Dashing Through The Snow

Hello! It’s me.


It’s confusing to be honest … spend time with family but be sure to social distance yourself from family.

I don’t know about you, but when Dad goes around the TV dial all I see are Christmas movies from Hallmark and those who seek to copy Hallmark. “Gingerbread Miracle” or “Nantucket Noel” or “The Nine Kittens of Christmas” run nearly non-stop for two months (not counting non-stop airings during Christmas in July).

It leads one to wonder … why don’t I have my own Christmas movie?

Obviously, it would be called “Dashing Through The Snow”. That’s not up for debate.

The protagonist would be somebody named Melody. She was a marketing executive at a global firm in Downtown Chicago, but quit her job after her Dad (Ed) passed away from COVID. She moved to Lone Rock, WI to help her Mom run the family Christmas Tree farm. The transition from digital marketing to tree shearing has been hard on Melody.

Bad news just keeps following Melody around town. Her high school sweetheart, Owen, is now the Mayor of Lone Rock, and apparently he wants to shut down the family Christmas Tree farm because the family forgot to submit permits for additional tree lots north of town. Things fell through the cracks when Dad died, regrettably. During a secret santa exchange at the Keg and Kettle Bar and Grill, Owen tells Melody that if the paperwork for the permitting process isn’t completed by December 23 at 11:59pm, the family will immediately be kicked off of the Christmas Tree farm. Nobody understands why Owen is being so cruel, but with a 70% approval rating and a pro-business platform, it becomes obvious Owen has a plan up his sleeve for the Christmas Tree farm.

Melody learns of the plan the next morning while walking at Garrison Park with her high school friend, Jenna. Jenna is the county clerk, and Jenna heard that Walmart wants to build a Sam’s Club on the site of the Christmas Tree farm. Jenna looked at county records, and realized that the family doesn’t actually own their property, but instead they have a lease on the property that can be revoked if proper paperwork isn’t filed for expansion efforts.

The turn of events sends Melody and her Mom (Mary) into a state of depression. With only twelve hours to submit the proper paperwork for their proposed business expansion, it seems unlikely they will be able to keep their treasured family Christmas Tree farm. Where will they find a Lawyer capable of helping file the proper paperwork?

Melody decides to take a walk outside to clear her head. Snow flurries are falling, and there is a chill in the air that even her hot chocolate cannot penetrate. As she walks on Forest St., she notices a Mercedes with a flat tire. A handsome male is standing alongside the car, holding a leash tethered to a doxie named Dash (hint – that’s me). The man introduces himself as Evan, and he knows nothing about how to change a tire. We believe Evan, as his jacket alone appears to cost close to $2,000.

Melody begins to change the tire, and Evan’s dog (Dash, that’s me) immediately falls in love with Melody, lathering Melody with kisses.

Struggling with the lug nuts, Melody asks Evan what he is doing in Lone Rock? Evan confides that he is just passing through town on his way from Chicago to St. Paul to argue a case in court defending a business owner who was about to lose his bodega due to a leasing issue.

Wow, what a coincidence!

Melody explain her own conundrum, and asks Evan if he could help? Evan articulates that he needs to be in St. Paul in the morning. With snow falling harder and harder, Melody offers to feed Evan a Friday Night Fish Fry. Evan and Dash accept the invitation, as Evan feels a sense of obligation toward Melody given she changed his tire for him.

Melody’s Mom (Mary) deep fries some walleye while keeping a keen eye on Evan and Melody. Between discussions of their favorite stops in Chicago, Melody explains to Evan the problems associated with the paperwork to maintain the family lease of the Christmas Tree farm.

Meanwhile, a light snowfall has now become a raging blizzard. A radio broadcast announces a Winter Storm Warning, with 8-14 inches of snow expected.

As Evan thumbs through the paperwork associated with the lease, he realizes that he is up against severe time constraints. Evan races through documents, properly dotting i’s and crossing t’s until everything is set and proper. With a belly full of walleye (yes, Melody’s Mom, Mary, snuck some walleye to me as well), Melody, Evan and I get in Evan’s Mercedes and head to City Hall.

