waterdog 1

This little Waterdog was tossed out of a car and pelted with rocks. It was rescued, shaved to remove hundreds of ticks – and found a home.

Nearly all the dogs I know are rescues. Some are mutts, others pedigree. Some deliberately ran away from unhappy homes, casting their furry selves upon the kindness of strangers. Others were walked out on, dumped on a lonely country road or slipped off their leash downtown to dodge traffic.

Some people just move and leave the family dog behind confused, hiding and miserable under the house unable to answer the cruelest question of all.

“What did I do wrong?”

For every unhappy ending there are many happy ones. The dog rescue societies of the world are up there with Medecins Sans Frontieres, UNICEF and Amnesty International – yet their achievements are so rarely sung.

Out into the rain these selfless souls go, following up a sighting of a cowering, terrified abandoned pooch.

Sitting at a hospital bedside reassuring a dying owner that their precious pet will continue to be loved.

Scouring the pounds for dogs who have reached their cut-off date, with only the needle awaiting them.

Instead of a cold friendless pound foster parents will often step in until a permanent home is found.  These people have a special corner of heaven reserved for them. It has fields full of wagging tails to greet them and soft nuzzling warm noses to kiss them goodnight.

Their job is to offer temporary refuge. Sometimes hundreds of animals will come through their door and out the other side.

Sometimes a special magic happens and they stay.

Brother and sister Marley and Chipper are two 13-year old dachshund corgi mixes who had never been apart. What was the chance that anyone would take them on as a pair when their owner died?

A saint called Francis, who had recently lost her own beloved dog, took them in and fostered them. They didn’t come with much baggage. Two small beds and a collar and leash. Marley had her special woolly oven mitt with the thumb chewed out. Chipper had a warthog.

Chipper couldn’t stop shaking. His anxiety levels were off the chart. He never took his eyes off Francis and became known as “the stalker.” His sister, bigger and fatter and smarter kept her eye on him, always checking him out.

They were only going to stay for a month. The month became six. Three years later they are still there.  The shaking has stopped and the barking started. The neighbours aren’t thrilled with this development, but the dogs have decided that now they are permanent residents they better taker up security detail.

It’s not just humans who go out of their way to welcome orphans into a family.  Some dogs can tell when a new arrival needs special care. They are there at the door to greet them and stay close for those first uncertain days. A beloved toy is shared and even room made in their own bed for the new scared pooch.

Who knows what they tell them. Probably that they are going to be just fine. And in the meantime, this is how we say “give me a cookie.”

Major Tom to Ground Control

panda deviant art

23 million people have watched retired astronaut Chris Hadfield float high above the world in the International Space Station performing Space Oddity. Due to copyright issues the site was taken down from You Tube, but now, with David Bowie’s blessing, it’s back up.

Once again the Canadian commander is circling the earth. The song, written 45 years ago about a doomed astronaut, still delivers a punch in the guts and a chill down the spines of viewers from Seoul to San Francisco.

Now Hadfield’s using his celebrity to push for an end to international space rivalry in the interest of world harmony.

“The United States and China need symbolic ways to cooperate beyond pandas and this is a really good way to do it,” he said.

After all, old foes America and Russia have already been down this road.

“It would have been very hard to predict in 1989, and yet I was on the Russian space station by 1995 and commander of an international crew by 2013. That’s amazingly quick. We have set an example that not only shows it is possible; it has been done.”

World peace …one song at a time.

Put Putin on You Tube in a Russian sub singing Yellow Submarine. We could all join in. …”And our friends are all aboard….’

Obama, time to shut up with Who Let the Dogs Out and dance to another tune.

Dance like there’s no one watching cause there isn’t. They’re all too busy dancing as fast as they can to stay alive.

And don’t forget to live like there’s no tomorrow because we’re right on track for that.

Rake through your old albums in the White House basement. There might be one in there by Woody Guthrie who knew a thing or two about right and wrong.

It’s called This Land is Your Land and nearly 70 years after it was released it’s still a heart-breaking anthem.

Somebody cover it. Re-release it. Now. Your country needs reminding that America once belonged to Americans before it was snatched away in a hat trick by con men.

Applications for a one-way ticket to Mars have closed. The lines were swamped. What’s happening when people would prefer to risk floating off into the cosmos than face the future on their own planet?

Ground control to Major Tom

Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong…..

(photo: Deviant Art)

Dear Rick Steves -


It’s the only way to travel ~ Mr. Toad

Jan Twissel recently took to the roads of England. Thanks for the laugh!

Originally posted on JT Twissel:

StevesOn page 1019  of your travel guide Great Britain (the Twentieth Edition) you assert the following:

“Driving in Britain is basically wonderful – ”

No offense to all my British friends, but what were you smoking?

Of course, you amend this comment slightly by including the following admonition: “- once you remember to stay on the left and after you’ve mastered the roundabouts.”   Oh yeah.  No sweat. Those roundabouts are a piece of cake!

Bless you for pointing out that other readers found driving in Britain to be a “nerve-wracking” and “regrettable mistake.”  Otherwise I would have felt like a real wimp.

By the way, when you suggest that nervous readers, buy a green P sign to put in their car window, does that sign really mean “pansy-ass driver on board”?

As much as we enjoy your travel guides (I think we’ve bought over thirty of them!), I must point out the…

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Bad Boy Blues


Recently I picked up a large box that had been mailed to me from California. It was as light as a feather and gave no hint of its contents. Inside was something precious.

A dearly departed friend’s hat.

A Stetson.

It was his dress hat, the one we filmed him wearing at his son’s wedding.

He had spent most of his life shooting up heroin and committing armed robbery to pay for it. Long stints in the nations’ worst prisons. But when he opened his mouth and sang the blues he could heal the most crushed heart.

