Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Requests for a Prayer

This is not related to anyone's beloved pet or personal family member but something I witnessed today that still has me a bit shook up.

Given my line of work, I'm used to lots of mayhem, torn and often burned flesh and dead bodies. But they're all strangers to me when I meet them in the field, or on the autopsy table.

Today a neighbor was getting a new roof. I was teleworking getting some reports knocked out. The roofing crew started early morning and was still working insanely hard late afternoon. The homeowners were gone, not wanting to hear the noise all day, so I brought water and cookies and another male neighbor offered up his bathroom should they need it. No one spoke English but they all understood water and comfort and were very grateful.

Just before they were about an hour from being done for a day, the job site went totally silent. Then the ambulance, police, and fire engine showed up. One of the men, a cheerful middle aged Hispanic man, had fallen from the steep pitched two story roof onto cement. A neighbor that witnessed it said, "it looks like he has some bleeding from a cut on his head and badly hurt his back".

Then I watched him get loaded into the ambulance.

He was unconscious and his body and arms were positioned in the decorticate response posturing which indicates severe head trauma. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is usually combined with cervical spine (C-spine) injury. Once in the ambulance, they didn't move for over 10 minutes which means they were likely performing endotracheal intubation with adequate sedative or analgesics and a muscle relaxant to prevent an increase in intracranial pressure during that intubation in the TBI patient. Recovery from such an injury is unlikely.

Even sadder, the rest of the obviously traumatized crew had to keep working the job until dark, now short one man. The roofer's trucks were unmarked, no one spoke English and there were no OSHA safeguards in place for the roof work. If OSHA shows up to investigate tomorrow I'll be having a long chat with the investigator. I don't care where you were born or whether you are working on a green card or not. There are moments we are all simply human, deserving of safety and care.

I do not know his name but I will be praying for that kind, cheerful man and his family tonight.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday Black and White

It's not considered "drinking alone" if the dog is home.

Saturday, June 24, 2017


Mom - my favorite stuffie is missing?!

It's OK Abby -while you were at the groomers today for your bath and nail trim, Mr. Gator also needed a bath and is out sunning himself like crocodiles like to do.

He'll come back in when he's dry.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Flower Friday - For Angel Dory, Bilbo, and Mr. Bailey

 For our friends at:

Some flower photos today as we remember old friends with a  special memory of Mr. Bailey who had to cross to the Bridge on Wednesday.  His Mom and Dad have made the most beautiful memorial garden for their angel fur kids.  You have to go see it at:

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Party Meatloaf - An Angel Barkley Memory

Hey, what's Mom making for dinner in there?

October  2013 - I reaI spent a weekend recently at the crash pad cleaning out some cupboards, which unearthed several old cookbooks of Mom's that Dad found and mailed, including some from soft bound 1960's vintage cookware company cookbooks.

Barkley - what do you think about Party Meatloaf?

In reviewing some of the recipes I realized that it's not the lack of exercise, super-sized sodas and lots of processed junk food that's making this generation fat.
Mmmm - look what's in it.

No, the reason the "Mad Men" generation were all svelte was recipes such as this.

From Mom's 1960's Nordic Ware Cookbook, which I first ran by my best friend on the phone, to which she replied "there is NOT enough bacon in the world for that recipe".

60's Party Meatloaf

3 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 cups soft bread crumbs
1 egg beaten
6 T. minced onion
salt and pepper
4 Tablespoons Peanut Butter
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons Horse-Radish
1 1/4 Tablespoon catsup.

Combine ingredients and pack firmly into a bundt pan and bake at 350 F. for 2 hours (isn't that how you make presto logs?)

Top with cinnamon apple rings, broiled peaches and onion rings.  (yes, you heard that right)
What do you think?

Well gee, Barkley,  if that doesn't spell party I don't know what does?

Good memory there, but I think I will definitely pass on trying the "party meatloaf".   Tonight, a recipe for meatloaf that's actually tasty. This is a slight variation of my standard meatloaf that Blogville's Noodles for President and Astro have both tried (Astro's Dad asks for it weekly).

My husband loves it as well but recently I was out of a couple of ingredients so I substituted bread crumbs for crushed Keebler crackers and did not add dry mustard to the sauce, zinging it up instead with a little extra sugar and Apple cider vinegar and a splash of coffee. I also added just a dab of butter and left out the half cup water I usually add for a thicker sauce that stuck to the meat better so not to burn on the bottom of the crockpot.  It was REALLY tasty sauce but I will put the original recipe in the comments for those that want Astro's Dad's favorite. My husband said he prefers the updated version though.

