Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Years Eve Paw-Ty!

 It's the "Doodz"New Years Eve Bash in Blogville hosted by our friends.

and the Mayors of Blogville


 Frankie and I didn't have just a DOUBLE date, we had a TRIPLE DATE!
Prissy and Sarge all decked out with Frankie and I. 
Stunning as ever Rosie with Blogville's Ace Attorney Ernie.
Beautiful Prissy and Handsome Top Cop Sarge.
We dress up pretty nice (but I didn't wear heels)
Ernie's trying not to eye the foodables.
Look at all the pretty decorations.  This will be the best New Year ever!

Click on the colored links above for all the party fun at Dory's and Murphy and Stanley's - we'll be rocking and rolling til the clock strikes midnight.

A big thanks to Sarge's Mom who helped us in getting dressed up.

A little Music to Start the Festivities

While I get ready for my big date with Frankie for the New Years Eve Pawty hosted by Dory and Murphy and Stanley (photos coming up this evening), I will leave you with some music. This is Dad playing at a church for a wedding. He hadn't played in YEARS, but when he was young, before he did the whole engineer/inventor thingy he played in an orchestra in Austria. This video was taken in March of 2011, when he and Mom were first dating.

Even if he said he was "really rusty", Mom was quite proud of him, though Mom did make the minister and ushers crack up when they didn't recognize her from either the bridal party (Dad's college friends, much younger than Mom) or the couple's parents (right age, unfamiliar face).

 Mom just grinned, winked at Dad, and said "I'm with the band!"

 Abby Lab

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Canine Caper or Criminal Intent - YOU be the Judge

Hi - Abby the Labrador here.  Mom made aebleskivers - little Danish pancakes, eaten regularly at Christmas in Denmark.  The cookpan she got from Santa Paws looks like this. . .
. . .and you use a knitting needle or wooden skewer to turn them as they cook to form the round shape.  They're scented with vanilla and cardamom and they are like little soft, fluffy balls of goodness,especially with a yummy golden syrup, powdered sugar, and blackcurrant preserves. She'll put the recipe in the comments if anyone asks for it.

I'm really glad Mom didn't count the ones on the plate.
Not that I'd do anything like that.

For more mug shots from the Howl-i-Daze festivities this week go see


and


Abby "Legs" Lab - Rehabilitated (maybe) Counter Surfer

Monday, December 28, 2015

Seek, Squeak, and Repeat !

Blogville Howl-i-daze Hijinks continues this week.  I had such a good time with my date Frankie Furter at Howl-i-daze host Dory's birthday bash over the weekend - staying out with the dogs and cats until the cows came home.

Abby Lab  - Remember that talk we had about your curfew?

Today it's "Game Night" and Frankie and I are whomping Sarge and Company at ping pong - even with the snow freak bomb moment as an attempt to distract us.

But the fun continues  After checking out the action at

go on and hop on over over to see hosts

for even MORE fun!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Snow Freaks -A Fore-Gone Conclusion in Winter

Abby Lab here.  I got all kinds of good pressies from friends and family and even my special friend Frankie Furter and his brother Ernie. One gift was this soft white squeaky toy.  It looks like a little ball. Here, let me snoot it with my nose.

Oh My DOG - It's a snow freak head.  Frankie - you can't just decapitate them, they're like zombies. You can only ship them off someplace where where they will melt. They're diabolical.  This one gift wrapped itself and shipped itself to our house to invade with the other pressies. We need to get it away from here now. 

What can we do?
Down there at the bottom of the picture.  That just LOOKS like an ordinary golf ball.  But with Mom as the caddy. . . . . . .

 Snow Freak - FORE!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas Everyone

As Abby Lab says:

Pees on Earth.

SqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueakSqueak

Thanks Frankie and Ernie for the Pressies!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve - Last Minute Wrappings


I sent out my husband out to the store to pick up something I forgot to get at the grocers.

I was told not to go into the basement while he was gone as he was still wrapping something.  I asked if he was having trouble with it and he said 

"The tail keeps getting in the way".

I just laughed and sent him on his way, with a list, as without it there's no telling what he will come home with.

Once, instead of getting me roses for  one snowy Valentines day, as I said I don't really like them as they just die, he came home with some rolls of duct tape and disappeared in the basement. He made a dozen duct tape roses.

