Archive for the ‘animals’ Category

Growing up in Canada, Fourth of July was significant in our house only in that it was my grandmother’s birthday. July 4th was Independence Day, after all, for the United States of America, not the Canadian provinces. We do, however, celebrate Canada Day on July 1st in much the similar way. It’s a time for Canadians to celebrate their history, achievements, and culture. Since it began in 1867, nearly a hundred years after the U.S. claimed independence, I have a feeling perhaps we looked across the border and saw all the Americans having a helluva party and decided to join in. I’m just sayin. There is no doubt we Canadians enjoy a good party.

In Halifax on Canada Day, just like here, we packed a picnic, grabbed a blanket, and headed for a fireworks display. Often our venue of choice was the Waegwoltic Club, or “The Wag” as we referred to it back then. The name, so I’m told, is derived from a Mi’ kmaw word loosely translated to mean “end of water”. The Mi’kmaw were the dominant tribe in the Maritime provinces. The Wag was, and still is, located on the Northwest Arm of the Halifax harbor a fork which defines the western side of the Halifax Peninsula. My grandparents always held a membership at the club, and as their progeny I reaped the benefits of this membership during my childhood. In the summer months my grandmother would walk me to the bus stop around the corner with a friend or two in tow. When the bus arrived, we would excitedly pile on,locate a seat, and ride the bus to our final stop just outside the gates of The Wag. Many times she would have packed me a picnic lunch which I would eat at one of the many picnic tables provided, but sometimes I was given money to eat at the snack bar in the main clubhouse or to get an ice cream. Thinking of this now, it strikes me how kids don’t have these kind of adventures anymore. Nobody seemed to worry back then about us being abducted, least of all us. It’s not, I’m sure, that there weren’t plenty of bad people to go around in those days, I just think it was there wasn’t as efficient a transport of information such as the Internet to tell us about it, or perhaps times were simply different. In either case, I loved those days of freedom right down to pulling the cord and waiting for the bus doors to release us for a day of swimming and boating on the Arm.

“The Wag”

The Wag was my families usual spot to spend Canada Day. Sitting high on a hill on a blanket laid out on the grass, I would watch in fascination as the fireworks exploded in vivid splashes across the dark sky over our heads. The most impressive display of fireworks I ever witnessed was not above the Atlantic, however, but rather right here in Northern California. When they were youngsters my second husband and I took our three children (two mine, one his) to an Oakland A’s baseball game to celebrate the Fourth. Being California, there was no weather other than good weather to deal with, so the day was perfectly constructed for spending the afternoon outside. The stadium, near the San Francisco Bay, got a welcome ocean breeze to keep the temperature down, so even though we sat high in the more exposed nosebleed seats, we were not uncomfortable. The game was really secondary to everything else going on around us. Though it had been a long day, the children, having had their fill of typical baseball fare, were still wired for sound and raring to go. Between the hot dogs, peanuts and nachos their little stomachs must have been lined with cast iron to still be asking for ice cream when the vendor went by our aisle just before the fireworks began. As night fell, with the game decided, the festivities centered around the holiday began to ramp up. When the show began, we were so far off the ground as the fireworks exploded over our heads it felt almost as if we were part of the blast. For the youngest member of our group, my stepdaughter only “free” as she liked to pronounce with three chubby fingers extended, this was a bit too much. Was it not for the loud bursts overhead, the scream that emanated from that child’s mouth after the first rocket went up, most likely could have been picked up by spy cams in the Kremlin. OMG. In the end we watched the show fading out of view out of the back window of the car exiting the stadium parking lot with two sulking older children and and one sniffling little one. The price of parenthood. Sigh.

This year, though we’re now fully vaccinated and able to mingle with others, we decided to stay home. We binge watched “The Virgin River” series on Neflix most of the day in between filling our faces with leftovers from a dinner party we hosted on Friday night for several friends. There is something absolutely freeing about doing nothing. I didn’t bother to get dressed any further than the boxer shorts and tee shirt I was wearing when I rolled out of bed. My hair, though having had a good brushing along with my teeth (but not with the same utensil) when I first got up, was then left to fend for itself the rest of the day. Generally, I was a lazy no good layabout for the next twelve hours after rising. Loved it. Thankfully, we don’t live in a neighborhood, like many in the area, where people were up at three in the morning setting off fireworks. It’s not just how annoying that is to the people around them, but animals are traumatized by fireworks. My girlfriend’s schnauzer used to live in the cupboard under the sink when the Fourth of July rolled around. They had to medicate him. I love fireworks myself, but when we’re sitting on a tinder box like we are at the moment on the west coast, activities involving fire don’t make me comfortable. Fire crews responded to 1500 calls over the weekend. Wow. They had a busy couple of days.

Seems we are all “busy” all the time. When my kids call, they generally begin the conversation with “Mom, I’m really busy so I have about fifteen minutes before”….. a) a meeting, b) I arrive at whatever destination I am headed to, or c) I am tired of talking and just want to drive along in silence for a few minutes before the fun begins again once I arrive where I am going. Trying to book a weekend with my children is like trying to get reservations at Yosemite for Memorial Day weekend. Calendars are researched, children’s schedules are consulted, it is a major undertaking of epic proportions.

I’m guilty of “doing” constantly myself. Truly, I can’t remember the last time I spent a day pursuing not one thing above and beyond sloth. Doing so Sunday left me with the most peaceful feeling in my head. It felt as if everything I’d been worried about over the past few weeks had either faded considerably or even disappeared all together. I must remember to add to my calendar “Day off” from time to time and honor the writing. I think women suffer more than men from this. Now, now, if you’re male don’t get all upset by this. Statistics indicate women have much to be responsible for. I told a friend the other day it still amazes me I have been married four times and cannot ever remember seeing one of my husbands holding a toilet brush. More is expected of us, and for the most part we are up to the task. As I’ve mentioned before, though in many houses both parents need to work to keep things going, often women are still doing two more hours of housework a day than men. This is changing certainly, but not at warp speed for sure. A woman put up a post on Facebook a while back that said simply, “Can we all now agree that housework is not gender specific?” I’m in.

At the dinner party Friday night we were discussing how expensive things are getting. It’s hard to imagine my mother’s house when I was in high school, a nice, three bedroom, two bath, tract home in a lovely middle class neighborhood, was purchased for $28,000 and change. To add to the mix, it had a huge Olympic sized pool in the back yard. Today in California at least, you couldn’t purchase shares in a garage for that amount of money. I just filled up half of my tank on Saturday, and with the new gas tax just implemented, the receipt totaled $49.74. Now I have a mid-sized sedan I’m driving around in, so I can only imagine what people with SUV’s or trucks are dishing out. Where is all this tax money going one wonders? They say it is for infrastructure, roads, and bridges, etc. They have been saying that for some time. I went down a road the other day in a local park. The ranger at the gate told us it had a few potholes. A more accurate description would have been it had a few flat spots. Good Lord. My kidneys were up under my left ear lobe by the time we got to the bottom.

Last week when I went to Costco I could not believe how pricey meat has gotten. A package of short ribs was selling for nearly $50. Whoa. I half expected to see a guy in a trenchcoat waiting by the curb as we exited the building selling a little black market beef on the side. Thought of doing it myself. No wonder people aren’t getting enough to eat. I was distressed to hear a news commentator talking about food insecurity in this country. So many little ones going to bed with grumbling stomachs. I have volunteered at the local food bank since I moved to this area. You think your neighborhood is immune to this because there are nice houses and well manicured lawns, but food insecurity is a serious and real problem in the U.S. At any rate, I hope we all do what we can to help when we can. I had to use a food distribution place once while living in Washington. I remember the humiliating feeling of standing in line for a handout, and I also remember how kind the lady handing me the free box of food was, and how relieved I was to have it. I asked what I could do to pay them back, and she said simply “pay it forward”. Words to live by.

Hope you had a safe and sane Fourth and got to hug a few family and friends this year. Something to be doubly thankful for.

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I had a discussion with a young parent the other day I found interesting. She told me she asks her children what they would like to eat before preparing a meal. Things really are different then when I was growing up. I can honestly say I was never consulted about a meal really. What was put on my plate and served to me, I ate. If I chose not to eat it, my grandmother, at least to my recollection, never got up from the table and went in the kitchen and whipped me up something else more to my liking. Sometimes at breakfast, my grandmother did ask if I wanted my eggs poached, scrambled or fried, but other than that, what showed up on the plate was generally what I was expected to eat.

Now that I think more about it why shouldn’t children have some choice in their menu plan? They aren’t old enough always to make all the choices but I do think after they have tried a food several times and still have a strong distaste for it, perhaps they shouldn’t be made to eat it? This does not mean they can exclude every vegetable, fruit, or meat and substitute ice cream or candy bars, but within reason if there is a food they really do not like perhaps they need not be made to eat it? My son, for example, could not stand peas. His father, thought children should eat what was placed in front of them, and not waste food. The “starving children in China” script was pulled out often when food was left uneaten on their plates. This particular meal, the peas remained intact on my son’s plate and like the elephant in the room did not go unnoticed by my husband. “Eat your peas before leaving the table” was put out there. The gauntlet had been thrown. Dishes done, I came back to find my little one still staring at his plate. Stubbornness is definitely genetic. After a while the fork was lifted to his lips and he took a big bite of the dreaded little green bullets. The face was too much as the chewing commenced. Shortly, as quickly as they had gone down the chute they made a return visit all over my tablecloth. Having had enough of both men in my household, I scooped up my son and headed for the bathtub and handed his father the cleaning utensils to clean up the mess. Peas were no longer an issue at our house.

