And so

by Lorin Michel Sunday, July 31, 2016 10:06 PM

I am struck by how many posts I pen while sitting on the deck in the early morning hours, absorbing the quiet, delighting in the gentle breeze that tests the resolve of the  temperature. Not will it rise, but when and how high. In the early morning on the deck, I can pretend that the hot summer is coming to an end and that I'll be able to soon wear long pants again.

Sunday is especially quiet out here away from town, away from people. Up on the hill, we survey our kingdom and think of The Lion King, a film that remain a favorite, perhaps because it reminds us so of Justin. When he was little, just three, Disney released the animated tale of a cub named Simba who grew to be a lion, and ruler of the land. Justin never went anywhere without his stuffed Simba. I think he was the young cub, come alive in the guise of a little boy with red hair and big glasses. Now he is the roaring lion, ruling his own kingdom with kindness and generosity. Perhaps that's why I hear Mufasa's words on these mornings on the deck. All the light touches.

As 7 o'clock becomes 8, I hear the horses down below, I hear the buzz of the desert, a sound that becomes as natural as the silence. It is the life of the Sonoran, with all of its prickly nature and prehistoric creatures. The cacti are all in full view but what lurks beneath, those making the music, remain mostly hidden. There but not.

Birds flit and chirp, not many, not nearly as many as the mid-day will bring. No one else appears to be up and about. There are no cars; no dogs let out after a night in the house to roar and bark. The houses remain in slumber even if its occupants aren't.

Lazy. That's the feel of the morning. A justified and accepted lazy. It's Sunday, the day of rest and relaxation, the day acting as precursor to a busy week. It’s soft and easy. The morning feels exactly that.

I am struck by my life. My good and plentiful life. On Sunday mornings when it's early and cool, I feel it most. Perhaps it's because I'm not consumed so much with what I have to do but rather can relish in what I have.

It will change when I go back inside, into my big beautiful home, with its artificial coolness and the world waiting inside my laptop. But I have these moments and I have this moment, on the deck, thinking about Justin, watching my dog survey his kingdom too, with my husband next to me. A cup of coffee. The desert.

And so I am blessed. And so I am.

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live out loud

An advocate for torture

by Lorin Michel Sunday, July 17, 2016 9:07 PM

We are pacifists. We're not big on war though we do understand the need for it in certain circumstances. We supported going into Afghanistan after 9/11. I did not support going into Iraq. Kevin was less reticent largely because he likes the war toys. Fighter jets, cargo planes, explosions. He quickly soured on it all when it became a deadly folly.

We don't own guns and don't particularly want to even though we live in the wild, Wild West. I have shot guns and enjoyed it, much more than I thought I would. It's exhilarating. I felt powerful. Perhaps that's the lure and the danger.

When Justin was little, he was told that the only way he would go to college was if he joined the military. We quickly put the kabosh on that. We had a college fund, we assured him. He went to college without going to Iraq and for that we were profoundly grateful.

I – we – are not anti-military; we are anti-needless war. We are anti-torture and as much as we enjoyed the show 24, understand that it's not effective in the real world. I also choose to believe that we're better than that. If we're going to be an example to others, be something to look up to, representing people with integrity, we have to be better.

Which is what makes it so surprising that I am an advocate of waterboarding when it comes to my dog. Allow me to explain my seeming change of heart and mind.

It all started this morning when I was stupid. We had people over for dinner last night and we doing some final cleanup, putting away placemats, and trays, washing wine glasses and other delicates. Kevin was wiping off the counter. I had made coffee and decided to go out to get the paper. I also decided to take Riley with me.

It rained last night. The ground had dried and the humidity was high. I thought we'd be ok. I checked for lizards and saw none. I figured if the dog saw one and gave chase, the lizard would win easily no matter how fast Riley is. I looked in the portico. Clear. I glanced in the corners up the steps and didn't see anything but a small rock. I motioned to the dog that it was OK and he bounded out with that unique dog enthusiasm, the kind of wonderful joy that is completely pure. I'm going outside and it's the greatest thing. In. The. World. Paws down!

