Articles of Incorporation

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DOLCE & AMORE BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG, INC.

ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

Article one in the Dolce and Amore Bernese Mountain Dog Articles of Incorporation states feeding time is at five. 5:00 o’clock.  Am and pm.  Morning and night.  Sunrise and sunset, it’s the standardized feeding time.  There is no deviation.  There is no fudging on the time.  No sleeping in, no rolling over for another five minutes of extra sleep. There are no “just a minute” or “hang on a sec” comments.  Come 5 o’clock its din-din time.  There is no delay, even when daylight savings time flickers on and off.  When the day’s timer chimes 5:00 o’clock, it is chow time!  NOW!

There are rules and regs to follow at feeding time. Policy set.  Bylaws to uphold.   5:00 a.m. and p.m. feeding time is just the start of a long list of statues.  I make Dolce and Amore sit before I place their bowls into their stands.  Dolce first, then Amore. Well trained, Dolce has this rule down pat.  Her hind end touching the floor and staying put before I’ve even picked up her feed bowl. Wiggling and anxious, she understands policy.   Dolce recognizes by obeying the directives set forth by Malcolm and I, she’ll get fed that much quicker, that much faster. For Dolce, it’s all about the food and she’ll do anything for food.  She is our law-abiding canine, always following the speed limit.

Now, Amore is another story.  She already has quite a few violations on her record, her rap sheet multiple pages long.  She doesn’t believe in law and order and she definitely doesn’t believe in sitting first.  To her, it’s a waste of time.  Give her the food bowl and go away.  She’ll sit if she knows we are watching her, waiting, but it’s truly a half-ass attempt.  Her hind quarters don’t even graze the surface of the bricks.  It’s more on par with the California Hollywood Roll as you go through a stop sign.

Article two demands all dog food is manufactured by the finest processors.  Measured into equal amounts, treated with extra tasty nibbles, each dog bowl must be prepared by a professionally trained canine sous chef.  Translation:  Food prep starts an hour prior to the feeding schedule.  Using filtered water to moisten the kibbles, mixed in leftover broccoli stems to enhance the flavor and topped with a dollop of peanut butter, per the AOI’s, Dolce and Amore are well fed.

Article two is like the USDA:  ensuring all dog food that is consumed is safe, nutritious and sustainable, thus establishing and enforcing regulations about food handing and preparation.  All Article two has done is enable Dolce to become our resident peanut butter slut dog.  Dolce will do anything for some Skippy.  Just say “Yippy-Skippy” and she is on her back, paws in the air, doing her tricks.

Article three of the AOI states no watching.  No spy cams.  No radar.  Amore hates to be under the camera when she eats.  She’ll put her head down, muzzle ready to grab a bite, her eyes roving left and right checking for Big Brother.  Always on the look out for cops.   Heedful of the speed trap.  Regulations demand caregivers to step back five plus paces behind, out of visual range.  Mind the GAP.  Back away.

Article four is all about inspections. After polishing off their food bowls to a shiny and empty bottom, Dolce and Amore reserve the right to examine the other’s food bowl.  Haste makes waste and there is nothing the girls hate more than waste.  Bowl inspections safeguards against uneaten food, protects against surplus broccoli stems and eliminates any extra leftovers.  The first to finish their meal allows for additional time to search out remaining food scraps in the other’s bowl.  As Dolce heads over to Amore’s bowl, Amore is rapidly moving towards Dolce’s bin.  Muzzles are searching for one last bite, one last morsel, one more crumb. Food bowl inspections are a carefully orchestrated ploy to out maneuver the other canine for one more bite.  When it comes to food bowl inspections, the USDA has nothing on the canine,

Article five is the last and sums up the in-between time.  The minutes between the a.m. and the p.m.  The hours between the sun up and the sunset.  The important part.  The TREATS!  Ah yes, both Dolce and Amore have riders in their contract for the good stuff: pig ears, chew sticks, milk bones and dog cookies.  The household policy is to limit their in-take of doggy treats.  Good manners and good behavior will garner a dog cookie.  A trip to the pet store might merit a pig ear.  Article four is based solely on budgetary means and spare change.  And if I’m in a good mood.  And usually only adhered to on weekends and holidays.

As employed staff, it is Malcolm’s and my primary responsibility, concern and purpose to ensure that all dog food is manufactured and consumed by the 5:00 o’clock mark on the day’s timer.  Treats are optional.

 

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poor Malcolm

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Guarding her treasurer

Tiamo’s favorite – a peanut butter filled KONG

Whenever we have company visiting, especially those guests with children, I try to have some type of cookie or snack ready. Something sweet, something special for the little ones.  I  usually have to whack Malcolm’s fingers  with the wooden spoon, as he tries to steal a cookie before company arrives, saving them for the kids.  Malcolm has appointed himself as the resident taster and feels he gets first bite of any sweets.  And if that doesn’t work, he calls his stealth of a cookie the “Malcolm TAX”, owed to him by virtue of him being “Malcolm”.

When our nephew Sam came around, I made sure the cookie bin was always full.  By the weekend’s end, as he was getting ready to leave, the cookies would be depleted to just a few left.  I would send him off with a bag of “left-overs”, the few cookies still uneaten  a part of his care-package.  Malcolm was always tweaked that I gave the cookies away.

