Sunday the temperature was around ninety nine degrees and it felt like stepping into a blast furnace when you walked outside. A great day to sit inside a dark movie theater, munching popcorn and watching the latest movie, or visiting a museum, anything indoors out of the heat.
But the heat didn’t deter one man, our local groundskeeper. A very nice man that works hard to mow and maintain the city grounds. One of his tasks is to weed whack the weeds along the road edge to keep the weeds from growing too tall. I couldn’t believe he was out in the middle of the day wielding his weed eater attacking the straggly weeds on the other side of the road. He either doesn’t feel the heat like the rest of us or he has a death wish. Or maybe I’m just a sissy.
I walked outside to get the burgers off the grill and saw him walking up the road away from my boulder, weed eater in hand and thought surely he didn’t use the weed eater on my ornamental grass that I had just planted a month ago. Surely not. Just to be sure I walked down the yard, burgers in tow to check on my grasses. Sure enough he cut the grasses down all the way to the nubs. I wanted to chase him down, rip the weed eater out of his hands and club him with it. All I could think of was the hard work I’d done, digging up the grasses to replant, digging holes in the gravelly ground and replanting the grasses. Not to mention having to listen to the diatribe from the neighbor, that I placed the granite boulder in the wrong spot. I carefully watered the grasses until they were growing and looked like they would take hold. Now the grasses were mere stubs in the ground.
How could anyone mistake the tall graceful clumps of ornamental grass to common everyday weeds? Was he blind, using the weed eater as a seeing cane to clear his path? No, he just has no clue between the difference of a keeper plant and a noxious weed. The only reason our local groundskeeper is still walking without the need of a cane, was the look of horror and regret on his face, and his comment of “Oh s***” when I explained to him I planted the grasses on purpose that he just mowed down with his weapon of plant destruction.
He’s definitely not a botanist.
It’s hot and the dogs don’t want to go outside, but still want to play, hence the house has become their personal play zone. The living room is the wrestling ring, the bed is the trampoline for their jumping on and off point to get a better vantage point in the wrestling ring and the dining room is the challenge zone. That is where one of the dogs will square off on one of the other two issue a challenging bark, make a threatening lunge and then turn tail run to the living room and wait in the wrestling ring for a challenger to show up. Of course with 3 male dogs, even though they are all neutered, they are still male dogs, there is always a challenger. Then the fight is on, barking, charging each other from opposite sides of the room for a “vicious” chest slam and finally crashing to the floor for some serious neck chewing.
Orso will pull away jump up and run to the bedroom, leap on the bed and stand there barking at the other two. What a lame-o. If no one accepts the challenge, he will then leap off the bed and rush back into the fray, because it’s more fun to be chewed on. I don’t know why, I’ve watched them chewing on each other and it looks very painful. Grabbing the jowl or face with their teeth and pulling back, makes me hurt just watching. These three will do this all the time. Go figure.
After much barking, chest slamming and chewing all three will collapse on the floor panting thoroughly spent and happy, watching me right all the knocked over furniture. I think we need more dogs.
Mitch told me this morning that we were the same story, just different editions so you wind up with the same story content being on different pages. I asked him to explain what he meant. He said that when I ask if he’s happy his usual answer is that he’s okay. Okay to him is that yes, he’s happy and content. He went on to say that while his happiness level on a scale of ten, he is maybe a five or a six (perfect for him), my happiness level is closer to a nine or a ten. The reason for his declaration was that yesterday I had confronted him and asked point blank if he was happy because he had been walking around for almost a year now with this look of desperate misery. He has been more closed than normal and giving off people repellent vibes. I gave him the chance to clear the air and tell me up front what it would take for him to be happy. I’m a true believer in making yourself happy because no one else out there is going to. If you can’t be happy and content with yourself how can you possibly be happy in any kind of relationship?
I have to explain something about Mitch. Mitch is reserved, closed and mostly very stoic. A classic introvert. I think he was born old, an old soul is how his mother used to describe him. Me, I’m probably never going to grow up. Where is the fun in that? I on the other hand am open, happy most of the time and very demonstrative. An extrovert through and through. He was raised in a family that didn’t touch much, very little hugging, while I was raised in a family that hugged and kissed all the time. We told each other that we loved them (not my brother when he was kid – yuck!). That was a real challenge for Mitch, getting used to me touching and kissing him especially in public. In reality we are total opposites, maybe that is what attracted me to him, the quiet reserve. I wanted to dig and uncover the fire underneath all the layers. And yes there is a fire way down deep.
