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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 (114 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: 1163 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (April 19, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00480P7Z6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,058 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 31 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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18 of 20 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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5 of 5 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
4.0 out of 5 stars An Alaskan Anne Lamott June 19, 2011
With the ascent of Sarah Palin on the national scene, Alaska has enjoyed a resurgence of interest, so the timing is perfect for Heather Lende's Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs. Lende writes for a small local newspaper in Haines, Alaksa, and handles the obituaries. She shares the stories of some of her neighbors, including a feisty 57-year-old whom she visited as a hospice volunteer. The woman had everything organized for her death- her will, insurance, sister's phone number- she even paid all her bills and packed up her belongings so that no one else would have to do it.

Lende's mother had a different view of death. Her mom had lived for twenty years with chronic lymphatic leukemia, but she never spoke of her impending death, even when her husband asked if she had anything she wanted to say to him or her children. All she said was "take good care of the garden and the dogs."

The year before her mother died, Lende was riding her bike when she was struck by a pickup truck. She was severely injured, and had to go to a nursing home in Seattle to rehabilitate. Her time there was eye-opening, and many people will recognize her experiences.

I liked how her faith came into play, and each chapter opens with a short verse, many of them from the Book of Common Prayer. Lende shares her faith, and her writings about trying to live her faith I found similar to Anne Lamott's book, Grace, Eventually, which I loved.

We also see how life in Alaska is unique. Lende skins and guts goats, eats bear tenderloin, grows much of what they eat, and keeps hens for eggs.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story of life in Alaska
Not a bad read, rather preachy at times. I would find it hard to live in a place that is so cold 8 months of the year!
Published 8 days ago by S. Warnock
3.0 out of 5 stars take good care..........
Hard going. I got bored after awhile and did not finish it. Not a compulsive read. Sorry but that is it from me.
Published 13 days ago by J. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic snapshot of non-native living in Alaska
Well-written personal story that touched my heart and seemed to resonate in my own life. Making the best of personal challenges.
Published 15 days ago by Marsha M McCaleb
5.0 out of 5 stars Maryland dreamer
Good book but lost track at times. Took a long time to read because it didn't grip me. All in all it was a good book. MAkes me want to visit Alaska.
Published 27 days ago by Bill Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars great stories about interesting people
I highly recommend this book. The author has an engaging writing style. Definitely a page turner. Get to know some of the folks in Haines Alaska.
Published 28 days ago by Krista James
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and moving
A moving story from someone who does not want or need pity. The real stars are the helper dogs who find fun and love in their work.
Published 1 month ago by Bug Magnet
5.0 out of 5 stars Take good care of the garden and the dogs.
One of the best books I have read since her first book. I feel like l personally know the people in her books. I highly recommend this book.
Published 1 month ago by Myrna
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Depressing
This has been a long winter and I'm already depressed. This book didn't lift my spirits enough to continue to the end.
Published 1 month ago by Laurie Hamilton
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book to read.
I read Heather Lende's first book " If you lived here I'd know your name " I liked it so much I bought and read this one too. It was a very enjoyable book.
Published 1 month ago by scott m sherwood
5.0 out of 5 stars Alaska
I thoroughly enjoyed this book as well as the first "If You Lived Here I Would Know Your Name".
Great style, interesting characters and always a very easy read.
Published 1 month ago by mawnie
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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."

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