A Few WTF Moments and My Training Recap

I’m not sure if WTF moments is the right term, but a few things this week have given me pause.

First though, if you’re a local or visitor to the Palm Springs area, don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a $150 gift certificate and a bottle of wine at Mitch’s on El Paseo! It’s really a great prize. Enter here.


WTF Moments

Here’s the weirdest: I got a notification a few days ago that the woman who is responsible for me losing my job wanted to connect with me on LinkedIn. Talk about a WTF moment. Seriously, this woman, who was not my boss, and theoretically had no rights as far as hiring and firing, wants to connect. I really want to ask her, “what the hell are you thinking?” So far I’ve just ignored the request.

Alan, my husband and Cat Rescuer (as well as Dog and Calf), feeds the feral cats in the neighborhood, as you may know. Recently he has been working with a charitable organization to get all of the cats spayed or neutered and so far has done about 25 cats. There are always a few that seem to be uncatchable though, and one of those just had kittens the other night. She was very young and didn’t know how to care for them, so after dropping them in the street, she basically abandoned them. Alan tried to feed them, but they were just too young. Sadly, all three died.

Okay, hold on for the WTF moment. The cat gave birth on April 1. The third cat died by early on April 3. On Sunday, April 5, she gave birth to two more kittens. At last look, she was tending to them as a new mother should.


Another kitten from a few years ago (he survived).

It’s only three weeks until the SLO Marathon and I’m beginning to feel like my training is one big WTF moment. Or at least a what the hell am I doing moment. Details of my long run in my training recap below, but I felt the run was so hard, so painful (figuratively, not literally), and just so long, that I’m doubting my commitment to the race. I’ll probably follow my own advice and suck it up, but right now, well, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

Training Recap

My training plan took another hit this week when we lost a front desk receptionist as work. She just didn’t show up one day. My approach to work is that you do what you need to do to get the job done, so I offered to help out as necessary to get through the end of the season. I won’t lose any personal training time, but I’ll work some extra front desk time as needed. That turns out to mean that I’ll be opening two days a week, throwing my training schedule off yet again. I’m not thrilled about working at 5:30 twice a week, but what can you do? It cuts out my Monday workout, which I’m going to try to squeeze in on Tuesday.

I’m so glad we’re three weeks and counting down until the race.

On Wednesday I headed out alone to do a hill workout. My new training partner, my neighbor Christina, wasn’t feeling well, so I was on my own. It was still dark when I left the house, but I ran a loop around the neighborhood to give it time to get light enough to get out to the trails where I do my hill workout. Because of that I only had time for 10 repeats, but if you add on the 1.5 mile run up to the hill that works pretty nicely. I also used the 1.5 mile downhill home to practice a little downhill running. So I was pretty happy with the total workout.


On Saturday I was scheduled to run 22 miles. I wasn’t looking forward to it. The weather is heating up in the desert, and I knew I’d be running at least half of the run on my own. Christina’s a great running partner, but she’s a new runner, and has no need to run that far.

We planned for 5:30, but it was closer to 6:00 when we headed out. It was chilly, which was good. We took a loop of our neighborhood, then headed east toward the nice horse paths that are so great to run on. Our first stop was at about mile seven to use the bathroom and fill up our bottles. Then I headed part way back with Christina, with the thought that when I turned back around for my solo run, I’d have less mileage left to complete. Good idea, but it still left over 11 miles on my own.

Long Run

Clockwise from top left: My favorite watering station (they have an ice machine!), fueling with a Sun Warrior smoothie after the run, waiting for Alan to pick me up, just noticing how filthy my feet get after such a long run, and a look down one of the trails.


Running that far alone is really a mental game. Your body is tired and achy, and really just wants to stop and walk. It’s the mind that has to overcome that and keep on pushing through. Yes, I gave in and walked a few times, especially in the last few miles when I was exhausted, it was getting warm, and my exercise induced asthma started to give me problems. But I always managed to get going again, even if it was slow. I though about calling Alan, especially after I passed 20 miles. What’s another mile or two? But I didn’t. I stuck with it and completed my 22 miles. I am happy for that, but I’m still going through the mental conflicts I mentioned above.

Sunday was recovery/doggy run day. Just a few miles with lots of pee stops (for the dogs, not me I’m still dehydrated). My feet are a little sore. To be expected, but I’m spending some time with ice and my roller ball.

