Armful of Dogs

Final Book Cover

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

LG w Janet dogs

Recently, I visited my friend, Janet, who is a Chihuahua person (a special breed of people). I spent a lot of time chilling with her two Chihuahua mixes. In this photo, I started holding Pepe (white) when Holly (two-toned) jumped up on the bench. I thought she would just sit next to me as is her style. However, she briefly climbed into my lap, not to be outdone by Pepe.

Pepe, a love–easy-going and friendly to all, is the sweet, cuddly type who adores being held and petted. Holly is a lot more skittish–a high strung presence; it takes patience to become her friend.  I had to go through her barking and reluctant acceptance each time I entered the house for the duration of my stay.  Once Holly gave me the okay, however, she couldn’t get enough of me. Although she didn’t like being held, after a few test sniffs, she tolerated petting. Of course, that required me to bend way down due to her low-slung stature, but I thought of it is good exercise.

Next, I moved on and stayed with my cousin, Gail, where I hung out with her mini-pincher mix, Sarge. Although his appearance matched his name, his personality was the polar opposite. Sarge was loving and licky, frequently jumping onto my lap and hunkering down. So many times when I walked into my bedroom, there was Sarge on my bed, proprietary and anxious to hang out some more.

Why do I love dogs so much? It started in childhood. I begin to notice something special about them that I didn’t notice in human beings. I’ll use dogs as my example, but the same applies to all animals other than humans.

Dogs are loyal, dependable, faithful. With dogs, there is no agenda–what you see is what you get. They are never artificial, duplicitous, political, and will never stab you in the back. Dogs are always happy to see you, no matter how crummy you are, how angry, smelly, miserable, pissy, etc. Dogs love you whether you’re up or you’re down. They never get mad at you, tell you off, ignore you, ostracize you, pay you back, etc. The only human who even comes close is Mommy, and even she fails the dog test.

The moment I get around a dog, I feel comfortable, relaxed. Dogs’ needs are simple. They don’t require the latest designer clothes, the newest luxury automobile, the trendiest (fill in the blank.) They are not into status. Mankind would be well advised to emulate the canines among us.

On the other hand, people are like Pepe, Holly, and Sarge–each has their own personality. Some are warm and seek close contact, while others are nervous and don’t like too much handling. I have great respect for dogs, and I’m always careful never to cause them distress to the best of my ability.

Can we be that way with the wide range of humans we encounter? Can we respect their individual personalities and alter our behavior so as not to cause them distress? Don’t we wish people would treat us that way?

There’s no need to come on like gangbusters when you perceive someone is highly uncomfortable with your usual modus operandi. Respect each individual‘s personality, and interact with them appropriately so as to maintain their comfort level. You will be much more likely to have a successful interaction than if you treat everyone with a cookie-cutter approach.

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Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

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Snowball

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

CHITCHAT:  Click here to see me in a comedy, cable TV performance from a few years ago as a granny rapper who gets shot during a drive-by shooting:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwkMrO6tJLE

Now, on to my blog:

LG & Monitor Lizard II 6-10-12

I met Snowball some years ago at an EcoFest held on the lawn of the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, California where I was a docent.  Snowball was part of the attractions at the booth of the Los Angeles chapter of the Southwestern Herpetologists Society.

Snowball’s owner, Jarron, adored him/her, just as you or I might adore our child, dog, cat, parrot, monkey, lemur, etc.  He was full of information about Snowball and couldn’t wait to share it with me after I expressed interest.  However, he failed to tell me how his pet got its name.  I like to imagine Snowball was born or adopted during the winter holiday season.

Jarred explained that monitor lizards are usually aggressive and dangerous in the wild, but that Snowball had been bred in captivity and gentled by humans from the time of wee lizardhood.  So, he/she was docile and not dangerous.  Jarred encouraged me to pet Snowball and insisted on taking this photo.  Snowball’s skin was dry and bumpy.

FYI (courtesy of Jarred and the Internet):  Crocodile monitor lizards, a relative of the Komodo dragon, are native to the jungles of New Guinea.  They are thought to be the longest know lizard species in the world, usually growing to five to seven feet in length, but sometimes reaching over ten feet long.  Two-thirds of their length is in their slender tails which they whip around like a weapon. They have sharp, curved claws to aid in climbing trees.  In captivity, they can live eight to twelve years.

