Cappy's Take On What They're Calling, "Opelousas Chicken"

   I've been hearing folks refer to "Opelousas-style" baked chicken for quite some time now, so it finally made me curious enough to investigate their recipes. 
   I was born in Opelousas, Louisiana and spent my early years just down the road from Opelousas, so ya'd think I'd know more about this "style" of chicken before I turned 60 years old.
   "Opelousas" chicken, indeed:  after reading several different versions of the recipe, I realized that "Opelousas-style" chicken is just what my family, friends and neighbors always called our basted  or roasted chicken. It was served as plate lunches, or church functions, and even showed up in our school cafeterias, kinda often. 
   When they serve it professionally, like for plate lunches, it's cut in halves or quarters. If you're really hungry, ya go for the half, with the "sides" that go along with it, like beans, corn, greens, salad, etc. 
 When it's cooked for family at home, we usually cut the chicken in smaller pieces, like legs or breasts, (Mama used to use a 'whole fryer' that she'd cut into portions) and slow bake it,  basting every 15 minutes. 
   Lemme show you how my family did it:
    Here's a pack of chicken thighs that I got on sale at "the Pig" down the street last week. (Piggly Wiggly)  I highly seasoned it with our own blend of Cajun seasoning, worcestershire sauce, and Crystal hot sauce. I don't measure, I just dump and sprinkle 'til it looks about right. This step is hard to go wrong.   

   I laid out the pieces in this baking dish, leaving a basting hole open. Too much butter goes on top... like I said, "too much butter goes on top!" 
 Make an aluminum foil tent and cover the chicken, then stick the chicken in a preheated slow 275 F oven for half an hour. 
  --Take the chicken out of the oven, remove the foil, dip a big spoon into the hole and baste the chicken over and over. Looks good already, doesn't it?
  --Put the chicken back into the oven, for another 15 minutes and savor the wonderful smells filling the house.
After the 15 minutes, take 'er out of the oven and baste it good again, then back in the oven she goes. Repeat this basting process every 15 minutes for about 2 hours, or 'til golden brown, and I use my meat thermometer to check and make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees, Fahrenheit.
You might think it sounds kinda labor intensive, taking the chicken out of the oven and basting it every 15 minutes. The reason I take it out of the oven is because it needs to be basted very, very well, and trying to do this while it's in the oven could be awkward and sloppy. I dose each and every thigh with a big spoonful of the butter sauce, and then, I dump a few extra spoonfuls on anything that doesn't look shiny. After 7 bastings, I checked the temp of  a piece of chicken that I thought looked done. 167 F, almost perfect for chicken. 
   Mmmm-mmmm!! Tasting it, I knew that all the work was more than worth it.
  A bowl of beet salad, that didn't make the photo, was the starter for this meal. Black-eyed peas accompanied the chicken to dinner.
   The chicken was very moist and tender, Cajun seasoning all the way down to the bone.
  If you take the time and baste your chicken this way and set a timer, you will be amazed at the best dang baked chicken you have ever tasted.
 --An added bonus when ya remove the chicken, you are left with this amazing chicken butter sauce.
   I could have thickened it with cornstarch, roux, or gravy mix and used it as an amazing gravy, but, instead, this time, I poured the sauce into a jar and saved it in the fridge to use for other meals.
  Make ya some and let us know how ya love it.  It will make ya chicken a star. 
   Now, since I was born in Opelousas, and raised in the Opelousas area, and this being one of the wonderful chicken dishes from Opelousas family homes, and even though, to us, it was just our regular basted or roasted chicken, next time I hear it called Opelousas-style chicken, I can take pride in my heritage and brag all about it with obvious knowledge and experience of the dish.


