Thursday, May 31, 2018

Stormy Weather

Unlike Barkley, Abby Lab hates the water.  She won't go for a walk in it unless she REALLY has to go potty and you take an umbrella.  The kiddie pool was a total bust, she wouldn't eve step in it for a treat.  She even walks funny if the grass is wet, as if trying not to put her full weight down.
Late yesterday the remnants of  Tropical Storm Alberto barrelled over Chicagoland.  There was very little thunder or lightning but boy did it rain, pouring for about an hour enough that there was flash flooding in parts of the city.  It cleared out pretty quickly and since our driveway and street are torn up for new paving, my husband took Abbey for the alternate walk route, down our graveled alley which had some significant spots with pooled water.

Imagine my surprise when they came back and formerly dry Miss Abby was thoroughly soaked and HAPPY.

Apparently, she may not like water but she LOVES mudpuddles!

Abby is sending a big shout out to her dear friend Frankie Further who is having a barkday today.  His Mom said his present arrived.  It's a handmade stuffie that looks like Abby from one of our favorite Etsy sitehttps://www.etsy.com/shop/wagsandwiggles

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Rescuers

Chapter 32 – The Rescuers.  From the Amazon #1 Best Seller "Saving Grace - A Story of Adoption" by L.B. Johnson


When the phone rang late one night, I recognized the voice. The caller was in law enforcement, a female friend, not a colleague. We chitchatted regularly, but a call this late was not good news and I was afraid it was professional in nature. She said, “I need you to help me rescue a dog.” Apparently, the deadbeats who’d been living in an old rental house down the road from her place booked out in the middle of the night. She saw the vehicles loading up and leaving. Good riddance, she thought.

Then, late at night, carried on the wind she heard the pitiful cry. A coyote? A dog? The neighbors are gone, it must be someone else, she thought. The next night she didn’t hear it over the cold wind, but on the third night she did, a high pitched whine of a soul’s abandonment.

The house remained dark; the utter stillness, complete silence a testament to the tears outside. My friend crept over, seeing no sign that the residents were anything but gone; the house empty of belongings, the yard covered in trash. It was a pup, a retriever, purebred from its looks, left chained up in the backyard with a bowl of rainwater and no food. Left to die when they vacated in a hurry.

She called: “I need backup.” I knew what she meant. So off I headed, taking no purse, only the gear in my truck, some cash, and dog treats in my pocket. When I got there the house was definitely vacant; no meth heads would be coming back and surprising us.

 As we approached, even in the dark we could see that the poor animal, a young dog, was starving and cold. The temperatures had been reaching down in the forties. Tonight was gray and even colder, with a forecast of freezing rain. For now, the sky held in the moisture, refusing to release it; but it was supposed to go below freezing soon. The dog wouldn't have survived the night, its only companion the smell of water and blood.

 Blood? Why did I smell blood?

My friend, crouched down over the dog as I stood watch, pointed at something. Hard-nosed law officer that she was, she had tears in her eyes: the dog had outgrown her collar, and it was actually was cutting deep into the flesh, leaving bloody tracks in what should have been the soft fur of contentment. The poor animal had to be in terrible pain, but she only licked our hands and tried to snuggle up.
My friend asked, “Can you get it out?” I always have some first aid and medical type implements in my bag, but I had to say, “I’ve never cut on anything still breathing.”

I expected the dog to bite me as I worked gently with small tools to free it. But she just continued to nuzzle our hands, even though in my attempt to remove this tiny round torture device I had to be causing her more pain. I looked up to the sky, thinking for a moment the clouds had finally given up their rain, when I realized that what was on my tongue was the taste of salt as I worked away.

When finally we stood up, the dog in my friend’s arms and the remnants of that collar lying on the ground like a broken mirror, we heard the crunch of tires. Both of us were poised for fight or flight until we saw that it was local law enforcement. There was the flash of red and blue, of a bright flashlight, the glint of a shield. We smiled, hands in view, thankful for the assistance and my friend was recognized with a “What are you ladies doing out here?”

 My friend called out, “Hey D.!” He replied, calling her by name, “. . . .What are you doing out here? I was keeping an eye on this place in case they were back and up to no good.” She said, “I’m just stealing this dog, sir.”

 He looked at the dog, a puppy really, then looked at me and said, “Who’s this?” She told him who I was, his eyes smiled as he recognized the name, and he chuckled and said, “And what are you doing out here?” I said. “Helping her to steal this dog, sir!”
He just laughed. Calling the local animal officer was suggested, but we told him, given this very remote and rural area, that might take an hour or more; the pup was in bad shape and had lost blood, she could die if we didn’t do something. My friend told the officer we’d take the dog to the vet, pay the bill ourselves, and get her a good home. The dog clearly was a stray in the eyes of the law, abandoned to die. The officer just said, “Dog? What dog? I didn’t see any dog,” and tucked some money in our hands to help toward the vet bill before he helped us load up and drove off.

The dog was cleaned up at the vet’s office, an after-hours emergency call. The wound would not cause any permanent damage but was serious. In a few hours that gentle little retriever was bandaged up and home at my friend’s. After we raised an amber toast in crystal goblets, recognition among tired friends, the pup curled up to sleep near the fire, joining a household that already had two spoiled, well-loved dogs. As I looked at their forms and my own, I realized that life brings us friends in many forms—both two- and four-legged, both with their own healing power of Grace.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Blogville Memorial Day 2018

Today's the day we join our friends at

for Blogville's Memorial Day Festivities including a trip to the amusement park

I've got the catering truck fired up and ready to go! My boyfriend Frankie Furter is going to help set me up at the amusement park for all the foodables and we have lots of boxes of Treats from Chewy.com to share.

