Midwest Chick and Mr. B. 's homestead. After I got dressed, Barkley saw the overnight bag and soon was pacing by the back door, trying to escape with me each time the door opened to carry something out. It doesn't matter that I have never abandoned him without friends in place for his care, or how many times I say, "I'll be back". He acts if he doesn't understand, as if his mind, though hearing words that he knows, forgets them or simply on receiving the words, finds no meaning in them until I actually return. Such it is with dogs, whether you are gone 5 minutes or 5 hours, they believe it was forever as you hope beyond reason that it will never be.
The truck loaded up with my bag, a cooler, some smoked salmon as a little gift and dog supplies, Barkley is secured by his harness into the seatbelt in the back seat in case of an abrupt stop. It does allow him to lay down but he prefers to stretch out far enough to look into the front seat. He usually stays this way the whole drive, occasionally leaning into me. I have a water in reach for both of us and a tiny little point and click camera I can hold in one hand and snap some photos of the drive without taking my eyes off the road, or my dominant hand from the wheel.
Traffic was picking up, we passed a group of bikers from the Columbus Buffalo Soldiers (CBS) Motorcycle Club to whom I gave a friendly wave after I found a safe spot to pass the remainder of the group. I loved their leathers and appreciated the care, courtesy and caution they were all using as they navigated a busy Saturday freeway. It was a pleasant drive, no sounds but the soft strains of Spanish guitar on the stereo, the soft air compressor huff of a black lab behind me.
I arrived to the most wonderful smell wafting in from the deck. Mr. B. had one of his creations on the rotisserie. Beef Mart (an awesome butcher shop with wine and gourmet cooking goodies that many people will drive a good distance to), had been out of all of the pork chops except for the ever so pricey brand they have to bring in with an armored car. But they found a perfect two and a half pound pork shoulder. Mr. B. split it open, pierced it a few times with a fork, then sprinkled with ancho and onion powder, a little brown sugar and then laid about six strips of Amish bacon on it, rolled it up and tied it, rubbing it with a dry rub of secret and ever so fragrant ingredients. I was handed a big package of the Amish bacon to take home in the cooler with some bottles of Scoville Brothers sauce, plus a surprise sauce from Jerome AZ (scary hot!) a little birthday tiding.
While we waited, some crackers and "Bar Scheese" a tub of Win Schulers cheese, also from Beef Mart. At first glance I was afraid it was Velveeta which I don't believe is actual cheese but a natural compound, resembling rubber, that is strip mined outside of Waukesha, Wisconsin.
The Schuler cheese was made out of real cheddar and spices and was positively addicting.
While we nibbled, we caught up, as it had been some weeks since we'd seen each other. This summer has just flown by, faster than any of us wished for.
Bob, the doppelganger to Tam and Roberta X's "Huck the cat", continues to get more spherical, double the size of the other 3 cats. We think he's either stealing the dog food or drunk dialing the pizza place after everyone is asleep. I know he once stole and ate an entire waffle off my plate when my back was turned.
As usual, we shared our "carry piece" of the day, exchanged holsters to see what was new and different, and looked ahead to a trip later to the range to play with those and other boomsticks. We are friends, we are backup, we have the Constitution framed on our walls and the Second Amendment established on our hips.
Whether it's in a home, at the Brew Pub, or out at a local conservation club, there's just something wonderful about spending time with friends that know each other well. We know each others quirks, faults, fears and history, so much to draw from, conversations, pets, family, books, quips from movies. Conversations may be such that no one else understands what we are talking about, times when just certain words bring about unrestrained laughter.
Midwest Chick - "Maybe they're surfers"
Me - "or lesbians".
(giggle giggle, giggle, snort and a glance from Mr. B).
The pork is done!
With some fresh Ciabatta bread, a plate of very juicy meat and more sliced cheeses, we opted for sandwiches.
Midwest Chick: "his mouth isn't moving in sync with his words."
Me - "Maybe that's just because he's an attorney."
Third or fourth commercial. . .
Midwest Chick: "He's in sync now. How many years have these been on? Do you notice he never ages?"
Me - "I'm thinking he's Borg. Prepare to have your debt assimilated".
The race has started. Mr. B. is explaining further the art of braking and tells a story of when he was racing flat track and used markers (a clump of grass or rock) when able, to judge where to start the braking in particular turns. During one race, while the car was still pointy end forward (but not for long) he set a track speed record. Apparently one of the rocks was a turtle. On the move.
"Happy Birthday to. . ."
Valpo Velvet Vailla Bean Ice Cream or Whipped Cream?
It's my birthday, calories don't count. It may be illegal but I'm going for both.
I'm looking forward to getting home and trying out the hot sauces as well as the light box that EJ had left for me as he was unable to join us. I've wanted one, finding a sheet, a card table and a flashlight, not the professional setting for evening photos I'd wanted. My outside photos I think are decent, the inside ones in late day light, not so much.
New things to play with in both kitchen and shop, comfy couch, pie and flat track racing on a Saturday afternoon. A range down the road sometime soon, and friends gathered round. It doesn't get much better than this.
Well, unless you're a black lab.
Too soon it was time to say goodbye, including one last hug to Schmoo the lab. In the trees, birds sang, believing in this moment that they are eternal, and in this moment, they may well be. The sun looked down on us, creating shadows of the inextricable and incredible bond between friends, between human and canine, there on the periphery of yet another year, another day, gone but always remaining.
The sun was warm on both fur and skin as we played with the dogs one last time, tramping our shadows into the grass, listening to the bark of birds of which the silver air was full.
As I took one last shot of Schmoo, happily laying on the grass, I realized there's a lot of happy memories at this house, for all of us.