About A Dog

I seem to have a lot of stories about dogs, (see here and here and here) considering the fact that I don’t have any pets. Not anymore. I used to have a bird, but that was a long time ago. Her name was Sloopy, but she is a story for another time.

Last night I was driving home. As I turned onto my street, there was a pickup truck pulled over on the side of the road, with his flashers on. It was strange. I have never seen anyone stopped on my street, it’s just not that kind of street, poor visibility, et cetera. I swung wide to pass him and turn into my upper street, and I glanced over as I passed, just to make sure no help was needed. Well, there was a guy, out of the truck, crouching down to pet a dog. Lily. Her I know. She belongs to George, who lives a few houses down from me, and she is the world’s friendliest Yellow Lab. I didn’t see George, but it was dark out and I wasn’t really looking.

I pulled in to my garage, got out, grabbed the packages outside and carried them in the house. I then went back out and walked to the mailbox. As I was grabbing my mail, I heard George yelling for Lily. Immediately, I got a pit in my stomach and I headed in George’s direction. I called out to him to ask if Lily was missing. Sure enough, he couldn’t find her. They came out to do something and she took off chasing something. He called for her but she didn’t come back. He then went inside to put on his warm coat and grab her leash to hunt for her.

In the minute or so that he was inside I came in and saw the truck and Lily. I kid you not, from the time I saw the truck to my conversation with George, was under two minutes. In that time, someone actually picked up his dog. I explained what I saw but I didn’t have much detail. Pickup truck. Dark color. Where he pulled over and that it was a guy and definitely Lily. That’s it. But I may have seen this dog get kidnapped.

It happened to me once, long ago. I had a dog in college. Thunder. A beautiful Husky mix, pure white with blue eyes. Someone stole him right from my parents yard. I know that feeling. It makes you sick. George was visibly upset. I didn’t know what to say, certainly there was nothing I could do. I asked if she had tags and she does. She is also microchipped, which is good. But as George said, if he wanted her, he could just keep her and no one would ever know.

I fell back on all I could offer him. I said “George, it’s the holiday season and it is raining and about to turn cold tonight, perhaps we are dealing with a Good Samaritan who saw a loose dog and picked her up to keep her safe. Maybe he will get home, read her tag, and call”. There was nothing else to say or do. I apologized for not being able to do more and headed for home.

About 20 minutes later, my phone rang and I didn’t recognize the number, but it was local and I just had a feeling. I picked up and it was George. He was calling to tell me I was right. That guy saw Lily running in the road. He pulled over and she was friendly so he picked her up and drove home. At home, he checked her tag and called George. Then he drove her home, safe and sound. He really was trying to be a Good Samaritan even though he kind of made it worse as he picked Lily up right in front of her own house. But, she is safe in her happy home.

George just wanted me to know and thank me for letting him know what I saw. I was glad to know that she was safe and that there are still kind strangers out there in the world. It’s a good reminder any time, but I love it even more this time of year.

And, yes, Mom, this is cranky George from the pool. He must have mellowed since retiring from pool duty. And he seems to love me. He talked my ear off for ten minutes during that call! He also told me he loves my bells-Christmas decor for those who haven’t been to my house this time of year. They are motion activated and musical. He said he heard them one night and wandered around to find the source and loves them so much he makes a point to walk by and set them off each evening on his walk with Lily.

Who knew? There is my holiday tale of Good Samaritanism and Christmas bells. All starring Lily the lab.

Alvin

Last night, after I got home from work, I wanted to sit outside a bit, because it was unbearably gorgeous. Possibly the last warm day of the year.

I headed out to the patio, with a beer, and when I stepped outside, there was a problem.

A chipmunk was sitting on my patio.

I’m not afraid of them or anything, but I don’t really care to share my patio, either.