One problem.

A check engine light comes on.

The car sputters to a stop.

It is 11:48pm.

We get out of the car, frantic. As we begin running to the Mayor’s Office, Evan clumsily drops the papers. Blizzard-like conditions blow the papers down the street.

This is where the story gets interesting.

I (Dash) sneak out of my leash, run down the papers, put the papers in my mouth, and lead the charge to the Mayor’s Office, dashing through the snow. The cinematographer zooms in on me running at a full sprint, with paperwork in my mouth. I imagine that viewers all across America enthusiastically cheer my efforts.

We deliver the paperwork at precisely 11:57pm with Evan and Melody in tow. For reasons unknown, the Mayor (Owen) is in his office moments before midnight. Resentfully, Owen has no choice other than to acknowledge that the proper paperwork has been submitted, the permitting process for the additional lot may go ahead, and the family may stay on the Christmas Tree farm. Evan and Melody bath me in love, knowing I saved Christmas … and the family Christmas Tree farm.

The movie fast forwards to Christmas Eve, where Mary and Melody prepare to light the Christmas Tree at Fireman’s Park in Lone Rock. Perry Como sings in the background. Hot chocolates abound. And off in the distance, we see a tall, handsome, and muscular figure wearing a $2,000 coat. It is Evan and his beloved doxie Dash (that’s me). We are dashing through the snow, running toward Mary and Melody. Evan and Melody embrace while Mary squeezes Dash (that’s me). Mary reaches in her pocket and gives Dash (that’s me) a crunchable. She looks up approvingly at Evan and Melody as they communicate via eyes twinkling.

No words are needed to convey what they feel.

Carolers begin to sing Jingle Bells.

Mary may have lost her husband to COVID, but she may eventually gain a son-in-law as a result. And a doxie.

That, dear readers, is how a Hallmark Movie called “Dashing Through The Snow” would be portrayed. There is no doubt I’d be able to play the lead role in the movie.

A Drencher

Hello! It’s me!

The monsoon season provides drenching rains here in the desert. In a normal year there are two or three storms that provide a couple of inches of rain. That’s a big deal, #amirite?

On Sunday we got one of those storms … a real drencher. Nearly two inches here at the house.

As the rains ended, I took Dad out on a golf cart ride to survey the landscape.

The first hole on our west golf course has a new water hazard.

Drainage ditches were saturated.

Pickleball action was halted.

We even found a new lake across the street.

Amazingly, the brazen bunnies that I so love to monitor during golf cart rides paraded about, undaunted.

There is a wash that runs across the east portion of my community. The wash ran unabated.

We’ve had more rain than the last two monsoon seasons combined, and double the amount of monsoon rain we’d typically receive in July. When you’re stuck in a megadrought, you need every droplet you can find. On Sunday, we were dumped upon by an onslaught of droplets, a real drencher.

P.S.: After losing nearly four pounds in three months, I’ve gained a pound in the last month. Turns out when you are fed the same garbage every day you’ll eventually adjust and eat the food. Dad is turning the corner with me, and I’m hungry, and I’m not happy. Send your thoughts and prayers my way, ok?

Monsoon Time

Hello. It’s me!

It’s been awhile, #amirite?

I’ve spent the past few months losing weight. I’m on a horrific diet of vet-prescribed pellets from h&*$. I’d rather eat particle board than indulge in this stuff. But I’ve lost four pounds during my journey, so I suppose my story is going to turn out ok.

As we end our quarantine period, my activity schedule begins to amp up a bit. On a monthly basis, Alex comes to groom me in her mobile grooming vehicle.


In other news, it got up to 118 degrees for a few days in mid-June. Not as warm as it gets way up north in British Columbia in summer, but still toasty in the Valley of the Sun. Dad checks pavement temperatures to see if we can go for a walk or not.

“Нет” as they say in Russia.

