Happy Birthday Pat!

It’s that time again!

It’s time for Pat’s Birthday!

This is what she’s getting! 

A Box of Random Goodies!

That is if the box made it.   I sent it parcel post last week.  Went up to Oakland Park P.O. on Dixie Highway, just over the other side of the line from Wilton Manors.

Nice folks up there, they always ask what smells so good in the box.

I tell them but I’m not saying until Pat gets the box.

I’ll probably hear something got crushed.
It usually leaves her scratching her head as to What on Earth was I thinking?

Something Granular,
Something Blue,
Something Baked,
Happy Birthday to You!

Happy First Birthday, Rack!

According to our admittedly sketchy math, this is Rack’s Birthday.

Not an Earth-shattering event, but something for me and mine to keep in mind.

Lettie, my old McNab dog passed in April, and I found Rack at the Dog Liberator‘s about a week later.

Losing Lettie, I was basically “ordered” to “go get another dog” by Kevin.  It helped me get through my own feelings of loss.   She was the Canine Ambassador to Snowbirds in Wilton Manors, even if she really didn’t care for the attention toward the end.

We finally see Rack at The Dog Liberator, April 21, 2013

We picked up Rack a week after we contacted Giselle.  The timing was for the best since she was able to help him come out of his shell enough for us to continue the work on the recuperation of this dog’s shattered psyche. 

Smart dogs don’t take well to shelters.  They cower and hide in the back of the cage and end up being put to sleep in much higher proportion than a less smart dog.  McNabs are the smartest around, and other similar breeds like Border Collies, Poodles, German Shepard Dogs, and the like will suffer the same fate.

Since we got him, he’s grown much more assertive.  He doesn’t hide in the crate when the train passes by a half mile away, but he still hides from the trash trucks all the same.  He still doesn’t like Wilton Drive and all that noisy traffic, but he’s no longer shivering in abject terror when we get there.   It’s fear but it’s more manageable and with time he’ll do well.

Whatever he went through before he ended up in the right hands with Gisele and finally us, did leave him with a fear of strangers.   We can manage that, it isn’t necessary that some snowbird gets to meet my dog.  Most back off when I tell them “He Won’t Let You” and leave the vague comment hang in the air.

He has discovered the joy of other dogs by leaping in mid air when he sees them a block away.   We’ve got to work on calming him down, silly puppy.

Giselle said that he was “About 7 Months Old” when we first spoke in April.   So I’m “doing the math”.  That means that today would be close enough to a year old today.  We’ll never know for sure, and this is a good a day as any.

There were a few stumbles when we got him.   It took a solid three months for us to get him fully dewormed and on food that he could tolerate.   Puppies don’t always digest their food well so we were giving him probiotics and switching the foods around until we found one he could tolerate.   Wellness Puppy food made him have loose stools, and apparently that is common even if it is a high quality food.  We switched to Merrick and Orijen and both are excellent foods that he tolerates exceedingly well.

We won’t be giving him “extra treats” today for his birthday, I don’t want to clean up extra mess outside on our walks.  His regular food is fine in a Kong or a tennis ball with a slit in it.   Those two toys keep him busy for a half hour at a time!

So, if you’re looking for a dog at the shelter, look extra long at that dog hiding at the back of the cage.  They may need a little extra care because of the shock they’ve been put through, but they’re definitely worth it.

Happy Birthday and many more to come, Rack!

Sign of a Good Life

I was sitting on the Big Green Chair, watching some semi-forgettable TV show, dog at my feet, laptop making my legs sweat.   It was after all, September, and it won’t cool down until our two week winter in February.

I hear over the lamp and table separating us:

This is a great quote!
What is it?
Sign of a good life: The place your funeral is held is too small to accommodate the number of people who attend.
Wow, who said that?
Mike D.

Of course, Mike d’Oliviera.  He’s a local journalist here in town.   He’s also got a knack for telling a story concisely.   I could learn from that after all.  I am greeted by people by “Hey! There’s the Rambling Moose” for a reason.

With that, Mike described the Funeral or Celebration of Diane Cline’s Life perfectly.   I remembered standing in one of the back rooms of the place for most of the night.  I briefly claimed a chair in the center of the room and thought about the crush of people, both Diane’s friends and family, how many there were with the sheer volume of bodies in the parlor of the former Richardson’s home that Diane sought to save with the help of the Historical Society.  Seeing my friends on the board of Wilton Manors Development Alliance, the once Wilton Manors Main Street, where Diane was the Chairwoman for Life, yet another group that she had helped to found, I realized how packed the place was.

The rains had started just before the selected hour.  It was as if Diane nudged a cloud over the park in order to get things going.   I heard someone announce it was time to come on in out of the rain.   When the music started to gather us together, the rain suddenly stopped.   Timing was interesting even if that sort of on-off rain is something you become accustomed to here in the almost-tropics of Wilton Manors.

It wasn’t me who suggested that we pick up and move to the room in the back next to the kitchen, but I heartily agreed.  Crowds are difficult at best for someone who sticks out above them.  The Japanese have a saying that the Tallest Nail Will Get The Hammer First.  I have quite a few dents on top of my head as a result, hammers and low hanging door closers aside.  I got to observe the crowd from my perch near the back. 

I’ll just stick to the back of the hall.   Getting hit in the head with a hammer is fine for a nail, but for a too tall person in a too crowded space, it can be difficult.

This was a not to be missed event.  Even those who Diane would have told off in public arrived, much to our bemusement.  Kremlinology didn’t stop with the collapse of the Soviet Union, it moved to public events everywhere where people will ask “what is SHE doing here, doesn’t she have a clue?”.

