Saturday, August 30, 2008

Instant Karma Gets Me

Either someone is looking out for me or I'm cursed. I don't know which.

Instant karmas gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head

I mentioned the car issues and the dog bite that happened on vacation. Well, today I was using DH's car because he needed my car for something and my beloved bike almost had a tragedy.

My car has a trailer hitch that we use to attach the bike rack. DH's car has a bike rack on the roof. I spent a long time putting the bike on the car. I removed it several times to be sure that I got it on there just right. Still, I was very nervous about the situation. I had plans to attend a Bike MS team event about 30 miles from home. The whole drive to Sanford I kept on leaning forward to look at front wheel and confirm that it was still safely attached to the car but apparently, I someone did not secure my bike properly. I was literally two houses away from my destination when The Incident occurred. I turned the corner and my bike became dislodged and was hanging on the roof of my car at a 90 degree angle, attached by only it's rear wheel. That is bad. Very bad. I flagged down a teammate and with his help I was able to get the bike off the car. In the process, we saw that the wheel rim had some fairly major damage.

Fortunately, the team mechanic (how cool is it that our team has a mechanic?!) was on site and he said that a wheel from 9-speed Trek, like, say, the Trek 2200 that DH has been using, could used on My 10-speed Madone while the damaged wheel was replaced. The ride that I had planned on joining was leaving at this point but someone said that a group doing a shorter route was leaving in an hour. I went home, got the Trek 2200 and went back to Sanford. The mechanic and the group had waited for me. Our awesome mechanic, Fred, took the wheel from the 2200 and and put it the Madone and he moved the bike cassette to the replacement as well.

At this all but one member of the group left. Bob stayed with me with the plan that we would do a pursuit of the other team members when my bike was ready. Bob and I left and all was well for about a block at which time I realized that I could not change from the little ring to the big ring. We went back and Fred was still there. He did a temporary fix on the derailleur, which was bent when the incident occurred.

Bob and I left and were able to catch the other group. I had a nice ride. I must have looked just the tiniest bit stressed during all of the pre-ride chaos because when we got back, someone said to me, "Did the ride help?" I said, "Yes!"

After getting some recommendations on local bike shops that are good with wheels (wheels are kind of a speciality thing and not all shops are good with them), I hauled the broken wheel to a shop in Cary.

How can I help you?

My wheel has had a bad day (hands wheel)

Oh! It did have a bad day, didn't it. What happened? (examines wheel)

It was all my fault. The bike was on top of the car -- until it wasn't.

We've have had a lot of problems with these rims cracking. I see other cracks. (points out cracks in several places where the spokes and rim meet). You may have caused the final issue with it but it was coming. Let's try a warranty repair on this.

I am now crossing my fingers that the repair is completed before Bike MS and Cycle North Carolina.

Was it good karma that this happened near my final destination at a time when a bike mechanic was on site or bad karma that it happened at all? Blessed or cursed?

Monday, August 25, 2008

The ABCs of our North Carolina mountain vacation

Last week we had the opportunity to go to the North Carolina mountains for several days. DH and I have been wanting to get out of town but with Hannah's health issues we have not wanted to board her so we were looking for a place to go that welcomed Hannah and Emma. A friend of mine very generously let us stay at her house in western North Carolina. The setting was beautiful! We cannot thank her enough for her kindness.

On our vacation, we wanted to have some activities for the Girls as well as for us. DH went kayaking and I went biking and the Girls went to Yappy Hour. It was a wonderful and relaxing vacation and we had some adventures along the way.

A is for Automotive
B is for Biking
C is for Canine

Automotive Adventures

We left home on Wednesday morning and took I-40 west from Raleigh, through Greensboro and Winston-Salem. Everything was going great until the approach to Asheville. We got just past the exit for Old Fort and I-40 stopped. We were in the Outback. The Outback has a standard (not automatic) transmission. We were on a 6% grade approaching the Eastern Continental Divide.

Stop. Roll. Stop. Roll. Stop. Roll.

