Tired of Belly Rubs? Use a Sock on your McNab SuperDog(TM)

(oops, forgot a title)

Every night it seems to be our routine.

Find some sitcoms after dinner.  There are plenty both on local broadcast TV and on the web.

Wonderfully silly and surreal TV shows about Ditzy Farm Wives with a Pig that is smarter than you are.  Women who once moved to Minneapolis where it was cold and she thought she’d “Keep Better” but now is giving Noo Yawk its “Last Chance”.  RCMP Mounties in Chicago with a deaf wolf solving crimes.

Ahh they don’t make TV like that now do they?

Sheldon and Leonard or Rachel and Ross aside that is.

Being the tall and Rangy type, my arms and legs go all over the place.  I illegally put my right leg up on the arm of the couch where I have created a divot.  I really shouldn’t do that but if I don’t Mr Dog can’t get back to his corner.

That corner.  It has the foam rubber from an Ikea Poang Chair wrapped in a synthetic blanket.  It’s his bed.  He lays on it, sometimes.  He lays next to it, sometimes.  Other times he melts off the side in some weird origami pattern bent like a sausage and flattened out.

It’s the life of having a working dog in a suburban home.

I don’t think I could do this with a pure bred Border Collie.  They’re wonderful dogs, but when old Alexander McNab made the breed that I favor, McNab Dog, he bred out the twitchiness and the extreme need to be doing something NOW! at any moment.

While the people on the farms where the McNab was originally created for will scream “He’s a Working Dog!  He should be on a FARM”, I am proof that one size does not fit all.

Besides, I am constantly reading about McNabs who decided that life on the farm may be kind of laid back but not for them.

I swear I’m going to go out to California where these dogs are common, drive around with the roof off my Jeep and if one jumps in for a ride, I won’t try too hard to find it’s home.

They walk off and find their way to other farms or into homes and these amazingly adaptable creatures do well.

My own Dog Of A Lifetime has a job.  It’s Me.  Living here near the shops and the tourists, he’s able to get a lot of mental stimulation that a lifetime of chasing sheep will never give him.

The only weird affect he seems to be developing is he has chosen guarding as his job.

You see, wherever I am, I must be watched.  If the UPS Truck (or Fed E-Arrow-X) comes by he grumbles.  I’m still trying to teach him that the Postie is our Friend but he’s not buying it.

At night when I’m watching Lisa “plug in an 8” and blow out the “electricical”, Rack is resting under my hand.  I’m giving him belly rubs with that hand and he’s happy.

Dreaming happy dreams where his tail wags, maybe dreaming of running through his wormhole to visit the other realm where Rack is King of the McNabs, or just wandering behind the hedges to have a little peace away from the loud diesel trucks that are servicing the shops.

It’s all good, it’s all waggable, he’s a happy soul that rests next to his job.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But I do get tired from time to time and have to take my hand back.

That is when we discovered something curious.  I can use a sock.

No, seriously.  If he goes into that trance like state, where he’s awake but not really, I can place a sock or two across his belly that is exposed and the weight of the hosiery does just enough.

He thinks I’m still petting the belly that he exposes like a light switch lighting the dark, and I get to shake blood back into my hand and wind my automatic diver’s watch a little bit.

Yes, living in Florida with a pool, having a diver’s watch is important since you just might get knocked into the pool.  When Rack gets charging around those corners out there, he’s been known to fly over the water and into that wormhole where I have been knocked into the deep end once or twice.

Got to work on that there, Cow Dog!

When he finally comes fully aware that he’s been duped, we start that cycle again.  Arnold the Pig is grunting on the TV or we’re visiting with that Mighty Fine Woman, Kate at the hotel near the tracks.  Rack is guilting me to rub his belly again.

All are happy, all are well in our little land of domesticity.

Would not have it any other way!

Wilton Manors At Sunrise

I have to admit, I really do like walking through this town before sunrise.

The time is quiet.  I-95 is only barely audible.  The trains aren’t necessarily here and if they are here, I can pretend they aren’t.

When I am not talking to Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM), on a day like this with almost no breezes, all I am hearing are our footsteps and the ringing in my ears.

Thanks, Mom, all that aspirin you fed me left me a present.

