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It was cold today – yes, apparently I am talking about the weather – but my hot flashes make the cold tolerable, though my floor felt like ice this morning. The hot flash phase of a woman’s life would be a perfect time to visit an ice hotel, though I fear I would melt anything I touch. And I don’t think MKL is too keen on accompanying me.
Today’s photo is in honor of Dutch, whose story is to be found here:
Dutch loves pink. And even though he’s not mine, I love Dutch. He has survived (so far) where my Tug did not. Please send him prayers and healing juju.
Topsail Beach, North Carolina.
Quote of the Day: “I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” – Audrey Hepburn
The writer’s group I attended this evening
Novels that make me talk back to them
Kelsea and I went to Pugs in the Park in City Park (Denver) today. Hundreds of pugs, a costume contest, and if I didn’t know better, I’d have thought that Amanda of The Daily Puglet was there shooting with Nikon. (But I think she’s on the right coast.) This not-so-little guy was dressed as “a pirate, but he didn’t like his hat very much.
Quote of the day: “Wrinkles should only indicate where smiles have been.” – Mark Twain
Time with Kelsea
Drives with MKL
I’m not whining, but I do want to share.
Roscoe’s injury has hit me hard. Not as hard as it has hit him, obviously, since he’s the one who had a nine-inch stick in his body cavity for a week and almost died, not me. But in an emotional way, hard.
I’m at the vet now, sitting on the bed that he’s become attached to here, typing this. He has his upper body curled against my leg, and is sleeping peacefully, breathing normally for the first time that I’ve seen since the injury. He was dreaming a bit, his paws twitching like dogs do when they’re chasing something in their sleep, and he just gave a big contented sigh. Nothing is waking him – not my sneezes, not the barking dogs in the treatment room, or the voices of the staff. He’s peaceful. I cuddled him and sang him all the lullabies I used to sing to Kelsea when she was a baby.
He still has the pump in his side. They upped his antibiotic dosage, and so the incision sites are cooler, and he is much more alert. The shaved spot is the size of many other dogs, so he may have to wear a t-shirt when he gets home, which I always think looks adorable on dogs. But he’s still not eating and not drinking. He did covertly eat the food I brought yesterday sometime in the middle of the night, so I brought some more for him today. They gave him two liters of electrolyte IV solution earlier to help him keep hydrated and his body just soaked it up like a sponge.
I don’t even want to imagine what the bill will be. I don’t care. I can’t really afford it anyway. But you do what you’ve got to do. The vet – Arapahoe Animal Hospital in Boulder – has been fabulous. All the doctors and all the techs here know Roscoe now and love him. They want him to live here with them and be their vet pet. (Sorry guys, we got him first.) It reminds me of when Kelsea was first born. That first night, they took her away and told me they’d bring her back for me to nurse her. I woke up seven hours later with no baby and no one answering the bell. I wondered if something had happened and I was the last person alive. So I hobbled out to the nurse’s station, and said, “Um, excuse me, do you know where my daughter is?” “Oh, Kelsea?” they said, “She was so sweet that we just decided to keep her here with us at the nurse’s station.” Sweetness must run in the family.
So, Roscoe is getting better and is going to be okay. And that’s all the news that really matters.
But now we come to me. Yes, wussy me. I am so exhausted energetically from caring from him from a distance, emotionally from worrying about him, and physically from not sleeping well at my ex-husband’s house while I care for the other animals that I can hardly tell which way is up. Sitting with my puppy while he sleeps, along with this wiped out feeling, is totally taking me back to taking care of my mom the week before she died. I was up all the time, sleeping in strange places, showering when I had a second, snarfing food when I could, sitting with her all the time because I could. (I haven’t been able to do that with Roscoe all the time.) This zombie-like functional state is so familiar in my bones from that time with my Mother that it’s giving me flashbacks to a most tenderly painful episode in my life – her death. I never thought I would feel that way again. I couldn’t have told you exactly what it felt like until now, when I’m experiencing it again. And now it is flooding back in a strange, disjointed, poignant way.
I will deal with my own feelings, and it will be fine. I will be fine, just like Roscoe will be fine.
But it is strange to wander in this strange land again.
