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“The Scent of Danger” (Written 1998)

Animals seem to be gifted with a highly sensitive cognitive ability.  Impending earthquakes, unscrupulous human vibrations, and psychic anomalies have given us many heroes from those couch potatoes that we call pets.

We look into our pets’ eyes and wonder:  What do they think about?  How do they know daddy’s car just turned into the subdivision; they’re going to the vet for shots; they’re going to the boarding kennel this time, instead of coming on the trip with us; the salesman at the door is not to be trusted?

To those of us who have benefited from our pet’s gifts, the best answers are unselfishness, love, and loyalty

When Pebbles entered our lives, she was barely eight weeks old and topped the scales at two pounds.  Most of that weight was soft, sparkling, snow-white fur.  She was the image of an Angel, with the heart of a warrior. 

As the only girl born in a litter of five, she pushed her brothers aside and fought to gain our attention.  “Me!  Me!  PICK ME!” she seemed to say.  We listened with our hearts, and she won.

Our warrior princess immediately took over our bed and our house, and took charge of our lives.  Having recently lost a precious pet (Noel) to diabetes, we were easy pickings. 

There was no prolonged housebreaking struggle.  Pebbles possessed the greatest kidneys and bladder that God ever bestowed.  Never before, in the history of animal domestication did (I believed) a puppy win the newspaper war with such great ease.  

What Pebbles did not possess was hearing.  When we realized she was deaf, many people advised that we return her to the breeder for a refund.   Those suggestions fell on deaf ears.  (Pun intended.)

We could not, and would not give her up.  Sign language took the place of speech. 

We discovered that Pebbles’ sense of smell became a psychic barometer to gauge friendly and unfriendly humans.  And she always won at hide-and-seek. We also became suspicious that she read minds and lips, but it was her remarkable nose that put her into the canine genius category. 

Whatever real or perceived abilities Pebbles possessed, we will be forever grateful that she was tuned-in on the night the burglars broke into our home.

We had just returned to San Antonio, Texas from a long weekend in Las Vegas. (Circa 1985)  Pebbles was vacationing with our son in Austin, Texas. 

When our plane landed, we opted to immediately make the one and one-half hour drive to Austin to recover Pebbles. 

At the time, our decision was prompted by the desire to avoid the Austin trip the following day.  My husband and I would be working a full day. Thus, recovering Pebbles that same night displayed good time management skills.  It would be the best decision we could ever have made.

Pebbles was delighted to see us. Doggie wiggling, squealing, kissing and cuddling took a while.  Our son rolled his eyes.  We knew he would miss her, but we also knew he didn’t share any French fries with her...ever.

By the time we made it back to San Antonio and hit the pillows it was approximately one a.m.  Exhausted and happy, we fell into a deep sleep. 

Unusual for me, I chose to dump my purse, laden with cash, travelers’ checks, and jewelry, on the kitchen table.  Normally, I would carry the purse directly into the bedroom.

In the darkest dark of that night, frantic barking and angry growls awoke us.  Pebbles was tensed at the edge of the bed, and obviously upset at something. 

In a half-stupor, my husband uttered, “What the hell is she barking about?” 

Naturally, the first thing you think about is fire.  But we smelled no smoke. 

Being an unusually light sleeper, it was additionally strange that I had not heard any suspicious noises until the barking. 

Hubby next said, “Why don’t you see what’s wrong.  Maybe she just wants to go out.”  (Here is where I’ll acknowledge the existence of my Celtic warrior ancestors.)

I got up and headed out of the bedroom with a still-barking Pebbles at my side.  At the sight of an open patio door and broken mini-blinds, I screamed: “We’ve been robbed!” 

Frantic, I grabbed a piece of quarter-round molding and ran out the front door. This was not smart, but it was the only action my mind could muster.  Attempting to get those miserable thieves and teach them a lesson was such an illogical piece of logic. Pebbles, of course, ran outside too. 

By this time, hubby was out of bed, and running towards me, as I turned and cursed that his company van had been stolen from the driveway.

The felons were gone, and we rushed back inside to phone the police.  While we waited for the law to arrive, we shakily surveyed the damage and checked to see what else had been taken. 

My purse had been relieved of its cash, travelers’ checks, jewelry and key cluster.  The keys started the van and would open our doors.  There were also keys to our two other vehicles.  We were sitting ducks.

