When You Really Want A Dog, But You Get a Purse Instead

My Fashion Show experience ended two days after the actual event.  Late Thursday afternoon, I received an e-mail stating that my mom’s purse had been found in the parking lot.  Yay!  After a couple exchanges, the woman who found it called, and we made plans for a pick up.  This was not as simple as it sounded.  The conversation lasted 40 minutes.

We talked a bit about the Fashion Show itself, and of course, the sweet puppies came up.  I shamelessly threw my husband under the bus.  He was the sole reason I did not bring my little guy home.  The woman must not have heard that part because the next thing I knew, she was telling me all about a puppy she was fostering- -a puppy who needed a home.  Since her street numbers were exactly the same as the street numbers on my mom’s once missing driver’s license and since I had exactly the same name as her daughter, it was my true destiny to bring this puppy home.

In fact, she began planning an overnight for the pup, so the two of us could have a sleepover, a trial run, if you will.  Any number of things began running through my mind.  1) I did not want this puppy.  I wanted the little black one.  2) My husband was not in agreement with taking on the responsibility of a pet at this time.  3) Maybe I would absolutely love this puppy, and Steve would have a change of heart.  4) But the little black puppy had absolutely no one; he needed me more.  5) This was not the kind of woman a person says no to. 6) Holy crap!  I was in a real pickle here.  7) Did my mom really need her purse back?!

I tried again and again to explain that Steve wanted to wait for a bit before having another.  It had not yet been a year since we lost Drake, our 14 year old Australian Shepherd mix.  Steve was not ready.  As disappointed as I was with how he felt about this, I did understand.  Unfortunately, the woman on the phone did not.  Finally, she decided that she would send me a bunch of cute dog pictures and that I would talk to my husband again.  We would see each other the next day when I stopped to pick up the purse, and I could take the puppy then.

I hung up wondering what in the heck just happened!  I swore I said “no, I can’t right now” at least 10 times.  Needless to say, Steve was not at all swayed by this predicament.  Yes, the puppy was very sweet.  No, he had not changed his mind.  I had anxiety induced dreams that night- -something about losing my group on the way to a Harry Potter movie, finding a ride with someone I did not know, and then crashing her car into a curb trying to make a tight turn.  I simply hate disappointing people (and dogs).

Yes, I was incredibly nervous on the drive over to pick up the purse.  I imagined a suitcase, packed and ready to go, sitting on the counter, right next to the purse.  I had not yet worked out a story to explain the presence of a dog in our home.  And while I knew it was wrong, I imagined myself carrying the dog around in a cute tote bag as I ran my errands in town.

I immediately liked the woman who met me at the gate, which made it so much harder

Dulce, another “sweet” San Carlos dog, in need of a loving home.

to say no again in person.  It was obvious that she was kind, compassionate, and truly cared for the animals of San Carlos.  She introduced me to her pack and provided plenty of one on one time for me with Dulce, a beautiful golden girl.  Dulce sat on my lap, rested her chin on my shoulder, and let me tickle her belly.  And while Dulce’s foster was sad I could not take Dulce, she seemed to finally understand that a home with two people who were fully ready to embrace the commitment was best for the dog.

Then she shared that her house was for sale and gave me a tour.  Maybe I would want to buy it.  (At this point I may have uttered a few curses under my breath, directed toward my mother for losing her purse in the first place.)  “Great news, Steve!  I said “no” to the dog and bought a house instead!”

Finally, I got the purse and left.  Sad once again to be leaving a dog behind.

Later that same evening, I learned that the litter of puppies from the Fashion Show had been abandoned, left in the convention center by the people who brought them.  An emergency foster home was found for all.  The foster mom planned on keeping them until they were strong and healthy.  I made contact with a volunteer who knew where they were.  Steve and I are helping out by supplying puppy food and warm blankets.  I have not given up hope that I will be able to bring one home.

Fortunately for the dogs and cats of San Carlos, this is the passion people involved with the SBPA feel for their mission.  They advocate tirelessly for the homeless pet population in our area.  I cannot fault them for their repeated attempts to convince folks to take a dog home.  I may have had a nightmare brought on by some of the pressure and my own guilt.  But at least I had that nightmare in a warm bed, in a safe place, after a nourishing meal, next to someone who loves me.

