Juliean insisted on the leading role in our next movie. And since she’s good at getting what she wants …

BTW, this movie pretty much describes all the reasons why I love having a cat. They’re so … annoying.

Where Only the Deer Go

by Danielle Hanna

Deer trail in the river bottom

Last week gave us a preview of spring weather, so Molly and I got ready for a long hike. Didn’t exactly end up where we thought we would …

We walked down to the river–our intended destination. At that point, the plan was to turn around and go home. But as I stood on the bank overlooking the water, I got a little tinge of home sickness. One of the things I miss about my old town–like, on a daily basis–is our favorite park.

That park had a nice paved trail, but more often than not, Molly and I could be found on the dirt trails, climbing the hills and weaving through the trees and exploring around the creek. (And falling in once. Another story for another time.)

I missed having a little bit of wilderness so close to my front door. So far, I hadn’t found anything quite like it in my new town.

Molly and I started poking along the river bank. Trying to satisfy our wilderness cravings.

And that’s when we found it. A faint track in the grass. It ran through the river bottom, between the water and the steep river banks.

So of course, we followed it.

I studied the snow on the trail. Deer prints. One set of dog prints. But mine were the first human prints.

This was looking pretty sweet. A deer track. Molly and I could have the whole place to ourselves.

It led us through a forest of cottonwood trees, tall and straight and smelling like a hundred years of earth. A wood pecker rapped on a trunk and somewhere over the river, a flock of geese honked.

I had a feeling Molly and I would be coming here a lot. (Exact location shall forever remain undisclosed.)

We stepped out into a meadow–and suddenly learned we weren’t alone.

A sound like a bird screaming. A flash of white. A crash in the woods on the edge of the meadow.


I froze. Molly strained at the end of her leash with one paw in the air, thinking for a second she was a pointer.

Then just as quickly as the deer had turned to flee … they stopped. Looked back. One of them still held her tail upright, fluffed like a startled cat. She stared at me. Then dropped her tail and wagged it sheepishly.

“Oh,” she seemed to say, “I thought you were somebody else.”

She started sneaking toward me. Trying to get a closer look. Creeping from tree to tree, as if I didn’t know she was there. We stared at each other in equal fascination.

Deer in the Cottonwoods

Molly glanced at me and whined, then sat down without being asked, and stomped her paw. That was a proud moment for me, knowing Molly’s penchant for chasing deer. (Also another story for another time.) But being good was definitely killing her.

Despite Molly’s tense energy and keen eye (she was clearly saying, “I wanna eatcha”), the little group of deer stayed put. I saw another one peek out from the trees. Then another one. Five all together.

I couldn’t believe they weren’t running away from us.

In fact … they went back to grazing. They even started coming out into the meadow.

Deer in the meadow

Just as if Molly and I weren’t there at all.

We watched the deer for about half an hour. Molly was amazing. She never barked. Only whined once or twice. And she sat and stayed like a good girl. But she was obviously waiting for the part where we spring out at them and chase them down.

Instead, when we had lingered long enough, we turned around and quietly walked away. This was their home, and I was honored they’d let us visit. I looked back over my shoulder to see if our exit raised a fuss. Nope. They didn’t even lift their heads.

Molly and I have since gone back and visited our new friends again. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of each other.

Pawnotes from Molly

Molly in the river bottomThis is some new form of torture! My girl doesn’t get it! Deer are for chasing! Just like sticks and bunny rabbits! Someone, please set her straight!

But it makes my girl ultra-happy when I sit quietly while we visit the deer. Sigh. So torn …




How to Pack for the Adventure of a Lifetime

How to pack for the adventure of a lifetime

I’m supposed to pack light, huh? Does this mean I can’t bring my favorite lake? –Molly 

I love traveling light. I consider it a personal challenge to see how little I can get by with. For road trips, I typically manage to fit everything inside a single backpack, including a big, fat book to read (or two or three little ones).

The RV will be the ultimate challenge in traveling light. And I’ve already failed. At least I fit inside a demographic: I heard it said once that most new RVers tend to overpack.

A sage piece of back country camping advice states that everything you carry should have two uses. Why carry a dinner knife if you can use your pocket knife? Applying the same advice to RVing, why carry a carrot peeler if you can use a pearing knife?

This may be, but I still prefer the carrot peeler.

Then there are certain things which just don’t have multiple uses. Like my personal-size blender. Unless you consider iced smoothies versus ice cream smoothies to be “multiple uses.” (I do.) Besides, it’s a very small blender. Right?

Furthermore, there are certain things I’d never leave home without. Like my banjo. Otherwise, I ask you, what’s the use of a campfire and s’mores?! And if it’s any relief, I’m leaving the piano behind.

Even if I fail at packing light, I hope to make smart use of my storage space. My goal, when it’s all said and done, is to have a place for everything and everything in its place, without unsightly messes. We’ll see if I succeed.

Does stacking boxes in the bathtub and closing the shower curtain count? Just asking.

The Beauty of Eggshells

I’ve read I don’t know how many dog diet theories, and they all argue many aspects of dog nutrition, but every nutritionist I’ve read agrees on one thing: you must provide a source of calcium in your dog’s diet. Here’s why: The body uses calcium to digest protein; if calcium isn’t provided in the diet, the body will extract it from the bones.

Rick Woodford in his book Feed Your Best Friend Better states that once you start feeding your dog 50% or more homemade food, it’s time to add calcium.

There are several options available to pet owners.

  • Raw bones (never cooked—they can splinter and damage the digestive tract, big time)
  • Bonemeal (very popular alternative; look for it in your pet supply store)
  • Calcium carbonate or calcium citrate (also ask for at your pet supply store)
  • Eggshells

Yeah. Eggshells.

Molly and I have used both raw bones and bonemeal, but currently we’re on eggshells (pun not intended). So far, they’re our favorite—it’s free! (With the purchase of a carton of eggs.) Also, bonemeal is high in the mineral phosphorous, which is already present in muscle meat in plenty. Since calcium and phosphorous should be kept in balance, the use of bonemeal has the potential of tipping the scale.

Making delicious (?) homemade eggshells is easy. When I crack eggs, I save the shells and rinse them in running water. Once rinsed, they can safely sit on the counter until I have enough to make a batch.

When I have enough eggshells to make it worth my while, I line them in a single layer on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven at 350° for about 8-10 minutes.

Then I pull out my cute little coffee grinder which I bought specifically for the purpose and grind and sift the eggshells until I have a fine powder.

Baking the eggshells is an important step. Raw ground eggshells are like tiny bits of broken glass that can really irritate your dog’s intestinal tract (as Molly and I learned the hard way—sorry, baby). Baking the eggshells produces a crumbly consistency that grinds down to a soft powder.

The proper serving is ½ teaspoon of eggshell powder to every pound of meat. Enjoy!