Author Archives: DonniT

I ordered what?!

Lately I have done an ungodly amount of online shopping.  Some for fun stuff, some for practical.  Mainly it’s because I haven’t had a huge amount of free time (more on that in another post), but have had a to do list longer than the preamble to the Constitution.  So as I realize I need something, I have pulled out my phone or clicked on my laptop, knowing that it will be faster for me to just fricking press a button.  Needed detergent, so ordered Tide on Amazon. Thought of some gift ideas for Valentine’s and upcoming birthdays, so clicked on the ads that popped up on Facebook.  All of our storage containers had ugly divorces, so I had mismatched tops and bottoms with no reconciliation in sight.  So ordered up the stuff — and that”s where this story begins.

Yesterday a bunch of boxes arrived.  Some I had ordered (the afore-mentioned bday gifts, plus some amazeball shoes from Nordstrom.  Damn you and your suggestions, Then HWSNBN handed me an envelope.

It was addressed to me. So far so good.

From Walmart (I don’t remember ordering anything from Walmart?).

And it contained two packages of grey polka dotted paper straws. (um, what?)

This was interesting.  I almost asked my husband if this was his doing but knew that wouldn’t be right.  Wondered if this was some long-ago purchase that had just been fulfilled — like maybe for a party? But no, haven’t done any grey themed parties lately (and frankly who would want to attend one?). Texted Singer Girl and Sailor Boy.  Asked if they had ordered them and accidentally had them shipped here.  Oddly enough they both answered in record time.  “Uh, no.” Didn’t think so, but had to ask.

Put them aside and attempted to watch another episode of True Detective, but as it was 830pm (yes, really) and (as I said) my life has been a bit frazzled, fell asleep. Dragged my carcass to bed.  Dreamt about the straws.

The packing ship showed they were ordered from a Lin Li in Brooklyn. Who? Brooklyn? Why? In my dreams I wondered if they were tainted with anthrax or something (why?). Woke up determined to get to the bottom of it.

First I checked on, and confirmed that I had not, in fact, ordered anything. Contacted customer service and explained the situation.  They told me I did order it — in an order for food storage containers. Pause.

Now, as I said, I did order food storage containers.  They had already arrived, but there was something weird there, too.  There were too many.  I was puzzled, but chalked it up to ordering while exhausted.  I mean, at some point there will be another parting of the lids and I will need more, so what the heck.  I put both the set I remembered ordering and the one I didn’t into the cabinet. But the straws?

I explained I did not order them.  She said I did.  Via Amazon. Which made sort of sense — because, as I said, I had no recollection ordering anything from Walmart, but had been meeting my Amazon Smile account happy lately.  Opened a new tab on the computer, and checked: nope.  My Amazon order only contained the 42 piece set.  I did not order the others.

Yes, you did.

No, I didn’t.

The first customer service rep, Genesis X,  said I would need to talk to someone else and disconnected me. Um, no. So I reconnected, and pasted the entire screenshot conversation I had already had for the reading pleasure of Aura C. She started doing some digging.

Did I have an email? Yes, I did.  And it confirmed my side of the story.

Which address did I use? Gave her my address. No, she said that’s not right.  Asked if they had listed Wayzata (we share a post office, so the cities are often interchanged). Nope. Insisted I hadn’t lied anywhere else in almost 5 years.  She insisted there was another address, and that she couldn’t help me until I confirmed the mystery location.

Baffled pause on my end.

I begged for a hint — a clue — a street name? A city?

Brooklyn, she replied. Ah ha! I grabbed the packing receipt, and explained that it said someone from Brooklyn had ordered the straws and sent them to me.  What does that mean?

A pause on her end.

Then it was done.  Basically, she said I wasn’t charged and could keep the items or return them to the store. Thanks for my business! Have a good day!

Wait. What?

That’s it?

