Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fly Free Easy

It is with a very heavy heart and tears that I tell you what much of Blogville already knows.  Our friend Easy Rider passed away last night, while in care of the animal hospital.  There was no pain for him at the end, but there is pain for his family, who are grieving very hard as many of us have in the past.  I don't know if they are ready for words yet, but I'm offering these, having walked in their shoes. Know that your Blogville family cares, we pray for you, and we are here if you need an ear. -  LB

From TBOB:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They pay it back in ways that can't be captured, but by the measured beat of a tail.  On those nights when you come home really, really late from work, your soul weary, the house dark, they will quietly come up to you, leaning into you, drawn from their slumber to your side like steel and magnet. At that moment, there as both your hearts beat in the silence, you realize that every measure of sickness and health was worth it.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thoughts Headed Easy's Way

Please put your paws together with words of healing and hope for our friend:

He is quite ill and required emergency surgery for a bloating issue and his paw-rents are ever so worried. Go leave them a kind word at their blog or over at Power of the Paw (link is the top banner on the right sidebar).  Mom's just on her lunch break at work, so hopefully there will be better news by the time she is done.

 Abby Lab

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday News from Abby T. Lab

The reviews for Mom's book are coming in.  She knew that a Christian fiction genre book wouldn't sell like her two non-fiction books but it was important for her to share her values with her family - her dad especially as he is in the last days of congestive heart failure after outliving two wives and two children (Mom is all that is left).  It's not a "preachy" book and not for one particular denomination, more the telling of simple small town values of caring and fellowship with our neighbors of divergent ages and backgrounds and a story of how we need to rely on things other than just ourselves in times of deep loss or danger.

The fact that her Dad  loved it was good enough, but she would like to get the message about it to sell a few more to donate to animal rescue. One review she was particular excited about was a name she knew was the pseudonym for a famous writer, as he had already dropped her a personal note to let her know how much he loved it even if he normally doesn't ever read the Christian genre, just action, and adventure books (though he was a Book of Barkley fan).  She said thank you so much to everyone for the kind reviews.

Mom said the Publisher will be lowering the Kindle Price in December, as it was higher than she wished, but she said if anyone that's a member of Blogville buys a Kindle between now and Christmas she will mail them a free autographed copy of the paperback to give someone as a gift .  Just leave the first few words in the first sentence in chapter FIVE in a comment so she knows you have it, with your address for the paperback to be mailed before the holidays.

Abby T. Lab
Editor in Training, Book Marketing, and Pizza Wrangling

Rachel Raines is looking for a place to hide a heart full of loss, and a quieter patrol than Chicago. The bequest of her aunt's house seems like the perfect opportunity for both, if she can survive the gigantic spiders, creaky plumbing, and inevitable challenges of being the rookie on a small town force.

Down the street, her aunt's best friend, Evelyn Ahlgren, marks the passing of seasons and neighbors, long mired in her loneliness as a widow. When the young woman with scars of her own befriends her, they strike up an unlikely friendship across generations that just might help them both heal.

A beautifully told, heartwarming story of finding the best in people and the small towns, this book is like finding a treasure in an old attic. Enjoy!
LB Johnson, author of the best-seller "The Book of Barkley", has done it again. This heart-warming, true to life story of a young woman who finds herself pursuing a career in law enforcement, but in a small town instead of the big city she'd imagined. John Lennon famously wrote, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans." But with the help of a neighbor, life, and the persistent nudging of the Holy Spirit, she finds herself opening up to an existence she'd never considered.
Having read the author's other two books, I was excited to pick up her first fiction piece. This book has a similar feel to her previous works, with warm and flowing descriptions, meriting multiple re-reads to catch all the nuances of her prose. I was curious how the issues of faith would be handled, this being published by a Christian publishing house. In fact, it was a sublime and personal handling of faith. Her characters are well fleshed out, and interesting, as they explore loss, life, and love across generations.

This book would make a fine Christmas gift, for the well-read teen on up to your grandparents. And as a plus, the author also donates profits from her book sales to various charitable animal rescues and other animal service organizations.
I opened this book eagerly. L.B. Johnson writes with ease and experience, openly sharing the truth of life in concepts and images all too real, yet lyrical.

Examples that light up a scene and illuminate the story:
"... a statement of endurance too abundant for human speech ..."
"... colorful wildflowers splashed on the ground ..."
"...the odor of a whetted knife carving shadows into the night..."

