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November 14, 1999
a year ago
two years ago

A Whirl of Dogs

We got up earlier than yesterday, though not as early as a work day. 9:30 was the designated meeting time, and Johanna had made this gorgeous cardemom sweet bread on Thursday while waiting for her John and in need of dough therapy. The loaf was just gorgeous, braided and golden and solid and sweet and we all ate hunks of it for breakfast with plenty of coffee.

All piled into the car and then headed for South Mesa, one of the few off-leash Open Space areas for dogs. We'd tried to meet Debbie, Matt and their Samoyeds there before, but just missed them the time before. This time, however, we called them before we left and got completely synched up. This was good, they not only brought their two dogs, but another puppy with her owner. The nine-month-old puppy is being raised to be a working dog, but was just as high energy and completely uncontainable as most puppies are so it was good to get the puppy tired. The four dogs made themselves into a quick and loose pack and as soon as we got well into the park, closed the gate behind us, and took all the leashes off. Zooom!! They were off.

It was amazing how much energy the pups all had. Though the first chunk of the trail is straight uphill, and it's a good quarter of the whole trail. Fezzik tried to keep up with everyone else as best as he could, but he had trouble keeping up with the really fast pups. He kept trying, though and happily bounded about with everyone and was fascinated with the other dogs enough to completely ignore all the treats Matt was trying to hand out. I guess it says something that he actually ignored food to stay up with the other dogs.

The South Mesa trail does a kind of loop, starting at the bottom of the mesa, the loop to both the northeast and the northwest go up the mesa. The northeast trail heads to the lake and the lake then has a bit of a stream that goes along the side of the mesa that also meanders next to the long, flat part of the trail. So we charged up the northeast side of the trail and the dogs were running, full-blast up and down and all around and Fezzik was gamely following all the younger puppies as fast as he was able to. He's both larger and older, but he was able to get a good run going for a lot of it. The good part about the uphill being first was that it took the edge off the young puppies. The great part about the flat being next was that Fezzik could make an easier going of it. Okay, I'll admit it, it was also nice to have an easier going bit for me as my knee was pretty sore from the day before.

The great thing was that since Fezzik had a little pack of dogs that he was travelling with, he didn't go running off after other dogs all that much and even if he did, when the other dogs in 'his pack' came back, he'd come back with them to stay with them. That worked out really well in a number of instances.

We stopped at the top for a bit to let the dogs run in and out of the water and chase each other and for Fezzik to get a bit of a swim in, and then we went along the long flat bit. The water was actually down from the trail a good deal, pretty steep in a lot of sections with a soft mud bank down by the water. Fezzik would follow the pups down, but then have a hard time getting back up, so he'd either swim or wade through the water or get up on the soft bank and pace us from down there. That worked out really well as the three younger dogs zoomed down and levated up the really steep bank repeatedly.

At one point Boris started to take off down the mesa side and Fezzik followed him down. Oops, but Boris got called back and came up without too much effort and Fezzik just couldn't make it. Matt went down to help push Fezzik back up onto the path and Fezzik was better, after that, about staying with us. Poor pup, but the running around was probably going to do him a lot of good in the long run.

At the end of the long flat was another open water area with gentler slopes, so Fezzik went romping into the water again with the other dogs. The four of them circulated around there, going into the water, then out again, then out on small excursions after other dogs and other people. Several other dogs showed up, played with the pack and went on with some of the pups trailing and eventually called back. A friend dog of theirs that they often see on this trail, Elvis arrived with a huge three foot stick in his mouth and his owner close behind. Elvis was really proud of his stick and afraid that the other dogs would steal it so he kept pretty far away from everyone else.

It should be called a whirl of dogs, not a pack.

Eventually we headed down again, as the puppies were starting to slow down. On the way down Fezzik just walked just ahead of all the people, he didn't sidetrack the way all the younger pups did, he was just moving purposefully down the hill as if he knew we were going back to the car or back home or just back again and he was glad as he was tired. So he just mostly trundled along, sometimes well ahead of the people, it was interesting to watch him as he seemed to know exactly where we were going and wasn't at all tempted by all the romping rounds that the pups took in all directions.

At the bottom of the hill was a small trickle of a stream that had a semi-muddy pond just under the trail. Fezzik walked in and lay in the clear part of the water while the other dogs tentatively drank around him. Hot dog. He just lay there, happily panting at us and watching us and he wasn't moving if he didn't have to. So we just stood there and talked a while before finally tugging a bit on his leash and up he came, dripping water on the way to the Land Rover. The two Johns had to each take half of Fezzik to get him into the truck because his hind legs buckled when we tried putting his front paws into the truck first. Once in the truck he just lay down. A tired dog but a very happy dog.

