Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sunday Eats - A Bit Early

Abby Lab here -The Bat Phone went off today, so Dad and I are supposed to post the post Mom had saved. She'll be back in a couple of days, we hope.  I didn't get any of the finished product as it had garlic in it (toxic for pups) but boy did I get some of that awesome Oberweis Cheese as there were some shreds left in the food processor after grating.

Homestyle Shells and Cheese.

Sauce:

In a large saucepan melt 1/4 cup butter (4 Tbsp.)
Whisking constantly, slowly whisk in 1/3 cup flour and continue to whisk on medium heat for 3 minutes.
Whisk in 3 cups Oberweis milk (we used low fat to be a bit healthier), raising heat to high for just a minute at the start, then lowering to medium to finish cooking, stirring several times a minute.

Stir in two packages of cheese (reserving about 1/3 to  1/2 cup to sprinkle on the top)

1 package of Oberweis mild cheddar
1 package of  Dutch Garden sharp cheddar (available from Overweis home delivery).

(about two cups of cheese if you want to use pre-shredded, but using block cheese brings the flavor up to a whole new level).
Add spices:

1/4 tsp dried sage
1/4 Penzey's roasted garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
A dash of Scoville Brothers Cowboy Crooner (from Indiana) or your favorite hot sauce
Several shakes of black pepper
A couple shakes of Braggs all purpose seasoning (no salt) or your favorite low sodium all purpose seasoning.

Continue heating  cheddar sauce on low stirring occasionally until cheese is melted while you cook pasta.

Cook shells six minutes then rinse in colander in cold water to stop the cooking (you want them a bit firm as they will finish cooking in the oven.)

Place cooked and drained  pasta in a 13 x 9 inch pan,  Pour cheese sauce over, stirm and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Cook in pre-heated 350 F. oven for 30-35 minutes until edges are just starting to brown.  Do not overcook.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Flowers - On Anniversaries

This post is for my husband on our looming "first date" anniversary - with some flower photos for our friends at 



with our host DORY at



Sometimes you think you can fly, only to be destined to drown.

And so we stay earthbound. "Should have". "Would have". Those are words in all of our hearts, at least once. We recall much of a life as each year passes, candles on another cake, warm breath against the flames. But what do you remember most, the best day of your life or your last regret?

The difference is profound.

I look at my Dad, and when my late brother's name is mentioned he gets this look of profound grief on his face, even as I've learned to get through the day as a stoic. He is a man who is not Time's trinket and for him, my brothers collapse and death on Good Friday was if it was yesterday.

But he'd not have given up the experience of adopting and raising him, both of us, for any happier ending.
I remember a few short years ago, when I thought my heart was in pieces, not likely to heal.  A fractured goodbye, and the realization that the person I had cared for, who had asked to meet my family and had done so, was a breathing ghost. I was left with just a rose, drying between two pages, the blood from an internal thorn tearing something loose inside, the print of nose against the glass of a skyscraper where I leaned into it so the tears couldn't be seen. Afterwards, I wondered if life was even worth living, there in that brief darkness before there is light.

But I didn't go down that path, the thought only one of brief self pity, not intended to be action. I had a really good cry or two and a giant plate of Nachos and a beer or three with a six foot pony-tailed blond, who has always been my rock among best friends. Then I met my gal friend M.C. and as we drove around a haunted landscape, I realized that although I hurt, I FELT, and that was a good thing.

Then, after a long night's sleep, I picked up the phone and called a guy friend, someone I had chatted on line with for years, sometimes spending hours sharing geeky puns and jokes. I knew he would understand.My boyfriend and I broke up", was all I said, and he listened, as he always did while I talked it out, and tried to put it behind me.

It wasn't the first time my heart had broke, and wouldn't be the last, but the feeling peeled something from me, like skin from an onion, leaving nerves exposed to a cold that bit with weasel teeth. It brought back a memory of that first loss of someone I loved and  a memory of how I handled it. For that first time my heart broke, I did what a lot of people do. I pushed everyone away, pushing my boundaries, sometimes hanging up high in the air, the g-forces on my body a distraction from the pain, the air parting like the Red Sea, my only need to move on at maximum risk to my body, and minimum risk to my soul.

