(Another historic essay, this one being five years old. -- Ambar)
Here's how I spent MY April in CFA, in the company of GRP Ashmanor Valentino of Ambar (odd-eyed white Turkish Angora neuter). Look, all the silliness of a campaign April without actually having to do it yourself.... :-)
April 5: check over the show bag, add cat shampoo. Ponder the hotel facilities; add blow dryer. Fling clothes into another bag, half the size. Pack cat, in Sherpa, and computer. Fall down the front steps getting to the airport; thoroughly scrape right wrist.
Arrive in Portland OR. Wait for luggage. And wait. And wait. Inquire. Find luggage has been left in San Jose. Here I am at 9pm on a Friday night with a grubby white cat. Arrange for luggage to be delivered to show hall some 35 miles away in the AM. Find shuttle driver, who had nearly despaired of my arrival. Coax him into planning a raid on an all-night supermarket in Portland, looking for cat litter, a cat pan, suitable cat food (Valentino wound up with Sheba Duck, treat city), good old Pantene conditioner, a suitable shampoo!?! (Pantene to the rescue again), OH MY GOD I NEED A COMB FOR THE CAT, oh, and a toothbrush for moi. Arrive at the show hotel at 11:30 PM. Collapse.
April 6: Arise at an ungodly hour, bathe cat. Look, they have a blow dryer in the room! Salvation consists of such SMALL details. Swipe a king-size sheet from the room to use in improvising cage curtains. Plan to cover other sins (no small litter pan, no cat food bowls, etc) with a visit to the vendors. Cadge a ride to the show hall with Wendy Renner, one of many amazingly kind people met this weekend. No vendors?!?! Resist the urge to shriek. Improvise a litter pan out of a cardboard 12-pack of Pepsi, along with another woman who was also in need. Tell the cat he's supposed to be a slender breed anyway, he can skip breakfast once. Get glared at.
Luggage arrives at 10AM. Points to Alaska Airlines. Now we have cage curtains and food and bowls and a litterpan and REAL GROOMING IMPLEMENTS for the feline, oh, and a clean shirt for me (I felt much better).
Yakima Valley and Underground Gourmet (what a great club name!) put on a very fun, very relaxed show in a small circular hall surrounded by a wonderful lawn. I know I wasn't the only person sitting out in the sun in between rings! If you've never shown in this area you should go some time just for the food. Not only was there an actual (if small) barbecue being run by the caterers, the locals spread an amazing buffet BOTH days. I didn't catch all the names, but I understand Ms. Baker-Jones is responsible for that amazing seafood salad. Maybe it's good that I don't LIVE up there -- I'd gain weight. :-) Valentino makes 3 of 4 finals. Return to hotel; spend an hour figuring RPA over rings finalled, RPA over rings judged, minimum usable RPA, maximum possible RPA, probable number of points to gain.... Walk to nearest fast-food restaurant, eat icky food, consider re-washing the cat, leave the cat alone, go to bed.
April 7: Today the club scheduled an easter-egg hunt in the morning before the show started! Lots of fun (and chocolate) was had by all. Lie out on the grass some more; schmooze with other Maine Coon breeders. As each premiership final is announced, refigure running RPA in catalog margins. Hop up and down as final rosette is hung; he's gained 49 points! Figure dollars per point: $7.63. Hmm, not bad. Cadge ride to the airport; four exhibitors and four cats in a compact car! We fit. :-)
Fly home. Get off plane, suddenly feeling awful. Fail to cadge a ride from best friend (her cat is having kittens, legitimate excuse :-) and from housemate (not home). Grit teeth, drag self entire length of airport to pick up baggage, wait a half hour for the shuttle, feeling worse and worse. Make it home an hour later, which might have been a century. Take temperature; 103F. Go to bed.
April 8: Stay in bed. Get call offering most-desired new job, culmination of a 3-week interview process, we want you to start ASAP. "Wednesday?" I croak. Go back to bed. Through total brain failure, do not fax in any entries ANYWHERE for coming weekend.
April 9: Totter to computer long enough to balance checkbook. Realize I could indeed have afforded to fly somewhere this weekend, had I bothered to make up my mind and enter the cat. Curse fate. Go back to bed.
April 10: Total brain failure continues. Attempt to arise, shower, and go to work. Realize, when physically exhausted by the shower, that the new job would have to wait. Phone in sick. Go back to bed. Dazedly answer phone call offering first solo master clerking assignment this weekend; accept. Curse fate some more.
April 12: Attempt to start new job. All is confusion. :-)
April 13-14: Focus on first solo master clerking assignment to get over the fact that Valentino is home romping across the living-room drapes instead of being shown. This mostly works. (I only rant about my fate once or twice.)
April 15: Mail fat envelopes containing copious MacInTax output to various governmental agencies. Start new job for real. Explain to all and sundry that I'll be taking Friday and Monday off because I'm going to a cat show. (Might as well get them used to it right off. :-)
April 18: El cheapo fare ($138 RT from San Jose to St. Louis!?!, ticketed weirdly, on Continental but via America West planes) means I have to fly out Friday morning, returning Monday afternoon. Find show bag, restock supplies, remember to bring the POWER SUPPLY for the computer this time. Fling clean clothes into backpack.
April 19: Set off to the airport at an ungodly hour. Board plane. Start worrying about plane when seat arm cracks right off. Gratefully change planes in Phoenix. Nasty weather in St. Louis has plane zigging and zagging like an E-ticket ride. Good landing (we walk away). I heard they closed the airport down later...
