eleven years with Tasha

It was eleven years ago today that Terry and I brought Tasha home from the shelter. At the time the vet said that she was about a year and-a-half old. That would make her twelve and-a-half now. You would never know it.

TashaTasha is as active as ever. She goes dashing through our great room and leaps in and out of her dog door. She can jump up on the bed as easily as ever. She is insistent on her routine. She has to have her two walks a day, and does her best to keep us to our routine. If I don’t go into the kitchen around 6:30 pm to start dinner she shadows me to try to get me in there. She has to be fed her wet food at 7:00 am when the light goes on, and her dry an hour later. She has to have to have her afternoon dry at 5:20 pm after the weather on TV.

She is an amazing, marvelous part of the family.

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our amazing child

I wrote at the beginning of May that our beagle-border terrier mix Tasha had Tasha2016turned twelve on 1 May. That was based on a reasonably logical calculation that you can read about here.

Last week Terry took Tasha in for her annual checkup. The vet was amazed that Tasha was twelve. Terry said that she had to look twice at her chart to confirm that. Tasha had gained a pound and-a-half since a year ago, but as the vet felt her she was impressed that it was all muscle. She only has one small spot of fat.GreatRoom Tasha does get a lot of exercise in our one-story house. She got plenty of exercise in our two-story house in Gilroy, but being in a single story house here, she can build up an amazing head of steam as she tears through the great room. And blast through the great room she does.

We’re so delighted to have such a healthy, active, loving child.


wasn’t it yesterday when he was small?

I have known our nephew Race since he was an infant. He was born in September and Terry and I got (back)

Race Sr., happy grandmother Julie, and Race Jr.

Race Sr., happy grandmother Julie, and Race Jr.

together the following March. That was 1991. I made frequent visits to Southern California to see Terry in Anaheim, and we would often go to her parents’ house in Ontario where Terry’s sister Julie lived with her son the young Race.

Terry moved up to the Bay Area with me, and Julie eventually found her own condo in San Diego and then a larger place in El Cajon. Race grew up and attended high school. I think the last time I saw Race was when he graduated from high school. At the ceremony we sat near his girlfriend Brigida, who is now his wife.

Race attended the Naval preparatory academy and then

Mom, Dad, and Race Jr.

Mom, Dad, and Race Jr.

Annapolis. He struggled with academics and was half a grade point shy of being allowed to return for his senior year. He became an enlisted man and served on the USS Peleliu. When that ship was decommissioned he was transferred to the new aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan, which was heading out to Japan.

In the midst of all of this he and Brigida got married, and Race Jr. arrived about ten months later. Terry flew down for the wedding. I stayed home as a matter of financial prudence, as I had been laid off by that time.

Now we’re here in Southern California and Race recently returned home. He had a botched hernia surgery at the

Terry and Race Jr.

Terry and Race Jr.

preparatory academy and has fought with a lot of pain ever since. So he’s on light duty as the Navy considers the path forward for him. But he is home with his wife and son, and that is a wonderful thing. Julie is pretty happy about that too.

Terry and I were delighted, therefore, when Julie invited us and her friend Doug to lunch in El Cajon with Race, Race Jr., and Brigida on Sunday. Race is amazingly mature and the two of them are great parents. Terry has seen Race Jr. before, but this was my first time seeing him.

We had a delightful time.


Tasha at 12

Yesterday, 1 May, was Tasha’s birthday. Tasha, you likely know, is our beagle-border terrier mix and our only child. We don’t know that it is actually her birthday, but we have designated it as her birthday.

Tasha2016Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that calculation. For those of you who don’t, it works like this. We brought Tasha home from the shelter on 1 November, All Saints’ Day. We took her to our vet, and she said that Tasha looked like she was about a year-and-a-half. As it happened 1 May, exactly six months later,  was the birthday of my late, beloved Grandma Monaghan. So in honor of Grandma and to have an easy way to calculate full years for Tasha, we designated that day as her birthday. It was 1 November 2005 that we brought Tasha home, so yesterday she was 12.

You wouldn’t know it. She is as busy and active as ever. She insists on her walks and on her daily routine. She is, probably, more vocal and more demanding than when she was younger. But she is well, healthy, and active. She takes a thyroid medication, but that’s it.

She is an integral part of both of our lives.


remembering Michael Barlow

The world lost one of its lights on Saturday with the passing of a man named Michael Barlow.

