Weekend foursome

This thing (I think it’s a cecropia moth):

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When I first saw it swooping and diving near a utility light at twilight, I thought it was a bat. Someone said it was a moth and I thought, “No way.” Then the next day, we saw it settled on the same pole. It was HUGE. We took turns staring at it forever before one of us finally touched it. It was so huge and fuzzy, I half expected it to start purring. After awhile it flew away, right into the path of a large bird. We all cringed in anticipation of a Gruesome Nature Lesson, but the moth flew on untouched. (However, the next day, Jason pointed out its dead body on the ground. Dammit, Nature!)

These two buds:

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The black dog is Tobie. She is gentle and friendly and quick to remind you with a paw to your leg if you are not petting her. She is also extremely tolerant of Shorty, who feels entitled to everything of hers, including the sleep mat. Surprisingly, Tobie didn’t nudge him out of the way, but just used him as a body pillow instead. He was fine with that.

Our dog’s IQ:

We played cards inside the camper of some new friends. They have a wonderful dog named Molly who isn’t quite sure of Shorty but lets him invade her space. Molly used to scarf her food down too quickly, so her owners now feed her using one of those toys that dispenses food pellets one at a time out of a plastic bottle once the dog pulls a rope out of the hole blocking the food. Molly was a pro at it, holding the rope in her mouth and using her paw to bat the bottle backwards so the pellets could come pouring out. Afterwards, we thought it would be funny to see if Shorty could do it.

Oh, he couldn’t. Not even close. He was biting at the wrong end of the bottle – the completely sealed-up end. But man oh man, was he trying. He was using his paw to hold the bottle in place and biting on that closed bottle with everything he had. Sometimes he’d walk away, give a little shake of his head, and start all over – at the wrong end. Finally, I took it away from him because I was afraid he was going to break the thing. However, I maintain that he is not completely dumb, since he realized if he tried futilely long enough, one of us would feel sorry for him and demonstrate how it worked – meaning he got food anyway.

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I’m smarter than you think, you guys.

The neighborhood bullies

While we were unloading the vehicle after camping, Jason and I heard some chittering and chattering. All of a sudden, two red squirrels came darting out of nowhere, skittering across the top of our fence while fighting viciously. All they needed were tiny swords to complete the tableau. One of them tried to escape by jumping on top of our pop-up camper and then launching himself onto the ground directly between Jason and I. I had a split second of thinking, “HA! Jason screams like a girl!” right before I saw the squirrel sprint jerkily toward my bare legs. So there were two girly screams shrieked in our driveway before the squirrel zipped away to a nearby tree to presumably laugh his head off.

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Autumn fling

Last weekend, Jason and I took our last camping trip of the season. For the past five years, we’ve gone to the same campground in Wisconsin and for the past three years, we’ve stayed in the same site. Because all of our other camping trips are with friends and family, this is the one trip where it’s just us. Which means there’s no one to notice if we nap after lunch. Or before lunch. Or dinner.

This year was the chilliest by far. The sun came out in short microbursts, mostly just to show us that it could shine, it just chose not to.

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Enjoy these seven minutes of warmth, losers!

My mittens, which I packed in a slightly embarrassed “maybe I’ll need them at night” kind of way, hardly ever left my hands. I also broke down and bought a stocking cap for $2.50 at a nearby gas station. Best money I ever spent. Also, the presence of Furnace Puppy™ helped matters greatly (he alternated sleeping in our sleeping bags with us, coming up for air once in awhile to cool off before switching to the other sleeping bag).

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Shorty was a trouper. Ever since we got him a sleeping pad to lie on outside, he’s been better at not seeming like such a city dog. (I have to sit on the ground? Like a DOG???) But that still didn’t prevent him from sitting on his pad and shivering (for effect – it was 50 degrees out) while looking at us dolefully.

The older he gets, the more mellow he is around strangers. He only barked at two people the entire weekend, and in fact, this was the first time we witnessed him initiating contact with people. I think he’s slowly realizing that: People want to pet me. Petting is nice. If I bark, people don’t pet me. Therefore, I should not bark.

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(I had just asked him if he wanted to go for a walk. His answer was a polite HELL YES.)

He is the ideal hiking dog. This time, he actually led the way, although he still had the disturbing habit of running RIGHT UP TO THE EDGE before putting on the brakes so he could stare longingly at the 100-foot drops, all “Should I or shouldn’t I?” while I hyperventilated in the background.

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He even seems to understand when we tell him which way to go. At one point, we came to a fork in the path and Shorty headed to the right. Without pulling on his leash, Jason said, “Nope, buddy. Let’s head to the left.” And he did.

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You all right down there, man?

We’ve yet to time our trip with the leaves at their peak. Last year we were too late. This year we were too early. But it was still beautiful:

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Our site didn’t have electricity (hello, ability to see my breath in the camper at night!) so we either grilled hot dogs on our portable grill or just got food from town (this is known as “roughing it”). We passed on this store’s offering:

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(It was also misspelled both times on the other side of the sign, too. HEALHY!)

While Jason picked up food, I was in charge of Lighting the Campfire, my favorite thing. (Seriously, I search for kindling like an obsessed woman.) Unlike past years, the wood this year was dry.

With it being so chilly, we retreated to the camper most nights after the fire went out and played games, like cribbage (I’m slowly relinquishing my year-long lead in this year’s tournament), Yahtzee (Jason, after getting his THIRD Yahtzee: This game bores me) and “Guess the Song” with the iPod on shuffle (Jason: The Monkees are the most magical band in the land!)

All in all, it was a fun trip and we can’t wait to go back next year.

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Although this time we’re gonna spring for an electric site.

Fall camping

Jason and I were able to escape our jail cells, I mean, our workplaces (by shanking coworkers IN THE FACE) to escape for a long weekend of camping. But a few hours before we were scheduled to leave, we realized Sunny most likely had a UTI, so I coerced our vet to dispense medicine without seeing us, which meant they gave me the usual antibiotic, plus a pain reliever and a sedative – just to be safe, which was not at all safe, because although we wisely refrained from giving Sunny the sedative until we were back home, her reaction to it was not so good because her pupils immediately blew up to creepy proportions, she started staggering around like a drunk, um, cat, and her balance was so off she did all of the following: bump into walls, trip down the stairs, miss jumping up on a table, and fall over in the litterbox.

Where was I? Oh yes, camping. So we headed to St. Croix Falls, where upon entering the campground we discovered they had just turned off the water for the season. No biggie. We just didn’t shower…for three days.

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4th of July

We went camping at our favorite campground, Baylor. There were 16 of us there, plus six dogs, but the campground sites are h-u-g-e, so each dog got their own tree and no one got tangled in a messy knot of dog cable. There was even room for the carnivorous mosquitoes, despite me spraying myself repeatedly with bug spray containing 29% DEET, and before I finally went to bed super early one night just to avoid the jerks, one of them bit me in the side, leaving a ginormous bite that would balloon up to the size of Brock Lesnar because it was in the precise spot as my shorts waistband. (Four days later, it’s still huge.)

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Besides the bugs, it was a marvelous weekend. Shorty was wonderful; he hardly barked unless another dog startled him awake with their own barking, or when he saw some horses for the first time during the parade. (You could tell his frantic barking meant, “WTF are these things?!? Dear god we’re all going to die!”) But he met all kinds of strangers and never barked once, leading one of our friends to say, “He’s matured.” A little girl from another campsite came over to pet him and half-squatted down, leading Shorty to try to climb into her half-lap. (That dog is the definition of a lap dog, I swear. You bend over to pick something off the ground and he’s trying to crawl into your lap.)

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The kids were beside themselves: they had glow sticks, water guns, giant balloons and a 3-in-1 toy that served as a flashlight, glow stick and whistle (we didn’t tell them about the whistle part).

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I’m pretty sure this was the tree hideout of the bird that crapped on my hand as I was eating my delicious dinner of tacos. He kept up the crap catapulting until we moved the picnic tables, but not before he delivered three or four more direct hits, hitting a plate of tortilla chips and a container of lettuce. Stupid sniper bird! His aim was deadly.

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When we got home, we discovered someone left us a stowaway: Dolly Woodboy! Argh. Jason had me put him in the garage on our bikes and I’ll tell you what: the next six times I went into the garage that night I responded the same way: “GAAAAAAH!”

Then Jason wanted to put Dolly in Shorty’s kennel with him, but HAHAHHAHA. No way, Jose. Shorty barked his head off until we apologized and backed out of his room sheepishly. So while his barking at strangers has improved dramatically, his barking at creepy dolls is still at an all-time high. Which is good, because my nightmare is that that stupid doll will break out of the garage and try to kill us in our sleep.