When I can’t walk (which is often), I just cuddle.

A few weeks ago Dad put a skillet in the back yard and attempt to fry an egg using only the heat of the sun. Unfortunately, the egg evaporated faster than the sun cooked it.

We’re heading toward the dog days of summer. Monsoon season!! Thunderstorms. Haboobs!! Excitement is coming. Vaccines are in the arms of some people. Pounds are flying off of my frame. We’re turning the corner, returning to a fun life.

Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum!

Hello. It’s me!!

So Dad is out taking a walk (#hearthealthy) and he runs across this holy mess.

Dad says that the two women riding in the golf car pulled up to him seconds before he took the photo, and said, and I quote:

“You want us to pull you along by a leash, too? AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!”

It’s like that Seinfeld episode where the Mandelbaum’s are trying to get Jerry in shape, so they tie him to his car and pull him, forcing him to run. Of course, Jerry met his demise when his car overheated days earlier, and Kramer was forced to put his own blood (previously stored in Jerry’s tupperware) in the radiator, causing the blood to drip on the floor board while Jerry was “exercising”. The Mandelbaum boys / greatly aged men became frightened, punching the accelerator and dragging Jerry for a considerable distance.

I only hope no blood drips on the floor board of that golf car.

P.S.: This is how a dog should be associated with a golf car.


Walleye Sliders

Hello! It’s me!

Can I take a moment and share with you some headlines from each of the past Wednesday afternoons?

December 30: The United States anticipates a major post New Year’s surge in Coronavirus cases and deaths following Christmas get-togethers. Deaths from the virus are expected to surge beyond 500,000 by the end of February.

January 6: Right-wing Terrorists storm the Capitol looking to hang the Republican Vice President and assassinate Democratic members in Congress. Many police officers were injured, one died. A handful of protesters died in the attack.

January 13: The President is impeached (again).

January 20: A new President takes office amid 25,000 troops.

January 27: A group of “retail investors” (i.e. non Wall St. types) collaborating on a message board (Reddit) help drive up the price of GameStop from about $10 in October to $347, causing Wall St. to lose their collective minds while financially harming short-sellers who bet on the brand to fail. Strong hint – Wall St. is not going to tolerate a group of “retail investors” collaborating on a message board to help drive up stock prices in the future.

Stock Tip: Keurig / Dr. Pepper (yes, that’s the name of the company). But don’t trust me. Do your own research.

It is any wonder humans are a bit on edge, and by association, pups, #amirite?

So today Dad decided to use all of the tools at his disposal to create a scrumptious lunch … an escape from reality … Walleye Sliders!!

Here’s the step-by-step process.

Step 1: Go to your freezer, and retrieve two frozen Walleye Fillets. Butcher Bob’s is a good place to go if you live in Maricopa County and don’t have an on-demand supply of Walleye in your home.

Step 2: Run the end (tip) of each fillet under cold water for about three seconds. Then take a pliers and pull the skin off of the fish. You will use your biceps in this process, meaning you get your share of daily exercise. We’re still waiting for Fitbit to record this level of physical exertion properly.

Step 3: Thaw fillets overnight.

Step 4: Cut fillets into slider-sized pieces with a sharp knife.

Step 5: Pull out a box of Kentucky Kernel Seasoned Flour. If it’s been around for 211 years, it’s good enough for Dad and I. Dad orders the flour in gross from Amazon because it is so hard to find in a grocery store during the pandemic.

Step 6: Wash fillets in cold water. Blot with a paper towel. Coat fillets with Kentucky Kernel Seasoned Flour.

Step 7: Dip fillets in an egg/milk or egg/water mixture.

Step 8: Reapply a second coat of Kentucky Kernel Seasoned Flour to the filets.

Step 9 (Hint, This Is Where It Gets Interesting). Set your NINJA FOODIE to Air Fry mode. Set fillets in the basket, spray tops of fillets with Pam spray. Fry for 8 minutes at 390 degrees.

