How to Hold the Heart of a Woman 2018 and onward to forever

It’s really very simple.  After all that’s said and done.

After all the bellowing of liberation and believe me suits

and attache cases, we still appreciate:

  1. Flowers that arrive for no reason whatsoever.
  2. Gifts of thoroughly and irrevocably impractical “girl things”.
  3. Being shown how to clean our battery terminals.
  4. Helping to snow shovel the driveway.
  5. Saying “Yahoo, go get em!” when we do something wildly courageous.
  6. Holding hands in public or at least winking at us while we walk together.
  7. Finding things that have disappeared on our Hard drive.
  8. Dancing slowly and silkily to an old tune….in public and private.
  9. Listening to what we have to say and at least appearing interested.
  10. Compassionately explaining confusing electronics
  11. Covering us in cashmere when we are napping
  12. Calling us “my girl”, sweetheart or love, at least once a year.
  13. Calling on a Thursday afternoon, just to say “I love you.”
  14. Holding us in your arms and saying absolutely NOTHING.



                                                 Madam Truefire  1994  updated 2017

Rent A Mongoose

This week I spent precious time with a glorious feline companion named Sophie.   We encountered two snakes, a teenage rattler and something quite slithery and unknown. My search for information and safety let me down many roads and aside from buying a used mongoose on the web, there are a number of action items to consider, ponder, pray upon and inspire:

  1. Don’t wear open toed sandals when in an area of snake presence.  Boots, and even those cool wellingtons (name for high rubber boots in Scotland, will dull the fangs of any self respecting reptile.  Did I mention that you need to shake out any b00ts that have been stored in the garage?  Meandering reptiles and insects LOVE dark recesses.  So don’t put your feet inside without checking first.  And don’t reach in with your bare hand.  I know this should be obvious, but what the heck.
  2. Don’t wear a flowing caftan.  It looks cool in the patio, but a snake up the skirt  can be avoided by wearing jeans.  Oh and don’t wear the tight jeans.   You are defeating the purpose, sexy and bitten won’t get you much longevity.   Again, the fangs of a snake don’t go far into jeans.
  3. Though a pussy cat LOVES adventure, and anything moving, and I do mean anything, a tight leash is life saving.   She will see a reptile before you do and leap to snag it. Predator to predator, the snake could be victor. So unless you have complete eyes in front, back and peripherally,on your head (some aliens do), don’t let her meander into any bush space at all.
  4. When seeing a snake, grabbing the pussycat and running like hell MAY work, but if the snake is coiled I’d beat it over the head with the golf iron and then run. Wise male friend takes exception to whacking with golf club.  He says the snakes strike range is further out than the length of a golf club.  So walk back slowly.    Do NOT turn back, just back away VERY SLOWLY.    Snakes react to quick movement like the rest of us.
  5.   OK, about now, let’s start humming, “We shall overcome”, or playing it on a kazoo.  Maybe the snakes are humming it to themselves.  After all, they were here first.
  6. Keeping an imaginative and exploring feline happy is the challenge.More important, keeping her alive is my focus. So we sing, I read to here and we nap.  When yowling occurs, I speak quietly about the snake situation and most of the time she quiets down.  IF it doesn’t work, take her out front and she will be bored to tears.  Her meowing will cease when she has told you that this is NOT her favorite stalking ground.
  7. I propose a mechanical snake or lizard in the house, run on batteries. But then that may be teaching her the wrong thing or emphasizing the joy of snake and lizard hunting.
  8. A snake fence is a capital idea.  Still, I think snakes can figure that sort of thing out, can’t they burrow?  Good Lord, this is starting to sound like a scene from NCIS.  By the way, one of my military male friends suggested getting buck shot or something involving a gun and shooting the snake’s head off.Trust me, I will NOT go there for a variety of reasons. And besides, my eyesight and aim would insure that the fence was hit before the reptile.
  9. Another friend just called in and said:for God’s sake tell themnot to sit on a boulder or rock. That’s where snakes like to hide.  Being bitten on the backside is just for starters on this one.

So what I would suggest is the following:  Be CAREFUL, Be alert, Dress protectively, stay the heck away from bushes, and BE IN CHARGE.  Pussycat will argue with you, but pussycat will remain alive with your guidance.