Other Stuff

We had a kids’ camp at work this week, and we provide pizza for their lunch. The manager buys enough for all the staff too, but of course, I have my special needs. I was inspired to head to Whole Foods to pick up a slice of vegan pizza. They outdid themselves! This one is huge, has BBQ Beyond Meat chicken, plus a ton of veggies and Daiya cheese. I needed to use two hands to pick it up. Nice job, Whole Foods!

PizzaHow was your week? Any races, training, or other special moments to share? Any WTF moments?


Alan and I said goodbye to our beloved 14 year old Australian Cattle Dog, Sydney,  on Monday morning. We knew the time was close, but as he was peaceful and not in pain, we allowed nature to take its course and he passed at home.

Sydney Collage

Sydney came to us in 2000 as a six week old puppy. Even though we purchased him from a so-called breeder, we always considered that we rescued him from illness and possible death. After we brought him home and took him to the vet for shots and a check up, he was found to have worms so badly that they could have killed him if he hadn’t been treated. And in all likelihood, based on where he came from, he probably wouldn’t have been.

We named him Sydney because we got him right after the Sydney Olympics. Olympics, Australian Cattle Dog…just seemed like the right fit.

Cattle dogs are known for their intelligence, and Sydney was no exception. He was bright and he learned quickly. They only thing we had a hard time training out of him was his penchant for biting ankles and calves when we (or our guests) left the house. We lost a least one dog sitter that way.

Sydney love to play catch. He was really good at catching the ball, and could play for hours (if we could last that long).

Sydney was never a cuddly dog, but he was very social. He had routines that he remembered and loved. He used to like to squeeze under our legs when we sat on the couch, and “bridge boy” was born. We’d say it, he’d do it, and vice versa. On the walk, we’d tickle his tummy a little, and he’d get excited and jump around. We’d say “Bronco Billy,” and soon we didn’t have to tickle, he would just love to leap around playfully with the verbal cue.

In 2005, when Sydney was only five years old, he began to have problems with this eyes. It was diagnosed as a luxated lens, where the lens actually becomes dislocated and falls forward and can cause blindness and glaucoma. He had surgery to have both lenses removed (once a dog has it in one eye, it is almost 100% that they will have it in the other). For a while, he could still see, but his near-vision was not good. That meant we had to say goodbye to ball catching, though he sure gave it a try.

About a year later we noticed that he seemed to be bumping into things more often. Sure enough, over time he had gone completely blind. He was so smart though, and knew the house so well that this was not much of a problem for him. Most people watching him wouldn’t have realized that he couldn’t see. On walks, he stayed even closer than before, but had no problem. He even seemed to remember where the curbs were on our regular route!

While Sydney would run with us when he was younger, he was just as happy walking. He was always well behaved, though, following his Heeler instincts, and never running off, even when we were in the trails near our home.

SydneyOne of my all time favorite pictures. When we adopted Sydney, Morena, who was bereft over the loss of our precious Lulu (as were we), adopted him too. He was her baby, and I just love this shot of him resting his head on her.

 Over the last few years, Sydney seemed to have a few aches and pains (don’t we all!), but nothing major. He was still active and happy, enjoyed his walks, and was still a little grumpy when he bumped into one of the dogs that he couldn’t see.

Then, he started losing weight, and while he was still eating, it wasn’t much. Though we knew that this probably heading toward the end for him, we were still hopeful, trying different foods that he might like. During this time though, he still loved to go on walks and get around the house. Until the last few days, he still got up to eat, drink, and he would use the doggy door when he had to go out.

We hated leaving him last weekend, but we trusted our dog sitter to take care of him, and to let us know if anything happened. She did call once, to let us know that he wasn’t eating, but was able to take a little water.

When we got home on Sunday, Sydney had obviously deteriorated. While he had taken water if I held it for him the day we left, now he showed no interest. He seemed to be semiconscious at times, but mostly he lay on the cool tile and slept. Before bed, Alan cleaned him up and moved him to a soft rug. In the morning, Alan told him that it was time. That we would let him go and he could join Morena and Sassy, so he wouldn’t be lonely.

Before I left for work, Alan encouraged me to pet Syd, and to say goodbye. As I did, I noticed that his breathing was erratic with long pauses between breaths. He’d had his first accident since he was a puppy, so I knew the time was very close. As I got into my car, I told Alan to call me if Sydney passed. At first he didn’t want to, knowing I’d be at work, but I insisted. I was only a few blocks from my house when my phone rang. Sydney died almost as soon as Alan had got back in the house.

