oj and blue dozer

OJ is a 12-year-old dachshund who is blind and can’t be left alone. His best friend and guide dog is a 6-year-old pit bull, Blue Dozer. I read their tale while editing our paper in Virginia last week. I love this story. Because, you know, happy endings …

Blue Dozer leads OJ around. OJ walks just behind him, often smacking into his butt when he gets too excited. They’re inseparable buddies.

It’s a happy story. But then it’s sad.

Their owner turned them in to a shelter because she couldn’t afford to keep them. The shelter, as we all did, fell instantly in love with them.

But in Act 2, a woman adopts them and promises to keep them together. Which, as it turns out, means keeping the pit bull and jettisoning the blind dog. Didn’t seem that blind, she rationalized. OJ was found wandering around alone and taken back to the shelter. What could be sadder than a blind dog who is lost and looking for his friend?

It’s a sad story. But then it’s happy.

Blue Dozer, the guide dog, was grudgingly returned to the shelter, and the two were reunited.

The shelter says it “received a mountain of applications for their adoption” but, right now, the shelter is focusing on letting the pair rest and catch up on the snuggles they missed while they were apart. (snuggles is their word, not mine. I draw the line at “snuggles.”)

I sent the story to Mo, the world’s biggest softy for animals. She, of course, did what she does — She painted them. They’re on separate canvases. But we’re keeping them right next to each other.

Because, you know, happy endings …

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things i wish i had said, part 77

They’re buying and selling off shares of air
And you know it’s all around you
But it’s hard to point and say “there”
So you just sit on your hands
And quietly contemplate
Your next bold move
The next thing you’re gonna need to prove
To yourself

— the prophet Ani

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nature calls

“Talk of mysteries! — Think of our life in nature, — daily to be shown matter, to come in contact with it, — rocks, trees, wind on our cheeks! The solid earth! the actual world! the common sense! Contact! Contact! Who are we? Where are we?”
— Henry David Thoreau

I love running on the track. The simplicity, the purity, the mindlessness that allows you to drift off in your thoughts. But there’s one thing missing: Nature.

If we’re running on a trail, bees are just part of the game. Keep moving, don’t make eye contact, inconspicuously drop a honey packet in your running partner’s hydration vest.

On the track, you don’t expect them. But it’s Day 2, and they’re still there.

Mo was skeptical they were alive, so she went in for a closer look. They assured her they’re just fine and not accepting visitors. Mo then reminded me she’s allergic to bees, the clear implication being that I should take one for the team. Luckily, running isn’t a team sport.

And so we make our rounds, one eye on the bees and one eye on Fast Guy in Lane 9 (it’s the last cool day of the year today so he’s jettisoned the Blue Gatorade and is just going with Rockstar.)

Nature. We have a coyote living next door on the dirt-road runs, a swarm of bees on the football field. A reminder that wherever we are, we’re still part of nature. Who are we? Where are we? On a track in the desert accidentally communing with nature. The solid earth. The actual world. Contact! Contact indeed.

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let it, bees

It’s a one-time thing
It just happens
A lot
— the prophet Vega

It’s windy and sprinkling and dark and not a great night to run at the track. But I have a one-day streak at stake, dammit. And anyhow, it’s not the weather I’m worrying about. It’s the bees.

Longtime readers will recall that the Powers That Bee seem intent on shutting the joint down. Each day seems to bring a new excuse. Closed for football practice. Reserved for private group. Locked for no damn apparent reason. But today they’ve outdone themselves.

A blue table with a big pile of something on it sits a few feet off the track on the football field. It was surrounded by plastic barricades and yellow crime-scene tape till the storm blew them over. Attached to the tape now lying on the field are a pair of  signs: CAUTION. BEES. STAY CLEAR.

Two things strike me as I take a photo:

  • The just-released album of Neil Young performing the Tonight’s the Night album live in 1973 is fantastic. I’ve been listening to it on the way to the run and it’s the soundtrack for tonight’s trot. I can’t wait.
  •  I’M STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO THE FREAKING BEES.

I tiptoe away, waiting for one of those cartoon episodes to begin where I run around in a frenzy, chased by a huge swarm until I end it in a swan dive into the steeplechase pool. This will not end well, because the steeplechase pool is closed, and my diving skills consist of the cannonball and, um, well, the cannonball. But the pile of things on the table does not seem interested in the least, so  I figure what the heck. Might as well run. He died doing what he loved and all that.

And anyhow, there are a couple of fast guys in Lane 1 and 2. I’m in 9, so if the bees get cranky, they’ll go for the nearest target, yeah? I flash back to a few years ago when Mo and I were running a trail race at night. The RD stopped us to say there was a pissed-off bee hive ahead of us. Mo instantly disappeared a half-mile ahead of me, content to leave me to die a slow, painful death. You have to respect that.

But I never see any bees. I ponder whether I should ditch the headphones to listen for bees, but I reason it wouldn’t do me much good since I’m averaging 13:45 and bees likely go faster than that. Besides, this Neil Young album is to die for.

In the end, nothing happens. I get in my 2 miles, the streak completes an incredible TWO DAYS, and I look forward to whatever excuse they make up tomorrow to keep us off the track.

