Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Some Days are Like That

There are just some days you need some comfort food to make it all better. For some it's "bath day" (Barkley was NEVER a fan) or for others it's a whole day of meetings which can sometimes be more tiring than being busy with having eight fires at once to put out.

So for tonight. . .

Easy Baked Mac and Cheese. I love the "just like Mom made" stuff with ham and onions and homemade roux, (and I have an incredibly good one if anyone wants it).. But some days you just need EASY. This one is. But is also delicious and unbelievably creamy. You can assemble it in 15 minutes, if you get out the ingredients ahead of time, while you get out of your work clothes and take the dog outside.

This recipe has been made for potlucks many times and the dish is quickly scrapped clean.
You start with some Cabot extra sharp cheddar (or Tillamock for those lucky folks that can find it out West) and (don't faint) a little bit of Velveeta to make it creamy and a can of Campbell's Cheese soup.

Toss in the rest (not pictured, some Penzey's Northwoods seasoning for the most subtle of bite).
Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle a little more cheddar on top and bake a bit more.
It's the perfect plate of comfort food.
click on photos for the full effect
4 cups macaroni (dry) cooked
1/4 cup real butter, melt onto drained pasta

Stir in a generous 2 cups shredded good qualityCheddar (about 8 ounces)
1 can cheddar cheese soup
8 ounces processed cheese spread
(all at room temperature)

Stir until mostly melted

Add in 3 eggs whisked into 1 can evaporated milk, 1/2 teaspoon Penzey's Northwoods seasoning (or seasoning salt of your choice) and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper.

Bake at 325 for 20 minutes covered with foil. Stir well and remove foil. Sprinkle on about 1/2 cup  cheddar cheese and bake another 15-20 minutes, uncovered, until cheese on top is melted and starting to brown on the edges of the pan.

If you wish to go crazy and add an extra five minutes to it, chopped bacon and/or jalapeno is awesome stirred into it before cooking, but it still shines, even plain.

Enjoy.
This is neither low fat or low sodium, and is  really is intended as a side dish for ham or pork or meatloaf.  But I have to say, I loaded up my plate and it was SO worth it.

Say CHEESE!!!

Monday, May 21, 2018

So Much for Sleeping In

My husband had to leave very early to catch a 7 a.m. flight at O'Hair (what Abby calls it).  It's about a 45-minute drive there and with parking and check-in, he was out the door well before we normally get up.  I took a vacation day and planned to sleep a couple more hours after he left to get up around the time I normally do. I did a big Spring clean of my whole house this weekend as well as a bunch of baking of things to go in the freezer so I was tired.

Abby had other ideas.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday Smiles

After church this morning we had a gathering of all ages as Sunday School wrapped up for the year. There were cookies and juice boxes and coffee followed by "Stump the Pastor" (Bible Trivia) and Bible Trivia for both adults and kids. One questions was "What illness was Miriam afflicted with after she spoke ill of Moses?" to which a little boy in the back of the room shouted:

"Leprechaun!" 

(The answer was Leprosy).

It took a while for everyone to quit laughing.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Run Free Stella Rose Long


Stella Rose Long from:

went with quiet dignity to the Rainbow Bridge today. Please go offer some comfort and hugs to her Mom Deb. She will be missed both here on her Facebook page.
-- The Johnsons

Friday, May 18, 2018

"You Want a Piece of Me?"

My husband takes Abby out for a walk before and after work every day, unless there are severe storms.  Missing a good portion of my meniscus in one knee after a bad fall several years ago, having a dog that will pull on the leash if she sees another dog makes it impossible for me to walk her as it's bone on bone with some movements.  I have a  professional dog walking service that provides a dear lady, a retired postal carrier, that walks her when he is on the road and we have a moderate sized fenced yard for playtime.

But tonight as they walked, they went up a street that has some new residents and a very tiny terrier mix came out behind Abbey from an open gate, ferociously barking and snarling behind her.  Abby just slowly turned around and quietly look down at the dog.

The 8-pound dog looked up at the 82-pound dog and went deadly silent as it slowly and carefully did a 180-degree turn and started slinking back to the yard as a little boy came and snapped him up.

Abby just did a "Make my Day" grin and continued on.

LBJ

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Abby Lab Houskeeping Tips

Abby Lab here - 

Some folks clean their house like they do everything else, ordered, deliberate, careful, behaved.

My Mom can as well.

Sometimes she just reverts to the "Entropy Version of Housekeeping".

Wait until it reaches the lowest level of energy and then scoop it up. 

Sometimes she's a little more energetic about it.

