Sunday, November 12, 2006

Percy's Big Adventure

WHOA! I know I say this every weekend, but that was a rough week! We are into the thick of the ugly part of the semester, and I am buried under papers. Then, as an added level of difficulty, I am swamped with student advisees during every "spare" minute. Whew! But the worst part of the week was Wednesday night when my old dog, Percy, went missing. I had let him out a little after midnight for the last potty run. I put Prunelle (the PBGV) on a long lead, but I didn't bother to hook up the old cocker spaniel. We haven't been for months, because he's so blind and deaf and arthritic...where's he gonna go? But I guess he showed me! When I went back out to let them in, Prunelle was there, but Percy had disappeared! To her credit, Prunelle tried to tell me. She was out there, barking her head off, and I kept yelling at her to shut up. Apparently, she was saying, "Percy's running away!" It was terribly foggy that night, and I guess he just got lost and confused and wandered off. But as we live on an extremely busy rural highway, I was terrified that he'd be hit by a car. So I was up all night, walking and driving around the neighborhood, trying to find him. Of course, he couldn't hear me calling because he's so deaf. I figured he was curled up under a bush or tree somewhere, and because he's mainly black, I couldn't see him. When the sun came up, I searched more thoroughly, and my wonderful next-door neighbor, Ken, walked every inch of the surrounding pastures, but he was nowhere to be found. I spoke to the neighbors, asking them to keep an eye out, and I called all the animal shelters and local dog catchers. Then I finally had to give up and go to work--I had student speeches that could not be postponed. I was upset all day long, and students kept asking me what was wrong. But I couldn't talk about it without breaking down. I just kept thinking that he had been hit by a car, or met up with a coyote that are prevalent around here, or as a couple of neighbors suggested, had just gone off somewhere to die. At almost 16, I know he's not long for this world, but I didn't want him to die alone and cold in the woods somewhere! The thought of it was more than I could bear.

But miracle or miracles, I got a call about 3pm from a farmer about a half a mile up the road. He had a little black cocker spaniel that he thought might belong to me. HALLELUJAH! The poor thing apparently fell into a ditch and got stuck in a mud hole for the night. And if that isn't bad enough, the farmer actually drove over the ditch with his tractor before his grandkids yelled that they spotted a little dog down there! So they pulled the poor old guy out of the mud, tried to clean him up a bit, fed him some cat food, and kept him wrapped in a towel in the cozy barn until I could get there to pick him up. And those kids were so sweet! They stayed with him, talking to him and petting him the whole time. They looked so sad when I came to take him home, and all they asked was if they could have a picture to remember him by. (Awwww! You know you're getting choked up over that one!) I promised them that I would bring one over. In the meantime, I took the old wanderer home and started the arduous process of cleaning him up. It took me 30 minutes of just rinsing the mud out before washing him, then 30 minutes of blow-drying, and at least another hour and a half to two hours of clipping to get him looking (and smelling!) good. I'm afraid that I had to shave off most of his hair, because after I got all the mud off of him, I found that he was stuck to the skin with tons of burdocks. Poor guy! But after his bath, haircut, a special dinner, and a good night's sleep in front of the heater, he was all better.

I was so grateful that my neighbors up the way found my sweet old man and returned him safely to me, that I decided to do a few things to show my appreciation. First of all, I wrote a letter to the kids from Percy, telling them a bit about himself and thanking them for saving his life. I also gave them a couple of copies of the picture above as they requested and a small cash reward. But of course, I had to make them some sort of special treat, too. I decided to make M&M shortbread, as I thought it would appeal to the kids. It's one of my favorite recipes. For adults, I usually swap out the M&M's for chocolate chips and then add some pecans. Then I leave off the cocoa glaze and instead top the bars by drizzling them with both caramel and chocolate ganache to make turtle shortbread. But the kiddies like the original version best:

M&M Shortbread

2 cups butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounce package mini M&M's, divided

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter and sugars. Blend in vanilla, and add the flour and salt. Mix until just blended. Stir in 1 1/4 cups M&M's. Press into a jelly roll (half sheet) pan. (Feel free to halve this recipe and make it in a 9x13 oblong dish--that's why I did, and you can see that it made a pizza pan's worth of cookies!) At this point, you can either press in another 1/2 cup of M&M's lightly into the top of the dough before baking. But I prefer to save them to sprinkle on top of the cocoa glaze later. That way you can see them! But that's your call. In either case, bake the shortbread for 20-25 minutes until light golden brown. Cool, and then top with the following cocoa glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk

Whisk until smooth, then drizzle on the shortbread from a snipped baggie or a plastic squeeze bottle. Top with the reserved M&M's...if you chose to reserve them, that is.

Then I have just one more picture to share. This was our breakfast yesterday morning--a ham, cheese, and veggie scramble with the last of the Z bread for toast. It was so beautiful, that I was compelled to take a picture and share. But the main thing I want to brag about is not the beauty of the dish itself, but the fact that this scramble was made with swiss chard, herbs, and sweet peppers and topped with fresh tomatoes--all of which were grown in my garden!! Can you believe it? It's mid-November! I guess global warming has a few upsides. ;-)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that did bring a tear to my eyes. So glad he's home safe. I sure hope my boys live to see their 16th bday.