Saturday, August 31, 2019

Dog Warning Signs

I took a short walk this afternoon, as a small package had mistakenly been left on my porch instead of a house a few houses down, where it was meant to go.  The wind had blown my screen open so the actual address wasn't visible. and the guy in the little delivery van most have just "guessed".

No worries - I got the package dropped off.  But on the way home, at a house a few doors down where there are several small children, a new sign was in the  front window.


I wondered at that as I wouldn't imagine they'd get a large, aggressive dog with a couple of children under the age of 4.  The dog they did have got out once and barked at Abby and when she barked back the dog RAN. . . .  YIP YIP YIP YIPYIPYIP back to the safety of the yard. Once, when my husband was out in the yard, and it ran free, it barked at him, he stomped his foot and YIP YIP YIP YIPYIPYIP back to the safety of the yard.

I saw one of the kids out playing in the backyard with his big brother, and said "did you get another dog"?

"No  - it's the same one, Mom just got the sign to warn people".


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

4 Month Gotcha Day

We've had Lorelei 4 months now after adopting her as a "breeder release" through Chicagoland Lab Rescue.  I think she has settled into our home (and our couch) quite nicely.  Abby Lab just loves her.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Let Them Eat Pancakes

When I was a kid, sometimes we'd have pancakes for dinner. It was usually when the household budget was tight. My Mom quit her 13-year career as an LEO to be a full-time Mom, and Dad took a lesser paying position that allowed him to be home every night. Sacrifices I know we benefited from. Certainly, I remember those dinners and the laughter and the love that lived in the house 24 and 7, more than any brand new bike I didn't get.

My brothers and I loved pancake night. Dad would grumble a little. . unless there was Bacon. Bacon I think could solve any problem. World peace. Through Bacon. Oh wait, well maybe not, but it sounds like a plan.

With or without bacon, I can sit and eat pancakes and watch the sun go up or down and the taste will take me back.

Sometimes Mom would make two kinds. Sourdough and regular. Or some with nuts and apples along with buttermilk ones.

Little bits, little bites to try them all. Dad would finally relax after a long stressful day at work, and we'd tell the tales of our day and small childhood victories. For these breakfasts for dinner, no worries about money, or rent or the future. Simply bites of life shared with those you love. I'd savor one flavor, even while anticipating the next, savory, sweet, maybe nutty, the golden disks disappearing like coins well spent. I was never able to figure out which taste I wanted to end with, one taste of time that was almost too sweet to bear, or that which was so dense that I would remember it always.This morning, a simple pancake of cornmeal and flour with berries added in. .
But what to do with the leftover batter? (as it makes much more than one person would eat). Pour it in a paper muffin cup and bake in a pan, sprinkled with some Ghirardelli chocolate chips.

Small portable bits of goodness to freeze or tote with a thermos of coffee to the workplace. I give you Puffins.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Saturday Smiles


I think SOMEONE is Comfy!

I looked up from reading a book and Abby (Sorry that should have been Lorelei) was Sound asleep with her back legs up in the error.  She didn't even budge when I got the camera.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Rainbow Bridge Warrior - Sherman's Tale

My Brown Newfies Mom - who has quietly been part of Blogville for a long while lost her dog Sherman this week, very unexpectedly.  He was raised with his Newfie Bro Leroy and she was really worried how he would react to the loss.

She posted this on Facebook and it made me laugh as well as cry (a lot).  I used to live in the part of the country they do so the accent totally cracked me up.

Get your Kleenex handy and scroll down to "message from Leroy".

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Take Your Dog to Work Day

But why can't we go to "work" with you?
We can eat all the food that everyone forgets in the back of the lunchroom fridge.

We can bark at people from the guard shack that we don't recognize.

We can sniff the packages that come through the x-ray machine in the lobby.

We can help the attorney's in the building and then bill in dog hours.

We can do undercover investigations.
We can work in tech support and delete your cookies and carefully check the SPAM.

Save on janitor costs:  No more crumbs on the floor.

Need that report, another coffee pod or a pen?  Can you say "fetch".
We can "think outside the box".

Meetings won't last too long because I have to go "out!"

then "in". . . . then "out".

We can be part of trials and hearings.

When the boss says "you really dropped the ball" I can go find it!

You can get rid of the shredder.

Drool can get rid of most desk food stains.

Food taster. That cheeseburger from the secret squirrel cafeteria look a little sketchy?  I can try it first to make sure its safe to eat.

