Pre-cooked Turkey and Other Things I’m Grateful For

This year we celebrated casual Thanksgiving with just the immediate family and the dogs. I am appreciative of so much but I want to overshare some of the things that made this particular holiday special for me. Feel free to judge.

  • Shout out to Gelson’s for their pre-cooked turkey. It was delicious and also saved me from having to deal with a raw turkey and all of those terrifying things you have to pull out before cooking.
  • My stuffing and praline sweet potatoes and my granddaughter Samantha’s cheese bread were so good that no one thought about the pre-cooked turkey. Did you ever realize how little credit you get for cooking a turkey?

ELBEE Pack Leader really has issues with that turkey. Wonder if it’s a childhood thing.



  • Four year old Bella, the one who calls me “Grandma with the dogs,” was much braver with Elbee, going so far as to pet and even brush him. Gus is small and cute so has never been a problem. Riley our Golden is fourteen and too old to be scary but she used to view Elbee like Cujo. The jury is still out for her younger brother.
Elbee with cousins Samantha and Bella
Bella and Gus, her favorite








  • Let’s hear it for paper plates. I know it is totally tacky but no one had to do dishes.
  • My thirteen year old grandson Ryan informed me I should be glad that at his age he still likes to talk to me. We even fist bumped.
  • Ryan and Samantha’s adorable Havanese JoJo blended in with our pack. I spent the first hour with Elbee leashed to me but then all was good.

ELBEE That was humiliating!

  • I love this photo of my son-in-law Dan and the dogs watching football. I am also happy that I got to share it here. Jennifer, the lawyer daughter, threatened to sue, but Dan, also a lawyer, gave me permission to use it.

  • Speaking of photos, the UCLA People Animal Connection is doing a calendar. Guess who’s November? And yes, I am still a stage mother.






GUS I know I’m a good sport but I didn’t realize those were turkey legs on my head. I may need to go back into therapy.

ELBEE OMG I just saw this other picture. Gus looks like Yoda.

  • On a more serious note, I am grateful for a visit to a sixteen year old patient at Providence Tarzana on the day after Thanksgiving. As soon as the Doods walked into her room she jumped up from her bed and dropped onto the floor next to them. The mom, almost in tears, said, “I can’t believe she got up. We haven’t been able to get her to move.” Then the mom confessed that she was standing on the far side of the room because she was terrified of dogs. When I asked if she wanted us to leave, she replied, “Absolutely not. My daughter is up and smiling.”
  • Above all, having lost my parents and brother long ago, I am so deeply grateful for all of the chaos, love and caring that is my family.



Notes from Grandma Land

My grandson Ryan is about to become a teenager. Being a writing hoarder, I recently found something that I wrote years ago when I was helping out by taking him to pre-school. Sorry but the Doods are going to be left out this week, although Ryan and Charley were each around three at the time and growing up together.

ELBEE That’s it. I’m finding a new blog.


I’m going to share it just as I jotted it down long ago in that classroom.

Help, I’m trapped in pre-school Hell, a sub-division of Grandma Land. I’m sitting on a cushion on the floor that I’m guessing is filled with rocks, trying to be invisible or as least extremely boring. This is in the hopes that my grandson will disengage and play with the other children rather than grab me in a choke hold. A hold, by the way, that I think has been banned by LAPD.

Many decades ago when the three daughters were starting pre-school, the system was simple. You dropped them off and left them screaming as you skulked away. At that point you had choices. You could sit in your car crying hysterically because your baby was growing up. You could be wracked with guilt because you had just left your offspring with near strangers which also involved hysterical crying. Or, as was the case when I left the youngest, I did the happy dance in the parking lot singing “freedom, freedom, freedom” and then went shopping. Okay so I didn’t win mother of the year but I did find a fabulous pair of shoes.

There were exceptions. I had a friend who was expecting her oldest daughter to have great separation anxiety. Instead, when Sally (her name has been changed in solidarity with moms everywhere and to avoid lawsuits) dropped off Susie (also a fake name), the child turned to her and said “See you later, mom.” Sally ran to her car and sobbed because she had enough separation anxiety for both of them. Looking back, there was so much drama in that parking lot a therapist could have cleaned up!

But I digress. Back to my invisible grandma spot on the floor. In a cage to my left is a mean looking albino guinea pig the size of a small dog. It has a smaller black and white accomplice. I would almost swear the two are conspiring to escape and bite me. I must seem like an easy mark because I’m glued to my pillow spot. I wonder if guinea pigs carry rabies.

