Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy Holly-days!

Holly, my houseguest for a couple of weeks, smells a bit like Christmas. Like a box of holiday ornaments.

At first, she trembled in her crate and tried to hide from Bill and Elizabeth and my parents. She made a point of grumbling at Jeremy, too, albeit while sitting next to him on the couch.

Sure, she yawns dramatically with her not-so-fresh breath and backpedals when I roll out the treat ball. But she's coming around. Her interests include cuddling and blankets and the occasional udon noodle. She squeaks and chirps when it's time to go out. She's affable, just as Hal said she would be.

Thank you, little Holly, for bringing your holiday spirit. You make the days merry!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hello, snow!

It snowed for the first time this season, and I wished I could find my black ankle boots. Except Chewy destroyed them a few months ago.

So I still have cause to say "Oh no, Chewy."

Though it was hard to give Chewy back, I hope that whoever adopted her gave her a great name that she grew into, like Snuggles.

This weekend I dogsat for Cocoa, who's obedient and low key — so, not like Chewy (or Pops or Ginger, for that matter).

Cocoa's interests include burrowing in the snow and cuddling. She was a lovely houseguest.

And I bought some ankle boots, so the universe is as it should be. Well, almost. Having my own dog isn't in the cards right now, but I'm always happy to dogsit.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

G Phi, G Phi B reunion

Our sorority reunion really started Saturday afternoon, when Ruth and I looked at her old pictures.

Linda, Zoraya, and me
Exactly 22 years earlier, I'd given her a framed photo of us: She rocked a gold sequined dress and I wore a strapless leopard print with rhinestones.

Good times, wearing over-the-top dresses during the day.
On our drive to Berkeley, we talked about who had RSVP'ed and how much we admired Marjorie's genuine excitement at seeing everyone.

Marjo did not disappoint, starting with the pre-party in the hotel room she was sharing with Ginger. Every so often there'd be some shrieking when someone new arrived.

Linda and Nancy
Once we got to the reunion, it was hard to keep up with the wine and food because there was always someone to hug. At some point, Marjo announced, "Wasted!" and gave more hugs and kisses and squeezes to everyone.

I loved catching up with old roommates (I know "old" sounds bad, but I hate the formality of "former"): Merideth. Susanne. Liz, who reminded me of our post-college 1490 Sacramento apartment — and yes, I Googled it.

After the reunion, we did fit in some one-on-one time, marveling at who looks even younger than they did in college (Annie and Norene, are there hideous paintings in your attic?). Linda and Yvonne and Liz and Susanne, I'm so glad we got together.

It was great to be able to say, "I regret having lost touch with you" and then be able to pick right back up. After all this time, it's funny what we remember. I can remember who Susanne set me up with. Her, not so much: "Oh. He was nice."

me and Susanne
The reunion was a night of wonderful memories and horrible selfies. (I'd like to practice and get better at them, but who does that?)

Brenda, Zoraya, me, Liz Q., Alma, Kim, Anne, Ruth, and Carmen
I did miss talking to a few people — Brenda, Kim, and Erika, for starters. We will have to catch up another way. And I didn't get a chance to talk to Julie and Deanna, who arranged everything and got us all together. Thank you!

Let's do it all again soon.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Irish Fest 2014 and 2015

I just realized I never blogged about last year's Irish Fest. Strangely, I don't remember much about it, except that Denise and I were there and that Maggie took this selfie.

Maggie is great about scheduling us when we want to work, and the 4 to 8 shift is really the Fest's sweet spot: fun volunteers, easygoing customers, and time to wander around afterward.

This year's Fest had a little of everything, starting with the parking gridlock. It's too bad this is a thing, going to one lot and then getting redirected.

Within moments of walking into the tent, we were ringing up sales. There was virtually no time to chat with other volunteers (Murph, how are you doing?) or even for this selfie. (And yes, I wore the same dress and earrings last year.)  

Fortunately Jenna, who's in high school but has been volunteering for five years with her grandpa, knew just about everything. She was the go-to person about posters, sizes, and prices on the rhinestone tees. At one point I looked at her.

"Ten dollars," she said. (She just knew I was going to ask how much the backpacks were.)

Among this chaos, Margaret stopped to announce that Denise and I had been volunteers for 10 years. Everyone in the tent applauded and we got our 10-year Irish Fest pins. It was a truly awesome moment, because how often in life do you unexpectedly get applause? Thank you, Margaret and Maggie and Jenna and everyone who makes it so much fun to be a part of the Fest.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Tailgates and mini milestones

The tennis gang has a long, colorful history of tailgating that is not rivaled by a love of baseball. (Though, there are some years when Colleen can name multiple players on the team.) While any jamoke can lean on their car and drink Miller Lite, this group knows how to handle the details: preferred parking passes (thanks, Ron!), clearly marked coolers with ice-cold beverages, homemade chocolate chip cookies, two kinds of hand wipes.

