Harmony

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Bright blue, blinding cotton-candy skies shifted above me, demanding sunglasses.  A light, cooling breeze drifted across my forehead as I navigated a Kevlar clad canoe around the rocky outcrops and pebble beaches of the Michigamme Reservoir on an eighty degree June day. 

 

 

 

 

It was a day when the sun’s rays beat the waves into submission and they penetrated my bare shoulders until my skin emitted a summer, smoky smell.

 

 

Way up in a solar glare, birds with wing spans of four feet soared this way and that on the breeze; hang-gliders!  Deer, driven out of their grassy beds by mosquitoes, stood in the open, at the water’s edge, quenching parched throats with long, protracted sucks as though through straws.  Bees buzzed in the wildflowers and jumping frogs escaped from shore.

Harmony.  The swift, silent canoe blended into nature’s scene and through its silent glide, it afforded me the opportunity to observe nature undisturbed.

It lifted my soul as we (my faithful dog, Remi, and I) paddled from island to island one glorious afternoon last year.

 We began the trip together in the canoe.  

She sitting forward and not a jiggle.  I paddled.  On this day, though, it occurred to me to experiment with the dog by pulling up to a beach, off loading her, and then resuming my paddling to see what her reaction would be.

Harmony.  As I maintained a distance of about ten feet from the shoreline, she continued to run along with me, happy as a clam. 

 

We were both confident in this new endeavor and the resulting partnership was fun. She proved herself a true athlete, climbing cliffs and swimming in bigger water, next to the canoe, when we had to get to another island.  I marveled at her busy feet, stroking to an internal count, underwater. Her gait was steady, confident, and strong.

We traveled in silence, each under our own power.  We were a team.  We were on an adventure.  We learned to trust.

Harmony.  A very special day for both Remi and me.

 

Locked and Loaded

!!a!

 

I’m pretty excited about THIS so I’m using lots of capital letters.

The iCPooch is REVOLUTIONARY.  This INTERACTIVE care device was invented by a 13 year old girl who had a dog that suffered from separation anxiety.  AND IT WORKS.  You can feed and talk to your dog when you are away.

Lock and load some treats in one of the four little trays that slide down a hopper.  Mine doesn’t stay clean long…usually there are bacon crumbles or cracker bits laying on the bottom.   Sync the feeder to your phone using the app.  (It was so easy even a 54 year old could do it.)

Now leave the room or leave the house or leave the state or leave the country.  When the spirit moves you, open the app to send a signal to DROP A TREAT!  There is a mechanical sound when the chute pops open and it took my dog 1.5 times to memorize it.   Works better than hearing aids.  She might not move when I call her from the next room, but let that chute sound off and BOOM.

Now here’s the best part…if you have a tablet laying around, you can opt to attach it to the front of the feeder to talk to your dog and see your dog on FaceTime.  SERIOUSLY.  YOU CAN CALL YOUR DOG ON THE PHONE.  Have her do tricks for you, too, sometimes, before releasing the treat.  I feel like I’m living in the future, in a Jetson’s cartoon.

iCPooch is fun for both of us and if you have a spare buck fifty laying around, get one.  It works on cats, too.  But I don’t like cats.  Not yet, anyway.  Everyone says I will when I get old.   I’m all about that pup, ’bout that pup, ’bout that pup…no kitties.

Here’s the website:

http://www.icpooch.com/

 

Riding the Rails

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I discovered the joy of riding the rails last summer in Alaska, truly the last frontier.  The last train I had ridden on was a commuter in Chicago that hustled me from preppy Elmhurst to the skyline of the Magnificent Mile, reuniting me with my steno pad as I spent another work day, single in the city, transcribing shorthand as an executive legal secretary–only a buzz away by Intercom–in my heels and fitted skirt.

 

In Alaska, instead of clothes flapping on lines strung across every back porch from here to there and seeing blurred humanity whizzing by at 50 mph, I saw purple mountain’s majesty and crystal pure ponds with a hues that stole my heart, one click-clack at a time.

 

The Alaskan Railroad passes through the wilderness, where all roads end and moose begin.  Whistle stops happen:   homesteaders stand at any point along the track and flag the train to a halt.  These pioneers clutch babies and bundles as they hop a ride to town for supplies.  Sometimes they have to strike a camp along the rail, waiting for the next train.  It could be days.

 

My favorite part of the trip was discovering the “in between.”

To get from one train car to another, you exit the first on a bridged walkway,  over the massive linking sections, to the next.   It is a pause from here to there on the way from “saw that” to “what’s next.”   There are half walls to keep rubbernecks from spilling out.  There is no glass or wind protection above these walls, so sticking one’s head out is mandatory (if you are me!)

 

Some destinations on our trip required a five hour train ride.  My mom and I enjoyed the perks of white glove dining in the dining car, the splendor in the glass dome observation car, and we sank, with smiles, in the reclining seats in the passenger cars.  Among the creature comforts were big tables for snacks or card games and little bistros where a mug of hot chocolate went a long way.

Me?  I spent the whole time, hogging up my spot on the open rail, in the “in between.”

 

 

Conehead, the Barbarian

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Zipping through open fields on a frosty winter morning, hunting Birdies in Michigan, is all fun and games until someone ends up sporting a cone. 

