Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Story From The Book of Barkley - TSA Dog

CHAPTER 35 – TSA Dog

Lying on the white carpeting was a small square packet, full of tiny holes, as Mom once again, looked through the phone book for a carpet cleaning service.

I'm not sure why the builder put in such light colored carpeting; perhaps they had no kids or pets, taking off their shoes before entering their Zen-like evening of peace and uninterrupted sleep.

They definitely didn't come home to trip over a half dozen dog toys, hoping that someone didn't leave a special gift in the corner, even with a friend or dog walker that comes over to let him out most days.

The day began with a squeaky toy that I named Robbie Roadkill, a flat little toy creature made out of stitched-together flat squares of cloth containing tiny squeakers, on which was only attached a plush little head and little legs. It was his new favorite thing, not just one squeaker to kill, but a dozen. It was also my new "do we have any single malt scotch left?” toy.
I had previously packed it in a suitcase while on a visit to friends out of town, so he'd have a toy and I forgot about it on my return.  He was fascinated by the suitcase when he got his first glimpse inside one as a pup, when big enough to get up on the bed, but in the last few years, he'd shown no interest in it or its contents, as he was familiar with it.

After this last trip, Barkley started a vigil by the suitcase; I had no idea why, until now.

I'd had a very early wake up so when I got home from work, a nap was in order as soon as he had been fed and let out. I got out of my shoes and pants and shirt, put on some pajamas and lay down on the twin bed in the office, where a bit of sun had nicely warmed it.

It felt so good to be home.  The trip to visit them was great, but I got called out of town immediately thereafter, a girlfriend staying with Barkley, the suitcase still with me.

This little bed, this little room, felt like shelter to me, warm, safe, nothing like being on the road for days on end. Nights in an unfamiliar hotel in another time zone, the air weighted with strange smells and the noise of the airport next door banging on your window like an unwanted peddler, and even if you stayed there willingly, you couldn't wait to get away. Where is the shelter in that, if only in the emptiness that reminds the heart of what it's capable of?

I told myself I could just go to sleep here and not wake up until morning.

Then I heard something.
“Squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak (ad nauseam).” Barkley had snooted open the canvas top of the suitcase in the master bedroom and grabbed Robbie Roadkill.   I marched into the living room, took it away and tried to go back to my nap before he completely shreds it.  I lay down.  Ah. Silence. OK, now it's much too silent.

I walked back out into the living room. No Barkley.  I looked down the hall, past the bathroom, into the master bedroom.

There in the darkened hall was this black apparition surrounded by a little cloud of something, looking like Pigpen in the Peanuts cartoon.  He had something in his mouth and as he chomped on it, puffs of some type of a powder substance came out of it in little puffs, which then somehow combined molecularly with dog drool to make small gobs of dark sticky goop on the white carpeting. All over the carpeting.

“What in the world . .?”

Chomp Chomp, Drool Chomp.
He'd got a package of powdered Chocolate Flavored Protein Drink out of my suitcase, figuring that after the squeaky toy was in there, the suitcase had transformed itself into some new and magical buffet. He did like to take things from other people's suitcases for inspection, to the point where my friends Dorothy and MC referred to him as TSA Dog.  “I’m sorry, Miss, but I will have to confiscate that pair of panties, they are more than three ounces.”

But how did he get this one?  The packet was inside a pocket inside the closed but not zippered suitcase. Don't ask me how he extricated that and Dang it, that’s my last pack!

Chomp Chomp Drool

“Drop it. Drop it! outoutoutoutoutoutoutotuout!”

The package was full of holes, but it still contained some of its contents, most of the rest still unconsumed, by the looks of what was on the floor, smeared all around with dog spit and paws. I am thankful he hadn't tried to eat it, just play with it.
TSA Dog Gets a Pat Down

Then he started licking his paws.  He got a taste of it now, and there was no going back.

Lick Lick Lick “No NO! Chocolate bad!”

