Tag Archives: dogs

Interpretive Dance

Standard

I am in Mexico.

Hubby, Ruby the Wonder Spaniel, and I drove down Saturday to our tiny condo on the beach in Puerto Penasco (or as I like to call it, Heaven).  All is the same as when we left it in October.  The majestic osprey perch on their post overlooking the ocean, venturing out to fish at sunrise and sunset.  Pelicans fly by in (mostly) groups of odd numbers, and the ocean waves roll in and roll out, just like always. Small pods of dolphins play just beyond the reef, and vendors walk slowly by pedaling their silver jewelry with tired smiles.  The sun shines brightly over the beach, making diamond patterns on the surface of the sea.

We’ve been doing this trip for many years.  I first visited this beach when I was 13 years old, and it was love at first sight.  Lucky for me, Hubby feels the same way, and every chance we get, we make the four-hour drive to our favorite place.  Each time it goes like this:  We unlock the front door, I jump up and down for joy a few times, we unpack the car, take off our shoes, open cold bottles of Mexican beer, and walk out into the warm sand.

One thing I love about visiting this beach in January is how deserted it is.  There are a few “regulars” who quietly read on their patios, waving shyly from afar.  Look east.  Look west.  Nobody on the beach.  Not one soul!  This weekend it seems there are fewer visitors than usual.  Ruby and I took a shell walk and to my chagrin, she took a HUGE poop.  She looked up at me happily, but I was mad. I hadn’t brought a bag with me because she’d already pooped twice today:  once in Gila Bend and once in Ajo!  There’s nothing a dog enjoys more than pooping in unfamiliar territory.

Anyway:  We were a good five-minute walk from the condo, so lucky me, I see Hubby appear on the patio ready to come down and join us.  I wave my hands and get his attention. I yell “BAG!!!” but the wind carries my message away.  Hmmm, this was a tough one.  I think hard and begin spelling out B-A-G with my hands and body.  “Good thing the condos are all empty,” I laugh to myself.  Hubby shakes his head, hands in the air. I decide to reverse the letters.  Again I spell B-A-G, this time with more emphasis. Still he shakes his head.  I point at Ruby, then pretend to scoop something from the sand.  THAT DID IT! Thank goodness, because my next move was squatting in the sand and pretending to do the deed myself!

And well, golly, that’s when I noticed several people out on their patios, hands shielding their eyes to get a better view of this chubby blonde woman doing what must have looked like some strange sort of interpretive beach dance.  Oh, well.  Hubby brought the bag, Ruby felt lighter, and I did not have to walk all the way back up to the condo.

Last night we had a yummy dinner at Flavio’s on the fish wharf.   How weird to be some of the only Americans out on the town on a Saturday night!  It occurred to me many people might be participating in the Women’s March in Phoenix that day, but also Google weather forecasts told us to expect rain (only sun with weather in the seventies).  Today Hubby flew his two-stringed kite, requiring me to wade into the chilly tide pools to help relaunch after many crashes.  (If that’s not true love, tell me what is.)  Ruby is all smiles, though her bad hips prevent her from chasing the birds as she’d like to.  I missed the cats so much in the night that I balled up my sweatshirt and placed it between our feet at the end of the bed and slept soundly pretending they were with us.

If there was a better weekend to escape from the world, I’m not sure when it would be. But after all that’s happened in our country in the past few months, isn’t it nice to visit a place that seemingly remains the same?  I’m trying hard to not feel abject terror about recent changes in our great country, and every day it feels like an awkward balance of getting along, being heard, deciphering news, and taking care of business.  It’s important to just get up each morning, put your shoes on, and place one foot firmly in front of the other. I’m realizing as I write this that lately at home I’ve been doing a strange sort of interpretive dance, and it’s not a happy one.

With Love and Hope,

Mary

Advertisements

Chasing Cars

Standard

My house is very quiet this morning.  Hubby is back to work.  College Boy William is still asleep and will be until noon.  Feeling lonely, I opened the front blinds to watch neighbors walking their dogs.  They are happy, and the cold air can be seen in the fog of their breaths.  Our dog cannot go for a walk; she was born with terrible hips and the surgery made it worse.  Ruby misses Hubby today and whines “squee squee” from the landing of the stairs.  It will take a few days, but she’ll get used to our new schedule.  I am keenly missing Morning Meeting at my school; it will take a few days, but I, too, will get used to my new schedule.

