Tag Archives: active dogs

Dear Tom, et. al, An Update.

Still recovering from knee surgery. Unfortunately in addition to nerve damage my body is reacting to the metal and cement used in the knee with resulting severe inflammation and swelling. Sets my recovery back months, as in I am now, at nearly 9 weeks, where I should have been at 3-4 weeks.

On the bright side I was cleared to drive this week. Yay! No longer trapped in my house so I’m a little less stir crazy. You really don’t want to know how stir crazy I had become!

On the less bright side walking around a grocery store is about my limit for the day. So sad!

It’s a good thing I’ve had the Olympics to watch, despite NBC’s pathetic (and I do mean pathetic) coverage.

I’m also watching Fearless on Netflix. I decided to download free Netflix for 30 days so I can watch Fearless and Stranger Things. Fearless is an 8-part documentary about the PBR (bull riding) and Stranger Things is unusual horror, as in I can handle it horror- thoughtful horror- as opposed to creepy nightmarish uncanny valley horror.

So, it’s back to icing, elevating, and… oh… Jake taught himself to fetch my cane! Such a cutie pie!

XOXO! Julia

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Dear Tom, this morning’s harvest~

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Garlic. Purple potatoes. A couple leftover spring onions.

Yesterday I harvested asparagus, three bunches of celery, and a big bunch of broccoli. Now that the garlic is out of the ground I’ve got to get the clover-stuff out of the bed. Last year I purchased plants from a new nursery and unfortunately contaminated one entire bed with this yellow clover-ish weed. You can see some with the garlic.

My four baby robins fledged! Now a pair of mockingbirds have moved into the robin’s nest. They spend all their spare time begging for worms (making sounds like a puppy) and attacking Jake. Unlike the great horned owl, he can safely ignore them.

Yesterday we went to a beautiful beach. Jake had a wonderful time. He ran around like a maniac, then he and Oscar took a three mile hike. Unfortunately my climbing days are over until I’ve had surgery and rehabbed, so I walked along the shore and collected semi-precious stones. Then we drove over the Golden Gate into San Francisco to meet our youngest and her boyfriend for coffee. He lives at the very top of one of those hellacious hills and yes, I drove. Driving up the hills scares me to death. I always feel as if my car is going to flip upside down. Down doesn’t bother me. But believe me, I’d rather be driving than sitting in the passenger seat. I remember the first time I rode in the passenger seat up one of those hills – I was nineteen years old. I insisted the driver stop and let me out. I walked up the hill.

Last night we got lost in the mountains outside of Lafayette, looking for a retirement dinner. One of my husband’s managers is retiring after 40 years. The event was held in the middle of the wilderness (not kidding) at the end of a single-track road after we’d wound our way through a maze of country roads. Reminded me of the roads in Scotland but without the necessary turnouts. We had a hill on one side and a cliff on the other. We somehow managed to make it there without encountering another car (3 miles). The way home was another matter. All I can say is at least we were on the hill side, not the cliff side.

I only mention this retirement dinner because it made me sad. This woman has dedicated her life to her job. She’s married but has no children and only one sister. Her co-workers are both her family and her closest friends and now she’s leaving them.

There was a photo retrospective running on a loop on a big screen television.

Oscar’s co-worker is a happy healthy 70 year old woman. She radiates warmth and intelligence. But I experienced this weird disconnect as I watched the slide show. I’ve only known her for a couple years and I know little of her history. I was, to be frank, stunned. She was a glamorous young thing. She had model looks, kind of a combination of Bridgette Bardot and Twiggy. I had this completely inappropriate thought – If anyone ever makes one of these retrospectives of me I’ll come back from the grave and kill them. I think it’s kind of the same reason movie stars don’t watch their old movies. We’re young and then one day we get old. It ain’t always pretty.

Time does fly, doesn’t it?

XOXO! Julia

 

Dear Tom, Remember that skunk?

