If there’s anything Ace and I enjoy more than sitting on the beach, it would be sitting on the beach and eating a sandwich.
But don’t go jumping to any conclusions.
The beach is where we have been since Friday — and where we still are, a good day after we were supposed to leave.
Extracting ourselves from the beach is always hard. It’s as difficult as trying to get the sand out of your swimsuit. No matter how much you rinse, a little always lingers, then falls out once you get home and unpack, as if to to remind you of your good times, and that you need to vacuum.
This, as best as I can recall, is our fourth visit to the reunion of University of North Carolina college buddies that my friends in Wilmington host at their beach house every year. Most of us were members of the class of ’75. We reminisce, update each other on what’s been going on in our lives, eat heartily, drink some, sing, dance, act silly and play in the ocean.
I have to to say most of them seem to be holding up quite well — even though we’re all nearing 60.
At 60, or even 59, which I will turn next month, it’s more important than ever — and a far bigger battle — to stay in shape.
Between watching the Olympics and sitting on the shore, I’m seeing — not ogling, mind you, just seeing — a lot of young, tanned and toned bodies, all of which serve to reinforce that point. Exercise is vital and should be part of your daily regimen. I may try it some day.
We’ve had a few walks on the beach, and I did engage in one strenuous ping pong match, beating my opponent handily, but the beach to me has always been about relaxing, and I am very good at that.
The other night, we broke out the guitars and played some songs. As our host thumbed through the pages of a songbook, naming songs, she came upon “When I’m 64,” by the Beatles.
“Wow,” she commented. “We’re almost there.”
We skipped singing that one.
I remember how old 64 sounded when that song came out — truly ancient. One that age is bound to be decrepit. But I have a feeling, when it comes to this particular group, they’ll cruise right through that year, and still be reflecting the kid that, thankfully, seems to remain inside each of them (some more than others).
My plan is to come every year, and — if they still need me, if they’ll still feed me –especially that year.
Perhaps by then I’ll be in shape.
(Disclaimer: That is not my sandwich in the photo above. That’s not my body, either. But that is my dog.)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, aging, animals, beach, bodies, dogs, fit, friends, health, north carolina, olympics, pets, reunion, sandwich, toned, travels with ace, university of north carolina, when i'm 64, wilmington
This photo seems to sum up Ace’s feelings (as I read them, anyway) about the ocean.
Upon seeing it, he starts acting half his age (I do too), gets totally energized (I do somewhat), and bolts into the water until a wave hits him and he starts having second thoughts.
He eagerly chased this ball into the ocean (and he’s not real into ball chasing) and scooped it up. Then, though his tail was in full curl – the barometer by which I measure his happiness – he got a look on his face that seemed to say “what am I doing in here?”
Then he rushed ashore before the next wave broke. He loves the ocean. But he has a slight fear, or should we say healthy respect, of waves.
Ace and I were in Wilmington visiting friends Steve and Louise Coggins, who we’ve told you about before, and who, in addition to putting us up, sponsored my table at a “Lunch with an Author” event at Cape Fear Community College.
The event, which raises money for creative writing scholarships, was pretty easy duty — a two minute speech, and lunch with a friendly group of people who, by virtue of sitting at my table, got my book (“DOG, INC.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Pets Launched the Commercial Dog Cloning Industry.”)
Among the dozen North Carolina authors appearing were Rory Flynn, the daughter of Errol Flynn and author of “The Baron of Mulholland”; Martha D. Peterson, a former CIA agent and author of “The Widow Spy;” and Katerina Katsarka, author of “Around a Greek Table, Recipes and Stories.” Katerina also stayed at the home of Steve and Louise, and brought along some the best spanakopita I’ve ever had.
Ace didn’t get any of that — I don’t think – but he did manage to mooch more than his share of treats at their home on Figure 8 Island.
As opposed to the hands-free bottle, or an IV Coca-Cola drip?
The only downside of the trip was a flat tire. Fortunately it didn’t take place until I had arrived on the island. Unfortunately, my spare tire, while it rides on the back of my Jeep, is temporarily trapped behind a locking bicycle rack.
A locking rack whose key disappeared a long time ago. (It’s pretty amazing that, in our 27,000-mile road trip with Ace, that never arose as an issue.)