I ran water in the big "Garden” tub, the only way I could think to get his paws clean quickly and at once, as he was determined to lick it all off. He does not like baths, but he needed to get in.

Note to self, putting peanut butter on one's fingers to lure the dog into a tub full of water with you is not a good idea, unless you're wearing Kevlar long johns, which Victoria’s Secret does not stock.

LICK LICK “No, don't push!!! SPLASH!

BARK BARK BARK BARK

There would be no nap. There was now a stain that looked vaguely like Gorbachev’s (or Fred Mertz, I get them confused) birthmark in the hall ready for paper towels and cleaner. I now had a damp dog lying on the bed in the sun in the office, which only moments ago, had an indentation of my tired head on the bedspread.  I smelled like wet dog, peanut butter, and dog spit.

And I had this sudden hankering for chocolate.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Ruffing It - An Abby Lab Rescue Memory


For me?

Abby the Lab here.

In my previous life I didn't get to get up on the furniture and was outside in the cold a lot but after 5 months in a shelter, my new Mom let me up on the couch.  I kept getting down as I didn't think I was supposed to be up there, but she said it was OK and gave me pats.  It's so soft but I only sneak up there when Mom and Dad aren't on it.

I have my own little dog bed where Mom used to stay when she was working.  It's sure more comfy than the hard floor of  a kennel, but it was cheap and it's not real poofy - nothing like "THE BED", but Mom keeps the bedroom door closed when she is at work as she has a fancy schmancy bedspread on there that is hard to clean.

Then one day, a big box came to Mom's work crash pad.  Mom said it was from Orvis as they had a sale-- a BIG sale and she got something for almost half price. Barkley had an Orvis bed and just loved it and it lasted forever, but she wanted me to have one of my own.  Want to check out their great dog beds? Click on the well-known name. . .


It's the world's biggest softest dog bed!  It's so fluffy, with really tight stitching and a durable, ultra-soft cover.  When she took it out of the wrapping-- it expanded like a life raft.
Mom knows about that.  Once she was flying an airplane (a little business jet) to India to be delivered from the aeroplane factory.   Three of the VERY young Indian pilots were on board.  They didn't have the experience yet to make that sort of trip so the owners arranged for the seller to deliver it with contract pilots (which was Mom and another pilot) and bring them home from plane school. Regulations required that for a flight across the ocean the plane had to have a rented life raft to be carried in the cabin to be pitched out of the plane and inflated if Mom had to pull a "Sully".

The young Indian pilot  were QUITE excited about the flight and about just learning to fly their first jet so Mom and her copilot told them to just read and relax in the back and  "don't touch anything".

Halfway across the Atlantic there's this big  WHOOOSH sound from the cabin and one of them ran forward  with -

"Captain L! Captain L!  Raft Veery BIG!, Raft, Veery BIG.!"

Yup - they'd accidentally inflated the life raft and Mom had to kill it with a cheese knife from the galley so they could exit the airplane when they all landed to fuel.
MMMM Cheese.

So, it was sort of like that.  Bed very big!  Bed very big! Look - my tail has gone hypersonic!

My Ovris bed is SOOOO COMFY!

I can't believe it's still all mine all the time and I don't have to sleep on the Pita Bed from Walmart anymore.  I love my furever home.
I love my Mom.
Abby Lab

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday Eats - Birthday Cake!

Abby's Dad

My husband's birthday  was this weekend and I asked him what kind of cake he wanted. Out of all the varied cake's I've come up with in the 8 years we've been either best friends or married, this was his pick. It's the easiest of all my cake recipes, using a mix, so I didn't argue.

Creamsickle Cake


Put 3 eggs out to bring them up to room temperature.

Stick a medium sized bowl in the fridge to get it cold (I'll explain later).

1 lemon cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Delights Moist Lemon).

Make as directed, using the room temperature eggs as per the box, but add 1 teaspoon of McCormick or Watkins Orange extract and 1Tablespoon of finely grated orange zest (the very outer orange layer of a orange, which you will wash thoroughly first before grating).

