The Fourth 4th

Happy fourth 4th my Golden Kali!

When Kali arrived from Taiwan in 2014 she arrived with a brown scarf.  At the airport one of the volunteers that was assisting with her transition to our care took off the brown scarf and replaced it with a scarf with red, white, and blue markings that represented the American flag.   Kali was now an “American Girl”.

So beginning with that 2014 4th of July it became a tradition for Kali to don that same scarf and take a photo.  A photo that represents our collective patriotism but more importantly our thanks to the Taiwanese care givers who rescued Kali and sent her to America and to me.  Thank you Jade Lo and team.  Kali and I salute you and honor you for your the work you and your team do for so many dogs in need.

Happy fourth 4TH KALI!

Happy Birthday America from Golden Kali at The Golden K

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The Third 4th

Fourth of July has always been a favorite holiday.  While I recognize it’s significance for our country for me it’s really more about communities and traditions.   Parades, BBQ’s, flags and banners.  Long warm days that end with ice cream cones and fireworks.

Traditions.

Kali and I have a special tradition on Fourth of July.  This tradition involves a scarf that she received when she arrived from Taiwan a little over two years ago.  She and the other 23 dogs that traveled over 6,000 miles to meet their new families at  SFO arrived sporting light brown scarves.  Upon arriving at SFO rescue group volunteers replaced the brown scarves with red, white, and blue scarves that had stars, stripes and flags peppered throughout the design.  For me this was symbolic of Kali’s New Life In America and the changes that were to come for both her and I.  I still recall vividly the moment the scarf was put on her and how I felt at that moment. I wrote about this last year in a post called Tradition.

So again this Fourth Of July weekend I have pulled out this very special scarf and placed it around Kali’s neck.  She’ll wear it throughout the weekend and we’ll be reminded that inspite of many warts the USA is a country I’m blessed and proud to live in.  But mostly I’ll be reminded of the night Kali arrived in America and changed our lives forever.

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2015 Fourth Of July Portrait:  “She was an American Girl…”  – Tom Petty

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2016 Fourth of July. A little more casual up her at The Golden K

Just Another Day

Sing out the old, bring in the new.  Should auld acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne! Whatever…

Even as a young adult I never enjoyed New Years Eve.

I never liked the pressure and expectation I felt of having to stay up late and have fun “ringing” in the new year.  During the early years of our marriage our friends would urge us to come out for New Years and have fun.  We usually declined because we preferred to be home and in bed at our usual hour.   Later when our children were teenagers and young adults I grew to hate New Years because I worried that my kids were going to make a bad decision at the party they were at or would be on the road late at night with all the real and imagined dangers I laid awake worrying about.

Now my kids are grown, two of them married, and one still at home.   I worry less about them but always feel better waking up New Years Day knowing everyone is safe and we can now get past all this silliness of “New Years” and move on with life.  Yes, I know – what a Scrooge I am!

This year was a little unique in that one of my kids was on vacation in Paris with his wife.   So at 3:15 PM Pacific Time I text him and said “hey – I just realized it’s the new year in Paris. Happy new year”.  Jonathan replied (in his usual dry humor), “Indeed.  Happy New Year from the future…”  My other son was on a plane with his wife flying home to Illinois after spending the holidays in Southern California with her family.  Michael text me about 10:15 PM and said, “happy new year from the central time zone”.  They had made it home from O’Hare just in time for midnight – their first new years eve as a married couple.

My daughter was home and in bed by 10:00.   I knew she would have rather been somewhere else celebrating.  But not much was happening and she stayed in for the night sharing dinner with us and hitting the sack early.  I felt a little bad for her but inside I was happy that I could retire not having to worry about her getting home.

And then there is my Golden Kali for whom December 31 really is just another one the 364 and 1/4 days per year.

Except for the “boom-booms”.  The boom-booms began at midnight and lasted for about 30 minutes.

As expected, they spooked Kali and made her uneasy.  The firecrackers and other means of “ringing” in the new year make Kali very skittish.   She experienced the same thing this past July 4th.  After last night I know I’ll need to get something (hopefully something natural) that I can use to  proactively help her stay calm during periods of foolish (see, what a Scrooge I am!) celebration and also during the occasional thunderstorm (which will occur more regularly later this year but more on that in a future post).

