Interesting Discussion……

I have once again been put onto a news story that became more complex than originally anticipated. Our once a week paper doesn’t have “breaking news”, although I do get short-notice calls at times to scramble to get a story when the timing is right (or generally wrong from my perspective). As I may have mentioned in a previous post, notwithstanding the fact I wanted to be a writer from around age 9 or so, I never wanted to be a reporter. (Sorry, Lois Lane) I still resist the term despite having been writing for the paper here for quite a while. And yes, I really do contribute to the community.

Anyway, a gentleman who has a service dog due to his PTSD from his Army years did an editorial about “Fake Service Dogs” that was passed along to our paper. Since it involved a former military individual, it came my way. His letter was very pointed at people who are falsely having their pets declared as emotional support animals (ESA) and causing problems for genuine service animals.

In being fair to those who function from misunderstanding as opposed to selfishness, there are actually four categories; service, emotional support, comfort, and therapy dogs. (Yes, there are other animals used, but we’ll stick to dogs here) In essence, service dogs are highly trained, specifically so to behave safely in public places. Although the remaining types have been shown to provide benefits, the same level of training is rarely the case. ( has a lot of detail).

There is plenty of data to show the health benefits of having a dog. As more people seek to have a dog declared in an ESA capacity, the focus may shift more to what benefit the human receives than to the training/temperament of the dog. In other words, while a dog may bring comfort. etc., to the human half of the pair, how does it behave in public, especially if it is crowded? To add to this, capitalism and entrepreneurship being what they are, identification of ESAs has become a marketable commodity.  On-line sites provide the identification, vest, and leash for the dog for a fee. Of the two sites I checked, my impression was the prime consideration was not about the dog. One expert with a service dog organization said there are sites that will issue the documentation based on nothing more than a photo of the dog.

Being unwilling to acknowledge the unsuitability of a dog is no different than someone who doesn’t recognize when their child is ill-behaved. Deliberately having a dog falsely declared as an ESA is no different from an able-bodied person borrowing a Handicap tag in order to get a better parking place. As I said, I discovered some interesting things during my research.



Ah, The First Nutcracker….

While I don’t do much “grandma” stuff on the blog, our granddaughter will be in her first Nutcracker performance this year – part of the Mouse Army, as is common. She actually was in the Spring performance in June as a “chick” and apparently the kinder ballet instructor is having to explain to the budding ballerinas that these are different movements.

At any rate, I remember when my sister and I guess it was another mom took young sons to their first Nutcracker in Houston. It was a gala affair with getting dressed up and enjoying either dinner before or perhaps it was ice cream treats after in addition to the wonder of the experience. (That has been quite a while ago.) For reasons that I don’t exactly recall; probably because we had back-to-back overseas assignments, our son didn’t attend his first Nutcracker until he was in middle school in Hawaii. He enjoyed it and somewhat ironically, he didn’t seem enamored of it. I don’t think the later “spark” was initiated that evening, but who knows if there was a lingering impact. I’ve lost count of the number of times he has now been in Nutcrackers and doing the Russian Dance for Delta Festival Ballet in New Orleans was his first professional appearance as in someone paid him. He generally dances at least two and sometimes three each season, although this year it’s only one, plus “A Christmas Carol” for a studio that often calls on him. There is a scheduling conflict with New Orleans, so he won’t be able to join them this year. On the other hand, that means he isn’t flying back on Christmas Eve for a change. That will make the week of Christmas a bit less hectic for them.

Granddaughter dressed up for the first ballet she attended.

New Hummingbird and Bee….

Just had company in for a few days, plus had an unexpected deadline today, so got off-track a bit. I can’t post a photo because certain creatures are really fast. The first morning our friend was visiting, she was admiring the way the backyard had been refreshed. She made a comment about the hummingbird. No, we don’t have a hummingbird – must have been one of the big butterflies. But, she was correct as the little thing zipped rapidly past and flew off. He (or she) seems to only come around in the morning, so we may be on some kind of “yard circuit”. Hubby is trying to figure out how he’ll manage to get a photo at some point.

In checking some of the other plants, though we had also seen a very strange looking flying insect. I got close enough the other day to try a photo with no success. I gave up and posted the description on Facebook. One of my gardening/nature loving friends came back with this: “Could be a mason bee. They are solitary bees, no hives, and are iridescent green. They are native and do not sting. They hover and don’t seem to be afraid of people.”

That matched the description perfectly and so barring any more input, we’re sticking with that. In fact, we seem to have more bees this year than ever before. We also have mostly small butterflies with the larger ones mixed in. What we don’t have yet are buntings, at least not that we know of. Oh well, those may also appear before too long. The one hibiscus we had in back didn’t survive the movement from one spot to the other after all. Hubby is thinking about whether to plant a new one or go with something else. We do have the three our front so maybe a change.

Always Enjoyed Walking, But….

