The Further Misadventures of Henry

Henry, upon realizing the cupboard is bare.

Today, for the first time, I present two stories about Henry, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. That’s two for the price of one! Unusual, I know.

I, Cook, wrote Story #2.  Then, just as I was getting ready to post it, one of my readers, Robert, wrote his own story about Henry, on account that I’ve been sick (as everyone knows–thanks to my Sicko in Seattle post), and he decided that a little tale about the little king might be the thing to draw me out of my cold-ridden misery.  And, he was right. So, thank you, Robert!

Herewith, two tales about a dog who descends from royalty.

1.  Henry Fends for Himself, as told by Robert

Henry sat in his royal basket looking and feeling quite dejected. What am I to do, he thought to himself. Cook is ill and cook is not cooking. What will I do for lunch? The cupboard is bare, not a bone or a royal treat to be found.

Just then, a loud sneeze and a series of sniffles could be heard from Cook’s bed chamber.

There is nothing for it, thought Henry. I will have to mix with the working classes and do this thing they call shopping.

Getting out of the basket, he put his crown on its stand by his basket and made for the door. He opened his special doggie flap in the door and climbed through, muttering to himself. Humph!! Still no crown above the flap. Any cat or dog could use it, not realising it’s just for royalty.

Outside, he debated whether to head left or right, and decided right, as the sun would then shine on his good side. Trotting down the sidewalk, he came to a grocery store. He walked through the door and was promptly picked up and put outside again. After this happened three times, he sat and barked. How dare they not let him in! He was royalty, after all. Then, he spotted the notice on the door that said,

“NO DOGS EXCEPT BLIND GUIDE DOGS ALLOWED.”

Stupid sign, Henry muttered to himself, wondering, how can blind dogs read?

Dejected, he made his way home, and climbing through the dog flap, he smelt something nice. He smelt cooking!!!

Cook looked down at Henry, lying in his basket. “Henry, lunch is ready.”

Henry barked in joy and made his way to his bowl. He must have been imagining it. He must be cracking up!!!


2. Henry’s Thanksgiving in the Country, as told by me, Cook

This morning, I told Henry that it’s time to pack up his bags. For, I’m heading to Chicago to visit my daughter, my brother and his family.  It’s Thanksgiving soon and, while I’m away, Henry’s going to spend the holiday in the country. And, by country I mean he’s going to my friend, Trisha’s house, which isn’t in the country at all.

But, Henry thinks it is, as Trisha–or the scullery maid, as he calls her–has an ample backyard, with lots of room to roam and wonder. She also has a horse in a stable somewhere, which Henry has visited before. So, as I tell him about his impending trip, it’s clear he’s mulling it over in his head.

“Cook, will I be going to the horse stable?” he asks quizzically. Henry calls me Cook, because I’m the one who serves him his meals.

“No doubt about it, Henry. Will that be a problem?”

“I don’t fancy stables. Horses can neigh rather loudly, you know. Practically burst my eardrums last time. Got my paws all muddied while there, too. Bloody mess! Took forever to get them properly cleaned.”

“The scullery maid told me she drew you a bath after that visit, and you were just fine.”

“True, but how I suffered for it.”

“The point is, Henry, you got over it.”

“Did I?” He pauses, then inquires, “What about the Thanksgiving feast? Does the scullery maid know I only eat the white meat?”

“Yes, she knows, and she already said no.”

“Are you sure, Cook? Exactly what did she say?”

“Something about, over her dead—.”

“Never mind,” Henry replies, sulkily. “Noblesse oblige, I suppose. ‘Tis my duty to let her little wards have the good bits. “

“Oh, you mean her kids? So, you’re okay with going?”

“I don’t seem to have a choice, do I? Though, tell me, will the ranch hand be there?”

“Ranch hand? Oh, you mean Cowboy, the scullery maid’s cat. Yes, I suppose he will, seeing as that’s his home.”

“Dash it all! It wouldn’t be so horrid if the ranch hand remembered to bow in my presence. Oh well, what can you expect from the feline purr-suasion?”

“And Henry, word has it there’s a new member in the family. Seems as though the scullery maid has taken in a dog, too.”

“A horse, a cat and now a dog?? Should make for a rather chaotic visit, if you ask me,” muses Henry, adding, “So, when exactly are you returning?”

Sigh. Summing up every ounce of patience, I glibly reply,

“Henry, I’ll be returning soon enough and that’s all you need to know.”