When our Dennis the Menace neighborhood kid, came over to play with Tiamo and her eight little puppies, I would keep extra treats hidden in the garage freezer (hidden so well, even Malcolm didn’t know they were there!) ready for him to enjoy.  When the puppies outgrew their yelping pen, we moved the litter into the garage where we built a huge pen.  The pen took up the whole garage, everything pushed to the perimeters to make room.  “Dennis” had permission to come on over to our house and head out to the garage to play with the kids.  After a couple of play sessions, I noticed that every time, “Dennis” left, a box or a chair was always moved over by the refrigerator/freezer.

Naturally, I assumed Malcolm was moving things around in the garage and left the box there.  Malcolm figured I used the chair to sit with Tiamo and her kids.  It took about a two weeks before I realized “Dennis” was using the chair to climb up on to reach the top freezer and grab some cookies for his pocket before he left.   “Dennis” was double dipping!  He would enjoy a treat when he first arrived and he would enjoy several as he was leaving!

When I baked cookies for work, Malcolm would complain I only baked for others, that he never got to enjoy the bounty.  Unfortunately, he was right.  I didn’t bake for just us – I baked for others.  So one weekend, I decided I would bake a batch of his favorites.  Peanut Butter Cookies.  Made with Skippy’s Chunky Peanut Butter.  Not Jif.  The old-fashioned kind of peanut butter cookies with cris-cross fork tyne indents on the top.  I made a double-batch so I could freeze some for later.  The kitchen air was filled with a warm peanut butter scent as I pulled the baking sheets filled with the golden brown cookies fresh out of the oven.  I gently transferred the cookies to the cooling racks.  Malcolm was outside in the back watering, so I grabbed a few still warm cookies, wrapped them up in a paper napkin and brought the tasty cookies out to him.  I’d do kitchen clean up after Malcolm had a chance to eat some cookies.

I wasn’t gone long, maybe four to five minutes at most.  Long enough to walk down to where Malcolm had water running on the Purple Robe Locust trees around back, hand him his treats and head back up to the house to wash up.  Tiamo joined me as I delivered the fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies to Malcolm, running out of the house ahead of me.  As she was in the habit of doing, Tiamo wandered off as I chit-chatted with Malcolm.  As I  turned to walk back up to the house, I told Malcolm I was going to leave Tiamo with him.  She wouldn’t run off and she loved to be with Malcolm outdoors.

I entered the kitchen, gathering the dirty baking utensils to wash.  I bent down to pull out a zip-lock bag from a bottom drawer to freeze the cookies, turned to the corner counter to pack up the cookies and froze.  A cooling rack was laying haphazardly against the brick floor.  My eyes quickly looked up to the counter.  All of the cookies were gone.  ALL of them!  GONE!  The remaining cooling racks were empty.  One rack on the floor, one half-off the counter, the last one pushed back against the back counter wall.  The only evidence of any cookies were a few cookie crumbs left on the counter.

Tiamo hadn’t just wandered off, she had snuck back into the house while I was with Malcolm and ate all the peanut butter cookies.  Every last one! Finished them off!  Obviously, Tiamo loved peanut butter.  She was our counter-surfing thief!  And, it didn’t take her long to pilfer the peanut butter goodies.

Poor Malcolm – out of a double-batch of Peanut Butter Cookies, Malcolm only had two.

PEANUT NUTTER-BUTTER COOKIES

These outrageous cookies need to be kept under lock and key.  Do not leave unattended while cooling!  Have been known to disappear down to the crumbs.

  • 1 cup super chunky peanut butter (with nuts)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter – room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp dark corn syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 12 oz of chopped up peanut / peanut butter candy bars such as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Payday or Nutrageous

Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Line two large baking sheets with foil.

Beat peanut butter, brown sugar, butter, egg, corn syrup and vanilla in a large bowl until well blended with an electric mixer.  Stir together flour, oats, and baking soda in another bowl and mix into the peanut butter mixture.  Add chopped candy bars.  Mix.

Drop dough by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets.  Slightly flatten cookie dough with the back of a moistened spoon or your fingertips.  Freeze unbaked cookies on sheets for 12-18 minutes

Bake cookies 10 minutes.  Switch top and bottom sheets and bake an additional 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cookies cool on sheets until just beginning to firm.  Transfer to finish cooling on a cookie rack.

WARNING:  Keep husbands and dogs away!

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snowflakes and mud

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A tired dog is a happy owner!  And nothing tires out our girls more than snow.  Play time in the snow is probably Dolce and Amore’s number one favorite doings.  In the life of a dog, there is nothing better than a full belly, a warm bed and a romp in the snow.

A week after our big snow dump, most of the snow has melted but there are still patches to be found, snow angels to be made and fun to be had!  On the lookout for fresh snow, Malcolm and I took the girls on a new trail at the Galisteo Basin Preserve this weekend.  We knew the snow was getting thin, but certainly didn’t anticipate the amount of mud we would encounter.  Snow melt brings slush, and then comes the mud.   And more mud.  And then more mud.  As we swished down the trail, accumulating thick mud on our boots, Dolce and Amore took off like the wind.  They smelled fun!  They got a whiff of excitement and ran ahead like a bunch of banshees, barking for the sheer joy of dawggy play time!

Dolce immediately sniffed out a sizable plot of snow and began her rattle, roll and shake.  Angel time!  Amore followed suit, building her own snow angel.  Then it was a race to the next patch of powder.  They ran through Juniper and Pinon, leaping over small gulleys and rain carved-out arroyos in search of more snow.  They found it – along with a lot of mud, returning with mud capped paws and more.

The mud and the muck is worth it.  The look on their faces, the expression in their eyes – there is nothing more joyful than watching them play and seeing unadulterated happiness shine back at you.

Amore and Dolce - perfect angels!

