Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Another Rainy Day

My Florida house. You can see it needs cosmetic work.

The side yard.

From the back of the property towards the street.

From the street to the back of the property.

My "out" building in the back.

Tom in front of the house. The house looks like it's leaning to the right, but it actually isn't. I don't think.
This change of season has got me tired out. Or else I'm still recovering from the St. Augustine trip. Planning on moving there sends me all over the emotional map, and that sort of travel is stressful.

Last night I went to the first meeting of the gospel singing workshop that was to be held in the town next to me, instead of on the shoreline where I had done it a few years ago. Unfortunately, only 5 people showed up, so the director cancelled that venue, and three of us decided we would drive to Guilford and do the workshop the director is still organizing out there. Such a disappointment, and I was annoyed at the people who were supposed to do the publicity, and clearly had no idea HOW to do outreach and publicity. So now it's another schlep out to Guilford, but three of us have decided to carpool, so at least that is something.

It's so odd. Three of my new friends live on the shoreline: Clinton, Madison, and Old Saybrook. All nearly an hour's drive from where I am. Seven of my older friends live out that way too. Oh how I wish I had been able to find a place to live out there. I like where I am living here, but I'm constantly driving out to the shoreline for something. My dog trainer is out there, my vet, my primary care doc.

Another disappointment. The woman who was going to go with me to St. John island to celebrate my 60th birthday told me yesterday she cannot go, as she has to have a hip replacement in early December. I knew she was in pain, and was just about to write her and ask if she thought she could do the trip, when I received her email. She has degenerative joint disease, has already had two knees replaced, now this hip, and will have to have the other hip done eventually. And she has constant pain in her neck. But she doesn't complain and does quite a bit of travelling for her job. I have written a bunch of other friends to see if anyone else wants to go with me. If not I will have to bag the trip for now, and make another plan.

Tried to go to a halloween party last Saturday night. Drove to Clinton in the pouring rain, got lost, couldn't find the house, called the person's cell phone, she didn't pick up. I got so annoyed, I turned around and started home. I stopped at the bank to make a deposit, and when I was backing up ran my car into a dumptster, now I have new scratches on the back fender. I don't get why these cars have this cheap plastic fenders instead of those heavy black rubber bumpers that could withstand anything. My old Corolla hardly had a dent on it cause it's bumpers were so protective.

Yesterday my 14 year old neighbor A. came over and helped me with some chores. Put a bunch of stuff out on the curb for bulk trash, dug up the canna corms (tubers?), spent some time trying to get runaway Bindi back into the house (so much for being a good citizen -- she still won't come when called when we are outside; the test itself was inside, and she does the recall fine indoors.) Went to physical therapy, my next to last session, and dropped off a Kenmore sewing machine that I had found in someone else's bulk trash to see if it was salvageable. The person to whom it belonged said he thought it just needed some oiling and such, so we'll see. It's an older model that was in a decent cabinet, and the there is a machine repair shop right near the physical therapy place, so that saved me ANOTHER TRIP OUT TO THE SHORELINE WHERE THE OTHER SEWING MACHINE REPAIR SHOP IS.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Nation's "Oldest City"

According to the white colonists, anyway. " . . . the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European origin in North America. The plaza also is the nation's oldest town square, laid out by Spanish settlers in 1598. " Here are some photos from my recent trip there.

Road to Tidewater, J & T's place.

Farmer's Market

I'd never seen eggplant this small.

St. Augustine Beach. The water temperature
was 82 degrees.

Can anyone identify this plant?

A very popular doorway that is often photographed in the town.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Yea, Bindi! She passed the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Test today!

Here's what she had to accomplish:

AKC’s Canine Good Citizen® (CGC) Program
Training/Testing: CGC Test Items

Before taking the Canine Good Citizen test, owners will sign the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge. We believe that responsible dog ownership is a key part of the CGC concept and by signing the pledge, owners agree to take care of their dog's health needs, safety, exercise, training and quality of life. Owners also agree to show responsibility by doing things such as cleaning up after their dogs in public places and never letting dogs infringe on the rights of others.
After signing the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge, owners and their dogs are ready to take the CGC Test. Items on the Canine Good Citizen Test include:

Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger
This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. The evaluator walks up to the dog and handler and greets the handler in a friendly manner, ignoring the dog. The evaluator and handler shake hands and exchange pleasantries. The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness, and must not break position or try to go to the evaluator.

