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 Ultimate Test Question



Please explain:  (Hint:  Be sure you understand the meaning of each word, before you write your answer.)

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be.”  Thomas Jefferson


I shall await your responses.

Gullibility: $



New-Small-Designer-Slim-Women-Red-font-b-Wallet-b-font-Thin-Zipper-font-b-LadiesMe thinks there is a substantial percentage of American consumers, who are so gullible they pay outrageous prices for routine items.  Of course, my daughters are in that group. To me, a handbag or wallet fulfills a need.  To them, it is a fashion statement.  So I ask you: when was the last time you ogled someone’s wallet at the store checkout?  When was the last time you coveted someone’s choice of paper towels or toilet paper?  When was the last time you envied someone’s plastic bottle of water?


This week, I was early to an appointment, so I entered a designer grocery–the kind which caters to folk with more money than sense.  I perused the inflated prices: boneless, chicken breasts at $5.99 a pound, broccoli crowns at $4.99 a pound, and the deli was serving $10 a cup coffee.  I found this curious as the day before I paid $1.47 a pound for boneless chicken breasts.  Obviously, something is seriously wrong with my palate.  Chicken is chicken.  Beef, however, is another matter.  (Ribeye steaks are far superior to round steak.)


Yet, the most outrageous item I saw on my adventure was one, peeled navel orange in a plastic container. It’s price: $6.00!  Had I known folk were so gullible, I would have picked my plentiful oranges, peeled and contained them, and undercut the price by one dollar.  Damn!  I’d be wealthy!  Maybe, next year.


Oh Package! Where Art Thou?


Every year I send navel oranges to friends and family.  Since navels are “Christmas oranges,” I usually mail them before the US Post Office gets overwhelmed with packages. And again, this year I did so on December 11.  The boxes went to New York, Ohio, and to Texas.  Since they were sent priority mail, I had tracking slips.

However, I usually get a text or a call from the recipient long before I get around to checking on them.  I’d heard from New York and from Ohio, but not from my sister in Texas.  Curious.  I texted: Did you get the citrus?  “No” was her reply.  Now, I was involved in a mystery, for according to geography, Texas is much closer to Phoenix than NY or OH. I entered the tracking number to find the lost parcel.  OMG!  I was astounded!  The oranges and limes must have decided to go on adventure!

They fled my sister’s Houston suburb, went to downtown Houston–perhaps to ride the Ferris wheel, and then took off to Dallas.  In Dallas, they were sent back to my local post office–less than five miles from my home.  According to tracking, those bad boys arrived on December 18.  Christmas and New Year’s came and went.  No citrus returned.  Weird.


On January 4, I received a brown envelope from the mailman.  Enclosed was this box top. (Since the original was addressed correctly and neither my sister, nor I want to be deluged with fan mail, I altered the label.)  Also enclosed was a letter, dated December 24 from a Dallas postal facility.  It read:  An empty wrapper with your address was found in the mail and is believed to have been separated from a parcel during handling (see attached portion of the wrapper.) Really?  The package was allegedly in Phoenix on the 18th.  How could the top of a large, flat-rate box been separated from it…unless, someone in the postal service knoshed on oranges and squeezed lime in beer?


Included was a form to file for missing items.  A laborious form that mandated receipts for whatever was in the box, plus serial and model numbers, sex and size of clothing articles, etc.  I tossed the form.  I have better things to do than worry about errant citrus.  However, the next time I send a box to my sister, it will be filled with….




2018: Welcome to the 70’s


I never said, “I’ll be glad to watch this year go; hopefully, next year will be better.”  Every year of my life has brought its challenges and laughter.  Granted, each year has been different–sometimes 360 degrees different, but still each year has been interesting, confounding, and humorous.

As I child, I didn’t like January 1, even though we celebrated my paternal grandfather’s birthday I was bored by the endless, TV football games and dreaded I would go back to school tomorrow.  For me, it was a very long stretch to spring break and summer vacation.  Further, it would be months before the sun shone, the daffodils appeared, and I could rid myself of boots and a winter coat.  I’d be sentenced to a classroom writing a report about George or Abraham, cutting and pasting hearts on doilies, wearing green, ad nauseam.

