A New Book and a New Blog Everyone!


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In Search Cover

Hey followers and casual readers of this humble blog,

two announcements from Casa de Coyle.

New Book!

New Blog!

First of all, I finally published my book, In Search of Beef Stroganoff!

Yes. Really. No lie. I kid you not.

You can find it here on Amazon. I’ll wait while you go check it out.

Now that you are back and have put away your credit card, you undoubtedly noticed my whopping fourteen 5-star reviews. This writer’s buttons are busting.

For those of you who knew me when I was struggling to find the words to summarize my book, with the help the reviewers’ comments, I now know how to describe my book! Well, sorta. I still have an interminable internal disconnect in being able to up with an “elevator speech” for the darn thing.

Ripped from the reviews, I present the following:

  • Complex, relatable, believable, lovable characters you wished were your friends . . . reading the book is like talking to a friend.
  • An intimate tale that is funny, yet heartwarming, giving you a wonderful place to escape.
  • Wonderful, skillful imagery and detail of the story’s scenes, people, and places.
  • Mouthwatering dishes and memorable food play a central character in the story.
  • The writing is delectable, warm, and satisfying – like comfort food for the mind.
  • The food descriptions will make you hungry and inspire you to hit the kitchen.
  • It has the kind of romantic love and friendships you yearn for.
  • A tale of self-discovery, personal exploration, redemption, life transformations, self-forgiveness, and growth.
  • It is the simple things in life that matter.

Aw shucks, book reviewers, you made me blush.

The second big announcement is that I am moving my blog, and hopefully my followers, to a new site. You can find me, my blog posts, and I over here:


I have come out of semi-retirement from blogging and will be posting again with vigor. Or at least with less anemia that what has happened here over the past couple of years.

I’ve written two posts about current “the world in which we live in” (grammar, Sir Paul, mind your grammar). You may find them amusing.

I hope you find it in your heart to keep up with me over there. It would be lonely without you!

Be well, and remember to wash your hands.


Something positive has to come out of this, right?


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This blogger has been absent for a long time (hello old friends), but the current world situation has had me thinking.

Everywhere we turn there is heartbreaking and dire news about the Coronavirus. You can’t get away from it, and frankly, we want to stay informed. But it is taking a toll on our spirit, mental health, and the number of hours we are able to sleep. And on our waistline. And our liquor store bill.

As such, I thought, what good could possibly come out of all this? There must be something, right? Some little light at the end of the proverbial tunnel? Maybe not a neon beacon of light, but I’ll take a glimmer, spark, a flicker . . . anything at this point.

I predict we can look forward to these truths . . .

First responders and medical personnel will now be our heroes instead of athletes and movie stars who have more money than they know what to do with.

Truck drivers, janitors, hotel maids, sanitation workers, and the like, will finally get the credit they are due. Their jobs are hard, often thankless, and we will fully realize how we couldn’t get along without them.

Parents who are now home-schooling their children will support massive pay-raises for teachers and childcare providers in the future.

We will never take a roll of toilet paper for granted again.

The number of babies conceived during the initial stages of the pandemic will be high and that number will greatly taper off as the crisis got worse. Regardless, we will have lots of new ones to love!

Divorce rates will soar, but maybe those marriages were doomed anyway.

Less produce and leftovers be thrown away because people will have learned that food can be/might be scarce in ways we didn’t know since the Great Depression. We will no longer take having food for granted.

People will have reconnected to friends and family they haven’t talked to in ages. Maybe age-old fences will be mended. The need for personal connection, not a Facebook poke, is what is important.

Strangers who might never have exchanged two words will have had meaningful conversations.

Some local businesses may not recover, but they will know that their community cared and tried to help out as much as possible.

Returns of purchases of unused goods, clothing, and luxury items will soar as people reprioritize what how they spent their money and now realize they really didn’t need it.

Children will demand to play outside instead of begging for just one more hour playing a video game.

Book sales will continue to soar after the crisis because people will have discovered, or rediscovered, their love of reading

Thrift stores will be inundated with donations when the crisis is over because people will have had time to clean out cupboards and reassess what they really need.

People who had never sewn a stitch, but made face masks for our medical personnel, will find that sewing gives them great pleasure and will continue to sew.

There will be a sustained return to the kitchen in the pursuit of making comfort food instead of grabbing dinner on the run. Homemade pie anyone?

Projects around the house that have languished for days, months, or years, will find themselves happily completed. (I’m talking to you, photos albums I haven’t worked on in years.)

Helping neighbors, seniors, or strangers will continue because people will find that it feels really good to do so.

Political, media, and social media bickering will diminish because we will now know, “we won’t get through this if we don’t do it together.”

Social influencers will focus on the greater good instead of themselves and promoting their latest line of make-up or ridiculous self-serving Instagram posts.

I don’t know if it is just happening in our household, but it appears that the Coronavirus has killed off a lot of robo-callers! We used to get dozens a day.

Someone will invent a creative new way to do a group hug.

Pets will have a new level of fitness and mental happiness from all the time with their humans.


That was my initial list of ideas. I’ll probably come up with more, but what positive outcome(s) would you add to this list?

I believe it was William F. Buckley (I’m also not sure if it was Mr. Senior or Junior) who said:

“Industry is the enemy of melancholy.”

Amen to that.

Be safe and get industrious! It will help your tired brain and soul.














Update on one sick puppy . . .


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Howdy, friends!

Back in November (click here) I told you all about our daughter’s sick puppy . . . sweet Echo. The situation broke our hearts and more that a few tears have been shed since Echo’s diagnosis. In short, a congenital condition prohibited her liver from filtering the toxins in her blood, which meant her body was poisoning her.


Echo at her lowest point before diagnosis. Heartbreaking.

