Max Poodle January 19, 2010-September 6, 2017

It’s been a long time since I gave you an update, and this is one of the hardest I will ever write.

My sweet Poodle boy, Max, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor on September 6th. The best, and only, thing I could do was to say goodbye to him while he was still under anesthesia for the MRI that found the tumor.

He was 7-1/2 years old, and many of you knew him from our trip around the country, and our second trip to Silver City, NM the following winter.

Dapper boy. He was so patient with me when I wanted to dress him up for photos!

Here is a tribute that my good friend, Buzz Masters, wrote about him:

“He was The Mayor of Deer Isle. He was Cary Grant in a dog coat, always up for a party, tuxedo slightly wrinkled, and if Maureen would have let him, a gin martini in a short stemmed glass.

Before a haircut, when he was shaggy and fluffed up, he did a damn good impersonation of a meatloaf. His innocent look, and tilted head, when pizza was missing from the counter did make you believe it was not him, and many a mouse was blamed for the loss of hamburgers, cheese, crackers, and the occasional apple.

On a walk, he was so fast, he was able to make it all the way out to Sheep Head Island before everyone else had gotten ten steps across the first beach.

We would see him, a small, bouncing speck way in the distance, not coming when he was called because he was having such a fabulous run.

When we would finally make our way out there, and he happily would greet us with a leap and a spin, Maureen would respond, ‘You %#€^*#! Where do you think you are going ?’.

His reply was always, ‘Well…right here, Mo. BEST DAY EVER!’

Best dog. Completely exuberant love of life and Maureen. Good friend to Finn, Piper, Dotty, and running companion/bunny chaser to Lewis.

Forever in our hearts.”

Max had the distinct honor of meeting Robert Indiana a few years ago. The famous artist was smitten with our local celebrity–who took it all with a grain of sand, and a poodle shrug of the shoulder!

It sums him up perfectly.

My heart is so broken…

I have set up a youcaring site to help offset the staggering vet bills. If you want to help, please click on this link.

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Oddities and other things…

I guess with a title like this I should start with the oddities…  However, I’m not going to.

Last night I was included in a Seder at the house of Scott and Katy’s friends, Jack and Joanne.  We arrived a little after 6:30 – at the same time as a young couple carrying their very tiny, almost 4-week-old son.

Inside, there were introductions all around; after which Jack offered a house tour to anyone who had never seen it.  Katy and I went along, getting a quick tour through all the rooms, and a short stop on the back patio to admire the new koi pond in the back yard.

One person hadn’t arrived by almost 7, and Joanne wanted to get started so we all went into the dining room.  The table looked beautiful – although somewhat cramped due to there being thirteen of us for dinner.  Mark – the late arrival – showed up just as we were beginning to read from the Haggadah.

We were quite an assortment of people – ranging from Joanne’s colleagues from High Point University, where she teaches, a High Point University freshman, Scott and Katy, me (stranger to all but my friends), to the young couple with the baby (strangers to EVERYONE, and included after Joanne was asked if she would welcome some folks who had no place to celebrate).

For those who have never attended a Seder, I’ll give this layman’s brief version of what goes on:  there is a specific ritual to the meal, including readings, prayers, and blessings from the Haggadah.  There are specific symbolic foods that are included in the ritual, the pouring and drinking of four glasses of wine in conjunction with sharing matzoh (unleavened bread), bitter food (horseradish), sweet food (haroset), eggs, matzoh ball soup, gefilte fish… I hope I haven’t forgotten anything.

Joanne announced that when she was growing up the only Kosher wine was Maneshevitz – “which tastes like Dimetapp” she said, laughing.  “But for me, it just wouldn’t be Passover if I didn’t have it.

“So, for anyone who wants to try it, just let me know!”  And she uncapped a bottle and poured it into her glass.  Scott, sitting to my left, held his glass out for it, and so did I.  I’ve had it many years ago, and like the taste, which isn’t so much like cough syrup to me as it is a very sweet grape juice.

All of this was BEFORE we actually got to the main meal!  Mid-point in the reading, the Haggadah was set aside until after the meal, and we were served lamb, smoked salmon, roasted vegetables, asparagus and roasted baby carrots, potato kugel, fruit kugel… along with yet more wine.

Meanwhile, Joanne announced AFTER the eggs, horseradish, matzoh, haroset, matzoh ball soup, et al that everyone should “pace yourselves” because there was a lot of food coming, PLUS four desserts!

Conversation swirled around the table as we all thoroughly enjoyed an amazing feast.  The lamb chops were cooked anywhere from extremely rare to well done, and there were plenty for everyone.  My medium rare chop was out of this world.  Need I say that the roasted vegetables, asparagus, and kugel were also??

By the time coffee was served, and the desserts were presented, we each had eaten our fill, all while hoping to save room for the flourless chocolate torte, chocolate mousse, almond cake, and Joanne’s special caramelized matzoh with chocolate chips –as addictive as anything you can imagine!

After the meal, we picked up the Haggadah and read the concluding prayers and blessings, questions and answers.  The Seder is finished, when the other half of the Matzoh is broken and passed around.  With that final bite of matzoh, the meal is done and we eat no more… ending with “Next year in Jerusalem!