Miss Priss had been working those ditch rows for pheasants, racing for hours with the grace and agility of a pronghorn antelope–or maybe it was like the “seven lords a leaping,” ~you decide.

At times, she was only wild ears flopping and rapid-fire recon eyes with a heart that wouldn’t quit.  The switchgrass is so tall; she was essentially running blind and bursting up through it.  She made course corrections this way.  You don’t have to teach a dog to hunt, you have to teach a dog to listen and to obey.

All day, she cut right or left to the whistle and aligned herself with the shotgun and the man that would ultimately produce her prize.  Teamwork.  After a couple of productive hours, our son, Adam,  had six birds in the bag. 

 Good dog, good day. 

 Then there was the blood.  On the floor.  That night.   Diagnosis:  a torn front foot pad. 

We put a little bootie on her foot and added a blow up donut ring around her neck for “insurance.”  Everyone went to bed.  In the morning, the bootie was gone.  She ate it.

Next up, the cage muzzle.  We didn’t have one so I ran to two pet stores to find the best fit. This way, I thought, she could get around easily, heal up, and it would prevent  her licking the paw to death me from having bruised shins and calves (if we had to go nuclear with a cone).  I tied extra straps to it for “insurance” and confidently went to work.  I am an overachiever, after all.

When I came home, she was at the door with an angel face–but the devil is in the details:  she was dragging all the yarn, five miles of medical tape, and the muzzle from her collar.  The foot was inflamed,  raw meat was hanging off of it, and she crapped a blue bootie, too.   Next stop, the vet’s office.

Yes, Remi,

my industrious

German Shorthaired Pointer,

my liebling gummibärchen,

you have earned that cone of shame.

 

 

 

Die Another Day

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Star trek and Star Wars junkies, Elvis fanatics, and die hard Nascar fans move over.  I am missing my Bond, James Bond, my one and only Bond:  Sean Connery.   I am missing the campy movie titles that miraculously passed 1960′s sensorship:  Goldfinger, The Man With the Golden Gun, Moonraker (backdoor Bond), and the legendary Octopussy.  Sean Connery’s Bond was THE 1960′s ladies man –with a twinkle.

Bond movies are famous for their music and double entendre titles coupled with adventure, action, and the debut of a new Bond girl.  The women have gotten “hotter” over the decades, but  the titles like Skyfall, License to Kill, and Live Another Day are tame–like the other Bond men.  Sean Connery is the only one that stirs my martini.  Since I must, I will make an exception for Daniel Craig; he almost takes me to my happy place.

 

 

 

Pussy Galore

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Six days of searching for any big cat sign, hunting in the wilderness five hours east of Vancouver, in Canada,  yielded little more than some minor chaffing and disappointment.  My husband was smelling ripe after wearing the same clothes ever since his outpost cabin burned down.  Admittedly, he was jinxed getting a lynx.

On the last day of the hunt, in the last hour, he heard a big Tom screech.  His mind’s eye flickered with a flashback to the old Mercury car commercials….it was the throaty growl of a confident cougar!  High stepping in stealth mode, John stalked it.  When he was within 50 yards, he realized that this old boy was about to mount a female.  Two cougars!

He turned off the safety, gingerly raised the barrel, took aim through the scope, and expertly blew that big Tom right off of the back of his woman.  185 lbs. of muscle and mean collapsed and fell to the ground.  He thought about letting the cat have his fun first, but he thought, “Oh, this cat is screwed already.”  With daylight fading, he really had no choice but to pull the trigger.  BOOM.   John gutted it and flanked the hide over his shoulders for the walk out.

The next morning, he transferred his trophy from the outfitter’s truck to the roof of a rented Alero and headed for the border.  There was six inches of fresh snow on the road and a blowing arctic wind swirled mercilessly with whiteouts; visibility was less than 20 feet and it was pitch-black-out-early.  No moon.  He had lots of luck on this trip, but it was mostly bad.

Now it is one thing to travel internationally with a rifle, a load of bullets, and some raw meat and quite another to do the same without identification, luggage, or money and projecting an aroma much like Pig-Pen’s from the Peanuts Comic Strip.   The fire had reduced all of his worldly possessions to ash.  He had no real shelter, no water, and no  civilization for a week. There were tracks as wide as I-75 in his under britches and his socks smelled of something that died a long time ago.  He was technically destitute in a foreign country and had to prove  he was a U.S. Citizen to the Consulate in Vancouver by knowing the full names, dates of birth, and cities of birth of both of his parents and his wife.  Successful, he was then photographed in his filthy clothing and his sprouting, grey beard.  New Passport in hand, he had what he needed to claim a seat on the next flight home.  I was thankful not to be anywhere on that airplane.

With his usual luck, the next best flight home hopscotched across the country in every direction with three big layovers and four connections lasting two days.  He landed in hot climates wearing his only shirt, a heavy woolen one, which caused beads of sweat to fester between his shoulder blades and roll down into his butt crack.  He soldiered on in his wet pants and heavy boots, arriving in Detroit 20 hours later.  I saw a lady being wheeled out with an oxygen mask and wondered, “Coincidence?”

 

 

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