Friday, May 28, 2010

Feed and water daily...

This is THE year for my hostas at home. Three years of steadily growing tiny two-leaved plants have resulted in a harvest of hosta plants on steroids filling my front yard to the brim with greeness. My pride runneth over. Secure in the fact that I could grow a few plants, I have escalated my prowess to animals.

Victor Hugo (the cat, not the author) is a staple in my house. In a room of 150 cats at the local shelter, I came to know Victor and the past three years have been an easy, breezy walk in the sun. Victor's activities include long naps, eating, taking even longer naps and making biscuits on my stomach (kneading activity done with his paws while purring vivaciously). Thus, people come over and marvel over my plus size, over friendly, easily amused cat. He is void of the "normal" cat behaviors such as hissing, urinating on favorite furniture, and generally despising the world. This makes him a fun attraction at my home like a carnival ride. Seeing that I enjoy challenges...I am once again adding another complexity to the rearing mix.

First note....Buddy is not MY dog. My boyfriend has longed for a dog for sometime. Since the first night we met, I have heard about a golden retriever he helped raise into his senior years. Leave it to me with one afternoon of googling, plotting, planning to find "Buddy", a spry 2-year old golden retriever bursting at the seams with energy. Buddy is being housed in middle Indiana surrounded by Amish farms, small towns, and a collection of rusted out American autos. This past week we drove 1.5 hours (yes, hours) to visit Buddy. I had every finger and toe crossed that the union of he and the boyfriend would be a happy one. Thankfully within seconds of meeting Buddy, we found him upside down smiling up begging for belly rubs. (Whew).

Two VERY happy boys...

Tonight he comes home...and he will be a wealthy dog because he will have 2 homes for living comfort. He will live with the boyfriend the majority of the time and visit his "relation-not-yet-decided" feline sibilng. My duties as an “alternate rearer” will include walks, park strolling, running, playing, and coordinating social events for him including play dates and dog parks. I am pretty sure he will request I do his Facebook updates since he lacks thumbs.

I would be amiss if I told you that we also want to train him on the trails. The boyfriend has wanted a trail dog for sometime and this dog has the spunk for it. This will require some work and dedication but I am certain that if I can grow hostas from a single celled life form, convert a cat into a social being similar to Frank Sinatra, multi-task a household with laundry, cooking and decorating, take care of a relationship, I can work with Buddy and welcome him into the fold of successes.

Now, children may be a whole different story...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The comedy of errors known as vacation...

Early in the throws of winter, I attempted a weekend away to the North American Handmade Bike Show. This trip resulted in $1,349 worth of work on a car, many exhausted hours in an overpirced hotel lobby and true hatred for Virginia or West Virginia. In fact, recent conversations have concluded that me and my signifigant other DO NOT think of those areas as states anymore due to the enclave of negative memories. Like he said, "Virginia is for f&*kers!" (he was angry when he said it).

You can imagine that there was some hesitation, nerves and even jitters about this next trip. A longer drive with a fully loaded car of bikes, bike parts, clothes, lotions, creams, and snacks all eventually headed to Brevard North Carolina. The long weekend agenda included nothing but bike riding, hiking, nestling in oversized chairs, and truly relaxing. Attempting to relax when you think your car may blow a vital part is extremely difficult but as the miles wore on, we seemed to settle into a rythum with myself as the navigator and the boyfriend as the wild Indy-car driver.

Suprisingly, the drive was without hazard other than a missed exit and squealing tires to reach said exit. The oversized rig that was cut off behind us did not even apply his horn but that might have been because his nerves filled his seat and he was too distracted to press on the wheel. Besides, we were FULLY aware of our mistake! We attempted a wave when we stopped sweating. The trip was divided into a brief overnight stay in Knoxville, Tennessee which is landscaped with churches, firework shops, and fast food stops. Before settling in for the evening, we treated ourselves to some spa treatments working our the knots in our muscles and minds. The night was spent in a cozy, quaint and off the beaten path bed and breakfast overlooking the French Broad River. The quiet and tranquility felt wonderful and being able to sit in a swing watching the sunset definitely defined vacation.