Our Anniversary Eve Eve

   We always celebrate The eve of our anniversary eve.  It is a very special day.  It's Peggy's mother's birthday and my boyhood best friend David's birthday.  Since it's 2 days from our anniversary, we figure it's a great excuse to kick off the party.  Peggy loves good fried chicken, but sadly, due to her celiac disease she can't just pop in to the local chicken joint for it.  So, good southern fried chicken, for us, is a special treat.  Sure, I occasionally buy some for me, and share it with my dawg, but always feel guilty, us eating it in front of Peggy.  
  This time I fried the chicken like my daddy usta do it, in corn flour aka Fish Fry. At the family camp we only used Fish Fry flour to fry chicken in our big black iron pot. 
  So, I fried Peggy up a batch, and as a surprise, I fried her some kosher dill pickle spears to go along with it. I really hate to admit that this is a "yankee" trick I learned at an upstate New York Blues bar. The bar claimed to cook Cajun food so naturally, I opted for a burger.  (If I want Cajun food, I'll cook it myself and not have some yankee try their hand at it.)  I must admit though, the burger came with fries and a fried pickle spear, and they were "prit dang good".  I bit into the deep-fried pickle spear thinking it was a potato log, like we have down here in South Louisiana, but was pleasantly surprised to find a kosher dill taste in that crunch.  I've always made them from pickle slices, but I've gotta say, it was a trick I didn't mind stealing from that danged yankee bar. 
 You oughta give it a try; I think you'll love 'em, too.  
Couple this , couple that , some of those and the other and a few too many beers.  Truly an epic eve for our anniversary eve.  Happy birthday Peggy's Mother in heaven.  Hope ya had a great day ol' friend of mine.  Not a bad day and who knows what tomorrow will bring.
Hi, Peggy here! One thing I'm hoping tomorrow will bring is getting my beloved old computer fixed. With all the issues the house has been going through during this last five or so months, my video and photo editing capabilities have been kaput due to the computer suffering some kind of malady that may or may not have been brought on by whatever the house was suffering...with, or, well, who "nose" what. Sooo...whatcha see here, in the photo Cappy insists on posting, is a fine example of what I cannot do to make the wonderful meal Cappy cooked, look as delicious as it really was.  And believe me, delicious it was! 
Cappy and my Mom (May God rest her sweet soul) had a lot in common when it comes to cooking projects. She'd get this almost electric excitement before and during. Cappy is the same way. I just thought we were going to simply fry some chicken. He said, "Nooo...this is going to be an adventure, like my family used to do at the camp out on the bayou."
He hauled out the big ol' 50 lb. black iron pot...well, mebbe it's not that heavy, but I, myself, can hardly lift the thing. I was going to use the small black iron frying pan and use maybe an inch or so of oil. I think Cappy used about a quart or more. He had me take the chicken out of the fridge where it had been marinating overnight...more like hiding out, I'm thinking. He ordered a sundry number of bowls and plates and pans, one to be double lined with brown wrapping paper, plus an assortment of tongs, forks, an onion to be cut into 'sticks', and I don't know what all. More bowls were called in, as I hadn't gotten out enough in the first place. I just couldn't imagine what was about to take place, so I busied myself making coleslaw and whatever else I could think of to stay out of his way. Well, that didn't work. The first thing I knew, corn flour was flying everywhere, I was elbow deep in raw chicken, cornstarch, egg-wash and highly spiced corn flour, while Cappy merrily tended to his pot. When his onion 'sticks' were cooking away just right in the ton of hot oil, letting him know the temp was perfect, he began gingerly laying the chicken pieces (which by now looked like fat dough boys) into his caldron, only three at a time, lest one more piece make the oil cool down. 
He had music blaring on the stereo, having a ball. Once or twice we ended up dancing with our chubby heavily flour dusted bellies bouncing to the beat of some old Johnny Cash song. We had fun.
We finally ate around nine...at night! Cappy apologized for the mess in the kitchen. I told him it was worth it and that I'd have it cleaned up in no time. Twenty minutes later, all of his accoutrement was in the dishwasher and the leftovers in the fridge.
 Stowing it all away, I had to laugh to myself because Cappy is always telling me that I always make a mess when I cook. He sez, "It takes two knives, one spoon, three pans and a cutting board just for you to boil water." That's a good one, Cappy, but alas...I think my Mom used to say the same thing, (God rest her sweet soul.)


