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Archer!

July 20, 2016 Fido, Fun No Comments

We had the pleasure of taking care of a sweet Goldendoodle puppy for a week. Of course, hindsight is everything and it could have gone either way. As it turns out, Archer is ~18 months old and such a special boy.

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I just sent him back home with his parents and things are pretty sad around here. Within five minutes of him leaving, these two were sound asleep. I’m sure they were dreaming about their little brother…

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Archer listens well, minds well, doesn’t shed, sleeps wherever I am (including curling up in the bathroom while I was showering or getting ready or doing my business), doesn’t get on the furniture, doesn’t beg for food, doesn’t run off when not on a leash, quiets his bark when told to, and is otherwise the best dog ever. Kudos to his parents for doing such a great job in training him!

That said, having a poodle mix for a week was quite a cautionary tale. His fur is SO HIGH MAINTENANCE. I’ll take Miles’ and Murphy’s shedding all day long over the work that Archer’s coat required. I was careful to brush him out a couple of times every day — quite time consuming — and he still looked like a ragamuffin most of the time. Not only that, there were tangles/mats all over that will need to be cut out. I was really surprised about how difficult it was to maintain him.

It was Camp sMiles around here for Archer. He had never really spent much time around other dogs in a situation like this and he took to it very well. More than that, he had never been swimming! Miles and Murphy showed him the way and he caught on very quickly. These three had the most fun all week long!

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We can’t wait to have the opportunity to have sweet Archer back for another visit.

MDW Cycling Adventure

More adventures awaited us on Sunday. Greg had been poring over maps for a few days to find a good bike ride for us. We know the Vineman race routes well, but wanted something that headed out to the coast. Greg showed me the options, me being very clear about saying I wasn’t up for a long ride — 25 miles was my goal for the day. He estimated a route for me that we could do together until I peeled off to head home and he continued on for a longer ride. Let’s go!

The first nine miles were great. Rolling hills along the river and into the town of Cazadero. At mile 9.5, the road went up and continued going up with only slight reprieve for another nine miles. I have not been training on hills and this definitely felt like work. Also, I had a lot of time to think while I was climbing. Not all of the thoughts were good ones, GREG. Among them was the thought that there was no way this was going to be a 25-mile ride. I knew where I was on the map and there was no way this was going to work out. I was right.

It turned out to be a 37-mile ride with 3,151 feet of elevation gain. Yeah, not exactly the ride I signed up for. But the scenery was beautiful!

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During a photo op outside of Jenner, I let Greg know what I thought about his route planning skills. Ha!

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It’s always an adventure when Greg is doing the planning!

MDW Kayaking Adventure

We headed north over the Golden Gate Bridge for the holiday weekend; Greg took Friday off, so we got a head start. Heading to the Russian River was my idea. I was chasing the sun and 80*F temps, along with water that is very swimmable this early in the season. Thankfully the forecast was accurate!

We stopped at the Fishetarian in Bodega Bay for a lunch of fish tacos and beer.  It was chilly on the coast, so we quickly made our way inland to Monte Rio. It’s a little sleepier than Guerneville and there is a shady parking spot adjacent to the dog beach. Perfect! Miles swam around with his ball during cocktail hour while we contemplated how to spend the next 3 days.

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The real adventures began on Saturday. Greg and I went for our respective long runs (7.5 miles for me, 10 for him) and then we started scheming the best way to kayak the river. For all of Greg’s planning efforts, things could not have gone worse.

We drove 3 miles out to Duncans Mills to drop a bike there. That’s where we’d take the boat out of the water. I volunteered to ride my bike back to collect the van, which we would be leaving 7 miles upriver in Guerneville. At Johnson’s Beach, we loaded the boat with our phones, my cycling shoes, booze, and snacks and set off down the river.

The three of us (me, Greg, Miles) were in the inflatable kayak, which made it very difficult to steer. Greg also forgot one of the seats, so he was leaning against a lifejacket in the back. These two things alone made for a long trip. What literally made the trip long is that the current in the Russian River is about as strong as that on a lake (read: almost imperceptible). So instead of just floating happily with the current, we were actually having to do a lot of paddling. I’d happily paddle, but Greg was having to work so much harder to steer the boat when I paddled that it was better for me not to (other than when we were paddling into a strong headwind, which was often). We thought we’d be able to average 3 mph or so down the river, but we were only averaging 1.5 mph. A booze cruise that should have taken no more than a couple of hours took over four and ended up being a lot of work.

