Thursday, March 28, 2013

Walter Eats Zucchini

We were going to be good:  don't feed the dog from the table, don't give him people food, don't overfeed him.


Whenever we dropped something on the floor, it was automatic: "Walter, come eat this."

When I'm standing at the kitchen counter, chopping vegetables and something drops, Walter is right there.

It's our joke to tell each other, "Walter eats (fill in the blank with whatever new thing he's just eaten)!"

When we first brought Walter home from the SPCA, he gulped down his food in seconds.  After about a year, he became more assured that he would always have food.  Then he started getting picky.  We tried several different brands of food and asked the vet what to do.  He didn't have anything wrong with him; he's just picky.

We have sprinkled his dog kibble with feta cheese.  He likes it.  We've put rice in with his kibble.  It doesn't matter if it's brown rice or white rice.  He's a Cajun dog.  He likes rice.

I bought some Armenian string cheese last week and gave him a taste.  He likes that, too.  Now he's an Armenian-Cajun dog.  I think he likes every kind of cheese we've given him.

We've tried different fruits and vegetables.  He likes apples, but not oranges.  Tonight, I gave him a slice of zucchini, and he came back for another piece.  Yes, Walter eats zucchini.

He doesn't like string beans.  He'll take them from me, but later, I'll find them on the carpet in the dining room.  It doesn't matter if he wants to eat them.  He'll continue coming back for more, and there will be a collection of string beans on the carpet, which will be discovered when I step on them.

Today, I made a fried egg sandwich with whole wheat bread.  Walter likes that, too.

A few days ago, Wayne said, "Walter likes strawberries!"

He hasn't gotten fat.  Two out of three's not bad (see the first paragraph)....

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Once you retire, people think that you have all the time in the world, and now you are available to give your time to them.

I beg to differ.

When I was working, I was always rushing to make deadlines, to see as many students as possible, to get from one school to another, to prepare lectures, to do research, to write papers, etc.  What time was left was used to run errands and do chores.  I tried to do something fun at least once a week.  Life was not leisurely.

Now that I'm free of those demands, I like to go at a much slower pace.  My schedule is full, but it's filled with what I want to do instead of what I have to do.  Big difference.

For instance, I used to have to wake up early and rush around in the morning to get to work on time.  Now, I wake up whenever I wake up - no more alarm clocks.  I sleep late because I can stay up late.  I lie in bed thinking, and gradually, I stretch and get up to start the day.  I greet all the animals, bless Wayne for having the coffeemaker ready so all I have to do is push the "start" button, and I sit at the kitchen table eating my breakfast, pushing the cats off the newspaper, and watching the birds that eat at the birdfeeder right by the hummingbird bush.  It's a lovely way to start the morning, in stark contrast to the way my mornings used to be.

I take an unhurried walk with the dog, work out at physical therapy, meet friends for lunch, go to art or music lessons, go grocery shopping, cook dinner, practice piano, finish exercising while watching TV, whatever I want.  This is what I worked for 35 years to be able to enjoy.

I am not bored....ever!

Monday, March 25, 2013


The cats always let me know when something is in the house, and by "something," I mean a lizard, wasp, beetle, snake (!), or other critter.  Violet, my long-haired black cat, was pawing at something on the carpet.  Because she has long hair, she sheds it everywhere.  I've learned not to pick up her hair before I see that it is actually her hair and not a spider!  That has happened before, so that's why I always look closely.

Well, she was not pawing at her hair - it was a big spider.  I grabbed a shoe and smashed it.  Then I got two tissues and picked it up, smushing it, for good measure, to make sure it was dead.  I threw it away in the kitchen garbage can.

A few moments later, I saw Violet pawing at something on the carpet by the foot of the bed.  Another big spider!  Same routine:  grab a shoe, kill the spider, get two tissues, pick it up, smush to make sure the spider is dead, and throw it away.

And again!  Another one, same size.  I was starting to get worried.  If I see one spider, no big deal.  But three big spiders...I began thinking that they must have hatched all at the same time, somewhere in the bedroom.

And then, a fourth spider!  This one was smaller than the other three, but it was the same color brown.  I thought to myself, "It's a good thing I don't have arachnophobia."

