It’s been an odd month. Actually, it feels more like an odd week as time seems to have changed, and speeds by as quickly as chocolate leaves the fridge and enters my mouth. Gump’s silly tomatoes have grown like Jack’s proverbial beanstalk. He’s had quite a few to eat already but is constantly worrying about this or that blight that might harm his babies. Then, once harvested, he becomes perplexed with the selection process of which tomato should go into his sandwich. Honestly, Gump picking out one to eat is worse than any kid picking out a toy with his birthday money.

And it’s bloody hot. So hot, that even Scout the wonder dog can only stand five minutes of frisbee time and half-heartedly trots after the squirrels when she trees them.

Speaking of the little madam, I have stopped my only source of social interaction, which is the Dog Park. I shall not miss dodging the steaming piles (some people do not take any crap, nor do they pick it up when they should) and I will not miss feeling awkward as my dog shows her fangs to anything with four legs. There have been several three-legged dogs in the park. Thank God she was always nice to them.

I know you are fascinated by the antics of me and a Blue Heeler. Humour me….Our new daily routine during our morning walk is to go down the street to see her new ‘friend’. Weeks ago, this gorgeous dog kept showing up in our yard. Apparently, it was being trained to use its electric collar, where they have buried cables in the yard instead of an actual fence. In time, it got used to the perimeters and so now it runs free in their yard, doesn’t try to escape and knows how far it can go. So, I take miss snippy fang face for a walk every morning without a leash, and we go to see her buddy. They greet each other like it’s the first time they’ve seen each other since high school, and frolic about and play. For some unknown reason, Scout the W Dog keeps her fangs in her mouth. With this dog, and this dog only, she is coy, playful and prances around like she’s in Swan Lake. But lately, she’s stripped off the tutu and has become Mata Hari – she’s started flirting, has a different walk around him where I swear she wiggles her butt (hussy) and at the drop of a hat, accidentally falls when they play so she can roll on her back without it looking too ‘obvious’, so he can check out her bits and bobs (don’t worry, they are both fixed) – it is a bizarre spectacle, one which makes me vaguely uncomfortable and rather like a peeping Tom. Never having had a daughter, I think it must be a lot like meeting your daughter’s first boyfriend? Ick. Then when she’s bored with it all, she tosses her Heeler head and struts away. Wish I’d been that savvy when I was her age….

Did I mention it’s hot? Apparently, according to all my rellys in England (relatives) it is blistering there as well. It seems the damp, cold land of my heart is going through a huge climate change and is now having weather more like the South of France. This is good for them in many ways, other than most homes have no air conditioning. There has never been a need for it, until the past few years. So, if you are an HVAC person, there’s a whole career just waiting for you over there. You’re welcome.

Speaking of home, I am off there next year. Booked my ticket and am already salivating in anticipation of my first plate of fish and chips. I don’t know why, but there’s nothing like it, and it is impossible to replicate it over here. Works both ways. Difficult to get good Mexican food in the UK. Anyway, I am excited to go. It has been four years since my last trip, and I can’t wait to see everyone! It is also good incentive to drop some weight so there is plenty of space for all the food I know I will be chowing.

That is not grease on the paper, it is drool…….just’s vinegar

Gump’s still driving me batty. The ‘how many ways can you eat a bloody tomato’ situation is mind numbing. Seriously, he eats them EVERY day. Fixing a meal has become some sort of religious experience for him, though it is more like a sacrificial event if you think about it – and I try not to. Though I am jealous of his pleasure at stuffing yet another one of those toms in his mouth. All I have to do is look at the food I make him, and I get heartburn. Gump could eat a side of lard and wash it down with a cup of melted butter and keep going. Sometimes, it just isn’t fair.

