Search Results for: Frito

RIP, Frito.

Dear friends,

Frito, on a cold winter day staying warm by the fire with his pals Ed and SweetPea

I lost my canine friend Frito yesterday. He was a sweet soul who had been with me for nine years, the Chihuahua who didn’t know he was a Chihuahua because he lived outside and loved to romp and roam with our Golden Retriever, Ed.

I picked him out of a large litter of Chihuahua puppies on my 40th birthday. I wanted a long-haired dog, but chose him instead for his quiet and polite disposition and distinctly un-Chihuahua-like behavior.  Parker, who was seven at the time, named him. Frito never yipped or nipped, rarely barked, and was as congenial a dog as I ever met. As Mr. Mom said when we buried him in a shady spot on our acreage not far from our back door, “Here lies Frito — beloved family pet and friend to all.”

Frito and Ed going fishing with the boys earlier this month

We know what happened and yet we don’t know what happened. I was leaving my office mid-afternoon to drive to a nearby meeting when my neighbor pulled up and flagged me down. She looked shaken and said she was sorry to tell me she had found Frito dead in her backyard. She had gone home to let her dogs out when she spotted him from her back door. She had tried to reach Mr. Mom but couldn’t, so she came to my office. To make matters worse, the poor dear works for me, so she had to tell her neighbor and her boss that my pet had died. At her house.

I left the office immediately and tracked down Mr. Mom and we walked to our neighbor’s house — me in my business suit and heels, where we found our little friend lying on his side in the middle of her fenced back yard. Mr. Mom took one look and knew immediately. Frito had been shot. Twice, at close range with a large-caliber gun.

We don’t know who would do such a thing and, since we don’t think the shooter did it in the middle of our neighbor’s back yard, we believe Frito was dumped after he was shot. Why our neighbor’s yard? We don’t know.

Frito had long been a wandering soul. We managed to mostly keep him corralled in our old home, except during thunderstorms. But in our new place, we simply couldn’t keep him fenced (even though we have a pasture with an electric fence installed by the former owner who raised goats). We worried at first about our little escape artist, but our neighbors seemed to have grown fond of him. We know many of them fed him and welcomed him into their homes and yards because they told us. It’s hard to imagine there’s a neighbor that disliked Frito so much he would empty two bullets into the very small and very happy dog that made friends with everybody. The thought of it makes us all sick and, of course, worried for all our other pets.

At first, Mr. Mom thought it might have happened at night. But I know he was shot in broad daylight — some time between when I left for work and 2 p.m. because I fed Frito breakfast on the deck early yesterday morning. I found some leftover Kitchen Sink Soup while pulling my own breakfast out of the fridge and I knew Frito would love it. Even though it is Parker’s morning chore to feed our dogs, I decided to surprise Frito with a rare treat. And he got to enjoy most of it alone before Ed caught a whiff and showed up and took over.

By the time I left for work, Frito and Ed were frolicking in a yard several doors down. Yesterday was a beautiful spring day — sunny and 62 degrees. At least I have the comfort of knowing Frito had a tasty breakfast and a beautiful day on his last. I will miss my sweet and happy friend, as will all of us in our home, especially Ed, who was Frito’s bunk-mate and heating blanket in their shared doghouse.

With gratitude {for my faithful companion, running buddy, and best birthday gift ever},

Joan, who believes the person who did this brutal thing must be a tortured soul and hopes he somehow finds peace and light in this world

Frito and Kate, when they were both much younger


March, muffins and motherly musings.

Dear friends,


I made Banana Nut Muffins this morning. I had four very sad bananas on my counter and unlike most weeks when I simply toss expired fruit, I turned the bananas into a tasty breakfast for my boys — breakfast being a relative term since I’m typing this at 10:30 am and both of them are still fast asleep despite the aroma of warm muffins.

In case you’re curious, I don’t have a go-to muffin recipe. I found this one last night and decided to give it a try. My only word of review is YUM. My only alteration to the recipe is that I added half a cup of chocolate chips. By the way, I’ve been adding chocolate chips to banana muffins/bread since 1986 when my Boston roommate showed me her trick. If you haven’t had chocolate chip banana nut muffins before, I exhort you to try them.

