Today’s Walk 1.098

When:  Friday–Late Afternoon- 4/6/2018
Weather: Mid-80’s with clouds and eventual thunderstorms
Today was a convenient day to come up with excuses.  In my whiniest voice, “But, it was so humid and my back hurt.  I had to plant the mail order plants that arrived yesterday before they died.”  It turned out leaving the house to walk on my normal route would have been a bad idea.  While the hour by hour weather made it look like no rain was going to happen, I chose to not walk anyway.  The thunderstorms arrived in the middle of my planting.  Its full fervor was not released until plants were in the ground and watered in.
In addition to that, the house was empty of any fellow dwellers.  They were on college visits, at softball games, driving back to their college campus, and at weddings in cold places.  I don’t mean to brag, but an empty house does present a perfect opportunity to take a nap.  The original plan was to treat me to dinner.  I settled for something less appetizing but far more convenient at the house.  I justified my frugalness by realizing the dent in the entertainment budget my wife was likely inflicting due to the pre-wedding activities.
Tomorrow promises even fouler weather.  I plan on walking. The visual “candy” on the walk will almost certainly be minimal.  No one likes to take a walk in cold weather was spring is supposed to have arrived.  It is liked far less in Texas.  I am already plotting what I might write about to fill tomorrow’s posting. <sigh>

Today’s Walk 1.097

When:  Thursday–Late Afternoon- 4/5/2018
Weather: Mid to Low 70’s.
With my recent driving/walking problems described here, I am hesitant to give further evidence I should have my license to solo navigate the world revoked.  This episode was easy for me to push all blame on the driver of the near hit and run.  As I was completing my walk along the train tracks, I was preparing to transition to walking north along the side of the road for about a mile.  At this juncture, there is also a road that runs nearly parallel to the train tracks.  (The road and the train tracks are the chocolate cookie with the sidewalk being the white filling.)  As I was preparing to make the right turn onto the parallel road, I was looking to the left-both ahead and behind and to the right.  With trees obstructing my view, I needed to look more than once in each direction.  As I was preparing to turn to the right, I thought I had a clear path in every direction.  Unfortunately, this turned out not to be true.  The car coming to the left and in front of me did a couple things to throw me off.  The driver just cleared the trees going at a quicker than anticipated speed.  And, the real calculation culprit was her not doing anything resembling a 90-degree turn.  She cut the corner pretty badly.  When I glanced left, it was like she emerged out of the trees and centered me on her windshield while preparing for impact.  As I saw her coming, I did a little skip step and got to the other side of the road quickly.  I stuck my hand up when she passed as if to say, “I am really sorry I was in your way.”  It was really a reflex.  I immediately started analyzing what happened to make me the target of the minivan.  Of course, I bared no blame for the close call.
We have a young man for a neighbor.  He was friends with my son when he and his dog lived in our house.  In this young man’s past, he graduated with a finance degree.  He worked a corporate job and became disillusioned.  He quit his job and has had these dreams for a couple of years.  As I came to the end of the road where I had my near collision, he was going the opposite direction of me.  We exchanged waves.
He has provided two separate plans with neither of them, to my knowledge, being acted on.  The first plan was to join the military.  He was seen doing sprints and all forms of strenuous exercise around the neighborhood.  Conversations with him led us to believe he was planning on joining the military and acquiring various berets for enduring extremes in training.  He is still around and not as fit as he once was.  So, that plan seems to have ended up in the garbage bin.  The other plan was to rebuild a motorcycle, amass the necessary replacement part, and then ride the bike to Mexico and beyond.  This plan was originally voiced nearly 2 years ago.  His parents were not excited about this adventure.  They were concerned for his safety and were I them; I would be concerned about his sanity.
As I saw him today, his hair was less long.  His beard was better trimmed.   And, he was walking without a dog or a motorcycle.  The circumstances of our encounter did not invite a high-level update.  The only thing I know for sure is he is alive and well.  (The long hair leads me to believe the military never came together.  And, if he went anywhere south of the Rio Grande, he survived.)
The last little oddity was almost at the end of my walk.  I could almost see the my house.  Coming toward me on the sidewalk was a family of 5 or 6.  There was definitely a mom and dad.  I remember an uncle or some other older male who may have been pushing/supporting a child who was on a small plastic toy with wheels that gave the child a false feeling of independence.  There was a small boy who was waving some sort of stick.  And, there was his sister in her school uniform.  As our parties were about to collide, the girl was definitely on my side of the sidewalk.  I attempted to balance myself on the edge before resorting to using my voice.  “Could I have a little space please?”  She did move over.  Her face gave me one of those looks like, “But I want to be here.”  Since she was leading the group, I still had to pass the adults.  We smiled/nodded at each other.  The boy asked his sister, “What did he say to you?”  I don’t believe I heard the reply.
I don’t like to parent other peoples kids.  This was one of those times I didn’t think I had to walk in the grass.  Let the child get some thought planted in her head that the yellow line in the middle of the sidewalk is more than a recommendation.  Likely, I cannot fully fathom what all she was thinking.  I am pretty sure she emerged from my “harsh” question unscathed.

