CRAP! I do wish this synonym had been a sufficient expression of my reaction. I don’t even say “friggin!” But CRAP is not the word I hollered. In a flash, I realized I was holding the leash and collar of the dog I was walking for pay, but there was no dog attached. My mind clamored and I spun around to see the other side of the street, then back, and then down the sidewalk, shouting at the top of my lungs, “Crap! Cupid! Crap! Cupid!” “Stop Dog, Stop,! referencing the Pitbull that was in hot pursuit of what suddenly feels like my own dog. Running, I hear someone from behind, “Muzzy! No! Muzzy! I look back and cry, “I’m sorry! I don’t even swear!” And then, “I have to get her. She’s not mine. I’m a dog walker!”

How my brain can cram 1,000 images at once in mere seconds is beyond me. But is that dog’s name really Muzzy? Like, a muzzle? Like, he’s going to kill Cupid with his muzzle? Is the owner of Cupid going to kill me? But no, I recall meeting the owner and it occurs to me that she may thank me, and I cringe.  I knew that collar was too big! Then, will I get paid? We haven’t completed our 60 minute walk! “Cupid! Come here Cupid!” Didn’t swear. Whew, it’s out of my system. A bystander, and then another: “I saw her go right.” Out of breath I sputter, “Did she cross the street?” It’s rush hour, and I’m petrified. The bystanders assure me Cupid’s still on this side of the street. Whew, it makes sense. She’d sniffed her way down to Muzzy’s territory, and at lightning speed, Cupid’s sniffing her way back to her neighborhood. Good job, Cupid.

I’ve probably had more drama in the last week than my college aged kids. Who would have known that dog walking could be so, well, entertaining? The firm I’m working with, which I’ll call Tail, because I really do want them to succeed, I’ve discovered, is a start up. I realize that you can look back on my blog to see who this company is, but I’m hoping you’ve got a dinner to make or meeting to attend. And if you happen to remember, don’t be too hard on them. I’ve covered that.

I think the dog owners who go through Tail are probably pleased as punch. But for me, it’s been ruff. For example, a job that was supposed to be 10 minutes away was really no less than 45. Another job I scrambled to get to at 7am cancelled on me as I was ready to depart, a previous owner requested me, and after I took the job, it had been taken by someone else. They’ve got some fleas to work out.

After another maddening experience last week, I’d decided there was too much at stake. I was about to lose big time at the Kindness Challenge, and it wasn’t worth the risk, not for me, or for the poor customer service reps who’d been working so hard to defend the deficiencies of Tail. So on Thursday I submitted my formal resignation which is really just a polite way of telling them that until things get worked out within their app, I’d like to be pulled from their list.

In spite of my resignation, it seemed Tail didn’t want me to go, because I continued to get constant notifications for walks. I did my best to ignore them until tonight after work. The appeal of making $20 while taking an hour long walk within one mile of my home tempted me beyond reason.

I should have known there could be problems. There’s a place on the app where the owner can leave notes, and there’s a place where previous walkers should leave notes. In this case, there were no notes from the owner. Not, “Cupid is shy, but if you do X she’ll be fine, or be sure to walk her on your left to be consistent.” No, not a word of advice about poor Cupid. Fortunately I’d read the previous walkers’ notes so I was prepared for a sweet, but skittish dog. And to be fair, the owner cared enough to pay someone to walk her doggy.

The owner was home and it was clear that Pam had other things on her mind besides to whom she was handing off her dog. She put the leash and collar on Cupid and scooched her out the door. “Bye, Pam! We’ll be back in an hour. I’ll take good care of her!” But she didn’t hear me; the door was closed.

Cupid was indeed skittish. But with coaxing and patience we made our way down the road. Cherry blossom trees disguised as parasols scattered throughout the yards and along the sidewalks. Cars inched their way towards home; there was no rushing at 5:30 on this road. The walk wasn’t what I’d had in mind, but the clouds made way for the cool blue sky. Cupid sniffed every blade of grass and I settled into gratitude at making $20 while I helped a dog get some fresh air.

We turned a corner and headed onto a side street. Some were single unit homes and others were duplexes. Bikes, toys, and automobiles that look like they might be someone’s hobby filled the yards and driveways. Kids played at the end where I could see a cul-de-sac. There was a lot to sniff and Cupid was comfortable. We made our way down about a good city block when I noticed a woman standing next to a brown truck in a driveway ahead on our right. A fine looking short haired dog hopped down from the seat of the truck. As is my routine when I anticipate another dog, I crossed the street. It’s just easier that way.

