Category Archives: fish

Hospitality

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Hospitality comes in all forms, sometimes simple and warm, other

times it is elaborate and luxurious. There are times in our lives,

each one has its ‘benefits’ and comforts, too.

 

My ex-sister in law, Linda, was such a special woman. She was so

kind and thoughtful. We had her up a few times for holidays, but

as she had invited us numerous times, we felt compelled to go her

direction- to Roanoke, Virginia. We were excited since we had at

the time six children, three of his and three of mine. Yet, we were

given a ‘vacation reprieve,’ while my parents were taking my two

girls and a boy, his other sister and her husband, were taking his

two boys and a girl. They were both heading in different directions

with the children, one to the far western part of Ohio for my parents

to where their ‘home camp site’ part of the Good Sam camping club,

and the other three were heading to a farm out by Johnstown, Ohio.

They were going to help pitch in with pigs and also, dunk in a spring

fed pond to wash the smell and dirt off, enjoying ‘country living.’

 

Linda had sent me a questionnaire; really!  Smiling right now at her

sweet questions, asking me to rate some of her favorite and practiced

dishes, letting her know which ones I would like her to prepare for

our meals. This way, she had thoughtfully and carefully planned all

the meals and had competed her shopping, too. Mike told me he loved

ALL of her home cooking, so not to worry about checking back with

him. She also asked in this fun and interesting quiz, what activities I

liked, what treats I enjoyed snacking on and other hospitable questions.

 

Upon our arrival, we found a lovely fruit basket in her guest room. It

had (at the time, I felt this way) ‘exotic’ fruits like starfruit and kiwi,

along with apples, pears and tangerines. I had told her I didn’t like

bananas, unless they are greenish, never any brown spots on them.

So, Mike who loved his bananas ripened, no such luck for him!

 

We had brought her a stone carved into an angel for her garden.

Linda was so thrilled and we felt we could not have brought her

a better gift. This is how a generous and caring hostess greets her

guests and makes them feel so welcome.

 

On our pillows, I had three Lindt dark chocolate balls. No, at this

time I had never tried them, but when asked which candy I liked in

my Easter basket (yes, this was a true question!) Linda found out I

liked the white chocolate bunnies, the dark chocolate covered coconut

eggs, and the milk chocolate maple eggs. I would switch with my two

brothers until I had the combination I enjoyed most.  (The second

night she put a Heath bar on my pillow and on and on, until we left

after a four day visit. Back to the plain old house, with the bustling

children there. Shoot!)

 

When we went into her newly furnished bathroom, she had placed

the exact color of towels she had seen in our own bathroom. I had

‘assigned’ Mike an olive green and I had lilac or lavender colored

towels at our house together. I had always felt if I ever had more

than one bathroom, I would decorate with a basket of violets and

those colors. Linda had bought a large bath towel, hand towel and

two wash cloths, in the colors from home.

 

As you can guess, we had delicious meals, went to many scenic

places, along with a beautiful mansion to eat our dinner at. It was

set off the road, quite a step back in history to the elegant antebellum

period of time. This is the period between the 1812 war and the Civil

war. I like to think of “Gone with the Wind,” when I reminisce about

this lovely place. The meal was delectable, with our being able to

choose one, two or three meats for our meal. My ex, Mike, being tall

and lanky, able to eat as much as he wanted order the three meats’

meal. Linda ordered pork and I ordered chicken. The other meat

was beef.  We had dressed up, full of expectation, which we were not

disappointed in this at all.

 

When I was growing up, my Grandmother Mattson, liked to make

desserts. Her German heritage helped to prepare yummy breakfasts.

We would usually have a simple meat, vegetable and sometimes a

bread or potato. My Grandfather had changed her into a Swedish

chef, for meals and a gourmet streusel, rum balls, Black Forest cherry

cake or German chocolate cake would be our reward for eating a

well prepared meal, but healthy for our lives. We still don’t prepare

our daily meals with many complicated recipes or sauces.

 

When we would arrive, my Grandmother would be given a gift,

my Mom called it her “hostess gift.” She emphasized respect, love

and never arriving at someone’s house, ’empty handed.’ Often, the

gift was flowers. Sometimes, it was a bouquet, often it was a potted

plant of lilies, tulips, or daffodils in the Spring, burgundy or golden

mums, if it were Autumn. Late summer, my Mom liked to pick out

sunflowers, along with asters. Sometimes, these could be found at

roadside tables, along the country back roads from Cleveland to the

town of Middletown, Ohio.