The four of us humans were starving by then, so we went to Dot's and had a marvelous breakfast. Sadly, the brew store was closed, so we weren't able to get John another project. From there we just went home. The sun and the exercise tired us all out, but the two Johns happily worked in the garage while Johanna took a nap. I filled the bird feeders, watered the plants, read some magazine, played with some of my pens and just rested for a bit while Fezzik collapsed onto the lawn and just lay there.

A number of my ebay purchases recently ended up in the mailbox. It was very nice to have them. Some antique dealer found a few hundred Esterbrook Re-New Points, which are the nibs in the pens that can be screwed in and he had had a number of really rare points that he'd put some up for bid. When the auctions were done, he then contacted everyone that had bid on the auctions and offered to sell them the other points he'd gotten. So I got some really good deals on some really hard-to-find points that I don't normally even see on the auctions or on any of the vintage pen dealer sites. The only place I normally see them is in old documentation about the pens, and it was amazing to me to know that they actually existed. I only bought the points I was interested in using, fine points, a few mediums and a some flexible points as well. All of the ones that arrived were new in the box and beautifully maintained. It was like someone stuck a crate of the things away, sometime and just rediscovered them. I guess that's how a number of antiques are.

What blew me away was the points that I'd originally bid on, the Fine Manifold 9461's, three of them. The reason is that they were originally made to make carbon copies work with a fountain pen, so they were made to take a lot of pressure and when I took the point out of the box and compared it against the other points I had, it was obvious what they did to enable that kind of pressure. The steel was twice as thick as any of the 'normal' pen points. Amazing. When I finally fitted it to one of my pens and used it the point was as smooth as silk. The 9000's were reputed to be really nice; but the two others I'd experienced before this one were scratchy, but were the 9886's, or medium general writing points and were both, pretty obviously, used by someone else and fountain pen points often adapt to the usage of their user, smoothing along the sides that the person using it writes with the most and leaving edges in other directions. Obviously, my writing angle was different than the previous users'.

What was really cool about the Fine Manifold points is that it really enables me to use my fountain pen for everything, including the check writing and credit card slip signing that I do. THAT is very cool.

After a few hours out in the garage, the boys had done a lot of cleaning up and packing in tighter so that myJohn had more room to work in. It was something he had to do before really getting to work on some of the Land Rovers that are in there, which is why John had offered to help. That was very cool as well.

Eventually, John and Johanna had to go to catch their plane, at about mid-afternoon, so they packed up and whirled out the door after giving Fezzik a good hug. Back to the rain and the amazing living environment of Portland. They really liked visiting but really couldn't see living here. I could see why, too.

I spent most of the afternoon in a funk. I could have actually planned some of my next stages of development at work; but I was overwhelmed from how very little I'd gotten done last week. It's a thing that seems to happen in waves, but I was really discourage and unhappy and really upset with myself over how much was left to do and how much I didn't know about what I was going to do and what had to be done and it was really bad. So, instead of doing anything useful, I just sat and watched football. I made up my mind to do that. Part of it was that I was also exhausted after all weekend of being social with people in the house. They are really, really cool people and we did a lot of fun stuff, but I was still stressed anyway. On top of all that my body was just really unhappy with me from all the exercise, in some ways, and with something that was causing my lower back to really be upset with me. It's just aching all the time and I can't seem to figure out what to do about it. That was bad.

I took time from my own, stupid thoughts to just make dinner. Set it all aside and put something, anything, together. Finally, I figured out that there was a Yukon Gold potato in the fridge and some cheese and bits of the chicken from the roast two days back. So I sliced the potatoes really thin, layered them with cheese, chives, and salt and pepper, then poured milk on them to just a little less than covering and stuffed them in the oven. After ten to fifteen minutes I put two quarters of the leftover chicken into the oven to heat up as well. At the very last minute I asked John to make a salad or some veggies, and he came up with a very nice salad.

Food is good.

Sleep was soon after that. We were both pretty tired from the last week, and I think that the pollution here is really messing with our sleep and our breathing. Some of it is that it's making John's sinuses swell just a bit so that it's easier for him to snore, so that wakes me up enough to want to wake him up so that he stops snoring; but it's all a viscious enough cycle that makes it so that neither of us sleeps all that well.

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