Amore and Dolce – perfect angels! (not)

the race is on

the race is on

muddy paws and all

muddy paws and all

twist and roll!

a twist and a roll in the last of the snow

happy dawg

happy dawg

grins and smiles

grins and smiles

SNOWFLAKE COOKIES – a favorite at Christmas!

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes, silver white winters that melt into springs, these are a few of my favorite things!

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour (do not use self-rising)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips – melted (and a few extra to nibble on)
  • Star shaped cookie cutter
  • powdered sugar

Mix sugar, butter, egg and vanilla well.  Mix together flour, baking powder and salt.  Add to the butter mixture.  Let chill in the refrigerator for an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll out the chilled cookie dough on a floured board and cut into star shapes.  Place on an un-greased baking sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes.  Remove from oven when lightly brown.  Completely cool.

Place some melted chocolate in the middle of a star cookie.  While chocolate is still warm place another star cookie on top with the star points alternating with the bottom cookies.  Add a small dab of chocolate on the top cookie and sprinkle powdered sugar lightly over the finished cookie.

Keep under lock and key – husbands and dogs are  known to swipe one (or two!)

Victoria’s Secret

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How do you break the news to your wanna-be-dog-model that she is not quite ready for the runway?  That those angel wings all the VS models wear at the fashion shows are going to other bitches? That jowls are not cheek bones, the dog paw crawl is not a cat walk and cleavage on a dog is so very unbecoming?

How do you enlighten your canine that dog shows are not fashion shows and she plays chase with Ralphie at the community dog park not Ralph Lauren.

How do you explain to your precious pet that sharing the cover of a cookbook is not the same as flying solo on the cover of Elle, Cosmo or Marie Claire  (however on that note, I highly disagree!)?  Try telling your beloved dog that while her body size is perfect for Purina, it’s not a size 2.  Nor is her deep-chested frame svelte enough, tall enough or waif-like enough to be a Ford Model (although it is perfect for counter-surfing and crumb-chasing).

But, boy is she cute!  You should see all the adorable pictures of her in her debut modeling portfolio called If it falls on the floor, it’s mine!  a newly released cookbook found on Amazon.

DSC00205P.S.  Dolce would love to sign your cookbook – with a little mud, a few drops of dog drool and a big paw print!

For more delicious recipes and tails of the dogs, purchase If it falls on the floor, it’s mine! cookbook at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615869823

 

goofy girl

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goofy girl!

our goofy girl!

Amore is a goof ball!  A total clutz.  A true ditz. A ham for the camera.  A jester for the court.

There are times we think for sure she hit her head on the side board of the whelping pen as she was dropped into being.  She has fallen off the couch more times than not, thunking to the floor as she was stretching while on her back, surprise lighting her eyes as she tries to pretend that was her intention to begin with.  She has chased after phantom bunnies and the shadows of high soaring hawks only to run into low-hanging juniper branches.  She would rather have her throat scratched than her belly rubbed and would rather run than walk, even if it is just to move from one favorite spot to another, five short feet over.  If you say “sit”, she hears “shit” and will begin the triple-axel spin to find the perfect spot.  Give Amore the signal to “go to her pillow” and it’s a sure bet it will be your down-pillow that she lies on.

She has no idea how to cuddle, coo or be calm.  Wild-eyed, Amore will stare at you, and stare at you, and stare at you, never blinking, not moving, just stare at you.  Intently. Don’t try to out stare her – you won’t win.

One of Amore’s favorite antics is waking us up on weekends. The first attempt is a strong paw to your most extended limb poking out of the covers.  The next try is a wet, and cold, nose nudge, usually on your neck or face, many times on your mouth.  The final act is a jump on the bed, normally with your sleeping body softening the landing as her front paws hit your stomach.  At this point, Amore will typically sit on you, and the bed covers, trapping you underneath her.  I don’t mean sitting on one of your legs, or leaning up against your side.  I mean a take-your-weight-off-your-paws-park-yourself kind of stay awhile sit.  By now you might be awake, but you ain’t going anywhere til she decides to let up.  It’s best to get up at the first pawing.  You can’t help but chuckle to yourself as you spit out dog hair off your lips while pushing her off you.

Her latest gimmick is scouting for lizards.  She’ll stand at attention, staring for hours waiting for a lizard to crawl up our portal wall.  Upon sighting a scaly blue-tail, she’ll  run and take cover, barking for one of us to come and see her find.  Occasionally, Amore will actually catch a lizard, only to bring it into the house so she can play “search and seizure” with the now let-loose and tail-less reptile.  Not that I want a loose lizard in the house, but at least Gordita (our fat cat) will catch the lizard once Amore starts to fatigue from the game.

Goofy? Yes!  Silly? Absolutely!  Hyper? Undoubtably! But our goofy girl is one of the happiest dogs I ever seen.  And, we are the lucky ones to have her adventures in our lives.

the mutt mobile

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Dolce riding shotgun

Mutt mobile.  Canine car.  Pooch Pick-up.  Datsun Dog.  Honda Hound.  Berner Bus.  Names, throughout the years, we’ve christened our more mature automobiles.  Autos that have seen happier days and in the days before dogs,  cleaner ones.

Our mutt mobile was a Chevy Blazer, grey with matching Corinthian leather seats, back seat air conditioning, a great sound system, and it came with every button, lever, and knob, right down to the MAGPIE plates.  It was the BOMB!  It moved us to the high desert of New Mexico, carrying Thugs, our cat, 1,300 miles from California.  It hauled all of our “crap” cross-country through valleys, mountains, streams and rivers.  It cleaned up real nice, handled the road well, got good gas mileage, and was just an’ all-round good ol’ car.

