It seems that I’m always a little behind the times, because when my August issue of Bon Appetit magazine came, announcing that the “hot” summer drink was The Shrub, I was like, “Uh, isn’t a shrub a bush in the backyard?”

What can I say?

Not only am I menopausal, I am completely un-hip. I’m pretty sure this is going to lead to a crisis of confidence and the purchase of something entirely ridiculous, like a cherry red mini-cooper or skydiving lessons or a floor-length chinchilla cape.

Kidding about the cape. I don’t wear fur. Don’t count out the other things, though.

According to Bon Appetit, “Shrubs are fruit-and-vinegar syrups to add to booze, soda or both. The acidic tinge [of the vinegar] brings out the fruit flavor without overloading on the sweet for a complex, easy-mixing cocktail.”

Those Bon Appetit folks are wise little stinkers–they sorta had me at cocktail.

As luck would have it, a dear friend’s daughter was doing a school fundraiser, so I was looking at a box of 20 plump, fragrant, delicious organic Palisade peaches in my refrigerator. Palisade peaches, grown in the sunny, warm soil in Palisade, Colorado, are some of the best summer treats you’ll ever put in your belly. They only come once a year and they sell out fast. Not only do you have to be quick with your purchase, you also have to be wily, because a lot of grocery stores advertise that they have Palisade peaches, but they’re lying, lying liars. They’ll sell you these teeny, flavorless, mealy peaches that are clearly frauds. Those douchepockets. Palisades are big suckers and heavy when you pick them up because they’re bursting with yummy peach goodness.

Fortunately, I got my hands on the real deal, and while I’m eating a lot of them out of hand as is, I’m also looking for other ways to use them. They’ve been delicious in breakfast smoothies and sliced over ice cream, but I hadn’t thought to use them in a cocktail until I stumbled on the Bon Appetit article.

I honestly wasn’t sure about the vinegar aspect of the cocktail. I can appreciate the acidity of lemon or lime in a drink, but vinegar? It sounded kind of weird.

I adjusted the proportions in the drink slightly because:

a) my peaches were super sweet naturally, so if you are using ripe, in-season produce, I think you should err on the 1 1/2 ounce side of peach simple syrup per cocktail, rather than 2 ounces.

b) 1 1/2 ounces of bourbon per cocktail seemed wimpy, since you’re serving it over ice. I went with two ounces. Then again, I’m a lush, so if you’re a lightweight, keep the proportions on the lighter side.

c) I added a splash of soda water to the drink for effervescence. I love me a fizzy drink. If you’re not a fan of the fizz, feel free to leave it out.

d) I decreased the vinegar by one half tablespoon, just because it kind of weirded me out. Frankly, I think 3 full tablespoons would be fine, but I like mine with the 2 1/2 tablespoons.


The Bon Appetit proportions are the first ones listed; my modifications are the second numbers.

The verdict?

I used my husband as a guinea pig because I’m a coward. In my defense, I did tell him about the weird vinegar aspect of the drink up-front. He was skeptical, and it took a few sips before he said, “I like it!” He took a couple more sips and said, “I really like it. It’s refreshing. It’s well balanced and you don’t think ‘vinegar’ when you drink it–there’s just something interesting there.”

This peach and bourbon shrub is just the thing for a hot, late summer day. If you’re throwing a Labor Day get-together, this would be a nice beverage, because it’s going to be brilliant with barbecue. Shrub on!




Peach-Bourbon Shrub

from Bon Appetit Magazine

makes 4


3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 pounds ripe peaches, cut into chunks

3 (or 2 1/2) tablespoons distilled white vinegar

6-8 ounces bourbon

2 ounces fresh lemon juice

a splash of club soda (optional)

ice and peach slices, for serving


Make the shrub syrup:

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the fruit and return to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let stand for 30 minutes. Strain the syrup into a bowl. Stir in the vinegar. Refrigerate.


For each cocktail, place 2 (or 1 1/2) ounces of the shrub mixture, 1 1/2 (or 2) ounces bourbon and 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until frosty and strain into a glass filled with ice. Top with club soda, if desired. Garnish with peach slices.


About a Dog: Part Four

August 28, 2015

It was a long, cold winter, that first winter with Mozzy. I don’t know if it truly was snowier or colder than most Colorado winters or whether it just seemed like it, because wee little puppies have wee little bladders, so I was forced to brave the elements every few hours, day and night. The worst were the early morning calls to order, when I’d be roused from a deep unconsciousness by a small, distressed whimper coming from the crate next to the bed.

I’d roll over drunkenly, look at the clock and feel a wave of annoyance and dismay roar through my head.

2:44. Or 3:30. Or 4:18.

Those mornings.

“Jesus fuck,” I’d mutter under my breath, and close my eyes for one more blessed moment before swinging heavy legs over the side of the bed.