I mean, I’m off the hook, which is grand.  But what about poor Lin Li in Brooklyn? Did get charged? I hope not! And how did he get my address — I assume that was a goof on Walmart’s end.  And is he sitting somewhere, unable to store his leftovers, and with sad, grey, incomplete party decorations?

SO many questions.  Few answers.

But I have an ungodly amount of Rubbermaid storage containers.  And some straws.

So there’s that.

(BTW: did you know that if you order through the Amazon Smile program, your charity of choice gets a kickback? All my purchases benefit Secondhand Hounds!).

All Around the Globes

Hi! Petty fashion moment here! I love award season, and all the amazing clothes I can’t afford to wear and don’t have the body to do so anyway.  I am scheduling all the movies I need to see for the Oscars, and the Golden Globes are often a precursor to both who will win, and what the fashions will be like.  We have some cool names in the running this year — especially in terms of taking risks on the red carpet.

I love the folks who do something new and cool and interesting — I mean, Cher in her acting heyday was the one I would most want to be like if I had the chance, lol.

Today my blog is all about who wore what and what I thought of the outfits.  I am not naming designers (I am sorry — I know they deserve a mention, but honestly: this little blog will neither make nor break anyone’s career), just sharing what I liked, what I didn’t, my opinions on trends, etc.  I tried to put captions on most photos.  Clothes do not make the man: just because I do (or do not) like someone’s outfit, does not equate how I think of their work.  I am sure they are all lovely people.

Enjoy (and let me know if you concur!) Hope

Let’s start with co-hostess Sandra Oh:



Flawless.  Elegant. Smart.  Hair, makeup, jewelry. I love all three looks. If I had to pick one, I would probably pick the red.  I love color.  Which leads me to my first “ensemble” category: Women of COLOR!


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Next group wore my absolute least favorite dress trend of the past too many years: flesh colored dresses.  Yeah, I know the official term is blush, but all I see is mono-chromatic skin tones.


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Two women got the trend right for different reasons:


On the opposite side of the spectrum: widow chic.


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From death’s door to virginal: the prom dress look.


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And then there is Heidi Klum.  I liked her dress at first — then I saw the second picture.  She looks like a teenager showing off her dress at the school dance.  Not a good luck.  Auf wiedersehn.


Now let’s look at something completely different: the guys.  I LOVE that the men are taking chances.  It used to be so boring, and they were just the picture frame for their date.  Now they get to live it up.  Some are all that — some are not that at all.

Starting with the classics:


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Is white the way?

How about the velvety underground:

And how about a shout out to Idris Elba? All buttoned up or a little loose around the edges, man is foyne. (damn that Fiji water girl in the background)

Young Hollywood is going it’s own way — which is good and not so great.

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Perhaps the best look of the night for men — following in the Cher school of thought: Billy Porter. Yaaas!

76th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

And now a look at my three favorite couples from the evening.  I wish HWSNBN and I cleaned up this well!


Before I go to the big categories, I’m going to list my runners -up.  The folks that were THAT close to awesome — or hideous.


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And now: the worst looks of the night.  The what were you thinking? The fire the stylist in the morning — or buy a new mirror looks.

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So that of course just leaves my favorites.  For so many reasons!


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Thanks for indulging my inner Joan Rivers.  I’ll try to write about something less trivial next time (oh who am I kidding?)

Resolution Revolution

New Year’s Day.  For some, it’s a day to rest or maybe recover.  Last night we knew we weren’t feeling a big to-do, so instead dined out with the dearest of friends, then did pjs and TV.  About 11:40pm, attempted to watch ball drop but forgot we are in the wrong time zone.  Yawned.  Explained to dogs the concept of fireworks: Abby, the foster, wanted to bark them into submission.  Stevie Nicks, the resident, stared frantically at weird corners of the house, searching for ghosts.  Applied a little calming oils to them, turned off the lights and prayed for the best.

A restless night, an early morning sub-zero potty break and a 5am nap on the couch and I was ready to face the new year.

