In My Mind’s Eye: Remembering Dad

In honor of Father’s Day, my blog today is more reflective than humorous. It’s adapted from an article I wrote in 1997 for the San Francisco Chronicle about the relationship I shared with my dad. Here’s to fathers everywhere…There’s an image I have captured in my mind. I’m in my car in front of the home my parents have shared for most of their 45 married years. Mom and Dad are standing on the front porch.

From the street, I can see the huge eucalyptus tree in their backyard, silhouetted against the evening sky. It’s gently swaying in the warm breeze while the full moon illuminates the manicured lawn. My parents are smiling and waving as I drive away after a visit.

Mom lives alone now that Dad is in an Alzheimer’s nursing facility, so that scenario has changed. But it never does in my mind. My parents always stood on the porch to wave good-bye when I left. Even in pouring rain, they still stood in the open doorway together. I always looked back and returned their waves. Continue reading

Letting Go

I have a problem. If you looked inside my closet, it would appear I love to shop. REALLY love to shop.

closet full 2

Just one of 3 closets

But recently I discovered something I should have known all along: It’s not shopping that’s the problem; it’s rarely purging what I buy. For instance, some of my clothing was popular during the Reagan era. I mean, really…who keeps hip-huggers that long?

hip huggers

Now don’t get me wrong. My apparent reluctance to discard clothing I’d forgotten I even owned came as a surprise to me. Suddenly my closets seemed awfully small. This became evident when it took nearly all my strength to push dozens of occupied hangers aside in search of a particular item. That’s when I discovered a bridesmaid dress from a friend’s 1981 wedding. And no, that’s not a typo. I’m talking 1981.

Hello. My name is Janet and I have a problem letting go. Continue reading

It’s Criminal

It was a crazy busy week. What can I say? Therefore, here’s a post from many moons ago…so long ago I barely remember writing it. That means you won’t remember having read it. So here’s my old new post. Or is it my new old post?…

I think by now we’ve established I have a poor memory. But another area in which I’m sorely lacking is my attention span. Unfortunately, I can’t blame this one on menopause, as I’ve been “skippy” since high school. This is evident by the fact that my friends chose for me a personalized license plate with that name.

So when you put those two deficiencies together, it’s not pretty. I, like many, will walk into a room and forget why I’m there. But instead of getting upset, I get distracted. Continue reading

Saving Artie

I wonder if you’re one of the few humans unaware of the touching 14 minute ESPN video about the stray dog that followed an extreme sports team during their competition in Ecuador. You gotta see this. Now don’t get me wrong; I don’t mean right this very second. I promise the link will follow, otherwise you’ll click on it now and your eyes will well with happy tears, rendering you unable to read the rest of my blog. Therefore, I’m selfishly making you wait.

Arthur and team

Arthur and his Swedish teammates

I’m into cat rescue now but canines were always my first love. Now I’m an equal opportunity lover. I don’t discriminate among 4-legged, furry creatures…love ’em all. So when a friend sent me the video, I had to forward it to our volunteer feral cat feeders to remind them that, although in a different way, they too are saving lives through their acts of compassion for these sentient beings.

bumpersticker

A day later, Michelle, one of our volunteers, emailed to say she and her hubby, Denis, were considering getting a dog and this video confirmed their desire. It just so happened I know a gal, Kathy, who does dog rescue in Tijuana, Mexico. She’d just texted me photos of a black Labrador living on the streets. (Nothing new in Tijuana; there are hundreds.)

Tijuana dog

So when Kathy asked if I knew anyone who might consider adopting this neglected and abused dog, I said, “As a matter of fact, I do.” Michelle and Denis immediately opened their hearts to the idea of rescuing the emotionally shut down Labrador from his traumatic life as a Tijuana stray. Besides, their sons had been wanting a black Lab. Was this meant to be, or what?

In Tijuana, stray cats and dogs are viewed as vermin. They live and die in the streets, mostly ignored, starving, often stoned, kicked, even burned alive. Kathy, who has saved 107 animals there, adopted two of those burn victims. Only their scars divulge their past as they are now happy, well-adjusted dogs.

Kathy's Tijuana dog

Burn survivor, Tesla, loving life with Kathy

Kathy and dog

Kathy at home with one of her 11 rescues

Anyway, I won’t depress you with the details of what this sweet black Lab went through. Suffice it to say Kathy spent over $2000 on vet bills and organized the 11 people it took to help him cross the border and complete the 549 mile journey to his new home in Northern California.

