I hear you knocking

by Lorin Michel Saturday, January 17, 2015 8:15 PM

It happens all day long but I don’t always hear it. But come the night, the sound is impossible to ignore. At first, it frightened me. What is that? Then it annoyed me. Come on. Again? Now I find it almost comforting. It’s the tat tat tat tat tat tat tat and then some of the Frigidaire side-by-side refrigerator in our rental house.

When we moved in, in August of 2013, it was hot as it often is in the desert. The house, with the exception of the swoosh of the AC as it blew cool air through the ducts and the soft whirl of the ceiling fan, was quiet. The only sound that came from the refrigerator was the usual electric hum, the occasional drop of ice into the tray from the automatic ice-maker.

Then the temperature turned colder and suddenly the fridge began to keep a steady beat. It wasn’t constant, but it was often, and it got more often as winter descended. We called a refrigerator repair guy who came out to inspect the machinery and gruffly told us that he could find nothing wrong with it. Naturally it made no sound while the man was here just like when your car is making “that” noise that it refuses to make when you take it to the mechanic. Since it gave us the silent treatment that day, it didn’t get fixed. As soon as the guy left, it started again. Tat tat tat tat tat tat.

Several days later I suggested that perhaps it was the temperature as the advent of the tapping seemed to correspond with the arrival of the cold weather. Kevin essentially said that was impossible.

Summer came and the refrigerator got quiet again. It hummed and dropped ice but there was no knocking. For six months or more we had silence emanating from the kitchen. Then came the cold weather and with it, the knocking. It started slowly. Tat tat. As winter continued and the temperatures remained cool if not actually cold at night, the tatting continued, growing steadily. It never gets any louder; it simply lasts longer. Kevin has started counting the knocks. 11 became 22, 22 became 37 became 67 became even more.

It happens during the day but we hardly notice it. At night, though, when the world is quiet, when there is only the occasional woosh of heated air pushing through the ducts, when Cooper sighs heavily, the weight of it all, when we’re supposed to be sleeping, that’s when it comes. The tapping, the tatting, the knocking.

Kevin has now come around to the idea that maybe it does have something to do with the change in temperature though it makes no sense to his logical mind. It doesn’t make sense, but there it is.

Tat tat tat tat.

I always want to say come in, come in already. As the knocks continue, though, I find that they bring me something akin to comfort. I don’t know why. It’s really an annoying sound. Maybe it’s the mechanical-ness of it, the machine-like continuity of it. I can’t put my finger on it. But when I hear the knocking I am somehow soothed. I don’t count the knocks; they don’t keep me up. They simply are. Like the ticking of a loud clock, they record the passage of time and become a reminder of the life before and the summer still to come.

I hear you knocking. But you can’t come in because it would ruin the illusion, it would solve the mystery. And take all the fun out of wondering why.

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live out loud

Veterinary medicine

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, January 14, 2015 9:33 PM

Once upon a time, in the year 3000 BC, there lived a man named Urlugaledinna. He was known as the expert in healing animals, and he began the practice of veterinary medicine. Like much of medicine it remained medieval for hundreds of years until a Frenchman by the name of Claude Bourgelat founded a veterinary school in Lyon in 1761. It was after witnessing the devastation caused by a cattle plague that Bourgelat decided to devote his life to finding out why, and more importantly, developing medicine so that it wouldn’t happen again. He did, and it didn’t.

In England, the Odiham Agricultural Society, founded in 1783, worked to promote agriculture and industry. A founding member named Thomas Burgess began studying more humane ways to treat sick animals. By 1790 the official profession of veterinary medicine was recognized. And thank dog.

When I had Tori, my beautiful tortoise-shell colored cat, and lived in woodland hills, I discovered Dr. Stan Kunin and his Veterinary Medical Center. He took care of my girl and when she got cancer, helped me through the decisions I had to make. When it came time to put her to sleep, he's the one who did it. I was a wreck. We went into one of the back rooms and he told me I could stay with her as long as I wanted. Then they had an emergency and suddenly, there I was with my lifeless little girl while Stan and his team worked to save a dog that had been hit by a car. The juxtaposition was wild; the symbolism couldn't have been stronger.