We had been outside for perhaps three seconds. He squared off against the small rock. Which turned out to be a toad. Toads are not that fast and definitely not as fast as my boy, who pounced, cat-like, and grabbed the toad. I yelled. He dropped it. I cursed. He looked at me like "well, what did you expect me to do. It. Was. A. Toad."

I grabbed his collar and yelled to Kevin. "Toad!" He knew exactly what to do. I took the dog toward the garage, Kevin met me there with the hose. And for the next 10 minutes we proceeded to push water through the dog's mouth. Rubbing our fingers across his gums. Again and again and again.

Flushing the dog's mouth for 5-10 minutes after a toad encounter of the poisonous kind is standard procedure. It's meant to remove any possible toxins before they can work into the dog's system, causing severe illness, seizures and even, in the most extreme cases, death.

In order to avoid death, I waterboard. I can't say I enjoy it; that would make me a monster. But I am advocate now.

I am also an advocate of waging war, a continuous assault on toads, in order to rid the world of their terror. They are a scourge, a blight. Dangerous. To dogs everywhere.

I never thought I'd be ok with torture. Technically, I'm still not. But if it saves lives, like that of Mr. Riley Boo, who am I to judge?

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Big wet nose

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, July 5, 2016 8:35 PM

Several days ago, Kevin took a selfie with Riley. Riley is very photogenic but hates getting his picture taken. The minute you get close to him with a camera or the iPhone, when he’s doing one of his best cutes, he drops his ears and turns away. Sometimes he peers back like he’s making sure that the evil evil camera is gone. Just as often, he gets up and walks away to ensure that there will be no photos. It’s like he’s in witness protection or something, which he could be since he’s a rescue. It’s amazing that I get as many photos as I do, and that’s largely because I manage to take them before he even knows what’s happening. The exception is when he doesn’t recognize a device. 

He’s onto my iPhone. He’s not onto the iPad, so I managed to get a good one the other day because I was holding the device and he was curious as to what it was. Before he knew what was going on, I’d captured his cute little face peering up at me. Mom?

He was also not onto Kevin’s iPhone so when Kevin sat down behind him and held out the phone to snap a selfie, Riley was curious. Hmmm. What does this smell like, dad? Can I eat it? Does it taste like chicken? 

Whenever I need a smile, I now just look at Kevin’s phone. He has it as his wallpaper for his home screen. That big wet nose, pushed up nearly onto the screen of the phone, and the curious eyes, questioning what he was looking at, are just precious, innocent. Cute.

It’s the nose. There’s nothing like the feel of a wet nose on your arm in the morning, nosing you awake. Mom? Or pressed up against the glass, creating nose art. Or shining brightly during the day. 

Evidently there’s a legend that says a dog’s cold, wet nose is a gift from the heavens. When the world was flooded, the legend goes, all life on the planet was inside of Noah’s ark. The two dogs Noah had chosen constantly patrolled the boat, checking on the other animals, and generally just poking around as dogs do. One day, the dogs were taking their daily stroll when they noticed a coin-sized leak and water was rushing in. One dog quickly ran for help, while the other dog gallantly stuck his nose in the hole to plug it. By the time Noah and his sons arrived to repair the hole, the poor dog was in great pain and gasping for breath, but a major disaster had been averted. So a dog’s cold, wet noses is simply a badge of honor, conferred upon him in memory of that heroic act. 


According to those in the know, like veterinarians, the real reason a dog’s nose is wet is because dogs lick their noses a lot, sometimes to help keep them cool. It can also make them pick up scents better. It’s perfectly natural for their noses to pick up moisture from the ground, grasses, plants and other areas. Making a cold, wet nose.

The bigger the dog, the bigger the nose. The cuter the nose. Our dogs have all been fairly big with equally big noses. Wet noses that nudge and nudged, that sniffed and smelled, that created nose art, and brought unlimited joy into our lives. Joy that we were able to capture easily because Maguire and Cooper loved to get their pictures taken. Maguire was a total ham, looking directly into the camera, ears forward, nose glistening. Take my picture because I am gooooooodddd lookin’. Cooper was more shy, but he at least looked at the camera, albeit with a little bit of what we called the side-eye, nose wet. I am a good boy, I am a good boy and the picture will prove it. 

