Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Melissa and the Very Angry Back

So the other day, I took the pups for a walk around the outlet mall because it was nice, not too warm, and I still have no yard in which puppies can frolic so we went to the mall instead. The walk went beautifully. The kids were very well behaved. The Gator Girl was her usual anxiety ridden self and Big was his usual disinterested self. We even came across two different people who actually recognized the Gator Girl as a malinois. Finding one person out there who recognizes a malinois as a malinois (and not a German shepherd or a dingo) is a rarity so stumbling across more than one is certainly surprising.

By the time we got to Joe's office to drop off the mail, it was hot. Almost twenty degrees warmer than it had been when we left the house. Had I known (or had the weather channel been more accurate), I wouldn't have brought the dogs with me or we would have gone straight home after the mall walk because when you combine the Gator Girl's heightened anxiety and the exertion (however minor) of the walk with a sudden rise in temperature, it's generally a recipe for disaster which usually manifests itself in the form of her launching herself at Big and trying to tear off his ears.

Such fun.

This day wasn't any different. I didn't get the Gator Girl strapped to the door in time and she found a tiny crack of opportunity and burst right through it. She growled and snarled, Big shrieked and I whirled around in the driver's seat and broke out my Scary Mommy voice and pulled the Gator Girl off the Big Brave German shepherd.

And thus the angry back was born.

Don't get me wrong. It's a worthwhile injury. I would like Big to keep his ears and if I have to periodically throw out my back in order to ensure that that happens, then I will gladly do it. The whole thing was my bad anyway because I had unhooked the Gator Girl from the door when I took the mail inside. I knew the recipe for disaster was in the making and I did it anyway.

The point is, I am now the proud owner of a thrown out back and I need to throw it back in.

Here are a couple of ways to not throw it back in:

1. Act as a decoy in obedience class. A decoy, for those of you not in the know, is the sucker brave soul who gets to first agitate dogs and then hold a target while (in my case) being attacked by three eager malinois (not at the same time). For my troubles, I was bitten once on the hand (again, my bad as I was gripping the target in the worst possible way) and received a seriously impressive series of scratches on my leg (neither injury from the Gator Girl). This latter injury led to the following exchange which I personally found to be rather funny:

Carl: (re: the scratches) Did the Gator Girl do that?
Me: No, Tres did.
Carl: Why didn't you tell me?
Me: Tell you what? That your dog scratched my leg while I was agitating him and provoking him to bite me? That's ring, man!

While I wear all my ring related bruises and injuries proudly, acting as decoy still wasn't the smartest choice I could have made.

2. Go to work. Especially when one's job involves the lifting and carrying of multiple boxes filled with tutlenecks and heavy sweaters. My last shift was before my vacation (the one where my store manager was Losing. It. and throwing a major hissy fit complete with profanity and flying water bottles) so I felt compelled to show up for this shift. I get so few shifts that I hate having to call out. I was told by the assistant manager that my first shift back was also the store manager's first shift back. And her shift was going to be a double. "So, uh, good luck with that!" she said into the phone.

I stopped at Dunkin Donuts (by the way, I so very much want a Dunkin Donuts location about which only the locals know) and bought the store manager a couple of Boston Cream donuts. They're her favorite. They weren't going to do much for her diet, I knew, but they would improve her mood. It worked. She decided not to hate me or throw water bottles at me and even helped me carry in the seventy three boxes of turtlenecks and sweaters. Still, after everything, my back was not at all happy with me.

Joe asked me how my back was feeling and so I told him it felt kind of crappy. This led Joe to respond, "Well, what did you expect it to feel like?"

We love each other. Really.

But one good thing to come out of this injury is that now that Mockingjay has finally arrived (without me having to mount an assault on the Northborough facility), I now have an excellent excuse to sit around and do nothing but read.

Oh goody!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Insert Clever Title Here.

My copy of Suzanne Collins's novel Mockingjay is being held hostage by the United States Postal Service. Do they not realize that I've been waiting since January to get my hands on this book? I have literally been waiting ALL YEAR to read this book and now I am at the mercy of the post office. According to the package tracking, it's in Northborough Massachusetts. Been there for a few days now. I'm not sure what they're waiting for but I am seriously thinking about going down to wherever my book is being held and negotiating its release. Because I really want to read this book and until I do, I have to avoid all the spoilers out there in cyberspace because I do not want to know what happens ahead of time. So if you are one of the lucky ones who not only has a copy but has already finished said copy, please don't tell me anything.

That aside, the week since our homecoming has been very eventful. First and foremost, Joe and I regained the use of our legs. After MEGA HIKE, we were pretty damn lazy. Fortunately, it was a vacation so no one cared. Well, I cared a little. I get restless but there was no way I was going to convince Joe to go mountain biking. We were going to go kayaking but on our chosen day, there was entirely too much fog. We would have been lost in Frenchman's Bay forever. We did make it to the big annual town book sale where I managed to spent $20 and leave with two bags of paperbacks including a novel (Shades Of Grey) by Jasper Fforde. Score!

Just before we left, we had a conversation with one of the book sale volunteers about how I'm not the type who gives up a lot of books. Because I'm not.

"Oh," he said. "You're one of those."

You bet I am.

This reminds me...my sister-in-law sent me a link to an article (complete with before and after pictures) about a couple of book lovers who bought the house next door and remodeled it into a library. An entire two story house just for books. My first thought was "just think of all the books I could put in Marie's garage!" Joe's first thought was "those people need help." So I guess that means Joe will not be buying me a library house any time soon.

He, by the way, is also hoping that my copy of Mockingjay arrives soon, if for no other reason that it'll get me to shut up about the book not yet being here.

May the odds be ever in your favor...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mega Hike

I'd like to apologize for the lack of vacation blogging. I know how very much y'all clamor for it but the WiFi here in the townhouse is...well, lacking would probably be an apt description. Sometimes it has other ideas than I about how much blogging I'll be doing. So that's why this one's a couple of days late.

But it's not always the WiFi. I didn't blog about what we did Monday because we didn't do anything on Monday. It rained and rained a lot so we went out for lunch where our waitress forgot about us and then took the shuttle back to Southwest Harbor (otherwise known as the home of the giant chocolate chip cookies). I was a little hungover, the same kind of hangover I always seem to get whenever I drink whiskey. This hangover makes me a little nauseated and a little mean (woe is the waitress who forgets about us then)... Hmmm... wonder if there's a lesson in there somewhere? Anyway, Monday was overall boring. But Tuesday? Tuesday was far from it because Tuesday was the day of the Mega Hike. To properly pronounce this, one should imagine an announcer at a monster truck rally.

