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.


our amazing child

It’s November 1st, so that means I am writing about Tasha. It was on 1 November, All Saints’ Day, 2005 that we brought Tasha home from the shelter. The vet told us at the time that she was about a year-and-a-half, so that makes her 13 ½ now.

TashaShe is still as active as ever. Sometimes she has a bit of a problem jumping up on the bed in the evening, but otherwise she hasn’t really slowed down at all. She insists on her walks twice a day and all other aspects of her routine are important. She has to have her canned food at 7:00 in the morning when the light in the great room goes on. She needs her dry food about 7:30 when we generally get up, as well as in the evening at around 5:20. It’s important that I head into the kitchen to fix dinner about 6:30 and that we go into the bedroom and put our feet up on the bed right after dinner (where we read the paper and our books). That’s when she has to have her chew.

She is our amazing child and a central part of our lives.


the prodigal?

I love that we can laugh at what once caused conflict.

My nephew Eric, son of my brother Brian and my sister-in-law Bobbie, has grown a beard. It has gotten a bit out of hand in the minds of many family members. That includes his daughter Teaghan and me. At a recent Saturday morning breakfast Eric was describing how he had gotten his beard trimmed and the reaction was, “You did? We can’t tell.”

Prodigal SonI told Eric that when I was in college before coming home for a break I would go to the barbershop in the Claremont village and get my hair trimmed. I would then head home and when my dad saw me he would say, “Why don’t you get a haircut?” Dad just grinned when I told the story. Eric replied, “We’re the black sheep.”

Black sheep? Me?

I was the one who managed my paper route on my own. Brian needed Dad’s help. I was responsible and went to college. I lived on my own and supported myself. Brian stayed at home for a long time, with different jobs and taking various community college courses. He was for the most part involved in public safety in various forms, but eventually ended up with a full-time career path job with what is now called CalFire.

But maybe I was the black sheep. Maybe I was the prodigal son.

I left for college in the fall after graduating high school. I never lived at home full-time after that. Two years after graduating from college I left the state and moved to South Texas, followed by Oklahoma City, and then the Bay Area and Silicon Valley. It would be forty-one years before I returned. Brian was the loyal son who stayed at home. He supported my mother through her long illness and was fully there for my dad after her death. I was engaged in riotous living (you might say) in the Bay Area. I never had a job feeding pigs. However, it was only after the company I had worked for sixteen plus years told me that they didn’t love me anymore (though they did make me a retiree) that I returned home.

Viewed that way, I was indeed the prodigal and Brian was the faithful son.