Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL

What I’ve Learned About Personal Injuries


So last week, I told you about my recent accident.  My neck was stiff, but it was going to get better on it’s own right?  Not right!

Finally the Pros Take Over

So, I called up The Injury Clinic of Dallas, the chiropractor in Richardson who I settled on after the extended game of referrals.  I sat in the waiting room for a while and then went back to an examination room.  On that particular day I was seen by Dr. Karimi.  He asked me a lot of questions and then poked and prodded around on my neck, shoulders, hands and arms.

Then we had the talk – the one where he explained why I needed an attorney.  I knew that wasn’t going to go over well at my house.  You can say an attorney won’t cost me anything all you want to, but if at the end of the day he takes a third of my insurance settlement, then that’s a third of my insurance settlement I won’t see.

Still, I went home and explained it all to Bill and gave him the cards of the attorneys which Injury Clinic of Dallas referred.  Bill did some research, called a few attorneys and then put it on the back burner.

Meanwhile, I needed an x-ray and had a week of treatments scheduled.  There were a few phone calls between the doctor’s office and Bill about the attorney situation, but for the time being we were able to get what I needed without engaging the services of a lawyer.

Then We Got the X-Rays

When I showed up for my second week of treatments I found out what the x-ray showed.  The bones in your neck are supposed to be in a nice “S” curve.  Mine looked as if the bones had been replaced by a ruler.  Not good.  There was also the matter of the nerve damage which hadn’t even been addressed, yet.

I got the attorney lecture again, but this time by Dr. Bahadori herself.  She owns the clinic and on that day she was the one to administer my treatment.  Before she was through with me I was convinced I needed an attorney, but that was not the same as Bill being convinced.

I came home with a new set of cards and gave it another try.  This time Bill had me set up a couple of appointments.  We had the first appointment the next morning.  Of course, the rain was coming down in buckets and the last thing we wanted to do was drive over to an attorney’s office, but we did it.

Then We Talked to the Attorney

Here’s the important part and it all comes down to money.  The insurance people don’t like pay as you go.  They want you to hand them a neat little package that says you are 100% cured and won’t be bothering them again.  In fact, that’s their policy – send us the bill when you’re through and then we’ll talk.  They hope you’ll want to handle it all yourself for any or all of these reasons:

  • Maybe you’ll think it’s all to much of a hassle and put up with that stiff neck.
  • Maybe you’ll try to handle it yourself and you’ll believe them when they say a certain test or treatment is not necessary.
  • Maybe you’re not so good at all that paperwork and in the end you’ll end up filing for less than it really cost you – or not file at all.
  • Maybe you won’t find out about all the types of things you can be reimbursed for – especially future consequences that can be documented.
  • Maybe you’re not that good of a negotiator and when in the end they offer you $XXXX to settle, you’ll just take it.

Meanwhile, all the people who are providing x-rays, physical therapy and other care need to get paid for their services.  They understand the insurance company is supposed to cover all the expenses, but they also know the insurance company isn’t going to fork over a penny until they know how much the total bill will be.

See, getting your car fixed or replaced is the easy part.  Having your car in the shop for a few weeks with a rental car in the meantime or a nice fat check for a totaled car might be expensive for the insurance company, but it’s all over in a matter of weeks and there is a finite amount of money involved.  Getting your body fixed isn’t that simple.

The medical people have no way to know exactly how much of an impact your injury will have on you or how long it will take to fix it or even if they’ll ever be able to fix it completely.  For this relatively minor injury that I have suffered, I could be in treatment for a year and could be left with arthritis or some other complaint that will be with me forever.  Exactly how much money will arthritis treatments cost for the rest of my life?  Good question!

So what did I do?  Come back next week and I’ll tell you.


What I’ve Learned About Crashes



It should have been no big deal.  The kid did something stupid and banged up my car.  It felt like I had somehow bumped my head and my neck was stiff.  I was shook up more than anything else, but  I told my husband that I should go have my neck checked out, just in case.  He said he didn’t think it was necessary.  He put me in my big easy chair and gave me some ibuprofen.

Go Check It Out!

If you are ever in a wreck and have the slightest touch of pain, go have it checked out immediately.  I think because Bill was able to drive my car home, he had the impression the wreck wasn’t that big of a deal.  I wasn’t bleeding and nothing was broken, so how bad could it be.  Right?

Besides, nothing is more pathetic than folks who try to take advantage of other people.  They get in a little fender bender and jump out of the car holding their neck.  We are not those people.  Sure my neck was stiff, but Bill assured me it would get better, so I just gritted my teeth and waited for that to happen.

The next couple of days, my neck really hurt and I kept dropping things.  Now I am a bit of a klutz, but this wasn’t your run of the mill carelessness.  I’m standing in the kitchen holding a stack of dinner plates firmly with both hands and the next thing I know they are in a million pieces on the counter.  Then there was the plastic tumbler full of soda – the same tumbler I carry around all day long every day.  I didn’t hit it with my elbow.  My hands weren’t greasy.  I didn’t miss the edge of the counter.  I picked it up and then it was on the floor.

Medicine Ain’t What It Used To Be

After the first few days, Bill was right, my neck did seem to feel a little better.  Not normal, but better.  Certainly I was on the road to recovery – wasn’t I?  Some days were better than others.  Some days it was mainly a dull ache.  On other days I’d have a stab of pain that would almost buckle my knees.  But certainly I was getting better, surely I was getting better, it made sense that I should be getting better.