I never had to be forced to eat. I liked just about everything my grandmother put in front of me except for the dreaded liver and onions or the god forsaken beefsteak and kidney pie which were both my kryptonite. Ewwwww. Food was where she and I totally bonded. So many of my warmest memories of my younger years were created in my grandmother’s sunny kitchen. Sometimes, one of those memories will pop up in the most expected location. The other day while waiting for a doctor’s appointment, I had some time to kill. When driving into the complex parking lot I’d noticed a “Grand Opening” sign on a sandwich board in front of a new antiques and collectibles store. Antiques not really my decorating style, I decided it still might be interesting to take a look and see what they had to offer. On entering the store, it gave off that same musty, dusty smell most stores of that genre seem to have. Since the store (at least according to the sign out front) had only been open a couple of weeks, it got me to wondering if that scent actually came in a spray can, like new car smell at the car wash. Perhaps it’s the Moldy Oldie fragrance collection by Air Wick or the Granny’s Attic grouping by Fabreze. At any rate, while looking at the eclectic assortment of oldies but goodies for sale along the cluttered shelves, I came across four little china egg cups. Seeing them on the shelf took my mind immediately to childhood breakfasts in my grandmother’s family home on the hill in Halifax. The main focus of the room, was the lovely picture window looking out over Halifax harbor. Always I loved being in that kitchen with my grandmother. I can see her busy at the stove, apron in place, and if I inhale deeply I can almost smell all the delicious aromas wafting through the air. Our evening meals were usually taken in the formal dining room replete with all the bells and whistles. Breakfast, however, was served with far less fanfare at the little formica table by the window in the kitchen.

My grandmother woke up precisely at 6:00 every day. If asked why in later years why she still got up so early when she could have languished in bed, she said “you have plenty of time to sleep after you die”. Before coming out to greet her day, her nylons were in place neatly secured to her undergarments beneath one of her house dresses as she referred to them. These were cotton dresses all cut from the same pattern in varying fabrics, with short sleeves and a parade of buttons marching down the front. Specifically they were worn for working around the house to keep her good clothes from getting soiled. Up until she was in her eighties, when my mother finally convinced her pants on women were not the work of the devil, did I ever see my grandmother’s knees covered by anything other than a suit, skirt or dress.

The first order of business each morning was always to prepare my grandfather’s breakfast. A urologist, his days often began quite early. Breakfast was served to him on a tray each morning in bed, accompanied by his morning paper. Very health conscious, and dealing with some health concerns himself, the menu was shredded wheat with berries, a glass of juice, one half a grapefruit and a slice of whole grain toast. A small vase with one flower from the garden was added during the summer months next to a colorful little china pot filled with Gammy’s delicious homemade marmalade. Once my grandfather had opened his paper and begun to eat, she tended next to the needs of the smallest member of the family, namely myself. Eggs were often on the menu breakfast. They came dressed up in a variety of ways, my favorite to this day being Eggs Benedict, basically poached eggs perched atop a split English muffin then smothered with buttery Hollandaise sauce. Yum. These days no one has time to whip up homemade Hollandaise, or at least I don’t. Back then, there were no packages to buy at the store to add water to. If you wanted Hollandaise, you dragged out the double boiler and whipped up a batch yourself. Another way I loved eggs was soft boiled and served in an egg cup. The shell was left on with the top sliced through (it’s hat, as my grandmother would say) and you lifted it’s hat, and dipped your toast in the gooey yolk.

Funny how smells, tastes, sounds and pictures can trigger an immediate memory of perhaps an easier time or those you particularly enjoyed. Of course, these sensory reminders can also be of traumatic or unpleasant experiences, but I’m trying to look at the bright side of the moon at the moment so let’s stay there for a while. My memories are often associated with food it seems. Always I have loved to be in the kitchen. Although I have to admit these days I do find myself tiring of coming up with new dishes to tantalize my guests. As I’ve said before they need to introduce a new meat, or at least a new vegetable for those of us who love to cook to play with. Perhaps they’ll just create a new one. My granddaughter, a vegan through and through, says other than organic vegetables and not all of those, you don’t know anymore if the vegetable you’re eating is real or was created in a lab somewhere. I think we need a new blue something, something. At the moment blueberries are kind of holding down that fort all by themselves.

I bought the little egg cups as it turned out. Did I need them? Nope, not in the least, but want won that argument and they are sitting in my china cabinet waiting for a soft boiled egg to bring them back to a useful life.

This has been a rough year. I thought last year was full of potholes but that was just the preliminary match, and, unfortunately, this year seems to be the main event. I am working on my grateful self. I am grateful the virus seems to be getting under control. I am most grateful it got a hold of me and my partner Dale, and then threw us back relatively unharmed. I am grateful all my family and his, and my friends and his, are still here to talk about what a strange year it truly was. I am simply grateful for so many things.

On the downside of things, Dale, my partner and companion, has cancer. Being asked to be grateful about this is certainly an uphill climb. Rick, my partner in crime for nearly twenty years, as I’ve mentioned many times, passed away nearly three years ago from lung cancer. In a stroke of synchronicity even I find hard to grasp, Dale has been given the same dire diagnosis. The oxygen compressor is once again humming in my spare room and questions without answers are swirling and twirling about in my head.

So, I pull up some happy thoughts and fond, fond memories of being young and free and unaware of all the sadness that life insists on being peppered with. Memories, I always feel, are tucked away to be pulled out perhaps when you need a hug and don’t have one handy, or are feeling blue and want to remember the pure joy of laughing out loud. Memory really is such a gift, and probably one we take for granted. One of the hardest things for me is to watch my mum slowly loosing her grasp on all those wonderful mental highlights she has stored away over the years. I am her memory these days and I’m okay with that. Again, I lean to the side of gratefulness and remind myself she remembers my face and that alone is money in the bank.

Sorry if this post is a bit of a song with sad lyrics. Usually I am upbeat, but even a stand up comedienne has days when he or she can’t pull a joke out of the hat.

Have a good one. Remember to not put your “I love you’s” off until a better day, there is never a better day then today. Talk soon.

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I really think we women are the queens of multi-tasking. Sometimes I stop and look at all the pies I have my fingers in and am amazed when I hit the pillow at night I don’t slip into a coma, rather than spending most of my time trying to convince my mind to go back to sleep. Part of night restlessness, of course, includes the eternal march back and forth to the bathroom that has become part of my repertoire in the last couple of years. John Phillip Sousa should have devoted some time to penning a piece about that. I have followed all the suggestions, “don’t drink anything after six”. Check. “Use the bathroom right before going to bed.” Check. I don’t drink alcohol, nor do I use any artificial sweeteners or consume processed sugar unless in small amounts. Then we get to reducing caffeine. Now, there I draw the line. Susie has got to have her coffee. Logically, it would seem if I drank coffee at 8:00 in the morning, it shouldn’t be processing through my system at 3 a.m., but apparently it can have an effect even after all that time has passed. Disappointing. Coffee is my only vice these days, and they will have to pry my favorite owl cup out of my cold dead hands before I’m giving it up. To be interesting, I believe you need to have at least one vice. This should be limited to something obviously that doesn’t cause you bodily harm, like collecting bottlecaps or being secretly addicted to Pringles. Whoops, it appears I have two vices going at the moment.

Yesterday was a grueling day at my house. The phone was relentless, as there is a lot going on in my world at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I am more than thankful I have such a wonderful and caring group of friends who keep up with me, but still sometimes my lips get worn out with making words and I have run the white flag up the pole. My list of errands was starting to get past the manageable stage, so I decided to cross some of those trips off before I had to run an add for an assistant. Also, I am having my first small dinner party since the Pandemic on Saturday night which requires I actually purchase some food to put on people’s plates. When Rick and I owned our restaurant, we entertained a lot. Looking back I wonder I had time to pull together a large dinner party with the restaurant consuming most of our time, but somehow it all got done and I enjoyed doing it. The house we lived in at the time was set up for entertaining. This little house, as sweet as it is, is more an intimate dinner party than a large gathering. More than six people under this roof would feel like a crowd. As I’ve said before I refer to my kitchen as a “two butt kitchen” because if you get more than two people in the room at once you cannot avoid some intimate contact. I tend to deflect any offers of help cleaning up, because if someone else is in there with me we spend the whole time saying, “I’m sorry”, “excuse me” and it becomes annoying rather than helpful.

Surveying my to-do list I decided to go into Home Goods first. Home Goods is my happy place. You could just lock me up in there for days, and I would never call for assistance. Specifically, I was looking for a kibble container for Boo, the Queen of Cats. I’ve had the same jar for years, with kitty paws decorating the outside, and the lid finally gave up the ghost. Rummaging about in the pet aisle, a lady joined me on the other end with a small wiener dog in tow. The dog, I’m sure much to it’s humiliation, was wearing a pink tutu and had a matching pink and white bow attached to one floppy ear. Dachshunds really are such funny little creatures, with their long tubular bodies, and short little legs. This little one immediately went to the dog toy section. Without hesitation it began politely sorting through the shelf, sniffing this toy and sniffing that one, until finding one that apparently suited its needs. Retrieving the oversized stuffed toy with it’s mouth, the animal sat politely while the owner continued looking at something on the shelf in front of her. Made me smile. The toy was nearly the size of the dog who chose it and was, appropriately, in the shape of a hot dog in a bun. Sometimes life achieves perfect harmony. When the dog’s owner saw me smiling at “Sadie”, she told me Sadie comes into the store quite often and always selects her own treat. Animals really are amazing. When I look at what’s going on in our world these days, makes me wonder if they aren’t the ones who really have things figured out not we humans.

