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?

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's Bao's birthday, today. He's 10. I can't believe it -- it seems like only yesterday he was a tiny baby puppy, wobbling around on legs the size of my thumbs and learning to eat solid food by licking pablum off my fingers.

As you can see, we're back in Mexico. It's hot here, but not as hot as it is in Tucson. And there's always a breeze off the ocean.

Bao loves our new place. I'd worried about the built-up bench that runs the length of the balcony, because I was afraid he might be tempted to get up on his hind legs and peer over the railing and maybe tumble off -- which would be a disaster, as we're seven storeys up. But happily, he's shown no interest in doing anything so athletic. He's a wonderfully cautious little dog.

What he does love to do is to lie on the cushions with his nose pointing into the breeze, watching the comings and goings of people on the beach. We sit out there every morning, before we go down to the pool. We're much closer to the beach than we were in the old place -- here, I could stand on my balcony and throw an orange, and it would land on the sand. That's how close we are. Every night we go to sleep with the sound of the sea in our ears.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Can we go for a walk, now?

We spent the weekend in San Diego, doing book-signings at the First Annual Widowhood Convention. The weather was glorious and the hotel -- the Marriot San Diego Hotel and Marina -- was simply fabulous. I usually can't afford to stay at hotels like this, but they were having a half-price special, so we ended up on the ninth floor in a room that overlooked the entire city. Luxury, plus. I've decided that I would definitely enjoy being rich.

Bao wants to be rich, too. Our first lunchtime walk along the waterfront past the yachts and the shops and the restaurants was enough to convince him that it's the other half who really know how to live. He pranced and preened and shot supercilious glances at the other immaculately groomed dogs as if he was visiting royalty. And when it was time for us to go in and get back to work, he sat down and wouldn't budge.

We're not here to mix with high society, I told him. We're here to sell Sea Changes.

Bao remained unconvinced. In the end, I had to pick him up and carry him back inside, while he closed his eyes and pretended it wasn't happening.

But I had to agree with him, being out on the marina was much more fun than hanging out in the Convention Bookstore.

So, can we go for a walk, now?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mexicans sometimes dump their dogs because they're sick, or pregnant, or because they've lost their job and can't afford to feed them. So do Americans. But here in the United States, there are hundreds of charitable organizations ready and willing to step in and rescue unwanted pets. In Mexico -- especially in small towns like Puerto Penasco -- its a different, and sadder story.

Enter Nancy Phelan. Nine years ago, Nancy came to Puerto Penasco to retire and soak up the sun. Instead, she became an animal advocate and founder of the Animal Adoption Center of Rocky Point. She rescues abandoned dogs and cats and finds them homes. At the moment, she's got 20 dogs and 40 cats in residence, and it costs her about $3000 a month just to feed them, not to mention medications for mange and tick fever. She survives on donations.

Here Bao and I are at Giuseppe's, hosting a book signing for Sea Changes. I donated all the profits to the Animal Adoption Center, but although Puerto Penasco is usually packed with Americans on Fourth of July weekend, this year was different. Sunday was Election Day in Mexico, and the State Government bans all alcohol sales for the entire weekend, which definitely put a damper on things as all of the bars and most of the restaurants were closed. Never mind. We'll try again on Thanksgiving -- or Turkey Day, as the Mexicans call it.

Meanwhile, if you want to know more about Nancy and her work, visit her website at

Friday, July 03, 2009

We're resting and relaxing in Mexico.

Or I should say, Bao is resting and relaxing in Mexico. I am locked into a death struggle with Telmex, the Mexican telephone company. I have had an account with Telmex since last November, and when I moved into our new condo, I wanted a wireless internet connection. They made me buy a new telephone, but that was okay. They gave me a Infinitum modem, and an Infinitum installation disk (in Spanish) and a book of instructions (also in Spanish). Facilimente! it says.

Not true. There is nothing facilimente about it. It's fiendishly, frustratingly difficult, and nobody seems to be able to make it work, including several very nice, Spanish-speaking young men. There's a technical suppport number, but nobody on the other end speaks English. You're thinking, What does she expect? It's Mexico. Of course they speak Spanish.

But here's the thing. The United States is an English-speaking country, but if you're a Mexican living in America and you don't speak English, all you have to do is press one (or two) and voila! there's someone to speak to you -- in Spanish.

It's not fair.

But the sun is shining and the sea is blue. And sooner or later, it will get sorted. Happy Fourth of July, everybody!