Today has been rough. I made it through work and a doctor’s appointment, but just didn’t feel right. Alan too, just felt off all day. I was pleased that my son David called to see how we were doing after he saw Alan’s post on Facebook. I knew I raised him right!

The rest of the pack has been pretty sensitive too, especially the older dogs. Penny and Goldie each took a moment to check him out and say their goodbyes, and everyone (well, with the exception of Johnny) has been a little subdued.

Sydney Tags

I’m having a hard time wrapping up this post. My mind wanders. So, I’ll just finish it and say: Goodbye Sydney. You were our special boy.

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Meet the Pack, Part 2: The Little Dogs

If you had asked me five years ago if I was a “little” or “big” dog person, I would definitely have said that I preferred big dogs. I love their more laid back personalities, the security of having a big dog at your side, and frankly, their lack of a yippy bark.

All that changed permanently one day in August almost five years ago. (Click here if you missed Meet the Pack, Part 1: The Big Dogs.)

Little Dogs

Because all the little dogs arrived after I started blogging, they all have their own “about me” page, which I’ve linked to in each section.


We first met Olivia on a hot morning in August 2009. Alan and I were out for a bike ride, pretty early to beat the heat. Even though we were riding our regular 50 mile route, we decided to take a different road home because I wanted to show Alan some calves that I’d seen a few days before (you know us, we love all animals).

Olivia CollageAs we were riding past the cows, I noticed Alan start to slow down. I first thought he had a flat tire, so I turned around. I realized that he had stopped because he’d seen a little black dog on the side of the road. We were miles from anywhere, she had no collar and no water and it was already getting close to 100 degrees.

Amazingly, she didn’t run away from him. Instead, she creeped toward him, then allowed me to pick her up. She was filthy, yet adorable. We decided that Alan would ride home to get the car since he was the fastest cyclist. I waited with her, and by the time Alan returned I’d named her Olivia. I’d also given her some of my Clifbar and sips of my Cytomax, which was all I had to offer out there.

When we took her with us to pick up a collar and leash, the folks at Pet Co said that she was a Brussels Griffon and about a year old.

Even after all this time Olivia is:

  • Still afraid of a lot of things and will cower and piddle a little if you walk to her to pick her up.
  • She’s also afraid of old man Sydney, my 13 year old blind cattle dog, who is a little grumpy.
  • She hates cars and would chase them if she weren’t on a leash.
  • Instead, she will go after Lily when a car passes us while we’re on a walk.
  • She sleeps on my lap, and under my covers, and hangs with me when I don’t feel good.


Almost exactly a week later, Alan and I were driving home when a little black and white doge tore across the street in front of us. We followed her in our car, trying to lure her to us, but she kept running away until finally she turned a corner, ran up onto someone’s lawn, and lay down right there.

Lily Collage

We thought that we’d found her home, but it turned out that this was the home of a neighbor who felt that the dog was not treated properly by the children of the owner, who lived across the street. This woman fed the little dog, but since she already had two of her own, that was her only commitment.

While I was talking to the woman and getting this information, Alan had knocked on the door of the owner’s house. Everything just felt wrong, as this man showed no concern for the dog, and the dog didn’t even bother to look at the man. After hearing of the mistreatment by his children, the man basically shrugged and didn’t seem to care. He even said, it’s not really my dog.

That was our chance! Alan replied, then if it’s not your dog you won’t mind if we take her, right? The man agreed. So, Lily was ours.

She was so scared that first night! The rest of the pack, us, the new situation. I put her down by the water bowl and we left her alone. She was still there when we went to bed.

We got a big surprise when we woke up. Lily had moved to the couch, where she was sleeping snuggled into a little ball. From that point on, she was happy, confident, bossy with the other dogs, but very loving with us. We believe she’s at least part Toy Fox Terrier and she weighs about eight pounds. She and Olivia have a special bond, probably because they came to us so close together, and still snuggle together sometimes.

Olivia and Lily


It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been a year and a half since Buddy became a part of our family. Alan always wanted a dog to name Buddy, and boy has he lived up to his name. From the moment that Alan found him on the street in front of our house, he has been the most loving, cuddliest, sweetest dog ever.

