Thursday, February 25, 2010

Home, Sweet Home

Garrison and I departed Stephen and Nicole Smith's house in Albuquerque this morning at 7:45am. We drove all the way back to Casa Fairview... and it took us 820 miles and 13 hours.

I decided to head south and drive near Phoenix rather than stay on I-40 and I'm really glad we did. The drive was beautiful. We drove down the 17 and saw Sedona off in yonder distance. Then Garmina took us over on the 74 ... the Carefree Highway and we drove parallel to the 10 for quite a ways, but it was gorgeous, historic and GREEN. All of the rain the southwest has received in the first few months of the year had brought a beautiful green hue to the land. Add into that visual mix the iron rich red soil and the sights were stunning.

However, I'm a tired woman. Garrison is a zonked pup. We're glad to be home for less than 24 hours since we take off to San Diego tomorrow in order to compete in the Silver Bay Kennel Club dog show and decorate/man the Meet the Breed booth with volunteers.

Oh.... and Go USA - what a great showing in the Vancouver Winter Olympics so far!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mini-ponies or sheep? Gman doesn't care.

Katina, her dog Macy, the Gman and I traipsed across the road this morning to go and visit "Pony" (aka Shadow). Shadow will be 29 years old in April and Katina has had him 26 years and the Pony and I also go way back to when Katina and I first became friends. I used to come up and visit for weeks on end and Katina and I would show horses together.

Katina's always had dogs and she encouraged me to get a Bouvier 12 years ago knowing so many different breeds and knowing my personality. I am forever grateful for her insight into pups and Pilar.

Because of the various dogs Katina's had in her life, Shadow is VERY used to having dogs around. And generally in life, Shadow isn't phased by much. He's an amazing equine and I was so excited for Garrison to meet him today. Garrison had never met a horse or pony before, only sheep. Because of his instinct, I chose to keep Gman on his leash for this introduction.... just in case. Just in case.

Katina and Pony have had a very successful and long relationship and when she yells out his name Pony comes a-trotting. Gman was intrigued by Shadow and knew it was a smell he hadn't smelled up close before... and was slightly intimidated by the size of this new beast. After it was all said and done, the Gman loved meeting Shadow. Gman loved tasting Shadow's grain. Gman kissed him and sniffed him but stayed wary of Shadow. He was a new beast and opinionated when Garrison got too close to his grain bucket. Garrison backed off much like a pup backs off from an older dog keeping pack order. Garrison IS the size of a mini-pony, after all.

Now then... every once in a while, Garrison would pull me away from Shadow to inspect the other horses in the pasture eating hay. Garrison saw them from afar and the horses would notice him, but were more intrigued by the new bales of hay Tom the pasture owner provides.

"Hmmm... those beasts look much bigger than me. I think I'll keep my distance. For now. Maybe."

Garrison kept walking around Shadow and was happy to be out in a field. Macy knows these pastures like the back of her paws and does not have a strong herding instinct. She would rather run and chase and sniff out holes that might have rodents than chase horses. But girls can be rather vixen-ish and girls know that they can often get boys into trouble.

Katina had planned on treating me to a massage (aka "a little slice of heaven") so we couldn't stay at the pasture nor take a long pasture walk. I also wasn't too keen on having Mr. Show Pony The Gman get all muddy and junk while sploshing through melting snow and ice from the system that blew through this past weekend. But we had a nice open area and we were walking back toward the pasture gate. I let Garrison off of his leash for a quick romp in the open space.

Macy wasn't ready to leave. Not just yet. She wanted to show Garrison the mini-ponies in a smaller pasture and enticed him into a high-speed game of chase.

At first Garrison didn't see the mini-ponies around the smaller barn. He was having a blast chasing Macy and running at full speed stretching his legs after days and days of road tripping and dog showing and keeping calm and composed. His Happy Puppy grin was blazing across his face as Macy ran around and around and headed back down the small hill toward the mini-pony barn.

And then... Gman caught a whiff and a sight of the mini-ponies. I saw that look in his eyes and the curiosity and excitement whaft over his body in a flash and my heart jumped into my throat. Katina said, "Ummm... I don't think there's a hole in the gate in that lane that he can crawl under....."

And Garrison proved her wrong.

Then Katina said, "Ummm... I don't think there's a hole in the fence into that pasture..."

And, again, Garrison proved her wrong.

I knew in that moment that all hell was going to break loose and I was very uncertain of the outcome.

The ponies had seen Garrison, but they were used to having some dogs around. This, however, was not just a dog. This was a Southern California Grey Bear Dog beast-like wolf looking thing and they were intrigued, too.