Mega Mega Mega Hike!

MEGA HIKE is the eight mile, six peak excursion I had planned for us before this trip. If you'll remember, it hit a small snag because the peregrine falcons are busy making little peregrine falcons and a couple of the trails integral to MEGA HIKE were ruled out of bounds. But, as I was determined to make MEGA HIKE a reality, I came up with an alternate route that ended up adding just a little bit of mileage to the original plan (all right, maybe two whole miles). I maybe just didn't mention that part of it to Joe. Don't get me wrong, I did attempt to have this conversation with him but he agreed with me. It was just better if he didn't know.

Here's an account from the day:

5:00am: I'm awake. I don't want to be awake but I am, in fact, awake. I wasn't planning on being awake for another hour and now I am sad because I set the alarm on my smarter-than-me phone to serenade me with the theme song to Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog and now I have no good reason to keep the alarm on. Whatever.

6:00am: Shower. Joe's still sleeping. He does not seem to have the same level of excitement for MEGA HIKE that I have.

7:00am: I look outside at the still gray skies and the wet roads and double check the forecast on my smarter-than-me phone. It'll be sunny by 9am which will be nice since that is the proposed start time for MEGA HIKE.

Lower Hadlock Pond's Wall Of Fog

7:15am: Of course, this means I will have to roust Joe from bed first. I tell him that if he's coming along on MEGA HIKE, he'll have to get out of bed since our shuttle departs the Village Green in an hour. He groans something that sounds like "Can't wait!" but could possibly have been "Go to hell!" and then rolls out of bed. I go downstairs to start packing our bags.

7:30am: I'm excited to be using my new ultra light day pack for the first time. I put in my camelpack hydration system, a bag of food (mini bagels and peanut butter, granola bars and carrot sticks), sunscreen, phone, camera, the shuttle bus schedule and the all important map. Interestingly enough, the ultra light day pack is not as light now.

7:45am: Joe comes downstairs and we debate the merit of bringing along rain jackets. I say skip it since the weather channel still says the sun is coming out...but not until 10am.

8:00am: We leave the townhouse and book it down to the grocery store in order to purchase the sports energy drinks we neglected to buy the day before. We then have to book it to the village green to catch our bus on time.

8:15am: The Brown Mountain bus leaves.

8:55am: We arrive at the Brown Mountain Gatehouse. The trail we intend to take is located across the road. We walk up and down route three looking for it.

9:00am: Still looking. This is kind of embarrassing.

9:03am: Will MEGA HIKE be called on account of us not being able to find the damn trailhead? Where the hell are the signs?

A Boy And His Smart Phone

9:05am: Oh hey, look. There it is. At least we think that's it. There still isn't a sign but it kind of looks like a hiking trail. And there is a pond, Lower Hadlock Pond if we're reading the map correctly (which I am almost positive we are). It's enclosed by a serious wall of fog.

9:15am: Oh hey, look! There's a sign, an honest to goodness sign that confirms that we are in fact on the right trail. 1.4 miles to the summit of Norumbega Mountain.

9:40am: We encounter our first group, a woman and her two dogs. They're headed down while we're headed up.

10:00am: We stop for a rest. The sun's starting to break through, just like the weather channel said it would, and we're close enough to the summit so that we're walking on open rock faces. Joe breaks out his smart phone and checks that the GPS knows where we are. It's not entirely wrong.

10:15am: We reach the summit of Norumbega Mountain. Joe breaks out his smart phone to open his compass application and checks that the compass knows our proper elevation. It's not entirely wrong. My phone, on the other hand, is beeping incessantly for no discernible reason. Whatever. After a short rest break, we start down the north side of the mountain, a trail sometimes called the Goat Trail. This trail is a short, steep climb along granite ledges and, you know, walls, for lack of anything better to call them.

View from Norumbega Mountain summit

10:18am: Acadia Fun Fact #1: Rain makes granite wet.

10:18:02am: Acadia Fun Fact #2: Wet granite is slippery.

10:18:04am: Acadia Fun Fact #3: A trail which receives little to no sunlight will not dry.

10:18:06am: Welcome to the Acadia Water Slides. Make sure you pack your ass padding 'cuz you're gonna need it!

10:20am: Joe, being the gentleman that he is, lets me go down first. I think it's so he'll know where not to step because while I slip and slide on my ass quite often, he doesn't.

The very end of the Goat Trail

11:00am: We make it to the bottom of the Goat Trail in one piece. My palms are scraped red from all the slipping and sliding and I've already sweated completely through my tank top which used to be an extra small but is now large enough to be used as a tent. I stop to change, grateful I had a second shirt in the ultra light day pack.

11:05am: We reach the start of the Bald Peak (elev. 974 feet) trail. Joe has now seen the map and realized just how mega MEGA HIKE is. This annoys me because I did try to show him my intended route on more than one occasion before now. He decides the key to making it through the hike is the promise of dinner. Dinner, he decides, will consist of tacos and beer. Not necessarily in that order.

11:40am: Joe starts talking about how we should hike the Appalachian Trail. I find this hysterical for a man who was reluctant to climb one 974 foot mountain. Plus, I tell him, I do not pee in the woods. Six months is a really long time to hold it.

11:55am: We reach the summit of Bald Peak. This trail was much easier than the masochistic Goat Trail as it had been exposed to more sun. From here, you can see the fog rolling in off the water. You can also see our next three intended summits (Parkman, Gilmore and Sargent). We sit down for an extended lunch break. While we're lunching, a family comprised of two adults and five children (toddler to teen) arrive. They don't stay for lunch.

12:00pm: I try to update my Facebook status with my smarter-than-me phone but the phone can't decide if I have four bars or zero bars so eventually it gives up and tells me to update my status later. Instead I email my brother and tell him I'm writing an email from atop a mountain, albeit a small one.

The view from Bald Peak

12:20pm: We head out toward Parkman Mountain. It's a very short walk between Bald Peak and Parkman Mountain (only .3 miles). My phone won't stop beeping again. Stupid smart phone.

