A Day In The Life ….

June 17. 2017.

The past six weeks are a blur.  Coming back to Maine after almost a year and a half away …. mind-blowing.  When I first walked in the house, it was suddenly a house from the past, someone else’s home.

So deeply personal.  So far away,  It was as if I’d inherited it but didn’t know what to do with it.

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Weird feeling.

Zuma bounded out of the car and started barking as if announcing her return.  For a dog who only barks a couple of times a year, this was rather odd behavior.  She sure knew where she was and sniffed her way around the house then flopped in her crate (the door is always open), sighed and passed out into a deep sleep,
Here are some snaps of our first few weeks back in Maine:
Stop and smell the chives.

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Magyck stalking dinosaurs in the field,

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Mornng walks on the trails:

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There is Zen ….

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and there is Harmony …. as long as Zuma doesn’t move ….

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The last tulips from the garden.

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Magyck received a fresh haircut for the Summer .
He’s so proud. It looks like he has a t-shirt on.
Thanks, Daryl and Rachel, Mag had a great time and feels really “cool” now.  More cool than usual,
He’s too sexy for his shirt.

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A bird in the hand ….

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(I call them fireworks).

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Magyck and his crystal bowl:

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Zen and Presto romping.

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We live in Hope.

#hopemaine,  #travelswithagreatdanedog, #ontheroadwithzuma, #hopefarmmaine, #backofthemoon

Returning to Maine.

June 6, 2017.

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Well, we’ve settled in to Life In The North now.  Zuma and I are Southern Girls now, we can’t handle the cold!  It’s been unusually nippy here, with a lot of rain.  She can’t stand to be chilly and she doesn’t like rain.  It’s supposed to warm up soon.  This is unusual weather but I’m keeping the igloo cozy by gathering sticks and twigs and I may even have a Rum Toddie before bed tonight to warm my bones.

The gardens are growing so fast I can barely keep up but every day the new sprouts and blooms make me so happy and smiley and yes, I do talk to my plants.  I am especially chatty after a Rum Toddie.

Zuma Has Her Say.

May 29, 2017.

Every now and then, I get to write a blog and today is the day.
A lot of you blog followers (bless your hearts) were wondering how traumatic my re-entry would be so I’ll share this with you.

We came back to Maine 4 weeks ago.

Magyck, my Maine Coon brother-by-another-mother cat was in shock the first day (I could tell by the look on his face he was clearly thinking, “Bloody Hell, I thought we were rid of you”) and was tolerant of me slinking past him on his kitchen couch while he was being infatuated with Sonia.  I’m not the jealous type because, well, I know I’m her BFF and she’ll stick up for little ole me.

Ocho, the three-legged cat is sweet and welcomed me and didn’t make a fuss.  I’m not trying to form your opinion of Ocho, but, he’s well, inbred.  And Special Needs.  And the sweetest feline on the planet.  He ain’t gonna get past the first spin on Wheel of Fortune if you know what I mean.  But he has a heart of gold and we all adore him and he watches out for everyone.

Day Two of re-entry, I walked past Magyck (who was pretending to sleep on the couch in the kitchen).  Then he unexpectedly slapped me upside the head with fourteen paws hitting me in all directions at the same time and then along my sides and hind end because well, he’s ajerk cat. He drew blood as my skin snapped open with a wound.  He’s so mean to me.  I never ever bother him.

After his attack, he was quickly given a home manicure. Usually this involves him howling like he’s being murdered with a chainsaw (which sends Ocho into hysteria mode, upsetting the whole house as he tears around bouncing off the furniture like a dirt bike driver on crack).  BUT, Magyck was very well-behaved about it as he smilingly plotted my demise and made plans for his future inheritance.

Magyck doesn’t listen to anyone except Sonia.  Doug admits he can’t stand the cat because Magyck NEVER STOPS MEOWING. He always wants something.  For the past 17 months he has driven Doug crazy with his incessant squawking (“My water dish isn’t full enough, Ocho spat in the cat food so I’m not eating it now (arms folded defiantly), I don’t like this new litter box”.

He’s like, 75 years old which is about mid-life for a cat like him. Cats like him outlive everyone.  Just to piss people off.

Upon my return, my people decided to take me in the house first with Doug.  Then, the cats would get a scent of Sonia (they reasoned) and hopefully Magyck would be less evil to me than he’s been for most of my life. It worked!  For 24 hours.