Test 2: Sitting politely for petting
This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. With the dog sitting at the handler's side, to begin the exercise, the evaluator pets the dog on the head and body. The handler may talk to his or her dog throughout the exercise. The dog may stand in place as it is petted. The dog must not show shyness or resentment.

Test 3: Appearance and grooming
This practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so. It also demonstrates the owner's care, concern and sense of responsibility. The evaluator inspects the dog to determine if it is clean and groomed. The dog must appear to be in healthy condition (i.e., proper weight, clean, healthy and alert). The handler should supply the comb or brush commonly used on the dog. The evaluator then softly combs or brushes the dog, and in a natural manner, lightly examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot. It is not necessary for the dog to hold a specific position during the examination, and the handler may talk to the dog, praise it and give encouragement throughout.

Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog may be on either side of the handler. The dog's position should leave no doubt that the dog is attentive to the handler and is responding to the handler's movements and changes of direction. The dog need not be perfectly aligned with the handler and need not sit when the handler stops. The evaluator may use a pre-plotted course or may direct the handler/dog team by issuing instructions or commands. In either case, there should be a right turn, left turn, and an about turn with at least one stop in between and another at the end. The handler may talk to the dog along the way, praise the dog, or give commands in a normal tone of voice. The handler may sit the dog at the halts if desired.

Test 5: Walking through a crowd
This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three). The dog may show some interest in the strangers but should continue to walk with the handler, without evidence of over-exuberance, shyness or resentment. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise the dog throughout the test. The dog should not jump on people in the crowd or strain on the leash.

Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place
This test demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler's commands to sit and down and will remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the handler prefers). The dog must do sit AND down on command, then the owner chooses the position for leaving the dog in the stay. Prior to this test, the dog's leash is replaced with a line 20 feet long. The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and use more than one command to get the dog to sit and then down. The evaluator must determine if the dog has responded to the handler's commands. The handler may not force the dog into position but may touch the dog to offer gentle guidance. When instructed by the evaluator, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward the length of the line, turns and returns to the dog at a natural pace. The dog must remain in the place in which it was left (it may change position) until the evaluator instructs the handler to release the dog. The dog may be released from the front or the side.

Test 7: Coming when called
This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog. The handler may use encouragement to get the dog to come. Handlers may choose to tell dogs to "stay" or "wait" or they may simply walk away, giving no instructions to the dog.

Test 8: Reaction to another dog
This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.

Test 9: Reaction to distraction
This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations. The evaluator will select and present two distractions. Examples of distractions include dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog, having a jogger run in front of the dog, or dropping a crutch or cane. The dog may express natural interest and curiosity and/or may appear slightly startled but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness, or bark. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise it throughout the exercise.

Test 10: Supervised separation
This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, "Would you like me to watch your dog?" and then take hold of the dog's leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine, or pace unnecessarily, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness. Evaluators may talk to the dog but should not engage in excessive talking, petting, or management attempts (e.g, "there, there, it's alright").

All tests must be performed on leash. Dogs should wear well-fitting buckle or slip collars made of leather, fabric, or chain. Special training collars such as pinch collars, head halters, etc. are not permitted in the CGC test. We recognize that special training collars may be very useful tools for beginning dog trainers, however, we feel that dogs are ready to take the CGC test at the point at which they are transitioned to regular collars.
The evaluator supplies a 20-foot lead for the test. The owner/handler should bring the dog's brush or comb to the test.

EncouragementOwners/handlers may use praise and encouragement throughout the test. The owner may pet the dog between exercises. Food and treats are not permitted during testing, nor is the use of toys, squeaky toys, etc. to get the dog to do something. We recognize that food and toys may provide valuable reinforcement or encouragement during the training process but these items should not be used during the test.

Failures – Dismissals
Any dog that eliminates during testing must be marked failed. The only exception to this rule is that elimination is allowable in test Item 10, but only when test Item 10 is held outdoors.

Any dog that growls, snaps, bites, attacks, or attempts to attack a person or another dog is not a good citizen and must be dismissed from the test.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I'm So Tired

I'm so tired, I haven't slept a wink
I'm so tired, my mind is on the blink
I wonder should I get up and fix myself a drink
No,no,no. --The Beatles

Actually I did sleep. Yesterday was killer. Had an mri on my right foot in the morning. Forgot to tell them to put a pillow under my knees before the procedure, and didn't think I would make it thru the half hour, my knees were aching so badly. I did make it thru, but just barely. Almost cried. Hope to finally find out what this pain is I've had for a couple of years that comes and goes on that foot. Drove home.