We were all happy to toast a half-milestone: Ron's 65th birthday. It's hard to believe that Ron and Jean's collective 120th birthday was already five years ago. I'm really glad they celebrated that one with karaoke rather than skydiving, which was also one of their options.

It was a night for simple pleasures. Like mobility. (Though, truthfully, when Patty and I were on crutches last year, we were still able to enjoy brunch.) Thanks to Dianne for taking so many photos of us trying to show off our injury-free legs, and also for being the organizer of so many brunches.

I did get a little nervous at the Final Destination-like moment when one of the bolts fell out of the tent. But that passed, and it was really a nice, relaxing night. Almost as relaxing as, say, making a mohawk with Coco's golden retriever curls, which I was able to do later. Who knew that the night could keep getting better?

And no, Doug is not almost passed out — merely recovering from his grilling exertions (or trying to avoid being in the photo with all the enviable white-shorts ladies, of which Beth was also one). He did a phenomenal job with the steaks, brats, and hot dogs. When I hear Hebrew National, I think Doug, for sure.

Thanks to everyone who made the night fun. My first-ever Brewers tailgate did not disappoint, and I'll look forward to going back next year!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Cokes and friends

When I was a kid, I could never find any souvenirs with my name on them. Poor Yukie still has trouble with that. I hope she has at least stopped saying her name is "Vicki" when placing to-go orders ("because that's what people hear").

So when Katy's sister forwarded this photo, I just had to post it. Katy doesn't really drink soda and I never drink diet. Nor as children were we allowed unlimited access to sugary soft drinks. But I've always loved Coke — particularly from bottles or tiny cans, with lots of ice and a twist of lime.

Well played, Coke, with your social media campaign. And Erika, please let us know if you ever find a Coke for Yukie. Or Vicki.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Happy 70th birthday, Terry!

Terry hates being the center of attention and did not want a big shindig for his 70th birthday. Yet our tennis group perseveres in celebrating milestone birthdays. The best way to avoid this is to be in another state during your birthday, but even then, we might still try to celebrate (we're talking to you, Becks).

Colleen thought of everything: the invite, the balloons, the cupcakes. Dave and Patty did a trial run, arriving exactly one week early. A bunch of us (including Dave and Patty) arrived by 8:15 on Friday, eager to find out where Terry was going to make his entrance. 

A few things went awry. But the good news is, Doug mentioned the surprise only once, and Jim got help with retrieving the keys he locked in his car.

And a good time was had by all. The party had everything: fruity mojitos, chicken tenders, and Terry sporting a beaded necklace. He was gracious in his receipt of the gnome, which Jim had lovingly cared for for more than a year.

Terry, you look terrific, you are terrific, and we love you very much. Cheers to you!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Farewell, Chewy

Yesterday I gave Chewy back to the rescue. When I checked in, the counselor summed up my challenges with her as "too much dog."

If you've met Choo, you know that she does indeed have a big personality.

She could open the gate and run full speed through the neighborhood. She'd only poop off-leash (including inside my parents' house). She tried to climb on top of whoever was petting her, even when corrected. "Relentless" is how Jane described her. Choo and I wrestled, sometimes literally, for dominance. For only 40 pounds, she is insanely strong. Too much dog.

So after obedience classes and many visits to the vet, I decided to give her up. She needs an alpha owner who can spend more time with her.

Goodbye, Choo. I miss you already. I miss your soft head and your love of Mr. Bill and the way you'd fall asleep when I pet your belly.

But because you're young, adorable, and sweet, you will make somebody a great companion. A perfect companion. For somebody, that lucky one, you will be exactly the right amount of dog. 

Oh good, Chewy, finally a collar that works!

The vet gave Chewy a soft blue collar, which she had to wear for two weeks. 

It worked! I'd keep flipping it back, but still, it did the job.

Maybe the real news isn't that the collar worked, but that Choo's surgery did. No more licking or scooting or strange contorting.

Oh happy spay!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Tonight I met up with the Wednesday night tennis gang at J&B's Blue Ribbon. It was Party Rock Bingo night, and the suspense did not disappoint.

There was a little of everything, including some one-hit wonders and bands whose names I never knew. Plus there were some real throwback tunes; I can't ever hear "Pour Some Sugar on Me" without thinking of Katy, for reasons I can't quite remember. And "Runaround" takes me back to my days at the Keg in Evanston. Ah, 1994.

