missing mom

1 Comment

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.

DSC00020

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.

 

fetch and catch!

5 Comments

Our dogs do not fetch the newspaper.  They do not deliver your fuzzy slippers, nor do they catch the ball.  Throw a soft rubber ball for them to run after to retrieve and you’ll get a look that says, “you want me to do what?”  Under their dog breath I hear a mumbled doggy version of:  “Pendejo, you threw it, you go get it!” Toss a stick up ahead as you’re walking,  it will go completely ignored.  Fling a frisbee and it will become part of the landscape.  Labs, Retrievers, Setters, they all love the game of fetch and catch.  Tirelessly.  Endlessly.  Dolce and Amore – NOT!  Not even close!

What they will run after is another pooch pursuing the thrown object.  Throw some balls and immediately the other visiting mutts sprint over to play. Throw a stick, and Amore and Dolce will run after the dog running after the stick. The game is in following the other canines, not racing after the ball.  We’ll take the girls to our dog park, lob some tennis balls their way and they’ll sit at our feet watching us, their heads cocked at an angle, inquiring with a puzzled look, “wha’cha doing?”   As soon as another dog moseys’ over for some fun, the girls perk up, ready to chase the some tail.  Much more fun than chasing a ball!

They will however chase after food.  Chuck an apple twenty yards and Dolce is on it.  Pitch some broccoli out in the field and it’s a race to grab it first.  Drop a bread crumb and it doesn’t even hit the floor, gone and gobbled before you can bend down to pick it up.  The one and only ball they will fetch and catch is a meatball!  Lob, toss, fling, throw or drop a tasty, rolled meatball and it’s caught mid-air in one gulp, down the hatch and in the gullet.  Eyes alert and on the “ball”, they are ready for the next toss.  Ready to catch it!  Ready to race after it!  Ready to eat it!  Any kind of meatball, any kind of meat.  It’s the only fetch and  catch they’ll play!

Swedish Meatballs

Be careful not to drop any on the floor!

  • 1 lb. finely ground beef
  • 1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup minced onions
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Mix together the above ingredients.  Gently roll into small 1″ to 1 1/2″  balls.  Brown in hot oil.  Add about 1/4 cup hot water.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Serve hot with slightly thickened pan gravy.

mud

Leave a comment

Dog doors are a great invention and ours was one of the better remodel decisions Malcolm and I made…

When Tiamo was still a puppy, we added a large coyote-fenced enclosure that wrapped around the back of our New Mexican styled home.  Aesthetically pleasing for the neighborhood, it fit in with the landscape.  We carefully planned the gate placement, the amount of  shade provided by the Pinon trees growing around the perimeter and size of the pen around Tiamo’s needs.  The one thing we didn’t plan, was installing a dog door for entrance from the pen to the house.  Mistake number one – however a moot point since we only put Tiamo in the pen when we left for town and couldn’t bring her.  Tiamo’s new playground was over 1,800 square feet of soft sand and shade.  Made just for her – and she hated it!  She hated being left alone outside, barking excessively.  She hated being separated from us and most of all she hated knowing Thugs, our cat at the time, was indoors while she was suffering outdoors.  She dug deep holes under the gate and tunneled out to freedom, magically appearing at our back door to come inside.  She scratched, clawed and budged her way out through any opening she could find, bending the gate frame, ripping the wiring.   We added reinforcements, new gate latches, heavier gauged wire, and still Tiamo would find a way out.  One week after we christened our new dog pen addition, we abandoned it.  Tiamo happily trading the pen for all the comforts of pillows and couches found inside our home.

For two years Tiamo’s dog pen sat empty – until the puppies were born.  The pen was the perfect dog park for eight little pups to explore and discover their new life.  We would bring the kids out to the pen during the late hours of the afternoon, when the sun’s heat was less severe. Tiamo had finally accepted the pen, enjoying the fresh air as she tenderly watched over her rambunctious brood.  The little ones romped and tumbled for hours until we brought them back in to their make-shift pen set up in the garage.  Tired and exhausted, the puppies would settle into a fast sleep for the night. 

As each puppy left for their new life with their new caregivers, Malcolm and I came to the conclusion we needed to add a dog door to the pen for our remaining three; Tiamo, Amore and Dolce.  However, our careful planning of the pen placement several years past, failed to appoint a common wall for a dog door.  Mistake number two.  We concluded after a careful study of where to place the large rubber flap, to install the dog door in our bathroom’s linen closet.  I know, it sounds weird, but our thinking was (and still is) if there came a time when we needed to close off the dog door, we could re-install the linen shelves back in and the large, unsightly dog hole would  “disappear” behind bath towels and sheets.  Plus, we could close the closet door to keep the girls in or out depending on what we wanted.