When we arrived, Magyck suddenly melted into a soft black fuzzy affectionate MUTE.  I was loving it.  We were all loving it.  Doug was in shock.  The cat hasn’t left her side since we got back, he sleeps on her feet or on her laptop and after some initial scolding when he attacks me, he seems to have gained a miniscule amount of respect for me.  Even though I weigh a hundred and thirty + pounds more than he does, he likes to rule the roost as he has for the past thirteen years.  Nobody crosses this black cat’s path.

She uses the highly effective “AH!” sound (it works for kids, dogs, cats and horses.  And occassionally, she claims, husbands.  But I haven’t actually witnessed that yet).  The cat gets it and now I am avoiding his snide kitty scowls and lack of hospitality, I think it’s going much better.  None of us like the AH and she’s pretty perceptive about using it (eyes in back of her head).
He even got on the bed with me two nights ago.  I avoided eye contact but I held my ground (pretending to be unconscious and practising not visibly breathing) and we all got along.  Ocho was instantly banished.  Three’s a crowd.

One night, Magyck was skulking up the stairs (because he doesn’t walk, he skulks) and I gave him a grrr to see what he’d do.  It worked. He actually balked.  It was awesome.

I’ve always been nice to the mean old bastard cat but enough is enough. Even for a lady dawg like me.  A couple of evenings ago I was lounging on the deck and this happened.  I was paralytic.  I held my breath until I turned blue.  He smirked so he could have his photo taken and nobody will know what he’s really like.

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Maybe, just maybe we’ve reached an agreement?
I’m still terrified of him, to be honest, but I’ll practice “the look” with a slightly upcurled lip and see if that works.  That means AH! in dog language.  Nobody wants to hear/see that.

#bossycats #catswithattitude #AH! #ihopethecatdoesn’treadthisblog

New York

We had a quick stop overnight in White Plains, NY.
We were exhausted and it was wonderful to be welcomed with open arms at the Marriott there.  Zuma was her usual enthusiastic self, happy to meet new friends, tail wagging out of control, people greeting her by name at every corner, even though they’d only met her once in the elevator or the lobby.

We’d stopped in NJ on the way, to check out travel trailers so we can haul a camper and eliminate one vehicle.  Lots of gorgeous tempting options.  Hula Girl needs to be sold first.  That’s in the works.  If she doesn’t sell, we’ll use her next winter in WNC.

White Plains is a very nice city.  Safe, friendly, pristine.
We only had one night there but what we saw was really nice.
Zuma was definitely cool with the positive energy there.  We felt safe out walking after dark, that’s a big deal for us when we’re in a strange city.  No worries there.  Having a big black dog by my side helps keep the weirdos away.

#whiteplainsny #whiteplainsmarriott

The Red Caboose.

April, 2017.

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Almost two years ago when I was planning my journey, I was scoping out travel books and I read about The Red Caboose Restaurant and Motel in Pennsylvania. The gushing reports of it’s coolness made it high on my list of places to stop.

I thought it sounded uber fun and unusual!  Motel rooms in rusting, reclaimed, aged train compartments AND dog-friendly!

There’s a gift shop, restaurant and rolling fields all around.  I was really excited to go there.  We stumbled upon it as we were out doing the side-road tourin’ off-the-beaten-path thing and I saw a sign and we made a series of squiggly u-turns on jiggedy roads scented with acres of freshly-mown hay and landed there for lunch. I was out-of-my-mind-ecstatic we’d found it.  I love train travel and appreciate these old pieces being kept up.

Our stomachs were rumbling for lunch but when I asked for outdoor seating with a dog, one of the hostesses said she couldn’t accommodate us with a dog.  In fact, she was freaking horrible and snippy and rude.  We rarely get that. In the South (not bein’ prejudice, ya’ll), people ACCOMMODATE.

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We were asking for outdoor service and there was absolutely NOBODY, LIKE, NOT ONE FREAKING CUSTOMER in the place, nor outside on the deck that was listed as a “dog-friendly” lodging and restaurant on several websites.

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The younger waitress said she’d set us up but the other (senior) one wasn’t budging.


Yeh, so, I wouldn’t normally belly ache because, okay, I get it, we have a dog.  She’s kinduv large.  We’re traveling and you’re listed in the travel guides as ‘dog-friendly’ so that’s why we came.  I shut my mouth and talked with Doug.  Damn it, I’m tired of the prejudice but I decided I’m going to behave myself and advocate for my dog.  Because she deserves it.  Because she isn’t rude or obnoxious and she’s a good soul.

