Surfer puppy

by Lorin Michel Thursday, July 12, 2018 4:49 PM

When Maguire was a puppy, he was mostly dark brown, almost black, with white paws. Within a month after he first came to live with us, his coloring started to change and the dark brown became a bit lighter. Over the course of several years, the color of his fur continued to change, becoming lighter, blonder, with dark brown streaks and stripes. He became brindled. During this phase, people asked us even more often what kind of dog he was, and we answered as we always answered: no idea. To the best of our sleuthing and according to our vet, he probably was some mix of Australian shepherd, golden retriever, border collie, German shepherd, akita, Chesapeake Bay retriever. You get the idea. A certified mutt. And the best damned dog on the planet.

He was “the one.” We’ve loved our other dogs completely. We are head over heels over Riley and can’t imagine life without him. But Maguire remains the gold standard of Michel dogs. 

During his brindle phase, when he was young and energetic, when he would prance around the house, and on our walks around the neighborhood, we developed a new way to describe him. Previously he had always been “puppy feet;” he was a hunka hunka puppy luuuvvvv; he was my Honey Bear. We lived in Southern California at the time, so this new name fit perfectly. We just knew, given his coloring and his personality, that he would be perfect on the beach, chasing waves, waiting for the boards to roll in. He never went to the beach, but he became Surfer Puppy.

Today, as part of our sort of training regimen for Riley, we loaded him into the back of the Sport and drove to the park for a walk. Kevin’s knee has been bothering him so he didn’t want to tackle the hills that surround our home. Walking a flat couple of miles rather than a constant incline and decline of road seemed a better idea. Plus, Riley. 

Our boy has some anxiety issues. He’s afraid of, well, just about everything. The good news is that he’s not aggressive. We just need to build his confidence, that according to a trainer we saw on Monday morning. She worked wonders with a friend of mine’s dog, Charlie, who had anxiety issues and was aggressive. This trainer specializes in in-home training meaning you have to give her your dog for several weeks so that she can work her magic and return a dog who is better. Charlie spent a total of nearly 5 weeks with her but he’s a changed dog. He’s great. My friend wants us to be able to bring Riley to their house, have the dogs get along, maybe go swimming. But Riley is afraid. 

Monday morning my friend invited Riley and I to see her trainer who had generously offered to meet Riley and give us some pointers. The dogs got along great, so much so that we were all supposed to meet this morning to get the dogs in the pool. The trainer wanted to be there because Riley hasn’t ever been swimming, and she wanted to teach him how to get in. Unfortunately, my friend needed to cancel. But we still wanted to take the opportunity to take him out to be in a new place, with new smells, maybe see other dogs (though not necessarily to interact with them).

The seats were still down in the back of the Sport. Kevin bought a big moving blanket a couple of weeks ago that we can spread across the back of the car in order to mitigate some of the fur that collects on the carpet. Fur that is nearly impossible to get out. Riley jumped up and in, and proceeded to stand no matter how many times we implored him to lay down. He’d get down and then he’d get up and then we’d say “down” and he would curl up and then he would stand up. 

Finally, we gave up. No it’s not safe. I know that. We know that. But as I was driving, he was standing in the back weaving, adjusting his balance, changing the position of his feet. Surfing. 

Riley Michel. The new iteration of surfer puppy.

Golden Retriever surfing, by Carolyn Gray

From the what the hell is wrong with us file

by Lorin Michel Saturday, August 6, 2016 8:02 PM

Kevin and I are strange people. Those who know us best would concur and are probably nodding their heads in agreement. The ways in which we're strange are numerous but for the purpose of this post, I'm going to stick with one.

We detail our own cars.

We spent the better part of five hours working on the Range Rover Sport today. This after spending the better part of last Saturday working on the Porsche and the new old truck, the Range Rover Classic. Those two vehicles looked great after we were done. The Classic was in desperate need of some love. The paint is pretty good and the guy Kevin bought it from had clay-barred it about three months ago. It still feels silky. But there were water spots along the passenger side and the interior was a disaster.

The Porsche is going to be sold. That makes me very sad but it's just not logical to keep it. We don't drive it very much. Kevin needed a truck and I have the current love of my automotive life: the Sport.

Once upon a time, I was a sports car person. Hence the Porsche, my second one. But as I've gotten older I find that I really like an SUV. It's not practical, though neither is the Porsche. But I like sitting up high rather than down on the road; I like the ride. And since we don't drive that much, I don't even mind the gas mileage.

After last week, when the two other cars got so much attention, I heard the Sport muttering under its breath the other day, a hiss coming out of the front grill. It sounded something like "what am I, the red-haired stepchild?"

