Granddaughter Zoe, age 10, recently spent a few days at our home and opted to play "Spider Solitaire" on my laptop rather than accompany Ray and me on an early morning walk. When I reminded Ray to set the alarm as we headed out the door, he asked, "Are you sure you want to do that?"
"Sure," I replied, "I told Zoe we'd set it."
A mile up the road, I remarked, "I wish I'd told Zoe not to open an outside door." And then it dawned on me (I'm blond, you know), "Omigosh! We didn't disable the motion detectors when we went out the door!"
We turned around and hiked faster than I thought possible back toward the house. Ray dashed my fervent hope that Zoe was so engrossed in the game that she'd stay put when he said, "I hope she doesn't have to go to the bathroom."
We had almost reached our mailbox when the siren sounded and we began jogging up our long steep drive. About halfway up, totally winded, we said the heck with it and resumed walking just as the siren ceased its earsplitting wail.
I phoned the company that monitors our system, explained what happened and apologized for being blond; they had already dispatched law enforcement, but were able to halt them mid-trip. That was a huge relief to Zoe, who had triggered the hall motion detector and recounted her vulnerable position. "There I was sitting on the toilet. The alarm was really loud and I expected a policeman to kick open the bathroom door. I was just going to hold up my hands and hope he'd believe that I wasn't a burglar."
Our daily walks usually aren't so exciting. I'm just glad that I - who for over a decade walked four miles daily with my neighbor Estel - am able to walk long distances again. I was sidelined the last couple of years with a torn meniscus in my right knee due to the folly of saying at a bubbling Yellowstone Paint Pot, "I'm going to run back to the car and get my camera."
The recommended surgery to repair my knee wasn't appealing because an eight-hour operation several years ago took all the fun out of surgery for me. Instead, I religiously committed to the doctor's prescribed therapeutic exercises and bought some heavy-duty arch supports. And I recently read that the fish oil capsules I have been taking for general health reasons are believed by some doctors to repair torn cartilage. Whatever it was, something worked, and I'm not one to question good results.
Our resumed morning walks are bittersweet as we pass our neighbor's drive because the little dog - a girl named Susie at her family's home and a boy named Pepper when he frequently visited our home - no longer comes out to greet us, shake hands with Ray and walk up the road with us. I'm afraid to ask, but I greatly fear our vicarious pet may have departed for that big doghouse in the sky.
No need to cease talking now when we pass Susie/Pepper's home. We used to try to sneak by due to our worry that she/he would be hit by a car while walking with us because we knew that Susie/Pepper only came out to the road because she liked our company. A driver once slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting the little dog, then gave us a glare that curled our toes. I couldn't really blame him and told Ray we should either buy a leash or print T-shirts proclaiming NOT OUR DOG.
No pet could have a better home than the one our neighbors gave the little dog after it was dumped by the side of the road at the end of a school term (an all-too-frequent occurrence in rural areas). With a three-legged German Shepherd buddy, Susie/Pepper oversaw construction of our home 12 years ago, so the little gray and white dog was getting a bit long in the tooth. Perhaps she/he is simply housebound by the infirmities of old age ... either way, we miss Susie/Pepper.
One recent morning, a deputy sheriff slowed his car to ask if we were taking a walk (in case you're wondering, he wasn't blond), then cautioned us to watch out for cars. Frankly, I don't worry about us as much as the bicyclists who frequent our county highway because Ray and I walk facing traffic and can dive for the ditch if necessary. Also, we move to single file when cars, most of which give us a wide berth, approach. It was nice of the deputy to be concerned about us, but I'm really glad - and so is Zoe - that he didn't drive by when the siren was sounding.