I wanted nothing from the world but the ability to push through it without being touched.  I talked little to people but much to the sky, whispering to it my regrets as I rolled through 40 degrees of bank, taking counsel with that great blue solitude.
You think that cheating death like that would make me feel alive but for a time, it was a battle without passion, grey and colorless, with neither the urge to win, or the fear to lose, played out before an arena with no audience.  I came within a few knots of a final pronouncement more than once, and found that I had nothing left to say.

The only sound was the wings cleaving the air, a sound that is like all other sounds of profound mystery, the lap of a wave upon a shore, the echo of taps, the whispers of a voice that speaks to you in dreams from an eternity away, heard but not comprehensible.

I lost out on a lot of life during those brief years.
This time, I was a bit older, and a little scar tissue and I weren't strangers, having been through much worse than breaking up a budding relationship. This time I was going to open myself up to friends and get out and enjoy my life with the four legged friend who had taught me that lesson. With Barkley in tow, we got out and we talked and we learned to laugh again, and in fairly short order. There was whiskey and bacon and late nights with two good friends laughing as we compared the merits of Barry White versus William Shatner and Greensleeves or Zamfir and his Pan Flute as music to get lucky by. On one of the rare days I let that last heartache get the better of me, one of those friends said "if you had to do it all again, knowing it would teach you how to feel again, would you"?  I looked her and said "hell yes."

I didn't see my friend  that I called that night for a few months, our talks continuing with the usual matters between people that share hobbies and books, even if they don't share the same generation. Then one night he mentioned a date with a ballerina, and I pictured them out, young, beautiful, laughing and felt something twist in my chest that had not been there for a while. But I didn't say anything, not then, not when Barkley and I would meet him for a coffee.
Then one day he called me after landing from a  long business trip overseas and asked me to an event we both loved, not a date, just a typical outing with friends someplace upstate.  I said yes and plans were made. After hanging out all  that day, he asked if I wanted to get a bite to eat once we'd had a chance to get cleaned up (playing with steam engines all days can get a little dirty) and we located a couple quick burger places near our respective hotels.  He showed up at my door dressed in dress pants and a crisp shirt, and the burger joint I was expecting as planned, turned into a intimate, elegant bistro, a glass of wine, and  a conversation about things much deeper than the night, things only hinted at, never said.
Halfway through the meal I thought  to myself "holy cow, this is a date".

That was five years ago, on a warm, clear day.  That date is now my husband.

Because he asked.
How often do we stay silent, when we are searching, when we need help, when we are hurt?  How often do we shut ourselves away when we want a cool touch upon the brow or a hand that helps us up a steep slope. There is so much that can keep us from the truth of things, holding us in that toil of a heart's hesitation.

Sometimes it's pride, sometimes it's hurt. Sometimes it's history.  Often it's the fear of being rejected The safety stays on, the mouth stays closed and while we think we are protecting ourselves, we're merely closing a door on life, one that can be as fixed as one of a prison.  In doing so sometimes we lose a friend, we lose an opportunity or we lose on love- that improbable, inexplicable and sometimes bewildering thing that binds us together despite our blood, or through it.
A fellow I knew professionally, lamented to me in a moment of vulnerability after a very late night on the job that his old high school crush was marrying someone else.  I said "did you ever ask her out" and he said "no. . . I knew she was say no, she was beautiful and popular and I'm. . . . ", accepting the words as he uttered them with an almost eager fatalism. That which makes something its truth also makes its meaning.  I should have offered comfort, but I remained silent, not knowing what to say.

So he and I just continued to work, in silence, our untrammeled feet taking us to a place rendered quiet not by solitude, but by loss. We worked on, blind and deaf to any emotion but the gathering and I realized I should have said something, if only, "next time. . . ask" said with a smile, and a hug from a friend, not a colleague.
On a day when another birthday shortly looms,  I look at what is around me, and how I almost lost it, lost myself, simply by never taking the chance, listening to my fears, and not to my heart.  For the past does have a way of coming back to us.  You can fear in in silence, treating it as if you would an unwanted dream or you can learn from it, remembering it like a fine book, full of wonders and maybe occasional warfare, but as full of life as  the landscape around you.