I wasn’t getting better.  I wasn’t suffering as dramatically as I had the first few days, but my neck and shoulders hurt.  So then I had to try and get medical attention.  First I called my doctor.  She wouldn’t even see me.  She doesn’t do car wrecks, but she gave me a number to call.

I looked the clinic up and it was on the other side of town.  The other side of town where I used to live.  The other side of town where my doctor has her office.  The other side of town that I didn’t want to commute back and forth to for what I thought might be a couple of weeks of physical therapy.

So, I called a clinic of the same sort on my side of town.  After several days and a game of phone tag with me doing all the tagging, they said I’d have to get a doctor’s referral and they didn’t do my doctor.  What was I supposed to do now?

So I called my doctor again and asked if they had anybody with more locations.  She gave me the number of a medical group that had offices “all over Dallas.”  Her idea of “all over Dallas” and my idea of “all over Dallas” were obviously very different.  Her idea of “all over Dallas” didn’t make it over to my side of Central Expressway.  So much for the whole “all over thing.”

I’ve run out of time today, but the fun is just starting, so please come back next week.  Then we can talk about x-rays, MRI’s and attorneys.


DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Rockwall, Shopping, TRAVEL

Rockwall Needs a Trader Joe’s

Welcome to Dallas!


It happens more frequently than I want to admit.  I go to an event and come home the chairman of something.  Poor Bill!  That usually translates into imposing on him for something.  He rarely gets to just show up and enjoy anything.  Instead he ends up sitting at a table registering people, bringing an ice chest of iced beverages or staying afterwards to clean up.  It’s not as bad as it used to be, but it still happens.

Trader Joe’s Call-to-Action Meeting

So, my weekly Wednesday Bible Study was over.  We were gathering up our things to leave when a new member of the group asked me if I knew about Trader Joe’s?  Did I ever?  We discovered it when we lived in California, had been thrilled when they moved to Dallas and were loathe to leave it to move out here in the boonies.

Come to find out there was a community meeting that evening about getting Trader Joe’s to come to our area.  I assumed there would be a representative from the company there to test community’s interest, so I promised to go.  Instead, there were a few Rockwall city and county officials and twenty-five or so citizens.

One of the officials got up.  First, he explained the criteria most companies used to choose new locations and why we fell short of most companies prerequisites.  Then he talked about a development board that went after industrial-type companies to boost our economy and then explained why Trader Joe’s did not qualify for that program.  Finally, he let it be known that everyone was well aware there was a groundswell of interest in having a Trader Joe’s in the area, but there really wasn’t anything the city or county could or would do about it.

During his talk the man referred several times to the four or five items Trader Joe’s had on their list of requirements, but he never mentioned exactly what they were, how many we met and how far away we were from meeting the rest.  So I asked. He said he’d get us the information, but we haven’t seen it yet.

Then the meeting continued and we found out City of Rockwall Council Member Scott Milder and his wife Leslie had taken our interest a little further than the other gentleman.  They’d talked to a Trader Joe’s store manager and found out there were indeed criteria the company had for new locations (which the store manager didn’t know) but because of the company’s culture they paid a lot of attention to customer feedback – like location requests on their website, subscription addresses on their Fearless Flyer and social media.

The next thing  I know they are asking for someone to represent the community in our efforts to get the grocery chain to our area – the term they used was “point person.”  The room was suddenly very quiet.  Something told me the silence wasn’t going to go away and I also knew few in the room had as much experience with social media and organizing volunteers as I had.  I glanced at my husband to see what he thought and then raised my hand.  I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, but Trader Joe wasn’t going to die from neglect on my watch.

My 15 Seconds of Fame
My 15 Seconds of Fame

Channel 8 News 

After the meeting I handed out my cards to anyone who wanted one and collected the list of attendees from Bethany Browning, the Community Relations Manager for the City of Rockwall.  I was suddenly in charge, but I was quite unsure exactly what that meant.  The rest of my week was very busy and the next time I even thought about Trader Joe’s was the following Tuesday.

My first call that morning was from Bethany.  Sebastian Robertson from Channel 8 News was coming out to talk to Scott about the Trader Joe’s meeting and the Facebook page.  Bethany thought it would be good to have a representative from the community there, so she called me.  My other choice for the morning was cleaning house, so I went to City Hall.

When he arrived, Sebastian took Scott outside and interviewed him.  The process took about twenty minutes and they pretty much covered everything that needed to be covered.  I thought I’d missed my fifteen seconds of fame.  We walked back into the building and into an office.  Sebastian sat me down and set up the camera.  I was about to be on TV, but I hadn’t combed my windblown hair or touched up my dry-as-a-desert lips.

The results of the interview are in this video: WFAA Channel 8 News.  I had been involved in the project for less than a week and I hadn’t done much of anything except show up for a meeting and hang out at city hall.  Still Sebastian made a star out of me, in spite of my windblown appearance.

Getting My Ducks in a Row

In the days since the interview I’ve been getting organized.  I sent out a few emails and posted some notices on social media sites.  That, along with Channel 8’s report has caused a flurry of activity on our Facebook page.  The page has gotten about a thousand likes since the meeting in early February.  The site had only gotten 2300 likes in the year and a half it has been up, so I’d call that progress.

