Constant Companions

Lake Michigan is my constant ever changing companion these days.

Here is the view from my 20th floor window today. I have been looking at the lake this morning, listening to Van Morrison.

His growling soulful voice asks me:

“I wanna know did you get the feelin’? Did you get it down in your soul? I wanna know oh did you get that feelin’ And did the feelin’ grow? Oh did ye get healed?”

A friend of mine, who has since passed away, was a Pottawattamie Native American. She told me that Native Americans view water as “woman’s medicine.”

Well, it sure works for me.

I have another constant companion, my dog Buddy. Minutes can change to hours that drift into whole afternoons watching the lake with my little canine friend lying next to me, The combination of the lake, the dog, and the music wash over me and create a state of inner calm.

So is this “women’s medicine?” Or is this God’s hand?

I don’t have the definitive answer. But I have the feelin’.

And that is enough for me today.


Home is where your dog is

We recently relocated to Chicago from a Midwestern town in Michigan, a place we called home, a place where we raised our two boys. We lived there for 24 years.

It was “home” in every sense of the word, friends, music, fall football games at the local high school, Christmas memories of holiday secrets and very special presents, boys all slicked up for High School dances, pumpkins carved, babies born, parents passing away. Living there was a tapestry of kids growing up, casserole suppers dropped off by friends when times were tough, flowers on the front porch, chatting with neighbors while doing yard work, birthday and high school graduation parties.

Last year my husband, like many other victims of the Michigan economy, lost his job. Michigan has had a particularly rough go of it, with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. After a couple of months looking, we decided he had to cast his net further in the job-hunt and he found a job in Chicago.

We sold our home and most of our possessions and rented an apartment in downtown Chicago. We find ourselves in the curious position of starting over in our mid-fifties. Chicago is a great city to explore and we have discovered restaurants and music venues, museums and other haunts that a smaller town doesn’t provide. And yet, it somehow seems like we are on a long vacation, so much so that sometimes we slip and say “Let’s go back to the hotel,” in referring to our apartment. It all seems like a crazy dream and that any point we will go back home.

Curiously, one of the things that make this place feel most like home is our dog Buddy. He is a conversation starter on the street, he gets us out of our apartment on daily walks, and he is ready and waiting to greet us at the door.

Here is one thing we’ve discovered:
Home is where your dog is.

What’s in YOUR purse?

The other day I reached into the side of my purse to get my keys and found a doggy bag.

A full doggy bag.

No not that kind of doggy bag, THAT kind of doggy bag.

I had walked the dog in a hurry, and not finding a trash bin nearby, I had tucked the doggy bag in the side pocket of my purse with the intention of tossing it in the next garbage can. But then I forgot it was there.

I discretely disposed of the bag (it WAS in a closed plastic bag) with the hope that none of my friends or coworkers had noticed, not wanting some sort of reality TV show intervention like Animal Hoarders or Clean This House!

This led me to consider that the contents of my purse were sort of a window to my world.

Thinking back BC, that would be before computers, children or cell phones, my purse would have contained a small address book, a change purse for phone calls, train tickets, a small Day Runner planner, perhaps a couple of pink “While You Were Out” message slips and a pink nail polish bottle for fixing those well manicured nails chipped by typing on an electric typewriter.

This purse said, “Working! Responsible! Organized! Efficient!”

Fast forward a few years and my purse would have contained a pacifier, baby wipes, an older child’s broken retainer, a Star Wars Boba Fett action figure, a small laminated sheet of the pee wee football team names and probably a petrified McDonald’s french fry or two.

This purse screamed “Mom!”

And now?

Aside from the doggy bag (c’mon, it was sealed tight, and it only happened ONCE, okay?) you might find a plastic doggy bone, a small bag of doggy kibble from the last road trip, and a slip from the drycleaner because the dog barfed on the bedspread.

Yup, my purse says “Dog Owner” now.

What’s in YOUR purse?


