07 February 2016

The Superbowl in San Jose.

Our Superbowl and half time show rolled into one.

The Superbowl was in San Jose. I saw the half time pageant on tv, where Gwen Stefani's cheating ex-husband danced around on the stage decorated in rainbow pride's finest Bollywood flowers. That was fine. Except for the part where he cheated on Gwen Stefani. There was some white, some black, some brown, covered a lot of bases. Bruno Mars is cute, he had on a leather sweat suit.

The problem of the Superbowl, it's in San Jose. Santa Clara exactly. Not San Francisco. San Francisco's what they're selling, turning it upside down, kicking out the homeless in the name of, Superbowl? We just stayed away. Everything for weeks, all about the Superbowl. Don't mind the traffic, it's just the Superbowl.

OK. But Beyonce. So, ok, for that. How could anyone not like Mrs. Beyonce? I know how you work, though, Superbowl, don't think we don't get it.

When we took a walk today, we walked the railroad tracks across the westside, as far west as you can go without hurting your feet on the rocks. Didn't find much, no comatose people this time, just three big empty brandy bottles and a shattered faux tiffany plastic chandelier.

We detoured on to the road, past the storage units where the girl we helped out a few years back got arrested in the big meth bust a few weeks back. Past where the old Latino guys park and ride, ancient guys unloading ancient bikes out of ancient trucks and ride wherever they're on their way to. Nobody cares if you park there, by the razor wire lot where people's rvs live. Past the gaggle of ladies and their colorful bikes and colorful goggle and helmets and all their accessories and sweat, lounging on the sidewalk by the fancy bikeshop in the gum factory. This is industry now, on the westside, a bike shop and soon a extra hip coffee shop with whatever the new barn wood will be, plastered on the wall for a really nice $5 coffee. We had to step carefully around them, lounging with all their things.

We just wanted some quiet. The train tracks is our only place now, who would want to walk along there? I guess the people who are spending the money to turn the tracks into a lovely paved walkway, and a tourist train would chug along where the cement train used to go. One hundred and twenty seven million dollars, that's what they want to pave a path. The old train, street kids would hop it on it's way out of town, hop it south at the intersection by Safeway and ride to wherever the cement went. I used to wave at them, huddled on the bars outside the rail cars, hunkered down with backpacks and pitbulls, ready to ride where it took them.

A few times I've walked the conveyer line, but it's mountain lion country there and very private property. To make cement, the rocks came out of the quarry, a pit the size that would make your jaw drop, dug out of redwoods, a blistering hole that nobody's supposed to see. The rocks got put on the conveyer, rode miles down the hill, ground up into toxic dust that blistered the lungs of everyone nearby. Then on the train and south it went.

Now maybe this can be a lovely pathway and a scenic train, drag more people up the coast and through the tracks where I walk the dogs. I dunno. I like it ok the way it is. It's rocky, so most people stay off. The train's long gone, shut down when the cement plant shut, so we never worry about being hit by the train. It's quiet on the tracks, ghostly quiet, so we use them to go north and south.

These are things the Superbowls don't care too much about. Every pyrotechnic explosion and digital effect and Superbowl village and private jet landing. Maybe we actually didn't want it, didn't need it. Just over the mountain was too close for us.

05 February 2016

Some days and nights up in Boonville.

Spent some days and nights up in Boonville.

The big thing there is to go for a walk. Some of the walks are for Ruby. She's been there so many times, she can get to the pond and back with no ears and not so much eyes.

Some of the walks are for Not Ruby. Like when we walk to the very top of the hills, further up than you can see, then walk all the way back down. This takes a long time, and is a lot of miles. I don't know how many. Enough so your legs are sore by the end.

But just going to the pond's cool too.

Because everybody can go.

Off in the hills though, this is a place for border collies. So much running, so much wild, so much only the hills and trees and sky.

So much.

Land can be dangerous. We found out when we were there, some friends of mine had a dog eat a poisonous mushroom under the oak trees there last year, and died. We didn't know. I'm already kind of a freak about mushrooms, same as snakes. When we see them walking around, I call them danger. But a scary thing to think about, just one bite, and dead.

We had a day of 3 legged Gustavo, miserable he with the giant swelled up foot. You can't just rush to the vet there. No vet but for a long time in the car. I gave him time for me to decide, snake bite, broken, or something else. We lucked out on the something else and 4 legged by the evening. Luckily not everything there is dangerous.

