Uh Oh ….

Remember Buddy?  Dog of the lost collar?  I wrote about him just the other day.  Well, that’s him snoozing on my porch.  He showed up yesterday as I was cleaning out my van (way overdue on that chore). Tango was in the van because he thinks it is his living room on wheels (he’s kinda right about that) and he doesn’t want to miss out if I’m going somewhere. So Buddy comes wiggling-waggling around…the dog is always happy. At one point it looks like he’s going to get in the van so Tango was forced to engage but it went far better than I would have expected. Tango didn’t do his usual posturing with unknown male dogs. He just got up and gave Buddy a look which was quite effective. Then Tango got out of the van and the two of them began that weird dog-dance which involves a lot of circling, smelling and peeing.

Tango quickly bored of the game but Buddy was stoked. I could tell he was ready to come in the house and maybe catch a little chow. He was told, in no uncertain terms, that he is NOT coming in the house. Which may lead you to remember the funny writing about the stray cat who shows up in the yard but won’t be fed.

But it’s hungry.
Okay it can eat in the garden but not on the porch.
It’s raining.
Okay, the cat can eat on the porch but not in the house.
It’s cold. Okay, the cat can eat in the kitchen but can’t stay in the house overnight….
And on it goes.

Wish me luck. I’m hoping Buddy doesn’t fit into stray cat story which, if you don’t recall, ends with the cat sleeping happily in bed with its humans. ❧

Buddy

Meet my new friend, Buddy. I’ve written about another Buddy, the Fawn Hill Buddy who belongs to my friend Bonnie and lives just above me here on Fawn Hill. He barks to scare the thunder away … it doesn’t work.

This is a new Buddy and he lives on Potts Branch Rd. which runs just below Fawn Hill. That’s him on the left. I’ve seen him before, running free with two or three of his buddies. Many dogs run free up here in Franklin. They become street and woods savvy. Usually they will steer clear of humans that aren’t their own. Generally speaking they are no bother and I have to admit I have stood on my porch and watched Buddy with his buddies running or walking along Potts Branch, occasionally veering into my yard where they pick up Tango’s scent and pee to let him know they are around. They look very happy.

So today I was doing some yard work. Tango had chosen to stay inside (the heat is tough on Aussies) and I found Buddy’s collar on my lawn. He’s current with his rabies and registration plus he had a nice name tag with his address and phone number. I called the number and asked if their dog was missing, explaining I found the collar. Buddy’s owner said that he had come home last night with no collar but he was fine. Since the address was just up Potts Branch Rd.  I told her I would just place the collar on my mailbox and she could collect it when she went by. She said that was fine.

I walked to the mailbox and placed it on top, as promised. Then I turned back towards the driveway and there was this handsome, reddish/brown dog looking at me, about 20 feet away.  He had started to turn away — as I said, they tend to avoid humans who aren’t theirs. But something told me I knew this dog.  “Buddy?” I said. Ears perked up, tail wagged, and Buddy walked right over.

He is well named because he is a Buddy. He was up for some petting, especially belly rubs. I turned back and collected his collar. “Is this yours?” I asked. The dang dog walked right up to me, sat down and let me put on the collar–which was a perfect fit. I couldn’t help but laugh. Buddy looked very pleased with himself and asked nicely for another belly rub.

I called his owner again who, at this point, was a bit confused but we both laughed when we ascertained this was indeed Buddy. I told her to expect him to come tonight with his collar. He followed me up the drive but reached a point where Tango’s scent was too strong and he turned around, running down the hill through the apple orchard. Off to another adventure.  ❧

 

Trump got you down? Buy a Roomba.

 

My Roomba, hard at work.

With the New Year I made a significant investment in a robot…yes, a robot. The Roomba vacuum cleaner, which can be seen to the right with more at irobot.com, is about as cute as R2D2, moves in a similar fashion and is just as much fun to watch. In these troubled times it is comforting to encounter something that simply does what it is says it will do.