When we brought Tiamo into our family, MAGPIE was our puppy Porsche.  We didn’t notice the wrinkles at first, the first strands of gray hair were few and blended in.   At 10 years old, Ol’ MAGPIE was still stylish.  The scratches from Tiamo leaping on the car door were barely visible.  And, what’s a little dog hair along the floorboard – we’ll have the car wash attendants vacuum it out real good the next time.  The broken vent for the back AC went undetected for several weeks, as did the cracked cup holder and the chewed middle seat belt.  Malcolm and I both ignored the teeth marks that perforated the back seat – it added character we said.  The fuse blew out on the passenger door window from Tiamo hitting, and holding, the up/down button with her paws when she stuck her head out of the window, and the overhead dome light cover had disappeared months earlier, no telling where to.  All fixable and all re-breakable.

Slowly, over time, MAGPIE’s age started to show.  When the little pups arrived, MAGPIE was the Berner Bus, hauling eight squirming, wiggley BMD puppies to the vet for their shots.  As the litter whittled down to Amore and Dolce, along with Tiamo, MAGPIE was known strictly as the dog car.  Each dog had their spot:  Dolce riding shotgun, Tiamo in the middle back where she could have the air conditioning full blast on her face, and Amore on the back driver’s side seat, one paw on the window.  Pealing paint, ripped leather seats, and a cracking dash-board, in dog years MAGPIE had already turned eighty-three and was going on ninety.  After years of hauling Tiamo and the girls around, the interior was trashed, covered in dog hair and reeked of dog smell.  And yet, we still drove the Dog car, Dolce in the front, Tiamo middle back, Amore on the back left. It was our car of choice, allowing us to bring the girls with us.

When the government came out with the CASH for CLUNKERS program, we jumped at the opportunity to scrap it.  Dog car was worth more dead than alive.  We traded in Dog car for a more “economical” vehicle.  Something that was easy on the road.

But still, we needed a Dog car – and sadly, that meant we elevate our Pilot to the next Honda Hound.  We’re at the dog hair on the floorboard stage.

 

it’s here! (almost)

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if it falls on the floor, it's mine!

COMING SOON! 

puppy breath

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a bouquet of puppy breath

a bouquet of puppy breath

When told we were expecting our little litter of puppies, a dear and close friend exclaimed, “aah, I so love puppy breath!  It’s so sweet”  I thought she was plum crazy.  No dog had pleasant breath let alone a puppy.  In the following weeks, several more friends made the same comment in varying degrees.  We heard everything from, “puppy breath is so precious!” to “I just love their little breath!”  to “their breath is adorable!”  Seriously?  What planet are these people from?  It’s a dog’s breath for criss-cross sake.   I would politely smile, but under my own breath,  I would mumble “good lawd” to Malcolm, who was trying in vain to keep a straight face.

It wasn’t until the puppies were old enough to be held and played with that I started to get an inkling of what my friends meant.  With their still pink little noses, at three-n-half weeks old,  our little ones were just starting on softened puppy chow.  They were old enough to be cuddled and held up close against our necks, while we absently rubbed their soft ears.  At five to six weeks, we were bringing our herd of yipping mutts outside to their  playpen to enjoy the fresh air and the still warm fall days.  Malcolm dragged a huge wooden rocking chair into the pen so we could sit and watch the eight little blighters sniff and explore their new world.  As they tired one by one, they would all end up at our feet, ready for a little puppy nap.  Inveritably, I would end up with two or three canine belly balls in my lap, falling fast asleep in my arms, their fat round tummies gently swaying with their soft breathing.  On warm sunny days, Malcolm and I would sit in the pen for hours, enjoying the melodious sounds emitting from the puppies.  Loving the feel of their silky fur, their soft little paws pressed against our arms, their muzzle tucked under our chins.  It was during these endearing moments, that I learned the true meaning of “puppy breath”.

Truth be told, there is something sweet about little puppy’s breath!  The scent is precious, with just a hint of baby puppy.  Taking a deep breath, I smell a little puppy’s trust, I inhale the wonder and  joys of a pint-sized creature filled with faith in their caretakers.  I breathe in the love of a new friend and the loyalty of an old one.  I catch a whiff of an adoring puppy, a devoted dog, a committed canine to its custodian.  Puppy breath is a precious bouquet of entrusting love.

HUSH PUPPIES

A quick and tasty appetizer or side dish, these little guys will disappear fast so make extras.

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp. beaten egg
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. minced jalapeno
  • 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • frying oil

Mix together the first six ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk  the buttermilk, egg and jalapeño together.  Stir the dry ingredients and milk mixture together.

Add enough oil to a deep medium saucepan to at least 1 1/2 inches.  Using a deep fry thermometer, heat oil to 320F to 330F over medium heat. Working in batches, drop 4 to 5 balls of batter by the tablespoon into the oil.

Fry until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 4-5 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, lift the hush puppies from the oil and place on a paper towel.

Can be made 2-3 hours ahead, leave at room temperature.  Rewarm in a pre-heated oven of 375F until crisp (12-14 minutes).  Garnish with a little chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese.

missing mom

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June is one of those transition months for the dogs.  The days are longer, hotter, and walks for the dogs are delayed to the evening hours, when it starts to cool down.  More often than not, Dolce and Amore are left at home, not wanting to leave them in the car during the hot hours of the day as Malcolm runs into town for errands.  Malcolm and I are busier.  Between work, travel, meetings, weddings, graduations and Saturday night dinners – it seems we’re gone more than we’re home.  The girls feel the effect of our busy schedule.  Flanked among boredom, and long hot days, they alternate between being sluggish during the hottest part of the day to being antsy when the tedious hours of lonesomeness labors on.  Their daily schedule has shifted to accommodate June’s higher temperatures and our demanding agendas.

