Winter Blahs

I need a vacation. I need to win the lottery, so I can take a vacation. First I need to buy a ticket. That would be a good starting point. It’s January and I’m deep in the winter doldrums for some reason this year. It’s been cold and dreary, a typical Pacific Northwest winter and I long for white sandy beaches, aquamarine water and endless wine. I know, what a whiner, right?

I feel scattered, unsettled, kind of lost. I’m not depressed or anything, I just need a change, though I’m not sure what kind of change. I need a new focus, something that keeps me intrigued, something demanding of total focus and energy. A new challenge that is attainable, not such a challenge I would give up and accept defeat. That means rock climbing and skydiving are out, totally afraid of heights. Ballet is also out, no grace and that is not something I will ever learn. I guess walking on a high wire would be out too, (no grace and fear of heights) a double whammy.

So, what can I do and what are my interests? Wine, dogs, photography, gardening, hiking, to name a few. Writing, but of late I’ve not been writing either. I’ve been avoiding even looking at my blog sites. I’ve haven’t even done a mediocre job of reading other blogs that I follow. For that I apologize. My fellow bloggers give me many reasons to smile, and I haven’t been giving you your due.

But I decided to sit down and write a somewhat rambling piece that though is far from my best work, it has been a bit cathartic. It hasn’t cured my doldrums or given me any epiphanies, it’s something of a journal I guess, but at least I’m writing again. Maybe I just need an adventure to get me writing again. Or a really great bottle of wine to drink, then take the dogs on a walk.

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We Really Need to get out More

I’ve never been one to go out and wander the shopping malls, even before moving to the Pacific Northwest. Now I venture out even less, not being very familiar with the area. Plus, traffic sucks, no matter what time of day or day of the week. Amazon is my new best friend for almost everything. I still go to the grocery store, but I don’t just go out for a day of shopping. Sad, huh?

Today I needed to go to a certain store for some Christmas shopping, can’t say where because it’s Christmas, but I will say it is in a mall. Mitch and I drove over to the closest mall and through google on my phone, I located the approximate location of the specific store, but not being very familiar with the layout of the mall, we weren’t sure where to park. We drove around looking for a likely entrance. Being creatures of habit, we parked by one of the Macy’s entrances and walked into the store.

We wandered through Macy’s looking for the exit out into the mall, but couldn’t find any exit. We walked the entire circumference of the store and there was no exit. We didn’t dare ask for help and look like total morons, so we kept walking and looking in every corner for a way out. We finally decided to take the escalator down a floor in hopes of a way out into the mall on that level. One floor down and we started circling the lower level, reading the signs hanging from the ceiling and finally found the sign that said, “exit to mall”.

I was never so glad to leave a store in my life. I thought for sure, we had been teleported to the “Bermuda Triangle” of Shopping Malls. Once out in the mall, we started walking toward the middle of the mall, (we hoped). At one point, Mitch said he was ready to read the mall store finder to see where we needed to go. And I answered, “Sure, but I haven’t seen one of those signs, yet either.” We turned to the left for fun and wonder of wonders, the store we were in search of was up ahead on the left.

We laughed so hard at ourselves, and decided that we really do need to get out more.

Ticklish

You know, when you scratch that “sweet” spot on a dog and his leg will scratch involuntarily along with you. That’s what I call ticklish on a dog. I think every dog has at least one spot where he is ticklish. Do dogs get more ticklish as they get older? Well lately it seems Orso has gotten more ticklish spots on him. It fact almost his whole body is one giant ticklish spot.

He will be lying on the floor and rub his chin on the rug then his back leg will go spastic scratching at the rug. Even when he scratches himself and hits a ticklish spot, his leg will get going and twitch nonstop. His throat is very ticklish and when I scratch anywhere around his collar his leg gets going. His belly, his back and hips are all on the ticklish list now. I think the only spot on him that does not get his motor running is his ears.