The invitation had been pretty specific on the time: 6:30 – 10, so imagine my surprise when we got home and I looked at my bedside clock: 11:30 pm!  What a great evening of food, wine, conversation, and beautiful ritual.

I am grateful to have been included. (and apologies to my Jewish friends for any omissions or inaccuracies.)

So, on to the oddities…

Today, I packed up the car so Max and I could continue on our homeward journey.  After I came out of the shower, I discovered that Max had wiggled his way out of our room, and gone out through the doggy door to play in the back yard with Loolie and Hershey!  But the better part was that Scott and Katy were out there calling me to come see the baby owl sitting in the tree.

I use the term “baby owl” loosely, for while he (or she) is not that old, she’s pretty darn big!  Still covered in fluffy downy feathers, and standing a foot or more tall, she’s easy to spot once you know where to look.  Dappled feathers help disguise her in the trees, but her shape is distinctive.   Not really an oddity, but call her #1 for today.

Once the car was loaded, and Max was safely in, we drove out onto the street and followed Scott and Katy and their dogs to Skippy’s in Winston for those amazing hot dogs on pretzel buns that I wrote about last year.

photo of tables at skippy's in winston, nc

I love this place!!

From there, we all caravaned up Route 52 to Mt. Airy, NC and (thanks to Scott)


photo of headstone for Chang and Eng

And along the way, I spotted a sign that read “SCENIC Collision Repair.” (Oddity #3?)  I couldn’t decide if it meant the repair shop was in a scenic location or the collision was the result of the scenic location!  What do you think?

Then, on to…

ODDITY#4.  Foamhenge…

photo og foamhenge
photo of Max at Foamhenge

The ever-willing Poodle poses for the pupparazzi…

photo of foamhenge

The stones look pretty realistic, don’t they?

photo of foamhenge

Proof that styrofoam has been around for a long time…

photo of foamhenge

This stone, braced with rope and logs, illustrates one theory that the stones were laboriously moved to the site and raised into position using ropes and logs.

And that, my friends, concludes one odd day in the life…

Posted in Friends along the way, North Carolina, On the Road, playing with a poodle, traveling in a Honda Element, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle, Virginia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

High Point…

We arrived in High Point Wednesday afternoon, after spending the morning poking around Asheville.  A late breakfast at Tupelo Honey Café was one of the highlights; Eggs Betty is their version of a Benedict, and it was sensational.  Two perfectly poached eggs over light house-made biscuits, topped with some good southern ham and a lemony Hollandaise sauce.  Paired with a strong cup of coffee, an outside table in the shade, and my happy-to-be-with-you poodle, what more could I ask for?

After breakfast, we made our way to the River Arts District and toured some galleries, then stopped in at 12 Bones to pick up some of the best ribs in the south to take to Scott and Katy’s house for dinner.

We were on the road for High Point by about 1:15.  I-40 goes east from Asheville through the western mountains of the Pisgah National Forest, and it was a beautiful drive.  About halfway through – somewhere east of Black Mountain, we stopped at a rest area so Max could stretch his legs and mark some shrubbery, but deep booming thunder, and a dark charcoal sky above the mountains to our east made me edgy and I got us back in the car and on the road again pretty quickly.

Later on, I pulled into another rest area so I could take a quick nap before continuing on.  When I woke up about 25 minutes later, it was just beginning to rain.  I let Max out again but all he wanted to do was sniff around.  Not 15 minutes after getting back on the road, the skies opened up in a torrential downpour that my wipers on high speed could just barely clear.

Almost as soon as it started, it slowed and we drove for a while in “average” rain.  After a couple more monsoon deluges, it stopped altogether, and we were on the outskirts of High Point.

I think Max recognized the neighborhood when we were a few blocks from Scott and Katy’s house, and he was pretty excited when we turned into their driveway to be greeted first by Katy, and then his pals, Loolie and Hershey.

Thursday, we left the dogs safely ensconced in the fenced back yard (with inside access via doggy door to the ping pong room) while we went to Raleigh with their friend, Raymond, for lunch and two museums.

Lunch at the Umstead Hotel was an unbelievable treat.  We were expecting it to be a 1930s rustic lodge hotel because it was right next to a state park… but no!  It was a high end, very swank place like you’d find in New York or Beverly Hills.  Doormen, valet parking, a gorgeous lobby with fabulous original art on the walls, and a dining room with high vaulted ceiling and windows looking out to a deck and the pool beyond.

Lunch?  Three of us had the lobster rolls (how could we NOT when we all live in Maine??) which were out of this world, served with house-made sea salt and vinegar potato chips.  Scott had a Kobe beef burger served as rare as any beef I’ve seen in years, and said it was fantastic.

Next, it was on the North Carolina Museum of Art where they have an exhibition titled  El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote You About Africa .  This description from the Museum’s website gives a little insight into the exhibit:

El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa traces the prolific career of El Anatsui—one of contemporary art’s most celebrated practitioners—from his early woodwork in Ghana to today’s metal wall sculptures created in his studio in Nigeria, offering an unprecedented chance for visitors to follow the artist’s creative development over 40 years.

