The Birthday that Just Keeps on Giving

A few days after my “big” birthday, I received a card from my local councilman. Since this had never happened before, I wondered why the recognition. Was it my blog? Was it the Doods? Was it because I’m a model citizen?

20160209_171423-1_resizedTHE DOODS We hate to burst her bubble but it was probably because she’s old or because he’s running for reelection.

Then a day later, I received another birthday surprise. The youngest daughter and the husband sent a gift box.

THE DOODS We all thought the gifts were hysterical. We hate to say it but sometimes we seem to have a more finely tuned sense of humor than Pack Leader.

First, following my up close and personal encounter feeding a squirrel out of my hand (for which you know I got a ton of static) was this t-shirt. Since the squirrel didn’t bite me and give me rabies, I think I may have earned the title.

Squirrel Whisperer








ELBEE OMG I feel like one of those magazine comparisons of “who wore it best.” Is there any question with my fabulous hair and toned back?

The next gift was a water bottle that says, “KEEP CALM. HIKE ON.” Despite the fact that the daughters aren’t thrilled with some of my hiking adventures, I think this was a vote of confidence.


ELBEE Again with the sunglasses? PL needs to get some professional help for her obsession with putting these on us all of the time, although I do like the bottle. 

After the bottle, I unwrapped a blogging organizer. They were referring to me as a real blogger. Awhile back, Nicole, the middle daughter, gave me a t-shirt that said, “World’s Greatest Blogger.” Hey that’s two out of three. The oldest still refuses to read my posts, but shares the photos so her friends can crack up at how much the Doods and I look alike.

Charley and pushy Gus

THE DOODS Coincidentally, the almost 12 year old son of the blog non-reader said something amusing to PL recently. He told her that blogging was so last season (our words, not his) and that she should be vloging, like she knows what that is.




THE DOODS The last present is brilliant. Kudos to the youngest daughter. This is so awesome we forgive her for accusing us of peeing in the living room. As if!




Bubbie, the Butt Burner and the Birthday

THE DOODS Pack Leader got up early today and went hiking alone…again. We knew it was her birthday and heard it was a big one but were afraid to ask a number, although we could make an educated guess. It was the only reason we let her dress us up. 


CHARLEY I really don’t like to brag, but wearing this get up to make her happy proves I’m not just a therapy dog. I’m a saint.


ANONYMOUS I was trying to be a good sport but will you take a look at this photo. I really hope that my friends don’t recognize me. It’s embarrassing. And If this keeps happening, I’m going to have an identity crisis.

Oh and she said something about needing to prove that she could still make it up the “butt burner.” Give me a break. Some of you know that I was coerced into hiking it with her about a week ago. Oops I may have given myself away. Did she really get out of shape that fast?

CHARLEY Look what she did to little Gus. He thinks he looks cute. It’s just sad. 


Yes, this was a big birthday. Big enough that my first senior discount is a distant memory. Big enough that when I was discussing gray hair and wrinkles with the daughters, it was about theirs, not mine. Big enough that when someone asked if I was 55, I shed a few tears of joy.

And yes, I got up early to hike. I knew I could do it but it was symbolic and life affirming. Wait, I don’t talk like that. What I meant to say is that it made me feel like the strongest bubbie on the block. I almost did a little victory dance at the top. Note to the daughters, I said “almost.”

I did ask a stranger to take a photo. And I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I shared that it was my birthday and even gave a number.



Elbee: I Am Never Hiking with that Lunatic Again

After getting so much static about hiking alone, I decided to quiet the naysayers by taking a Dood with me. Elbee seemed like the logical choice. Apparently not so much according to him. He has a few issues.

ELBEE  The next time Pack Leader decides to go hiking alone, I’m just going to let her go. Charley’s too old and Gus is too little, plus he’s afraid of everything, so I get stuck.

To be honest, I enjoy hiking when it’s not hot out so at first it was fine.  We were  walking in a picturesque canyon. (My vocabulary is getting so much better thanks to Charley). Then it all fell apart. We started up this ridiculously steep trail called the “butt burner” which, by the way, was totally unnecessary because my butt is perfect and I have no body issues.

20160630_195746_1467483521682_resized-1Oh and before I forget, do you see this hat? PL thought it would keep the sun off of my face. Seriously? I look like the Queen of England. I refused to wear it.

I don’t mind a little exercise but if I wanted a personal trainer, I’d hire one. It was one steep hill after another. Each time I thought we were done, there was another one. Then I heard coyotes doing that fake dog barking in the distance to try and trick me. The foxtails were impossible. Plus I practically had to drag PL up behind me.20160702_090028_1467483378647_resized

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, we had to stop and take a selfie.  I only gave profile so hopefully no one will recognize me. I hate taking close up photos when I’m a hot mess.20160702_092740_1467483377736_resized

Even though I was still pulling foxtails out of my paws, I will admit that I felt pretty good when we finally made it to the top. But as I was catching my breath and enjoying the views, PL asked a complete stranger to take our picture. Still not my  best, but at least it wasn’t a close up!





Head for the Hills

This morning I did something that I never recommend and which is probably stupid. I took off and went hiking by myself.  My hiking friends were either  incapacitated, out of town or on hiatus and I needed to go up into the mountains to clear my head and put things in perspective.

get-attachment.aspxTHE DOODS.We’ll put things in perspective. She should not be wandering around the mountains alone. She’s impossible. We need to get the daughters on this one

For the record I was not wandering. I was sweating my way up the “butt burner,” a local trail that’s just what it sounds like. I was working really hard, hoping I’d make it to the top.