Step 10: While the fillets are frying, prepare your slider buns. In our case, Mom supplied lettuce from her garden, Dad pulled out of the fridge a jar of Claussen Sandwich Pickles and a tub of mayo.

Step 11: After eight minutes, turn fillets over in the NINJA FRYER. Spray again with Pam spray. Cook for another 7(ish) minutes, until filets are flaky. Carefully balance over-cooking the filets with making sure they have a crisp outer crust.

Step 12: Select your favorite lunch beverage.

Step 13: Pull the Walleye Fillets from the fryer, and prepare for immediate serving. You don’t want the fillets to cool and not be #moist.

Yes, the fillets won’t look golden brown like they would in a oil-based deep fryer. The advantage is that you won’t ingest a quart of canola oil while consuming your meal. And the taste difference is negligible.

Step 14: Assemble the sandwiches.

In this case, the sliders are served with veggie straws.

Unfortunately, Dad had other ideas for my meal, ideas I rejected with extreme prejudice.

Dad waited until I consumed some of my lamb-based half-cannister of Caesar before finally teasing me with something tasty.

Notice that I rejected the veggie straw.

After supping on the table scrap, I realized that there are few things more yummy than a Walleye Slider crafted in a NINJA FOODIE.

Ok, your turn. What is your favorite out-of-the-ordinary meal that you’ve made during our ten-month hibernation from a deadly virus?

And Then The Graupel Hit

Hello. It’s me!

Yeah, that’s me these days. Just sittin’ there like a fool waiting until the vaccine is available for Mom & Dad (currently scheduled for sometime in mid-August 2023).

Since Mom & Dad don’t want to die at Applebees we don’t leave the house much. This means that I need something external, something outside of my control to create excitement.

Today was a day where external excitement was in abundance.

At about 1:00pm a Severe Thunderstorm rolled through the Valley. As an added bonus, the storm dropped a healthy dose of graupel on our parched desert landscape.

But that’s not even the most interesting aspect of the storm. The cold upper atmosphere was forced downward by the storm … and by about 2:00pm the temperature dipped to a frosty thirty-six (36) degrees.

That’s the coldest afternoon temperature ever recorded in Phoenix.

Dad’s a storm chaser, so he asked me if I wanted to go on a reconnaissance mission. Who wouldn’t want to investigate storm damage. If the choice is sitting in a plush bed or heading outside, I’m heading outside, #amirite?

My first job was to assess threats.

Now, if you are saying to yourself “Hey Dash, you look just a little bit thinner than usual”, you’d be right. Every day Dad serves me a microwaved bowl of peas and carrots (mixed with a dollop of butter and a drizzle of chicken stock or I won’t eat it). My collar is about to fall off of my neck. These are the salad days, so to speak.

Well, I found a threat.

I found a palm frond … this thing fell off a palm tree, descending via the aid of gravity and straight-line winds to the parking lot pavement below me.

Within seconds I applied my maxillae to the frond.

Dry and tasteless, I quickly abandoned the fallen soldier. I think I’d rather die of COVID after eating at Applebees than injest any more of the woody fragment pictured above.

That’s what passes for excitement these days, my dear pups.

Happy New Year!

Hello. It’s me!

In my household, the spotlight of the New Year is deservedly upon me, #amirite?

There is a MASH episode where, on New Year’s Eve, Colonel Sherman T. Potter says, and I quote “Here’s to the New Year. May she be a damn sight better than the old one, and may we all be home before she’s over.”

I’d like to adjust the quote for our modern times: “Here’s to the New Year. May she be a damn sight better than the old one, and may we all be allowed to leave home before she’s over.

Social Distancing Awards!!

Hello. It’s me!!

Yeah, that’s me, keeping my distance from everybody, trying to avoid spreading COVID. It’s the loneliest job imaginable. I mean, look at me, sittin’ on the sidewalk like some kind of loser while half of the world is eating at Senor Taco and shopping for Christmas gifts in malls. They’re out there having fun … and I’m doing nothing and getting no credit for my effort.

