the ol’ double-back

Leave a comment

Monday through Friday, while I’m at work, walking the dogs lands on Malcolm’s “to-do” list.  On weekends, we share the adventure.  Occasionally, I’ll find a friend willing to fore-go sleeping in on their day off to join me, giving Malcolm a break, but usually its the two of us.  We like to take the girls out to the Galisteo Basin Preserve for their exercise.  It’s just a few miles down the road, there are several trails to choose from of varying distance and degrees of inclines, and best of all, we can unleash the girls for some free-range running.  Having more time on the weekend, we’ll take the girls for longer, more treacherous treks, hoping to tire them out – we are firm believers in the belief that a tired dog makes for a happy owner.

CIMG6969

scouting for treasure

Home to coyotes, antelope and jack rabbits, the GBP is Santa Fe’s playground.  Along with cactus, deep gorges and arroyos, and dry river beds, the GBP offers epic vistas of the Ortiz and the Sandia mountain ranges.  On occasion, we’ll meet up with other hikers, other dog walkers.  When the skies are blue, mountain bikers pedal past us, taking advantage of the weather, spinning their wide tires through the southwest terrain.  On those same clear, cloudless days, we’ll meet trail riders saddled up, coming down off the mountain, their mounts skittish of the dogs, the girls nervous of the horses.

While Amore and Dolce don’t particularly like horses, they do, especially enjoy the treasures left in their wake.  Horse dung, horse apples, horse shit, fresh or dried from a few days in the baking sun, the scent alone will alter our well-behaved dogs into lying, sneaky little beasts.   Double backing to steal a stinky nugget before we can stop them, our sweet little girls turn into crafty canines at just a whiff of the stuff.  They have perfected the “slow-down-to-a-crawl, get-behind-you, stop-and-wait-for-you-to-get-further-ahead” maneuver to grab and swallow a lump of dung without interruption.  Head hanging low, they immediately have selective hearing and sight.  Our commands to stop are ignored, going unheard.  They turn a blind eye to our presence, dismissing us as an irritating nuisance.   Once swallowed, they go back for seconds, knowing that they only have a few seconds to nab another helping of the equine delicacy, before we are able to put a stop to their trail trickery.

The long-lasting side effects from their horse droppings debauchery affects Malcolm and I, not the girls.  Hours later, back home from our long hike, Amore and Dolce decide to beg for forgiveness, leaning up against us to cuddle on the couch, they lift their heads to give us doggy kisses and licks, their breath reeking of horse manure.  Gentle horse crap burps are released just under our noses, the scent drifting upwards in our direction.  Their steady breathing emits puffs of rank horse odor with each exhale of oxygen.

The ol’ double-back trick on the trail has double-backed on us, hours later!

Galisteo Granola

An ideal snack when hiking or walking the dogs!

Serve with yogurt, ice cream, sprinkled on pancakes or a smoothie or just snack on by the handful!

  • 6 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup frozen concentrated cranberry juice, thawed
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1 cup dried blueberries
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup minced dried apricots

Preheat oven to 325 F degrees.  Spray a heavy rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray.  Combine oats, almonds, coconut, pecans, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds in a large bowl.

Combine cranberry juice concentrate, brown sugar, butter, honey, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and all spice in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring until brown sugar dissolves.  Pour hot syrup over oat mixture, stirring to coat evenly.  Spread mixture out on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake until golden brown at edges, about 25 minutes, stirring the mixture periodically.  Add cranberries, using a metal spatula to blend.  Bake until granola is beginning to dry, stirring occasionally, about 10-15 minutes longer.  Cool for 15 minutes.  Add blueberries, raisins and dried apricots.  Stir until completely blended.  Cool completely on baking sheet.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks.

kitchen clatter

3 Comments
ahhh, we didn't eat that much!

ahhh, we didn’t eat that much!

With the of loud swoosh of the refrigerator door opening,  Amore and Dolce are immediately on the alert to kitchen activity.  The clink of condiment jars rattling against each other as the door swings open, informs them of a possible treat or nibble of something good.  The crinkling of plastic is blatant advertising of cheese or maybe carrots.  The un-snapping of a plastic lid translates to yogurt or sour cream.  From the living room, the girls can decipher if the clanking noise is Malcolm reaching in to grab his Ice Tea pitcher or if the crackling sound is some cheddar cheese being placed on the kitchen counter for slicing or grating.