Start figuring out how to get the whole 15 miles from airport to show hotel. No Super Shuttle in St. Louis?! Eventually transported by overly chatty ?limo (?no air conditioning?!) driver who zips us smack into the middle of Friday afternoon rush hour, nearly rear-ending a van. Ugh.
Arrive at show hotel (paying limo driver entirely too much for an amazingly unpleasant ride) 10 hours after I got up at 3AM. They won't take my check without a major credit card? (I don't use credit cards, another tale for another time.) Funny thing, the Best Western managed, just two weeks ago, to take my check and smile simultaneously. They won't budge. I /can't/ budge (although if my feet hadn't hurt so much, I might have just strolled out the door and up to the Holiday Inn a half-mile away). Ten minutes into a sharply pointed wrangle with the assistant manager, they let on that cash MIGHT be acceptable. I pay up. They ask for ID. I lose my temper. We compromise on viewing the check that they wouldn't take (go figure).
April 20: None of this has really sold me on Missouri so far, but I try to reserve judgement. Saturday morning, a cab estimated at 15 minutes showed up after 30, without a meter, and then charged me $10 for a five-minute ride to the show hall. Now I KNOW I'm pissed.
Okay show hall, totally icky lighting. Every white cat looks yellow, mine included. I have to peer at him in his benching cage (white curtains) to see what he really looks like. Nice people, incredible array of vendors. I am benched next to a new Maine Coon breeder who is showing her first breeding cat, a brown tabby female kitten, but tells me she really wants to specialize in reds. We have a good time.
Food is the legendary hot dawgs and pseudo nachos. I branch out with a polish sausage. Hmm. Well, all part of the show routine.
Incredible absentee rate, particularly in the shorthair premiers (10 present?!). Guess everyone went to Dallas or South Bend! Bad for them, good for us. Make first three finals, good news, but all the iffy judges are tomorrow! Meet Jennifer's new JBT kitten, Maisie, who is totally cute and has a great attitude.
Cadge a ride back from the show hall (halleluia and thanks to Carolyn Lyons), eat at Dennys, figure points for an hour, sleep.
April 21: Check out of evil undesirable nasty never-to-be-visited-again chain motel, figuring that spending Sunday night at a motel nearer the airport is the better part of valor. Bite nails, as today's judging lineup consists of one semi-reliable, one who failed to use him in their only previous encounter, and one total unknown. Cheer as he does indeed make every single final. Figure more points. Gained 39 points, at $13.51 per point. OW.
Depart for airport with two cats. Worry as ride-giver waxes voluble about America West's supposed no-animal policy. Arrive at the airport and make suitable inquiries. Oh HO. Cats are allowed in cabin on America West *flights*, but no animals underneath (as I had planned to take Maisie), since the planes aren't properly equipped.. Ponder problem, consume airport food, find a suitable motel. Watch Maisie and Valentino get acquainted, which mostly consists of Maisie screaming threats (in Japanese with a Hoosier accent) and Valentino looking blase'. Call up Jennifer, angst about the airline situation, brainstorm highly improbable solutions, sleep.
April 22: Decide on direct approach. At Continental/America West counter leave Valentino (in Sherpa) on the floor, greeting gate agent with "I have a small problem...." "A small problem?" "She's a small cat." Maisie (in hard carrier too large for under-seat use) lands on the counter. I don't mention Valentino, noting only that the carrier is too large to fit as carryon, by their own rules. After ten minutes of hard figuring by the gate agent and her supervisor, I suggest that perhaps they can get me on a Continental plane to San Francisco instead. Maisie can ride underneath as planned (and we can all get home this lifetime). Done! Points to Continental for being helpful. More points to Continental for having an uncrowded flight to Houston so I can catch a bit of a nap. Realize as I meet Erik in San Francisco that my wallet is MISSING. Tear back to the plane and root around. No go. File lost baggage reports while waiting for Maisie to show up. Maisie finally rolls out of the baggage door on top of an enormous flat of wire cages full of RABBITS. She must have been salivating all the way from Houston! I asked the rabbits' owner where SHE had been -- at the National Rabbit Show in Dallas! You mean there are other nutcases like us out there?
April 23: Call for the count in Hayward - 31. Well, um. But we're committed now.
April 27: Present and competing in Hayward: 23 AB. Ouch. Fortunately, ring clerking keeps me from obsessively figuring points after each final. This is good, because Valentino misses not one but two AB finals today. I settle for obsessively figuring points before leaving the show hall. Things are not looking good.
April 28: Today he makes every final, including a best specialty and a best allbreed. I cheer up a little. Despite the ring clerking, I refigure points after every ring. Don't know what the American is doing up north, don't know what the Burmese has been dropping, it's in the lap of the gods now. Go to dinner feeling good.
May 3: Continental calls from Houston. They found my wallet, intact.
May 7: The gods dump us on the floor with a resounding thud. Valentino is sixteenth in the region by all of seven (7), count 'em, seven points. Dredge up every possible moment in the show season where we might have acquired seven more points. Obsess for days. Send email to friends beginning 'If only...' Friends delete email unread. :-)
May 8: Enter male champion (who can't keep weight on to save his soul), female open (cute but small), and gangly neutered open (nicknamed [I lie not, neither do I exaggerate] "Spare Maine Coon Parts") in next show. Begin cycle over again. ("That trick never works!" "This time for SURE!")
If anyone figures out why I do this, please let me know....