When Turnips Turn Up

    I took this pack of country-style pork ribs out of the freezer the other afternoon, but I had no idea what I was gonna do with them.  
  They are a wonderful versatile cut of pork from the Boston Butt Roast that our local grocer had on sale when we bought them. So then, what to do with ém? Ya not gonna b'lieve this: like a sign from heaven, when we opened our front door the next morning, there sat a bag of turnips, left by one of our neighbors.
I immediately thought of good ol'-fashion pork and turnip stew, that's been a long-time-favorite of my family. With that in mind, I whacked the ribs into stew pieces.
I seasoned the meat with our own blend of Cajun seasoning and some Worcestershire sauce, then let them sit and think about it while Peggy peeled the turnips.
If you look closely, you can see the layer of turnip under the skin that needs to be taken off too.
 Sometimes it can be lifted off with a fingernail, but trust me, it comes off faster with a paring knife. If you don't take this layer off, the turnips are bitter. It's the same with rutabega. A lot of folks don't like turnips or rutabega for just that reason. Taking this layer off is the secret to good mild flavored turnips.  If you don't like turnips chances, are its because this layer wasn't removed.
So then, the seasoned pork went into a big black iron pot with a splash of water to get it started and covered over a med-low heat. As it cooked, I occasionally gave it a good stirring 'til it looked like this: (half cooked)
   When making jambalaya, the pork is cooked uncovered, but when making stews or gravies its better to cook it covered to retain the natural juices. 
    So then, I took this half-cooked meat out of the pot and set it aside, then added a big ol' chopped onion and a bit of smoked sausage that I had sittin' around in the fridge, so I kind of diced it up and stuck it in the pot with the onions and the nice sauce that the pork and spices had made. 

While I was doing this, Peg was dicing the turnips.
    Once the onions were cooking along nicely, I added the turnipsto the pot with, a bit more seasoning, just cuz it looked like it could use a little more spice.
I let this all cooked down a little more then invited the pork back in,
 covered the pot and allowed to simmer (put the burner on simmer) for over an hour. The turnips cooked down, the pork got soft and I was able to removed as much of the grease as I could.  
Peggy is a celiac, as most of you know, which means she is wheat and gluten intolerant, so we often thicken stews like this with 
McCormick's gluten free brown gravy mix. It has a great taste and makes a good gravy. 
                          3 packages and some cornstarch
get mixed together to make a kind of "slurry" and poured into the pot.
When it comes to a nice gentle boil it is done. It's so thick, rich and so creamy, it doesn't need rice. It stands on it's own as one of our favorite stews.
 So, I guess you could say (if you had a mind to) that we turned up the turnips that turned, up a notch or two, with a sweet little piggy. Stew-w-w-eeeee!!


Friday Fish

   Friday fish has always been a special treat down here in Cajun country. Our seafood is always fresh and plentiful, caught by ourselves or gifted by friends. 
  For this Lenten Friday, I took a huge Red fish out of the freezer, caught and given to us by our tiny-but-feisty neighbor, Sonia. Before freezing it, I had cleaned it, but left the skin and scales on, (which serves to work as it's own baking dish, of sort) then laid it all out on a baking sheet and slathered it with melted butter and lemon juice...
and sprinkled it with our own blend of Cajun seasoning.
I parked the whole thing in a 300 degree oven for a half hour, or so, 'til it looked done.  
        While the fish was baking away, I put the leftover butter and lemon juice in my family heirloom black iron pot and added a couple of onions, diced by my sweet sous chef, Peggy.
I always dust my onions with our Cajun seasoning, because I find they cook faster that way.
Once the onions began to brown, I added a pound of small, cleaned and deveined shrimp.
I prefer small shrimp for this sauce, but I've used larger ones, cutting them into bite sized pieces, but, since the smaller ones are less expensive, I just go ahead and use the small ones.
  Once that was cooking along, Peggy made a slurry of evaporated milk and corn starch, then poured it into the shrimp, stirred it 'til it bubbled and thickened the shrimp sauce, making it rich and creamy.

When the fish came out of the oven,

                             I plated us up each a chunk,

               Then I smothered in Peggy's thick rich sauce.
I can't begin to tell ya how good this is
 (and shouldn't tell ya that I had 3 servings!)
   This amazing dish was "thrown together" in less than an hour. It is easy to make! C'mon! Give it a try with your favorite fresh fish. The sauce could make a tennis shoe taste good, so you know it's gonna make fish taste good. 
 Our motto would be: Friends don't let friends eat bad fish.
 So, just remember, friend: use fresh fish (fish that smells like the ocean) and you will not be disappointed. Cést si bon!


March 2, 2018 Back Yard Report.