(My teenage son, if he read this, would ask for the definition of exhort. I think he wonders why I favor non-standard words. All I can say is that I learned it from my mother. And I guess I’m passing it on, though I rarely hear my children say things like “I exhort you.” I love the fact that my mother was a high-school dropout and yet had the vocabulary of a highly educated person. She was a voracious reader, proving once again the good that select books and periodicals can do in your life.)

Now that I’ve prattled on about my muffins and my mother, will you indulge me in a few words about my daughter? I’m just bursting my buttons with pride. Her tennis team is on an impressive winning streak. This weekend, they played and whipped two opponents in San Antonio, including an upset win over a ranked team, which gives them a 9-1 record at the mid-point of their season. Besides the fact that I’m delighted for these young women, I’m tickled pink because Kate got her first two wins.

When Kate made her college choice, she knew she would be joining a talented team. She knew she’d be getting top-notch tennis instruction, but she didn’t know if she’d ever play a match her first season or two. When the program’s longtime and nationally recognized coach departed not long after her arrival, her tennis future seemed pretty uncertain. (I don’t mean to sound like a mother who values athletics over academics, but because Kate aspires to become a tennis coach, her athletic and academic futures are entwined.) The new coach has clearly hit the ground running, and so has Kate. After playing a handful of exhibition matches, she got the opportunity this week to play her first matches among the “Top 6.” (The team has 8 players, 6 of whom play any given match.)

Kate won her singles match 6-0, 6-1. She and her partner, Lusy, won their doubles match 8-0. Those zeros  in a match score — they’re called “bagels” in tennis. And a bagel is a beautiful thing when you serve one up to your tennis opponent.

So, yeah, Mom is over the moon. Kate’s 20th birthday is Friday and we’re traveling to Oklahoma to watch two days of tennis matches and host a birthday dinner.  The weekend following that, Kate will be home for two days in what suffices for spring break for the tennis team. The weekend after that, we’ll have the great pleasure of watching her squad play two Missouri teams just a few miles from our home. With three consecutive weekends where we get to see Kate, March just may be my new favorite month.

Oh — one more thing.

While we’re visiting Kate, we’re going to meet this little girl.


She’s a rescue dog. Her foster mother thinks she’s part Lab, part Redbone. Mr. Mom thinks she’s part Walker. She is all parts adorable and, if the stars align, she’ll come home with us. We’ve been thinking of adopting a new dog ever since Frito died, and if this adoption happens, March will be officially perfect.

With gratitude {for the most wonderful, springy, time of the year},

Joan, who tackled her spring project list yesterday with a Pinterest idea that she looks forward to telling you about soon


Dear friends,


This is Ed. Part Golden Retriever, part Labrador Retriever, Ed is a rescue dog that came into our lives some eight years ago after Parker begged for a canine companion of his own.

We had lost our Black Lab, Cassie, some time earlier and Ed came bounding into our lives just when our household of four broken hearts, two active children and one neurotic Chihuahua most needed him.

He’s lived in three towns with us, two in Oklahoma and now one in Missouri. He has adapted to spacious yards, small ones, the noise of city streets and now — a wooded 15 acres filled with deer and turkeys and rabbits and all kinds of woodland friends he loves to chase.

Of late, he’s been chasing something else.

My 1000 mile goal.

Ed is my running buddy. He’s covered every mile I have since I announced my goal and he’s done it with far more enthusiasm and grace than I have.

I never ran with Ed before we moved to Missouri. I’m not sure why except I just never did. Once we moved to Missouri, things changed. For one, we live in an area far outside the city limits where most of the dogs run free. Our pasture is fenced, but it’s far enough from the house that Ed and Frito (the aforementioned neurotic Chihuahua) were miserable when we first moved in and tried keeping them there (and tried convincing them to sleep in our barn). About a month in, we caved and let Ed and Frito run free like the other dogs. We moved their doghouse from the barn to a sheltered spot not far from our kitchen door and they were gloriously happy to cavort with neighborhood dogs at will and nap by the back door.

