Thursday, November 14, 2019

another nice thing

While preparing dinner, the doorbell rang. Egad. Not another candidate for the city commission. No, couldn’t be, that election is over. Then, who? Disgruntled, I opened the door. A Girl Scout handed me a brown paper bag. Chocolates! I thanked her. As she was turning away, she looked back and said, “Oh. There’s seven dollars in the bag because you overpaid.”

I don’t remember when it was I ordered these chocolates, but I do remember that when this same Girl Scout came to the door back then, ringing the bell, it was news to me that the Girl Scouts sold chocolates. I looked at the brochure she handed me and placed my order, paid for it, overpaying, perhaps, in more ways than one because certainly you can buy chocolates for less. But the beauty of this transaction—

I like chocolate, and out of the blue one day someone is at my door offering me the opportunity to buy chocolate while sitting on the glider of my own front porch. I get direct, knowledgeable advice on which varieties are the most popular. There is no pressure. There are no special deals. I’m not exhorted to “like” anyone or anything on social media. Absolutely no rigmarole. I order chocolate mints, chocolates with caramel, chocolates with peanut butter. The order will not arrive for a month or so, not until sometime in November, but imagine! At some unexpected moment during that most dreary time of year ’twixt Halloween and Thanksgiving, long after this time on the porch has been forgotten, the doorbell will ring (will I be peeved?) and maybe it will be unseasonably cold with a bitter and relentless wind and dark, of course, and snow and ice and who knows, maybe I’ll even be struggling with a never-ending cold, a virus, and oh! what a nice surprise it will be to open the door to find someone handing me a bag of chocolates! Along with a five and two ones, because I overpaid.

Outtake, Daily Walks with Jo, November 13.
South Beach.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

daily walks

When walking Josie, I go about it all wrong. I relinquish the lead. Josie walks in front of me, pulling me along. He strains against his halter. The leash is taut. I hang on as best I can. He moves quickly, deciding which way we go, where we turn, where we stop, and often for how long we stop. At times he must wait on me. As I carefully pick up his feces, he impatiently kicks up tufts of grass and dirt and snow which may or may not fly in my face. But, if I ever happen to drop the leash, he will pause and wait for me to reattach. And if we are ever someplace where I can unclip him from the leash, he darts here and there, then, when I say it’s time, he waits for me to clip his leash back on.

Outtake: Daily Walks with Jo, November 5.
Lakeshore Loop Counter-clockwise with Boardwalk.

Occasionally, I make suggestions about which way to turn, but, since settling in Marquette a little over a year ago, Josie and I have developed a few standard routes and he mostly sticks to those routes. Direction from me is unnecessary. Realizing this, in September, I abdicated my quasi decision-making throne and promoted Josie, officially, to lead dog. One morning I told him that from now on he would be in charge of the morning walks. A few weeks later, I started charting those walks. It was a basic system, I simply made a list.
Josie Walks
Monday – South Beach
Tuesday – Chamberlain Loop
Wednesday – Lakeshore Loop w/ Boardwalk Counter-clockwise …
After keeping this list for two weeks, I thought there might be a better way, and soon my desire for organization, potential analysis, and context found its way into a new blog:


Once again using a Dynamic View template offered by Blogger, the blog is fully functional on a computer (from desktop to tablet), but not on a smartphone. It appears on a smartphone, you can see every photo and read all text, but it does not appear in the proper way, meaning the way that allows for organization and potential analysis. You see, each walk is a post with a photo, text, and at least two labels, one label for the day of the week and one for the route. Posts can be easily sorted by these labels, on the home page, so we can see which routes Josie is choosing on Mondays, for example, and also how often he chooses any one route. So far, the Lakeshore Loop Counter-clockwise with Boardwalk is the favorite. There is a label for walks that deviate from a standard, and one of those variants has already earned its own name: Mountain Extension. To my chagrin, one route that I had thought was standard has not been taken at all since the blog began (October 24). Going back to my handwritten list, I see Josie has not chosen the Lakeshore Loop Clockwise with Boardwalk since October 10.

Outtake: Daily Walks with Jo, October 28.
South Beach.

About a week into the blog, one of my sisters wondered where the maps were. I had yet to include any street names in the introduction or in the daily posts (though “Chamberlain” in “Chamberlain Loop” might have been seen as a clue), let alone maps, but I realized that being non-specific was somewhat contradictory to the purpose. Maps could certainly aid the research.

Outtake: Daily Walks with Jo, November 1.
Lakeshore Loop Counter-clockwise with Boardwalk.

My other sister then suggested that if I did include maps, I would most likely draw them from Josie’s perspective. As it turns out, I had just begun paying closer attention to Josie’s perspective. For instance, at a certain juncture where he turns toward South Beach but then reverses to head into a Lakeshore Loop Counter-clockwise, the reason he heads first to South Beach could simply be to pee on a certain pole, nothing more. Previously I had thought he was heading into the South Beach route then making a last-minute decision to switch. But maybe his standard LLCc includes this little blip. Making maps with Josie’s markers seems appropriate. I had also been noticing that even when Josie is following a standard route, he may mix it up a bit by changing which side of the street we walk on. These slight changes are noted in the daily text, but, again, if there were a map for each walk, it might allow us to see something we are otherwise missing. Does Josie ever take exactly the same route twice? Is there any discernible pattern to his choices? How does he make his decisions? But, I have yet to draw a map. The future awaits.

Outtake: Daily Walks with Jo, November 4.
Mountain Extension.

My initial analysis after two weeks of charting and two weeks of blogging is that although Josie follows established patterns for our walks, he also innovates as the spirit (or something) moves him. He feels free to deviate from pattern and to explore. He also improvises as circumstances dictate. Most importantly, though, Josie thoroughly enjoys our walks, as do I. I am always wondering, where will we go today?

Outtake: Daily Walks with Jo, October 29.
Variant, Lakeshore Loop Clockwise, Third Rock.