Please like our Facebook Page.  You don’t have to be from the area and no salesman will call.  If you do live in the area, then check out our new webpage.  The site gives you a list of things you can do to help the cause and you can subscribe to stay abreast of developments.  If you’d like to really get involved, just let me know.  I’m sure I can find something for you to do!

I’m getting more organized every day, but I’m still making it up as I go.  If we get that Trader Joe’s in Rockwall County, I’ll let you know.


Some Final Words


I didn’t deserve a dog as wonderful as Precious.  I always felt she’d gotten cheated in the Mommy department.  Some dogs spend their lives perfectly groomed, lolling around in a sea of toys, wearing the latest in doggie fashion.  Precious didn’t seem to care about any of that.  She hated grooming, was only interested in her stuffed tiger and barely tolerated it when I insisted she wear her sweater out in the cold.  I refused to feed her tablescraps and her favorite treat was Beggin’ Strips, not some exotic, expensive treat from a specialty boutique.

A Series of Mishaps

When you screw up with people you can apologize.  That doesn’t work with dogs.  Bill and I nearly killed her with soap the first month we had her.  Who knows how many times we stepped on her?  When I would try to trim her up to avoid having to take her to the groomer, more than once I ended up cutting more than her hair.  Talk about unconditional love!  I nearly died every time she experienced one of these unintentional events, but she would immediately shrug it off and wag her tail as if to say, “It’s OK Mom.”  I’ve never understood how anyone could abuse a dog on purpose.

Then there was the day I left her outside all by herself.  My husband and I stepped out onto the driveway at the back of a rental house for a few moments.  We didn’t realize she had followed us out into the garage and onto the driveway.  Then as we discussed whatever had taken us out there in the first place she must have roamed around a corner.  Bill and I returned into the house none the wiser that she was outside.

The driveway was at the back of the house and when we closed the garage behind us, there was no access to house or the backyard on one side.  The fence on the other side of the house had fallen down before we even moved in and even though it angered me the landlord didn’t repair it during the entire twelve months we lived there, thank goodness the fence was down that day.

We had not lived there very long and as far as I know, Precious had never circumvented the entire house.  Nonetheless, she trotted around the house, made her way to the front porch and scratched on the door.  At first I thought it was just someone attaching a flyer to the front door and kept reading the textbook I was studying.  When it continued, I sneaked over to the door to see if I could see the perpetrator.  I couldn’t see anyone from the spyhole, so I sat back down, but the sound came again.  I thought to myself, “That sounds like Precious when she wants to get on the other side of a door.”

I was off the sofa and ripping open the door before I had time to think about it.  I grabbed her up in the biggest hug she’d ever gotten.  I kept saying into her fur, “Oh you precious, sweet, wonderful thing.  Thank you, thank you!”  While I tried to thank her for her stubborn love, I also prayed a million prayers of thanksgiving.

At first I couldn’t even figure out how she got out.  We made an inspection of the fence-line and even though there were a couple of spots where rabbits had chewed on the bottom of the fence, none of them was large enough for Precious to squeeze through.  When Bill suggested she’d followed us out to the driveway I was incredulous.  The sun had set in the interim.  I knew I was very lucky she had found her way to the front door, rather than wandering off like so many dogs would have done.

Her Final Days  

Precious had a bad spell a few years back.  Bill was certain then her days were numbered, but she came back from it.  Never quite as spunky and brave as she had once been, but still just as dear.  When we moved away from our Squaw Valley house and into another rental she didn’t make the transition as smoothly as she had during our other moves.  When when we moved to Heath, I don’t think she ever considered it home, but that’s where we were, so she made the best of it.

Then one day she didn’t want her food.  I tried everything over the next few weeks trying to get her to eat something, anything.  The vet didn’t have much to offer, but I called him from time to time, anyway.  I wore out the folks at Petco trying to figure out something she would eat.  For awhile she’d eat chicken, but she started having bad diarrhea, so I added rice.  That worked a few times, but only for a day or so.  Then she’d take a few nibbles of her old dry food mixed with a senior formula the guys at Petco told me to try.

The day came when she refused water.  She was so weak she couldn’t stand on her own.  She didn’t seem to be in any pain or acute discomfort, so I went about my business, but made it part of my business to never have her out of sight for more than a moment or two.  For most of the day, I’d catch her big dark eyes following me.  When I said a tearful goodnight to her, I thought she might not make it until morning.

But she did.  She was waiting for me when I got up.  She seemed to be in an uncomfortable position so I moved her around until she seemed more easy.  Not knowing how the day would go, I went ahead and put in an hour on my stationary bike, while I did my daily Bible study.  Then I decided to spend some time with her.  Though I didn’t know whether the end was days or minutes away, I thought this quiet time, when Bill was still sleeping, was a special gift.

I wrapped her in a towel and grabbed up her beloved stuffed tiger.  The three of us sat there on the sofa for an hour and a half.  From time to time I would re-position her sweet body, trying to make her breathing as easy as I could.  There didn’t seem to be any part of her that was painful, just a difficulty breathing.  It was a familiar feeling, one I’d had before.  I’d been with my favorite aunt, my dad and my mom as they struggled to breathe in their last days.  The love I felt for that tiny furry body was no less than what I’d felt for the humans I lost.

