Monday, April 25, 2016

I'll Never Forget When...

The year was 1977.  I was 19 and standing in line at a Taco Bell, picking up lunch for my co-workers as part of my summer "gopher" job at Dublin Travel, when the breaking news crackled over the radio: Elvis Presley, age 42, had just been found dead in his bathroom.  
While older people around me reacted with shock, I was sorry but not especially surprised. After all, he was 42. Wasn't that around the age when people stopped buying green bananas? Remember, I was 19.

Of course,  I now realize that 42 is ridiculously young, just like John Lennon was when he died at age 40 in 1980. It was a Monday night and I was at home watching Kate & Allie when the show was interrupted with breaking news by legendary sportcaster Howard Cosell. The former Beatle had been shot and killed. 

The next morning I drove to the now defunct Wherehouse Records and joined a crowd that was silently milling about, everyone carrying albums by the Beatles. There wasn't any talking and the store wasn't playing any music. We all knew why we were there. 

Fast forward to June 25, 2009. I was at my desk at work when my mom phoned. "Michael Jackson is dead!" she gasped.  For some reason my 73-year old mother had always been fascinated with Michael Jackson, which I never quite got because she was definitely more the Julio Iglesias type.  

"He is not," I snorted, wondering where she'd picked up such a silly idea. Michael Jackson was my age. Michael Jackson was too young. Michael Jackson was immortal. But when I Googled his name to humor her, there it was, splashed across every website.  Oh my God, Michael Jackson was dead. 

As word spread throughout the office, work came to a standstill as everyone logged on various websites to find out what had happened to the King of Pop. 

Now Prince.

On Thursday, we were about to enter a meeting at work when a co-worker came trotting down the hallway, looking at her phone in disbelief.  "I can't believe this," she announced. "Prince is dead."

Forget the meeting. We all looked at her slack-jawed.  "Prince the singer?" I asked, hoping maybe it was, you know, another Prince. As if.  My manager rushed to her computer to check CNN and there it was.  "This is another Michael Jackson moment," a co-worker murmured and I knew exactly what she meant.

Just last weekend I was watching Purple Rain and thinking that Prince was ageless. We were born the same year, but I figured one day when we were 70, I'd be in my fluffy pink bathrobe watching a geriatric Vanna White trying to spin the wheel while Prince would still be performing pop-up concerts at 11pm, singing Little Nikki and jumping off stages in stilettos. 

Because that was Prince.

"Some people want to die, so they can be free.
I said life is just a game, we're all just the same, do you want to play?"  ~Controversy

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pitter Patter of Paws

That old familiar "feeling" is starting to fester again, similar to the notorious biological clock that drives women of a certain age crazy with baby lust. 

Except my temptation has four legs, not two. I'm starting to lust after other greyhounds, imagining how it would feel to once again cuddle with a hound under each arm or walk with a waggin' wagon train of dogs in front. I'm wondering where I'd put the second food dish--next to the fridge or near the baker's rack? I'm envisioning extra pillows near my sofa and bed. I'm playing with names: I prefer monikers that start or end with a vowel, or have "Ls."  I'm picturing a companion for Hazel, a second needle nose for me to pepper with kisses, an extra set of velvety ears to rub.  

Not to mention, Golden State Greyhound Adoption is bringing in a haul of retired racing greyhounds from Florida on May 7. How convenient is that?  

However, I'm just a bit paranoid about the Second Dog Curse.  I adopted Olivia as a companion for Elvis, and three months later my beloved boy died of throat cancer. After one year, my broken heart felt ready for a second dog and I adopted Hazel as a companion for six-year old Olivia. And--you guessed it-- my sweet Olivia died of osteoscarcoma just six months later.

See where I'm going here? 

But really, what are the odds of that happening a third time? Plus, the payoff is so worth the risk, in spite of the extra work. Because there's no denying, there's work: it means housebreaking all over again, patting and sniffing the carpet for those dreaded wet spots. Stuffed toys and chew sticks scattered throughout the house. Extra shedding and double sets of paw prints on my shiny hardwood floors, which means double the vacuuming, double the mopping, not to mention double the food and vet bills.

And (be still my beating heart), double the love.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Adventures in Babysitting

Last Saturday I babysat. Not a biggie for most people, but it was for me because the last time I babysat, the going rate was 50 cents an hour and the Osmond Brothers were crooning One Bad Apple on KYA.  

It's not that I dislike kids--I'm just not around them since I have none, hence no grandchildren, and most of my friends are single as well.  These two little girls, 7-year old Lucy and 5-year old Audrey, belong to my next door neighbors and they're so darned cute, I told their parents I'd be happy to watch them sometime so the young couple could enjoy a rare date night.  

"Really?" their mom asked as if not quite believing her ears. "You'd babysit for us?

"Sure," I said.  "We'll watch movies, make brownies. It'll be fun." And before I knew it, I had two pajama-clad munchkins sharing my overstuffed chair with the giant sock monkey that my niece added to my sock monkey memorabilia. And we really did have a good time. The girls were so polite, well-behaved, and adorable, it didn't feel like work at all. 

