Sunday, October 20, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Getting a Dog for Your Child

In November 2003, a friend offered to buy my 10-year-old daughter a real, live dog for Christmas, versus the stuffed variety or a cat that only requires an occasional hot fluff cycle in the dryer. I’m certain the idea was mine, because I’m female, emotional, and, therefore, don’t thoroughly think through things.

Owning that, I believe children need to be raised with pets, particularly a dog, through whom they learn responsibility, a precursor to parenting, and reciprocal, unconditional love and companionship. Inevitably, a parent will disappoint a child, and in a dog, a child has someone he or she can rely who offers a wagging tail and a warm, furry body and belly to rub. Dogs smile and groan with satisfaction. Their ears go back and head goes down when they’re apprehensive about a situation. Essentially, they are like children, so kids can relate.

It had been three and a half years since my son, the sweetest yellow Lab in the world, had passed. I honestly believed I would never have another dog, because Alex was amazingly humanlike and I knew no other would be like him. His passing was a devastating tragedy. To this day, I can’t talk about his final months without feeling deep despair and a heavy heart.

After Alex’s passing, my daughter’s dad bought our little muffin a kitten from the Humane Society. Autumn was a gray, striped shorthair, the type I always called a tiger cat. Autumn had a feral nature and would slip outside and chase foxes, a strange and courageous act first reported by my neighbor across the street. Though hard to believe, the day after she told me, we looked outside to see Autumn chasing a fox that was carrying a wriggling squirrel in its mouth.

Autumn the cat even baited a fawn, enticing it to come closer to her by pretending she wasn’t at all interested, turning her backside toward the little ungulate, flicking her skyward-directed tail back and forth, encouraging the fawn to investigate. When the fawn was close enough, Autumn pounced and chased the fawn out of our yard. I have the photos to prove it.

Eventually, Autumn started urinating on my waterbed, my double papasan, and my daughter’s bed. We tossed the mattress and papasan, and I continued to wash and rewash all my bedding several times until one day I made the decision. Sobbing as I approached the Humane Society’s intake receptionist to relinquish Miss Autumn the Micturator, I was flabbergasted when the gal asked me for a $60 disposal fee. I looked up from my soggy tissue in astonished disgust. “We paid the Humane Society for this thing, and she ruined a quarter of our furniture. No! I will not pay you any more.” I garnered some attention from onlookers, setting precedence for the next patrons.

A young pup with its infant needs seemed minimal compared to paying trash services to crush our ruined furnishings and having a home smell like urine. What I’d forgotten was that some dogs and men are like children that never grow up.

For weeks I made calls to Labrador breeders in Colorado Springs, attempting to divine a trustworthy one, whose canines had admirable AKC lineage, lineage I would quickly nip in the testicles with a timely visit to the vet. Once I finally felt firm in a decision, Ivy, the gifting friend, and I drove a diagonally long distance from our home to the breeder’s. After a half-hour visit inside their house, then some chilly puppy play in the early December snow, Ivy chose her new companion—a romping, fuzzy, gold, kumquat-on-steroids-shaped puppy with six appendages.

Because he was too young to be separated from his mother, we agreed to return the week before Christmas when he’d be eight weeks old. My friend and I split the $400 cost since he suddenly and surprisingly couldn’t afford a whole dog, and we excitedly and expectantly drove toward home to prepare for the fuzzball’s arrival. Ivy and I purchased books on natural nutrition and training, leashes, food and water bowls, alfalfa, kelp, salmon oil, vitamins, food, and a bright red collar to complement his beautiful gold fur.

Anyone who has chosen a child for adoption knows how difficult it is to wait all those weeks anticipating the new life in their home, so four days early, I called the people many miles diagonally from me and made my way to retrieve this newly named retriever. On the crazy return drive southwest, Shiloh wailed and leaped around in the back of my Trooper like a cat in the dryer.

At the elementary school, I parked in my usual place, carefully opened the back of the Trooper to leash the Euphorbic* jumping bean, then bounced him on the sidewalk to go and greet his fifth-grade sister.