Time passes and after about 45 minutes. We are still several miles to the next exit. Bad smells emit from the car. Paper factory smells. The odor reminds me of a time not so long ago when we ended up replacing the clutch. Way back in... June.

Bad things happened to the clutch. The smell gets stronger. Stress levels begin to rise. We pulled off on the shoulder and traffic inches forward.

I pulled the mutt mats out of the car on the shoulder in the shade of the car and the girls laid down. After several phone calls for advice, we determined that after the clutch had cooled (smoking clutch, never a good sign), we could proceed to Cullowhee. We were told to let the clutch cool overnight and see how things were in the morning. The next morning, the clutch was worse. We went back to Asheville (50+ miles each way), dropped the car at the Subaru dealer for repair. We had just replaced the clutch in June after 85,000+ miles on it. We got a rental RAV4. Went back, goofed off. That afternoon we got a message that the car was ready (woo hoo!). It turned out that it was the clutch but linkage between the clutch itself and the pedal.

The next morning, DH offered to do the round trip to swap the cars back. He left me with Hannah and Emma. On his way back to Asheville in the RAV4, a rock hit the window and broke it. Oh. My. Gosh. I think that we were both wondering if things could go downhill from there.

Biking Adventures

I was able to get some nice mountain rides in during our stay in Cullowhee. Thanks to the folks at Motion Makers bike shop in Sylva. They posted lots of routes and I used several of them -- including the Tuesday Night Ride from Sylva to Balsam (which I did on Friday morning) and Caney Fork, which I did every other day up there since we were staying near Caney Fork. Below is the profile for the Caney Fork route.

The scenery on all of three routes was just amazing.

On Saturday morning I wanted something a bit longer so I tried Caney Fork-John's Creek. Mistake. Big Mistake. I was riding up John's Creek which is pretty steep so I was going about 12 mph. About a third of the way up John's Fork, two Jack Russell Terriers started to chase me. I was able to to pick it up to about 14 mph but that was not enough. They were not chasing me for fun. They were chasing me for breakfast. Barking. Snarling. Biting. Yes, biting me! One of them got me in the right calf. After I got away from they I rode for several minutes more and stopped to check the damage. My leg was really stratch up and already starting to bruise. I continued up John's Creek and when I went turn around for the descent, I checked my leg again and it was starting to bleed. I rinsed it off with my water bottle and thought about looking for the number on the mailbox near the JRTs. When I approached that area, though one of the terriers started to chase me again. I noticed his collar wablue but was busy trying to avoid a second bite so I did not get the house number.. It's developed into a really large bruise. Jackson County Animal Control was called. Mostly I want to make sure that the dogs both are up-to-date on rabies. I don't want to do a rabies series, thankyouverymuch.

Canine Adventures

When we first got to my friend's place in Cullowhee, Hannah was a bit put out. Part of the issue was that it was getting late so the lighting was not great and another part, I'm sure, is that she is pretty sensative and with the car issues, I'm sure that she knew that we were not 100% into vacation mode just yet.

On Thursday morning, though, Hannah was much better. We dealt with the car on Thursday morning and when we got back we took the Girls to Dillsboro. Hannah and Emma got into the water near the Tuckaseegee River where Dillsboro has a dog park. Hannah was very happy to get her feet wet. They got to go to Mountain Dog Bakery and I got to go to Dillsboro Chocolate Factory.

On Friday, DH did the car exchange while the Girls and I remained at the house. The driveway to the house is quite steep and there is a beautiful creek at the bottom. Hannah loves loves loves the water and I thought that she would enjoy the creek. The three of us went outside and I started down the driveway. Hannah and Emma followed. Then decided that she Emma did not want to come down the driveway. Hannah and I continued down to the creek and Emma waited. She was like, "I'll be on the porch, OK?"

Emma stops and watches us go down the driveway.

Hannah continues down to the creek.

On Friday evening, Hannah and Emma took us to Yappy Hour at Mountain Dog Bakery. Both Girls scored some additional treats. Then on Saturday, while DH was kayaking, they waded in the Nantahala. Both Hannah and Emma really enjoyed that.

