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Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs: A True Story of Bad Breaks and Small Miracles [Kindle Edition]

Heather Lende
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Alaskan landscape—so vast, dramatic, and unbelievable—may be the reason the people in Haines, Alaska (population 2,400), so often discuss the meaning of life. Heather Lende thinks it helps make life mean more. Since her bestselling first book, If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name, a near-fatal bicycle accident has given Lende a few more reasons to consider matters both spiritual and temporal. Her idea of spirituality is rooted in community, and here she explores faith and forgiveness, loss and devotion—as well as raising totem poles, canning salmon, and other distinctly Alaskan adventures. Lende’s irrepressible spirit, her wry humor, and her commitment to living a life on the edge of the world resonate on every page. Like her own mother’s last wish—take good care of the garden and dogs—Lende’s writing, so honest and unadorned, deepens our understanding of what links all humanity.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Shortly after the publication of her first series of dispatches from "Small-Town Alaska," If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name, obituary writer and Anchorage Daily News columnist Lende got run over by a truck: "The back tire of the new king-cab, three-quarter ton Chevy pickup rolled right over my lap." In this collection of mordant but largely uplifting pieces, Lende recalls that near-fatal bicycle accident, and her slow return to health with the help of doctors, therapists, family, and friends. While considering the big questions of life and death, Lende introduces an eclectic cast of characters from a town of just 2,400, including Wilma Henderson, a "formidable farmwife and Presbyterian elder" who believes in "praying with your feet"; and Fireman Al, officially the volunteer fire department's training officer, but also the guy who responds to nearly every ambulance call. Though Lende indulges occasionally in mindless tangents, her charming style will keep readers attuned to her celebration of love, faith, and healing in a far-flung, tight-knit community.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* While biking downtown, daydreaming about her upcoming tour for If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name (2005), Lende was hit by a truck. Literally. It ran over her torso. So no tour, but the makings of another book, which moves as far beyond the clichés of the hurt-but-heroic personal-triumph genre as Lende’s town, Haines, Alaska, is from . . . well, even Juneau and Anchorage, to say nothing of the world outside. What distinguishes it is Lende’s relationship with her community and her faith, both of which present challenges as well as comforts. Small town Alaskan life ain’t easy. Far too many are lost to alcoholism, weather, violence, and accidents at sea and in the wild. Lende should know: she writes the local paper’s obits. Friendships, family, and natural beauty sustain her and other survivors. As for her faith, it isn’t always easy, either. So few meet in her Episcopal congregation’s borrowed quarters that they have an unpaid vicar rather than a priest. God doesn’t always seem to answer; why, for instance, does Lende’s beloved mother go down to death still fighting, while an Alaskan friend passes away in beatific calm? Sometimes her moral compass seems to roll around rather than point north. Lende writes emotionally but never sentimentally, giving us the best Alaska memoir of late, maybe the best ever. --Patricia Monaghan

Product Details

  • File Size: 2623 KB
  • Print Length: 318 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1616200510
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (April 19, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00480P7Z6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,770 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She's Back!! April 29, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have been looking forward to reading this book ever since her first one: If You Lived Here I'd Know Your Name. I was not disappointed. I wanted the world to stop turning while I curled up in my favorite spot and read. I grew up in Haines but have not lived there for 27 years. Of course, that helped make it special but anyone who yearns for small town life experiences sprinkled with inspiration and stories of faith will enjoy this book. I cried, I laughed and in the end I felt like I was having a reunion with an old friend. Very enjoyable.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Installment from Haines, Alaska June 12, 2010
I have happy memories of reading Heather Lende's memoir If You Lived Here I'd Know Your Name that was published in 2005. Lende lets us see what life in small town Alaska is like- something that sounds much like life in my small rural farming community, yet decidedly more exciting at the same time. After reading this book I could imagine myself living in Haines, Alaska, writing for the local paper and raising my family all amid the beauty of the Alaskan outdoors. What I didn't realize was that while I was busy reading Lende's book, she was busy recovering from a terrible accident. While biking in April of 2005 Lende fell off her bike and was then run over by a truck. The result of this accident was a broken pelvis, and Lende was lucky to be alive, enduring months of hospitalization and rehabilitation in Seattle. (A downside to living in a remote Alaskan town is lack of medical care for extreme illness or injury). Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs picks up right where Lende's first book ends. We are treated to more anecdotes of the residents that Lende knows personally. And Lende is able to share her feelings on faith as she is confronted with the personal challenge of recovering from her accident and grieving the death of her own mother. Once again I am able to feel as though I know the people of Haines, Alaska, and Lende and her family. And as I ponder from time to time the type of writing that I would like to do, Lende's memoir sticks firmly in my mind as an example of how one writer can make ordinary life interesting and entertaining.

My husband also read If You Lived Here I'd Know Your Name shortly after I did, also dreaming of an idyllic life in remote Alaska (apparently skipping the part about not having television reception).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars With any luck, life keeps rolling along June 15, 2010
Heather Lende's new book includes quotes from her Episcopal prayer book, among other thoughts on faith. It is summed up in the quote, `"teach us to number our days". This is not a religious book per se, nor really a book on Alaska. It is a book dealing with being fully alive and loss - to go on... it is life overcoming being hit literally and figuratively by a truck. It is a book about people's hearts and souls that live anywhere on this earth.