Bake in greased 13 x 9 pan as directed. While it bakes, clean the beaters and put in the bowl in the fridge (unless you are going to use a tub of Cool Whip instead of whipped cream.)

When the cake is out of the oven, poke holes through about half the depth of the cake every 2 or so inches apart with the back end of a wooden spoon.

In a small bowl mix, 1 cup boiling water with 1 small box orange Jello (NOT sugar free) and carefully pour over the cake, making sure it gets into the holes and doesn't just run down the sides.

Let cake cool 30-40 minutes.
When the cake is about cool, mix 1 small box French Vanilla instant  Jello pudding with 1 cup of milk (I used 2%) with a whisk. Add 1 teaspoon of orange extract. Let sit to thicken while you make the whipped cream.

Yes, you can use a tub of Cool Whip instead and add the vanilla pudding to it. (Just ignore that little twitch of mine).

Whipped cream - 12 ounces (a cup and a half) of heavy whipping cream.  Beat for about 5 minutes with the chilled, very clean and very cold beaters and bowl until it starts to thicken. Add in 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and whip a bit more, until it's the right consistency. It should take about 5-6 minutes  total with a chilled bowl and beaters. Don't over beat or you will have butter.

Carefully fold pudding mix into whipped cream and frost cooled cake. Store in refrigerator. 

Creamsickle is a trademark of the Popsickle company.  If you've never eaten one, you have missed out! I grew up on their products and love them to this day.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

On Preparation - Emergency Supplies for Pets


Having good provisions, be it for a disaster or a holiday party is always essential. (old picture but the Barkley photobomb made me smile). We think about the basics, nutrition, and water but we don't always think about the other things that make life good, coffee, perhaps a small tin or two of savory or sweet snacks. .  and how about PET FOOD.  Most of us might keep an extra bag or a few extra cans of cat food on hand. But that's not enough for more than short term for a pet.  If there is a full-blown disaster that may be more than a day or two, you will need much more.

My dog is part of the family, and during a disaster, is also an early warning system to anyone wishes to break into my home (Abby is a gentle dog but she has a ferocious growl and bark if she hears footsteps on the porch.)  I want to make sure she is safe in the event of a man-made or natural disaster.

If you have to evacuate.  Keep phone numbers for pet friendly hotels, nearby animal hospitals/shelters as well as Red Cross or any other relief agencies in the area you have as your evacuation point if your disaster is limited to the small area in which you live.  I mention Red Cross as they sometimes have supplied portable animal shelters during a crises in certain locations within the US.

If you have more than one pet and one family member, put one person in charge of a specific pet so they are tasked with making sure they know the pet's location at all times.

Make sure you have pet carriers for pets that won't ride freely in a vehicle and practice getting them into it for a few short practice drives.

Include in your handbag or backpack a pet description, any microchip info, pet insurance, and a photo of your pet in your kit, so you can alert others if you are separated as you evacuate (keep in your home supplies as well).  Have a tag with a phone number on your pet, but you may wish to leave your address off.  In a disaster you may not want to advertise that you are home. Meet up at a safe public location to retrieve your pet if you are split up.
If worse case, you are fleeing on foot, don't let your pet near any floodwaters, nor let them drink it. Be vigilant if you are in a rural area.  During flooding or fire, wild animals may be displaced as well and how they will interact with you and your pet is unknown.

If your bugout location is a friend or family members property, make sure they are OK with you showing up with your pets.  If they are highly allergic or have small children that may not interact with your breed of animal safely- have a Plan "B".

Whether you are going to a safer location or hunkering down for the duration of the emergency -the following tips are invaluable to keep your pets safe (and don't forget supplies for your two-legged family members).

