Our Anniversary

Terry and I celebrate our twenty-seventh anniversary today, and we’re still as crazy about each other as ever.

decadent dessertCelebrating our anniversary the last couple of years has been interesting. Two years ago, for our twenty-fifth, I had just gotten out of the hospital after a setback following my surgery, and was very limited in what I was allowed to eat. Last year we were in the early days of the pandemic, but as I recall what got in our way was the weather. We had planned on going to Dattilo’s, the first-class Italian restaurant on the other side of town. We had ben hit with some heavy rain, however, and didn’t want to drive across town with flooded streets and intersections. So we had dinner at the bistro in the lodge here at Four Seasons. It was a Thursday, which just happens to be their Italian night, so that worked out.

This year, still in the midst of the pandemic, we are limited to outdoor dining if we want dinner in a restaurant, and it’s too wet and cold for that. Our plan is to have dinner from Dattilo’s at home courtesy of Grubhub. Terry found a marvelous decadent dessert at the grocery store. That will work well.

The Jewish Passover Seder contains the words, “Next year in Jerusalem!” My thought for our anniversary: “Next year in Cambria!” (With dinner at the Sea Chest, of course.)


farewell to a family home

My dad’s house went on the market recently and we quickly received an offer. On the same day that we said goodbye to Tasha I learned the buyer had accepted the counteroffer that my brother, as co-executor of our dad’s estate, had submitted. That is good news for many reasons, of course, but it is sad to think that a house that contains so many memories will no longer be in the family.

Dads houseMy Grandma and Grandpa Monaghan, my mother’s parents, built it. They moved into the house in 1958, the year I turned five. When I was young the greatest treat I could have was staying overnight with them. I called it staying “all day and all night,” but it really was just late afternoon on Friday to midmorning on Saturday. Grandma would fix my favorite foods for dinner and breakfast. Grandpa would give me a lot of attention.

The house was the site of many family gatherings over many years. We would have Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthday celebrations there. It has a medium-sized family room and a big living room, so it could accommodate a lot of people. We had some pretty large Christmas and Thanksgiving events with family members coming in from out of town. I had many birthday celebrations there with more immediate, local family. Those events generally included Broasted chicken and spice cake with chocolate frosting.

Grandpa died in 1980, and when Grandma eventually moved into an independent living community my mom and dad moved into the house. Dad stayed there after my mother’s death in 1989 and remained in the house until his own passing last August.

The house is on a corner, with the front door facing north and the driveway on the other side of the house facing west. Next to the driveway is a gate onto the patio, which takes you directly to the family room via a sliding glass door. Local family and friends always came into the house that way. Out-of-town extended family and less frequent guests might use the front door. One time when Terry and I lived in the Bay Area and were visiting Hemet we went out to see Dad. For reasons I don’t recall we went to the front door. My dad’s greeting: “You think you’re so special coming in the front door?”

So many memories, indeed.


Remembering Tasha

We said goodbye to our four-footed child Tasha on Monday. She had had a very difficult weekend, not being able to keep down any food, and moving around with great pain and discomfort. The vet said that he suspected kidney failure as well and confirmed for us we had made the right decision.

TashaTasha had quite the life and we are glad that she had it with us. We had lost Misty, the fox terrier that Terry brought home from Oklahoma after her grandmother’s death when Misty was already ten years old. Terry was between jobs and had time on her hands, so she went to the local shelter. She was looking at a terrier who looked a bit like Misty when behind her this small, energetic dog seemed to be saying, “Hey, you. Over here. You don’t want that sad, blue-eyed dog. You want me!” Terry and I had agreed that we would name our next dog either Tasha or Kira, both Star Trek names. She called me at work and said, “I think we’ve found our Tasha.” We went to the shelter together to visit her and she did everything she could to entertain us in the play area. We put down our money and visited her every day until we could take her home, after being spayed and getting her shots.

We brought her home on All Saints’ Day, November 1, 2005. When we took her to our vet, she told us that Tasha appeared to be about a year and a half. We decided we would establish her birthday as May 1st, in memory of my Grandma Monaghan, whose birthday was that day. That made her two on May 1, 2006. So Tasha was over sixteen years old when we lost her.

On that same visit to the vet she told us that Tasha looked like a beagle-terrier mix. That made sense to us. But one of Terry’s friends gave her a dog calendar each year for Christmas, and one day Terry pulled off the picture for the day and there was Tasha! The caption read “border terrier.” We were well versed in Tasha’s herding tendencies, so we knew that was it: she was a beagle-border terrier mix.

Tasha was always the energetic girl, and she made sure she had two walks a day. She was very active going up and down our stairs in Gilroy. When we moved south to Hemet in 2015 Tasha did a superb job of making that dreaded I-5 trek with us. She was happy to be with us in our new one-story house, and when our furniture arrived three days later she was pleased to have all of her familiar smells.

