On Being 105


According to folklore, dog years are multiplied by 7.  Thus, I have a part pomeranian, part yorkie who recently had her fifteen birthday in people years or 105 dog years.  Meet Tessa Marie Jenkins, the centenarian!

Tessa was her original name, but over time, Marie and Jenkins were added.  Why? I don’t know.  In her early years, she was an active, friendly little dog, but then she became a recluse.  She spent the majority of her time under the bed.  So much so, that many of our family and friends asked, “Who’s that elusive dog of which I caught a glimpse?”  She kept her distance even from me.  She ran and hid if I tried to pet her.  I had to feed her in a separate room, as she wouldn’t eat in front of the others.  My kids called her a diva.  “She’s too good for our company.  Such a high-maintenance snob!”


Then miraculously, two years ago Tessa Marie came out from under the bed.  She ate with my other dogs, and she even came to parties.  I took her to the vet for her innoculations and check-up, and the vet said she was in wonderful condition.  “Sue, you must have just had her teeth cleaned.  Her teeth are immaculate.”  I only nodded–little did he know her teeth had never been cleaned.  (I’m not a fan of routinely putting dogs to sleep for teeth cleaning, unless infection threatens their health.)

These days Tessa is a spry, active and very demanding 105 year-old.  She barks and barks until she gets a dog biscuit or three.  I can’t tell her “no” because she is stone deaf.  Yet, when her internal clock goes off, she barks until her dinner is served.  She barks when she needs to patrol the backyard, and she barks when she sees someone at the front door.


Tessa has lived in my house for 15 years and has never gone near the swimming pool.  However, this week, during a romp, she fell in the deep end.  I was in shock!  She’s freaking old; she’ll have a heart attack and plummet ten feet down.  No.  She swam to the side, where my cabana boy rescued her.  Though I was sure she’d have some type of injury or side effect, she shook herself off as we towel-dried her.  She sprinted around the yard; I imagined her singing: Hey, now.  I’m a Rock Star!  I was amazed at her energy.

I guess I need to add this to my daily, dietary intake:






The High Price of Grass


lawn3No, I’m not talking about weed, Mary Jane, Kush, I’m talking about the stuff in my yard–or lack of stuff in my yard.  Long ago,  I chose not to grow winter grass, just summer grass.

In March, I began the task of overseeding, patching, mulching, and fertilizing.  The water sprinklers ran three times of day.  Unlike other parts of the country, the Southwest rarely gets free water from Heaven.  Yet, the dogs enjoy romping through wet grass and leaving paw prints on my floors.


Over a month has passed and my lawn looks terrible.  It’s filled with splotching dead areas which refused to grow–even over the septic tank!  I’ve spent copious amounts of money trying to have an attractive, lush lawn to no avail.  Then yesterday, I received a water bill from the city.  OMG!  My water bill had quadrupled!  It was almost half a grand!  (Water is damn expensive in the desert.)


I’m in a quandary; I don’t know what to do.  For sure, I’m reducing the watering schedule, but should I take out all the grass and put in rock or astro turf?  Resod? Spray paint the bare patches green?  Or maybe, I simply shouldn’t worry about the dismal look of my backyard.  No one can see it but me.  The dogs certainly don’t mind.

Once upon a time, someone said to me, “That’s just like you, Sue.  You always want to take the easy way out.”  I beg to differ.  I’m usually up for a challenge, but with temperatures over 100, an inviting pool, an inflatable lounge, and a cold beer, I’m no longer going to fret over my dismal attempt to grow grass.  Maybe next year.



Swimming with O Rings

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Several years ago, one of my dearest friends since childhood wrote a delightful book, Swimming to Italy.  (It is available on Amazon.)  I was searching for a title for this blog, and hers immediately landed in my mind.

As I’ve noted numerous times, my new life has taken me thousands of miles from my comfort zone.  While I’ve come to understand more about home repairs than I ever wanted to know, I’ve managed to utilize my research and study skills in a plethora of new ways.  In fact, I find it curious many of my friends contact a schlep like me about appliances, plumbers, and cabinet refinishers.

Last week, however I was rocked with a new lesson.  The saga began with a leak in the automatic pool chlorinator.  (This is a wonderful device–under $100– that eliminates the need for rubber ducky floating around the pool.)  The pool repair guy diagnosed the problem–the cap needed a new O ring.  After it was lubed and installed, the leak stopped.


Two days pass and the repairman returns.  The pool motor is surging.  Really, this is a high-end motor, less than 5 years old.  “I think I should just backwash the filter, and your problem will be solved.  You do it regularly, right?’

“Rarely.  I can get the valve down, but I’ve not strength to pull it up.  Even my uber-strong cabana boy has difficulty helping me.”

