The December Dilemma

Yesterday evening I took a walk around the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights on houses, Santas in front yards, and wreaths on front doors. Except there weren’t any. I asked myself if I had the right month. I checked my phone. Yep, I did. What happened to my neighbors? Then it hit me. Most of the neighbors that traditionally went wild with their lights and front lawn decorations have fled the area for warmer pastures. I miss them. They had a spirit of Christmas I didn’t so I lived on their enthusiasm. They brightened up the neighborhood and made us smile. We were proud people who basked in their twinkling lights. We could count on them every year. Now they were gone and took the spirit of Christmas with them. Santa’s sleigh and reindeer are now flying high over sand dunes. And no, I’m not going to take over the tradition. You’re lucky if I have a bow on my front door. Inside the house is another matter. I enjoy displaying  several trees in the living room, lights over the mantelpiece, and Christmas cards on a table.

So I gave up on Christmas decorations, and settled for the natural growth around the neighborhood. Here are some pictures.

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Calvin says, “Yeah, I miss those midnight walks. I tingled with excitement.” beagle

Christmas Craziness

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This is what I saw on my way to the office this morning. A beautifully decorated tree on the street, curbside. No lights. Was it waiting for a taxi, I mean Uber? Maybe since it was standing there in front of the building where Uber has its offices. If it was a gimmick, it worked on me. I asked a security guard and he said, “It was leaking so they brought it out.” Wait till the dog walkers and their pups notice this. A Christmas tree just for them!

The things one sees during the holidays.

I had coffee last weekend with a friend. I ran into a woman and her beagle at the entrance of the shop and bolted inside before she captured me. She will talk to anyone for ages about her dog and how much it’s costing her to keep him alive.  FullSizeRender (11)Something in the vicinity of $20,000. He pooch has two bionic knees otherwise he wouldn’t have made it. He’s now on expensive drugs for skin allergies. And the list goes on. Every time I’m at the coffee shop she’s there, so I suspect she goes every weekend in search of an audience. The man in the picture? That’s her husband. Notice the delighted expression on his face.

I thought this planter decoration was great. Different. Colorful. Something to use all winter long. It was lobby decor in a building that used to be home to the local post office. Now we have to hunt for where it moved to. No forwarding address.

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Calvin says, “I’m signing a DNR. Do not reconstruct. Me.” beagle

Bringing Up Pup

I run into some of the same people every morning on my walk from the Civic Center subway station to the office. I walk on the same side of the street because it’s cleaner than the other side. I’m also a creature of habit. And so are a lot of people I’ve discovered.

For the past two months I’ve encountered a man walking his Welsh Corgi pup. The dog is so beautiful he looks fresh out of a dog fancy magazine. Just looking at him makes me smile. I can’t help it. Like the Queen, I’m a sucker for a Corgi. I love the breed.

At first the six-week old pup didn’t have a clue how to behave on a leash and dashed in all directions all over the street with part of the leash in his mouth. I stopped and told the owner what a gorgeous pup he had. He grunted.  Welsh pup

Every week in the mornings I’d see them together and every time the pup wriggled and mouthed his leash. Mastering a straight line wasn’t in his arsenal of behaviors. And why should it? He’s a herding dog, and if you must put him on the street, he’s going to herd people.

On my way home one afternoon I saw them. I stopped and petted the beast.

“You’ve made my day,” I said.

“I’m glad we could do that for you,” the man said with  zero expression.

This has continued for two months. Each week  the dog gets bigger and more confident on the leash. Gone are the zigzag walks, sort of, and the munching on the leash, but now he strains and pulls out in front of his owner. What can you expect in only eight weeks?

This morning on my way in, I saw them coming at me as I crossed the street. I smiled. But this time the man smiled back.

Now that made my day.

Calvin says, “I’m hurt. How could you? That mutt has no nose like mine, doesn’t bay, and lacks the character that I have. What are you saying by this?” beagle

 

 

A Walk on the Wildside

I’m allergic to exercise.

If I can use an excuse, I will.

But this week Alf talked me into a hike.

He promised there would be lots of trees, a gurgling creek and I’d be kept busy with the camera.

You have to know, I don’t do hikes. The best I can do is a walk around my neighborhood.

I reluctantly agreed.

The minute I stepped out of the car I knew it would be okay.

The weather was cool – that’s a big plus – it wasn’t crowded – another plus – and it wasn’t uphill – that was huge. I don’t do hills either.

So off we went through an iron gate and into magnificent scenery. The blue of the sky hurt your eyes it was so vibrant. The trees showed off tender green leaves and white blossoms. The creek ran the entire trail singing it’s song by the side of the path.

IMG_0427An added bonus was the parade of dogs enjoying the walk alongside their owners. We saw French Bulldogs, Labs, Border Collies, Boston Terriers, German Shepherds, and an assortment of well-loved and well-worn mutts.

We found out you can’t let a French Bulldog off-leash because he won’t obey.

We noticed the Boston Terriers were on leash, too.

The other breeds were well behaved and would come when called.

That’s what you need on a hike, otherwise the area would be populated with dogs along with the cows and horses and in no time you’d have a howling wilderness.

IMG_0341We almost crushed a baby rattle snake wiggling it’s way across the path to the other side. Alf found a stick and picked it up, but quickly he jumped back. Small didn’t matter. That thing was coming after him. He dropped it to the ground, took a deep breath, and tried again. This time he was able to dump it into the tall grass and saved its life.

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All in all, I enjoyed myself.

Alf was relieved.

It made him hope I’d be willing to try another hike.

Maybe in another 10 years.

Calvin says, “Those French Bulldogs have character, like Beagles. Obeying is boring.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Wouldn’t Want to Walk in My Shoes

I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect pair of shoes to solve my foot problems.

I blame it on my last pair of tennis shoes. I wore them down and didn’t throw them away for a new pair.

But finding a new pair of walking shoes isn’t easy, I’ve discovered.  rainy-evening

I began my search in Berkeley, the home of seasoned walkers. I came away with a pair of Mephisto’s with a scandalous price tag. I have never spent so much money in my life on a pair of shoes and I was feeling quite guilty about it. I rationalized it by telling myself the shoes would outlast me in longevity and I could bequeath them to my daughter along with the African Grey parrot that will outlive her.

I walked in them for a few hours inside the house to test them out. Pretty soon my feet were on fire. Not a good sign.

I went back to the store and discovered I couldn’t get my money back, only store credit. So I came away with two pairs of shoes that were on sale for the price of the one pair I returned. There were two I didn’t really need – a pair of Dansko’s and fleecy bedroom slippers – but could use them eventually. I felt somewhat better but not a whole lot.

Then I realized the Dansko’s weren’t really walking shoes as much as standing-on-your-feet-for-a-long-time kinda shoes like chefs need or tulip growers in Denmark.

This time I tried several shoe stores in San Francisco. The sales personnel at one shop were used car salesmen in another life, trying to sell me shoes that didn’t fit my needs. The next shop didn’t have anything that remotely looked like it could support a gymnast let alone me.

But I hit the jackpot in the third store.

I came away with a pair of Jewish shoes. I should have known. I have Jewish feet. Of course Jewish shoes would fit me.

They’re Naots and they’re made in Israel.

It was as if a Jewish shoemaker had measured my feet and created a tailor-made pair for me.

And I didn’t have to pay as many shekels for these.

Calvin says, “I have English paws. If anything happened to them I’d need a trip to England for replacements.” beagle