He went on to explain that he is very task oriented and focuses all of his attention and energy on the one task at hand. He does not multi-task well. That was why he was coming off distracted. It’s like a news reel in his head, total focus on the current project or problem. Right now it is the remodel of the dining room and before that, The Great Bathroom Remodel, where every forward progress was accompanied with two steps back. Maybe I’m working him too hard.
I know that I’m a challenge to live with and he certainly is too, but isn’t that half the fun, having to figure out what truly makes us tick?
We acquired AJ when he was two years old. He was a shy black lab with somber eyes that were slightly hooded, like a bird of prey. His flight instincts were and still are very strong. He was afraid of just about everything. We discovered very quickly that we would have work very hard to get him to overcome his fears of the unknown. AJ had never seen stairs and had no idea how to walk up or down them. He had never walked on hardwood and tile floors. The first week he was with us, we had to run a trail of throw rugs and towels throughout the house in order to get him from one side of the house to the other. People terrified him. He would hide behind me in order to get away from well meaning strangers. AJ was and still is the most beautiful hunting dog I’ve ever seen in the field. Graceful, fast and always in the right place to point, yes he’s a pointing lab, and flush the ever elusive pheasant. He is most alive out in the field working a hot scent.
Ten years later, AJ is one of our “official greeter” dogs, ready to greet anyone that wants to give away a few pets or ear scratches. His eyes are still soft and sweet when he looks at me, there is a complete devotion that I don’t think I will ever see in a dog’s eyes ever again. AJ loves me as much as I love him. He lays next to the bathtub when I take a shower and is a constant companion.
He has slowed down a bit over the years. His clownish antics are fewer and farther apart, though he will still wrestle briefly with Orso, but he can’t hang with the big dogs for long. AJ has some gray hair on his chin, but not that much. His hips are still strong and can jump in and out of the station wagon easily. His depth perception is starting to deteriorate. AJ struggles going from bright rooms to darker doorways, which breaks my heart, knowing that he is aging so I have to be grateful for the time I still have with him.
But not today. Today is AJ’s birthday. He turns twelve years old today. For breakfast we had peanut butter, one of AJ’s favorites and for dessert tonight, it will be frozen pumpkin yogurt pops. Even if AJ doesn’t quite get the reason for the special treats I do. AJ was and is truly a gift to me and I’ve been so lucky he came to live with us.
When we demolished and rebuilt our deteriorating retaining wall, we found a huge granite boulder buried under the wall. We paid someone to come and unearth it for us. He unearthed it easily and even placed the boulder in the exact spot I wanted it moved to. In front of our house is a flat area that people will park on to visit the people across the street. Digging ruts in our yard and never bothering to ask if we mind. I have long been contemplating various possible solutions to the problem. Landmines, punji sticks and curled razor wire seemed a bit over the top, but I was getting close to my wit’s end as to what to do. I had long considered a boulder but the size I needed was cost prohibitive, so it was very timely that we literally were sitting on the very solution to my problem and a legal solution to boot. Bonus! Of course when the man with the backhoe came out and moved the boulder for us the offending neighbors were out in force to watch with great interest. Questions were asked as to why I had it put there and to be polite I just said that it was the perfect spot. I would plant some ornamental grasses around it and how pretty it would look and yada-yada-yada. Nothing was said at the time about my rock putting a damper on our yard being a parking spot, maybe they hadn’t figured it out yet. I just played it off as being totally oblivious to anything but my new rock.
I decided to dig up some of my ornamental grass that has just taken over and is growing in places I don’t want it to, and replant in clumps around the back of the boulder to accentuate the rock. Plus it makes the rock look even bigger. Another bonus; rock looks bigger, takes up more space! Of course while I’m digging holes around the rock, a neighbor comes over to ask what I was doing. I looked down at the holes and the temptation was strong to tell him that I had hacked Mitch up and was burying body parts around the boulder, but I restrained myself and explained the obvious, since the grass was laying in clumps next to the rock. Just as I was finishing up planting the last clump, the neighbor turned and told me that I had put the rock in the wrong spot. I looked around, played dumb and said, “The wrong spot? Really?” Since I wasn’t playing into it, he had no opening to say that I’d ruined an awesome parking spot for anyone that wanted to use our yard as a Parking Spots R Us. He said that if I wanted to sit on the rock the only view I had was his house. I said that maybe someone would sit there to wait for a bus. The only bus that comes by is a school bus and it doesn’t stop here. He said that maybe he would sit on my rock. Again the temptation was great to say something really wicked and evil, but all I said was that he could sit on my rock whenever he wanted to.
But now I’m worried that if want to do anymore landscaping I’ll put it in the wrong spot.