   Everyone in our area is talking about what a rough winter we had this year. Those of you who live up north in snow country, forgive us for "boo-hooing". 
     One year we were alarmed about the weather report. "Oh no!" we shouted to one of our Yankee 'kids', "We're going to get bad weather!" 
    They scoffed, "Oh what...is it gonna get cold?" 
   Well, yeah, considering the really bad weather, tons of snow and ice, etc. that they get each winter, 'cold' probably doesn't sound all that bad, since, too, their cold is way colder than our cold. But, yeah, for us, a hard winter is bad. Lots of citrus and other trees were killed or damaged in this year's rare hard freeze.  
      Take a very short walk around our yard with Peggy and me, in this video, and we'll show you what a bad winter can do to us.  But, as you can also see, hidden here and there, a promise of Spring rebirth.  
   Believe it or not, you upstate New York snow angels, March in south Louisiana has always been my favorite month, and now it's Peggy's as well. 
Today, we see on the news that northerners are getting a terrible beating with snow and wind...power outages...just awful. Well, hang in there; Spring is headed your way, too. Remember: just as you are getting comfortable in your hammocks with a nice cold glass of lemonade, know that we'll be down here griping about the heat burning up everything in our gardens, with the promise of Fall and Winter dangling like a carrot on a stick somewhere in time. I don't think you'll wanna see a video of that.  :-)


We Were Tired

  It's hard to explain how exhausting it is to wash off every single surface of every single item in the house of dead toxic mold after the work has been done to repair wood damage and mold killing. Even tho' the mold is dead, the residue left on everything still makes us ill while we are trying to clean it. If we were to hire this tedious job done, it would cost thousands and thousands of dollars. So, here we be, working in what seems to be slow motion, having to take frequent breaks. "We're getting there, we're getting there," we keep encouraging each other. 
   Meanwhile life goes on. Between bouts of scrubbing, laundry has to be done, meals have to be prepared. Not wanting to spend any extra energy, which I had pretty much already used up for the day, the other night I quickly put together tacos, flinging the shredded salad and black olives onto the tops of them, calling it done. Just fast food, kinda/sorta made by us. Last night I put a dozen or so chicken thighs in a long, clear Pyrex oven dish, seasoned them and popped them into the oven. After supper, after they were cooled down, I stuffed what was left into a ziplock baggie and put 'em into the fridge. 
  "Hmmm," I thought, and looking furtively around, I quietly put the long flat Pyrex dish down under the table flap of the kitchen island beside BeauxBear's food and water bowl. I thought enlisting the dog to help clean the dish of chicken skin and juices would save me time and energy, plus make BeauxBear happy. Even though it was going to be hand rinsed and sanitized in the dishwasher, what could it hurt, if Cappy didn't find out, semi-hidden under the island as it was?
  It was so well hidden, I forgot about it and it didn't make the dishwasher load. 
  When we woke up this morning, my poor, tired hubby discovered that the SUV tire I felt was "squishy" the night before, was now sitting in the driveway "flat as a pancake." Not again! This makes the third flat tire in the last six months. He found a nail sitting as pretty as you please, right in the middle of the top of the tread. 
  Letting out a huge sigh, he resignedly girded up his loins to take on the 'simple' task of getting it repaired. Since the shop where we take our vehicles is just up the street, he opted to just pump it up and drive it on up there, since it appeared to be a slow leak. 
   He went to the camper, moved things around in the "cellar" of the RV and hauled out the heavy many-faceted piece of equipment that our son, Dan had given us. He lugged it over around the SUV, carefully lowered the beast down onto the ground beside the flat and tried to attach the (Peggy's mechanical terms) thingy to the nozzle thingy to pump it up, but the end of the thingy broke off in his hand. Alright, so then he had to pick up the now useless monolith, which was in the way and where he put it, I don't know. 
  Letting out another long, slow cleansing breath, not to be undaunted...or is that daunted (?) he decided to get the smaller air pump out of the floor compartment of the SUV...it would take longer to inflate the tire, but at least he knew it worked. Opening the back gate of the SUV...staring at him were several heavy propane jugs sitting atop the floor compartment. Well, that just figgers, doesn't it? We plan on going camping soon to take a break from the wall scrubbing in the house, so, there were the propane bottles, ready and waiting ta go! Cappy hauled their butts out onto the driveway to get at the air pump in that floor compartment.
 At least he knew this was going to go well. Nothing broke off in his hand when he hooked it up; that was a good sign, he chuckled. He clicked it on and nothing happened. Well, that was not a good sign. Struggling to get up off the wet concrete (it had rained overnight of course), he half crawled into the front passenger side of the SUV and "messed" around with the connections, got out, got down and tried to coax his old friend air pump to inflate the tire. "Nah." Well, what in the very "hayo"??    Upon further investigation, he discovered the SUV battery was plum dead. Seriously...SERIOUSLY?
  So...he coaxed his beloved ol' Jeep, Tinker Bayl to come round and give the SUV a jump. At length, he had me go outside in my purple polka dot pajamas and turn the ignition and give it a little gas. I don't know what was going on between these two vehicles this morning, but they just didn't wanna play nice together. FINALLY, I got the SUV started, Cappy got the tire pumped up and headed up the street with it before something else happened to thwart his mission. 
  Meanwhile, I just had to go outside and get some fresh air. I pulled a few weeds and straightened up my "salad" garden, but even that exhausted me. It seems we aren't even sleeping well lately.
   I noticed Cappy pulled back into the driveway, mission accomplished. He headed into the house, looked almost like staggering with relief that that miserably rotten event was over. Home Sweet Home! 
  Just as I got to the back door, it whooshed open, scaring me. I saw Cappy's fist hanging onto it for dear life and I heard something "bonk!" behind the wall there.
  "You scared me!" I wailed, "What in the heck are you doing?"
   He stuck his head around the corner and said, "I just picked up a black olive off the floor." 
  I just looked at him.
  "I was coming out to tell you about the tire, but saw a black olive on the floor, so bent to pick it up, noticed that big Pyrex dish right there under my nose and wondered what in the heck it was doing there. I went to stand up and bashed my head under the table leaf part of the island and all kinds of noises on top of it sounded like it was going to come crashing down on top of me, so I stood up fast and lost my balance and fell back against the refrigerator, jiggling things inside it! I had the presence of mind to toss the black olive into the trash right there, then took a step to come outside, but my foot went right into the Pyrex dish and I went sailing across the floor out of control on one foot like I was sliding on ice right toward the back door! I was scared I was going to break the glass, so I grabbed the handle with my right hand, the dog's food table with the other, and that's when my head bonked on the door frame. I didn't mean to scare ya."
   He said while he was getting the tire fixed, he bought a couple of new hoses for the camper. So, besides getting "tired" we got "hosed". 
  And tomorrow is his 60th birthday. I'd ask, "I wonder what tomorrow will bring", but I'm afraid to ask.
(just one idea.)