Children and puppies. They aren’t much different from each other. Both get really excited to see the other and wet their pants like my new boyfriend does when he sees me. Ivy took one look at Shiloh donning his Christmassy collar and let out a little yelp. Shiloh, not really recognizing Ivy, felt he needed to emit an obligatory “hey!” then all the other kids heaped over him like a scrum of soccer players.

Children and puppies are also different. Children eventually go to the bathroom on their own and not on the floor, feed themselves, walk without a leash (except one guy I know), and essentially, grow up.

Canines don’t. They become adults in their own right, but good, caring humans still need to assist them with potty breaks, twice daily feedings, fresh water refills, lots of exercise, almost constant attention. Unlike a cat, you can’t leave a dog or teenager for the weekend and hope to find the house in the same condition you left it in. Essentially, dogs don’t grow up. They grow older and, eventually, even more dependent on their caregivers to determine the locations of their aches and pains and other ailments, for which the caregiver has to pay, or pretend not to notice till death do you two part.

It takes a lot of work, time, and money, more for some dogs than others. Shiloh is the former.

Not that admonishments steer the emotionally blinded in a different direction, but I am here to advise anyone who is thinking about adopting a dog to seriously consider and write down all the possible consequences.

The excitement of having a puppy can certainly replace sanity, sleep, and ever having a clean, puke- and excrement-free home. And if you truly believe you are getting a pet for your child, you’re wrong. Don’t ever, that means never, believe your child will rise to parenting until he or she is married and becomes a parent.

I honestly didn’t think I’d have to handle most of the dog-ownership responsibilities. Ivy was healthy and capable of handling any chores associated with Shiloh. When I was 10, our family had a dog, 40 head of cattle, multiple cats, ducks, and horses, and all needed our entire family and hired hands for care, and believe me, I worked all the time, in the home and on the ranch. But just because I’m industrious and a hard worker does not mean anyone close to me is, which is quite an unfortunate thing.

And although I was good at addition, I hadn’t mastered subtraction until 2011 when Ivy was about to dash off to college and Shiloh was almost eight. Labs live to be about 12, so, right, I will care for him all by myself for another four years, a total of 12 years of my life. Trapped. Can’t leave home. And I can’t bring people here, because Shiloh’s a puker.

Alex was more human than canine and was little to no work. Shiloh’s another animal. He pukes all the time, for years, anywhere and everywhere. I sometimes spend weeks sucking up vomit with one of my two shampooers, then redoing each spot the next day and often the next, which can number seven huge spots each day. All upheavals coming from a 100-pound dog and the expensive food such an animal can consume. An ultrasound revealed no cancer, no blockages. Blood tests showed nothing too unusual for a Lab his age. He eats too fast, and sometimes puts stuff in his mouth that doesn’t belong there, then swallows, which is one of the reasons I cannot leave him outside.

Once he had a major mishap, causing me to go into shock. Fortunately Ivy’s dad came to the rescue, physically, emotionally, and financially, or I’d have had to put Shiloh down. And there are days I wonder what would be easier.

And since Labs are socialites, he’s alerted us to two kittens in the backyard who needed a home, asking if we could keep them. Yep, more testicles to nip.

So if you still want a dog, remember this long story and send me a note. And if someone offers to buy you a dog, or even half of one, go with neither. It’s just my opinion.

* Originally I’d used “Mexican jumping bean,” whose definition is (usually) a Euphorbiaceae seed containing a moth larva that grows and moves inside the seed. Therefore, meshing this seed with Shiloh’s anthropomorphic characteristic of euphoria led me to coin a potentially new word.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bensberg for Colorado Springs District 3 City Council

My daughter means everything to me, and I am voting for Jim Bensberg. Though that might sound like a non sequitur, I will explain why it is not.

In 1997 when Jim was working for U.S. Senator Wayne Allard, my daughter, age four at the time, was court ordered to visit opprobrious people, two biologically related, two not. Even now when she returns to Colorado from college, more events surface that make my gut wrench.