12:35pm: We summit Parkman Mountain. We would have been there sooner if not for my dumb ass phone. I turn all sounds off. Haha! Take take, so-called smart phone. Let's hear you beep now! I HAVE THE POWER!

12:40pm: We head down Parkman on the Grandgent trail. The Grandgent trail is described as "hard-to-reach and strenuous." It also doesn't receive a hell of a lot of sun. It's dryer than the Goat Trail but not by much. Joe's mantra has become "tacosandbeertacosandbeertacosandbeer" muttered under his breath over and over again. My mantra is "three down, three to go!"

1:05pm: We reach our fourth summit: Gilmore Peak. There's another family group up here with lots of screaming kids running around the summit. Always seems like a bad idea to be running toward the edge of a mountain but I'm not a parent so what do I know, right? Joe and I don't stick around for very long before we head off on the Grandgent Trail again.

1:45pm: Summit #5: Sargent Mountain, elevation 1,373 feet. The family with the five kids is already here. I'm damn impressed that the little ones have stuck it out this far. I take a family picture for them by the summit sign but one of the kids refuses to be in it. It's probably not because I'm wearing my Red Sox hat. This, for anyone who doesn't know, is a reference to our visit last year when a mother asked me to take a picture of her entire family together but her youngest son (an obvious Yankees fan) refused to let me touch the camera because I'm a Red Sox fan. Punk.

Sargent Mountain Summit, views to the south

1:50pm: Another family group, a mother and daughter and their little toy poodle, Aspen, arrive. Aspen, who is off leash, barks at and charges everyone. Joe finds this annoying. Not that the dog is barking or that the dog is off leash (which, by the way, is not allowed in ANP but whatever...) but that it seems to be all right because it's just a toy poodle doing it. Big wouldn't do anything to anyone either but it would be less okay if a 130 pound German shepherd charged you. At least he'd eat the toy poodle.

2:00pm: We leave Sargent Mountain, headed down the Sargent Mountain South Ridge trail toward Sargent Mountain Pond (.8 miles away). The trail here is very open and remotely flat (and dry) and we're able to cover ground quickly.

2:08pm: I managed to stumble and stub the little toe on my left foot. It is very angry. I am forced to stop and wait for it to become slightly less angry.

2:10pm: We walk through a whole mess of dragonflies.

2:30pm: We reach Sargent Mountain Pond. I am so hot and sweaty by now that I have to resist the urge to just dive in head first.

Penobscot Mountain- and not a peregrine in sight

2:45pm: Summit #6: Penobscot Mountain (elevation 1,194). Our only company up here is a seagull. This is the part of the hike where the peregrine falcons come in. Originally, I'd planned for us to take the Penobscot Mountain trail back down to the Jordan Pond House (our ending point) which would have been just over a mile and a half. But because of the falcons, we're forced to return to the Sargent Mountain South Ridge Trail. This makes Joe really, really happy. Buck up, I tell him. It's all down hill from here!

3:00pm: Except for this very brief uphill section.

3:11pm: And this one too.

3:15pm: Joe states that he's starting to get tired.

3:18pm: I manage to stumble again. Now more toes are angry.

3:20pm: Joe asks if I'm limping. I tell him, "Only a little...but it's all downhill from here!"

3:23pm: I have got to stop saying that.

3:30pm: My phone is beeping again. This time it is beeping to inform me that all its previous beeping has caused my battery to die. Best. Phone. Ever.

3:47pm: Joe worries that we are on some never ending trail that leads to nowhere. I assure him that we have to be getting closer. You can hear cars now so that means we're definitely getting closer. I am almost convinced of this myself.

3:50pm: I think my toes are now planning to murder me in my sleep. And I will sleep tonight so I will never see it coming.

4:00pm: We reach the bottom of the Sargent Mountain South Ridge Trail only to find a sign telling us that the Jordan Pond House, home of the bathroom and the shuttle home, is another two miles away on the Asticou Trail. Let's just say that Joe's reaction wasn't exactly "tacos and beer." At least the Asticou Trail is a relatively flat trail.

4:13pm: Except for this brief uphill section, of course.

4:15pm: I stumble. I then upgrade my toes from "angry" to "really frakking pissed."

4:23pm: We both get excited when we think we see some sort of rare, interesting wildlife in the forest. Turns out it's a stump. Oh yeah, we should totally be hiking the Appalachian trail.

Bridge to Civilization

4:30pm: We come across a quaint little bridge crossing a quaint little brook. I manage to drop my hat into it. I say some not nice words and Joe fishes my hat out of the brook. On the plus side, when I put the soggy hat on my head, it does feel good. I think about just lying down in the brook for a moment but my eagerness to get to a toilet trumps everything else. It's been a very long day and I've had a lot to drink.

4:46pm: I comment on how I think the Asticou Trail would make a good trail running trail. Joe tells me to go ahead. My angry toes tell him to do something else.

4:53pm: We're approaching the carriage roads now which means we're thisclose to indoor plumbing being finished with MEGA HIKE.

4:55pm: Our first sight of indoor plumbing the Jordan Pond House. "Civilization!" Joe cries. "You're dead!" my toes cackle. I go to the ladies' room and wait in line. While I wait, I listen to a three year old sing some nonsense bit of song at the top of her lungs. When her mother finally tells her she's being too loud, the toddler replies, "Oh." And then keeps on singing. I resist the urge to scream "WOULD YOU HURRY UP? SOME OF US HAVE BEEN WAITING TO PEE FOR EIGHT FREAKING HOURS NOW!" It's the polite thing to do. Or so I'm told.

5:07pm: Me and my really frakking pissed off toes make it to the shuttle bus line. There's quite a group of people waiting for the same bus for which we're waiting. This means we're likely going to have to stand all the way back to the village. We can't decide if this is a good thing or not. As much as we'd like to sit down, we can't be sure we'd be able to get back up again.

5:15pm: The bus arrives. Joe and I stand in the back until a pair of sisters squeeze together to offer me a seat. I apologize for my extreme smelliness. The little old lady sitting in front of us wrinkles her nose and opens a window and mutters something rude to her husband sitting next to her. I think it's cute she thinks I can't hear her.

5:45pm: We arrive back at the Village Green. I am pleased to find that my legs still remember their function. My toes, however, seem to be more angry than ever. If I had to rank their anger on a hurricane category level scale, they'd be a six.

