Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Kona and I made a special trip to the VA Hospital today. Along with one of the other therapy teams we do our regular visits with, we were invited to go to a special ward, to see how our dogs reacted, and to see how we reacted. The ward is called the "Community Living Services" area, and was formerly called the "Hospice" ward. I thought I was prepared to visit with the patients there. I was wrong.

Nothing can prepare you to visit with people you know are dying. Unless you have a heart of stone, it is emotionally wrenching. We visited approximately 16 rooms, some with as many as 4 patients in them, some with only 1. The rooms with only 1 patient in them are the toughest. Those are the people who don't have much longer. We saw several very elderly gentlemen, some in wonderful spirits, and very happy for the company, and some with blank, staring eyes, that make you wonder if they are even aware of your presence. Kona was on his very best behavior, and I don't think I've ever been more proud of him. He truly was a Golden Angel today.

I got through most of the rooms without any problem. I chit-chatted my way along, smiling, saying hello, introducing Kona as I normally do, answering the questions I always get.

Until we got to one certain room....with only one gentleman in it. He was a young man, only in his early 50's or so, and it was my guess that he was suffering from cancer or something along those lines. He didn't have any of the visible injuries I am used to seeing at the VA, no lost limbs, no back or neck brace. He was just lying in bed, very pale, with tubes and wires coming out of him. His wife, a beautiful young woman of perhaps 45 or so, was sitting holding his hand. The room was full of other friends and relatives, about 5 or 6 total. Before we walked in the room was quiet. The administrator taking us around asked if it was OK for us to come in. There was a resounding "Yes!" so, in we went.

The wife let go of her husband's hand and said, "Oh, look Art, there are some beautiful dogs here to see you." She positioned his hand so he could stroke Kona's fur. He was unable to speak, but I could see his expression pert up the tiniest bit. It broke my heart. The wife leaned down and gave Kona a hug. He snuggled into her neck, and let her hold him. My dog is an angel.

Several of the others in the room got out of their chairs and came over to Kona, and Wilson, the other therapy dog making the visit with us today. They took their turns hugging, petting and relishing our dogs. The wife cried as she thanked me for bringing my dog in to visit. She told me that it was the only thing she had to smile about today. I was only barely able to hold back my own tears. We were there for only a few brief moments, but that experience will never leave me. I really, truly, and maybe even for the first time, understand what it means to be a therapy team. We brought a few minutes of joy to some real people in need.

We finished up our rounds on the ward, and as we did, I saw the wife saying goodbye to a couple of the others that had been in the room with her and her husband. One asked "how much longer does he have?" Her answer, "We think its getting close, maybe only a couple more hours or so."

The finality of those words stung me.

I haven't stopped thinking about that visit all afternoon. The administrator wants us to come back twice a month for more visits. I don't know if I can do it. My heart aches for the people I saw today. I don't think I'm that tough of a cookie. It certainly put my own worries and troubles in perspective, that's for sure.

The next time I dread making dinner, I will think of the woman who wishes she could have just one more dinner with her husband.

The next time Hubby and I have an argument, I will think of the woman who wishes she could hear her husband's voice just one more time.

The next time I yell at my kids, I will remind myself at how lucky I am to have beautiful, healthy children.

The next time I look around my house and think it's a disaster area, I will remind myself at how lucky I am to have a home, with a safe warm bed to fall into each night.

And the next time I get mad at Kona for chewing up a brand new toy that I just bought for him, I will remind myself that he is absolutely an Golden Angel.

My boy was exhausted when he got home. I can't blame him. It was emotionally draining for both of us. He had been snoozing when I took his picture...even angels need naps.

Wordless Wednesday - Nose to Butt

Monday, September 28, 2009

A-Z Mondays - "O" is for Overwhelmed, among other things!

I know, I'm a bit late today, but hey, it's still Monday, so I figured I'm good. Right? Yeah, thanks...

Okie dokie...."O" is for OVERWHELMED, and that's putting it mildly! It's been a heck of a couple of days. We worked non-stop on party stuff this weekend, and got a bunch of stuff accomplished. I'm beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, it will all come together in time. I have officially got 26 days to get it all together. Keep your fingers crossed!