OK, let’s talk about instructions for what if?

  1. Vet instructions and map to vet are essential.
  2. Time of walking should be before 4PM to avoid any emergency taking place when the closest vet is not open

But let’s get down to brass tacks.  The animal caregiver needs to stay alive to protect the pussycat.

  1. A rather important item is listing the nearest ER for the human, in case he/she is bitten.  Sure 911, is a fabulous idea, but living in the hills and with the economy cutbacks in California, waiting for Godot will not save anyone’s life.   A friend had a situation recently on her property.  She knew enough to keep calm and keep her heart above the suspected bite, oh Lord, research that one.

But one thing she said:  a 911 team does NOT carry snake bite kit or antivenom kit.  You are going to love this one:  Her advice was to tell 911 the exact road to take to the place (ER) and say you will them in your car, license plate given and flashing lights as you  meet them half way. Now I have to tell you, this is a cool idea, but how many of us are going to be calm enough to do that one.

Another friend suggested a snake bite kit.  Allegedly it removes the venom on several occasions. Some articles bash this kit saying that it only removes 2  to 3%  of  the  venom, and not in muscular areas.  I, for one, am not going to take any chances and go with the statistics and not buy one at Big 5 or another store that sells them.  They are not expensive, and COULD SAVE YOUR, repeat, YOUR life. This option is still up for grabs. I think I’d have one around “in case”, but use it only if physician advised. I returned one I purchased as it was too intricate. There are really simple ones available on line. Another person from Marin told me that you can buy antivenin (or antivenom)but I’d research this a whole lot further with a reliable vet and a physician. Yet another snake advisor recommended snake immunization. This needs far more research.

So there you have it,  Short of renting a mongoose on Ebay, it takes a lot of awareness and caution.

p.s. Just got an email, and a tweet, from a Mother Snake. She has reminded me that           snakes do a lot of good stuff. She recommended having a picture atlas of harmless snakes like King and Garter who keep the rodent population at bey. folks that have lived in the desert areas take snakes for granted. They are part of the topography and simply need to be respected. A  lot of folks say that snakes are shy and will move away, but let’s face it, we need to be prepared when in snake country.  I suspect I shall be getting a tweet from a Mother Rat soon enough. Frankly, I am sending out a call for all of us critters, large and small to be AWARE and use common sense and also to be prepared for any emergency.  Amen.  Kumbaya, and kazoo at rest.

The Tooth Fairy Expedition

Five stalwart companions mounted their steed well before dawn (4AM to be exact).  The steed was a gas guzzling SUV but hey, it saved taking two cars, and allowed for naps, comradery and Starbuck and gas station breaks.  We took no prisioners.  There was no dalliance or detours to view wild flowers.. We were on a mission:  the tooth fairy awaited in a place called San Luis, a border town near Yuma.

Having received numerous and wonderfully shocking estimates on the need of this and that, I was staring at a  minimum of: $4K to max: the sky is the limit.  The other members of the tooth posse had a bit less dramatic work to do, but had also been delivered the option:  sell your first born ….to get this done.

Dental work is daunting at the best of times.  I admit I am a total wuss.  I require gas to even have my teeth cleaned.  I entered the “Valley of the Dolls” by taking a valium before I even walked into the dental office.  What we found was a highly dignified and experienced dentist who fixed us all,  My $4K shrank to $700.    I had one extraction, two crowns and a fixed bridge.  One crown alone in the US exceeds $1K.    what are we thinking?  Designer dentistry is BIG BUSINESS.  Don’t get me wrong:  I highly value my stateside dentist(s) but I simply cannot afford the prices that are now placed on it all.  Across the border dentistry may be a risk but my risk is even worse: leave it all and don’t get it done.  My recommendation is to get a couple of references from yanks who have had the work done personally.

Alcadonas is a simple walk across the border from Yuma, Arizona.  San Luis is a smaller town a few miles further.  Tijuana is closest to San Diego.  Clinics vary from highly sophisticated one stop shops including implants, to keep it simple dentists who do simple work.  Oh and did I add a taco and corona await the hungry and thirsty across the road?   Snow birds aside:  all ages were seen waiting for their work to be done.  Is this perchance a dental revolution?