I opened the door, thinking I’d just make some noise and scare him off. I did, and he freaked out. He started frantically running in circles and falling over. I thought he might be drunk. He eventually wormed his way over to the side of the patio that I don’t use and sat quietly. I watched intently and noticed that even when resting, he was trembling and swaying from side to side.

I could see him quite clearly, and there was no blood nor discernible injury, but something was clearly wrong with this guy. As I watched, he slumped over and closed his eyes. I actually thought I was watching him die. I didn’t know what to do. Chipmunks, for all their annoying habits, are actually very cute. And they’re so very small. He looked so helpless at that moment and I knew there was nothing I could do. I wasn’t taking him to a damn vet, this is just part of nature.

A few moments later and the neighbors dog streaked by, chasing a squirrel. It startled poor Alvin and he began “running” again. It was obvious that this little fella was severely injured. He couldn’t actually run. I wonder if his legs weren’t broken. He’d scoot forward and then literally tip over to one side. He’d pick himself up and try to move and tip to the other side. When he got some momentum going, he only seemed to be able to move in a circle–to his left. A couple of times, he fell over so hard he actually rolled completely over and ended up on his feet again.

If it weren’t plain that he was in pain and severely injured, this would have been funny. He kept scooching around my patio, trying to find a safe place, I suppose.

I began thinking, what if he dies on my patio? Not that it would be that big of a deal, but I don’t really want to have to deal with a dead carcass in the morning. Plus, what if another animal decides that his dead body looks like dinner? I don’t want chipmunk guts all over my patio.

Finally, I decided that he’d be safer in the woods, probably a lot more comfortable, too. I grabbed a thick sweatshirt (from the dirty laundry) and decided I would pick him up and carry him to the woods and let him go out there. I was worried, because I didn’t want to hurt him, but I needed him gone. Plus, I think I’d spent enough time pondering this little guy’s world.

As though he read my mind, Alvin suddenly popped up from his crouch and launched himself toward the end of the patio. He got to the edge and his legs gave out and he rolled, right off the edge, onto the grass. Now, the part he rolled off of was probably 4″ off the ground, not super high, but we’re talking about a chipmunk here. He is maybe 3″ high. It would be like if I rolled off a 7 foot cliff–or so I imagine. I was worried he hurt himself, before realizing that was a stupid worry, this creature was trying to find a place to die. An extra injury was hardly a concern.

He twitched about in the grass for a bit, and then lurched forward again. He moved around in the grass and managed to wedge himself against the side of the patio. Then, with that propping him up, he was able to move forward. Eventually, he made it the entire length of my patio and around the corner. He moved along the edge of my neighbors patio until I lost sight of him in the grass.

I hope he found some place comfortable and safe. I have no doubt that by now, Alvin is no more.

My Neighbors

I had friends over the other night and was telling them that they might see the deer family that lives in my backyard. There was no appearance. I think they thought I was making it up.

Here’s some proof:
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I know it is a little blurry, they were moving and I was hurrying to capture them. Pop quiz: how many deer are in this photo?

Any guesses…?

These are my favorite neighbors, they’re so beautiful and graceful. I don’t think my human neighbors like them as much as I do, since it is their garden being destroyed. But me? I feed them…any partially spoiled produce gets tossed to the deer.

They are a lovely little family, lovely to watch and lovely to share the space with.

Signs of Fall

Fall is officially here. ¬†Friday was its very first day. The weather is certainly reflective of this change. I’ve noticed, as I move through my world, that the scenery is just beginning.

Right outside my bedroom window is a tree. It is the only tree in my front “yard”. There is one tiny little section of this tree that is changing, and I can see it clear as day from my bedroom.
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Isn’t that funny? Just the one part, then the rest of the tree is still vibrantly green.

Likewise, the trees that line the boulevard in front of where I work. They are all these beautiful green-leafed trees, except for two. There are probably 20 of them in total, and two of them, only two, are completely changed.
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I very much enjoy the contrast of the bright red with all that green. It’s visually stimulating.
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Those red trees just blow me away. What can be more beautiful?