Johnson uses the present tense, a confident author's voice that's an immediate witness, up close and personal. The story is a first-person account by an intelligent young woman, alone, a new cop with big city experience transplanted to a small town, after inheriting her elderly aunt's home, an old house cluttered with bittersweet childhood memories.

Joining a small town police force means dealing with gruesome tragedies up close, mishaps typical of a small town, death and injuries that devastate loved ones. Johnson's young female cop tussles with the hardship of loneliness, and she uses this fictional first person journal to speak of her faith, devotion to duty, and the abundant human warmth of Small Town Roads.
Sometimes heroes are not bronze muscled doers of great deeds. Sometimes heroism is getting out of bed when every joint hurts, and doing a difficult job when everyone else turns their back, and knowing there are a thousand days ahead of you just like this one with few breaks and fewer opportunities for joy. Sometimes heroism is having a big heart when having any heart at all seems to be a liability. Most of us never have the opportunity to be the type of hero action movies are made about, but we all can be heroic in our day to day lives just by caring. That is what lies at the core of this book, and the big heart and caring shine through
This book is in one word: rich. The imagery is vibrant; you feel as if you know the characters.It is a tender, lovely story told from the heart. I've read this author's other efforts, and this doesn't disappoint. Not a quick read but worth the time to curl up and get lost in the vibrancy.
Small Town Roads is kind, gentle, poetic, but grippingly bittersweet in the meeting and meshing of the times and values of two distinctly different -- but so much the same -- women in a small American town. L.B. Johnson is a writer to watch for tomorrow, but she is also someone to enjoy today".
-- John L. Moore
Award-winning novelist and journalist, author of The Breaking of Ezra Riley and other novels.
 In the tradition of Kent Haruf's bestselling Plainsong, L.B. Johnson has written a lyrical, meditative story that acknowledges the dangers and comforts of our world. Small Town Roads is a loving story about an old, slow place where the terrible loneliness of grief eases because ordinary people decide to be community.
--Katie Andraski
Author of The River Caught Sunlight
Heart-warming and endearing, this read brings the reality of small town life and the meaning of community, life-long friendships and the healing of a grieving soul to readers. Refreshing and uplifting, L.B. Johnson has eloquently portrayed the different seasons and paths that life takes us on. Through a series of journal entries by Rachel as one of the main characters and a beautifully written narrative, the author sheds light on renewed hope in God's purposes and will, despite the past and current circumstances."

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Phartzan Beltch

Abby Lab here.  My boyfriend Frankie at

had a hilarious post up recently about post-Thanksgiving which consisted of:

1. Burrrrrrrp !!!!!! 
2. PHarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrt !!!!! 
YOU decide who said What. 

Frankie said it was all Ernie but I sent them a photo from a local model train show that Mom and Dad went to, to which Frankie commented on here later. Sharing for all post-holiday.

Cheers - Abby Lab

P.S. Mom told Dad that she never farts, burps, or sweats.  That's why when the "honey do" list is nearing the expiration date, she nags, as otherwise, she would EXPLODE.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Belated Sunday Eats - Creamy Mac and Cheese

Temperatures in northern Illinois dropped from the 70's to the 20's within a couple of days.  I can't complain, as according to Facebook, a post of early November of last year was Abby romping in some snow in our backyard and this year we maintained spring-like weather (including heavy thunderstorms) until the third week of the month.

But it made for a weekend where it was just nice to stay inside, and warm. , ,

. . . and do some home cooking.

The last three years have been a blur, I got married, moved twice, wrote 3 books, put 36,000 miles under me back and forth to Dad's and 30,700 miles between crash pad and home every weekend before I could get transferred.  I lost my beloved brother and my dog Barkley and adopted Abby Lab - the best thing I could have done.  FINALLY, I have time to just sit and read that big stack of books that I keep here and also at my  ninety-six-year-old Dad's house.
My husband and Dad - enjoying their reading.

I also plan on trying out some new recipes. I made this for dinner Sunday night and it was a huge hit and some of the creamiest mac and cheese I'd ever made.
After I made this Abby was begging (she did get the little shreds of cheese stuck to the food processor blade and bowl) and my husband was stealing spoonfuls as it cooled, I looked at him and said: "has anyone in your generation actually eaten homemade mac and cheese?"  He shook his head - mac and cheese comes in a blue box or a frozen red box. . right?

