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?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bao and Joey, the new guy in the neighborhood. Joey is just a puppy.

It seems only yesterday that Bao was a puppy, too. Chasing a ping pong ball (the tennis ball my neighbor gave us was bigger than he was, and frightened him) his proud excitement when he was finally able to navigate the back steps. His first bone. His little puppy teeth. It's hard to believe that in just a few weeks, Bao will be nine years old.

He was so tiny, at first! I remember I used to wake up at night and touch him, just to make sure he was still breathing. I found myself doing that again, last night. Touching him with the tips of my fingers as he slept, very gently. Just making sure he was okay.

I can't imagine life without Bao, so I try very hard not to think the unthinkable.

Dogs remember and anticipate, too. But mostly -- and unlike us -- they live in the present moment. It was cooler than usual this morning, and Bao bounced happily out the door for his morning walk, sniffing and exploring, enjoying his neighbors and his neighborhood. The Rainbow Bridge was the furthest thing from his mind. And rightly so. The past is gone and the future is uncertain. But the present is what we experience. And the present is now.

I guess we could all learn a thing or two from dogs.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nora Ephron feels bad about her neck.

I feel bad about the polar bear that swam all the way to Iceland and got shot. (And I also feel bad about my neck)

Bao doesn't feel bad about anything. Perhaps that's the advantage of living in the moment, which dogs supposedly do. Most of Bao's moments are good moments, although it seems to me that he sleeps through most of his life.

Dogs do sleep a lot. I once attended a talk at a dream seminar at which a Tibetan monk explained that sleep -- and dreaming -- is actually our way of practicing for the moment of our transcendence to a higher plane. He also suggested that certain animals may have already attained a higher plane than human beings.

Shih Tzus were bred by Tibetan monks to sleep in the sleeves of their gowns and keep them warm while they meditated. But you already knew that, didn't you?

Bao is asleep at my feet. He's having a dream. It's a nice dream. His tail is wagging.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bao on the beach. He's got a new trick -- he barks at the waves, and they recede. Of course, it only works when the tide is going out, but he doesn't know that, yet.

I was awake before dawn this morning, and when I went out on my balcony a full moon hung low in the night sky, shining down on the sea and creating a silvery path of light that seemed to lead to some magical place across the water. Just above the moon, there was a pulsating spot of light and at first I thought it was a UFO. Actually, it was a star.

I stood there with the cool, morning breeze on my face, wishing I had someone to share this moment with. Bao was still asleep. He's a wonderful companion, but landscapes and vistas leave him cold.

Even so, when I brought my coffee and croissants back to bed (we always have breakfast in bed) I told him about the moon, shining upon the quiet sea. It was so beautiful, I said. You really don't know what you're missing.

Bao looked at me, thumped his tail twice, licked his balls and went back to sleep.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Look closely. Can you find the dog on the beach towel in the shade?

It's just so hot in Tucson at this time of year. It's even too hot for the rattlesnakes. You can't really go for a walk outside, except at dawn and dusk. And then the mosquitos bite you.

It's hot here in Puerto Penasco, too -- but not as hot as it is in Tucson. And there's a lovely breeze off the sea. And there's humidity. I like the humidity. My wrinkles disappear, and my heels stop cracking. And of course, there's the constant, soothing sound of the sea. I sleep like a baby when I'm here. We both do.

Now that I've got Bao walking on the beach at low tide, the next project is to somehow persuade him that it's not really necessary for him to follow me around the swimming pool when I swim. He'd be much more comfortable just lying in the shade, but he insists on trotting along in the hot sun, round and round the perimeter of the pool. It doesn't help that everyone thinks this is adorable. They say things like, Look at that sweet little dog following that woman when she swims! And Bao hears them, and quells with pride.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Why would anyone write a "fictional" detailed, first-person account of how he tortured and killed his dog and post it on an internet site?

The author uses the psuedonym, Shrinkboy. The site advertises itself as a cyberspace where legitimate authors, agents and publishers hang out and network. They even sponser a Writers Conference. It looked interesting, so I signed up for a Trial Membership. When I got my password, I logged on and began exploring. I clicked on Writing Excerpts, because I wanted to see what sorts of things other writers were posting.

I still can't believe it. It was worse than pornography. It is absolutely the worst thing I have ever read. It was not literature. It was not art. It was sick, and disgusting and obscene. It literally gave me nightmares. I tossed and turned all night, until Bao finally jumped down off the bed and slept on the floor.

You have to be a member before you can access the site, which I suppose is how they get away with it. In case you're wondering, the site is called Backspace, and Shrinkboy's opus is titled, Sheba Was a Good Dog. Avoid it, unless you've got a twisted mind and a very strong stomach. Needless to say, I've cancelled my membership. I just don't need this kind of ugliness in my life. Nobody does.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Did you see the YouTube video of the American Marine who threw a helpless puppy off a cliff in Iraq and then laughed about it with his friends?