Of the myriad public figures I contacted—political, legal, entertainment, such as Oprah, and others made public circumstantially—Jim was the only human being who helped.

Most who have been in a stressful situation know, the brain can function on survival mode. Fearful for my daughter’s safety, yet doing what I could without retribution, my challenge was finding an objective legal defense group that could potentially save my daughter from further court-ordered abuses.

Jim found that group for my four-year-old.

Finally knowing someone in the world cared about children’s safety, happiness, and well-being, I breathed a bit deeper. And though my little girl was forced into unspeakable situations for another eight years, she became empowered through Jim’s help and that of a police officer. At 12, she emancipated herself from that horrifying situation. Everyone, especially her many teachers who worked to help her throughout elementary school, immediately saw the metamorphosis from an injured little girl into a beautiful, intelligent young lady.

I thank God for Jim Bensberg.

Jim believes as I do on another vital issue: money. As he has grown to become a friend of our family, and I his, we both live conservatively, wisely, with thought. Waste is not a part of his lifestyle, private nor public. One needs only to see Jim to believe that point—he maintains a healthy, trim physique.

Learn more by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


My last post stimulated the imagination of one reader to such an extent, he couldn’t contain himself. So he sent me an email and said he wished I’d have extrapolated more on condom modifications, and since I didn’t, he did. Building on his momentum, apparent expertise, and discretion-challenged ways of expression, I toned down and added to his new business plan.

Being a man of age and experiencing all physical implications of a less-responsive body, he liked the idea of selling condoms in a variety pack—but for the same user, just different situations. Here are our joint efforts.

All-occasion Pack for the Mature Man
• Brick: deep-red-colored condom with sparkles for the deflated
• Awesome: geometric design gives the illusion of greater proportion (and for the man with too much to offer, a reverse design creates a less-ominous mien)
• Memories of Olde: musical, sepia-colored condom plays one of four Frank Sinatra tunes from Songs for Swingin’ Lovers! when fully inserted, with emphasis on the bass (“You Make Me Feel So Young,” "I’ve Got You under My Skin,” “Makin’ Whoopee,” “Anything Goes”)
• Earth Daddy: for the environmentally conscious, comes with a doggy bag, so the wearer can take the leftovers home for proper recycling

My friend also suggested the Repackaging Your Package Pack
• Wyoming: sheepskin interior condom bleats satisfied after a few minutes; this model has an opening at its end for men with vasectomies
• In the Mooood: flexible, durable, calfskin leather with an inoperable, decorative outer zipper—it doesn’t take much to imagine what a real zipper could do
• Asia: Velcro-fastened, tiger-striped, sarong-style wrap for the exotic look
• Steed: zebra-pattern, rivulet-textured thick condom aiming for the younger woman

After a Few Beers Pack
• Chrome: metallic-appearing finish designed with pipes and racing stripes
• Measurably Better: buff colored with subtle, black lines delineating each half-inch, and starting with 2
• Tulips: two voluptuous, thick lips imprinted into this model for when your date won’t come in
• Condamend: sufficiently padded to offer the inebriated less embarrassment

Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


At my age, reading the fine print is more than difficult—it’s sometimes impossible, particularly poring over the ingredients of skin care products. You know the kind: antiaging, antiwrinkle, antibagging, antifart-producing, anticlogging (noncomedogenic), anti-belly-fat-producing creamy stuff, the kind of stuff most guys don’t give a crap about. I want to look as young as my mind says I am, and at the rate I’m going—forgetting simple math and acting childish—my mind figures I’ll be entering junior high pretty soon.

One day I set out for King Soopers, my favorite grocery store, with the goal of reading and comparing antiwrinkle cream and lotion ingredients. Once I identified the best product for the money, I planned to purchase two so I wouldn’t have to subject myself to this embarrassing ordeal more than once a year, like sex. I thought of carrying a magnifying glass, portable potty, and a bottle of wine with me, knowing this project would consume some time, which would give me time to consume some wine, but instead I grabbed my best seeing-up-close glasses, ones I likely scored for an entire dollar plus tax.

