Off-Leash

 

Happy Fat Tuesday!

Today our RV park had a Mardi Gras parade.  Industrious participants decorated a pickup truck in purple tissue paper and a million beaded necklaces.  Costumed revelers sat in the truck bed (one lovely lady donned a chicken hat) as the truck blasted its horn and played music while riding up and down rows of RVs. Candy and beads were tossed to the crowd.  Dawny picked up a few necklaces … ain’t she perty!!!

Dawny and I stuck to the rear of the parade, as there were lots of doggies there, and Dawny… well, Dawny continues to think she is boss of the world.  One four-legged participant, Bella (a dachshund-yorkie mix), trotted along  in the middle of the crowd as if she were the Queen, dressed in a glamorous outfit with an assortment of glittery beads and other bejeweled items.  She was magnificent.  I cast my primary vote for her:  Queen Bella!

People danced to the music and blossomed in their costumed glory.  It was a really sweet time.

After the parade, I attended the party of el Capitan and his lovely first mate.  As noted in my post of November 1, 2015 (“I Have a Friend”), el Capitan bought a new-used sailboat recently.  This pre-launch party celebrated all of the effort that has gone into making his ship seaworthy, strong, and beautiful.  Ah, dreamers.  Where would we be without dreamers?

A week or so ago, a gentleman we often encounter on our walks commented that Dawny would probably be happier if she were off-leash.  Yes, he is absolutely right.  But that is not her world now, at least not literally.

It’s mine.

And it is the world of those around me.

I look around at so many of my friends, my neighbors, and I see people who are living outside of the box.  Many are retirees who are getting the most out of their lives and doing so on their terms.  I suspect that’s how many of them lived their lives prior to retirement, while others may be late bloomers.

Not all are of retirement age.  Some are finding ways to earn a living and travel in their homes on wheels, making ends meet in one fashion or another.

All look pretty off-leash to me.  Dreamers, taking charge, making it real.  Put strands of Mardi Gras beads around their neck, a silly hat on their head, and it looks absolutely natural.  Year round.

Would that we all could be so free.  So celebratory.  Always.

Doggy-Bloggy My Way Highway

Gotta love my Mom–or at least I have to–but she’s such a blog hog!  I’ve been hinting for weeks that I have a bunch of stuff to tell you, but does she listen?  Nooooo.  As I have astutely pointed out before, she figures that since she does all the driving and shopping and cooking and cleaning, she gets first dibs on blog posts.  And second.  And third . . .

Ah, but today she is all tuckered out and she has handed the keys to the blog over to me.  So we are going on a drive together, you and me.  Down Doggy-Bloggy My Way Highway.

There are tons of experts around (especially if you use google!) who can tell you all about full-time living and traveling in an RV.  But there’s only one me.  Here are my top tips (some are strictly meant for four-legged travelers, some for two, some for both–use your discretion, carefully):

  • Grab as many wet kisses as you can.  It turns a complete stranger into an instant friend just like that.  And when you’re on the road as much as I am, the world is full of strangers and potential friends.
  • Lift your leg and pee as high as possible, especially if you’re a girl.  My Uncle Buster used to do cartwheels to get his pee higher on the fire hydrant than the previous depositor.  He was kinda small (22 pounds fresh out of the bathwater) but had major attitude!
  • Don’t even try to wrap your head around the fact that your yard is constantly changing.  Just hop out and enjoy it, smell the poop, and mark the roses.
  • Then hop back into your house on wheels and, regardless of where it rolls to next, be grateful that all the trappings of home (especially your traveling companion . . . and cookies!) roll right along with you.
  • Don’t fret over goodbyes.  It turns out that these things don’t just travel in straight lines.  They can go in circles, too.  We’ve been back to see my boy three times now since we first set out, and old and new friends keep popping up over and over again.  Pretty cool.