Sometimes, in a weak moment, I think about having another dog. Boo, of course, is not ever going to raise a paw in support of this idea. My sweet old cat believes my world revolves around her furry puss, and in some ways she’s not far off. What I would have done without her over the last few years, I really don’t have an answer for. Was I to get another dog, it would have to be an adult dog, a rescue probably, and already trained. I don’t have the bandwidth at the moment to train a puppy. I have a friend who recently got a Yorkshire puppy, and this little guy has become a full time job. As much as I love animals, I simply don’t have room in my day for long walks in the park, and cleaning up deposits on my rug. Nor do I want my currently disorganized world further disorganized with pee pads, and leash training. The dog, I’m afraid, will have to come later on down the road.

In an effort to reduce my load a bit, the other day I handed the new man in my life a grocery list and sent him off to the store. Yay. Oh, not so fast. The first phone call came in about twenty minutes later. By the time he was done there were six calls in total with questions about this item or that. I could have been in and out and made a pie and had it cooling in the window by the time the trip was complete. My granddaughter went shopping with me a few years ago. Loading the bags in my trunk she said, “Nana, you are the fastest shopper I ever saw”. There’s some truth to that. I am an in and out girl, no side trips. My mother, on the other hand, when she shops, is soooooo slow. Each zucchini has to be examined. Only those passing the Mary Mack comprehensive vetting program will eventually be placed in the bag. Back when she was still living independently, I often visited her in the bay area. While there, a visit to the grocery store was often part of a day out. Mother liked to shop at several higher end stores. The kind of stores where pears are sold with little hammocks swaddling each piece of fruit. One store in particular, had a very attractive produce manager. Mother took me right up to him and while introducing the two of us went on and on about how good looking he was and that he was single. It happened I was as well at the time, so the innuendo was not lost on either of us. This hunky vegetable man kindly selected only the very best produce for my mother to take home with her. Really? Once we’d cleared the vegetable department with no matches made, we moved on to the meat department where every butcher seemed to know her name. After collecting the white packages of meat, we went on to the bakery where small pink boxes wrapped with twine marked “hold for Mary M.” would be waiting for her to pick up. It was like having a concierge grocery store at her disposal.

Grocery store, was fourth on my list yesterday. My plan was to run in and run out with only three items I needed. You know how that goes? You go in for a jar of pickle relish and come out with enough food in your cart to feed an army. While waiting in line, a lady walked through the doors not wearing a face covering. The store had an employee seated by the entrance to provide cart wipes and ostensibly welcome shoppers to the store. Secretly, I suspect they also are tasked with making sure masks are in place before people proceed any further. This lady was not happy when asked to put on a mask. For me, I’m so used to it that I don’t quite get the problem. Just put it on, do what you need to, and get over it. I could see this wasn’t going to go well. The CDC says fully vaccinated people can ditch the masks but unvaccinated people need to continue wearing him. How do you enforce that I wonder? It’s not like we get a stamp on our hands or something once our regimen of shots have been completed. People who weren’t inclined to wear masks in the first place are also likely to fall under the people who don’t want to get the vaccination in the first place umbrella. Why would you think they’d suddenly volunteer to wear one if it wasn’t mandated? Is is just me?

At any rate, this irate lady got her irritation out LOUDLY, and then stormed out of the store. K. Susie just needed her chicken, and now apparently twenty or thirty other items. Shopping seems to have become my favorite pastime lately. I like to attribute this to not being able to get out of the house for the last year and a half, but truthfully I think it’s hereditary. My mother is a consummate shopper. I have known her to arrive at a mall when it opened and remain there until nearly supper time. As a teen, I can remember helping to unload bags and packages from her trunk. These were stored in my closet out of the way of my stepfather’s watchful eyes. One by one the clothes, shoes, handbags, jewelry were introduced into the household. My stepdad would say, “Is that new”? My mother would reply, “This old thing”?

So today I am off to finish my list. Think I’ll get some fresh flowers for my table. Feels festive to have guests again. Have a great weekend.

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Yesterday I filled my car up for nearly $60. I have a mid-sized Ford Fusion so can only imagine what it’s costing owners to fill up an SUV or truck. Prices are definitely on the rise. After leaving lighter at the pumps, I stopped at the market for a pound of hamburger and some bread crumbs and left there $12 to the bad. This, not to mention, I checked out my own groceries and paid ten cents to place them in a bag.

Looking at my finances lately, I have decided I need to pare down on frills and extras such as premium movie channels, etc. I have a fire stick so really don’t need another well to draw from. As it is, I spend most of my time looking for something I want to watch. When I switched tv providers, included were a bank of premium channels for a year. This because they righteously screwed up the original installation and felt they owed me something for my inconvenience. Remembering another time when I got a similar “deal” and forgot to turn them off after the time they were given to me, I called my cable company and asked them to discontinue the free channels on the date they would become my responsibility. A half an hour later I hung up after listening to three hundred reasons why I should keep them and other deals I could involve myself in for less cash on the line. Proud of myself, I stood my ground and they are all going off next month. Yay.

I noticed immediately following that conversation ads promoting my cable company began showing up on my computer. Amazing isn’t it how they track us these days? The other day I had a conversation with my son-in-law about inflatable pools for kids. My phone was on, but sitting on the table next to us while we were talking. When I picked it up an ad popped up with a link to an inflatable pool sight. Someone, as they say, is listening. Wow. All of us with devices are being seriously tracked. I’m sure most of you have noticed you search for something on line and that item keeps showing up in ad form every site you go on after that. Kind of scary to think we’re being monitored that closely. Makes me feel like a lab rat in a cage. Next they’ll be inserting chips like Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, has under her skin so they can really keep tabs on us, or tabby as her case might be.

As you might be able to tell I’m feeling a little out of sorts. Last night I had the most ridiculous dream, which I will share with you. You’re welcome. Makes me wonder what manner of mind this is resting underneath this blonde head. In the dream I had ordered a sandwich from Subway to be delivered to my door. This is less a dream really then a reality, because since I moved here the Door Dash guy and I have added our names to each other’s Christmas lists. At any rate, as I often do, I ordered turkey. When the doorbell rang I opened the door to find a portly gentlemen standing there wearing a chef’s hat and a red bandana looking for all the world like Chef Boyardee. In very broken English he began yelling at me while shaking my sandwich wildly over your head. “Youa, not Italian”, he’s screaming. “Where’s the meata”? “Meata”, I replied? “I ordered turkey.” “That’s a no meat” he went on as parts of my sandwich began flying through the air. “Meata, likea, pepperoni, ham, salami”. “Oh”, says I. At that point I woke up to find myself giggling. There you go. I’ve completely snapped a twig. I knew it was coming after a year and a half in this house.

Finally, they say we can go about our lives once vaccinated. I cannot tell you how much I want to embrace that. There are still, unfortunately, a lot of people out there who are vaccine hesitant or consider not getting the vaccination some sort of political statement. Here we are in a country with too much vaccine in supply with people turning down what is available, while other countries who are suffering and begging for it don’t have any. Life at times, is so confusing. Once I was at a lecture on eating disorders. The speaker said, “Only in America would you find people eating the food provided for them, and then bringing it back up”, while other countries don’t have a bowl of rice to feed their children. Words to live by.

Eating disorders are sort of a consistent vein running through our family. I believe my grandmother on my mother’s side might have suffered from one. Back in her day they didn’t know much about eating disorders, but if she was around now I’m pretty sure that might have been her diagnosis. The woman weighed about ninety eight pounds soaking wet. Every day I can remember her strapping herself into a whalebone corset. Even as a child I wondered what on earth she was holding in. Also, though she was a phenomenal baker, my guess is she didn’t consume a lot of what came out of her kitchen. My mother told me once my grandmother took a laxative daily, which is a big warning sign, and as I recall she ate half of everything she put on her plate which is another one. Mother has always been hyper focused on calories. Having a chubby kid must have been sort of a puckish trick the universe played on her. Even today with the dementia she still talks about calories when sitting down to a meal. My grandfather was a doctor. Mother said he didn’t approve of excess weight, as he felt it was unhealthy, and I believe that is where some of this might be rooted. He was a kind man, so I’m sure it wasn’t ill intended, but sometimes ill intended or not the arrow still hits it’s mark.

Growing up food was always an issue in our house. My stepfather was a naturally thin person. He could consume a half a brontosaurus, lie down for a two hour nap, eat a gallon of rocky road and lose three pounds. Just how he was wired. If you got up to get seconds from his table, he would announce loudly if asked if he’d like more as well, “No, thank you. I eat to live, not live to eat.” Whatever. Thin people don’t understand the struggle of people who simply glance at a Twinkie and gain ten pounds. They simply don’t get it.