I saw other reptile owners cradling and cuddling their pet snakes, lizards, and assorted others of the reptilian persuasion.  One guy was walking around with his own large lizard clinging vertically to the front of his sweater like an armor breastplate.

Later, a herpetology club member approached me while I was manning the La Brea Tar Pits Museum booth.  She was extremely distraught and crying.

“Do you know anyone in the museum who would like a dead snake,” she wanted to know.

I had never been asked such a question before nor anything remotely similar.  It seems that when she had taken her pet snake out of it’s cage, it was dead.  She had owned and adored it for over twenty-five years.  She wanted to donate it to a good cause.  Amazingly, after a few inquiries, I was able to find a potential recipient of her prize.  He was a young, part-time employee of the museum.  He planned to use the snake in practicing to build scaffolds for disarticulated, ancient animal bones to display in natural history museums, a pursuit he hoped to make his career.  Snake giver and snake receiver conversed and struck a deal.

Beauty is definitely in the eyes of the beholder.  We each see beauty in our love objects regardless if they are ugly, strange, weird, or off-putting to others.  Be grateful for those who love you.  You may seem ugly, strange, weird, or off-putting to some, too.

***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

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A Tandakoan’s Reflection on an Obituary

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

CHITCHAT:  Check out my interview on November 20, 2018 (top few paragraphs) in an article in Moneyish.com, a Dow Jones Media Group Publication: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-nearly-3-in-4-women-say-70-is-the-new-50—-but-far-fewer-men-do-2018-11-20  (Correction:  I was a probation officer in Los Angeles, not San Francisco.)

Now, on to my blog:

TandakoanI opened an email from my longtime, high school  girlfriend, Sheila.  Part of it read, “this was surprising in today’s newspaper.”  There was an attachment, so I clicked on it to find an obituary with a photograph of a woman I didn’t recognize.

As I read further, I realized she had been a classmate of ours, and we had all graduated high school together.  This is the patch from my class sweater of the emblem from our senior class: the Tandakoans, which I’ve saved for fifty-nine years.

Why do we keep such trivial objects?  Probably because they are symbols of passage.  Passages are events that mark major turning points in our lives.  Among all the minutiae of our existence that are quickly forgotten, these are the happenings that we remember year after year. We might celebrate or bemoan them in a ceremonial manner on special anniversaries.

I remember when I turned fifty, Sheila organized a Brownie Troop reunion.  Those attending showed up with photographs of our troop members, Brownie and Girl Scout badges, and other nostalgic items they had kept for decades. Our lives are filled with passages.  An obituary marks the final one.

I hadn’t seen Judy since graduation, but I remember her as a bouncy girl with a quick smile and a ponytail.  The obituary said she had died following a long battle with ovarian cancer.  One by one, our ranks are thinning.  Reading about Judy, I couldn’t stave off thoughts of: when will it be my turn?

Does that frighten me; does that concern me?  Yes and no.  I’m frightened of the unknown, but not of the finality of it, maybe because I don’t even understand what that means.

Can I choose how to make my final passage?  I certainly don’t want the path that Judy took or anything like it.  Living my life to the fullest and going suddenly in my sleep is my preferred choice.  But, all I can do is hope for that and do the living-my-life-to-the-fullest part in the meantime.

***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

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Waiting for Upcycle Days

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

CHITCHAT:  Check out my interview on November 20, 2018 (top few paragraphs) in an article in Moneyish.com, a Dow Jones Media Group Publication:  https://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-nearly-3-in-4-women-say-70-is-the-new-50—-but-far-fewer-men-do-2018-11-20  (Correction:  I was a probation officer in Los Angeles, not San Francisco.)

Now, on to my blog:

BicyclistLife is cyclical.  It’s like a wave with peaks and valleys.  The peaks–the good times–are exciting and exhilarating.  But they can never be sustained.  Life intervenes to drop us into the valleys–the bad times.  It happens to all of us.

