Friday, October 21, 2011


Today marks eleven years since my father, Robert "Papa" Duke, passed away at the age of 86.  I've written about him several times on this blog--about his life, on his birthday, on Veteran's Day--but today I just want to share some of my fond and blessed memories of how he touched my life.

1.  His robust laugh - I just cannot describe that joyful and full-bodied laugh of his and do it justice.  It was contagious, and we all ended up laughing along with him whenever he was sharing one of his funny stories or demonstrating how something had happened.

2. His delicious food - To Dad, "food = love."  He was an excellent cook-cum-chef, using that gift as a career.  Our family often joked that since Dad had cooked in the U.S. Army, he often cooked enough at home to feed an Army--and we tried to eat as much as an army would!

I've been in the thinking stages of a book planned around family recipes; I haven't decided yet if it will be merely a cookbook, because some of those delicious recipes used in my books have stories behind them:
Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
Chocolate Mint Brownies
Pork Chop Suey
Cranberry Banana Jam
Hungarian Beef Stew
Mexican Enchilada Casserole
Crunch Cake
Chicken and Dumplings
Farmer's Breakfast
Frosted Cinnamon Rolls
Lobster Newberg
Blackberry Cobbler

3. His music - As a young man, he started out with the acoustic guitar, teaching himself to play.  Later in life, Dad played the electric guitar by ear, and I'm thankful to have a recording he made just a couple of years before he died.  On it, he played some of his old favorites, even singing along on some of those and making comments here and there as only he could do:  T FOR TEXAS, GOODY GOODY, and the like.  He enjoyed music of the old timers, like Hank Williams, Eddie Arnold, and later Patsy Cline, Les Paul, Chet Atkins (his idol).  It is cherished.

4. His zest for life - Oh, how Dad loved the outdoors.  Our family went camping when I was young, across campgrounds in Europe, meeting friendly people of all nationalities.  What an education!  We even camped in the summertime in Alaska, but in a camper instead of a tent--it got pretty cold there, even on summer nights.

He had a huge garden, and under his large and capable hands with TWO green thumbs, it thrived and produced record crops of fruits and vegetables every year.  He loved fresh vegetables, even making his homemade salsa that needed a fire extinguisher while eating it!  His home-canned green beans were wonderful, and he and my mom spent many weeks canning and freezing their bounty.  He even took fresh veggies to "elderly" shut-ins well into his eighties!  

5. His love for dogs - As I was growing up, we usually had some kind of "dawg" around, and we did own several dachshunds.  We actually got our first doxie when we lived in Germany--a red female whom we named Elia.  All dogs loved Dad, because he played with and fed them endlessly!  He even got one of our dachshunds named Samantha, whom we called Sam,  to talk.  She could say "I'm hongry" the way Dad pronounced it, "wanna go out," along with a couple of other words.  Dad was thrilled to get Sam to "speak" for visitors.

6.  His delightful sense of humor - I simply had to include this one as a separate point, because he could make anybody laugh!  His zany stories and escapades, some of which are highlighted in THE DACHSHUND ESCAPADES books, are all true:  the fence story, the fishing story, the alligator story, to name a few.  He not only told his stories, but he would get up and demonstrate them, showing his audience how a dog loped along (I still can't do it justice myself), how a mosquito flew erratically when he was released from a freezer he had inadvertently flown into, or how an alligator opened his mouth by Dad's using his arms as jaws.  You'd just have to see these to understand why we all laughed so much around him :).

7. His faith - Dad came to know the Lord rather late in life, in his fifties.  But he became a different person once he accepted Christ.  He opened his already-big heart to others, reached out to help people, and simply lived out his faith in such a way that the dramatic change that took place in his life was a joy to witness.

Dad, we all love and miss you, but we know by your own words before leaving us that you are with our heavenly Father now.  This world is poorer without you, but you've left behind a treasure trove of wonderful memories for us.  You would have adored those great grandchildren you never met as well as the doxies we now have, Duke and Shadow.

When our family all gets together, you are there with us as we speak fondly of you and your legacy of love you left behind as your gift to us.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Papa Duke, one of the beloved characters in THE DACHSHUND ESCAPADES series of dachshund books, so aptly states our feelings about dogs:

"A dawg loves you no matter what. You can be ugly, old, even dumb--but a dawg don't care. All he wants is your love and some food now and then. I think dawgs represent the unconditional love God has for us--maybe that's why He created them, to show that to us."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Sorry--I could not resist adding the caption to this photo!  Try your hand at a caption for it by adding a comment.

"We're innocent!  Where's our lawyer?  When
is our trial?  Let us out!!"

Monday, October 17, 2011


"Cuteness Personified"
Here we have Shadow the doxie with his sidekick, Aslan.  If you are new to this blog, check out the previous post, which tells all about the new addition of Aslan to our daughter's menagerie!  Normally, Shadow just does not have much to do with cats, but it seems that he and this ball of fur have adjusted rather well to each other!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Here I am holding Aslan, a one-month-old foundling kitten belonging to our daughter and her family.  Our son-in-law Philip found him beside the home of friends when he had checked on their cats while these friends were out of town.

Apparently, one of their cats found Aslan in the nearby woods and brought him up to the house, but nobody could find out where he came from or if he had siblings.  He appeared to be less than two weeks old, dehydrated, and flea infested. 

Clark and me with Philip,
Holly, and grandchildren
So Philip brought him home, of course.  Holly bathed the pitiful little kitten, coaxed him to eat some kitty formula (yes, they do make such stuff) from a tiny bottle, and he now weighs one pound!  He's a feisty little fella already, too:  he will bite, swipe at, and pounce on anything he wishes, including feet, hands, dog or cat backs, much to the amazement of our grandchildren, who have been at the other end of that kitty's shenanigans!  He is still small enough to get inside one of my hubby's shoes as well.

He took a liking to lying around my neck like a purring fur collar--if I moved him to my lap, he climbed right back to lie on my neck again :).
Grandson Asher
loves Aslan

Piper, His Majesty
Piper, their adult cat, watches over Aslan like an indulgent uncle, never allowing Aslan out of his sight.  Shadow, their doxie, has even been seen licking Aslan, an unheard of action by this dog who has never interacted with Piper (it's been beneath his dignity to deal with a cat).  Our doxie Duke simply did not know what to make of the little bundle of white fur when we visited last weekend. 

Times are a'changing in Philip and Holly's household!

Monday, October 3, 2011



My dear neglected blog,

I am so sorry that I have neglected you of late, but my elderly mother, age 83, was in the hospital for a week after suffering a broken hip from a fall in her nursing facility.  She had surgery to repair it, having a rod and screws implanted to hold the bones together, and was just released Friday.

She has a long recovery ahead, and had already begun exhibiting early signs of dementia, so with all this uproar, she's a bit confused and anxious.  While in the hospital, she was combative and scared, so we did all we could to assuage her insecurities and feelings of helplessness.

Hopefully, I will be coming to see you more often unless she takes a turn for the worse.  Just be patient, relax, and I will see you again soon.

Your writer,
Mavis Duke Hinton

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