I get to stargaze, and while I am looking up at the skies, sometimes I get to indulge myself.  This morning, since I am still trying to adjust to the time change to standard time, I lay in bed an extra half hour or so.  When I do finally get out there, the skies were no longer completely dark.  More of a purple.

Stepping outside, I let Rack walk to the front of the property so he could water His Rock.  I almost always look up and noticed that there were enough clouds out there to make things interesting.  Not quite yet, but later.

Rounding the block, Rack told me that he wanted a Short Walk by herding me one way.  A mere four tenths of a mile today.  Even though I have to break him of that habit, I could use the time to do other things.

We went down a residential street that had a good view of the skies toward the beach.

That is a good view once I stopped looking at what Rack was sniffing at.  I never did figure that out.

The skies were getting brighter and the sun was rising above the Bahamas at this point.  They really aren’t that far away from me.  When that happens, we get the undersides of our clouds lit up by the distant orange rays that are just beginning to peak up over the horizon.

Or so I tell myself.

Walking around the block I hear the neighbor ask “What-cha lookin’ at?”

“It’s a really pretty sunrise.  I’ll have to try to get a good picture of it!”

I may have ringing in my ears, but I have a very stable hand when it comes to photography.

“Good luck to you!  I have pools to take care of!”  As he went off looking for his pool scoop for the back of his pickup truck.

I walked down the block with my neck craned over my shoulder saying to nobody in particular “Yep!  I’m going to get that picture”.

I got a wag out of Rack for that.  He does that often.  Good, I have an excuse for talking and I’m not really talking to myself.

With light breezes and a pleasant temperature, this is why people live here.

It’s also why the Snowbirds come down here and drive stupidly on my roads.  Since it is currently snowing in the big cities up North like Philadelphia and will be in Boston, I’m thinking that the airplanes will be all full up very shortly.

Did you set your clocks back?

It’s that time again.  Here in Los Estados Unidos, we are setting our clocks back an hour in an effort to “save” daylight.

I am not fond of it.

Neither is my dog, Rack.

Personally I don’t care if it is 5AM when I get up, or 6AM.  I get up when I get up.

Here in Florida, they were going to make Daylight Savings Time permanent.  It was one of those non partisan things that the people in Tallahassee could decide on.  But with the gridlock that they have had in Washington since the Clinton Administration, nothing has happened about it.  It needs to be passed by the Federal Government apparently.

I think they’re preoccupied with getting some other trash taken out right now.

Regardless, I get up about the same time every day, gather myself and the dog up, and go for a mile walk before sunrise and will continue to do so.

See, there’s a lot of oddballs out there at that hour, along with the “early” dog walkers.

I have a nice conversation with the dog.  He does talk back, or at least responds with a hearty tail wag.  I have a Dog Directed wander around my block, or my neighborhood.  Do a little window shopping, and then come home for dog food, coffee, and breakfast.

I will say if they could Set It And Forget It, that would be great.   Make up your mind and set things right.

Won’t matter though.  Rack will be hungry at 5pm, er make that 4pm.  I’ll have to feed him when his time comes, regardless.

It’s like snipping an inch off a belt and attaching it to the other end and thinking you’ve saved something.

It also means that I have thirty clocks in this little 1200 sq foot (110 sq meter) house to set.

I’m not obsessively buying clocks, I simply don’t throw something out when it works. It takes decades for a clock to break and time pieces are a great “Guy Gift”.

I have one sitting on top of a shelf in my bathroom that was a give away back around 1984.  Chaz it says on the face.  Chaz was a brand of cologne that was mass marketed as a push to sell women’s cologne to men in the US.  It didn’t last all that long.

Reminds me, hey you get off my lawn, it’s too early for that!

Way too many clocks in this house.  Now I need to set some clocks, if you’ll excuse me…

Say Something Sunrise

Ironically this was one of my earlier wake up calls.

Not the morning in the picture, but today, when I am writing this blather.

More than two hours before sunrise, I was up walking around this same spot, a little more than two years later and thought to look East towards the sunrise.

Except it won’t be there for a while.

Coming home to sit in the dark house, I’m going about procrastinating everything that I needed to do and did “other things” instead.

