August 2017

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This week was midterms. This is good because it means the semester is halfway over and *checks pulse* yep, I am still living. And I am well done over half the work in both of my classes, so the latter half should be significantly less intense than the first half. I have around a 98% in both classes, so I am floating buoyantly with my head and upper chest above the water at this point. I had two midterm essays to write this week for my Renaissance class that were like pulling teeth to write; neither topic was very interesting (I had to choose two of three and the third was even less interesting), and the one book I had to discuss, Gargantua and Pantagruel, however ... intriguing ... and sometimes entertaining it was, was not a book I found easy to write about. I just finished both essays, and they are posted, and I am caught up on other work for the week.

So I am rewarding myself by writing in my journal. \0/

Bobby and I went to Ocean City last weekend so that we could take the Goldens. Dogs are not allowed on the beach or Boardwalk May through September, so it was one of the last weekends we could go. We had a good time. We left Friday after school, sat in horrendous traffic to cross the Bay Bridge, and were in OC by 8 PM. There are very few pet-friendly hotels in OC, but we have stayed at the Barefoot Mailman before and liked it, plus it is rated #7 in all of OC on Trip Advisor, which is saying something! It keeps company with the Hilton and Princess Bayside and other luxury hotels that, in season, cost several hundred dollars a night to say in. It is a humble little motel that doesn't even back up on the ocean, but it is very clean. ("Pet-friendly," unfortunately, tends to equate with "slightly skeevy" in my mind; I had a former coworker who stayed at a pet-friendly hotel once where the chair had fleas!)

The Goldens were good. This was Lance's first trip to the ocean. We took Alex when he was still a baby, before we had Lance, when he was afraid of the ocean and ate sand that he later shat out on the Boardwalk. (I just looked back at those pictures. Alex looks so young! I look so skinny! Bobby looks so beardless!) Alex is still afraid of the ocean, as is Lance, but no sand was consumed or shatted out on this trip, although Alex did poop once on the beach, right on the edge of the ocean, and got washed over by a wave in mid-poop, which he did not like, Bobby said. (This was early morning. I wasn't there.) The weather was decent but not great; the Goldens behaved better than the weather. It was chilly and so windy on Monday, the day we left, that we decided to skip a final walk on the Boardwalk and just go home instead.

The fishing pier, which was partially destroyed during Sandy. Nonetheless, Ocean City was lucky--very lucky!--compared to her sister coastal towns to the north in Jersey. We saw some minor damage to signs but that was it.

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The Inlet, last day there. The sea was crazy because of the wind. There were whitecaps on the ocean as far out as I could see.

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Me. Reading Don Quixote on my Kindle for my Renaissance class, very bundled up. I had a beach towel around my head until the sun came out and wind died down a bit. I love the ocean more than I loathe the cold.

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Bobby is using a new camera. Purdy.

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We bought a kite! This is like the family-of-modest-income's version of We Bought a Zoo. Bobby and I have both always admired stunt kites. When I was an elfling, before my family mysteriously stopped going to OC, the hotel where we stayed was right across the street from a beach where people flew stunt kites after the lifeguards went up, and since we stayed on the top floor, I would watch them from the window. I always wanted one. It is as fun as it looks! The first time we tried it, there was no wind, so that didn't work. But Sunday, the wind was brisk but not insane (like Monday!) so it worked very well.

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Okay okay, I know at least a few have scrolled this far and are thinking, "Where are the #&*@ing Goldens??" Here's Alex.

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And Lance (aka Phil).

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Alex is getting really white in the face. :(

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The picture of misery. Phil is a serious homebody. We took the Goldens to Assateague Island on Saturday, and while we were packing up, Bobby accidentally let go of his leash, and we looked up and Phil was seriously booking toward the car!

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Phil.

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Phil is apparently one of those people who always closes his eyes in photos.