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Amore laying her head on my lap after I was gone for 2 days

We can easily spend forty or so minutes calming them down as we enter the house after being away.  Both Dolce and Amore get clingy, wanting us right by them, touching us with their paws, nose nudging our hands and elbows.  They just want our touch.  A hand resting on them.  A constant scratch under the chin.  Fingers endlessly rubbing their fur-lined ears.

The usual scenario is a furry body on each side of me, so close a sheet of paper couldn’t slide between us, my arms around each one.  If I so much as move a finger away or twitch an eyelid, they’ll nudge me with their powerful paws as a reminder to pay more attention to them.  Their hind ends burrowing in even deeper into the corner pocket between the couch and my hip, their bodies leaning into me, I have 100 lbs. of deadweight dog resting against me on each side.  They each have their spot – Dolce on my left, tucked in close under my arm and shoulder, Amore on my right, plastered to my side, head resting against me.  I’m somewhere in the middle breathing in dog hair and fending off paws and noses.

Tomorrow I leave for a conference and will be gone for a week, leaving Malcolm home tending to the girls.  I can only imagine my homecoming.

 

pool paw play

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It’s Memorial Weekend! The kickoff to summer!

Picnics and BBQ‘s, flip-flops and short shorts, watermelon and lemonade.  One of the best parts of Memorial weekend is our local community pool opens for the summer.  8:00 a.m. on Saturday the race is on to be the first in the pool.  Moms have a free babysitter for youngsters over 12 and an energy burner for those under.  It’s the summer hangout for teenagers and an outdoor tanning booth for the housewives of Santa Fe.  Tri-athletes in training, adult swimmers exercising.  You see everything – from bare bottom babies splashing around in the kiddies pool to the pursuit of the perfect cannon ball tidal wave.  Sunburned cheeks to darkly tanned leather skin.  Old men in speedos, old ladies in bikinis.

Malcolm and I swim laps in the evenings when the kids have been called home for dinner.  75 feet of clear blue water, heated to just above chilly. It’s the perfect time to unwind from work and cool down from a hot day.  Most of the water brats have left, their forgotten pool toys and towels littered around the chairs and loungers to be found the next day.  Those remaining are the serious swimmers, jumping in the pool for laps, leaving in their wet suits, a towel wrap over their neck.

The dogs know when they see our swim bags and beach towels, they are staying put, guarding the fort back home, except for Dog day.  At the end of the summer and the chlorine has been diluted to a low enough level , its Paw Play at the Pool.  Dogs of all sizes, shapes and breeds converge at the pool for their own brand of fun.  And, it’s a wet time for all.  Excited dogs jumping in the deep end chasing tennis balls, even more incited dogs barking at waves of water splashing at their paws.  Once dry owners snapping pictures of their happy dogs. Total chaos.  Pure mayhem.  Wet dog everywhere. 

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HOMEMADE GEORGIA PEACH ICE CREAM

A perfect summer treat!

  • rock salt
  • ice (per manufacturer’s instructions)

Puree chopped peaches with the sugar and cream in the blender or food processor.

In a gallon ice cream freezer container, mix together the peach mixture, sweetened condensed milk and Kahlua.  Pour in enough whole milk to fill the contain to the fill line.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to freeze the ice cream.

“Yeah! babee!” Malcolm exclaims……. p.s.  Malcolm’s from Georgia!

the flirt

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Tiamo was a flirt – a big flirt!  She’d see a handsome male Berner and the Paris Hilton head-tilt and the come-hither look would appear.  Tail a-swishing, her prance became more pronounced and a certain gleam in eye would materialize each and every time a big studly cutie-paw-tootie was in the vicinity.

The first time I noticed her flirting she was around 9 months old.  I’d been walking Tiamo around the loop when another Berner owner drove by, stopping to talk shop as fellow BMD owners like to  do.  He had his boy with him and let him out of the car to introduce the two.  Shubert was a 4-year-old male rehab dog for the elderly, fit with a deep chest, massive paws and weighing a hefty 125 lbs., he was a poster child for Berner perfection.  Tiamo immediately took a shine to him, one look from Shubert and she fell in love.  She puffed out her chest, lifted up her tail and strutted over like a two-bit hooker on lower 4th Street showing off her wares.  Tiamo lay as close to Shubert as possible, rubbing shoulders, tail flicking, paws touching his, her head tilting.  As we wrapped up our conversation, Shubert loaded up into the car, ready to go –  Tiamo hopped in right behind him, scooting over to lean up against him.  She’d found herself a man and wasn’t going to let him go. It took me ten minutes to con/drag her out of the vehicle.

Never faithful for long, Tiamo moved on to greener pastures.  Her next love affair was with Gus, a Bernese from back east.  Gus was the kind of guy that tightened the kink in her tail.  One glance and Tiamo turned into a lit’le slut-puppy.  A cougar worth her salt, Tiamo liked her men young and Gus was younger by 10 months.  His swagger down pat, his moves slick as silk, Gus was a ladies man, a giglio, a smooth operator and had all the ladies panting.  Tiamo had met her match – she was one of many in a long line of lusting females. That dog was handsome plus!  Sparks ignited when the two were together, resulting in 8 puppies 60+ days later.  Yep, Gus fathered her beautiful children.  And, then left her.  A single mother, raising 8 kids alone, you would think Tiamo would learn her lesson.  Eleven months later, Tiamo was up to her old philandering ways…..