Guess what this weekend was? It was our annual excursion to ….. (drumroll please) ….. Frozen Dead Guy Days!!
This was Kelsea’s and my fourth foray into this festival of the intoxicated macabre. And this year, we took her uber-cool friend Will.
You may not be familiar with this event, which is now in its tenth year, but the legend (or fact, really) that inspired it is far older. Back in 1989, Grandpa Bredo Morstoel passed away in Norway. Instead of going underground as so many do when they pass, Grandpa took to the skies; his corpse, packed in dry ice, was flown across the pond to the US. After seeing California (as so many Norwegians want to do) and becoming cryogenically preserved (not quite as popular a tourist activity), he arrived in Colorado to wait out his fate in the company of his daughter and his grandson in the old mining town of Nederland, Colorado, just outside of Boulder.
Grandpa Bredo was kept quietly in a shed on his daughter’s property for a few years. He was a colorful piece of local lore. I recall hearing about him before he was famous, but no one was sure if the rumors were true. After he’d been resting comfortably for a couple of years, the proverbial S hit the proverbial F. Grandson Trygve found himself deported, and daughter Aud found herself evicted. And Grandpa found himself on his own, which is not a good position for a frozen old Norwegian in a Tuff Shed.
You must understand that the people of Nederland are a people apart. I love it up there. The townsfolk took Grandpa to their collective bosom. People stopped by the Tuff Shed where he was stored to tend to his dry ice needs. And they rallied the town council to – literally – grandfather – Grandpa into the town’s new law that prohibited keeping bodies on private property. I wonder if any other town has that regulation?
Grandpa’s plight garnered quite a bit of publicity on a worldwide scale. He has his own caretaker who, with the help of the ever-loyal townsfolk, keeps his body packed in a sarcophagus surrounded by 1600 pounds of dry ice. He’s been relocated from his original Tuff Shed, due to logistics and safety factors, to a larger unmarked storage facility up the mountain a bit. On occasion, guests can go up and see the shed, but not Grandpa Bredo himself.
Still, his share of fame grows yearly. He’s been the subject of two documentaries by the Beeck Sisters – “Grandpa’s In The Tuff Shed” and “Grandpa’s Still In The Tuff Shed”, and a book written by his caretaker Bo Shaeffer (aka The Iceman) called Colorado’s Iceman and the Story of the Frozen Dead Guy. There’s even a mystery set around the festival, which I have, but haven’t read yet, called One Too Many Frozen Dead Guys by Pamela Stockho. And there’s a song by T.D. Rafferty, most aptly named “The Frozen Dead Guy Song.” Both books and the song are available at trusty www.amazon.com.
Back to the festival! It’s become a packed event, which is good for the town’s small businesses, but it seems that as it grows, it becomes less and less quirky. Sad. However, the two-and-a-half day festival still consists of such unusual activities as:
- Parade of Hearses, which is exactly what it sounds like
- Polar Plunge, where participants in varying stages of costume or undress jump into a hole cut in the frozen lake
- Coffin Races, in which teams of people carry makeshift coffins through an obstacle course in the town playground
- Frozen Salmon Toss, where you see how far you – yes, YOU – can throw a frozen salmon
- Brain Freeze, an ice cream eating contest held in the middle of First Street
- Frozen Turkey Bowling, where you use frozen turkeys to knock down bowling pins (this is also commonly done in supermarkets late at night, and Australians use midgets instead of turkeys)
- Frozen T-Shirt Contest, where you must unfold a frozen T-shirt and put it on
- Rocky Mountain Oyster Eating Contest, in which you consume as many “prairie oysters” as possible
We arrived a tad bit late, just after the start of the parade. The parade is definitely my favorite part of the event. Several dozen hearses, most of them from the ’60s and ’70s, but the occasional entry from the ’40s and one even from prior to the 20th century, turn out to make a circle around the center of the little town.
Ghoulish participants were waving and throwing candy.
Small children hardly knew what to make of the event.
And really, who can blame them?
After the parade, we headed over to the Polar Plunge, which takes place in a little pond off the creek. Paramedics are handy by the ice hole to help plungers out if they have trouble.