Just some advice - if you're going to vacuum in your bright yellow bra and panties while your jeans and T shirt dry in the dryer. . .

and you're going to listen to Kool and the Gang "Jungle Boogie" REALLY loud. . . .


and you start dancing around with the Oreck in your hand, sucking up those dust bunnies while the red hair whips around. .  .

Make sure you have your drapes are completely closed.

Otherwise, there's a whole 'nother meaning to "neighborhood watch".

Monday, May 14, 2018

Spidey Sense

Abby Lab here. We got a colorful envelope in the mail - the Chicago Zoological Society has a new exhibit this summer at the zoo which is in Brookfield IL and a short ride away from our house. We remember the last one about dinosaurs Mom and Dad went to that and said it was really interesting.

Mom wore a special T-shirt for the dinos. But she said the dinos were animatronic and not real.

But this year's show seems to involve . . . .spiders.  Yes, "Amazin Arachnids".  It features dozens of big hairy tarantulas including the Goliath bird-eating tarantula which can be a FOOT long and they're throwing in some scorpions as well.
Mom muttered something about "what's next, the cobra petting zoo?" while Dad laughed as he knows the kids will love all the science and fun spidey displays.

My Spidey Sense is telling me I don't think Mom is going to go see it.

Mom wouldn't need a new T-shirt - she'd need a suit like this.



Sunday, May 13, 2018

For Mother's Day - Being a Furever Mom

Abby Lab here with a story of how I met my "forever Mom". It was the worse New Years Resolution I'd ever made.

I had been in a shelter - I was scared, and I was sometimes hungry.  Dropped off over the holidays I waited and waited for my family to come back but they didn't.  I was so lonely, so I comforted myelf with food, but there wasn't a whole lot of it. 

I swore that I would find my family, and that if presented the opportunity to eat, I would.

It was several months while I went through treatment for heartworm, but soon I was at a foster Mommy's home with other dogs, and she spoiled me so.  Only a week later I joined my new Mom. She let me know I was HER dog and no one would ever separate us.  There was plenty to eat, but she was careful not to give me too much too quickly as everything was all so new. 

We were at her little home in Indiana.  She said I had a "Dad" but they owned a home in another state.   She said they'd just gotten married last year, and she had to commute for a bit until a job like hers opened up in the other city.   She says she works for some alphabet soup so I figure she's at the place that makes the little red and white cans of chicken goodness.

Dad came down to meet me and after a couple of weeks of settling in, it was time to go to our full time home.  Part of the reason mom picked me is I LOVE to ride in the car.  Here's our first trip.  Mom had a tiny little point and shoot and would take photos of funny cars.

Mom said this was a Woody Wagon - that's the coolest looking doghouse on wheels I've ever seen.  I wonder if they'll get me one of those.

The trip was going to be fun but I'd followed my New Years Resolution which caused me to be in ANOTHER dog house.  For when Mom was sleeping I snooted open the bin of dog food and ate myelf a little snack.  Yes little. . I eat like a bird (Rodan  . . my Mom said).

Unfortunately, it was too much food from what I'd been used to and I barfed on the carpet.  Mom said her dog Barkley sometimes ate too fast and did that and didn't scold me, she just cleaned it up, though I learned some new human words I'd only heard down by the docks before.

We were on our way!
I tried to be a good dog.  I felt bad about sneaking the food and didn't want Mom to regret adopting me so I was quiet---laying down in the harness she set up for me so I couldn't be "projectile dog" if she had to top suddenly.  I was pretty comfortable and Mom talked to me so I wouldn't be scared on our first big drive. 

But Mom hit about every pothole there was on the road.  Honestly, I think we were driving on a pinball machine. Mom said that's just I-65 and it's in bad shape sometimes after the winter.

Then my tummy started to rumble, and my back end started making noises I'd not heard except when the tupperware lid was stuck.  Oh no---I think I'm going to explode. . quick. . I have to go potty. . how do I tell Mom have to potty without bothering her. . .

Kaboom!  Oh uh, too late. .

Mom got off the road at a rest stop that was just a couple of minutes away. There was poopy all over the back seat, and all over Mom as she tried to clean it up.  I felt so bad, but she  got paper towlels and water and just gently patted me and told me it would be OK as she cleaned me up.  When she went to the rest room, this woman wrinkled her nose up at my Mom who was covered with poopy.  Mom just said  "you should have seen the other guy!"

I love my Mom.

But she looks funny driving with ear plugs up her nose.

After a while the smell wasn't so noticeable and we stopped for food.  What did I say about not eating everything in sight?


It's a bag of cow!  And it comes with some Cow Jus to dip the sandwich in.
Mom - Has anyone told you that large quantities of cow can restore an electrolyte imbalance caused by dogrrhea?
She didn't buy that line of bull.  She just gave me some water and some pats and said I could have a bit more food that night.