Buddy CollageWhile his entry into our pack wasn’t as dramatic as Lily’s or Olivia’s, he has made a huge impact on our hearts. Buddy is the dog that snuggles with you when you don’t feel good, gives you kisses that revive you when you’re tired, and loves to run (up to about five miles in spite of the short legs). He get’s along with all of the dogs, though he was a little put out for the brief period we brought another male into the house.


Finally, the most recent member of our pack, Coco. Since we rescued her only six months ago, you may remember her story. I was out for a run in the morning last July (have you noticed that all these rescues happened in the middle of the summer? Interesting). It was just Penny and me and were around the corner from our house when I spotted this little dog in the middle of the road, right by the center divider. Fortunately, it was early, so there wasn’t much traffic.

Coco CollageI was afraid the dog would run if I tried to pick her up, so I let Penny pave the way. She loves little dogs, so she just walked up, sniffed a few times, then I was able to pick the little dog up.

I called Alan and he came and picked us up. No run that morning! Even though she had no collar, I was sure that someone would claim Coco. She was so cute and she was groomed! I was even surprised that she wasn’t chipped.

We hung up the posters and really assumed that it was just a matter of time. Days passed, though, and no response. It was a good thing though, because we were really starting to get attached to this little dog, in spite of her penchant for chasing after all the other dogs and biting their butts (which she still does, by the way).

Another reason that I thought she came from another family is that it took her a little while to completely warm up to Alan and me. She was a little standoffish at first, though sweet, but after a month we noticed quite a turnaround. She became much more cuddly and loving, and now just loves to sit on our laps, snuggle at night, and greet us in the morning like long lost loves.

She still hasn’t completely bonded with the rest of the pack, though Penny loves her and likes to groom her. That butt biting thing could be, well, biting her in the butt. She get’s really mad with Olivia when we’re on our walks. When Olivia barks at the cars, Coco barks at Olivia.  Funny but annoying. And challenging when I take the three girls on a run, which they love. We usually go about a mile, sometime a mile and a half, which is perfect for their little legs. We make quite a parade!

little dogs

So that’s my pack. Tell me about yours. Are you “big” or “little” dog person. Or maybe a cat person?

6 Things That Really Annoy Me.

I wanted to call this post Things That Piss Me Off, but I guess the nice girl in me came through at the last moment. I have been dealing with back spasms for the last two days, suffering through pain that would make me curl into a ball if that wouldn’t hurt even more. It’s made me cranky, annoyed, and frankly, pissed off about all kind of things that I usually take in stride.

I’m not sure exactly what I did to hurt my back. While it almost always gives me a few pangs, I woke up Friday feeling just fine. Then, as the morning went on, I could feel it tightening up, and by the time I stood to take a break at work, I had to quickly sit back down as the spasm shot a bolt of pain through my low back.

So, a day later (having to work both days), lots of Aleve, ice, heat, a chair massage, some essential oil treatment, and as much rest as possible, I am feeling much better, but still kind of cranky. So I thought I’d spread the joy by sharing some of the things that really annoy me (beyond my back pain).

Other Drivers

DriversThere are so many things about other drivers that really annoy me, especially living in a resort town, especially living in a resort town that attracts old people an older crowd, but I thought I could combine all my peeves into this one section. First of all, nothing related to my town or the age of the drivers, why don’t people use their damn turn signals? Jeez, it’s a flick of the wrist, but apparently that is too much effort for about 75% of drivers to attempt (that is my own estimate, nothing official). Not only is it potentially dangerous, it is also downright rude. C’mon man..let me know what you’re going to do!

Also on my pet peeve list: Drivers who drive 10-15 mph below the speed limit, especially in the left lane, people who suddenly realize that they need to make a left turn, and even though they are in the right lane, swoop swiftly across the road, traffic be damned, instead of driving a little farther and making a U-turn. Yeah, I get that you’re lost, but I still tend to think my life is more important. And they have this little gadget now, called GPS, available in most cars and phones. Check it out.

Twitter FollowersTwitter

I get really annoyed with people who follow you on Twitter, wait until you follow them back, then unfollow you. Hey! There’s an app(s) for that!

The Price of Vegan Food (and Women’s Clothing)

I was very excited when Ralph’s started carrying Daiya vegan cheese. I was not so excited that the price of an eight ounce bag of shredded Daiya ranged between $5 and $7. Really? The same goes for vegan burger patties, “chicken” strips, and other options. Yes, I know that they are processed and not very good for me, but that isn’t the point of this post. What is pissing me off is that without an exception, they are about twice as expensive as the “real” version. This is one of the things that leads to reports that being vegan is expensive and difficult.

