Remembering Aughe

Remembering my BFF today who passed away four year ago today. She was a real character. Aughe, I miss you.

Excerpt from: The Passion Prerogative

dogMy dog, Aughe, has a passion for cookies, a.k.a, dog biscuits, dog treats and dog snacks. A 15-year-old Golden Retriever mix whose muzzle has turned white and back legs have grown weak, Aughe still remains laser-focused on finagling as many of her favorite mouth-watering morsels that she can get each day. I’m starting to think cookies are the main reason she bothers to get out of bed in the morning.

My decade and a half with Augie has silently slipped through my fingers, like a thief in the night stealing my treasure bit by bit. The antics of my squirrel-chasing, trash-digging, bed-surfing companion have slowly transformed into lazy days filled with long still naps punctuated by moments of clever ruses designed to get me to the cookie jar one more time.

I can’t say I miss her trash-digging days, those occasions when she nosed the cupboard door open in the wee hours of the morning, gently tugged the trashcan into the floor, and proceeded to rummaged through it looking for a little snack to tide her over until breakfast. Waking up to find yourself ankle deep in shredded trash covered in wet coffee grounds and worse can make even the most devoted pet parent question her adoption decision. But Aughe’s look of total innocence always amused me, so I was quick to forgive her transgressions.

Copyright © 2017 Patra Taylor


Adventures in Room Service

Dinner is served, Madam.

Dinner is served, Madam.

A few summers ago, my husband and I headed north to take our then nine-year-old son, Jackson, to goalie school in Canada. After delivering him to the rink, Stephen and I, along with our two-year-old son, Benn, arrived at our “resort” hotel in downtown Toronto. Before long we were comfortably settled in our room.

“This is great, eh?” my husband asked, trying out his Canadian.

“For whom?” I responded, a bit prickly after so long without food.

“You don’t like this place?” he questioned, as if his manhood was somehow involved.

Actually, I loved it, but I had recently realized that “resort amenities” and “two-year-old-boys” were mutually exclusive propositions. We clearly had a week of zoos and playgrounds in store for us, not plushing around a posh resort.

“So let’s eat,” I offered, changing the subject to the only thing on my mind. “I’m starving.”

“If you’re too tired to go out, call room service,” my husband offered off-handedly. Shocked, and confused, I turned to stare at him. We never used room service. For 18 years, on every vacation we’d ever taken, my job (aside from planning, packing, plotting, and post-trip bill paying) was hunting the eatery for our next meal. Somehow the process had always appealed to my primitive hunter/gatherer urges, sort of my yang unleashed. And now he wanted me to call room service? Where’s the challenge in that?

“Fine,” I finally replied, a bit disgusted by the whole idea, but too tired to deal with a fussy baby in public. “Room service it is.”

After perusing the menu, we both settled on the pan-seared horseradish encrusted bright water salmon served over a bed of sweet potato leek cakes with caramelized shallot vinaigrette. He called in our order like an old hand, then headed to the shower to freshen up.

In the mean time, I wiped down Benn with a warm washcloth, wrestled him into his pajamas, and then slipped myself into something “more comfortable.” (Yes, I was wearing flannel pajamas…it was Canada, after all.) By the time Stephen stepped from the bathroom, all squeaky clean and wrapped in a showy Turkish robe with the hotel monogram on the front pocket, I was propped up on a large pile of pillows in the middle of the king-size bed, the covers pulled up to my chin, with a Pay-Per-View all picked out. With the tap, tap, tap on the door, I knew food was at hand. But little did I know something life changing was afoot.

The waiter rolled the cloth-covered cart in front of the window and pulled open the drapes a bit more so we could view the city as we enjoyed our dinner. I could hardly wait as he popped the cork on the wine, and offered Stephen the first sip. It was time to eat.

I drank wine from my water glass, used by salad fork for my entree, and spooned in the last scraps from my plate, all without a single sideways glance of disapproval from anyone. Licking the tips of my fingers for a lingering remnant of flavor, I felt like the Queen Mother at a medieval feast.

Completely full, I set my eyes on dessert…a ginger-studded puff pastry filled with crème brûlée, topped with fresh raspberries and a mango coulis. As I smacked my way through the final course, it occurred to me I had been missing out on one of the greatest innovations of the last century — room service. WOW!

Copyright © 2017 Patra Taylor


It’s Time for a Family VACATION!

Excerpt from: Leading Men to Their Feelings

“I’ve been meaning to find myself,” my husband, Stephen, blurted out the other day as he flipped through my fresh issue of O, the Oprah magazine.

“Excuse me?” I stammered.

“You know, find myself. Get in touch with my feelings…discover who I really am…learn to love me for me…that kind of thing,” he continued. “The problem is that I don’t know what any of that means.”


Vacation is the salve that soothes the savage soul.

I guess I was relieved to know an alien hadn’t invaded my husband’s body. Stephen is a Johnny-on-the-spot on a vast array of topics. Ask him about the law, history, literature, current events, or even the definition of “escutcheon” and he’s right there with the information. But ask him to stick a toe in the vast pool of human emotion, and he runs like a rabbit.

Being the “enlightened” one in the family, I decided to help him out. “Let me explain this to you,” I offered gently. “Remember when Benn was a baby and I used to sit and snuggle him so much? That’s because in those moments, I knew I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I was totally in touch with myself.”

“Totally in touch.” Stephen repeated slowly.

