Dear Badfish, again (random memories)

  1. The Chart House restaurants in North San Diego County were a favorite eating place on vacation with my adopted family each fall.
  2. When I bought my house forty some years back, I picked it for its unusually large  piece of unincorporated city property, complete with corral and finished horse barn. It came with two Shetland Ponies, a great start to the idyllic Horse-Life I’d dreamed of. Country paradise smack dab in the middle of suburbia!! But 3 weeks after we moved in, my son’s father left us. He sold the ponies (and my Dalmatian Clancy) while 3 year old son and I were off gathering our wits for the next phase of our lives. I ended up boarding other people’s horses for years, throwing myself into two jobs and trying to finish a degree so I could start my practice. I had also picked this house because I could immediately see building my office and Group Therapy room in the unfinished basement. I had the same struggle we women all had back then, fighting the mom vs career battle and I wanted to work at home. 112_1248
  3. When trying to finish college, I waited tables at one of Seattle’s two Five Star restaurants, Henry’s Off Broadway. I got the job with zero experience, by barging onto the construction site and approaching the restaurant manager as the restaurant was still being built! He said he hired me for “my balls”. Hey, I was a young, desperate single mom and this place was just blocks from Antioch University. To fit everything in logistically, I needed a job either right next to home or to school, so apparently my ovaries turned into balls on the spot.
  4. I’ll never forget the John Denver concert at the Tacoma Dome, when we had just heard that one of our Board of Directors for INDEPTH (Institution for Developmental Education and Psychotherapy) had died. Buckminster Fuller was our most important supporter, and as it turned out, one of Denver’s closest friends. Mr. Denver could barely go on with his concert, all choked up. (One of my favorite quotes from Bucky was There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.)
  5. I would have done obscene things back in the day to cross paths with any of the Eagles. The closest I got was attending every concert I could, including one when I was 30, a Super Concert with The Eagles, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, and BONNIE RAITT!! An amazing birthday gift from friends!! And, I’m thanking the universe now that my family treated me to the Eagles History tour (again, in the Tacoma Dome) just 2 years ago, for another birthday. I will grieve for Glenn Frey for some time to 3photo 2photo 4
  6. I was a Hermit Crab thief. On a once-in-a-lifetime, non-touristy trip to Fiji, on an extremely remote, uninhabited island at the southern most tip of the Lau Group, I collected fifty of what I thought were uninhabited hermit crab shells, beautiful ones. I wanted to bring back a shell for each of my clients at the time. Normally, we would not collect anything off the many beaches we visited without that island’s Chief giving us permission (after the whole Kava drinking ceremony) but as I said, uninhabited. So I asked the Universe if I could take some shells and it said “Sure, why not?” What it didn’t tell me was how to know if my chosen shells were occupied. Nope. Didn’t discover that until later that night. Soundly sleeping in my beautiful stateroom aboard The Tau (means “friend”), a 90 foot yacht housing a crew of 5 and me, with my 6 best friends, I am awakened by this frantic scritching sound! FijiJust about all fifty of my “empty” shells, being stored in a bowl of fresh water, were scrambling to escape!!! Not to worry, unless you believe that Hermit Crabs are traumatized when you move them to a new beach. I gently placed all of them on the sand of the very next island we came to, with a sincere apology for their uprooting.(I’ve always struggled with anthropomorphism). And then our Fijian First Mate, Sefo, taught us how the natives find out if there is “anyone at home” in shells of all sizes. (They hold the shell close to their mouths and whistle. If someone is in there, they come right out to say HI.) I then successfully collected 50 empties!IMG_6309
  7. Cross Country Skiing- I learned in an idyllic circumstance. Imagine you are deeply, newly, psychotically in love…..with someone who lives as far across the country as you can get. (man, do I ever hate a long-distance relationship) BUT, he just happens to be in a location for 2 weeks that is a 12 hour drive from where you live. He is on the US Disabled Ski Team and West Yellowstone is their pre-Olympics Training Camp. He can’t get to me…he’s blind, so I decide to surprise him by showing up there. On our regular, nightly, blissful and painful phone call, I tell him to walk outside so we can be sort of standing under the same full moon. He dutifully (or romantically) walked out of his motel room, guide cane in one hand and phone in the other. I then scared the shit out of him by walking up to him to hug him! (I was not yet fully Blind Etiquette Trained.) It worked out though and we spent from midnight until the beautiful moon set/sunrise, with him teaching me how to ski the groomed trails he and his team practiced on all day. He already had them fairly well memorized, even though he skied with a sighted guide. Only surprise were the huge, and I mean HUGE buffaloes that apparently wandered across these same trails all night long. THAT was a bit less romantic.
  8. I married the guy, kind of, on the above mentioned Fiji trip, and we were together for 13 years, most of which I would not trade a minute of, including one spectacular, take-only-the-back-roads trip to his best friend’s wedding in Breckenridge. That’s the closest I got to your old stomping grounds. I loved my guy and I loved hanging with the US Disabled Ski Team for those years, a crazy, irreverent bunch with nicknames like Blinky, Wheelie, Stumpy, and Flipper (this last, a Thalidomide baby with birth defect shrunken arms that just flipped around). Ski Team (2)
  9. There should be a law against, and an immediate consequence (Karma takes way to long and is less satisfying to the injured parties) for certain kinds of marital cheating; like doing it with someone you know, especially someone close to you, or using any of your territory or equipment (your bed or vehicle), or right under your nose, etc. In my case, it was with a former client of mine who was now a client of HIS…definitely the biggest No-No in my profession! Can I pick ’em or what?!? Yeah yeah, I got the lessons part and all but shouldn’t I be able to choose (on purpose, that is) which classes to sign up for???
  10. And that brings me Back to the Eagles–Don Henley in particular (along with Lynch and Winding)…one of my favorite healing songs is “My Thanksgiving”. My favorite line is “sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge”.