Well, she apparently lives under our deck and she has a litter. I can’t fence her out of the yard away from her babies. I just can’t do it. So we’re learning to live with the situation. At least there is no odor. When they babies grow up and everyone leaves, we will figure out a way to close the gaps along the sides of the deck.

In the meantime, we are in the midst… wait, let me clarify. I am in the midst of rebuilding our broken fence (the rotting areas of the back fence and side fence the skunk uses to get in and out of the yard)– so I’ll have to cut a couple holes in a couple old boards. I’ll replace the boards later. I’d rather cut holes than have her rip down the new boards or dig beneath them.

I say ‘I‘ because Oscar is out of town and has been for two weeks. Which allows me to get stuff done. No offense, Tom, but husbands, aside from you, say they’ll complete a project yet somehow never get around to starting it. At least that’s been my experience. Of course in this case it’s just as well. As my plumber once said – “Do I diagnose your husband’s patients??? Well tell him to keep his hands off my toilets!!!”

I got new carpet installed in his home office. (OMG that carpet was soooo awful!) I’m fixing a broken coffee table- yeah, me, as in I’m doing it myself- so I can move it (can’t move it with a broken claw foot, it’s too heavy and I don’t want to break it worse) along with all the other furniture in the family room in order to replace the big threadbare throw rug. And then I’m tackling the hardwood floors. I’ve been studying up on how to refinish worn areas.

Yep. Jake and I are going to town. Speaking of Jake…

His robins are back, in the same nest. Mama robin has laid at least four eggs. I’m so busy feeding her worms I have no time to write. Boy, does she have it good. Since robins have a relatively short lifespan, I figure giving her and her babies a leg up is the least I can do. She sits on the nest, flutters down to the worm feeder for an occasional bite. Gets a drink out of the bird bath, maybe takes a plunge or two, and then heads back to the nest. She never has to leave the yard. Sweet. She’s even willing to share the feeder with the towhees, who have babies of their own, and two pairs of mourning doves. She’s pretty nasty to the blue jays though. Can’t say I blame her but I do miss their squawking.

What does this have to do with Jake? He hangs out in the yard with the birds. They love him. He keeps the predators at bay. None of the songbirds fear the dog. They hop all around him, preening, feeding, bathing, drinking. He likes birds. Now the squirrels… they are another matter altogether. And that skunk… Jake has grown wary.  He won’t go outside at night unless I turn on all the floodlights first. And even then he sniffs the air before he sets one foot on the deck.

He’s been a great companion in Oscar’s absence. Not hyper. Rather, he’s showing a lot of self-control. I think it’s because I’m pretty chill while Oscar is pretty loud and sporty, (kinda like Sporty Spice) and he gets him revved up.

Yesterday Jake and I had to wait on the side of a trail for thirty minutes. We happened to hit a bend in the river trail the same time as a kids’ 5-K. He and I needed to cross right at their turnaround point. There were so many participants, and the trail is so narrow, we were forced to wait until the end of the race. But you know, he just lay there like an angel and every single kid was cooing and fawning over him. Fortunately he likes kids. But if you’re an old lady in a floppy hat, beware. Jake hates nothing more than a floppy hat. Fortunately we didn’t see any floppy hats yesterday, although today we did see an old lady wearing an enormous floppy straw hat and, of course, even though she was across the road Jake had to bark at her.

Well, I’ve talked long enough. Will chat again soon. Love, Julia XOXO!

Dear Tom, strange midnight doins’…

Here’s what happened last night~ So I’ve been sleeping in one of the other bedrooms because Oscar has a horrible cough. Yes, he got super sick ten days before I left for my father’s 88th birthday, and yes, he’s still coughing like a maniac. (Doctors don’t go to see doctors.)

Anyway, this particular bedroom juts out over the backyard. A tree grows almost into the bedroom. I can open the window next to the bed and step right out into the tree. If there was no screen, the tree would actually be in the bedroom. It’s kinda nice. I leave the shade open so I can watch the birds in the morning.