We couldn't see Garrison as he sploshed through the muddy creek. (So much for keeping Mr. Show Pony The Gman clean. UGH.) And then... I heard it. The high pitched bark of all Happy Puppy-ness that I've heard many, many times when working sheep.

The one bark. The one high pitched bark made me cuss out loud and cued in my head the music from The Man From Snowy River - the exciting wild horse chase music. That... and the screeching violins from Psycho.

All of this was happening in a matter of seconds. Macy thought it was hysterical and wondered if she could go off and chase Garrison. She decided against it.

Katina was up and over the first gate and I was in hot pursuit as I watched from afar as Garrison went on a HUGE "go by" as the 4 mini-ponies were running full speed ahead... and Garrison was right on their hooves.

Would the horses run into the wire fencing?

Would the horses kick Garrison and hurt him?

How big was the pasture and would Garrison ever calm down and bring the herd back to me?

Would this herding dog of mine in a huge pasture with only 4 animals to round up EVER listen to me?

Grrr... I know I don't have a herding title on this dog yet because he gets too excited with small-sized flocks (or herds, as today proved). There weren't 40-100 horses to round up. Oh no. The 30 or so regular sized horses were in the OTHER pasture. There were only 4 mini-ponies and they were close to the size of sheep and Garrison wasn't intimidated by them.

I watched the ponies turn back down the fence line and he got in between them and the wire fence. He was turning them back to the paddock as I called his name. Something happened. Garrison rolled over twice in the field and never missed a step in staying on the ponies. The ponies jumped the muddy creek. Garrison sailed over the muddy creek and corraled the ponies back into their paddock. He was right in the midst of them pushing them through the gate. No ponies were kicking... just shoving. Garrison was no longer barking or yipping or moving swiftly. No. He was channeling his up-close-and-personal experience with 30 sheep at Judy Vanderford's Sylmar ranch and keeping the ponies off of the fence and was about to run and block the gate when I yelled, "LIE DOWN!" Miraculously, Garrison HEARD me and dropped to the ground. Katina was able to put her hands on his neck and get ahold of his collar.

Legs and undercarriage caked with muddy snow and more than likely manure. However, no signs of blood, rips, tears, scratches, kicks or trauma to dog or ponies. Our hearts started to settle back down to a normal rate.

Gman was panting hard and heavy and had that look on his face like, "Did you see me show off my herding skills? Did you see that I brought them back? Did you see how fast I was going?"

"Garrison... that is NOT showing off your herding skills. That was being stupid and immature."

"Mom... I didn't do anything wrong. I was doing my job! I did a great job! I brought them back to you! They weren't in their paddock and they took off in the pasture and I brought them back. Did you see? Huh? Did you?!?!"

Auntie Katina said, "Boy I hope Tom didn't see that one. Here ponies... have a carrot. Thanks for playing 'sheep' with the Gman today."

And the ponies, wondering why they had to settle for mere carrots when they clearly deserved grain or fritos or something, were breathing slightly heavier than normal. They seemed to look at Garrison as if to say, "Dude... next time don't scare us like that and we can all get along. We're not sheep."

And Pony? Well, Shadow watched the entire incident and simply snorted at Garrison as he went back into his pasture with the big horses. He didn't have time for Garrison's little herding dog games.

So... Garrison had to spend the rest of the afternoon inside his crate while the muddy snow melted. I figured I would assess the grooming situation once I got home from my massage. Thankfully it wasn't nearly as horrific as it first appeared. The boy doesn't even smell and four human noses confirmed that this evening.

Katina had planned in advance to treat me to a 2 hour massage with Tim Duffy at The Knead Place in Olathe and after our cardiac stress test at the pasture, it was much needed and by far the best massage I've ever had.

Thanks, Garrison, for making it that much more worth while!

P.S. There were no videos of this incident since the entire thing happened in a matter of minutes and dog/pony management required all hands on deck and we weren't angling for the 5 o'clock news Top Story.

P. P. S. Pictures of the "crime scene" will come later once I've had a chance to download the pictures and insert them.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Iowa - the hot spot of American Tourism

When Garrison and I have a little bit more time on our hands at one of our friends' houses OR we get to our own home with time OR we're in a hotel with available WiFi, I'll post all of Gman's Tweets. He's had a great time and I'm amazed at his Tweeting capabilities from the road. What a dog.