"O" is also for OLD! That's how I felt this morning when Pickle, my youngest, took her driver's permit test and scored 100% - thank you very much! How can it be that she is already able to start driving? Wasn't it just a couple of months ago that I was bringing her home in her little Christmas stocking the nurses at the hospital make for all of the December babies? Wasn't it just last week when she was 3 years old and pole dancing in our old house, and I told myself, "Oh, this one's trouble!" Wasn't it just yesterday I was walking her into her kindergarten room for the first time? I swear, I don't know where the time goes, and it is seriously scary!

"O" is also for ORGANIZATION - of which I have none lately. My house is a disaster area, and I can probably count on it staying that way for about 4 more weeks! It always crazy this time of year, but seems even a little more so this year. My usually decent house has been turn upside down with sewing projects, shipments of Halloween stuff, painting supplies, and pretty much every thing else you can think of. Don't believe me? Here's the proof!

Somewhere underneath all of that stuff is my dining room table! (Yes, that's a plastic butt - don't ask!)
Boxes and bags of "stuff" in pre-party mode!
The side of my house....
Paint central!
What's left of my garage.

If you'd like to see what other bloggers are doing for A-Z Mondays, be sure to swing by Jen's blog here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I'd Like to Apologize... advance for neglecting my blog, and yours over the coming 4 weeks. This is the craziest time of year for me, as we are in the semi-final stages of getting ready for our annual Halloween bash. I'm expecting over 100 people this year, and I've got a LOT of stuff we need to finish by the 24th. We are still building, painting, and dreaming up new ideas each day. More ideas = more work!

I promise I will try to keep up with your blogs, but I'm not guaranteeing anything. I will also do my best to update here as regularly as I can, but I won't be posting many more of the "pre-production" pictures here. Many of my readers are also my Halloween guests, and I always feel like the best part about the party is when folks walk in and are knocked off their socks by what they see. more previews. You know me though, I'll have TONS of pictures to show afterwards.

Please hang in there with me, don't forget about my humble little bloggie just because I'm not able to visit yours. You know I want to...but there are only so many hours in the day! And please keep the comments coming - you know I LOVE getting comments!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Something You Can Help With

The next time you think you've had a rough day, give this a little thought.

Patrick is a 15 year old boy with a spinal cord injury. In September 1995, when Patrick was fourteen months old, he and his mom were walking behind a parked car when the driver, who was arguing with his girlfriend, backed up suddenly, and ran over Patrick, pinning him under the car. The driver was un-insured. Patrick suffered a C4-5 incomplete spinal cord injury, and was diagnosed as a quadriplegic.

Patrick has been in a wheelchair ever since. Patrick is learning how to walk again.

With the help of "Rip Curl Ricki" the pup of one of my Assistant Organizers from the SD Golden Retriever Meetup Group, Patrick is also making a name for himself in the surfing world!

For more information on this incredible duo and to donate to the "Help Patrick Iverson Walk Fund," please click

Thursday, September 24, 2009

If there was ever a question....

...that Kona is a complete goof ball, this should answer it for you.
This is how he greeted me after I got home from (another) long day of errands. He followed me around the house, holding his favorite pool toy of the moment, and his Hedgie. He is such a little clown!

All the Single Babies

Just something cute...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Wondering about the title of today's post? Ok, so I probably spelled it wrong, but you'll get where I'm going with it...
Today I've been incredibly busy. So many things to do, so little time. I've been home all day, but just busy, busy, busy.

The dogs, on the other hand have been bored. Seriously bored. Poor Kona was so bored and lazy he couldn't even manage go to his butt out the doggie door. Instead, he just layed there, aimlessly...head just peeking out, making sure he wasn't missing anything...
Earlier today I gave them a big bone that Harley's Dad had sent over. It was one of those jumbo rawhide bones with a knot on each end, and a "roasted" look to it. I gave Jack, Jill and Harley each a bully stick, and gave the rawhide to Kona. (Actually, they each kind of picked what they wanted....) He gnawed on it for a couple of minutes and then traded with Harley.