About five minutes after Carol left, I filled in a row on one of her cards. Bingo! By the time I called her, though, she was already leveraging her luck in bigger venues (up $31 at Potawatomi).

We'll go back some Wednesday to spend my gift certificate on more chicken fingers and cans of beer. See you there!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Oh no, Chewy, not the cervical collar!

I really thought this was it: The cervical collar allows Choo her peripheral vision, and she can move and eat normally while wearing it. It seems like the least disruptive of the protective collars.

The only downside? It doesn't work. She can still lick herself.

Maybe I need to buy a bigger size. But an inch taller still seems like no match for a persistent (and super-flexible) dog.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Oh no, Chewy, not bad manners at brunch!

Choo loves people and food, and nowhere is this more evident than at brunch. When Dana and Kelsey came over, Choo got on her hind legs and tried to sniff our plates. We weren't overly troubled by this (some of us may have even been charmed). Bacon in her mouth? No problem, we took it. But after a brief house tour, we came back down to find her eating the top of the quiche. Sigh.

Mary also met Chewy over brunch, and Choo thought fit to give kisses and try to get very close to the food. We foiled her. But bothering guests while they ate was starting to become a habit. And who wants to push plates around the table while wrestling a smallish yet muscular dog?

Recently Pat came over for brunch. After we'd cleared the dishes, he walked back into the dining room to find Choo on the table. On all fours, sniffing my coffee. For real, Chewy? (And yes, I know I need to be more alpha than responding with, "For real, Chewy?")

Choo is fearless, treading that fine line between confidence and dominance.

We're working on her boundaries.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Oh no, Chewy, not the cone!

Puppy vaginitis, it's no walk in the park.

The vet said Chewy would need to wear a cone for two weeks and take an antibiotic. Choo didn't seem to mind her inflatable Cloud Collar. She could still cuddle, play with toys, and use her peripheral vision.

So imagine my dismay when I found she had punctured the collar. Nice knowing you, soft and comfy neck pillow.

But I had a plastic cone, so I asked Choo if she'd mind wearing it. Sure, it amplifies her snoring and somehow collects bits of food and grass. And when she bangs into my legs, ouch. But it works.

So imagine my dismay — yes, again — when I saw she had detached it and was wearing it like a shield.

We're going to try one more option: a cervical collar I'm hoping will be the best solution. Work with me, Choo.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Chewy's milestone

On both of my walks with Chewy today, she peed on other people's lawns. This is real progress!

Since I adopted her, Chewy had only done her business off leash. So when she did a quick little squat on our morning walk, I praised her. And again tonight!

She didn't act like it was newsworthy, but I called my parents to share her accomplishment. Good girl, Choo!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Oh no, Chewy, not my only pair of black ankle boots!

Chewy pulled out a bit of zipper on one of my black boots. It was annoying but still wearable as long as I didn't try to zip it all the way up. But then I forgot to put the boots away, and she destroyed the heel.

Ah, Choo.

On the plus side, she's gotten really good at high fiving. We just need to find socially acceptable situations where she can do it.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Oh no, Chewy, don't cry!

During Yukie's visit last week, Chewy napped on the bed and couch and armchair. Now my little snoozer likes to curl up between the pillow and headboard.

Her love of furniture does not include her crate. When I put treats — even special ones like the peanut butter Kong — there, she creeps closer but whimpers. Sometimes she runs out of the room.

We'll be working on a few things together at our dog manners class, and the crate is on my wish list. I'll need lots of positive reinforcement to encourage this. Lo and behold, Dana, Kelsey, and Lora threw a celebration in Chewy's honor, filled with treats, toys, and an adorable jar. I cried, it was so thoughtful.

My Chewlio Iglesias cried for different reasons. She's finding her voice — perhaps she is part hound?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How Honey became Chewy

Honeybun is a cute name for my new friend: She gives slurpy (almost syrupy) kisses and is not picky about where. Ears, eyelids, thighs, she loves to smooch.

Yet "Honeybun" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, so we considered other names.

Brioche. Toffee. Challah (Holla!).

But none quite worked.

You know what else Bun loves? Chewing. Leashes, buttons, fingers, toes, the arm of the sofa. She is gentle but insistent, delighted to bring a running shoe or shower sandal onto the bed (that's my bed, by the way).

And so Chewy it is.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Adopting Honey

I've been wanting to adopt a dog, but the timing hasn't been right — my knee surgery, the weather (unusually cold!), and my parents' kitchen remodel felt like a perfect storm of obstacles. So I mostly looked online, for medium-sized mutts.

I received a listing for a border collie mix, a blonde girl named Mercy. She cocked her head just so; worth an application, I decided.

