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June 16, 2011

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We're not water soluble, which is something I have trouble persuading my wife of.

No comments on rain, but as to seasons:

1. I was told when I moved to Maine that there were only two seasons: winter and the Fourth of July. In a cynical mood I could say that sometimes that's not too far wrong, then I remember ice, and also the beauty of both spring and fall, which bring daily change and constant reminders of time passing, unlike summer and winter which can settle in for weeks (summer) or months (winter) at a time, relatively changelessly.

2. People don't tend to say explicitly that Maine has five seasons, but we all do talk matter-of-factly about the fifth: it's called "mud."

There is no greater way to relax IMHO than to lie in a hammock outside on a covered verandah in a tropical location while a gentle rain with occasional rumblings of thunder punctuate the rainfall.

my favorite weather for running is 75deg in sudden rain. gives me something to think about. scares dog walkers, baby strollers, sunny-day walkers, inside.

Next to the Philippines, every place I've ever lived is dry. There's regular everyday rain, rainy season (monsoon) rain, and then there are typhoons, of which at least a dozen big ones hit every year.

The first time we were in the Philippines, we moved into our new second-story apartment the day the typhoon hit. We waded to a little grocery store that was still open - and to a bookstore, of course - and spent most of the next week sitting on our porch, sipping cheap gin and tonic with calamansi (*)and reading about the Philippines, while the floods gradually subsided.

(* calamansi - a small green citrus fruit that is perfect for such beverages, God's Sign that he wants us to drink G&Ts. Also excellent spritzed on pancit)

The saga of the last big typhoon I caught, which almost stranded me down "in the provinces," then again halfway home, will have to wait for another time.

Northeast Ohio weather has been beyond weird this year. Wintery weather -- by which I mean high wings, overnight lows in the 20s, daily highs below 50, and so on -- lasted well into the beginning of April. April is normally the month I start cycling to work, but it was out of the question this year.

April was also the month where Cleveland broke a 60-year old rainfall record, with 6.72" recorded from April 1 to April 26. Through March and April we had a streak where it rained for something like 54 out of 60 days, the wettest streak in more than a century of recorded data. Most of those days were heavy storms, not just light showers, another record.

January through May recorded 20.64" of precipitation in Cleveland, which is not a record, but is in second place behind the record of 22.45 set in 1950.

(Incidentally, did you know that climate change models for the Great Lakes region going back 40 years predict greatly increased precipitation due to warmer air holding a lot more moisture from the lakes? Eh, coincidence, I'm sure.)

We also have had temperatures in the final weeks of May exceeding 90 F for days at a time. This May 31 was the second-hottest on record, reaching 91 by 3:30pm. Since then it's fluctuated all over the place. We've had days well over 90, and we've had days where it barely reached 55. Naturally, these constantly clashing hot and cold fronts have meant long streaks of beautiful days followed by days of severe thunderstorms and hail.

Here in Austin, when people have come to visit lately and I tell them that it hasn't really rained since February, they laugh because they think I'm joking.

It's getting less and less funny that they think it's funny.

Thoughts on rain? I'd like for it to come back. Summer appears to be asserting itself despite the best efforts of the Seattle area to cling to spring.

In Northern California, we essentially have two seasons: rain and dry.

Normally, the last rain for the year arrives in late April or early May. Within weeks, the grass has all dried out, and we see "golden" California. It doesn't rain again until October (except the annual shower in the first week of September that always surprises everybody). Then it rains (God willing) off and on from November thru March.

Then again, there was this year. In May, we had pretty nice weather . . . for March. Which is to say that it rained repeatedly. And the first week of June looked like February (leading me to think that time had started running backwards): it rained heavily -- as in over an inch in one day! We got more rain in each of the first 5 days on June than we normally get all summer. Definitely a shock to the system.

Against the backdrop of sudden and menacing downpours this afternoon in Newark, Del., I put down Hamilton today.

He was my Little Man.

A Beagle, and the first pure-bred I ever owned, I found him in the spring of 2004 -- when he was 10-years-old, fit and spry, stubborn and independent.