Precious was waiting for one more thing.  I might have been her favorite, but she also loved Bill.  When he came out of the bedroom, I told him we were near the end and that he should probably call the vet.  He thought he wanted to have a cup of coffee first, but then he came over and looked into those sweet eyes.  He immediately got on the phone, but she was gone before he could explain why he had called.

All that was left was a few logistics.  Now we were a one pet family.  The cat was confused by the changes and still seems to wonder sometimes where Precious might be. The hole in my heart is mending, but this scar, like the others,will never go away.  My love for Precious was all out of proportion, but only a fraction of what she had for me – and I will never understand why.


Adventures in the Desert with Precious

One of the Last Days in Pismo Beach
One of the Last Days in Pismo Beach


One of the happiest days of my life was the one on which we decided to move back to Texas.  As it turned out, the move was one of the toughest I had to make, not that I had any regrets.  The whole thing was just a logistical nightmare.  When I finally got back to Texas, and had moved into the rent house I called home for a year, I sent out an email to my friends, to share what happened during the move.  The email was over 5000 words long.  I’ll just touch on the highlights here.

What Do You Mean You Can’t Fit It All into the Truck?

BPS01052016_0006Bill decided, for our return to Texas, he’d move us in a rental truck and he’d tow his car behind him. How hard could it be, right?  HA!  Here’s a few highlights:

  • When the loading crew came to load, they couldn’t get everything into the truck – and of course, they figured that out after they’d loaded all the non-essentials.  Resolving this miscalculation made us a day late with our departure and Bill had to be on the plane to his new assignment, at a very specific time.
  • At the first stop for gas, Bill wrapped the truck and trailer around the gas pump.  To complicate matters, filling the tank with gas was almost impossible.  The automatic shut off would kick in before he could get all the gas he needed.  He never did figure that out and when we returned the truck he had to have an employee of the truck rental company come with him to fill up the truck.
  • Then there was the day we believed a sign that said we’d arrive at a truck stop about 75 miles down the road.  NOT!  Bill pulled into a station on fumes, much further down the road, and nearly had a heart attack at the price of the gas.

Meanwhile, Precious was having a Great Time

Before we experienced the joy of leaving a day late, I had reservations at our first stop for a motel which accepted pets.  Unsure of how far we would get when we finally did leave, I didn’t make any reservations.  At the end of the day, Bill was exhausted from driving the truck and sent me ahead to find accommodations with a parking lot large enough to park the truck.  I chose a Holiday Inn, but I didn’t see a sign about their pet policy.  Bill and I had been discussing the motels on the phone, as I drove along in my search.  He told me not to mention the pets.  Just go see if they had any vacancy.  We’d cross the pet bridge after that.

I parked my car in front of the hotel and Precious peered through the window as I entered.  I expected someone to yell at me, “Get that dog out of here!”  Thankfully, you couldn’t see her through the hotel’s tinted doors and the Holiday Inn had a vacancy.  By phone, I guided Bill into the parking lot.  Then we sneaked in the pets.  I carried Precious wrapped into a jacket.  She thought it was a fun game.  Bill was in charge of the cat.

I fed Precious, smuggled her back out for her potty break and then back into our room.  The next morning we crept out for her morning potty break.  That’s when I saw a guy with a big bulldog on a leash walk right past the hotel clerk at the reception desk.  That’s when I figured out pets were welcome.  I laughed until I cried.  It wasn’t the first or last time on that trip.

Rain in the Desert

To make everything more interesting, we were almost washed off the road as we drove through the desert.  It’s sunny about 80% of the time in Albuquerque and during most of the other 20% of days, it’s snowing.  We went through on one of the few days of rain and I’m telling you it came a gully washer.  I was all for stopping, but Bill was determined to get to Tucumcari that evening.

There was only one problem.  His windshield wipers didn’t work very well and he couldn’t see the signs.  So we put our phones on speaker, he took the lead and I talked him through the city, telling him what lanes he needed to be in.  It was a white-knuckle experience.

As I drove along straining to see the signs ahead of Bill, my mind wandered to my traveling companion.  I’d heard somewhere that animals could sense danger.  I imagined her quaking next me and quickly glanced over to see if she was alright.  To my amazement she was sleeping soundly.  It was the comic relief I needed.  Later a friend told me it was natural for Precious to be sleeping, because she  could sense no danger as long as she knew her mommy was in charge.

Touch & Go in Tucumcari

The rain ended, but the white knuckles did not.  Just about the time we got out of the storm clouds, the sun set in a glorious display.  A few miles down the road we hit a construction zone that made the Albuquerque experience look like a kiddie ride.  I have no idea how 18-wheelers made it down that road, because there was a concrete barrier on one side of the lane and a huge drop-off on the other.  I was having trouble keeping my Jeep on track. I could only imagine what Bill was going through.  At least it was a straight shot and I prayed my guts out.

When we got to Tucumcari we were spent.  It was the middle of the night, but there was no room at the inn – any inn.  Bill parked the truck and trailer in a residential neighborhood and we went looking for a place to stay.  We finally found a rat trap in which to grab a few hours of sleep.  We recovered the truck and left it across the street from the rat trap.  I asked Bill if the alarm was set and he said he didn’t care.