Things You Can Do With Your Butt (says Cappy)

Often-time local grocers will run the Boston Butt pork roast on sale for less than a dollar a pound.
  Thankfully, our butcher will cut them up in several different cuts for free. Tonight for supper we took out a couple of the pork steaks that he cut up for us and cooked like pork chops. They came out amazing. That was just one of many ways to use this wonderful cut of bargain roast.
I love the way Peggy does pork chops. Here's how she does it. (She is embarrassed because she says it's too quick and easy for such compliments.) 

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put an empty pan or oven dish in the oven, letting it get hot and ready for the pork chops.
   -Get a frying pan hot, (not roaring hot) add a li'l of your choice of oil and let it heat. (again, not roaring hot, but hot.)
-Plop a pork steak down in it for about 30 seconds.
 Flip it and season it with salt, black pepper, granulated onion and granulated garlic.
-after 30 seconds put it in the pan in the oven, unseasoned side up, and quickly season the other side with the salt pepper, garlic and onion powders, then get that oven closed.
-Repeat with all the chops. (In this picture she parks them next to baking potatoes, which have been baking for about an hour and a half.  It's important to take the baked taters out when ya put the steaks in or else steam from the steaks will take the crunch outa the tater skin.)
-Either way, the pork steaks bake for 20 minutes in the pre-heated oven...just that fast.
When paired with a baked tater scooped out and covered with butter, salt and fresh black pepper they are so simple and fast and delicious. 
The next morning, I took one of the leftover pork steaks, warmed it up and plopped 3 fried eggs on it for a breakfast. Any old-fashioned diner would be proud to serve this!
Sprinkled with our own blend of Cajun seasoning, it truly was amazing!