This expansive exhibition traces four decades of Anatsui’s prolific career, including his early work making use of traditional symbols in Ghana; driftwood pieces created in Denmark; chainsaw-carved wood work, metal assemblages, and draping bottle-top sculptures produced in Nigeria. Anatsui’s metal sculptures—constructed from thousands of Nigerian liquor bottle tops pieced together—transform a simple material into a stunning monumental form. While many of his works make use of found objects—including bottle caps, milk tins, and cassava graters—the artist says that his sculp­tures are less about recycling or salvaging than about seeking meaning in the ways materials can be transformed to make statements about history, culture, and memory.”

Our main goal for the day was the Nasher Museum at Duke University, to see an exhibit of 34 of Alexander Calder’s Mobiles and Stabiles paired with works by seven contemporary artists.  Thursday night, the museum was screening two short films about Calder, including the famous 1955 film by Jean Pavileve,  Le Grand Cirque Calder 1927.   Click here  to watch a five minute excerpt on YouTube. The gallery containing the Calder works was fabulous.  We all agreed we could have done without the paired contemporary works – which mostly lacked the appeal of the Calder pieces.  The films – in particular the Circus one – were wonderful, giving us some insight into the man behind the legend.

By the time we returned to High Point (after a delicious late dinner at a little Vietnamese Restaurant) it was about 9:30 pm.  The next door neighbors had fed our dogs around 5:30, so they were all fine and dandy.  As a matter of fact, they all probably had been sleeping on their beds in the ping pong room, but by the time we got there they were all sitting pretty by the door, tails wagging, big doggy grins on their faces.

Today has been a quiet day around the house – early morning owl baby sighting in the trees behind the house, dogs playing in the backyard, and afternoon naps all around.  Tonight, Katy, Scott, and I are going to their friends’ house for Passover Seder, and the dogs will hang out here without us.

Tomorrow morning, Max and I will load up Tumbleweed and continue onward towards home.  I’m planning a different route – one that avoids I-95 through some of the worst traffic and congestion in the country – up through the countryside and mountains of North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, into New York and the Taconic Parkway, then across Massachusetts into southern New Hampshire where I hope to visit my friends Aaron and Susie before heading for Portland.

(On reading this last paragraph, I realize it sounds like we will do all of this tomorrow!  Not so!  We probably won’t make it to Portland until Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the distractions along the way!)

Katy and Scott gave me some hints and tips on things to see and do along the way, so we should have an interesting time of it.  Oh yeah – first stop tomorrow is Skippy’s in Winston for one of those amazing hot dogs I wrote about last year…

Posted in Eating out on a road trip, Friends along the way, Maine, museums, North Carolina, On the Road, playing with a poodle, Portland, traveling in a Honda Element, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Back East…

As somebody famous once said, “What a long, strange trip it’s been!” and we aren’t even close to home yet.  Closer than we were last Tuesday (still in Silver City at that time), but we still have a lot of miles to cover.(and we’re back in the Eastern Time Zone!)

Tonight, we are staying in a plush room at a Best Western in Asheville, NC.  We have our own 2-person jacuzzi in the room, but Max was having NO part of it.  NO, NO, NO THANK YOU I DO NOT WANT TO GET INTO THAT THING. (and you can’t make me!)

I, on the other hand, filled it up and had a delightful soak.  Just what I needed after nine days on the road.  And especially after yesterday…

We drove our longest leg yesterday – a five hour drive time from Jackson, TN to Knoxville, TN.  With a couple of stops to browse antique malls, and a stop or two to let Max visit the shrubbery,  I expected to stretch it to about six-plus hours…

We stopped in Cookville and hit the historic downtown of a town once called Cream City and one antiques place.  Then, with less than an hour to Knoxville, I spotted a billboard that promised “the largest antiques mall…” with the command to Exit Now and turn left.

And so I did.

After about 45 minutes, I was back in the car and headed east on I-40 again.  And less than 10 minutes later, we were stopped dead in our tracks.  Checking in with the highway alert radio station on AM 1620, I learned that both eastbound lanes were blocked about eight miles ahead of us, as “emergency crews attempt to clean up an incident.”

We had a little over four miles to the next exit, where traffic was being re-routed off I-40 to a detour through the countryside and back onto I-40 on the other side of the “incident” which I figured was some bad accident.

It took almost two hours to get to the exit, then another 45 minutes through the countryside – a 10-plus mile line of cars, trucks, semis, and RVs making its way back to the interstate.

So, what should have been that final hour’s drive to Knoxville, ended up taking almost four – and we arrived around 7:30 pm exhausted and hungry.

Turns out it was a bad accident – a semi went off a curve and flipped over, killing the driver, and blocking both lanes for hours into the evening.  I had a hard time falling asleep last night, thinking about the fragility of our lives, and feeling grateful for my “antiques bug” that may have saved us from either being close to that accident or coming up on it right after it happened.