Today I have 60 minutes of time I must “serve” at the gym, lunch with my oldest friend (we met in Mr. McQueen’s 7th grade class at Connolly Middle School), then a few errands. It’s not really enough to fill a day.  My goal is better health, so I remind myself that the weather is beautiful and I can ride my bike, take a walk, or drive ten minutes to reach the War Paint Trail and do a walk in/around South Mountain.  I think the term “hiking” does not accurately describe our little walks on the well-designated paths.

If it were up to me, I’d hike every day.  The only problem is a big one:  I’m afraid to hike alone!  I know I’m being ridiculous.  I have friends who hike alone all the time.  As far as I know, not one of them has broken any limbs or been bitten by a rattlesnake.  I’ve “practiced” hiking alone by walking far ahead on the trail while hiking with Hubby.  I’ll pretend I’m alone, but still, at every blind corner I imagine a slobbering zombie, a rabid coyote, or some sort of deranged dentist with a drill in hand waiting to attack me. It’s no good.

Starting next week, I’ll be doing a lot of things solo.  William will return to college, and I will be here alone. Soooooo, since I’m terrible at entertaining myself, I’ve made a long list of Things to Do so I Won’t Get Blue. Hiking is on that list, along with Organizing My Life, and Writing the Great American Novel.  Easy peasy.

One thing I know is I will need to get out of the house.  The retired postman who lives across the street from me uses the blower each afternoon for an hour.  It sounds like he is IN MY HOUSE with the blower (it’s very loud).  He is a nice man but has an obsession with that blower. When he’s not blowing, he likes to detail his car in the driveway—with music from the 1970s blaring from his radio.  I asked the neighbors if they’d go in on an Ipod for him but, alas, they have known him longer than I and say there is no fixing his ways.  His other hobby is walking his baying beagles—almost as loud as the blower, but not quite as loud as his radio.  My theory is some people are simply louder than others.

The other reason to leave my house is because of what we call The Loud Car.  It’s been in our neighborhood for about a year now.  At first, I ignored it.  We’ve lived here 15 years and the annoying things (like loud cars, kids on electric scooters, cars with rap on car radios, baseball practice right outside our window in the greenbelt) always go away in a short time.  But not The Loud Car.  Hubby and I have tried to catch a glimpse of it, but it is very quiet as it exits its own street, however, once it reaches the street behind ours, it accelerates. It can be heard for a half mile in any direction. I’ve actually hopped in my car to try to find it when I saw it out my window.  What will I do when I identify it?  I’m not sure.  Place a nice note on the windshield with directions to a muffler shop?  I know this too shall pass, and I realize I need to find a better hobby than chasing cars.

Cheers,

Mary

 

Cats

Standard

I realized this morning that although I mention our Springer Spaniel, Ruby the Wonder Dog quite frequently, I rarely tell stories about our three cats.  I had quite the story last week when the cats tried to steal the Thanksgiving turkey thawing on the kitchen counter (they love raw poultry) and instead knocked the huge thing into the sink on top of a stack of dirty dishes.  The clatter was enormous, and we thought we had an intruder at 4:10 on a Wednesday morning.  Hubby cautiously crept down the stairs while I held the phone in preparation to dial 911. Good cats!

Let me introduce them.  First there is Cosmo Pickles, who at 11 years is the oldest.  He was born in my friend Jean’s garden shed and lucky us, we got to adopt him.  He is a large flame-point Siamese with blue eyes that don’t work for him very well.  He is easily startled if you come up to him too quickly, but is a dear, fluffy fellow who loves his cat and dog sisters.  A few years ago, Cosmo decided he was an outside cat, and we allowed it simply because he was too fat to jump over the wall.  Well.  Being outside chasing birds and lizards has made him quite svelte, and on occasion he does jump the fence, going on walk about long enough for me to be worried, but always home by dinnertime at 6.  He makes the most ridiculous noises and I call to him in the yard by making his own noise which sounds like a cheerful “brrrrreow!” In his old age, he’s taken to tormenting us by coming in and out too frequently and yowling at the door incessantly if we ignore him.

Attila Adelaide is a beautiful tortoiseshell who is five years old.  She has many orange patches accenting her grey and black coat, and white splotches only on her feet.  She is the softest of the three cats.  She is our upstairs cat and can be found most days napping in Patrick’s old room in the rocking chair.  Her eyes are large and green and to me she sometimes looks like an owl, and sometimes resembles a wild cat.    I call her Chinchilla, but to the rest of the family she is usually Tilly.  She loves the smell of bleach and bites us when we’ve been in the swimming pool and smell of chlorine.  Yesterday I added too much bleach to the wash when laundering our comforter and Tilly was happy as a clam writhing and purring on it afterwards.  She sleeps on Hubby’s feet and when I wake in the night, she begins to purr, lulling me back to sleep.  She wishes she were an only cat and tries to steer clear of the other animals in the house, but she adores her humans and stays near us on the couch each evening as we read books or watch tv.