Despite some, uh, challenges -- we had a great vacation. I think that all of us are already ready to go back!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Between a Rock and a Raft Place

On the last day of our vacation in the North Carolina mountains, I went on a guided trip down the Nantahala (The Nanty). I had been on the Nanty several times before, but I wanted to be with a group. I joined a trip run by the Natahala Outdoor Center (NOC) (I took my first kayak class with NOC two years ago). The Nanty is a fun river with class II and III rapids. Rapids are classified from I being the easiest to VI often being fatal. I currently can handle up to most class III rapids, especially when someone can tell me the easiest route to take.

There were four members in our party: guide Michael, husband and wife team of Doug and Mary, and myself. It was a beautiful warm sunny day. Of course, being a dam released river, the water was very cold. The water is cold primarily because it has spent several years at the bottom of a reservoir before being released from the dam. You must use the appropriate cold water gear in case you become separated from your boat and become a "swimmer".

The Nanty is a popular river for kayakers AND rafts. At times, there can be a solid line of rafts going down the river at any given time. Rafts, however, can be the bane of kayakers. Often, the people in a raft don't have control of their raft. Some rafts will try to purposely run down kayaks (this happened to me several times that day). And worst of all, a kayak can get stuck under a raft. This is why kayakers call rafts "floating undercuts".

An undercut is rock along the river bank that has been eroded at its base by the main current of the river. Fast moving water is flowing under the rock, and since it's in the main current, anything in the river is drawn towards it. This is a very dangerous place since objects like kayaks can get pinned in the undercut, and the person in the kayak may not be able to get out of the boat. Unless you have gills, it is not an oxygen rich environment. Therefore, since kayaks can get pinned under rafts, the rafts are "floating undercuts".

Our group was happily going down the river, when our guide Michael suggested that we try to get into a particular eddy. What is an eddy? A eddy is a calm spot on the river that forms behind something like a rock. When water goes around an obstruction like a rock, it creates a vacuum behind the rock. So water in the eddy is actually coming upstream. When going down a river, you go into eddies to take a break.

I didn't hit the eddy, so I went for the one right after it. A raft was leaving that eddy and appeared to be going downstream. It wasn't. I was between a rock and the raft and flipped over, so I was then upside down between the rock and the raft. I tried to roll myself back up a couple of times, but the raft was in my way. I bailed out of my kayak, and ended up UNDER the raft. A few seconds later, I popped up on the other side of the raft. By now Michael had paddled over to me, I grabbed back of his boat, and he took me to shore. After Michael arrived on the scene, rafters got my boat and paddle, paddled over to me, and had me get into their raft. The raft guide bailed out the water, had me get in the kayak on the raft's edge (balancing on the edge while trying to get the spray skirt on), and launch into the water from the raft. And I had to be quick since we were approaching another rapid. I think the guide would have pushed me off of the raft if I took 10 seconds more. Pretty cool. So rafts CAN be a good thing on the river.

A little later, we are all going single file down a rapid. Doug flipped over. I made the mistake of following the same line down the river and was watching him, and I flipped over. And behind me, Mary flipped over. I was upside down and the river bottom was banging my shoulder. But happily I rolled myself back up a few seconds later. By this time Doug and Mary were out of their boats. Being able to roll yourself back upright in current when you did not intend to flip is called a "combat roll".

The last big rapid on the river is the Nantahala Falls, a class III+ (or III depending on who does the classification) rapid. There's a viewing area where people can watch the carnage and professional photographers are setup to take your picture as you run the falls.

I successfully ran the falls the first time I did it, and hadn't done it successfully the subsequent times. I was having a good day and was feeling good in my boat, so it looked like I would have a better outcome. I made it over the hardest part of the falls. Great since that was where you get your picture taken. I am in pictures 4, 5, 6, and 7 (I couldn't get links directly to the photos).

At the bottom, I lost my balance and flipped over. But I did a quick roll and was back up in no time. Since I didn't swim and chase after gear, I would consider that a good run.

I had a great day on the river. I ended up with three combat rolls (and compliments for each), I ran the falls without swimming, and I launched off of a raft.

