Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Dog for All Seasons

In honor of National Dog Day, I'd like to share a few moments from the life of a happy, funny, and loyal companion, Roxy. Roxy likes to play. Always. She's happy to chase a ball, or tug on a rope, or pounce on a laser pointer. She even thinks the reflected sunbeams from her dog-tags are a toy and chases them across the wall.

She thinks every action is an invitation to play, including vacuuming the living room, when she attacks the vacuum cleaner and lifts it from the floor. 

She enjoys watering the garden ...

and shoveling snow ...

and she likes to find the hidden icicles and carry them away to hide them. 
This one was a little more than she could handle.

When we adopted her, we told Roxy she wasn't allowed on 
the couch, but she assured us she was. 

Guess who won that battle.

Happy National Dog Day. I hope you have someone who bring as much joy into your life as Roxy does to mine.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Collecting Words

English is a rich language, mostly because of our habit of plundering words from other languages all over the world. As a writer, I like reaching for just the right word, the word that conveys my meaning exactly. Sometimes it’s illusive, but often the perfect word is right there, waiting.

I love words, playing with them and moving them around. I love collecting interesting words and storing them away for later, like jars of jam. These are a few of of my favorite words. Not that I necessarily use them often, but I love the pictures they paint.

It means to enlighten, to convey the truth, but to me it means so much more. I picture illuminated manuscripts, with rich detail incorporated into the text like the ones at here, at Diana Wilder's blog. To illumine is to bring knowledge that glows with light, like a Raphael painting.


Can’t you just see the dust flying, hear the noisy bickering, and experience all the fuss and bother in this old Scottish word?


Not just a meeting, with a never-ending PowerPoint presentation while participants surreptitiously check their emails, but a gathering where ideas will be discussed and celebrated. I also love the word surreptitious. It sounds so sneaky.

Trademark -State of Wyoming


Long-horned bulls and fearless cowboys. Surefooted horses, American flags, and the smell of livestock. All packed into one little word.


A mucky, boggy, frustrating situation. It's accompanied by the sucking sound my feet make as I struggle to pull them from the mire and make my way to solid ground. "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into."*

First of all, it's fun to say. And the whole idea of a happy accident, a coincidence that leads to something wonderful, is a story in the making.


I won’t just think about it. I’ll contemplate, ruminate on it, chew it over in my mind. This idea isn’t a quick snack; it’s a whole meal. A feast. And I will give it the attention it deserves.

What are some of your favorite words?

*Catchphrase from  Laurel and Hardy

Friday, August 14, 2015


Hospitality: the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.

Summer is the time for visitors, at least here in Alaska. As we’ve been getting the house ready for guests, I’ve been thinking about hospitality.

I’ve been on the receiving end of hospitality countless times, with friends and relatives who share their homes, their meals, and their lives. They’ve been welcoming and generous, but one of my most memorable acts of hospitality was unexpected.

Once upon a time, my husband and I were on a camping vacation in Montana. We set up the tent in a state park campground. The woman in the camping spot next door greeted us and said they'd come to pick wild huckleberries. When I mentioned I'd never tasted a huckleberry, her mouth dropped open in surprise. She ran into their camper calling, "They've never tasted huckleberries!"  and returned with a small box full of what looked like giant blueberries. They tasted like blueberries, too, but more so, sweeter and juicier. Delicious. Sharing her harvest with strangers: a wonderful example of hospitality.

I thought of her many years (and two kids) later, on a family vacation in Hawaii. We picked up a pineapple at the grocery store and hiked to a waterfall. After we swam in the pool under the falls, I cut up the pineapple for a snack. If you've never had fresh, ripe, locally grown pineapple, you can take my word that it's exponentially better than canned. A young couple walked by, smiling at the sight of my kids with pineapple juice running down their chins. When I offered them some fresh pineapple, their faces lit up as if they'd won the lottery.

I like books that offer hospitality. Books that make me feel at home, that invite me to relax and get to know the characters. And when the stories offer an unexpected treat, sharing a little taste of something unique, that’s when I fall in love.