When we got Maguire, the first place we took him was to see Stan. When our little guy got sick and he was diagnosed with Parvo by the emergency pet clinic it was Stan who called us the next day to say it had been a false positive. We took Maguire there for years for checkups and shots, after he was attacked by a neighborhood dog, whenever he just wasn't right. It was a longer drive by then since we had moved farther away but it was worth it.

After awhile he got to be too old to make the journey and Stan recommended a vet in our area who made house calls. Her name was Lorraine Watson and she, too, was great. When we lost our boy, she was one of the first to send a card. Inside she included a small doggie angel pin. He had crossed over the rainbow bridge.

Over the years, we've visited many veterinary offices, we've gone to the 24 hour emergency per hospitals. Whenever we move, one of the first things I do is find the nearest pet hospital. Then I find the closest people hospital. Priorities.

Our Cooper is sick and has been to the local vet twice now in less than 48 hours. He was weirdly lethargic over the weekend and I called on Monday. They saw him that night (our new vet, Acacia Animal Hospital, has extended hours, until 8pm Monday thru Friday) but they didn't really know what was wrong. Last night we were up with him several times as he got sicker and sicker. This morning we went to see Dr. Laudonio at Acacia. He doesn't really know what's going on since there are no outward or obvious symptoms. We did blood work. Now we wait. It’s hard because, as the vet said, animals don’t always follow the text book to let us know what’s wrong. We have to guess sometimes; we have to hope. 

I am so grateful to people who dedicate their lives to the practice of veterinary medicine. They help our animals, our pets, our furry family members when we can’t. Kevin and I don’t know what’s wrong with Cooper. We just hope that it’s something treatable. Maguire was relatively healthy right up until he wasn’t. He was over 15, long past his expected life expectancy. Vets and the hospital helped us when we couldn’t help him. Same with my beautiful Tori.

Tonight, while we hope that our Cooper starts to feel better, while we wait for the results of his blood work, I sit here in celebration of all the vets I’ve had care for my pets. If I was someone who prayed, I’d pray for my little red-furred boy. I’m not. So instead I’ll just think positive thoughts that he’ll be wagging it out loud soon thanks to good veterinarians and veterinary medicine.

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live out loud

Rainy days and Mondays and Porsches

by Lorin Michel Monday, January 12, 2015 7:53 PM

Today, the Porsche went into the shop to get fixed. It has been needing to get fixed for about three years but we have dutifully and willfully ignored its many ails. It’s not a daily driver. Lately it hasn’t been any kind of driver. Several years ago, when our first Range Rover was in the shop, the Porsche was our only vehicle. It was a trooper. The car always runs like a top, as Kevin likes to say. But then the odometer stopped recording miles. And it developed a nasty brake fluid leak. And the headlights, which are retractable, didn’t like to stay up. And the front struts went from bad to oh. My. Dog.

So it has been relegated to the garage for the better part of two years. It was in the garage in Oak Park. We put it on the back of trailer and towed it across the desert when we moved. Once we got here and drove it off the trailer, it went into the garage. We put a flattened box underneath it to catch the drips from wherever it was leaking. Every once in awhile, Kevin starts it and drives it around the block. Last spring, he replaced the front struts. But because of the brake fluid leak and its other funky little issues, it really hasn’t been safe to drive.

It’s a pretty car. Still classic at almost 30 years old. It’s a 1987 Porsche 944(951) Turbo. It’s low to the ground and fast as hell. It’s completely paid for. It’s a toy.

It still has its California plates. The last time it was registered was in January 2012. The current tags say 2013. It’s been illegal to drive for exactly two years. When we moved here I told Kevin that it had to be fixed by the time we moved into the house on the hill. I refuse to drive it up, or worse, down the hill when there are brake issues. The fact that we’ve been through at least three large bottles of brake fluid means that it no longer stops on a dime like it used to. It stops and has yet to let us down. But that driveway of ours is steep, and I have nightmares about driving down and the brakes going out and having it, and me, sail off into the desert.