Looking out the back window from my Poang Chair, through the bougainvillea, I saw the same colors starting to show in the eastern skies.  Orange tints began to appear, painting the large banana tree leaves under my mango tree back there.

After all, I’m in South Florida.  I think it’s a state requirement that you have at least one fruit tree on your property and since I know how to propagate plants, I have too many.  Too many banana trees is not really a problem, but the mango can get massive.

My mango looks like it has been mistreated lately, I hacked it down from 15 feet to a more manageable ten.  If you “lower” the top of the tree, you will end up with a skeletal look, but the plant is quite forgiving.  It’s putting out tiny little chartreuse leaves from the trunk just below where I butchered the plant.

That’s my yard, too many fruit trees in pots.  So many that when I look at it from “space”, I can see the trees around the pool.

But that picture.  I was standing at NE 7th Avenue and Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors, Florida.  Looking east towards the ocean two miles away and the approaching sunrise there was a sign flashing.

See Something
Say Something

I did see something.  A beautiful sunrise.  It was all for my benefit, at some level.  The city has not awakened on that day, June 24, 2017, at 6:14.  The warning sign kept repeating its mantra, and I stood there, my faithful sidekick, Rack the SuperDog (TM) looking towards the sunrise and up at my face.

“Isn’t it beautiful, boy?  It’s our privilege to be up this early and see the city like this!”

I got a wag or five out of him and he went back to looking at it.

“Well, lets go home, the house should be waking up soon.”

Rack stood up and began walking across the street in the general direction towards our house, tail wagging and leading the way.

Beautiful mornings should be shared.  My dog seemed to enjoy it too.

Now, two years later, I’m sharing it with you.

Get out of bed early once in a while, go have a look.  You never know what you’ll find.

Rack Wants To Grill Lunch

There’s an old line about Dogs Playing Poker that you probably have heard.

They can’t.  You will know how good a hand they have because they will show you by wagging their tail.

Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) is clearly one of those emotional ones.

I let him follow me just about everywhere on the property.  I’d take him with me in the car more often except businesses can get rather arbitrary as to what they allow in their stores.

Leaving a dog in a car is a definite no and since I have a soft top Jeep Wrangler, if we’re going somewhere, he’s got to come with me.

It’s a Jeep Thing.  You leave nothing that you would not mind losing in a convertible car where the windows are held on by slots, velcro, and zippers.

But at home, it’s open.  I walk around the property and he’s following me while I am doing things.  Actually, my Morning Yard Inspection, he comes out, and does his own thing until he gets bored.  He’ll keep coming back until he gets to go back inside.

I have a higher tolerance for “boring” things I guess.

I’ve told him before “Go do something, you’re just bored, I’m not ready yet” and he will wander off and snoop around the property line until something else looks good.

In this case, we’re getting ready to grill some burgers this morning, and he knew it.  Plopped himself in view of the grill and waited for me to bring out the sausages and the burgers.

Smart dog!  Have a Burger!

Besides, if I use the brush on him out back by the hedges, the fur will magically disappear and I don’t have to use the vacuum cleaner to pick up quite so much of it.

Morning Dew on Betty’s Vinca

I’m constantly clearing out my garden.

Down here if you are eating anything with seeds and some of it falls on the ground, you will have plants.

I need to remember that with some tomatoes and melons, preferably in the back on the drip feed irrigation chains.

There are a lot of pots on those chains, and they’re all watered in a measured way.  The orchids don’t hold water in their pots so they drip down into pots that are strategically placed.  I have two layers of plant pots in most places, sometimes three.  It all depends on what is back there.

The thing is that I have some plants that are just growing everywhere and getting leggy.

They would be Betty’s Vinca.

Betty was my Aunt.  She was a powerful woman, but in the best of all possible ways.  A person you wanted on your side.  She gave of her self readily, and was well loved by her family.

She had two places, one on Long Island, and the other North of me in Century Village.  Yes, it’s a bit of a stereotype, but sometimes stereotypes are there for a reason.

In front of her condo she had some flowers that she was quite proud of.   Proud as she was, she liked to share.  She insisted that I have some cuttings on my last visit with her and they made it to my yard.

The point with Vinca is that they are somewhat invasive.  Constantly blooming plants, they tend to spread if you don’t watch them.  I like them because it gives me a smile to think of Betty and how proud she was of her little garden and those flowers in them.