Oh and Badfish, I’ll see your Ted Bundy and raise you with a Charlie Manson. (That whole thing was happening less than a mile from where I brought my sweet baby boy home from the hospital.)

And there you have it, at least until you write the next chapter of your memoirs, to trigger the next bunch of memories for me!!

PS I forgot San Diego, which I already wrote about, and your Om T-shirt!


This is a handmade cloth paperweight.

If you have not visited  it’s one of my favorites, a visual treat and a fascinating journey!

Joy, the “guard dog”

One Love

I follow Wild Currents, a very moving blog and today was inspired by her post.

This entry moved me to write about my purebred German Shepherd, Joy, named to counteract her malfunctioning tear ducts, which were cosmetically disturbing enough that her breeder considered doing away with her.


I’m afraid I don’t care who that offends.

I had always wanted a big ole German Shepherd. My best friend throughout my teens lost his vision and had the most wonderful guide dog, called Rue St James. I adored that dog.

And when I discovered my neighbor up the street was a well known breeder, with champion Shepherds, I made it known that I wanted one. Unfortunately her dogs went for thousands of dollars which put me out of the running….until my accountant asked me if I needed a Guard Dog for my therapy practice. Hmmm. I started saving money even though I never had any intention of teaching any nasty habits to a pet of mine.

One day I got a call saying if I wanted a dog for free, I could have a damaged one if I came for her right now. This precious puppy had been kept in a separate cage for the first four months of her life, no other dog or human contact, waiting to see if she would outgrow her birth defect to the degree her owner could at least breed her. I jumped at the chance.

I fell immediately in deep love. Joy grew up to be such a beauty the breeder wanted to buy her back. By then she was all mine, though that did not exactly come easily. She spent her first few weeks with me hiding under my bed.

Eventually I was able to take her to work with me. I’m a psychotherapist in private practice. Right around this same time I had started accepting clients referred by the courts and some of them were actually pretty scary. Several people suggested…strongly…that I have Joy “protection trained”, but I just wouldn’t do that. She was already pretty skittish and not reliably nice to strangers.

As it turned out, I didn’t need to train her. I hoped that her mere presence would imply protection for me. And in a bass-ackwards way, it did.

I was blessed to have Joy for 16 years, completely healthy for 15 of them, highly unusual for such a large dog of her breed. And you know what, she never so much as curled a lip at a client of mine. Not even when one of them showed up at my home at 2 AM, in a rage of negative transference, and carrying a baseball bat! Joy spotted this client out on my deck and started barking her “I’m so glad to see you” bark, tail wagging furiously. When I let her out, she simply ran to the client (her buddy from numerous therapy sessions) and attacked her with 110 pounds of slobbery kisses.

Joy protected me alright, by winning over the most hardened of hearts, and making instant friends with the innocent “child” part of them all.

Joy died in 2001, during the same trauma-filled stretch as several of my family members passing, both my other pets dying, AND then, 9/11 happened. I was devastated by all the jumbled loss in my life, and though I have grieved much of that loss, I still have not had the courage to adopt another dog….yet.


JOY and Bandit

Joy, and her cat Bandit

I call her a Grandmother of the Service Dog, because she was here before we really knew the power and healing a therapy animal can have…..