Category Archives: Family

Set, Spell a Bit

It’s cool on the porch today, sweet tea and biscuits?

It is nice under the umbrella table now, some iced tea and fresh cherries?

North and South, it is our nation and I grew up in the North (father-in-law says I singly staged the War of Northern Aggression). I assure him it is not my fault as I could never be that old. I married Texas and the South.It seems 1860’s to me but it’s only 15+ years.

How about some chicken enchiladas? I made them for the hands.

Would you like some beef rouladen with spaetzle? Then I learned about Lady Bird Johnson’s recipe for Pedernales Chili, 1962. They cooked for 5,000 including JFK at the Johnson family ranch in Pedernales, outside Austin. It’s Texas. No beans. I purchase and grind my own beef and choose my spices. I’ve never made it for his family. His cousin S made a good version of chili, a wonderful Texas gal, and she added beans! That Lady Bird chili I started making years ago brought my sensibilities about The Empire State and The Lone Star State together. We have a lot in common!

The funniest thing is that both our families hail from infamous towns in Switzerland. My husband grew up on a dairy, and I on what might be called a “hobby farm” with Dr. B and a northern family.

The southerners still don’t “get” the flavors of lebkuchen and mincemeat, but bet they would love prime rib and Yorkshire pudding over the holidays. Alas, I only cook there for Thanksgiving and m-i-l and I spend up to five days preparing for the feast. She loves having our old dog Zoe there for the marathon because it saves on vacuuming!

In every country I’ve visited and spent much time in, I have found the southern regions more amiable. I once had a non-conversation with a Greek cigar merchant knowing good morning, thank you, you’re welcome (kalimera, efharisto and parakolo), laughing and doing hand movements while my sister and I tried to purchase a few cigars for my father as a souvenir. You girls want to smoke cigars? No, they’re for Dad!

Twenty-five years later I named every mezede (appetizer) on the table for Dad’s 70th birthday aboard a sailing yacht. The staff, chef included, were speechless. Hey, I’m smart, and I listen. Spanakopita, dolmades, keftadakia, risosalata, taramosalata, tyroppita and I went on to include eggplant, octopus and more. I make a great moussaka but my husband will not eat eggplant. Go figure, he’s from Texas! Cheers and good cooking! Dee

Gifts

I’ve several that come to mind. My husband, of which am I am not too fond of this morning because he shut the door and left our dog with me while I was sleeping and had been up most of the night. His old girls were shut-ins. I can get out easily but Zoe cannot do so. Bad Daddy!

My parents. Bob and Barb got a pup when we were quite young. We approved heartily but she was not allowed in the house at all except when it was below zero, then she was allowed into the basement. On my sixth or seventh birthday, I had a dream that told me it was morning and to let the dog out of the basement. I let her out and it was 2:00 in the morning. My parents came downstairs and said we’d find her in the morning. I was so upset.

They gave her away to a farm where she would be “happy.” I think she would have been happier sleeping on my bed at night and snoozing on the sofa or deck during the day. As Dr. Dog says, a backyard dog is a dog without a home. I heartily agree, unless you’re running cattle or sheep.

Same thing with my in-laws, who said it was OK to bring Zoe to Thanksgiving, then offered to mow a goat pen where she could stay, farm country. I said I wouldn’t go and would keep Zoe at home. There was a gift. Zoe indoors with me and at 90 in “people years” she is standing on Grandpa’s side of the sofa where he reads his Civil War books awaiting his return in a truck or a four-wheeler from feeding cattle. Zoe is 13 now and loves Grandpa and Grandma so much. Grandma is upset when Zoe stays home for Thanksgiving because she addresses our messes in the kitchen, eats everything that accidentally drops and makes cleaning up after our daily messes easier.

That gift was taken back a bit when my father-in-law told me I was solely responsible for the War of Northern Aggression! Oh, he was just joshing! He does it all the time, mostly politics. My husband and his parents and grandmother and younger brother and Stevie are all gifts.