This was the best mac and cheese I've made in several years, and aside from standing at the stove stirring for 14 minutes (with wine - I'm ambidextrous when it comes to whisking and drinking wine), it was super easy to make and my husband raved about how good it was.  Even these pictures, taken two days later as leftovers with some fresh breakfast bacon (it was too dark when I first made it for photos), doesn't do it justice as to how creamy it was when it came out of the oven.

Creamy Mac and Cheese (serves 4 as a main dish, and 6-8 as a side dish)

1 and 3/4 cups dry macaroni

12 ounces sharp cheddar (I used 8 ounces of sharp cheddar, grated from a block and 4 ounces of pre-shredded cheddar/jack leftover from making enchiladas Saturday). If you can, grate your own. Pre-shredded cheese doesn't have the moisture of block and has preservatives. Shredding your own tastes SO much better; is cheaper, and makes a creamier mac and cheese.

3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard (in the spice aisle for you new cooks)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
4  to 5 shakes of a jar of crushed red pepper (about 1/4 tsp.)

2 and 1/2 cups milk (I used 1 % -  what I had in the fridge)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease or non-stick spray an 8 x 8 casserole dish.

Mix flour and spices in a small cereal bowl.

Bring a saucepan of water to a rolling full boil.  Stir in pasta.  Cover and turn off heat.  Set timer for six minutes. (seriously - for servings up to four -  I never stand and boil my pasta any more, a trick I learned from Murphy and Stanley's Mom. I just give it a quick stir, cover with a tight lid, turn off the heat, and walk away, using the normal time on the box).  Since this will cook further in the oven, I only cooked it to "al-dente", so it was still a bit firm to the bite.

Grate the cheese - you want 3 cups total.
When the timer goes off for the macaroni - drain, then rinse with very cold water and drain again so it quits cooking and place the pasta in a large mixing bowl.

Get timer, beverage of choice, and potholder on standby and in reach.  Once you start the next step you do NOT want to step away from it for "another glass" or "let the dog out" or you will  likely scald the milk or end up with lumps.

Melt butter over medium-high heat in a heavy saucepan. Set a timer for 14 minutes. Whisk in flour and spice mixture, over medium/high heat, whisking constantly for two minutes.  Use a real whisk, (even WalMart has them), rather than a fork.   In a slow stream, add the milk, whisking constantly. Whisk until the timer goes off and the mixture is thickening at medium-high heat.  You want it steaming but NOT coming to a full simmer (bubbles).

Turn off heat and stir in grated cheese, stirring until it's melted.

Pour cheese sauce over macaroni, stirring to break up macaroni and place in 8 x 8 x pan.  Bake uncovered at 375 for 20-25 minutes until bubbling around all of the edges and just starting to brown. Let cool for 3-5 minutes.

Top with chopped bacon or buttered bread crumbs for a vegetarian version. I believe there was a vegetable in the room so we covered all food groups.
Hey - there's still some cheese left Mom.  Angry bird wants some!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

New Chapters

Abby Lab here - a Chapter from Mom's new book and then she promises to quit barking about it!  The main character of the book is a young rookie police officer who has to move from Chicago, where she just graduated University, to a tiny rural town after her only relative dies and leaves her a small home.  With grades that would have taken her to the FBI, it's a big setback, in her eyes, but with her recently rescued dog Clyde and new friends, it's one that opens up a wonderful new life full of humor and hope.

Chapter 16

Occasionally I have to drive into Oz, as I call the big city of Chicago, which rises out of the cornfields. I go less and less, surprisingly not missing large malls and nightclubs like I did when I arrived in this small town. I’m enjoying just working and coming home to relax in the house, to bake bread with new friends. I may be turning into a younger version of my aunt, and I don’t care.

As I made several stops before hitting the freeway home, there were some people panhandling. I have learned to recognize the signs of, “I’m just scamming for money,” $300 shoes, smoking cigarettes constantly between green lights (if you can afford a pack-a-day habit, you don’t need my cash). There was one young lady, dressed in torn and shabby clothing sporting a very recent and intricate hair highlighting job that I know costs close to $200 to get done, even though it looked like she washed her hair with vegetable oil. And look, a new smartphone! Then there was the young man that just looked hungry until you noted how small his pupils are, looking for his next high. Nice try, but they’re not getting anything from me. Sometimes I would see someone that had that slightly unhinged look in eyes or actions that made me make sure I avoided eye contact as I ensured my doors were locked, not wishing to put myself in the point blank range of mentally unstable rage.

