Archive for January, 2013

January 31, 2013


Children seldom misquote. In fact, the usually repeat word for word what you shouldn’t have said. ~Author Unknown

Last week’s post was about Tucker’s oral surgery and how hard it was to wait for any news. Just to get it out of the way, Tucker did well, and is now happily home. He must be kept quiet all the way until next Wednesday, and he is bored out of his mind, but so far, so good, and we are very relieved!

But back to last Thursday. I dropped him off about 7:30 am, and then went home to wait. They weren’t sure what time his procedure would take place, so I was uncertain about when to expect a call.

Of course I was restless, and couldn’t stay focused very well. First I went for a quick bike ride, and then my sister came over with her little friend, Emile, age 2. I had invited them to come play at our neighborhood park since it was a warm and pleasant January day.

Emile is a VERY busy little boy. He had a great time climbing, crawling, sliding, swinging, running, climbing, climbing and climbing some more. All the while he would parrot our words. I’d forgotten how cute kids at this stage are. I’d say, “up high!” and he’d say it back to me. Or “King of the Hill!” and he’d say, “Hill!” “Jump!” “Slide!” “Ball!” “Train!” He was like a little sponge, absorbing all these new words.

Of course, Tucker was always in the back of my mind, and I got to thinking about how dogs similarly learn words. Oh, they don’t say them back to you, but as you train a dog, you should speak the words you want them to associate with an action. When they sit, say, “Sit! Good dog!” Or when they wave their paw, say “Shake! Good shake!” It also works with other actions, such as Speak, Down, Off, etc. It’s even more fun if you use hand signals as you say the command. If you have a smart dog, it won’t take long at all for him or her to respond to either.

Language development is so important with both dogs and kids. One of my biggest pet peeves is to see mothers or nannies pushing a stroller with a child inside, all the while totally ignoring the little one. The kid sits dully looking ahead while the stroller pusher is either listening to music on headphones or talking on the phone with someone else or not otherwise engaging the child at all. Sometimes the child is fiddling with an electronic device, and I’m thinking, “Kiddo, you are missing a great big world out there!”

Look, there’s a bird! Do you see it? It’s red. Listen to it sing! Oh, there’s a doggie. Want to pat the doggie? I see a fire engine! Can you hear it? It’s so loud!

Joel tells the story of the time he and I were riding in the car (when Shannon was very small), and I pointed out to him, “Look, a cow!”  It just popped out of my mouth.

But that’s the way kids (and dogs) learn. You’ve got to talk to them all the time. Emile learned the words stick, log, bead, bug and others as Camille and I would point them out to him. It was great fun, and we have made a plan to make a date for another outing.

Boy, this really makes me want to have some grandkids!! 🙂


(note to Joel: Happy birthday to a wonderful husband and father… the founder of the feast!)


Deja Vu
January 24, 2013

jan 17

He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion. ~ Unknown

Here we go again! In January 2005, we found ourselves at the Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists facility on Loop 610 with our sweet little 18 month old Sheltie, Bailey. He’d come down with a mysterious condition called “chylothorax”, which basically meant that lymph fluid was draining into his chest cavity, making it difficult for him to breathe.

How did he get it? No one really knows, but I suspect it was a result of an attack by a Great Dane about three weeks before this condition manifested itself. After determining the situation and the course of treatment, Bailey had major surgery and recovered fully, but boy, it was a rough few weeks.

Fast forward seven years, and now it’s January 2012. Once again we find ourselves at Gulf Coast, this time with our sweet little 19 month old Sheltie, Tucker. As Tucker fans know by now, he came to us with a cleft palate that has been surgically corrected, except for a few, tiny spots that remained. Our vet recommended we look to a specialist to finish the job, because he just didn’t know how to best do it.

Dr. Heidi Hottinger (the same wonderful surgeon who took care of Bailey) will do the honors; she is amazing, and I trust her totally. Tucker will spend one night, and come home on Friday. Happily, there will be no feeding tube, rather I’ll have to hand feed him canned food. This I can do.

Still, I have been dreading this day. Tucker has no idea. Besides this one defect, he’s the happiest, healthiest dog! When I look around the waiting room at GCVS and see very sick or injured pets, I feel a little guilty that mine is so whole and well.

The worst part of the day is the no breakfast rule. We got up this morning, went outside to “do some business,” then we jumped in the car and off we went to the hospital. I know he must have been thinking, “wait, you forgot something!” and then it will dawn on him when we arrive… uh oh. I always feel like such a rat when I have to expose him to unpleasant realities like this.

After filling out the paperwork and forking over a large sum of money, we sat awhile in the waiting room. I held him in my lap, and he was bright and alert, but didn’t seem to be too concerned. Now Bailey would have been quivering and quaking with fear. But not Tucker.

A young tech came to get him, and off he went, trotting along beside her as if she were his new best friend. I love that little guy! He is so sweet.