The only options were to put her down (not an option for our daughter), treat her with a special diet and medicine with the hope she might live for a few years, or have her undergo a costly surgery.

Our daughter launched a Go Fund Me campaign in the hopes of raising money to help pay for the surgery. To her great surprise and delight, dog-lovers rallied around Echo’s cause and a ton, and I mean a boatload, of money came pouring in. Not just money, but moral support, advice, and goodwill. Thank you to the readers of this humble blog for your donations and posting about the situation on your social media outlets. It truly is heartwarming. Thank you, thank you.

Echo had the 4-hour surgery last Friday and so far it seems to be a success! Thank the stars, the moon, and all things doggone good in this world. She is supposed to lay-low for two weeks while she recovers from the procedure, but try telling that to a puppy . . . especially try telling that to a puppy who is feeling better!

Happy pup!

Echo rockin’ an Elizabethan collar.



One sick puppy . . . and she needs your help


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Hello blogging friends! I jump-started my blogging routine a couple of months ago and then, what do you know, it fizzled. The reason? Who knows!? I’m sure you have all experienced the same thing.

However, I am moved to do a blog post today because this precious 4-month-old puppy needs your help. Help from all of us. Let me explain . . .

Our daughter Paige is a crazy dog lover. Not a lover of crazy dogs, but is nutty over dogs. Actually, we all are. But, back to Paige being a dog nut . . . ever since she met an English Cream Golden Retriever several years ago, she has longed to have one of these gorgeous dogs in her life.

That dream came true in September when this little nugget came into her life.



Look at all that puppy-goodness!

Needless to say, I was head-over-heels in love as well.


Echo was enjoying all the shoe-chewing, rough housing, and public adoration that such an adorable puppy should be bestowed.


But something wasn’t quite right. People commented on how mellow she was. She had days where she was mopey and whiney. Echo appeared to sleepwalk and then bump into walls. The strange behavior wasn’t an everyday thing, so Paige wasn’t terribly concerned. Until one horrible day . . .

Echo started to foam at the mouth, have seizures, and was completely out of it. Paige rushed her to the vet in a panic, thinking Echo was about to die.


I got a heartbreaking phone call from Paige while she was in the examination room at the vet’s office as they ran tests on Echo. Paige and the puppy were a mess.

All of you parents out there know how awful it is to have your child in such emotional pain and you can’t do anything to ease that excruciating sadness. I wanted to carry the burden for her or magically make it go away, but here wasn’t a damn thing I could do and it about killed me.


To make a long story short, Echo didn’t die that night. The vet was able to stabilize her and sent her home with medicine and a strict diet. A week later they did a CT scan and confirmed their suspicions . . . Echo has a congenital condition where her liver can’t filter her blood properly. In essence, her system was poisoning her.

On a side note, Echo’s breeder has an excellent reputation and uses impeccable breeding procedures. She was stunned about Echo’s condition and in all the years she has been breeding Goldens, none of her puppies have had this birth defect.

But there is hope for little Echo. Surgery can correct the liver defect. But it is costly . . . to the tune of $10,000.

Shocking, right? But what do you do when you are faced with a sick dog, but fortunately something can be done about it? Echo is not a lost cause. However, without the surgery, the toxins in her system will irreversibly damage her organs and greatly cut her life short.

You can read the full story about Echo’s condition and what needs to happen in order for her to have a full, normal and pawsome life here at:  Go Fund Me.

I write today to ask if you can help sweet Echo’s cause and make a donation at Go Fund Me. Any donation, large or small, will make it possible for Echo to undergo this crucial surgery. It is uncomfortable asking for money, but some causes are worthy of being in an uncomfortable place. For me, this precious girl is one of those causes.


It is hard to believe her liver is silently killing her.

If you can’t donate, keep Echo in your thoughts, re-blog this post, and/or share the Echo’s Go Fund Me  link on your social media outlets.

I thank you. Paige thanks you. Echo says “arf,” which is dog-speak for “thank you.”


Isn’t it appropriate that a dog’s paw pad is in the shape of a heart?


Taking a Stance on Stance Underwear


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Those of you who know me, know that I am not one to wax poetic about men’s underwear.

Will whoever just snorted kindly leave the premises?

Back to the topic of men’s underwear . . .

My husband and I were in Huntington Beach, CA recently and stopped in Jack’s Surfboards on the prowl for cute surfers, er, um, ahem, cough, I mean, cute board shorts. Jack’s is a mecca for all things beach and surfing.

A display for Stance underwear caught my eye. Not that I was in the market for men’s underwear, but the packaging and cool-surfer-dude-ness of it made me stop to look. Stance also makes jazzy socks.

I said to my husband, “Honey, this looks like incredibly comfy underwear,” which was code for, “Isn’t it time you threw out those ratty boxers you have been wearing?”

He naively took that bait and bought several pairs of said underwear. Mission accomplished.

The next morning, he opened his new box of Stance undergarments-for-males. Lo and behold, in addition to a pair of hip-and-happening boxers, a nine-inch plastic ruler was included in the box just like the prize inside of Cracker Jacks.

I kid you not.

My husband said, “Why in the world would they put such a small ruler in this box of underwear?”

Thanks to my uncanny ability to maintain a sense to decorum and composure at all times, after a mere five minutes, I was able to pick myself off the floor and wipe the tears o’laughter off my face.

It wasn’t what my husband said or how he said it. (But what he said was pretty darn funny.) What cracked me up was the thought that in the Stance corporate boardroom, someone in a suit and tie brought up the idea of including a ruler in their boxes of men’s underwear. And then the motion passed. It could be that the motion-maker had his hat on backwards and was sporting underwear-revealing saggy pants. That is probably more like it. Only in America, folks.