Hamilton, as his previous owner named him, and which seemed to fit his small-but-big stature, went wondering that day in 2004 and I happened to see him avoid getting hit by a car while making a pizza run.

That little old dog, having negotiated the traffic on a main residential road, headed straight for the woods. Slowly but surely, he walked toward the tall trees in that bowlegged way of his -- more likely, being a Beagle, he was following whatever scent he picked up and the trees just happened to be near the end of his travels.

I pulled over. Called out to the dog a couple times and could just as well been calling out to myself. The second time, he at least turned around, but paid me no real mind.

Then, I got down on my knees, remembering something I heard or read once -- that dogs in this sort of situation are more apt to respond to you if you are at eye level. Sounded good to me.

Bent down, on my knees, saying, "Here, boy. Here, boy."

And damned if that dog didn't come bounding toward me.

He looked happy to have a new friend. He enjoyed the fuss I made over him. Hamilton was not shy.

So I hid him in the back of a new TrailBlazer, the inventory piece I picked as my rider for that pizza run, went to Detail before heading back to my department and told my buddies there I'd be back in 2 hours, at closing, to pick up the stray and, please, try to keep him quiet so I don't get fired.

Long story short: Tracked down the owner in a few days and he all but said, "I don't want him. He's yours."

And so, he was.

For the final 7 years of his 17-year-old life.

Hamilton was more independent than most dogs I had ever had and not typical of the medium- to large-size dogs I usually had, dogs I would wrestle with or play fetch with.

He was a Beagle. He liked to sniff and bay and sleep and eat.

And -- we already had to other dogs, CoCo and Bowser who were completely devoted to me, and vice-versa -- he became my son's dog.

That changed practically 3 years ago to the day Hamilton finally said goodbye to this earth when CoCo, my favorite, in a violent rage I still cannot explain to this day, savagely attacked him.

I got a panicked call from my wife at home and seemed to get there the very next second. It was not a pretty sight. CoCo was a bloody mess, already in the SPCA vehicle to be taken for her sudden fate. I asked to make a quick goodbye and could not believe this beautiful Golden Retriever mix went so completely crazy that she practically killed my Little Man.

I muttered, "CoCo. Oh, CoCo," in stunned disbelief, but quickly turned my attention to Hamilton, who my wife had wrapped in towels on the backyard porch. He was dying.

Sped to our regular vet who was shocked at what she saw. Seventeen puncture wounds, a dazed look -- Hamilton was probably in shock -- and told me she was not sure she could save him.

I said, "Try."

The next morning the vet said she was surprised how Hamilton toughed out the surgery. Then she told me to take him to the Newark Animal ER Hospital for observation and what would likely be more surgery.

In two weeks, he came home.

In two weeks after that, he was his old self.

We took trips in my little green truck to see both vets and both were amazed at his rapid progress.

Hamilton and I then bonded like never before.

I felt I owed him everything I had. He just wanted to be loved.

In the final three years of his life, I grew to love him more and more, and learn more and more from this 40-pound miracle Beagle.

I was amazed at his will.

I was amazed at his easy-come, easy-go attitude.

I was amazed at how devoted and loyal he was to his people.

And in short order, just as I was thrilled when CoCo would be waiting for me at the door, now it was Hamilton. And I was just as happy.

Hamilton and I grew to be kindred spirits, more than I could have ever imagined.

I watched Hamilton age.

He walked slower, bayed less, slept more.

All the while, he remained that proud, stubborn Little Man I found near the woods, only growing more affectionate.

As he aged and still demonstrated a strong will, I grew to admire that little Beagle. He did not want to give into the inevitable, even when the years were getting the better of him.

Meanwhile, 18 months shy of 50, various aches and pains getting the better of me more and more, and thinking from time to time about death and mortality, I loved Hamilton more than ever and studied him closely.

This dog tried to do everything he could to stay the way he was; all the while, Father Time making it harder and harder for him to do so.

The last 4 months became unforgiving.

My Little Man seemed to age more in these past 4 months than he had the previous 4 years.

He was losing his eyesight rapidly. His hearing was going. His once brilliant and shiny coat was dulled.

