Hey, who pumped up the dog?

Yesterday, Lola the Dog greeted me with an eerie calm.  When she didn’t open her shark mouth at me, I worried that something was wrong.  Late last night, I held her paw and it felt warm and I decided on the spot that she was ill.

Except that today, she was her normal feisty self and came at me with her wide-open slobbery mouth and the tail-wagging that sways her whole body in a happy hula dance.

So, all was well.

Except that tonight, when I returned home from Grace’s soccer practice with take-out food for the kids, I noticed that Lola looked puffy.

I called her to me and took a close look at her face which was swollen to an alarming balloon shape.  I did some Google-searches and (ALLERGIC REACTIONS!  SHOCK!  DEATH!) called my vet’s office, which was closed but had a referral number to an emergency vet.  Then I called the emergency vet, explained the situation, learned that an exam would cost $75 and got directions to the office.

I’m telling you, my dog looked like she was being inflated, face-first.

The diagnosis?  A probable bee sting followed by an allergic reaction.

The solution?  Seventy-five dollars worth of shots containing steroids and antihistamines.

And she has to have Benadryl for a couple of days.

The vet thinks yesterday’s strange symptoms were unrelated to today’s excitement.  I think the puppy should stop close encounters with bees.

Also, completely coincidental is the fact that earlier tonight I was looking for my copy of  The Secret Life of Bees.  Any time I get rid of a book, I regret it eventually.  Drat.

UPDATE:  I found my copy of The Secret Life of Bees.

The house that doesn’t know me

I’ve been thinking lately about travel and about how so many times it’s not really that we want to return to a specific place but that we wish we could return to a previous time.

As a college student in Springfield, Missouri, I volunteered to be matched with a “grandma” at the retirement complex that sat adjacent to my college campus.  For two academic years, I visited a spinster who wore dentures that clacked when she talked.

She served me ice cream and sliced apples with peanut butter and we drank tea.  We sat at her table in her cramped apartment and I told her all about my life and classes and friends.  She told me about being a school teacher and about her friends–especially the 98-year old artist who lived down the hill.

Every week for two years, I visited her.

Then I graduated and moved away.

A few years later, I returned and appeared on her doorstep to surprise her.

She had no idea who I was.


That’s the feeling I get when I return to the scene of my life from days gone by.  I have been known to drive slowly by the house in Marysville, the one where I lived from ages 12 to 18, feeling like I’m casing the joint, preparing to rob it.

That house doesn’t know me.  If I stood and knocked on that door, it would offer me only a blank look.

Past experience tells me this is true of the small rambler in Whispering Firs, the townhouse in Troutdale, the Cape Cod-style parsonage in Michigan, and every other place where I’ve slept and cooked and planted roots.  I don’t belong to those places anymore.  They don’t recognize me.

It’s impossible to go home again because time travel does not exist except in dreams.

So instead, we stroll past slowly, try to peer into the windows, wondering about the people who inhabit the spaces we used to know so well.  Time has changed the locks.

There’s nothing to see here.  Move along.  You don’t belong.


Even here in Southern California, the tan world has turned green, thanks to the recent rainfall.  My roses have burst into colorful song.  Purple flowers blanket hillsides.  Plants everywhere seem in a hurry to green up while they can.

But that’s not the kind of green I mean.  The green inside of me is the poisonous algae of jealousy, the slippery stuff that is hard to scrub off, the slimy green you avoid touching.  My green is envy.

I am vaguely jealous and passionately jealous and jealous for every reason and for no reason at all.

For years now, I’ve pinpointed jealousy as my besetting sin.  While I unwrap the gift of my life each day, my eyes wander.  I don’t want this thing in my hands–I want what she has!  Discontent simmers while I look around and cradle bitterness in my hands.

I want what I don’t have.

When I want what I don’t have, I reject what I do have.  How dare I?

I’m a hypocrite, too.  My 9-year old complains about her beautiful blond ringlets.  She wants straight hair.  “But God gave you curly hair!  It’s so pretty!” I tell her while secretly hating the hair God gave me.  I also hate the body He gave me, from my sparse eyelashes to my stubby fingernails to my short-waisted torso.  How will I convince my daughter to be grateful for what she has when I am so ungrateful for what I have? I treat my own body with contempt.

I’m feeling jealous of the trips other people take, of the cars they drive, of the accomplishments their kids achieve, of the places they live, the people they see, the things they do, the places they’ve been.  I’m unhappy that other people fly to conferences and take vacations and have lunch with friends.  I want, I want, I want.

It’s my besetting sin and I must set it aside.  I want to savor what I have, to want what I hold in my hands, to recognize the priceless gift of here and now.  That’s hard to do if I insist on keeping envy green and growing in my heart.

Product Review: Simply-Bags

The owner of Simply-Bags contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in evaluating and presenting a Summer Beach Bag to my blog readers.

I did not hesitate to say, “YES!”   (I may have a slight addiction to tote bags.)

Here’s the bag I received in the mail:

Isn’t it cute?  (And doesn’t my backyard look green?  It’s been rainy here in Southern California!)

