Friday nights

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Friday. 5:00 p.m.  Time to close up shop.  Time to shut down the computer, turn off the copier and printer.  Time to head home to the hubby and dogs and start the weekend.

About two years, on a Friday in early summer, I was doing exactly that, shutting off lights and grabbing my keys to head out the door, when the phone rang, a distraught member on the line, frantic that their entire brokerage was unable to access the forms library.  To a REALTOR, this is bad –  really bad –  especially with the weekend looming in the background.  I dropped back down into my office chair and began damage control.  It was two hours later before I was able to correct their “user” error.  In the middle of their crisis, I phoned home to let Malcolm know I’d be late and to hold off on dinner.  It had been a long week just made longer, but I was able to keep 200 brokers in business for the weekend.  I locked up the office and headed home……

A half-hour later I walked in the house.  I was tired, hungry and grouchy and there was my sweet, wonderful husband, waiting for me at the door, a blended margarita with salt in his hand, the dogs eagerly awaiting to be allowed to hug me in their welcome home attack, a platter of appetizers (okay, cheese and salami with salsa) sitting on the kitchen counter.  Malcolm grabbed my purse and handed me my drink with orders to go outside and sit on the lounger on the portal.  The girls followed me outside and waited for me to get comfortable.  Once settled, Dolce immediately crawled up on the long wicker lounge, curled up between my legs and put her head on my lap.  Tiamo sat by my side, getting her ears gently rubbed as Malcolm and I caught up on the week’s happenings.  One margarita led to two, cheese and salami ended up being dinner,  we watched the sun set over the Sandia’s while the tension eased and I was able to relax.  Dolce never lifted her head from my lap, Tiamo never left my side.  Amore would amble over every so often throughout the night ensuring all was well.  Malcolm and I talked until well after all the stars were lit and sparkling.  It was one of the best nights ever and the start of our “wine nights”.

The following Friday, I was able to head out for the weekend without any phone calls or delays.  On my drive home from work, I called Malcolm and asked that he uncork a bottle of red wine and pour two glasses, I’d be home soon.  Summers in Santa Fe are gorgeous – it’s our monsoon season, afternoon showers help cool down the day’s heat and create some spectacular sunsets, showing off the colors of the sky as it opens the door to the night.   Malcolm had put together another tray of hor de oeuvres which we nibbled on throughout the night.  We sat outside on the portal, the dogs at our feet, content in hearing our voices as we conversed, sipping on our wine.

We have continued  our Friday night wine nights ever since.  On occasion we invite friends and neighbors over to join us, but mostly it the two us and the girls.  On cold winter nights we will light a fire while we enjoy a warm toddy, Dolce always by my side.  Since Tiamo’s passing, Amore has taken to laying down at my feet, keeping them warm, letting me know she is right there.   She’ll lift her head when she hears a car drive by, check out what’s happening when Malcolm gets up to add another log on the fire and come right back to me, leaning up against my feet.   Eventually, she’ll roll over and start to snore, relaxed and at ease.  I believe the girls enjoy the evenings as much as we do.   I believe they hear the cadence of our voices, the low tones of our words and know their family is all right.  All’s well.

Start your own Friday night tradition with these Blackberry – Poblano Margaritas.  The deep purple color is a stunner!

Blackberry – Poblano Margaritas

  • 3 tbsp fresh blackberries (ok to use frozen berries)
  • 2 tbsp finely diced poblano peppers (seeds and membrane discarded)
  • 2 oz silver tequila
  • 1 1/2 oz Cointreau

Muddle the blackberries and poblano peppers in a cocktail shaker.  Add a tablespoon of superfine sugar if the berries need a little sweetening, at this point.  Add the tequila, Cointreau and ice and shake.  Strain into two margarita glasses filled with ice.

May substitute with raspberries, blueberries or a combination of berries.  To avoid pulp or seeds in your glass, strain before serving.

 

 

 

 

WINK, WINK!

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DSC01111 Amore is our mischief-maker.  She is  85% imp, 15 % jokester and comedian.  Full-blooded Bernese Mountain Dog, full-thottle prankster, and full-of-it canine with a sneaky smile to match.

