Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I am a slave to technology. And, O.M.F.G.!

And... scene: We open on a rustic [No -- like, seriously rustic] log cabin, nestled amongst the pines on a Maine pond. A big stone chimney juts out of the rooftop, hinting at the grand hearth below. A screen porch overhangs the water, giving a panoramic view of [the tree branches that occlude] the water. Spiders [who escaped from the movie 8-LEGGED FREAKS] spin their webs under the eaves, angling for unwary mosquitos and deerflies and small children and moose. Eagles are flying. Songbirds are singing. Squirrels are haranguing everyone from their treetop perches. Bullfrogs are... um, bullfrogging.

Suddenly, the peaceful landscape is shattered by a blood-curdling scream: "I HAVE NO WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS!!!!!!!!"

So, yeah. That was my week-long vacation. In a cabin. In Washington County, Maine. With no TV (and y'all KNOW how I feel about THAT) and no internet. Then what is there to do in Washington County, Maine, you might ask? Nothing, that's what.

It took around 4 to 4 1/2 hours to get there -- once we stopped three times along the way to pick up things we had forgotten at the house; we were also following Route 1 and the bulk of the summer tourist influx, the bulk that wanted to putter along at 35 mph. Seriously, people, I know you're from Utah or some shit, but really, just how fascinating is a clump of trees? You see that long, skinny pedal on the right hand side? Please feel free to use it.

Once we arrived and started unpacking the cooler, I realized that I'd forgotten the chicken thighs for the dogs' breakfasts. Back out to the car and the GPS unit to locate the nearest grocery store. That would be the one 12 miles away in Eastport, thankyouverymuch.

Still, you gotta love the GPS unit. It can get you anywhere. Provided you don't mind going down narrow, winding dirt roads (and I use the term road very liberally here) to get there.

Which is just exactly what it sent us down on Monday in our attempt to see the Reversing Falls in Pembroke. I was pretty sure the Magellan had finally snapped and was sending us to our doom at the hands of some backwoods redneck pirates or something, when a red Caravan happened upon us. The van did NOT contain a serial killer or tragic inbred demonic clown firestarter (suck it, Stephen King), but a helpful gentleman who got us to where we wanted to be. Turns out there were very respectable paved roads we could have taken to get there if the GPS hadn't been intent on our demise.

On Tuesday, we went to tour the town of Lubec. After that five minutes was overwith... Unfortunately, that was the only day it rained, so there were no harbor seals sunning themselves on the rocks in the harbor. I went into a Yarn Store/Dog boutique (yeah, I don't know either) and discovered that the proprietor was an exhibitor of Bernese Mountain Dogs. Hey! I found one of my people! Lunch and then visits to two handmade chocolate stores. Bad for our figures, and bad for our checkbooks, but our tastebuds were very happy, hedonists that they are.

On Wednesday, we set out for the thriving Metropolis of Machias, Maine. Hey, don't laugh. After several days in the woods it SEEMED like a thriving metropolis. I mean, there was a McDonald's and everything!! That's cool, right? To which I must answer:


OMG WTF, Machias?!!!

First, there was the big hole in the middle of Route 1 that necessitated a flagger to direct traffic to the detour. This is not a tough job, right? Send them down one road, turn them away from another...? Yeah, not so much. We turned down a little side street to visit some shops (again: term... loosely...), only to be told by the flagger that we could not turn right (which was the direction of the big hole, so... duh). He also said that we could not turn left, we had to go back the way we came. So, he was at THAT end of the street why, exactly? We were, however, able to pull into a parking place and walk to the shops. Hit a thrift store and picked up a Nora Roberts book I hadn't read yet for $1, so yay!

Once we pulled out of there and went back up the street by the flagger again, we went through town to the grocery store to pick up a couple of things. Cue clueless, drifting fellow shoppers who walk in front of you and then stop in your path as they stare vacantly off into the distance. And the cashier who can't make change, despite the register that, um, makes change. "Here's your sign..."

THEN there was the little used book... well, it's in the guy's garage, so "store" doesn't really apply. But it looked pleasant and not axe murdery or anything, so we pulled in.

Oh. My. Effing. God.

"Hi welcome don't mind the laundry I can move it can I get you a glass of iced tea where are you from oh Warren do you know my cousin so-and-so she lives down the road past the bridge came here to visit her seven years ago and had to move to Maine I'm from Ohio ever been to Ohio hey I have all these Maine books books about Maine books by Maine authors the labels are all there but the books are all over I taught Special Ed in Ohio have you ever been to Ohio oh I sent a copy of that book to my church I'm Lutheran I have religion books here the floor is really sloping from the weight of these books..."