Before we left Knoxville this morning, I found a great fenced dog park and spent a pleasant hour there while Max played with other dogs, fetched a ball and returned it to other people to throw, as I chatted with a couple of women who are regulars there.

Today, I-40 East was business as usual – the only difference was we were twisting, turning, upping, and downing through the mountains of western North Carolina.  The speed limit was lower, and the right lane was full of semis going as fast as the posted speed allowed.  As I passed some of them on the uphills, I wondered how many of their drivers were thinking of yesterday’s crash.  I know I was.

Well, after a beautiful drive through the mountains (including a few tunnels), we arrived in Asheville in time for lunch.  After leaving Tumbleweed safely ensconced in the livery stable (parking garage), we walked for a few blocks scoping out the downtown.  In the process, I spotted Restaurant Solace, with a nice outdoor sidewalk eating area and a sign saying “Farm to Fork” – a good indication that the food would be good, and locally sourced.

Max was welcome to join me, and we found a sweet spot in the shade where we could watch the street action and not be in the way of people coming in and out of the restaurant.  Max was the perfect “good dog” – staying at my side except when another dog pranced by outside the fence – sitting or lying down the whole time…

And lunch was fabulous.  A chilled glass of Pinot Grigio, citrus, avocado and pickled onion salad, chicken with grilled polenta medallions and green beans, plus a whopping thunderstorm!  Since it was pouring down hard when I finished lunch, I decided to sit there a little longer.  What a good excuse for dessert – hard rain and thunder!

Warm fudge brownie with fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream and a robust cup of coffee later saw the rain down to manageable, and off we went to the garage and on to our hotel.

Tomorrow, I’m heading back downtown to the River Arts District, and lunch at 12 Bones – Ashevilles’s best kept secret barbeque place… seems President Obama liked it so much the first time he came, that it was his first stop when he and the family returned in 2010!  Plus, my friend, Katy, told me it’s the BEST barbeque anywhere, ever.

Posted in Coffee, Eating out on a road trip, North Carolina, On the Road, playing with a poodle, Silver City, traveling in a Honda Element, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Four states and one time zone later…

We left New Mexico last Wednesday, and here we are in Jackson, Tennessee on Sunday.  After all that vast, brown, crunchy beauty of the Southwest, I have to say that the green grass, fully leafed trees, and overabundance of water in creeks, streams, rivers, and lakes are soothing to my eyes and my psyche.

We came east last year about three weeks later than this, and I seem to recall that things were not as far along as they are this year.  The second week of April, 2011, found us driving into spring as we went further east and northeast.  The first day of April, 2012, feels more like early summer.  Not complaining.  Just sayin’…

We’ve driven into and out of Amarillo (safely, this year), spent an overnight in Oklahoma City, another in Russellville, Arkansas; all the while cruising eastward, stopping in small towns offering us Antiques Malls, and Historic Route 66.

Daytime temperatures were in the low-70s in Silver City when we left, and they’ve been gradually creeping up as we move onward towards the great state of Maine.  It was 87 when we arrived in Russellville last night, and it feels close to that here in Jackson.

Along the road in Texas, I saw billboards encouraging me to Stop in Shamrock, so when the exit rolled up alongside us, I slid off I-40 and headed into town.  I mean, with my Irish heritage, and a town named Shamrock… what else could I do?  I didn’t recall stopping there before, so why not now?

Imagine my surprise when I was confronted with this sight:

photo of conoco tower in shamrock, texas

Okay, I was here last year.  And as soon as I turned right onto the main drag I knew without doubt that Shamrock had been one of those disappointing little towns that promise the unsuspecting traveler great times on the billboards… and fail miserably on the drive into town.


This year, I was in for a pleasant surprise.  There was a sweet little antiques shop in an old gas station on the south end of town.  It was open, I made a U-turn, parked and went inside.  Amongst all the other “stuff” – a lot of it really nice – I found a sweet little curio cabinet.

It’s no more than 18″ tall, maybe 16″ wide, and about 10″ deep, with glass sides, top, and door.  With a well-made wooden case, and in excellent condition, it was one of the great “finds” of the trip!

It can stand on its own or be hung on the wall, and to my eye it is perfect for displaying some of my jewelry in the gallery this summer. (Yes, I am planning to open my gallery again to sell my work and that of a couple of others.)

We’ve come almost 1,700 miles since leaving Silver city – averaging around 330-350 miles a day.  That means an average driving time each day of around 4 to 4-1/2 hours – a long time for a leggy poodle to spend “resting” in the back of Tumbleweed!  So, with stops for play at places like a fenced cemetery, a fenced grassy entranceway to a baseball stadium in Little Rock, and an honest-to-God dog park in Memphis, we’ve been traveling anywhere from 5-6 hours each day.

Tomorrow we head for Knoxville, TN – a 5 hour drive – so I expect we will be on the way for more than 6 hours.  But, Tuesday we get a reprieve.  Asheville (our planned overnight stop) is only 1-1/2 hours from Knoxville!  That means we’ll have time to walk around town, see some galleries, find a good play place, and relax before heading on to see our friends Loolie and Hershey, and their people (Katy and Scott) in High Point, NC.  Once there, we’ll have a couple of days breather before heading north again for home.