The next morning we figured out just what a dump we’d landed in.  Precious was as happy and carefree as she always was, but the same could not be said for the cat.  That cat hated being in her carrier and hated even more riding in a vehicle.  We knew things were bad when she zipped into the carrier the second Bill opened the door.

We made it to Dallas that day and the trek was over.  I still needed to find a home to live in while Bill completed a year-long assignment overseas, but our pets had made it across the country in one piece.  I can’t say the same for the truck, but that’s another story for another day.




Precious on the Central Coast



Moving to the Central Coast of California had been Bill’s idea and while I was glad to oblige him his dream, I was never really happy there.  Oh, I had some happy times and made some great friends, but Texas was home.  I frequently say that getting Precious was the best thing to happen to me while I was in California.

When it all got to be too much, I’d take Precious on a drive to Moonstone Beach in Cambria.  There, with the wind blowing my hair and the sound of the surf erasing all other sounds, I’d indulge in a pity party of major proportions.  For awhile, Precious would be content to lay on the bench next to me or sniff about in the sand, but eventually she’d let me know she was ready to start walking.  We’d stroll along the boardwalk and somehow the smell of the sea and the beauty of nature all around me would let me know I was going to make it.  Some of Precious’ joy at being alive would wear off on me.

My Central Coast Dog 

The Central Coast of California was a perfect place for Precious.  She enjoyed the adventure of climbing the rocks along the jagged coastline with us.  She would never run into the surf like other dogs did, but loved following along on a sandy beach.  The weather was always on the cool side, so pretty much wherever we went we could take her along, because all we had to do was crack the window a little and she would be fine in the car.

Even though she was fine in the car, we didn’t leave her there unless there were no other choice.  In California, many restaurants allowed dogs on the patio long before Texas establishments ever dreamed of it.  Frequently, when the restaurant didn’t have a patio we’d secure Precious to something near the entrance and keep an eye on her from inside.

Then Precious would delegate herself as the official greeter.  She’d lay on the walk outside the door until she saw someone head her way.  Then she would haul herself to her feet and do the welcome dance I loved so much.  Invariably, the people headed into the restaurant would stop and pet her.  Very occasionally, Precious would not rise on someone’s approach.  She seemed to vanish into the sidewalk as they passed.  I’d make note of these people.  I wanted to be sure I didn’t run into them in a dark alley or do business with them.

Silky’s Co-conspirator

"Look what we did for you Mom!"
“Look what we did for you Mom!”

We had a cat named Mish-Mish when we brought Precious home.  Mish-Mish was getting older and we’d been shopping for a kitten to perk him up when Bill fell in love with Precious.  Shortly after Precious moved in, Mish-Mish left.  This was an indoor cat that abhorred the out of doors.  Then one day he just disappeared.  We’ve developed many theories about it, among them that he left in a pique of jealousy, but we never saw a trace of him after that; even though we scoured the neighborhood for days, calling his name and rattling the treat jar.

Soon afterwards we got a little lavender point Siamese kitten.  Bill called him Silky, but I insisted his name was Criminal Cat.  You would have thought we bought the cat for Precious rather than for us.  They were fast friends.  I was just hoping Precious wouldn’t pick up Silky’s criminal tendencies.  I had dead rats delivered to my door and the cat thought nothing of mine was sacred.

One of Silky’s favorite tricks was to knock my things to the floor and among his most frequent objects of disdain were scrapbooking supplies.  See, once something was on the floor, Precious would oblige him by chewing it a little or at the very least licking it.  You really couldn’t discipline Precious, because it was down on the floor, her territory.  In the picture, Silky had raided the bathroom and destroyed the toilet paper roll, but as soon as we arrived home, Precious urged us to come see what they had done.

Other Critters

We were living out in Los Osos when we first got Precious and it was a very rural area.  Our house was built around a courtyard with a gate, so we turned it into Precious’ playroom.  We kept her food and water out there and she made our lives easy by using the flower beds as her private bathroom.

Then one night we were wakened by frantic barking.  Bill ran to the courtyard and I followed him, turning on lights along the way.  Bill didn’t see what caused the commotion, but he heard the sound of something climbing through a grated opening in the courtyard’s brick fence.  Then a pair of raccoon peered at us through the gate.

That night we brought Precious in with her food and water and shut down the doggie door.  As I held the sweet dog it seemed her heart was beating out of her chest.  The next morning we boarded up the break in the brick wall and limited Precious access to her playroom with doggie fencing.  We were taking no chances with out beloved pet.

Precious and the Golden Girls  

Precious was thrilled when the doorbell rang.  As if she were hearing something I was unable to hear, she’d start barking frantically as soon as it went off, eager to perform her welcome dance for whoever was on the other side of the door.  Watching an episode of the Golden Girls in the Pismo Beach house we discovered their doorbell sounded just like ours and Precious had no way of differentiating between them.

We developed the habit of watching the Golden Girls for the pure pleasure of observing Precious.  She’d be sleeping between us on the couch when the Golden Girls would get a visitor.  Precious would jump and bark, letting me know I was supposed to answer the door.  She had no idea why Bill and I erupted into howls of laughter.  Eventually, she’d figure out no one was coming in and she would go back to sleep – just about the time the Golden Girls’ doorbell would ring again.  It was a treat we enjoyed for a long time.  The reruns ended before the fun did.