“Fine,” he snorts. “Abandon me to the country if you need to, but please, whatever you do, don’t put this in your blog. I have a reputation to maintain. No one need know that you’ve put me in a mood or that I’m pulling a face. Especially not the scullery maid. Don’t want to start off on the wrong paw, you know.”

Henry prepares for his journey to “the country.”

“Yikes. Too late,” I say. “Already posted.”

“Is that so? Then, make sure they also know how utterly delighted I am, too. In fact, I’m going to don my purple fascinator to show my joy.  I’m going to the country! Maybe I’ll blog about it, too!”

“Sarcasm doesn’t become you, Henry.”

And just like that, Henry leaves the room to fetch his petite chapeau.

Happy Thanksgiving from Henry and me!

Now tell me. Whether or not you celebrate, what are your plans this coming week?

A Winner, a Baker & BF

First of all, congratulations to Annie of Annie Off Leash! She’s a winner!

Annie is the lucky reader who is getting my first giveaway–a beautiful Art Meets Glass original, pomegranate pendant, created by Marsha Anderson. So, Annie, please email your mailing address to monicastangledweb@gmail.com, so it can be shipped out to you. And, thank you to everyone else who participated. I so appreciate you tweeting the news!

Thanksgiving was at my house this year. Once a year, I cook to my heart’s content, and this was it. I made just about everything from scratch, which is why it’ll probably be another year before I do anything like this again. The best part was that I decided to bake the bread for our meal, something I haven’t done in over 15 years!

Here's what my Grand Champion Dill bread looked like just before baking.

Some people think baking bread is a daunting task. I know, because I used to be one of them. And I don’t know why I stopped (blame it on not enough time in the day), because baking is such a pleasure. It’s soothing, relaxing and rewarding. Now, I do not own a bread machine, as I don’t consider using one to be really baking.  If you ask me, it feels a bit like cheating.

I prefer the old fashioned way. I take the temperature of the water before I mix in the yeast. I let my dough rise several times. I split it in thirds and make long strands, which I then braid together. Brush on egg yolk, then I pop it in the oven.

Voila!

I’ve baked this bread before and the recipe I used, Grand Champion Dill Bread, is from the 1979/80 issue of Better Homes & Gardens Creative Ideas: Baking Ideas. If you happen to have that issue around, as I do, it’s on page 16. If not, please see recipe below. Let me tell you, the aromas while it’s baking are absolutely heavenly and the bread itself, piping hot from the oven, delicious.  I was afraid I might have forgotten how to bake bread, but, happily, it all came rushing back. Like riding a bike. So, I may be baking bread again soon.

Now, here’s how I managed BF (Black Friday).  My son and I went on a reconnaissance mission. Which means, we gathered by his computer to review the Black Friday circulars at a website devoted to just that (bfads.net). We then made a list of what we both wanted and, while I manned our secret headquarters (aka, my home), he plunged into the night, to stand in line at Best Buy.

Traveling incognito, he arrived a half hour before opening, and quickly discovered the parking lot was already full. He was about to yell, “ABORT, ABORT!,” when suddenly he realized there was parking available across the street. He then fell in line, with about several hundred BF shoppers, a line that wrapped once around the store. By 12:15 a.m. he was in, and our mission was underway: to search out the items on our list.

Meanwhile, my job was to be on standby (like one of those phone operators in India). Periodically, he’d call me to have me check prices online, verify product codes, and check availability. Isn’t technology amazing?

I only had two items on the list we made: the latest Harry Potter film just released on DVD, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. It was on sale for $9.99. Also on my list, a blu-ray disc player selling for a low $39.99, which we knew would be a long shot as, at those prices, they always go fast.

Success! More or less. Despite being told they were out of the blu-ray disc players, he found a lone one, discarded in another aisle, no doubt by someone who had changed their mind. As for the DVD, he picked up the right one, then at the last minute, he switched the it  for a version that claimed to be in 3-D, as he had recently purchased for himself a 3-D television and wanted to try it out.  Unfortunately, in the excitement of the moment, he didn’t notice that the 3-D version was actually part one of The Deathly Hallows and not part two.

The upshot was that I got to lounge around and relax with a movie on TV while he ran around like crazy gathering his purchases.  He did say that everything was nice and orderly and the people, including the customers, were rather helpful. The worst part? The line to pay. It took him over an hour to get through that line.

So how about you? How did you spend Thanksgiving and Black Friday?