In middle school I lost my baby fat. This didn’t occur naturally, like the sun setting in the evening. My mother initiated a diet regimen for me as I requested, coupled with exercise during the summer between seventh and eighth grade. That, along with sprouting up from 5′ tall entering high school to 5′ 6 1/2″ by the time I graduated I had whittled down to fighting weight. Apparently I have also inherited my mother’s speedy metabolism, which helps to allow me to keep my weight at a manageable level, where it has remained up until this point. Nonetheless, I do show tells here and there of tendencies towards eating disorders. I watch what I eat, I never eat sweets (or very rarely), I exercise daily, and before I used to weigh myself daily (I stopped that several years ago). When I snack I usually have four soda crackers and some cheese or an apple. My one real weakness though, my dirty little secret, are my Pringles. Got to have my salt and vinegar Pringles. Should they ever run out in the stores, guaranteed I’ll be standing on a street corner somewhere negotiating a deal with some tattooed guy with a nose ring for however many cases he has in his trunk.

Will Smith posted a picture on social media of his weight gain during the pandemic. He’s not alone for sure. Almost everyone I know has packed on some pounds over the past year and a half. I’ve got a few extra I’m trying to ignore myself. Always when summer shows up and the bathing suits come out of storage I begin to survey the damage done during the winter and dust off the weights in my closet. I don’t use them mind you, but I do dust them off.

So we come out of hibernation and feel the sun on our faces once again. Wonderful. Unfortunately, our sun is shining a little too often so we are in a bad drought situation here in California with our largest reservoirs looking pretty darn sparse. I have already packed my to-go in a hurry bag just in case. With all this dry fuel, fire season could be relentless and I want to be ready to move should the need arise. The urge to relocate again is upon me and I find myself looking at other states and what they have to offer. No matter where you go the weather is becoming a problem, but boy I do hate these fires and find myself dragging my feet about stepping into summer once again.

So with that general mishmash of everything and nothing I’ll leave you for today. Have a safe and smile packed weekend.

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What a picture perfect day it is here in Northern California. I would be celebrating the glorious spring weather was it not for the wind rustling through the freshly sprouted tree leaves, distributing a fine layer of dusty golden pollen now covering my freshly washed car. I am an allergy sufferer, so each spring I pay the price for enjoying all the lovely early blooms popping up in my garden, and reveling in the happy dance of the bees hovering over my azalea bush. Last year I went in for a series of skin tests to narrow down what, in fact, was triggering the endless bouts of sneezing and perpetual drip, drip, drip of my nasal passages when April and May roll around on the calendar. When the results were in, it would appear I have checked all the boxes. Cats, check, dogs, check, mold, check, trees, hay, check. Check, check, check and on and on.

The doctor’s first suggestion, one which I have already implemented, was to use air purifiers. I put one in the living room, and the other one is happily humming away in my bedroom. Unfortunately, a full-nature model covering the planet at large isn’t available on the market as yet, so this only alters the indoor environment. Also, he told me to be sure my heater/AC vents are properly dusted, and to replace the filters often. Vacuuming and dusting regularly will help as well, something I already do, and keeping the cat outdoors if possible. Done, done and, um, not done. These suggestions have been a big help, up to to the outdoor cat situation, which simply which isn’t doable. Noticing I ignored the outdoor cat invitation, my doctor took a different tack, this time pointing a finger directly at my cat. He felt it would be better if Boo slept somewhere other than my bed and if I wished to keep a pet, I should keep her out of the bedroom entirely. Right, Dr. M., you tell Boo. She’s pretty sure that’s where she is going to be. As for me, I’m not comfortable sleeping with both doors shut to my room, nor am I inclined to get up twenty times in the wee hours to remove a reluctant feline from the bed. I’m already up three times for other reasons, if you get my drift. I mentioned casually to Boo she might consider using the lovely fleece lined cat bed I purchased for her last winter. I can’t be certain but I’m pretty sure the extended paw I got in response had only one middle claw pointed upward for emphasis. Let’s say I was getting a lot of cattitude. In her defense, this is a standard of behavior we have established over some thirteen years, and neither of us is looking to change it any time soon. The third choice he gave me, which I liked the best of the three, was for me to begin a series of allergy shots. Apparently, these shots can prove very effective in lowering a persons allergic response to irritants. That is, of course, unless I prove allergic to shots, which isn’t entirely off the table. Where do I sign up? I start in two weeks. Have to wait until the Covid shot effects are completely out of my body. So, Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, will continue to sleep on the pillow next to me in my new bed, and I will continue to regale her with her much needed belly rubs and brush her eternally molting coat. Life is good.

Aside from the allergies, I have asthma. Essentially I signed up for the whole litter of the breathing spectrum kiddies. I went to pick up my inhaler the other day, my first refill of 2021. $285 lighter, I received my teeny tiny small bag from the pharmacy clerk for my donation and went out in my car to weep in private. My deductible allows for one whopping price tag at the beginning of the year, and this was the one for 2021. Don’t get me started on drug prices. I pay a small fortune for health insurance to fill in the gaps that Medicare doesn’t pay. On top of that, I pay a prescription drug plan costing another third of a Hamilton to cover my medication, and yet still lay out $285 for an inhaler. It is not like this is a face cream where I have a choice on which one I select, or the option to not to select one at all. I need my inhaler to breathe. What do people do who do not have $285 to lay down on the counter? Gets my Irish up.

As I said one can choose or not choose how much to pay for beauty products. My mother, for example, always did her shopping at the Lancome counter at Nordstrom’s. If we were shopping of a day we’d often drop by to pick up her latest batch of high priced beauty products as well as the little gift bag usually handed to her by the copiously fragrant and perfectly put together sales girl at the end of her hefty purchase. You can tell you are in the high rent section of a store when you get a gift bag for buying something at the counter. In my case, I generally get my beauty products at the local drugs store where they charge you $ .10 if you wish to have a bag for your items, and it is plastic not pink or lilac, and doesn’t come with a little fabric tie. What I’m saying here is I could live nicely without any beauty products, though undoubtedly I would live alone, but an inhaler isn’t an opt in or opt out kind of decision I can make. The drug companies have us backed in a corner and they know it. It’s like the oil companies. Unless everyone is going to run out and purchase a Tesla, we are going to continue to have to pay whatever the price is at the pump that the traffic will bear. It would make me nervous I think to have an all electric car. What if you’re driving in the middle of the desert and you can’t find a place to recharge? A bad memory I have is going over the grapevine once in the dead of winter across snow packed highways. I had borrowed a friend’s diesel Mercedes to make the trip as my car was in the shop. At the time diesel wasn’t sold as readily as it is now and I found myself on a steep grade late at night with the gas gauge needle pointed directly at E. Thankfully, a huge amount of commercial trucks travel that particular route so I located a station with a diesel pump before I had to pull over to the side of the road and wait for my extremities to begin to go numb.

Well there’s my hump day hump. I’m done now. Thank you for allowing me to vent. I hope your week is without frustration and running as quietly as a Tesla on a deserted country road (hopefully with a recharge station). Talk soon. Stay safe.

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This week has been hectic. I feel a bit like I’ve been running a marathon and finally crossed the finish line, tired but not beaten. Whew. My mother celebrated a milestone birthday. In deference to the fact she doesn’t like her age revealed, let’s just say she’s not a centurion as yet, but she’s marching steadily in that direction. I am seriously hoping we will be celebrating her 105th birthday one of these days. Since we are both fully vaccinated and past the two week grace period following the second shot, I got to hug her for the first time in a year. Cannot tell you how satisfying that was. Contact with other living creatures is so important to our well being, or at least I know it is for mine.

Even animals need companionship. Last night on the news they featured a story about a stray dog in North Carolina. The dog, a one year old male, had repeatedly sneaked into a Dollar Store when customers opened the door to visit a stuffed purple unicorn. Store employees, exhausting all efforts to deter the animal from entering the store, finally called in Animal Control to arrest the pup for breaking and entering. The officer, after assessing the situation, and the potential criminal, dropped $10 on the counter for the unicorn and took the dog and stuffed back to the animal shelter with her to look for a new home. Sisu, named by shelter employees after a character in Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, has now found his forever home with the condition he and the unicorn be adopted together. Awwwww. I don’t know why, I just love that story.

We all need someone to love. I know my step is a bit lighter these days having someone to do for and go places with again. I am fine by myself and quite able to build a live without a mate, but I have to say I find more satisfaction when I have another being in my life to share things with. Aside from having my family, and a new man in my life, truly I am blessed with such a great group of friends. I wouldn’t trade any one of these beings for anything in the world. Well, except perhaps a lifetime supply of In N Out burgers or one night with Nick Nolte as he looked in the Prince of Tides. Just kidding (well, almost). As you get further along in life, the people who populate your world become far more important and rich than what you possess or what you perceive you need.

Today my new bed is arriving. It is with mixed feelings I say goodbye to the old one. Rick had just bought it when we first met. We spent our first days on that bed and our last days together lying next to one on that mattress. Like all things, its time has come to an end. My back is shaking my hand heartily every day for making this decision, though the cat is far less enthusiastic about it. We had to dismantle the whole bed on Friday night. A young couple was coming Saturday to claim the headboard, foot board, and frame. The mattresses had to be wrapped in plastic so the delivery men would take them, and the whole frame needed a general sprucing up, including a good dusting and some paint touch up. What’s old to me, became new and fresh in these young people’s eyes. They were so happy to get the bed and appreciative it was in good condition. I have peace knowing though the mattress will be heading wherever old mattresses end their days, the frame will have a new life somewhere else creating new memories. Boo, the Queen of cats, made a total scene once was everything was disassembled. The cat’s days are spent either with her furry head bent over her bowl, her paws busy covering up whatever new deposit she has left for me in her litter box, or perched atop three pillows like the Princess and the Pea on the right side of my bed. Having her nest temporarily dismantled was cause for much feline alarm and anxiety. Lacking access to kitty Prozac, yesterday I actually had to reassemble the mattresses on the floor so she could wipe the sad, pitiful look off her cat face and settle in again until the new bed arrived. It is becoming patently obvious who’s running this show of late.