We had a laundry chute in my childhood home. Aside from being useful in collecting dirty laundry, it provided entertainment for my sister and me. We would play “office” by attaching strings to messages which we sent up and down the chute. It also provided other kinds of entertainment, most of which I don’t recall.

One thing that DOES come into mind is the time I scribbled with crayon all over the inside of the chute. I am not sure what possessed me at the moment to do this, but I do recall feeling guilty during the act, so I decided to sign the masterpiece with my sister Susie’s name. At the time I wasn’t exactly sure how any lines were needed to make the letter “E,” so I added a few extra just to be sure.

When my mother found the drawing, she asked my sister and me about it. “Who me?” I replied, “I didn’t do it.”The letter “E” turned out to be the smoking gun that identified the criminal, because as my sister pointed out SHE knew how to write her name. And thus I was identified as the culprit.



Well I just identified another criminal.

My dog isn’t supposed to sit on the white chair; the one with the fluffy red pillow. When I got home from work, Buddy was lying on the floor with a sweet little innocent look on his face.

I asked him if he had been sleeping on the chair, but that didn’t get me very far, because when I speak, this is what he hears:


He looked at me with a look on his face as if to say, “Who, me? I didn’t do it. I’ve been sleeping on the floor”

Not getting far with the interrogation, I looked at the pillow on the chair.

Yup, it was squished.



Doggy Chew Toys

Like many young girls of my generation, I grew up playing with a Barbie Doll. For hours a day, I would engage in imaginative play with my beloved doll.

However, having been accused by my parents as having an “overly active imagination,” this did not fare well for my Barbie. She often ended up in dire straits, and most frequently pregnant. I would take the red rubber ball from playing “jacks” and rubber-band it around her waist. She would then run around saying “Oh no! What shall I do?” Ken never seemed to play into this dilemma.

Poor girl never had any shoes either. Yup, MY Barbie was barefoot and pregnant.

I just loved chewing on her little plastic shoes. While my Barbie was running around “in a family way,” I was busy chewing on all of her shoes until they became a mangled mess.

There was something in the texture of those plastic shoes that made them irresistible to me. Often when I asked for a new outfit for my Barbie, it wasn’t because I wanted the outfit; it was because I had run out of shoes to chew on.

Well my dog Buddy runs into the same problem.

As far as I know, he doesn’t pretend any of his toys are pregnant, but he DOES chew them to utter destruction. As of today, the only toys he has left are a mangled blue shark missing his fins, and a shredded KONG Wubba. I just had to pitch several toys because the stuffing was spilling out of them.

That’s OK, Buddy, I understand. I’ll go pick up some new toys for you today.
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On Strike!

Buddy is on a food strike.
Well, sort of.
He doesn’t like his kibble.

I have always added a little chicken or beef to his dry dog food just so that he had a little variety to his diet. I mean, I wouldn’t want to eat the same thing every day, so why should he?

Recently, however, he has begun to eat ONLY the chicken or beef and leaves the kibble. He has perfected this practice to the point that he can eat the meat and spit out the kibble sending it flying across the kitchen with a doggy flourish – paaaa- tooooie!

I know about these things. When I was a child, my mother, like many other mothers in the 1960’s, read in The Ladies Home Journal that children should be served liver once a week. I don’t know if this was an edict from some sadistic food editor, or a ploy by the beef industry as a solution for what to do with all of those beef livers, but I can tell you that my sister and I were NOT fans of liver and onions.

I remember having to sit and stare at the disgusting grainy grayish meat until I finally gave in and ate a couple of bites, lured by the promise of pineapple upside-down cake or some other sixties era dessert. “No dessert until you eat your dinner!” was the rule at our house.

So Buddy, you are out of luck. I am the product of a 1960’s era mother with a steel resolve, and like her, I am not going to give in.

From this point forward, there is no chicken until you eat your kibble first!

Buddy for President!

