Tuesday 26th September – Near Death Experience

I was the snoozy one this morning despite the fact that Dan had been up until past midnight watching a TV series with me asleep on his torso. The wine from last night had got me tipsy and it made me want to sleep in a little. With no hunger pains from my tummy there was no rush and we had no plans for the day.

We had the house to ourselves and when we went out to the kitchen we discovered a few post-it notes stuck to the bench. Debbie was at work for a ten hour shift and had asked if Dan could go and buy dog food which she’d run out of. After a light cereal for brekkie, we head out to the pet shop and got what we needed. Ruby, Lily and Cleo were all happy to see us when we returned and so the feeding ritual began with each canine spinning and circles and frothing at the mouth at the prospect of food.

After that was done, we decided we were on for a round of disc golf. Dan mentioned there was a course in Scottsdale with a shop nearby where we could pick up some second hand discs. This place had it made. There were racks upon racks of discs that the shop had retrieved from the course, mostly thanks to water obstacles that swallowed discs. After much deliberation, we walked out with three brightly coloured discs to fill out Dan’s collection.

We parked at the start of the course and enjoyed a cold beer before heading out onto the grass. There was a one-on-one lesson going on at the second tee that was laughable. The teacher hardly let his student touch the discs, let alone throw one. Alarmingly, the first hole went directly over water so I asked Dan to have my first throw for me. I wasn’t going to be responsible for the loss of one of his brand new discs. He obliged and set us both up for the putting.

At the second tee, we were under pressure as the teacher and student watched on as we threw. Of course I had a pretty terrible throw, but that didn’t matter much to me. As we played, Cleo roamed around the course free of restraint, sniffing this way and that and looking for things to chase. By the sixth hole, we were brainstorming handicap ideas since I was doing so badly. We ended up settling on me having two turns for each hole, picking the best result of each attempt to get my score. A couple of holes later, Dan also awarded me a free shot for every hole because I was getting alarmingly worse.

As I lined up for a putt on the seventh hole, Dan started shouting out to Cleo as I turned to see her bolting away from us, obviously after something. I dropped my disc to the ground and covered my mouth in shock. She was heading straight for the nearby road. Oblivious to Dan’s calls, she was looking through a tunnel at whatever it was she was chasing and we both knew she wasn’t going to stop. I started sprinting after her, calling out for her to stop as she bolted straight into a busy intersection. Thankfully cross traffic was stopped, but a guy turning right had to stop in the middle of the intersection for her. By the time I reached the lights, cross traffic had a green signal but I managed to get halfway across the intersection with the traffic being light. That’s as far as I could get though since there were cars coming the other way. I could see Cleo on the other side of the road near the corner of the intersection. She’d given up her chase and was now interested in coming back across. I shouted at her to stay but I might as well have been talking to a lamp post; she started walking out onto the road. I stepped in front of the oncoming traffic waving my arms to stop and thankfully, they understood. Both lanes stopped to let Cleo run back across the road near me. When she kept running across the opposite lanes, there was nothing coming so I ran with her until we got back onto the pavement and onto the grass. I grabbed her then and put my hands around her mouth, closing it shut and telling her she’d been a bad girl, but I’m not the disciplinary type. She’d get what was coming to her from Dan.

It had all happened so quickly, Dan was still walking towards us with the backpack as I carried Cleo over to him. When we joined, I plonked her down and let Dan deal with her. There was plenty of reprimanding, but my heart was racing. She’d almost been hit – TWICE! The look in Cleo’s eye was one of total oblivion. She knew she was in trouble, but neither of us were convinced that she had the slightest idea why. She went straight on the leash and we sat for a bit on the grass recovering from what had just happened. We both loved this bitch and couldn’t believe she could so easily have been gone if one of the driver’s hadn’t been paying attention.

After a good calm down session, we carried on where we left off. Dan said that my act of heroism earned me an even score and so we eliminated the four points I was behind Dan as we carried on. We waited for a serious-looking guy to go ahead of us then took our turn, Dan throwing first. On my second throw, I’d been ambitious and tried to use some power, but the disc went straight towards the pro guy standing at the next tee. I shouted heads and he saw the disc coming towards him. He deflected it and it went straight into the big lake behind him. It was only at the edge, but he very kindly got his trawler on the end of a rope and got it out for me. Such a nice guy!

At the next tee, the course went right next to the water so again I asked Dan to take my first shot for me. Maybe not the best idea because he threw it straight into the lake. He did manage however to have it land completely flat and so it stayed on top of the water.

I offered to retrieve it but he took charge, taking his shirt off then wading in. He had to cross pretty much the whole lake to get the orange disc but he managed to do it without falling over and threw it right back into my hand with a precision he didn’t have on his last throw.

Over the next few holes, I got better and better, beating Dan by one shot on most of the remaining holes. Granted I was still playing two discs per hole, but I told him the score before Cleo’s dash should remain. This meant that by the eighteenth hole I had to beat him by one to draw even. The tension was high and I had a great couple of throws to get me within putting distance of the basket. It was enough pressure to force an error from Dan and we ended the game tied. I already had a plan for a tie breaker so we went over to a basket in the shade for the putt-off.

