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Okra cannot be entirely evil.

But perhaps you'll recall that, earlier this month, a 94-year-old Marine Corps vet deeply grateful to receive home-

delivered dinners brought down the house at a Meals on Wheels benefit at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards when he pleaded for an end to the okra.

Now this: The driver for a second Meals on Wheels client, Dorothy Behler, was sorry to see Dorothy's house go dark and uninhabited for about four months.

When Dorothy, who's 93, at last returned home and her Meals on Wheels deliveries resumed, she told her driver what had happened to her.

One day, Dorothy's otherwise appetizing meal featured a side of okra. She detests it, so she carried her plate outside to leave the okra for the deer.

And she slipped on her driveway and fell, hard. She was so badly hurt that she was in a hospital and then a rehab center for all those four months.

Her driver told her the good news, that, thanks to Jerry Schiffer's appeal at the benefit gala, there will be no more okra.

Dorothy feels much better now. And, quite possibly, safer.

IT'S BIG NEWS in and around the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, Wash., that a couple of trained, keen-nosed dogs are helping environmental authorities vexed by the presence of fecal bacteria in a creek.

And those are our dogs.

A border collie named Molly and Crush, an Australian cattle dog, are working their first paying gig since they and their handlers were certified and hired a year ago by Environmental Canine Services of Michigan. Molly, Crush and a handful of Sonoma/Marin colleagues are the only professional, sewage-sniffing dogs in the western United States.

City and county officials in Washington contracted with Environmental Canine for the dogs to help determine the source of bacterial pollution in Juanita Creek, a tributary of Lake Washington that flows right through Kirkland.

Cameras rolled and spectators gazed in wonder as Molly and Crush sniffed samples of creek water for even the slightest presence of poop. From Kirkland, they moved on to Seattle's Thompson Creek.

"They performed wonderfully," said Ryean-Marie Tuomisto of of Kirkland's Water Quality Program.

Tuomisto said there's lab and other work to be done before authorities know how close they are to determining if the bacteria in the creeks is coming from sewer pipes, septic systems or perhaps from animals.

But she saw enough of the dogs' work to become a believer that they represent "a very interesting and promising" addition to the resources available for locating sources of water pollution.

Tuomisto had one other thought about Molly and Crush.

"They're very smart little dogs, I'll tell you that."

WITH JIMMY FALLON on "The Tonight Show" Thursday were a bearded Jennifer Lawrence and, more relevantly, the orchestra and part of the cast of the Tony-nominated "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder."

Another thrill for Montgomery High alum Paul Staroba, who directs and performs with the orchestra and was right out in front of Fallon's audience.

BIRTHDAY PRESENCE: Last fall, the one-year anniversary of her husband's death approached as Sebastopol's Loralee Denny sat to take on the New York Times crossword puzzle.

Remember what happened? A smile came to Loralee as she completed the vertical word, "ASKEW." The name of the love of her life was Barry Askew.

Then Loralee tingled upon writing the horizontal word starting with the W: "WEDS."

Just last Wednesday, Loralee went with friends to Graton's Underwood Bar and Bistro for dinner. Afterward, she ordered a chocolate delectable.

It surprised Loralee and her friends for the server to arrive tableside holding a dessert with a flickering candle in it.

He said, "You had a birthday here, right?"

Loralee started to say, "No," but halted with a slight gasp. That day, Barry would have turned 75.