We found a perfect spot on the edge of the ice. Nederland is a very dog-friendly town, and pooches were plentiful among the aspens.
Plungers weren’t as creative in their costumes or their approaches this year, which was a little disappointing. I had tried to talk Kelsea into jumping with me, but she said not until next year, since she’s not a strong swimmer and didn’t want to embarass herself in front of her beloved paramedics. But we had a grand time watching…
until the latecomers started just packing onto the ice in front of us so we couldn’t see anymore. How rude. In fact, my edit function was apparently set pretty low, as I was telling people in no uncertain terms to sit down. And I was wishing all the ice would just collapse, making the whole inconsiderate lot of them into unwilling plungers. The paparazzi really were testing the limits of ice gravity.
It had gotten REALLY chilly, so we headed to the bookstore/coffee shop to warm up. I love this little bookstore – it’s mostly used books, but they also have ice cream, a little clothing, a little jewelry, a Tarot card reader, and of course, chai, cocoa, lattes and etcetera.
And they have creepy stuffed squirrels bolted to their exterior walls.
We got coffee and brownies and found a little table in the children’s book room in the back.
The shop cat immediately came to say hello and Will decided he wanted to marry it.
Man, I don’t know what was in those brownies, considering there’s a “green wellness” clinic on either side of the bookstore, but we spent about two hours in silly hysterics, laughing and snorting and giggling at absolutely nothing. We poked around the bookstore, and fell more in love with the cat, who was now occupying the Tarot card table.
I chatted with a lady who teaches knitting and who had knit some amazing glow-in-the-dark skullcaps. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as glow-in-the-dark yarn.
(And as a lovely reminder of my last lovely weekend, there’s an Alpaca Store in Nederland where she gets her yarn.)
We spent so much time in the warmth and silliness of the bookstore that we missed the coffin races. Kelsea and I had seen them before, so we didn’t mind – the wind had picked up and we were all cold. Heading back into town through the little covered footbridge, we stopped in a couple of shops. Will and Kelsea parked themselves in rockers and pretended to be old people.
I took lots of artsy pictures.
And imagined decorating my new little house.
Emerging again into the chill, we discovered a mechanical bull set up outside the Pioneer Inn bar. Well, in my ongoing quest to try new things, I tried this new thing.
It was a lot harder than it looked and I don’t think I stayed on for 8 seconds. But Kelsea did quite well!
Our time was winding down. We passed the Brain Freeze contest, with very few participants.
And we passed more cute dogs (in trying to type ‘dogs’ just then, I typed ‘gods’ twice).
As our final excursion, we decided to walk out into the half-empty reservoir, something else I’ve always wanted to do. The reservoir is full to the brim in the summer, putting Boulder at risk of the imminent and overdue 100-year flood, which last occured in 1894.
But in the winter, it is a barren plain of rocks and dry earth.
The wind was absolutely vicious; we walked out as far as we could bear, then turned and made a run for the car. A real run, tears streaming down our faces and snot flying in the wind. By the time we got to the car, we sounded like we’d had strokes, we were so cold and our brains so bizarrely impacted by who knows what (wind? brownies? mechanical bulls?) that we could barely form words.
We happied our way down the mountain back to Boulder. That night, my eyes were still hurting from the grit and the wind, and Kelsea and I were exhausted from battling the breeze, the cold and the mud. But we had a wonderful time. Next year, maybe we’ll try tukey bowling and salmon throwing.
I think it’s great that even with dead guys, there’s always next year.
Today, we mourn the loss of Ray Kroc, who died 15 years ago. Don’t know who Ray Kroc is? I’ll give you a hint….
Yes, the Golden Arches met the Pearly Gates on this day in 1984. I hope Ray brought St. Peter lunch. But it bears repeating that Ray Kroc was NOT the founder of McDonald’s. That honor goes to Dick and Mac McDonald (a.k.a., Richard and Maurice), who conceived of and opened the first McDonald’s in San Bernadino, California, in 1948. Ray was a franchisee with many McNuggets of marketing genius to his credit.