Denis and Michelle

Denis and Michelle meet Artie

Because the dog in the ESPN video was given the name King Arthur, Michelle and her family decided their new pup deserved the same; Artie for short. Initially emotionally closed off, Artie slept a lot. Void of energy and appetite, he mostly kept to himself.

Artie's first day

Artie’s first day home

Gradually, as he realized these people are now his family and won’t hurt him, Artie let his guard down. He was introduced to toys and quickly developed favorites.

Artie settling in

Lovin’ his ducky

He discovered the warm comforts of a sofa (his new favorite spot).

artie on sofa 2

He looks forward to daily walks with other canine neighbors.

MIchelle and Artie 2

Off to meet his buddies

Artie even likes the family’s 2 indoor cats. Talk about a perfect fit.

Recently Michelle thanked us for bringing Artie into their lives, saying, “We couldn’t possibly be happier. He’s really a dream.” But I’m sure it’s Artie who’s most thankful. It’s only been a month since being home, but his transformation is astonishing; his spirit is back. There’s a spring in his step, a brightness to his eyes. Artie knows he’s safe now and above all else, adored.

And what could be better than that?

Artie and the boys

TV time with Denis, Tanner and Dylan

As promised…

http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=18814225

 

 

Rethinking Spiders

spider again

I’ve never been afraid of spiders.

In fact, I don’t use pesticides to eradicate what many consider pesky creatures — the crawly things that visit my home. I have pets so I try to avoid poisons, nor do I want to kill any creepy looking critters. I’m weird like that.

Consequently, my neighbors’ crawly things prefer to come to me where it’s safe but apparently not so sound. That’s because I often find my little friends taking refuge inside my house…in the bathroom Jacuzzi, the corner of the living room, or especially in the garage. In the insect world, word is out where I live. And word travels fast.

I keep Kleenex handy for scooping up delicate insects to place outside. Paper towels are too rough; I might inadvertently squish a critter and have to contend with the guilt. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not fanatic about spiders. But hey, they can’t help it if they’re disgusting looking. Besides, who am I to judge? I’m no prize either.

Kleenex

At the ready

Anyway, for indoor critter recovery I also keep a plastic container handy. Like when a lizard finds its way into the house, or God help me, one of my cats brings in a snake, which has happened twice (that I know of). Sometimes I’ll even scoop up a spider in my hands to gently place on a rosebush near the porch. I imagine it appreciates the gesture so much more than encountering the sole of my shoe.

rosebush

But then last week, as I talked on the phone with a friend, I had a visit by the largest spider I’ve witnessed in my home in the 33 years I’ve lived here. It practically rendered me speechless, something I’m rarely capable of being. I stopped mid-sentence, basically to freak out.

Quickly hanging up the phone, I took a photo of Mr. Gargantuan, AKA Mr. G. I wanted to remove him ASAP. Or sooner. I admit this photo doesn’t do him justice without a frame of reference to display his size, like putting a half dollar next to it. But I’m not crazy. No way was I getting my hand near that monster. Let’s just say it was take-your-breath-away-big.

big spider

Leg to leg, larger than a silver dollar

So I raced to the pantry for my insect-catching Tupperware. My heart pounded as I wondered how I’d capture this spider without it crawling up my arm and biting me on the face. Don’t laugh. It actually happened to a singer, Meghan Linsey. While she slept, a brown recluse spider bit her on the face, gradually creating a hole under her eye.

megan linsey3

As luck would have it, my spider was also brown. I thought, do brown recluse’s live around here? (They don’t.) But how was I to know? Could have been a cousin to Meghan’s spider, out here visiting. Anyway, as I tried scooping up Mr. G, he literally propelled from the kitchen wall onto the floor in one magnificent leap, just like Spider-Man. Then, before I could nab him, he quickly scurried under the door into the garage.

spider man leaps 2

Trying to fall asleep that night wasn’t easy. I imagined every little itch was that same brown spider. Then, to top it off, guess what I found the next day on the exact same wall? A baby spider! I swear to God. But now I’m thinking Mr. G was actually Mrs. G and this little one was her offspring desperately searching for her. That’s all I need — a hole in my face from an angry baby spider out for revenge because I scared mom away.

baby spider

So to recap, I am now afraid of spiders.

brown recluse spider 2

An actual brown recluse. Sorta looks like Mrs. G, don’t ya think?