In the years to come, Precious lost her ability to hear.  I hated that she could no longer enjoy the frantic joy she felt when the doorbell rang, but most of all I missed her obvious pleasure at the sound of my voice.  I still spent a portion of each day assuring her that she was the most wonderful dog on the face of the earth and telling her how much her mommy loved her.

I hope you’re enjoying these memories of my darling Shih Tzu.  I’ll only force a few more on you.  Come back next week and find out about her move to Texas.



Mom’s Number One

Dont miss that bit of white in the lower left hand corner
Morning Coffee – Don’t miss that bit of white in the lower left hand corner


It might have been Bill who decided to save Precious from the pet store, but it was me she gave her whole heart to.  She liked Bill well enough, but she didn’t hide who she liked best.

Post-Obedience School Behavior

Until we went to Obedience School, there was no doubt about it. Precious had been in charge.  Precious was never the sort of dog one would call well-disciplined, but after the classes, things were a little less chaotic.

At obedience school she learned good behavior was rewarded with a treat and unwanted behavior was disciplined.  Discipline at our house was mostly a firm talking to and occasionally a little (very little) swat at her butt.  She figured out she could reward me by grinning and wagging her tail when she saw me.  She was generous with her rewards to Boss #1.  Then she decided a little piss on Bill’s shoe was an effective way to show him he wasn’t Boss #2 – she wanted that position.

For several weeks after the class, our otherwise perfect dog would pee on Bill every time he came home from work.  No amount of discipline would deter her.  The firm talking turned into screaming and the swats on the butt got harder, but so did her determination to show Bill his place in the family hierarchy.

This wasn’t a funny little situation.  Bill was seriously considering de-dogging our family.  It wasn’t clear what he thought that meant.  You can’t go back to a pet store almost a year later and say ‘no thanks,’ but he wasn’t going to spend the rest of his life being peed on by a white ball of fluff – no matter how cute she was.

Saved in the Nick of Time

Then I saw a blurb in the newspaper.  Some guy claimed to be a dog expert and offered free advice.  This was back before the phenomena of Google.  Bill called him and apparently Precious’ behavior was not all that rare.  Once a dog figured out they weren’t the boss, they tried to be a boss over someone.  I taught Bill the basic commands I had learned at school and we shared the feeding ritual for awhile.

Almost immediately the peeing problem was solved, but Precious continued to show her favoritism.  It was most obvious when we would come home after being away.  Bill would usually lead the way into the house and Precious would either give him a perfunctory greeting and look for me or ignore Bill altogether on the way to her mommy.  Then I would receive a hero’s welcome with all the wiggling, jiggling and jumping my heart could desire.

Separation Anxiety

Though I always thought Precious favored me because I was the one who fed her, I was frequently told I was wrong.  When we were away, folks had a hard time getting her to eat.  We boarded Precious exactly once.  It was supposed to be the best pet boarding facility on the Central Coast, but when I arrived to pick Precious up, she was frantic.  When I got her home, she ate and drank like they’d starved her the whole time.  I was not a happy camper.

So we started getting friends to come feed Precious daily while we were away or when they weren’t available, we’d hire a pet sitter.  Whether it was a friend or a hired sitter, we admonished them not to just feed and run, Precious needed people time.  The sitters warned me that I shouldn’t take extended vacations, because after a week Precious would quit eating.  One said that if I’d been scheduled to stay away longer, she would have taken Precious to the vet.

When I traveled on my own, Precious would eat for Bill, but he said she spent a lot of time watching the door.  We got to the point we would have people stay in our home while we were away so Precious wouldn’t suffer from separation anxiety.  Yep, she was pretty spoiled.

Now I know how she feels.  She’s taken a trip I can’t follow her on and my appetite is certainly suppressed.  Come back next week and I’ll tell you some more tales of Precious.


Obedience School

Precious on Graduation Day
Precious on Graduation Day


When we fell in love with Precious at the pet store, her soft coat of hair was multi-colored in shades of tan and black.  As if her goodness could not tolerate darkness of any kind, Precious quickly morphed into a completely white dog.  Bill always regretted the transformation, but those dark eyes peeking out from her shag of white hair meant pure joy to me.

Obedience School 

I did mention that Precious was a little head-strong, didn’t I?  Well, we have to take ownership of that.  Yes, that’s a natural trait of Shih Tzus, but our desire to please her meant she was in charge and she knew it.  I took her to Obedience School to even up the score.  That’s when she discovered treats!

Precious was only a few months old, but she’d already decided that she much preferred people to any kind of animal.  She would tolerate the curiosity of other dogs, but only barely and she herself had no interest in them – at all.  When we went to Obedience School, she enjoyed the interaction with me, but seemed to hate having to be polite to the rest of the dogs.

Some things about obedience school she was great at.  “Sit,” for instance, was natural to her.  I could hear her thinking, “Watch this!  All I have to do is put my butt down and Mom will give me a treat.”  She was great at “Heel,” also, but she rarely had to use it once school was over.  We usually followed Precious around as she sniffed her way through the neighborhood or a park.

