15 Miles !

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Perhaps it’s because my morning routine is slightly different, more casual, and starts a bit later, but Lizzie knows when it’s the weekend.  Every weekend Lizzie’s playful side is on full alert and ready to go.  This weekend was no different.  Saturday morning Lizzie was rip-roaring-ready to go hiking, but this particular morning we couldn’t go quite so early.  I had a Tree Service coming over to take down a couple of trees, which ended up being just one dangling widow-maker cut down.  We set out to hike after lunch and did a short trail of 3 miles.  Sadly, we didn’t see a single person or dog on the trail and I could tell Lizzie was disappointed.  I think the highlight of the hike, besides being off the leash and in the woods, is playing with all the dogs we meet along the trails.  I made a mental note to take her again on Sunday.  Sunday morning she was ready and we hit the trails by 7:00 am.  It was a chilly morning but the sun was out and it was just a matter of time before we warmed up on the hike.  Lizzie romped with dogs on the trail and because I had committed to take my mom shopping, we did the short 2 mile loop.  Lizzie wasn’t happy.  After taking mom out for a few hours, I decided to take Lizzie hiking again to play on the trails.  The place was mobbed and I just went with the flow.  Before I knew it, we’d hiked about halfway on the 13 mile trail.  I decided to follow it through since Lizardo was fully engaged in a 4-way game of chase.  It was a gorgeous day, like a Fall day and I didn’t want to do anything but hike and play, so we did.  We hiked the entire 13 miles, plus the 2 miles in the morning.  That’s a record for us; 15 miles in one day.  We were tired!

It seems I don’t get much done in my house these days.  Laundry and grocery shopping are always falling behind; but watching this stray dog enjoy life and other dogs/people brings me so much joy.  She’s a lot of work, but I feel so good that she has a good life.  And let’s face it, all the exercise and fresh air does us both a lot of good!  As the story goes, I saved her from being a stray.  However, anyone who knows her and I will agree, she really saved me.  Friday will be the 1 year anniversary of putting my beloved dog Sadie down.  I still miss her and get choked up when I think of her.  I think Sadie would have loved playing with Lizzie.  I moped around missing my dog for way too long; and then came Lizzie.  The rest, as they say, is History.

Yeah, I’m totally into it…

   

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Milestones and Motors

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As the hours ticked on, we both became a little antsy waiting for the late-night pending transaction about to occur.  My son was selling his beloved 4-wheeler ATV.  Jeff has always pampered this vehicle like a baby.  He kept it in the garage, washed, waxed and maintained it regularly.  Riding it was so much fun, but since none of his friends had one, riding was also a bit lonely.

Jeff has been riding ATV’s since he was about 4 years old.  Some friends of mine had borrowed a child’s Suzuki 4-wheeler from a friend of theirs for Jeff to ride while we all went riding in the woods.  He’s been hooked ever since.  When he turned 7 I surprised him with a brand new Suzuki by stashing it in the shed and asking him to get me a rake from the shed.  He came running into the house, gasping for breath out of excitement and disbelief, asking me if I knew there was a 4-wheeler in the shed.  There is?  Mom, mom, mom, come see, quick!  That day he rode around the field for hours and hours, a big grin plastered on his mud covered face where the helmet didn’t cover.  He made jumps out of wood and dirt, and mud puddles to blast through as fast as he could.  He rode that thing until his body literally grew so tall he couldn’t ride it any longer.  When Jeff’s dad and I divorced, his dad had grave concerns about Jeff riding a 4-wheeler at such a young age.  Relax, Jeff has a great instructor, I told him.  Of course he had concerns about the instructor as well.  It’s hard to believe we didn’t stay married…  By this time, Jeff was a 4-wheeler expert and the machines kept getting bigger and bigger to fit his never-ending growth pattern.  He upgraded to Honda’s, which of course are the best (in our opinion).  He saved his hard-earned money and bought a Honda Foreman.  He loved it but it wasn’t the top of the line and he had big dreams of the MacDaddy ATV – Honda RinconHe put his mind to saving for it and when the time came, he sold the Foreman and bought the Rincon and all the accessories like a plow, winch, big badass tires, chains, and all kinds of other things for your riding pleasure.  He made that thing come alive when he rode it, and it returned the favor.  He was a sight to see.  No matter what the weather, he was out there, King of the trails, ripping it up.  There are clubs and groups but you’d have to transport so far that it was hardly worth it.  There was the lake house, which was fun, but again he was getting older and his needs were changing.  I had a blast with it at the lake and was sad to see it go.  I might have to get another one for the lake.