From day one, Amore has been  our trouble-maker.  She was the first to crawl out of the whelping pen, creating a mass ascension with her seven siblings, following in her paw steps.   She was the first to bark, yelp and whine, producing a chorus of noise, usually at night, usually late at night and usually with all her litter mates!  She was and still is the first to gobble up her chow, then proceeding over to Dolce’s bowl to impose a  feeding tax on any leftovers.   She was Tiamo’s first pick, the only puppy in the litter Mama loved to play with.  Amore was the first to discover the dog door, quickly learning if she went through the swinging flap, there was a bite of raw hamburger on the other side.  While a great training tool, the first night, she went back and forth through the doggie door for an hour straight looking for her treat.  At 2:00 a.m. we stumbled with barely opened eyes to the frig and found more ground burger to give her.  For the next week, that dog door was her best friend.

Amore loves to tease Malcolm.  When it’s time to load up in the car for a ride, she runs straight to the tailgate, fakes to the left before the jump in, swinging around the vehicle and on to the back field at a full run.  She’ll wait for Malcolm to come around the corner of the house before sprinting around the other side.  The cat and mouse game continues until Malcolm tires of walking around the house and Amore realizes she might be left at home.

I’ll never forget the first and only time I let Amore walk with me up to the road to retrieve the morning paper without a leash.  5:30 in the morning, pitch black skies with the sun still hiding in the far east, Amore takes off after a cotton-tail.  She recognized her freedom – the chase was on.  I tried everything to get her to return to me.  She would get within 10 yards and stay just beyond my reach.  I knew I needed to out trick the trickster.  Somewhere I had read to lay down on the ground and play opossum. In my skirt and high heels, I laid down on the gravel driveway with the Santa Fe New Mexican as my pillow.  I waited.  Amore waited.  One minute seemed like twenty, I heard the crunch of her paws on the gravel, I waited, eyes closed.  I felt a cold nose on my cheek and then several wet sloppy dog licks all over my face,  Amore checking to see if I was ok.   I grabbed her collar, refusing to let go of our 100 pound bunny chaser.  I gazed up at her and I swear I saw her wink at me.  She knew all along my intentions.  My golden moment of euphoria, having “won” the game, having outsmarted and outmaneuvered a canine comedian crumbled like broken chips at the bottom of the Frito bag.

That wink says it all.  With a twinkle in her eye, Amore is our prank-pulling pooch.   Her goofy grin, her playful antics, her doggy humor, her canine pranks, Amore has perfect timing with her delivery.  She knows the exact moment when to nose-nudge your elbow as you raise your glass of wine to take a sip.  She knows the exact moment when you go to sit on the couch and she beats you to your spot, then rolling over onto her back so you can’t pull her off the cushions.  She knows the exact moment when to rub up against you as you are leaving to go to an important meeting in your wool suit and you don’t have time to change out of your now dog-haired attire.  She knows the exact moment you are done fluffing the blankets and pulling up the bed covers as you prep for sleep, so she can jump up on the bed and curl up on your favorite down feathered pillows.

She knows the exact moment when to send you a wink and a smile, a grin and a chortle, reminding you not to take life so seriously.  She knows her doggy grin will get her out of trouble and her adorable canine chortle will let her stay on the bed.  Our winkster, Amore!

The Buddy Gang!

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Shoulder to shoulder

Malcolm has a group of friends he has known since grade school – over 50 years of friendship and camaraderie.  Known among themselves as the Buddy Gang, their bonds of friendship has survived and grown throughout high school, college, marriages, kids, jobs and Saturday night poker games.  One or two members of the gang has moved out of the country, one or two has moved out-of-state.  Most have stayed in Atlanta, separated only by asphalt with yellow-dotted strips and  divided only by the Tech-Bulldog game. Game day is a bevy of phone calls, dog jokes and yelling at the television.   By 4th quarter, the Lipton Onion soup dip with Ruffle Potato Chips and the Pale Ale beer has been reduced to a messy bowl, an empty chip bag and several drained bottles. If Tech wins, it’s a good day in Santa Fe – when the Dawgs conquer, I get to hear about it for days, those bastards!