A couple of times a year, we bring the girls into the groomers’ for a wash, cut and curl.  We clip their bellies and their forearm feathers to keep the stickers and cockleburs to a minimum and it helps them stay cool in the hot summer months.  Tiamo, particularly, did not like the process, protesting immediately upon entering the door to the groomers’.  Her front paws put on the breaks, denying all forward movement into the establishment. She put her back paws in full reverse, madly scrambling to dodge her fate.  She ignored all commands to stop acting like a brat and to behave, seeking only escape.  She didn’t so much mind the bath as she did the clippers. She hated the clippers.  And she abhorred the colorful little bandana souvenir they tied around her neck at the end of the foray, trying to bite it off on the way home.  It got so bad, that we started bringing her in through the back door to minimize the damage to the store’s displays in the front – until the day she saw Owen.

Owen was a local male Berner, masculine and manly, he easily tipped the scales at 135 lbs.  That boy was one handsome dude and he ooooooozed sex.   Owen was already in the wash rack when I arrived with Tiamo at the back door, hoping upon hope she wouldn’t put up too much of a fuss as we entered.  One sniff and the game was up – Tiamo knew she had been duped into getting bathed and clipped.  A full-on Tiamo tantrum erupted.  She wasn’t going anywhere but back home.  Tiamo changed delaying tactics and dropped to the tiled floor, rolling over on her back, four paws in the air, she was dead weight, couldn’t be picked up, dragged, moved or maneuvered.    And then, out of the corner of her eye,  she saw Owen.  Her ears twitched, her eyes glowed with that familiar glint, drool droplets trickled from her lips, her tail curled into a constricted ringlet, it only took one sultry look for Tiamo to go ga-ga over him.  Miraculously, she spun upright, gave a little bitch shake, pulled her shoulders back, pushed her barreled chest out and pranced right up the ramp to her wash tub.  With a flick of her tail, Tiamo had a new man. Unapologetic, Tiamo gave me the signal to leave, she had this handled.   I quickly turned to leave.  Exiting out the door, I peeked back at the two love-birds.  Tiamo had jumped the tub’s railing and was skinny-dipping with Owen. I kept walking.

Thank gawd she’s been spayed.

Dog petting

Goldilocks

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Growing up, our father had a big ol’ over-stuffed leather chair and ottoman positioned just so — enabling him to watch our black & white at just the right angle.  That was HIS chair.  All the dirty rubber bands from the evening newspapers, his toothpicks, his torn-out magazine articles, his dog-eared paperbacks, collected on, in or by his chair.  If one of us girls happened to be sitting in HIS chair when he came in the living room to watch TV or read the paper, we had to vamoose out that chair lickety-split, forfeiting all rights to the seat.  Saturdays we would dig through the chair sides under the seat pillow, searching for loose change and coins that had slipped out of his pockets throughout the week as he sunk further into the chair.  On a good week, we could net a hefty profit, easily tripling our paltry allowance.  Most times, it was a bust.  The years brought longer afternoon naps and more cracks to the aging dried out leather,  the worn seat sagged way below the equator, the arm rests wiggled but stayed put with extra nails to the frame, and it was still HIS chair.  Worn down, broken-in, and mighty comfortable, that chair was dad’s and always would be.

Tiamo had a special seat as well.  Our kilim covered ottoman-slash-coffee table on steroids.  As a puppy, the ottoman was the only piece of furniture low enough for her to climb up on.  All of 10 weeks old, Tiamo would put her front paws on the top edge of the large oversized ottoman, her short little hind legs furiously working to gain purchase as she would pull herself up to the top where victory lay.  And there she lay, eyes sparkling from her achievement.  From the day she reached the summit, that ottoman has been hers and hers alone.  That was her spot, her place, her chair. If someone happened to be encroaching on her ottoman, a bark and a paw nudge was usually enough to get them to move along to another spot.  We have experienced her literally pushing us off her spot, leaning with all her body weight until we gave in and let her have her ottoman back.

When the puppies were born, her ottoman became more sacred and Tiamo became more territorial with her special place. Momma had staked her claim to the ottoman years prior and no little whippersnapper was going to poach on it. Amore and Dolce eventually learned to leave the ottoman to Tiamo.  The only trespasser allowed on the ottoman, was Thugs, our cat at the time, whom Tiamo grew up with and had always been protective of.

When Tiamo passed, Malcolm and I wondered who would be the first to take over the ottoman. Dolce or Amore?  Both had tried repeatedly, but to no avail when Tiamo was alive.  My bet was on Dolce, as Amore has always preferred the cold brick floor under her belly.  So far, neither has shown any desire to acquire the ottoman as “theirs”.  Amore has jumped over it, Dolce has used the ottoman as a launching pad to chase after Amore, but the girls have yet to enjoy their afternoon nap, stretched out with the sun warming their belly, on the ottoman. In their minds, it will always be Tiamo’s ottoman.

And, perhaps Gordita’s, one of the few intruders Tiamo allowed on her “spot”.

Gordita

Gordita

Sunday tradition

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Monday through Friday, I am the one to feed the girls their morning meal. Early.  5:00 a.m. early.  Our dogs are conditioned to enjoy their breakfast at the crack of dawn, when it’s still dark and cold out.  Once their bellies’ are full, they settle back down on their huge dog pillows for a little morning shut-eye as I sip my coffee and read the paper before I leave for work.