In the meantime, we left our lovely Rod (my fiance! Holy Crap-a-doodle... I'm engaged!!!) in Ohio and drove over to Iowa. It wasn't a bad drive... just a tad long. It wasn't the distance, really... it was the reality that I was driving in the WRONG DIRECTION. Rod was in Ohio. We were driving west. All the way out I was driving east and the anticipation of seeing Rod and the Scotties made every mile pass faster. Now that we've started the drive back west without Rod and no Scotties... it makes the drives loooong.

Our Motel 6 North was not a bad stay, but it was a boring and bland stay. Parking was a pain because so many people were there for the dog show and snow tends to take up parking spaces and obscure parking space lines, so parking spaces were limited. And this particular Motel 6 didn't have any available wi-fi. It made for a boring time and difficulties in updating wedding websites and blogging. Oh the digital age. I do think I'm a tad addicted.

Due to weather and snow and such hitting Iowa when we were approximately 40 miles from Des Moines, our trip took about half an hour longer than anticipated. And due to my lack of desire to drive away and leave Rod in Ohio while I was schlepping back to California, I forgot Garrison's food bin at Rod's house. SO the beloved ball, lost in a snow drift somewhere in Rod's front yard (or the neighbor's depending on where Gman lost it) and his dry kibble was still in Ohio. We had to get food for the boy dog.

Rod took to the internet and found that Natural Balance is only sold at PetCo in Des Moines... and there were only two stores in the entire town. Egads! We had to get to one of them no matter where it was in relation to our Motel 6! I was watching the miles and the time on Garmina and it was going to be really close to closing time. I decided to call PetCo (where the pets go) and ask what time they closed.

Sure enough... 9pm. It was 8:45. I asked the manager if she could stay a few minutes so that I could buy food for Garrison OR if she could run my card for my purchase and leave the food outside the door since I would be there in approximately 20-25 minutes due to weather.

We made it there at 9:03 and they were waiting outside for us. Cash register still open... our food on the counter... wrong food roll, so the clerk went and got the correct size and WHEW. Garrison had food. He would live. I wouldn't be in his dog house.

Then we schlepped to Motel 6.

Somehow the request for a ground floor room didn't register from the "central reservation center" to the actual motel. We had an upper floor. No parking. It was pretty crummy. Then we found out that there was no wifi at this Motel 6. HARUMPH.

The next morning I decided we should get to the show grounds fairly early in order to find a grooming space. OH geez. There was a cattle show going on at the same time. I loved it. Gman loved it and would have rather gone off to herd cattle than play show dog... but he had to stay clean. Herding had to be for another day.

Inside the 4H Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, there was no grooming space. We befriended a gentleman who had a Bernese Mountain Dog and sidled up next to his set up... outside the lines...along a wall... and close to an electrical outlet. WHEW.

It's a small show, but some nice dogs were there. Garrison and I went into our ring to show to a judge we'd never shown to before - Paul Willhauk from Massachusetts. I was thankful when he pointed to me and said, "You're my best of breed!" Yippee!!! Garrison and I had to stay for the groups (darn), but we didn't make the cut, so no extra ribbons for us. We found out that the woman who won the group with her OES (Old English Sheepdog) is REALLY well known around these parts and is VERY hard to beat. That's life when out of your own back yard... which is a highly competitive back yard... with people like Larry Fenner, Susie and Jorge Olivera, J.R. Alcantar, Valeri Nunes-Atkinson and Gabriel Rangal (he just won Westminster with his Scottie bitch Sadie). Those are the regular players I compete against all the time in SoCal.

So I'm sitting in Panera Bread because they have free wifi... and good food... and yummy coffee... and The Gman and I don't show until 1:55pm today. Hopefully we'll win the breed again today and have a shot in the group... but today is another day... another dog show...

And we drive to Kansas City tonight after we're done to spend 2 nights with my best friend Katina! Yippee!!!! Before we set out on our Road Trip, it was going to be a chance to see Katina my best friend... but it has turned into a chance to see Katina my best friend AND my Maid of Honor!

Holy Crap-a-doodle... I'm engaged!

Time to go show my dog... and celebrate a sport that introduced me to the love of my life - Rod.

I'm done being sappy and sentimental.

Happy Puppy - Check.

Game Face - Check.

Best of Breed? Still open.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Scouviers Forever!