I’ve researched Viet Nam, Costa Rica, Thailand, India:  they all do medical tourism.  Again, fine work, but best to have references.   If you have the frequent flyers to cash in, these countries  are set up for dental and medical tourism, including WONDERFUL places to stay during the adventure.

SO:  We came, we saw, we conquered.   My advice? if you can go off season of snow bird immigration, the chances of waits are much less.  Off season gets hot, but hey, suck it up, the price is brilliant and so is the work.

Our noble steed returned us to the Sierra hinterlands in four days. Crowns, cleaning, extractions, bridges, you name it: the tooth fairy delivered.


The Eleventh Hour Tax Evader

I am just completing a joyous vacation without pay, a euphemism of the State of California for end of quart break of a part-time teacher.  I had neatly set aside this period for the organization, accumulation or bottom line hysteria known as tax preparation.

Last year, I was so paranoid I made an appointment in January.  There was, indeed, a method to my madness.  My CPA gets the brittle frizzies in April and I cannot stand to see a man in the throes of hysteria.  Unfortunately, this year I chose to slide in midst weeping and gnashing of teeth to meet the deadline…..just barely.  I’m booked for April 12.

But back to my enforced vacation, nee organization period.  The first two days were spent in court arguing with an ex-husband over cost of living, starving children and tattered clothing.  That altercation left me far too upset to address the IRS.

The next four days were spent in dignified preparation for St. Patrick’s Day.  I cannot be held accountable for the fact that an old friend named Flynn had a birthday, the Hybernia Society had a formal banquet or that an Irish pub opened up within a stone’s throw of my home.  I was rendered disabled with Charley horses in both calves from jigging.  Surely, with a low pain threshold like mine, I did not dare approach my W2.

Next came the first day of spring and the infinite possibility that tiny little wild flowers might be blossoming SOMEWHERE.  Despite the warning of the AAA that no reports had yet been received from the hinterlands, I packed a lunch of feta cheese, Greek olives, french bread and wine and allowed myself to be kidnapped in a sports car heading north.  No wild flowers, no tax preparation, but we had a helluva fine picnic.

All is not lost, however.  I have 48 hours left before I face the crazed accountant in my life.  I have locked myself in my office/spare room.  (If the IRS ever questions that this room is used for business, they need only to put a federal periscope through the window.  No self respecting slob would habitate this den of chaos.  I am surrounded by piles of paper:  One for babysitting, one for telephone, another for gas and electric.  Let’s see, business expenses, educational fees, ah bank statements (why didn’t I balance my account monthly all year?)  I’ll do it next year,what’s left of it.

I also have copies of “How to Get Organized”, “How to be a Financially Secure Woman” and “Pulling Your Own Strings.”

Since I have not broken out in a rash or a crying jag, I must not be serious yet.  Just in case, the refrigerator is stocked with a modest amount of wine for medicinal purposes only.

Well, maybe I’ll just dive in, organize, stack, file and finish; but…….the grout in the bathroom looks moldy, the patio needs sweeping, and it just happens to be a perfect morning for sitting on a rock and photographing squirrels.  I guess I don’t need to get too uptight.  As Scarlet O’Hara said, “Tomorrow is another day.”


I found this attached to my tax file.  Nothing changes, nothing remains the same.  I am still Scarlet O’Hara at tax time.

Car Keys and Hair Conditioner

An exerpt from Chronicles from the Swing, by Madam Truefire

We sat in a swing: two women of two genres: One a diva in her early 50s, the other an aging dame in her first year of 70.

They sat in an ancient swing and drank good Shiraz after having walked a mile or so for aerobics.

The younger babe was in a crisis of sorts: living with an abusive man who called her various unattractive words in the alphabet beginning with C and or F. She flipped an F back in true Italian style. I call it the game of alphabetic jousting.

I said: “OK. Let’s find a solution.”
“Should I smother him?”
“No, for Gods sake. You would go to prison.
You can’t sustain bras without pushups and drab cotton prison garb. Plus you look hideous in orange.
MOST important, it’s your hair.”
“What do you mean?” She asked.
“You wouldn’t be able to sustain incarceration with roots and no hair conditioner.
“No you can’t off him,.This is the deal. It’s about car keys.”
“Car Keys. You hold them in your hand or as an ancient Sufi master counseled me,
Get a chain or something, but have them in your Levis or around your neck. You never know when you have to take a sudden road trip.”

