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?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

a very rainy day

It is dumping rain here today. Rosie just arranged her office bed into
this little tent and crawled inside. What could be better on a
blustery wet day? My thoughts exactly!

Monday, June 21, 2010


Today is summer solstice. With our very short summer season, it's always a shock when solstice arrives. The marking of the first day of summer and the peak of our long days, also means the slow loss of light and always sort of feels like "what, summer is almost over?" It's not of course, but it isn't uncommon for it to rain all of August, the earlier months always more likely to be dry and brighter.

This time of year our forests are filled with the bright greens of Devil's Club, Skunk Cabbage and sprinkled with white Dwarf Dogwood. The ferns are huge and the ground is covered in bright green moss. Everything seems to be glowing.

So, happy solstice. Enjoy the light. Enjoy the blooms and the greens. Here is Rosie on our hike into the cabin this past weekend doing just that!

Saturday, June 19, 2010


We just got back from an overnight at Peterson Lake cabin. It's a drive "out the rode" here in Juneau and then a hike that's a bit over four miles. It's peaceful and quiet there and there's a little row boat on the lake that we spent a lot of time playing with. It was, as the cabins always are, a perfect retreat from the worries and stressors of every day life.

For me, there are few things more satisfying than a walk in the green woods w/ my husband, my dog, and a correctly fitting pack. The lush colors and chirping of song birds just can't be replicated. We are so lucky to have places like this in our backyard. Places where we can listen to the silence and breath in the crisp smells of the earth.

Rosie and I went for a row early this morning. We listened and watched as a loon cried her haunting song on the lake and the other birds chirped and chattered in the stillness of the new day. It was the quietest and most settled I have felt in quite some time and I found my mind NOT wondering! Rosie and I just sat together and enjoyed the moment. Perfect.


Thursday, June 17, 2010


Rosie and I are both learning about gardens and yards this summer. I am learning how to plant and care for them, Rosie is learning how to stay out of them and in them respectively. It has been so fun and unbelievably therapeutic.

A really great trick I learned from another "dog person," is to tie a long cord to Rosie while she's out in the yard. We don't tie her up, but if she starts to go somewhere she shouldn't we tell her no and reel her back in, giving her a treat when she get's to us, and lots of treats when we don't have to reel her and she does it on her own. It has really helped teach her the boundaries of our yard (which is not fenced) and we rarely have to reel her, but we can in a pinch and that is great. She has freedom and we have a safety mechanism to keep her from going where she shouldn't.

This has allowed Rosie and I to spend a lot of quality time in the yard this summer. I am amazed at how good I feel mentally after digging in the dirt. The excitement of harvesting our first salad from the garden filled with lettuce, mustard greens and arugula was about the coolest thing ever! Since then we've harvested broccoli and radishes and are patiently waiting on beets and carrots. So fun! Truly I don't really know what I am doing, but I am learning and hopefully, over time I'll figure it out bit by bit and the process is definitely as yummy as the salad! Here is a peak at some of the garden.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Well, we aren't going to be able to hike the Chilkoot Trail this summer. The reality is that we just have too much to do on our house over the next two months. The thing about being a grown up, I suppose, is that sometimes you have to make the responsible choice, not the fun choice. Bummer. We are committing ourselves, for that time frame anyway, to be grown ups. Which is probably a good thing, given the heating situation in our 100+ year old house.

We needed to simplify, to take something off our plate. These days everyone seems so busy. Two year old's have "play dates," a term that clearly has developed out of our overly packed schedules and the need to "pencil" it all in on a given date and time. As I am working to not freak out over little things, simplification is becoming more and more integral in the way I strive to live my life - and mind you, I am not there yet!

One way I notice if my life is out of control is when I get too busy to take Rosie for a walk. That's when I put on the breaks and try to regain control. I need those walks just as much as Rosie does and that's the truth. Those of us with dogs get the added bonus of religiously getting outside, rain or shine, to walk our four legged family members. What a joy! When all the responsibilities of being a grown up hit me over the head, going back to the simple task of taking Rosie out for a walk lightens my load and refreshes my brain.