 

Mom often would give my Grandma a pretty tea towel, candy and

if she had baked cookies, those were stored in a tin for them to open

after we left. Once, my brothers got into that tin and boy! Did they

ever get in trouble!

 

When my parents retired the hospitality became less structured, it

was now Lake Erie casual dining experiences, find your beach towels

on the fence or in the linen closet. When they moved from the suburbs,

the antiques got shipped to an auction house, barely any were saved.

I was asked, but I had decided on Early American or Colonial period

having been raised in a Victorian style home, I was anxious to choose

a different way of decorating. Sometimes, I do wish I had saved some

of the special pieces, but then when I moved to my little apartment,

it would have been bittersweet parting at such a late date from them.

 

When we were on our way to my parents, we would use our landline

phone to call theirs. “Leaving now, see you in about 3 hours.” We were

not ones to carry on much conversation. Even now, when I call my Mom,

she immediately asks, “Is everything all right, Robin?” or “Are you okay,

dear?” (This works for all of us, since she and Dad named us all with “R”

in the beginning, it is quite a silly thing to hear her go through the names,

including my Dad’s, too.)

 

Upon leaving the last highway and getting onto Baumhart Road, our

labrador retriever mutt, Toby, would howl.  He knew the lake was out

there, wanted the window open to snort and sniff. He would walk on

top of people to get to the window, but usually even in the dead of

winter, we would ‘humor’ the good ol’ boy.

 

If it were Summer, my Dad would hear us honk about three times, as

we passed the Showse Park beach area. He would get up off his lounge

chair, go to the back of the house, grab these spongy things called,

“noodles” and usually for fun, had a Life Preserver over his shoulder.

This man was so ecstatic to have company, more than you would ever

know if you had been his friend at work or in the church we went to.

 

Dad would have either croquet set up or the net for badminton or

volleyball. If anyone mentioned a different preference, Dad was on

top of this, so excited to be able to play with the kids. You may have

read awhile back, my Dad gave up his childhood play time pursuits

at age 11, to start working to help pay rent and take care of his own

mother. His father had been in the war, was in Cincinnati Veteran’s

Hospital.  Being retired was like Heaven at the end of years of being

‘on top of things.’

 

The formal ‘bar’ my Dad had had, with all kinds of liquor, the “Old

Mr. Boston’s” book of bartender’s recipes and the side dishes of olives,

onions, cherries and orange slices were gone. The Beach retirement

life style meant you could grab a beer, pop, water or wine cooler from

the three full bags of iced up beverages in the huge coolers kept under

the picnic tables on the carport.

 

Food was sandwiches, available 24/7, with various delicatessen meats,

cheeses and condiments in the drawer of the refrigerator. If anyone

showed up who wished to get a frozen lemonade and make it in a

pitcher or stayed a few days and wished to make some Sun Tea,

all the ‘fixings’ were here. There were steaks, chops, salmon and

hamburgers in the freezer. If my brothers wanted to take the time

to fire up the gas grill and prepare them, all of us were overjoyed.

Otherwise, Mom and I would make potato and macaroni salad in

the early cool hours of the morning and were quite content with

nibbling on snacks, cookies and an occasional piece of meat or

cheese.

 

Relaxed dress code, shirt optional.

Wow, this was the simple and warm hospitality I had mentioned

in that first paragraph.

 

Please share some of your favorite places you have gone, where

hospitality was special to you. Oh, since I didn’t cover the whole

gamut of Southern Hospitality, please pitch in with some details!

 

 

Hearts Among the Treasures Found in February

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February has so much to enjoy and appreciate, despite some of us

who have to endure such cold weather.  I have fun thinking about

what will good ole’ Punxsutauney Phil do on Groundhog’s Day,

how will we celebrate each of the Presidents, along with will any

of my grandchildren make me handmade Valentine’s Day cards

or will they give me a Sponge Bob Square Pants, Batman, Frozen

or Angry Bird valentines?

February is “Wise Health Care Consumer Month.”