ELBEE She’s sharing about guinea pigs instead of me. I’m getting an agent.

Facing me in a cute little toy stroller is an anatomically correct doll. He, yes he, is naked except for a piece of plastic pizza draped unceremoniously across his chest. Considering myself to be a fairly hip grandma, I still feel a little behind the times. After all, when the daughters were small they had gender non-specific dolls who could only be identified by hair and wardrobe.

I am happy to report that despite my presence or non-presence, Ryan made it through pre-school with flying colors. I would like to add that he has always had a special bond with the Doods. Are you happy Elbee?

ELBEE For the record, I have been his favorite for years.


Ryan is also the wonderful young man who made this touching photo tribute for Charley when he passed.


Grandma with the Dogs Part Two

This post is a miracle just because it ever got written. The two youngest grandchildren were here to visit this weekend. Add two Doods to the mix. Throw in that almost four year old Bella is not a fan of big dogs and you have a recipe for chaos.

As I’ve shared in the past, she loves the dogs in photos. In person, not so much. I thought that with Charley gone it might be different but apparently Elbee now looks huge. Her fear of Charley has been replaced with a fear of Elbee.

She may have a point about his size. When I was walking the dogs this morning, someone driving by saw Elbee and called out, “Wow, big dog!”

ELBEE In case she forgets to mention it, someone else yelled out “hey, super cute.”

As you can imagine, Elbee does not take well to being avoided, or ignored and started following her everywhere. He was a dog on a mission.

ELBEE Hellooo. I’m a therapy dog. It’s my job not to be ignored.

Gus was a different story. By virtue of his size, it took her much less time to warm up to him. He practically won her over without even trying. He’s smaller, even with the poofy hair, so it kind of gave him favored dog status. I also think that being a Teddy Bear Doodle, he has the stuffed animal thing going for him. I should mention that Riley, our fourteen year old Golden, lay around like an area rug to stay out of the line of screaming.

I think Elbee might have remained “canine non grata” if my older granddaughter hadn’t come over. She’s an animal lover who immediately gave him a huge hug. Not sure how she did it, but she convinced Bella that it was okay to be in the same room with him. She even got her to pet him.

Before the truce, Bella wanted me to carry her all over the house in case Elbee decided to pop out and surprise her, or even worse, try to lick her. It’s not that she’s heavy but carrying her up and down stairs was a pretty good workout. Instead of “grandma with the dogs,” her nickname for me, I should be called “grandma with the biceps!”

ELBEE Oh no, a closet selfie. I should have seen that one coming. 

GUS What’s a bicep?






A Grandma’s Purpose

In my usual spirit of honesty, I admit that I went to see A Dog’s Purpose. Yes, I knew that there was a lot of negative publicity about the film. A video had surfaced that showed some questionable training techniques with a German Shepherd. And yes, the Jewish guilt was killing me.

Call me a hypocrite but you can also call me a grandma who needed a family friendly film. My 12 year old grandson Ryan was sleeping over and my husband and I (he’s guilty too) had promised to take him to a movie. He wanted to see it and we thought it would be great because we could sit through it without falling asleep or pretending that we were entertained.

That picture above is not a photo of Ryan. His mother is the one we refer to as “Jennifer who hates Facebook.” That adorable little boy is Ryder, Danielle’s son. She and Nicole are the two daughters who actually like my blog. Well, there was that one incident when they were going to hire Jennifer to sue me for writing, “Top 12 Reasons that Dogs are Better than Children” (3/14/16) but we settled out of court. I got them gift certificates from Nordstrom.

Okay, I am a sucker for dog movies. It’s also true that I still haven’t recovered from Old Yeller. I saw it as a kid and ended up sobbing hysterically but someone assured me that a Dog’s Purpose had a happy ending. Hey, I’m the one who overdoses on Hallmark movies at Christmas. I like happy endings.

There is another part to my excuse. Call it a grandma’s purpose. A few years ago I told my two older grandchildren that my job was to spoil them. They’ve held me to it. One day they even asked if I wanted to take them to Target and spoil them. Do you really think I was going to say no to the movie? I refuse to discuss what we bought at the snack bar.

The movie is about a dog that keeps getting reincarnated as different breeds, fulfilling different roles. And I’m the one who’s crazy. The daughters all think I’ve lost it when I tell them that I “channel” the Doods in my writing.

I have to say, the movie really made me do a lot of thinking about the Doods and the work they accomplish.

THE DOODS Finally!



Each of the three seems to have his own unique style and sense of purpose. They are all so giving but in different ways. I’ll share more about that next week.

