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Marley’s Maine-Cation Review

Marley enjoys her first vacation.

Lynnrockets and Co. are back from their most recent vacation. This was the first time that our 3 year old dog Marley accompanied us. My wife, sister and brother-in-law also tagged along on our trip to Boothbay Harbor, Maine. This is how it all went down from Marley’s point of view.

Early last Tuesday morning they loaded up the station wagon. As usual, I was placed in back in the built-in kennel along with a few chew toys and some water. It was claustrophobic to say the least inasmuch as the other half of the way-back was filled with suitcases and at least 15 pairs of girls’ shoes. The car started and I prayed that we were not going to the vet.

I breathed a sigh of relief when we passed by the street that leads to the animal hospital and was finally able to relax a bit. We avoided the highways and traveled north up scenic Route 1A from Boston. I like the scenic route so much better than the highway. Not because I like scenery so much, but because it offers me the opportunity to bark loudly at every other dog I see walking on a leash. I am pretty sure that Lynnrockets and family also enjoyed my near constant exclamations because they seemed to yell right along with me. I’m not sure what “Shut-Up !!!” means, but they really got into it at times.

We drove up the coast and the smell of the salt air was so aromatic that I danced around and spilled my water all over the place. We made it as far as a place called Wells, Maine before we finally stopped so that I could relieve myself. The stop also offered my mother the opportunity to take off her jersey and put it on the correct way because it appears that she had been driving with it inside-out since we left. What a fool. I would never be caught dead with my collar inside-out. Anyway, they re-filled my water bowl, threw me back in the wagon and we were off once again.

I napped for awhile after that so I’m not sure what happened until we stopped in Freeport, Maine. By that time, Lynnrockets had discovered that he forgot to wear a belt and did not pack another one. I think he did that purposely so that he could stop at L.L. Bean to buy a new one and whatever else might suit his fancy like those 2 pair of pants and that shirt. What is it with people and those darn clothes? At least the stop offered me the opportunity to relieve myself yet again¬† and to bark at some small dogs that looked like Guinea pigs. What’s with those bows in their hair?

After about another hour or so, we finally rolled into Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Wow! What a spectacular view! Beautiful ocean, boats of all shapes and sizes, the wafting smell of lobster and fried clams. Exactly like home on the North Shore of Boston. Why the heck did we leave and come here?

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

The car (or as my family says it, “cahhh”) finally came to a stop at a place called the Spruce Point Inn. Now we’re talking! The Inn was a beautiful old New England building with a wrap-around porch overlooking the harbor and dog treats and a water bowl on the front steps. How’s that for a canine welcome? The Inn is situated on 57 acres of untouched shoreline and has 56 modern guestrooms in 8¬†traditional lodges, 16 classic cottage rooms, 9 guestrooms and suites in the historic Main Inn and 4 townhouses. There is a regular pool as well as an oceanfront salt-water pool, free bikes and kayaks and miles of hiking trails. Best yet, the whole place is dog-friendly (no crates or kennels necessary)!

We stayed in a cottage known as the Cardinal. It had 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a galley kitchen and a wonderful cathedral-ceiling living room with stone fireplace. It also had 3 porches for me to keep an eye on all the action. Management gave me (and the other dogs) free reign. We could lounge by the pools, swim in the ocean, go on boat tours and run wild on those wonderful hiking trails. My family also had a great time because there is a fine dining restaurant and a traditional New England pub (where I believe Lynnrockets slept one night) on the premises.

The town of Boothbay Harbor is also great because nearly everything there is dog-friendly too. The shops along Commercial Street and the wharf all have water bowls and treats at the entrance. I could roam not only in the stores, but also in the restaurants. Imagine that, I was allowed to sit on the deck of a number of restaurants while my family filled themselves with fresh lobster and other seafood. Trolleys carried us into town and home whenever we pleased.