We won't get to hike the Chilkoot Trail this summer, and that is too bad. We will however, make strides toward the long journey of making our home into what we envision it to someday be. We will take long walks with Rosie, harvest fresh greens from our garden and do our best not to pencil in all our spare time. The Chilkoot Trail will have to wait.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I just started a great local book that I'll tell you all about when I am done reading it. It's called "Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs," by Haines author Heather Lende. She references a lot of traditional prayers in the book, including one I have always loved.

"Dear God, have mercy on me. The sea is so wide and my boat is so small." It's a fisherman's prayer of course, but it fits for all of us. Our lives are so wide. Some days are easy and the wind isn't blowing and some days are a storm. Either way, it's nice to have faith that God (whatever we perceive God to be), will take mercy on us in some manner as we all try to stay afloat.

I think sometimes about the faith that dogs have, that they must have - in us. Faith that we will keep them safe, faith that we will treat them well and meet their needs and I wonder if this is related to the general happy state of dogs who are given reason to have faith that we will do the right thing for them. A bit of faith is a good thing for all of us I suppose. It certainly helps to weather the storm.

Monday, June 14, 2010

so much to learn from our dogs

In my life I am working hard to be more aware. To appreciate what's around me and to accept things as they are without working myself into a tizzy about it. For some people, this is an easy task, for me it's often not.
One thing I have found most amazing about Rosie is her ability to roll with whatever comes her way. For the most part, Rosie appears to be quite happy and secure in her life. It doesn't matter if she's having a good day or a bad day. Even if she isn't feeling well, she's happy to see those she loves and it shows. She enjoys nearly all adventures we take together, always taking time to stop and smell the stories that came before her. Rosie does not judge new people, she finds out if they like her by showing them she wants to be friends. If it doesn't work out, she moves on. Simple.
Here is a shot of Rosie on a recent row boat trip in Sitka. This was Rosie's first time in a row boat and she embraced it as she does most everything else. She looked around at the beauty and sniffed out the stories.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

cuddle day

After what seems like weeks of sun, the rain and the wind have come
back. For those if us who live in Alaska, the long sunny days of
summer often mean frantic work outside trying to get it all done
"while the weather holds." While we nurture our gardens, split and
stack wood for the winter, hike, bike and play...the insides of our
homes get slightly neglected and we rarely take time just to cuddle up with our loved ones and a cup of tea. Today, our household is enjoying some much needed down time in front of a crackling fire as the wind blows the rain into our windows and the earth gets the good soak it has been waiting for.

Friday, June 11, 2010

happy friday!

We are all glad it's Friday. It has been a long week...Rosie is
exhausted from all the she is in one of her office poses.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rosie accidentally goes for a swim

Rosie's office mates look on as Rosie surprises herself with a swim.
Guess that water wasn't as shallow as she thought!

More on the joys of dogs in the work place soon.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

a cruising angel

Another lovely day in Southeast! Here is Rosie Mae biking (or rather riding) to work this morning. It's been a great way to get to work and home this spring. Rosie get's goodies as we peddle and seems to be perfectly happy cruising along. Hurray for summer and 8lb dogs!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Getting it together

How do people keep these blogs up, anyway? Stay tuned as we're getting it together and hope to get back to making regular posts this week! The Chilkoot Trail is sneaking up on us and we have lots to do! Rosie is working on learning the boundaries of the yard, how to stay out of the vegetables and not bark at the other dogs cruising by the house. So much to do! Here is a shot of Rosie Mae enjoying some sunshine in the yard. Gardening is hard work!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chilkoot Trail Here We Come!