Standing there listening to the politicians from our City speak about Diane, followed by the WMDA, then Family, the whole time I was looking at the fruits of her labor.   Ironically I spotted a sign against the butter colored walls proclaiming Capacity 92 Persons, and said I doubt very much that the Fire Marshall would dare count heads in this packed building.

With back against the wall and potluck food on a plastic plate, I found my niche.   A part of the celebration but on the periphery trying hard not to block the walkway or the doorway to the speeches with the too-low ceiling height.  Being where I was, balancing the experience, there were a few things that would float in over the thrum of the crowd.  One story about a commission meeting. then later followed by Diane’s favorite admonishment to “Never Trust a Naked Bus Driver”.

They didn’t repeat my comment that if I ever buy a bus, I’ll drive it naked.

We eventually left the hall at the South End of the Drive.  Walking out I commented that most of what you see in this little city was directly due to the work of Diane and some other very committed people.  This is a small city.  Small cities all over the world get things done on the backs of the cadres of volunteers working to make life better.

The shape of the Drive, the character of the sidewalks, the widening to four lanes and our ongoing struggle to narrow it back with the Two Lane Initiative, many other aspects of this City that all look like the normal fabric of life here were at least touched by this woman.  It really is a case of if you didn’t know of her, you probably didn’t know what was going on in this quirky little island.  The same can be said of some others that I know well who are tireless volunteers.

Speeches are all well and good.  In this sort of celebration, knowing what we did, it was interesting to point out, quietly to each other, the intentional revisions of some very specific historical events, all for good effect.

Actions are better.  The works of anyone’s lifetime can rarely be summed up in a single afternoon’s event.  Sometimes you can get a better view of that life by leaving the hall and walking down your own Main Street after a September rain.

The Elephant in the Room Has Left The Drive

After a weekend of listening to my windows rattle from two separate giant towers of speakers three blocks away, it is now what passes for quiet here in Wilton Manors.

The birds have not quite returned yet.  There are different birds out there chattering, but after being subjected to over-enthusiastic DJs who cranked the music past Eleven to somewhere in the stratosphere, the usual ones have left.

So loud in fact that when I went out to see what was going, the music out in front of my own house was louder than I listen to music INSIDE the house. So loud that when you walked out to see the party, people would walk past visibly faster and not linger because the bass note hit your chest like a concussion shock wave.  The third music stage was much better managed down at the stop light, people were actually hanging around and enjoying themselves there. 

The city did an excellent job of managing the few parking resources they had.  The neighbors who didn’t want people using their lawns as a parking lot had cans out to block.   Signs were posted where you could and could not park.  Those who did had $10 fees for the privilege.  There were lost cars and taxis speeding through the area all weekend.

June in South Florida is a punishing time of year to hold anything outdoors, that 90 degree sun on black asphalt means that the apparent temperature is enough to cook an egg.  The crowds at the peak of things would show you that it simply was the wrong time of year to be out for long periods.

Parties can be fun, when they’re not too much of a good thing.  The parade was a blast.  The DJs were not.  Wasn’t the choice of music, they played what I listen to normally, it was just the volume.  In fact, everyone I had spoken to about the festivities had about the same comments. 

You can’t please everyone, but sometimes it’s obvious what to do.  In this case, I’ll please myself by forgoing the need to mention which specific party it was.  If you were here, you knew.  If you weren’t, then I won’t spoil it for you, I’ll let you be surprised for yourself.

Silence of the Oscars

9:30pm Sunday around the Drive here in Wilton Manors has a certain rhythm.

The bars are busy but not crazy.  You can actually go in and get a drink, even find free parking.  The cars usually are not cycling through the neighborhood too badly.  You know when the specials are at the businesses and the bars because the parking lots ebb and flow into and out of the neighborhood.

It’s a suburban or even urban area, although I’m not sure what the distinction is in South Florida.  Since I have grass on all sides of my house, I’ll stick with Suburban.

You know your neighbors, perhaps better than a passing wave.  You know when the pool guy down the block is going to pass by on the way out and when he’s coming home.

Living on next to a business district assumes you’re welcoming the entertainment, expecting a distraction occasionally, and are willing to get to know the owners or at least the security guards.

When we went out for the dog walk, the last one of the day, it was silent.

“Hey listen!”
“It’s quiet!”
“Well yeah, it’s quiet, but it’s Sunday night.  Come on, lets walk Lettie…”
“No, I mean Quiet.”

I took a good listen and he was right. Even a good block away from the bars, you could tell that this was going to be a down night.  I haven’t set foot in them yet this year, probably since last Fall, but I knew this was going to be a quiet Sunday Evening.

“It must be the Oscars”
“Do you really think so?  Are they that big of a deal?”
“Apparently.  We’re not into it but the Oscar Parties must be in full swing.”

Looking at the neighbor’s houses I noticed that the only places that felt alive were the ones with more than the usual cars in the driveways, lights were on and somebody was home.

“Funny, all that glitteratti nonsense never really appealed to us, but I guess for some folks, it is High Drama.”
“Yeah, there’s just too much fluff in the Oscars for me to want to bother.”
“Not enough entertainment, ironically.”

By the time we convinced Lettie it was time to turn into the parking lot for the Shoppes and head back to the house, we realized that they weren’t having a busy night.  Sure the dance bar was busy enough, but you could actually find a space for your car right in front when we walked by. 

Puts things in perspective.  The neighborhood was actually noisier this morning when I got up to walk the dog at 5:30 than it was at 9:30 the night before.

Down the block the pool guy was filling his truck.  The cats were out warming themselves on the pavement.  The birds were singing to the not yet risen sun trying to wake those still in bed.

The rhythm of the city was reestablishing itself, and all was back to normal.