Wilton Manors At Sunrise

I have to admit, I really do like walking through this town before sunrise.

The time is quiet.  I-95 is only barely audible.  The trains aren’t necessarily here and if they are here, I can pretend they aren’t.

When I am not talking to Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM), on a day like this with almost no breezes, all I am hearing are our footsteps and the ringing in my ears.

Thanks, Mom, all that aspirin you fed me left me a present.

I get to stargaze, and while I am looking up at the skies, sometimes I get to indulge myself.  This morning, since I am still trying to adjust to the time change to standard time, I lay in bed an extra half hour or so.  When I do finally get out there, the skies were no longer completely dark.  More of a purple.

Stepping outside, I let Rack walk to the front of the property so he could water His Rock.  I almost always look up and noticed that there were enough clouds out there to make things interesting.  Not quite yet, but later.

Rounding the block, Rack told me that he wanted a Short Walk by herding me one way.  A mere four tenths of a mile today.  Even though I have to break him of that habit, I could use the time to do other things.

We went down a residential street that had a good view of the skies toward the beach.

That is a good view once I stopped looking at what Rack was sniffing at.  I never did figure that out.

The skies were getting brighter and the sun was rising above the Bahamas at this point.  They really aren’t that far away from me.  When that happens, we get the undersides of our clouds lit up by the distant orange rays that are just beginning to peak up over the horizon.

Or so I tell myself.

Walking around the block I hear the neighbor ask “What-cha lookin’ at?”

“It’s a really pretty sunrise.  I’ll have to try to get a good picture of it!”

I may have ringing in my ears, but I have a very stable hand when it comes to photography.

“Good luck to you!  I have pools to take care of!”  As he went off looking for his pool scoop for the back of his pickup truck.

I walked down the block with my neck craned over my shoulder saying to nobody in particular “Yep!  I’m going to get that picture”.

I got a wag out of Rack for that.  He does that often.  Good, I have an excuse for talking and I’m not really talking to myself.

With light breezes and a pleasant temperature, this is why people live here.

It’s also why the Snowbirds come down here and drive stupidly on my roads.  Since it is currently snowing in the big cities up North like Philadelphia and will be in Boston, I’m thinking that the airplanes will be all full up very shortly.

Say Something Sunrise

Ironically this was one of my earlier wake up calls.

Not the morning in the picture, but today, when I am writing this blather.

More than two hours before sunrise, I was up walking around this same spot, a little more than two years later and thought to look East towards the sunrise.

Except it won’t be there for a while.

Coming home to sit in the dark house, I’m going about procrastinating everything that I needed to do and did “other things” instead.

Looking out the back window from my Poang Chair, through the bougainvillea, I saw the same colors starting to show in the eastern skies.  Orange tints began to appear, painting the large banana tree leaves under my mango tree back there.

After all, I’m in South Florida.  I think it’s a state requirement that you have at least one fruit tree on your property and since I know how to propagate plants, I have too many.  Too many banana trees is not really a problem, but the mango can get massive.

My mango looks like it has been mistreated lately, I hacked it down from 15 feet to a more manageable ten.  If you “lower” the top of the tree, you will end up with a skeletal look, but the plant is quite forgiving.  It’s putting out tiny little chartreuse leaves from the trunk just below where I butchered the plant.

That’s my yard, too many fruit trees in pots.  So many that when I look at it from “space”, I can see the trees around the pool.

But that picture.  I was standing at NE 7th Avenue and Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors, Florida.  Looking east towards the ocean two miles away and the approaching sunrise there was a sign flashing.

See Something
Say Something

I did see something.  A beautiful sunrise.  It was all for my benefit, at some level.  The city has not awakened on that day, June 24, 2017, at 6:14.  The warning sign kept repeating its mantra, and I stood there, my faithful sidekick, Rack the SuperDog (TM) looking towards the sunrise and up at my face.

“Isn’t it beautiful, boy?  It’s our privilege to be up this early and see the city like this!”

I got a wag or five out of him and he went back to looking at it.

“Well, lets go home, the house should be waking up soon.”

Rack stood up and began walking across the street in the general direction towards our house, tail wagging and leading the way.

