Add a Heart

I hate it when a warehouse store moves its shelves around and I can’t find the items I typically buy. It’s torture. It adds extra minutes to my shopping. I walk my 10,000 steps just trying to find the peanut butter. They should pay me for confusing me and making me go around in circles.

Being the day before Valentine’s Day, vendors were parked at every aisle handing out chocolates, cheese, and ravioli bites. Perfect ingredients for your loved one. How come there’s never any samples of bagels, lox and cream cheese? Or champagne and lobster tails for that special someone? But there’s always the man with the high-powered blender ready to make you a green smoothie.

I’ve noticed the book aisle is now shoved by the back wall where you can’t find it. I guess books are not money makers even if you are James Patterson and Clive Custler.

The clerk at the check-out told me a story of a family with a six-year old daughter. It was the child’s birthday and nobody showed up to celebrate it. So the family scooped her up and brought her to the store for pizza and cake. I wondered how many miles they had to walk to find those items. They were moved to make way for buckets of roses and heart-shaped cookies.

Calvin says, “The stuff you fret over. What’s wrong with a bone and a snuggle?”

 

Crazy Holidays

Have you noticed the crazy stuff that happens to people around the holidays? Why don’t these things happen other times of the year?

A friend called to tell me she ended up in the ER on Thanksgiving day, doubled over in pain and unable to breathe from an allergic reaction to eating a nut. She knew she was allergic, but she ate it anyway. Does insanity come over us this time of year?

A gregarious, fun-loving, life-of-the-party friend spent Thanksgiving alone. “That’s okay, I’ve had millions of Thanksgivings,” she said non-nonchalantly.

My neighbor’s youngest daughter chose to stay away from the family so she could finish her research paper for school. My neighbor was hurt and lamented the fact her entire family was not present around the table. These are adult children, with lives of their own.

The people I know with kids demand that their children show up for the holidays, no matter how old they are. I find that strange. They say they want their children to grow up, make a life for themselves and build careers, have children of their own, live happy lives. But then holiday time rolls around and the demand to appear over turkey or Christmas caroling becomes law. And the drama that ensues if the law isn’t obeyed is brutal. It takes a year to recover from it.

I think we make holiday time into more than what it should be – a reason to be with friends and family and be cozy with one another. It doesn’t have to be with every relative you have, or every one of your friends since kindergarten. Sometimes it’s with a friend who knows and understands you better than your sister or brother, or your distant relative thirteen times removed who is grateful you remembered her and she brings that joy to the party.

Calvin says, “Do what I do. Everyday is a holiday, a reason to suck on a bone, get your tummy rubbed, and snore under a fleece blanket.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veer Right

I stood on the platform before the sun came up, waiting for the train. I looked up and saw a V formation of six pelicans. They were way off course. They belonged near the ocean, not this far inland. I concluded their GPS got muddled and they ended up at the subway station instead. Maybe they were going to go home that way. Once in San Francisco the way to the ocean was much closer. They could hop on the cable car and be at the wharf in minutes to the delight of all the tourists.

They continued to make several loops around the station in silence. Pelicans don’t honk like geese. They’re the introverts of the sky.

I kept following them with my eyes, wondering where they would touch down. All the station had to offer was a large cement parking lot, and miles of train tracks with a dangerous third rail that could kill you. I had visions of charred pelican and burned feathers. Not a pretty sight. Landing on cement wouldn’t be much prettier either. That would be a rough landing with scraped feet.

I thought of calling the firefighters to come rescue them. To pull their ladders into the sky and bring each one down to safety. But that wouldn’t work. They’d think me a crazy woman. I don’t know why. They’ve rescued a few of my cats up a tree.

Then just before the train arrived I saw them change course, come in lower and disappear behind a line of trees to the quacking of ducks at a nearby pond. Those ducks gave them their landing coordinates and saved me from a morning of drama.

Calvin says, “You should have called. I would have positioned myself in the middle of the parking lot and howled them down.”

All That Spooks

Thursday night is when all the things that go boo in the night come out. In my neighborhood, that means lots of kids in intergalactic costumes with their parents peering out from our bushes so as not to look like hovering parents, which they are of course, which is a good thing these days, and especially on Halloween night.

I lock Calvin up in his crate and away from the front door, otherwise he’d swoosh out and sniff the kids to death. He doesn’t like it one bit. He feels it’s his night too. But I can’t trust him to behave himself like a decent beagle that he sometimes can be, but not on this night.