Here are some pix from Tombstone, AZ, on the way to El Paso, TX, and the road east…

photo of stagecoach tombstone arizona
photo of diana and max in tombstone arizona

Max! Is the stagecoach coming?

photo of stagecoach tombstone arizona

Waiting for passengers in Tombstone…

me, max, diana at lunch in tombstone

Margaritas, chiles rellenos, new hats, Max, Diana, and me at Maria’s in Tombstone, Arizona.

photo of diana and her new hat tombstone arizona

That hat looks good on you!

On the way to El Paso to get the laptop fixed way back in early March, I came across this funky, junky, antiques place…

photo of whoopee bowl antiques near el paso texas

How could I resist this place??

photo of whoopee bowl antiques near el paso texas

The entrance to the Whoopee Bowl on the way to El Paso, Texas.

I actually found some nice “treasures” that I can use in my found object jewelry…

photo of texs rest stop

This rest stop in Texas was one of the cleanest, and most beautiful I have seen in a long time. The lobby was filled with Route 66 memorabilia like old advertising signs, old photos of Route 66, etc and beautiful tile work in the restrooms.

photo of rattlesnake warning sign

This sign outside of the rest stop didn’t inspire a lot of confidence in this tenderfoot... Meanwhile, there was a woman sitting on the ground weeding around these rocks and tall grasses! She assured me the sign was for real, and there were rattlers about but “mostly out in the back. I haven’t seen any out front here.”

and lastly, Mr. Max on Route 66…

photo of Max with Route 66 medallion

Get your licks on Route 66!

Posted in Arizona, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, On the Road, playing with a poodle, Route 66, Silver City, Texas, The Mother Road, traveling in a Honda Element, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day two on the road home…

I woke up an hour early this morning in Albuquerque – looked at the clock, which said 7:15 and thought I should get up and moving.  “Wow, the sun comes up later here,” I said to Max, who opened one eye, gave a heavy sigh, and closed it right back up again.

Turned out the clock was an hour fast!  So, Max and I were out walking by 6:30… The good part of it was that we were checked out and headed for Starbucks by 8:15!

As I drove east out of town, I spotted the dog park we went to last year when we were in ABQ, but unfortunately I was in the middle lane of heavy traffic and couldn’t get over to exit and go to the park.  I didn’t tell Max we missed an opportunity.

A couple of hours later, we pulled off at Santa Rosa, and headed for Santa Rosa Lake.  Maybe I am too much of an Easterner, but I expected to find a LAKEwith a swimming beach.  You know, a good place for a cool dog to have some fun.

What we finally found – seven miles north of town – was clear evidence of the more than three-year drought that has beset this part of the southwest.  Santa Rosa Lake was at best only 20% of its capacity.  Note these pictures:

photo of low water at santa rosa lake, nm

Note the red arrow indicating what is probably the average high water mark at Santa Rosa Lake, NM. I was shocked at how low the water level is after the more than three-year drought in this part of the Southwest…

I drove all around, looking for a good place to assuage my guilt at missing the dog park, and finally settled on a picnic area overlooking the boat ramp.  Originally, I thought we could play at the water’s edge on the boat ramp.  Oops.  The steep, paved boat ramp went down about 35 feet to the water, and I wasn’t willing to walk down there and back up – especially since I wasn’t even sure that Max would want to play in the water!

We got out and played with the ball for about a half hour.  I practiced letting Max go ahead, then calling, “Whoa. Stop.”  Each time, he stopped and turned to watch me for a signal to continue!  I had no idea he would do it so well…  Then, I added the “Stay” command and he stayed until I caught up and gave him the “OK.”


photo of Max at santa Rosa Lake

Waiting for me to throw the ball…

photo of Max at santa Rosa Lake

Returning with the ball for another toss…

photo of Max and car at santa Rosa Lake

The biggest surprise was when Max went willingly on his own to the car and waited for me to catch up and let him in to get a drink and take a rest!

We made a quick stop at the Blue Hole – a popular dive spot in Santa Rosa, NM:

photo of the blue hole, santa rosa, nm

The Blue Hole is a 60' diameter natural spring that is 81' deep – a popular dive spot in Santa Rosa, NM.

photo of the blue hole, santa rosa, nm

The Blue Hole, Santa Rosa, NM. I didn’t realize that there were two divers down there when I took this photo…

And then it was back on the road, heading for Amarillo, TX.

photo of Max sleeping in the car

Driving Mr. Max… note the ball close to paw.

photo of I-40 in eastern new mexico

Almost out of New Mexico on I-40…

…and we made it safely to Amarillo, without incident.

And now, for something completely different:

While my homegirl, Diana, from Portland, Oregon was visiting, we took a day trip to El Paso to go to the Lucchese Boot Factory Store.  Lucchese has a reputation for the most comfortable, handmade cowboy boots, and Diana thought she wanted a pair.  I wasn’t planning on buying any boots…

photo of red cowboy boots

My view of my new Lucchese cowboy boots. Handmade, red lizard skin, with beautifully stitched black tops like those on the second pair that got away (see below).