I have posted before about my constant struggle with weight. While I might not be the poster child for yo-yo-dieting, I could be in the running. During my Army days, it wasn’t as intense as I was younger and of course, we had strict weight limits as well as constant physical fitness training with required runs three days per week. In my waning days, there was the time I was cajoled into running a half-marathon, but that was most assuredly a one-time event.

Anyway, I hated to jog and after retiring, I swapped to walking instead which I did enjoy. I managed to not put on too much weight, then circumstances with available time changed and I allowed myself to basically get out of control. My aging didn’t help, nor was it the single defining cause. Despite having put on extra weight, I’ve always kept up a program of walking at least four times a week, using time walking as opposed to distance. What I hadn’t realized was my efforts had become less effective. I had previously posted about us getting a stationary recumbent bicycle after I injured my knee. At that time, I was using a combination of walking some days and on the bike others. A few years ago during my travels, I was on a treadmill in a hotel gym. I did the usual amount of time and comfortable pace/elevation. Then I looked at the number of calories burned and saw it was less than when I used the bike. There was also the one age-related factor of being out for a walk and needing to go to the bathroom. I admittedly cut the walk short by a few minutes on more than one occasion to make sure I arrived back at the house in time.

Despite the delays due to an improperly installed part, Hubby did keep working with the manufacturers of the new recumbent bike and it is fully functional. Indeed, there are functions I have no idea how to use and that’s okay. It gives me the kind of exercise I need. Well, the kind I’m willing to do. No doubt a trainer would tell me I could do more.

Halloween Prep….

We live in a neighborhood where there are already a great many children. For reasons we don’t quite understand, residents invite friends/family to our gated community for Halloween which expands the population even more. We are generally here and I usually buy seven large bags of candy (we get the good stuff) and even with that, we often have none left for the latecomers. Now, to be honest, we think no one should still be out looking for treats much past 8:30. Anyway, I had already bought five or six bags with the intent of rounding out the stock when I discovered we probably had another commitment that evening. We talked it over and decided not to put any decorations out since we weren’t going to be at home.

We have some new neighbors moving in across the street. It’s a local move so they have been back and forth a good bit doing things. I took most of the candy and asked if they were going to be there for Halloween. They weren’t sure, but they also get lots of kids in their current location, plus they have four of their own, so were happy to take the offering. I did hold out two bags in case we returned home earlier than expected. We didn’t and even though there were still “creatures” out, it was coming up on 9:00. We made the decision to leave the lights off rather than get something started at that hour. Which means I now have too much leftover candy. As soon as Hubby chooses what he wants to keep, I’ll make another trip across the street. In talking with people who live in other neighborhoods, some were all set and got basically no kids. As we said though, had they not been ready,  dozens would probably have shown up.

Things Do Have To Give At Times….

Ah, there are often “ripple effects” that impact our plans and November is a prime example. The big scuba trade show is held in Orlando every other year and we always go. It’s a great time to meet up with people we sometimes only see there, attend interesting seminars, enjoy Orlando restaurants, and we often add on a day or two to do something at either Disney or Universal. We were all set to make our reservations when Hubby realized they changed the dates by a week this year for reasons that I don’t know. That put it in direct conflict with the NASCAR Championship Week. Aside from the fact Hubby loves to cover this, NASCAR has decided to rotate the Championship in the same way as other major sports. This will be the last time it’s held in Homestead for the foreseeable future since there are 22 other tracks where NASCAR runs. Therefore, there was no way the scuba show could have a higher priority. We’ll put out a Facebook post soon to let all our dive buddies know we won’t be around this year.

Next up are Thanksgiving plans. Our tradition is to go to Covington to see Hubby’s family. The ripple effect this time is going to be availability of that group due to some medical issues (nothing life-threatening) and other travel plans. I’m still trying to get a handle on all that. There are also multiple events here in November, some of which are overlapping although most just require some tricky scheduling.

Lastly is my anticipated publishing of, “Small Town Quilting Treasures”, the final of four books in the series. The editor had some events occur which delayed that process and it is highly questionable if I can do a Thanksgiving release. I didn’t have my heart set on that one, so I will simply adjust to whatever makes sense once I know what all has to be done with the manuscript.

Electronic Gremlins….

As I have previously posted, many of us have become so accustomed and at least somewhat dependent on electronics today, we have to change our patterns when problems arise. My poor laptop was having issues which of course merely worsened as the days went by. Taking it into the “Geeks”, however, meant leaving it, and that of course meant selecting which files to back up. As an aside, I do have an on-line backup service, but that’s for this computer, not the travel one I would be temporarily using. Okay, I finally get the laptop in, then discover I’m having a connectivity issue with my travel computer which was fine mere weeks ago as I traveled. After the usual burst of loud profanity on my part, Hubby came over and managed to get me connected. Fortunately, my laptop required only a short stay with the Geeks. All seems to be well now and I’ll wait couple of weeks to take the other one in. There appears to be a problem with a driver of some sort and I have now exhausted my technical knowledge.