Tasha was a dog of routine, more than any other pet Terry or I have ever had. Here in Hemet, when 6:30 p.m. came around she wanted to make sure that one of us was in the kitchen starting dinner. After dinner, when it was time to put our feet up on the bed, read the newspaper, listen to jazz, and enjoy our adult beverage, Tasha (being the beagle-border terrier mix that she was) made sure that we were headed in the right direction, and checked up on us if one of us was in the wrong part of the house.

She was always the loyal and loving dog. Terry had her knee replacement surgery in October 2018. I had my intestinal surgery in February 2019 and a setback in March. Tasha was fully there for us each step of the way. Terry’s surgery was outpatient and we were home that evening, but I had two hospital stays. Terry says that Tasha wondered where I was when I was gone, and I experienced her right there for me when I came home.

Tasha had her health issues, as older dogs do. She was on thyroid medication for several years. Later added to that was a probiotic for her digestion, and after that pain medication for her arthritis. Still, she thrived and did well, and she was an integral part of our lives each and every day. She did pretty darn well until the last few days.

We love you, Tasha. We miss you big time. And we are relieved to know that you are no longer in pain.


Tasha: still thriving

Today is All Saints’ Day: November 1. All Saints’ Day only occasionally falls on a Sunday and I rarely publish a blog entry on a Sunday. But I always blog on All Saints’ Day. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that I don’t write about All Saints’ Day on November 1, but I write about bringing Tasha home from the shelter.

TashaIt was on All Saints’ Day in 2005 that we brought Tasha home with us. When we took her to our vet she said that Tasha appeared to be about a year and-a-half old. That would make her sixteen and-a-half today. She is doing pretty well for an elderly dog.

Our girl has lost some weight, but that in many ways is a good thing, as with her arthritis the weight loss makes it easier for her to get around. She is on three medications: one for her thyroid, a probiotic to help her keep food down, and a pain medication for her arthritis. The original pain medication caused her stomach problems so the vet switched her to a different medication, which is a lot more expensive, of course. But that’s what we do for our child.

Tasha wants much shorter walks these days, but some things have not changed. She still insists that someone head into the kitchen to start dinner at around 6:30. She still leaps and bounds through the great room after dinner when it’s time for her cookie. And immediately after that she herds us into the bedroom where we put our feet up on the bed, read the newspapers, and enjoy our evening libation. That’s when she gets her chew, for which she waits impatiently.

We are pleased and grateful that Tasha continues to do so well.


things that won’t happen again

I rarely write in a melancholy mood, but sometimes the melancholy catches up with you, particularly in these days of COVID-19 and bitter political division.

One thing that has been missing in our lives in this time of pandemic and quarantine is the ability of the family to get together for breakfast on Saturday. Terry and I gathered with my brother and sister-in-law, my nephew and his daughter (later his fiancée became part of the group), and my dad who was the primary reason for this weekly routine. We had our restaurant rotation, but for most of us our favorite spot was DJ’s. We knew the staff, including the owner Grace and her daughter who waited tables, and they knew us. Their lease was up and the owner of the building wanted a long-term renewal. Grace, nearing retirement age, declined. Their last day of business was Halloween 2018.

Far more significant than that was the loss of my father in August. We did not lose him to COVID-19, but because he was ninety-one and his organs had simply reached the limit of what they could do.

I had forgotten that this picture had been taken, but Google found it for me on the DJ Restaurant Facebook page, which is still out there. It is a reminder of happier times.

One day the family will be able to safely gather once again and enjoy a meal out. But Dad won’t be there with us. Not physically anyway. And that I think is justification for some melancholy.

DJs restaurant


still going

Today is May 1st, and those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that means I am writing about our child Tasha. We long ago designated May 1st as Tasha’s birthday. We brought her home from the shelter on November 1st, All Saints’ Day, in 2005. When we took her to the vet in Gilroy a few days later she said that Tasha appeared to be about a year-and-a-half. We decided to designate her birthday as May 1st in honor of my beloved late Grandma Monaghan. That makes Tasha sixteen today. Amazing!

TashaWe did have a health scare recently. She had some intestinal bleeding, so the vet here in Hemet prescribed her a probiotic and told us to take her off the arthritis pain medication (which she had just started and which was helping her greatly). We had an appointment scheduled for a few days later. (Spaced out appointments due to COVID-19 and social distancing, you know.) The vet took an x-ray and thought he saw a mass on her spleen, so he sent it to the radiologist. Turns out that it was just the position her stomach was in for the x-ray. Tasha is now on the probiotic long term and on a less harsh (but more expensive, of course) arthritis pain medication. A hefty vet bill, but Tasha is well worth it. She is a happy girl and it’s a relief both to see her poop looking normal again and to see her moving around comfortably.

