Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Go West Young Man

The journey of 2,200 miles starts with

a really cool car, of course, but wait. This was at the END of the trip. Back up, jack.

Is that a really big McDonald's?

Wind farms and buffalo and semi's and what could be more road trip than that.

A rest stop near Tulsa.

A layover in Albuquerque.

My BFF...Oreo.

Chillin' with the O-man

Some caves in Sante Fe.

My peeps

Back on the road....

you don't see this in OHIO....

Relief in AZ

A windfarm in Sedona

Left behind
in a Super 8 in Flagstaff...or was it a Motel 6?

A big hole somewhere... el hole' de grande!


Raw simple beauty.

I'm all three rolled into one.

Seriously. It was a BIG hole.

This is the Hoover Dam, so we must be close to....

Vegas, babaay!

Ready for the strip - in my American Apparel t-shirt.

No i'm not kidding.

What a town...


clowns scare me.

Is the car on fire?

Need ... to... go... home...

The day after...

...and fit as a fiddle at Red Rock

with smiley.

Go west young man

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Murphy it's been awhile. I seriously do not know where the time goes. Do you find yourself saying the same thing? All I know is that when you get a puppy, it's kind of (only kind of) like having a new baby in the house. Days kind of blur together in a series of repetitive events....get up, go outside, come in for cheerio treat, play, chew, eat, go outside, cheerio treat, sleep, play, drink, chew, go outside, oops! an accident, go outside again, play, chew, bite, ouch! sleep, play...okay so you get the picture.

We have really fallen for the little guy. He was 1 pound 10 oz when we brought him home , and now he is a whopping 3 pounds 7 oz. He has loads of personality, and he is quite precocious. (I remember working in a bookstore for kids, and just about every grandparent, parent, aunt and uncle was buying books for a "precocious" child. It's amazing how many of them there are running around out there.) And so it is with pets, too.

For your viewing enjoyment, here are a few photos of the little pup. We are preparing to take off for a trip out west - 2,000 miles to Vegas, baby (with Murphy in tow). More to come.

Coming's kind of hard to tell them apart, but Puppy Dog was with him on the ride home and has since become his best buddy.

Murphy vs. the Flip Flop.

The flip flop won this time.....

Sunday, March 22, 2009


It has sprung around here - the beautiful sun filled sky, the warm breeze coming through the window screen, the 32 degree nights, the frost in the morning, the bags of mulch that have replaced the bags of salt at the corner gas stations - all these things reassure me that nicer weather is around the corner.

And with that, a whole list of things to do. Because our yard (as I've already mentioned) is hard as cement, my dream - my gardening vision if you will - is to create a container garden that defines all others. It will be full of....containers. And in these containers will be container plants - herbs, flowers, tall grasses, a small tree or bush perhaps? This garden will transform my wide open un-private, sun beaten deck into a garden oasis. Life sustaining vegetables will abound right outside my door; humming birds and butterflies will flock to feed on the nectar filled flowers cascading out of the many.... containers that adorn my private sanctuary.

So the blog muse has been absent in my life for the past several weeks. Perhaps I will now start to document a bit of what's going on around me. And this project may be a good start.

Step One: Buy Some Containers.

P.S. We visited this little guy yesterday - and plan to bring him home in about two weeks. He is more the size of a small hamster at this point - and will not grow to be much bigger than 8 pounds. I've never had such a small dog before but along with warmer weather, spring also tends to bring new love - love that defies the odds. So, here we go again.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuffers (part two)

For years I have noticed a small sign on a road I've frequently traveled that reads: Pines Pet Cemetery. Like something out of a Stephen King novel, it has always conjured up rather dark, unsettling thoughts.

After Tuffy died, I called my vet to find out where I could take him. We live in a subdivision, and it would not go unnoticed if I began digging a grave for my dog in the middle of the day, let alone the fact that the ground around here is like cement. They said I could bring him to their office or take him directly to a place called "The Pines Pet Cemetery."

"I know right where that is." I replied.

So, we wrapped Tuffy up, placed him on his pillow in the car and took him for his last ride. (He used to love holding his head out the window, smelling all the smells dogs like to smell.) Since I had called for more information prior to, I knew the sign had toppled in a recent storm and was no longer there to mark the way. I was told to "turn left just past Hidden Valley Fruit Farm." And so we did, and followed a long winding farm lane. When we got to the second house on the left, we turned in.

As we drove up the driveway, the cemetery came into view - and I was stunned at how absolutely beautiful it was. It was a country pasture landscaped with trees, walking paths, several beautiful grave stones, a memorial wall, a statue of a horse, and other assorted sculpted memorials throughout the grounds. Several flower arrangements marked the flat grave stones. It was so peaceful . . . and completely unexpected.