There are choices in your reducing health care costs

and making good ones in your physicians, too.  Learn

more about over-the-counter and the prescription

medicines you take, asking what dosage is the least

you need to be the most healthy. Although it is not

always suggested, I like to take nutritional supplements

to ‘back up’ the fresh vegetables, fruits, fiber and protein

sources I choose to consume.

I take out a few decorations for this festive month, including a

couple of American flags which I put two on my door, along with

Cupid, a heart and a laminated Snoopy giving his pal Woodstock

a Valentine. This about covers most of the main ‘holiday rituals.’

I have had the cupid and “Peanuts” laminated pictures, ever

since my years of teaching middle school in the 80’s.

Amy Poehler, comic, actress and “SNL” show alumni

gives us good, comforting advice for February:

“I think sleep can be really magical

because sometimes Balance is only

a day away.”

FEBRUARY

Birthstone: Amethyst

Flower: Violets

Purple is a beautiful color echoed in both the gem

and the flower of the month.

Feb. 1-

“National Freedom Day”

“There is one thing stronger than all the armies in

the world and that is an idea whose time has come.”

~* Victor Hugo.

It is Super Bowl Sunday!

Are you rooting for the New England Patriots or

the Seattle Sea Hawks?

What snacks will you serve? If you wish to read

about the history of hot sauce on chicken wings,

you can push your clicker on the side panel of

my topics to read about. Recipes included from

past posts, too.

Feb. 2-

“Candlemas”

“If Candlemas be dark

with clouds and rain,

Winter is gone and

won’t come again.”

(“The Old Farmer’s Almanac,” 2015 edition.)

Groundhog Day.

You know the results, don’t you? If he sees his shadow,

he will run and hide, means a longer time until Spring.

If it is a gloomy day, and he doesn’t see his shadow, we

are that much closer to warmer weather.

Another special occasion is “The 14th Annual AARP

Movies for Grownups Awards.” Kevin Costner will

be honored to receive the career achievement award.

I would like to see his newest family movie that deals

with his character raising his bi-racial grandchild.

Viola Davis plays the other side of the family’s

grandmother, scenes look funny and uplifting.

It is called, “Black or White.” (Nothing ever is. . .)

Feb. 3-

Full Snow Moon.

On February 3, 1913 the U.S. Congress was

authorized to impose a federal income tax

under the 16th Amendment of the U. S.

Constitution. The beginning of our tax ‘woes.’

Feb. 5-

Personal special day, will go to see my Mom if the

weather is good the weekend after this day. It is

the 60th anniversary since my Mom and Dad got

married. In only 9 months and a week, I will be 60.

So many family members of my parents counted

back to make sure I was “legitimate!”

Feb. 9-

Family Day in British Columbia.

This is the beginning of a great week titled,

“Random Acts of Kindness Week.”

Feb. 11- Last Quarter Moon.

Feb. 12-

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday.

The way he read books by the fire and the “Honest

Abe” nickname, made this President special to me,

as a child. Later, when his assassination was more

emphasized in Social Studies, I felt sad to have lost

this fine hero.

The military services always wish for U.S. citizens

to fly their flags for past presidents.

Feb. 13-

This is Friday the 13th… ooh! Some people

believe you may wish to be more careful.

Are you superstitious?

Feb. 14-

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Flowers or candy? Special jewelry or friendly

exchange of Valentine’s Day cards, however

you celebrate, hope it is a fun day for you.

I happen to like heart cookies with vanilla

frosting, what is your favorite ‘treat?’

Flavia quote:

“Love lives forever and belies the passage of time.

It is what we take with us wherever we go.”

The shiny ‘heart shaped’ flowers of the tropical

anthurium are perfect fir a romantic bouquet,

suggested by “Old Farmer’s Almanac,”

2015 edition.

I happen to like peach roses or pink-tipped

carnations. The scent of the roses is sweet

while the carnations smell ‘spicy’ to me.

Last but certainly not least, this is also our

“National Have-A-Heart Day” where the aim

is to raise awareness of healthy eating and

taking care of our hearts.

Feb. 15-

National Flag of Canada Day.

Susan B. Anthony’s birthday.

In 1808, on this date in history, the U.S.S. Maine sank.

Remembering veterans and servicemen.