“I know, buddy. I know.” I’d crouch down in front of the crate, look at Mozzy’s wet black eyes and quivering nose and impossibly fluffy little ears and soften a little. “S’ok, little man. I know. Let’s go.”

I’d unlatch the crate and he’d bound down the stairs, tiny tail wagging so hard that his whole bottom shook with the joy of it. I was a lot slower getting down those stairs. I flicked on the coffee maker, donned heavy socks and the nearest boots I could find, which were often Miss D.’s and far too big for me. I’d clunk around like Bigfoot, zip a heavy coat, wind a scratchy scarf, fumble for mis-matched mittens.

Some mornings the fog was so dense and thick that Mozzy disappeared in front of me and I’d panic for a minute until I remembered that he was on a leash. Sometimes the snow was so deep that he’d plow through it like a miniature snowblower, leaving a slender track behind him. On particularly frigid mornings, he’d scamper outside and then go still, nose twitching, testing. He’d wait a minute and then shake his whole body a few times. He’d lift a wee leg and send a stream of yellow liquid onto a pile of snow, hissing and steaming. Mornings like that, he made quick work of things, but most days, he wanted to bound in and out of snowbanks, sniff every tree.

“How does he not freeze his little pee-pee off?” I’d grumble to my husband. “The snow is taller than he is–his junk is dragging in it as he tumbles through and you think he’d hate that, but he’s like, ‘Woo-hoo! It snowed last night! Penis popsicles are awesome!'”

My husband would laugh. “Ah. To be a puppy.”

I’d take a long draw out of my coffee mug. “Ah, to be me. Tomorrow is your turn.”


True to the breeder’s word, Mozzy was pretty good about potty training. We put indoor potty training pads all over the house, just in case there was an emergency. He almost exclusively peed on those when he needed to, but he was a stealth pooper. The first couple of months, you’d turn your back and Wham! Insta turdlet. His favorite venue for Les Gifting of Le Poo-Poo was the laundry room, a development I wasn’t thrilled with because I am the only person in the family who ever goes in there, so guess who picked up most of Le Gifts?

Even less thrilling that Le Gifts was Da Humpty Dance. Suddenly, within a month’s time, all Mozz-man was interested in was Da Humpty. My left leg suffered incredible and frequent indignities and it became quickly apparent that action was required.


“Aiya-no!” our neighbor said when she saw Mozzy in the cone of shame. “You have a-ruined him!” Perhaps in the Dominican Republic it is in poor form to neuter a dog that you could make a shitload of money on in stud fees, but my left leg just couldn’t take any more loving, people.


Luckily, he forgave us.

That January and February, I still was deep in the BadLands. Some days, I didn’t know what else to do so I just plopped onto the floor and surrendered for a while, seeking guidance or motivation or a message from the universe. What I got was 3 pounds of white fur and pink tongue and wiggly body, cuddled next to mine, for as long as I intended to stay there. Some days, we logged a lot of floor time. Sometimes I’d talk but mostly we’d just sigh a lot and wonder if we needed a snack.

We walked for a long time in the afternoons, that winter, unless the ground was blanketed in ice, treacherous. Our breath came out in ghostly bursts and our noses dripped and I abandoned my earmuffs for ridiculous, puffy headphones, where I blasted Jets to Brazil on constant repeat.

In March, I got the flu, fainted in the kitchen, fell backward onto the hardwood floor, cracked a hole in the drywall and suffered a concussion (my third). I couldn’t drive and felt like I had oatmeal in my brain, so floor time was big. Against better judgment, my husband and I still took the girls to California for spring break and I spent a good deal of time hurling into airsick bags on planes. I sat on benches at the amusement park, relishing the sunshine and waving at my husband and the girls as they boarded rides that spin and dip and twist and even upside-down.

I sat on benches, feeling like a party-pooper and a crank.

“Mommy, look!” Miss M. waved as she was about to board yet another ride I couldn’t go on. I waved feebly and fought a wave of nausea as someone walked past me with an enormous, greasy funnel cake.

Suddenly, I really, really wanted to be at home, on the floor, with my dog.

I missed him. Wrenchingly so.

“Jesus, I’ve become one of those people,” I thought. “Those crazy, weirdo people who do dipshit things like make homemade dog treats or dress their mutts up for holidays or take them to see freaking Santa for chrissakes. You know, the kind of people you’ve always made fun of? Guess what? Who’s laughing now?”

I have yet to haul the Mozz-man to the Megamall to see Santa, but if I get any goofier about that little guy, all bets may be off. On his first birthday, I made him the dang homemade dog treats, for Heaven’s sake! I also went out, purchased and cooked him a lovely piece of wild salmon from the gourmet fish market.

I’m nuts.

I’ve always been nuts, but now I’m that much nuttier.

Wild Uncle Johnny, I apologize now. I get it, and you’re right. Dogs love better than anybody.