This morning we woke up to rain. I love rain. I like the clicking sound of it on the skylights. I love the smell of it, musty and cold. The fact that it was Monday and raining made me smile. Whenever that happens I can’t help but think of the Carpenters song, Rainy days and Mondays. Of course, they always got Karen Carpenter down. Not so me. I’m not crazy about Monday but because I love rain, it serves to mitigate the Monday blues when it’s raining and gray.

Last night we started the Porsche, to make sure that it would. Kevin took it for a spin around the block. We left it outside, parked up close to the garage. Because it hasn’t been driven in a while, it also hasn’t been washed. Kevin does a lot of work in the garage. It was filthy. This morning it was just wet.

We went outside to walk Cooper. All three of us stopped to look at the car. Cooper because it wasn’t supposed to be there, Kevin and I because it was so pretty. Drops of rain water beaded up on the still waxed paint.

On this rainy day, this Monday, the Porsche finally went to get fixed. That wasn’t getting any of us down at all. Quite the opposite.   

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live out loud


by Lorin Michel Friday, December 26, 2014 10:04 PM

There is a town in Cochise County that was originally called Maley. It was founded in 1880 as a whistlestop on the Southern Pacific Railroad. In 1889, it was renamed Willcox after Orlando Bolivar Willcox who served as a general in the Union Army in the Civil War. He was on the first train that came through the tiny town. Today it is home to 10 Southern Arizona wineries and about 3700 people. Day-after-Christmas wine tasting is a tradition, and this year Willcox was where we journeyed.

This tiny, nearly forgotten western town is just over an hour from Tucson. At an altitude of nearly 4200 feet it’s also cooler. In fact, it was only in the low 40s under a cloudless sky, and it was windy. We went to the older part of town first. Driving through, we were immediately struck by the fact that it’s very run down, kind of a hole as I dubbed it. Once upon a time it was probably wonderful and bustling. There are motels after motels, nearly all abandoned, with broken windows and signs that are falling from the building, hanging by old wires. It looks like you’re driving through an old town from the 1950s, a black and white movie like The Last Picture Show.

We turned right on Maley and then left onto Main, at the corner of The Rabbit Hole and The Dining Car Big Tex Barbecue. Flying Leap was on the same corner. There was an empty saloon for sale by Steve, and another small barbecue that looked like the place Frank Underwood frequents in the House of Cards on Netflix. The owner was sitting outside. He smiled and said Merry Christmas as we walked by. The old-fashioned movie house was advertising Hobbit 3 on the marquee. The road had angled parking places on either side of the street. Keeling Schaefer was there, too, across from the bronze sculpture of General Willcox.  We walked in and began our day of tasting.

Keeling Schaefer is in an old bank building from 1917. There is a ladder up to a lookout where the guard would sit with his rifle. Such was security in the old west. We tasted wine, we bought wine; we watched the trains roll by. We walked over to Big Tex, had some pulled pork for lunch, piled into the car and went in search of other wineries.

We found Bodega Pierce after turning on a dirt road. It was like being in a covered wagon, jostling along, kicking up dust. I was glad we hadn’t washed our already filthy car. From Bodega Pierce we went to Pillsbury and then to Zarpara. All of these tasting rooms are in people’s homes. They pour from what would be an eat-at bar in their kitchen.

We met a woman named Barbara at Bodega. She’s the owner of the winery. We met Bonnie at Pillsbury. She’s originally from Ohio but has been in Southern Arizona for 20 some years. She’s 65, a writer and came to Willcox about a year and a half ago to live on the vineyard property. She had her woodstove blazing. At Zarpara we were greeted by their dog Tilly, and the winery owners Rona and Mark were pouring wine from their kitchen. All of these winery owners had left corporate jobs; had decided there had to be something more to life. They found it in the rolling planes of this wonderful and wonderfully odd, time-forgotten little town.

We found it today, too, as we journeyed to a different time and place, where the grapes grow in volcanic soils and the winemakers walk the vineyards themselves, testing, observing, living a new life. In vino vertitas is what the Italians say. In wine, truth. And life. Today in Willcox, in wine there was living it out loud.