On the upside, Miles had fun! We would throw his ball and he’d dive off the kayak to fetch it, then swim alongside the boat until he could walk on an island to rest for a minute. We got good at lifting him into the boat using the handle on his Ruffwear harness. He’s such a good adventure dog!

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We were thinking we’d be able to pull off onto islands to stretch our legs and hang out, but we were running out of time. We didn’t get started until 2 PM and we had a small issue at the end of the line. This is where Greg’s planning skills really fell apart. You know, details like where we’d be able to pull the boat out of the water in Duncans Mills. He thought he saw a place on the map. He assumed there would be a trail. He guessed no one would be around to see us hauling a kayak and gear out of the water into town.

Well, there were people at the place he thought he saw and they said it was a private beach (maybe). The other place he had in mind was farther away than he thought it was. The one place he did find wasn’t really a trail at all, which would mean we’d need to bushwhack our way up the hill and into town. I was OVER IT by this point (as we all were), but there was no choice but to go with this plan.

It was treacherous and awful. I was wearing a bikini and flip flops, having taken my river shoes out of the van during ski season and not remembering to put them back. There was poison oak and thistles everywhere. At one point, I made Greg stop so I could take a picture to document the desperate situation. Of course, once we got the boat into town, I had to get on my bike and ride 7 miles back to Guerneville. FML.

The sun was behind the mountains by the time I got back to Duncans Mills at 7 PM, and the breeze blowing off the ocean was cold. Greg and Miles were wet and freezing by the time I rescued them, and Greg still had to break down the kayak. We slept well that night and woke up sore.

Three days post-adventure, spots of poison oak rash started showing up on my legs and torso. And my face. My chin and lips are covered in oozing sores. I got a steroid shot this morning and am on my way to the pharmacy for cream now. What a delightful souvenir from our trip!

Photo Faves

This photo is old, but it’s one of my favorites that I didn’t share here:

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Greg and I took a road trip the week after Christmas 2014 and woke up on New Year’s Day in the middle of nowhere. Honestly, I can’t tell you the nearest town. We were in central California, somewhere between Highway 101 and I-5, as if that is any help at all… We eventually made our way to Ojai that afternoon (and it didn’t take all that long), but I have no idea where we were.

I had just finished my first run of the year and came upon the van to find Greg standing on top of it with his binoculars. I loved that it was the first day of the new year and it seemed as though he was looking back at 2014 from up there. I don’t often run with my phone, but I was really glad I had it with me that time.

I’ll try to post more photos that I find in my camera roll that I haven’t shared here; it’s kind of fun to look back on our adventures that way.

Murphy!

April 21, 2016 Fido No Comments

In my last post, I made a reference to “dogs.” As in “more than one dog.” Meet Murphy!

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Murphy is Pete’s puppy that we have had the privilege of taking care of most every day since last July. Pete went through the Remodel From Hell and needed to be out of his house, so we gladly offered to provide daycare for 9-month-old Murphy. I fell in so much love with him that I still want him with me every day, even though Pete is back in his house now.

Murphy is a flat-coated retriever who has already had a pretty traumatic life. He survived two life-threatening issues that both required major surgery, in addition to surviving the normal things of puppyhood (like eating socks and earrings and anything else Greg left laying around). Yes, coming home from work every day used to be very interesting. Some days, not a single thing would be out of place. Those days were rare. Most days, there would be a pillow from the couch in the back yard and Greg’s clothes and shoes would be strewn around the house with the insoles removed. Often, the soles of the shoes would be chewed to pieces as well. He chewed up the entire carpet pad under the rug in our bedroom, save for the parts that are under the bed itself. Sadly, we never got around to putting a camera in the house to watch him in action.

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There for awhile, we thought it might be easier to train Miles to babysit Murphy than it would be to train Murphy not to be naughty. Slowly but surely, though, he learned what was his and what wasn’t. He goes to the toy box when he’s bored, or provokes Miles into a wrestling match or game of keep-away. He’s such a love and follows me everywhere I go. He’s goofy and happy and, in Greg’s words, Murphy has “boundless enthusiasm.”

Stay tuned for more stories of adventures with Murphy; it’s never a dull day when he’s around. Lucky for me, he’s around a lot!

Raccoon Underground Railroad

March 25, 2016 Fear, Fun No Comments

I got home around 10 PM last night after having dinner with a friend. It was late-ish for me, but Thursday is my Friday and I’ve had a particularly momentous week and life is good right now, so I wasn’t quite ready to join Greg (and Miles) in bed. Instead, I opted to sit in the hot tub and listen to one of my meditation podcasts to end the night. After undressing, I put on my fluffy robe and went out to the hot tub. I disrobed and lowered myself into the 104* water. Ahhhh.