It is the first anniversary of the death of Ricardo Montalban, of “Welcome to Fantasy Island!” and “soft corinthan leather” fame. (And he is frequently misquoted as saying “fine corinthian leather”.) A Roman Catholic married to the same woman for 63 years (virtually unheard of, particularly in Hollywood), he made over 50 movies and has two listings in “Lash! The Hundred Great Scenes of Men Being Whipped In the Movies” (and no, I haven’t read it – this is pure research.) I can tell you that he was some kind of amazing gentleman hottie as Chu Chu Rodriguez in the 1952 film “My Man and I.”
Finally, today is the 128th anniversary of the death of Greyfriars Bobby. A Skye Terrier who belonged to night watchman John Gray, Bobby spent his last 14 years after Gray died sitting on his master’s grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, Scotland, leaving only for food. Edinburgh is set to mark this anniversary with Greyfriars Bobby Day. Bobby has his own shop (and blog!) here. Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.
Perhaps it’s a day to feed a dog a hamburger on an island somewhere.
Thus endth the history lesson. Hope you feel somewhat enlightened.
In most cases, dogs and the beach go together like biscuits and gravy (which would be two good dog names.)
I never had dogs when I was growing up. My father was not a dog person. I might never have had the extreme joy and privilege of owning a dog were it not for Pat. We had agreed after we bought the house that we would wait a year before getting a dog. That lasted exactly three months, and we adopted Tug (best dog EVER).
I’d always liked dogs, just never had the opportunity to be around them much. My friend Harriet had a mutt named Bilbo, who was pretty nice – a little hyper, but fun to romp with. The lady who lived across the street had a seeing-eye German Shepherd named Queenie, who always barked at me when I went past, and made me kind of nervous.
My early formative dog experiences were when I was around seven years old. Our neighbors in the duplex next door had dogs – Mrs. McCullough had a puppy named Gremlin, who I was allowed to play with on the stoop after school (unless I had been bad). The neighbors in the other side of the duplex had a Jack Russell mix named Ethelred, who liked to imitate ambulance sirens. But one of my first and most memorable dog experiences came at Topsail that year. I met a very nice young woman who was staying at the now-torn-down Florida Apartments, and she had a beautiful German Shepherd named Brandy. We spent lots of time together during those weeks we were there, playing on the beach. She let me come and feed him in the evenings (I thought Gravy Train was disgusting, and decided from watching commercials on TV that if I ever had a dog, I would feed him Ken-L-Ration, because it looked tastiest to me. I must admit, though, I liked the little chuck wagon driving into the dog food bag on the Gravy Train commercials. But now that I think about it, maybe that commercial was for Chuck Wagon. Hmmm.)
I don’t remember the woman’s name, but she sent me a picture of myself in my little pink swimsuit, sitting on the beach petting Brandy. I still have it. I truly loved that dog, and I cried when they went home.
Since then, as I said, thanks to Pat, I’ve had dogs of my own. Champ and Roscoe are our third and fourth dogs, and I still consider them mine, even if I don’t/can’t have custody. But I’ve never had my own dog at a beach. They’ve always been semi-adopted.
When Kelsea was about four, there was a dog next door to the beach house named Hank – a big, happy white Lab who liked to play with the sand crabs. This past year, there was one pup who swam out to rescue us, even though we didn’t need rescuing, because it was just what he did – check on people in the water to be sure they were okay.
Dogs always seem so amazingly happy at the beach. Room to run, water to play in, things to chase – the epitome of freedom. Tug would have loved it, as he was always wading in creeks, rivers, drainage ditches, puddles. J.T. was more skittish around water, so he might not have been such a fan.
My travels in the British Virgin Islands have led to many wonderful dog encounters. Of course, first and foremost, are the Jost van Dyke dogs (known as potcakes or coconut retrievers). They belong to everyone and no one, but are always fed and housed somewhere. Trixie, whose recent passing I am still mourning, was the queen of Jost. Dog-in-residence at the Soggy Dollar Bar/Sandcastle Hotel, she spent her time lying in the sand, being cuddled by the owners and the occasional special guest like my friend Diane, and being petted by thousands of day-trippers. We always had our special goodbyes, she and I, those moments before I left, when we would look into each other’s eyes as I rubbed her little belly. She joined every table at dinner and at breakfast, just to say hello, never to beg.