(Part 3/3)

New York, London, Paris… San Carlos?!

The SBPA Fashion Show is one of the most popular events of the season in San Carlos.  Its cutting edge fashions are not the main reason, of course.  It is much more a party celebrating friendships, as tables are filled with long time acquaintances from pickleball and golf outings, gym classes, and other non-profit groups like Castaway Kids, Rotary, and Club Deportivo.

The doors opened at 11:00, and if you did not lose your purse prior to the start of the show or spend all your money on raffle tickets, there was an open bar ready to serve.  Woman mingled while looking over the items donated to the raffle:  massage and beauty packages, pet care baskets, nature prints, restaurant gift certificates, and jewelry.  In case the drinks at the bar did not give it away, the raffle items did.  This was a ladies’ day.

Well, ladies and puppies.  The fashion show always features a litter of puppies who are desperately in need of a home.  They are placed strategically near the entrance to the banquet hall.  I had a hard time moving past them to get to my seat.  Which was exactly the point, I am sure.  This year’s group came from a small, fishing village to the west of San Carlos.  They were shorthaired, skinny mutts.  I found my soulmate within seconds and began text bombing my husband immediately.

The show had a western theme, and we were entertained by Country Western dance numbers from a very talented group of ladies.  The wine was beginning to do its magic, and the SBPA Board President had a difficult time competing as she outlined the success of the non-profit over the course of the last year.  Since its inception, SBPA San Carlos has performed nearly 30,000 sterilization surgeries at its permanent and mobile clinic locations.  The group also provides wellness checks and vaccines.  In addition, many of its dedicated members foster cats and dogs in emergency situations and help place them in loving homes.

Rescued dogs were the first to strut their stuff on the runway.  This has always been one of my favorite parts of the show for the simple fact that the dogs prance around the stage to the song “Who Let the Dogs Out”.  Even without wine, I pumped my fist high in the air and “barked” the refrain “Who, who, who who?”.  My own mother pretended not to know me.

Local stores provided the fashions for the human models.  Fashion is kind of an understatement.  San Carlos is a beach town after all.  Models mostly wore swimsuit coverups or souvenir t-shirts.  We do have a couple of thrift stores that generate funds for local charity groups that participate each year.   I am convinced they hold their best stuff back for the fashion show.  Not that I would necessarily wear what was being modeled (I am a pretty much “rotate the same five outfits” kind of gal), but I had to admit some of it looked pretty good!  And I did look through the racks at Rescate just a little closer when I stopped by on Saturday.

By this time, the crowd was in a frenzy!  Women were up and out of their chairs dancing and singing. Gretchen Wilson’s “Redneck Woman” was playing on repeat.  All I could hear was “Hell yeah” coming at me from every side of the room.  I had exhausted myself during the dog song, so I just watched with my mouth hanging open, filled with some kind of emotion.  (I laughed and cried- -but in a good way- – while listening to the song again this afternoon.)

thumbnail-5Everyone finally calmed down enough for the raffle drawing.  I did not win.  At least I do not think I did.  It was still pretty loud.  I was also unable to convince my husband that we needed an adorable puppy at this time.  I made sure to get lots of puppy snuggles and leave my e-mail address just in case.  It was a little difficult to smile on my way out.  Not because I did not win a raffle prize.  Because I really wanted that sweet puppy.

Maybe next year I will model a new fashion…  “Someone who loves me went to the SBPA Fashion Show, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”.

(Part 2/3)

The Hostess with the Mostess (Anxiety)

The snowbird season in San Carlos is in full swing.  Besides an influx of folks from north of the border, the winter months also bring numerous opportunities to support many of the wonderful causes near and dear to the hearts of the people who call San Carlos home.  Wednesday was no exception, as the Sociedad Benefactora y Protectora de Animales de San Carlos held their annual Luncheon and Fashion Show at the San Carlos Plaza Hotel.

thumbnailI was in charge of ordering tickets for my group of friends this year.  Not a problem, until I received a “Hostess Guide” in my ticket envelope explaining my responsibilities.  (Note to self:  Lauren is calling for tickets next year.)  Many women “buy” a table and invite their friends for the afternoon of furry friends and fashion.  They then create an incredible theme and decorate their tables and design costumes.  Our group did not fill a table, therefore I assumed we would be seated with another smaller group, not realizing that hostess duties would still be required.  Okay, actually I was hoping that the other smaller group would be in charge of this part.  I can plan a Halloween Party for 27 students in 30 minutes, but for some reason I found the task of organizing a table for the luncheon somewhat overwhelming.