I have not been paid to tout the company Stance (they owe me one), but you gotta hand it to them. Putting a ruler in a package of men’s underwear is a pretty darn clever gimmick. And funny. And kinda gross.

Take a Stance

No, I am not airing my husband’s dirty laundry. 





Moms are the Original Google


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I recently did a mild rant HERE on how the Internet has taken over the world. I am grateful for the ability to instantly order an anti-wrinkle cream, learn about hair loss, and find out why my knee makes that weird clicking noise. I am frankly relieved I can instantly remove my crows feet with the click of a cheery “Order Here” link.

Can’t figure out how to spell the word “nausea?” Google it! Have a mysterious fungus on your hydrangea or whatever? Google it! Need to remove hard water stains on your bathroom faucet? Google it! (Or as my beloved uncle would say, “Google that up!”)

There was a lovely story on CBS This Morning about the New York City Public Library’s “Human Google.” There are real people sitting behind real desks who field real questions at the library’s “Ask Desk.” You can click here or call 917-ASK-NYPL and ask a live human being (as opposed to a dead human being) anything your little heart desires. I imagine they try to keep questions they field in the realm of PG-13 topics.

With access to tomes, research, and all things smarty-pants, the Human Google person will get you your answer! They may even consult the Internet in their quest to do your bidding. But one can assume that the person who resorts to calling Mr. or Ms. Human Google has already exhausted Mr. or Ms. Robot Google as reliable informant.

Those Human Google folks admit it might take them a tad longer than Robot Google on finding the more obscure tid-bits of information. But heck, the wait is worth it because if you have a burning need to know about monkey solicitation, wait no more!

“I am looking for a New York City law that prohibits solicitation by monkeys.”

Human Google will tell you the law dates back to 1887.

I can sleep at night now that I know that nugget of information.

In all seriousness, I think it is really cool that there is an information desk that isn’t in cyberspace.

Speaking of an information desk that is not in cyberspace (well, sorta), witness this recent text exchange with my daughter:

Daughter: “Mom, I’m going to the grocery store. What is your recipe for baked brie?”

Me: “I’m at the cabin and don’t have the baked brie recipe on me. Google it!”

Daughter: “Isn’t texting your mom the same thing as going on Google?”

So, moms are the original Human Google. Okay, dads might be too.

This post is for you, Audra, my Human Google friend!


This is Patience. Or he could be Fortitude. I always get them confused. New York Public Library needs to get them dog tags. Er, lion tags.

Boring Details


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I’ve written about this before, as have many of you writers.

When you write a manuscript for a novel, short story, poem, or whatever, you look at your words with a critical (aka incredibly harsh) eye.

Do the words say what you mean to say?

Do the words move the story along?

Are the words worthy of a reader’s time?

Are the words complete and utter drivel?

As a result of such scrutiny of my own words, I inadvertently do the same review of the words in the books I read. It has rather spoiled the pleasure of a quiet afternoon with a book (or Kindle) on my lap.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. I am reading a book with an interesting storyline, good character development, and moves along nicely. Except, and this is a big except, the author spends way too much time and ink on mundane details.

We find ourselves with our protagonist at a pivotal moment in her life. Her husband cheated on her and she learned that the man she knows as her father might not be her father. She needs to clear her head and think about the implications of these revelations. The author writes of the momentous moment as such:

“I pulled into the parking lot of Glacier Point, put the car in park, turned off the ignition, took off my seatbelt, opened the door, and walked to look at the view. I felt more calm with Half Dome before me.”

Really? Your husband cheated on you and I should care that you parked your car and took off your seatbelt? Honey, what you need is a shot of Jack Daniels.

Being the editor in my head that I am, I said to myself, “So, smarty pants, since you think you are God’s gift to writing, how would you capture the moment?”

So on a lark (you know how we writers love to write on a lark), I took a stab at capturing what the woman was feeling in the face of devastating news.

“My troubled heart longed for the peace that can be found while gazing upon serenity of Yosemite Valley. I went to Glacier Point and uncorked my bottle of wine as I walked to the edge of the cliff. Without having to mediate, a blanket of calm came over me. God’s church was before me and with that, I could begin to breathe again. Faltering breaths, but they were deeper than any I had taken in days.”

Maybe not Nobel Prize winning prose, but I would say it is better than a description of how to park a car. It is the whole “show don’t tell” thing.

If you write about someone brushing their teeth because they threw up after a drinking binge, you don’t need to tell your reader that they took the cap off the tube of toothpaste, wet the toothbrush, put toothpaste on the toothbrush, brushed their teeth, spit the foam into the sink, and then dried off their mouth.

Maybe you should write:

“With three too many martinis under my belt and an unfortunate encounter with Julio, my head felt like lead and my teeth were wearing wool sweaters. After an intimate moment with my toilet while on my knees, I turned on the bathroom light. It seared my eyes like the searchlights at Alcatraz. When I groped for my toothbrush, every prescription bottle in my medicine cabinet flew like hail over my bathroom floor. I really needed to stop drinking and dump Julio, or whatever his name is.”

The point here is if your character drank too much on an evening out, we don’t need to know the color of her toothbrush. We need to know the color of Julio’s eyes. Use your words to tell us the juicy bits.

Is it just me, or do you want to know more about this Julio dude?

Half Dome

That is a view that can help calm a destroyed heart.







Our Electronic Age


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Well, folks. It is official and remember, you heard it here first.

We are living in an electronic age. Shocking, right?

Smartphones, computers, tablets, and ebooks are ubiquitous. For those of you who don’t have a dictionary app on your phone, ubiquitous is a fancy-schmancy word for everywhere.

The Internet is at our fingertips and boy, do we use it. It has changed the way we go about our daily lives. We use the Internet to make airline and dinner reservations, play games, pay bills, monitor the temperature of our house, find a life-partner or even a date, look at our lab results, correspond with friends, family, and foes, and waste countless hours watching cute puppy videos on YouTube. Guilty as charged, Your Honor.