The Health Department (understandably) doesn’t allow dogs inside establishments that serve food, but no worries, we’re accustomed to that.  We just wanted to sit outside and include our gal, we won’t leave her in a hot car.  There was plenty of seating on the deck and after I asked politely the second time, the “boss” waitress allowed us to eat there.  We made a deal.  Deck Only (which is what I had requested), pick it up at the counter; as long as we ordered take-out and ate outside with plastic forks and styrofoam containers that make Doug cringe.  #CutlerySnobbery.

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It’s all part of life traveling with a dog, especially a jumbo one. “She’s just so BIG” the boss lady told me. I explained, “She’s very calm, she’ll flop on the deck and won’t be a bother and she’s a Registered Therapy Dog who works with Seniors and Schoolchildren”.  There were no fragile Seniors or vulnerable small children available for her to viciously attack and rip to shreds nor wheelchairs to push down the steps.  We were the only ones in the place.  The nasty waitress finally realized I meant well and we were ushered outside.  As Second Rate Citizens.  Talk about feeling like a major loser.  I kept my head up, stiff upper lip, all that.  Damn it.

I have to get over the prejudice people exhibit.  Even if I want to cry sometimes.  How do my colored friends and relatives deal with this shit????!!!!  Judged before people even know you.  What’s right is right.  This is so wrong to me.  Dog-friendly should be dog-friendly.  Regardless of size if the owners are on the ball and control the dog.

Zuma, in true Scooby Doo style, sipped daintily on cool water the young waitress kindly provided and then flopped out on the deck in her usual “I’m really not a pain in the ass and I don’t eat small children or knock down Senior Citizens” way and within two minutes she had a huge group (total about 30 in 30 minutes) of adoring fans swooning over her. Tourists, locals, Amish farmers.  In fact, we had so many people smothering her we couldn’t eat our french fries before they got stone cold.  I wanted to take pix of the crowds who met her but I was so choked  up I couldn’t even focus the camera.  I had to take an emotional break and leave her with Doug to go for a long walk on my own to shed a few tears.  It felt like when people judge my friends, my wonderful gentle colored/black/gay/artsy/eccentric unique friends.

Later, I apologized to Zuma.  She understands.  Most people are fascinated with her but some recoil in horror anticipating she’s a threat. At 36″ at the shoulder, 6′ 2″ in length and 145 lbs, yeh, she’s a big ole mutt.  But she’s a good soul.  She won’t bother you.

Prejudice.  It’s just not right.  It was lovely that total strangers flocked in droves to her (and she happily hopped up from her cool place in the shade and gave everyone individual attention, so happy she was accepted). Everyone received a lick and a dog smile and they asked a zillion questions and now they all want a Great Dane. Thanks, Zu, you’re a Rock Star and a wonderful ambassador for your breed.

One person having a shitty day can make a place sour but I see that a kind dog can change a lot of people’s mindsets and make a sweet experience. I’m learning.  I can forgive.  Zuma forgives.  If only all people would be so kind and understanding.  The world would be a better place.

After we ate our lunch and Zuma stood patiently for a zillion selfies with babies and toddlers who pawed at her and pulled on her velvet ears and was petted softly by elderly folks who were just tickled to meet such a huge, gentle animal.  Then the nasty waitress came out and petted and praised her as the crowd gushed about what a well-behaved kind-hearted dog she is.  Zuma deserved that. Broke my heart.  Prejudice.  It’s just wrong.

Remember to live and let live.


A conversation with another generation

April 29, 2017.

We struck up a conversation with a lovely Amish woman at the Market who told us how the Amish are trying to progress and make changes in their society.  The Bishop rules things, apparently.  They are able to take a cruise on a ship because, she explained that he said, “boats were here before ‘planes”.  She questioned that reasoning as there is alcohol and gambling available on ships (all against the Amish lifestyle’s beliefs).  Near retirement age, she had been on a long (ship) excursion with her family recently and was enthusiastic to hear of our travels.  Here we were, two generations apart, sharing our travel stories openly with great enthusiasm and wonder.
It was a beautiful yard long conversation.   Actually, it was quite a few yards long and one we’ll never forget.

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What a lovely lady.  I wonder what she was thinking afterwards.
(She lives with a Great Dane in a 25′ Motorhome?)  She was not in the least bit judgemental.  A lovely, honest lady.  We’re all doin’ our own thing ….
I find it fascinating that in this day and age there are sections of society who maintain their religion so religiously.  No texting, no Facebook, no tv, no poison.  All the children are outfitted in homemade, neatly pressed clothes, their properties are immaculate and the people, while private for the most part, are genuine, chatty and friendly.