FullSizeRender-973Yup, it’s a good life.  Very different from the one I had grown so used to.  Did you know I am considered a senior now?  Ya, I’m like somewhere around 70 or 80 in people years.  Well, I can’t think of a better way to show off this old dog’s new tricks.  Roll on!

With love and wet kisses,

Dawny Virgil Prewash Sassy . . .

So Brave!

I used to be so brave.  Or stupid.  Or young.  Or perhaps all of those things rolled up together, each egging the other on like a group of boisterous teens drag racing at 2:00 a.m. on a school night, oblivious to–or perhaps dismissive of–all potential consequences, near and far.

On our (leisurely) drive to our current campground in Tennessee, I was lucky to get good radio reception for NPR. I love NPR. It makes me so much smarter, at least for awhile, until I forget most of what I’ve heard. Frances Jensen, a neuroscientist-researcher-author-mother, was being interviewed about her book on the developing brain (The Teenage Brain).  She was inspired to delve into the subject when her children were teenagers and she desperately wanted some clue as to why they behaved so incredibly, well, stupid sometimes.  It turns out that until you are in your mid-20’s, the brain is simply not all there. Especially the prefrontal cortex, which is the part capable of taming the wild side.

I sure did recognize myself when she talked about teenagers’ high risk-taking and impetuous decision-making tendencies.  In my wild years, I went camping in this general area of Tennessee.  On one hike I climbed to the top of a beautiful waterfall, seeking the promise of an even more beautiful view from on high.  Before the climb, I passed a sign reading “Danger! Do Not Climb Past This Point!”  It went on to say how many people had died so far that year by not heeding its sage advice.  It gave me pause–hmmm, I wonder who the people were behind those numbers–but only a pause.  Upon reaching the summit, I promptly slipped on the mossy rocks and nearly slid off the edge of the falls, straight through that beautiful horizon.  Brave?  Dumb?  Oblivious?  All of the above.

Nearly forty years later, I find myself at this lovely state park a ways east of that waterfall.  Dawny and I are enjoying our walks through the campground and surrounding area, including a gentle stretch of riverfront.  But, as usual, I avoid paths that go through wooded areas.  Dawny tugs at her leash when we come across tempting openings into the woods–I wonder what her prefrontal cortex looks like–but I generally pull her back towards civilization and try to ignore the way she looks at me over her shoulder with distinct disappointment.  I’m just too afraid of bears and snakes and wild pigs and who knows what else coming at us while we are far from any possible help.

The other day, though, our luck and our pace shifted.  We came across a park ranger who was heading into one of the wooded paths to pick up litter and check on things back there, and he let us accompany him.  We walked along a lively creek and came upon a bunch of wild turkeys.  In another part of the park, we followed a ridge trail that wound along high above the river.  In spots, if you were to slip and fall, you would be smashed on the rocks below.  Then drowned.  Then probably eaten by a bear.  I had to be careful not to look too closely over the edge, as it set my stomach churning and my imagination shooting off into dark, illogical corners.

Finding a spot not too close to the edge with a nice break in the trees, I was treated to a breathtaking picture.  Blue-gray mountains in the distance, framed by pouffy white clouds in a crystal blue sky, forest all around, and the churning river below.  What a treat!

Maybe what I used to think of as brave was no more courageous than what I’m doing now, even though I was able to do so much more then.  Now, I practically have to have an escort to stray very far off the same path that, as a youth, I would charge up without a second thought.  Now, I’m much more aware of my own, personal horizon and its steady approach, regardless of which path I happen to be dithering along.

Well, at least I’m out here, following my dream.  It’s a pretty tame dream, and pretty safe.  But its mine, and I love it.  That might be what bravery is now, at this point of life.  My brain is reverting back to some semblance of that teenage condition as my prefrontal cortex surrenders in exhaustion from everything I’ve put it through over the years. It’s throwing up its little brain hands and squeaking in a grand-motherly voice, “Fine!  Take me where you will!  Just don’t speed, eat your vegetables, wear practical shoes . . . .  And please, do enjoy that view.”