Riley and his big nose are sporadically captured digitally but they’re forever captured in my memory, my imagination. Cold, wet, beautiful. Proud. Nosing it out loud.

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Becoming one with the wall

by Lorin Michel Friday, June 24, 2016 10:20 PM

I’m in a bit of a funk today. It borders on being depressed though I try not to use the “depressed” word because it’s a clinical diagnosis. It’s more appropriate to say that I’m down, and frustrated, and saddened by the world around me. Yesterday, Great Britain voted to leave the European Union. It was not necessarily unexpected any more than it was expected. I had hoped that the fear and loathing of the “other” wouldn’t win because it sets a bad precedent, but it is what it is. I think what got to me this morning was the amount of Brits who woke up to their new reality and said things like this:

With leave voters in Manchester for BBCNews -most told us they woke up thinking "what have I done?" & didn't actually expect the uk to leave.

"Even though I voted to leave, this morning I woke up and I just — the reality did actually hit me." 

"If I'd had the opportunity to vote again, it would be to stay."

"I'm shocked & worried. I voted Leave but didn't think my vote would count - I never thought it would actually happen." 

I voted leave to help our economy. However the £ has plummeted and I immediately regret my decision. Plus Farage is a lying tosser! 

"This morning the reality is actually hitting in." 

"What is the EU?" is the second top UK question on the EU since the #EURefResults were officially announced 

It puts me into a funk.

And then I look at the state of our country in general and our politics in specific, and I get into a deeper funk. People are actively cheering xenophobia and racism and bigotry. People think it would be good for the US to do something like Britain just did, and I worry because just like many of the people who voted for this didn’t completely realize what they were voting for until it was too late, neither would some in this country.

And I look at the stock market – which I know everyone hates but where my retirement fund and my financial investments live – and it’s tanking. I don’t like that Wall Street gets away with what it does; I don’t like that the big banks get away with what they do. But I also realize that they are instrumental in our economy being strong, in the unemployment rate being down. It’s part of being a capitalistic society. There’s a lot of bad; but there’s a lot of good. When it’s good, we’re all working and while we may not be making all the money we wish we were making, or our incomes may not be going up like we want them to, we’re still able to pay our bills. 


And then I look at my dog, and I realize that he has the right idea. He becomes very still, he absorbs the world around him even while actively shutting it out. He exists in it but doesn’t let it define him. He focuses on what’s most important at the time. In his case, it is a nap. Pressed up against it, he finds stability. He finds peace.

He becomes one with the wall. And the world is Ok at least for a little while. That’s worth celebrating.

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The fine art of nose art

by Lorin Michel Sunday, June 5, 2016 8:13 PM

Kevin cleaned the windows yesterday. In any house, this is considered a big job. A time consuming endeavor. In this house, it’s herculean. We have huge windows in virtual every room save the guest bath and the ¾ bath on the west side of the house. Even the laundry room has nice windows. The garage has three smallish windows at the back of the extended middle stall where Kevin’s shop is located. 

When it rains, a phenomenon that is rarely polite, we get sheets of water that blast against the windows. Because of the dust, the rain makes for nice streaks and spots on the glass. We’re heading into monsoon season. The official start of the season is June 15 and it goes through September 30. The skies can swirl to life at any time, moisture collecting in dark green clouds that begin to rumble and spark, and then the deluge comes. Temperatures drop 30º in 20 minutes. The glass drips.

And the windows get dirty. 

Several weeks ago, I bought some supposedly amazing window washing stuff. But in order to use it, Kevin needed to have some special bucket type thing that we couldn’t find anywhere. He finally ordered one online. It came last week. So yesterday, since it was so blisteringly hot, and since Saturday’s tend to be do-stuff-around-the-house-day, he decided it was time to wash the windows. 

While he did that, I put the new bed together. I changed the sheets on Justin’s bed. I did laundry. I cleaned our bathroom, which normally would be considered just a regular job but with our shower it, too, is herculean. It takes me an hour to clean that monstrosity. Justin cleaned his bathroom, and then spent the afternoon researching Phoenix resorts for him and Kelsey to stay in for part of her visit. Riley napped. 

For hours, Kevin squeegeed the outside windows, all around the house, with the exception of the windows in the garage. They’re nearly impossible to reach. And, garage. Then he moved to the inside. 