No, that guy at work, the neighbor down the block, the classmate at school for whom things always seem to go right are not imbued with some fairy godmother granting their  every wish.  They just do a better job of covering up their valleys than others do.  Don’t ever think that only your life sucks and everyone else’s is wonderful.  It doesn’t work like that.  We all ride the cycles of life.

So, how do we weather those valleys; how do we survive?  One way is to keep looking toward that metaphorical horizon for signs of the next peak peeking over as you slog your way through.  It’s hard and takes constant vigilance to maintain a positive attitude.

It is easy to become discouraged and impatient hoping for things to turn around.  There is not an assured time line.  We can’t know when the peaks will happen, when the valleys will happen, and how long the span between them.  We have no choice but to wait it out.  How we do the waiting is up to us.

We can become depressed, we can rail, we can act out, etc.  Or, we can try to use our down time positively as we wait for it to pass.  Get to work on that story you always wanted to write. Learn that new skill you always wanted to master.  Reach out and connect with those people and places you never had the time to do before.  Take up jogging, walking, gardening, tennis, knitting, gourd carving, whatever.  Even the down times can have little seeds of positivity embedded in them.

Remember, without the valleys, you can’t appreciate the peaks.

***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

Photo credit: joncutrer on Visual Hunt / CC BY

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The Boot

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Boot photoAlmost forty years ago, a wartime drama film, “Das Boot,” was released to movie theaters. It took place on a German submarine during WWII.  Das Boot actually translates from German as: the boat.  However, in my case, I am interpreting the literal English meaning: the boot–you know, for a foot.

Yes, the boot has come into my life. Although I don’t anticipate a submarine attack from my particular one, it’s arrival has similarities. It was stealthy, unexpected, and out of nowhere.

It started a few weeks ago when I was returning a rental car at the airport.  While walking to the pickup area to catch my Uber ride, I failed to see that my narrow sidewalk–with rental cars whizzing by on each side–took one step down.  Yep, one step down is how I went–horizontally!  Long story short, I broke my fifth metatarsal bone in not one, but two places.  Hence, “the boot.”

That minor misstep has cut me down.  The boot, upon which I am dependent to get around along with an attendant cane, has ruled my life for several weeks now. It dictates where I go, how fast I go, and how often I go.  Lacing up the six, mean looking Velcro straps of the contraption alone wears me out.  However, I must do so several times a day for foot icing, showering, and sleeping.

Friends from out of town visited for a get-together we had planned months ago.  I had to alter my plans to go out and about with them and to travel for a few days after they stayed in my home.  I knew I couldn’t do the walking, hiking, hill climbing, stair stepping, metro riding, etc., so I begrudgingly opted to stay put as they departed.

So many unforeseen mishaps change our plans, routines, trajectories.  Most people have had their own version of “the boot.”  It commands your undivided attention while everything else is put on hold.

How do we survive a case of “the boot”?  It’s not easy; it clips your wings.  However, we must survive and carry on.  I’m doing a lot of staying in/sitting down stuff:  busy work that has been on hold for months, phone calling, clearing out my overloaded email box, mending clothes, etc.  Actually, it feels good to get a handle on mundane things that have been relegated to the back burner and gotten out of hand.

Try to make the best of your down time.  What other choice do you have?  And remember, be careful–it’s dangerous out there, folks–sigh!

***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

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Jangled on a Train

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Train Station 1I arrived some months ago at the San Diego train station ready to board an Amtrak Southern Coaster to travel up the coast of California on my way to my cousin’s house. I had not taken the train in years, and I was pretty excited about the whole thing.

I explained to the ticket clerk that I had just flown into the airport, and my ears were clogged from the landing, so I probably wouldn’t be able to hear the public announcement to board the train. She directed me to the handicapped section where an attendant personally retrieves those waiting there and accompanies them to the train.

When the time came, I walked next to a passenger in his motorized wheelchair who told me he took the train often. We were seated in a special car just for handicapped people.

Train 3

Much of my ride was spent multitasking–conducting business on my cell phone while looking out the window at the vista as it flashed by. The combination of my clogged ears, the clickety-clack of the train wheels, and the periodic poor phone reception made it difficult to converse.