6:07pm: We manage to limp our way back to the townhouse. We should be embarrassed that it's taken us this long to walk so little but hell, we summitted six mountains and walked ten freaking miles in eight hours and didn't break any bones while doing it. Joe's tired and my toes are planning a coup d'etat. No room for embarrassment there.

6:07:01pm: Shit. Why did we have to rent a unit with stairs?

6:07:05pm: What the hell do you mean there are more stairs? Do you think they'll bring the tacos and beer to us?

6:08pm: We make it to the bedroom.

6:10pm: Is that a blister? Oh, screw it. Bring on the margaritas! Just as soon as I can get back down stairs.

6:11pm: It's all downhill from here...tacosandbeertacosandbeertacosandbeertacosandbeer...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Drive


Joe and I went on a nice Sunday drive this morning, just like the old married couple we are (except that we are neither old nor married). We went to the big ass Large Mart in scenic Ellsworth.

Why did we go to Large Mart (can you name that reference?)? Well, I'll tell you...

I forgot to pack bras. They're sitting in my dryer right now, waiting for me to put them in the suitcase. They're going to have a pretty long wait.

So I went to Large Mart to buy a couple of replacements because the one bra I had actually managed to bring along (you know, the one I was actually wearing) wasn't going to work with all my tops and I do have some standards.

The Large Mart in Ellsworth is the biggest freaking Large Mart I have ever seen. And, apparently, the only women who shop for bras in this particular Large Mart are old ladies with ginormous bosoms and a love affair with a sickening amount of lace because the selection was horrible. Finally, after a stupidly long time spent digging through racks of gaudy and lacy over the shoulder boulder holders (some, I think, would secure Bubble Rock (seen below).) I found a couple that didn't absolutely horrify me (but don't think I didn't seriously consider driving the five hours home in order to get my actual nice bras.)

Bubble Rock (on the right) by Michael Hudson


When we were finished with the Large Mart, we headed to Bass Harbor Headlight and Southwest Harbor. We haven't been to the west side of the island before so it was very nice to make it there this trip. The Island Explorer shuttle runs all the way down here too but as we were already out in the car, we drove ourselves. We had to make our own parking at the Headlight because it was so crowded. Fortunately, we have a car with all wheel drive so we can do things like that (the sedan behind us attempted to do the same thing. They were unsuccessful.) Of course, doing this meant I had to bushwack my way through some brush in order to get back to the road but I am nothing if not a trooper.

Bass Harbor Headlight

We went down and looked at the lighthouse and then walked the Bass Harbor Lighthouse trail (.2 miles, so not at all strenuous.) and climbed on the pink granite shoreline for a bit. I always enjoy scrambling across boulders, more so than Joe, but he gamely followed along.

Following the lighthouse, we drove a little further up the road to the Ship Harbor Nature Trail (1.3 miles). Again, we had to invent our own parking spot as the trailhead was packed. The trail itself is very nice. It starts off wooded and then leads to more of the pink granite shoreline. Very scenic. You know what was especially scenic? The piles of dog shit someone left in the middle of the trail. Yes, Acadia is dog friendly and yes, I really like dogs. It's just their people I find I can't tolerate. You're supposed to PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOGS, people. It's people like you who ruin dog friendly places for the rest of us. You could have at least found a stick (you're in the middle of the frakking woods...there are sticks aplenty) and moved the pile to the edge of the trail or into the woods surrounding the trail so that other hikers would be less likely to step in your dog's shit. This said, I just want to say I didn't step in anything. I happened to notice the pile in time and both Joe and I were able to avoid it but it annoys me and thus this mini rant (plus, I had a very strong whiskey sour at dinner).

Just before we reached the pink granite cliffs, we passed a mother and her pre teen daughter. The daughter was posing in a tree and the mother was taking a picture with her phone. What was absolutely priceless was the mother saying, "You want me to take a picture of you sitting in a tree, picking your nose?"

When we reached the pink granite cliffs, the tide was starting to come it which means the waves were kind of cool. I love the sight of waves crashing on rocks. Last summer, I spent an insanely long time standing out on the rocks by Thunder Hole trying to capture a perfect picture of just that. Unfortunately, I still had a really crappy camera so it didn't work out as wonderfully as I imagined. This summer, I have a new camera with super zoom and a continuous sports capture feature. Unfortunately, I still have the same photographic skill set I had last summer so while I was playing around with the sports capture feature, I ended up taking about eighty pictures of one wave. I could make a really boring flip book if I was so inclined.

After dropping my lens cap and shoulder strap into a tide pool while trying to take a close up photo of a couple of snails (yes, really), Joe and I continued on our way. The Ship Harbor Nature Trail is really an interesting trail. You get a little of everything on this trail and it's still easy enough for families of all shapes and sizes and ages. Plus, there's nature. You know, sea gulls and snails and stuff. We even got to see a deer. Of course, it was really far away and might have been a horse or a cow or - no, just kidding. It really was a deer. It was just really far away. Even my super zoom didn't make that much of a dent on the distance between us. But how impressive are my powers of observation (probably not so much now that I've had that whiskey sour...and some of Joe's beer.), huh?

After conquering the nature trail, we went a little further down the road and took on the Wonder Land trail (1.4 miles round trip). This is a nice cliff walk trail. The path is easy and level but offers multiple opportunities to scramble over some rocks if one so chooses. There were also some inconsiderate dog owners on this trail too. By the way, please stop feeding your dogs whatever it is you're feeding them. It's obviously not agreeing with them.

One of my better wave pictures

The only negative for this trail was the lack of signage. There was one part where we had a choice between left or right and I, on a whim really, picked right. It happened to lead us to the parking lot which I didn't think it would do but there were absolutely no signs to be found on the entire trail. Unexpected. With luck, the signage on the upcoming Mega Hike (this would be the eight plus mile, six peak hike I've been putting together) will be more plentiful.

The Wonder Land trail was our last hiking jaunt of the day. We had lunch in Southwest Harbor at the Quietside Cafe. They have giant chocolate chip cookies. That's really all you need to know about the Quietside Cafe. I mean, yeah, sure their regular food was good but did you hear the part about the giant chocolate chip cookies? So damn delicious. I should have gotten more than one.

Maybe I'll go back tomorrow and do just that. It's supposed to be cool and rainy tomorrow. This is good because then I won't feel bad when this evening's whiskey sour consumption makes me somewhat...reluctant to get out of bed come morning. Good thing Mega Hike isn't scheduled until Tuesday.