Olive had a middle name, but who knows what it was?  I named her for the dog in the Christmas book Olive the Other Reindeer because she is spunky and smart.  Like Tilly, she is also a “tortie cat” but is almost all black with just a few hints of orange in her coat. She is three years old and full of mischief.  She scares me half to death by walking along our upstairs banister (which has a 15-foot drop) as if it were a tightrope, and then jumps onto the bed and attacks Tilly for no reason at all.  She loves to chase and wrestle with the other cats, then gently steps around Ruby to sleep next to her in the dog bed.  She taunts Ruby by eating her dog kibble, and taunts me by jumping onto the fireplace mantle and tiptoeing around my expensive decorative glass treasures. Lately she’s decided she is an outside cat, so when she sneaks out the back door she causes a panic and we are so happy when we’ve chased her back inside.  I’ve taken to peering through the window before opening the door, then waving the broom at her and growling ferociously if she is waiting to dart outside.

I’m quite sure both Hubby and I have cat allergies, proven more or less by two weekends away during the past month.  While at home, we wake each morning coughing and sneezing with stuffy noses, and while we’re away, we are not congested at all.  After just hours back in our house yesterday, one of my nostrils was so stuffed that it whistled each time I sniffed.  No matter; we love our cats and I will add a daily allergy pill to the next grocery list.

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

Merdog

Standard

I am in Mexico.

We always come to the beach for Fall Break, however, this year, it’s just Hubby and me. Our children were too busy to accompany us, and you know what?  We’re having a lovely time just the two of us . . . along with Ruby the Wonder Spaniel.  She is having the time of her life chasing bird shadows, digging in the sand, and knocking over our full beer bottles. She swims gracefully around us in the ocean, her ears floating so elegantly on the water that I’m sure she thinks she is a mermaid.  Mer-dog?  Mer-spaniel!  Today as I sat in a warm tide pool, she rhythmically wagged her wet tail toward me, sprinkling sea water on my sun glasses. Good dog!  Ruby has a new BFF named Barley. He is a one-year-old Cairn Terrier who touched noses with her and smelled her behind so sweetly that it made me smile.

We’ve traveled to this beach so many times that I go into autopilot as I pack for our long weekends away.  Saturday I had extra time to putter since Hubby had to answer a few work emails before we left town.  I actually remembered the binoculars, the mustard, my toothbrush, and the plastic bags for poop detail. (I have no idea why I forget these random four items 99% of the time.)  Finally we were on the road!  We were two hours into our four-hour journey when I yelled a very bad word followed by, “I FORGOT THE KEY!” Hubby voted we return home, but since I was behind the wheel, I had executive decision making power. I was just sure that one of the condo windows would be unlocked, or that our neighbor would be home with our spare key.  Nope.  Thank goodness for Pablo, who is our property manager.   He arrived in 15 minutes with a spare key—my hero!  Finally we could begin our vacation!  We threw back the curtains, and slid open the glass door to see a pod of dolphins swimming by.  HEAVEN.

Now about the beach:  There are seven or eight different family groups with small children playing ball, tossing Frisbees, paddle boarding, and frolicking in the ocean.  There are many cute dogs, and I am happy to report, everyone seems to be on top of poop duty. There’s nothing grosser than setting up your umbrella, laying out your beach towel just so, then settling in just to have the rich scent of fresh poo waft into your nostrils. Our next door neighbors this weekend own a gin distillery and bar on Congress Street in Tucson. They are very interesting, so polite, and have great taste in music.  My only complaint is Frank Sinatra singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas at 9 this morning as we were sipping our coffees and enjoying the ocean views.  So there you have it: I’ve heard my first Christmas song of the holiday season on a hot morning at the beach.

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

Goodbye Home

Standard

I’m beyond excited for our UK Adventure to begin tomorrow.  But . . . as much as I love to travel, I also don’t like to be away from home for very long.  Two weeks will be a REALLY long time to be away from my sweet kitties (Cosmo, Attila, and Olive) and from Ruby the Wonder Dog.  I’ve arranged the very best care for all of them (thanks to Samantha and Sylvia), but I know there will be days when I’m wishing I could click my heels and come home for an hour of pet snuggles.

While going about my business today, I’ve been comically meloncholic.  This afternoon, I fetched the mail and with a little wave, I whispered, “Goodbye, Mailbox.  I won’t be seeing you for awhile.”  At the grocery store, I sadly took a mental picture, thinking how strange it will feel not shopping at Fry’s for two weeks.  I’ve barely been able to complete a task for having to stop and cuddle the pets.

