Secret Places with Girls


Sometimes it’s nice to take just a dog or two and meander.

Brady had an appointment with Kerry, his groomer, today and Youke is hurt, so took Jasmine and Camm with me to explore trails. Pretty sure Youke did something to his paw, although not clear what it is. Hopefully only a tweak of some sort. Gave him doggy aspirin when we got back from the beach yesterday and some more meds this morning. He seemed actually happy to stay home alone, with a frozen stuffed kong of course. And maybe the rest time worked, because he already was favoring the paw far less when we got home late this afternoon. Looks like rest for him for the next few days, then will reevaluate. It’s possible he stepped on something wrong on any of the various trail explorations and beach trips we’ve taken in the past week or so.

The thing about having four dogs and doing so much with all of them so often is that doing anything with any less than four feels easy. Almost like a vacation.

JaYoBaCa get along very well, but the dynamics are constantly shifting and moods and attitudes change daily. It’s like watching a soap opera on Telemundo. You can grasp the basic content, but the language is spoken so fast and just when you think you’ve figured out that Carlos is Maria’s brother, you find out that he’s her step-brother and that he hates her best friend, the maid Wanda, but Wanda has a secret crush on Roberto, who is married to Maria …. and, well, you get the picture. It can be exhausting.

Yesterday, Jasmine was driving me crazy with her barking and jostling of the others. One would think, at nearly 12 years of age and numerous adventures over the past two weeks, that maybe she’d tone it down a bit. Nope. That’s not Jasmine’s style. Still, she was finally pretty tuckered out last night after three hours at the beach and hikes over the past couple of days, so I figured I’d be taking just Camm today. Wrong. Jasmine raced downstairs to the garage entry, making it pretty clear she intended to be included.

Dropped Brady off and off I went with my girls.

Hiking with the girls is actually very relaxing. It’s like the exuberance of Camm’s youth almost cancels out Jasmine’s sometimes high, frenetic energy. Not sure what it is, but the two girl-dogs get along very well in these situations and are most relaxed with one another.

Today’s plan was to explore this trail I accidentally discovered a few months ago.

I stumbled across the trail in March while exploring a scrappy, rough area I frequent with the dogs. Because until recently I didn’t always have a lot of time to divvy up dogs during the weekdays and frequently like to take all four with me and because I don’t necessarily enjoy constant management concerning mine and others (human and canine), I have a general circumference of places within a reasonable driving distance that I go. Most of these places are not particularly pretty or scenic, but the general public aren’t usually out and about either and it allows me and the dogs to just relax and explore.

Anyway, I accidentally found The Secret Trail while following the dogs as they explored the various paths made by animals. The way to The Secret Trail is completely hidden and more so now since I found it in March. The remarkable thing about The Secret Trail in March was that once I followed the faint markings of an animal path, then up alongside a rock face and pack down the faint animal path, the trial opened up and shone before me like a gem. But that particular day I was out in the early evening and had an hour before dark would descend. Not a good time to explore some unknown trail in parts where I’d seen bears before and cougar scat.

So I filed it away to explore some other day.

Fast forward to today and finally, time to check that secret out.

001 Jasmine leads the way on the faint path made by woodland critters.


This is what the trail looks like in May. Pretty overgrown and barely discernible.

003 Camm thinks exploring new places is great fun.

We entered The Secret Trail. 004 Meandered for a while through the overgrown grass, and then came upon a split onto a more defined road.

006 Which way to go? Chose right, and then realized we’d made a loop back to a spot that I knew well. So, since we’d spent no where near the time I thought we’d spend exploring, opted to go left and onto another trail I’d never had time to explore before.

Clearly, we were being discouraged from checking this out. 008 Jasmine was not to be deterred and neither was I. I’ll confess, I was not as agile though.

Another meander down the trail and found out it also looped up to another trail previously known to us.

Jasmine and Camm were thankful for a water source. 010

So, off we went to another offshoot of a well traveled path. This one also pretty overgrown.

012 But sometimes, trails just dead end. And this one did, despite Jasmine’s and Camm’s best efforts to convince me that there were things to explore beyond that path.


Three hours of exploring later and we headed back.

And no, I can’t tell you where this trail is. It’s a secret.


Brady’s Blog, Day 443

I nearly died today.

Human-mom finally got off the couch, went in the scary water closet and dressed for adventure. Knew it was gonna be an adventure cuz the whole family got to go. Except for Sadie-Cat. She always has to stay at home. Human-mom tells her she’s in charge unless one of us stays at home too.