Ah, The Simple Life.

Doug says I should have been born Amish.
I agree I should have been born 100 years ago.
I like an uncomplicated life.
His and Hers laundry, hanging on a front porch:
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Sorry, no pie pix.  I ate it with my feet on the way home.
I gotta get with the 12-Step Pie Program.

Lancaster Market.

April 28, 2017.

I’m a month behind in blogging, sorry!  There has been so much going on …. but I want to share this with you ….

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From reading tourist books, I learned that the Lancaster Farmer’s Market has been in operation since 1790 and is the oldest-running Farmer’s Market in the country!  Cool.  Okay, Doug, Barbie Tour Director here.  We gotta go.

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The market is currently held three days a week in the beautiful red brick Central Market in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

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For years the Amish and other local farmers and producers have been selling their wares and if you’re ever anywhere close, please go.  It’s a smallish market but the quality is fabulous and the Amish are genuine and friendly and well, ya gotta experience it.
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Here, you can buy everything from fruit to flowers, incredible luscious vegetables, whole, freshly skinned rabbits (you know how I feel about rabbits but …), whole fresh milk, homemade cheese and butter, breads and goat cheese fudge and pies and stuff and everything in between.  Parking is a piece of cake.

I know, I have had a pie problem in the past but I’m conquering it.
No need for intervention, ya’ll. I even declined a test taste of this smooth creamy fudge.  Such self control.  Such willpower.

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Because we were traveling, we purchased non-perishable items like lovingly-made preserves, bread, cheese and, uh, a decadent apple pie.  It was a small one.  Don’t judge me.

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The Amish vendors make astonishingly beautiful quilts, placemats, etc., all sewn with serene patience and care.

When I got home I dusted off a fancy yard sale saucer and made an early a.m. snack with black raspberry preserves and I would have been totally embarrassed mortified if anyone had a secret camera on me because the sound of breakfast was well …. think food porn. I’ve never seen porn but this black raspberry jam does it for me.

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Speaking of which, the tour book suggested a town called Intercourse so OF COURSE I had to drag Doug there! The travel book said “buy postcards there and mail them from nearby Paradise” so seriously, who wouldn’t just do that?!  So I totally did it. Like, I mean, I bought a few postcards and mailed them and yeh ….

I bought some pot holders from a lovely Amish lady, they’re truly works of art.  Both my Mum and Doug’s Mum were Master Seamstresses (like, Master Gardeners with a sewing machine); they would be thoroughly impressed by the love and care and attention to detail sewn into  these quilted pieces.  I will treasure them forever. These are reminders from the special people who take the time to make the world a more beautiful place.

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You know I’ll never use these pot holders, right?  No lasagna splatters are heading their way, ever.  Such special works of art, formed serenely with gentle fingers guided under soft evening light …. memories of days gone by ….

#amishcountry #lancastermarket #lancastercountypennsylvania

Amish Country: A postcard at every corner.

April 27, 2017.

Ocean City to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Lancaster County, PA.  At every corner, a postcard.
The pastoral life of the Amish (and Mennonites) is unpretentious, organized, raw, honest and its people are extremely property-proud. Such precious qualities in these fast-advancing times.  These people work from sun-up to sun-down.  They live in Days Gone By.  We stayed here for a few days on our return to Maine and I’d like to share with you some of the million magic moments we experienced.

About 5 minutes into the rural farming community we saw this. Three horses and a mule waiting patiently for the farmer to return to plowing.  That pretty much sums it up for the humble, honest farmers whose steeds stand steadfastly in place, obediently waiting to work.  Discipline and dedication.  That says a lot about the Amish people.  We surmised the farmer went for dinner.

And so did the team.