And the joy of having a device that vacuums while I do other things…well, that is priceless.  Even now, as I type, Roomba is working her magic, clipping along at a fairly good pace, gently tapping against various obstacles and moving on, finding dirt and dog hair all over my tiny Florida home. In the spring it will travel to North Carolina with me and work its wonder on the 80 foot modular home on Fawn Hill. That will be a real workout for it and I have no doubt she will shine.

Regardless of where I hang my hat, living with a cat and an Australian Shepherd  (or, as I sometimes call him, my Australian Shedder) has its problems. Tango, my Aussie, has  “blowouts” at seasonal points in the year creating a different form of a “bomb cyclone.” Huge welts of discarded fur will join together and waft across the floor, collecting under beds and tables. In these times it becomes necessary to vacuum every day.  So boring but so necessary. Now I can just turn on Roomba (I can even do so via my iPhone!) and away she goes…no complaints, no heavy sighs, just a dedication to get the job done.  Now that’s Making America Great Again!

It is amazing but is it a harbinger of darker forces? Will the Roomba that is so dedicated to cleaning floors someday rise up against its master and make demands? More rest periods? Better attention paid to its need for periodic cleanings? Less space to clean?  Of course not. But the role of robots and artificial intelligence (AI) in our society is raising concerns. Just as my Roomba may put some maid services out of business so too, on a far grander scale,  AI may contribute to the loss of many, many jobs in the future. Robots are already performing tasks that once employed people. Robots can build cars, perform surgical operations, drive cars, sort items, and appear as true-to-life models of American presidents at Walt Disney World.

Politico Magazine has recently written about the coming change in an article entitled “How Robots Will Break Politics.” (https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/01/05/robots-politics-automation-technology-216220)  It’s a good read and helps explain these extraordinary times in which we live.  Ryan Avent writes, “Long before we find ourselves dealing with malevolent AIs or genetically engineered superhumans, and perhaps just 10 to 20 years from now, we will have to deal with the threat technology poses to our social order—and to our politics.”

That seems inevitable and given the dismal state of our political affairs I know there are many people who will cry, “Bring it on!”  The next decade will be tumultuous with many changes to social institutions as well as political.  I don’t know how I feel about all that but I sure love my Roomba. Watching her work is almost mesmerizing. It can, for a few minutes, make you forget the chaos and clamor that is all around. Watching Roomba…a 21st Century meditation exercise. It’s getting weird folks. ❖

 

Road Trip – This is the Wrap

 

Alice’s Route 4/23/17 – 6/4/17  — 8,710 miles, 42 days

The odyssey is over. Tango and I are safely arrived in Franklin, NC, where we will quietly enjoy the summer.  No road trips anticipated.  😀

Zeke, Kelli, me, Taryn, Orion, Skylar and Erin… Mother’s Day in Long Beach, CA

Brenann, Evan, Mike, Alice and Stacy..the O’Learys in Hailey, ID.

Tango in the Turnbull N.W.R. near Spokane, WA.

We traveled 8,710 miles! Honestly, I never expected that.  Side trips got added and the end result was many more miles than I anticipated. But those detours allowed me to visit with family, some of whom I had not seen in a long while.  That was grand.

We made a completely unexpected trip to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and met a family who I felt that I knew but had never met.  I wrote about that in my blog, “On the Road — Memories and Magic.”

There were three conferences–two on medical cannabis where I learned so much my head is still spinning.  This issue, that has consumed forty years of my life (see aliceolearyrandall.com), is simply exploding with new knowledge. The discovery of the endogenous cannabinoid system is a blessing for us all.  Lives will be better in coming years thanks to the tireless work of so many activists, healthcare practitioners and researchers.