On the day she was supposed to learn “come,” I was sick.  Maybe that’s why she never quite got it.  It was the weekend of my wedding anniversary and as soon as school was over we were supposed to board her and head to Santa Barbara for an overnight celebration.  As it was, I barely had the strength to drive to the lesson with Precious.  We went through the motions.  Precious didn’t quite get the concept of “come” and I was too sick to stay around for help.  I went home, went to bed and didn’t rise for several days.

The next week was graduation, so once I was able to get out of bed, I worked hard on teaching Precious the concept of “come.” I wanted her to earn her diploma. As I said, getting her to sit was easy.  Then I’d walk away, turn around and give the command to come, wildly waving the treat I wanted to bestow on her.  She’d look at me as if to say, “I’m right over here, five steps away.  Bring me the treat.”  By the end of the week, she would occasionally amble over for the treat, but not with any kind of regularity and certainly not within the time frame the final exam demanded.  We went ahead to the final class, but I doubted we’d succeed.

During the final exam, Precious went through all her paces with aplomb, until we got to the “come” part.  Other dogs could barely wait to perform.  They’d sit with pride and break into a run the moment the command was given to come.  Then they’d leap into their owners’ arms and celebrate.

It didn’t go that way for Precious and I.  We got three chances.  The first time, she ignored me and the treat completely.  The second time she looked at me with curiosity as I offered an entire handful of treats.  The third time I put away the treats.  I squatted down to her level and begged her to come to me.  We had a stare down and at the last possible moment, she relented and strolled toward me, ignoring me as if the whole thing had been her idea in the first place.  She plopped her butt down in front of me and waited for her treat.

Here’s the funny part.  The instructor was amazed.  Apparently, Shih Tzus rarely master “come.”  They are the sweetest, most loving dog that exist, but they don’t do “come.”  “She must really love you,” the instructor commented as she allowed Precious to wear the cap and gown for her picture.

She did love me, almost as much as I loved her.  Come back next week and I’ll tell you more about my shaggy ball of joy.



Farewell Precious


Not only were we “just looking”, we were “just looking” for a cat.  I don’t even know why we were at the pet store at all.  If we were actually in the market for a cat, then we would have been at the animal shelter or some rescue organization. We knew better than to go to a pet store to buy a cat.  So why were we there?

I still can’t answer that question, but while I was dutifully looking at cats as I’d been told to, Bill wandered over to the puppy department and fell in love with a Shih Tzu.  Do you know how much a pure bred Shih Tzu with papers costs at a pet store?  My husband, who will spend a year shopping for a toaster, comparing features, ratings and prices, went into a pet store and plunked down several hundred dollars for a puppy, on a whim.  I’m so glad he did!

Love at First Lick!

This darling little piece of fur was in a glass case and as soon as Bill came into view she jumped up, put her paws on the glass and started licking.  An hour or so and hundreds of dollars later she was snuggled in my arms headed home.

We named her Precious because, between the time Bill first saw her and when he pulled out his credit card, he must of said “Precious” about three million times.  It reminded me of Gollum stroking the ring of power and saying, “My Precious.”  When Bill asked what we should name her, I told her him she already recognized her name, Precious.  I didn’t tell him about the Lord of the Rings reference.

For the next fifteen years, Precious earned her name every single day.  The name wasn’t the only thing that stuck.  Licking the glass had been such an effective ploy that she kept at licking all day, every single day.  Bill spent the next fifteen and a half years trying to break her licking habit.  I’m sure the command she heard more than any other was, “No licking.”  Not that she paid any more attention to it than she did the other commands we pretended to give her.

Precious’ First Days

Bill and I were both besotted with Precious from the very first moment, but we really tried to be good pet owners.  The pet store guy told us she would be a little lonely that first night and would make noise, but we were not under any circumstances to give in to her.

Do you know what a lonely Shih Tzu puppy sounds like?  Finally, in the wee hours I could stand it no more.  I got out of bed, but Bill threatened to take my life if I picked that puppy up – so I didn’t.  Instead I took her a stuffed toy, the tiger you see in the picture above.  She immediately snuggled up to it.  She quieted down and was never a minute of trouble from that moment on.  (Well, that’s not exactly the truth, but she never made noise at night, again.)

Then we nearly killed her, inadvertently.  After we’d had her for about a week, she was quite greasy – probably from all the licking.  We decided to wash her.  I was concerned about what would be the proper cleaning solution, but Bill said we should just use a little soap.  We washed her and her silky hair dried almost immediately.  She seemed fine, until we couldn’t get her to eat anything.  Then she passed out.  We had nurses across the street from us, human nurses, but we were desperate.  They got her going again.  We called the vet and discovered what we’d done wrong.  She was off food for a few days, but would drink milk.  It was a close call, but she was a brave little girl.

Our High Maintenance Pooch  

A Shih Tzu is a high maintenance dog.  We really didn’t know that when we bought her.  I just knew they were reputed to have the absolute best disposition of any dog in the world.  That part was completely true, but there were other issues, like potty training, stubbornness and grooming.

Female Shih Tzus have a little problem.  They really don’t develop the muscles necessary to control their bladder until they are about a year old.  The trick is to take them out frequently to pee and we did that, but for that first year we also cleaned up a lot of accidents.

Precious figured out pretty quickly that the longer she put off going to the bathroom on one of our necessary outings, the longer she could be outside sniffing (and licking) the world.  For the first year of her life, I spent a lot of time circling our cul de sac saying, “Precious pee-pee poo-poo outside.”  I bet our neighbors got very tired of it.

