Phyllis Entis

Award-winning mystery writer and food safety microbiologist

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Red Alert

Red maple leafThe red-breasted robin has always been my harbinger of spring.

So, too, the first fallen red maple leaf is my autumn early warning system.

Two days ago, Shalom and I found a perfect red maple leaf – first one of the season for us – on our early morning walk. As I don’t bring either a camera or my iPad on when I’m walking Shalom, I picked up the leaf and carried it home.

Shalom, of course was curious about this piece of vegetation that we had brought indoors with us.



Though she isn’t much of a vegetable lover, this looked like it might be good enough to eat.



“What do you mean, it’s just for looking at,” she asked?



Nevertheless, she sat patiently while I photographed our forerunner of fall.



For me, this is a reminder that I’ll soon be preparing my flower beds for the coming cold season. It will be a learning experience this year. I still can’t tell the difference between some of the flowering weeds and the ornamental plants.


Room for one more – project, that is

I thought my plate was full. I was wrong.

I found a tiny empty spot and decided to do something with it.

As those of you who follow me know, I am a split personality writer. Part of my time is spent concocting mysteries; the balance goes to covering food safety issues for my eFoodAlert blog and for Food Safety News, an on-line news outlet.

More than a decade ago, I wrote – and ASM Press published – a textbook, Food Safety: Old Habits, New Perspectives. To my great delight, that book is still in active use today.

Last week, I had an epiphany.

Why not write a companion book on pet food safety issues?

Version 2

As ‘Momsy’ to an Australian Cobberdog, I know first-hand the angst involved in deciding what to feed our furry family members. Kibble or canned? Cooked or raw? Do-it-yourself or rely on a commercial source?

I have already started jotting down some ideas. If there is anything you would like to see included in this book, please drop a comment or email me.

As for the mystery side of my personality, fear not. I shan’t abandon Damien and Millie. There is a fifth Damien Dickens Mystery in my future.

Now, if I can just figure out what to make for dinner…

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It’s Gotcha Day!

The Entis family is celebrating an anniversary.

One year ago today, Shalom, our Australian Cobberdog, crept out of her travel crate and into our hearts.

We had done this before, and we knew the drill. We drove from Carmel-by-the-Sea to Los Angeles the day before Shalom’s scheduled arrival, and spent the night in Culver City at the home of our cousin. The following morning, the three of us waited with impatience for The Phone Call.

At last, around 10:00, we received the call. Shalom would be ready for us by noon.

Of course, we chose to arrive more than an hour ahead of time. “Just in case she’s ready early,” we told ourselves. We turned into the Qantas Cargo terminal parking lot shortly after 10:30, Cousin Alice a few seconds behind. And cooled our heels until nearly noon.

Shalom was worth the wait. After a few seconds hesitation, she allowed me to lure her out of the crate and nestled calmly in my arms.




A farewell romp in the grass with one of her fellow travelers, a pause for a potty break, and we were set to drive home.



The return trip was long. Five-and-a-half hours at the best of times, it stretched to more than six hours, as we stopped on several occasions to allow Shalom to potty and have a drink of water. Eventually, we arrived home in Carmel-by-the-Sea to a lovely surprise. A special Welcome Home ‘Puff The Magic Dragon’ stuffed squeaky toy for Shalom, courtesy of our neighbors.



Exhausted by the trip, all three of us went to bed early. The night passed uneventfully, except for the inevitable potty breaks. The next morning, we were all smiles as Shalom prepared to meet her public.



And now a year has passed, and our 9.5-pound puppy suddenly is a fully grown 41-pound adolescent. She has learned to climb stairs, and recently discovered that she can jump onto our bed with a single, graceful leap.







In addition to receiving the latest news about Damien Dickens Mysteries, subscribers to my monthly letter, Damien Dickens News, can share in some of Shalom’s antics and adventures. If you wish to add your name to the email distribution list, just follow this live link and complete the short sign-up procedure.