Guest Blogger—Belle

Are we all here? Good.


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Emergency Meeting

I have summoned you both to discuss a serious lapse in protocal. Yesterday afternoon, as you may remember, the back door was open. I took advantage of the situation to patrol the yard and check for new and interesting smells. For your information, a possum has been in the hibiscus again. Same one as yesterday. The nerve! In my yard!

Anyway, after I finished making my rounds, I strolled back to the doorway. And what do you suppose I found? The door was closed, that’s what! I was locked out. Your precious Little Belle—separated from her pack. Abandoned to the cruel mercies of the wilderness and savage possums.

I stood by the door for long hours, vainly hoping for a rescue. Well, maybe it was minutes, but who can tell? Agony has no timekeeper. Where, oh were, were my pack members? Could it possibly be that you were unaware I was missing?

Didn’t you hear my piteous wails?

Finally Harry opened the door and let me in. And what do I get? Tearful apologies? Abject promises to do better? No! Merely an “Oh, there you are, “ and a scratch on the chest. Not adequate, people.

Am I or am I not a Treasured Pack Member? No, look me in the eye. Am I a Treasured Pack Member? That’s better. And what is your duty to a TPM?


Constant Vigilance. That is your duty. Never let a cute little dog such as me suffer alone and friendless in the cold and—okay, okay, I know it wasn’t really cold. Don’t interrupt. I’m making a point here.

Never treat a TPM in such a cavalier way. You are both on probation until further notice.

Ta for now,



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My just completed Halloween Diaorama

Halloween Diaorama

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Best daiquiri recipe



Here is my favorite hot weather drink–The daiquiri. Simple, elegant, refreshing. I’ve tested daiquiri recipes for years, and this one is the best. From Beachbum Barry’s wonderful book Potions of the Caribbean.

¾ oz fresh squeezed lime juice

1 teaspoon sugar

2 oz silver rum

Shake well, pour into chilled cocktail glass. As the author points out, sugar (not sugar syrup) give a crisp, better taste.


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Quote of the day from Cory Booker, Junior Senator from New Jersey.


Don’t speak to me about your religion; first show it to me in how you treat other people.

Don’t tell me how much you love your God; show me in how much you love all His children.

Don’t preach to me your passion for your faith; teach me through your compassion for your neighbors.

In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give.

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Peach Daiquiri


Now that it’s summer fruit season, our local farmers market has awesome peaches. I’ve been trying to make a decent diaquiri with fresh peaches for years, and I think I’ve finally come up with a decent recipe.

1 medium peach, flesh cut off the pit.

1 oz lime juice

1 oz lime juice

1 Tablespoon sugar

2 oz rum

scant 1/8 tsp allspice

½ Cup crushed ice



Blend until totally combined

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Belle gives Performance Reviews

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Good morning. Thank you all for coming. I know we’re all busy, busy, but these little sessions of ours facilitate the effectiveness of our team. So without further ado, I’ll begin.

Blitz, let’s start with you.

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First of all, I am pleased to note that you continue to make improvements in your attitude. When I choose to occupy a bed on the floor, you no longer challenge me for it. This shows a maturing understanding and a commitment to teamwork. Sorry about the boo-boo on your nose. But if you don’t stick it where it’s not wanted, you’ll be much happier—and healthier.

Also, you are doing a fine job in challenging intruders: mail persons, garbage collectors, real estate brokers, neighbors talking too loud, religious proselytizers—you are right on the job. As you have seen, when I deem it worthwhile, I will add my presence to the effort.

You might pay more careful attention to my reactions, however. If I lift my head from the rug and then set it back down again, you should take that as a cue to chill. Really, how many times does that poor neighbor need to walk down her driveway with her baby daughter, before you decide they’re not barbarians at the gates?

Then there’s the issue of my butt. I don’t mind the occasional sniff. It shows a polite interest and even pack solidarity. But this burying your nose in there for minutes at a time is just taking advantage. I’m fixed. It’s not going to get you anywhere. That’s asking for a trip to boo-boo land. You have been warned.

Let’s move on to Susan.

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You, too, have shown great improvements. When I come up and poke my nose in your ribs (or your crotch) there’s much less yelping, and much more immediate petting. I’m glad to see that all my hard word with you has paid off. You are really coming along.

Now for the next step: when you’re on the couch and I come over and sit on your foot with my back to you, that means reach around and scratch my chest. If I lift my head, my neck should be included. This may be a difficult concept to incorporate into your routine, but I’m sure you can master it. Just have patience with yourself. Together we can work through this.

Finally, Harry.


You how I feel about you, and how I enjoy our training sessions. You are getting much better at giving me the cues I need to perform to my top ability. But I must take issue with the quality of treats you use. Charlee Bears treats from Trader Joes? Really? I suggest a minimum donation of round steak, and some ribeye for the really hard stuff (like the go-away.) Haven’t all the classes I’ve consented to attend with you emphasized the necessity of high-value treats for encouraging complicated behaviors? Dogs like me don’t come along every day, so you need to show the deference due me.

And then there’s the issue of last Wednesday. You went out the door with Blitz alone, despite my strong protestations. You two didn’t come back for an hour and a half. And when you did, you both smelled strongly of the sand in Deb Harpur’s backyard. And Blitz’s breath smelled of HOT DOGS! You took him out and did agility with him! Don’t try to deny it. You are so busted. I am hurt. Am I not your dog? Do I not deserve your time and exclusive attention, after all the sacrifices I’ve made for you?

If you’re smart, you’ll be scrambling to find a way to make it up to me. And it better not involve Charlee Bears.