When his back leg gets going you want to make sure your hand is nowhere near his paw. He has great big nails on his huge paws and he scratches with great zeal. I’ve come away with a bloody hand more than once.

Last night I was awakened from a sound sleep with something shaking me. At first I thought, “So this is what an earthquake feels like.” But no, Orso was trying to scratch an itch that was on a ticklish spot, and his back leg was thumping away pushing his hips into my back shaking away at me. First I was relieved that the house wasn’t going to collapse around me, then I was irritated that now I’m wide awake at three-thirty am.

What a way to start the day.

Chasing Waterfalls and the Coast

A couple of weeks ago we decided to buzz over to the Olympic Peninsula and search for some waterfalls. There is a waterfall road trip that loops highway 101 starting on the east side of the Peninsula goes north to the Strait of Juan De Fuca and turns south to drive along the Pacific Ocean coast for a while. We took the dogs, so we couldn’t go into the National Park, but we could go into the National Forest, so we drove west and found a couple of waterfalls in the Olympic National Forest, then drove up the coast and found a beautiful beach.

We barely scratched the surface and as soon as we have a couple of days to explore we’ll go again.

Adding to My Wellbeing

Well, maybe not so much. All the wisdom out there is that pets add to your wellbeing. Our pets are treated like family members, they eat premium dog food, carrots are their treats, along with homemade frozen yogurt pumpkin pops. I walk them at least three times a day, every day, rain or shine. I am the one out walking the dogs, in gale force winds, pouring rain and frigid temperatures. I’m the one everyone looks out their windows laughing at while they are warm or cool snug in their homes. The dogs even sleep in our bed with us, taking up the lion share of the king size bed.

But I’ve noticed a trend, maybe even a sinister bend by the dogs. I think they may be plotting against me. Lately on our walks, Royal has started walking in on me, forcing me to either move to the left or tripping over his legs. Royal keeps a watchful eye out for squirrels and will either stop or move in the direction of the squirrel with an abruptness that leaves my right shoulder in an odd angle. Orso is always lagging behind with me dragging him along a full six feet behind me. The only time he gets excited is if another dog shows up and then he tries to drag me over to the dog and its’ terrified owner. I am then tasked with the thoroughly enjoyable job of stopping two hundred pounds of dogs moving away from me – one short woman that has a lot less muscle mass than them.

Just yesterday, we had just come back from our afternoon walk and was standing in the driveway, when I noticed the black lab that lives down the street walk out of his driveway and as I took a step backward to see if he was on his way over to our house, Royal stepped behind me and as I almost stepped on him, I jerked away, yes you know it, I fell backwards hard on my rear end. I came really close to whacking the back of my head on the driveway, not that it would have caused much damage, I have a hard head. But it was jarring, none the less. Mitch turned around and looked at me sitting on the ground and asked why I was down there. I just turned and looked at Royal who was standing there with a slight smile on his face. I swear I saw a smile, I think he did that on purpose.

Oh yes, our pets enrich our lives and add to our wellbeing, and because I am enrolled in Aflac, I get rewarded every time they send me to the emergency room.

My Heartfelt Plea

Sorry, I’m not feeling funny or witty today. I am totally without any of my warped sense of humor and sarcasm. Instead I’m writing to make a plea straight from the depths of my soul. I don’t get on my soapbox very often, because no one wants to read the rantings of people today and it seems that there is always someone ranting about something. And to be completely honest, no one cares about all the opinions out there. But once in a while, I can’t stop myself.

Today while walking the dogs, a very large pickup truck drove past us. It was a truck I’d not seen before, it was raised with a lift kit and had huge exhaust pipes coming out behind the cab and went straight in the air. He was driving slowly, which was a plus, but wouldn’t move over even a bit to make room for us. I had to step off the road and into the ditch, so we wouldn’t get knocked off the road. He went on by and I said my normal caustic statement about thoughtless morons.