Spruce Point Inn

Spruce Point Inn

I sure hated to leave that place after such a wonderful week. All in all, I had a great time. My Marley rating is a spectacular 5 “Woofs”! The ride home was uneventful however. My long nap was interrupted only by another stop at L.L.Bean a few antique shops and a few relief breaks. Now I’m home and back to my normal dog’s life. Guess I’ll have to turn this blog back over to Lynnrockets tomorrow.

Until next time, here is a song and some video which accurately captures Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

Back In The Saddle (or office chair in this case)

Lynnrockets would like to thank all of you once again for your sympathy and kind words of support during my recent time of loss. Loving words go a long way towards healing a wounded soul. I never would have guessed when I started this blog a little over a year ago that I would attract very many readers, let alone the sizable group of wonderful folks that have become not only an important part of this little community, but who also now hold a very dear spot in my heart. I will continue to hold you close and hopefully repay my debt to all of you with a few cogent comments and a lot of laughs.

I have decided to return to the blogosphere more quickly than I had originally anticipated. Please bear with me (or bare with me if you don’t like wearing clothes) during the next few weeks if I wax philosophically or seem a bit maudlin. My intention is not to bore you or seem overly dramatic about my recent losses, but rather it is to help me work through a most difficult time while simultaneously revealing a bit more about myself to you terrific folks. Please indulge me for a while.

As most of you have probably already figured out, I am a 40-something person that is a product of Irish parents. I live in the smallest town in Massachusetts which just happens to be located on an island (more accurately known as a “tombolo”) just about ten miles northeast of Boston with a wonderful view of the Beantown skyline. I am one of only two children (I have the best older sister in the world), married (to my very best friend) with no children and one great two year old dog (my second best friend). I attended public elementary schools and junior high school, a Catholic parochial high school, a Small Ivy college and a Boston law school. Since childhood I have played and have a passion for hockey (“ice hockey” to you warm climate dwellers). I am a fan of the Boston Bruins (NHL), the Boston Red Sox (MLB) and the Boston Celtics (NBA). Neverthelss, my favorite franchise of all has always been the Green Bay Packers (NFL). I am a lifelong liberal Democrat. If this were a dating site, this is the point where I would say something like “I enjoy long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners”.

The most important influences in my life were my loving parents, my great aunt Gertrude, Bobby Orr and Jack Kennedy in that order. The most important people in my life are my spouse, my sister and her husband, my one nephew and his wife and my grandnephew. In my opinion, a better family could not be had. I will remind them of that every day for the rest of my life. I would advise all of you to do the same with your loved ones because we can never predict when we will lose them.

My mom and dad met as schoolchildren in the 1930’s and were inseparable thereafter. They were childhood sweethearts. They were married in 1949 and for the next 61 years they spent less than a handful of nights apart. My mom became ill about 6 years ago and her condition deteriorated quickly to the point where at first she was housebound and then bed-ridden. My dad promised her that he would do everything possible to prevent her from hospitalization or nursing home care as she loved her home. He kept his promise. With the help of visiting nurses, health aides and family, my father spent every single one of those days with his wife. He single-handedly got my mother out of bed every morning, fed her breakfast, washed her, dressed her, took her to the bathroom and cleaned her before putting her to bed at night. As ill as my mother was, my father was the picture of health. He often told my sister and I that he only wished he could gift some of his health to my mom.

In February of this year my mom passed away in her sleep at home. All of my family experienced the pain of sorrow but none so much as my dad. Outwardly he was the strong man that everyone knew but he now suffered from a malady that had nothing to do with the human body. He made all the right gestures such as continuing to work and since he was no longer called upon to be my mom’s constant care-giving companion, he even began to socialize outside the home with family and friends much more frequently. We moved in with him to keep him company and the last five months allowed me to rekindle the love and comaraderie that I had shared with my best pal during all those years I lived with him as a child. We were true buddies.