A lot of going to the hard entrance on a-poles. But reinvented as a drinking game. Boonville beer for brunch, and Boonville wine for dinner. A lot of weave poles worked on, I think her entrances and style are improved.

And at the end of the day, this. We wish this was our all of the time life. But only for specials. Maybe someday.

31 January 2016

Pirate property.

Pirate property.

This is the face I see on a rainy day when I leave for work and the dogs hardly did nothing very good. Watching out the window, wishing for a forest or a beach or a trip up to the agilities. There's some nice things to see on our street, neighbors take their dog for a stroll or the guys with giant bags of cans ride by on their bikes, rain or shine. Meager entertainment, but better than nothing.

A lot of rainy days are waiting for the sun again. And fighting mud. Four dogs and sixteen paws is a lot of mud and wet and it's in my house and I can't get it out because the rain's starting again. Four of the paws belong to Banksy who no likes to have human hands that are my personal hands touch the paws and this is just such a pain in the ass, Banksy.

We're actually happy for this fact, the fact of the mud not the paw horrors, because, the drought. See the smile? We look for places to go that are novel and new. And not so muddy.

We visit our old haunts for on the fly agilities.

On the fly, due to the pirate properties. Not everybody cares about dogs and muddy feet and there are so many places that don't want the dogs there anymore. It was stealth before, now it's super high level security clearance secret agent Maxwell Smart stealth. We did have to make a run for it last week, at the soccer field where we practice sheepherding with the soccer goals and the old baseball backstop and 3 little black sheep. The cop got the lady with the lab and two little dogs first, while I snapped on leashes and we ran our fastest and made a clean get away.

Sorry, lady with the lab. Pirate property, indeed. We're running out of spots for our dogs here. Keep one eye over your shoulder on lookout, ahoy.

The forest dries out, and when it doesn't, we go some, tromping through the mud holes and up and down the slippery mud slopes. That's a lot of feet to hose off in the driveway.

The little house across the street got bought and remodeled. Even smaller than ours, only 500 square feet. With not even a speck of yard or garage. Paid almost three times what we paid for our house way back when, computer people from the city bought it because they always wanted a little cottage. They come and visit it every now and again. Don't have any dogs, but sure do have nice cars.

Pirate property. Even the pirates feel the squeeze. Maybe our schooner carries us away next time the tidal surge comes in. Carries us away to some green grass and some open land. Maybe, we'll see.

22 January 2016

Run for the shadows, nothing's gonna stop you in these golden years.

This is a thing I don't think Lady Mary ever did at Downton Abbey. Get up super early, before even her servants, with only a banana for breakfast, like, ONLY A BANANA, and putting on the day before's muddy pants. Because, why? They're just going to get more muddy again. And Servant Anna probably absconds with any trousers dripping in mud instead of tossing them in the bedroom corner, taking them downstairs to Mr. Bates for transportation to the laundress. If Lady Mary did have this inclination to get her bony ass out of bed, it would have been a muddy tweed day, no sparkle headbands worn down low nearly to the bridge of one's nose this early in the morning.

Not being Lady Mary, though, not even close, I put on a wooly hairband thing over my hairnest that covers up where I couldn't get the comb through. No time for actual ready to look at hair. If I cut my hair into her bob, perhaps the hair troubles wouldn't follow me. But it's just another thing to do, that isn't running dogwalks. Because we need to get up there early, up the hill and up the hill again, to the grassy field, where the dogwalk lives. We rent the dogwalk and it's field of green from my friend Kathleen, who is also teaching her young border collie to do the same thing as me. Lady Mary, I can totally guarantee you, never taught her dog a running dogwalk. Nor had to rent a thing. The upstairs class, probably not all that fun. But excellent access to super nice linens and wovens.

David Bowie, I'm pretty sure didn't teach a running dogwalk. He did like a million things a million times more amazing, so for this I have nothing but admiration, but our hero moment, me and Banksy just for one day, is we've figured out for how to get her running across a shoulder high bridge, at 100mph, and always plant her feet to the yellow as they fly by on gossamer wings made of sparkle polyester rhinestone doghair.

