Tag Archives: springer spaniels



I started a diet today.

It started out great.

I am never hungry in the morning, so I met a friend for coffee at 10 without eating first. It was an interesting exercise. The smells at The Hillside Spot were tantalizing: Waffles, eggs with a side of fried potatoes, and lush buttery pastries. My mouth was watering, and my sense of smell was keen. I caught myself turning my head to get a better whiff as the full platters went by.  I most likely resembled my Springer Spaniel following her nose about while I’m cooking dinner. My hands shook a bit from the lack of food combined with the jolt of caffeine, but I was doing well.

I felt strong.

Mind over matter.

This time I was going to stick with it and lose at least five pounds before our son’s wedding in three weeks. I was going to feel so much healthier, and wouldn’t it be nice to NOT have to unbutton my jeans every time I sat down?

But then I got home.

I sat down to my computer to do some research for a summer vacation, and that’s when it started. My mind began cataloguing the food in the fridge. First the top shelf:  Half a leftover steak. A raspberry yogurt.  A bowl of pudding. Second shelf: The bag of expensive cheeses leftover from our holiday entertaining.  Deli sausage slices!  Chicken tortilla soup!!!!


I ate a banana and drank a big glass of water and got back to work. My stomach growled madly but I ignored it and started to answer email.  My mind wandered uncontrollably back to the contents of the fridge. Black beans with tomatoes and onion. Sour cream! The last slice of coconut cake.

I slowly peeled an orange and savored every juicy segment. I heated up another cup of coffee and settled back in at my laptop.

That was an hour ago. My work is constantly being interrupted. Did you hear that? I swear I just heard the pepperoni pizza calling to me from the freezer. “Just one slice. I’m so tasty. I’ll fill you up so you won’t be hungry anymore. I’m greasy and delicious. EAT ME!”

I don’t know how much longer I can hold out. The coconut cake is competing with the apple pie, and the half and half is mad I didn’t put it in my coffee. All dozen of the eggs insist I fry them up in just a little bit of bacon grease.

I think I’d better peel another orange–I am not feeling strong. I am feeling . . . HUNGRY!!!






It’s been quite a month of travel for me.  I’ve had exciting adventures and slept in many different beds, so how wonderful it felt to get back to my own bed this weekend.  I slept like the dead–until about 7am when my ears were accosted by the sound of tweeting birds, which is very unusual at our house. These birds were serious about their songs; they did not let up, and after an hour, when (half asleep and half awake) I weighed plans about getting ridding of them (BB gun pellets? Sharp bird pest strips planted on the roof?).  I woke up enough to realize it was Hubby’s alarm clock that we both had slept through. ON A SUNDAY MORNING. I seriously wanted to punch him.  I told him he needs to go back to the old-fashioned BEEP BEEP BEEP alarm or else I will be slumbering in a different room.

Hubby is gone for a week to Georgia on a business trip so his alarm clock will not be disturbing me, but I still haven’t slept well for days.  The last night I was in Illinois, I sustained 60 mosquito bites–45 on my left leg and 15 on my right.  These were not the pesky little mozzies we have here in Tempe whose bites disappear after an hour.  These big-ass Midwestern mosquitos left some sort of toxin in my skin, causing each bite to swell to the size of big red nickels . . . and they are so itchy it’s hard to keep my fingernails off them.  It’s been a week and they show no signs of healing.  If they aren’t better by Monday, I will seek medical attention.  I keep wishing I’d used the bug repellant spray offered but nooooooo, I didn’t want the chemicals on me.  UGH.

Then last night Ruby the Wonder Spaniel got me up FOUR TIMES to go out and do her business between 2am and 5am.  She’d eaten so many cicadas before bed that her tummy was literally buzzing.  She does this every year, and while watching her leap about the yard for her summer snacks is Youtube-worthy, those crunchy treats always give her a case of the runs.  I gave her a Tums that she licked at loudly for a good 15 minutes, but then we were back outside soon after that.  Complicating the situation is that I’d taken a Benadryl to try to calm the itch from the bug bites and couldn’t figure out which way the door was!   Several times in the past few weeks, I’ve woken up in the dark thinking Hubby and I are still in our fabulous British hotel room with the magical view of the Tower of London.

Next week school starts and I will be back to an “early to bed and early to rise” schedule. It will be a difficult transition after a summer of staying up past midnight either reading or watching Netflix, waking up with no alarm clock, then napping mid afternoon.  But I am excited to meet the new staff members, new parents, and most of all our students . . . and be living a useful life again after the long, restorative summer break.




Chivalry is Not Dead


I am in Mexico.

Hubby and I are having a very relaxing, quiet weekend at the beach reading books, doing crossword puzzles, and taking long walks on the beach with Ruby the Wonder Spaniel. Hubby is always so pleasant to spend time with and is such a gentleman. He doesn’t mind if I fill his pockets with seashells on our walks, insists I share bites of his mango bought from the beach mango man, and today during our walk asked me, “May I hold your bag of hot dog shit?”  I tell ya, chivalry is not dead.

Today I did something I haven’t done since college!  (Nope–nothing illegal.)  I lay out in the sun in my swimsuit.  GASP!  (So politically incorrect! Forty lashes with a wet noodle!) The wind was cool, my skin was pale, and it just seemed like the right thing to do.  The chaise lounge was so comfy, and I immediately felt my bones go to jelly.  I felt so warm (but not too warm) and felt so in the moment.  I was almost dozing off when I began to notice the weird noises being made by all the patio umbrellas:  tap-tap, tippety-tap, tap-tap, tippety-tap.  I focused again on being in the moment, but that’s when Ruby came over to lay beside me.  Her wet dog smell wafted over me in what must have been a visible cloud . . .  and then she began to lick my legs.  ARRRGGGGG!  When I heard the nice vendor man asking me if I’d like to buy some “yewelry,” I knew it was time to give up.

Thinking back through the years (and looking down at my wrinkly hands), I’m pretty sure I kept up that sun worshipping hobby through my twenties.  Please remember it WAS THE STYLE then (think Miami Vice and Baywatch)!!!  My goal in college was to be the tannest girl at ASU—and I think I pretty much was.  So that’s why now my skin is leathery and spotted and well, would I have listened if anyone had tried to tell me what lay ahead? Probably not. Being tan made my teeth look whiter, my eyes look brighter, and my hair look blonder.  In 1984, I thought I was all that and a bag of chips.

Last week I also did something I hadn’t done since college:  I met with four old friends whom I was close friends with in high school and college.  These guys were the sweetest, goofiest, smartest bunch . . . though not the coolest boys in school.  Somehow we lost touch, and life went on, but I always hoped their lives were going well.  Last week, I was invited to happy hour last minute by my friend Gail, because two of the guys were visiting from out of town.  I was really nervous, but I think it went well.  We’ve all changed tremendously in 35 years, but we laughed remembering our high school shenanigans and all those summer tubing trips down the Salt River.  I’d always avoided school reunions, and most of that was due to the fact that the only thing I’d accomplished since high school was creating and raising my three beautiful children. So many people from my class have done so well, being doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs (ha) and well, my CV is not very impressive.  Last Tuesday at happy hour, none of that seemed to matter, and it was great to see their faces again.  I enjoyed our time together and hope we can make it a regular thing.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed this latest installment of Cheers Darling in which we’ve learned: Don’t worship the sun or your skin will get leathery when you are old, beauty is fleeting, good friends don’t care if you’re Important in the World . . . and if you’re on a walk and your husband offers to carry the plastic bag of hot dog poop . . . always say YES!



Interpretive Dance


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,




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.