For what I've learned in 57 years on this planet, is the earth is simply a standing place and how you look at what is around you is your loss or your gain.
The sky and water weld together without joint, the sun descending down, touching the lake with a soundless hiss.  Soon, the moon would spread over this place with the thick sheen of silver. This is just one day in time, one day to be cataloged in memory.  The living trees, the flowers planted by another's hands, so still they appear to have been formed in stone, even to the smallest bud, the feather stroke of a tiny leaf.

I touch the porch railing of this old house, tracing it the way fingers trace a human backbone, there under the skin, in silent perusal of that which becomes wonder. Another year older, another day wiser.  I could worry about, or as I did on that birthday not that long ago where I could give my best friend and Partner a T-Shirt that says "I Can't Drive 55" and just laugh, a sound that  will bend the trees and shake the fixed stars in the sky.  I turn towards the door, where there is a light on, awaiting.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Life's Little Surprises

When I travel for work I try and come home with a little surprise for my husband.  He does the same for me though it's usually the tackiest thing he can find, a little joke between us.  In some of the foreign countries he goes to, they have been comical. So I'll often have a little gift in my briefcase as well as the obligatory snacks as I have low blood sugar (since menopause) and always carry some sort of nut or jerky treat to get a bit of protein if my sugar drops.

And maybe a surprise for Miss Abby.
She just LOVES stuffies - her last Pooh lost his nose from a tooth snagging on it, but otherwise lasted pretty long.  She doesn't play with sticks or bones or balls, JUST The stuffies, some round, some flatter. She'll gently squeak them as she carries them around the house all day.

She'll usually pile some of them up on one of her beds to sleep with her. Usually her favorites - Angry bird, Mr. Gator and the little red dog that her fella Frankie (and his wonderful family) sent her.

It was the middle of the night and I awoke to her toenails on the hardwood.  I then hear a snuffing sound, but I figured she was just grabbing another boy from the big box they go into when I vacuum, which I'd done earlier. But it sounded like it was the dining room where my briefcase was, not the living room where the box is.  Oh well, she's just snooting around, I thought as I went back to sleep.
In the morning there was a surprise on her bed.  She'd snagged the puffy bag of beef jerky out of my briefcase.  She didn't try and gnaw it open, thinking perhaps it was just a really tasty smelling stuffed toy.
I was just keeping your bed warm until you came back.  
Thanks for the new toy Mom.  It didn't squeak at all but it smells like cow!

I thought, as I put water on to boil for tea, there is the occasional week where my time at home may sometimes be short, but it is never boring.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Change of Scenery

Like the Chameleon the lab changes his color to blend into the surroundings for safety.

I'm NOT on the couch Mom, I'm just practicing my chameleon thing because you're busy

Mom was interviewed by the "Many Books" website (as featured in The Guardian, USA Today and Huffington Post) and asked that I tell her friends.  There is info on why she writes, her next book and you'll find out just WHY she was never asked to the block party after the "shared mailbox" incident.

She's busy working so stop in and read and say hello.  All sales this month to Atlanta Lab Rescue, Lab Rescue LRCP (Maryland) Kevlar for Canines and Search Dog Foundation.

Link is below:



Monday, July 25, 2016

Don't Trust Atoms - They Make Up Everything

 Abby the Lab here.  Look what Mom got for me.  A New Petriodic table!  And it's full of squeakers!

Look what it spells out

BaCoN
NaPS
SnAcK
BONe
 "It's flat it 's not big and fluffy-  are you sure I'll like it Dad?"
"Come on Abby - Science is our FRIEND".

My name is no longer Abby. 
 Please refer to me as Xenon - Warrior Princess.



Saturday, July 23, 2016

Dear Pokemon Players

A letter from Abby the Lab's Mom:

An apartment manager started this with HIS note to the Pokemon players, but I'm going to add a few things as I totally agree. 

Dear Pokemon Players 

Please get out of my yard. This is private property and not your playground. This Pokemon thing is the silliest thing I have ever seen grown people doing and I have lived through:

Hammer Pants
Crystal Pepsi
Pet Rocks 
The Macerena
10 Seasons of CSI Miami 
Mood Rings
Sea Monkeys
Mullets
and the Boot Scootin Boogie

Go put your phone down, there's an Irish bar on the corner a block away, go have a beer and interact with an actual human being. Then go adopt a REAL animal to train and play with if you are so inclined.