But once they were unfenced, our two outdoor dogs couldn’t help but follow me as I headed out on my runs. Whether I wanted it or not, I suddenly had running companions. After Frito died last year, the plural changed to singular, so now Ed is my trusty exercise buddy.

It’s been interesting, this journey into my own fitness that’s also a journey into Ed’s. At about 8 dog years, he’s older than me. His age shows most in the expanding mask around his eyes and the increasing time it takes him to rise after resting. But it sure doesn’t show on the hills, at least not as much as it does on me.

On weekday mornings we run before dawn and the neighborhood is deserted so I allow him to run off-leash. For the first month, I was so slow on the uphill climbs that he would often stop a few yards ahead of me and patiently wait for me to catch up. Occasionally, he would look over his shoulder at me as if to say “Come on. Can’t you go faster?” But mostly he just slowed his pace and/or patiently waited on me.

On weekends, though, I run much later, usually when cars and walkers and other dogs are out and about, so I put him on a leash. On those days that he is tethered to me, he can only get a leash’s length ahead of me and I don’t feel so slow. He is a good dog so he never tugs.

On Saturday, we ran late — almost noon — so I had him on a leash. And even though we put in six miles, I noticed I got far enough ahead of him on the final downhill run that I had to give him a little tug. It was probably unkind to Ed but it was good for my ego. “Come on, old boy,” I said out loud. “Keep up with this old gal. I’m beating you.”

It made me think about how fortunate I am to have such a faithful running companion. He never begs off, never gives up, never gets sick, never brags, never complains. Whether 7 degrees or 85 degrees, rain or shine, dark or light, he shows up. Tethered or not, he is my loyal sidekick who doesn’t know we have a goal but is determined to meet it every time I open the door and call his name.

With gratitude {for this family’s best friend},

Joan, who thinks if anything keeps her running for 52 weeks straight, it will be Ed

Heartbreak in the grocery aisle.

Dear friends,

I think it’s obvious that food has been on my mind lately. A lot.

Clearly, food being on my mind is what led to the cleanse. And now that I’m a full five weeks into the cleanse, food is on my mind for a different set of reasons. Some of the conclusions I’ve drawn are what I expected; others have surprised me. I thought I would share these thoughts with you — and the easiest way to do so is with a list. Er, two lists actually.

What I miss:

  1. Cheese: Cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese! I miss cheese so much I can’t describe the feeling. I knew I would, and I was right. And the craving for cheese and the enjoyment of cheese hasn’t diminished one bite. Er, bit. I haven’t cut cheese out entirely, but I estimate I’m eating about 20% of the volume of cheese I used to eat. I no longer eat cheese every day. And a typical serving is now 1 oz. In case I haven’t said it, I love cheese. I miss cheese. Cheese broke my heart. And is there anything more tragic than heartbreak in the grocery aisle?
  2. Wine: I haven’t given up wine entirely, but I’ve really limited my intake. As much as I enjoy it, I remind myself it’s liquid (empty) calories. And it’s hard to drink wine without craving cheese. They’re the devil’s duo in my life.
  3. Crunchy, packaged snack foods: Cheetos, Doritos, Pita Chips, Pretzels, Fritos, Triscuits, Pork Rinds, Saltines . . . you name it, if it crunches and comes in a package, I miss it. I crave it. Whereas I have managed to moderate my cheese intake, I can’t be trusted around the salty, crunchy stuff. I don’t go near it. Can’t. I know you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy comfort and it comes in a Pringles can.

