Friday, July 30, 2010

Wimsey's Blog:Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #177

Entry #177
July 30, 2010

Hello Everyone. It’s me, Wimsey, finally back from my summer vacation in Upstate New York and Michigan and once again coming to you from the Upper West Side of the Big Apple (or as I prefer to think of it as The Big Plastic Water Bottle or the Big Squirrel or the Big Rawhide or the Big Fawning, Lunch Toting Tourist). Now first I must apologize for my missing blog last week and for not posting mini-blogs from the road as I had initially intended to do, but things just got so hectic with all the family reunions, both human and canine, and so many people who wanted to meet me, that there was simply no time.

The idea for the trip started when my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth conceived this insane scheme whereby we would drive to Buffalo to visit Maria’s mother—aka Maria Mère (driving time 7 hours without stops) then on to Grand Rapids, Michigan for a rendezvous with my breeder and my sister Dixie and her human (driving time 8 hours without stops) and then back to Buffalo again and then home, all in eight days!

So, eight days in car with me is a long time (frankly eight days with me anywhere is a long time) and I had so many adventures and being a chatty Hound I have so much to say that this post is devoted to the Buffalo segments only. In the next post I will deal with my exciting Michigan adventures.

Of course the first question my humans had was what kind of vehicle could accommodate me and all my luggage. Considering that I had a two page travel list, this was not a trivial issue. In the end the ladies sprang for a Ford Explorer, which although high enough that Elizabeth (read: shrimp) still had trouble climbing into it, was at least compact enough that her arms were long enough to reach the windshield to position the GPS. This was a big advantage because our experience with the Jeep Commander had left her flailing ineffectually at the windshield until the long arm of the law (Maria who has at least four inches on her) was able to intervene.

And although Elizabeth spent her usual lengthy amount of time quizzing the rental garage guy about where everything was (which somehow still did not prevent her from inadvertently turning on the windshield wipers at regular intervals when she meant to do something else) a crisis occurred immediately when the ladies realized they did not know how to get out of the car (I am not making this up. People think I am joking about New Yorkers and cars; but it should be illegal)—how to get out of the car not being generally something you need to ask how to do. Apparently the engineers at Ford did not have New Yorkers in mind when they designed their sleek, high concept but cryptic door handle.

But to their credit, my humans did eventually ascertain how to get out of the car and even how to pump gas (Elizabeth looked like she had just won the Nobel Prize every time she successfully filled the gas tank). And to my credit I figured out how to release my seat belt, which I generally did in the middle of a highway where there wasn’t any possibility of stopping to re-belt me. My humans were puzzled. It was all “Wimsey can’t figure out how to sit on command but he can undo a seat belt. Maybe we should have asked him how to get out of the car.”

Anyway, once my humans figured out how to exit the car it was packed to the brim with my stuff. They did try to get a picture of me in front of the car, but as you can see I was quite eager to be on my way. I had much snoring and gas emitting and back (and front) seat driving. to do. And along the way we stopped in rest areas where I was allegedly supposed to relieve myself but which had such intriguing smells that eliminating was very far down on my priority list. Also I like the sight of grown women on their knees begging me to poop. Pooping is an art form that my ladies seldom appreciate—it cannot be taken lightly. Every time I did it though was like I had produced gold. Perhaps there should be a spot market in Wimsey poop.

Well finally after many, many hours (and one visibility destroying thunderstorm that caused Maria to revisit her relationship with the Almighty) we arrived at this place, the Lord Amherst Hotel which was to be our home in the Buffalo suburbs where Maria Mère lives. Honestly I cannot recommend it. Although it says dogs are allowed they confine us to a limited number of rooms that have a mysterious odor of sewage and unless they know ahead of time that a dog will be occupying a room they throw a fit. And most of the adjacent rooms don’t connect which means that on our first visit I was not at liberty to go and pester Elizabeth whenever I wanted—a feature of our road trips that we both especially enjoy. Nevertheless, I did see a mysterious creature on the property with long upright ears that hopped around and which I kind of thought might be a type of mutant squirrel that resides in these primitive parts of the country—i.e. those that are outside of Manhattan. This creature intrigued me very much but it was not until our return to the hotel from Grand Rapids that I decided to give chase in any serious way causing one of my signature shoulder dislocation.

