Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

This is Cocoa. Just looking at her, you wouldn’t guess that she scared the Easter bunny away one year.

My brother and I woke up early that Sunday morning, expecting to find full Easter baskets on the dining room table and undoubtedly making plans to skirt the no-candy-before-breakfast rule. Alas, there were no full baskets. There were no baskets at all.

I don’t remember if we woke Mom up or if she stumbled out of the bedroom around the same time, but I do know that she thought pretty quickly for somebody who had just woken up. She immediately shuffled us back into a bedroom, explaining that Cocoa had barked at the Easter bunny and he was afraid to come in, but was waiting outside.

Five minutes later, we were released to find our baskets filled with candy.

I don’t remember if I bought the story — at one point I started having doubts about such things but didn’t let on because, hey, free candy. I do remember that we weren’t mad at Cocoa; instead, we were a little proud.

Hell YEAH the Easter bunny was scared of our dog.

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RIP Jay Bear

Mom’s Pomeranian, Jay Bear, died tonight. It’s killing me that I can’t get to her without a seven-hour drive that I don’t have time to make, and no amount of money in the world can get me a direct flight to any nearby airport.

He was an intense little dog who made noises like a cat and was scared of flies. He was the first dog that Mom had sans kids, so he was all hers — no co-owners away at college or spending their early working years in a pet-free apartment.

This is the part that makes people swear they’ll never get another pet. This is the part we sort of forget, lest we never again experience the joy that animals bring us.

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When I was a child, a visit to my grandparents was a magical event. They had a farm with gardens, cows, tractors and sometimes even horses. My brother and I were transformed into free-range children, loosed to explore the edge of the woods, climb big hills of red clay and ride the Big Wheel up and down grassy slopes, dodging excited dogs and fallen tree branches along the way.

The food was also an adventure. I can’t think of my grandmother without picturing her in the kitchen, mixing biscuits by hand, cutting up potatoes or rolling out a pie crust.

One of the culinary experiences we looked forward to the most was homemade ice cream. My grandmother always kept one of those old-fashioned hand-crank wooden barrels on the back porch; once it was deemed hot enough outside, she would make a ton of ice (or get someone to pick up a couple of bags on the way back from town), gather the salt, make the ice cream base and prep the grandkids for hard labor.

Because if we wanted ice cream so badly, we were going to have to work for it, turning the crank until the mixture thickened so much that we our little arms just couldn’t turn it anymore and our grandfather had to come to our rescue and finish the job for us.

The ice cream always came out thick and delicious, not as firm as it would be after a couple of hours in the freezer, but good enough to eat without having to wait. And while we were good kids, waiting for ice cream after all that work was not on our list of things to do.

Fast forward to the late 1990s, when I my husband gifted me with an electric ice cream freezer. I was disappointed when my first batch emerged from the canister not merely soft, but soupy. When the second and third batches did the same thing, I packed the freezer away and gave up.

(Yes, you can buy hand-crank ice cream freezers, but they make way more ice cream than two people [these two people, anyway] can eat, and we don’t have any readily available child labor.)

I was on the verge of tossing the freezer a couple of years ago when I gave it one more chance and it redeemed itself with a recipe for strawberry ice cream from the Ben & Jerry’s recipe book. Alas, that’s the only ice cream recipe that emerges from the maker ready to eat.

I’m ready to give it another go, however, because the Red Velvet ice cream from Jake’s Ice Cream in Atlanta is everything I’ve tried to accomplish in homemade ice cream and more. It was like a fresh piece of cake, cream cheese icing and all, mashed up in a scoop of ice cream. Only it had all been frozen together at once, without the cake drying out or freezing into crunchy, unsatisfying bits.

We visited the Irwin Street Market location of Jake’s, a former warehouse housing several creative food vendors. The building’s got kind of a Lowe Mill feel, for any Huntsvillians reading, only on a smaller scale.

The husband had the Nutella flavor, which I don’t even SEE on the menu. Jake must spend his days dreaming up awesome new flavors. I want Jake’s job.

Anyway, I’m trying to decide whether to dump a measure of red velvet cake and cream cheese icing into my unpredictable (or, I guess, quite predictable) ice cream maker or just mash some cake and ice cream together toddler birthday party style. It’s a win either way, right?

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Morgus (maybe)

This is Morgus, my mom’s long-lived dog. I found him in a cemetery when he was a puppy. Ever since I got my digital photo scans back from ScanCafe, I had been thinking it was Newsted, the psychotic hound dog that I found outside my high school gymnasium.

Obviously, I shouldn’t be in charge of naming animals or making sure their stories live on in memory.

I have to highly recommend ScanCafe. They’ve scanned a few hundred old images for me over the past couple of months, with impressive results from 35mm negatives, color slides, and even Polaroid prints from the 1970s.

It’s beyond cool to see old pics that were formerly just laying around in boxes brought to life on the computer screen.

Also beyond cool: accurate recollections of names and faces. But I guess sometimes a girl can’t have it all.

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This is Jerrel. When I tell a story that involves him, I’ll often call him my stepdad to save an explanation of my mom’s living arrangements and romantic life. More accurate wording is “my mom’s boyfriend,” since they’ve both been married a couple of times and aren’t interested in signing up for that particular institution again.

He’s so much more than a boyfriend, though, that I need another word to describe his role in my mom’s life:

  • He’s the man who drove my mom across two states when she received word that her father was dying, and then did everything he could to make things easier for her.
  • He’s the partner who quickly and calmly called for help when she woke up in the middle of a still-unexplained late-night seizure. He remained at her bedside at the hospital until the worst had passed.
  • He’s the brave soul who navigated a path through some 60 miles of storm debris two days after Hurricane Katrina to bring my mom to check on me and my husband. He also detoured to check on my in-laws.
  • He’s the homeowner who has added on to make room for my mom and her vast collection of shoes.
  • He’s the two-stepper who has danced with my mom countless times.
  • He’s the enabler who has helped her maintain her habit of spoiling small, bad dogs.

In short, he’s the guy who keeps her happy. And what more could I want in my mom’s boyfriend?

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