A Sailboat, Puppy and Hip

by Alan Stark on September 26, 2011

Most of us get to choose our lives. Some of us have been lucky enough to have had some wonderful choices. Some of us have had Sophie’s choices. But good or bad, sometimes what we choose all comes together at the same time.

It was late February with enough snow on the ground to last until next February. This fool calls me up and says, “I’m signing up for a week-long sailing course in July in the San Juan Islands; wanna take it with me?”

In the High Country, in February, anything about sailboats sounds good. So I signed up for the course and plunked down some money.

About that same time, Blue Eyes had an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon about her right hip. She used to be able to rip down anything on the mountain, but not any more. It was clear to both of us that she needed a new hip. The hip guy had on really nice custom shoes that probably cost more than my skis. He told her she wasn’t ready for a hip replacement and to come back in May for another exam. I figured that he was putting her off until he needed a new pair of custom shoes.

The following week, the breeder we had contacted in January said she would probably have puppies available in July.

You can see the perfect storm of choices coming, can’t you?

We talked about a weeklong sailing course, the arrival of a new pup and a hip operation all happening in a two-week period. Could we do it? Sure. Did I mention that I actually have a job and real work that needs to get done? Not that the work is of major importance to anyone but me, but the folks who pay me tend toward the grumpy side when the work doesn’t get done.

Yup, in May, the surgeon scheduled Blue Eyes for a new hip in late July and there it was. We couldn’t bail on the hip operation. But I could have bailed on the sailing course, and we could have postponed getting a pup until the next litter.

Nope.

The sailing course was terrific. Seven days of sailing a 45-foot Jeanneau with an instructor who quickly figured out our skill levels and taught everything from basic engine maintenance, to navigation, to the man-overboard-drill, to landing a 45-foot boat without damaging anything.

Willy the pup arrived when I was gone. He’s a curly black Portuguese Water Dog with a patch of white on his front. I got back, hugged Blue Eyes, played with my new pup, and, two days later, took my best friend to get a new pair of shoes for the surgeon.

It’s mid-August and the storm has subsided. I am scheming to buy a sailboat or at least rent a bare boat out of St. Somewhere next winter. There is this pup, which wants to crawl up in my lap and maybe help me type this piece on the laptop. Lacking that, he’s happy to gnaw on my running shoes. And Blue Eyes is walking without a limp for the first time in a year.

Have I learned anything for all this? Yup — the work was still there when I finally got back to the office. The grumpiness went away in a couple days. Oh, and when I finally have to get a new left knee, there will be no new pup in the same month.

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A passage is about movement, motion and traveling. I have a mantra that has kept me alive in the worst of times, both in the mountains, when everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and in my head, where my fear of impending doom can simply shut me down. It is just this: “Keep Moving … Keep Moving … Keep Moving.”

Alan Stark is a very slow trail runner, has a road bike with a number of miles on it and has led three sea-kayaking trips off Vancouver Island and usually returned with the same number of people he left with. He is a partner in Boulder Bookworks and shares a home with this blue-eyed person.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie B. September 26, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Love it Alan! Glad to hear “blue eyes” is limp free and if you are ever out of running shoes, bring Willy over to my house. He is a doll!

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bob t bagel September 26, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Mr Stark’s rambeling observations needs some help with a conclusion.
I would be happy to tell Mr Stark to conclude but,
Mr Stark how about asking Willy, blue eyes and Jeanneau to make some observations on you. Their conclusions would certainly have more “bite”

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Blue Eyes September 26, 2011 at 8:06 pm

There’s no limp but there is this wonky twitch that I’m working very hard to get rid of. It can play havoc on the lower back.

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apt September 26, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Glad to hear the moving parts are new, improved and working, and that the puppy isn’t gnawing on anything important. Best of all, it sounds like your relationship with blue eyes withstood the annual perfect storm…(whoops) was I supposed to reveal it happens annually, and usually involves boats, negotiations with her and rapidly moving water, and beverages?

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Yardman September 28, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Those of us who have followed your writing for some time will ask when common sense will kick in. Recalling the saying about old dogs and new tricks, I’m guessing that won’t be any time soon. Plus, perfect planning never seems to result in interesting writing.

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