Into the store I skipped, demonstrating I was younger than I looked. After picking myself up off the floor, I headed toward skin care. Comparing these age-defying skin formulae felt much like choosing feminine hygiene products when I was a teenager or like evaluating condoms to keep on hand just in case. Really now, what size package was I buying for anyway? Forward-thinking packagers and marketeers should offer a condom variety pack, a just-in-case-the-first-one-doesn’t-fit kind of thing. (Maybe they do already.) And for the small guy, shouldn’t condom manufacturers offer padded sheaths just as bra manufacturers do for the less endowed?

I’d already been buying Olay Complete for a couple years, and Olay was promoting their new Regenerist product line like a guy promotes his best friend, so I gave it some attention. And here is where this whole exercise was worth its weight in coinage: Olay Complete with SPF 15 and Regenerist Age-Defying Anti-Wrinkle Daily 15 SPF had the same ingredients, but the cost was very different:
4.0 ounces of Olay Complete with SPF 15 cost $7.35 that day ($1.84/oz),
3.4 ounces of Regenerist Age-Defying Anti-Wrinkle Daily 15 SPF cost $14.50 ($4.26/oz), and further research showed that
2.7 ounces of Regenerist UV Defense cost $22 ($8.15/oz).

It’s all about the packaging! So I bought two more Completes and smiled as if I’d just been laid in a field of soft, green grass with no bugs.
As an addendum, my generous, beautiful daughter (see her on previous post) bought me a perfect present last year. No, it wasn’t a year’s subscription to or AARP, not even a body pillow with appendage or a one-way flight to Bermuda. She sent me Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair moisturizer (1.0 oz for $20). Had this thoughtful gift come from a member of the opposite sex, the giver might well have found mini-sized, padded condoms in his stocking at Christmastime, but my daughter received a big thank you from her old mom.

Now that my second one-ounce bottle is low, I decided to conduct research on its ingredients compared to my previously purchased Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle cream (1.4 oz for $13.50). Both products contain retinol; however, the less expensive cream lists retinol as ingredient number 10. If my aging eyes are seeing correctly, and if my mind is calculating accurately, the more expensive one lists retinol as number 26.

So again, I’ll likely skip, carefully, into my favorite grocery and purchase Olay Complete and Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle, knowing deep inside my skin-covered soul that I’m still going to get older and wrinkle. What I’m really in a quandary about is how to repackage myself so I can charge a higher rate. What would I sell, though?

But the bigger question is, if a guy repackaged, would he have two?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

One Precious Strand

Recently as I did the laundry I found something that brought back a sweet memory. In a whoosh moment, it transported me back to early December 2012 after the deep, navy-blue clouds of November had parted. Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, had passed, thank god, because for three years I’d spent it alone, and the one in 2010 devastated me to such a point, I almost died. But I tripped and stumbled my way through the final remnants of November and greeted December with as much hope as a wounded heart could muster.

It’s funny how my mind can linger on depressing events and make them as bad as the day they happened. Some are life altering. Some have changed a tradition that began after my daughter’s birth—our own traditions, like our annual Thanksgiving dinner shared with friends around our big marble table. She’d ensure the placemats were lint free and the napkins’ open edges faced left. It drives her crazy when I don’t fold them properly after washing them, but I’ve learned, as all obedient moms do, that daughters know everything and to heed their advice. When our friends would arrive, the feasting and storytelling would begin. I missed that for three years.

And then I got the text. “I’ll be in Colorado Dec 18,” my baby girl wrote. Even without toothpicks, I was able to open my squinty, depressed eyes a bit further. and I felt a warm well of hope bubble up from inside. My daughter, my raison d'être, was coming home for Christmas.