That appeared to mean I would need a tow-job, and a whole new tire, even though the ones on my car are only about two weeks old.
The tow-truck man quickly located the hole, though, and plugged it up. He also passed on some useful beach knowledge — misting yourself with a Listerine-water mix (I presume in a hand-held bottle), will keep no-see-ums away.
It was far too quick a beach visit, but a thoroughly enjoyable one, especially for Ace, who got a sufficient amount of ocean time, a more than sufficient amount of treats, and some quiet time with his good friend Earl.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, beach, cape fear community college, coca cola, coke, dog inc., dogs, figure 8 island, flat tire, hand held bottle, john woestendiek, lunch with an author, north carolina, ocean, pets, road trip, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, waves, wilmington
Snowy was rescued after being abandoned in a backyard by a family in Wilmington, N.C., who moved away. He was blind, probably deaf, heartworm positive, with rotten teeth and skin infections.
But a foster volunteer in nearby Leland took him in, and Snowy began regular visits to the vet, all paid for by MAPR.
Early reports from the foster mom were encouraging:
“Last night, for the first time, he layed on his back and wanted belly rubs,” she wrote last November. “He’s finally trusting and feeling safe, which makes everything I’m doing feel so worthwhile and rewarding. His temperament is wonderful. He’s very easy going and sweet. He’s only improved from the moment I met him. Just a sweetheart!”
But somewhere along the way, things took a turn for the worse.
The foster mom in February contacted Robin Young, a board member of MAPR who helped arrange the foster placement, and told her she had to move and could no longer provide foster care for Snowy.
Young made arrangements for a volunteer to pick up Snowy, living in Leland, outside Wilmington, and bring him to Waxhaw, outside of Charlotte, where she could care for him herself until a new foster was found.
But when the volunteer called the foster mom, and sent emails, she got no response.
For months MAPR tried to make contact with the foster mom, even sending a certified letter, but still no response. Eventually they called the veterinarian treating Snowy, and learned that his file was “inactive.”
At MAPR’s insistence, the vet’s office contacted the foster mom, and she finally called Young, but even then it wasn’t clear what had become of Snowy.
“At first she said, ‘I gave him back to you. I gave him to that woman,’” Young recounted. Asked what woman, she said she didn’t know. And still later she said her ex-husband took the dog to Greensboro and gave her to “some woman.”
But no MAPR members or volunteers had received the dog, Young said.
“We really don’t know where he is, or who took him,” Young said. “At this point whoever has him must have taken him because they cared about him. At least I’m hoping so. But we want to make sure they were they given all the information about he needed, like the heartworm treatment.
“We’re not demanding he come back into the rescue, we just want to know if he’s OK,” she said.
MAPR asks anyone with information about Snowy to contact them at:
Posted by jwoestendiek September 23rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, blind, deaf, disappeared, dogs, foster, foster care, leland, mapr, mid atlantic pug rescue, missing, north carolina, pets, pug, pugs, rescue, sick, snowy, wilmington
Once again it’s time to get out the metaphorical crowbar — metaphorical ones being far lighter and easier to use — and dislodge ourselves from the beach.
And once again, pry as I might, leaving isn’t easy.
Though the sun was making only intermittent appearances — which didn’t really matter, because even rain is better at the beach — Ace and I had a great four days in the Wilmington area.
Our appearance went well at Pomegranate Books — a fine little bookstore that pulled in an equally fine crowd. Ace got to meet a lot of people. I did some reading and talking and signed lots of copies of my book, “DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend.”
Our hosts, Steven and Louise Coggins, and their dog Earl, were hospitable and otherwise magnificent, somehow making time for us between their jobs and all the noble work they do, for a variety of causes, on their own time.
In connection with one of those, I got to go along to see a screening of the new documentary “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls,” the first of a planned three-part series on human trafficking.
As with my previous visits to their home on Figure 8 Island, I marveled at the amount of good-deed-doing they manage to squeeze into their lives — generally doing so while I was lazily sitting on a rope swing or lounge chair.
On Wednesday, leaving Ace and Earl behind, I went with another visiting friend to Wrightsville Beach, and lunch at a place called the Oceanic. Though muggy, we sat outside on the pier, sharing it — the pier, not the lunch — with the seagulls.
