Friday, November 5, 2010

a big trip for a little dog

Once again I have been remiss in posting on this blog. Rosie, Bret and I have just returned from a two and a half week trip, most of which was spent driving all over New England, visiting friends and family who we just don't get to see often enough. It was a very busy and very fun trip. And best of all was how settled Rosie was with all of it. She was a traveling champ! She met several other dogs on the trip and other than her occasional food guarding, she did great. She snoozed in the car on long and short drives. She happily made friends where ever we went and she even spent an evening in New York City!
I was truly amazed at her ability to just roll with whatever the plan was - it was so fun. Each time we travel with her I am just so happy to have her with us.
One great product we use when we travel with Rosie is called Dog Appeasing Pheromone or DAP. Which really helps to ease the process for her. I will write about that in a separate post.
Now, we are settling back into rainy Juneau life. Here is a shot of Rosie in a Jack O' Lantern patch in Worcester, MA. I must admit, she's pretty darn cute!

Monday, August 9, 2010


Since I just posted about the tomatoes in the guest room, I couldn't resist sharing a pic and a little about the delicious meal that came from them! Thank you - lovely little tomatoes - for letting me make one of my very favorite dishes out of ingredients mainly harvested from right here at home. If you live out in the land of lush farmers market's - this sort of dish is so easy and wonderful this time of year, and of course it looks beautiful. Oh, and thank you to my husband for crawling around in the dirt for the last two weeks so we can have running water and doing it all without destroying my garden.

In a saucepan saute fresh garlic in olive oil(this garlic was bought at Juneau's Farmers Market - hurray we finally have one!). Ad some fresh greens, I used kale and arugula from the garden. Slice fresh cherry tomatoes in half or chunk regular size tomatoes into bite size pieces. It makes all the difference that the tomatoes are fresh for this, I also think a mix of colors is fun! Tear up some fresh basil (this is also the first year I have ever been even somewhat successful with basil). I added garbanzo beans for some protein, but I don't always do that just depends on what you're after, it's good either way. Saute all together until the tomatoes start to break down and their juices mix with the olive oil and garlic to make a sauce. Salt and pepper to taste and some crushed red pepper flakes for a lil' kick. Toss with whatever sort of pasta you prefer, I used rigatoni for this because I love the way the sauce get's stuck in the ridges and fills up the middle. Mmmmmm...When it's ready to serve sprinkle each plate with a bit of feta cheese, but again, you could really use whatever you prefer. The end result - simple and delicious - the best kind of food.

There are lots of ways to vary this, you can ad any veggies you want and it will taste great, so long as it's fresh! I think fresh green beans this time of year are delicious in a dish like this as is zucchini. Happy eating and happy harvest time. Enjoy your gardens and your markets and for those of you who live down south, don't take those amazing tomatoes for granted! Here's hoping we get enough sun to turn more of my green tomatoes those amazing shades of red and yellow.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


These tomatoes are growing in our upstairs guestroom. This is the first time in my life I have successfully had tomatoes turn color - and not just one of them while the plant is giving its all before it dies. I will admit that I did not start these plants, I bought them when they were very small from a locally renowned tomato grower, but I have bought starts before and never still never succeeded. Our wet and often somewhat gray summers, are not the best for growing tomatoes. I think though, that this old house might just get enough light to do it!
Every morning since they started blooming I come in and give them a little shake while looking down the channel, I think it is making all the difference and is what I was missing before. As I type the smell of tomato plants fills up the little room for Rosie and I to smell, who is laying beside me on one of her many beds.
I can also report that these lovely little tomatoes are quite delicious! We'll see how many I get this summer, hopefully each summer I'll get a little better at this and be able to start them myself successfully one day. Time will tell I suppose. For now, I am thankful to have any and looking forward to eating more. Happy Saturday.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

E. Alan Brudno

It has been a while since I have written. Things have been busy here. We recently returned from a week in Washington DC. A lot of things about that trip have stuck in my mind, but there is one thing in particular that I can't stop thinking about.

E. Alan Brudno. The only person to have his name on the Vietnam War Memorial who committed suicide after returning to the United States. Brundo had been a POW and killed himself shortly after he was freed and sent home.

In order to get your name on that wall you must have either died in battle, or died of wounds associated with the war. They are still adding names today of those who have died of complications from wounds years later. But the wounds must be physical, not mental. The damage that is done to one's brain is not considered reason enough to have your name on that wall. E. Alan Brudno was an exception, because his family fought - for years - to get him there.

When I asked one of the very nice men at the Vietnam Memorial if people who killed themselves after the war would get their names on that wall, he told me no, told me about Brundo and then told me that, "Even John McCain doesn't think they should get their names on the wall. He was a prisoner of war and he didn't do that." I guess if John McCain can tough it out, then everyone should be able to? Well, some people survive gun wounds to the head and some don't. Those who don't, get their names on that wall.

