Today’s Walk 1.110

When:  Wednesday– Late Afternoon- 4/18/2018
Weather: Low 70’s with a light breeze. Even what walking a good pace, the breeze reminded you it was a beautiful spring day. It whispered, “Seize as of much of me as you can!”
Observations/Thought
Radiating Charm
When I have another day where I feel like a piece of dog poop on the sidewalk that no one will look at or clean up, I will think on this day. On this day, I radiated charm. Those who might have ignored me chose to enjoy the perfect spring day and stay off the sidewalk. (Not a good day for swimming, but a super day for walking.). I merely had to look at people for them to melt and offer me sincere words of greeting. I can’t come up with anything I did differently today. With my recent past having days of the polar opposite, I would like to suggest I was wearing my “joy” today. I believe I loaded my smile gun before leaving the house. As people saw it, they couldn’t help but initiate a warm response. I will try and swallow a few Vitamin S[mile] throughout the day and hope for similar results.
Good pace
When you find a bicyclist who can provide you two favors in your brief time together on the sidewalk, you should be grateful. Today’s winner (the winner of the year so far) was not the fittest rider. He was mid-to-upper fifties. He looked like he hadn’t participated in any triathlons lately. But, he was wearing a safety helmet. As he prepared to pass, he gave the “Coming on your left” warning. He then followed it with a, “You almost walk as fast as I peddle.” I made a delayed attempt at a witty response before he was out of earshot.
Maybe the 80/20 rules apply to all aspects of life. If 80% of the bicyclist want to be impolite, then my objective should be to remember the 20%. If I go a whole day without someone making an effort to be friendly, I need to remember the days when they were friendly. When I am wearing my joy and oozing charm, I need to store up all of the gratefulness I can hold. When the walks are unable to restore me in any way, may I slowly make withdrawals from the rations I have stored in my “joy” vault.

Today’s Walk 1.109

When:  Tuesday– Late Afternoon- 4/17/2018
Weather: Low 80’s with a gusty breeze
Observations/Thought
Shortly after leaving the house, I passed a man was walking his dog. (A glance at breeds makes it appear to be an American Bully.) This is a common occurrence. I thought little of it. About 25 yards in front of him, I passed a woman walking the same type of dog. It struck me as a little odd, but mild when compared to some of the other things I have seen. We exchanged head nods, and I kept walking.
As I approached the area where I originally passed them, I was able to see them preparing to cross the street. Oddly the man was waiting to cross and the woman came up behind him. They appeared to talk briefly before the traffic cleared so that they could cross. While the woman arrived late to the crosswalk, she pulled ahead and established a similar distance as before. As they waited to cross, the dogs got along and they seemed like a couple. The distance between them on the sidewalk may have just been an exercise to give them their individual time to think. On the other hand, he seemed much friendlier than her. Maybe there was something between them not visible to the innocent observer. They could be maladjusted empty nesters, or they could be trying to figure out if they want to file those divorce papers. Trying to be an optimist, I will continue believing they are a couple that just doesn’t like walking together.
As I was in the middle of passing the couple with their dogs, I crossed the lightly-trafficked road that is barely a road. Hiking to my left along the road was the army guy from a couple of days ago. He was attired the same way. He appeared to be with a fellow hiker who was female and sported long blond hair.
Now that I have seen him twice, I was much less judgmental of his dress. If he wants to wear Army clothes and walk like an exhausted person, I won’t stop him. As I continued my normal pace, I quickly outdistanced him. A backward glance along the path was not kind to his training. He and his blond companion were behind me farther than I would have expected. If I see him a third time, I may make a greater effort to engage him in conversation. If I pass him while brandishing my pocket machete, he might me greatly impressed.

Today’s Walk 1.108

 