“Don’t feed the birds” signs were everywhere, as were the gulls, waiting to swoop in for the leftovers when diners departed.
As soon as I sat down, this one (above) landed right behind me, and managed to snag a french fry from the neighboring table just seconds after it was vacated. A waiter quickly came by and covered the basket of fries with his tray. Party pooper.
On Thursday, the sun was out in the morning, but then storm clouds rumbled in. For a good hour, though, the beach side of the house afforded sunny views, while, on the inland side, it was grey and dark, with flashes of lightning.
Earl, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, didn’t seem bothered at all by the thunder, while Ace, five times his size cowered with every rumble.
The rain and sun fought it out all day, both winning several rounds. Late in the afternoon, a drizzle was falling when I walked Ace and Earl on the beach. When we turned around and began walking back, into the wind, Ace fell into step behind me to keep dry, sometimes stepping on my heels, sometimes bumping into me when I stopped, which I did a lot, so he would bump into me.
This morning we packed up the stinkmobile for the trip back to Winston-Salem. My first day here, I had left my windows down, to air out the car. Rain left both front seats soaked, which only made it more pungent, and required I cover them with my collection of dog blankets, my towels, and some of Steve and Louise’s.
Finally, they seemed to have dried out.
I just hate leaving the beach.
It makes me feel a little like the seagulls, after the french fries are covered up.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 23rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, animals, appearance, author, beach, book signing, dog, figure 8 island, north carolina, pets, pomegranate books, road trip, travels with ace, wilmington
When Pomegranate Books in Wilmington, N.C., invited Ace and me for a book signing, we couldn’t wait for the time to arrive, for — in addition to maybe selling a few copies of “DOG, INC.” — it meant a return to the beach.
He got up, poked his head out the window and his tail commenced to wagging.
By the time we pulled up to our host’s house — that’s him, Earl, to the left — Ace was raring to jump out of the car.
Once inside, we found Earl in a first floor room, where he was watching a gardening show on TV.
He showed us upstairs to our room and, after dropping my bags, we all headed out for a quick romp on the beach.
Back inside, I sat in the swinging rope chair on the deck and hoisted him in my lap. He seemed especially interested in my breath — maybe because he was trying to figure out who the heck had invaded his home, maybe because of the peanut butter left from the two sandwiches Ace and I shared on the drive down.
Or perhaps he remembered me. That’s what I like to think.
After a while, Earl went to work on his tan, and Ace joined him briefly on the neighboring lounge before deciding the shade would be nicer.
Some humans live in the beach house, too, who we’ve told you about before. They’ll be bringing Earl along to tomorrow (Tuesday) night’s signing.
It’s at Pomegranate Books, 4418 Park Avenue in Wilmington, starting at 7 p.m.
“DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend” recounts the race to clone the world’s first dog, the quick transition the service made to the marketplace, and the stories of the first pet owners who, hoping for genetic duplicates of their recently deceased pets, availed themselves of the service.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 19th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, appearance, author, beach, book, book signing, books, clone, cloned, cloning, dog, dog cloning, dog inc., dogs, earl, figure 8, island, john woestendiek, non-fiction, north carolina, pets, pomegranate books, signing, stranger than fiction, wilmington
Ace loves the glare of the spotlight. The glare of the sunlight? That’s another matter.
For the five hours we spent Saturday at Bookmarks, Winston-Salem’s literary festival, Ace probably spent about three of them in the shade of a covered table, even though it wasn’t all that hot.
Once he discovered the shady spot in the neighboring booth, Ace decided he was a stalwart fan, if not of “genuine jazz,” at least of WSNC — 90.5 on your FM dial.
He was supposed to be staying with me in the booth of the Winston-Salem Journal, which was kind enough to give me some space to sell and sign my book, “DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend.”
But after hitting it off with Marguerite Oestreicher, who works for the station, he decided laying at her feet in the shade was better than hawking books in the sun — and she seemed to have no problem with that.
For much of our time there, all that was visible of him was his tail, or a paw, sticking out from under the table’s drape.
When he did venture out, he did his job — drawing a crowd — most of whom, as usual, wanted to know what breeds are in him and how he got so big.
We sold a handful of books, donating 25 percent of proceeds to the Journal’s Newspapers in Education Fund.
