Sunday, August 24, 2008

Owl's Head

On Tuesday morning, Jeff and Dad went to Mitchell's field, an old Naval facility in Harpswell, and flew Jeff's RC planes. It was a great place for Jeff to fly, because he needs wide open spaces. There is a mile and a half path around the facility that leads right to a beautiful beach, so while they flew, I took the dogs for a walk. There was an overcast sky, and the forecast was for storms in the morning.

When we got back from Mitchell's field, it started raining, and Mom suggested we drive to Owl's Head, since the weather was not looking promising.

After a great lunch on the way, we went to the Owl's Head Transportation Musuem. There were planes, engines, cars, a few motorcycles and even a handful of bicycles. An auction was going to take place in a few days, so there was a lot of activity going on. Cars and even planes were being shuffled around. Jeff was in heaven. They even had the plane that Jeff got to fly on our 15th wedding anniversary - the Texan. We got to see them moving it out of the airplane hangar. It was a good way to spend a rainy day.

After the museum, we drove to Owl's Head lighthouse. It is an actual coast guard station. Imagine having that as your post. Talk about a cush job! Granted you have to deal with tourists everyday, but still.

Here is a slide show from Owl's head:



http://picasaweb.google.com/sjpblair/OwlSHead

maine 3

These photos were taken near Estes Lobster House in Harpswell, a restaurant that is currently for sale for about a million dollars. This year, we could buy triple lobster rolls there for about $20. Last year, the special was twin lobsters for $20, a much better deal. As you can see from the photos, there are not a lot of people around. Estes is not doing a booming business, and we were there on a Friday night.

It is a great piece of real estate.





http://picasaweb.google.com/sjpblair/Maine20083

Mom insisted I take that last photo of the lobster boats. I thought for sure that the setting sun would make the photo come out terrible, but I am glad I listened to her! I love the way that photo came out.

maine 2

Here are some photos from our walk around Pott's point which is a preserve at the very end of Harpswell peninsula. Jeff, the dogs, and I were all by ourselves on the preserve. It was very serene. The only noises we heard were birds, the sea, and the radios playing on the nearby lobster boats.

The last few photos are taken at the end of Bailey's Island, Lands End. There is a gift shop there, but also some stunning views, including two distant light houses. We were not alone at Lands End. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to share Maine.



http://picasaweb.google.com/sjpblair/Maine20082

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Home from Maine

We have returned safely home from the land of lobsters, fairy houses, rocky terrain, and blueberries. The weather was great. We had only one rainy day, which we spent driving to Owl's Head to visit a transportation museum, where Jeff got to see lots of historical airplanes. The weather cleared up enough for us to see Owl's Head lighthouse before driving back to Harpswell.

Below is a slide show of our first two full days in Harpswell. On Sunday, we went to Bailey's Island and walked to the Giant Steps, which is a natural rock formation. The views were spectacular.


On Monday, we did the cliff walk, which included the fairy house zones. Unfortunately, the memory card in our camera went corrupt, and most of our photos did not come out. We hiked up a 150 foot cliff, saw an amazing water view, sweated our asses off, posed for photos, ate some wild blueberries at the top, suffered without water, got lost, and have nothing to show for it! Luckily, we do have photos from the beginning of the walk and the end, just not the spectacular photos in between.



The dogs enjoyed being on the trail, and we let them off their leashes for most of the way. Oreo led the pack, while Misty trailed behind, making sure the herd was all together. We heard from another group that a dog had gone right over the cliff, so we made sure to put them back on their leashes as we got close to the top. Boy, was that a good tip to have! It was a big drop off!



I will post more photos later, we took hundreds! I still have some to download off the camera.



(double click to get to see larger photos- then click on slide show)

http://picasaweb.google.com/sjpblair/Maine2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

tree is down

Well, the tree is down. Our tree guy came yesterday. After a lot of yelling, relatively little chain saw noise, one big thud, and two hours the job was done.

The tree was in the corner of our property, basically landlocked amongst our two other neighbors' properties, right along the creek bed. I had no idea how anyone would get the tree down without damaging other trees, houses, sheds, playhouses or knocking down our fence.

My mom said, "Oh, they have all this new equipment now."

"Oh, we don't pay for people who have fancy equipment," I tell her.

No, we are cheap. We pay for the people who don't have equipment.

Jeff was having a hard time paying anyone to come do this job. Except for our lawn guy (Jeff's one luxury), Jeff hates to pay people to do anything he thinks he can do.

