tail thumping

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tail thumper

tail thumper

Thump. Thump. Thump-thump-thump. Thump-thump-thumpity-thump. Whack! Whack-whack! Whack! C.R.A.S.H.

Knowing the difference between a one thump tail thunk and a whackity-whack wallop can rescue dog owners from future calamity. Here are descriptive clues on what each thump and whack really mean….

The ol’ one thump is clearly an insult, the slightest lift of their head, barely acknowledging something might be happening, perhaps an arch of the brow or a twitch of the ear. The effort to investigate is not worth moving from their dog bed of lethargy. You’ve been ignored. This is good. You can return to your baking.

A two or three or four tail-thump is an improvement – they have expanded enough energy to give you several beats of interest before emitting a loooong drawn out sigh. One eye ajar, wavering between going back to snoring or exploring the new development, this tail-thumper is classified as a true put-a-pond sign of disgruntlement. Your dog really doesn’t want to get up to probe but they also don’t want to miss anything. You’re safe. You’ve got a 90% chance dog dreams are more important than rising to sniff out their curiosity. Keep doing what you were doing.

Now a thumpity-thump-thump-thump is heading into the danger zone. Tail speed is kicking up, creating 30 mph winds. Eyes alert, standing at attention, you’ve piqued their interest and you’ve got 100 pounds of torque just waiting for the secret, silent signal to move. Let the cookies burn in the oven. MOVE. You need to divert disaster before it attacks you. The odds have swiftly moved up to a solid 69% chance of rapid canine involvement (RCI). Pay attention. Do. Not. Turn. Your. Back. On. Tail.

The whackity-whack tail whack will put TSA on red alert. Whacks of this type will inevitably bring a loud, vociferous collision of canine tail and object. Beware. Tail-whacking at this velocity can literally cause annihilation of your home. This whack is a weapon of mass destruction. Decorative couch pillows have known to blow up, millions of little white chicken feathers spreading like wild-fire throughout the house. Coffee cups shattered in one swoop of a frantic tail whack. Papers, mail and file folders flown into the air, scattering like blind mice on the run. Do not call 911. You are on your own here. At this point, you’re totally screwed. If you have any cookies left that aren’t burnt, I’d start eating.

COOKIE CRUNCHIES

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg – well beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup corn flakes
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugars, egg and vanilla until smooth. Sift dry ingredients together and add to creamed mixture. Add oatmeal, corn flakes, coconut and nuts. Mix until blended.

Roll into small balls and place 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Houdini

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Berners are the type of dog that want to be with you – – – always.  Where you goeth, they goeth.  If you step outside, they want to be outside with you.  If you need to run to the store, they need to go along with you, riding shotgun in the passenger seat.  They will be out the door and in the car before you’ve begun to search for your car keys.  If you need to use the restroom, they want to follow you.  Walk into the kitchen and paws pitter-patter beside you.  Two perpetual furry shadows, dogging your step.  Shutting the door on their noses only produces sniffing and scratching, amplified by two.

On occasion we elect to keep the girls home.   In the summer, the temperatures are too hot for them to be left in the car without air conditioning and other times, our errands run longer than we want to keep them cooped up in the SUV.    They’ve learned when they may join us for a car ride and when they are staying put, depending on the time of day, the clothes and shoes worn, and if they hear a certain jingle of the car keys.

Early mornings they recognize its “me leaving for work” time.  They follow me into the bathroom and hang while I am getting ready for work.  They walk with me to get the morning paper and follow me around as I pour my “must-have” coffee.  By the time I grab my car keys to drive into town for work, they are already sprawled out napping from their busy morning.  I scratch their ears good-bye as they lift their heads, watching me walk out the door, back asleep before I’ve pulled out of the garage.   They have become skilled at learning the difference between a “slide your foot into a heel” shoe and a “bend over to tie the laces of your hiking boot” shoe.  With the heel, they are accepting of their fate.  Knowing they will be staying home with Gordita, our cat, they have already gone back to what they were doing.  The boot means “WALK”, “RIDE”, or “BOTH”.  Any of which creates pandemonium.   A jingle of the car keys will bring a concerto of joyous high-pitched barking that continues through the process of loading them into the vehicle.

To our dismay, we have discovered there are times when Dolce and Amore have attempted to follow us, ignoring our command to stay.   On one such time, I drove home from work to find Dolce and Amore in the front portal, the front door wide open.   I just assumed Malcolm had opened the door for fresh air.  In reality, Malcolm had walked next door to deliver some misplaced mail.  The girls did not like the idea of being left alone at home, listening to the crunch of gravel as Malcolm walked up the driveway.  Dolce had pawed the dead bolt, unlocking it,  and on the down-swing, her paws hit the handicapped handle, swinging the door wide open.  Freedom.  Thankfully, the half-walls of the portal are too high for them to escape.