What I don’t miss:

  1. Butter: I can’t believe I’m saying this. I love butter, always have. But giving it up has been one of the easiest transitions to healthier eating I’ve ever made. Haven’t missed it for a single second.
  2. Sugar and sweets: Just like butter. I simply don’t need sugar and never find myself craving it. Once you give it up, you realize how naturally sweet many vegetables and legumes are. Or, maybe I was born with a cheese tooth instead of a sweet tooth. Whatever it is, I’m doing fine without sugar. I miss baking. Actually, I miss baking a lot. But sugar? Not at all.
  3. Salad dressings: There are so many hidden calories and weird ingredients in most commercial salad dressings. I gave it up immediately in favor of a teaspoon each of olive oil and red wine vinegar. Now, I don’t even need the oil. A sprinkle of vinegar allows the texture and flavor of salad greens to really shine and it’s amazing how much flavor exists in a salad if it’s not drowning in dressing. I’ll never go back.
  4. White rice and bread and pasta: This one really surprised me. I thought I would die without bread. And pasta. Guess what . . . I’m doing just fine. In five weeks, I’ve eaten one slice of bread and two small servings of pasta. And there have been no nervous breakdowns. Who knew?
  5. Huge portions of meat: I like to call myself a “flexitarian” because although I enjoy meat, I’ve never been a devoted carnivore. Four ounces a day has been easy breezy. And surprisingly, on the two occasions I’ve exceeded my daily limit, my gut has made sure I realized the error of my ways. Earlier this week I ate lunch at a nice cafe, where pan fried chicken livers were the daily special. In spite of the fact I knew they’d be breaded in white flour, I ordered them. And I really enjoyed every single bite. But you know what? Two ounces were all I needed to feel entirely satisfied.
  6. Huge portions of anything: I’ve been weighing all my food at home even though I’ve gotten really good at judging by eye. I’m truly surprised how satisfied I can be with four ounces of just about everything.
  7. 13 pounds: I can’t believe I’ve lost 13 pounds in five weeks. I’m astounded. And now I realize how much crap I was eating and what it does to my body.

I’m wondering if you find it interesting that there’s only three things I miss and seven things I don’t miss. I never made it past Algebra II, but I think the math is working in my favor on this one. Although, have I mentioned I miss cheese?

I’m also not missing a rigid adherence to arbitrary rules. I told you I’ve always had trouble with moderation. So I’m trying to do better about not sweating the small stuff. Last night, Mr. Mom and I went out for dinner at a very nice restaurant. I had salmon and risotto. The risotto was loaded with cheese and butter, but instead of fastidiously avoiding it, I ate a few bites. It was pretty good, I have to say. And since the salmon filet was huge — probably a good eight ounces — Mr. Mom got a second entrée with half of my salmon and most of my risotto. He thoroughly enjoyed it (in addition to his Italian sampler). By the way, I took two bites of his stuffed veal Florentine. It was oh-my-god good and I didn’t feel guilty for one second. That’s real progress, folks.

Today’s big meal is also about progress. I’m just betting you I can be happy with one small piece of fried chicken and no cake. Not that long ago, I wouldn’t have cooked such a meal in the midst of a cleanse mindset. Feast or famine, you know. But I enjoy cooking so very much (and my family enjoys my cooking so very much) that it seemed ridiculous not to do something we all love. And like I said, boiling brown rice and making vegetable soup just isn’t all that interesting.

So today I shall cook. And I shall eat. With joy and without guilt.

With gratitude {for moderation, blessed moderation},

Joan, who wants to make certain you know she misses cheese and always will

Of leeks and chickens. With a side of husbands.

Dear friends,

So I might have mentioned I’m cooking four Thomas Keller recipes on Saturday.

Because I really need to eat something besides brown rice and oatmeal and vegetables and all the other healthy and whole foods that have graced my table for the last month.

And I really need to cook something fun for a change. Because — you know — brown rice and oatmeal and vegetables and other healthy and whole foods aren’t all that fun without some butter and flour and sugar thrown in.

The thing I’m really excited about, besides the fried chicken, besides the pineapple upside down cake, besides the peperonata rustica, is the leek bread pudding.

Mmmmmm. Bread pudding.

I’m going to get up really early Saturday morning. Because the chicken has to be brined for 12 hours. And the Soffrito (a carmelized onion and tomato mixture) takes about five hours to properly cook on the stovetop.