Also on our return trip from Grand Rapids we did actually have adjoining rooms as no “pet” (read: sewage smelling) ones were available and we were covertly assigned normal ones. The fact that my humans travel with more sheets than Cristo and like him drape everything in sight didn’t seem to make the hotel more relaxed about the situation (you can see these artistic draping efforts in all interior shots of cars, hotel rooms and Maria Mère’s abode, etc.).

Anyway, my great coup at the hotel occurred when both ladies believed the other had shut the door to the corridor and Elizabeth went out for ice to stock the self constructed in-house cocktail bar (Elizabeth has enough trouble driving when sober so my humans set up-in room cocktail bars for when we return for the evening and consequently no automobiles are involved)—I quietly slipped out with her, sans collar, and she was quite a ways down the hall before she noticed that she was not alone. Elizabeth was stunned. It was the only time I had ever walked at a heel. Anyway, having no collar and a loose Hound in an unfriendly pet friendly hotel did present something of a challenge. But the problem is often also the solution—Elizabeth took firm hold of my ponderous dewlap and marched me back down the hall by it. Of course a guest popping out of her room did have a fright seeing this giant dog with a small human being walked with a dewlap instead of a leash and tittered a nervous “He’s very big!.” Elizabeth wanted to say, “Yes, but he’s an idiot” but thought this might not convey the proper reassurance so she settled for a soothing “But he’s very gentle.” which I would have thought was obvious as I was being walked by my dewlap.

But I am digressing from the main point of the Buffalo segments of the trip—the opportunity for me to sample Maria’s mother’s fine Hungarian cuisine. I am happy to say that this is a woman who knows how to entertain. Not only did she not object to bed sheets draping her house, or my close supervision in the kitchen (and she didn’t even fall over me once!) but she insisted that I try everything and refused to countenance me sampling cold dessert crepes. I was not permitted to have them until they had been warmed to a proper temperature. There was also goulash and chicken paprika and other delicacies too numerous to name. All for me. And the sight of her meticulously deboning chicken wings (she did not think Elizabeth or I should leave Buffalo without sampling the original Buffalo chicken wings) brought drool to this Hound’s heart. Everyone should have a grandmother like this! Of course I deserve to have a grandmother like this, but that is beside the point. I won’t even go into the pastries and desserts, which created so much drool that Elizabeth (who was in charge of making sure I did not leave saliva stalactites), went through an entire pack of washcloths.

And then there were visits to other admiring relatives—including Maria’s cousin, her two girls and this doodle called Angel. (They thought Angel was a big dog before I arrived!) and a Hound loving aunt and uncle of whom I became quite fond. Obviously people of highly refined taste. And everyone commented on how well behaved I was. I save this behavior for when I am in public so people think my humans are demented when they protest.

Well I think that is all for Buffalo, other than the fact that when we visited a Petsmart to buy a new car harness (that I still got out of) and a stuffed duck one of their employees came racing out of her car to say hello to me. It is very reassuring to know that people all over the country may look different, sound different, have different ideas, but they all love me. Unity of purpose is what makes this country great. The ladies also took a field trip to a Wegman’s where they spent an inordinate amount of time viewing the wide aisles with no one mowing them down with carts or screaming at them and they oohed and aahed over the extensive choices on the shelves (shopping at Fairway in New York is very often akin to shopping in the old Soviet Union) and the friendly service. They considered taking pictures and videos to show to friends.

Well that’s it for Buffalo. Up next—Grand Rapids and a Family Secret revealed! Stay tuned.

Until next time,

Wimsey, Born to be a Traveling Hound

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #176

Entry #176
July 16, 2010

Hello everyone. Wimsey here coming to you—for the moment—from my usual perch on Manhattan’s Upper West Side but I will soon be off on my summer mega road trip to upstate New York and Grand Rapids, Michigan. My human Maria and her friend Elizabeth are in a frenzy of preparation for the trip, which mostly consists of making arrangements for my transportation and comfort during the journey. On Sunday we all sat under a tree and whilst I munched grass the ladies discussed the caring and provisioning of me and added items to my ever growing travel list and their ever dwindling one. And of course prominent on the list is Maria’s Patented De-Hounding Kit aimed at obliterating all traces of my presence from rental cars and hotel rooms. Given the state of their own domiciles it is amazing what a fine job of cleaning my humans can do when suitably motivated by the threat of pet cleaning fees.