Now first of all, that's an insult to red heads and step children everywhere, never mind that the Sport is actually red. Very red.

And second of all, I assured it, we had a whole day of spa treatments lined up for today.

Ordinary people would take the car to a detail shop in much the same way that ordinary people hire cleaning people to clean their 3700 square feet of house.

Did I mention that we're strange?

The fact is, I did look at taking the car to a detail shop. But I didn't know anything about any of them, other than Yelp and Google reviews. And the Sport, as previously stated, is my big red baby. I didn't want to take any chances handing it over to a stranger. That was all the incentive my husband needed. Off to the auto parts store he went. He came home with clay bars and liquid wax, both from Meguiars,  and a packet of microfiber towels.

This morning, I washed the wheels, then we washed the car. Easy enough. I put it back into the garage and we got to work. Kevin working the clay bar over the entirety of the paint, no easy task because the thing is a monster. I followed behind, applying wax, allowing it to dry, and then buffing it out.

We then applied armor-all to the tires, and the rubber trim. We detailed the interior, wiping down the leather, the doors, the dash. Kevin vacuumed; I did the windows. Five or so hours later, we were done. And exhausted.

Ordinary people don't do this. Ordinary people hire other people. Ordinary people spend their Saturday's going to the movies or out to lunch, maybe happy hour.

The truly strange thing is that we actually enjoy doing things like detailing the car(s) for the same reason we clean the house ourselves. We're very meticulous about how things are done and know that if we do them ourselves, we'll be happier with the result.

And I for one am thrilled with how my Sport looks.

Next weekend, maybe we'll finally getting around to doing something fun. Like painting.

The only difference between men and boys

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, May 31, 2016 10:13 PM

There is a saying that some say originated with Benjamin Franklin because it appeared in the Poor Richard Almanack, as a derivative of “Old boys have their playthings as well as young ones; the difference is only in the price.” The saying everyone knows actually has no known author and it’s a nice little ditty that goes like this: The only difference between men and boys is the size and the price of their toys.

I would like to amend that to say that the only difference between men and boys and their wives are the toys needed to make them both thrive(s). 

OK. It’s not as good and not as rhym-y, but you get the idea. 

Kevin and I love toys. We have a fun Porsche, a toy that is totally unpractical and fast as hell. We have a motorcycle, our fourth, and it’s big and bad and takes us to all kinds of fun places. We have great bicycles. We have a terrific sound system in the house. We have a Range Rover. When Tammy was here several weeks ago, she and Kevin went up to Mount Lemmon on the motorcycle with me following in the Porsche. We had breakfast and then we came back down the mountain in the same way. When we got to the house, and she stood shaking her hair out of the helmet, she had the biggest smile on her face. 

“You guys have the greatest toys,” she said.

We do. And we’ve talked about getting more. We’re not necessarily talking seriously about getting more, but we’ve talked about it. Or them. I’ve written here about my obsession with Airstream. Now there’s a toy. And the new Nest travel trailer that Airstream just purchased that is my newest obsession. Luckily those aren’t even available for at least another year so I don’t really have to think about that until then. 

But today, we started talking about acquiring another new toy that’s not so much a toy as something really almost practical. Kevin needs a vehicle that he can haul a bunch of stuff around in, go to Lowes or Home Depot to get wood and mortar and whatever else he happens to need for a weekend of working in the yard. Now with his vineyard, that he is threatening to grow, he’s going to need a truck. Or the equivalent of a truck. Yes, we have a Range Rover but it’s a really nice vehicle and we paid a lot of money for it. It’s not meant for trashing and hauling. 

So we started looking at what we might want to get and have zeroed in on a couple of different maybes. One is going back to an old Toyota Land Cruiser. Once upon a time we had an FJ60 from 1990 before they changed to the big body style. We loved it but the ride was very rough. So we sold it and got our first Land Rover. Now we’re looking at something from the 1970s, like a FJ55 or maybe even an FJ45, a two door type of Jeep. 

We’re also thinking about another Land Rover, maybe a Range Rover Classic also from the 1970s and also a two door. Again, something that he can haul stuff around in and not have to worry about damaging. We’d have his and hers. 

Which brings me back to my original premise. The only difference between men and their wives are the toys they need to make them both thrive(s). 

I know. It’s a stretch. But it’s my blog and I’ll bad-rhyme if I want to, celebrating the whole time.

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I love my Land Rover but this is ridiculous

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, February 23, 2016 7:18 PM

When Kevin and I first got together, he drove an old, gray Mitsubishi pickup truck. Within a couple of months, he had found a used BMW 735i. A beautiful car, but he longed for an old Toyota Land Cruiser. He found one and we bought it. It was a very cool truck but the ride was horrible. He eventually sold it and bought our first Land Rover, a Discovery Series II. It was a great car. Then we upgraded to another Land Rover, this time a Range Rover. It was a deep red metallic, with tan leather interior and an amazing sound system. I remember telling my mother we were going to get it.