I included women’s clothing in this section because it runs along the same lines. Whether it is a pair of panties, running shorts, or other (non-designer) items of clothing, it seems that the women’s version, while using less fabric because of their smaller size, still cost more that the men’s. Ticks me off.

People Who Don’t Tag Their Dog

DogsFor crying out loud people, if you own a dog, put a tag on it! Or at least chip it (and as my friend Cadry says, keep that info up to date). If your dog gets out, don’t you want to get him back? Do you want to risk his injury or death, or getting captured by animal control, having to endure days in the shelter, or even someone else thinking he is wonderful and keeping him for themselves? It’s an $8 investment with a priceless return!

After my run this morning, I’m going to add People Who Don’t Pick Up Their Dog’s Poop under this category because they are irresponsible owners too. As Alan and I run through our beautiful trails, we pass many piles of poop and it makes me so mad. This is why more and more trails are cut off to dogs.

Runners That Don’t Return a Greeting

What makes some runners so special that they can’t manage the effort to say hi, wave, or even nod their head, in response to my greeting? I have been running for over 20 years, and I always acknowledge other runners. Come on, people, you’re not working so hard that you can’t do the same. I once met Steve Scott, who has more sub 4-minutes miles than anyone, as we were running along the coast in Carlsbad. Not only did he nod his head and say hi the first time we passed him (in opposite directions), when we passed on the return trip, he offered a “great job!” That’s class, and if he can do it, everyone else can too.

Blogs with Bad Grammar and Spelling

I know I’m not perfect in the grammar department. I sometimes write things that I will take a second look at (<– like that grammarsentence) and try to remember the rules of grammar. It happens, even to the best and most careful writers. What annoys me are the writers that don’t seem to care. Multiple typos in a post? Maybe proofreading would be in order. Spelling mistakes? Your blogging theme probably has a spell check option. Use it! Basic grammar and spelling mistakes? Come on…if you are publishing your writing for the public, it might be time to learn the difference between “to” and “too,” “there” and “their,” or “your” and “you’re.”

Phew! That felt good!

Whether it was the venting or because my back is feeling much better, my outlook is much brighter today. My scheduled 10 miler was a little unusual since I didn’t run on Saturday because of my back. We hate for the dogs to miss their run (they love it so much), so Alan and I took Penny and Buddy on our usual trail run, then I took Olivia, Lily and Coco out for another mile and a half. That left just a few more miles to go, so I dropped off the dogs, filled up with more InRefresh and a Reload Gel and took off on my own. It doesn’t matter how it gets done, as long as it gets done.

Run CollageWe did pass a runner who totally ignored our “good mornings,” wouldn’t catch our eye, or acknowledge our existence. Knowing that I was posting this, I just smiled to myself, and thought, “I bet she can’t even run one sub-four-minute mile!”

Okay, fess up. What really ticks you off? Oh, and feel free to call me out on any grammar mistakes or typos I didn’t catch. I asked for it.

Marathon Base Training, Ignite Naturals, and the Dog Rescuer

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know what’s been going on this weekend.

Uh oh, here we go again! Spent an hour trying to lure this guy from under a car. He finally came to Alan. No tag, no chip. Making posters now. #dogrescuer

Posters are up. He’s met the pack. He isn’t scared of us anymore. We’ve thought about naming him Ocho. :-) Hopefully we’ll get a call soon.

Someone's nose is a little out of joint about our "guest" rescue dog. We still love you Buddy. #dogrescuer #dogs

A photo posted by Debbe Woodruff (@coachdebbieruns) on

Someone’s nose is a little out of joint about our “guest” rescue dog. We still love you Buddy. #dogrescuer #dogs

Yes, Alan and I played Dog Rescuer again. After I finished my short run with “the girls,” Olivia, Lily, and Coco, I returned home to find it empty. Well, not empty, but with no human presence.  I checked in the back and front yards, but no Alan. Just as I’d started my stretching, though, Alan pops in the door and says,  I’m right in the middle of a dog rescue!