I find it fascinating that suddenly, this year, I’m noticing the beginning of the change. Perhaps it is more pronounced this year than in years past, but I think it is me. I’m just paying more attention and silently noticing the beautiful show that Mother Nature provides.

Like the bush that separates my house from my neighbor Donna. It is changing in slowly, creeping patterns. At the moment, it is precisely halfway finished.
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When I was standing in my driveway to take that picture, I happened to turn my head and glance out across the street, toward the path that leads to the clubhouse.

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And, again, there were pockets of change amid all that gorgeous green.

I can’t wait for another couple weeks…when it will be vibrantly displayed and I can go leaf peeping. Happy Fall!

Charity and Neighbors

Here’s something I learned.

People will drop by your house and ask for money.

I didn’t know that before I owned a house. On Labor Day, I was home from work, as were a lot of people. Apparently, charity beggars think that is the best time to drop by. A woman from my association stopped over about 10am to ask for money for Breast Cancer.

No, thank you.

About 1:00pm, someone stopped by to ask for money for Diabetes.

No, thank you.

Around 4pm, a woman came by to ask for donations for childhood Leukemia.

No,–“Wait!” she said.

“You don’t have to give me anything. I just want you to take this envelope. If you choose to give, you just drop it in my front door at your convenience.”

Okay, I can take an envelope, then I don’t have to be rude, I can just throw it away later.

Then this woman says, “and this is a special collection for us, one of the families in the association has a child that was just diagnosed with Leukemia.”

Well, obviously, that’s terrible. But, there are plenty of tragic stories out there. I’m not giving money willy-nilly because of some faceless people that I don’t even know.

As a side note, a fourth person dropped by on Monday, she had a petition going to change the association bylaws so that we can have garage sales. I could care less, but figured that since I don’t care, I might as well sign.

It was a busy day-off in Crestview Forest. Made me wonder what else I miss while I’m at work!

Now, let’s fast forward to last night. I was driving home from a pedicure with my mom. I was turning in to my street when I saw my neighbor Reggie out walking with his family. I came to a stop because his daughter was in the road. The mom went and got her off to the side and I drove past. As always, Reggie waved. Then, he saw my windows were down and he said hello as I drove by.

For those who don’t know, Reggie is the king of Pleasantville. The man is always cheerful, polite, and courteous. He waves, every day, at everyone in our court. He’s always outside (at least when it isn’t winter) and every night I come home, he waves hello. He knows everyone’s name and who lives where. He’ll stop to chat if he sees you outside. He’s just plain…nice. He is honestly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Last night, I stopped to get my mail and as I was headed home, my path crossed with Reggie’s family. He was as pleasant as always, and I got to meet his wife for the first time. Christina. She was also really nice and pleasant, though not quite as chatty as Reggie. Then they said, “and this is our daughter Avery.” She is a two year old sprite who was running wind sprints up and down the street.

She zoomed close enough that I could see her clearly when it hit me. She has the straggly-fine hair of a cancer patient. Avery is the child in our association who was recently diagnosed with childhood leukemia. I looked at Reggie and he smiled and said, “don’t worry, she’s doing great!”

I was struggling not to cry. I’m pretty sure he could tell.

I barely know these people, I don’t even know their last name, but Reggie is one of the first people I met when I moved in. He’s so nice. And this beautiful little girl, just two-years-old, has this horrible disease. She could die.

I stood outside with this lovely little family, just chatting for about 30 minutes. Avery ran up and down the street, doing funny things to get attention, as two-year-olds are wont to do.

When I got home, I saw that envelope sitting in my entryway. I looked at it for a moment and wished I wasn’t so broke. I wished that I could do more to help. Then I remembered how I just dropped $40 on a pedicure, an hour earlier. I remembered how excuses are just that–excuses. If it is a priority, then people will get it done.