They can verify the difference between the opening of the frig door and the freezer, between the lifting of the treat jar lid and the spare change cover, between the squeak of the cupboard and the drawer.  Their ears can define a broccoli chop vs. an onion cut, a carrot slice vs. celery stick.  The sound of the knife against the chopping block as it cuts through the veggie announces how quickly the girls will start sniffing around the kitchen.  They love broccoli and carrots, can’t have onions, and are so-so with celery.

Amore immediately runs in to investigate.   Nose to the floor, sniffing out the latest crumb, Amore is determined to gobble it up before Dolce has a chance to.  Dolce, on the other hand,  waits on the couch, head tilted, eyebrows cocked, her little mind working to interpret the sound coming from the kitchen.  Dolce is more discerning.  She wants to know the clatter is worth the effort of movement.  An apple wedge, a cheese cube or a carrot stick will haul her off the couch and into the kitchen in three seconds.  Or, if she hears Amore chomping, she can be there in two.  The jangle of the silverware drawer doesn’t even merit a head lift from her soft pillow.

I would have to say cheese is their absolute favorite.  Even Bleu Cheese.

MAC N’ CHEESE N’ CHEESE

  • 3 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 12 bacon slices, chopped
  • 3 cups fresh, coarse breadcrumbs (may use Ritz cracker crumbs as a substitute)
  • 1 cup finely grated Asiago Cheese
  • 1/2 chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 cup  Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 cups grated Fontina Cheese
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp. coarse-grain mustard

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter a 13x9x2 inch casserole dish.  Cook macaroni pasta in boiling water per package directions, until just tender but still firm to bite.  Drain, rinse and drain again.

Cook chopped bacon in a heavy skillet until crisp.  Transfer bacon and 1/4 cup bacon drippings to large bowl.  Add breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup Asiago cheese, and 1/4 cup parsley with bacon and toss until blended.

Add minced garlic and jalapeno to remaining pan drippings in skillet and saute over medium heat until fragrant.  Add flour and whisk 3 minutes.  Gradually add in whole milk, then add egg yolks, cayenne, dry mustard, salt and pepper.  Cook until mixture thickens, whisking constantly.  Add 2 cups of the Fontina Cheese, Cheddar cheese, remaining Asiago cheese and stir until cheeses melt.  Remove from heat.  Mix in macaroni, coarse-grain mustard, remaining parsley and the last of the Fontina Cheese.  Transfer macaroni mixture to prepared dish.

Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over macaroni .  Bake just until topping is golden about 15-20 minutes.

(Can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to bake)

If a little is good, then, a lot is better.  Trust me.  Always add a little more butter and a lot more cheese!

100 lb. lap dog

4 Comments

When our litter of Berner puppies were barely two days old and just under two pounds each, we bundled them up in a padded, warm carrier, and along with mamma, brought them in to the vet’s to have their dew claws removed. If removed in the first week of life, dew claws are still soft like a fingernail and can be removed relatively easily with no stitches required.  I sat in the back seat to keep an eye on the pack as Malcolm drove into town to the clinic.  Tiamo kept an eye on me,  not trusting and unsure of the process, she was an anxious mamma, agitated we were moving her pups.  Three hours later we were back home, the lit’ tykes happily nursing, Tiamo calm now that she had her puppies under her care.

Dibs on the front seat

Dibs on the front seat

Eight weeks later we brought them back to the vet’s for their first set of shots – DHPP which includes Distemper, Parvo, Parainfluenza, and Heartworm prevention.  Malcolm had prepped the SUV, back seats laid down and lined with a tarp for “accidents”, he loaded up eight roly-poly, tail-wagging, wiggling puppies, each weighing from the low-to-high twentys’, into the car.  To the puppies, it was their first official car ride, a new adventure in a new setting.  With Malcolm driving, I rode shotgun, half-turned in my seat to keep an eye on the little souls.  Eight little noses immediately started sniffing and exploring the inside of the car.  Tails straight up, their little noses wrinkling as they would catch an unfamiliar new scent, they searched out every nook and cranny in the car.  Dolce was the first explorer to find her way up into the front seat territory.  She started with two white-capped paws on the hard plastic console, wobbling between the padded edge of the back seat and the middle arm rest as she tried to advance.  Stretched out and stuck fast, I caught her just as she was about to do a backwards tumble into the black hole called the floor and placed her on my lap.  Safe and secure, she nestled in between my legs, occasionally standing to peek out the window, only to plop back down on my lap with a contented sigh.  It was the start of Dolce’s fascination with the front seat and sitting on my lap.