So what does that mean? Resolutions are traditional. I like traditions — but I also like to shake things up.  I also love a good to-do list.  So, for the past few weeks I have been taking notes on things I both want and need to accomplish.  Some are new, some are embarrassingly old.  Some require dedication and a lengthy commitment, some can frankly be a one and done.  Some are tangible, some are spiritual.  All are worthy in their own right — to me.

I figure if I put this out in the universe, I will feel held accountable.  I will try to update every month here (see resolution #2) for my sake, and perhaps your curiosity (I am perhaps flattering myself to thank that anyone else cares about this crap.  But I digress.)

  1. I’ll start with the one that everyone has: lose weight (one pound per week before our vaca to Jamaica in April).  I’ve already posted a reminder in the kitchen: IMG-4455
  2. Blog more regularly! And if I don’t have anything to say, I best get out there and create some interesting stories!
  3. Take more bubble baths.
  4. Clean out this garbage collecting under the deck:IMG-4454
  5. Be in more pictures, not just be the one taking them.
  6. Attend a show at First Avenue (can’t believe I have never done this!
  7. Use all the gift cards we’ve bought at auctions (there are soooo many)
  8. Clean out this weird box in which I have been piling crap since 2017.  Almost afraid to see what’s in there.IMG-4457
  9. Make progress on my genealogy search, and plan a trip to get more info.
  10. Organize and purge this collection of cords.  IMG-4456
  11. Fight less with Singer Girl
  12. Frame and hang all the old family photos from his side and mine.

I think that’s enough for now. Twelve months, 12 resolutions on my to do list.  Ill keep you posted.

How about you? What do you need to FINALLY get done???

Third Day’s a Charming

So no sleeping in today: we had ground to cover.

First up was sustenance, and I needed a bloody Mary.  HWSNBN insisted I would never find one.  Seriously: he has no faith in my investigative prowess!

Camera in hand, we set off to the tram station (no directional errors this time) and headed to a neighborhood known as the Jordaan.  It’s very cute, full of shops and restaurants and kitsch.  I had found a restaurant called Gs, and we feasted. we got there just in time, as the tiny place filled up fast and a line formed.  We almost felt guilty, sitting in our little window seat, feasting and sipping.  I got the Dirty South: cheddar waffles, fried chicken and bacon with hot sauce, and a Hete Ketel bloody (served with spicy Ketel One vodka).  Actually, I didn’t feel guilty at all.  I felt content.  Fat and happy.  Ready to roam!

Next we searched for a cool shop I’d heard of, hoping to find a souvenir for the girl.  Rock Archive ( specializes in knock out concert photographs of iconic performers. I really wanted to buy a Led Zeppelin one, but they started at $600.  Seeing as my souvenir was a mug, I left the photos in the shop (but truly: check the place out if you are in town).

Now it was just time to explore and enjoy this beautiful city, from it’s quirky shop windows to it’s stunning architecture.

One cool thing about Amsterdam are the gevelstenen, or house plaques.  These were put on buildings before addresses were invented, and are ways for folks to find homes.  Some indicate the business of the building’s occupants, many are religious, and some convey philosophies or morals of the home owners.  Here are two I saw:


This gevelstenen could be from a banker — or an alchemist, turning silver into gold?


The gevelstenen in this picture is almost overshadowed by the fantastic paintings on the building.  The translation for the stone is “the green forest.”


We made our way to the oldest part of Amsterdam, and visited the Oude Kirk, or “old church.” It’s a huge space — and the oldest building in Amsterdam (built in 1213).  The irony of course is that t is now in Der Wallen, the red light district.  While touring, I had to nudge HWSNBN who was intently listening to his audio guide, and point out the view from the window — of a lovely lady proffering her wares from a window in the next door building!