You already have a "lab" at work, what's two more.
and finally:

Squirrel interrogatories!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Posts From the Road

The hum of the tires on the pavement is soothing, mile markers going past me like years.

I don't have to drive in to "work" every day, like many in offices, do. Often I fly out and am gone for days, sometimes weeks. But I enjoy the drives in when I make them, often in the dark, before the roads are busy.

I've made most of my vacation drives by myself, though a friend from college and I recently drove across half the country in a couple of days, to visit our families who lived in the same area. I remember when we pulled into the subdivision where one of my relatives had moved, I'd only been there once, and I got lost in all the streets, each bearing the same name but with a different ending. Magnolia Lane, Magnolia Drive, Magnolia Trail (that's not confusing), etc. I had a map printed from Mapquest out but it was ignored in the back seat. My gal friend said "uh. . you want to grab that map" and I was "no. . I'll get it, this looks familiar" as we got further lost. She says again, "say, how about that map behind you" and I responded, "nope, I'm sure this is it". She started laughing and said "OMG. You're a GUY! You don't want to ask for directions."

If I'm alone, sometimes I watch other drivers. On one truck a NRA sticker with an older fellow driving. When I came abreast of him, the driver looked at me, expecting some sort of liberal stare down but I just gave him a smile. When he pulled past me and saw MY stickers he gave me a friendly wave. Speeding past us both, a young girl, driving 20 over the speed limit in the construction zone, as she tossed what appeared to be three days worth of lunch bags and trash out onto the roadway, cups, bags, everything.

People often drive as they think, modestly, slowly, recklessly. Some move in and out of traffic with the brisk efficiency of a surgeon, others, shyly and with hesitation, invite themselves out to dinner with the Reaper. Myself, I just roll along, not faster than anyone, not slower than anyone, not wanting to stand out, simply watching the centerline break underneath of the vehicle.

When I tell people that I sometimes drive to the Rockies to visit family there they look at me like I'm daft. "You can fly there in an hour". Yes, I can. but I like that time to myself, no schedule, no commitments. When I get hungry I stop and eat. When I get tired I find a quiet, clean place to sleep. If I want to stop and look at the world's largest ball of yarn, no one is going to tell me "sorry, that flight has already left the gate." Though I still wonder about some gas station bathrooms. Why do they lock them? Are they afraid someone might break in and clean them?

As we travel through life we often pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that we blow right by it. As adults, we usually fail to stop and just look at what we have right here as we pass by it, things are hidden by the layers of indifference casually tossed on us by others, dreams gathering dust while we toil to somehow make our world conform to what we are told it's expected to be. And everything in a hurry. Maybe it's the specter of mortality, maybe it's just this new generation of entitlement that's trying to nudge common sense out of the way, but people seem to expect things they've never earned.

I'm not sure why I enjoy the slow and hard look at things. Perhaps it's just the process of becoming slowly born that are those years leading up to middle age. Perhaps it's what I do for a paycheck. Maybe it was all the hours hiking up into mountains of the West as I grew up. You really learn to appreciate the slowness, the detail, the stillness of a day in the outdoors. The ascent may be hours or it may be days, but with a compass and a few tools, you simply gather your wits around you and head uphill. What you expect to greet you is up ahead of you, even when you can't see it. It's there in the blue, and it only remains for your body to reach it. Patience, one blister, one tear, at a time.

The wilderness gives you time, for the wild, though changing, is still eternal. That's what long road trips are like for me. I keep the horizon in my window but still look back, savoring the journey. The tumbled landscapes of glacier stone, and great pristine rivers, thin as a strand of pearls as I travel on past. It's time, my time, filled with the immaculate sameness of hours bathed in the sun's warm honey. Anything that really requires detailed thought, the engine setting, a scan for traffic, occurs in brief, unhurried intervals. The miles roll by with the thoughts, miles of tears, of laughter I've not known since youth, of love, of mechanical, rhythmic memories of the past that I carried with me as I started this journey.

Those memories are not always happy ones, which is part of the trip you will make. As the miles flow past, you realize that when you are young, no one really tells you the truth about love, about life. About coming into your heart and your strength and what it means when you realize what you have beneath you.

When my friend and I took that trip, after heartbreak for both of us, we finally talked about many things we never had. Sure, we'd shared many a cup of coffee and a beer discussing past dates from hell over the years (what do you mean you have guns? Eeekk!), kids, parents, coworkers, and dog hair. We'd talked about old loves, about the hopes for a new one. Like old friends, we hadn't really talked about those things that seemed obvious.