Pool guy backwashes and decides to take the valve apart.  “No wonder it was so difficult to pull up.  Look at these O rings.”


Now, there were three more, bad O rings in the plunger valve.  Repair done.  New O rings.  All is…NOT well.  The motor surges again, which for you novices means too much air in the lines, which causes the motor to rev like a hot rod at the starting line, which causes blah, blah, blah.

Again, the pool guy returns to diagnose this new problem–another worn-out O ring!  By now, you are as bored as me about TMI and O rings.  Little circles of rubber with very important jobs.  Who knew?  Who cared?  Yet given the critical necessity of their position in the circle of life, perhaps we should all invest in a company that manufactures O’s!








I Am A Slave

Though never held in chains and leg irons, I was a slave.  Isn’t every woman with a husband and young children?  My orders were cook, clean, wash, iron, drive to this class, root on the sidelines, coach softball, host a party, yada, yada, yada. Eventually, my kids grew up, and my husband chose the proverbial other side of the septic tank.

Granted, I was alone.  But I no longer had shackles; I was free!  I could do as I pleased, on my terms, when I wanted to do whatever.  Certainly, I still had responsibilities to all of my dogs, my house work, the pool, the garden,  etc., but it was now solely up to me.  No orders. No timeline.

Then, this free woman did an incredibly stupid thing.  I asked for a Fit Bit for Christmas, and my adorable daughters delivered.  At first, I found it amusing.  I easily viewed emails and incoming phone calls while searching for my cell phone in the depths of my purse.  However, Fanny Fit Bit soon became annoying.


“Sue, I’m here solely to get you up and moving.  You haven’t reached your step goal today.  Your pulse is “X,” your fat burn is “X,” your stair climb is “X.”

“Frankly, Fanny, I don’t care.”

With that Fanny morphed into the witch monitor from hell.  She wakes me at dawn:  “Give me 250 steps.”

“I haven’t had a cup of coffee yet.  Leave me alone.”  I close my eyes; my wrist vibrates.

“Time to get up and get moving.”

Damn.  She’s right; I do need to go to bathroom again–probably, for the sixth time since I initially went to bed hours ago.  One of the perils of aging.  Hopefully, I have another few years before I clip coupons for Depends!


In the meantime, when Fanny demands, “Fifty pushups now,” she will find herself at the deep end of my swimming pool. RIP.  (Unfortunately, shortly after I wrote the last sentence, my cell phone landed in the deep end.  Karma?)

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Cabana Boy=Eye Candy


Several years ago, I was antsy to do something worthwhile; I decided to redo my decimated guest quarters.  Prior to her illness, my youngest and her dogs lived there, and eventually her one whacked-out dog destroyed it.

After all the carpet was removed, I had the concrete floors sanded.  I painted the walls and worked for over a week staining the concrete floors.  Certainly, I didn’t do a magnificent job, acceptable and a huge improvement.  I decorated and used left over furniture, bought new appliances, a new air conditioner/furnace etc.  In short, it was cute.  Someone suggested I rent it.  Me?  Do I look like Ethel Mertz?  Do I want to be a landlady?  Absolutely, never!

“Mom, I have a friend who’s moving here from San Diego and needs a place to stay for a month.  He got a job here, and he wants to check everything out before he rents an apartment.  I told him he could stay here until he finds something.  Hope that’s ok.”

“Do I know this guy?”

“No.  I went to school with him in Colorado for one year.”

“And now, five years later, you’re moving him in to the guest quarters?”

“It’ll be fine, Mom.  It’s just for a month.”


A month became almost a year.  Joe was delightful, and I soon found myself doing his laundry, packing his lunches, cooking his dinners, and advising him on the random girls who frequented my swimming pool. My friends dubbed him my “cabana boy,” given his bi-ceps were larger than my thighs, his good looks, and his adeptness as a bartender.  He took out the trash cans to the the road, he easily opened jars, and he dog sat when I was away.

Joe came in one night for dinner and announced, “I’ve landed a new job back in California.”

“Great!  When does it start?”

“Next week.”

With Joe’s announcement came a line of young men wanting to take his place.  My kid’s high school friend, Bob moved in a month later with his dog.  I’ve known Bob since he was in the 8th grade, so the transition was easy.  He’s just finished his junior year at the university with 3 semesters remaining till he graduates in elementary education.  Unlike Joe, I don’t cook for him, but I do his laundry and have recently taken to charging him “rent.” (Translation:  You give me money, and I’ll keep it until you want it back.  Dr. Suze banking system of forced savings.). Of course, he has bi-ceps and abs on which I gaze.  My friends are a tad jealous of the scenery in my swimming pool.  Yet, every older woman needs a cabana boy to tend to her dogs when she’s gone.  Agree?