To those shaking their heads and asking why a 69 year-old woman, and her faithful companion Tango, would undertake such an adventure I can only shake my head in return and ask, “Why not?”  Perhaps it was growing up with the weekly Dinah Shore Show in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Sponsored by a U.S. carmaker, the singing star would always sign-off with her catchy jingle,  “See the USA, in your Chevrolet/America is asking you to call/See the USA in your Chevrolet/America’s the greatest land of all.”  Darn right Dinah!  It is a wonder of a land and those who don’t take the time to visit its wonder are squandering their own wealth. And I can add this, if any of my fellow baby boomers are looking for those wide-open roads of our youth they still exist in the vast Western states of Montana, the Dakotas, and Idaho. (P.S. Stick to the secondary roads, they are the greatest.)

To my faithful readers – thanks. Your comments and observations made things all the more enjoyable. I’ll try to post some pictures from the trip in coming weeks.

Happy trails! ❧

On the Road – The Dakotas

Alice and Tango at Painted Canyon

If you enter North Dakota from the west, traveling from Montana along Interstate 94, one of the first things you will see is a billboard which simply says, “Be Polite.” I knew I was going to love ND.

The state has been on my radar for years but, let’s be honest, it is not exactly on the way to anything, with the possible exception of Canada. According to Wikipedia, “North Dakota is the 19th most extensive but the 4th least populous and the 4th least densely populated of the 50 United States.”  That translates into “big and empty.” I can confirm this to be true.

I wanted to visit North Dakota in order to see the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP), which is located in the western part of ND.  Even the TRNP is huge, with two sections, north and south, that are separated by nearly eighty miles.  The parks began to intrigue me three years ago, after I visited the Badlands N.P. in South Dakota. To a certain extent, the TRNP is an extension of those fabulous lands in SD. I knew I had to go there.

Teddy Roosevelt, our 26th president, actually lived in ND for several years following the deaths of  his wife and mother on the same day (just twelve hours apart).  He credits the land with revitalizing his spirit and I have no doubt that is true.  I found nature to wonderfully healing after the death of my husband in 2001 and during my work as a grief counselor I would often advise my clients to “get out doors.”

In Teddy’s case, not surprisingly, he had a “bully” outdoors to get into. The parklands where he once lived and raised cattle are as bold and dramatic as the man for which they are named. The rock formations, left by complex and dramatic geologic events many thousands of years ago, have created a colorful and magical land filled with canyons, hoodoos, concretions, and vistas. The Little Missouri River, a central character in the creation of this park, meanders peacefully through both parks.  Bison are plentiful in both units, as are wild horses and prairie dogs. The northern unit has, IMHO, the best vistas.  The scene from Riverbend Overlook (the most photographed spot in all of ND I was assured)  is breathtaking.

Riverbend Overlook in the north unit of TRNP.

I had hoped to spend two full days at the park but the weather turned hot overnight, changing the days from delightful temperatures in the high 70s to readings in the low 90s.  This posed a problem: dogs are not allowed on the hiking trails and it was too hot to leave Tango in the van.  Even the shortest of hikes was out of the question.  So we visited every overlook and sat enjoying the views.  Tango, being an absolute people magnet, brought some delightful people our way and we enjoyed short conversations with folks from all over the U.S. and some Asians.  All of us agreed that TRNP is spectacular, well worth the journey.

My epic journey is winding down. We settled for a day and a half at TRNP and this morning we turned the van east and headed for Fawn Hill in North Carolina. It was a long driving day and we are still in the Dakotas. It’s big out here, folks, but worth the effort.❧

 

On the Road – Four Great Days in Idaho

Tango and our van on Idaho Rt. 33.

Today Tango and I turned the van eastward and began our journey home. The magnificent Western mountain ranges that have filled my windshield for nearly four weeks — the Rockies, Sierra Nevadas, Cascades, Pioneers — are sadly becoming relegated to my rearview mirror, growing smaller with each mile.