The police were kind and sympathetic.  The formal report and fingerprint check was time consuming.  Dawn was rising, and we still needed to secure the house and have the locks changed.  The police figured that there were two, maybe three, thieves involved.  We all assumed that only the van was taken because one car was blocked by our sports car, which was a stick shift.  Young thieves, during the ’80s, apparently lacked five-on-the-floor stick shift skills. 

Before the lead policeman left, he sat us down and explained how very lucky we were to have had Pebbles, and to have made the unconscious lucky blunder of leaving the purse in such a convenient spot.  He made us aware that breaking and entering an obviously occupied house meant that the thieves were hell-bent on getting what they wanted.  They were more than likely prepared to commit bodily harm.  Perhaps even be armed.  (Wow! Good thing I had the presence of mind to arm myself with the molding. *insert snicker here*)

My husband and I speak about that night quite often. We always agree:

      Yes, our littlest Angel sensed the danger.  Additionally, Pebbles’ big, brave, barking ability belied her size. 

      The handy location of the purse also offered an alternative to further invasion of the house -- especially the bedroom. 

      We will always choose to believe that Pebbles saved us that night.

      I should never again try to win a battle with sticks and a loud mouth.

Pebbles is still with us.  She is seventeen-plus years old -- still deaf -- blind from a sneaky stroke.  But she is spirit-strong and feisty as ever. 

We realize that her time with us is running short.  Time, however, will never dim the memories, and time will never dim our love and gratitude for the warrior princess Lhasa Apso who saved us one dark night in 1985. 




Cookie: A Love Story At Christmas 


Our pets are God’s special

gifts. Please treasure them

at Christmas...and all the


¤  ¤  ¤  ¤  ¤  ¤  ¤  ¤  ¤ ¤ 

For many of us, the affectionate companionship of a pet is the most special friendship we can ever experience.  Cats, dogs, exotic birds...even tropical fish, etc., awaken our deepest emotions and bless the human spirit with compassion, understanding, and patience.

Every pet is special and unique.  We celebrate their brief time with us, and deeply mourn their passing.  Over the years, I have been trained and manipulated by five very special dogs.  Each one has a story.  Each one has been a BEST FRIEND.

COOKIE’S story begins in the early 1960’s.  She was the love child of an accidental tryst between a blond Cocker Spaniel temptress...and a snow-white Poodle Romeo at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.  She was tiny, cute and cuddly, with the dark soulful eyes of her mother and the spirited intelligence of her father.

Throughout my childhood, I had begged and pleaded for a dog.  My parents could not be moved.  “The CITY is no place for a dog,” they said. 

My mother was a little afraid of dogs, and could not tolerate the possibility of flying fur or accidental droppings spoiling the cleanliness of the house. 

My father liked animals (especially horses), and had dogs and cats around the house during his childhood, but he never thought of any of them as his very own pet. 

Oh, dogs were nice enough (sometimes), and cats kept mice and rats away. “WHEN THAT DOG SITS UP AND TELLS ME HE WON’T BITE...THAT’S WHEN I’LL BELIEVE HIM!” was his philosophy.  Plus: “DOGS AND CATS WERE MEANT TO LIVE OUTSIDE...NOT IN THE HOUSE!”

And so it went for twenty years.  I grew. I prospered.  I longed for a dog, and knew that someday, when I was in charge, a dog would be mine.

That day came when my husband (then fiancé) and I saw COOKIE.  It was love at first sight, and I plucked her from the kennel and named her before the money was even paid.  The soon-to-be-newlyweds cooed and hugged this furry bundle with scant thought about parental approval.  Heck, we were in love. She was adorable. The in-laws would just have to tough it out for a year-and-a-half.

To put it delicately, her introduction to my parents began with a squat and a spot. 

They were not impressed. We were worried.  My father spouted several epithets.  My mother ran for the Lysol.  I ran for COOKIE and the front door. And my fiancée sat down and waited for everyone to calm down. 

When order was restored, COOKIE was the one who took charge.  With a little woof, and that kind of lopsided trot that most puppies have, she boldly confronted my parents and nailed them with puppy-eyes filled with remorse.

They were not (yet) enchanted, but agreed to house her for ‘just the weekend’.  So, newspapers were spread thickly on every floor surface, and little doggie dishes were placed in the kitchen.  On Monday morning, all was well and her visitor’s permit was up-graded to probation status.  Glory be!  She was in! 