Of all the things that spook me on this night are:

  1. why this country has embraced this “holiday” that isn’t a holiday
  2. resorting to this in order to get free candy
  3. skeletons sitting in the passenger areas at the airport
  4. substituting harvest festivals for Halloween in religious settings – what’s the difference? The candy is the same
  5. Alf retrieving his favorite candy and hiding it in a pumpkin jar
  6. Calvin howling his head off and making the kids think we’re killing him

Calvin says, “You are killing me with this lock-down, and you don’t even toss me a Snickers bar, my favorite.”

 

Garden Invasion

The re-design of my garden in finally complete. I wanted an English garden. What I got was a Japanese version with some Mexican thrown in. It all works.

I have a lot of lavender and rosemary plants paying homage to Jerusalem where the highways and byways are flanked by these bushes.

I have a purple butterfly bush for the Monarchs that come to visit except so far only white butterflies got the memo. I’m hoping the Monarchs are still in Mexico catching their breath.

Oleanders in pink and white are bursting with flowers right now.

I have the citrus trees – lemon, grapefruit and orange – continuing to dominate the landscape with their fruit. Yesterday I picked fifteen lemons off the ground. I found them everywhere, under the maple tree, in the lavender, and on the gravel pathway. It was like finding Easter eggs.

Everything is unmanicured, and nothing needs mowing, which makes me deliriously happy. I’m at that stage in life where I don’t want to take care of anything anymore, least of all plants.

Several times now when I’m in my chair surveying my garden hummingbirds come whirring around me, staring me down, as if to say, “Who are you?” They behave as if they own the place and I’m the intruder.

The other day I caught one bathing in the sprinklers and then drying off in the orange tree. Then it flew straight for me and checked me out front and back. If they weren’t such adorable midgets of the air I’d say they’re invaders. This is my space, I designed it, and I’m staying.

Calvin says, “Oh oh. Does this mean I have to fend for myself from now on? That I’m not a cute little midget, but a hot, fat, lovable bundle of fur with slurpy kisses and a nose for trouble? Hey, I add stimulation to your life.” 

 

The Cure for Social Media Boredom

Have you noticed the changes that are happening on social media these days? It’s no longer a place to hang out with friends and family. It’s more like a shopping bazaar. Every other post is for leadership workshops, coaching lessons, weight loss programs, dog training.

Lately there are tons of courses for writing a book. It seems, according to the marketers, everybody should write a book. We have a story in all of us, they say, and it must come out. It’s the new therapy. Regurgitate your life on the page and press publish.

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Except it’s boring. Have you noticed that? Read some memoirs. You can distill the essence to angst, depravity and survival. That seems to sell. Stories that are hilarious, unique or good for the soul people won’t read.

I can speculate why the negative sells. People like drama. The more hideous the better. Check out your favorite reality TV show. The human tendency to be brutal is inherent in all us.

But I prefer a good story that ends in laughter. It’s time to flood social media with those. Anyone want to join me?

Calvin says, “I will. I’ll write some scratch & sniff posts.”

beagle

 

 

 

The Red Sea Crossing

It’s been pouring for days. It’s my kind of weather except when it impacts the toilets in my house. That’s where I draw the line. The toilets, the shower, the bathtub and the garage sink went on strike all at once and filled up with water. Grey, dirty water.

That required immediate emergency measures. I called two plumbers who were asleep and couldn’t be bothered with my plight. It was Sunday after all, the day of rest, and crises would have to wait. The third plumber responded and came over in 45 minutes. Meanwhile Alf was filling buckets of water from the shower and dumping them in the backyard. I was pacing the kitchen trying to stay calm. The rain continued. Calvin was on guard with nose quivering.fullsizerender-23

Finally Juan showed up in an unmarked truck. That sent alarm bells off in my head. Calvin began howling. He introduced himself and smiled with a mouthful of braces and spoke in faltering English. The alarm bells were getting louder. Calvin was grunting. Juan unscrewed the cap to the main pipe to the house and a volcano of water erupted flooding the front lawn. I was convinced we had called a hack and I was ready to phone another plumber, and then the police, if I could find either who wasn’t taking a nap. Calvin was hissing and booing at Juan.

Alf decided to go with it. Juan pulled out a snake and a camera from his truck and did a diagnostic. Sure enough the roots of our bushes were strangling the outflow from the pipe and would need to be replaced. Juan called two buddies who appeared too quickly – were they waiting around the corner? – which confirmed we had hired a gang of thugs to fix our plumbing. This was not looking good. Calvin agreed. He was showing his pearly whites and howling.