Being married to an engineer I have learned to never expect the expected and I've also learned, after spending some of my formative years with a widowed Dad and only men in the house, that men look at shopping and gifts a bit differently than my female friends.

Men don't buy the cap snaffler, anything by Popeil or the simple. Men are drawn not by "easy", and "quick to use" but terms like "industrial strength", "tested in non nuclear warfare" and "will withstand 4,000 foot pounds of foot pressure!" because men contain some DNA within them that strives to be the best at every profession there is. A man isn't jut a man, with the right equipment he's fireman, paid assassin, grill chef, engineer, nuclear physicist, cowboy.

He doesn't make fun of you because you have a half dozen different lip sticks or lip glosses, and Abby has twelve almost identical stuffies so we don't say anything when he comes home withe four almost identical pipe wrenches. One of them of course, always has that special use that can't be done by the other three.
I've simply learned, especially during the holidays, that a man's idea of shopping is not the same as a woman's.

I admit it. I shop like a guy. I plan what I need to get, look at some reviews to see which is the best product and pick it. Then I walk into the store in a manner in which General Clauswitz would be proud, cleverly avoiding people trying to spray me with cologne so I don't end up in sporting goods smelling like a brothel. I see what I need, I grab it,  I pay for it, usually cash, and I quickly leave the scene of the crime.

So when you just surprise your mate with "honey would you go to the store and get eggs and milk" and he's sent into battle with no time for preparation, bombarded by countless displays that make no ergonomic sense and people shoving food and products at him with "want to try the new Kiwi Persimmon Pop Tart, now with antioxidants", he just wants to escape and as quickly as possible. Which is why he sometimes comes home with a case of beer, a bottle of olives and a birch tree.

Hardware stores are different. Send him to one of those for just one small item and he'll come home with a vehicle packed tighter than the Clampett's truck on Beverly Hillbillies.
And since it's Christmas - Men and gift wrap.

Most men do not like to wrap gifts. I think it was Dave Barry that said the first gifts given were the gifts to Baby Jesus. "Hence the term "wise men". Men don't understand the point in putting carefully coordinated paper with oodles of expensive ribbon on a package just to rip it off. (lingerie though is a whole 'nother idea).

Give a women a 15 inch scrap of decorative paper and she can gift wrap a Sikorsky helicopter in less than 10 minutes. I don't know about the men in your family, but Dad and my brother would carefully lay out the present, cut a swath of paper the size of Nebraska, and when they were done, there would be a gap in the back where you could see what the gift was. I realized in my anthropology courses, that the Pharaohs had to be wrapped after death by women.  Someone once said that otherwise the back of the mummy would be held together by a big piece of Scotch Tape.

So my Dad and brother would often give me a present in a Safeway grocery sack, stapled carefully shut so I couldn't peek. With a bow on it that they'd happily press on it to dress it up for me. This lasted until Dad bought the mother of all Christmas wrapping paper, a roll that was at least 2 feet thick. He still has it. You knew immediately which gifts were from Dad and my brother. Forty years later, the roll's diameter is only about 5 inches less.

But if you want someone to have some FUN with a gift in my family it's from the men. From childhood on I've had boxes that rattled that shouldn't have, been too large for the contents, as well as those with mysterious air holes bored in the side. The gifts often turned out to be something extraordinarily fun but not what we thought it was.

Mom - What's with the big lawn and leaf bag in the living room?

Dad - It's a gift. It's Christmas, remember!  Can't you tell? See there's a BOW!  Mom: (pulling it open and speaking in that tone that only women receiving appliances as gifts can actually utter with a straight face) It's a shop vac . . . .

Dad - But it has a six horsepower motor! And it comes with several small attachments!

Mom (laughing) - Is one of them a divorce attorney?

Dad - Oh, look there underneath (looks like a jewelry box)

Mom - It's those diamond earrings I admired!! (squeal, kiss, kiss)
Mom - when is Santa Paws going to get here?