The way we communicate with others is drastically different than it was just a few years ago. We “talk” to our friends via FaceBook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter, blog posts, email, and texting. Sure, we still pick up the phone, but now it is to get on the Internet in order to avoid having an actual conversation with an actual person.

They (I have no idea who the ‘they’ are) say we are entering the Brick and Mortar Store Ice Age. Why go to the mall when you can shop and compare prices online without having to leave the comfort of your La-Z-Boy lounger? Your purchase arrives on your doorstep practically as soon as you log-off and shipping was probably free.

I fly a great deal and I am still astonished to see that most people in the airport and on the airplane are staring at an electronic device. When I see someone reading a real book, I want to welcome them to the 21st century.

I am not saying that all of the above is a bad thing. This electronic age has helped propel rapid technological breakthroughs, reunited family members and old friends, and with the help of WebMD, we can now all diagnose our elbow cancer without the aid of a medical professional.

But not all of it is a great thing either. With this rather faceless way to communicate, bullies can become brazen, inappropriate comments or photos can be forwarded, and terrorists can learn how to make a bomb with a few quick keystrokes. I’m sure all of you are thinking, “Yeah, and Robin can write another boring blog post.”

I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. But read on to find out something you may not know.

An article in today’s paper was about a possible unexpected outcome of the invention of the Internet. But when you really think about it, it isn’t that surprising.

The journal Archives of Sexual Behavior published a study that showed that young millennials (those born in the early 1990s) are half as sexually active in their 20s than previous generations. Yes, that means they are more sexually inactive.

Various experts weighed in on the possible causes of this dramatic decline in romantic sex and just plain hook-ups. Let’s look at a few . . .

  • Women are feeling more empowered to say, “Hands off, buddy,” from all of the high-profile sexual harassment stories in the news and discussions in school and at home.
  • Because people are primarily communicating with electronics, they have trouble forming person-to-person romantic connections.
  • Unrealistic expectations of body image cause women to shy away from sexual experiences.
  • They were the first to grow up in the era of smartphones and are leery of getting close to someone in case they become cyberbullied and sexually harassed via any number of electronic outlets.
  • Drunken college hook-ups are no longer viewed as a scandalous way to rebel. It is merely a tawdry way to lose your reputation and get an STD.
  • They have been pressured by helicopter-moms to excel in school and then in their careers so are unfamiliar with having the downtime it takes to get to really know someone and fall in love, or fall in bed.
  • When they are alone with someone, both parties are usually looking at their smartphone or computer screen.
  • Porn is quicker and accessible.
  • There is an increase in the use of antidepressants, which can deaden emotions and curtail sex drive.
  • Their parents are from the generation of free-love and high divorce rates. Staying away from romantic relationships is safer.

I have to say that all of that makes perfect sense, but I suspect that the biggest thing causing the drop in physical sex is the Internet and the way kids now communicate. Staring into a boy’s eyes on his FaceBook page isn’t nearly as romantic as staring into the depth of his soul on the backseat of his parents’ car.

On a semi-related side note, there is a sign in my neighborhood advertising “Social Skills Classes for High Schoolers.” That is the problem with social media . . . ironically, it is killing real social skills.

William 1

Even my dog in addicted to the Internet.




Outward Hound


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No, the title of this blog post is not a typo. Read on . . .

My family and I love to hike. Well, I should clarify that statement. They love to hike and I love to hike myself up on a barstool and order a cold one. My husband and girls are more interested in scaling peaks like this monster:


“I believe I’ll sit this one out. I hear a glass of chardonnay yodeling my name.”

Or this one:

Grand Teton Afternoon

“Don’t worry, family. I’ll keep the search and rescue team on speed-dial.”

I think they are crazy.

Every now and then, I’ll begrudgingly agree to go on a hike as long as there is the promise of a picnic lunch in a pristine location at the end of the trail. Like this one:

FullSizeRender 38

Great spot for a picnic, eh? 

One obstacle we face when we consider going on a hike is what to do with our dog William. He is a miniature dachshund and his idea of fun is hiking up to a bowl of dog treats. I don’t blame him. His legs are about 6 inches long and he has to take twenty steps to one of mine. He is what you would call indoorsy.

We found what we thought would be the perfect solution to our dilemma. It is a backpack called a Pooch Pouch made by a company called Outward Hound. Their tag line is “Raise the Woof.”

FullSizeRender 40

Okay, in truth we bought the backpack because we loved the name and the play on words amused.

William was less than amused.

FullSizeRender 39

William is what you would call, “not a happy camper.”

The Pooch Pouch is well-constructed, has zippered pockets, mesh sides, padded shoulder straps, etc. The idea of it seemed like William’s Ticket to Paradise (sorry Eddie Money).

However, the design is not dog-friendly. William considered it a form of torture. He couldn’t get comfortable and wanted his head out of the top, which meant he was strangulated for the 4-mile hike. Because there is no structure to the pouch part of the Pooch Pouch, it is the equivalent of cramming your dog into a well-ventilated gunnysack and throwing it on your back. The hike made William slightly seasick. Or should I say hike-sick.

I don’t think he has forgiven us.


“Look at the gray hair that hike gave me!”


Won thing a bout otto-correct . . .


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Won grate thing I really enjoy about otto-correct and spell-cheque is that ewe don’t need two worry a bout making typos. Otto-correct bales you out of a whole! I can’t bare too make mistakes. Like my righting piers, I have a flare for righting, which is awl dew two my patients at the keyboard and a hole lot of hard work. Otto-correct makes you’re job as a righter is much easier.