We walked into the office and were greeted by a woman who took our information. I asked how long the cemetery had been there and she said since the 1960's. She listed several options - a full burial with plot and coffin (not exactly for us), a country burial where dozens of animals are buried together (granted, Tuffy would not have known the difference, but it just didn't sit right with me), or cremation (yes).

Then the dreaded moment came. "Should we bring him in?" I asked.

And so I carried him into the office and held tight. The woman asked if I wanted to sit with him in a room for awhile. "No," I said. I hugged and kissed him, started sobbing and handed him over to her. I looked away as John patted Tuffy one last time, and when I looked back, I could see that she was crying, too. I knew then that I had taken him to the right place.

We will pick up Tuffy's ashes and bury them in our garden come spring, and most likely mark his spot with a flowering plant or tree. I'm sure it will be some time before I stop looking around for him, or want to yell out his name - just because. But it's already getting better.

While difficult, this simple ritual at a pet cemetery helped me to say goodbye.

Friday, February 20, 2009


A little piece of my heart broke this morning - and for those of you who have had a faithful furry companion love you unconditionally over the years, I'm sure you can relate.

We brought Tuffy home almost 14 years ago. I remember the day as if it were yesterday. He was the cutest in the bunch - and we knew he was our pup immediately. He was able to carry a tennis ball in his tiny little mouth, and was ready to play from the get go. We drove him home - and he sat in my mom's lap the whole way. He was part of our family during such formative years - and I believe I'm mourning the passing of those in some way - as much as I am him.

He is along side of Ryan in just about every single first day of school picture, he's nestled between us in holiday photos, and looking too cute in photos of just him (see profile) and posing with his other dog buddies. He never knew a stranger....and when he went out on his adventures (unbeknownst to us) he always made new friends. He was there for me when I was going through some pretty rough times....always willing to lick my tears away. He loved Ryan, but was always quick to let him know that in spite of his small size, HE was the alpha dog.

I take some small comfort in the fact that I was home alongside him, petting him as he took his final breaths, trying to give some measure of reassurance that this was supposed to be.

But it's still a tough day to be sure. And I will miss him.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Kindness

Growing up in the 60's, I remember how easy it was to trust complete strangers. We never locked our doors (or windows), hitchhikers were common place, and door to door salespeople - complete strangers! - entered our house without a second thought (and Carol Jean still has a set of World Book Encyclopedias to prove it.) And neighbors were neighborly back then - at least in our neighborhood they were. It wasn't without its drawbacks, mind you. If you liked even the least bit of privacy, you were out of luck.

At that time, Carol Jean was raising me on her own while most of her immediate family lived about eight hours away. We would make that trek a few times a year - mostly on holidays - and I always remember sitting in the backseat (no seatbelt back in those days) jumping up and down, asking "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" and then settling back down as day gave way to night - laying across the back seat, looking up at the stars through the rear window, feeling the steady vibrating hum of the tires just below me. I used to love falling asleep to that. And still do, when I can relax long enough to let go of being a backseat driver (doesn't happen too much, let me tell ya). But I'm getting off track here a bit.

Carol Jean always had a thing for truck drivers - not a "thing" thing, but a thing. They helped pass the time on those long drives. Most of the roads we traveled back then were two lanes, so there was lots of passing going on. She would pass a trucker, then he would pass her. Then she would pass him again, then he would pass her. And on it went for miles. On one particular night, she had "befriended" a particular truck driver via this passing game - and because she had something of a lead foot (and still does!) she must have left him in the dust hours into the drive. For some reason, she had to pull off on the side of the road - I can't exactly remember why - perhaps just to stretch or get me situated. Sure enough, the trucker she passed miles back came upon her stopped car - and instead of racing past, he slowed down his rig and pulled off the road to a complete stop - just to check on Carol Jean to make sure she was okay. (I suppose he noticed she had a youngin' in the back, too).

When the 70's came - they seemed to usher in a decade of "stranger fear." I remember hearing about razor blades in Halloween candy, and creepy strangers hanging out in play grounds, and abductions and hitchhikers being picked up and left for dead somewhere. And it hasn't let up. The fear we have of each other seems to be almost paralyzing at times.

Carol Jean called me tonight with a story. She was in her den watching television when the house suddenly felt cold. She soon figured out why when she got up and discovered that the door leading to her garage was open (as was the actual garage door). And, knowing what that meant, she got on her coat and boots and went out in search of her dog, Daisy Mae - a.k.a. the "she devil."

