Thursday, August 25, 2011

Voice In The Night

As I write this I am sitting outside with Stanley.  It is 8pm and 102 degrees and HOT!  Stanley wants me out here with makes him happy to have an audience as he chases the geckos.  Ahhhhh!, the things we do for our pets!

Now that I got that thought off of my chest, here goes the post.....

Before I go to bed each night I go through the same routine.  I check all of the doors and windows, I set the lights on dim and I set the house alarm.  We have a team of security guards that patrol our neighborhood but still I set my alarm.  At the end of the night, Stanley and I retire and lay our heads down to sleep.

My neighborhood is very quiet.  If there is any noise it is the ducks flying over or the sprinklers coming on.  It's sort of like "not a creature was stirring" kind of a neighborhood.  Before I got Stanley, I used to jog late at night or early morning.  Now, those days are gone...I have to go to the gym.  ha.

Last night (actually at 4am this morning), Stanley and I were sound asleep when I heard a faint voice.  Funny how you can be dead asleep but a soft sound can arouse you right out of the depths.  The voice was like a whisper and it was IN the house!  (Danger, danger Will Robinson!)  I heard it and on the one hand was awake and alert but on the other hand was still sound asleep.  It was weird.  I was waiting...would the voice speak again?  Stanley too flinched but he remained tucked under this blankie.  We both were in that foggy state of being awake but being asleep too.

Within 15 minutes, the voice spoke again!!!  OK, it is on!  Somehow, someone got inside my house without triggering the alarm!  Not only that...somehow, someone got passed the security guards!  Stanley rears up his head and manages to come out from underneath his blanket in 2 seconds flat.  Both he and I are on full alert and ready for action.

I have a silent alarm near my bed that has a separate line from the main house and I am about to trip the alarm.  That's one of the things I love about my neighborhood...the police don't play around.  They dispatch multiple cars whenever they are summoned and they respond lickety split.  Stanley let out a bark but I hushed him and, as if he knew my strategy, he quietened and stayed by my side.  As all of the adrenaline rushed throughout my body I was processing the voice while at the same time about to hit the silent alarm.  Before I pressed the button my mind caught up with my action and I realized the voice had just spoken, "low battery."  

Low battery?  LOW BATTERY?!!!!!  I've been home all night for hours and NOW you tell me at 4am that I have a low battery?  Where are you?....who has the low battery?  How can I have a low battery?...the technicians were here 4 months ago.  At this point I am very put out.  As I recall, the detection system beeps first for weeks before it starts speaking to you.  I have not been beeped at...there have been no beeps.  How can I be hearing this message now?

I get out of bed and walk throughout the house, listening for the voice again so that I can find the device with a "low battery."  Thirty minutes later, nothing.  The voice does not speak again and I have no explanation.  (Mental note:  call the service company to check the devices.)  How frustrating!  How am I supposed to get back to sleep when I have to wake up in only 2 hours?  I know how this story ends:  I am the one who will have the "low battery" today.

PS:  Stanley was an absolute trooper through it all.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Lying in bed this morning before 6am my dreams were interrupted...interrupted by rain!  Oh, what a welcome sound!  At first I thought, "good night! water fountains (on the front patio) are loud!" but then I realized it was raining outside.  Sigh.  Lord, thank You for the relief from the heat and drought...thank You for the rain.

I put Stanley in his leash and walked outside for our morning walk.  It still was raining, but more like a heavy sprinkle.  I didn't think Stanley would mind.  Think again!  ha.  After two attempts to get him to walk, I returned to the house and went to the back patio.  I have large umbrellas out there and thought that if Stanley were under them he wouldn't be rained on.

The weather felt in the 70s and had the browning look of autumn.  It seems that the trees in my neighborhood (and there are many trees) were so relieved to have rain that they were giving up their leaves.  The leaves were just falling off and rolling in the breeze.  Nice.

Anyway, back to the back patio....

Stanley took a tour of the patio...every corner and interesting spot.  He sits on the chaise, stairs and covered spots.  He walks behind the garden shed and tree pots.  He sticks his nose through the slim opening between my gate and the wall, hoping to find something interesting to either eat or bark at.  Although he doesn't like being rained or dripped on, everywhere he goes he seems to find the drippy spot.  If only he would just stay under the patio cover or either one of the umbrellas....  ha.

Once back inside the house, he gets his treat and then he retreats to his favorite sofa and blankie.  He burrows in for a morning nap.  Oh, the life of a dog.

Last night around midnight I took him for a walk before bed.  He had a great time and I...well, I had the pleasure of stepping on a HUGE LOCUST in the middle of the street!  It buzzed up my leg and if I could fly I would have.  I made a loud (and inappropriate) exclamation (if you know what I mean) and declared how much I hate locusts.  I then turned to Stanley and said, "we need to walk faster!!!"  I promise, Stanley thinks it is an expedition even at midnight.  He thinks he has to explore everything, even though he did the same trek that same morning and afternoon.  Ahhh!

Again, back to the back patio....  Here are some shots of our morning.  Enjoy.