That’s all. Meditate on your sins and resolve to do better.

Ta for now,



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If the news media were family members . . .

NBC:  Dad—He’s a car salesman and great at getting people to like him. Maybe he’s a little creative with the truth, but, hey, he feeds his family, right?

Fox News: Grumpy Old Uncle‑He’s suspicious of everyone and everything. He hates all liberals, and he knows that whatever happens, it’s somehow a plot to get his money.

MSNBC: Older Cousin who goes to UC Berkley—He’s occupied the dean’s office to try to force of the University to divest from fossil fuel companies. He’s thinking of running for the Berkeley City Council.

CNN: Ditzy Od Aunt—She babbles incessantly and repeats the same story over and over. She also spouts three contradictory opinions on any given topic—none of them supported by facts.

ESPN: Older Brother—He was the star quarterback in high school. Now he drinks a lot of beer, has trouble holding a job, and loudly second-guesses every play of every game on TV.

Entertainment Tonight: 14 Year Old Sister—You never see her face, because she compulsively Facebooks and tweets all day. She has a Guinness Book of Records citation for the largest number of OMGs in a single post.

The Daily Show: Snotty Younger Brother—He’s brilliant, funny, and emotionally damaged. He has a zinger for every comment anyone else makes. He’s the smartest kid in school and always tells the truth—especially if you don’t want to hear it. All the jocks hate him.

PBS: Rich Grandfather—He made his money by investing prudently over the years and not panicking during market downturns. He supports several philanthropic foundations. Occasionally he makes donations to select middle-of the road political candidates. The rest of your relatives are terrified that he’ll will all his money to charity and leave them holding the bag. He seldom talks politics at the dinner table. But when he does, everybody shuts up and listens—even your crazy old uncle.

(Many thanks to Bruno Perron for suggesting who ESPN is.)

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Guest Blogger—Belle

Doing My Job

Hi, everyone. Today I ‘m going to talk about my job. I have a very important place in my pack—partly because I’m so cute, partly because Harry loves me, but mostly because I’m good at my job.


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Above is a picture of me being good at my job.

My job is to practice several times a week and then go to dog shows and get ribbons and applause. I have two degrees in obedience: Rally Novice B and Obedience Novice B. I have to enter the “B” classes, because Harry showed another dog and got degrees on her before he rescued me. So he’s not strictly a beginner, even though I am. I don’t like to think about him in the ring with another dog. It seems disloyal of him. But I’ve decided to forgive him. I’m sure she wasn’t as cute as me.



Here’s another picture of me in the rally advanced ring.

Anyway, I love my job. Being a herding dog, I have a strong work ethic. Now we’re working on the Rally Advanced degree. We are two-thirds of the way to that title. One more time in the ring and (if we pass) I’ll have that title, too. And probably some more applause. The ribbons are only so-so, but I really like the applause.

We’re also working on our Obedience intermediate and advanced degrees, but they’re taking more time. It’s fun, though. I get to retrieve things, and go over jumps, and learn hand signals, and all sorts of other fun stuff. But it’s complicated, so I need to make sure that Harry is very clear in showing me what he wants me to do. Poor guy, he needs constant feedback to keep him on track. But I’m always kind with my corrections. Well, mostly. Everybody gets frustrated now and then. Still, he is improving. If he keeps following my directions, he has a lot of potential.

Here’s another picture of me and him at the last obediece trial we went to. I was very pleased with the way he’s coming along.


And finally here’s a picture of me after getting home from the show. As you can tell, all the pressure of performing takes a lot out of a girl.

Belle Sleeping


Ta for now,


PS: All pictures were taken by our good friend Vita.

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White Chocolate Bread Pudding

Last night we celebrated Mardi Gras with a real New Orleans-style dinner. The standout of the meal was the dessert–a recipe I came up with for the meal. It’s sinfully rich and worth every calorie. 

White Chocolate Bread Pudding

1 3/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/4 cups white chips
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract4 ounces French bread with crust, cut into ¾ -inch cubes (about 4 cups)Preheat oven to 325°F. Bring cream, 1/2 cup sugar, and milk to simmer in heavy medium saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup white chocolate chips and whisk until melted and smooth. Whisk egg and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot chocolate mixture. Cool chocolate custard 10 minutes, stirring often.Add bread cubes and remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips to custard and toss to coat. Transfer to 1 1/2-quart-capacity shallow oval baking dish. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over mixture. Bake until custard thickens and center is just set, about 50 minutes. Serve warm.


White Chocolate Bread Pudding

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What’s for Dinner? Miso-Glazed Cod

A simple Japanese-inspired recipe from the Food Network. Very good and low calorie. I serve it with steamed rice and sunomono. It’d be fine with Salmon, too.

Miso Glazed Cod


6 (6-ounce) black cod fillets, or regular cod fillets

1/3 cup low-sodium blond or white miso

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese cooking wine)

Toasted sesame seeds and scallions, for garnish, optional


Preheat broiler.

Rinse fish fillets and pat dry with paper towels. Combine miso, brown sugar, sesame oil and mirin and stir well until brown sugar is fully dissolved.

Brush about 2 tablespoons miso glaze on each fish fillet. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour. Place fish under broiler for 3 to 4 minutes, or until top is slightly charred and glaze has caramelized. Remove fish from oven and brush with remaining glaze. Lower oven to 375 degrees F. Cook an additional 5 to 6 minutes, until fish is flaky but not overcooked.

If desired, serve with toasted sesame seeds and scallions.


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