Talking matter of factly about such things seemed banal, like proving a right angle or finding the equal distance between two lives but it felt good for us to share our joys and our griefs on that drive. The two-lane highway rose slowly out of the Plains as I tried to navigate through words that carried with them both joy and pain, holding me back like the weight of a dead end. So we talked, not in a great gush of words, but as friends do, in small bits of ourselves spread out on the table like show and tell of things that troubled us, those hurts that built up over years of living. The miles and hours flew past, fields clutching onto the skeletons of flowers that long ago died, of bare, windswept trees, and clusters of burrs that stick to everything with a tiny pinprick of pain. Things were sticking to us both.

All that was left was the words; and they flowed, like the laughter and the tears, until I opened the window to let the wind dry my face. Wind that would carry those old hurts to where they would simply bounce off the landscape like a piece of discarded trash, delicate, crumpled tissue best left to be disintegrated by time. Better left behind as the sun began to relax on what would be a renewed journey; the road pulling away from discarded thought, the highway lines breaking up like Morse Code as we moved forward. Moved away from that painful past, those roads best not traveled, till it was just a speck in the rearview mirror.

My friend has found her happiness, and I've found mine, nothing left but the memories that I'm making now, moving on into new skies, open roads. Time ticks past as the diorama of life unfolds in the window up ahead, the rush of the world, fast food, fast life, suspended for a few hours. The truck still moves on, this time to find a place to rest for the night and I do, cleansing myself of blood and bone and the grime of the day. The hotel room has all the ambiance of a dental lab and I can't help but wish I was instead at hunting camp, sleeping under a fluttering tent, canvas murmuring to the whispers of the rain.

As I lay there, I think of Heraclitus, of whose writings are only left fragmentary remains, who said it better than I, expressing the nature of reality as a flux in words, the way I'd express them in motion today.

The rule that makes
its subject weary
is a sentence
of hard labor.
For this reason
change gives rest.

Sometimes it's time for a change of landscape, of thinking, a journey forward. No agenda but to see the day transfolded before you up ahead. You need those moments alone, those miles of the open road, miles of the open sky.

Those times of solitude, for souls like us, are simple moments of inwardness. In our simple code of life, quiet independence stands guard over courage heightened by change. This is our own compass north, that directs our paths, the self in isolation, resolve, honor, emotion, thought and liberty held in like breath until they are amplified within us, becoming direction in life's unhurried journey.

Mark Twain said in Huckleberry Finn "We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened". But I know they were made. Made to serve as tiny points of light to guide a distant traveler back home.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Nostalgia Kitchen Hot to Tot

Cooking for me isn't just food, it's nostalgia.  Many of my earlier memories are of my Mom in the mid/late sixties in the kitchen making most things from scratch but still spoiling us occasionally with such goodies as Kool-Aid, Popsicles, Hostess products, Tater Tots and those little crinkle-cut oven fries which we got only on Friday night with the small steak from the home raised steer, sourdough toast, green beans and orange slices.

I was a big fan of the Tater Tot and as a kid was very disappointed to find out the lyrics to that Christmas Carol was NOT "Tater Tots with their Eyes all Aglow".
Mom had a couple of recipes that were made frequently in our house. One was called "Husband's Delight" that had a mysterious creamy/cheesy layer between two layers of noodles in Italian meat sauce. It was a great way to use up leftover meat sauce and that last couple cups of macaroni or pasta shells in the cupboard.
The second was hamburger and Walla Walla sweet onion fried up and mixed with cream of something and a dash of Worcestershire sauce and topped with tater tots.  It was a typical Lutheran Basement Church Supper dish.

I had a bag of Schwans Crispy Taters (their version of Tots, a bit more expensive, but really good with no dairy or fillers for those so inclined).

What if I combine the tastier elements of both, but instead of an Italian based sauce, make a Sloppy Joe version?

Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Bake (recipe in comments)
Sweet and savory homemade Sloppy Joe sauce with peppers and onions surrounding garlic infused sour cream/cream cheese layer, and topped with crispy tater tots.  It's nothing like Mom made, yet it was delicious and comforting, like the best of "Mom" cooking.  It had a lot of flavor but was mild enough that  kids should like it and won't even notice the extra veggies you stuck in the sauce. If you want to up the spice a bit, just add an extra shake or two of crushed red pepper to the sauce.
I made it for friends who said it was good enough I should share the recipe.
With some veggies as a side dish, it easily feeds six, wasn't hard to make and  was assembled in this case, out of a mish-mash of little bits and pieces in the fridge so it  was relatively inexpensive to make.