Had a physical therapy appt. in the afternoon. The physical therapist said I have only two sessions left, and she was sad about not seeing me, so we made plans to get together after my sessions are done. That was nice. Drove home.

In the early evening was Bindi's Canine Good Citizen test cram session. She did well on everything but the sit and stay part where I have to walk ten feet away and she has to stay put. She kept trying to come to me. Turns out I've been giving her mixed messages again about the sit and stay thing. And she was nervous. I felt like such a dope. The test is on Sunday. I so hope she will pass, but if she doesn't, we'll just do it again. I think I'll cry either way. Training a dog is hard work. I missed her terribly when I was in Florida.

After the cram session I went to the market for food. Drove home. Long day of much activity.

Was supposed to have a dental cleaning today for myself, but called the ID doc who had told me I have to be on antibiotics before any dental work is done because of the artificial knees. I'm already on doxycycline, but was smart enough to call her yesterday to ask if I was on a sufficient dose for the cleaning. Turns out she has to prescribe a different antibiotic for the time around the dental cleaning, so had to cancel the appt. and now have to get yet another drug. My insurance company surely hates customers like me, but pharma loves me.

So I've got a full day ahead with nothing much I have to do. Might go to some classical Indian dance tonight, as my good friend G. always invites me to these things. She is Indian. Will give me a chance to wear the lovely silk garment she had made for me on one of her trips back to her country.

Fall is in full bloom here, and it might be my last one before I move to Florida. Yesterday around 5.40 as the sun was low in the sky there were a couple of gold leaved trees glowing like neon in the late afternoon light. So gorgeous. Will try to get out this weekend and take some photos now that I know the best time of day to do it. North Florida does have a change of season believe it or not. There are even some desiduous trees in my yard that lose their leaves. Can't remember if they change color or just drop leaves.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"I think therefore I . . . ARRRF!"

Went for a walk on the beach yesterday morning with J. The air temp was cool, but the water temp was very warm. He says the salt water helps heal the poison ivy on his foot. Got the NY Times at Barnes & Noble, then a quick stop at Target, back home. Had to lay down for a while; was anxious about my niece coming to visit from her conference in Orlando. Met her at the Winn Dixie, the easiest place off the turnpike, and we went on the train tour of old St. Augustine, comp tickets from T. who works there. Saw some awesome pooches across the street, went to visit them. Found out one of the owners of the Newfie was a dog trainer who said that St. Augustine is a very dog-friendly town, which is why he came here. Another woman had some fluffy white puppy, way too cute, and there was a street artist right there as well. A friendly tactile encounter all around. Cold on the train, but interesting nonetheless. Had done it once before, but hadn't remembered much. Showed her my house and some of the neighborhood, and J & T's yard (they were home but not feeling well). I was afraid she wouldn't like the hood and my house, but she said she did.

Showed her the wavy ocean out at Vilano Beach. Nice dinner at the fancy Casa Monica hotel restaurant, then I took her back to her car. Thanks, dear E., for making the trip. Made me happy.

9.30pm Monday

Cool/cold again this morning, around 55 degrees again; got up to around 70 maybe. T. was home again sick with IBS; poor man. I went out exploring, first to SM &JH's place, but they weren't home, were supposed to be back in an hour. Felt very depressed. Went to get a cappuccino, visited a pet store and got very sad looking at the cat and doggie sympathy cards. Drove around some of the back streets of St. A, went into a gift shop, bought nothing, then back to JH/SM's place. JH was home, and we chatted for a while. JM showed up a while later. I had met her at a potluck supper on Saturday night, even tho it turns out I had met her once before. We had been emailing back and forth for a while since she was in CT for ten years and we knew some of the same people. The potluck was pleasant enough, and I was very open about my ambivalence about moving here. They all had different takes on the place, but they all liked it. JH said St. A is on the 30th meridian earth-wise, whatever that means, but it seems to bring good energy to a place. Some complained about the heat, some about the lack of "culture" (they were mostly New Yorkers), but none spoke of leaving. When I left, one woman who I had barely spoken to said, "The only thing missing from St. Augustine is . . . you." How nice is that?!