When I met Rod, my brother started teasing me about what would happen if things were to get serious and Rod and I were to get married and have Scotties and Bouviers in the same household... would we wend up with Scouviers? The answer was and always will be a resounding NO, but this is my brother you're talking about... and once he latches on to something that has endless teasing potential, he makes the most of it. So for the past year, I've had pictures, movies, Bollywood subtitles, powerpoint animations, Star Trek Yourself videos all about Garrison and future breedings... and all of Matt's antics end with "Scouviers Forever."

dnesday, February 10th the Gman and I drove from Tulsa, OK to Indianapolis, IN. We arrived at our hotel about 30 minutes before Rod arrived, so I had time to get my car unloaded, wash off a day of driving 650 miles, and reorganize my car for going to the show grounds to unload and be ready for 4 days of dog showing. I knew when Rod arrived because Garrison barked at the tap-tap at the door, but I wondered why Rod didn't open up the door with his own key. I saw as soon as I opened the door it was because he didn't have any available hands - he had a dozen red roses in his hands (well, one was in his mouth). That is what kicked off our weekend in Indianapolis together and what a treat to have such beautiful red roses to look at all weekend long! Rod had said when we were making plans for Indy that it would be really hard to have flowers delivered to a dog show. I figured if pizzas can get delivered to obscure places successfully... so can flowers... but leave it to my romantic man to have flowers at the onset so I could enjoy them all weekend long!

Garrison met the two Scotties L
ara and Grizzle and they were BFFs right off the bat. Garrison was having a blast herding them around the hotel room and they weren't quite sure about him at first, but realized that he's a lot of fun to play with... so all was well in the doggy world. Rod and I loaded up the cars with our dog showing junk and took off to the Indianapolis Fair Grounds. Thankfully Rod's friend Marcia Dawson who lives in Indy had set aside space for a bunch of us so we were able to unload and get things settled inside the grooming and showing building. Garrison had to potty, however, and this snow thing was still all too new to him. We are forever grateful to a handler who had set up an ex-pen (short for exercise pen to you non-dog show people) and her dogs had worn the snow down to where there was a small tuft of grass sticking up. That's all the Gman needed... and he lightened his load. WHEW. What a relief! And then? It dawned on him that this snow stuff might be FUN! He started romping and frolicking in the snow and burrowed his head in the snow making himself look a lot like the pirate Davey Jones in Pirates of the Carribean - oh boy. Now if he'll just be OK pottying on the snow every time because I didn't think there would be much available grass tufts at our hotel. Just a lot of yellow snow.

And remember folks, DON'T EAT YELLOW SNOW!!! (My public service announcement for this blog.)

Driving across states and time zones threw me off and I kept thinking we were finishing up around 9pm, but it was really 10pm. We pulled into the Texas
Roadhouse for a steak dinner and thankfully they were open until 10:30pm... because it was 10:21pm! For those of you who didn't know this... Indiana is in the eastern time zone, not the central. The steak was good, the honey butter on the rolls was good, the wine we were drinking was yummy and the company was awesome. Rod and I were both so happy with huge smiles on our faces enjoying the company and I was doing little mini-booth dances because I was so happy. I also think I was having a slight sugar rush from the honey butter. And I was excited to be dog showing with Rod - we met at the Eukanuba Dog Show in Long Beach, CA in December 2008... it's a hobby and sport we enjoy... and we have a lot of fun.

So Thursday morning, February 11th we are up and at
'em walking dogs and hoping they potty. Garrison was WAY too enthralled with the Scotties to do anything other than make more yellow snow (Don't eat yellow snow!!) and he also hadn't eaten a regular meal in a few meals. I was going to have to bathe and dry the Gman once we got to the show grounds and do a little extra grooming since we'd been on the road for 6 days since our last bath and groom job at Casa Fairview and... we were only taking one car, so we had to load up all the pups and dog show junk we were schlepping back and forth with enough time to get everything done before our late ring times. Thankfully, Bouviers and Scotties weren't showing until around 11am - 12:45pm all 4 days so we had time to get up, take care of dogs, get coffee, figure out what we're doing, watch judges, etc.

In addition to the roses, Rod had arrived with a very cute gi
ft bag with Scotties on it (no surprise there!) so he decided to bring the bag over and told me there were a couple gifts in there for me... and a couple cards. Rod has a wonderful ability to find funny and romantic (but not cheesy) cards and has always given me more than one card for holidays or my birthday... and sometimes for no reason at all. I found this out about him last year at Valentine's when he sent a box to my house in Long Beach and there were three different cards and three different wrapped presents. The first present was a glass heart box - appropriate for Valentine's and not over the top romantic so I wasn't gonna freak out about this new guy friend of mine sending me stuff for a "lover's holiday according to Hallmark". The next package was a pumice stone that Rod uses when he strips Scottie coats and said that I could try it out on Garrison's coat or just use it on my feet - practical, utilitarian, and appropriate since we were swapping grooming stories and techniques... and funny that it was also something I could use for my own feet if so desired. And the third box... well, when I shook it I thought, "Oh no. He sent me red hots or heart candies with those sayings on them... and I don't eat stuff like that. Oh well....." and then I opened it. It was a lovely bottle of Advil! He had heard me talk about frustrations at work and headaches and such and I had said at one point that I loved Advil/Ibuprofren more than Tylenol... so that's what he gave me that first Valentine's in 2009.