So the delivery men just left. What a difference paring down to a queen size bed has made in my room. Wow. I can actually get to both sides of the bed with room to spare to change the sheets without hanging with my knees over a trapeze to pull the sheet over the side by the wall. Yay. I bagged up all my king size sheets on Saturday and ran an ad on Facebook reading “Five Sets of Beautiful King Size Sheets – Free”. Before I pushed “publish” I had ten people in the queue. Goodness. One lady asked if I delivered. When I asked where she lived, it turned out to be a 45 minute drive from here each way. Now, let me answer that in the kindest way possible. I am giving you a bag full of really nice linens at no cost to you except whatever gas it requires to get here. The simplest answer would be, “No, I do not deliver.” I never mind doing something extra for someone but this lady simply told me she had a busy life and simply didn’t have time to run about collecting sheets. Okay. I too have a busy life and don’t have time to run around delivering sheets which is why I posted an ad which read “Whoever wants these must pick them up”. Instead a lovely young girl with little ones in tow showed up. She thanked me profusely and said she could really use them so I was glad she was the one to take them home.

Also over the weekend my new coffee table was delivered. I had two poufs in front of my couch for two and a half years. They were very nice and visually interesting but I was getting tired of restuffing and cleaning them constantly. Since I was already sinking into the debt pool with the bed, why not submerge completely and add a coffee table to the canoe? The poufs were in great condition and fairly large. I have found if you put free on almost anything and place it by the curb it grows legs and disappears fairly quickly. I had an old love seat when I married to my ex-husband. We kept it in the garage so he could sit down out there when he was working in the shop area. As you might imagine, it picked up a few stains around all that grease and the rusty tools. When we decided it was time for it to go I suggested we move it to the curb and put a sign on it reading “Take Me”. My husband said no one would want that old thing so we made a wager. $10 to me if it was gone by sundown and $10 to him if it was not. Shortly after moving it to the curb, we went to the market leaving the love seat there with it’s sign. By the time we returned there was no love seat just another sign reading “Thank You”. Nice. Within ten minutes of putting the poufs by the curb with a similar sign and a heart a Jeep went by, applied the brakes, backed up and snatched the two poufs and they disappeared down the road. Yay. Life, as they say, is good.

The coffee table looks great. Buying it sight unseen was a little iffy, but it turned out to be the perfect choice. Not having bought it from a large furniture store, it was up to us to assemble it. At one point we realized we had gotten to the fourth and last leg and done it wrong. This meant going back and undoing all the work we’d done on the first three. I rarely imbibe anymore, but I have to admit when that realization sunk in, my thoughts immediately went to a margarita in an icy glass. Darn, darn, darn. Good news, we really tightened the screws as we went so it was such a pain to undo. By the time we were done, I couldn’t look at that piece of furniture for a while without wanting to set a match to it. Now, however, I love it. All good.

So, my house is set. The delivery men had quite a time getting the bed in. This house was built in the 1930’s. Like many of that era, it has small rooms with hard angles. One of the guys stepped in the cat litter box, fortunately pristine, and dumped it all over the floor. The other one knocked down two pictures trying to get the box spring around the corner. That’s why they hire young strong men to deliver this stuff. Thank God they assembled it all before they left. Didn’t think I had another afternoon of that in me for this week.

Well, I’ll quit for now. Have a great day! Vaccinations, one step closer to freedom and getting our lives back. All my Covid symptoms that had been hanging on have dissipated since getting my second shot. So thankful.

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It’s been a long week. Had my second Covid vaccination on Monday, which landed me in bed for a few days. My way of dealing with pain to discomfort is to sleep my way through it. Put me somewhere comfortable, throw me a pillow and a blanket, and leave me alone until I rise again.

I have some experience with illness. Over the years I’ve had my share of major surgeries. As I’ve said previously, with each marriage, I donated a body part to science. Having four marriages to my credit, this has required significant sacrifice on my part. I hardly show up on an ex-ray any more. If you look at it through that lens, I really can’t risk another “I do”. Fortunately, all the essential pieces remain, so I continue to chug along like a well tuned engine, or at least one with most of it’s workable parts. Each day I am thankful for that.

I’m not a particularly good patient. I hate being sick, but I’m sure no one really looks forward to it. As a child if I became ill, I hesitated to mention it. My grandmother, though having given up her career to raise her family, had been an R.N. My grandfather and two uncles were physicians, one a pediatrician. I can remember the first time I mentioned I had a tummy ache to my grandmother. Back in her day, they treated everything from ring worm to jaundice with a good dose of cod liver oil. You think it sounds bad? You should taste it. Before I could emit another burp, my grandmother was standing before me, spoon extended, telling me to open and swallow. Leading the lambs to slaughter, I say. I had no idea what was in that spoon. I was belching cod for two days. Next my uncles would show up or my grandfather. I would be prodded and poked like a significant find at an archaelogical dig. If anything was amiss, usually not serious, I would be tucked in bed with a hot water bottle and dosed back to health.

It wasn’t enough as a child I leaned towards, and landed right on top of, being chubby. My mother and grandmother, both fabulous hands in the kitchen, equated food with love, and I was ladled out a generous serving of both. To add insult to injury, I had been born with a lazy eye, my left. Surgery not an option until I was older, glasses were prescribed to help correct the situation. In an effort to strengthen the eye, one lens covered with a patch. It gave me the look of a pudgy, midget pirate. Lovely. Fortunately, I had childhood friends more concerned with my genius prowess at hide and go seek, or my fear of almost nothing they suggested, that kept me socially acceptable in spite of my physical limitations. This generosity did not always extend to kids who did not know me, however, leaving me open for comments like “four eyes” and “ahoy, matey”, making the glasses my least favorite accessory.

Corrective eye surgery was scheduled when I was seven. The procedure has to be done when you are young, with any likelihood of success. The opthamologist, a family friend, and colleague of my grandfathers, assured my worried mother all would be wonderful once the procedure was behind me. The day of the surgery I was a bit scared, but it was nothing when compared to my mother’s anxiety. Being her “only chick” as she always called me, she didn’t have a spare to replace me should I come to a nasty end. The doctor came in to reassure and explain what to expect, the pre-surgery relaxer was administered, and off I went. Unfortunately, the all would be wonderful part fell through a crack in the operating room floor. The surgical nurse tasked with dilating my eyes with a diluted solution of Atroprine, accidentally used concentrated, causing a huge reaction by my little body. My face swelled up, I got welts all over, and was generally a hot mess. The concern beyond the obvious physical reactions was my eyesight would be permanently affected. Sigh. So, home I went, still one lazy eye and now so much more. For two months my grandmother took care me. Every day I had eye washes and then gooey salves. Eventually my eyesight returned to where it had been pre-surgery and my face, though still fat, was no longer swollen. Mother, so afraid of having me lose my vision or worse never signed me up again for the procedure. The window of opportunity before my teens passed, and thus my eyesight has remained poor in my left eye the rest of my life. Thankfully, my right eye is a total trouper, and the aesthetics of the condition barely noticeable unless I point it out or I’m extremely tired. To this day I have one hazel eye and one pale gray. This particular side effect is rather effective, so I don’t mind it so much. One should have a little character in one’s face. Shear perfection can be such a bore. (Insert smile here.)

At nine I had my tonsils removed. We had moved to California at that point and started our new lives with my first stepfather. He had family in Southern California, so we were livin’ the dream in Fullerton not far from Disneyland. They don’t warn you ahead of time how sore removing those little soft tissue masses makes your throat. Tonsillectomies were a regular scheduled surgery back then. These days they are more hesitant about doing them. The bonus for an eater such as myself was the copious amount of ice cream coming my way once I got home. Often I attribute this first body part donation to my stepfather. As I remember he was always suggesting I be quiet, and the gods have big ears so I’ve heard, so he got his way. Fortunately for all of us he moved on, or was nudged on his way, three years later and Mother and I found ourselves on our own. For me it was Independence Day. There was no love lost between my stepfather and I, and whether my mother realized it or not at the time or not his being out of our lives was a breath of fresh air in her lungs as well. Kids grow up fast, in my experience, when their parents get dysfunctional. Sometimes we can see the clearer picture at our tender age, better than they can because they’re all wrapped up in the drama. Certainly I have been dysfunctional more than once in my life, and I’m sure my children’s therapists have benefited well from my missteps.