Installation day was on a Friday, right around the first of July.   We wanted to have the door installed and finished before our Monsoon season started so the girls could come in out of the rain.  Training was easy.  A little nugget of ground hamburger was all it took to entice Tiamo through the opening, with Amore and Dolce  quickly following.  It wasn’t long before each dog was barreling through the flap looking for a meatball.    The girls immediately used the outdoors as they should, doing their duty discreetly outside.   No more getting up to let one of dogs out, no more waiting in the freezing cold as Dolce sniffed for the perfect spot, no more chasing after Amore as she sensed freedom.  Life was just made easier.

Five days later, the rains came. Blessed drops of liquid fell on our parched acreage.  Never lasting very long, the afternoon showers can alternate from a gentle pitter-patter to hard torments of destruction.  The dry land will soak up the moisture like a sponge, filling its cracks with water, letting the excess wash over into arroyos and gullies creating flash floods and hazards.  Not only do our summer storms bequeath us with fiery sunsets that paint the sky with vibrant colors, they also leave us with clay dirt that quickly becomes slick, clinging to our shoes, dragging your steps with the extra weight of the mud.  It was on a day such as this, that I came home from work to find mud, lots of mud, strewn from one end of the house to the other!  There were muddy paws prints in every room, every part of the house. On the sofa, on the bed, everywhere.  The girls came running to greet me, each with a wet, muddy underbelly, each filthy and dirty, mire and sledge oozing from their paws.  and each with a huge happy grin on their face.  The new dog door was a gateway to mud and muck.  Mistake number three!

Luckily, we have brick floors.  And, we have a house cleaner.

Dolce washed up after mud wrestling with Amore

Dolce washed up after mud wrestling with Amore

 

MISSISSIPPI MUD PIE

an ooey-gooey delicious mess!

  • 1 cup butter
  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 4 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 6 oz Oreo cookies
  • 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp. melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9 inch springform pan.  

To prepare the crust:  place Oreo cookies, nuts, sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and process until fine crumbs are formed.  Add the melted butter and mix until just moistened.  Do not over process.  Press the cookie mixture over the bottom of the springform pan, pressing the mixture up the sides of the pan about 1 1/2 inches.  Cover and chill until filling is ready.

To prepare the filling:  add butter, chocolate, corn syrup in a medium sauce pan over low heat until melted together.  Let cool.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time and then the finely chopped Macadamia nuts.  Pour filling into the chilled crust and smooth the surface.  Bake for 30 minute or until just set but still soft in the center.  Let cool on a wire rack.

Serve a room temperature with homemade whipped cream.

 

Bobcat’s

4 Comments

Traditionally, when family and friends visit, we treat our out-of-town guests to Bobcat Bite, an old trading post-turned-gun shop-turned-burger joint located halfway between us and Santa Fe.  A family owned business since 1953, Bobcat’s sits off of historic Route 66, so named for the wild bobcats that came down from the surrounding mountains and were fed meat craps and leftovers at the back door. Owned by Bonnie and John, Bobcat’s has only 5 small tables and a long counter for singles and one-sie’s, you pay with cash or check, are given a Tootsie roll pop for dessert, and those waiting for a table get restless if you linger too long.  The name at the top of the chalkboard gets the first available table.  Those names under them impatiently toe-tap, waiting to be moved up.

The menu has changed little, except perhaps they don’t serve homemade fruit pie anymore.  Burgers, steaks, pork chops.  Salad, garlic bread and country fries.  Cole slaw, potato salad and skillet baked beans.  A simple menu, but I can guaran-damn-tee you, it is and will be, the best burger you will ever have.  Bar none.  Ten ounces of ground daily choice sirloin and chuck, cooked to order on an old cast iron griddle, it’s a two-fisted burger, bookend by a specially baked sourdough bun and served with potato chips.  The first bite is a jaw-bender.  The last bite is an assembly of hamburger pieces, broken potato chips and green chili that fell out of the burger into the paper-lined burger basket.