Huntsville Penitentiary in Texas, home of Old Smokey, encouraged him to start a band. It calmed down the inmates as if the water had been spiked with elephant tranquilizer.

He was a true gentleman. A thoroughbred. And a hugely loved legend in the high desert of southern California where he eventually retired – the gorilla on his back long laid to merciful rest.

The old adage about walking a mile in someone’s shoes before you judge them has been updated.

“Then you’ll be a mile away and you’ll have their shoes.”

No one needed to try on Buzz’s hat or steal it. Every dirty rotten thing that had ever happened to him was etched into his face. And he would have happily given you the hat or anything else he owned.

Way too big for my pin head, its new home is on top of the lamp on my desk.  It almost comes with its own soundtrack.

I just have to twirl the beautiful woven band and Buzz’s gravelly, smoky voice – the one that you’d swear was coming from the throat of an old Black Man on the bayou – comes right on into the living room five thousand miles away from Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace where he sang it so many times.

Trouble in mind

Sad and I’m blue

But I won’t be blue always

Cause that sun’s gonna shine in my back door some day

Wherever he is, I hope the sun is shining. It’s not too much to ask, surely.

My new novel is about Buzz. We worked on it together for a long time, right up until he died. I promised him I’d get it out there.


Gold Diggers Anonymous

gold lips

(pic – Georgia Morrow)

One of the characters in my novel How to Un-Marry a Millionaire is a serial marrier. At thirty-seven years old Suzanne Nelson-Drummoyne-Graff-Carmel is onto husband number three- and counting.

Women who marry for status, money or a title have long fascinated me. History is strewn with these creatures who have been blessed with the goods to pull it off.

One of my favourite of these gals was society hostess Nancy Slim Hawks who reigned supreme – collecting husbands, homes, and style icon laurels – from the 1930s until her death six decades later.

The marvelously sultry Lauren Betty Bacall who hit movie screens like the wet dream of every man’s big sleep was not “discovered” by director Howard Hawks as legend goes, but by his wife Slim Hawks.

Slim was only 24 when she married the much older Hawks in 1941. He was the first of the husbands for this repeat offender who chose rich men to enhance her life. Long before the term was coined she was a quintessential trophy wife.

Beautiful, elegant, young and possessed of the type of confidence instilled by an ambitious mother who sent her daughter off in a yellow roadster at 17 to find the good life, Slim Hawks was as accomplished and talented – many said more so – as her more famous husband.

Quick witted with a cynicism well beyond her years, her chit chat was often plucked straight up by Hawks and placed in the mouths of his leading ladies.



The role that launched Ms. Bacall in To Have and Have Not was inspired by Slim who contributed much of her – uncredited – dialogue.

Wearing Slim’s chic clothes, speaking Slim’s zippy sexy lines, including the immortal come-on, ”You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve?” and even using the nickname Slim, she shot to stardom – and bagged the desirable Humphrey Bogart to boot.

As for Hawks himself, Slim knew what she wanted and he didn’t stand a chance.

”He was not only handsome, charming, and successful he was exactly the package I wanted. The career, the house, the four cars, the yacht – this was the life for me.”

Hawks was at the time one of the world’s top directors.

”You’re the most remarkable thing I’ve ever seen,” he said to Slim. “You’re going to marry me.”

”Well, we’ll see. But thanks anyway,” she told him.

”Mostly, I think he liked the way I looked. For him, I was a fabulous arm piece, the ultimate decoration, the embodiment of the Hawks woman. It wasn’t about the woman herself, it was about a look. Howard liked a no- nonsense femininity. His woman could be chic, she could be sexy, but you’d better believe she could also make a ham and hoe a row of beans.”

It was a look and style that Betty Bacall also favoured. Fresh-faced, unaffected – the original California Girls.

Later when Slim had tired of Hawks’ narcissism and philandering and decided to leave the marriage she ran off with another equally famous man.

The great literary agent and impresario Leland Hayward – producer of The Sound of Music among many precious jewels – ushered her into a different type of glamorous world where she reigned by his side as theatrical royalty in her new, reinvented persona.

Long nipping at her heels has been the irrepressible Pamela Churchill – the notorious husband stealer.
Just dumped by Gianni Agnelli redhead Pam was looking for a new husband and grabbed her chance when it came.

Slim had become too sure of poor old Leyland.

Too certain that she was irreplaceable.

She wasn’t.

Out she went and in came Pamela.

Pamela Digby Churchill Hayward Harriman eventually attained her own fame as US Ambassador in Paris, with the help of her last husband Avril Harriman’s vast fortune.

After picking herself up and dusting off her pearls Slim did the only thing any girl in her position would have done.

Went out and found herself another husband.

Sir Kenneth Keith was a Brit with a title and she became the Lady Keith. But like all of them, she kept him begging until she agreed to do him the honour of becoming his wife.

All her life Slim had her pick of the world’s most illustrious men, including Ernest Hemmingway and Clarke Gable who were both in love with her.

”It was about good looks, brains, taste, and style. . . . The only ingredient I brought to this recipe was the recognition that, while you have to be natural, you also have to be different. . . . In my day, different meant not having your hair done in a pompadour and adorning it with a snood, or not trying to hide your intelligence behind a sea of frills. I somehow knew there was a glut in that market. I opted for a scrubbed-clean, polished look. I thought it was more important to have an intelligence that showed, a humor that never failed, and a healthy interest in men.’

Her marriages all ended unhappily. Sir Kenneth bit the dust after 10 long years of marital boredom.
“God blessed me with a happy spirit and many other gifts. What I was not blessed with I went out and got. Sometimes the price was too high, but I’ve never been much of a bargain hunter,” Slim concluded about her life.

Getting rid of that snood was a good move too.