Feb. 16-

Presidents’ Day observed, United States.

The American Veterans request you proudly

fly your flag.

President George Washington’s birthday is on

February 22nd, but most calendars say we

“observe” his and all other presidents’ today.

Celebrate the tale of young, honest George,

who said, “I cannot tell a lie, I chopped down

the cherry tree,” by having a piece of cherry pie

with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Yummy! I suppose if you were dieting you

could simply eat some fresh cherries or

have cherry yogurt.

A book recommendation from “AARP Magazine” is

of Robert Middlekauff’s “Washington’s Revolution:

The Making of America’s First Leader.”

Celebrate “Family Day” (Alta., Ontario, and Sask.)

The mid-month “Old Farmer’s Almanac,” 2015 suggests

planting winter beets. They are hardy, which surprised me

that they can be planted in the winter time. (Should your

ground not be frozen solid.) They suggest harvesting beet

greens when they are a couple of inches tall.

Did you know the ‘new green sprouts’ can be added to a

salad and are considered delicious?  I learn something

new every time I open and read the almanac. They are

most tender before they reach 6″. This will not disturb

the growth of those red or purple beets, which provide

sorts of healing powers, through their nutritiousness.

Feb. 17-

“Fat Tuesday”

or “Mardi Gras.”

Celebrating the last day before you go on a ‘fast’

for Lent. This seems early and I re-checked this

fact. We have forty days of Lenten Season, before

Easter, should you be Catholic or another church

which celebrates the ‘walk’ of Jesus’ last days by

not indulging in what you crave.

I like the idea which my friends and coworkers do,

eating pancakes with sausage, bacon and eggs. The

Filipino coworkers have a traditional feast full of

a variety of savory and spicy foods.

What I remember from my childhood was receiving

those Lenten “fish” cardboard boxes where we would

put our leftover lunch or allowance money into. On

the last Sunday before Easter, (Palm Sunday) we could

turn them in and they would go to a needy cause.

These days the church I am affiliated with uses the

money for preparing and serving twice a month free

meals for those who wish to come. We also collect

products once a month for local humane shelters,

the battered women’s shelter in Marion (“Choices”)

and  P.I.N. which stands for a food pantry that is

called, “People in Need.” If you wish to do something

extra this month and the next, check out local centers.

You may make a big difference, “in the spirit of Lent.”

Feb. 18-

“Ash Wednesday” is the first day of Lent. Some

Catholic and other churches use ashes to form a

cross on a person’s forehead denoting the start

of the Lenten Season. Mass or communion is

usually served on this day at churches.

New Moon.

“The February sunshine steeps your boughs

and tints the buds and smells the leaves within.”

~*Written by William C. Bryant

(American Poet,  1794-1878.)

Feb. 19-

HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!

This calls for my going to our local Chinese

restaurant and ordering Sweet and Sour Chicken or

Shrimp, or if I am in a spicy mood, General Tso’s

Chicken or Pork. I will ask for a fortune cookie

should they forget to throw one in. I will let you

know my fortune, hope you will let me know yours.

Feb. 20-

Heritage Day, (Y.T.)

Feb. 22-

If you still have some leftover cherry pie, you may

wish to celebrate George Washington’s ‘real’

birthday today!

This is the Academy Awards or Oscar’s night.

If you are one who likes the Red Carpet, the

guests and singers who will perform the “Best

Song” nominations, or just like to have a fun

time watching all the famous people, this is

one of my favorite nights of the year! I get

some snacks, popcorn or chips and dip, some

nuts and a piece of fruit, sometimes if there is

any leftover wine, or if I need to stay awake,

(more likely) I drink some flavored coffee.

Feb. 23-

The infamous photograph represents this real

event in history today, 70 years ago today:

The flag was raised on Iwo Jima in 1945.

Feb. 25- First 1/4 Moon.

Feb. 27-

Battle of Java Sea, 1942.

Here is a pray or words to consider for February:

“Extra Things

We thank thee, God (or Higher Being) for extra things

You send along our way,

Both when our days are sunny bright

And when our skies are gray.

The little planned surprises dropped

From Thy great, loving hand,

Like unexpected showers on

A parched and desert land.

The meeting of an old-time friend,

The lifting of a care,

And sunlight breaking through the clouds,

To tell us You are there.