I don't know why spiders don't make me scream, but roaches do.  It's automatic - if I see a roach, I scream.  Snakes have that same effect on me, whether I see them in the house or in the garden.  I don't always scream for lizards, but frogs jumping on me make me scream.

I hope the spiders are all gone......

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Walter Makes A Break For It

If you're just joining this blog, my 60-pound dog, Walter, is very hyperactive.  Earlier this week, when we went for a walk, we stopped to visit with a new neighbor, and another neighbor stopped by with her dog.  Walter got rowdy and ran into my knee sideways - aaagggghhhhhh!!!

When I told my physical therapist, she said, "Get rid of the dog!"  I told her, I thought she would say that.  The physical therapy technician said he was going to make t-shirts that said, "Save Walter!"  I laughed.

I walked very slowly the rest of the week, and I didn't do much other exercise on my knee.  I used my compression sleeve, applied ice, and elevated it.  I thought it was getting a little better, but then my other knee started "snapping," kind of like when you tried doing splits and you pulled a groin muscle - remember the "pop" you felt?  Yeah, that's what it felt like in my knee.  Oy vey...

So now I'm wearing compression sleeves on both of my knees, elevating them, applying ice, and trying to take it easy with a little less exercise.

Well, this afternoon, I let Walter out in the backyard so he could run around.  The first thing he did was chase Linus, the orange and white cat, over the fence.  Linus was not very happy about being rushed out of the backyard.  Sorry, Linus.  If I had seen you, I would have given you more of a head start.

The next thing Walter did was scarf up the kitty kibble food.  Meanwhile, I cut a piece of iris leaf to use in making a cross.  There's a video on how to make a palm cross, but I thought I'd try it with an iris leaf.  It didn't work out too well, so I went back outside, and then realized Walter was missing.  It had been a while since I've done a perimeter check because we hadn't let him out in the backyard since he was going for three walks a day with us.  I found some loose fence boards, and I figured that was where he made a break for it.

I yelled for Wayne, and we hopped in his truck to look for Walter.  We'd just turned the corner and lo and behold, there was Walter, as happy as he could be, running in the street.  I jumped of the truck, and Walter came running up to me.  I snapped the leash on, and he jumped into the truck.  Thank You, God!

Wayne went to the hardware store as soon as we got home, and I gave Walter a bath.  He'd been running hard and had worked up a good  doggy sweat.

After towel drying him, I used the blow dryer to complete Walter's "toilette."  That's his favorite part.  He rolled around on the carpet to express his joy.

I went in the backyard to see Wayne's progress on the fence.  He works fast.  He'd already fixed the loose boards.  All of a sudden, I realized that the neighbor behind us had palms.  I don't think I ever would have seen them except that Walter made a break for it, and Wayne repaired the fence.

I cut off a palm frond, looked at the video online to see, step-by-step, how to make the palm cross, and it worked!  Here's the link:  
It's pretty easy with a palm frond compared to an iris leaf.

You see how God works all things together for good?  How marvelous is that?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tortillas on Fire

Wayne found a new way to heat tortillas.  He puts them in the toaster.  Usually, they don't get crispy enough the first time, so he toasts them twice.

Well, yesterday, we were sitting at the kitchen table waiting for the tortillas to toast.  All of a sudden, we saw fire leaping out of the top of the toaster.  Wayne jumped up and tried to put out the fire.  He unplugged the toaster and upended the toaster into the sink, where the tortillas continued burning until he doused them with water.  Meanwhile, I see that there's part of a tortilla on fire on the counter.  I grabbed the whole bag of tortillas, putting them on top of the flaming tortilla to squelch the flame.  The counter was only scorched a little bit.

The rest of the day was much calmer...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Where's Harry?

                                 This is Harry.

I was dragged from the depths of sleep this morning by his plaintive cries.  I knew it was Harry crying, not Henry, Violet, or Zoe.  Trust me, if you have cats, you can tell the difference between their "cat voices."

It was five in the morning, not my usual wake-up time, and I stumbled to the light switch, automatically covering my eyes.  I opened my closet - no Harry.  Then I opened the bathroom door, and Harry comes running out at top speed.

Poor Harry.  He wandered into the bathroom last night, and I didn't realize he was in there, so he spent the night in there until five this morning.  Lovely cat....