The aforementioned snail picture

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Welcome To Bar Harbor

Today was travel day.
We were up early, well, the dogs and I were up early. Joe was up a little later. We had to get up early today because we still had stuff to do. Mainly pack. I had meant to do it last night but weighed it against my decision to watch Project Runway and Project Runway won out.
I still stand by my decision.
So we packed. It's funny because when Joe and I went to Vegas in June, we packed all our needs into one smaller suitcase. This trip, we still shared a suitcase but it was the big giant one. The one in which I could have packed the Gator Girl if she'd hold still long enough to get it zipped. But if I had packed the Gator Girl, I never would have been able to fit in all the clothing I wanted to bring. Joe commented on how strange it was that we needed such a large suitcase this time around. I just shrugged and mumbled something about being a girl. Not usually a card I play but what the hell? I wanted options.
So we loaded the big suitcase in the car followed by a bag of non perishables (peanut butter and mini bagels and trail mix) and a bag of bags (seriously. All the hiking bags and my selection of purses/around-the-town bags (I'm a girl. I need options) and the like). Next went the backpack in which I had packed my free reading books (three total) and the two WIPs I've pulled out to peruse this week should the mood so strike me. This was followed by the two laptop bags and beach towel bag and the lunch cooler and the hiking shoes and my around-the-town shoes, not to mention the bag which contained all the stuff the puppies would need during their stay at Camp Animal Behavior Consultants. And by 'puppies', I mean Big because he's the only with the eye drops and the back medication (did I mention that the poor dog's been diagnosed with lumbar arthritis?) and his own food. The Gator Girl, despite being a girl, travels very light.
Has kong, will travel.
So once we filled the car, we finally hit the road, only an hour behind schedule. Our schedule was further blown to bits by the construction on Route 113 and then the slower than death driver of an older than death Ford pick up truck but we eventually made it to the kennel, just before I think they were about to send out a search and rescue team to discover what evil might have befallen us.
(Unrelated side note: I NEED CHOCOLATE.)
We played with the GPS program on Joe's new smart phone and discovered when we tried to locate a Subway restaurant in Augusta, that the GPS was maybe not entirely trustworthy. It kept insisting that The Home Depot was located in the parking lot of a Sam's Club. It wasn't. Plus, we weren't looking for the Home Depot anyway.
There was more construction in Ellsworth and we noticed that the road widening project that they've been working on for the last two years hasn't really made a lot of progress. Kind of made me feel better about my own inability to finish home improvement projects.
It was after four by the time we reached Bar Harbor village and made our way up the skinny little one way street on which our rental unit was located. We found our parking spot easily enough and then walked around the building a couple of times, unable to find the unit itself. A local was nice enough to help us out and we managed to get inside. Then, something strange happened.
I fell in love and decided to move in permanently.
Oh wait, that's not strange. That's what happens EVERY time I set foot on this island.
It's a cute (if woefully outdated) townhouse in downtown Bar Harbor with a private deck that overlooks the Catholic church. It's a block away from the library and two blocks from the Village Green. It has some serious closet space, just massive amounts of closet space. See, I could have packed even more stuff. The master bedroom is ginormous and comes complete with noise machine (you can choose from 'rain', 'waterfall' or 'surf') and a little tiny television with a VCR. For your viewing pleasure, the owners have a small selection of VHS tapes. Hot Shots Deux, The Governess (totally my type of serious period film. Joe will hate it) and The Patriot starring one Steven Seagal. We're embarrassingly looking forward to watching this last film.
The bedroom also has this little rinky dink looking ceiling fan. I mention the ceiling fan because it was a little warm and stuffy in the master bedroom so I wanted to turn it on to get the air circulating. I found a switch that looked as though it might control the ceiling fan and found attached to it the following note:

BEFORE turning on this fan, you must do the following:
1. Open a minimum of three bedroom windows &
2. Open both kitchen windows &
3. Pull the blinds all the way to the top of all open windows &
4. Use a door stop (provided) to keep the door between the kitchen and master bedroom open
5. Open the door to the deck
The fan is very powerful. In order to run it, numerous windows MUST be open- best if run on low speed.

So I read this once, looked at the very well disguised very powerful ceiling fan and then read the note a second time. Then I got Joe's attention and read him the note. Then we both looked at the ceiling fan.
"I think I'm actually afraid of the ceiling fan," I said.
"Turn it on," Joe said. "See what happens."
"Hell no," I said. "You turn it on."
"No, you."
So we played the "You Do It, No You Do It" game for a while and finally, once I had ascertained that I had, in fact, opened the correct number of windows and doors, I turned on the fan. I set it to 'low' and Joe and I stared at the ceiling fan to see what would happen.
Nothing happened, interestingly enough. The ceiling fan didn't budge.
However, a giant vent in the bedroom ceiling opened up and a huge roar of noise scared the living hell out of us. If I hadn't been holding onto the the stair railing for deal life, I think I might have been sucked into the damn thing. Seriously, I think this fan was a stand in for the tornados in Twister or something because it was that loud and fierce.
What. The. Hell.
I turned the fan off. And off it shall remain for the course of our stay.
But regardless of the scary ass fan, appliances out of my grandmother's house and the severely lackluster cable, I'd still move here in a heartbeat. There are currently two units for sale in this particular townhouse complex. They're going for over $300,000 each which unfortunately means I will not be making one of them my bestest Bar Harbor souvenir ever.
Sad now. Good thing I went out and got some chocolate. I am very full now. Full, but happy.
The only blemish on the trip this far is that my mega hike, my 8 miles, 6 peak hike has hit a snag in the form of a peregrine falcon. Well, several of them, actually. See, this is the time of year where the peregrines make their nests around certain trails in Acadia National Park. Two of these trails are an integral part of my 8 mile, 6 peak hike.
I am currently searching for alternate trails.
Well, now it's 9 o'clock and Joe's passed out on the couch. Except for the absence of the dogs, it's like we never left home. And traded our good cable for really crappy cable. And bought a Steven Seagal movie and a scary ass vortex to put in our ceiling. But other than all that...
Ah, it's good to be back.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Summer Vacation

I am officially on vacation. I suppose I have technically been on vacation since my shift at The Store ended on Wednesday. And what a great shift it was too. There was drama, tears, screaming, things flying through the air, a bout of profanity that made even me blush and that was in the last ten minutes. And didn't involve me. No, it involved a breakdown our store manager was having. A very loud, vocal and property damaging breakdown.