It’s a one-time thing, it just happens a lot. Never doubt Suzanne Vega …

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The Great Flower Ankle Sweatband Experiment of 2018 ©

If you’re going to San Francisco
be sure to wear a flower on your ankle
— the prophet Scott McKenzie

Longtime readers know I’m a student of running. OK, I’m the student who sits in the back row catching up on my beauty sleep during the lecture on Keynesian economic theory vs. the Nike Oregon Science Project. But that’s not why we’re here. We’re here for The Great Flower Ankle Sweatband Experiment of 2018 ©.

A couple of days ago, I saw a Fast Guy running with sweatbands on his ankles. This didn’t make sense to me. But then again, I never understood how a stark-raving-mad narcissist could be a button away from nuclear annihilation (dear employer: i speak here only in purely hypothetical terms and present no opinion on the current state of the country please don’t fire me), so maybe I could be wrong.

The only answer: Try it and see if it works. The sweatband, not the nuclear annihilation.

The only problem: The only thing we have that resembles a sweatband in the least has a flower on it. We must not sweat much. But I’ve run across the Golden Gate Bridge and up and down the Dipsea in San Francisco, so I think I understand what the song meant. And isn’t running all about LSD anyhow?

A flower sweatband seemed close enough, and it made me feel pretty, so the test was on.

We started at the SCC track, but there were a bunch of Artichokes on the field. Ma used to tell me growing up, “Never run on a track wearing a flower when a bunch of large football players are nearby.” I always wondered what that meant.

So we went instead to the lake loop. There are always cute dogs and kids peeing on fire hydrants, so it’s the perfect place to run unnoticed. The experiment was on.

It was a hot day, but I was wearing my Santa Elf bite me shirt to counteract the heat, so it felt OK. Nothing felt different, other than the white Zantes I wore because white won’t clash with any floral selection. Scott McKenzie doesn’t pair well with the Clash.

We were sidetracked after a couple of miles by some kids playing a variation of what could generously be described as baseball. Basically, a kid swings at pitches till he or she loses interest, then hits the ball off a tee. Fourteen infielders go chasing after the ball. One of them eventually picks it up and throws it straight into the dirt. Runners round the bases, taking their helmets off and putting them back on as they run for reasons that remain a mystery to me. The dust settles, the next kid goes up to the plate, the party repeats itself. This is SO much better than the baseball I played as a kid, which consisted solely of striking out or getting a walk zzzzzzzzz.

We eventually resumed our run when Mo asked a parent for the rules and the other people figured out we had no child there and must be crazy stalkers. It’s hard to be seen as a Serious Student of Baseball when wearing an ankle sweatband with a flower on it.

It was an otherwise uneventful outing. Ducks, walkers, Fiona singing Frosty the Snowman over and over and over and over and over. And then we stopped.

Which brings me back to the The Great Flower Ankle Sweatband Experiment of 2018 ©. Did it work?

I don’t know. Maybe you have to have two of them for the maximum results. Maybe the flower isn’t aero enough. Maybe I’m slow. For whatever reason, it didn’t feel much different.

But sometimes running is about distractions, the little things along the way that makes each run a daily adventure. Was yesterday’s better? Maybe not in the clinical sense, which is likely why people don’t enjoy running in clinics.

But we ran through a sea of yellow flowers in a tiny forest. We stopped at the xeriscape pond to splash and cool off. We cheered Peanut as she fiercely guarded third base. And I ran with a flower on my ankle. Solely because it was silly and pointless and fun.

And isn’t that exactly what running SHOULD be?

Ankle sweatbands. I think I get it now. Thanks, Fast Guy.

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mo sheppo’s guide to painting

Always hold the brush in your mouth and paint with your fingers.

Yes, this is also how she eats spaghetti.

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or maybe it was just Pochero

No one likes us
I don’t know why
We may not be perfect
But heaven knows we try
— the prophet Newman

The facts as we know them:

ladle

▷ I was involved in a plot to mail a Day-Glo Orange Lightweight Racing Soup Ladle© (anything else is just a big spoon) to South Freakin’ Korea. It had much power, having been blessed by El Señor Runner in a park in Scottsdale,  and was going to a military guy there in hopes of saving the world. I know, I know. But you can always hope. I’m still hoping they bring The New Girl back for an eighth season.

▷ The package mysteriously disappeared in transit. The Evil Kim Jong Il may or may not have been involved.

▷ Kim Jong Il died of “natural” causes, leaving Kim Jong Mini Me in charge of it.

▷ The ACTUAL Mini Me died.

And then things got REALLY weird.

▷ Kim Jong Mini Me travels to South Korea for the first time. Minutes later, this blog, where it all began, gets a visit from South Freakin’ Korea.

▷ Shortly thereafter, peace breaks out. Kim Jong Mini Me agrees to play nice and change into togs more suitable for running.

I’m not a big believer in signs (although the “500,000 volts don’t pee on this electric fence” one should generally be followed), but come on. This can’t be a coincidence.

I have saved the world. You’re welcome.

I hope Trump demands he gives that ladle back though.

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