By the way, Soffrito is ONE of the NINE ingredients required for peperonata rustica.  If you follow famous chefs and you’re tempted to complain Thomas Keller’s recipes are inaccessible, you’re not going to get an argument out of me. Despite what my new cookbook forward says — that Ad Hoc at Home contains “family style recipes” — I’m doubting the average home cook will invest five hours on a single ingredient for a stewed pepper recipe. But I’m bored. And I’m hungry. So I’m devoting my entire day to Thomas Keller and his insane culinary creations.

Anything for love.

Speaking of . . . while driving me home last night from Parker’s tennis match, Mr. Mom said he’d be happy to do my grocery shopping for me on Friday.

So I started describing exactly what I needed in very precise terms. (Because, you know, it’s a Thomas Keller recipe.)

Joan: So I need two whole chickens. Small chickens that . . .

Mr. Mom: Cornish hens?

Joan: No! Listen to me! Small chickens, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds each. Not five pounds like you’re likely to find at Kroger’s. Go to the health food store. Look for organic chickens. They’re typically smaller. Do not bring home a five-pound chicken. And I need two chickens. Be sure to get two chickens that are 2 1/2 to 3 pounds each.

Mr. Mom: I got it. Two chickens. Small chickens. Not Cornish hens. Two. Small. Chickens. 3 pounds each. Not five. Not five pound chickens. Two small chickens. Not Krogers. Organic. Small chickens. Two . . .

Joan: <interrupting> And leeks. I need leeks. You know what those are, right?

Mr. Mom: Um . . . are they black?

Joan: No! They look like green onions! Like giant green onions.

Mr. Mom: Oh yeah. Yeah, I’ve seen those. Kroger’s has those.

Joan: Fine. But don’t buy the chicken at Kroger’s.

You can imagine where the conversation went from there. Mr. Mom cut me off by suggesting I should just text him my grocery list when we got home. Which, of course, I did.


Two chickens. Leeks, one bunch. Fresh pineapple. 6 red bell peppers. 6 green bell peppers. Chives. Onion powder (large container). Garlic powder (large container). 1 lb plum tomatoes. 1 qt heavy cream. 1 qt buttermilk. 3 lbs butter.  1 lb Comte or Emmentaler cheese (or Gruyere if neither is available).  Jarred piquillo peppers, 8 oz or more.

Mr. Mom:

What size chickens do you want?

With gratitude {for precision . . . in recipes, in grocery lists, and most especially in attentive husbands},

Joan, who intends to add the Thomas Keller notch in her belt with a meal her family will talk about for the rest of their lives

They call it puppy love.

Dear friends,

Ed, on our mountain, in much happier days

Ed is grieving. And that makes me sad.

Call me crazy — it won’t hurt my feelings — to ascribe a human emotion to a canine, but our Golden Retriever is seriously bummed.

He’s been lying by our back door for long stretches of time and he has no pep in his step. He barely ate today. Frito — despite his small stature — was Ed’s pack leader. In turn, Ed was Frito’s protector. And our poor guy seems pretty lost right now without his constant companion and bunk-mate. (I note he’s also not sleeping in his doghouse anymore.)

On Monday, Kate texted me a photo of a puppy that needs a home. The photo was tiny on my phone, so when I first glanced at the facial coloring, I thought it was a photo of Frito.

Isn’t he cute? He’s a mutt. Part Beagle and part something-else unknown to the litter’s owner.

I know, I know. He’s probably a rebound puppy. But honestly, we’ve been talking about our next puppy for a while now because we all love dogs and we all knew Ed and Frito — our two oldest — wouldn’t live forever and we’d all vote to adopt more dogs if having more than three dogs wouldn’t make us the kookiest family you know.

I’ve been talking about a Bassett Hound for a while, although I’d take a Chocolate Lab in a second. (The Basset Hound is probably Pioneer Woman’s influence because before Frito, greyhounds were high on my list. Unfortunately, we were turned down for a greyhound adoption years ago because we have a bird.)

Mr. Mom has been talking about a Beagle.