Back home, the house is too quiet and missing Tucker’s sunny presence. It’s going to be a long day/evening! I will have to keep my mind occupied to banish any worries…

So if you’re reading this on Thursday, Jan. 24, say a little prayer for Tucker’s healing and comfort. I’ll report back next week to let you know how he’s doing!

The Doctor is IN
January 17, 2013

flu shot

So cross your fingers. All of us wish we had a better vaccine. We know what we have is good, but not perfect~ Dr. William Schaffner, chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University

I am very seldom sick. Yes, I’ve had a weird fever spike twice in the past five years, but there were no other symptoms. What was it? I’m not sure, but I think it was an RA (rheumatoid arthritis) flare up. I don’t know for sure, but I know it wasn’t “the flu”. I’ve never had “the flu”.

Every year there seems to be great consternation in the news media about flu shots, complete with horror stories about people who didn’t get them and died. I have read these reports and had pause, but have never bought into the mass hysteria, which is what I really think it is.

This year is no different. OMG, get the flu shot! But oops, some people who got the flu shot come down with the flu anyway, because the doctors who figure out what strains of flu to include in the vaccine to didn’t predict them all correctly…

So your chances are like 62% you won’t come down with it, post vaccine. Not very good odds when you think about it. And it’s one of the reasons why I have been reluctant to take the vaccine. That, and as I mentioned before, I’ve never had the flu!

But as my age has ticked up to another year older, I am getting closer to the point where they really, really recommend having one. Also on the geriatric radar screen is the shingles vaccine. OMG, get the shingles vaccine!

Actually, I already had a case of shingles when I was in my forties, and it wasn’t all that bad; thanks to intervention by our ace dermatologist. I thought that if I’d had it, well then, I was over it. Sort of like, if you’ve had the chicken pox, you won’t have it again.

Nope, said my doctor today, and he then regaled me with horror stories of people with the flu and old people with shingles. He described us both as “old farts” (nice guy!), and so I finally caved in.

So not only was I inoculated against this year’s flu virus vaccine (an annual procedure), but also with the shingles vaccine (hopefully a forever deal). A double stick. It wasn’t too bad, actually.

But I warned my doctor that if I contracted the flu this winter, well then, I will never get a flu shot again. He just smirked at me, as is his wont to do. We tend to butt heads a lot.

I did it. I am now protected against incurring a whole lot of suffering and expense while recovering from either or both maladies. Well, 62% of me is, flu-wise.

Betcha that 38% of me gets it!!

Turkey Enchiladas a la Mrs. Butera
January 10, 2013

turkey enchiladas

When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste. ~Laiko Bahrs

I have so many fond memories of our local grocery store where we shopped in the late 1960’s into the 1970’s. All Southampton people, help me remember, was it originally a “Lucky Seven” store, that morphed into “Butera John’s” at some point?

John Butera was the proprietor, one of the Butera brothers… and his store was a family run one, where everyone in the neighborhood shopped in the days before the giant grocery conglomerations took over the world.

(In later years, it became a deli and had several stores around town.)

Butera’s was located on Bissonnet near Hazard, in the space that Picnic currently occupies. Back then, it was an old fashioned, general purpose store with most all the basic amenities that all of us clueless people who had no idea what a “foodie” was… shopped.

My parents had a charge account there, and so all of us kids could ride our bikes over there, buy stuff and just sign the ticket. The ‘rents would get a bill every month.

All young people must be thinking, but didn’t you have credit/debit cards? No, we didn’t, and it was “old Mrs. Butera” (the mother of John) who was the keeper of the accounts.

There were two cash registers where one would check out; back then, there were no bar codes or POS debit/credit card options…  just cash registers where the checkers had to manually enter the price of each item that was on the sticker of each item that someone had physically stuck on it. You had to pay cash, write a check or “charge it” via a signed cash register receipt.

All the while, Mrs. Butera watched and ruled from an elevated open booth adjacent to the cash registers.

At some point, my mom befriended Mrs. Butera and wrote down her recipe for turkey enchiladas. It has been passed down and tweaked over the years, but it’s always been a favorite way to use leftover turkey (or chicken).

So here it is as originally written (my notes follow):

Turkey Enchiladas


2 (4 oz) cans green chiles

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 (1 lb,12 oz) can whole tomatoes, drained and liquid reserved

2 c chopped onion

2 t salt

1/2 t oregano

1/2 c water or tomato liquid

3 c shredded, cooked turkey

2 c sour cream

2 c grated cheddar cheese

1 pkg (15) corn tortillas


Preheat 2 T oil in electric skillet at 300 degrees. Rinse seeds from chiles and chop (use rubber gloves and don’t touch eyes). Saute with minced garlic in oil. Drain and break up tomatoes, onion, 1 t salt, oregano and reserved liquid and water OR another 1/2 c tomato liquid. Simmer at 200 degrees uncovered until thick, about 30 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Meanwhile, combine turkey with sour cream, grated cheese and remaining salt. Heat 1/3 c oil and dip tortillas until they become limp. Drain well on paper towels. Fill tortillas with turkey mixture; roll up and arrange side by side, seam side down in an electric skillet. Pour chile sauce over top and heat at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes 15.