I guess I'll just go back to sleep.

As we rolled into the drive, Dad was there to great us with open arms and lots of pats.

And apparently a whole bunch of cleaning supplies.
 Still it was great to be home.  I learned my lesson folks, and as Dad met us with stuff to clean out the truck, I got to explore my furever home.  I'll still travel with Mom, if she will let me, and  promise not to overeat.

Because I'm one dog that knows a good thing when she has it. 

I'm glad to be Mom's Lab Assistant  - Just call me Special Agent C4.

-Abby the Lab

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Saturday Eats - Gluten Free Swedish Waffles

It's gluten-free - run away!  run away!


Abby Lab here - Mom made a gluten-free waffle this morning that was actually edible! (Unlike her first attempt which NASA is looking at as a cheap replacement to the tiles they use on the Space Shuttle).  Dad actually gave it 2 thumbs up and asked her to make this regularly. The recipe makes 5-6 waffles - as thin and light as they are we ate all of them!~

Go to her healthy living blog for the recipe!  No wheat flour, full of fiber, and as light as a feather. I got a portion of one and they are seriously yummers!


Friday, May 11, 2018

On Goodbyes

This is a chapter From The Book of Barkley I have never posted on here, because it's just too "raw" for me, even today, but for my friend Andrea, who lost her Casey today I wanted to share.  She had a relationship with her furry best friend as I did.  I've loved every dog that's been a part of my life, including rescue Abby, but there was no dog that I've ever bonded as closely too as Barkley.  There has been more than one time I've boarded a plane and seen someone in their seat with Barkley's book reading it and weeping and I've wanted to say something, but there are some moments you just can't interrupt.  That's why I wrote it and that's why I remember it today, with my own tears, but still, a smile.

Remember them, and hold those memories close.
-----

CHAPTER 48– Goodbye

The drive from the Vet to home was a long as a lifetime, a collar and leash, lying on the back seat where only hours ago, lay someone so excited to be going to the Vet, never afraid of that place, only happy for the extra attention and special treats.

Can I live with the drive, knowing he would never return?

There is no pain, no regrets.  Everything I gave him, he gave me back tenfold, listening to me chat away about my day, things that by my oath of duty, I couldn't tell anyone else. He was my black knight with the wagging tail, the fur-covered Kleenex when I cried. He was the finder of slippers and the keeper of hearts.

He was a dog, but he was much more than a dog.

He was support, he was patience.  He was the promise that even with the worst mistakes, he still loved me.  He was that fire that cauterized me against loneliness and fear, the thump of his tail like the sound of a heart in the womb, creature comfort there in the dark and unknown.   He became the unevictable place in a heart so bruised; it had pushed everyone harshly away that got too close, teaching me to trust again. With that trust, I found my heart's twin, who happily became his family, as well.

As a family, we take care of each other.  Having a pet is a commitment just as is any bond, either visible or invisible with another living creature, is.  It's not just being a good friend during the good times, it's being a friend during surgery, explosive doggrhea, and that pile of vomit in the corner on the one square of carpet that wasn't protected by a cheap throw rug.

You do what you can to help them during those scary, shadowed times, with tender, soothing words. You don't lay your hand upon them with forceful curse and belittlement.  They look at you to be the strong one, the better one, even if it's difficult to do.  They trust you to act from your heart and not from the infinite, internal voices of human fear and angst.

They pay it back in ways that can't be captured, but by the measured beat of a tail.  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.

For there is a great measure of trust and love contained in that warm web of bone and fur, the eyes that can commandeer your pancakes and the tail that wags for you as if you were the only person on the planet for them, and maybe you are.

Their time is so short, indeed, but that does not mean you should not love.  In "people" years, Barkley was probably sixty-something. But they were years condensed down into their core elements, as if a simple ordinary succession of days were not enough, as if the love and all of that faithfulness, the freedom of the field, and the tug of a leash towards the horizon was compressed down into something as hard and brilliant as a diamond.  Everything, every single element of so many long days is there in that short span of time, compounded into that one leap, one surge,  towards the lights of a vehicle in the drive, one joyous bark that contains within it simply "”My person is home”

He cared nothing about what where we lived, how I looked or how much money was in the bank.  All he cared about was how to bequeath that which sustained him, in his too short life, his faith and his love, as he patiently waited for my return.