Because there isn’t rain inside, and because we live fairly cleanly, you wouldn’t think there would be much on the interior windows. You would think that. You would also be wrong. Because Riley. 

We purposely didn’t put floor to ceiling windows in because they’re expensive and because when you have floor to ceiling windows and the storms happen there is more danger of water somehow leaking in. So our windows stop about two and half feet above the floor, and we have window sills. This is everywhere in the house, save for the guest bath, the ¾ bath, the laundry room, the kitchen, and the garage. But across the back of the house, in the dining room, in all four of the bedrooms and in the master bath, the windows stop and the sills take over. The sills make a great place for Riley to rest his head while he watches out the window. It’s the perfect height, he doesn’t have to stretch or lean. He simply rests his weary head so that he can watch the birds or the lizards or the toads or whatever else happens to come his way. And he makes nose art.

Riley, today, nosing.

Nose art is the fine art of a dog applying his wet nose to glass. It can take on various abstract shapes and when it dries, there are lovely reminders that Riley was once here. Or there. All of our windows with sills and the front door with glass to the floor all display nose art. The house is like a gallery devoted to Riley. This nose art appears from about six inches above the sill down to the sill and decorates the glass for all to see. When it’s just Kevin and I, we don’t clean it every day, but occasionally, we need to do something. 

The problem is, nose art, much like graffiti, doesn’t remove easily. Simple Windex won’t do it. So yesterday, with his super-duper window washing fluid, his new bucket, his squeegee and a little old-fashioned elbow grease, Kevin managed to dislodge the nose art and for a brief time, the windows were so clear it was as if they weren’t there at all.

Unfortunately, like graffiti, the tagger returned. And the fine art of nose art has once again begun to appear. We had less than 24 hours of clarity. But who are we to question the talent and perseverance and beauty shared by our illustrious puppy? You know. The one nosing it out loud all over the house.

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In pizza, we must

by Lorin Michel Friday, May 27, 2016 10:39 PM

By the time Friday arrives, the amount of food in the house has dwindled. This is because I usually go shopping on Saturday and I stock up for the week. By the time Friday arrives, there is usually a blackening banana in the fruit bowl and one mushroom left in the vegetable drawer. There’s a swish of half and half left in the carton, a couple of sheets of paper towel on the roll. We’re usually down a jar of Raos pasta sauce and a box of pasta, the bags of cheese are nearly empty, as is the carton of eggs. Dwindled. This Friday is no exception. 

This is the situation I find myself in today. With nothing to eat and of what I do have, nothing I want to cook. 

I entertained going to the grocery store today instead of my usual Saturday morning but opted against it for no reason other than I simply wasn’t in the mood. I’m tired. And I’ve been working all day, and it’s the start of a long holiday weekend, the first of the summer, and like I said, I just wasn’t in the mood. It would be very busy out there, traffic wise, and the grocery store would be overflowing with people stocking up for the weekend, for camping trips and barbecues, parties and whatever else people do on three-day weekends. 

So I’ll go tomorrow. And I’ll stock up on mushrooms and bananas and eggs and orange juice and toilet paper and whatever else I need to keep the house running for the next week. With Justin here, I have to get more than usual and I have to remember to do that. I’ve been so used to shopping for just two; it’s been a long time since I shopped for three.

I’ll go to Petco, too, to stock up on Riley’s food. I buy a 30-pound bag of dog food, Natural Balance, each month. Our boy eats a lot. Three and a half cups a day. 

He’ll also get a bath tomorrow, our boy. I gave him a bath last week, but I think he might be allergic to the shampoo I used. He’s been itchy and he has a bit of a rash under his fur, near his tail. He keeps trying to bite it, to make the itch stop. It’ll be warm tomorrow, too, so he’ll be dry in no time, fur flying, shedding like a big dog, happy as he can be, clean and sparkly. With fresh dog food.

It’s Friday. No one has any food. And that means pizza for dinner. 