As I was getting out, I picked up my robe and my phone managed to slip down the crack between the tub and the deck. What are the chances?!

I’m a problem solver, so I instantly thought of the “grabber gadget” someone had given me when I was broken. I knew right where it was in the basement (even in the dark) and retrieved it quickly. Only problem? My phone somehow landed several inches away from the space and I couldn’t reach it with the grabber. Fuck.

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I thought about my options:

  1. Go into the garage and try to find heavy gauge wire and stick it down the slats of the deck to try to scooch my phone to where Greg created an access point for the sprinklers, a distance of about two feet and a corner.
  2. Leave my phone overnight and get it in the morning. Leave it on the wet ground underneath the deck, with the meditation podcast still running.
  3. Crawl under the deck to retrieve it.

I chose Option 3.

I donned a headlamp and nothing else to army-crawl under the deck in the very dark night to retrieve my electronic device that I apparently cannot live without. SOMEONE MIGHT TEXT ME BETWEEN NOW AND 6:30 AM, YOU GUYS.

There were probably raccoons under there. They run rampant in our neighborhood and like to taunt the dogs, so I’m pretty sure our under-deck area is a rest station on the Raccoon Underground Railroad. There were certainly spiders and maybe even snakes and slugs and snails and rats and mice and I don’t even want to think about what else. I made myself one with them. Me and my headlamp, army-crawling toward the soothing voice of the meditation podcast. I made eye contact with none of these things, thankfully.

Of note: when I say “army-crawling,” the actual maneuver was more like a forearm plank, tip-toeing myself forward to the phone and then backward to get the fuck out of there. So basically it was a bonus workout for the day. No wonder my abs are sore today.

My phone and I were reunited and at this point, and I was bare-ass freezing. I needed to get back into the hot tub, obviously. But I couldn’t get in with under-deck dirt and muck all over me. It would be a waste of precious water and time to come into the house to take a shower, just to get clean enough to get back into the hot tub.

Being the problem solver that I am, I turned the hose on and “showered” with freezing cold water in my driveway. Then I got back into the 104* water and giggled at my antics until my soothing meditation podcast was over and I went to bed.

P.S. No one texted me.

Aaaaaaand we’re back!

June 7, 2015 Uncategorized No Comments

Sorry for the malware-induced hiatus! I finally got my act together to get it cleaned up and we are back in business.

I have a lot to share: (what promises to be) a fabulous trip to Europe, Miles updates, adventures in keeping other people’s humans and dogs alive, and some van upgrades.

Until then, I will leave you with this video I took with my phone on March 10 at Coyote Point Marina (about 2 miles from home). Miles was swimming in the water just to my left and these birds were just doing their thing. They “murmurated” several times, enough times for me to get my phone out and record one from start to finish. What a treat!

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Daily sMiles

January 12, 2015 Fido No Comments

Here is Miles at the beach in Santa Barbara on January 2. He’s been struggling with a limp for the last month and we had to separate him from his best friend, Mr. ChuckIt, while we figured out what was wrong with him. We let him play with his ball for awhile as the sun set that day and he was sooooo happy. Reunited, and it feels so good!

Before the limp, he was capable of running 5+ miles most days. We have no idea what happened, but all-of-a-sudden he was unable to walk around the block without limping like a 3-legged dog. On one afternoon walk to the market, we made it about three blocks before it was clear that he could go no further. I had to tie him up and run back home to get the car to pick him up. I was in tears! Many vet appointments were made. Many hundreds of dollars were paid. No answers were found.

Of course, a limp that won’t go away had us VERY nervous… Finally, after 6+ weeks, the limp has resolved. We still don’t know what was wrong with him, but we are assuming it was an overuse injury of some kind because resting it seemed to do the trick. We’re working to increase his endurance again, and he’s glad to be back to his swim/hike/run lifestyle!

To My 18-Year-Old Self

December 4, 2014 Fun 1 Comment

Dear 18-Year-Old Molly,

Hey you! 18 years old! What a milestone! You are officially an adult, someone to be taken seriously. Are you ready for this responsibility? Probably not. You know little more about the world than you knew yesterday or even last year. None of that even matters, so don’t worry about it. You have your whole life ahead of you to worry! Don’t waste your precious youth on it.