I served it with homemade macaroni salad and green beans with bacon.  (That sounds a LOT better than apple rings, broiled peaches, and onion rings :-)


In a bowl mix:

1 to 1 and 1/4 pound ground sirloin (our butcher often doesn't have quite an exact pound)
1/2 cup  dry bread crumbs (if using 1 and 1/4 pound I add an extra Tablespoon)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion or celery, sauteed in a little olive oil first if you like
1 large egg
2 teaspoons ketchup (if using 1 and 1/4 pound meat use full Tablespoon)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (if using 1 and 1/4 pounds meat I use a full Tablespoon)
a splash of milk (mixture should be really moist, but no more than 3-4 Tablespoons)
1/2 generous teaspoon low sodium seasoning mix or a dash or two of table salt (I use Braggs 24 herb seasoning which is zero sodium and really flavorful - available at most health food stores)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Form into a loaf and place in crockpot.

About an hour before meatloaf is done (or make ahead) mix in a saucepan on low until butter melts:
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon strong coffee, (if coffee is not really strong use 1 full teaspoon).
3 Tablespoons sugar or honey
1 and 1/2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar (I used Braggs)
1/2 teaspoon butter
a couple of drops of lemon juice

I cook the meatloaf 1 hour on high and 2 hours on low (crockpots do vary a bit in temp you want an internal temperature of 160 F (70 C) or you can do 350 F in the oven for 50 minutes. Add the sauce over the top about an hour before done in the crockpot and 15-20 minutes before done in the oven.

That looks better doesn't it Abby?

Monday, June 19, 2017

If You Don't Like Your Treat - Please Lettuce Know

 "Mom - what are you doing out there in the kitchen.  I am SO bored."

"Abby - I'm making the Food Network's cauliflower soup recipe for lunch - would you like a treat?"
 "Mom  - that crunchy white thing does NOT look or smell like a treat!"
 "Abby - the Vet said you'd gained weight since your last visit so I am replacing a couple of your treats each day with fresh veggies."
"Mom - is that even LEGAL?"

"It's cauliflower Abby - just try it, you liked the frozen peas!"
 "Great Leaping Horny Toads Mom - that's awful!"
 "Oh my Dog.  Quick - get me some stale fruitcake to get the taste out of my mouth."
 "Blech blech blech - that's not 'cauliflower' that's albino broccoli and you know I hate broccoli!
"Harumphhh.  I'll just sit here until a REAL treat shows up!"

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Cloudy with a Chance of Cheeseburgers

My husband was scheduled to roll in late last night - leaving me to have to fend for myself for dinner before he got home.
 Hmmmm.  The bacon fumes should have cleared out by then.  Amish bacon from Beef Mart in Valporaiso, IN.
 If he asks. . . .
I'll say the ashes in the driveway are from a squirrel spontaneously combusting. . . 
While I nibbled on "salad."
No Mom!  You've got "bacon breath" he's never going to buy that story.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Flowers for Dory and Memories of Bilbo

In memory of our Frend Dory and now her sweet brother Bilbo from

 who went to the Bridge this week to join his sister, some Friday flowers.

As long s I can I will look at this world for the both of us.
As long as I can I will sing with the birds,
I will laugh with the flowers,
I will pray to the stars for both of us.

 - Author Unknown

What the heart once owned and had, it shall never lose.

-Henry Ward Beecher

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Friendship- Walking Into the Night

Abby Lab here - Mom works in an unusual job, She was a former pilot for Uncle Sam, now she solves crimes for Uncle Sam. She is normally quiet about it, but sometimes has to let it out. So for our friends in Blogville who care, a walk into the night.
When going into battle soldiers know who has their back. In Law Enforcement, it is much the same. But in the day to day life, we often find out who is around us that would take that literal bullet for us.

Growing up my big brother was my protector. If you've read my first two books you know our story well. He was my best friend and guide despite the age difference  I still thank him for when he sent the "live toad in a gift box" to the snooty girl down the block that made fun of me for wearing hand-me-downs and home sewed clothes because my Mom chose to be a full-time mom rather than return to the workforce as a Deputy Sheriff when they adopted the two of us late in life.