Make sure your pet is up to date with vaccinations/shots and you have at least six months of flea/tick medication.  If your pet requires any other medications make sure you stockpile several months worth.
Abby likes Blue Buffalo Basic (grain free and several "flavors" for variety

For food - remember canned food can be heavy and will add a lot of weight if you decide you need to leave your home. Dried food is better and a food bin with a locking seal or food grade buckets to keep vermin out.  Also keep a couple oxygen absorbers to preserve freshness and discourage larvae.  If your own provisions include canned meats and stews, that can be a source of food for a pet as well, but only as a last resort due to the high sodium content. Do not resort to a "cheap" food due to the bulk purchase. You want a food high in nutrients and essential fatty acids.  I rotate my bags each month as I purchase a new bag so freshness is not an issue.
I learned the hard way about giving Abby cheap food, then loading her up in the car

Your pet will also need up to 1/2 gallon of water per day, more if they are a larger breed.  Keep it in an assortment of mediums so you can grab a little or a lot depending on the circumstances. Do not store water in previously used milk or juice jugs.Treat stored tap water with 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon (safe for pets and humans alike) if the water is clear.  If water is cloudy use water purification tablets and/or boil (if loca of tap water with a handle that are by the back door on the garden, then refill every Spring and Fall, a CDC reccomendation).
Treats and toys - will reduce stress.  Make sure if you are using peanut butter as a treat that it does NOT contain xyletol.  That's showing up in more and more PB and can cause fatal hypoglycemia and hepatic necrosis in dogs.

Add a couple of extra leashes and a harness to the food and water bowls.  In an emergency situation your dog may be as stressed as you, so even if they're good off leash in normal circumstances, leash them as you travel and keep them in the harness while in the vehicle. If you can, have one of the spare leashes made out of paracord so it can be taken apart used in an emergency.

Keep 50 feet of vinyl cord in your kit, for a runner or tie down.

Keep a thermal blanket for each family member including pets, which holds in 90% of body heat.  A pet bed should be added if you can.

Make sure you have newspapers and plastic bags for doggie waste.  If you are stuck inside, have a washable mat that the dog can use to relieve itself and treats to reward it when it complies with this new task. Another option - especially with a larger bread that's a veritable poop machine invest in a Doggie Dooley Septic Tank: it works like a miniature septic tank.using tural bacteria and enzyme cultures to reduce dog waste to a ground absorbing liquid. Just shovel stools into the system, add water and Digester Powder and you're done. It's a clean way to dispose of waste under any situation.
If you're a cat person, make sure you have extra litter, scoops, and bags to dispose of the waste.

Lastly - a first aid and care kit

Wound Spray such as Pet Relief Dog first aid spray. Pet Relief Dog first aid spray is an all-natural spray that will help your dog heal fast. It's 100% safe and effective.


No-Chew Bandages: PetFlex No Chew Bandage is a flexible, cohesive bandage with a bitter taste to help prevent chewing, biting and tearing of the bandage. PetFlex tears cleanly by hand, will not constrict, does not stick to skin or hair, and stays in place. It's just enough to dissuade 
your dog from chewing so that the injury can heal.

Manuka Honey - Manuka honey is a natural antibiotic and safe for pet consumption

Paw Disinfectant
Gauze Pads
Ear Ointment

If you have a breed prone to ear infections add Zymox for Treatment of Chronic Ear Infections: ZYMOX  is an over the counter enzymatic solution for dogs and cats in the treatment of acute and chronic inflammation of the external ear caused by bacterial, viral ,
and yeast infections. Have on hand in your emergency preparations. Treat once a day for 7 days for acute infection and once a day for 14 days for chronic infection.

Sam Splint
Kerlix Gauze Bandage Rolls
Celox (blood clotting agent)
Zymox Topical Cream
grooming brush
exam gloves (for first aid and applying topical meds)
doggie toothpaste and two toothbrushes
tweezer and magnifying glass (for ticks)

Since a vet may not be available learn basic animal first aid.  A great reference book available on Amazon is "First Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats" by Amy Shojai.