And all of our packing is made difficult by the fact that we have no idea what sort of vehicle we will be traveling in. For those of you who have never rented a car in Manhattan, what you have reserved and what you get bear absolutely no resemblance to each other because the rental sites are small and they never know what will be available when you show up. So the last time we rented we signed up for a compact car and ended up with a Jeep Commander. It’s kind of like going to a restaurant, ordering a hamburger and being presented with Sole Veronique because that’s what the chef has today. Anyway, the rental car sweepstakes takes place early Monday morning and then we are off until our return the following Monday and in between hours, and hours and then more hours of driving pleasure. (Watch this space-- if time permits I will be issuing Wimsey Victory Tour Mini-Blogs from the road). And as with all our road trips we each have our assigned roles: Elizabeth drives, Maria tries to make sure she doesn’t hit anything and I supervise (when not snoring loudly or perfuming the air with gaseous emissions).

Wimsey’s predictions for things that will happen during our trip

1. Elizabeth will spend an hour in the rental garage trying to figure out how to work the car

2. The ladies will have no idea on what side of the vehicle the gas tank is located and will pull into the gas station on the wrong side

3. The ladies will stand and scrutinize the directions for pumping the gas with the same intensity as two surgeons examining the X-rays of a patient they are about to slice into and then gravely discuss the best way to proceed. They will remain impervious to all the sounds of the horns honking around them

4. Some kind stranger will either get fed up or feel sorry for them and pump the gas for them

5. Elizabeth will yell at the GPS

6. Elizabeth will try to turn on the headlights and turn on the windshield wipers instead

7. Maria will offer helpful advice which will not be appreciated

8. Every time Elizabeth looks into the rear view mirror she will see my head instead of the traffic

9. I will make periodic supervisory forays into the front seat to check on how the driving is going

10. I will rest my chin on Elizabeth’s shoulder to get a better view of where we are going and drool down her chest

11. People will point to me and yell and honk horns at us frightening Elizabeth into thinking she is about to hit something

12. I will go on a major towing sniff-a thon during potty breaks instead of taking care of business

13. At the hotel, Elizabeth will check in two people and a dog while Maria and I try to look nonchalant and lurk inconspicuously in the car

14. Inquiries will be made of the desk clerk as to the nearest cocktail bar within walking distance

15. I will inevitably try to sleep in Elizabeth’s room because she wants me to sleep in Maria’s room so she can actually get a night’s sleep

16. Elizabeth will draw unfavorable comparisons between Motel 6 and the Four Seasons

17. Maria will draw unfavorable comparisons between me and a dog that behaves

Really some people should not be let out of New York City. But it will all be such a lot of fun! Especially as we are going to see two of my staunch admirers—Maria’s mother and one of my breeders—who have not met me (or at least the adult me) and there will be home cooking involved. And speaking of staunch admirers, the other day I was crossing 79th Street (or trying to) when some guy coming off the highway tried to run the red light. All of a sudden he stops dead and starts trying to back up off the crosswalk. The reason? A cop car had popped into view in that sudden and inconvenient Romulan cloaking device manner cop cars have when one is speeding or otherwise breaking the law. Anyway, Officer Fagin got on his bull horn and shouted “Guy in black car-don’t run over my friend!” I am sure Guy in Black Car thought he was referring to my human but the rest of us know that he was referring to me. I am a well known figure at the 20th Precinct and it is nice to know that the officers are looking out for me. On the other hand, it is hard to miss me.

And in preparation for the great trek north I went to the vet for a pre-trip check-up. I always enjoy everything about going to the vet except the actual vet part, but given the amount of admiration and petting it’s almost worth it. (I said almost). It’s not often you can make someone smile just by allowing them to phlebotomize you.

