First and foremost, an apology and huge thanks to all of our readers and especially those who wrote asking where the hell we've been. A vacation was in order, and the plan was to blog along as we went along. Of course that all went pear-shaped and Bogart has given me a stern talking-to so that I understand how disappointed he - and the world - have been because of my obvious selfishness. Point taken.
We started out on a drive - a very, very long drive - from Portland to Los Angeles. Why you ask? Because Bogart was going to have his very own "spa vacation" at my friend Mareike's house. Yes indeed, she of the 3 Airedales, the place that Klaus and I spent lots of time when we lived in LA. That special backyard of goodness, with the coolest dogs on the planet, where the Miller Light flows freely.
After getting Bogart all settled in I flew off to NYC. He didn't notice that I'd left, and that was awesome. A testament to the power of the Mareike-Dales.
It was my first vacation since Klaus' passing, in fact, the only time I have been away from home since then.
If it's true that you learn a lot about yourself when you're on vacation, well, I've just gotten a crash course in Lulu 101. And I've reaffirmed that Bogart is truly the best dog in the entire world. Just exactly what was I hoping to learn about myself? I'm not really sure. Either before, after, or during. Seeing people that I have not seen in years brought out all sorts of emotions, and the very first hug I got when I arrived in NYC was like a knife piercing my flesh - in a good way (yes that sounds weird, but it's true). Being alone has allowed my skin to form a protective coating - I describe it like a dusting of snow or maybe a candy shell - that keeps the world out and all of the freshness (ok, now this is getting silly) in. So instead of having no human contact I was suddenly having lots of it, which reminded me both how much I like it - and how much I miss it.
Trying to figure out where I belong, and with whom. Constant reminders that I am a widow, despite my hatred of the word and the meaning (and I WILL figure out an alternative word - sometime). Questioning who I am, who I have been, and who I may become. Poignant visits with friends who despite time passing have not lost any of their magic. Realizing that I speak a dead language - I am both dead and alive without Klaus - obviously currently breathing and heart beating but the entirety of the life that we shared, and so much that was "me", died along with him. Heavy stuff for a time that is supposed to be spent relaxing with a drink with a little umbrella in it, eh? And strangely - I did not take any photos while I was alone in NYC. I "shot" them as I would walk by in my mind, but never actually pulled out my camera. Odd.
Just as I was feeling very New York again, it was time to head back to Los Angeles. The place I'd left behind - happily - not long ago. Very mixed feelings as I touched down and was greeted with a ridiculously large and unwieldly rental car (which took hours to exchange the following day for something smaller and zippier). A much happier time was had once I arrived back at Casa Mareike to recharge my Airedale batteries and be reunited with my handsome Dale-e-o.
The handsome Robin poses...
And the game of stick-throwing continues...
Dales in action
Just what every Dale needs - CAFFEINE
But the most important day of the year was almost upon us - Bogart's Birthday. It was time for cake and Dale-ness. First some time at"The Good" (where we used to go with Klaus)...
A frosty brew in honor of the the big guy...
And Bogart has this down cold... all he has to do is look at Mareike and magically almost all of her cheeseburger winds up in his mouth.
As you can see, resistance is futile.
Then it's time to party - cake anyone?
Even Bogart came running for his Three Dog Bakery cake.
Kermit and Jupie
Enjoy that cake Jupie!
And Bogart delicately first eats the frosting (the best part) then slowly consumes the rest at the risk of losing some to his more-food-motivated pal, Kermit.
Some observations from my time on the road:
An over-filled tomato truck losing it's precious cargo and tomatoes surreal-ly smacking into my rental car (a real-life Attack of the Killer Tomatoes)
It is a given that when outside of a major metropolitan area there will be only 3 kinds of radio stations that will come in crystal clear (at least in California/Oregon): Mexican music, Christian music/fiery sermons, and Country music. It must have been hilarious for anyone watching as they passed me furiously punching the SEEK button searching for the local NPR station or even an oldies station.
A chatty father and child on the airplane to NYC for whom putting on a set of headphones was not enough of a universal signal that I DO NOT WANT TO TALK TO YOU
A semi-scary late night stop at a gas station well off of the freeway (note to self - just because a sign says FUEL does not mean that said fuel station is close by - if you do not see the nice, bright sign by the side of the road then keep driving). And how having a large, overprotective Airedale helping to pump the gas keeps the hulking, semi-threatening truckers far enough away (second note to self - pretending not to understand English just isn't enough in these types of situations)
The brilliance of being able to purchase spirits directly from supermarkets in Los Angeles (unlike here in Portland). Now my freezer is full of Vodka of the Gods (thank you Trader Joe's!).
Salt, salt, salt. As I almost-never eat fast food (being a vegetarian my options are limited in this arena) and even Bogart only eats it occasionally, I was surprised at the HUGE amount of salt on the fries I got at a drive-thru McDonald's. We would stop for some food (I never thought I would say this, but thank goodness for Subway), yet another oversized iced tea for me (and some water for Bogart), and a human and canine stretching of the legs. The McDonald's stop was more of a thrill ride, something kind of crazy for me. And boy was I quickly sorry as my lips shrunk up like a slug that's had salt poured on it (harking back to my suburban youth).
Me and my best friend in the entire world...
A gigantic thank you to all who hosted us, fed us, held us, and loved us. And to those who missed us. And even to those who probably never want to see us again.
Lulu & Bogart