Chi-Chi is probably my personal favorite. He has a bum leg, but still manages to get around just fine with his awkward gait, bustling from White Bay to Great Harbour throughout the day. He liked to come sit with me on quiet mornings in my hammock, or at my feet on the lounge chair, and just look at the blue of the water. When I stayed at Sandcastle, he would come to my cottage for naps. I remember one afternoon when I had let him out after he had napped in the chair as I was dressing for dinner. I opened the door to leave and there he was again, right on the mat – with two of his potcake friends. Apparently, he had let them know that this cabin was the place to be.
Paco has been the center of melodrama – I’m not sure if he’s still on island. Prior to my last visit, I had heard that he’d been killed, which saddened but did not surprise me, as the locals do not like the island dogs (and vice versa). But upon my arrival, I was told that he had actually been smuggled off the island because he was is such danger from one particular local – sort of like a doggie witness protection program – and was now living happily and safely with a family.
The previous managers of the Soggy Dollar had a black lab named (appropriately) Dollar. I didn’t know Dollar well, as he spent much of his time with Sandy the manager. She and Roger have since moved on to greener pastures, and I expect they took Dollar with them, as I know what an animal lover Sandy is.
On my second stay there, I recall meeting a sailor with an adorable puppy in his arms. He was from Canada and he and his wife had adopted the dog, and then sailed away on their boat. The puppy loved everything about the beach and sailing. He particularly loved eating all of the furniture in the salon and all the teak on the boat. The husband was ashore with the puppy while the wife was having some “quiet time” aboard. I believe the husband was actually saving the puppy’s life and the wife’s sanity.
There were also several dogs who would lead tourists to the Bubbly Pool on the east end of Jost. I encountered different dogs at different times, but they would always meet you at Taboo (the restaurant) and take you down the path, stopping to wait for you to catch up if they lost sight of you. Once you arrived, the dog would depart, but would generally return after a time to lead you back. I don’t know if they’re still hanging around – I’d heard that the lead dog had been poisoned - but they were certainly helpful.
The remaining Jost dog-character is Taboo, Foxy’s black lab (no doubt related to Dollar). Taboo is one cool cat. Can you use that term when talking about a dog? He’s big and loves to roll around in the water and then come rub his sandy self up against you. He also likes to abscond with flip-flops – he’s done so with mine. He doesn’t eat them, just nuzzles them.
Island hopping, we move on to Virgin Gorda. When we stayed on Virgin Gorda in May, we were befriended by the resident dogs at Guavaberry: Soca and Pearl. They were wonderful. They loved to play with their toys and roll in dead seagulls. Always there to greet us when we came down to the beach (unless they were asleep on their beds at the hotel office), they would follow us, even as we climbed around on the giant rocks. Soca was particularly faithful and protective. He followed us on a climb that I would have thought impossible for a dog, barking to let us know when he couldn’t see us anymore, or was having trouble finding a doggie-foothold. They both came back to the cottage with us on a couple of occasions, with Soca dozing in the shade on our porch. As that was really my only stay on VG, I can’t say I’ve become acquainted with any of the island’s other pups, but I’m sure they are many and marvelous.
Finally, we jump off to Anegada. Ah, Anegada. On my first trip there, I had the privilege of meeting Rambo. Rambo was a potcake like Trixie. In fact, they looked remarkably similar, except Rambo was older and chubbier. He was doted on by the Soares family and was indeed a little love. Sadly, he was accidentally run over while sleeping underneath a local cab. Many tears were shed.
Other notable pups on the white sands have been Boats, another adorable white lab who was, as his name suggests, a boat dog.
There was Belle and Alex’s semi-pitbull who ate one of my favorite flip-flops. (It was my fault, as I forgot them there when heading home one night. I must say that it’s wonderful to be in a place where you can actually forget your shoes and not notice until the next morning.) He was apparently only a passing fancy, as I never saw him again. And there was Shoe-Stealer from our last trip. I can’t recall his name, but he played an exquisite game of keep-away with a flip-flop.
That about sums up the cast of canine characters. Now, beach cats are another story…