He’s also going on about rodeos. We are about as ‘cowboy’ as Prince Charles. Okay, Gump does own a pair of cowboy boots, but he hasn’t worn them since college. But he loves going to local rodeos, Round-up clubs, that type of thing. Back when we dated (when flared trousers were still a thing) we often went to small-town rodeos, and to be fair, it was really interesting. We would sit in awe of the amazing feats performed by these talented people. Barrel-Racing, bronco-busting, roping, and so many thrilling, scary events. We would look like city folk on a night out, but everyone was always very welcoming, and I loved doing photography while we were there. And then I turned sixty, and I discovered that spending an evening sitting in ninety-degree heat and seventy percent humidity, was not my bag anymore. That, and sounding like a human percussion instrument, swatting three thousand mosquitoes as they feasted upon my veins, just ain’t no fun. So I won’t go. He is still sulking.

We did, however, venture out to watch the July 4th fireworks this year. It was an interesting experience—like a cross between sitting at the airport and going to the fair – a people-watching extravaganza. A healthy reminder of where I am in the herd, and where I never want to end up. The sweat index was pretty high, but the kamikaze June bugs were the most irritating part of the evening, especially because I have long hair.

So, are you all going anywhere this summer? I imagine loads of you will pack up and disappear to a beach, or a national park. Even though we are not out of the woods with the damned pandemic, things are much more open than they were, right? We are not going anywhere, well, other than Aldi’s, Sam’s and Costco. But if I could, it would be somewhere by the sea. My dream is to become a successful author so that I can move somewhere near the coast. I also want fewer wrinkles and an actual arse, but that’s pretty unlikely as well. But one can hope!

I am still writing like a crazy woman. It is, after all, my full-time job, and also the worst paid one to date – well except when I collected eggs at the chicken farm and got paid half in cash and half in eggs…. But it is cool seeing both my books out there, with two more ready to go. I only wish I had been able to start back in the day. I was twenty-six when I started my first serious novel. Fifty-seven when I started again, and sixty when I wrote a book that was published. It’s kind of fun to start a career at this ripe age, or should I say over-ripe age. I love being my own boss (and Gump’s) and my past experience has certainly helped me focus and stay self-motivated. I miss my buddies in the workplace, miss grabbing lunch with friends, but other than that, I am just fine and dandy hanging with my bitchy dog and a fridge full of chocolate. I feel so fortunate that I get to do this too, that sometimes, I am even nice to Gump.

I’m on a ‘getting rid of things’ binge as well. If it isn’t nailed down, it might go out of the door (dogs and Gumps included). I feel like we are drowning in ‘stuff’. All part of another life crisis, no doubt. But who cares? I love having empty space in a drawer or a cupboard, and I am disgusted at my propensity to collect. I have enough pens/notebooks etc. to open my own stationery shop on Etsy. And no one needs the number of purses and wallets I seem to have collected. I have jewellery that never leaves its box and shoes that are dusty because if they aren’t sandals, they don’t get worn. It is always good to purge, and making some cash on some consignment items helps pay for the inordinate amount of sausage rolls, iced buns and Cadbury’s chocolate I plan on eating when I go home.

Oh, and after nineteen years, I am getting ready to sell the little house I lived in pre-Gump. He’s been working on the place for a while now. He’s not known for his speed, but his quality of work is rather outstanding (but don’t tell him I said as much) – the upside is while he has been working on the house, the value of it has climbed (whoopee, more chocolate) but it will be strange to close the door on that part of my history.

It was my very first house, and it took me until I was forty-three to buy it. It was a symbol of where I was finally in my life, and therefore significant. Yet it is now still a symbol, but of my future and a new chapter in my life – weird that as I write that, I realise I’m living a new chapter and writing them every day in my books as well! Hah! Wish me luck selling, hopefully it will be quick!

There’s really not much else to chat about which is shockingly sad as my life has been reduced to tomatoes, mean dogs and sweating in the heat. But at least you know I am thinking of you all. I will have some good stories to share as I get to do more!

Oh, and I am going to have a book signing in August – for those of you in Tulsa, I’ll let you know more very soon!

Lastly, I would like to dedicate this blog to a friend and former work colleague, Mark Stewart, who was taken very suddenly and unexpectedly from us this month. A man with a heart of gold, a ready smile, and an ear for anyone who needed to talk. You will be missed by all. Much love to your family during this very difficult time. Buffs on 3!!!

stay cool everyone and stay away from Heelers.