Tag Archives: German shepherd dog

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


Dear Tom, this morning’s harvest~


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!

Jake saves the day! Or rather, the night!

So there we wuz, walking along, 6:30 p.m. Just me and the boy. We go out every night. It’s our thing. We walk through two dark (seriously dark) parks, a new neighborhood built in what was open space just two years ago, through an older neighborhood, back through another dark park and then home. Takes about 50 minutes.

It’s a short walk, our evening walk, because, as you know, Jake and I have already hiked for 2 hours earlier in the day. (I’m back up to 4 miles in the morning! Yay!) And that’s without counting an hour and a half of basketball. Here’s a segue – Yesterday we hiked along the river and I took a new trail. We didn’t get lost but we did have to backtrack 2 miles because the trail ended in a tidal marsh then picked up again on the far side. I would have needed hip waders to get through. I suspect both of us would have been stuck fast in the tidal mud. Coulda been nasty! But the trail was cool and we got up close and personal with two kites and a big old red shouldered hawk. I mean really close.

White tailed kite.

White tailed kite.

Red shouldered hawk

Red shouldered hawk

Where was I? Oh yeah… So anywhoo, a few nights ago, oh like maybe on January 10th, Jake and I were doing our neighborhood walk and he was on high alert. I didn’t see anything unusual, but his hackles were up and he kept growling and barking at shadows. He insisted upon walking ahead of me and peering around corners and hedges before I got to them. Was I worried? Not really. Maybe about a creepy guy but that’s about the only thing I ever worry about. Not that I’ve seen any but still… Oh, and before you say anything, yeah, I do vary my route and time. You know, keep it fresh, change it up, and make sure I’m not predictable.

On the evening of the 12th we were in the same neighborhood although we came by a different route. A runner had passed me along the way. He was dressed all in black and the only reason I could even see him on this dark night was because he was running with a small dog, also dark in color, except the dog wore a blinking red light on his collar. It blinked once with every step the dog took. That was how I figured out what it was– the rhythm of the dog’s steps.

However, here I was, walking with Jake along a relatively busy street – by busy I mean I might see a single car over a span of 20 minutes – on my right were homes along said busy street, up behind them is a hill leading to open space and I often see deer running right down the middle of this street heading from open space a few blocks away to the other open space behind the homes.  (Jake loves those deer!) Across the street on my left were the brand new homes built in what was, a mere 2 years ago, open space. This new neighborhood is nestled between 2 small remaining open space parks. Jake and I access both parks via this neighborhood.

So, got the picture? As we walked down this street, here came the runner, obviously on his return run. I glanced across the street, thinking this guy really needs to wear something reflective. You can’t see him at all. The only thing you can see is the blinking red light….

At that moment, Jake gave a snarl and launched himself up over a 4 foot retaining wall, barking like a maniac, dragging me into the wall where I came face to face with a mountain lion. Face to face as in we stared at each other across a span of 5-6 feet. Neither of us said anything. He was intent upon staying out of Jake’s reach and I was busy wrestling Jake back- took all my strength to keep him off that lion.

Fortunately the lion did nothing except turn around and jump a fence into someone’s backyard.

He was such a beautiful mountain lion! He was a pink-tan. A gorgeous cat. No, I wasn’t scared. He didn’t eat me so what’s to be scared about?

Cougar. He was almost this color but more pink-tan.

Cougar. He was almost this color but more pink-tan.

Seriously folks, I simply didn’t have time to be afraid. However, I am grateful Jake was paying attention because I was not. Jake caught us both off-guard. I believe the lion and I were staring at the same thing – the bouncing red light across the street. It was probably better that Jake and I stumbled into the lion instead of the runner, who, by the way, kept going. How he managed to ignore Jake’s barking and the growling was beyond me.

I walked past the house and stood beneath a streetlight – pulled out my cell phone and called a friend who lives just up the hill. In fact, her house backs into the open space. I told her what had just happened and suggested she call her neighbors. She said a mountain lion had been spotted on the hill two nights before. Aha! The pieces fell into place. That was the night Jake had been all weirded out.

So Fish and Game declined to intervene, which is actually okay with me. We do have many mountain lions around here. It’s pretty rural. However, the Fish and Game guy laughed when I told him what happened. He said, “We consider a near sighting 300-400 yards, not 5-6 feet.”

My daughter said, “Mom, you see so many mountain lions. I think the mountain lion is your totem animal.” I always thought my totem was a red-tailed hawk, but now I think she’s right. Most people in California never ever see a single mountain lion. My sightings have been numerous- maybe 2 dozen sightings in 21 years- 2 of them in my own backyard.

Here’s my hero chillin’ post-event:

Just another day...

Just another day…

Jake soldiers on…


I can make it... basketball is the everything!

I can make it… basketball is the everything!

So Jake has an ouchie. We’re not sure. Might be a toe, or his right rear foot, or god forbid, his right knee. But I don’t think it’s his knee because he can run like crazy after his throwing ball. And he’s not limping. But he’s sensitive about his right rear leg and he definitely doesn’t like to walk over rocky trails. He tries to stay on the grass. If he’s forced to walk on a rocky trail I’ve noticed he has a slight limp. Yet he soldiers on.

Even if he’s hurt his knee I won’t get him surgery. Our golden retriever, Rosie, had a knee repair years ago. The recovery period was horrendous. Would not want to put another dog through that unless it was absolutely necessary. Besides, I’m sort of thinking foot or toenail related because Jake doesn’t limp when he gets up after a nap, and he can still run and jump like a maniac.

Over New Years we were buffeted by 60 mph winds. Blew down every sticky ball in the city. My husband took Jake walking the other night. He said the dog suddenly acted like he’d been shot, was hobbling along like an old man. But he said Jake had this look of determination on his face– “I can make it. I can make it. Oww! This is torture, but I’m hanging in here. I can make it to the extraction point.” (Think Predator.) My husband checked his feet. He’d stepped on a sticky ball and it was lodged in the center of his right front paw.

sticky balls

Those sticky balls… This dog…