I heard recently that we have lost more soldiers in these two wars we are in from suicide than we have from combat. This of course on the heals of constant stories about how the military is putting extensive resources into mental health care for our service men and women. If this many people were dying from surgery complications, we'd get new surgeons.

I don't profess to know anything about what it's like to be at war, or to survive it. What I do know is that if you don't count those who kill themselves as casualties of war, the numbers sure do go down. Imagine how many more names would be on that wall if Brundo was not the only one up there who took his own life? I do know that suicide is a scary thing for people to talk about, so we don't and it still happens. I do know that brilliant, creative, caring minds snuff themselves out every day - and leave their loved ones behind asking why and looking for help. I do know that it is unacceptable not to have acknowledged these men and women then - and that we don't today - as casualties of war. I do know that we must do better.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

a good weekend

This past weekend we spent in my home town of Gustavus, which is - in many ways - a dog and people heaven about 60 miles northwest of Juneau. The population is somewhere around 450 year 'round and swells in the summer with seasonal folks. The 4th of July celebration is a community gathering, for many it's their only day off all summer, making for busy visiting and catching up by everyone.

Growing up in Gustavus is what taught me to value community - in the truest sense of the word. Taking care of each other during hard times and remaining friends and neighbors even when you don't vote the same way or agree on local politics is not always an easy thing to do. None the less the support of the community is always there when times are tough, dinners delivered, monies raised, shoulders offered to cry on. Some of the hardest things become small miracles in a way - as the town holds each other up through their shared grief, or works together to support a community member going through a difficult time.

Going back there is always a bright spot for us, even if we can't do it as much as we'd like. Those people are my people, that place is my place, no matter how long I haven't been there, it is all a part of me. This trip we spent time fishing in the rain, visiting with friends, feasting on fresh crab and halibut pulled from the sea that day and clams canned this spring and put up for the season. Salads were filled with fresh garden greens and of course, the wine tasted perfect with everything.

It was a good weekend - filled with good people and good food. Rosie played on the beach, walked in the woods and fished on the sea bundled in my rain coat. She spent most of the day on the 4th tucked in my coats with her head peaking out to see what was going on and to greet friends. She came home exhausted from a fun and busy weekend.

Yesterday afternoon we landed back in Juneau and drove straight to the harbor to pick up a fresh white king salmon from a local fisherman, we took it home and processed it for the freezer, keeping a piece out for dinner with my sister and our friend Katie who is family. We harvested fresh greens from the garden for a salad, fresh garden chard was steamed for a side dish, and Katie made rhubarb dessert with rhubarb picked just for the occasion.

As we all sat around the table, eating an amazing bounty of fresh, local and delicious food, I looked at Rosie snoozing on her bed in front of the crackling fire, at the rain and wind pounding outside and at my family and thought, it really does not get much better than this moment, right here, right now. The perfect end to the perfect weekend. I could not have been more thankful.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

pups at work

I mentioned earlier that I am fortunate to work in a dog friendly office. There are many benefits to this for me and my co-workers as well of course for the dogs. Having dogs in the work place ads a definite family feel to any setting.

Four legged pals can really reduce stress for employees. What better than petting a pup to make those nerves relax! Additionally, since dogs have to go out and do their business during the day and of course need some exercise, that ensures that we will do the same. Making for ultimately more productive employees. I know I am more productive when I take a break to get outside during the day to stretch my legs, clear my head and breath in some fresh air.

All sorts of large corporations have started to allow dogs in the work place because they recognize the benefit to their employees, even to the one's who don't bring a dog. Google is a dog friendly employer.

I am fortunate to have a dog who's office manner's are very good. Rosie spends most of the day snoozing on her bed next to my desk (as you've seen in some past pictures). She loves to say hello to people, and aside from occasionally stealing Sam's bone, and then not letting him anywhere near it to get it back, she's good with the other dogs as well, although she will sneak their food if given the chance!

Anyway, if your work place is dog friendly and you have a dog who is safe for an office setting, try it out! If your employer isn't dog friendly, it might be worth sharing some of the benefits with them! If you do bring your dog to work, or have co-worker's who do, what do you see as the benefits?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

when you know what it is you're doing

I saw a play in college entitled "When You Know What it is You're Doing." I don't remember what the play was about - I only remember the title and how it made me feel - how it still makes me feel.

Sixteen years later I wonder if I've remembered it all this time because I don't know what I am doing or because I don't remember the moment when I realized that I knew what I was doing.

As it turns out, I am surprised to realize that what I think I am doing is pretty basic and not nearly as interesting as I might have thought it would have been 16 years ago. I am trying to be a good wife, sister, daughter, friend and community member and I am trying to find that peaceful centered place in myself where it is easier to do all of those things from. I can't really imagine a better thing to achieve. I feel confident that I will be working toward this for the rest of my life as I am often slow to pick things up and as simple as it may be, it's not always that easy. With that in mind, maybe knowing what you're doing isn't a moment. Maybe it's a process.

So, I guess the question is, what does it mean to you to know what it is you're doing?