Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The Down Under Chronicles, part 2

Forget my hosts--these are the faces I really flew 19 hours to see!  These are Lisa and Ray's girls.  As I've mentioned, they are long-coated Alaskan Malamutes.  The youngest is nearly two and is shown in the top photo.  The older is on the bottom and is eight. 

Aren't those the sweetest, furriest faces you've ever seen?  (Don't tell Juneau, Sitka, or Poquito I said that!) 

Now you can see why I fell in love with them through their photos! 

Don't you just want to hug them and kiss those furry snoots?  It's very obvious that they are the apple of their parents' eyes, too.  They have tons of cute nicknames for them, but I think my favorite is "cheeky bears."  I can just hear Lisa saying it to them!

Everywhere they go, the girls have their own fan club.  In Australia, it is permissible for dogs to be at outdoor restaurant seating--and a lot of restaurants have outdoor seating!  Because of this, the girls were able to go with us several times when we ate out.  Each time, a crowd developed in record time!  They are celebrities; everyone asks about them and wants to pet them and take pictures of them.  The girls handle their celebrity with aplomb, and still manage to find time to beg sweetly for a taste of the meal du jour.  

I love these girls just as if they were mine.  I hope someday, I'll be able to visit them again!  

All that celebrity wears a furry body out

Monday, October 06, 2014

The Down Under Chronicles, part 1

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my incredible hosts--Lisa and Ray Luscombe, and their girls!  My trip to Australia wouldn't have been half as enjoyable without them.  I truly felt like a Melburnian for the duration of my visit.

Lisa and I met online through Flickr several years ago.  We were initially attracted by our mutual love for and ownership of Alaskan Malamutes.  At the time, Lisa had just one dog.   Her baby was long-coated and I had never seen such a gorgeous dog!  Every time Lisa posted a picture of her dog, I quickly "favorited" the picture and commented.  Pretty soon, she started commenting on my photos of Juneau and Sitka too.  Even though Lisa lived in Australia and I lived in the US, we became friends.

Years passed and we remained friends even though we only knew each other online.  When my mother died, Lisa was so kind and understanding--I could feel her compassion and friendship from half a world away.  Our friendship moved from strictly being on Flickr to messaging each other on Facebook.  We wrote frequently, learning about each other's lives, our dogs, our hobbies, and our other friends.  Not too long after my mom died, Lisa said, "You know, you should come visit sometime!"

Visit Australia?  Now that was something I'd never really considered.  It seemed so far away--and it would be expensive too!  I thought about it and thought about it, though.  Finally at Christmas 2012, when I visited my parent's grave, I made it official.  I told them, "I am going to visit Australia!"  I told Lisa too.  I gave myself plenty of time to prepare, planning the trip for September 2014.  For a  person who hasn't travelled in years, it was going to be a big undertaking.
In the meantime, Lisa and her husband got a second dog--another long-coated malamute.  The second was just as beautiful as the first and I joked that it was a toss-up as to who I wanted to meet more--Lisa or her dogs! 

Over the next 15 months, we talked more and more about the trip and what I'd like to see and do while I was there.  I created a Pinterest board for Melbourne/Victoria and Lisa and I both added things to it that looked interesting.  I bought my airplane ticket in the spring of 2014, and then the trip became "real."  Lisa and I kept in close contact, learning more and more about each other as we talked over Facebook.

With my ticket purchased, I then applied for a passport.  Mine had long since expired, since the last time I was out of the country was my honeymoon in 1988!  I quickly discovered that you also need a visa to visit Australia.  Good thing I did my research on that one!  Who knew?

In September, the official countdown started.  And on September 17th I left the US at 10pm and didn't arrive in Melbourne until about 12:30 pm on September 19th.  Those international flights are killers!  Melbourne is 15 hours ahead of Dallas, so I basically lost an entire day in transit! 

