Where Am I?

Have you heard about Texas weather? When we told people we were moving here they said, “Well, clearly you aren’t moving for the weather, so why are you moving?!” It’s 8:30 pm, I have a sinus infection, Steve is on a plane hoping to get into Dallas/Fort Worth tonight from a biz trip. It is thundering, lightening and what I cannot reconcile is that it’s 92 degrees and HAILING! How is that even possible? How can it hail when it’s 92 degrees! Could it be 32 degrees High in the sky when it’s 92 down here?? (Notice I unconsciously capitalized high as if something supernatural is going on.)

I can hear the hail smashing against the the skylight in my kitchen. This is also tornado weather, something brand new to me. Tornados are a “warm weather event” I’ve been taught. Lovely. So I stay awake with my sinus infection, two dogs freaking out about thunder, my husband on a plane circling around, still trying to get my arms around what the hell is Texas….

My Pet Peeve

“How many monkeys do you see in there?” a young woman asked her two year old at the zoo today.

We were at the Chimp habitat and I could see about 7 of them.

“Zero,” I said to myself in a whisper, “there are no monkeys in there.”



Mishindi and his mother, Ramona


Love and Pain

I’ve been having trouble with my left shoulder and the pain got pretty bad. I’ve recently switched from tennis to pickle ball and in tennis I had a two handed back hand so naturally I continued to use that technique in pickle ball. The problem is the motion of a two handed back hand in pickle ball is much “tighter” than it is in tennis and it resulted in injury. I knew that is where the problem originated and I quickly learned a mean single-handed back hand but my shoulder still hurt and it has been hurting for a long time.

Finally, I went to a lovely Korean muscular therapist who explained that shoulders are very complex and injuries take a long time to heal. Her work was helping and she told me I should also consider doing acupuncture in addition to the work we were doing. So, I found a lovely Chinese woman with a PhD in Chinese medicine and acupuncture and saw her for the first time last week. It seemed to help a little so I went back today. Today seemed to help a LOT which is nice.

After my treatment as we were sitting at Julie’s desk scheduling my next appointment, I noticed a picture of her with a gorgeous golden retriever.

“Oh my god, your dog is beautiful!” I said.

“She was beautiful,” Julie replied, “and I adored her. I never had children so she was like my child.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“She got cancer, we tried everything, but we finally had to put her down,” she said as her eyes got red and watery.

“That is horrible,” I said, “I never had kids either and as an adult I have had to live through the death of three beloved dogs. Two of them golden’s.”

“Oh, that’s awful,” Julie said.

She went on to describe the day she knew it was time to put Scarlett down. She talked about the vet coming to her house so Scarlett didn’t think they were going in the car to go to the park. She described how she got Scarlett up on her lap in a big bear hug and then allowed the vet to give her the shot. She described what it felt like to have Scarlett die in her arms. She said it was very peaceful but she and I were both sobbing. She grabbed a box of Kleenex….

“I’m so sorry to make you cry,” she said softly.

“It’s okay,” I said, “crying is okay.”

They say one of the most gut wrenching things in life is when a parent has to bury a child. The problem with being a dog parent is that you have to bury most of them.

The Wizard of Oz

One of the less than lovely things about Texas is tornedos. Apparently we don’t get as many as places like Oklahoma and Kansas but we do get them. Take the day after Christmas for example. 11 people in the Dallas area died in tornedos and a house 15 miles from ours was demolished. I’ve learned that when people die in tornedos it’s usually either a traffic related incident caused by the tornedo or they are hit with flying debris. So, If you are out and about, you have to quickly figure out a way to get out of the car and somehow take cover.

I’ve only been in Texas just over two years and the only other places I’ve lived are California and Arizona. In California we worried about earthquakes, landslides, houses sliding down hillsides and wildfires. In Arizona we obsessed over rattlesnakes, scorpions and a particularly threatening cactus called “Jumping Cholla”.


The cholla (pronounced choy-a) is perhaps the most feared and hated cacti in the southwest desert. If you brush up against one, you will know why. The plant has pads that separate easily from the main stem. The spines easily attach to your clothing, your skin and your shoes. Since the plant is covered with spines, it’s difficult to grab and dislodge the pad that has found a new home with you. Why are they so difficult to remove? Unlike other varieties of cacti with solid spines, cholla’s actually have hollow spines. Because they are hollow they can easily attach to whatever they touch with their needle like sharpness. If there is moisture, such as with skin, the tips actually curve once they have made contact, locking their spines in place just underneath the skins top layer. OUCH! But, I digress….