So this Thursday morning, he had two wrapped boxes and two cards in the cute Scottie gift bag. He handed me one of the boxes and one of the cards. I laughed when I read the card... and I laughed when I opened the box. It was a glass
heart box, but this year it was filled with Advil! And then there was the other card and the other box. I asked if he wanted me to open the other box now or wait... since we did have 4 days of the Valentine weekend to be with each other... and I also happened to have some gifts to give him over the 4 days. He said, "Well, why don't you wait on that one then." So I did and continued getting ready for Dog Show Day #1.

I had decided to wear one of my new suits my mom bought me last month - a goldish jacket and black skirt - and I set it on top of the garment bag. I was making
sure I had all the other things I needed - hose, shoes, etc. But I wasn't sure what jewelry to wear with this new suit of mine. As I stared at the suit and had that ponderous look on my face, Rod asked, "What's the matter, hon?" I said, "Oh... nothing. I just don't know what jewelry I have to wear with this suit." Rod's eyes lit up and he said, "I have the perfect thing to go with that suit. Hang on." He reached into the very cute Scottie gift bag and pulled out the other wrapped box that I had decided to wait to open and walked over to me.

He said, "Here... I think you should open this now." So here I was holding this wrapped box... thinking about what jewelry to wear with my suit... and I thought, "Aww... he's so sweet to have earrings or something for me to wear." So I removed the red wrapping paper and exposed the small white box. I removed the lid and inside was a velvet jewelry box. I took out the box and when I was expecting earrings of some sort, I opened the box and it was NOT a pair of earrings. Oh no. It was a gorgeous white gold ring with a 1 carat round solitaire paired with a simple, but exquisite diamond encrusted band. I said, "Oh my. Oh goodness!"

Rod took the solitaire out of the box, got down on one knee, looked up at me with his twinkling blue eyes and said, "Pilar, will you marry me?" I bent down, cupped his face in my hands and said, "Yes... yes, I'll marry you." And we kissed as he stood up. He then put the ring on my finger - a perfect fit - 5 3/4. And we kissed again.

And... the story of our lives to be... Garrison jumped up on both of us and gave us a huge bear hug and the Scotties squeaked from their crates. The pups wer
e celebrating our new engagement!

I did make my status on Facebook say "I'M ENGAGED!" before we left the room to get to the show... and I started texting friends left and right... and on our way to the show we called my parents. Now mind you, it's 9am in Indianapolis... it's 6am in San Ramon. My mom answered the phone.


"Good morning, Mom!"

"Yes... it most certainly is morning... it's like 6am."

"I know... but I didn't think you'd mind me calling this early to let you know that I'm engaged. Rod asked me to marry him this morning and I said, 'yes'!"

You could hear the shutters on my mom's eyelids fly op

"Oh that is just so wonderful! We love him so much! How exciting!!" My father had also picked up the phone to hear the news. Their phones announce who's calling, so he knew it was me calling... and I guess he figured if I was calling that early in the morning that something good must have happened. Come to find out... Rod had called my father the night before while driving over from Ohio to ask him for my hand in marriage. My father gave us his blessings.

So we spent all day Thursday fielding texts, phone calls, Facebook posts and getting congratulations from all of our friends and family.
We celebrated our engagement by having a late lunch at Red Robin and then going to see a later showing of Avatar in 3D. I couldn't stop looking down at my hand and seeing that beautiful ring that my fiance chose to display our love and commitment to one another.

When we woke up the next morning, Rod looked at me and
said, "I asked you to marry me yesterday and you said, 'Yes!'" Indeed I did.

And then we got to spend the rest of the weekend enjoying our engagement... talking about plans a little bit... getting our heads wrapped around all of the changes that are going to take place this year...

And for those of you who are wondering... we're getting married on Sunday, October 10th, 2010. There are may reasons behind that date.

1) I've always wanted to get married in early October. I love that time of year.
2) October 10th is my father's birthday.
3) Our anniversary will be 10.10.10
4) Last year on October 10, 2009 both Nickel and Garrison won the breed for the first time. Garrison also won his first Group - a very special day indeed!

We're getting married in southern Illinois at the Walton Farm.