When Mom died, and Dad briefly checked out emotionally, my beloved brother off in Submarine Service, I left home young, starting college at age 14, fleeing not simply because I was fleeing, but that the absence was the only argument I had at 14 to employ against the losses in my life. I was alone until I was not, then a pregnancy in college and my daughter's subsequent adoption made me realize I needed family around me again, even if not related by blood. So there were friends, and there were toasts and tears and healing as I got past the sound that goodbyes made.
When I graduated and was accepted into flight training to become a pilot I had much the same support system. Our Crew Chief, who often looked at us like something on the bottom of his shoe, honestly was our biggest fan, but using Crew Chief etiquette wasn't allowed to show it. Crew Chiefs were like that, finding the occupation of keeping their emotion steeled against the worst so captivating, that they had no other emotion available. He wasn't scared, but thinking everyone under his charge was such an idiot that we would never see another sunrise, he remained firm in his resolve that what was to be was predestined.   The ground crew was won over by homemade chocolate chip cookies even if they weren't quite sure what to make of the first female Commander in the unit.  My copilots became family, even the one that used to spray the whole cockpit down with Lysol because he was a germaphobe which followed with me puking into his flight bag due to a late night out and a fighter pilot breakfast (you'll have to google that, this is a family-friendly blog).

We'd launch, whether we were ready or not, listening to the sounds of the ground crew (clear on 2) with that listening attention that meant we were ready to go out and confront whatever those words meant. In the distance, a knot of men, moving with deliberate movement, offering a wave as we taxied out, their roles unclear as the wind amped up a slow vibration in the air, but their support unwavering,

But later in life, when my flying was behind me except for the occasional inverted romp in an 8KCAB, my support system was not so structured. There were friends I thought I could rely on that disappeared like smoke when there were clouds on the horizon. There were those that wanted to be friends simply to build their fan base. And there were those that were like the walls of my house - quiet, not always saying anything, but always there to keep me warm and safe.

My team at work has always been a constant. I've worked with gruff curmudgeons who hold evidence in their giant paws of hands like the most tender of playthings even as we are busied with matters of life and death that brook no delay. And I've worked with the young probies, so bursting with ambition and testosterone that they always upheld a state of lively satisfaction no matter the amount of deeply questioned bloodshed.

I've been covered in gore, and I've been shot at, ending my day wet, tired, and stiff in every joint, with that momentary hallucination of vision that comes to the insanely exhausted where like a drowning man reviews his life, I realized that not only did I not find the smoking gun, I left the coffee pot on this morning.
But I always had my support system.

Today, I'm management- more likely to be felled by a paper cut than a bullet. My team still visits, but in doing so I'm "Ma'am" not "Brigid" as I'm the director. Times change, time slows. But I do know that there are those around me I can count on, both personally and professionally, in that enlightened compressions that dwell upon the approach of a storm.

Yet, on those nights I'm stuck in a hotel room, the bed linen cold and soundless under my hand, clinging softly to that hand in the quiet air as breathing vaporizes in the faint light as I wait for the phone to ring, I'm aware of something.
I still have those that watch my back, even if they are only friends and family, strong in my life, even if their numbers are as a shadow is larger than the object that casts it. They are there in those mornings where the red dawn crests in the sharp light as if beyond the horizon lay hell not heaven. They are there in those soft nights, where ice cubes tinkle and the air carries on it only the scent of mint and soft lemon verbena perfume as small children chase fireflies in the yard.

As I return from my travels, the taxi taking me from the airport, the old bungalows of Chicago pass by the window in grays and browns, lighter than dust and laid lightly upon the earth, as if one good hard rain would wash them away, I smile. I am simply another suit and a laptop, trying to make a little difference in an insane world, where those that work with me, risk their lives for what is right and good. This is not the life I planned, and it is not the life I imagined, but it is the only life I want, here with those who would walk into the night with me.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

In Sickness and In Health - A Barkley Memory

The quiet, serene, pre-Barkley office.

We all come home to different environments.  For some, it's the sound of little kids squealing with delight that Mommy or Daddy are home.  It's the the clatter of footsteps like the thunder of small ponies down a trail, that is no trail, but is simply a hallway rug, worn by that repeated motion of sheer joy.

For some it's a simple "Hello Sweetie" a hug and a kiss.

And sometimes it's the blissful sound of silence after a really long day, when all you want to do is eat a hot meal and have a mug of hot tea while you lay out the thoughts of the day in your favorite spot to write or perhaps watch one of your favorite old adventure movies.

