Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Hi, my name is Charlie T. and I’m a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel although I tell everyone I’m a miniature St. Bernard.  My humans, Larry and Elizabeth haven’t been able to get their act together so I’m taking it upon myself to bring you up to date on what’s been happening around our home.

Rufus the old cat is getting meaner and fatter all the time but he lives mostly in the basement so he doesn’t bother me too much.  I’m sort of afraid of him; he hisses and growls at everyone.  Oliver, the other cat, is my best friend in the whole world.  We chase each other every day and play a lot.  I have been doing great since my double knee surgery last year although it was a long slow recovery.  I get around wonderfully and can now run and jump and I dance for my supper, and, this is just between us, I can now lift my leg which demonstrates how tough I am.

Both Mom and Dad are gone all day, they tell us they are working but I think they are just messing around.  Mom is talking about retiring which I think would be great as long as she and Dad can still afford to buy my food and toys.  She could then spend all her time with me and we could go on lots of walks and she could hold me on her lap which is the best.

For Christmas last year Dad got himself an iPad and he really, really likes it.  He uses it all the time.   He plays games and reads books and watches movies.  It’s a whole entertainment system in one little flat package.  Mom doesn’t have one but she enjoys her Kindle.  They read a lot which is fine with me as I like sitting with Mom and cuddling.  I’m her favorite.

Mom and Dad have had lots of friends over during the year which I like as long as I get to stay out and play with them.  They also like to go to the theatre in Topeka and at KU and are looking forward to seeing what is on tap for next year.   They have seen a number of shows that they really liked.  They saw Peter Pan and were impressed with how professionally a Community Theatre could do the all the flying.

In the early spring they hired a dog trainer for me because they thought I misbehaved.  I don’t think I was particularly bad but I couldn’t convince them of that.  I guess I’m better behaved now.  I still have to go to group sessions but I enjoy seeing the other dogs.  Sometimes Mom takes me to doggie day care at the groomers and I pretend I’m the Activities Director.  I insist that all the dogs run around and play.  Nobody can sit in the corner and be shy when I’m the boss.

Mom and Dad had the outside of the house painted as soon as the weather turned nice and one of the screens wasn’t fitted back properly and Oliver fell out the window.  Mom and Dad didn’t know about it for a long time and couldn’t find him for hours.  They were very upset but then they found him hiding under the deck.  We were all thankful to see Oliver back home.  He’s not very brave Iike I am and he thinks everyone is his friend.  I’m glad the fox that sometimes comes into our back yard didn’t find him.

Last May Mom and Dad both deserted us and went off to California for a whole week.  They visited Larry’s parents for a few days and then took the train from Los Angeles to Monterey to visit their friend Keith and saw his absolutely beautiful new home.  I saw the pictures and wanted to move there but they insisted on coming back to Kansas.  Rufus and Oliver and I had a babysitter who came twice a day because Oliver had to have his insulin shot.  He’s diabetic and gets a shot morning and evening.    Our babysitter works for our Veterinarian and I got to go to work with her every day where I greeted people and their pets and had a super good time.

Mom and Dad had a wonderful trip.  Keith’s house has a movie theatre and they watched movies every day.  They also got to cook in Keith’s marvelous kitchen.  One of the best things they did was go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Mom was fascinated by the jellyfish, the seahorses and sea dragons.  She went on and on and on and I got really bored.  I’m much more interesting than a lot of fish.

During the summer we didn’t do a lot because it was really hot although we went to the doggie park in Topeka several times.  I like it there because the big dogs are in another fenced area and I’m not intimidated by them.  In August Elizabeth was transferred from her branch office in downtown Lawrence to an office that is only five minutes from home.  I am very happy with this arrangement as she can come home for lunch and we can take a real walk not a quickie trip to the back yard.  I don’t think at first she liked it much because she didn’t know the customers and not much was happening but she likes it now.

In September Larry went to California to visit his parents on their birthdays.  Mom stayed home with us which was nice.  Then in November Dad once again went to see his parents.  This time he and Mom cooked and froze a bunch of food, then they packed it in dry ice and Dad checked it on the plane.  It was an experiment.  They are going to ship another package of frozen food as a Christmas gift.  I hope Larry’s parents like what they get.   Mom and Dad learned a bunch of stuff about doing this and what works and what doesn’t work.  They hope to find a number of dishes that can be frozen and shipped easily so that Larry’s Mother doesn’t have to work so hard.  They have a food sealer that sucks all the air out of the bags and seals them flat so they can get a lot in a box.   It makes a nice noise.  I like it.

Our vacuum cleaner died and they got a new one.  It is the enemy.  I am trying to kill it but it keeps attacking me.  I’ll work it out though.   They are talking about making a lot of changes in the house.  Mom wants to have the basement hall and laundry room floor finished in polished concrete, and they want the Master Bath painted and maybe have the living room and dining room floor replaced with hardwood.  They have found a wonderful handyman which is great.  He is nice and likes me.  I have been helping him with a lot of his jobs around the house.

