Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This journey's over

We're home now. Otto's refrigerator's emptied; the linens stripped.

Lots to do for our next outing:

  •      Bathroom door handle replaced
  •      Door shade replaced
  •      Paper products restocked
  •      Carpets shampooed
  •      Everything cleaned
  •      And so much more ....

But for now, we return to our other life, the one crowded with far too much stuff, far too many responsibilities, far too much to do.

We need to change all that.

Never Trust Technology

I think my TomTom GPS (I call him Thomas)  has a crush on me. 

We're heading home, and part of the journey takes us around Washington, DC.

It's just past dark and I mention to my husband how I'd love to visit DC again, take in the sights, walk past the White House. From up here on the highway I can see the Capitol dome in the distance. And wow! The Washington monument looms large just ahead. Oh look, there's the Lincoln Memorial. Why, we're so close I can see Lincoln inside.

I joke that Thomas must be flirting with me, giving me as much of DC as he can without getting us off target (which is Harrisburg, PA, for the night). 

Suddenly, a tunnel swallows us and turns us all around. In a flash, Thomas dumps us out onto a city street in downtown Washington. Good grief! It's  Pennsylvania Avenue. Allen swears we're in front of the White House. In a motor home. At night. And there's traffic everywhere!

What is Thomas up to? He's gone mad, I tell you. Simply mad!

There's nothing we can do by ourselves to escape. We have to listen to this maniacal GPS. Only it knows where we are and where it is taking us.  We're prisoners of technology, dependent on microchips as we swirl around lost in big-city traffic. This thing, this dastardly thing I now call  Hal 9000, winds us up then spins us back down into that tunnel. Down, down and around we go. 

Then finally, we're up and out, and back onto a freeway. Ahhhhhh.

But, no. It was a sinister trick.  Hal sucks us off this main road and spits us back into downtown Washington, this time onto a four-lane road with signs warning of narrow lanes ahead. Did I tell you we're in a motor home? One that's wider than an average car?

Why, Hal? Why put us through this? To get my attention?

Well, it works. I'm listening. And I fondle the device long enough to power it off. Then we turn to the maps to rescue ourselves and the rest of the night. Technology free ... well, for a while anyway.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Dog, a Duck and a Tale of Abandonment

I think I know why Harley was abandoned. 

He's an American Foxhound, a dog far more interested in what's up in the trees or across the water than he is in me or playing with my two dogs here at the Myrtle Beach dog park off Mallard Lake Road.

Harley is a hunter. And he was found on the outskirts of a popular hunting area near Myrtle Beach a few years ago by Margo and her husband, a couple of soft-hearted dog people, who also live near Myrtle Beach. The dog warden (or some law enforcer down in these parts) told Margo that it's not uncommon for a hunter to go into the woods with 15 dogs and consider himself lucky if he comes out with 10.

The lost five are left to manage for themselves. Harley, everyone assumes, was one of the five on a fateful hunting trip.

But I think I know what happened to Harley because of what he did yesterday, at this dog park that has a big lake in the middle of it. Harley, an avid duck hunter, saw a duck in the lake (it is Mallard Lake, after all) and plunged in to get it. Startled, the duck dashed away. Harley got to the middle of this big  (but shallow) lake and sat there, for three hours, waiting for that darn duck to come back. It made no difference to Harley who ran back and forth lakefront hollering for him to come out. Teasing him with treats. Offering up dinner. He was deaf to anything but a quack.

Know where this is going?

Harley wasn't abandoned. He did the abandoning. I think Harley chose some ol' duck over his hunting buddies. I'm sure he did. It's not that he got lost. He just got focused. Probably for hours. Like he did yesterday. But the first time, everyone got tired of waiting and went home. Yesterday, Margo waited until he just came out on his own.

So today, he's paying for his stubbornness at the end of a leash. And he's not getting off, Margo says, until after their walk, the one that goes all the way around that lake.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Dead or Alive?

Is Erica alive?