A day later, Anna from Chicago Canine Rescue asked about my approach to dog training and when I could visit the shelter. Wednesday, it turned out. Why wait until the weekend?

I drove to Chicago to meet Mercy, who was first on my introduction list. "You could name her Marcy," Kelsey had said. (Adorable!) But after a few awkward minutes it was clear Mercy wasn't comfortable around me.

Yet Anna and Hannah encouraged me to meet whoever I wanted. They were super knowledgeable and open to answering my many questions. So I met eight dogs.

Esperanza, a sato, was on the short list. (By the way, I learned a lot about satos from my many talks with Meryl from The Sato Project. She's their adoption and foster coordinator, and she not only knows a lot about the dogs, but she'll figure out your personality as well.) In Puerto Rico, Esperanza had stayed by the side of an injured dog, and I liked her loyalty.

But after almost three hours at the shelter, I also felt like I couldn't bear to leave Cinder, a gentle 40-pound black lab mix who rested her chin on my knee whenever I stopped petting her. She must have been practicing her soulful gazing.

It was hard to choose only one dog. But the first dog I'd had a connection with that day was Honey. In her profile, it said she "greets strangers with confidence." Indeed, she did: kissing, licking, waiting for belly rubs. "Pouring it on," as Hannah said. Honey seemed to love people, dogs, and toys, and I couldn't resist her playful spirit.

I never realized that adopting a dog comes down to not adopting other dogs. But Honey, who looks like a miniature German shepherd, was incredibly sweet. She was the one, my little Honeybun.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Filing away the past

My straightforward task — cleaning out a file cabinet — should have been routine. A non-event.

I've tried to pare things down before, but this was a walk through my academic life.

I found class notes and blue books. And old readers (remember those spiral-bound packets we had to buy?).

I found papers I don't remember writing about poems I don't remember reading for classes I don't remember taking. (And I was an English minor!) The dot-matrix printing may have faded, but the grades and comments still resonate like a Phil Collins tune.

Recycling everything felt like throwing away my thoughts and experiences, even my old feelings: Panic, anxiety, exhilaration, pride (and that only brings us to 1992).

I have to admit, I saved a few of those papers. Whoever says grades don't matter clearly does not have a file cabinet of old work.

The new and the familiar (on vacation)

Because Joel and I haven't met up too often in southern California, we're still looking for our favorite place. Every dinner is a new experience.

This year, it was Sonny's in San Clemente.

I branched out from chicken marsala — into chicken with mushrooms and spinach and marsala cream sauce, can you believe it? (Thanks for the restaurant recommendation, guy at the Phoenix airport.) Joel didn't love the lasagna, but we were both fans of the mud pie.

It's a wonderful thing, having a leisurely dinner outside in January.

I just got back into town, so vacation already seems like a distant memory. But being back home suits me. My postal carrier, per her habit, wrote a "welcome back" note on my mail, and I love these everyday gestures.

It's good to be home. Even in January.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Post-college catching up in Newport Beach

Theresa, Kara, and I — sorority sisters from Cal — got together for lunch. Kara chose Fig & Olive, and also explained her childhood fig allergy (which, at first, her parents did not believe was actually a thing).

Fortunately the menu was not heavy on figs. Rather, it offered many olive oils ("Spain, Spain, Greece," according to our server — this is what he said, I don't remember any pronouns or prepositions). The restaurant was gorgeous — and also in Hangover 3, we were told.

The three of us getting together for long lunches is turning into a tradition. We met up for lunch last year, which was great since we hadn't seen each other since the 90s!

We didn't spend much time talking about college or the house at either of our gatherings, though; we're all grounded in the present. But speaking of the 90's, I'd like to have talked about that new Hindsight show. The bad ideas, the do-overs, the babydoll dresses. Ah, nostalgia.

And cheers to things that are so 20 years ago!

Sunday with Julie

Despite Julie's hectic work and out-of-town visitor schedule, she came to Newport Beach so we could have our yearly catch up during my vacation.

We went to Bandera, one of my all-time favorite restaurants. But the pitch black, almost romantic lighting (especially at 4:30 in the afternoon) made me feel a little cranky. Good thing I got a fried chicken sandwich; that cheered me up a lot. Julie loved the butternut squash enchilada, and the coffee was ameezing (any Kroll Show fans out there?).

We both have big plans for 2015. Or shall we say, big plans to put into motion some big plans. Julie's may involve blogging. I hate to be a January joiner, but she inspired me to restart my blog. Once I'd gotten out of the habit, it seemed hard to put my thoughts together and hit publish. So I'm starting small!