At Thanksgiving Mom and Dad went to Elizabeth’s sister’s house to see Cindy’s children, in-laws and grandchildren.  It was a nice visit and they were very glad they had a chance to see everyone.  I didn’t get to go because I love Cindy a whole lot and won’t let her alone for a single minute.  I get locked in my pen when she comes to my house to visit.  It’s not very polite because it is my house but I don’t complain, much.  We didn’t have our Thanksgiving Dinner until the weekend as both Larry and Elizabeth had to work on Friday.  I never, ever get people food, except for carrots, but I got three pieces of turkey.  A miracle!

The Sunday after Thanksgiving we set up our Christmas tree and decorated it and Elizabeth got out her collection of Nativities and set them around the living room.  She has a bunch of them but only put out a selected group.  Oliver and I have been extremely busy since then rearranging the ornaments on the tree as high as we can reach.  Larry and Elizabeth are really good humans but they aren’t very artistic.

Oliver has been good this year and hasn’t stolen a single baby Jesus from the Nativities, a new record for him.  

We don’t have any presents under the tree as of yet but I’m not losing hope.  I’ve arranged a few of my favorite worn toys around the tree in hopes that Santa will peek in and see what needs replacing.

I’ve been glad that we haven’t had any snow as of yet and hope that we don’t get a lot this year. Last year was terrible.  I actually got buried in a snow bank when I jumped off the deck.  It scared me silly and I’m not a sissy.  I’m a pretty tough guy but even so Mom had to go out and trample down the snow so I wouldn’t disappear.   Even my friend Owen, who lives next door and is a huge dog didn’t like all that snow.

I think that’s all our news for the year.  Larry and Elizabeth and Oliver and Rufus and I wish you all a wonderful holiday and a happy New Year.

Happy Holidays to all

Charlie T. Hovey

Oliver was really, really tired after helping decorate the tree!

Being a decorator is very, very hard work ... my favorite spot in the world!

Rufus the Terrible ... he thinks he's boss!

It was hard work, but it was worth it.

Happy Holidays to all and may you have a wonderful 2012!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011



As a child, as a teenager, as a young adult, as a middle aged married man and as an old fuddy duddy, one thing Larry was never Thankful for at Thanksgiving nor asked Santa for at Christmas was Cranberry Sauce.  He loathed it.  However, now that he's a food fuddie, he has found cranberries that he likes.  He says it's because they have brandy in them and everything goes better with brandy.  

Trust Larry, if you've never liked cranberries (and even if you have) you will love these!  They are delicious!


1 Whole Orange, finely chopped in food processor
1/2 cup water
2 Cinnamon Sticks
5 whole Cloves
1 pound raw Cranberries
2 cups Sugar
1/2 cup Brandy

Mix together the chopped orange, water, cinnamon sticks and cloves.  Bring to a boil and allow to boil for ten minutes.  Add cranberries and sugar.  Cook at a good simmer until cranberries pop.  Remove from heat, add brandy.  Cool and refrigerate.

Sunday, December 11, 2011



If you haven’t tried any of the Rancho Gordo Heirloom beans you are missing an enormous treat.  If you can’t find them in a store in your area you can order them online at  With most of the Rancho Gordo beans we have tried you don’t need to do anything fancy.  According to Steve Santo, Rancho Gordo’s owner, soak them for 4 to 7 hours then cook them on the stove top mixed with chopped onion, chopped garlic and a little olive oil then covered with the soaking water.  Yummy, but Elizabeth wanted more ergo the baked beans, and they are delicious.

1 pound Rancho Gordo Yellow Eye beans or Great Northern beans
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 slices thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon, coarsely chopped
¾  to 1 cup unsulfured molasses
2 tablespoons heaping, packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
Pinch ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
3 teaspoons dry mustard powder
¼ cup dark rum (optional)
Pinch of sea salt, preferably Maldon

Pick through the beans discarding any debris or discolored beans, cover them with water, about 2 inches over the top of the beans and let them soak for 5 to 7 hours.  The Rancho Gordo beans do not need to soak overnight like the dried beans from the supermarket. Drain the beans, reserving the soaking water if desired.

Put the drained beans in a bean pot or baking pot large enough to hold them plus enough water to cover by about 2 inches.  Add all the ingredients and mix together pouring the soaking water over all.  If you prefer you can discard the soaking water and use fresh water.  Cover the pot and put in a cold oven set at 400°F.  Cook for 3 hours checking once or twice to insure the beans are still covered with water.  Reduce heat to 375°F and again check to make sure the beans are still covered with liquid.  Remove cover and continue to cook for 1 to 2 hours until beans are soft and creamy and a nice crust has set.  You don’t want the beans to dry out so add more water if necessary to keep them moist.