Fluffing My Aura

aura, yogaJune is a happy month for my family. But it’s also a month that I need to fluff my aura a lot.


Until a few months ago, I never knew about the joy of fluffing. Sure, I’m a yoga-believer. I try to meditate once in a while, and during my long walks, I definitely find myself in a “different mind-space” at times.


But normally, I’m as stressed as the last (and first) person. Life, you know? It springs surprises and quirks, leaps and jerks, every day. Sometimes, I just want to hide under a good book and escape – but most times I’m unable to get away from the hustle/bustle of daily irritations, situations, and difficult deliberations.yoga, warrior pose, aura Continue reading

Never Say Die

cat, nine livesWhen my friend calls me from her home in the northwest, she’s tearful and sad.

“What’s the matter?” I ask.

“It’s Honey,” ‘Pat’ explains. “She’s gone.”

I’m not surprised, but I try to sound shocked and sympathetic. Honey is much loved by Pat, yet she gives Honey the freedom she believes a cat should have. Living in a wooded area, Honey slinks out of the house at all hours of the day and night, but by dawn, she always returns home with a smirk and sometimes a feather or tiny tail in her mouth.

“Let and let live,” seems to be Honey and her keeper’s motto, and for 9 years Honey has lived long and hard.cat, nine lives

Pat adores the aging feline, who has fattened over the years, despite her roaming adventures.

But the morning of Pat’s call, Honey is not in her customary cushioned pillow on the sunny spot in the kitchen corner. Honey is missing.

I figure she’s probably used up her nine lives.

Pat discovers a service she’s heard about, but never believed existed.

Hunting dogs that find lost, injured, or killed cats.  

dogs, catsThe dogs arrive a day and a half after Honey has disappeared. They search Honey’s home for items to smell – her ball of string, her pillow, her bowl. And then they take off with a bark, their trainer and Pat trailing behind.

They all race through the wooded paths, up the hills, down, over and around, for a mile, the dogs barking, hot on a trail, the humans puffing and stopping now and then, hands on knees, praying they find nothing, but wishing the dogs would stop.

Suddenly, all three animals lay down on a wooded path, panting hard, staring straight ahead.

“What are they doing? Why’d they stop?” Pat asks, looking around for some sign of Honey.

“The death smell,” the dogs’ trainer explains.

“What?” Pat trembles at the words.

“My dogs stop when they catch the cat’s death smell. She’s gone. Probably coyote. You might find her carcass somewhere near this spot, but most likely, there’s not much left.”

My friend trudges home, disheartened, depressed, mourning the loss of her treasured kitty cat.

Two days later, a despondent Pat answers the doorbell – a neighbor who lives down the street standing in the doorway wearing a puzzled expression.

“You missing your cat?” the man asks.

“Yes! Why?” Pat replies.

“I just heard a frantic meow – some fuzzy animal is stuck underneath my garage.”

Pat runs the 200 yards to the rather slanted garage with a dirt hole underneath it. “Honey?”

A responding meow answers back.

A shovel and shouted encouragement soon brings Honey, minus death smell and a few pounds lighter, back into Pat’s arms.

When she calls me with the good news, I want to shout out the moral to this story.

But I don’t, because I’m not sure what it is.

What do you think it might be?

cat, dog, hunt

In the Dog House

doug house, Cypress InnMy man and I celebrate our anniversary this month by escaping to Carmel-by-the-Sea, “a seaside town…in the pine forest.” Romantic sounding, yes? But to add even more romance, we decide to bring Henry, the dog.

Not entirely our idea at first. A good friend recommends that we stay at “Doris Day’s place” right in the center of town. Doris, as many of you may know (well, I suppose only those 50 and over are familiar with the sweet actress…) is a huge animal lover and protector, so only makes sense that she owns a lovely old inn in an upscale village that encourages visitors to bring their furry friends.

We realize that this is someplace different immediately upon arrival, when the doorman pets Henry,  welcomes us  (yes, in that order), and asks if we need a refrigerator for Henry’s special diet needs.

“Umm, no,” we respond, unsure of what diet he’s talking about. Do some dogs arrive while on the Atkins Diet, or more appropriately perhaps, the South Beach Diet? Later, we realize our ignorance.

Henry is escorted genteelly to our room on leash by a porter, and then given his own water bowl and soft fluffy dog bed. My man and I glance from Henry’s bed to ours, and fleetingly wonder which one is most comfortable.

Doris Day, Cypress Inn


Soon after, we stroll down to the leather-chaired bar, full of Doris Day movie posters and memorabilia. One of her 1950s movies streams continuously on the walled flat-screened T.V., and I’m tempted to watch it as I sip my microbrewed beer, but honestly, the scene right next to me is much more enticing.

As we munch on honey-roasted peanuts and sip our drinks (Henry lying comfortable by our table, of course), locals and guests amble in with their companions, greeting each other’s pets by name (“Bruno, have you gained a little weight ole chap?” and “Daisy darling, were you groomed yesterday? You smell divine.”)

(Readers – side note: I am not exaggerating!)

I spy a mother-daughter couple coast in with their two Weimaraners, as sleek and lovely as their owners.  I squeeze my eyes shut, hoping they don’t take the empty table next to ours. I’m not an unfriendly sort, but by the look of their Weimaraner, Cypress Inn, dog hotelexpensive face lifts and haute couture clothes, I don’t think we’ll have much in common.