But we do not judge.

I just kept my head down, finished the impossible window displays that had unfairly been assigned to me (I empty boxes and fold jeans...I don't do window displays. What do you think I am? Some sort of creative type?) and got the hell out of there just as soon as I could. The AssMan, by the way, thought the windows looked great which made me feel good right up until the moment where the cold, clammy realization settled upon me that that meant they'd make me do them again. But as the store manager was busy screaming "Fuck all y'all!" while throwing water bottles, I decided it would not be a good time to tell her that if they made me do the windows again, I'd quit. So I just left.

Ah, vacation. How I love thee.

This time out, we are bound for Acadia National Park for a week of hiking, biking, kayaking and sitting on the beach (you know, because there’s nowhere to do any of those things here in the Mount Washington Valley). This is all weather permitting, of course, as the current forecast seems to involve the word "thunderstorm" an awful lot. This is going to be our last foray out Bar Harbor way for a while as we're cutting back on our travel in order to save more aggressively for the Holy Grail of home improvement projects, the garage renovation. I've decided to build a three car, four story structure that will block out the sun entirely. All right, so I haven't decided to do that at all. Just thought it was funny.

View of the Atlantic Ocean from Pementic Mountain

Anyway, so I'm trying to pack as much into this trip as I can. I have a goal to someday complete all the hikes on Mount Desert Island and I've made pretty decent headway thus far in our previous trips. But I still want to accomplish more so I have designed an ambitious hike that will cover approximate 8 miles and lead us to the summits of six peaks (Norumbega, Bald Peak, Gilmore Peak, Parkman Mountain, Sargent Mountain and Penobscot Mountain). Granted, none of the mountains on Mount Desert Island are all that tall (Cadillac's the tallest at 1530 feet) when compared to the rocky mountains or even the Presidential range here in New Hampshire, so saying I'm going to summit six peaks sounds a lot more impressive than maybe it actually is. Still, it's a very challenging terrain. I may not have mentioned that last part to Joe. Better for him to discover it for himself while we're actually on the trail when it's too late for him to do anything about it, right?

I'd also like to hike Cadillac again, taking the south ridge trail up and the west ridge trail down. Joe made a joke that we should take the shuttle back down. This is a reference to the first time we hiked Cadillac on the freaking hottest day of the week (of course, I think all the days were hot that week) and met a couple who were woefully unprepared for a hike in that heat and wanted to take the Island Explorer shuttle back down the mountain. Problem was, the Island Explorer shuttle doesn't go to the top of Cadillac Mountain so, chances were, it wouldn't go back down the mountain. The couple was further dismayed to find out that Joe and I had an even more challenging route planned for our descent and left us so they could find some nice motorists to give them a ride back to the bottom.

View of South Bubble from Jordan Pond

But our second hike hasn’t been planned yet. Just the big long eight mile, six peak adventure.

Last summer we went biking so I don't know if we'll do that again, but I'm kind of hoping we will because I really want to bike to the top of Day Mountain (583 feet) on the park's carriage roads. Of course, me saying I want to bike to the top of the mountain will more end up me walking to the top while pushing a bike along, but hey, the ride back down would be awesome.

Other possible plans include kayaking in Sommes Sound (sometimes called the only fjord on the east coast) and rock climbing on the Otter Cliffs. I've brought up the rock climbing with Joe a couple of times at which point he gives me his more withering look and asks if I am crazy. Which, of course, I am so I'm not exactly sure what that has to do with anything... Joe isn't wild about heights and is even less wild about the prospect of hanging off a cliff that is literally right on the edge of the Atlantic.


So I don't know exactly what we'll end up doing but whatever it is, it'll be awesome because we always have a great time in Acadia. And it just so happens that this vacation just so happens to coincide with the big annual town book sale they hold every year in the village green and library.

View of Sand Beach from the Beehive Trail

Isn't that just a happy coincidence? Really, I don't know how these things come together because I certainly didn't contact the tourism bureau to ask which weekend they'd be holding the even so I could carefully plan the trip around it.

What? I didn't. It just happened to work out that way.

At least that's the story you should tell Joe should he ask. Which he won't. He is resigned to his fate.

Anyway, I don't know what my blogging capabilities will be while on the island so this may be my last entry for a while. I guess I could always attempt to blog with my new smarter than me phone but then I run the risk of getting frustrated with the damn thing and pitching it into Frenchman's Bay, so maybe I won't do that.

See you on the flip side...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Accentuate The Positive

This blog has been a little doom and gloom of late. Maybe more than a little. So today, I have decided to write about the good things that are going on. They may be few and very, very small but they are still inherently good and today is all about the good.

First of all, I had my performance review at The Store this week. There were no real surprises. I still have a job (see, something good!) but I'm supposed to work on selling rewards cards and PWPs (purchase with purchase) to customers but since I have never done that (and never will), and management brings it up every year at this time, I wasn't all that surprised to hear them bring it up again. Other than that, they seem to like me (further proof none of them know this blog exists). I even worked hard enough to merit a raise this year, something not every employee was able to do. Last year, no one got raises so to hear that I had received a raise this year was unexpected. So yeah. I got a raise. Raises are good. Even when they're only a bump of twenty one cents an hour. I think this might be the lowest raise I have ever received in my long and illustrious retail career, but hey, it's still a raise and it's mine. Go me. And the best part is that I even managed to double my hours this week (thank you, wildly inaccurate shipping reports!) so next pay period, I might get a check that isn't a complete embarrassment to take to the bank.

I hate my new phone less. I received my first call yesterday and missed it because I didn't realize that was my phone ringing. I thought it was on television. Then, when my friend called a second time (she has learned to call me twice in a row as I am more often than not looking for the phone when she calls the first time), it took me a little while to figure out how to answer the phone as it had not occurred to me to figure this out ahead of time. But the pieces are certainly falling into place. All right, so maybe my contact list has disappeared into the ether and I can't seem to get it to stop beeping every time I receive a new email and the NFL app I downloaded keeps forgetting that my favorite team is New England and not Indianapolis, but I did get to check my email at work today (only on my lunch break, I swear!) and update my Facebook status with it so that was pretty cool. But don't tell Joe I said so...