It didn’t take long before my parents were hooked.  She was housebroken in a flash, and her gentle, loving nature had them fussing over her as if a new baby had just arrived.  She was definitely pampered to excess, but returned our love ten-fold.  Since my father worked the night shift, COOKIE became DADDY’S LITTLE GIRL during the daytime.

The year-and-a-half flew by. As wedding plans progressed, I swear, the possibility of COOKIE trotting down the aisle, dressed as a flower girl, with a petal-filled basket in her mouth, briefly crossed our minds. 

On my wedding day, COOKIE was right in the middle of the excitement.  She went from room to room, greeted bridesmaids, helped me cope with my fears, and comforted Mom and Dad. 

During that hectic morning, my father retreated to the basement Rec-Room with COOKIE, safely in his arms.  One if his sisters found him there with tears in his eyes. "I’M LOSING MY TWO GIRLS,” he said, “COOKIE......and...... MAUREEN.”  (Notice who is mentioned first!)

This rough-and-tumble man survived the Great Depression, Prohibition, and the countless battles that many males of his generation fought.  Fists and ferocity were the legacy of those hard times.  Yet, his tears that day made him more manly than any victory in battle.

As we bid our families and guests farewell, and left on our honeymoon, the old saying: “A SON IS A SON ’TIL HE TAKES A WIFE, BUT A DAUGHTER IS A DAUGHTER FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE,” was much on my mind.

Our honeymoon in Jamaica was wonderful and our thoughts of the future naturally included our families.  But even the romance of a beautiful tropical island could not solve our most pressing problem: COOKIE.  We all loved her and wanted her.  My parents NEEDED her.  It was the Wisdom of Solomon that directed our first major decision as husband and wife.  COOKIE, of course, must remain with Mom and Dad.  It was a bittersweet decision; but it was the right decision.

Mom cooked special meals and sewed little coats for her.  Daddy put bows on her and proudly took her (in full regalia) on trips and neighborhood walks.  A baby seat was even adapted for COOKIE’S comfort and scenic viewing pleasure during automobile trips.   She was the proud owner of her own baby stroller, and drew many stares and chuckles along the seashore Boardwalks of New Jersey.  Yes, she became their little girl, and lived a luxuriously happy life.

COOKIE will always be a precious part of my life.  In her own special way, she was a BEST FRIEND, TEACHER, CHILD, SISTER, and HEALER.  

When my father and mother each passed away, I know COOKIE was there to greet each one.  She will be there for me, too.
















Combine above ingredients.  Blend thoroughly.  Share mixture with everyone you meet.  Reserve some for your pets.  Lavish mixture on your children, and teach them the recipe.


Silent Night...Blessed Night

Christmas Eve...

A Blanket Of Snow...

And Voices Raised...

In Solemn Song...

To Greet The Child...

The Newborn King...

All Love Him For...

 The Peace He Brings...

To Troubled Souls...

And Violent Lands...

With Blessed, Gentle,

Tiny Hands.

The Prophets Saw...

The Magi Came...

The Weak And Strong...

Bow And Proclaim...

He Is The Promised...

Hope Of Man...

And Destiny’s Sacrificial Lamb.



Perhaps the greatest joy of Christmas is hearing and singing the beautiful music we call Christmas Carols.  For centuries, these sacred and secular songs have raised our spirits, and cast a magic spell.  Some music scholars might attribute this feeling of good will to the sympathetic vibrations found in the harmonies of the bass and treble pitches.  I really don’t care why the music makes us feel good.  Let’s just enjoy the feeling and sing, sing, sing.

Now, all this singing takes a lot of energy.  That’s why we feel we must have lots of goodies at Christmas time.  There is always some SCROOGE, however, who will warn us that we should never attempt to sing on a full-stomach. 

“BAH...HUMBUG,”  I say.  Those big, booming voices need hearty nourishment, and a variety of fine refreshments to reach all the notes.  How can you belt-out a song with nothing under your belt?

There is a traditional Christmas Eve dish that some of you might find interesting.   I can assure you that I have known a few singers, with excellent voices, who have eaten this dish just prior to performing at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.  Their voices did not suffer even one tiny bit. 

Perhaps even Pavarotti or, my all time favorite tenor, the incomparable Mario Lanza ate this same dish before a brilliant performance. 