“Why do you need a Range Rover?” she asked. 

I remember smiling and replying, quite truthfully, that I didn’t need a Range Rover. No one needs a Range Rover, but I wanted one and I could afford it and so we got it. It was an amazing car. It got terrible gas mileage but the ride was incredible and the bells and whistles were unsurpassed. Like all Range Rovers it had the ability to raise high to go through water, or get so low to the ground it was like a sports car. It all happened at the touch of a button and at the whim of the electronics. I never regretted getting the car, not even when a design flaw from many years earlier regarding an aluminum sleeve caused the engine to slip. We had a choice. We could have it rebuilt or we could simply get rid of it. By then, there were also issues with the brain, the main computer that controls all of the electronics. It was developing Alzheimer’s. We could have had that replaced as well but to do all that work to a car that was 12 years old seemed frivolous. 

Sadly, we said goodbye and bought another one. Deep red metallic paint, black leather interior, bitching sound system. I didn’t need it anymore than I needed the other two. Oh, but I love my Range Rovers. As long as I can afford them, I plan to continue driving them. They’re big, the gas mileage isn’t great – though interestingly it is better because Land Rover is now able to make the trucks lighter – and they’re not terribly practical. But I love cars. And with the exception of the house, which is a very big exception, we don’t do many other things for ourselves. We don’t travel, we don’t have terribly expensive hobbies. So we have a nice car to tool around in. A truck, they call it when it’s in the shop. 

Land Rover Range Rover has often been described as a limousine that can climb a tree. They’re impossibly comfortable, completely decadent inside. But they are designed to walk down a mountain. They can go through water. They can climb out of a hole. They’re the original off-road vehicle and while the most off-roading I do is the occasional dirt road to a winery, it’s still nice to know that it could do all of those things should the apocalypse arrive and we need to make a get-away.

Today, it was announced that Land Rover is introducing a limited edition Range Rover, the 2016 Holland & Holland, so named because of the legendary British shotgun-maker. Pull, and all that. Evidently Holland & Holland embodies luxury when it comes to shotguns, so it’s being touted as a natural fit. Land Rover, known for vehicles with serious if not seriously used off-road capability, and Holland & Holland, known for upscale hunting gear and firearms. A match made in Britain. 

This limited edition, of which the US will get 30, will feature a locking, leather-trimmed gun case that holds two shotguns. The case attaches to the floor in the back but slides onto the tailgate for easier access. Inside is French walnut wood detailing and rear seats that recline. The seats also have tray tables. The exquisite and custom leather wraps all the way to the floor, lining the floor mats. There are etched door handles. No word on the sound system but I suspect it’s amazingly bitchin’. It ought to be.

Price: $245,000.

Now I love my Range Rover, truly. I’ve loved all three of them. But that’s ridiculous.

Also, ridiculously gorgeous. I celebrate the people who will buy one and think absolutely nothing of it. It’s what it means to live it out loud decadently. 

Help me. I think I want an Airstream.

by Lorin Michel Monday, August 10, 2015 8:03 PM

In the early part of the 20th century, before the stock market crash of 1929, a man named Wallace Merle Byam, Wally to his friends, lived in a two-wheeled shepherd’s cart outfitted with a kerosene cook stove, a sleeping bag and wash pail. He liked his cart so much, he was inspired to draw up designs and plans so that others could build what he called a travel trailer. His first attempt, which he tried himself, needed some modifications. He made those modifications and then proceeded to tell everyone how they could build one themselves for under $100. He sold sets of plans for $5.

By 1929, he was building a tent contraption on a Ford Model T chassis but it wasn’t very good in the rain. Using masonite, he reconfigured his design, creating a teardrop shape. He added a stove and an ice chest, and he hooked it up to another Model T and started traveling the country. Other drivers on the road noticed. It moved through the air like a stream of light, was easy – and lightweight – to tow, and provided what Wally called “first-class” accommodations anywhere he went. When a camper company called Bowlus went bankrupt, Wally bought it, and in 1936, he introduced his first product, the Clipper, a reference to the Pan Am Clipper airplane. It was all-aluminum and monosoque-constructed, 19 feet long, single-axle, with two beds, an icebox, a two-burner range, windows that opened, a pot-bellied stove and venting chimney to heat, a closet, storage drawers, a small writing desk and a fold-down table.

The Airstream had arrived. It is my new obsession and yes, I probably should go into therapy.