The Marine who threw the puppy to its death was David Motari. Despicable doesn't begin to describe him.

But what about the rest of them? What about the one who snickered? What about the creep who was filming this horror? And most frightening of all, What kind of morally depraved individual would post something like this on YouTube?

Apparently, Motari and another Marine, Crismarvin Banez Encarnacion, have received something called "unspecified non-judicial punishment" -- what is that, do you supppose? KP duty?

Whether or not anything happened to the other marines who were involved in this awful piece of cruelty is not clear. Apparently, they're protected by Privacy Laws. Pity there weren't any laws to protect the puppy.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Yikes! What are these things? And where did they come from? They weren't here when we left.

It's the drought, my gardener says. All over Tucson, the Desert Spoons are shooting spikes.

The spikes are huge, over ten feet high. If we'd been here, we could have literally watched them grow. (That would have been scary) It's all very Day of the Triffids. When the wind blows the spikes wave back and forth, terrifying Bao.

They'll eventually flower, and go to seed. So even if the parent plants don't survive, their offspring will be able to wait around until it rains. Which is more than I can say for us. Arizona is not well-placed to survive global warming. Our aquifiers are already tapped out, fuel prices are soaring and let's face it -- southern Arizona without air conditioning is not an option, unless you're a rattlesnake.

People are still arguing about global warming. That seems silly. It's happened before, and it'll happen again. Personally, I think it would make more sense to focus on what we're going to do and how we're going to cope, rather than how to stop it. I don't think we can stop it, just as we can't stop Yellowstone from erupting. And that's happened before, too.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

One last, wonderful lunch at Casa Guadalajara in Old Town.

This is a tradition. We always come here when we visit San Diego. There's this great little cluster of shops called Bazaar Del Mundo (just across the street from Old Town proper) where I always find things I'd never find anywhere else in the world.

Casa Guadalajara is supposedly the oldest restaurant in San Diego, and it's always packed. Even on a Monday. Bao likes lying on the tiles in the cool, shaded patio and watching the birds playing in the fountain. I like the Margaritas -- the Medium (I've never been game to tackle the Large) comes in a glass big enough to allow a hamster to swim laps. We had the special, which was chicken avocado enchiladas. Bao ate the chicken, and I ate everything else. Then we went back to the hotel and took a nap. I never used to take naps. I guess I'm getting old. We're both getting old.

But as my aunt used to say, the alternative to getting old is unacceptable.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Lunch at Beaumont's in La Jolla.

This was absolutely fabulous, and all the more so for being unplanned. My general rule of thumb when I want a really nice lunch is to stroll along the main shopping street of whatever town I'm in and pick the place that looks busiest. So that's what we did. In a suburb like La Jolla, it's hard to go wrong.

But we really lucked out, because it turns out Beaumont's is only open for lunch on weekends. (Yesterday was Sunday) The setting was perfect. Blue sky, sunshine, flowers, umbrellas -- well, you can see for yourself. And everyone made a fuss over Bao, which he loves.

The food was exquisite. We shared an intriguing variation of Eggs Benedict, two perfectly poached eggs served on a herbed biscuit rather than an English muffin with a cilantro flavored hollandaise sauce and thinly sliced steak and avocado instead of the usual ham. The combination of textures and flavors was culinary bliss. Chefs often overdo the cilantro, but not this time. It was just totally perfect. And the garnish of fresh pineapple and watermelon wedges provided the ideal finish.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Bao, under the table.

I'd heard about the wonderful calamari salad at Mi Piace on Coronado Avenue in Old Pasadena, so that's where we had lunch yesterday. It was hot and crowded outside, so we were seated in the bar area, which was deserted. We were the only ones there. I sat down on the banquette and Bao curled up next to me.

Suddenly, this huge guy in black with a shaved head descended upon us, brandishing a napkin. "That dog cannot be on the furniture! I can't allow that, not in my place. It's dirty! I have customers! You can't expect people to sit in dirt!"

Bao jumped down. This guy then proceeded to ostentatiously scrub the red vinyl "upholstery" up and down the entire length of the banquette with his napkin. It was a performance worthy of an Oscar. Finally, he went back behind the bar.

He was in the right, of course. But all the other LA restaurants have been so welcoming that Bao -- and I -- got careless. Still, he didn't have to be so nasty. And the minute-long charade of "cleaning" the furnture was unnecessary. I mean, I was the only customer in the room. Anyhow, we'll be more careful in the future.

And I have to tell you, the calamari salad was delicious, the best I've had anywhere. So I'd definitely recommend Mi Piace, and I'd definitely go back. Just not to the bar.