Lisa met me at the airport.  Even though we'd never met in person, she looked just like her photos--so lovely!  I spent the next 12 days getting to know her and her husband.  And I can truthfully say, I've never met any nicer people.  They were so generous in allowing a virtual stranger to stay in their home, but it made my experience so wonderfully personal and I felt so well-connected with the city. 

Lisa is the art director for the Royal Auto Club's magazine, and not only is she amazing at the work she does, but she is also a super talented photographer and a virtuoso cook.  Ray is just a darling too--and he and Lisa have the most awesome relationship.  Even after 24 years of marriage, it's obvious they adore each other!  

 Our friends asked us, "Aren't you nervous going to stay with a total stranger?"  "Aren't you nervous letting a total stranger stay in your house?"  Both of us were completely relaxed with our decisions.  "Sometimes you just know about a person," we said to each other--and meant it!  I just knew in my heart Lisa was a wonderful person.

Well, I'm running out of adjectives and superlatives for my friends the Luscombes.  I hope you enjoy the tale of the adventures that is to follow!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Down under here I come!

I leave tonight for a vacation in Melbourne, Australia!  I've been dreaming, planning, and anticipating this trip ever since 2012, when my friend Lisa Luscombe invited me.  And today, it's actually happening!  

I will have plenty of pictures and stories when I get back.  I fully expect to have an Aussie accent by then as well!

Monday, July 07, 2014

All the little things add up

I was scrolling through one of my favorite Internet sites the other day, looking at pictures of a celebrity who was making a personal appearance.  The celebrity had people all around him:  average joes wanting autographs, an assistant holding his coffee, and security guards holding back the masses.
As I studied the picture, I wished that I were a celebrity.  If I were famous, I'd have money to do whatever I wanted, people waiting on me hand and foot, and crowds of people jostling just for a glimpse of me.  I've always thought it would be cool to be a celebrity!  Oh, I know that there are drawbacks, but since I'm never going to be famous, those don't really matter. 
As I was studying the picture, I got a little sad because the likelihood of my becoming famous at this stage is practically nil.  But then I remembered that I have been asked for my autograph once (and it was cool!)  And that got me thinking, and I realized something.  I am lucky because I am the star of one show--my life!
Have you ever thought about how many accomplishments and achievements you have?  You may not be a big celebrity, but I'll bet that you've done a lot of things that most people will never have the chance to do.  And when I thought about that, it made me happy--and I decided to keep an ongoing list of things I've been lucky enough to do, to achieve, or to accomplish.  Without even trying I listed over 50 things.   
  1. Been asked for my autograph
  2. Had surgery
  3. Had a cast
  4. Had stitches
  5. Been married
  6. Bought a house
  7. Sold a house
  8. Had a fancy wedding
  9. Had a European honeymoon
  10. Spoken to a large group of people
  11. Taught formal classes
  12. Spoken to a large group of people without notes
  13. Rescued dogs
  14. Rescued a cat
  15. Been too thin
  16. Been skinny
  17. Been fat
  18. Learned more than one foreign language
  19. Won an art contest
  20. Appeared in a newspaper article
  21. Graduated from college
  22. Graduated from graduate school
  23. Got a teaching certificate
  24. Flown in an airplane
  25. Flown in a helicopter
  26. Ridden a roller coaster
  27. Read over 100 books in a year
  28. Lived with a roommate
  29. Lived with a husband
  30. Lived by myself
  31. Donated time/money to charities
  32. Directed a fashion show
  33. Been a dresser at a fashion show
  34. Been on a cruise
  35. Been on a motor boat
  36. Been on a large boat (not ship)
  37. Been in all 50 states
  38. Seen glaciers
  39. Seen geysers
  40. Seen volcanoes
  41. Ridden a train
  42. Lived in a house
  43. Lived in a condominium
  44. Lived in an apartment
  45. Seen a double rainbow
  46. Know how to swim
  47. Know how to roller skate
  48. Know how to ice skate
  49. Know how to ride a bicycle
  50. Taken modeling lessons
  51. Won a prize for art
  52. Been a member of a sorority
  53. Stayed in a hotel suite
  54. Been to a luau
  55. Been to Europe
  56. Been to Canada
  57. Been to Mexico
  58. Survived cancer
  59. Been to a circus
  60. Dived from the high board
  61. Had someone tell me that they use something I taught them everyday
  62. Had a best friend
  63. Know how to cook
I know none of these are big things, but to me they are important things--the things that make up my life. 