Our weekend was spent in Hailey, a charming town located in the Sun Valley of Idaho. My nephew and his family–four decidedly South Californians (Michael, his wife Stacy and children Evan and Brenann)–moved to Hailey last summer.  Unusual?  Not at all. Californians appear to be moving to Idaho in droves. Michael explained it is a topic that often came up when they would get together with friends in Fallbrook but it was always a “some day” conversation.  For the Fallbrook O’Learys that “some day” was last July.

Idaho is beautiful.  Not being a winter person I can’t say that I would want to live there year-round.  This past winter gave my nephew’s family a baptism by snow.  All records were shattered. In Ketchum, just a few miles up the road from Hailey, they recorded 112″ of snow. For the math-challenged readers, that’s just 8 inches shy of 10 feet.  TEN FEET OF SNOW!  But at the present time it is gorgeous with mild temperatures and long days.

I had not seen my nephew in fifteen years. A shocking admission in today’s age I suppose but there has been a continent between us for all those years. As I drove today I reflected on communicating with far-flung family. I passed Goodale’s Cutoff, a place where emigrants drove their wagons across the high desert, trying to get around the massive lava flows that now make up the Craters of the Moon N.P.  For those hearty souls there was little hope that they would ever hear from the loved ones left behind, much less have a visit.  As I cruise along in my well-appointed van my mind often drifts to those extraordinary people who risked it all to find a better life.  Much has changed in the intervening 150 years but the quest for a better life remains and leads some to Hailey. I think they have the right idea and I wish them well. ❧

Brenann, Evan, Mike, Alice and Stacy..the O’Learys in Hailey.

On the Road – Memories and Magic

Jack, Josh and Janet Andrews. Cannabis helped Josh beat cancer when he was a toddler.

Faithful readers know I am on a cross-country trip with my canine companion Tango. Some of those faithful readers, but not all, know that I have a long history with the medical cannabis issue (to learn more please visit aliceolearyrandall.com). I have kept medical cannabis out of my Alice’s WanderLand blog for various reasons but primarily because I am not a 24/7 cannabis person. There is so much more to life than cannabis (aka, marijuana).  Alice’s WanderLand is my touchstone with the wonders and beauty of life…either through pictures or words.

But medical cannabis is often wondrous and beautiful. That statement was brought home vividly today in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho where I finally met a family who, 37 years ago, were battling the unimaginable — their three year-old had cancer.

Things were very bad. Young Josh couldn’t eat and if he did manage to eat the chemotherapy made him vomit. When you’re 3 years-old you don’t have a lot to lose in terms of body weight. Janet and Jack realized they must do something. They were watching their child die.

It was 1980 and medical cannabis wasn’t the national issue that it is today. Still, there was plenty of information out there about cancer chemotherapy patients having good success with using marijuana to quell the nausea and vomiting associated with their treatments. A friend sent Janet a magazine article about the topic. Janet immediately made some calls to friends who could help her get marijuana. Then she brewed the cannabis into tea and baked it in to brownies.

Josh, who was readily compliant with other medications, balked at the odd tasting tea and didn’t much care for the peculiar brownies. But he ingested them and the results were “miraculous.”  While other children on the cancer ward vomited into buckets, Josh would ride his tricycle up and down the halls.

Janet called NORML looking for help and I was working there at the time, heading up the Medical Reclassification Project. Later Janet would help Robert and I when we formed the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics in 1981. She provided testimony in the historic DEA Rescheduling hearings before Judge Frances Young in the late 1980s. The judge was clearly moved by their story and extensively quoted Janet’s affidavit in his decision that cannabis should be re-scheduled.

After Josh beat his cancer, Jack and Janet returned to their lives and we lost touch. In the intervening years I found myself wondering what happened to Josh. Facebook helped me track down both he and his mother.  While Coeur d’Alene wasn’t exactly on my route, the detour seemed a small inconvenience given the chance to meet a family that had given much to an important issue. The medical cannabis issue is far from being solved but things are so much better, in part because of Janet and Jack Andrews, who had the courage and love to fight for their son, Josh. ❧