Overwhelming because the one thing I am incredibly OCD about is themes.  (Well, in addition to how the bed is made, towels are folded, and bathmats are laid out on the floor.)  I think it must be a teacher thing that has carried over from my classroom to birthdays, Christmas and other holidays, and now apparently, tables at a charity fundraiser.

The hostess was required to provide a centerpiece for the table, plates, napkins, cutlery, thumbnail
and glassware.  Placements and chair decor were optional.  I decided on a traditional Mexican theme, and matched the colors of the paper flowers in the centerpiece to the colors of my Fiestaware dishes.  But…the day before the event, I spent the afternoon in Guaymas trying desperately to find clay plates and mugs.  (In the true spirit of my theme, you know?)  My go-to-store had apparently decided that clay was out and Tupperware was  in.  Another shop had plates, but the design did not match the one on the pieces I already owned.  (Oops, another item for the OCD list!)  I was stuck with the Fiestaware.

Glassware was another issue.  We have coffee mugs and milk glasses, none of which are very fancy or traditionally Mexican.  A friend loaned me some colorful wine glasses.  Interestingly, I could have skipped this part entirely.  It was listed no where in my “Hostess Guide” that I would need to bring beverages.  Come to find out, the hotel only provided drinks for sale.  Ha!  Before I knew this,  I blew my money on raffle tickets.  And my poor mother lost her coin purse as soon as we arrived that morning.  I may have been the first hostess in the history of the event to dehydrate her guests!  I asked two different waiters if we could have a pitcher of water in my most polite, grammatically correct Spanish.   Tap water even!  I was not going to be picky at this point.  But, both shook their heads sadly.  At any rate the glasses looked great with the plates and flowers, and we had one less thing to wash when it was all over.

thumbnail-1There was not much I could do regarding silverware.  It would have been entirely inappropriate to expect my guests to use corn tortillas, which would have made the most sense authentically speaking.  I did have a tortilla warmer sitting on the table.  One hopeful guest kept looking inside it, as if by magic wine or water would appear.

Throughout the show, ideas kept popping into my head of what I could have done or added.  It did not help that some of the tables and costumes were so elaborately done.  There was obviously a lot of planning involved that took much longer than a week to work out.  I started making a mental list so I was better prepared the next time.  Water, headwear, water…   And then I remembered.  I am not calling for the tickets next year.  Lauren is.

(Part 1/3)

This Ain’t Your Grandma’s Bingo!

This past weekend the San Carlos Rotary held their annual Cow Plop Bingo event to raisethumbnail-3 money for facility and equipment needs at the primary and secondary Ranchitos schools in San Carlos.  True, I am a midwest girl, and Indiana does have a lot of farms.  But the state rates in the top five nationally for production of corn and soybeans.  And animals raised include swine, poultry, and, recently, fish.  So, Bingo with cows was not something I had experienced before.  While the name is somewhat self explanatory, I was very eager to see how exactly this would work.

thumbnail-2The very first thing I observed when we arrived was the Bingo board.  It was painted on a large, open tract of land in the desert.  There were so many squares!  I thought I had purchased plenty of tickets, but after seeing the board, I knew this was going to be a crapshoot.  (Pardon my pun.) The board was marked off with yellow police tape.   Hmmm.  I hoped the cows understood what the tape meant.  Just in case they did not, there were vaqueros mounted on horseback; their lassos at the ready.

About every hour or so, a cow was led onto the playing field to wander around.  He was thumbnail-1surrounded by cowboys, who apparently knew the police tape was just for show.  The idea was that the cow would poo, and the person whose ticket matched the square the poo landed in would win part of the day’s jackpot.  Well, going to the bathroom in front of a large crowd, whether you are a human or a cow, can be a tad intimidating.  So, sometimes it took a while.