Au contraire. The pair from L.A. can’t be more friendly as they discuss their rescued dogs (2 years and 5 years old), their special diet (raw only – ohhh, thus the need for refrigeration), and their routine of baking a fresh pumpkin, weekly, to help their dogs’ joints.

Over the top? Yes, in my opinion, but honestly, these people just love their animals and want them healthy and happy.

The neatest part is that in the smallish bar, with two goldens, two weimaraners , a standard poodle, and the largest brown lab I’ve ever seen, as well as their humans, everyone gets along famously. No growls, no barks, just a sniff here and there, and then a few contented sighs as the dogs sit by their best friend’s side.

All in all, the weekend is marvelous fun, and Henry is extremely grateful that we’ve brought him along (plus he loves the special treats waiting for him each time we pass the reception desk).

When we leave, my guy notes that, really, this is an Inn for Dogs, in which their humans are allowed to stay also.

Henry stares at us as if asking, “and what’s wrong with that?”

dog house, Golden retreiver, Cypress Inn

An Unexpected Friend

friendship, friends, man's best friend, smileI make a new friend on a recent trip to the right coast.

His name is Oliver, and he’s my brother’s dog.

This golden lab mix, 5 years old, is about as loving a being as you’ll ever find anywhere on this earth.

As I arrive at my brother’s Maryland home, Oliver waits for me at the front door like I’m a long-delayed special guest. The tip of his tail wags first, as if he wonders if I’m as nice as he’s been told. When I greet him happily, bending down so we can meet eye to eye, his wag travels down the rest of his tail, and then onto his body, which can hardly contain his excitement.

Yes, we bond immediately.

Oliver brings me his special stuffed muskrat. friendship, dogs, dog toy

He tours me around the acreage of his family estate, proudly showing off the peach and apple tees, the vegetable garden, and the strawberry patch.

When I rub him down, he talks to me with a prolonged squeal, similar to the sound of a young boy swallowing helium.

An endearing trait.

When I sink into the hot tub with my brother and sister-in-law on a cool but gorgeous Sunday morning, Oliver splays himself on the pool curb besides me, licking my cheek every so often, just checking up on me.

dogs, hydrantIn other words, we become fast friends.

I take Oliver for a 45-minute walk, and he shows me every colorful hydrant in town, and introduces me to the neighborhood cat, who enjoys playing “chase me up a tree.”

But then it’s time to say goodbye.

With suitcase at my side, I stand by the front door. Oliver approaches quietly, sitting in front of me, ramrod straight, gazing into my eyes and then suddenly, lifts his left lip so high it almost reaches his nose.

I stare back, open-mouthed.

“That’s his smile,” my brother explains.friendship, man's best friend, woman's best friend


I curl my lip in response and hug my new-found friend with fierce appreciation.

We find friends sometimes in the most unexpected places…

Covered in the most unexpected body types….

Offering unexpected joy and love.

As I return to the left coast, I find myself seated in the plane, curling my lip often as I think of my new unexpected friend.

friendship, dog friendship, smile

The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions – the little, soon forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look or heartfelt compliment.
(Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

Letter to Myself, December 28, 1969

Dear Pam,

Believe, believe, believe in yourself. Truly, you’ve got to believe me in this. (Ha, get it? Believe in yourself/believe in me?).

Yes, we’re one and the same, only I’m you more than 35 years later. Strange, huh?

But you believe in strange things, don’t you?

Trust me when I tell you, you’re beautiful. You’re not fat. You’re not awkward-looking. And you’re not uncoordinated. In a couple of decades, you’ll be running 10-mile road races. You’ll be stretching in amazing yoga positions and walking an hour a day.

letter to younger self

Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you wrote a book with that title now, you’d make a fortune! You’re probably puzzled about what that expression means, but basically, continue like you are.

For a teenager, you don’t worry much now except about the large things, like “is something wrong with me because when I look out the window, trees turn gold and white and I feel like I’m flying?” and “am I really an alien who was placed here on Earth to mingle with the creatures from a different planet?”

Keep asking those questions – they’ll entertain you throughout your life. But you’re so right to not worry about whether that red mini-dress is too short, or if Bev is shunning you because her boyfriend Tim pays attention to you. In fact, Tim will leave Bev for you, but that’s another story, and I’m not supposed to tell you your future; I’m just permitted to leave you words of wisdom for that future.

Oh, be nicer to our brother. Chuck is so off your radar now, but pay more attention to him. Decades from now, you two will become good friends, even though you never live near each other, and you’ll fly thousands of miles to vacation together, and go to each other’s kids’ weddings. He’s a good guy. Stop treating him like a door mat.

Here’s another word of advice that will knock your socks off (and by the way, feel those fluffy thick socks you’re wearing now? I’m still wearing the exact same kind of socks while I sit here typing to you, oh so many years later). KEEP ON WRITING. Right now (in 1969), yes, I know you have your diary hidden in our underwear drawer, and those two short stories you wrote are stashed between the third and fourth books on the second shelf of our bedroom bookcase. Guess what? In the future, not only will you stop hiding your writing, you’ll share your stories – personal pieces as well as your fiction –  on a public ‘web’ forum for friends, family, and lots of strangers. Okay, Okay, I lost you here, but I’m not lying. Truly.

Finally, your love for our sweet dog Suzie, and her love for you, teaches you to be a good friend, a warm and loving mother, and a faithful companion to several special dogs in your future. Give her a special hug tonight.

And after mom closes the bedroom door, let Suzie hop up and sleep with you.

Happy New Year!

 Love from your future self, adult letter to teenaged self

December 28, 2012