Other than losing my wisdom teeth around eighteen there was a blissful hiatus in the migration of my body parts until I was 24, married, and wrangling two toddlers. Along with two of my husband’s brothers and their families, we had gotten away for a camping trip in glorious Rosarita Beach, in Baja, Mexico. What a lovely spot to forget your problems. Gorgeous sandy beaches, fresh sea air, and margaritas at sunset. Lovely. While there I began feeling a bit under the weather. As the weekend passed my symptoms became more pronounced. Not the best timing. Though I’m sure their hospitals would have taken good care of me, it was a long drive for a family visit should I have to be admitted. Deciding our best option was to head home, we returned the following day. Monday I went back to work, still feeling far less than on top of my game. Around noon a co-worker found me in the ladies room in distress. Somehow I drove myself to Kaiser Hospital in Los Angeles where my husband worked. Unbeknownst to me I had begun to bleed profusely from a nearly ruptured ovarian cyst. Arriving in the E.R. where my husband had already checked me in I was quickly ushered into an examining room. Five serious faces stood over me discussing my body like I was a prize ham at auction. Within a half an hour I had signed a paper allowing them to remove everything from my right ear lobe to left butt cheek. Apparently this was exploratory surgery which meant they were going to gain access to your innermost selfness. Swell. Hours later I woke up in the recovery room lighter by one ovary. They told me I had an angel on my shoulder (I knew it!) because had I waited another 24 hours the cyst might have ruptured and we might not have been having this conversation. K. Back then there wasn’t laser surgery where they just drilled a little hole and vacuumed the offending organ out of you. Oh no. They honed their cutting skills on your skin. When I finally saw the incision it looked like a long smiley face below my belly button about three inches. They called it a “bikini line”. Looked more like a clothesline. The opening was secured with what looked like chips clips which were apparently the only defense between my insides oozing out to the outside. Ewwwww.

Once I had been checked out thoroughly in the recovery room a nurse came to take me to the surgical ward for a few days. By that time the discomfort had reached my brain and though still groggy I found myself able to enunciate, PAIN MEDS!!!!! In my new bed, I came up out of my drug induced fog enough to notice another bed in the room, unoccupied. Yay. No witness to observe the sniveling and whining I was sure I was going to be doing. That first day after major surgery is always a blur. Nurses and doctors flow in and out in a haze hanging bags of fluid on the tree growing out of the floor next to you, monitors beeping and blinking, and your mind willing the hours away until the pain backs off and you are home in your own bed. Somewhere later in the day a very large lady was wheeled in and deposited in the bed on the other side of the room. We didn’t exchange pleasantries because, a) my fuzzy tongue couldn’t gather enough energy to form words, and b) there was nothing pleasant about being in that situation. Blissfully sleep consumed most of my time. My mother’s face hovered over me a time or two, as did my husbands. He told me later I told him “Run, save yourself. The ants are coming. Take care of the children”.

Later that night a voice permeated my dream state. “Lady”, it said. “Yes”, my mind answered. Annoyingly, the voice kept coming in with the same message. “WHAT”, said my mind sending a message to my eyes to open. “Are the ants here”? Blurrily canvasing the room I could see the lady in the other bed waving at me. Really? Now we’re exchanging greetings? Somewhere in the fog I heard her say I needed to get the nurse. Now, the absurdity of that statement even in my condition did not miss it’s mark. I couldn’t even get out of the bed to relieve myself and this woman wanted to me to get the nurse? Not happening, no matter how many times you wave at me. Then she screamed. Okay, okay. The “nurse button” they had given me had fallen to the side of the bed. I reached with my hand trying to locate the cord without inducing any of the pain associated with any movement of my nether regions. Ow. Finally I found it and summoned enough energy to depress the button. Shortly the room was a bee hive of energy. People were moving in and out, words were flying, and the bed lady was in full voice yelling the top of her lungs. Help. Drifting back into my fog, a while later I thought I heard a baby cry. “Hi baby”. The following morning a nurse came in to change my IV drip. Relating a bit of my dream to her as best I was able, she told me the lady in the other bed had delivered a healthy baby boy about 3 a.m. Apparently she was scheduled for a C-section early in the morning but the baby decided to go ahead and make an early exit the normal way. Wow. She thanked me for pushing the nurse button. “Did I”? Wow. Later that day a small bouquet showed up on my tray table with a note reading, “Thanks for the help. Baby Boy Dalton”. Awwww, you’re welcome.

Had I stopped at that marriage, I might still be intact. Some lessons are harder learned than others but I was glad to help a little one on his way.

Have a great Saturday. Two vaccinations down, I am happy to say I am finally done and ready to greet the world again.

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Ladies, have you looked at the clothes showing up on the racks in the stores for spring? Good Lord. There were a lot of blowsy cuts, I noticed. Most probably this is due to the added girth most if us have welcomed aboard since the pandemic started, and the designers wanted to leave room for the spreadage (I know that isn’t a word, but I like it). They are showing a lot of cottony ruffled bordered numbers with small prints. I call them “The Laura Ingalls Wilder Collection”. On a small framed person like myself with long thin legs these sort of dresses look like a tea cozy draped over a pair of chopsticks. Ach. Not that I need any clothes, mind you. The pandemic has given me ample opportunity for doing a little shopping on line. Next week, I have promised myself I’m going to begin the process of sorting and eliminating items either never wear or simply don’t like, and selling them or tossing them in the donate bin.

One year when living in my old house, I purged my closets and drawers making enough off what I sold to cover redoing my deck. It’s surprising how much fat is tucked away in drawers, storage units, sheds and closets. When I pared down my mother’s things after moving her into assisted living, I could not believe what I found. In one zippered hanging bag I found a mink stole with two minks still clinging to it. Their expressions were as horrified as mine was. Ach. Glad you don’t see much of that anymore. Amazingly, that coat sold for over a hundred dollars to someone who wanted it for a Halloween costume. I have a friend who has supported two storage units for ten years. The units are full of stuff she never uses or even looks at. At over $200 a month that adds up. When I was selling my last house, I packed up one half of what was in it in anticipation of moving. During the six months it took to get the house ready for sale, and sell it, I never missed one thing packed away in those boxes. That spoke volumes to me. When I moved in here to a much smaller space, I immediately had a huge yard sale relieving myself of half of what I’d stored. What didn’t sell, I donated. The sale provided me with a little mad money for my new digs, while lightening my load. Sadly, since then, the inevitable migration of new belongings has begun once again and is starting to encroach on my territory. Where I had tons of storage space after unloading my excess household goods, somehow I have managed to refill the gaps with new stuff I didn’t need. Sigh.

It has been my week in the universe it seems for buying things. First, my land line started making a sound like I was squishing tin foil while speaking on it. Normally, I would defer to my cell phone, but it’s not working either. I finally located the “phone guy” at the “phone store” and he reconfirmed my cell phone was terminal and it was time to put it out of it’s misery. Swell. Sooooo, I upgraded two models. Even at that, the model I chose was probably obsolete by the time I signed the credit card receipt. I was told it was $50 down plus monthly payments. Okie. When I got the credit card receipt it read $100. When I asked about the discrepancy, I was told the extra $50 was for taxes, processing, shipping, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. The et ceteras will get you every time. Why don’t they say $100 down? They don’t, because you probably wouldn’t buy the phone. Precisely the same reason they post signs for $19.99 rather than $20.00. Sounds so much less but that penny isn’t going to buy you much. I said fine. What is one to do? At any rate, it’s on it’s way. Meanwhile, I am sending up smoke signals in the front yard if I need to get a message to someone. Next, I called my phone provider to inquire about my land line. The representative at the phone company said it was probably a line problem. If it is a line problem, they pay for it. If not, the customer does. (That would be me.) I could sign up for a maintenance agreement for a mere blah blah blah monthly. Could I? Ahhhhh, I miss the good old days when you went to the phone company and picked out a phone, took it home, plugged it in, and if anything went wrong they either sent a repairman or gave you a new phone. Life was good. The more complicated the technology, the more expensive either the repair or replacement becomes. The rep also said to check the line they would have to shut down my phones which most likely would result in the need to reset all my TV’s, computers etc. connected to the phone line. I’m pretty sure that is a nightmare waiting to happen. Guess I can tolerate a little tinfoil for a bit.

Putting the phone situation to bed, I sat down at my laptop. I was told recently it’s lifetime is also getting shorter, and I would have to invest in a new one within the next year or so. Okie. The sound system has suddenly developed a hiccough where it comes and goes at random. Each week I have a Zoom meeting and this week I missed easily half of it. The other participants were tiring of me saying “could you repeat that please”. Sorry. Do you suppose the angels are sending me a message? That’s what someone suggested to me. Who am I to say? It is odd every one of my electronic devices is having sound problems. Maybe I’m supposed to be hearing something I’m missing? If so, I’M LISTENING. Oh, too loud? I’m listening.

I also spent some sleepless nights (no pun intended) agonizing over whether to dish out some cold cash for a new bed, finally caving (because I was literally) I dug out my credit card and wiped off the mold. Ouch. Rick and I bought this bed when we were first together. The mattress has never been replaced and Boo and I are having trouble finding our happy place at night to drift off to sleep. It’s a California King, which is a lot of bed for one small human and a chubby feline. Also, my bedroom is too small for a bed of this size so I had to push it against one wall to make it work. I am worn out doing my aerobics routine every week in order to change the sheets. There is an odd sadness in me at the thought of seeing the bed go out the front door. Another piece of the puzzle of my old life being replaced by something new, but it feels right. Some nights I feel as if I am sinking into the great abyss when I turn over on my side, and my back is starting to complain when I have to climb out of it in the morning. Time for a change. I asked if the delivery guys would take the old mattress. I was told they would if it had no stains and was in a bag. A bag? What, I have to wrap it? Is one of them having a birthday? Someone should have told me. I don’t think I have any tissue that size. Determining there were no stains, I went to Amazon. God bless good old Amazon. I believe if I searched for flea powder specific to Koala bears, I would find it on Prime. Finding what I needed, I ordered the appropriate bags. I suppose I could have opted to take it to the dump myself but I don’t think it would have squeezed into the back seat of my Fusion. The problem with buying a smaller bed, I bought a queen, is now I have gorgeous sheets and linens that don’t fit the new bed. Again, dusting off my credit card, I purchased all the accoutrements necessary for a queen size bed and signed my life away. Ah well. It’s going to be great. That’s me, telling me, I’m okay.