Gray hair and lack of hair is the beta test for growing older, wrinkles and beer bellies are now the norm.    Not only are their jokes locational and generational…. ERGER!  The repeated stories of their glory days and youth have grown longer and a bit more fictional.  On occasion, an old girl friend’s name rises to the surface of conversation, classmates are remembered, past teachers are read about in the obits.  Hot chicks and cold beer have been replaced with chicken wings and a slighty chilled Chardonnay, a night out at the pub has become less expensive, arriving home earlier in the night,  wire-rimmed 1.50+ readers adorn their foreheads instead of headbands and Malcolm’s rockin’ Volkswagen bus is now a Toyota Prius.  Life has brought a multiple of changes to each one and yet, their friendship remains intact, solid and strong.  Unbreakable.  Undeniable.

Birthdays bring a round of emails and drinks full of best wishes and good cheer.  The youngest member of the gang reminding his elders of which they will always older.  A death in the family brings a shoulder, a hug, and a reality check to all of what matters most.

Emails and Skype connect the distance in their lives – phone calls and visits bring them together.  On the rare occasions when they are all together at one time, the conversation is reminiscent and loud… really loud!  An outsider would never know they hadn’t seen each other in months, or in some cases, years.  They pick up right where they left off, months and years later, pounds heavier.  Even with miles and time between them, there isn’t a doubt in any of their minds that the others are there for them and each other. A lifetime of friendship.  A friendship that lasts a lifetime.

Nelson, Murrey, Josh, Michael, Ken, David & Malcolm –  Shoulder to shoulder, the buddy gang will be friends for life.

 

 

 

 

Hell bent for leather!

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Hell bent for leather!

Amore loves to run.  She runs just for the hell of it.  And, when she knows it walk-time, she is besides herself with excitement.  She knows she’ll get to run.  Amore knows when we put on our hiking boots, its run time.  Amore and Dolce are out the gate and into the car in three seconds flat.  They can cut the load-up time in half if the tailgate on the SUV is already down and the truck is backed up to the gate.  We like to take the girls out to the Galisteo Basin for their daily walk.  There are some great hiking trails and the two love to chase jackrabbits and cottontails.  It’s quiet, not a lot of people know about the preserve and we’re able to let them run off leash without worrying.

Of the two, Amore is our scout when on the trail.  She’ll run ahead of us, looking for movement of any kind.  Birds, lizards, horny-toads, she is off like a shot when her attention is grabbed. She gets about 50 yards ahead, looking back at us to ensure we’re still a comin.  A couple years ago, we started training them to return at the call of a whistle.  We would reward them with a treat when they hustled back to us, making them sit before they received their prize.  Amore picked up on the game quickly – knowing there was a treat to be had, she would run full throttle back (without being called) and sit at our feet waiting for her treat.  If we didn’t give her the goods, she would stand in front of us and not let us pass, determined to get her nibble.  One time, just as we were starting out on our hike,  Amore ran past us up the path. looped around a Pinon tree that was  only 10 yards ahead and came back in a hurry.  She sat down and gave us that look that said, “see-how-good-I-am-now-give-me-my-treat”!

Now Dolce, she is smarter and wiser.  She usually trots behind us, letting Amore get a ways up the trail.  When we blow the whistle, she is already in place, siting on her haunches, waiting.  She has figured out she has a 50/50 chance she just might get an extra bite in before Amore arrives back.  And, smart dog that she is,  she usually does get that extra treat!  Dolce is our sniffer.  She likes to lollygag her way through our trek.  She’ll stop to smell who’s been by, sniff every low hanging branch and leaf, check out what wildlife has been through and leave her scent on every weed and bush.  She is especially crafty when it comes to eating something she’s not suppose to.  She’ll hang back just far enough that she’s able to nab a horse apple before you can call her on it.  Horse crap on a dog’s breath is NOT pleasant!

Malcolm and I pay the price on those weather-ridden days the girls don’t get their walk.  Two dogs, full of energy,  cooped up in a house is not a good scenario.  Shoes go missing, toilet paper gets shredded, rugs are in disarray.  Then the sumo wrestling starts – body slamming and tail-chasing is not an indoor sport.  Leap frog is the next entertainment and the competition is fierce.  Dolce has the lead in jumping.  Amore wins hands down on speed.  They are two for two for most creative crashes.