This ain't rock and roll. This is genocide. Or not either. I am just teaching my dog to run her fluffy self off across a narrow, portable bridge. But I can't help saying this today, over and over and over. THIS AIN'T ROCK AND ROLL. THIS IS GENOCIDE. Running dogwalks are a sickness inside my mind, and they always need a mantra, a menu of the day scrawled on my rustic chalkboard plopped out front of my rustic barnwood paneled restaurant where I can't afford to eat. I'm so happy because today I've found my friends, they're in my head. There are people in my head explaining this. David Bowie, Lady Mary, and Silvia my Slovenian Wood Nymph.

This is a lot more complicated than you might think. We have a leader, the tireless Silvia Trkman, who teleports detailed instructions from the command center in her house in Slovenia via the internet. After my U.S. dollar paypal's been converted to euros with the tap of a button, all day, she stays glued to her screen in the control tower in the mother ship and waits for incoming video transmissions. Ground control to Major Silvia, may God's love be with you. Because you are in there watching videos all day and all night of dogs of all shapes and sizes trying to run across the planks and hit the yellow. And send coded messages back out across the globe of how to get the feet to better stride over the yellow. RF hits. The rear feet. Whenever possible, in extension, the rear feet must separate and glide through that small patch of yellow at the bottom.

It's simple, really. We have a careful morse code of dogwalk words strung together to explain the footfalls and how to achieve them. From Slovenia into my phone and back, nine hours of time but instructions arrive instantly, the magic of space travel for words and images. When my sun is coming up, the sun in Slovenia is going down. Bright and early, I head up the mountain to run. Underemployment happened to me some months back, which for RDW, a fantastic gift. For purchasing valuable minutes on the dogwalk, not so much, but for time to go in a bit later to work, fantastic. You get what you ask the universe for, right? All those slacker days of wishing for retirement came raining down on me in one fell swoop. It was perhaps a signal of time to return to the life of an artist? I didn't really know a mental illness would take over, the desire to see her dive over the second apex on stride four, then do her signature weirdo footfall pattern down for that fifth stride over the yellow. FF FF RF FF to RF hit.

That's the thing about Lady Mary. Doesn't she even see it's her moment? All those idle hours spent wandering around on the grounds or sitting in the great hall sipping tea. She could be scaling the castle walls and stenciling on a giant upraised fist. Or could be out there working on the harder exit turns. Maybe it's so very bourgeoisie to be striving for huge pockets of a day to run around with a dog, but so be it. I'm never going to be the Lady of the Manor. But my dog will hit the yellow.

When it's finished, the momentous task accomplished, what will I have to show for it? Will it keep me propped up in retirement, the way a prosperous hog farm might, or a pension, or a fat piece of real estate, terra firma under my feet? Is it a legacy that will be remembered by all, advancing us through culture and cutting across fashion, art and social norms? It's a dog running across a bridge. But it's our golden years, true that life may, be, taking us nowhere. But those minutes of the running, me and Banksy who nobody can catch, that's our luck.

Run for the shadows, nothing's gonna stop you in these golden years. David Bowie might have liked this.

21 January 2016

The bluff above the sea.

Often on the way home from work, me and Otterpop have a walk along the bluff above the sea. Only Otterpop goes to work with me these days. Work is not what it used to be, not at all, so usually there's time to park along the highway and for us to walk together out to the edge and stare down at the sea.

It's the wild part of the coast here. Tall jagged cliffs once scaled by whalers, where, when you come to the edge and glance down, turn your stomach of what you see. You're on the edge of the world and below is somewhere I'd never want to go. Maybe on a quiet day you climb down, if the tide's out and the surf is low, but usually you just stay up top and creep back from the edge when the wind's blowing. We walk in the dirt up there, used to be sprouts and berries growing and now gone fallow. A quiet track running along the edge of the world.

The sea took two the other evening, they climbed down the rope, they didn't have no fear of the edge and the water that slams hard enough to eat the rocks into shark's teeth and fish caves and a trillion little pebbles. Three went in and one swam back. Two stayed in and won't never come back up.

The track's mucked up from all the vehicles that drove out there, tried to get in there and find them. Still not found. The families were out there today on the edge, gathered quietly, waiting to see if maybe their loved ones come back. I don't think they will. But maybe. We still walked out there, me and Otterpop. We could see the quiet groups hovering in the same spot they went over, out in the distance. We stay off the edge, stay to the inside, up there on the bluff.

