Today is the last day of school for our local school district. I jogged past the middle school this morning, noting that the PE-uniformed kids would be absent from the track for the next three months. Facebook has been awash in graduation photos of friends’ children. It remains bittersweet to me that my own son was denied his junior and senior years due to the virus. Can you imagine not having a senior year? Remember all the amazing things you did those last two years of high school? His class spent them in their bedrooms, staring at a laptop. In any event, I salute the class of 2023 today. May you go out and make this world better.
Well, here he is. After visiting six different shelters in three different cities and perusing endless Craigslist ads, this is the winner. Rajesh. His former owner said he’s a year. Maybe. No clue about his pedigree. He’s WAY BIGGER than we’d wanted. And drooly. And floppy. We were told he’s 58 lbs, but his paws are bigger than my hands, and he’s sturdy and thick, easily 70 lbs. He’s a Big Galoof. Think Clifford the Big Red Dog, but sandy. His tail is like a rear windshield wiper on high speed, flopping back and forth, knocking things off the coffee table. We nearly renamed him Thumper.
Keen on chewing and chasing Roxie endlessly around the yard, he’s forced her heart to pump more than it has in years. In fact, I don’t think a dog has stared into her eyes since Tonto lost his years ago. She shook. She bared her teeth. She growled. And eventually, she enjoyed the chase. They’re still getting to know each other. So we’ll see what this new chapter holds. Transitions take time and patience.
After a harrowing week, the sun finally came out on Saturday, and we drove to nearby Georgetown for a sip and a sit at Mesquite Creek Outfitters. With the doors open, the lovely breeze made it hard to believe the streets had been covered in ice only 36 hours prior. New bars are much different than when I was young; everywhere you look, we see families and strollers, babies who look just weeks old. Many craft beer venues have playscapes as well. Can you imagine your parents taking the whole family out to get stouts and ciders? Or your grandparents?
The generational shift is here, and the vibe is casual and upbeat. No bar fights, no drowning the thoughts of an ex and playing six sad songs in a row on the jukebox (although there is a time and a place for that). This place was warm and inviting, and after an IPA and a sour, I began to breathe freely.
It’s been another rough week in Central Texas. Tuesday’s freezing rain closed all the roads, schools, and businesses. An inch of ice accumulated on power lines, power went down, and no power to pump water means boil notices or no water at all, and the propane companies can’t get to any homes to fill tanks. So we stayed home Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday. Cell towers stopped working. My son’s university lost power, and they are not allowed candles in their dorms. Students don’t keep a week’s worth of snacks in their rooms, nor piles of blankets. And with no way to travel, they were stuck.
Today makes day three with no power for over 150,000 Austinites, now tossing everything in their fridges today, due to spoilage. They still have no power. Each day passes, and they wait. It was still below freezing this morning. You can’t boil water if your stove is electric. You can’t nuke it in the microwave. Those of us with generators fare better, but that only goes so far.
All day yesterday, as temps inched above freezing, the sounds of huge oak and cottonwood branches falling filled the greater city area. Every couple of minutes, footlong icicles, sheets of ice on roofs, and tree limbs would crash to the ground. Limbs landed on cars and fences, blocking driveways. Everyone within an hour’s radius lost trees. I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire Austin area lost half its trees. Everywhere you look, 8 and 10 foot limbs litter the yards and roads. They just weren’t made to support so much ice for three days.
Honestly, I don’t know why people keep moving here. My suburb town alone has grown 30% in 10 years. 30%. We have nowhere to put them. Hopefully, this ice storm scared them off. This is three challenging winters in a row. Of course, we’ll be in sundresses and sandals by Sunday. Nothing makes sense anymore.
On a bright and sunny day in April of 2010, we drove to the local dog pound. After touring the inside, we walked up to an outside cage. There sat a dog with floppy brown basset ears and a heeler body, poised at the front wall, right paw extended to greet us. Our first-grader shook his hand, and that was it. We took Tonto home.
Throughout years of trying and failing to give our son a sibling, pregnancies and miscarriages, Tonto was always there as his best buddy, to scamper up his playscape and run in the sprinkler with all the energy of youth. When we took him to the dog park, other dogs would run off leash like banshees terrorizing a village. But Tonto would walk up to the first human, sit and extend his right paw to shake. Once shaken, he would move to the next human and spend the entire hour greeting folks. Through two eye removal surgeries, he never lost his sweetness, learning to take life as it comes, with all of its challenges.
The day after Christmas, his breathing became labored, and we rushed him to ER on that same road where we had adopted him 12 years prior. Within minutes, the doctor came in and said a tumor had ruptured on his spleen, and his belly was full of blood. He didn’t have long. Tears spilled on the floor tiles as the three of us stroked his fur for the last time and told him how much we loved him. We were there with him as the doctor let him gently go.
I imagine he greeted Saint Peter at the pearly gates with a right paw shake, and then proceeded into heaven, making new friends. He really was a good boy.
First it was tiny houses. Now it’s tiny cars. And I mean TINY.
This 1955 Eshelman may not seem like the perfect gift. Sure, it only has one cylinder and a horsepower of 3. Top speed is 25 mph. Brakes are a 2 wheel paddle. I don’t even know what that is.
But I know I don’t have to call shotgun. I don’t have to cart some scrub around because this ride only seats one. I don’t have to worry about driving too fast in the suburbs because I can’t gun it past the limit. No speeding tickets for me. And the color, why, it’s inspiring!