IMG_2724I recently enjoyed every moist, buttery crumble of the Best Scone of My Entire Life at Nashville’s new Dozen Bakery, located down by Fort Negley.  I chose the pear rosemary, though I was tempted by the cornmeal cherry.  I bought a pumpkin cranberry muffin for “later” (in the car on the way home, as it turns out).  Is it even possible that it was as good as the scone?  Somehow it was possible.  

I’ve been worrying a little about eating bacon after reading a book that I had been looking forward to:


I purchased the book after hearing an NPR interview with Tracey Stewart, wife of Jon Stewart.  She sounded lovely – very cheerful, warm and engaging, very enthusiastic about country life and her love for animals.  As she states in the book:

“Last year it became clear that our family was happiest when we had the most opportunities for animal encounters, so we up and moved from the city to rural New Jersey (yes, there is a rural part of New Jersey).  Our backyard serves as a makeshift wildlife rehabilitation center, our home as a foster and permanent rescue for animals, and we’re in the process of being able to provide sanctuary to rescued farm animals.”

I read the book cover to cover in about 45 minutes.  I can’t figure out if it is written for 7-9 year olds, celebrity stalkers, or visitors to planet Earth.  

If you’re deeply interested in Jon Stewart, this book gives you a chance to celebrity stalk his wife.  It offers some insight into her childhood and career as a vet tech and her profound love for animals, in particular animals you get from a shelter or otherwise rescue.  Be forewarned:  the information she conveys about the maltreatment of some animals raised for human consumption is distressing and would certainly make a vegetarian out of sensitive young souls.  

Mostly this book feels like a primer for alien visitors.  The obvious is painfully articulated, over and over, with regard to dogs, cats, farm animals, wildlife, and nature.  To take just one example:  “Bird-Watching is a Most Soothing Hobby.”  Stewart’s tips include:  Use binoculars.  Bring a camera.  If you love to sketch, bring a notepad and colored pencils. Listen for songs.”  To limit myself to just one more example:  Stewart describes and features illustrations of animals she calls “The Cleanup Crew,” including the raccoon, the opossum, the crow, the owl, the skunk, and the red fox.  The illustrations throughout the book are quite beautiful, but the accompanying information seems designed for someone who hasn’t been through first or second grade or who hasn’t ever been outside.  

The book is pretty sturdy at nearly 200 pages – not readily browsable for a 7 or 8 year old unless he or she is a lot more focused than my kids were at that age.  I can’t figure it out.  It does feature some animal-oriented arts and crafts-y activities like making a squirrel feeder, so maybe it’s designed for those mythic parents and children who read books like this together and then do the recommended stuff together.  If you are that parent, and you want your kid to be a vegetarian, this book is for you!   

Then again, maybe this book is for me too.  Stewart states that “Aside from their rough coats and high-pitched protestations, [pigs] are essentially a smarter version of our beloved dogs.”  Is that true?  She then features the most terrible illustration of gestational crates that some pigs are forced to live in their entire lives.  I might have felt like crying when I saw those.

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IMG_272283a840ab-2b26-43e6-8e3e-051ce4f884acThank you Linda Wei, Producer at Nashville Public Television, for introducing me to Dozen Bakery!  Linda and I sat down to talk about the relaunch of Nashville’s beloved Word on Words, hosted so many years by John Seigenthaler and now reinvented for our modern era and hosted by Mary Laura Philpott and J.T. Ellison.  You’ll want to read the excellent article at and visit the website for more details!  3 minute segments running regularly on NPT, cool Nashville locations, fantastic authors like Gregory Iles, Paul Theroux, Geraldine Brooks, Lauren Groff and Margaret Atwood in the lineup… this is something you want to know about!  Longer, more in-depth author interviews (as well as the shorter segments) are also posted at the website.  Mary Laura and J.T. – with Linda Wei and the rest of the team at NPT – keep it fresh, keep it real, and keep it smart.  These are good days in the New Nashville, when we pay homage to the old and reach forward into the future, book in hand.

Mary Laura Philpott and J.T. Ellison, image from

Mary Laura Philpott and J.T. Ellison, image from

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