It is our little Rudy’s 10th birthday. Rudy joined our crew aboard Sailing Vessel Liberty in February 2005, when he was just three months old. Here he is, in his DogMom’s arms, on that day in Columbia, SC, when we picked him up at Porth Kennels.
He immediately became a Salty Dog, sailing across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. He really enjoyed Italy, especially the Ponte Vecchio across the Arno River in Florence, even though it was a very warm summer day.
Some people have asked whether Rudy might actually be a short Irish setter, rather than a miniature long-haired Dachshund. His coloration is certainly similar to that other breed, but Rudy is all Dachshund. Here he is on his 7th birthday with a new nylon chew-toy.
Now you know why Rudy is known as a “Chick Magnet”… females (and not just Dachshunds) swoon when he passes by. He is such a “hunk”! Happy Birthday, Rudy!
The other day My Lovely Bride asked me to replace several light bulbs in the bathroom. It was an easy fix, with three bulbs out, two on the left side and one on the right. Later that day a neighbor asked me to help her repair a smoke detector and replace several light bulbs. Imagine my surprise when I found that three bulbs in her bathroom had to be replaced, two on the left and one on the right. I mentioned this coincidence to My Good Friend Bob that afternoon, and he said, “Ty, I had to replace three bulbs in our bathroom the other day as well… two on the left and one on the right…” (Does anyone else hear the Twilight Zone theme song playing?)
I have hiked since I was a little guy. Having participated in Scouting from age 8 (Cub Scout) through age 18 (Explorer Scout), I had my share of group hikes, normally 10 or so kids and a couple of adults. Since age 18, all of my hiking has been solo or with one or two others, usually My Lovely Bride, and never in a large group. But this past weekend, I joined 30 or so other hikers on a Florida Trail Association hike in Ocala National Forest. It was an unusual experience in another way; I don’t normally hike on the first weekend of deer hunting season, but this hike on the Florida Trail itself had been scheduled for that date, and everyone was decked out in blaze orange or red so as not to be mistaken for Bambi’s beau. I was hiking at the back of the pack with the chapter president, who was “sweep”… making sure that no one or any gear got left behind by accident.
We had been hiking through a mixed pine and oak forest for a couple of hours when I heard a hiker ahead of me ask, “Isn’t it nice that they laid down hay on the trail?” My first thought was to glance around and look for the remnants of a bale of hay that had been left by some equestrian riders at a campsite or corral… until I realized that the hiker in question (from Manhattan) was referring to the thousands of pine needles on the ground. (This was only her second hike in her entire life.)
We didn’t see any deer or bear, owing to the size of our group and the ongoing hunting (although no shots whatsoever were heard). What did catch our eyes was this pair mating in a palmetto bush. (Note: there were no normal human venues for this activity – such as the tops of electrical transformer cabinets or golf carts – out here in the woods, so we will have to excuse the arthropods involved.) Someone did say a prayer for the smaller of these insects, usually a male, since after mating is consummated, the female often consumes her consort. (I’m glad that ritual didn’t make it farther up the evolutionary chain!)
The very next day, Hiker Chick and I drove to the Cross-Florida Greenway to hike a side trail off the Florida trail. Hunting is not allowed here, so we didn’t need to wear orange, but since my daypack is that color anyway, we were extra visible. Where the FT is orange-blazed, this trail was blue-blazed to distinguish it as a secondary route.
The Greenway’s forest was much more dense than the previous day’s hike in Ocala National Forest, mostly oak with scattered pines, and with far fewer palmettos. At times it seemed surreal, because we were only a mile or two from a major highway, I-75, yet to look around, you might think you were deep in the wilderness.
Because there were no other hikers out that day, there were dozens of spider webs laid across the trail, and since I was on “point”, I got the envious duty of clearing the trail for My Lovely Bride. This photo of one spider is sort of deceiving; he (she?) is only about 2 inches across, but looks much larger. Nevertheless, I tried to avoid having them crawling on my arms and head… yuck!
These little mushrooms growing on a tree limb were about the same size as the spider, but much less aggressive-looking… someone asked me once whether I picked mushrooms or other plants to eat while on a hike. No, I would never pluck innocent mushrooms unless I was (1) starving to death and (2) 100% sure that what I was about to eat wasn’t poisonous. And, as far as I know, these guys aren’t on the shelf at Publix…
Sincere thanks are extended to our good friends Anne and Charles from Toronto, who gave Rudy this Birthday/Christmas present. They knew that Rudy is very fond of squirrels, and were so thoughtful to give him a new play toy. But we will keep this one intact. It is now hanging in a place of honor where “The R-Dog” can’t reach it.
Just as I was finishing this blog, Suzanne gasped and pointed urgently out the window. It was raining, and I thought she was pointing at the precipitation outside. But no, she was pointing at this squirrel, flagrantly climbing down the outside of our very own lanai screen, the first we have ever seen right here on the house. As the oak tree in our yard matures and produces more acorns, I’m sure sightings like this will become more frequent. Fortunately, Rudy and Gretchen did not see him, and he went away a few minutes later. For now, though, I have to start looking into wooden latticework to prevent the puppies from going crazy and trying to rip through the lower screens to get at the furry rodent outside…