Parker, who at age six memorized a dog breeds book and who can recite the dominant traits of every dog known to man and argue their relative merits with uncommon facility, wants a Coon Hound. (I’m sorry. When I think of a Coon Hound, all I can think of is Harlan Pepper in “Best in Show” reciting “Peanut. Pine Nut. Cashew Nut.”)

Kate falls in love with any dog cute and small that crosses her path.

In case you haven’t figured this out by now, Mr. Mom is our pack leader so I told Kate we’d have to wait until he returned home and talk to him. Mr. Mom is also our family’s Dog Whisperer, so we wouldn’t think of selecting a puppy without his expert dog sense guiding us.  He agreed to go meet the puppy later this week.

We’ll see.

In the mean time, I’ve got to figure out how to console Ed. Last night, our next door neighbor visited. She had just heard about Frito and she wanted to stop by and express her condolences. She is one of the neighbors that always welcomed Frito and Ed into her home and yard. She talked about how much she loved for Frito to curl up on her lap while Ed lay at her feet. She told me how her grandkids came over for Easter and, as they played outside, every one of them asked “Where’s Frito? Where’s Ed?” and said they missed our dogs.

It was such a comfort to me — like a big ol’ neighborly hug. I just wish there was a way for Ed to feel it, too.

With gratitude {for neighbors as sweet as Frito and therapeutic puppy gazing},

Joan, who thinks if you haven’t seen “Best in Show” yet, you are surely missing Christopher Guest’s best-ever “mockumentary” and one of the funniest comedies in the last 25 years

An unexpected Easter blessing.

Dear friends,

So many of you reached out to me yesterday, both on this blog and my Facebook page, with kind words and expressions of sympathy for our family’s loss. I can’t thank you enough. Your loving messages buoyed me so much, especially those of you who knew and remembered Frito and shared your memories with me. I deeply appreciate  your support.

Many of our neighbors are as shocked as saddened as we are. The beautiful plant is from a young family a few doors down. I adore gerber daisies and pink is my favorite color, so I am cheered by this very thoughtful gesture. The warm embrace from those near us and from all of you has been an unexpected Easter blessing for which I am most grateful.

Easter is a tough holiday for me in the best of times because it is the last holiday I spent with my mother. So even before Frito passed, I was feeling more than a little melancholy. Our last Easter together was in 2010. Mom was frail, but happy as could be to share the day with us.

I’ll never forget the incredible meal I made — salmon en croute with lemon cream sauce, steamed asparagus, and lemon meringue pie. Mom always thought I was a good cook (that’s sort of like the pot calling the kettle black, but in a good way), but on what ended up being our last Easter together, she was  absolutely wowed. I had made the pie — her favorite — just for her and she called it “outrageous,” as in outrageously good. I thought I had let the meringue get a little too brown, but Mom thought it was perfect.

I am reminded of something my friend Deb said in a comment on this post a few days ago. She talked about “living in the warm reflection of (her mother’s) loving gaze,” and I never felt it more strongly than on that precious Easter with my mother.

I searched through my computer archive and couldn’t find a photo of Mom from that day, but I found the pie that knocked her socks off and it surely made me smile.

So, dear readers, happy Easter. And thank you. I hope you have something wonderfully, marvelously outrageous to enjoy on your Easter Sunday.

With gratitude {for all those who have lifted some of the weight from my heavy heart},

Joan, who gathered up her family and dined out today as both a distraction and a much-needed day off

Sweetpea. And Chet. And Joan-Marie. And dog-gummed angst.

Dear friends,

I’ve been telling you about my dogs Ed and Frito lately because I’m back on track with my running and they’ve become my fellow road warriors. (And can I just say how danged pitiful it makes me feel that my Chihuahua with four-inch legs scoots up the road faster than I do?)

Anyway, before I descend into old-lady despair about my declining mph’s, here’s another canine soul I want to tell you about:

Her name is Sweetpea, but I call her Sweetie Petey. She’s Kate’s dog and I introduced her to you briefly in this post. Parker took that adorable photo of her with his iPhone last week after she spent the evening moving from one lap to another, finally ending on his with that look on her face, which no one in this household has so far learned to resist.