So this Christmas, though I won't giggle at the funny wrapped packages, and one that I bet squeaks, There will likely be a decoy rattle in one of the presents as well, my husband keeping up the family traditions.
I'll  simply be very thankful - that my Dad still has the roll of paper in the closet, that I have a husband kind enough to run to the store as I forget to get tortillas to make Migas for the day after Christmas breakfast and that I am loved by both two and four legged family members.   I am also quite thankful that we both are fortunate enough to be able to provide these small things - items that don't make the holiday, but certainly make the holiday special.

Merry Christmas Eve everyone.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Catching Up.

Great stuffie Mom but needs Ketchup!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunday Black and White

And Visions of Sugarplums Danced in Her Head..

This is a blog hop.  Thanks to our hosts Nola and Sugar.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Anticipation

Sometimes the waiting for something is the best part.

Christmas was like that as a child, the build up to the big day, shaking the presents under the tree, many which had been rigged with marbles or rocks inside to throw us off. Mom would make a couple of different types of cookies every few days, something new to taste and try with a plate set aside with a sample of everything to eat after the Christmas meal.

It's not just Christmas - there are many events in our lives we anxiously await. The birth of a baby, a holiday, a wedding, awaited with great longing, then suddenly over, vanished as if an illusion.
But Christmas Eve, as children, was the best.  We weren't allowed to open any gifts until Christmas morning.  We'd be up before the marked light of dawn, seeing the unwrapped gifts that Santa had left for us on the mantle around the fireplace, Mom and Dad trailing down the hall stifling yawns.

I spent Christmas Eve and day some years back with neighbors who let the kids open the gifts on Christmas Eve.  They didn't go to church so Christmas Day was simply watching sports while the kids played non stop video games.  I appreciated the invite but it felt no more like Christmas than the 4th of July.
No, waiting for the morning was anticipated glory.  I'd sleep in a little trundle bed next to my brothers, trying to stay awake to hear Santa. Mom would come in and lay the sunset colored afghan she had crocheted on top of me for warmth.  Outside, the big, fat 1960's Christmas lights would shine through a a window, curtains swept aside so we could see.   Overhead, an aircraft went on its way, solitary and swift like a shooting star.  We'd  speak in low tones, as if in church, as outside the door, our wiener dog Pepper's toenails click clacked on the hardwood floor as she patrolled her domain.

We would always fall asleep too soon, and wake before the sun rose with that flaming stare of quiet curiosity.
But Christmas isn't the only thing we look forward to.  It may be graduating from college.  It may be retirement.  I think of those people that have a countdown calendar to the day they can walk out the door.  Some come back to the workplace by to say hello, as if tethered to that place they spent so many, many years. Some we never see again, that place nothing more than a coat they have now flung off in warmer lands.
You think what you wait for will take forever to get here.  Then, when it is behind you, those days seemed as they raced past, brilliant and quick, nothing more than a flash of light in the distance, the nights as short as fragmented dreams. Too soon, what you waited for is memory, never to be reclaimed but in thought.

Dad does not wish to celebrate Christmas as anything more than the quiet communion in his home with the minister in celebration of Christ's birth. By his choice, there has not been a tree for a traditional Christmas celebration since my Mom died over 30 years ago. The aluminum tree and color wheel were packed away, never to be seen again. In the years before he remarried, there was neither light nor breath in that house for my Dad and he just wanted Christmas to be over with, once my brother and I were out of the house.
When Dad did remarry, to a widow who had herself lost a beloved spouse- they usually spent Christmas at his sister in law's condo in San Diego - enjoying the warmth.  Dad did not wish to spend Christmas day in a house in which my Mom's laughter had gone silent.   I understood, spending Christmas with friends, later volunteering for extra flight duty, so those with children could have the day off.  I understand it even more after losing my brother.
Today, I look up at the flash of a light, here in the fading light.  It is is an airplane, the tiny blink of its passing no different than the ones we viewed as children. I know  too well, the feeling of that crew, anxious to get to their destination, hoping they won't have weather or a mechanical issue that precludes their making it home in time for Christmas.  I know the sense of relief of the last flight of the night, launching into a sky, that like man, in one embrace can assume and appease, even as it can not forgive.