Today’s Walk 1.096

When:  Wednesday–Late Afternoon- 4/4/2018
Weather: Mid to Low 60’s.
I began today’s walk wearing one of my most broken-in zip-up sweatshirts.  I was barely a half mile into the walk before the sweatshirt became a modified belt that needed to be continually tightened.  The rest of the walk was the almost daily visit to the common and boring.  Beyond the one lady who was grateful to be passed by a polite walker rather than a bicyclist with an attitude and a minimum allowable speed, I have no recollection of seeing anyone who made me say to Siri, “Take a note…….”.
If my walk can’t better entice me to enjoy it, I will need to go in search of another preferred path.  I realize not every day will provide more topics than I can every possibly expound upon.  I am 96 walks into this adventure.  I knew from the start the precipitation would not fall equally on all days I wear my walking shores.  So, as luck would have it, I have a true story that made me laugh.
When I came home from work yesterday, there was a squirrel on our roof.  He was right above the garage and in front of the window where there is a small landing.  The squirrel was perched there.  As I got out of the car and grabbed my items, he continued to act like he owned the place.  Not being able to stand it any longer, I ran into the garage and grabbed the first thing that could do him damage and not do the house serious damage.  It ended up being an empty, plastic green bottle once used to store some type of dog medicine.  I whipped the bottle up where the squirrel was coveting my house.  It missed him. My new enemy got the message.  He cleared out and scampered up to the roof’s higher elevations where he could either jump onto his “squirrel pole” and slide down a tree trunk OR tree hop until he found friendlier shingles.  I will get him yet!

Today’s Walk 1.095

When:  Tuesday–Early Evening- 4/3/2018
Weather: High 60’s-low 70’s, Breezy, but the temps made up for it.
Another day when the majority of those who walked showed terrible taste.  Or, more clearly stated, why wasn’t the sidewalk more crowded with people committed to getting their steps in?  My enjoyment is not based on the number of people I encounter.  I just hate to see people miss an opportunity to develop a healthy habit.  “Let’s see, I won’t make time on a beautiful day to walk, but I have time when the weather is bad.  What should I do?  Why don’t I enjoy walking in the rain or when it is cloudy?”
  • I did see two people on the “Path Patrol”.  They are clearly not regular bikers.  They are wearing black pants with a black and white striped shirt.  They were definitely wearing a helmet though. And, if their uniform is nothing like what is described, I can only blame the authority I assign to them.  The bike patrol would be responsible for making sure the bicyclist who think they own the sidewalk. I have never seen an “arrest” or a warning.  I think they are health-conscious guys who volunteering to frequent the path.  Their presence is really all they offer.  Was I a more cynical person, I would suggest they are putting some community service time in for dastardly deeds like jay-walking or minor littering violations.  They ride together to monitor each other’s behavior.  Either they committed their offenses over the winter and have new community service obligations or they decided to air out their uniforms for the first time of the year.  Yet an additional indication spring is here!
  • The dad had his daughter’s stroller aimed at the fence so she could better see the dogs.  His daughter leaned into the dogs while the wind blew her unconfined hair.  When dad glanced at me, he must have thought I was going to break into a run and destroy anything in my path.  He quickly leaned the stroller back and pivoted it on the rear tires.  When our paths intersected, we greeted each other from opposite sides of the yellow dividing line.

