Thoughts While Walking The Dog; Yule Log Edition


Petey and I alternate getting up and walking the dog.  I know we do.  It’s his turn every other day.  So why is it that it seems like it’s my sleep-deprived carcass rolling out of bed and pulling on my sneaks every single day?  Is it some kind of Jedi mind trick Petey’s working on me?

“Easy Crowley…the UPS man is going around the corner.  It’s okay, Buddy.”  How does a dog have a super hero-level nemesis?  Is it the big brown truck?  The knees?  Why and how does every person in this neighborhood get five or six packages every single day?  If it’s not UPS, it’s FedEx or the Amazon guy. 

Do people never actually go into stores?  Have they never experienced the joy of eating cold sub-par pizza while sneaking peeks of the cute guy at Orange Julius?  How did they fall in love?  Where did they work soul-sucking part-time jobs for gas and tennis shoe money?

All of these deflated blow-up Christmas decorations around here.  It looks like the last stand of the Santa Village massacre.  They might take up a lot of space when they’re all inflated, but they get no credit in my very own Griswald Christmas decoration lunacy scale.  They take no work or creativity. 

I want holiday decorations that take time, sweat and possess the very real possibility of falling off a ladder and spending Christmas in traction.

When I left the house I was freezing.  It’s warmed up so much that if I take off any more layers and tie them around my waist I’ll be arrested for indecent exposure. 

“Crowley!  That is not a dog.  That is a plastic reindeer, it does not want to be your friend, and you’re making us both feel uncomfortable.  Knock it off, and get over here!”


How is it so dark at 5:30?  It seems like just a few months ago it was light ‘til 8:30 at night.

“Crowley, I am happy to take you to visit your friends.  But you need to make up your mind whether or not they actually are friends of yours. I will not stop and visit with somebody so that you can stand six feet away from them and bark for ten minutes.  That’s just plain rude.”

That guy’s lights over his garage are listing like a sinking ship.  He’s either really unobservant or had imbibed in a bit too much Christmas cheer before he got up there with a stapler gun.  I don’t know, maybe it was intentional—it is kind of festive, in an amusing, too much egg nog kind of way.

That “As seen on TV” searchlight, holiday flood light thing is unsettling.  I think it’s supposed to be holly and berries sweeping back and forth over the front of their house.  But it looks disturbingly like a radioactive swarm of extra-terrestrial termites at an all-you-can-eat wood buffet.

“It’s too dark to play ball right now, Buddy.  I’m sorry…ok, we’ll play right here under the street light.  Nope.  Too dark.  I just picked up what I thought was the ball, and it turned out to be a big, slimy, exploding toadstool.”

No way!  The crankiest, most anti-social guy in the neighborhood; the man about whom everybody will say “we absolutely saw it coming” when the news shows up;  the misanthrope who I only heard laugh once and which scared the heck out of me, has decorated for Christmas and put up lights.  This I never, ever saw coming.  Crowley my big baby, I think we may be witnessing a Scrooge redemption moment. 

It’s a Christmas miracle!

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at

Those Darn Christmas Cookies

I have a highly embarrassing holiday story to share.

A few years ago on Christmas Eve, Petey was freshly home from a long hospital stay so we didn’t make the trip to Greensboro.  The Kid went alone to visit Gramma and Grampa and would bring home presents, plates of dinner, and boxes of homemade cookies, including my mother’s very special and extremely well-loved frosted sugar cookies.

Petey was upstairs in bed, while I sat, watching the clock, waiting for The Kid to pull up with dinner.Finally, I heard my child arrive, and ran outside to help haul in the booty.

It happened when I pulled out the final load.  The lid on the box of Mom’s sugar cookies was not completely closed, and when it tilted, many of those heavily anticipated confections spilled out and landed in the gutter.I almost cried (actually, I think I did).

I almost cried (actually, I think I did).I ran in for a flash light and came back to take an illuminated look at the crime scene.

I ran in for a flashlight and came back to take an illuminated look at the crime scene.

I’d lost about a third of those brave, sugary soldiers.  So, I did what any cookie-loving, former girl scout would do in these circumstances—I rescued some of those treats from the street.

I was pretty sad, but not that cute.


Luckily, it had been dry so they hadn’t floated down the street, or turned into cookie soup.  The ones that hit the concrete first had shattered; they were a total loss.  A few had landed upon their cookie brethren—they were good as new, and went back into the box.

That left the middle layer.