Oh well…  sometimes, you just have to follow your heart.  Here are some that got away:

photo of Lucchese cowboy boots

These boots were “on sale” for $1100 at the Lucchese Factory Outlet Store in El Paso, Texas. They retail for a little over $2000! They were only a size 7 and this Cinderella couldn’t have fit into them even if she lopped off her toes! Of course, my wallet couldn’t fit them either...

photo of Lucchese cowboy boots

I really LOVED these boots, “on sale” for $1200 at the Lucchese Factory Outlet Store in El Paso, Texas. They retail for a little over $2600! Alas, another size 7…

photo of Lucchese cowboy boots

These “on sale” for $1400 boots caught Diana’s eye. They retail for a little over $2800! Note the beautiful hand tooled and dyed leather tops. (sorry about the fuzzy photo.)


Posted in Coffee, New Mexico, On the Road, playing with a poodle, Route 66, Texas, The Mother Road, traveling in a Honda Element, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Tumbleweeds are rolling: a chance encounter in the Black Range

After six weeks and six days in Silver City, NM, Max and I loaded up Tumbleweed and headed for home this morning.  Okay, I loaded Tumbleweed.  Max did the heavy panting and pacing – ready to make a mad dash for the car if I somehow “forgot” the poodle.

Tuesday night, my Silver City homegirls gave me a great sendoff dinner:  roast turkey with dressing and gravy (Ellen), roasted brussel sprouts with hazelnuts (my contribution), champagne (compliments of Sue), and ice cream for dessert. Elizabeth came for the preparations and a farewell, but left early due to allergies…

I had been packing and organizing the car all afternoon, and Max must have been having some sort of anxiety about it because he was (in my humble opinion) a pain in the ass for about an hour, before he settled into his usual routine when we all get together.

After hugs and more farewells to Ellen this morning – and vows to return again next winter – we headed downtown to the Three Dogs for my last hit of Silver City’s best java.  Today, I opted for the NOLA (New Orleans style iced coffee) and a cherry housemade poptart.  I said my farewells to Ron, who said he was already missing me, and we went to the dogpark so Max could get one last romp before the road.

His good friend, Jeremy, was there – a long, lean, tan-colored mixed breed (the same age as Max) who is a big goof.  They had a great time running from one end of the park to the other, wrestling in the grass, and just being two goofy overgrown pups together.

As I finally drove out of Silver City, heading east for NM 152 through the Black Range and over to I-25 North, I started crying.  I’ve really come to love Silver City, the vast, omnipresent blue skies, the brown hills, and the gradually greening trees.  Best of all, I’ve come to love my new friends, and the simple life that I carved out of my time there.

I sniffled and snuffled my way out of town, wiping my eyes and feeling a little silly… and as I turned onto 152 about 6 miles out of town, I began to smile.  My old Tumbleweed energy kicked in, and I was ready to make my way once again.

Route 152 through the Black Range is one of those twisting snakey mountain roads that I wrote about on last year’s trip.  As I wound my way up, down, and around, I couldn’t help but think of Rufus – that great and wondrous seeker of adventures and travel.  I think he’d love knowing that I have gone off on these gypsy rambles.

Just before 152 begins its last major descent on the eastern side of the Black Range, there’s a scenic turnout at Emery Pass.  I turned in and drove to the parking area, only to be surprised by a man and woman on horseback, each with a loaded pack horse.

I got out quickly – afraid they might be heading off before I could speak to them – and went over with my iPhone ready to snap a picture.

“I thought I was a Tumbleweed, but look at you two!” I said by way of greeting.  “Are the two of you out on your own, horse camping or what?”

Well, yes and no, as it turned out.  Seems that in the summer of 2008, Art Lamely took off with his horse, Big John, from Broken Bow, Nebraska, to see the US.  Along the way, he met Sue Hemming in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming.

She joined him, and the two have been traveling and living on horseback ever since.  They were in Silver City for two months while one of the horses recovered from tangling up in a wire fence.  I had even seen them once or twice but never realized they weren’t a couple of locals!

photo of Art Lamely and his horse, Big John

Art Lamely and his horse, Big John, at the Emery Pass overlook, Black Range, NM.

horses heading off down the road in the Black Range, NM

After they started out down the road, I got Max out for a little stretch and “walkabout” (translate: a pee break).  When we continued our way downhill, I passed Sue, Art, and the horses, and we all wished one another safe journeys and “happy trails.”  I have to say, seeing them really brightened my mood.

We stopped in Williamsburg, just outside of Truth or Consequences, for a late lunch of leftover turkey and dressing.  Max sat so nicely, that I just had to share my lunch with him…

After lunch, I took off my (sort of new) cowboy hat and put it on Max.  He was more than willing to let me take a couple of pix:

photo of Max, the standard poodle wearing a cowboy hat

I think I see that nasty varmint that tried to rustle our turkey!

photo of Max, the standard poodle, wearing a cowboy hat
photo of Max, the standard poodle, wearing a cowboy hat

This is definitely my good side!