It didn’t take him long to sell it.  In fact, in less than a day he had a call.  The guy came over and fell in love with it.  He put a deposit on it and took pictures like a father takes pictures of a newborn baby.  The banks were closed on Monday for President’s Day and the guy works second shift.  We all agreed to meet up at 11:30 pm last night to make the deal happen.  My son went into the garage early to get everything ready.  I left him alone with the machine as I knew he needed closure to say goodbye.  I watched out the window as he took his last couple of victory laps around the property and prayed the neighbors wouldn’t complain with the late night noise.  I knew it was hard for him to sell it.  I knew it was a major milestone from boy to man.  A part of him was going with the 4-wheeler, a part he’ll never forget.  I finally went out to the garage with the dog to see how he was doing.  He was totally engrossed in getting prepared with paperwork and equipment.  He was a little anxious and we talked about future 4-wheelers.  I was so touched when he said he thought he might wait to get another one when he has kids.  He said he thought it would be a good “father/son” thing to do.  I don’t know if he realized the huge compliment he paid me by saying that.  It validated all the worries I’d had as a mother introducing her son to motorized vehicles.  I knew it was a blast, but of course I also knew there was danger.  I was certain proper training would minimize the risk.  I was right, other than a few learning curve cuts and scrapes, he never got seriously hurt.  It was at that moment I knew he held the memories near and dear to his heart and he wanted to pass down the same memories to his kids.  How great is that?  Maybe by then, I’ll have one of my own and we can all go tearing it up together!

The buyer shows up right on time like a kid at Christmas.  My son wanted me to sign the agreement as a witness so I hung outside with them for a while.  After Jeff went over all the most important details, we moved on to the exchange of money.  It was a ‘cash only’ deal and there was cash everywhere.  We all counted the money, signed the papers and then proceeded to transfer the ATV to the back of the guy’s truck.  With borrowed ramps he had no trouble driving it right up into the truck bed.  That was my cue to quietly, without saying a word, go back in the house and leave them alone.  It was after midnight and I was tired.  I got ready for bed and heard Jeff come in shortly after.  He came in my room and said it was a little sad to see it go.  I told him it was just a motor with metal around it and by the time he’s ready to buy another one, it’ll leave that one in the dust.  He chuckled, and went to bed lost in his thoughts, clutching his cash.

You can take the boy out of the 4-wheeler, but you can’t take the 4-wheeler out of the boy. There is no doubt in my mind, my son will have another 4-wheeler and even another one after that.

Duff-Will

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As the weekend unfolded, Saturday turned out to be what I consider a “perfect” day.  It started out with an early morning walk (just under 2 miles) on a dirt road with someone special and the dogs running and playing the entire way.  I love peaceful mornings before the world wakes up.  Our destination, Camp Eureka, where I had left my truck the night before.  We were invited to join a hike that was coming together when we arrived and we quickly said yes.  I hear of Duff-Will mountain quite often, but have never been.  I wasn’t even sure where it was, I just knew the side of the mountain was owned by friends who hike it regularly.  I was excited to go.

The party consisted of four people and three dogs.  As we hiked up the side of the mountain, our friends were gracious enough to give us the history of the mountain, pointing out historical sites and views.  It was stunning!  The mid-February day was bursting with sunshine magnifying down upon the little to no snow or ice packed trails.  Our friends hiked with poles which I spotted when they got out of their truck and couldn’t help but think they looked like professional hikers.  I’d never used a pole, probably I’d never thought of it.  As our uphill climb progressed, I was handed a pair of poles to try on the way up.  What a difference!  I was hooked!!  Who knew?  (Note to self:  Get poles.)