When the tornedo sirens blared the other night, my husband and I and our two golden retrievers hunkered down in the inner most room of the house, which is my husband’s closet. If you have followed my blog for some length of time, you might recall that I have that closet well stocked for an event such as this one.

Here are the contents of our shelter in Steve’s closet:

  • water for humans and water/water bowl for dogs
  • snacks for humans and treats/chew sticks for dogs
  • a battery powered American Red Cross emergency weather radio
  • a battery powered, super mini flashlight
  • a battery powered lantern
  • two battery powered personal spray bottle/fan contraptions in case it gets really hot
  • back up batteries for all that battery operated crap
  • a blanket
  • a little nightgown for me in case it gets really hot
  • reading glasses in case I have to run in there without mine
  • 2 bottles of wine, a wine opener and doggie Xanax
  • a deck of cards for gin rummy in case Steve or Tim are in there with me and paper/pencil to keep score since we’ll be drinking all that wine and would no way remember the score

I’m not kidding. All that junk is beautifully organized in Steve’s closet.


So, while Steve was fumbling with the tornedo radio, I was texting my sister in California. My sister Lisa always has and always will live in California. We were born there and she is a beach girl.

The tornedo radio is saying we are in a life threatening situation and to take cover immediately, I texted. So we are in the safest place in the house, a closet, with the dogs.

That must be freaky, she responded, are you scared?

I am kind of scared, I went on, the radio just said the tornedo touched down about 15 miles from our house.

Ooooh, she replied, I didn’t realize they touched down.

I chuckled to myself. Just like me two years ago, she knows nothing about tornedos. I think she was thinking of hurricanes.

Think “twister”, Lisa, I texted back, like The Wizard of Oz. 

Oh! she exclaimed, Is Toto with you?


I Hate Starbucks

I know I’m not the only one, but whether it’s Dallas, Texas or Scottsdale, Arizona, Starbucks rubs me the wrong way. Jus’ sayin’ ya’ll. I came in here just to blog about how much I hate it. It feels weird with the sterile clean counters, snobby baristas, muffins the size of baseballs and espresso machines that sound like steam engines from the railroad of two centuries ago. I haven’t been in a Starbucks for years.

For starters, the regular coffee tastes like someone cremated the beans on a barbeque until they were blackened and charred. I can’t choke it down. Then, a few years ago, like fifteen maybe, they came out with “lite” coffee that made McDonald’s Joe taste like Moroccan espresso. And that was before McDonalds beefed up the strength of their coffee. So, I’m screwed here in terms of a plain cup of coffee for zero calories. I’ll need to peruse my other coffee options.

Let’s see, how about the Cinnamon Dolce Latte? A quick Google tells me it has 290 calories. Or, maybe the Iced White Chocolate Mocha? 360 calories a pop. Better yet, I could just go for it with the Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha for a cool 470 calories.

I’m getting a sinking Starbucks feeling in the pit of my stomach. It’s a conspiracy!! This is a cash cow scheme against unsuspecting citizens and the aforementioned citizens are falling for it! These are not coffees! These are decadent desserts, holiday treats, liquid pastries! Patrons are standing in a very long line thinking, yes, I’ll just have a little afternoon coffee pick-me-up. It’s not coffee, people! Why don’t you have that innocent looking, supposedly healthy, 640 calorie Zucchini Walnut muffin to go with it? Now your little coffee break is costing you 1,110 calories!

Okay, then we have the sizes. I can order Solo, Doppio, Short, Tall, Grande or Vente. What’s up with these size names? How about extra small, small, medium, large and so on? Are they trying to give this experience an ethnic feel or give the baristas a reason to laugh when I try to pronounce these? I resent having to learn foreign words to order coffee. Its like ring tones these days; what ever happened to ding-a-ling-a-ling? And why don’t “short” and “tall” get fancy, across-the-pond names? Are they discriminating against short and tall?

Finally, I hate the way these Starbucks customers stare at their screens, clicking and clacking trying to look like they are serious, important and working. If they had a job, they wouldn’t be here on a Thursday afternoon at 2:00 pm. It’s unlikely this many people are entrepreneurs! As for me, after years in the corporate world, my jobs now are volunteering at the zoo, playing tennis and working out, taking care of my house, husband and dogs and writing for my blog. That’s why I’m staring at my screen, clicking and clacking.

While you are now surely clear that Starbucks in Texas is as bad as anywhere else, you might be wondering what I ended up with. I’m drinking a tall, decaf, non-fat, no-foam latte. They call it the “Why Bother, Ya’ll”. Now that’s a cool name and it’s the only thing I don’t hate about Starbucks in Texas.