What have you done that makes you the star of your own show?

Monday, May 26, 2014


Excuse the peeling skin--and the ugly chicken neck (yuck!).  Next color will be the blue birds.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

More color...

Some new color on the sleeve! We're going very slowly in order to minimize the trauma to my arm. Next appointment will be next week.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The cat's out of the bag...

The cat is now out of the bag, so to speak.  Since the first of the year, I've been working on a "sleeve" of tattoos.    Before we go any further...yes, I know it's extreme.  And, yes, I am well aware of the fact that my parents would have most whole-heartedly disliked this.  But, my parents are gone, and I'm me--and I like tattoos.  So, no negative nancy comments, please.

The sleeve is done is the American Traditional tattooing style.  There are eight elements:  dragon, sugar skull, quill and ink pot, blue birds, rose, sun, moon, and book.  It has taken approximately 30 hours to complete the initial line work and the shading.  I have color only on the quill and ink pot so far.  When it is complete, there will be color on all the designs (except the dragon which was completed before I began the sleeve).  

The sleeve draws a lot of attention, which is to be expected--and fine with me.  Some of the comments I've received crack me up.  According to one guy, the tattoos are "tight."  Another said that they are "vicious."  I still don't know if that's good or bad!  Also, I've certainly earned a lot of street cred with my students.  

Absolutely the most painful parts have been the upper, inner arm--and I have one picture where you can see bruises created when the excess ink is wiped off--and the crook of the elbow.  

As I progress more, I'll keep you posted!


Sunday, March 09, 2014

Happy birthday, daddy!

Unbelievable to think that today would have been my father's 86th birthday.  Even more unbelievable that he's been gone for 25 years now.  Daddy was just the best daddy ever (in my opinion), and not a day goes by that I don't miss him.
So, in honor of his birthday, here is the second annual compendium of fun facts about my dad:
1.  Daddy only spanked me twice in my entire life; he left disciplining me up to my mom.  The two times he felt compelled to discipline me, I knew I was REALLY in trouble!
2.  He was the oldest of nine children and shared his first name with his father.  His father had no middle name, but to differentiate the two, grandpa  was "Ed, Sr."
3.  He collected stringed musical instruments:  guitars, violins, banjos, etc.  He had nearly 100 of them when he died.
4.  Every Valentine's Day, he gave my mom one of those old-fashioned heart-shaped boxes with chocolates inside.  When I was little, I always got a stuffed animal!
5.  Daddy was very generous--he would have literally given the shirt off his back if someone wanted or needed it.
6.  He bought a burnt orange-colored suit in the 1970s.  He never wore it because my mom made fun of him.  Thank goodness she did; he would have looked like a pimp in it!
7.  He rarely ever had properly fitting shoes when he was growing up--if he had shoes at all.  As an adult, he had recurring nightmares where he would be in a public place and look down and would have no shoes.
8.  Daddy loved to anybody!
9.  As fun and friendly as Daddy was when he was off work, he could still be a bit of a tyrant at work.  He wanted everything to be orderly and well-functioning at work, and if someone interfered with that, he could get cranky (to put it mildly).  His personal friends never believed it when mom would tell them about this side of his personality.
10. Daddy was in the army and earned his GED while he was enlisted. 
It makes me really sad that it's getting harder and harder to remember details about my father.  25 years is a long time to be away from someone.  I can remember his voice anymore either.  I do remember that the last words he ever said to me were, "I love you."
The feeling was, and is, mutual!