The basic sauce is most likely Neapolitan.  My mother-in-law made it every Christmas Eve.  I cannot recall her ever preparing this dish at any other time.  Over the years, I have added a few more ingredients to her basic sauce.  The additional ingredients are marked with a star*, so you can choose which way you want to prepare it.


2 cans                                    ANCHOVY FILETS (packed in oil) *OR ANCHOVY FILETS WITH CAPERS (packed in oil)

2 - 4 cloves                            GARLIC CLOVES - mashed  (If you would like to use roasted garlic cloves,

                                              I think they would be a delicious personal touch.)

1/4 cup (approx.)                   OLIVE OIL

2 scoops                                WATER—FROM COOKED PASTA POT JUST BEFORE YOU DRAIN IT

*PINCH                                   BASIL (dried or fresh)

*PINCH                                   HOT RED PEPPER

1 - 1 1/2 lb.                            PASTA -- USE THIN SPAGHETTI OR LINGUINI

Put OLIVE OIL in saucepan.  Add GARLIC CLOVES and sauté over medium heat for a sufficient time for the GARLIC CLOVES to release their flavor.  (This should not take more than a few minutes.)  Add the ANCHOVIES without draining the packing oil.  Stir.  The ANCHOVIES will break-up quickly and appear to almost melt.  Add BASIL and HOT RED PEPPER.  Stir.  Carefully add the two scoops of the boiling WATER, which you will take from the pot of pasta just before draining.  You may remove the GARLIC CLOVES from the sauce, or leave them in.  I like to leave them in.   Put PASTA in an appropriate size serving bowl.  Pour-on the SAUCE and gently toss to distribute evenly.  NOTE:  This sauce cooks-up very quickly, so you will make it when the pasta is almost cooked.

I wish you all a Blessed Christmas.






I have never been one to look forward to a shopping trip, and for that, my husband is thrilled.  I constantly remind him of all the money I save him.  He smiles and nods and tells me that I have superior self-control.

What a crock!  Oh, sure, I am not considered a MALL RAT, but I do my share of contributing to the local and national economy.

While many women view shopping (any kind of shopping) as a form of recreation, my views lean more towards shopping being heavy labor.  It’s hard work.  Really, it is!  So, I procrastinate and wait until I can wait no more.  Then look out.  I turn into General Patton and launch a major invasion.

See, it’s not that I don’t buy things.  It’s just that I buy things all at once.  That’s why my husband smiles and nods.  He knows, full well, that the checks will be written, and the credit card bills will appear.  He just doesn’t know when!  AH...THE SUSPENSE!!  It keeps him on his toes, ladies. 

Oh yes, much has been written about keeping the excitement in your marriage.  Let’s just say: The experts have their opinions...and...I have my own opinions. 

I know I am one of many who can be diagnosed as shopping-impaired.  I wish I could be rehabilitated, but it’s hopeless.  So, each holiday season requires a major invasion.  Perhaps the following SURVIVAL TIPS will help you as much as they have helped me.

#1           MAKE SURE YOUR CAR HAS A FULL TANK OF GAS: You will be on a mission of great importance.  Don’t let an empty tank snafu you.

#2           TAKE TWO ASPIRIN...AND POCKET SOME MAALOX BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE: Holiday shopping is guaranteed to give you a headache and tear-up your stomach.  Just accept this little fact of life.

#3           WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES & CLOTHING, WITH POCKETS:  It is better to have a handy pocket than to look sleek and glamorous.  How many of the people you will meet will ever see you again?  Remember...your mission is to shop...not find a date or meet your next ex-husband.

 #4          DO NOT DECK YOURSELF WITH  EXPENSIVE, TEMPTING JEWELRY:  You are not a Christmas Tree...just a holiday shopper.  Your jewelry may be an irresistible bargain for some thieving individual on a twisted holiday shopping spree. 

#5           ANYBODY GOT A HAT PIN???  When a woman is confronted with danger, she can act or be frozen by terror. There are things on the market, today, to help defuse a bad situation, and law enforcement has condoned the use of many.  Naturally, packing a gun is not a hot idea, but there are pepper sprays, whistles and alarms.  Self-defense and Karate courses are great; and a good healthy scream is a proven attention-getter that has served us well for many decades.  There is another little deterrent that might be considered old-fashioned, but was my constant companion every time I ventured to New York City.  This was many years ago, and most of us had several LONG, SHARP HAT PINS.  Women still wore hats in those days, and these stilettos anchored the hats to our hair and looked decorative.  Going to The City, for whatever reason, could be worrisome, especially on the subways.  A HAT PIN, worn in a hat or stuck somewhere on your outside clothing, was excellent protection.  What did we know, back then, about pepper sprays, Karate, etc.?!  Law enforcement probably does not approve of the use of HAT PINS.  I just wanted to let you know that HAT PINS were used...and that they did work.

