The dog days of summer….and fall


Working in the hospitality business goes hand in hand with working strange and long hours.  I can adapt to the hours but my dog is the one who takes the brunt of my lifestyle.  I will never leave her outside on a chain to battle the elements – she is firmly ensconced in our home, lazily spending her hours watching the wildlife from the comfort of my bed.  I have several people who are more than willing to come over and let her out during the day because she is such a happy dog and, for me, having her be the excuse to leave work for thirty minutes is wonderful.  She is never a prisoner in her home – she is akin to a wealthy home owner with servants to look after her every whim.

During these long days, I often wonder how she bides her time.  Is she going through kitchen cabinets?  Has she mastered the satellite remote?  Does she inventory my refrigerator?  But each day when I get home from my struggle to survive my sometimes 10-14 hour days, she is there to greet me and nothing in the house seems out-of-place.  Until a few months ago…..

I returned home from my usual work day and I was greeted by the reassuring excitability that I have come to expect.  The house, as usual, was completely intact.  The garbage was untouched and the serene ambiance wrapped its arm around my shoulder and pulled me into its embrace to welcome me home.

My attention was immediately diverted to the duvet cover and what seemed to be a single article of clothing bunched up in the middle of the bed.  It wasn’t shredded and remained intact, however the entire shirt was extremely damp.  She had been licking my shirt for the better part of who knows how long, focusing on the remnants of deodorant I had left behind.  The baffling thing was, had I not known where the shirt was originally, I would never have known how she got to it.  My closet is masked by a cloth shower curtain that poses itself as a makeshift door.  Somehow, she was able to remove the shroud of the curtain, gingerly lift the shirt from the pile of laundry in the basket and replace the curtain so nobody would catch on to her devious plot.

As much as I miss her during my day, it struck me at that moment how much she truly missed me during her day.  The writing was on the wall, or in this case on the bed.  My scent comforted her during her lonely day and it made my heart ache to realize that fact.  We have a very close bond and one that she feels as much as I do.

I can only take solace in the fact that my work days will soon become shorter and more structured.  My time with her will increase and perhaps her need to be close to my deodorant-saturated shirts will abate somewhat because I will be here in the physical form and not just the odoriferous form.

And who knows, perhaps in the meantime I can save myself a fortune on laundry.

Ahhh….the profanity comes flooding back….

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I don’t have children but my countdown to the beginning of the school season is just as exciting.  There are no giant red X’s on any calendars but the anticipation for the first week of September is palpable.   While the teachers prepare their rooms with the letters of the alphabet strung across the top of the chalk boards, I am only concerned with three of those letters.  N-F-L


(one of my favorite pics of my dad)


My child-like excitement for the sport is well-known throughout my friends and family and especially by many others who are members of my football pool.  My incessant emails begin during pre-season and escalate substantially as the NFL ramps up to the first kick off of the regular season.

I prepare my dog for the blast of profanities (my sports-related Tourette’s syndrome) that will inevitably be passed from my lips only to fall on the deaf ears of the referees.  This is a beloved family tradition passed down from my grandparents and who am I to argue with tradition?  They were masters of the verbal barrage of expletives and were not selective when it came to yelling at referees  – hockey, football, baseball umpires, nobody was safe.  I reserve my assassination of the English language specifically for the line judges, field judges, side judges and back judges of the NFL.  There are also a few well-placed curse words expelled during fumbles, sacks and interceptions.  (I don’t discriminate.)

I have been busy over the last few days preparing my three pages of football sheets for the over 60 participants in my football pool.   Let the games begin and let my grasp of the English language be slightly marred.  Hell hath no fury like a woman watching football!!

Following the bubbles

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I have never been scuba diving but I understand the basic premise.  Suit up, don the tank and explore a world beyond anything I will ever see first hand.  There is a joy for me in having OASIS on my channel line up, knowing that I won’t have a panic attack meters below the surface of the water but still being able to enjoy the beauty of the ocean from the comfort of my living room.


(image credit)

I have learned many things about the ocean and its inhabitants by watching documentaries and TV mini-series.  I have been amazed by the palette of colors the ocean is able to paint itself with, the varied species of creatures who contribute to life under the sea and the vast array of reefs and wrecks still waiting to be explored further.  But I learned more from the bubbles than I did from the documentaries.

