Saturday, February 12, 2005

Posh Pooch (and the "broiler incident")

Many months ago, the tradition of dining with your dog in the outside areas of Celebration's restaurants was curbed due to a health dept. complaint. But they say every dog has his day, and that is certainly the case this weekend, with the Posh Pooch event that has taken over the downtown areas (except the dining patios, of course).

This is actually an annual event, but this time around it was delayed a couple of times. Turns out that this was a perfect time of year to hold it. The February weather was quite comfortable, in contrast to the late spring/early summer heat that can make canines pant in their doggy fur coats and make both them and their owners hot, cranky, and miserable.

At the moment, I only own cats, although I have designs on a micro-dog (think Chihuahua size, although I'm not locked into a particular breed; small enough to travel on an airplane easily is the only requirement). But I am a dog lover, so it was lots of fun to see canines of virtually every shape, size, and color. I felt like someone had dropped me into Dr. Seuss's "Go, Dog, Go." Big bogs....little dogs...dogs wearing hats. Okay, so maybe none of them were driving cars, but plenty were riding the NEV train.

I had volunteered to work a couple of hours at the photo booth, so I arrived shortly before noon. It was a brisk, sunny day, so I decided to stroll from East Village rather than drive. At most, it's a 20 minute walk on the bike path, and you pass by two lakes so you can't beat the scenery. I left my husband snoozing at home; he had spent Monday through Friday in Chicago, and his return flight was delayed. I picked him up at the airport Friday night, and it was almost midnight by the time we got home. Then he revealed that he'd brought a Caron's Ribs dinner as a surprise. "Why didn't you tell me so I wouldn't eat something else for dinner?" I asked. He replied, "Because then it wouldn't have been a surprise." No disputing that logic!

Common sense told me to save the meal until the next day, but as soon as I got a whiff of those ribs, my stomach ruled. Thus, when saner people were snug in their beds, he and I were trying to figure out how to use the broiler on our oven.

Actually, the "broiler incident" could be a blog entry by itself. It was like something out of a sitcom. We don't use the stove a lot; that's why God invented microwaves. Our stove is a fancy glass-topped affair that came as a free upgrade to our house, and it has more buttons and switches and whatnot than a NASA control panel. We've used the oven maybe twice, and we've never bothered with the broiler. But it's against the law (at least in Chicago) to insult Carson's Ribs by placing them in a microwave. They are meant to be coated with sauce and broiled until they sizzle.

I realized that we didn't have any oven-safe trays or pans. No problem...I just rigged up some foil. Then I heated up the oven, opened the drawer at the bottom, and popped the ribs in. A few minutes later, I peeked in to check their progress. Strange...they were still as cold as they'd been when I removed the ice packs from the take-out box.

"Are you sure the broiler is in the bottom?" my husband asked? I was born and bred in houses with gas ovens, so I replied with an indignant, "Of course! Where else would it be?" He shook his head skeptically and said, "I don't know. I think that's just a storage drawer."

I played around with the buttons some more to make sure that the broiler was on. I opened the oven door to see if things were heating up inside and was met with a blast of heat like I'd opened the door to Hades. I half expected Cerberus to jump out and bite me. "See!" my husband said adamently. "The broiler is in there!" After recovering from my brief bout with heat stroke, I peeked in, and sure enough, there was a red hot element. Duh! Gas stove, bottom. Electric stove, top. A new life lesson for me.

We managed to get the ribs cooked without any further ugliness and ate our delicious midnight meal. But that late night feast, combined with a week of waking up before 6 a.m. for the commute to downtown Chicago and a nasty cold, had exhausted hubby's reserves. He needed a good, long sleep to recharge them.

Thus it was that I headed to the event by myself. The walk was very pleasant, with lots of people out and about on foot and bicycles. Soon enough I arrived and checked in. I was slated to operate the printer, as I had no desire to even attempt taking photos. Point and click is about my speed; I'd rather leave artistic stuff to the professionals. Fortunately, a friend of mine who is also a professional photographer had been recruited to handle that end of things, so I didn't have to worry.

The event appeared to be well attended, and all of the dogs were remarkably well behaved. There were only one or two snarling/snapping incidents, which isn't much considering the volume of people and their pets. The booth wasn't too busy, although the printer kept things lively by giving a "general error" message after it spit out every couple of prints. I would prefer a "specific error" message, but it refused to give any further details. Turning it off and on again (the universal panacea) proved to be effective. It went through a couple of bouts of adding strange lines to the photos, too, but overall things went smoothly.

When my stint at the booth was done, I went for a little walk. I didn't see anything to buy since, as I mentioned, I only have cats. I was very amused by the "No Cat" signs on the lamp posts that featured a silhouette of a feline cross out by a Ghostbusters-style symbol. My cat, Stitch, is leash trained and is larger than many canines; I wonder if I could have passed him off as a strange-looking dog.

In addition to the booths, there were many special events, such as pet tricks, frisbee and police dog demomstrations, and the like. The dogs still had to keep off the restaurant patios, but there were plenty of dog-friendly tables and chairs set up out in the streets where man's best friend could dine with dignity.

Posh Pooch will run tomorrow (Sunday) too, so if you're a Florida local, pack up the pups and come on down! Hopefully the weather will be as picture-perfect as it was today.

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