Come the weekend, my wonderful, sweet hubby gets up early to feed Amore and Dolce, allowing me to sleep a couple more hours before I start the day.  For some perverse reason, on the weekends, the girls start scrambling for their breakfast  around 4:00 a.m.  They’ll come around to the side of the bed, checking to see if one of us is up yet, being sure to whack their tail several times for good measure.  On a good day, they might wait until 4:30 a.m. before starting their wake-up antics.  If need be, Amore will jump up on the bed and sit on one of us in her attempt to get fed.  It’s about this time, I’m kicking Malc in the back, “it’s your turn to feed’em!” I mumble.

Blurry eyed, and three-quarters still asleep, he stumbles out to the dark kitchen, tripping over 200 excited pounds of two hungry dogs in their mad bid for their kibbles.  From the other room, I hear several choice words spewing loudly from his lips as his bare feet and legs are clawed by dog paws in their eagerness to be fed. I hear the clank and clatter from their metal dog bowls being pushed around the hard floor as they devour their food.  Then quiet. Blissful quiet.  Wonderful-fall-back-to-sleep quiet.  While the girls are still chowing down their food, Malc will crawl back into the still warm bed, staking out his territory on the mattress.  He has about 2 minutes to fluff his pillows and get comfortable before the girls search us out, climbing up on the bed to snuggle in for a few more hours.  A half hour later, Gordita joins the family snugglefest, stepping over fur and bodies to curl up on a down pillow.

By the time, I’m ready to rise, I have two dogs stretched out on each side of me and a cat up on my pillow loudly purring in my ear, a black cat tail draped across my face. I can’t move.  I look over at Malcolm and see a slight smile peaking through the covers.  “Psst! You awake?”, I persist in waking him.  One visible eye opens, we share a contented, loving look as we view our menagerie nestled on the bed.  Our family.  It brings a warm hug to our hearts.

Sunday morning is our special day of the week to laze around, read the paper, drink our coffee, share breakfast.  It’s turned into tradition, having our girls curled up around us as we read the comics, the OpEd page, the local news, sipping hot coffee, being careful not to spill any on the covers.  Breakfast turns into brunch, but who cares, it’s our lazy day to enjoy our family.

RASPBERRY PANCAKES

Perfect for those lazy Sunday mornings, these cakes are light and fluffy – the secret is taking the time to beat the egg whites separately.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup non-fat milk (may use buttermilk)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated
  • 2 large egg whites (save extra egg yolk for your canine friends)
  • 3/4 cup sliced bananas
  • 3/4 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam (heated in microwave)
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together milk, egg yolk and zest.  Set aside.

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks forms.  Stir milk mixture little by little into the flour mixture.  Carefully fold in egg whites and then add the sliced bananas.

Spray non-stick cooking spray on a large non-stick skillet or griddle and warm over medium heat.  Ladle batter onto hot griddle using a 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour batter, making a hotcake.  Repeat until griddle is full.  Cook until bottom is set and golden brown, about two minutes.  Flip and cook until firm, another 2 to 3 minutes.  Set aside and cover to keep warm until you’ve cooked all the hotcakes.

Serve hotcakes topped with warm raspberry jam and vanilla yogurt and raspberries.

moms and meatloaf

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Growing up, I would cringe when I heard the words, “you take after your father”.  Or better yet, “you look just like your mom“.  At fifteen, I did not want to be compared to either parent.  I only saw dad as hosting a big nose and a larger belly.  And mother, well, suffice to say, I did not want to grow up to be like my mother.  Only now do I understand those words were sweet compliments full of promise of what was to come.  Their moral fiber was imprinted on me in my early years, their love and emotional support has stayed with me even with their passing years ago.  Now, at full maturity and with a clear mirror, I see a bit of both my parents in me, from sharing my father’s gift of gab to sharing my mother’s propensity to uphold her Scandinavian heritage – being a stubborn Swede on occasion.  I’ve borrowed my father’s coloring, with fair-hair and blue eyes, and copied my mom’s easy-going manner.  I find myself mimicking their mannerisms, their habits and their likes and dislikes.  And, buying only French’s mustard and Best Food’s mayo and using only real butter, cuz that’s what mother did.  Like mother, like daughter.

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like mama, like daughter

With dogs, all traits and characteristics are individual.  They might share looks, the same blaze on the forehead, the same white-capped paws, but all similarities end there.  Their personalities are all their own.  I once had a dog trainer tell me, “Dogs do not learn from other dogs, they learn from repetitive learning and rewards”.    I used to believe that, now I’m not so sure……

When Tiamo was just a puppy, she would prance a little jig as we walked her.  A special spring in her gait, unique to just her.  I’d never seen another dog with the same perky step.  Until just the other day – I noticed Dolce dancing a little jig, as we walked the loop, so like Tiamo.  Tiamo had a habit of holding her head up, tucking her muzzle in, and looking up at you with a shy, Princess Di glaze.  She was so graceful, like royalty.   Recently, I saw Amore lift her head and tuck in her muzzle, as she peered up at me.  In that instant, she looked so much like Tiamo.  Tiamo had a special spot under the table, where she would lay as we ate dinner, her front paws draped over my toes, just to let me know she was there.  Now Amore lays there, in the exact spot as Tiamo, her right paw touching my left foot,  so like Tiamo.

Is it genetics?  Is it environment? Or is it just being a dog?  Malcolm and I find ourselves saying, “Dolce acts just like Tiamo” or “She is so like her mother”, something every teenager hates to hear.   Amore has always “looked” more like Tiamo – Dolce has always behaved more like Tiamo.  Both have taken on traits only Tiamo possessed.