Other snapshots of the city as we strolled around:


That night we decided to wing it.  We started out by wandering towards the Rijksmuseum, to see the famous outdoor ice skating rink (and get a drink, of course).

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As for dinner, we decided to grab food from street vendors and shops as we craved it.  Asian food is big there, so steaming hot noodles on the go in the chilly rain seemed perfect to start!IMG_4092

We wandered the Red Light District, admiring the views (the women were so much prettier than I expected!), catching a drink here and there, and noshing some more.  The Dutch are famous for waffles, and we had one dripping in molten milk chocolate that was to die for (we ate it so fast I forgot to get a picture!).

After the crazy weirdness of Der Wallen, I searched Trip Advisor for a nice bar near by, and we found an oasis: Bar the Tailor, inside the Hotel Krasnapolsky (  We had fancy cocktails, and a charcuterie plate, and sank into the plush cushions. IMG_4096  We had planned to head back to the hubbub, but we just kind of realized we were happy where we were.  We finished our drinks in happy silence, then headed back for our last sleep before heading home the next day.

On the Van Gogh

The nice thing about a vacation is getting to relax and set your own schedule.

The tough thing about a mini-vaca is that you are pressed for time and you want to fit everything in.

Those warring sentiments hit us in the face like a cold cup of much-needed coffee when we woke up for the first full day of our Amsterdam jaunt — at noon.  Dutch time.

We scrambled to focus and get ready for the day, wondering where we ought to be wandering. We had set evening plans, so our focus became quality, not quantity. I laced up my oh-so-appropriate sneakers and we headed off to the Van Gogh museum.


This was actually third on my list of museums to see, and the only one we actually made it to.  First was Anne Frank’s house, but a spur of the moment trip sometimes means not getting into sold out things.  Evidently you need to reserve months in advance.  We were told to stalk the website day of, and tried for both our full days in Amsterdam, but did not get in.  One of the many reasons for a return trip!

Second on the list was the Rijksmuseum, which is huge and has Vermeers, Rembrandts and more.  Next time (with more time)!

So the Van Gogh museum: we loved it (  Way better than I thought it would be. With the audio headphones on, we wandered and wondered, learned and admired and wondered.  Every few rooms we’d ask each other which were our favorite pieces (we both adored his “Almond Blossoms” the most!), but I was fascinated by the variety of his work.  So many different styles and subject matters.  I would’ve been hard pressed to ID some of them as his.  But when it was time to go, I took my fave piece of art with me:


(While learning about Van Gogh’s life, we came up with a great idea: planning a trip around the life of a famous person.  For example: for Van Gogh,  you would do Paris, Saint Remy, Brussels, London, Amsterdam and more.  Not a bad itinerary!)

After the museum we wandered through the rain in search of nourishment — both the food and liquid varieties. Found another great neighborhood bar, Cafe Gruter (, and greatly enjoyed the cozy respite from the elements.


That evening we were scheduled to do a boat tour of the canals, focusing on the light show.  The entire city is crazy with lights this time of year, and some of the displays are best seen from the water. For more about the festival, go to

I had booked a small boat tour, with just 8 of us aboard.  We thought we had plenty of time — and we would have, if I hadn’t screwed up the directions.

A word about the transportation system: the trams are the bomb.  No worries about if you are on the right train, or how to buy a ticket; unlike most cities, the system is not done without human interaction.  Each tram has attendants, and they are there to help.  Sadly, this time I thought I knew what I was doing, and didn’t ask for assistance. Instead, I relied on my Google Maps app.  It was right: take the tram towards Centraal Station.  But Is topped reading; while we were supposed to head that way, we were supposed to get off before we reached the station.  We didn’t.

So now we needed to backtrack, and we were going to be late  And it was raining. We ran in circles trying to get our bearings.  I called the boat — someone actually answered! They said no problem.  So stressful, as we new others were waiting on us.  We ended up being almost 20 minutes late!