I knew Jeff was seriously contemplating chopping the tree down himself. I gave him the number of our tree guy, but he was reluctant to call. He said, "I think I could do it, if I roped it off, blah, blah, blah...."

So, I was surprised when the guy showed up to give us an estimate. When he gave me the price, I immediately said, "OK, do it." Thinking, I'd save us a trip to the ER.

A few days later, the tree guy shows up in shorts and a t-shirt with his son, a chain saw, and a truck.

I said, "Hi, have at it." I went back in the house, and tried to ignore what was going on outside.

There was a lot of yelling.

I looked outside, and saw a lot of branches covering my backyard. I saw they had moved my garden bench out of the way. How considerate. I went back to the crossword puzzle.

Then, I heard their truck backing out of the driveway. Are they done???

I peeked out the front window, and saw the young kid standing on the driveway, looking up in the sky in the direction of the tree. Then, I noticed a rope tied to the truck.

I realized they were using the truck as a winch to get the tree back into an upright position, so he could climb the tree and safely cut it down. How did they think to do that?

I went to the bedroom window to look at the tree. Indeed, it was back to its original stately, straight self. Then, I saw the tree guy don his tree climbing shoes, and he climbed that tree like it was level ground!

Chain saw is out....

Back to the sudoku.

Soon, I hear a knock at the door.

They're done.

I tell him, "I don't know how you do it."

I hand him the check and say thanks.

He says, "Thanks, it was a thrill."

This guy is nuts.

Jeff gets home from work, and is grumbling about how the tree guy's truck left gouges in our lawn. I start explaining how they had to use the truck to pull the tree back into the upright position. I expected Jeff to be surprised by this bit of information, and awed, like I was.

Jeff says, "That's what I was going to do, I can't believe I paid this guy money to do what I was planning to do."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

sunbathing

It is 4 PM, and not a drop of rain has fallen yet....I can't remember the last time that has happened.

The minute the sun was high enough for a strip of sunshine to reach the backyard, the dogs were out sunbathing. They must have been missing the sun too.

It was the perfect opportunity to try out Misty's new Chillybuddy coat, which reflects sunlight and lowers a dog's body temperature 30%.

I put it on Misty, and let her wear it for about 30 minutes while she lay napping in the sun. Then, I put my hand under the coat, and her fur was nice and cool, especially compared to the fur on top of her head (which was on fire).
Misty really suffers when it is hot. Usually on hot afternoons, she would be seeking the cool rocks, under the pine tree, or digging herself a hole in the dirt to lay in. This coat seemed to help keep her comfy, and allowed her to sunbathe. You can also wet the inner cotton layer for additional, evaporative cooling, which I will try on days when it is hotter.

I think she looks ready to join NASA!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I speak for the trees

We finally got a brief break from the rain this morning. I went out in the yard to clean up some of the aftermath from the hail storm yesterday. I was cleaning up sticks, when I noticed a tree didn't look quite the same. I looked up and then down. The ground under the tree didn't look the same. I realized the tree had been uprooted from the creek flowing faster and higher than usual. I ran to catch Jeff before he pulled out of the driveway.


"I think we have a problem," I tell him.

The problem with living amongst trees, is that every year, one or two has to come down.

For me, it is always heartbreaking. I hate to take down a tree.

Jeff hates what it does to our bank accounts. Tree removal isn't cheap.

I hate what it does for our landscape, the privacy we lose, and our diminished oxygen level.

Every time I hear I chain saw, I cringe. I look out the window, searching for the source.

Chain saws are common around here, almost every weekend, one neighbor has theirs powered up. Hacking away at some 100 year old branches. Making way for a new basketball hoop.

All I can hear is the Lorax in Dr. Seuss' book saying, "I speak for the trees! I speak for the Truffala trees...", over and over in my head. I feel like I am letting him down.

I know each time we take a tree down, another sapling will begin to flourish in its place, now that sunlight can reach the ground. Still, I feel like we are doing something wrong, even if the tree was dying or dead. It had been there longer than us. Was it something we or our neighbors did that caused it's demise?

I wonder if I am the only adult who continues to live her life based on lessons found in her childhood storybooks ~ thanks Dr. Seuss and Beatrix Potter.


Tree in the middle, behind the birdhouse (tree that is leaning) is the one that is uprooted. Yesterday, it was standing up nice and straight.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

peaceful day

Jeff and I took the dogs to the Tomhannock reservoir today. The reservoir is the source of a lot of public water supply (including ours if we decided to hook up to town water). Therefore, no boats or swimming is allowed. It is a very peaceful and quiet place. Jeff found us a sand bar to put our chairs on, which formed a point that jutted out into the reservoir. We tried to remember exactly where it was so we could find it again, and go back soon.