Just as we set foot on the sidewalk, with my back to the other side of the street and the truck, the fine looking dog, who I instantly assessed was a Pitbull, was aggressively sniffing Cupid, at which point, she whipped her head out of her collar that was too big, and like an arrow shot from a bow, was headed for home. I finally caught up with her, filled with relief. She was standing outside her glass door, looking in. After I explained the situation to Pam, she handed me the leash and said, “Oh, OK, you can take her back out.” I didn’t take her back out however. Cupid wasn’t safe with that collar that was too big.

I’ve met some sweet natured Pitbulls. When my kids were very young we almost got a Pitbull puppy named Patty. We’d fallen in love instantly. We decided to leave the humane society do some research. Would she and our beloved Golden Retriever Lucky be a good match? Patty, at 10 weeks old, seemed harmless enough. What I read has stuck with me after almost 20 years: A Pittbull will hardly ever start a fight, but they will always finish it. I’m so glad Cupid was a lover, not a fighter.

Note: the names have been changed (except Patty and Lucky) to protect the innocent and guilty.

This post isn’t about my rough life. There is some truth to that, but I’m not going there right now. This title is more about having fun with words, which many of you may roll your eyes at. Doggone it!

I began a second job this (Sunday) morning. I’m an official employee of Wag! dog walking service. The exclamation mark is their logo, not to be confused with my enthusiasm. However, I did enthusiastically set my alarm early with the hope that I’d be able to pick up a gig (as I affectionately call it) before I went to church and Thrive. I eagerly turned on CBS’s Sunday Morning, always happy to see Jane Pauley. She sat upright with her legs crossed, her hands folded, perfectly articulating this morning’s show topics. I would be flattered if anyone ever compared me to Jane Pauley. I’m built nothing like her, but she inspires me. I like to think I can contribute some attribute I possess to her from the thirty some years I’ve watched her.

In between 30 lunges (exactly) and a couple planks (1 min, 30 seconds), bed making, and other odds and ends, I checked and double checked my new app trying to beat out the other money making mongers who beat me to yesterday’s jobs. On Friday I’d been officially accepted as a Wag! walker. On Saturday (yesterday) I made several attempts to pick up walks but more seasoned walkers who knew the characteristics of the app beat me to it. Today I was going to pounce on those jobs like a dog with a bone, to get those customers and their little doggy too. I’ve got experience in this. In my waitress days, I wasn’t just a conscientious employee eager to serve our patrons, meeting them at the hostess stand, sometimes even before the hostess could. I also wanted those customers to myself, and their tips.

It probably sounds like all I care about is the money. Well, it’s not all I care about. I care about time, flexibility, and convenience. I can care about all these things and also give the pooch a good time and make a pet owner happy that their doggy is being well cared for. If I can possibly do this and keep my sanity as I try to accomplish a sincere effort to write and work in areas of service to others on some level, I will be like a dog on its back with a belly rub.

Arriving at my first gig I grumbled a bit. I’d discovered that the job was for 60 minutes, not the 30 that I’d intended and the location was further than I thought. I was going to miss church. But like a thump on the head I had a reality check. I’m walking a dog! I have an able body where I can do it, and I’m making $18 + tip (but there was no tip) for an hour of my time. I resisted the temptation to factor in travel time and distance, and I’m going to continue to resist that temptation.

Charlie scavenged in ivy and peed and peed and peed. I texted friends and bragged about my new position, complete with photos. A couple were sweet and congratulated me. I was almost embarrassed, but I know they were being nice and just didn’t know what else to say. That’s what I get for being so celebratory.

Charlie and I meandered aimlessly in a neighborhood where lawns look like they’d magically avoided the rains, winds, and debris that come with winter. It was earlyish morning. The sun shined and although my hands froze, it was a good distraction from the coffee that was kicking in.

I assessed the learning curve I’d been through up to this point. For example, before one takes a customer’s dog, one must ensure that one’s bladder is empty. I couldn’t very well return to Charlie’s house and ask to use the bathroom, not if I wanted get a 5 star rating on my first walk, which was essential to keep this job going. Admittedly I did consider finding a spot, more discreet than the spots Charlie was finding to relieve himself. There just wasn’t a good option.

I considered the exercise I was getting, the extra income I was going to accrue, and I justified the brownies I would make that evening, even though I’m working to fit into some pants I haven’t worn in a couple of years. I also considered the teacher in Arizona who has gotten a lot of publicity for posting her salary to Facebook.

An article I read reported that many of this teacher’s friends work second jobs. I’m in good company I decided and determined I would pick up another gig after my Thrive meeting, which I did. I had some grumbling moments getting to that location as well. But by now the afternoon sun had warmed my hands, my bladder was content, and Whitie was on an adventure outside instead of in an apartment on this beautiful afternoon.

I imagined the money I could earn that would help me maintain my home, and I was beginning to feel like that doggy on his back.

