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?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

We're back on the beach in Mexico for Thanksgiving -- or Turkey Day, as the locals call it.

The sun is shining, the surf is up and restaurants all up and down the coast are roasting turkeys and giving thanks that the American tourists have finally arrived.

Right up until yesterday, it wasn't looking good. Last weekend, there was nobody here. And I mean nobody. Saturday and Sunday, I had the pool to myself. That's unprecedented for a weekend, especially a warm, November weekend. The peddlers on the beach were so forlorn you wanted to cry. One of them told me that he hadn't made a sale in nearly two weeks. (I bought a bracelet from him. It's a very pretty bracelet but I didn't need another bracelet) Another offered me a huge ceramic vase that would have ordinarily cost $35 (when you've been coming here as long as I have, you get to know what the prices are) for only $15. He'd paid $20 for it, but there weren't any customers and he needed money to feed his family. It's scary to think that even beach peddlers can end up over-capitalized.

When the cars started rolling in last night, you could literally watch the worry-lines vanishing from everyone's faces.

Bao and I are about to go downstairs and have Thanksgiving Dinner. Turkey, with all the trimmings. And for the second year running, I didn't have to cook it. Oh, bliss.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We don't usually go out at night, because most of the roads in Tucson aren't lit and I find driving in the dark difficult. (Tucson doesn't have street lights because the sky has to be dark enough for the astronomers at Mt. Kitt to be able to see the stars) Which is all very well for the star gazers, I suppose. But it puts a definite dent in my social life, especially during the winter months when it gets dark early.

Recently we received an invitation to an Intimate Salon and Supper Buffet at which an artist was giving a talk about his work. The event was being held in a private home not all that far from where I live and I thought it sounded really interesting. So we went, even though it meant driving in the dark. As I say, it wasn't very far.

Bao cut a wide swathe, as usual. We wandered around our hosts' home, sipping wine and chatting and admiring the art. Then we were herded out onto the patio where we sat in the dark and watched a slide presentation by Michael Ray Charles who specializes in "graphically styled paintings" which turned out to be the sort of thing you see in comic books. Except that these were very, very large.

Bao slept through this portion of the evening, but he woke up for supper. Bao always wakes up when the food arrives.

The drive home was slow, but happily uneventful. In another month, the days will start getting longer again. I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It never fails. At 5 AM on the first really cold morning we've had, Bao wakes me up with an urgent little bark. His tummy is rumbling and he needs to go out and eat grass. And no, we can't wait until the sun comes up. He needs to go now.

Of course, there isn't any grass. This is Tucson, remember? Pebble mulch and cacti and mesquite. So Bao has to make do with boronia leaves, which he nibbles fussily. It's cold. It's dark. I'm in my nightgown, barefoot, and my feet are freezing. This is not fun. I hear a noise and when I turn around I see two, unblinking yellow eyes staring at me through the gloom. Oh, God. A coyote. Or a mountain lion. I scoop Bao up and race for the door.

I bought special pet grass that you grow in a tray last year, and I grew a whole tray of it but when I actually had grass for him to eat -- of course -- Bao stopped having upset stomachs and the grass died during the summer. I never replanted it. I shall do so, immediately. But it takes four days to sprout.

Meanwhile, what works for an upset, canine tummy? I was thinking of breaking a Tums in half and mashing it up and mixing it with powered suger, but they say you shouldn't give medications meant for people to dogs.

Any suggestions?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Beignets and champagne this morning, on the balcony of our Mexican condo overlooking the Sea of Cortez.

I bought the beignet mix in New Orleans, several years ago. And then I forgot about it and it worked its way to the back of the shelf where it remained until I found it last week when I was cleaning.

I thought beignets were hard to make, but they're not. (Well, not if you use a mix) Just add water, roll out the dough, cut into squares and fry until puffy. And Bao loves beignets. He especially loves licking the leftover powdered sugar off my fingers.

The really big news is that Bao's attitude towards the beach has been totally transformed. He's not afraid of the ocean, anymore. In fact he can hardly wait to get out there, and goes charging ahead of me down the steps, prancing happily out onto the sand. I have to run to keep up with him. This trip, we've walked on the beach every morning and afternoon, nice long walks down at the water's edge. I no longer have to coax and plead and -- best of all -- I don't have to carry him through the tidal pools. Ever since he met Benji, Bao has been a changed dog, as far as the beach is concerned.

Mind you, he still likes the pool. Here he is on his deck chair, the Prince of Sonoran Spa, basking in the warm sun. He loves it here. We both love it here.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Barack Obama said that when the elections were over, he'd buy his kids a dog. I wonder what sort of dog it will be. It would be wonderful if it was a rescued dog. That would send a really good message, don't you think?

Most US presidents have family dogs. George W Bush has two Schnauzers. He had their portrait painted and it's hanging in the AKC Museum of the Dog in St Louis. Someday, Bao's portrait will hang there, too.

I'm hoping our president-elect will support the Animal Bill of Rights.

Yes, there is an Animal Bill of Rights. It's sponsored by the Animal Legal Defence Fund and you can check it out -- and hopefully sign it to show your support -- at

Mind you, it doesn't make animals legal persons. But at least it's a start.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

So who's the leader of our pack?

Bao thinks he is. I think I am. I'm bigger than he is, and size counts. And I almost always get my way. Not always. But almost always.

Mind you, we never come to blows. Or bites. And when either of us compromises, we do so with good grace. We love one another. We live together. We're both old enough to know that neither one of us is perfect. We're happy, and that's enough.

Dogs don't elect their pack leader. One sniff, and they know. This guy has possibilities. That guy is definitely not it. No campaigns. No robot calls. No ballots. No hanging chads. Dogs just know, end of discussion.

That's how we used to do it, too. Not by sniffing bums, but by intuition and gut feeling. That's all finished, now. Instead of campaigners who kiss your baby and shake your hand and let you get a "feel" for them, we've got ads and pollsters and talking heads on CNN and FOX telling us what to think before we've even had a chance to think.

I comfort myself on the eve of this important election with the thought that either of the two main candidates will be better than the incumbent. (Actually, any of the candidates would be better than the incumbent) But I still think we could learn a lot from dogs.