Well, it certainly has been a long time since you heard from me! I hope you've managed to stay amused in the interim. I'm afraid there is no exciting or dramatic explanation for my absence from the blogwaves since Sept. 20, other than the myriad petty demands of my self-centered existence. Plus, my son has been borrowing my laptop a lot. He says it's been for schoolwork. I hope I don't get a bill from Sweden, or some such. Or a call from the authorities.
Now all of a sudden, after my hiatus, I've got two things on my mind. However, I believe I can draw them together along one tenuous thematic thread.
Our senior dog, Lois, had a seizure the other night, about 10 pm. We'd never encountered anything like it before and were naturally quite alarmed. I got dressed as quickly as possible (yes, I was already going to bed), gathered Lois up while my son, Henry opened up the back of our sinful SUV and my wife, Gail, called Atascadero Pet Center to ascertain their readiness to treat Lois. Probably within 10 to 15 minutes of onset I was carrying her through the door of the Pet Center and laying her on an examining table.
The caring and competent tech who had escorted us to that point then called for Dr. Linnaea Stull, who was at the table moments later. Lois had stopped seizing soon after we got on the road, but she was laying stiffly on the table and her heart was beating rapidly. Dr. Stull assessed Lois's condition, asked us questions and answered our questions of her with assurance, professionalism and patience. We determined that Lois should be left for the night, at least, to be monitored and treated for any possible additional seizures.
My wife and Henry picked Lois up the following day and she seems fine. When I got home from work she was as thrilled as ever to greet her big dog alpha male and immediately asked for a butt rub. So we are presently calling the episode an anomaly and hoping for no more seizures.
This was not the first time we'd visited Atascadero Pet Center in an emergency. Our dear departed dog, Ed, once consumed a basket of very fine chocolates on Christmas day. Chocolate, gourmet or not, in case you weren't aware, is toxic to canines. The treatment is to induce vomiting. The emergency vet at Pet Center gave him the appropriate agent and Ed obligingly purged the contents of his stomach on the ride home in the back seat of my wife's new car.
So, I'm thinking, this is a good thing to have 24/365 emergency care for pets available in our town. When we first moved here the closest emergency service was in Arroyo Grande. So this is better.
Now, what makes it possible for Dr. Robert Schechter and his associates to offer this incredible service? In large part, it must be related to area growth. If they come, we will build it. Business, after all, is rarely conducted on metaphysical terms. Even if some entrepreneurial individual is motivated by conceptual faith it isn't likely that banks and suppliers will support the enterprise without demographic evidence that it stands to make a profit.
There is, then, an upside to growth.
Now, this Saturday was Colony Days in Atascadero, when we celebrate the founding of our City as the manifest vision of a tax-dodging publisher of women's magazines. In keeping with the "growth is good theme," it was bigger and better than ever, and staged in our newly renovated Sunken Gardens in front of the earthquake-vacated City Administration Building. Even though I share some of the concerns of the many who have questioned the value of this redux of the Gardens, I'd have to say they looked spectacular to this bumpkin's eyes. The entertainment was first rate in the big tent, and I especially liked Sugar Daddy Swing Kings, who featured my friend and guitar teacher Gary Drysdale as well as Michael Diaz, another friend, on bass and funky dancing. Since I'm mentioning people let me also commend my buddy Rick Munoz for his tortoise table, which was a real hit. The new layout of the park seemed to channel the energy of the event in a different, maybe even more intimate way.
The real hit of Colony Days these past several years has been the Tent City re-enactment. A lot of folks put in a lot of energy to put up a replica of what the first settlers of Atascadero Colony experienced. Local businesses support some of the tents and a troupe of players coordinated by Diane Greenaway dress in period costumes and act in period ways. The presentation has a lot of polish and really puts a shine on the whole Colony Days celebration.
Maybe all this finesse is attributable, at least partly, to the town's growth. I'd venture to think it's so. Still, amidst all the city slickness I was well reminded of small town values. I originally intended just to check out the Atascadero High School band in the parade because they're good and because my neighbor, Nate Welshons, is an integral part of the drum line. Unfortunately, I got way-laid, arrived about a half hour late and missed the band. But I happened to fall into a conversation over latte with my dental hygienist, Ana and her husband, Ken, who spoke about the contrast between the town and the parade these days and the town and parade back when they arrived in 1974. Back then, and even when I arrived in 1988, one would not need to wait for a parade to see horses traversing City streets. On the other hand, some of the parade entries were decidedly less put together than the ones nowadays.
After chatting with them for a while I spotted Don and Judy Nelson and got engaged talking about this and that, to include parents and local and national politics, amongst other things. Then, I decided to walk over to check out the new Sunken Gardens. I ran into Peter Gaw of the Atascadero Fire Department and spoke with him for a while about the new fire engines Atascadero just purchased, motorcycles and music. We've got a really good crew of local heroes, by the way.
On my way to find the port-a-potties (post latte) I saw Colonel Charles and Melissa Bourbeau and we exchanged child rearing updates and general chit chat. Whilst speaking with them I waved to Linda and Justin Euler and recognized Gary Drysdale checking out the bandstand for his upcoming gig. I stopped by Rick Munoz's tortoise display, checked out tent city and then went back to talk to Gary and Michael Diaz as they brought their instruments in for the Sugar Daddy Swing Kings performance. Also caught up with Dr. Karen Bowls, our dog Lois's long time veterinarian, now retired, and updated her on Lois's recent seizure scare. She suggested the same approach as we were advsied by the Pet Center would be appropriate, and I suggested she check out the tortoise table. Then, I thought I'd better address the plumbing problem at home I'd been intending to take care of, so I took off for a while.
But after I purchased the plumbing supplies I needed I decided to drop back in on the Sunken Gardens to see SDSK play. I parked my car right next to Barbie and Steve LaSalle, who were also taking a break from household chores to look in on events, and we had a nice talk on the way to the park. The band was fantastic and the setting was great. I have to compliment event coordinator and City Councilman Tom O'Malley for the nice arrangements all day, but especially the big tent with dance floor and bandstand. During the performance I waved a greeting to City Councilwoman Becky Pacas, who looked fantastic in her Tent City period dress.
So, I'm torn. The development we have seen has put a lot of class into our town and its events. But that has to be weighed against the increased traffic that precludes seeing horses on the main drag on an ordinary day, and against the potential loss or degradation of the kind of small town experience I had on Saturday. I didn't used to have to go to Colony Days to see the High School band because they practiced for the event by marching right by my house. Maybe they still do and I just missed them this year. Maybe we've had just enough development. Can we stop now?