When he greeted me, he seemed to know when I just needed to sit in the quiet.  He seemed to know when I wanted to play.   If there were a ball to be thrown, he would abandon all restraint and gave every fiber of himself, to reach that for which was before, only a dream; unmitigated glory.  His life was not deadlines, or deals or caring about the things that in all reality will not matter at the end of life.  His life was simply a joyous run ahead of that avalanche of time that would be his enemy had he any concept of it.

But time caught up with him, forcing a decision that I hoped wouldn't have to be made. But meds could not keep the pain at bay and amputation and chemo was only going to buy a very short amount of time, at the expense of his comfort. I could not in good conscience make him go through that for there was no cure, only a continuation of pain. So I was there, by his side, not passing on the burden solely to someone in a white lab coat, loving and caring, but not his "Mom". Although he never formally took an oath, paw placed upon a revered document, flag on the wall, an oath was taken.  When he came home with me as a puppy, he swore his life to serve and protect.  That was his duty, as it is mine.

He had enough medication to briefly take the pain away, a big bowl of food that wasn't kibble, and all the treats he could happily gobble down.  There was no fear in him, no pain, and no anxiety. Dad and Mom said goodbye as I placed my cool hand on his warm flank and talked to him down at floor level, in all those murmured words that meant something only to us.  Where else could I be but to just be there as the needle quietly slipped in and he was free from all burden, one surge, one leap towards the light so easily and joyously, so as to lose all sense of restraint, weightless upon the warm, invisible air.  He was free, the pain of bone and flesh departed, only one long, joyous, soundless bark as he went Home to wait by the Rainbow Bridge until we can catch up.

He was more than a dog. He was love that crept in on four paws and remains, as long as memory lasts. - LBJ

For Casey

Near this spot
Are deposited the Remains
of one
Who possessed Beauty
Without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
And all the Virtues of Man
Without his Vices.

When some proud son of man returns to earth,
Unknown to glory, but upheld by birth,
The sculptor's art exhausts the pomp of woe,
And storied urns record who rests below.
When all is done, upon the tomb is seen,
Not what he was, but what he should have been.
But the poor dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his master's own,
Who labors, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
Unhonored falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in heaven the soul he held on earth --
While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.

Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power --
Who knows thee well must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy smiles hypocrisy, thy words deceit!
By nature vile, ennobled but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye, who perchance behold this simple urn,
Pass on -- it honors none you wish to mourn.
To mark a friend's remains these stones arise;
I never knew but one -- and here he lies.

- Lord Byron

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Drive By Pee Mail - A Barkley Memory

I found these pictures and just had to share.  Barkley has been gone four years, and there's not a day I don't miss him but I can look at these pictures now and just smile.

May we all have such memories.
New Life
Discovered
I Salute You

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Still Life and Quantum Mechanics - For Casey's Mom


Casey's Mom is dealing with some heartbreak and though I can't give her a hug in person, I can give some words.  I'll let her tell you in her time, but those of us on The Book of Face, found out earlier.

Hugs Andrea.
----------------------------------
It was once said in an age-old axiom, that an object cannot occupy two positions at the same time. Yet now, with today's technology, it may be argued that it is just possible to do that. The number of places science can go is far greater than I ever believed, even growing up reading Clarke and Asimov at every turn. Most physicists today trying to unite Einstein’s theory of gravity with quantum mechanics focus on microscopic realms beyond the reach of any conceivable experiment. Perhaps the solution that eluded Einstein is much closer at hand, in the strange territory where quantum mechanics just barely emerges into the human world. And we could be in two places at once. Or occupying the same position at two different times. Or fervently wishing we could

You've all had days like that when simple things went awry, plans made that mattered little to you, mattered much to others, things said, bridges burned, moments that repeated themselves for weeks or months in your head. If only I'd done this, if only I'd said that. Moments in which you wish you could turn back time on itself as if you've never been there. Moments that repeat themselves in your memory, minute by minute, wrong place, wrong time.

Things happen when it is time for them to happen they say, and that moments like those long ago likely were meant to be. Perhaps today is, as well. It's a sentimental notion, wishful thinking, or to some, a projection of some great plan by some divine power. But where would we be without wishful thinking? How much hard-bitten logic is there in the world? Would an electron have split with simply cold hard logic, and not a bit of wishful thinking by minds whose conceptions are beyond logic. How much hard reasoning is there really? Maybe somewhere out there in the world, there is a place where reason is never as comfortable as a familiar sweater, where thought is as flat as a glass of stale ale left forgotten on the counter when the phone rang.


There are people happy to live that way, who lie in quiet acceptance of what is thrust upon them. People who numb the reaches of their mind in the same way someone with chronic pain eases their movements with pharmaceuticals. That person thinks there could be more, that possibilities exist, but there is too much effort involved in the motivation to take them there. It would mean giving up what is safe, getting up, moving forward, and who knows if the outcome would be the best thing they ever experienced, or simply shed more light on a world they would prefer stay comfortably dim. Best to stay still, quiet, and in the dark, they say.