While the crowd waited for the action, they danced and sang to the festive music blasting from speakers.  Horses even got into the celebration, showing off their fancy footwork.  There were ribs, hot dogs, and elote, slathered with mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, and tajín to snack on.  Beer, water, and soft drinks were sold.  Pickup trucks were parked along the sides of the Bingo board.  Families sat in the beds enjoying the picnics they had packed and thumbnailsharing coolers of Tecate.

One women became so impatient with the cow, she charged up on stage, grabbed the mike from the emcee, and began demanding that the cow “go”.  The crowd joined in, chanting with her.   Other observers waved their arms over their heads to get the cow’s attention and then pointed at their squares.  Yes, watching Cow Plop Bingo was a bit like watching golf.  After about forty-five minutes, we had a winner!  Well, several winners.  Nervous cows do not plop, they spray!

Needless to say, I did not win one of the three jackpots.  I will  bring my Troll dolls next time or find a lucky cowboy hat!  It was a wonderful day of community and strong show of support for our youngest members.  And truly, that is the best prize.

My Internet Pain Is (Finally) My Dad’s Gain

The good news is that I can now receive WhatsApp and Messenger messages from family and friends wherever I happen to be.  Downtown Guaymas, the beach, on a boat in the Sea of Cortez, and even my house should the internet crash and burn.  That is the bad news- -and the reason I can now be reached wherever I am.  Sometime last Wednesday afternoon our internet died a horrible death.  We are used to somewhat sporadic service, so we waited a day to see if it was a Telemex problem.  It was not.  After trying to call to report the issue, we realized our phone was dead as well.

Yes, if I had only listened to my father a year ago or so, I would have been able to call Telemex on my cell phone to schedule an appointment.  But, since I did not, I had to write a note to Steve explaining why he was going to have to handle this. I gave the note to my mom, who is thankfully on vacation in San Carlos right now, to take to her house.  She copied my note as a text message, and sent it to my husband.  Had we known that Telemex never answers their phone, I could have just driven over and explained in person.  Since we did not, and Steve could not reach me, he had that honor.  At any rate, a claim was filed, and we were told we could expect a response in three to five days.

I panicked.  How would I bombard Caleb with texts all day asking him how he was doing, making sure he had food and was warm enough?  I was at risk of losing my Word With Friends games with my dad by timing out.  I absolutely hate to lose, and he beats me on a regular enough basis as it is.  I had important e-mails I needed to access regarding a charitable fundraiser, Spanish class, and a book discussion.  I needed to update my reading list on Goodreads.  I was missing news reports of Trump’s most recent shenanigans.  Never mind that Steve might actually have real work he needed to do from home.

Yes, I am well aware of how very shallow this sounds.  I think people who “tweet” have a hashtag they use to describe my whining over such insignificant “problems”.  I was not proud of my reaction, but there it was.  It was startling to discover how much I depended on technology now that it was available to me.  (Well, up until Wednesday.)

Bright and early Saturday morning, Telemex arrived to fix the problem.  The technician looked at one of the phone junction boxes across from our house.  He drove down the street to look at another.  He came inside and listened to our phone.  He looked down a little hole in the dirt in the yard next door.  He said the problem was with the wire underground.  He could not fix it; we lived on private property.  He explained that the realtor managing the property next door had been trying for six months to get this fixed, as it affected his listing also.  And then he drove off, not looking back even once.

Steve headed across the street to discuss the problem with the gentleman who rents us our house.  Our addition’s maintenance man, Julio, joined them in a discussion around the little hole in the dirt.   Once he understood the problem, he said he could fix it.  He needed a work order from the hotel next door, since the hotel is kind of, sort of the owner of the addition.  Steve and I headed to the hotel for a work order (and to Oxxo for a Sim card and Amigo Plan minutes).  Our landlord/neighbor attacked the water line cover with a pickax.  (He swears the problem was caused by three guys working on a water leak with a jackhammer.)

A neighbor happened by this group and commented that it must be a government job; one guy working, and three standing around.

While I tried to figure out what my new Amigo Plan included, there was a meeting of the minds happening around the little hole in the dirt.  Given the news that a work order was pending, Julio, got right to work.  The others were just there for moral support, I guess.  Within minutes, Julio found and replaced a corroded connector.  We still had no phone or internet, but we were all a little encouraged by this development.  After a two hour long inspection of the underground wire (how this happened, I do not know), Julio concluded that the wire was “no buena”.  His plan was to run a new wire on Monday.