When Alan had returned from his walk with our “challenged doggy athletes,” he had seen a little dog in our front yard “playing” with the cats (you know we feed the feral cats in the neighborhood). The dog had run from him, but Alan had followed. The dog eventually took cover under a parked car around the corner from our house, which is unfortunately a much busier street. When I arrived, with a can of cat food for luring purposes, another woman was helping Alan.

The poor dog was scared to death. He cowered under the car, sneaking forward occasionally to grab a bit of the cat food. If we tried to touch him, he snapped at us. It took about an hour, and it looked like we weren’t going to be able to get him. I even tried Animal Control (my last option), but couldn’t reach anyone on the weekend.

And then suddenly. he came out and let Alan snap on the leash (he was wearing a collar, but no tags). From that point on, he was a different dog. Loving, bright, and friendly, and very young, I guess he figured out he’d been rescued by the right people.

The first thing we did was take him down to the closest vet to see if he was chipped. No such luck. Then we took him home, took a few pictures, and introduced him to the pack. It was interesting.

Dr2After everyone settled down a little (except Buddy who is definitely not happy about a new male, even a puppy, in the house), I made up some posters, which we then posted around the neighborhood, Starbucks, and a few other locations.

As of now, the following day, we haven’t heard a peep from his family.

Which frankly surprises me. He is so sweet, young, and clean, plus his collar is brand new. Why isn’t someone doing what I would be doing…driving up and down the streets of La Quinta searching for their dog?

At least the dogs, including Buddy, have come to some level of acceptance. As for Alan and me, we know we really can’t have another dog. His temporary name, Ocho, says it all. We’re now calling him Ollie, and he is definitely bonding with us. Boy, I hope those people call soon!

In other news, like training…

While I haven’t actually signed up yet (still looking for discounts), I have started my training for my first marathon in about seven years (my 2014 BHAG), Rock and Roll San Diego. Right now I’m still in my base building period, and planning on running the Palm Springs Half Marathon in a few weeks. The two goals fit together nicely. I’m increasing my mileage, adding some type of speed work once a week, and just generally trying to get stronger for the big increase in mileage that will be coming next month.

Here’s what I accomplished last week:

Tuesday:  Three miles before work, just an easy run with Alan and the dogs.

Wednesday: Five miles total with two at half marathon pace. I wanted three or four at pace, but my legs (and my brain apparently) didn’t agree. Still, after a blah December of running, this was my first speed workout of any kind for over a month, so I am happy.

Saturday: A little over five miles total, starting with four on the trail with Alan, Buddy, and Penny. Trails are always good for hills and general strength building. Then, as I mentioned above, I took Lily, Olivia, and Coco out for another 1.2 miles.

Everyone got to run today, even the little girls. #runswithdogs #dogs #runchat

A photo posted by Debbe Woodruff (@coachdebbieruns) on

Everyone got to run today, even the little girls. #runswithdogs #dogs #runchat

Sunday: I ran nine miles! I was my longest run in ages! Even though I was supposedly training for my half marathon in December, I just couldn’t get much going. I pleased that I’m feeling much better and excited about my running (I knew it would come back!). I started with two warm up miles with Alan and the dogs, then took off alone for the last seven. My legs were a little tired (probably because my stretching had been interrupted the day before!), but I got it done.


Ignite Naturals

I’ve mentioned here before that I am a Team Ignite Athlete for Ignite Naturals. I’m happy that I am finally running long enough distances that I can start using my favorite hydration and energy products again.


A few days ago I received supply of InRefresh Electrolytes in the new Kona Blend flavor. While I was a little concerned by the word Zesty on the label, I loved it. It was very tropical tasting and is made with all natural ingredients like dragonfruit, cranberry, coconut water, and prickly pear, and I really thought I detected an undertone of plumeria, my favorite Hawaiian flower. Now that individual servings are available, and are easy to carry, it makes it much easier to fill up for long runs.

Ignite NaturalsI also had a chance to (finally) use my Reload Energy Gels. I love this stuff. It’s made with organic fig paste, and it tastes good, goes down easily, and contains no processed sugars. Both the InRefresh Electrolytes and the Reload Energy Gels are vegan, gluten free, and are non-GMO.

Update on “Ollie/Ocho!”

We just had a call from a woman who said he was hers (and his name was Julian). After she described him, and he responded to the name, we told her how to find us. Still made her show a picture though. He is hers, sigh. I am very happy that he is returning to his real home, but I’m also a little sad. He was a very good, sweet dog. Alan and I will miss him (though the rest of the pack seem to be a little less concerned). She did receive the standard lecture: Get a tag for your dog (or chip him)!