Monday, August 18, 2008

To cujo: defined

Cujo verb (cujoing, cujoed)
  1. foam at mouth in effort to forcibly eject offending pill : Hannah cujoed her melatonin.
Origin: DH, related to Stephen King book of the same name

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday with Jimmy V

Yesterday was the third annual Jimmy V Ride for Research. I've participated in the event all three years. Each year, more and more people have participated. I think that it's become one of the top five or six cycling Raleigh-area cycling events of the year. I think some people come more for the social aspect than the riding.

Before the ride started, Nick Valvano, CEO of The V Foundation, said a few words. He said that he had forgotten that people in the Triangle are very sensitive to colors and indicated that the V Foundation might reconsider the light blue -- almost UNC blue -- color of the jersey. Since Jim Valvano was the NC State Wolfpack basketball coach and NCSU is a more of a red school, that's important!

The event is very well organized. This year they did much better with cycling-specific rest stops.

I met Chris at the start area and we rode the first leg with some folks from Team CBC until about the hill to Davis Drive. After that, we were with David, Larry and the Cheetahs. At Wilsonville, we lost Larry and gained Fred. Most of our group was going on the "75 mile" (aka 68.something mile) route and we kept going at Apex Firestation but David pulled off to wait for Larry. Our group continued on to the end of the first loop and picked up an woman who has done a few Ironman competions along the way. For a short time, Tom was with us as well. We were down to eight riders in our group for the second loop which took us to the hills and traffic of Lake Wheeler Road.

As always, I enjoyed riding with Fred and Chris. This was our second week in a row with the Cheetahs. We're going to have to consider formal introductions!

I find the routes to be somewhat unremarkable. After finishing the my ride yesterday I said, "I still don't like Lake Wheeler!"

The only negative that I have, other than my grumblings about Lake Wheeler Road, is that if the route is 70 miles why call it 75 and if the shorter loop is 46 miles, why call it 50?

Saturday night with Live

On Saturday night, DH and I went to see Collective Soul, Blues Traveler and Live at Regency Park. DH had a good time at the Wilco concert last week so he went and got tickets for this show last Tuesday.

Collective Soul was first. Overall I think that their set was pretty low energy. I'm not sure that it was entirely their fault. I think that the first slot was a tough one and the crowd still filtering in didn't help any. They played most of their hits in their time on stage -- just over 45 minutes. They sounded good. The one song that I did not like was one from Afterwards sung but Joel Kosche. I had not realized that Ed Roland, Collective Soul's lead singer, had Steve Parry hair -- but blond!

After Collective Soul, there wasa loonnnggg transition of 30+ minutes between acts. You'd think that they would have practiced that...

Blue Traveler was next. Their set ran for about an hour and was very enjoyable. John Popper was amazing on the harmonica. I'm not sure when he had time to breath between long passages on the harmonica and his fast rap-like singing. DH ask if I knew were they were from and I said, "Margaritaville." The real answer is Princeton, NJ. Of course they played both Run Around and Hook. They had good engery and crowd started to really get into the show. I thought it odd when John Popper turned his back to the crowd and took a smoke break three-quarters of the way through the set. I guess it was supposed to be a keyboard solo but it ended up just being a smoke break.

After another lengthy transition, Live came out for their set.

Live played for over an hour. Live did a great job. Of course they played I Alone, Lightening Crashes, All Over You, Heaven and Sophia. The band had a lot of stage presence and Ed Kowalczyk, the lead singer, did great. They sounded good. John Popper from Blues Traveler came out and did one song with Live as well. The crowd was into it to the point that we had Drunken Dance Guy in front of us who we thought might hurt himself.

DH said that he enjoyed himself but felt a little bit old. Both Collective Soul and Live introduced songs as "from way back in 199x." The crowd was mostly our age and he said that it had a little bit of nostalgia tour feel to it. I told him that if he wanted nostalgia tour music, we could always get tickets to see Belinda Carlisle, ABC and Flock of Seagulls in the Regeneration Tour. He said that he'd pass, thanks.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Meme -- tagged again

Steph has tagged me! I sort of saw it coming when Angela was tagged and she tagged Steph. I wasn't able to hide quickly enough though so I've brainstormed to come up with something worth writing about to write

The meme:

A meme is basically a list of things about me (hence the name). The stated subject is "6 UN-spectacular things about me."

