When those tasks were complete, I put on a second pot of coffee and settled down on the couch with my feet up and an indulgence I haven't allowed myself in quite some time, a horribly written Clive Cussler novel, starring his hero character, the one and only Dirk Pitt.
It doesn't get more exciting than that.
When you're me, you don't live life... you strap yourself in and feel the G's!
Anyway, the combination of a second pot of coffee, and the daring exploits of Dirk Pitt had me wired after a couple of hours, so I selected a hoodie from what my friend Vicki from my high school days has referred to as my "never-ending collection" and picked up the dogs leashes. Both Victor and Roxie started dancing around me as only two large and excited dogs can do. There was much joyful leaping about and barking. I don't care what anyone else says... dogs are capable of reading their owners minds. Only someone who has never lived closely with dogs would believe otherwise. I didn't give them any verbal or physical indication that this was going to be anything more than a walk on one of the two neighborhood routes we normally follow, but somehow they figured out that this unexpected early afternoon outing was something special.
I had the first indication that Victor knew it was going to be a "special" walk by this interesting thing he does with his jaw when he's excited about something. He snaps his jaw open and closed, but not in a way that anyone would think is aggressive... it makes a sort of muted percussive sound that I refer to as "clicking", but it actually sounds more like a "clomp".
I opened the door, and inserted my key into the deadbolt on the outside. (My front door opens to 40th street, and there is no fence between the door and the sidewalk and street beyond. Getting the two of them out the door without anyone, namely ME getting injured can sort of be... challenging, as I discovered on my first walk with them here that retrieving my keys from my pocket cannot be done as they attempt to drag me down the sidewalk in their initial excitement.) I heard Victor behind me: "Clomp... clomp..." I quickly checked the cargo pocket on my shorts and discovered that there was only one poop bag there (I HATE people who don't pick up after their dogs in public), so I went into the kitchen to get more.
"Clomp... clomp... clomp... clomp..."
Roxie decided to get into the act.
(Their vocalizations are a constant source of amusement to me. Sometimes I think they're actually trying to form words.)
I still haven't given them any hint that this is going to be anything more than a normal walk, yet as I start going through my mental checklist, they're becoming more and more excited:
Me: "Keys in door, check."
Victor: "Clomp... clomp... clomp... arrowowo!"
Me: "Poop bags, check."
Roxie: "Arf?? Aroo?"
Me: "Cell phone, got it."
Me: "Okay guys, are you ready?"
Roxie: "ARF! ARF!!! ARF!!!! Arrooooowwowwoowwoo!"
I picked up their soft water dish (It's made out of nylon, and a truly wonderful thing to have for long walks), fastened it to Victor's collar, and by this act they figured out that this was going to be the most special of ALL walks:
"He's taking us to Lake Harriet!!!"
Cue more leaping and dancing as I steeled myself for the possible shoulder dislocation I knew could occur as soon as I opened the door. Keep in mind, because of my bad right shoulder, I have to hold BOTH leashes in my left hand, and until I aggravated it, I was strictly a right hand leash guy. It's a carefully choreographed procedure to get the dogs out the door with the leashes in my left hand, while I close and lock it with my right... without any humans or dogs being injured. It has to be seen in person to be completely understood.
We got outside without any major pain on my part, and the fact that the dogs knew where we were going without my telling them was further evidenced by the fact that as soon as we hit the sidewalk they turned left immediately. Our normal morning and evening routes start by turning right.
Damn, they're intuitive.
I gripped both leashes tightly as the dogs tried their best to drag me west along 40th Street on my face. We crossed several side streets, and then Lyndale Avenue, with Dupont Avenue, and the enormous Lakewood Cemetery ahead. I was curious as to how good the dogs sense of direction was, as turning right at the cemetery would take us to Lake Calhoun, which they have only been to once, while turning left would take us to our desired destination. Lake Calhoun is okay, but the walking paths are a bit too crowded for my liking. Lake Nokomis is our second choice, but it's to the southeast of my new place, and way too far to walk.
I shouldn't have wondered, we got to Dupont Avenue, and both dogs immediately turned left, noses pointed at Lake Harriet. When we came upon the path around the Lake, I was mildly surprised that even though it was cloudy and cool, there were still just as many people and dogs as you would expect to find on a sunny, warmer Saturday. We started around the lake when I heard a voice:
I turned and looked, it was my neighbors Stephen and Jessica, and their dogs Turner, a German Shepherd/Siberian Husky mix, and Abercrombie, who is hands down the friendliest, goofiest brindle Pit Bull I have ever met. All four dogs get along quite well with each other, which is an added bonus. While the canine contingent busied themselves sniffing each others butts, Stephen, Jessica and myself had an in depth discussion of foreign policy, and European Economics.
Actually, we stood there and watched the dogs, who had quickly segued from butt-sniffing to a four way wrestling match which with the addition of four leashes quickly became rather amusing. We ended up walking around the lake as a three-person, four-dog posse, and they invited me to join them at Cafe Ena for dinner. It's a very good restaurant at the intersection of Grand and 46th (six blocks from my house), that specializes in something called "Latin Fusion". I don't know where the "fusion" part of the menu came in, but it was a surprisingly reasonably priced restaurant in a city full of restaurants that are WAY too overpriced. They also had an impressive, reasonably priced wine list, and offer half-price bottles Sunday-Thursday... When they told our server that I was new in the neighborhood, AND a dog person, we got not one but TWO bottles of a surprisingly good Chilean Pinot Noir for half price! I am now a BIG fan of Cafe Ena.
Sunday morning started out sunny, and a bit warmer than Saturday. After my morning exercise with Victor and Roxie, I grabbed my camera and headed back out alone, this time to the Kingfield Farmers Market. The Hmong (Vietnamese) farmer and his family I have been making most of my purchases from have now figured out my buying pattern, and as I approached their stall, the wife smiled and waved at me and promptly began putting Roma tomatoes in a bag for me, while her husband set a bushel of red onions on the table for me to pick through, and then reached under the table and pulled out a bundle of cilantro with black Minnesota topsoil still clinging to the roots.
"Just picked this morning, just for you." he said.
He wasn't kidding. The rest of their cilantro was in smaller bundles in a bushel in front of their stall and the roots were neatly trimmed away.
"New batch of sweet peppers and chiles next week... you want?" he said.
"Yes I want! Orange and yellow if you have them, and green chiles?"
"Ya. We have green chiles for you next week."
I LOVE this neighborhood.
I chatted with a few neighbors, took some photos of a not-so-scary clown making balloon animals for a group of children, and made the acquaintance of a chocolate lab puppy whose personality reminded me of Sophie in the comic strip "Dog Eat Doug".
Afterwards, I walked back up Nicollet Avenue to 40th Street and home. (Pictured at top) For those who are wondering, the building you can see peeking above the treetops in the photo is Minneapolis' IDS Center.
*** Trivia Interlude***
Apparently, at one time it's 55 stories made it the tallest building in the United States west of the Mississippi. You've seen it at the beginning of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" when she twirls around, and throws her hat into the air, she's standing in front of the Crystal Court Atrium of the IDS Center. There is now a bronze statue of her throwing her hat into the air on the spot where she did it on the TV show
Since I now reside in the Midwest, it's next to impossible to see a Bills game on TV, so I settled back in with my horrible pulp novel.
Judging from the final score of the game, I guess I didn't miss much. I guess not being able to see yesterday's game saved my neighbors from hearing a LOT of profanity emanating from my apartment.
Good comes with bad, I guess.
NEXT: Baby It's COLD Outside