Dolce has turned her clever door-opening talent to other doors throughout the house. Back doors, garage doors, closet doors, even shower doors, she opens and shuts doors like a cat-burglar pro.  She stands on her hind legs and uses her front paws to turn the lock.  She then uses her weight to push in the door, gaining entry into the next room.  Should the door shut on her, she repeats the process, and with a descending slide, she hooks her paws on the handle lever and pulls open the door to come back through.  We caution our over-night guests to lock their bedroom door or they might have a four-legged visitor during the night.  Her special ability has forced us take stronger measures against future door openings.  We’ve installed additional hardware, slide locks and hooks, key locks and more dead-bolts, all designed to keep our Houdini dog where she belongs.

Scratch marks and all

Scratch mark evidence

Added hardware

Added hardware

I am thankful this proficiency isn’t genetic and Amore isn’t that smart!  But then, maybe she is – Dolce is the one opening the door for her.

Drooling for DIN-DIN

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drooling for dinner

drooling for din din!

Like clockwork, come 5:00 p.m. the pooches are in pursuit of prying Malcolm away from watching the news to feed them their chow.  They arrive first for a gentle rub, a few scratches around the ear, a pat on the belly.  A sweet, loving reminder to be fed.  If they timed it right, it will be a commercial break, a good time to fill their dog bowls.  If that doesn’t work, they try nudging Malcolm’s elbow, hoping to displace some prized Coke-a-cola poured over shaved ice onto his pants, forcing him to arise to clean up the spilled sticky mess.  Once up, it’s usually a given they’ll be served dinner….

Hopefully.

If the spill-the-coke-on-pants trick doesn’t get a surge out of Malcolm, they move into their next plan-of-attack:  sumo wrestling.  Body slams, shoulder pins, ear grabs, all played within close range of the china cabinet.  You can hear the crystal rattle as the dogs roll under the dining room table, often hitting the cabinet leg.  Uncaring that family heirlooms might break, they tackle each other in their quest to win dominance over the other.  At this point, Malcolm is speeding through the house to halt any further damage and put some food in their bellies to calm the battle…

Usually.

As last resort, and Malcolm still needs prompting, Amore does her race through the house routine, landing on all fours, she slides on the hall rug, getting a free ride into the living room.  Weeeeee, look at meeeee!  Crash!  She resembles a surfer dude riding a big wave.  Dolce has now entered into the melee, barking at Amore, she scares Gordita, our fat cat, into using Malcolm’s leg as a spring-board, claws digging into his thigh to gain purchase as she continues to leap over his shoulder towards a safe haven.  Yep, this will get them their kibbles….

Finally!

Malcolm has 5 minutes to hide the destruction before I arrive home from work.  Dinner just might be late….

Naturally.

PORK & PORT

Try this sauce with beef tenderloin as well!

  • 2 boneless pork  tenderloin, approximately 1 lb. each
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 cups port wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6-8 oz. Stilton cheese

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add pork, browning on all sides.  Transfer pork to a covered roasting pan.

Deglaze skillet with port and reduce by half.  Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Pour over pork and bake at 450 degrees until done, approximately 15 minutes.  Remove pork and keep warm.  Reduce liquid by half and slowly stir in cream.  Cook over medium heat until sauce thickens.  Add Stilton cheese and stir until blended.

Spoon sauce over sliced tenderloin.

Cold!

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DSC01151 The last few days have been bitterly cold. The car thermometer showed single digits on the drive into work, add some wind into the mix and the temp with the wind chill factor is in the negatives.  I feel like Ralphie in the Christmas Story  when we bundle up to take the girls for their walk –  can’t move!  My arms stick out and I have to turn my whole body to see to my left or right.  But the girls looove the cold and the snow, so we persevere and brave the cold, we pile on layers and layers of thick socks, silky thermals, woolen scarves and gloves, ear muffs and heavy snow boots to tread through the snow.  We hike through drifts, slip and slide across icy patches, and break new trails trying to find some virgin snow for the girls to play in.  Dolce loves to make snow angels, Amore just loves the cold.

Our reward at the end of the trail?  If we finish our trek before 5:00 p.m. – we whip up some hot chocolate with some added peppermint liquors .  After 5:00 p.m. and we go for the stronger warming up beverage – Santa Fe Sluggers.

PEPPERMINT & HOT CHOCOLATE

  • 2 Cups milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp. creme de methe liqueur
  • 1 tsp. instant coffee granules
  • 1/2 tsp. Mexican vanilla

Heat milk and salt for the hot chocolate in a saucepan over medium heat and steam is starting to rise.  Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. Continue to heat until just before the mixture comes to a boil.  Ladle into mugs and top with frozen whip cream (see below).

  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 tbsp. pulverized peppermints
  • 1 tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. crushed peppermints

Beat cream, pulverized peppermints and sugar for the whipped cream to stiff peaks.  Pipe or spoon onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Sprinkle with crushed peppermints and place in freezer until firm.  About 20 minutes.

SANTA FE SLUGGERS

  • 1 Cup Freshly brewed strong coffee (I use dark roast)
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 oz. Kahlua
  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (not unsweetened)
  • 6 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp sugar (or more, depending on taste)

Heat coffee, bourbon, Kahlua, chocolate and 2 tbsp. cream in a 1 1/2 quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate has melted.  DO NOT ALLOW to BOIL!Beat remaining 1/4 cup cream with sugar to stiff peaks.  Pour coffee mixture into two large mugs and top with the whipped cream.