Mike was married to Anita, who was my first wife Ruth’s cousin. He gained a certain amount of notoriety in the 1980’s when, as the chief negotiator for the teacher’s union in the Oklahoma City school district, he took the teachers out on strike. He later left the union and went to work for the school district as their lead negotiator.

But I knew him on a personal level. Ruth, who, you will recall, was Jewish, and Anita were very close, and we visited their house a number of times. The fact that I was not Jewish did not matter to them, and they were very gracious and welcoming. When Ruth and I got married, her mother, Leah, not only refused to come to the wedding but disowned her. Leah and Ruth’s Aunt Dorothy were very close, so Dorothy did not feel that she could come to the wedding. But she did bake a challah loaf and sent it with Mike and Anita who were enthusiastically present.

I always enjoyed the time we spent with Mike and Anita. We did a Passover Seder with them and their two sons one year.

When Ruth was in the hospital and we knew what the likely outcome of her ruptured brain aneurysm was going to be, I asked Anita to come out to help me deal with Leah, with whom I had reconciled, but who was still a basket case (understandably). Anita graciously flew out from Oklahoma City to San Jose and made things a whole lot easier for me. I stayed at Mike and Anita’s house when I flew back to Oklahoma City for Ruth’s funeral.

I knew Mike as a large, robust persona. I knew he had had some health issues, though I don’t know the details. In August Terry and I attended the wedding of Ruth’s daughter Debbie in San Diego. Mike and Anita were there, and Debbie thoughtfully seated us together. Mike was by then a small, gentle, quiet person with a gray beard, but was as kind and gracious and ever.

I was privileged to have known him, and I will miss him.

Michael Barlow, Alav Ha-shalom.


I don’t remember growing older

…when did they?

Terry and I became a great uncle and aunt earlier this month. We were already, actually, because my nephew Eric’s daughter Teaghan was born in 2001. But on 9 November Race, son of Terry’s sister Julie, and his wife Brigida became the parents of Race II.

This is particularly significant to me because when Terry and I got (back) together in 1991, Race was an infant. I remember him being a baby in Julie’s arms as he ran his finger along my forearm. We watched Race grow up, even if we were a few hundred miles away and only saw him a few times a year.

I remember Race, when he was three or four, repeating what his mother had taught him in case he ever get lost. Stating loudly and carefully, one word at a time: first name – middle name – last name – address – city – state – zip code – phone number. We attended his high school graduation before he left for the Naval preparatory academy. And Terry attended his wedding while I stayed home in Gilroy to conserve funds due to my state of career transition.

And now they are two adults living their own lives and making their own decisions.

As is Eric. He was ten years old and had a terribly hard time seeing his mother take off on her honeymoon when she married my brother Brain. But here he is today, divorced, perhaps a bit cynical, but doing a marvelous job of raising Teaghan. If you can say that he is still raising her, as mature as she is.

Sunrise, Sunset.


a marvelous Thanksgiving

Many years ago my first wife Ruth and I hosted a small Thanksgiving dinner for friends without family in the area. Terry and I, however, have never hosted a Thanksgiving in our home. (We did cook Thanksgiving dinner at Terry’s mom’s house one year, but that is a different story.)

This year, as I wrote earlier, we volunteered to host Thanksgiving. My sister-in-law Bobbie’s sister and her husband were not coming down from Reno. Terry’s sister Julie’s son Race is overseas in the Navy, and Race’s new wife has her own family. So it only made sense.

We had some trepidation, but it worked out marvelously.

We told everyone that we would sit down eat at 2:00 p.m. and I called everyone together for grace at, if I recall correctly, 2:23. Not bad.

We had lots of help from my brother Brian and Bobbie, who brought dressing and chafing dishes. We were joined by my dad, Julie, Julie’s long-time friend John, and Julie’s almost mother-in-law Laura. Also present was Bobbie’s mother Phyllis. Sadly missing was our nephew Eric, who was home with a cold.

There was a lot of history at our Thanksgiving table. We had Terry’s Granny’s china, the expandable table that was so much a part of events at my Grandma and Grandpa Monaghan’s house over the years, and the silverware that Grandma and Grandpa Monaghan and Aunt Miriam and Uncle Johnny gave to my great Grandpa and Grandma Osgood.

The turkey turned out well. I also did mashed potatoes and green beans with Kalamata olives and slivered almonds. Terry did salad, Julie baked a pie, and Dad bought two more pies.

And you know what else? I made guacamole from scratch. The non-onion version of which, at least, was a big success.

And Tasha? Tasha was, for the most part, and I emphasize for the most part, well-behaved.

It was a marvelous day.