We have a great place not too far from here. I’ll order it and then drive in to pick it up. I haven’t been out of the house all week. I’ll climb into the Range Rover and drive down Catalina Highway. I’ll open the sunroof and crank the music. I love to drive at night when the air is cool and there’s little traffic. I’ll pull up to Rosati’s and get our pizza, or maybe our two pizzas, perhaps a Caesar salad. I’ll get back into the car, fire up the lights and take off, flying toward home. The smell of pizza will flood the car. And I will be free … 

… of groceries, of dog food, of chores at least until tomorrow. As an added bonus, I’ll be able to feed my family. Or, in the immortal words of George W. Bush, I’ll be able to “put food on my family.” 

Because I don’t have any food in the house, or at least no food I want to make, and I’m tired, and wasn’t in the mood for the grocery store. And so, in pizza, I must trust.

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The still

by Lorin Michel Saturday, May 14, 2016 7:50 PM

I was struck this morning by how still it was. Living in the desert, especially as spring transitions to summer, the winds can be insistent. Gust at 25 miles per hour aren’t uncommon here on the hill. Even down on the road below, the winds blow fiercely, daring you to ignore them. I don’t like wind. I like a breeze. This morning there was nothing.

Riley and I walked west along Mira Vista Canyon, toward the gate. It was just after 7 and already 75º. Nothing was moving, there were no sounds anywhere. Often times in the morning we hear the horses that live just to the south. Occasionally there is a rooster; a dog bark. The birds are usually flitting between trees and cactus, woodpeckers try their luck on the metal fireplace chimneys that top all of the houses here. But there was nothing. 

The sun turned the mountains red, the tips of the cactus lit up like fire. 

I could hear my sneakered footsteps hitting the pavement. Riley was trotting along, panting. He is normally anxious in the morning because he has anxiety issues. But not this morning. This morning he was mellow, at least mellow by a 2-year old Golden Retriever’s standards. 

When it’s still like it was, I am both amazed and even a bit frightened. It seems unnatural, the world has stopped and it’s if something bad is about to happen. In California, a still like that sometimes precipitated an earthquake though not always. I haven’t figured out what it means here and probably nothing at all other than it was early Saturday morning.

When it’s still like it was I want to savor it, enjoy the quiet, let it wrap around me and hold me tight. It’s comforting, the stillness. It invites introspection which can be both good and bad. I’ve always tried to be introspective, to question even myself. Did I handle something right? Could I have handled it better? What could I have done differently? What will I do differently in the future? 

What am I going to be when I grow up? 

When it’s still like that I embrace the early hour, I enjoy each step, each slap of the rubber of my shoe on the warming asphalt, the gentle panting of my dog, enjoying his walk, closely eyeing every rock on the road, every twig. When it’s still, I think.

I think about the week past and the day ahead. 

I think about my life thus far and where it’s going. 

I think about what I’ve done and what’s still to do.

I think about what I’m going to make for dinner. I think about nothing and everything and then some more. 

I think about the stillness of the morning – the still – and I celebrate that I am alive.  

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Daisies before tulips

by Lorin Michel Sunday, May 8, 2016 8:15 PM

Years ago, we would often turn on the television on a Sunday morning and surf a bit until we found something mindless we wanted to watch. Often times it involved a Law & Order episode. It’s also the way we discovered Longmire. Every once in a while it was a movie. 

This morning, I was feeling lazy. Kevin had gone to take Riley out and to make coffee. There were clouds outside, so a cool breeze was drifting through the open windows. It won’t be long before those windows will be closed for months as the air conditioning goes on full-time, so we’re taking advantage while we can. The remote, which is usually tucked under the TV that is tucked into the tile above the fireplace, was on the night stand. I had done some surfing last night before going to sleep. I reached for it and turned the TV on. As I was running through the usual channels, Kevin came back with coffee, Riley following. The dog immediately curly up on his bed. Kevin climbed back in next to me. 

I stopped on Turner Classic Movies. I often watch TCM because I’m a big fan of old movies. Sometimes they’re playing something I have no interest in; other times they’re playing something I’ve seen too many times. But they never fail to play history. Today, they were running several station promos and they were really good. We found ourselves intrigued. We had never seen TCM do such elaborate promotions for themselves. Then Ben Mankiewicz came on, and was talking about their Mother’s Day lineup featuring some good mothers, some bad, some crazy busy. First up: Doris Day. 