She started down the sidewalk and, sure enough, there was Daisy a few houses down having a chat with the dogs who resided there. As my mom went up their driveway, her feet gave way, and she slipped on the ice, fell flat on her back, and smacked her head down on the hard ice. She laid there - a bit dizzy - unable to get up. A neighbor boy saw her and came racing down on his motorized tractor. A man across the street who was picking the ice off his windshield also saw her and rushed over. Between the two of them, they picked her up. The ice man took her - in his car - to her house. And the young man hoisted Daisy onto his tractor and drove her home, too. They took my mom into her house, got her settled on the couch and made sure she hadn't broken any bones. Thankfully, she didn't. But she had a mighty big knot on the back of her head. Once they were sure she was okay, they left.

An hour later, the neighbor boy came back with a man my mom had never met - must have been his father. He came in and checked out my mom and asked her a battery of questions - was she nauseous? Did she have double vision? (He must have been an EMT, Carol Jean said.) He wanted to make sure she didn't need to go to the hospital.

Tonight, Carol Jean feels very lucky to live in a neighborhood of neighborly neighbors. And I am so glad that there are people watching over her when I cannot. This isn't the first time my mom has received the kindness of strangers - and she has extended the same in her life many times over. It just makes me realize that should I do a good deed for a stranger, it's not really for a stranger, it's for someone's mom or dad or brother or sister. And someone just like me will be happy that I was there.

Monday, January 12, 2009


The hullabahloo of the holidays is behind me, and I am left with a blur of memories, a few more pounds, a messy house, and .... my most favoritist gift of all, ever!!!!! (well, other than the heartwarming moments spent with family and friends, that is).

OK. So the truth is, I'm a gadget guru. Always have been. It may have started when I got two Panasonic donut radios for Christmas when I was in the fifth grade. Or perhaps when Carol Jean purchased a Fisher stereo receiver with separate turntable and kicka__ speakers! (I know they're to blame for my post 40 hearing loss.) Seriously. No one else in my inner circle had an ala carte stereo system at the time - one that played FM stations no less. (Because who even listened to FM stations back then? Well, we did.)

We also got a microwave soon after they were released, and of course when I studied in Europe, I just had to have a Walkman (actually it was some European brand knockoff with a hideous brown Naugahyde case and it weighed about ten pounds, but still - it had relatively small headphones!) And when I went off on my own I invested in a CD player (my very smart cousin Scott said they'd never catch on...HA!), a VCR, a video camera when Ry was born, soon followed by an old school Mac, a Palm Pilot (or two), several IPods (including a video model), a digital movie camera, a DVR cable box, wireless networking, high speed router, a Kitchen Aid mixer ... so you get the picture, right?

Well, all this gadget guru-ness somehow passed me by when it came to my cell phone selection. In fact, I've only had two cell phones in ten years. My most recent was a flip up, gorgeous blue, with speaker phone ability, but I did have to manually extend the antenna - to the snickers of a few of my previous co-workers (you know who you are....LAURA!) .... but it got the job done.

So get to the point already.... right? Well, one of Ryan's most coveted items on his holiday list was a new cell phone - the Samsung Instinct. So I wandered unsuspectingly into the Sprint store with him (and Grandma in tow as she was the official gift giver of phone) over the holidays. I was totally minding my own business when he showed me "the phone"..... I looked at it....and that was it. I was in love. (To those who know me, it was kinda like when I locked eyes with Fabio years ago at the bookstore when he was signing...who cares what he was signing? He could have signed a banana peel - - but that's another post).

Seriously. The Samsung Instinct. Have you seen this phone? It's definitely inspired by the IPhone, yet it has its own distinct personality. It has a touch screen for starters. It's sleek, small, black and shiny. Yet it has weight and it vibrates in the coolest way as it performs its functions (unless you turn that part off).

Do you want to know what I can do with this phone? No? Too bad. I can text. I can give it voice commands. I can say Chinese food and it pulls up every Chinese restaurant in my neighborhood and beyond, and it will give me directions to all of them. I can ask it to "call home" "call Mom" "call John" "call Ryan" "call Anyone Who Will Answer!" and it politely asks me to confirm each time: "Did you say, call home?" "Yes! Yes I did!" And it does.

It takes pictures. And sends pictures. And takes video. And plays music. I can watch TV on it. I can listen to online radio on it. I can surf the web and check my e-mail (both home and work accounts!). At the touch of a button I can see what the weather is like in Springboro, Cincinnati, Las Vegas, Iowa, Detroit! I can even see the weather radar! It has GPS, so it can take me from here to wherever I want to go, no questions asked!! I'm FREE! Well, it probably asks me to confirm where I want to go, but no matter. About the only thing is doesn't do is the dishes!

Oh wait, I just didn't have that function turned on.

Anyway, it's amazing, and I feel amazing carrying it. No antenna to whip up anymore....and no snickers. Just looks of awe from my fellow gadget gurus.