I am going on vacation soon to my current favorite spot in the world (I have to say current because I haven't been everywhere in the world. At least not yet.). We're headed to Bar Harbor, Maine in about a week and a half. We've gone there every summer for the past couple of years and I love it. This summer, Joe thought he might not be able to go as he was summoned for jury duty during our vacation period. Fortunately, the county court was willing to reschedule. To November. I think it is now Joe's ambition to move before then.

Suzanne Collins's book Mockingjay will be released at the end of the month. This is a Very Good thing as I have been waiting a while to find out what is going to happen with her characters. If you haven't read her novels (Hunger Games and Catching Fire), you really should because they are more than excellent reads. Don't be put off by that "young adult" stigma. Read them. You won't be sorry.

What else? Oh yeah, Jacoby Ellsbury is back in the lineup and is still as adorable as ever. So maybe his performance at the plate hasn't been stellar, but it's only his second game back. Mike Lowell is back which is also good news. Josh Beckett turned in a stellar performance against the Cleveland Indians and managed to score his first ejection in the same night. Big Papi hit a grand slam last weekend.

Switching gears a little, Wes Welker is at training camp, you know, training which really did thrill me to no end. He's my favorite Pats player right now. Sure, Tom Brady's hot but I heart Wes Welker. This season's gonna be THE season, I can feel it!

Oh, and last but not least, today is my friend Heidi's birthday. We've been friends for a long, long time. High school, you know? Junior High, even. We always manage to have a good time together, even when we're sitting in a bus station in Rochester, New York at two in the morning. Or trying to sell Rainbow vacuum cleaners over the phone (they clean everything with water but don't get anything wet!) Or stealing things from Denny's (all right, so that wasn't Heidi, just me) or stealing things from Chuck E. Cheese's (again, not Heidi...but she is often the getaway driver which makes her indispensable to me). Or sitting in McDonald's or Friendly's eating junk food and discussing the finer points of English literature. Going to watch Aladdin instead of going to our junior prom, going to the senior prom, marching band (wait...was that ever a good time?), running track (all right, she ran, me not so much. I sort of limped behind), band trips to Florida and Washington D.C., playing games of Taboo and eating our weight in Smarties. Bowling. And so much more! She's really been a great friend. Here's to growing old and gray, together...not that we will ever do that, of course because we will be (what age was it that we decided on?) twenty five (?) forever and ever. Happy Birthday, Heidi!!

And now, in celebrate of all things positive, I am going to make myself a batch of chocolate chip muffins and eat them all. Because I can.

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Haitus Hating

I've been on hiatus for about a week now. I wish I could say it was going well, that it was the exact right thing for me to do. Actually, I can say that last part. It was the exact right thing for me to do. My head knows this but I think it's going to take a while for the rest of me to catch up.

But it's not going well. It's like I'm detoxing or something. I'm going to start seeing pink elephants marching in and out of this room any minute now. But until then, here's a couple of lists I've written for you:

Things I Should Be Or Could Be Doing While On Hiatus

1. Learning to use my new smart phone. Yeah, that's right. I have a smart phone. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Now I don't know what the hell I was thinking. I'm sure it'll be fine once I figure out how to use it but right now it's just making me feel stupid. Really, really stupid.

2. Weeding the garden. Yeah, that's right. I have a garden. Well, at least I think I do. I assume it's that thing underneath all the weeds. I'll let you know if I figure it out.

3. Getting caught up on my quality recorded television. Four episodes of Merlin, four episodes of The Vampire Diaries and this week's episode of "How Not To Be A Spy" (also known as Covert Affairs)...that's almost an entire day right there! Especially if I watch all the commercials too.

4. Decluttering the basement. That's right. I also set other goals at the beginning of the year. This would be one of them.

5. Scraping the deck. Still needs to be done. Still needs to be painted. Whatever.

6. Painting the bedroom. Still needs to be done. But, God, I hate painting.

7. Meditation. My stress level might be a little high right now. Just a little. I tried a yoga pose that the sadistic Wii Fit said would melt away stress and, for a while, it worked but only because I was in too much pain from the ridiculous position into which I had contorted my body.

Things I'm Actually Doing While On Hiatus

1. Moping.

2. Brooding.

3. Pacing.

4. Tearing out my hair.

5. Biting my nails down to the quick.

6. Screaming at people and their dogs to get the hell of my new lawn.

7. Grumbling about people and their dogs on my lawn.

Here's hoping Week Two is a smoother experience.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lawn And Neighbors

I really can't tell you how much I'm hating people right now.

Well, all right, maybe not all people. But yeah, the shit list is growing.

So, as you know, we recently put in a lawn. The ground's still soft and the grass still new so I've been a little- protective, shall we say- of the whole damn thing. My dogs aren't allowed on it yet so I certainly won't allow any other dogs on it.

Today, a couple from our neighborhood was out walking their dog. Well, they were walking and their dog was running free wherever he wanted his little legs to take him. You already know my feelings on this subject. No need to rant about it again.

But when I saw the dog standing on my new lawn, I got a little pissed. All right, so I got really pissed. When you combine that with my growing irritation with The Store and my absolute frustration with this whole frakking hiatus thing, the pissed off-ness that was me sort of manifested itself into shrieking. So I shrieked at the passers-by to get their dog the hell off my lawn.

They heard me. Of course, I think the entire neighborhood heard me. And then later, I received an angry email from my neighbor about how obnoxious it was of me to shriek at them because they weren't on my lawn. This is the second time I've done it. I should cut it out.

Dear Asshats,

I would apologize for my 'obnoxious' behavior, but let's face it, I'm not sorry. like to apologize for my grievous breach of etiquette. I wasn't shrieking at you to get off my lawn. I know you weren't on my lawn. I was shrieking at you to get your your damn dog off my lawn. There is a very distinct difference and I sincerely apologize if my shrieking didn't make that clear to you. And, also, just to make sure we understand each other, this is not the second time I've done it. It's the third.

The first time was when your dog appeared unchaperoned so far in my yard, he was practically standing on my deck and it would have been rude of me not to offer him a cool refreshing beverage. Fortunately, as you have already pointed out, I am rather boorish and not in the least bit considerate, so I instead offered you a heaping helping of get your damn dog out of my yard. Of course, I had to shout this while jumping over the back of my couch so I could convince my German Shepherd not to go through the screen doors. Also, just so you know, it took you three tries to call Rover back to you. This is not considered having your dog under vocal command.