Tonight, we are holed up in Albuquerque, and heading off to Amarillo, Texas tomorrow – the site of the infamous 2011 crash of the tumbleweeds…  I expect we’ll make it out the other side just fine.

Posted in Arizona, Black Range New Mexico, Coffee, Friends along the way, New Mexico, On the Road, playing with a poodle, Silver City, traveling in a Honda Element, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

worth 1,000 words?

We have no news to report from Silver City, except that Max is healing really well.  He’s up to his old tricks – bringing me the errant sock, my slippers or shoes (one by one), and the occasional toy as an enticement to play.

It’s great to see him running, jumping, spinning, and playing with other dogs at the dog park.  I don’t even really mind that he is snatching the above mentioned footwear.  It just shows me that he is back to himself again.

We just got back from today’s visit to the dog park, where he met another new friend.  Bella is a 2-year-old rescue dog who was visiting Silver City with her people from Rio Rancho – north of Albuquerque.  The dogs had fun and we people had a nice visit, so it was another good adventure.

On the way to the park, I stopped at Three Dogs for a latté.  This great little place was almost a daily habit when we were here last year, and it didn’t disappoint today.  As I got out of the car, a man came over and commented on how far from home I was.  We ended up talking for about 10 minutes about Honda Elements, travel, how I ended up in Silver City…  those Maine plates – or that gorgeous (albeit banged up looking) Poodleboy – will get a conversation going every time!

I just got my lenses for the iPhone today and took a couple of fisheye pix of Mr. Max.  Since I have no other news to report, I’ll share those pix, as well as one of my Silver City studio from the other morning.

photo of Max

What do you mean you want to sit here? I was here first! (not a fisheye pic!)

fisheye photo of Max by door

Are we going to the dogpark or not?

fishey photo of Max in kitchen

BIG DOG, small kitchen!

photo of kitchen table with breakfast and studio stuff

Breakfast with studio… It’s a good thing I don’t have company coming for dinner!

I also got my first set of Pimsleur Italian lessons the other day and am starting to listen to them for 30 minutes a day…

And how about an update on what I’ rading these days?  My friend, Sarah, sent me a box of  tools and other goodies from my island studio last week.  In the box, she included A Year with Hafiz.  I’ve been reading a poem at breakfast every morning.

When I was at White Sands National Monument, I bought a book titled Nobody’s Horses, about the wild horse roundup that took place there back in 1994.  I just finished it last night, and it was a fascinating read.  Well written, informative, emotional, and uplifting.

Before that, Zero Day, by David Baldacci satisfied my need for a good thriller…

So, until the next post, I hope these pix were worth 1,000 words!

Posted in Books to read, New Mexico, playing with a poodle, traveling in a Honda Element, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

An afternoon at the dog park…

Much to my surprise, we woke this morning to about 2″ of snow on the ground!  There’s a rain barrel outside my kitchen window and the water on the top of it was frozen…   I knew Max would like to get out in the snow, so I sent him out into the walled back courtyard while I made coffee and started breakfast.

After he came in, I offered him his breakfast, and he basically turned up his nose at it! For several days, I’ve had to hand feed him one or the other of his daily meals so I could get food into him and give him his antibiotic.  This morning, with one pill left to go I said, “Screw it!  I’m not hand feeding you any more.  If you don’t eat this, you can eat if for dinner – and get your pill then, too!”

He did not eat.

I, however, had a lovely breakfast of fried egg, toast, Greek yogurt with banana and kiwi, and two cups of coffee.

For the first time since Max had his run-in with the pickup truck, I got my cello out of its case to practice.   Needless to say, it was horribly out of tune.  Took me about 15 minutes to get it back into playing shape.  I spent about 45 minutes playing scales, and trying to get good sound and the right notes out of it.  It felt good to be playing, and I’m planning to get back into my daily routine again.

photo of Max looking out living room window

Max, watching the street this morning…

photo of Max on couch looking back at me

Can we go out now? Please???

Later – around 2:30 – I invited Max to go with me to the High Desert Animal Shelter about 2 miles from where we are staying so I could give them the portable crate that he has outgrown.  They were extremely grateful to have it, and I am happy to have lightened the load a bit in Tumbleweed!

After that, we headed over to the dog park for some play.  I had his favorite ball, and a new tug toy, which he was most anxious to have.  When we pulled up there were 6 or 8 dogs and their owners in the park, and I just didn’t dare let him in there with his still-healing wounds exposed.

So, we drove back here and got his red sweatshirt that I bought solely to protect those wounds.  I cut the hood off so nobody would have an unfair advantage (holding), and got it on him in the car, and we went back to play.

Once I released him, he was out of the car like a shot and at the gate ready to go in and get acquainted!  I had the ball in my pocket, and was prepared to leash him up and take him out if things seemed too rough.

That was not the case.

There were two dogs his size, a dachshund, a small white terrier, an Aussie, and a medium sized terrier, and they were all friendly, playful, well-behaved dogs.  Max was beside himself with joy at being in the park with a gang of new friends, and soon was leading them a merry chase!

