Long before texting there was a meet-up plan.

“I’ll pick you up in front of the gray building on the corner at 7:00 p.m.”

“After the baseball game, find me on the other side of the park.”

“If I’m late, stand by the market on the Northeast corner.”

Life became simpler with texting. At least that was the idea. Yet, between auto-correct and thumbs—or in my case an index finger—messages crossed flying back and forth like the ball in a ping pong tournament.

Still, over a three-day period at last year’s New Orleans Jazz Fest group texting with my family was our way of coordinating meeting up in a crowd of 65,000+ people. Whether it was a simple rendezvous, logistical plan or basic information the text was often prefaced by asking:

“Where are you?”

“Near green flag 10 yards in front of the flag Don’t Tread on Me.”

Google Earth couldn’t have provided a better detail.


“Headed to Blues tent.”

“Robert Cray?”

“Don’t see you.”

“Far right near aisle facing RH screen. See guy in Hawaiian shirt on aisle?”


“Turn around.”

Somehow we managed to connect each time.

”Where are you?”

“Jazz tent. Dad’s still at Acura stage then back to Gentilly and Congo. Check out BBQ turkey leg.”

“Who are you seeing?”

“Leah Chase.”

“I’m at entrance to Blues tent.”

“I’m at Jazz tent. Main entrance on side in back.”

“Headed there.”

“Now Irvin Mayfield. Meet you there. Getting something to eat first.”

“Need a drink first.”

Texting not only provided instant logistics and music options but also culinary enlightenment.

“Where are you?”

  “Eating boiled crayfish in front of food now.”

“Pronounced crawfish.”

“Where again?”

“In front of alligator pie.”

“On way post turkey leg.”

“Meet you?”

“Look for us.”

“Next to the path.”

“Opposite red and yellow flag.”

Occasionally, a crisis can arise.

“My phone’s going to die.”

And, when in doubt:

“Meet you in front of bathrooms to right of Gentilly St exit.”

Now, there’s a meet-up plan.

Road Trip

“That’s the first road kill we’ve seen,” I said, spotting a flattened raccoon as my husband and I drove through Pleasant View, Colorado.

“No, it’s not,” he said. “I saw a dried-up squished skunk back in Monticello, Utah.”

I obviously hadn’t noticed.

We were on the road from Moab to Mesa Verde where the view ranged from cows, horse farms, bales of hay stacked like adobe bricks and skeletons of abandoned shacks. Highrise-sized red rock mountains nesting under cotton candy clouds cast alternating glares of light and shadows over the pavement. Music from the Outlaw Country channel on SiriusXM with DJ Mojo Nixon, the Loon in the Afternoon, hurdled through the radio like a freight train as we rolled down the highway. Our fingers drummed on the steering wheel and/or dashboard to songs like Party in My Pants. We sang along when we knew the words, and made them up when we didn’t.

As we passed through a town the length of an eyelash, Jim asked “I wonder where people buy groceries?”

“I’d look it up,” I said. “But I have no service.”

We cruised by an empty gas station next to a hollowed-out former café outside of Yellow Jacket. I pulled some turkey jerky out of my pack while watching a parade of Holsteins heading across their pasture. Highway meditation.



Dog Diary Ten-Conversations

“Don’t get the idea that this is happening on a regular basis,” my mother said to me as she scooped kibble in my bowl.

I sat and waited to be served like a good boy.

The last two days were too hot to walk on our regular afternoon schedule so I got to eat earlier. Worked for me.

As my mother put the container of food away she mumbled, “This one-sided conversation is ridiculous.”

I beg to differ. Our conversations aren’t one-sided. I participate in our dialogue with my own noise, which sounds like a cross between a barking harbor seal and screeching macaw.

Some psychologists might refer to it as enabling or even co-dependence like when my mother indulges my squirrel fixation on our walks.

I usually smell the squirrels before I see them. If my mother spies one first, she points out the location on the tree, utility wire or fence. I pull on the leash to the exact spot where we share our critiques.

“Nice tail,” she says.

While I appreciate her insight—bushy tail or not—I want the squirrel to lose its balance and plop in my mouth. This hasn’t happened yet. Here’s hoping.

My mother shares my excitement when we encounter a species of the feline persuasion lurking in the grass off the bike path.

