Saturday, October 20, 2012

Round Robin Photo: Leaves of Cloth

For Round Robin Challenge: Leaves, I asked to see any kind of leaves. I was sort of hoping that on one of my walks I would find some really pretty leaves to show you, but really, Tucson isn't generally the best place for this. Then tonight as I changed into a T-shirt for my walk, I had a very different idea for this topoc.

Over the past fifteen months and 125 pounds or so of weight loss, I've given away or thrown out many, many pieces of clothing, box after box and bag after bag. Now that I'm hovering around size 18, I'm wearing clothes I last fit into 10 to 20 years ago. It shouldn't surprise me that a lot of the surviving clothing is Aloha wear, tropical or Hawaiian shirts. Nevertheless, I'm a little surprised that there are so many of them - all with leaves in their printed patterns.

This is my one true Hawaiian shirt, from the Hawaiian manufacturer Hilo Hattie. It is my second or third shirt in this pattern. I got this one at the company's only mainland store at the time, in Orange County, CA. That store is long gone. The shirt was way too small for me for several years. Now it's way too big, but I love it too much to give it up. Look at all those big teal-colored leaves, some of them looking a little like fish! Love it!

Another shirt I'm rather fond of is as inauthentic as the Hilo Hattie one is authentic. It also came out of a trip to California. This one I bought cheap in a Southern California grocery store! I waited more than a few years for the day when I was able to wear it. Those pale green leaves go perfectly with a pair of pale green slacks I bought recently.

I think this one and the other Caribbean Joe brand shirt I still have dates back to my days at Worldwide Travel (1993-2005). The leaves on this one come in several shades. I got it at Dillard's, before they stopped carrying the larger sizes.

Here is the newest tropical shirt in my collection. I got it at Disneyland in May. Leaves aren't the most important element in this one, but they are in there. I may be passing this shirt on to John.

Now let's see everyone else's leaves!

Linking List
as of Saturday, October 20th, 1 AM

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Freda - Posted!
Day One

A picture is worth 1000 words

Jama Hameed
Sweet Memories

Danielle *** Welcome, new participant!***
Din_Dannie on Flickr - Posted!
My Blog Thingy

Carly - Posted!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

I'm Walkin' - for Two Charities!

Here's my last call for sponsors on the Walk to End Alzheimer's (this Saturday) and Tucson AIDSWALK (this Sunday). I will be walking at both events, but the dogs are only allowed on the second one. 
Click below for details!

Gene C Reid Park,
Concert Place, S Country Club Rd
Tucson, AZ 85716
Coordinator: Dan Lawler
Phone: 602-528-0545

Downtown Tucson -
Jacome Plaza
For more information about AIDSWALK Tucson


Monday, October 08, 2012

The Blessing of Ursa

"Today has been like a tv episode," John said to me tonight. "A lot of stuff happened, and then the day ended with everything back to normal." What happened? Let's go back in time a bit. The story really starts twelve days ago, on one of my infamous morning walks.

On September 26th I had just crossed Golf Links Road with the dogs and was passing a gas station when I saw a large, reddish-blonde dog on the sidewalk up ahead, unsecured and unaccompanied by a human. As we approached, the dog ran into the street on Kolb Road, a major intersection during morning rush hour. She crossed the relatively empty southbound lanes successfully, but as I screamed "Noooo!" she dashed into the busy northbound lanes and was immediately hit by a car.

To my amazement, she got up again a moment later and ran off onto an eastbound side street. I was in no position to chase her, but I stood on the street there for some time, trying to get Siri (the iPhone’s voice interface) to recognize the word “Pima,” as in Pima County Animal Control. Eventually I realized that they would not be open yet anyway, and the dog was long gone. So the dogs and I continued south and finished our walk.

This morning, October 7th, my dogs and I were walking on the Escalante bike path just west of Kolb when we noticed a familiar-looking dog standing in the eastbound lane of Escalante, a street only slightly less busy than Kolb most mornings, but considerably less busy on Sundays. I coaxed the dog over and got hold of her collar, One of her rear legs supported very little weight, presumably from being hit. It was definitely the same dog I had seen hit!

The collar had no license or tag of any sort, or even a loop to hold a tag or clasp a leash to. I called my husband John to come get us in the car. She was a big dog, perhaps seventy pounds, and I was on my belly in the dirt by the time John arrived twenty minutes later, just trying to hang onto her and reassure her without killing my back crouching over.

Left to right: Cayenne and Ursa at church, shortly before the blessing. 
You can also see a bit of Pepper on the right.

But this was the Sunday closest to the Feast of St. Francis, or, as I like to call it, Take Your Dog to Church Day, which we celebrate with the Blessing of the Animals. So I headed off to St. Michael’s, with three dogs in the car instead of my usual two. After all, what pet needed a blessing more than this injured stray? I decided to call her Ginger, just in case we ended up keeping her. She was a sweet dog, and John and I both liked her immediately. Still, three dogs was one over our mutually-agreed limit!