Today’s Walk 1.094

When:  Monday–Late Afternoon- 4/2/2018
Weather: High 40’s, I had my ears covered, it was cloudy
I literally passed or was passed by NO ONE on today’s walk.  It was understandable.  The temperatures were in the 40’s.  It certainly was not inviting.  I was all bundled up–this included gloves.  Any interactions I had involved canines…
  • The early part of the path winds behind a few houses.  The first house has no dogs.  The second house has a couple of collies whose major barking days are over.  The third house has the dogs that really love me.  They either accept the tag from the previous house [tag team barking] or they decide independently to bark kisses in my general direction.  The other dogs will set back and bark as they slowly make their way to the fence.  The dogs in the 3rd house charge me.  I believe there have been up to 4 dogs in this house that “love me”.  As the dogs tried to make me sweat some fear pheromones, the owner tried to yell the dogs back from the love they desired to show me.  Once I was almost past their fence, they reluctantly agreed.
  • The path that goes along the train tracks has many fences facing it. And, coincidentally, dogs exist on the other side of these fences.  Today, one of the dog owners was doing yard work.  He had the gate open with his leashed dog guarding it.  The dog, (let’s call him Rusty) seemed much more interested in barking long and loud enough to make me want to climb a tree.  Rusty would then go grab his owner and have him come out with a gun a pop me one.  In case Rusty got too aggressive (The leash was pretty long.), I did grab a stick.  After having been barked at by the little yappers and the big dogs who growl, I don’t get scared easily.  I may be surprised occasionally, but I try not to reward them and show any fear.
  • The little pond that lies next to the path had a dog wandering its perimeter today.  When I first saw him, he looked like he could be a coyote.  When I got closer, I saw his coloring was black/brown, and he was a heavier build than most coyotes.  He didn’t seem too interested in me.  He glanced at me a couple times.  He did not utter a word or a bark or show any teeth.  He was exploring.  I am not sure what a dog thinks about when he explores.  I suppose it involved food or a bone he buried last fall.

Today’s Walk 1.093

When:  Sunday–Late Afternoon- 4/1/2018
Weather: Started warmer, but was low 60’s when walking, Breezy and not inviting
Another Easter Sunday. As the kids have continued to grow, the effort to keep the early Easter traditions alive has become more difficult. The Easter egg hunts used to be nearly demanded. This year, no one tried very hard to fill the plastic eggs or to summon up the enthusiasm for the experience. My daughters were possibly afraid any pictures of them hunting eggs at their age may have been used for blackmail purposes in the years to come. The meal was there, and the friends were there. And, prior to this was the church service proclaiming the Christian significance of Easter. While all of the elements of the Easters past were there, the shuffling of priorities continues. Holidays and family don’t stay stagnant. I miss the magic of those early parenting years. I also look forward to the magic that awaits in the years to come.
While walking, the only clue I saw to indicate the holiday was the egg shells scattered on one portion of the path.  I don’t know if I saw these in my youth, but in Texas, they are pretty common.  The insides are removed from an egg with as small of a whole as possible.  The eggshell is filled with confetti and colored tape is put over the hole.  (Not sure when the eggshell is colored, but I think they all are.)  I don’t believe my kids threw the eggs.  I believe these were more the “Back-slapping” type of eggs.  (Slapping them to the head is discouraged.)  Ideally, the destruction is completed somewhere where cleanup is optional.  The pathway of our subdivision would be an ideal place for the mayhem.

Today’s Walk 1.092

When:  Saturday–Mid-Morning- 3/31/2018
Weather: Very nice spring morning, breezy and low 70’s, made it to 80’s in afternoon
What an absolutely stunning day today!  I was able to get up early and get some things done before walking.  When I did get out for my walk, it was still slightly crisp with a breeze.  If you tried really hard you could have sweated, but it was so nearly perfect, it was hard.
  • The previously described weather made “big striding” fun.  I just stretched it out.  The downside with taking the big strides is the Health app on my iPhone may count my strides correctly, but it doesn’t capture the distance accurately.  So, I just know how many steps I take and I have to guesstimate my actual mileage off of experience and some gut.
  • The 5 1/2 miler:  I am used to seeing this guy walk in the early mid-morning.  He is a regular.  He has his headphones on listening to “something”.  (Were it me, it would be a podcast, I think.)  When I saw him today, I had to ask a very sincere question, “I thought you moved.”  He replied that he did not.  I was apparently confused by his appearance resembling a neighbor I was pretty sure had moved.  Trying to recover, I asked him how far he walks on his near-daily walk.  He replied, “I walk about 5 1/2 miles every day.  I like beer and pizza too much.”  I won’t judge his motives but will applaud his commitment.
  • The wrong siders:  As I was coming up on the final long stretch before coming back to my neighborhood, I saw a couple walking their dogs ahead of me.  They were, as you may have guessed, walking on the wrong side (the left side) of the sidewalk. I witnessed a runner and a bicyclist modifying their path to accommodate these folks.  As they neared the end of the long, straight stretch, the husband stepping into the correct lane while his wife stayed in the wrong lane.  My only theory was he wanted to make sure he was visible if a bike came around the corner quickly.  His presence in the correct lane would caution a bicyclist from running over his wife.  It was just past the right-hand turn that I passed them.  Both of their dogs were chihuahua sized dogs.  The husband’s dog was leaving an unclaimed present while his owner looked at the sign detailing the trail.  As I weaved my way through them to maintain my pace, I realized they were definitely an Asian couple.  They began talking, and I would guess they were Chinese.  I will not accuse them of being spies after only seeing them once.  But, they certainly seemed a little quirky.  I will be watching.