But I use lots of fowl language when I type fore ate hours and then my computer crashes when I take a brake two bye a peace of pi. It is undo punishment! When that happens I want too hop on a plain two Aruba, which is a beautiful aisle. Ore go out for some ail at my local pub. You pore you heart and sole into something and then have two prey it won’t be throne into oblivion by a vary evil heroin hoo has come too medal. I’m libel two ripe my hair out. What a jamb for a rider too bee in. It is reel in tents. It makes me want two dye right on the sight, ball my I’s out until I am blew in the face, and clothes up shop. It’s just not fare.

I here some righters have learned the hard lessen and role with the punches. Not me . . . I stay soar for daze. And I am likely too whale for a weak. By I am knot a loud two dew that. My Ant Alice and my bow Richard are vary strict a bout my manors. Butt they always say, “There, they’re, their.”

Oh gosh, that was painful to right, er, uh, ahem . . . I mean write.

All jokes and terrible writing aside, my iPhone autocorrected the word “excellent” to “excrement” in a text to our daughter. The pour poor girl didn’t know what to think.

I know you can disable autocorrect, but sometimes the autocorrectedness (is that a word?) of it all amuses.

Ron Burgandy



Our Daughter is Home Safe and Sound from Afghanistan . . . Thank Goodness


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I didn’t know it, but my body has been clenched for nine months. It unclenched with a whoosh when I received this text from our daughter who has been stationed in Afghanistan for the past nine months:

“I’m in New Hampshire!!!!”

My toes, hair follicles, teeth, gut, and every other body part you can think of relaxed as soon as I read those four words. (Can hair follicles clench? I think so. Mine did.)

Our daughter’s Army unit is finally stateside and they are all in one piece. Weary, but whole.Thank the lord.

During her deployment, many people asked me/said:

“How are you doing?”

“It must be terribly hard for you.”

“I can’t imagine how worried you must be.”

“Do you think about it night and day?”

My pat answer was, “I don’t think about it.”

That isn’t entirely true because I thought about her deployment nonstop. However, I didn’t allow those thoughts to enter my pea-brain. Otherwise, I would have been more of a raving lunatic of worry than I already am.

That would have done no one any good. And I don’t look good in a straight-jacket.

Plus, all my worries wouldn’t have changed the fact that our daughter was called to do what she has always wanted to do . . . serve her county.

And she did so brilliantly. She was the only female in her unit and immediately assumed a leadership role among her peers. She received a commendation by the Major General at Bagram Air Force Base for selfless service during the Women’s History Month celebration in March. Think speeches, framed certificate, write-up in the newspaper, and after-party complete with a sheet cake heavily frosted in red, white, and blue.

The nature of her work in Afghanistan is top-secret (I think James Bond was in her unit) so we don’t know what she exactly did to deserve the selfless service award, but I’m sure it wasn’t making coffee for the General.

As she put it, her unit was doing badass intelligence work to get the bad guys. And they got ‘em. Or, at least some of them. Unfortunately, more  brave soldiers remain in Afghanistan to deal with the others who want to cause harm.

Our daughter is back at her dutybase for a few weeks and then gets a two-week leave to come home. I’ve lined up menus of every comfort food I can think of, already have beer chilling on ice, clean sheets on her bed await, a beach towel is laid out on the chaise by our pool, and a welcome home party with our friends and family is on the books.

She may be in bed or on the pool chaise for the entire party and if she is, I can’t say I would blame her.

It is funny, in a not-so-funny way, how the mind can compartmentalize worry, fear, dread . . . whatever. I allowed that fear to pop its ugly head out for brief moments and then would busy myself with putting together a care package to send to her instead of wallowing in my angst.

As William F. Buckley, Jr. said, “Industry is the enemy of melancholy.”

Amen to that, Bill.

I made myself industrious for nine months. Maybe now I can relax. Or at least relax until her next deployment.


Our daughter is such a delicate flower. I mean, badass. Welcome home, honey.


P.S. Our daughter entered the Army in July of 2012. For those of you have been around this blog since 2012, you might remember that I did a series of blog posts that recapped her letters home from bootcamp. If I do say so myself, the posts are entertaining. I can say that because the words in those posts are hers. She did a great job of capturing her experience. I’ll say this . . . her idea of fun is way different than mine. If interested, click on July 2012 on the top-ish left side of this humble blog.

Here’s to Dads!


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Happy Father’s Day, gents! That is, assuming you are a father.

Being a father today is a much different beast than 50 years ago. I know this anecdotally from my vast experience of being fathered by my father, as well as from watching my husband being a father. I also have the facts to back up my claim. Thank you U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

Let’s take a look at some numbers from California, shall we?

In 1960, 61% of dads were veterans. In 2014, only 6% of dads were veterans. I’ll add here that my dad served in the Navy for 20 years.

Single dads ran 0.8% of the families (with no mother present) in 1960. That is a tiny percentage as compared 7% in 2014. Is it just me or does 7% seem low?

Higher education was less likely in 1960 where a mere 15% of dads held a bachelor’s degree. In 2014, 34% of dads have college degrees.

This statistic really speaks of how times have changed. Think Rob and Laura Petri. In 1960, 70% of dad’s were the family’s sole breadwinner, while in 2014, that percentage had dropped to 31%.

To sum it up, fewer of today’s dads in California have witnessed the horrors of war, more are taking on childrearing solo, they are better educated, and the burden of financially supporting the family is shared to a much greater extent.

And, they help around the house much more. Thank the lord for that one! Dads spend 6 hours more per week doing housework (my husband says that number is way too low) and 4.5 hours more per week on childcare.

I don’t remember my father EVER wielding a dust rag or watching us kids because mom was out. He never helped make dinner and would sit at the table while mom (or us kids) did the dishes. For that matter, he never did a load of laundry, made a grocery store run, packed a school lunch, volunteered in a classroom, or helped with homework. To be fair, he did coach my brothers’ Little League team and took us camping.

