Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Day at the Races

Last weekend, Jay and I visited friends Jo-Ann and her husband Chris in upstate New York.  The stated purpose behind our visit was to retrieve my cat Olivia, who has been there for the past several weeks to be bred.  Jo-Ann and Chris proposed that we spend Saturday in Saratoga, about an hour away from them.  Game to an adventure that involved horses, we agreed.  I had not been to a horse race in 25 years.

Jo-Ann put together a lovely spread involving cheeses, figs, Italian bread, mimosas, etc. and we got there around 7 am to sit in someone else's box seat.  This is allowed before the races start in the afternoon.  As we dined, a commentator told us about the horses passing by to warm up on the track, muddy from the previous day's downpour.  Later, Jay and I took a tour of the stable area behind the scenes while Chris and Jo-Ann secured seats in the grandstand so we could have shelter from the sun.  While waiting for post time, we walked into downtown Saratoga to window shop and get lunch. 

Morning Warm Up
By post time at 1 pm, it was a sweltering summer day, unusually hot for upstate New York.  The weather was around 95 degrees with a humidity that required the wiping of perspiration from one's face every five minutes.  We were sweating from places that shouldn't be sweating.  Jo-Ann and I sat in the two seats behind our husbands, me in my big hat I'd purchased in a Saratoga shop.  One thing I noticed once the crowds came in was that even in this era of casual dress, the women were dressed beautifully.  I now had the styling race-track hat, but I certainly wasn't wearing the designer dress and 5-inch heels.   

Jo-Ann and I

The men were off somewhere trying to locate the paper that told about each horse so Jo-Ann and I decided to place a bet blindly.  She bet on the horse in the green silks and I on Number 7, both to show.  Not very scientific, but we did win something like $2.80.  Jay and Chris had more of an idea of how to place bets, so we encouraged them to take on the task later.  It was all very fun, albeit hot, watching the horses, the people, the races and just enjoying each other's company.  It was especially fun when our chosen horses started winning money for us. 

Then a young couple climbed the stairs, settling in their seats directly behind us.  The man was non-descript, dressed practically for a hot day at the races.  The woman was very attractive, blond hair, tan slim body, wearing a sculptured black dress and bright red stillettos.  Her diamond jewelry was in the shape of two horseshoes hooked together, a matching necklace and earrings.  She appeared to ooze class and money.

Since the men had to turn around to talk to us, it was probably them who noticed it first. 

"Look at the woman seated behind you."

I turned casually, facing her knees at almost eye-level.  Except I didn't see her knees.  She was sitting with her knees spread wide apart, her red bejeweled panties staring right back at me.  Yes, I clearly saw the rhinestones on her panties.  Apparently she was so hot  she didn't care about the stir she was causing in the rows in front of her as she aired her pretty panties.  Even if she got up to walk around between races, Miss Red Panties always sat back down in the same not-so-lady-like position.

Now giggling like adolescents, Jo-Ann and I had plenty of comments:

"At least they match her shoes."
"At least she's wearing panties."
"Jay, put your eyes back in your head."
"That reminds me, I need to make an appointment to see my gynecologist."

Trying not to be too obvious, we got a picture......
Jo-Ann Seated in Front of Miss Red Panties

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Camping 101 - Stay In The House

My husband Jay's three grandchildren, ages 5, 8 and 10 spent last weekend with us.  Normally, Stephen, the 10-year-old, lives with his father and we don't see him that often.  However, when we do, the combination of all three of them is exasperating.  Stephen, a fine lad all by himself, inspires bad behavior in his siblings, especially in 5-year-old Ben.  The two boys together gang up on on sister Amanda, requiring constant policing, patience, threats, time-out, etc. 

When I heard that we had all three for the weekend, I came up with an idea, practically genius in retrospect.  I suggested that Jay and the kids set up our 8-person tent and camp in our yard.  I opted out, stating a need for indoor plumbing. 

