The Barbecue, the Bird Nest and the Bench

My last few posts have been more personal and emotional. This one not so  much. It’s also only marginally dog related.

ELBEE I hate when I hear that.

Sometimes the daughters hand me material that is just too good not to use. I admit that I started it by sending them a photo but they were quick to chime in via text message.

We had an old broken down barbecue that should have been put out of its misery years ago. The husband doesn’t like to part with anything and said he was still using it. When I opened it, trying to convince him to say goodbye, I found a bird nest inside.

The daughter who might hike if there were Starbucks on the trails, thought it was disgusting. She didn’t like the one I found a month ago and brought home to show my granddaughter either. I think she used the word, “vermin.” And let me assure you that no birds were harmed in the taking of the nests. They were long gone.

I had no idea how the nest had gotten inside the barbecue. One daughter suggested that Elbee might have had something to do it. Another thought that maybe he ate the birds.

ELBEE As if! Although I admit these photos look incriminating, I was just curious and I don’t eat bird. I’ve even considered becoming vegan.




GUS For the record, I had nothing to do with it. I’m too short.

Then the oldest suggested that since we were cleaning out, it might be time to get rid of the ashes from Charley, Larry and Cody, three of our wonderful dogs who we keep in urns by the fireplace. Being practical and having a sick sense of humor, she actually said, “Why not wait for a Santa Ana wind and scatter them off the balcony.” Wonder where she gets that sense of humor.

I told her that if I was ever going to do it, the mountains would be the most fitting place, which led to the conversation about my bench. For years, I’ve been telling all three daughters that I want my own bench up in the mountains. I just have to find the right place. It doesn’t even have to be memorial. They can work on it while I’m still here.

After I sent these bench photos they asked, “Why can’t you just use one of those?” When I explained they were already taken, two of them wanted to know if I really expected them to schlep up into the mountains to visit my bench.

ELBEE What is this? “The Price is Right” for benches?


Today I saw a faux leather sofa up on a hill. It screamed pizza and nachos rather than nature and spirituality but it gave me an idea. Why not have the daughters put an exercise bench up in the mountains.

ELBEE I knew it! It’s the new year and this is a thinly veiled excuse to share one of those photos. You know the ones I mean. I’ve tried to get her to stop but Pack Leader will never get over her glory days.


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?






Before and After

There are defining moments in everyone’s life. One of mine was the car accident that I alluded to in my last post. Seven months pregnant with Danielle, the youngest daughter, I was in the front passenger seat during a head on collision. As my head hit the dash board, I broke most of the bones in my face and developed a tangerine sized blood clot on my brain.

I had considered including a photo from the hospital with a shaved head and unrecognizable face but, to be totally honest, the daughter asked that I leave it out. Not to mention, I would have had to put up a warning like they do on TV: this piece contains graphic images.

I gave birth to my daughter a month later. Soon after began the long process of multiple surgeries followed by multiple recoveries. There were moments of depression and defeat but with three daughters, being a 90 pound weakling wasn’t an option. Then I discovered weight lifting, something that nice Jewish girls growing up in Syracuse didn’t do.

Despite the fact that I used to be very shy, after a lot of coaxing, weight lifting led to bodybuilding and my first competition!

20160525_091431_1472427293345_resizedELBEE She used to be shy and I took first place at Westminster.

Yes,  I was shy and almost had to be pushed on stage at that competition. What really got me through was the feeling that it was symbolic of my recovery. And I have to say that winning the first trophy of my non-athletic life was major!

ELBEE Apparently it was so major that she couldn’t stop competing for years.

Since the hospital before and after was off the table, I decided to share a before and after that is one of my favorites from my former life as a bodybuilding carpool mom. During that time I wrote a book called, The Desperate Woman’s Guide to Fitness (The Secret to Aging Like Fine Wine Instead of Going Flat Like Stale Beer). While putting the book together, I worked with Paul Chepikian, an amazingly talented Renaissance man who did the cover. As you can see, he is also one of the best sports I have ever met!

20160404_140354_resizedCHARLEY I try not to be judgmental but that is a little disturbing, I may have to go meditate.

ELBEE Sorry Charley, but I think it’s hilarious!


GUS And people wonder why I’m confused. I’m going to take my chew bone and hide in the closet.


Grandma’s Got “Guns”

The greatest thing happened at the gym. I hate to brag but I had just done 200 pounds on the leg press when a normal, working out kind of guy went over to use the machine.img_0590

20160209_171423-1_resizedDOODS We have to admit that we are a little impressed but saying she “hates” to brag. Really?

As I was saying, he saw how much weight I’d been using, walked over to me, punched his chest twice and said “respect.” That may be one of the coolest compliments I’ve ever received. It ranks up there with the gay friend who told me I was a “timeless woman.” I only mention he was gay because I feel that no one compliments a woman like a gay man.

The gym comment actually meant a lot because I have been on a mission to regain my strength after an injury. A few years ago I tore my rotator cuff in yoga.

20160404_140354_resizedCHARLEY In yoga? That is just embarrassing. I don’t advocate lying but in this case it wouldn’t hurt.

After laying off weight lifting for an extended time and then starting from scratch a year ago, it’s been exciting to find out that all my years of bodybuilding really did build muscle memory. Even though my only goal was to regain strength, people have been commenting on my arms getting bigger. I knew I was making progress when the oldest daughter said, “Oh no, you’re not thinking of competing again!”


THE DOODS Okay, she looks good but why is she sitting in the closet flexing? Also, we’re more concerned with the other memory, the one that makes sure she feeds us on time.

On a serious note, I think that strength in a woman is crucial. As a passenger in a head on car accident when I was pregnant with the youngest daughter, now the mother of two, I had near fatal injuries, including a large blood clot on the brain. The long recovery process left me as a 90 pound weakling. Physically and mentally, weight lifting helped lead me back. More in my next post.