Like those parents who tote their children to sports practice at 5:00 in the morning, we drive our “kids” to the basin for their walk.  In the snow, cold and wind, (I won’t walk in the rain) we bring the girls to their special spot of nature and let’em run and sniff to their heart’s content.  The happiness in their eyes is worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

Curfew

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Prior to Tiamo, we had Thugs.  A cat.  A big cat.  A big cat with black tuffs on his ears and beautiful green eyes.  He had gray, white and black swirls on his sides and strips on his tail.  He was a cat that was king of his domain and by gawd,  he knew it.  He was unusual and unique.  Born into a barn cat litter, Thugs was the “bully” of the bunch.  He was a little Thug in the true sense of the word.  As a kitten, he would pounce on his litter mates, playing rough and acting tough.  As an adult cat, he would sit on his perch and give us a look of pure disdain.  Thugs was a great mouser and lizard chaser.  We would find remnants of his hunt on our front door step.  He tolerated being picked up but loved being petted, He mellowed as he aged, he loved to sit on Malcolm’s firm six-pack abs (hee hee) as Malcolm read the New York Times on the couch.  Cold mornings would find him curled up on our down pillows next to us, basking the comfort of the blanket’s warmth, evenings he would follow us from room to room waiting for us to go to bed.

He was 14 years old when we moved to New Mexico, land of bobcats, coyotes, snakes,  and cactus.  Most felines in New Mexico don’t live much longer than a few years, especially if they sneak outdoors when the back-door gets opened.  Thugs had already outlived his life expectancy for New Mexico by many, many years and now he was now on the bottom tier of the food chain.  But he was savvy and smart and stayed safe and he had a curfew.  We incorporated the 10 and 4 rule.  Thugs could only be outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Luckily, he usually stayed close to the house or napped on the portal.

Thugs wasn’t too happy with us when we brought Tiamo into the family.  He let Tiamo know real quick who was the boss with sharp claws to Tiamo’s curious nose within 5 minutes of being introduced.  Tiamo learned to keep her distance and in the beginning wouldn’t come into the room if Thugs was already there.  Tiamo would sit in the doorway, waiting for Thugs to move far enough away for her to enter.  If Thugs was on the couch, Tiamo would give him a wide berth around, eyeing the distance between cat claws and her nose.  Once Thugs trapped Tiamo in the utility room.  Laying down in the middle of the entryway, Thugs calmly cleaned himself, while Tiamo was nervously trying to figure out how to get around him and out of the room.  Within three months, they were inseparable.  Where Thugs went, Tiamo followed.  At five months, Thugs was strolling underneath Tiamo’s belly and at 9 months we would find them curled up together, Thugs gently purring, Tiamo emitting soft snores as she lay sleeping.  When they both were on the bed, Thugs would knead Tiamo until one of them would tired of the motion and jump off the bed.

At 17, Thugs was still going strong, abet slower, he had some hearing loss, and his vision was less clear.  Tiamo became his protector.  If Thugs was outside, Tiamo was his shadow, following Thugs through the junipers and chamiso, keeping tabs on his whereabouts.  When Thug’s 4 o’clock curfew hit, we would call Tiamo to “go get Thugs”.  Tiamo would round-up Thugs and herd him into the house.  “Find Thugs” was one of Tiamo’s favorite games.  Come close to curfew time and Tiamo would be sitting by the door, tail wagging, eagerly waiting to go “Find Thugs”.

When Thugs was 19 years old, he was too old to be let out.  He slept most of the time but could still jump up on the bed and knead Tiamo.  At 21 years, our little bully was aged and tired.  Eating less, losing weight, Thug’s curfew was up.  He lived to the ripe ol’ age of 21, almost 22 years of age. Twenty-one years!  Amazing!

Thugs was an amazing cat.  Tiamo and Thugs had an amazing friendship.  We should be so fortunate to have a companion to knead.