Monday, February 24, 2014

It's done, over, finito, finished, through!

That sound you heard last week?  That was me, sighing in relief!  The last hurdle created by my mom's death has been cleared.
In other words--my so-called "Winter Home" has been sold!  (I called it that because was just south of my current home, and people go south for the winter, so..."Winter Home.")

I can't believe it's finally gone. 
Hallelujah chorus ensues...

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Here's the new "ink."  His name is Malice.  And, yes, all my tattoos have names.  There's Puff (the Magic Dragon), Sinistryx, Lucifer, and now, Malice.
And, in case you're curious--yes, it hurts to get a tattoo.  They are basically poking multiple needles in your skin for however long it takes to get the design completed.  This one took about 2 1/2 hours.  The amount of tenderness is also dependent on what part of the body you're getting tattooed.  Any place where the skin is close to the bone hurts worse--feet, shoulder blades, hands.  Fattier places--biceps, boobs--hurt less.  This one was probably the second most painful (shoulder blade was the worst).
Right now he's scabby and scaly, but is looking better every day.  Tattoos are not pretty when they are healing!
I feel like a rock star again!

Friday, January 17, 2014

New Year, New Me!

Many years ago, I started this blog because I saw cool people blogging about cool things, and I wanted to be one of them.  Of course, I'm not cool, and I don't ususally do cool things, so the blog was pretty "blah" and my interest waned.  When my mom died, however, I was left without my favorite outlet for my feelings and thoughts.  So, I revived Puff, the Magic Dragon.  Over the last two years, I have very much enjoyed sharing things with my readers.
Most of my posts are pretty mundane--about my dogs, or the vintage things I like to collect.  This post, however, is deeply personal.  So bear with me, and I'll return you to the dogs and collectibles soon.
I never dreamed that having my last remaining parent die would stir up such a storm of feelings.  Oh, don't get me wrong--of course I knew that I would grieve her loss.  But I assumed that I would grieve, and well, that would be that.  Little did I realize that her death would make me feel so many things besides just grief.  Suddenly, I had to be strong and do all the right things, because there was no one else to do them.  I've heard it said that you never really grow up until your last parent dies; I guess whoever said that really knew what they were talking about.

Over the last two years, I've felt so old, for lack of a better word.  So many responsibilities, so many decisions, with no one to help me make them.  I didn't even bat an eyelash when I turned 50 last September--probably because I felt as though I were 70! 

Something happened in November, though, that shook up my world--and when I tell you what it is you're going to laugh your heads off at my silliness.  Now those of you who know me, know that I'm single; one failed marriage was enough for me!  I don't generally pay too much attention to men.  I have too much other stuff to worry about.  However, when People Magazine published their "Sexiest Man Alive" for 2013, I noticed that their choice--Adam Levine--is a Hottie McHotterson!  Of course he is, he's the SEXIEST MAN ALIVE!  And, all of a sudden, hormones I forgot I had woke up and started to cha cha! 

Now please don't think I am deluded!  I know Adam Levine is not my soul mate; I know I will never even meet him; and I know he wouldn't have anything to do with me at any rate.  But I'd forgotten how much fun I used to have when I was younger, obsessing over my celebrity crushes.  And, suddenly, I remembered that I'm not 70!  I'm only 50--plenty of time to have a good time and sow a few more wild oats! 

Not only that, this whole thing made me realize that I've been trying to act like my mother.  Not that there is anything wrong with the way my mom was--it's just that I'm not her!  Maybe that's why I've been having such a hard time.  It's like trying to wear clothing that doesn't fit.  You can't make it work, no matter how badly you wish it would.  I'm not my mom, and I never will be.  It's time for me to be ME again.

Since I noticed his hottness (and how did I ever miss it before?), I've had such a good time!  I'm listening to music again, I got a new tattoo (oh yes I did!), and I've just been having more fun in general.  So, thank you Adam Levine!  You'll never know what you did for me, but I do appreciate it.  You are a beautiful man!