There are so many more but it’s time, I have to take care of my family and get my husband breakfast when he awakens. I’m thinking over nearly hard eggs, bacon and potatoes I cooked last night. Note to cooks, never make leftovers look like leftovers. Cheers, Dee

 

 

Inspiration and Aspirations

Never mind perspiration. I awakened thinking I was late on a Sunday to take her out. Turns out the sun was bright and it was 5:30 in the morning and I awakened her.

If I were to opine, I’d say that when her eyes first opened as a pup she realized she was living in squalor. She knew she was a mutt, and wanted to get out of there pronto. Luckily the folks that allowed her to have worms, coccidia et al dumped her litter at the local shelter. Neither I nor my husband ever grew up in those conditions but we understand them and are grateful for shelters who take care of needy animals.

We were married a year and “settled in” as much as a software guy can be coming off the dot-bomb era so decided to get a dog. We met Zoe and were smitten. She was taken. We saw other dogs but liked “Camilla.” They called the next morning, said the hold was released and that she was ours. She was so excited coming home in that cardboard box she jumped right out!

I threw the box in the back seat and she relished sitting on my lap and driving in the car (windows closed, of course, AC on). Oh this was the second shelter to nudge nudge. wink wink change the name. We were down to a list of five. After 20 years of volunteering with shelters and also helping spay/neuter over 2,500 feral cats we settled on a name. Zoe, Greek for “life.” It has suited her all these years as she is the happiest dog I’ve ever met.

Her aspirations were realized. A good family and new/no hips. Yes, by the time she was four months old, at under 20 lbs. she had the worst hips her surgeon had ever seen. I did two weeks of research and we got her in to Val the Vet at six and nine-months of age for two FNHO’s, femoral head and neck ostectomies, they took out her hips. Back then they didn’t have titanium hips for smaller dogs so she had to grow her own hips and that she did. We walked her, my husband had her sneak into the pool for water therapy and she just took it on, life as usual.

Zoe is a trouper. All these years later she is kind of a mascot in our community and all the kids call out “Look, it’s Zoe!!!” My name is irrelevant. She is so kind and gentle to people, little ones, other dogs, even cats. She does have a forever home and has since she turned six weeks old. She is an inspiration to me for the light she gives others, and an aspiration as to what one can do with no hips.

I’ve had two dogs. The first was abused by a Deputy Sheriff, terrified of men in uniform, men with a cap, men in general and all children. I cured her of that in a month. Well, until my Navy neighbor came out in his dress whites. I just said “Chani, it’s Chris!” and she ran up to him and luckily didn’t get any yellow fur on his uniform. He usually wore a tee-shirt and camo shorts to work. She had never seen uniform or lid.

Zoe was to be raised from the day she turned six weeks old, a little puff ball, to now, with love and training and knowing she would be with us for the rest of her life. We’re family. We have inspiration, aspirations and have shared some perspiration to get there.

I like to think our little family has harmony. My brother just says Zoe is needy. Well, she has her own sign language (stare language) and sometimes he and usually I, know what she wants or needs. Out? Need “Precious” that is her only toy?

There was a terrible story yesterday about a tremendously malnourished, frightened and probably abused dog. She looks like my Chani before rehabilitation. Now with a foster family, I hope she gets the food and care she needs to find her own forever home. I know we saved Zoe, as in Texas rather than have two hip surgeries many would have put a bullet in her head. She chose well. Zoe has taught us too, and made a lot of friends. I will be with her, holding her, until the last moment of her life. Right now she’s happy and healthy.