And, I got the 5 star rating.

Katie of The Small Things Blog: Her messy bun. Note: This is a screen shot.

It’s time for another post, which makes me very excited!

In the last few weeks I went through what I think was some kind of phase. I don’t know what kind, but it was something. It started when I was sick in bed in December with the flu in somewhat of a delirious state (I know many many people who can relate with the nasty flu this last season). I pondered things that I normally wouldn’t give much time. The messy bun was one of those things.

I went to YouTube to research how to make a messy bun. If you’re my age or older (57), you might think I’m referring to baking, like a sticky bun. But no, I’m talking about that cute hairstyle that I see a lot of younger gals wear. As I get older, I’m constantly wondering at what age I need to stop doing this or that. That might be a post for another time. The style looks like they just pulled their hair back hapharzardly, yet there’s something up with it, because even though it looks haphazard, it looks darling! I’d tried on and off for about a year, but on me, it was only looking haphazard, not at all darling. It would look either too messy or too perfect. I felt like my messy buns were too messy, like I’d just rolled out of bed, or the perfect buns made me look like the old fashioned stereotypical librarian.

I’ve never had a talent for doing fun things with hair. When Bridgette was growing up, a pony tail and pigtails was the extent of my hair skills. Anything outside of that, I’d send Bridgette to a friend’s skilled hands where whipping up French braids was like me parallel parking (a skill I proudly possess). I’m sure Bridgette was envious of a few classmates who arrived coiffed as if it were Picture Day, every day.

So, I had no idea how to begin a proper messy bun, until I learned it from YouTube and The Small Things Blog.

This gal (Katie) is so cute, and then she’s not. She puts herself out there before makeup and looks like a lot of us do before anyone sees us. Katie’s probably less than half my age, so I’ve wondered (again) if I should do a little more digging for a more age appropriate resource. But this isn’t something I’m wanting to spend a lot of time on, so I’ve made her my Go To resource for make up and hair. I think I can get away with this at 57, but there will probably be a corner I turn when I need to look elsewhere. But honestly, by that time I may not be compelled to look up anything about my hair or makeup on YouTube, unless I’m delirious in bed with the flu again!

I called this a phase because I didn’t stop at a messy bun.

Katie from The Small Things Blog seduced me with headlines like, Fresh in Fifteen, and My 3 Minute Face! In a couple of videos she’s referred to her lack of eye brows. I thought this issue was just for aging women, but I guess not! I wrote a silly post a year or so ago about losing my eyebrows (before this blog was made public), so it’s been an issue for some time. For more reasons than one, Katie struck a chord with me and I followed her advice. After 5 years of my Mary Kay leftovers (I do like Mary Kay) I indulged in some new products for hair and makeup.

When a friend from work recently commented on my makeup and hair I told her, “I just do what Katie tells me to do.” I like what she does and I think most people who need some guidance or a fresh look could follow my example. Just do what Katie does!

I have one more little tip to share with you. It has nothing to do with makeup and hair. I listen to a lot of books and podcasts. I do it when I’m cleaning or doing yard work, and every morning I listen to the bible on my YouVersion bible app. I love this app for so many reasons.

At Christmas time I asked the kids what kind of wireless ear buds I should get. The wires are always getting in my way. The kids made a suggestion or two, but their suggestions were spendy (like over $100) and I wasn’t up for that upgrade. My new makeup and hair products were a priority. A week or so later I saw a product at Office Depot that claimed to be Bluetooth wireless headphones, for $9.99.

These wireless earbuds for $9.99 at Office Depot do the trick!

I bought them, and they are just fine! They even include a microphone. I’m not going to claim they’re perfect. The $100 kind might make me a little happier, but truly, these ByTech earbuds are better than the wires getting in the way of my trowel or the toilet brush, and I think these are perfect for someone who wants to reduce their expenses, listen to books and podcasts, and multitask with a phone call too!

Enjoy your week. Try something new!

OK, I am celebrating Valentine’s Day a little. Winky makes a cute picture so I’ll go with it.


Roses are red, and for people with dates

Or for married couples or people with mates

So no entertaining romantic notions

Instead I celebrate Oregon’s mountains and oceans

Happy Birthday, Oregon! I’m celebrating you

So glad where I live, no feeling blue

You’ve given me lots in our beautiful state

I’m not even sad because of no mate

On this day I will think of all that I’ve done

In the great state of Oregon even though I am one

And laugh as I consider the lengths that I’ll go

To distract me from V Day and that I am solo!

Roses are red, chocolate tastes great

But today it’s Oregon that I celebrate!