At about six or seven o’clock each evening he would sit down to watch The Golden Girls reruns on tv. I do not recall him ever watching that show when it was originally aired but he told me that my mom loved to watch it, so now he would do the same. It grew on him and me too. It became a ritual for the two of us and I must admit it was a great show. It seemed that every couple of nights he would ask me, “How many times was that Rue McClanahan married?” I never had the answer for him until early this month. I remember saying, Hey dad, Rue McClanahan was married six times.” He said, “How do you know?” and I answered that she had died that morning and I read the obituary. (side note: Bostonians refer to the obituaries as “The Irish Sports Page”).

My dad and my two dogs also became fast friends during the last five months. At first I thought they annoyed him with their exuberant greetings after work and a steady supply of barking at everything. After not too long however, I spied him petting their behinds while watching tv and feeding them those prohibited table scraps. My sister, who worked with my dad every day in the family business, even told me that he would often say to customers, “You’ll never guess what my dog did today!” This too however was short lived as my eldest dog, a Dalmatian named McKenzie, passed away at the ripe old dog age of fifteen in April. We were all crushed at another loss. I did what I could to save that pooch, even going so far as to have her euthanized on Good Friday in the hope that there would be a miracle and she would rise again three days later on Easter Sunday. Alas, such was not the case.

My dad, my spouse and my other dog, Marley the two year old Weimaraner carried on. My dad, who loved and anticipated the warm summer sun had all the yard furniture arranged out on the upper patio by late March (remember, this is Boston and it still tends to snow sometimes in March). He simply could not wait to get out there and sun bathe. The Irish octogenarian boasted a tan that my spouse and I felt would be a sure ticket to skin cancer on a younger person. My dad however, was a unique man. He was never sick and was only hospitalized once in his life back in the seventies for knee surgery. Recently we believed that he suffered from at least one torn rotator cuff and possible knee ligament damage from all the wear and tear of carrying my mother for so long. We were wrong. It only proved to be a mild case of arthritis. He was a virtual Superman.

Well, Fathers’ Day rolled along a few weeks ago and we had a special day. Not only was my entire extended family at the old homestead for a cook out, but my spouse’s parents, siblings and children were also all in attendance. It was a glorious day. My father was at his best being the proud host. He joked, hugged, kissed and cajoled everyone. He was truly holding court. One of my brothers-in-law commented that he looked like a movie star with his tanned upper torso, sunglasses and full long wavy mane of pure white hair. The day lasted well into the evening before the last guest left. I remember my father (always one with a joke) telling one to the last guest as he departed.

After all the guests had left, my dad sat with us and the dog on the couch and thanked us for a wonderful day. He said he was tired and going to bed. He told us he loved us. He kissed us, petted Marley, went to his room and left us to be with my mother forevermore. Until I meet him again, I will miss him every day that I live.

I love you dad.

Anyone interested in that last joke?

Well, there was this old timer (let’s call him Jack) that went to his doctor for the annual check up. The doctor said, “Well Jack, everything looks pretty good. You’re a fit and healthy 80 year old. What do you have to say for yourself?” Jack responded by inquiring if the doctor could test his sperm count. The doctor exclaimed that he was puzzled as to why an 80 year old would care about his sperm count but Jack told him that he was just curious and if it were in good standing, he would feel even better about himself. The doctor acquiesced, handed Jack a specimen bottle and instructed him to return in the morning with the specimen.

The next morning Jack returned to the doctor’s office. The doctor asked if he had the sperm specimen. A dejected Jack said, “No”. Jack explained that when he left the office the day before, he went straight to his room to provide the specimen. He said, “I sat on my bed and tried for half an hour with my right hand, but nothing. I then tried for half an hour with my left hand, but nothing. Next I tried with both hands for about twenty minutes before I was exhausted and fell asleep without success.”

Jack explained, “When I awoke the next morning I tried again first with my right hand then my left hand and then with both hands and still no results. My wife, God bless her, saw my frustration and said she would help. She tried with her right hand, but nothing. She tried with her left hand, but nothing. She tried with both hands, but nothing. Finally, she even removed her dentures, put it in her mouth and tried for ten minutes, but she still could not get the cap off of that damn specimen bottle!”

Who knows, maybe there is a book to be written about my lovable quirky family!