Luckily the other guests were drinking wine and nibbling on snacks, so they were cool.  And the company was so gracious, they extended the tour so we all got our money’s worth.  I would totally recommend them! If you head to Amsterdam, be sure to book a canal cruise through Pure Boats (  They were wonderful!

The lights were stunning.

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After the tour, we paired up with two cousins who were also from the states, and found dinner at Restaurant Bleu ( The food was as delicious as the restaurant was stunning.

After awhile we realized the staff was waiting for us to leave so they could go home — always a good sign of a good time! We said goodbye to our new friends, and wandered back to the hotel for a night cap and some well needed rest. I warned HWSNBN that the next day, our last full one in Amsterdam, was gonna be busy, so he’d better be ready!



Going Dutch

HWSNBN has done a lot of European travel for work this past year. While not always great for either of us, we have decided to take full advantage of all those frequent flyer miles, and my flexible retirement schedule.  He recently mentioned he needed to go to Belgium for a trip, and would I like to tag along ad meet him in Amsterdam ?  So I checked my schedule for the least difficult weekend to bail on my responsibilities, and off we went!

I had been  to Amsterdam several times, but only in the airport (seems all flights from Minneapolis go through there). We had bandied about the idea of using Amsterdam as a departure for another location, as he didn’t think we could find enough to do there.  Silly man.  He still underestimates my epic planning skills! I knew we would never get it all done in the long weekend (Thursday-Sunday) we were there.  I was right (shocking, I know).

He arrived in Amsterdam on Wednesday, and had meetings through Thursday night, which meant I’d be on my own until he could escape from work.  He apologized, but I knew I’d be fine.  Pretty sure I could travel anywhere solo and find ways to entertain myself!

I arrived midday Thursday, and had arranged a one one one tour for myself through an AMAZING company called With Locals (  You should check them out (they are all over the world): you pick your own guide, based on little bios on the website.  Into fashion and shopping? Pick this guide! A foodie? This one’s for you! I chose mine based on my love of history and architecture.  Ente was fantastic.  We spent three hours wandering, discussing how the city evolved with the political and economic changes of the times.  Every time we turned a corner (and there were many — old cities built around canals have lots of corners), he pointed out something new about a building or a location, pulling out old maps and drawings to show context.  Some folks might’ve been bored; I was fascinated.

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Sometimes you gotta look up to find local color

Afterwards I moseyed back towards the Museumplain, or museum district, where our charming hotel was.  We were staying at the Hotel Vondel (  Holiday lights and shop window decorations always delight me.  Whether whimsical or charming or just plain head-shaking, I think they are often a glimpse into a city’s personality.

HWSNBN being still in a dinner meeting,  I wandered the misty streets, looking for a cozy brown bar to have a beer and dinner.  A brown bar or cafe is an old place with lots of wood and smoke tinted walls — no, they don’t smell gross and dirty.  They just feel old and welcoming!  A quick Trip Advisor app search (smart phones are saviors, lemme tell ya) led me to Gollem’s Proeflokkal (, where I cozied up to a beer and bitteballen, a traditional Dutch snack of deep fried dough and ground meat.

Perfect for enjoying the happy sounds of a neighborhood bar, while watching the world pass by.  HWSNBN finished his meeting and met me, and we enjoyed more food and drink as we planned our attack on the next few days!


The Results Are In

So just a quick follow up from yesterday (betcha didn’t think I’d post again this fast!)

As soon as Stevie Nicks (fka as Sissy) arrived, I did her DNA and sent it out,  The results came in this morning!

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve heard all sorts of thoughts on what she was — a doodle (my bet), an Irish Wolfhound (my daughter’s dream), a wheaten terrier (I was worried about that one, as they are notoriously hyper) and the latest: a Tibetan terrier.  had to google that one: she does look like it! So, what is she?