As I walked on up the road I heard the truck getting louder and turned around to see that he had turned around and was heading back our way. I kept the dogs close as he drove past and that’s when it happened. He had a dog tied up in the back of the truck and the dog wanted to meet us, so he jumped up and out of the truck to come over to us. The line was long enough allow him to jump out and hit the ground, get whacked by the oversized tires, rolled under the truck and came to a stop in front of the tire. If the man hadn’t stopped, he would have run over his own dog.

I stood there and held onto my dogs calling out, “Oh my god!” The man opened his truck door, hopped out and walked back to the dog. He grabbed the dog by the harness and threw him back into the back of the truck, saying, “Stupid dog.” He turned and looked at me and said, “I’m sorry about that.” I called to him and asked if the dog was okay, knowing he didn’t care. The man just climbed back in the truck, shut the door and drove off. He was just far enough away that I couldn’t get the license number.

I stood there in shock, wanting to cry, wishing I could save that dog more than anything else in the world, but knowing that wasn’t going to happen. My heart broke a bit at the indifference and lack of humanity in the man.

So here is my plea. Please if you have a pickup truck or know someone that does, don’t ever put your dog in the back tethered or untethered. If the dog can’t go in the cab, he should be in a crate that is securely fastened to the back of the pickup truck and if that isn’t an option, then leave him at home.

I know I can’t save them all, but if I can make one person rethink putting their dog in the back of a pickup truck, then I guess that’s something.

I’ve Learned My Lesson

I’ve always loved gardening, planting plants and seeds then watching them grow. Playing in the dirt is relaxing and hard work at the same time. Dirt and plants don’t talk out loud to you, don’t ask questions or care how you look and are just content to have you pay attention to them. Since moving to the Pacific Northwest from the Midwest, I’ve learned a lot about the way plants grow here. I’ve read books and talked to Master Gardeners. I’ve paid attention to the weather patterns, discovering that while everyone believes it rains every day here, it doesn’t. Our late falls, winters and springs are wet and rainy, but come summer and the tap turns off, this year with a vengeance. At present counting, we are at fifty-six days with no rain, a new record. I decided to plant a huge raised bed garden for vegetables and fruits.

I drew up plan for a large garden area with eight raised beds, four – five foot by ten foot raised beds and four – five-foot square raised beds and Mitch built them. Pretty ambitious I know, but I hadn’t had a garden in two years and was itching to play in the dirt. Well I got my wish and boy did I ever get things to grow. I was warned by experienced gardeners to be very careful when planting, because everything grows well here.

I planted one of the small beds with cucumber seeds and at first, I was disappointed at the small spindly little plants. Silly me, I just needed to be patient. The raised bed is overflowing with a tangled web of cucumber vines, hiding cucumbers that seem to grow over night.

I planted one of the large beds with strawberry plants, almost all came from my neighbor, and now I must go out every day and stick the runners back in the bed, because they’ve covered the bed and are trying to colonize my other beds. I planted three rows of green bean seeds and have already picked four buckets full of green beans and more are growing.

I bought a seed packet of zucchini seeds and a packet of summer squash seeds. Growing success is a gross understatement, because I have one five foot by ten foot raised bed covered from end to end with three and a half foot tall plants and am picking five and six zucchini a day, that doesn’t include the six to eight squash I find hiding under the giant leaves every day.

I have been scouring Pinterest and Facebook for zucchini recipes. I have been thinking of writing a cookbook and now I can write a whole chapter on just zucchini and squash recipes. I’ve frozen six bags of zucchini and squash, have learned to make zucchini spaghetti, zucchini tots and zucchini fries. I swear my hair is getting a green tint to it.

I’ve given so much zucchini and squash away to my neighbors that now if they see me coming with or without anything in my hands, they run inside and close the curtains, until I go by.

I’ve learned my lesson, next year I will buy two zucchini plants and maybe one squash plant. You don’t have to hit me over the head with a zucchini.