Grand Champion Dill Bread

1 package active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water

1 cup dairy sour cream

1 beaten egg

1 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon dill seed

1 tablespoon dried dill weed

1 teaspoon salt

4 to 6 cups unbleached flour

1 beaten egg yolk

In large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Stir in sour cream, beaten egg, butter, onion, sugar, dill seed, dill weed, salt and 1 cup of the flour. Beat with spoon till well blended. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can with a spoon. Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Continue kneading till smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl; turn once to grease surface. Let rise till double, 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours. Punch down; divide in thirds. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Roll each third to an 18-inch rope. Place on greased baking sheet; braid. Combine egg yolk and 2 teaspoons water; brush atop loaf. Bake in 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Makes 1 loaf.

My Two Cents

From time to time, I have random thoughts spinning through my head, which I need to get out. Like today. These are my musings in a nutshell, which I’m happy to share, rather, unload, on you.

And They’re Off!  I don’t know about you, but I keep getting all stressed out by Black Friday, which is just days away. The anticipation, the frenzy, the mad rush to buy, buy, BUY! But, if you ask me, BF has become a holiday in and of itself. Our annual duty as Americans, to open our wallets and hand over our cashola, to the retail industry. Needless to say, Black Friday is as integral to our way of life as eating deep-fried Twinkies at country fairs, and voting for the next American Idol.

It seems to me, this holiday is buried next to Thanksgiving and is in danger of getting lost in its shadow. Indeed, we’re doing it a disservice by wedging it between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Throw in Hanukkah and Kwanza, and it’s a recipe for disaster, my friends.

Which is why I’m proposing we move Black Friday to sometime in the summer, away from all the holiday hysteria. Cyber Monday, too, for that matter.  Let’s move them both and spread out our national holidays, once and for all.  It’s time we let Congress know we won’t stand for anyone squishing our holidays together anymore, unless of course, we’re talking about the 12 Days of Christmas or the eight days of Hanukkah. Those, we can still keep together.  Incidentally, have you thought about what you’re getting me for Black Friday this year?

Queen of America — Adventures by the Book does it again!  Looking for something fun to do this holiday season?  Get lost in a book or two, with exciting opportunities to meet really cool authors. I always enjoy these events and the rare experience it gives you to get to know an author and the backstory of their book.

First up, on December 3rd, you can spend an intimate evening with renowned author and Pulitzer Prize-winner, Luis Alberto Urrea.  Enjoy a margarita and appetizers while learning about Urrea’s latest novel, Queen of America (and no, it’s not about me!). This sequel to The Hummingbird’s Daughter is, as Vanity Fair magazine puts it, “vibrant, larger-than-life fiction based on the ‘Saint of Cabora.’” Listen up, you folks in the Northwest:  Adventures by the Book is planning a similar event on December 7th in Portland, Oregon.

Silver Sparrow – On December 6th, Adventures is hosting a divine dinner with author Tayari Jones, who also happens to be a member of She Writes! I’m reading her book right now, Silver Sparrow, and it is wonderfully told from the perspective of a young girl whose father is a bigamist. He has two separate families and only one of them knows about the other. It is a story of deceit (a tangled web, if you ask me), and when the teenage daughters from both families finally meet, well, you just know something’s going to hit the fan.

After Happily Ever After  — Now that I’m blogging for the Huffington Post, including its Divorce section, I’m making all kinds of connections. Which is how I came to link up with Kate Schermerhorn. She has produced a fascinating documentary, After Happily Ever After, inspired by her own marriage and divorce—and subsequent second marriage. Kate asks, why do so many people marry when half those marriages will end in divorce?  Which reminds me of an observation I heard on the pilot episode of the struggling, NBC sitcom, Whitney. In it, Whitney observes, that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Yet, if we were told that 50 percent of planes  crash, would we still by as likely to fly? Hmm….Definitely something to ponder.

Kate talks to many couples, young and old, dressed and naked. (Yes, one of the couples believes in a nudist lifestyle, which is probably why their marriage is working.)  She also talks to psychologist John Gottman, who can predict divorce with 90% accuracy. Kate and her second husband are seen throughout the documentary, and as it progresses, you see their own marriage beginning to dissolve. It’s a candid film, with a humorous flair, and recommended viewing for anyone in a relationship or wanting to be in one. Visit the website for more info.

The End of an Era – Last Friday was the final taping of One Life to Live, a tearful day for the actors of my favorite soap opera. My heart goes out to the cast and crew who worked on the show for so many years, and then were unceremoniously kicked to the curb (Thank you, ABC).  Some of you may know I was planning to “retire” in Llanview, USA, where the fictitious soap was set. Now, who knows? I may have to work forever.