THE DOODS Seriously?

To end on a positive note, the Humane Society decided that proper procedure was followed in training the dogs for the movie. It was concluded that the video may have been edited. I’ll take it. It makes my guilty conscience feel a little less guilty.

Breaking news! After some negotiating, I got permission to include this photo of the other two wonderful grandchildren.





Thanksgiving is NOT for Sissies!

In the spirit of the season, I was planning to share my appreciation of the Doods and all of their hard work. Then Thanksgiving happened and gave new meaning to the word chaos.

Do you see this photo?  That is definitely not me. I don’t know what Norman Rockwell was thinking but obviously he didn’t have Doodles.

But check out this photo of my family enjoying a lovely Thanksgiving dinner. Yeah right! Who are these people and what meds are they on?

THE DOODS We don’t like the direction that this is taking!20161007_114744_resized




It started the day before Thanksgiving when my three year old granddaughter, the one who calls me “Grandma with the dogs,” arrived. She immediately decided she liked Charley and Elbee much better in photos than in real life. Apparently, in person they looked like huge, scary beasts. Gus, being small, made a more favorable impression.

CHAREY & ELBEE Isn’t that body-shaming not to like us because we’re large?

The Doods did nothing to help. They don’t like being ignored and take it personally if you don’t love them. They will make every effort to win you over.

On the day of Thanksgiving they seemed to be everywhere and hairier than usual. They enthusiastically greeted each person who arrived. They started doing tricks on their own. They sat and stared at people until they petted them. When we put them outside to keep them out of the way, they sat at the door and looked pathetic. Elbee did so much barking I’m surprised he didn’t lose his voice.

THE DOODS Hello?! We’re used to being the center of attention. That’s our job. And we resent the hair remark. We looked fabulous.

When my husband was carving the turkey, some juice ran over the cutting board and onto the floor. The Doods were all over it. Gus, short as he is, figured out how to get into a tall trash bag.

CHARLEY & ELBEE Way to go little guy. We’ve taught you well.

I admit that some of it, okay a lot of it, was my fault. They’ve had tons of training but I let it slide that day. With food and family and company, things got out of control.

THE DOODS At least she’s taking responsibility!

After everyone left, the Doods were worn out. They didn’t move for the rest of the evening. Just look at this photo of Gus and Charley.By the way, Elbee isn’t in it because he had to go to the ENT to check his throat after all the barking.

ELBEE Not funny, nor is this old picture!





Grandma with the Dogs

When I was a little girl, my uncle, who was prone to giving everyone nicknames, asked my younger brother what was the worst thing he could think of to call me. Fortunately, the worst thing he could come up with was “Watermelon.” I say fortunately because the name stuck. Looking back I realize that this uncle may have had issues. His name was Ibsen.

20160525_091431_1472427293345_resizedELBEE Again with the issues. Last time she thought the rattlesnake had issues. I saw this t-shirt recently that I wanted to buy for Pack Leader. Unfortunately, I don’t have a credit card although I do enjoy window shopping.

Over the years I have had more than my share of nicknames. Elaine and Elliott, two of my closest friends in the world since we were kids in Syracuse, refer to me as  “Jones.” None of us has a clue where the name came from.

THE DOODS Hello?! Shouldn’t a nickname have some significance?

“Dingbat” is the name I was given by Ray, my former bodybuilding partner and his wife Tammy. I call him “Musclehead” so I guess we’re even. My husband refers to me as the “little hulk,” another leftover from the 80’s.

20160404_140354_resizedCHARLEY I hate to say it, but aren’t they perpetuating bodybuilding stereotypes?



get-attachment.aspxELBEE I’m just surprised that she didn’t pull out a photo from the archives. Oops I spoke too soon.




20160910_132308GUS I am still so confused by these pictures. As for those tans, my fake one when I was running for mayor looked better.


Are the Doods planning to comment on every name I share? And remember they call me Pack Leader or P.L.

THE DOODS One of her friends picked that name. We’re a little disturbed by it. Do you think any self respecting dog would give that title away?

To continue, my friend who’s as tone deaf as I am (sorry Lillian) and I have given each other very special nicknames for obvious reasons. If we could sing we would have been on tour years ago. We also would have had Bob Mackie on speed dial. That is my alter ego on the left and Lillian’s on the right.


My three year old granddaughter always refers to me as “Grandma with the dogs.” Okay that’s not a stretch but whatever happened to nana or granny?


ELBEE Wait! She left one out. The daughters call her “Crazy.” 

Excuse me, that is not a nickname.