“I’m not following you.” she said. Divas can be dense at times.

“Listen up. I nearly bought the cancer thing with my left breast three years ago. A medical intuitive reminded me that I had a certain life style that had to be ended. It was “doormat”. So now I keep my keys in my hand and ready myself for escape. I don’t need to say a thing, except, I DON”T need to put up with mental or verbal abuse. The first time I tried this method, it was a roaring success. My darling first born was loudly and offensively accusing me of some error in my behavior. I quietly picked up the keys and walked out and equally quietly closed the door behind myself. She called me on the cell in less than five minutes. “Where in hell are you?” She queried somewhat shrilly. I peacefully answered, “I’m taking a drive. I don’t need to continue with that particular conversation. Have a good evening.” I went to a friend’s house and then came back much later. The air had cleared. I don’t want to say that shrill sessions don’t arise any more. They do, but I just walk or drive away. It’s a choice,I can assure you.

.Trust me. When he calls you names, he doesn’t get to do that any more unless you allow it. DRIVE AWAY, and don’t tell him where you are going. When you return, politely explain that you will do it again if he ever calls you ANY names AND MEAN IT.

I’m 70, girlfriend, I wish I had learned this at 50.”

We sat and swang, is that the proper verb, swang? Swinged, oh who in heck cares, but we were sisters in solution mode. She had been raised by poodles; I had been born of wolves. Who Knew?
When she left, I called out: “Remember, your roots. They won’t look good in prison garb.”’

A Fond Fair Thee Well to Lingering

A Fond Fair Thee Well to Lingering….

To linger in the past is a well known recipe for illness. Holding on with white knuckles to what might have beens and if I’d onlys and exacting some sort of invisible list of regrets should be obvious enough; but let’s ponder some other faulty Lingerings……

Identifying oneself via career and refusing to change even when the economy throws a cog into the ever turning wheel can insure not only stress, tsunami sized stress, but equally large sized disappointment. It’s also important not to linger in a job that no longer suits who you are.

Growing up and beyond anything is a guaranteed road to freedom. Most people don’t give themselves true freedom. It’s far safer to lock the doors of what ifs and hunker down in the good ole status quos of life. This, by the way, cements the linger phenomenon. Buses, trains and planes are missed on the road to holding on tightly to an identification that no longer fits.

I suggest buying that tic ket on the bus, train or plane to Somewhere, and with wide eyed wonder, showing up at a stop and leaping perkily into a new adventure. OK, That sounds too scary for most. The What ifs of fear, lack and potential failure are a mighty Trinity. But if, for one moment, one shining moment, we could turn off all the buzz, the wifis, the dings of texts, you know, the every day fast lane and ponder a Plan B, it might be fun and frankly life saving.

Seniors are a fabulous example of this fork in the road option. Have you ever wondered why some septa and octagenarians are distinctly following the path of extinction while a few others are trotting the light fantastic, having fabulous love lives, and making their own kids wonder if they are ever going to get serious and be the parents and grand parents that they were promised.

Does the secret lie in good genes? Maybe sometimes; but mostly it’s attitude.

Don’t get me wrong. Illness of any kind is the quickest road to aging I know of; but infectious disease aside, lifestyle illness is truly the red light zone.

Retirement is another factor that may take too long to discuss today, but it’s prudent to have a Plan B for any life change whether it is employment downsizing, economic debacle or a broken hip.

It is pretty clear that the word PUNT could be important.

Sitting down again without electronics and examining one’s life might be helpful. Actually, how about asking the question: What do I really want to do with the rest of my life? It’s important and it may take more than five minutes with a smart phone in stun mode.

So let’s get back to the elders who don’t appear to be accepting status quo. One of the leading causes is their ability to surf change. Another is their dedication to ditch that very Status Quo. AND, that, my dears, is where Plan BE kicks in.

Geri Lennon (Madam Truefire) copyrighted June 28, 2013