Okay, so we’ve been waiting for the arrival of the DVD of season five of the TV show Shetland (great show I think I posted about before). Hubby goes to remove the DVD in the player and can’t. He messes with it for a while and determines no amount of effort will prevail. I suggested we go upstairs to the small TV and he countered with using the one in the master instead. I did point out we hadn’t used it in probably five years and I doubted it still worked. I was correct, and by that stage we were getting close to my regular bedtime. Episodes of Shetland are complicated and there are the Scottish accents to follow; not something to do when I’m not at least somewhat fresh. Hubby will go in search of new DVD player/players today, and no, we haven’t signed on to any of the streaming services yet.

About The Saints Football Team….

As I have previously posted, Hubby is the big football fan,but I’ve come to appreciate it more since watching with him. However, being in a traditionally male career included understanding enough about football to “join in” during social events that included watching a game. Also, when one grows up with a hometown/home state team, there is often a certain degree of fondness. I do believe I may have indeed posted about the Saints several years ago. New Orleans is a great place to visit and I did set “Georgina’s Grief” there and it does feature in some chapters in the upcoming, “Small Town Quilting Treasures.”

The team, though, does not have a long history of being a winning team. There was a time when faithful, yet sparse fans donned paper bags with “Ain’ts” written on them rather than Saints. On the other hand, New Orleans is a party city and partying in consolation works almost as well as celebration. They once hired a well-known coach to try and turn the team around. I knew it would not be a good fit because from my perspective, the individual simply didn’t have a compatible attitude with the fans. He was a good coach, by the way; just not the right one for New Orleans. Then along came the current coach and Drew Brees. I always find it fascinating when one or two individuals can have such a tremendous impact. There are those though who can definitely, “bring out the best” in people, or in this case, a team. Don’t get me wrong, there were other players and staff brought in to build on success, yet the real catalyst was Brees. Now, there is the other notable individual – Teddy Bridgewater – who’s stepped in when Brees was injured in only the second game. For people who knew his background, his superb performance is perhaps not too much of a surprise. For the rest of us, it has been. More importantly, the entire team seems to have stepped forward to prove they do not depend only on Brees. They won again yesterday on the road and have in fact won every game since Brees’s injury. Will it carry them through? Hard to say, but at least for now, they are on a roll.

Business Can Be Tough….

You often don’t know why a small business fails, but there are numerous reasons. We learned yesterday a specialty shop we really liked in the Keys closed. Granted, we hadn’t been in quite some time; essentially due to not being convenient from a distance perspective. Perhaps the closure was only due to poor sales, or there could have been other factors. In another case, a pub we enjoy is changing hands with a different format planned and we’ll see if it continues to be a favorite or if it goes in a direction we don’t care for. This is a place people flocked to at the grand opening, talked about how wonderful it was to have this type of place to go to and then within months, they were down to limited clientele enough nights to be cost-effective. The simple fact is people do only have so much disposable income and both the instances I cited are not necessities of life. Even though Americans spend a tremendous amount of money eating out, there are lots of choices. And, as this area grows, more restaurants open to create greater competition. That’s one of the most difficult businesses to manage under the best of circumstances. Staring any business comes with so many challenges, yet it is a dream of millions and despite the trillions of dollars of the huge corporations, small businesses really are the “backbone” of most communities. I’ve mentioned before in other posts, individuals and families who have to count literally every penny must take the cost of anything into consideration. The extra spent to buy from a small business may come with not being able to buy something else that is needed. For those of us who do have discretionary income, it is an action we can take to help those taking the risk to achieve their dream

More Unique Talent…..

As our Seminole Theatre enters the new season, the original director has gone on to greater things. That was to be expected at his age. He was immensely popular and the woman who was his assistant from almost the beginning and who has held multiple positions within the small staff is now director. They had worked together prior to his departure to select what is called the Showcase Series. Those are the major performances locked in for Oct-May, one or two which are well-known and also the most expensive. This year’s “big group”  is Asleep at the Wheel. Anyway, the others are a continuing search for a range of options to appeal to different audiences. Last night was Shana Tucker – Chambersoul Chronicles, a singer/songwriter who does jazz with a cello. That did catch people’s attention and she added to it by collaborating with a nearby community’s children’s group to incorporate them into a couple of numbers. It was a thoroughly enjoyable performance. She has a wonderful voice, engaging stage presence, and the children were quite talented. Unlike what I had thought, she opened the show and a few numbers later had the members of the Children’s Voice Chorus begin to sing from the back of the theatre and then come on stage for more.

As for the cello, she did use the bow, but played it more like a bass with plucking. In yet another unique aspect, she had some sort of synthesizer for one number where she literally recorded what she was singing, put it through to become just as if she had backup singers; all done flawlessly (at least to my ears). I don’t know how that technology works; only that it had a great sound.

Her background and the many musical/artistic endeavors she is involved with make for fascinating reading. That’s