As usual, the drive to adventure took waaaay too long, but finally we got to one of my favorite places.¬† It’s super cool there cuz we always get to play ball. Ball is good. Like usual, we got to play ball first. Finally felt so good to stretch my legs and fly like the wind. Okay, sometimes I let Jasmine or Camm get the ball first, but that’s only cuz I learned they will knock me over if I don’t pretend to be kinda slow sometimes. Especially Jasmine. She makes this weird noise that means she’s getting it first. When I hear that, I just let her get it or I’ll get bowled over. Human-mom says Jasmine is like a linebacker. Camm is just trying to be Bossy Pants cuz she’s always already has a ball in her mouth. Only me and Youke understand the true rules of the ball game.

After we played ball for a while, Human-mom called us and took the balls away. No worries. That means it’s time for me to explore the woods. Human-mom doesn’t put the stupid-um leash on me at this place and I can pretty much pee on anything I want, sniff around and try to find interesting critters. I do humor her though and keep an eye on them all. I don’t want to find out they were doing something fun without me.

Had a super fun time, running around, sniffing stuff, asking Human-mom to play ball some more, but she kept telling us we were on a break. I was just really getting my groove on when I caught a scent of something pretty fine. I went off the trail we were on and went deeper into the woods.

Then it happened. A woodland critter and a pretty big one that can run really fast went by me. I started screaming when I found it and went running through the woods after it.

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Another Agility Weekend

Traveled to Salem, Oregon this weekend for an agility trial. Mainly because the option of staying home on a long holiday weekend wasn’t very appealing. I get very grumpy when I have to share trails with the masses that decide to come out on long holiday weekends. I realize that’s not a very gracious attitude, but being bumped and jostled, being constantly told how friendly other pooches are and seeing a lot of inappropriate footwear pisses me off.

So off me and JaYoBaCa went to Salem. Originally intended to leave super early to avoid any and all holiday traffic. But the nagging premonition of being stranded with a flat on a highway with four dogs saw me off instead to the nearest Les Schwab tire center Friday morning. Okay, the premonition was not so much some eerie extrasensory glimpse into the future as it was my low pressure sensor coming on suddenly last week, then going away, then coming back on again. Turns out, screw in a tire. Which sounds like some kinky sex thing, but not. Easily fixed and for no charge, thus all danger averted. And since I get obsessed with these fears, opted to purchase a new spare to replace the one that was punctured in April when I was rear-ended. That was not free. Yikes – big ass tires cost a lot, even single big-ass tires.

Still, thanks to the efficient folks at Les Schwab and the fact that I dragged myself there by 7:45 am, back at the house by 9 am to load up the rest of our stuff and get on the road by 10 am. I’d originally thought it might take six hours to get to Salem with the anticipated holiday traffic, but instead, it was clear sailing. Until Portland. This trip, I decided to be smart and go around Portland since it’s always hell getting through there, not realizing that the alternate took me by the airport. Anyway, bogged down pretty much from Portland to Salem. Nonetheless, the trip didn’t take as long as originally thought, so still a win, and that was with a stop for the dogs for a potty break.

Checked into our hotel room – extra special expensive this time due to the holiday weekend and some conference where people dressed up in what appeared to be their best¬† ’80s Sunday church-going outfits. Needless to say, pretty sure I was the only person there that had four dogs and looked disheveled all weekend.

Despite the hotel’s pride in the “recently renovated” rooms, our room still smelled like an armpit. I learned a long time ago, this is the price to be paid when traveling with dogs. Se la vie. I was able to ignore it most of the time and it wasn’t like we spent a lot of time there. At least it had a mini-fridge. These things are important when traveling with cheese and meats … for the dogs.

Oh, so yeah – the trial. Super laid back, one-ring CPE, only four classes each day. Which doesn’t totally explain why the trial ended at 6 pm on Saturday, but still fun.

007Typical agility trial set up and barn.

006Beautiful little hill of flowers for dogs to pee on.


Camm thought this one was pretty, but found out bees thought it was pretty too. Later Brady peed on it. Didn’t see any bees after that.

I was super happy with how all four dogs did, especially as this was only the second time we’d been to this trial site. But then, they did really well the first time there too last November. The only bummer about this site is that despite a big field, dogs can’t be off leash and run around and the small fenced paddock was always occupied and didn’t seem good for ball throwing for my crew. Nonetheless, JaYoBaCa were tired out.