Before we eat, a prayer for all the brave men and women who have died defending freedom, what Memorial day is all about.

Then time for fellowship, fun, and food.
 There are lots of hot dogs and beefables to make a sandwich

 Pigs in a Blanket with bacon
Is the chicken done yet?
Oh yum - Cluck Strips!
Don't lick the grill!
Yum - Cheesy Mice
Lots of fruit!
Crunchy Cheesy Bites
Deviled Eggs

Pizza Bones!
Frosty Paw Style Bites

And of course. . . . 
Lots of Toilet Water.  Don't forget -  my BFF
Ruby the Airedale
has the Margarita Truck here and fired up so go visit!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sunday Eats -

I've done the Swedish waffle on here a few times, but this weekend's take on it was our favorite so far.  They were made by replacing 1/4 of the flour with stone-ground cornmeal, adding a dash of vanilla, and cooking it an extra 15-20 seconds so the edges got all crispy like the edges of cornbread taste like when they are cooked in a cast iron skillet.  They were SO good.

You WILL need a Swedish waffle iron to bake these up extra thin (unlike Belgium waffles).  I have the Chef's Choice 840 ($69) and I've been really happy with it. I got mine from Amazon The heart-shaped Swedish waffles are a staple around here and on really hot days we have them for dinner with a little bacon and fresh fruit.  It also makes a super delicious thin brownie dessert.
MMMM, waffles . . . .

Cornmeal Swedish Waffles

Mix in a medium bowl in order given:

3/4 cup flour (if using gluten-free flour add 1/2 tsp Xanthan gum)
1/4 cornmeal
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
dash of salt
a small splash of vanilla extract (about 1/8 teaspoon)
3/4 cup skim milk
1 egg
3 Tablespoons melted butter, cooled slightly

Whisk until all ingredients combined - there will be a few small lumps in it - that's normal.

Using a 1/3 cup measure (or following your iron's directions) pour batter in the waffle iron sprayed with a little nonstick spray. You'll be tempted to add more batter.  DON'T.  Trust me, you'll have a mess. I love this waffle iron as it beeps when they are done, they turn out perfectly (I always cook a few extra seconds though), and the waffle iron is super easy to clean if you don't overfill.

I served with  a choice of maple syrup or lingonberry syrup

Saturday, May 26, 2018

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Water Balloons


Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth
my hands to war, and my fingers to fight
-Psalm 144:1

Today is as good a day as any to think about such things for I have seen hell. . . . .

. . . . . and it's Wal Mart on a holiday weekend when it's almost 100 degrees.

The photo above was the outside temperature at the house at 2:30.  Really too hot to do anything,

But my husband has been gone for work for a week and I need to make him a homecooked meal. But first I need to cool off.

Husband: "What's for supper hon?"

Me:  "Hambush surprise?"

Husband: "huh?"
"you'll like it,  bring eye protection."


Friday, May 25, 2018

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Barkley Memories

The bookmark in the photo was crafted by a dear family friend, a robotics engineer who laser etched the last photo I took of Barkley begging for goodies on the weekend before he left us, on the top of an antique piano key (I play).  The ribbon it is stitched on is the color and width of his collar, which now lies in a book on the coffee table where I read before bed each night. I still tear up when I look at it but it reminds me of those friends I met and bonded with through that dog.

The Book of Barkley, on which this dog blog was based, was written in the Spring of 2014 after I lost my beloved black Lab Barkley to a sudden aggressive cancer, followed a couple of weeks later by my only brother, also to sudden, aggressive cancer. When I wrote it, I committed to donating all of its sales to animal rescue, focusing on the smaller groups that don't normally get a lot of funds.

It was a #1 bestseller in several countries, a Kirkus Review featured Indie author in their print magazine, on the cover of Memoirabilia magazine,  and a Silver winner of the Reader's Favorite International Book Award.  Yet I know, as any author does, that after a book's been out several years sales die off. (Insert sound of crickets here)

I checked  Amazon tonight just for grins, after getting a quarterly royalty check that was bigger than expected to find it is still #15 in genre at Amazon, almost four years after publication.

Bless everyone that's shared the word or supported it.  Through TBOB and people finding it through my follow up books, all best sellers as well, I've been able to donate well into the six figures to animal rescue across the US and Canada as well as sponsoring a dog at Search Dog Foundation.

I am indeed blessed and I think Barkley would be proud.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Some Days are Like That

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

So for tonight. . .

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

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

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

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

Stir until mostly melted

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

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

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

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

Say CHEESE!!!

Monday, May 21, 2018

So Much for Sleeping In

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

Abby had other ideas.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday Smiles

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

"Leprechaun!" 

(The answer was Leprosy).

It took a while for everyone to quit laughing.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Run Free Stella Rose Long


Stella Rose Long from:

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

Friday, May 18, 2018

"You Want a Piece of Me?"

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

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

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

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

LBJ

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Abby Lab Houskeeping Tips

Abby Lab here - 

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

My Mom can as well.

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

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

Sometimes she's a little more energetic about it.

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

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


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

Make sure you have your drapes are completely closed.

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

Monday, May 14, 2018

Spidey Sense

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

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

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

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

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



Sunday, May 13, 2018

For Mother's Day - Being a Furever Mom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kaboom!  Oh uh, too late. .

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

I love my Mom.

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

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


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

I guess I'll just go back to sleep.

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

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

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

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

-Abby the Lab