I like the green chili cheese burger, rare-to-medium rare, onions, no chips.  Malcolm orders the green chili cheese, medium, onions, two tomato slices, lettuce, yes on the chips and the potato salad, but only if Bonnie made it.  Dolce and Amore enjoy the leftovers minus the onions and green chili.  We’ve learned to flip the burger as soon as it arrives so the juices gravitate into new territory, spreading the succulent flavors.

Best damn burger! Ever!

Best damn burger! Ever!

When it was just Tiamo, we would bring her with us, sitting outside at a small bistro-styled table on the portale.  Tiamo would lay under the table at our feet, occasionally handed scraps of hamburger when Malcolm wasn’t watching.  Tiamo learned at a young age, if we turned left at the blinking light, it was a Bobcat night, and a sure bet she would get a treat.  She would go from zero to wildly excited before we could even round the corner.  Should we turn to get on the freeway, Tiamo sulked in the back corner of the car all the way into town.  When Dolce and Amore came along, we would leave the three dogs in the car in the parking lot while we enjoyed our meal.  Every so often, we would hear loud barks from the girls, encouraging us to hurry it up.  They knew Bonnie had wrapped up our leftovers and there were meat scraps to be had.

Typically, repeat house guests will request a Bobcat burger upon their return to Santa Fe, telling us they’ve been craving Bobcat’s since they started planning their trip.   On occasion, they will demand to come back for a second round of burger before they leave town – sort of a  “one for the road” talisman.

Dolce and Amore certainly don’t mind, they get the leftovers.

RECIPE (strike that) RULES FOR A BOBCAT BITE BURGER

  • Drive fast, dangerously fast to Bobcat’s to arrive before the other patrons, believe you me, this is serious business
  • Run, don’t walk, to the chalkboard to write your name down before the out-of-town-never-been-to-Bobcat’s-before folks have a chance to get out of the car and figure out the system
  • While waiting for a table, stare through the windows, intimidating those slow pokes eating inside into speeding up their meal.  This isn’t Paris, they don’t get to dawdle over coffee
  • Once seated, read the menu quickly and know what you want – don’t dilly-daddle.  There are people waiting for your table – like us – plus, you don’t want to delay that first bite of your burger
  • Inquire who boiled the potatoes that morning (just kidding John)
  • Order and enjoy the best damn burger ever, ever, ever!  This is no ordinary burger – hold on to your socks, you’re in for a treat!
  • Ask for more napkins, you’re gonna need’em – now ask for another one
  • Discreetly undo the snap on your jeans, pulling your shirt out and over to cover the opening.  Okay, now you have more room to indulge in your burger – oh, yeah, and you can breathe
  • Eat, pay and grab your Tootsie pop as you exit, you can enjoy it in the car on the way home
  • Start planning your next visit to Bobcat’s
  • http://www.bobcatbite.com
Bonnie with one of the buddy gang

Bonnie with one of our repeat offenders

Goldilocks

1 Comment

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

moms and meatloaf

Leave a comment

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.

DSC00641

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!

3 Comments

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!

2 Comments

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

IMG_7091

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

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

ahhh, we didn’t eat that much!

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

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

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

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

MAC N’ CHEESE N’ CHEESE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sibling Rivalry

3 Comments

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

IMG_6984

Sibling shoe spats

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

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

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

tail thumping

2 Comments
tail thumper

tail thumper

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

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

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

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

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

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

COOKIE CRUNCHIES

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

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

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

Houdini

1 Comment

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

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

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

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

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

Scratch marks and all

Scratch mark evidence

Added hardware

Added hardware

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

Drooling for DIN-DIN

3 Comments
drooling for dinner

drooling for din din!

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

Hopefully.

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

Usually.

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

Finally!

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

Naturally.

PORK & PORT

Try this sauce with beef tenderloin as well!

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

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

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

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

Spoon sauce over sliced tenderloin.

Cold!

3 Comments

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

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

PEPPERMINT & HOT CHOCOLATE

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

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

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

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

SANTA FE SLUGGERS

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

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

 

Santa’s Resolutions

8 Comments
Holiday Love!

Holiday Love!

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

SANTA’S 2013 TWELVE RESOLUTIONS

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

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

The baby-sitter

5 Comments

It starts with a phone call – a call where immediately you know something is wrong, awfully wrong.  Every warning bell in your brain goes off, your internal antenna goes on full alert, frantically searching for a false signal of normalcy to beat back the dreadful feeling that something bad has happened.  The tone of the voice on the other end is somber,  contrasting with your erratic heart beat.  You take a deep breath, bracing yourself for what’s to come….