Happy Christmas Eve

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, December 24, 2014 8:38 PM

It’s a beautiful day in the desert as I write this, 55º with a slight breeze. It seems both impossible and completely plausible that today is Christmas Eve and tomorrow is Christmas. Such is life in the desert southwest. I have become used to it and yet I always hope that there will at least be clouds. Perhaps it’s my upbringing, but Christmas always seems more Christmasy when there is weather.

Today is filled with a lot of nothingness. Luckily all of the shopping has been done, the presents are wrapped. Even the shopping for food has been done. I will make a big pan of manicotti, Kevin’s favorite, then put it in the refrigerator for tomorrow. It’s always better if it has a day to sit. Tomorrow I’ll simply put it in the oven; I’ll make garlic bread and a salad.

Tonight at the Arizona Inn

This afternoon we’ll go for a walk, then do a bit of wine tasting. Tonight we’ll go to the Arizona Inn and sit in the library. It’s so terribly civilized, cultured. Each year they do a gorgeous Christmas tree with thousands of lights and ornaments. We’ll sit in front of the fire and sip a glass of fine red wine as music plays softly in the background. Afterward, maybe we’ll stop at Pastiche, one of our favorite restaurants. There isn’t much open tonight, but they are… until 9.

When we return to the house, we’ll have more wine. Some stuffed mushrooms, some additional munchies. We’ll listen to music; put a movie in with no sound. We’ll enjoy the season.

It’s Christmas Eve. Tomorrow is Christmas. We’ll be leisurely and open presents. We may have mimosas. It’s the only time of year we do that, and it makes the day that much more special. It’s supposed to be cloudy and perhaps rain. Rain and cold makes it, somehow, more festive though not more joyous. The joy comes regardless. It’s the joy of giving, of sharing, of laughter and the season. I’m a sucker for this season and all that it brings. The music, the gifts, the decorations, the movies. This year it also brings our good friends Roy and Bobbi. It’s the first year we haven’t had Justin, but we’re making a new tradition and spending it with friends instead. Next year, we’ll be in the new house. It will be another special year.

This Christmas Eve, we’re celebrating a beautiful day, and a fun evening to follow. We’re going wine tasting. We’re cooking. We’re enjoying. We’re watching and listening.

And we’re wishing everyone a Happy Christmas Eve.

So I return to my (desert) home and my (desert) life

by Lorin Michel Friday, December 19, 2014 9:29 PM


I have five favorite books of all time, one of which is Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides. It is an exquisitely written fictional memoir about a man, Tom Wingo, who grew up in the south and who has traveled to New York to help supply the memory of his nearly catatonic twin sister after she tries to kill herself. He has left his wife and children behind. His wife is having an affair and Tom is having an existential crisis. He has his own affair with his sister’s psychiatrist. It’s a brutal story but the prose is lush and poetic. I remember reading it on an airplane, finishing it as the plane was landing in New York. I was in tears.

I thought of this book and its gorgeous last paragraph today as I drove across the desert, alone. I’ve been in Los Angeles for several days, having meetings and securing more work that will begin in earnest in the New Year. I had driven rather than fly because it just seemed easier. It’s a long drive but an easy one, and I don’t mind it. Plus, as I was leaving Los Angeles today, the news channel was talking about how it’s the busiest travel day of the year at LAX and what a mess it was, especially on the upper level which is the departure level. I hate the airport; I was glad to already be on my way east even if it would ultimately take me a bit longer.

As I drove through the desert, surrounded by cars and trucks and trailers, one of my favorite passages, the last from both the book and the movie popped into my head. I have no idea why.

“So I returned to my southern home and my southern life, and it is in the presence of my woman and children that I acknowledge my life, my destiny. I am a teacher, a coach, and a well-loved man. And it is more than enough. In New York, I learned that I needed to love my mother and father in all their flawed, outrageous humanity. And in families there are no crimes beyond forgiveness. But it is the mystery of life that sustains me now. And I look to the North and I wish again that there were two lives apportioned to every man and every woman. At the end of every day I drive through the city of Charleston, and as I cross the bridge that will take me home I feel the words building inside me. I can't stop them or tell you why I say them, but as I reach the top of the bridge, these words come to me in a whisper. I say them as prayer, as regret, as praise… I say, "Lowenstein… Lowenstein..."”