This afternoon as I was awash in sentimentality, saying goodbye to all of the things that make up my every day life, this popped into my brain. Massive apologies to Margaret Wise Brown (who is likely rolling in her grave).

Goodbye Home

Goodbye home
Goodbye phone (I didn’t pay for UK access)
Goodbye dog chewing on a bone
Goodbye light
And the scurrying scorpions  (killed 26 in the yard yesterday and two in the house today)
Goodbye chairs
Goodbye piles of cat hair
Goodbye quiet pool where Hubby and I float
Goodbye computer on which I wrote.
Goodbye mockingbird that interrupts my sleep
Goodbye neighbor’s car always saying beep beep

Goodbye kittens
And goodbye mittens
Goodbye tequila
And goodbye beers
Goodbye dusty house
And goodbye dears
Goodbye kitchen stereo to which I dance
And goodbye stack of unread books.
Goodbye  stinky cat boxes.
Goodbye mush
And goodbye to the old lady (who me?)
who is certainly a lush,
Goodbye stars
Goodbye air
Goodbye noises everywhere.

Wow. That was truly terrible. Apologies all around. I will miss my sweet pets and my comfy home.  Send positive energy toward this ridiculously angsty traveler as she jets off tomorrow afternoon for parts unknown.

Cheers,

Mary

 

India

Standard

Dear Hubby,

I know you’ve only been gone 36 hours, but I thought you’d want to know how we’re doing since you boarded that plane for Delhi yesterday morning.  The pictures you posted on Facebook were actually a bit disappointing; I thought it would all look more “foreign.”  I’m sure once you reach Bangalore you will see so many new things, and I hope you’ll take lots of pictures.

So here is a short report of some stuff you missed:

Ruby the Wonder Spaniel keeps barking out the front window at your car parked in the driveway.  We have visited your car five times in the last hour.  She has sniffed it thoroughly, we’ve gone back inside, and ten minutes later, she begins to bark again as if you are home. There has bee a lot of “woo-wooing” for you.  If this goes on for many more days, I will be buying her a muzzle, or perhaps a strong sedative.

I still have not mopped the spills from our big graduation party on Saturday.  Maybe soon? I hate to mop.  The party was grand, and thanks for all of your help, especially when you knew you were going on this important international work trip early the next morning.  I keep smiling thinking of how many wonderful family and friends attended our event to help us celebrate William and his friends.  We are so very blessed!

I was happy to get back to school today to see my favorite Kindergartners.  The only downside was the song chosen for morning meeting:  “Tooti Ta.”  OMG, I hate that song with a red-hot passion.  The bad news: it’s still stuck in my head.  The good news:  one of our girls scratched a mosquito bite on her leg and was bleeding, so OH DARN, I had to take her to get a band aid and missed most of the song.

I had the most lovely dream this morning that I was roller skating with Dan and Kyle from Bastille.  The three of us were alone in a lush, amazingly beautiful park filled with fragrant flowers and dense trees. We skated on a smooth path and were skating so fast, it felt like we were flying. Afterwards we rested on a grassy knoll, and in a moment of happiness, I leaned over and kissed Dan on the cheek. He didn’t seem to mind too much.  (I know I’m weird and totally embarrassing and too old to be a fan girl–so sorry.)

Eve says she is totally prepared for her big EMT certification test on Wednesday.  She stopped by last night to check on me and the pets.  William has not been around much. Between working and friends he is very busy, but always so good to tell me where he is when I ask.  I stopped by Patrick and Samantha’s and met their five rescue kittens who were tumbling all over each other. They were totally adorable, though extremely stanky after a ringworm treatment at the vet’s.

I watched two wretched movies on Amazon Prime yesterday:  A Walk in the Woods and School of Life.  I finished the first one because the scenery was beautiful (even though the pace was painful), but I only made it through 20 minutes of the next angsty show about a dying teacher at a private school. Egad!  It got four stars! The plot, the cast, and the story line were all total poop!  Who watches these dreadful things???

You’d better sit down for this last bit of news:  After work today, I went to the gym.  That’s right. I swear it’s true.  It was worse than usual since the gym was filled with awkward middle-aged men (some without shirts on–is that even allowed?), but I stuck it out and currently have 15693 steps on my Vivofit step counter.

That’s it for my news.  Please don’t forget to take those malaria pills . . . and be so careful about the water.  Do not buy me a knock-off designer purse because I do not know or care about designers. (Remember the smelly woven leather shirt you brought me from Mexico that one time?)  Get the work done so you don’t have to go back . . . because we miss you.