Just why You do these extra things

Our finite minds don’t know;

It must be you delight in them

Because you love us so.”

~*Written by Alice Hanche Mortenson.

The above prayer could be just pleasant thoughts sent your

way, as if someone sneezed and you say automatically,

“Bless you!”

What special things do you do to celebrate the month of February?

Unique December Facts

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“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

The good news is December has been declared Bingo Celebration

Month! I used to love it when my family would play this, with

guests. Sometimes my cousins, sometimes neighbors, we would

be out on the picnic table with our chips and our Dad would be

the one to spin the wire caged wheel and pull out the wooden

balls with the letters, “B,I,N,G” or “O.”

Did you know this is an ‘ancient’ game? It has been around since

the 1500’s.

I used to love being the “Caller” for Bingo at the Arbors Nursing Home,

while my residents were always happy to call out, “Bingo!” The young

volunteers would run over and give them their quarter. When the whole

card got filled, we would start all over again. The reward for a filled card

was one dollar bill. This was a big exciting reward to the folks who lived

there.

 

On a much more solemn note, December 16, 1944 was the day the big

“Battle of the Bulge” was carried out.

 

The Official End of WWII was on December 31, 1946.

Peace on Earth, Good will to Men.

 

Did you know every day of the month has a food item?

 

DECEMBER DAYS OF FOOD (Beverage or Other):

Dec. 1- National Pie Day.

Eat A Red Apple Day.

 

Dec. 2- National Apple Pie Day.

 

Dec. 4- National Cookie Day.

(Every day is this one for me! smiles)

 

Dec. 5- Repeal Day ~ Prohibition Day (U.S.).

National Sacher Torte Day.

(In Vienna, Austria a man named Franz Sacher created this

delicious chocolate, light cake or torte, in 1832.)

 

Dec. 6- National Gazpacho Day.

(Associated with Andalusia, part of Spain, but its roots go back

into Arab and other ancient times. Cold, savory soup, made of

raw vegetables.)

Also, National Microwave Oven Day.

(I do appreciate this electronic invention.)

 

Dec. 7- National Cotton Candy Day.

(Why is this in our winter? Is this for places who have fairs and

festivals in December?)

 

Dec. 8- National Chocolate Brownie Day.

Dec. 9- National Pastry Day.

Dec. 10- National Lager Day.

 

Dec. 11- National Noodle Ring Day.

(This is hard to find its roots, but mainly described as

a circle of noodles with a cheese incorporated into it,

attributed to Germany.)

 

Dec. 12- National Cocoa Day.

 

Dec. 13- National Ice Cream Day.

(Why, again, are we eating ice cream in the cold weather?

This must be made up by people in warmer climates.

Also, National Violins Day.

 

Dec. 14- National Bouillabaisse Day.

(I enjoy this savory, warm soup. It originated from fishing

villages in France. Marseilles may have been its first place

of origin, with three kinds of fish and Provencal seasonings.)

 

Dec. 15- National Cupcake Day.

 

**Dec. 16- National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day!!**

Woo hoo!

 

Dec. 17- National Maple Syrup Day.

(This would be the perfect day or excuse to make pancakes

or waffles!)

 

Dec. 18- National Suckling Pig Day.

(This comes from mainly Chinese cuisine, but there are some

references going back to Roman times. This is a very young

pig, which has a lot of collagen in its skin, hard to ‘crisp up,’

while it is considered a delicacy.)

 

Dec. 19- National Hard Candy.

(What is your favorite hard candy?

My Dad’s was either horehound or cinnamon drops.

Mom’s was butterscotch drops. My favorite flavor is found in

either the caramel flavored Nips or Werther’s candies.)

 

Dec. 20- National Fried Shrimp Day.

(This makes me think of Louisiana cooking with crawdads or

prawns. This would be prepared as Shrimp Creole. I enjoy

the butter sauce with garlic infusion:  Shrimp Scampi.)

 

Also on the 20th- National Sangria Day.

“Ole!”

(You probably already know this is my Mom’s favorite wine

to sip on at bedtime, using a small juice glass. I have a

Spanish toast on another post…)

 

Dec. 21- National Hamburger Day.

Going from the red meat to fruit…

National Kiwi Fruit Day.