Well, except for that DVD they brought. They insisted I join them to watch Earth, a visually stunning 2007 Disney nature flick. I was enjoying it until--oh no! --the cheetah chasing a fleeing gazelle actually caught it. I couldn't help but gasp. I should have known not to trust a Disney movie. Hey, look what they did to Bambi's mother? 

But the girls were fine. Lucy turned to me and and without batting an eye, she tried to set my mind at ease. "It's all part of the food chain," she explained gently. "Cheetahs have to eat too, you know."

Which reminded me how precocious kids are. How unfiltered. How honest. Especially when Lucy asked me, "So how old are you? 50 or 90?"


In case I didn't get the hint, her message was delivered loud and clear when she came across a photo of me with my greyhound, Hazel. It's a decent enough picture for me to have used for my 2016 New Years Greeting card.  

"That must be an old picture," she mused as she admired it. "You look a lot younger."

Finally, my chance for redemption. "No, it's not," I replied. "It was taken just two months ago." Ha! So there. 

She studied my freshly-washed face and then returned to the photo, looking at it carefully, obviously perplexed. I could see the wheels turning in her head before she reached the only explanation that made sense. 

"Oh, I see," she said. "You're wearing make-up."

Ouch. I certainly will be moving forward.

When my adventure in babysitting came to a close three hours later, I really meant it when I told their mom I'd be happy to watch the girls again.  They thoroughly charmed me over and provided a refreshing break from the intricacies of adulthood.

Except for that "50 or 90" crack. Next time I'm wearing lipstick.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Super Day, Indeed

Whoohoo, it's finally here! That one day of the year I've been eagerly anticipating: none other than (drum roll please)...

Super Bowl Sunday! Yowza, bring it on boys. 

Because while millions of fans are glued to their sets watching future patients of the concussion disease CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) thrashing about on the field knocking themselves senseless, I'll be enjoying a different type of playing field: empty shops, empty streets, empty parks, museums, movie theaters, and restaurants.  No sitting in traffic, waiting in line, jostling crowds or maneuvering an awkward U-turn for that last remaining parking space. 

It's mine, all mine, she said with a diabolical laugh.

It's almost overwhelming trying to decide how to spend this one day of glorious isolation. If I go to a matinee I can avoid the inevitable back-seat kicker or cell phone dolt who texts throughout the movie. But I do need to buy a birthday present: maybe I should go to the mall where I can avoid being run down by linebacker mothers pushing their eight year-olds in Hummer-sized strollers used as battering rams. 

No, no, no, wait! Costco--that warehouse of infinite stuff you never knew you needed-- will be empty. This means I can grab my frozen salmon and saline solution and not get stuck behind 15 carts that appear to be stocking for the apocalypse. Then again, it is an amazingly sunny 73 degrees outside. What a great day to take Hazel for a walk on the Iron Horse Trail without fear of being mowed down by bicyclists who seem to take a perverse delight in not calling out while getting as physically close as possible to unsuspecting walkers. On second thought, a quiet stroll on an empty beach sounds better.  

All so inviting, so alluring.  Maybe I'll just take a nap and decide later.

Hey, you have your Super Bowl dreams and I have mine.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Coffee Junkie

Yeah, I like coffee, but I'm not a snob about it.  Well, not too much.  I admit I won't touch the canned stuff my parents used to drink, like Hills Bros. or Folgers. My teamster dad would boil a batch of coffee at 5am before leaving for work, let the cold leftovers sit in the carafe all day, then reheat the bitter swill in the microwave for he and mom to enjoy while watching All in the Family or The Flip Wilson Show before going to bed.

No wonder I grew up thinking coffee tasted like battery acid. 

These days I usually buy whatever ten ounce bag of coffee is on sale for under $10  but I prefer Peet's. Strong, robust, delicious. I love Peet's.  Yes, I'm a Peetnik.

So I was intrigued when I got a November email from Peet's announcing their limited edition "Red Mocha Haraaz" which proclaimed it "the rarest, most complex and exciting coffee we have tasted this year!"  The email went on to describe "enticing aromas of Maraschino cherry and elderflower liqueur, deeply smooth with date sugars, and a dusting of cinnamon.

Elderflower liqueur? I'd never even heard of the stuff but Peet's had my attention. This coffee was a complex and exciting drink that was deeply smooth with date sugars and a dusting of cinnamon; my God, who could resist?  I was practically salivating as I shared the email with my coffee-loving friend, Deanna, who agreed it sounded delicious but added, "Did you see the price?"

Uh, no.  Maybe I should have scrolled a bit further?  

It was $30 for a half pound. A HALF pound. Now maybe folks like the Kardashians, Jay Z. and Beyonce can afford to plunk down $30 for a half pound of coffee, but I'm a working stiff who cuts coupons, recycles sandwich bags, and uses my Safeway Reward Card to save 50 cents off a bag of Barilla pasta. No way would I waste $30 on a half pound of coffee that was probably overrated and overpriced anyway. And just like that, poof! I resumed my relationship with Major Dickason and kissed goodbye my dreams of elderflower liqueur, date sugars, and dustings of cinnamon. 