Update, my new phone just showed up on my front porch. The phone rep spent some time relating explicit instructions in so far that they would not deliver the phone due to it’s value (I have paid less for cars), if I wasn’t here to sign for it. Yet, miracle of miracles, there it was sitting on my front porch ripe for picking. Glad I was home. I would have been seriously irritated to find a notice of delivery in my email with no phone in sight. Also, I paid extra to have it delivered quickly, so there’s that.

Sometimes life keeps sending messages your way and you have to clean the wax out of your ears to catch them. What the messages are in this case, I have no single clue, but I am listening intently. I don’t mean to be impolite, but I wish they would speak up. I had my hearing checked recently and the results weren’t pretty. Years of earphones jammed in my ears transcribing letters, apparently did not serve me well. It’s not like I’m deaf, but certain tones are definitely fading. I have one dear friend who is in the habit of beginning what she is saying in a loud and clear voice, then dropping down to what I call her “conspiratorial tone” at the end of her sentences. I always find myself looking around in case the FBI is in the vicinity and we’re under surveillance. We have had discussions about this, because I find myself saying “pardon me” on a fairly regular basis with her, but it’s pretty much embedded in her behavior patterns at this point. She’s a generous word sharer like myself, so like Rick used to say when I was chatting away in the car, “if I miss a word or two, the earth is not going to stop rotating”. Thank you Sweetie.

Tomorrow, I get my second Covid vaccination. I hope it is kinder to me than the first, which created two rough days of symptoms before easing up. In two weeks I can hug my grandchildren, so I will show up for the appointment and deal with whatever comes with it. Yay.

People are having mask burning parties. I’m a little more cautious. It still surprises me we continue to make mask wearing a political issue rather than a medical issue. You’d think they were asking us to pull on a suit if armor before leaving the house rather a small piece of fabric. I just roll with the waves these days. This will pass and life will return to normal, or whatever normal is.

Have a great Sunday. Beautiful here so definitely a walk in my future. Thank you again for signing up and for those of you who tune in regularly.

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Last night I tuned in the Oprah interview with Prince Harry and Meagan Markle. I’m not normally a “royal watcher” but have admit I was curious as to the particulars of why the glamorous couple dropped out of the royal circle. The royal family was an integral piece of my fabric, at least for the first nine years I existed on the planet. Growing up in Canada, the Queen was part of my everyday life. At school we pledged our allegiance to the Queen and at hockey games we all joined our voices to sing “God save our gracious queen”.

British roots run deep all over the world. I remember Rick speaking about his grandmother, a British expatriate married to his maternal grandfather, an Egyptian. Though she had taken up residence in Egypt and assumed Egyptian citizenship, by all rights she was still British to the core. Tea was served every day precisely at four, and all news of the royal family was consumed by her like a piece of ripe cheddar discovered by a hungry mouse. Rick told me when he was in high school his grandmother wanted him to sport a quiff just like Prince Charles. For those of you not up on your quiffs, a quiff is described in the dictionary as a piece of hair, especially on a man, brushed upward and backward from the forehead of British origin. There you go, a new piece of information you really didn’t need to have. Rick, more influenced by what was going on in the U.S. at the time, told me the Prince Charles quiff never materialized because he leaned more towards James Dean. Looking at the pictures of both the prince and the actor, I don’t see much deviation, speaking to the hair only. Just saying.

It is difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff in the prolific amount of royal gossip floating about. God knows there are more than enough wild accusations to go around. When Prince Harry speaks of what the press did to his mother’s life, it takes me back to my trip to England. While there we visited Harrod’s. Harrod’s is the outrageously expensive department store, even by London standards, at the time owned by Mohamed Al-Fayed, the father of Dodi Al-Fayed. Dodi was both in the car and in a romantic relationship with the princess at the time of the car accident in which they both perished. On the ground floor of the store is a statue and a candle-lit shrine to honor the couple. The food court there was one of the highlights of the trip for this foodie with the most gorgeous displays of edible products I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. If you ever get there be sure to add this to your to-do list.

When we were done shopping (we bought a bar of soap for 15 pounds), we boarded one of the ubiquitous two tiered red buses seen all over the city and headed for the palace to watch the changing of the guards. Ever since listening to my grandmother read Buckingham Palace from A.A. Milne’s book of poems, When We Very Young, this was a spectacle I had wanted to see in person.

The palace itself did not disappoint. An enormous sprawling structure covering several blocks, wrapped tightly by a line of wrought iron fencing. The palace guards, like in Milne’s poem, stood a vigilant watch in the courtyard. Tourists could be seen easing close to them trying to tease a change of expression from their stoic faces. Never once did I see any of them so much as twitch a lip. The ceremony was full of pomp and circumstance, replete with golden horse drawn carriages and parades of synchronized palace guards. Though we looked in through the iron gating, we never got a glimpse of the Queen peeking back at us through the endless banks of windows. I’m sure tourists were not a new event in her life prompting much curiosity on her part.

Imagine being born into the purple, as they say, with a silver spoon proudly sticking out from your cupid bow lips. What a weight that must be. People view growing up in a royal family as some sort of Cinderella tale, but I have a feeling there are many dark sides to the titles and riches hidden behind those heavy brocade velvet curtains. Some people say we choose where we are to be born and to whom. That being true, I know I would never have chosen such a path for myself. My shackles go up if someone pokes through my mail, can only imagine how I’d respond to having paparazzi lurking about taking pictures of every move I made. Certainly it did not end well for Princess Diana. The poor princess was literally hounded to death.

Leaving the palace behind, we hailed a Bersey to take us to the Tower of London. They’re not called Bersey’s any more, Berseys were the original London cabs. All electric vehicles,”Berseys” got their name from Walter C. Bersey, the original designer. They were also nicknamed “hummingbirds” because of the sound the engines made when running being similar to a hummingbird’s wings. The cabs are black and all have sort of a vintage look to them. The cabbies, or so we found, were mostly chatty and full of information about what was passing beyond the windows and whatever destination was on our agenda. They had little guessing to do to discern we were not Londoners, as neither of us spoke like a native. Most probably all the attention to the tour guide portion of the program was directly related to the hope of receiving a good tip once we’d arrived.

In truth, though the palace was interesting to see, the Tower of London was my favorite of the historical attractions I visited while in London. Cold, dank, and creepy, like I imagined it would be, but far smaller than I had thought. Standing in it’s halls it was easy to picture a group of rowdy rough cut men seated at the rustic table in the main hall. Picture them laughing and talking while stuffing their faces with greasy hands holding huge turkey legs, that were washed down with generous cups of stout. I stood on the spot where Ann Boleyn was executed for treason next to a fence with a raven perched on it eyeing me like I was a fat little field mouse.The ravens, so it is prophesied, if ever deserting their posts at the Tower would signal the end of the Tower as well as Britain itself. A half dozen or so of the birds, wings clipped, are kept on the property at all times. I would assume “just in case”.

This growing rift in the British monarchy could prove a disastrous blow to the firm as they call it. The monarchy is a business and a very profitable business at that. Queen Elizabeth rates among the richest women in the world. How the British media shines a light on them is key to how successfully that business thrives. Every family has dirty laundry, it is left to them whether to keep it in the hamper or hang it on the line for the neighbors to see. These days I have many more pressing (a little laundry humor) things to worry about then whether the Prince of Wales is having a bad day, though I don’t wish the man ill.

None of us really know our neighbors. I wonder often if we ever really know even our closest allies. Unless you have actually lived in their bodies you can’t know what they feel, separate truth from fiction, or make a fair assessment of their character so better to leave judgement to someone more qualified. Life is hard, even for the privileged. Things get muddied and the karmic slate gets written on.

Have a safe day. Rain here and perhaps thunder. Love a good electrical storm.

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A friend of mine lost his old dog recently. Missing furry companionship, he has been toying (a little dog humor) with the idea of opening up his home to a rescue. In an effort to help him find a small breed dog, I looked through some adoption sites showcasing available dogs in our area. So many eager, and some pitifully sad, faces looked back at me. Each new picture tugged at my heartstrings. The largest percentage of potential adoptees on all the sites I visited were definitely pitbulls or pitbull mixes, followed by other larger breeds such as German shepherds, mastiffs or boxers. Even though I enjoy dogs of all size, I lean toward smaller breeds. Large breeds need space, something that is a premium at my house. Also, being small myself, I sometimes find bigger breeds a lot to handle. Scattered in between the pictures of the larger breeds, smaller faces were also represented. Lots of dogs in this group were tagged “seniors”. I wondered if perhaps these dogs had owners who, like themselves, had a little mileage on them. Perhaps the owners had either passed away or moved into a retirement facility and had been unable to take their pets with them. Senior animals require special hearts to offer them a home. Little kids pulling on their ears or dragging them by their tails would probably not be activities a senior animal might enjoy. Older dogs are more likely to have health issues requiring more vet outlays, and won’t be with you as long as a younger pet would. They will, however, usually be so very grateful for your kind attention and give you lots of love and appreciation in return.