“Look at that juicy cat.”

I’m sure that statue of a cat has been expecting me because it doesn’t move—until I shriek.

There are also times when my mother and I are not in sync at all. She thinks she can read my mind, but she’s wrong.

“Ponzi, do you need to go potty?” she asks.

I wish she would stop asking me that. I’m perfectly capable of standing by the door and whining myself.

Or, even worse when she says, “Let’s go potty.”

Does she mean both of us at the same time in the backyard?

I love engaging with my mother, but there is such a thing as too much involvement.

Ponzi rest

Dog Later Years

I never met a squirrel I didn’t like. On the other hand, I never ate a bar of soap or a shower cap like my predecessor. For a husky, I’m relatively well-behaved. However, I do have a major weakness.

“Who chewed up the toilet paper?” my mother asked one day. Remnants of white tissue lay sprinkled on the carpet like cottage cheese curds.

“It wasn’t me,” my father answered.

I admit it was delicious, including the cardboard tube.

“Who dug a hole in the backyard?” my father asked two days later.

“Guess?” my mother asked.

I swear I could have gotten that gopher if I had bothered to dig deeper.

I love hanging outside, and walks are even better than the backyard.

One morning my mother and I strolled by a group of men wearing floppy shirts without sleeves and hats that looked like my upside down food dish.

“Nice dog,” one of them said, fiddling around with a leash-type belt filled with objects that resembled my chewed Nylabone bacon bone and turkey leg.

“Is that a pure breed?” another asked.


“Is that a Malamute?” a third guy asked. He held his food dish hat in his hand. No kibble.

I started to feel insulted. My ears are a lot better looking.

“He’s a husky,” my mother said. “Malamutes are larger.”

“Cool dog,” Leash-belt man said.

I receive compliments a lot although they never go to my head, thanks to my mother. She’s strict. “Leave it,” she yells just when I am about to eat a morsel with the essence of eau d’horse shit on the bike path.

On our way home we usually pass by my equivalent of the House of Prime Rib—the House of Squirrels. I almost always see at least two in the driveway, although I haven’t caught one. Yet.

I start preparing myself two houses ahead. First, I assume the crouch position. Then, I stalk, ready for the pounce. It’s disappointing when no one shows up. Fortunately, squirrels aren’t the only entertainment on the walk.

One particular morning we encountered a runner with her off leash barf-brown colored dog. He darted towards me and my mother reeled me in.

The barf-brown dog’s mother grabbed him and put him on a leash. “I’m sorry, he’s usually so well-behaved,” the woman announced. “He doesn’t like white dogs.”


My mother raised me to treat everyone equally, including black, gray or red squirrels. I’m the perfect husky.

Ponzi bone

No Direction

“How far is it to the next town?” I asked my husband. The B.B. King Blues station wafted through the car like the aroma of slow-cooked pulled pork.

“I’m driving, take a look at the map,” Jim said.

I unfolded the map and studied the tiny print. “I’d say about two-inches.”

He shook his head. “You’re looking in the wrong direction. You need to learn how to read maps.”

“I’m spatially challenged,” I responded, even though I can always tell if a shoe on the display case in the store will fit.

“We’ll get there eventually.” I started to fold the map.

“That’s not the right way,” Jim said, stuffing my origami creation between the seats. “Pull up Google maps on your phone. Put in Current Location.”

“I’ll try. I just hope I don’t get carsick. We could ask Siri.”

“I guess I have to figure out where we are,” he said, fumbling with his phone.

If he wasn’t driving, he would have prayed to the heavens for assistance.

“This is not like Bonfire of the Vanities,” I said. “We’re outside of Burlington, Vermont.”

Jim changed the radio to a regular FM station.

“Yuck,” we both said. “Coldplay.”

He pushed the button for the Backspin station. Undecipherable rap lyrics bounced out of the speakers.

“It’s a good thing my new car will have GPS,” I said.

“Your iPhone does the same thing.”

”It’s not the same to me,” I said. “Remember the olden days? We relied on the AAA map and signs. There’s a sign ahead. The next town is seven miles away.”

“Why don’t you find a place for lunch?”

“I know how to do that.” I picked up my phone and Googled lunch in the area. “Olive Garden is listed under Italian. See, the phone doesn’t always get it right.”