As spring creeps in early on us here in Juneau - our thoughts are turning to what sort of fun things we're going to do with our summer. I am excited to report that we have decided to hike the Chilkoot Trail this summer - with Rosie Mae! Dogs are allowed, although they must remain on a leash. We think this will be fairly easy with Rosie. The trail is about 32 miles long, and we hope to hike it in four days - likely 8-10 miles of hiking daily, some of which we will need to carry Rosie for - but fortunately, she only ways 8.5lbs!

Why do we think we can do this with our tiny pup? Because Rosie is in good shape, I walk 2-4 miles with her everyday - but for her she's running around going back and forth etc - so she probably get's in more than that total. Remember, proper exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your dogs - and of course, it has the added benefit of getting us out and moving too.

Stay tuned as we prepare for this trip - learn to dehydrate Rosie's food (and ours), and get ourselves and Rosie out on lots of hikes to be ready for the big one! We suspect Rosie might be the first Chihuahua to hike the historic Chikoot Trail! Any advice on hiking long distances with little dogs is more than welcome! What tips do you have to share?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Losing a Family Member

Earlier on this blog I wrote about my dear friend and loyal companion of 14.5 years, Zoe.

On the morning of the first day of 2010, while the sun rose out the windows behind her, and the blue moon went down behind the mountains, Zoe left us. She was surrounded by myself, my husband and my sister. We sat with her, we stroked her and we cried as she quickly slipped away.

It was a tremendously heartbreaking moment for me. Even more so than I expected, and as I write this, two weeks later, my eyes are welled with tears and I feel a great loss in my life. Zoe was a member of our family and she had been with me longer than anyone else I share my home with. Zoe would come to me when I was sad and play with me when I was happy. She was amazing at reading moods, and as I shared earlier, she had a way of reaching out to those she loved and those in need. In her older days, Zoe followed me everywhere, even into the bathroom. Now, I miss the clicking of her feet on the wood floor and the sound of her old body slowly moving up and down the stairs. Then of course, I just wanted her to stop, for fear that she would hurt herself.

Zoe gave us so much in her life and in her death she did the same. She spared us from having to make the decision of when it was "time," she went when we were all there, in our home, she made one cry in the morning, awaking us all and asking for us to be with her. I am so thankful for that.

We had decided (thanks to Patricia McConnell) that we would allow Zoe -when the time came- to "lay in state" in the house. I had read that this would help Rosie Mae to understand what had happened and to mourn the loss of her friend. So, this is what we did. Zoe was in the house, on her favorite bed, in the place she died for apx. 32 hours.

For the first 12 hours, Rosie would not go anywhere near her. We all spent the day in the room Zoe was in, petting her, talking to her, being with each other. That evening, Rosie went to Zoe. She kissed her all over her face, she cried out and she pushed on Zoe with her tiny little front feet. She did this more than once that night, while we watched in amazement as Rosie accepted the loss of her friend. It was wonderful and sad.

After that, Rosie would come and sit quietly near me while I pet, brushed or just talked to Zoe. Her perception of our sadness, coupled with her own sense of loss (what I can only assume to be), seemed to quiet her, she did not ask to play, she did not cause any mischief, as we all shuffled about the house in a fog of grief. She cuddled and loved us and quietly kept watch over her friend and over us.

We decided to have Zoe lay in state because of Rosie. What I didn't know then, but realize now, is how cathartic it would be for me. We were not ready or prepared for Zoe to leave us, we did not know it was time, we had not said goodbye. Having her in the house allowed me time to be with her, to talk to her and touch her. It allowed me time to thank her for all she has done for me and to apologize for all the silly mistakes I made when I was just a kid. No one will ever share those times with me again, she shared them all and now she's gone.

As I sit by the small shrine we made for her with her ashes, her lovely collar, photos and cards from all the friends who reached out, I feel ache and relief, sorrow and joy, and mostly appreciation for all that Zoe gave me and for how long she stayed here with us. We bring dogs into our lives for many reasons, what we don't fully realize until they're gone is how much they bring us into theirs.