There’s something about days like today- cold, heavily overcast, with torrential rain, that makes me wish I could stay home in bed. When I was working out this morning and had done my laps in the pool, I didn’t want to leave the hot tub. For a fleeting moment I thought about how nice it would be to say screw it all and just plain not do anything today- or do what I want to on my own time. Until I remembered all the crap I absolutely have to do today that can’t just be blown off, that is.
This picture reminds me of the times I spent wandering the railroad tracks that went past my grandparents’ house. Technically we kids were not supposed to go anywhere near the railroad tracks, as they were live and in use until they were pulled up some time in 1983 or so, but there were two irresistable lures that made the tracks worth the possibility of encountering an oncoming train, and/or being eaten alive by the local insect life. As far as oncoming trains, one could generally hear and see them in more than sufficient time to get clear. The bugs were another story. The ground around the tracks was swampy and there were plenty of sources of stagnant water for mosquitos to breed in. The open sewage creek that ran a few yards south down in the ditch alongside the tracks could be a source of foul odor in high summer, and it was positively rancid when the water levels in the creek got low and the wind blew in the wrong direction. There was a reason why Dad freaked out when he found us floating paper boats in the creek. We had already figured out we were floating our boats in an open air toilet when we saw the dookie floating in in the creek. Sometimes there was toilet paper and feminine hygiene items too. He didn’t have to warn us “not to touch the water.” Sometimes the dookie made it downstream faster than the boats.
Railroad spikes were worth fifty cents apiece to the right buyer, (if you could find one who didn’t ask questions as to how you got railroad spikes to begin with) which was a small fortune for a kid back then. There were bushels and bushels of black raspberries to be had (in season) and they were well within reach. Even so, while picking berries, one still had to be wary of both poison ivy and bugs.
Probably the one time I can remember getting a good thrashing from Dad instead of just having to deal with Mom breaking wooden paddles on my ill-fated fanny, was when my sister and I (not the sadistic one) decided to take a big gym bag down to the tracks and fill it up with spikes. Never mind she was six, I was five, and we were both small for our respective ages. We loaded this gym bag down until we could barely carry it with all the spikes in it. It was a good eighth of a mile from the tracks to our house, and in order to get to the house from the tracks we had to wander by the whole neighborhood lugging this thing.
Dad’s friends had spotted us, and he had gotten numerous phone calls before we were even close to getting home. Back then a kid couldn’t cut a popcorn fart without the whole neighborhood knowing about it. He was waiting to tan our hides the minute we dragged the spikes in the door.
Back in the day no one would hesitate to narc on other people’s kids, and there was no mollycoddling – or mercy- when it came time for the punishment. When punishment was administered, the neighbors didn’t hear a thing. If nothing was broken or bleeding and they couldn’t discern any flaming injuries when your parents were done with you, they figured justice had been served and that was the end of it.
The raspberries went when the railroad pulled up the tracks. It seems as if all the weeds and garbage have come back to over grow the track bed, but the last time I went wandering where the tracks used to be it was rather frightening even in broad daylight. I spotted plenty of trash, used syringes (not the ones used for insulin, either,) used condoms, had a near-death encounter with some redneck’s pit bull, and all sorts of nastiness, but no berry bushes.
I don’t like going to where my grandparents used to live. It’s creepy knowing there are strange people living in their house. It’s never been a particularly nice neighborhood (although when the tracks were pulled up, the city tiled over the sewage creek, which was a bit of an improvement) but it went from ‘po folks to dangerous folks.
I can’t fault anyone for having dogs, but when I bring Clara with me (partially because she likes to explore, and partially for protection) I don’t need someone’s pit bull coming at her as if it were going to tear out her throat. Clara is formidable (she’s half Malinois, after all) but if a pit bull really wanted to get aggressive with Clara it would be ugly, and it would break my heart to see either her or another dog injured unnecessarily. One of the most important tasks of a dog owner is to teach good socialization skills and appropriate behavior with other dogs. Protection breeds are more prone to dog-aggression than most, so I try to keep all my dogs’ encounters with other dogs as positive ones. Clara is particularly well mannered with other dogs and I want to keep her that way. Should she have a bad encounter with another dog, it would be harmful to her physical well-being as well as her mindset toward other dogs.
I don’t have a problem with pit bulls- or any other dog breed- when the dog is handled responsibly. A well trained and properly socialized pittie can be a fantastic, gentle, intelligent dog, but even an ankle biter can be dangerous if it’s ill-treated and improperly trained. A pit bull can be deadly in the wrong hands, just as a GSD, Malinois, Doberman, Rottie, and just about any other breed, etc. can be as well. No dog is born aggressive or dangerous. He / she has to be made that way.
Today I’m just trying to keep my mind off the rain and the funk and the dreariness.
Then I remember the damned basketball tournament is going to be all over TruTV, and I hope and pray I DVRd a whole lot of episodes of Top Gear and the bizarre 90’s cartoons I love so well. Mmm, three middle aged Brits playing with cars, Cow and Chicken and 2 Stupid Dogs. I guess that will have to be intellectual enough for me.