Before that potluck, I had coffee with the woman who sold me the house here, and even though she would like to leave, she can't imagine leaving all the friends she has made. She's been here 20 years and just wants to be somewhere else, she's not even sure where. Everyone thinks it makes sense to move here, occupy the house and property, reduce my expenses, fix things up, and then see how it goes. It surely makes sense. I just wish I could go POOF! and it would be done.

Back to today: JM and I went swimming in S's mom's across the street outdoor salt water pool. Ninety four degrees. The air was chilly, but the pool was so warm and comforting. My knees liked it. JM and I had a good chat. The resident doggie is some kind of corgi mix named Jasper who was adorable and sweet. Wasn't expecting to get into water today, so it felt very luxurious to be offered a swim in such a pool.

Friday, October 16, 2009


. . . a little better, all the time . . .

Just got back from the Present Moment cafe in my neighborhood, a vegan, raw foods cafe that is new since I was here last. I was most pleasantly surprised by the deliciousness of a pad thai made with kelp noodles that was scrumptious. Plus two glasses of organic, non-sulfite wine. A couple of very friendly people sat next to me at the bar, and I learned that Sicilian wine does not leave you hungover when you drink it there, as it is fresh and local, and has no sulfites either, and this gentleman comes to this cafe for the unadulterated booze. My server was most helpful and informative, very kind and I felt completely at home there. I'll for sure be going back.

Visited a couple of art galleries before dinner, beautiful stuff, and more good conversations with the staff. Before that went to the new Soloman Calhoun rec center, with its very nice outdoor pool. Weirdly, the women's and men's locker rooms only had one shower each. J & T had told me not to go to that "neighborhood" cause it was "dangerous," people got shot during the daytime there. Well, of course that freaked me out, but then I spoke with I. who said that was ridiculous, the facility was brand new. It's in a solidly African American working class neighborhood, but I saw no signs of danger at all. But I am wondering if the lack of showers is in some strange way connected to being asked on the sign in form to declare my ethnicity. The white woman at the desk said I didn't have to, but I said I didn't mind. The swim team there seemed mostly caucasian, and the pool itself was huge. Things are very different here.

I visited my house with the property manager and T. this morning. The house needs a lot of cosmetic work, but still the yard is huge, fenced in, and the young men living there seem to be taking care of things well enough. J. said the house has "good bones.". My closest neighbors seems to be doing some very nice landscaping. Dell, the young man living there with a roommate, said there is some street noise from the cars, which doesn't thrill me since I am living now in a place that is completely quiet. But it's a small street, not a main thoroughfare, so how bad can it be?

I went to visit R. for a while this morning, to break the ice a bit. She immediately, before even asking how I was, had to show me her house and a bunch of other stuff I was not interested in, but then I told her what I'd been going thru the past two years and she was able to muster about 20 minutes of attention, before putting the focus back on herself. I felt very depressed after talking with her.

Coincidentally, my niece E. is at a conference in Orlando, so we might try to meet up in Daytona on Sunday. She lives in Chicago and I haven't seen her in a couple of years, so would love to see and talk with her.

Stopped at the post office to get some stamps and met Cesar, an employee there and a friend of J & T's. He was very very nice, and really good lookin'.

I've got some photos, will post at a later date.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

St. Augustine

Ok, I'm here, with my friends T & J. It feels weird. Not being with them, they are being so gracious and funny. But being in this town, which is so different from CT. T and I went into the ocean today. It was warm and wavy. I've got some plans to meet up with some other folks in the next few days. Will visit my house tomorrow with the property manager. Moving here would be so very different from the northeast, at least the places I have lived. The neighborhood where my house is located is quite funky, old Florida, and I fear I have been spoiled by first living in Guilford and then Hamden, both solidly middle and upper middle class communities. I'm embarrassed to admit I may be experiencing some classism in myself, which I really hate. Did working at Yale too long do that to me? Things are slowly gentrifying here, but not fast enough perhaps? Uck. Being in the ocean was wonderful, but how will I deal with heat and humidity for months on end? I can easily drive to parts of St. Augustine that are "classy," big homes for the rich, fancy expensive shops, but that's not me either. Maybe being in the Hamptons last weekend, which is charming AND classy seduced me. But I had a meltdown at the reception after the friends I came with left, and I was there by myself with less good friends. What does that mean? I was better after i left the reception and went to the house I was staying, and could get into bed and be alone for the night. And the ride back the next day was fun. I'm very confused. I'm just trying to take this day by day, have a vacation, and not feel I have to make a decision, just experience the place again after not having been here for several years.