No wire was run today.  We are following up on that work order.  Telmex is still not answering their phone.  In the meantime, I have read three books and completed five crossword puzzles.  I joined a yoga class.  I have also finished a chapter in my Spanish workbook and written three blog posts.  I am now contemplating a jigsaw puzzle.

(Thank you to Shots Bar for the wifi hookup this afternoon.)

A Whale of a Time

Caleb has always been a reader.  He favored non-fiction, so I had the opportunity to learn alongside him when he was small.  His interests varied, but there was usually an animal book or two in the large stack we brought home from the library or purchased ourselves.  We were both fascinated with whale sharks, and he owned multiple books about this amazing animal.

IMG_5423So there was absolutely no way we were going to miss out on the opportunity to snorkel with them while we were in Baja California Sur- -even if it meant Caleb needed to wake up two hours earlier than he would have liked to during a break from school and spend hours in a cramped van with 15 strangers.  Interestingly, we had no problems locating him this time when our ride picked us up at the hotel.

We were first taken to the company “hub”.  While Steve and I checked in, Caleb located a Starbucks.  (His day just kept getting better and better).  We met our fellow snorkelers and guides and loaded onto another van for the trip to La Paz, about an hour and forty-five minutes north of Cabo San Lucas.  We scanned the Pacific Ocean on our left for humpback whales and enjoyed the beautiful desert vista on our right.  It was the best of both worlds, and the trip went quickly.

Once we arrived in La Paz, we did not mess around!  We lined up for wetsuits,DCIM100GOPROG0049310. flippers. snorkels, and masks.  In mere minutes, we were heading down the malecón toward the panga boats waiting for us at the dock.

During our walk, our guide explained that La Paz had recently moved to protect the bay where the whale sharks feed.  Mangrove trees, lining an island in the middle of the bay, were important in the creation of plankton, the whale sharks’ food source.  All boats entering the bay were chipped and monitored from shore to insure they did not violate the rules in place.  If they did, captains risked losing their boating licenses for the following year.

Due to the protections, there was a limit to the number of boats allowed in the bay at a time.  While we waited our turn, we chatted with the guide and learned that his parents lived in Guaymas.  Granted, we probably should have used this time to cover snorkeling basics, but it was much more fun to listen to him reminisce about his favorite beach bar in San Carlos and discuss other hot spots.  Hindsight being 20/20, the tips probably would have been a better idea!

DCIM100GOPROG0179375.Basically, our instructions were to jump over the side of the boat and move toward the whale shark, giving him six feet of space on the sides and front and nine feet around the tail.  That sounded simple enough.   I jumped in, not at all expecting the entire Sea of Cortez to come streaming in my snorkel.  As soon as I cleared it out, I was smacked in the face by a wave.

Some whale sharks stay in one place and feast; others like to play tag.  We had a lot of swimmers!  This meant we were constantly on the move (and constantly being smacked in the face by waves).  Cough, clear snorkel, take a breath, get hit in the face with a wave, drink some sea water, repeat.  Eventually, I abandoned the snorkel and just held my breath.

I am not complaining.  I had it much better than the guy whose wife planned thisDCIM100GOPROG0209392. outing for their second wedding anniversary.  While she gave chase to the whale shark, he was pummeled over and over by the sea, never once getting the opportunity to catch his breath and never getting further than three feet from the boat.  I have a feeling he will be planning next year’s anniversary trip, if the marriage survived this one.

Fortunately, we had one older whale shark who was not at all bothered by people watching him eat.  The sea was teeming with plankton.  He found his spot and was not moving.  I was in awe.  There could not be anything more incredible than experiencing this.  I was completely lost in the moment…


Until I remembered the six/nine rule!  Holy crap!  It looked like I was close enough to touch this guy.  I vaguely remembered the guide mentioning that the whale shark might startle and accidentally hit a person with one of his fins.  The current that had been feeding me waves was now holding me in place under water!  Or was it moving me even closer?  (It is, of course, quite possible that I had no idea what I was doing with those flippers and causing my own problems.)  Eventually, I surfaced and made it back to the boat, only to learn that our face masks made things look closer than they actually were.