Admittedly, 2017 changed my life.  While it has been a year of joy and accomplishment, it has been a year of introspection.  Now when a major home improvement needs done, when a big-ticket appliance breaks, when I get the itch for a new car, I make each decision based on a 20-25, year warranty.  Yes, 2018 will bring my 70th birthday.  A most anchoring realization.  I don’t want to replace an air conditioner when I’m eighty, nor dicker with car sales folk.


Yet, 2018 will also bring my youngest’s 30th birthday and her magical, fifth year as cancer-free, so I’ll suck it up.  I’ll turn 70.  I’ll publish my first novel in collaboration with my brother.  I’ll get another tattoo, buy a puppy, and take a riverboat cruise on the Mississippi, if I can find someone who wants to tag along.  But most importantly,  I’ll throw a big party in celebration of my youngest, fifth cancerversery.


Let the ball drop, NYC.  Dr. Suze is ready for 2018!  Happy New Year!





Arizona is awash with pricks!  Before you get your knickers in a knot, I’m not being bawdy.  The reality is the desert is full of pricks.  Perhaps, piercing needles are the first line of defense for smoldering summers, or perhaps, deadly burrs and barbs help flora survive.  I don’t know.  But Mother Nature early on forced me to employ a landscaper.


Of course, I, first, tried to control errant cacti by myself.  Then an inch-long spine impaled my leg.  A jumping  cholla attacked my foot on my way to the mailbox in my flip flops.  An agave ripped open my wrist when I tried to free a lost baby quail.  I was so stupid to think I could trim a palo verde tree and survive–wrong, my arms looked like I’d been in a lion’s den.


Bougainvillea and other gorgeous flower plants also wreck havoc.  When picking grapefruit, oranges, limes, and lemons, as most of the branches have razor-sharp needles.  I’m glad I don’t take blood-thinner.  I would need a transfusion for the amount of times I’ve been stuck.

So if you come to my house for dinner, don’t have one too many and end up with these pricks!



The Cicada and The Tortoise: A Curious Tale

Admittedly, I’m a technological immigrant.  Further, I’m technologically challenged.  I belong in a special class with any 10-year-old teacher.  Even five-year-olds today, know more than me.  My daughters and the school board folk have drug me into this new arena, and I know just enough to be dangerous.  While I enjoy that the world is now just one arrow key away and adore my cell phone convenience, I abhor “auto correct”  and the feature of speaking rather than typing. Lord knows, I sent far too many incoherent messages and emails.  A heinous crime, when the author is an English major!

On the other hand, I laugh uproariously when I receive one of these messages.  This week I received the following:

Scan 2017-9-30 18.21.01

Hmm.  A large cicada, which looks like a desert tortoise.  I was engulfed in laughter.  A family pet?  Even funnier.  Did they clip its wings so it wouldn’t fly off?

Really?  I see no likeness in the least.  Yet, I was sad I have no artistic talent.  Can you imagine the joy of creating such a creature?  I bet Dr. Seuss would have drawn and made millions on this hybrid character.

My neighbor and I had several hilarious conversations discussing the email.  We concluded the sender must be whacked.   Twas, not the case.  Damnable auto correct was at fault.  Behold the sulcata tortoise.


The Act of Kneeling


The flaming hot topic of the week!  Despicable, disrespectful, disgusting, degrading.  Perhaps to some whom haven’t been inside a church in decades, but to those of us who have, kneeling is the antithesis of defiance. In Luke 22:39-41, Jesus prayed on the Mount of Olives: Then, he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed….


Theologian Fr. Seraphim noted kneeling has been one of the “Most potent weapons against pride” for over two thousand years.  He concluded: “To this day, find a humble person, and you will find a person who kneels, regularly and consistently.”


Now folks will continue to disparage every person who fails to stand when the National Anthem is played.  But if the non-standing were dishonoring the American flag and the US military, wouldn’t they have chosen an ostentatious demonstration of disrespect  rather than kneeling?

Believe I’m no fan of professional sports.  I object to the outrageously high ticket prices, merchandise, and salaries.  I resent that TV weekend programming revolves around games.  Yet, hundreds of thousands of Americans avidly support their teams.  So, I, too,  am a protester, Mr. President,  but it has nothing to do with Oh, say can you see.  And with all due respect, sir, perhaps you should try kneeling.


Swimming with O Rings

IMG_1141 2

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!