I hope that you had a great weekend! Are you training for anything special? How’s it going?

Death in the Family: A Sad Goodbye to Lois LaBonte

I have sad news to report. My aunt, Lois LaBonte, died last week. After four months in the rehab center, where she had been since her fall in September, Lois has finally moved on to a better, happier place.

I’d like to thank all of you who have offered your encouragement, support, and prayers. I know that you made me feel stronger and more able to deal with this.

I received the call last Thursday that Lois had a change in condition and they felt that it would not be long before she passed. Fortunately, my sister Lisa was still in the San Diego area after flying there the previous week to help move our aunt’s possessions. So Lisa was able to get to the center and to be with Lois when she died.

Lois LaBonte

I drove down the next day and Lisa and I spent the weekend taking care of details. Fortunately her husband Bill was able to fly out and help us. We made her funeral arrangements, finished moving her things, and we were also finally able to find someone to buy her piano and the rest of her antiques. The most difficult part, but at the same time in a strange way the most joyful, was going through her personal possessions. We spent hours at the storage facility sorting through photos, memorabilia, journals, letters, books, records, and more. We laughed, cried, and remembered as we sorted through her things, deciding what to keep, what to throw away, what to let go with the rest of her things.

Lois LaBonte

Lois LaBonte

Many of the items that we kept were mementos of Lois’ 30 years in show business. She was an actress, singer, and dancer, who performed in many productions. She was a member of a singing and dancing group called The Establishment, which was quite well known in the 1970s. They frequently performed in Las Vegas, opening for many celebrated acts including Liberace, Ann-Margret, Robert Goulet, Bob Newhart, Perry Como, Engelbert Humperdinck, Burt Bacharach, and Redd Foxx. The Establishment was also a part of the Jonathan Winters Variety Show, and Lois sang some voice-overs for several other television shows, including Hawaii 5-0. She appeared in musicals alongside Carol Channing, Ginger Rogers, Betty Grable, and Tammy Grimes.  She also dated a few fairly well know actors of that era.  This is the way I want to remember my Aunt Lois.

Lois LaBonte

That’s Lois on the bottom left, with the hat.

Lois LaBonte

First look and see that the Establishment had second billing with Liberace. Then notice the area around the Caesar’s Palace sign. Been to Vegas lately? Looks a little different, doesn’t it?

The first half of her life was fascinating. Sadly, that era was cut short in 1991 when Lois was the victim of a tragic car accident that put her in a coma for several weeks and left her with a traumatic brain injury. She was never the same, and from that day forward suffered from balance problems, loss of self control, depression, and many of the other typical complications of a serious brain injury. She gradually alienated most of her friends, and after my mother’s death in 1993, with the exception of a few steadfast friends, Lisa and I were all she had left.

Recent years had been very tough for Lois. She cut off contact with Lisa and me. She frequently stated that she didn’t want to live any longer, particularly after the death of her beloved dog Barrymore. The one thing that kept her going was her love for all animals. She was a staunch vegan and animal activist, who donated as much as she could to animal rights organizations, particularly ones like Farm Sanctuary and the Animal Place that fought against cruelty to farm animals. She always said that everyone wanted to protect dogs and cats, but it was the cows, chickens, and in particular the pigs who were treated so heartlessly. Her apartment was decorated with the cards, photos, and calendars the many organizations give to their donors, and she was very proud when she received personal thank you letters from people like Ingrid Newkirk of Peta, or Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary.

Lois LaBonte

Lois with my niece Brynne.

I was going to write a separate obituary, but I realize as I read this that I already did. My aunt was a wonderful, funny, smart, and talented woman, and the world will be a little dimmer without her. She was my Aunt Lois and I loved her. I will miss her dearly. There is no memorial service scheduled at this time. We will be honoring her wishes and spreading her ashes with those of her beloved Barrymore’s at a later date.

Lois LaBonte

Lois with Barrymore shortly after her accident.

I’d like to finish with her own writing. Long after her accident, she wrote “Memories of My Show Biz Days, in which she recalled some of her favorite stories. If you’re interested, just click on the thumbnails below.

Lois LaBonteLois LaBonte

Lois LaBonteLois LaBonte

In memoriam, Lois LaBonte, 1935-2013.