On the other hand, all of mine got very leggy so they needed to be cut back and replanted.

In a bit I’ll have pot after pot of these plants all over my back yard.  All blooming in the

morning dew, they’ll be there.  Spreading.

But if you are lucky, and the conditions are just right, these simple blooms are just beautiful.  In the golden hour, misted by the dew or my irrigation misters, they will do their best to shine.

I hope so, since they’ve now spread into my neighbor’s garden from the back of the yard to the front.

If he likes it, I have some mint that I need to repot.  We all know how that stuff spreads.

Cream Biscuits Recipe or How It Took Me Three Weeks To Make A 10 Minute Recipe

The recipe is straightforward.

2 Cups Self Rising Flour

1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream or Whipping Cream
1 Tablespoon Sugar.

To large mixing bowl
Add 2 Cups Self Rising Flour.
Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon sugar on top and stir a little bit.
Pour 1 1/2 cups of Heavy Cream on top.
Stir until it begins to form a dough.
Continue to mix with your bare hands until it forms a “Play Doh” consistency.

The dough will go through phases where it is:

  • “mealy”
  • dry and lumpy
  • dry on the outside but one ball
  • slightly tacky and moist on the outside – STOP HERE!

Roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thickness, about the thickness of your thumb, palm down.

Use a 3 inch (about 8CM) drinking glass to cut into circles.

Cook the biscuits on a foil lined cookie sheet at 500F until tops are brown – about 10 minutes

Make sure that the biscuits are cooked fully, give them the time they need in the oven.

 

So my own long winded story.

I was out skating, because that is what I do.  Some of my best ideas come when my heart rate is ticking along at 173 BPM, I’m sweating like I just walked through a car wash, and I’m on eight or ten wheels.

I was thinking about getting home and having something “special” and Biscuits and Gravy came to mind.

Biscuits are one of those things that every “Good Southern Lady” has been taught how to make, and if they are successful, they do it this way because “That’s How Momma Taught Me!”

Usually it takes “cutting in ice cold butter” in pea sized chunks so that the steam from the butter will help to give it height.

I’m neither Southern, nor a Woman – not that there is anything with that, nor not that there is anything wrong with not being that.

I also tend to look for shortcuts in the kitchen.

That Southern Recipe is kind of fussy and really does take practice.

The recipe up top there?  It’s easy.  You just have to be patient in the oven.

That night when we went shopping I remembered I wanted the heavy cream to make these biscuits.

Since I was going to be left alone for a couple weeks, I also had to get some ground beef for Rack, my McNab SuperDog (TM).  I ended up getting 30 pounds of ground beef which basically ate my freezer’s extra space.

I never bake just one of something, and the biscuits would serve me a week of breakfasts.  But with Mr Dog’s food ingredients squatting on the prime real estate in my freezer, I had to wait until the freezer drained of “extra” food.

So I watched.  Every time I opened that freezer and took something out, I did a little mental Happy Dance to think I was getting closer to being able to have those biscuits.

In later shopping trips, I did manage to over fill the house, and get some jarred gravy.  If you are reading this from outside of the US, this is not brown gravy – it’s something called Red Eye Gravy, which is a white Bechamel Sauce cooked with Sausage Chunks and some black pepper to make it all savory.

This stuff is not light, it’s not healthy, and it may not be something for every day, but some people do it daily, and I have seen pictures of an English Breakfast and was amazed at just how much food was on that plate!

Having been on a training diet since 1979, nobody who regularly eats an English Breakfast (Or Irish, Or Canadian, or …) has any room to point fingers.

Once the freezer had finally been “eaten down” to creating the space for seven biscuits to go back in there, I decided it was time.

This Morning.

I made the recipe, and had the results in that picture.

I am impatient when it comes to Biscuits.  I tend to pull them too early, and this was no different.  I did not allow them to cook the full 10 minutes, and they were raw inside.

Back in the oven you go, I ended up giving them three more minutes at 500F to get them almost perfect.

Served in a bowl with 1/4 cup of steaming hot Red Eye Sausage Gravy on top, I was in heaven.

3 weeks to get them, they had better be good!