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.



Losing Someone During the Holidays…..

Strong emotional content alert. Yes, I know – what a sad topic. The fact is death doesn’t respect the holidays and there has been a recent flurry on social media about how losing a loved one during the holidays is particularly cruel. For many years, I didn’t understand why my first husband’s mother made such a big deal out of Christmas. There were gifts all over, to include those from the family pets. She would take obvious pleasure in picking out gifts for every person and just as obviously go to a great deal of trouble in making the selections. (I still use the wonderful leather attache she gave me years ago for my travel computer.) I don’t recall exactly when I learned this; I knew she’d had only one sibling, a younger brother who’d died as a child. As it turns out, he’d contracted scarlet fever (or something like that) and died not long before Christmas. Part of her father’s reaction to the tragedy was to declare there would never be another Christmas celebration in the household and apparently he refused to yield from that position. All she could do was wait and make her adult Christmases as enjoyable as possible.

The closer a loved one’s death is to a holiday, the more difficult it is to separate the loss from what is a time of celebration. If the individual is quite aged and the death not unexpected, it can be a bit easier and the regular holiday can become instead a type of memorial. When it is sudden with little or no warning, the emotional blow is intensified; at times to the point of devastation. For those who have been through this, there is almost always an equal measure of anger, of raging against the unfairness. At the time, the inability/unwillingness for any kind of traditional celebration is a common response. How future holidays are handled is another matter; one which can bring people together or have a lasting and perhaps unintended impact.


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.

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.

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

Trip, Day 8….

So today is it; Daddy’s 95th birthday. I’ll visit with him until mid-afternoon, then head over to Bossier where I’ll have dinner with the other old high school friend as the final planned meeting that has become our tradition. The 3:00 a.m. wake-up tomorrow to get to the airport on time for the 5:00 a.m. flight will keep the wine consumption down.

Anyway, if Daddy wants catfish again for lunch, I’ll run out for it and then my step-siblings are coming around 5:00 with cupcakes and ice cream cups for everyone to celebrate. My sister and brother will make trips to see him later in the year. As I have mentioned previously, the assisted living facility where he is has the basics, but is small at only 26 rooms. The staff is friendly and seems to do well with the residents and in seeing many of the same faces over the years there also seems to be a nice level of stability (among the staff). My father’s short term memory problem means he can no longer enjoy reading; something he did for most of his adult life. While he does have limited vision in one eye, the real problem is unless it’s a short article, he can’t recall what he read. He does still watch some television, but mostly plays the afternoon games of different forms of bingo and sits either on the front porch or at one of the front windows in the airy lobby. With 90-plus degrees, sitting outside for long doesn’t work well. There is a fair flow of people coming and going, which allows for a social aspect.

The Poor Bike…..

While I do know people in our age group who still run marathons and compete in the Senior Olympics, most of us don’t fall into that category. Part of the reason Medicare and other insurances have their “Silver Sneakers Program” and there are numerous exercise routines designed for we seniors, is to try and make it as easy as possible to maintain  exercise. I have a friend who is amazing with yoga. Having tried it only a few times, I can’t seem to get my head wrapped around the techniques. As I’ve mentioned in more than one post, I have struggled with my weight since my late teens. It’s both a metabolic and a lifestyle issue. All the women on my mother’s side of the family deal with the inclination to being overweight and the men don’t. There is probably some cosmic chuckle in there somewhere. Anyway, as much as I hate running, I was required to do so in the Army and it did keep my weight under control, albeit at the very edge of what was acceptable. It was truly my own fault I allowed it to “edge up”, then “shoot up” after retirement. My primary doctor has either never had a weight problem or had one and overcame it because she is this slender thing who constantly reminds me of how I can lose weight. Yes, thank you, I’m aware of all that.

Anyway, the fact is I enjoy eating and drinking and even though I have cut back on carbs, that isn’t enough to make more than incremental progress. I do faithfully exercise just to manage that much. I work out 5-6 days a week for 40 minutes. I used to walk and when I had a minor injury, the therapist suggested  a recumbent, stationary bicycle. I can’t use an ordinary bike because of my knees (a common aspect of a career in the Army). A recumbent gives the same aerobic workout with less downward pressure on the knees. And so, our poor bike has been “ridden” many miles between Hubby and I. The gears began slipping several weeks ago and it reached the point of a replacement being necessary. The new one is to be delivered today. I just hope it doesn’t have all kinds of electronic functions I have to learn.

Hurricane Warnings….