Dad was a kind man and by the standards of the 1960s, he was a fine upstanding father. By today’s benchmarks, he would get an F-. Or maybe expelled from fatherdom.

I think this it is an excellent turn of events . . . this whole fathers-playing-a-more-active-role-in-the-family-unit thing. Everyone benefits, but especially the dads. They get to experience the joys of being a part of a family instead of producing children and then going off to work. It makes me sad to think of the fun my dad missed out on with us kids.

And, this is my first Father’s Day without my dad. That is sad too.

Anyhoo, hats off to you daddy-o-s out there. Being a father is a noble profession and you are filling the bill brilliantly. Well done you.

And Happy Father’s Day to my husband who has done all the things (and more) that my dad didn’t do. He is a man who has embraced fatherhood to the fullest. And he is blessed with three daughters who adore him. I do too.

Two dads

Note the goofy dad photo bombing his girls. Also note my dad in the uniform to the left.






CVS and Me – A Follow-up


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Well, folks . . . I’m not as dumb as I look.

Quit yer snickering.

As per my blog post HERE, CVS Pharmacy issues mile-long receipts, much to the consternation of those concerned with the environment and our nation’s forests. And whiners just like me.

In addition to the mile-long receipts, CVS fills my email in-box with 30% off coupons, surveys, ads for what is on sale, and pictures of the Kardashians. I’m kidding about the Kardashian pictures. The Kardashians themselves send me those.

The cool thing about the 30% off coupon emails is you can magically send them to your Extracare card, et viola, you get 30% off your purchase without having to remember to bring the darn coupon to the store.

“Why are you going on and on about CVS, Robin?” say you.

“Good question, but bear with me . . . I have a point.” say I.

“A likely story, Robin,” say you.

“Oh ye of little faith,” say I.

As was promised in the Fortune magazine article I mentioned, I found out how you can opt-out of having the in-store coupons printed on your receipt.

Pay attention. This is the part about how I’m not as dumb as I look. There will be a test on it later.

CVS Coupon.png

CVS came through on their promise to save trees. 

I swear I won’t continue blabbering drivel about mundane topics such as receipts Instead, I will soon be entertaining you with fascinating subjects such as me, myself, and I.


CVS and Me


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A word before I go on to write the rest of this blog post. Well, maybe more than just one word.

Not that I assume that any terrorist reads this blog or would even listen to me, but these senseless acts of violence and murder must stop. My heart (and all the world’s heart) is breaking for the families and friends who lost loved ones in these recent and not so recent tragedies. It is hard to make sense of the senseless.

The energy of that visceral hatred could be refocused to do so much good.

Peace to all who are hurting right now. Which in truth, means all of us.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

I love our local CVS Pharmacy. Is it minutes from our house and there is always a parking spot right in front. The pharmacist knows my name from all my Prozac . . . er . . . I mean, vitamin refills, it seems that whatever is on my list is on sale that day, and I know where everything is in the store. And, unlike a usual trip to Target where I go in for three items and mysteriously end up with a cart full of things I didn’t know I wanted or needed and a $325.36 bill, I can get out of CVS in under $20.

Okay, maybe under $50.

My issue with CVS is thusly. Why oh why the mile long receipts? I went to CVS today and purchased four greeting cards (to the tune of $14!) and picked up two prescriptions. My receipt was, and I kid you not, 37 inches long!

CVS and Me

Are you kidding me?

In addition to giving me a record of my transaction, I also received a summary of today’s and the year-to-date savings, an Extrabucks reward for $3.00, and six coupons for items that the evil marketers at CVS want to rope me into buying. They want me to say, “$7 off Geritol? Count me in!”

But, I’m hip to their nefarious plan and promptly threw away those coupons and pocketed the Extrabucks. Actually, Extrabucks are a little like winning the drugstore lottery.

I swear I could wallpaper Buckingham Palace thrice over with all of my CVS receipts. Queen Elizabeth would not be amused if I did.

The Queen’s Guard might get a chuckle out of it. I hear those guys are a laugh a minute.

A recent article in Fortune magazine promised the end of the mile-long CVS receipts starting in June of this year. Customers signed up with the CVS rewards program would have the chance to opt-out of paper receipts in favor of digital receipts.

Here it is mid-June and no opt-out option has crossed my path. Did I miss the chance to opt-out because I threw away a CVS receipt, or did perchance I plaster it on the wall of QE II’s bathroom?



Oh, Belize . . .


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Whoa! Lookie-here who popped back into the world-o-blogging for a moment! Moi!

I am embarrassed to say that my last blog post was over a year ago. Where did that year go?!? Much has happened which led to the sad detriment (maybe demise is a better word) of this humble blog, as well as any writing whatsoever on my part.

The short story is . . . My folks passed away at the end of last year a mere six weeks apart and I am the trustee of their estate, our daughter in the Army deployed to Afghanistan in September (she comes stateside in 10 days!), my husband was the president of his business association last year and we logged over 16,000 miles of travel up and down California. We invested in a craft brewery. We purchased a home in Boise. We tried to keep our heads screwed on. All of that made for zippo writing time. Oh, not to mention the paralyzing avoidance of writing a query letter for my (finished!) manuscript.

For those of you who followed this blog 2+ years ago, you may remember that my husband and I vacationed in Belize, which I chronicled HERE, HERE, and HERE. It was wonderful those 2+ years ago, so what the hell, so we went again last week.

We stayed on an atoll 25 miles off the coast of Belize and the only thing on the island besides the resort is a dirt airstrip and a marine research institute. That, and crocodiles in the lagoon. Gilligan might have been in a coconut tree, but I never spotted him. No Internet, phones, or television means you can read, drink margaritas poolside, and snorkel/scuba dive your heart out . . . which we did with great abandon.