 

Dec. 22- National Date Nut Bread.

 

Dec. 23- National Pfeffernuesse Day.

(This traditional German spice cookie covered with powdered

confectioner’s sugar is one that takes me back to my Grandma’s

kitchen. It reminds me of the flavors of gingerbread cookies.)

 

Dec. 24- National Feast of the Seven Fishes.

(This comes from Italy, which celebrates the Wait or Vigil for

the Baby Jesus, by serving fish from the Mediterranean Sea.)

 

Also, National Egg Nog Day.

(I like this use of nutmeg, heavy cream and Irish whiskey or

other alcohol. Mom likes the non-alcoholic milky drink from

United Dairy Farmers.)

 

Dec. 25- National Pumpkin Pie Day.

(Just in case you didn’t get enough of this holiday pie at

Thanksgiving.)

 

Dec. 26- National Candy Cane Day.

Dec. 27- National Fruit Cake Day.

 

Dec. 28- National Chocolate Candy Day.

(Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter also celebrate

this national holiday- just being ‘facetious.’)

 

Dec. 29- National Pepper Pot Soup Day.

(There are recipes for this Jamaican cuisine along

with one from Philadelphia.)

 

Dec. 30- National Bicarbonate of Soda Day,

(Thank you for this Baking Soda Day. I like to use this

special rising ingredient in many baked goods, but can

taste it the most in homemade biscuits.)

 

Dec. 31- National Champagne Day.

(Say a toast to “Auld Lang Syne”  and Happy New Year, 2015!)

 

The research on some of these food items is not complete, but I did

look up the ones I did not know where the foods originated in. If

you would like to share a favorite family traditional food item in the

comments section, we would enjoy hearing about them. Thank you!

 

 

 

Beloved Companions

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This is a simple post with some quotes and thoughts about pets,

especially the four-legged creatures that are pups and hounds.

If you are a cat-lover, as my dear friend Jenny is, you may still

enjoy the quotes. One had a photo of a group of pets, two dogs

and a cat looking out the window for their owner.

I believe domestic animals of many kinds, can be our ‘children’

or our ‘angels in disguise.’ Native Americans believe their are

special ‘spirits’ inhabited in wild animals, too.

 

“Some of our greatest historical and artistic

treasures we place with curators in museums;

others we take for walks.”

(Found with a photo of a beagle pup, leash in his cute

puppy mouth.)

~ Roger Caras ~

 

“One of our oldest human needs

is having someone wonder

where you are when you don’t

come home at night.”

(Accompanied by a photo of a cat, beagle and Labrador

retriever gazing out the picture window.)

~ Margaret Meade ~

 

“I always say,

Friends are the family

we choose,

Is it any wonder dogs are

called,

‘Man’s best friend?'”

(Anonymous. Accompanied by a photo of an Irish retriever

licking the face of an elderly man in a wheel chair.)

 

“Family Circle,” February, 2014 had this collection of

subscribers’ comments about the ways people cherished

their pets, who had passed on.

 

“In Memory Of. . .”

 

1. “We used her ashes on the two dogwood trees we

planted. Which you can see outside our windows.

She’s helping them grow.”

 

2. “I put his name tag on my key ring.”

 

3. “I donated to the animal shelter in her name.”

 

4. “I have his paw print and his picture in a frame.”

 

5. “I bought a beautiful hand-stamped, personalized

necklace with her name on it.”

 

6. “I made a memorial shadow box for our beloved

boxer.”

 

There was an interesting pie chart that included the figures

of how long it took to get another animal after the loss of a

beloved pet, labeled:

“Healing Heart.”

 

It was divided into four quadrants:

27% answered, “I still haven’t replaced my pet.”

26% mentioned it took them, “Over a year.”

26% said they were ready in, “A few months.”

Only 21% waited a ‘few weeks.’

 

It reminded me of my Dad, when he had taken our dogs to the pound

to get them euthanized. He was unable to come back home without

another dog or puppy in his arms. He had never owned a pet while a

boy. The house and walks in parks and neighborhoods, he felt, would

never have been the same without them.

Mom often says her dog, Nicki, who she got a year after my Dad passed

away, (when she had the veterinarian take her Cassie out of her painful

existence) will ‘break my heart when she goes…’

 

I only hope her heart will heal.