And it comes with few rules, as follows:

1. Link the person who tagged you
2. Mention the rules on your blog
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours
4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged
6. What? No rule number six? Who made this thing up? This is a meme of sixes!

Six Unspectacular Things About Me:
  1. I lick the bowl. I've been known to offer to bake things -- like, say, chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting -- because I want to lick the bowl. I don't even care about the finished product, I just want cleanup duty!
  2. I do drive stick. Just after I graduated from college, my Chevette died. Have you ever seen a car with an automatic transmission buck like a bucking bronco? It's not pretty. I looked at some used cars but it was not much more money for me to get a new Honda Civic hatchback (red, of course!) with a four speed manual transmission. I did not test drive the car because I did not drive stick. My dad taught me to drive stick on that car.
  3. One time, in band camp... (the rest of the quote, forgetaboutit) I used to be a band geek. I played the flute (except when I was a flag color guard member). When we moved from Iowa, were flutist played flute in marching band and marching bands marched at halftime and that was pretty much it -- to New Jersey where they thought a zillion flutes in a marching band sounded like a swarm of bees so most flutists were actually flags and marching bands competed, and oh yeah, marched at half time too. My New Jersey high school did have a band camp where we allegedly learned our fall routine. I can still remember parts of the flag routine for Rhapsody in Blue.
  4. I enjoy reading the boards on The Fool. The Motley Fool brings out my inner cheapskate
  5. I'm constantly surprised by the generosity of e-friends. People who I've met in person only briefly, if ever, have freely shared their knowledge and given support to me too many times to count. It's moving and it restores my faith in the kindness of humans. I feel fortunate to have met them.
  6. I miss the newspaper. Yes, it's old media but it makes me sad when I see our pathetic little paper these days. The fact that the publisher doesn't seem to realize that Charlotte is not local to Raleigh. To most people local indicates within a short distance. A quick look at Webster's seems to confirm this: "primarily serving the needs of a particular limited district." Charlotte is nearly a three hour drive from Raleigh -- about 175 miles. Not local.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hannah Progress Report, Week of August 11

Hannah has been doing well. She was due for blood work again last week and we have the results back. When I spoke with Hannah's primary care physician, Dr. S said that she was, "Stunned."

"Good news -- all the liver values are back within normal values and the BUN has dropped from 45 to 38."

June 3
2821 1901
June 4
June 182108505
July 8476173
August 710966

June 3 29 1.0
June 252.0
June 18382.1
July 8451.8
August 7381.4

Hannah is continuing to take a lot of different medications and supplements. We discussed stopping the FortiFlora when we run out of that and repeating her blood work 30 days after discontinuing the FlortiFlora. Then we will stop the Actigall, do blood work and then, after she has been on the Denamarin for a total of six months, we'll consider stopping that as well. Dr. S said that Hannah will continue the melatonin and oil supplements for life as well as the osteoarthritis medications.

Hannah's current medications: osteoarthritis (Tramadol 50 mg (3x daily), Zubrin 200mg), urinary tract infection (Amoxicillin 500mg, FortiFlora probiotic), Denamarin 425 mg, Actigall 300mg, Famotidine (10mg, 3x daily); melatonin (3mg, 2x daily); food prepared at home under the guidance of our veterinarian

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Our grape tomato plants are going crazy. We've been getting more than a quart of tomatoes every day and that's at lot of grape tomatoes for two people to eat. I've already made several batches of pizza sauce for the freezer and today I made some oven roasted tomatoes using a recipe from Vegetable Harvest by Patricia Wells. I've made this recipe before but I had forgotten just how good it is.