This is the first of several posts about how to use ya butt; a wonderful economical versatile piece of pig that we love. Wee wee wee, all the way home plated!


Curling......Who knew?

   I'd like to start this post with the fact that I have always been a huge fan of the Olympics.  Summer or winter, I always try to watch as much as I can. Since I am home full time now, I have really been pouring myself into this year's winter Olympics. 
    I noticed for the first time some of the subtle idiosyncrasies of the different games.  For instance the biathlon, to win, ya hafta ski fast, but ski too fast, ya can't shoot good--it's a trade off.         Anyways, what I found very surprising is: here I sit, beer in hand and a bucket full of fried chicken while I'm waiting on a curling match as if it was a foot ball game. I even noticed that I've picked up some curling slang and find myself armchair "skipping". (the "skip" is the curling team's captain)  So here I am, sitting here, hollering at the TV and thoroughly enjoying watching curling even though  I don't fully understand.
  Whas with setting up all those corner guards, just to have 'em "peeled off"? Why not just go for the "house", then guard?Instead of peeling guards, why not go for the shot... "rock"? I mean, it's late in the 8th end and ya behind by 2 OFFENCE, OFFENCE!
   (Peggy here: I have no idea about what he's talking about.
All I know is: my bald-headed Cappy is sitting there happily engaged in watching curling, yelling, "Curlers rock the house!")   


God Bless Good Friends

  As mentioned earlier, we are in the process of cleaning and de-cluttering our home. This morning we got up and headed for St. Vincent DePaul, a Catholic charity thrift store, and then the  grocery store. When we got home we were surprised to see our good friend Sam, AKA "Bobec" who we also call "Smokin' Sam", my best friend in town, pulled up behind us in his truck.  
He gifted us with two packages of Cajun-style Andouille sausages, along with two packs of Cajun-style smoked sausage!
I begged him to let me pay for these amazing gifts, but he just said, "nah." We always trade and swap stuff back and forth, and both have several tools and such that by now, we're not sure which of us they belong to. 
 What a wonderful treat here in peak gumbo season! How could a chubby Cajun not like a guy who shows up with amazing smoked delicacies that he made with his own two hands and the sweat of his brow. In our opinion, his sausages and andouille, not to mention ANYthing the man makes, is THE best, hands down.


Bed, Bath and Batman... aka Bedlam

   Last year was a doozie,wasn't it. (There's no question mark there; it's a period, cuz I think I'm stating a fact.)  Seems like last year became a mad dash toward what we still hope to be better days, to "infinity and beyond". 
   We lost some family members to infinity and beyond, we gained some new family members to the here and now. God Bless and keep them all.
   Right now, I'm sitting here in our little camper, in our driveway, looking out at the sky, which is spitting snowflakes here in "Sunny South Louisiana", as Cappy is wont to call it. The wind rocking the camper is accompanying the feelings I'm having right now...kind of adrift. 
   We're waiting to hear how our five month old great-grandson is doing. He's in surgery. He was born weighing 1 lb. 2 oz., but with the miracles of today's hospitals, he now weighs over ten pounds, but his long stay in the natal unit has not been without difficulties. We were in Rochester, NY this past Fall, so I got to see him, but didn't get to hold him. Praying repair on his little body will go VERY well. Waiting to hear.
   Simultaneously waiting to hear about Melissa, our friend, who is also in surgery. Praying it will go VERY well. Waiting to hear.

   We are on hold. 
    Last year, we didn't have to wait around for anything; bad news seemed to have been a constant.  
    It was a terrible shock when Cappy's favorite cousin, Mark, lost his wife, Susan, while they were scuba diving on a tropical vacation. The family did have to wait quite a while for her to be sent home. It was such a difficult time for her loved ones. We learned that she had had an enlarged heart. Cappy said, "Of course she had a big heart, and it was made of gold." What an incredibly sweet woman and what an incredibly sad and shocking loss.