Zoe was offered a mowed goat pen first time in Texas 13 years ago, so I asked my husband to go without us. Then his dad scrubbed an old dog crate and put it in my husband’s old room. Zoe walked in and out in a few seconds and wanted the bed. Now she stands on the sofa on “grandpa’s spot” and watches him come home from feeding the cattle. As she ages I do not wish to fly her anymore. If I’m driving, she has her own setup in back with 4″ orthopedic bed…and she still loves the car. When we fly in “grandma” is always upset that Zoe is missing, even bought her a matching stocking to ours last year because “she’s family.” We do up to five days of cooking and need someone to pick up crumbs. That would be Zoe. Here’s to the dogs in our lives! Dee

Water and Dr. Dog

Two days ago we received a notice on the elevator that our water was being shut off by the city. Then an email saying “Please plan your day accordingly.”

I’ve been through a Cat 5 hurricane, blogging it. 149 of 150 lofts were damaged. Ours was not. My husband and dog slept through the night, clueless while I watched trees sway side to side in 80 mph winds and the Bayou rise 25 feet.

Saying to a young mother that she will be without water and to “plan accordingly” is city-speak for we don’t care about you and are not going to give you a hurricane plan sheet about a water shutoff to families with young children and retirees. They don’t give any plans for conserving water to use during the days in question. I don’t trust the city to do the work, get it done in time and it may be days without water and people will die.

We have a hurricane kit and have already delivered an empty six-gallon water vessel for our neighbors to fill and to do what I will do in a few hours. Fill tubs, pitchers, and one sink with soapy water. Six gallon hard plastic tub is filled and sitting in the shower to be used for washing hands and dishes. Water flowers and plants. Use pitchers to get tub water to place in tank to flush toilet when needed.

It’s two hours before I have to get up to finish preparations. I don’t want any more “they’re doing this, not us” going on. The management company doesn’t care that we pay a premium to live here. We live with basketball stars, baseball stars, TV news personalities and hockey elites and I enjoy sports and see players on a regular basis. It’s “hey, how’s it going? Can I pet your dog?” Not me. Him.

Yes, everyone asks this of our old dog Zoe. Look! It’s Zoe! I don’t ask who they are. If they’re tall and skinny I ask how it is to be a linebacker. It’s a joke.

We’ll all be without water today and I’ve tried to get the City and our residents covered in terms of conserving water for daily use for the outage. No one will respond. There are no instructions. Today I help folks with water, tomorrow it’s baby food and blind dogs.

I talked to a dog maven yesterday about the blind neighbor dog. He gave me pointers and asked for a report. He charges for consultations but did not charge me. I’ve been interviewed on his radio show before and he remembered me from over 20 years ago. He asked me questions and one had two bad answers. I chose the best then offered a third option, to give the dog a chance. I passed. He is a brilliant man and has helped me not only with my dogs, but through that training volunteers to care for spay/neuter feral cats, dealing with kids, families and work. Don’t tell him, it’ll go to his Mensa head! Cheers! Dee

 

Hey There Delilah

I am taking up guitar again and had mine reconditioned and just got my music from storage. Homage to the Plain White T’s for the only song I have that is of this century. Dad was a musician so I’ll take it up for him. His life was more important than me giving up violin after seven years to go to the mall with my gal pals.

Delilah is my computer, my savior ten years ago when we moved overseas. I could get access to bill pay, Skype and talk to home. She was a peach but I’m three OS’s behind and software is blocking me now.  I’ll save you ICE (in case of emergency) but yesterday my husband made me get a new laptop, it’s charging right now. I’m sorry. It’s half your weight and 1/3 the thickness, more oomph for memory, storage and battery life. And my husband is getting me a newer, bigger monitor. I just have to find a new “skin” for my cord-free keyboard.

Sorry for “cheating” on you. You’ve been a stalwart friend who has helped me write, pay bills and taxes, and answer emails. Thank you for your service. It is much appreciated. Thanks, D, from Dee and thank you, reader! Tonight it’s NY Strip and loaded baked potato. I have to figure out how to hide kale. Hmmmm, Dee

Euthanasia

Yes, it means death. It is allowed for pets but not for people. Only secretly for people.