All I could think of was that I was returning to my desert home and my desert life. And that it is in the presence of my husband and dog that I acknowledge my life, my destiny. I am a writer, a creator, and a well-loved woman.  And it is more than enough. In LA, I embraced  the  love I have for my family and my friends. And that in both, there is only joy and wonder. But it’s the mystery of life that sustains me always.  And I look to the East and I wish again that there was less miles between my Tucson and my LA. At the end of the day I drive through the vast Sonoran desert, and as I cross the border that means I will be home in three and a half hours I feel the words building inside me. I can’t stop them but you’ll understand why I say them, and as I reach Phoenix and turn south, these words come to me in a whisper. I say them as prayer, as promise, as joy … I say, “I’m home… I’m home.”

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Paw prints and then

by Lorin Michel Saturday, December 13, 2014 9:50 PM

It was raining here this morning when I took Cooper for a walk. We knew it was coming in. My weather app said as much. Plus the west coast got hammered a day and a half or so ago and the storm was moving east. It was a nice rain, just enough to make both he and I wet but not drenched. It’s the kind of rain I used to love to run in back when I was a runner. I miss running in the rain. Fodder for another post.

By the time el puptart and I returned, we were both fairly drenched. He shook and Kevin wrapped him in a towel, rubbing his fur to dry him off. I shook my head to fling out some water and headed for the bathroom and the hairdryer. Cooper, sensing where II was going, pranced ahead leaving wet paw prints on the floor. I smiled.

I’m a sucker for paw prints. I suppose most pet lovers are. The perfection of the tiny or sometimes not so tiny pads that hold water and leave a trail even inside, even for a short time until they evaporate.

Yesterday, we noticed tiny paw prints on the face of the fireplace in the great room of the new house. Vertical paw prints. I’m not entirely sure how that was possible but there they were, in a cluster. Some were perfectly formed, others had slid together as if whatever was trying to scale the wall in order to get inside the hole just above the fireplace was using all of its little might to heave and pull itself to safety. Mike remarked that he hoped some little creature wasn’t somewhere in the walls. If it gets sealed in inadvertently ir’s screwed.

We’ve seen all sizes of paw prints at the house, some obviously a dog, some more suspect. Coyote maybe. Or bobcat. Mike says there are bears out there. I haven’t yet seen anything remotely the size of a bear’s print, but yikes.

Paw prints appear on cars all the time. I love when you see the prints across the hood of a car and on the windshield, the telltale slide. I can imagine cats or raccoons getting on top of a car just to slide down. Like an amusement park for the wilderness.

It always makes me smile when I see the paw print stickers people put on their car windows. It’s as if they’re signifying solidarity; showing their love of the furred ones to the world. I always want to honk and say “heck yeah.” I don’t because they wouldn’t know what I was honking about and they’d think I was a nut, which of course I am, for animals.

When we lost Maguire, my sister and niece gave me a sterling silver necklace featuring a small silver triangle. Inside the triangle is a paw print. On the back is Maguire’s name. I wear it all the time in memory of our beloved boy, the one Kevin nicknamed puppy feet when he was little; he of the large paws.

There is a popular meme known as footprints in the sand, about god and walking beside and then carrying. I prefer the idea of paw prints in the sand and everywhere. That’s about dog to me.

Paw prints bring me comfort, they make me feel safe, they fill me with love, even when they’re on the floor in the house, even when they’re muddy. They fade or are washed away, but they are the stamp of my dogs, past and present. They are their way of saying “I was here; I still am.” And that’s always worth celebrating.

The clouds look like it’s gonna snow

by Lorin Michel Sunday, November 16, 2014 7:01 PM

It was 41º here this morning. Cold and cloudy. The sky was filled with thick clouds that were white on top, heavy on the bottom. They wouldn’t do anything other than keep the temperature down. It’s not ready to rain and it’s definitely not going to snow. This last didn’t stop my husband from proclaiming just that as we left the house to walk the dog.