We have always made a point of taking good care of Tasha and feeding her quality food. We don’t know her origins, as animal control picked her up on the mean streets of Gilroy all those years ago, but clearly she contributed some very solid and healthy genetic stock.

We are both so delighted that Tasha is still going and still going well.


Tasha: still surprising

Today is November 1st, and for me there are always two things of note on this day. It is All Saints’ Day on the Episcopal calendar, and it is the day in 2005 on which we brought Tasha home from the shelter.

When we first brought Tasha home she had a lot of puppy in her, and when we were away she would go through the trash cans in the house. We bought multiple covered trash cans to deal with that. It eventually became something that we didn’t worry about too much.

TashaWhen we moved south in 2015, without even thinking too much about it, we put an uncovered trash basket in the laundry room. That wasn’t an issue until a couple of months ago, when, on two instances, Tasha tore into that trash basket. She still has the puppy in her when the urge arises. I went to Target and bought a covered trash can for the laundry room.

At her age, however, she is still adaptable. Her afternoon walk has always been mid-afternoon, around 2:00 p.m. or so. But this summer it was just too hot, so we shifted her walk to early evening, around six-ish. She was happy with that. She seemed to agree about the heat.

Tasha is our amazing child who still keeps us surprised after all these years,


Tasha at fifteen

Today Terry and I celebrate Tasha’s fifteenth birthday. We don’t know her exact age, but given the vet’s estimate of her age when we brought her home from the shelter in November 2005 and our desire to honor the memory of my Grandma Monaghan, whose birthday was May 1, we are comfortable and confident in saying that she is fifteen today.

TashaTasha is doing well. And she has done well looking after us. When I brought Terry home from her knee replacement surgery in October Tasha immediately knew that Terry needed love, attention, and protection. She provided that. After my surgery in February and my subsequent, unpleasant setback in March Tasha knew the same about me and provided the same. During my two hospital stays when Terry was home alone, Tasha, unsure of my whereabouts, looked after her.

Of course when we are both in good shape and doing well she is her usual self and very insistent on her routine. When it starts to get light outside in the morning she wants her breakfast. She needs to have two walks a day and her dry food in the evening. If one of us does not head into the kitchen around 6:30 to start dinner she lets us know that needs to happen. And after dinner she has to have her cookie and then we need to head into the bedroom and put our feet up on the bed to read the newspapers, but only after giving Tasha her chew.

She has been an integral part of our lives all these years. We really cannot overstate how much we love and value our girl.


real whipped cream

Terry and I had a good Thanksgiving. We were joined by Terry’s sister Julie who drove up from El Cajon with Laura, long part of the family, who would have been Julie’s mother-in-law had it not been for a fatal car accident decades earlier. With Terry recovering from her knee-replacement surgery we chose not to cook but rather ordered a take-out pack from Hometown Buffet.

whipping creamThe package included two pies, a pumpkin pie that we enjoyed here and a cherry pie that we took out to my brother’s house later in the day. I made the decision, without really telling anyone, that we would have fresh homemade whipped cream. The day before Thanksgiving I made a dinner that called for heavy cream in the recipe, so instead of buying a small single-use carton of cream I bought a large one.

I put the cream in my Kitchen Aid stand mixer bowl, threw in a little sugar, attached the wire whisk and turned the mixer on high. I had a few moments of panic when the cream did not become whipped, but I kept my Kitchen Aid running, kicked it up higher, and soon, voilà!, I had whipped cream.

Terry, Julie, and Laura were surprised and pleased. I was happy with my accomplishment. It made for a nice touch on an already fine Thanksgiving.


farewell to a local institution

I believe that I am correct in stating that DJ’s Restaurant here in Hemet was the longest continuously operating locally-owned restaurant in the San Jacinto Valley. That ended at 3:00 p.m. on October 31. We almost lost DJ’s once before a couple of years ago, but they were able to work things out with the landlord. This time the landlord wanted a ten-year lease, and that was just too much for owner Grace at her age.

DJs signIt’s a shame. The family, that is, Terry and I, my brother Brian and sister-in-law Bobbie, my dad, and sometimes Bobbie and Brian’s son Eric and his daughter, get together regularly for breakfast on Saturday. If my brother calls and asks me where I’d like to go and we haven’t been to DJ’s in the past couple of weeks that is always my suggestion.

Grace, her daughter, and other crew members, many of them family members, are great hosts. The food is tasty, down home local restaurant fare and the service first-class.

DJ’s is not replaceable. We will miss it.