I decided to change the title for my Friday posts. Formerly, it was What’s Making Me Happy, but I had borrowed this from the excellent podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, and I thought maybe it would be best to have something different. There is a fine line between admiration and plagiarism, and I didn’t want to cross it.
So now the title will be Friday Favorites, but the content will be the same as I list things that made me happy or caught my attention during the week. Often I list three things, but today there will only be one as it needs to stand by itself.
We received a wonderful surprise in the post from our lovely blogging friend Paz from Armchair Zen. He has written two books about Sasha of the Chukchi Sea that were inspired by his rescue dog Sasha, who blogs here.
The first book in the series is called Homestead.
The story begins just before Sasha is born at a homestead in the Arctic Circle to a wonderful mum who lives with many other dogs and a loving and caring human family. The family have also adopted a dog called Kotka, who had been badly treated by his previous owner. Kotka is very defensive at first and we can understand why he would be wary after all he’d been through.
As Sasha grows up she learns how to be part of a sledge team and they set off on a journey across frozen rivers and deep snow to a trading post at Dezhnevo. They meet other mushers with their own dog packs who come to trade, including a man called Tun. Some of the people arriving from further across the tundra have their sledges pulled by reindeer.
The story is told with a lot of warmth and a great understanding of dogs and their different personalities. The delightful banter and singing of the sledge dogs whilst they’re mushing made us laugh out loud!
We loved the scenery, the adventures when out on the trails and learned a lot about life for the dogs in these remote and cold conditions. We were also given a glimpse of Chukchi culture and their sense of community, even when the people and animals of this community live very far apart. Most of the journeys are more than a day away and include setting up an overnight camp.
The second book in the series is called Lodge.
Sasha and her brother Anchu leave their home to begin a new life with Tun in the second book, an overwhelming experience for both of them to begin with. The way the loving voice of their mother continues to travel with them is beautifully told. They are now part of a new pack and quickly bond with their new team mates and their larger than life musher Tun. Tun appears to have no family of his own and he treats every person and dog he meets like family.
They quickly feel at home at Tun’s lodge and he lets the dogs roam freely when they’re not working. They travel to a larger settlement to take part in a dog race and soon after that their world is turned upside down by soldiers clearing and burning down settlements, leaving the rest of them to flee.
Sasha and the team need to be at their strongest and work together to deal with what happens next. They are reunited with their friend Kotka and the deep and independently minded Larik makes all the dogs consider whether they wouldn’t be better off living in the wild, without the humans and sledges that can keep them trapped in dangerous situations. Don’t think of it as the wilderness, he says, think of it as Home.
We really enjoyed these two books and think they will appeal to dog lovers and people of all ages with an interest in Chukchi culture, sledge dogs and the great outdoors. Scott (Paz) is a great story teller and brings a beautiful sense of balance by looking at potentially difficult situations from different perspectives, even zooming in and out of the cosmos to marvel at the tiny specs in the snow the characters in these stories are.
Homestead and Lodge by Scott R O’Connor are both available from Amazon. He is currently working on his third book in the series called Caravan. We are looking forward to reading what happens next!
A very big thank you to Scott for sending us these lovely books, we will treasure them. Our companion is looking forward to reading Armchair Zen – Gleanings, very soon too.
Wishing you all a very happy Friday and a wonderful weekend,
with love from Eivor, Pearl and Xenia xxx
Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.
Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/2.8 – 1/500 s – ISO 160, f/2.8 – 1/640 s – ISO 160, f/2.8 – 1/60 s – ISO 200 and f/2.8 – 1/15 s – ISO 200.
Cathy Ryan shares a beautiful review of Between Heather and Grass on her blog today. Thank you so much Cathy, we’re so happy you enjoyed it! xxx
Author: Xenia Tran
Published: November 2019 by Holistic Linguistics
Category: Creative Non Fiction, Poetry, Photography, Verse, Book Review
Welcome to Between Heather and Grass – Poems Filled with Love, Hope and Whippets, our beautiful, soulful sequel to Sharing Our Horizon and our second book for whippet lovers, dog lovers and lovers of nature. The book features poetry, breathtaking photographs of the Scottish Highlands, and our two adopted whippets Eivor and Pearl. The majority of the poems are haiku, haibun and tanka, written in rhythm with the seasons. The poems and photographs illuminate each other and are both calming and inspiring, inviting you to dip into this collection many times over.
Between Heather and Grass is Xenia Tran’s second book of verse, complete with photographs of the spectacular scenery of the Scottish Highlands and not forgetting her two gorgeous rescue whippets. The complementary poetry and photos capture the majesty of…
I enjoy the poetry, prose and photographs to be found on Xenia’s blog, Whippet Wisdom, very much. Xenia has put together a wonderful selection of her work in her debut release, Sharing Our Horizon.
If you’re a dog and/or nature lover this could be a book for you or a lovely gift for someone you know, and at the same time you’d be helping rescue centres care for and rehome abandoned and abused animals, with 60% of the proceeds going to animal charities. Inside Sharing Our Horizons there are a collection of beautiful photographs and poems, stunning scenery and two gorgeous rescue whippets having fun and enjoying life in the Scottish Highlands. Beaches, glens, forests, sea views and mountains—this book has them all, the photographs complimented by wonderful tanka, haiku and haibun (and vice versa). Here’s one of my favourite verses…
I don’t usually do book reviews, but this book just blew me away! Like me, many of you followers are dog lovers, Haiku writers and a great many are photographers. This book has it all!
Xenia shares her Highland journey through the seasons with two adopted whippets, a poet and a camera! Beautifully presented in ebook and real book, 60% of the net profits each year will be shared with re-homing charities, what more could you want. Christmas is coming!!!