This farm means so much to me, my family and our extended family. Steeped in history and functioning since 1864, the farm has been a dairy farm, fruit farm and most recently a sheep farm. There aren't many sheep left due to my Aunt Barb and Paw getting older, but there are still a few sheep in the barn. We might bring some of the old flock back to have in the pastures during our wedding.

My "Aunt Barb" is more like my blood aunt than my two real life blood aunts and she's family because of the United States Air Force Academy. Her first husband graduated from the United States Air Force Academy - class of 1964 - and was best friend's with Kris Mineau (also USAFA '64) and Kris Mineau was my father's first student as a T-38 pilot instructor. My father Jim Kuhn graduated from the USAFA in 1963.

Unfortunately, her first husband David Dieffenbach died in a plane crash during a normal flying mission while stationed at Edwards Air Force Base in the early 70's. She moved back to the farm shortly thereafter. And then she married Marland Throgmorton in the fall of 1989 and they celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary last year! Her full life's story is amazing and she has endured many trials and tribulations, but that is part of what makes her so strong and faithful to God and I could go on and on about her!

Once Colonel Kris Mineau retired from the Air Force, he went to seminary school in Massacusetts and he will be officiating our wedding!

It's truly going to be a family affair and we're so excited about spending a wonderful time with friends and family in one of the most special places I've ever been and love as if it were my own. We lovingly call it "The Farm".

And my brother's campaign of "Scouviers Forever" has had a good run.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

So much has happened. And I've been busy!

Well, I don't have much time to type much because we're still in Indianapolis and dog showing. I'm sure many of you want more details about this thing called "my engagement". It's still rather surreal, but very exciting!

I will post a longer blog either later tonight once we get to Ohio or tomorrow morning once I'm at home with 5 Scotties and the Gman while Rod is off at work.

Short story is... I'm engaged!

The Scotties and the Bouvier are having a blast playing non-stop in the hotel room.

We had judge changes Thursday and Friday which wasn't what we wanted, but the massive east coast blizzard kept some judges away. Garrison's shown well the last 2 days but was VERY squirrely the first day. We were empty handed the first two days and were "Best Opposite Sex" yesterday. Today is another day. A different dog show. We'll see how things go today.

We have to load up and get out of our hotel this morning before going to the show grounds, so I promise to share a lot more later!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Super Bowl Sunday in ABQ

We took a couple of lefts while in Albuquerque and ended up at Steve Smith's house. Steve and I have known each other for 32 years. We met because our families attended First United Methodist Church in Carrollton, Texas and to this day, I wear a necklace his mother gave me when I made the American Choral Director's National Jr. High Honor Choir. It's a James Avery silver cross with a music note in the middle. Not EVERY day, but it is in my jewelry box and I still wear it 22 years later.

Steve and his wife Nicole, their daughters Izzy and Shyla Kay and their dogs Baxter and Schatzie were amazing hosts. The Gman was THRILLED to have another dog close to his size to wrestle with. Both boys wore smiles on their faces all day long! Schatzie hid. She was intimidated until the next morning when I had Schatzie curled up in my legs under the covers, Garrison on top and Baxter on the floor in the doorway of the guest room.

Steve and Nicole are total foodies... and the menu was AMAZING! Steve bought several cheeses from Whole Foods and sliced them into small pieces so that they could be eaten alone OR paired with a grape on top of fig spread and different types of crackers or wafers. Home made guacamole - DELISH! Queso - YUM! And the main course? Sliders with green chili and cheese on Hawaiian bread and home made potato salad. Oh.... and wine. Of course.

While we watched an excellent game between the Colts and the Saints, the girls were playing with princess stickers and reading princess books.

It was awesome catching up with Steve and Nicole and we're looking forward to spending another night with them on our way home from our Road Trip. Steve texted the next day and told me that Baxter was sulking all day and night on Monday because his buddy the Gman wasn't there to play with.

We left Albuquerque around 9am and I could tell that the storm that started in CA over the weekend was still moving across the country. Yes... this storm has continued to escort us across the country. But I-40 was easy and clear. Only a few snow flurries. And hardly any traffic.

We saw lots of fun things along the way, though. Garrison tweeted about most of them while we were driving. One of the funniest things we saw was a huge billboard that said, "Top of Texas Catholic Superstore". WHAT?!? I guess if you're looking for bulk rosaries or priestware or plastic bobble head Marys or Jesuses... or maybe even Jesus action figures... that's the place. Who the heck knows, but if any of you Catholic readers out there are interested, there is a Top Of Texas Catholic Superstore near Amarillo, Texas.