I thought we were all in this together? Maybe the marketing folks didn’t really mean that.

But last week something AMAZING happened. Mom and Dad took me for a ride to see … wait for it … wait for it … GRANDMA and GRANDPA!! I browsed their rental unit with unabashed zeal, scanning the grounds for threats … again, socially distanced in an effort to protect Grandma and Grandpa.

Yeah, that’s a two-fer right there … ducks and a crazy hose. I categorized the threats as “perceived”, allowing the festivities to continue unfettered.

Here’s where things got interesting.

Grandma decided that I deserved an award for nine months of impeccable social distancing. The awards ceremony was unprecedented, albeit not livestreamed.

I didn’t just get one beaded necklace. I was awarded a SERIES of beaded necklaces. One by one, I was honored for protecting essential workers, neighbors, and the family unit.

The weight of the world just rolled off my shoulders. Well, that’s not true. I traded the weight of the world for the weight of the necklaces, but you know what I mean.

I felt as proud as I’ve ever been.

I just wonder … would the spread of COVID be reduced if everybody were awarded beaded necklaces? I know, I know, the data suggests otherwise, with what happened on Bourbon Street in New Orleans last Spring and all, but nevertheless it’s something to think about. Maybe we all just need to be recognized somehow for all of the good we tried to do in 2020, #amirite? With a vaccine coming in the first six months of 2021 (sooner if you know somebody of influence and have a couple of Gs to spare), we don’t have that much longer to sit by ourselves and wait out the end of this thing. A reward would sure help us get through the final stretch, the kind of reward I earned from Grandma last week.

I now know I have the strength to continue my efforts at Social Distancing.

Window Treatments

Hello. It’s me!

When you just want to get a few Zs, sometimes it helps to close your window treatments. Make the room as dark as possible, #amirite?

Or maybe you just want to shield your eyes from the horrific political commercials? Why are these people so darn angry? I just don’t need that kind of immature and uncaring behavior in my life. A sumptuous crunchable and quality window treatments … that’s all you really need … well, that and avoiding rusted metals at all costs.

Sometimes Camping Stings

Hello. It’s me!!

That’s what contempt looks like. Contempt for “Vespula Vulgaris” … the “common wasp”.

Here’s the story. Mom and Dad decide to go camping. Oh, finally, FINALLY we’re going to have some fun, after a record warm summer with more than fifty (50) days with high temperatures above 110 degrees. We drive north to Flagstaff. Set up. A cold front blows through and now we’re bundled up around a fire with temperatures in the 30s. Still cozy inside the RV. All in all, I’m happy to be out in nature, even if we’re experiencing a 70 degree temperature swing, #amirite?

The mercury rises all the way up to around 60 degrees the next day. By late morning, I’m sitting in my lawn chair, enjoying life, when I hear something buzzing around me.

It’s “Vespula Vulgaris”.

I’m just annoyed enough to take a bite out of this buzzer. I chomp, he evades, then I chomp again and he evades. On his third lap around my head, I chomp and this time I’VE GOT HIM!!

In my mouth.

I should warn you, this is the point in the story where the plot blows wide open.

This little buzzer, oh I don’t know, maybe he was worried I’d swallow him or something, he tries to make a run for it back out of my mouth. Just as I’m trying to squeeze him between my molars, he gets to my lip, and as I close down again HE STINGS ME.


Uncomfortably, I might add.

Mom takes me into the RV, evaluates my mouth, and pulls a stinger out of my lip.

For the next few hours, I throbbed in pain, with a non-symmetric lip.

From there, I kinda lost interest in camping. I mean, our setup was sweet, but the attack by the murder hornet put a real stain on what could have been a fulfilling and relaxing mid-week vacation.

So we headed home. The haze of California wild fires accelerated our unload.

In a different world, a warmer world, maybe wildfire embers and ambers will singe the hindquarters of “Vespula Vulgaris”, allowing my vacation to proceed unfettered. Sometimes camping stings. This was one of those times.