Scuba divers follow their bubbles to the surface when they don’t know which way is up.  Sometimes the simplest solution is the one that saves you.  The more I began to think about that, the more I realized that those bubbles represent the most important people in our lives.  When we find ourselves a little lost or unsure of where we are headed, we look to those people for support and guidance, knowing they will always lead us to the place where we can once again catch our breath and feel like we are above the surface of our dilemmas.

Thank you to all the “bubbles” in my life…the friends and family who have been those small beacons that help me out of moments when I felt like I dove too far.  The world is a vast ocean and I am but one diver amidst a sea of intrepid mariners trying to navigate their own waters.

We each have our own collection of bubbles to turn to for refuge and a path to safety and I’m fortunate that I am able to exhale and know those bubbles are always there to guide me when I need them.



A place on my shelf but a much bigger place in my heart

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Perhaps it had been sitting on his shelf, collecting dust, for a few years.   He probably looked at it frequently, knowing that I would be in possession of it some day in the future and I’m sure, deep down, he knew he would not be the one to present it to me.

It arrived on my doorstep a few days after learning of his passing the week prior.  I was crushed to hear that he had left us.  But the sentiment in the gift is just as heart-felt now as it would have been had he been able to give me the gift himself because that gift meant that he valued the relationship we had developed.

It began 20 years ago.  I was working a summer job in the pro shop at a resort and he was a man hosting a charity golf tournament to raise money to find a cure for the illness that took the life of one of his children.  As a family, they hosted that tournament every year and I was happy and honored to become a part of it every spring.

As our relationship developed, so too did the amount of time we spent outside of the tournament hours.  Our Friday afternoon “meeting” before the Saturday tournament consisted of a “two-finger” pour of rye and coke.  I made my way back to my office in a bit of a haze since his two-finger measure was his index finger and pinky finger with a good inch and a half in between.  Had I been a smoker, I would have been extremely concerned about having an open flame so close to the fumes I was exhaling!

He was charming and he was a dedicated family man.  He always had a kind word, a comforting hug and a heart of gold.  The family tournament came to an end when his health was a bigger concern.  I eventually changed jobs and we lost touch, apart from the odd phone call, but I always have and always will carry him close to my heart.

God speed, Tom.  You were a special part of my life on this Earth and you will be a very special part of my memories.


It’s not narcissism if someone else writes it

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He wandered in from the past like a daydream.

The words in his email hung in my reality like a cartoon balloon.

I had spent months trying to track him down,

hunting him like he was an endangered species,

 trying to bring him back into the safety of our tribe.

But he was in the wind.

He left no scent of his trail and he had found refuge in his own world.

 After leaving the chase behind,

we became the hunted and he, in turn, became the hunter.

There is a muted sound that is made

when two worlds collide.

It is the sound of making right what was wrong,

of discovering things you hadn’t realized were lost,

of filling a space you had forgotten was empty.

 And even after all the time that has elapsed,

some days it feels like he never even left.

He is that consummate friend you know will always be there,

even if it is twenty-five years later.

He is the man who any mother would be proud of,

(and other mothers would have a crush on).

He is a man I am honored to call my friend.

It is not often you can find another heart on a sleeve

that recognizes that placement as a strength and not a weakness.

He is a kindred spirit, a confidant,

and he is a friend I will not let disappear again.

When a Bubble Guppy goes from a mystery to a memory


Life is a perplexing thing.   There is no rhyme nor reason to the circumstances of our daily existence.  If there were a giant book of instructions and an elongated list of logic explaining the happenings in our lives it would be in a language nobody could decipher.

We are not meant to know the meaning of things that occur while they are happening.  We are merely challenged to learn from the events we encounter and use that knowledge to enhance our future.  I found myself in the middle of one of those moments last week.

They were a lovely family, originally booked to visit the lodge in July but had to postpone due to a medical diagnosis that required immediate action.  Even after rescheduling their vacation, a last-minute trial became available to help battle her recent diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Two trips to St. Margaret’s Hospital during their four-day “vacation” were made much more bearable by their one “magical” day at Shamrock Lodge.  I was extremely fortunate to be a part of that magic by being asked to make a “Bubble Guppy” cake for her daughter’s 2nd birthday.

I had no idea what a Bubble Guppy was but my longing to make this vacation memorable was overshadowed by my ignorance and this is the cake that arrived at their table and made three generations of their family smile….especially the two older generations.