Reading about the various breeds, as described by the good folks at Wisdo Panel, I can see it:

Great Pyrenees: “Can be standoffish and wary with strangers and has a tendency to bark.”  Yeah, that sounds like her.  She is a tad nervous when new folks arrive, but quickly warms up (the submissive peeing is getting better, thankfully). She is, unfortunately, much barkier than I am used to.  Hoping to get some training ricks to work on that.  Like a Great Pyr, she is so soft and fluffy! She has a white streak down her chest that I just love to pet! People often comment on how mellow she is for a puppy, and the Great Pyr litters I have been around are kinda dopey, sweet, chill animals.

Standard Poodle: “Have a sensitive nature and respond well to motivational tools such as treats or favorite toys in a reward-based approach to training.” Yeah, she is so into the food.  All the food.  She learned sit too quickly: when she goes outside to potty, she knows which pocket my treats are in and sits, rather than potties, to get food.  We are working on that, too.

Golden Retriever: “Happy-go-lucky, calm, or easy-going dogs, although some can be energetic or nervous. Usually friendly and are generally good family dogs.” Sounds about right.  Also food motivated, like the Great Pyr and poodle.  We have already caught her stealing food, pantry surfing like her predecessor.  Not good. Working on the food whore-dom.

Terrier group: this one they don’t know which terrier, just that some scruffy business is in there.

Her family tree:

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So basically she has purebred grandparents and great grandparents.  Then someone created a goldendoodle (my guess!), and a pure bred Great Pyr slummed it with a third-generation mutt.  Then their kids hooked up, and we got Stevie.

My fave thing about this is that, most likely, we got the good genes from all the breeds.  They also did her health history, and she genetically only carries markers to sightly increase her chances of two illnesses, both that we can all work with. Her adult size is estimated to get to 40-70 pounds, which is just fine with us.  I mean, let’s be honest: we’d be fine with whatever she ends up being!46302869_10217480512714991_792672863432736768_n

Dogs are like Glass Slippers

Once again I take too long between blog posts.  I just haven’t had any big doings in my life to report on — no trips, no big changes, no crazy silly stories.  We’ve just been kinda settling in to empty nesting.  It’s going well.  Trying to do date nights every week, but life sometimes gets in the way.  HWSNBN has been travelling, I spent October getting ready for our annual Halloween bash. Oh: and we got back into fostering.

As you know, we have had a gigantic hole in our hearts and lives since we lost Penny.  Fostering was just too much.  But before we went on our Greece and Croatia trip, there was a dog languishing in the office, waiting for a foster with no kids, no dogs, no cats.  That was us.  I told the family if Sirius was still looking when we got back, we were taking him.  So we did.


He wasn’t an especially easy foster, but so sweet. He had become increasingly aggressive in his adoptive home.  The owners tried everything they could, but he was just too afraid of the world.  Interestingly enough, this was from birth.  He had been the most skittish puppy in the litter, but everyone assumed he would grow out of t with love.  But he didn’t.  Just like some people are naturally shy or hesitant, Sirius needed to learn how to control his environment.  Moving him into a kidless, dogless environment would be a good way to reset to factory settings as it were.  There were a few days when I was worried he would never be adoptable, but Second Hand Hounds believed in him, and footed the bill for an in home trainer, leash aggression classes, and a doggy behavioralist.

With time and training and medication, he became a happy dog.  The cutest couple ever applied for him, and we all took a chance.  Would he be OK in their urban yard with a short, see-through chain link fence? With dogs and humans and cars and critters and kids everywhere?  He was.  He is now renamed Pico de Gallo, and is well loved.

We are often asked “are you going to keep this one? How do you let them go?”  We loved Sirius, but he was not our dog.  We entertain too much, and want a dog that likes to party at home and go out in public, not to mention one that will welcome other dogs into his home so we can continue to foster.  Our life would’ve been awful for him.  And I often say the best part of fostering IS the letting go: it’s when you get to complete a family circuit.  My favorite moment is taking and  sharing that photo of the once-lost dog going home with his new family.  Best feeling in the world.