There are plans to move One Life to the web, but only time will tell how well that works. For now, I’ll just cry my eyes out, for the loss of so many juicy storylines and appealing characters.  I mean, where else could you see on TV, characters grow up, from infancy to adulthood, in about five years?

Art Meets Glass — Don’t forget! You still have until this Friday to enter my first giveaway! Read the post, Art Meets Glass and Then Some to find out how.

So, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Happy Black Friday, too.  And if you’re looking for me on BF, I’ll be the one with the blithering, far off, uncaffeinated stare, waiting on a line about six blocks long, just to fulfill my civic duty as an American consumer.

And proud of it.

Call Me Thankful

In keeping with the season, it’s fitting to take a moment to express gratitude. Of course, what I’m grateful for runs the gamut, from A to Z.

Alice, my grade-school chum, who was challenged and different from my other classmates. I’d button her coat for her each school day because she couldn’t do it for herself. In return, she taught me how to share when she’d break off for me, half of her Drake’s Devil Dog snack, at recess. I’ll never forget my sweet, childhood friend.

Blogging. I’m finally getting the hang of it and I love it!

Chargers. The San Diego Chargers, that is. This football team has given me a chance to bond with my son and spend fun times together. Thanks to Josh, I’m a diehard fan!

When I'm tap dancing, I'm channeling Fred Astaire!

Daughter and Son. My kids are alright (Somebody, knock on wood!), having given me little trouble over the years. Best of all, they think I’m a good mother. As Sally Field once said, “They like me! They really like me!” All the guilt I poured on clearly paid off!

Empathy. It made me happy when my son’s daycare teacher told me, Josh had empathy at the tender age of 3. Having it means you care and can understand the plight of others. Indeed, we could all use a little empathy.

Family in San Diego at last! For the first time, I have family living nearby (not counting my kids who don’t live here anymore, anyway). I so adore my cousins, Roxanna, Daniel and David. I just love having them in my neck of the woods! And to all my family—and friends—I offer my heartfelt thank you.

Giving: Giving, no matter the size of the gift, is genuinely a wonderful thing. No doubt our desire to give to charities and help those in need is closely tied to our capacity for feeling empathy.

Harvest moons on a cool evening, when I’m out walking Henry. Ah, perfection!

Indigo, one of my favorite hues, somewhere between blue and purple.

Joy. That’s what I get when I think about the little things in life, like a text message from Sarah, or the embrace of an old friend. Pure joy.

Kathleen, my petite, blonde friend and colleague. A lifeline in times of stress. The woman could crack me up with just one look. She’s still in my address book, and I can’t let go or hit the delete button. Thank you for being in my life, Kathleen, if only for a little while. I will remember you. Always.

LOL. The laughs started years ago when I saw my first Abbott and Costello film and haven’t stopped yet. Some call it the best medicine. I call it the key to life.

Music and Musicals, the soundtrack of my life. I love many genres of music and I’m a big fan of Broadway. To paraphrase Tom Cruise, “Music, you complete me.”

Nordies, aka, Nordstrom’s, my favorite place to shop. An oasis among the retail clutter, especially since I met Patrice, my own personal stylist. Patrice really has a flair for style. Thank you, Nordies, for bringing her into my life!

Old-Time Hollywood StarsCary Grant, James Cagney, Bette Davis and so on. They represented the best of Hollywood’s Golden Years.

Pets. As in dogs. As in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. As in Henry, my pampered pet.

Queens. My first stomping grounds. The best place to grow up, if you ask me.

Rafael, my brother, who willingly took on the role of parent to his siblings. He’s also a good husband and father, not to mention an amazing uncle to my kids. He’s always there for all of us.

Sleep. I seem to have a love/hate relationship with sleep. I often end up putting it off, simply because I have too much to do and not enough time in the day. But when I finally fall asleep, ah….that’s heaven.

Tap Dancing. I’ve always said that you can’t be sad when you’re tap dancing. Trust me, whether I’m doing a ball change or a shuffle, I’m channeling Fred Astaire!

Universe and Everything. So much to see, so much still to discover!

Venezuela. At least, the Venezuela of my youth. It’s different now, but back then it was my second home, and it is and always will be, my heritage.

Wonder. Little can compare to a child’s sense of wonder. Try to keep a little of it always and you’ll be the better for it.

Xylophone, when played in jazz, it’s awesome.