I was also deep in conversation with myself because there was no one else to talk to, not even the dogs. Just when I was afraid I might not be all that interesting, I heard a couple coming up the trail, arguing about politics. I realized that chatting with myself was definitely preferable. Unfortunately, I did have a minor identity crisis. I ran into several people who said they almost didn’t recognize me without the Doods.

THE DOODS We just don’t like hiking in warm weather. It’s uncomfortable. Our hair gets flat. We hate those horrible foxtails that get in our feet, and we’re scared of the rattlesnakes. Not to mention there are lizards the size of rats. 

GUS And don’t forget the coyotes. I weigh 25 pounds and I’m a pacifist (Charley taught me that word) what am I supposed to do if one of them comes after me? Discuss??

This morning was very uneventful, but I did have a disturbing encounter another time when I was hiking alone. Yes, I’ve done it before. Some workmen were repairing gas lines in the mountains. As I walked by, one of them asked me if I was nervous being up there by myself. For some reason my hand went right to my big ugly fanny pack. He asked, “Oh, are you packing?” I answered “Yes I am.” He meant gun. I meant sandwich.

The good news is that this morning I came down with a clear head, nothing broken, nothing bleeding and no snake bites. Even better, I wouldn’t have to do squats or lunges at the gym.

ELBEE Am I the only one who thinks that’s pretty lame as far as good news goes?




My Top 6 Hiking “Oops”


Again with the flowers

ELBEE Before Pack Leader gets started I would like to say that I have been following this woman into the mountains  for years and had no idea it could be hazardous to my health. What was I thinking?


get-attachment.aspxCHARLEY Let me add that all of these disasters occurred pre-Doods which is why my brother was clueless. With us she has remained relatively unscathed. Thank you very much.

My turn to over share. Whenever my daughter/mothers hear on the news that a hiker has been lost, found, or injured they just wait for my name so they can say, “See!”  That’s not going to happen because the first thing they do on the news is give your age. I would crawl down first.

Here are my top  6 “oops” in the mountains:

  1. Poison oak. No one ever told me  “leaves of three, don’t touch me.” I touched it, walked in it and broke out in a horrible rash.
  2. The broken foot. The dogs were walking nicely by my side when a biker approached like he was at the Tour de France. Watching him, I stepped in a hole, broke a bone and tore a tendon in my foot.
  3. The blood clot. Shortly after the cast came off my foot, I headed back to the mountains, tripped over a rock, hit my leg on another rock and got a huge blood clot on the front of my leg. And yes, I am a little on the clumsy side.
  4. The bee sting. A devious ninja bee stung me on the lip and I swelled up until my face was unrecognizable.
  5. The dog bite. Two very large, very mean dogs attacked my very sweet Golden Retriever Cody. As I jumped in to defend Cody, one of the mean dogs bit me on the neck. When I got to the emergency room (where I was quite well known by then) they said the bite had just missed my jugular.
  6. The rattlesnake bite. On a warm spring day, my husband, the dogs and I were walking up on a ridge through sage and wild mustard. Suddenly I felt an awful pain in my ankle and pulled down my sock to find two perfectly placed puncture marks. My buddies in the emergency room said it was probably an older snake because my foot swelled up, turned purple and twitched but I didn’t get sick. Well I almost got sick at the thought of being bitten by a snake.

On the bright side, I haven’t been air lifted out, eaten by a mountain lion (I’ve seen two) or bitten by a coyote.

 ELBEE She forgot to mention that one time a hawk flew so low his talons brushed her hair. My guess is he thought it was nesting material. 

 get-attachment.aspxGUS That’s it! I’m never going hiking again. Snakes, bodies and now a hawk that could carry me away. 


Yentas Walking

My friends and I love hiking for the exercise and the chance to enjoy nature but above all for the freedom it gives us to vent. When one of us calls and says, “I need to hike,” it’s like an emotional SOS. Thanks to our unwritten rule that what we say on the trail stays on the trail, we know it’s safe.

It’s a great workout too. We get so engrossed in our conversations that we make it up some really steep hills. All the talking keeps us going because we can’t just stop in the middle of a major conversation. It would be like calling off a summit conference right before resolving the arms crisis. My husband is amazed that we can talk for three hours straight. Apparently a lot of men can hike without speaking.

Believe me, there is nothing off limits and no issue we can’t resolve. We’re psychologists, political pundits and fabulous mothers. We’re yentas.

We have discussed everything  from life and death to hot flashes to  Dancing with the Stars. We have solved global warming, analyzed Donald Trump’s hair and talked about raising our children to be independent and then commiserated when they didn’t call us every day. Our conversations are uncensored and politically incorrect. We have opinions on everything but never judge each other.

get-attachment.aspxCHARLEY I’m sorry to say this but maybe they should judge or use a little judgement. I’ve heard things that no dog should be subjected to. I’m just saying, we know where the bodies are buried but we’re not digging them up.


Again With the Flowers
Again With the Flowers

ELBEE Speaking of bodies, PL’s friend Mary said she was surprised that in all their years of hiking they’d never found a body. What really got me is that she sounded disappointed. Oy vey (I picked up that expression when I was eavesdropping) they need to get lives and I need to get better on social media so  I can share some of this.

20150408_105611-1_resized_1Gus First I find out there are snakes in the mountains and now it’s bodies. If this keeps up, I’m going to need therapy before I’m three.