(When the kids were younger we taught them that the tree was their escape route from the second floor in the event of a fire.)

So last night I woke up. At 4:11 a.m. This weird noise woke me. I can’t quite describe it, but it was loud enough to wake me. Didn’t really disturb me much though, because it sounded like it came from the creek on the other side of the main road behind our court. Was a low-pitched sort of howl or growl.

I turned over and closed my eyes, ready to drift off, when I heard it again. This time, it was louder. Sounded like it was coming from my court, near the front of my house. A definite low-pitched growl or howl.

I thought – “Huh.” Once again, I turned over and closed my eyes. Not ten seconds later I heard it again. It sounded very close, as though it was coming from the side of our house near my garden. This time I sat up. I could hear the dog rustling around in the hallway outside my door.

The next thing I heard was this awful hellaciously loud low-pitched howl/growl from right beneath my bedroom window, directly under the tree. The dog began barking up a storm and launched himself down the stairs. I could hear him throwing himself at the back door.

I turned on the bedroom light, left the room, flipped on the big overhead hallway lights, called for Oscar- who did not answer as in he did not wake up- went downstairs into the kitchen and family room, flipping on lights everywhere.

Jake was desperate to get outside. I turned on the backyard floodlights and opened the back door. The dog leaped from the door to the edge of the deck in a single bound, and he made a beeline for the redwoods and the back fence. As I watched, he proceeded to pace up and down the back fence line for fifteen minutes, his nose right up against the fence. You know, back where we have that easement.

Finally Jake pranced back to the grass, hackles raised, tail in the air, and peed. At last he came inside.

He and I both went back upstairs. I turned off lights. Oscar still slept. I went back to bed and heard nothing else all night long.

I figure it was either Bigfoot or a couple of mating mountain lions. I know what raccoons sound like. Not a raccoon. Not a coyote. No way. Too loud to be bobcats. And a bear couldn’t escape that fast and besides, it would probably break the fence.

Again, all I can say is, “Huh.” I’m stumped.

California – we coexist with wildlife. As long as I have Jake I don’t mind a bit.

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My Hero.

 

 

Dear Tom, life interrupted…

Oscar is sick with the flu, as in influenza. Thus Julia, oh she of the 25 pound leg cast, must don two plastic bags and a cast boot and hobble along with the dog in rainmaggedon. Twice a day in rainmaggedon. (Pay no attention to the doomsayers, those who insist the drought is not over. (Bull cookies.)

I’m on my third cast- keep getting them wet. I ordered a special camo walking bag- the bottom is tacky. Supposedly it will hold up. Well, I do hope so because plastic garbage bags break and leak, even if they are inside the cast boot. This special walking cast cover was supposed to arrive last Wednesday. Well I say-

It’s like Job or the ten plagues or something. No. Wait. Obviously those two examples are way worse than what I’m experiencing. Give me a dark comedy analogy and I’ll make it fit the circumstances. At least I have him!

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My embarrassed assistant.

XOXO! Julia

Dear Tom, I miss you!

I heard from Ishbel the other day. She’s been on my mind, although I know she’s all right. She was married to you, after all, so I know just how tough she is!

But I know your family misses you. I miss you.

Here’s all the news that’s fit to print~

I’m still pretty much a mess. But there are worse things than broken things. As you well know. I did take Jake to the beach last week. The surf was so high we couldn’t do much beach combing.

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Also a woman wearing a pashmina tried to hit Jake with a ball thrower. Seriously. She was at the far end wearing her blue pashmina (I hate pashmina’s because they are so pretentious) and white slacks. She was using her ball thrower to dig a hole in the sand with her golden retriever who was, as this is an off-leash beach, off-leash.

Jake bounded up to them, all happy, his entire body wiggling like a puppy and a look on his face that said, “Hey, wassup? What y’all doing over here?”