Beautiful mornings should be shared.  My dog seemed to enjoy it too.

Now, two years later, I’m sharing it with you.

Get out of bed early once in a while, go have a look.  You never know what you’ll find.

A Smart Dog to Knows What To Do With a Drunk

There is just something about having a smart breed of dog.

No matter what, they learn. If you allow them to, they will learn you.  They will focus on you like a laser.  They’re adaptable.

When I got my dog, Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM), his spirit was crushed.

His fear level was over the top, and the first time I ever moved a trash can with him along, he flattened on the ground and shivered.

He’s past that, well past that.

In fact he did something I saw my Lettie, the McNab and Border Collie cross do before him that shows just how well they watch.

You see, there are some breeders of dogs that have a closed mind.  A dog is for a task they will tell you.  If you don’t exhibit what their definition of that task is, then they won’t recommend that dog to you and may not sell you the dog.

Many herding breed dog breeders are that way.  I don’t agree with that at all.

Yes, a herding breed dog needs a job.  Actually, scratch that, ALL dogs need a job.  After all, deep down, a dog is a wolf in fancy clothes.

In our case, Rack’s job is me.  He treats me as a pack leader, or rather his pack leader, and his job is to watch over and support me in what I do.

Never sell a dog short, because if it does not live up to your expectations, it’s probably because you aren’t making your needs understood.

I’m at the point where if I speak to him in English, I simply expect him to understand.  I just have to make sure I use what I personally consider Dog Command Words and he will get them right.

He also speaks English.  As in, if I am saying to someone that I want to go to a specific place next, he goes there without being directed.

I was out walking him and we needed newspapers.  I said “Lets go to the drive and get them then”.

He did.  No muss and no fuss.

One of his favorite things in the world is a Ride In The Car!  As in I can’t say it strongly enough in text how much he likes a Ride in The Car.  He loses his mind.  I have to tell him “Sorry, you get to stay home and watch the house, Rack” to get him to calm down if he is not coming along.  Otherwise he does “math” to figure out whether he’s included if I go out.

The other morning, we went out for a walk an hour before sunrise.  That’s normal.  I have a set route.  I have a set routine.  We know it well.  If I say “you need your leash” he goes to his crate and waits for me to get the thing or he will come back there if I am standing there and flip the harness over his nose in order to get me going.

We left the block and headed into the darkness to the little M.E. DePalma Park near the house.

I’m walking in my pre-dawn haze and all the sudden Rack is in front of me and won’t move.

That is the herding dog signal for “Human, stop, danger is ahead”.

Lettie did it once and there was a wild animal up ahead.  She would not allow me to go until danger was past.

In this case, Rack spotted something very strange.

A Foot.

In the flowers.

Yes, a foot.

He told me I was not going somewhere until I acknowledged it.

“What the actual hell is this?”

Rack went Off Duty.

I realized it wasn’t just a disembodied foot.

It was a body.

Then I realized from 10 feet away, literally, it wasn’t a body, it was a person.   Male, under 40, about 5’10” in “Bar Clothes”.

Snoring.

Smelling a thick haze of alcohol from down wind, I realized that it was a drunk who passed out in the flowers in the park.  He was about 1000 feet from the bars, staggered off, found the park and collapsed into a drunken heap.

Don’t light a match, there will be an explosion level of Alcohol on the Wind.

I muttered to myself “All a part of living in a tourist area”, and then I touched the instep of his foot with my right boot.

Yes, bare foot.  His shoes had been knocked off and ended up somewhere else.  Maybe even back in the bar, who knows.

I have been trained in First Aid and maintained my certification for about 20 years.  There are courses for that and literally the first thing they tell you is that “You are under no obligation to act”.

So I acted.

Actually the drunk groaned, pulled his foot away, and rolled over.  Made a rather nice pillow out of the flowers there and went back to snoring.

Sheesh, yet another drunk.

Rack realized the danger had passed, and I was just… well I realized I wasn’t able to help him any more.

I left the guy to sleep it off.  It was an hour and a half to sunrise and I really didn’t want to try to help hoist some guy to his feet so he could sleep it off.

Besides, the sprinklers are scheduled to come on shortly in that park.  If he hasn’t awakened by then, the ground water would make sure he did.

