The dust has​ finally settled.

This summer has been a whirlwind.  We made an offer on The Perch (formerly know as Cloud Condo) on Memorial Day weekend.  It’s now Labor Day weekend and our lives have taken a marvelous 180-degree turn.

We still have some artwork to hang, a small chest of drawers to paint and then we need to hire someone to roll over these blindingly white walls.  But once that’s all done we will be totally MOVED!

From my seat, I can see The Central Avenue Trolley making it’s way South.  It will be my carriage to writing classes.  Because I no longer have a car.

We sold Gracie the Mini-Van.  We relocated to Saint Petersburg in large part to take advantage of the many places within walking distance.

A short list:  The Dali Museum.  The Holocaust Museum.  James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.  The new Imagine Museum.  We visited there yesterday. It’s all art glass.  Our neighbor works at Imagine and gave us a private tour.  Fascinating.  If you visit St. Pete, do yourselves the favor of–visit the Imagine Museum.

Not within walking distance, but on my bucket list, Deadly Rival Roller Derby!  I’ve only gone to Roller Derby one time.  It was a crazy blast.  Fans crowd the rink, screaming and cheering.  Look at the website.  There is a “Bruises Gallery.”  I’d post photos, but it’s not for the faint of heart.  Jim isn’t too eager to go to Roller Derby, but Brookie will.  She’s always up for a weird time.

In other news, I recently visited Bainbridge Island Washington.  Neice Katie is divorcing, moving from the marital home to a cute guest cottage on a friends property.  My sister, Marilyn and BIL Rob flew from Colorado to help her.  Since I’m so good at moving, having just done it myself, I offered my assistance.

 

Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 4.17.48 PM.png
Katie with Marilyn and Rob.

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 11.02.51 AM.png
This place will soon have a fresh coat of paint.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 11.02.38 AM.png
That’s me, unpacking the stuff Katie’s kids helped me wrap that morning.  They identified all the items they see mom using regularly.  My sister and I had a tricky time figuring out where to house everything in Katie’s new tiny kitchen.  Her nest is going to be darling.  Sort of a doll-house.

 

My flight from Tampa to Seattle was delayed for three hours due to lack of visibility at Seattle airport.  Forest fire smoke.  The wait was good because I read my book club novel–Lincoln in the Bardo.  Strange book.  Writer George Saunders imagination is massive. The novel is creepily creative and in parts hilarious.

While at airport gates I usually find myself glancing around and figuring out who I hope is seated next to me.  I noticed an obese woman in a wheelchair.  She had all sorts of flotsam and jetsom hanging from her seat, a bright green frog travel pillow draped around her neck and a small white “service” dog on her lap.  The dog’s vest read, “I am an emotional support dog.”

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 11.02.04 AM.png
Pixie is sharing the neck pillow. She is laying atop a wee teeny dog bed.

 

I thought, “Not her, please.”  Well, guess who my seatmates were?

Shirley.  And her small white dog, Pixie.  And her curly headed adult son.

I was on the aisle, Shirley and Pixie in the window seat.  Son boarded late, hauling along his guitar which he stowed in First Class.  It was decided he wanted the window seat.  There was a grand commotion as they shifted places.  Then, as Shirley stood bent over double, Son fished through her carry on and pulled out the following:

A small white blanket.  A tiny green plastic bowl.  A beige sit-upon that looked rather like bubble wrap. A black blindfold. A spoon.  That was used to feed Pixie Thai food Son had brought on board.  (I have an aversion to stinky food being brought onto airplanes.  I suppose I could write a letter.  Right after I write to the commissioner of baseball and demand games be reduced to five innings.  We recently went to a Ray’s game.  Four innings too long.  But I digress.)

Once Shirley, Son, and Pixie were finally settled she turned to me and said, “May I please have some water for the dog?  I forgot to buy a bottle.”  I filled the small green bowl from my $4.99 bottle of Smartie Pants water and Pixie drank happily.

Did I mention Shirley was big?  Really big. She spilled over into my seat whereupon I wedged myself into the far corner, and attempted to read.  But every time Shirley made a move her very large shadow cast my book into darkness.  Ultimately she wrapped her neck in the green frog, put on the blindfold and, using both armrests, went happily to sleep.

As we landed Shirley fished a tiny comb out of her Vera Bradley purse and proceeded to groom Pixie.

Once in a lifetime, right?

Not so much.  Guess who was across the aisle from me on my flight home?  Shirley, Pixie, and Son!

Once again there was a bustle of activity as Shirley got organized.  She piled Son’s lap with a mound of detritus from her carry on.  Then had to juggle Pixie as she attempted to put her bubble wrap pillow in her seat.

I offered to hold Pixie.  As I was attempting to take a selfie with the dog, the man seated in my window seat went NUTS.

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 11.02.18 AM.png
Failed selfie.  

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 11.03.02 AM.png
Crazy guy.