Oven-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

2 pounds fresh cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved
Fine sea salt to taste
A pinch of confectioners’ sugar
2 sprigs fresh thyme, stemmed

  • Preheat the oven to the lowest possible setting, about 200 degrees F.
  • Arrange the tomato halves side by side on a baking sheet. Sprinkle each side lightly with salt, pepper and confectioner's sugar. Scatter the thyme leaves over the tomatoes. Place in the oven and roast until the tomatoes are very soft, about 1 hour. Turn the tomatoes, baste with the juices, and cook until meltingly tender, and reduced to about half their size, about 2 hours total. Check the tomatoes from time to time: They should remain moist and soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool thoroughly.
  • Transfer the tomatoes to a jar, cover with the cooking juices, cover securely, and refrigerate, for up to 1 week. Use in salads, on sandwiches, for pasta, or anywhere you want a rich, pure, tomato flavor.


On Friday night DH and I went to see Wilco in concert at the Amphitheatre at Regency Park in Cary. It was a great show. The group had a lot of stage presence and did an impressive amount of improve -- especially during Hoodoo Voodoo and Spiders.

The concert was contained nearly two dozen songs and ran over two hours in length. During several of the songs, a horn section called Total Pro horns.

Some of the more memorable things about the concert
  • Jeff Tweedy's dry sense of humor
  • dualing guitars during Hoodoo Voodoo
  • The improv improv. During one song -- Walken -- a guitar solo was about to start and a string broke. The guitar player held his hands wide open and kind of shrugged to indicate, "What now?" Jeff Tweedy said, "Start over." The guitar player scrambled for a minute and then ended up doing keyboard solo
As I said earlier, Wilco was great -- even the N&O approved in their review -- the venue, however, was tough. The line of site was there is not very good. I think that it was designed as place to see the North Carolina Symphony. There is not enough slope the the lawn. Seated, the sound was muffled and standing, the sound was better but the stage was still not easily visible. We saw a lot of the taller people in front of us.

DH and I agree, we will definitely be seeing Wilco again!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bikefest 100 miles

Today I rode in the Tarwheels Bikefest -- the 13th Annual Rural Heritage Tour. The route goes through rural North Carolina and winds through Orange, Caswell and Person counties. The weather was great! August in North Carolina and only in the 80s with low humidity to boot!

The ride started in downtown Hillsborough, NC near the county courthouse. The 100k and the 100 mile routes start out the same but split after 25 miles. The first section was a bit crazy. The roads were clogged with cyclists that came out for this popular ride. I wasn't able to find all of my "peeps" in the start area so Jim, Fred, Chris and I set out on our own. Jim was quickly frustrated with the congested roads and he went ahead but the throng of cyclists kept Fred, Chris and I from following. I just tried to stay in contact with those two and figured that we'd regroup at the first rest stop. The final five miles or so before the first stop, we caught up with David and Doug who we had been looking for at the start area. That was good news and bad news. I had hoped that David could be talked into doing the 100 mile route with us but he said no, he was a 100k in his immediate future.

We regrouped and found Jim again so after the first rest stop, it was Doug, Jim, Fred, Chris and myself. Between the first and second rest stop some one yelled out to us, "Do you have a CO2 cartridge?!" We did so we stopped so that they could fix their flat. While we were stopped, The Cheetah Girls, a group of cyclists that included four women in cheeta print jerseys, passed us. Doug kept calling them the leopard girls but he was corrected by them! Of course once we got onto our bikes, we ended up chasing to catch the Cheetah Girls group. We caught them just before the second rest stop. They left before us and we ended up chasing again, passed them again and so on. Things were a little bit more hilly than rolling after the third rest stop and we decided that we weren't sure how much we like Person County!

The rest of the ride continued more or less the same way. At the third stop we left after the Cheetah Girls again and passed them on the road and the same thing happened at the fourth stop. By the time we got to the fourth stop, about 83 miles into the ride, we were starting to flag. In the next time miles, I started to worry a little bit about (1) being dropped by the group or (2) holding the group up. I felt better after talking to Fred. He took a pull at the front and after his pull I thanked him.

"I have to keep the pulls short now. I'm getting tired," he replied.

"I'm glad I'm not the only one!" I said.

There were a few hills in the last section and a water-only stop at mile 92 (which we skipped) and then we were back in Hillsborough!