18 January 2016

It was a dark and stormy night.

Here is the last time we do a crazy like this.

Leave the house at 4am to drive to Santa Rosa playing only David Bowie only only only. Creepy stop at creepy rest stop with creepy people but I really had to pee. Get there for first run, Steeplechase at 7:30am on the dot. Rain rain rain for most of the day. Rain boots and mud and flood type rain. A lot of walks to and from the sheep barn where the dogs are sitting in the car for 16 hours until our last run at 8:00 in the pm. 12.5 hours of agility. Something like 14.5 miles worth of walking according to my robobracelet. And course building. And coffee from the coffee cart. Dark and wet and muddy and dark. Then off to Motel 6 where it's ok to let muddy dogs frolic on the 100 towels and sheets I brought along and where Banksy has finally made peace with the terror that was stepping into a motel room and just in time for Downton Abbey. Loud rain all night long.

Some of the good things, just a list:
Banksy wins Steeplechase, Gooey gets 2nd!
All good aframes! Mostly good rdw!
Many Qs in Advanced, Banksy is AD now and almost out of Advanced!
Banksy has less crazy behavior ringside!
Gooey says he loves Jumpers so much!
Banksy says she loves all the agilities so much!
We fixed biting my sleeve after a run when she can't find her leash!
No cops show up at Motel 6! No prostitutes hanging outside my door!

And some things to improve:
Startlines. The deterioration has happened.
The first day had sleeve biting when she couldn't find her leash.
And one time pants biting on some bad handling where she had to lay down and heel her ass straight out of Gamblers.
Teeter totters, a little creepy-divey.
Laying down on tables no fun.
Handling. As in, I need to handle a million times better.
Running faster. By me. Banksy's fine on this one.
Moving past the jump on a push to serpy thing.
Do not ever enter the first and last things in a day again on a big trial.
We are too tired to stay for final round of Steeplechase and drive home.

I tried to run Gooey in Grand Prix. Halfway through he looked at me in a panic. He loves Steeplechase. He loves Jumpers. All things out there all at the same time make him panic and that is it. He doesn't have to go to any Nationals. He can do his Steeplechase and do his Jumpers and run so fast and win. And never be scared again because there are weave poles in the same place as the teeter? Not sure why. Poor Gooey. He just kind of runs around in a frenzy til I run him out. He does his teeters beautifully, oddly enough. Whatever Gooey wants is fine by me.

Otterpop and Ruby come too. Of course they do. We're a team. They walk around some and enjoy a night out in a motel. And some nice walks around on Monday. And the long car trip home. And now we're going to sleep.

10 January 2016

Day 2, Morgan Hill USDAA.

Well, we ended up the weekend still in Starters Standard. One issue one day, a different the other. And we had a bobble in MC Jumpers, thingies happened here and there. Banksy gets many, many gamblers points though, and has mostly very good parts of every single run. She missed just one dogwalk, two pole entries, and lowered herself to the table on Sunday this fast.

T.....h.........i.........s.....................f......a...s ...............t....

Which was endlessly slow, channeling the spirit of our dear old friend Hobbes. Oh my. Can I invent a running table?

So, lots and lots of things to practice. We have a long ways to go. I think we have time. We both just want to go go go!

Banksy really, really likes agility, and really, really likes running in trials! She is figuring out manners are part of the whole deal. But still, a long way to go.

Gooey won $50 in Steeplechase and was so excited to do his runs because a piece of cheese at the end! Yay! Hamster noises! The way I run Gooey now is just get ahead and run as fast as I can and this is now his thing. Me in front, yay! Me behind, nope. I think he would like to just do Steeplechase and Jumpers, so I think that's what we'll do. He got a bite of strawberry yogurt after Jumpers for a special treat! He took some walks! Yay!

There is so much me and Banksy have to figure out. I think actually she has it all figured out and I need to figure out how to guide her a little bit more. I don't think I could have ever found a better teammate for me.

Saturday USDAA in Morgan Hill, in the covered arena.

The milita men are parked in the bird refuge, and Sean Penn found El Chapo in the Mexican jungle. California's still in danger of becoming a dried out old sand dune, and we're at the dog show.