By Thursday, we were on the road to roll into Brevard and a cabin with 7 other adults (by age only) all ready for an epic weekend of riding and hiking. This weekend did not disapoint in the area of being EPIC. First, the boys on a wild race pace mountain bike ride neglected to account for one of our crew...a taller than average guy with a super calm personality. Our shaken nerves were hampered with an enormous rain storm  and a winding two lane road with drop offs longer than a skyscraper. As we drove (and walked) up and down the busy road hoping to find him, we only found frustration with the lack of cell phone service and relaxed sense of urgency among the locals who told us they had not seen a tall guy in a bright jacket ride by (WELL! DID YOU LOOK?!). Finally as the rain tapered, there, riding up the road was our lost bunkmate surfacing unscathed and calm as a bug in a rug. Cheers, high fives, and even tears met him at the cabin followed by a lecture from a distraught, angry, and now relieved wife (STAY TOGETHER ON THE TRAILS PLEASE!!!).

On the next day with the weather cleared, it was the girls turn to ride the mountains and we did. After carefully plotting our route and detailing our description in the event the rangers needed to be called for a search party, we left the cabin towards DuPont National Forest. The onset of the ride was some of the most picturesque hills and scenery I have ever laid eyes on. We dreaded the last 10 or so miles due to the fact that the ONLY way to return to our cabin was to ascent a 12-mile stretch of road known as 276 or Geer Highway. The road is a two lane, narrow, curvy, hilly invention that serves as the only throughfare through the area. There are no short cuts but we were ready for the challenge. I was overly thankful for the "granny gear" I had, although it was slightly different from my old cassette. My embarrassment of riding in the granny gear diminished when I knew the other rider was also feeling the hills. My accomplishment was nearly reached until my encounter with a Subaru Forrester.

On a tight turn approaching a "slow car turnout", I became aware of two old ladies crawling up the hill in their car. When clear, I waved them on from their crawling pace but quickly realized they were not going to pass me. In a second attempt, I waved them on but still did not hear the accerlation of their engine. As I approached the next curve, I planned to stop and make them pass but when I turned my head back to the left to secure my point, I realized not only were they NOT going to pass...they were NOT going to avoid me and their mirror smacked my kidney. In the best efforts to compose myself, I straightened my wheel and prepared to turn into their car as we were approaching one of those dangerous guard rails. Then, they passed...slowed (I thought they were going to stop to check on me)...and sped off. It was then, I sprang off the bike. My helmet came off and I immediately dismounted mid-hill. We had the last 5 miles to go...but my nerves had bonked. Thankfully my ride partner retrieved the car and we returned home, safely.

I later learned that the boyfriend, who had gone out on his own EPIC ride, also found the mountains to be challenging heaps of rock and had to battle acid reflux, awkward cross bike gearing (rear cassette needed more gears), and muscle cramps which sporadically occured throughout the ride, mostly on the uphills (nothing like an added challenge). His hydration choice of a beer was probably not the PRO choice but he also refused any rides from people. Lessons learned.

You might think with a lost husband, a clipped cyclist, and a bonked roadie, we would call this weekend a bust. Instead, we celebrated with a 6-mile hike to an amazing bald rock face known as John Rock. The female only hike included a confused left turn which lead to an uphill, stair studded climb marred with moss, waterfalls, and hemlock. The climb was well worth the woes and sweat soaked clothing. The summit opened up to a rock ledge overlooking a hatchery and Looking Glass rock. It was an instant distraction from a clipped cyclist, a lost mountain biker, over energized husbands, cramping boyfriends, and too hot to sample coffee or tea. The reward after a quick 30-minute downward hike was Dolly's Dairy Barn which is overloaded with democracy. Literally hundreds of flavors caused quite the confusion for decision challenged, starving women craving carbs.

That evening, our last by the roaring fireplace (it was 75 degrees outside) made for a quiet night of couch cuddling, leg rubbing, and the realization that we had to return to our real lives the next day. All of the excitement...all of the adventures folded back into our minds and made for good conversation on the way home (which we did in record time thanks to me understanding that I own a "race wagon"). Until next year...