 

 

 

Sam

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Malcolm and I don’t have children – we have dogs.  Use to be three, now two huge, wonderful, sweet, spoiled brats.  Like most parents with real kids, Tiamo, the first one, was easy to raise and didn’t give us any trouble.  We spent hours training her, socializing her, correcting her, loving her.   Santa Fe is a dog friendly town, permitting canines on leash most everywhere and we took her everywhere that allowed dogs.  Tiamo would sit at our feet while we sat outside eating lunch at cafe’s and bistros. She loved to watch the other patrons, always hoping there might be other dogs around.  She was so well-behaved, little nippers would climb all over her and she loved the attention.  She loved people and other animals, especially cats. Most of all, she LOVED Sam.

Sam was our nephew and was loved like a son.  In many ways, he was the kid we never had.  One freezing cold January day Sam arrived in Santa Fe, shirtless and in flip-flops, for a short weekend visit.  He ended up staying.  He was 23 years, not even a quarter of a century old, and traveling through life, while we were both fast approaching the half-dollar mark and getting ready to slide down the other side.  One week later, Sam moved into our household.  I had someone new to spoil, while  Malcolm had someone new to impart wisdom and advise to.   Not having kids, we loved the fact he came diaper free and with manners.  He was trained.  The three of us became a family.

When Malcolm was turning 50, I surprised him with a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy.  Born on Thanksgiving Day, Tiamo joined our new family when she was 10 weeks old.  We all instantly fell in love with her, especially Sam, although I think he originally saw her as a chick magnet with four legs.  I mean, seriously, what female under 80 and not blind would not fall in love with a Bernese puppy!  Sam took part in Tiamo’s training.  He assisted in walking her, grooming her and teaching her to sit, along with other commands.  When Sam later moved into town, I think he missed Tiamo more than he missed us.  I know Tiamo missed him something fierce.  She would go absolutely nuts when Sam came to visit and wouldn’t leave his side.  Tiamo would have this goofy grin on her face when Sam showed up.  Her eyes would light up and she would prance around, showing off for Sam.  Sam always brought her a treat.  Something special just for her.  It got so, every time Sam came, she would go for the pocket, nosing her muzzle, sniffing for her treat.   Tiamo was the happiest when the four of us were together.  She would grab her toy of the week, gnawing on it while laying at our feet, listening to our voices as we caught up on our lives.  Her family together.

Sam loved the outdoors.  Even on the coldest of days, he and Malcolm would sit outside, watching the sun set, sharing a bottle of wine, discussing life.  They would pull up two wooden rocking chairs to the edge of the portal, facing west, and observe the day’s colors fade from blue to orange to black.  Tiamo at their feet.  They would still be talking as the stars turned on their lights.  Tiamo was content to be with her “boys”.  Some nights, they would light a small fire in the chiminea for warmth.  Other times, they would gently rock their chairs to the cadence of their conversation, low murmurs that eased Tiamo into a soft sleep.   During the summer months, Sam and Malcolm would take Tiamo for midnight walks when it had cooled down from the day’s heat.  Tiamo LOVED Sam.

Five years ago, Sam passed away at the young age of 27.  The first year, after Sam’s death, was the hardest.  Malcolm and I had to re-adjust our family back down to two with a dog.   Along with Tiamo, we had to re-adjust to never seeing Sam again.  We all mourned.  We all missed Sam.  Like barbed wire wrapped around our hearts, we felt every razor-sharp prong squeezing into our sorrow.  Our hearts were sad, bruised and beat up.  The following spring after Sam’s death, I started a memorial garden.  West of our portal, in full view of the day’s end, I planted shrubs and flowers in every color of the sun’s wink good night.  It is a continual work in progress.  I have since laid flagstone, moved the chiminea to the middle of the stonework and added birdhouses and yard art to commemorate the joy of life.  Bright colors surround the garden, flowers edge the stone’s perimeter, pine trees and junipers provide shade and add a wind break.  It has become a happy place.

Five months ago, we had to put Tiamo down.  Cancer.  Heart-wrenching.  Sad.  We had two weeks to prepare for the finality of losing her.  Malcolm chose an area in the memorial garden where Tiamo loved to lay while Sam and Malcolm solved the world’s problems.   He started to dig her burial plot.  As Malcolm dug, Tiamo laid by the deepening hole and watched, silently giving us her acceptance of what was to come.   She was ready.  We buried Tiamo in her favorite spot, shaded by junipers and surrounded by color.  She is deeply missed.