Many a night I flew on Christmas Eve, eliciting a chuckle from the crew chief when he glanced up at the Cockpit and saw my Santa hat as we prepared to depart.  We were only anxious as to the day and time until we were aloft, then like seaman have probably felt since time began, we settled down, finding the true Peace of God and Earth somewhere over 35,000 feet, finding the storms and turbulence not as some heavenly punishment for our selfishness in wanting to be home but rather a gentle rebuke to curb an impatient heart.
At altitude we'd talk of Christmas past and the hope for Christmas future, perhaps one with a family, our voices quiet, no louder than expelled breath, as the miles ticked under us.  Those in the back of the airplane were subdued, anxious to get home, looking down on cities that twinkled like Christmas lights, clouds bunched over some of them, like warm flannel blankets. Some nights the wind would be so strong aloft we felt like we'd stopped, going forward not with will or strategy but simply that groved habit to endure,

The recorded weather data that we'd confirm receipt of, instead of Delta and Echo and other letters of the phonetic alphabet were Dancer and Prancer and such.  On more than one Christmas Eve, my copilot would confirm Information "Santa" received and we'd made our final descent, not to a city where loved ones awaited, but simply a hotel room with all the ambiance of a dental lab, it's emptiness bringing that quick sharp sting that I could taste in my mouth as I opened the door.

There, I would sleep like a soldier in the field without shelter but for stiff, cotton sheets, waiting to wake up to the fight and the firing.
Tonight I look up and outside. There will be no Christmas light at home, too many commitments of work and family to get them up this year. But there will be a 1960's aluminum tree with an antique color wheel, found at a garage sale, repaired and set up by my husband.  There will be the click clack of Abby's toenails on the hardwood floors as she patrols her domain. In the kitchen there will be cookies and a pot of tea set to boil  And on the shelf there will be found a framed picture of a little auburn haired boy and girl sitting in their Dad's lap, Christmas decorations in the background, as he reads them a story.

It was a story of a baby, one not born of passion or pleasure but one born so that more than a Mother's suffering in his birth would be eased til the end of days.  It was a story of forgiveness we often can't receive from man, but that is His promise in eternity.
This Christmas season, I'm grateful for the anticipation of days.  Christmas will too soon be here and gone. Those that I spent the Christmas of my youth with are  gone, but for Dad, his own days drawing to a close. What is left now may just be a fleeting illusion, but illusions, like memory, are as true as flesh, bone and blood.

Rather than wish that Christmas was here, I'm going to wish it would wait, that I can savor this time of quiet peace, the smell of  warmth, the laughter of my husband, and the hearkening of a family of angels who calm this impatient heart with a touch as soft as a caress.

 - L.B. Johnson

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Dog Barks But the Wookie Roars

Not that I'm a big Star Wars fan or anything like Noodles Mom.

But this is one of my favorite pictures.  Actor Peter Mayhew who plays Chewbacca in ALL the Star Wars Movie had a photo taken with his copy of The Book of Barkley.  That just made my whole year!  Peter and his wife, who have a rescue dog named Scout, are active in animal rescue and their kindness is very much appreciated.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Bacon Blueberry Bomb

It actually was down to freezing after temperatures in the 50's foe much of December in Chicagoland.  A good night for a simple meal, served with salad, as I'm watching my calories and just had a little wedge with that. My skinny, metabolism of a hummingbird, husband had a WEDGE :-)

Bacon Blueberry Cornbread.

It's the bomb.  Moist and both sweet and savory with a smoky/crunchy crust. For the vegetarians in the bunch, make with some of the veggie "bacon" strips and just crumble on top like you would the regular bacon.  If you're using blueberries thawed from fresh, dry with a paper towel, or toss with a teaspoon of flour so the juice doesn't stain your cornbread blue.
Preheat oven to 425 F.

Cook 6-7 pieces of bacon in a cast iron skillet.  Remove bacon and pour off 90% of the drippings, leaving a two or three teaspoons in the pan, swish it around and up the sides.

In a large bowl mix

1 and 1/2 cups corn meal
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/2 cup white sugar
two pinches of nutmeg
In another bowl whisk

2 large eggs
1 and 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon lard - melted

Mix wet ingredients into dry in the big bowl until moistened and pour into bacon greased (or buttered) pan.  Top with a pint of fresh blueberries and chopped bacon.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.  If not done - reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 5-10 minutes. Edges should be nicely brown and a knife stuck in the center should come out clean when it is done.

And someone woke up from their nap in the family room when the pan went past.