Love,

Mary

Secret Sauce

Standard

Why is it that Wednesdays find me only able to offer brief, “Twitteresque” updates?  I blame it on over-stimulation created by interactions with my Kindergartners, which is a really fantastic way to spend my day, however, does not lead to cohesive thinking in the evening.  So here’s a spattering of thoughts drifting through my brain in the past half hour:

First of all, a big shout out to Mother Nature for dialing it down as far as our desert temperatures are concerned.  90 degrees in February ain’t no way to be treatin’ us.  You be illin’.  (I apologize—I revisited the Beastie Boys over the weekend.)   Thank you, Ma N, for the breezy cool days and for the feathery clouds that decorated the sky over the playground at lunchtimes this week.  YOU ROCK!

I’ve had coffee dates every day at AJ’s after work this week.  The woman at their bakery counter is beginning to look  at me suspiciously, though I’m doing nothing more shifty than showing up at the exact time every day to order a medium coffee (room for cream, please), then hanging out on their lovely patio with friends.  I love my job, but I so very much miss my two-hour lunches plus how-about-a-little-shopping afternoons of the past few years. I am the luckiest girl in the whole world that friends agree to meet me for a coffee at 3:45 (not the most convenient time) and stay for hours until we’ve caught up on every little thing.  AJ’s prices are ridiculous compared to Fry’s where I shop, however, the people watching is so much better that I found myself thinking it might be worth the extra clams to be shopping among The Handsome Ones.  This afternoon I was doing some serious rubber-necking whilst checking out the handsome men entering the store.  This is not a thing at Fry’s.  Not ever, not one time in all the 20 years of shopping there.  I miss our recently closed Fresh and Easy store, which was so hopping with attractive singles at 6pm that my friends and I nicknamed it “Fresh and Sleazy.”  A special bonus this afternoon (aside from being with dear friends) was the appearance of two peach-faced love birds in a tree near our table.  These elusive birds have been sighted in Tempe for at least 30 years, and these were the first I had seen in probably five years.

I got home later than anticipated, opened the fridge, and examined the beef roast which was supposed to have been placed in the crockpot BEFORE I went to AJ’s.  Well.  I lifted it to my nose and it smelled fine, but upon closer examination, I could clearly see a spot on one end which was turning a decidedly non-beef color.  Green, to be exact.  What to do?   The beef needed to be cooked today!   If I started the French Dip at 6pm, the house would reek of spicy beef and nobody would be able to sleep.  It was then I had a light bulb moment: Place the crock pot on the back patio!  I gave myself a high five for thinking of this brilliant idea, fetched an extension cord, threw the ingredients into the pot, plugged it in, and forgot about it.

Well.

Ruby the Wonder Spaniel and Cosmo (the Elderly Siamese with Dementia–we are working on a better nickname) tend to go in and out our back door approximately 100 times each evening.  I’d let both of them out about 5:45 to enjoy the sunset and had forgotten all about them.  Busy in the kitchen, I didn’t realize anything was amiss until I heard the sound of clattering glass. What the what?  I opened the back door to discover Ruby had pushed aside the crock pot lid and was licking the meat!  She’d also lapped up half the beef broth and had licked all of the garlic off.  I’m going under the assumption that the beef will be safe to eat after cooking for six hours in a crock pot, but at this point, Ruby thinks it belongs to her and is nose-whistling longingly out the back door window at the crock pot.  This is not the serene evening I had planned for myself which involved taking my boots off, lolling lazily on the couch playing Words with  Friends, reading the latest Esquire mag, and sipping a strong cocktail.

Hopefully tomorrow night will be more relaxed, when we will feast on delicious spicy beef sandwiches complete with “secret sauce” (dog spit).  Here is the recipe:

Crock Pot French Dip

Get out your crock pot. Try not to notice the icky drips that are stuck on the sides from the last time you used it. What IS that???

Put your beef in the crock pot. I used any cheap cut of beef that’s on sale. Today I’m using Bottom Boneless Round Steak. Pour one can of beef broth over the beef. (I’ve used chicken broth when I’m out of beef broth and it worked fine.) To this add a ½ cup of soy sauce, ½ cup of water and three garlic cloves.

Cover, plug her in, and let ‘er rip. After four hours, I like to take out the beef and slice it, then put it back in the crock pot for another hour. That way I can add salt or more soy sauce if I feel the flavor is lacking.  Serve the sliced beef on hoagie rolls with any kind of cheese, grilled onions, pickled jalepenos, and/or jarred red peppers.  Or just eat it straight out of the crock pot—it’s delish!

Cheers,

Mary