fuzzy, black dogs

fuzzy, black dogs
All three of my fuzzy, black dogs -- Bob, Ace and Lilly.

Phillip's Scenic Overlook

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Good Gravy! What Is That?

I have donned the denim 'Goddess' apron once again to attempt the seemingly impossible. I have, once more, tried my hand at making gravy.

There have been several attempts in the past to make home made gravy. The first attempt was... Well, let's just say it was a first attempt.

I was single at the time. Apparently, I felt pretty brave since the only thing I had cooked previously was chocolate brownies from a mix. Those brownies somehow ended up just a little on the salty side.

Regardless, I got everything I needed for my gravy. If memory serves me correctly, I used butter, oil of some kind, some kind of flour, salt, cream of tartar and some milk. According to Google, this is pretty close to the list of ingredients one would use to make home made play dough.

Needless to say, that gravy went out the back door. As a matter of fact, I think it was still there, months later, when I moved out of that condo.

Anyway, since I got married, I've tried my hand at gravy one other time. I mixed. I stirred. I slaved. I sipped (my beer, of course!). I watched my heat. I continued stirring. My wife went easy on me and said it was a little "pasty." The dog, however, didn't and turned up his nose and walked away. 

And tonight's gravy? I'll let the picture tell the story for me...

May not be pretty, but it was easy on the palette.


While it could have used a bit more salt and pepper,
this is all that was left after dinner. Finally! Edible gravy!

My next cooking challenge? I may try creating my own barbecue sauce again. Maybe a good, gluten-free bread. 

Really, though, I've always wanted to brew my own beer!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Second-Graders Are Not Idioms

"Why do they want us to read our hearts out, Mr. Haworth," one of my second-graders asked me today. She was looking at the Book-It! sign on the back of the classroom door.

As part of my job at my elementary school, I help out with guided reading in both first and second grades. And occasionally kindergarten, but I digress. Sometimes it's interesting and fun since some of my second-graders were my first-graders from last year.

I seized the moment and decided to take the opportunity to expand their horizons a little. I wrote the word 'idiom' on a small dry erase board.

"Who can tell me what this word is," I asked them.

"That's not nice, Mr. Haworth," Miley, as I'll call her, said. She looked at the word wide-eyed and said, "I'm not!"

"The word is idiom," I said, then pronounced it again more slowly. "Ih-dee-uhm. Idiom. An idiom is something we say that can't really be true. Like this morning. Does everyone remember? It was raining cats and dogs earlier. But were cats and dogs really falling from the sky?"

They giggled and agreed that, no, cats and dogs did not fall from the sky.
"What if they did," asked J.J. (not his real name!). I refused to get sucked into that one.

"Now, what does the poster say," I asked, ignoring the question. "Very good! It says 'Read your heart out.' How much do they want us to read?"

The general consensus with my little group of four was "a lot."

"Now, is your heart going to pop out if you read too much," I asked. I received two no's and two yesses. Before I could continue, J.J. chimed in.

"What would happen if it really did pop out," he said. "It would start bouncing all around the floor in here. Then out the door. Then..."

"Open your books," I said quickly, passing out the readers we were working on.

Those second-graders may not be idioms, but their guided reading teacher? Well, he's questionable...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Parenting Advice for Fathers: Part I

Having survived 18 years of marriage (40, according to my wife) and 15 years of fatherhood, I feel eminently qualified to dispense knowledge and advice to others who may be in my predicament. To those who are not, take my sage knowledge as a warning or guideline, your choice.

You may be wondering what makes me qualified to dispense parenting advice. Could it be because I have more children than my siblings? No, I don't. Maybe my parenting skills are better? Honestly, probably not. Perhaps I know more tips and tricks than my siblings, parents, in-laws, aunts, uncles and cousins all put together?

If you're a regular reader of Fuzzy, Black Dogs and you believe that, you don't need kids. You need a psychologist!

The reason is much more simple than any of that. Basically, I'm a parent and a writer. That's the skinny and short of it.

You may be wondering if I'm a successful parent. My one... No, two word answer -- indubitably yes. It's possible that my wife would agree with me. And my son... He's 15 and going through some 'teen phase' right now. We'll leave his opinion out of this.

No worries, I do have other credentials. Prior to attending my son's birth, in person, I went to Lamaze classes with my wife. Also, I've chatted with pregnant women and mothers. I've even gone so far as to read an entire passage from a Dr. Spock book, nearly an entire chapter of another parenting book, a few articles from some magazines (parenting magazines, of course), a few online tidbits and tips, and some dog training books! Don't laugh... The similarities are frightening!

Now that we've established my parenting credentials, be sure to look for my next installment on Fuzzy, Black Dogs. In my next parenting post, we will look at the pros and cons of actually having children.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Cool Father Takes Milestone in Stride

We've reached a major milestone -- our son has not only turned 16, but has now received a drivers license. Let me reiterate that. My little boy now owns a certificate that says he can get in my vehicle and drive it practically when and where he wants!