Anyway, the weather continues to be ultra sultry here which means that once again I have not been out for extended periods of time except in the early evening when at least the sun is lower. On yesterday’s early evening expedition we met a family of French tourists who were great admirers of moi and thought Elizabeth spoke Hound-related French very well. But then Elizabeth realized that her vocabulary had a conspicuous and quite serious omission: the word “drool.” (As in “watch out for!”) I mean it is not a word that generally comes up in polite French conversation. Nevertheless, this shocking state of affairs sent her scurrying for her Larousse to rectify the situation and I am pleased to report that now not only does she know the word for drool but she can also conjugate the verb baver perfectly.

And speaking of things French, Wednesday was Bastille Day, a very important day in Wimsey World owing to my French heritage. As is customary I refer readers to post #8 for a look back in time to the early history of the bloodhound. And I have a very particular way of celebrating the day: (I was about to say marking the day, but I actually mark all days).

Maria: Wimsey, sit.

Wimsey: En français!

Maria: Wimsey, down.

Wimsey: Je ne comprends pas l’anglais.

Maria: Wimsey, come.

Wimsey: Comment?

Maria: Wimsey, stay.

Wimsey: “Allons enfants de la Patrie…”

Of course I don’t obey commands in English either, but Bastille Day gives me a legitimate excuse. And although we Hounds like the concept of “Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité” we vastly prefer Liberté Supériorité et Foie Gras-ité

Well I think that is about it for now. If I am able to take a break from eating all the home cooking being prepared by Maria Mère I will keep you updated on our (royal) progress.

Until next time,

Wimsey, A Hound hoping for a moveable feast

Friday, July 9, 2010

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #175

Entry #175
July 9, 2010

Hello Everyone, Wimsey here coming to you from the Upper West Side of Manhattan where we have had record breaking 100 degree heat and although we Hounds don’t melt, we do tend to wilt a bit.

Sadly, owing to the extreme heat I have spent most of the week quarantined indoors in the air conditioning rather than out and about having adventures. Although I was out on July 4th with my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth and I managed to invade yet another picnic. No food this time but lots of admiration and a plastic bottle.

The heat can work in my favor, however, as whenever we turn homewards I suddenly do an excellent imitation of a Hound suffering from incipient heat stroke—lying down, panting, refusing to move, etc., all of which stops the journey in its tracks. Now remarks I have made in this blog to the contrary, my humans, although challenged in multiple ways, are not actually dumb and they do realize that with a high probability my antics are driven by a certain reluctance to leave the park (see my revision of Newton’s First Law: A Hound in the park will tend to remain in the park unless dragged out by screaming humans). But do they really want to risk it? The answer is always no, so down they sit, fanning the Wimsey brow wrinkle and offering yet another bowl of cool water. The heat does have its compensations.

Well the lack of adventures this week notwithstanding, plans for my July 19th summer frolic in upstate New York and the Michigan Lakes are proceeding apace. We have now booked a couple of “suites” (a suite apparently being a room with a couch) in Grand Rapids and Elizabeth has been visiting all the car rental companies in the neighborhood inspecting the size of their vehicles to see if they are vast enough for me and my possessions and won’t cost the GNP of a small nation to rent. At Maria’s suggestion she tells the rental people that she is going camping with two friends so she needs lots of storage—camping gear being the closest approximation to the nature of all my assorted traveling chattels. Maria herself refuses to even utter the word “camping” let alone do it, so the task of Hound Mobile inspection falls to Elizabeth who has no compunctions at all about saying the word as she actually claims to have done it once and survived.

And the hair brained schemes just continue to abound around here—probably due to the summer heat affecting the balance of the mind. Elizabeth has decided to explore the possibility of the two of us going to the Hamptons for August and giving Maria more time to shop for a new apartment. Now completely leaving aside the expense and the logistics, not to mention having me around full time (she had better bring plenty of gin), no one seems to have considered who is going to rent their house to a domestically challenged woman with a large, smelly, mud tracking and drool flinging Hound.