   While the family was in deep sorrow over Susan, our precious Aunt Gussie passed. Another wonderful Robin has flown Home. I hope she gets to meet my Grandma...I can only imagine the fun they would have together. They were both a hoot! 
   During all this, here at home we had a huge border collie puppy running amok, turning our life upside-down. She was sweet, to be sure, but she tore up our yard and gardens, ate the furniture inside the house, she ate the walls of the house, she cut her baby teeth on anything and everything, including her Bichon Frise brother, Beauxbear. Now, we did patiently wait for her to grow up and stop doing that. Sadly, it never happened. 

   While we were in New York State visiting for a couple of months visiting family, her personality changed as she turned one year old. She became dangerously vicious and sly. Our baby girl doggy!! Our scaredy-cat, Jolie`! Everybody loved her and tried to treat her so well, but she kept 'foaming and frothing' at the mouth, trying to attack them... it was heartbreaking.  One day she lunged at our four year old and eight year old granddaughters' beautiful little faces, missing the older one's sweet smile by one inch!
We were shaken to our core and immediately contacted professional help.
   We were told that a terrible situation with border collies is currently taking place, primarily because of careless breeders. When these puppies turn one year old, something happens... they are 'broken' little dogs and cannot be trained out of this vicious behavior. The border collie rescue in central New York State has what looks to be a Disney World for border collies. They retrain border collies and have tried for over ten years or more to train this trait out of over a thousand dogs, to no avail. The woman almost cried with us, loving border collies as she does, as she told us that we had to 'let Jolie` go' before she hurt someone, or we could lose everything we own...home, savings, everything, if she actually attacked s0meone. 
  It was with a broken heart that we contacted an independent veterinarian in our son Dan's town. We wanted another opinion. While they were very sympathetic to our plight, they confirmed what we had learned earlier. 
   We came home to Louisiana without our baby girl.
   Arriving home sweet home after two months away was wonderful...for two hours. Stepping in the front door, I noticed an odd smell; almost faintly sweet... but not. I crawled in bed for a much-needed nap, noting a dry cough as I fell asleep. When I climbed up out of bed, I could hardly walk. Everything hurt: my muscles, my joints, my lungs, my head.          Lonnnnnnng story, short. We have toxic mold in the house. We just had people in yesterday to do testing as to which kind, but just from looking around, they confirmed what my body already knows: I cannot go into the house until we get test results back to learn what needs to be done, and then, after the house gets "fixed". Who knows how long all of this will take.
   So, here I sit in the camper, waiting. The weather is terrible. The little camper heaters are trying to keep up, but my feet feel like ice cube trays. 
   I know this post probably reads like one of those dreaded family newsletters enclosed in Christmas cards. Despite Cappy and I not wanting to write about such negativity, still, we wanted to let yall know why our posts have been so far and few between.
  It hasn't been all bad news, tho'. Since the cheap, rickety mattress here in the camper has decided to get in the bad news game, and "sproing'd" its springs, introducing us to each and every one of them as we twist and turn, trying to get comfortable, we have a new one ordered from the local furniture store which is having a winter sale. Yes! (hope it fits)
Even with a tiny 18"x 18" shower stall in the camper, "PTA baths" and sweet neighbors insisting I go use their showers, and showers at campsites, I feel like I'm "stewing in my own juices". I'm laughing here. Just as I was adjusting to this type of bathing luxury, the water pump quit tonight. No water. (why am I laughing???)
   To preserve a modicum of sanity, I got a new laptop computer and, finally, a smart phone to keep me otherwise occupied, using my time wisely. I've been working on editing our book, working on the new book(s)...reading books and trying to figure out how to use this darned new phone. 
Cappy manages to spend time in the house without symptoms such as mine. I called him on my phone and whined that I'm cold and need an electric blanket. 
"Where you gonna get one?"
Smarty pants me, using my smart phone and the suggestions they put there for me, clicked away, and answered him, hoping he'd be impressed: "Bed, Bath and Beyond"...and send, but the Stooopid phone changed it to "Batman" instead of Beyond. So...my old-fashioned flip phone was stupid and now, my smart phone is stupid, too? 
   Well...I'm waiting. 

(Both the surgeries appear to have gone well, Thank You, Lord!)
    UPDATE: over $10,000.oo later and things are almost back to normal as far as our house's health issues.  So, we are back to our weekly blogging and sharing our world with yall as we recover from what has been a very trying time. We will keep yall posted.  Hopefully :-)