Friday, March 1, 2013

Mc Donald's in the Morning

I had to do a fasting blood test this morning, so afterwards, I went to McDonald's for breakfast.  That place is poppin'!

Have you been to McDonald's in the morning?  It's packed - mostly with white-haired people like me.  I figure it's a good meeting place, and it's a lot cheaper than Starbuck's.
Short Story

I wrote a short story last week - here it is:

Alligator Bait

The alligator was monstrously huge.  My neighbor down the street had told me she could hear the alligator grunting at night.  My husband had warned me not to walk on the levee next to the swamp during the spring and summer.  He said it’d be OK as long as it was still cold out.

Since my two knee surgeries last year, I’d been walking a little more every day, and now I was up to my usual distance of about two miles.  Sometimes, to vary my walking routine, I walked up on the levee.  My dog, Walter, liked having different things to sniff on the way.

Walter stood stock still when he saw the alligator.  He froze in pointer position.  I froze, too. 

I hadn’t realized the alligator was on the levee, and we’d walked too close for comfort.  I really did not picture my death certificate or Walter’s reading:  “Cause of death – alligator attack.” 

I’d watched enough National Geographic specials to know that the alligator killed its prey by dragging it underwater and doing the death roll.  When I wondered how I would die, I always thought, heart attack, cancer, pneumonia, car crash.  I never thought chomped to death by alligator.

I held Walter’s leash tightly and whispered, “Walter,” to get his attention.  He didn’t move his head.  I saw one ear quirk a tiny bit.   

Normally, when I see creatures in the garden, I scream.  I scream when I see frogs, snakes, devil’s horses, whatever.  It’s just my first reaction. 

I couldn’t even scream.  Walter didn’t bark or growl or whine. 

How to escape without either of us losing a limb?  We ran!  I haven’t done any running since I had knee surgery, but I ran!  Walter didn’t even try to investigate.  He was right with me.

The alligator ran, too.  Then I screamed.  I screamed and ran, and if Walter could have screamed, he would have. 

I did not trip or fall.  I have never been so fast in all my many years.  I did not turn around to look at the alligator. 

We got back on the street and kept running.  We ran all the way back to our house, and I unlocked the door.  We jumped inside, and then looked out the window. 

The alligator was on the front lawn.  I couldn’t believe he was there.  I couldn’t believe we had escaped.  I called 911.

“911.  What is your emergency?”

“There’s an alligator in my front yard!  He’s huge!  Help!”
“What is your address?”

I gave my address and waited.  It was only a few minutes, and I saw two police cars on the street in front of my house.  The police didn’t get out of their cars. 

Walter and I were looking out the window.  I saw the police on their radios, hopefully calling for backup that included an alligator wrangler.  The huge alligator just lay in the grass.  I was hoping none of the feral cats were in the vicinity. 

Ten minutes later, a man in a truck drove up and parked in our driveway.  The police were still in their cars.

The man in the truck looked just like I’d pictured an alligator wrangler.  He had on jeans and a t-shirt, baseball cap and white shrimp boots.  I thought, “He should have brought help!”

The man looked at the alligator.  He was holding some wide rubber band contraption, and I could just imagine that he’d jump on the alligator’s back and wrap the rubber band thing around its jaws.  And that is exactly what happened in the next 30 seconds.  God bless that man! 

What kind of brave heart does a person have to have to jump on an alligator’s back and tie up its jaws?  The alligator thrashed its tail back and forth and tried to roll over.  The man held on as the alligator rolled over and flipped itself upright again.  Now that its jaws were clamped shut with the rubber band, the police got out of their cars.  They knew what was going to be asked of them next.

The man grabbed the alligator’s clamped jaws, and the policemen grabbed the tail, and they loaded the alligator into the back of the man’s pick up truck. 

Walter and I walked outside and asked, “What are you going to do with the alligator?  Shoot him, skin him, and eat him?”

The man laughed, and he said, “Nah, this guy is huge.  I’m going to bring him to the alligator farm.”

I said, “That’s not like telling your kid, ‘Rover went to live on the farm,’ right?”

He said, “No, I’m really going to bring him to the alligator farm.  I haven’t seen one this big in years.”

I thanked him and the policemen for their help, and I blessed them.  So did Walter.