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Evil Grass

No, this isn’t another marijuana post.

Do you know what a grass awn is?

Grass awn is another name for The Devil. Grass awns are Satans of the savannah, Lucifers of the llano and Mephistopheles of the meadow. Closer to home, they are Beelzebubs of my backyard. They may look benign, but they are EVIL.

Colorado grass awn

Just ask our happy-go-lucky Dexter. Truly, he’s the happiest dog in the history of dogs. People stop us on walking and hiking trails to tell us so.

Dexter the bichon poodle

He suddenly stopped being his happy-go-lucky self late one recent afternoon while I was cooking dinner. He entered the kitchen after playing outside with the kids and let out three uncharacteristic yelps, even though no one was around accidentally stepping on his tail or paws. He cranked his neck to look over one shoulder at his own hind-end and had a plaintive and pitiable look in his eye: Help me, Mom. He stayed that way with his neck cranked around toward his butt, panting heavily.

Tessa followed him in and became quite alarmed. We were on the same kitchen floor that she dissolved on the day I told her Grandma Lisa had died. In her mind, Dexter had cancer and was about to die, and she began to panic. I don’t know about “die” but by Dexter’s deflated and acutely pained demeanor, I knew it was dire. I breathed deeply and audibly to calm all of us down.

My hunch was that we were dealing with a wasp sting, so I looked for any signs of swelling on Dex’s left cheek and neck but saw nothing. I couldn’t imagine what else could have affected him so suddenly. Was it a pinched nerve or strained neck muscle? If so, is there such a thing as a canine chiropractor?

No answers magically appeared so I called the vet and was invite to come in for an after-hour$ vi$it. We gently got Dex into the car and I drove as unjarringly as I could. The tech asked us to leave him there until the vet was able to investigate. An hour later, we got the call that The Devil had invaded our dog’s ear canal and that we could take Dexter home for the night, as there was nothing they could do at that hour.

The treatment for the night was a painkiller and repeated ear irrigation. We were not to feed Dex breakfast the coming morning because we may be sedating him to get Beelzebub out. We paid for the goods and services and left.

The painkiller worked well — Dex showed no sign of pain the rest of the evening, though he did paw at his cheek a few times. We irrigated a few more times but did not see Lucifer exit the ear canal.

Dex was fine the next morning, unless you count hunger. We took him in for the vet to take a peek in a follow-up vi$it, and what she saw was….


Of course it was. She saw something — maybe a normal blob of fur, maybe the offending grass awn, but hard to tell with a wiggly dog. Sedation was the only way to know for sure.

We were faced with a dilemma: $200 for the sedation to remove the grass awn, or wait-and-see. Maybe with all the ear-washing, Mephistopheles had found its way out. Maybe Dex had shaken it out. Maybe we’d dodged a financial bullet. We left the vet again, betting on the latter, paying for that appointment (cha-ching!) without making another.

All was well until I did what nobody in a medical crisis should ever do: I googled “grass awn,” and boy, did I get an earful. From, there are several ways that this brand of Evil can kill or maim a dog:

…As the florets mature, they fall off easily. They can be inhaled into the throat or lungs of a dog, swallowed, caught between the toes, become lodged in the fur, or fall into the ear canal. Once attached, the direction of the basal hairs creates a “barbed” effect which keeps the floret from backing out of the fur or tissue. As the animal moves the floret constantly migrates forward pushing the pointed base further into the tissue.

Once inside the tissue these florets have been known to migrate anywhere inside the body including through organs, down the spinal column, through the eyes, and up the limbs. Aside from the damage and infection caused by the migration, some florets carry bacteria that can cause serious infections depending on where they are located.

So here we are a few days later and many dollars shorter. We’ve decided that despite the fact that Dex is showing no symptoms, we’re going ahead with the sedation to verify that the grass awn is gone, and if it’s not, to have it removed. In the meantime, all four of us humans are uncomplainingly weeding a long-neglected area of our yard.

We’re taking Dexter back to the vet tomorrow morning. We intend to keep our happy-go-lucky dog around for many years to come.

Begone, Satan!

(If you intend to bring up pet insurance, no need. We’re investigating.)

5 Easy Steps to Goop Yourself

Yeah, Gwyneth Paltrow as front page news is fading as other more timely topics encroach (Letterman’s exit, Lorde embracing her flaws, or that couple banned from naming their son “WikiLeaks”).