MEATLOAF AND LOAF

All moms have a special recipe that spells out M-O-M.  My mother’s was meatloaf.  I make it just like hers.

Mama knows best!!

  • 1 sourdough bread loaf (un-sliced) – hollowed out, saving the bread filling
  • 1  –  3 oz. can sliced mushrooms and liquids
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs from sourdough bread loaf
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Tabasco sauce, to taste

In a large mixing bowl, combine liquids, egg, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and bread crumbs.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Stir in ground beef, mushrooms, and onions.  Fill the sourdough bread loaf with the meatloaf mixture.  Bake in a preheated 350 F degree oven for one hour.

Mine!

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DSC01381Grrrrrrrrr!

Mine!

Do. Not. Even. Think. About. It.

Whether it’s a shoe, a bone or a peanut-butter filled Kong – the treasure becomes more valuable when you have possession… and, fair game to all others who don’t.

One of Dolce’s favorite past-times is chewing her Kong.  She’ll carry her Kong from room to room, as she follows us around the house, tucking it under her paw for additional security if Amore gets too close for comfort, a low growl of warning rumbling from deep inside her throat.  Should the cone-shaped rubber Kong slip out from her grasp, awkwardly rolling under some piece of furniture, she’ll spend several minutes digging it out.  She’ll wiggle under the couch, as much as a 100 lb. deep-barrel chested Bernese can, her nose buried, paw extended, the Kong just out of her reach.  A huff and a puff later, and she is squirming back out from under the sofa, sending us a beseeching look, silently begging us to assist her in recovering her toy.  Now it’s our turn to wiggle on our stomachs, cheeks against the cold brick floor attempting to flush out the Kong.  Having to incorporate a long wooden handle of a broom to sweep it out from down under, Dolce supervises the save from her perch on the couch, eagerly anticipating the return of favorite chew toy.

It’s usually about this time that Amore becomes interested in ownership of the Kong – barreling her way into the fray to steal the Kong away from Dolce as it orbits out from its hiding place.  Like a typical sibling, she parades in front of Dolce, holding the stolen loot in her clenched jaws, taunting Dolce with the prize.  Retaliating, Dolce barks her frustration at losing her Kong.  Still barking, she frantically paces from one end of the couch to the other,  tracking Amore as she continues to mock Dolce.  Pillows flying off the couch, Dolce gets in position to leap across the ottoman to lunge at Amore gripping the Kong.  – chaos has erupted!

Now, imagine you are still laying on your stomach, the cold brick floor against your skin, broom handle still in hand, Amore stepping on your back as she needles and antagonizes her sister.  You’ve another dog, whose barking has intensified to a loud frenzy, one second from flying across you to begin a well-deserved Kong attack against Amore.  In your effort to crawl out from under the couch, you try to stand at the exact moment Dolce takes the first shot, jumping towards Amore to retrieve her Kong.  You are in the middle a Kong fight, buried under eight paws and two hundred pounds of canine, battling it out for the glory of red rubber.

Dolce and Amore have a running tally of who has stolen, swiped, taken, nabbed, grabbed and all out fought for, the golden prize out from under an unsuspecting nose.  With Amore slightly ahead in steals, Dolce leads in cunning rebounds.  Malcolm and I surrender.

Simply irresistible!

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As puppies, Amore and Dolce were simply irresistible. And they knew it!

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With their little white-tipped tails wagging to and fro, their noses wrinkling as they sniffed new territory, their puppy breath as they pressed puppy kisses on us – as puppies,  they were the sweetest, cutest little things.  They were absolutely adorable, simply irresistible!

They each had their particular quirks.  Dolce would tilt her head as she was learning a new command, you could almost see the wheels turning as she was figuring out the process, her brain working out the equation.  Of the two, Dolce learned her lessons quick and fast.  She also learned she would be rewarded with a treat if she scored high on the test.  After she accomplished her task, she would sit at our feet, tilting her head to the side, patiently waiting for her gold star, her treat.  Again, you could visualize her thought process, her brain trying to figure out where her special nibble was, and when would she be getting it.  If Dolce was in High School, she would be the honors student, the one who never got in trouble, never cussed, smoked or slept around.  Teacher’s pet.

Amore on the other hand, would rise a brown-winged eyebrow, as if to question our sanity in asking her to perform the small learning task.  “You want me to do what”? she silently sassed, looking at us askew.  “Seriously?  Again?  How many times do I have to do this”?  First her ears would flick back and forth, then her two matching red-brown brows would draw together, frowning, not sure she wants to do as asked.  With a puppy pout and long drawn-out sigh, her eyebrows would twitch up and down once more before she followed the command.  If Amore was a teenager, she would be the rebellious 16-year-old, stealing a smoke behind the gym bleachers, swigging Jimmy B. out of a paper bag.  The horror student.

Between the head tilt and the brow lift, we never stood a chance.  One forty-five degree slant of the head and a five degree raise of the brow had us wrapped around every one of their paws.  It’s been that way ever since.  Four years later, Amore and Dolce are still irresistible.

SANTA FE RICE CASSEROLE

Make extra – it’s hard to resist seconds!

Mix green chili and jalapeno with sour cream.  Season cooked rice with salt and pepper.  In a 2 quart casserole, layer the ingredients with the rice, then sour cream mixture and then Monterey jack Cheese.  Repeat the layers ending with rice on the top.

Bake at 350 F degrees for 25 minutes.  cover the top with the Cheddar cheese and sprinkle with paprika.  Bake another 5 to 10 minutes.

kitchen clatter

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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.