And please shut the gate on your way out.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Canine Snack Attack!

My husband was on the road all week, so with taking care of Abby by myself (she gets several walks a day), the yard and trash and such, with work and the commute into the city, it was a bit hectic around here.  I did get the bedroom tidied up from the first laundry explosion before he arrived home, setting down a fresh set of earplugs on the nightstand. It's from all the years in hotels as a pilot - I can't sleep without earplugs even if our neighborhood is quiet as a mouse.

 BEEP!  The clothes drier is done!

When I came back, one of them was missing

Uh, huh, I think I found it.
 What?

Yup, looks like someone snagged it and spit it out
It wasn't a Cheeto!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

When you Have to Leave the Dog at Home - Adventures in Rental Cars

 Economy Car - a small pellet shaped object that can carry you to the scene of the accident.

I've had some small "sub compact" cars in my day but this one was about the smallest I've had yet.  I fortunately asked for the bright red one, so at least I'd be visible even if I was no bigger than the red dot on a 7-Up can.  I couldn't help but utter "it's so small" to which the young man stated "it has NINE air bags".  I looked at him and said "honey, you could put the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in this vehicle with me and I still wouldn't feel safe".  But I did thank him for getting the red one.

It looked brand new and was sparkling clean.  Legroom was more than required for a hamster; the cockpit ergonomics weren't bad and the a.c. had the car cooled before I even left the parking garage.  But then I went to accelerate. The only way I can describe the sound is this:  picture the Cast of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" suddenly miniaturized by some magic shrink ray until they were all six inches tall.  Now picture Leatherface firing up his little chainsaw.  That's the sound the engine made.
It's a Toyota. something. Yanni? Yetti?  Something like that and it was my wheels on my last trip for Squirrel Headquarters..  I had arrived at my hotel. I'm amazed, not only that a human being can cover hundreds of miles in a couple of hours but that I did some of that in a car that was about the size of a 9 mm cartridge.  Then I got a start the next morning. I went out to the hotel parking lot and my car was GONE!  I was in a panic as auto thefts in the area were high, then I noticed that the Mini Cooper parked next to it was blocking my view.

I have rented a LOT Of vehicles over the years. Over the last ten years I had to rent when I went to see Dad as his driving skills weren't good enough where I felt he was safe on the the freeway which is occupied by "Crazy Oregon Drivers" until you cross the Oregon state line wherein it's occupied by "Crazy Washington Drivers".  Plus he's a far distance from the international airport. Up until a couple of years ago when the keys were taken away, he did really good around town and always offered to come get me.
But I did not want him trying to merge with giant semi's and teenagers. There wasn't any other option. All of his friends were gone and none of the other family lived close enough to fetch me. The rental is an expense, but a necessary one, no matter how often I go there. But I went for a big vehicle, as there is nothing more unsettling then looking up at the undercarriage of a log truck, some of the logs secured by what looks like dental floss, on a rain-slicked highway.

The rental place I go to out West always has some chipper person who asks "what brings you here?"  I know they're just trying to be friendly, most people getting to them worn out after flying long distances. That would render anyone cranky, especially a particular redhead, whose suitcase went MIA, who now envisions buying something to wear at the only store by Dad's, a Big Box Mart with a ladies department full of outfits the size of tank parachutes.
So on that particular trip, I wasn't in a particularly good mood, and besides, they just saw me two weeks ago, and weeks before that, one of dozens of trips. They know me by name, they know where my Dad lives and that I'm here to visit him as he's 90 something and in poor health (and refuses to live with family).  They also know that I don't need a map to the house or the cemetery.  And still they ask what brings me here. Same clerk, every single time.

The next time they asked, even though I was just there a couple weeks ago,  I gave them a little smile which can be either friendly or scary depending on if you're the good guy or the bad guy and responded with-

"Contract hitI'll be needing something with a large trunk."

The agent, as usual, didn't miss a beat, saying "that's nice, you want to upgrade to a full size then?"
I've had some interesting car experiences over the years, from the time I got a free upgrade to a full-size pickup truck to an assortment of cars the size of gym lockers that accelerated at the speed of rust. There was one "loaner" car that had likely traveled with Lewis and Clark and was given to my copilot and I to drive to our lodging. The next morning, there was a hard frost. There was also no ice scraper. Fortunately, that side trim that was flapping in the breeze was easy to remove and made a dandy scraper (honestly, it just fell off!). And we won't mention certain third world places where you want to check the car's interior for things that sting, spit or bite (Ack! Windshield Viper!)

