told I was reading way too much into it and got an email back with a sentence in Spanish:

a veces un cigarro es sólo un cigarro
Sometimes a Cigar is only a Cigar.

A rather famous quote from Freud.  A very nice touch by a friend.

In other words, maybe I am reading too much into the little girl’s cartoon adventures, but I will say that this weird trippy view of the children’s show is helping me stay interested enough to practice my Spanish in a safe and non-confrontational way.

We all hate confrontation.

So enjoy your cigars safe in the fact that they’re just cigars, and that the Acid Trip that the little girl is taking is all in your head. 

Meanwhile, make sure you have good clean socks.  They’re Calcetines you know!

Pizza Sauce From Scratch Recipe

It’s tradition with me and Pizza, I have to quote Homer Simpson:

Mmmm, Pizza!  Ahhhh!

The thing about Pizza Sauce is that everyone can go to the store, buy a jar off the shelf, and make a pretty passable pizza if you have a decent crust and some good cheeses.

If you do go with the jars, the best one I ever found was a black and white (mainly) label from a company just two towns over from where I grew up.  Medford, NJ.   Some of the Italians moved out of Philly after the Second World War, settled in the pines in NJ and made some pizza sauce.

But.  It’s jarred, and therefore “not fresh”.

You can’t just use Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce either.  The spices are wrong.  I don’t know how to describe that other than to say that Pizza Sauce should be slightly sweet, thick, and not runny at all.   If the sauce is “hot” with a peppery burn, it’s done wrong – this is Italian cuisine and not Tex-Mex.  If it is not thicker than Spaghetti Sauce consistency, the water in the sauce will stop the crust from cooking properly.

Nobody likes a soggy bottom in a pizza.

The original recipe for a pizza was purported to be nothing more than sun dried tomatoes on a slab of dough with some mozzarella cheese on top, and then baked quickly in a very hot oven.  Get the bottom crispy.

That goes for Sicilian as well as Neapolitan pizzas.

So along with the quest for the perfect pizza crust, I’m looking for the perfect pizza sauce.  When I said the other day that I wanted to make a Pizza For The Weekend, I was told that my sauces weren’t up to snuff.  My response was simply:

“Find me a better recipe”.

This is Better.  It’s not Perfect.  But there is no such thing as a perfect pizza sauce unless you make the effort to make it yourself and really hone that sauce to what you want – because it is what YOU want.  Besides, my standards for “Perfect” are high.

Extremely and perhaps Obsessively high.

Never Mind All That, Here’s the recipe we have settled on:

Ingredients

  •     4 Teaspoons Olive oil
  •     1 Tablespoon Butter (optional or sub more olive oil if you’re being healthier)
  •     8 Cloves of Garlic, minced – going to roast it first next time
  •     3.5 Teaspoons Onion Powder
  •     1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  •     3 Teaspoon Fresh Basil,
  •     2 Teaspoon Fresh Oregano, chopped *1 Dried
  •     1 large can San Marzano Tomato’s crushed by hand
  •     1 small can Tomato Paste
  •     2/3 cup Fresh Parmesan Cheese, grated
  •     4 Teaspoons Brown Sugar
  •     1 Cup Warm Water
  •     Dash of fresh ground pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter and heat until almost shimmering. 
  2. Add the garlic, stirring a few times around the pot and then quickly add the onion powder, red pepper flakes, basil and oregano. 
  3. Stir a few times and allow the herbs to bloom. 
  4. Add Parmesan Cheese, and brown sugar and then quickly dump in the tomato sauce, tomato paste and water. 
  5. Stir to combine and bring to a light boil. 
  6. Turn down to low, season to taste and allow to simmer for 1-2 hours for ultimate flavor or use immediately if needed. 

Oh, to make the pizza you see in the picture?  The pizza I called “The Second Best in South Florida”?

  • Use this stove top pizza crust recipe,
  • 7 ounces of this sauce, 
  • 6 ounces mixed cheeses, 
  • 1/2 a jar of mushroom pieces, 
  • and a couple slices of Ham – because I can
  • brown it in the oven broiler after it cooked in the skillet.
  • served two adult men comfortably.   About 400 calories each person.