Dear Grandmaw B.,

Mama L. was telling me what a great time she had in Cleveland with you and Grandpaw B. and JR. She told me about the house and the big big yard that you have in the back. We could have run around in that big back yard, playing chase and fetch and all sort of good stuff. This is what I look like after a vigorous game of Laser-Light:  happy!!! She told me about all the wild animals that we could have played with, like the ground hog over at JR’s. This is what I look like after a vigorous game of chase-the-ground-hog: happy!!!  Although honestly, I’ve never seen one before. But I could have chased it and look happy like this. Mama L. said they were round and cute, but she also said you gave JR a big bottle of ammonia to chase it away. Why would you chase something cute and round away, Grandmaw? I’m cute and round. You wouldn’t chase me away, would you?

Anyway, Mama L. showed me a picture she took of you all at the House of Blues. She said you all had a great time, and she wished it would have been a little longer. I just wish I was there too!

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Traveling during a Mercury Retrograde

I was completely prepared for this Retrograde, as it was supposed to last a little longer than usual, and a little more, um, severe than usual because of all the other planetary line-ups.

If you believe in all that astrology, I mean.

So…the Tuesday before we left for Cleveland, I was running around like crazy at work. We had a huge submittal due to Caltrans that I had been preparing for weeks in advance. Tuesday came along, and nobody would sign the drawings. Are you kidding me!  To make matters worse, it was already 4:00 p.m. and I was still at work! I was supposed to take Annabelle and Beatrice to the vet by then. Luckily, two things happened: Jeff gave me a ride home instead of the customary half hour walk/BART/walk, and Michelle came home from work early. She scooped the girls up and put them in their crates. The crates were by the door waiting for me as Jeff dropped me off. I rushed in, grabbed the cats, threw them in the car and headed off to Montclair Vet to board the girls.

Beatrice howled the entire way there. People were looking at me. That’s ok, I have dark glasses on.

Then I rushed home, because it took an exceptionally long time to check the cats in — it was also a bad day at the Vet…lots of minor injuries and accidents, and the place was full. I packed up the remaining stuff as much as I could, all the while trying to comfort the dogs as they were wondering what was up. It was getting close to 7:00 p.m. when we got the call from Montclair:  where’s Annabelle’s insulin?  Just great. Michelle’s idea was to finish packing, scoop up the dogs, run the insulin over to the vet, and head into the City to drop off the dogs, and then on to the airport.

Dropping off the insulin for Annabelle only took 15 minutes or so out of our way. But neither one of us has been to the Wag Hotel before — Michelle entered the address into her car navigation system, and then “Suszie” took us on the most circuitous drive to get there. And for whatever reason, it was somehow MY fault that I didn’t adequately prepare for figuring out how to get there.

We got there just fine, and the dogs seem happy at the Wag Hotel — but I’ll save that for another story. Meanwhile, Michelle asked me (four times) if I had our boarding passes. She never once asked me if I had my cell phone. Or if I had a jacket.

It was 36 degrees and raining when we arrived at 6:00 a.m. Wednesday morning. I was dressed for 70-degree weather. I had flip-flops on. My shoes, boots, were packed in the checked luggage. However, we managed to land safely, and despite the lack of sleep, I was in pretty good spirits.

That is, until Michelle said “that red one right there” when I was pulling our luggage off the conveyor belt at Baggage Claims. We raced out to hop on to the shuttle for the car rental place. Ten minutes or so into our ride, I looked down and said “Goompea, is that really your bag?” So…Michelle decided to stay in the car rental place where it was nice and warm and that I should go back to the terminal with the wrong bag. She will then come to pick me up after I have retrieved the right bag. She also gave me her work cell phone so I could call her in case something goes wrong. I had gotten no sleep on the plane, so the idea sounded, um, ok, I guess.

When I finally got the right bag, I called Michelle to see if she was on her way. Nope. Apparently the car rental place does not open until 7:00 a.m. I made my way back out to the shuttle stop, still in my flip-flops, when it started to rain — very very cold rain.

Unbeknown to us at the time was that the airline had called Michelle parents’ house because they were listed as the emergency contact. Imagine her mom’s face as she saw “Continental Airlines” on the caller ID at that time in the morning. (I still couldn’t figure out why they would call the emergency contact about lost luggage. Why couldn’t they call Michelle?) After the initial shock, it was a very good thing that Mom B. had received the phone call. This was all supposed to be a huge surprise for Michelle’s dad because his birthday was coming up. Mom and JR (Michelle’s brother) had been keeping this under wraps for weeks now. That little phone call could have ruined everything.

Later, I found out there were several other close calls too, but Pops never suspected anything. It was so great to be able to surprise him like that!  The look on his face when we popped out more than made up for all the travel mishaps we’ve had on the trip. And I guess I don’t really miss my cell phone that much. Plus, I look great in Michelle’s pink puff-daddy coat.

Now that we’ve settled in and I’ve gotten some sleep finally, AND the surprise is over (just in case Pops B. reads the blog), we can tell all.  I’m beginning to enjoy our little vacation in Cleveland, despite it being my two favorite colors at this time of the year: gray and brown. More later.