But what about us?

After Sirius, we took in Goober, a temp foster.  Goober was a silly, intensely lovable pit bull that seriously wanted to be with us 24-7.  And by with us, I mean physically a part of us.  When I showered, he stood with his nose pressed up against the glass, as if fearful I would wash down the drain.  HWSNBN thought Goober was great, but couldn’t commit to a pitty.  “Too affectionate,” he said.  “I need my personal space.”


So Goober was not our dog.

Next came Lady.  On paper, Lady seemed very much like what we would want.  House trained, crate trained, god with kids and dogs.  She was some sort of greyhound mix we thought, so probably a good running partner.

We brought her home and set about getting to know her.  She was easy: slept through the night, didn’t steal food, didn’t bark when folks came to the door, etc.  Very sweet, but not overly clingy.  But there was something missing.  We just didn’t feel it.  I asked my husband what he thought. “About adopting her? I mean, she’s great and all.  But shouldn’t she go to someone who is excited about her?” He made an excellent point.


So she went on the website, and shortly we received an application from a veterinarian.  She, her husband and their two young daughters had lost their two dogs a few months back, and were looking for a new one to fill their family’s dog-shaped hole.  They met lady, and loved her.  They were giddy about her.  The little girls couldn’t stop talking about her.  She was THEIR dog.

Shortly after Lady left us, I got an email from her adopters.  They had renamed her, as most do.  Her new name was going to be Penny.

They did not know about the sweet beast that left us in April.  They had picked her name for the color of her fur — the exact same reason we had named ours Penny.

It was a sign to me that our Penny had moved on, and now it was time for us to welcome a new furry family member.

Meanwhile, I had seen a picture of a dog on the Facebook page of one of our partner rescues in Kentucky.  Something hit me in the heart, and I immediately asked if she was coming to Minnesota.  If so, she was mine.

And she is!

She came to us as Sissy, but has now been renamed Stevie Nicks.  We don’t know what she is (DNA pending) so not sure how big she will grow to be.  Some say she is done at 6 months old, others think he will get bigger.  She’s only about 26 pounds, which is small for us.  She is a complete ragamuffin thing.  She is not house broken.  She may never be a runner.  She is not a late sleeper (we’re hoping she grows out of that quickly).  But we love her. On paper, she is very wrong for us.

My kids think it’s weird that she is so similar to our Penny, but most folks adopt a type.  I mean, if we always did yellow labs, or chihuahuas, or boxers, wouldn’t they all be similar? But they are all different.  And they are all perfect.

Over the years I have had to say no to many adopters, not because they weren’t great but because  simply can’t share a dog between applicants.  Often they come back to me later and thank me for saying no — because they had since adopted THEIR dog.  Had they taken the other, they would never have known this one.  I feel that way about Stevie.  I am grossly infatuated with her, and can’t keep my eyes and hands off her.

The perfect dog is a fairy tale — or, as I called it when I told folks we were “fostering with intent,” looking for our unicorn.  But they are like glass slippers.  They don’t fit everyone.  But they fit the right one.




Our Respite

Every Labor Day weekend we travel to Madeline Island, Wisconsin.  You travel to Bayfield, and catch the ferry.  When you drive onto that boat, you leave a lot of the day to day worries behind.

We have done this for years, meeting up with friends who introduced us to the island’s charms.  You can do a lot , or nothing. Golf, lay by the pool, paddle board, boat, nap.  Hike.  Go to fine dining restaurants (but don’t bother dressing up), shop for artistic creations, hear tons of live music.

Over the years our trips evolved.  At first the moms were exhausted, supervising 8 crazy kids who ran between lake and pool all day.  Then the kids were old enough to wander the town unsupervised, then they could rent mopeds and then they started graduating high school and moving away.  This would be our first weekend without kids.