And Bindi is not with me. She's with Achilles, the doberman, and Peeve (as in pet), the Boston terrier, and I'm sure is having a great time. I miss Camilla and Misty. I miss my Hamden house, even though I'm often lonely there. What is going on? Am I just stuck in the familiarity of CT?
Uck, again.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


This is my niece's new dog, Phil. I'm a little bit envious as I would love to rescue a greyhound. Apparently Phil's previous owner's did nothing with him for six years, no socializing with other dogs or people, so the poor guy is scared and freaked out. Kudos to E. and her hubby for rescuing this beautiful animal.

I've got a mud mask on my face. I figure 60 isn't too old (or young) to start taking care of my skin. I neglected it for years, just washed it with whatever soap was around, with my hands. Amazingly, mud masks really have a benefit.

Camilla woke me up this morning bolting out of her cat bed leaving a pile of diarrhea, that in her haste to leave also left bits on my duvet cover and THE CURTAINS!! You don't have to guess how happy that made me. A hundred dollars later for more medication; seems she wasn't on the meds for her bladder/kidney infection long enough. Did I mention I have carpeting in every room but the kitchen and utility room? Let's not even go there . . .

T. called and asked if I was up for a swim. He's such a delight to hang with, that I said sure, and we had a nice time chatting and swimming laps in the pool. Of course I used the hot tub beforehand to warm up my knees. After I went to the community garden and picked some basil to make pesto. Picked some dahlias for my therapist, then went to the natural foods store for pine nuts. Sixteen ninety nine a pound, and I had no idea how many I needed, so I bought half a pound. Thirty one bucks for half a bag of groceries! Let me know when you get sick of me complaining about how much things cost.

So I made the pesto and I think it came out right, but I realize I'm not that fond of pesto afterall. Made dog food for Bindi, some movie about Darwin on PBS is playing in the background.

I heard a statistic on the news that reported nearly one in every two children in the world live in poverty.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Quotidian Quotables

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back-- Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no [one] could have dreamed would have come her way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

-- attributed to Goethe

I love good quotes. But I'm bad at writing them down when I come across them, so I forget them all. But maybe the essence is stuck in my consciousness somewhere.

Since I've been using Facebook, I've been blogging much less. I guess cause more people read my FB messages than my blog. I do like the silly and serious things my friends write on FB; it truly feels like an online community.

These are photos of the dressmaker's studio where I went last Tuesday with a friend who is having her wedding dress made there. I can't post a photo of her dress, cause it's a secret. I'll just say it's pale pink dupioni silk. The wedding is this weekend, on Long Island. I'll go out there very early on Saturday with M. and the girls, taking the ferry across the Sound, then driving a couple of hours till we get to the venue. I'm staying overnight. Still waiting to hear if Bindi is allowed to come, although she won't attend the ceremony and dinner.

Still doing physical therapy for my knees, and riding the stationary bike and swimming some. This physical therapist is the best I've had so far, and it's about time. I've been walking Bindi, trying to farther and farther (further and further?) each day. She loves her walks. And congrats to my niece E. and her husband, who just adopted a very handsome six year old greyhound named Phil. He needs some work in the training department, but what dog doesn't? What human doesn't?!

Watched Immortal Beloved on the telly the other day, the story of Beethoven's life, with Gary Oldman and Isabella Rossellini. It was fascinating, although how much of it was true I do not know. According to the movie, Beethoven's deafness was likely caused by his father's cruel physical abuse of him as a child. The soundtrack was lovely.

I've signed up for the gospel singing workshop again, the one I did twice when I lived in Guilford. But now the director is doing another one in the town right next to mine, so I've got no excuse not to do it.

I've started keeping track of how much money I spend every day. It's crazy. Pet food, coffee, doctors' co-pays, a new modem, gym fees, farmer's market, vet bills, meals, gasoline, airline tickets, postage, dvd rentals, supermarket. Living on a pension and social security disability is just not enough. And I'm not even an extravagant spender. When I was pulling down a salary, I didn't have to pay attention as closely as I am having to now, and I do not like it.

My guitar teacher moved away.