“Rack come on, let him sleep it off.”

We left.  Rack had gotten bored with it all.  The drunk was in what I felt was a safe place for the time being, and we had our own drama to finish with.

After all, you can’t fix stupid.

If you want to live your life like a Jimmy Buffett song where you “threw off your flip flops” in a park in South Florida, just make sure it’s a safe spot to pass out.

We went on our way.   “Come on Rack let’s go”.

Off we went.

My morning walk is a 30 minute loop around town.  We came, We saw, We watered a tree or three, and We came back.

But Rack, knew what I was saying when I said “Let’s go to the park”.  He took me right there.

The drunk tourist had moved on, as did the sprinklers.

When I said “Ok, we’re done, lets go home and get you your food.” He looked up at me.

“Hungry, boy?”  With a wag or three, he knew where to go.  Back home.  No more drunks, we’re done.

My Noisy Neighbor

The other day, I had a weird moment.

Walked out into the yard, and there was a bird.

Grey, black and white.  Perched in my Bougainvillea arbor.

It was singing.  Well if you could call that singing.  It was making a row.

For the family here in Los Estados Unidos, that means it was bloody loud.

It was also my Snow White moment.  It stayed there long enough for me to get quite close and quite a few pictures of it.  The whole while it was there, it was making noise.   Loud enough to echo off the shed and some of the other buildings around us.

As I walked around my yard and the pool, I was being serenaded by my little friend.  Loudly.

Of course me, being who I am, I would chatter back.  Loudly.

“Hey Bird!  Noisy Bird!”

BRAKKK FWEEP BEE BEE BEE BEE!

Rack was out with me, he just cocked his head to one side.  Then he cocked his leg to another and added some uric acid to my green onions.  In a pot.

“Rack, don’t water my pots!”

More head tilts as a Monarch butterfly dive bombs his head.

There was another butterfly strobing along the hedges.  Flashing yellow pinstripes on a black suit, this second butterfly was hovering around me, and what was left of the Night Blooming Jasmine hedge that is hedge in name only.

BEE BEE BEE BEE!

“What’s up NoisyBurd?”

More indiscriminate loud chatter from my feathered friend.

“Man you are LOUD today”

BEE BEE BEE BEE!

At this point the butterflies have dispersed, Rack was hovering around me.  He may have zero hunting ability, and zero prey drive, but he does know how to herd ME.

Looking down at my feet I saw two brown jeweled eyes set in black fur.  Rack wanted back in the house.

I get in and I say Goodbye from my shouty little bird friend.

I’m told that my neighbors are also hearing my bird.  It’s keeping them up.  Ok, so it’s March.  Spring Time.  Male Birds are feeling Testosterone from their testicles that have grown to allow the next generation to be produced, what did you expect, Silence?

This has been going on for the next couple days.  More chatter.  Every morning, he’s parked himself on top of the bougainvillea.

Thankfully I haven’t discovered a nest in my yard.  My Neighbor Joe is hoping he doesn’t discover one there.  His windows aren’t Hurricane Impact Glass.  They let sound and breezes in.  Maybe he’ll take our suggestion that he get those done before the next storm season.

Meanwhile I’m wishing my feathered friend to pay him a visit next door.  He has been at 3 in the morning in full voice.

I’ll keep my hearing protection handy for the next couple weeks.  I don’t hear him, but Joe does.

Antique Car at Wilton Manors Fire Department

Every town has its quirks.

Wilton Manors has them too.   Mostly the inhabitants of all sorts, but once in a while you see something that leaves you asking what on earth is going on.

Square in the middle of town there is a restaurant.  There was a restaurant before it in the same spot.  It was a greasy spoon chicken wings joint that moved just out of town.

That’s great if you like that sort of thing.  I can make my own greasy spoon chicken, thank you, and I prefer barbecue or grilled at any rate.  Much better for you, or so they say.

Whoever They are.

As the old building rotted, someone came along and did the typical Screw The System Building Rehab.  Knock down every wall but two, then build a new building around it.   That means it is a rehab, and therefore not new construction, and the laws are less strict.

Not good for those of us around it.

The restaurant that later inhabited the space, to this day, is a sushi place.  All painted in purple.