And it’s not just us. The neighbors are smitten by her, too. Especially Chet. Chet lives three houses down and Chet has a doggie door for his two Chihuahuas. Chet loves Sweetpea and has apparently told her to make herself at home, which she does regularly, using his doggie door to let herself in and climb in Chet’s lap and give him that look. Then Chet gives her a doggie treat.

Here’s something you need to know about us: we are a very, shall we say, traditional family. How can I say this? Our dogs live outdoors, you know, where dogs are supposed to live. They have a doghouse and we make sure they are warm and well fed and exercised and bathed and combed and loved and doctored when need be, but they are dogs and, in our family, dogs live outside. And there’s one more thing: they eat dog food. And, oh yeah, we don’t have doggie treats.

So imagine our surprise when Sweetie Petey wormed her way into our home. I can’t explain it, but the little Princess now sleeps inside the house, that is when she’s not sleeping at Chet’s house. (Did I mention that Chet lets Sweetpea sleep under the covers at his house?  Folks, when Jesus said Do Unto Others, Chet was paying attention. I’ve never met anyone like him, which is to say I’ve never met anyone that lets his neighbor’s dog sleep under the covers and then thanks the neighbor for the privilege.)

It’s not like we don’t try to keep Sweetpea at home. We do, but she runs away every chance she gets to — you guessed it — Chet’s house. We used to worry endlessly when she disappeared because we live in the country now and some unnamed worrywart named Joan mentioned there might be coyotes out there!  Anyway, I think Chet was worried about our worrying, so now he just texts us “Sweetpea is visiting” and we eventually go and get her (because Chet would never turn her out to find her own way home).

And I don’t really have a point to this post except to say:

  1. Sweetpea is the cutest dog on earth.
  2. Chet is utterly amazing.
  3. I’m starting to feel kinda bad about the inequitable treatment of canines in our home.

But since there’s already a bird named MoJo in our house (a whole other story) and a cat named Sushi (yep, it’s very complicated), I’m not really prepared to let two more dogs in.

I’m so very conflicted. I might need counseling. Unless there’s a pill for this sort of thing, in which case, just email me the generic name and I’ll take it from there.

With gratitude {for the veritable petting zoo that inhabits my yard and house},

Joan, who named her first dog Mary-Ann because, duh, what would you expect Joan-Marie to choose at age 10?

Cupid’s little gift.

Dear friends,

We’re spending our Valentine’s Day in a winter wonderland.

Well, let me be more specific — the kids are snowed in and today is their second day in a row with no school. They couldn’t be happier with Cupid’s little gift.

(For the record, I’m not snowed in because managers never get snowed in, especially when they live 10 minutes from their offices.)

The snowflakes arrived sometime after we went to sleep Sunday night and have been accumulating ever since. We were awakened Monday morning at 5:50 am by Mr. Mom’s cell phone (alerting us to our school closing). Normally, such a sign would be all I needed to stay in bed and avoid my morning run. But I knew the conditions were only going to get worse in the coming week, so I bundled up and hit the road.

If you’ve never gone for a walk or a run in the dark while snow is falling, you’re missing out on one of life’s greatest pleasures. If ever our world is perfect, and perfectly still, it is just before dawn in a snowstorm.

I’m used to running in the dark in all seasons. Our neighborhood is typically awake and moving (including a fair bit of traffic) at 6:00 am. But Monday morning, not a soul was stirring except for me and my dogs Frito and Ed, who weren’t about to let me leave the yard without them.

And boy did we have fun making tracks in the pristine snow! We covered three miles in 34 minutes (snow always slows me down some — it’s a little like running in sand) and when we got home, the sun was just coming up. I decided to grab my phone and try to take a photo of me and my snow-running companions to remember the beauty of this particular morning, but my dogs were having none of it. As soon as I knelt down, they took it as a sign we should play and began romping all over me.