Then he began losing his footing. He would trip over the simplest things, on the lip in the middle of our sidewalk out front, on the solid and thick roots in our backyard which is home to three mature trees.

But each time, with that ever-present will to live and to be as close to himself as he could be, Hamilton would gather himself and go on. And I worried more and more.

Here lately, my proud Little Man suffered incontinence and moments of senility and sleepless nights.

I suffered from denial, I think.

I wanted to give Hamilton every chance. For if he taught me anything over the years, it was not to count him out. And on those nights when he would lovingly plop his head on my feet while I sat on the couch, I often wondered if he was telling me, "Don't worry. I'll get through this."

Because in those moments, Hamilton was definitely happy, happy in the home that had become his.

In those moments -- my old dog's head plopped on my feet, covered in old slippers -- we both were in some version of heaven.

But eventually denial gives way to reality.

And yesterday, I called our vet and made an appointment for 3 o'clock today.

All day, I sat and wondered at work if I was doing the right thing -- if it was time.

Then, around noon, I called my 12-year-old son -- who I knew would tell me the truth, if I could get it out of him -- and finally found clarity.

I mentioned to Danny that I wanted to make sure what we were doing was right for Hamilton and that I recognized, at 17, he was experiencing discomfort more and more frequently.

"No, Dad. He is experiencing pain."

I told my boy I loved him, hung up the phone, and got the OK from my boss to leave work at 2:15.

Piling Hamilton in the cab of that little green truck, especially in the midst of a sudden downpour, was not easy.

Downpour or not, I pulled down the window on the passenger seat and let Hamitlon take in the wondrous scents of this world one last time. Those scents must have overwhelmed my 17-year-old Beagle because he smiled broadly and, all of a sudden, became young again.

The trip to the vet was short and so was what had to be done.

I told Hamilton, one last time, as he was going, he was my Little Man and always would be. I told him I admired his strength and will to live. I told him I would never forget him.

In the interests of preventing readers from thinking that we are complete idiots here in the Pacific Northwest, the reason we don't use umbrellas is that the wind simply rends them into raggedy bits within minutes. Not only are you still going to get wet but now you have to find a place to throw away a useless bundle of wires and cloth on a stick.

BTFB your posts bring back memories, happy and sad. The time we nailed a burglar ( she didn't attack him til the cops got there and got him on the ground-no dummy was she, first cuff him then bite) and while on my way home one day, my wife passed me in the other direction. I knew where she was going and I burst into tears. She was old and had had 3 strokes. I cried again tonight. This time for Hamilton and Niki.

I'm only happy when it rains.

Hi Bedtime, I remember your story about Coco. That's oe of the saddest dog stories I've ever heard.

I'm sorry about the passing of yiur old dog Hamilton. My old Blackie will go soon. It is hard to pick the die, to pick the day that will be the last one. Sometimes Blackie sleeps so hard I kind of hope he's picked the day himself. He's deaf, blind,arthritic ad has a heart codition, buthe stil eats and sleeps ad he still loves me. So...


If anyone is interested, there is a wonderful rescue called Old Dog Haven www.olddoghaven.org that has hospice foster homes for homeless old dogs. Check out the stories on their website warm fuzzies. I like old dogs.

BTFB-sorry about Hamilton. Thanks for sharing your memories.

Rain? Haven't had any of that for a while, Houston or Austin. It's starting to be a real problem.

I don't even have a dog and I almost cried. (And I mean ALMOST! ...'cause I'm so macho.)

The rain here in Tokyo is welcome as it washes the radiated dust in the streets away. Unfortunately, it brings its own small amounts of hot dose making the experience ambivalent...

hidflect, did you have a rainy season up there last year or the year before? I actually just realized that we didn't really have one to speak of in Kyushu for the past two years.

OK, Gary, if we're on song cues...

I Think it's Going to Rain Today.