Oh, Belize

Cocktail, anyone?

However, the strangest thing happened . . .

During my 4th or 5th excursion snorkeling, I started composing a blog post in my head. Yes, in the middle of my snorkel! Never mind the nurse shark near my knee or the puffer fish portside, I was writing in my head!

While not brilliant, it went something like this:

If Dr. Seuss had gone scuba diving or snorkeling in Belize before writing One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, the title might have been:

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Half Orange and Half Purple Fish, Silver Fish with a Yellow Tail and Racing Stripe, Black Fish with Neon Blue Polka-dots, Fish Dressed a Referee . . .

Dr. Seuss would have said, “Oh heck. Let’s just call the darn book One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and be done with it.

Mother Nature had way too many rum punches before she designed the fish and coral of Belize. She must have whipped out her box of 64 Crayola crayons (remember those?) and went crazy. There is every size, shape, and color of fish you can imagine and I am sure Mother Nature woke up with one heck of a hangover the next day. But the result of her drinking binge is magnificent.

Writing a blog post whilst (how British of me) snorkeling is probably inadvisable given that fire coral, stingrays, sharks, lionfish and any number of other poisonous critters are close at hand.

But . . . a lovely thing happened to me while putting my life and several limbs at risk and inadvertently drinking gallons of the pristine waters of Belize . . . I started writing again.

Ahhh . . . thank you Belize.


A Mother’s Day Tribute


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My mom is missing. Well, her body is still with us, but the person she was isn’t here anymore.

As some of you know from past posts, my mom has dementia and has been slowly slipping away from us for years. She is now officially a shell of her former self. It is sad. She is in a memory care unit at a nursing home and the last time I saw her she didn’t know who I was.

I was very close to my mom when I was growing up. We were buddies.

Twenty years ago, before I understood what was happening to her brain, her behavior made me start to pull away from her. Her words and actions made it seem like she didn’t care about my family or me. I didn’t yet know she wasn’t able to process information. She lost her ability to empathize, whether it called for celebration or comfort.

Let me give you an example from about ten years ago:

Me: Mom! Guess what! I was promoted and received a nice raise.

Mom: Oh. I see. Did I tell you that Dad and I are going golfing in Monterey?

It hurt. I now know she couldn’t put the meaning of my words together and hid it by changing the subject. But numerous interactions like that damaged my relationship with her.

Mother’s Day is approaching (you are welcome for the reminder to call your mom) and it has me thinking . . .

I learned a lot of things from my mom. I’m not talking about sewing or properly sorting laundry, although she did teach me that kind of stuff as well. I am talking about intangibles like:

Surround yourself with books.

Music is a part of your soul.

If you are going to tell a story, make it interesting.

Stop to admire a rainbow, or for that matter, any form of Mother Nature’s bounty.

Take on an adventure.

Make an ordinary experience an adventure.

A meal with family and/or friends is more than just nourishment.

Set the table and light the candles . . . even if it is over reheated leftovers.

A home is not just where you hang your hat. A home must embrace you with comfort.

Dogs are a must.

Laugh often, even if it is at your own joke.

Why not dance when you clear the table?

Circa 1979.

Circa 1979.

So, my mom may be gone, but she a part of my being. I hope I have passed such things on to my girls. Rather than being sad about my mom’s condition, I try to remember the good times we had when she was whole.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there.

Nancy Drew Turns 85?!? How Can That Be?!?


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Nancy Drew, girl detective, turns 85 today. She sure has aged well. She doesn’t look a day over 18.

Why the heck is there a  clock in a field? Image Credit" Wikipedia

Why the heck is there a
clock in a field?
Image Credit: Wikipedia

As a preteenager, I was a Nancy Drew mystery groupie. I would devour a Nancy Drew book, sometimes two, in a day. I read every copy in my junior high school library, saved money to buy my own, and swapped copies with my equally nerdy best friend. My exasperated mom said to me, “For Pete’s sake, put down that book and go play outside!” I foiled her attempt at making me get exercise and took my book to the park and read it there.

Did you know that Ms. Drew has sold 9 million video games since 1998? I had no idea. The newest, which will debut May 19th is called “Nancy Drew: Fifty Shades of Grey.” KIDDING!! It is called “Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness” and is set on a ghostly ship in the Netherlands.

Jenn Fisher, president of the Nancy Drew fan club (there is a fan club?) said she likes the games because they put the player in Nancy’s shoes and into the crime-solving action. The chief executive of the maker of the video game, Her Interactive, said that she likes that girls have their own series of games. Let’s face it . . . it is a male-dominated world of video games bent on pretending to blow things up and kill people. On a side note, the last video game I played was Pong and I might have been reading a Nancy Drew book at the same time.

The maker of the Nancy Drew video games estimates that 90 percent of the games’ players are girls. I bet the other 10 percent is Bruce Jenner.

All jokes aside, the company also said they get a lot of fan mail from their gamers who say they the Nancy Drew video games have been inspired to make their own games and get involved in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Wow! A video game can do all that and solve mysteries too? Way to go, Nancy Drew! For being an old lady, you rock!




Taking the Abs out of Abercrombie & Fitch



Before I get started, I’d like to say one word about the earthquake in Nepal. “Tragic.”

Now back to what else is on my mind . . .

In a daring move to bolster twelve-straight quarters of sagging sales, Abercrombie & Fitch is telling their overly-photoshopped male models to put on a damn shirt and cover-up those rippling coconut-oiled six-pack-abs.

It is about freaking time.