Kali and I began our day like most others: rising relatively early, breakfast for Kali, coffee and the sports section for me, and so on from there.  I have to admit that as much as I dislike New Years Eve I have always really liked News Year Day.  Part of the reason is that New Years Eve is over with and the other part is that during the morning much of the neighborhood and town is asleep from to much ringing, singing, and auld lang syne-ing the night before.

Like almost every other morning, Kali and I walked along our creek trail out to the pond and back along the fairways of hole number four and five of the recently closed golf course.  It was just another morning except the world was just a little more quiet than usual because of the aforementioned sleeping singers, ringers, and syners.

So 2016 begins just as 2015 began and ended:  by waking up next to my bride of 33 years whom I remain desperatly in love with, by thinking about my kids spread around the globe that I am so proud of, and with a dog by my side waiting patiently for me to get up so that we can get on with our routine and enjoy this, which is just another day.

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Just another day at the pond…. (1/1/16)

 

 

Tradition

Kali arrived from Taiwan Saturday evening of Memorial Day Weekend, 2014.  At the airport In Taiwan volunteers had put scarfs  with Taiwanese characters on all the dogs as they prepared them for the long plane ride to America.  When I took Kali out of her travel crate she was sporting this handsome looking scarf from Taiwan.   I walked Kali around the parking lot at SFO and once she got her land legs back one of the volunteers took off the scarf from Taiwan and replaced it with a scarf bearing the American stars and stripes  This is the scarf that Kali wore home that night.   That gesture – the switching of the scarves –  served as a great symbol of Kali’s transition from Taiwan to America.  New sights, new smells, new symbols, and new care givers.

I took the scarf off of Kali the next day.  Holly had carried the scarf with the Taiwanese characters home in her purse the night before.  She tied both scarves to Kali’s crate, which by the way she never used because she never really needed it.  The crate was folded up and put in storage a few weeks after Kali arrived once we saw that Kali was able to find our her own safe and special places around the house. She had demonstrated to us very quickly how respectful she could be of the house.

Last year on the morning of the 4th of July I untied the stars and stripes scarf from her folded up crate and put it on Kali to wear for the day.  I did the same thing this year and you can see her regally sporting it in the picture below.

Besides routine I’m also a big fan of tradition.  Years ago I made a mix tape (remember those?) of songs that seemed Americana to me.  Some Country songs, some Rock, some Jazz; an electic mix of songs that reminded me of America for one reason or another.   I play it every fourth of July.  Now, after just two 4th of July holidays with Kali her stars and stripes scarf has quickly become part of my 4th of July tradition.  It made me feel so good to see her wear it last Saturday knowing what it stands for.

And what does it stand for? Yes, perhaps the obvious patriotic things associated with our red, white, and blue stars and stripes.  But with this tradition it stands more for Kali’s journey from Taiwan to America.  It’s gratifying to know there are people whom I’ve never met half way around the world who took Kali in, cared for her, and sent her to me, on a plane, with a scarf. And once she landed other volunteers made the symbolic gesture of changing the scarves out and sending her home with us as an American dog.

Traditions evolve and that mix tape I mentioned is actually now played digitally from my iPhone sent via bluetooth to speakers. Ahh, technology.   But the scarfs are and will remain fabric; both literally and figuratively.  Kali has memories and experiences from Taiwan I’ll never know or appreciate.  They’re as meaningful as the experiences she’s had in America and account for a large part of the fabric that makes her who’s she is.  In fact they’re probably more meaningful. Maybe the memories and instincts gained in Taiwan will fade as the years pass or maybe they’ll forever define who she is.  But make no mistake.  Kali has embraced America and all the blessings and privileges of being American (warts and all; and there are many).

Next year as the 4th of July holiday get’s close I’ll begin thinking about Kali’s scarf and my mix tape.  I’ll make a mental note about how many “4th’s” she’s been with us.  I’ll spruce up the yard for our BBQ and rationalize why it’s better to stay home than fighting the crowds at a community celebration.  I’ll take Kali for a walk sporting her scarf which will elicit smiles and compliments from those we pass along the way.   And at some point during the day I’ll sit with Kali and make a toast and give a nod of acknowledgment and thanks to the dedicated volunteers in Taiwan who made it possible for me to have a very special dog with a very special scarf.