Thursday, April 30, 2009

May Day Evening

The sixteen or so hours that I am awake each day seem so short.

Yesterday was: write (reviewing early chapts. of WIP), go to dump and Dr.'s checkup (while listening to Twilight Book Two on tape--very funny, imagine going to a birthday party at a vampire's house getting a paper cut, then slashing your arm open on broken glass, I mean what a situation!) yoga class, Colbert Report, bed.

Today: write (adding patches to early parts of WIP--it's like piecing a crazy quilt), prep for presentation to eleven 1st graders at ICS School, do presentation (fun group-a set of triplets in the class!), sit in on author Joanne Hurwitz's presentation to 4th and 5th graders at Wellsville middle school (boy soes she know how to manage a crowd!), dig up and transplant some of the creeping phlox that doesn't do so well where it is, cook chili and cornbread, eat with Fern and Fred, catch up on computer stuff (like blog).

Oh! Check our my friend, Linda Underhill's new book: The Way of the Woods

I was fortunate enough to hear readings from it in progress at the Pond House Writers Group in Alfred. It's what all my woodsey relations (and there are lots of them!) are getting for Christmas!

In The Way of the Woods, Linda Underhill explores some of our nation’s most important forests, from the magnificent old-growth groves of Cook Forest in Western Pennsylvania to the endangered hemlock forests of the Great Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee, from the giant sequoias of the Sierra Mountains in California to the rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Along the way, she also walks in ordinary woodlands, state parks, private nature preserves, and the woods surrounding her family cabin in western New York. Part memoir, part travelogue, and part meditation, The Way of the Woods examines the ways in which forests and woodlands contribute to the life and health of the planet. Each of the forests Underhill visits has a story to tell, and each of the lyrical narratives she relates about her journeys reveals an insight about forest conservation, including the importance of preserving old growth and wildlife habitat, the significance of urban forests, the role of fire in the regeneration of forests, and the ways that forests and woodlands inspire us with a sense of the sacred. Together, these stories provide the reader with many reasons to be concerned about the fate of our forests. Anyone intrigued by the beauty and mystery of the American landscape will find something to enjoy in The Way of the Woods.
Linda Underhill is the author of The Unequal Hours: Moments of Being in the Natural World. Her essays have appeared in such journals as Fourth Genre, Under the Sun, ISLE, and the Pennsylvania Review. She is former Chairperson of the Humanities at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and is currently a Visiting Professor of English at Gettysburg College. She lives in Wellsville, New York.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chloe is a Russell

This is Chloe! She's seven years old and belongs to our daughter, Spring. When Spri was in high school she had a little trouble with the NY State Regents Exam in Math. After two shall we say "not passes" we asked her what it would take, and she said, "A Jack Russell puppy!" Which worked perfectly. Spring just graduated from college and moved into her own apartment, so Chloe just moved out. We couldn't stand the nest being quite that empty, so we are getting a new puppy, a little Russell girl named "George" after our old beagle. Georgie was born last Thursday night. We had to pick her out then because we wanted the whole dog this time and tails get docked by day three. I wish the breed standards would get over amputating doggie parts. It just ain't right or necessary. Fern made up a poem about Spike's missing tail one time:

"Over hill and over dale
Spike's been looking for his tail
It's been missing from his bum
Since the day that he was born . . .

There's more to it than that, but I can't recall it right now.
Here's Chloe's Rhyme:

Chloe is a Russell

Chloe is a Russell and a Russell is a pup
Who has to see what’s happening and needs to know what’s up!

She bosses all the other dogs, attitude is all
And no one dares to tell her that she’s really very small!

She’s as savage as a lion; she’s as growly as a bear
All the toys belong to her; she doesn’t like to share!

She really likes her Squeaky fish, she really likes her ball
You must throw them down the stair well; you must fling them down the hall!

She drops Squeaky in the in the tub because she knows that he should swim
Then she’ll stare at him and tremble till you finally rescue him!

She’s busy in the orchard, and she’s busy in the yard
And she’s busy in the woodlot; little dogs work very hard!

She rushes after rabbits and she scurries after squirrels
And she chases all the chipmunks; she’s a very busy girl!

She terrorizes chickens and she exercises deer
And she just despises garter snakes, a Russell knows no fear!

She can’t be caught for cuddling, she’s got no time for mush
There’s a woodchuck in the pasture and a Russell’s in a rush!

And when the day is over, and she’s finished with her fun
And her Russell heart is happy, and her doggie work is done

A tired little Chloe hops up on the bed
And crawls beneath the covers, and let’s me stroke her head.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Four Footed Rhymes

Do you love you critters as much as I love mine? Here's our dog, Spike, in the center, surrounded clockwise from left to right, by daughters, Fern, Spring, husband, Fred (Wiz), and Jack Russell, Chloe. Lately, to rest my mind from the novel-in-progress, I've been playing with rhymes for my pets. I'm working on a collection of them. I adopted Spike, a handsome black and white Aussie with a Hollywood face, when he was less than a year old, after his owner's house burned down. He was tied outside in the early morning and saved three lives by barking. He's ten years old now and slowing down a bit, but he still has a thing or two to say about the salad spinner, young men jumping off docks, children fighting, my neice, Mindy, River Dancing . . . He loves excitement!

Speaking of salad, lucky me, my husband grows fresh greens all year round in his cold frame and we have salad almost every day. I can't remember when I last bought lettuce. Better yet, he likes to make the salad and his own special, incredibly delicious dressing, which he calls "Black Beauty" because the balsamic vinegar and powdered kelp he uses in it makes it quite dark. (If you'd like the recipe, I might be able to talk him into giving it out. We've talked about marketing it but I'm fairly sure he'll never get around to it.)

Lately we've been eating salads made of raw, tender young dandelion greens. which are absolutely delicious. He also digs and boils the whole plants--a good spring tonic and yummy with a tad of butter and vinegar. The best salad is arugula with toasted pine nuts and grated aged parmesan cheese. Indescribable! The only trouble is I am spoiled for salads at restaurants. I have yet to order one that beats those made by Wiz. And every one starts with a rousing one-dog-alarm when the salad spinner goes into action! Things would be pretty quiet here on Toad Hill without Spike.

I have to explain that the refrain for the following was stolen from something our friend Jim Lucey once told me that his daughter Alison used to say as a tiny girl: "Nevah evah evah evah evah evah evah!" It has a lovely cadence to it and I constantly find myself telling Spike that there was nevah evah evah a better dog then him. Oh, and I forgot to say that he is Spike-number-two, named after the Border Collie I grew up with.


When the flames were licking red and the people were in bed
He sounded the alarm and nobody came to harm!

If the little girls are fighting and there’s scratching and there’s biting
Spikey nips it in the bud before someone spills some blood!

Did you evah know a dog quite as noble and as clevah?
Why, nevah evah evah evah evah evah evah!

When Mindy came in prancing, doing kicks from Riverdancing
Spiky, bolting from his nap, stopped that rumpus in a snap!

It was Chris’s sad mistake, when he leapt into the lake
That he didn’t watch his back and Spikey launched a rear attack!

Did you evah know a dog quite as canny and as clevah?
Why, nevah evah evah evah evah evah evah!

When the dreaded salad spinner whirls and wobbles before dinner
There’s a loyal Aussie waiting to arrest that wild rotating!

And if you have a notion to create a wild commotion
He’s a self-appointed cop who will bark until you stop!

Did you evah know a dog quite as handsome and as clevah?
Why, nevah evah evah evah evah evah evah!