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Dog Talk.

When I was growing up, we had a dog named Sunshine. She was a present given to us for not creating chaos in the movie theatre at the Saturday matinee (I think we were seeing “The Rescuers”) one sunny summer afternoon in August ’75.

Sunshine moved into the dog house that had been vacated a couple of years before by Dad’s German Shepard, Hausho. Hausho had to move to a new home because he barked all the time and kept my neighboring grandparents awake. Sunshine was a mix of Husky and Collie. She was an outside dog, chained to her house 24/7, because that’s what dogs in our neck of the woods did. We’d go out and play with her and feed her and such but she rarely left the chain that tied her to the house. She kept tabs with all the other dogs in the neighborhood through what I called the “bark chain”. A dog in town would bark some coded message, which would be then passed from neighboring dog to neighboring dog. All the dogs barked in the same cadence with the same type of inflection in their voice, though the message varied in pitch depending on the breed doing the speaking. It was kind of like “Lucky is getting screwed by Rover as I speak, pass it on…”

I rarely thought of the bark chain until we started camping this week. Though there are a limited number of dogs here at Cumberland Bay State Park, they’re keeping in communication by barking their messages from one end of the park to the other. Neighbors talk over the fence, dogs pass their message over campfire lit skies, apparently.

One surprising aspect of the bark chain here at the bark is that it’s often spurred by the fog horn of a woman living in what Earl and I have dubbed the “welfare section” of the park. The park lies between Route 314 and Lake Champlain, and has a decided hill or knoll the runs down the middle of it. We’re on the lake side of the hill and can’t hear any noise from the road. Those that are on the road side of the hill, hear nothing but the road and can’t see or hear the lake.

That’s where the “cheap seats” are.

Over on that side of the park you’ll see the ripped tents, older, beat-up popup campers and folks that are missing a few teeth. Among this area is a beat up woman in her mid to late 50s that often wears a bikini three sizes too small. If you want to be optimistic about the scene, her cellulite is three sizes too big. She has the demeanor of an orangutan, often yelling at her kids of triple-digit decibel levels. “Polly you shut up right now because the whole park can hear you!” Earl and I can hear her clear as a bell, keeping in mind that we’re at site 75 and she’s at site six. And on the other side of the dividing knoll.

After she yells these instructions to her kids, at any hour of the day, you’ll hear the “bark chain” kick into gear. Apparently her shrill voice is reaching the same frequency as a Springer Spaniel.

Good thing she looks the part.

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Reasonable Pacing.

Earl and I are at Cumberland Bay State Park, just outside of Plattsburgh, N.Y. For those unfamiliar with the area, we are in the northeast corner of New York State, near the Vermont and Québec borders, about 60 miles south of Montréal.

We arrived last night around 10:00 p.m. and because of our practice runs in the driveway, were able to set up the camper in about 10 minutes in the dark. I was concerned about the noise we were making but later on around 1:00 a.m., while just about everyone in the campground was asleep, a camper about the size of an aircraft carrier arrived and installed itself kitty-corner across the driveway from us. It’s one of those obscene travel trailers, excuse me “Scenic Cruisers” (which is emblazoned across the side) with several pop up accoutrément and a booster step which lowers itself down automatically when the door is opened. With this monstrosity they were towing an auxiliary camper the size of a small house and a storage unit to store their wares. The son-in-law followed in a BMW SUV with xeon headlights.

Not that I’m bitter or anything, but I believe if you’re camping and “roughing it”, you should leave the cappuccino machine, martini shaker, plasma television, cell phones and electric razor at home. Call me crazy. Then again, perhaps some people are roughing it in these land yachts. What do I know.

We’ve been kicking back and simply enjoying the relaxing, almost non-existent pace of the day. We’ve walked the campground a couple of times, taken showers in the community bathhouse (always an interesting experience), eavesdropped on our neighbors conversations even though they’re speaking in French (I’ve picked up a few key phrases and that’s about it) and explored the nuances of our new camper. For our maiden voyage, I think we’re tackling the experience like troopers.

I’m reading a fantasy novel, for the first time in a very long time, entitled “The Furies of Calderon” by Jim Butcher. It’s been about 10 or 12 years since I’ve tackled a fantasy and I’m enjoying it thoroughly.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Life is good.