I will forever remember driving home that afternoon to finish the cake for an early celebration because her treatment came first.  I will always cherish the look on her two-year old’s face when she realized this cake was for her and it was a Bubble Guppy cake.  And the moment that I will hold closest to my heart is being a part of a celebration that may not happen again if the medical trial fails.

Life is a perplexing thing.  But watching a family hold each other close and truly celebrate together helped me slightly dispel the mystery.

Life is about commemorating the moments we are able to celebrate.  Life is not about worrying about what comes next or what we may miss.  Life is about making the most of the time we have together and living in the now.  Life is about having a Bubble Guppy cake and being able to share it with the family at your table, not ever considering they may not be there for the next birthday celebration. And life is just about being with those who you hold closest to your heart for as long as you can.

If I have learned anything this past week, I have learned that life is too short to spend on things that are not number one on your list.  If there is something you want, chase it.  If there is something you yearn for, pursue it.  And if there are people in your life that make your days brighter, do everything in your power to make the sun shine on them for as long as you can.

You never know when that Bubble Guppy will revert from a cherished memory to simply a mystery.



You have a choice…they don’t

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As the police officer broke the window, I could see the situation was dire.  As much as I wished this were fiction, I could audibly hear the cries from the crowd and the lingering image of the tortured face in the back of the car was eerily memorable.   I have fallen victim to another barrage of Facebook videos that have struck a chord which echoes, and continues to resonate deeply, within every fibre of my being and I am currently writing this post from behind swollen eyes and continual sniffles.

Once things like these videos are seen they cannot be unseen and I will most likely have nightmares tonight.  The torture and suffering that occur are so preventable yet these tragic situations continue to unfold before the eyes of those who are stupefied and forced to take action to avert fatalities, only if they get there in time.  It’s a horrible trend that is so easily remedied, but still continues to happen.

Leaving children or pets in hot cars is inexcusable.  There are NO plausible circumstances that make this a forgivable choice.  A child or a pet does not have the capacity to voluntarily surrender their right to basic care.  They unknowingly give us their permission to nurture and protect their essential needs and wants.  It is the responsibility of the adult to put the needs of others before we consider the unencumbered ease of performing mundane tasks alone.  If speed and agility are your goals for your shopping adventure, find someone responsible to care for your children and pets while you shop.  Even if you think you will only be there “for just a second”, remember you are not the only factor in the equation of your shopping experience.

Life happens.  And while some unforeseen aspect of life is happening to you in Aisle Four of your grocery store, life is slowly being taken away from the living, breathing thing you left in your car because you were going to “be right back”.

I err on the side of caution when it comes to my dog.  She may not agree with my choice to leave her at home while I shop but at least I know she will always be there to greet me when I return home.   She does not have the aptitude to formulate the reason she is in a cool house while I shop for our basic necessities and the temperature inside my car reaches lethal levels.  

hot car

(image credit)

Sure, she is disappointed when I leave.  Sure, I get the cold shoulder on my way by the window.  But I know I have done the right thing by not subjecting her to a life-threatening situation and I know the gratitude I feel seeing her happy face when I return home is enough rationale for me.   She is still conscious and thriving because I chose to “be mean” and leave her at home.

Please, please…..”be mean” to your pets.  Leave them home alone on that hot, sunny day while you pick up those one or two items that will only take you “a couple of minutes”.  Tomorrow they will not remember that you left them at home.  But tomorrow you will feel the horrible regret of leaving them in a car that reached an inner temperature of 140 degrees in 15 minutes and possibly took their life.

Children should never be left alone in a vehicle, period.  Take your child in the store with you.  Face the evil stares from people as your child throws an epic temper tantrum in the middle of the store.  Budget that extra 15 or 30 minutes it will take you to put back every item your child has mysteriously grabbed from the shelves.

Or be the parent who chooses to leave your child with somebody else while you shop.   Feel guilt free if your grocery shopping takes you an extra 15 minutes and enjoy the fact that you don’t have to keep looking outside, wondering what the temperature has risen to inside your vehicle while the life you left inside of it, the child you promised to protect and nurture, endures temperatures that are unbearable and fatal.

For the sake of your child or your pet, make the choice to leave those loved ones at home with someone else to watch them even if you know it will disappoint them.  No item in the grocery store will ever be worth the life that may have been put at risk while you shopped for it.