Bigger and heavier by many pounds, by week twelve, most of the puppies had left for their new homes, leaving Amore and Dolce, the two puppies we kept.  It was time for another round of shots, their DHPP booster and their Bordetella, Lepto and Lyme vaccines, requiring another trip to the vet’s.  Once again, Malcolm folded the back seats down, laid a tarp over the back-end and loaded up the girls.  As they muscled their way around the car, excited to be on another car ride, I climbed into the passenger seat.  I had barely clicked my seat-belt when a cold wet nose nudged my elbow.  Wiggling under my arm, Dolce had barreled her way onto my lap.  35 pounds of determined canine snuggled up on my lap, her paws hanging over my knees, her tail happily whacking Malcolm as he drove.  Dolce had found her spot – my lap.

As Dolce and Amore continued grow, so did their love of travel.  Using the 65 rule, the equation is simple:  6 months old = 65 lbs. = 65 mph.  =  a 65 minute trip in the car + Dolce sitting at a sixty-five degree angle on my lap.  As soon as they hear the car keys jingle, they are out the door and in the car, with Dolce readily claiming dibs on the front.  All under 6.5 seconds.  I’d have to scoot Dolce over just to sit down, she’d wait for the click of the seat-belt and be right back on my lap two seconds later.  There is no such thing as “sneaking out” to go to the store.  Words such as “CAR”, “STORE” and “TOWN” have to be spelled out or written down.  At 65 pounds, Dolce does not fit on my lap.  Though uncomfortable and cramped, she is bound and determined to park herself between the console and the passenger door with me sitting underneath.  There are times when I purposely sit in the back seat, allowing Dolce full acreage on the front seat.

Full grown at 98 pounds, Dolce still wants to sit with me – scratch that – on me,  in the passenger seat.  Head scrunched down, rear end sitting on the arm rest, paws dangling down to the floor board, drivers passing us look with open mouth awe as they look through into the front window and see the sight.  A 100 pound lap dog as happy as can be.

Sibling Rivalry

3 Comments

Siblings.  At 10 years old,  older and younger brothers and sisters are the bane of our existence.  The natural pecking order decrees, the older sibs pick on us and the younger ones, by nature of being the littlest, bug us.  By the time we’re 25, those same unbearable beasts are our best friends.  The years in between are layered with childish fights over who is Granny‘s favorite, who got the bigger slice of apple pie and cries of “am-so-am-not’s”!  Years that are peppered with spats over who received better grades, scored higher on a test and was most popular at school.  Throughout is the underlying rivalry of ‘besting them’, a thin whisper of competitiveness threaded between siblings to do just as well, if not better.  To out-score, out-smart and out-win the beast from our younger years.

IMG_6984

Sibling shoe spats

Though poles apart in personality, talent and smarts, Amore and Dolce do share one thing in common – sibling rivalry.  They know if they have been slighted, if one receives an extra indulgence over the other, when the other is benefiting from special attention, and whether or not they have been left behind from a trip in the car.  Their competitiveness kicks in as they jockey for position to sit next to me on the couch for their nighttime loving.  Dolce especially, as she backs into the pocket between the couch pillows and my side, scooting closer and closer against me as Amore attempts to come around by the back of the sofa to divide, separate and conquer.  Jealousy takes over if one of the girls is getting all the petting and belly rubs.  Nose nudging the elbow to disrupt the canine massage, they will manuever their furry head to steal some ear-scratching pleasure.

If one has a toy, the other one wants it.  Not to chew on, just to know that they can take it away.  Dibs on the pooch pillow is ignored, losing their favorite spot if they  leave their warm perch to go outside.  All of a sudden they are mathematicians, counting the exact number of treats, to the last kibble given and to whom, and know if an additional delicious nugget was dropped and caught by the other.  On leash, Amore takes the lead, her nose just inches past Dolce’s, but ahead none the least.  Going to the store, Dolce is riding shotgun no matter what, at no matter what cost.  Amore can out run, out race her sis.  Dolce out-smarts and out-wits her litter mate.  On occasion, we’ll hear a low growl, the start of a sibling squabble, resulting in a pout from Amore or a yelp from Dolce.  Just as quick, its forgotten, the toy ignored.

At four years old, Amore and Dolce are best buddies’, side by side.  They share their food but not their treats.  Amore pulls ahead on walks, Dolce grabs the front seat on trips.  Both can do the math.