I’m not a fan of eating raw fish in a Barney colored restaurant blaring bad rock music from twenty years ago, but maybe you do.  I’ll leave you to it.

Squatting there like a big purple carbuncle, it does draw your attention.  It is hardly ever “full” so if you want a meal and they are open go on in.

See, that’s the thing.   Right now, it isn’t open.  It’s closed.  They have a sign taped to the front door that explains that they’re doing some remodeling or some re-menuing of their food.  Bottom line is that it has been even emptier than it had been before.

Maybe they will open again or maybe someone will buy the place and hopefully banish Barney and paint the place a different color under a new format.

I love you,  You love me, Why not have some Broccoli?

As the place has been closed for about 2 or 3 months now, maybe longer, it has collected a few cars.  They were strategically placed to block the parking lot off from someone borrowing it and maybe making it look like it is actually inhabited with say a car club.

Ok, I’ll say a car club.  Because the cars that were left behind aren’t junkers.  I suspect that the city here would have something to say about that.  The cars are almost always what could be considered classics.

This car parked there caught my eye and forced me to think about it.   It’s a somewhat restored 1950s Chevrolet.  In baby blue, it also is Indifferently restored.  The back deck of the car is stained with age.  The paint seemed to have been done badly because it was a bit rough in appearance.

 

And the car had a flat.

Not just a flat, but the wheel itself was ground down leading you to believe that it had been dragged across the pavement to rest where it is over the final few feet.

By a giant purple dinosaur perhaps?  I doubt that, but the love that Barney would give to that car would be to put on the spare tire, I would hope.

1950s cars are rather rare now.  They’ve mostly gone into the hands of collectors.  They generally aren’t used to decorate parking lots with 1980s Corvettes, last century bucket trucks, or some of the other automotive relics that have showed up over the last month.  Always three vehicles, one to block each entry, and that sad semi restored baby blue Chevrolet that was there that day and this morning still.

We saw it that day.  Me, my dog Rack, and a rather nice looking tortoise shell winged Dragonfly balancing on the hibiscus hedge that is well maintained and intended to protect the property from Purple Dinosaurs.

So if you go by, you may be able to witness the worlds slowest car club.  Join the Dragonflies, and the other quirky denizens of this town.

 

You just won’t be able to get sushi, unless you bring your own.

Even better if you bring a purple dinosaur and drive up in an antique car.

 

You have one right?

Sunrise on Wilton Manors

I get up whenever I feel like it.  Unfortunately I tend to feel like it as early as 4:30 AM.  A late day is getting up at sunrise.

Part of it is habit.  I would get up on weekends back in the day.  First it was for rowing on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.  Later it was for running in the Valley Forge National Park, or to the trails for biking and Inline Skating.

I miss the Skating the most.  South Florida with its drivers that aim for anything out there including other cars is not conducive for putting any decent distance on inline skates.

Decent distance for me is 100 miles per week.  That is 162 km for the Imperially Impaired.

But the habit continues.

Lately it is a two mile, 3 km dog walk every day, rain or predawn shimmer.

That predawn shimmer can be quite beautiful.

I’m out there with my faithful side kick and shadow, Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) every morning and we cover practically the entire Wilton Drive.  It’s a coping strategy.  You see, Rack is quite fearful and having little traffic before 7AM, we’re out there to try to do some distance to keep in shape.   It works, but it also serves to allow him to get a taste of what he is afraid of without truly having a major panic attack.

The minor ones will trip you up enough anyway.  To get out and explore your own town at a time of morning when there are few others out there truly is a privilege.  On the one hand, you get a weird zombie movie or post apocalyptic vibe where there are tumbleweeds rolling down the main drag.  It’s dead quiet, and there are only a few  people up.  You can ignore them.

But there are the changes as you walk along.  The skies go from indigo to purple to blue.  You get a Subtle Hint Of Mauve, whatever color your eye translates that to be, on everything, and the buildings begin to glow.  The flowers begin to pop.  Later you hit the golden hour and the world wakes up.