0017 pm-ish and time for bed.


No room on the bed for the human that feeds them, takes them on fun adventures and purchases overpriced hotel rooms for them to sleep in after an exhausting day of waiting in the car and doing a few minutes of jumping, running through tunnels and climbing a-frames. Nope. So I read a book for a while before I forced them to move over and make room for me. I was very tired too and still managed to sleep with dogs on my legs, spooned against my back and on top of one of my pillows.

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I’ve Got Priorities

In the interest of trying to provide my suddenly footloose and fancy free life some structure, I’ve vowed to do something constructive every day. Yes, every day.

I made myself commit to this about three weeks ago, on the very same day I got The Call. See, my first reaction to The Call was “what the fuck am I gonna do with all this free time I’m gonna have???!” Other reactions and thoughts followed, but seriously, that was the first thing that slapped me upside of the head.

I know myself well enough that if I don’t make a vow to so something productive, I’ll be completely unproductive.

How’s that going so far you may ask?

Lay off with the demands! It’s not even the first week!

Okay, but I have at least done something each day. Mostly it’s been about the dogs, but anyone that knows me would figure that’s pretty much a given.

So this didn’t happen. It’s on the list. In fact, it’s at the top of the list.

001Yes, feel free to look more closely. Those are dust bunnies. I think they might actually be dust hares. Hares are bigger than bunnies.

Despite the fact that giant clods of dog hair, dirt and other assorted items from the natural outdoors world that people don’t usually want in their house have taken up residence, they are still there, right now.

I’m taking this as a sign of my personal well being. I tend to clean when I’m angry or upset about something. My house is a freakin’ dirty mess. Therefore I must be quite happy and content. Either that or it’s simply so overwhelming that it’s depressing to think about. Moving on…

Instead, I opted to do this:

003That’s right. I looked up points for each of the dogs for their various levels in CPE (Canine Performance Events) and I entered Brady in a trial coming up in June now that he’s been cleared to return to normal activities.

Since that took a lot of mental concentration, I moved on to this:

002Actually, this felt like a major accomplishment. I cannot even remember the last time I sat down and read a book for several hours – in the middle of a weekday. Well, I did do it a few times last summer, but always after the east coast office had closed for the day.

I was joined on the couch by Youke, who is pretty much the best nap partner ever, and everyone else assumed their nap positions in various spots near the couch. They sort of look like satellites orbiting around the mothership that is the couch. Tuesday’s beach trip completely wore JaYoBaCa out and they were still feeling the impact yesterday when this took place. Naturally, all that peaceful happy snoozing lulled me in a nap as well.

Today, I decided it was time for more physical activity. This was actually part of an evil plan I concocted earlier in the week when Brady was given the all clear. Three weeks of restricted activity and he’s entered in a trial this weekend. Lord help me! Time for a trip into the woods.

002Off we went. Four hours later, I returned with four happy and tired dogs. I think I accomplished the mission, Brady, who has to spend about half of every hike on leash due to the tempting nature of nature itself, was walking, not jogging when we got back to the Jeep. Poor Youke was so tired, I briefly contemplated carrying him for a while. Of course Camm was still perky. And Jasmine too. Hard to believe she’ll soon be 12. The thought occurred to me today that she might outlive us all.

Of course, I might have over-accomplished. Had to take a hot shower when I got back to loosen up. Never a good sign when the aches and stiffness start the second you disembark from your vehicle and waddle back into the house.

But still one more priority for the day – other than making Brady’s day perfect and letting him rip at tonight’s agility class. Yup, should be entertaining, and frightening. He hasn’t done agility in a month.

Had to pack up some stuff for this weekend’s show.

004Because getting out of town and playing with your dogs is ever so much more important than, say, cleaning your house or job hunting or other stuff that most people think is normal.

A Magic Beach Day

“You must have some magic,” a man with a black lab called out to me as I walked in the deep sand, towed along by my four dogs.

“How’s that?” I asked.

“They’re all so calm and walking nicely,” the man hollered back. Meanwhile, I kept an eye on his dog, wary it was gonna run amok and upset my delicate dog balancing act.

There’s a reason my dogs were being so lovely. They were tired. See, three and half hours running on the beach will do that.

So it turn out that when you’re unemployed, you have time to do fun things, like go to the beach with your dogs on a gorgeous day in May.