Then there was all that hair.  Bill groaned and clutched at his pocketbook every time I mentioned the groomer.  Precious didn’t have a pocketbook, but she pretty much hated going.  She also hated brushing with a passion.  She spent more time than she should have looking like an orphan, but her mommy couldn’t stand to put her through anything she didn’t enjoy doing.  Other people probably thought her shagginess was a sign of neglect.  Precious and I knew it was all about love.

Now She’s Gone

After fifteen and a half years of being the apple of my eye, Precious slipped from this life on Saturday.  Indulge me over the next few weeks as I share some moments from her joyful life.

ART, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Music, Performing Arts, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

More Southern Junction


So, a couple of weeks ago I gave you a little background information.  I explained how Bill and I are a couple of city slickers, living out in the country.  While honky-tonking is not completely foreign to me, it is to Bill.  Still, at the suggestion of my bestie, we visited Southern Junction in Royse City.  Here’s how it went.

City Slickers at a Honky Tonk

Since Bill & I both work at home, we probably spend more time together than most couples, but we still love to go out together, whether that’s shopping at Costco or a fancy dinner.  Going to Southern Junction qualified as an official date.  We planned ahead for it, got all dressed up and planned on having a great evening.  Bill even drove the Mercedes.  First mistake!  Well, maybe the first mistake was getting all dressed up, but driving Bill’s precious Mercedes onto a rock-covered parking lot was definitely a mistake.

Now please understand, we were well aware that many of those pick-ups cost a lot more than the Mercedes, but they were pick-up trucks.  Kicking up gravel is part of what pick-up trucks were made for.  That’s not the case for the Mercedes.  In fact, sedans and coupes of any sort were definitely in the minority as we waited in the car for Deb and Joe to show up.  Waiting until they got there was a good thing, because if we’d walked in by ourselves, I might not have gotten Bill past the vestibule.

On the outside, Southern Junction is a huge mustard colored metal building with some stringed lights affixed to the front portion, set amid a very large gravel parking lot.  As we waited inside the car, we recognized we weren’t dressed like everyone else.  Bill had on a pair of jeans and a shirt, just like the rest of the guys, but the shirt was a designer number I picked up last time I’d been shopping and instead of worn boots, Bill had on a fairly new pair of lace up oxfords. Neither of us had on a hat or a down vest.  Hand-tooled belts?  Nope, not that either.  For my part, I don’t own any cowboy boots and I wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of shorts cut up to …

When Deb and Joe arrived, we walked  out of the parking lot into a large room with ticket windows.  Everything was bare and wooden.  No frills.  I mean NO FRILLS!  Deb waltzed up to the window and handed them her drivers license.  She knew the drill.  The rest of us had to get our memberships, because Royce City is dry.

If you’ve ever been to a honky tonk then you know exactly what was inside.  A huge dance floor with a mirrored ball, a stage for the band, a bar, pool tables and lots of formica-covered restaurant tables with economy chairs arranged into long rows.  The band wasn’t playing yet and Deb’s friend was nowhere to be found.  A pair of hostesses looked like they were dying to tell us we’d arrived at the wrong place.  Bill said it reminded him of Billy Bob’s and I chuckled to myself.  It didn’t remind me of Billy Bob’s at all.  This was the real thing or as close as I’d been in a long time.

After the hostess asked whether or not we had reservations, she sat us at an out-of-the-way table, like she was embarrassed for us.  Because we’d asked after Kevin, she claimed it was where people sat when they were with the band, but we had our doubts.  Kevin’s lady still hadn’t shown up, so we went ahead and ordered dinner.  Deb had falsely advertised 2-for-one steak dinners, but that had been the night before.  It was all-you-can-eat night, not my favorite thing in the world, because I can eat a whole lot more than I should.  My ribs were great.  Bill didn’t enjoy his as much.

I was having a good time.  These weren’t exactly my kind of folk, but they were enjoying themselves and Texas Drive was making marvelous music.  Some of the dancers really knew their way around a dance floor and I was fascinated by the line dancing.  Each song had it’s own routine and somehow everyone one knew which one to do.  Before the band came on there were Two Step Lessons (fast, fast, sloow, sloow was the background noise for our meal) and during the break there were Line Dancing Lessons.

Bill’s evening was not going quite as well.  As I mentioned, this was not Billy Bob’s.  He’s not very fond of all-you-can-eat either, especially when they deliver your food before they provide utensils to eat it with.  He didn’t like his ribs and the potato was cold, but he was also piqued that no one offered him second helpings.  Not that he wanted any, but since it was all-you-can-eat, they should have asked.  When they delivered his credit card slip for a signature, they failed to bring a pen.   Fast-fast-sloow-sloow nearly drove him to distraction and while I thought most of the dancers were pretty good, Bill would have preferred to be home watching Dancing with the Stars.  Neither of us liked the cigarette smoke.   He kept waving his empty beer bottle at me, but he didn’t want another.  He wanted to go home.

So, do I think you should go to Southern Junction?  Well, if you like honky-tonking – absolutely.  Otherwise, probably not.  On the other hand, Texas Drive, the band we went to see, is a great band and if they’re playing at Southern Junction, then it may be worth the trip to Royce City.