When:  Monday– After work and after dinner- 4/16/2018
Weather: Low 80’s with a very pleasant breeze
Observations/Thought
Monday had two walks. The earlier one where I was practically ignored. And, the later one with my wife.
I have tried to deduce why my efforts of interacting went unanswered.
  1. One theory is my long flowing locks of hair were blowing in the breeze. The blowing of my hair gave a near serpentine appearance. And, all who encountered me believed me to be Medusa. They were certain I was trying to tempt them to look at me so they would turn to stone. My lack of long hair would seem to make this theory DOA.
  2. The second theory is I was invisible. I was SO invisible, the invisibility also was taken on by my clothes. Was I walking a dog, the looks would have been far more interesting. A live dog would have been interacting with some type of completely transparent object. If my camera/phone were also under my cloak of invisibility, I would quite enjoy recording the facial reactions of those reacting to the “me” that wasn’t there.
  3. I forgot to wear clothes. Everyone knows you don’t give an exhibitionist any of the attention he craves. Their ignoring me was because they were trying to help me. They didn’t want me to encourage any unnecessary attention.
  4. I was wearing my Sodom and Gomorrah t-shirt again. No, I really don’t have one. Maybe the red shirt looked like an offensive hot pink. Maybe some letters imprinted on the shirt gave the impression it was less than seemly to look at. Maybe people had nightmares of turning to salt the previous evening. Whatever the cause, I was not able to make meaningful I contact with anyone. Saying, “Hello” is usually better received if they know you are talking to them. Without eye contact, they may assume you are talking to the little squirrels.
  5. The last is the most likely. Some days, I am just not that interesting. The two ladies walking together have so many important things to say; they can’t be distracted by a stranger. The people who blow by on their bicycles have to maintain their speeds so they can effectively train. For the serious bikers, walkers are only tolerated. Walkers prevent them from taker turns like the biking professionals they profess to be. Those with headphones and cellphones find nature and observations along the trail unworthy of thought. Better to absorb another podcast or listen to a song for the 12th time today.

Today’s Walk 1.107

When:  Sunday– Mid-Afternoon- 4/15/2018
Weather: Low 60’s with even more wind
Observations/Thought
This was the first in the unlikely trio. As I was wrapping back around to the part of my path that overlaps, I saw an older male walking toward me. I had trouble trying to fit him into a particular category. As the gap between us closed, I noticed things that concerned me. He was wearing a rust-colored winter coat. While it was a little breezy, it was not winter-coat weather. He was adorned with a full beard. The beard closest to his mouth was noticeable gray. The rest of his hair was not shaggy, but it was certainly long. His skin was leathery. Texas weather can definitely impact your skin. Lastly, his eyes had a glassy look to them. Just as we were passing, some distance part of him seemed to realize he was being greeted. He nodded his head slightly.
While I am not very knowledgeable about the life of a homeless person, this person allowed me to check many of the boxes I associate with people who do not have much. If not homeless, he could very well have been high. In my many years of walking, this is the first person who did not lend themselves easily to a generic backstory.
Shortly after passing the homeless person, I arrived at the part of the path where I overlap for about a mile. As I was coming up on this part of this path, I could see another interesting individual. He was wearing headphones with something besides Gregorian chants playing. He was dressed in army camouflage clothing. His backpack was also camouflaged but with different shades of green. It also had netting attached to it. He had dark sunglasses on. It was impossible to tell what he was looking at.
As I followed him for a few hundred yards, I was hoping I would not have the chance to encounter him in a more direct way. His dress did not scream “I am a crazy man” as loudly as the possible homeless man. It did, however, say with an indoor voice, “I am less sane than you.” With passing becoming inevitable, I switched into the passing lane. My “on your left” seemed to go completely unheard. His shrouded eyes gave no indication of seeing me. His head did not swivel even a couple of degrees. I continued the rapid pace. I was sure I would feel more comfortable when I was beyond “knife-throwing” range.
With the spur (due to construction–the path to nowhere) tempting me to walk on it prior to going home, I decided not to yield to temptation. I was grateful I chose not to. As he walked down the spur, I am certain I would have felt stalked as he would have followed to a dead end. I passed an older lady walking her dog. I was afraid for her should she have chosen to walk that way. He may have just been a guy who wanted to wear attire to deter inquiry. Or, he could have been one of the two drug users unleashed on my path this day.
The lasts unexpected encounter was the most tragic. (The others were more creepy.). A friend who I really only know from walking surprised me by being on the path with her dog. She lives on the other side of the park construction. For her to get to “our” side of the park, she would have had to drive her and her dog to our side. The construction completion date of the fall made me believe I might not see her for almost a whole year. When she passed me, she apologized for not being able to talk longer. Her dog had, “cut his mouth on some wire and was bleeding.” She was going to meet a friend (possibly where she parked) to get her dog taken care of. I did have time to ask her about her husband. She gave me a look. I clarified my question, “Is he okay…ish?” She let me know he was still at the facility. Then she just continued down the pathway.
The back story is the tragedy of this story. When I first met this couple, the husband, wife, and dog were always walking together. When our walking schedules overlapped, the wife and I would typically have the more meaningful conversation. Both of us have had a few parenting challenges. Their children are older. The husband would sometimes participate at a minimum level. There were some other strange observations. I just thought he was a little “quirky”, and I engaged in conversation with whichever one of them was interested in talking. One time I saw the wife alone with the dog. While we were talking, she made a comment. I must have given her an odd look. She responded with, “Oh, you didn’t know my husband has early onset Alzheimer’s disease?” That information filled in some of the quirky gaps. I continued to see them on walks-sometimes we talked sometimes at a distance. And, they would honk at me if they saw me walking while they were in their car.
Last fall, I again saw the wife without her husband. She gave me an update on the past few months. Her husband would not allow their married son and daughter-in-law to live with them anymore. He was jealous every time his son hugged his mother–he forgot he was his son. He began to be paranoid that someone was after him. He would skulk around the house believing everyone, wife included, was out to get him. After a few bruises and embarrassing incidents, she was concerned about keeping both of them safe. Within a few days, she was able to become his legal guardian and get him committed to an institution where he could try and get the proper medications. Right now, he is in a full-care facility. She has daily extended visits with him. She tries to balance the roles she previously completed plus those of her husband. She has had to give up her hobbies to honor her commitment to him. And, to my knowledge, their estranged daughter has made no effort to visit her father.
I hope I get to see my friend again. As sad as the saga may be, I hope that my listening and encouragement might be therapeutic for both of us. For her, in the telling. For me, in the softening of my sometimes unsympathetic heart that results from the listening.
Walking Bonus: One gentleman today got the pleasure of passing me twice on our overlapping routes. On the final passing, it was on the narrower sidewalk. Even with a leash, it was hard for the gentlemen to keep the dog on the abbreviated half of the sidewalk. To simplify, I passed him while walking in the grass. Surprisingly, I heard a “Thank you”. His small act of appreciation will probably last me for at least 10 times when those I pass fail to realize the gesture I made.

