Nothing makes me feel as good as buying a pair of shoes.  I come by this naturally, because my mother was the Imelda Marcos of NJ.  When she died, she had over 40 pairs that had to be rehomed. .  I got the shoe gene.  I’m sure there must be a DNA marker for the shoe gene.

Shopping for shoes is the ultimate pick-me-up. Shoes always fit..  None of that trying on clothes when you are down and feeling  like every pair of pants you try on makes your butt seem like the broad side of a barn (Kim Kardashian not withstanding).  So the other day after a rather discouraging appointment, I headed off to buy some shoes  and try to feel better.

I headed to the closest  department store and hurried to the shoe department.  Cruised the tables and the shelves.  Michael, Vince, Calvin, Sam… but nothing.  Heels too high, too flat, styles that looked too much like things I already own.  I am too short to wear gladiators, ankle straps make my ankles look big.  Too dressy, too casual, and too uncomfortable.  Meanwhile the salesman, who works on commission, was stalking me.  He watched me closely as I moved around the shoe department picking up and discarding shoe after shoe.  I’m sure he was thinking “dilettante shopper” but he still followed me around. He has stalked me before.  When I asked him why, he said he could tell I was going to buy a pair of shoes by the desperation on my face  and the way I fondled the shoes.

After several round around the department, I gave up. I have always know that if you pass the same display twice in one shopping trip without seeing anything, it’s hopeless.  Even the stalking salesman had given up on me. I dejectedly headed to the car. In an act of desperation,  I drove over to DSW, the shoe warehouse.  I don’t love DSW and I rarely find anything I want there, which I know sounds crazy.  First I hit the clearance rack (doesn’t everyone?)  Nothing there.  So I started up and down the aisles, slowly at first, but gaining speed as I hit the end of the first aisle.  Nothing. Aisle after aisle, searching.  Salespeople, wishing to be helpful, and perhaps noticing my desperation, asked me if there was anything I was specifically looking for. I wandered the aisle of flip flops to no avail.  Then I moved on to the sandals.  Too much heel, not enough heel, too high a wedge, not enough wedge. I think I was looking for a pair that might have some color, but everything was tan, brown or black.  And there was no point at looking at the dress shoes, since I don’t generally dress up.  I was beginning to get anxious.  Should I leave or take a Xanx? I tried on a pair of Ann Kleins, to no avail..  I checked all the ends of the aisles. NOTHING.  It was time to go.

I slunk out of the store and sat my car for a few minutes.  Was something wrong with me?  How could I feel better without a new pair of shoes?  Maybe I’m really ill.  Yes, that must be it, because there hasn’t been a day in recent memory that I couldn’t find a pair of shoes and often more than one.  And that depressed me. I could have hit every store in the shopping center, but I knew in my heart that it was no use.  I was beyond help.  Another thing to discuss with my therapist.

That was 4 days ago, and I have been feeling a bit adrift. Fast forward to this morning.  I casually wandered the internet and found myself on Zappos, the instant gratification website.  I once bought a pair of shoes from there on Monday afternoon and I had them by noon on Tuesday. How do they do that???? Anyway, I was randomly looking at styles by Michael, Vince, Calvin and Sam.  Nothing.  I was starting to break into a sweat.  Finally I looked at Yellow Box and found two pair of platform sandals that were only mildly close to what I already have and I bought them.  As soon as I hit the place order button, I felt great.  I was back!!

-Until next time, Elsie



As I have previously written, we have 3 dogs.  These have come into our life since we retired, although Browning was my husband’s retirement present.  We had no experience with dogs prior to acquiring Browning.  We were operating blindly, and Browning seemed to know this and took full advantage.  He was a 10 week old bundle of energy and mischief.  He lured us into a false sense of security when he took to crate training like Julia Child to cooking.  I happily bought him a very nice (and expensive) dog bed for his crate, which he promptly ripped a hole into and then dragged all the stuffing all over the crate, where it looked like some kind of polyester convention.  Haplessly, I bought him another bed and the same thing happened.  Finally, I dug in and put a nicely folded comfy towel in the bottom and we reached a truce.  Browning has always had a close relationship with what we now call “the dog cave” and does not tolerate redecoration by anyone other than himself.  Once I tried to rearrange his bedding and he gave me a warning growl and laid his teeth on my arm.  Message received.