Take one, and Frito is no where in sight. (By the way, don’t laugh at my “school guard” reflector harness. I told you I run in the dark and there’s usually enough traffic that I really need the cars to notice me. Before I bought the harness, I was forced to jump in my fair share of ditches because of clueless and/or sleepy drivers.)

Take two, and Ed wants me to scratch his belly while Frito runs around behind me.

Take three, and Ed barks at Frito, who has decided to chase a squirrel.

Take four, and Frito finally shows up, but I manage to photograph my house instead of me.

There is no take five, because at this point, Ed has knocked me on my back and Frito has decided to lick my face. Then we all decided to roll in the snow until my butt started freezing (my NorthFace running pants are warm, but not THAT warm) and I called an end to our impromptu but highly exhilarating play date.

With gratitude {for beautiful, amazing, magical snow days, whether I get to stay home or not},

Joan, who has been bah-humbugging her way through a Midwestern winter devoid of snow until she finally got her wish this week and wishes to thank Mother Nature for listening

Getting busy getting blissy.

Dear friends,

For me, Saturday equals bliss. And this Saturday was as blissy as they get. And it was full. It was blissy-full, to coin a term that will never catch on but I’m going to put it out there anyway.

I started my day with . . . wait for it . . . a RUN! I’ve been such a couch potato for the last 60 days, which probably explains why a blue moon has been orbiting my world. So, inspired by Phoo-D’s comment on yesterday’s post, I conveniently selected the coldest day of winter so far (11 degrees with a 15-20 mph wind) to get off my butt and hit the road for 4 1/2 miles. My dogs Ed (Golden Retriever) and Frito (Chihuahua) went with me. Frito, with his short legs and meager coat, said to-heck-with-it about a mile in and went home. But Ed, who’s kind of a show-off, stuck with me the whole way. I’m pretty sure when we got home he teased Frito unmercifully.

Next I had a phone conference about work matters. We’ll just pretend that didn’t happen, okay, because discussing budget problems on a Saturday morning is not really blissy, now is it? And, honestly, it should be outlawed in the name of all that’s good and right for the world.

Then I drove to town to pick up a few things, including a pit-stop for craft items. I’m in the midst of unpacking my paper crafting supplies and setting up a work space. I’ve got a little idea percolating in my brain that’s part art (read: joy) and part friendship (read: gratitude) and I needed a few more things to get it kicked off. I also grocery shopped for a special Valentine’s dinner tomorrow night.

I came home and spent an hour or so puttering in my dish pantry, trying out various table settings for tomorrow night’s dinner. I think I settled on this one.

I wrote a long letter to an old friend back home. I’m going to enclose it in a Valentine and hope it gives her a much-needed boost. She’s been having a hard time the last few weeks and I wish I could give her a hug.

I read a decorating magazine that came in the mail, but I fell asleep before I finished it. I napped for two hours because, well, probably because I ran for the first time in a month. I slept so hard I woke up not knowing what day it was. Fortunately, I quickly remembered it was Saturday and immediately got my bliss back on.

I made lemon curd for two cakes I’m planning to bake on Sunday — one for my family and one for my colleagues who deserve a celebration for reaching a goal. Go team!

I watched a television special about Soul Train with Mr. Mom and Parker. I told Parker I used to dress and dance exactly like the Soul Train dancers but he didn’t believe me. Then I told him I’m still in love with Tina Turner and he left the room.

I perused a few more of my rescued computer files and found two things that made my heart sing: a recipe for something so inredibly good I’m making it tomorrow (and can’t wait to tell you about it next week), and this photo of my daughter and her (at the time) brand new puppy, Sweatpea.

Sweatpea was Kate’s 13th birthday present. Kate turns 19 next month.  Notice I’m keeping my blissy face on. Your advice after this post really helped.

Your advice always helps. Which is why I got busy getting blissy. Hey! There’s a new phrase that could change your world: get busy getting blissy. You’re welcome.

With gratitude {for friends who actually show up to read about my Saturday silliness},

Joan, who, in all seriousness, wanted to be an etymologist until she realized it was against union rules to make up new words