You get the drift. I don't think I have ever been so dangerously close to completely losing my filter altogether. I mean, dude! First of all, calm the eff down. Second of all, you don't get out much, or live with people, or talk to anyone anywhere except on the internet, do you? Third, we just told you we're from Maine. We don't give a shit where the Maine books are. Fourth, don't tell me how the book in my hand, which I'm planning on purchasing, ends. Fifth, no, I've never been to Ohio, as I told you five times. Sixth, I don't know everyone and every street in Warren. And seventh, calm the holy effing eff down! You are like a ferret crossed with a meerkat crossed with a Jack Russell Terrier who drank 27 red bulls and snorted an entire busload of coke.

I finally grabbed two books, threw some money at him, and got the hell out of Dodge, him trying to direct me in backing my car up the whole time. Jeebus H. Mother-loving tap-dancing Christ!

After that we decided no more "shops." Just Quizno's for lunch and back to the sticks. But wait!! There's not actually a Quizno's there anymore, they just left the big sign up and the letters on the building. Puttin' the "No' in Quizno's. Back into town, playing dodge the flagger, to a little restaurant. Which at least turned out to have good food. Even if the lobster tank we were sitting next to continued to make, uh, shall we say digestive noises all through our meal.

Wow, Machias. Just... wow.

We did end up coming home Thursday night instead of Friday like we had planned. I think I would have cried if we'd had to stay any longer.

I WILL say, though, that the fireplace was really, really nice, as was making s'mores and taking the dogs for walks and canoeing around and playing badminton and spending lots of one-on-one time with my long-suffering hubby.

But next vacation? I hope it's at a dog show.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Better Late than Never

Okay, so I'm a little late posting this, but I'm still excited about it. :-)

On Sunday, Magnum made his ring debut in Keene, NH, at the tender age of 6 months, 2 weeks. Ian was entered as well; I wasn't anticipating much of an entry and figured that way I'd create my own single point. As it turned out, we ended up with a 3-point major in dogs.

The trip over was about 4 hours. Picture if you will: a Scion xB with a 300 and a 400 size crate, 3 people, 3 dogs, ex-pen, grooming table, lunch coolers, grooming bag, 6 x 8 mat, hair dryer, and three chairs. Dude, I should totally be featured in one of their vehicle brochures. You really can cram a LOT of crap into an xB. The park has lots of shade, so I was able to park and set up grooming in the shade right outside the car. No carting items to a grooming tent. So I got set up and went to work.

Now, I had purchased an inverter for my car so that I could (theoretically) run the Air Force dryer, which makes froofing the dogs for the show ring a lot easier. I turned the car on, plugged in the dryer, and... Yeah, not so much. The inverter itself works, but the dryer apparently sucks up more electricity than the inverter can handle. So, no hair dryer. Rats. I did what grooming I could without one. Thank doG for the "Superman cape" I bought Ian at the National this year; it did a great job laying his curls down. Magnum is more wash and wear, so he was easier.

Once we went into the ring, Magnum did better on the table than I expected -- he accepted the judge looking at his teeth quite well, and only wiggled a little bit. He was a little sillier on the ground than I thought he'd be. (Not totally unheard of in the 6-9 puppy class.) I think we managed to get at least a few good steps in there for the judge to look at. He accepted the judge looking at his teeth quite well, and only wiggled a little. He was the only one in his class, so he got his automatic blue ribbon.

There was one other dog in the Open class with Ian. As I expected, he ended up in second place. There is one other set of shows in October that I will enter him in, and then he's off to the vet for the Big Snip, whether he's finished or not. Sorry, Ian. Oh well. At least I didn't have to hand someone off for Winners.

So into Winners I went with Magnum. Magnum focused on me despite the other dogs in the ring, and it was going well until I realized that the other dogs had gone around the ring while I was standing there focusing on getting my puppy to self-stack. Jeez. The judge very nicely had me take him around the ring rather than just booting my non-attention-paying arse to the end of the line. Magnum again had some of the puppy sillies going on, but the judge must have seen enough that he liked, because he awarded Magnum Winner's Dog for the major!!

Now, I really like my puppy and see lots of potential, but I honestly wasn't expecting him to win under that judge, especially once I had my monumental ADD moment. So, way to go, Little Blue Man!!! Right now you're batting 1.000!

Next set of shows for the Mag man is the 28th and 29th in Springfield. Fingers crossed that lightning will strike twice!