 

Santa’s Resolutions

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Holiday Love!

Holiday Love!

I know, I know, its January! Everyone spins some words on the past 365 days and all they accomplished, their travel adventures, job changes and family additions. They write about their plans for the next 365 days with an equal number of bucket list items, check boxes next to their dreams, wishes and hopes. Ever wonder what would be on Santa’s bucket list? What would Santa’s New Year’s resolutions be? What would his travel and vacation plans be for the next year? What would Santa do? What would Santa write about? Umm……?

SANTA’S 2013 TWELVE RESOLUTIONS

  1. It’s January – In one word, January is perfect! January’s resolution is just that – PERFECT. It’s Santa’s Birthday month! A present under the tree unwrapped a cuban and a perfect bottle of Port. A perfect combination for a cold winter’s night, sipped along with a warm, crackling fire, the dogs asleep at my feet, my honey beside me. What could be more perfect! Georgia Tech just stomped USC’s ass in a perfect win at the Sun Bowl! It’s a perfect month to sleep in and take some naps. Yes, January is perfect! Life is perfect!
  2. It’s February – 28 days of love – We all should resolve to spread some of Cupid’s arrows. I hereby resolve to LOVE and be loved. Tiamo arrived in February, loved from the first moment we saw her, stumbling over her front paws as she investigated her new home – from day one, she had us wrapped around every one of her paws. She added much love to our lives, unconditional, unwavering. To be loved is a wonderful feeling.
  3. It’s March – Raise your glass to little men in green and rainbows, pots of gold and lucky charms. We’ll be out West, in California, raising our glass to newly wedded bliss and new beginnings. Toasting to PROMISES.
  4. It’s April – The soft, little green buds bursting out on the barren tree branches to push the cold away, opening to the gentle scent of apple blossoms with the freshness of spring. I met my wife in April and my LIFE has never been the same. Good bye city life! Is not spring about new life? To LIFE!
  5. It’s May – We HONOR our moms, our heritage, our deceased. We honor those who brought us life and those who have passed on. We honor with parades, pinatas, and pinned on flower corsages. We will be honoring our marriage, vows made over ten years ago. We will honor Tiamo, who passed away a year ago. Honor – a special word for those individuals who are in our lives and hearts, and in our memories.
  6. It’s June – ESCAPE! School’s out, vacations starts, summer’s on! Escape with beach reads, Blue Hawaiian’s, sun burns, and summer romances. Dip your toes in the sand, sip a margarita, forget the worries sitting heavily on your shoulders. Enjoy today and tomorrow and all the next days to come. Go ahead, I double-dog dare ya! Yup, it’s time to escape on a cruise, where crystal clear blue waters abound, little pink umbrellas float on my drinks and we can escape life’s troubles and worries.
  7. It’s July – Another celebration, another birthday, another beautiful sunset. Let’s CELEBRATE! Democracy! Monsoon season! Rain! Freedom! 50 + candles on the cake! Company’s coming! Fireworks! Nordstrom’s shoe sale! Yeah, baby! Let’s Celebrate!
  8. It’s August – What was planted in spring is ready for HARVEST. Corn, tomatoes, and squash, lots of squash. Cabbage, radishes and squash, more squash. Peas, onions, squash, squash and leftover squash. Squash omelets, squash casseroles, squash cake. Squash in the salad, squash in the sandwich, squash in the trash – harvest is over.
  9. It’s September – Summer’s end, school is back in session, Labor day weekend is upon us. We labor at work, at home, at life. Tiamo went into labor over Labor Day Weekend, delivering eight little wagging tails. LABOR. The fruits of her labor gave us Dolce and Amore. Labor. Look back at all you have done, accomplished, labored, toiled. Look around you and see the fruits of your labor.
  10. It’s October – Days filled with a nip in the air, nights cooling down to brrrr, it’s cold. Nature’s colors shifting from varying shades of green to bright yellows, burnt oranges, deep reds. October fests and beer fests, ghosts and goblins, Breast Cancer Awareness month. FEEL the changes as the days shorten, the soft leaves falling into brittle brown pieces as they scatter on the ground. Feel life’s tempo slow as it readies for hibernation. Feel each breath taken. Feel the embrace of Fall.
  11. It’s November – THANKS! It’s a given in November. We give thanks for our family, friends, our good fortune. We give thanks for our health, full cupboards and our good luck. We give thanks to our individual gods, our country, our communities. Give thanks to our parent’s children. They deserve it.
  12. It’s December -Ahhh, December, that magical time of the year where snow glistens and children listen. Good cheer is all around us. The little kid in all of us shines bright through smiles and twinkling eyes. A special time when, Malcolm, attired in a red suit, black boots and white beard, and toting a heavy red bag filled with presents and toys, brings wonder and awe to eight little children who still BELIEVE in magic.

What would Santa do? I think Santa would say, “2013 is a perfect year to love and to promise, to honor life’s joys. 2013 is a perfect year to escape our troubles, our problems, our heartaches and celebrate the harvest of our labors. 2013 is a perfect year to feel our thanks and not just say them. 2013 is a perfect year to believe in the magic.”