Saturday, February 11, 2012

Salute to Doppler, Sweetest Golden Retriever Ever

Yesterday, we said goodbye to one of the sweetest Golden Retrievers that ever lived.
There are many sweet ones out there,
but Doppler was the sweetest.

Supremely comfortable with his doggie self, he was always up for anything that meant family contact...

Like a ride on the "Hughes Burger" boat in the brisk November air...

Or serving as a photo prop for Miss Caroline.

His ALMOST favorite thing was a good snooze on anything soft.  His First Favorite thing being, of course, Dinner Time.  In the photo above, he is looking right at me because I'm taking his picture, and it is Past Six O'Clock and I am taking his picture Instead of Making His Dinner.

Another Biggie was his Morning Treat, kept in the pantry for the times he had a Sleep Over with us.

How can we imagine getting up in the morning without Doppler barreling down the hall toward the pantry, tongue flopping out the side of his mouth, eyes sparkling, while we tried to untangle ourselves from his mad dash to the kitchen?  There are permanent marks in my kitchen floor where he did his "Treat Dance" every morning in front of the got so bad that I started quietly getting the treats out the night before so I could get to them faster.  One Hundred Pounds of delirious Dog, jumping six inches off the floor repeatedly is not what I wanted before my first sip of coffee, but now I would give a lot for just one more Treat Dance.

He was the undisputed Mayor of Ocean Isle Fishing Center...greeting everyone at the docks, or lying at the top of the steps to garner loves and hugs from everyone who arrived.

He learned quickly that a white box emerging from the Giggling Mackeral Restaurant meant juicy leftovers - someone told him what "Doggy Bag" really meant - and could usually manage to wheedle a french fry or better from the departing customer.  Which led to his Dad attaching a sign to his collar that said in Block Letters: Do Not Feed Me!  Undeterred, he continued to sneak up the steps to the top deck and visit from table to table, hooking customers in with those soft eyes and the promise of a hug for Just One Bite.  

He helped Rickey Beck celebrate his birthday at OIFC in August:

This Fall, he began to fade and look all of his Twelve Years, but still had his sweet face on for Amy, who captured him lying in the flower bed at the Fishing Center:

Knowing what was coming, Brant and Amy had ordered up a new puppy, whom Doppler met without ever acknowledging:

Puppy Fin arrived just in time for Christmas, which Doppler had always enjoyed in earlier years with personal visits from Santa...

He spent this Christmas showing Fin the ropes because yes, they had finally made friends.

And then he quickly went down, quietly passing away yesterday morning from old age and cancer while resting on his bed.

We salute you, Doppler.  And we thank you.  Thanks for the hugs, the unconditional love, the warmth at our feet, and your everlasting good company.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Up Helly Aa Goes On The Bucket List

My love affair with Scotland continues, and I must say that although the warm temperatures in Atlanta are delightful, I would rather have been freezing in Lerwick Town,  Shetland Islands, for their annual Up Helly Aa celebration on Tuesday.  What a party!

This annual celebration originated in the late 1800's, and marks the end of the Yule season. 

The Shetland Islands have a strong connection to the Vikings - who ruled the Islands for about 500 years - so the participants honor that heritage by designing and making Viking costumes and building  a replica of a Viking Ship, which is hauled through the streets of Lerwick by Guizers and Jarl Squads.
Photo courtesy Carl de Souza, AFP, Getty Images.

The party starts at the crack of dawn on the last Tuesday of January every year, and the highlight of the festival is the ritual burning of the Viking Galley ship in the early evening.  Hundreds of torch-carrying Guizers and their leader, the Guizer Jarl,  throw their lit torches onto the ship to get the fire started...  

This year's Guizer Jarl, David Nicolson, was impressive in his hand-made costume that was two years in the planning and making.  For the Festival, he took the Viking name "Bothvar Egilsson", because he says he has within him the "spirit of a true berserker".  

In case you didn't know, a berserker is defined by The Free Dictionary as "one of a band of ancient Norse warriors legendary for their savagery and reckless frenzy in battle".  Plainly stated:  Do Not Make This Man Mad.

Above photos, unless otherwise noted, courtesy of  You can see more photos of this year's event by clicking on the link.

Photo courtesy Neil Ratley, in his very good article on Up Helly Aa in The Midge.  After reading this article, you can appreciate the dedication the Shetlanders have to the event...and you have to admire their partying stamina!

At any rate, after burning of the ship, the partying begins, everywhere, and continues all night.  And on Wednesday, Lerwick, Shetland is Closed.  For recovery. 

Is that a party, or what??  Definite Bucket List material.


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