There's no telling what city will give you what car.  I've rented a car from airports that you that were so new and shiny you could practically eat off the tarmac and got an asthmatic clunker that smelled like an ashtray and I've been into some fairly outdated  terminals where I have expected to get run over by goats as I went to baggage claim and get a bright shiny full-size sedan, actually made in America.
This last squirrel trip, I fared a little better, the car at least being brand new and spotlessly clean. But I'd hoped for an upgrade. Sometimes the compact is actually a normal sized car, depending on what the rental car company has on hand by the time I roll in.

But not on my return to this city where I am convinced the car rental agencies there have a special little "LB" wing of the garage where they keep the gutless wonders. I am also certain they keep them parked nose down on a ramp so that my special LB edition rental car can simply roll down to the check out area and appear to have an engine in it, until it is past those spikes in the pavement that prevent me from bringing it back.
I remember the first time I rented on other than my own dime, and as directed, got the "economy" car. It was clean, bright, all four doors open as if the clowns had to get out in a hurry. I gulped and asked the rental agent "what kind of car IS that?". I swear the agent said it was a "Hyundai Accident". Perhaps that was "Accent". On second thought, I think the first was correct. But Dad's second car (his first being a 1984 Chevy Truck) was a larger Hyundai and he loved it for zipping around town on errands. So with a blue sky, a tailwind and a gathering where all I had to do all week is stand up in front of people and sound intelligent, I was determined to enjoy the drive.

As I accelerated onto the ramp for the freeway, trying to edge in front of this semi that looked JUST like the one in Dual. I remembered all the talk about how the human body can actually FEEL acceleration. I've pulled some G's in a swept wing jet.  I know what it's like. And this car, well this car could do that. Right? As I floored it, watching the semi truck come up rapidly on my car, the entire body of which would fit UNDER his bumper, I realized that I could actually feel a physical force, that of my body aging as the car slooooowly went from 35 to 60.

After watching everyone blow past me with the look, I wanted to get a sign for the back window that said I own a 4 wheel drive TRUCK, THIS is a rental. I got it up to 72 on a long stretch though. But at that point, the transmission started making the sound like someone having a root canal and the whole frame started shaking like one of those paint mixers at Home Depot.
But I made it, only checking once to see if the floorboards rolled up so I could put my feet down, yell Yabba Dabba Doo! and pass someone.  Just like today, another trip, another spot of safety and rest along this life's journey.

On the blog I talk of perspective. Being thankful for all we have. And I am. I arrived here in one piece. I have gainful employment that challenges me and sends me out in the world to perhaps educate others, to meet with like minds. It's getting to meet friends in the cities I travel to, putting faces to the names of folks I've talked to for years, fellow women bloggers and their families. It's coming home to a husband and a furry black Lab rescue who is forever grateful for a permanent home.

It's freedom, of the road, of the mind, of the spirit. It's a 100 degrees and I am looking up at the bumper of a Volkswagen Beetle. But there is also Keebler fudge striped cookies melting on the seat next to me and a rough-hewn landscape out my window, the blur of trees as old as God, where sometimes above, a bird sings a plaintive and tremulous song that rises above the sound of the traffic. And if the brakes give out, I can simply turn on the air conditioner and coast to a stop.

Life is good. Wherever your road leads you.
-LBJ

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wordless Wednesday

No words but someone's trying to make the angry bird noises.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

For Military Pug Wife - Small Winged Memories

I'd already posted today, but then I read the post from our friend

who normally has us snorting wine and tea out our nose but tonight had me in tears with her heartfelt post. I immediately thought of this, but it's WAY to long to leave as a comment, so I'm just putting up here, hoping it will help dry those tears.