I got one of those armband step counters for Christmas. It's like a little plastic bracelet with a faux padded Chanel print hiding the robots inside. I don't wear it much but I wore it at the dog show. Twelve miles of walking, over thirty thousand steps. Back and forth the the car, back and forth hauling trash to the dumpster, back and forth from one ring to the other.

Banksy ran in it all. Masters Challenge Standard (wrong end of the tunnel), Grand Prix (back up onto the dogwalk and a missed pole entrance), Steeplechase (yikes a scary blind cross and very hard aframe turns resulting in a drive-by) and Starters and Advanced (many Qs. Phew, to be back in that ring).

Except for the very hard Steeplechase (panic panic panic panic) so many good parts just held together with some handling errors. Banksy is amazing. All hits on her dogwalks, some of them not very beautiful but there were some very had entrances and exits, a big deal for us in RDWland. It's a privilege for me to have a Banksy, and I have some work to do to step up to her level.

You know who else is amazing? Gustavo. Holy smokes. He was so happy to get some turns and tried his best and ran as fast as he could. Back to his winning Masters Jumpers self and a Steeplechase Q (yikes there was a scary something in the poles but I asked him to try again and be brave and he said LET'S DO IT!) and a beautiful Grand Prix except for the same missed pole entrance as Banksy.

That was a lot of running for the little guy. To see how excited he is to get some turns, that makes me very happy. Banksy too, the most runs she's ever done in a day and every time she wants just to go in and do some more! She used pretty good manners all day, too. She's getting how this works. Everybody slept in the car in the mist all day. Except me.

Sunday is an extra coffee day. And off we go.

08 January 2016

Happy Birthday David Bowie.

He turns 69 today. I just read Patti Smith's exquisite book M-Train, she's 67, I think. It's a book you have to read twice,. I only read it once, as of now. There's a future coming and twice books are a thing for that.

I wouldn't call many things exquisite. Maybe Silvia coming off a running dogwalk to a very hard turn, or one of my friend Deirdre's paintings. It's a top shelf word and quite specific. It's a word for the future, and not the past.

I think about Patti and Bowie both when I'm on the floor playing with Banksy. I get down lower than her and pretend I'm a small dog and she gets super confused, because I'm usually tall and holding a tuggy. She brings them to me all the time. If you ever feel like you're lacking in presents, get a border collie. Bearing gifts is their always.

When I have to climb up off the filthy rug, this year climbing is harder than I'd like it to be. Like, yeah. Actually climbing. I figure that rockstar icons who lived the '70's in black and white and color don't concern themselves with ankle joints that doesn't hinge or weird knees. Their minds move to a better place. But I might be wrong. I love my raincoat maybe as much as Patti loved hers, but hers for loftier reasons. Mine covers my flabby ass and it really does keep me dry.

And mine isn't one more loss in a long string of them. A good thing to keep in mind.

Me and Gustavo and Banksy are running in a dogshow this weekend. In a covered roping arena on pretty hard dirt. We haven't much been running anywhere. I think we all feel winter's dark. If my legs start to hurt and things go screwy, I'll call in the diamond dogs. Come out of the garden, baby, you'll catch your death in the fog. I'll channel Patti's braids and her dungarees, and look for a little exquisite out there. Stay alive.

06 January 2016

Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

Every time I talk to someone about the weather, I feel like Oscar Wilde is standing there right next to me, fully judging my level of creativity, and how my pants fit and my ugly hat.

I don't know if I get any credit for my tall green rainboots, probably not.

 I think they're the kind Gwyneth Paltrow wears.

But dirtier. I've failed him, and I just want to go back inside and watch another episode of Chopped.

Would he have worn a rain coat like mine, if gore-tex had been a thing then?

Probably not. I don't know if he had dogs that needed to run, crappy weather or not.

Once it's raining, that's kind of it for me. I focus on the moist. And breaks between the storms. I don't think Oscar would understand. But his ghost still hangs there on my every word, and it's probably a good thing, in the long run.

They don't really care. They just want the ball, and enough time to run before the next big squall blows in.

04 January 2016

A couple days in LA, me and Otterpop.

Not a peep. She loves riding on planes.

Can you find Otterpop?

No way. Way.

Rusted hull, low tide.

The old crane.

No surf.

Locked up.

Vintage Malibu tile. We wish.

Free Coors lite, gonna rain.

The Bay, from the bottom, from the top.

Run aground.