With only two years passed since Hurricane Irma, the threat of Dorian is very much on people’s minds here, and even more so for the ones  who suffered through Hurricane Michael last year . At the moment, the northerly track places the storm further up in Florida. While that may be good news for this area, the strength of it is troubling for those who may be hit. In storm preparations exercises held in May by Florida Power and Light (FPL), the regional supplier for FL and up into GA, they are no doubt watching very closely. With a new governor in FL, he probably would just as soon not be tested in his very first year. I don’t mean that in a cavalier manner; this is serious business. I mean, no matter how prepared you think you are to respond  to a disaster, you don’t know how your teams will react until the time comes. On the other hand, if lessons were learned from last year, that will be helpful.

A very real point is the seeming lack of understanding of a lot of people about the first three days, sometimes referred to as, “72 on you”. That means having adequate supplies on hand to be able to sustain yourself/family and stay off the streets/roads for 72 hours. Relief measures cannot take place in the middle of a storm and accessibility of roads and streets immediately following is unpredictable. One of the reasons is hurricanes often spawn tornadoes and that is where significant tree damage can occur which in turn brings down power lines and blocks streets/roads. Keeping all vehicles except those actively involved in relief efforts out of the way is important. Heavy rainfall is the other aspect which can cause flooding and that can apply even if storm surge is not a factor. Rescue vehicles can be limited in their use if heavy flooding is an issue. Preparation and prayers are in order right now.

How Bureaucrats Sneak Up on You…..

This is one of those situations that when intense frustration ends, it comes close to being funny. Here’s how it went. We decided to invest the very large sum of money to have the whole-house, standby generator installed. In this area, that means the propane tank will be underground. Naturally, we intended everything to go behind the fence. So, it turns out our yard is not actually the dimensions we think. Once measured by the people who make the rules, we were a few feet off the clearance required between the generator and something like the electrical panel it had to wire into. That meant placement in front of the fence. Next, the tank has to be buried a certain number of feet from that so now the word is that won’t fit on the same side as the generator. (Our yards aren’t very big). The tank will have to be buried on the opposite side of the yard on the other side of the driveway and walk. So, tear up 3-4 rows of pavers and a section of the walk to dig trench to lay in the fuel line.As if all this isn’t enough frustration, there are quite frankly inexcusable delays that equal into months behind schedule.

Okay, the tank gets installed and the gentleman who handled this part was a subcontractor. He was quite professional, explained everything going on and then as he finished, he mentioned in order to pass inspection, we had to have these yellow “cones” placed in front of the tank. This is in case anyone should happen to drive onto our yard and on top of the tank. When I looked at him in disbelief, he said after the inspection, we could remove them because probably no one would come back to check again. Except, and this is a big except – when I arrived home I found three bright yellow 16 inch high, 3 inch round posts in the ground with concrete to secure them. While there is no question that will provide a warning, there was definitely no moving them. Let us just say that when it comes to colors, the air surrounding me was blue as I vented my anger. Of course that was to several geckos as the guys who installed these had wisely not stayed around.

This also meant we were now in indisputable violation of Homeowner Association rules for what we can and can’t have in a front yard. Receiving notification of that violation did take a couple of months. We’d discussed a couple of options and Hubby decided planting hibiscus in front of each post and painting the posts green would work the best. We went through the approval process with the HOA and despite now being in violation of code because the posts are no longer yellow, I did insist at least one of the hibiscus should be yellow. I can’t imagine an inspector will ever come by again, but if so, I’ll argue the point.

The “Slippery Slope” of Compartmentalization….

Serious musings alert. A conversation the other day triggered the chain of thought about the ability to mentally compartmentalize. In this case, I’m referring to situations where you have multiple things to deal with and there is no way to manage them all at once. Although compartmentalizing is a type of prioritizing, prioritizing is closer to, “Let’s take this one step at a time,” rather than the infamous line of Margaret Mitchell’s character, Scarlett O’Hara’s, “After all, tomorrow is another day”. By that, I mean in keeping with her character, thinking about it another day also in general meant she would find a way to not take responsibility for her own actions.

Therein lies the three aspects of compartmentalization I consider to be “risky”. The first is the inclination to revisionism. The “well I should have said….” can morph into having thought you did so, then building the memory around that. (It’s not an uncommon trait as I have written about in other posts.) If the issue being compartmentalized is something that needs to be dealt with, then depending on when it is dealt with, the revised scenario may be brought out and either corrected or can lead to further complications. If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation that seems to be getting out of control, think back to how it originated and see if perhaps there was a basic misunderstanding in waiting to deal with whatever it is/was.

The second aspect of compartmentalization is the matter may be not overly significant to you, and yet important to another individual. You may forget about it through no malice and also cause complications because the other party/parties may view your forgetting in an unfavorable way.

The third aspect is if compartmentalization slides into repression/suppression. I do want to clarify there is a reason the phrase, “time and place for everything” exists, and that includes letting things go. Choosing to not deal with something immediately may well be the best option and then letting go of whatever it is may also be the correct choice.On the other hand, there can be unpleasant aspects to life which do require response/action and finding the way to do so is important.