Now I don’t like Doris Day. Not personally; I don’t know the woman, who is still alive and kicking at 92. I just never particularly cared for her brand of film and definitely not her singing. I remember seeing films with Doris Day and Rock Hudson, stupid comedies, when I was a kid. I remember seeing one with Doris Day and James Garner. I didn’t like that either. 

Doris Day was always too sugary for me. The one thing I remember sort of liking her in was the Hitchcock film, The Man Who Knew Too Much, where she played James Stewart’s wife. It was a supporting role. In many of her films, she sang. I’m not big of musicals in general, as I’ve mentioned before. She’s also too vanilla; too saccharine. I know that she’s a big animal-rights advocate so I appreciate that. I know, too, that the home her son lived in became the site of the infamous Manson murders in 1969. 

The film this morning was Please Don’t Eat The Daisies. We left it on; I have no idea why. Within minutes we were sort of enjoying it. The dialogue was surprisingly snappy and sophisticated. It wasn’t sappy and slapstick. It was more real life, for the time. It also stars David Niven and I’ve always loved David Niven. He brought gravitas to any role he played, certainly more so than Rock Hudson who was overrated in my opinion, and James Garner, who I actually liked as he got older. 

The film was released in 1960, before I was even born, and takes place predominantly in New York with a brief sojourn to a place called Hooton. Day and Niven play Kate and Larry MacKay. They have four boys, three of whom seem to be the same age. They’re a handful and horribly misbehaved. They also have a younger boy that they keep in a kennel type contraption that is never fully explained. Obviously this was before child services would investigate such things. They also have a dog named Hobo – cue the politically correct police – who is afraid of everything and has a habit of needing to be carried. He’s a sheep dog though, not a purse dog. The vet puts him on tranquilizers. So many things that are considered so wrong today. 

The cast is smart and while it’s predictable, the story is also mostly fun. The ending was a bit of a disappointment. It seemed to end too easily and even too quickly. We watched the whole thing and couldn’t believe we stayed in bed on a Sunday morning to watch a Doris Day movie. 

The title is never fully explained save for one of the horrible boys, who is old enough to know better, eating an entire bouquet of daisies, for no reason whatsoever. I guess a certain suspension of belief was required when it was made, and to watch it now. We happily suspended, for the 112 minutes that was needed. 

When I finally got up and made my way to the kitchen, I found a beautiful vase of double hybrid tulips, a gift from my husband on this mother’s day. Riley gave me a card; I got a sweet text from Justin who was working several shows today before loading out to move to the next city. It was a day for daisies and then tulips and, evidently, Doris Day. It was a day worth celebrating.

The fliage of time

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, April 27, 2016 10:47 PM

Time flies. Sometimes it’s when you’re having fun, but it flies, too, even when you’re not. Time flying is not a new concept. No matter what we do, we can’t stop time from continuing. Each day passes, each week, month, year, decade. It flies by. One minute we’re in kindergarten, the next we’re graduating from college. We make friends, we get married, we get divorced, friendships drift away. We lose people, we lose pets. And still time flies. 

We’ve had Riley for a year today. We’re amazed that it’s been that long, that over a year ago we lost Cooper. Over a year ago we moved in. Over a year ago was Roy’s gallery show and the party. Over a year ago when our lives changed again. I look back at the past year that has positively flown, and I can see moments hanging in the air, memory clouds. The day we moved in when I blew out my knee. That same night, Roy and Bobbi arriving. Cooper being so sick and there was nothing anyone could do for him. Taking him to the hospital on Friday in the middle of the night, having a party  – to celebrate Roy – here Saturday night after hastily arranging furniture to make it look like we sort of lived here after three days. Getting the call on Sunday morning that Cooper was gone. 

And then it was April and we were lonely. Going to the Adopt Love Adopt Local event and meeting Jackson, a beautiful Border Collie mix but he was over 10 and we didn’t think it was right to bring him up here on the hill at his age. In hind sight, he probably would have been fine. He seemed so easy going. 

We looked into adopting a special needs dog, a deaf Lethal White Australian Shepherd named Finn. But we didn’t pass the home inspection. They didn’t like that we didn’t have a fenced in yard and were concerned that he might jump over the railing on the deck and into the desert below. 