Ying And Yang.

Today is a day of extremes. This morning Earl and I have readied the camping gear in preparation for our week long vacation. I’m blogging for a moment, and then we’re taking a shower and getting into our Sunday best to head up to my hometown for my grandfather’s funeral. Then we’re zipping back home, discarding our suits and throwing on camping gear and heading out with the pop up for the week.

Talking about swinging emotions.

The calling hours for my grandfather were last night. There were quite a few people there to pay their respects. Customers of the store, community members, family members that I haven’t seen in years. My grandfather was a member of the Masons, so they did their Masonic service last night. I found the tribute quite touching.

I’ve designated myself as the “keeper of the heritage” for my generation, so I’m going to be building a family tree. There’s quite a bit of information compiled for my paternal grandmother’s side of the family, but I didn’t think there was much information for my grandfather’s side. Come to find out, a distant cousin talked to my great grandmother before she passed away and wrote a lot of it down on the back of a piece of wallpaper! I guess the information goes back two or three generations before her. She’s going to make a copy. I’m going to find it quite interesting and I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing it. We were joking that we’re basically mutts, as there’s English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, French Canadian and a couple of other variations in the mix. Small wonder I find the world so fascinating, there’s a bunch of cultures in my blood!

Earl and I head to Lake Champlain tonight. I’m very excited about camping and am looking forward to the relaxation. I’ll be blogging, but won’t be able to update until we get back, though I’ll probably put some pictures up.

Into The Storm.

Last night Earl and I went to a local restaurant for a reuben on rye and a basket full of fries with gravy on them (my arteries have been a little too clean lately) and then hit Barnes and Noble for some browsing (and the books weren’t bad either). We had both wanted to pick up a new book to read during our vacation plus we were wasting some time before seeing “Bewitched” for the second time.

Our browsing was cut short by a flicker of the store lights and a rumble of thunder. Seems there was a BEAUTIFUL thunderstorm coming in from the west. I instantly jumped into “storm chaser” mode and Earl came along for the ride.

Usually we do the storm chasing in the Jeep, but because we were out and about, we just went ahead and did the chasing in the Acura.

Now that was an experience.

We headed west about five miles where the wind picked up considerably, the sky darkened to near midnight proportions and it rained and rained and rained and rained. It was raining so hard the wipers couldn’t keep up. Big rain drops made themselves known by pounding on the sunroof with a loud “plonk”. There were several awesome displays of lightning and the wind was blowing branches all over the place.

When Earl began to get a little nervous with the whole thing, I decided to turn around and head home. In an effort to get home quickly, I turned directly into the storm. We had to do a U-turn and backtrack due to fallen trees across the road. We were in the middle of the storm, with the wild wind and rain and dancing lightning to a thunderous beat. All that was missing was a flying cow. I was absolutely loving it!

Then I remembered all the windows were open at the house.

When we arrived home we found that while there was considerable wind and rain, nothing in the house was disturbed. The storm had cooled the house down quite a bit, but other than that, it was business as usual.

By then, the storm began to subside so we headed to the movies. Today the flowers are a little brighter and the grass is a little greener courtesy of their potent drink last night. The National Weather Service is predicting more fun tonight.

I better ready the Jeep and the camera ready!

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Bewitched. In Reruns.

Earl and I celebrated my going off call for work by going to see Bewitched again tonight. I must say that I appreciate the movie much more now that I’ve seen it a second time. It’s a little confusing, but once you scratch past the surface, you see that it’s really Bewitched. Nicole and Will do a fabulous job, especially at the end of the movie.

If you haven’t gone and see it, please take an opportunity and go have some light-hearted fun.

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Start of the Weekend.

I’m on call this weekend but it’s not slowing us down at all. I’m kicking back after a little evening picnic. Dad and his girlfriend Karen, my sister Jennifer and her boyfriend David, Earl’s stepbrother Rick and his girlfriend Helen and Earl and I. Great food. Great conversation and a nice cap to a beautiful day.

A great way to start kick off the long weekend!

Bewitched: My Review.