You. Without you, my blog is nothing. Like a tree falling in the forest and no one to hear it. So, thank you, and thank you for your insightful comments.

Zone, as in The Twilight Zone. This is one of my favorite, all-time, (not for kids) childhood shows. I loved how it terrified me and am grateful that I got to meet its host and creator, Rod Serling, in Central Park, way back when.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers. I’m taking the rest of the week off and I’ll be back next week with more stories, more tangled webs to weave. In the meantime, feel free to add your own list of what you’re thankful for this year. Toodles!

My Men in Stripes

My friend, Sherri thinks I should find me a man.  Not just any man, mind you.  The kind Sherri’s thinking about is the sort who’s made a killing—though not necessarily in the stock market. Some might call them scalawags, rascals or just plain evil. But to my friend Sherri, they’re available and on the market.  So unless I do something about it, Sherri tells me I could be missing out.

Men like Scott Petersen—the guy with the bad hair dye and goatee, headed for the border when the police found him. Scott, who was found guilty of killing his wife and unborn child, is now on death row. Then there’s Drew Peterson, whose fourth wife went missing in 2007 and is in prison awaiting trial for allegedly killing his third wife.

Or actor, Robert Blake, attractive in his youth, but who now has a grim-reaper sort of look about him and shaved-off eyebrows. Ironically, he portrayed a murderer in the film, In Cold Blood. Then later played a detective with a cockatoo sidekick in the TV series from the seventies, Baretta. Ah Baretta (He’ll always be Baretta to me), alas I knew you when.  As it turns out, Baretta was acquitted of murdering his second wife, though later found liable in a civil trial for her wrongful death.

Then there’s Grammy Award-winning producer, Phil Spector, serving 19 years in prison for second-degree murder of an actress in his home.  Apparently he’ll be eligible for parole when he’s 88.

I have to agree with Sherri. They’re all worth considering, especially since I don’t see anyone better on the horizon and frankly, I’m not getting any younger.  Which is why I’ve decided, before I settle on just one of these rebels without a cause, I’m going to invite them all for Thanksgiving dinner.

Here’s how it’ll unfold:  First I’ll write to the wardens from each of the prisons that are holding these eligible bachelors and, in my most persuasive manner I will convince the wardens that these prisoners deserve a special meal for the holidays, and that they should be released for the day.  My rationale for their release will be so compelling (once I come up with it) that the wardens will have no choice but to release them to me no questions asked.  Indeed, they will absolutely trust me and know that I will get them back before lights out. Pinky swear.

I’ll rent a van to pick them up (let’s hope they’re all located relatively near each other so that I won’t have to traipse all over California, which is rather a big state, after all).  Picking up Drew will be a problem because he’s in another state, and as for Baretta, he will need to drive himself, since he’s not in prison but in seclusion in some top secret location.

For the occasion, I’ll prepare the best Thanksgiving meal, which means this is not going to be potluck (I know what they serve in prison and I don’t want any of that sop at this table).

I will have to put away all the items around the house that can be used as weapons.  Phil will insist on wearing one of his striking wigs, which is ok with me as long as it isn’t that porcupine wig he wore during the trial and as long as he’s not hiding a knife or tweezer beneath it.  I’ll ask Baretta to regale us with tales of his film and TV days and find out if he has any kiss-and-tell stories about Elizabeth Taylor, Debbie Reynolds or Truman Capote.

Since Drew hasn’t had his trial yet, I’ll ask the other boys to help brainstorm arguments for his defense.  I’m sure Scott, Baretta and Phil have a few tricks up their sleeves.  I’ll ask Scott how his appeals are going (when you get the death penalty, there’s always a gazillion appeals).  Phil Spector will no doubt want to dance so I’ll put on some records and play songs produced by Phil himself, the man who invented the Wall of Sound.  I’ll even bring out the karaoke machine and serenade him with one of his songs, “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin,” and hope that he doesn’t take it personally.

After dinner, Drew will help me with the dishes. I’ll then bring out a board game such as Clue, which Scott will win when he deduces that Colonel Mustard killed Mr. Boddy with a gun in the conservatory.  We’ll all have a good laugh over that one.

Finally, with our bellies full of turkey and pumpkin pie, we’ll get cozy and play a round or two of spin the bottle.  As I look into the eyes of each of these hapless scoundrels, I’ll know.  Oh yes, I’ll know which one is guilty of stealing my heart.  Let’s just hope I don’t have to wait a life sentence for the second date.