Thanks again to the Journal, and to WSNC.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 13th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, author, book, bookmarks, books, dog inc., festival, literary, north carolina, pomegranate books, sales, shade, signing, sun, wilmington, winston-salem, winston-salem journal, woestendiek, wsnc
We interrupt these kudzu dogs to bring you a sad announcement from the beach: It’s time for Ace and me leave it.
I’ve always had difficulty leaving the beach — any beach. But this one, near Wilmington, N.C., is especially hard to tear myself away from.
While I have renewed my offer to our hosts, Steve and Louise Coggins, to be their live in gardener, while I’ve again contemplated being an island stowaway, bouncing from one unvacated house to the next, while the beach still beckons, tugs and all but wraps its arms around me, it’s time to go.
But I’m sitting here for a few more minutes in Steve and Louise’s all but empty oceanfront house — they both having gone to work on Monday morning. I’ll just have one more cup of coffee while my camera, computer, and cell phone enjoy the same kind of recharging my stay here has provided me.
Then I’ll go. I promise.
I should also whip out a quick thank you note. That might take a while. Then maybe one more walk on the beach. Then I’ll go. Really.
As I can’t find a pen, this will have to suffice, and maybe they will happen upon it.
Dear Steve and Louise and Earl (that’s their dog, pictured at the bottom of this post),
Thanks so much for inviting Ace and me to spend the weekend — and for all the wonderful food and drink and friendship.
I think I speak for Ace as well when I say there’s no place we more enjoy being — in part because of the scenery, in larger part because of your graciousness.
Sorry that you didn’t feel the time was right for a live-in gardener, but the offer remains.
It was great to see you guys again, and Earl, too. I’ll take him out for a quick walk on the beach as soon as I finish writing this, though that may delay my projected departure by another 30 minutes or so.
As a small token of our esteem, we leave you with a few beachy photographs — measly pictures of the things you see in real life everyday. The far greater and unrepayable gift is the one you bestowed on us by inviting us down.
Love, John and Ace.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 18th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, beach, college, departure, dog, dogs, earl, figure 8 island, friends, leaving the beach, louise coggins, north carolina, ocean, pets, photography, reunion, road trip, shore, steve coggins, travel, travels with ace, vacation, wilmington
No other place — and I’m just speaking for myself now — is, at once, so stimulating and soothing. Give us the sound of pounding surf, the sight of gliding pelicans and the smell of salt water and, of course, access to some air conditioning, and we are happy souls. All my senses, and perhaps even my brain, seem to to work better at the beach.
And this wasn’t just any beach. This was — in what was perhaps my biggest freeloading coup to date – a gated beach community, part-time home to North Carolina’s rich and famous, good old boys like Andy Griffith and not-so-good, not- so-old ones like John Edwards.
Figure 8 Island near Wilmington is a private paradise – not accessible to the beach-going hordes, private enough that celebrities (usually) find solace there, and dotted with mansions that seem to think they’re big enough to defy hurricanes.
Exclusive is what it is — the sort of place I’d be prone to make fun of, unless of course, I was invited in.
Once Ace and I were, we didn’t want to leave.
I’d made a point to time our continuing travels so that we’d be able to take advantage of an invitation to visit my former University of North Carolina classmates Steve and Louise Coggins, year-round residents of the island who were holding a mini-reunion for some college friends, most of whom I hadn’t laid eyes on in — as someone felt it necessary to point out — 35 years.
Steve, a lawyer, and Louise, a psychotherapist, are hard core dog lovers, and hard core people lovers as well. Earl, their Cavalier King Charles spaniel, is the latest in a long line of rescues. If rescuing dogs weren’t enough, Steve has also hauled some humans out of the ocean, and I’m guessing Louise, in her job, has pulled a few humans back from the riptides of life they were caught in as well.
They, and the other old friends I reconnected with, seem to remain just about as wacky as they were in college — Louise, who once tracked down Paul Newman on the island and talked him into posing for a picture, in particular. They seem to remain — despite all you hear about the vanishing idealism of my greying generation — just as idealistic and committed as they were then, too. Maybe even more so. If there’s a liberal cause, or a Democratic candidate, you can probably find its, his or her bumper sticker on the back of Louise’s car. (“Who would Jesus execute?” was my favorite.) And, beyond lip service, both she and her husband seem still up for a fight when it comes to what they think is right.
