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.


Tasha, the continuing story

As an Episcopalian I am very conscious of November 1st being All Saints’ Day. However, on November 1 I always write here about Tasha, our child, the beagle-terrier mix. We brought Tasha home from the shelter on November 1, 2005. She is still going strong.

TashaWe appreciate her now more than ever. Terry recently had knee replacement surgery at Kaiser Hospital in Riverside, about a fifty minute drive from here in light traffic. To be at the outpatient surgery center at the appointed time we had left here about 5:20 a.m. It turned out that Terry’s actual surgery time was much later than we expected, and then it took longer than hoped for Terry to be in good enough condition to work with the physical therapist. By the time Terry was actually released it was the middle of rush hour traffic. No fifty minute drive there. It was close to 6:00 p.m. by the time we got home.

We had never, ever, left Tasha at home for so long before. We were concerned about how she would do. There was no sign of her when we came in the front door, but Terry called her and she came trotting in to greet us. Seems she must have been quietly snoozing on the back patio while we were away.

Tasha knew at one that all was not right with Terry and immediately took up her role as protector, keeping and eye on Terry and staying close by. Tasha is our loyal, loving dog.

And Terry, she’s doing great.


our fourteen year-old Tasha

We mark May 1st as Tasha’s birthday. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know how we calculate the formula. We brought Tasha home from the shelter on All Saint’s Day, November 1. The vet said that she appeared to be about a year-and-a-half when we took her in a few days later. So we decided to make her birthday May 1 in recognition of my late grandma Monaghan, whose birthday was on that date. Since we brought Tasha home on November 1, 2005, that would have made her 2 on May 1, 2006, and hence 14 today.

TashaTasha continues to do extremely well. When I took her to the vet in March she said the only part of her that looked that old was her eyes. She was impressed at how fit and healthy she was overall. Tasha has slowed down somewhat. She can no longer jump up on the bed in the evening, we have to pick her up. But she still eats well and can go dashing through the house when she chooses. She no longer barks when there is a delivery at the front door, but she is as insistent as always on her routine. She has to have two walks a day and I need to be in the kitchen fixing dinner around 6:30. We have to put our feet up on the bed and read the newspaper right after dinner.

We’re pleased that our child continues to do so well.


born to herd

When we took Tasha to the vet for the first time after bringing her home in 2005, she told us that Tasha looked like a beagle-terrier mix. We agreed given her appearance and behavior. We further refined our breed designation when Terry opened a new page on the dog calendar that a friend used to give her every year. Terry looked at the picture and looked at the name of the breed and she immediately knew that was correct: border terrier! Tasha has to be a beagle-border terrier mix.

TashaShe certainly knows about herding. If I don’t head into the kitchen about 6:30 to start dinner she’s nearby trying to get me in there. If we don’t head into the bedroom right after dinner to put our feet up on the bed and read the paper, she makes clear which direction she wants us to go.

One recent evening I didn’t need to worry about dinner as it was going to be leftovers in the microwave. We were watching the The Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special which we had recorded. It ran longer than I had expected and it was about 7:00 when we turned the TV off. Tasha made sure that I headed right into the kitchen. Then as I was getting dinner on the table, Terry went off into the front hall for some reason. Tasha went trotting after her to get her back into the dining area. (“What does a puppy do have to do to get these humans to stick to the schedule?”)

That’s our Tasha. Born to herd.