I took $50 out of my emergency cash fund (I almost NEVER touch that fund) and put it in the envelope. I’ll drop it off tonight. I know it isn’t much, but it is what I can do. I give charitably every single year, probably more than I can reasonably afford. I enjoy doing it. It is my way of giving back. But, I give what I give and no more, there is always someone else with their hand out.

This time, however, I had to take that hand. It just hit too close to home.

The Break In

Yesterday, while I was enduring a hectic day at work, my phone rang. A clear sign it was hectic, I always silence my phone. I didn’t have time for it, so I silenced it and made a note to check it later. It’s rare for me to get calls during the work day so I was curious.

It wasn’t until I was driving home that I had a chance to check. There was a voicemail, from a number I didn’t recognize. I listened to the message, it was from my next door neighbor, Marlene. Her message was so surprising, I kept saying “you’re kidding me!” while I listened to it.

Mere moments later, I was home and I hightailed it next door to get the whole story.

Apparently, Marlene and her husband, Tom, with whom my home shares a wall, were robbed on Tuesday night. Robbed. While they were home.

Isn’t that frightening?

They went to bed Tuesday night, shortly after 9:00 pm. They woke up Wednesday morning and noticed the flat screen, the blu-ray player, the VCR, the stereo…all gone.

Marlene’s sister was in-town, visiting, and was sleeping in the next room from where they burgled.

They called the police as soon as they noticed. Evidently, I was blissfully sleeping in the house next door while the police were casing the street in front of my house. They even dusted Tom and Marlene’s family room for prints. Also, the front door.

The police supposed that Tom and Marlene didn’t lock their front door. Apparently there’s been a rash of break ins in the neighborhood – not necessarily in my townhome development, but in the single family area surrounding us. The police said that none of them were necessarily “break ins” since they walk around and check for unlocked door and then go in and help themselves. I find that to be the creepiest part. If someone took a crowbar to the glass on my french door or used a lock pick to force their way in, somehow I’d feel less violated then if I accidentally forgot to lock my front door and someone walked right in and stole my stuff.

Which sounds weird, but there you have it.

At any rate, Marlene is fairly shook up, I didn’t get to talk to Tom. Their first concern is for the single gals surrounding them. One one either side, and another on the other side of me. That’s three fairly vulnerable targets. I didn’t want to disagree, but I think single gals are more¬†vigilant than others, because of the inherent vulnerability. They’re very sweet. Marlene also said she is sure they locked the door, as they do, every night, but she can’t be positive, “because you know how it goes with routine”.

I didn’t really understand that part. I think routine makes it far more likely you’ll lock your doors at night. At least it does for me. I have a set pattern I walk through the house each night…checking to make sure I’m secure. I also have the routine of locking the doors when I come in the house, so that I’m always safe, not just when I’m asleep.

The police also think that the burglars have been “casing the joints”. Walking through the development and peering in windows to see which homes are worth their time. I can vouch that Tom’s big screen was huge and in plain view of his window, but it seems like one of my elderly, home frequently, nosy-as-can-be neighbors would have noticed strangers walking through our back yards. Marlene said they used to feel so safe they stopped closing the blinds to the house, blocking any view. I wish she could keep that safe feeling. I’m sorry she’s lost it.

As for me, I’m not worried. Heck, if they are casing, I’m as safe as can be. I don’t have any stuff. Nothing worth stealing any way. Unless someone really wants my 500 romance novels. I’d be sad, sure, but that’s all they’d be getting from me. I own an ancient second-hand tv, my laptop, and my Iphone, all of which are stored in my bedroom and away from peeping eyes. So, I’m hardly worth the trip, I keep my doors locked, and I’m not THAT heavy of a sleeper.

I wish this hadn’t happened, I truly do. But I refuse to feel unsafe in my home. I am safe. I’m smart, I’m careful, and I’ve got a poker named Bernard, what more does a single gal need?