It was impossible to keep up with what Caleb and Steve were doing underwater, IMG_5421so I was very pleased to see the two of them on the boat and happy as we headed back to shore.  The trip included a delicious fish taco and fettuccine Alfredo lunch.  Wait.  What?  And the tequila shots took the taste of any salt water out of Steve and Caleb’s mouths.   And they also probably saved that one marriage.

It was an unforgettable day on the water.  The ride back was very quiet (again, thanks to the tequila).  I said a little prayer thanking God for making my son a reader and an animal lover. I also thanked him for giving me Steve, who should have learned his lesson by now but continues to let me plan our vacations anyway.

Man Overboard!

We planned a couple of special activities while we were in Cabo San Lucas.  The first was a glass-bottomed kayak and snorkeling trip to Land’s End and Cabo’s “famous” arch.  Our guides arrived a tad earlier than we expected them, and Steve and I had a moment of panic when we could not locate Caleb.  After waking his neighbors pounding on his hotel room door, Steve found him in the restaurant (wondering what all the fuss was about, no doubt).  We all loaded ourselves into the van, picked up the remaining members of our group, and headed to the beach.

Steve and Caleb must have discussed logistics and kayak assignment beforehand because the next thing I knew I was being pawned off on the guide.  The joke was on them.  Here was my chance to receive expert one on one training!  As it turned out, in addition to paddling tips, I also received a history and geography lesson of the area from our guide.  And there no fear of falling out of the kayak this time.  This trip was definitely a win-win for me!

thumbnailThe bay was full of boats:  pirate ships, pangas, sailboats, and other kayaks.  Due to the number of boats, the water was a bit choppy near the Arch, so we waited for some of the traffic to clear out before entering the somewhat enclosed area where it is located.  I was hoping for an excited reception from the sea lions who lounge in the area.  Unfortunately, we were not the first visitors of the day, and they were no longer interested.  I guess if you have seen one tourist you have seen them all!  It was at this point, Steve most likely questioned his judgment in choosing Caleb over me for the first time.  A lone male sea lion dove into the water.  Like a flash, Caleb maneuvered their kayak closer.

Meanwhile, I was benefitting once again from being with the guide.  He held us steady so thumbnail-1I could focus on taking photos.  It was a bit intimidating to think there was nothing but water, a lot of water, beyond the last rock outcropping.   Instead, I focused on how small the Arch looked.  (Of course, anything in the Pacific would look small.)  I felt immediately guilty for expecting something bigger because it truly was amazing and beautiful.  Then I wondered if I was the sort of person who would see Mt. Everest and comment on how I thought it would be taller.  This led to an internal lecture on being grateful and appreciating the miracle of nature, blah, blah, blah.

We did not have far to paddle before stopping again to snorkel.  Given that we did not pull our kayaks out of the water, I opted to stay aboard and continue to serve as trip photographer.  Honestly, I could just not get past the vision of myself splayed across the thumbnail-2kayak trying to get back in.  Yes, I have been doing some arm work.  No, I was not quite ready to power myself out of the sea onto a boat.  Sea lions look cool sprawled out on the rocks.  Me, on the back of a kayak, not so much.  Steve had never snorkeled before, so I documented this “first”.  Caleb had snorkeled plenty, but it was a terrific opportunity for a new “Insta” photo!

Everyone made it safely back on and in their kayaks, and we headed to shore.  I was preening, listening to the guide tell me what a strong, consistent paddling form I had, when we were surprised by a sudden splash.  Apparently, while I was contemplating asking the guide if he could repeat this in front of my family, one of Caleb’s flippers slipped off the back of his kayak.  In an effort to save his parents the cost of replacing it, he reacted quickly to get it back, losing his hat and sunglasses in the process.  Caleb jumped off of the kayak and into the water, without giving Steve a head’s up.  The kayak was thrown off balance, and Steve was thrown into the water.  The flipper and hat were saved.  The sunglasses and Steve’s dignity were not.

I tried really hard not to gloat on the van ride back to the hotel.  The guide did indeed inform my family of my mad kayak skills.  And I was completely dry.