Of course a Hampton’s sojourn would give the people who admire me the rest of the year in New York City the chance to admire me in a whole new setting. And at least when I fling drool on people in swimsuits it won’t require a trip to the dry cleaners (I wonder what the SPF of my drool is?). And I can pretty much guarantee that once I have been to a beach you will never get all the sand off of me—the ladies will still be finding it at Christmas.

But in addition to summer bringing road trips and potential escapes to tony beach towns, it also brings up summer reading fun. Accordingly I have compiled:

Wimsey’s Summer Reading List

Invasion of the Picnic Snatchers

10 Days to More Beautifully Wrinkled Skin

Central Park’s Top Romantic Spots to Poop

101 Things That Smell Like Hound That are Not Hound

Top Ten Ways to Cope With a Bored Hound (cocktail shaker not included)

Help! The Hound Ate the Picnic! And other lively tales of summer entertaining

Skinny Bitch: How to Cook for That Finicky Hound

The 7 Disgusting Habits of Highly Effective Hounds

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man but Behave Like a Hound

Make Every Man Want You (Hound not included)

Think and Grow Rich; Acquire a Hound and Grow Poor

A Purpose Driven Life: Wimsey’s Quest to Annoy, Disrupt and Monopolize the Lives of His Humans

What to Expect When You are Expecting a Hound and Other Tales of Mayhem

Eat, Pray, Love But Don’t Get a Hound

Wake Up and Smell the Hound

Brown Paws: A Hound’s Guide to Creative Gardening

Who Moved My Cheese and Ate My Panties

I am all about promoting book reading, the chewier the better. Electronic readers may be more efficient but they don’t taste nearly as good or make nearly as much mess as a properly torn apart tome.

But this week was not only boring because of the heat—Elizabeth took care of Heidi the little pit bull for a couple of days which meant that after our afternoon walks I was returned to my home. The feeling was that I would annoy Heidi too much were I allowed to spend the afternoon with Elizabeth as usual (but there is still a project afoot to try it sometime, preferably when Elizabeth does not have conference calls for us to disrupt).

And for those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, yesterday Elizabeth was walking little Heidi in the field across from her building in Riverside Park when a guy (who Elizabeth cannot recall ever meeting) came running, jumped the stone wall into the field, ran up to Elizabeth and demanded to know where I was and if I was OK!. Apparently he was worried that I was sick or worse and that Elizabeth had replaced me with Heidi! Although if she had, Heidi wouldn’t be a bad replacement—she apparently marched into Elizabeth’s apartment, shredded a tissue, hunted down my rawhides and bits thereof that she is not allowed to have and then screamed at Elizabeth for having the temerity to leave without her. Like me she is not shy about expressing her opinions and is a supremely entitled canine. Also like me, she is not fond of taking pills and after unsuccessfully trying turkey and chicken Elizabeth got her to open her mouth fractionally so that a pill wrapped in Swiss cheese and dipped in Alfredo sauce could be shoved in and her muzzle elevated until she swallowed. The good news is that Elizabeth still has left over Alfredo sauce meaning that tonight I will be served Kibble and Chicken Breast Alfredo.

Well before I wrap up this heat abbreviated post, I just read an article about a psychic octopus (I am not making this up) that has successfully predicted the outcome of the world cup games (for those betting sports fans he has predicted that Spain will win the final). But the octopus is not the only psychic animal—I make accurate predictions all the time:

Predictions by Wimsey the Psychic Bloodhound

You will shortly need to change those pants

You will never find that brassiere that you “lost”

I see danger in your future relating to steep flights of stairs and an annoyed Hound made wet by cooling coats

Failure to fork over plastic water bottles will result in hearing loss

There is an expensive vet bill in your future

You will need help finishing that pizza

You will have no time and less money

You will never find a car big enough for me

Maybe the ladies should consult the psychic octopus about their careers and (sadly non-existent) love lives. I wonder how much he charges.

Well here’s hoping that next week is a bit cooler and I get out once again to entertain my fellow citizens and wreak havoc on their clothes. And of course I will be attending the upcoming Trip Management meetings wherein the items on my travel list are gone over and assembled and missing items purchased. The ladies themselves are restricted to one small bag apiece.

Until next time.

Wimsey, Summer Hound