Besides a bird or two, we were all by ourselves. Even when you looked at the surrounding mountains, there were only a house or two visible.

The dogs enjoyed putting their feet in and lapping up the clean water.

Here is a slide show of our time there:


(double click to be redirected to picasa and then click on "slideshow" there for larger photos)

http://picasaweb.google.com/sjpblair/Tomhannock

a man and his dog

There's an older gentleman in my town who drives a Subaru wagon, with the back seats folded down to accommodate his Alaskan malamute. They go on errands together.

During the hot summer days, the man sets a fan up to keep the furry dog cool while she waits patiently for her master to return. After buying his groceries, the man always goes straight to the back window, and says, "Here sweetheart, have a cookie."

This exchange, always warms my heart. There clearly is a love affair going on between this man and dog.

One day, I pulled into the parking lot of my local pet store. The man and dog had also just arrived. The man was peeking in the back window, and saw that his "girl" had gotten sick.

"Ohhhh, poor baby," he says.

He immediately went to the front seat for a large bottle of water and poured her a bowl. She lapped it up gently. He helped her out of the car and brought the large dog into the store. I followed them inside.

He asked one of the store clerks if she could watch his dog while he cleaned up his car. He explained that the dog was on antibiotics and they upset her tummy. The girl agreed. The dog sat and waited patiently for her man to return. Allowing customers to pet her. She is a big, furry sweetheart.

I am in love with her, and the relationship she has with the man. I don't know if this man has other family members in his life, but this dog is definitely his primary companion in life. She is treated like a queen.

A few weeks later, I happened to turn on the local news. I see a car, a Subaru wagon, has driven into a local grocery store. Someone must have had a heart attack or stroke while driving. The driver was taken to the hospital. The dog, who was in the car at the time, was not injured. An image of an Alaskan malamute, being petted by a bystander, appears on the screen. I make the connection between the Subaru and the dog. I burst into tears.

That was over a year ago. I have been looking for the man and dog ever since. Hoping, wondering if the man was OK. Did he make it? Did he survive? Were the two ever reunited?

Today, I went to the pet store and thought I saw the man in the parking lot. I didn't get my hopes up. I thought I had seen him before, only to be disappointed.

This man had a leash, and was walking his dog under a tree. I got out of my car, and walked around so I could see what kind of dog was at the other end of the leash.......

It was the big, furry, 100 pound Alaskan malamute.

I wanted to run over and hug the two of them, but I held back. I just smiled, and breathed a big sigh of relief. They were OK. They were together. That was all I needed to see.

I went into the store, and they followed. I sensed the dog on my heel. I turned, squatted down to pet her, and whispered in her ear, "I am so glad you're with him." She wagged her tail. Then, I left them alone to go about their day. The store clerk came over to help them.

The man said, "Can you help me pick out some treats for her, she has allergies, you know....."

I can't wait to see them again.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

nature vs.nuture

Have you read about the woman who cloned her dog, into five genetically equivalent puppies? She is keeping 3, and giving 2 away.

Dog people can do some pretty outrageous things in the name of dog love. Me included. Some will remember that I lay on top of my precious Munchkin to prevent further injuries when he was being attacked by the evil german shepherd. That was a crazy, stupid thing for me to do.

I would do it again in a heart beat.

If you're a dog person, you understand.

So, I can understand why this woman would want to clone her dog.

I just hope she doesn't end up disappointed with the results.

If I had a "new" Munchkin brought into my life now, a brand new, fresh from the lab Munchie puppy, he may be genetically the same, but he wouldn't have the same soul.

I think dogs' "personalities" or souls develop as a result of life experiences and responses to their owners' personalities, in addition to their genetic make up. They, in essence, become a reflection of us, what we expose them to, and how we treat them.

I got Munchkin when I was a mere 23 years old. I have certainly changed since then. My lifestyle has changed. I no longer live in the city, near a little league field, where Munchkin and I would take our daily walk and be hounded by kids petting, tugging, and pulling at Munchkin, while he soaked in all the attention. I didn't know at the time that I was "socializing" him. He certainly wouldn't have those experiences as a puppy now, so I believe he would become a different adult dog.

Would a cloned Munchkin:

...wrap his body around my head at night?

...scratch his chin on the table?

...lick my fingers after I scratched him?

...bark at motorcycles?

...be scared of his own farts?