Once in a while, I saw something in the clear eyes of one of them, noting hands calloused by years of hard work, and realized that whether they were truly homeless or not, they did need something more than cash, an uplifting of the spirit. So on those occasions, I would roll down the window and put out a couple of bucks, but most importantly, I would look them in the eye and treat them with the respect of a kind word and an accepting smile. I remember one of them with tears in his eyes, an older man with a straight back and hands curled by arthritis, simply because I give him a fairly large and crisp bill, called him Sir, and wished him God’s blessings for a comfortable night of rest.

Sure, maybe I’m just being played, but I’d rather make the occasional attempt than leave them alone as they sifted through the ghosts of past riches, coming up with empty hands. I’ve been just one bad decision away from where I had only the clothes on my back and enough gas to make an escape. It can happen to any of us, though I’m thankful I had parents and an aunt and uncle that instilled in me the value of hard work and sweat, never being taught the world owed me something like so many of my peers.

In looking at them, I realize how very precious the smallest of things are, how the most ordinary of things, the simplest of possessions can contain the deep, profound integrity of a work of art. You also realize that you can’t hold onto something so hard, so afraid of losing it, that your efforts only fracture what once was whole. I look at some butterflies from Africa under glass that my aunt left in the house when she died. They have such frail and beautiful wings that almost look like they would flutter with life if I softly blew my breath on them. Yet it would only take one accidental drop off the table to destroy them forever, wings tearing from glass that cuts as cleanly as tears.

In our neighborhood, there is this very elderly gentleman, hunched over with pain, barely able to walk. His tidy home on the next block has a wheelchair ramp, for a deceased spouse or himself, I do not know. He walks with great difficulty as if the movement is foreign to him. Each day he takes out his little dog for a walk, likely his only companion as I’ve never seen him with any family member. Holding a leash in one hand and a cane in another, he passes by, indistinctly and quietly as a shadow, yet with movements that are precise with pain, as his little dog hovers with glee over invisible things in a carpet of grass. When we first passed, and I looked at his face, I expected his countenance to reflect the hampered efforts of a hampered body, pain in his eyes and defeat in his form. Instead, I got a happy glint and a smile as he gazed down at his furry best friend, delighting in just being outside in the warm sunshine with a creature he loved.

Our lives all begin in the same way, in the unleashing of pain as our mothers birth us, in that first deep cry as we take in the air around us. From there, the journeys are as different as our fingerprints, on various paths, some strange, some wonderful, some littered with stones that make us bleed. Some don’t survive the journey, others find at its end, they hold a single treasured thing, or nothing at all but their labored breathing. I’ve learned the hard way that each person, each moment is important.

As I drove into the city today, I saw a woman on a corner in designer business clothing, everything about her bright and shining, but for her eyes. On another was someone in the faded clothes of a working man, which had seen better days, holding a cardboard sign that said, “Need help. God bless.” She did everything she could to avoid looking at him, as I handed $5 out the window to him and received an honest and grateful thank-you. I think of what I saw in their eyes—in hers, fear; in his, truth.

Truth, however painful, like beauty, hovers around us, obscured in the still silent waters of a day, waiting for us to stretch out a hand and grab on to it. As I accelerated away, I saw their forms on the sidewalk, joined by others on their way to work, or simply finding their way, looking in the gleaming light like the slats of a fence, some straight, some bent and damaged, all simply trying to hold something together.

Tonight as I type, I look out on my old truck, at a strand of white that’s appeared in my strawberry blond hair when I’m barely even thirty, at a scar on my upper chest that marks the time I escaped that opening grave with gentle triumph when a skin cancer was detected early. Others might think it odd that I give money to strangers while driving a nine-year-old vehicle that’s seen better days. It has nothing to do with income and all to do with how I can live with myself. Like anyone, I’ve made mistakes, I’ve hurt others, and I’ve known too well those truths that are found in a field where nothing is left but crime scene tape and regret. In those truths is the understanding that none of us are immune from failure, lack of empathy, or fate, but we are still all capable of reaching out a hand to a good soul in need, as Christ did. To be ignored is to disappear, to vanish without provoking either mourning or curiosity, a death in and of itself.

The next time I go out for my walk, I’ll take some homemade cookies and share with the old man that walks his dog, I will learn his name, and I will remember it. For he understands too, what many of us know, that no matter how much or how little we have, we all want that same thing—to have a place where we are safe and valued, a place that even the most humble of us deserve to know.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Update - My Book was published TODAY!

Surprise - my book, my first fiction piece (family/relationships/Christian genre) is out a week early and is available on Amazon while it makes it way to the bookstores. 