We did rock-paper-scissors to decide who would go first. I won and elected him to take first round of putts. Standing a few meters away from the basket, he took five throws. When he got his first in, I became concerned but the rest of his throws were misses. Granted, they were all close, but all I had to do was get two putts in and I would win. Did I ever mention I’m competitive? First throw – miss. Second throw – miss. Third throw – another miss! Ok, now I was aiming to just get one in and force another putt-off. Fourth throw – in! At least now the pressure was off. In true hockey play-off style, it all came down to the last throw. Last and final putt – IN! I beat Dan at disc golf! Sure we hadn’t played to the association’s rules and there’d been a sprinting intermission into traffic halfway through, but I’d just won a game of disc golf!

Getting attacked by a hill of ants somewhere near the last basket, we retreated to the Cabana to make our next plan. We were hungry and it was happy hour so we decided the Tavern Grille would be the place to spend the rest of our afternoon. We head home first to drop Cleo off and since there was a meat pie in the fridge, decided that would serve as a great late lunch.

Just as we were walking into the kitchen, we were surprised by a visit from Alex, Emmi and Ava. Debbie had said they might drop in while she wasn’t there so that Emmi could say goodbye and so we all hung out in the kitchen. We made some chicken nuggets for Emmi and heated up our meat pie, chatting about what was going on in Alex’s life and what Emmi had learned at school. Once we were done eating, we did a bit of hide and seek which resulted in Emmi finding a photo album in the closet. She brought it out and we all sat around Dan on the couch as he flipped through the pages embarrassing himself and his brothers with photos of them when they were wrong. Disbelief was the notion shared by all of us at the sight of the whitest blonde hair that covered the heads of these boys that had grown up to look so different. When the album got put away, it was time for them to go. I gave Emmi her usual piggy back out to the car and we said our goodbyes. At one point she held my head tightly in her arms saying she wanted to keep me, but I just said we’d see each other some time soon. Big waves to Emmi and a hug with Alex and they were off.

We left to go to the pub then. I was on a high from my disc golf win I was thinking that maybe I could continue my streak and beat Dan at pool too? The bar was busy but as usual, the pool alcove was empty. I got us some quarters and a jug of beer to get us started. After our first round (which I lost), we were joined in the alcove by a few older men that played on the golf machine. They stayed out of our way mostly, but it was weird to have an audience. I lost the first here games badly, but neither of us were sick of it yet so we carried on and Dan lost the next three – all due to his mistakes – of course I could never actually win based on my own skill.

As I cleaned the table of balls after Dan prematurely sunk the 8, the men had left the golf machine and I was joined by a Dad and his 3-4 year old son who was very interested in the game. They cheered me on as I tried half a dozen times to sink the last ball on the table. As I waited for Dan to come back from the bathroom, the little boy had fun putting the white ball down the pockets and retrieving it from the bottom of the pool table. As we racked up for another game, the Dad asked if the boy would like to stay and watch, which he did. When he asked who he was going to cheer for, he enthusiastically pointed to me and said “red dress!” Cute. Pressure was really on now.

Dan broke and my fan club made me play quite well as I took to the table. I sunk ball after ball, with a huge cheer going up from the rear left corner of the table. Poor Dan was lucky to get a polite clap when he made a pocket. It came down to the eight ball and with my fans watching on, I went for a pocket, but instead of sinking the eight, the white ball disappeared. Bugger. My fan wasn’t too disappointed though, he was just happy to see a ball go into a pocket. We left my fan club to it then to roll the white ball around the table, finished our beer, got the tab and walked out into the warm night air.

As we drove home, the sky was lit up with beautiful pinks and oranges typical of Phoenix. Not bad for my last day here. Cleo was happy to see us when we got home and we went into Dan’s room for a shower. Maybe still a little upset from the day’s trauma, she settled herself onto the bed, thinking that the pillows were the best place for her to snuggle.

We played cards for a while on the bed until I was sleepy. As I lay on the bed, Dan reminded me that he’d turned the hot tub on when we came home so we could go out for a warm soak. I can’t imagine anything better he could have said to me. We donned our swimmers and sunk ourselves into the warm water.

Dan put on a playlist and we sat there admiring the view and talking. When Debbie came home, she asked us from the distance of the back door if we were wearing any clothes. When we assured her we were, she came over to join us. She told us about her day on a ten hour shift and we gave her all the non-gory details of Cleo’s dash. She told us what we’d already thought, that the only way to stop Cleo from a repeat of today’s incident was to use a shock collar that Debbie used with the Dobermans. Just as we were discussing this, we figured out that Cleo had jumped the back fence to get herself out, a pretty common occurrence. What a good time for some training.

We got out of the tub, retrieved Cleo and Debbie put the shock collar on. Inside, Dan and I nibbled on some gorgeous steak Peter had cooked while Debbie and Dan took turns training Cleo with some simple commands like “sit” and “down”. It looked like it was all a bit much for her but Debbie explained that she’d gone through solid months of training with Ruby and Lily and they were models of good behaviour. In the end, we gave it away letting Cleo have a rest. Once she knew it was over, she cowered between Debbie’s legs, considering her closeness to be a safe haven.

While all this had been happening, I’d picked up a crossword from the local paper and once Cleo was done getting attention, Debbie, Dan and I all stood around the kitchen bench and worked on it. Debbie got on Google for a couple of words, but we figured out quite a lot on our own. It was a nice way to just hang out and talk about the variety of things we didn’t know anything about.

When it was bed time, I had to say goodbye to Debbie since she was going to be off early in the morning. She gave me a great big hug and I held back my emotion as much as I could. Having only met this lady a few months ago, she’d made me feel so welcome in her home and I loved getting to know her.

I was slow to fall asleep that night, knowing it would be my last night sleeping next to Dan for a good while.

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