And he was right. In other parts of the country, this kind of cloud formation often leads to snow. He’s from Chicago where 41º at this time of year can be downright balmy. When the clouds form and the temperature drops, the air cuts through you like a knife, slicing into your bones. I’ve been to Chicago in the winter, been to Soldier Field for a football game in white out blizzard conditions where the kick-off temp was minus 21º and the field was covered in snow. True football weather. Bear weather as the fans call it. Not that it often matters as the Bears, unfortunately, often lose regardless of the weather conditions. The myth of cold, snowy, truly horrific conditions benefiting their play is just that.

I’m reminded of the Christmas song that begins “Oh, the weather outside is frightful.” For Christmas song aficionados out there, you’ll recognize that as the opening riff for Let it snow.

Snow behind the house, in the foothills, last winter

It is snowing in Chicago today and the Bears are losing as I write this. The Patriots are in Indianapolis tonight, and it is supposed to snow there, too. Let it snow. Oak Park is blustery but still on its way to 70º. In the Old Pueblo, where it has been known to snow, it is on its way to maybe 63º.

The air is flowing through the open window. The sun is beating back the clouds but it’s still cool. Most of the clouds have settled over the foothills where they’re casting ominous shadows, flattening the rocks. I’m always fascinated by the way light plays with a landscape. I supposed it’s also what fascinated landscape painters. The way the light changes depth and perception. The way sunlight can be both warm and cold. The way clouds can both dampen and enhance a scene. The way the eyes adjust. The way the sky can recede and come forward at the same time.

It’s not going to snow here today. Occasionally a cloud will break away from the hills and blot out the sun. The temperature will seem to drop but it won’t really. Not until the gray of the late afternoon comes back, not until night falls.

“The clouds look like it’s gonna snow.” That’s what Kevin said to me this morning as he came in with a cup of coffee, as the dog snored in his bed, as the cool air flooded the bedroom

“I don’t think so,” I said, accepting my coffee with a thank you.

But we can always dream. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

A busy busy day

by Lorin Michel Saturday, November 15, 2014 7:47 PM

I was gone last weekend so that means the amount of stuff I have to do today has compounded exponentially. I don’t know if that’s the right word but it sounds good and intelligent so I’m going with it.

Last week at this time, I was writing my blog from the backseat of my sister’s Jeep Grand Cherokee as we sped along toward Maine. Down Maine as the locals say. On our way to see Gregg’s new house in South Berwick, just over the border of New Hampshire. It was cold. You could feel winter in the air. It was just over the horizon, waiting for the opportune time to make an appearance. Today, it’s cool here, too, but nowhere near what it was seven days ago on the other coast. It will probably get to 70º today before it gives up. Last week, back east, the high was about 48º.

Last night I started on my growing To-Do-This-Weekend list by going to the grocery store. Because I was gone last weekend, we had almost nothing in the house. The cupboards, as the saying goes, were bare. I have gotten in the habit of going to the grocery store just once a week and doing a big order. The weekend before I went to Nump’sha, I had bought stuff for Kevin and I and then also stuff for Kevin to eat while I was gone. I cook every night; I knew he wouldn’t cook for himself. He ate it all. This past week, I employed some supreme creativity. Finding things in the freezer I could use along with other things in the pantry and in the vegetable drawer to make meals.

Today I am busy busy, which is exponentially busier than simply busy. Two busys are not necessarily better than one but there you go.

I’m going to the tile store to check on a slab of granite that was supposed to come in as well as to see about them ordering a particular type of tile they told us they could get forever ago but that we thought we might be able to find somewhere else cheaper. We can’t. I’m hoping they can still get it. Otherwise we’re back to square foot one for what we want to put on our vanity counters.

I need to go to another tile store that has black honed granite which we want to use for the back splash in the kitchen. Honed is non-shiny. I share that because it was news to me. This particular tile store also has the tile we want for our showers. I may order them both while I’m there.