But if we’d taken Jackson or been approved for Finn, we wouldn’t have gotten our Riley.

Southern Arizona Golden Retriever Rescue came to do a home visit and we passed, even though we didn’t have a yard. We didn’t even have the dog area fenced in yet, but they seemed to trust us, and they liked the fact that we kept our toilet seats down. Several weeks later, “Bernie” arrived. He quickly became Riley. 

A year later, the three of us are living happily up here on the hill. 

Time flies. 

I wonder if it would fly as quickly if we had to pay airfare, though in some ways we do. The one-way tickets would undoubtedly be astronomical. 

I have a theory that life’s airfare involves coach, business and first class, and that whatever one-way ticket we had to buy would somehow be split between all. Think about it. We start out in coach, then, once we’re working, we get to fly business and then, finally, we’re bumped to first class for our older years. If we’re lucky. It’s life’s version of airfare. Because time flies, and that fliage is what I’m celebrating today.

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Smoke detector beeps, Gila monster creeps, and one freaked out dog oh my

by Lorin Michel Sunday, April 24, 2016 8:04 PM

We have seven smoke detectors in the house, one in each of the bedrooms, one in the west hallway, one in the east hallway, and one on the way out to the garage. We also have two carbon monoxide sensors. One of the east side sensors calls out a mechanical "fire." We found this out shortly after we moved in and it went off one very early morning. We were up and out of bed like we'd been shot out of a cannon. It turned out it had a short, but it begged the question: why do smoke alarms only ever sound when you're sleeping? 

This question occurred to me last night as well. You can guess why based on the title of today's post. It was 2:50 am. Riley had already become agitated several hours before when he was sure he saw something anything and maybe a bear outside. He squealed at the bedroom window as he stared out into the still illuminated night. The moon is waning but it was full just two nights ago so it's fairly bright. Then he raced to the bathroom window, the floor to ceiling wall of glass behind the bathtub. He wedged himself between the tub and the glass and squealed some more. I didn't have to see him do this to know where he was. He does this all day long. On his third trip between the two rooms, I got up to look. I saw no bears, no things. I gave him a kiss and told him to get back in bed. He did. And all was quiet for about two more hours. 

Then. Beep.

Oh, crap. Beep.

Come on. 


The smoke detector in the bedroom was having a battery moment. It’s the kind of beep you want to ignore because you know it’s not smoke nor fire, but it’s so high-pitched and shrill that it’s impossible to sleep through it. Plus the dog was completely freaked out. I imagine the every 30 or 40 second BEEP hurt his ears. It did mine. We trudged out to garage to get the ladder, Riley leading the way, his tail tucked firmly between his legs. He was getting out of the house and away from the noise and fast. While Kevin maneuvered the ladder into the house I took the dog out to pee. There was a baby deer standing on the rocks looking down at us. I wondered if his parents knew where he was at that hour of the morning. 

We finally got the battery replaced, but it took at least 30 minutes to coax the dog back into the bedroom. Kevin finally lured him with cookies. An hour plus later, we finally got back to sleep. All of us. 

This morning it was as if the beeping had never happened. Except for the fact that we were exhausted and our eyes were puffy and we were cranky and the dog didn’t even want to get up. He finally did, and Kevin let him out on the deck. Within minutes, he was barking and howling and whining and pawing at the edge of the deck underneath the rail. Let me at ’em. This was more than the usual someone-is-driving-by-on-the-road-below-and-I-must-be-alert fuss. This was real. Something was down there. Kevin, manly man that he is, went to check. It was 8 am, the sun was already warm. The morning had been fairly quiet up until that point. He returned to the door within about 20 seconds, motioning me to come quickly. You gotta see this. 

And there it was, down below the rail, on the desert floor, motoring south, as quickly as they ever motor: the season’s first official Gila monster. Pale orange and black and about 15 inches long. And Riley did not like it one bit.

Within a five-hour period he encountered a rudely beeping smoke detector and a slinking lizard. It would be enough to freak out a low-key and mellow dog, neither of which have ever been used to described our Riley.

Somewhere in the hills above, the baby deer was still watching. That’ll be enough to send Riley Boo to the moon tonight. Oh my.

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