The night in question was the later kind but it was going to be one of those very nights where the tea was a glass of Malbec.
Mom, come quick!  Someone pooped on the rug!

Barkley usually greeted me at the back door to the garage, alerted by the door going up, with that terrifying bark that to outsiders sounds ferocious. He sounded scary, but he would let me take a bone right out of his mouth with my bare fingers.  I was his protector and his protected and if I wanted it, it's mine.  But he would defend to the death, that bone, from any creature of a lower, parallel plane, those that were neither protected or protector that would take what he loves.  So even with that quiet temperament that was his nature, I know he'd defend to the death, as well, my safety.

But he knew the sound of my truck and the bark would take on a different tone. I normally heard him before the door was even up, the sound, wild and faint, and incomprehensible but for it's meaning. Bark!  Bark!  "Mom's Home!"

It was later than normal and  that night long agowhen I came in - silence.  He was comfy on the couch, Brinks Barkley, sleeping on the job.
I patted him, fed him, let him out to go potty, which he always does after he eats. I was glad his tummy was feeling OK, as the previous evening he had snarfed up a bit of greasy food wrapper that had hit the floor when emptying the trash, and I figured that might upset his tummy. But he seemed fine, just not as lively as usual.

So I poured the wine, put on some barley soup on to heat for supper, and sat down to call my boyfriend (now my husband) from the couch.

We  had just said hello when:

 "Oh, Crap! Barkley threw up in the corner earlier!  I have to go".
Barkley had an ultra sensitive stomach as far as rawhides and some people foods, even when he was youngster, unlike my last black lab who could eat an entire tank and then just gently burp.  So several times a year, Barkley would snag some fatty food that's dropped (bacon!)  or a piece of sandwich left unattended or a paper napkin or such that was soaked with meat juice.  He then usually threw it up. He always upchucked in the same spot, if he couldn't alert me in time that he needed to go out, a corner of the front room between a sofa and chair. Since there's a nice rug there, I laid out a large clean towel in the spot, just in case.

Unfortunately, it wasn't barf. Other end. Poor thing,

I'm sure he tried to hold it, but couldn't.  He'd never done that in the house since his first couple of weeks home as a puppy. Of course, this time, he carefully MOVED THE TOWEL OUT OF THE WAY FIRST before he tagged my floor with the latest of black lab gang signs (in poop!) But I could see the doggy thought process - "Mom gets upset if I grab her clean towels off the counter so I will protect her clean towel even in my indisposition - I'm a good dog!"
Mom, I was just FOLDING these clean towels I found on the counter.

He just looked at me from a distance, as if he expected a scolding, as I cleaned it up (pointing out the large area of tile in the entraceway  he could have selected instead of the carpeting, though he didn't appear to be taking notes). There is nothing quite like the look of a dog that's expecting harsh words, no different than a human that somehow knows you are angry, even if they aren't quite sure what exactly they did wrong; a sort of shocked and unbelieving sorrow.

You look at them, your heart beating strongly with the heat of the moment.  They look at you, their heart beating a hollow echo as though already retreating, as they wait for your reaction. You look at them again, weighing a hundred expedients, knowing what you need to do, and not necessarily what fatigue and emotion might prod you to do.
I went over and gently scratched his ear saying  "It's OK, you couldn't help it, you're a good dog", patted him one last time, and gave EJ a call back.

"(sigh) It wasn't barf".

"Oh, so the "Oh Crap" was literal then?"  We laughed and proceeded to chat while Barkley laid down next to me for an ear scratch, feeling fine physically, but needing the reassurance that all was well.

When people get married they take a vow of "in sickness and in health". In a way, we also do that with our pets.  Owning a pet is not cheap, even for youthful preventive care.  Then, there are always the things you don't expect, especially as they age, things that result in someone wearing the cone of shame or the expenditure of hundreds of dollars.
But you help them get better, you adjust your schedule, make doctor appointments and you offer only warmth and support.  You don't  lay your hand upon them with forceful curse and belittlement. They look at you to be the strong one, the tender one. They trust you to act from your heart and not from the infinite, internal voices of human fear and angst.

Then, on those nights when you come home really, really late from work, your soul weary, the house dark, they will quietly come up to you, leaning into you, drawn from their slumber to your side like steel and magnet. At that moment, there as both your hearts beat in the silence, you realize that every measure of sickness and health was worth it.