We hung out for a minute at the finish and took a few pictures and then I headed to Weaver Street Market for a roll and the cup of coffee that I didn't have earlier!

It was a good ride.

Friday, August 8, 2008

In search of a petsitter

DH and I are planning a trip that does not involve Hannah and Emma. This is particularly problematic since Hannah can't really be boarded due to her medications and ongoing geriatric challenges. We think that a pet sitter is the way to go and our vet agrees.

I contacted two pet sitters about private boarding last week. We saw that first pet sitter yesterday. DH's first comment after leaving was, "Oh my!" A few minutes later he followed up with "The girls would not be happy there."

We had an appointment to meet with the pet sitter but were unsure of the address. I had called twice to confirm the address and not heard back. I was a little concerned about the phone thing but thought we should go ahead and follow up. I written down something like 24032 and it was 2432. When we got there, we saw a house in disrepair. There was a car parked in the driveway with out of state plates and a car parked on the front law with out of state plates (different state). There was also a broken upholstered recliner in front (trash?) and piles of "stuff" in the car port.

Someone was looking out the window but made no move to get up. I thought this was a bit odd since we did have an appointment.

We went to the front door and rang the bell. DH said, this is the wrong place and started to turn around to leave when someone answered. DH said we aren't sure if we have the right place, we are supposed to meet a pet sitter. At this point young woman stepped forward and said, "I do pet sitting."

We went into the living room, hard wood floors, very scratched up. Two fancy new computers.

The sitter pointed to a dog behind the gate in the kitchen and said he's new today. He's not comfortable with the situation yet. She pointed at a few (3-4?) dogs on the enclosed back porch and said we can put your crates in here or else they can sleep on the bedding in the corner. Several dogs looked out at us. The place was tiny. With the two computers, four people plus me and DH, we could hardly turn around.

The place was all torn up. We were not expecting luxury accommodations but we thought that rather than pointing at the dogs the sitter might have said, "Sam is new today. He's still getting comfy."

"Charlie has been with us all week. He's a sweetheart but can be a handful if he doesn't get his exercise!"

Instead, the pet sitter used no dog names, no interaction/touching. I don't know what's up with the place but I'm glad that I insisted on seeing it first. DH thought I was wasting our time and I had to bribe him with a promise of latte on the way home.

When we got home, I contacted my other top choice again. DH was happy to hear this.

"Good! Last night was Scary House II. It was odd. The house looked like it was going to fall down, but was filled with computers."

I understand that a lot of pet sitters have problems with the professionalism thing but I had expected a little bit more. Heck, our regular kennel knows Hannah and Emma and interact with the dogs way more than that!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hannah turns 14!

Happy birthday Hannah!

Gosh, just a few months ago Hannah was so sick that I had serious concerns about whether or not Hannah would make it to 14. Since then, she has improved and hit a plateau. She remains feisty, often exhibiting her opinion about the food that I make for her and he continues to make it clear that she will accept the pills but not like it.

I thought that I'd share some pictures of Hannah as a youngster. All of these photos were taken before we went digital so I had to scan them in. The first photo was taken on Hannah's first birthday. Hannah came to live with us when she was about 10 months old so she was still pretty new to our household when this photo was taken. She did not like the party hat very much. She was insulted and we never made her wear a hat again.

The second photo was taken in the spring of 1999. Hannah loves the water and we've always enjoyed going to the beach with her. In this photo, she is anticipating a ball being thrown to her.

The final two photos are of Hannah doing agility. After getting her CGC, Hannah competed in flyball and then moved on to agility. The first is of her doing the tire and the second shows her exiting the tunnel. Hannah and I really enjoyed agility. I was sorry when Hannah had to retire from the sport but I still feel that it was the right thing to do. We rehabbed her ACL once and went back to competing and it started to act up again. We rehabbed her ACL a second time and decided that it was best for her to focus on being a companion rather than a competitor.

As you can tell, Hannah is a very special dog. I'm sure that all of you have picked up on how much I love her and how happy DH and I are that she has been a part of our lives.