Now, my funny mind also romanticizes good memories and sometimes makes them better. In my daughter’s younger years, she slept in my bed with me, not all the time, but particularly after her nightmares—and she had a lot. I’d hear her get up, use the toilet, then walk back into her room and turn on her light. I sleep through nothing.

“Did you have a nightmare?” I’d ask.

“Yeah (pause). Can I sleep with you?”

“As long as you don’t kick.” That’s another funny thing, how a little girl can start on one side of a king-size bed and end up kicking me in the gut on the opposite side. Even with my body pillow in between us, her little foot somehow packed a powerful under-the-pillow punch, so I learned to sleep on a one-foot width of space. Eventually, her subconscious took over and she quit kicking, and I had fewer bruises. So I hoped when she came home, we could fall asleep talking as we sometimes did, like college roommates or good girlfriends.

Another tradition we started years ago was our annual Christmas Eve soirée. We invite about forty friends to pop in for a bite to eat and have a cup of holiday cheer or stay the night if they’d like. The event always fills our home with loving energy for weeks afterward. Memories of guests’ mini gatherings warm the house and replenish the spirit. I wondered if my 19-year-old boss would like to continue that event.

“We have to,” she texted. “It’s tradition. And we have to make our chocolate-chip chili, ’cause people expect it.”

A month’s worth of despondency lifted like removing an x-ray-proof lead apron. I felt as if I’d taken a ten-pound dump and could breathe again. During the following week, I pulled Christmas décor from its box and, with the help of a few notes on where the decorations were to be placed, the house soon started looking bright and festive. Even the gal in the mirror donned an occasional grin and brighter-colored clothes.

December 18 finally arrived, and due to nature’s way, my daughter’s flight was late, but safe. During her time here we played a lot of Ping-Pong, chess, and Pick Two. She even bought me four new pairs of pants, the first new clothes I’ve had in seven years. and I had a treasure hunt for her on Christmas morning. Then on her last night here, I heard her get up at 4:00 a.m., use the toilet, then walk back into her room and turn on her light.

“Did you have a nightmare?” I asked.

“Yeah (pause).”

“Do you want to sleep with me?”

Click. Off went her light. I heard her walk into my room and get into the other side of the bed.

“Good night.” I said, smiling. “No kicking.”

“Night,” she groaned.

* * *
A week after my daughter had flown back to college and I was cleaning my bedding, I saw a long strand of thick auburn hair that somehow made it through the washer. I slowly pulled it from the twisted, brick-red, grizzly-bear flannel sheet and held it up to the light. It shimmered and changed tones as the wavy strand caught light. Butterflies danced in my tummy.

So simple. So sweet. So miraculous. A precious memory of a beautiful daughter captured in one precious strand.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Soon after Anita and I sat down at church, I said, “I’m hungry.”

She looked toward the front of the church where the large table sits, nodded, and whispered, “Don’t worry. Communion.”

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Travel, Holidays, and Other Thoughts

“It’s a small world until an airline loses you luggage.” LAWestin, Jan. 3, 2013

“You don’t realize how much you need something until TSA ruins it.” LAWestin, Jan. 3, 2013

“There’s a correlation between shampooing the carpet one day and either the dog vomiting, the cat emptying his bowels, or a friend spilling a glass of red wine on it the next.” LAWestin, Dec. 15, 2012

If there isn’t one already, there should be a law I will dub Auntie’s Law whose definition is “as soon as you make a commitment to accomplish a goal, complications will erupt like a volcano and flow searing lava over your life, halting all action toward accomplishing your goal.” Auntie Eartha, July 16, 2012

Negative emotions and closed-mindedness stunt spiritual, emotional, and psychological growth.

Is our country and those things for which our country stands important enough to die for? Even if United States citizens don’t stand behind or vote for a particular president and his policies, ideas, and beliefs, our nation still has a better chance of thriving if we work together toward common goals, such as peace, sharing meals, and exhibiting positive actions to indicate our connectedness to each other. A president needs receptivity to absorb others’ input sans judgment, while actually trusting and believing himself. Do we currently have that?