Here’s where you can order one for yourself.  It cost $22.99.

This bag is made of jute . . . it’s sturdy and adorable and has a zipper pocket inside (for your keys or whatever).  It snaps closed.  I love it.  This is the bag I’ll be carrying to soccer practice.

You can see other bags here.  You can get them personalized and I have to say that the prices seem pretty reasonable to me.  Look at the wide variety.

I don’t mean to boss you around, but these would be a nice gift for Mother’s Day or a graduation or a teacher or . . . well, for yourself.   Right?

Anyway, that’s the end of this commercial interruption.


You should know that I did receive this bag free of charge in exchange for my review of it . . . but my views are my own.

Carlsbad Flower Fields

We three–my husband, daughter and I–visited the Flower Fields this afternoon.

Sometimes, you must stop and . . . photograph the flowers.




He is Risen!



Lola. She’s not a showgirl.

This is my dog, Lola.  She rode with us in the van this morning while I delivered Grace to school.

When we got home, Lola was not interested in getting out of the van.

I didn’t want to drag her, so I took a chance and left her in the open van . . . and went to the front door.  Lola scrambled out of the van and rushed through the front door.

I’m not sure what exactly I would have done if she’d run up the street.


The truth is, I’m feeling a little bitter at the moment.  Now, I tend to avoid saying things like that because I don’t need any helpful comments or sympathy or judgment.  And I could shape this into a life lesson and wrap it up with a cheerful bow, but I don’t want to.  I just want to express the way things feel at this moment, even if it’s not pretty.

Perhaps I’m not actually bitter.  Maybe it’s exhaustion.

Actually, here is what it is.  I am a passenger in a car and I want to be the driver.  I don’t want to go where this car is taking me.

Here’s what I want to do:

I want to spend days alone.
I want to plant a garden.
I want to sleep in.
I want to see three movies in one day.
I want to read a whole novel in one sitting.
I want to watch the sun set.
I want to take a walk.
I want people to stop talking to me and asking me things and calling, “MOM?”

Basically, I want to be selfish.  I want to put myself first.  I want to do what I want to do and I don’t want to have to stop to make dinner and cook food that I would never choose for myself.

But I’m just along for the ride.  I work, I take care of kids, I tend to my kitchen, I wash laundry, I shuttle kids to their activities.  And there’s never time left over for me.  It’s like I handed over my driver’s license all those years ago and now I’m just riding along, locked into the backseat.  This ride has no brakes.

Now, of course, there is time for me.  Rarely but sometimes.  And I feel guilty when those times arrive and I have to carefully arrange that time so everyone else is taken care of  . . . and I answer my phone while I’m away because everyone needs to know exactly what time I’ll be back and am I bringing dinner?  Or what will I cook when I get home?

I’d like to time travel twenty years into the future when I have the luxury of  a quiet week and leisure time and less of this scurry and hurry life because I know when the silence comes I will get all nostalgic and wish for just One More Day of all of this.

But right now I’d like to take my car keys and drive up the coast but instead I will sleep for six hours, take my daughter to school, start working, wash my son’s lacrosse uniform for Picture Day, pick up my son from school, have a meeting with my daughter’s teacher, remember that I forgot to plan dinner, debate going to the gym with my boys, drive son to music practice, take a nap and work again until midnight.

And here’s the thing.  I am essentially an introvert who is never alone.  I’m a creative soul who has no creative outlet.  And every time this one plant in the back yard starts to create a bud, a snail gnaws it off and that, my friends, really irritates me.

In memory

Four years ago on this date, my grandma died.  She was 102 years old . . . but in my mind, she is always the way she appears here, somewhere between eighty and ninety, wearing a frilly white apron, a dress and sensible shoes.

And now, a random update of meaningless, but numbered items

I don’t even really know where the time goes.  I still want to talk about February 17, but there is no time to do it justice.

Lately, I can’t seem to get to bed before 2 a.m.  I work until past midnight every night, usually closer to 1 a.m.  By the time I make a school lunch and fold a load of laundry, it’s 2 a.m.  I’m yawning right now.

And now, ten unrelated items:

1)  I saw a roadrunner running across the road this afternoon while on the way to the YMCA.

2)  My puppy is 5 months old now and needs both a bath and to be spayed.

3)  My office is in constant danger of a being buried in a paper avalanche, even though I clean it regularly.

4)  I still think about that time in college that some boy was telling me about his ideal woman.  I said (foolishly), “Like me, only prettier?”  And he said, “Yes.”  That still hurts my feelings as ridiculous as it sounds.

5)  My daughter misplaced her eyeglasses.  I’m sure they’re in her cluttered room but I don’t have time to search.

6)  I would like to eat pizza every day for the rest of my life.

7)  My husband and I went to a very fancy movie theater the other night.  Without even asking, the young man behind the cash register gave my husband a senior discount.

8)  When bangs are in fashion, I do not have bangs.  This applies to pretty much every fashion and body trend there is.

9)  I don’t understand why I don’t ever hear from someone I used to hear from regularly.

10)  My garage is still unorganized from our move last summer, but over the weekend I completely cleaned and organized my pantry.

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