But still she’s on my mind. Or at least her website,, is. How did it get such a silly name?

I’m guessing it’s either this, or that Gwyneth simply put some repeating vowels in between her first and last initials.

So à la Slate’s Travoltify your Name or its Relationship Status Generator, I offer you this low tech way to Gwynify your own personal website in five easy steps

  1. Determine your first and last initials
  2. Choose a vowel: a, e, i, o, u or even a y.
  3. Double your chosen vowel: aa, ee, ii, oo, uu, or even yy.
  4. Place the doubled vowels in between your first and last initial.
  5. Add .com. Or .net if you’re feeling edgy.

Example: I’m Lori Holden. I choose “u.” I’m not that edgy. Therefore, my own personal Gwynified website would be

How did Gwyneth name Goop?

How about you? What’s your own personal Gwynified website?


My fingers glide effortlessly over the keys. No one in the history of piano — including Ludwig van Beethoven — has ever performed Für Elise quite as  well as I am playing it now.

being my own heroI sit at the piano in our living room, right near our home’s front door, “sniffing the keys” (my piano teacher‘s phrase for playing with emotion). I am certain that a talent scout is about to walk up to our door — maybe he or she masquerades as a phone book deliverer so as to catch me being natural — and hear my piano brilliance, pluck me from my bench in our obscure town and take me to a Big Stage, transforming my life.

I have this thought every time I practice the piano.

I am 10.


As I searched for my Word for 2014 (2012’s was Write and 2013’s was Speak), this memory, long buried under more  than a bit of embarrassment, arose.

And I see that in more subtle ways, I have still been waiting for someone — a hero to my inner helpless and waiting young, small girl — to pluck me from where I am and take me to someplace better, bigger.


I wasn’t a fan of this song when it first came out. In fact, despite its ubiquity on the radio waves late in the summer, I didn’t really pay attention to it until this.

I watched this video over and over after the start of the school year, verklempt with emotions I can’t quite explain (peace, acceptance, harmony? in a high school??) — and not just because Tessa’s birth brother makes an appearance at 3:30.

I began tuning into the song. And, trite as it sounds, I am drawn to the line,

I went from ze-e-ro | To my own he-e-ro.


I have had many heroes and helpers in getting my book published and launching my speaking career. I won’t list them for fear of inadvertently omitting someone. Helpers and heroes in my life, in my passions and pursuits, I have them galore.

My book came out in 2013, which is still a pinch-me thought. It was a long slog to turn me into a published author and a public speaker. In some ways, these accomplishments are a pinnacle of my professional life, achievements of a dream that prior to 2008 I would not have dared dream.

But it happened — pinch me! Against all odds the stars aligned and I now hold a hard copy book in my hands. I now get up on stages to teach people how to parent with a heart that’s open to their child’s yearnings, able to listen to the whispers of that child’s heart.

And yet after these pinnacle accomplishments, my life is much the same — which is not a bad thing. I had a good life before and I have a good life now. But I have not been transformed as a blogger. Things are not easier booking myself as a speaker. I’m not suddenly able to make a living doing what I’m passionate about (but I’m open to that possibility).

I realize that all these years later I’ve still been waiting for someone to pluck me from my corner of the world to a Big Stage. I thought it had happened in getting first an agent and then a publisher. I thought that being plucked in this manner would  transform my life in a big way, much like my childhood fantasies of being discovered on my humble piano bench would magically transport me to Carnegie Hall.

In my heart of hearts I have spent decades waiting for a Hero, a plucker to take me from my little pond to Put Oprah on hold, please. I’m talking to Ellen now and will have to call her back.

Just about as silly a thought as the one about the talent scout/phone book deliverer.

I wish to shift my mindset. In 2014 I acknowledge that I am my own hero. I am all the archetypes, actually. Everything I need I hold within. Everything I need to release I hold within me the power to. Whatever is to come my way shall come because I will realize that in addition to all my very real external heroes (you know who you are), I am my own hero. I am not small and helpless, waiting on a piano bench for someone more powerful to notice me.

I don’t plan to roar, exactly. I desire no big “look at me” moment. Instead, I seek an inner change, a subtle shift in the locus of heroism that has been off-center my entire life. I wish for that little girl on the piano bench and this big girl at her keyboard to further move in to her self-authority.

When that happens, a hero’s roar doesn’t even need to be that loud.

How might you be your own hero in 2014? Have you picked a word for 2014?

Image courtesy vectorolie /