Today Walk 1.106

When:  Saturday– All Day- 4/14/2018
Weather: Low 60’s with LOTS of wind
Observations/Thought
Saturday was a day that would have been nice for a walk. I would have preferred it over the method I chose to get my steps in. I did yard work. Not just yard work, but yard work without a wheelbarrow. I was the wheelbarrow. What did I wheelbarrow around? Sod (20 pieces), bricks, and peat moss.
With our backyard free of the grass-curbing canine, I felt the possibility of success in planting these 20 pieces of sod. My planting was not the “throw it on top of what is there and see if it grows” approach. I dug each of the pieces into the existing soil. I threw peat moss down and mixed it in with the existing soil. While some pieces of the sod did touch other pieces, many of the pieces were dug in independently of the pieces around it. In some cases, a section needed more sod than I could allow for it. I cut the pieces in half and planted them separately. Ideally, the peat moss I spread out in the soil around it will encourage runners to fill in the grass-less areas. Once all the grass was in, I soaked it one time. Following that, I stomped it in really well. Then, I watered it again. I have watered the sod daily since.
I cannot account for how I was able to walk over 16,000 steps. I did carry each piece of sod individually from the front of the house to the back. I also dragged two bags of peat moss to the back. The bags have moved a variety of times to make the spreading out of the peat moss easier. Lastly, bricks were scattered over the front and backyard. They come in handle for holding down netting, pool covers, and anti-hard freeze equipment (both blankets and buckets). Somehow, when everything was totaled up, the steps adding up to over 6 miles.

Today’s Walk 1.105

When:  Friday– Mid-Afternoon- 4/13/2018
Weather: Low 80’s with ominous skies
Observations/Thought
After work is my normal time to walk.  With the need to recuperate from my early wake-up time, I barely hesitated.  I changed out of my work clothes and took a nap.  Not long, but effective.
After dinner, I did end up walking the neighborhood with my wife.  While walking north, the bad weather appeared to have past.  When we reached the farthest north point, we turned west.  To our south, the clouds were telling a far different story.  They were grey and foretelling wrong.  The pleasant breeze now became an evil wind enticing the storm to envelop our neighborhood.  When we had to turn south and go directly into the storm, we shortened our path.  We doubted the storm would allow us to arrive home before it started sneering and spitting at us.  Fortunately, our imagination was overly active.  The storm teased but didn’t bite.

Today’s Walk 1.104

When:  Thursday– Mid-Afternoon- 4/12/2018
Weather: Low 80’s
Observations/Thought
On this day, there was really nothing to see.  The unflattering woman by the pool certainly doesn’t count.  On the sidewalk, the 2 bikes and the dog walker were some of the least exciting I have seen.  The railroad workers were the only visible humans tied to anything of interest.
With all of the construction along the sidewalk running parallel to the train tracks, it was inevitable it would be leading to something.  Now, there are a number of signs posted.  Each of these signs is warning us to NOT approach the train tracks.  Trains will be running more frequently as the track is being tested for the route to the airport.  The signs put a special emphasis on the trains will be running more quietly.  We should not be as cavalier as we once were when crossing the tracks.  Since I have always preferred sidewalks, I don’t see this “modification” impacting me.  Those who find the track a much more enjoyable portal to the world may find themselves rudely greeted one day.