 

 

He ranted, “I know the rules!  I did the work!  You can’t hold that animal. No one can touch a service dog but the owner.”  The commotion brought a flight attendant running.  The flight attendant was unable to calm Mr. Chucklehead down.  So he called the purser.

Meanwhile, I stood with Pixie balanced in my arms and tried to sort through, “What now?”  Shirley quickly relieved me of the 2-pound burden.

Then, at Chuck’s feet, I noticed a black blanket.  The blanket moved.  Underneath was a full-size white poodle. The dog’s fur was groomed into the Mohawk atop its head.  I assumed it was also wearing a service dog vest, but the owner kept hiding the poor animal beneath the blanket.

At one point I made eye contact with the dog.  Chucklehead reached down to cover the animal’s eyes, turning it’s face away from me.  Clearly, no one is to interact with his service dog. He spent the entire flight watching home movies of the animal on his telephone.  Odd.

Now, on to exercise.  I’ve been taking the elevator down four flights and hiking back up the stairs.  I’m working my way up to get in shape for a November visit to Galena, Illinois.  Friend Jane lives atop a steep hill.  We walk everywhere.  If I survive the hill I will have to mount a perpendicular driveway followed by a long set of stairs.  Sandy, the showoff, climbs mountains, rides her bike, teaches Pilates and maintains she’s going to leave me in the street to die rather than lug me along.

So, off I go!

 

 

 

 

More Road Trip Adventures

As you know, we are back from Chicago and awaiting Hurricane Irma.  But I never recounted the rest of our travels. Please come along and back-track with me.

From Dallas, we drove to Liberty Missouri to visit friend JR and his crackerjack hilarious little Aunt Nancy.  JR does not like dogs. Bronson is the only dog ever allowed in his home. We intended to take our car on a planned field trip thinking JR wouldn’t want a canine passenger. Much to our delight, Bronson was welcome into JR’s automobile.

20170907_155232.jpg
Here’s the “service” dog with his head on my knee.

 

We drove to the neighboring town of Kearney and toured the birthplace of the notorious Jesse James.  Jesse James wasn’t your typical western bank robber.
Jesse James’ legacy included being considered an outlaw hero, beloved by the public. Stories about him seemed to make him out as a hero, rather than a criminal (which he was).

Carl Sandberg, the noted author of several biographies including President Abraham Lincoln, referred to James as the “American Robin Hood,” stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.
James was born and raised primarily in Missouri, a few miles from Kansas City.  James was born on the Kearney farm and originally buried there. He was killed by Robert Ford at his home in St. Joseph, about 30 miles north of Kansas City.

20170905_112044.jpg

20170905_111914.jpg

20170813_201102-2.jpg
Jesse’s saddle.

 

20170905_112215.jpg

Following Jesse’s murder, his mother, Zerelda, buried her son on their land. For the rest of her life, she slept facing the window so she could keep an eye on his gravesite. Afraid someone would dig him up kept a loaded shotgun next to her bed intending to shoot anyone who came near the grave.

20170905_112314.jpg

Zerelda opened the home to tourists, selling them small rocks off the gravesite for twenty-five cents each. Our guide told us we were welcome to take a couple. Mine now live on the family room shelf.

20170905_111958.jpg

20170905_111854.jpg
JR and Aunt Nancy

 

four.jpg

Jesse was later moved to a local cemetery to keep him safe.

Back at JR’s, he drove me into his pasture to feed his cows. It’s a funny slimy experience.

20170907_155520.jpg

20170813_200847-2.jpg

20170907_155611.jpg
The herd, led by Panda, chased us out of the pasture hoping for more pellets.

 

JR made us a home-cooked beef stew meal. (Store bought meat, not one of his pet cows.) We sat at the kitchen table overlooking the cow pasture and pond. Nancy kept us laughing with her description of the eighty-two-year-old gentleman who is pursuing her. She’s convinced he’s only after one thing.

 

 

Such Joy! We’re in Illinois.

I am so behind on my blog. We had excellent adventures in both Dallas and Liberty, Missouri. But those will take more thought and energy to write than I have in my weary fingers tonight.

Instead, I’ll give a quick rundown on our arrival in Illinois. We left Liberty Missouri this morning. We had our first ever Denny’s breakfast experience. Shame on me, I’ve been a lifetime Denny’s snob.

Denny’s was convenient and inexpensive, so we checked it out. Who woulda’ thunk they would have gluten free English muffins?  I have been avoiding carbs.  But GF English muffins were irresistible. I ordered mine “buttered in the kitchen.” The waitress, upon delivery, said, “The cook has never had anyone ask for a gluten free muffin buttered, only toast.” Huh? Butter is such great food group. Number two only after cream cheese.

Then we were on the road. We listened to Devil in the White City. I read it when it first came out. Jim rarely wants to read anything I read. Maybe he thinks I like “chick lit?”