A lot is going to happen in the next 22 years. Here are some things that you’ll learn along the way:

Don’t ever deny or down-play your small town Iowa upbringing. People will find you more interesting when you tell them that you graduated in a class of 34 people — most of whom were in your Kiddie Kollege class at age 4. Seek a community like the one you grew up with in Lenox and give your time and talents to it, no matter what size college/organization/city it is. The mechanics may be different, but in the end, the values are the same. Community matters.

You are learning right now to be careful what you wish for. As an 8th-grader in the girls locker room, all you wanted was something to fill your training bra so you could be like so many of your friends. Your wish was granted — and then some — by the time your Freshman year started. People look from your chest to your eyes and back again. These things can (and will) be remedied.

Speaking of wanting to be like so many of your friends: stop. It won’t serve you. Find your style. Find your rhythm. Find yourself. This is easier said than done.

The more you get to know people, the more you will realize you had a storybook childhood. You weren’t rich or spoiled by any means, but you also weren’t beaten or otherwise abused. You had food to eat, clean clothes to wear, school to attend, and loving family and friends. Assuming everyone’s life is like yours (or better), you will be shocked to find out how charmed yours really is. Don’t take it for granted.

Talk to people. Regardless of what you’re talking about, you’ll learn to gauge people. This is the important thing. You’ll find good people and bad, of course. Glom onto the good ones and learn from the bad. Curate a collection of people — friends, colleagues, hitmen — that you can count on. More importantly, be that someone to at least one other person.

Hold onto the relationships that matter. Some people will be in your life only for a short time, and that’s fine. It doesn’t mean they are less valuable. But there are other relationships that will endure and are worth fighting for, even when it seems easier to let go. Trust yourself to know which are which.

Related: allow yourself to fall totally in love as many times as it takes to find true love. The falling is the fun part and it’s worth doing more than once. Staying in love takes more work, though it doesn’t necessarily feel like work if you’re doing it right. Mending your own broken heart will teach you more about yourself than you can learn in any other way. It will also teach you empathy.

Be grateful for the strong, healthy body you have. Don’t start turning sideways in the mirror every time you get in/out of the shower, get dressed, go to the bathroom, or otherwise. Obsessing about what is (big boobs) or isn’t (flat stomach) there isn’t going to make either thing disappear. Apply the 80/20 rule by focusing on what’s good and committing to work on what you’d like to improve. Do not strive for perfection, as you’ll only be disappointed.

The best money you will ever spend will be to fix your smile. Even better than what you spend on your boobs. Adult orthodontia will come with a lot of negative side effects at the time, but in the end, it will absolutely be worth it. The lesson: don’t let short-term pitfalls get in the way of long-term goals.

If someone offers to teach you something, say yes. What you learn cannot be taken away from you. Take advantage of tuition reimbursement, training opportunities, internships, mentorships, seminars, webinars… All of it is valuable and you take it with you wherever you go. Teach yourself to apply everything you’ve learned along the way in the new scenarios you are faced with.

This one seems obvious, but I implore you to take it very literally: if you get knocked down (or hit by a truck while riding your bike), get back up. Keep getting back up until you can walk again. Then keep walking until you can run again. You are stronger than you think you are.

Be specific about what you want. This applies to every aspect of your life: family, career, partner, social. Don’t flounder about, waiting for what comes to you. Visualize what you want and figure out how to get it. You get one life, so be an active participant in it.

That’s about all I can tell you without giving too much away. It’s going to be a fun time! And the not-so-fun times? They’ll make for good stories.

Best of luck!

Love,
Your 40-year-old Self

P.S. Forty is just another F-word. It’s not so bad!

Daily sMiles

November 6, 2014 Fido, Fun No Comments

Miles gained an affinity for his Halloween costume when he found out where lions register on the food chain.

Look at the determination in his eyes! He is out to get his next prey: string cheese.

Miles’ affinity for the costume was a direct correlation to how many treats he was plied with when asked to wear it. We spent weeks wearing it around the house and playing fetch in the yard so that he’d grow comfortable wearing the mane and not insisting on pulling it off every time he stopped moving. It got to the point that he would get excited every time I showed it to him. Your classical conditioning shit is more than a theory, Pavlov!

He wore it to the office and to a party on Halloween and made many people very happy. Even dog-haters couldn’t help but grin. The little girls who live across the street came running out in their pajamas screaming, “YOU TURNED HIM INTO A LION!” That’s right. Miles the Friendly Lion.

Or, if you are interested, make me an offer on him being your Cowardly Lion for next year’s Wizard of Oz group costume.