That, to me, was even more refreshing than getting slapped and tickled by a cold ocean wave, though I must report that the ocean is not cold at all. It’s the warmest I’ve ever felt it. (This continues to be the summer I came to believe in global warming.)
Ace and Earl hit it off immediately — Earl being a low key little dog who likes to sit in a lap, or other comfortable spot, and observe the humans, often with a quizzical stare that makes you think he’s still trying to figure out the species.
Ace — though he’s not big on swimming in the ocean, prefering to wade, was in his element, too.
He seems most content when among multiple friends, kind of like Steve and Louise. Their beach house — rebuilt after Hurricane Fran claimed their first — seems to have a steady stream of visitors coming and going. If it were a bed and breakfast, it would be doing a thriving business. I think there are long stretches between the times only they and Earl are there.
I hung around for two days, evening out my one-sided driving tan and pondering how I might extend my stay. I offered to become Steve and Louise’s live- in gardener — especially appropriate because, at their wedding, I, having gone attired in blue jeans, was mistaken for a gardener. I considered altering the dates of my visitor’s permit, or stowing away on the island, sleeping on the decks of unoccupied mansions during the night, frolicking in the surf by day.
But finally, and with great effort, I tore myself away.
Ace was even harder to tear away. For the first time on this trip, he didn’t come when I called him to jump in the car. Instead he walked up to the front door of the beach house and sat down — not the momentary, ready-when-you-are-sit, but that determined, try-and-budge-me sit dogs do.
But after taking in two days of good friends, good food, good sun, good surf, and a breezy oceanfront porch swing nap that — until Ace came over and started licking my hand — was perhaps the most restful nap ever in my entire history of napping, we forced ourselves back in the hot old car and headed north, headed in search of another piece of my past.
That story is coming soon. Suffice to say that — unlike my college friends, and their principles — it didn’t hold up so well.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 9th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, animals, beach, cavalier, college, community, democrats, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, exclusive, figure 8 island, freeloading, friends, gated, king charles, liberal, north carolina, ocean, pelicans, pets, private, reunion, road trip, shore, spaniels, traveling with dogs, wilmington
Age: 20 months
Encountered: Sitting with her owner outside Port City Java in Wilmington, North Carolina
Backstory: Jolie visits the coffee shop with her owner almost every day. She’s lively, and still puppy-like, but didn’t blink an eye when thunder and lightning rolled through. She’s her owner’s fourth boxer, and has a reverse brindle coat, meaning she’s predominantly black with some brown, as opposed to predominantly brown with some black. Her owner made it a point not to get another fawn-colored boxer, like his last, thinking that might lead to him comparing her too often with his former dog. He was clearly a big-time dog-lover. “God really knew what he or she was doing,” he said, “when he or she made dog.”
(Roadside Encounters is a regular feature of “Dog’s Country,” the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America.)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 8th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breeds, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, encounters, north carolina, ohmidog!, pets, port city java, road trip, roadside, roadside encounters, travel, traveling with dogs, wilmington
While a Delaware police department worried about the fate of one of its police dogs — shot in the line of duty last week — it suddenly lost another one.
Bandit, a 6-year-old German shepherd who had served four years in the K-9 unit of the New Castle County Police Department, was euthanized Monday after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, according to Delmarvanow.com.
The dog had worked Saturday, and became ill Sunday night. He was rushed to the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital — the same hospital where another of the department’s dogs, Diablo, was being treated for two gunshot wounds sustained in the line of duty four days earlier.
Diablo was shot twice last Wednesday in Wilmington while chasing down a suspect who police said had threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend. Diablo, who developed pneumonia at the hospital, remains in stable condition.
Bandit was surrounded by his handler Cpl. Paul Chickadel, family and friends when he died, police officials said.
In 2008, Bandit sniffed out $32,445 in connection with drug investigations, responding to 389 canine calls and assisting in four arrests. In June, the team was certified in narcotics detection, tracking and patrol work by the National Police Canine Association.
The department said arrangements have not been finalized for a memorial service.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 19th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bandit, brain tumor, dead, death, delaware, diablo, dog, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, german shepherd, hospital, K-9, k9, new castle county, pollice, shooting, shot, tumor, university of pennsylvania, veterinary, wilmington