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By the way, the head collar Alex wears generates a lot of confusion. No, it is not a muzzle. It is a head or halter collar, which allows the dog to be led by the head rather than the neck and makes them easier to handle and eliminates all the choking and wheezing that excited dogs get when excited on a regular lead. (Think about how a person can lead a thousand-pound horse on a halter. It's the same concept.) Alex still doesn't walk very well on a regular lead; Phil walks well, so even though he has a head collar (you can see the double lead under his neck; that would pull through the metal ring and slip over his nose), he only rarely needs it. He's also very good at getting it off, so we usually don't bother.

You can see how deserted the beach was! Check back in a month!

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We walked about a mile down the Boardwalk on Saturday. On the way back, we stopped at the Kite Loft to get our kite. Bobby went in while I stayed with the Goldens. I had no sooner sat on the bench than both of them hopped up with me. Clearly, they thought that was only to be expected! People were laughing at them as they passed, and a few people stopped to pet them.

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As I said above, we took the Goldens to Assateague Island, which is known for its wild ponies. It is all parkland and uninhabited by humans, although you can camp there. The ponies are believed to have washed ashore from a Spanish ship that sank off the coast long ago. The author Marguerite Henry wrote about them quite a bit in books like Misty of Chincoteague. These books were required reading for all little girls when I was in school. I think I read and owned every book she wrote. The ponies are herded once per year across the water to Chincoteague Island to the south, where they are sold at auction; it is called Pony Penning Day. (I have a cousin whose favorite game, when we were kids, in my family's erstwhile backyard pool, was "Misty of Chincoteague," in which she pretended to swim across the water on Pony Penning Day and inevitably got caught in a whirlpool, even though, to the best of my knowledge, we do not have whirlpools on the Eastern Shore. I still tease her about this game!)

In the summer, we always see the ponies on the beach, where it's cool. This time, we only saw two, right after crossing the bridge onto the island. Nonetheless, we've never gone to Assateague and not seen wild ponies.

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The Goldens made me proud because, when we were walking them on the Boardwalk, they were equally or better behaved than about 90% of the dogs there. Some people had so-called "bully breeds" (which I call meathead dogs, since they primarily attract the meathead set of men) on those spiked "pinch" collars that would lunge at any dog that passed, snarling and slobbering ... why would you even bring a dog like that to the Boardwalk?? During the off-season, every other person on the Boardwalk has a dog. I guess I have to chalk this up to one of those things I'll never understand! But the Goldens were very "fuck you" to these dogs in their blithe trotting past. They made Mommy proud. :)

Going to Ocean City always makes me understand the appeal of the Elven Rings of Power. I started going to Ocean City as an infant; my family went at least once per year until, oddly, when I was 8, we stopped going. Six years later, when Bobby and I started dating, I started going with his family, and I think Bobby and I may have missed one year in our ensuing seventeen (!) years together. Sometimes we go multiple times per year. Every time we go, I notice something small that has changed: a garishly painted motel has been demolished to make room for a slick new condo building, a restaurant I ate at as a kid has been sold and taken over by something new, a creaky old ride on the pier has been replaced. I get really bitter and snarky, even if it's not a place I even went to. The familiar landscape has changed! I don't like it! (I saw that the Olive Tree Italian restaurant was closed this time and had a sign: Coming Soon: SomethinSomethin Burger Bistro. I snarked, "Well, I guess people without necks need to eat too.") I would use my Ring of Power to keep OC unchanged!

This time, though, it was my favorite OC restaurant, La Hacienda. They had an amazing vegetarian burrito. We did find that they had a second location in nearby Ocean Pines that had not closed, so we went there, but it was not the same. The service was bad, and the burrito was mostly just refried beans wrapped in a flour tortilla. It was in a strip mall. The queso dip was good, although we were not given chips to eat it with and watched it slowly skin over while our server talked on the phone up front. I have hope that the OC location will reopen in a new location--they apparently had some conflict over their lease--but I can't say that with confidence.

Sometimes I think I should make a list of what-no-longer-is in Ocean City so that I don't forget that it existed. Maybe a private entry? I can't imagine it would be interesting reading, although there are funny anecdotes (probably in the ya-had-to-be-there sense) attached to some of them.
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