To order click

All sales the first week are going to Lab Rescue LRCP in Maryland and Kevlar for K9s (which provides life saving vests to K9 Police Officers who otherwise wouldn't have one).

Small Town Roads is kind, gentle, poetic, but grippingly bittersweet in the meeting and meshing of the times and values of two distinctly different — but so much the same — women in a small American town. L.B. Johnson is a writer to watch for tomorrow, but she is also someone to enjoy today”.
--John L. Moore — award-winning novelist and journalist, author of The Breaking of Ezra Riley and other novels.

“In the tradition of Kent Haruf’s best-selling Plainsong, L.B. Johnson has written a lyrical, meditative story that acknowledges the dangers and comforts of our world.  Small Town Roads is a loving story about an old, slow place where the terrible loneliness of grief eases because ordinary people decide to be community."
--Katie Andraski, author of The River Caught Sunlight

Evelyn Ahlgren, a widow and retired teacher, enjoys the quiet comforts of her tranquil neighborhood. That’s why she is intrigued to see what her new neighbor, rookie police officer Rachel Raines, will add to their charming small town.

Rachel had big-city plans that hadn't included inheriting a tiny home in a rural community, a place with no coffee baristas and where the town’s only restaurant had a giant plastic cow on the roof.
Evelyn believes that God brought the two together to find renewed purposes in His will, and they begin an unlikely friendship that surpasses age and experiences. When an unexpected act of violence impacts them both, their concept of faith and family is tested with life-changing results.

Small Town Roads, by best-selling author L.B. Johnson, accurately depicts the feeling of small town life, where residents know each other’s names and become neighbors, and friends, for a lifetime.

L.B. Johnson has a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice and lives in Chicago with her engineer husband and rescue black Lab.   100% of her writing proceeds are donated to animal rescue, Kevlar for K9s, and Search Dog Foundation.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sugar and Spice

When I got home, the little caddy in the kitchen was slightly askew. I figured my husband bumped into it as he left for work.

Then I walk into the dining room.  On the floor is a bag of whole wheat flour and a slightly drooled on but not chewed up bag of brown sugar the contents of both untouched, but for carrying them out here.  It was then I noticed the open cabinet on the caddy.
Abby apparently thought I was hiding some strange stuffies in the cabinet and put them out on the floor with the rest of her toys.
Seriously Mom quit being a cheapskate.  Next time buy the flour that squeaks.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Sepia Saturday and some POTP for Sully

On this Sepia Saturday please send some Power of the Paw for my friend

Sully's Mom relayed to a friend in Blogville that Sully isn't eating but is drinking a lot and peeing a lot. He is at the dogtor for liver tests. Being at the dogtor for liver TREATS is good, but NOT tests.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Saturday Eats - Woof Woof!

Abby Lab here - this is a French Onion Baked Potato. It's not pretty, being somewhat bland in color, but Mom literally moaned when she bit into it.  I didn't get any as it had onions which are very toxic for dogs but she fed me some little nibbles of cheese. If you're vegetarian you can use veggie stock, but try and stick to a low sodium or homemade.

You will need (per person, Mom just made one as Dad was out of town)
1 large potato
1 sweet onion
Malbec wine
summer savory (that is a spice - Mom got her's online from Penzey's)
a bay leaf
salt and pepper
beef broth (Mom used some leftover homemade beef stock in which had earlier cooked a garlic-studded roast beast, but canned will work)
extra virgin olive oil

To Start: Rub your scrubbed and clean potato with olive oil. Mom used one that is made of olives that taste like butter, from Artesano's in Indianapolis.

After your potato is oiled, poke a few holes in it so it doesn't blow up in your oven, resulting in potato residue on your clothing that will likely get you secondary screening by Security Canine Abby. Then place directly on the rack of a 400 degree F. oven and set the timer for 60 minutes.

Next, get one sweet onion, fairly large but not a Jabba the Hut sized one, and chop it into fairly thin slivers or pieces. .

SNIFF. No, it wasn't the onions. Mom was thinking about last night's game of Cribbage with Dad that did not end well as apparently, a skunk showed up, whatever that means.

The onions, when chopped, will look to be almost the same mass as the potato, but they cook down quite a bit.

Put the onions in a pan with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and a couple of pinches of salt (which help caramelize it) and cook on the low/medium heat. Stir every few minutes, for at least 30 minutes. The onions should be VERY soft and caramelized, starting to turn golden. In the last five minutes raise the heat to medium, and cook until very light golden brown, constantly stirring, if needed. You want soft, not crunchy onions, so watch they don't burn, adding a teaspoon more olive oil as needed.