Apparently, my voice was getting progressively louder unbeknownst to me. Suddenly, a hand appeared from nowhere and dropped a note onto the fold-down table in front of me which held all my business correspondence. It read: Seriously? (double underlined) Quiet!! Do we all “have to” listen to your conversation? Sh-sh-sh! Thank you

Opps, I had offended someone, although I didn’t realize that because one is handicapped one requires exceptional quiet. Nevertheless, I turned around to identify my assailant, and assumed it must be the woman sitting two rows behind me who was hiding behind a seatback.

Train 2I stated in a raised voice, “I  apologize if I offended you, but you are always welcome to change your seat.”  She did not respond.

I continued my phone conversation, but did ratchet it down several notches. A short while later, my assailant passed by holding a professionally printed sign which she held up briefly in front of me.  It said something like: Be quiet, this is a handicapped car. She then made her way further down the car and showed it to other perceived offenders.

I thought to myself, what a poor soul, and said to her as she trailed past, “I’m so sorry that I disturbed you.”  Her response: “I don’t care!”

Yes, it made me feel like shouting a retort at her back is she continued down the aisle.  I stopped myself realizing that this woman had enough aggravation in her life, and I could be charitable and not add to it.

If you are spending your brief time on this earth trying to modify the behavior of others to make yourself more comfortable, it won’t work. Focus your efforts on modifying your own behavior. In this case, the woman could have simply inserted noise-control earplugs or earbuds attached to a music device.

If you are a person who is at the effect of someone like the aforementioned passenger, remember to be charitable and understanding of their quirks. After all, your life is probably so much fuller than theirs, and I bet you have a few quirks of your own.

***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

 

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What’s in the Stroller?

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

CHITCHAT:  I will be giving free public lectures on the following dates, times, and locations:

October 16, 2018, 1:00pm, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” The Holmstad Retirement Community, 700 W. Fabyan Pkwy, Batavia, IL 60510, (630) 239-1133, www.theholmstad.org  (RSVP REQUIRED)

October 17, 2018, 10:30am, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” Windsor Park Retirement Community, 124 Windsor Park Dr, Carol Stream, IL 60188, (331) 218-3637, www.windsorparkillinois.org (RSVP REQUIRED)

October 19, 2018, 10:30am, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” Covenant Village of Northbrook, 2625 Techny Rd, Northbrook, IL 60062, (224) 412-8421, www.covenantnorthbrook.org (RSVP REQUIRED)

Now, on to my blog:

Toy Dog in StrollerI was sitting on a metro train a few weeks ago  next to a woman with a Chihuahua in her lap. She kept stroking it and talking to it.  The lady seemed a bit deranged. She had a knitted cap pulled over her hair, no teeth, and her clothing seemed mismatched.  Parked in front of her was a baby stroller with a second Chihuahua in it.  I’m sure both dogs occupied the stroller together when the woman was out and about on her daily routine.

Periodically, the dog owner attempted to make eye contact with people nearby as she chatted about her dogs.  Most just ignored her or averted their gaze. A mother with a young child held it close to her, protectively, lest the child catch anything the woman might transmit such as a compromised mental state.

Over about a ten minute period as I watched from my perch while trying not to be obvious about it, the owner pulled out a plush toy from the stroller, which she snuggled against the face of first one of the dogs and then the other. She also pulled out food, and broke off little pieces which she fed to the dogs, occasionally popping a morsel into her own mouth.

After observing her for quite a while, I said “you certainly take very good care of your dogs.” Starved for conversation, she immediately began discussing the dogs with me. We chatted for the rest of the ride, about five minutes, on the subject of how much joy  the dogs have brought to her life.

I looked at the dog on her lap and addressed it by the name she had called it: Mister.  Mister immediately jumped into my lap and hunkered down. His owner was delighted, and loved sharing one of her most precious possessions with me as I scratched Mister  behind his ears.

When I departed the train, I again complemented my seat companion on what a good and caring owner she was.  She beamed a beautiful, toothless smile at me.

Can we be willing to reach out to others who are not so cool, not so trendy, maybe a little socially offensive? Can we take that moment to connect with another fragile human being, toothless or not, smartly dressed or not? That encounter did as much for me as it did for her.

***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

Photo credit: DocChewbacca on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA

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