“Exactly,” I said. “It’s that feeling I get when I walk on the beach at sunset.  Despite the power and vastness of the ocean, I get this overwhelming sense that I count.”

“And when you’re hiking in the mountains,” he added in his most mystical-sounding voice, “and you reach that long-sought after summit…”

“Yes, yes,” I said, encouraging him. “You’re getting it.”

“No, I don’t get it. Now if you’ll excuse me I think I’ll head over to the office and file a RICO action against someone. Can I recycle your magazine on my way out?”

“No, but thanks anyway.”

With Peter Rabbit gone, I stood clutching O tightly to my chest, asking myself, ‘what would Oprah do?” Then it hit me. I knew exactly what to do…pack up the family and go on vacation.

I learned a long time ago that a vacation is the best salve for the cramped soul, even one as cramped as Stephen’s. Vacation is an attitude, the ultimate in finding oneself. Every time we take the road less traveled, we can’t help but connect with ourselves.

Copyright © 2015 Patra Taylor


The Funky What?

Patty's Logo

It’s Great Idea Friday! So here’s one all us Baby Boomers should consider. Forget your age. That’s right, just forget it. The next time some rude idiot asks you your age, just look at him as if he asked you to recite Hubble’s Law of Cosmic Expansion.*

Doing the Funky Chicken Comes of Age

The truth is I haven’t spoken my age aloud since June 15, 2004. No big deal, really. I just decided that focusing on my rapid slide through middle age was distracting me from getting things done. Age is often nothing more than an excuse not to clean the garage, parachute out of an airplane or master the intricacies of social media. So I simply made the decision not to say that arbitrary number, whatever it is, aloud ever again.

Then one day I discovered that my age was no longer on the tip of my tongue…an out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of a thing.

“How old are you, Patty?” someone had the nerve to ask a lady.

After a moment of superficial thought, I replied, “I don’t recall.” It worked for Hillary.

More recently I realized that I had, in fact, constructed an enormous Rube Goldberg of self delusion regarding the exact number of years that have passed since my birth. I determined the concept of “older but wiser” wasn’t one that worked for me, not to mention the fact that I love believing the best days of my life are perpetually ahead of me rather than part of that dust cloud I see in my rearview mirror.

 Copyright © 2015 Patra Taylor

Science Alert!

Science Alert!

*Hubble’s Law of Cosmic Expansion, aka Hubble’s Law

In order to quantify the velocity of galactic movement, the law proposes an equation that states: velocity = H0 × distance with velocity representing the galaxy’s recessional velocity; H0 representing the Hubble constant, or parameter that indicates the rate at which the universe is expanding; and distance representing the galaxy’s distance from the one with which it’s being compared.


School’s Out!

Schools out for summer! Hip hip hooray! I get as giddy anticipating summer vacation as I do anticipating Christmas…or even National Go Bare-Foot Day. Here’s a little excerpt from one of my Kitchen Sink Chronicles columns from a few years ago that will help explain my affection for summer vacation…

Rockets, Realizations and Resurrecting the Watusi

I slipped into the room where Stephen sat on the edge of our bed, his head in hands. After closing the door quietly behind me, I said in a hushed tone, “He’s done.”Rocket

Stephen looked up at me, expectation filling his eyes.

“He’s done,” I repeated, knowing that saying those two beautiful words once just wasn’t enough. “D-O-N-E.”

Suddenly, Stephen and I were high-fiving, hip-bumping, and in our jubilation became responsible for resurrecting the watusi craze. Our impromptu celebration on an otherwise uneventful Sunday afternoon occurred when our youngest son, Benn, finally completed that thing teachers across the nation refer to as the “science fair project,” but parents more accurately describe as, “Chinese water torture.”

After three tries, Stephen and I had lucked into a self-motivated progeny who worked through the steps of the project process pretty much on his own, and did so without causing our blood pressure to rise to the point where we wished we’d ordered the home defibrillator we saw demonstrated on QVC. Nevertheless, vivid memories of late night trips to the 24-hour Walmart during the science fair eras of our first two sons had heightened the sensations in our nerve endings to the point that the mere mention of the arduous science fair project makes us feel much the same way the lowly fox feels as he contemplates the arrival of a pack of howling hounds at his den door.

Copyright © 2015 Patra Taylor


Excerpt from: The World According to Ovid, da Vinci and Mae West

“This is interesting,” I said to my husband. “It says here that Mae West faithfully observed a day of rest every week throughout her Hollywood career.”

“Really?” Stephen queried sardonically. My husband can pack a pound of sarcasm into one word when he tries…although that’s definitely not one of the reasons I married him. “We’re now crediting a five-star trollop–who famously said, ‘Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before’–with coming up with the whole ‘day of rest’ concept?”

“I think ‘trollop’ is a bit harsh,” I interject, trying to keep the conversation light, and going in the direction I intended for a change. Before I could add, “Mae West sounds like your kind of gal,”

Stephen nattered onward.

“…for in six days the Lord created heaven and earth, and on the seventh He…” Stephen prompted me like a frustrated priest with a delinquent Catechism student.

“…caught up on his paperwork?” I suggested, smiling. That’s when it occurred to me that Stephen can also pack a pound of sarcasm into a well-executed scowl. “Deuteronomy?” I offered pathetically, trying to save face after my little joke bombed. Stephen just shook his head sadly, my cue to leave the room and take my developing admiration for Mae West with me.

 Copyright © 2015 Patra Taylor