Until Christmas when Deanna surprised me with a bag of the golden beans.  She knew I'd never splurge so when I forward the email to her, voila! I unknowingly supplied her with an idea for the perfect Christmas gift. 

Last week I brewed my first latte using Red Mocha Haraaz ground beans and while I wasn't near a mirror, I'm guessing that the look on my face when I took my first sip was probably not unlike that of a future junkie getting his first shot. I swear I felt a power surge bolt through my body. My curls might have actually straightened for a moment.

Oh yeah, it's that good.  And now I'm hooked.

But for only as long as my meager supply lasts because it was a limited edition. Smart people, those folks at Peet's. Invite the desire, create the need, then withdraw the supply.   

Sigh. I may have to turn to battery acid to get me through the next roast of Red Mocha Haraaz. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Aloof Woof Part ll

It's not like I have low self-esteem or anything, but it's a little disheartening to be rejected by one's own dog.  

Hazel hasn't outright disowned me, not in so many woofs. But after 16 months of cohabiting with my adopted ex-racer, I'm still not feeling that overwhelming rush of love and affection that my previous greyhounds, Elvis, Lucy, and Olivia, lavishly dished upon me. Those dogs adored me. Idolized me. Looked upon me with such deep abiding love that sometimes I swore I could see little hearts shooting from their pupils. If ever I needed an ego boost, I could always count on my beloved four-legged fan club.

Uh Hazel, not quite. Oh, she loves me. As the can-opener. The dog-walker. The pillow-plumper. The dispenser of treats and driver of car to awesome destinations like beaches and parks.  

Basically, I'm a canine concierge.

Yeah, dogs are supposed to love unconditionally, but Hazel is clearly a bit more discriminating. And while I'm honored to be on her list at all, it's obvious that I'm not at the very top. Now call it presumptuous, but considering that I provide luxurious room and board, cover costly health care, and freely dish out premium treats, gourmet meals,and multiple walks, not to mention endless belly rubs and needle-nose kisses, shouldn't these provisions automatically elevate me to numero uno?

That would be a big fat no. Sure, my girl loves me. She seems happy enough to see me and allows me to spend my every waking minute tending to her needs.  It's just that Hazel has a few other preferences that take a higher priority. These would include:
  • Other greyhounds
  • Other dogs
  • Men with treats
  • Men without treats
  • Big men, small men, fat men, bald men, hairy men, gay men, any men
  • Going for walks
  • Going for rides in my Honda CRV, sticking her head out the window, and roooing like a canine fire siren
  • Barking at squirrels
  • Kongs stuffed with peanut butter, creamy not crunchy, thank you very much
  • Did I mention men?
Oh yes, and then me. 

Well, at least I'm one up from the vet, but let's not test that. My ego is bruised enough as is.

But then, right when I'm ready to concede defeat in the affection department, my 63-pound hound will knock the wind out of me with a surprise jump on my lap. She'll snuggle as close as she can, burrow her knobby head under my chin, and rest her face against my chest, followed with a deep contented sigh.

And as I wrap my arms around my goofy girl, I realize that it doesn't matter if I'm not first in Hazel's heart. Because she's first in mine.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Excuse Du Jour: Leaky Pipes

It's getting ugly here in drought-stricken California. Neighbors are snitching on water-wasters such as the car-washing dolt who was once revered for bringing the most amazing barbecued ribs to the neighborhood potluck; the apparently oblivious family on the corner whose sprinklers go off every morning like clockwork at 7am; or, that single gal with the two Golden Retrievers who hoses down her backyard patio every night under the cover of darkness.

Yeah, that's right woman, we hear the spray. We know what you're doing.

These days no one is immune from water shaming. Heck, thirsty Californians will throw grandma and her arthritic bones under the bus if her showers last more than three minutes. 

The pitchforks are out. We're dry, disheartened, and desperate, all drawing from the same straw and angry at those who are sucking up more than their share of our dwindling liquid gold.   

Water hogs. We've seen them and now, thanks to reports by the San Francisco Chronicle, we know them specifically by name.  But all these water-wasters have something else in common besides their multi-million-dollar mansions tucked behind wrought iron gates manned by security booths.

They all have leaky pipes. Imagine that!

Most were truly shocked when their stratospheric water levels were publicly exposed. Pay no attention to their massive acres of lush green lawns. Those lawns have nothing to do with their excessive water usage, nothing  at all. It's because of leaky pipes, they insist, darned leaky pipes! Every one of these fairly new luxury homes that cost more than most of us will ever make in three lifetimes have leaky pipes. 

What an amazing coincidence. These days, developers must be using LEGOS for conduits because never have there been so many sudden cases of plumbing gone awry.  

But now, thanks to the public exposure (or flogging, as some of the accused have whined), the water hogs are going to make nice and "fix" their faulty lines right away. Because they promise their excessive usage was truly unintentional and feel horrible about it and swear on their mothers' graves that they would never use more than their fair share of water, and stop looking at their damn green lawns! It was leaky pipes, mind you.

Leaky pipes.

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