Training - teach your dog to bark at unknown persons or noise on your property.  Equally as important, teach them to stop barking on command (to not alert an intruder to your presence).  Abby knows both Woof! and NO Bark which was easy to teach with treats. Knowing STAY may save your dog's life.  Cats - well, good luck with that :-)
Have your emergency food and supplies location where they are together and easily able to be moved to a vehicle should hunkering down be no longer a safe option (this is where you will thank yourself for adding a loading cart to your ladders and home improvement stuff)  An old roller bag suitcase or duffels work or if you are going to a location where you won't be traveling further store the items in your empty food bins. We have the majority of the emergency rations for people and pets in the basement by the back door (it's a walk-out), easy to load up if there was an emergency that forced us to leave for a longer term with short notice.

We also keep a small duffel with just 3 days of supplies and a small medical kit for both people and pets by the back door  if the nature of the emergency if we have to leave immediately to stay elsewhere but only for a night or two (i.e. tree takes our roof, train derailment, or gas leak etc,).

Because Blinky the Snowman Says -

It's all fun and games til someone pokes an eye out.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Maybe Dull People, but Never a Dull Moment - an Abby Lab Post

Abby Lab again.

Today was a better day and EVEN better, Dad came home from work at lunch!  So instead of my dog walker it was DAD!  He said he was using vacation time to finish ripping out the front steps to get the concrete poured for the new front steps before the rain moves in this weekend.

He's out there making lots of noise as he takes out part of the sidewalk with a sledgehammer, but Mom just took him a piece of  pecan coffeecake and a rootbeer.

Then I got a small box from Chewy - but it really wasn't from Chewy - it was from my fella Frankie Furter with an Easter Sir Prize!

Last night was quiet. Mom stayed hom and didn't go to the Wednesday church service for Lent..  Every Sunday they disappear and I think church is the place that they go.  I don't go to church but would if they let me. Before Mom explained God to me- I was a  Frisbeetarianism  Thata's the belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

Dad is having a birthday this week. He turns 34.  Mom warned him not to make any comments abouat being "old".  Mom is older than Dad, she's not saying how much.  She's pretty quiet about some things. Like why she shoos me out of the bedroom when she gets dressed.  She probably doesn't want me to see her H.R. Pufnstuf tattoo that she probably has.

Mom decided to go on to this website Zazzle, where you can select and or create your own greeting cards.  Mom created one, and it came today, just in time, but with one (ahem) error.  Not the cover which she knew would make him smile.

But-

Even though today wasn't his birthday quite yet she showed it to Dad and he laughed his head off.

DUH Mom!

She thought the cards were just blank inside.

Well, there's a big roast in the crockpot and since it doesn't have garlic or onions, just beefy gravy with red wine, carrots, and celery, Mom said I ca have a piece along with some of the gluten-free cornbread.

Things just get better and better.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sometimes You Need the Bigger Box

Abby Lab here.

Mom said to keep it short as she just wants to sit in the quiet for a bit. Today was a tough day. She got word late yesterday that her squirrel  partner for many years died from an aggresive brain cancer diagnosed over the holiday season. We used to tease her about him as she is sort of like "Bones" on TV, but she said "yeah, but instead of a partner who is a handsome FBI agent, mine's a short balding Cajun". But she so admired P, a former Marine aviator, and they developed a deep bond as Christian colleagues working together in difficult circumstances. He leaves a wife and son in college. Mom's going to make sure there's money for his college if they come up short.

Then the events in London today which meant many going ons in squirrel central.

On her way home, she snagged the BIG box of wine, not the gallon but the one that's about a full bottle.  The adorable female bagger who has Down's Syndrome and is so friendly and helpful looked at her face, looked at the bottle and said "Mommy Juice Box?"

Indeed, young lady, indeed.

Stay safe my friends.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Barkley Memories - Finding Home


La Querencia, a Spanish word difficult to translate, but it invokes a space of sanctuary.  In the story Racing Through Paradise, William F. Buckley says, “The word doesn't translate. It is used in Spanish to designate that mysterious little area in the bullring that catches the fancy of the fighting bull when he charges in. He imagines it his sanctuary: when parked there, he supposes he cannot be hurt. The role of the matador then is to move the bull out of his secured spot."