Our first encounter with wildlife right out of the gate was a very large porcupine.  Lizzie sensed it first as she stood perfectly still in pointing form.  Then Baby J and Ralphie saw it.  Ralphie, being the smartest of the three, stayed away from it but Lizzie and J were all about it and went after it.  Thankfully, Mark and Barry’s quick thinking was enough to make the dogs think twice and they retreated under protest, away from the porcupine.  Whew!  That was close…

 

 

 

 

 

As we continued hiking, I learned Duff-Will is the “doughnut-hole” property surrounded by conservation land.  With rambling stone walls, wild animals and surreal views, I felt lucky to be experiencing this wonderful day.  We hiked on and disrupted a moose just ahead of us who takes off into the woods.  We follow the dogs who are tracking it, hoping to catch a glimpse.  It was exciting even if we didn’t actually get to see it.  I’m sure it was watching us.

 

 

 

 

 

We encountered a bit more snow as we descended down the mountain.  We took a trail-in-progress path which wasn’t completely carved out or packed down yet so the soft snow left little to imagination.  I got up and carried on…  As the terrain levelled off a bit, we all seemed quite content just quietly taking it all in.  It seemed we were all lost in our thoughts on this perfect day.  The dogs were nowhere to be seen, but we could hear them up ahead somewhere. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathleen, Barry and Mark up ahead.

It was midafternoon as we approached the trucks.  I was sad to leave the mountain, but I knew we’d be back and I was already planning on new hiking poles for the next hike.  Yeah, we’re coming back.

We went our separate ways for a while to feed the dogs, cook, shower and wind up for a night full of friends, food, fun and fire!  Oh how I looooove a bon-fire!  What could be better?  It was like the icing on the cake.  It was a perfect day, followed by a perfect night.  Woot!  Woot!

Ring Dings

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I’m always amazed at how fast, and how far, a trigger can take me without a moment’s notice.  You don’t even know what you hang on to from childhood until it’s staring you in the face.  This morning I read that Hostess, founded in 1930, has filed for bankruptcy.  Hostess, of course is the parent company of Drakes, who makes the beloved Ring Dings which my brother and I have bittersweet childhood memories of.  There it is, I’m five years old again.

My parents had one of the messiest and meanest, divorces I know of.  Maybe because we were very small (I was five, my brother three) and impressionable it seemed so hard.  Maybe because when we were growing up we were those kids from divorced parents, which unlike today, was not commonplace back then. Either way, it’s a huge part of our past, or at least mine.

Every Sunday afternoon for four, fun-filled hours, Dad would pick us up and take us someplace ‘cool’.  Looking back, four hours isn’t a lot of time to plan a day trip, but we made the most of it by either hiking to the top of what seemed to be the largest mountain in the world, sitting on the big summit rock and eating our lunches, or playing with all the animals at the base of the mountain that were housed there for one reason or another next to the playground.

Mom would make sure we were bathed, dressed and ready and then leave the house before Dad arrived to pick us up.  He was greeted at the door by my unassuming Grandfather, who loved my Dad very much and was crushed with the split.  We were bursting with excitement and could hardly control ourselves when we finally saw him pull up in front of the house.  My Grandfather never held us back as we peeled our faces off the window and bolted to the front door to greet him; but we always knew what followed…