And then I noticed the schmootz. The dye or whatever they used on the rawhide was coming off as it got moist. It wasn't too bad on Harley, but once she'd had enough of it, Kona decided to finish it off.
Covered in schmootz...that's my boy. (Did I mention he had a bath yesterday?) What was I thinking?

Monday, September 21, 2009

A-Z Mondays - "P" is for Party Planning!

Over the course of the last few years, I've had a lot of my friends tell me I should be a professional party planner. I've gotten the reputation of throwing a heck of a party, thank you very much, especially Halloween parties. There are few things in life I enjoy more than throwing a huge party, and seeing everyone walk around in amazement at the decorations and detail that go into the transformation of my house. I like the idea of becoming a party planner, but I just don't think it'd be nearly as much fun to do for other people. That, along with the stress of everything coming together, would make it way too much work and not enough fun.

I am in total party planning mode right now, and have been for several months. In the past my house has been transformed into a Jungle of Death, a Vampire Lair, a Pirate Village, and Hollywood Theater, to name a few. This year for Halloween it will be an Old West Ghost Town.

We are well underway with the decorating, and every weekend between now and the end of October will be spent building, painting, and decorating nearly every square foot of the house, and back yard. It is a huge job to do, and I wouldn't be able to pull it off without the help of my dedicated "production crew" - my dear friends and neighbors, along with Hubby and the kids of course, that help with everything from early planning and ideas, to last minute details, setup, and eventually cleanup. I have some awesome friends, that's for sure!

A few pictures from past parties include:

part of the Vampire Lair...
The Pirate Ship over our pool....
The front yard for the Pirate party - our "Deadman's Wharf"
The stage for our "A-ca-DEAD-a-mee Awards" party.
Walking up the red carpet for the Hollywood party.
The beginning of our Ghost Town...
If you'd like to see what other bloggers are doing for A-Z Mondays, please be sure to stop by Jen's blog!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kelley's Biggest Advetenure

My friend Andy, our white water rafting guide shared this with me recently and I wanted to share it with you. This is about a friend of his...Kelley Kalafatich is a world class white water rafter who doubled for Meryl Streep on class 5 rapids in "The River Wild". Two years ago she developed transverse myelitis, a debilitating condition that paralyzed her from the waist down. Nonetheless, her desire to walk again is indefatigable and her spirit inspiring. This woman is amazing.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dog and Pony Show

First of all, before I start with today's post, let me thank you all for your heartfelt comments on yesterday's post. I really do appreciate each and every one of them, and it means so much knowing that people understand and can sympathize with those of us who knew and loved Mark. Thank you very, very much.

On to the Dog and Pony Show....seriously! Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting a nearby retirement home, called Gateway Gardens. It was the first visit Kona and I had made to this facility, and it was so much fun! We visited with other members from a Pet Therapy group we recently joined. In addition to Kona and I, there were 3 other Goldens and their owners, a Labradoodle, and "Little Bit" - a mixed breed dog that was "a little bit of this and a little bit of that." In addition to the dogs, there was a miniature horse! WOW! I'd never heard of a miniature horse doing therapy work before, but low and behold, there he was! His name is "Spark Plug" and he was a real sweet heart! Here is a group picture, Kona is in the middle, being held by our friend Donna.

We had an absolutely delightful time visiting with the residents of the Gateway Gardens. We met everyone in a large room, introduced ourselves and our animals, and then walked around visiting with each person.

I must say, it really brought joy to my heart to spend that hour with those people. People who, unlike Mark, who's life was cut way too short, have lived very long, full lives. People who, in some cases, have outlived their spouses, their friends and neighbors...and who now depend on others for their care, their meals, and even entertainment.

Let me tell you, we did a lot of entertaining yesterday! It was so much fun taking Kona from person to person, watching their faces light up when he rested his chin on their knee, or shook their hand, or just sat with a big goofy grin on his face while they stroked his fur.

It really did me good to go for that visit. It warmed my heart, and filled it with joy. I know that all may sound mushy, but there just isn't a better way to describe it. After the sadness I've been feeling over the last couple of days, it really helped to brighten my spirits. I think I needed that visit as much as the residents of the Gateway Gardens did, if not more.