The gang worked all day digging and snaking and digging some more. Calvin snarled along with them from the kitchen. The guys took a break to get tacos. We asked where they went and now we have a recommendation for a neighborhood taqueria. Calvin got a gleam in his eye.

The gang continued with the dig. It felt like an archaeological excavation in my front lawn. The chewed up pipe was finally unearthed, and I began to calm down. Maybe these guys knew their job after all. Calvin, exhausted from his protective detail, had curled up in his bed and gone to sleep.

By the end of the day the plumbers had unplugged the back-up, got the water flowing again, and I had my toilets back. They said they’d come back the next day to install the new pipe and eat more tacos.

Calvin says, “I’ve earned at least a dozen tacos. Let’s go!” beagle

 

 

 

Another Year Done

I’m eating leftover deviled eggs and freezing. There’s a cold wind whipping the dead leaves into swirls today. The kind of weather that belongs on the east coast, not here. What’s happening to this side of the country? This is California, not Connecticut.

The deviled eggs, well I made too many this week and my guests didn’t eat them all. They left them for me to do that. Calvin, of course, is too eager to oblige, but I know better. He’ll rip one or two or three throughout the day that make me want to fumigate the house. He gets a bone instead. IMG_8942

Alf is buried in blankets, Calvin is under the bed comforter with only his tail showing, and I’m at the computer dashing this off. A rather inauspicious end of the year, I admit, but I’ve never been one for noisy cocktail parties with fireworks in the background. That’s better left for Hollywood, or New York City, or maybe Paris. And since I’m not there, I’m happy to huddle by the fire, even if it’s a spare-the-day day, reading my book, and saying cheers to all of you. Thank you for visiting my blog this year and being a gracious readership. Happy New Year to you!

Calvin says, “I read your blog, too. It’s time to give me a starring role. I want more lines. I need a make-up artist. My own chair with my name on it. And I certainly need better food. Including eggs.”  beagle

 

 

More Than a Metaphor

Alf and I had two major leaks today. One from a toilet, the other from the washer in the garage. I’m grateful they didn’t happen on Christmas day. It would have meant our guests using our neighbor’s bathroom. And they weren’t home.

It could be an omen for 2019.

Leaks. What do they represent? Not being in control, for one thing. All you can do is scream, grab towels and mop-up.

Then go to the store and buy a new toilet. cows

Another, the mechanism in the tank needs replacing. Could that mean we’ll need colonoscopies to check our plumbing?

A diversionary tactic is to buy a new toilet.

A third possibility, someone is leaking secret information about me and Calvin on our walks. Who would do such a thing? Those times are sacred.

Definitely buy a new toilet, preferably the kind that flushes itself.

So we went to the store. Who knew there were so many toilets to choose from? The selection was tush-numbing. We had to think about height, bowl shape, color, style, and flushing and water-saving technology. Really?

I have only one specification. I need a comfort-high toilet. I’m tired of sitting cross-legged at floor level.

Calvin says, “You need to practice using bushes outside the house. They like the extra watering, they don’t leak, and the leaves tickle your tush.”  beagle

 

 

 

 

Tickled in Pink

Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo is an experience in gaudy wonderfulness. Something I’d never want to live in, not even for an overnight stay. But if you need to be transported to another era, actually several eras, this is a one-stop wonder. Better than Universal Studios.

As soon as you step inside, you’re enveloped in pink. Look down at your feet and pink roses stare back up from the carpet. Pink upholstery on the seats. The always popular pink champagne cakes sit very pink in the cabinets. The tablecloths and napkins in the steak house are pink too. Bubblegum pink with your medium rare rib-eye? Those are competing colors. Apparently it’s been working for 60 years. The doors leading to the kitchens have stained glass windows. The one in the steak house has a red rose. Now that’s more like it.

“I feel I’m inside a flock of flamingos, “Alf said. IMG_4214

Why pink, I asked myself. Turns out Alex Madonna liked the red upholstery in fancy restaurants of the day and he wanted the same look without copying it. So pink it was.

I’ve never liked the color pink. In my opinion it’s a faded red, a poor excuse for crimson, a blush of berry.

To decorate an entire restaurant with it is madness. But 60 years ago it was the destination for everyone driving to and from LA. Except truck drivers wouldn’t get caught dead in there.

It became a destination hot spot.

Shows you that taste isn’t everything.

Calvin says, “Slow down the judgment dearie, you’ve got some funky colors going on in our house.” beagle