After about 1/2 hour, the Aussie and terrier left with their owner; shortly after that, a guy came in with two miniature pinschers and a 10-month-old English Mastiff named Lola.  Lola weighs 119 pounds already, but was a gentle, delightful addition to the group.

I met a woman I met last year when we were here – Jane lived in Portland for many years, and she and her husband moved to Silver City to get away from the Maine winters.  Her two dogs – Jeremy and a girl whose name I forget, were well-matched with Max, and they had a good time playing together.

We stayed about an hour and a half, playing ball, running with the other dogs, and generally having a grand old time (Max, that is.  I spent my time talking and watching, occasionally going from one end of the park to the other to keep an eye on the play).  When I leashed Max up to go home, he walked willingly with me to the gate and hopped into the car.

He was pretty wiped out from his first real play session since before the accident.  When we came in, he headed to the kitchen for water, and was sidetracked by breakfast – still sitting in his bowl on the floor.  I guess fresh air and exercise really do build an appetite, because he stood there and ate it all, licking the bowl clean when he was done!

I’d say my guy is definitely on the mend, and I’m looking forward to daily sorties to the dog park – sweatshirt at the ready!

photo of stirfry

And for my friend, Carolyn, who wants some foodie posts like last trip: Dinner Saturday night – broccoli, garlic, onions, tofu stir fry over Jasmine rice. It was wonderful to make dinner after three weeks of travel!

Posted in Coffee, Friends along the way, New Mexico, playing with a poodle, Silver City, traveling in a Honda Element, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Update on the patient

After yesterday’s positive dog park experience, I was really looking forward to our training session today – and it was a really good one.

Gail is almost as good as our great trainer back in Maine, Diana Logan of Pet Connection Maine.  I mean, who can beat someone who has not one, but two, extremely well-behaved Standard Poodles?  And to top it all off, loves Max to pieces?  OK, I’m biased… but that does not lessen the fact that Diana is an amazing trainer.

photo of Diana Logan with Astro and Dory

Diana Logan holding a young Astro; Dory beside them. (I “borrowed” this photo from Diana’s Facebook page.)

So, Gail reinforced some of the things Max and I learned early on with Diana – things like clicking/treating when he turns in my direction, getting him to touch an offered hand for a click and reward, playing hide-and-seek and rewarding him for coming.

He’s a willing worker, and a fast study so he was zipping between us in no time as we called him back and forth.  As a matter of fact, he was bounding to Gail any time she said his name and a command (partly because she had different treats from me and he liked them, but also because he recognizes someone who “speaks dog!”)

She gave us a homework assignment for the week to work on getting him to pay more attention to me by playing games, playing hide-and-seek, using toys as well as treats to reward him.  Basically, reconditioning him to focus on me, and reconditioning me to be consistent and to keep him engaged at all times.

She also gave me some insights into why recall can “fail.”  If your dog doesn’t consistently come when called it can be because he has perceived it as “punishment” and that could be as simple as taking him away from smelling something like a bush or a tree.  What to us seems like a reasonable request may appear to the dog as punishment or deprivation of a pleasant experience (sniffing new spots, for example).

I told her how sometimes at home when we are at Mariner’s Park, as we get a certain distance from the car, he will run off and refuse to come near me.  That’s because he doesn’t want our play to end.

She gave me some good tips on how to keep him coming, without spoiling his fun.  For example, when I leash him up to go to the car, keep playing games with him – a tug toy, ball, touch and reward, etc. – so that the playtime is extended and he doesn’t feel deprived.

All in all, a great session, and I look forward to working with him this week on our assignment, and returning next Monday for another class.

After that, we went to the vet…  Seems Max still has some healing to go.  The stitches are staying in longer – the vet says they are self dissolving and not to worry about them.  He still has a little swelling around the larger cut on his head.

The two big road rash scabs are another matter.  Seems the one on his shoulder is doing okay, and will more than likely continue to heal on its own.  The one on his back, according to the doc, is “dead” and may need to be debrided.  If so, he will need to be put out while they do it, and may need stitches.

We are returning in a week for a followup, and in the meantime, I have a spray antibiotic/cortisone to use on the scrapes every 12 hours to help them heal.  I’m hoping that the one on his back heals up on its own and my guy doesn’t need more procedures.

We took a walk around the neighborhood this afternoon, and there were two young boys, maybe 10 years old, in the park about a block away.  They came over to meet Max – “Is that a poodle? Is he or she friendly?”  Then “What happened to him?”  When I told them he was hit by a car, they gave him a LOT of sympathy.

We spent a fun 10 minutes talking while they patted Max, and asked me what tricks he could do.  Most of the time, (after greeting the boys enthusiastically) Max sat patiently by my side.

I showed them some of his tricks like “BIG UP!” where I say that and he springs straight up in the air off all four feet.  They liked that one a lot.

Max shook hands all around, and we headed off for home again.

And that is Monday in a nutshell…

Posted in New Mexico, playing with a poodle, Silver City, traveling in a Honda Element, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments