Some Like It Hot

So, having a heatwave here in the Pacific Northwest.

Some 30 years ago this would’ve made me extremely happy. Of course then I lived in a place with winters that regularly reached temperatures of below zero degrees and grew up thinking all people pretty much had to tunnel out of their driveways by mid-winter due to the many feet of snow.

When I was in college, dozens of us would break out our teeny-weenie bikinis and line up outside in “The Quad” on our bath towels, slather baby oil on and bask in the few warm days we’d get on occasion in April and May.

Throughout my late teens and into my 20s, I spent all available time off in the summer sunbathing or swimming at the lake or ocean. I could usually be found at the beach, on a lawn chair at my mom’s or on a lawn chair at whatever residence I was at. One year I frequented the roof of my apartment building. I found that the flat portion of the roof and the tar-paper, combined with the aluminum flashing, really made one believe, if they closed their eyes really tight and didn’t look at the tar-paper, the metal flashing, and breathe in the noxious fumes of Portsmouth, NH , that they were in a tropical paradise.

Eventually I moved to a tiny sort of run-down little bungalow that I fell in love with. One of its best features was that it had a tiny little mostly fenced yard that offered a great deal of privacy from the large parking lot that adjoined it and the city that surrounded it. I’d spend hours on a lawn chair out there, reading books and surrounded by bamboo. The kind of bamboo that if you don’t regularly run it over with a lawnmower – a process that ideally should take place every two days – would take over the entire yard. I spent the time I wasn’t in a lawn chair those summers mowing down bamboo. I’m proud to say that eventually I won that battle. Then I bought the place, moved and rented it out and no one cared as much as I did.

The bamboo came back in full force. But I sold the house and the buyer eventually mowed it and the bamboo-ridden lawn over and made the entire property part of the even bigger parking lot.

My dangerous sunbathing ways stayed with me when I moved to South Florida. In fact, for a sun worshiper, it seemed as if I might be moving to paradise! That was until I found out that the space between Fort Lauderdale and Miami was essentially Long Island South. It’s really difficult for some of us Native New Englanders to embrace certain most virtually all Long Islanders.

Imagine my dismay when I discovered that instead of many hot Latin types, I was surrounded by pudgy retired Long Island types.

I’ll give them one thing though. They were tan. Very, very tan.

So, because I didn’t really end up caring all that much for South Florida, I worked on my tan, a lot. I look back at pictures from my few years there in the late ’90s and am shocked at how dark I was. It’s a wonder I didn’t become Magda.

I tan fairly easily, after the initial redness anyway and after the freckles all meld together, something I’ve always credited to having Jamaican and Native American genes. But the Scottish side is being favored a lot more these days.

Then I moved to the Pacific Northwest and froze for the first year. After I got used to it not being warm and tropical again, I learned to live with the nine months of drizzle and grey and temperatures that hovered between 45-60 all the time. I learned to live with it because the summers are spectacular.

My first summer in the Pacific Northwest, we experienced a three-day stretch of temperatures in the high 90s. I distinctly recall being outside on a lawn chair sunning my newly bright white body with my ex beside me and us exclaiming how it didn’t feel like it was that warm. We went to dinner with sort of friends (his maybe, not mine) who kept complaining about how humid it was. We exchanged glances. Humid? Clearly these people had no fucking clue as to what humidity was!

Now, some 15 years of living here later and I’m the one bitching that it’s too hot.

Truthfully, I still like warm, even hot, weather. It’d be great if all I really had on my agenda was to break out the lawn chair and crack a book open. Even better if I was stationed beside a large body of water that I could occasionally take a dip in and a tumbler of something liquid, icy and refreshing.

Sadly, I need to work and my present employment requires lots of time outside being active. Sometimes really active depending upon the activity level of the dog I’m with and its age. I am discovering though that unless they’re my dogs, the heat does seem to have a direct correlative effect on the energy level of most dogs, even puppies, and especially if they’re all black.

But honestly – and many of you may already have known I was going here – the main reasons I can’t really tolerate the real heat anymore is because of dog agility and hiking.

At least a lot of hiking can be done in shady green spots and lots of trails have water to splash in, even in the high of summer.

For most dogs, my own included, the ideal agility weather is probably when the temps hover between 40 and 55 degrees. Jasmine actually preferred when the weather was downright cold and loved doing agility in the winter. The other three definitely like it in the more moderate range, but Brady and Camm are so nutso-cookoo-crazy that they’ll play even if it hits the 90s and above. Youke pretty much calls it quits at above 90 and humours me at above 80.

When I first started off on this crazy agility thing, I had fantasies about the outdoors trials and how fabulous it’d be to be sunning myself and playing with my dog all at the same time and doing it of course in a super cute tank top and shorts.

Those fantasies died when 1) I realized how actually fucking hot it is in the direct sunlight for nine hours at a time 2) how fucking dehydrated one can get when being outside in the fucking direct sunlight for nine hours at a time 3) how fucking sweaty one gets when running around with a dog (now dogs) in the fucking direct sunlight for nine hours at a time 4) how much fucking dog hair sticks to sweaty bodies, and lastly 5) how not cool it looks to wear your cute shorts when blood is running down your leg from your fucking over-amped asshole dog that has no tolerance for handler errors and decides to make his point about your decision to employ that late blind cross by nipping you.

So now, my favorite seasons to play agility are spring and fall. Temperate seasons here are enjoyable, even with rain. And I don’t need to run with so many layers that I look like the Michelin Man – although perhaps safer with the aforementioned dog of little tolerance.

This past weekend, I was at an agility trial and Sunday was in the high 80s. In mid-April.

I had seen the weather forecast and knew to pack warm weather gear. Still, I couldn’t bear to expose the extreme brightness of my legs. or to tempt the aforementioned asshole dog with the sight of my tender delicate legs.

And was it ever warm. Luckily, there was a nice breeze on Sunday that made it fairly bearable. At least if you were outside. Or positioned in the right spot in the arena.

The center aisle though was a stagnant, airless microwave. I had to excuse myself at one point while talking to a friend as I felt like I was going to faint.

I actually looked forward to driving the several hours home because 1) plushy leather chairs in The Living Room on Wheels and 2) superb air-conditioned comfort while sitting in the plushy leather chairs of the LRoW. I’m sad to say we hit no traffic and I was home in about three hours.

However, despite the heat and my fears that either I or my dogs would perish being roasted by clear blue skies and sunlight, we did well this past weekend and had fun.

In fact, all three of the dogs were super amped up when I walked in with them for their first runs on Saturday morning. It was cool at that time on Saturday and we have not been to a completely filled two-ring trial in a very long time. They felt the energy and excitement in the air.

Naturally, Youke did best in his morning runs, before the heat became too extreme in the arena, which has a metal roof. But even at the height of the spring heat midway on Sunday afternoon, he rallied and had a decent run in standard. Youke is now four standard runs away from his C-ATCH 3 and only a couple of runs away from being qualified from CPE Nationals in May of 2017. What I liked the most was how smooth and efficiently he ran most of the time and how game he was to play on every run. It’s weird to think that it now feels like a zen moment most of the time to run with him.

Brady was nearly perfect for the weekend. A tricky jumpers course at the end of Sunday was just a bit beyond his and my mental prowess late Sunday. But to our credit, we only had one off course and did most of the course well. He nailed one of the games courses in 13 seconds on Saturday, becoming the second fastest dog of the entire class, and had a stellar performance in the non-traditional jackpot run. Brady had a solid weekend overall and was kind to me – as in no hissy fits -but I’m glad he gets a break next weekend.

Camm was amazing. Mostly amazing as I still have such low expectations. I might need to raise them a bit. For the third weekend in a row she mostly held her contact criteria. The best part of the weekend was her performance in the standard runs. Camm nailed three out of four and two of them were pretty much flawless. Camm is one snookers run away from completing everything she needs for her Level 3 title and after this weekend is only about a handful of runs away from qualifying for CPE Nationals.

I debated a few weeks ago as to whether that should really be a goal I have for her, but after this weekend, I think it’s a realistic goal to have. The event is over a year away and she’ll be five years of age then and will have another full year of performance. I love that she never really gets fazed when going to new facilities and damn, the girl is just a whole lot of fun to run.

This picture speaks to the fun and crazy unbelievable heat of the weekend. Thanks Pam for getting this for me!

Youke Crazy



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