IMG_7010

I’m out-of-town, three states over at a National Conference, sitting in the middle of a meeting.  My cell phone is silenced – if I hadn’t of looked down when the screen lit up as the call came through, I would have missed the call all together.  It’s Malcolm.  My first thought is to call him back when my meeting is over in another 30 minutes.  He knew I would be in back-to-back sessions all day long and I would call him later that evening.  My next thought brings a tightening of the stomach muscles, Malcolm knows I’ve turned the ringer off and am out-of-pocket for the day.  I quickly gather my belongings and step outside the conference room.  “Can you talk?” breaks the silence as I answer the call.  My eyes search for a quiet corner where I can’t be overheard, fortunately I find a private area with a sitting bench, across the wide hall.  I sit down, turning my back to the activity behind me.  “I’m at the vet’s” fills the silence.  At once I’m both relieved Malcolm is okay and worried about which one of the dogs has been brought to Dr. Bob, our veterinarian, on a Saturday, late in the afternoon.  Who?  Why?  What?  How?  The questions rapidly spew out like the staccato of high heels on a hard-wood floor.  “Amore, she swallowed a bone.  It’s lodged at the base of her esophagus, just above her stomach, they can’t move it, it’s too far down her throat.  Honey, it doesn’t look good.”  Moisture pools heavily at the corners of my eyes, I’m trying desperately not to cry.  My Amore?  Our girl who so loves life, was going to lose her’s due to a bone?  I wasn’t prepared for this.  I wasn’t going to be able to say good-bye to her?  Malcolm, having to deal with “this” by himself.  My thoughts turned to cutting short my attendance at the convention, getting a flight back to New Mexico, being there for Malcolm, being there for Amore.  The next words I hear are, “gotta go, the vet’s here!  I’ll call you back when I know more.”  Malcolm cuts the call.

A bone?  We had given our dogs beef and buffalo bones for years.  Bones were the perfect baby-sitter.  They were the equivalent of putting the kids in front of the TV to watch the Little Mermaid, over and over and over.  A beef bone meant the house would be intact when we came back from running errands in town.  No chewed library books, no masticated shoes scattered out in the dog pen, no drooled on socks randomly spread from one end of the house to the other, touting new holes in the toes.  The girls would be so entranced with their bone, they wouldn’t even know we had left home.  Bones were our puppy sitter of choice.  And cheap!  A few dollars spent on bones kept the house clean and the tartar on their teeth to a minimum.  A bone had brought Amore so much enjoyment and now caused her so much pain.

The second-hand on my watch spun into minutes.  Those minutes seemed like hours.  I was paralyzed, sitting on the bench, waiting for Malcolm to call me back, praying for Amore to pull through, for some miracle to occur.  Another call and Malcolm appraised me our options were not good, we were running out of time.  Ideally, Dr. Bob would like to push the bone down into the stomach and then perform surgery to remove it, however he doesn’t have a long enough apparatus to impel the bone through.  Worse case scenario: the bone adheres to the esophagus, restricting Amores’ breathing, eventually suffocating her.  Second worse case scenario would be to operate in Amores’ current state – the success rate of this type of surgery is low, every low.  Very few recover from the surgery.  Malcolm and I were in the cross-hairs of Amores’ death.

Another hour had passed and still I hadn’t moved off the bench.  Waiting.  A text came through from Malcolm – “goin n 4 surgery.  don’t fly 2 ABQ.  horse vet fix bone.  will call l8r”.  What the hell?  What horse vet?  Which surgery?  The worse case scenario surgery or the ideal surgery?  New questions swirled, impatiently waiting to be answered.  Sifting through the next few conversations with Malcolm explained our miracle.  As Amore was being prepped for esophagus surgery, a horse veterinarian happened to stop by the clinic.  He suggested Dr. Bob try a tool used on horses, allowing him to  push the bone down.   The device was long enough to reach the bone to tap it into the stomach, allowing the location of the surgery to switch from the throat to the stomach.  Amore breezed through surgery with a newly shaved tummy and a coarse cough due to her throat being constricted.   We had orders to feed her soft food and keep her quiet.  Quiet?  Our Amore, who loves to run?  Who is our ADHD dog?  We had our work cut out for us but we had our Amore back.  Miracles do happen.