I am not a camper. I have no desire to pitch a tent in the woods, attempt to build a campfire to roast marshmallows, and then pee in those same woods. I have no desire to stay anywhere that I can’t have a hot shower whenever I want one, or have a television if I want to watch a show, internet if I want to cruise. But for some reason, the idea of getting an old Airstream, restoring it ourselves to be exactly how we want it, has suddenly taken hold of my imagination. In much the same way I never know where story ideas come from, I have no idea where this manifested.  I just know that it’s there and I have to deal with it.

Another confession: When I am Cait debuted a week or so ago on E! I was briefly fascinated. I had an uncontrollable urge to watch it and I have never watched a reality show before in my life. Luckily the feeling passed before I acted upon it. Maybe the same will happen with the Airstream, but I doubt it.

Years ago, Kevin and I briefly entertained renting a tricked out RV and going on vacation. We didn’t do it. A client turned friend of mine took an old RV and renovated it. It has hardwood floors, a tiled shower, leather couches. His is an RV though. I don’t want an RV. I want a trailer. I think they’re called Travel Trailers now. I want a small one, called a Sport to pull behind my Range Rover Sport. I want to find one on ebay or Craig’s List, one that is rotted inside, but still solid enough on the outside to save the aluminum panels. I want to put it in the garage and together with my husband, rip it apart from the inside out. I want to tear off the horrible paneling inside, and pull out the insulation. I want to rip up the floorboards and tear out all of cabinets and appliances and the bathroom. I want to replace everything, from the inside out, including the windows and the door, then polish the aluminum so that it glints in the sun. I want to do all of this and then put a hitch on the Range Rover, pull it out of the garage and go on a trip, maybe to the Pacific Northwest. Maybe wine tasting in Washington.

The Airstream Sport I want is 16’ 4” long, 7’ 3.25” wide and 9’ 3” high (with the AC unit). It is not big at all. But we could make it big enough for the two of us and Riley. We could travel all over and take our little 4-star room along with us.

Now I just need to convince my husband. And find a beat up Airstream for not very much money. And retire so that we have time to travel all over. And then live it out loud in a very Sport-y fashion.

New tires and other Thursday adventures

by Lorin Michel Thursday, June 4, 2015 8:14 PM

About a year or so ago, I started talking about the fact that we needed to get new tires on the Range Rover. This is traditionally a Kevin project, a proverbial boy thing. I could do it; I usually just don't want to.

Several years ago, when we had our first Rover, affectionately referred to as R1, I noticed an odd bubble in the middle of one of the back tires. I mentioned it to the husband unit, who looked at it and decided that we should probably get it replaced. For months I asked when this was going to happen. I figured a bubble on a tire of a nearly 6000 pound vehicle that traveled at freeway speeds upwards of 70 miles per hour was probably not a good or safe thing. Turns out I was right. Coming back from a meeting one morning, flying across the Ventura freeway, I felt a strange wobble then heard a loud bang as the tire blew.

Seething at both Kevin for not taking care of it and myself for not just doing it, I called for a flatbed and waited on the side of the road, traffic whizzing by me at speeds that made the car vibrate.

The tires on R2 were simply getting worn. We bought the car with 15,500 miles on it. The tires were the original equipment. The car now has 33,995 miles on it. Like R1, it is heavy. And often goes very fast.

Just after the first of the year, I wrote a big note that I affixed to the kitchen counter near the coffee pot where I knew it would be seen on a daily basis. Its message was short, its intent clear. “Tires. Dammit.”

This past weekend I had had enough. I came home from the grocery store and said: we have to get tires and I want to get them right now.

Fine, he said. Be that way.

Then he pulled out his laptop and settled himself at the kitchen countertop bar to do some research. Because we don't do anything without extensive research.

Several hours and many phone calls later we had ordered tires online to be delivered at a nearby Goodyear location for installation. They called Tuesday. When would you like to schedule your tires?

At 7:30 this morning I turned over the keys to a nice young man named Ted dressed in a dark blue uniform and sat in the waiting room as four new Sumitomo 255/50/R19 107 tires rated for high speed were mounted and balanced. It took 45 minutes.

By 8:15 I was heading south and then west to Royal Collision Center, not because Ted the tire guy did anything to the car but because on Saturday, Kevin tried to put the Rover into the garage while the hatch was up. He scraped the paint off the back, down to the metal. The house didn't fare too well either.

Royal informed me they could probably remove the panel and paint it, then put it back. In the interim, I could still drive the car. It wouldn’t take long.

How much? Just $160.

When will it be done? Tomorrow morning. Perfect. Let’s do it.

As for fixing the house, that's a boy thing, a Kevin project and he's on it. I hope.

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