As time went on, his antics got less enchanting.    He leaned to take mail out of the mail box and shred it around the yard.  The same with the newspaper.  UPS deliveries didn’t have a chance. He ate eyeglasses, shoes , a hearing aid.  One time he ate 1/2 of a large bag of M&Ms, after which,  I hysterically called the vet  to tell them he  had eaten chocolate.  She told me not worry, he was large enough that it probably wouldn’t hurt him.  All it seemed to do was whet his appetite for more chocolate.  Just recently he ripped open a box of chocolates, which were fortunately wrapped, so he didn’t eat more than two..

One weekend when I was seriously close to the edge, we ran into a woman who was the coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic  GSP rescue.  We stopped to talk to her and she said “aren’t they great dogs!?” She said that many people got rid of them because they were too smart and had too much energy.  “If only they could wait for their 3rd birthday, they calm down”.  At that point Browning was 2.  We toughed it for another year and it turned out she was right.  He calmed down.  He was wonderful.  Turned out that he really did learn his commands at the doggy training.  And he developed a routine of tricks; but he had a strict policy that he didn’t do tricks unless there was a treat involved – a policy that has remained in force throughout his life.   He became a great traveler and has been as far as Minnesota, and as far South as Florida, riding calmly along – picking up and leaving p-mails at the rest stops.  And he developed a real craving for take out, particularly if it is a drive-thru.  Browning remembers every place he has ever gotten a treat, makes sure he gets seen (not minding if he has to stand on the driver’s head to accomplish this)  because he is sure that once they saw once  how handsome he is, he might get  a little extra something.

Now, he is an old dog.  He suffers from some kind of skin problem that has left him with bald patches and flakey skin. He is lumpy and bumpy and is very thin.  We’ve had him to every vet, including three dermatology experts, to figure out what is wrong with him.  He is on very expensive dog food that is so pure we could eat it for dinner.  Special treats too.  He’s had an expensive thyroid panel and even more expensive allergy testing.  Turns out he is allergic to us – or rather the dander  from our skin and dust.  But he still has a lot of zest for life.  He still love the car and getting to go.  He’s still very social with anyone coming into the house, particularly those who aren’t crazy about big dogs.  If it is warm day, he’ll still go for a swim in the lake.

About a year ago, I was visiting a friend and a woman came down the sidewalk with a GSP on a leash.  I could see this was a young dog.  I told her he was great looking and I had one too.  I notice she had a very weary look on her face.  “Is he destructive?” she asked  “This dog is so destructive and I don’t know how much more I can take.”  I looked at her sympathetically and told her what I had been told – that he would calm down and be a great dog when he was 3.  “He’s only 1 1/2” she moaned.

Until next time – Elsie








“Severe Weather”

I am from the North, and lived in the Mid-Atlantic for a number of years, so this whole concept of “severe weather” in the South is still new to me.  For those the uninitiated, “severe weather” usually implies tornadoes.  You know, those twisty things that can kill you and destroy everything you own?  There is also “straight line winds”, hail, and severe thunder and lightening.  These don’t scare me.  But, have them mention the “t” word and they have my undivided attention.

I had no tornado experience until 2011, when a rather significant tornado crossed out lake.  Lamar and I were in our basement safe room, so we were blissfully unaware just how close it came to us.  I had to go to Montgomery that next morning.  I noticed there was damage in the “don’t blink, you’ll miss it” town that is closest to us.  But the weather reports mentioned that it came through that area, so I wasn’t that surprised.  But I was very surprised when I went down the road and the pretty big garden center had disappeared.  Gone, like it never existed, yet the houses 1,000 feet from there, were still there.  Coming back from town a few hours later, I really took notice of the damage.  A light bulb went on – the place that was supposed to be creating a headstone from my in-laws graves seemed to be right in the path.  Went home and mentioned this to my husband and we decided to go have a look.  And then I experienced the aftermath of the tornado.  Nothing prepared me for it.  Whole buildings – gone.  Strong pine smell from all of the broken trees.  A house destroyed while the house next door had barely any damage.  All of it shocking.  You know how you watch it on TV and you think you know what it is like?  You don’t.  Nothing prepares you for the reality.  After you see it, you understand what they mean about the “force of Mother Nature”.

Well, we found the place that was making my in-laws headstone.  We found the headstone, but everything else was destroyed.  Hard to interest a man that has just lost his business – buildings and all – in your one headstone.  It eventually got placed, but it took months.  Even now, in 2016, I can see where the tornado went through, even though the debris has been cleared, buildings rebuilt and the trees are starting to grow back.  So when the news breaks in and says there is a tornado warning, I am listening, hard.  I won’t blow it off and if they tell me to get in my “safe place”, you know where you will find me.


Until next time, Elsie