Being that I am unemployed, I opted to try to sleep in a bit. Of course, Camm chose this morning to have some kind of weird tummy issue that resulted in extremely loud rumbling noises. So if I was already awakened by the two trips outside before 7 am, I was kept awake by the grumblings and echoes from within her tiny stomach. I never knew such a small belly could be so loud.

I finally got out of bed, with the sort of idea of going to the beach, but I was grumpy and needed coffee first. And it turned out that after Camm’s third trip outside, she needed a quick pants bath. See when you have gorgeous flowing feathers or “pants,” sometimes “stuff” sticks there. Luckily for me, Camm knows this routine and is surprisingly cooperative. All I have to do it tell her she’s got “poopy pants” and she races to the tub for a quick scrub and shower.

So. got that done, but then still grumpy and feeling at loose ends. That latter is something I’m going to be fighting. It’s a bit of a shock to go from clocking in before 8 am and just working on getting shit down until it’s done and making sure you’re kicking ass while you’re doing it to pondering what time you’re gonna get up, should you check Facebook, personal email or not and what hike you’ll do or what adventure you’ll take your dogs on today. So it’s like a vacation. An extra long, super extended vacation. Fun, yes, but for a type A personality, disconcerting too.

So after much thinking – because I have a lot of time to think – found myself on a ferry and headed to a beach.

I don’t know where that man was when we got there, but there was absolutely nothing magical about our arrival. Brady has been on restricted activity for three weeks due to a bite wound and the removal of a cyst and was wound up tight. Jasmine is almost always frantic with excitement when we head to a new place and Camm is a handful anyway. Even Youke, “my good dog,” was being a brat and winding around my legs and pulling with excitement on his leash. Yep, me, four dogs, a rucksack, a camera and poop bags, tangled together and flying down the path. It’s a miracle I didn’t fall or trip, so maybe there was something magical there. Nothing magical about people’s faces as we swept by though. Only pure horror.

I finally unclipped Youke and Jasmine before something horrible happened, as in my face being abraded in the sand from all the dragging. They flew into the soft sand and into … an algae-filled tidal pool. Great.

By then Camm and Brady had managed to twine themselves into each other’s leashes, so I let them go to. As I watched Brady fly around in circles at warp speed nine and then leap into the surf, I quietly hoped that he would wear off three weeks of restricted activity between today and the next couple of days or I will be screwed at this weekend’s agility trial.

The first half hour out at the beach was potentially appalling, but a quick call here to avoid other dogs, and skirting around a few couples prevented any interactions with the crew of crazies. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch Brady scarfing down his crab dinner until he was nearly finished, but at least he was the only one who even thought about partaking of a seafood dinner. We even has a red Aussie with a tail momentarily join us with no scuffles. Of course, that’s because no one but Brady even noticed her. I guess to Jasmine, Youke and Camm, all crazy red dogs look alike. Unfortunately, the red Aussie came with a little girl. The little girl started running down the beach to join in the fun. Knowing that Camm has a serious aversion to small screaming unformed human beings, I managed to quickly leash her up and strike out for the deeper water. Luckily, the more fully formed larger human beings saw the small person and called her back.

A half mile out from the way we came onto the beach, and peace and quiet. And very, very happy dogs.


Nothing. Nothing but us out for a fun day of adventure.


Three and a half hours of running in the sand, leaping in and out of the water, swimming, trying to catch cranes and exploring the driftwood. Okay, that was JaYoBaCa. I just walked in the sand, took a lot of pictures and got really dirty. And really sunburned. Note to self, this is gonna hurt tomorrow.


I still am amazed at how different parts of the west coast are. You’d never see a stretch of beach this secluded and undeveloped back east.

And then it was time for us to turn back. Another 90 minutes or so.


So that is the magic part. Pretty simple really.

Maple Bacon Popcorn



It’s my first official post.

I was going to write about my new state of unemployment. I was going to tell you about the sudden abyss of free time, the scary fear and anticipation of the future and how I’m going to hike every day in the next two weeks with my dogs.

But then I thought maybe I’ll write about the wonderful people in my life, near and far, who have been so incredibly supportive in the past couple of months and how much I’ve valued their advice and how much they’ve made me laugh. (Okay, I maybe made them laugh more with the drama of my life of late).

Then there’s the bit about how my life is a country song lately. But I think that’s another post.

So, instead, I’m going to tell you about maple bacon popcorn. And about itty bitty chocolate cupcakes with sparkly frosting. Read More



This. Going away.