Hi liberal japonicus,
Now to think about it.. not really. Going by memory (hit and miss) we did lack the usual slew of rain drenches from typhoons. I mean to say, we didn't get many typhoons, as you suggest. It was not so hot either. The summer seemed late. This year again, it's very cool. Which I'm grateful for because Tepco might not be be able to pump the power for the aircons. Apparently energy use jumps 50% in Summer! That would be understandable when you see all the department stores blasting aircon onto the open street to attract shoppers inside. That always bugged me as a humongous waste and I suppose they'll stop that now. The weather trend I DO remember well from last year was the total washout of Autumn (OK, Fall!). The weather rolled straight from hot to cold and I missed my lovely ambient, calm month of October. But right now I'm making that back with this unseasonably cool weather. In my more paranoiac moments I wonder if Tepco is somehow holding off the heat of summer... (been reading too much about HAARP, sorry).

(* calamansi - a small green citrus fruit that is perfect for such beverages, God's Sign that he wants us to drink G&Ts. Also excellent spritzed on pancit)

Calamansi, according to Wikipedia, is the same as calamondin, which produces orange-when-ripe fruit. I have one in my front yard, although it hasn't yet fruited (it's only been in the ground for several weeks, now; even though it's less than two feet tall it's already bushy and blooming. Looks as if we'll have fruit this year, perhaps). It's a kind of citrus that most people in Florida wouldn't recognize, but it's supposed to do well in this climate. I'll have to report back in a year or so (citrus normally take nearly a full year to ripen) on how well it's doing and how worthwhile it is to actually own one of these. Along with the lemon and tangerine we have in the side yard, of course.

I'm back from vacation now. Did anyone miss me?

I haven't slept in days. Don't ever do that to me again.

"I'm back from vacation now. Did anyone miss me?"

Who are you again?

Who are you again?

I need at least two more weeks of vacation to begin to address that question :)

Now that the hay is up, we could use some.

Rain, that is.

Thanks for the kind words, Old Soldier, Laura, McKinney, hairshirt.

It was a long weekend, lots of introspection, and, yes, some much-needed rain. But apparently, starting Wednesday, we could be in for our third heat wave of the year (which the TV weather reports always remind us constitute at least three consecutive days of 90 degrees).

We had a very wet early spring and everything was so lush and green.

Then came little rain and lots of heat and everything was less lush and green, parts of lawns even browning.

Cut ours for the first time in two-plus weeks.

Our 14-year-old cat, Tiger, who I love dearly and most especially enjoy how talkative she is, seemed subdued over the weekend. Did she sense Hamilton wasn't coming back?

She, and I, are quite occupied with Cody, the 2-year-old Pappilion mix, we rescued in August.

Cody was supposed to be Tank, a huge 5-year-old black lab. But my wife freaked out when she saw how big he was -- maybe I should have realized he was named "Tank" for a reason -- and it was Cody who charmed her, and me, and drove home with us from Paws For Life in Chesepeake City, Md., a truly wonderful rescue operation.

I thought another dog might add some sparkle to Hamilton's final days, and that turned out to be the case until his health got the better of him.

Meanwhile, for a guy who so wanted a big black lab, I am smitten with my Pretty Boy.

Cody is a charmer and a comedian and absolutely gorgeous, shiny white with mocha markings, with the trademark butterfly ears and bushy squirrel-like tail of a Pappilion.

During his first three or four months here, he observed Hamilton and seemed to get a good sense of right and wrong. Then, as Hamilton's eyesight failed him, Cody practically acted as his guide. The transition was cool to see.

Cody is my shadow, not much for playing fetch like Tank would have been, and definitely not much for wrestling.

But he gives his person plenty of kisses, consistently wears a smile on his face, seems to know just how much Tiger will put up with, and is my shadow.

No, he is not a big black lab. But he is definitely my Big Boy now.

Hi BEdtime, Your story about your BIG DOG makes me thik of my foo-foo dog, Izzy. I ever wanted a purebred lap dog. I wanted my next dog to be a pitbull.

But Izzy got dumped at the rescue, early dead and I voluteered to foster him mostly because i was afraid our terrible aimal cotrol officer would return him to his abusive ower and I was going to hide him ad tell some lie...but none of that drama was ecessary. And Izzy is on the couch beside me now.

