Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

This is pure, undiluted happiness. This is an example of how to live totally in the moment, without yearnings or regrets. This is what the Buddhists are on about. This is Nirvana. This is Bao with a bone.
But how often are any of us as completely and unconditionally happy as a little dog with a bone? Why is it that no matter how much we have, we always want more? Why can't enough be enough?
That's exactly the question I asked my Financial Advisor, when he voiced his concern that my investment portfolio had no growth. Just municipal bonds, yielding income.
But I have all I need, I said. It's enough.
Enough may be enough at the moment, he said. But it might not be enough twenty years from now.
I said I might not be here twenty years from now. And even if I am still here, I'll have slowed down a bit. Besides, you can only eat one meal at a time. Only wear one set of clothes. Only live in one house. Only drive one car. Enough is enough. Why do I need more?
Everyone needs more, he said. And everyone needs growth. That's why everyone should invest some of their portfolio in the stock market.
I hate the stock market. I'm scared of the stock market. I don't trust the stock market. I don't trust anybody who has anything to do with the stock market. Okay, I'll never be rich. But there's something undeniably warm and cuddly and appealing about a Municipal Bond that's worth as much when you sell it as it was when you bought it.
But the experts say I'm wrong. Apparently, the formula is to subtract the age you are now from the age at which the actuaries say you'll fall off your perch, and that's the percentage of your investments that should be in the stock market.
Again, my Financial Advisor told me about this fund that invests in stock. How wonderful it is. What fabulous returns it gets. How he's got all his own money invested in it. He's been telling me this for the past year, but this time, I succumbed. Okay, I said. Send me the paperwork.
It arrived late last Friday afternoon.
I sat looking at it all weekend. It all made such good sense. But my gut kept saying, Don't do this.
First thing Monday morning, I called him. I said I have a really bad feeling about this. I said, I'm uncomfortable. He was very nice, and told me not to worry, we could talk about it another time.
Tuesday, the stock market dropped like a stone. I'd have lost 5% of my investment (plus the 2% up-front fee) in a single day. Yeah, I know. If I lived long enough, eventually I'd get it back. But that is not my idea of an investment.
The moral? Enjoy the good things that come your way as completely and as unconditionally as Bao is enjoying this bone. Don't let people talk you into wanting more, even if they're experts, if you actually don't need more.
Enough is enough.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Do you really care where Anna Nicole is buried? Or what Britney Spears does to her hair? Does anybody?
I've got some real news.
Here it is. Finally. An absolutely perfect dog poop scooper-upper. It's called a Mutt Mitt, and I discovered it in -- of all places -- Mexico!
It folds up to the size of a pillbox, but unfurled, it's big enough to cope with the output of any dog. I've draped one over a sleeping Bao, to give you an idea of its capacity.
It's quick, it's clean, it's light, it's cheap and you don't get your hands dirty.
Don't just take my word for it. You can get a free sample if you send them an email asking for one. The address is
I really love this product. I bet you will, too.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

It's been a cold winter, here in Tucson.
Probably not as cold as it is where you are, but cold for Tucson.
So I've become a bit of a couch potato, spending the grey afternoons curled up in a shawl in front of the fire with Bao, a good book, a box of chocolates and the occasional glass of red wine to keep my blood circulating.
And guess what? I got fat again, just like I did when I first came back to the United States to live and stuffed my face with all the lovely things I'd missed in Australia -- creamy American ice cream, American hot dogs, American pastrami.
Now, none of my nice clothes fit.
So four weeks ago, I went on a diet.
Low-fat yoghurt, no-fat cottage cheese, celery, carrots, cantaloupe chunks, hard-boiled eggs, rice crackers, the whole catastrophe. Bao has been quietly appalled. He doesn't even bother to beg, anymore. He reckons what he's got is better than what I've got, and I'm not sure he's wrong. And I bought a treadmill, and I walk on the damn thing every day. Bao sits on the bed and watches as I walk and walk and walk, and get nowhere. I wonder what he's thinking. Actually, I'm proably better off not knowing.
And what did I achieve? Yesterday morning when I got on the scales, how much weight do you think I lost? A grand total of three pounds. After four weeks of exercise and rabbit food! Three rotten little pounds.
So I said, To hell with this.
Last night, I had Tequila Lime chicken wings for dinner, skin and all. And a roasted potato. And a slice of my neighbor's pavlova with cherries and cream afterwards. And a Godiva chocolate before bed. Did I feel guilty? Not a bit. I felt fed, for the first time in four weeks.
And this morning, when I got on the scales to assess the damage, I discovered I'd lost two pounds.
Go figure.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

How many Shih Tzus get to be photographed with two gorgeous dramaturges?

For that matter, how many people get to be photographed with two dramaturges? How many people even know what a dramaturge is?

The occasion was the second Annual Meeting of the Tucson Associates of the Stratford (Shakespeare) Festival -- that's Straftford, Canada, remember? It was hosted by the Marroney Theatre on the University of Arizona campus. And we were 'specially invited, so we went. (Well, of course we did. They were serving dinner, with wine and dessert.)

After a wonderful dinner complete with boxed chocolates especially made for the occasion by the organizer's chocolatier daughter (and wouldn't you just love to be intimately related to a chocolatier?) Dramaturge Dr. Shelley Orr of the University of Arizona School of Theatre Arts spoke to us about Romeo and Juliet as Neo-Victorians, as a lead-in to the school's current production of Romeo and Juliet. That's her in the photo, with one of her students.