There is faith and love and death. If you have ever been the victim of an accident, which she was; run over by a truck, she tells your story. Many of us have been hit by that truck, if only emotionally, but those of us that have had recoveries in a nursing home, know that it is not the best place for anyone to ever be. Her story is deja vu to those of us that have been there. Her experiences are no exaggeration, but she is lucky as some are, to have a loving husband to hold her hand and wipe her clean and a community to come home to that nurses her back on her long road to health.

So this is life overcoming, that accident, the death of loved ones- from funeral services to a Tlinget totem pole to heal pain. There are stories of living, the heart that hurts, the bereavement, the comfort. She coalesces such thoughts as: "the only thing we know for sure about life is that we will die, each time it happens most of us are surprised`.
She has gone through a life changing event and describes her new outlook. But do not think this book is a `downer', it is a wonderful paean to existence and love and community. I cannot think of anyone who would not benefit by reading these reminiscences.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars uplifting read November 4, 2012
By Ginny
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book very much. It had a pleasant style of writing and flowed smoothly along. I especially liked the quotes or words at the start of each chapter. This book had a message of sorts, but was never preachy or overly religious. I found it very relaxing to read, and felt so uplifted whenever I would even read a few pages or chapters. I sure did learn a great deal about Alaska and the hearty people who were born there, or the ones who went there to live and love the area. You will not be sorry if you read this book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go Heather August 23, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I quickly read Heathers second book & held my breath when she was injured & cheered for her recovery.
The love & caring of a whole Village was touching.
Heather caring so much about each person who crossed over telling their story when writing their obit.
That was so touching.. Hope to hear from Heather again with her next book updating us on her life.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small Town Life Comes Alive July 11, 2011
Life in a small town.
It does have a certain charm.
I was born in a big city but have lived in some small towns so I completely understand.

This book is a serious of essays regaling the reader with the people and quirks of living in a rural area. Weaving them together is the underlying story of Ms. Lende's accident; she was riding her bike and was hit by a car. She was critically injured and the town pulled together to help her recover. As small towns do - when I had my first surgery my hubby didn't have to cook, clean or do wash thanks to everyone coming to help. Small towns are great for that.

Ms. Lende's writing style is so smooth and easy you almost feel like you are sitting across from her enjoying a cup of coffee and a pastry. You never feel like you are being hit over the head with the life lesson put forth in the story. In fact you don't even realize there's a lesson until long after you've finished and you think back on a bit of what you've read and chuckle and suddenly the lightbulb goes off in your head.

I loved reading about the way of life in Alaska present and past and especially enjoyed her insights into the Tlingit culture. Her faith is strong and she made me laugh out loud several times with her writings on religion. In a good way. Her manner of describing the people in her life is gentle but true and you come away after finishing the book like you know the inhabitants of Haines, Alaska. I think it would be a fun place to visit.

It's a great book to read bit by bit and savor. It's not all happy and light; she does deal with the issues of death and dying but she handles them as gracefully as she does issues of Christmas pageants. Death is a part of life, merely it's end and life is to be celebrated. So celebrate the live that Heather Lende brings and as her mother advised before she died, "take good care of the the garden and the dogs." It IS good advice.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Holds one's interest and brings back memories of our visit to Alaska.
Published 7 days ago by Pixie Wright
5.0 out of 5 stars An Engaging Read by a Folksy Writer This book is ...
An Engaging Read by a Folksy Writer

This book is truly a heartwarming account of life in small town Alaska and getting acquainted with the residents of the area. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Ellie
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the second book that I have enjoyed by this "down home" author
This is the second book that I have enjoyed by this "down home" author. I had fun looking up her town on Google Earth. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to relate to
Heart warming. Easy to relate to.
Published 1 month ago by NANCY GREENE
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
feel good book.
Published 1 month ago by Sue Moorefield
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not asn good as her first book.
Published 3 months ago by Charlotte M. Stander
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
Love this book so much I ordered several copies off of Amazon for holiday gifts.
Published 3 months ago by Nancy A. Rusk
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the second of Heathers books that I've read ...
This is the second of Heathers books that I've read. Both of them made me feel as if I could walk out my front door and be in Haines, visiting with my neighbors there.
Published 3 months ago by Mary Zie
5.0 out of 5 stars Both of her books about living in Alaska are well ...
Both of her books about living in Alaska are well worth the read and a reminder to us of all the things they have to strive to figure out and that we take for granted.
Published 4 months ago by Connie
4.0 out of 5 stars Homespun & philosophical
I read this book because my sister-in-law lives in Haines, Alaska, the small town that Heather Lende writes about in this and her first book. Read more
Published 5 months ago by D. Thrush, writer
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More About the Author

Thank you so much for reading what I write! (And for wanting to know a little more about me. I'm honored.) My personal essays and columns have been widely distributed- from NPR and Country Living to the Christian Science Monitor and Woman's Day magazine- where I was a contributing editor for a few years. I live in tiny Haines, Alaska where my husband owns a lumberyard and we have a large fun family. I blog regularly and post photos of it all at my website and on facebook. (Haines is a pretty place.) My big story is that as soon as my first book, New York Times bestseller If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name was published in 2005, I was run over by a truck, which Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs pretty much covers. I'm better now, and so grateful that I laugh when I say, "I feel like I've been hit by a truck." My third book, Find the Good, will be published by Algonquin Spring, 2015.


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