I'm at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, Ga., and one of the turtles, Erica, is just floating there. Nothing is moving. No fin flaps, no nose bubbles, nothing. Her neck (with a barnacle attached) bows so her chin drops downward. Her eyes are closed, not squeezed shut, just closed. Her shell is partially submerged and her fins dangle beneath her.

She looks dead. She acts dead. I watch for quite a while. Nothing is moving. She must be dead. Or close to it. 

I look around and there's no one to call for help. It's five minutes to 5 p.m., official closing time, and I notice, to my left,  lots of people in green shirts and white badges scurrying around outside the building, probably closing down for the evening. But, no one is inside with me and this dead 215-pound turtle. If she is dead. Does she need to be resuscitated?

I wish I could reach over this little ledge in front of me and just poke at her, to see if she moves, or just bobbles, like a dead turtle.

The little info page in front of me explains that Erica is a 215 pound loggerhead picked up in Florida's Seashore Key in July 2009. Kayakers found her floating in the water. Like she is now. Just floating.

Finally, I see a green-shirted 20-something within shouting distance and I holler out and wave at her:  "Excuse me." She walks my way, with a smile. "Is this turtle OK?"

"Oh, she's floating."

Yes, I see that.

My face must beg for more information, because she continues to explain about Erica. The turtle has a tear in her lung which causes excessive air to build up, hence her floating. The vets, hoping for a natural healing, have delayed surgery as long as possible, but at the end of this month, Erica goes on the board and under the knife to repair the wound.

So, she is alive. Just floating. Maybe there should be a sign saying she's OK. 

True Treasures

I'm walking the dogs on Jekyll Island State Park in Georgia when I see a man on a powder blue bike and hear him hollering "Bla---ackie. Bla---ackie."

He sits up quite straight on that bike and I notice he wobbles a bit, like he's unsure of his balance. Years ago, I would have called him an old man. I'm wiser now, so I consider him a savvy man, a sage.

When he glances our way, I swear I see a glint from his eyes. And he grins as he swerves to cross our path. Before he even speaks, I know I'm going to like this guy.

"You have such beautiful dogs," he says quite theatrically, with a smile in his voice matching that glint in his eye. He's a delightfully impish looking man, with a shock of white hair standing on end, crowning his head.

That crown is a good three inches high.

He leans back on his bike and lays his arms across his chest. "I'm out looking for my cat," he lowers his head, shakes it a bit, and his face turns all sad. Then he flips his face skyward and his sparkle returns. "But your dogs, YOUR DOGS!  (Joshua and Jacob, both Standard Poodles)." He unfolds his arms and claps his hand together high in the air, just once, and again uses his whole face to smile. That ready smile prompts mine.

His name is Ron Keno. We chat endlessly about nothing, and everything. It's the kind of chatter snowbirds (extroverted snowbirds, that is) enjoy: We compare our lives. And, we discover, we have loads in common:
 He lives in Upstate New York, just like I do.
 He loves animals and traveling, just like I do.
 And, then, he asks, "Do you like antiques?" Well, yes, but not to buy, I say. I like knowing about antiques, though.
         He adds a tilted head to that grin and glint. Then, he winks: "Ever watch 'Antiques Roadshow'?" 

"I LOVE Antiques Roadshow." Was that me chortling? I guess I'm getting carried away with my high-energy new friend, this eubullient, engaging, savvy sage (he later tells me he's 80).

"The Keno twins," he winks again. "They're my boys!" Impossibly, his infectious smile widens, stretching U-shaped, ear to ear. 

He' proud of his sons Leigh Keno and Leslie Keno, appraisers on the PBS series. And when I ask, he acquiesces how he's partly responsible for their love of antiques, which populate his life like books do mine.

He even met his long-time girlfriend Dot (he calls her Dor-o-thy) at a yard sale -- hers.  And together they prowl thrift stores and yard sales looking for that hidden treasure.

So we -- Dot and I -- make plans to hunt for those treasures together, tomorrow, off island, in Brunswick, Ga. What fun. I think I'm grinning. And there might even be a glint in my eye.