Our dogs loved the island.  Monte and Penny were married on the shuffleboard court, and spent hours chasing fetching sticks in the lake.  This weekend, we released some of Penny’s ashes in her favorite place on earth.  Our first Madeline trip without a dog.

I was nervous that the weekend would be sad.  So I made sure we did some things we had never done before.  We ate at a restaurant I’d always wanted to try.  We went kayaking.  I explored parts of the island I’d never gotten around to before — heck, I even golfed! Yes, there were definitely sad moments, but we also managed a lot f laughter and smiles.  As always, the island gave me many reasons to pull out my camera.  I hope you enjoy these glimpses of Madeline as much as we enjoy being there.  Maybe, next year’s pics will have a new dog in them!




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Dear Parents:

A letter to the parents at my kids’ alma mater, Minnetonka High School:
Today is the first day in 17 years I haven’t had the first day of school dash. I (sort of) envy you all! If it’s your first day of high school, know that there are so many moments ahead — great and awful. Sorry, but it’s true. Always remember it’s the bad stuff that gives us the perspective to know what is truly awesome. It’s those eye-rolling “you don’t understand” heated discussions that make you cherish those times when you find them watching a Pixar movie they adored as a kiddo, and ask you to sit down and watch too.
BTW: the school is not that big once you get to know it (do friendly presence and see for yourself), they really don’t need lockers or coats to survive, and every kid’s path is the right one. Don’t let anyone tell you differently: I refused to allow my daughter to take more than two honors classes her freshman year, and some gasped. The teachers and counselors thought I was brilliant. She graduated honors roll every quarter, with tons of AP and IB. My other one? Barely graduated, in part because “they” told me he had to do honors classes and it screwed his path up. He’s good now, but his academic career would’ve been better if I had listened to my gut. Listen to yours. But know you will make mistakes. It’s cool.
If you are sending your last one off on their senior year: yes, you will say “last time” a lot this year. Don’t dwell: enjoy. If you see a lot of your kid, that’s great. If you have to ask for proof of life snapchats because they are so busy soaking in all the lasts, that’s fantastic, even if it doesn’t feel that way.  It means they are ready. And when they are finally gone, it makes the emptiness seem normal!
Encourage them to do EVERYTHING.
Take risks — pick the college that you have never heard of, rather than the one everyone is attending, if it is the right one.  If it ends up not being the right one, change schools.
Make mistakes: better to learn how to recover from them at home than without the family safety net. Tell them it’s ok if they don’t know what they want to do: 95% of the kids who say they do, don’t. Or will change their mind. That’s fine. If they want to learn a trade, let them. They will be financially well off and always employed (seriously: I have people from three different blue collar trades coming to my house this week. They will be handsomely paid and I will fawn over them when they fix what I could not. Think about it).
Tell them to go to the dance/the party/the concert/the play/the game.  Ask that guy/girl out.  If it sucks, it was one night they’ll never remember.  If it is awesome, it just might be that one night they will never forget.
And you?
Hang out with friends. Take a class. Talk with your spouse. No spouse? Do something you’ve always wanted to do but a significant other might’ve gotten in the way. Do not wait until the kids are gone to start filling those empty spaces. We are so busy every weekend that we rarely miss the kids. I mean, I would kill to hear my daughter sing, but that’ll come (she’ll gig over winter break at Excelsior Brewing Company — watch for my pathetically excited posts). I’ll visit her for parents’ weekend in Nashville in a couple weeks. She’s coming home for Homecoming. My son will return for a visit in October from Seattle, and we’re taking him and his buddy to Vegas in November for the first time.
Sure, I miss them.  But as much as I love them, I don’t need them. And they don’t need me the same way anymore. And it’s okay.
So enjoy the frenzy. Take the pictures. Hope that they tell you more than “it was fine” when you ask about their day later — whether face to face or via text (both are ok). You do you. They will do they. And you will all have a great year!
Go Tonka!
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