It is a spot where a dog can sleep, tummy exposed to the sun. It's that secret place where antelope graze without fear and a redhead can sleep protected and safe. It's a point in space where an eagle can soar above the trees and an elk can fight to the death or his dominion. It's a place where one can make a fresh start, or a last stand. In the bullring, it’s called Querencia, and its translation is as diverse as the enigma of its existence.

For me, it's just a little Mission Bungalow built exactly one hundred years ago.

The house I grew up in wasn't a huge place, only one bathroom that had a tub, requiring a schedule worthy of a battle commander on early mornings.  There was just one other smaller bath with a sink and a toilet off the garage for us to come in and clean up after we tinkered with tools and cars.

I had my own room, being the only girl in the family, with a window that looked out onto an apple tree that since has been cut down. I climbed out of that window more than once, dropping into the darkness on the ground in silence. Not to sneak out and party or any other mischief the other kids were up to, but to simply get out of the house, out into the outdoors, sitting on the grass out back, watching the stars on those nights when I was restless. I'd think of things that I'd dream of, if only I could sleep. A small tidy home and shop of my own someday, a good man, a big dog and all the chocolate I could eat.

But as life renews itself, so do dreams. Living with just Barkley in a humongous house, full of expensive things I had to work doubly hard to pay for, coming home late to the one that patiently waited, something dawned on me one night. My dog Barkley didn't care where we lived, what we owned, or who would judge us for that.  All he knew was unbridled living in the moment and following your heart. He appreciated the things that held no form, that bore no name, the glint of sun off of a pond, a walk in the woods, one last look at the night sky as the stars finally fade. As we walked and Barkley went into full point on a plastic deer in someones yard in that old subdivision, I thought how he has also was pointing me to the things that matter in life - loyalty, devotion and love without strings attached.

So I sold it, at a significant financial loss with the market tanking, but I didn't care. I wanted a life where I still worked hard, but work wasn't what defined me. wanted a home, a house that looks less like a magazine and more like a life, the sort of place my Dad would smoke a pipe in, with high wooden beams, old tools and a place to use them, a house for a writer, a retreat for the dreamer.
People say that with change we grow. I'm not so sure I see it quite that way, but rather that we become what we always were, but had changed, molded or kept hidden to satisfy others. Changing our true nature to fit some preconceived notion of how the happy, successful person would live, or with whom. With the changes in my life,  with each friendship I've made and maintained over time, people more like myself, and less like who I was expected to spend time with, I'd become more true to myself. It's as if with each change, whether with loss or with happiness, with challenge, with new friends and new discoveries, the layers peel way like thin skin of an onion, exposing nerve endings to the chill air, awakening something that lay dormant for too long.

With that in mind, I simply loaded up that car with what I could carry, my dog in the backseat, happy simply to be where I was,  with whatever changes came. We wandered, he and I, until we found what was for us, home.

When I showed a professional associate the picture for the place that would finally become home with my husband, I was met with "you're going to LIVE there? It's so small!!  If I had your income, I'd be buying one of those big houses on the lake. Where are you going to shop? What are your neighbors going to think".

You know, I really don't CARE what the neighbor's think. I quit changing who I was to conform to society a long time ago, a foreigner to the immutable laws that TV and greed seem to have placed upon people. I simply wanted to come home and grab a tennis ball and go play with my dog in the yard. I didn't want to come home to a huge cavernous dwelling where I rattled around with the stranger I was becoming, heaving and sighing with the work of keeping that life up, uttering the sounds of someone engaged in a battle without arms.
My first summer here, the air was still warm with life and need. I looked around, I looked down at small things, green plants enduring in hard ground to find light and air, like stars amidst a night sky. I looked up straight into the sun, and for that brief moment, when I must turn away, I could see a pure clear circle, illuminating everything. I saw my shadow, and that of a black Lab, with a shape that was us, yet didn't define us, simply a form, in this place in time, following what was truly within us, wherever we went.