It was an uneventful day of driving... just long. And we made it to Tulsa.

Monday, February 8, 2010

5 States down...

Garrison and I are safely in Tulsa, OK. I didn't get a chance to blog the last few days because once we left our house, we've been busy!

Saturday morning we were up very early with rain STILL falling, but we had to load up the car and this was departure day! All of the last minute to-dos drive me crazy. Put out any remaining trash. Wash dishes. Wipe down counters. Clear off kitchen table. Write up Casa Fairview care-taking directions. Make sure EVERYTHING is loaded in the car. Ugh.

Garrison knows when we're heading out somewhere... and not just for coffee and potential park time. And that throws him all off. So he didn't eat breakfast and hopped up in the car during one of my loading moments and stayed there. He refuses to be left behind. Ever since he was 4 months old, he would happily sit in the front of the car... doors wide open for up to an hour... just so that he wouldn't be left behind.

I had everything loaded and took off. Said goodbye to my AM/PM coffee friends while getting my cheap coffee, drove through Del Taco for the egg and cheese breakfast burrito and got on the highway, all the while my brain flitting through the packing and planning ahead for the duration of our trip. OH CRAP-A-DOODLE!!! I forgot the kibble bin. No kibble for the Gman. Not acceptable. I got off the freeway and had to return to Casa Fairview. Ugh.

I knew I'd feel better knowing the boy had his regular kibble. But I also knew this would make us late to our Valentine Fun Match.

Rain + Los Angeles drivers = lots of traffic early on Saturday morning.

Our Fun Match was out in Menifee and it took me almost 3 hours to get there. 90 miles. 3 hours. UGH. But it was a great event because of the indoor location at the Briarcliff Pet Resort. We had a nice turnout and it's always fun to see so many Bouviers around each other.

Our match ended, we had our board meeting, and the Gman and I set out for our big ole massive road trip-o-rama. Garmina wanted us to take the 10 through Phoenix on our way to Flagstaff and I told her she was crazy. She didn't say anything other than, "Recalculating." I called my father (aka The Navigator).

The question: "Why would Garmina want to send me through Phoenix to get to Flagstaff?"

The answer: "It's only about 15 miles further going through Phoenix."

The next question: "Why do I not want to give up my original plan of going through Barstow and I-40?"

The answer: "I don't know. But I do know that via Phoenix you'll have about 10 miles of potential winter weather driving. Via Barstow you'll have about 30 miles of potential winter weather driving."

I decided to drive to Flagstaff via Barstow. The drive was easy going. Of course there was some rain along the way - it had lingered over my house for a day and a half and was finally moving on.... to Flagstaff and beyond. And as elevations get higher rain turns to..... snow. But I hadn't seen any snow. When Garmina was telling me I had 35 miles to go before my exit in Flagstaff, I hit a patch of fog. My mom called to see how the drive was going. I told her I had fog... and things were fine. We hung up quickly because I wanted to keep 2 hands on the wheel. 5 miles had passed by. And I noticed snow on the side of the road. Then there was snow ON the road. LOTS of snow. The remaining 30 miles had me thankful that I lived in Chicago for 4 years. Driving in snow and inclement winter weather is much like riding a bike. You don't forget.

And when I finally arrived in Flagstaff, I called my father to let him know I arrived safely... and he was right.

Garrison wasn't sure about the whole "snow" thing when he jumped out of the car. He had such a confused look on his face! He wanted to check it out some more... kinda. He also wanted to pounce and play in our hotel room. After a little romping, tuggling, and then cuddling on the bed with all 4 paws in the air, the Gman settled in front of the door for the night.

The next morning, I awoke to people talking about how they didn't know how to drive in snow and they should have ordered pizza the night before in order to have a box to scrape snow off of their cars. Our Honda Element had about 6 inches of snow on top! It blew off as we set out on our next segment to Albuquerque.

The drive to Albuquerque was pretty painless. As I started to approach my exit, the storm that had escorted me since California was greeting me in New Mexico as well. Snow, sleet and rain pelted us for the last 15 miles to our exit. It wasn't nearly as intense as Flagstaff, though.

And voila... we were in Albuquerque to watch the Super Bowl with Steve Smith and his family!

(to be continued...)

Friday, February 5, 2010

It's raining. Ugh.

Well, it's Friday morning, the day before we leave on our February Road Trip (Road Trippin' across the USA... in my Honda Element with my Bouvier!) and it's raining in L.A. WHAT? AGAIN??

That means no park time for The Gman and a delay in his bathing, drying and grooming in preparation for being a clean and welcome house guest and a show pony in Indianapolis. Rain delays. They aren't just for baseball games anymore.