Sure, nothing was easy about Mozzy at first, and it wasn’t just the timing of his arrival or the fact that I was under water. There was the ear fungus, the destroyed sofa, the bout of Giardia when he got into a dead bird. There was the time he brought in a stick from the yard that turned out to be the thigh bone of a freshly killed rabbit. There was the expensive electric fence (which ultimately failed). There was stealth poop and freezing walks and lots of lost sleep.

There were many battles with the cat for household domination.

interloper                                                                                                                                           ^cat’s still mad


There were times when we were kind of annoyed by being slave to a needy little dog who doesn’t respect personal space.

baby face

There has been sacrifice involved. A lot of it.

But when I see that little face in the morning, and it’s the first thing I see, because that little bugger has weaseled his way into sleeping in the bed, I’m very glad. That face, and puppy kisses, and a wagging tail take the sting out of getting out of bed. It’s been a big reason why I can get out of bed. That right there is no small thing.

When my husband is at work and the girls are at school and the cat is taking yet another epic snooze, the house is quiet but I’m not lonely. As I wrestle with words and tap keys, I have a little white companion at my feet, waiting patiently for me to finish. If I get up for a drink of water or a pee break or a snack, I can hear the clack of his paws on the hardwood as he follows, my faithful shadow. He thinks I’m fascinating.


Maybe he’s right.



So which one is it?

Am I sweetness? Am I sickness?

If I choose both,

You would say I lack commitment.

Of course you’re right.

Of course I’m right.

-Jets to Brazil






A New Wrinkle

August 25, 2015




The nurse at the OB-GYN’s office tsks over the phone; I can hear her shuffling papers.

“You realize that it’s been five years since you’ve been in.”

“Five?” I cringe a little. “Damn…I thought it was more like three?”

“No, five.” Her voice softens a little. “You know, it’s easy to let things slide when you have kids and you’re busy, but you really should take better care of yourself.”

“I know,” I grumble. “But hey! I got my boobs squished into pancakes this February, so I’m not a total delinquent!”

“Mmm-hmm,” she says. “But after five years away, we have to register you as a new patient. Can I send the paperwork in the mail?”

Paperwork, my fat fanny. I get a freaking Thesaurus in the mail.

When I come to the section where I cross off any symptoms I’m having that could be related to hormones, I realize I’d better sharpen my pencil.

Hot flashes?  +

Night sweats?  +

Trouble sleeping?  +

Anxiety?  +

Sadness/Depression?  +

Anger/Irritability?  +

Distractedness/ADD-like symptoms?  +

Hair loss?  +

Urgency and or frequency of urination?  +

And then a whole laundry list of other things, quite a bit less common, but could perhaps be related to menopause in some women:

Headaches?  +

Change in skin texture?  +

Blurred/fuzzy vision?  +

Tinnitus/ringing in the ears?  +

Vertigo?  +


Fuckity Fuck, people.

I mailed my Thesaurus back and a few weeks later, when I went to my appointment, my OB raised her eyebrow at me.

“Five years?” she said, suppressing a smirk.

“I know. I suck.”

“That IUD is on its last legs. Lucky you came in, but…” she scans the chart. “You’re having a lot of symptoms of peri-menopause.”

“Symptoms? Are you kidding? I am fucking CUJO. I’m shocked I don’t foam at the mouth. My family lives in fear.”

She laughed. “Let’s examine you and then get some blood. Maybe we can get some answers and you won’t have to suffer.”


Turns out, I do not have peri-menopause.

My numbers are kind of leaning towards the real menopause side of things, and since I’ve had my trusty little IUD in for 5 years, and (blissedly) not had a period for that amount of time, I don’t know when things started to go that direction.

“You are pretty young,” my OB said. “Normal onset is about 51 years of age. When did your mother go through it?”

“Cancer.” I replied. “They yanked out her plumbing before she was 40, so no idea.”


“We sort of never speak anymore. As in, fifteen years not speak.”

“Ah. A mystery then.”


The nurse felt really sorry for me.

“I know that’s hard to hear,” she said sympathetically, as we walked out of the examining room. “But they really have made some strides with hormone-replacement options…”

I laughed and laughed, which I think freaked her out a little, but I couldn’t help it.

“Robin,” I said, noting her name tag, “For two years, I’ve been thinking I’m going crazy. Stone-cold, batshit crazy. Maybe I still am, but once we get on a hormone program, we’ll be able to sift out the batshit crazy from the hormone crazy.”

She gave a nervous little smile. “Well, I’m glad you’re not upset.”

“Upset? Heck, if you’d told me everything was normal, then I’d have been upset. Because then I’d truly just be batshit.”

I’m pretty sure Robin will go out of her way to be busy the next few times I’m in the office.




You guys, I’m so special!

I always knew I was special.

Stay tuned.

Let the hormones be potent and swift.