Those ads were selling nothing but sex to teenagers. I saw a gigantic billboard of a young man who was seductively leaning against a wall. His head was cropped off and he was bare-chest. Ironically, the only Abercrombie clothing shown on the billboard was two inches of his boxer shorts and three inches of his jeans with a semi-open fly.

Who was the target audience of that ad?

Certainly not teenage boys in the market for jeans and undies. . . but it drove prepubescent girls to plead with their mom to drive them to the nearest mall.

When our (now adult) daughters were at the impressionable ages of 10, 12, and 14, Abercrombie was THE place for kids their age to shop. If you didn’t wear Abercrombie, you were likely to find yourself ostracized and have to eat your lunch all by yourself.

As their mother, it was painful to witness the peer pressure.

I fell victim to our girls whining, begging, and crying and would take them to Abercrombie. I would bravely enter the store for a good two- to three-minutes and then quickly exit to find a bench where I would wait out the ordeal in peace. Unfortunately, the bench was never close enough to an establishment offering adult beverages.

Why would I race out of the store in search of a bar?

1. The music in Abercrombie is louder than an Iron Maiden concert with the amps turned to roughly the same decibel as a fighter jet upon takeoff.

2. They have scent machines that infuse the air with a sickeningly sweet Abercrombie perfume. It makes it hard to breathe and their trademark scent stays in your nose for days.

3. The clothing is ridiculously expensive and so poorly made that even teenagers in developing countries would say, “I’m not wearing that crap even though I made that stupid shirt.”

4. Larger-than-life photographs of scantily clad young men and women throughout the store make even Olympian marathoners have body image issues.

5. The salesclerks are the Abercrombie & Fitch version of the Stepford Wives. Identical, beautiful, and with a combined Body Mass Index equivalent to that of Kate Moss.

6. At special events, or at the drop of a hat, Abercrombie festoons their stores with shirtless male models who mingle with the customers. It is like a teenage version of Fifty Shades of Grey. As they say, sex sells.

7. Also, it was rumored that Abercrombie doesn’t make their clothing in sizes larger than “anorexic” because they don’t want anyone larger than Twiggy wearing their brand. It would ruin their image. The CEO vehemently denied the allegation, but I know from firsthand experience that Abercrombie’s size “extra-large” looks like it shrunk in the dryer.

Let me tell you the real reason Abercrombie’s sales have dropped so drastically . . . like many other parents, I was the one with the credit card in my pocket and was ready to spend money. But it was so bad that I had to leave the store (see Numbers 1 through 7 above) and shopped elsewhere.

They marketed to the kids, but Misters Abercrombie & Fitch forgot who might be paying for their merchandise . . . the parents. The girls may have resented it at the time, but I bet if you were to ask them today, they would completely agree with me.

I’m not a prude, but I applaud Abercrombie’s decision to stop gratuitously targeting young men and women with racy ads and catalogs, eye-candy salesclerks, and beefcake models.

According to a retail research firm, “Abercrombie & Fitch has to find its niche. You are not going to see totally wholesome, but I think the era has passed it by. They need to do something different.”

Thanks goodness. To bastardize a line from my favorite movie, Young Frankenstein, “Those abs in the ads are Abby Normal.” 

My uncle did some modeling in the 40s. Now THAT is a what a male model should look like!


Hubba Hubba


As an encore, my next rant might be about Victoria’s Secret and what they are doing to women’s idea of what their bodies should look like.

It’s a Dog’s Life



The Sacramento Kennel Club puts on a two-day dog show every spring. I’ve gone to it two or three times and I have a big goofy grin on my face the whole time I am surrounded by all that doggone fun.

How could I not be grinning after seeing a face like this one? It was puppy-love at first sight.

What a face!

What a face!

The American Kennel Club, like many clubs are wont to do, has rules, regulations, bylaws, codes of conduct, policies, standards, statutes, guidelines, procedures, requirements, parameters, and the like. Every aspect of being dog-crazy, er, I mean dog showing, has a rule to go along with it. With all that writing and reading o’rules, one wonders when they have time to breed, train, handle, and show dogs.

There are also many unwritten rules that dog show participants must adhere to.

I set before you what you need to know if you want to enter the heady world of dog showing without making rookie mistakes and getting laughed out of the show ring.

Exhibit 1:

Your dog must be insanely adorable.


Or slightly bizarre.


Exhibit 2:

You must tote around copious amounts of dog paraphernalia. Consider hiring a Sherpa.

Doggie stuffExhibit 3:

Dog grooming combs must be stored in your hair.
Grooming comb

Exhibit 4:

Frequently use a drool rag to wipe off slobber. Dog drool and concrete floors are a deadly combination.

Drool 2

Or feel free to humiliate your dog by making him wear a silly bib.

Drool Exhibit 5:

Dog tattoos are a plus. Judges dig ’em.

Dog Tattoos

 Exhibit 6:

Mom jeans and sensible shoes are a must.

Mom jeans

 Exhibit 7

Bring your checkbook so you can:

Shop at the dog leash emporium.

Dog leash emporium

Hire an animal communicator. I kid you not.

Dog Whisperer

Book a massage appointment for your dog to relieve his stress so he performs in the ring to the best of his ability.
Massage Therapy

Exhibit 8

Attend beauty school so you know how to properly style your dog’s hair . . . um, fur.

And finally, this is what the dogs must do:

Wait around . . .


And wait . . .

Waiting . . .

And wait some more . . .


Honestly, if you have a chance to go to a dog show, I highly recommend it. It is DOG-some.

My husband is a lucky man. I can hear you saying, “Why, yes he is! He is married to you, isn’t he?” That isn’t the only reason he is lucky. I came close to coming home with about two dozen dogs.

But this guy, my Sir William Wallace, would be jealous if I did that.

"Don't even think of bringing home a dog!"

“Don’t even think of bringing home a dog, you big cheater!”