Being an awesome, cool father, I am handling this remarkably well! I'm rather cool and collected about the whole thing. I'm totally chillaxed, even though my son doesn't like me using that word.

"I'm going to drive to band by myself, Dad," he said.
"What time do you need to be there," I asked. "Keep in mind how long it will take to get there. Eastchester can be tricky this time of day. Call me when you get there. Any time you go anywhere, you must call me when you get there so I'll know you are safe. Always tell me where you're going. Watch out for crazies! They cause all the accidents. And don't forget..."

That's when he cut me off. I'm happy to say that I was not crying. I had just been squinting in the bright sunlight and already had a little wetness in the corners of my eyes.

As a matter of fact, we just got licensed this morning. Notice the word 'we.' Perhaps it would be more accurate to say he got licensed. I got relicensed.

Somewhere in the process, the officer asked me for my identification. I pulled out my wallet, whipped out my drivers license and handed it to him. He analyzed it and me for a cool minute. I was beginning to sweat.

"Good Lord, Dad," my son exclaimed in front of the officer. "Did someone throw acid on your face or just on your license?!"

I think my license has gotten wet a couple of times. The information on it is mostly legible. Also, you can tell it's a picture of me. My left ear and eye haven't changed a bit.

I think I may recognize that left ear and eye...

The officer informed me that as long as it hasn't expired and I'm not changing any information, it's free to get a new license. It was strongly suggested that I do so. Immediately.

So now my son and I get to wait approximately 15 days for our licenses. I almost feel like a 16 year-old again waiting for my license to arrive.

Unfortunately, the arrival of the license won't get me anywhere. My Volvo remains dead at the side of my house. The good news is that my son can't take it when and where he pleases! However, I can't either.

And for some reason, just like when I was 16, no one seems willing to let me borrow their vehicle. Go figure!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Slightly Less Fuzzy, Black Dog

We've created a new plan in the Haworth household. It's pretty simple, as the best plans generally are. To get straight to the point, we will be "improving" the three quadrupeds that currently inhabit my home. One down, two to go.

As things turn out, Bob was to be the first victim.

As you can see from the photos, we've turned Bob into a brand new dog! He's been de-stinked, de-furred and completely de-fluffed. And, voila, new dog! Or Bob 2.0, as I like to call him now.



Before, days after we first got Bob.
 






After, or Bob 2.0. Notice the happy face.

The unusual smell within my house has magically disappeared, much like Bob's massive amount of fur. The black tumbleweeds that sometimes decorate my home have decreased as well.

The next victim will be Ace. I may be attempting to take care of Lilly myself. Ironically, she's the only one that scares me since she'd be most likely to bite me.

As soon as I get all three of them all groomed, I'll be posting a new photo at the top of my blog. Perhaps I'll have to rename it, too. 

I'm thinking Furry, Black Dogs or Three Black Dogs. If I'm going for accuracy, though, Three Angry, Cold Dogs might be more appropriate.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Case of the Missing Coat

I'm sure you've all heard it before. You know, you're mom or dad telling you to put (insert random object here) back where you got it and you won't lose it. Perhaps it was gloves, keys or school books. Or, perhaps it was a coat...

"If you hang your coat up, you won't lose it," my mother would say to seven year-old me. "You'll always know where to look for it."

There may have been a couple of times 30-some odd years ago when I might have misplaced a coat, or some other article of clothing. Each time I did, I would politely ask each family member if they'd stolen... I mean, seen the missing article of clothing.

Regardless, 45 year-old me followed Mom's directions. When I got inside the house, I dutifully hung my coat up. I even put it on a coat hook. When the time came to leave, it was missing.

Dramatic re-creation of hanging coat prior to its disappearance.

My mom actually asked me if I had hung my coat. I remained calm and collected. I pointed out that my scarf was still there and my coat should be with it. My wife asked if I even wore my coat. Of course I wore it! I'd have been hypothermic without it.

My father, the doctor, informed me that I was exhibiting the early symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease.
"I don't have Alzheimer's," I yelled, my calm demeanor cracking slightly.
Apparently, his patients say that, too.

In short, I left my parents' house in sub-zero weather coatless and gloveless, as my gloves were tucked in the coat pockets. Luckily, my fingers aren't too frost-bitten to type!

Thank goodness for the 21st Century! I texted both my sisters, asking if anyone had stolen... Whoops! SEEN my missing coat.

It all turned out to be an innocent misunderstanding. My niece (a teenager), in her haste to leave, grabbed the nearest warm coat she could find. We worked it out and I got my coat back.

"Wow," my wife exclaimed, giving it a sniff. "Your coat's never smelled quite so good!"

As soon as I've figured that one out, I may be penning yet another post.