CHAPTER 14 - Scraps of Time (From The Book of Barkley, Outskirts Press 2014)

Most of my things were packed up and in the moving truck.  A few things were going into the car to make the drive to the new home in another state, things I would not want to get lost.  In addition to Mom’s cookbooks, there are a few pictures for the mantle, some fragile dishware and some photo albums, one of which is the album I stumbled across the other day.  As Barkley snoozed, uneasily, not understanding what is happening, I thumbed through it.  Barkley was not the only one uneasy.  Was I up to the task of caring for Dad in his impending grief and declining health, if that was what he wishes?  As a child, I might have prayed about it, but as I went into adulthood, I seemed to have fallen away from that, recognizing God, just not particularly familiar with him anymore, like a childhood friend one remembers fondly, but doesn’t look up when in town.

I opened up the book. There was a lifetime in those photos, all of the people in them, except my dad, long gone.  The photos lay there on my table now, expended laughter and human touch--spent shades of eternal desires within mortal hearts, captured in a moment of time.  How many times have I been in his house and not closely looked at them?

We miss so much as we rush through life, here or there. We race as if headed south before that first icy blast of winter, race with silent feathering of rigid wing, so driven in that instinctual quest for something, that we miss the perfect sanctuary standing in stark relief against the failing sky. We fly to work, to home, to heartache, with hurried pace, and as if we functioned in a steadfast conviction that time were an illusion.

In our flight, we often soar blindly, missing cues, missing direction.

There is another photo, but one I only carry in my head.  It is of a ruined house that stood near a tiny little farmhouse in the Southern plains, where I lived when I was a young bride, barely out of my teens. The newer home was likely built right next to it; the owners either too broke or weary to tear the original down. You see homes like that, rising gaunt against overgrown thickets, abandoned, left to sky and soil.
I noticed it because of the trees planted between my house and its remains, the branches now growing through openings in the roof of the original homestead, time and decay dissolving its structure. I softly approached it one day. I was alone, placing my steps carefully among the footprints of invisible deer, which left their mark on beds of slain flowers. As I entered what was once the main living area, I was careful not to fall through rotten floors, just to take a look at something I'd lived near and never noticed.

From the trees, I noticed the fledgling leaves lying as hands against the roof of the house, the branches jutting into splintered form, rain coming inside, streaming flatly upon the driving air, moving in. Squatter’s rights. Ruin, mold, rot was evident in everything, yet something caught my eye, a glint. It was a doorknob made of glass, sparkling even under the layer of dirt that had settled on everything. Probably a wedding gift for a bride from back East, who had come to this house in the 1800s when it was built.

I took it, and cleaned it off and set it where it could be admired. How long did it lie there, disregarded upon its possession?  A hundred years? I'll never know. It is simply one of those little things, important things, owned but not cherished, allowed to gather dust and never truly seen.
It was on my last visit to Dad's to inform him of the move and the house I intended to purchase for us, when I thought of this again. I was out behind his house, clearing out some downed limbs. My eyes were constantly on the move, watching for places I may stumble and fall. How well though, do I see the world, in what is so familiar to me? A thunderstorm stirred overhead, one rather late for this time of year, when snow was spotting the ground. The air smelled of a burnt match, my form creating unpalatable shadows against a stand of trees.  Up ahead there was a flash of light, a rumble of thunder, the sound not racing away in a flash of its own, but ringing in my ears, as if the sound had congealed in the air, waiting to be found.

I'd best hurry to the house, the storm was getting close. As I ran, I saw it, behind the old apple tree. It was a crumbling crudely made grave marker, tiny, as if for a small thing, a piece of wood washed clean of words but not thoughts. A memory came to me in a flash of light. It was of a small bird I had found fallen from a nest, injured. I had attempted to save it, the wind whipping its small chirp up and away like a tiny, fragile scrap of cloth against the wind, where only the sky and a small child could view it. My Mom knew well it was futile, but let me try, feeding it with a dropper and keeping it warm. It was to no avail, and Mom tenderly wrapped up its taut, silent form and laid it in the ground. She gently laid it away, back behind the house, where we had a small funeral service. I cried as only the innocent can.
How had I forgotten, I thought? I stood there looking, as several raindrops spattered against my face, holding me as sheets of lightning lit up the sky, the clouds swollen as if with child, waiting to release life. In my mind, I was still back there at that small moment of my childhood, memories released. In my mind I was not hurrying as an adult, I was running as a child, with the hurried stroke of a piston engine--wet, skinny, tireless, waiting only to get into the house and see Mom for a hug and warm comfort.