  • buy cans of chopped green chiles instead of chopping whole ones
  • spray Pam in skillet and saute ingredients over direct heat
  • when draining tomatoes, collect 1 cup of the tomato liquid for a thicker sauce (instead of diluting it with water)
  • forget about dipping tortillas in oil. If you’d like, zap them briefly in the microwave in wet paper towels to soften them up a bit
  • I don’t shred the turkey; rather I coarsely chop it
  • I spray Pam in a 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish and bake the tortillas in the oven at 350 degrees
  • this recipe halves easily
  • best with Greenberg smoked turkey, but also good with regular roasted chicken or turkey leftovers
  • preference of tortillas is up to you. Some like big burrito sized tortillas (makes fewer), some like corn, some like flour. Pick what you like… it will be good, no matter what!

turkey recipe

As you can tell by my very tattered recipe card, this one has been around for a very long time (40+ years).

One of my favorite memories is making this dish up in Lexington, VA after Thanksgiving, 1975. Joel and his friends who didn’t go home enjoyed a Greenburg turkey sent by his mom and dad. Then I made these enchiladas a day or two later… One of our friends still remembers how good it was.

Enjoy, perfect it in your own way and pass it along!

The Human Popsicle
January 3, 2013

long winter

In the night, Laura felt the shock and heard the howls of the blizzard winds. There had been only one short day of rest. ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

Dateline Sunday, December 30, 2012: It was very quiet here tonight after the whirlwind of Christmas and such a fun visit with Shannon/Kat/Lucas/Emma. I truly hibernated this morning… I was so tired, and it was so very cold outside of the covers (our bedroom is always WAY colder than the rest of the house). Even though I had set out my “church clothes”, I seriously couldn’t make myself get out of bed this morning.

When I finally did get up (after 9 am!), I bundled into some warm clothes and managed to make myself walk Tucker outside. You would have thought it was below freezing, but in reality, it was only in the 40’s. I had on leggings, a long sleeved dry wick undershirt, a zip up vest, a heavy jacket, a muffler and two layers of gloves. But I didn’t wear my ear muffs this time, lest people think I was a wuss, which of course, I really am.

Despite all my outer wraps, I was cold when I left, and I was cold when I returned. It took a great deal of convincing myself to go take a hot shower in our REALLY cold bathroom off of our very cold bedroom. In my dreams, I want to redo this space and include a radiant heated floor… What a luxury that would be!

Post shower and bundled up in jeans, a long sleeved t-shirt and sweater, I was STILL cold, so I burrowed into our new Christmas afghan and read the paper. I had enjoyed the fire in the kitchen fireplace yesterday, but was reluctant to turn it on again this morning. Supposedly it wasn’t going to be as cold today!

Then I thought to check the thermostat, and discovered it was set at 64 degrees. Joel had turned it down on Christmas to accommodate our dinner party of 18. Aha! No wonder I felt so cold!

I am truly a human popsicle. For me, living in Houston is a good thing, as I’d never survive in a frigid climate. But one problem with Houston is that in the summer, everything is so air conditioned that I freeze more during these months than I do during the winter months!

When I was young, I was a big Laura Ingalls Wilder fan. Her book, “The Long Winter” made a huge impression on me, and I am thinking about it as I grump about being cold this past weekend.

In her book, she describes how it was to live through blizzard after blizzard in the Dakota territory during the winter of 1880-81, with little heat, no insulation, no provisions when they ran out and no prospects of any more until the train could get through until the next May. She wrote about her experience in the third person:

“When Laura’s eyes opened in the morning, she saw that every clinched nail in the roof overhead was furry white with frost. Thick frost covered every windowpane to its very top. The daylight was still and dim inside the stout walls that kept out the howling blizzard.

Carrie was awake, too. She peeked anxiously at Laura from under the quilts on the bed by the stovepipe where she and Grace slept. She blew out a breath to see how cold it was. Even close to the stovepipe, her breath froze white in the air.”


The above passage occurred early on in their winter ordeal. Once they ran out of coal, they twisted hay into fuel and basically lived on potatoes and wheat for months until the trains were able to bring provisions.

Oh, I am so cold! Our thermostat is set at 64 degrees! How ecstatic the Ingalls would have been to have had such warmth!

Plus the fact that I am able to just turn on the gas to create a fire in the fireplace to make the room warmer is an added luxury. And to be able to drive to the store to procure any and every provision is something we take for granted every day.

I. Am. Such. A. Wuss.