Earl and I went to see ‘Bewitched” starring Nicole Kidman and Will Farrell last Friday night. I’ve been waiting to see this movie for almost a year, well, actually ten years or so since Penny Marshall originally announced that she was going to do it in the mid 1990s with Ted Bessell (from ‘That Girl’) directing.

This version was written by Nora and Delia Ephron, along with Adam Mc Kay (who apparently punched up the script for Will Farrell).

I give it a “B” or 3 out of 5 “oh my stars”.

I will elaborate further, but be forewarned that there’s spoilers in the rest of this blog entry, just in case you haven’t seen the movie yet.

You’ve been warned.

The movie is a *wonderful* tribute to the original Bewitched, with Elizabeth Montgomery, Dick York, Agnes Moorehead and Paul Lynde in all their bewitching splendor in several scenes throughout the movie, by the way of clips from the original show. There’s numerous mentions of the original cast and it definitely pays homage to all those involved with the original.

Nicole Kidman plays Isabel Bigelow (the real life witch who plays Samantha in the “Bewitched” remake this movie is about) a bit ditzy. I’m confused about a couple aspects of her character. Does she have her own aunt named Aunt Clara who resembles Samantha’s Aunt Clara, including her collection of door knobs? Does she subscribe to the Wiccan traditions (through the use of tarot cards or whatever) or is she a witch with the same ideals as Samantha? Granted, she doesn’t twitch her nose, she tugs on her ear, but things happen pretty much like they did for Samantha on the original series.

I’m not a big Will Farrell fan as I think he’s pretty one dimensional as an actor. We get to see his “cheerleader” mode, his “Elf” mode and his “antics” mode. Jim Carrey would have been better simply because he bears a closer resemblence to Dick York but he would have been full of his own antics. Overall, I thought Will’s contribution was what I would have expected and nothing more. No pleasant surprises there, but no disappointments either.

Shirley MacLaine and Michael Caine, both wonderfully cast, were hopelessly under used. I believe this was my biggest disappointment with the movie, especially when it comes to Shirley. When she played Iris Smythson, she was much more Endora-esque then when she played Endora. Agnes Moorehead had a presence about her that can not be duplicated. I thought Shirley held back way too much when it came to playing Endora. Plus, the love affair between Iris and Nigel was touched upon but never fully explored. It’s like they forgot about them 3/4 of the way through the movie!

In fact, I get the feeling that a big chunk of this movie was edited out. Of course, I’ve followed the production of this movie since it’s inception, so I know that there are scenes missing, but for the most part there’s a lack of continuity that can’t be overlooked. For example, did Isabel and Jack really get married or was it part of the remake of Bewitched. Where did Abner and Gladys Kravitz come from at the end, as part of the show or as part of reality (Richard Kind and Amy Sedaris were **dead on** as the Kravitzes)? What happened to Nigel and Iris? Where did Uncle Arthur go?

Earl and I are going to see the movie again once I’m off call next week, and I’m looking forward to the experience, if only just to pick up what I may have missed on the first viewing. We’ll definitely buy it when it comes out on DVD, especially if they include deleted scenes.

It’s not a bad movie but it’s not a summer blockbuster by any stretch of the imagination, either. Its “o.k.”.

As an aside, the previews before the show included the trailer for “Rent”. OH MY GOD. I am pumped about seeing that movie this fall!

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Everything But The Uniform.

Earl and I spent the day today preparing for our upcoming Big Camping Adventure. We set up the camper in the driveway so we were sure we can do it, no matter the weather. We were able to get the whole thing set up in less than 10 minutes. Not bad for our trial run!

We then shopped at any store in the area that had a hint of camping supplies. Vinyl tablecloths, bug repellent wipes, mountain pie makers, lawn chairs, you name it, we found it and bought it. We were having difficulty locating the things we needed and found ourselves rather stumped after visiting Wal*Mart, Target and K-mart. Then we realized that we had our very own Gander Mountain so we went wild in there. Always good fun.

To cap off the evening, we brushed up on our crime-fighting skills by watching Batman Begins. It was a good movie. We both agreed it was the best of the Batman movies to date. Not quite as good (at least for us) as Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which we saw last night, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Now we feel completely prepared for our camping adventure coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to it.