For a cherished pet a proper parent should make the decision when there is no other alternative, hold that pet and be there.

For pets I would ask that there is a special room with a panic button. My old dog got up five times after the anesthesia and I couldn’t call on anyone. It was heartbreaking for me because I knew it was the last time I would see her alive and I didn’t want her to suffer. Because of what I went through, they’ve a “death wing” with a separate checkout and back door for payment, and the rooms have panic buttons to summon assistance.

I know that this is to prevent grieving pet owners from paying the death bill in front of others at the front desk. Two friends arrived at the hospital and visited my Chani before she died. In the end, Chani had bled out and had no hope of survival.

When I got home I called a dear friend and her husband answered the phone. Are you sitting down? Yes. I lost Chani. I’ll be right there to help you find her. This is an Army Ranger, yes, the Army Ranger.

No, she’s gone. What do you need? Companionship and a good glass of Pinot. He ran for me with a precious glass. I jumped the wall 200 feet away and we missed each other. He’d called his wife to come home, and when I arrived he arranged to have Chani’s remains given to me, not fodder for a pet cemetery.

I had spent six years trying to gain legal leash-free areas in our city. The entire neighborhood donated money to the city for a tree in her memory. The city decided the type, location and size of tree and the money and we paid  it. Then there was a big fight with neighbors who didn’t like dogs in “their” park.

Time was spent with both of my parents, who are gone now. They both had onsets of debilitating diseases that were accelerated by either medical mistakes or diseases of just being in a hospital. Mom died. Dad just died weeks ago. I can’t even find his grave. They both went through torture just to decide to die. My pets had a better death.

We scattered Chani’s ashes, at night, everywhere. But I’ve the last thing she brought to the park, a large teddy bear I bought at a garage sale for fifty cents, from a woman who hated me for trying to allow dogs in the park. A milliner friend, dear friend, placed ashes in the bear and sewed on a heart with lace and beading and everything.

I spoke with said other mother this evening. My new old dog, 13 years, would eat Chani’s bear so I keep it up high, always remembering the family that called me their daughter and still do so. She’s getting older. We had a good talk this evening and I promised a visit.

As to trees, there are so many now I can’t even see Chani’s on Google Earth. I heard the Wicked Witch of the West is no longer controlling “her” park so will visit, place flowers and water on her tree, and meet the people who made me, me. Thanks from your only daughter, Dee

 

 

Dictionary Game

My aunts came up with this. Fifteen of us on an extended vacation. “halfway” in cars. We never know if we’d be stuck in rain or snow so my two favorite English teachers came up with a game.

They brought a dictionary and as kids, we had to open a page and look at a word we’d never heard of and learn and make up a meaning. “This is how lemmings fall off cliffs.” We could make up the verbiage, all write it down on a slip of paper and someone who was not playing would read out the papers and the contestants would vote for the most plausible definition.

It taught me a lot about our family, education, and made me want to learn. Oh, I was always one to turn to funny so never “won.” Lemmings. It wasn’t about that for me, just being with family.

There may be a family reunion for the first time in many years. We’ve gained a few in marriages and children, but lost a few along the way. If our Aunts cannot bring board games to the table, I’ve a possible solution as a gift for the M’s or us, after we play the Dictionary Game. Winner gets it. We have to see who shows up, first! This is not halfway!

We have to fly from 1500 to 3000 miles away so we’ll see when it is and how it goes. That was not a proper sentence. I always think about my aunts when I write. I purposely break rules and they know it, but I like to cook, and they taught me that as well. I break rules there and everywhere.

I never got to be a rebel. Perhaps those few years on the hill during my childhood let me do so rappelling off cliffs, swinging, foraging, dealing with snakes and crayfish (crawdads) et al  but that was just being a kid with boy neighbors.

Rebel didn’t start until my thirties. I met some of the best people and worst people I’ve ever known.

Cheers! Dee