Father Smith told the congregation about Ginger during mass, in case anyone wanted to adopt her if her owner was not found. She was much petted and admired, before, during and after Mass, and one person offered to help pay her veterinary bill. But first I needed to at least try to find her owner. After church and coffee hour I took her to Valley Animal Hospital to check for a chip (and to make an appointment to have her leg looked it). Unsurprisingly for a dog with no license tag, she didn't have a chip, either. I took her home, posted pictures to Facebook and went on with my day.

Tonight I emailed, which specializes pets lost and found in Pima County. Then I posted a notice on Craig’s List. Within half an hour, I got an email from the dog’s owner! He’d been out of town. The neighbors who were looking after the dog, whose real name was Ursa, had repeatedly let her escape from the yard.

The owner successfully identified Ursa by the markings on her tongue, and the dog was definitely glad to see him when they were reunited in the Safeway parking lot. Ursa was truly blessed today! And John and I are only a little sad that this dog has come and gone from our life so quickly, with no guarantee that she will be safe and healthy in the future.

I saw an article recently that pointed out that there was much more to the life of St. Francis than his connection with animals. I’m sure that’s the case, but I’m glad we celebrate the saint’s feast day by appreciating our pets and the rest of this world that God created. It helps us to remember that we are not the only creatures that matter, and that we have a responsibility to be good stewards of the planet and everything in it, particularly living things. This is a concept that we should remember and honor, whether or not we include God in the equation.

A non-Christian friend of mine from college saw my listing for the Blessing of the Animals on Facebook the other day, and asked what the point was, since the Bible made no claims about an afterlife for dogs. I replied that it wasn’t about the afterlife. It was about appreciating the animals now, as St. Francis did. This includes caring for them, including, it turns out, the gimpy dog in the middle of the road.†


Saturday, October 06, 2012

Round Robin: My Madera Canyon Story

For Round Robin Challenge: Tell Me a Story, I asked people to post a picture of something, anything, and tell the story behind it. My story will be told in more than one picture, because, well, I can!

As you may know, I walk every morning with my two dogs as part of my self-designed weight loss program. (I've lost over 120 pounds.) In recent months I've averaged over six miles a day. Most of the time I walk to destinations within a few miles of home, but that gets boring. Sometimes I need to strike out, go someplace else, and try for a new challenge!

So last Saturday, I made the 48 mile drive south to Madera Canyon. It's one of the prime birding hot spots in the country, and I visited it with some frequency in 1986 and 1987 - and maybe once since then, if ever. The idea was to walk the dogs up the road there, and get in at least six miles roundtrip. It didn't work out that way.

The new map app on my iPhone said I had to ditch my car outside the park and walk the last 9 miles. It was wrong, and I didn't. Instead I drove all the way to the Madera picnic area. There I spent a few minutes at a picnic table, my foot on the dogs' leashes, and did some birdwatching. There were Mexican Jays all around, and a number of less visible species.

Then a rock squirrel turned up, and worked his way closer and closer to the picnic table. I got out my camera and managed to get this shot:

Suddenly the dogs caught the squirrel's scent. One strong tug, and they were off! The squirrel was treed within about ten seconds!

After that it was time, really past time, to start my walk. A nature trail wound past the creek over a bridge or two and through grassy meadows before dead ending, oh, any number of places. I doubled back and set off in the other direction, meeting up with a couple or older men on the way. That was lucky for me, because I lost the main trail at least twice! They got me back in track, literally.

Soon we came to a 2.75 mile nature trail, but the other way led back to the road, and I took it. I wanted to go to the gift shop. I'd left my hat, my sweatband and my hand towel at home, and I suspected that my liter of water would prove inadequate. So I hit the gift shop. The employee there gave the dogs water. I bought a really cool sweatband, a cap and more water, and got a trail map and a birding checklist.

Immediately outside the gift shop was a bird feeding area, frequented mostly by hummingbirds. Neither I nor anyone else there was in good enough practice with our bird identifications to be sure whether we were looking at Allen's Hummingbirds or Rufous Hummingbirds or both. After all, 15 species of hummers are seen there, and the females especially are extremely difficult to tell apart.

By then my camera battery was low, and my iPhone battery was lower, probably because of the spotty network coverage in the canyon. I walked back down to where I was parked, and wasted time charging my phone in the car. I managed to get about half a charge, during which time I reparked twice, trying to get a connection to answer a request to call my boss back in Tucson.

I finally managed to get through to my boss at the top of the road, where a group of kids and their adult chaperons were all looking through binoculars at where I was parked. I thought perhaps they'd spotted something wonderful, like an Elegant Trogon. But no: they told me they were looking at "pictures of birds."

And they were!

After that I drove back down to the gift shop, bought AA batteries for the camera for $2 each, and hit the trail at last. I made a few wrong turns along the way, and found the going about as steep and rugged as I can candle. But it had its rewards. We saw two deer!

And the view was frequently wonderful.

I made it to the top, and we walked, sometimes ran, down the road, back toward the car. My iPhone battery ran out about a quarter mile before we got there. I didn't quite manage my six miles, but it was a good day. And my legs were sore for a few days from all the climbing.


Now let's see who else is participating this week. So far, it's...

Linking List
as of Saturday, October 6th, 1:13 AM

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Carly - Posted!