The kids loved the tent and Ben threw himself on top of everyone in excitement after it was finally set up.  He'd never slept in a tent before and couldn't contain himself.  Ben and Chardonnay are alike in many ways, including the need to jump on others when they are excited.  As I was saying goodnight, the kids were screaming and wrestling, jumping on Jay and basically behaving like wild animals.  Jay looked at me and actually asked if I was sure I didn't want to stay with them.  I had never been more certain that sleeping in my own bed was a great idea. 

Apparently Jay got the kids to sleep by pretending to be asleep himself.  They eventually gave up on trying to rouse him and conked out.  Chardonnay, however, was out of her element.  She often sits on our back deck at night, listening to the sounds in the woods surrounding our house.  She seems so serene when she's doing this.  After 9 pm, Chardonnay is normally down for the night, snoring and oblivious to the rest of the household that stays up later.  With her people camping outside she was a different dog.  Chardonnay felt like she had to protect them all night.  This meant that any sound in the woods required her to chase it into the woods, barking loudly.  This chasing, barking behavior occurred numerous times throughout the night, but at least the evil forest creatures stayed away.  Bringing Chardonnay in the house didn't help as she just clawed at the door to go back out.  Chardonnay's guard dog persona kept her and Jay awake most of the night while the children slept.  Poor Jay.  Lucky, brilliant me.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fat and Sassy No More

Like many owners of long-haired cats, I have been follicly challenged by the spring shedding and somewhat greasy nature of the Maine Coon coat.  Some of my cats have perfect, low-maintenance coats, but others are either too oily or too cottony thick.  The latter tends to form mats more easily.  In the past, I've gradually worked through the mats with a rake-style comb and a seam ripper.  Some cats tolerate this very well and others need two people for the process, one to comb and the other to distract the cat's head with treats, ready to scruff a ticked-off animal if necessary.  For some reason, cats don't like having their hair pulled.  Of course, the best prevention is regular combing and bathing or powdering.

Seam rippers (available in the sewing section of stores that carry that kind of thing) are invaluable for safely getting under a difficult mat, breaking it up with minimal damage to the appearance of the animal.  If a mat is close to the skin, using scissors is dangerous as a cat's skin can tear very easily.  The smallest cut can quickly widen into a horrible open wound.  I keep two seam rippers in my house and have a small one with my grooming supplies at cat shows.  There are some coats which seem to spontaneously sprout mats in-between judging rings so having a way to quickly take care of it without ruining the coat is important. 

One of my coat challenges has been from my 9-year-old retired female, Sassy.  After she was spayed, Sassy continued to eat like she did as a breeding female and put on weight, much like the college athletes who stop playing and no longer need a high calorie diet.  We gave her the title of "Fat and Sassy".  She has the beautiful color combination of a brown patched tabby (torbie) with white paws and bib.  However, her coat texture is very cottony, almost woolly.  With her weight gain, she hasn't been able to to clean herself as well as she could when she was more svelt.  Sassy has always been a big girl, something valued by Maine Coon breeders and cat show judges.  She produced extraordinarily large kittens.  Now she weighs 18 pounds and looks fat with her poofy, cottony coat.  With the summer heat, she also looked really hot.  She had a few mats, but nothing I couldn't comb out.  However, I decided to take the plunge and invest in electric clippers, thinking I would shave a couple of cats completely or just their bellies instead of taking them to the vet. 

Now I know what you're thinking....I tried to shave Sassy and she tore my face off.  Nope.  Not at all.  Sassy was very cooperative and actually seemed to enjoy the feel of the clippers.  Kelsey held her for me to get Sassy's belly, but the hardest part was how long it took.  I hope I get better at this with practice.  After at least an hour of clipping, I had a full bag of hair, a general fuzzy appearance to my own clothing and a very different-looking, slightly ridiculous, but happy cat.  Sassy doesn't even look like a Maine Coon now, but the surprising discovery was that under all that fur, there wasn't a fat cat.  Sure, she looks beefy, but not nearly as obese as I thought she would.   

As I marveled to Kelsey about how much better Sassy's body looked than I'd envisioned, my smart-alec teenager made a parting comment as she disappeared upstairs to her bedroom:  "Maybe if you shave yourself Mom, you won't look as fat either."