I performed a cookie assessment.  There was some errant pine straw mixed in—I removed it.  Once I picked out the vegetation, quite a few were seemingly untouched by the plunge.  They went back to the box.The cookies that remained were imperfect, but a portion was still salvageable.  The very small fragments were abandoned.  The bigger shards were inspected using two criteria.

Did they look soiled?  The sullied sweets were likewise abandoned.  I checked out the final population of clean acceptably-sized pieces with one question in my mind.

Did they have an obscene amount of frosting?

If so, in they went.  If not, they were voted off the island.

Picture me, Gentle Reader; 10 o’clock at night, in bare feet and pajamas, feverishly grubbing about in the gutter, snatching up cookies and secreting them away.

I resembled nothing so much as JRR Tolkien’s Gollum, desperately trying to possess his “Precious”.I recently asked The Kid what thoughts were present that night, witnessing my demented performance.

This was my child’s response:

“I was thinking, here’s where we’ve ended up after this hellish year.  We can’t even have a simple cookie without disaster and disappointment.”

Were my actions extreme?  You bet.  But it’s a great example of how good those cookies are.  I would do worse than gutter diving to hold onto those things.

In the end, I didn’t lose too many holiday treats.  And when we took our dog out, he made a beeline for the cookie carnage.

For my pup, those amazing cookies became his very own Christmas miracle.Thanks for your time.

*For the cookie and frosting recipe, see the next post, “A Christmas Miracle”.

Diary of a mad woman in a kitchen Part 2

Last week I related to you excerpts from the food diary that I faithfully kept for the entire year.

Before I continue though, I’d like to explain what a true Christmas miracle these columns are.

I’ve always loved to write, and the number one piece of advice to young writers is to keep a journal.

I’ve owned more diaries than I can count.  No dice.  Not one of them had more than ten or fifteen entries before it was set aside and forgotten.

Each new, pristine book was begun with the best of intentions.  I would be faithful and prolific.  This would be the one which would take.

But sadly, no.  The entries would be forced, stilted, and honestly; dull.

Until this year.  I decided to keep a culinary log with an eye to doing a column at the end of the year.  Maybe this is what kept me honest, and kept me coming back with new entries.

Whatever the reason, it worked:

July 2nd– It seems like every supermarket has all the fixings for a cook-out on sale.  Meat, condiments, chips, buns, and sodas are all reduced.  I am definitely stocking up the freezer.  It might be October before I have to buy hamburger or Kaiser rolls.

That lemon chicken is perfect.

July 11th– Petey, The Kid and I went over to Crabtree Valley Mall for lunch after a morning at the flea market.  We ate at Kabobi, in the food court.  When I haven’t visited for a while I tend to forget just how good their food is.  Lemon chicken, lentils and rice, grape leaves; it’s a Mediterranean wonderland.

July 23rd– Major bummer!  My favorite guilty pleasure while shopping at Brier Creek is to get a salted caramel milk chocolate candy at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Company.  Stopped by today and was terribly disappointed to find they had changed the recipe.  The caramel is stiffer and much larger, which since each piece is sold by weight makes it about twice the price.

August 8th– Dined at Golden Corral.  They now have breakfast on the buffet all day.  And…they have cotton candy on the dessert bar.  Woo Hoo!

September 7th– Had a sample of Panera’s new green passion power smoothie.  Even though I think mango tastes like baby food, I really liked it.  And at only 200 calories, it’s an awesome lunch on the go.

September 28th– Lowes had a new brand (Promised Land) chocolate milk on sale.  I picked up the 2%.  It’s rich, yummy, and less than 150 calories per serving.

October 17th– Went to the wedding of one of my oldest, closest friends.  The reception was held upstairs at The Pit, in Durham (321 Geer St).  There was a gorgeous view of downtown, and the finger food served was delicious.

Later on the 17th– Swung be Mickey D’s on the way home.  The order was wrong and the fries were left out.  Joe Pesci was right in Lethal Weapon.  They will make you most displeased at the drive-thru.

November 3rd– Halloween candy is 75% off and Boo Berry cereal is half price.  I knew I loved the fall.

December 16th– Made Salisbury steak from scratch.  It was really easy, and very tasty.  Serve it in a divided aluminum tray in front of the TV and you’re six years old all over again.  All you need is footy pajamas.

December 23rd– I hope all the readers of the Henderson Daily Dispatch have the very happiest of holidays.

Thanks for your time.