But decades later, I am in my own home, one I have just made the decision to leave, a decision not easily made and one which brings with it, already, the regret of losing something.  I looked around; really looked around.  It was just four walls.  But that is not a home, it is what is inside that matters, photos of my life, names within a Bible I need to open again, Grandma’s cookbooks and too many dog toys covering the floor, tripping hazards strewn about with love.

We all have our markers of remembrance; we have our memories.  I've another picture to add to that family album, one of my grandfather's grave in the mountains of Montana, where Dad made a special trip recently.  It was not to a place he had ever been in my growing up, the power that created that place from which he could not wait to escape, had in turn, taken him safely away from it, to a place where he could be happy without forgiving it.  It was time to go back.
On the stone was my grandfather's name, the dates of his birth and early death, and the etched images of saddled horses, standing as if waiting for someone to mount up and ride away. With Dad's age and health, the trip was not an easy one to visit that grave and make, as he said, his peace with his Father of earth and of Heaven.

That picture joins the many others on my mantle, being packed up, all weaving together to form a history, a family. My family, the one that needs me now. It is all there in those small squares of paper, small signs of love, given and maintained. It is felt in the small strokes from a hand on a tired brow, and heard in the small strokes of fingers upon slain wood, strumming out inarticulate measures, praying they are heard.

It is a tree that grows close to home, its branches breathing against the house upon the infinite air, driving in an open window the forlorn scent of its need. It is the glow of a fire, the subtle wag of a tail. It is things that are felt, not seen, small things that bring joy, when we learn to let go of the past, of love that has always been around you and will forever remain, simply waiting for the light that would make you see.

Barkley nudges my hand, pointing me toward the door.

L.B. Johnson

Monday, July 18, 2016

Dog Days of Summers - Gals Day Out

My husband is on the road again this week and after teleworking I had some time to myself as I started work at a VERY early hour since husband was launching on an O-Dawn Hundred flight.

What kind of adventure could Abby and I  get into?

It's going to be hard to top "telework lunch" (SO much better than those sandwiches from the machines at work that are carbon dated for freshness)

BLT with candied bacon and Basil Aoili  and a cup of homemade soup.

I think I will start by calling a couple of gal friends. We could start with a bike ride around the Village.
I think I'll pass - I have discovered there is a REASON the first aid kids are sold next to the bikes and will wait until we can go in a park with paths, and not in rush hour traffic
I could go to the store and get a Ball for Abby.

I remember when I did that for Barkley (who was on his lead in the yard in my little crash pad condo that wasn't fenced).
It was little surprise from Big Box Mart.  He went into modified point with it. I knew it wouldn't last long, but for a $2, my friend Dorothy and I  just considered it "cover charge" as we watched.

He tried to first hump it (get your blurry dog photos here!) but as it rolled that didn't work out so well, think less love scene in Romeo and Juliet and more bears mating on roller skates.

Then he tried to bite it. That also wasn't working so well, the jaws, just NOT big enough.
My friend and I watched from the tailgate of my truck safety of the jeep, with a glass of mead.

It was only a matter of time.

BOOM!!! 
Is there another one?
I think I'll pass on the ball, Abby tends to like stuffie toys, but it would be a good night to hang with some female friends.

I had to tell them I actually saw the Batmobile on Interstate 70!

Me:.  "I waved, he waved.  But he didn't signal when he was changing lanes."(Seriously, I about ZAP!POW! BAM!'d his back bumper when he suddenly cut in front of me.)

Friend #1."The Bat Signal is only for use in emergencies."

Friens #2: "People signal Batman; Batman doesn't signal people."

Then we'll play with Abby. She gets very excited when people come over and does this "crocodile death roll" on the couch while making little noises like a demented air compressor.  Then she moves in with those big brown eyes for those pats and loves.
pet me pet me pet me pet me

Then some dinner - I think we should just have dessert with dinner.  With wine as we have a designated driver.  

Pavlova - meringue shell full of fresh whipping cream and topped with fresh fruit.

Then back home to sit out on the porch with some wine while Abby soaks up all the pats and loves.

Sounds like a plan!  Abby might not have a ball - but as they say in the United States "We will have a ball!"