Certainly, such a place is safer; where no smudge of desire affects debate, prediction is not contaminated by untried theory and actions aren't clouded by concealed agendas. Still, it is a world flat and colorless as tap water. A world I don't want to live in.

I still have moments where the lone tear for things past come unbidden, yet in each day in me is an increased curiosity for the world around me and what I can take from it, even if reaching for it sometimes causes me to teeter on the edge of a precipice in which only my fate echoes. D.H. Lawrence wrote that in every year we pass an anniversary unaware. That of our own death.

I regularly visited that place. Authors such as Laurence Gonzales write about it in Deep Survival. Where we, as adventurers of the world, circle and circle, climbing faster and higher, up to that spot marked X. That spot that will mark their own demise, flirting with it, teasing, poking the bear. I've seen it enough to recognize and know when I need to stay, and when it's time to leave.
You can do the same in an ordinary life, you can fall off a ladder and break your neck on a lunch break, but we do that blindly. In a life fully lived we engage our fate deliberately, we speak the words we may later regret, but we have to say them. We engage life as an indefatigable opponent that others will wish to tiptoe by, so not to awaken it. We risk our necks, and we risk our hearts, both, cajoled by the spirit of adventure that whispers to us from the dark like a lover, with honeyed voice and strong arms that draw us out of our complacent sleep.

I look at the photos around me on the mantel. Behind a dogsled in Alaska, perched on the side of Mt. Rainer or Mt. Hood with friends, in the pilot's seat of a T-6, face flush from doing aerobatics, in one frame, a leaf plucked from the upper levels of an alpine slope. There's a photo of my only brother and my beloved dog Barkley, there before that month that took them both from me to sudden aggressive cancers. I look at pictures of the last 15 years, time spent alone, graduating from the academy, giving a lecture at a university, a dinner party for friends, Mexican train dominoes and much laughter and beer.  I look at more recent pictures, of paths taken, not always straight, but as pristine and intact as the road to glory itself. I look at other frames, vacated or new, awaiting new photos, noting those places to be filled by a heart that is. I am still an adventurer, I'm just an older, wiser explorer of the world, whose limbs and heart though tested still yearn for that last great adventure

I am two women, at the same place, at the same time. The woman here at the apex of life, and the young woman in the photos seeking untarnished dreams. Two women; the one that I have was, and the one that I am. That woman today,  green eyes wise with age, will hopefully look at pictures from the past,  remembering the woman that I brought me here to this day, hopefully wiser than the young woman I was, but retaining all of the dreams.

For although many years of life have passed, here still lies ahead miles of water to drift down, if only in my dreams, endless chasms of sky to cross; horizons that will tilt and change, fueled by dreams that I will take on until I can no longer draw breath. Dreams that bring with them moments in which I feel the rush of air and catch the scent of warm breath on my face, entering into that other plane of being in which I see my whole life ahead of me, death still beyond it. Moments in which, in the rush of emotion, I am outside of my body. Outside, yet in, looking away, looking beyond, in a rush or pleasure so intense that I know, that even with that risk, I will chase that moment again. I am in two places, within my heart and outside of it, tasting, seeking, reaching up to touch that last crimp with the tips of my fingers, to climb past that X into the light.

I will never fully understand the science that can transport matter or the circumstances of quantum mechanics that allows for wonders that we can't conceive of. But I can grasp the wonder of my world, in a volcanic rock formed in the earth that holds in place letters from those long gone. In an empty dog collar that lays in revered silence on top of a small wooden box. In a pressed leaf in a photo frame; a leaf once green, nature's compromise between life and poison, a pragmatic conformation to circumstance, retaining beauty even as it fades to dust.
-- LBJ

Monday, May 7, 2018

Chewy Delivers, but Home Distribution Fails - An Abby Sulk

 Sulk
 Unopened Chewy box delivered 
 I'm trying not to look at it.
Abby - you already have food and treats - it's going to have to wait until Dad gets home, as Dad's flight into O'Hair is running late and I'm not going to wrestle with it until then. It's heavy and you already have food and treats open.

It's morning!  And Dad made it home
 I'm still going to pretend to sulk 
 Feigning mild disinterest
 Treats fell out - it's a different color - is it a new flavor?
 I have to check this out.
 Wow, Chewy sent a whole bunch of treats with my bag of food.
 It's the Mother Lode!
MMMM - lamb and apple Blue Stix - these are as good as the salmon and potato so now I have TWO favorites!