I’m officially beginning my blog with the help of Rick Cano at Design Works. For a few years I’ve been endeavoring to host a blog site and playing around with it in some form. I think the timing is great that I’m able to make this official start at the beginning 2018 (even if it is at the end of January). I’m doing it! And now to share with you as my first post, an “I did it!”

I made no new clothes purchases for one year. As some of you gasp, I can say that I too am pleased with myself. Although I will tell you, that as impossible as that mission sounds, it was very possible to execute. In fact, possibly one of the easiest things I’ve been able to do in the form of self-discipline. Certainly easier for me than resisting the cranberry bliss bars that I made over the holidays.

As I was nearing the year-end finish line I shared the big news with a couple of friends. One said, “What’s your take away?” I hadn’t thought about it, but I was glad she’d asked. It gave me an opportunity to consider the outcome of my project and the feelings I’d had along the way. In a nutshell, this is my takeaway:

I’m glad I did it, I learned a lot, and I recommend it. This wasn’t a New Year’s resolution. In fact, it didn’t enter my mind to do this until a friend at work mentioned that she was going to do it. I had never heard of such a thing, but was instantly impressed with the idea. Several thoughts whirled at once in my mind, but the first thing I considered was not how much money I would save (although that is a benefit) but how much time I would save.

I love fashion, but I don’t like to shop. So you wouldn’t consider that time would be an issue. But even not being a shopper, I would find myself frustrated at the amount of time I’d spent scouring Goodwill for the right piece of clothing for the right price. Right away you think I’m cheap. That’s not the case. I am cautious with how I spend my money, and I love fashion, so Goodwill has been a great resource in finding quality clothes (as well as not so quality) at good prices.

My mission of not buying clothes included not buying used clothes, at Goodwill or otherwise. I had two exceptions: functionality (I purchased 2 raincoats, three pairs of underwear, and one bra) and accessories. The raincoats were bad timing; I didn’t get the right coat the first time so had to get a second. Not a story worth repeating. Undergarments tend to get ignored in my effort to reduce expenses (kind of like the bedroom is the last to decorate). I love accessories but didn’t purchase a one. I have had a hard time justifying the expense since being single. I thought this would be the time that I would indulge a little in that area. But as the weeks and months passed and I discovered my ability to do without anything new, I began a streak I didn’t want to break.

About a month into my project, my daughter and I stumbled on to a documentary called The True Cost. I didn’t anticipate the depth of what we were going to watch. I have never watched any of the documentaries about beef or chicken that we hear about. I love meat and I can’t bear to face something that is most likely real. But, like not shopping for clothes for a year was easier than not eating my cranberry bliss bars, I watched The True Cost but still won’t watch a movie about meat!

I have always been a bargain shopper. I’ve been the person who bragged about the cost of an item before thanking a person giving me a compliment on my outfit. I loved sharing a deal with someone and wanted my friends to have the same deal available to them. But The True Cost changed that, and I have no regrets. Maybe it’s my age, but I am weary (sometimes downright disturbed) with the consumerism and greed I see so much of in our world.

This past summer I listened to a book (I love to do that while doing tasks at home) called The Life-Changing Magic of Tyding Up by Marie Kondo. The concept has many great points, but the one I couldn’t get past was looking at a piece of clothing and assessing whether I loved it or not. Most of my clothes would be tossed in the garbage if asked myself that question. I guess that’s her objective. But it’s when that little striped top that sits alone is combined with a pair of khaki capris that I can honestly say that I like it, a lot. I have few clothes if any that I love. Marie Kondo would toss my entire closet. But for this last year, all those lonesome sorry looking pieces were combined with others and saved me precious time not shopping for more.

I wouldn’t say I saved money, because not buying clothes freed me to spend it on things in my home about which I have stressed. For example, I bought new windows. Windows are a huge expense and I was able to source a person who gave me a big discount. The expense was still huge, but at least I found solace because I had eliminated any guilt from money I’d spent on clothing that I didn’t need.

And finally, I felt good that I didn’t contribute to an industry that abuses its workers in third world countries while their profits soar in the face of factory disasters and horrific working conditions.

A friend asked me if I was going to run out and buy something new as soon as January 1st arrived. The answer was no. I’ve established a new behavior. I don’t think I’ll have hard and fast rules, but I want to be more conscientious about my buying decisions. I will look to find clothes from retailers that are manufacturing more humanely. I’ve learned those retailers exist and there’s an effort by people like Livia Firth to encourage better practices. I do love fashion. I’m mesmerized by the models as they float down a runway wearing the beautiful works of art conjured up and created by the designers. I love Nordstrom. As much as I love fashion, I’ve purchased few items in my life at will like I would like. It’s my own hang up about spending money. But knowing the true cost might be the opportunity to spend a little more on a little less and I welcome that new perspective.

Welcome to my first blog post, and thank you!