We do have new tires on the Element thanks to a generous gift from my parents. That took 3 hours yesterday which I wasn't anticipating, but it did hold me captive at Coco's for 3 hours so I have half of my tax prep completed.

And then I got a surprise text from one of Rod's sisters-in-law Sara. She is married to Rod's youngest brother Doug. Sara and Doug and their two small children Cort and Lyla are all out here in LA LA Land because Sara is at a conference/workshop for furthering education or something that has a really nice official title. Hopefully she'll read this blog and post a comment to share what the official title/purpose of her trip is. Heh heh. Interactive blogging to keep Pilar's facts straight. LOVE it. Sara is currently teaching 7th grade in Wichita, Kansas and is one of 7 teachers from her district that have flown to Los Angeles to present what they are doing in their district.

We met up at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel and then walked over to the California Pizza Kitchen. Great place for kids to get pizza and pasta... and the adults to have beer, wine and good food.

Doug gets a door prize for being the first Ott brother of Rod's that I've met! One brother met... 5 more to go. And the parents. Eventually. (I'll think of what the door prize will be, Doug, and the next time I see you, I'll bestow you with your gift. Sara should also get one for having the job that brought you all out here and she is the first Ott family member to text me.... besides Rod, of course.)

Doug also has excellent coloring skills.Lyla put him to the task last night.

What a treat to be able to meet some of Rod's family in Los Angeles! I'm so glad it worked out!!

And now we must continue with our day of schlepping laundry down the rainy stairwell to wash and dry and start packing our suitcase... clean the house some more... and prepare Casa Fairview for our 3 week absence. Thank goodness the previous residents will be checking on the house while we're gone. God bless good neighbors!

And Garrison is bumming because of the rain. Poor, poor puppy. I bet he gets over it really soon.

Road Trippin' across the USA.... in my Honda Element with my Bouvier!!! :-D

Thursday, February 4, 2010

T-minus 2 days - February Road Trip!

It's Thursday morning and I've been up since 6:45am... mostly thanks to Garrison licking my face and encouraging me to get up and start the day. We have an 11am appointment to get a new set of tires on the car and it's Trash Day, so I had to clean out any unpleasant items from the fridge... or items that would end up scaring the neighbors before we return.

I laugh at Garrison whenever I move the bins in and out. You see, he hates the sound of OTHER people moving their bins, hates loud sustained booming noises at any time, not just before 9am (challenging your movie trivia knowledge), yet he loves to "work" and will follow right along me when I'm moving OUR bins. I figure he is channeling his cart-pulling ancestors or merely herding the bins making sure they don't get out of line or away from me. The happy and silly smile on his face when I call him off of the bins as he trots back to the driveway cracks me up.

We have a lot to get done today and tomorrow before we drive away Saturday morning.... early. We are fulfilling our SoCal Bouvier Club obligations by spending the morning and early afternoon in Menifee at our Valentine Fun Match before driving to Flagstaff.

Oh... and we'll be hitting 12 states on this road trip:

California (duh!)
New Mexico

In Garrison's first 3 years of life (his 3rd birthday is March 16th - coming up soon!) he has been to more states than Emilie ever made. She was a western kinda pup (CA, AZ, NM, CO, UT, NV) with one trip to Texas thrown in there. How she loved road trips. Garrison was born in California, but made the trip with me and Miss Em to Albuquerque in 2008. He and I flew to Oregon last July and went to a friend's house in Washington State and then we were off on the East Coast this past fall - Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island.

He'll have been in 20 states by the time we get back from our February Road Trip - not too shabby for the boy pup!

I just hope that road conditions don't get nasty while we're driving 2/3 across the country.

Well, we have many more things to do today - morning ritual these days consists of going to AM/PM for "cheap ass coffee", sometimes getting an egg and cheese burrito from Del Taco (400 calories) and hitting up the park so that Garrison can chase his beloved ball and burn off Happy Puppy energy. We also have that whole laundry thing to get done, house cleaning, tax prep 2009, show pony bath, dry and groom job (tomorrow) and various assorted chores before launching the mobile dog crate (aka The Honda Element) Saturday morning.

And I have to accomplish this week's goal of hitting the gym 5 days in a row. So far, we've made it Monday through Wednesday... so add two more trips to the gym in the above mix.

I can't believe it's already Thursday!! WHOOO HOOO!!! By this time next week I'll be with my awesome boyfriend, a couple of his Scotties and we'll be dog showing in Indianapolis! How fun!!!!!