Life in essence, remains the same, even as it changes, these existing things have always been true. It's a small flower, small spots of fresh life, unheard poetry on the hidden side of a planet spinning in space. It's an articulated bark of welcome, it's the wag of a tail. It's darkness, light, and a great thirst to quench before winter's darkness is one of permanence, things you can not hold, but which fill up empty spaces in a life much better than material possession.
What would we be, were we shed of all those material things, of our possessions, our titles, of our names? The things in the forest have no name, they have no earthly riches, yet they still exist; they still are profound in their creation. The creatures of the forest have no titles, and survive based on skill and cunning, not their credit limit or the car they drive. The plants grow and thread and seek light, just as man, when shedding that which is unnecessary, sees the light that is often truth.

On the wall of my Dad's shop area is a old picture of a bullfight.  One he bought for the house as a newlywed which Mom took one look at and sent to the garage. We teased him a lot about it, and just looking at it brought he and my mom to laughter that ended with a kiss and a knowing smile. Yet, in looking at it today, I see the bull, not as a shape, with form and depth, a mass of muscle and bone inherent with the capacity to hurt, but simply a creature knowing what it needed, and willing to sacrifice so very much to keep it.

Behind his house, where deer once wandered down from the mountains, delicate and untouchable as smoke, leaving only tender footprints in the flower beds to mark their passing, stands a Big Box Mart or two, that blot out what is left of the timber and much of the sun. I remember my Dad watching them cut down the trees, with eyes like pieces of a broken plate, steadfast in his refusal to sell, as most of the neighbors did. This house is his home, a dwelling where he raised his kids and outlived two beloved wives, a place he will only leave when he ceases to breathe, the fight in him, only then, having flown away.
My room he has kept, just as it was in my youth.  The walls are still yellow,  my favorite color, a few stuffed animals in the corner, a poster on the closet door,  a music stand.

Mom's kitchen is unchanged but for the refrigerator, once covered with childlike artwork, now laid bare. The wall behind it in the family room that once framed drawings from grade school and ribbons from the science fair is now covered with commendations and more complex ribbons, pictures of airplanes and submarines and the children of the family, proudly swearing an oath to their country in a solemn moment of choice and service, each and every one of us.
Many of the memories there in his home are happy ones, some are bittersweet.  There are the small ceramic things my Mom made, still carefully dusted years after she was dust herself. There is the teddy bear by my bed, showing the signs of wear from when I came home  from the hospital without my daughter and cried myself to sleep  in his fur night after night, while my Dad listened, helpless in the next room, wanting only for me to be happy again.

When I walk in, those memories  remain, though they are dampened by the years, overlaid with other memories of happiness.  As they say, you can't go home again, but we, by our nature, try. It changes, and it doesn't, it's the warmth of a kitchen, a flag flying out front, old tools in the garage and the skills passed on by a Father. It's four walls and new family members who will gather and remember those who are gone.

In those first weeks after Barkley left us, I would step up the steps up to my own porch. I wanted desperately to hear the soft "woof" as Barkley waited in the kitchen for me to step in. But I could only walk in, in that utter quiet that was now the house, sensing those who were absent who inhabited this place but existed now as only ghosts of my past, living on the breath of memory.
I stood outside the door, hearing hushed wind, hand on the doorknob, hesitant to open the door to every memory, hesitant more, to leave them behind. I stood there silently, my presence not detected by dogs forever silent, motionless, trying to blend in with the house, the dark wood and trees, listening to the living presence of a home, all the lives and love and heartache that went into it, that formed these four walls, that now formed me.

I listened, as a churchgoer does, to chants in ancient languages that no one understands, but listens to anyway, the words a peace that flows like water. There was no bark but that of the trees, and the baleful sound of a wind that spoke the name of one departed. I listened for things I'd dreamed of, if only I could sleep.

I opened up the door to go on in. I had no words for what I was feeling. I had no name for the quiet that waited inside. But that was OK. There are no words for the shafts of light between the trees, of the unity of earth and roots and small creatures that are born and die as food for the soil. There are no names for the rocks that direct a streams flow, for the fur and leaves that line an eagle's nest. Yet they are, and always will be. Strong. Necessary. Waiting.