After a delirious, exhilarating and exhausting day filled with chatter, laughter and love, the drive home was stone quiet because there were no words for the heartbreaking end to a glorious day with Dad.  It was there in the car the sadness would set in for all of us.  A week is a lifetime to wait to see Dad when your five and three.  Mom, of course was never there when Dad brought us home.  My grandfather waited patiently to let us in the house and then promptly retreated upstairs (where he lived) to give us alone time to say goodbye to Dad.  I always loved that he respected the painful goodbye and gave us the much needed alone time with Dad.  Dad would always try to keep busy during the short stay before he left.  We would cry and he would comfort us with hot chocolate and Ring Dings.  He tried so hard to hide the tears in his eyes, but we saw it.  We felt it.  It killed him as much as it killed us to say goodbye.  I don’t think he ever knew what followed after he shut the door behind him.  My brother would fall apart, crying hysterically, sobbing for hours.  That was even more painful than my father leaving.  I would console my brother for what seemed like hours.  After an exhausting day, and an even more exhausting good-bye, my little brother would cry himself to sleep in my arms and I would put him to bed.  Then, I would cry alone at the table drinking two cups of hot chocolate and eat both Ring Dings.  My heart broke for my brother and after checking to make sure he was asleep, I would go to bed before my mom got home. 

I haven’t had a Ring Ding since I was a kid.  My brother and I are all grown up and my Dad has since passed away.  Any association with Ring Dings brings me right back to age five, Sunday’s with my dad and my brother.  All the old feelings come flooding back, good and bad.

If the plight of the Ring Ding should go away with the pending bankruptcy, they will forever live tucked away in a special place in my heart.

Working The System

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A victory in Small Claims Court still means you have to collect payment yourself.  I recently had an ordeal where I took a contractor to Small Claims Court, and won.  The court ordered even more money than I was asking, all costs and even interest.  The Judge realized the contractor was deceitful and shady. 

Even with the Judge ordering payment within 30 days, I knew collection wouldn’t be easy.  I hadn’t let this guy out from under my thumb since this ordeal started, including our court hearing where he was totally unprepared, and out of his league.  Still, a dishonest man, in my opinion, will not do the right thing first.  He will try to manipulate, steal, connive or coerce anything but the truth to get his way.  Stupid man, he had no idea he screwed with the wrong girl.

Yesterday I received a certified letter notification in my mailbox.  This morning I was at the Post Office promptly at 7:00am waiting for them to open.  Sure enough, a check in the full amount ordered by the Judge written out to me.  Nice!!

So it seems, the shady bastard figured it was best to cut his losses and pay up in full, for he must have known I would never stop chasing him, and make his life miserable.  Of course he was right.

People fear what they do not know.  I’m sure he will move on to the next unsuspecting victim.  However, he’ll never forget me and how much money and time it cost him trying to fight a losing battle.   I never backed down, even when he tried to scare me off.   The truth always wins and you can’t fix stupid!

CAB’s Here !

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The long-awaited arrival of Baby Charlotte has come,

Born a few days ago, she outshines the sun.

Her beauty and grace, dainty hands and little feet

Are traits of her heritage which few dare to compete.

A gentle hug and a smile when a friend starts to cry

Will warm them when you whisper, “It’s cute that you try”

So welcome Baby Charlotte, to Pitbulls and Poodles

May your happiness shine through in all of your doodles…

Family Jewels

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As Valentine’s weekend passes me by, I am left with my thoughts of being over-looked with no offers, no invites and no plans. 

Jewelry surrounded me however, Family Jewels that is.  I don’t know how anyone can enjoy the glitz and glamor, the gold and the memories, the history and the meaning when they’re all fighting over who should get what.  After a while, the pieces are tarnished with harsh words, ill feelings, tears and sides taken.  Why can’t they all understand there is no metal more precious than family?  Why do they let jewelry define who they are, or are not? Why don’t they see the big picture? 

In a futile attempt to calm the elders and finally put this two-year issue to rest, my cousin and I mediated, and moderated a meeting of the minds yesterday.  Of course the minds I speak of are all opinionated, stubborn, non-waivering and o-l-d.  It was like chiseling stone with a plastic knife.  We made little progress, but not enough to end the battle.  It’s exhausting and draining and we continually get sucked in because we are family. 

The things we do for family!

I would have loved to have danced it all away, even if just for a song.  Just sayin`…

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