Yes, it was the first of my visits there, but certainly not the last!

Here is "Spark Plug" working the crowd...several people told me that he smelled like a stable. I suppose that's what miniature horses smell like!
Kona was soaking up the attention. Spending a quiet moment with a new friend. This sweet woman told me that Kona is under fed and that I should leave him with her so she can fatten him up a bit! Oh, I don't think so! Kona was made for this!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Life is Fragile

Every once in a while something will happen in our lives that slaps us in the face with a harsh dose of reality.

I got such a slap on Tuesday evening, in the form of a phone call telling me of the death of my friend, Mark. I was stunned. I didn't know what to say - utterly speechless. No tears, just shock.

I've known Mark for about 30 years. He graduated in 1981, I was the class of '82. We lived close to each other during high school, and often rode our mopeds to school together. We hung out in the evening, and even worked together briefly at Pioneer Chicken. I'd recently reconnected with him through Face Book, and had chatted with him in the last couple of months about our lives, spouses, children, etc. He was still the kind, warm, easy going boy I'd remembered. And now he is gone.

Over the last couple of nights I've laid in bed and shed my tears, when no one else was awake to see. I've been thinking of him nonstop, and reminiscing about our friendship. I remember silly little things about him - his thick glasses, his tall wiry body, how proud he was when he got his Nova, his thick mop-top of hair that always smelled like Flex shampoo, and his always kind soul. Mark was one of the good guys.

Mark didn't have time to say goodbye. He didn't suffer from a long illness, there was no warning. He lost his life Tuesday night while riding his motorcycle home from work. A 28 year old unlicensed driver, driving a rental car, made an illegal U-turn directly in front of Mark. He had no time to react and plowed directly into the car. He was pronounced dead at the scene. He was only 46 years old. I've watched the news clip over and over. I still can't believe it. Things like this are not supposed to happen. Not to people I know, not to my friends, not to anyone.

This Saturday there will be a viewing and a reception. Formal services will be held at a later date. I dread the thought of going, but I can't miss it. Not for anything.
It will be a hard, hard day.

Rest in Peace my friend.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Surf's Up!

This past Sunday we spent the day at the Del Mar Dog Beach to participate in the Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon with other members of our "Golden SurFUR" team, and hundreds of other participants. Several of our team members placed in the competition, and Jill, having had very little practice since the last competition placed 4th in her heat. More importantly we had great time, and Jill had a blast.

*These first 3 photos are courtesy of Michael Schrager

There was a costume contest too, and this little pup was a real ham!
Soaking up the sun and having a great day.

There were quite a few people out there!
Just hanging out.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Spectacular Pallet!

This past Friday, as I was out with my friends at an alumni get together, there was an absolutely spectacular sunset here in lovely San Diego. I called home, and told Pickle to grab my good camera and snap a couple of shots.

Here are her results -

A-Z Mondays - "Q" is for Quiet Relection

In my hustle-bustle life, it seems I rarely have time for a little "quiet reflection." I am always on the move, with the kids, with the dogs, with one event or another...for example, this weekend started off Friday afternoon with a therapy visit to the VA Hospital, and a gathering with friends for a high school reunion "icebreaker" at a nearby pub. Saturday was filled with Halloween party preparation - set building and painting. Saturday night I attended a class of '79 - 30 year - multi class reunion. While I didn't graduate in '79, my brother did and decided not to attend. I went in his place, dragging a dear friend from the class of '80 along with me, and we had a great time. Sunday was spent at an all day Surf Dog Surf-a-thon competition with my Golden SurFUR team from my meetup group.

While all of this made for a fun filled weekend, there was little if any time to relax and have quiet time.

With that thought in mind, I present my "quiet reflection" photos...from our recent rafting trip on the American River...

Kona enjoying a little quiet time of his own.
If you'd like to see what other bloggers are doing for A-Z Mondays, please stop by Jen's blog here.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

On a Lighter Note

Now, you all know how I LOVE a good "flash mob", right?

Well, here is one of the best I've seen. 20,000 people! Leave it to the Oprah show to have to out do everyone!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sept. 11, 2001

We should never, ever allow ourselves or those around us to forget.