Needless to say, the question upon everyone's lips was, What's a dramaturge? And how do you pronounce it? Urg as in urge, or urg as in urg?

Dramaturgy was an 18th century German idea, although it's an idea that's recently caught on here, as well. Dramaturges traditionally help a company (or theatre) to develop a season of plays, hire the actors and then assist with rehearsals by filling directors concerning the finer points of historical background, etc. Very useful, especially when you're doing Shakespeare. It's the coming thing. There are currently 12 students in the University of Arizona's dramaturgy program.

And its urg as in urg.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Don't you love this photo?
It was taken by our friends Bill and Charlotte at Ten Chimneys, in Wisconsin. I'd have shared it sooner, but it's taken me this long to figure out how to get the photograph from my scanner to the blog. Ah, technology!
I was reading something about how all of our blogs sort of linger on in cyberspace forever -- the concept intrigues me. It's sort of like immortality. And I got to thinking, suppose some former civilization (I mean like, 24,000 years ago) also had computers and blogs, but they got wiped out in the last Ice Age and so we don't even know they existed? But all their blogs are still there, in cyberspace. And suppose one of them popped up on my computer and I somehow figured out how to access the rest of them? (Not bloody likely, given my computer skills!) But wouldn't that be absolutely amazing?
I think it would make a great TV series. The Blog Whisperer.
What will I think of next?
Tune in tomorrow.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dog Psychology 101.
The good news is that I finally found a dog food Bao will eat. It's called Cesar. It comes in little, itty bitty plastic containers covered with colored foil.
The bad news is that it costs $1.19 for three ounces. That's slightly more than the going rate for filet mignon.
Still, he loves it. As soon as he sees the plastic container, he starts salivating. He doesn't get to have it every night, of course. But I must say, it makes my life much easier when we're in Mexico, or travelling, or when I run out of meat and don't feel like making a special trip to the supermarket. Like last night.
I opened Braised Beef with Garden Vegetables in Meaty Juices, spooned it into his dish, and put the dish down in front of him.
To my utter astonishment, he wouldn't touch it.
But you love this! I expostulated.
He gave me a withering look and curled up under the chair.
So do you know what I did? I took his bowl into the kitchen, put the dogfood back into the plastic container, folded the little piece of colored foil back over the top of the container and then brought the whole thing back out and showed it to him. He was out from under the chair like a shot, eyes shining, tail wagging, salivating, begging.
Gobbled it down, right out of the plastic container, in one minute flat.
So here's the thing. Dogs are supposed to "see" with their noses, aren't they? Yet instead of responding to an odor he surely recognizes, Bao hung out until he saw the actual container. What's going on here?
I just don't get it.
Maybe we've visited too many art museums.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Here's something you won't see very often. At least, I certainly hope not. It's my back garden, under two inches of snow.
One January morning, I woke up and there it was. I couldn't believe it. I thought I was dreaming, or hallucinating. I mean, snow in Tucson? This definitely wasn't one of the attractions featured in my brochure!
I haven't been up close and personal with snow for 40 years. And Bao had never experienced it at all. I wondered what he'd make of it.
He was curious. All that white stuff on the pavement. He put one little paw down, yanked it back and gave me a wondering, reproachful look that said, What have you done now?
Then he went back inside. No way was he going out.
You have to go out, I told him. Just for a couple of minutes. Just to lift your leg.
He just sat there, being a Shih Tzu. Finally, I filled a pot with hot water and poured it on the path to melt the snow. Then I dried it with newspapers. (He won't get his feet wet, either) Finally, I managed to coax him to the end of the path, where he did what had to be done and scurried back into the house.
It took two days for the snow to melt.
I think next year we'll spend January in Acapulco.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

We did it! We switched! We're back!

Here's Bao, just back from grooming. He's so gorgeous, when he first comes home all shampooed and brushed. Alas, it only lasts for an hour or so. But right now, as a friend from Michigan said, He looks good enough to eat.

I sort of wish she hadn't said that.

If you're a small dog, and you look good enough to eat here in southern Arizona -- something just might eat you.

It's been a long, cold winter (cold by our standards, anyhow!) and the coyotes are lean and hungry. Not to mention the mountain lions. And forget all that stuff about them being more afraid of us than we are of them. They aren't.

A few weeks ago, I looked out the window and saw a coyote standing on top of the six-foot concrete wall that surrounds my back garden. I couldn't believe my eyes. He was huge. He was enormous. I've never seen one that big. If I'd seen him at the Desert Museum, I'd have said, What a magnificent animal!

Yeah, but not in my backyard.

I stood there at the window, watching -- as a bad novelist might say -- transfixed with horror. Thank God the back door was shut. To my amazement, he leapt down into the garden and had a leisurely drink from the fountain. For several minutes he walked around the yard and patio as if he owned the place. He was utterly and completely fearless. And it was obvious this wasn't his first visit. Finally he jumped back up onto the wall (as easily as a cat) and disappeared.

I was quite horrified. I still am. I'd always thought Bao and I were safe, behind that wall.

A few little dogs have been taken by coyotes this winter, on the jogging trail along the river and even in someone's front yard. They're wild animals, and they're fast. You hear a yelp, but by the time you turn around, there's nothing to see. The coyote is gone. And so is your dog.

Javelinas are a worry, too. They're vegetarians, but they' re the size of pigs and they travel in packs and they have sharp teeth and they hate dogs. And they're aggressive. They'll attack a dog on a leash, just because it's a dog.

I know the animals were here before we were, but even so.

At least, it's still too cold for rattlesnakes!