Saturday, October 19, 2013

Brackenridge Belles in Bandera County

Once again Mary and the Brackenridge Belles gathered in the country to walk without us bitches. Last time it was at Pam’s South Texas spread near the Mexican border. This time it was at Mary’s little place in Bandera County.

While Lewis kept us dogs at home, where it rained incessantly, Mary and five lady friends had lunch at the storied Mac and Ernie's cafe in Tarpley, then drove up to Utopia and hiked in Lost Maples State Natural Area, where it was nice and sunny.

The next day the rain reached Tarpley, where the walk they had planned along the creek at Mary’s place became a slippy sloppy one. Fortunately no one fell and after slogging back to the house, they had an indoor picnic lunch before heading home in a driving rain.

It’s probably just as well they didn’t include us, though I would never admit that to Mary. Better to keep her feeling guilty so she will give us treats to compensate, no?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Meandering on Mackinac and Mustang Islands

After Mary and Lewis got back from a two-week trip to eastern Europe in early July, you’d think they would have stayed home awhile. Wrong. Mary turned right around and left for another two weeks, this time to Mackinac Island to visit her cousin, Amelia Musser.

While Lewis tended to us as he worked on his upcoming book on San Antonio’s Spanish plazas in the frontier era, Mary reveled in Michigan’s cool weather and spent hours walking in the woods above Grand Hotel, owned by Amelia and her family.

The Grand, where “Somewhere in Time” was filmed, is one of those storied places that has to be seen to be believed. Its columned porch—the longest in the world—commands a spectacular view of Lake Michigan. But the interior is just as breathtaking, furnished with gorgeous antiques and paintings.

If dogs were allowed in the lobby Chica and I would have loved seeing the trophy room, devoted to Sadie, the Musser’s dog that won best in show at the Westminster Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in 2010. We would also have liked partaking of treats in Sadie’s Ice Cream parlor, a new addition at one end of the hotel, named for our famous canine cousin.

Well no sooner than Mary got home than she and Lewis turned around and went to Port Aransas for a long weekend, leaving us dogs at home to be checked on by cousin Ian Lanphear. Don’t get me wrong: Ian’s great. But we prefer it when our master and mistress are here to tend to our needs 24/7. And we hated missing all those hourlong walks Mary took every morning on the beach.

At least we’ve had a couple of walks in Brackenridge Park between trips. Last Monday five ladies showed up for an hour’s walk that began in the cool and ended in the heat. A pity we weren’t walking on Mackinac Island instead.

Friday, July 19, 2013

All about Ossuaries

Chica and I have learned that it’s never good news when Mary and Lewis bring out the suitcases.

Sure enough they took off to Central Europe for two and a half weeks. Thankfully we got to stay in the house with cousin Ian dropping by daily to walk and feed us.

We were not particularly interested in hearing Mary and Lewis carrying on about places like Krakow, Budapest and Vienna after they got back. But we pricked up our ears when we heard of the ossuary they saw in Kutna Hora near Prague.

For those not in the know, an ossuary is a place where bones are kept. And being dogs we’re all about bones.

In this particular case a blind monk got creative and used bones to make garlands, chandeliers--even a coat of arms to decorate a chapel. No dogs allowed of course.

Now that they are back, Mary is again taking us for weekly walks in Brackenridge Park with the Belles. Hopefully she won’t get the wanderlust anytime soon. No bones about it!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Of Dog Kisses and Seaborgium

A funny thing happened as my master and mistress were leaving on a trip last week. Of all things he tried to kiss me. Now Mary is a dog kisser from way back, but Lewis? It was so out of character that I panicked and lunged at him, growling. At that point, Mary (who had shamed him into the attempted buss) collapsed in hysterical laughter.

You can be assured that Lewis tried no such thing upon their return. Instead he nattered on and on to Mary about all the people and places they had seen. The pretext for the trip was his 50th college reunion at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa. But they prefaced the visit with a two-day-stay in Pittsburgh with cousins.

Turns out Pittsburgh is a real sleeper, filled with sights ranging from the Andy Warhol Museum to the Heintz History Center to the National Aviary. Nearby is Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece, which Mary and Lewis visited enroute to Meadville.

In Meadville Lewis reveled in reconnecting with classmates, most of whom he hadn’t seen since graduation. Turned out the star of the class was a women who ended up earning a PhD in nuclear physics at MIT, discovering an element (Seaborgium), supervising defense work for the government, and in her spare time bareboat sailing the world over, writing a novel and winning national-level dressage awards.

Wonder if she’s a dog kisser?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ranging down the Hondondo

On Monday, the Brackenridge Belles (and Bitches) walked the Judson Nature Trails in Alamo Heights with Sally Ann Smith, founder of Friends of Hondondo Creek. For those not in the know, Hondondo Creek is a semi-natural creekbed that wends its way, starting near Cambridge Elementary School, southwest through the Jack Judson Trails and joins Olmos Creek within the eastern edge of the Olmos Park Floodplain.

Smith and others have formed a 503(c)(3) organization that is soliciting funds to restore the network of forested trails-- home to an abundance of wildlife and more than 100 species of birds—into “a healthier, more natural condition as a means of enhancing the quality of life for citizens of all ages.” They also hope to develop educational programs for all ages and to create an outdoor nature learning center near the main entrance to the trails, by the Alamo Heights Pool.

Chica and I loved the sights and smells as we wandered through, stopping from time to time as Smith indicated points of interest. Her group plans to clear out invasive non-native plants, clear trash, and improve walking trails. Happily, leashed dogs are welcome and we dogs just can’t wait to come back. Those wanting more information can email or call (210) 602-7227.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Strolling down Salado--bit by bit

For the past two weeks, the Brackenridge Belles have explored segments of the Salado Creek linear park. Thanks to Mary’s son Maverick and his adventurous dogs, Chigurh and Sir Walter, Chica and I have already been on those trails. But it was in the heat of summer and we were plagued by mosquitos.

This was different. Thanks to a unseasonably cool spring, we have had two glorious walks, one north of Loop 410 past Los Patios and, this past Monday, one south of Loop 410 leading to the Austin Highway.

Talk on the second walk was all about Belle Martha’s attendance at the dedication of the George Bush Library at SMU. Martha’s husband, Sichan Siv, was a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under the younger Bush.

This Monday, we plan to walk south to the trailhead near Fort Sam Houston. And, given that there are more Salado segments farther north, we may not be back to Brackenridge for awhile. At least not until the mosquitoes arrive.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Oakwell Farms Adventure

On Monday, seven Belles and us two bitches were treated to a walking tour of Oakwell Farms, led by member Marijane, who lives in a townhome there. She led us down a wooded, paved trail along a small creek. While we walked she detailed the history of the Tobin family’s former ranch/farm, now developed into a gated planned community.

Oakwell Farms, we learned, was named after Edgar Tobin’s wife’s family’s ancestral home in Yorkshire, England: Oakwell Hall. After acquiring the property in 1945, Edgar installed an elaborate irrigation system, remnants of which remain. His son, philanthropist Robert Tobin, built a landmark home there, now used for special events.

But what interested us dogs more than the history bit was a little striped snake that crossed our path. Of course our mistress held us back, worried that it might be dangerous.

Throughout the morning, we were all distressed by Chica’s periodic shrieking. It was obvious that something was hurting her, but no one could tell exactly what it was. Except the vet. Mary ran us to Dr. Kothmann as soon as we left Oakwell and he determined that she had a bad crick in her neck due to a spill she had taken Sunday night. Thankfully, after Mary gave her an anti-inflammatory for doggies, she perked right up and never had another holler.