I hope the woman is happy with her new puppies. Who doesn't love a puppy? I'm sure it will be fascinating to see what similarities do develop. For me, I think it is better to just let their memories live on in your heart. DNA does not make a dog, a soul does, and that cannot be found in any lab.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

a doggie adventure

The dogs and I went on a little adventure today to an event called "Dog Dayz". It was being held at a farm that has both an indoor and outdoor agility course. My vet's agility trainer teaches some of her agility classes there, and I have been wanting to check the place out. This seemed like the perfect opportunity. It was essentially an "open house" fundraiser for a border collie rescue organization. There would be agility, herding, fly ball, and other demonstrations going on, and "well behaved" dogs on 6 foot leashes were welcome.

I looked at the directions on mapquest, and saw that it looked like a straight line from our house, almost to the Massachusetts border. I didn't print the directions out. I would just rely on Marcia - our GPS.

I piled the dogs in the car. Oreo was very excited. He sat in his favorite, co-pilot position, with his paws resting on the center console the whole time. It is so nice to travel with him now that he doesn't get car sick.

Marcia did not seem to want to travel in a straight line to the border. We were turning left and right and left and right. I had been down these roads before though, so I figured she knew a short cut.

Soon, the signs of human life and houses got further and further apart. There were signs for peacock crossings. Then, I was on a dirt road. For 4 miles. That is a long time to travel at about 10-15 mph. My "time of arrival" went from 9:43 to 9:48 to 9:50 to 9:58......Then, I lost the satellite. Marcia left me all by myself. No cars, no trucks, no bikers, nothing, but me, the dogs and the woods. There weren't even telephone poles on this road.

Boy, was this turning into an adventure all right.

We were actually in a state park. It was beautiful. The road ran right along a creek. I'm sure the dogs would have loved to get out, and take a lovely hike through the woods. But, I wanted to see some border collies jumping through hoops!

Eventually, the dirt turned to asphalt and Marcia said, "arriving at destination". Thanks for nothing Marcia.

My dogs turned out to be the most well behaved dogs there (at least in my opinion). They sniffed the other dogs politely, did not raise their voices, sat when asked, accepted treats gently, and did not lunge at ducks or other dogs. I got a lot of , "wow, they are gorgeous", "what good looking dogs" and "you must take good care of them". Yep. They're fabulous.

I am trying to get Oreo out to events like this, so if we ever do decide to compete in agility he will be able to focus on me, and be less prone to all the distractions. This was a good first step.

We got some free samples and a $5 coupon for some of our favorite (and very pricey) dog treats. That made it worth the trip. Oreo seemed quite interested in the dogs doing agility, and was actually watching the border collies herding the ducks. Hmmmmm. Maybe we should get him some ducks.....

After watching the herding demonstration, the skies started getting really dark, so I decided to skip the "free lunch included" and head home. Not wanting to risk getting stuck in a muddy dirt road with no cell phone service.

I asked a man from the farm which way I should turn, so I would hit a major road, that had actual pavement. I followed the man's simple instructions, and easily found myself taking a right, another right, and was headed straight home. It was that easy. Damn GPS.

Note to self: print out directions, follow them, then hear Marcia say "recalculating".

(Brought my camera with me to photograph all the gorgeous border collies, but of course the battery died so I have no photos. It was that kind of day. At least we did miss the down pour. We were half way home before the torrential down pour started.)

Friday, August 1, 2008

downhill from here

It is August. It is all downhill from here. Back to school sales will be bombarding the papers and television.
Depressing. Where does the summer go?


However, the garden is gorgeous this time of year. Black eyed susans are one of the most cheerful flowers on the planet. They almost appear to be smiling.
Oreo and I have been doing a lot of agility work lately. I have been trying to work him on my left side. It has always been difficult for me to do anything with my left hand. When I did gymnastics years and years ago, I could cartwheel on my left side, but everything else had to be done on my right. Aerial cartwheels (cartwheels with no hands) I had to do on my right side. Go figure. So, doing agility with Oreo on my left really involves a lot of brain activity, something I tend to lose during a month off from work.

Oreo is getting really good at sequencing through the obstacles and going fast. He goes so fast over the teeter that sometimes, he falls right off. I have to slow him down so he doesn't hurt himself. Oreo loves that teeter so much that he loses all self control. I need to work on that. It is the only obstacle, other than the tunnels, that I catch him "practicing" on his own.

I will be savoring these last few weeks of freedom, and giving the dogs lots of time to do what they love best.

Hanging out in the yard.....

....keeping an eye on the neighbors....

....taking in all the fabulous outdoor aromas....


....and making your own little nest in the dirt.