The second time, the time of which you are unaware, I get. I think I know why you didn't hear me. That was the time when Big and I came around the corner of our garage to find Rover standing in the middle of our driveway. We did not expect to see him there as it is NOT HIS DRIVEWAY. You didn't hear the shrieking then because it was delayed because I was a little busy being dragged down the driveway by an incensed German Shepherd. You're welcome, by the way, for the me stopping him bit. You owe me band aids and Neosporin.

And, also, just so you know, I also yell when Marie's dog is in my yard. And Barney. And the other two dogs whose names I do not know. My yard is not the neighborhood dog restroom and I don't let my dogs run rampant through your yard so why do you think it's all right to let your dog do that to mine? Plus, I think the irritation I carry for all of you is justified because before I take my dogs outside, I have to walk from room to room, looking out windows to ensure that none of the neighborhood dogs are taking a respite on my lawn. The fact that I have to do that before I take my own dogs ON LEASH outside IN MY OWN YARD is frakking ridiculous.

All right, so maybe I shouldn't have shrieked but maybe you should keep your dog OFF MY FRAKKING LAWN. This is, after all, not the first time I've yelled such things out my window at you when your obnoxious little springer spaniel is taking his jaunt through my yard. And I know you know this because you brought it up in your shame on me email. One would think you might have figured it out.

One would think.

Bottom line is, if you want me to stop shrieking, keep Rover from roaming in my yard. Or else, do it when Joe's home alone. He's much nicer about these things than I am. As you can tell.


The Shrieking Mad Bitch of The Mount Washington Valley

I am really so over having neighbors. I would like nothing more than to live somewhere where my nearest neighbor is at least a full mile away. Preferably five. Or ten.

Anyway, I need to go meditate or something...SERENITY NOW!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

July 2010 Book Review

Seventeen Against The Dealer- Cynthia Voigt- The final, as far as I know, book in the Tillerman cycle. Dicey is the focus of this book so I’m pretty happy about that. I hate that Dicey stumbles so hard in this book. I guess that’s life (hell, I know that’s life) but I hate to see her take it so hard on the chin. Yeah, I know she’s a fictional character but I still like her and want good things for her.

Sizzling Sixteen- Janet Evanovich- The latest Stephanie Plum novel. I don’t know what to make of this one. There’s the same map cap antics that mark any Plum novel and the signature destruction of a car (this time a poor unsuspecting jeep wrangler) but this book didn’t seem to have a whole lot of substance. This probably sounds funny to anyone who has read one of these books because substance isn’t really a word usually equated with the series. They’re feather light and funny and this book did make me laugh but it left me wanted something more. I mean, a lot more. I am growing weary of the Morelli-Ranger-Stephanie triangle and constant fast food restaurant visits. C’mon, Stephanie. You lost out on a skip because you let Lula convince you to go get fried chicken or whatever. Drop off the perp and then go get the fast food. Have you learned nothing after sixteen novels?

Blue Eyed Devil- Robert B. Parker- One of his westerns featuring Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch. Maybe the last of his westerns featuring these two or anyone else. I never really know what to make of these books. They’re interesting and I like the characters well enough (except for Allie. She’s a pain in the ass who needs to be dropped into a canyon and left there) but for westerns, they’re remarkably uneventful. I mean, stuff happens, don’t get me wrong, it just seems like not a whole lot happens. There’s always a lot more dialogue than one would expect to see in a western, but it’s also a Robert B. Parker western and so there’s bound to be a lot of dialogue talking about how great Virgil Cole is. And don’t get me wrong, Virgil’s pretty great, but Everett is too.

Midnight Rising- Lara Adrian- The next volume in the vampire romance series I started reading a couple of months ago. My boss lent me the next three books and this was the first of them. Nothing new here, really. A vampire finds a girl to fall in love with and they have some truly amazing sex while drinking each other’s blood. So there it is. I have two others titles that will follow this one. The last time I did that, I was seriously jonesing for some classic literature afterward. Wonder if that’ll happen again this time.

Veil Of Midnight- Lara Adrian- Another of the Midnight Breed series. Again, nothing earth shattering. I have to say though that I hope the vampire warrior guy, Sterling, gets his own novel soon because that guy needs a nice girl.

Ashes Of Midnight- Lara Adrian- Yep. Need some classic lit stat. That said, Sterling better get himself a nice girl soon. Why is the next book in the series about one of the new warrior guys and NOT Sterling? Also bothering me in this book was the way the character, Claire, always referred to her sort of husband guy by his full freaking name. First and last, almost all the freaking time. And Andreas, the main character of this book…I know he had a hell of a hard time in the last book but his character in this story seemed way off the mark for what had been established for him in previous outings. Traumatic events can alter a person, I understand, but this seemed just way off to me.

Friends For Life- Ellen Emerson White- I finally tracked this down through Barnes and Noble’s online used book search because I’ve been wanting to read this book since Susan McAllister appeared in the Meg Powers series. According to the back cover blurb, this was Ellen Emerson White’s first novel. It wasn’t bad. There’s some good humor and dialogue in it but it’s far from my favorite book ever. Next up, this novel’s sequel. It doesn’t focus on Susan but she does at least show up in it which is enough for me.

Life Without Friends- Ellen Emerson White- Wow. Just wow. I really liked this book. I didn't expect to like it this much. This book is another example of why Ellen Emerson White is one of my all time favorite authors. Perhaps even my number one all time favorite author. The main character, Beverly, is great. The dialogue is fantastic, the humor is great and the story is excellent. Makes me wish there was another book about Beverly. I mean, we know what happens to Susan, you know? And now I’d like to know what happens with Beverly too.

Linger- Maggie Stiefvater- The sequel to Shiver which I read at the beginning of the year. I found Shiver to drag at some parts but I didn’t find that all with this novel. I found Linger to be absolutely beautiful. It’s written so well, so damn poetic and lovely. Not a lot of young adult fantasy is written as intelligently as this novel is. Hell, not a lot of adult fantasy is written as intelligently as this novel is. I really want to know what will happen with the cast of characters. Sam and Grace are fantastic but Isabel and Cole are particularly interesting. The only potentially bad thing is that the damn book ended the same way the first one did…on a decidedly unresolved note. I am now hoping like hell that there’s another one coming. And that it'll show up today.

So that wraps things up for July. Here's where I stand on my goal:

July Books: 9
Year To Date Total: 64
Books Remaining: 36