Monday, August 31, 2009

A Puppy For Archer

Archer, our Jack Russell terrier got a new friend last week. Tess, a smooth-coated Irish Jack has stolen all our hearts because she’s so darn adorable—even when she’s chewing the buttons off your shirt with her carpet tack teeth.

When Archer’s friend and nemesis Snap (our first Jack Russell) died last year, he was on his own in the house. Without Snap to befriend and torture, he turned his attention to me. Archer dropped a ball onto my computer keyboard at least 10 times a day. If I threw it, he’d run madly after it, hurling his burly body through the air, crashing into walls, threading through table legs, balling up all the throw rugs. Once he’d nailed the ball, he’d run laps around the house, growling and twisting his wedge head back and forth like a madman. Then he’d come barreling at me, ball in mouth and slam it back down on my keyboard.

Time for a puppy.

Now instead of attempting to lure me into a game of catch every 15 minutes, Archer plays with Tess. Yelping with pain when she bites his ears, Archer runs around the house with Tess in hot pursuit, her stumpy legs pumping. She looks like a crazed wind-up guinea pig. They roll across the floor under my feet an angry two-headed beast—snarling, yipping, and biting—while I write.

New puppy. Good solution. I’m getting so much work done now.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Zucchini Boats

I was in my garden with my hands on my hips surveying my late tomato crop (a cool summer means they aren’t ripening very fast). And while I was bemoaning my lack of ripe tomatoes, I spied a large green object on the ground. “Watermelon!” I thought. Then I realized that we didn’t plant watermelon this year. A closer look revealed that it was a giant zucchini—the size of a small canoe.

I leaned in to pick it (wrestle it was more like it) and I saw several others. I hauled out four whoppers. Too big to sauté (I like smaller, less seedy and fibrous squash), I decided to make zucchini bread. But my recipe calls for just 2 cups per loaf, which hardly makes a dent in my massive squash stockpile.

They are sitting like vegetable missiles on my counter taunting me. I’m open to suggestions of how to use them.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Good Summer Read

Before summer slips away...

If you love books and dogs, you should pick up the novel Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. Of course, Oprah beat me to recommending it (she’s a good judge of good books—and a dog lover too). It’s beautifully written with lyrical descriptions of nature, dogs and country spaces.

This book is especially interesting to me (as owner of five dogs) because of its plot line discussion of creating a new dog breed (albeit a fictional breed). And the descriptions of canine intelligence and dog-as-companion are written with so much heart.

Don’t be intimidated by its size (I could use my hardbound edition as a doorstop). Some passages were so beautiful, I turned back a couple of pages to reread them before forging forward.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Nature's Garden Fall 2009

Look for the fall issue of Nature's Garden on the newsstand. I interviewed a Chicago-area family who has a stunning backyard garden featuring gorgeous fall foliage and a wildlife-friendly landscape including a pond. My article appears on page 74. In the same issue, check out Sandra Soria's butterfly garden planted in front of her chicken-coop-turned-office. Sandy offers lots of tips for attracting both butterflies and their larvae. And there's also a fun article on growing your own mushrooms (I'm definitely going to try that). You can learn more about gardening for wildlife at