Remove the onions, putting them in a little saucepan and keep warm. Do not rinse fry pan. Remove it from heat, let cool a minute and then put in a healthy splash of Malbec wine (if you don't have a dry red wine, a splash of Chardonnay and Vermouth would work.)

With the wine in the pan, stir up the little bits of onion left with a spatula. Return to low heat and add 1/3 to 1/2 cup beef broth. Add a heaping half teaspoon of Summer Savory (if you can't find, use extra thyme), a bay leaf,  a pinch of thyme, 1/4 heaping teaspoon fresh ground pepper and a dash of salt. Simmer on low to medium low until reduced to 1/4 cup of liquid (by the time the potato is done, it should be ready).

While this simmers, shred just shy of a half cup of Gruyere cheese and also cut four thin slices (about an inch by 4 inches) of cheese for the top of the potato. Add the shredded cheese to the onion mixture. Reserve the strips. Mom used a really good quality Swiss Gruyere.

At an hour, remove potato from oven and turn oven to broil, positioning the top rack two rungs down. Cut off a thin wedge off the top of the potato and then scoop the potato flesh out of the potato as well as the little bit of flesh from the top piece, which you won't need. Mix the potato flesh with the broth over low heat (bay leaf removed and any extra broth removed with a spoon if you think after simmering it's more than 1/4 cup). Add onion mixture to wine infused broth and potato mixture. Mix with a spoon until combined and creamy with the cheese starting to melt. You can add additional salt and pepper to taste (I didn't think it needed it). Spoon the mixture back into the potato carefully. It will be more than the potato will hold, so you end up with a nice little Mt. McKinley of potato goodness on the top.

That potato summit then will be conquered by the strips of cheese which you will lay across the top of the potato in a small baking dish. Place the dish in the oven under the broiler and broil the potato until the cheese is melted and starting to brown (watch carefully, better light gold than burnt). Top with a sprig of fresh thyme and serve with a green salad.

Try not to make those little noises when you eat it. It makes the neighbors wonder.

click to enlarge

Thursday, November 10, 2016

For Lexi's Mom - a Poem for the Dog and One for their Human

For My Dog 

I've loved a dog in numerous form, in formless way
in day upon day, in age upon age.
Til I could not breathe another sigh, a tear
til stopping to take the love you gave me.
My hopeful heart remaking a collar of broken hopes
that you took as a gift,wearing around your neck
in numerous form, and in formless way.

I read those tales of dogs gone before, pages of age-old pain
family torn apart and separated by time
I learned to love in their past, and took hope in you
bathed in the bright that pierces the darkness of such days
Your light illuminates what is remembered always.
for you and I have traveled those waters that flow from the earth
at the core of time, the love of dog and his human

We have journeyed and danced alongside hundreds of days
we've shared slow sweetness of meeting, the tears of farewell
Ancient devotion, in new shape renewed forever.
today it's curled up at my feet, it's ended in you.
The loving companion of all my days, both past and always
the memories of all of you merge with this one of ours
and the joy of happy barks, past and forever.

Before I knew your name or your face
you were with me, in spirit, in shapeless flame.
Still with me now, in limitless space
your nearness still warm in the air.

What time I have in the passing of the night
you will also pass, somehow, somewhere
beside me in numerous form, in formless way.

You are my dog, and I am your human
and our tale is as old as time.

LB Johnson

For My Human

I love you 
is it time for supper yet?

Abby Lab

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

It's Election Time!

It's time to vote for our new mayor of Blogville!

Polls are now open at:
Hailey and Zaphod
Zaphod Beeblebrox has been appointed Blogville 2016 Electoral Judge and Oz is Poll Verifier. Both take their jobs very seriously.


-Your blog must have been active within the past 3 months
-Only votes cast between 12:01 am EST and midnight tonight will be counted. If you miss the deadline your vote will be disqualified.
 -You MUST include the name of the candy-date you are voting for AND your blog address so Oz and Zaphod can verify you (it is your Blogville ID because they don't have time to sniff everyone's bums)
- Oz and Zaphod will tally the votes, destroy them and then announce the winner. (They hope to do this by Thursday this week but they have 5 days). They will never disclose the final count or who voted for who. They have taken a solemn vow.
Then when you are done, for those of you living in the United States, don't forget to vote for President.