I flew home on schedule, making Malcolm drive straight from the airport to the vet clinic so I could see Amore.  We brought her home the next day and managed to keep her quiet for one more day after that.  We fired the perfect baby-sitter that day, threw away very bone we could find, and forbid any bone back in the house.   Amore has completely recovered from her ordeal – Malcolm and I, well…  let’s just say, we smile when we come upon a dog-chewed book or missing shoes.

 

Snow Angels

3 Comments

Snow. The girls loooovvve the snow! AND, everything that goes with snow! Dolce especially. Her eyes light up with excitement, her tail wags with anticipation, her body quivering with eagerness at the mere mention, the slightest hint of snow. The little pup in her rises to the occasion – she is ready for play! Her eyes dart from snow patch to snow patch frantically searching for the best knoll, one with the steepest incline and the most snow covering it’s side. She plows through the powder to the summit, does her flop and drop and slides down the hill. Belly up or belly down – either way, the avalanche has started! For those at the end of her slide, beware – she has no brakes, no intention of stopping, no pause in her play. 100 pounds of uncontrollable dog is about to plow into you. Back up the hill she runs for a replay of the first slide, belly plop and down she goes, legs askew, stomach on skids.

Her favorite is creating and designing snow angels. She’ll drop down in the snow and roll back and forth, over and over and over, biting at the frozen crystals as she stretches and rolls. Gets up, shakes off the ice and flurries and begins another quest for an angel.

The joy in her eyes as she frolics is worth our cold noses and numb fingers. A tired dog at the end of the day makes for a happy owner.

DSC01197

DSC01196

DSC01125

DSC01126

DSC01147

DSC01198

Friday nights

Leave a comment

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!

Leave a comment

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!

Left-overs

Leave a comment

pummkinn! our favorite!

Left-overs.  We all look forward to the day after Thanksgiving – the day that produces the motherload of all left-overs!  Turkey sandwiches, turkey enchiladas, turkey soup.  And then there is sweet potato pancakes, potato balls and a lot gravy with a little mashed potatoes.  Cold stuffing, Cornbread stuffing, and just being stuffed.  Sneaking into the kitchen late at night to nab the last slice of pumpkin pie, hiding the treats and cookies from Malcolm,  standing over the kitchen sink feasting on dinner scraps rather than wash another dirty plate.

Each year, we swear on our full bellies, that the next  year we aren’t going to eat so much or drink too much.    Each year, we do anyway.  Each year, we swear we are going to cut back on the menu and each year we add another “must-try” recipe that becomes a staple for next Thanksgiving’s table.  Each year, we try to give away the left-overs to our friends and guests and each year we end up with even more left-over filled Tupperware freshly burped in the frig.

Dolce and Amore love the idea of left-overs.  As puppies, Dolce and Amore loved the left-over pumpkin  scraped out of the can not used in the pie.  Baking day still finds them at the edge of the kitchen hoping for some tasty morsel to land on the floor.  They know the rule, it falls on the floor, it’s theirs!  (Loaded with fiber, pumpkin is actually good for little puppy stommies and their digestion.)  When the chef is in the kitchen prepping for the Thanksgiving dinner, these two pray to the high heavens for dropped cheese crumbs, turkey scraps and potato peels.  They wish for an apple slice to fall, carrot chunks to plummet and diced celery to plunge off the chopping block and into their waiting jaws.  It is a contest between them which one snatches the left-over treasure first.

My favorite left-over is pecan pie.  Warm from the oven or cold for breakfast, pecan pie is my preferred holiday left-over dessert.  It’s the perfect midnight snack.  A little whipped topping, a dab of ice cream (if there is any left) and a sliver of pecan pastry.  Yummmm!

Here is my “must-try” recipe.  Enjoy!

WARNING:  Hide from husbands and dogs – will disappear off counter!

RUSTIC PECAN PIE

Crust

  • 1  3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 tbsp. cold butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp. cold water
  • cooking spray

Filling

  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 tsp. Kahlua
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

To prepare the crust –

Prepare a deep dish pie pan with cooking spray and set aside.  Place the first 3 ingredients in a food processor, and process until finely ground (approx. 30 seconds).  Add butter and pulse or until combine.  Add 1 tbsp. ice water and pulse again until combines.  The mixture will be crumbly.  Press oat mixture into the bottom of a 9″ deep dish pie pan and up the sides.  Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

To prepare the filling –

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Combine brown sugar and next 8 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well.  Stir in pecan halves.  Mix.  Spoon filling into prepared crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until center is set.  Cool to room temperature on a wire rack.