Her dog just looked at Jake, but the woman started swinging that ball thrower at him. So I yelled, “Hey, lady, knock it off! Don’t you dare hit my dog!” I called Jake back to me. He came right away, with a look that said, “Is she crazy or what?”

She’s lucky he didn’t bite her or grab her ball thrower and run off with it.

So I yelled to her, “If you’re going to have your dog off leash you can’t be swinging your ball thrower at other dogs when they approach.”

Two other dog walkers witnessed the incident and turned around, walked the other way, as did Jake and I. This is only a spit of a beach on the best day. The surf was so high there wasn’t much walking to be had. Unfortunate. But a beach is still a beach!

Fortunately for Jake, we discovered a new park in Napa. It’s off the beaten path. There are no cars, and he can be off leash. He made a new friend, one whose owner did not swing his fishing pole at Jake.

My Vionics – shoes to help plantar fasciitis. I think they are super cute although since it seems I have a stress fracture of my left heel as opposed to plantar fasciitis they really aren’t helping a bit. Gotta see a man today about a cast…

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Oh… And you’ll be both pleased and disconcerted to note that my youngest (in the center) went skydiving for her birthday. She is now certified. Whatever that means. I’m trying not to look. Seriously. Can’t look.

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Her instructor is Israeli which makes me feel better. Nevertheless…

Okay. I’m done. Gotta go swimming before I get a cast. Oh I so don’t want another cast…

XOXO! Love you, Tom! Julia

 

 

 

Dear Tom, Bigfoot struck again!

Seriously. No frakkin’ shite.

I’ve been keeping quiet about this because y’all will think I’ve lost my marbles. Well, maybe I have…

Two weeks ago, about 7 a.m., I went out into the backyard. I was alone. Hubs had left for work and the dog was already in the car. Usually the dog goes out first thing in the morning, but that particular morning he refused to go outside and instead wanted to get into the car to wait for our hike. Thus I figured I’d take the opportunity to feed my wild birds. It’s hard to feed the birds with the dog around because he barks like a maniac.

The setting:

My backyard. We have a fenced backyard. A line of majorly tall redwood trees. A six foot wide easement behind the fence that used to run all the way from the main road to the end of our block, opening into what used to be an orchard. On the other side of the main road is forest, a creek bed, and more forest. Both our gates are padlocked. Locked. No one can get in without either climbing over, in which case Jake would go after him, or breaking down the gate. Which would make a whole lot of noise.

It was a cold morning. Maybe 28′. Frosty. I went out to check my mealworm feeders first. When I walked back to the deck I spotted this footprint on the first step leading up to the deck~

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I did a double take. That is not my foot. Besides, as you can see, I was wearing flip-flops.

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If you’d been there, you’d actually have seen that the foot was much wider than mine, (not to mention the fact that my little toe does not look like that!) and you would have observed that the person/thing only placed a portion of its foot on the step. I couldn’t find any additional footprints because the deck itself was wet.

I freaked out.

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My husband said- artifact. I said- artifact of what? A foot?

And it gets even weirder. Just last week I found two footprints on the step leading up to the deck~ a right foot and a left foot, huge footprints. I ran to get my husband and grab my phone so I could take a picture. Unfortunately as we both ran outside, Jake ran out with us, tried to take the turn too fast, crashed onto his side, and rolled right over the footprints (the deck was icy) and he smeared the prints. We could see them, but not clearly. Not like the print above. Jake smushed the toes. Here’s what remained after his smears had dried somewhat and the deck had thawed- you can see the dog hair where he fell:

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So what am I to make of this?

A. How did a person manage to climb over a six foot fence, at night, yet make no noise whatsoever? Because German shepherds do bark… at everything.

B. Why would said person be walking about barefoot when it’s cold and wet outside? We do have winter here…

C. Why are these feet so dang big?

D. Why me?

In other news, we went to the PBR in Sacramento- OMG! It was soooo fun!

Miss you, Tom! XOXO! Julia