Some of the animals on the sites I visited were labeled “eviction dogs”. This tag identified them as pets sacrificed by their owners when the owners had been dispossessed by eviction. Their people moved on, having to leave their beloved pets behind. In most cases the owners couldn’t take their animals with them so left them at a rescue, but in others they simply abandoned them at the house or wherever they’d been staying. I’d like to think perhaps the owners had no choice. However, I believe we always have a choice when it comes to doing the right thing. How terrified a family pet would be to find their owners gone and no food in their bowls or nowhere to find shelter. Animals trust us to do our best by them. I am always disappointed when we don’t even come close to measuring up to that bar.

On the opposite side of the coin there are people like my dear friends in the Bay Area who have now “adopted” eleven cats. They are not an organized cat rescue by any means, just two nice people with a soft spot for puddy cats. Three of the eleven cats are siblings. All are beautiful white cats with distinctive eyes, one blue and the other greenish yellow. Neighbors left them on the front porch of their recently sold home and moved away. Word out in the neighborhood there was a soft touch down the street, the three made their way to my friend’s front door and were welcomed into the fold. These cat rescuers provide not only a home and three squares a day but make sure the animals are neutered and all their vet needs taken care of.

I too have a huge soft spot when it comes to animals. When looking for a volunteer opportunity when I first moved to the mountains, I jumped at an ad asking for volunteers at the local shelter. When filling out the volunteer application, in the section titled Areas of Interest, I checked the box next to dog walker. Upon meeting me in person, the staff decided putting me in the cat section would be a better fit. They explained some of the dogs were big, muscular animals, and the owner felt I might have trouble managing them by myself. Once I became familiar with the routine I looked forward every week to seeing the sweet faces peering at me out of the cages. Some had been abused so hid under blankets or in cocoons provided for them, but most of them were excited to have a good ear rub and a clean cage so were glad to see me. The kitten cage got most of the attention, but the older residents came and went at a steady pace too. Even if I got attached I was always delighted to see one of them leave out the front door.

Pitbulls were the primary breed at that facility as well. Curious, I asked why. According to the owner, people often got pitbulls as puppies only to find when the animals matured they couldn’t control them. Also, as per their reputation, some of the dogs leaned toward aggressive behavior or had been trained to be aggressive. Pitbull lovers will argue this point, but it certainly seems true it is often that breed mentioned when a vicious dog attack is reported. For me if I have an animal in my home I don’t ever want him to be scoping me out as a lunch order.

At this stage in my life, it’s a cat for me. I enjoy the freedom sharing space with a cat provides me. Boo does not require a walk or three every day, uses a litter box to relieve herself, and though she loves me immensely (or so I’ve convinced myself) the cat does not need me present 24/7 for her to enjoy her quality of life.

Over the years, I’ve had cats, dogs, rabbits. hamsters, birds and fish. At the time my kids entered high school our roll call included two cats, two dogs, and a rabbit. An entire wall in the garage was devoted to storing dog kibble, cans of wet dog food, cat food, cat litter, rabbit food, and flea abatement products. The local pet shop sent us a thank you note over the holidays for keeping them afloat. The two dogs included Sushi, a four year old Shih Tzu, and Barnaby, a three month old golden retriever. Barnaby was husband No. 2’s dog. Before he came to live with us I felt we had enough players on the field with three kids, one dog, two cats and the bunny. However, after much cajoling, I caved in, and the search began for a puppy. Apparently Sushi was a little fru-fru for my husband. He preferred larger, more “manly” dogs. Insert testosterone here. After many visits to local breeders, Barnaby was selected from a boisterous litter of eight pups. The first thing my husband noticed about him was his exuberant personality. The first thing I noticed about him was paws the size of Clydesdale hooves. At first we called him Atticus, after Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (my favorite movie). Enduring two weeks of hearing my kids yelling, “Abacus” and “Attica” when calling their new puppy, a family meeting was held and the easier to remember name of Barnaby was agreed on.

My husband’s job took him on the road about three weeks out of four. Though Barnaby was to be his dog, I had a sinking feeling he was going to my responsibility. Quickly, Barnaby lived up to his exuberant personality. Busy, busy, busy. Busy chewing a hole in my Italian leather couch, busy gnawing the frame off the laundry room door, and busy not using my lovely back yard as a place to go to the bathroom. Aside from the fact I took him outside to do his business every half an hour, he far preferred the recently installed Berber carpeting inside the house when feeling the need to relieve himself. The first month he lived with us I went through an industrial sized bottle of carpet stain remover.

Being a large animal, he required space to run in. When my husband was home, he walked Barnaby (a manly walk) before he left for work and again at night after dinner. When he was not home, one of us was tasked with the job. When still a puppy, walking Barnaby was not a problem. But, as he grew into those gigantic feet, walks began to be contentious enough to have us drawing straws to see who got tasked with the duty. While on his walks, Barnaby did not miss once single trace of scent. Covering a one block radius could take an hour or more. The dog stopped to investigate every tree, bush, discarded ice cream wrap, and trash can. Training him to a leash was another thing not going well. Even on an extension leash, your arm was fully extended the entire time he was attached to the other end. If another animal crossed his path , he took off as if a torch had been set to his tail. Once I set a world’s record for wire fence hurdles trying to keep up with him while chasing a terrified tabby cat.

Another fly in the ointment was Barnaby was, by nature, a retriever. We owned a rabbit. It didn’t take Barnaby long to realize that rabbit fell just after quail on his list of prey. When really engaged with the rabbit the dog could be found en point outside the rabbits room quivering with excitement. The rabbit, Cinder by name, was also quivering, but not so much with excitement. Cinder was a Valentine’s present from my husband. She was a pure black lop eared bunny, who should have been named Beelzebub. Before getting a rabbit, I read stories about people who owned bunnies as pets. Tiny creatures who greeted their owners at the front door endearingly thumping their little paws. Animals easily trained to the littler box with gentle, sweet personalities. You know, like Thumper in Bambi. Cinder had not availed herself of this reading material, nor I believe, had she seen the movie. If you tried to pet her, she would reveal sharp razorlike teeth. This, was not by way of a welcoming grin. When I introduced her to the litter box, she ate the lining. Done with her meal, she deposited an entire room full of bunny poops on the floor for me to clean up as a thank you. Once, when trying to get her out from under my son’s bed I tried to gently nudge her with a broomstick handle. She gnawed the stick in half before I could rescue it. After we had her for about a year she escaped through an open door into the back yard. (No, I did not offer her a gentle nudge. Not that the thought hadn’t entered my mind.) The back door was left open by accident one day, and out she went. Being a rabbit, she immediately got to work digging a rabbit hole, where she made her home for the next six months availing herself of my garden whenever she got hungry.

While Cinder enjoyed the new found freedom of her spacious outdoor rabbit hutch, Barnaby was driven crazy by the scent of rabbit floating in the yard. If we let him out, the dog would maniacally dig holes in the grass and dirt around the hutch. Dirt would be flying in the air for hours, his brown snout only rising for meals. Each day we would fill the holes, and the next day he would dig new ones. For six months our yard looked like a band of marauding gophers was having their way with it.

Aside from being adept at digging holes Barnaby wasn’t up to speed in other areas. No matter how hard we tried he remained totally resistant to any type of training we attempted. Finally, at a friend’s suggestion, we enrolled him in Obedience School. The class was to be held in the local park for eight Saturday’s in a row. I, of course, was the one to be taking him five out of the six days as was the usual way of things. In all fairness to Barnaby, this training should have started much earlier than a year after we brought him home. It was what is was at that point, so we decided to move forward with positive enthusiasm. The first Saturday proved to be a gorgeous early summer day. There were probably thirty dogs on leashes at the appointed meeting spot by the time Barnaby and I arrived. Barnaby, excited at the prospect of all his “people” around him, nearly dislocated my shoulder trying to say hello to all his new friends. Twice, he wrapped my legs like a mummy with his leash running around me in circles trying to get a look at all the other dogs. The instructors introduced themselves as a married couple with twenty years experience. The first day, we were told, would be devoted to teaching our animals to about positive and negative reinforcement, how to correct your animal, and basic hand signals for tricks you want them to perform like sitting and lying down. Barnaby spent most of his time with his nose at the backside of whatever animal passed his way. Watching him perform, or not perform, the instructor finally came over and offered us a little personal instruction. Barnaby immediately jumped up on the man leaving two large paw prints on the front of his shirt. Ah, there’s that enthusiasm again. If he got an A for that he might have passed the class with flying colors. In spite of his abysmal showing, the man assured me Barn would do better as the weeks passed. I tried not to notice the dirty paw prints on the man’s nicely pressed shirt as I dragged Barnaby away from all his new friends and got him back in the car.

At any rate, we persevered for the next seven weeks. Barnaby sat when he was told to stand, yawned when he was asked to sit, and ate grass and threw up if I tried to rein him in when he was walking next to me. The instructors told me on his last day they had rarely failed a dog. Because Barnaby had a sweet spirit, if not a willing one, even though he hadn’t mastered any part of their course he would nonetheless get a certificate along with the rest of the dogs. Truly, though retrievers are generally known for their intelligence, Barn was never the sharpest pencil in the box. We loved him though and he gave us many laughs and stories to tell at family gatherings over the years.

Animals are comical, loving, and loyal. They bring so much to a family, or fill a lonely spot for a single person or add a dimension for a couple. Most probably there will never be a time in my life that I can’t find space for one.

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