 - LB Johnson

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday Black and White - In Memory of Sugar


Humans stay on this earth a long time
 learning to be good.
Dogs stay just a short time
 as they already are.
Unknown

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday Eats

While my husband went and got supplies to rebuild the front porch (looking every bit of a hundred years old and starting to sag from a rotted support post from years before we got the place and landscaped it for proper drainage),  baked, cleaned and cooked

Abby is snoopervising, only retreating to the futon for a nap when Vlacula comes out to clean up the area rugs.
I'm helping Mom!

Call me old fashioned but I enjoy taking care of a home and a kitchen for my husband so he's got a comfortable place to come home to after a long day of work (as do I).
After they got married my great grandmother did that, my grandmother did that, my Mom did that (when she wasn't being Deputy Sheriff).  But they did it out of love, the greatest of reasons.

My husband does as much work as I do, probably a bit more with all the renovation. It's a shared responsibility but I don't mind doing the tasks he doesn't like to do,  just as he cleans the gutters and does the weeding and yard work, which I don't like to do.

Because if I was expected to do everything it would be.

TALK TO THE PAW!

But I'm lucky to have a husband like my Dad, that views the house as a shared responsibility.  As he deals with spiders, and plumbing reworkings, I try and leave enough meals so that after a long day, or regular weeks away from home in a hotel, he doesn't HAVE to cook or eat something from a box.

We had roast beef sandwiches for lunch but tonight's  dinner was "what's in the fridge.  The stir fry I made a couple of days ago was gone and I usually do my grocery shopping on Monday when it's not so crowded.

3 large tortillas.
the usual canned stuff.
some frozen veggies
2 cooked chicken breasts
about a cup of sour cream
a bag and a half of cheese
and a few jalapenos

And BEER!

I can make something out of that. (the light was pretty low but you get the idea)

Tex-Mex Chicken-Jalapeno Lasagna

No noodles to boil and a tasty mix of creamy, cheesy, and savory with a nice little crisp bite from the peppers. 

In a cast iron pan with a little olive oil saute until softened;

1 large onion

Set aside 2 cups of grated Mexican Blend Cheese

In a bowl mix:

Can of Cream of Cluck Soup
A cup of sour cream
A small box of spinach, thawed and drained and squeezed between paper towers til all the moisture is out.
A few dashes of seasoning salt (I used Janes Krazy Mixed Up Salt - My favorite as it is lower in sodium than many seasoning mixes).
The sauteed onions (or replace with celery or yellow or orange bell peppers if you don't like onions)
3-5 chopped de-seeded jalepanos. (I used 5 for hot, not make your eyes water hot, but zippy)

Chop up 2-3 cooked chicken breasts (or prepared veggie chicken or tofu), dusted with a little ancho chili powder before cooking).

Layer in a non-stick sprayed 8 x 8 pan

1 flour tortilla
1/3 of the soup mixture
1/2 of the chicken
a big handful of cheese

1 tortilla
1/3 of the soup mixture
1/2 of the chicken
a handful of cheese

1 tortilla
remaining soup mixture
remaining cheese.

Bake, covered with foil, at 325 F for 35 minutes, until bubbly and the cheese is melted.

And the beer was for the cook.
It was REALLY tasty and made enough to feed six folks, and should freeze really well for leftovers.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Sugar Has Gone to the Bridge

Run free Sugar, over the years so many wonderful posts and adventures, and of course, the Sunday Black and White Blog Hop you helped host.

You will be deeply missed by more than just your beloved family.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

On Special Moments

For those occasional lousy days, followed by  bad hair, bad breath mornings, when your furry best friend let's you know you are absolutely the most beautiful, important thing in the world.

I miss you Barkley - and those special moments.
But I'm so happy to have Abby the Rescue Lab waiting for me while I work (her Dad was home today on a house project and got a photo of her looking for my truck almost to the minute when I normally roll in).