Love, Car.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Siege of the Sofa

I heard and read that dogs with short legs (in other words, small dogs like Stanley) shouldn't climb stairs or jump up and down from high places.  Well, since I want Stanley to have healthy bones and joints even into his older years, I carry him up and down.  Yep....I carry him.  He's only 5 to 6 pounds and if I position him just right I can carry him and still have use of both of my hands.

When it came to the sofa, though, I was in a quandary.  He couldn't get up on it and I didn't want him jumping down off of it.  Answer:  stairs!  I went to my pet store and bought doggie stairs.  Hmmmm, they looked steep but I went ahead and bought them.  True enough, Stanley wouldn't climb the stairs because they were too narrow and steep.  So, after I returned the doggie stairs I continued to look for a solution.  Answer:  a ramp!  I looked at ramps in doggie magazines but they were either too heavy or too industrial.  I didn't want an eye sore and I didn't want my wooden floors scratched.

Finally, as I walked through Pottery Barn looking for patio furniture I came upon some beautiful large pillows.  Light bulb!!...a ramp of pillows!  I bought pillows from various stores and created a stylish pillow ramp and it worked!  The floor is protected.  The pillow ramp meets my criteria for style and Stanley can climb both up and down with ease.  He even can lounge on the pillows instead of the sofa, which I have found him doing in the afternoon.

Yes, the pillow ramp is the perfect solution.  Who knew the siege ramps used for warfare centuries ago would serve a peaceful and pretty way to help Stanley get on and off the sofa.  ha!

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Typical Morning Walk....

Mornings are great, especially in the life of Stanley.  The morning walk is the first walk of the day and usually we have the whole neighborhood to ourselves because we get out early.  I like to get out at the break of light (usually close to 6am) but anytime before 7am is good too.  There is nothing like walking out of my garage into the morning air and being greeted by the fresh morning scent of nature and the friendly, cool breeze of the early morning.  I just love it.

Before Stanley and I leave the house, I put his collar and leash on and boy does his tail wag.  Stanley has a wonderful life:  lots of petting, kisses, sweet talking, attention and being carried around.  Not that any of that has anything to do with walking, but I just thought I would throw that information in as a fyi.  ha.

ok...back to the walk:  Stanley goes about his business as we leisurely stroll the neighborhood.  He especially likes trash day because there are so many more scents to smell.  The poor trash men....they probably are wondering why many trash bags are "damp" in the lower corners.  Uh oh, ...that's Stanley going potty on them!

In the summer, neighbors take early morning walks, so at the end of our walk we see neighbors either coming back inside the gates or leaving for their own exercise.  There is one neighbor that I've never seen before until last week.  She walks outside of the community and we normally run into her at the end of her walk when she enters the gates.  Now, Stanley is a CUTE doggie and adorable too...most people stop to greet him and he wags his tail in delight.  However, she is either deaf (because she doesn't reply when I say "good morning") or she is out right rude and unfriendly (because she walks passed us without even a nod of her head or smile).  Very odd for my neighborhood because we are a friendly community and for those who are not friendly they are at least courteous.

My preference is to walk with Stanley by ourselves, without any other dogs or people.  lol.  I do have a favorite dog/master pair, though, and we normally catch up on the evening walk.

One morning not too long ago, I was under a large tree and felt something hit my shoulder.  I thought it was a branch that a squirrel knocked loose; however, much to my surprise, it was a dead small bird.  Oh man!...poor thing but also NOT what I was expecting.  It's hard enough walking in this oppressive summer heat, much less having to deal with dead birds falling on me!

In the evenings when we walk, we have to deal with large grasshoppers and locusts.  Did you know that locusts are really large and that they sit in the middle of the street at night?  No?....well, I didn't either until I almost stepped on one and it started buzzing.  I had an immediate reaction of "run!"  ha.  In fact, if you even start to approach a locust it will start to buzz.  As if!

Nighttime walks are adventurous because it is dark (our community is "warmly and intimately" lighted which means there are no harsh lights...which means you walk up on large locusts without warning!) and the little bump in the street may be a leaf, a rock or a grasshopper or locust!  These things do not bother Stanley but they surely do me.  I HATE flying bugs.  Oh....I absolutely hate them!

ok...Back to our morning routine.  After our walk, I give Stanley his favorite treat, clean and refill his water bowl and then make my own breakfast.  He and I used to get in the car and drive to Starbucks, but I now enjoy eating at home.  I take my latte and toast to the living room sofa and Stanley has his treat, sitting next to me.  He looks out onto the patio and barks at the birds and squirrels.  Not too peaceful of a breakfast if you asked me, but it is a very pleasant routine that we both like.

You know, as I grow older I see life and its experiences differently.  I have changed my habits and routines to become more simple.  No longer is it about the go-go-go of the city life (including mornings at Starbucks), but instead it is about focusing on the essence of peace, security and joy of life.  I make a point to take care of myself.  I do things for myself to promote peace and balance inside and outside.  The benefit I have is that I live alone and am self-sustaining...something I've worked hard at my entire life.  I'm all about quiet days and nights, pleasant thoughts and calm environments.  It's not the noise or busy activity I'm after.  Instead, it's the balance of work and happiness, solitude and fellowship, independence and love.  

Life has changed since I got Stanley.  It makes me wonder how much more life would change if I got married.  Wow, now that's a deep thought!

Stanley after his morning walk and treat.  :)