(He's not yappy, thank goodess and he doesn't really like being on my lap. He likes being nearby)

He's a Maltese, mostly hair but with a big personality. I think he is here to stay although I would be open to rehoming him with someone I trusted to love him for ever.

Wonkie

Yes, Wonkie -- nay, Laura -- I knew it was you.

Sounds like Izzy is a keeper.

Like Izzy, Cody is not a yapper. Thank goodness.

For the first month or so we had him, I wondered if he was ever going to bark.

Then one day when I opened the porch door that leads to the backyard, he saw a squirrel. I don't know if Cody had ever seen a squirrel or not -- perhaps he was raised in an apartment? -- but he reacted as if it was the first time he saw such a critter: He went nuts.

Yes, he could bark. And bark. And bark. A funny, puppylike bark. And he eyed that squirrel's every move up one of our trees. A terrific jumper, Cody took flight a couple times, raising himself a couple feet off the ground and finally bracing himself on the tree. I regret that I did not get a good look at the squirrel, who I figured must have been thinking, "Where did that crazy white thing come from? And can't he bark like a real dog?"

I guess you had to be there.

Then a week or so later, Cody stumbled upon his greatest find: a rabbit.

I saw the squirrel and knew it would high-tail it up the tree and be in no danger. But Cody saw the bunny before I did -- usually the neighborhood rabbits, which there are plenty, don't wander into our yard; after all, each neighbor beside me has never had a dog in the 7 years we've been here and their yards make up a much safer haven.

What resulted was hilarious: Cody and that rabbit basically ran in circles for what seemed like hours (it could only have been a minute or 2 at most) until finally the bunny shimmied himself under (or it could have been through, it was happening that fast) the old fencing, which is a wire fence that has greater openings in some sections than others.

Cody looked and looked at my neighbor's yard and, finally figuring out that the rabbit would not be coming back anytime soon, came back to me on the porch. I don't think I have ever seen such a happy dog: Cody just had the chase of his life, his tongue sticking out, his panting loud and proud.

And so it was confirmed: He was no lap dog.

Actually, because he is a Papillion mix -- he is taller and thinner, much more muscular, than an actual Papillion, and much more handsome, if you ask me.

Then again, he is a lap dog in the sense that Cody loves his person's lap, his person's couch, his person's bed.

My wife of nearly 7 years has now been with me through four dogs and Cody is the first one to charm is way into our bed -- excuse me, his bed.

I keep working my way down (in size) with each dog that welcomes himself into my home, so I would not be shocked if I actually find myself fawning over a tiny Chihauhau someday, which, after all, I did at the Halloween Parade this year when Cody befriended a real sweetie whose nails were painted pink.

But I find Cody to be just right, "a big dog in a little dog's body," as the Paws For Life website described him.

He found the perfect home, we found the perfect dog, and Tank wound up with people with much more property and a nearby lake, where I've seen pictures of him joyfully jumping in.

Truthfully, I recognize now that, working a job that requires so many hours, I would not have had the time to properly exercise or occupy a Lab's time.

I figure I will have to wait until retirement, when I have such time, for my dream Lab.

Or maybe not.

Cody has opened my eyes. There's definitely more than meets the eyes to little dogs, much more.

Every dog has taught me somethig new about dogs. Charlie the pug taught me to like dogs--previoulsy I was cats only. Joey the collie had a heart full of sweetness and trust. He stoically handled brain cancer for too long really, We just couldn't let him go. I won't let Blackie suffer like that. Balckie taught me all about the passion and drama of big a terrier ad the fun of corginess. He also taught me how to help a dog overcome nuerotic behavior from abuse. Lassie---I can't talk about her. Her death taught me that I can overcome rage and sorrow for the sake of communication. Izzy is teachig me that a small fluffy creature with button eyes and a silly curly tail is still a dog--he chases deer and rolls in smelly stuff and he plays with our German shepard mix as if she was a puppy. Regards, Bedtime, a hug for your dog from me!

I'm English and therefore always have an umbrella available.
What do you use to beat the natives if you don't carry one?

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