The sun sets on a busy busy day in the OP

I have to go to Floor and Décor, the new flooring superstore, to buy two stone sinks. They have the best price, and believe me, we’ve looked. We need one for the guest room, another for the ¾ bath.

I need to go to Home Goods. I’m still in search of mirrors for the vanities in the master bath. I haven’t yet been successful but last week when I was in Home Goods with my mother in New Hampshire, I saw some that were actually pretty cool. With any luck the one I’m going to here will have something similar if not identical. If they do, I’m buying two.

I have to go to Dunn-Edwards to look at and hopefully buy paint samples for the interior of the house. We’re looking at a light desert sand; no white. But finding the right shade is important. Can’t be too yellow or too orange or too brown or too white.

I’m starting everything off by washing my two rovers. The Range Rover is already in the driveway, waiting. It’s filthy and I don’t like my car filthy. I’ll wash it, then move it to the street so it can sit in the sun a bit and have the water evaporate. No matter how much I dry that car, water still manages to ooze out. I have long said that it holds water like a woman. I can say that with some understanding, as I am a woman.

The other rover, Master Cooper, will be next. He needs a bath and a trim, especially since we’re going out of town in a few weeks. He needs to be handsome, and he needs to be clean. He’s good when he gets a bath. I’ll suds him up, rinse him and towel him off. He’ll race around the back yard celebrating himself and all will be right with the world.

It’s a busy busy day here in the Old Pueblo and I’m living it out loud.

And Hawaii

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, October 29, 2014 8:57 PM

This morning, the husband unit and I were lounging in bed, having a cup of coffee, discussing the seven continents because what else would a happily married couple be doing at 7 am on a Wednesday morning?

The conversation had started rather innocently when I mentioned that this weekend was the time change. Many parts of the country fall behind. Arizona doesn’t participate because why would they. So I mentioned that we needed to remember that when California clients said they’d like to have a 2 pm meeting, that actually means 3 pm our time for the next several months unless we’re in California and then we don’t have to think about it. Kevin took a sip of his coffee and said his head hurt already. Then he said that maybe we needed to get some of those clocks, and I smiled and I said so we’d know what time it was in Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo, maybe Singapore.

That led to a segue of me asking what the biggest city in China is, and we both decided that it must be Beijing. This prompted me to say that I was pretty sure I could name most of the major cities in most countries but that Africa always eluded me. I knew Johannesburg in South Africa. I knew much of Africa was horribly poor, and that there is always strife there; always has been.

He said South Hampton. I don’t know if there’s a South Hampton in Africa. I know there’s one on Long Island and England. I asked if there were any other big cities in Africa which naturally led to a discussion about Egypt and Cairo because what else do you discuss at 7:05 in the morning. He said he didn’t think Egypt was in Africa and I asked well, then, where would it be? Luckily, I had my handy dandy communication device right next to the bed because dog forbid I not have my cell phone within reach at all times. I pulled up the internets and Wikipedia, wondering how I ever got by without Wikipedia, and looked up Egypt. There it was, a nice big splotch on the northern tip of Africa. Hmmm, said the husband unit, sipping his coffee.

What are the seven continents, I asked and together we quickly rattled off north and south America, Africa, Asia. Kevin offered Antarctica. Then we sat, perplexed. Australia? Yes. And Hawaii. I started to laugh. I’ve always loved Hawaii. It’s truly a tropical paradise. It has an otherworldiness about it, especially on the smaller islands, that makes you feel as if you’ve left the chaos behind. Time slows down a bit. You go from living life at mach II with your hair on fire to existing in slow motion. It can take a few days to acclimate, but once you do, it’s difficult to go back to the mainland. I think it might very well be the living and actual embodiment of Shangri-La, a fictional place from the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton that was described as a mystical and harmonious valley, according to Wikipedia. It has since become somewhat synonymous with any earthly paradise.

Eventually, the husband unit and I came up with the correct seven continents. We got out of bed and took Cooper for a walk. The morning here was cool, low 50s. The light was almost blue, even as we approached 8 am. Fall weather. Cooper trotted along, his ears bouncing as they always do. We were quiet, lost in thoughts of Shangri-La. And the lost continent of Hawaii.

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