Category Archives: Essay

D is for Dachshund

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My Father’s Day present to my husband in 2011 was a dachshund, something he had been begging me for. He and my daughter Erin went to an adoption event at a pet store. He selected a rescued dachshund who had been found in the state forest.

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We don’t really know her back story. The rescue outfit called her Precious. She was about five years old. Greg renamed her Rudi, the same name as the dog his father had owned.

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Rudi’s eyes eventually grew cloudy due to a buildup of cholesterol in her corneas. She lost a lot of her vision. She sometimes scratched her eyes, and had to wear the cone of shame joy.

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She loved to go for walks and would pull you along for the ride.

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She liked to be outside and sit in the sun.

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She was a good companion.

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As she aged, she slowed down. One day, about two years ago, she had several seizures. We took her to the vet right before closing time. The vet ran some tests and kept her overnight. The next morning, she was dead. The vet thinks she had a brain tumor.

It’s hard losing your dear friend, your furry baby. We only had her for seven years. For months, I said “No more dogs.”

But Greg wanted to try again. Before Christmas, we searched the pound for another dachshund. But most of the dogs were pit bulls. Then Greg noticed a little chihuahua trembling in a corner. He needed us.

That’s a whole other story.

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Pandemic Silver Lining

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Pandemic Silver Lining

I don’t like to be inconvenienced. It makes me grouchy.

When the first pandemic warnings came out, it felt like overreaction to me. So there’s a virus. Too bad.

When my supermarket-stocker son told me his store sold more in two days than they’d sold from Thanksgiving to Christmas, I was mystified. Why were people buying up all the paper products and canned foods?

One by one, all my weekly activities that I love got canceled: hand bell choir, church choir, folk dancing, bible study, Sunday worship, the quilting ministry, symphony concerts. Even the folk dance festival that I helped put together got canceled. I got grouchier.

My husband went into the hospital on March 11 for spinal surgery. He’d been struggling with vertigo for many months and tried a number of different treatments, but his dizziness and falls persisted. He had spinal stenosis, and surgery was his last option. The night before he asked me, “Is this elective surgery?” I didn’t know how to answer; his quality of life was so bleak. I decided that if his surgery was deemed not necessary, the hospital would have to tell us so.

Unfortunately, Greg hasn’t yet bounced back as expected. As of this writing, he’s been transferred to a skilled nursing facility. The last time I was allowed to visit him was March 20. As hard as that is on me, I suspect it’s even harder on him and our grown children who haven’t seen him since before the surgery. But as an older person with a compromised immune system, he’s probably in the safest possible place.

My older son just learned that the restaurant where he’s worked for 17 years has closed for good. I panicked when I heard that, but he’s already strategizing his job hunt.

I’m not telling you all my problems to elicit sympathy for me. Everyone has had to make sacrifices during this time. I know that most people have it worse than I do.

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My real reason for writing this is to tell you what I’ve observed.

Members of every group I belong to have called me or texted me to ask how I’m doing or if there’s anything I need. Not just my children and my friends, but also my pastors and ministry leaders. Not just once, but multiple times. My son’s restaurant, before it closed, cooked food and gave it away for free. People are going out of their way to help others and anticipate needs. I went to the fabric store for some thread, and people were there picking up materials to make medical masks for the hospitals.

It just so happens that I have everything I need. My house is well stocked. But not being forgotten touches me deeply when so many people are struggling. It even makes me less grouchy.

Thank you for all you do in your communities. And if you need help, just ask.

Arizona State Drink Outrage

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Arizona State Drink Outrage

I just found out that ten months ago, my state legislature passed a bill making lemonade the official state beverage.

The bill was suggested by a high school student.

I was never consulted.

Shouldn’t there have been a referendum? Shouldn’t the good voters of Arizona have had the privilege of choosing the state beverage?

Because the obvious choice for state beverage would be lemon water. (What’s lemon water? Water with fresh lemon juice squeezed into it.)

Much of Arizona is desert. It’s hot and dry. Arizonans sip water all day long to stay hydrated.

But our water doesn’t always taste so good. When we moved here more than thirty years ago, our tap water smelled like chlorine. I would get a glass of tap water halfway to my mouth and change my mind about drinking it. Many Arizonans buy bottled drinking water or have reverse osmosis water systems to remove the stinky chemicals and pollutants from their water. (Actually, our tap water tastes much better now. Or maybe I’m just used to it.)