It is that time in the presidential election cycle when things begin to get, well, a bit dicey. Honestly if I get one more nasty email forwarded or Facebook post about either candidate, I think I am going to move to Canada.

Each candidate begins the race like a playground brawl, with insults hurled, exaggerations of the truth, and much posturing. Then it escalates. At this point in the game, it is at a fevered pitch, not unlike two little boys insulting each other’s mothers with a “Yo Mama! Oh yeah, really? Bring-it-on!” braggadocio.

That wouldn’t happen if my dog Buddy was running for president. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He doesn’t even get mad if you accidentally pour pancake batter on his head. Further, he has attributes that I think everyone would like to see in a presidential candidate.

1. You know where he stands.

No flip-flopping. No running to the polls here, he DOESN’T like plastic bags, he DOES like Milkbones and that ain’t gonna change.

2. He is loyal.

If he is your friend today, he is your friend tomorrow.

3. He is reassuring.

When he snuggles up next to you at the end of the day, it gives you that feeling that everything will be fine. Whatever happened to the kind of President who told us we had “nothing to fear, but fear itself,” or that the “torch had been passed to a new generation?” Messages from the president were once confidence infused. Now all we get it bickering.

Given this, I think Buddy would make an excellent president.

He has my vote.

How Dogs Think

Sometimes our lives get so complicated.

Navigating through a day in an urban environment can be complex and stressful. There are so many choices, so many responsibilities. Just keeping up with twitter, email, Facebook, blogs, and work creates a fast-paced over stimulated day.

It is no wonder that we all get overloaded, and no wonder why people take vacations. The choices are simpler. What shall I eat? Should I lie in a hammock or on a chair on the beach? Should I take a nap? Which little umbrella drink should I have? Repeat.

I think my dog Buddy has it all figured out.

I think part of the reason he is so happy is that he lives a simple life; eat, lick, chew, sniff, go potty, sleep, repeat. That is about it. Here is how Buddy decides what to do each day.

Yup, Buddy you have it all figured out.

Doggy Jedi Mind Tricks

When my younger son was three years old I heard him yelling, “Mommy, Mommy!” in that tone of voice that could mean that he amputated his toe with a Tonka truck or something. My mommy antennae bobbling, I rushed to the family room to see what the matter was.

“I need some chocolate in my mouf!” He proclaimed.

It was in this instant that I recognized in no uncertain terms that this child was mine. No switched-at birth-child here, no mix-up in the hospital nursery, I understood his yearning. So off to the pantry I went in search of a chocolate chip bar disguised as a healthy breakfast item for him.

So why would anything be different with my dog?

Buddy will be in a sound sleep on the couch, awaken abruptly with a lurch and then sit up next to me with a fixed stare, which we call “THE LOOK.”

It is as if he is attempting a Jedi Mind Trick, not unlike Obi Wan Kenobi, in the move, Star Wars: A New Hope.

You know, when Luke, Obi Wan and the droids are stopped by Imperial Storm Troopers, and Obi Wan waves them off, “These aren’t the droids you are looking for, move along,” and off the Storm Troopers go in a daze.

Buddy will give us THE LOOK, and as if we are the recipients of a Jedi Mind Trick, off we go to the pantry.

“Here is a little doggy treat for you Buddy!” we say, victims of his mind mastery.

It turns out our dog is a Jedi Master. Who knew?

May the force be with you Buddy!


How Dogs Tell Time

Buddy always gives us the “GREAT GREETING” whenever we return.

Even if we have been gone, like, for maybe FIVE MINUTES.

Five minutes, five hours, it doesn’t matter how long we are gone, he is overwhelmed with doggy emotion and excitement to see his family again. Tail wagging dog, he runs to greet us, ready for chin scratches, belly rubs and the occasional lick if he can get away with it.

He is so GLAD to see us. He MISSED us so MUCH!
This is how Buddy tells time:

He doesn’t know.
That’s O.K. Buddy.
Hello there! We are glad to see you too.