#6           LEAVE THAT DAMNABLE PURSE AT HOME:  You won’t need the lipstick or your hair-brush (see #3). You also won’t need to lug around a large wallet, checkbook, pen, or the seldom-used junk that inhabits your purse.  You will need some cash (it’s always a smart back-up to credit or debit cards), your driver’s license, insurance card, AAA card (for ID and emergencies), your most versatile credit card, and some personal checks.  All of the necessary items are flat and can be easily compressed to slip into one or more of those pockets previously mentioned (see #3). Snug-fitting JEANS offer the best pocket protection.  If you have trouble getting out the money, credit card and checks, so will the potential pickpocket.  A small slip of paper is all you will need to record information for transference to your check register when you get home.  Your friendly sales clerk will be happy to let you borrow a pen.

I'll admit. I felt a little lopsided the first time I used the above tactics to do my holiday shopping.  We are so used to dragging a purse everywhere we go, that its absence may temporarily throw-off our balance.  The imbalance, however, is quickly corrected by the packages you collect; and the absence of a purse makes handling your purchases much easier.  Crowded malls and busy shoppers are a purse snatcher’s delight.  So the best way to foil these evil felons is to give your purse a much-deserved rest.  Minimal jewelry, pharmaceutical aids, and sufficient fuel for your car are other important measures for safety and peace-of-mind.

I tend to joke a lot, but I’m not kidding this timeBEING CAREFUL, AWARE, AND PREPARED IS THE SMARTEST THING YOU WILL EVER DO!

Here is a recipe for a traditional Italian Christmas Treat.  It is sticky, gooey, addictive and finger-licking delicious.


                         3 cups  FLOUR

                         1 1/2 tsp.  BAKING POWDER

                         1 tbsp.  VEGETABLE OIL(dough)

                         6  EGGS

                         3 tbsp. SUGAR

                         1 large jar  HONEY

                         qty. req.  OIL (for deep-fat frying)

Sift FLOUR and BAKING POWDER and put into a shallow bowl.  Make a well in the center.  Put OIL, EGGS, & SUGAR into well and combine, using your hands, as if you were making noodles.  When the dough is combined, place on a floured board and knead thoroughly.  Test by cutting with a knife.  If you see little holes in the dough, it is ready.

Next, take a small amount of dough and roll-out like pie crust (not too thin or too thick).  Cut dough into strips approx. 3/8” wide, then cut strips into little squares.  Set loosely aside.  Continue making squares until all the dough is used.  Sprinkle the squares with flour to prevent sticking. 

Put required amount of oil into deep-fat fryer.  When oil is VERY HOT, start frying the squares (a little at a time) until golden brown. Strain thoroughly and continue until all the squares are fried and strained. 

In a skillet, melt HONEY (a little at a time).  Add as many of the squares as the HONEY will cover and stir until coated.  Remove with slotted spoon and pile on a pretty dish.  You will be making a conical shaped mound.  As each batch is added to the mound, sprinkle with colored confetti sugar.  When the cone-shaped mound is completed, it will resemble a Christmas Tree.  You may include grated orange peel, chopped nuts, etc. in the melted honey, if desired.

This treat is generally placed in the center of the table for busy little fingers to pluck apart and enjoy.  Since you will be surrounded by family and good friends, there is no need to worry about etiquette.  Go ahead--lick your fingers-- laugh--and be a kid again.

NOTE:  If you have a pasta-making machine, you can roll-out the dough in the machine, and then cut the strips and squares.





Hello, my friends.

Come dance with me.

I tempt and light the fires of Fiesta.



Oh, bounty of the sea!

Sacrifice supreme, succumbs without fire.

I wink at your desire, your appetite, and you are mine forever.



My sin is in being too beautiful –

Too beautiful and too sensual.

I melt, yet explode, and you beg for more.



I shiver for your pleasure.

Enclose me in a flimsy prison.

I drown in your hands, and you gasp at my kiss.



Take rest, my child.

Refresh your spirit and drink-in my simplicity.

I know your need and bow to God’s wisdom.