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I don’t like to drink liquids that contain sugar. That includes most lemonade. But restaurants usually carry only one “diet” beverage—diet cola. And cola has caffeine in it. Which wouldn’t be a problem in the morning; but if I drink caffeine at dinner time, I’m bouncing off walls all night.

So my go-to restaurant drink is water. But, as I said before, the tap water isn’t very pleasant. If I know the restaurant serves tap water, I ask for water and lemon.

And like many Arizona residents, we have a lemon tree in our yard, so we have fresh lemons a good part of the year, so it’s our standard drink at home, too.

Lemon water is the natural choice for Arizona state beverage. Saddling us with the sugary version is gross injustice foisted upon us by our elected officials. It’s an outrage.

Now it’s your turn—does your state have a state beverage? (Go Google it. I’ll wait.) Is it a good choice, or what would you rather have as your official drink? Share in the comments below.

In Praise of Geography

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world map 640px-BlackMarble20161kmBack in the olden days (late 1950s—early 1960s), geography was taught in elementary schools. Not all elementary schools, apparently, since my husband can’t recall ever studying it, but it was a subject at the parochial school I attended.

I think the first year it was offered was third grade. I remember being disappointed with our textbook, because it didn’t really deal with other countries, which, as a child of immigrants, I hungered to learn about. Instead, it dealt in general terms about land masses and oceans and mountains and map representations. It bored me, but I suppose it laid the groundwork for what was to come.

I can’t remember exactly what came next, but I suppose we learned the names of each continent and ocean and where they were located on a map and on the globe. We learned that we lived in North America, between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and that our neighbor to the north was Canada, and to the south, Mexico. My next-door neighbor, Mrs. Brennan, grew up in Mexico, and she gave me a Mexican doll, which I brought to school for geography show-and-tell.

DSC01850In subsequent years, our study centered on the various countries located on specific continents. We were tasked with learning capital cities and prominent cities, principal exports, languages spoken, forms of government, characteristics of the landscapes and peoples, special customs, and being able to locate the countries on a map and tell what their borders touched.

As an adult, when I taught elementary general music, I would bring in a little geography, showing on the map a composer’s country of origin, or where an ethnic song or dance came from. I would show our location in Chandler, Arizona, and how you had to travel across the United States and sometimes across oceans and other continents to get there.

I’d like to say I remember everything I learned in geography as a child. But so much has changed. Countries have changed names, borders have been redrawn, and sometimes I don’t recall what was what. However, I do have a general idea where to look for places on a map.

I think the study of geography is important, and should be required at least one year at the elementary, secondary, and college levels. It’s such a shame when adults don’t know the difference between Austria and Australia or between longitude and latitude.

#ALP: Star Spangled Banner

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#ALP: Star Spangled Banner

Can anyone sing it well? How do you feel about standing for it? If you could write a new anthem, what would your lyrics say? Is a professional ball game a suitable venue for the national anthem, or are we just asking for trouble playing it in a sports arena?

  • Use this prompt any way you wish—for a poem, memoir, painting, short story, photograph, no limits. Enjoy!
  • If you’d like to share a blog post (G-rated, please, and sensitive to the feelings of others—anything slightly objectionable will be deleted), create a pingback or leave a link in the comments below.
  • Be sure to visit at least two other participants to see how they interpreted the prompt.
  • Tag your entry #ALP (for ARHtistic License Prompt) to help others find your work on social media.

#ALP: Veggies

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#ALP: Veggies

Love ’em or hate ’em? Do you consider tomatoes and corn vegetables? If you were making vegetable soup from scratch, what would you be sure to include?

  • Use this prompt any way you wish—for a poem, memoir, painting, short story, photograph, no limits. Enjoy!
  • If you’d like to share a blog post (G-rated, please, and sensitive to the feelings of others—anything slightly objectionable will be deleted), create a pingback or leave a link in the comments below.
  • Be sure to visit at least two other participants to see how they interpreted the prompt.
  • Tag your entry #ALP (for ARHtistic License Prompt) to help others find your work on social media.

#ALP: Weather

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#ALP: Weather

Are you happiest when it rains? Or do you need sunshine to be content? Hot? Cold? Let it snow? Has the weather ever caused a real challenge for you?

  • Use this prompt any way you wish—for a poem, memoir, painting, short story, photograph, no limits. Enjoy!
  • If you’d like to share a blog post (G-rated, please, and sensitive to the feelings of others—anything slightly objectionable will be deleted), create a pingback or leave a link in the comments below.
  • Be sure to visit at least two other participants to see how they interpreted the prompt.
  • Tag your entry #ALP (for ARHtistic License Prompt) to help others find your work on social media.