The following morning we toured the side roads and saw five horses and two mules hooked to a plow,
basking in the sunshine, ready to start their day.
How impressive to witness
a young woman standing up, ploughing with a team of seven.
Her dress, apron and bonnet are made by her own hands.
I have nothing but admiration for the Amish who work so incredibly hard to create food for their family and the animals who support their farms.  This is a team of nine, turning over the sod in a lush green hayfield:
The Amish people use mostly ex-race horses for transport (they don’t generally use cars); some equines are utilized for tourist buggy trips.  These two guys were especially handsome and happy to chat.  I’ve missed the smell of horse.  And sh** on my shoes.
Look at these lovely heads.
                                       Nobility at it’s finest.
This part of PA is a living postcard.
Driving by sights like these Amish children playing in a schoolyard at an Amish School, it’s impossible not give yourself whiplash, there’s so much to take in:
Manicured fields.
A simple, pastoral life.
Driving by, we saw this team hauling a hay baler, making round bales.  Usually a job for a large tractor, these mules have it covered.
As does this mixed team.
We saw many Amish on these cool scooters.
On every road there are horse-drawn buggies.
(Mennonite buggies are black, Amish buggies are gray).
This area has been on my Bucket List for decades.
It was Heaven to spend a few days to soak it all in.
I took these photos one evening from the parking lot of our hotel.
Such a peaceful few moments …. a day in the life ….
I watched the farmer and his helper unhitch this horse from a team of seven; they’d been plowing all afternoon.
The Chosen One.
We’re pretty darned thankful we had the opportunity to see this.
We will go back.
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More Pix of Brother Wolf’s RUN FOR THE PAWS ….

April 30, 2017.

Hello Again!
Here are a few more pix from RUN FOR THE PAWS ….
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  Brother Wolf provided drinking and wading pools
so everyone kept cool….
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…. and when the people got thirsty, OH! Look where we are!
New Belgium Brewery!

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We’re on the road with Zuma this week so it’s a bit of a challenge to write.  We hope you’ll check back with our blog in a couple of days for more feel-good Asheville vibes!  If you haven’t heard of Billy Scribbles, he’s a writer, musician, busker, lover of folk songs, humorist, traveler, fascinating guy who wrote a great book about his experiences working the night shift at a gas station in Asheville.  I hope you stay tuned, you’re in for a real treat!
#BrotherWolf  #RUNFORTHEPAWS #coolAshevilledogsandpeople
#ontheroadwithzuma # #travelingwithagreatdanedog

Run For The Paws. Brother Wolf.

April 22, 2017.

Welcome to our blog!  We’ve been on the road with our Great Dane Zuma for 17 months in a 25′ motorhome while I attempt to write a book about traveling with an XXL dog (On The Road With Zuma).

We’ve covered a lot of the country, keeping Asheville, NC as our ‘home base’.  We planned to leave a week ago to return to Maine but postponed our departure to participate in Brother Wolf’s RUN FOR THE PAWS 5k run/1 mile walk today, because we LOVE Brother Wolf and hope you will support their incredible efforts to maintain a no-kill shelter here in Asheville.  Now I’ve got your attention, Brother Wolf has some fab seniors who really need some luvvin’ in their latter years ….

This lovely, gentle senior is waiting patiently
to find a forever family:

If you miss out on this golden opportunity,
there are other sweet seniors at the shelter who are seeking
a chance to live out their lives with a family or special companion.

Here are some of the photos from today’s fundraiser at New Belgium Brewery here in Asheville.  I tried to photograph every dog (I couldn’t capture ’em all, but there’s a lot of pix here) …. if you would like to cut and paste your dog’s photo, feel free!

Follow our blog and our travels if you like, we love your feedback! Please keep on supporting Brother Wolf!  I am not officially affiliated with Brother Wolf, other than supporting them because the organization and it’s incredible staff and volunteers do such a great job. There is no charge for these photos.
Please feel free to share!
I hope I captured your dog’s personality
and the pix will make you smile.
There were so many gorgeous dogs, including some participants who are waiting for a special someone
to come along into their lives:

Some of the dogs were glammin’ it up with happy spray tatts:
Others were on their first outing with a crowd:
….Everybody got along ….
There was a Superhero team:
and cool dogs chillin’:
…. Pot-Bellied Pig (Stella) participated and fit right in,
she was …. well …. a star! ….
Everybody got along and shared the playground ….
 …. people and dogs bonded and enjoyed the sunny day together ….
…. There were big dogs ….
mascots ….
…. medium-sized canines ….
…. and little dogs ….
This is Cricket:
There was the usual butt-sniffing:
…. and tongue -lolling:
…..and pooped out puppies:
Family bonding with a beloved dog:
And there was a whole lotta love ….
 (I’m sorry, I can’t remember all the dog’s names, please feel free to e.mail me or leave a comment on the blog
and I’ll update it daily).
There was a lotta smiling:
As with all Brother Wolf benefits, everything was First Class:
And a Doggone Good Time was had by all!
A fab Food Truck fed the masses:
Dogs.  They enrich our lives.
Thank you for enriching theirs.
And thank you for allowing me to photograph your beloved pets.

If you’d like to read about our travels,
click on Older Posts (lower right corner of the blog) ….

#brotherwolf, #newbelgiumbrewery, #travelingwithagreatdanedog