So does the traffic, and that can be a distraction for a fearful medium sized mostly black dog.  He gets more insistent to get

Off The Drive and turn back into the neighborhood to head on home.  It’s a 45 minute or more wander.  Later walks are always longer.   You need to take care getting across that street that you didn’t when you left home.  People wave, the officers in the patrol car flash their lights or chirp their sirens to say hello, dog walkers emerge.

I am living my own version of the intro to the movie Roxanne as all the sudden I am smiling as a baby Beagle and a Pug are wrapped around my legs begging for attention and Rack is snuffling around the owners looking to be pet.

We’ll end up home soon enough.  Herd a few ducks, watch the last clouds turn from golden to white, and ponder whether the rain will come on shore before you get home.

Another dog walk at sunrise ends with the cool of the living room.

Hello!  I’m home!  What’s for Breakfast?

There Is Quite A Lot Of Wildlife Watching Me

I admit it.

Actually I admit it frequently.

I’m fascinated by the wildlife that we have here in South Florida.

Walk out into the yard and I’m being watched.

Lizards, literally everywhere.  I had heard there were a lot of them around, but coming from a “temperate” climate like South Jersey, I never really believed that they existed.  You just don’t see a lizard staring back at you from a Pin Oak tree in Cherry Hill, NJ.

Here, I walk to the front door and there are lizards sunning themselves on my driveway watching me back through the glass.

I’ve seen Muscovy Ducks on my front porch more times than I care to count, and I’ve taken to inviting them to leave.  They’re way too messy to be a good house guest.

They are perfectly fine on the water and near it, but the one night that I stepped onto my porch after sunset and found myself interrupting some seventeen of them making funky Duck Love and smelling the pungent aroma of what happens when you startle them, they needed to move on.

Did you know a bird will lighten the load before flying by making a poop?

Some other places have alligators in their swimming pool.  Key West, Florida has Chickens.  I suspect they are fine until they get to be a bit too populous, but people brought them there to begin with.  If you don’t want chickens, help yourself to the eggs they leave under your shrubs.

I wonder if they will trade a few chickens for some ducks?

They came there because their many generation removed grandparents were used in fighting.  That’s not at all allowed these days, but some did escape and settled in.

So I did get to see the chicken cross the road, even if I am still not quite sure why it did.

You end up with wading birds deciding that it is time to perch on your Jeep.  It doesn’t happen too often, they aren’t out there every day.  Luckily they are some of the more shy creatures out there.  If you get anywhere near them they fly off.

I have seen these Snowy Egrets, or what ever they are called, walk across lawns in long herds like something out of a Disney Movie.  They’re also the reason why I don’t tell the landscapers to spray the yard.

We get so many of them here that the grubs I see them going after are kept well under control.  Along with the Black Racer snakes in some rare occasions.

But we do get quite a few visitors.

In the morning, being awakened by the song birds that show up in my bottlebrush tree is a normal happening.

Some of them are louder than others.  And some are more insistent than others.

It’s also why I  have a habit of waking early, or at least an explanation.

Go on outside and have a look around.  The sheer volume of things that I see in my own little yard here in suburbia always has me wondering just what am I missing.

I’ve been told that there are scorpions here, and if I leave my boots outside for some strange reason, I bang them on the pavement to make sure I don’t bring any hitchhikers in.

I’ve found way too many lizards to count.  They do keep the spiders at bay though and that’s a welcome aside.

After all, a Banana Spider in the house at the size of a Volkswagen is a but of a shock.  For a while I was fortunate.  My old windows had another predator that took up residence in one small nook.  Then the house was upgraded to Impact Resistant glass.  Hurricane Glass they call it.  But it also took the nook away and my frog was gone.

I do kind of miss the frogs after all that is said and done.

Really, Frogs, since I saw three there the day before the nook was taken away a couple years back.  Funny how things like that end up in unexpected places.

At the moment though, there are the butterflies.  Sure, I have all of those creatures cohabiting with me, the dog, the parrot, and the humans in this house.  But the plants are all scattered with a dusting of butterflies in various stages of life.  They all will hatch as time allows them, and I am surprised that they spend more time in that chrysalis than I would expect.  After all, hanging on a leaf just means you’ll get spotted and the leaf could get brought inside for an incomplete photography project.

But I am sure that you all have heard that before, haven’t you?