I’m enjoying this book as much the second time around as the first. While absorbing the 19th century Chicago Worlds Fair and a whole lot of murder, I finished a scarf and began another.

We had to stop at Michael’s in Liberty for more yarn. This new scarf is for our friend JR’s girlfriend, Melinda. Plum, blue, cream. I’m looking forward to vintage button shopping in Chicago’s Andersonville and adding plum buttons to my collection.

We drove. We listened. We crossed the “mighty Mississippi” for the second time in one road trip. Pulled into our hotel about three p.m. We hadn’t had lunch, so we planned an early dinner. At about five I said, “Honey…can we eat soon?” Jim glanced at his self-winding watch and suggested we wait until closer to dinner time.

The self-winding had run down hours earlier. Jim was unaware of the time. I pointed out it was, in fact, dinner time.  I’m not a happy hungry person so Jim grabbed our “Miss Mamie’s” 10% off coupon ( after first checking out reviews) and we headed to dinner.

Miss mamie.jpg

It was yummy, and I have enough left over for tomorrow’s lunch. I have put a note-to-self on top of the cooler to remind us to take the chicken out of small frig in the morning. Along with Jim’s wee-teeny cinnamon bun. The pre-dinner bread basket included two. He gobbled the first before his meal; the second will be breakfast.

20170814_172011.jpg

20170814_175723.jpg
My lemon chicken.  Delish.

 

20170814_175814.jpg
Jim’s ribs.  He said mine are better, but I suspect he’s buttering me up.

 

Our waitress, Elaine, has celiac sprue. She felt my pain at missing out on the bread basket. But I had the marvelous morning GF English muffin, so for a celiac that’s splendid.  She loved our service dog!

20170814_171917.jpg

The weather here is a fabulous 80 degrees. The grass is soft, not the saw blades of Floridian lawns. I adore living in Florida. But not in the summer and never the lawn.

20170814_184412.jpg

Tomorrow Chicago! We already have two Tate babysitting gigs lined up. Life is stupendous.

Our Phony Service Dog

The fabric of my days is pretty consistent. Since my goal is to learn to write, I spend all day reading about writing, journaling, blogging and meditating.

Recently I also spend a percentage of the day working with Bronson, the wonder dog, on his obedience skills.

We adopted Bronson from the Colorado men’s penitentiary. He came to us wonderfully dutiful.  Then we proceeded to untrain him. That began when Jimmy began walking him off leash.   For more on that experience see this blog post– Introducing Bronson, our dog trained in the Colorado Men’s Penitentiary  

I wouldn’t be fussing about Bdog’s behavior if we didn’t have to pass him off as a service animal. No, he’s not a service animal. He is, however, Houdini. Bronson can and does escape from hotel rooms.

The first time it happened was in Georgia. We arrived at our La Quinta and checked in at the front office. Then we piled into Stella, my beautiful blue mini-van, and drove about half a mile. This La Quinta was a lot like a college campus. There were several “dorms.” Each room had an exterior door.

We fed Bronson, left him in the place and went to dinner. Following the meal, we stopped at the front office to ask a question. I waited in the car. Jim entered and exited through the automatic sliding glass doors. As he left, he looked down to his right side with astonishment. I peered through the glow of headlights and saw that there next to him was our Bronson!

Sure enough, Bdog had left our room, found the office, and wandered about. The employees said he had come and gone several times, roamed about, put his paws on the front desk. He was looking for us.

We drove back to our building. In the parking lot, we encountered an apparently drunk man. He took a glance at Bronson, then asked, “That your dog? Pretty darn smart dog you got there.”

He continued, “I found him wandering around, asked him where his room was. He led me up there.” (pointed) “I put him back in the flat three damn times and he kept right on escaping.”

The second time he absconded in spite of us rolling a desk chair in front of the door as we backed out of the room. We arrived home from dinner, and Bronson was in the reception area, holding court with employees.

The third occasion I went to fill an ice bucket and returned within minutes to find Bronson bounding down the hall, ears flapping, wearing a giant grin as if to say, “Here I am mom! On the way!”

So we can’t leave him in hotel rooms. Nor can he wait in a hot car while we dine. Therefore I went online and ponied up sixty-five dollars to get Houdini a service dog vest.

My daughter, Mo, is horrified we pass the kid off as something he isn’t.  She shouldn’t be so darned honorable.  I have to wonder how I failed as a mother.

Recently I checked how to have him certified as a service animal. It would take two years. Forget that. So I signed him up for obedience classes to brush up his skill set.

There are five dogs in his class. The handlers use little “clickers.” Each time the dog responds well to a command we “click,” then reward with a treat. He’s a rock star student.

I’ve only been asked once why I need a service dog. I responded, “I’m sorry. Will you repeat that? I’m hearing impaired.” By the time we head to Chicago, the kid will be totally believable as a guide dog to the deaf.

ski lift dog.jpg
Here he is on an Aspen ski lift.