I would like to believe Sam and Tiamo are in their happy place together.  Tiamo has her “Sam” to play with, sniffing out an endless supply of treats from his pockets, prancing around in a field of soft green clover.  Sam has Tiamo, keeping him company while he enjoys the outdoors.

Sam at sunset

Sam at sunset

 

Welcome home attack!

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My job requires some travel, mostly around the state, but on occasion, I attend conferences that cross state lines.  This past week, I attended our state association’s annual Fall Conference and while the location of the conference was only an hour away from Santa Fe, I still needed to stay at a hotel for a few nights.  My wonderful hubby usually stays home with the dogs on most of my travel trips, saving us a lot of $$$$ in boarding costs and subsequent vet bills from coughs and other ailments the girls pick up at the doggy motel. This trip was a get-away from dog hair and dogs in the bed.  It is pure joy being able to stretch across the King-sized bed with crisp, fresh sheets and sink-your-head onto soft downy pillows.  As much as I love having the bed to myself, I still miss my girls! (and my husband!).  I usually call home frequently thorough out the day checking to see how they are.

It so happened on this trip, we received some rain while I was gone.  Those wet drops from heaven are a rare event in our drought stricken state.  We live among dirt roads that turn into mud roads with the slightest moisture and as a rule, we don’t usually walk the dogs when it’s raining or if the roads are muddy.  Not only because of the mess of the mud, but because of our arid landscape and our many arroyos, flash flooding from the rain’s surface water is common and very dangerous.  The torrential flood waters come from the higher ground, usually starting as a trickle and turning into a roaring river in seconds, crashing through junipers, chamiso and cacti.  We just don’t take the risk of getting caught in a flash flood.  Consequently, Dolce and Amore didn’t get their walk for three days while I was out-of-town.

The first day gone, I called Malcolm, checking to see how the girls were doing.  Malcolm reported that from 4:30 – 7:00 p.m. they waited by the window, looking for my car to pull into the drive way from work.  Up until 10:00 p.m. they went tearing through the house every time they heard a car drive by, thinking it might be me returning home from my conference.  Day two was much the same but with more edge.  It had been 36 hours since their last walk, mom’s not home and the peanut butter Kongs are outside in the rain.  Dolce is bored and Amore has way too much energy bundled inside her 100 lb. frame.  Malcolm is starting to go nuts from dealing with the dogs, wet dog smell is permeating the house from the dogs racing back and forth from the dog pen, tracking in mud and dirt  and Malcolm still has 24 hours to live through.  Amore wants company and to be entertained by day three.  She whacks her tail by the headboard at 3:30 a.m. to wake Malcolm up, barks at every car headed into town starting at 5:30 a.m. and resorted to jumping on and off the bed wanting Malcolm to get up.  There is no rest for the wicked,  Malcolm still has til’ the evening before I’ll be home.

While the rain has abated to a slight sprinkle – the roads are still muddy.  This will be the third day in a row without a walk.  Malcolm hasn’t talked to an adult in 72 hours and wants only to drink his Coca-Cola with pure cane sugar and read the newspaper in peace.  Still in my business attire, I arrive home early evening…

The girls hear my car come down the driveway and immediately start to bark, alerting Malcolm to the possibility of my return.  Malcolm becomes the stereotyped housewife who hands the baby over to dad as he walks into the house from a hard day’s work.  He clicks open the garage door, letting two one hundred pound super-charged and super-hyper canines out to greet me.  I call it the welcome attack!  Dolce has literally jumped in my arms – mud and wet dog hair attaching to my once clean trousers and suit jacket.  Amore has pawed her way between Dolce and myself, inserting her body between, over, and under any arm that could and would pet her.  Nylons are shredded, purse is dumped into a shallow puddle of left over rain water, briefcase now has a muddy paw print on the left side, my eyeglasses are a skewed from being bumped by Dolce and Malcolm has barricaded himself in the den, armed with the newspaper and a glass full of shaved ice and Coca-Cola – door locked with a “do not disturb” card stolen from a hotel on the door knob.  It takes me 10 minutes to make a path inside the house, dogs in tow and another 45 minutes to calm down the heathens. Welcome home!

Malcolm didn’t surface for an appearance for three hours.