Friday, February 5, 2016

Marlboro Man

Our neighbors have a new puppy and as cute as he is, I am not tempted to rush out and get one for us. For one reason, our senior citizen Cocker Spaniel is a full time job. He has some health issues with skin and eyes and ears that we treat on a daily basis. Cockers are prone to these, especially as they age. He also takes thyroid medicine twice daily, we have to do the hot dog trick to get him to take it. We love him though and no matter how much work we would never think of giving him away. But we have had to do that with one dog we took in as a stray.

Our youngest daughter Amy brought home the cutest little pup one day from work. It had obviously been dumped and wouldn't have lasted long on a busy parking lot. Our intentions were to find a home for her, but in no time she had worked her way into our hearts! The vet guessed she was part Great Dane and part Catahoula, a breed known for their herding abilities. She got big quickly, you could almost "hear" her growing from day to day. She wasn't an easy puppy to love though, she would bite our ankles, eat the lawn furniture and eventually started attacking our pool cleaner, the machine...not the man! We tried Lord knows, but after nearly a year I put my foot down (she promptly bit it) and said we were going to find her a good home. I advertised her as a healthy, spayed dog who needed a new home on a ranch with room to run.

The very first day a man called with a thick Texas accent.

"Ma'am, I saw your ad and I wanted to know what kind of dog she is?" I told him the vets' best guess was Catahoula and Great Dane. He wanted a good cattle dog he told me and made plans to come by later in the day. My heart fluttered a little as I hung up. I was at my wits end with this dog who just wasn't cut out for city life, but I wanted to find her a good home that would work.

When you live in Texas, it's not uncommon to see the big "Dually trucks," loaded down with bales of hay on flatbed trailers. I could hear his diesel engine when he pulled into the driveway. He left it running and when I opened the door, there he stood... Marlboro Man! He had on jeans and western shirt, leather chaps, gloves and a cowboy hat that was bent and dirty from hands that had done ranch work.

"I've come to look at the dog," he said. I told him she was in the backyard and to just come on through the house. As he stepped into the foyer, I glanced at his boots. They had layers of dried mud caked around the sole. He had a strong quietness about him that made me think Julie had found the right master!

She was chasing the pool cleaner around when we went outside. The hose-like contraption would circle over and over under the water, it had become an obsession with her. She would jump wildly into the pool diving and biting at the "Undersea Monster!" I called to her and she nearly knocked me over coming to a stop a few steps from him. He raised his gloved hand and simply said "Sit." Julie immediately sit, and stayed. It was a miracle, I had never seen her do anything like this. No matter how hard we had tried, we could not tame her wild ways. In one second he had accomplished what we had been unable to do in a whole year.

He explained to me he wanted a good cattle dog that had the stamina to live outside, watch over his property and work the cows. He said, "She'll do good." I tried to give him her outside toys but he declined, telling me they would just be a nuisance for his wife to have to pick up every time SHE mowed....I couldn't help but smile at that!!

"Well then, you'll need her leash," I said as we walked around to the gate. Julie had always been walked on a leash, we'd never let her run loose.

"Nope, she'll have to mind me or this won't work." My heart sank. I just knew she'd take off, never to be seen again. He flung open the gate and she took off like a bullet, all 100 pounds of her. He whistled sharply and motioned for her to get up on the flatbed loaded with hay. She obeyed him like she had been doing it all her life. She easily jumped to the top of the bales and then into the back of his Ford F350, wagging her tail wildly!

As he pulled out of the driveway, the sun was just going down in the West and the hot Texas day was giving way to the cool evening breezes. I stood there and watched as they drove away. Julie never looked back. She was looking forward to new frontiers and her life with Marlboro Man!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Welcome Skylar Alexa!

Have you sent out your Christmas cards already? I usually do mine over the long Thanksgiving weekend. This year, they just laid on the desk staring at me everytime I went into the study! I do a Christmas Letter to include in the card and  I wanted to include the BIG announcement of our Great-grand daughter's birth! Her due date in November came and went, another day and another. We were so anxious! Finally, last Friday December 4th she made her grand entrance into the world! Skylar Alexa, 9 pounds and 1 ounce, 21 inches long and heart-melting beautiful! 

“It is no small thing, when they, who are so fresh from God, love us. ”   ― Charles Dickens


So I set down yesterday and the words just poured out...
CommeSo, I set down yesterday and wrote from my heart... the words just poured out! 

Merry Christmas!

Big news this past week, we achieved “Greatness” when Skylar Alexa Athey came into the world December 4th! Who would have ever thought that being a great grandparent would be just as exciting as becoming grandparents 21 years ago when Jackson was born? 

Shannon and Jackson are doing well, Nana and Pop (Stephanie and Ken) are walking on air, and we are all learning that this is what it’s all about… welcoming the next generation! How our parents would have loved to have held them close, I do hope Heaven has a window! 

We are looking forward to a trip to Amy’s before Christmas. Hopefully the weather will hold until after the holidays are past and everyone can be with loved ones without having to worry about icy roads. It would be nice if we had a few flakes of snow! 

Every gift I wrap, every cookie I bake- I think of Mom and Dad, my Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins who filled my whole life with memories to last a lifetime! Feeling blessed beyond measure this year and wishing you and your families good health, happiness and prosperity in the coming year!

                                             Love from Memaw and Papa! 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Southern Cornbread Dressing

Upside down, Thanksgiving is being planned later this year than ever before. With Mom in the hospital we had the holiday meal on hold, but thank God she is improving so it's Katy Bar the Door... menu planning full steam ahead!  One thing for sure... Daddy's Cornbread Dressing will be on the table. It's a family favorite made with homegrown sage that comes from my Mom's farm. My Dad planted that sage over 40 years ago and even though he's gone now, the sage thrives in the garden at Lead Hill. Every fall before frost I pinch off several stems of the fragrant herb, bring it home and dry it. The fragrance of that sage reminds me of years of happy Thanksgivings on the farm. 

My Dad loved preparing his famous chicken and dressing for the holidays. It was his offering, as much from his heart as from the simple ingredients that went into the dish. He had made it so many times for family and church potlucks that he could have made it in his sleep! If you’re from the South, dressing is made from unsweetened cornbread, sauteed onions, celery and sage; slow simmered broth from the chicken and generous amounts of butter make this a cardiologist's nightmare! But it is “Slap Dab Delicious” and comfort food at it’s finest! This is the time honored recipe that Daddy used to make and has been passed down to me and to our daughters to share with their families. It is remembered fondly in our family and immortalized in the Risley Family Cookbook.

Memories... my Dad always used the Crockpot, it smelled so good when we would walk into the house on Thanksgiving!

Daddy's Dressing
1 pan crumbled cornbread (no sugar in cornbread, please!)
1 pan biscuits
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 bunch celery, chopped
1 stick butter
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons dried whole leaf sage
4-5 cups rich chicken broth 
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare cornbread and biscuits the day before. Cook onion and celery in butter and broth covered until tender. Pour over the crumbled breads in a large bowl, add beaten eggs. Rub the sage between your palms to release the flavor adding to bowl. Add broth to make a very moist consistency (almost soupy, as this bakes it will dry out). Adjust seasonings adding salt, pepper and more sage if desired. Bake 350* for 45 minutes until hot, or place mixture in crock pot on HIGH until hot then turn to LOW to keep warm

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